Adapted from Official Urdu Reports by Abdul Majid Tahir
Translated by Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael
The Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, undertook a historic trip to Canada, including Vancouver and Calgary, from 15th to 27th May 2013. The objective of the tours of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba is to consolidate the spiritual training of his followers, for which His Holiness leads the five daily prayers and raises matters of importance in his Friday Sermons. For an ordinary Ahmadi, the highlight of this tour is the honour to have a Mulaqaat (private audience with His Holiness, during which Ahmadis seek advice on personal matters, support and prayers of their revered leader). Mulaqaat is regarded as a highly spiritual, emotional and blessed event. The tours are also an opportunity for His Holiness to convey the true teachings of Islam to all and to raise awareness about the Islamic message of peace, unity, faith and loyalty. The following is part 1 of a two-part series on the tour.
15th May 2013
His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiahas, arrived in Vancouver British Columbia as a state guest. His Holiness was received by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Hon. Jason Kenney, who specifically travelled from Ottawa to welcome the holy guest. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba attended a short welcome reception at a Fairmont Hotel conference room where he discussed matters of mutual interest with the Canadian officials. His Holiness explained the plight of Ahmadis who have been bitterly persecuted in Pakistan and he advocated support for these oppressed individuals. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba arrived at his residence at 6:25 p.m. and led the afternoon congregational prayers. His Holiness stayed at the home of a local Jama`at member. A marquee was erected in the back garden to facilitate congregational prayers. Later in the evening, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba was taken under police escort to inspect the newly-built Baitur Rahman Mosque. His Holiness was warmly received by a 2,000-strong crowd, some of whom had travelled more than 8,000 miles for this momentous occasion. The devotion, commitment and absolute dedication of these worshippers towards their Khalifah cannot be captured in words. After carrying out the inspection of the mosque Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led the evening prayers at 9 p.m. before returning to his residence.
16th May 2013
After leading congregational dawn prayers, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba spent most of the day attending to his extensive and wide-ranging official commitments relating to matters of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. His Holiness led the evening prayers in congregation at 5 p.m. which was followed by an Ameen ceremony (celebration to mark the first complete reading of the Holy Qur’an) for many fortunate children. Later this evening Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba granted a private audience to 206 people from 45 families. After leading the congregational prayers at 9:40 p.m., His Holiness retired to his residence.
17th May 2013
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba attended to his wide and varied official commitments after offering congregational prayers. Today, His Holiness inaugurated the newly-built Baitur Rahman Mosque in Vancouver, Canada. It was an emotional occasion as many worshippers travelled many thousands of miles only to be able to offer Jumuah (Friday) prayers led by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba. The Friday sermon was attended by3,500 people. Thereafter, the Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) Western Canada was formally inaugurated by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba with the flag hoisting Ceremony. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba delivered a faith-inspiring address espousing the importance of building mosques and the responsibilities of the worshippers. This sermon was relayed live across the globe via MTA. Later in the afternoon, His Holiness granted Mulaqaat (private audience) to 234 members of 35 families. A new convert to Islam was extremely pleased when Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba gave him the Islamic name of Nasir; which means helper. The official day of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba ended after offering the evening prayers in congregation at around 10 p.m.
18th May 2013
After offering dawn prayers at 4:30 a.m., Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba carried out his official commitments. At 11 a.m., His Holiness attended a 45-minute press conference at the site of the newly inaugurated Baitur Rahman Mosque in Vancouver; amongst the media outlets invited for this press conference were CBC, CTV, Global TV, Joy TV as well as newspapers The Province and Vancouver Sun. Along with the above-mentioned major outlets, there were more than 20 other ethnic and mainstream media representatives present at the inauguration as well. The sheer magnitude of the media presence and coverage provided for His Holiness’ tour of Vancouver was unprecedented in Canada. Soon after, His Holiness addressed a special reception held to celebrate the opening of the Baitur Rahman Mosque. During his address, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba said: “I would like to proclaim and declare that this Mosque will prove to be a source of spreading love, affection, peace and brotherhood for all people irrespective of whether they are Ahmadi or non-Ahmadis or whether they are Muslim or non-Muslims. The doors of our Mosque will always be open to the people of all religions, because this Mosque is a means of manifesting God’s grace, mercy, love and compassion for mankind.” His Holiness also addressed the issue of jihad by explaining that when permission for defensive war was given to the early Muslims, it was given as a means to protect all religions and all places of worship. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba said: “In essence, it can be said that the first ever ‘Charter for the Protection of Religion and Religious Rights’ is found in the Holy Qur’an and it has been associated directly with a mosque. In other words, whenever a new mosque is built, a new chapter for religious freedom is opened. It does not only give religious freedom, but it orders to protect all the religions.”
