Tag Archives: Ahmadiyya

Muslims: “Whosoever kills a person, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.”

Unfortunately, people currently associate Muslims with terrorism. It’s not a new phenomenon. The Irish had the same problem in the 1980s. And Muslims are blamed for terrorism at the moment more than any other group.

‘Love for all, hatred for none’ is the Ahmadi motto and central tenet of their faith. Ahmadi Muslims swear allegiance annually to their faith, their Caliph who is their worldwide leader and to the country in which they live now, not their country of origin. They are pillars of the communities where they live and as yet, no Ahmadi Muslim has ever been tried or convicted of terrorism charges.

Ahmadi
Pledge of allegiance to the Ahmadi faith, the Caliph and the UK

Their central challenge is how they turn around perceptions about Islam, not least perceptions in the media. As several people remarked over the Jalsa Salana, if a white person massacres people, his background is immediately investigated. If a Muslim does the same, the media think terrorism first.

The media don’t always call out white perpetrators as racist and they have protection if they suffer from schizophrenia or another mental health condition. I don’t recall hearing about the background of Muslim terrorists, only their deadly intent and how they were radicalised.

I caught up with the Ahmadi Muslims at their annual convention which is known as the Jalsa Salana. It takes place at Oaklands Farm, Alton in Hampshire. 38,000 Ahmadis flock from all over the world and 5000 of them serve as volunteers to ensure the smooth running of the event. It’s an example of the Ahmadis commitment to service. But it doesn’t stop there.

They hold an annual walk for peace in every region of the UK raising money for the Poppy Appeal and British Heart Foundation as well as much smaller local charities. Non-Ahmadis are invited to participate and there is no joining fee. As a community, the Ahmadis are inclusive and outward looking.

Humanity First enables the Ahmadis to travel the globe and provide disaster relief. A lot of the doctors give up their annual leave to travel at short notice and help when disasters strike. A team went to the Tsunami and are active in many parts of the world reaching out to people of many faiths and none. Humanity First is a disaster relief charity set up by Ahmadis but operated independently and “serving all of mankind” (their motto). 

Muslims
Ahmadiyya Press team, Ismael, Atif Malik with Roz Scott

Guests at the Jalsa said they were impressed by the Ahmadis because they put their faith into action, they walk their faith. They demonstrate God’s love through charitable works and humanitarian aid and let this love speak for itself.

It’s not commonly known that the root of the word Islam means peace. Ahmadis preach and live this message of peace led by their Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Declan Henry believes the Caliph’s leadership is one reason that this community is so strong and peaceful. Mr Henry is a writer and social worker who has written a book called voices of modern Islam. Mr Henry is an Irish Catholic but he thinks it is worse to be a Muslim at the moment because they can be targeted and face discrimination.

Mr Henry believes other Muslims distrust the Ahmadis because of theological differences about whether the Messiah has arrived or is yet to come and he said many sects of Islam lack true leadership. He said: “Other Muslims envy the Ahmadis who have the Caliph, a holy and honourable man. The Ahmadis are the most integrated of Muslims in the UK.”

Set up after the Paris attacks, Ahmadis have led the campaign ‘United Against Extremism’ that counters the rhetoric and ideology of terrorism. They quote from the Qu’ran for their inspiration: “Whosoever kills a person, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.” (5:33)

Ahmadis come to Hampshire in force for their annual Jalsa Salana

At Oaklands Farm in Hampshire last weekend over 39,000 Ahmadi Muslims from 155 countries met for their annual convention , the ‘Jalsa Salana.’ 355 new mosques have been built including one in Tilford. The reported reach of the event coverage was 59.3million in TV, radio, print and online.    

David Harmer, County Councillor for Waverley Western Villages in Surrey said: “If the rest of the country was as well organised as the Jalsa is every year, we wouldn’t have any problems.” Mr Harmer said he was fascinated by the motto, ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ and even more impressed that the Ahmadis live to it. All members of the Ahmadiyya Community pledge allegiance to their faith, the Caliph and to the country where they live.

Jalsa
Councillor David Harmer, Waverley Western Villages with Roz Scott, journalist

It’s important to notice, they pledge allegiance to the country they live in, not their country of origin. In my experience, Ahmadi Muslims speak impeccable English and contribute significantly to Britain’s net worth and GDP. Their faith requires them to integrate into the very fabric of British society and to become pillars of the communities they live in.

An example of this is when the Ahmadiyya Community built their mosque in Morden they were committed to open communication. Councillor Peter Southgate of Merton said they ‘anticipated planning resistance but the mosque is a force for good. The impact on the ward and the social cohesion is very positive. There are new businesses in the Morden area. Without the Ahmadis, the retail units would be empty.”

Doing charitable work is central to the faith of the Ahmadis. Doctor Chaudhury Ljaz Rehman is the President of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association: “There’s an ethos to our charitable work. Every year we support the Poppy Appeal and British Heart Foundation.

“We have a national walk for peace in every region of the UK every year. Schools are asked to join in. We don’t charge an admin fee. Religion teaches us to serve people regardless of creed, colour or religion. The British are a charitable nation, we want to do the same. The world needs more people committed to charitable work based on their faith in God. Without God, the work is rarely sustainable.”

