IAAAE – A Long Term Vision to Help Developing Nations

Address by the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (aba) at the IAAAE International Symposium 2022

On the 5th of March 2022, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifah (Caliph), His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), addressed the Annual Symposium of the International Association of Ahmadi Architects and Engineers (IAAAE). The symposium took place at the Masroor Hall in Islamabad, Tilford. The official transcript of the keynote address delivered by His Holiness on this occasion, is presented below.

After reciting Tashahhud, Ta`awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) said:

‘With the grace of Allah, today the IAAAE has had the opportunity to hold its annual symposium. Due to Covid, I believe that your last symposium was a virtual conference and so it is after almost three years that you have gathered together in person.

Anyway, I hope and pray that the event has fulfilled its objectives and proved beneficial for all of the participants. Alhamdolillah [all praise belongs to Allah], the IAAAE has done some excellent work in recent years and has continued to increase its service to mankind. If you look back to when the IAAAE was founded and its early years, its activities were on a much smaller scale compared to today. At that time it was involved in simple projects, seeking to assist those living in hardship, for example, by making and distributing small dry cell lamps. Within the Jama’at [Ahmadiyya Muslim Community], the IAAAE also assisted on the occasions of Jalsa Salana by providing some facilities and made efforts to improve the translation system. From these humble beginnings, over time, the work of IAAAE started to evolve and expand. For example, some members worked on developing roti plants to produce rotis on a large scale in Rabwah. Slowly but surely, the organisation continued to progress and broaden the scope of its activities beyond Pakistan. 

Now with the grace of Allah, the IAAAE has reached a stage where it has undertaken and completed some very sophisticated projects and large scale construction for the sake of serving humanity and the Jama’at. For example, in Africa, the IAAAE has conducted extremely beneficial work such as providing water relief to the local people by installing or rehabilitating water pumps, both independently and in collaboration with other organisations, such as Humanity First. 

In addition, in recent years, the IAAAE has constructed several model villages in remote areas, which have provided many essential facilities and services to the local people. Indeed, the model villages have had a direct impact upon the lives of the local people by creating ease and convenience in relative terms, by providing basic facilities that are ensuring a better standard of living. It has also been pleasing to see that the model villages and other major projects of the IAAAE have been completed at the lowest possible cost to ensure that our limited resources are used for the maximum possible service and benefit to mankind. In this regard, I know some of your members have worked tirelessly and travelled to China in order to cultivate contacts with local manufacturers and retailers so that necessary materials can be procured as cheaply as possible. May Allah the Almighty reward their efforts which have played a significant role in enabling the limited resources of the IAAAE to go much further. 

According to the latest report sent to me, during the past two years, people in nine countries have benefited from your Water for Life projects. In this time, the IAAAE was able to rehabilitate more than 100 water pumps to a functioning level, and so thousands of the most impoverished people in Africa were able to gain access to clean water. The biggest struggle for people living in remote parts of Africa is the lack of clean drinking water, and so, by installing water systems, the IAAAE has had a genuinely life-changing impact upon those people who are the hardest hit by poverty and deprivation. The pure joy and elation they feel when they see clean water flowing at their doorsteps for the very first time is truly indescribable. 

Similarly, in recent years, the IAAAE team in Germany has undertaken a range of beneficial projects to serve and better the lives of mankind. In addition, the IAAAE’s electrical engineers and technicians have travelled to some extremely remote parts of Africa and worked diligently in order to generate electricity in those rural areas for the benefit of the local people. They have also connected television and communal areas of rural towns and villages through which the local people can watch MTA, and so this facility has served as a means of Tabligh [propagation] and Tarbiyyat [moral training]. Moreover, through the installation of TVs and communications infrastructures, the local people are being exposed to the wider world and gaining knowledge of the latest development and technologies. Therefore, the IAAAE’s efforts are not only serving to alleviate hardship and deprivation, but are also providing to be a source of education and information. Hopefully, seeing such images and news will inspire the local children and youth to remain in education as long as possible and to learn more about new technologies so that they can better their personal situations and also play a positive role in the future development of their nations. In this way, your services will not only have a short-term impact, but will Insha’Allah [God-willing] prove to have a lasting effect by providing opportunities for the local people to educate themselves and to broaden their horizons. 

Ultimately it is only through education that those living in deprived nations will be able to prosper and free themselves from the desperate cycle of poverty that has plagued their communities for generations. As a result, the members of the IAAAE who play a role in providing education to the most impoverished members of society will be the recipient of their prayers and will certainly attain the blessing and rewards of Allah the Almighty. 

Moving on, you may recall that a few years ago, I expressed my desire for the IAAAE to work towards providing clean water in remote and deprived parts of the world, and I am pleased that you have done a lot of good work in this regard, as I have already mentioned. In fact, through the model village scheme, you have gone beyond what was initially assigned to you. 

Nonetheless, we are now passing through extremely precarious and dangerous times, and so the IAAAE must reassess and evaluate how it can serve mankind according to the prevailing conditions. The current state of the world is immensely concerning and alarming, especially in relation to what is happening in Ukraine and the increasing enmity between Russia and the West. A dark and ominous shadow has been cast upon much of the world, and if, God forbid, the current situation escalates further, the consequences do not bear thinking about. It is no exaggeration to say that the world stands at the brink of a disaster, and there is a grave risk of devastation and destruction, the like of which we have not seen before. Therefore now is the time for the IAAAE to intensify its efforts to serve humanity and to prepare for all possible eventualities. 

