100 Years of Lajna Ima’illah – Shaping the New Century

Official Transcript of Concluding Address by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) at the Lajna Ima’illah UK National Ijtema 2023 on Sunday 24th September 2023

*Please note that this transcript may not be reproduced without express permission, either on other websites or in print format.

After reciting Tashahhud, Ta`awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) said:

‘With the grace of Allah, this year, Lajna Ima’illah is celebrating its centenary year, having been founded in Qadian by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II at the turn of 1922 and 1923. 

Where it started with just a few women in Qadian, Alhamdulillah today, Lajna Ima’illah is established all around the world. Where this is a means of happiness, we must also remember that we are not like those worldly or secular groups that look for any excuse to hold celebrations and who would be satisfied merely at the thought of reaching 100 years of existence. Instead of euphoria and elation, such milestones should serve as a means of reflection and an opportunity to express our gratitude to Allah the Almighty for His favour and blessings. The time for real celebration will only be when the objectives for which Lajna Ima’illah was founded are fulfilled. 

Indeed, upon founding Lajna Ima’illah and the other auxiliary organisations, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II (ra) clearly identified their respective objectives and responsibilities. In various addresses to Lajna, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) expressed his high hopes and expectations. He made it clear that no Ahmadi woman should ever consider herself inferior to any man or remain hidden in his shadow. In all respects, men and women are equal. 

For example, in terms of building a relationship with Allah the Almighty, where Allah had instructed men to submit to Him, to worship Him and to establish a living relationship with their Creator, He required the same of women. It is certainly true that according to the commands of Allah the Almighty and the Holy Prophet (sa), women must play a fundamental role in safeguarding their home and family environment, especially in terms of raising their children. At the same time, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) made it clear Ahmadi ladies are duty-bound to serve their society and to strive for its prosperity, especially by conveying the teachings of Islam. 

Hence, no Ahmadi woman should be under the misconception that tabligh is just for men. Rather, consider it your mission to spread Islam’s teachings by living up to its values and beliefs and preaching its message far and wide. It is up to you, as members of Lajna, to show the world what Islam is and what it truly represents. 

In today’s world, much is said about women’s rights, and false allegations are routinely raised against Islam. If a Muslim woman directly responds to such allegations by proudly exhibiting her faith and using her intellect and positive experiences to educate those ignorant of Islam’s teachings of how it has protected women’s rights, it will hold much greater weight than if any man responds on her behalf. So, it was to fulfil these monumental moral and spiritual objectives that Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) established Lajna Ima’illah a century ago.

Now, taking benefit from one of his addresses to Lajna, I shall discuss the standard of faith to which Ahmadi Muslim women should aspire. 

Whilst addressing Lajna Ima’illah, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) stated that there was no difference between a man and a woman when it came to their religious obligations. Indeed, Allah the Almighty has said in chapter 4, verse 2 of the Holy Qur’an, 

خَلَقَ مِنۡھَا زَوۡجَھَا 

That He has created men and women as mates. Meaning they have the same responsibilities and will be held equally accountable by Allah the Almighty for their deeds. 

It is true that Islam has prescribed a division of labour wherein men are given the principal responsibility for providing financially for their family, whilst women are given the primary duty of running the home affairs and morally training their children. Irrespective of this distinction, Islam has greatly emphasised the importance of educating girls and ladies so that their potential is unlocked and they become assets to their community. 

Furthermore, being educated will enable mothers to nurture and guide their children in a way that they develop into well-rounded and responsible citizens who contribute positively to their communities. So, even if there is a degree of divergence in the responsibilities of a man and a woman, Islam has established equal rights in terms of their value as human beings and their feelings and emotions. 

