Befriend and love your children: Members of AMWSA Germany meet Hazrat Khalifatul Masih

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On 28 November 2021, students from Lajna Imaillah Germany met Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa through a virtual mulaqat and had the opportunity to ask Huzooraa questions. 

The meeting started with a recitation from the Holy Quran by Farida Sadaf Sahiba who also read out the German translation of the verses. Aisha Ahmad Sahiba recited an Urdu poem written by the Promised Messiahas.

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa enquired from the Lajna organisers if all the Lajna members present were part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Students’ Association (AMWSA). Huzooraa was informed that everyone present was a student; however, not everyone had registered for AMWSA. Addressing the president of AMWSA, Shazia Noor Malik Sahiba, Huzooraa said that it was the task of AMWSA to register all Lajna Imaillah students into the association. To register every Lajna student AMWSA needed to start from “the grassroots level” where Lajna students from “every region, every city and every town” were registered to AMWSA, Huzooraa stressed. 

Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa then asked Shazia Malik Sahiba for what they had planned. Shazia Sahiba thanked Huzooraa for the opportunity and requested permission for the students to ask questions. 

The first question was by Maryam Malik Sahiba who was pursuing a master’s degree in Islamic studies. She quoted a hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari in which the Holy Prophetsa prohibited drawing or painting living beings. Maryam Sahiba asked whether it was permissible to draw human beings or other animals. Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said:

“According to our fiqh [jurisprudence], it is not permissible because a person cannot show those expressions and emotions etc. present in a human being through sketching by hand. Taking a picture with a camera is completely different – everything is clearly shown through it. 

“For this reason, at times, some children and mothers, with great pride, come and show me and say, ‘Look, this child made a very good drawing of you’ – or of themselves – and I say, ‘This is wrong. Destroy it and remember to never draw a picture of me’. I discourage children from doing such things. 

“For this reason, drawing someone by hand is completely wrong and should not be done.”

Huzooraa said drawing animals was permitted, but not humans. 

With regard to photographs, Huzooraa said that if photos were taken and displayed, they should be for righteous reasons – for example preaching. Other reasons for photos were also permissible such as someone’s love and respect for another, ID cards, visas and passports etc. 

Huzooraa said the Promised Messiahas said he had his photo taken because some people were able to recognise the truth of another just by looking at a photo of them – therefore this was a means of tabligh and a positive effect on people who saw his photo. The same was the case for the photos of the Khulafa of the Promised Messiahas, Huzooraa said. Ahmadis displayed photos of the Promised Messiahas and the Khulafa in their homes out of love and for opportunities of tabligh when external guests visited their homes and enquired about the photos. 

To display a revered person’s photo because it would bring “blessings” to the house or merely for decoration was wrong, Huzooraa stressed. 

Huzooraa said:

“Blessings are reaped through action – by acting on the commandments of Allah the Almighty, by worshipping Allah and by acting on the commandments of Allah’s Prophetsa […] It is then that homes are blessed”.

Huma Sarwar Sahiba asked about the tarbiyat (upbringing) of Ahmadi children. Huma Sahiba said that at times, parents disagreed on some aspects of their children’s upbringing – for example whether to include the child in the Waqf-e-Nau scheme. She asked what to do in such situations. 

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said that to include the child in the Waqf-e-Nau scheme, it was essential for both parents to agree, otherwise arguments would always break out in the house and the child would not get proper tarbiyat.  

“If the mother strongly desires for the child to be a waqf, or the father desires for the child to be a waqf [and the other parent disagrees], then carry out such an upbringing of that child that when they grow older, they do waqf themselves.” 

It was of no benefit for a child to merely acquire the title of “waqif-e-nau” and join the scheme and go on to pay no attention towards studies, prayers, acquiring religious knowledge and instead be engrossed with immoral friends and actions.  

