Saturday, September 10, 2011

Practice truth in all aspects of your life

Sermon Delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Truthfulness is a quality that is not only promoted by those who are religious; rather it is universally endorsed by both the religious and the irreligious. Yet, the due of expressing truth is not fulfilled. Wherever the opportunity arises, falsity is used for personal gain. Thus, from individual to international level, truthfulness is negated with the same intensity with which it is verbally promoted. A large majority of people use falsehood in business. In social as well as political matters, be they national or international, truth is trampled over.

Those with ulterior motives even use religion, which propagates truth, to try and destroy it. Some are of the opinion and belief that one should use so much falsehood that truth becomes falsehood and what is false becomes truth. This audacity and brazenness tramples over truth at every level because belief in God is on the wane. Disagreements and acrimony in family life stems from lack of use of truth and when children observe parents using falsehood, they too indulge in it. The falsehood of family life incites them to other ills and some families ruin their children in the process. Unfortunately, falsity in business matters is very common in Muslim countries. The louder they scream ‘truth’, the greater is their negation of it. God and His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) advised and forcefully instructed to speak the truth; but falsehood is adopted with equal measure. Recently a disgruntled [Pakistani] politician spoke up about the situation in Karachi and Sindh and gave a few inside details. Reviewers opined that it is not for a politician to speak the truth and that the person had lost his mind. They said he had put his political life on the line by speaking the truth, which only an insane person would do. According to them, truth can be a source of one’s decline and for them politics and power overrides the Word of God. Yet, they are bona fide Muslims and Ahmadis, who put their businesses and their very lives on the line for the truth, are non-Muslims. This is because they worship the One God Who has declared falsehood as shirk (associating partners with Allah) and they believe in that Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who said falsehood is the root of all evils.

In international politics, Muslim and non-Muslim countries both perpetrate falsehood. In the West, there is some truth in internal dealing. However, their stance alters as far as countries of other regions are concerned. This was demonstrated by the Iraq war. Iraq was destroyed and devastated in order to depose Saddam Hussein. Once the Iraqi natural resources were under their control, it was said that a mistake had been made. That the information they had received about WMDs and persecution of his people were exaggerated. Libya was targeted and now it is being said that the persecution there was not as intense as first reported. First, they employ false propaganda and later use their own media to say that they were mistaken. This ‘truth’ is also used to conceal falsehood. They gain control of natural resources of countries and it is the Muslims who provide them with the opportunity to do so. In short, falsehood is used on an international level not only to conceal the truth but to shred it to pieces by all governments. They assume they will get away with it. They will perhaps not be held accountable in this world. But there is a Hereafter where accountability will take place.

We observe so-called caretakers of religion dismiss truth and promote falsehood. Anti-Islamic powers as well as the opponents of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet, who are also playing a role against Islam, perpetrate this. They are aware of truth but use falsehood for personal gains. Many read up our Jama’at literature and books of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and use the material in their discourses. Today, there is no other source to silence the enemies of Islam. Only the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has written expositions in defence of Islam which cannot be dismissed. However, they deceive the masses, telling them that God forbid, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is a liar. They have copies of Tafseer e Kabeer and other volumes in their homes. These are not there to prepare refutations of, rather, they confess that they use material taken from them in their discourses. These people have no interest in proving the superiority of Islam and that is why they do not inform the masses of the truthful ways. They fear losing their pulpits.

Those who come from God are always treated in this manner by worldly people. However, God’s decree also comes into operation and is always dominant. When falsehood and disorder reaches its height and truth all but vanishes, God sends His people to establish truth and they propagate the truth in spite of opposition. No matter how much the enemy impedes them, God’s decree comes to pass. It helps them. God has promised help and success to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and with His grace we see it being fulfilled notwithstanding the persecution meted out to the Community. A convention was held by them in Rabwah with reference to 7 September [the day marking the Pakistan National Assembly decision of 1974]. It was attended by their most eminent ‘scholars’. However nothing more than abuse of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and hostility towards the Jama’at was articulated there. Such is their condition; meanwhile God’s decree is working and the Jama’at is going from strength to strength.

If God’s decree did not come to pass and His promises were not fulfilled and those commissioned by Him did not triumph over others, then God forbid, His promises would be erroneous and belief in God would vanish from the world. These experiences take place to establish and enhance belief. Some events that have been stated in the Qur’an influence belief. Other, new events, also influence those who believe, for example the truthfulness of the founder of religion they follow. Some people are directly informed and thus guided by God about the truthfulness of those commissioned by Him. It is truth that becomes a source of getting people’s attention and later when they observe progress of faith and the practices of those who follow faith, they are further guided.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was known as al Sadiq (the truthful) and al Amin (the trustworthy). Once, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) gathered his clan at the foot of a mount and said, ‘If I tell you that a big army is in wait for you behind this hill, would you believe me?’ They all said, ‘Yes, because you have always spoken the truth.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) went on to do Tabligh to those assembled. These were worldly people. His words had no impact on the hard-hearted among them and their ending was terrible. Others accepted Islam after a while. Thus, prophets of God convince people of their message through their truthfulness. The Holy Qur’an states: ‘…I have indeed lived among you a whole lifetime before this. Will you not then understand?’ (10:17) and thus was the response of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Truthfulness is indeed a great weapon of prophets of God, all aspects of their life has luminosity of truth. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) received a revelation from God: ‘I have lived a whole life among you before this, then do you not understand? [Tadhkirah, p. 303] He later wrote that God informed him through this revelation that no opponent will ever be able to lay any blame on his life-history. He said he had almost reached the age of 65 at the time and outsiders had only ever verified the purity of his life and his truthfulness. Hudhur explained that even his opponents could not lay a finger on his character. Honesty is the highest quality of character and since they could not and did not lay a finger on his character in general, how could they say he did not speak the truth. The mullah today does utter nonsense but cannot prove anything.

Hudhur said recently he gave a discourse on incidents relating to new converts where the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was verified by people who sincerely and earnestly prayed to God for guidance. Prophets of God bring truth with them and it is truth that we have to make evident to the world. It is the task of followers of prophets of God to inform the world about this and bring it to the path of guidance. Islam is the only religion which today presents its original teaching in the form of the Holy Qur’an, which is the fountainhead of truth and guidance. Other revealed books have been interpolated. However, the majority of Muslims are themselves embroiled in wrongdoing, what way could they show to others?

Hudhur recounted a gathering where the message of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was being discussed in that it was for the entire world, for Muslims and Christians etc. when a Christian remarked, ‘you should reform the Muslims first and reform us later’. Hudhur said he responded to him accordingly at the time, however, it is a fact that Muslims require reformation and the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) took place for the purpose of their reformation as well and that is why the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) instructed to greet the Messiah even if one had to cross over glaciers to reach him. Hudhur said we Ahmadis claim to be in the Community of the true and ardent devote of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and we have to take the message of truth to the world. How can we go about it? First of all, we have to prove ourselves to be truthful as the prophets of God proved their truthfulness. We too have to demonstrate our truthfulness as it is the task of the followers of prophets of God to do so. We are commanded to practice the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and we try to do this. For this we have to adopt the quality of truthfulness, then alone will we be able to fulfil the mission of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and successfully take the message of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to the world.

Our efforts, our words will only be blessed on each and every level when we will adopt truth in every aspect of life and every moment of life. From our family life to our social circle, our truthfulness should be exemplary, then alone will our efforts be blessed and will impress others and bring them closer to Ahmadiyyat and Islam. We have to endeavour for this. If we use falsehood for trivial financial gains, our words will be ineffectual. As Hudhur has mentioned many a time before, if we give misinformation to receive benefits from the council or do not pay our rightful tax defrauding the government, when caught we disgrace the Community. How can we then prove it to the world that the Community we belong to is law-abiding and is different from the rest of the Muslims because we have taken the Bai’at of one who came for the guidance of people? We need to correct our practices otherwise, how can we prove that we are those who practice the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah? There is a great need for personal reformation. When falsehood is caught, not only does it put one in personal difficulty it also brings Islam into disrepute. Other immoral activities, youngsters keeping bad company, marital discord where police is involved, all this leaves a very bad impression. Conversely, if one lies habitually, it is also used in Jama’at matters and thus the lack of blessing spirals. It has a very detrimental effect on children. Some children write to Hudhur that their father is apparently a very honest person who also serves the Jama’at but commits wrong practices within family life and is far-removed from truth. When the matter is probed, further falsehood is used. Such people can have no effect in their Tabligh efforts. When they give such wrong impression to their own children, how can they reform the outside world?

