Back from his European tour, Hudhur delivered his Friday Sermon from Baitul Futuh today.
Hudhur said the Tabshir department had been planning a trip of Western African countries for Hudhur. However, earlier this year it came to light that the internal political situation of the region was not conducive to a trip and the plan was cancelled. There was no plan to visit any other country after this cancellation. When Hudhur was informed about the dates of Jalsa Salana in Spain he wished to visit the country and also considered visiting Italy. When the Swiss Jama’at came to know of this, they requested Hudhur that as he would be in the neighbouring countries could he visit them as well.
Thus these visits came to pass without any planning and with the grace of God were extremely blessed. While Hudhur’s visits were a source of enhancing the faith of people of the Jama’ats he went to, Hudhur felt they were the same for him and he had a heightened perception of wisdom in all that God wills.
Hudhur said although a programme to visit Spain had been made, he had not informed the Spanish Jama’at that he would attend their Jalsa and their Ameer sahib requested that owing to Hudhur’s visit should they move the Jalsa forward. This is when Hudhur explained to them that he was aware of the Jalsa dates and that is why he chose the particular time to visit. Hudhur said he was relating all this to specify the spontaneity of the plan.
Hudhur said the first stay of the tour was in France. Many from Algerian and Moroccan backgrounds as well as people from old French colonies are been drawn to the Jama’at here and are taking their bai’ats. With the grace of God they are integrating and active in the Jama’at and many are part of the national amila. While Hudhur was there a few bai’ats took place amidst extremely emotional conditions. When Hudhur spoke with them, all they asked was that prayers be made for the strengthening of their faith. Hudhur said their eyes and their gestures conveyed their deep sincerity and connection with Khilafat and it is most difficult to express that in words. Hudhur said we may have read about it in reports but in Hudhur’s view it is difficult to express the sincerity of the new converts in words. Hudhur also said that in whichever country he went Arab-speaking Ahmadis told him that they had heard the message of Ahmadiyyat via MTA Al Arabia. They had prayed after listening to the message and God guided them. Some of them were guided by God through dreams in which they either saw the blessed face of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) or one of his Khulafa. The Arab Ahmadis would pray for every single Ahmadi presenter on MTA Al Arabia by name, especially those who participate in the Question and Answer sessions. Hudhur prayed that may God reward those who spend night and day in broadcasting the message of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and may He enhance their faith as well as those who work on the other channels of MTA, those who stay behind the scenes but render extraordinary services.
Hudhur said two days in France were spent as if in the blinking of the eye. Hudhur arrived in Pedro Abad, Spain after travelling for two days. Here, quite a few Ahmadis from Portugal and Morocco have settled. Portugal is still under the Jama’at of Spain but following Hudhur’s visit a missionary sahib has now arrived there. They are trying to seek land to build a mosque there, may God enable them to achieve this soon as this helps greatly in taking care of the new converts and further Tabligh. The Sadr sahib from Morocco had also come there. Morocco was also under the Spanish Jama’at but now they are progressing. Many Arab-speaking people took their bai’at and guests in general had a very good impression of the Jalsa in Spain. During his last Spanish visit Hudhur had drawn attention to building a mosque in Valencia. A property was soon purchased and used as a mission house but the local authorities restricted the building of a mosque. Now, the situation seems to be improving in this regard and on this hope Hudhur has laid the foundation stone for a mosque. Hudhur said we should pray that may God remove any impediment in the bureaucracy. Hudhur said Valencia is a beautiful region and here Muslims adhered to their faith three to four hundred years after Islamic governance in Europe. May God bring it in the embrace of Islam once again. Hudhur said his ten to twelve days stay in Spain was quite busy. They reached their next stop, Italy, after travelling for three days.
