The Green Party of the provincial assembly, Hamburg organised a special function on 14th June 2011 at the historic Hamburg Town Hall—the seat of government of Hamburg—under the title “inter-religious dialogue”, in honour of Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community,who was invited by the Green Party of Germany to deliver the keynote address. Over 50 people attended the event, among them politicians, professors, jurists, religious leaders and journalists. Notable figures in attendance included:
Ian Karan (ex-Finance Senator, province of Hamburg)
Dr. Till Steffen (Member of the Provincial Assembly, Hamburg, Green Party)
Filiz Demirel (Member of the Provincial Assembly, Hamburg, Green Party)
Christa Goetsch (Member of the Provincial Assembly, Hamburg, Green Party)
Prof. Wolfram Weisse, University of Hamburg
Dr. Mohammed Khalifa, University of Hamburg
Mr. Abdullah Wagishauser, the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Germany, provided a brief overview of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He also introduced Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) explaining that he is the Fifth Khalifa—the Fifth successor to the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi—and the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community worldwide, now established in 200 countries. Christa Goetsch, the chief host of the function who was representing the Green Party in Hamburg, said in her brief remarks that it was an honour to have the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community present at the event. She said that the Green Party of Hamburg had strong ties with the local Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at, and that the Green Party avidly supports inter-religious dialogue. In his speech Prof. Wolfram Weisse, Director of the Academy of Religions at the University of Hamburg, said that it was an honour and privilege for everyone that Hudhur was visiting their city, which is more or less the capital of inter-religious dialogue in Germany. He said that the Academy of World Religions had established a circle of experts who intensely support inter-religious dialogue. He concluded by thanking Hudhur and the Green Party.The keynote address of the function was then delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. We present the transcript of the address delivered by his Holiness below.
“Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Rahim (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful)
All the distinguished guests, Assalamo ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all I would like to thank all of you, especially our chief host, for inviting me today to say a few words to you. By doing so, you have demonstrated your openheartedness and broadminded nature.
This gesture proves that irrespective of differences of nationality, religion and viewpoints, you believe in the betterment of human values for all mankind. And today it pleases me to hear from respected Professor Wolfram Weisse that you have formed the Academy of World Religions for bringing different nations and religions together. I pray that Allah gives you success in this.
I would like to say that today the world is in grave need of such an enlightened approach. We, who are members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at, also practice and preach such an approach and we always abide by these principles, which is the reason why we constantly raise the slogan of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’.
As a basic principle we believe that there is certainly no harm in having differences of opinion and religion. With reference to religion itself, I would say here that religion is a personal matter for every individual to decide for himself. No one has any right to interfere in this process. It is the right of every person to follow their religion according to their own personal beliefs and in a way they desire. They should be able express their religious beliefs and rituals freely and openly and should be able to inform others of their own religious beliefs without any apprehension.
From time to time, some people and certain groups, particularly in the West, become fearful when they hear the view that people should be completely free to practice and preach their religion. In particular, when the religion of Islam is being discussed, this fear and panic increases dramatically.
The fear is based upon the theory that if the population of Muslims increases to a large extent, then the Western countries may also become immersed in disorder, just as certain Muslim countries are. Without doubt, the Islam portrayed by certain extremist Muslim groups means that in certain cases such apprehension is completely justified and understandable.
However, if we look at the history of all religions then we soon realise that never has the founder of any religion taught that his followers should usurp the rights of others or should act in a cruel manner. In fact, the purpose of every religion has been to bring man closer to God and to establish human values.
Let us look at what Islam really represents. The meaning of the word ‘Islam’ itself means peace, love and security. Thus, if anybody portrays Islam as an extreme and violent religion filled with teachings of bloodshed, then such a portrayal has no link with the real Islam. From cover to cover the Holy Qur’an teaches love, affection, peace, reconciliation and the spirit of sacrifice.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community propagates this very message, which is perhaps why our community has become a target to the vicious and cruel actions of extremists.
However, despite this persecution Ahmadis,in whichever country they live in, never take the law into their own hands nor do they ever create disorder.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), taught us exactly this, that we must discharge the rights due to God and also the rights due to God’s people. We are taught that you should never respond to cruelty by taking revenge through being cruel yourself.
