The Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, has extended a huge honour, blessing and privilege to the Al-Qalam Project as it draws to its conclusion, by penning the entire opening chapter, Surah Al-Fatihah. The scroll which His Holiness blessed with his writing will be part of a special display in the Al-Qalam marquee at Jalsa Salana UK 2018 (Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community). The Al-Qalam Project will produce the first Qur’an that will be collaboratively penned by over 6000 people and was founded by Razwan Baig, one of the largest private collectors of Islamic manuscripts in the UK.
This marks a colossal milestone in a journey which has seen this unique project travel around the world to Canada, India, Germany and the UK and has seen people from all walks of life, religions and nationalities participate. Women and men have had equal opportunity to contribute.
His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba follows an incredibly busy schedule on normal days. In the days leading up to the Jalsa Salana this schedule becomes even busier. Thousands of guests arrive from around the world who have the chance to meet him in private audiences. His Holiness is also preparing to deliver no less than 5 speeches at the convention. He also oversees many of the administrative arrangements personally throughout the year, and he formally inspected the various sites recently.
In short, His Holiness taking time out from his extremely hectic engagements at any time, let alone just before the Annual Convention, to carefully pen the entire opening Chapter for the Al-Qalam project – even writing the special Arabic symbols known as I’raab (diacritics) with each letter – is something that all those involved in the Al-Qalam project will forever be indebted towards. It is a reflection of the phenomenal character and personality of His Holiness. His Holiness’ love and passion for the Word of God, the Holy Qur’an shines evidently through this. His Holiness once said:
‘Our true guiding light is, and always will be, the Holy Qur’an and that our true role model is the Holy Prophet of Islamsa.’
On another occasion His Holiness said:
‘Every moment of your lives should be governed by the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the blessed practice of the Holy Prophetsa.’
No doubt the huge support His Holiness has shown towards the Al-Qalam project is out of this unwavering love and devotion to the Holy Qur’an.
I spoke to Razwan Baig, Founder of the Al-Qalam project, looking back at His Holiness’ amazing support. Razwan Baig has been generously supporting The Review of Religions with his stunning collection of Islamic artefacts and rare Qur’ans for many years and is a great friend and colleague. He approached me one day after one of our first collaborative projects at Jalsa Salana UK, with his unique vision for this Qur’an writing project (which had no name to it yet) and suggested a collaboration with The Review of Religions to help launch it globally. Read Razwan Baig’s full story.
I was initially hesitant and unsure how it could proceed, considering the sacred nature of this Holy Book, and suggested I would arrange an audience to seek guidance from His Holiness, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Reminiscing on the first mulaqat (private audience) when we were blessed with being in the company of His Holiness and the idea was presented to his Holiness, Razwan Baig said:
‘His Holiness then enquired how long it would take to for the Qur’an project to reach completion. Whilst replying to His Holiness, I was overcome with emotion and had tears in my eyes. I said that if one verse was written every day, it would take approximately another 14 years to finish, but that I would love to complete this endeavour during my lifetime! His Holiness smiled and said that he could give me 30,000 people to write this Qur’an. Overcome with joy I asked how that would be possible, and His Holiness then instructed The Review of Religions to launch the Qur’an writing project at their exhibition at Jalsa Salana UK.’
Subsequently His Holiness gave directions for The Review of Religions to host the Al-Qalam at Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) in UK, Canada, Qadian (India) and Germany. Here I would like to also especially thank the various team members of The Review of Religions who have been instrumental in setting up the Al-Qalam Project at venues across the world.
Initially mainly Ahmadi Muslims took part in the Al-Qalam project. During the Annual Convention of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Germany 2016, the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Germany, Abdullah Wagishauser, asked His Holiness if non-Muslims could also take part. His Holiness’ response was beautiful. He said that the Qur’an is not exclusive to Muslims; rather it is a Book for all mankind and therefore anyone, regardless of their beliefs, could contribute. Since then many non-Muslims have also taken part.
This reminds me of His Holiness’ brilliant explanation in one of his addresses, of the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Fatihah, the chapter which His Holiness also penned for the Al-Qalam Project. His Holiness said:
‘…the very first chapter of the Holy Qur’an, which Muslims believe to be the Word of God revealed to the Founder of Islamsa, states that Allah the Almighty is the “Lord of all the worlds.” As such, Allah the Almighty is the God not only of Muslims, but is also the God of Christians, Jews and the people of all faiths and indeed the people who hold no faith and do not even believe in His existence. Thus, Allah is the ultimate Provider and Sustainer for all of mankind and He has showered his grace and mercy upon all people, no matter their caste, creed or colour.’
It is clear from the above quote why His Holiness immediately said that the Al-Qalam should be open to all people regardless of background. At the London Book Fair non-Muslim publishers historically took part in the Al-Qalam project from all over the world, many describing it as a very spiritual experience.
Razwan Baig further commented on this amazing milestone:
‘His Holiness has kept the Al-Qalam scroll with him in his office almost since the beginning of this project when we had humbly requested his contribution for it – on a few occasions we asked His Holiness if he could kindly pen his verse. His Holiness said he thought about doing it every day but due to his schedule was unable to and finally when it is about to finish – His Holiness returned it with his blessed contribution. He took out so much time from his busy schedule near Jalsa to do this. Words cannot describe the emotions I am going through. This is one of the most special moments in my life. I will be forever grateful to my beloved Huzur (His Holiness)!’
When I was called to retrieve the scroll a few days ago with the writing of His Holiness and took it back to The Review of Religions office, it so happened that no one was present from our staff. It took me a few minutes to have the courage to open it and take it out as it was a very spiritual experience, knowing that the 5th Khalifa (Caliph) of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas had written the entire opening chapter with his own hands. I immediately phoned Razwan Baig to tell him the news. He said, ‘I am absolutely stunned! Congratulations and may Allah bless this! I won’t be able to sleep until you send me a picture of the scroll with the writing of His Holiness, please send it straight away so my heartbeat returns to normal!’
A few days later Razwan Baig and I were blessed with an audience with His Holiness to take a guest from China, Haji Noor Deen as part of the upcoming ‘Islam in the East’ Exhibition. His Holiness graciously allowed us to have a picture with him along with the blessed scroll.
Is it too late to take part in the Al-Qalam Project?
Many people have been contacting us on social media, on the phone or approaching us in person from all over the world asking that now the Al-Qalam project is reaching its end, how can they participate or is it too late? Rest assured, it is not too late! Recently His Holiness gave us instructions that due to the high demand of people wanting to do the Al-Qalam project, we should establish a permanent base in Baitul Futuh Mosque (Headquarters of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK) for the Al-Qalam project. In assigned timings on set days, both men and women will be able to come and pen a verse of a new phase of the Al-Qalam project to produce another Qur’an written by people. We have been working with the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, Rafiq Hayat and his administration and also in collaboration with Razwan Baig. Anyone will be able to come and take part in the Al-Qalam Project. The timings will be announced just after the Jalsa Salana UK (Annual Convention).
The Al-Qalam project will run at the upcoming Jalsa Salana UK (Annual Convention) as normal on all 3 days (see www.rorexhibition.org for more information).
More About the Author:
Syed Amer Safir is Chief Editor and Manager of The Review of Religions.