There is a great need for each Ahmadi to think about this. We raise the slogans that Ahmadiyyat is true Islam as well as ‘love for all hatred for none’. But the first port of call for our love is our family, we have to promote truthfulness and inculcate it in our dealings with the Jama’at, then alone will it widen in scope. Otherwise our slogans will be hollow. If our family life is fraught with anxiety but we invite others to come and find the truth and rid of their disquiet. We talk of love to others but ourselves do not have good relations with our neighbours, about whom the Qur’an strongly commands goodwill. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘your co-religionist brother is your neighbour.’ Thus, if we are truthful, our mutual connections should be strong, otherwise our Tabligh will be without blessing. The Qur’an states: ‘O ye who believe! why do you say what you do not do?’ (61:3) Hudhur said this leads to lack of blessing, he said faith should not be discredited with disparity between word and deed. We have connected ourselves to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) but our connection will only be genuine when no one can point a finger of falsehood at us. Otherwise we will also be putting the truthfulness of one whom we are declaring to be truthful in doubt.

There is no doubt that the Qur’an is the truth, the teaching of Islam is truth and this teaching will last till the end and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was the last law-bearing Prophet in whom all excellences of Prophethood were fulfilled. The claim of his true and ardent devotee is also truthful and now the progress of Islam is associated with him. However, this places a great responsibility on Ahmadis for which they have to make their practices honest. If we wish to be part of the triumph of Islam which was promised to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) then we need to self-reflect and self-analyse by the minute and see how truthful we are in our family life and in our business dealings. If pondering over this makes us anxious then we need to be concerned. Triumph is in the destiny of Islam but those who do not abide by truth will not be part of this triumph. This should give us cause for concern. We should rid our practices of falsehood, because falsehood is tantamount to shirk. Ahmadis who are making sacrifices for the truth are in fact making sacrifices against shirk. In light of these sacrifices, it is the responsibility of those of us living in the West to raise the standard of our truth to such an extent that falsehood becomes extinct.

At the time of victory of Makkah, Abu Sufyan had said that had he and others been truthful, they would have been in place of the Prophet and his Companions, whom they had forced to leave Makkah in addition to all the efforts they had made to diminish them. He said just as the Prophet had always spoken the truth, his declaration that there is only One God was also the truth and remained the truth and thus Abu Sufyan accepted Islam. Such were the models of truthfulness that the world witnessed when the most hardened enemies admitted the truthfulness of the Prophet. Just as the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) made a world which was in disorder, a Godly place and his truth crushed the arrogance and falsehood of the pagans of Makkah, there are similar promises associated with the Promised Messiah(on whom be peace). He has been promised triumph of Islam but for this we are required to become Godly and truthful people. We have taken the pledge of Bai’at that we will establish truth and will eradicate falsehood and shirk. Today, it is our task to put this in practice. If we do not present a model of truthfulness, we will not be able to establish Unity/Oneness of God.

It is an immense favour of God that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) formed a Jama’at to facilitate removal of corruption from ‘land and sea’. God has given us hope to establish truth by establishing Khilafat on the precepts of Prophethood. It is now the task of each Ahmadi who considers him or herself associated/connected to the Jama’at to eradicate disorder and falsehood from families, from neighbourhoods, from cities and from the world. With the grace of God, we are the followers of that Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who came to remove all disorder and evil from the world and who was declared ‘mercy for all mankind’ by God. We should abide by his Sunnah and influence each other and vanquish the outsiders with the weapon of truth. Traditional weaponry eliminates life whereas the weapon of truth which we need to operate with our practices infuses life. Today each Ahmadi should use this weapon. May we be able to use this spiritual means to gather the pious-natured in the world who are seekers of the truth and raise high walls of truth which no satanic force can bring down. May the light of the truth of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) which is a reflection of the light of God continue to spread in the world and may the world gather under the banner of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

Next Hudhur announced that he would lead funeral Prayer in absentia of Naseem Ahmad Butt sahib shaheed of Faisalabad, Pakistan. He was born in 1957. On 4 September unknown assailants broke into his house and shot him. He held himself together after being shot and continued to counsel his wife to remain calm and patient. In the past there had been other martyrdoms in the family of shaheed. Naseem Butt sahib was 54 years old and worked in a factory. He was a man of high character and was keenly involved in Jama’at work and offered his Friday Prayers regularly in spite of being at a long distance from the mosque. He had a very sympathetic nature and helped the needy. He leaves behind a widow, three married daughters and one younger daughter and a son. He had lost one older son last year to an illness. May God elevate his station and grant steadfastness to the bereaved family.

Hudhur said in a separate incident one of our secretary amoor e am’ah in Faisalabad was fired at. He sustained four bullet wounds and is currently in hospital. His condition was critical until yesterday but with the grace of God is better today. Hudhur asked for prayer for his complete healing. In yet another separate incident in Lahore yesterday, an Ahmadi’s car was stopped and attempts were made to fire at him. Animosity against Ahmadis has intensified in Pakistan, Hudhur asked for prayers that may God keep all Ahmadis in Pakistan in His protection.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Islam and the African People

Islam and the African People
Abubakr Ben Ishmael Salahuddin - USA
Review of Religions, May/June 1997

Dedicated to the memory of Al-Hajj Dr. Muzaffar Ahmad Safar

United Nations demographic reports forecast that Muslims will constitute about half of the global birth-rate beyond the year 2055. With the fall of the Soviet Union, new regional alignments are rapidly taking place, and the place of Islam in these new arrangements is being analysed even in Western business publications. Some have even claimed that the West regards Islam as a 'threat' because its followers are globalised and, if ever united under some form of leadership, could become an invincible economic power. What is often overlooked is that the underlying philosophy of Islam is spirituality, not materiality. Nevertheless, the question of power, unfortunately, blurs the ability of many Western people to understand the value of the teachings of Islam -- not only as a religion, but also as a way of life which gives guidance in the practical affairs such as economics. Thus, their analysis of Islam is skewed and tainted because the basis of their analysis is one-dimensional and often biased and misinformed.

One such example of this is the 'traditional' (and wrong) view of the relationship of Islam to the African peoples -- specifically, the idea that Islam was 'forced' on the African people historically, or that chattel slavery was an 'Islamic' venture. While some people may wish to count Africa out of the equation of 21st century geopolitical analysis, the continent of Africa is seen by Asian and Western analysts as a potential powerhouse of the future. So the question of Africa's identity as a continent is considered important -- will Africa be Muslim, Christian; Eastern, Western; or will it revert back to its traditional 'indigenous' religions? This is a question that has troubled Western scholars for a very long time. Lothrop Stoddard -- a Harvard-based historian, expressed these very concerns in his classic book, The Rising Tide of Color, written in the early 1900's. In that book he openly expressed his fears that Islam might spread south of the Sahara and, thus, unite the entire continent of Africa -- both Arab and non-Arab -- under its wing. Certainly Africans, especially in West Africa, are to this day accepting Islam literally by the hundreds of thousands, so the question of a possible Islamic identity for Africa is very valid.

But, aside from Asians and Europeans, there is a group who themselves are also interested in the identity of Africa and the African peoples of the world: Africans themselves and the descendants of African peoples scattered around the world. Amongst them are some who deem themselves 'Afrocentrists'. Afrocentrists generally believe in various forms of racial nationalism, ranging from cultural to political. But a very unfortunate attitude has developed amongst some Afrocentric scholars: an apparent undying hatred for Islam, fueled by the misguided belief that the religion of Islam 'enslaved' African people.

Before continuing, it must be stated (and I will hope to demonstrate this in this article) that most Afrocentric scholars traditionally respect and appreciate Islam for its positive impact on the African people. But a small handful of Afrocentric scholars (such as Molefe Asante, William Chancellor, and Dr. Tosef Ben Joachannan) have bitterly maligned the religion of Islam and labeled it as something 'outside' of the African experience. And what is strange is that despite their small number, their works are somehow receiving more circulation than the majority of Afrocentric scholars who understand the importance of Islam amongst the African family of peoples.

One hesitates to criticise any of the African peoples, scholar or otherwise, because of the tremendous afflictions meted out to the African people over the centuries. But Islam is a religion of truth. And, oppressed or not, these handful of scholars must be taken to task for their distortions. For the future of Africa and the African peoples -- and indeed, the future of all countries -- should and must depend on truth.


Many Africans are becoming Muslims and benefiting from the beautiful guidance (both spiritual and temporal) of the world-wide religion of Islam. They have discovered that the charge that Islam enslaved African people is a lie. They have joined 321,000,000 of their African brothers and sisters on the continent who practice Islam that number is growing tremendously.

