Ataul Fatir, Al Hakam
Leo Tolstoy once noted, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
This changing-yourself-first attitude before even thinking of changing others, is what forms generations of Ahmadi Muslim youth who don’t inherit their religion but learn it for themselves and put it into practice. Then, they set out to change the world.
Ahmadiyyat has seen, through the grace of Allah, each generation closely attached to their religion, despite repeated attempts of clerics for over 130 years to stamp it out, often targeting Ahmadi youth. “Swords can win territories but not hearts, forces can bend heads but not minds”, as Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh pointed out.
Being a Muslim youth in the modern world also brings challenges; Islam is in constant inspection and scrutiny. All Muslims, especially the youth, have questions they want answered. It’s natural, right? But not all Muslim youth have a khalifa who gives rational, intellectual and religious direction to them, while also guiding them toward a very real connection with God Almighty; a khalifa who cares for them, worries for them, cries for them and sees them as his own. Ahmadi youth, however, have such a khalifa – after all, this Khilafat was a divine promise.
Through the generations, Ahmadis have been encouraged to understand not only their own faith but to respect and be accepting of other religions and views. That is one reason why not a single Ahmadi youth has fallen into the trap of extremism.
For someone on the outside, it may be challenging to comprehend how and why Ahmadi youth are so attached to their faith, not just by word, but through action. For this reason, we reached out to some Ahmadi youth and asked them about Islam, Khilafat and why – as some ask – they pay Chanda (a financial contribution for the welfare of humanity).
Here’s what they had to say.
Melissa Ahmadi, a secondary school religious studies teacher in the UK explained:
“Khilafat is the cornerstone of our faith. As a convert, I did Bai‘at of our beloved Khalifa ten years ago. Khilafat underpins our lives. The Khalifa’s guidance has shaped my life on every level and through his prayers, the impossible has been made possible. On a personal level, he has completely changed my life.
“Islam is a religion for all people of all times; it is timeless. Many of the wisdoms that were taught over 1,400 years ago have been proven scientifically in the modern day. The importance of cleanliness being half of faith and the origins of the universe are all beautifully expounded upon in the Holy Quran and its commentary. This is the truth of why we are here – to gain nearness to our Creator and to worship Him and learn of His attributes.”
Muhammad Ahmad Khalid, final year medical student in Bulgaria said:
“I believe in Ahmadiyyat as it is the most logical form of Islam I have come across and researched. It has helped me understand Islam better within the modern, scientific backdrop of our times. Islam Ahmadiyyat really isn’t just based on pure conformity; its foundations lie in understanding the deep wisdom of Islam.
“Khilafat to me, on a personal level, provides true guidance and leadership. On a larger scale, it is millions of people under one voice moving in accordance with one another like one body, this is what Islam teaches.
“The reason I sacrifice my time and give Chanda too is because it helps me keep connected, grounded and I feel my relationship with Allah develops as a result of sacrificing those things that I value – this is an Islamic teaching of course. The Jamaat doesn’t need my money at all.”
Memoona Rajput, master’s degree student in biomedical science from Belgium expressed:
“As humans, we tend to forget our purpose in life and get carried away in worldly matters. We, as Ahmadi Muslims, are very blessed to have an institution like Khilafat, which reminds us of the greater purpose of life, which is to worship God and serve mankind.
“Khilafat has helped me build a stronger relationship with God and reminded me constantly to be kind to His creation. During my studies, it wasn’t always easy to make time for the Jamaat. However, whenever I sacrificed time to serve the Jamaat, God blessed me in numerous ways and eased the struggles I was facing. Khilafat not only teaches and encourages me to follow the good morals that Islam promotes, but gives me inner peace and strength to be a confident Ahmadi Muslim woman in Western society.”
Hamoudi Hani Odeh, a secondary school student from Kababir said:
“I am an Ahmadi because of the seamless connection with Allah. Khilafat helps remind us and updates us on how to practice Islam in a dynamic and practical way – the way the Holy Prophetsa taught. The connection of brotherhood within Islam Ahmadiyyat is also amazing. For example, last year, we had Atfal [Ahmadi youth aged 7-15] visit us here and we connected with one another. So it helps understand other people from different backgrounds by doing activities with them.”
Asad Saleem, a civil engineer from the UK said:
“Ahmadiyyat has provided me with a coherent and logical set of beliefs, which fit in with the world I see, and are completely in tune with science and other fields. Thus, I find no contradiction between my faith and modern-day advances in knowledge, but I find them happily coexisting in their own spheres.
“Another important differentiating factor for me between Ahmadiyyat and other versions of Islam is Khilafat, as a result of which I am part of a united community that is divinely led by a person appointed by Allah. There is no one else in the Islamic world who can say that Allah has appointed them to this status. Also, I have been fortunate enough to have had personal interactions with Huzooraa and these have only increased me in my faith.
