16 November 2018
USA and Guatemala Tour 2018
After reciting the Tashahud, Ta‘awuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
Due to the announcement of the new year of Tahrik-e-Jadid last Friday, I did not speak on the recent trip to the USA and Guatemala. By the Grace of God Almighty, such tours have very positive effects in terms of building a bond with our own members as well as externals and to oversee the administration of the Community. Due to direct observation and information, I get to know of many things.
The three major benefits are that, firstly, I can meet intellectuals and influential people of such countries. This takes place by way of audiences and inauguration ceremonies or receptions of new mosques, etc. Secondly, people are introduced to the real teachings of Islam and Ahmadiyyat through the media coverage. The third major benefit is that a personal contact and bond is established with the members of the Community. This in turn increases them in their faith and sincerity and the relationship of love and brotherhood is strengthened. The personal meetings of the Khalifa with the members of the Community and then their mutual interaction with one another brings about an extraordinary change in them and instils a certain passion in them. Moreover, I am able to address them directly through my sermons in view of the current situation of those countries.
By the Grace of God Almighty, during the tour of America, I had the opportunity to inaugurate three mosques. May God Almighty always keep these mosques filled with worshipers and may He continue to increase the sincerity and loyalty of the members of the Community.
Wherever I went, starting from Philadelphia, Houston and Washington, children, young people, men and women all spent most of their time in and around the mosques. The parents of those children and even the relatives are still writing to me saying that when I was there, their children used to insist that they should go to the mosque as soon as possible. They showed a special connection to Khilafat. Then, upon coming to the complex, they used to spend the majority of their time in the mosque. During this trip, there was a large number of Pakistani Ahmadis in America who had come there having sought asylum or as refugees. They had come there from Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal after having endured very difficult circumstances. The meeting with them, sometimes, created a very emotional situation; some of them would become extremely emotional. May God Almighty enable them that not only do they derive benefit from the comforts here and an increase in wealth, but also always be mindful that they are to give precedence to their faith over the world and not to become immersed in the allure and attractions of this world.
Now, I shall narrate some incidents regarding the tour. The political leaders of America, the academia and the public are generally open to listening to good advice and appreciate it. The true teachings of Islam have not been properly conveyed to them. Those, who have received the correct message, i.e. those who have close ties with the Community, have a positive perception of Islam. Thus, it is our duty to strive in spreading the true message of Islam in America, as well as the rest of the world in the right manner. The true message of Islam, on the one hand, opens the eyes of the non-Muslims and elucidates the beautiful and peaceful teaching of Islam, and, on the other hand, gives confidence to the Muslims. The non-Ahmadi Muslims also learn about the true Islam and that they need not have any inferiority complex.
This is experienced in many places and it was also experienced in America that when non-Ahmadi Muslims hear the beautiful teachings of Islam from us, it created a feeling of confidence in them and they do not need to feel any sense of inferiority. They also expressed this themselves. As a matter of fact, [they come to realise] that Islam alone is the solution for the problems of the world, that Islam alone is the means of establishing peace and harmony and that only the teachings of Islam guide us towards the solutions for social and domestic issues. Some non-Ahmadi guests, who attended our functions, expressed the fact that the manner in which we presented the beautiful teachings of Islam is in fact the true manner. Non-Muslims become astonished hearing this message and they also express their sentiments that if this is the teaching of Islam then it certainly seems that is a teaching that will succeed. I will also present some of the impressions of the guests.
Honourable Dwight Evans, a member of the US Congress, attended the inauguration of the Baitul Afiyat Mosque in Philadelphia. In a very positive manner, he said to me, “I welcome you to this large city, the city of brotherly love. On behalf of Philadelphia and on behalf of the administration, I would like to say to a Muslim Community that your message of peace is welcome here.” He further said, “Some Americans have expressed their opinions against Islam over the recent years.” However, he said, “I would like to tell you that the majority here welcomes you. We stand with you and are against hate, prejudice and terrorism.” Expressing his sentiments, he further said, “You have given an extremely wonderful message in order to establish peace. It is unfortunate, that we are passing through a dark period in America, however this message is of great excellence in such a time. This proves the great importance of the Muslim community not only in America, but around the world.” He further said, “We are in need of hope and peace for the future. Philadelphia holds an important distinction with regards to religious freedom.” In relation to Philadelphia, it is famous that a treaty was formed for religious freedom, allowing every religion to stay there. He said, “This city is of great importance and in this regard will prove to be an excellent one for your mosque.”