Therefore, Ahmadi women should consider their religious obligations as an opportunity to please their Lord and to attain His rewards and blessings. He gave the analogy of two people who came before their king; one is a criminal, looked down upon with contempt and disgust by others. The felon stands before the monarch with trepidation, fearing his sentence. The other person who comes before the king is a distinguished military general whose purpose is to brief the monarch on matters of state. Where the public and courtiers could not hide their disdain for the criminal, they are left in awe by the stature of the decorated general and observing how the king is pleased with him. When it comes to our spiritual and moral obligations, we should seek to live our lives according to the command of Allah the Almighty so that when we stand before Him, we do not go forth shamefaced like a disgraced criminal, but like the general who fulfilled all that was required of him. 

Thereafter, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) stated that the lives of the Holy Prophet (sa) and the Prophet Jesus (as) were documented and preserved in far greater detail than other prophets of God. In both eras existed righteous women who attained an esteemed spiritual rank. 

Amongst the disciples of Jesus (as) were women who would spend their days and nights seeking to spread his teachings and were ready for any sacrifice for their faith. For example, when Jesus (as) was taken down from the cross and placed in a cave, his devoted and loyal female disciples came to his aid whilst his male followers deserted him out of fear. Today, Christian women continue to take pride in their noble efforts. 

In the blessed era of the Holy Prophet (sa), the sacrifices given by Muslim women were also extraordinary and beyond all compare in the history of mankind. During the first few years of Islam, Muslims were relentlessly persecuted and subjected to barbaric cruelties. Slavery was rampant in Arab society, and those slaves who accepted Islam were treated even more inhumanely by their merciless owners. For instance, a Muslim husband and wife were tormented and forced to endure such unspeakable cruelties at the hand of their master that one cannot help but shudder at the mere thought of it. They were made to lie in the blistering heat upon boiling sands and dragged for long stretches only because they had accepted Islam. They were savagely beaten to such an extent that their eyes became utterly swollen, and no part of their bodies were spared excruciating injury. 

Once, whilst they were being tortured, the Holy Prophet (sa) happened to walk by. The slave owner demanded they renounce their faith and reject the Holy Prophet (sa), but they remained steadfast and bore every cruelty for the sake of their faith. Upon observing this, the Holy Prophet (sa) was grief stricken and anguished like a father seeing his child in deep distress. Overcome by emotion, the Holy Prophet (sa) counselled them to remain patient and reassured them that soon their agony would come to an end and for them lay an eternal home in Paradise. Some time later, the husband succumbed to the torture and died. Somehow, his wife survived, yet the vindictive slave owner did not spare her. Instead, he took a spear and violently pierced her torso and killed her. As such, it is thought she became the first martyr of Islam. 

As the relentless persecution inflicted upon the Muslims continued, the Holy Prophet (sa) instructed some of his companions to migrate to Abyssinia. As one group prepared to leave Makkah, Hazrat Umar (ra), who had not yet accepted Islam, noticed a Muslim lady gathering her belongings and asked where she was going. Heartbroken at having to leave Makkah, she responded that they could no longer tolerate the cruelties of the Makkans and so were leaving their homeland despite being entirely blameless. Upon seeing her angst and hearing her grief stricken words, Hazrat Umar (ra) felt shame and was overcome with sorrow. With tears in his eyes, he could only bring himself to meekly say goodbye and wish her the best. 

These were the outstanding examples of early Muslim women who were ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of their faith, including leaving behind their homelands. Moreover, they never forgot the objective of their migration, which was to attain religious freedom. Thereafter, they devotedly practised their faith and prioritised it above all else. 

Today, many of you or your elders were also forced to leave your homeland due to religious persecution. Having done so, you must ask yourselves whether now, having attained religious freedom, are you giving precedence to your faith over everything else? Are you ready for every possible sacrifice? 

Some may wonder what is meant by sacrifice in this day and age. It is quite simple: to act upon the commands of Allah the Almighty and the Holy Prophet (sa) at all times. It is to worship Allah five times a day at the appointed times. It is to study and ponder over the meaning of the Holy Qur’an and to act upon its commands. It is to train your children according to Islam’s teachings and instil Islamic values within them. 

