Ahmadi women should raise their voices against repressive hijab laws: Lajna members of Sweden meet Hazrat Khalifatul Masih

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On 21 November 2021, Ahmadi women from Lajna Imaillah Sweden were blessed with a virtual meeting with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa in which they had the opportunity to interact with and pose questions to Huzooraa.  

The meeting started with a recitation from the Holy Quran by Barira Ahmad Sahiba and the Urdu translation of the verses was read by Jasia Rehman Sahiba while the Swedish translation was read by Kanza Rehman Sahiba. A qasidah written by the Promised Messiahas was then recited by Sharjeela Chaudhary Sahiba.

Lajna members were then given the opportunity to ask their questions to Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa

The first question was about the importance of protecting the environment and how Jamaat events should be environmentally friendly. 

On this subject, Huzooraa said:

“First, generally you should try to use recycled products. At Jamaat events – ijtemasjalsas etc. – there are hygiene teams too. It is their duty to keep the area hygienic and they should also take care of the environment and atmosphere of that area too […] They should separate plastics etc. for recycling […]” 

Huzooraa said recycling bins that were provided by the government should be used at Jamaat events and the rubbish needed to be sorted accordingly so that it was disposed of in a proper manner. “It is our responsibility to keep the environment clean – not to create rubbish.” However, even some Lajna members at Jamaat events create rubbish by throwing litter onto the floor instead of the dustbin, or by giving children disposable cups etc. to play with from which they create mess by ripping them up and throwing the bits everywhere, Huzooraa noted. 

To educate Lajna, Nasirat and children about littering, it was essential to counter these negative habits, Huzooraa said. The litter thrown at Jamaat events should be collected by allocated teams who pick it up and then dispose of it in a proper manner, including using recycling bins. 

Tooba Malik Sahiba’s question was on free will. She asked Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa to what extent humans made decisions without the direct interference of Allah. 

Huzooraa said:

“Allah the Almighty has given free will. Allah is Aleem – He has knowledge of everything. He has knowledge of what Tooba has done at this moment and what she will do after one hour, one year and after 10 years – this is Allah’s knowledge.”

Huzooraa said that Allah had given instructions in the Holy Quran of the dos and don’ts for humanity and within its free will, humanity was to act on those instructions – whether doing something or avoiding something. Humans had free will in how they acted and the deeds they carried out. Huzooraa highlighted that in developed countries even vices were seen as positive “morals” and there was a difference between what religion taught and what society accepted as acceptable and moral. The very definition of “morals” had changed. 

Allah had the knowledge of how a person would act and knew if the person would repent for their sins in the future, Huzooraa said. However, we do not know if Allah will forgive us – this isn’t something that we can decide and is the will of Allah alone. 

Huzooraa continued:

 “To say, ‘As Allah knows what will ultimately happen to us, that is why we should not do good deeds’, or, ‘We should carry out bad deeds and it will not matter’, is wrong. On the one hand is God Almighty’s knowledge and on the other hand are our actions. We are to take action in order to please Allah. And what actions are we to take? That, Allah has told a Muslim in the Holy Quran – ‘These things are what you should do and these are what you should avoid.’ You are to believe in Allah, believe in prophets, follow the commandments of Allah, offer Namaz; Allah has given the commandment of fasting and there are lots of other instructions in the Holy Quran. For example, the commandment of purdah for women – to wear the hijab, to cover your head, chest and to keep your gazes low etc. 

“This commandment is for men too – to keep their eyes low and not to stare and look at women. Before women, men are instructed first to ‘keep your gazes low too’ and to develop modesty within yourself and not become immodest.”

If people did not listen to these commandments, then Allah has the power to punish. However, “Allah is the One Who forgives”, and He can forgive anyone He likes in the end, Huzooraa emphasised. And this “knowledge” was Allah’s alone. 

