On the 16th of July 2012, a special reception in honour of the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), was held at the Paramount Banquet Centre in Woodbridge, Ontario. The event was hosted by the Premier of Ontario, Hon. Dalton McGuinty and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for Ontario, Hon. Charles Sousa.
The event began with a welcome address by Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Charles Sousa, in which he stated his appreciation to Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba):
“We offer a special welcome. It is truly an honour to have you join here today. Thank you for sharing your faith, your leadership and your wisdom throughout your entire visit.”
Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to the left of His Holiness. On the immediate right of His Holiness is Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, and to the far right is Lal Khan Malik, National Amir (President) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Canada
Thereafter, the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, spoke about his admiration for the humanitarian efforts of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Canada. Premier Dalton McGuinty also expressed his pleasure at receiving Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba). He said:
“To His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad – welcome to Ontario. It was an honour to have met in 2008. We are all grateful for your presence once again. And for your dedication to promoting the values that make your community so important to our province…We are fortunate to have a strong Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that is inspired by the leadership of His Holiness to promote peace, justice, equality, respect and understanding for all humanity.”
After his remarks, the Premier invited Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) to address the audience. The transcript of the address by His Holiness is presented here:
“Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem, (In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful).
All distinguished guests: Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
I would like to first of all take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Premier of Ontario, who has arranged this function, and has given me the opportunity to attend this event and to say a few words to all of you. When our National President informed me that the Premier of Ontario wished to host such a function, the first thought that came into my mind was that I should make my apologies with a deep sense of appreciation, particularly given that my Community had already given me a very busy schedule during my visit to Canada. However, later it occurred to me that this invitation had been given due to the fact that the Ahmadiyya Community had made very good relations with the local people and its leadership and especially the way the leadership and Premier reciprocate this relationship.
It is indeed of most importance that where a dignitary or important person from any nation takes such a step of goodness and kindness, then it should not be rejected in any way. In fact, Islam teaches that the hand of friendship of no person should ever be rejected, and so therefore, certainly if a leading figure of the country takes such a step then there is no doubt that it should be fully appreciated. Thus, this made it essential for me to change my initial thoughts and so accept the kind and sincere invitation of the Honourable Premier of Ontario. If I had failed to do this, then it would have been similar to a person who goes into the home of another, and rather than meeting with his host and taking permission, he instead goes directly to the kitchen and eats as he pleases and takes full benefit of his home before departing.
Certainly, such behaviour is a reflection of indecency and is not at all appropriate. In particular, this lack of courtesy becomes ever more apparent when the host is giving full attention and treating the guests in such a kind and welcoming manner. Bearing all of this in mind, I deemed it essential to attend, regardless of my busy schedule. In short, I could not reject this hand of friendship, as it would have been a sign of huge indecency and ungratefulness. This was particularly so given that in this instance, the ‘home owner’ has opened the doors to his home with such an open heart. Therefore, to reject the invitation of such a kind and decent host would be a huge oversight on my part.
On the one hand, we, Ahmadi Muslims, claim that we are the ones who display the highest moral standards, and so how could it be that on the other, we do not respond to friendship with friendship? How could it be that we do not respond to love with love? For me personally exists an even greater responsibility to display high moral standards, because it is my duty to set, or to try and set, the example for all Ahmadis to follow. If my actions are not in keeping with our teachings and are just mere guidance for others, then such teachings can prove to be of no value and cannot gain any of God’s blessings.
Keeping in view all of these points, from the depths of my heart I wish to convey my deep gratitude to the Premier of Ontario, that with such kindness he has welcomed and embraced me in this country and his province, by holding this event. This is certainly an example of greatness and high moral values on your part. The appreciation that I am expressing is also a necessary part of my faith because our master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), has taught us that he who is ungrateful to man is actually ungrateful to Allah the Almighty. Thus, as a person who claims to be religious and who believes that his every good act will lead to God’s Rewards and Pleasure, and who believes that nothing else can compare to God’s Rewards, it becomes ever more incumbent upon me that I should praise the goodness and high moral values of the people of God.
A few days ago at a function also held here in Canada, I said that it is the Canadian people who have always taken the first step in developing relations with me, and this is a true picture of the high moral values of its people. However, I should also say that the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at bears witness to the fact that when we grasp a hand of friendship, then we make full efforts to fulfil the rights of that friendship forever. We endeavour to never let go of that hand. Thus, from this perspective, I am very confident that our future relations will continue to develop in a positive manner.
As I have already spoken about high moral values, I would like to continue by speaking about what Islam says in relation to high moral standards and its guiding principles in relation to this. Certainly, the world today stands in great need of such values. Only through fulfilling each other’s rights can our local environment, our society, our cities, our provinces and our nations, come to be a true Paradise on the earth. The Holy Qur’an has instructed that if a person is a true Muslim then it requires that from his every act and deed it should be evident that he teaches righteous acts and always strives to prevent others from sin and evil. The foundation for all righteous deeds has also been taught to us and that is that in every act and at all times, a person must display truth and honesty. A person who departs from honesty does not have complete faith because it proves that his faith lies not with God, but elsewhere.