These were his impressions. Similarly, the local mayor was also present as well as other leaders. The Mayor, James Kenney, said, “From the history of the city of Philadelphia we find that religious freedom is part of its fundamental principles. This city was built on this very foundation. We may belong to various nations and races, however, this city will welcome everyone.” Following this, he said, “We should work together and conduct ourselves towards one another with honour and respect and show the world that we can live together and eradicate our problems as well as those of our future progeny.” This in reality is the true teaching of Islam, which others are accepting and Muslims are forgetting.
Then, a judge, Mr Harry Schwartz, also attended the programme. He said, “I have known this Jamaat for twenty-five years and I have discussed various issues over dinner on numerous occasions with the local president of the Community.” Following my address, he said “I believe that if this message of love, harmony and unity is understood, we will all be living in a world.”
An African-American newly converted Muslim said, “There was a great need for a mosque here. A very beautiful centre has been built here. It is said that it takes ten years in order to change the surroundings. However, I have seen the society improve and progress within two years, which proves that if you are passionate, you can work together and achieve this.” Following the address he said, “This is an astonishing message and every word of yours penetrated my heart.” He is not an Ahmadi, but has become a Muslim.
Then, an African-American lady said, “I learned many things from the address. I am hopeful that we will make these a part of our lives now and if we implement them, we will surely be on the right path.” She was also not an Ahmadi.
There is another lady, Haniyyah Sahiba. She said, “The message presented by you will dispel the misconceptions that are spread in relation to Islam. Furthermore, it is of great joy that a centre for Muslims has been built here. People are prejudiced against Islam, which is entirely wrong. Your message was very powerful. I hope that this message spreads far and wide and that the people of America will come to know about the truth of Islam.”
A local councillor attended the reception of the mosque inauguration. He said, “Your message of peace was very much needed. This message has become of even greater importance, considering the circumstances of today. Coming here is a great honour for me. I have seen this mosque being constructed before my eyes. The establishment of this mosque is a source of great blessings for this area. I believe that the message you presented that you will stand side by side with the neighbours at the time of need, is not only required here in Philadelphia, but all across America.”
A Palestinian Muslim lady was also in attendance. She said, “Your message was very important. I belong to a small village in Palestine. Today, I had the chance to witness the true teachings, which I learnt in my childhood, through your address. This is the true Islam, which was mentioned. Whichever sect we belong to, it is our obligation to unite and work towards peace.” She further said, “You have truly represented all Muslim communities.” This is the opinion of these pure natured people. However, other Muslims should also realise that it is the Ahmadiyya Jamaat that is truly representing Islam.
A teacher was in attendance, she said, “Your message of peace was magnificent. Even though I am a Catholic, I agree with each and every word. I can say with certainty that Islam presents a message of peace and that Islam teaches service to humanity.”
There was a professor, who was representing the president of his university. He said, “The kind sentiments which you expressed for the people of this city are not only for today, but also for the future. One aspect I have seen in you is that you do not only speak about the present times, but are also looking ahead into the future.” Following this, he praised the address with very kind words. He said, “You have planted a seed here. Now, it is our responsibility to nurture it and make it flourish and to turn it into a strong tree of brotherhood and love.”
Whilst expressing her sentiments, a lady said, “When you said that we will wipe your tears, how many people are there who can truly say this? This was so astonishing that I could not control my emotions. To convey a message there is no need to deliver a loud and passionate speech, instead you gave the message in a very loving manner.” I had said that we are ever-ready to help the poor and if anyone was in any pain, we were the ones who would wipe away their tears.
