Lajna Imaillah UK Ijtema 2019: Concluding Address
Lajna Imaillah’ is the women’s auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community consisting of all female members above the age of 15. This organisation empowers Ahmadi Muslim women with their own space to organise events, functions and meetings with the aim to build their confidence, develop new talents and forge stronger relationships. Most of all, it creates an environment to strengthen spirituality, education and service for religion. Each year Lajna Imaillah holds national events throughout the world. In the UK, the 41st National Ijtema (or gathering) was held on 15th September 2019 at Country Market in Kingsley in Hampshire. The event was attended by 5800 and at the concluding session, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), 5th successor to the Promised Messiah(as), delivered a faith-inspiring address.
After reciting Tashahud, Ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) said:
‘Today, with the grace of Allah, you are reaching the conclusion of this year’s Ijtema.
Alhamdulillah, alongside the continued progress of the Jama’at [Ahmadiyya Muslim Community], Lajna Imaillah UK has taken many steps forward during the past few years. Both in terms of members and in terms of the scope of its activities, Lajna has progressed and Masha’Allah, many beneficial schemes and events have been established in recent years.
However, as we move towards success and prosperity, it is essential that we intensify our efforts to protect and preserve our true Islamic values and our core identity as Muslims. The only way to achieve this is for us to strive, more than ever before, to act upon the teachings of Islam.
More than ever before, we must endeavour to fulfil the desires and expectations of the Promised Messiah(as). He was the one sent by Allah the Almighty to restore the glorious and noble teachings of Islam. He was the one sent to rectify the weaknesses that had gradually corrupted the practical manifestation of the Islamic faith amongst Muslims over the preceding centuries.
In addition to restoring the lost Islamic values within Muslims, he was also sent to convey the message of Islam to the corners of the earth and to enlighten the people of all faiths and beliefs to the incomparable and universal teachings of the Holy Quran. It is for this reason that the Promised Messiah(as) stated that his era was the era of the propagation of the true teachings of Islam.
We proudly claim to be his followers and so it is our solemn duty to inform others that the adoption of Islam’s pure teachings is the means of salvation and true prosperity for the world at large. It is our obligation and our lifelong mission to illustrate through our own lives that Islam’s teachings are the means of attaining true peace of mind and contentment within our hearts.
Some people will argue that Islam has already spread globally and query what was or has been the benefit to the world. After all, there are said to be around 1.8 billion Muslims in the world and amongst them are thousands of Islamic scholars who claim to be spreading its teachings. Yet, this has not led to true peace and prosperity within the Muslim Ummah [Muslim community at large], or in the wider world.
The simple and clear reason for this is that, save for those blessed people who have accepted the Promised Messiah(as), Muslims across the world are riven within division, dissent and interpret the teachings of Islam in ways that are devoid of sense and often impossible to practice.
The reality is that Allah the Almighty sent the Promised Messiah(as) to propagate and re-establish the perfect Sharia that had been revealed to the Holy Prophet(sa). We are the fortunate ones who have heard and accepted the call of the Imam of the Age(as) and we have been charged with practicing and preaching all that he taught.
In order to fulfil this great objective, Allah the Almighty has not left us bereft or ill-equipped; rather, He has created the means for the spread of Islam in this era. In today’s world, television, radio, the internet, the print media and social media are just a few ways through which communications have advanced to the point where global communication has become instantaneous.
These are all technologies that we as a Jama’at are utilising to spread the teachings of Islam. However, it is not enough to merely convey the message of Islam to others; rather, our objective can never be fulfilled until each and every one of us become living and practical examples of the benevolent and noble teachings of Islam. This is why the Promised Messiah(as) repeatedly spoke of the need for the members of his Jama’at to live their lives in accordance with Islamic values and to live and breathe its teachings.
