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Jihad, Human Rights and the Treatment of Minorities in Islam

A paper read at the OIC (Organisation for Islamic Cooperation) on Jihad and human rights from Islamic and western perspectives. Islamic societies respected non-Muslim minorities but since the second half of the last century, political manipulation of an ill-informed clergy and extremists by governments has led to an abuse of personal freedoms and a call for Jihad.

[Translator’s Note: All references to the verses of the Holy Qur’an are given in Arabic as they occur in the text. The English translation, presented in italics, is taken from the translation of the Holy Qur’an by Hadhrat Maulvi Sher Ali Sahib(ra). Where the Promised Messiah(as) has himself stated a certain interpretation of the Arabic verse, this is incorporated in the main body of the text]. Translated by Amatul-Hadi Ahmad My purpose at present is only to draw your attention towards the second proof that God Almighty has provided for the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet(sa) that he was completely successful in fulfilling the mission for which he had come. 8 The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 On 27th December 1901 Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, India, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, addressed the large gathering of people who had come from different parts of the country. Presented below is the third part of translation of the address delivered on that day. The original Urdu text has been taken from Malfoozat, Volume 3, pp.156-163. Divine Guidance – Part III The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. 9 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 As I stated earlier, when the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) came he found the ‘patients’ to be at the terminal stage of their ‘illness’. It was an illness that had taken the patients close to [spiritual] death were they not already ‘dead’ and this fact may be verified from the history of the time. Ponder fairly and justly over this, that it is difficult enough a task to correct the shortcomings of even one person in one’s service How great must be the work of the one who reforms a whole nation that had gone astray and does so in such a way that it seems as if the previous shortcomings never existed? What greater proof of the truth of such a person can there possibly be? It is with regret that one has to state that Muslims have failed to pay any attention to the facts that provide such clear proofs that are rarely to be found with other Prophets. For instance, when we compare the Holy Prophet(sa) with the Messiah(as), it is regrettable to note that the Messiah( a s ) [according to the Gospels] was unable to reform even a handful of disciples, having frequently to remind them of the weakness of their faith, even referring to one as the devil. Their greed was such that one of them, Judas, who was the treasurer of the Messiah(as), would at times take some coins from the bag of money that had been entrusted to him. Ultimately, it was this greed that led him to betray his master and teacher for thirty pieces of silver. On the other hand, when we look at the Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), we see that they considered it better to give up their lives than to display even a minute particle of betrayal. European historians are forced to acknowledge that the love, loyalty and obedience shown by the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) towards him is such that the like of it is not to be found among the followers of any other Prophet. The Messiah(as) is especially lacking in this regard but his own status has been excessively exaggerated and despite weakness and numerous examples of events that are to be found in the Gospels, he has been made into a 10 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 god. The strength of his spiritual power and its attraction and absorption has been portrayed in such a way that it could not reform even a handful of disciples – what more could possibly be expected? Unable to account for the spiritual weakness of the disciples and their deeds, the christians argue that the power and strength was attained by them a f t e r t h e M e s s i a h( a s ) and that they then became exemplary. However, such a response is not worthy of serious consideration as it is a case of [the saying] ‘excuse for sin being worse than the sin itself’. It is like saying that there is no light when the lamp is lit but after the lamp has gone out, there is light – what an irrational argument this is! [The Christian a rgument that the disciples] could not become purified in the presence of a Prophet but achieved this afterwards, would only serve to indicate that the Messiah(as) was even weaker and at a lower level of spiritual strength [than would be suggested otherwise]. God forbid, this would be as if it were a ‘curse’ in that for as long as Jesus(as) was with the disciples they could not attain purity but when it was removed, they became immersed in the Holy Ghost – this would be strange indeed! Many English commentators have also written about this subject and have expressed the view that the people the Messiah(as) had around him were a people who were already acquainted with the purpose of the Torah and they were used to hearing about the word of God from the Pharisees and the Scribes. It