Opinion – Encouraging reading among members of Jamaat: Some observations

Nauman Hadi, Mohtamim Ishaat, MKA UK

The London Book Fair ended recently with tens of thousands of people visiting and hundreds of companies from the publishing industry, from all around the world, exhibiting. A simple walk around the Fair will tell you that these people are passionate about books and about what they are trying to convey through them.

Indeed over 100 years ago it was the Promised Messiahas too who, in relation to Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, prayed that people read a book that would set the foundation for the revival of Islam (of course the writings of a prophet are peerless and can never be compared to other books). Now we know that in those humble pages were prophecies that would change the course of history. So naturally, when the Promised Messiahas was so hopeful yet there was barely any interest, his heart was greatly aggrieved, and when he reached the farthest limit of human worry and—as he himself describes—owing to this grief, he trembled like the newly germinated plant in the wind, did God’s succour descend. A major aspect of the Promised Messiah’sas prophetic mission can be found in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. So great it is that when it was published a man who later became a vicious opponent commented that a book like this had never before been published in Islam’s history.

It has been over a century now since the establishment of the Jamaat and with this particular Jamaat comes a colossal literary legacy—in other words, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has published a monumental amount of literature since 1889—something that continues even today. The community dedicates significant resources to publishing literature and has offices here at the markaz as well as worldwide that translate and publish books in multiple languages.

However, despite the availability of a vast collection of books, in my opinion, there is huge room for improvement in terms of encouraging reading. The Ishaat department conducted a survey a few years ago, before embarking on our own quest to publish. The survey results showed that a significant number of people are not regular readers, with over half reading very little. However, we are hopeful that by the grace of Allah, through our continuous humble efforts, we can encourage more people to read, including the books of the Promised Messiahas. We have also spotted another trend that relates directly to the Jamaat: those that do read, even if it is rarely, very quickly become attached to the Promised Messiah’sas writings and soon find themselves immersed in a world that they did not know existed previously. We certainly need to encourage more of this. It is always interesting to meet someone who is well-read in the Promised Messiah’sas writings. To describe these books as life-changing is, to say the least.

Returning to the London Book Fair, one observation the khuddam in the Ishaat team made is that the people here make their living from books. For them whether their books sell or not is a make-or-break thing: their livelihoods depend on this. That is indeed true, and I have heard this argument many times before. However, is our passion for tabligh not greater than their desire to make money? Should it be? It all comes down to the simple question that we have to ask ourselves: how far are we willing to go to promote our books and ensure the voice of the Promised Messiahas reaches the corners of our country?

It is for this reason that this year the MKA UK Ishaat department, under the guidance of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa will be looking to add more books to our list of publications that have become a Sunday Times Bestseller. We are incredibly fortunate to have received continuous guidance from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa on this.

We are looking to publish extensively. On all topics and for everyone. We would like to hear what interests you, what books have you read that had an effect on you? What type of literature would you like to see more of? We would greatly appreciate your feedback. In the end, the message of the Promised Messiahas shall reach the corners of the earth, this is something that has been destined by God Almighty. The question is whether we want to gain any reward for our humble efforts.

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