I should also add that we cannot claim to be unique in utilising these modern technologies; rather, worldly people have spared no effort in using the latest means of communication to broadcast programmes and content. Most regrettably and worryingly, much of the content being broadcast or streamed in the world today serves only to weaken the moral and spiritual fabric of society and to take people away from what is good and decent. They justify such immoral content in the name of freedom, amusement and pleasure.
Thus, where these new technologies have been created as a means for us to serve and spread the holy teachings of Islam, they are also being used by others to immerse the world in depravity and shameful immorality. They are being exploited to lure mankind towards worthless, time-wasting pursuits that are often obscene. It has reached the stage where people in deprived and remote parts of the world can easily view videos produced in the developed world via social media that promote an unchaste and hedonistic lifestyle.
When those people, who are mired in poverty, or held back by the circumstances of their nation, see how people in rich countries are living, it incites frustrations within them. They crave the same levels of opulence and to partake in these artificial and shallow pursuits. As I said, on the one hand, we believe that modern technology has evolved according to the will of Allah to help us in the spread of Islam, yet on the other hand, it is also being used to promulgate vile content utterly devoid of morality and spirituality.
For example, pornography or indecent films are widely available on the internet or broadcast on television. The private relations between men and women have been exposed before the entire world and normalised. This is the reality of the modern world and so, to reverse this moral decline and to promote righteousness and virtue is the great challenge of our time.
You, as members of Lajna Imaillah, must rise to this challenge.
Indeed, it is the task of Ahmadi men, women and our youth, as members of the community of the Promised Messiah(as), to use modern-day technologies to counter the influence of irreligious and immoral forces and to show that upholding religious values in the contemporary world is not just possible, but is absolutely vital.
First and foremost, we must ourselves avoid the profane and the vulgar. We should view or partake in only those things that encourage piety, strengthen our faith and enable us to gain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. As people who have accepted the Promised Messiah(as), we should absorb those things that increase our knowledge of his teachings, which are, in reality, the teachings of the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet(sa).
Consequently, we should take benefit of the positive aspects of modern technology, whilst saving ourselves from its damaging and destructive powers. Regrettably, the truth is that many of our Jama’at members, both men and women, are ignoring their duty to spiritually and morally reform themselves despite having taken the Bai’at of the Promised Messiah(as).
They are becoming influenced by the materialistic and irreligious forces that darken today’s society. They have fallen prey to the poisonous effects of modern technology and are spending far more time absorbing vain and superficial content, than seeking to develop their bond with Allah the Almighty or increasing their spiritual and moral standards.
Every one of us knows how much time we are devoting to watching religious programmes or studying religious texts, in comparison to viewing content that promotes materialism and immorality. In this era, Allah the Almighty has blessed us with MTA [Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International – the official TV station of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community], which has many programmes that increase a person’s religious knowledge and so Lajna members must strive to watch it as much possible and to ensure their family members are also benefitting.
Unquestionably, women play an indispensable role in society because the future generations lie in their laps and grow up in their tender care. This fact alone greatly increases the responsibility placed upon Ahmadi women to ensure that they view those programmes or read those books that strengthen their moral fibre and which help them to fulfil the purpose of being part of the community established by the Promised Messiah(as).
To clarify, I do not mean that you should never watch any television other than MTA. However, try to watch those programmes that increase your knowledge or are beneficial to your daily lives. Some light entertainment can also be viewed to relax, but you must avoid programmes that promote vulgarity or indecency.
As a side point, MTA is always looking for feedback and suggestions about what type of new programmes can be produced, to increase viewer interest and to further the moral and religious training of the Jama’at. Our Lajna members have many good ideas and so they should send any comments or feedback they have in this regard.
Moving on, I have mentioned in the past how many members of the Jama’at living in the Western world are those who migrated from Pakistan, or their parents or grandparents migrated here because they were deprived of freedom of religion in their homeland. However, if having attained religious freedom in this country, they are still not practicing their faith, neglect their religious obligations and become consumed by the material pursuits of the modern world, it cannot be said that the purpose of their migration has been fulfilled.
