Africa

Africa is Fast Advancing Towards Enlightenment

Inaugural address from the Ghana Jalsa 2008 in which Hudhur outlines the responsibilities of the people of Africa and their emerging opportunities.

Inaugural address delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community, on 17th April 2008 at the Ghana Jalsa. The Jalsa was held at the new Bagh e Ahmad 460-acre site around 60km from the capital Accra, and was attended by Ghanaian President, H.E. The Right Hon. Mr John Agyekum Kufuor who listened to the entire proceedings.

His Excellency the President of Ghana, distinguished guests, brothers and sisters, peace and blessings of Allah be upon you.

Thanks be to Allah and for His favours that your annual convention is commencing today. I am also most grateful to Allah that He has afforded me the opportunity to take part once again in the Jalsa Salana of Ghana, which is the 78th Jalsa Salana.

I used to participate in the annual conventions when I spent a part of my life in this country. Modest conventions used to be held beneath coconut palm trees by the seaside in Salt Pond. They used to be a reflection of the efforts of the pioneering missionaries of Salt Pond living under very difficult conditions who collected precious gems and pearls – whose value remained hidden from the world of that time – and presented them before the Messiah of Muhammad(saw). But the Second Khalifa of the Muhammadan Messiah(as) was very pleased at this gift presented by the missionaries committed to service; it was as if an inexhaustible treasure had been discovered. It was indeed an invaluable treasure.

Do you know what that treasure was? What were those gems and pearls? They were those who first accepted Ahmadiyyat 87 or 88 years ago and were the ancestors of some amongst you. These devotees of the Promised Messiah(as) came and joined together as a pair here and a pair there. They would gather each year at the annual convention in Salt Pond.

When I first participated in the Jalsa beneath the palm trees of Salt Pond 31 years ago, the number of devotees of the Promised Messiah(as) ran into thousands and was testimony to the fact that these well-mannered and pure-hearted local inhabitants who had accepted the Promised Messiah(as) were the fruit of the labour of the pioneering missionaries who had come from Qadian in India. Allah’s grace accompanied the effort of these missionaries and as a result the fruit was being reflected in its thousands. As Allah had promised the Promised Messiah(as) that He would grant success to his community, during my seven to eight years stay in this country, I witnessed the community in Ghana march forward on the highway of progress.

Then in 2004, when I toured Ghana after 19 years, I saw new avenues of progress for the Ahmadiyya community in this country. Seeing the progress of the Jama’at in the new 15-acre site near Accra, called Bustan-e-Ahmad, where the annual convention took place, I was grateful to God Almighty. Witnessing the sincerity and loyalty of the new and old Ahmadis, I was overcome by feelings of gratitude and praise for Allah the Almighty.

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that your noble feelings that were rich with sincerity and devotion and that flowed from every face – of every child, old, young, man and woman – not only created a deep love for you in my heart, but I feel that it conveyed to many Ahmadis living in far away countries that should you wish to learn new ways of love and affection for the Khalifa of the age, then learn it from Ghanaian Ahmadis. In other words, you set the benchmark for new ways of sincerity, allegiance, loyalty, love and affection for the world.

So, O Ahmadis of Ghana! I congratulate you for you have fulfilled your allegiance to Khilafat. But remember that when two persons love each other, Satan always tries to cause rifts and cracks in that relationship. This relationship of love can only be safeguarded by continuing to seek the help of Allah.

In fact, this bond of love that exists between the Khalifa and the Jama’at is due to the love for the Promised Messiah(as). The love for the Promised Messiah(as) is because of the love for the Holy Prophet(saw) and the love for the Holy Prophet(saw) is due to the love for Allah the Almighty. So, bowing before Him, when we seek the help of Allah Who is the Master of the Earth and Heaven, Who created everything in the universe, Who is the Provider and Sustainer of everything, seeking His help, conscious that we are knit as a single unit, no Satan can cause a rift in our relationship. Just as in the past we have been witnessing the strong bond between Khilafat and the Jama’at and have been consuming the fruit of this relationship, if we maintain a strong relationship with Allah the Almighty, then we will continue to have even more fruit.

I mentioned earlier that in my last tour I saw the new Jalsa site and witnessed the fresh grandeur and the world beheld scenes of your sincerity and fidelity. The new site where this Jalsa is being held today is a new stage to which Allah has conveyed us because of our becoming His humble servants and remaining steadfast in loyalty and sincerity.