A non-Ahmadi Imam was also present at the event. He said, “My initial contact with the Ahmadis was through the translation of the Holy Quran that was done by their community.” He has a copy of the translation of the Holy Quran by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib. He further said, “Your message was very good and I agree with you one hundred percent. This is our mission and our objective. We are all the sons of Adam and we must continue to help raise the standard of living of one another. Together we must spread the true teachings of the Holy Prophetsa.” May Allah enable him to act upon this and these may not remain just mere words.
The next day, the mosque in Baltimore was also inaugurated which was called Baitus Samad. This too was previously a church which was bought, renovated and transformed into a mosque. Coincidentally, this building was originally constructed that 99.9% was facing the direction of the Qibla [towards the Ka‘bah]. In this respect there was no need to make any major changes. Since I did not state much information of the mosque there, I shall now present some details.
The expenditure of this mosque was $2 million. There are separate prayer halls for men and women in which 400 people can offer their prayers. Apart from this there are offices, a library, classrooms, a commercial kitchen and dining hall etc. It is situated on the highway and on average 45,000 cars go past this highway every day. The mayor of Baltimore attended the reception. She said, “You spoke on the topic of peace. This is the message we need today, not just in our city, our state or in the USA, it is desperately needed in the whole world. I believe that everyone must hear this message. If we do listen to it we would come to understand that the only solution to the problems in the world is peace and we will learn to love one another.”
A university professor here in Baltimore expressed his sentiments saying, “In spite of all the differences between us, we have a lot in common and this was an amazing message through which we can bring about a very significant change in society. We must work together and respect one another. This message is very much needed in the USA. As Americans we must not only work for ourselves, but also for our children. All of us in the society should come together and move forward. I was really impressed with this astounding message.”
There was also a state representative of District 48. She said, “I was very impressed having heard this message, especially in the current situation where people fear Muslims and with the racial conflicts in this country. In such circumstances, I was very pleased that you drew our attention to our responsibilities. You advised us that we should love everyone and not harbour any hatred for anyone. This is exactly what we needed. Love, peace and justice – Baltimore must attain these high values.” Her husband was present and said, “My wife told me that this is a very important message for us all”. He then said, “No matter how much we try and talk about improving society, it would not be as effective as what the leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said here today, and this Muslim community is playing an outstanding role not just here, but in the whole of the USA.”
A priest by the name Father Jo was in attendance and said, “During your address I was in agreement with everything you said because I have been to the Ahmadi mosque in Baltimore many times and say assuredly that whatever you stated I have witnessed with my own eyes over the last few years in the other mosques. This mosque is open to the whole community and I have been several times to the Friday prayers. I am witness to all this being put into practice and I was very pleased to hear this. People of different religions are all gathered here and talking about peace. This indeed is what we require, not only here in this city but in the whole world.”
One lady described her feelings saying, “For me, there were very important points made in this address in view of the current state of affairs. There are big differences between Muslims and non-Muslims and between the black and white communities here. We must try to find a way of removing these distances and this is only possible through mutual respect. The definition you gave of who a neighbour is and the message of taking care of one’s neighbours was very impressive for me. After listening to this address I am more intrigued to learn about Islam and would like to express my gratitude to you all.”
Bilal Ali Sahib, who is a Muslim and also a state representative from District 41 said, “The message you gave is resonating here to all the people. This message is extremely important in creating an atmosphere of unity, harmony, love and affection. It will lend a great hand in dispelling the misgivings about Islam”. He then said, “You have aptly given us the solutions to many issues, especially with the state of affairs here, where to a certain extent the words and actions against the Muslims on a political level are stirring the emotions. You have come here and given us great direction in regard to these issues. In such conditions you have given us a wise message which no sane man can argue against. I have learnt from you a very simple solution to creating peace in society which is to start with your own home and to take care of your neighbours. You don’t have to go and change the whole world, only those who you meet. When you spread the love amongst them and care for them then there will be peace in society. Another simple technique you told us is that Islam says to call to the truth but the real true calling can only be through your example and conduct.” He further stated, “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has come forward to tackle the state of affairs in Baltimore and has shown its commitment to playing a positive role in society. This is a very commendable example which should be emulated.” May God Almighty continue to enable the Jamaat to show such a good example.
