On the 2nd Day of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Holland’s Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana) on 19th May 2012, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah(as) and Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, delivered an address to an audience of approximately 120 non-Muslim guests. The guests included Mr. Henmen, Burgomaster of the town of Nunspeet, and Mr. H.Van Bommel, Member of Parliament for the Socialist Party. We present below the transcript of the keynote address delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba).
After reciting Tashhahud, T’aawwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) said:
“All the distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – Peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.”
Today, the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community here in Holland (the Netherlands) has requested me to address you, our friends. Indeed, this is the first time that I have had the opportunity in Holland to directly address people who are not members of our Community.
I am sure that all of you will have come here with the expectation that I will speak to you about the true teachings of Islam, and indeed this will be the main focus of my speech. However, before doing so, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you for accepting our invitation to this event. This gratitude is fully justified in light of the fact that you are attending, despite belonging to different religions, or holding different beliefs. Another reason why I am particularly grateful to all of you is that over the past few years a certain group here in Holland has presented a most terrifying portrayal of Islam; and so the fact that you have chosen to accept the invitation of an event organised by a Muslim community and to listen to its viewpoints, certainly demonstrates and proves your high levels of tolerance, broad-mindedness and your open hearts.
You have shown yourselves to hold a truly just and fair mind-set, whereby rather than simply believing ill-founded rumours and propaganda, you have instead chosen to come and see for yourselves and assess what the reality is. I commend you for this, because it is exactly such values that uphold the requirements of justice, and which lay the foundation for peace, security and reconciliation. This is why the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) advised Muslims that they should not just blindly accept rumours and hearsay, but should seek to verify what they have heard before forming an opinion. If one fails to do this and believes everything he hears without any investigation, it can lead to the development of misunderstandings and grudges. Such misconceptions can in turn lead to disorder and strife. Thus, what may seemingly be a very trivial and insignificant matter has the potential to lead to the complete breakdown of peace within society. Keeping all of this in view, I am extremely pleased that you have joined us today. Indeed, your attendance is a reflection of your high moral standards. Thus, first and foremost, it is my obligation to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for displaying such positive values and for sparing your precious time.
With these few words I would now like to move on and briefly speak to you about the true teachings of Islam. For all true Muslims, the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), is their master and guide. During his life he provided moral teachings in such depth and detail, that even the very smallest aspects of life have been addressed. It is these seemingly smaller points that lead to the establishment and creation of a truly harmonious society. For example, the Holy Prophet(sa) counselled Muslims to always offer thanks and to express gratitude where appropriate, because he taught that a person who is ungrateful to his fellow man, is in fact ungrateful to God; and He Who is ungrateful to God will not be able to truly derive His blessings and rewards. If a true Muslim chooses to adopt a righteous path with the intention and hope of attaining God’s rewards, then his every act and deed should be in accordance with the teachings of Allah the Almighty and His Messenger. There are two fundamental principles that Islam requires Muslims to live by. The first is to fulfil the rights of worship, which are owed to God Almighty, and the second is to fulfil the rights of God’s creation. These are the primary teachings of Islam. Both of these objectives can only be fulfilled when a person’s heart is filled with purity, sincerity and the desire to do good.
God Almighty has great love for His creation. One manifestation of this love is that He desires that all people treat one another with mutual love, compassion and respect, so that they can come to attain His blessings and rewards. The ultimate manifestation of the love that God Almighty holds for His Creation is the perfect and incomparable guidance that He has provided for mankind in the shape of the Holy Qur’an. Within the Holy Qur’an, Allah has described His all-encompassing Mercy and His Compassion, but alongside this, He has also commanded mankind to fulfil the rights of each other, at all times. It was for this very reason that Allah sent the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) as a ‘mercy for all of mankind’.
I should point out here that neither the Holy Qur’an nor the Holy Prophet(sa) ever claimed that he had been sent only as a mercy for the Muslims, but instead, his mercy and compassion extended to all humans, irrespective of differences of religion or belief. In fact the Holy Prophet(sa) was sent not just as a source of mercy and compassion for humans, but indeed also for all animals and living things. When a person has been especially sent as a source of love, compassion and forgiveness for the entire world, then it is certainly impossible that his teachings could ever prove to be a source of harm or suffering for anyone. It is similarly impossible for his acts and
deeds to violate the rights of anyone or cause them injury in any way. On the contrary, it is certain that a sincere person who desires for others to be treated with compassion and mercy, will himself willingly endure great pain and anguish in order to benefit others. This is exactly how we find the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa). There is no doubt that his conduct was based solely upon the teachings that were revealed to him by God Almighty.
