Each week, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community around the world are blessed to have virtual meetings with His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The Review of Religions has the honor of presenting to its readers some excerpts from these weekly meetings, taken from ‘This Week With Huzoor‘ aired on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA).
Virtual Meeting with Students from Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghana
The first meeting of the week was held on December 5, 2020 with students from Jamia Ahmadiyya [missionary training institute] International Ghana. The meeting lasted for seventy-five minutes, during which students hailing from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Jordan and Kazakhstan had the blessed opportunity of meeting His Holiness (aba).
The Caliph’s (aba) Favorite Ghanaian Foods and Fruits
Ghana holds a very special and dear place in the heart of His Holiness (aba), seeing as he spent eight years there as a life devotee of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Not only did he serve as a life devotee, but this was also where he began to raise his children and young family as well. It was evident from the way that His Holiness (aba) spoke of Ghana, that his memories were vivid and fond.
For example, one student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Your Holiness has eaten various Ghanaian foods; which of these foods did you like the most and is there fruit from any particular area of Ghana which you remember the most?’
His Holiness (aba) responded,
‘I have eaten fufu with okra soup, kenkey, as well as plantain. During my time in Ghana, the conditions of the country were not very good. In the afternoon, the Ghanaians would roast a few pieces of plantain and about eight to ten groundnuts and have that for lunch; but Allah Almighty bestowed His grace and blessings upon us. Although, people [who were not from Ghana] did not like Ghanaian food, but I liked Fufu and Okra soup and had no problem eating it. The jollof rice in Ghana is also very good… In fact, when my children were young, they very much liked to eat kenkey.
As far as the fruits are concerned, every type of fruit in Ghana is very nice. The best fruit in Ghana is pineapple, which is generally sour [elsewhere], however when I was in Esakyir, I found that along the road leading towards Mankessim, there is a small village called Ekudsi… the pineapples in Ekudsi are the best in all of Ghana. They are very sweet, and so I really liked the pineapple of that area. I also like the manner in which the Ghanaians eat the oranges; first, they peel a bit of the skin off from the top and then they gently squeeze the orange and suck it. Hence, all of these [fruits] are very nice. The bananas in Ghana are also very nice and I even had some growing in my garden. In fact, there are various types of bananas that grow there; red bananas, small bananas and large bananas and also yellow ones. When I was in Ghana, once the Third Caliph (rh) visited the country and I presented him with some small red-coloured bananas. The Third Caliph (rh) inquired as to what they were, and was unsure if they would have a good taste, however, I requested him to try them and said that they were very delicious. Thus, I gave him a banana which was very small and red, and the Third Caliph (rh) ate it, after which he said that indeed, it was very delicious. Then, there is also passion fruit in Ghana which is very good. Then for salads, there were avocado pears, and we also had an avocado pear tree in our garden. Hence, there are countless [fruits] in Ghana.
When the [economic] situation in Ghana was quite bad, the Fourth Caliph (rh) once wrote to me saying that the conditions in Ghana were not good, and inquired, ‘Do you find anything to eat which you like as you are quite fond of certain foods?’ I informed him that the food there was very good and that he should come and visit us – this was prior to his Caliphate as he had not yet become Caliph – I told him that he should visit us and we would offer him all kinds of fruits, such as bananas, oranges and pineapples. Upon this, the Fourth Caliph (rh) replied that I had named such fruits which they did not even have in Pakistan, thus, there are many excellent [fruits] in Ghana. Pineapple is generally quite expensive and is a very sought after and coveted fruit, however, we would go to Ekudsi and purchase it for 1 Cedi and eat it. Perhaps, now it is more expensive.’
Exemplary Patience of the African People
Having spent so much time in Africa, along with having visited various African countries during his Caliphate as well, the students were eager to hear some interesting accounts which His Holiness (aba) experienced during his time there. Thus, one student asked, ‘Can you recount any interesting incidents from the time you lived in Ghana?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘…an interesting incident is that once the Third Caliph (rh) visited Ghana whilst I was there. My wife and I were assigned the duty of looking after the hospitality and food arrangements for the Third Caliph (rh), hence we would stay with him during his tour in order to tend to the food arrangements and we really enjoyed this trip. On the day that the Third Caliph (rh) arrived, many people had gathered in Osu, Accra [at the mission house]. When the Third Caliph (rh) came outside and began to deliver a brief address, he had only just started to greet the people when all of a sudden, it began raining heavily. The Third Caliph (rh) remained standing there in the rain, and although a security guard was holding an umbrella over him, the rain was so heavy that his shalwar and uchkin [traditional South Asian attire] were completely soaked. Similarly, no one from among the women, men and children moved from their places at all. The Third Caliph (rh) was extremely impressed by the great patience and resolve shown by the Ghanaians, in that, they did not move from their places and instead calmly listened to the words of their Caliph. This was an extraordinary incident.
