Apostasy, Blasphemy and Heresy Freedom of Religions Terrorism and Extremism

Promised Messiah’s (as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony

39The Review of Religions –May 2003 Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835-1908), the Promised Messiah and Imam Al- Mahdi(as) presented Islam in its p u re and pristine form, as b rought by Hadhrat M u h a m m a d( s a ). Under Divine inspiration he removed the shrouds of misconceptions and m i s i n t e r p retations, that had been wrapped around the teachings of Islam, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Ahmadiyyat is, there f o re , nothing but true Islam, which means peace. As the name Islam, given to the religion by God Himself implies it must bring peace to all spheres of human thought and activity and therefore any interpretation that contradicts this basic concept must be wrong. I present a glimpse of Ahmadiyyat’s ideological contribution to world peace and harmony, by quoting from the books of the P romised Messiah(as) and his successors. In particular, I have extensively quoted from Islam’s Response To Contemporary I s s u e s—a scholarly work of Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra), which explains how by following the Ahmadiyya i n t e r p retation of Islam, the issues threatening the peace and harmony of the world can be resolved. Let no religion claim monopoly of Truth. One area of contention between different religions is that some religions claim monopoly of Truth and Revelation, to the exclusion of all others—not believing that God revealed His guidance to any people outside their own. Such a notion creates nothing but bigotry and e x t remism. Commenting on verses from the Holy Qur’an (Ch.40:v.79 and Ch.35: Vs.24-25), Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra) says: Promised Messiah’s (as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony By Khalid Saifullah Khan 40 The Review of Religions – May 2003 ‘In view of above, it is manifestly clear that Islam does not monopolise truth, to the elimination of all other religions, but categorically declares that in all ages and in all parts of the world, God has been looking after the spiritual and religious needs of mankind, by raising Messengers who delivere d the divine message to the people for whom they were raised and commissioned.’ (I s l a m ’s Response to Contemporary Issues, p.15) Ahmadiyyat’s message to the world is: Revere the founders of all religions, who claimed to be f rom God and re c e i v e d acceptance from their peoples, as imposters can never pro s p e r a c c o rding to Qur’an and Bible. To p romote understanding between d i ff e rent religions Ahmadis hold such conferences in which the spiritual and moral teachings of founders of various religions are p resented by their followers. Let no religion claim monopoly over salvation. Another cause of re l i g i o u s fanaticism is the belief that no body who is outside the fold of their particular religion will ever receive salvation, forg i v e n e s s and mercy of God, and would remain in Hell for ever. On the contrary Qur’an says: Surely, those who believed in Muhammad and the Jews and Sabians, and the Christians— whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Ch.5:V.70) Commenting on this verse, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra) says: ‘Sabi is a term used by the Arabs to apply to the followers of all non-Arabic and non-Semetic re l i g i o n s which have their own revealed Books. As such, followers of all re l i g i o n s based on divine re v e l a t i o n have been granted the assurance that provided they do not genuinely fail to recognise the light of a new religion and stick honestly and truly to the values of their ancestral religion, they Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 41The Review of Religions –May 2003 have nothing to fear fro m God and will not be denied salvation.’ (ibid p 25). Again, he says: “There is a g reat misunderstanding today born out of re c e n t political rivalries between Jews and Muslims that according to Islam, all Jews are hell-bound. This is totally false in light of what I have recited before you from Holy Qur’an, and in the light of the following verse: ‘Of the people of Moses there is a party who guides with truth and does justice therewith.’ ( A l – A’raf Ch.7:V.160) (ibid p.27). How much tolerance toward s the followers of other religions would be generated if all religious communities adopt such broad-minded views about the followers of other beliefs! M o re o v e r, according to Islam Hell is like a hospital by passing t h rough which a person’s spiritual health is restored and a day would come when God’s mercy would quench the Fire of Hell. Therefore, while Heaven is eternal, Hell is not so. Sympathy for the whole human being regardless of colour or religious belief. As the Messiah of Latter Days, the mission of the holy Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was to unite and serve the mankind. A Message Of Peace was his last book, which he completed on 25th of May 1908—just a day before