Islam proclaims that we are all born equal (I)

On Saturday, 26 August 2017, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza MasrurAhmad, leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Fifth successor of the Promised Messiah, delivered a speech to a large number of non-Ahmadi guests from Germany and other countries who attended the Yalsa Salana (Annual Convention) Germany 2017, organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Germany. Below is the transcript of the speech. 

Following the recitation of the Tashahhud, Ta'awwuz and Bismillah, the Fifth Khalifa of the Promised Messiah (lpD) said: 

"To all the distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatul'lahe Wa Barakatohu - peace and blessings of Al'lah be upon you all.   

Undoubtedly, we are going through a time of great instability and turmoil. If we take a simple glance at the current world situation, we witness conflict, hostility and unrest in virtually every sphere. While the world seems to have reached the definitive conclusion that Islam is to blame for its volatile situation, I think it is not accurate to say that Muslims alone are fanning the flames of disorder that are burning throughout the world.

However, it is a cause of deep consternation that so-called Muslims and Muslim groups have stubbornly deteriorated the peace of the world, spreading hatred, tensions and fears among the non-Muslim communities, and have undertaken the most terrible atrocities. Indeed, I personally have no qualms in accepting the fact that such Muslims have played a significant role in fuelling disorder and inciting dissent in society.  

The main cause of this has been the fact that Muslim clerics or extremist groups have targeted vulnerable Muslims and, far from guiding or helping these frustrated and disoriented people, have poisoned their minds with extremism and radicalised them. 

Unfortunately, some have been so brainwashed that they have carried out horrific terrorist atrocities, while others who may not have carried out attacks, share that perverse ideology. Similarly, we have long seen some Muslim governments mistreat their people and inflict untold cruelties and injustices on them, causing division and provoking bloody civil wars and uprisings. Yet it must be made clear that no matter how much the extremists proclaim, all acts of terrorism and extremism, whether caused by radical groups or individuals, both in the Western world and in Muslim countries, are contrary to the teachings of Islam. Undoubtedly, the teachings of of Islam are a guarantee of peace and security for humanity. Its teachings are rooted in compassion, mercy and humanity and it is these true Islamic values that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has tirelessly emphasised and endeavoured to spread throughout the world for over 125 years. 

Therefore, let me reiterate once again that under no circumstances does Islam permit any kind of cruelty, injustice or immoral act. From its inception, the teachings of Islam have sought to unite humanity, rather than create divisions between people of different communities. Indeed, the first chapter of the Holy Quran, which Muslims believe to be the Word of God revealed to the Founder of Islam (lpbD), states that Al'lah Almighty is the 'Lord of all the worlds'. By definition, Al'lah Almighty is not only the God of Muslims, but also the God of Christians, Jews and people of all faiths, and indeed of people who lack faith and do not believe in His existence either. Thus, Al'lah is the greatest Provider and Sustainer for all mankind and He has showered His grace and mercy on all people, irrespective of their lineage, creed or colour.   

The Arabic words used in The Quran are (Rabbil Aalamin), where Al'lah Almighty has used the word 'Aalam' which has been translated into English as "worlds". However, no translation can reflect the true scope of the word 'Aalam', which is incredibly vast and far-reaching. By using this word, Al'lah Almighty makes it clear that He is not simply a Provider and Sustainer for the people of a particular religion or for a particular era; rather He is the Creator and Sustainer for the people of all nations, for all believers and for all times. These words are imbued with unparalleled beauty and great wisdom, for they have enshrined the sacredness of the principle of universal equality and have made it clear that there is no place in the world for any kind of racial or national superiority. These words make it clear that the blessings of Al'lah's favours are not limited to any particular race or ethnicity, for they are bestowed indiscriminately. 

As these are the true teachings of Islam, it is a cause for regret that racism and intolerance still prevail in the world. Indeed, among the very people who allege that Islam discriminates against non-Muslims, there are those who are guilty of much of what they accuse Islam of. For example, an American politician recently declared that white people have contributed far more to human civilisation than other races, such as blacks or Asians. A veteran political leader has also expressed the view that whites are "genetically superior" to others. Such extremist views only fuel resentment and desolation among people of other races and ethnicities.  

By contrast, Islam proclaims that all human beings are born equal, regardless of their origin or skin colour. It teaches that no race is superior to another, nor are the descendants of a certain lineage more gifted than others, and that Al'lah is the Provider for all mankind. While it is true that one's personal progress depends on one's environment and effort, the basic faculties granted to mankind remain the same and are not predefined by geography or race. In fact, 1400 years ago, in the Farewell Sermon, delivered after the last pilgrimage, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) referred to this very subject in a momentous speech that laid the foundation for world peace. 

