Maulvi Abdul Wahab
The Review of Religions, December 1991
Towards the close of the eighteenth century, many social and economic systems had emerged on the world scene laying claim to abolish want and poverty and to establish just and fair social and economic order for mankind.
These rival systems, Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, Communism, National Socialism and International Socialism, vied with each other for supremacy in a world of political chaos, economic imbalances and social injustices born out of the yoke imposed on the weak and helpless nations of the world by such oppressive systems as Imperialism, Colonialism and Apartheid.
These system whether well or ill-founded, attracted support in many lands and soon got so entrenched that it was easy to conceive that they would, like an avalanche, sweep across the entire face of the earth. But no. The fall of the Berlin Wall bore a message, loud and clear, that just and equitable social orders originate from the sure and unfailing guidance of the Almighty, not from the figment of man’s imagination.
Thus, throughout man’s history, from Adam through Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ, to mention but a few, and culminating in the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, on all of whom be peace, Allah has, out of his grace, furnished man with such guidance as has ensured for him physical, mental, social, moral and spiritual development. Such an Elect of God it is who inaugurates New Social Order for mankind.
True, owing to the fact that religions before Islam were tribal and national and also because the teachings of these religions could not be preserved intact, certain teachings are ascribed to them which are plainly unjust and discriminatory and tend to afford relief to individual tribes and nations to the detriment of all other tribes and nations.
That is how such teachings in Judaism and Christianity that favour the Jews to the detriment of the Gentiles can be explained. So is to be understood the Hindu caste system which favours the Brahmins and oppresses the untouchables.
The fact still remains that the verbal revelation of Allah vouchsafed to the Holy Prophet of Islam, on whom be peace, which is universal in character, succeeded over 1400 years ago, in establishing, through persuasion and peaceful means, a New Economic and Social Order the equal of which had not been witnessed in man’s history.
The promise of Islamic rebirth, according to prophecies, centered around the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, on whom be peace.
In a revelation vouchsafed to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the long awaited Promised Messiah and Mahdi, he was to create a New Earth and a New Heaven. In his book Aina Kamaalaat-e-Islam, the Promised Messiah himself has explained that it is apparent that by New Heaven and New Earth is not meant the creation of the solar system but rather the spiritual heaven and earth created through a prophet. In other words, the thorough and drastic mental, social, moral and spiritual transformation that the Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, was destined to bring about in the world.
First, it needs to be pointed out that systems such as Bolshevism and others to which I have made reference ended in utter failure because they were founded on hatred not love, on violence not peace and on coercion not persuasion.
They stifled individual effort, killed personal initiative and gave no recognition to intellectual pursuits. Besides, they were exploitative in that they had as their objective the interest only of their nations at the exclusion of all others.
Even more important is the fact that they attached no value to the moral and spiritual aspirations of the individual.
Predicting the fall of these systems as far back as 1942 at a time when they had gained great acceptability, Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II, uttered these prophetic words:
…. The newer generations will begin to rebel against the system of dead uniformity which Bolshevism seeks to impose and all sorts of evils will begin to manifest themselves. (Ahmadiyyat or the True Islam)
Recent events in Eastern Europe bear testimony to the truth of those prophetic words.
Capitalism, Colonialism, Imperialism and Apartheid were no better.
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, had condemned them as evil, on the basis of Islamic teachings, and many other theories which were in vogue towards the end of the eighteenth century. These included the theory of might is right according to which only the strong and the able are entitled to forge ahead, the majority has authority which implied that the minority should have no voice but instead should be ruthlessly suppressed and crushed.
The other theory was that which has no owner belongs to the first finder. By this theory, the weak and helpless nations of the world which were supposedly discovered by strong and developed nations were, of right, appropriated by their discoverers and subjected to untold brutalities, injustices and oppression.
Apart from the above theories which spelt doom for the weak and the helpless, there were instances of callous state negligence of the poor and the needy of the society, the promotion of systems that permitted the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the squandering of large portions of national wealth on non beneficial and even utterly useless pursuits.
Economic statistics reveal that in 1989, the world had 157 billionaires and two million millionaires.
In the United States of America alone, 5 Billion Dollars is spent every year on special diets for slimming while some 400 million people the world over go starving!
The distinctions between the have’s and the have not’s have become so wide and emphatic that they make for sharp contrast, resentment and bitterness.
