by Kwabena Osman
In the Eastern hemisphere, in the last few days, the city of Mosul, Iraq, the last major strong hold of the terrorist group Daesh (aka ISIS) is on the brink of falling. This group, although they claim to be Muslims, has terrorized the world and has caused the death of more Muslims than any other faith. With the wishful thinking of forming a Caliphate without divine help, they, for a while succeeded in causing disorder and blood shed. Their legacy will be that of disdain and hatred from every noble minded person on earth. The Prophet of Islam was right in describing them as “the worst creatures under the canopy of the earth” more than fourteen hundred years ago.
Around the same time in the Western hemisphere, in Ottawa, Canada the true Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is leading a campaign for peace, justice, service to humanity, and universal human rights. His Holiness met with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. He was also the guest of honor at the Canadian parliament and delivered a key note address in a dinner organized in his honor.
In this address the Khalifa of Islam said, “In this age, when the fear of Islam is on the increase in much of the world, let me reassure all of you that Islam is not what you commonly see or hear portrayed in the media…The literal meaning of the word Islam is peace, love and harmony and all of its teaching are based on these noble values. However, unfortunately, it cannot be denied that there are some Muslim groups whose beliefs and action are in total contrast to this and in complete violation of Islam’s teachings.” He went on to explain the true teachings of Islam.
The Quran teaches that there shall be no compulsion in religion (2:286). This and other verses in the Quran clearly prohibit Muslims, whether as individuals or groups, to compel anyone to join their faith. Prophet Muhammad himself was told by God that his task was only to convey the message (42:49) and whether the people accept his message or not lies on God Himself.
The Khalifa touched on pressing issues facing the world today, including climate change, global economic uncertainty and the increasing lack of peace and security in much of the world, all of which he says are the results of unjust policies, inequality and lack of balance. He mentioned that, in his view, the lack of peace in the world is the most critical issue facing us in the world today and it is very regretful that the Muslim countries are the center of such instability and disorder even though their religion has given unparalleled teachings of how to establish and maintain peace. He supported the later point with verses of the Quran (49:10, 23:9, 5:9)
In talking about the cause of unrest in most parts of the world he narrated that the Muslim nations can’t be blamed entirely for this situation because major powers in the world have contributed to this issue by selling deadly ammunition to the Muslim countries and other third world countries who use them to kill each other and by extension terrorize people of other nations. He cited the well published report of Amnesty International in December 2015 which states that decades of reckless arms trading has contributed to the terrorism conducted by Daesh. The report further states that majority of the weapons used by this deviant group was purchased from the United States and Russia.
The religious leader further mentioned that it is well known that Muslim countries do not have sophisticated arms factories that could produce the state of the arts weapons used in the middle east and so the vast majority of the weaponry been used in the middle east are being imported from abroad. If the major powers cease to trade arms and ensure that other supply lines are cut off to these unstable governments, rebels and terrorist groups, such conflicts could be brought to a swift conclusion.
The Khalifa emphasized to the audience that the root cause of all these problems are injustice, inequality and lack of fairness. He advised the leaders of the major powers not to consider their vested interest when dealing with people of other nations but should act with justice and fairness.
Light and darkness are not alike. Truth will always prevail and falsehood will vanish. While the man-made Caliph and his associates run and hide from the very weapons they use to terrorize people, the true Khalifa of Islam, with divine help, goes around calling the world to peace, love and respect of all humans.
by Hassan Mahmood
Pope Francis, in his recent comments regarding Islam and terrorism has taken a commendable position on one of the most pressing issues of our time. Just two months ago, he talked about the injustice of equating Islam to violence and terrorism saying, “It is not right and it is not true.” His rhetoric towards refugees as well draws the admiration of many, Catholic or otherwise.
It appears however, that this doctrine of love and tolerance – in essence the message of Jesus (peace be upon him) – does not emanate from all members of the church hierarchy. Not two weeks ago, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, considered by many to be a leading candidate to succeed the current Pontiff, warned listeners of the impending threat of Islam to Europe and its people. The speech was delivered on the holiday commemorating victory at the battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Empire. These words on that day revive terrifying echoes of a time rife with intolerance, disrespect, and devastating religious politicism.
In the 21st century that is ever threatening to devolve into chaos. These kinds of divisive, accusatory, and ultimately inflammatory statements are exactly the kind of tinder that fuel the fires of misguided hatred in people’s hearts. To compound the issue, Cardinal Schönborn’s words come during turbulent times as the refugee crisis in Europe has filled people with fears and uncertainties about the future.
The statement that “Many Muslims would be glad to see Europe conquered by Islam” is both incorrect and terribly ironic. First and foremost, if a large portion of the Muslim population really wanted to “conquer Europe” in the traditional sense then a sizable group from among the 44 million Muslims living within Europe’s borders would be doing everything in their power to decimate the countries in which they live. As we do not see such widespread and terrifying mayhem, it is only logical that most Muslims in fact don’t want to overthrow or “conquer” Europe as Cardinal Schönborn insidiously implied.
