Keynote Address Delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community at an event organised by the Pan-African Association to celebrate the independence days of various African countries, on 13th November 2010 at the Nasir Hall, Baitul Futuh Mosque. Also in attendance were:
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwudh 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.
We are gathered here today to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of Nigeria and some other West African countries, or I should say, other African countries, which has been organised by the group of African Ahmadi brothers called the Pan-African Association.
When I was invited to this event by the Pan-African Association they expressed their desire that I attend, and so I replied that, InshaAllah (God Willing), I will do so. I decided to accept their invitation for a number of reasons.
It is not only because the Pan-African Association organised this event, or that in Africa we have an established Ahmadiyya Community.
Neither is the only reason for attending because, as our religion teaches us, it is a high moral standard to accept an invitation in order to fulfil the wishes of someone.
Although, of course, they are all important reasons; most of all, the biggest reason why I am attending this function is due to the great love I hold in my heart for the people of Africa.
These sentiments exist because I lived in the African country of Ghana for a period of more than eight years, and as a result, have developed an affiliation to all Africans.
There are also other reasons why I have sentiments of love and affection for African nations.
One of the reasons is that my master and beloved, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), gave so much respect to one of his African spiritual slaves that the Second Khalifa of the Holy Prophet(saw), Hazrat Umar(ra), would call this Ethiopian spiritual slave ‘Syedna Bilal,’ which is a highly esteemed and respected word in Arabic.
This heartfelt respect that I hold is also due to the fact that upon the Victory of Makkah, whoever came under the flag of Bilal(ra) was guaranteed protection.
This humble servant of the Founder of Islam(saw) cast aside all of the cruelties and excesses perpetrated against him for the sake of world harmony and stood up as a symbol of peace. The Prophet of God(saw) guaranteed peace to whoever came under the flag of Bilal(ra).
Furthermore, in my heart I respect you and hold you in high esteem and have feelings of love for all of you because in Makkah, when incidents of cruelties and barbarism were building up, at that time the first place of sanctuary for poor and oppressed Muslims was a country in Africa called ‘Habsha’, which is now commonly known as Ethiopia.
I also had a desire to participate in this function because, apart from the sub-Continent of India and Pakistan, it is the continent of Africa that has most of all accepted the call of the Messiah of Muhammad and thus had the good fortune of joining the Jama‘at (Community) of the Promised Messiah(as). Indeed, African Ahmadis have established high moral standards and displayed great loyalty.
Thus, considering all of this, how would it have been possible for me to not attend this function?
May Allah greatly bless the Independence Day of Nigeria, Ivory Coast and all other African countries, that have either recently celebrated their respective Days of Independence, or are soon to do so, InshaAllah.
However, your happiness should not be limited to these celebrations only, but in fact, this Golden Jubilee should infuse a brand new spirit into the country and its leaders.
Prior to British Rule, Nigeria was an independent country. The history of Nigeria is filled with various types of cultures and kingdoms that have existed. According to known history these cultures and kingdoms go back to at least five centuries BC, and thus Nigeria is a very ancient civilisation.
Initially, there were tribes that had small areas that they governed over, and then gradually their dominion enlarged. Nevertheless, after passing through various stages, eventually Nigeria became a British colony. Then, in 1960, it gained independence.
Similarly, Ivory Coast and other African countries gained their independence from either British or French rule.
Thus today the Day of Independence is a celebration of freedom from colonialism.
It is a sign of living and progressive nations that they always keep their past history in view and learn lessons from it. As a result, they are able to strengthen and prepare their future. Good traditions and practices are maintained on strong foundations, and to avoid mistakes and errors, great planning and effort is under-taken.
Thus, when I said that this Independence Day should infuse a new spirit in the country and its leaders, this is what I meant, because in order to continually progress and safeguard your independence, you must never repeat your past mistakes that granted the Western World the opportunity to bring African countries under their rule.
I too am a citizen of a country where the leaders live a life of luxury, self-interest and injustice and have forgotten God Almighty. Because of all these things for a very long time the nation has had to give away its freedom.
If after gaining independence countries do not reflect upon how to reform and progress, then powerful and greedy nations will again try to bring weaker nations under their control.
Hence, to protect its freedom, whether it is an African or Asian country where only a short time has passed since its independence, there is a need for great effort, and to be trustworthy and to plan properly. So, if we are not careful, other governments that have their eyes on our resources will once again take us under their rule. It is not necessary to formally take over a country or its government to rule over it. By taking over a country’s resources, the country can be enslaved.