Certainly, a person who has been persecuted has the right to seek the assistance of the law and redress where feasible. However, in some cases the law itself is unjust, for example in countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia where the laws are designed to persecute Ahmadis. In such circumstances we are taught to show patience and to then leave the matter in the hands of God Almighty. The reason for this is that we believe in life after death and that it is there that God Almighty will make the Final Judgement.He will determine who was right and who was wrong and He Himself will arbitrate between the oppressor and the oppressed.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at has always shown gratitude to the German Government and its people.This is because whenever Ahmadis have had to migrate due to the cruel laws imposed against them in certain countries, Ahmadis were granted refuge and protection on a large scale here in this country.
Even now, only a small proportion of the Ahmadis in Pakistan have migrated abroad, whilst millions remain there and are tolerating the cruelties they are subjected to with great dignity and courage. Amongst those who have migrated some were personally and physically affected by the persecution, whilst some others were unable to bear the severe mental distress inflicted.
There is no doubt that those governments and countries who have granted protection to the Ahmadi Muslims have chosen to side with the oppressed.Thus, they have proved that human values do exist in the world today. Hence, in this respect also I am most grateful to all of you.
I have been informed that the Green Party regularly demonstrates compassion towards those who are subjugated, regardless of which country and religion the victim belongs to. It is such values that bring out the beauty and colour in human values. It is such values that shine a light in the world.
I have learnt that your party has now been able to form a government in one region,whilst in other regions you are becoming a strong opposition party. Therefore, in light of this, I request that you try to improve upon these great qualities you possess, and come to bear the distinction of being those who spread love, justice and establish human values, because there is an urgent need for this.
As Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at, which is a purely religious and spiritual community, I assure all of you that the Ahmadiyya Community is striving to establish human values throughout the world today. Every Ahmadi in Germany will cooperate with anyone or any group who also makes efforts to establish such values. The fundamental reason for this is that the Holy Qur’an has taught us that we should help one another in the doing of good works. And the life of the Founder of Islam bears testimony to this teaching. Prior to his claim to prophethood, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) was party to a covenant that was formed for the sole purpose of supporting people who were oppressed. Many years later, the Holy Prophet(saw) said that being a party to that covenant was more valuable to him than the entire wealth of the world. He added that even now after prophethood, if he was ever called on account of that covenant, then without any hesitation he would come forward to help and assist. Thus, Ahmadi Muslims try to live their lives according to the magnificent model displayed and established by our master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).
Those who oppose Islam regularly make serious and hurtful allegations against it, but they do so without studying any of its real teachings. If one person does not correctly follow a particular teaching whilst claiming to subscribe to it, then it is he who is in error, not the teaching. This is a fundamental principle. In fact the Holy Qur’an teaches us to establish the highest standards of justice in the world. As a means to fulfil this,the Holy Qur’an has commanded man to show justice and equality even towards any nation that has persecuted and shown hatred towards him. It teaches that you must show justice, because that is what true righteousness requires.
In relation to righteousness, the Holy Qur’an has stated in many places that he who does not adopt righteousness is far removed from Allah and therefore, is far removed from the teachings of Islam. In order to establish and maintain societal peace the Holy Qur’an states:
And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he, between whom and thyself was enmity, will become as though he were a warm friend. (Ch.41:V.35)
Having heard this verse, how can anyone call or view such teachings as harmful? We Ahmadis desire to create this type of environment in the world, in accordance with what has been described in the verse. Undoubtedly this is a golden principle, which if followed, will guarantee the peace and progress of any society. Moreover, this is not just a recipe for local or regional peace, but in fact is a golden principle for the attainment of world peace.
Today, on the one hand, we proudly say that the world is coming closer and closer together and becoming a global village, and yet on the other hand, hatred between countries and different religions is spreading. Such hatreds are now not limited to particular areas, but because of the very fact that the world has shrunk and distances are no longer a limiting factor, these problems are escalating to an international scale.
If we analyse the situation in the world today, we observe that these issues have already developed into matters, and indeed problems, of international concern. The very fact that the tools and artillery used in wars, such as nuclear weapons and long range missiles, are being developed proves that these hatreds have spread to an international level. Otherwise why is there a need to develop such long range weapons, whose principal aim is to target lands as far away as possible? Thank God that Germany is free of such lethal and destructive weapons; that is, the atomic bomb.