Sameen Ahmad Sahiba asked what the Holy Quran meant by the “seven Heavens”. Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said that the visible “sky” we observed was not the only sky; rather, there were layers and these layers also extended to outside the earth’s atmosphere into space. Huzooraa said “Don’t think this is the only ‘space’ – there are lots of other skies. The universe, or universes rather, of Allah the Almighty are spread wide and far.” 

Siwa Hayat Sahiba asked how a person could feel they were close to Allah. Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said:

“Pray to Allah. When you begin to sincere humility and fervency in your prayers and feel a connection with Allah the Almighty”, along with prostrating before Him and fearing Him, then “this means your steps towards [a close connection with Allah] are being taken.” 

Huzooraa said that with age, a true believer begins to have different experiences with Allah and develops in their relationship and closeness with Him. “First, say your Namaz in such a manner that you begin to enjoy offering Namaz. If you hastily offer your prayers, then this won’t develop a relationship with God.” 

Huzooraa gave an example to emphasise the point. Huzooraa said that if someone went to meet a friend but quickly met them without any real conversation or even sitting with them and then hastily left, then such a person would not be considered a good friend. Huzooraa continued:

“True friends are those who sit in each other’s company and share joys and sorrows with each other. In the same vein, to develop your relationship with Allah, He has instructed to ‘offer prayers, fulfil the purpose of life – worship’. And the first step for this is to create such a condition within yourself during Namaz that you know your connection with Allah is developing and He is listening to you.”

Addressing Siwa Sahiba, Huzooraa said, “Today, in your Namaz, pray with great humility and fervour.”

Khulood Ahmad Sahiba asked Huzooraa about his view on the possibility of humans living on Mars. She quoted a verse from the Holy Quran (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.26) in which Allah declared the following about the earth, “‘Therein shall you live, and therein shall you die, and therefrom shall you be brought forth.’” Khulood Sahiba asked if, in light of this verse, humans could still live on Mars. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said the verse meant that human existence depended on the sustenance and atmospheric conditions found on Earth, even if humans went into space. “Even when you go to space, you take food and drink from the earth itself”. Huzooraa said that those who went into space took provisions from Earth first – oxygen, water, food etc. and were able to live in space due to these provisions. Therefore this verse meant that humans would always need provisions and sustenance that was found on earth for their existence – whether in space or not. 

Aisha Rahman Sahiba asked if dentists could do waqf – temporary life sacrifice – for the Jamaat. Huzooraa said it was certainly possible and there was a need too. Huzooraa said there were Ahmadi dentists who did waqf and were in service. Huzooraa asked Aisha Sahiba if, as a dentist, she would be ready to go to Africa for waqf; Aisha Sahiba said she would, insha-Allah

Another member said that Islam permitted marrying cousins; however, Swedes considered inter-cousin marriages to be wrong and said they caused children to be born with disabilities and illnesses. She asked Huzooraa what reply could be given in such a case. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said:

“They don’t have inter-family marriages, right? Then what are the reasons for disabled children born into their families? They give birth to children who are disabled too, right? If, in our inter-cousin marriages, out of hundreds of thousands, there is a child born who is disabled, then these people give birth to even more children who are disabled, comparatively speaking. But they don’t get married within the family, so why are there so many children who are disabled? Ask them to give their proof first and why so many of their children were born disabled [despite not marrying cousins]? […] 

“Islam says it is permissible [to marry cousins], but does not say it is mandatory. And such negative effects come into play after inter-cousin marriages occur [within the same family] generations after generations.”

Huzooraa said that though there was a higher risk within families who married within the same family for generations, there were many families on the other hand who had no number of disabled children being born, even though they married within the same family for generations. 

Huzooraa said those who raised allegations against Islam for allowing inter-family marriages should first prove their own marriages to be any safer. There should be accurate data presented, Huzooraa said.

Saliha Mehmood Sahiba said the European Union passed a law through which an employer could fire an employee who wore the hijab, without giving any reason. Saliha Sahiba asked for Huzoor’s advice in such a situation. 