Unfortunately there are still some who are unaware that the charges made against Islam, by both Christians and a tiny minority of Afrocentric scholars, are baseless and mere distorted historical fabrications. They continue to allow these fabrications to deprive them of the benefits of following and practicing the religion of Islam.

This article will hopefully show that the charges of certain Afrocentrists are false. It will demonstrate that the majority of Afrocentric scholars do not agree with the few Afrocentric scholars who have lied against Islam. In fact, this article will bring to light the fact that most Afrocentric scholars have a deep appreciation for the role Islam has played in African history, and that they have not been duped by the historical untruths promulgated against Islam.

But before dealing with that, it is probably worth highlighting just a few of the benefits that Islam has to offer the African peoples - one should keep in mind that this is just a tiny drop in the ocean of the Islamic beneficence. Islam, being a global religion is beneficial to all human beings. But, since many of the Afro-peoples (especially African-Americans, the descendants of Africans brought to America as slaves) have been led to believe that Islam has somehow hurt them historically, it is particularly important that African peoples understand that they too can benefit from the religion of Islam.

I will now present below just a few practical modern-day examples. This is particularly appropriate since we live in a world of 'pragmatism', and it is important to know how a religion can be of benefit in practical matters. Later, I will briefly outline some of the spiritual benefits. The examples which follow, I hope, will show that others who deprive themselves of Islam are missing out tremendously. I should point out that the primary reason for following Islam is to please God and attain nearness to Him. But this idea of following Islam to 'please God' can sound very foreign in the modern world where the 'bottom line' question is, 'what can this do for me practically?'

Practical Examples of the Benefits of Islam

SIDS - SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, otherwise known as Crib Death. Up until recent years, medical experts were baffled by the phenomenon of SIDS. Babies were mysteriously dying in their cribs, and no one knew the reason why. Finally, doctors discovered the reason. When babies are placed on their stomachs, carbon dioxide which is expelled from the lungs while they breathe gets trapped under the sheets and blankets.

Most babies have a sensor in the brain which alerts the body that too much carbon dioxide is being inhaled. This sensor causes the baby to cough in order to expel this poison. But in some babies this sensor does not function properly. As a consequence, the body is not alerted when this poison enters and the baby dies.

Following this discovery doctors began to recommend that, in order to avoid this problem, babies should be placed on their backs and sides rather than their stomachs. In this way they would not breathe in the trapped carbon dioxide when the baby lies on its stomach. A few years after parents began to practice this recommendation of the doctors it was noted that the incidence of SIDS decreased dramatically.

Well, 1,400 years ago Muslims were taught by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) to lay on their sides or on their backs and were specifically instructed not to lay on their stomachs. The following hadith, for example, illustrates this:

Ya'ish ibn Tighfah Ghifari relates that his father said: 'I was lying down in the mosque on my belly when someone poked me with his foot and said: Such lying down is displeasing to Allah. I looked up and saw that it was the Holy Prophet.' (Abu Daud)
Muslims have known about this practice 1,400 years before medical doctors discovered this and this shows that long before the discoveries surrounding the causes and prevention of SIDS, Muslim lifestyle required sleeping habits that precluded the possibility of their children dying prematurely of SIDS. I accepted Islam 21 years before medical doctors discovered the reason for SIDS, and when I had my children I placed them on their sides, by propping pillows, or on their backs. Perhaps the Prophet (sa) knew nothing of SIDS, but being divinely guided by Allah (God), he followed God's every instruction, and the Muslims followed his example.

Pork Consumption

There is little need to elaborate here. It is common knowledge that African-Americans have the highest incidence of high blood-pressure, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, and this has been in great part attributed to the consumption of pork. The stress of modern living for middle-class African-Americans, and the stress of poverty for poor African-Americans combined with pork consumption wreak havoc on the health of many African-Americans. Fourteen centuries ago, the Holy Qur'an expressly forbade the consumption of pork. It is most unfortunate that, to this very day, many African-American Christian preachers tell their congregations that, 'the law is a curse', explaining that it 'doesn't matter' what one eats because 'Jesus has died for our sins', and we no longer have to abide by Old Testament (or Qur'anic) laws regarding diet. However, African-American Muslims have eliminated pork in their diets and they are living healthier lives.


Health-care professionals as well as the leaders of corporate America are now discovering that a mid-day rest -- even if only for 15 to 30 minutes -- greatly refreshes an individual and 'recharges' that individual for the rest of the working day. This practice reduced stress tremendously and has saved companies thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on employee sick-leave.

Well, this practice is a normal part of the Islamic way of life. In Muslim countries, people stop all work at the time of Zuhr (the mid-day prayer) and Asr (the afternoon prayer). They quietly go to a nearby mosque, or a room of their company, and perform their deeply relaxing and deeply spiritual prayers. Afterwards, they are greatly refreshed and can continue their day with much vigour. In some countries, people will actually take a two-hour, or so, nap after prayer. They continue their work day which sometimes lasts a little longer, but they are much calmer and more balanced and happier.

Unfortunately, this practice has yet to catch hold in the West to any great degree. But there are signs that some enlightened heads of industry are requiring their employees to practice some form of relaxation during the day.

There are many such practical benefits in the religion of Islam which African peoples (or anyone) can take advantage of, and I hope the above examples have helped explain just some of the hidden beauties of Islam. I should emphasise that although the Qur'an is not primarily a detailed book of science, it is a book of truth and as such it is amazing to note that no established scientific fact contradicts it, even to this day.

And Allah would bring to light what they were hiding

Here, I will demonstrate that the handful of Afrocentric scholars who have, over the past 30 years, waged a relentless campaign to attempt to deprive their African brothers and sisters of the benefits and practice of Islam are in the minority amongst the Afrocentric scholars, most of whom respect and admire Islam and the role Islam has played in the life of African peoples. The majority of the Afrocentric scholars also refute the lie which says that Islam enslaved African people.

Cheikh Anta Diop

Cheikh Anta Diop was one of the premier and most respected and knowledgeable Afrocentric scholars, he was also a physicist and director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, and a noted Egyptologist. His most famous work is, The African Origin of Civilization and his view differs totally from those promulgated by minority Afrocentric scholars:
The primary reason for the success of Islam in Black Africa, with one exception, consequently stems from the fact that it was promulgated peacefully, at first by solitary Arabo-Berber Travelers to certain Black kings and notables, who then spread it about them to those under their jurisdiction... What is to be emphasized here is the peaceful nature of this conversion, regardless of the legend surrounding it. (Precolonial Black Africa, page 163.)
Additionally, in view of what some Afrocentric scholars claim that African peoples should 'return' to 'their own indigenous African religions', such as Yoruba, it is interesting to note what Cheikh Anta Diop had to say about this:
African religions, more or less forgotten, were in the process of atrophying [dying] and being emptied of their spiritual content, their former deep metaphysics. The jumble of empty forms they had left behind could not compete with Islam on the moral or rational level. And it was on that latter level of rationality that the victory of Islam was most striking. That was the fourth cause of its success. (Ibid, page 166)
Cheik Anta Diop, an African himself, cannot be accused of making a racist or anti-African statement. He was giving his opinion as an African man and as a scholar of high repute. In further dispelling the charge that Islam was forced on African peoples, Cheikh Anta Diop said the following:
During the period of our study, from the third to the seventeenth centuries, not one conquest was ever launched by way of the Nile...Nor was there ever an Arab conquest of Mozambique or any other East African country. (Ibid, page 101)
He went on to explain precisely why Africans fell in love with the religion of Islam:
The Arabs in these areas, who became great religious leaders, arrived as everywhere else individually and settled in peacefully, they owe their influence and latter acceptance to spiritual and religious virtues. (Ibid, page 102)
Africans, as the above shows, were attracted to the spiritual and religious virtues of their Arab brothers. But wasn't Islam forced onto them by the conquering and sword-wielding Arabs? Cheikh Anta Diop said:
The Arab conquests dear to sociologists are necessary to their theories but did not exist in reality. To this day no reliable historical documents substantiate such theories. (Ibid, page 102)

Edward Wimot Blyden

A man who, in some respects, looms larger than Cheikh Anta Diop in the world of Afrocentricity is Edward Wilmot Blyden. He lived in the 19th century and is called 'The Father of Afrocentrism' by Afrocentric scholars. Listen to what he said:
Mohammedanism [Islam] found its Negro converts at home in a state of freedom and independence of the teachers who brought it to them. When it was offered to them they were at liberty to choose for themselves. The Arab missionaries, whom we have met in the interior, go about without 'purse or script', and disseminate their religion by quietly teaching the Qur'an. The native missionaries -- Mandingoes and Foulahs -- unite with the propagation of their faith active trading. Wherever they go, they produce the impression that they are not preachers only, but traders... And in this way, silently and unobtrusively, they are causing princes to become obedient disciples and zealous propagators of Islam. These converts, as a general thing, become Muslims from choice and conviction... (Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, by Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden)
'These converts, as a general thing, become Muslims from choice and conviction...' - Does that sound like Islam was forced down the throats of Africans? To the contrary, they were impressed by the practical examples of Islam and its moral code of conduct that stood before them. Blyden's words are very important because he was on the continent of Africa before the Europeans colonised Africa. He witnessed the spread of Islam in Africa in the 1800's. It is also worthy of note to see how Blyden contrasts Christianity and Islam:
Christianity, on the other hand, came to the Negro as a slave, or at least as a subject race in a foreign land. Along with the Christian teaching, he and his children received lessons of their utter and permanent inferiority and sub-ordination to their instructors, to whom they stood in the relations of chattels...owing to the physical, mental and social pressure under which the Africans received these influences of Christianity, their development was necessarily partial and one-sided, cramped and abnormal. (Ibid, pages 12-13)
It is a shame that many African-American youths are being misled about Islam by some Afrocentric scholars at a critical time in African-American history when the purifying aspects of Islam are desperately needed in the African-American community -- especially amongst the youth.