In this society, where there is religious freedom, unfortunately, certain other so-called freedoms are aggressively pushing society down a dark and dangerous path. Vulgar activities and beliefs are taking root that are incredibly harmful and a means of driving the coming generation away from religious teachings and moral values. Hence, guiding your children and helping them navigate between right and wrong is essential and a great challenge to which Ahmadi Muslim mothers must rise. 

Another famous example of outstanding faith which Hazrat Musleh Mau’ud (ra) has narrated is that of the sister of Hazrat Umar (ra). At a time when he remained a formidable opponent of Islam, Hazrat Umar left his home, sword in hand, intending to kill the Holy Prophet (sa). On the way, a person asked Hazrat Umar (ra) where he was going. When he told him, the man said that he should first inquire after his own family as his sister had accepted Islam. 

Hearing this, Hazrat Umar (ra) became furious, went straight to his sister’s home, and knocked forcefully at the door. His sister and her husband were reciting the Qur’an, and upon realising that Hazrat Umar (ra) had come, they hid their Muslim teacher and the pages of the Qur’an that were in their possession. However, Hazrat Umar (ra) had heard them and soon realised what they had been reciting. In a fit of rage, Hazrat Umar (ra) lunged forward in an attempt to strike his brother-in-law, but with immeasurable defiance and bravery, his sister rose like a lion to shield her husband and was struck. As blood poured from her nose, she fearlessly addressed Hazrat Umar (ra), that, “Yes, we are Muslims. And if you wish to kill us, go ahead.” 

Upon witnessing how his sister, who was bleeding on account of his strike, had sacrificed herself to protect her husband and observing her extraordinary faith and courage, Hazrat Umar (ra) was left astonished and ashamed. His previously aggressive tone instantly softened, and he asked to see what they had been reciting. His sister said that he was impure and that if he wished to read the Holy Qur’an, he must bathe himself. After complying with her demand, Hazrat Umar (ra) started reading the Holy Qur’an, and immediately, its beautiful words penetrated his heart and enabled him to recognise the truth of Islam. 

Consequently, he rushed to find the Holy Prophet (sa), not to kill him as was his original plan, but in a state of complete submission. So, it was the magnificent standard of faith and phenomenal courage displayed by Hazrat Umar’s (ra) sister that ignited a spiritual revolution within him. 

Thereafter, as the persecution of the Holy Prophet (sa) and his Companions in Makkah continued, a delegation from Madinah, including a devout Muslim lady, came to meet the Holy Prophet (sa). The members of the delegations expressed their heartfelt desire for the Holy Prophet (sa) to migrate to Madinah. The Muslim lady who joined the delegation had an incredible passion for her faith and possessed the highest morals. Later, she would regularly participate in Jihad and train her children so that they grew to be utterly devoted to the cause of Islam. 

When the Holy Prophet (sa) ultimately decided to accept their offer and migrate to Madinah, the final meal served to him in Makkah was prepared by the sister of Hazrat Aishah (ra), which she wrapped in a piece of cloth cut from her shawl. The fierce enemy of Islam, Abu Jahal, along with his accomplices, approached her seeking information about the whereabouts of the Holy Prophet (sa) and Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), but she did not breathe a word. Upon this, Abu Jahal violently struck her with such force that she sustained severe injury, and her earring fell to the ground. Despite the terror inflicted upon her, she remained resolute and did not give away any information. 

Thereafter, when the Holy Prophet (sa) safely arrived in Madinah, it was not only Muslim men who were overjoyed, but so too were the Muslim women and girls. Welcoming the Holy Prophet (sa), they passionately recited songs expressing their gratitude to Allah the Almighty, observing that the ‘moon of people’ rose from the East but that Allah the Almighty had caused their spiritual moon to ascend from the mountain known as Saniyatul Wada, in whose direction the Holy Prophet (sa) had come from. 

