Gratitude to God, Queen and Country
A well-known Tradition of the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw), reports that he said, “He who is not thankful to fellow human beings is not thankful to God.” Thankfulness to God must be continually expressed. Our Creator has, without our asking, universally provided us with countless blessings such air to breathe, food, and other faculties and capabilities. Perhaps the most bounteous of all gifts is the bestowal of Divine guidance through Divinely-commissioned vicegerents and their successors. For Ahmadi Muslims we have much to be grateful for that Divine system of succession to Prophethood, known in Islam as Khilafat. It is this blessing that sets the Community apart from all other Muslim sects and religious denominations. As successive governments in Pakistan have sought to criminalise the very expression of faith by Ahmadi Muslims, the incumbent Khalifa, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), and his predecessor, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh), had to migrate from Pakistan and seek refuge in the United Kingdom, where for over a quarter of a century, the seat of Khilafat has been. Islam staunchly advocates love for and loyalty to one’s country, and thus as Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, Ahmadi Muslims have a lot to be grateful for both to Her Majesty and Her Majesty’s Government. The freedoms we enjoy such as to practice and propagate our faith, are fundamental human rights yet they are denied to our co-religionists in other parts of the so-called Muslim world.
Genuine appreciation can best be shown through heartfelt prayers. Hence, on the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen Victoria, the Promised Messiah(as), addressed her Majesty in a specially written treatise entitled Tofah-e-Qaisariyyah or A Gift to the Queen, in which he congratulated her, prayed for her and presented a golden principle to establish peace in the world by honouring all Prophets of God of all ages. In his address to the 2012 Peace Symposium UK, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, reminded us of those prayers of the Promised Messiah(as) and offered the same prayers for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Other than prayers, one of the best ways of showing our gratitude to our country and nation is through continued loyalty and service. One formula for this expression of gratitude materialised in the form of an Annual Charity Challenge initiated under the auspices of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) in 1985. Organised mainly by the youth of the Community, this event has, over the years, raised in excess of £1 million for worthy British causes, including Save the Children, Royal British Legion and Royal National Institute of Blind People to name but a few. This year to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK organised a commemorative Charity Challenge in May at the Tower of London. In addition to the regularly supported charities, this year funds were also raised for the Queen’s own Jubilee charity. If service to one’s country is a fitting way to demonstrate one’s gratitude to it, then service to humanity at large is a sure way of manifesting our gratitude to God.
But even as each journey must have a beginning so too does the journey towards becoming truly grateful to God, according to Islam, begin with the search for righteousness. It is as we strive to achieve that fear and love of Allah that we begin to understand what it means to be genuinely grateful to God, through which God has promised us great reward, for He says: …If you are grateful, I will, surely, bestow more favours on you… (Holy Qur’an, Ch.14:V.8)
Tommy Kallon has been on Editorial Board of The Review of Religions since 1998 and was President of Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya UK (MKA UK)—main organisers of the Charity Challenge—from 2008-2010.