Hazrat Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan leads historic du‘a at UN

    Bilal Rana, USA
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    “UN General Assembly is hushed during moment of prayer at opening.” Standing in the distance in the middle of the stage leading the assembly is Hazrat Chaudhary Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra. | Courtesy of Central Press Association/King Features Syndicate (with permission)

    Hazrat Chaudhary Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra, who served as Pakistan’s first foreign minister, was a highly regarded statesman, jurist, and diplomat from the Muslim world during the Cold War era. Being a prominent Ahmadi Muslim, he proudly demonstrated the authentic values of Islam to the world.

    A unique page of history is found in 1963, when, despite the prevailing trend of accomplished men shying away from their faith, this Ahmadi Muslim stood tall, asking nations to join him in silent prayer at the commencement of the UN General Assembly. Hazrat Sir Zafrulla Khanra, as the President of the UN General Assembly, led the delegates in a prayer known as “du‘a”. During the opening of the Eighteenth Regular Session of the General Assembly, he said:

    “I declare open the Eighteenth Regular Session of the General Assembly. I request representatives to stand and observe one minute of silent prayer or meditation.”

    Following the announcement, all the delegates rose and stood together in quiet solemnity, setting a serious and honourable tone for the purposes for which they gathered.

    Collective du‘a is a tradition traced to the Prophet Muhammadsa to seek guidance, protection, and forgiveness from God Almighty before any important work. It is harmonising such that members of all faiths can join to pray in their own private way or simply to observe a moment of pensive silence.

    This press photo captures that novel moment in the history of the UN when, in 1963, delegates from around the world rose to their feet for the first time in prayer. The 1960s marked a tumultuous and delicate time. The world was in the throes of a nuclear arms race and saw a sudden rise in global political protests and civil rights movements. It was against this sobering background that a faithful companion of the Promised Messiahas reminded the world to invoke God before drafting resolutions that shape our future.

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