It is blatantly obvious that the Cardinal’s words were an exercise in religious politicism. By taking advantage of the current political climate of Europe, he has made Islam the boogeyman responsible for Europe’s problems, and Catholicism its only source of relief. After all, the Cardinal says himself that Europe is “in danger of forfeiting our Christian heritage.” And “What will become of Europe?”
The irony in this portrayal of Islam is that if most Christians were asked, they would be ecstatic about the idea of a Middle East and Europe united in Christianity. Does this mean that they wish to invade and “conquer” the Middle East? Most certainly not. They simply wish the widespread and heartfelt adoption of the ideals they hold to be superior to all others. In the words of Cardinal Schönborn himself, this is to be done by spreading the word to “everyone, even strangers.”
In times of uncertainty and fear, it is not the divisiveness of religious politics that will help us as a global community. It is, in fact, the message of tolerance and mutual cooperation espoused by the Bishop of Rome which is what the world so desperately needs. As responsible citizens of an ever shrinking world, we must strive to be examples in this for others.
by Aamir Nasir Quraishy
As an American Muslim living in America, I have the benefit of friends from all walks of life. It is amazing to have people to discuss anything with. But the greatest blessing is to be able to be open about my religion. One of the people whom I am most open with is my beloved friend Ivan Rodriguez.
One day when I was talking to him, I expressed my gratitude how he lets me be open about my belief. And he responded in kind!
Then I said, “I truly hope you do not feel pushed or feel like I am trying to convert you.”
“No worries,” he replied.
“I thank you for never being pushy, or trying to convert me,” I said.
Then he responded, “Well, personally, I’m only interested in a religious person’s response to a few basic questions. I have no reason to challenge someone’s faith depending on that person’s response to these questions.”
After a little cringe, I accepted his questions, “Lay it on me!”
These are the answers to his 4 questions:
1. Have you thought about your faith critically?
Answer: I do not think it is possible to have faith without questioning it. Even the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), questioned faith for the first 40 years of his life. Much like Buddha, he would retreat into mountains to a cave called Hira to be alone in his prayers and question faith. This was when the angel Gabriel revealed to him his first revelation. [Quran 96 1-6]
Two of the articles of faith are, “Believe in the holy books and Prophets of Allah.” As Ahmadi Muslims, we accept the divine nature of all God’s Prophets including Moses, Abraham, Buddha, Krishna, and many more. It also encourages interfaith conversation, as was evident in the life of Mohammad (PBUH).
I always abhor when people are discouraged from examining faith critically and asking questions. A belief accepted without reason is simply ignorance.
2. Does it, for the most part, make sense to you?
Answer: Above all else, Islam is a religion which values reason, and holds reason at the core of morality. The teaching of Islam says no action is moral or immoral by its own accord. It says to practice forgiveness with due diligence, you should forgive if someone transgresses, but if you feel your forgiveness will allow that person to continue in transgression, then the moral action is justice. Just because a parrot can imitate human speech, does not mean it is capable of higher thought. Similarly, it is by intention and reason that an action is considered moral.
Islam makes sense because above all else it values sense! “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the Martyr,” Islam asks me to seek out answers, understanding, and to sharpen my reasoning to make moral decisions. Understanding of ones religion is pivotal for faith.
3. Has it made you a better person and are you now in a better position to benefit others, your community, etc.?
Answer: There was once a woman who would collect the garbage from around her house, and when she saw the prophet Muhammad (PBUH), pass by, she would throw all the garbage on his head. She continued for many days, one day the Prophet (PBUH) passed by her house and didn’t notice any garbage on his head. Curious he asked his follower to see where the woman was. The follower learned she had become gravely ill. Hearing of this he went to her room and cared for her for many days, offering water, praying for her and cleaning her trash until she was healed. Over time she was amazed at his kindness and came to accept Islam and follow the Prophet (PBUH).
Ivan’s question is too complicated to completely answer, but I felt this was a good start. It shows compassion and kindness is the greatest weapon and argument you have in this world. It also sets a higher standard to work towards and refrain from the idea “only show kindness to those who show it to you.”Changing the world always begins with changing yourself; this is the essence of Jihad and Islam.
4. Does your religion demand, recommend, and/or insinuate harm, oppression, and/or animosity towards others?
Answer: In the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) no one was required to accept Islam against their will. Furthermore the Quran repeatedly says “There shall be no compulsion of religion” [Qu’ran 2:257]. Chapter 109 says: “Say, ‘O Disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship, nor will I be a worshiper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshipers of what I worship. For you your religion, and for me is my religion.'[109 1-7]”
No Muslim has the right to force their religion on anyone else, only to love them. The slogan of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is “Love for All, Hatred for None” That is the golden standard of Islam. But Islam is NOT a religion of pacifism. There is evil in the world. When the Quran says: “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. [2:191]” It gives permission to fight in the name of freedom of consciousness, because if a group shows hatred or suppresses one person, they will hate and suppress many others. But the following verse says, “But if they desist, then surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. [2:192]” War should not continue if war is not made, compassion must always be the cornerstone in the treatment of other people.
