We are at a ‘critical moment in history’ where the outbreak of a world war has become more and more likely. From the South China Sea, to North Korea and Iran – flashpoints have threatened to erupt into full-scale war. Mass immigration has caused unrest to rip through western societies. Internationally blocs have formed between nations with economic trade wars the new norm. Nuclear weapons possessed by many nations means a global war would have unthinkable consequences. Against this background, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, delivered a critical message of how to attain peace in the current global state of affairs. The address was delivered during the Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana) Germany of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, on 6th July 2019, to an audience of more than 1000 non-Ahmadi guests. We present the official transcript of the address delivered by His Holiness on this occasion. We urge our readers to avail of this groundbreaking address, which outlines a blueprint for long lasting peace and provides a detailed geo-political analysis of the world crisis. (The Review of Religions, July 14th 2019)
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said:
‘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 take this opportunity to thank all of our guests who have come to attend our annual convention, that is, the ‘Jalsa Salana’. The Jalsa Salana is a purely religious gathering in which Ahmadi Muslims join together for the sake of increasing their spirituality and morality and furthering their religious knowledge. During our convention here in Germany, it has become a tradition for us to hold a session specifically for the benefit of our Muslim and Non-Muslim guests and it is for that purpose that we are gathered here at this time.
Some of you will have come to our events in the past and will be aware of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. However, there will be other guests who have joined us for the first time, in order to learn about our community and about our beliefs and practices. By now, such guests may be aware that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a sect within Islam that was founded for the sake of the spiritual reformation of mankind, in accordance with a prophecy of the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) regarding the latter days.
It is a natural phenomenon that applies not only to secular organisations, but also to religious communities that, with the passing of time, the adherents of a particular movement or belief begin to deviate from their original teachings and move away from their core beliefs. As a result, there comes a time in the life of all groups or communities when they need reviving. Otherwise, they will eventually die away or morph into something that bears no resemblance to their initial state.
We believe that when it comes to religious communities, in order to keep the original teachings alive, it is the practice of God Almighty to send His chosen representatives to reform and guide people back towards their original beliefs and practices. In terms of Islam, we believe that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the final law-bearing Prophet sent by Allah the Almighty. And then, in the late 19th century, in order to revive and restore the Islam that he taught and practiced, Allah the Almighty sent a reformer in the person of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Thus, we believe our community’s founder to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (the Guided One) and his paramount objective was to rejuvenate the true teachings of Islam and to bring mankind back towards God Almighty. Following this brief introduction to our community, I now wish to move on and speak about the current state of the world.
It is human nature for a person to want to live with freedom, autonomy and in comfort. It is natural to crave a life of peace and contentment, free from all forms of conflict. Everyone yearns to live in a place of peace and security. Every person desires for his village, town or city to be harmonious and secure. Everyone wants their nation to be peaceful, to thrive and to be equipped with all those things that make life comfortable. Ultimately, people inherently desire for the entire world to be peaceful.
However, in spite of this instinctive desire for peace, the truth is that division, disorder and conflict has spread to every part of the world. For instance, there are nations being torn apart by civil wars. Insurgent groups are fighting one another or targeting the state. In some countries, bitter rivalries and hostilities between the people of different provinces or regions are undermining the peace of their societies. Furthermore, in countries where there has been widespread immigration, tensions and grudges between the indigenous citizens and the immigrants have risen to the surface.
Fractured societies are becoming ever more polarised and are rapidly reaching a breaking point, with tensions threatening to boil over at any point. At an international level, various nations are competing with one another in an effort to gain power and control. For the sake of attaining economic or geo-political power, or in order to force people with different values or beliefs to bend to their will, unjust wars are taking place. For example, economic and trade wars have started in order to assert dominance and to hinder the growth of rival nations.
Furthermore, the world is being plagued by the blood-soaked stain of conventional warfare, in which destructive weapons of mass destruction are being used to crush nations and to extinguish the future prospects of the coming generations. In our selfish quest for wealth and power, we are ruthlessly destroying the prospects of today’s youth through a never-ending stream of perpetual injustice and savage cruelty. A desperate yet very tangible fear is that what we are witnessing today could, at any moment, escalate into a truly global catastrophe whose dire consequences are far beyond our imagination.