W.E.B. Dubois is one of the most important African-Americans in their history and in American history in general. His name is also known over the entire world as one of the greatest men of our age, and he was an influence to many men and woman of all races and countries all over the globe. His works are studied to this day in America and in the schools of Europe. Let us see what he has to say about Islam:
In this whole story of the so-called 'Arab slave trade' the truth has been strangely twisted. (The World and Africa, page 68)
Dubois further says,
Gao, Timbuktu, and Jenne were intellectual centers, and at the University of Sankore gathered thousands of students of law, literature, grammar, geography and surgery...From this Africa a new cultural impulse entered Europe and became the Renaissance. (Ibid, pp. 211 & 223).
Contrast the above praise of the religion of Islam with his observations on Church-Christianity:
Modern slavery was created by Christians, it was continued by Christians, it was in some respects more barbarous than anything the world had yet seen, and its worst features were to be witnessed in countries that were most ostentatious in their parade of Christianity. (Ibid, page 44)

J. A. Rogers

J. A. Rogers was one of the most prolific authors in African-American history. He wrote volumes upon volumes of books on African-American life and African-American history, his most well-known being Sex and Race, in which he demonstrated that many of the so-called 'pure white' kings, princes, and queens of Europe were of mixed racial origin. His books are sold to this very day all over America. Listen to what this great Afrocentric scholar said about Islam:
In short, the Negro was discriminated against in no phase of Mohammedan life oil the ground of color alone. Islam was the greatest and freest of all great melting pots. (Sex and Race, p. 108)
If Islam had been so harmful to African people, would not this incredibly gifted and prolific scholar have revealed this to the African peoples of the world? He was a man of world-class scholarship who was a genius of world history and the history of the African diaspora.

Dr. Waiter Rodney

Dr. Waiter Rodney was an Afro-American Guyanese Marxist, scholar and activist, killed in the summer of 1980 during political friction in Guyana. He graduated from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and also from London University where he received a Ph.D. in history. It is reasonable to say that Marxists are generally considered to be hard-nosed political, social, and economic analysts who generally have no concern whatsoever for any kind of religion. In view of this, Dr. Rodney's testimony is extremely valuable in assessing the role of Islam amongst African people, because his assessment is devoid of any religious sentiment one way or the other. His view is based on the analysis of cold, hard facts. Listen to what he said about the impact and value of Islam amongst African peoples:
As in other parts of the world, literacy in Africa was connected with religion, so that in Islamic countries it was a Koranic education...Moslem education was particularly extensive at the primary level, and it was also available at the secondary and university levels. In Egypt there was the Al-Azhar University, in Morocco the university of Fez, and in Mall the University of Timbuktu -- all testimony to the standard of education achieved in Africa before the colonial intrusion. (How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, page 240)
This Afrocentric Marxist scholar and hard-nosed Pan-Africanist, in the above reference, praises the high level of university education made available by Muslims to the African people before the Christian colonisation of Africa. If Islam had been so detrimental to African people, would this great Pan-Africanist Marxist social, political, and economic analyst have praised Islam for its role in uplifting the African peoples?

Contrast the above praise of Islam with Rodney's appraisal of the role of Christianity amongst African people:

Christianity tried sporadically and ambivalently to make an impact on some parts of the continent. But most of the few missionaries in places like the Congo, Angola, and Upper Guinea concentrated on blessing Africans as they were about the be launched across the Atlantic into slavery...Elsewhere, there flourished Islam and other religions which had nothing to do with European trade. (Ibid, p. 114)
Here Dr. Waiter Rodney places the blame for chattel slavery squarely on the shoulders of Europeans. And he says that 'Islam and other religions...had nothing to do with European trade.' Yet, some Afrocentric scholars claim that 'Islam enslaved African people.'

A Brief Look Back

Before continuing, it is important to refer to some history regarding the role of Islam in Africa:
The Mohammadan religion also had participated in the suppression of slave trade. About six years before, the Sharif of Mecca had sent a letter to the King of Fulas for circulation through all these 'Mandingo' tribes, strictly prohibiting the selling of slaves -- and which latter was also promulgated among the Yorubas, Fulanis and other neighboring tribes. The slave traffic was declared to be contrary to the teachings of Muhammad (On whom Be Peace) which pronounce the most fearful denunciations of Allah's wrath in the world hereafter against those who persist in the traffic with the European nations. (Sierra Leone Studies, pgs. 18-19, Vol. No. XXI, 939)
Here we see that a religious authority of Islam at that time, the Sharif of Mecca, actually and officially wrote letters to the West-African tribes, particularly the Muslim tribes, instructing them that the slave trade was strictly prohibited according to the religion of Islam, and that anyone participating in it would have 'Allah's wrath in the world hereafter.'

But, while the religious authority on Islam at that time condemned the slave trade, the highest religious authority of Christianity -- the Pope -- officially approved of and sanctioned the slave trade. This is recorded in Lady Southern's book, The Gambia, on page 50:

On the other side of the reckoning there is, however, the fact that the advent of the Portuguese was a calamity for Africa. It was Prince Henry's men who first brought back slaves from Africa to Europe, in the first instance from Morocco and later from West Coast. The first Negroes brought to Europe were presented to the Pope, who set his seal of approval on the traffic in human souls as being a means of saving souls. Thus the foundations were laid of the trade that brought untold sufferings to hundreds of thousands of men and women, deprived them of their birthright, depopulated West Africa and perpetrated a crime amongst humanity... (The Gambia, page 50)
This shameful fact that the Pope sanctioned slavery was attested to by Pope John Paul II himself when, a number of years ago, he went to Africa and formally apologised to the African people for the slave trade and other crimes against the African people. This was broadcast on the major news media of the world. But in Islam, leading religious authorities at the time condemned this terrible crime against the African peoples. Yet, certain Afrocentric scholars perpetuate the lie that 'Islam enslaved African people, defying the recorded works of history itself.

The Life of Muhammad Testifies to the Truth of Islam

More important than the above history is the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) himself.

Long before he was commissioned by Allah to be a prophet, he fought for the poor, the weak and the slaves. When he was a young man he had formed an organisation in Arabia which was dedicated to the poor, the weak, and the freeing of slaves.

When he was older Muhammad (sa) became a great merchant, often going on long caravans to buy and sell merchandise. Once a rich woman named Khadijah had heard about Muhammad's success. She sent word to him through a servant, asking him to lead a caravan for her. Muhammad (sa) led the caravan and with great monetary success. Khadijah was so impressed by this that she sent word to Muhammad (sa) through a servant, asking Muhammad (sa) to marry her. He agreed to marry her, but on one condition that she free her slaves.

This shows that even before Islam was revealed to Muhammad (sa) by God, he hated and fought against slavery. And after he became a prophet, his fight against slavery continued. As I mentioned earlier, Zaid Bin Thabit was the literate African man who recorded the Holy Qur'an for Prophet Muhammad (sa). It is also interesting to note that one of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's beloved and respect wives was an African-Egyptian woman named Maryam.

What About the 'Arab Slave Trade?'

The role of certain rogue Arabs in the slave trade has been inflated by Christians and Afrocentrists into the lie that 'Islam enslaved African people'. As I have shown above, the vast majority of Afrocentric scholars deny that Islam enslaved African people, and they also point out that Islam was one of the most beneficial blessings brought to the African people south of the Sahara.