Here, I would like to say that regardless of whether non-Muslims believe Islam to be true or not, certainly it is our firm belief that the system of prophethood that God Almighty established, reached its pinnacle in the person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa). We believe him to be the Final Law-bearing Prophet. We believe that the law revealed to him in the shape of the Holy Qur’an was the Ultimate and Perfect Law. We believe that the Guidance of the Holy Qur’an is universal and everlasting. If we glance at the history of the past prophets of God, we find that the people and nations who rejected them were ultimately always punished by God Almighty, and that such punishment was manifest through various and different means. Some powers and nations were destroyed in this very life whilst others, according to our beliefs, are punished by God Almighty in the Hereafter. In the same way, when the teachings of Islam were revealed to the Holy Prophet(sa), he also believed that those who not only rejected his message, but who crossed all limits in their opposition and persecution towards him and his followers, would be subject to God’s Wrath, either in this world or in the Hereafter.
As I have already explained, the Holy Prophet(sa) was a ‘Mercy for all Mankind’, and this meant that he remained constantly anxious and desperate that mankind should be saved from the consequences of Divine Punishment. Therefore, after spending his entire days working tirelessly in the cause of Islam, he would then spend virtually all night and every night bowed down in front of God begging and praying desperately, that mankind be saved from destruction. Upon observing this state of restlessness, God Almighty addressed the Holy Prophet(sa) directly, as is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. It says:
“Haply thou wilt grieve thyself to death because they believe not.” (Ch.26:V.4)
This verse beautifully illustrates the unparalleled love and compassion for mankind that was felt by the Holy Prophet(sa). It was due to this love that he desired that the people of the world should come to recognise their Creator and that they leave behind all forms of idolatry and concepts of polytheism. His ardent desire was that man should be absolutely firm in His conviction that the Possessor of All Powers was the One God. The Holy Prophet(sa) desired all of this because he knew that those who did not recognise God Almighty would come to face His Wrath. Thus, when God Almighty observed his grief-stricken state, He reminded the Holy Prophet(sa) that he should not allow himself to perish through grief, because God had tasked him only with conveying the message and to counsel and guide people towards God. The Holy Prophet(sa) was reminded that ultimately it was God Almighty Who guided Whomsoever He pleases to the Truth and thus the final stage of accepting Islam could only be completed through God’s Grace.
This is the reason why God Almighty, in Chapter 2, Verse 257 of the Holy Qur’an, has stated categorically that “There should be no compulsion in religion.” Therefore, according to Islam, all people have the right to choose whether or not to believe in any religion, because this is viewed as a personal matter between them and God. Islam neither teaches compulsion in matters of faith and nor was it, as is often wrongly alleged, spread in this way. Islam categorically teaches that nobody should ever be forced to accept a religion. Indeed, if somebody is compelled by force to join a religion, yet in his heart he does not believe it to be the truth, then whenever the opportunity arises, he will leave the religion immediately. It is an eternal truth that hearts and minds can never be conquered by force; but if we look at the example of the early Muslims, we find that they were people who gave great personal sacrifices for the sake of the religion and for the sake of their faith. The majority of the early Muslims were either very poor people or were slaves, and due to their acceptance of Islam, they had to endure horrific levels of cruelty and persecution. Yet, they never turned away or gave up their faith.
If we further analyse the history of early Islam we find that as a result of the long period of hardships and cruelties imposed on the Muslims in Makkah, they were forced to migrate to Madinah. If the religion of Islam had not been firmly ingrained in their hearts and they did not have firm conviction of its truth, then why would the Muslims have had any need or desire to endure such trials and tribulations and to give up their homeland? Following the migration to Madinah, the situation of Muslims who had been gravely persecuted and oppressed in Makkah improved significantly, and their numbers began to increase. It is in relation to this postmigration period that an allegation or question is sometimes levelled at Islam, that due to the relative improvement in their circumstances, the Muslims then decided to wage war against the disbelievers. However, this allegation is without any basis or foundation. This is completely wrong and has simply arisen as a result of the false propaganda by the opponents of Islam.