In short, it is difficult to identify any part of the world that may be classed as secure and free from dissension and strife. Frequently, certain major powers use their might and wealth to force weaker nations to conform to their will. Even some of the lesser powers, with the backing of powerful allies, use unjust means against their neighbouring countries in order to assert their regional dominance.
In addition, terrorist groups continue to pursue violence and bloodshed in order to fulfil their vested interests. Furthermore, some so-called ‘religious’ organisations deceivingly use the name of religion to justify extremism, when their real objective is to acquire wealth and power.
Increasingly, the far-right poses a profound and ominous threat to the peace and well-being of Europe and other parts of the world. Far-right members, in the name of nationalism, advocate an end to modern-day multicultural and pluralistic societies and instead seek to impose their own racist and prejudiced ideologies on society. For the sake of protecting what they consider to be their nation’s identity and purity, intolerant bigots are viciously targeting immigrants, many of whom have lived peacefully for decades in their adopted countries and have contributed to its success as model citizens.
In addition, disregarding basic principles of ethics and fairness, certain nations or groups are sparing no effort in their quest to take control of the world’s financial markets and business interests for the sake of their personal enrichment at the cost of others.
In summary, as I have already said, conflict is prevalent throughout the world and visible at every level of society. Thus, despite our innate desire for peace to prevail, we are seeing the polar opposite come to pass.
I have expressed my concerns about the deteriorating state of the world for several years and now, increasingly, other people are also raising their voice to articulate their fears about the world’s lack of peace and security. Hence, I shall now mention recent statements made by certain geo-political experts, politicians and analysts who are openly asserting their apprehensions and are calling for restraint and urgent reform in order to safeguard the peace and security of the world.
For example, in a recent article for The New York Times, the outgoing French Ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre, writes:
‘My experience at the United Nations Security Council over the last five years has led me to see a harsh truth: The world is growing more dangerous and less predictable by the day. While the tectonic plates of power are shifting under our feet, driven in no small part by the combined effects of a technology revolution and the rise of China, we are also witnessing the return of heightened competition among the major powers. We are now in a new world disorder.’
The major powers claim to be acting benevolently in order to maintain the status quo or to establish a new and improved world order, but here, a senior Western diplomat, who has seen the inner-workings of international relations and politics, openly admits that, to the contrary, all they are doing is leading the world towards a ‘new world disorder’.
The French Ambassador has further stated:
‘Each serious international crisis has the potential to spin out of control. That is what we saw happen in Syria and what we need to prevent with Iran and North Korea, and in the South China Sea.’
Whilst it is true that Syria and Iran are Muslim countries, neither North Korea nor the countries involved in the South China Sea dispute have any link to Islam and so it cannot be said that the world’s disorder is only based around Muslims or Muslim countries, as is often perceived. In the aforementioned article, the French Ambassador also spoke about Europe’s crucial role in maintaining the peace of the world. He writes:
‘My deep conviction is that Europe has both the historical responsibility and the means to become one of the major centres of action and influence in a multipolar world. It is Europe’s duty to act as a link, a connector and a balancing power for the world.’
Some time ago, I met with a German politician who was working for an organisation set up by the German Government to build bridges between the immigrant population and the local German people. I advised him that the issues at hand were not for Germany to solve on their own, or for any other individual nation; rather, all European nations needed to work together and with a spirit of unity if they wanted to achieve lasting peace.
In a recent article, Professor Nouriel Roubini, who was a senior economist for international affairs in the White House during the Clinton administration, writes about the relationship between the United States and China. Professor Roubini writes:
‘The global consequences of a China-American cold war would be even more severe than those of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union.’
Professor Roubini further states:
‘A full-scale cold war thus could trigger a new stage of de-globalisation, or at least a division of the global economy into two incompatible economic blocs. In either scenario, trade in goods, services, capital, labour, technology, and data would be severely restricted.’
