“A Message to the Arab World”
An Interview with Muhammad Shareef Odeh from Kababir in the Holy Land
The 23rd of March 2014, marked the 125th anniversary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
In 1889, 125 years earlier, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian, who claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, laid the foundation for the most dynamic Muslim Community in the world. However, the 23rd March 2014, was also an event of huge significance for all Arabs. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah and Mahdias, delivered an address to the Arab world the translation of which is being presented in this edition. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba (Fifth Spiritual Successor of the Promised Messiahas) had always previously spoken in either Urdu or English. This was the first time ever that he had addressed the world in Arabic.
How the Khalifah of the Promised Messiahaba is Elected
To truly understand the significance of this event, some context would not go amiss. For Ahmadi Muslims the Khalifah is a man of God, elected by people, but in reality chosen by God Himself. In the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Khalifah is chosen by an Electoral Committee consisting of various Umara (National Heads of the Ahmadiyya Community); elders, scholars, missionaries and others. I had the blessed fortune of being a member of the Electoral College during the election of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba as the Fifth Khalifah. I feel it is completely relevant and indeed essential, to relate my experience.At the time I did not envisage any person to nominate, and nor was I even aware of Mirza Masroor Ahmad. When I reached the Fazl Mosque in London (a small mosque which was host to the Khilafat election and residence of the Khalifatul Masih since 1984 when Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifah IVrh, was forced to migrate from Pakistan), I brought up in my mind the image and name of the person who I thought I should vote for. The electoral committee members had lined up outside and I took my position in the line, ready to enter the mosque for the election process. To my disbelief the person I had envisaged to nominate was stood directly behind me. Considering it disrespectful to be stood in front of him, I removed myself from the line and headed all the way to the back of the queue.Right then someone passed by just in front of me and joined the line directly behind where I had repositioned myself. To this day I cannot fully explain what I felt in my heart at that moment. When my eyes set sight on him, I inexplicably and instantly knew that this was the person I should vote for. It was as if a bolt of lightning had struck my inner core. There was a powerful feeling and commanding sensation that sprung from within my heart. I felt that God was telling me that this was the person I should vote for. And that person I would come to know, was Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba.Thus, when I initially arrived for the election I had already made up my mind who to vote for. However, Allah completely changed my way of thinking and inspired me to vote for someone else. He inspired me to vote for Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba. Other members of the electoral committee would later relate that they were also inspired through dreams and visions to vote for Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba. And this is how the Khalifah of the Promised Messiahaba is indeed chosen by God.
Preparing the Arabs
Under the Khilafat of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the Arab people have been especially blessed. This era has witnessed a sharp rise in people from the Arab world accepting the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdias and entering Ahmadiyyat – the True Islam. Under this Khilafat, work to translate all the books of the Promised Messiahas (compiled in the collection called Ruhani Khazaain, or ‘Spiritual Treasures’) into Arabic has been completed; an astonishing achievement given that the Promised Messiahas wrote over 88 books in his lifetime. Whilst work in other languages continues, Arabic is the only language in which all the books of the Promised Messiahas have been translated.
The importance of the delivery of the message of the Promised Messiahas in Arabic to the Arabs, cannot be overestimated. Because the Holy Qur’an was revealed in Arabic, Arabs find it very difficult to digest matters of spiritual relevance unless they are in Arabic. The Promised Messiahas wrote in Hamamtul Bushra in Arabic of his deep love for the Arab people and his longing to visit them. He received the revelation that he would be particularly successful towards Arabs in his mission. We appear to be witnessing the fulfilment of this under the leadership of this Khalifat. There appears to be a link with another revelation that was revealed over 100 years ago by God to the Promised Messiahas – ‘Inne Ma’ka ya Masroor’ (I am with you O Masroor’). The fact that this revelation was in Arabic seems to connect with the huge success of the mission for the Promised Messiahas particularly with Arabs in this era, the era of the 5th Khilafat of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba.
In short, the point that I wish to highlight is that God does as He Wills. He appointed Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba as the Khalifah. And it seems God so willed that the progress of Ahmadiyyat, the revival of the true Islam, amongst Arabs, was destined to take off in this era. Other circumstances support this notion that the beginnings of a spiritual revolution amongst Arabs through Ahmadiyyat was set to commence.
Launch of a Ground-breaking TV Channel for the Arab World
One day during an informal discussion in his office, His Holiness suggested the idea to launch a TV channel in Arabic on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA) – the official satellite TV station of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which already hosts MTA 1 and 2 in English, Urdu and other languages. Our immediate response was to recommend that we should not proceed with such a huge venture, as we felt that it was seemingly impossible to do so. There are only a small number of Arab Ahmadis – how could we possibly run a 24-hour TV Station in Arabic? Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the Khalifah of the Promised Messiahas, however decided that it would go ahead. In August 2005, MTA International launched the first ever satellite channel in Arabic that opened regular interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians – MTA 3 Al-Arabiyya.