Similarly, I should mention that it was also raining heavily during the days I was visiting Tanzania in 2005. During the Jalsa Salana, when I was delivering an address to the ladies, so much water had accumulated on top of the canopy that it ripped and the water came gushing down with a splash upon all the women sitting there; yet not a single woman moved from her place in the slightest and they remained seated patiently. Therefore, by the grace of Allah, Africans possess a great deal of patience and resolve, and are also very disciplined if they wish to be… [the African people] are very disciplined, and this discipline is something which they should continue to maintain. Therefore, for all of you who are becoming missionaries, it is your task, that aside from teaching the next generation about religion, you must also tell them that Islam teaches us to be disciplined. When discipline is firmly established, it then enables nations to go on and prosper. God-Willing, when it comes time for Africa to flourish, the Ahmadiyya Community will play a vital role; therefore discipline is of great importance. Furthermore, Africans have outstanding natural qualities, which need only to be harnessed and organised. If they become organised, then God-Willing, Africa will rule the world, and you must play your roles in order to achieve this.’
Advice for Students
Student life, no matter the subject or field, can be challenging. With balancing studies and wanting to do well, along with other interests and family life, students may often feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to effectively get everything done. In response to one question in this regard, His Holiness (aba) gave advice which applies not only to Jamia students, but can apply to students in any field of study. A student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘How can we develop the habit of studying [effectively]?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘In order to achieve anything, one must develop firm resolve. You should make a timetable and for the first week, note down everything you do from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. Write whatever you have done; whether you went to the washroom to perform ablution, or went to the toilet etc, and also note down the time of whatever you do from morning to evening. Make a note of all your daily activities for one week. Alright? Then you should check and see how much time you wasted and how much time was spent in productive work. You should see how much time was spent on the vital things which were necessary and how much time you wasted doing things guised as being ‘important’, and then analyse this. Once you have done this for one week, then you should make a new timetable for the next week after having assessed what your shortcomings were, as well as the positive aspects of your daily routine and utilizing your time in the most effective manner. Based on this, you should make a timetable and write down what time you will wake up, that you will offer the Tahajjud prayer, then offer the Fajr prayer, and then recite the Holy Qur’an. If you wish to utilise your time more efficiently then, for example, when you wake up to offer the Tahajjud prayer, on occasions, there is some time between the time when the Tahajjud prayers end, and before the time for Fajr prayer begins; during this time, you can recite the Holy Qur’an or study the Tafseer [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an], thus you should utilise this time. Afterwards you must recite the Holy Qur’an, then you have to go to Jamia for your lessons, or if there is some time before that, you can sleep for a little while. Then you prepare to go to Jamia where you have your lessons for the day. After Jamia finishes, you have allocated times for study, sports, dinner, and the evening study time; you should write all of this down in your timetable. Include the compulsory tasks from the Jamia timetable that you make, along with the voluntary tasks in your timetable. Then try to follow this timetable and you will then know how much time you have allocated for your studies and how much you have to study.’
How Can Students Manage Their Sleep?
Similarly in student life, finding time to sleep an adequate amount can become challenging. Often times, students will find that they may be depriving themselves of a healthy amount of sleep in order to keep up with their studies. One student asked His Holiness (aba) the most effective way of managing sleep as a student when he asked, ‘Due to the routine in Jamia, there is little time to sleep, so Beloved Huzoor (aba), how much should a Jamia student sleep?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘If you remain asleep, then how will you win over the world?… Where are you from? (Jamia Student: I am from Jordan). If you wish to conquer Jordan, as well as the rest of the Arab world, then how are you going to do so if you remain asleep? What will you achieve in life if you remain asleep? Just as I just mentioned to another student, you should make a timetable with set timings. Allocate six hours in it for sleep, as six hours of sleep are plenty, and one can easily find six hours if they manage their time correctly. If you utilise your time effectively, rather than wasting your time with idle conversations, watching TV, aimlessly playing and watching games on your tablets, or trying to evade the [rules of the] administration, then you will easily find six hours for sleep.’
Will His Holiness (aba) Visit Ghana Again?