Ron Starr, Councillor of the City of Mississauga, announced that his Council had decided to recognise May 18th as “Ahmadiyya Day.” He said that in Ahmadi mosques there is “peace, hope and a recognition that by working together will make the world a better place.” This event was given wide press coverage and millions received the message of Islam through the detailed broadcasts by the CTV, CBC and many other media representatives. During the reception Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba candidly and frankly discussed issues of mutual interests with the guests and met with the many dignitaries present in the reception hall. At the end of the reception, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led the congregational afternoon prayers. After a short break, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba granted Mulaqaats for 250 members of 27 families. Before retiring to the residence, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led the evening prayers in congregation and led the communal Nikah ceremonies (proclamation of marriage) of five fortunate couples. At the Nikah ceremony, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba expressed that the welfare of the bride is of paramount importance; His Holiness explained that the groom’s family has a huge responsibility to accept and integrate the bride into their family in a nice manner. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba also gently cautioned new brides that by not fulfilling their responsibilities or making excessive demands of their husbands, they may end up harming their new relationship. His Holiness reminded the listeners that the fundamental key to make marriages work is Taqwa. These new relationships should be based on the complete and whole truth; the straight truth which leaves no room for ambiguity or misunderstandings. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba instructed that the most important quality that one should seek in one’s life partner is their piety. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba warned that young men who are brought up in the West should not stop their new wives from wearing hijab and maintaining a high level of purdah. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba advised the newlyweds to follow the commandments of Allah and give precedence to the faith over worldly matters and prayed that these new relationships are lasting, happy and fulfilled.
19th May 2013
After leading the prayers at dawn, His Holiness attended to his numerous official engagements. In the afternoon, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presided over the last session of Jalsa Salana Canada. He graciously awarded degrees to graduates from the Jamiah (Ahmadiyya College of Theology). Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba conferred shields to various Jama’ats for excellence in performance and gave gold medals for academic excellence to bright and high-achieving students. In his address, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba emphasised that a true Ahmadi is one who follows the teachings of Islam. Just taking Bai’at or the oath of allegiance accounts for nothing unless accompanied by virtuous actions. This address was relayed live all across the globe via MTA. Thereafter, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presented talented young women medals for academic excellence and then led the International Bai’at (initiation) ceremony for those entering into Ahmadiyyat, before leading the afternoon prayers in congregation. At 6:15 p.m. His Holiness held a class with the students attending high schools and universities in Canada. There are more than 1,000 Ahmadi students in Canada and there is an active Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association (AMSA). AMSA has arranged seven conferences about the life and character of the Holy Prophetsa. One Peace Conference was attended by more than 700 guests and had 15 Holy Qur’an Exhibitions and bookstalls visited by thousands of people. The class started with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an. Some skilled research students presented their respective projects; commenting on one of the projects, His Holiness said that gene therapy for plants that have 94% mortality has very little commercial potential. His Holiness explained that the roots of the plants that grow in dry and acrid land tend to be stronger and deeper and hence can withstand storms; whereas plants with shallower roots fail when faced with adverse weather conditions. Another research project was about building a CO2 reservoir to absorb CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming. His Holiness expressed concern that it would be very challenging to have a CO2 reservoir for all the carbon emissions from millions of cars on motorways, aircrafts and industry. His Holiness stressed the importance of planting trees on one-fourth of the dry land. When explained that there are underground reservoirs of CO2, His Holiness said that this sort of technique will take nearly 25 years before showing any results for a wider section of humanity. The next project was about the causes of accidents amongst cyclists and other elements. His Holiness advised that to expand his research into topics like road and traffic sense of drivers and the availability of police and ambulance services. His Holiness encouraged research in stem cell study.