Nor can it be said that they have lived up to their claim of desiring to openly practice their faith as Muslims. Given this, every Ahmadi woman should recognise that they migrated here for the sake of their religion and so they must ensure that their own faith and that of their children remains rock solid. In addition, you should be grateful to the nation that has given you refuge and the way to show true gratitude is to strive to bring the local people towards God Almighty.
Rather than our Jama’at members, in the name of autonomy and prosperity, becoming immersed in the immoral activities and pursuits of today’s society, we must steer clear of their ruinous and far-reaching consequences and try to protect others as well. Save yourselves from those sunken paths that are vacant of spirituality and morality, as they will not only harm you but will also destroy the coming generations.
This does not mean that you cannot integrate or contribute to the society in which you live. Many Ahmadis have grown up here or lived here for decades and are now fully attuned to the British customs and values and are themselves an integral part of this society. There is nothing wrong with this. To the contrary, every person, whether born here or whether they are an immigrant, should strive to integrate and fulfil their duties as a member of society and be a loyal citizen of the nation. Our faith requires Muslims to utilise their skills and capabilities for the benefit of the nation in which they live and to work towards its progress and development.
Furthermore, to observe and learn from the local practices and traditions is a good thing, so long as those practices do not clash with the teachings of Islam. Simply put, an Ahmadi should remember that they must not allow themselves to become so engrossed or manipulated by their surroundings, that they forget their basic religious teachings or ignore their duty to train their children according to Islamic teachings.
Certainly, those who fail to protect and preserve their religious values are those who fail to fulfil their pledges. In these developed nations, moral values are declining day by day, in the name of freedom and self-determination. Some of our Ahmadi women and girls are also being negatively affected by this, but they should realise that such so-called freedoms bear no relation to the success and progress of their nation.
Can it be said that going to nightclubs, whilst dressed in a way that exposes almost all of your body and dancing with men, will help a country to develop and succeed? Certainly not!
Can it be said that drinking alcohol and losing one’s senses and acting shamelessly is something that will boost your country?
Can this be considered service to one’s nation?
Of course not!
These are just a couple of examples and there are many other harmful things that are prevalent in this society, which secular people try to justify in the name of freedom of choice, or progress, but which have been declared as obscene by Allah the Almighty and His messenger(sa) and which take mankind away from its creator. Though such things are championed as examples of a free and modern society, the reality is that such impropriety serves only to shatter the foundations upon which a truly thriving and compassionate society is built.
To debase and lower a society’s moral compass, in the name of freedom, is a means of undermining the strength and unity of civilisation at a collective level, as well as individually harming the people within that society. Let it be clear that a time will surely come when the people of these developed countries will realise that what they considered to be freedom was actually the means of their destruction.
Now, we have reached a stage where even some non-Muslims are speaking out to condemn the extreme levels of immodesty and indecency within their societies and they admit that the lowering of moral standards correlates directly with a rise in frustration and anxiety amongst the general public. As a result, there is absolutely no reason for any of you to bear an inferiority complex or to feel embarrassed upon the practice of your faith.
Worldly people may claim that exposing one’s body, dressing suggestively or bringing sexual behaviour into the public arena are signs of a progressive society and one in which freedom of expression is valued. However, they could not be more wrong. All Ahmadis, whether men or women, whether young or old, must understand that from a religious perspective, such behaviour is the height of immorality and cannot be tolerated by religious people, who have pledged to prioritise their faith over all worldly matters.
Therefore, whilst living in the Western world, it is of vital importance that Ahmadi Muslims guard themselves against the ills of society. As I said before, you should not just protect yourself, but should strive to save others from moral decay and highlight the importance of virtue and morality. This is how to serve your nation and if you are sincere in this effort, then rest assured, Allah’s help and mercy will be with you every step of the way.