Michelle Sahiba, who is a minister in the Presbyterian Church said, “It was an outstanding message. You emphasised unity and harmony and drew our attention to showing love to dispel all fears. This message carries a great significance. The purposes of building a mosque which you stated are very admirable. Also, the teaching of treating one’s neighbours with kindness was new to me. I found out today that your teaching of love and harmony is the same as taught in Christianity, but the media has portrayed Islam as a something completely different.”
A historian named Dr Fatima said, “My specialisation is Islam in the USA and I have researched extensively into the spread of Islam in the USA. I am not a religious scholar, rather I am only a historian, but from the time you mentioned that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib worked towards the revival of Islam in this era, I have been constantly thinking about this. I will now broaden my research to cover this as well. I am very pleased that the basis of my research will not only cover Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadianias, but also his writings and sayings through which he brought about this revival. Your message is remarkable. You mentioned that one should not only extend kindness to followers of other religions, rather one ought to show kindness to people of no faith as well.” She then said, “Your ideology that we should work for the betterment of humanity without discrimination of race, cast or creed is an exceptional message. Being a Muslim, we are seen in a suspicious manner, therefore, as a Muslim, listening to the teachings of Islam was an excellent step forward.”
Then, on 3 November the inauguration of the Masroor Mosque took place in Virginia; this was also previously a church. The total area of the land is 17.6 acres and was bought for 5 million [US] dollars. A further $75,000 were spent on small changes and renovations etc. This building is also almost in the same direction as the Qibla. The total covered area is 22,403 square feet. There are separate halls to accommodate men and women, in which 650 people can offer prayers. Aside from this there are 11 rooms which will be used as offices. There is also a library, a conference room and a commercial kitchen. At this reception, a guest by the name Corey Stewart, who is a republican candidate for the state elections, said, “The address was delightful and full of wisdom. The world as well as the US should listen attentively to the message of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ and also try to act on it, especially in these days when the situation of the world is worsening. It is extremely vital to uphold the freedom of religion, therefore this mosque is a symbol of pride for us because your community performs various services for our country.”
Another guest, Matt Waters, who is also a senate candidate for Virginia state, said, “Having heard the address, I will now read more and increase my knowledge through the internet and in order to learn about Islam I would like to visit your mosque.”
A Christian guest said, “This message was in complete accordance with the need of the time and extremely important. We heard a message of peace, which I was greatly impressed by and it had a significant impact on me.”
Then a delegate for the 51st District of Virginia said, “This message was truly remarkable and was especially important given the present climate in the USA. His Holiness spoke of love and unity and that one should serve others selflessly and by giving them importance over themselves. In the present day political atmosphere, we are in need of this very message. Giving precedence to others over one’s own self is an exceptional message and one that is full of spirituality. To look after one’s neighbour and to think of their comfort over our own comfort is an extraordinary teaching. He stated that at times when one chooses to serve their own needs, they should instead give precedence to others.”
Similarly there was a guest, Alex Keiseh, he said, “I was greatly impressed and was overcome with emotion, especially since I was a survivor of the Holocaust. This message was truly inspirational. Every word of yours reached the depths of my soul. Your message was full of wisdom when you said that we cannot fight with hatred. The only way to eradicate hatred is for one to strive against it with love. Hatred should be ended through love, and this love should be spread between each religion. We can see many examples of this love in our society, for example, this very event that you are holding. However, the media greatly focuses on a minority of people and only those elements that can give people the wrong message. Instead of spreading this kind of information, the media ought to spread mutual love and harmony.” He was very emotional afterwards. Initially during the meeting with me, he was slightly emotional but soon after, he began to cry saying that this message had a huge impact on him.
Shanin Sahiba from New Jersey, who is a surgical co-ordinator, said, “We again have been informed of the beautiful teachings of Islam. I also believe that simply holding an entire faith accountable for the wrong-doings of just a few individuals in itself is an act of great injustice.” She further said, “Here in the USA, incidents take place almost on a daily basis, however it would be wrong to hold the entire religion blameworthy.”