Regarding war, first of all it should be stated very clearly that neighbouring countries should not wage war with one another. However, if for some unfortunate reason war does break out between neighbours, then the feud should be limited to that region alone. We now find, however, that some countries cross thousands of miles and vast lands to wage war, and they drop bombs indiscriminately and so they destroy all forms of life. Neither any living beings, nor any forms of plant life are spared in such wars. For example, during the Second World War, two atoms bombs were dropped on Japan which caused unbelievable and horrific destruction. Thereafter, to safeguard against such future destruction, the world took certain measures. But in comparison to the efforts made to prevent future destruction, there has been far greater effort to spread destruction and disorder – it is the other way around.
Even in countries in which the people are dying of hunger and poverty, we find that the rulers are trying to prove their might and superiority. And so they too have started experimenting with nuclear weapons. Do they not realise what the far reaching consequences of such acts will be? The leaders of such countries are consumed by wars that are a consequence only of their own personal egos and vanity. Until the powerful countries of the world do not make serious efforts to prevent wars, the cruelties will continue to increase.
I have already made this point whenever I have had the chance. I had the opportunity to address British Politicians at the Houses of Parliament in 2008, and I have also made this same point when addressing different audiences around the world. Today I would like to humbly repeat this point, that because Germany is a world power and a developed nation, and furthermore because your party, the Green Party you belong to, seems to be an upcoming power, thus you should also ponder over this and for the peace and security of the world you too should play a full and prominent role.Similarly, the well-educated and prominent figures sitting amongst us this evening should also realise their responsibility. If you undertake this task it would be a great service to mankind.
I would also like to say at this point that if any one nation acts in a cruel and unjust way against a neighbouring country, then it should certainly be the role of the United Nations to stop such cruelty, but they should undertake this task in just manner. In this era, when intervention does take place, and wars are stopped by a third party, are they stopped in a just manner? The answer is certainly they are not.
I say this because we find that at any one time one government is supported in its fight against another government by foreign powers. They are provided with weapons, and sometimes foreign troops are also sent to fight their battles. And then after some time the host government no longer fulfils the interests of the foreign government. Or perhaps the foreign government has had all of its vested interests fulfilled and so loses interest itself. When either of these situations occurs, we see that suddenly the ruling leaders of the country that had been provided assistance are swiftly branded war criminals and sent to the international criminal court by the powerful countries. Further, in some places the local population is supported in their protests against the government and such acts lead to further cruelties and disorder. This is a completely wrong approach.
Islam teaches us that you are permitted to fight those who wage wars and those who act in a cruel manner. However, it further teaches us that if they desist from acting cruelly and disorder no longer remains, then you too should withdraw, because war should only be waged to stop cruelty. Permission thus has been granted for defensive wars, never offensive wars.This is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in Chapter 2, Verses 192-194. I have given the gist of these verses.
In a well-known Tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), he said that you should help both the oppressed and the oppressor. When the Holy Prophet(saw) was asked that how does one help the oppressor, he replied that you help him by ‘stopping his hand’, which means that you prevent him from acting cruelly and unjustly, so that he can be safeguarded from punishment of God Almighty.
This principle of helping even the oppressor emanates from a desire to show compassion and is not based on any personal interest. To emphasise this point at one place the Holy Qur’an instructs us that when reconciliation and peace is established, you must establish justice and equality (Ch.49:V.10).
If after the Second World War a path of equity leading to justice was followed, we would not witness the current state of the world, whereby it has again become engulfed in the flames of war. If justice had been followed in the intervening period, we would not have seen an arms race where weapons and fighter planes are developed and the world’s armed forces have been continually strengthened.If justice had been adopted there would not have been a race to develop atomic bombs and chemical weapons, nor would nations feel proud at such misguided achievements.
It is with regret that I say that if we now observe the current circumstances of the world closely, we find that the foundation stone for another World War has already been laid.
Every country is engaged in some way in acts which are either helping or opposing other countries, and the requirements of justice are not being fulfilled. Conflicts are building day by day. It is no longer a secret that on the surface we are told one thing, but behind the scenes the real priorities and policies are secretly being fulfilled.Can peace in the world be established in such circumstances is the question.
As a consequence of so many countries, both large and small, having nuclear weapons, grudges and enmities are increasing. In fact, people’s hearts are becoming filled with malice. We are seeing the world head towards a terrifying destruction.
