Opinion: Beacon for the Youth: A running commentary on life by Khulafa of Ahmadiyyat

Nauman Hadi, Mohtamim Ishaat, MKA UK
Beacon for the Youth

Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya UK has had the good fortune of publishing the English translation of Mashal-e-Rah, officially entitled Beacon for the Youth by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa. For those that don’t know, Mashal-e-Rah is a collection of addresses and writings on Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya delivered by the Khulafa of Ahmadiyyat from the inception of the Majlis in 1938 to our time. The words of each Khalifatul Masih have been collected into a volume, the first volume comprises the blessed words of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and this is the volume that has been translated and published. 

Mashal-e-Rah is special and unique. It is a treatise on nation-building and is bound to motivate the reader. Since Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya revolves around the development of the youth, it is especially beneficial for Khuddam and Atfal. The words of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra have a magnificent effect – every syllable greatly stimulates one toward action and pushes one towards a solid determination to act on the commands of the Khalifa of the time.

Beacon for the Youth Volume I covers the initial years of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya from 1938 to 1942. These were the years in which great nations across the world were being aroused by extremist ideologies that promised a better future for the human race. It is against this backdrop that the then Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community established an organisation designed to ensure that the Jamaat continues to act on the teachings of Islam. Through his enduring efforts and exemplary leadership, the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community created a lasting legacy of peace that would see the youth take charge of the banner of true Islam from their elders and, in time, pass it on to their future generations. More than 80 years later, how great was the vision of the Khalifa!

With whatever intention you pick up Mashal-e-Rah, you are bound to find something to your taste – it will answer your questions. For example, the current cost of living crisis has not only gripped our world but has also laid bare the stark division between caring for the poor and the wealthy. Trickle-down economics is a vicious type of capitalism, it forces the poor to rely on the goodwill of the wealthy to boost the economy. In Mashal-e-Rah Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra discusses how the financial condition of a country can improve. It is interesting to note that Huzoorra not only bases his arguments on Quranic principles and the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, but also on sound economic practice.

For example, we all know about the hadith in which a man came to the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and asked him for charity. The Holy Prophetsa gave him some money. However, the man continued to ask for more, with the Holy Prophetsa gracing him with something each time. When the man asked for the third or fourth time, the Holy Prophetsa said: 

“Should I not tell you what is better than this asking? It is that you earn through your labour and then eat the fruits of your labour.” 

In many ways, this short incident encapsulates the entire economic outlook that is presented by Islam: On the one hand, you have the Holy Prophetsa giving a needy person some money, or in other words, you have a welfare state. On the other hand, when it is felt that perhaps the one asking for help can live a more dignified life, the advice is given to earn a living through one’s hard work. This is the reverse side of the welfare state, where each individual contributes to the economy and supports himself as well through his effort. 

The problem with Thatcherite politics is that, whereas it does promote the second instance of working hard and building a better future for yourself, it does little to support those that are unable to carry out this work. In other words, it does not strike the right balance. Of course, in the hadith above, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa also agreed that it is better to live a life of self-sufficiency where one does not have to permanently rely on the state, however, he said this after having thrice given money to the one asking.

In Mashal-e-Rah this has further been expounded with regard to the nizam (administrate organisation) of the Jamaat. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra did not want a single person to remain who did not have any means of income. Even in the case of widows, he advised they begin their own small craft or manufacturing businesses with the assistance of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya (who could sell these products for them), thus earning a permanent living. Huzoorra explained that only the handicapped and disabled should be those whom the community supports directly. Huzoorra stated:

“If work is found, then no excuse should be made in not undertaking it. […] It should be their [Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya’s] responsibility to find work for unemployed men. At first, this task seems to be difficult, but if they use their intelligence and develop a habit of pondering, then they can come up with such schemes that can provide work for the jobless.” (Beacon for the Youth, 2022, p. 147)

But, of course, such a course of action can only be taken by competent governance. 

The focal point of Islamic economic policy is still to ensure everyone has a job based on his or her ability. The point of contention for the unfortunate man who struck Hazrat Umarra (which later led to his martyrdom) was the price of his manumission, which Hazrat Umarra set based on the skills he possessed. The man who thrice asked the Holy Prophetsa for money and was advised to earn a living did indeed follow this advice: He proceeded to a forest, cut some wood and sold it at a market. He became increasingly wealthy from this point on.

In Mashal-e-Rah Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra has also consistently warned of the dangers of remaining idle. “Even the son of a king, if he remains idle, brings shame to his nation” declares Huzoorra. (Beacon for the Youth, 2022, p. 26) Many pages are dedicated to advising the youth to remove the thought that they are of rich heritage, and thus, cannot engage in a particular type of activity. One of the reasons for establishing the Waqar-e-Amal department, which is a hallmark of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya, in Huzoor’s own words was “The nation which becomes habituated in this, witnesses an improvement in its economic condition. Through this, the people of the nation will not become lazy. […] The greatest benefit is that religion is strengthened and slavery comes to an end.” 

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