“My faith also helps me fulfil my true purpose in life and gain nearness to Allah the Almighty by continually reminding me that this life is temporary and that the true purpose of one’s creation lies in the Hereafter. Thus, it encourages me to be the best version of myself. Without Ahmadiyyat, I would simply be lost.”
Harris Dogar, a Jamia Ahmadiyya UK student, spoke about Chanda and said:
“Allah mentions in the Holy Quran, ‘You cannot attain righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love; and whatever you spend, Allah surely knows it.’ So, after all, we try to seek Allah’s pleasure, right? And paying Chanda is one form of it. What the Jamaat does is that it spends our financial contributions in the way of Allah, be it through spreading the message of Islam or helping the needy in developing countries, taking care of their health and education and providing them food and clothes.”
Adnan Ahmad, an investor from the UK said the following about Chanda:
“I pay chanda because I feel it goes towards good initiatives; mosques are built throughout the world so that you are never too far away from somewhere to pray. There are also other initiatives like Jalsa Salana or our annual Khuddam gatherings, which are great opportunities for us to connect with our peers, learn and gain new perspectives.”
Lubna Waheed, master’s in pharmacy, UK, told us:
“I can safely say that being an Ahmadi Muslim is what defines my identity. It is something that I refer to consciously and subconsciously in every aspect of my life. Islam is a way of life for me and it gives me structure and guidance to what I want to achieve from this world; the most important thing is my connection with Allah. I am now 26 years old and in my entire life, through every difficult time, I have only found solace in my prayers to my Almighty and during all my happy moments I have always found myself thanking Him alone.
“I have been very blessed to have grown up with Khilafat close to me. My passion for wanting to pursue my waqf [life service for Islam Ahmadiyyat] to the best of my ability comes from seeing how much Khalifatul Masihaa does for this Jamaat and its members.
“Being able to attend many classes with Huzooraa and having the many opportunities to gain the love of Khilafat, for me, it is about now trying to put this love that I have in my heart for Huzooraa towards hard work for the Jamaat, such as giving it my best, whenever I have been assigned to any Jamaat role and trying to instil this love and passion for the Jamaat naturally in my son and children to come insha-Allah.
“Chanda to me is also one way in which you can serve the Jamaat. This financial sacrifice can sometimes be challenging, but I personally have seen so many blessings in giving Chanda, some of which are so incredible that I will forever hold those memories close to my heart.
“It is one of those moments that God Himself really shows the true essence of the Jamaat by rewarding you for your financial sacrifices. After seeing the rewards on many occasions, my true desire to make money is so that I can pay my Chanda. In my humble opinion, the Jamaat is so rich with Allah’s blessings that even if there was no Chanda, then this Jamaat would continue to flourish. It is in fact an honour to pay Chanda.”
Noushaba Mubarak, Bachelor of Arts, UK, said:
“Having been born and lived almost my entire life in Pakistan, I can very clearly say that Khilafat has guided me at every step of my life. The main source of guidance I’ve received from Khilafat is through the Sermons delivered by beloved Huzooraa, the various classes shown on MTA and letters.
“In my childhood, I remember very vividly that the entire village in Pir Kot Sani would gather together to watch the weekly Friday Sermons. Thus, I am grateful that I have received guidance from Huzooraa in every sphere of my life.
“I pay Chanda to gain the blessings of Allah, as the Holy Quran on many occasions states that to gain God’s blessing, we must spend out of that which He has provided for us. My personal philosophy, which I endeavour and continue to pursue, is that the more I can help others, the more I feel like I am fulfilling the rights of Allah and rights of man.
“I see that through our financial sacrifices we are able to establish hospitals, schools, water wells, mosques and other recourses to help mankind.
Manahil Malik, bachelor’s in biomedical science, UK, explained:
“Islam Ahmadiyyat helps me understand the Quran in a better way – especially in today’s world. It helps put Islam into prospective and guides at every step, in accordance with the Quran and sunnah.
“I see around myself Muslims who are lost and have no idea about what Islam teaches, even about the most basic of things; they have no one to guide them. We have Huzooraa at every step of the way. To understand Khilafat, imagine a dark room with no light, that’s what the world is for every individual who hasn’t yet been blessed with Khilafat. Now imagine a lantern in that very room. It is the same place, but two very different situations – the latter is what Khilafat is for me.
“At every step of my life – education, career or marriage – my guide has been Khilafat and I cannot imagine my life without it. I have always had Khilafat, alhamdolillah, through which I have found solace and peace in every anguish and difficulty.
“Raising a child, today, is probably the most challenging of things for a Muslim mother, but with the guidance of Khilafat, it becomes much easier. Then there is our community; our children not only have a sense of belonging, but we, as parents, know that we are not alone and that at every step of the way, we have our Khalifa.
Aizaz Khan, a Missionary in Canada said:
“Someone once asked Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh what the greatest miracle of the Promised Messiahas was. Despite the countless academic, empirical, medical and scientific proofs one can present to demonstrate his truthfulness, Huzoorrh responded by looking at the members of the Jamaat and said ‘You are! The creation of such a Godly community, sacrificing everything in the way of Allah in an age of materialism, living a different life as if they are living on an island in the whole world, is the greatest miracle of the Promised Messiahas.’