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa started by saying:

“Voices are being raised against this law. If an employer can do this, then it is against human rights. Tomorrow, if they say to a Jewish man that he cannot wear the kippah on his head, or to a Sikh that they cannot wear a turban, then they are denying their rights. That is why this law is completely wrong.”

Advising Ahmadi women on what to do if an employer fired them because they wore the hijab, Huzooraa said:

“You pledge that ‘I will keep my faith above the world’. If you cannot get a job where the hijab is not allowed – i.e. you cannot get the job until you take off the hijab – then leave that job. A person should keep their faith above the world – this is your pledge, right?”

Huzooraa said voices needed to be raised and legal action and lobbying should take place against laws that banned the hijab. The laws parliaments passed were not always correct and many laws had later been repealed by governments themselves, Huzooraa said. 

“Voices will be raised against this and a time will come when such laws will be repealed.”

Huzooraa said it was the duty of Ahmadis to raise voices against repressive laws against the hijab and, as a result of these voices, if the laws were not repealed today, then in the future they would be and, in turn, benefit future generations.

Huzooraa said:

“On the one hand, they talk about ‘human rights’ and on the other, they deny the Islamic rights of women. Write about this in newspapers. Ahmadi women should write about this – write in Swedish newspapers and in other European newspapers too, wherever they [Ahmadi women] are from: I have instructed this before. Write in Swedish newspapers, that ‘you violate human rights yourselves by passing such laws’.” 

Huzooraa said that it was an injustice and “waste of potential” when an employer fired a very capable and talented woman who was a scientist or doctor for example, only because she wore the hijab. 

“It is the question of stripping away the rights of a very capable mind”, Huzooraa noted. 

Therefore, Ahmadi women should write about such laws and “raise their voices” as this was an effective means of creating change in these societies. 

Alia Chaudhary Sahiba said she watched the “Moon of the Prophets” documentary (made by Syed Taalay Ahmad Shaheed for MTA News) and that she enjoyed listening to the voices of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra and Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra MA. Alia Sahiba said that she came to know that Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra had recorded the voice of Hazrat Amma Janra– the noble wife of the Promised Messiahas – and wanted to know if that recording would ever be available to listen to. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said:

“We don’t know where that recording is – even I haven’t heard that recording, so how can I enable you to listen to it? We don’t know where it went; was the tape lost or not, Allah knows better. However someone else wrote this to me as well and I am getting research done on it – when and where it was recorded, who had it, where it went etc. But to date I haven’t found any trace of it. Nonetheless, we are searching for it.” 

Atia Rashid Sahiba asked how a Christian – who had followed Christianity their whole life – could accept that Islam was true. Huzooraa said:

“Do you want to forcefully convince them? When have we said to forcefully make them Muslim? 

“We are to present the beauties of Islam before them – the religious teachings of Islam – that ‘Christianity says this, and Islam says this’.” Huzooraa said to tell them about the prophecies of Jesusas and Mosesas that Christians believed in and were written in the Torah and the Bible.  Huzooraa said there were lots of practising Christians who accepted the prophecies made about the Holy Prophetsa in the Bible and that they came true. 

If someone accepted those prophecies, then well and good. However, the Holy Quran clearly instructed that “there is no compulsion in religion” and never instructed Muslims to forcefully convert anyone to Islam, Huzooraa stressed. Historically, Islam never forcefully converted people and the wars fought were not for conversions. “Faith is a matter of the heart”, Huzooraa said. “We cannot forcefully change someone’s heart”. 

Huzooraa noted there was a large number of practising Christians in Africa – in fact, in Africa, Christians were more practising than those in Europe. Many of these practising Christians in Africa were accepting Islam Ahmadiyyat. Huzooraa said, “Our early Ahmadis in West Africa all became Ahmadis from Christianity.”

That said, Islam never forced someone to convert; rather, the Holy Quran instructed Muslims to protect and defend the churches of Christians and the synagogues of Jews and other places of worship. 