One of the flagship programmes on the channel is Al-Hiwar al Mubashir, which literally means ‘Direct Dialogue without any Barriers’ and targeted Arabic speakers in the Middle East. Later on the programme was extended to include dialogue with Muslims as well. Al Hiwar’s aim was to present the true teachings of Islam in an unbiased way through free speech, discussion and dialogue. The popularity of the programme with Middle Eastern viewers was unexpected and unprecedented and reports were received from even those opposed to Ahmadiyyat that the programmes were provoking discussion among ordinary non-Ahmadis going about their everyday duties, on buses, on trains and in cafes. Part of the reason for this was that the Al Hiwar al Mubashir discussed topics previously considered taboo among Muslims and generated a huge response from Arabs across the Middle East. As in the time of the Promised Messiahas,Muslims who had previously converted to Christianity began returning to Islam, once they heard the truth about its beautiful teachings.
However, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is abhorred by many mainstream Muslims. Persecution and suppression has always been a tactic used against Divine Communities since time immemorial. Nile Set, based in Egypt, undoubtedly due to external high-level pressures, shut down MTA 3 Al-Arabiyya in an attempt to block our voice. This was a huge and unprecedented incident that attracted international interest. How ironic that the Ahmadis were playing the most prominent role in curbing the tide of Christianity in the Arab world, by presenting the true, rational and peaceful image of Islam, yet other Muslims decided to restrain our voice. Regardless, at the time we were extremely worried, and when I went to meet with His Holiness in London, he mentioned the verse of the Holy Qur’an: ‘… so their Lord destroyed them completely because of their sin, and made it (destruction) overtake all of them alike.’
A few days later, news media prominently reported that two fibre links deep in the Red Sea were inexplicably broken off, effecting millions of people in Egypt. This was surely a sign of God’s Support. They may have tried to shut us down, but God continued with His plan. After we re-launched, we gained more success than ever before. Alhamdullilah (All Praise belongs to Allah).
A Warning Regarding the ‘Arab Spring’ Ignored
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V’saba love for the Arab people was further demonstrated when many years ago, at the very beginning of the unrest in the Arab world, he warned in an hour long Friday Sermon of the dangers of the Arab uprising, later termed by the West as the ‘Arab Spring’. While the world celebrated the masses rising up against their tyrannical leaders, His Holiness warned them of the consequences of these uprisings in his Friday sermon of April 1st 2011.
His Holiness warned at the beginning of the Arab Spring that it would only lead to a cycle of violence and cruelty. The new leaders would continue their oppression and Muslims ultimately would suffer the most. His Holiness said the Holy Qur’an states: ‘Allah…forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and transgression.’ This verse refers to one who usurps the rights due to others or exceeds in rightful dues. If rulers or the public transgress in this respect they would break the boundaries set by God. His Holiness explained that the Promised Messiahas said:
“O Muslims! If you encounter mutual disagreement of any kind, entrust the matter to God and His Prophet for judgement. If you believe in the Day of Judgement then take this course, for this is the most excellent interpretation.”
His Holiness explained that the judgement of God and His Prophet is not to rebel, no matter what sort of worldly situation is faced.
The world has tragically witnessed the consequences of disobeying this warning by His Holiness. The initial happiness caused by the fact that the cruel dictators were removed; quickly turned sour as people realised that the new governments and leaders were no different to the previous leaders; in fact, some were even crueller than the people they replaced. Arab rulers and their subjects have pitted themselves against one another and the Middle East is now in complete disarray. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been killed in Syria, Egypt and other countries. Muslims continue to kill other Muslims. The masses do not fulfil the rights of the rulers and the new rulers commit injustices against their own citizens. Meanwhile, external and foreign forces continue to interfere due to their vested interests.
Listen to the Voice from the Heavens
The Prophet Muhammadsa had prophesied the appearance of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, whose advent would occur in the latter days when the Muslims would find themselves in complete turmoil and would be only paying lip service to the faith. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas claimed to be that very Chosen One sent by God and he established the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1889 under Divine Guidance to connect mankind with God and to inculcate all peoples to display love and compassion to one another. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, I had the blessed opportunity to be asked to present three programmes in Arabic from the birthplace of the Promised Messiahas in Qadian, India, which described the life of the Promised Messiahas and where he lived and prayed.
The climax of this three-day programme was a special message in Arabic read out by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba. I truly believe the foundations for a spiritual revolution in the Arab world has been laid. A direct invitation has been issued in the language of the Arabs. It is now up to the Arabs to respond to this call. To conclude I quote the title of this live programme:
‘Listen to the Voice from the Heavens! The Messiah has Come, The Messiah
Interview by Amer Safir
1. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Shams, Verse 15.
2. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Nahl, Verse 91.