Hudhur said today some African countries are commemorating golden jubilee of their independence in which the Pan African Association of our Community is also participating. This association was formed in the time of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him). Hudhur Aqdas has been asked to grace an event held in this regard and Hudhur will speak at that event but wished to speak with reference to freedom in his sermon.
Freedom from slavery as well as freedom of religion and conscience is a great blessing. The continent of Africa was enslaved and subjugated for a very long period of time. For this reason celebration of independence is certainly most significant for them and is their rightful due. May God make the independence they received fifty to sixty years ago enduring and may they not be ensnared in the chains of slavery again. If they derive benefit from their independence conscientiously, it is not implausible that the continent of Africa is a world leader in future.
A great and most significant task of founders of religion and Prophets is to bring about freedom; be it from tyrants, Pharaoh-like rulers, or so-called care-takers of religion who exploit religion and put people under the burden of neck yokes. Prophets bring about all forms of freedom. However, unfortunately many nations failed to understand this and were destroyed by rejecting true standard-bearers of freedom. They preferred the slavery of worldly rulers to the slavery of the Hakamil Hakameen (Best of judges). By changing their preferences of freedom, they lost true freedom and had their worldly life and the Hereafter ruined.
Among all the Prophets, our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was the most brilliant star of freedom whose rays reached far and wide and encompassed all forms of freedoms. The person of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) brought about apparent freedom and also freed people from all kinds of neck yokes, shackles. To this day connecting to his person in the real sense is a tremendous source of attaining freedom. God gave him the title of Khataman Nabiyeen (Seal of the Prophets) and by virtue of this eminence his person encompasses all worldly and spiritual matters. Thus, no pious soul can even doubt that only the Muhammadan seal can bring about all forms of excellences. In him was the pinnacle of every matter and every task, therefore the culmination of bringing about freedom was also to be with him and indeed it did. And to this day, it is taking place by connecting to him in the real sense.
The perfect Book that was revealed to him expounds the subject of freedom with different references and forms. Furthermore, his own blessed model magnificently enhanced the beautiful teaching. The Qur’an states: ‘It is the freeing of a slave’ (90:14) Part of another verse states: ‘…and spends his money for love of Him, on the kindred and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask for charity, and for ransoming the captives…’ (2:178). Hudhur explained that in the preceding verses the subject-matter describes these as a great virtue after accepting faith and freeing of slaves is numbered among them.
Ahadith also expound on the great virtue of freeing salves. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘Whichever Muslim will free a slave will be granted complete salvation by God from the fire of Hell.’ Islam teaches freeing of slaves as expiation in many places in the Qur’an, which also teaches that if a Muslim kills another Muslim by mistake, he should free a slave as well as give blood-money. This is not limited to killing a Muslim. If a disbeliever is killed by mistake with whose nation a pact has been made, a slave is to be freed in that instance as well. Among various punishments of swearing an oath by God and then breaking it, Islam cites freeing of slave as one penalty. The different ways of bringing about freedom of slaves is borne of the fact that Islam wishes to gradually eradicate slavery. Before Islam, keeping slaves was a common practice which Islam seeks to eliminate. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that Muslims should free slaves at the time of solar eclipse. A Hadith relates that seven brothers shared a slave and one day one of the brothers slapped the slave in anger. When this matter was related to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) he told them to release the slave. He said they did not have any right to keep him as they did not know how to treat him well.
Keeping slaves was an accepted thing in those times and the well-off kept many slaves. This was the time when the teaching was revealed that if true wealth of faith was to be attained, it was better to release salves. By virtue of this commandments the Companions released dozens and in some cases thousands of slaves. Those who had slaves to carry out tasks were enjoined to treat them like brothers, to clothe and feed them in the same manner as oneself. The blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) in this matter was that when after marriage Hadhrat Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) gave all her slaves to him, he freed them all. Hadhrat Zaid was among these slaves. He was adopted by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as a son. When his real parents came to get him, he refused to go with them. The kindness and supremely excellent benevolence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was such that Hadhrat Zaid preferred to stay with him to freedom. Those who raise objections about the person of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) cannot even come up with an example close to a fraction of his blessed model. His teaching was to treat slaves benevolently if work was to be taken from them. If work was hard, one was to share the task with the slave.