Huzooraa said it was necessary for parents to be in mutual agreement when committing their children to the Waqf-e-Nau scheme as this would create the correct environment for the child’s upbringing. And if the parents did enter their children into the Waqf-e-Nau scheme then it was their own responsibility to carry out their child’s upbringing in a proper manner – believing it was the Jamaat’s responsibility to do all of the child’s upbringing was incorrect. Huzooraa said, “It is the responsibility of the mother and father too as the child spends most of their time at home”.

Huzooraa advised that if one parent disagreed over their child entering the Waqf-e-Nau scheme, then the parent who wanted their child to be a waqf “should conduct their tarbiyat in such a manner that the child comes out to be a beautiful flower; fragrant and beneficial. They become such an asset for the Jamaat that is beneficial.”

Mona Fatima Majoka Sahiba said that sometimes, unintentionally, a Lajna member would bring up a reference about morals or deeds etc. while exhorting others and in turn, hurt another member who thought the reference was directed at them and as a result they moved away from the Jamaat. Mona Sahiba asked Huzooraa about this situation. 

Huzooraa responded by highlighting that the Holy Prophetsa had taught, “Deeds are determined by intentions alone.” Huzooraa said that if someone (even an office-bearer) unintentionally addressed certain bad deeds and morals and a person who happened to be there possessed those bad deeds or morals and felt they were targeted, then the person who felt insulted should not take it personally as it was unintentional.

If the person highlighting the bad deeds or morals did so on purpose – with the aim of attacking someone – then Allah would deal with them. However the listeners should not think ill of others as this was a grave sin.

Huzooraa said the response should not be reactionary; rather, if a bad deed or moral was present within someone and it was being addressed, then the person should introspect and aim to get rid of it. The reaction should not be that they move away from the Jamaat, even if they had been wrongly targeted. 

Belief in Islam Ahmadiyyat was not established in someone due to an office-bearer or another person; faith was “a matter of the heart” and therefore what others did or said should not affect our faith and belief, Huzooraa stressed.

A person who talks about certain bad deeds or morals in public to target another – whether it is an office-bearer at a Jamaat meeting or someone else – will have to bear the consequences of this sin, even if what they say is true about the person they targeted. However, if the person being targeted becomes distant from religion, the Jamaat or its events due to what was said, then they will be at fault. In such a case, the accuser is sinful already, but the person who moves away from the Jamaat as a result will become sinful too.

Huzooraa counselled:

“For this reason, one should be tolerant and able to bear what others say.” 

A true believer always introspects and pursues self-improvement. Even if another points out their mistakes or bad actions, they do not take offence; rather, they seek to improve themselves for Allah the Almighty. 

If an office-bearer targeted others by naming them and aimed to disgrace and disrespect them, it was completely wrong and a senior office-bearer should explain this to them, Huzooraa said. However, generally speaking on a topic and highlighting ills is fine, without targeting anyone, as through these reminders, bad deeds and morals are eradicated. 

Huzooraa said:

“I highlight a lot of things in my sermons – I do so knowing those negative aspects are present in some members across the Jamaat‭; ‬that is why I talk about them in general. So now, should the whole Jamaat get upset and leave? They won’t leave, will they? […]”

The most important aspect to keep in mind is that “the person saying it should look at themselves first and see whether they are free from those very sins [that they are condemning] […] because Allah the Almighty has said ‘not to say that which you do not do yourself’. In the eyes of Allah, it is a huge sin to exhort others what you don’t do yourself.”

Both sides needed to pay attention to their responsibilities, Huzooraa said. The person advising should do so with good intentions and talk while keeping their own condition in mind, and their purpose should be reformation, not to hurt someone. The person listening should be tolerant and understanding and if they harboured those bad deeds or morals, they should seek to reform themselves. 

Khansa Ahmad Shahiba who was writing her master’s thesis in educational sciences and working at a children’s home asked Huzooraa about the validity of the government’s practise of separating children who were victims of cruelty and violence at home from their parents and putting them in children’s homes. She also wanted to know if the Jamaat should set up similar children’s homes. 