There is no gainsaying in the fact, therefore, that the existing economic systems of the world have woefully failed mankind.
In fact a statement has been attributed to President Mikail Gorbachev which is very significant and it is this that neither socialism nor capitalism has succeeded in solving the world’s economic problems.
In contrast to these, Islam sets out just teachings for the attainment of humane world economic and social order.
It may be argued that in their present state of near disintegration, how can Muslims succeed in establishing such a world order?
In fact, in the January 1975 issue of the Muslim World League< of Mecca, the journal editorially posed this question:
How can the Muslims who are scattered masses over the globe, distributed among sects, schools of thought and lost in egotism and belonging to numerous countries, languages, habits, interests and alignments be brought into one unit under the leadership of Khalifatul Muslimeen?
The Editorial went further to request the readers of the journal, especially the thinkers of the Muslim world, to convey to the Editor their considered views on this very important subject.
Such is the despondency that has crept into the Muslim world in its ability to put its own house in order, let alone establish a new economic and social order for the whole of mankind!
The Holy Quran is emphatic in its promise to Muslims of spiritual leadership in the form of Khilafat which will continuously guarantee for mankind all the prerequisites of social, moral and spiritual growth (24:56).
The fact that the spiritual institution of Khilafat is to be met with only among Ahmadi Muslims is, in itself, testimony enough that it is Ahmadiyyat which is destined to bring about the New World Order that will usher the world in an era of peace and prosperity born out of fair, just and equitable distribution of wealth, equality before Allah of the entire human race, and a genuine respect for all the basic freedoms and fundamental human rights.
Since the Khalifah, who himself is elected, should seek to guide himself by the advice of the representatives of the nation, the system makes available to the nation the collective wisdom of the nation as well as the judgement of the highest intellect.
In the early days of Islam, through the system introduced by the Holy Prophet, under divine guidance, the needs of the poor were fully met.
Wide distribution of wealth through the Islamic system of inheritance and the prohibition of the hoarding of money, as well as the forbidding of lending of money on interest, both of which result in the accumulation of wealth in fewer hands, Islam addressed the question of unjust social and economic order. These were supplemented by the principle of compulsory levies under the institution of Zakat and encouragement of voluntary contributions for the relief of the poor and the needy.
During the time of the Successors of the Holy Prophet of Islam, on whom be peace, when the Islamic State had become much more expansive, more organized institutions were set up, based on Quranic teachings, to fulfill the economic and social objectives of the Islamic State.
Regular census was taken, records were maintained of the entire populace and the necessities of life were provided for everybody according to fixed scales. In fact, every child in Islamic State from the day of its birth was entitled to allowances from the State Treasury.
Everybody, rich or poor, was adequately provided for by such means as were in accord with the circumstances of the time.
So it would be seen that the principle of providing for each individual was first introduced in Islam, not by any other ism.
The beauty of Islamic teachings lies in the elasticity in their application. It goes without saying that only that teaching can be successful which is able to satisfy the contingencies arising in each succeeding age.
According to the injunction contained in Chapter 2:196 of the Holy Quran, in addition to compulsory taxes, voluntary contributions were not fixed but rather left to the Khalifah to fix it in accordance with the requirement of the time.
Today when human life and society have become very complex, it stands to reason that there should be devised a system based on the Holy Quran which would fully meet the economic and social aspirations of mankind.
It also stands to reason that someone should be raised by God who would, in our time, establish a system under divine guidance, to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical relief and means of education for all and yet safeguard from intellectual degeneration, tyranny and the exploitation of the weak by the strong. In other words, a New World Order which should secure peace and goodwill between nations and all classes of people and also succeed in finding resources to fulfill the needs of all individuals.
So in 1905, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam laid in Al-Wasiyyat (The Will) under divine command, the foundation of the New World Order of Ahmadiyyat.
Earlier, he had, in the 10 Conditions of Initiation into his Community, made imperative for his followers belief in the One Supreme Being and sympathy for mankind. He said:
I have come with only two objects first, you should firmly believe in the Oneness of God and second, you should inculcate mutual love and sympathy. (Pronouncements of the Promised Messiah, Vol. II, p. 54)
It is apparent that belief in God, if it is genuine and sincere, would remove all prejudices and generate sympathy and goodwill for God’s creatures.