In today’s world, much is spoken about the importance of mental health and mental well-being. In this regard, always remember that real peace of mind is attained through the nearness of Allah the Almighty and not by pursuing the frivolous and futile attractions of the world. This point is made in chapter 13, verse 29 of the Holy Quran, where Allah the Almighty has very clearly stated:
اَلَا بِذِکْرِ اللّٰہِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوْب
“Aye! It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort.”
Here, Allah the Almighty has made it categorically clear that for a person to attain a state of peace and comfort, he must remember his Creator. This is not, God forbid, an unsubstantiated claim of the Holy Quran. In fact, history has proven it to be true. The lives of all the prophets of God and millions of sincere believers bear testimony to the fact, that true peace of mind is achieved through the remembrance and worship of Allah the Almighty alone.
Hence, do not think that the so-called freedoms of the modern world, or material lifestyles, can inspire peace within a person’s heart; rather, it is the remembrance of Allah that inspires a person towards genuine and lasting contentment. The reality is that righteous people feel satisfaction and joy in their hearts whenever they remember Allah the Almighty, reflect on His blessings and the beauty of His creation.
For example, they recognise the glory of Allah, as they pass by trees and forests. They perceive Him as they observe vast oceans and lakes or glorious mountain ranges. Seeing the beauty and perfect harmony of nature leads them to not only praise Allah, but also to reflect upon His majesty and consider how He created the heavens and the earth and all that encompasses the universe.
Anyway, the main point I wish to make is that Allah the Almighty has stated that true peace of mind cannot be attained through worldly freedom or by partaking in the meaningless attractions of the world; rather, it can only be achieved through the nearness of Allah the Almighty and keeping Him in your heart and mind at all times. Remember, Islam is a religion of moderation and balance. It does not say that we must isolate ourselves or forsake all worldly pursuits. Instead, Allah the Almighty has commanded us to take benefit from and utilise the means of ease and comfort that exist in the world.
There is no harm in pursuing those worldly or recreational activities that are good for our health or linked to our personal interest. However, we should never let them dominate our existence or become our life’s purpose. We must never let them distract us from our foremost goal, which should be to remember Allah the Almighty and to seek His nearness. Never, consider worldly pursuits to be the means of salvation or success and certainly, without the grace and mercy of Allah, even seemingly good things can prove dangerous.
For example, salt-water will never quench a person’s thirst, but will make him thirstier and if he mindlessly continues to drink it, he will fall ill and eventually die. Consequently, even though water is the means of life, it can, if used improperly, be the source of our demise. We are all aware that when there is rainfall, the ground becomes fertile and lush, but when drought occurs the land becomes barren and the grass becomes dry. Though we live in a relatively cool country, the summer temperature has been rising in recent years and so, even here, we see how the grass loses its green colour and dries out during hot and dry periods.
In those countries, where the climate is perpetually hot and subject to drought, the grass completely dies away and animals and other living bodies begin to perish. Thus, the value of water is limitless and incomparable and its true value is only noted when we are deprived of it or if it becomes contaminated. In a similar vein, if a person disregards the blessings of God Almighty and pursues sinful behaviour whilst considering that to be his water for life, he will become mired in frustration and despair.
Allah the Almighty has associated the advent of prophets and the teachings they bring as spiritual water for humanity, because through their spiritual water, our souls are cleansed and given sustenance. If we accept what they teach, then our lives are destined for success. Yet, if we reject their teachings or act immorally, we will be rejecting their spiritual water in favour of the worldly salt-water, which will never quench our thirst and will ultimately lead to our destruction.
Never forget, that we Ahmadis are the most fortunate people, as we are the direct recipients of the spiritual water given to the world in this era by the Promised Messiah(as). If having accepted him, we continue to walk upon a path of immorality and fail to observe the commands of Allah the Almighty, then we will be destroying our own lives and will be guilty of choosing salt-water over the spiritual water that could have been our means of salvation and triumph.
