Africa Prophets

Annual Convention Nigeria 2008

Concluding address delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community, on Sunday 4 May 2008 at the Nigeria Jalsa held in Hadeqa-e-Ahmad near Abuja.

Today, by the grace of Allah, is the 58th Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of Nigeria and also the second Jalsa in the first hundred years of the Centenary of Khilafat-i-Ahmadiyya in which I am participating.

I hope that within your God-given faculties you will have benefited enormously during the three days of the Jalsa.

My sermon and the address on the first day were designed to point out the ways that have been shown to us by Allah and His Messenger(saw). The Imam of the Age, the Promised Messiah(as) has adorned these ways and made them ready for us so that any person who travels on them can reach his destination with ease, just like the efficient administration of a government puts up destination signs on motorways and roads to say that this way leads to such and such a place; or is so many miles away; or gives warning to alert the traveller of dangers on the way such as: “Steep Hill”, “Slippery Road”, or “Caution Necessary”. All these signs are aimed at enabling a traveller to reach his final destination safely and easily.

When God Almighty sends Prophets to the world, He sends them so as to show the right way to those who are lost or have gone astray. The Prophets are sent when people have already lost their way and when disorder is rampant. When the Almighty Allah sent the Holy Prophet(saw). He indicated all the ways that led unto Him, and also raised the standards very high of traversing these ways so as to enable man to reach his destination quickly.

That ultimate destination is the winning of the pleasure of Allah the Almighty.

Not everyone can travel on these ways. Not everyone can successfully reach such destinations. There are some conditions for travel on these ways and for reaching the destination. One needs the proper means of transport to reach such a destination. Those means of transportation are to affirm belief and have faith.

The Holy Prophet(saw) had come with a great teaching but Abu Jahl and many of his friends were deprived of these ways and made bereft of the understanding of this teaching despite the fact that they were the chiefs of their people and were deemed to be very intelligent in that area. But because of their arrogance and pride and because they were conceited, Allah the Almighty rendered their lot evil. As opposed to this, there were many weak ones and slaves including Sayyedna Bilal who became accepted by the Holy Prophet(saw) and because of the strength of their faith, they climbed to those heights that have become the envy of the believers. It was the same Bilal, a slave from Africa, who used to be persecuted who was laid out in the scorching sun on hot days and who had hot stones placed on him and who was severely beaten. Because of his steadfastness and increasing righteousness, when the Second Khalifa, Hadhrat Umar(ra) addressed him, he addressed this former slave as Sayyedna Bilal.

So Allah the Exalted granted the rightful status to those who recognised the right way and tried to walk on it, who left bad ways and read the signs before every time the road split into two directions or at its bisection and crossroad and found out the details of the destination before proceeding further.

Therefore, we must remember that the foremost thing is belief. We have to be filled to the brim with the spirit of righteous deeds and submission and obedience.

In this age, as I said earlier, the true servant of the Holy Prophet(saw), the Promised Messiah(as) has pointed out those routes and has cleaned up those sign-boards that gave the directions for the route. The reason that Allah the Almighty sent the Promised Messiah and the Mahdi was to truly guide mankind that had gone astray with the passage of time.

The Holy Prophet(saw) had prophesied that gradually the Muslims would begin to forget their true teachings and would suffer moral and spiritual decline and then the advent of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi would take place.

So we Ahmadis are fortunate that that Messiah and Mahdi was sent and we believed in him. Having believed in him, it is necessary to make wholesome and virtuous changes in ourselves because Allah does not care ‘who’ is ‘who.’

During the times of the Holy Prophet(saw) the one who was regarded as the most wise and intelligent, as I said earlier, because of his enmity to the Prophet, became Abu Jahl (the father of ignorance) and the one who was a lowly slave, became renowned as Sayyedna Bilal.

So if anyone has a status in the eyes of Allah, it is those who spend their lives in righteousness and in the acceptance of faith and in remaining steadfast in faith.

In my previous address I had also pointed out some good deeds that should be acquired because they are essential for personal, spiritual and national progress. Today also I shall mention a few commandments to which the Holy Qur’an draws our attention.

Firstly, as I had said before, Allah the Exalted is not related to anyone and He has no concern with who is rich and who is poor or who comes from which tribe. According to the Almighty Allah, His dearest is the one who is advanced in righteousness and good works. Regarding this, Allah says very clearly in the Holy Qur’an:

O mankind, We have created you from male and female; and We have made you into clans and tribes that you may recognise one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Ch.49: V.14)

Hence, when people from various tribes, colours and nations are joining the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at today, there is an open sky for them, under which the field is open for each and every one of them, but only he will attain nearness to Allah who walks along the path of righteousness, and who tries single-mindedly to perform good deeds.