This article gives an insight into some of the harmful consequences of a trade and economic war between the world’s superpowers. Although recently an agreement was reached between China and the US, let us see how far that is fruitful.
Whilst such trade wars are reckless and irrational, my greatest fear remains the potential of a nuclear war breaking out. The calamitous and heart-breaking consequences of such a war do not bear thinking about and would surely extend for generations to come. More and more, other people are now also highlighting this risk. In an article for Bloomberg, Professor Tyler Cowen, an Economics Professor at George Mason University, writes:
‘One of the most striking facts of today’s world is that young people do not seem to worry very much about nuclear war. Climate change is by far the larger concern, while nuclear war is seen as a threat of the past…’
‘… In contrast, I am inclined to think that the risk of nuclear war remains the world’s No. 1 problem, even if that risk does not seem so pressing on any particular day.’
He goes on to say that some smaller countries have acquired nuclear weapons, whilst other nations are seeking to obtain them and so the risk of nuclear warfare continues to rise. He solemnly notes that it would require only one nation or group to launch a nuclear missile to change the world forever. A recent survey published by Deutsche-Welle, found that the issue German people are most concerned about is climate change but, personally, I agree with the sentiments of the aforementioned academic that the risk of warfare, and most especially nuclear warfare, is the most pressing issue of our time.
Earlier this year, Germany’s former Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, also expressed his concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He stated that the United States, Russia and China were now engaged in a new nuclear arms race and that it was likely that nuclear missiles would be stationed in Europe by the United States and Russia and that in such a scenario, European countries would be viewed merely as ‘collateral damage’ in the pursuit of nuclear supremacy.
Furthermore, tensions between the United States and Iran are ratcheting up and there is intense speculation about the possibility of a war between them. No one can seriously claim that the potential war between the United States and Iran is a religious war. On the contrary, it is a prime example of irresponsible sabre-rattling and unnecessary belligerence, putting at risk the lives of millions of people. Political analysts have noted that if a war erupts between the United States and Iran, then its effect will not be limited to the two countries, but will spread much further afield. Certainly, Germany and other European countries would surely be affected by the devastating fall-out of such a war. Hence, Germany’s Government and other European nations must take a lead in urging restraint and de-escalation.
Moreover, a decade on from the global financial crisis, the European countries should not think that their national economies are secure or that the capitalist system is thriving. Even Western experts and economists are accepting the shortcomings of their financial system. For example, in a recent article for Economia magazine, a well-known economist, Paul Kearns writes:
‘We have all benefited from capitalism but it is a system that must now be re-designed to heal itself. It has to be driven explicitly by societal values, not profit’
Hence, the capitalist system is slowly losing its status and people are realising that there are inherent risks and injustices embedded within it. Consequently, European countries and the other major powers should not arrogantly presume that their economic system will remain pre-eminent forevermore; rather, they should be working to ensure that fairness and equality underpin the world’s financial system. Another concerning issue that is adding to the uncertainty in Europe is Brexit and its potential ramifications.
Just recently, Deutsche Welle cited a study outlining the harmful consequences across the European Union of the Brexit crisis. The report stated that Germany would be particularly affected by a ‘hard Brexit’ and it could easily cause widespread damage to Germany’s automotive and technology industries and that in Germany alone, 100,000 jobs could be lost.
Another issue that has been the cause of frustration and been used repeatedly to incite discord in many parts of the world, including here in Germany, is immigration. Despite being such a contentious issue, the truth is that immigration is actually an indispensable necessity for thriving economies.
For example, a recent study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that in order to meet the basic labour demand in Germany, 260,000 immigrants were required annually to move to this country to prevent a labour shortage.
The report goes on to state that due to its ageing population the labour force in Germany is likely to shrink by a third – or 16 million people – by 2060 without immigration. So, to blame immigrants for all of a country’s problems is entirely unjust and the truth is that many wealthy Western nations would be at grave risk without immigration.
