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THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS NOTES AND COMMENTS BY B.A.RAFIQ The existence of a powerful political Jewish lobby in both Europe and America and the sway it exercises on the economic infrastructure (with tax concessions available to promote a tottering Israeli economy) creates an ideal formula for expansion to continue and for shuttlecock diplomacy to fail. The marriage with Christian-backed Lebanese eventually led to the invasion of their own homes and the reluctance to withdraw from occupied territory has taught them a bitter lesson. No matter how wide a territory an aggressor occupies it will always be vulnerable to attack from the people who have forcibly driven from their homes. Soon, America will no longer be able to sustain a massive budget dificit at home and lend support to a war-like Israel. When that happens, Israel may turn to Russia which would not be bound by ties to some of the neighbouring states. In that see-saw lie the cause of fresh disputes to emerge. The question now is not so much whether Israel can exist in the Middle East but whether the Middle East can survive with Israel. A disunited Arab force, heavily under-equipped and demoralised by past defeats, offers little hope for the Palestinian Arabs who lie at the core of the misery that Israel has unleached on them. How long can they survive bullets fired at them, the agony of watching their homes reduced to rubble by bulldozers, of Jews occupying the land they once owned, of witnessing the massacre of their women and children by swooping bomb-raids or by the Lebanese militia right under the Jewish nose, and of the treachery of the rest of the Muslim world in allowing this to happen? How long is the Muslim world going to sit idally by and watch the desecration of a land once held holy by past prophets and now tainted by the blood of innocent victims to the struggle or by the ashes of buildings dedicated to the worship of the One God? How long will the other nations of the world continue to be impotant in watching the constant ignoring of their resolutions when it is their own re- solution which helped to set up the state of Israel? The continuance of the state of Israel is a sad reflection of the pathetic and sorry state of the Muslim world. They are busy disbanding Muslims from their own fold while agony piles up one after another on their brothern barely surviving in Israel. The way to defeat that state is by a reso- lute approach. That can only be achieved by unity. Unity will only come about once Muslims become Muslims and understand the bond that their Master knit them together in. Any other way is like putting the cart before the horse. Abortive terrorist (one questions who is the terrorist) plots merely ensure that when there is no war in this land, there is no peace THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS either. As long as Israel can rely on expansion as a means of security, it will move no closer to a settlement that would halt the bloodshed. Its retribution has sought more than an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth so much so that the victim of this vendetta has been rendered blind and toothless. In short, it has transgressed seriously in maintaining the sanctity of this land and the time has come for someone else to replace this cruelty with compassion, kindness, love and reestablish the name of a compassio- nate and Merciful God. *#** **** One of the main objections against Ahmadis is that they do not believe in the physical ascension of Isa bin Maryam to the heavens. It is also alleged that Ahmadis do not believe in Jihad as a means of spreading Islam to non-believers and converting them by force. The above questions have been raised by one S. Ahmad of London and same have been answered by Editor-in-chief Fathi Osman in the October, 1983 issue of the “Arabia” published from London. Hereunder is reproduced the question and the answer: Qutstion: In the light of the Quran and Hadith is it essential to hold the following beliefs in order to remain within the fold of Islam: that Isa bin Maryam physically ascended to heaven; that Isa ibn Maryam (peace be on him) was conceived without the agency of a human father; and that in Darul Harb, “Jihad” primarily means a war of aggression for the purpose of seizing power, and converting non-Muslims to Islam? Answer: 1. The Quran says: “God said: O’Jesus, Verily I shall cause, thee to die and shall exalt thee unto Me (111/55); and: “God exalted him unto Himself” (IV/158). These Quranic verses do not mean necessarily raising or elevating the body of the Prophet Isa, but his soul, as of any human being. However, Muhammad Asad in The Message of the Quran prefers to understand elevat- ing in the Quranic text as honouring or exalting. He refers to the Quranic verse about another Prophet, Idris “Behold he was a man of truth, Prophet whom We exalted unto a lofty station ” (IXXJ57), as well as he referred to Tafsir-al-Manar by Muhammad Abdu and Rashid Rida. 2). The Quran Says, “(Mariam Mary) said: V my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me,'(The angel) answered: ‘Thus it is, God creates what He wills, when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it: Be, and it is,’ (HI/47; see also IXX/20-21). As Muhammad Asad puts it clearly in The Message of the Quran: “since neither the Quran nor any authentic tradition tells us anything about THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS the chain of causes and effects (asbab) which God’s decree ‘Be’ was to bring into being, all speculation as to the ‘how’ of this event must remain beyond the scope of a Quranic commentary.” 3) Jihad does not mean in any case a war of aggression of aim to seize ‘power; it is to defend Muslims against aggression and oppression and to secure the freedom of belief: “And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression, for verily God does not love aggressors. But if they desist-behold, God is much forgiving, the dispenser of Grace. Hence fight against them until there is no more oppression, and belief is decided freely towards God, but if they desist then all hostility shall cease save against those who (wilfully) do wrong”(11/190-192). Islam cares that the freedom of belief is secured, and that anyone can embrace the religion which he is convinced of, whether he chooses to be Muslim or not. We celcome the views expressed by the Editor-in-chief of the most influential Magazine “ARABIA” which are identical with those held and preached by the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. It is indeed a bold step taken by the Editor to have spoken the truth on such a controversial issue. # # * * * * * * Mr. Mansoor A. Shah of London attended the 91st Annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, at Rabwah held on 26th, 27th and 28th December, 1983. We produce hereunder a report of the Gathering prepared by him for the magazine.- Each Annual Gathering of the world-wide Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam begins and ends with success and the story of the Ninety-first Jalsa Salanah, which attracted more than three hundred thousand participants from all over the world, is no different. Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV inaugurated the Annual Gathering with his keynote address. He stated: When we look around this world, we observe that the East hates the West and the North despises the South. Nations and peoples of the world hate each other; this hatred which is ablaze in people’s hearts may become the cause of a world war and destruction of human beings. What is even more surprising is that so deep runs this hatred that those who invite others to God Almighty solely for His sake have become a victim of this hatred. No matter how much this fire of hatred is fanned, it would have no 10 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS influence on our patience and love. If our bodies are rend into pieces and our bones ground to ash and that dust hurled into rivers, even then each atom of that ash would continue in prayers for our enemies before dis- integrating. TJiose who call others unto Allah and His Messenger have neither been afraid of others before nor would they now be afraid because the God of the Heavens procures peace and safety for such people. Never has hatred triumphed over love. I give my community the glad tidings that you remain within His protection. We are the servants of Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and his servants have never been afraid of hatred or threats. Huzur added: Today, from east to west, Muslims are at arms or logg- heads with each other: what is most painful is that all this is being done in the name of God. Thus, today, we should pray earnestly for Lebanon and Palestine; for Egypt and Yemen; for Saudi Arabia and Iran; for Iraq and Afghanistan and for Pakistan in particular because they deserve our prayers. I spend my nights in anguish at their pitiful state and the cruelties inflicted on the Palestinians – pray most prevently for them. May God Almighty grant all our brethren the sight to perceive their Creator. This was a most inspiring address, and was, naturally, punctuated with slogan exhorting the Glory and Greatness of Allah. SECOND DAY: Huzur’s second address was to the Ladies section and was relayed simultaneously to the men’s section. Based extensively on the traditions of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, it was about the fragility of a women’s nature and the rights bestowed on her by Islam. Such rights continue throughout life both when a women is in the prime of her youth and in old age. A better exposition of women’s rights I have yet to hear and no doubt readers will be treated to a full text of this address. In his third address, he presented an annual review of the remarkable progress made by the community both in Pakistan and in the foreign countries in spheres ranging from finance, education, publications, medical care, architecture, preaching and propagation. In this review, one must riot forget the rest of the speakers. These included the following: 1. Sahibzada Mirza Anas Ahmad 2. Hafiz Muzaffar Ahmad 3. Masaud Ahmad Jhelmi THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 11 4. Sultan Mahmud Anwar 5. Maulvi Abdus Salam Tahir 6. Maulana Dost Muhammad Shahid 7. Mirza Abdul Haq Advocate 8. Maulana Muhammad Shafi Ashraf 9. Mujibur Rahman Advocate 10. _Ghulam Bari Saif Each one of these speakers gave an excellent expression of their knowledge. The manner in which the subject was presented to the andience would linger long in their memory. The ladies too had their own indepen- dent programme. The English and Indonesian interpretters translated simultaneously the speeches for those who could not understand the speeches. Two VCR cameras preserved this historical Jalsa. An excellent public address system ensured that not a word get lost to any ear. In the evening the foreign guests were treated to an array of speeches in fifty different languages. The bazaars were agog with the hustle bustle of the people and the endless shops of casette-players replaying Huzur’s speeches within a few minutes of his last words. I guess that if I told you that I witnessed a traffic jam streching a mile in Rabwah, that is saying something. But, remember, this came about inspite of the fact that, most people walked on foot. Beneath all this success lay the experienced machinery of Ahmadi volunteers who worked around the clock throughout the duration of the convention: providing food and accommodation to the several hundreds of thousands of guests, directing the endless streams of people in orderly lines around the dusty streets of Rabwah and generally ensuring a smooth flow of events. FINAL ADDRESS Huzur’s final address condensed the second part of the theme he had picked in the Annual Jalsa last year. For more than three and a half hours he kept the audience rivetted to every word of his exegesis on the Holy Quran till, out of consideration for the patience of the participants and the fading light of the evening, he brought the subject to a close with silent prayers. The theme thus concentrated on the following verses of the Holy Quran: Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and trans- gression. He admonishes you that you may take heed. (16 : 91) 12 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Huzur extended the all-embracing concept of justice to ones belief, worship-prayers, the pilgrimage, etc, commencing first with the unpara- llelled freedom of concience granted by the Islamic charter and ending with the administration of justice right down to the admissibility of evidence. He quoted numerous verses and traditions of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and anecdotes replete in the history of Ahmadiyyat which show how those who sacrificed everything for the sake of Allah’s pleasure attained nearness to God Almighty. Huzur invited the audience to be ever-ready to sacrifice their blood, property and honour because there was no one else who could champion the all pervading concept of justice that God demands of man. He charged the community to ensure that in their relationship with the rest of God’s creation, they will never let any material object influence their decision and that they will always render true justice in accordance with God Almighty’s covenants and the high standard set by the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be on him. That then is but a poor summary of the Annual Gathering whose waves lashed on my heart as if I was immersed in a torrid ocean. I was by no means alone in sharing this awe-inspiring experience. A great multitude of people, a grand spectacle of humanity joined on one platform under God’s emblem of Unity, a far outcry to the first Annual Gathering ninety years ago when only a handful attended, made us believe that it must be truth that has united us together. The footnote to the conference therefore belongs to Huzur who summed up the feeling of the Centre thus depart now but return a thousand times! THE PROMISED MESSIAH SAYS ABOUT THE HOLY PROPHET, PEACE BE ON HIM The life of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was a life of grand success. In his high moral qualities, his spiritual power, his high resolve, the excellence and perfection of his teaching, his perfect example and the acceptance of his prayers, in short, in every aspect of his life, he exhibited such bright signs that even a person of low intelligence, provided he is not inspired by unreasonable rancour and enmity, is forced to confess that he was a perfect example of manifestation of Divine qualities and was a perfect man (AI-Hakam, 10 April 1902, p. 5).