Islam – A Religion of Peace & Compassion
The worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at and Fifth Khalifah, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, was welcomed to the Houses of Parliament in London by the United Kingdom Deputy Prime Minister and various UK Secretaries of State and Parliamentarians on 11th June 2013. The Khalifah was visiting Westminster to deliver the keynote address at a special reception hosted by Rt. Hon Ed Davey MP the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in recognition of the 100 Year Centenary Celebrations of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in the UK. The centenary celebrations were attended by 68 dignitaries, including 30 MPs and 12 Members of the House of Lords, including 6 Cabinet Ministers and 2 Ministers. Various media organisations including the BBC, Sky TV and ITV were also present to cover the event. Prior to the formal proceedings, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba held private meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Energy Secretary Rt Hon Ed Davey MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP and Siobhain McDonagh MP. The formal proceedings began at 1.05pm with a brief welcome address given by Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. This was followed by short addresses by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, by Douglas Alexander, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and by Theresa May, the Home Secretary.
Introductory Remarks by Guests
Rt Hon Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:
“It is a real privilege for us to host the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community today. We know well the amazing work His Holiness [Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad] does for the cause of peace and also the members of the Ahmadiyya Community. Thus it is absolutely fitting that so many MPs are here to thank you for being loyal and hard-working members of society.”
Rt Hon Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister said:
“The most important values and ethos which the Ahmadiyya Community has steadfastly communicated to millions of people around the world is of course one of peace, of love and one of reconciliation and that is a message which is enduring, powerful at all times – amongst all ages and in all communities… We all join with you, whatever background, political party or religious background, in celebrating the presence of your community here over a hundred years but also to celebrate the message the community has so quietly, steadfastly and with dignity been spreading and communicating for so long – one of peace, love and reconciliation.”
Rt Hon Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary said:
“In a world of ever greater diversity and challenges that message of reconciliation is needed more than ever before. I want to place on record our admiration for the leadership you [Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad] have personally shown and collectively your community has shown, for the work you have done, the difference you have made and the service you continue to do not just for the members of the Ahmadiyya Community but being a powerful voice for tolerance, reconciliation and for peace. ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ is a philosophy from which we can all benefit and from which we have a lot to learn in the years ahead.”
Rt Hon Theresa May, Home Secretary said:
“His Holiness [Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad] has shown and continued to show that the only effective way of persuading extremists out of their poisonous convictions is peaceful dialogue. That is a message that you are giving around the world and it is a message we should all listen to and heed. I know that you have been targeted as a community yourselves, particularly in Pakistan, where it is a criminal offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims, and where you have been subjected to some horrific attacks. I am absolutely committed to tackling all forms of extremism wherever it occurs… I have every confidence that in another 100 years there will be a group of people celebrating 200 years of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Britain. Thank you for all that you have contributed here in the United Kingdom and not just here but also the message you are giving around the world.”
Keynote Address by Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Fifth Khalifah of the Promised Messiah
His Holiness said:
“Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem (in the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful)
All distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all I would like to thank those friends of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who, upon the centenary of our Community in the UK, have kindly organised this event within the Houses of Parliament as a means to express their friendship and close relationship with us. I would also like to thank all of those guests, who by attending today, are ensuring that this event proves to be a success and worthwhile. I am pleased that quite a number of you are seated here and are not engaged in any other commitments or meetings. In response to this gesture, apart from professing my thanks and appreciation, I would also like to say that it is my sincere hope and prayer that all of the departments and people who work within this beautiful and grand building are able to fulfil the rights of serving this country and its people. I also hope and pray that they are able to work in the best possible manner towards fostering good relations with other nations, to act with justice and so make decisions that are of benefit to all parties. If this spirit is adopted then it will reap the very best fruits, which are of love, affection and brotherhood and will lead the world towards becoming a true haven of peace and prosperity.