his demise. In this book he wrote: ‘God commences the Holy Q u r’an with the following verse of Surah Al-Fatihah: Al- hamdo lillah-i-Rabbil-A’lameen, i.e. All perfect and pure praise is due to Allah alone, Lord of all the worlds. The w o rd ‘ A’ l a m e e n ’ m e a n s ‘worlds’. It comprises all different peoples, all different ages and all the diff e re n t countries. Again, the commencement of Holy Qur’an with this verse was designed to counter the views of such people as attempted to monopolise God’s unlimited providence for their own nation, to the exclusion of all others, as though having created them God discarded them of being Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 42 The Review of Religions – May 2003 no consequence, or else perhaps they were shelved to oblivion by Him, or (God forbid) they were not created by Him.’ (A Message of Peace b y Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, p.9) He further said: ‘My countrymen! A religion, which does not inculcate universal compassion is no religion at all. Similarly a human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all. Our God has never discriminated between one people and another. This is illustrated by the fact that all the potentials, which were granted to Aryans, were also granted to races inhabiting Arabia, Persia, Syria, China, Japan, Europe and America. The Earth, created by God provides a common floor for all people alike and His sun and moon and many stars are a source of radiance to all alike; they also have many other benefits. Likewise, all peoples benefit from the elements created by Him such as water, fire, earth and other similar products such as grain, fruit and healing agents etc. These attributes of God teach us the lesson that we too should behave magnanimously and kindly t o w a rds our fellow human beings and should not be petty of heart and illiberal.’ (ibid p7-8) The Promised Messiah( a s ) announced: ‘I proclaim to all Muslims, Christians, and Hindus and Aryas, that I have no enemy in the world. I love mankind with the love that a compassionate mother has for her children, even more so. I am only the enemy of false doctrines which kill t ruth. Human sympathy is my duty. My principle is to d i s c a rd falsehood. I re j e c t paganism, wro n g d o i n g , misconduct, injustice and immorality.’ (Arbaeen pt.1, p 344) Advising his followers in very strong terms he said: ‘The principle to which we a d h e re is that we have Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 43The Review of Religions –May 2003 kindness of heart for the whole of mankind. If anyone sees the house of a Hindu neighbour on fire and does not come forward to extinguish the fire, most truly I declare that he does not belong to me. If anyone of my followers, having seen someone attempting to murder a Christian does not endeavour to save him, I most truly declare that he does not belong to me.’ (Sirajum-Munir p 28) In pursuance of the advice of the P romised Messiah( a s ), the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is actively engaged in many activities of service to humanity, re g a rdless of colour, creed or race, particularly in the area of health and education. Our c h a r i t y, ‘Humanity First’ has served many victims of war and internal strife in various countries. Treating fellow human being with motherly compassion is the solution to most socio-economic pro b l e m s of the world. True compassion for fellow human beings requires belief in One God Who created us all and is the true Master of us all. Ahmadi Muslims believe in a Living God Who listens to our prayers and even now speaks to him whom He loves —as He always did. Freedom of religion. There can be no peace in the world without according equal f reedom of religion to every b o d y. Many of the curre n t i n t e r p retations of Jihad are contrary to the concept of f reedom of religion. The P romised Messiah ( a s ) re f o r m e d them. Denouncing any compulsion in the matter of religion he declared: ‘The second principle on which I have been estab- lished is the clarification of doctrine of Jihad, which has been misinterpreted by some ignorant Muslims. I have been made to understand by God Almighty that those practices that are curre n t l y regarded as Jihad are entirely opposed to the teachings of Holy Qur’an. (Tohfa Qaisariyya) He further said: ‘None of the true Muslims Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 44 The Review of Religions – May 2003 who ever lived maintained that force should be employed in the spread of Islam. On the other hand, Islam has always flourished on the strength of its inherent qualities of excellence. Those who having the distinction of being called Muslims, yet believe that Islam should be s p read with force, do not seem to have any awareness of the inherent beauties of Islam.’ (Ti r y a q u l – Q u l u b footnote, p 167) Explaining his point he said: ‘If compulsion in any way had been employed in winning converts and the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) had been the fruit of compulsion, it would have been impossible for them to have demonstrated at the time of trials, such steadfastness and sincerity as only true believers can display.’ (Masih Hindustan Mein pp.11-12) As there can be no compulsion in matter of faith there can be no punishment of simple apostasy. . Loyalty of Muslim residents of non-Muslim states. Doubt is often cast on the loyalty of Muslim citizens living in non- Muslim countries. The Promised Messiah(as) issued the following guidance on this issue: ‘…The truth is that according to Holy Qur’an, it is forbidden to go to war against a government which does not interfere in any way with Islam or its practice, nor uses force against us in order to promote its own religion.’ (Kishti Nuh, p.68) To his opponents who charged him with preaching loyalty to the non-Muslim government of British India, he said: ‘I do not flatter the (British) Government as some ignorants imagine, because I consider it just and a duty on account of my faith to e x p ress gratitude to the Government.’ (Tableegh Risalat, Vol 10, p.123) Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 45The Review of Religions –May 2003 Ahmadi Muslims re g a rd it a religious duty to render obe- dience to their re s p e c t i v e countries of residence, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, and remain loyal to them, and they enjoy the freedom to expre s s , p ropagate and practise their faith peacefully. Islam rejects every form of terrorism. Rejecting every form of t e r rorism for any cause w h a t s o e v e r, Hadhrat Khalifa- tul-Masih IV declared: ‘As far as Islam is concerned, it categorically rejects and condemns every form of terrorism. It does not provide any cover or justification for any act of violence, be it committed by an individual, a group or a government… I most strongly condemn all acts and forms of terrorism, because it is my deeply rooted belief that not only Islam but also no tru e religion, whatever its name, can sanction violence and bloodshed of innocent men, women and children in the name of God.’ (Murder in the Name of Allah by Hadhrat Mirza Ta h i r Ahmad) Surely, our world would be a much safer place to live, if all religious communities whether Muslims or non-Muslims, honestly and sincerely condemn violence and terrorism in its every form and manifestation, for any cause whatsoever, however noble that cause might be. There is no worldly punish- ment for blasphemy. In some countries, re l i g i o u s minorities are persecuted by the majority on the pretext of b l a s p h e m y. In Pakistan, for instance, the offence of blasphemy carries mandatory death penalty. Stating the Quranic teaching on this Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra) says: ‘Having studied the Holy Q u r’an extensively and repeatedly with deep concen- tration, I have failed to find a single verse which declares blasphemy to be a crime punishable by man. Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 46 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Although the Holy Qur’ a n very strongly discourages indecent talk, or the hurting of the sensitivity of others, with or without rhyme or reason, Islam does not advocate the punishment of blasphemy in this world, nor vests such authority in anyone.’ (I s l a m ’s Response to Contemporary Issues b y Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, p.39). I n t e r-religious cooperation in service to humanity and eradication of social evils.. Commenting on verses of Holy Q u r’an (Ch.5:V.3; Ch.60:Vs.8-9; Ch.3:V.65), Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra) says: ‘Muslims are also taught to invite the People of the Book and to cooperate with them in spreading the message of Unity of God—a belief s h a red with them. The import of the verse below (3:65) is to emphasise the point of commonality and chalk a mutual programme for the benefit of mankind, rather than to highlight the areas of differences resulting in discard.’ (ibid p 45) Reminding the families and the social and religious leaders their responsibility to help the states in arresting the growing moral decadence of society i n t e r n a t i o n a l l y, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra) says: ‘…But what I have been trying to emphasise is merely the fact that according to Islam, the State machinery alone is inadequate to s u p p ress, discourage, or minimise crime. Once criminal tendencies are permitted to grow and flourish in homes and societies in general, the best a government can do is to wipe out the symptoms from time to time. The root cause of evil is far too deep for the long arm of the law to reach. It is the primary job of families, religious leaders and leaders of public opinion in every society to eradicate evil.’(ibid p99) Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 47The Review of Religions –May 2003 Here has been stated a golden principle for promoting inter- faith cooperation in serving humanity and calling people to the observance of universal moral values and discipline, which is the basic responsibility of every religion. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community always extends its cooperation whole-heartedly, to any religious g roup engaged in social and humanitarian service, and refor- mation of society. Ahmadiyya community is constantly engaged in efforts aimed to achieve spiritual and moral upbringing of its members, by the main organisation of the Jama’at, as well as by its auxiliary organisations com- prising men, women and c h i l d ren, called Khuddam-ul- Ahmadiyya, Ansarullah and Lajna Imaillah.. All of them are constantly engaged in imparting religious knowledge to their respective members, in order to make them morally disciplined and law-abiding citizens. All these efforts contribute to the peace and harmony of society, as all the crimes, before assuming tangible shape, take birth in hearts and minds. Ahmadiyya concept of an Islamic government. Another threat to the world peace are movements growing in many Muslim countries, aiming to enforce Shariah, and ‘Hudood’ (punishment of crimes such as murder, theft, adultery, apostasy) as they understand it. They follow the politicised e x t remist Islam of medieval ages, rather than the more understanding and benign Islam of the Holy Pro p h e t ’ s( s a ) t i m e . They interpret Jihad in a way that suits their political ambitions. They wish to enforce Shariah on the non-Muslim subjects of Muslim countries too, s p read Islam by force and punish those who recant Islam after once having accepted it. They advocate death penalty for a p o s t a s y, blasphemy, adultery and whatever they re g a rd as ‘Fitnah’ (disorder) etc. The Mullas (clergy) claim that they being the doctors of Islam, should be given the right to interpret Shariah and judge the validity of democratic decisions such as country’s Constitution and law. This is, no doubt, an explosive situation, as among the Muslim clergy itself, there Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 48 The Review of Religions – May 2003 are fundamental differences on the understanding of the Shariah. Shariah, for instance, applied in Saudi Arabia is different from the one of Iran. Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra) has discussed the situation in detail in his above-re f e r re d book. He has done a very interesting analysis of problems threatening political peace of the world and has stated the salient f e a t u res of an Islamic state, which cannot be re p ro d u c e d here due to constraints of space and time. Mention of just a few points below may be of interest: Though the Qur’an speaks of a democratic system, it does not prescribe any particular form of government, to the exclusion of others. Any form of government is fine, as long as it delivers absolute justice to all the citizens without discrimination, dis- c h a rges the responsibilities of maintaining internal and external security, provides food, clothing, shelter and basic needs to its citizens and grants f reedom of expression and religion, without imposing any particular religious law on those who do not believe in it. Neither a secular government should d i v o rce itself from universally recognised moral values, nor people belonging to a particular religion have the right to enforce its religious laws upon people of other faiths. In an Islamic government the absolute sovereignty belongs to God and so the law should be based on Qur’an, the conduct of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) ( S u n n a h ) , and Traditions (Hadith) and no law would be valid if it is against them. In matters of government, its decisions should be made t h rough mutual consultation (Shura). Authority to decide matters is a trust, and it must be reposed where it truly belongs. Those entrusted with authority must discharge the trust with absolute justice and with all honesty, integrity and spirit of selflessness. Both the choosers and the chosen should do justice and no loyalty to a political party is allowed to interfere in the choice. The responsibilities of religion and state do indeed overlap but only in a spirit of cooperation with each other. Neither should have the intent Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 49The Review of Religions –May 2003 to monopolise. There being no compulsion in matter of faith, religion does not need to be the predominant legislative author- ity in the political affairs of a state. As Islam lays down ‘Absolute Justice’ as the basic principle of running a gov- ernment, any government which is run on this principle, is in effect, an Islamic government. If Islamic Shariah is imposed on non-Muslims in Muslim coun- tries, then by the same token of absolute justice, the same right must be conceded to non- Muslim states to impose their law on their Muslim citizens, for example, that of Manusmarti in India and Talmud in Israel. In Madinah, when the Holy Prophet himself was the head of the state, Islamic law was not imposed on Jews, Christians and pagans living over there . A c c o rding to the famous ‘Meesa’q-e-Madinah’ (the Covenant of Madina), the non- Muslims were given a choice; they could get their matters decided either according to Q u r’an, or their own re