“We are to convince others with arguments. If someone accepts due to the arguments given, then that is fine, they will accept Islam. But if they don’t understand the arguments, they can continue to believe in their faith. Allah has said, ‘You can believe in your faith’ […] However, Allah the Almighty has said, and it is written in the Holy Quran, ‘Say to the People of the Book that we should unite on one thing – and that is Allah the Almighty. Unite on the existence of Allah and do not commit shirk [associate partners with Allah] […]”

Huzooraa said there was, however, no compulsion in faith:

“It is clear that Islam is most definitely the true religion because every prophet gave prophecies about its advent and the prophecies are coming true and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, is the last law-bearing prophet and the Holy Quran is the last law. This is completely true and the Quran has declared it; however, along with this, the Quran has said that you are not allowed to forcefully make someone a Muslim. Yes, present arguments and as a result, convert them to Islam.”

Naima Iram Sahiba said that in a previous virtual meeting, Huzooraa said all Ahmadis should pray for the prophecy of the sun rising from the West to be fulfilled (Al Hakam, 29 October 2021, p. 1, www.alhakam.org/students-of-western-canada-meet-with-huzoor/). She wanted to know whether the presence of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya in the West for the last 37 years was a fulfilment of this prophecy given by the Holy Prophetsa

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said:

“It is a fulfilment in one way – Islam’s teachings are spreading in the West and Khilafat is here. This would be a personal view and it is acceptable; there is no harm in believing this. […] However this [prophecy] also points to when huge numbers of Westerners will accept Islam. And when these people accept Islam – like what happened during the time of the Romans where the king accepted Christianity – then Islam’s teachings will quickly spread across the world. 

“Where we should pray for this, we should also preach and show our examples so that these people, those who live in the West, understand religion and accept it. And when they accept it, then in the East, West, South and North, Islam’s teachings will begin to spread quickly, insha-Allah

“And the meaning which you have said is also okay; there is no harm in it. You can believe in this meaning too.”

Addressing Naima Sahiba, Huzooraa also said, “Masha-Allah, you have done very good purdah.”

Next, a waqifa-e-nau sought guidance from Huzooraa with regard to what particular subjects waqifaat-e-nau teachers should teach. Huzooraa said:

“You can become whatever teacher you like […] We need primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, college teachers, university teachers – you can go into any field that you are interested in. […] The ‘special subject’ should just be that you have a connection with Allah the Almighty. Apart from this, you can study whatever you prefer.” 

Maria Shahid Sahiba said that those children who were not in the Waqf-e-Nau scheme would always be told to acquire a good education and then they would be able to serve the Jamaat in the future. She wanted to know how those who could not acquire a good education and were neither in the Waqfe-e-Nau scheme, could serve in the Jamaat.

Huzooraa said:

“We do not even take the waqifeen-e-nau who do not acquire an education”. Huzooraa said that the Jamaat needed highly educated waqifeen-e-nau. However, those Ahmadis who could not acquire a high education and go on to serve the Jamaat should study religion, offer prayers properly, understand the Holy Quran and when a Lajna member got married, they should carry out a proper upbringing of their children. Huzooraa said:

“This is the task of a non-waqif-e-nau and a waqif-e-nau. This is the greatest responsibility.”

If one had not gained high education, then at least there was no obstacle in developing a strong connection with Allah the Almighty and then raising their children as true believers, Huzooraa stressed. 

Another Lajna pointed out that society cared about those with physical and apparent illnesses but those with mental disorders were not cared for. Huzooraa said that everyone with mental illnesses or health problems should be taken care of and treated properly. Those who did not care for such illnesses acted in a completely incorrect manner, Huzoor said. 

A Lajna member asked Huzooraa if he could share a childhood memory with them.  In response, with a smile, Huzooraa remarked:

“I have forgotten my childhood memories. I don’t keep my childhood memories in mind like you people do. […] 

“Anyhow, when our elders are mentioned, some memories come back. For example, going out with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, sitting with him and sometimes listening to him when he spoke with people, the subjects of which I cannot recall.”