History shows that a very small clique of gangster Arabs became involved in the slave trade centuries after the Europeans had been involved in the slave trade for several centuries. The involvement of this these Arabs had its beginning and ending in the 19th century.

The participation of this tiny minority was nothing compared to the massive and centuries-long participation played by the European Christians. In fact, W.E.B Dubois, on page 68 of his book, The World and Africa said that the tiny gangster Arab participation was a 'secondary result' of the American and British slave trade. He says that it was 'based on American demand for ivory'. So these rogue and immoral Arabs were nothing more than a fluke amongst the many pious Arabs who brought Islam south of the Sahara, and who treated the African people as equals, and whom the African people warmly welcomed as their brothers. These are the facts of history.

So it appears that certain Afrocentric scholars have been duped by the old Christian 'Orientalists' who wanted to wash the bloody hands of Euro-Christianity from its responsibility for the institutions of the slave trade by blaming a few rogue Arab gangsters for the entire centuries-long activity.

As an aside, I must state at this point that I am not being 'anti-Christian' in my remarks. I am being historical. For it was Pope Nicholas V who, in his Papal Bull of 1454, told Afonso V, King of Portugal, that by papal or Apostolic authority, Portugal seek, capture, and subjugate Saracens, pagans and other non-believers and enemies of Christ. Africans were perceived as pagans and non-believers.

More Testimony in Favour of Islam

Ivan Van Sertima

Dr. Ivan Van Sertima is the 'Renaissance Man' of modern Afrocentrism. This man is a world-renowned archeologist, botanist, chemist, historian, etc. Though not a Muslim, he suggests that African Muslims sailed to America centuries before Columbus arrived. One of those was an African named Abubakr the Second. The reader can find this information in his book, They Came Before Columbus. He says,

I think it should also be pointed out, contrary to myths about the Muslims, that they did not force their religion down the throats of the Christians. John Jackson, in an informative chapter on the Moors, in his book Introduction to African Civilizations, shows us how Christian, Jew and Muslim were treated with equal respect during the dynasty of the Ummayads. We have been given no evidence that this changed dramatically in later Muslim dynasties. (Golden Age of the Moor, pp. 18-33)
This shows that even when Muslims went abroad and conquered Christian Spain, they continued their tradition of tolerance and freedom of religion, allowing Christians and Jews to freely practice their religions.

A Short, But Painful Note of Truth

Sometimes the best medicine is the medicine that tastes the worst. This can also be the case with truth. Truth can be a difficult and painful thing. But this pain can also be the best elixir for a suffering soul.

The painful fact of history reveals the following: That while the African people of the diaspora certainly are brothers and sisters genetically, the fact is that the tribes of the coastal areas were intimately involved as slavers against their own people. This is the truth. Of course, this activity was wholly inspired by Europeans.

The Europeans had been looking for allies against the Muslims, and they found them in the coastal tribes of West Africa. These coastal tribes strongly participated in the slave trade along with the European slavers. But it was the African Muslims who lived further within the interior of Africa -- inland around the Niger and Chad rivers in the regions of Timbuktu, Jenne and Gao -- who fought against this trade and who actually provided sanctuary for those Africans of the coast who would run inland to the African Muslims for protection against the European slavers and some of their own brothers who had, unfortunately, become slavers. Many Afrocentrists are so embittered with the European slavery that they want to paint African people as a perfect group of human beings who were merely victims of the 'white man and Arab's' greed. They hate to admit the truth of what both European scholars and honest Afrocentric scholars know: that Africans themselves were intimately involved in the horrid slave trade. As Basil Davidson explains:

The history of the Guinea Coast between about 1550 and 1850 is increasingly and continuously the history of an international partnership in risk and profit. So it is wrong to consider the Guinea experience as one that was simply ordered and imposed from outside, with the African part in it a purely negative and involuntary one. This view of the connection mirrors a familiar notion of African capacity, and it has no place in the historical record. Those Africans who were involved in the trade were seldom the helpless victims of a commerce they did not understand; on the contrary, they understood it as well as their European partners. They responded to its challenge. They exploited its opportunities. Their great misfortune -- and this would be Africa's tragedy -- was that Europe only wanted slaves. (Black Mother, pp. 201-202)
Some Afrocentric scholars would cast Mr. Davidson's assessment as 'the lies of the white man.' But Dr. John Henrik Clarke (a noted African-American Afrocentrist who does not favour Islam) said of Mr. Davidson that he
..brings to the study of African history astute research and new insights into an old subject. (Introduction to African Civilizations, by John Henrik Clarke, p. 366)
So, as painful as the above is to the Afrocentric idealist, the fact is that non-Muslim Africans themselves participated in the slave trade against their own people.

Contrast the above with Mr. Davidson's observations on the role of Arabs in the slave trade:

Some European writers, possibly out of an understandable but quite unhistorical conviction that 'Europe should not bear all the blame,' have tended to equate the Asian-Arab trade with the European trade, or even to portray the first as much larger than the second...This argument will not bear examination. There is not a shred of evidence that the Indian Ocean trade ever carried, or could have carried, a tithe of the slaves that were taken across the Atlantic...The clinching fact is that the eastern world...never knew an economic situation which could have used captive labor on the scale of the Caribbean and American mines and plantations. [Ibid, p. 80]


Throughout the continent of Africa, Muslims are continuing to vigorously spread the religion of Islam through peaceful means. Islam has, from its very inception, been intimately tied to the African continent. Ethiopia was the country to which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) once sent his followers to receive shelter and protection. It is hoped that in the future perhaps a bright light will shine from the African continent and enlighten the entire world. In this article I have hoped to show that Afrocentrists and other scholars have themselves rejected the myth that the slave trade in Africa was sanctioned or advocated by Islam. At the same time I have hoped to highlight the fact that it is European history that bears the prime responsibility for these horrific acts. I should emphasise that although it may have been carried out in the name of Christianity, it does not in any way represent true Christianity. I believe all religions to stem from God and with this in mind it is unthinkable that He could approve of mankind enslaving itself. True Christianity as with all religions generates a moral revival for its people and moral progression, and the positive developments in European history owe a lot to the teachings of Christ (as). In the evolution of religion, Christianity was a great step forward for its people - moving them closer and preparing them for the final teachings that were yet to come from God - Islam. Clearly therefore, just as Christianity did not teach slavery, neither did Islam.


In this addendum I wanted to present a short list of just some of the numerous African people whom I consider to have been uplifted by the religion of Islam and became remarkable human beings based on their adherence to Islam.

Zaid bin Thabit - Recorder of the Holy Qur'an. He was a 'Hafiz', meaning that he had committed the entire Holy Qur'an to memory.

Bilal Ibn Rabah - He was the first treasurer of the Islamic world. He was also the first 'Muezzin', or person in charge of reciting the call to prayer He was chosen by Prophet Muhammad (sa) as one of the main representatives of Islam.

Tarik Bin Ziyad - African Muslim general who, in the year 711, led the eventual Muslim conquest of Spain. Muslim rule of Spain lasted approximately 800 years.

Leo Africanus - His real name was Al-Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzani, and he was re-named Leo Africanus by Pope Leo X in 1512 A.D. Leo was captured by Christians and given to the Pope as a 'gift'. He became a great explorer and writer. He wrote the book, History and Description of Africa, which for two solid centuries provided much information on Africa to travellers there.

Muzaffar Ahmad Zafr - Dr. Muzaffar Ahmad Zafar became the U.S. Naib Amir (Vice-President) of the world-wide Ahmadiyya Movement In Islam, and held that position for many years all the way until his death. This remarkable man rose from humble origins (a story partially similar to that of Malcolm X) to earn a Ph.D. in Public Administration. He became the head of the most successful drug-rehabilitation program in the state of Ohio; the project was called Project Cure'. He became a world traveller and widely-known and respected expert in African history, often invited to colleges around the U.S. to speak on various issues. He died recently in 1996.

Cheikh Anta Diop - Cheikh Anta Diop, whom I quoted in this article, is widely recognised as the premier scholar in Afrocentricity. But he was also a physicist and director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal. His most famous work is, The African Origin of Civilization. Dr. Diop was also a noted Egyptologist.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


After reciting Tashahhud, Ta'awwuz and Surah Fatiha, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III said:"Our Annual Rallies are held every year but there did occur somebreaks. It is now the fourth year, since 1973, that this Rally was lastheld. Due to this reason, coupled with the slackness of the Central administrators as I understand, the number of the participatingMajaalis (branches) is lower in this Rally than those of the 1973 despite the fact that scores of new Majaalis (branches) and Jama’atshave been established since 1973.This year 493 branches have participated while in 1973 as many as546 branches took part in the Rally, with 1954 foreign Khuddam and1856 Rabwah Khuddam, totalling 3810 Khuddam.