Here too God’s grace was experienced. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) had sent a missionary, Malik Sharif sahib, to Rome in Italy in 1937 and he did some successful Tabligh there. When WWII broke out Malik sahib spent time in a POW camp. Later, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) sent Ibrahim Khalil sahib and Maulwi Muhammad Usman sahib to Italy and appointed Malik sahib the Ameer. Malik sahib sent the duo to Sicily. After some difficulties as well as some faith-inspiring successes, the mission closed down in Italy. Malik Sharif sahib continued his work in Italy till 1955 by arranging his own means of livelihood but Ahmadiyyat did not remain established. Now some Pakistani as well as some Ghanaian Ahmadis have settled here as well as some extremely devoted Arabs. Hudhur said as he had explained in his Friday Sermon, the Jama’at here is being enabled to build a mosque. The local mayor and councillors are very supportive, may God reward them for this. Here too a few bai’ats took place. At a reception the local mayor as well as dignitaries from neighbouring areas expressed their support and Hudhur informed them about the beautiful teachings of Islam in light of the Holy Qur’an and drew their attention to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). At the reception Hudhur also cited the initial protest regarding our centre and then with God’s grace, the mayor’s support as well as the architect’s who is doing renovating work for us.
Hudhur said next was the trip to Switzerland. Before leaving London, Hudhur had come to know about the current Turin Shroud Exhibition. The sadr sahib asked if Hudhur wished to see it and Hudhur readily agreed. Sadr sahib spoke to the Church officials who were happy to arrange for Hudhur to visit. On the way to Switzerland, Hudhur’s cavalcade stopped at Turin. Hudhur said he believes this arrangement was through God. Mir Mahmood sahib had informed Hudhur beforehand about this exhibition and had suggested to send a scholar to view it so that he could be witness to it. However, God facilitated Hudhur himself to view the exhibition. Upon reaching the exhibition Hudhur was greeted by the director of the exhibition and they went in through a special entrance. Although photography is not allowed but when Hudhur asked they allowed photographs to be taken without the use of flash. Initially images of the shroud were shown on a large screen with explanation about all the various images. It was also explained that the location of the shroud can be traced back to the fourteenth century but some facts also point to where the shroud was kept dating back to the fifth century. The exact measurements of the cloth of the shroud were given and the director of the exhibition said that the image on the shroud is that of a very pious person and on deliberation we find that it is the image of Jesus (on whom be peace). The first ever photograph taken of the shroud was by Seconda Pia in 1898 in which a positive image could be seen through the negative.
Next the director took Hudhur to the Church where the relic is exhibited [on the alter] in a large glass case which is filled with certain gases to conserve the cloth. The public viewing was discontinued while Hudhur’s entourage viewed the glass case from the nearest aisle and some photographs were taken. Hudhur said had we sent someone else to view the shroud they may not have had such a chance to observe. The exhibition brochure read that the pollens found on the shroud indicate that the cloth originates from Palestine and the Middle East and that it is the burial cloth of Jesus (on whom be peace).
Hudhur said prior to 1898 when its photograph was taken the cloth was considered sacred, but after the photographic image it was considered the burial cloth of Jesus (on whom be peace). The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote his book Jesus in India in 1899 in which he cites Jesus escaping death on the Cross and gives a detailed account. Up till that time perhaps nothing was available about the burial cloth in English language therefore the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has not mentioned it. However it was during his lifetime that God had facilitated further evidence about Jesus (on whom be peace) escaping death on the Cross.
Next the director took Hudhur to the Cathedral and onto the library. In the library Hudhur was introduced to their resident expert on Islamic knowledge. Hudhur was greeted most courteously and conversation ensued. Hudhur told them the visit was spontaneously planned when Hudhur came to know of the exhibition. He told them that we definitely consider this cloth to belong to Jesus (on whom be peace), however, our viewpoint differs to theirs in that we believe when the Jews wanted to crucify Jesus (on whom be peace) God saved him and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has proved that Jesus (on whom be peace) survived the Cross and this cloth is not a testimony of his death rather it is a testimony of his staying alive, escaping death on the Cross, therefore it is a blessed cloth. Hudhur was asked if he too considered that Jesus (on whom be peace) had passed away in Kashmir. Hudhur explained that it was indeed the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who had proved this. Hudhur told them he considered it his good fortune that he could see the burial cloth. They mentioned the suffering of Jesus (on whom be peace) and Hudhur told them that Prophets of God endure much hardship, in this age the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) too endured suffering. They enquired about the Jama’at and wanted to know why we maintained connections with other religions and believed in dialogue. Hudhur explained that we believe there is no compulsion in religion, God has sent His teaching and it is our task to take its message to others. Besides, in light of human values we respect people of all religions and communicate with them.