And this kind of slavery destroys the traditions of a country, and it destroys a nation’s identity and self-esteem. Therefore, although this celebration of fifty years of independence brings great happiness, it should also draw our attention towards deep reflection and concern.
Every citizen and every leader must put aside their own thoughts and interests in order to strengthen, consolidate and serve the national interest.
In respect of natural resources, Nigeria is Africa’s richest country, and in terms of population, it is its largest. I mention natural resources because Nigeria is engulfed in the wealth of oil. It is said that Nigeria is one of the biggest oil producers in the world.
In the same way, Nigeria also possesses the treasure of other natural resources. Similarly, it has vast agricultural means. Accordingly, Nigeria, if it so desires, can not only take care of itself, but also many poor countries of Africa.
If the West has advanced, it is due its efforts, hard work, loyalty, and honesty to its own nation. God has not granted the Western countries any extraordinary capabilities that are not present in other nations.
I have lived in Africa. I can testify that there are many supremely intelligent African people. When a well-educated African person goes to Europe, America and other countries then the locals cannot help but be impressed by his intelligence. Thus, nature has not been unjust to anyone; rather, it is humans who do not utilise the capabilities bestowed upon them in a proper manner.
It is my prayer that the African people and their governments are able to understand their own value and worth so that they are able to play a positive role for the progress of the African Continent
The history of the Ahmadiyya Community in African countries is longstanding. Indeed, Ahmadiyyat has existed in Africa for over 90 years. Our mission houses are established in almost all countries.
The schools of the Ahmadiyya Community are operating in many parts of West Africa and numerous clinics and hospitals belonging to the Jama‘at are engaged in serving the poor people there.
We have love for you and it is heartfelt and true love. And whatever I am saying is due to my heartfelt feelings.
The progress of Africa will be a means for the progress of the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at, InshaAllah. When the Ahmadis of African countries advance, it will surely lead to the progression of our Jama‘at.
My prayers and heartfelt feelings for Africa are not limited only to seeing Ahmadis progress. In fact, I desire for every single human being to increase in goodness and succeed, and I desire that Africa should not fall behind in any way.
When, a few years ago, I toured certain African countries, I also drew the attention of the Ahmadis over there towards making the firm conviction that ‘We will progress,’ InshaAllah. I also reminded them that to achieve this aim, they must use every possible good means, and most importantly, they must recognise their Creator.
Today, with reference to this gathering, I would like to say to African people that most certainly you have the qualities needed to lead the world. However, in everything you do, keep in mind that you have a Creator, Who is watching your every word and deed, and so you should never act in a manner that would be a means of making Him angry.
Indeed, I even always say to my own people and my fellow countrymen, and also to Ahmadis, that they should strengthen their ties with God, and should always remember the fact that by closing your eyes the reality cannot be concealed.
Thus, it is better that upon seeing the true reality we make excellent plans to help us achieve our higher levels of progress.
It is also important to develop an atmosphere of mutual love and affection, and by doing so, you are able to uphold the human values of mankind.
For the sake of the progress of the country, mutual love, affection and brotherhood are extremely important. Without this, peace cannot be established in a country. And without peace, progress cannot be achieved.
It is my prayer that the geographical outlook, peace and security of all African nations is upheld.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community(as) has given us two great teachings that we propagate. Before concluding I would like to present these two teachings to you.
The Promised Messiah(as) said that, firstly, God Almighty sent me to develop a relationship between God and man, so that the rights of Allah are discharged. Secondly, he said that I have been sent to develop mutual affection and love between all mankind, so that the rights due to God’s creation are also discharged1.
If both of these qualities are inculcated by any country then that nation becomes a guarantor of peace for the world and, of course, for its own survival. And today, for the survival of the world, what is required most is peace, and peace is only developed when a relationship between man and God is formed.
Those who fight wars in the name of religion are wrong when they say that they are fighting due to their relationship with God. Islam forbids fighting wars in the name of religion.
Thus, developing a true relationship with God is a means to end all wars. At this time I cannot provide a full explanation of this, but on many occasions, I have already shed light on this subject in great detail.
Also, apart from establishing a relationship with God; mutual love, brotherhood, understanding and recognising each other’s rights are a surety for peace.
If we do not follow these principles, then no matter how far we progress, at any time we will continue to face destruction. The current state of the world today is such that it suggests that we are moving towards such destruction.
Therefore, we should play a role to the maximum extent possible in saving the world from destruction. In this regard, it is my prayer that Allah the Almighty enables the great continent of Africa to play the full role in this effort.
That is what I wanted to say. Now, I thank you all – all the distinguished guests and all other guests, and I also thank the Pan-African Association for inviting me on this occasion.
Long live Africa!”