would, therefore, not have been a strange thing had these people been pious and righteous. For a period of one thousand and four hundred years, Prophets and Messengers came to them on a regular basis and informed them about the laws and limits set by God. It was, in fact the case that there was placed within them the seed of obedience to God and respect of the limits set by God and of the importance of abstention from evil deeds. How then was it 11 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 possible that the people who were around the Messiah( a s ) should be unaware of the teaching he would have wanted to convey to them? Even if the Messiah(as) had been successful in reforming the people around him, it would not have been considered as something meriting great acclaim because if a person cures a patient after a physician has undertaken a complete diagnosis and treatment, it is not something that would be considered worthy of much praise. Hence, if we assume that the Messiah(as) did have some beneficial [reforming] effect even then it would not be worthy of much praise but regrettably there does not appear any example of the [reforming] benefit in any case. Judas sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver and Peter stood before him and cursed him. In comparison there is the example of the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) who in the battles of Uhad and Badr gave up their lives [for the sake of protecting their Master(sa)]. The point that needs to be justly considered here is that had the Holy Prophet(sa) not appeared and if the Holy Qur’an did not exist what, in all fairness, would be said of a Prophet the example of whose teaching and spiritual power were Judas and Peter? Such is the level of spiritual power and the teaching [as found in the Gospels] so incomplete and WESTERN COMMENTATORS HAVE HAD TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IF THE QUR’AN HAD NOT COME, THE STATE OF AFFAIRS WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY SERIOUS INDEED. THEY H AV E A C K N O W L E D G E D T H AT T H E HO LY PR O P H E T(S A) REFORMED PEOPLE WHO HAD BECOME LIKE BEASTS AND ANIMALS AND THEREAFTER HE PREPARED SUCH TRUTHFUL AND FAITHFUL PEOPLE WHO HELD THE HOLY PROPHET(SA) SO DEAR THAT THEY DID NOT CARE ABOUT THEIR OWN LIVES OR POSSESSIONS. 12 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 deficient that no wise person can call it perfect. Moreover, the human social, civic and political life bears no relation to it at all – add to this the remarkable fact that it causes no effect. The claim that is made [for the Messiah as god] is, therefore, totally against intel-ligence, conscience, laws of nature, rules of precedence and the generally accepted facts. Western commentators have had to acknowledge that if the Qur’an had not come, the state of a ffairs would have been very serious indeed. They have acknowledged that the Holy Prophet(sa) reformed [people who had become like] beasts and animals and thereafter he prepared such truthful and faithful people who held the Holy Prophet(sa) so dear that they did not care about their own lives or possessions. Such loyalty, obedience, affection and sacri- fice of one’s own life cannot be created unless there is within the leader and the followers a high level of spiritual power and attraction. A western commen- tator adds that the Arabs were not only taught real truthfulness but their mental capacities were also reformed and guided. The disciples [of the Messiah] could not have organised a small village but the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) showed their capa-bility by organising a whole world. Who can say that the parents of Abu Bakr and Umar had experience of ruling over a country and that was how Abu Bakr and Umar came to possess such skills? This certainly was not the case. Their skills arose only from the guidance and reformation brought about by the Holy Prophet( s a ) and by the complete teaching of the Holy Qur’an. Thus, on the one hand the Holy Prophet(sa) transformed his Companions into angels and on the other they became an embodiment of wisdom. It is a very clear and evident fact that the physician that cures an apparently incurable patient is hailed as a great physician but what would be said of someone who refuses to acknowledge such greatness, except that he is foolish and without sense. Our 13 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 Holy Prophet(sa) cured thousands of ‘sick’ people whose lives were entrenched in sin and each one of the patients was afflicted with multiple illnesses – as, for example, an ill person might say that he has headache as well as cataract, dropsy, gout and spleen problems and so on and so forth. The physician that heals such a patient would have to be acknowledged as being truly skilful, expert and great. Similarly, the ‘sick’ people that the Holy Prophet( s a ) c u r e d , suffered from numerous spiritual ‘illnesses’. The more we ponder over their weaknesses and sins and then upon the radical change that was brought about in their condition after accepting Islam, the more we have to acknowl- edge the great and elevated status of the Holy Prophet(sa) and the great strength of his spiritual power. Haughty stubbornness is another matter; it removes the capacity to see the light of truth, but should a heart not be bereft of the sense of justice and the mind possess some intelligence, such a one would have