The Lahore Ahmadiyya Association Report (Part 2)
Our Report to the Home Office
The Muslim Thinker, January/February/March 1990 Issue (Issue 2, pp. 9–12)
Note by the Editor: We recently compiled and sent to the Home Secretary a Report about our history, aims, work and beliefs. This Report has been serialised in this journal, starting in the last issue and concluding below. The final part consists of the section dealing with our beliefs.)
To give an idea of the nature of our propagation of Islam, and the philosophy underlying it, we briefly list below some of our beliefs. It must be mentioned that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement derive all their beliefs from the acknowledged sources of Islam, i.e., the Holy Quran, the practical life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad [pbuh], and his sayings as recorded in books of Hadith. There are certain aspects of these beliefs which require to be stressed and clarified in present times in order to meet the needs of the age and to remove harmful misconceptions about Islam.
(a) God — Lord of all the Worlds:
The Islamic concept of God as “Lord of all the worlds” (the Quran 1:1) has the following implications:
- God sent His prophets and His guidance to all nations of the world, and Muslims must believe in all the prophets of the previous religions. This applies not only to the prophets of the Israelite tradition (such as Moses and Jesus), but also to the great religious teachers of other faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.
- God treats all nations and peoples equally. No people are His favourite by birth or by mere belief, not even those calling themselves Muslims. He rewards and accepts good works equally by any human being. His chosen ones are those who sacrifice their desires in His way and do good to mankind. (To reach this stage to the highest possible level, however, one needs the guidance God gave through the Holy Prophet Muhammad.)
- A Muslim must deal justly with all human beings, though they may belong to other races and religions. Bigotry and intolerance towards others is forbidden.
(b) Islam is a Religion for Today:
- Islam offers guidance on all the modern problems of today, whether on the individual, or social, or national, or international level. It bases its teachings on arguments, reasons and facts, which is the approach required by modern thinking.
- It urges the acquisition and increase of knowledge. It condemns blind, unthinking obedience, and requires everything to be determined in the fight of man’s reason and knowledge.
- It allows each man and woman full freedom of belief, conscience and opinion. It teaches that no ideology should employ any kind of force, pressure or coercion to make people accept it or continue to follow it.
(c) Islam is a Religion of Experience:
- In the modern age of materialism and denial of matters spiritual, Islam provides the ways of attaining spiritual experience.
- The acts of worship in Islam are not empty rituals, but paths of spiritual advancement (if practised properly).
- The door of communication with God, and from God, is still open today for the honoured saints who devote themselves to this path. Their example shows others that there is a living God Who still speaks to man.
(d) Islam is a Religion of Peace:
- By requiring Muslims to believe in all the prophets, Islam lays down the basis of peace between its followers and those of other religions.
- It gives the teachings to establish peace among Muslims themselves. It requires Muslims to look upon any person who professes the minimum basics of Islam as being a brother Muslim. No inquisition can be carried out against such a person regarding his or her beliefs, nor can he or she be expelled from Islam.
- It allows war against others only for the purpose of unavoidable self-defence.
- Acts of terrorism, kidnapping, hijacking, etc., are NO part of Islamic teaching, for whatever cause or end. Islam requires its followers to strictly observe and fulfil any international treaties, conventions and codes to which they may have pledged themselves.
- Jihad (or struggle) in the way of God means a struggle to overcome one’s low, base desires, and a struggle to take the Message of Islam to others by word and pen. The term jihad may also be applied to the kind of defensive war mentioned in (3) above, if it had to be undertaken to save Muslims from destruction by an aggressive foe.
- It is NO objective of Islam, and has NEVER been so in history, to acquire power and rule over countries and peoples. Its objective is to conquer the hearts and minds of people by means of argument and showing a good example.
- Islam requires Muslims to live as law-abiding citizens of any state which grants them freedom to practise their religion. The Muslim residents of a country are regarded as having made a compact with the authorities to observe the law, and Islam strongly teaches the observance of all compacts. (Of course, Muslims may adopt all lawful means of trying to get a particular law changed, but rebellion against any system of law and government is prohibited by Islam, if Muslims living under that system can fulfil all their basic religious duties.)
- An ‘Islamic’ system is not created by acquiring political power and imposing so-called Islamic laws upon the people. It is created in people’s hearts first, by convincing them freely of the truth of Islam, and it then spreads out by example.
The last-mentioned points of belief have been given to counter certain widespread misconceptions about Islam. It is alleged in many quarters that a Muslim can only live a truly Islamic life under an Islamic system, and that therefore Muslims must constantly struggle for the “establishment of the Islamic system”. This is only true in the sense that Muslims must strive to convince others of the truth of Islamic teachings through reason, argument and example, and persuade them to adopt Islamic modes of behaviour. But if it is meant that Muslims must try to acquire political power, and struggle to overthrow a system of government under which they are able to live peaceably as Muslims, this is contrary to Islam. (In fact, this attitude has caused division and disruption in Muslim countries themselves, because a government which one group calls ‘Islamic’ another will call ‘un-Islamic’.)
In conclusion, if there is one characteristic which distinguishes the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement it may be summed up in the one word: Tolerance — Tolerance of differences of views among Muslims themselves, Tolerance of the religious sentiments of members of other faiths; acknowledging the human right of others (granted by Islam itself) to choose and follow their own beliefs, while trying to persuade them, out of sympathy and not arrogance, of the truth of Islam as understood by us.
Note: This Report was prepared when we learnt through a newspaper that the Home Office was conducting an enquiry into the nature and work of Muslim organisations in this country. It was despatched to the Home Office in May 1988, bearing the names of the President and the Secretary of the AAIIL, UK.