An address to leading dignitaries and invited guests delivered by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V, in Canada.
All the honourable and distinguish guests:
Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of you.
First of all I would like to thank all our distinguished guests who have taken the trouble to accept our invitation to attend this function. It is very difficult, I know, being a week day for you all to come here and attend this function.
It is obvious that you are all blessed with a spirit of humanity and high ethical values. It is only right that I should thank people of such high moral standards.
I have been here twice before to attend the Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya movement. Some of you have met me before. However, the event that has been arranged today has never arisen before. I am directly addressing persons who are sympathetic to the Jama’at or who have had personal contact with members of our Community; and there are also some distinguished personalities who have no previous relationship with the Community.
The local administration has organised this function as you know, because the Community is celebrating centenary event in the year 2008. For, after the demise of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, his successors have now completed their first 100 years. His succession is known as Khilafat and with reference to it we are celebrating this Khilafat Centenary.
As I said, there are many amongst you who have a relationship with the Community and know the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at very well. It is a group within Islam, and which, according to our teachings and beliefs, is the Community of the Promised Messiah(as), on whom be peace, created in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).The Promised Messiah(as) was to appear in the fourteenth century after the Holy Prophet(saw) to make Muslims and non-Muslims alike aware of their true Creator and to make them become of those who bow down in His presence.
With the passage of time, certain weaknesses had appeared in the understanding of the teachings of Islam that needed to be removed; similarly, objections that had cropped up against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an had to be responded too. Man had to be reminded of the rights of other human beings. An atmosphere of love, affection and peace had to be established in the world. In other words, the rights owed to God Almighty and to His Creation had to be discharged, in order to make this world become a Paradise.
This brief introduction and clarification was presented for the benefit those who are not familiar with the Ahmadiyya Community, and also so that the fear of Islam which some may hold within their hearts may be removed.
Indeed, when the name of Islam is used, the general impression of it in this present era is naturally of fear. This is not the fault of those who are frightened. Unfortunately, certain so-called Islamic groups and certain others have depicted Islam in such a way that it appears to be an uncivilised, extremist, belligerent and bellicose religion. Just hearing the name of Islam leads to an impression of swords, bombings and suicide attacks.
In any case, the purpose of the tasks I have described and that had been entrusted to the Messiah of Muhammad(saw) – tasks that are to be completed by his Khilafat – are not to be accomplished by force, but through winning hearts with love and affection. It is not possible to attain the nearness of Allah or to discharge the rights of others through compulsion.
The Holy Qur’an very clearly states that:
There should be no compulsion in religion. (Ch.2:V257)
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community has clearly expounded this beautiful teaching. He says:
‘The Holy Qur’an clearly instructs not to take up the sword to spread the faith, but instead to present the individual beauties of the faith and attract others with one’s exemplary behaviour.
Do not think that at the outset there was the instruction to use the sword; indeed, the sword was not used to spread the faith. In fact, it was used only as a means of defence against the enemy or to establish peace. Indeed, it was never used to compel in matters of faith.’
Matters of faith are related to one’s heart. Sacrifices have to be made for the sake of religion. Thus, lives were offered in the first thirteen years in Makkah and even after the migration to Madinah, when the enemies were attacking, and despite being wholly ill equipped, they fought back.
Could a person who had been forced to become a Muslim ever offer such sacrifices? On the contrary, such a person would be greatly pleased if Islam were attacked. He would think that it was good that someone had come to save him. Hence, these sacrifices prove that whosoever became a Muslim, became one wholeheartedly – and if he fought, he fought for a purpose.
And what were those purposes?
Their first purpose was to defend themselves. The enemy always initiated the attack and the Muslims were forced to raise arms in defence.
The second purpose was that when unarmed Muslims were deceptively attacked and cruelly killed, in retaliation for the bloodshed, and as a punishment for the cruelty, fighting took place. This was an Arab custom and was indeed necessary for keeping the peace and continues to be so.