This desire and prayer of mine is shared by all Ahmadi Muslims, because we believe that it is necessary to have a deep love for one’s country and for humanity at large. Indeed, Ahmadi Muslims believe that love for one’s country is an essential part of faith, because the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa has emphatically ordered and taught this. Thus, let me make it very clear that every Ahmadi Muslim who is a British citizen, whether born here in the UK or whether an immigrant from abroad, is completely loyal to this country and has sincere love for it. They desire only the progress and prosperity of this great nation. The number of people from other nations who now live in the UK is very significant and is estimated to be at around 14-15% of the total population of this country. And so, I cannot continue without mentioning and praising the great qualities of open-heartedness and tolerance exhibited by the local British people, for the way in which they have accepted immigrants as members of the country and allowed them to become a part of the fabric of British society. In this sense it becomes an incumbent moral duty upon those people who have come to settle here to prove themselves to be loyal citizens of this country and so they must support the government in its efforts to tackle all forms of disorder and strife. As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is concerned, its members act upon this principle in whichever country they reside.
As you are aware, we are currently celebrating the Centenary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in the United Kingdom. These past 100 years prove and serve witness to the fact that the members of the Ahmadiyya Community have always fulfilled the requirement of being loyal to their country and have always steered absolutely clear of all forms of extremism, rebellion and disorder. In reality, the fundamental reason for this loyal and loving approach is due entirely to the fact that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a true Islamic religious community. Our Community stands apart, as we have continually introduced the true and peaceful teachings of Islam to the people of the world and we have always strived for those true teachings to become accepted as the real Islam. With these few words of introduction, I would now like to turn towards the main theme of my address. Our sect is the standard bearer for peace, reconciliation and harmony, which is why our motto is ‘Love for All, Hatred for None.’ Despite the fact that some non-Muslims know us or indeed have close links to us, they are very surprised that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at attributes its message of peace and brotherhood directly to Islam. The cause of their surprise and shock is because they see that many other so-called Islamic scholars and organisations act and speak in a completely different way and promote a very different message. To explain this difference let me make it clear that we Ahmadi Muslims believe that, in this era, the concept of a violent ‘Jihad by the sword’ is completely wrong and is to be rejected, whilst some other Muslim scholars promote or even practice it. Their beliefs have led to many extremist and terrorist organisations emerging amongst the Muslims in various parts of the world. It is not just groups that are emerging but we also find that certain individuals are taking advantage of and acting upon these false beliefs. The most recent example of this was, of course, the brutal killing of an innocent British soldier on the streets of London. It was an attack which had absolutely nothing to do with the real teachings of Islam; rather, Islamic teachings vehemently condemn such acts. Such evil plots demonstrate the clear difference between the true teachings of Islam and the misconstrued teachings, which some so-called Muslims are practicing due to their ulterior motives. I would also like to say that the reaction of some of the local groups is not correct and can destroy the peace of the society.
What evidence is there to support our contention that what we believe with regards to Islamic teachings is correct? The underlying point to consider is that the use of the sword or force is only permissible when a religious war is waged against Islam. In today’s world no one, be it a country or a religion, is physically waging war and attacking Islam on the basis of religion. Thus, it is not justifiable in any way for Muslims to attack any other party, in the name of religion, because this clearly violates the teachings of the Qur’an. The Qur’an only permitted force to be used against those who waged war and raised their sword against Islam. Another crucial point is that if a citizen seeks to inflict any form of harm on his country or on his fellow countrymen then clearly he would be acting against the teachings of Islam. The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa said that whoso sheds the blood of an innocent person is not a Muslim. The Holy Prophetsa has deemed such people as weak in faith and to be sinners. I shall now turn to some other aspects of Islam that prove just how enlightened and pure its teachings really are. I shall explain that the way some so-called Muslim groups present Islam does not represent the real teachings of the religion in any shape or form. It will become clear that their activities are conducted with the sole desire to fulfil their vested interests by falsely using the name of Islam to justify their hate-filled acts.
Islam puts so much emphasis on the importance of religious tolerance that it will be impossible to find such high standards anywhere else. Other people tend to believe that until other religions are proven to be false, they are unable to prove the truth of their religion. Islam’s approach is very different because it teaches that whilst Islam is a true religion sent for all of mankind, the truth is that all prophets of God were sent to all people and nations of the world. This is clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Allah has said that all prophets were sent by Him with teachings of love and affection, and so all true Muslims must accept them. No other religion so willingly and openly praises every faith and every nation as Islam does. Because Muslims believe that prophets were sent to all people and all nations they cannot ever consider them to be false. Thus, Muslims cannot disrespect, mock or insult any of the prophets of God, nor can they injure the sentiments of the followers of any religion.