No doubt, Ahmadi Muslims all around the world wish for their beloved Caliph (aba) to visit their country, but the bond between His Holiness (aba) and Ghana is special due to his ties to the country. Thus, one student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Does Your Holiness (aba) have any plans to visit Ghana?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘My plan is to visit all of Africa, so pray to Allah Almighty that the situation improves and I am able to do so, and then I can also visit Senegal. If the circumstances permit, I shall also visit Senegal, God-willing. Some of the ministers and high-ranking dignitaries of Senegal came here during the Jalsa and also in Germany. I told them that I would try to visit and they had also invited me. So, God-willing I shall visit Ghana and Senegal as well, along with wherever else God Almighty takes me. I have a keen desire to do so, but it is up to the Will of God.’
Greatest Proof for the Existence of God? – Dawkins’ Response…
Whether in Western countries or the African continent, there is similarity in the fact that there continues to be a conversation, or lack thereof, when it comes to the existence of God. With the drive to achieve worldly pursuits increasing all over the world, many deviate from the most fundamental path of belief in God. In a world where more and more people continue to turn away from God, one of the foremost and primary responsibilities of missionaries of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community all around the world, is to help humanity realise the existence and Unity of God. Thus, one student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘What is the strongest proof that we can present to those who do not believe in God, in order to prove to them that He exists?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘Those who do not believe in God, do not even wish to even listen [to the proofs for His existence]. The strongest proofs for the existence of God are personal experiences with Him. Tell them, ‘You say that God does not exist. I say there is a God as I asked of Him and He gave me what I prayed for.’ Have you not had any of your prayers answered? Have you ever supplicated and it was accepted? (Jamia Student: Yes). So, say to those who claim that there is no God, ‘I asked of God and He granted what I asked for. So I have personally experienced God Almighty; how then, can I say that God does not exist? If you also make an effort, then you can find God as well.’ But those people who do not believe in God can be very stubborn… There is an atheist here named [Richard] Dawkins who does not believe in God and even wrote a book against [the existence of] God. I sent him the 5-Volume Commentary [of the Holy Qur’an] as well as other books such as The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, and told him to first read these and then speak to us, and he would realise Who God Almighty truly is and what the true concept of God is. He replied by saying that he would not read any of it, he just wanted us to read his book, but said that he would not read any of our books. Hence, these people are stubborn and by no means will stubborn people come to accept [the existence of God]. You should maintain a personal relationship with those [atheists] who possess a pious nature, then due to this personal contact, you should slowly bring them towards God Almighty. Sometimes, this nearness has an effect and becomes the means for the reformation of others. So personal experiences are the most effective.
At times, people who come here for mulaqats, including some members of the press as well, and in fact some have expressed that they do not believe in God, but if we were to ever believe in God, it would be due to the Caliph who has taught them the truth about God Almighty. So in order for the hearts of people to become receptive, it is necessary for us to pray to God Almighty to soften their hearts. For this reason, our own examples are very important, so become an example for them and tell them about your personal experiences of acceptance of prayers. Look at your own relationship with God Almighty, and when you tell them about your own relationship with God, they will be more impressed with that first-hand experience… There are countless other proofs, there is the book Our God, there is Ten Proofs for the Existence of God, by Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra). All these books are available nowadays in Urdu and in English, so read them and give these books to them as well. Likewise, if they are well-educated, you should first give them The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, then Ten Proofs for the Existence of God, which is a small book, then Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, by the Fourth Caliph (rh), contains a chapter about the existence of God which proves to be very convincing for some people. You should also tell them to read the book Our God, which has been translated into English. If they do not accept [the existence of God] even after reading these books, then [remember] our duty is simply to convey the message to them, we cannot guarantee that any given person will be guided. God Almighty has taken it upon Himself to grant guidance, and the responsibility He has given us is merely to propagate the message and to bring people to the path of God Almighty.’
How Can We Attain Nearness to God?
For youth all around the world, a common question which arises, is that though they may pray, they do not feel a true connection to God, and so they wonder what they can do in order to establish that connection with Him. It was on this same topic that one student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘What is the best method to attain the nearness of God Almighty?’
His Holiness (aba) responded,
‘First and foremost, Allah has explained that He has created humankind so that they may worship Him. Therefore, you must worship Allah and fulfil the due rights of your existence.
[Translation: And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me -The Holy Qur’an 51:57]
Fulfil the due rights of your existence. Secondly, according to the instructions of Allah Almighty, the Holy Prophet (sa) taught that after belief in the unseen, Allah Almighty has ordained, that we ‘establish prayer’; therefore you must observe prayer, Allah Almighty has commanded us to observe prayer, hence, the second most important aspect is worship; after believing in Allah, one must observe prayer. Then, the Holy Prophet (sa) has stated that during Salat, a person is closest to Allah Almighty during Sajda (prostration). Therefore, supplicate to Allah Almighty in your Sajdas (prostrations), that may Allah Almighty grant you His nearness.