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said:

“Those children who face violence [at home], their parents are cruel. The government has its own law or rule: If it is proven that there is cruelty [against the children], the government will take the children away. In such a situation, we cannot do anything – we don’t have governance. We are but citizens and if we reside in a country, then we have to follow the country’s law. 

“Firstly, it is the parents’ fault – why do they commit such cruelty? They are sinful and answerable to Allah the Almighty as well. Allah gave them children – a blessing and bounty – they should take care of them, nourish them and raise them with love and affection. I have highlighted these things in my sermons and addresses many times. If you listen, you will find out how to raise children […] 

“Befriend your children, be friendly with them, be tolerant, answer their questions and show no kind of cruelty to them.”

Huzooraa said Ahmadi children in the West were affected by the modern trend and excessive focus on absolute liberalism and individual freedom, etc. Where some freedoms were positive and true, others were not. In such an environment, Ahmadi “parents should tread carefully” when raising their children, Huzooraa said.

Concerning parents who were cruel towards their children, Huzooraa said:

“If it was in the power of the Jamaat, it would most definitely punish those parents who were cruel to their children. If it was in my power, I would discipline them too. Personally, I rebuke parents a lot when these cases are presented to me.”

Huzooraa said parents who committed cruelty toward their children should realise the consequences of the government, police or social services separating their children and putting them in children’s homes. The social services had no concern over whether their child was an Ahmad Muslim, another Muslim, a Christian, or a Hindu. They would keep the children in their centres and educate them themselve.

“Today’s belief is that ‘there is no God, religion is useless and you are free to do whatever you want.’ This is ingrained into the minds of those children to such an extent that when the children leave the social centres – if they are there for a long time – they come out as atheists. They don’t believe in the existence of God.”

For this reason, parents should ponder over the fact that “they first came to these countries so that ‘our children could be educated, we get religious freedom and by being a good citizen, we become a beneficial member of the nation’. On the other hand, the parents are showing complete carelessness in the tarbiyat [upbringing] of their children.” 

Huzooraa said parents then complained about the way the social services were bringing up their children but “this is not the fault of the social services, it is the fault of the parents.” The social services would continue to act according to the laws and at the end of the day, the social services did not possess the same pain a parent did in terms of bringing their children up, Huzooraa noted. Parents generally cared more about their children than the social services did, apart from some extreme cases. 

Even if a parent was being strict for tarbiyat purposes, it can have consequences where the social services get involved and take the children away. In such an environment, parents should take great care. Huzooraa said that in today’s day and age, Muslim children were targeted and it was seen as “liberation” and “progression” if Muslim children were taken out of their religious atmosphere and imbued in modern-day ideals. 

“They believe a nation will progress when it is taken away from religion,” Huzooraa noted. 

“Therefore, the Jamaat’s view is that parents should reform themselves, otherwise the social services will take their children away. And the onus of the cruelty that they will do – i.e. taking their children away from religion – will be on the parents; they will be blamed and they will be sinful.”

On whether the Jamaat should open children’s homes for those who faced cruelty and violence from their parents, Huzooraa said:

“Where it is possible for the Jamaat, it should certainly do so. In Germany, you have formed the An-Nusrat Association […] one of its tasks should be to open children’s homes as well where they keep such children and there is a religious atmosphere there, proper tarbiyat and with great dedication, they are educated religiously and secularly and are taken care of. And then, when the parents reform themselves, the children are returned to them. 

“You can do this if these care homes are certified by the government, otherwise the government’s own institutions will take them. I am not fully versed on what the laws are in your country, but if there is a possibility of opening them [children’s homes] privately, then the Jamaat should certainly open them.”

Nida Ahmad who was pursuing her master’s degree in private school teaching said that at times, a person would not be able to get rid of a desire or want in their mind, despite profusely praying to Allah. One example was when finding a suitable life partner for marriage – personal desires and wants sometimes were overwhelming, even whilst praying to Allah for the most suitable partner. Nida Sahiba asked how a person in such a situation could recognise what Allah wanted. 

