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Ambassador of Peace
Human history is replete with the account of great personalities who founded revolutionary movements. They are countless in number. This is also observed that these movements always emerged in communities who were passing through the days of fall and decline. The objective of a positive and constructive revolution has always been to pull the nation out of its deteriorated plight and put them on the path to development, progress, peace and prosperity. Also irrefutable is the truth that eternal sovereignty belongs to Almighty Allah alone.
Every community and nation in the world undergoes its rise and fall. The human society was crippled with oppression, injustice, lawlessness, barbarism and darkness of ignorance when the last Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him ad give him peace) was raised. His holy Prophethood laden with pragmatic wisdom and divine meditation and strategies and the ceaseless struggle of his companions added such an illumining chapter to the history of mankind which will serve as guidance, enlightenment and light house for humanity till the end of time. Islam is a journey to the ultimate rise of mankind. The Holy Messenger of Allah started this journey and his rightly guided companions followed by successors and followers and all the succeeding clerics, scholars, thinkers, mystics, preachers, jurists, traditionists, renewers, rulers and combatants advanced it to unknown heights in their times and in their respective fields. So, Islam led mankind from dark ages to the modern times of scientific progress.
The fall of Muslims
However, the wheel of time rotated and the Muslims began to fall gradually into dissension, chaos, destruction and slavery by their own follies, wrong strategies, luxury, inactivity and redundancy. They turned away from the teachings and guidance conferred on them by the Holy Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and drifted far away from Din (religion) of Islam until the Mughal empire fell in Indian sub-continent in mid 19th century and the Usmania Caliphate declined in early 20th century. Both these empires were the symbol of international political power of the Muslim Umma and enjoyed the zenith of glory and splendour. The Muslim Umma fell into total destruction after the fall of these unparalleled symbols of progress and prosperity around the globe. A number of movements and a great number of intellectual leaders and scholars struggles hard to save the Ark of the Muslim Umma from capsize but the cyclonic waves did not let it hold the controls and was swayed away into the depths of stormy decline. Although there were then couple of free Muslim countries on the world map but they proved insignificant in the face of moral, cultural and political deteriorating phenomena.
Reactions against fall
We are to see and study our current era of confusion and chaos and bullying by international powers in this perspective. The collective identity of the Muslim community is equal to nothing. Sectarianism, regionalism, chauvinism, division and separatist tendencies have replaced harmony, unity, cohesion and centralism. The national identity has been badly damaged and our values and traditions have been deformed and squashed. As for Din (religion) we have practically abandoned it even at the level of customs and social norms. The rulers in the Muslim countries have neither any contact with the people nor any relation with Islam as system of life and system of state. Fear and harassment is the order of the day; insecurity, uncertainty, distrust, and despondency prevail and no way to escape is in sight. Those who have concern and grieve over this heart-rending scenario, their hearts ache and bleed and sigh and wail. They feel inspired to do something but find no way to do anything. What a helplessness and discomfort! They leap towards some sight of a ray in the dark but the very next moment it is put out and they once again hold their breath in the all-prevailing dark.
Some reconciled with the defeatist approach under the circumstances. Taking it as destiny they lapsed into inactivity leaving themselves at the mercy of the cruel waves of the passing time. They thought it the best way to save their faith and die a Muslim’s death and continue with the Dawa work and preaching the Islamic Sharia at whatever scale they afford. But this put an end to the certitude in practicality, pragmatic struggle, relevance and result-orientation of Islam as a dynamic, progressive and all-embracing system of life, system of government and straight road to world peace and deliverance of mankind from the monstrous hardships it is now faced with. This approach reduced Islam from a complete and comprehensive Din (scientific system of life) to a mere conventional religion like other religions in the world. This is like closing one’s eyes to the manifest danger. The forces of evil are advancing fast at the speed of light while we are too crude in our means to survive in the tussle.
There is yet another reaction to the breath-taking developments taking around us. There are those who proclaimed the Word of Allah and declared to restore the predominance of the True Din of Allah. They felt the need to revive the political power of Islam. They found the Western Civilization dominating the modern times. The currencies like Euro, Dollar and Pound have the upper hand and control the world economies. So they concluded that the Western Civilization is an enemy to Islam. So Jihad is the need of the hour and revival of Umma is possible only through annihilation of the West. It is therefore, obligatory to launch Jihad against them. Here they could not distinguish Jihad from killing and forgot the conspicuous difference between the two. Jihad has its conditions and kinds but they forgot all that. Unaware of the requisites and manners of launching Jihad they took up Qital – killing – calling it Jihad. What did it result into? They deformed and distorted one of the most significant and basic doctrine of Islam known as Jihad and put an end to it as an institution of Islam. Shooting off from extremism it turned into terrorism and has shaped into its latest format – suicide attacks. It has erased the difference between the military and the civil citizens, put an end to honour and respect for the diplomatic norms and courtesies, eliminated any soft corner for children, the elderly, the women folk, the sick, the travellers, the indigent and the handicapped, so much so, that it is immaterial whether the victim is a Muslim or a non-Muslim.