Yet, sadly the attitude of some non-Muslims is the exact opposite. They do not spare any opportunity to grievously mock and slander the Founder of Islamsa and so gravely wound the feelings of Muslims. We truly desire religious tolerance and mutual understanding, because of the beliefs we hold. Unfortunately however, when certain elements toy with the feelings of Muslims, it leads to some so-called Muslims reacting to the provocation in an entirely wrong and irresponsible way. Their reaction and response has no link to the true teachings of Islam and you will certainly find that no Ahmadi Muslim, however much they are provoked, will ever react in such a negative manner. Another grave allegation raised against the Founder of Islamsa and the Qur’an is that they gave teachings of extremism and promoted the use of force to spread the message of Islam. To assess this allegation and to seek the reality let us look to the Qur’an itself. Allah the Almighty says:
‘And if thy Lord had enforced His Will, surely, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers?’ (Ch.10:V.100).
This verse clearly states that God, as the Possessor of all Powers, could easily force all people to adopt the same religion; however, He has instead given the people of the world the freedom to choose – to believe or to not believe. And so if God has given mankind this freedom of choice, then how could the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa or any of his followers compel or force anyone to become a Muslim? Allah the Almighty also states in the Qur’an:
‘It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will believe, and let him, who will disbelieve.’ (Ch.18:V.30)
This is the reality of Islam. This is its true teaching. If a person’s heart desires then they are free to accept Islam, but if their heart does not, then they are free to reject it. Therefore, Islam is completely against compulsion and extremism; rather, it advocates peace and harmony at all levels of society. It is quite impossible for Islam to teach violence or compulsion because the very meaning of ‘Islam’ is to live in peace and to provide peace to all others. Nevertheless, when our religious sentiments are taunted it causes us great pain and anguish. Anything disrespectful said about the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa pierces and wounds our hearts. It was the Founder of Islamsa who developed the love of God and the love of His creation in our hearts. It was he who ingrained and established love and respect for all of mankind and for all religions within us. What bigger proof of Islam’s peaceful teachings can there be than the response given by the opponents of the Holy Prophetsa when he preached and conveyed the message of Islam to them. They did not say that by inviting them to join Islam, the Holy Prophetsa was asking them to perpetrate any cruelties or wrongdoing. Rather, their reply was that if they were to accept the Prophet’s teachings, their wealth and status would be threatened or seized by ruthless people, because the Holy Prophetsa emphasised only peace and harmony. They admitted to a fear that if they accepted Islam then by adopting peace the surrounding people, tribes or even nations would take advantage and destroy them. In short, if Islam advocated violence, and if it called on Muslims to raise their swords and wage war, then clearly the disbelievers would not have given this justification. They would not have said that their failure to accept Islam was out of a fear that its teachings of peace could lead to their ruin at the hands of worldly people. The Holy Qur’an states that one of the Attributes of God Almighty is ‘Salam’ which means He is ‘The Source of Peace.’ It follows that if God truly is the ‘Source of Peace’ then His peace should encompass all of His Creation and all of mankind, rather than be limited to a specific group of people. If God’s peace was only designed to protect some people then it cannot be said that He is a God for the entire world. Allah the Almighty has answered this point in the Qur’an. Allah says:
‘I swear by his repeated cry “O my Lord!” that these are a people who will not believe. Therefore, turn aside from them, and say, “Peace;” and soon shall they know.’ (Ch.43: Vs. 89-90)
These words illustrate that the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa brought a teaching that was a source of mercy and compassion for all people and thus was a means of peace for all of mankind. The verse also states that in response to the Holy Prophet’ssa message of peace, his opponents did not only reject his teachings; they even ridiculed and insulted him. Indeed, they went even further and opposed him with enmity and created disorder and strife. Upon all of this the Holy Prophetsa pleaded to God that:
‘I desire to give them peace, but they do not give me peace. Leaving that aside they even strive to inflict pain and agony upon me.’