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa advised:

“The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, gave us a general rule of thumb by taking a particular case; the very case you are describing: finding a life partner. He instructed us that when finding a suitable partner for marriage, people look for three or four factors.” These included family status, wealth and beauty. However, “The Holy Prophetsa said these three factors are worldly desires. You are to give precedence to religion – when a man seeks a partner, he should focus on religion and faith [in the woman] and when a woman is looking for a partner, they should also focus on the religion and faith of the man.” 

Huzooraa continued:

“I tell this to the boys as well, that this commandment is not only for girls – that they should be righteous and religious […] but [for marriage] the boy should be righteous himself too. If the boy is not righteous, how will he find a righteous girl and also make it a priority to find a righteous girl? For this reason, the Holy Prophetsa, through this one saying corrected the ways of both the girl and boy; that the boy should be religious and faithful and the girl too.”

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Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said that despite these instructions, if one was praying for a suitable match and worldly desires and wants overcame them, then it was not from Allah the Almighty. When the desire and focus centred on finding a religious and righteous life partner, it was from Allah. A person should pray they get a partner who was a good, religious and righteous person. 

Huzooraa said this was the reason we were taught to pray that we are granted a “naik naseeb” – to have good fortune – when praying for marriage. 

“Pray for a husband who is religious, who has good deeds, who is educated, is caring towards you and treats you with love and care and is trustworthy – let it not be that he is someone who deceives you, agrees with the marriage and then issues surface later that they had illicit relations elsewhere too. One should seek [Allah’s] refuge from such boys”.

Huzooraa said:

“Don’t focus on getting married to a particular boy who has beauty, good looks and wealth”. Instead, one ought to pray that Allah the Almighty grants them “good fortune in marriage”, i.e. a partner who was religious and righteous.   

Jasmine Khokar who was training to become a primary school teacher in Islamic studies was next to ask a question. She said that her fellow teachers believed children should be taught about Islam in a “neutral” way as they believed Islam was not the same for all Muslims. One example was Salat – children should be taught there were five Muslim prayers in a day, but how those prayers were to be offered was diverse and each manner should be accepted. Jasmine Sahiba asked what she should do in this situation, especially when Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi Muslims were taught together. 

Huzooraa said children at school only needed to be taught the fundamentals of Islam: the five pillars of Islam and the six articles of faith and the Holy Quran etc. Differences were in commentaries of the Holy Quran and these further diversified between Sunnis and Shias. Then, there were four main schools of thought in Islam: those of Imam Abu Hanifarh, Imam Ahmadrh bin Hanbal, Imam Malikrh and Imam Shafi‘irh. These schools of thought differed in their figh (jurisprudence) and there was no reason to interfere with them. Children should be taught the fundamentals of Islam, the teachings of the Holy Quran and the clear ahadith, Huzooraa said. Muslims agreed on a lot of common teachings and those aspects should be taught to children. 

Huzooraa said that if there was a debate over the schools of thought, then it should be remembered that the Promised Messiahas said that Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa’sra school of thought was the most close to what Allah desired. And if one had some disagreements within his school of thought, then the person or the scholars of the Jamaat should get together and do ijtihad – independent reasoning over a matter. 

For school children, the basics of Islam were enough, without getting into the intricate debates between schools of thought, Huzoorraa said. Children could be informed that different schools of thought existed and what they believed, but the fundamentals of Islam – for example, the Holy Quran, the unity of Allah and the finality of prophethood – should be the focus when teaching school children about Islam. 

Aniqa Warraich Sahiba, a law student in her final year, asked how she could best serve the Jamaat after becoming a lawyer. Aniqa Sahiba expressed her desire to become the first hijab-wearing judge of Germany. Hearing this, Huzooraa remarked, “You want to become a judge? You have very high aspirations, masha-Allah.” 

During the conversation Huzooraa advised Aniqa Sahiba to try and go into human rights law as this was the most beneficial area for the Jamaat. Huzooraa also said that when she would become a judge, she should give decisions based on absolute justice. 

Ariba Chaudhry Sahiba said that in Western countries, when a child was adopted, they would be given the same family name and a right to inheritance. Ariba Sahiba asked Huzooraa about the Islamic ruling concerning adopted children. 