In response to a question about homosexuality, His Holiness explained that this is an inappropriate behaviour and is against the laws of nature. The normal natural tendency is that one is attracted to a member of the opposite gender; however, as a result of certain childhood experiences, young adults can become inclined towards homosexuality. The Holy Qur’an relates that a nation with such tendencies was finally destroyed by God, when after repeated warnings they did not repent. Ahmadis should protect themselves and their children from such behaviour. His Holiness expressed the opinion that there is only a tiny minority that are inclined to such tendencies, but when these actions are given legal protection then this behaviour proliferates. More and more younger people get entangled into such activities when it becomes an acceptable part of the school curriculm. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba raised this point with Mr. Stephen Harper, the current Prime Minister of Canada. His Holiness warned that by letting homosexual behaviours flourish nations are heading towards self-destruction. If 50% of a nation develop such tendencies then that nation is unlikely to survive. Adoption of children is not an answer to that. His Holiness directed that Ahmadis should avoid any such activities. Those who are regular in prayers, offer Istighfar and have good moral training by their parents are more likely to be saved from such behaviour.
In response to a question, His Holiness explained that young men should try to get married as soon as they feel ready. His Holiness advised girls studying medicine and other long-term courses that they can get married during their education if they find a suitable proposal. By mutual agreement they can continue with their studies. His Holiness gave the example of the United Kingdom, where many students get married in their early 20s and were able to continue their education. If young men show a commitment to family life, then many of society’s evils will be wiped out. In response to requests, His Holiness advised that students should read the Holy Qur’an and contemplate on its meanings. One student said that in the West it is generally perceived that purdah (covering) is a form of oppression. His Holiness replied if a woman declares that she covers her head by her own free will, then how can this possibly be oppression? His Holiness explained that the philosophy behind purdah is that of modesty. This is not a new concept and has always been recognised to be part of a woman’s nature. At the time of Mosesas, two women waited for men to finish watering their herds before advancing to the well; these young women hesitated because of modesty. His Holiness explained that modesty is not a religious teaching, it is part of feminine nature and needs to be maintained. The Holy Prophetsa said that modesty is part of faith; if one is modest one would be careful in how one interact with others. His Holiness explained that modesty, purdah and clear boundaries between opposite genders provide protection against impertinence in the society. In this country 65% of marriages break down; and one of the reasons for that is free mixing and people being unfaithful to their marriage partners. This is why Islam has suggested that in order to maintain modesty, women should take charge of their homes. The upbringing of the children is the women’s responsibility. She should do it in such a way that her children are a benefit to their society and country. Furthermore, banning the wearing of the headscarf cannot be justified; it is against freedom of choice. Giving his own example, His Holiness said that his attire of choice is a a long coat and a turban; it would not be fair to ban such outfits. A woman who wishes to guard her modesty and purdah should be allowed to do so; purdah is the identity of a religious woman. To ban purdah is also a form of oppression. People should be free to dress the way they like. His Holiness explained that debates about purdah only complicate a simple matter. This is like a move of the Dajjal.
In response to a question, His Holiness explained that it is not appropriate for Muslims to work in a shop where they have to handle pork. It is a commandment of the Holy Prophetsa that anyone who makes, stores, serves, sells or drinks alcohol is accursed. If one is in the state of destitution, one is allowed to eat pork to survive. If people are extremely desperate for work then they can work in places where such forbidden practices take place; however the Ahmadiyya Jama’at will not be in a position to accept any financial contribution from such individuals because the Jama’at is not in a state of desperation.The system of banking and interests are inevitably intertwined these days. It is really important to take counsel and fully understand Ijtehad by research. His Holiness has set up a committee to look into the system of Islamic banking. His Holiness said that he advises those who wish to start new businesses to invest their own money and to not take loans from the bank. Thereafter his Holiness granted Mulaqaat to 76 members of 18 families who have travelled thousands of miles from Vancouver, Toronto, Saskatoon, Ottawa and Yellowknife. Later, His Holiness presided over a class with the female students attending schools, colleges and universities. The class started with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an. A Hadith was read, which related that the Holy Prophetsa used to offer a prayer seeking steadfastness in religious practices. Holy Prophetsa explained that to be steadfast in one’s faith is a special blessing of God.
