Fazal Masood Malik and Farhan Khokhar, Canada
Note to the reader: This article discusses the management of funds collected and distributed by Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat from an Islamic perspective. This perspective is based on the teachings of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas and his second Khalifa, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra. The discussion on industry, development of the national economy and general government administration are out of scope.
Service to humanity is a value that is deeply ingrained in the Ahmadiyya culture. As Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, the fifth successor to Hazrat Ahmadas has reminded us that “a person can only be deemed a true Muslim when he seeks to remove the pain of others and to alleviate their anxieties.” (Inaugural address, Nasir Mosque in Gillingham, UK, 2014, www.alislam.org/articles/worship-requires-service-to-humanity/)
Speaking about the importance of serving the needs of the poor, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra wrote in his book, New World Order of Islam (p. 114):
“In the early days of Islam, the social and economic teachings of Islam proved fully equal to the demands made upon it. The Holy Prophetsa not only insisted upon simple modes of living but as soon as Muslims achieved political power, history bears witness that the needs of the poor were fulfilled from Zakat supplemented by voluntary subscriptions. In this connection, the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa would often make great sacrifices. Hazrat Abu Bakrra on one occasion contributed the whole of his property and on another, Hazrat Uthmanra contributed almost his entire estate, so that in accordance with this teaching, the needs of the people would be fulfilled”.
Despite a history of serving humanity, later Muslim rulers ignored the giving nature of their predecessors. They declined into an era of lavish spending without regard for the poor. The consistent habit of not sharing their wealth contributed to the development of a society where the value of charity diminished.
While individually, there are many instances of beautiful works being done, as a collective, Zakat and other forms of charity lacked distribution at the level of the state as prescribed by the Holy Prophetsa and his successors.
The duty to feed the hungry, community or otherwise, became an institute early on in Ahmadiyya Islam. For example, feeding guests and the hungry through the Langar became a key feature of life in Qadian. The sense of duty of the Promised Messiahas was so intense that at times he would borrow from his beloved wife, Hazrat Amma Janra and sell the jewellery to ensure sufficient means were available to feed the guests that came to Qadian.
Qadian, as a remote town in Northern Punjab, mainly was without government services. Hospitals and schools were not part of the community. Hazrat Ahmadas was so deeply moved by the lack of necessary services for the general population that he would host a clinic at his humble abode. He would acquire Yunani and English medicine at his own cost and dispense to patients free of charge. The desire of Hazrat Ahmadas to serve humanity was characteristic and became an inherent value among his followers. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, who had grown up witnessing his honourable father devote his life to humanity’s cause, was so affected that he became a champion to lead the cause in this direction. In 1917, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra established the first hospital in Qadian. Named the Noor Hospital, it served the Muslim, Christian and Hindu populations without distinction. Upgraded in 1930 and then rebuilt at a new location under the guidance of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa in 2006, this hospital still serves the general population. (Malfuzat [Urdu], Vol. 2, p. 3 ; Tarikh Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 4, p. 194 ; Badr, 21 December 2017, p. 38)
After the Indian subcontinent partition, the Ahmadiyya headquarters was established in Rabwah, Pakistan. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra ensured all facilities of life were available to its residents. On 21 March 1958, he inaugurated the Fazl-e-Umar hospital. In 2003, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa inaugurated another hospital, Tahir Heart Institute, in his capacity as nazir-e-ala. His words formed excellent guidance that reveals the heart of Islamic spending,
“The hospitals and schools established by the Jamaat are never instituted on a commercial basis; rather, they operate exclusively to serve humanity. This is what our Khulafa have taught us and this is what their desire is.”
Service to humanity by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat is not limited to the Indian subcontinent. In 1970, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmadrh, the third successor to Hazrat Ahmadas, launched the Nusrat Jahan (meaning ‘Service to Humanity’) Scheme. In 1972, there were already 14 hospitals established in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone from the Nusrat Jahan scheme alone.
