World Organisations

Foreseeing the Failures of the League of Nations

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Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Having witnessed the painful suffering and unprecedented loss of lives in the First World War, there was a pressing need to establish methods whereby the world would never have to witness such horrors again. Subsequently, the League of Nations was established on 10th January 1920 as the first worldwide organisation, with the principal objective of maintaining world peace. Unfortunately, the League of Nations failed to ensure lasting peace, and in just under two decades, the world was once again plunged into a global war, and as of 20th April 1946, the League of Nations ceased to exist.

The then-Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), owing to his great foresight, highlighted very early on the major flaws in the organisation and its potential failure to maintain justice and lasting peace amongst nations. We present a short extract from among his profound analyses in which His Holiness (ra) spoke about how the true principles of establishing justice and peace were only to be found in the Islamic teachings, and failure to adopt these would result in the failure of any organisation that seeks to establish justice and peace. On 28th December 1940, His Holiness (ra) stated:

I wish to discuss a few matters. Allah the Almighty states:

وَإِن طَآئِفَتَانِ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ ٱقۡتَتَلُواْ فَأَصۡلِحُواْ بَيۡنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِنۢ بَغَتۡ إِحۡدَىٰهُمَا عَلَى ٱلۡأُخۡرَىٰ فَقَٰتِلُواْ ٱلَّتِي تَبۡغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيٓءَ إِلَىٰٓ أَمۡرِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَآءَتۡ فَأَصۡلِحُواْ بَيۡنَهُمَا بِٱلۡعَدۡلِ وَأَقۡسِطُوٓاْ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُقۡسِطِينَ

If two nations amongst the believers fight against each other, then all the other nations should come together and establish peace between them. If, after that, one of them transgresses against the other, or does not even accept the proposal to establish peace and is determined to keep fighting, then the rest of the countries should all unite to fight against the party which has transgressed and not allow the oppressed country to be left stranded on its own حَتَّىٰ تَفِيٓءَ إِلَىٰٓ أَمۡرِ ٱللَّهِ that is, until the government or nation which has instigated [the aggression] returns to the command of Allah. فَإِن فَآءَتۡ and if it desists [from fighting] and admits its error, then do not seek revenge against them, and do not, considering yourself to be the aggrieved party, make undue demands upon them. Instead, make peace between the two parties who initially fought one another. وَأَقۡسِطُوٓاْ  and act justly, let it not be that out of anger you make a decision which is against equity and justice by claiming that since they did not pay heed to your words that therefore they should be treated harshly. You should  become free of all facets of bias and malice and act with justice and understand that إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُقۡسِطِينَ that is, Allah loves those who are just.

I cannot expound on this matter in detail at the present moment. However, three or four years ago when Italy attacked Abyssinia, at the Jalsa Salana [Annual Convention], I spoke on this subject. I mentioned that in order to establish peace, the only League of Nations which can truly be of benefit is one whose foundations are based upon Islamic principles. If the foundation of the League of Nations is not established on the Islamic principles then it can never establish peace. Currently, the practice is that whenever a nation is defeated, [the victors] seek to disgrace and humiliate it through every possible means. For example, upon the conclusion of the previous war [World War I], they sought to completely subdue Germany through the Treaty of Versailles and they exceeded all bounds of justice. However, the Holy Qur’an states that when a party surrenders itself, then any treaties which are established thereafter should be based upon justice. It should not be the case that a particular party was the enemy but now has been defeated should be humiliated by passing strict verdicts against it or to exact revenge against it. In other words, those who are seeking to establish peace should not deem themselves to be the aggrieved party, rather, despite having been at war with them, they should consider themselves as mediators in this case.

The second point is that there are no conditions stipulated in the current League of Nations which state that if a country starts a conflict, they will fight against it. Rather it states that they shall try to persuade them against doing so. When it [i.e. the League of Nations] knows that its role is only to try and convince others, why would it prepare for actual combat? And why would those with ill intent be afraid of this league?

The third point is that the Islamic teachings instruct that if, in a conflict between two nations, one decides to go to war, then the other nations should all join together and fight against the aggressor. Since a single nation cannot compete against all the rest of the nations, therefore it will certainly surrender and will seek to make peace. However, there is no such law stipulated in the League of Nations, therefore no nation is impacted by any decision it makes. Owing to these flaws, the League of Nations has repeatedly failed to establish peace. Now, even great thinkers are writing that the League of Nations ought to have an army. However, the fact of the matter is that the League of Nations does not only need an army, but apart from this, it also needs to adopt the other principles which Islam has spoken of, otherwise it cannot establish peace.  


Translated by The Review of Religions translation team. The Review of Religions takes full responsibility for any errors in translation.

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