Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad says Islam provides women with ‘true freedom, true liberty, and true enlightenment’
On 24 September 2017, the World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad delivered a faith inspiring address to conclude the 39th National Ijtema (Annual Gathering) of Lajna Imaillah UK, the ladies auxiliary organisation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The two-day event which was held at Country Market in Kingsley, Hampshire was attended by over 4000 women and children from across the United Kingdom.
During his address, His Holiness spoke about the extremely high status of women according to the teachings of Islam and cited the examples of the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as women who had shown remarkable courage and resolve for the sake of their faith.
His Holiness began his address by stating that Ijtema itself was a proof of the freedom and independence Islam grants to women.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“From an administrative perspective, this Ijtema has been organised and run by women from start to end, and they will have made a programme that is attuned to the needs and preferences of our ladies and girls. Hence, this Ijtema is a collective and practical demonstration of the great status bestowed upon women by Islam.”
Addressing the allegation that Islam discriminates against women, His Holiness quoted chapter 4 verse 2 of the Holy Quran which states that God Almighty created humankind from a “single soul and created therefrom its mate.”
Explaining the verse, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“The Quran testifies to the fact that men and women were created from a single soul and are of the same kind and species. Thus, where the Quran says ‘created therefrom its mate’ it signifies that Allah has made men and women in the same way and it cannot be said that one is dominant over the other.”
Continuing, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“The Holy Quran has clarified that men and women have the same feelings and emotions and just as each man will be accountable before Allah for his deeds, similarly each woman will also be held accountable for her acts before God.”
His Holiness said that although Islam has prescribed a division of labour between men and women – whereby women are tasked with the responsibility to ensure the moral and religious training of children and men are tasked with the financial responsibilities of the family and to look after them but this should not be understood to mean that women were ‘incapable’ of doing the work of men.
His Holiness said that both Muslim men and women should be ready to serve their faith and that they would be held equally accountable by God Almighty in this regard.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“Any man who thinks that women should not take an active part in religious affairs, or make sacrifices for their faith, and should stay away from religion, and just remain a ‘decoration’ for their husbands to enjoy, is guilty of extreme ignorance. Similarly, if any woman thinks that due to her domestic responsibilities she does not need to partake in religious matters, or make sacrifices for her faith, she too is mistaken and is guilty of undermining the status of women.”
His Holiness then gave examples of the sacrifices made by various women for the sake of their faith and mentioned that when Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was taken off the cross and emerged from the coffin in which he was subsequently placed, it was women, Mary Magdalene amongst others, who displayed immense bravery and reached Jesus in the very early hours of the morning.
Referring to examples of women from early Islamic history, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“Unquestionably during the blessed era of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the sacrifices made by the Muslim women reached a pinnacle and were of a standard that has never been witnessed at any other juncture of history. Indeed, when you read about the sacrifices made for the sake of their faith you can only be overcome with emotion.”
His Holiness narrated the incident of a Muslim couple who were slaves and who were beaten relentlessly by their non-Muslim slave-owner in order to force them to leave Islam. The husband died from the torture, in sight of his wife. The slave-owner then attacked the lady, piercing her stomach with a spear and so she too succumbed to her injuries but remained true to her faith till the her last breath.
Another astonishing example narrated by His Holiness was pertaining to the Battle of Uhud, which was fought by the Muslims in self defence against the Meccans who had come to destroy the Muslims.
During the battle, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was injured and word spread that he had been martyred. Hearing this, an elderly woman frantically asked a companion of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) if he was alive. In response, the companion said that her husband, brother and son had been killed. However, he also informed her that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was alive.
Upon this the lady proclaimed:
“I do not feel any loss or pain or grief over whoever in my family has died because my beloved master, the Holy Prophet (sa) remains alive.”
Remarking on this incident, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“This was the pure love and devotion professed by the Muslim women of that time towards the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). These were the women who were ready for every sacrifice for the sake of Islam and their names have been recorded in history as examples for the rest of time.”
Reminding the Ahmadi Muslim ladies of the need to reflect over such incidents and sacrifices made by the early Muslim women, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“Every one of you should constantly analyse and think about whether you have the same spirit and devotion for serving your religion that the female companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had? Ask yourselves if you have same true and sincere love for Allah the Almighty and His noble Messenger (peace be upon him) as the companions did.”
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad continued:
“Reflect upon whether you have acquired the religious knowledge and insight needed to fulfil your duties. Consider if you are a true role model for your children and if you are bringing them up in the same righteous way that the companions raised their children? If the answer to these questions is ‘No’ you should be very worried and concerned and it is also a cause of deep concern for the entire Community.”
Explaining the responsibility of Muslim women in this day and age, His Holiness said they must tell the world about the true teachings of Islam without any inferiority complex.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“If anyone claims that Islam does not give women freedom or that they are oppressed by men, it is your duty to show the world that Islam has given you true freedom, true liberty, and true enlightenment! It is your duty to show the world that whatever restrictions exist are not forced upon you by men, but are willingly and freely adopted, having observed the magnificent teachings of Islam.”
His Holiness continued:
“If you do not wish to mingle freely with men or to sit alongside them it is your own choice, made of your own volition, in order to preserve your honour and dignity. If you do not choose to shake the hands of men, it is because your heart demands that you follow Islam’s teachings, which provide true dignity for women. Such conduct is not based on the demands of men but is the result of your freedom to make your own decisions and is a symbol of true independence.”
Continuing, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad further said:
“Remember, following the crowd and bowing to the influences of society is not freedom. Rather, true freedom is having the strength to follow your beliefs and to act upon your convictions.”
Concluding his address, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“If you understand your responsibilities, I am sure that you will prove to be successful mothers, and successful Ahmadi Muslim women who are ready for every sacrifice for the sake of giving precedence to their faith over all worldly matters. If you understand your duties, I am sure you will be successful in spreading the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat far and wide.”
The Ijtema concluded with a silent prayer led by His Holiness.
Prior to his address, His Holiness was presented with a cheque for £20,000 by Lajna Imaillah on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Lajna Imaillah. His Holiness allocated the funds towards the reconstruction of the Baitul Futuh Mosque in London.
During the Ijtema, the members of Lajna Imaillah participated in various academic competitions and activities, which included presentations, exhibitions, as well as quiz and speech competitions.
A number of workshops were held in the workshop marquee, which hosted trade and industry and health talks and various demonstrations.