Hudhur said the current exhibition has taken place after ten years and God had connected Hudhur’s trip to it. The Pope is visiting the exhibition on 2 May but God enabled Hudhur to see it beforehand. During conversation Hudhur mentioned that the Christian world is progressing in worldly terms and this is due to the suffering of Jesus (on whom be peace) and due to God’s promises and that it was Hudhur’s prayer that may they understand the real message of Jesus (on whom be peace) and spread it. During his visit of the library Hudhur offered if they would accept five volume translation and commentary of the Qur’an in English as well as a detailed Arabic translation done by Momin Tahir sahib for the library and they replied in the affirmative. Hudhur said thus we had the opportunity to introduce Islam and Jama’at during this educational visit. He prayed that may the Christian world accept that the Turin Shroud is in fact a proof of a miraculous sign of Jesus (on whom be peace) escaping death on the Cross.
Hudhur said in Rabwah research is being carried out under the supervision of Mir Mahmood sahib on the ointment used by Jesus (on whom be peace) at the time of crucifixion. The research has proved that its usage under certain temperature and conditions can produce images on cloth, they experimented this on a boy. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) had said that chemical reactions also cause images to occur on cloth.
Hudhur said a Christian scholar Norma Weller had written most favourably about the research of Mir Mahmood sahib’s team. He said in order to prove the truth of Islam God makes Christians articulate matters which support our beliefs. The research is being carried out to furnish further facts to the world, as for our belief, it is definite that Jesus died a natural death. Hudhur said currently there is yet another drive to disqualify the burial cloth as a fake because the images on it prove that Jesus (on whom be peace) was alive and that is not acceptable to the Christian world. In fact now Muslims too have put a restriction on viewing the grave of Hadhrat Isa (on whom be peace) in Kashmir, perhaps a link in a wider conspiracy. If only the Muslims would prove the superiority of Islam through what is in their hands.
Next Hudhur read a few extracts from the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) on the ointment of Jesus and his journey to India. About his book ‘Jesus in India’ the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that he would prove in the book that neither Jesus (on whom be peace) died on the Cross, nor was he raised bodily to the heavens. In fact, he reached the old age of 120 years and passed away in Sri Nagar, India. He first proves this through Biblical proves, then with reference to Qur’an and Hadith, then medical testimonies regarding the properties of the ointment and finally through historical testimonies. He said that it is not possible that any person, regardless of his belief, who read the book from cover to cover, would not be inclined that the concept that Jesus (on whom be peace) was raised to the heavens as idle and false.
Hudhur said he met with a very level-headed young Italian man in Switzerland who has translated some of our literature in Italian and is currently translating ‘Jesus in India’ in Italian. May God increase his knowledge and insight.
After Jummah Hudhur left Switzerland for France, here he stayed at Strasbourg. This is the centre of European parliament and we have about two hundred Ahmadis residing here. Hudhur said the delightful aspect of this is that 70% of them are non-Pakistani Ahmadis and are most sincere. Two bai’ats took place here, Hudhur met with some local personalities and also met with the representative of the Archbishop. Hudhur said he was a most decent person who has lived in some Arab countries. He said to Hudhur that the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam share one common belief that there is One God. Hudhur told him if that is what he believes it is very good. The Qur’an informs us:’…‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you…’ (3:65). Hudhur said he was amazed that he mentioned One God. He also told Hudhur that he often listens to Hudhur’s sermons on MTA. Hudhur said majority of the Ahmadis in Strasburg are Arabic-speakers and many had been informed through dreams that Hudhur was passing by the area. Ameer sahib France wrote to Hudhur that when Hudhur was travelling to Spain from France on 29 March, he received a bai’at form in the post from a French national lady of Moroccan origin. She wrote that she watched MTA regularly and had dreamed that an Ahmadi cavalcade passes here and she joins them. Ameer sahib asked her where she lived in response she named the exact area from where Hudhur had passed en route Spain, that was the very day she had filled her bai’at form.
Hudhur said although this trip was planned spontaneously, yet it received many blessings of God and many bai’ats took place. May God enhance the faith of new Ahmadis and may we always experience progress of our Jama’at. This grace of God is in support of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and in accordance to Divine promises made to him and it strengthens our faith. May God always bestow His grace on us.