‘You are the very wealth that I seek and I implore from You alone.’
Pray to Allah and say, ‘I do not need any money nor any worldly objects; the only thing that I need is your nearness and when I will attain Your nearness, then worldly wealth and worldly luxuries will naturally become subservient to me and my spirituality will increase.’ Thus, you should pray in your prostrations, that may Allah Almighty grant you His nearness.’
How Can We Attain Pleasure in Prayer?
Similarly, there may be times when one is offering prayer but feel as if they are not fully immersed or are unable to enjoy the prayer as it should be. Seeking guidance on how one can truly find pleasure in prayer, one student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘How can we attain pleasure and delight in our Salat?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘The Promised Messiah (as) has taught us a very simple method of attaining this; he states that one should bring about such an expression on their face as if they are crying. When a person physically displays certain facial expressions in order to reflect a particular emotion, then those intended emotions begin to develop from within the heart as well. Therefore, when a person displays an expression of one who is crying and whilst reciting Surah al-Fatiha, one continues to repeat and ponder over the words, ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help,’ and displays his physical expressions as if he is crying, then soon, one will genuinely begin to cry. When one begins to cry and a state of heartfelt emotions and fervency begins to develop, then one will begin to attain the pleasure and delight from Salat. Then when you go into Ruku (bowing) and supplicate, you will again attain pleasure from that. Similarly, when you say ‘Sami-Allah’ and stand up from Ruku, you will again feel pleasure in that, and when you go into Sajda (prostration), your soul will become anxious and you will attain a certain pleasure in that particular state as well. Therefore, a person has to display the physical expressions that are required to reach the desired inner state, however this can only be attained by undergoing a concerted effort and by striving. If one endeavours to strive in this regard, they will continue to attain pleasure in Salat. When a person experiences this pleasure and delight once, then they will always endeavour to stand before their Lord whilst weeping, in order to attain the pleasure and delight from being in that state. The pleasure that one attains by weeping before Allah in Sajda (prostration) is far greater than any other pleasure. Also, pray to Allah that may He enable you to fulfil the oath with which you have come to Jamia Ahmadiyya, and that may you become an excellent missionary and preacher; may He enable you to preach to your own people in such a manner that they turn towards Allah Almighty. And then such people emerge, from among them, who are amongst those who experience pleasure and delight in their worship.’
What was the Caliph’s Profession of Choice?
One student asked a very interesting question of His Holiness (aba) and received an even more inspiring reply. The student asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Which profession did you wish to go into during your studies?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘I was unable to pursue the profession I desired and instead I ended up in a position for which I had no personal desire. At first, I chose subjects in science and thought that I may pursue medicine, but I wasn’t able to do that. Then I studied agricultural economics and I prayed and pledged in my heart that if I got good marks in the MSc examinations, then I would devote my life [for the service of God and His Community]. Then, Allah Almighty blessed me with good grades, despite the fact that I had not really made any effort on my part; yet Allah Almighty blessed me with good grades Himself and I attained a position in the first division. And so [in fulfilment of my pledge] I devoted my life, after which I was posted to Africa. The reality is that Allah Almighty held me by the finger and guided me, otherwise I had no part in any of this. Therefore, always endeavour to firmly grasp Allah’s hand, and seek His help; then Allah Almighty Himself will guide you. Especially you who are becoming missionaries; you must form a strong bond with Allah Almighty and tightly grasp His hand, and pray that may He guide us in accordance with His Will and take us wherever He deems better for us, and enable us to become that which He desires for us to become. If a person becomes the way that Allah wants them to become, that in itself is full of blessings and grace.’
Virtual Meeting with Pakistani Immigrants in Germany
The second meeting of the week saw over 100 Ahmadi Muslim youth, who had recently immigrated from Pakistan to Germany, get the opportunity to meet with His Holiness (aba) on December 6, 2020. During the meetings, each person had the opportunity to introduce themselves and speak directly to His Holiness (aba).
Honesty in All Affairs
After having been introduced to everyone, His Holiness (aba) ended the virtual meeting by providing guidance to all those whose asylum cases are still pending.