It is a well-placed 460-acre site, called Bagh-e-Ahmad (lit. the Garden of Ahmad), close to the town, in fact, on the junction of three towns or rather four towns and close to a highway. Indeed, some years before, the Ghana Jama’at could not have even imagined that it would have been able to acquire such a well-placed and large piece of land. It is as a result of the sincerity and loyalty of the Ahmadis of the Ghana Jama’at with Khilafat and being knit as links in one chain that the Almighty Allah has blessed you with this reward.

So, as I said before, all this is because of the promise made by Allah to the Promised Messiah(as) namely, ‘I am with you and your followers.’ As long as each one of us maintains this bond with sincerity, loyalty and fidelity, we will continue to witness the scenes of progress of the Jama’at. Let no one permit this relationship to fade away. I have great expectations from Ghana and it is always my prayer that may you always march forward.

Perhaps these expectations are due to the fact that I spent a part of my life here. When I was here, I did not for a moment think that I would return permanently to Pakistan. At that time the economic condition of Ghana was also not so healthy: rather it was most poor. Nevertheless, I did not think of running away from this country. In a way, you could say that I considered myself to be a Ghanaian: where you were, there I was. I tried to be a part of Ghana’s progress.

So as I said, I have great expectations from you, because the closer the relations are with someone, the higher is the standard of one’s expectations, even though, due to the office I hold, my relation with each Ahmadi and each country is, and should be, equal. In this race, all horses belong to me. It is my prayer and burning desire that each Jama’at should excel other Jama’ats in their devotion, and loyalty, in their relationship with Allah and in their sacrifices. As a sign of this loyalty and devotion, today we can see almost three hundred khuddam (youths) have come all the way from Burkina Faso on bicycles, just to be a part of this auspicious occasion and so as to get benefit from the Khilafat celebration. This shows the high regard and esteem you hold for Khilafat or every Ahmadi holds for Khilafat. Then how is it possible that I do not reciprocate with the same feelings? Therefore, Ahmadis who have come from the neighbouring territories should not be disappointed or unduly anxious that I have become totally Ghanaian. I make every effort and I pray that I should be everyone’s and should pray for everyone. The bond between Khilafat and the Jama’at is such that each sincere Ahmadi is the Khalifa’s beloved. But before I became a Khalifa, if there was any reference to Africa, I always praised the people of Ghana. You could say that I acted as the representative and ambassador of Ghana.

I always say that I have never had a bad experience with any Ghanaian in general and never ever with a Ghanaian Ahmadi in particular. I always found them to be gentle and loyal. So, today, if I praise Ghanaian Ahmadis, it is their right to merit this praise. I would be ungrateful were I not to thank them for this attitude that they maintained with me even before my appointment to Khilafat. The bond of relationship after that is quite obvious to every Ahmadi and this passion and feeling continues to grow and gather strength.

Today, there will be many Ahmadis sitting before me who are newcomers and many who were either very young when I was here or were born after I left. To them, I would like to mention that early Ahmadis such as Mehdi Apa, Imam Al-Haj Saleh, Momin Korey, and so many others understood the teachings of the Jama’at fully and having understood it, offered sacrifices for its sake. [I hope that the Ghana Jama’at is trying to publish the history of Ghana. If the early history of Jama’at Ahmadiyya Ghana has not been published yet, it should be planned. I would request Ameer Sahib to do so]. In any case, these people always remained sincere and loyal to Khilafat and the Jama’at. They were ready to respond positively to every beck and call of the Khalifa.

They fulfilled their covenants of bai’at (pledge of allegiance) to the Promised Messiah(as) and did full justice to it. When they extended their Salaam or greetings of Peace to the Imam of the Age, they always advanced forth with the message of peace. Therefore, you who are born Ahmadis, can never repay this noble example of your elders with your thanks. True gratitude demands that just as they were always ready to sacrifice their lives and their wealth and never allowed a breach in their oath of allegiance, you too should fulfil your pledges and never break any promise. Only then would you become a source of contentment for their souls.

If your ancestors vied with each other in accepting Ahmadiyyat, then to maintain these pioneers firmly in that foremost rank, you too will have to work just as hard in putting fresh life into your prayers and maintaining your links with the Nizam-i-Jama’at. If you do not do so, you will be a source of shame for your ancestors.