In this connection, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV, is reported to have said:
The Jamaat Ahmadiyya is not and cannot be persuaded by any national prejudice in expressing an opinion because our hearts have been straightened by “Tawheed” i.e. belief in the Unity of God. (The `Al-Fazl‘, March 14, 1991)
It may not be out of place to quote Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II, to reinforce the universal character of Ahmadiyyat. Addressing Alhaji Hassan Attah at a function organized in his honour at Rabwah in 1951, he declared:
If you (Africans) do not have sufficient intelligence or in other words, are an inferior race, then God forbid, it is the fault of God who sent a prophet to a people who have no intelligence to accept Him. But this is not the case. Islam says Europeans, Americans, Asians, Africans and people in far off islands are all equal. All of them have the same power of understanding, learning, memorizing and inventing…….As far as Ahmadiyyat goes, I assure you that we – and when I say we, I mean myself and all Ahmadis who follow me consider all the people on earth as equals.
He then referred to doctrines of racial superiority and gave this assurance:
Just as the Holy Prophet said that he would crush such ideas under his heels, I also assure you that I will also crush such ideas under my heels. (Appendix to the History of Ahmadiyyat, Vol., page 2)
He also has declared elsewhere:
So long as people do not realize in accordance with Islamic teachings that all mankind are one people … it will be impossible to establish peace ….A nation that treats another nation with contempt initiates an unending circle of tyranny and oppression.
(Ahmadiyyat or the True Islam, p. 360)
It should be carefully borne in mind that we, the Ahmadis, bear enmity to no one: We desire the good and welfare for all. Even for our worst enemies we have not the slightest vestige of ill feeling in any corner. Our only desire is that there should be peace in the world, with fine moral qualities prevailing elsewhere, consolidated with spiritual strength and discipline, that the law holding sway over the universe should be the law of God and His Apostle.
(The Economic Structure of Islamic Society, p. 136)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III had compressed all this in a motto he gave to the world of Ahmadiyyat:
Love for all, hatred for none.
He had also exhorted members of the Ahmadiyya Community to bear in mind that none of them should under any circumstances go to bed filled while his neighbour sleeps on an empty stomach.
This, then, is the type of society the Ahmadiyya Community is commissioned by Allah to create on earth.
In establishing such a society, violence and coercion would be eschewed.
After severely condemning as unIslamic the then prevalent belief by Muslims of a bloody Messiah, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community declared:
Every conscientious person will readily admit that before a man adequately realizes the truth of a faith, and before he has comprehended its wholesome teachings, it is extremely undesirable to coerce him, on pain of death, to adopt that faith.
(Jesus in India, p. 12)
In this Testament, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad had prayed:
I pray to God that Ahmadis may lay the foundation of justice and mercy not of injustice and evil and that angels may stand guard on their right and on their left……May no man, however mighty, do evil to any other man. (The Testament of our beloved Imam, p. 15)
Having briefly stated the cardinal principles by which Ahmadis are to be guided, I now revert to the economic and social order inaugurated by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, in accordance with the Holy Quran:
And spend in the way of Allah and do not expose yourself to destruction with your own hands and do good to others. Surely Allah loves the doers of good. (2:195)
The verse exhorts Muslims that in addition to compulsory taxes, they must make voluntary contribution towards the relief of the poor and must not fail in this duty else they will provide for their destruction with their own hands.
But significantly, in the verse, no definite rules were laid down in respect of the rate of the contributions. Muslims had only been warned that in addition to zakat they would be called upon to pay other taxes and make other contributions but the quantum of the taxes and the form they were to take were not prescribed.
The Khalifa had been left free to prescribe the quantum of the taxes in accordance with the requirements of the time.
The Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, who had been commissioned by God to interpret the Islamic teachings according to the needs of the present age, therefore, announced in his scheme Al-Wasiyyat, under divine command, that those who desired to win Allah’s pleasure and His paradise should pledge 1/10th to 1/3rd of their properties, belongings and also incomes for the purpose of the propagation of the teachings of the Quran. (Al-Wasiyyat Condition No. 2)
That propagation of the teachings of the Quran had a much wider application can be seen from the fact that the Promised Messiah also announced:
These funds will also be devoted to securing the welfare of orphans and the needy who do not possess adequate means of subsistence. (Ibid.)