Another guest, who is serving in the police department for the last 40 years, said, “This message was for the entire world. It gave timely advice on peace, harmony, love and fulfilling the rights of one another. In this area, 460,000 people of different colour and ethnicity live here and one of the most important aspects of this address was regarding the fulfilment of the rights of one’s neighbours.”
Another guest was Dr Kimberly, who is a criminologist and also an author and has a PhD, she said, “We had the opportunity to listen to a very insightful message regarding peace and justice. According to this message, we all need to create a spirt of unity without any distinction of colour and ethnicity. In today’s address you presented the true image of Islam and its essence is to create a society of peace, justice and equality.” Expressing her sentiments, she became quite emotional and while tears were flowing from her eyes, she further said, “Those who are perpetrating such cruel and barbaric acts and thereby creating disorder in our communities and country in the name of religion, in fact have no relation to faith whatsoever, and it is important for everyone to understand this.”
Another guest, Lorraine Sahiba, whilst expressing her sentiments said, “I have lived in this area for the last 30 years and have witnessed the changes that have taken place. The recent shooting incidents are indeed a tragedy, but this message of love, harmony and tolerance is indeed an excellent one. I am delighted to have been invited to this event and by coming here I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The mosque is a beautiful addition to this area and I have completely no fear from it. This is a peaceful place and although I am not a Muslim, however I have come to the mosque and have been warmly welcomed here and this is exactly what our society needs. I would like to say that you will be organising many more programmes here, and apart from the Muslims, you should invite people of other faiths as well.”
Aside from the mosque openings, as many people are aware that a hospital was opened in Guatemala under Humanity First. There was also an opening ceremony for it and many politicians were among those in attendance. One of the members of parliament, who has also twice come here to the Jalsa Salana UK was there and she also came to the airport to welcome me. She spoke very highly about the hospital and thanked the community for opening a hospital in her country. She also said that the Jamaat was striving towards creating love and unity amongst the communities.
Robert Cano Sahib, who is the Vice Minister of Education in Paraguay, said, “The inauguration [of the hospital] was a wonderful event. I am quite astounded that the members of this Jamaat have come together to successfully complete this project and have done this for all those in need. This is a practical demonstration of their love for humanity.” He further said, “If mankind adopts this path of love then peace will be established in the world. By witnessing the Islamic faith and culture at close, I have had a very positive experience. I had many questions about the Ahmadiyya Community and I have been able to get the answers by coming here.”
The Jamaat has been established in Paraguay for some years and he attended the opening upon their invitation.
Another guest was a Vice Minister of Guatemala, who is also a doctor, Mrs Diana. She said, “I will also adhere to the message in the address in regards to helping the poor.” She further added, “I thank God that religion teaches us to help the poor and this is exactly what the Khalifa said in his address.”
Another guest was a Guatemalan journalist. He said, “The one thing that impressed me the most was that there is no compulsion in faith, also that we should look after one another. We too should care for one another and this was the message which the head of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat gave. He also said that we all share the same rights, thus everyone is entitled to a quality lifestyle.”
A journalist from El Periodico newspaper, Fernando Pineta said, “I was very impressed with the address you delivered and we also had a good meeting. The Nasir Hospital project is a wonderful project and we need many more projects like this in this country.”
Another guest in attendance was a bank officer and he said, “The essence of the address was that we should show compassion towards mankind and the Nasir Hospital which you have opened here is a wonderful example of this.”
Another guest was a bank manager and he said, “It was an extremely beautiful and simple message given on behalf of the entire Muslim Ummah, which is that it is the primary duty of everyone to help mankind. I was deeply impressed with the philosophy of the Ahmadiyya Community and will seek more information about it.”
The Spanish edition of The Review of Religions was also launched in Guatemala. This new edition will be circulated in America, Latin America, Central America, etc. which has a total population of approximately 400 million people who speak Spanish. When we directed our attention on propagating the message of Islam in Spain, a very sincere Ahmadi member in Guatemala, David Sahib, who is among the pioneer Ahmadis of Guatemala, said that Spain only has a population of 40 million, whereas the Spanish speaking population in the countries of his region is 400 million but no attention is paid there. Thereafter, we began to focus on our missions established there and also began appointing some of the students of Jamia. Now by the grace of God Almighty, the Jamaat is being established there. Nonetheless, The Review of Religions Spanish edition was also launched there.
