Book Reviews

Book Review: The Great Western Revival

Photo by Safeer Qamar

Ahmad Nooruddeen Jahangeer Khan, London, UK

In a world ravaged by injustice, torn by political instability and polarised in many respects, it is difficult to see any chance of avoiding further turmoil; let alone find a way towards peace. In such perilous times comes The Great Western Revival – a treasure trove filled with solutions to the countless trials the world is passing through.

The Great Western Revival is a selection of some of the most insightful addresses by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which covers some of the most burning topics in modern times. More specifically, The Great Western Revival covers His Holiness’ (aba) addresses at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, to German dignitaries and ministers in Berlin, at the Peace Symposia in the UK, annual gatherings around Europe, and an event geared towards researchers. 

A Mission for Peace

From the very first day since being elected as Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has been on a mission of not only calling the world to peace, but also providing the tools for how to establish peace. It is the solution that the world is in dire need of. Giving practical steps for all people; from the smallest unit of society to the international scope, time and time again His Holiness (aba) has explained through the true teachings of Islam the path mankind must tread in order to rid the world of injustice and thus bring about a harmonious society. 

His Holiness (aba) goes on to cover a range of topics such as terrorism, Jihad, immigration, the conflicts in the middle east, economic imbalance and the threat of an outbreak of World War III. Tackling these issues in light of the pristine teachings of the Holy Qur’an, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and the Promised Messiah (as), His Holiness (aba) beautifully explains how religion can play a vital role in establishing peace and justice. 

Faith – A Matter of the Heart

Take religion for example. It is commonly alleged nowadays that Islam is the cause for much bloodshed in the world and is spread by force. Debunking this myth, His Holiness (aba) states in one address:

‘Faith is, and always will be, a matter of the heart and so there should never be any form of compulsion in religion. Whilst Allah the Almighty has deemed Islam to be a complete teaching, no one has the right to forcefully convert others to it. Anyone, whether religious or not, is free to accept Islam, but the key point is that it should be accepted freely and entirely of one’s own volition and choice.’

Adding to this, His Holiness (aba) also explains how Islam is a religion of love and compassion, therefore,  it teaches that we should serve humanity without making any distinction based on religion or ethnicity.

An Ever-Growing Crisis

Recent conflicts in the middle east have led to millions of innocent people fleeing their countries to find refuge, especially in western nations. Indeed, many have been successful in acquiring peace, but at the same time, it has led to increased tensions and frustrations in terms of integration and security. Providing the long-term solution to this issue, His Holiness (aba) states:

‘Accordingly, the long-term solution to the immigration crisis has to be to establish peace in war-torn countries and to help the local people, who have been forced to endure lives of misery and danger, to live peacefully.’

But at the same time, His Holiness (aba) specifies the short-term solution, stating that immigrants should consider themselves indebted to the nation and instead of trying to seek benefits, they should repay the favour by finding a job and thus being of benefit to the country. 

Does Religion Promote Intellectual Progress?

In one address, His Holiness (aba) tackles the common misconception that Islam is a backward and archaic religion which does not promote educational advancement. He states that the opposite is true, whereby Islam instructs Muslim men and women to actively seek knowledge, for the betterment of themselves and society at large. His Holiness (aba) said:

‘The truth is that the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) inspired the works of generations of Muslim intellectuals, philosophers and inventors in the Middle Ages. Indeed, if we look back more than a millennium, we see how Muslim scientists and inventors played a fundamental role in advancing knowledge and developing technologies, which transformed the world and remain in use today.’

His Holiness (aba) illustrates how history bears witness to the way in which Islam and science go hand in hand, when Muslims researchers were leading the world in terms of intellectual progress during the golden age of Islam, and that it is achievable once more. This would indeed bring about a revolutionary change and usher a new era of advancement. 

Islam and Europe

Then, regarding the question as to whether there is a clash of civilisations between Islam and Europe, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) explains the distinction between civilisation and culture. He goes on to clarify that western culture is deeply rooted in religious and moral values, thus, the real threat is actually posed by the current trend of people abandoning religion and its values. His Holiness (aba) explains:

‘In western countries, whenever a consensus is conducted it shows that people are less inclined towards religion or belief in God. Given this, I believe that the rapid increase of atheism is a far greater threat to western culture than Islam. Western values are centuries old and are based upon its religious traditions, and especially on its Christian and Jewish heritage. However, these religious values and cultural norms are under attack from those who oppose all forms of religion and faith.’   

As such, those living in the west may fear Islam due to extremist and terrorist activities perpetrated by those claiming to do so in the name of the religion. However, His Holiness (aba) illustrates how Islam condemns such attacks in the strongest manner, and that the actions of extremist groups have nothing to do with the teachings of love, compassion and sympathy taught in Islam. Not only that, he details the factors which actually cause people to become radicalised, stating that only if people have food to eat, water to drink, shelter, schooling for their children and healthcare with they be able to live in peace and escape the deadly clutches of frustration and resentment that lead people towards extremism.

Needless to say, these are but a few examples of the deep wisdom and knowledge imparted by the Caliph (aba) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to the world. The Great Western Revival therefore not only helps the reader to understand the direness of the situation mankind finds itself in, it also provides the insight into how exactly the most urgent matters can be resolved and how lasting peace can be established – peace that is not only limited to certain parts of the world, but rather, as His Holiness (aba) has put it: 

‘Our goal and objective should be nothing less than to establish peace in every village, town or city of every nation in the world.’ 

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