“At some point, everyone needs to determine what side of the truth they stand on. One of the main reasons I have such strong faith in Ahmadiyyat is that this community has stood the test of time. Time is the greatest proof of truth and time itself has proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, that our Jamaat is a divine community that cannot be affected by any worldly elements. Ahmadiyyat itself is a life-changing and transformative force,
“Reflect over this example: There was an Ahmadi Missionary in Africa who was debating with another Muslim. He presented numerous arguments from the Holy Quran and hadith, proving why Ahmadiyyat was truthful, but nothing seemed to convince the other Muslim. After exhausting any and all academic proofs, the missionary said to him, ‘Let’s do a little experiment. You knock on the house of every non-Ahmadi family and I’ll do the same with every Ahmadi household and let’s determine how over the past two to three generations, who has fared better and whose conditions have worsened over time.’ The other Muslim thought about this and then finally accepted defeat, saying that he now realised the true power of Ahmadiyyat.
“Sometimes, it takes generations for people to finally realise what side of the truth they stand on. We Ahmadi Muslims are blessed to have recognised the Promised Messiahas.”
Ibn Rasheed, a writer from the UK explained:
“As an Ahmadi Muslim in my 20s belonging to a Jamaat with a Khalifa, I always have consistent guidance, reassurance about Islam’s future and the ability to spend my time, wealth and efforts in helping spread the true peaceful teachings of Islam.
“The fact is many young Muslims are disillusioned and confused about their faith and the hostility towards it by others. So, they react by joining extremist groups and ruining their lives. But because we as a community have a clear focus and direction.
“We are involved in planning inter-faith events, spiritual gatherings and marathon walks, among so many other things. Having the opportunity to help organise these functions gives us a strong grounding for the future. It means the Chanda or donations we give to the community are going towards events, schemes and projects for our own spiritual and moral development and to inform others about what true Islamic principles really are. What better way is there than to spend your wealth in the path of God?
“One’s adolescence is a delicate and vulnerable time, but no Ahmadi has ever been radicalised because from the very beginning, we’re taught how to respond peacefully, how to entrust our affairs to Allah and exert our efforts to invite people to the way of God.
“If I didn’t belong to this Jamaat I would be as wayward and lost as the next person.”
Rana Qasid Rehman, a student of philosophy and ethics from the UK expressed:
“Ahmadiyyat has taught me everything I know about the pure form of Islam that the Holy Prophetsa taught. It can be often taken for granted the extent that Ahmadiyyat gives insight into the true Islam. Ahmadiyyat has reformed the condition of mankind and given youth, like myself, the ability to practice the selflessness that Islam prescribes.
“Khilafat to me is more than a figurehead of a community. The importance of Khilafat cannot be put into words. It can only be recognised through experience. As a young Ahmadi, I often find myself at odds against the world and its pressures, yet, I never feel weak or alone. The power and comfort of having the unwavering leadership of a divine leader for generations to come always powers me through.
“I have only spoken briefly of the benefits of the Khalifa and why he, to me, is the most important role model I have today. But, in essence, Khilafat taught me the correct way of Islam.
“It would be unfair to condense Chanda to subscription or a payment. For me, Chanda is one way that I am reminded of the important things in life. Chanda reminds me that the worldly importance of money is only limited to this world. The spiritual benefits supersede the monetary value. That is what I pay my Chanda.”
Raneem Jahangeer, bachelor’s in law, UK, said:
“Seeing the success of the jamaat and having an unexplainable love for the Khalifa has always been my strongest reason for believing in Ahmadiyyat being the true Islam. Whenever you go meet the Khalifa or write him a letter, the love, wisdom and attention he gives you is unbelievable. At times of struggle or difficulty, you can go to the Khalifa and his answer would give you immediate relief and you would feel in your heart that his words are from Allah.
“I pay chanda as a sacrifice to Allah the Almighty and to gain his pleasure and blessings. I pay it as a sacrifice because I know any sacrifice I make, no matter how small, in the name of Allah and his Jamaat, my spiritual development would improve through the act of financial sacrifice.
“Since reading the Promised Messiah’s, peace be upon him, books this past month, I’ve noticed more and more how compatible the Quran is with the teaching of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat and when I read how other Muslims have interpreted the words of the Quran, I feel grateful for being a part of this Jamaat.”
There are millions of Ahmadi youth who feel the same. The sentiments articulated here were just a drop from the ocean.
The revival of Islam and the world at large begs for God to choose a Khilafa on earth. Ahmadi Muslims have recognised that Khalifa and the Prophet he represents.
No matter how fierce the persecution is or how much anti-Ahmadiyya rhetoric is pushed, the world will witness generations of Ahmadi youth who will be unshakeable in their faith, insha-Allah.