The first battle that took place after the Muslims migrated to Madinah was the Battle of Badr. All historical accounts testify to the fact that the military capabilities of the non-Muslims was far superior, as compared to what was available to the Muslims. The army of the Muslims was even less than one third the size of the army of the disbelievers. In addition, the disbelievers had huge stocks of weapons and artillery, whilst the Muslims had only a handful of swords and a few arrows with which to defend themselves. Furthermore, to suggest that the war was initiated by the Muslims is completely wrong. The truth If we further analyse the history of early Islam we find that as a result of the long period of hardships and cruelties imposed on the Muslims in Makkah, they were forced to migrate to Madinah. If the religion of Islam had not been firmly ingrained in their hearts and they did not have firm conviction of its truth, then why would the Muslims have had any need or desire to endure such trials and tribulations and to give up their homeland? Following the migration to Madinah, the situation of Muslims who had been gravely persecuted and oppressed in Makkah improved significantly, and their numbers began to increase. It is in relation to this postmigration period that an allegation or question is sometimes levelled at Islam, that due to the relative improvement in their circumstances, the Muslims then decided to wage war against the disbelievers. However, this allegation is without any basis or foundation. This is completely wrong and has simply arisen as a result of the false propaganda by the opponents of Islam. The first battle that took place after the Muslims migrated to Madinah was the Battle of Badr. All historical accounts testify to the fact that the military capabilities of the non-Muslims was far superior, as compared to what was available to the Muslims. The army of the Muslims was even less than one third the size of the army of the disbelievers. In addition, the disbelievers had huge stocks of weapons and artillery, whilst the Muslims had only a handful of swords and a few arrows with which to defend themselves. Furthermore, to suggest that the war was initiated by the Muslims is completely wrong. The truth is that the war was forced upon them. The opponents who had driven them out of Makkah then refused to let them to live in peace in Madinah and instead arrived at their doorsteps and waged a fierce attack.
The hearts and minds of the Muslims were filled with such strong faith and conviction that they were inspired to defend themselves with fearlessness and exemplary courage. Such bravery and faith showed that they had not been forced to join Islam, but that their faith was truly genuine. Despite the huge gulf in resources and manpower, a great victory was secured by the Muslims. This victory was a grand sign that the Help of God was with them. As I said, this battle was a defensive war that occurred only after Allah had granted permission to the Muslims to fight back. The reason that Allah granted permission is stated in the Holy Qur’an, where it states that:
“Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah indeed has power to help them. Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’. And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.” (Ch.22:Vs.40-41)
Having heard these verses you will realise that permission for defensive wars was not granted by the Holy Qur’an in order to only protect the Muslims, but in fact, through this permission, the Muslims were commanded to defend and protect the places of worship of all other religions as well. Certainly, as long as true Islam was practised, which was during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet(sa) and his Rightly Guided Successors, never did the Muslims initiate any warfare. Even where they were compelled to defend themselves they were bound by strict instructions given by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) in relation to the rules of war. For example, he instructed the Muslims that during warfare, no church or any other place of worship was to be damaged; he instructed that no priest or religious leader was to be caused any harm; he instructed that no women, children or elderly people were to be harmed; he instructed that no Muslim should attack anyone who did not attack – and the rules of engagement given by the Holy Prophet(sa) were not limited to protecting only humans, but went even further. Thus, the Holy Prophet(sa) instructed that during any battle no trees were to be felled and no crops were to be destroyed. All of this guidance was given as a result of the beautiful teachings of the Holy Qur’an. This was the real Islam and is the real Islam. In direct contradiction to these teachings, in today’s world we find indiscriminate firing and bombardment regularly occurring, in many parts of the world. We find that well-populated towns and cities are being targeted and so innocent civilians are being killed and their homes are being destroyed; and neither is the environment spared, with trees and crops also being destroyed.
Thus, based on all I that have said, can it be alleged that Islam is a religion that teaches or promotes extremism?