to acknowledge that no one has lived on this earth who brought about a greater reformation towards purity than did the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam. Against this we ask whom did the Messiah cure? What mirac- ulous example is there of his own spirituality, courage and spiritual power? Mere verbal claims do not by themselves serve any purpose unless there are accompanying examples in practice. In view of the great exaggeration about the status of the Messiah(as) that despite his [human] weakness and power- lessness he has been given the status of god, it is necessary that it is proved that his blessing had some efficacious results and that through his own powers a new example had been presented whereby the life of sins was brought to an end and the world was filled with angelic people. Instead, what we see is that very few people stayed with him and even the few that remained in his company were not reformed. Christians like to present a comparison between the Messiah(as) and the Holy Prophet M u h a m m a d( s a ). Strangely, how- 14 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 ever, they do not like to carry out this kind of comparison [of reformation of followers] and they do so quite unashamedly. H o w e v e r, if they were to compare the Holy Prophet(sa) with the Messiah (as) in the [efficacy of their powers to bring about spiritual reform in their followers], they would realise [the true nature of the issue]. Remember that Prophets come to prove the [reality of the Divine command] to create within oneself the characteristics of Allah and through their practice they illustrate the fact that their character is an example of the ‘character of God’. It is obvious that all the things that God has created are beneficial for man from one aspect or another. For instance, the tree, its leaves, its shade, its bark, its wood, its fruit, in fact all its elements are beneficial in one way or another. Man gains many benefits from the light of the sun. In short, all things are of this nature: useful and beneficial for man. However, we regret the situation of the Christians in that they have turned a humble mortal into God and the son of God but they cannot prove to the world any benefit of this. They can present no manifestation of his omnipotence when it should have been the case that their ‘son of God’ should have been a proof of the saying, ‘what the Father was unable to finish, the Son completed’. When we consider his life [according to the Gospels], we have to say, r e g r e t f u l l y, that he did not achieve anything. [According to Christian belief he gave up his life]; however, giving up one’s life to alleviate the suffering of others is not an act of wisdom or e x p e d i e n c y. What possible benefit can it bring to the suffering people? Justice and faith require that in comparison to the Holy Prophet(sa), the Messiah(as) should be viewed as being totally without achievement because in reality the Messiah ( a s ) did not have the opportunity that the Holy Prophet(sa) was granted, this being the Messiah’s misfortune and the reason why we cannot 15 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 claim that he was a perfect exemplar. There are two aspects of the completeness of a person’s faith. Firstly, we need to see what kind of relationship he has with God in times of difficulty and tribulation. Does such a person accept the will of God with s i n c e r i t y, true faithfulness and steadfastness? Does he persevere patiently without complaint, while continuing to praise and worship God Almighty? S e c o n d l y, at the time of his success and abundance does he forget God? Does there appear an objectionable change in him or is it the case that his relationship with God remains the same and he praises God and worships Him, and being magnanimous towards them, forgives his enemies thus providing proof of his elevated characteristics of kindness and courage? Why should it be the case that a person is attacked but he is not in a position to retaliate and take revenge? His non-retaliation is an act that cannot come under the category of high moral qualities of forgiveness and patience because he does not possess any power. Indeed, the example of powerlessness [of the Messiah(as)] is like that of a person who becomes tearful even from the shock of hearing verbal abuse. [A Persian proverb well describes] this situation as ‘a female who is referred to as being veiled yet she is without an outer covering’! Such a situation has no relationship with high morals or with forbearance. This is the nature of the example of the character of the Messiah(as). Had he attained a position of power and had he been granted the power to take revenge from his enemies and had then shown that he loved his enemies and forgave their faults, we would, of course, have had to acknowledge that he presented an example of high moral characteristics. However, to consider his deeds as being of a high moral standard when it is the case that he did not unfortunately have such an opportunity is blatantly shame- ful, because there were present circumstances to manifest] both aspects [of patient perseverance 16 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 as well as magnanimity]. There cannot be any proof of high moral characteristics. Consider now the comparison with our Holy Prophet( s a ). The Makkans made him leave his native land and put him through extreme pain and suffering