On 22ndOctober 2019, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Fifth Khalifa (Caliph) graced a special reception at the Hotel Adlon, Kempsinki in Berlin to an audience of German dignitaries in which he tackled the issue of whether Islam is compatible with the values of Europe. The Review of Religions is pleased to present a brief summary. The full transcript of the address is published under the following article Islam and Europe – A Clash of Civilisations?
In the beginning of the keynote address by His Holiness, he quoted the definition of civilisation, as mentioned by the Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The material progress and development of a society and factors that indicate the strength of the civilisation include economic progress, the level of technological advancement, transport and intellectual progress. To foster peace through law enforcement and military are also a measure of civilisation.
He then stated that separate from civilisation is culture, which entails the views of people’s attitudes towards social issues, morality and the religious values of a nation. An example of this is the Roman Empire when it was at the peak of its powers due to its prosperity and the way its territories were governed. However, their sophistication did not lead to higher morality. It was Christianity that gave their people a guiding principle based on religion and morality, whilst the Romans prescribed worldly laws. Hence, the Romans gave civilisation, and Christianity gave culture. Aligned together, their supreme influence gave us the values which we have in the West, despite people now moving away from religion.
Concerning the debate about immigration, His Holiness said that the demographics have now altered. Immigrants have come from many countries, but the influx of Muslims has caused the most concern and alarm. Many people think it threatens their values.
His Holiness then addressed the concern of the Muslim influence on the west. He quoted the censuses conducted in western countries which show people are less inclined to religion and belief in God. He said that the rapid increase in atheism is a far greater threat than that of Islam and that religious values are under attack from those who oppose all forms of religion and faith.
The world has become a global village, nothing now remains hidden in the world so people who work in economically deprived countries can see how those in affluent nations live. So they are being influenced by Western civilisation. If anything the Western civilisation is influencing the rest of the world including the Muslim world, rather than the Muslim world affecting Western civilisation.
His Holiness stated that as a Muslim leader, he believes the German people should protect their heritage by halting the decline in religion and bringing their people back to faith and belief – be it Christianity, Judaism or any other religion. Those moral standards should not be abandoned in the name of advancement. Decline in religion in the West is why people fear Islam as they know Muslims stay attached to their faith, but in reality there is no real cause to fear Islam.
His Holiness said that Muslims believe the Holy Qur’an to be final and perfect teaching and it emphatically teaches that religion is a matter of the heart. The Qur’an teaches that there is no compulsion in religion, so there is no need to fear that Muslims will try to impose their beliefs on this part of the world. He said that the hateful attitude of a minority has no correlation with the teachings of the Holy Quran. Governments and authorities should deal very firmly with extremists – be they Muslims or non-Muslims.
His Holiness said Islam does not permit any force in spreading one’s faith and questioned why then do people think their culture is at risk?
The Caliph then presented some of the core teachings of Islam and the human rights it established, stating that there are many myths about the Founder of Islam (sa), the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
His Holiness quoted chapter 4, verse 37 of the Holy Quran which states: ‘Worship Allah and associate naught with Him. And show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and to orphans…
His Holiness stated that here Muslims are instructed to worship One God and treat parents with love and affection. How can such a teaching clash with any culture or religion? Muslims must also treat their neighbours and loved ones with kindness. They must take care of those most vulnerable. One of the key ways to help the poor is through education. Opportunities open up to the destitute through education and they will grow to become beneficial members of society rather than live a life of crime and becoming involved gang culture. This is why the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community lays great emphasis on education.
His Holiness encouraged the rich countries to help weaker nations to build solid foundations. If nations become stable, then naturally the whole region will reap the benefits.
The Founder (sa) of Islam also taught that a person who is not grateful to other people cannot be grateful to God Almighty. Thus, a Muslim must also fulfil the rights of his fellow human beings. How can such a teaching be a threat to Western society? His Holiness stated that it is wrong to therefore suggest that Islam is not compatible in Western countries.
His Holiness then said that some believe that Islam promotes Jihad and enforces a violent law. This is a clear misunderstanding of what Jihad really is. Islam is not a bloodthirsty and violent religion. For example, one person asked the Holy Prophet (sa) to join the Muslim army to take part in Jihad. The Prophet (sa) told him to take care of his parents as they were in a fragile state as this was his true Jihad.
His Holiness said it is true that Muslim armies fought in some religious wars, but the purpose was never to overpower, oppress or compel people to accept Islam, rather they were carried out to protect the institution of religion.
If the aggressors had not been stopped, all churches, synagogues and temples would be under threat. The disbelievers of Makkah wanted to destroy all other religions, but Islam stood up to that to defend all religions.
Muslims are taught not to slay their children. They should raise them with love and affection so they grow to become highly competent and moral individuals in their nations.
Muslims are taught to protect the vulnerable such as orphans. He then addressed the allegation that Muslims do not respect their women, stating that Islam was the first to give women the right to inherit, divorce, among many other rights. Emphasis is laid upon the education of girls. The Holy Prophet (sa) taught that paradise lies under the feet of one’s mother. Hence, women play a momentous role in society. Mothers are the people who have the power and influence to turn their nation into a heaven on earth.
His Holiness stated that various studies and reports such as one in 2018 prove that domestic crime are not linked to any religion, and the same goes for here in Germany. So it is unjust to brand Islam a misogynistic religion.
Islam teaches to respect people of other religions. The Treaty of Madinah was a proof of this as the Torah was respected as a law as well by the Muslims. Islam also teaches that no injustice should be carried out against even one’s enemy, even in state of war.
Individuals and countries these days show disregard to one’s enemies routinely and take revenge them at every opportunity. However the Holy Quran teaches we must remain firmly attached to the principles of justice in all circumstances. After returning to Makkah, the Holy Prophet (sa) told the oppressors that there will be no revenge taken against them and they were instantly forgiven, whether they decided to accept Islam or not.
His Holiness then turned the attention towards the issue of slavery, staying that prior to Islam, slavery was rampant and a normal part of society, yet the Quran taught that slaves have the right to earn their freedom. Today there is no longer physical slavery, but it is replaced by economic bondage. Most powerful nations have developed the relations of a master and slave with weaker countries, leaving them with no choice but to accept the one-sided conditions and it always ends in long-term misery. His Holiness claimed that such slavery is utterly immoral.
Islam also established the rights of non-Muslims for the sake of peace and unity in society. Muslims taught not to even speak against idols as it could provoke them to speak against Allah Almighty. His Holiness reiterated and reassured that Islam is not a threat to Western civilisation and culture. If Muslims go against this, they are unaware of the true teachings of Islam. He expressed his fear that the precarious situation of the world could escalate at any time saying that words can have far reaching consequences. People should refrain from attacking religious teachings of others. Rather than placing restrictions of faiths, the world should recognise that we are one human race.
His Holiness said that we are currently seeing the opposite. Muslim and non-Muslim countries are putting their vested interests first. Opposing blocks are forming and are hell-bent upon inviting destruction. His Holiness said that a host of countries have acquired nuclear bombs. If they are ever used, it will not only be us who shall bear the consequences, our children will suffer as well. Generations will be born with intellectual and physical disabilities. His Holiness questioned if this was the parting legacy we wished to bequeath to those who follow us. Surely not.
His Holiness ended by saying we must recognise the warning signs and change our ways and that we should join together with mutual respect to establish freedom of belief. The Caliph thanked all the guests once again for attending the event.