It is said that some extremely wealthy individuals have constructed elaborate underground bunkers with state of the art facilities in anticipation of a potential global war. Such bunkers might serve to protect those few privileged people, but what about the fate of the rest of humanity? Besides, those who are able to shield underground should not be under the delusion that a fortified bunker will leave them immune to the devastating consequences of a world war. For one, living isolated lives underground will surely lead to a myriad of mental health issues, frustrations and anxieties. Furthermore, what will those rich people do when they emerge from their bunkers to find that life has changed beyond all recognition? What will they do when they see that those poor people upon whom they relied day and night now lay dead or maimed, and a cloud of darkness had enveloped the world. Given this, all people, rich or poor, should recognise that what is happening today has the potential to affect everybody and that the future of mankind is at grave risk. Where we must pray that the world’s leaders see sense and deescalate before it is too late, we must also stand ready to play a leading role in rebuilding society if, God forbid, such horrific circumstances ever come to pass. 

Certainly, in the aftermath of such a war, humanity will face the monumental challenge of rebuilding the world piece by piece, and it will be our duty as Ahmadi Muslims to be at the forefront of that effort. Hence, as a first step, the IAAAE should formulate a detailed plan identifying how low-cost housing, including necessary facilities and services, can be constructed swiftly to rehome displaced people. Such a plan will not only be of use if the current situation worsens; rather, even under normal circumstances, our Ahmadi architects should develop plans for low-cost housing with good amenities as this will be of benefit to the Jama’at moving forward. Similarly, you should prepare plans ensuring that our mosques, mission houses and other properties are all built to a high standard at the lowest possible cost and keeping sustainability in mind. 

If God forbid, a large-scale war erupts, we can only hope and pray that at least some regions will be spared from the resulting destruction and turmoil. For example, it may be that African countries, certain islands and remote territories will not be directly affected. Accordingly, we should be ready for a future where it may no longer be possible to rely on the relative peace and security of the Western world, and so we should assess how we can develop other parts of the world in order to fulfil the needs of humanity. We should consider and reflect upon how we can make those less-developed nations and regions stronger so that they can free themselves from the shackles of debt and stand with dignity and honour. We should strive our utmost to help the poorest and most underprivileged nations on earth so that they can rise up and be in a position to guide the world and to play their respective roles in the future development of the world, rather than merely living off the scraps and handouts of the major powers. 

Consequently, the IAAAE must work with a  long-term vision in mind. Indeed even if the current political unrest and global tensions are somehow resolved, our Jama’at and the IAAAE, as a body, should always plan for the future and see what role we can play in raising the station of the developing world. We should explore and analyse how the developing nations can utilise their very limited resources in order to acquire the best possible infrastructure, technology and services. You should consider it your long-term objective to help those nations who have been mired in perpetual debt, poverty and destitution to one day take their place as equal alongside the developed and industrialised nations, Insha’Allah.

Before concluding, I also wish to mention that the IAAAE is constructing a technical institute in Nigeria, and I pray that you are able to complete this project as soon as possible and, thereafter, manage it in the best way. I pray that the Nigerian people and people from all across the African continent can take great benefit from it. Further, I hope that this institute proves to be the first of many established by the IAAAE, which serves to train and educate the local people, so that they can stand on their own two feet and play a direct role in the progress and development of their people and nations. May all their frustrations and anxieties, which are rooted in their impoverished conditions, be eliminated once and for all. 

Moreover, if and when their circumstances improve, I pray that they do not develop those selfish ways and greed that have been a hallmark of the major powers. Without a doubt, it is due to their insatiable greed that the rich and powerful nations continue to assert their dominance upon weaker nations and strive to take unjust benefit from the resources of others. Most regrettably, it is this never-ending craving for power and wealth, whether on the part of Russia, the Western world or other major powers, that has led mankind down such a dangerous path that threatens to shatter the peace of the world. Thus, we must all fervently supplicate before Allah the Almighty, praying for a peaceful resolution to this current conflict. 

I also wish to say that if God forbid, the world’s political powers remain bent on forcing the world into a blazing fire of warfare and destruction, it will be our task as Ahmadi Muslims to be there to pick up the pieces and to apply cooling balm upon the scorching wounds of mankind and society. It will be our obligation and duty to strive to rebuild society and to save mankind from further turmoil and sorrow. Anyway, regardless of whether this current conflict subsides or escalates, we must, as I have said, plan to provide the best possible facilities, infrastructure and training to people in Africa and other deprived parts of the world so that they can develop and prosper in future, Insha’Allah

Perhaps some of you will think that what I am saying is far beyond your scope. Yet, if we are sincere and fully committed, I firmly believe that with the help of Allah the Almighty, we can develop such proficient plans and large-scale projects that governments and world leaders will seek our help and expertise, Insha’Allah

With these words, I pray that may Allah the Almighty enable you to utilise your intelligent minds, God-given talents and capabilities to continually improve and widen the scope of the various projects of the IAAAE. Where you are currently providing a lot of assistance and help to those who are living in deprived parts of the world, I pray that the IAAAE now embarks upon the next stage in its progression by developing longer-term initiatives, which will benefit the world for generations to come. May Allah the Almighty give you the vision and capability to do so. Finally, I pray that may Allah the Almighty enable all members of the IAAAE to continue to serve with the same passion and dedication that they have displayed over the past few years, and may He reward all of you for your sincere efforts – AmeenJazakAllah [may God reward you].’