There are various tribes settled in Nigeria. The worldly among them consider their own tribe to be superior to the others, or, because of tribal enmity, they try to usurp the rights of one another. However, Allah the Exalted says that tribal and sub-tribal distinctions are so as to enable you to recognise one another whilst you were one people before that. Hence, this tribal discrimination in which some people engage is a sort of trial.

An Ahmadi should pass through this trial, as stated by the Almighty Allah; that is, differences should be confined to a means of recognition and no more than that. If you exchange this for tribal animosity, you will depart from the way of righteousness; and once you depart from righteousness, you will also be removed from attaining the nearness of Allah.

Mentioning this aspect the Promised Messiah(as) has also stated: ‘God Almighty is neither pleased with your mere bodies nor your castes; He always looks at righteousness. The Promised Messiah(as) adds: ‘After death, castes disappear…the castes and tribes are classification tags and have nothing to do with Allah the Almighty. Love for God is created by righteousness and only that leads to higher spiritual ranks.’

When we proclaim that we believe in and owe allegiance to the Imam of the Age who appeared according to the prophecies of the Holy Prophet(saw) it only means that we pledge to re-establish the righteousness that had been forgotten by the world so that the faith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) may be made firm and stable.

In my last address, I stated how important it was for the believers to honour their covenants. Therefore, every Ahmadi, be he a Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, or from any other tribe – or be he a national of another country: European, Nigerian or Pakistani – should remember that he will have a value in the sight of Allah only when he treads the path of righteousness. His distinction will not be by reference to his tribe or his country but by his righteousness.

Remember, a believer is a unit. He is a unit as he worships One God. When the believer was sent into this world, he came from the One God Who created the tribes and nations. The One God is He, Who has also commanded: ‘Worship Me alone Who is the One without associate and to Whom all of you shall return.’

If anyone attains paradise, it would be because of his good deeds and the standard of his righteousness.

Hell will be the same for all those who are hell bound. It cannot be that a person from such and such a tribe earns a lesser hell because of his misdeeds while another person’s punishment for the same offence is more severe.

Allah says that everyone is recompensed according to his own deeds. All the laws made these days are made on the face of it to fulfil the requirements for justice.

It is not written that out of people with equivalent qualifications, preference will be given to a person from such and such a tribe and not to another person. Nigerian law safeguards the rights of the Nigerian.

Likewise, when you go abroad, decisions are based on the principles of merit. It is another matter that sometimes preference is given to some at the cost of others because of personal contacts and nepotism. Nevertheless, as far as the making of laws is concerned, as I have said, parity is asserted.

But Allah the Almighty says that if He is a Friend of anyone, it is with one who is righteous. Anyone who enjoys a rank in His sight does so because of his righteousness and not because of his tribe or nation. As a result, no one can gain undue advantage in His court. The believer should also remember the Divine injunction to take on the colours of God and should fulfil the requirements of justice. An Ahmadi who claims to be a believer must remember to never let go of justice.

He has to use his authority with justice and also be mindful of righteousness. Rights must be given to whom they belong. It cannot be that the right of one from another tribe should be offered to your own tribe because that is far removed from taqwa or righteousness. It is far removed from the ways that an Ahmadi has committed himself to walk upon when he undertook the covenant of allegiance at the hands of the Promised Messiah(as).

Remember, it is your responsibility to honour your covenant of bai’at and to also cherish the love of your country. Never abandon justice. Once you are established on justice and fair play, you will be instrumental, more than ever before, in taking your country to the rank of the advanced nations of the world; otherwise, remember your tribes, power or wealth will be of no avail to us.

The Almighty Allah has been very gracious with Nigeria and has enriched it with many natural resources. You have petrol, gas and minerals such as zinc, limestone, iron ore, and Columbite etc. God has blessed you with agriculture as well. Many crops grow here and much more can be cultivated. Moreover, God gave your forefathers the good fortune of accepting Islam. That is why the majority of the country’s population is Muslim. Then God blessed the Ahmadis in that they accepted the Messiah and the Mahdi(as).

All these favours demand that the Ahmadis particularly should be grateful to Allah the Almighty so that Allah continues to multiply His blessings upon them. Raise the standard of your good deeds. That indeed is gratitude.

When the Almighty Allah blesses a believer with His favours, he advances in his good deeds. Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:

And We bestowed wisdom on Luqman saying, ‘Be grateful to Allah:’ and whoso is grateful is grateful only for the good of his own soul. And whoso is ungrateful, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy. (Ch.31:V.13)

A principle has been stated in this verse. Be grateful for Allah’s favours. Why? So that Allah may bless you further for your gratitude. It is you who will benefit; Allah does not need your gratitude or your praise or glorification. Elsewhere Allah the Almighty states:

And remember also the time when your Lord declared, “If you are grateful, I will, surely, bestow more favours on you; but if you are ungrateful, then know that My punishment is severe indeed. (Ch.14:V.8)

Therefore, if you want to derive benefit from His favours on a permanent basis you need to be grateful or else Allah the Almighty has warned in very strong words: the possibility of Divine punishment makes a true believer tremble. Therefore, every believer should try to understand the spirit of gratitude to Allah. That can only be achieved with real obedience. When you have the passion for obedience to Allah and His Messenger(saw) you will look for the proper method of expressing gratitude.