These were the sentiments of non-Ahmadi guests, however many Spanish-speaking Ahmadi Muslims from the neighbouring countries of Guatemala were also present at the inauguration of the Nasir Hospital and also to meet me. They also expressed their very heartfelt emotions. For some of them it was the first time they had the opportunity to meet the Khalifa of the time and their deep love for Khilafat was manifesting from their eyes and hearts.
A lady from Mexico, Laura Matilde Sahiba, who recently converted to Ahmadiyyat said, “One thing that has become deeply rooted in my heart after travelling to Guatemala is that I am exactly where God Almighty desires for us to be. There is not a shadow of a doubt in my heart that I am experiencing such peace and contentment, both spiritually and emotionally. Meeting my Ahmadi brothers and sisters from neighbouring countries has revived my faith and especially after offering prayers behind the Khalifa of the time has further strengthened my faith in God Almighty and Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam. It is my desire to stay in this path, may God Almighty enable this to happen.”
Another recent convert from Mexico, Ivan Francisco Sahib, said, “We performed the Bai‘at at the hand of the Khalifa of the time (a Bai‘at ceremony was held at the mosque) and that moment was indescribable. At that moment, I felt my entire body had become hot and I began sweating. I also felt as if a current was running through my body and while passing through, it took away all my sins with it. I am ever grateful to God Almighty for granting us the institution of Khilafat. I am certain that this was the first step towards something good and will bring about a transformation within me.”
Another new convert from Mexico, Miguel Angel Sahib, said, “The fact of the matter is that there exist no borders or lines of distinction in Ahmadiyyat which can separate us. We are all brothers and if there is any difference then it is merely our languages, otherwise we are all brothers. Whilst offering the prayers behind the Khalifa of the time, even though we belonged to 10 to 15 different countries, however we were one and were praying behind one Khalifa.”
Then, Vicente Briones Sahib states, “I belong to the Jamaat in Mexico City. I was extremely happy when I learnt that I was being given the opportunity to travel to Guatemala. My happiness increased even more when I was informed that we would have the opportunity to meet the Khalifa of the time. I was extremely delighted when we were granted audience with the Khalifa as I had the opportunity to sit with him for a long time. I only recently did the Bai‘at in Mexico City, however to do the Bai‘at at the hand [of the Khalifa] is a particular moment in my life which I cannot describe in words.” He further said, “Wiping away the tears from my eyes, I said to myself that this was the most beautiful day of my life.”
A recent convert from Honduras, Rosa Delmi Sahiba, said, “This was my first ever opportunity to travel outside of my country and we had to undertake such a long journey. It took us 16 hours to reach Guatemala from Honduras. Although we had to endure great difficulties during the journey but as soon as we saw the mosque of the Jamaat and the Khalifa of the time, we completely forgot about any difficulty we had experienced. We had the opportunity to meet such loving and pleasant members of the Jamaat, who treated me like their own family member. An Ahmadi lady who had travelled from the USA said that I was like her own daughter. The best part of the entire journey was the opportunity to meet the Khalifa. I personally did not say anything as I felt as if I was in a completely different world. I just felt like sitting there and continue listening. It was an experience that one cannot describe. During this tour, I increased my knowledge about the teachings of Jamaat and we also had the opportunity to recite a poem.”
Then, Edwin Armando Sahib from Honduras said, “The best part of the tour was the opportunity to meet the Khalifa and I was also able to receive the answers to many of the questions I had.”
Another new convert from Ecuador said, “By being in the presence of the Khalifa of the time, I have attained a unique treasure and I am filled with spirituality, peace, happiness, delight and I am at peace. When you placed your blessed hand over mine during the Bai‘at, it was something that I have never experienced before.”
