Khilafat World Religions

Hoping For World Peace

(Interview with His Holiness by Lat Blaylock, Editor of REtoday Magazine and prominent RE advocate. The interview took place on Monday, 27th February 2023 at Masjid Mubarak in Tilford, Surrey)

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the Fifth Caliph of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community. It was my honour and privilege to interview him early in 2023 at the community’s headquarters in Tilford, near Guildford in Surrey. The interview will be useful for GCSE and examination students learning about Islam and its diversities.

REtoday is read by teachers, and you were a head teacher of two Ghanaian schools. As a teacher, in what ways did you teach Islamic principles in education?

The high schools in Ghana which I led were secular schools. When I went there, they taught biblical knowledge, so I also started to teach Islamic knowledge. In the very first year almost all the students, Christian and Muslim, did well in the subject, and this encouraged Christian students to take it up too. If young people are taught properly the study of religion this encourages and helps them in practical ways. More than 80 per cent of our pupils were Christians. Our assemblies included both Islamic and Christian prayers so that the pupils understood these religions and they could also see the openness of Islam.

I am interested in your work with girls’ education.

The Prophet of Islam said that every Muslim, boy and girl, should try to get knowledge. He also taught that half of religious knowledge could be gained from his wife, Aisha. There are quite a number of Hadith traditions which were passed on by her. After his death, she used to answer questions of the Companions of the Prophet in matters where they were unsure, and she shared the guidance and knowledge she had gained from the Holy Prophet. Women who are knowledgeable can teach men. Girls should be properly educated as in this way their children will become good assets for the community. In our community 99 per cent of the women, even in underdeveloped settings in some countries, are educated according to the definition of education in their country, if not better than that. For instance, in Pakistan we say that an educated person has at least passed the equivalent of Year 8 in secondary education. Our communities prioritise this issue for everyone, even in rural villages where education is not easily available.

You have emphasised in your role as Fifth Caliph the importance of peace-making. In what ways do you see the Prophet himself as a peacemaker?

When the Prophet migrated from Makkah to Madinah, he made a covenant between non-Muslims and Muslims so they should be united in society, and he said that every religion should be given freedom. He recognised that Muslims, Jews and Christians, the ‘people of the book’, could come together in common cause and work together, that we are all the creation of God Almighty and should create peace in the world. So since this is what the Prophet practised, and we recognise that there is no person who can ever practise the teaching of the Holy Qur’an more than him, he showed us the best example. This subject is explained in the books I have recommended.*

Teachers of RE often counter the very negative stereotypes of Islam in the UK media. You have worked in many ways to encourage Muslims to be both firm and generous in response to the attacks on Islam that come from the ignorant. What is your advice to teachers as they seek to enable respect between religions?

The teaching of Islam is found in the Holy Qur’an: this is what we read, understand and practise accordingly. Secondly is the Sunnah, the example the Prophet put before us to follow. Thirdly there are the traditions (Hadith) that were narrated later on by some Companions (of the Prophet). There are six books of authentic Hadith. If there are any contradictions in the Hadith then the Holy Qur’an takes primacy. We are trying to practise this true teaching and explain it to others. If teachers explain this to their students, then this will represent the true teaching of Islam. The teaching must be portrayed by the actions of Muslims as well. And in this way the negative portrayal of Islam can be removed. This is what we have been doing, and [we] have been recognised for it by non-Muslims in the UK, the United States, Africa and elsewhere. We Ahmadi Muslims try to practise all these teachings, and this is why we are not extremists. We are following the law of the land and we try to create peace. In our society the teaching itself cannot do everything; you have to set an example. We notice that all religions have good teachings, but they are not being practised by all believers.

You have spoken about the importance of the spiritual life, devotion to Allah and personal piety. I am interested in ways in which young people today experience prayer and the sense of the presence of the Most Merciful God. What are your messages to young people about this aspect of Islam?

If you have not experienced anything, you cannot believe in it. We claim that Islam is a true religion that can bring you close to your creator. If you are not offering the five daily prayers as prescribed in the teaching of Islam or not reading the Holy Book, then the Holy Qur’an warns that the prayers of some of the people will be returned to them because their practice is different from their teaching. If a true Muslim is praying, then he should also discharge the duties he owes to his fellow people. The Qur’an says Allah is ‘Rabbul Alameen’, the Provider and Sustainer of all the worlds and religions, including all Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others. If he is the ‘Most Merciful’ then why should we deny the rights of others? If we are discharging our duties to each other and praying to Allah, then we can increase our spiritual level and we can enhance ourselves in our morals. That is what we need today!