Thirdly, if fighting took place it was to weaken the opposition as it gathered together to annihilate the Muslims just because they worshipped the One True God. If fighting did not take place in such conditions then the disbelievers would have spared no Muslim. In fact, God Almighty says they would surely have pulled down cloisters, churches, synagogues and mosques, and cruelty would have continued to multiply.
History bears witness that whenever Muslims engaged in a war, never was anyone compelled to become a Muslim. Each person had freedom of worship.
On such occasions, the Holy Prophet(saw) particularly used to say: “Do not harm the elderly, women and children and do not damage places of worship,” and went on to such an extent that he said even trees were not to be felled.
The Christians and people of other faiths remained in Muslim states with all of their rights preserved. The Jizyah (that is a protection levy) was taken from non-Muslims and if someone did not have the means to pay it, that person was absolved of paying it. During the Khilafat of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), the second Caliph of Islam, a Jewish person was killed and by an unknown murderer.
Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) became extremely anxious; so he gathered all of the people in the Mosque in Medina and, having invoked the fear of God in them, enquired about it from them. A Muslim present admitted that the murder had been committed by him. So, he was made to pay blood money (with the consent of the Jewish family).
These are just a few incidents that I have narrated; but they are evidence that even in a state of war, Islam requires kind treatment of the enemy; whilst in times of peace it preserves the rights of the non-Muslims.
Had force been used, then these examples evident from the lives of the Holy Prophet(saw) and his successors would never have appeared in history.
The purpose of mentioning this history is to remove the misunderstanding that Islam is an extremist religion. The Promised Messiah(as), has taught us to continue to implement these teachings and also to spread them. As stated in the excerpts that I have just read, the Ahmadiyya Community knows only that Islam which is the Islam of love and affection and which offers a message of peace and security.
Now I will present some instructions of the Holy Qur’an that aim to maintain peace within society. It is oft alleged that Islam is a warlike religion; but in fact, what are the circumstances in which Allah, the Almighty, permits Muslims to fight? Let us see. Allah, the Almighty, says:
And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors. (Ch.2:V.191)
There is no right to initiate hostilities. In fact, you can only fight when you have been attacked. And even here the instruction is not to transgress. What is meant by transgression?
At that time, the opponents of Islam used to mutilate the bodies of their fallen foes. As this was an act of sheer contempt towards the corpse, it was forbidden in Islam. It was also forbidden to kill women and children. It was forbidden to kill religious leaders, priests or rabbis in their respective places of worship. In other words, fighting could only take place on the battlefield or if there was no other choice and they were forced to fight in the town – but even then, they could fight only against those who had initiated the hostilities.
Today, we see that no party acts upon this sound teaching. Suicide bombers indiscriminately kill women, children and the elderly; whilst invading forces drop bombs on towns and cities, and fire bullets in rapid fire. They cause mass destruction to cities and infrastructure. These days every major power possesses an arsenal of nuclear weapons and even poor countries are joining this race. Mankind stands on the pit of destruction.
Whilst the Holy Qur’an teaches us not to harm the innocent, the fallout from the atom bomb causes physical disabilities generation after generation, and so this crime is even worse than murder. After the use of the atom bomb during the Second World War, one would have thought that the world would have refrained from ever again producing such weapons. But in fact, they have continued to develop them and indeed there is a race to develop these weapons of mass destruction.
In order to establish peace, Allah, the Almighty, says: Do not impose unreasonable restrictions upon vanquished nations.
Rather, if the aggressor is inclined towards peace then you must cease firing immediately. Do not then search for excuses and do not impose such conditions that humiliate any nation, because this also leads to severe repercussions. If you are able to repress a nation temporarily, a time will nevertheless come when its self esteem will rise and then the old feuds and battles will start all over again.
Such restrictions are only ever imposed by conquering nations to prevent the vanquished nations from ever rising again.
Fear is instilled in them to such an extent that they may never take a step without the permission of their conquerors and they may always remain enslaved by them. The conquering nations are, therefore, able to keep an eye and in fact spy on neighbouring territories, whilst sitting within the geographical boundaries of the conquered country. Or, they are able to derive advantages from the resources of that country.
Allah the Almighty commands the Muslims that these worldly interests should not be the cause of their fighting. Allah, the Almighty, says:
Stretch not your eyes towards what we have bestowed on some classes of them to enjoy for a short time… (Ch.15:V.89)
Allah, the Almighty, teaches that worldly wealth is but a temporary means that you see. Even if you acquire it, this wealth will inevitably disappear, and not only that but it will leave behind a state of constant turmoil. Thus it is important for the peace of the world that each country and nation derives benefit from its own resources; and it should not look covetously upon the wealth of others.
To recapitulate a Muslim is not permitted to engage in any war unless it is against those people who either prevent the practice and preaching of God’s religion, or they are the cause of destroying peace in the world. Is this not a beautiful teaching for maintaining peace?
Then God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:
And if they incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it, and put thy trust in Allah. Surely, it is He who is all Hearing, all Knowing. (Ch.8:V.62)
So this is the Islamic teaching. There is no concept of extremism here. According to one of the most reliable traditions, in the light of the teachings of Islam, the Holy Prophet(saw) always taught his companions that they should never desire to confront the enemy. They should always seek peace and well-being from God Almighty. This is a most beautiful teaching of peace that has no parallel.
To fulfil the requirements of justice Allah, the Almighty, has ordained very high standards and expects that Muslims will discharge these obligations. God Almighty says:
And let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do. (Ch.5:V.9)
This is a magnificent teaching to maintain peace in society and to end enmities. It is indeed an extremely difficult task to fulfil the requirements of justice in relation to the enemy in the same way as one does with one’s own kith and kin. Yet, history bears witness that the Holy Prophet(saw) did set such examples. He even took care of the needs of his enemies. Once, there was a famine in Makkah and despite the fact that the people of Makkah had cruelly restricted the food and water supply to the Muslims for two and a half years, the Holy Prophet(saw), out of compassion, sent them staple rations during the time of famine.
On another occasion, a tribal leader who had become a Muslim was arrested and beaten whilst performing the Pilgrimage and was imprisoned. Finally, he was released at the request of some other leaders. The region of his tribe used to send grain to Makkah. So the released prisoner said that grain would no longer be sent to Makkah; and he effectively stopped it. In Makkah, there was consequently a shortage of grain. The people of Makkah came to the Holy Prophet (saw) and said: ‘Order him not to stop the supply of grain’. Despite the hostility that the Makkans had maintained against the Muslims, the Holy Prophet(saw) sent a message to that leader, telling him not to stop sending the grain.
This is the practical effect of the teaching which declares: “Let not the enmity of a nation prevent you from acting otherwise than with justice.” This, therefore, is the teaching of the Holy Qur’an and this is the example of the Holy Prophet(saw) .
Now despite all this, the allegation is that the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet(saw) taught extremism and committed terrorism. What can one say? In spite of being educated, these critics are unaware of the teachings and history of Islam. In fact, due to their malice and grudges, they do not want to know; and these are the people who become the means of destroying the peace.
I admit that certain terrorist groups have defamed the name of Islam. Their practices are wholly contrary to this teaching of Islam. Though they use the support of the Holy Qur’an to engage in Jihad and to kill, they forget the conditions that are integral to it. The Holy Qur’an completely forbids the practice of suicide attacks, which cause severe loss to civilians. If there is permission for fighting under certain circumstances then it is for the Government to issue it and not for a few organisations within the Government. What they are doing is not Jihad but terrorism.
Justice requires that to judge a religion, one should view the teachings and the practice of its founder, and one should not base one’s judgment upon the actions of persons who followed much later on. One should not use their actions as an excuse to attack the teachings of their religion, when those actions of theirs have absolutely nothing to do with the true teachings of their faith.
In any case, as I have mentioned before, I will now present certain teachings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community regarding this so-called Jihad and terrorism. This teaching, a part of which I have just mentioned, represents the true doctrine of Islam.
In fact it was the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, the Messiah of the Age, who presented a true understanding of the teachings of Islam, so that the world could recognise its God and could create an atmosphere of mutual love, making this world into an earthly Paradise.
As you are aware, the sub-continent of India and Pakistan remained under the rule of the British Raj for a long time. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community created the Community and made his claim of being the Messiah and Mahdi at a time when the British Government’s rule was at its peak.
Despite the British Government’s total control and rule over India, a very large part of the Muslim population was against the Government and they spread a lot of poison about it. Even at that time, Muslim clerics, Mullahs used their mosques to fan the fires of hatred against the Government. They tried to create rebellion in one place after another. They tried to provoke unrest against the Government.
In spite of his claim that he was the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Holy Prophet(saw) that states that the Promised Messiah(as) and Reformer was to come in this Age – the literature and books of other religions, including Christianity, having also predicted the same – the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community counselling his Jama’at, announced, that the British Government was no doubt a Christian Government, but the fact was that it duly discharged the rights of its citizens; therefore, it was not permitted to take any severe steps against it; and that it was forbidden to create any disorder under the pretext of Jihad.
Great debates were held between Christian missionaries and the Promised Messiah(as) over the religions of Christianity and Islam, and these have been mentioned in his literature. But with kindness and wisdom he always drew attention to the importance of expounding the beauties of Islam.
It was during his lifetime that Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, upon which the Founder congratulated Her Majesty. He further expressed ways to establish reconciliation and harmony between faiths so that there could be permanent peace in the world.
Moreover, he expressed his gratitude for the just nature of the British Government and extended the message of Islam to Queen Victoria. His instructions to live peacefully under British rule were not because of any fear, but were in accord with Qur’anic teachings. In this connection, I shall present some of his excerpts:
“This prayerful, humble one who has come to this world in the name of Jesus, the Messiah, on whom be peace, also feels proud to live in the age of the great Queen of India. Just as the Holy Prophet(saw), the Chief of both worlds, felt pride during the rule of Nausherwan, the Just. It is obligatory upon every person to remember the kindness of Her Majesty on her Diamond Jubilee and, by remembering her in their sincere prayers, to congratulate and to present a token of thanksgiving to Her Majesty. However, I see that this duty lies most heavily upon me. God has preferred for me that for this Divine mission, I should seek refuge in the peaceful rule of Her Majesty. So, Allah the Almighty, has appointed me at such a place and at such a time, where Her Majesty’s Empire acts as a steel fortress for the protection of the dignity, wealth and life of the people.
It is the biggest obligation upon me that I should express my thanks for the manner in which I have been able to spread the message of truth whilst living here in peace.” (Tohfah-e-Qaisariyyah p.3)
He wrote in a book and sent this book to the Queen:
“It is obvious that those who consider others to be following a religion whose spiritual leader is, according to their reasoning, in reality a liar and a fabricator, are the cause of many feuds. And they most certainly are guilty of blasphemy. They use the foulest language against that Prophet and extend it to abuse. And they destroy the peace of the common people, even though this ideology is completely wrong. And in the eyes of God they are cruel due to their foul language…
This principle is most attractive and peace-generating and it sows the seeds of reconciliation and improves moral conditions. We should consider all Prophets who came to the world as being true, whether they appeared in India or Persia or China or any other country; for God has planted their dignity and greatness in the hearts of millions and strengthened the roots of their religion. Their religions continued for centuries.
This is the principle that the Holy Qur’an has taught us, namely, that we should respect the founder of each and every religion whose life has come under this definition, whether it be the leader of the Hindu religion or the Persian religion or the Chinese religion or the Jewish religion or the religion of the Christians. But, sadly, our opponents cannot treat us in a like manner.” (Tohfah-e-Qaisariyyah p.7)
This is an excerpt from his book.