Following the migration of the Holy Prophet (sa), Muslim women continued to make exceptional sacrifices for the sake of their faith. After the Battle of Uhud, where Muslims sustained losses, the state of the Muslim women was such that they did not care whether their husbands, sons or brothers had died. They inquired only about the well-being of the Holy Prophet (sa) and were overcome with relief when they learned that he was alive and well. This was all due to the Muslim women’s absolute faith and truth of the Holy Prophet (sa), which inspired them to make sacrifices of the highest order for the sake of Islam. Their names are recorded in history for having played a remarkable role in the foundation and spread of Islam and serve as a means of pride and inspiration for Muslims today. 

Citing their example to members of Lajna Ima’illah, Hazrat Musleh Mau’ud (ra) stated that in this era, Ahmadi women have also claimed to have accepted a prophet, the Promised Messiah (as), who came according to the prophecies of the Holy Prophet (sa), and was a pure reflection of him. Thus, every Ahmadi woman must ask themselves if they possess the same spirit and devotion that the female Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) had for the sake of their faith and whether they exhibit the same levels of righteousness and spirituality. Are Ahmadi ladies emulating the standards of worship of the early Muslim women, wherein apart from offering the obligatory prayers, they would spend their nights engaged in nawafil. They would fast and be ready for every sacrifice. 

Recently, at the UK and Germany Jalsa Salana, I presented many examples of how the female Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) would strive diligently to fulfil the demand of their faith and discharge every single command of Allah the Almighty and the rights of His worship. They were those righteous women whose lives were transformed from a state of ignorance to enlightenment only due to their obedience and love for Allah the Almighty and His Messenger (sa). They made such sacrifices that cannot even be imagined in this day and age. 

For example, once a Muslim army prepared for battle. A Muslim woman pleaded to join the ranks of the men on the frontline. When a man tried to stop her, she became angry and indignantly asked if women were not required to serve Islam. Having observed this exchange, the Holy Prophet (sa) smiled and even laughed a little. Seeing her passion, he permitted her to join the expedition as a nurse. Ultimately, she played a full role in the war, tending to the wounded Muslim soldiers and was awarded a share of the proceeds of the war. Her service also set a precedent for future battles where Muslim women, including the wives of the Holy Prophet (sa) and his daughter, Hazrat Fatimah, would nurse the wounded soldiers. 

Indeed, there was not a single war or battle where Muslim women did not partake and play a full role. Hence, where the Holy Qur’an speaks of believing men, it also speaks of believing women. In light of such magnificent examples from early Islam, Hazrat Musleh Mau’ud (ra) expressed his heartfelt belief that if, in today’s era, Ahmadi women were infused with the same spirit and passion of the early Muslim women, Ahmadiyyat would prosper and progress at great speed. 

Thus, as Ahmadi women, you must recognise your duties to spread the message of Islam amongst other ladies so that the future generation of society can be rightly guided. Given the pivotal influence of women on their progeny, the long-term effect of preaching to women will have a more profound and longer-term impact on society. In order to be successful in tabligh, you must seek to increase your religious knowledge. Always remember that today, knowledge and prayers are our only weapons of choice in the cause of spreading Islam. 

In front of all Ahmadi women is the example of Hazrat Aishah (ra), who, in terms of religious knowledge, attained a rank far beyond the men of her time or, indeed, any other era. Accordingly, women have the potential to scale the greatest intellectual heights, and so you must never underestimate yourselves. Rather, seek to fulfil your rich potential as it will provide you with the capability to raise your children in a way that they grow to be beneficial to society. It will also enable you to defend your faith and beliefs. 

These days, once again, the issue of the meaning of Khatme-Nabuwwat – the finality of the prophethood – is being raised very loudly by our opponents as they seek to incite people against Ahmadiyyat. Non-Ahmadi Muslims claim that we, God forbid, do not believe the Holy Prophet (sa) to be the seal of the prophets. In this regard, it was a woman who provided the answer to this question long ago. 

