A Man of Peace
In the modest neighbourhood of Southfields, South-West London, you may be able to catch a view of a 2 acre plot of land blooming with greenery and flowers. The heart of the complex is its Mosque – in fact it enjoys the distinction of being the first Mosque built in London. Little do most people know that it is the home of a man who commands the hearts of over tens of millions of people across the world. They call him ‘Ameerul Momineen’- the leader of the faithful and their Khalifa.
Six days a week, whenever he is not on tour, he sits in his rather modest office and meets families. Every day he reads the thousands of letters addressed to him, by those who try to find spiritual peace and solace in his prayers and miracles. He tries to reply to as many people as he possibly can.
On Fridays he delivers the Friday Sermon at Western Europe’s largest mosque—Baitul Futuh—where he addresses his community worldwide. The community is established in over 200 countries. As he takes to the podium, his sermon gets broadcasted live on three channels, MTA 1, MTA 2 and MTA 3. Simultaneously, his sermon is being translated into more than six different languages. It is shortly after re-broadcast into over 12 languages. Perhaps there is no other leader in the world who can command so many millions of people at one single time and have them gathered around their TV sets, no matter which part of the world they may live in.
The Ahmadiyya Annual Convention in United Kingdom is a spectacle to behold. As he walks in to address a congregation of 30,000 people, he is received by slogans of ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) and salutations offered to the Holy Prophet (saw) as well as “Long live our Khalifa!” As soon as he starts speaking, pin drop silence is observed in the marquee. Each year his followers reaffirm their faith in the Messiah who they believe was foretold by the Prophet Muhammad(saw). His Holiness is the fifth successor to the Promised Messiah. One of the most awe-inspiring events is the pledge of allegiance at the hands of His Holiness. Followers place their hands on the shoulder of the person in front, following the practice of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad(saw) and form a long chain of 30,000 humans connected physically to the Khalifa. Words like “I will give precedence to my faith over all worldly objects” echo throughout the marquee. This is a very emotional moment for the followers reducing many to tears and sounds of weeping can be heard.
Driven into exile from his native country Pakistan, imprisoned for his faith, he fights on courageously against the tide of persecution and torturous activities. Almost each week members of his community are being martyred for their faith. Most notably, the attack on two Ahmadi mosques during the Friday prayer in Lahore, Pakistan – a culmination of years of un-policed persecution and state-sanctioned hostilities against his community At this very sensitive time, when asked for a response, His Holiness stated: “We are a peace loving true Muslim community. Thus there will be no improper reaction from any Ahmadi. Our salvation lies in our supplications to God Almighty and we believe that He has, and always will, help us.”
Among the many tasks he has, are to deliver an array of lectures and attend meetings. Since there is hardly any country left where he does not have followers, he travels extensively. He is to date, perhaps the most widely travelled Khalifa of the community. His worldwide campaign has led him to the House of Parliament, the Congress in Capitol Hill, a reception hosted by the Premier of Ontario, Military Headquarters in Koblenz, Germany and has had dialogues with several presidents and distinguished personalities across the world.
Most recently, in the face of the growing political tensions and the possibility of the outbreak of a nuclear war, he has personally reached out to warn world leaders like the President of Iran, Israel, Canada, America, China, Ayatollah Khamieni, King Abdullah, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Prime Minister of Britain and the Chancellor of Germany, to name but a few.
The utilisation of Print and Digital Media for the propagation of the message of Islam has been among his greatest concerns. Since then, he has set up organisations to muster all their efforts to impress the world with the true message of Islam as brought by the Prophet Muhammad(saw) – “Love for All Hatred for None.”
He supervises one of the greatest evangelical movements in the world. All members, young, old, male, female act as missionaries for the movement. In fact, all are engaged in efforts to distribute millions of peace leaflets to the public. The Khalifa desires that the “fear” of Islam should dispel from as many hearts as possible. Be it the outrage over the Danish cartoons or the protests over Qur’an burnings, it is clear that His Holiness has never demanded his followers to respond by protesting in the streets, nor should they, he says, remain indifferent; rather they should do all they can to engage in intellectual debates to defend the honour of Islam.
Since the question of “Burning the Qur’an” arose, His Holiness initiated a programme of Qur’an Exhibitions so that people may become familiar with those beauties and excellences which have attracted as many as a billion to this faith.
The request of building a Mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center was a bone of contention Opponents argued that it was an offensive move since the hijackers in the September 11 attack were associated with Islam. On this occasion, His Holiness suggested: “If a Mosque be built at the proposed site, then the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community would like to see churches, synagogues, Hindu places of worship and places of worship of all religions also built near Ground Zero. That would be a good example of how from an act of evil and terror has emerged unity and peace.”
Similarly on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, His Holiness launched “Muslims for Life”; a national campaign to obtain 12,000 units of blood so that it may be brought home to the American people that Islam does value the sanctity of life. All Mosques belonging to the Ahmadiyya Community were dedicated for blood drives and Ahmadi men, women, girls and boys gave blood to save the lives of American people.
In a recent response to the outrage caused by the release of the film Innocence of Muslims and the new cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad(saw) in the most crude and vulgar manner, His Holiness regrets that neither any country nor UN Charter has restrained a person from injuring the religious sentiment of others or defaming any Holy Religious Personage since it disrupts world peace and causes hatred to spill over and widen the gap between countries and religions. Believing the Prophet Muhammad(saw) to be the role model for mankind whose love and mercy extended to all, his vision is to see the youth stand in defence of their faith by the onslaughts being committed by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
His Holiness continues to tour the world to inspire and reform millions of Ahmadis so that the spirit of true Islam may be reinstated in order to bring about peace in society.
Murtaza Ahmad, born in Putney, London, was a member of the “Waqfe Nau” scheme. He recently graduated from the Jamia Ahmadiyya UK (Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology) and now serves as a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Community.