The reality is that all nations are dependent upon one another and that we are now living in an increasingly inter-connected and globalised world. Instead of seeking to build barriers or to isolate ourselves, it is essential that nations and people of different backgrounds co-operate and work together for the common good. For this, governments should make proper plans to ensure that countries work in harmony with each other and that, at a domestic level, immigrants are helped to assimilate and integrate.
For decades, the situation in the Middle East has been volatile and incendiary. Countless peace plans seeking a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine have come and gone, all without success. Recently, there has been intense speculation about a new peace plan that is said to have been developed by the United States and its allies. However, even before it has been formally unveiled, politicians and experts are saying that the new plan is rooted in injustice and so will not achieve any positive results. In fact, prior to his recent retirement as the French Ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araur stated that the plan was almost certainly ‘doomed to fail.’
Hence, the world’s peace is being undermined by a variety of factors, such as the one-eyed policies of political leaders and governments who place their personal and national interests above fairness and equity. Such injustice can never lead to peace and prosperity.
The various studies and articles I have quoted demonstrate that the blame for the world’s lack of peace and security cannot be put at the door of any religion, whether Islam or otherwise; rather, there are a myriad of economic, geo-political and social issues which are all playing a role in undermining the world’s peace.
At this critical moment in history, I believe with all my heart that there is only one way to bring an end to the great challenges of our time.
There is only one path that can lead us to salvation and deliver us from this world of war and conflict and that is the path of God Almighty.
Peace does not lie in power or wealth, rather peace lies in the cradle of God Almighty.
The Holy Qur’an, which is the Holy Book of Islam and the foremost source of Islamic law, was, according to our beliefs, revealed by Allah the Almighty to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and we consider it to be the final religious law that will remain until the Day of Judgment. And in the Quran, Allah the Almighty states that when division and disorder spread to all parts of the world, the root cause is a growing distance between mankind and its Creator.
At such times, when the world is hurtling towards the brink of disaster, out of His infinite grace and mercy, Allah the Almighty sends His chosen representatives to bring humanity back towards religion.
In ancient times, Prophets came to different parts of the world to guide their people. Then, according to our belief, ultimately, Allah the Almighty sent the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with a universal and everlasting teaching for the sake of the spiritual and moral reformation of all mankind.
As I mentioned at the outset, we Ahmadi Muslims believe that in this era, Allah the Almighty sent the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a reformer to guide mankind and to shine a light on the true teachings of Islam that had long been abandoned and corrupted. He was sent to show Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Islam was a religion of peace, reconciliation, brotherhood and friendship and that God Almighty desired for humanity to live in peace and for all people to fulfil the rights of their Creator and of one another.
Time and time again, the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) emphasised that it was not possible to fulfil the rights of God, without discharging the rights of His creation. Indeed, the Holy Quran goes as far as saying that the prayers and worship of those who do not fulfil the rights of God’s creation are worthless and will be rejected by Allah the Almighty.
The Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) called on mankind to seek refuge under the shade of God Almighty, in order to be saved from all forms of warfare and danger. However, he also warned that if mankind failed in its duties to recognise its Creator then it would be at grave risk. He said that despite their might, wealth and power, neither Europe nor America would be safe from destruction. Nor would Asia, Australia or Islands or any other part of the world.
In light of this, it is my heartfelt prayer that mankind comes to recognise its Creator and turns towards Him, rather than continuing to view this material world and its attractions and comforts as the ultimate form of existence.
It is my ardent hope and prayer that the people of the world come to understand their duties towards their Creator and towards their fellow beings, so that the world can become that haven of peace that we all naturally crave and desire.
I pray that we set a positive example for those who follow us so that the coming generations seek to live in peace, rather than being those who stoke further conflict and division and for whom all roads leading to prosperity and success are sealed.
I pray that may the dark clouds of war and enmity hovering ominously all around us give way and may they be replaced by eternal blue skies of peace and prosperity in all parts of the world.
May Allah the Almighty enable humanity to save itself from impending disaster by turning towards Him before it is too late, Ameen.
At the end, I wish to thank all of you once again for joining us this afternoon.
Thank you very much.’