I have already mentioned that great cruelties were inflicted on the early Muslims of Makkah. I shall cite just one example, which relates to a blacksmith who was an opponent of Islam. Upon learning that his slave had become a Muslim, he inflicted the most horrific torture on him. The blacksmith would repeatedly lay his slave directly onto burning coals only because the slave would proclaim that, “God is One and Muhammad is His Messenger.” The Muslim slave was forcibly kept lying on the burning coals until the coals themselves had cooled, due to prolonged contact with his skin. Yet in spite of such cruelty and barbarity, when Makkah was eventually conquered by the Muslims, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), in an act of unparalleled mercy, chose to forgive all of those who had bitterly oppressed the Muslims for so many years. This forgiveness was rendered unconditionally and regardless of whether they had come to accept Islam or not. The only stipulation that the Holy Prophet(sa) laid down was that the opponents should not attack the Muslims in the future. This act of incomparable mercy and compassion was so astonishing that it won over even the hearts of the remaining enemies of Islam. These were the true and real teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa) and of Islam.
With regret I must admit, that today some Muslim groups act in a way that is totally opposed to these teachings. In the same way, some Muslim governments appear not to follow these teachings in their policies and acts. However, the blame for this cannot be placed upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) or the Holy Qur’an. We, Ahmadi Muslims, follow the true teachings that the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) brought with him. He himself prophesised that a period of spiritual darkness would arise in the future where the majority of the Muslims would no longer follow the true teachings of Islam. He further prophesised, that at such a time, God Almighty would send a person as the Promised Messiah(as) and the Imam Mahdi (the Guided One). He would be sent to re-establish the true teachings of Islam in the world. The Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) instructed that when such a person came, he should be accepted.
We, Ahmadis, believe that the Messiah and Mahdi who was to come has indeed arrived in the person of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose name was Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), of Qadian. During his lifetime he shined a bright light on the true and real teachings of Islam, and it is as a result of his guidance, that our Community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, spreads a message of love, compassion and peace throughout the world. The Promised Messiah(as) himself outlined the main objectives for which he had been sent. He said that his primary task was to bring mankind closer to God Almighty and to draw the attention of mankind towards fulfilling the rights of each other. He was sent to bring an end to all religious warfare and to spread Islam’s true teachings, which are of love, affection and peace, and to establish true human values. Therefore, we, Ahmadi Muslims, promote these very teachings throughout the world.
Nevertheless, when certain anti-Islamic groups choose to either mock or ridicule our Holy Book, the Holy Qur’an or to insult our master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), or to raise wholly false allegations against them, then this naturally leads to our feelings and sentiments being grievously injured and hurt. Furthermore, there are many other Muslims from different sects who themselves are extremely hurt by such distressing acts. From the perspective of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I can say with certainty that we never display any wrong or inappropriate reaction and never seek to take revenge, and we never take the law into our own hands. Instead, we constantly strive to present the true and beautiful teachings of Islam to the world, and so in this way, dispel all doubts and suspicions that may be raised against the religion. Sadly, certain Muslim groups or individuals react to the provocation in an entirely wrong way and retaliate or seek revenge, and thus discord and disorder spreads within society.
Consequently, through this event today, I would like to convey the message that we must endeavour to always consider and respect the feelings of one another; and I would also request all of you to help and assist in our efforts to fulfil this crucial object. We must try to promote peace and reconciliation in society, because the alternative is that burning flames of hatred and conflict will continue to erupt, and will come to engulf the entire world. Thus, it is my prayer and desire that all of you should help us to promote love, affection, reconciliation and brotherhood throughout society. In your own circles of influence I would urge you to propagate to others the importance of respecting and honouring one another, as this is the only way that we can save the world from the impending devastation; because we already see that in the vast majority of the world, disorder and frustrations have become widely prevalent. If these are allowed to continue, then it could lead to another world war – and the final result of such a war will be colossal destruction and devastation, the like of which we have not seen before.
May God have mercy on the world, and may all mankind come to realise the great need to fulfil the rights due to God Almighty, and to His Creation, as this is the only way that the world can be saved from catastrophe. At the end, I would like to once again thank all of the distinguished guests for taking the time and effort to be with us today. May Allah reward you, abundantly. Thank you very much”