First of all, fill your heart with the love of God for His blessings and favours. Keep counting His blessings in your heart all the time, and think: how great is His grace that He granted me the good fortune of accepting the Imam of the Age, who is in total servitude to the Holy Prophet(saw); and, Allah has blessed my country with rich resources.

Then resort to glorification and praise of Allah as a verbal expression of gratitude to Him. Express your gratitude with the proper use of powers and capabilities granted by Allah. A farmer, for instance, should farm using all his skills to produce the crop in the best possible way to meet the needs of the country so that it will not be indebted to others for food. A factory owner should set the highest standard for his products, not only to fulfil the needs of the country but also to make his mark in the international market.

If one is a labourer, he should work hard. In short, the best use of God-given bounties and achieving the loftiest objectives thereof is real gratitude. It would amount to ingratitude if those bounties were not used in accordance with Divine instructions. It is the duty of all Ahmadis to pray that Allah the Almighty may enable them and their countrymen to put those bounties to proper use and that they may never suffer a decrease in these Divine bounties.

How great is Divine beneficence over the people of Africa! Not only did He bring about their liberation from foreign occupation but also enriched them abundantly with natural resources. That should make every Ahmadi humble and grateful. They should tell their countrymen that their survival depends upon their being grateful to Allah and creating humility in themselves on account of these bounties. God is sovereign; He has the power to give and to take away.

An Ahmadi will justify his love for the county and for the countrymen only if he lives his life with that approach and guides them aright.

Another important point to which I would like to draw your attention, is mutual love and affection which is essential for progress of the Jama’at as well as the country. The Holy Qur’an says:

… And let not the enmity of a people, that they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque, incite you to transgress. And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah … (Ch.5:V.3)

That is a Divine injunction for true believers: let not the enmity of a people incite you to transgress. The people referred to by Allah are the disbelievers who had committed endless atrocities against the Muslims. He says: you shall not transgress. In another verse the Almighty Allah says that enmity should not prevent you from showing justice and fairness.

When both parties transgress, justice is ignored and rancour starts developing; thereafter, the distinction between believers and non-believers is lost.

We Ahmadis claim, on the one hand, that having believed in the Promised Messiah(as) we have to begin to reform ourselves, and not only ourselves but to reform the society as well, and on the other hand, carry so much malice and grudge as to start avenging ourselves on our own religious and national colleagues. Allah the Almighty says that in response to the actions that your enemies have carried out against you, you should not do anything that shows excessive force by yourself. However, keeping in mind the demands of justice and equity, without taking the law into your own hands, you can approach the authorities in power for an appropriate remedy. This is the conduct that you are allowed against your enemies.

Muslims should be much nearer to each other because they are brothers. Therefore, one who becomes an Ahmadi cannot claim that because he has joined the community of true admirers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) his standard of faith has become higher. Notwithstanding who belongs to which tribe or area, they have to live like two loving brothers do. A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim.

The teaching of justice and impartiality is not restricted to our own kind; it is also for the enemies. As I have said before, since we are taught to do justice to our own enemies, how much more should we give love and justice to our own people?

You are Nigerian! You make a pledge according to the laws of the land to love your country. When the Nigerian National Anthem is played it is obligatory on all Nigerians, irrespective of any religion or no religion, to stand up in respect.

You all have made a common pledge and it is important to have regard for that relationship. It is important to practice mutual justice. When justice is established, the hearts are cleansed of all malice. When malice goes, mutual love and affection increase resulting in peace in the society.

Therefore, all Ahmadis must remember to take care of each other and not indulge in excesses towards any group. If this change does not come about, then the claim of undertaking the covenant of Ahmadiyyat is meaningless.

It is not the purpose of the Ahmadiyya Community to merely increase its numbers. Its purpose is to increase the number of pious people, to increase the number of such people who have the fear of Allah in their hearts and of those who do good deeds. Allah the Almighty enjoins you to love each other. Allah does not say that you should not dispense justice to those who are not Ahmadi or who are not Muslim. Religion is a matter between every person and God. Allah the Almighty says that:

There is no compulsion in matters of faith… (Ch.2 :V.257)

Therefore, although we are enjoined to describe the verities of our religion and to give the message, no force is permitted. One who does not listen, his dealing is with God not you. Your duty is to avoid any excess and, remaining within your bounds, to dispense justice and human rights.

That is why Allah the Almighty says in this verse, that you should cooperate with each other in gaining piety and righteousness. If a person of any religion or tribe calls you to goodness, then an Ahmadi, who has strong faith, should go forward and cooperate. On the other hand, Allah enjoins not to cooperate in any evil-doing and also to avoid being wherever you see any evil.

If every Ahmadi avoids cooperation in evil deeds and stands on the front line of co-operation in dispensing goodness, then the societal peace will be recognised by your name.

What is goodness, a good deed or a virtuous deed? It is any action, any deed that Allah the Almighty likes. Allah the Almighty loves his servants and He does not like His servants to be hurt.

Allah the Almighty says that when you talk to others, you should talk to them displaying good manners and courtesy. He says:

Speak to people kindly. (Ch.2:V.84)

And not that you should only talk to your relations lovingly or that a Muslim should only talk to other Muslims lovingly.

Allah the Almighty says that you should talk to PEOPLE lovingly. Therefore, when Allah the Almighty has so widened the circle of love of a believer, your relationship with each other should be all the more strongly based.

We say that by joining the Jama’at of the Promised Messiah, we have tried to bring about that change in ourselves or we want to bring about the same change in ourselves that was manifest in the Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).

What change had the Companions wrought in themselves? They had raised their moral standard and their standard of sacrifice for their brethren so much that they cared more about their brothers than about themselves. Allah the Almighty has mentioned this in the verse (Ch.59:V.10) meaning that they prefer the others to themselves, even though poverty be their own lot.

Now this is the highest standard of goodness: they did not have enough for themselves, yet their standard of sacrifice was so high that they would share their food with their brothers. When you set up these standards, virtuous deeds spread and personal desires disappear.

In fact personal desires become national interests and then only the national and Jama’at interests acquire priority. When a faithful believer works hard, he does not work only for personal gain, but also to bring credit to his Jama’at and to bring renown to his country. If he helps his brother, it is with the intention that his brother becomes as prosperous as he is himself and he may also get opportunities for advancement.

If instead of helping, you try to sabotage others then you will hurt your own morality and you will also harm the Jama’at and the country. Therefore, Allah the Almighty has enjoined to cooperate in virtuous deeds and righteousness so that an environment of love and affection is created in the society that will, as a result, become the cause for national progress. Therefore, every Ahmadi should strive for this.

One thing I would like to say to the young: in this day and age, when there are many new inventions that instead of taking you nearer to God, take you away from Him, an Ahmadi must tread very carefully as long he claims that he is an Ahmadi. Allah the Almighty says about the believers:

Believers are those ….who avoid vain things.’ (Ch.23:V.4)

In this present age, so many futile practices have become a part of everyday life, and one of them is the Internet that some young people use for wrong purposes instead of gainful objectives. It is commonly used to cheat others and to develop friendships with boys and girls. Sometimes, immoral or pornographic films appear on the Internet, which are not suitable for decent minded persons. Such filthy and immoral films affect the morals of young boys and girls; and many of them ruin their lives because of this.

Some parents also worry about their children, especially about young girls. Ahmadis must abstain from this. We must make positive use of the inventions that Allah has provided us in this day and age. Use it for preaching! Countless objections are being raised against Islam. If Ahmadis from every country start giving replies to these objections, then opponents will have no recourse but to become silent.

I have said this many times that Ahmadi boys and girls should be extremely careful about the use of Internet. Always remember that modesty and chastity are a part of faith and every Ahmadi boy and girl should have a high standard of modesty and decency. Only then will he or she be able to progress in virtue and righteousness; and only then will he or she be able to avoid transgression and excess.

Therefore, every Ahmadi, man or woman, young or old, should always remember that if they have accepted Ahmadiyyat, then they will have to bring about a radical change. Otherwise, what is the use of belonging to the Jama’at of the Promised Messiah the sole purpose of whose advent was to remove the chasm that had grown between man and his Creator and to fill it with righteous teachings. Always remember that we have to make sacrifices for a grand purpose.

And what is that sacrifice? That sacrifice is of our self and of our vain desires. These sacrifices will make us an active and gainful part of our Jama’at and we will become the best citizens of our country.

It is my fervent prayer that Allah the Almighty may bring about these righteous changes in you and that Allah may provide a special rank to Nigeria among the advanced countries.

May every person realise that his country comes first and his personal desires second. May every Ahmadi be the first and foremost in love and sacrifice for his country! May Allah the Almighty bless all of you who have come to this Jalsa and may you be the recipients of all the prayers of the Promised Messiah(as) the prayers that rose from a small village of Qadian for the world to recognise its Creator. May you receive an abundant share of these prayers!

May your relationship with Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya increase and strengthen every day.

Those Nigerians whom I have met or with whom I have been in correspondence, I have found them well-advanced in their sincerity and loyalty. May Allah the Almighty increase this sincere relationship more and more and may I always receive glad tidings from you. (Amin)