What has gone wrong is gone. May Allah the Exalted grant us forgiveness. This mistake should not occur next year. We should ever march forward.The second thing I would like to say is that the Khuddamul Ahmadiyya was entrusted with the responsibility of collecting contributions from the Atfal ul Ahmadiyya for Waqf-i-Jadid. Theyoung Atfal (boys) and Nasirat (girls) of Ahmadi families were required to pay collectively one hundred thousand rupees (Rs.100,000) during the current year. But even the pledges received so faramounted to nearly 68,000, while the actual amount received is only Rs. 28,000. Hence, I hereby draw the attention of all the local officebearers of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya of each branch — whether they arepresent in this Rally or could not attend due to slackness — to try to acquire the pledges in accordance with the budget and escalate the speed of getting the pledges redeemed. We should have probably received half the amount so far but even in this respect there is adeficiency of Rs. 28,000. Hence pay heed to make up this deficiency.

May Allah the Exalted empower you to do so.In my inaugural speech on Friday, brothers and children, I drewyour attention to the fact that the grand revolution, launched by theHoly Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) fortraversing stages of advancement in the last days, has ushered in its second phase. A prediction has been made in the Holy Quran regarding this age. The Ummat of the Holy Prophet (peace andblessings of God be on him) has been given glad tidings through theHoly Prophet that in accordance with the happy news that He may cause it to prevail over all religions

( The Holy Quran, 9:33 )the Islamic faith would dominate over all other faiths and isms.

"(Cited from ... 0517MN.pdf)

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Prayer


Worship is common to all religions. What differs is only the manner and style of worship. That which is unique in Islamic mode of worship is that it contains features from the mode of prayers found in other religions. Some people pray to God in a standing posture and some in a sitting posture. In some religions people remember God by kneeling to Him, while others bow down to Him. Some stand before Him with folded arms, and others with arms hanging at their sides. In short there is no single mode of worship common to all religions as a whole. It is fascinating however to note that Islam instructs its followers concerning the manner of prayer so comprehensively, that all the postures of worship found in other religions are symbolically represented in the mode of Muslim prayer. Another step forward in the direction of ushering in an era of universal religion, it seems.

The institution of Islamic prayer is a most highly developed system, covering every human requirement. It should be membered at the outset that the purpose of worship is not just bowing to a superior being and paying homage to His greatness, as if God created man only for satiating His egotistic desire of being praised. All the purposes mentioned in relation to the philosophy of worship and the manner in which a Muslim is required to conduct his prayer, makes it manifestly clear that the benefit of prayer is drawn by the worshipper himself and in no way can it be taken as a favour to God. The Holy Quran declares that God does not stand in need of mens' praises. He is so great in His nobility and so sublime in His character that the praises of His creatures do not add anything to His magnanimity and majesty. The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam once mentioned that if the entire mankind had turned away from God and committed the worst possible sins, one and all, they would not diminish His universal grandeur even as much as when someone dips a sharp needle into a vast ocean; the water one finds adhered to the surface of the needle would be far more than the sins of the entire mankind could take away from the glory of God.

So, worship in the Holy Quran is only prescribed for the sake of the worshipper himself. It is a vast subject, and we can only illustrate a few points in relation to this as mentioned in the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

Remembrance of God and pondering over His attributes during the prayer helps man in refining his spirit, bringing it more into harmony with the nature of God. This is central to the Islamic prayer. Man was made in the image of his creator, and he must ever strive to gain closeness to Him. This is a lesson in nobility which is ultimate. Those who train themselves to think like Godre and to act like Him within the limitations of the human sphere, constantly improve in their relation to all other human beings and even other forms of life.

In human terms it can be better understood with respect to mother's attitude towards her children. For the one who truly gains nearness to a mother, all that is dear to the mother will naturally become dear to him as well. Acquiring the attitude of the creator is like acquiring the attitude of an artist to his works of art. It is impossible for one to be near God and distance himself from His creation. Again, the term used for worship in the Quran is derived from a word which is so significant and different from terms used in other religions. Ain, Be, Dael ('A', 'B','D') are the three root letters which have the basic meaning of slavery. Like a slave who loses everything to his master and follows him in all respects, the worshipper in Islam must do the same in his relation to God. The infinitive used for worship has the connotation of following in the footsteps of someone. That is the ultimate in the imitation of God's attributes. The Quran also says:

Verily, Prayer prevents the worshipper from indulging in anything that is undignified or indecent. Surah Al-Ankabut (Ch. 29. V 46)

This verse has both positive and negative connotations, both highly essential for cultivating ideal human conduct. Thus in its negative connotation, it helps the worshipper by liberating him from sins of all types. In its positive connotation it educates man, fines his character and cultivates his qualities to such sublimity as he becomes worthy of communion with God.

Another area which is highly important in this regard is the role worship plays in developing one's soul. According to Islam, each human soul in relation to the carnal human body can be likened unto a child in the uterus of the mother. To give birth to a healthy child requires so many influences that are constantly transferred from the mother to the embryo, and the child at a later stage. If the mother's influences on the embryo are unhealthy, the child is born as congenitally ill; if they are healthy then the child is born enjoying perfect health. Of all the influences that work towards the making and modification of the human soul, prayer is the most important single factor.

The institution of Islamic prayer is rich in so many profound lessons as are not found even fractionally in other religions. Islam admonishes both congregational and individual prayer. The congregational prayers are held in a manner which is amazingly well organised and meaningful.

There is one leader who leads the congregation in all such prayers. That leader is not an ordained priest; anyone whom the people consider worthy of this task is chosen as the 'Imam'. The assembly is admonished to be arrayed behind the Imam in perfectly straight lines, each worshipper standing close to the other, shoulder to shoulder, without any distance between the two worshippers. They follow the Imam perfectly in everything that he does. As he bows they bow, as he stands they stand. As he prostrates they prostrate. Even if the Imam commits a mistake and does not condone it even after a reminder, all followers must repeat the same. To question the Imam during the prayer is not permitted. All face the same direction without exception, facing the first house of worship ever built for the benefit of mankind. No-one is permitted to reserve any special place behind the Imam. In this regard the rich and poor are treated with absolute equality, so also the old and the young. Whoever reaches the mosque ahead of others has the prior option to sit wherever he pleases. None has the right to remove others from the place that they occupy, except for reasons of security etc., in which case it becomes an administrative measure. Thus the Islamic system of prayer is rich not only in spiritual instruction, but also in communal and organisational instruction.

All mosques are frequented five times a day, a task which appears to be over-much demanding to a casual observer. This aspect should be further elaborated to build a more comprehensive picture of the role of congregational prayers in the Muslims' way of life. Of course in an ideal Muslim society, where mosques are provided within reach of almost every citizen, the five time congregational prayer becomes a routine way of all Muslims' life. The midday prayer, which ordinarily is more problematic, is performed in Muslim societies during the midday break from work. Thus it is not only a lunch break, but is slightly extended to accommodate the performance of prayer as well. The next prayer after the midday prayer is the afternoon prayer, which is performed almost immediately after return from an ordinary day's work. Then no prayer is permitted until after sunset. The time between the two is spent in outdoor activities like sports, shopping, walks, visits to friends and relatives etc. It is a period of relaxation in which prayers are practically forbidden, except for the quiet remembrance of God which becomes a constant feature with some believers. At sunset, the night of the believer begins with the sunset prayer, after which there is again a time for relaxation, dining, and so on. The night is capped before retirement with the last prayer which is called Isha. It is discouraged to stay awake after Isha in wasteful occupations of gossip and vain talk etc.

The Muslims are encouraged to acquire a habit of early to bed and early to rise. The day, next morning, begins routinely in the small hours before dawn. The prayer which is performed at the end of the night is called Tahajjud. It is not obligatory, but is a very highly emphasised optional prayer. The dawn ushers in the time for morning prayer, which is called Al-Fajar. Optional prayers are not recommended between Fajar and sunrise, for obvious reasons. Then till Zuhar, the midday prayer, only two optional prayers are mentioned; otherwise the pre-Zuhar period is expected to be spent in normal day to day activities.