l i g i o u s S c r i p t u re or the pre v a i l i n g custom. No Muslim state should go against the practice of the Holy P ro p h e t( s a ). And this is the path to peace. Enforcing majority’s Sharia over the minorities against their will can only give rise to blood b a t h s . Ahmadiyyat’s new world order. The Promised Messiah(as) laid the foundation of a new world order by introducing a scheme, called ‘Wasiyyat’ (Will). According to it, the testator promises, on his own free will, to lead a life of righteousness dedicated to the service of God and mankind and paying one-tenth of his income and pro p e r t y. About the utilisation of funds so generated, he said: ‘Funds so collected shall be e n t rusted to an Anjuman consisting of honest people of learning, who by mutual consultation will spend these funds on the propagation of Islam, on spre a d i n g knowledge of the Holy Q u r’an and other re l i g i o u s scriptures, and on preachers appointed to administer to the spiritual needs of the Movement and mankind in general….In these funds Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 50 The Review of Religions – May 2003 there shall also be a share for the orphans, the needy, and the new converts who may not have adequate means of livelihood, while they are members of the Movement.’ (The Will, p 42-43) Hadhrat Mirza Bashir- u d – D i n Mahmud Ahmad (ra) ,Khalifa-tul- Masih II, delivered a speech, at the Annual Gathering in Qadian, on December 28,1942, on the subject of ‘The New Wo r l d Order of Islam’. Explaining the importance of ‘Al-Wasiyyat’ in establishing a new world order of peace and free of want and distress, he said: ‘To sum up, the system of ‘ A l – Wasiyyat’ comprises within itself the whole social and economic system of Islam. They are mistaken who think that the fund established by ‘Al-Wasiyyat’ can be used only for the verbal propagation of Islam. This is not correct. ‘Al- Wasiyyat’ contemplates both verbal propagation and practical establishment. It no doubt includes missionary e ffort, but it equally includes the complete establishment of the system under which the need of every human being should be looked after in a dignified manner. When the system attains maturity, it will p rovide not only for mis- sionary work, but will also help to abolish want and d i s t ress by making adequate p rovision for the needs of all individuals. An orphan will no longer beg, nor will a widow have to ask for charity, nor a needy person to suff e r a n x i e t y. The system will be a mother to children, a father to youth and will aff o rd security to women. Under this system, not by means of compulsion or coercion, but out of re a l a ffection and goodwill, a b rother will be eager to help his bro t h e r. Nor will such sacrifice be in vain. Every giver will be re c o m p e n s e d many times over by God. The rich will not suffer loss nor will the poor suffer privation. Nation will not fight nation, nor class will contend against c l a s s . I assure you that the New O rder will not be inau- Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony 51The Review of Religions –May 2003 gurated by Mr. Churchill or M r. Roosevelt. Declarations like the Atlantic Charter will accomplish nothing. They are full of defects and short- comings. New Orders are always established in the world by Prophets raised for the purpose by God. They have no bitterness against the rich, and no bias for the poor. They are neither of the East nor of the West. They are the Messengers of God and p roclaim the teachings, which furnish the foun- dations of true peace. Today also peace will be established only through the teachings of the Promised Messiah, (on whom be peace), the foundations of which were laid in Al-Wasiyyat in 1905.’ (‘The New World Order’— ‘Nizaam-e-Nau’, Published English translation by Tabshir Rabwah, P 114-116) Fortunate, indeed are those who listen carefully and follow the ideology and teachings of the Holy Qur’an as expounded by the Promised Messiah of this age. Blessed, indeed are those who practise the true inter- p retation of Islam’s teachings and ideology, because it is the only way to achieve world peace and harmony. All the programs of our community aim to achieve this object, with the sole purpose of earning pleasure of the Creator by serving His creation. In one of his poems the Promised Messiah(as) says: Come towards me with complete sincerity, as herein lies all peace and security. There are ferocious beasts all around you and I am alone the fort that can provide security and peace. Promised Messiah’s(as) Ideological Contribution to World Peace and Harmony ABOUT THE AUTHOR Khalid Saifullah Khan is a Retired Chief Engineer WAPDA Pakistan and was a former Administrative Service Officer for the government of Australia. He has also served in a number of senior posts within the Ahmadiyya Community and has for the last 30 years, contributed a number of articles to various Ahmadiyya Community organisations including the Review of Religions. Khalid Saifullah Khan has also studied the translation of the Holy Qur’an and Arabic at Qadian.