In response, Allah consoled him by saying:
‘Ignore whatever they do and turn away from them. Your only task is to spread and establish peace in the world. You should respond to their hatred and transgressions by simply saying “peace be with you” and tell them that you have brought peace for them.’
Thus, the Holy Prophetsa spent his entire life spreading peace in the world. That was his noble mission. Certainly, there will come a day when the people of the world will realise and understand that he did not bring any teachings of extremism. They will realise that all he brought was a message of peace, love and kindness. Furthermore, if the followers of this noble messenger also respond to cruelties and injustices in the same loving manner, then no doubt those who raise objections against Islam’s magnificent teachings will one day become convinced of its truth and beauty. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at follows and lives by these teachings. It is these teachings of understanding, tolerance and compassion that we promote and spread to the corners of the world. We follow the historic and unparalleled example of kindness and benevolence that was demonstrated by the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa when after years of facing the most bitter and horrific cruelty and persecution, he was able to return victoriously to the streets of Makkah. For years, he and his followers, were prevented access to even the most basic necessities such as food and water and so they spent many days at a time suffering in a state of starvation. Many of his followers were attacked and some were killed in the most barbaric and merciless manner, which one cannot even imagine. Even the elderly Muslims, the Muslim women and the Muslim children were not spared; rather, they too were treated in a ruthless and brutal way. Yet, when the Holy Prophetsa returned to Makkah in victory, he did not seek revenge. Instead, he proclaimed that:
“There shall be no punishment upon any of you for I have forgiven you all. I am a messenger of love and peace. I have the greatest knowledge of Allah’s attribute of being a ‘Source of Peace’ – He is the One Who gives peace. Thus, I forgive you of all of your past transgressions and I give you a guarantee of peace and security. You are free to remain in Makkah and to freely practise your religion. No one will be compelled or forced in any way.”
Some of the most staunch disbelievers had fled Makkah in a state of fear of punishment because they knew they had exceeded all limits in their cruelties against the Muslims. However, upon witnessing this unrivalled act of compassion and kindness and this unique display of peace and harmony, the relatives of those disbelievers sent a message to them to return. They were informed that the Holy Prophetsa extended nothing but peace and security and so they did return to Makkah. When they, who were previously Islam’s most resolute opponents, saw for themselves the benevolence and mercy of the Holy Prophetsa, they accepted Islam of their own free will. What I have said is part of recorded history and the majority of non-Muslim historians and Orientalists have also certified to its truth. These are the real teachings of Islam and this was the noble example of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. And so to label Islam and its Founder as violent and to raise such allegations against them is a cruel injustice. There is no doubt that wherever such false allegations are made we are deeply aggrieved.
I shall say again that today it is our community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, which is following and living according to the original and peaceful teachings of Islam. And I shall say again that the hate-filled evil acts perpetrated by extremist organisations or individuals have no link whatsoever to the true teachings of Islam. True justice requires that the vested interests of individuals or groups should not be attributed to the teachings of a religion. Such acts should not be used as an excuse to unfairly level criticism at any religion or its founder. It is an urgent need of the time that, in an effort to establish global peace and harmony, all people should display mutual respect for one another and for all religions. The alternatives are horrific. The world has become a global village and so a lack of mutual respect and a failure to join together to promote peace will not only harm the local area, city or country but in fact will ultimately lead to the destruction of the entire world. We are all well-aware of the horrific devastation caused by the last two world wars. Due to the acts of certain countries the signs are that another world war is on the horizon. If a world war breaks out then the Western world will also be deeply affected by its far-reaching and devastating consequences. Let us save ourselves from such destruction. Let us save our future generations from the miserable and devastating consequences of war. Obviously the most horrific type of war would be an atomic war and certainly the way the world is heading there is a real risk of a nuclear war breaking out. To prevent such a horrific outcome, we should adopt justice, integrity and honesty and join together to suppress and stop those groups who wish to spread hatred and who wish to destroy the peace of the world. It is my hope and prayer that God Almighty enables the major powers to discharge their responsibilities and duties in this effort in the most fair and just way – Ameen. Before concluding I would like to once again thank all of you for taking the time and effort to attend today. May Allah bless you all. Thank you very much.”