As all the girls were dressed in beautiful matching black coats, His Holiness inquired how many of these long attires were borrowed. All the students explained that these black coats were their own. His Holiness counselled these young ladies to make these long jackets part of their routine outfit; His Holiness directed them to find a nice head scarf of their choice and always make sure that they have a headscarf on when they go out. A presentation was made on the topic of “an Ahmadi girl is a torch bearer of the world” explaining that the principles given in the Holy Qur’an, are based on wisdom and give practical advice about leading a successful life. This was followed by a question-and-answer session; His Holiness expressed doubts about the legitimacy of using drone attacks in Pakistan; instead resources should be focussed to arrest the terrorists. However, the trouble is that in Pakistan the terrorists take refuge in the mosque and Pakistani law enforcement agencies are not allowed to enter a mosque. His Holiness explained that in Syria and Libya both the government and rebels are on the wrong side. It is an injustice to arm the rebels against their own government. The Taliban were armed against their government and now the West is attacking them as they refuse to follow the agenda of Western politicians. His Holiness explained that all this is happening because people have forgotten God. His Holiness said that he raises awareness about this point in his meetings with various groups and leaders. His Holiness discussed the idea of micro-finance, which was given by a Nobel laureate from Bangladesh. Maybe it would be beneficial for the US to invest in micro-finance technology in the slums rather than wasting resources on drone attacks. There was a discussion about the interest rate in micro-finance, to which his Holiness said that much of Islamic banking and Islamic finance do not in fact practice Islamic teachings; they merely give the current practices a different name. His Holiness said that most of our scholars are researching the Islamic finance system and it will be discussed once the outcome is finalised. His Holiness explained that any financial project that improves the state of deprived and neglected people of society should be adopted. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba explained that to create the ambience of the Islamic teachings, it is important to make a mosque. His Holiness agreed with one of the students that 25% of women of the Jama’at should train in the Aisha Academy. His Holiness praised a young lady who was speaking very good Urdu and encouraged the other girls to learn to understand and speak Urdu.
His Holiness advised to keep store a stock of tins of dried food and water in the house in cases of natural disasters and emergencies. His Holiness gave the examples of recent natural disasters in New York and Washington where people who had some dried and tinned food coped with the recent natural disaster very well by having a supply of food at home. In response to a question His Holiness said that mature and talented ladies can join organisations that work for the welfare of women. His Holiness explained that before he was declared as a prophet of God, the Holy Prophetsa joined in a pact for the protection of disadvantaged and poor of the society. His Holiness explained that Ahmadis carry out humanitarian work whenever needed; we work with many NGOs in African countries and coordinate humanitarian efforts with them. It is important that if Ahmadi women join any organisation, they must maintain their identity and retain their values. Before joining these scehmes, it is important to ascertain that such activities are not conditional to voting for or fundraising for a certain political party. In response to a question His Holiness said that oppression of Ahmadis in Pakistan will come to an end one day; we do not know when that will happen. What is happening in Pakistan is testing the faith of Ahmadis. His Holiness explained that those living in the West must not think that they will never be tried and tested for their faith; if not them, then their next generation may face trials and tribulations for their faith. His Holiness said the circumstances in Pakistan will get better one day; there are so many Ahmadis living in Pakistan who possibly can’t be accommodated anywhere outside Pakistan. Pakistani Ahmadis will have to learn to survive somehow until the circumstances for them improve. The class finished at 9:20 p.m.; thereafter Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led evening prayers in congregation before retiring to his residence.