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said that in Islam, the child would be attributed to their original parents and one could give them a hibah – gift or donation – of the land or wealth one left behind after death, but they would not have the right to inheritance. This hibah should be done while the person was still alive because after death, the adopted child would not be eligible for inheritance. This rule was so that their other children and family got their due rights which Islam afforded them in inheritance.  

Rakshanda Ghafar Sahiba said there was a medicine famous amongst Jamaat members that supposedly enabled a pregnant woman to conceive a boy. This medicine was claimed to be a prescription of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira or Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh. She asked Huzooraa about the validity of these claims as, scientifically, a child’s gender was determined early on in pregnancy. 

With a smile, Huzooraa responded by saying, “It is a made-up story, whoever said this”. 

Huzooraa then continued to discuss medicines that were prescribed in ancient forms of tibb (Yunani medicine) for bearing male children. Huzooraa said there was certainly a particular medicine prescribed for acquiring male children in ancient forms of medicine. Prescriptions of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira – who was a renowned doctor – for conceiving male children existed. However, Huzooraa stressed that these medicines could only be effective before a woman conceived. Huzooraa agreed with the fact that the gender could not be changed after conceiving as this was unscientific. Huzooraa said a pregnant woman could not expect the baby’s gender to change by taking the medicine after conception, for example on the third or fourth week. Regarding people who claimed these medicines could change the gender of a child to male after the baby had begun to develop, Huzooraa said:

“This is against science and even the law of nature. It is against the law of Allah the Almighty and it cannot happen. Whoever has claimed this, they have made up a mere story.”

Some medicines were effective for acquiring male children and were backed by science too, Huzooraa said. However, these medicines needed to be taken before conception, and not after. 

The last question was by Kafia Tahir Rana Sahiba. She said there were various Muslim youth organisations in Germany that worked with NGOs. Those NGOs would hold workshops and educational programmes for the Muslim youth. Kafia Sahiba suggested that Ahmadi women could also work with the NGOs and help them arrange programmes and workshops. In this way people would find out more about Islam Ahmadiyyat and it would be a means of tabligh. Kafia Sahiba sought Huzoor’s guidance on the suggestion of Ahmadi women working with such NGOs and organisations. 

Huzooraa said: 

“That’s okay – there are various workshops and educational programmes held – it is a very good thing to work with them in these endeavours. If you can, you may do so. However, Ahmadi girls and women should keep one thing in mind: You are to preserve your sanctity. The dress code should be appropriate.” Huzooraa said Ahmadi women and girls should wear modest clothing and the hijab when attending such workshops, events and programmes with other NGOs and organisations. With the proper clothing and hijab, “There is no harm in working with them”, Huzooraa said. 

Huzooraa stressed that Islamic teachings of modesty and hijab should always be upheld by Ahmadi women when attending such workshops and events and they should not participate in events that required them to discard those teachings.

Huzooraa said Ahmadi women were permitted to assist and attend the events of organisations who held workshops, seminars or programmes to promote awareness about Islam or religion, or any such social gatherings where both religious and non-religious people would convene and talk with each other etc.  Huzooraa said it was better if Lajna Imaillah Germany officially partnered with such NGOs and organisations and Ahmadi women joined and assisted through this official channel.

Towards the end of the meeting, Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa turned to the president of AMWSA, Shazia Malik Sahiba and asked about her studies and work. Shazia Sahiba said she was doing a PhD in geography and was writing her thesis on the experiences of Muslim women and their hijab in various spaces. She aimed to show the sentiments and feelings of Muslim women when they wore their hijab in public and other settings. Huzooraa asked if she had done research in this regard, to which Shazia Sahiba said she had. Huzooraa said:

“Write your thesis, but also write articles about this topic in newspapers.” 

Shazia Sahiba said she would do so, inshaAllah.

At this, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa conveyed his salaam to all the Lajna members and the meeting came to a close. 

(Report prepared by Al Hakam)

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