He also stipulated that:
It will be permissible for Anjuman i.e. the Association administering these funds, to increase funds through commercial investments.
He went further to say that the task of each believer is that he or she should participate in the scheme.
One can imagine the enormous funds that would be made available for the relief of the poverty as the system expands with expansion of the Ahmadiyya Community throughout the world.
Having laid down these broad principles he indicated that a detailed exposition of the system was premature at the time and that somebody else would go into its detailed exposition when the time comes.
It is apparent the Promised Messiah had by the scheme announced in Al-Wasiyyat, inaugurated the Islamic social and economic system under which it was directed that food, clothing, shelter, medical relief and means of education was to be provided for every human being.
It is to be borne in mind that in strict accord with Islamic teachings in trying to achieve these lofty objectives, the incentive behind individual effort and enterprise was not to be weakened. Besides, it was to be voluntary and was not to involve forcible dispossession or confiscation of property.
It is also important to note that while other systems were keen to satisfy only the interests of individual nations, the system inaugurated by the Promised Messiah was universal, and not confined to England, Russia, China, Japan, Ghana or any other particular country.
The funds collected were not to be spent in any one country, but were to be devoted for the relief of poverty and distress everywhere. Should any doubt be entertained that being a small Community, how can the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community accomplish the colossal task of providing for the relief of poverty all over the world, the answer is that it is our firm belief that the spread of the Ahmadiyya Community has been decreed by God.
Heaven and earth may pass away but not the decree of the Almighty!
The Promised Messiah, categorically declared in Al-Wasiyyat:
Do not think that this is all fancy. This is the decree of the Almighty, the Ruler of the earth and the heavens. I am not worried over how all this property will be collected and how a Community will grow to accomplish all this in the strength of faith. What I do worry about is lest, after our time, those who are put in charge of these funds should be tempted by the volume of the funds and should yield to temptation and incline towards the world. So I pray that God may continue to provide this Community with honest and faithful workers who should work for the sake of God.
The above declaration of the Promised Messiah, clearly shows that he did not for a moment entertain an iota of doubt that the Community would grow and the needed resources would be made available for the task of providing the needs of everybody. He was certain that the funds would come. His only worry was that people should not be tempted by the volume of the funds to use them for purposes for which they were not meant!
From what has been said, it is quite clear that the scheme announced in Al-Wasiyyat required time to mature since it was tied down to the spread of Ahmadiyyat to the greater part of the world.
For this reason that the second successor to the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, was inspired by God to introduce the Tahrik-i-Jadid scheme which requires that each member of the Community should contribute one annually 1/5th of one month’s income toward the lofty ideals of the Community. He said:
Though the `Tahrik-i-Jadid’ had in point of time, been inaugurated after `Al-Wasiyyat’ it is, in effect, its fore-runner …. Every person who participates in the `Tahrik-i-Jadid’, helps to foster the system of `Al-Wasiyyat’ and every person who does this, helps in the establishment of the New World Order.I assure you that the New World Order will not be inaugurated by Mr. Churchill or Mr. Roosevelt. Declarations like the Atlantic Charter will accomplish nothing. They are full of shortcomings. New Orders are always established in the world by Prophets raised for this purpose by God. They have no bitterness against the rich and no bias for the poor. They are neither of the East nor of the West. They are the Messengers of God and proclaim the teachings which furnish the foundations of true peace. Today also peace will be establish only through the teachings of the Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, the foundations of which were laid in `Al-Wasiyyat‘ in 1905.
Under this system, not by means of compulsion or coercion, but out of real affection and goodwill, a brother will be eager to help his brother. Nor will such sacrifice be in vain. Every giver will be recompensed many times over by God. The rich will not suffer loss nor will the poor suffer privation.
Nation will not fight nation, nor will class contend against class.
The world seeks a New Order by destroying religion. Through Tahrik-i- Jadid and Al-Wasiyyat, you will construct a much better New Order while preserving the integrity of religion.
To those who have already made their will, I offer my congratulations and pray that those who have not may be enabled by God to do so, so that they may also gather for themselves blessings, material as well as spiritual.
He also prayed that through this scheme the world may be filled with the
refulgence of true knowledge which abolishes pain and misery and makes it possible for the rich and the poor and the high and the low to live together in affection and goodwill.
And our last words are: All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.