A Lajna member from Ecuador, who accepted Ahmadiyyat last year, said, “My tour of Guatemala was an extremely pleasant experience for me and my son. It was a truly special occasion when we saw the Khalifa for the first time because it created a feeling of peace, love and steadfastness within us. During the mulaqat [audience] when the Khalifa of the time embraced my son, we were extremely happy and consider this to be a source of great fortune and blessing for us. The journey back to Ecuador will be very sad for us because we will dearly miss our Ahmadi brothers and the Khalifa of the time and we hope one day to meet again.”
A recent convert from Guatemala, Soliman Rodrigez Sahib said, “It is our great fortune that the Khalifatul Masih has come to Guatemala. It is a blessing of God Almighty that you have travelled here. When we learnt that you will be coming to Guatemala, we could not contain our joy and I began to grow spiritually stronger and there is no doubt in the fact that I have experienced a great change within me.”
Another new convert from Guatemala, Lisa Pinto Sahiba, said, “I am thankful to God Almighty that the Khalifatul Masih came to Guatemala. It is a source of great pride and honour for me and it has been an extraordinary experience. My heart is filled with joy.”
Another member from Guatemala, Domingo Tiul Sahib, said, “I am part of the Cabun Jamaat. Having witnessed Khalifatul Masih among us has greatly increased me in my spirituality and my faith. I am extremely happy that I had the chance to spend time in the company of the Khalifa.” He only converted to Ahmadiyyat recently, but he said to me in a very passionate manner that he was from a far-off village which was near the border, and that the area he belonged to was extremely underprivileged. He requested for prayers and also to send some people there so that the people of his area could also accept Ahmadiyyat and so that they can also receive the blessings of God Almighty that he had received through Ahmadiyyat. He made this request in a very heartfelt manner and also prayed for this. May God Almighty enable the Jamaat to spread to this area as well.
Another member from Guatemala, Marteza Tiul Sahiba, said, “Previously I had only seen pictures of the Khalifa, and now I have the opportunity to see him from close. I can feel a positive change within me.”
Claudia Sahiba said, “I am very happy and consider myself to be extremely fortunate for the blessings of God Almighty. I do not have the words in which I can express my sentiments. I requested prayers to increase in my sincerity and loyalty.”
Khadijah Sahiba from Chiapas, Mexico, said, “I render thanks to God Almighty that He enabled me the opportunity to meet with Khalifatul Masih. I received the answers to all my questions. My love for Islam has increased and after performing the Bai‘at, I feel that my faith has been revived. I request prayers for myself and my entire Jamaat that may we increase in our faith and cognisance of God.”
Yasmin Gomez Sahiba said, “These are beautiful memories and a beautiful experience. My emotions were such that I began to cry with joy and cannot express this in words. After this meeting I will have the opportunity to bring positive changes in my life.”
Surayya Gomez Sahiba said, “My emotions were from the bottom of my heart and I have experienced something magnificent. May God Almighty increase me in my faith and sincerity.”
A new convert from Mexico, Jesus Sahib said, “To form a connection with the Jamaat is a great blessing. I am truly fortunate that God Almighty heard my supplications. [Before this] I was in darkness; God Almighty brought me and my family towards the light and enabled me to transform my life. I also asked questions about worship and other topics, and the answers I received gave me a lot of comfort.”
Lailah Lateef Sahiba said, “Previously my only experience was through the television, now that I have had the chance to meet [Huzoor], my emotions and sentiments are completely different.”
Heliodoro Sahib, who is from Panama and came with his wife and daughter, said, “The meeting [with Huzoor] was a day full of joy, which I am unable to express in words.” He also exhibited great love and sincerity.
A delegation had also come from Belize. Golda Martina Sahiba said, “This was a truly heart-warming and blessed occasion. I was overcome with emotion and I will never be able to forget this trip.”
Then another member, Nicole Avilez Sahiba said, “It was a very emotional meeting. The Khalifa also extended me an invitation to attend the Jalsa Salana UK and I am very grateful for this.”