Moving on, another thing I wish to mention is that some Ahmadi men and women, including some of our youth, think that the Jama’at places unnecessary constraints on their lives and are denying them their freedoms. However, if they look carefully and fairly, they will realise that the Jama’at is not denying their rightful freedoms in any shape or form; rather, the Jama’at serves only to uphold the teachings of Islam and to morally guide the members of the Jama’at accordingly. We strive to encourage all Ahmadis to act upon the true teachings of their religion, which are the means of true freedom and liberation.
Regrettably, there have been cases of a few young Ahmadi men or women, who became so influenced by the wider society, that they left their homes and abandoned their faith. For some time, they may have considered themselves to be free or to have attained the liberties and fun that they sought. Yet, later on, many came to regret their decision and expressed their embarrassment and shame at having left the Jama’at and sought to re-enter its fold. They admitted that what they thought would be a life of freedom had proven to be the opposite and soon realised they had embarked upon a destructive and dangerous path.
Always remember that basic wisdom and intelligence requires and indeed, it is the teaching of God Almighty, that a person investigates and researches carefully the pros and cons before taking any step or life decision.
We, who call ourselves Ahmadi Muslims and claim to have accepted the Promised Messiah(as), must not only weigh up the materialistic pros and cons, but should also assess the spiritual and religious benefit or harm before making a decision or adopting a new path. No matter the extent of the material benefits, a true Ahmadi should always be ready to give up such things, if they do not correspond to their religious teachings.
Priority should always be given to our spiritual and religious values. After all, we proclaim and pledge that we are the people, who will forever give precedence to our religion over all worldly matters.
Before ending, I also wish to remind you that the Holy Prophet(sa) said that modesty is an integral part of our faith. Thus, whilst living in the West, Ahmadis should not follow those fashions and trends that are justified in the name of freedom of choice, but are in reality a means of immorality and immodesty. You should not adopt those fashion trends, which expose your body, rather than preserving your modesty. At all times, Ahmadi women and girls should follow those fashions that are within the confines of modesty and through which their chastity is preserved.
It should be clear that every Ahmadi woman and girl dresses and acts in a respectable way and according to the principles of modesty. Sometimes, some Ahmadi women or girls fail to cover their heads, their hair or even their chest for the sake of fashion and this is completely contrary to the requirements of their faith.
Furthermore, some ladies wear coats in the name of pardah, but their coats are so fitted that they resemble a skin-tight shirt. Such coats that expose a person’s physical attributes are not appropriate for Muslim women or girls. The coats you wear should cover your bodies and your scarves should be worn properly over your heads.
Always be conscious of your dress so that no one can ever question your modesty and be proud of the fact that pardah is the means of guarding the honour and chastity of a Muslim woman. Every Ahmadi man and woman has a circle within which they are duty-bound to remain and that circle is simply whatever Islam teaches. Hence, our limits are not decreed by any individual, rather they have been decreed by Allah the Almighty.
Some people think that Ahmadiyyat is stricter than Islam, but this is wrong because Ahmadiyyat and Islam are one and the same thing. The standard of pardah required by Islam has been very clearly stipulated in the Holy Quran and so you should read the Quran carefully to see what the required standards of modesty are.
In every respect, we must follow the teachings of the Holy Quran and consider it our guiding light.
We must observe the standards of worship stipulated in the Holy Quran.
We must act upon the methods of remembrance of Allah that have been given in the Holy Quran.
We must adopt every Quranic instruction to the best of our abilities.
Then we will attain the rewards and nearness of Allah the Almighty and we will fulfil the rights of our Bai’at of the Promised Messiah(as).
Otherwise, our claim of giving priority to our faith over all worldly matters and being ready for all sacrifices for its sake, will be devoid of truth and rendered hollow and meaningless.
May Allah the Almighty enable all of you to act upon the true teachings of Islam, to understand and realise that the true purpose of your lives is to attain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty and to be ready for all sacrifices in its cause – Ameen.
May Allah the Almighty continue to bless Lajna Imaillah in all respects.’