The standards of truth given by Islam are that your every word should be straightforward and accurate. It is only through the right word that confidence and trust can develop. It is trust that is a means for guaranteeing peace. If this golden principle is followed at every level then a spirit of peace and harmony will spread throughout all of society, from our domestic family units, to the wider world, and indeed, in terms of the relations between nations. We find that today the situation of the world is extremely grave, whereby there is strife and disorder in all parts of the world, and a lack of peace. The root cause of all of this is that mutual trust and confidence do not exist, due to a lack of honesty and integrity.
Governments make deals or pass laws that on the surface say one thing, but at an underhand level, they have already made their own deals, which are against the spirit of truth. Thus, Islam teaches that all deals and treaties should be made openly and without any form of ambiguity.
The thought process underpinning agreements should not be a hope to get the upper hand or to derive greater benefit than the other party. Instead, the focus and ambition should be to achieve mutual benefit and equity. Sometimes, I become worried that the lack of trust and lack of honesty that we find in many countries will lead us to a grave and devastating war. When man does not fulfil the rights of others but tries to usurp them, then it is natural that the Divine Decree will take its hold. The end result is restlessness and a lack of contentment, and indeed, wars come to pass.
We are all aware that in the past few years there has been a global financial crisis that has caused widespread pain and torment. Apart from this, in certain countries, severe internal disorder has occurred, whereby the people and their governments are fighting against each other. Similarly, we also find that some nations are displaying hostilities and malice towards other countries. It is my opinion that this tragic state of affairs is all due to a lack of trust and a lack of truth, which in turn is leading to a lack of justice. If we analyse the financial crisis of the past few years, we find that on the one hand, millions of people in many countries have been laid off from their jobs or have become bankrupt and lost their properties due to being unable to pay off bank loans. However, on the other hand, we find that there has been little or no difference to the huge bonuses, profits or salaries of the top bankers and businessmen. Many of them have been able to walk away with millions of dollars without anyone questioning them or calling them to account. Such cases have been reported in the media and so are increasing distrust amongst the general public, which in turn is leading to restlessness.
In a similar vein, we find that many businesses are based on falsehood and inequity. Such organisations are run in a way that seek to take advantage of the vulnerable segments of society by luring them with great attractions, and so are making fools of them and proving them to be senseless. For example, if somebody wishes to sell something today, he will place huge signs or billboards on the streets in an effort to lure other people towards items that they cannot really afford. In the same way, television and other media are also being used to exploit innocent people by hugely inflating and exaggerating market prices.
If we ponder over this, then we will realise that behind this effort to make money is a lack of truth, whereby people are being taken advantage of and their feelings and desires are being exploited. In terms of trade, the teachings of Islam are very clear. Islam teaches that under no circumstances should a person be charged even one-cent more than the real value. If we look at the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) we find countless examples of their integrity and honesty.
For example, once a man from a village went to the city to sell his horse and sought 200 dirhams for it, the currency at the time being used, which is only being used nowadays in some Arab countries. However, the purchaser said that because it was a fine and very special horse, the real price ought to be 500 dirhams or more. Thus, the argument was that the seller wanted less money, whilst the purchaser wanted to pay more! The quarrel was based not on a desire to protect their own rights, but in an effort to protect the rights of the other party and to maintain true justice. This is the way to develop true trust and confidence, which in turn becomes a guarantor for peace and justice to develop within society.
Another point taught by Islam is that you must use your own wealth to help those in need and those who are deprived. It teaches that a person should strive to fulfil the rights and needs of such people. A true spirit of sacrifice is required for a peaceful society to develop. Thus, it should not be that you help the poor and needy only out of the extra resources you have, but rather, you should be willing to inflict hardship upon yourself in an effort to help your brothers and sisters, and fulfil their rights. Do not only help those countries, which according to your own treaties and deals, you are obliged to help, so that you can acquire certain benefits for yourself in return; but instead, you should search for those who are truly deprived and from whom you can seek no personal benefit or fulfil any vested interest. Fulfil the rights of the needy, as that is the means to develop real trust and confidence. Most importantly, it removes anxieties and frustrations and as a result, peace in society is developed.
Canada is one of those countries that seeks to help the poor and destitute parts of the world with a truly open heart and generous spirit. It has set up various humanitarian projects in an effort towards this. It is my prayer that this help and aid will always reach those who are truly deserving of it, and who are truly in need. I pray that Canada becomes a true beacon and example for others to follow in terms of developing peace, not just in your province, not just in your country, but in fact, throughout the world. I also pray that you become a model of establishing honesty and integrity for the entire world to follow.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, throughout the world, and in particular in poor countries, has set up many humanitarian projects in an effort to serve mankind. Of course, we work within our own resources, which are limited and small. However, we have still been able to establish hundreds of schools and many hospitals in remote parts of the world. We are also providing water and electricity in the most remote villages and towns.
We have also set up a scheme to build ‘model villages’ which have various facilities, including solar energy, electricity, streetlights, paved streets and community centres. The model villages also provide drinking water on the doorsteps of the local people, where previously young children had to travel for miles to get any basic supply or a bucket of water. Thus, apart from propagating the message of God Almighty, we are providing humanitarian services completely irrespective of religion or background.
We seek no praise or benefit, we seek only to serve mankind and so please Allah the Almighty. May God enable mankind to come together to fulfil each other’s mutual rights so that the world can become a true haven of peace and harmony.
At the end, I would like to once again thank the Honourable Premier and all of the distinguished guests. Thank you very much. Thank you.”