Looking at the institution of prayer in Islam from another angle, it is intriguing to note how well organised, disciplined and comprehensive it is. There are certain prayers of congregation in which recitation of the Quran is done in a loud, audible voice, in a semi-singing tone, which does not exactly conform to the concept of singing, but which has a rhythmical tone that is deeply penetrating. The Holy Prophet (sa) also advised that there should be a shadow of sadness in the tone in which the Quran is recited; this makes it more touching, with the meaning of the verses sinking deeper into the recesses of the heart. In some prayers, particularly the two afternoon prayers, there is no loud chanting; this goes well with the general mood of the time. Even the birds cease to sing during the early parts of the afternoon, and there is a general air of silence covering the hubbub of normal work. The morning prayer, the prayer after sunset and the prayer after the fall of night all include periods where chanting of verses is the routine practice.

The prayer can be further divided into two categories. As against congregational prayers, individual prayers are also highly emphasised. In congregational prayers, society pays homage to God collectively and openly. In individual prayers, emphasis is laid on privacy, and there should be no effort to display such prayers to anyone. Similarly the late night prayer is performed in perfect privacy. Members of the same house try to find their own niches, and even husband and wife try to say their prayers separately so that communion with God becomes a highly personal affair.

It has been observed that the institution of the five time congregational prayer has worked very well, for over fourteen hundred years or so, for the protection and preservation of this holy institution. The mosques have been the mainstay in keeping this noble institution alive. They also serve as education centres for young and old, and throughout history they have played the most prominent role in religious teachings and instruction.

The places of worship in Islam, whether congregational or private, are kept meticulously clean. Everyone is expected to take his shoes off before entering such places. Although in every prayer the worshipper has to touch the floor with his forehead, sometimes briefly and sometimes for longer periods, it is surprising that no skin diseases have been transferred from forehead to forehead in the Muslim society. Some may attribute this to the high standard of cleanliness and some to the blessings of God, but this is a well observed fact.

As far as the contents of the prayer go, they are of two types:

l. A formal routine recitation of verses of the Quran and other prayers which are done essentially in the language of the Quran, which is Arabic. All worshippers are expected to know the meaning of what they are reciting, otherwise they will deprive themselves of the immense benefit which they may draw from the meaningful recitation. It will make this discussion too lengthy if we were to go into the details of the contents, but such readers as are interested in further study can always consult the relevant literature.

2. To the second category belong the individual prayers in one's own language, in which one is free to beg as he pleases. This second category is controversial in the sense that many a school of jurisprudence disallow such practices and insist on the recitation of only the prescribed form, irrespective of whether the worshipper understands that or not. However, they do appreciate the need for private and personal prayers, so they suggest praying in one's own it language after the formal prayer has ended and not during its course. We, the Ahmadi Muslims, recommend and practice the former option of praying to God in one's own language as one pleases during the formal prayer.

As we have amply demonstrated above, the institution of Islamic prayer is a highly developed one, where the individual is required to pray five times a day, both individually and in congregation with others. Islamic prayer thus plays an important role in the life of a Muslim, and in the spiritual and moral upbringing of the individual.

An elementary study of Islam by
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conditions of Initiation (Bai'at)

Conditions of Initiation (Bai'at)
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community


Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
The Promised Messiah and Mahdi (peace be upon him)

The initiate shall solemnly promise:

I That he/she shall abstain from Shirk (association of any partner with God) right up to the day of his/her death.
II That he/she shall keep away from falsehood, fornication, adultery, trespasses of the eye, debauchery, dissipation, cruelty, dishonesty, mischief and rebellion; and will not permit himself/herself to be carried away by passions, however strong they might be.
III That he/she shall regularly offer the five daily prayers in accordance with the commandments of God and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); and shall try his/her best to be regular in offering the Tahajud (pre-dawn supererogatory prayers) and invoking Darood (blessings) on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); that he/she shall make it his/her daily routine to ask forgiveness for his/her sins, to remember the bounties of God and to praise and glorify Him.
IV That under the impulse of any passions, he/she shall cause no harm whatsoever to the creatures of Allah in general, and Muslims in particular, neither by his/her tongue nor by his/her hands nor by any other means.
V That he/she shall remain faithful to God in all circumstances of life, in sorrow and happiness, adversity and prosperity, in felicity and trial; and shall in all conditions remain resigned to the decree of Allah and keep himself/herself ready to face all kinds of indignities and sufferings in His way and shall never turn away from it at the onslaught of any misfortune; on the contrary, he/she shall march forward.
VI That he/she shall refrain from following un-islamic customs and lustful inclinations, and shall completely submit himself/herself to the authority of the Holy Quran; and shall make the Word of God and the Sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the guiding principle in every walk of his/her life.
VII That he/she shall entirely give up pride and vanity and shall pass all his/her life in humbleness, cheerfulness, forbearance and meekness.
VIII That he/she shall hold faith, the honor of faith, and the cause of Islam dearer to him/her than his/her life, wealth, honor, children and all other dear ones.
IX That he/she shall keep himself/herself occupied in the service of God's creatures for His sake only; and shall endeavor to benefit mankind to the best of his/her God-given abilities and powers.
X That he/she shall enter into a bond of brotherhood with this humble servant of God, pledging obedience to me in everything good, for the sake of Allah, and remain faithful to it till the day of his/her death; that he/she shall exert such a high devotion in the observance of this bond as is not to be found in any other worldly relationship and connections demanding devoted dutifulness.

(Translated from Ishtehar Takmeel-e-Tabligh, January 12, 1889)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra), the fourth Head of Ahmadiyya Community
The Review of Religions, November 1996

Questioner: How can I find God? How do I know that a dream is from God?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Firstly, the question as to how we can find God is both difficult and easy to answer. In fact, it is not within the power of man to find God by himself. It is only God who can lead people to Himself. So, how does the journey begin - this is the question. According to the Holy Qur'an, if a desire is born in you to search for God, to meet Him, to be close to Him - if that desire is honest and a man or a woman begins to search for God on their own, then it is Allah, God himself, who leads them on to himself. In this regard, the Holy Qur'an states, (in Ch. 29, v. 70), that, all those who strive in our path, who want to reach Us, it is We Who would lead them on to Us and, most certainly, We do lead them on to Us. So, all that man needs is a sincere desire to be close to God.

As far as the second part of your question is concerned, the dreams from God have their own signs which are fulfilled in due course and sometimes they are in a language which cannot be understood by the person who has the dream. However, Godly people who are well versed in the art of interpreting dreams, can 'read' them and their interpretation comes true. So, the dreams from God have an inner quality and the person who sees a dream which is from God is also specially moved. He or she knows that something has happened, that this dream is not an ordinary dream and then in the events that follow he or she begins to see the signs of its fulfillment.

I quote the example of the dream of the king of Egypt at the time of Joseph. The king saw a strange dream. He saw seven cows which were strong and healthy and seven others, very weak and emaciated. The seven weak cows ate the seven strong cows. Now, this is not psychological. It is against human thinking. If a man had invented this dream, he should have thought of the strong cows eating up the small, weak ones. The opposite happens and then, at the same time, he saw in the dream that there were seven ears of corn which were green and seven which hardly had any corn on them. He could not understand the message because he had not made it up himself. His courtiers, great scholars of his time, said it was just a result of his own thoughts, nothing else. But when Joseph (as), a Prophet of Allah, heard it, he interpreted it. He said that there will be seven years which will be good for you and you will reap abundant crops but these seven years will be followed by seven lean years when there will be a drought and there will practically be no food. So, save what you harvest in the seven years of abundant crops for the seven lean years and in this way you will face no problems. Now, this dream came true in a strange way. The interpretation came true to the letter. So, what better sign could be presented to show that this dream was from God!

Similarly, at an individual level, I have seen many a times that people write to me about a dream of which they do not know the meaning. When I interpret the dream and tell them the meaning, in writing, it happens just like that. So the dreams from God have an internal language. We should know that language otherwise we would not be able to understand the dreams.

Questioner: Where is belief - where is faith when so many innocent children die and so may women are cruelly treated and die? Where is there faith in the world?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Why do they die, innocently? Who is responsible? Is it the crookedness in man or is it God who is responsible? If you honestly and sincerely investigate the causes of human suffering, you will come to the definite conclusion that it is man who is cruel to himself because of his selfishness, because of his ego in relation to his national and racial preferences, group interests, and so on. It is he who is responsible for cruelty to other human beings and then this cruelty builds up, and when it builds up it also results in irregular and distorted births. Again, ultimately man is responsible for that. For instance, if you look at the industry which is called the pharmaceutical industry you will be amazed to find that it is the new drugs which are largely responsible for the distortion of children at birth. Again, you will find that it is the high level of radiation in the atmosphere which is becoming responsible for many a distorted birth of children. Moreover, if you investigate honestly the causes of suffering, of skin cancer, of lung cancer, and so on, you will always be led to human error, not to that of God. If man lived in accordance with the will of God, this earth would be a heaven on earth - it is man who has turned it into hell. God is not responsible for this. That is why there is need for religion, there is need for God. If they turn to God then things will become much much better than you find them today.