Therefore, always remember that you have to tread along the footsteps of your elders and scale new heights in your loyalty and do justice to your oath of allegiance. In this way, the newcomers — who have no doubt entered the faith after recognising the truth, and who I hope are improving in their sincerity and devotion – must always remember that they will only benefit from embracing Ahmadiyyat when their lives begin to show a reformation. If there were no distinction between an Ahmadi and others, then there would be no point to perform the bai’at and become an Ahmadi. It is no matter of pride to claim that you are an Ahmadi. If you are an old Ahmadi, it shall be a matter of pride if you are abiding by the true teachings of Ahmadiyyat. If you are a new Ahmadi, your bai’at will be a source of pride for both you and me only if you are acting in full compliance with the teachings of the Promised Messiah(as) and the expectations he had of you. Those expectations are the ones that fall under the domain of the Holy Qur’an. What is the domain of the Holy Qur’an? The domain of the Holy Qur’an is that which teaches one to become an exemplary man who discharges the rights and obligations due to both Allah (that is to say) Huqooq-ullah and His creation (that is to say) Huqooq-ul-’Ibaad.

The purpose of this Jalsa that we are holding today, as told to us by the Founder of the Jama’at the Promised Messiah(as), is that we should enhance our religious knowledge and also create a relationship with Allah and strengthen our ties and relationship with each other with love and affection. If we have not gathered here with that aim and objective then our coming here is pointless.

The Promised Messiah(as) said that this Jalsa is not like a worldly fair that needs to be organised just for the sake of it. He further stated that the real purpose for which he planned the Jalsa was the reformation of mankind. How is that reformation to be brought about?

Firstly, remember the purpose for which God has created man. Pointing to that purpose, Allah the Exalted, says in the Holy Qur’an:

And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me. (Ch.51: V.57)

The Promised Messiah(as) says that according to this verse the real purpose of a man’s life is to worship God, gain knowledge about God and to become wholly His. So this is the foremost purpose of one’s life that every Ahmadi should keep in his mind. In another place, the Almighty Allah has told us that man is the most eminent of all creation and as such serves a very high purpose. Eating, drinking, sleeping and sensual pleasures are not the purpose of the life of man; these are animal desires.

Those who do not understand the worship of God, therefore, become beasts or even worse. So remember always that a successful person is one who worships God. Once we achieve that goal, we will work towards gaining His pleasure and develop into persons who are beneficial to others. A real servant of God acts upon His commandments that have been specified in the Holy Qur’an in great detail. An Ahmadi must engage himself heartily into achieving that basic goal.

I will mention a few basic characteristics that Islam wants to inculcate in us so that we become good Ahmadi Muslims and good human beings. Allah says beware of falsehood – for lies are the root of all evils – indeed, falsehood separates you away from the worship of God. Allah, the Exalted says:

Shun therefore the abomination of idols, and shun all words of untruth. (Ch.22: Vs.31)

Allah adds that liars set partners with Allah. They do not worship God; they worship others. If they end up in some trouble, they think lies, instead of God, will save them. A virtuous worshipper of God must always stand firm on truth. If speaking the truth results in some loss, he should tolerate it. After all, one suffers loss for many other reasons, yet one bears it. Therefore, if you suffer loss or even get punished for truth and accept it whole-heartedly only because Allah has equated the telling of lies with idolatry, it will attract Allah’s pleasure towards you because you did it for the sake of earning His pleasure. Allah will reward you for that.

One virtue is patience and forbearance with fortitude. If one is patient, one escapes many evils. Many misunderstandings and quarrels result from impatience. Therefore, an Ahmadi should exercise tolerance and show patience. If somebody utters something that hurts your feelings, tolerate it patiently. If we adopt that policy, many a dispute will be resolved at the very outset. If one looks into most family disputes, be they between husband and wife or between brothers, one finds that they are childish disputes.

There was fighting between two tribes in the northern region of Ghana some time ago. What was that? It was no more than impatience and a lack of forbearance and fortitude that resulted in the loss of life and property. It is the impatience and lack of tolerance that puts the educated and uneducated on an equal footing. The strife we see everywhere in the world today – where people are killing each other and nations have attacked other nations – is all due to a lack of forbearance. The world is heading towards disaster. Ahmadis have to save the world today. For that we will have to inculcate the habit of patience and forbearance so that Ahmadis become standard-bearers of peace for every section.