Huzooraa said that once, his grandfather, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Sharif Ahmadra (who was the youngest son of the Promised Messiahas) took him to meet Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. When they reached the house, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Sharif Ahmadra first took permission to meet Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. Huzooraa said they entered and Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra sat on the floor during the conversation and when leaving, out of respect, he exited the room without turning his back to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra. Huzooraa said Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra showed this respect to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra even though they were brothers. These aspects of tarbiyat were etched in Huzoor’s mind as a child. 

Another memory with Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra was when he would teach Huzooraa how to read the Holy Quran. Huzooraa said that without looking at the Quran itself, Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra would correct his pronunciation etc. This showed how much he knew the Holy Quran, even though Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra had not memorised the Quran.  

Huzooraa said that unlike elders today, Hazrat Mirza Sharif Ahmadra, who was his grandfather, would first seek permission from Huzoor’saa mother if he ever wanted to take Huzooraa somewhere. He would not take his grandchild without first seeking the permission of the child’s mother. Huzooraa said that today, grandfathers and grandmothers just take their grandchildren with them and no one knows where they have gone. “Those elders did not do such things”. 

Kashifa Sahiba said there was a debate about the theory of evolution in her class. Her teacher said that most religious people did not believe in evolution. Kashifa Sahiba wanted to know the Islamic view on evolution and how to explain it to others. Huzooraa said:

“Humans did go through evolution. We do not believe Darwin’s theory, however, that [humans] were insects or monkeys etc. and from them humans came into existence.” Huzooraa said that humans had their own line of development that was completely distinct from that of monkeys and other animals. Humans had different forms in the past but they had their own line of evolution separate from other animals. Huzooraa said that as Muslims, we accepted evolution and that “evolution is still taking place”. 

Another Lajna member asked Huzooraa if he had ever experienced Laylat-ul-Qadr (the night of decree). In response Huzooraa said:

“[…] At times it seems Laylat-ul-Qadr has taken place while praying – sometimes Allah the Almighty creates such a condition […] There are many occasions where it seems it took place. Those days in which a special condition for prayer manifests, that is Laylat-ul-Qadr. Sometimes you feel that it is taking place.”

Fiza Iram Sahiba then came to the mic to ask her question. On seeing her, Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa remarked, “Masha-Allah, you have done very good purdah.” Fiza Sahiba asked about children being taught about inappropriate subjects at a young age in school and wanted advice in this regard. Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said:

“Yes, there are topics which they are beginning to teach from childhood now – LGBT etc. These things are wrong and there is no need to teach young children about them either. When children mature, if you want to tell them about it, then do so, but when a child is only 5 or 6, to tell them about” different relationships and choosing their own genders etc. is wrong.  

Huzooraa said that Ahmadi parents should befriend their children and openly discuss with them about what they were taught in school and the reality. Huzooraa said:

“Children have common sense themselves too and are surprised sometimes to hear what they are told. For example, a mother told me that her 5-year-old daughter was asked by her school teacher to fill a form that asked, ‘Tell me what your gender is’. The girl started to laugh and said, ‘Doesn’t she know I am a girl?’ […]

“Therefore, mothers should befriend their children and from childhood, inform them that ‘some things are wrong and in your age, at the moment, are not suitable to discuss. When your age is right, you will realise yourself or we will tell you’. And the older girls – who are 12-14 – you should openly talk to and inform them [about these matters] so they know what is right and wrong. Parents do not need to be shy with these things. And if the parents are not very educated, then older siblings should explain these matters – sisters should tell sisters and brothers should tell brothers how to stay protected from these things and what is wrong.

“This is how you can counter such things – by forging such a relationship with your children that they share what happened in school with you.” Through dialogue, parents could teach children what was right and wrong and there was no need to shy away from such topics, Huzooraa advised. 

At this, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said to Sadr AMWSA Sweden, Maria Chaudhary Sahiba  that time had finished and that the students had asked a lot of questions. The sadr thanked Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa for his time and the meeting came to a close. 

(Please note that the report prepared above by Al Hakam is a summary and does not intend to cover every detail of the event) 

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