I believe that now, rather than focusing on the progress of the world, it is more important, indeed it is essential, that we urgently increase our efforts to save the world from this destruction.
Every organisation and every nation is being dangerously consumed by their selfish egos, and their arrogance, and it appears difficult for them to emerge from this state.
Thus, I once again humbly request you—the influential members of this country—that you must convince the world of the frightening and dangerous predicament that we are facing. Otherwise, the alternative is that our future generations will not face a bright future, but in fact they will enter into a bleak period of world darkness.
Leading on from this, one principle that we must always remember is that you will always reap what you sow. The laws of nature are such that consequences directly correspond with our acts. Allah has established a balanced and just system both in this world and in the universe,for the welfare and progress of mankind.However, if this balance is broken then the world will be destroyed. As the Holy Qur’an states in Chapter 55, Verses 8-14:
And the heaven He has raised high and set up a measure,
That you may not transgress the measure.
So weigh all things with justice and fall not short of the measure.
And He has set the earth for His creatures;
Therein are all kinds of fruit and palm-tree with sheaths,
And grain with its husk and fragrant plants.
Which, then, of the favours of your Lord will you both deny…?
Thus in these verses the system of the universe is explained, which in structure and motion has a perfect connection and flawless harmony. The Holy Qur’an has explained that humans must adopt this example of balance and justice. This is because the Holy Qur’an declares mankind as the best of God’s Creation. If you rebel against this system and so break the system of just balance, and if you follow only your personal desires and your selfish ego, then you will suffer harm. There is no doubt in this.
Therefore, in your mutual relations you should develop a perfect connection and harmony and establish a just balance with one another. Do not transgress the limits that have been set. Whatever Allah the Almighty has Created in the world, whether living or in the form of a plant life, it should be treated with justice and complete balance. Then you will reap the rewards which Allah has bestowed.
We observe that even plant life has been given great importance in the Holy Qur’an. For example it specifically mentions that there are trees and crops and husk used to feed animals. Here I should point out that to translate the deep meaning of Arabic words into just one word of another language is very difficult. For example, here the Arabic word that is translated into English as ‘husk’ refers not only to dry grass or hay, but actually to every kind of fodder that is used to feed animals, upon whom humans are dependent. Animals support us in the sense that we consume them as food and use them in a variety of other ways for our benefit. And so we have even been taught to treat such animals in a just and balanced manner. Plant life also is essential to this system and is directly required for the survival of mankind and the animals upon whom humans depend. For example, it has become the means to produce fuel and energy in this present day.Therefore, it is clear to see that a failure to follow this natural equilibrium and balance can only prove harmful to humans.
The verse quoted continues by asking ‘which of the favours of your Lord will you both deny?’ Amongst those who reject God’s favours includes‘both’; who are these‘both’?
This includes both the nation’s leaders and the public at large. It includes both the rich and the poor. It includes those Western countries that are proud of their success and it also includes the less developed African and Asian countries. Allah has said very clearly that you should not transgress the established scales of justice and balance.
The use of nuclear weapons and firearms can only mean that you are rebelling against God.Such rebellion is leading us on a path of destroying the balance and equilibrium. Therefore, we have been reminded that you must discharge the rights due to your fellow humans and also must fulfil the rights due to your Creator.
In the Holy Qur’an at some places the emergence of atomic warfare has been indicated towards. As a Muslim who believes in the absolute truth of the Holy Qur’an, I frequently remind the world that these excessive enmities towards others are completely usurping human values and so are leading the world towards destruction. This must be avoided.
We ourselves have prayer, and we constantly beseech Allah that may this destruction of the world be avoided.
You have an influential voice in the world, and so I would strongly urge you to inform your own people and the wider world that by placing obstacles in the way of the natural balance established by God, you are moving rapidly towards destruction. This message needs to be conveyed further and wider than ever before and with much greater prominence.
Save yourselves and the world from this destruction.
It is my prayer that in an effort to maintain the beauty of nature and to develop an atmosphere of love and affection, that you be amongst those who work towards this goal without any vested interest and who make great efforts in this way.
May God enable to you to succeed in this noble endeavour.
At the end I would like to once again thank all of you for allowing me to address you and for listening to what I have said today.