An Italian professor, Laura Veccia Vaglieri writes that slavery has been around ever since human civilisation began and it remains. She opines that the condition of slavery among Muslim nations is comparatively better. She writes about the benevolence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and cites him as saying ‘do not say he is my slave, rather say he is my son and do not say she is my female-slave rather say she is my daughter. She writes that on reflection the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) made magnificent reformations in this matter. In pre-Islamic days a person in debt faced the possibility of having his freedom snatched, but after Islam no Muslim could enslave another free Muslim. Not only did the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) limit slavery, rather he introduced regulations about this and told the Muslims to march onwards regarding it until such time that all slaves were free. Hudhur said the professor wrote her book in Italian and it has been translated in English. A while ago the USA Jama’at had published this book. It mentions teachings of Islam in a very fine way. If the copyrights are in place, it should be re-printed by USA Jama’at. It is sufficient to silence the detractors who raise objections about Islam and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). This magnificent teaching and blessed model are the reality of freedom of man.
Hudhur said the Ahmadis and the Jama’at in Africa where independence is being commemorated should spread this teaching so that people get to know the reality of freedom. Freedom is not established by commemorating jubilees, rather it will be by understanding the ways which can be found in the blessed model of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the Holy Qur’an. The Italian professor cited Muslims not being enslaved, but in a true Muslim society no one should be enslaved. Muslims should remember the advice the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) gave before passing away where he said, ‘do not forget my teaching regarding observance of Salat and slaves.’
Hudhur said it is the misfortune of the Muslims that they have forgotten both the teachings. Although today the situation does not entail cash-bought slaves but the masses are treated like slaves by governments in the name of governance. The current anxiety and uproar in some Arab nations stems from a realisation that the people have arrived at about being treated like slaves. Rulers try and stay in power for life and after them their offspring seize power. Sycophants and those with ulterior motives have surrounded those in power and have altered their preferences and values and today they are firing on their own. Big powers of the world, those with vested interests and enemies of Islam fan the flames of riots that the masses start to rid themselves of the oppression of the government. Outside powers come in the name of aid. A satanic whirl ensues which takes the countries a century back and ensnares the efforts of the masses for freedom in further slavery. Having left slavery of their own, they enter into indirect slavery of outsiders. Some big powers support certain governments and keep them in power for years with no regard for the oppression of the freedom of masses. Yet, when their own interests diminish, they try and remove the same governments in the name of freedom for the masses. The situation in the recent past where governments have been removed and new people have come in power, the outside powers are getting concerned that people favourable to them have not taken over or there are indications that changes will not take place. It causes them concern and a new wave of rioting and hypocrisy is about to begin, rather it has started in some places. The masses have misunderstood the situation and having left the slavery of one, are entering into the slavery of another. The national revenue will still not be used for the welfare of the masses. Poverty and low standard of living existed among the masses before and it will continue to exist. Their presumptions will be dashed. This is because the rulers do not abide by the advice of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), although they are Muslims.
In earlier times man kept slaves based on his wealth. Today national revenue is used to enslave the masses. On one hand there are gilded palaces and on the other families cannot afford to eat two square meals a day. There was of course a time when during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Umer (may Allah be pleased with him) he had to recall his forces back from a Christian region and thus returned the taxes which were taken from the people for welfare and safety purposes. These Christians wept and said they prayed for the return of the Muslim government because they had never seen such equitable rulers before. And now we have a time when Muslim rulers are pillaging the wealth of Muslims and are usurping their rights, no one’s life or property is safe and the obstinate claim is that they are serving the masses.