Sue Carter, Mayor of Rushmoor, said she had never heard of the Ahmadis until she became Mayor. She said: “As soon as a bomb goes off, it’s all news and then we dissect it.” She works with a lot of young people including ex-gang leaders to help them transform their communities and said: “Life changes, sometimes it’s a struggle but you can get through it.”

Ahmadis
Councillor Sue Carter, Mayor of Rushmoor with Colonel James Sunderland

Councillor Richard Billington, Mayor of Guilford, said: “It’s almost bewildering in its scale, the scale of the operation, the attraction of the Ahmadis is worldwide. The problem is press presentation. They tend to write about the bombs and the bullets, you don’t hear about the gentle, charitable work. It breaks the hearts of the Ahmadis. They are polite, kind, Westernised but in a slightly Islamic way.

“I worry that some immigrant communities are not as confident of themselves to integrate but the Ahmadis are confident. They integrate without feeling they are losing their identity.”

While visiting the Surrey Police stall I recognised this drive to integrate while speaking to Farhan Hayat, an Ahmadi Muslim. He explained his role as a Positive Action manager in Surrey Police and appealed to others from under-represented groups to join the force. Reflecting on his visit to the Jalsa Salana, Robin Perry who is a Councillor in Camberley was “fascinated” by his visit. “It was a real education,” he said, “In the SE of England people are reserved and share the same sense of humour as the Ahmadis.”

Colonel James Sunderland is head of Army Engagement. He travels the country talking about the work of the army and promoting collaboration. He said: “The Ahmadis are warm, hospitable, they care about the communities where they live. What’s nice about the Ahmadi community, they are always reaching out. I am always made to feel very welcome. They are apolitical just like the army. They are interested in family and shared values. I wear my uniform for a reason, it’s important to extend the hand of friendship.”

Wang Jen Zhen likes the Ahmadiyya Community because of the learning the community affords. She said: “The Jalsa is brilliantly organised. Brilliant exhibition. I like the fact you just learn a lot. I am there to learn about people’s beliefs.”

Dignitaries have come to the Jalsa from across the world, King Yahaya Abubakar Etsu Nupe is the King of Niger State in Nigeria. He said: “Love, peace, unity, this is the best thing.” He likes the Ahmadis because they build schools and hospitals and try to help people.

Education sets Ahmadi Muslims apart

For Ahmadi Muslims serving humanity means being an active citizen in society and honouring the government in their host country. I was invited to find out more at their annual convention, “the Jalsa Salana” in Hampshire, which welcomed more than 38,500 people from 115 countries.

Ahmadi Muslims
Press team at the Jalsa Salana 2018

Many of the people I met are British born: second or third generation and very grateful for the freedom of religion and freedom of speech which Britain affords, given their experience as a persecuted minority at home.

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Community, had to leave Pakistan and move his headquarters to London in the 1980s because theological differences set him at odds with the majority of Muslims in Pakistan.

Some sects of Islam do not recognise Ahmadi Muslims as Muslims because Ahmadis believe the awaited Messiah has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India.

But in Britain the Ahmadi Muslims have prospered through hard work and respect for the country they now call home. Many are investment bankers, traders, property developers, IT consultants, even Nobel Prize winners, leaders in their field, because education is of paramount importance to them. If the government analysed the economic contribution of the Ahmadiyya community I think they would be amazed.

Nasser Ahmad Khan volunteers with Humanity First which is the Ahmadis’ disaster relief charity. He believes that the UK is still one of the greatest countries in the world, even post Brexit, because of the level of diversity, thought and tolerance. He said: “Our home countries wouldn’t allow it.”

education
Nasser Khan with his son

He agreed that the secret to the Ahmadis’ success is education. He said: “Our religion compels us to further our knowledge for the benefit of humanity. The Prophet Mohammed himself said every piece of knowledge is the lost property of a Muslim.”

Abdus Salam is perhaps one of the best examples of an Ahmadi Muslim serving humanity. I met his son, Ahmad Salam and grandson Osama Abdus Salam. They told me their father/grandfather was a physicist who studied in Cambridge where he became a fellow of St John’s College and he was appointed as the first professor of theoretical physics at Imperial College, London. He won the Nobel Prize for physics by proving that the weak nuclear and electromagnetic forces were actually one. He also worked extensively in hisnative Pakistan as chief scientific adviser to the President from 1961 until 1974.

Abdus Salam
Ahmad Salam, son of the late Abdus Salam

Mr Salam was appointed to head up science and technology at the United Nations and he was tasked with setting up an incubator to bring together the best brains in the world. As a result, an institute (ICTP) opened in Italy in 1964 which has trained 300,000 scientists from around the world including Vietnam, Brazil and Rwanda. It was founded on the conviction that without science and technology countries can’t grow and prosper economically.

serving humanity

Others volunteer with Humanity First which is a charity set up by the Ahmadiyya Community originally to provide disaster relief. However, its purpose has evolved and it now also focuses on longer term sustainable projects. It’s registered and active in 52 countries promoting healthcare, education, vocational training, water and safeguarding orphans. It builds and runs secular schools in disadvantaged areas where literacy is low and provides equal access irrespective of gender or social standing. The charity provides an opportunity for Ahmadi Muslims to use their skills and knowledge to serve humanity.