His Holiness (aba) said,
‘May Allah bestow His Grace upon all of you and may all your cases [for asylum] be accepted. What is the Jama’at doing for those people whose cases have not yet been accepted? Request the Jama’at to help you so that your case may be accepted. If you have good lawyers and good judges, then that’s well and good, but never lie or utter any falsehood. Instead, simply explain to them that everyone has a different level of tolerance, however, the persecution in Pakistan has increased to such a degree that they do not spare anyone. We are always in a constant state of fear as we never know when a lawsuit may be filed against us, or when someone may dislike something we do or say and then, using that as an excuse, file a false charge against us. This is why you have migrated here, so that you may live in peace. Simply tell them the truth, and God-Willing, your asylum cases will be accepted. Firstly, everyone should adopt the habit of offering the five daily prayers; offer your prayers diligently; weep and pray in your Salat. So, offer your five daily prayers and then adopt the habit of offering voluntary prayers. Weep and pray in your voluntary prayers as well, and make a promise that you will continue to offer your prayers regularly even after your case is accepted. Then, before going to court [for your asylum hearings], recite Surah al-Fatiha and God-Willing, Allah Almighty will bestow His blessings upon you… May Allah be your Helper and Protector. Act upon what I have said to you and God-Willing, your cases will be accepted. Pray to Allah and make a firm pledge that you will always remain steadfast in virtue and will be regular in your prayers. If you continue to pray, then Allah Almighty will help you, but if you succumb to worldly pursuits after having your case accepted, then remember that Allah knows your intentions and thus you may suffer and face difficulties. In any case, it is my prayer that may Allah bestow His grace upon everyone and be your Helper and Protector.’
His Holiness (aba) delivered his Friday Sermon on December 11, 2020 from the Mubarak Mosque in Tilford, Surrey, UK. His Holiness (aba) continued highlighting incidents from the life of the Fourth Rightly-Guided Caliph, Hazrat Ali (ra).
A Lesson in Devotion to a Greater Purpose
One of the incidents which His Holiness (aba) presented from the life of Hazrat Ali (ra), beautifully illustrates what the true essence of any Muslim’s deeds and actions should be. His Holiness (aba) quoted the Second Caliph (ra) and related,
‘Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) further states,
‘There is a very faith-inspiring incident of Hazrat Ali (ra). During the Battle of Khayber, Hazrat Ali (ra) went forth to battle against a very prominent general of the Jewish people. Since both were very skilled fighters, they both continued to fight each other for a long time. Eventually, Hazrat Ali (ra) dropped him to the ground and knelt upon his chest with the intention of beheading him with one final strike from his sword. However, [just as Hazrat Ali (ra) was about to do this] the Jewish man spat on Hazrat Ali (ra)’s face, upon which Hazrat Ali (ra) immediately stepped away from him. The Jewish man was surprised at the fact that Hazrat Ali (ra) had overcome him and yet had now let him go. He wondered why Hazrat Ali (ra) would let him go despite the fact that he had an easy opportunity to kill him. Thus, he enquired from Hazrat Ali (ra) as to why he let him go. Hazrat Ali (ra) replied, ‘Till this point, I was fighting against you purely for the sake of attaining Allah’s pleasure, however when you spat on my face, I became angry and felt that now if I were to kill you, then it would not be for the sake of Allah, but owing to my personal anger, and so I let go of you in order to avoid killing you for a personal reason.’
How great of an example was this, which was demonstrated by Hazrat Ali (ra). Right in the midst of the battle, he let a bitter enemy go free simply because he did not wish to kill him owing to any personal grievance, rather if he did so then it should be solely for the sake of attaining the pleasure of Allah.’
Prayers for the Ahmadis of Algeria and Pakistan
Towards the end of his sermon, His Holiness (aba) made an appeal to the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community, to pray for Ahmadis in Algeria and Pakistan, who face harsh opposition and hardships due to their faith. His Holiness (aba) said,
‘The Ahmadis residing in Algeria are also facing great difficulties and some have even been imprisoned. Pray for them, that may Allah create ease for them and create the means for their freedom. There are difficult circumstances there as well, may Allah enable the government to see reason and adhere to justice and grant Ahmadis their due rights. Similarly, the situation in Pakistan is worsening. I [previously] made mention [regarding the conduct of] certain ministers; pray for them as well. If Allah does not wish to grant these Maulvis [clerics] and [government] officials wisdom, or they do not want to see reason, or if it is decreed that they will continue to act in this way and suffer the wrath of Allah, then may Allah ensure the means for them to be seized swiftly and provide ease for Ahmadis.’
Watch ‘This Week With Huzoor’ presented by Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA):