After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’wwuz and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba said:
‘Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, today we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of MTA International. Remember, this is the age of the Promised Messiahas and it is about this era that Allah the Almighty revealed to the Holy Prophetsa that it would be a time in which there would be many great technological advancements, including the establishment of the press. This prophecy incorporated not only the printing press, but also refers to the many other forms of media that we see today, including television and radio, as well as the more recent phenomenon that is social media.
Whilst these mediums are routinely being used elsewhere to spread vice and immorality, through MTA they are being used to spread the true teachings of Islam and to prove the truth of the Promised Messiahas throughout the world.
Over the past 25 years, MTA has, with the Grace of Allah, done an outstanding job in conveying the true message of Islam to all parts of the world and has proven an excellent means of tabligh [preaching and propagation] and tarbiyyat [moral training]. MTA’s content is completely distinct from all other broadcasters, as our programmes are those that impart only teachings of morality and piety and are a means of spiritually enriching the viewers.
They are free from all forms of immorality, indecency and impropriety. Furthermore, as modern technology and innovation has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, MTA has, by the Grace of Allah, been able to adapt to the latest developments. For example, as viewing trends have changed in recent years, MTA has kept up to date by developing increased online content through its website and its on-demand service. Furthermore, it is now also making positive strides to utilise social media to further spread MTA content. Hence, through these different ways, the message of true Islam is reaching hundreds of thousands of people through new avenues.
No one could ever have imagined 25 or even 20 years ago, when MTA was in its formative stages, how far and how quickly it would advance and develop. Certainly, if we rewind the clock 30 years, no one could have comprehended the way the message of the Jama’at was destined to spread through MTA. Nonetheless, the use of the media to spread Islam was part of the long-term vision of the Khulafah-e-Ahmadiyya even before MTA existed. Both Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh expressed their desire for the Jama’at to have its own radio stations but, due to certain limitations, this wish of theirs could not be realised at that time.
Nevertheless, 25 years ago, when Allah deemed it to be the right time, during the period of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, MTA International was established as a television channel to spread Islam’s true teachings throughout the world. Using the same means through which others have long used to spread vice and immorality, our Jama’at has spread a pure message of righteousness, love and peace through MTA during the past quarter century.
This is all in accordance with the great promise of Allah vouchsafed to the Promised Messiahas that:
“I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth”
In reality, the human effort involved in the progress of MTA is minimal and is far exceeded by the blessings and favours of Allah the Almighty. Where MTA started 25 years ago as a very humble channel, in which only the Friday sermon was broadcast, its scope soon began to increase under the guidance of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya.
Thus, after some time, it began to broadcast daily service that lasted a few hours and ultimately it became the global 24-hour channel that we know today.
With the Grace of Allah, it has progressed leaps and bounds and through various satellites is spreading a message of truth to the corners of the world. As a Jama’at, our financial resources are very limited, and so in worldly terms it is virtually impossible for us to run a dedicated global television channel like MTA, as the costs are so prohibitive. For example, merely the cost of broadcasting via satellite runs to several millions of pounds each year. Yet, Allah the Almighty has immensely blessed our resources so that we are not only able to bear this huge cost, but have also been able to establish high-quality MTA studios in many different countries where very good programmes are being produced.
Further, where initially we had just one MTA channel, now we have several. For example, in 2004, MTA 2 was launched and each day it broadcasts for several hours in European languages, notably French and German. Furthermore, the earth station, based in the United States, was established, through which MTA broadcasts to North America and parts of South America. Subsequently, in 2007, MTA Al-Arabiya was founded, and since its inception, it has proven an outstanding means of spreading the message of the Promised Messiahas – or true Islam – in the Arab world.
In a region where so-called Muslim scholars have misguided their people through false interpretations of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah [the practice and customs of the Holy Prophetsa] , through MTA Al-Arabiya, our Jama’at has presented the true interpretation of the teachings of Islam. Hence, MTA is lighting a spiritual torch, guiding those who were previously misguided, towards the path of righteousness and, as a result, many Arabs are joining the fold of Ahmadiyyat – the true Islam.
Similarly, last year, MTA Africa was inaugurated, and whilst it is in its early stages, it is already proving extremely beneficial. Whilst most of the programmes for MTA Africa have been produced here in the centre, the construction of our MTA Ghana Studios, named Abdul Wahab Adam Studios, is now complete. It is a fully equipped studio, where recently a programme has even been recorded. Insha’Allah, many programmes will be produced locally in the future from that studio, which will specially cater to the people of the African continent, whilst key programmes produced in the markaz (centre) will continue to be played on MTA Africa with dubbing or subtitling in the local languages. In a similar vein, a new studio has been established in Bangladesh where good work is being done.
These blessings and this rapid advancement is solely a result of the promise that Allah made to the Promised Messiahas that “I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the world”. Make no mistake, the spread of Islam in this era is destined to happen. Remember, the Promised Messiahas himself explained that the gilded era of the Holy Prophetsa was the era of the completion of the shariat. Thus, a universal, perfect and everlasting law was revealed to the Holy Prophetsa in the shape of the Holy Qur’an.
Thereafter, in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophetsa, the age of the Promised Messiahas was to be the blessed era in which the spread of Islam was to reach its climax and we are seeing this with our own eyes. As the true devotee and most obedient servant of the Holy Prophetsa, the Promised Messiahas was enlightened with the true teachings of Islam, and now through MTA, his servants are spreading those very teachings to millions across the world simultaneously.
Today, there are parts of the world where neither our missionaries, nor any other Ahmadis have reached, yet through MTA the true teachings of Islam have most certainly arrived and are having a profound effect upon the local people. In this regard, I receive letters from around the world, from people living in the remotest parts of Africa, Arab countries, North and South America, Australia, Europe and the Far East. They write that one day they were at home flicking the channels on their television or trying to tune them when they came across MTA entirely by chance.
Out of sheer curiosity they started to watch it for a few minutes, and its effect was so magnetic that they kept watching and came to know for the very first time the true teachings of Islam. Alhamdulillah, many such people have come to accept Ahmadiyyat and entered the fold of the Promised Messiahas. As I said, the Promised Messiahas has already given us the glad tidings that this era is the time in which the spread of Islam is destined and we are all witnesses to the fact that MTA is, under the guidance of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, leading this effort.
I mentioned earlier about the growing role of online content and social media and certainly its importance is rising by the day. The viewing habits of people are changing and so instead of only watching MTA on their televisions, many prefer to watch the live stream of my sermons or of certain Jama’at events on their computers or portable devices and if they are unable to watch live, they prefer to catch up online later.
Hundreds of thousands of people watch in this way and so through social media we are reaching far greater audiences than ever before. Just a few years ago, no one could ever have imagined that our message could reach so far and wide, wherein millions of people, in all parts of the world, were simultaneously viewing the true teachings of Islam. We should never forget that this is the result of the great favours and bounties of Allah the Almighty upon our Jama’at and we should never underestimate how fortunate we are.
In respect of MTA’s history, I also wish to pay tribute and thank those people who were here at the start of MTA and who served at the outset. Initially, there were just three waqf-e-zindagis [life devotees serving in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community] serving in MTA and they had no formal technical training. Most of the work was done by volunteers, and whilst some had an interest or a basic level of training in broadcast media, in worldly terms their experience was nowhere near the level required to run a television channel globally. Yet, due to their sincere efforts and devotion, they were able to learn on the job, and so MTA soon became firmly established and has never looked back since.
In terms of staff numbers, in the 1990s there were 88 volunteers who served in MTA, whereas today there are currently over 250 volunteers. In addition, there are now 32 waqf-e-zindagis serving in MTA, many of whom are from amongst the Waqf-e-Nau scheme [program in which parents pledge their unborn children to become life devotees of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community once they reach adulthood], and there are also 25 other staff members working in the centre. All employees are paid only the minimum wage, whereas if they chose to work in external companies they could earn far greater sums.
Furthermore, I am very pleased to see that the spirit of volunteerism in MTA continues to increase, and due to the many hours they put in, the Jama’at is making huge savings. Whilst it costs a lot of money to purchase equipment or to build studios, the fact that we have volunteers ensures that our expenditure is kept to a bare minimum in comparison to other television channels.
Although our contracts with satellite companies remain our largest expense, but even in our dealings with them we observe the blessings of Allah, as we are invariably offered negotiable rates which ultimately reduce the costs of satellites.
In contrast to other TV channels, we do not broadcast any adverts on MTA and no other company or institution could run such a channel free from commercial revenue or state funding.
I recall a few years ago, at a reception held in Los Angeles, the former Governor of California was seated next to me. During our discussions, the topic of MTA came up and I told him how we were broadcasting globally 24 hours a day through various satellites and how my sermons or our special events were translated live into 8 or 9 languages simultaneously. When I told him we were doing all of this without broadcasting a single advert he almost jumped out of his seat in amazement. He was truly astounded and could not believe that we could run MTA without resorting to commercial revenue.
I informed him that MTA’s funding was entirely a result of the sacrifices of the sincere members of the Jama’at and that Allah continued to bless whatever limited resources we had. I explained that, with the Grace of Allah, where other companies spent millions and millions, we achieved the same results at a fraction of the cost. Upon hearing all of this, he was left amazed and apart from him there have been many others who have been left astonished at the way MTA is run and funded.
Hence, we are the recipients of Allah’s Favours and Help and we are witnessing miracles on a daily basis. This is not due to any special quality that we possess or due to our personal excellence, rather it is the result of Allah accepting our prayers and blessing many times over the small human efforts involved. During these past 25 years, we have seen how MTA has transformed from an initial makeshift arrangement, where a small studio was set up with the purpose of broadcasting just the Friday sermon. Now, with the Grace of Allah, MTA has been blessed with state-of-the-art equipment and modern studios from where it is broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our programmes are broadcast globally and some are translated simultaneously into 8 or 9 languages. Furthermore, we have now been blessed with many regional or national studios who all come under the umbrella of MTA. Through these local studios, we produce high-quality content suitable for people from all nations and all walks of life.
For example, we have established a studio in Kababir [located in Haifa, Israel] where our volunteers are making good programmes and the same is happening in France. In Germany and Canada, we have established full studios where programmes are being produced. Similarly, volunteers are making good programmes in the United States. As I mentioned earlier, a full studio has now been built in Ghana where 10 waqf-e-zindagis are being posted, in addition to 46 volunteers and 15 other members of staff. Also, a small studio has been set up in Mauritius, whilst programmes are also being produced by volunteers in Tanzania, Uganda and Sierra Leone. As mentioned before, MTA has established a studio in Bangladesh from where a live programme is broadcast. Over there, we have just one full time waqf-e-zindagi, and most of the work is being done by a team of 55 volunteers.
In Qadian, we also have a very impressive studio and there are many waqf-e-zindagis, workers and volunteers who are serving MTA with great dedication and many have attained excellent skills and technical expertise. Whilst, Rah-e-Huda was previously broadcast solely from London, now after every six weeks it is broadcast live for a series of eight weeks from our Qadian studios. During the broadcasts, our Jama’at scholars respond to the different allegations made against Islam or against the Jama’at and the Promised Messiahas. In Qadian there are nine waqf-e-zindagis serving and 42 volunteers.
Also, in Pakistan, we have a small studio where good work is being done and several programmes are being produced. At the earth station in the United States we have one waqf-e-zindagi serving and six employees, who ensure that the programmes sent from London are transmitted across the region. Further, they have also started a 3-hour delayed MTA service, which caters for the time difference for people living on the West Coast. Similarly, in Australia, the MTA team is working hard and producing high-quality content. But most of the credit goes to an Ahmadi lady, Imrana Naseer Sahiba, who has produced some very good documentaries which have been broadcast on MTA and been well-received.
Thus, the vast majority of the work of MTA is being underpinned by the service of a range of volunteers, comprising men, women and children, spread throughout the world. Their efforts have proven of great value and are saving the Jama’at hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. Given all of this, when we look back over the past 25 years, we can never thank Allah enough for the sheer weight of blessings that He has bestowed upon MTA.
As I said earlier, from its humble origins, where it broadcast for just one hour each day, it has progressed to a multi-lingual international channel, broadcasting 24 hours a day worldwide. Increasingly, apart from the Friday sermon, more and more programmes are being shown live. For example, Jalsa Salanas in different countries are broadcast live on MTA when I am present, whilst the Jalsas of some other countries are live-streamed online. Furthermore, through our online content, we are reaching new audiences and so our viewership is increasing all the time.
Here in London, the MTA International Studios continue to develop and the equipment and machinery is constantly improving. For example, in the past, when we broadcast from any external location, we had to hire a company for the uplink service and we were bound by time restrictions when broadcasting. However, a few years ago, MTA International was able to purchase its own uplink dish and so now we only have to pay a nominal licence fee and are free to broadcast live, wherever and whenever we desire, without restriction. In this way, we are saving huge amounts. For instance, during my recent 6-week tour of Canada we saved in excess of $40,000 dollars simply because we had our own satellite uplink dish present.
Thus, just as we have observed the countless blessings of Allah in all spheres of our Jama’at, we are all witnesses to the fact that He has showered His blessings upon MTA during the past quarter century. This is all part of the Divine Will, as Allah Himself promised to spread the message of the Promised Messiahas to the corners of the world.
How gloriously He has fulfilled this promise and is continuing to do so! Whilst the people working in MTA, whether waqf-e-zindagis, volunteers or employees, are striving to fulfil their duties, the truth is that our output far exceeds our meagre efforts.
The great results we see, are in spite of our weaknesses, and due only to the Help of God Almighty.
Indeed, all the people involved in MTA are extremely fortunate, because where Allah is blessing their humble efforts, they are also becoming recipients of His rewards, mercy and grace.
I hope and pray that in future, more and more Ahmadis from all parts of the world, realise the value and blessings associated with serving in MTA, whether as waqf-e-zindagis or as volunteers.
As the sun sets on the first quarter century of this blessed institution, I pray that MTA continues to progress and furthers its objective to reach the corners of the earth and to make all the people of the world know of Islam’s true teachings.
And as the dawn of the next era of MTA rises, we can never sit back and rest in satisfaction at our past achievements.
Rather, we must march forward with a spirit of determination, sincerity and devotion and understand that it is our personal responsibility to bring mankind closer to its Creator and to inform the world about the need to fulfil one another’s rights.
It is our obligation to tell others that this world is not something superficial or a place for meaningless amusement but that we all have a higher purpose, which is to recognise our Creator and to fulfil the rights of His Creation.
These were the overriding objectives for which the Promised Messiahas was sent to the world by Allah the Almighty and these are the objectives for which MTA was established.
This is our mission. This is our task. This is our future.
From the depths of my heart, I pray that MTA continues to further the message of true Islam and continues its great role in tabligh and tarbiyyat.
I pray that Allah continues to grant MTA with sincere and loyal workers and that Allah’s great favours continue to rain down upon MTA and that this blessed institution always continues to go from strength to strength, Ameen.’