On one occasion, while speaking about the status of the Holy Prophet (sa), Hazrat Aishah (ra) said, “Say he is the seal of the prophets, but do not say that there is no prophet after him.” With these insightful and profound words, Hazrat Aishah (ra) settled the debate by clarifying that whilst the Holy Prophet (sa) was the final law-bearing prophet, the door to prophethood remained open. She made this statement due to her wisdom and foresight as she recognised the risk of future dissent over this issue. 

Regrettably, so-called Muslim clerics who consider themselves scholarly and wise have fallen prey to the ignorance and falsehood that Hazrat Aishah (ra) tried to save the Muslim ummah from. So now, it lies in the hands of Ahmadi women to strive to emulate the example of Hazrat Aishah (ra) and guide the world. 

Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) has also mentioned Syed Ahmad Barelvi, who was a mujaddid from India and who died a few years before the birth of the Promised Messiah (as). Once, Syed Sahib went for Hajj, and the travelling party included 100 Muslim women who, according to their custom, strictly covered their faces with the veil at all times in public – [as a] custom and religious duty as well. Yet, when they reached Makkah and were about to start Tawaf – encircling the Ka’bah – Syed Sahib addressed them and said, “My sisters! The same Islamic teaching which commanded you to observe purdah and to veil yourselves now commands you to unveil yourselves here as you do tawaf. The women immediately uncovered their faces due to their total submission to the commands of Allah the Almighty. 

Every Ahmadi woman should strive to uphold this standard of obedience to Allah. And so, as you mark your centenary, Lajna Ima’illah should not be satisfied if 40%, 50% or 60% of Ahmadi women are those who are fulfilling their religious obligations. On the contrary, you must not be content unless 100% of the Lajna members are reaching the highest standards of worshipping Allah and striving to understand the teachings of the Holy Quran. You cannot rest easy until all members of Lajna seek to convey Islam’s teachings and fulfil their duties to ensure the morals and spiritual training of the next generation. 

Only when you reach such heights will you have fulfilled your objectives, and only then will you be able to truly celebrate 100 years of Lajna Ima’illah. Otherwise, merely reaching 100 years is meaningless and not a measure of any success. 

Furthermore, as you strive to achieve your religious objectives, never be embarrassed or fall prey to any inferiority complex. Instead, take pride in your faith and religious conviction. Likewise, if your husbands ever prove an obstacle in the fulfilment of your religious duties, you should tell them without any fear or hesitation that you will never take a backward step when it comes to the fulfilment of your religious obligations. If you manifest such courage and firm faith, you will come to reform Ahmadi men so that they also prioritise their faith over all worldly matters. 

Now, as the Ijtema concludes and you return to your homes, every one of you should inculcate within yourselves a firm determination to act upon Islam’s teachings at all times. As the page turns on the first century of Lajna Ima’illah, a blank page now lies before you in the shape of the coming century, and your conduct and standard of faith will determine what is ultimately written upon it. 

May it be that your sacrifices and unwavering loyalty to your faith come to be recorded in the history of Islam just like those women who accepted Islam in the time of the Holy Prophet (sa). May it be that when it comes time to write the history of this era, the blank page of which I spoke is decorated with stories of countless Ahmadi women from this era who proved that they were ready for every sacrifice for the sake of their faith and who gloriously fulfilled their responsibilities to their religion. May it be that history bears witness to the fact that Ahmadi women were at the vanguard of establishing the Oneness of God in the world, and may we soon come to witness the momentous victory of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) where the people of all nations and races spiritually unite and embrace Islam’s true teachings. Surely, only in that lies the salvation of the world. 

May Allah the Almighty bless you all, and may the dawn of the second century of Lajna Ima’illah prove a means of eternal progress of the Jama’at of the Promised Messiah (as), Ameen.’