The current revolutionary situation in some Muslim countries from which those with vested interests are benefitting would have never come to pass if the governments had given the masses their due rights and had protected their freedom. The religious leaders too have taken advantage of the uninformed masses. They have introduced wrong customs and wrong interpretations to the masses and put neck yokes of mistaken practices on them, thus enslaving them. The great Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had come to establish greatness of mankind, about whom the Qur’an states: ‘…and removes from them their burdens and the shackles that were upon them…’ (7:158). But here, the situation is quite the opposite. Rather than be models of this teaching, Muslim countries who claim to have faith in this Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), act quite the contrary and the religious leaders who should have spread true teachings of Islam are putting shackles on people’s hearts and both have pushed the Muslim masses under burden. The onus of this cannot be just on those in power, the clergy have enslaved people by giving false beliefs the name of religion. This will not end until they accept the one sent by God in the current age, who came to establish human values, to free people from all kinds of burdens and shackles and only spoke of one kind of slavery, that of God and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). This is a slavery which liberates man and creates a society where no riots or wrong practices are used to get rights and freedom, rather both king and pauper make an effort to give rights and dues.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) presented this teaching in different ways at various times. He wrote: ‘Remember that a Muslim should be ever ready to discharge the rights of God and the rights of mankind. Just as one verbally regards God One and without any partner in His Person and His attributes, one should also demonstrate this by practice and should treat His creation with kindness and compassion.’
He also said: ‘Until your dealings with each other are not in order, your dealing with God cannot be in order. Although in both of these rights, God has the greater right, but to have clear dealing with His creation is akin to be a reflection of it. A person who does not have clear dealings with his brother cannot also pay the dues of God.’ Hudhur said the main thing here is to also consider others as one’s brothers.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also said: ‘Each person in the community of our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was of pure nature. Each one of them had sacrificed their lives for faith. Not a single one of them led hypocritical life. All of them paid the dues of rights of God and rights of mankind.’ Hudhur said only when faith is given precedence over worldly matters can one sincerely fulfil the rights of God.
Today we do not observe a single leader in the Muslim countries who can set these standards. When there is a dearth of such leaders, everyone does his or her own thing to obtain rights and those with ulterior motives pursue their interests and thus oppressive havoc is created. Today, freedom means leaving one set of slavery and entering another set of slavery. Thus is the case with Muslim countries and most African countries. May God make their political leaders, the army, which often seizes power in the name of revolution, and religious leaders understand that by putting the masses in the shackles of slavery they invite God’s chastisement. Each ruler will be asked whether or not he fulfilled the right of those he ruled over. God states in the Qur’an that true believers are those who: ‘And who are watchful of their trusts and their covenants,’ (23:9)Hudhur said the leaders take pledge when they attain power but unfortunately in most places they plunder national revenues. Meanwhile, the religious leaders have made faith a way of making money. They have subjugated the masses by putting the yolk of wrongful teaching on them. The masses too are not fulfilling their dues. Everyone is incurring God’s chastisement by not honouring the trusts due to them. The current riots are a logical conclusion of this and the on-going extremism, financial downturn, general disorder and disquiet are also an indication of a very worrying future. As an example, in Pakistan since its independence, all these matters have reached their extreme and are on the increase by the day. How can one expect for things to improve in such a situation? We were liberated from the servitude of the British but the shackles of slavery of our own have become tighter still. May God have mercy on our country and on the masses.
Qaid e Azam had declared at the time of independence of Pakistan that followers of all religions would have freedom in the country and all citizens were equal. Yet, what is being meted out to the Ahmadis? Ahmadis give preference to be in the slavery of the Seal of all Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), to thousands of freedoms, but they levy accusations on us that, God forbid, we insult him. We consider the suppression of our citizens’ rights as nothing, but according to the wish of these so-called rulers and religious leaders, we can never separate ourselves from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Ahmadis cannot vote in Pakistan because they have made the right to vote conditional for us to declaring that we are not Muslims and are not associated with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). By God, every Ahmadi can tolerate being cut down to pieces but would not even spit on such freedom and enfranchisement which separates us from our master, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). These worldly people are welcome to such freedom, while we prefer the slavery which makes us the dust of the feet of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and in the process makes us a true servant of God, who have perception of rights of God and fulfil them, who also have perception of rights of people and fulfil them. InshaAllah a day will come when this very humility and slavery of ours, will demonstrate true freedom to the world and these people who deem themselves to be free but are in fact shackled, or their next generation. will be proud at the slavery of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). They will then have a perception of the real freedom for the establishment of which the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) advent took place. May the world witnesses that freedom soon and is saved from the frightening consequence of rejecting those whom God sends. May God also enable us, each Ahmadi, to go through hard times with patience and steadfastness and with prayers.