It was in 1979 that an Ahmadi stalwart, Professor Dr Abdus Salam won the Nobel Prize. This achievement was celebrated not only in the world of science but also in the world of Ahmadiyyat; the first Muslim scientist to be awarded this prestigious prize happened to be an Ahmadi.
Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIIrh, celebrated this achievement in a very unique way. While there were receptions held in honour of this great scientist, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh demonstrated his pleasure in a very pragmatic way.
Divinely inspired, he launched the Ahmadiyya Educational Scheme to encourage and facilitate the pursuit of higher education in Ahmadi youth. This scheme included issuing of grants for youth who couldn’t afford education for financial reasons, loans for those who had excelled in academic examinations but required financial support to pursue further education and measures to ensure that no Ahmadi was left illiterate. Huzoorrh set a standard that every Ahmadi should at least study to the matriculation standard (equivalent to O Levels, now GCSE in the UK).
Huzoor, addressing the 1979 Jalsa Salana Rabwah, included this scheme in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Centenary Celebration Programme (which was ten-years from that point in time).
Laying out the plan before the Jamaat, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh stated:
“One of the glad tidings given to the Promised Messiahas by Allah the Almighty is, ‘People of my sect will excel in knowledge and enlightenment to such a standard that they, with the light of truthfulness, debate and signs, will render everyone speechless.’
“What a great revelation it is… A desire kindled in my heart that in the next century [of the Jamaat] which is only a decade away, we need one thousand scientists and researchers; and a hundred of them in the decade that lies between now and then… Dr Abdus Salam worked in his field, succeeded and was awarded the Nobel Prize.
“This day, I announce that the Jamaat should take responsibility of every child who is intelligent but not financially stable, right from the primary school stage. No intelligent child born in the Jamaat, be they born in the jungles of Africa or in the palaces of New York, in Moscow or in the vicinity of the Ka‘ba, should be wasted. Humanity should save the mind of that child. This is what Islam has taught us and this is what we should try and establish.”
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh, in the same address, announced grants and loans for the educational pursuit of children and youth in this address.
During his visit of Europe in 1980, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh announced that although this Educational Scheme was launched in Pakistan, but in a few years’ time, it would be extended across the world. Stating the purpose of this scheme, Huzoorrh said:
“I launched this scheme with the objective to propagate the teachings of the Holy Quran.
“The more secular knowledge you attain, the better your understanding of Allah’s attributes will be. Allah the Almighty wants us to attain knowledge of His attributes and the manifestation of these attributes in the Universe, hence progressing in enlightenment and becoming a true servant. Similarly, He wishes for us that we acquire religious knowledge as well as knowledge of secular disciplines.”
Huzoorrh initiated a scheme to award medals to students who excelled in their academic examinations. For this purpose, the first medal-awarding ceremony was held on 13 June 1980 where six students were awarded medals by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh. The second ceremony was held on the occasions of the Ijtemas of Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya and Majlis Ansarullah Pakistan in 1980. The third ceremony, again in 1980, was held on the august occasion of Jalsa Salana Rabwah in December.
This is the background of the degree awarding ceremony that we all witness at the Jalsa Salana UK and also at other Jalsas. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, during his address to this year’s Jalsa UK, reiterated the importance of attaining excellence in academic and educational pursuits and also reminded Ahmadi youth of the medals that are awarded every year to qualifying Ahmadi students.
Coming back to the desire of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh regarding Ahmadi scientists, we know that there are at least a thousand now who are researching at post-graduate and doctoral levels. We witness such scientists and social-scientists in the meetings that they have with Huzoor during his tours to various countries. They get a chance to present before Huzoor the crux of their research. We have witnessed in these classes that whatever their area of research, Huzoor always has an aspect to add to their vision. Waqf-e-Nau classes have also shown us how resolute Huzoor is in his desire that Ahmadi men and women should excel in education.