Love for humanity must always be the cornerstone of ones intent. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always prayed for his enemies, no matter how vile they acted towards him, he asked god to show them mercy where he could not. In the end love won over his staunchest opponents and many converted to Islam of their own choice. That is why Islam is a religion of over 1.6 billion people to date.
I hope Ivan is satisfied with my answers, as well as any readers who see this. Debate and discourse is the highest standard that exists in America for any topic. No subject is above discussion, that is how the best ideas prevail. As a Muslim I am immensely blessed to have Ivan as a friend who has helped me share, examine and practice my beliefs. I pray to Allah that I may continue in my religion and my friendship, and that he and people of all ideas may live in Peace.
“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you near Allah (is the) most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.” [49:14]
“I have always been quick to deplore blind faith, and seeing the four thoughtful responses that my friend has provided herein is both refreshing and laudable. My atheism is borne of rationality and critical thinking; it is instantly apparent that Aamir’s refined passion for his faith also has its genesis on these same elements of rigor, thought, and reasoning. This brings nothing but joy to my heart. We are both fully cognizant of our differences in terms of our stance on religion, yet we have a mutual respect for one another that transcends these idiosyncrasies. Throughout our discussions, I constantly mention that this would be an ideal world to live in: one where humankind is free to subscribe to whatever beliefs seem cogent while simultaneously allowing for open, respectful discourse vis-à-vis those who maintain differing perspectives. Perhaps through writing this article, my friend might just contribute to that vision and help pave the road towards a golden age wherein faith and reason can readily coexist ad infinitum.”
by Zahid Mian
It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. This tale takes place in London and the time is now. While many of the lessons of Dickens’ classic story are lost in the world today, the contrast between good and evil remains. In today’s London there are two individuals offering a path to peace and prosperity. On the one hand there is Anjem Chaudhry and on the other, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Anjem Chaudhry was recently arrested for hate speech and desires to be the Khalifa of Islam. Mirza Masroor Ahmad is praised for his advocacy of peace and already carries the title of Khalifa of Islam .
Whether Anjem Choudhry deserved to be arrested for expressing his views in a free society is up to legal jurists to decide, but there is no doubt that his views and statements are abhorrent and misrepresent Islam. He refers to the 9/11 terrorists as “magnificent martyrs”, lauded the efforts of ISIS, declared Islam to be incompatible with democracy, has rejected the concept of freedom and human rights, and, in one inexplicable statement, called every non-Muslim a criminal in the sight of God worthy of being killed. His desire for a Khalifate to rule England and his declaration that “the flag of Sharia” will fly over Downing Street by 2020 are simply provocations to grab attention. These types of statements are not backed by the Quran or Ahadith, but a twisted sense of creating disorder. Such illogical statements are typical for the likes of Anjem Choudhry who want to divide and conquer by instilling fear and hatred among the community.
Mirza Masroor Ahmad, ever since being elected the Khalifa of Islam, has sought to unite mankind with our shared principles of decency and dignity. He embodies the community’s motto, “Love for All, Hatred for None”. He has called on both sides of the various conflicts in the world to act with justice. The mighty should not abuse their strength and the weak should not succumb to despair. Commenting specifically on the actions of the likes of Anjem Choudhry, Mirza Masroor Ahmad said, “The only thing the terrorists are achieving is to completely violate the teachings of the Holy Quran and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Let it be clear that they are not practicing Islam, rather it seems as though they have invented their own hate-filled and poisonous religion.”
Under His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad’s guidance, the True Islam campaign was launched to counter the false message of Islam promoted by terrorists and their sympathizers. The 11 points highlighted in this campaign are those terrorists often use to radicalize others, but the goal of the campaign is to root out extremist myths using the Quran and verified Ahadith. In the short time since its launch, the True Islam campaign has been endorsed by celebrities and politicians, and thousands of ordinary citizens willing to promote a different narrative on Islam.
Unfortunately, the hate-filled words of Anjem Chaudhry receive much greater airtime than the wisdom of the Khalifa of Islam. While this dynamic has led to an increase in readership and viewers for media outlets, it has attracted the downtrodden to a false narrative of Islam. When the downtrodden need to find solace in an increasingly challenging environment, they only see the message of the likes of Anjem Choudhry. Ironically, Dickens warned the citizens of London about what could happen if social justice did not prevail. In light of that, we need the media to promote the message of social justice and peace instead of those who want to destabilize governments at all costs. Simply arresting someone who spouts hate will only encourage others to take up the “cause.” Instead we all need to support the message of His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad: social justice, patience, and respect for each other will lead to peace.