for thirteen years. His Companions too were made to suffer such extreme cruelties that would make one shiver just to read about them. All through this period of s u ffering, the Holy Prophet( s a ) showed extreme patience and perseverance. However, after migration he had the opportunity to achieve victory over Makkah. He would have been within his rights to avenge the Makkans for their persecution of himself and his Companions. [yet he dis- played a character of the highest order]. He could have [if he so wished] finished them off and no opponent could have objected because the extent of persecution and the nature of their crimes warranted such punishment for the Meccans. Had the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) possessed the capacity of being wrathful, there was a strangely opportune moment as the Makkans had all been captured. Instead, what did he do? He let them all go free and said ‘La tathriba alaikum al-yaum’ , that is, ‘there shall be no reproof against you this day nor any punishment’. This is no small matter – keeping in view the extreme difficulties and tribu- lation of the earlier period in Makkah, how graciously is a deadly enemy forgiven! Such was the example of the high moral characteristics of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ), the like of which is not to be found anywhere in the w o r l d . It needs to be remembered that it was not the case that the Makkans merely rejected the Holy Prophet(sa). Simple rejection by itself does not lead to punishment from God in this world. [This occurs] when the rejection by a liar is accompanied by his objections exceeding the limits of decency and humanity, becoming shame-lessly insolent. M o r e o v e r, such opposition no longer remains within the limits of objection but becomes the source of schemes and plans for 17 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 causing all manner of pain and suffering [to the Messengers and their followers] and fulfilling such plans to the utmost limit. It is then that God’s sense of honour is stirred and He destroys such cruel people for the cause of His Messengers as He destroyed the people of Noah(as), and the people of Lot ( a s ). Such punishment is invariably a result of the mischief and cruelty that is perpetrated against the Messengers and their com- munity. Otherwise, mere rejec- tion does not lead to punishment in this world – the case of such a one is with God and there exists another realm of God’s punishment. Punishment that is inflicted upon people is due to their extreme cruelty [towards God’s Messengers and his followers] and for turning their rejection into ridicule, mockery and derision. Were they to state in a gentle and polite manner that they have not understood the matter and therefore are hesitant to accept the new message, such a rejection does not bring punishment because it is due to simple mindedness and lack of knowledge. I say it truly that had the people of Noah(as) objected in an honourable manner, God would not have punished them. All nations face punishment as a result of their own conduct. God has clearly stated that those who come to listen to the Holy Qur’an should be taken to a place of safety even if they should be the opponents or those who reject. This is so because there is no compulsion or force in Islam as is stated [in the Holy Qur’an]. T h e re should be no compulsion in religion. (Ch.2: V.257) However, should someone make plans for or commit murder or strive to make mischief and perpetrate cruelty, it is certain that he would face punishment. It is a general rule that criminal acts should lead to punishment. The Makkans were guilty of criminal acts and mischief; it was, 18 Divine Guidance – Part III The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 therefore, legitimate that they should be punished and the holy ground [of the Ka’aba] and its surrounding areas should be cleansed. However, the one who was ‘Mercy unto all the worlds’ and he who was the living proof of [the following verse of the Holy Qur’an]: Thou dost surely possess high moral excellences (Ch .68: V.5) [that is, the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam], while in possession of full strength and authority, said to his enemies who were guilty of crimes punishable by death: ‘La tathriba alaikum al-yaum’, that is, ‘there shall be no reproof against you this day nor any punishment’. The Christian priests should tell us where we are to find such a moral characteristic in the Messiah(as)? By what means can we bring such an example in the life of the Messiah( a s ) w h e n according to their own beliefs he was always being forced into situations of helplessness. He could not find a place of safety and security – (it is, however, against Ahmadiyya Muslims belief to even think that a Prophet of God can face such humiliating circumstances). To be continued In this journal, for the ease of non- Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or ‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Salallahu ‘alaihi wa s a l l a m ’ meaning ‘Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from ‘Alaihis salatu wassalam’ for the respect a Muslim reader utters. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘Radhiallahu ta’ala and is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him or her (when followed by the relevant Arabic pronoun). Also ‘ru’ or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him.