In words as timeless as they were enlightened, he proclaimed that people are born equal and that a white man has no superiority over a black man, nor does a black man have superiority over a white man. Likewise, he said that an Arab cannot claim superiority over a non-Arab any more than a non-Arab can claim superiority over an Arab, thus wielding an eternal flame that illuminates the path to universal human rights. Indeed, we are living in a time when Islam is very much misunderstood; therefore, it is really important to reiterate this enlightening principle that proves that Islam is against all kinds of discrimination and prejudice. God has not only made us equal only in our physical and mental attributes, but rather, we believe that for the sake of spiritual development and well-being, Al'lah has provided the means of salvation and guidance to all people of the world. 

In religious terms, Islam says that the prophets have been sent by Almighty God to all nations and Muslims are commanded to respect and honour them. Thus, we hold the Founders of all religions in high esteem and can never even imagine speaking against any of them. In fact, true Muslims refrain from speaking ill of any prophet or holy person, even when those who are against Islam choose to mock, curse and denigrate the Prophet of Islam (pbuh).

Undoubtedly, when we hear someone unjustly slander our beloved Prophet Muhammad (lpbD), we feel deeply distressed and our hearts, severely damaged, do not respond with disrespect towards the prophets and saints of other religions and faiths. In the face of hatred and adversity, our faith compels us to respond with love and peaceful attitudes at all times. So much so that Islam not only forbids speaking against other religions or prophets, but goes much further by saying (Chapter 6, Verse 109 of the Holy Quran), that Muslims should not speak ill of idols worshipped by idolaters, as this may provoke them, due to ignorance, and curse God Almighty and this, in turn, may offend and hurt the feelings of Muslims. 

Therefore, far from allowing a cycle of perpetual hatred, which inevitably leads to hostilities and conflicts, The Quran calls the attention of Muslims to show patience and high moral values at all times. Furthermore, Chapter 3, verse 65 of the Holy Quran lays the foundation for religious tolerance among people of all faiths and creeds, where it states that religious people, and especially the People of the Book, must be united in their collective belief in the existence of God. Thus, The Quran calls upon humanity to seek common ground and put aside any differences that may exist. Here, The Quran also argues that, although non-Muslims are free to decide whether or not to follow this commandment, Muslims are obliged, in all circumstances, to open their hearts and respect the beliefs of others.  

Another allegation that is often levelled against Islam is that it allows coercion and aggression in order to force people to accept Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth. In chapter 2, verse 257, The Holy Quran has declared unconditionally that there is to be no coercion in matters of religion or faith. While Islam holds that the Holy Quran is a complete and universal teaching, one of its inherent features is that religion is a matter of the heart and no pressure of any kind can be used to coerce people to accept it. Furthermore, in chapter 10, verse 100 of the Holy Quran, it is stated that, although Al'lah Almighty has the power to compel mankind to accept Islam, He allows freedom of choice and He wishes people to choose their own path independently and free from any repression. Thus, the One God we worship is neither cruel nor does He demand that all mankind turn to Him; rather, He is that Supreme Being who has stipulated that everyone is free to believe in whatever they wish. This does not mean that Muslims should not preach their religion, otherwise Al'lah Almighty has instructed Muslims to propagate the message of Islam to others, but such propagation is to be carried out peacefully, in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect. Accordingly, in chapter 18, verse 30 of the Holy Quran, it is incumbent upon Muslims to inform mankind that Islam is the Truth from God Almighty and whoever accepts or denies it is free to do so. It is in this spirit that we peacefully strive to propagate the true teachings of Islam and invite mankind to acknowledge God Almighty. We seek to win the hearts and minds of people with kindness and compassion. 

Furthermore, chapter 10, verse 26 of the Holy Quran states: "For Al'lah calls to the abode of peace...". While reinforcing the notion that all people are free to accept or reject the teachings of Islam, this verse also points to the fact that Al'lah invites mankind to peace and security. Therefore, when Al'lah calls for the abode of peace, it is imperative that Muslims manifest peace and be the means of security for all mankind.   

(lpbD) - peace and blessings of God be upon him. 

(lpd) - peace be upon him. 

(We will continue this discourse in the next installment: "ISLAM PROCLAIMS THAT WE ARE ALL BORN EQUAL (II)". 

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