Another Lajna member, Florentina Sahiba said, “The meeting [with Huzoor] was a truly joyous occasion and my heart is now content.” A young girl who was approximately 13 or 14 said, “Initially I was apprehensive of the fact that I may say something in the presence of the Khalifa that would make me feel embarrassed, however, the meeting was excellent.” They have the utmost respect and reverence for the institution of Khilafat. Then these girls also sang the poem, Hai Daste Qibla Numa.
Similarly, there were many other men and women who had travelled great distances all across Guatemala and showed great sincerity and loyalty. May God Almighty enable them all to increase in their loyalty and sincerity; and make them true Ahmadis.
In terms of the media coverage, by the grace of God Almighty, the USA [Jamaat] media team worked hard in this regard and had made good contacts. Although at present, certain changes have been made in the media team, however, the previous team also worked well. In the USA, our message reached more than 2.869 million people through television. Through radio coverage, our message reached more than 5.398 million people. Through digital platforms; websites and social media, the coverage reached approximately 2 million people. In terms of newspaper coverage, 45 articles were written about my visit. The prominent newspapers were: The Baltimore Sun, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Religion News Service and Houston Chronicles. Through all these means, it is said that our message reached more than 10 million people.
There was good media coverage in Guatemala as well. The national newspaper of Guatemala, Prensa Libre prints 130,000 copies on a daily basis and this is read by more than 4 million people. On 24 October, this newspaper published a picture of the Nasir Hospital on its front page and also published a report about its opening. A journalist for another national newspaper, El Periodico, also published a report about the opening of the Nasir Hospital. Guatemala National Television also broadcast a report about my visit and information about the Nasir Hospital. Various national radio channels also aired various reports about this. It is estimated that across the countries in Latin America, through the various newspaper reports, print media and television channels, the message of Islam reached approximately 32 million people through the opening of the Nasir Hospital, and also the social media coverage through different platforms; Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, reached approximately 2.3 million people. By the grace of God Almighty, the trip overall was very blessed and successful. May God Almighty enable us to enjoy the pious objectives of this trip in the future as well.
After the prayers I will lead the funeral prayer in absentia of Mr Sawadogo Ismail Sahib of Burkina Faso. On 14 November, he was walking to the mosque for the Fajr prayers when he collapsed after suffering a heart attack. He was taken to a nearby hospital but they were unable to revive him – To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.
He was born in 1964 and accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1994. It was always his desire to live near the mission house. When our mission was moved to another place, he rented a house near the new mission house. He would always come to the mosque and call the Azan [Muslim call to prayer]. During the Jalsa Salana, he would always wake up the attendees for Tahajjud prayers. He would call the Azan in a beautiful manner and for this reason people gave him the title “Syedna Bilal”. He would sit in E‘tikaf [retreat to the mosque in the last 10 days of Ramadan] every Ramadan. He was very regular in his prayers and would remind others to do the same. Prior to Fajr prayers, he would go to wake up the students living in the Jamaat Hostel nearby, he would then call the Azan and would ensure the mosque was clean.
When our mosques were attacked in Lahore and he heard that people had been martyred, it had a profound effect on him. He repeatedly expressed his desire that if only he was martyred alongside them. He was always at the forefront in serving the community. When I went there [Burkina Faso] for a visit in 2004, he worked as part of the security team. On one occasion whilst I was delivering a speech he collapsed while he was on duty. Perhaps this was due to a lack of food or that he was standing in one place for a long time, nevertheless, he would always write to me saying that he was the one who fell down. He was very sincere and a true devotee of Khilafat and Ahmadiyyat.
He worked as a security guard for the Forestry Department. During his burial, on behalf of the Central Mayor, the Commanding Officer for the Forestry Department highlighted Ismail Sahib’s services in a befitting manner saying that he was very sincere, loyal, honest and a cheerful individual, who always fulfilled his responsibilities in the best manner possible. By the grace of God Almighty he was a musi [partook in the scheme of Wasiyyat].
From his first wife he is survived by one son and one daughter. He also has a two-month old daughter from his second marriage. May God Almighty elevate the status of the deceased and grant him His forgiveness. May God Almighty grant protection to his children.
(Translated on Review of Religions)