I give just one example. Religion requires you to dispense human affairs with absolute justice. All religions are unanimous in this. It is not just a question of Islam. Christianity, Judaism, name any religion and it will support the same view, that man must dispense his affairs with absolute justice. Now take the element of justice out and the hell is born in human affairs. Where is the justice in the United Nations? Where was the justice for their treatment of the Iraq-Iran affair, of the Iraq-Kuwait affair, of the Bosnian affair, and many others? Everywhere it is man who is responsible because, in the name of justice, man is behaving most unjustly, in order to serve his own group interest. Suffering, there is, of course. But God is not responsible for it. Man is responsible because he rejects the teachings of God. If, for instance, you were to investigate economic discrepancies, economic problems, some economic suffering in a country, you will find, every time, that it is born out of human injustice in the economy. Similarly, political suffering is born out of human injustice in the political sphere. So, everywhere it is man who is responsible not, God.

I will quote one other example which will clearly prove the case in point. In the case of Bosnia and the treatment of Bosnia by Europe in the beginning. Whenever it was asked on some programme or other on television, 'why don't you interfere and stop this nonsense?' Every European politician said, 'you don't know how impossible it is, how intricate the problem is. If we permit force for bringing about peace in Bosnia, it will turn into a Balkan war, it will turn into a World war, it will get out of hand'. This was sheer non-sense! When America ultimately decided that force is the only weapon to which the other parties will listen, within a matter of weeks the whole problem was gone. Man is a hypocrite. Man is unjust and when it comes to telling lies, even at the highest levels of human leadership, they are not ashamed of telling lies. So man is responsible, not God, for all the suffering.

(Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Islam, makes himself available on various occasions for people of all beliefs to raise any issues or questions they may have. Presented below is a selection of questions which were addressed in two sessions, one of which was held in U.K. on 12 May 1996 and the other was held on 25 May 1996 in Germany.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Attainment of Inner Peace

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra)
The Review of Religions, February 1997

Attainment of Inner Peace

Questioner: There are many people who have no inner peace. What does Islam say about this?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The idea of 'inner peace' is something which is not properly defined. Unless it is well defined you cannot attempt to attain it. Peace is a concept which differs among the different schools of philosophies. For instance, the Yogic peace has a different meaning. It only means that by exercise or by delving deeper into one's soul, a person finds himself to be without any agitation. So, the absence of agitation in man's desires is called peace. A similar concept of peace is found in Buddhism as well as in some other Chinese religions. For instance, in Taoism, peace means delving deeper into one's own soul until one strikes the fountain-head of truth. So what is called Buddha in Buddhism is called Tao in Taoism, which means truth that is found in every nature - so when you reach truth, you reach peace. This is a different view about peace which is found in various oriental religions. However, in the major divinely revealed religions of the world, which are Judaism, Christianity and, at the end, Islam, peace is not just one dimensional or individual concept. Peace is, first, to be at rest with one's own desires and ambitions and having a balance, which is an internal affair, and then, secondly, to have peace with the world around and to assure everyone that one poses no threat of danger to them - 'no danger will emanate from me in the other's direction'. It is this wider concept of peace which you find in major religions. In this concept of peace, no one can be at peace with himself until he is also at peace with his neighbours and with others. This is also the concept of peace in Islam.

In Islam the concept of peace is two-fold. Firstly, to be at peace with "God" and then, secondly, to be at "peace with oneself" and "with the rest of the world".

The concept of peace in Islam is the most comprehensive of all the religions and philosophies that I have just mentioned and the key to it lies in the fact that in Islam the word 'peace' does not only mean to be at rest or to have a compromise of a perfect understanding with the rest of the world. It also means submission. The meaning of this one single word has two aspects. One is peace as ordinarily understood and the other is peace in the sense of submission. So, according to the Qur'anic concept of peace, no peace on earth can ever be conceived, not to mention established, by human effort. It cannot even be conceived theoretically without man finding God, the Creator, without recognising the hand of the Creator universally at work in nature. So, once man recognises his Creator then the second step is to be at peace with him and this peace has this dual meaning: Firstly, you are not to do anything which creates a distance between you and the creator, and secondly, submission. So, both these meanings join hands at this stage. Submission to the will of God is the only means of attaining peace with God and this is a declaration which is proven by human experience. It has a profound wisdom which is universally experienced by man. If children are at peace with their parents, it is impossible for them to defy their orders and wishes and yet be at peace.

Hence, if you delve deeper into the meaning of peace you will realise that ultimately the meaning of peace is submission. If you submit to the authority or the will or the desire of someone so completely that nothing in you is at war with the desire, will, or the way of life or the style of someone whom you love, (you will be at peace with that person). Unless you do this, you can't get peace. So in Islam the journey to peace begins with the attainment of peace with your Lord the Creator and for this you must understand his attributes. We must know what He is and this in Islam cannot be achieved through delving deeper into yourself because you can make many mistakes. If there is a God, He has to be an external reality. If He is an external reality, then He must introduce himself to man and that is what actually happened in all the divine religions - it was God who revealed himself to mankind. It was never man or woman who by his/her own efforts reached God, without help from God. First this much should be understood. I will then come to the latter part of the concept of peace, peace within a person and peace between people.

The questioner has asked a very profound question and to give a brief answer is extremely difficult. So I am trying to build the answer little by little, in different sections. I hope you will bear with me and understand that your question needs to be answered logically, in detail, with regard to its various aspects. First of all, I return to the idea of finding peace with God. Why is this essential? Why is it that no peace can be established without returning to God? God is the ultimate reality who has created human beings according to his own attributes and peace means a complete balance between man's attributes and the attributes of God. When there is no friction in any aspect of human behaviour caused by being at variance with God's attributes, this then is the ultimate peace. No other definition of peace can hold good but this one which can be explained and demonstrated at length but I am trying to make the answer brief and that is why I have just claimed it. If you think deeper on this question, I am sure you will agree with this claim that man's attributes can only find peace when they find themselves at one with God's attributes. Whenever the two join, they become alive and there is peace Whenever they are at war, there is friction, and there is disturbance, psychological as well as otherwise. It is the disturbance which is created within humans which causes all the disturbances in human relationships with each, other and in the international relationships between people and between states.

I can explain this by demonstrating to you how man's attributes can become at one with God's attributes. But what do I mean by that? Everybody knows that in almost all religions, God is defined alike in his attributes, alike in almost all religions. They differ with each other in other things, but the concept of God is expressed as perfect goodness. No flaw can be attributed to God's attribute or behavioural conduct, in the concept of God in any religion. All tell universally that God is true. All claim universally that God is just. All claim, without variance, that God is compassionate, merciful, forgiving. Now, these are the attributes that I had in mind when I said human attributes must come at one with God's attributes and there you can never be mistaken about peace. Let's begin with truth.

Only when man becomes true can he find peace with himself; otherwise he will claim to be something while deep inside he knows he is not that something. There will always be contradiction between man and his soul as long as he is not true. So, truth is the most important fundamental first step towards peace and this is the meaning of becoming like God. You cannot be God but you can imitate God in all the good attributes of God which we have also received from God as his creation and when you become true to yourself only then will you be able to become true to your children, your husband, your wife, your relatives and your society and when you enlarge the role of this single factor then nations can become true to each other. Even if you were to forget about all the other attributes of God, if you were just true, then you will realise that the peace within you is not a confined, isolated experience of a person within himself. The moment he reaches peace through imitating God, he is immediately introduced as a true servant, as a humble creature of God. He is introduced as such, through his attributes, to all his surroundings, whether someone is related to him or not. If someone is true he will be identified as a godly person by all whether they believe in God or do not believe in God because the attribute of truth is in itself a godly character. Even the atheists accept truth - they know it is good. So to be godlike but in humility, to try to achieve his attributes is the only passage to peace which can be advised and which does not become a confined experience within man. It becomes a universally shared experience between people in the same society and between people of different nations.

Again, I will emphasise that this is the only formula for creating universality in man. Without creating universality in man it is impossible to dream of peace and this universality can only be achieved through the image of God which is universal. Through Him, man can achieve such characteristics as are universally loved so that the human community, the human race, can become a single species if the human race submits to the will of God and becomes or attempts to become like God. Herein meet the two different meanings of peace, that is, peace in the ordinary sense, and peace in the sense of submission.

((Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the Fourth Head of the International Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, offers on various occasions the opportunity to people of all faiths and beliefs to put to him any questions that may be of concern to them.)