Then there is the habit of backbiting. What is backbiting? To talk ill of someone behind his back when he is not there is a sin. Allah says:

And spy not, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his brother who is dead? Certainly you would loathe it. (Ch.49: Vs.13)

Thus talking ill of someone in his absence is like eating the flesh of his brother who is dead? And that is something that every man with an iota of humanity in him would loathe. How can we expect an Ahmadi, who is supposed to have very high moral standards, to do such a foul deed?

Once, the carrying of tales and backbiting was mentioned in the company of the Holy Prophet(saw). One of the companions asked: ‘Would it be a sin to say a person had an evil in him even if he had that evil in him?’ The Holy Prophet(saw) said: ‘If he is as you say, then you have been guilty of backbiting, and if he is not as you say, you are guilty of twofold sin – backbiting and telling lies.’

Carrying tales also disturbs the peace of the society and causes separation between friends. Beware of it so that you stay in the forefront in maintaining peace in society.

Then there is dishonesty or breach of trust. Not only is misappropriation of small amounts or not conveying to someone the whole of his goods honestly a breach of trust, but failing to perform your duties diligently also falls under it. When one is working for an agreed wage, one should perform one’s duty with the utmost honesty. Likewise, if an employer does not pay the labourer his contractual wage, he would also be dishonest. Such dishonesty ultimately hurts the country because once a task has not been performed properly, it undermines the reputation of the country.

Similarly, government employees who do not perform the duties entrusted to them diligently are guilty of dishonesty and harm the country. An Ahmadi is expected to keep in view the national interests and the interests of the people always and no idea of dishonesty should ever cross his mind. One of the major rights one is obliged to render in this world is the duty to one’s country. A dishonest person does not do justice to discharging this right.

Ahmadis should remember that if an Ahmadi is not rendering his dues to the country he is not fulfilling the purpose of his bai’at either. Thus you owe it to the country not to be dishonest: neither on a small scale nor on a large scale. Not only should you avoid dishonesty but you should also excel all others in working for the progress of the country. Keep away from disorder and always remain loyal to the government. Excel others in hard work. Excel others in education. That should be the hallmark of an Ahmadi.

Allah told the Promised Messiah(as) that people of your sect [Jama’at] will progress in knowledge. Therefore I advise the youth: immerse yourself in your studies to the exclusion of everything else. Advance so much in every field of education that your minimum target becomes the Nobel Prize. That requires hard work over a long period. When nations want to develop and progress, they make plans on a long-term basis. I pray that Allah may grant you the strength to do so. Remember, it is you who will lift your country up to the ranks of developed nations. That indeed is patriotism and love for your country. For an Ahmadi Muslim, love for one’s country is a part of their faith.

Whether you are a student, employee, trader, government officer, farmer or in any other profession, love for honesty and hatred for dishonesty should be your distinctive feature. From Bawku to Accra, from Berekum to Ho, everywhere, each Ahmadi man, woman, child or elderly person should be recognised as a master of this high moral quality. Only then will you be rendering the dues of love to your country.

You are not only to progress in this good yourselves but also push your co-nationals along as well. We are instructed to excel in good deeds and take along the weaker persons as well to provide them with the opportunities for progress.

All the citizens of this country, be they Christians, Muslims belonging to other sects, or pagans, and, regardless of their tribal origin – Dagomba, Wala, Ashanti or Fanti – being citizens of the country are brothers; and, helping brothers is obligatory. Islam commands us to vie with one another in good works but strongly prohibits jealousy as jealousy leads to enmity – and that incites one to harm others. If you are free of jealousy and malice and spread good, then you will be propagating the message of love. That is how you can render the dues to your country and fulfil the covenant of allegiance.

During these three days of the Jalsa pray for that and ponder over your own condition so that when you depart you remain focused on the efforts to achieve that goal.

I repeat once again. If love for Allah and His worship as well as service to mankind be our distinctive features, we will be real Ahmadis and will witness progress on both the personal and national levels.

I observe that the future of Africa is fast advancing towards stages of enlightenment. The faster and harder you work for that goal, the earlier you will achieve it. The great Ghanaian leader, Kwame Nkrumah, played a big role in the liberation of Africa.

Following in the footsteps of your great leader, you should play a big role in advancing Africa to the rank of developed countries. You should play an important role in elevating Africans to the rank of men advanced in virtues and in bringing them into the fold of the servants of the Holy Prophet(saw).

May Allah grant you the power for that; Amin!