The Promised Messiah(as)further says:
“Those who ascribe to the belief that they should consider the prophets of different peoples to be liars and should continue to speak ill of them, they are always the enemies of peace and reconciliation. This is because there is nothing worse than to cause disorder by abusing the saints amongst people.”
Today, the people who entertain and spread such thoughts about the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Holy Qur’an are certainly amongst those who destroy the peace.
This is not freedom of thought, nor is it freedom of speech but a means of playing with the sentiments and feelings of others, as a result of which peace is destroyed.
The Promised Messiah(as)says in connection with the views held on Jihad:
“The second principle for which I have been appointed is the reform of the incorrect concept of Jihad that is widespread amongst some ignorant Muslims.
So God has made me understand that a prevailing concept of Jihad is opposed to the Qur’anic teachings. There is no doubt that there was permission to fight in the Holy Qur’an… It was based on the fact that those who took up the sword unjustly, murdered Muslims without cause, and took oppression to extremes, be killed by the sword. But even then this punishment is not as severe as the battles of Moses(as).” (Tohfah-e-Qaisariyyah p.10)
Then he goes on to say:
“During the time of our Prophet(saw) the basic reason for the Islamic Jihad was that Allah’s Anger was aroused against those who inflicted cruelty. Whilst you are living under the shade of such a just-natured Government as Her Majesty’s Empire, to resolve to revolt against such a rule cannot be classed as Jihad. Rather, this is the height of ignorance and savagery. As for a Government under which one lives free and in total peace, and under which religions obligations can be discharged in full, to bear ill intentions against it, will be a criminal act and not Jihad…
God Almighty has made me stand on the principle that a kind Government such as the British Government should be obeyed, and true gratitude ought to be expressed. So, my Jama’at and I completely adhere to this principle.” (Tohfah-e-Qaisariyyah p.11)
This is the teaching which is given to us by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in light of the Holy Qur’an. It was given to us by that person sent in this age as a Messiah and Reformer by Allah, the Almighty, who was to establish peace in the world.
I hope that most of you who are aware of the teachings and practices of the Ahmadiyya Community will bear testimony that there is a very clear distinction between Ahmadi Muslims and non-Ahmadi Muslims or indeed others. Indeed, we desire only peace and nothing else.
We want mankind to recognise the Omnipotent God. For this purpose, we are very active in Africa, Asia, Europe and America, as well as in islands all over the world. The service of mankind is our primary objective.
Moreover, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community offers its services without seeking any worldly reward. Nor are we interested in any verbal praise. This spirit exists in the Community because it is linked in the chain of the institution of Khilafat. And at all times, this Khilafat enjoins the members of the Community to adhere to these peaceful teachings. God Almighty sent the Promised Messiah (as) to establish these principles. In other words, today, we do not just float the cliché of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None,’ but are actually endeavouring to put this principle into practice.
I now end this subject with the prayer that all Muslims and non-Muslims carry the fear of their Creator in their hearts, so that they only have good feelings for His Creatures. At the same time, I am most grateful to the Canadian Government and the Canadian people who are bringing together all religions and all peoples openheartedly. The members of the Ahmadiyya Community are also living peacefully here and are free to practise their religion and to openly express it.
In view of this cosmopolitan quality of Canada in which people of different religions and different faiths can live together peacefully, my predecessor Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru), the fourth Khalifa, stated in admiration of Canada, that he wished that “the whole world becomes Canada and Canada becomes the whole world”.
May Allah enable this quality to remain forever. May you, the people and government of Canada, continue to live up to the expectations of justice and to display openheartedness, so that, as a result, the Bounties of God Almighty conferred upon you continue forever.
Once again, I would like to thank all our distinguished guests who have spared us their valuable time.
Thank you again, thank you very much.