Healthcare and education were of prime importance to Hazrat Ahmadas and hence to the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. In addition to establishing Madrasa-e-Ahmadiyya to impart religious education, Hazrat Ahmadas also founded Talim-ul-Islam school. It was the centre of secular education in Qadian. Hazrat Ahmadas always emphasised the need for a solid education, not distinguishing between men and women. (www.alhakam.org/education-morality-the-flagship-of-ahmadi-students/)
By the end of the 1970s, over 30 Ahmadiyya schools had been established in various African nations. These schools were instrumental in parting secular education and ethical teachings needed to build a nation. Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, the Gambia and Sierra Leone were the first to benefit from this scheme, with many other nations benefiting later.
Serving humanity through the promotion of knowledge is at the heart of Islam. It is no surprise that Qadian became an active publishing centre. During the life of Hazrat Ahmadas, three publications were established; Al Hakam (1897), The Review of Religions (1902) and Badr (1902). The Review of Religions started publishing in English and Urdu, a practice that was later revised to print English version only. With a break of a few decades, Al Hakam and Badr are now active weekly newspapers, delivering the message of Islam and Ahmadiyyat to its community worldwide. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra started a daily titled Al Fazl in 1913.
The purpose of these publications was and remains twofold. One is to educate the masses about the teachings of Islam. The second is the moral upbringing of those who have accepted the message of the Messiah and entered the fold of Islam. Today, over two dozen publications, ranging from dailies to monthly, are servicing Islam in various capacities.
Foreseeing the need for internal technical knowledge to further the cause of humanity, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmadrh, Khalifatul Masih III established the Medical Association of Ahmadi Muslims (AMMA). AMMA encouraged Ahmadi Muslim doctors to volunteer their time to medical work in Ahmadiyya hospitals and health centres around the world before returning to their current practices. Its offshoot, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Medical Association, works with another organisation founded under the auspices of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh in 1980: the International Association of Ahmadi Architects and Engineers (IAAAE).
The model village project was initiated under IAAAE with the belief that a village should have all the requirements to support its population. The needs, such as access to clean water, electricity, education, health and agriculture, must be available locally. IAAAE created the first such village in Tinknebel, Burkina Faso.
Speaking at an IAAAE conference in 2015, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa reminded the world that “The humanitarian work conducted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is rendered entirely selflessly and without any desire for worldly reward.” The model villages are set up to support the socio-economic infrastructure. One of their purposes is to encourage the youth to stay and contribute to the growth of the local economy.
Despite the record of helping humanity, when the famine hit Somalia in 1992, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was not permitted to send funds to help the local population. To ensure that such a situation did not arise again, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh decided to form an international organisation that would work across all borders, without any hindrance. In November of 1995, Humanity First was born, with the intent to help people all across the world without any distinction of colour, religion, race or creed. By the grace of God, Humanity First now operates in almost all countries of the world and is the first boots wherever they are needed. Some of the major projects they have taken are the Gift of Sight, refugee resettlement, orphan care and Water for Life.
The issue of collecting funds and distributing them without bloated overhead is of critical importance to Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. That is perhaps the reason why most of the activity is done by volunteers. Perhaps it is the instruction of our beloved Huzooraa that we should “stand ever-ready to wipe away the tears of those who are in distress” that fuel the aspirations of Ahmadi Muslims worldwide who jump at the opportunity to do just that.
The Islamic economy encourages the service of the creation of Allah. Any activity undertaken to help and assist the creation of God as prescribed by the Holy Quran is permissible and encouraged. Any activity that goes beyond the limits of helping the community and focuses on an individual’s greed and needs is not in line with Islamic economics. For example, student loans that are given to earn huge profits are not permissible. The student loans that are given to educate a person or a society or a community so that they can further the cause of humanity are permissible in all capacities.
New World Order of Islam by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra
The Economic System of Islam by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra
Philosophy and Practice of Islamic Economics and Finance by Shaikh A Hamid
Africa Speaks, Majlis Nusrat Jehan
Ahmadiyya Gazette Canada, December 2021, Vol. 50, No. 12