I wanted to ask you about your commitment to development goals, to sustainable environmental programmes and to justice for the poor even in times of climate crisis. How do you see this as an expression of Islamic ideals?

Allah has made this world and he is All Merciful and the Sustainer of his creation. The Holy Qur’an says he provides food to the animals and to you as well. If we have disturbed the balance of nature by cutting down trees and by increasing carbon emissions and so many other things, and if we’re not trying to provide a remedy to whatever we have done to imbalance the world, then it is we who are responsible. I believe there is big potential for growing more food in the world. There is vast land which can be utilised for producing food in Africa, North America, South America and Asia. If we love each other and love our Creator we owe it to each other and to Allah’s creation to feed ourselves, to grow more food so that we don’t let any person die of hunger.

If we have excess food these days, we throw it away instead of giving it to those in poverty – this comes from our lack of interest in other people. But if the wealthy nations discharge their duties, then we can save the world. The Islamic teaching is that you should try to show sympathy to others. Islam doesn’t say there should be socialism; what it does say is that we should be careful in providing food to every person.

Your neighbour has the right to your care – not just the neighbour who lives in your street. The definition of ‘neighbour’ is extensive. Neighbours are also those who are working and travelling with you. This is how you can save the world: not only by providing food but also by creating peace. If you are cutting trees in one place, then we should plant more elsewhere! Humans should use their knowledge for positive purposes. We speak with hope although other people are currently less hopeful about the crisis of the environment. We should not be pessimistic!

Your Ahmadiyya communities are sometimes subject to hostility and persecution, and I know you have been yourself. What would you say about the current position of Ahmadiyya Muslims within the wider tapestry of global Islam? What are the prospects for acceptance?

Our work is missionary in nature, and you cannot achieve your goals within a short period of time. Not all the prophets achieved their goal within their lifetime, and in some cases this took hundreds of years. We believe that as time goes on acceptance will come. We are seeing, every year, hundreds of thousands of people are joining us from among the Muslims and other religions. This happens gradually and slowly and one day we believe, Insha’Allah [God willing], we will be recognised by the people of the world. This is why you are here doing this interview today! The community started from one person in a small village or town, Qadian in India, where there was no access from road or rail or anything, and our Ahmadiyya communities have now spread over 200 countries. I don’t say that everyone will accept Ahmadiyya Islam, but I hope that those who oppose us furiously now will stop.

Do you have a message for teenage readers of this article?

Consider the example that your parents have set before you. When you are 13, 14, 15 or even 18 you may think that you are very mature and should be totally free, but you should realise what your parents have taught you. What is important is to know your Creator and honour him: your time should be better utilised than simply being on the internet, playing games or wasting your money. Try to think over who is our Creator, the purpose of religion and how we should discharge our responsibilities to him. Think on life in this way and we can have a better society for your country and for your world.

 * During the interview, His Holiness commented that many teachers rely on the works of orientalists about Islam and that they should learn from authentic sources. Books that he highly recommended for RE teachers are:

  1. Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an, books/Introduction-Study-Holy- Quran.pdf
  2. The Life and Character of the Seal of the Prophets:
    1. Volume 1, book/life-character-seal-prophets-vol-1/
    1. Volume 2, book/life-character-seal-prophets-vol-2/
    1. Volume 3, book/life-character-seal-prophets-vol-3/
  • The Economic System of Islam, economic-system-islam/
  • The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, books/Philosophy-of-Teachings-of- Islam.pdf

For further information, please email

Acknowledgement statement from REtoday:

This interview first appeared in REtoday magazine, Autumn 2023 (RE Today Services). Used by permission.  

(You can also watch part of the interview at 11:09 on YouTube)

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  • Assalamoalaikum wa rahmatullahi barkatuhu
    His Holiness (aba) has presented true teachings of Islam before the Interviewer. We hope that this interview may have cleared up many misconception about Islam of the Interviewer.