Consequently, the Din that brought the message of security, the programme of peace, the mission of love, the manifesto of co-existence, and the constitution of human dignity and equality is now being blamed as a package of hatred, terror, extremism, bloodshed and a sign of suicide attacks.
The emergence of Minhaj ul Quran International
These are the ground realities which the Umma was facing and the Minhaj ul Quran International too had to encounter. Its founder and the leader Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri meditated over these conditions, state of affairs and realities deeply and in his all-encompassing style. Dr Tahir ul Qadri has been raised from the environment of struggle and glory. His great father bright him up from the very beginning with the intention to make him serve the cause of Din. His study of the Quran revealed to him that Islam is not at all destined to helplessness or humility but to rise, glory and splendour. His study of the holy conduct of the scared life of Messenger of Allah dawned on him the straight road that leads to revolution. Its destination is revival of Islam and the establishment of Din. He holds that continuity and sustenance of Islam is not possible without a revolutionary struggle. Nor is it possible to win the victory in the world without changing the direction of events. It is not mere Dawa and Tabligh that can change the scenario. The struggle for establishment of Din is obligatory but first of all one is to see what establishment of Din implies?
Certain extremist groups take it as elimination of all other religions from the earth. They interpret it as proselytizing the entire mankind into Muslims and total extermination of non-Muslims from the world. This concept became their error and their mark of identity. These people and movements adopted extremism and terrorism as their way of life.
Blending the opposites
Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri does not at all entertain such concepts and is a staunch believer in world peace. He believes that establishment of Islam aims at establishment of peace in the world on the basis of human values like justice, equality, human dignity and upkeep of human rights everywhere and at all levels. He considers Islam as Din (religion) of peace, a charter of love, co-existence, tolerance, human dignity, veneration of human life and a charter of justice and equality for mankind. These are the main features of the Islamic doctrine. So he did what apparently seemed impossible. He put together the revolutionary and peace-loving modes of existence and founded on this principle his movement – the Minhaj ul Quran International.
The Minhaj ul Quran International aspires to rise of Islam on these grounds. Its destination is the establishment of Din; its path is renewal and modernization through the process of Ijtihad, its mission is revival of Din of Islam but its movement and struggle is categorically pure of any germs of extremism and terrorism. This Movement hold all the concepts based on hatred and prejudice as heretic and blasphemous; it regards innocent killings of human beings as brutal murder of mankind. According to MQI the destination of Renaissance of Islam can be reached only through love, harmony and co-existence and never through hatred and conflict.
The Message of Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri
This is a miraculous achievement accomplished by Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri. It is like blending water and fire together at one place. He has communicated most emphatically the message of Islam – peace, love, tolerance and co-existence – to the human society around the globe. He countered the onslaught against the intellectual and conceptual fronts of Islam not in the spirit of antagonism or anger but at the level of erudition, scholarship and rationalism. The 9/11 calamity has not yet occurred when he perceived the new developments under the promulgation of the New World Order (NWO) maligning Islam of extremism and terrorism He said while addressing the International Peace conference held at Oslo in 1999:
“So this is just a mention of what is the significance of peace in Islam. Islam, from its very beginning to its end is peace and nothing else. Anything detrimental to peace, anything damaging to peace, anything conflicting with peace, anything contradictory to peace has no, absolutely no concern with Islamic teachings. And whosoever may be, if he has any kind of terrorist or extremist character, any character detrimental to humanity, detrimental to global peace, detrimental to the societal peace of mankind that is absolutely anti-Islamic and opposed to our faith.” (Oslo, Norway, 13 August)
Well before that in 1993, in view of the dangers to the true Islamic doctrine he was promoting the slogans among his revolutionary workers to promote awareness of the revolution. The awakening of awareness demands promotion of knowledge and education and eradication of ignorance. To achieve this objective, therefore, we need to establish educational institutions. But these institutions should not be conventional educational schools or madrassas. Instead modern academic curricula are required to be introduced to meet the need of the hour. He was on the one hand observing the unquestionable significance of modern sciences in achieving the objective of national development while on the other hand his far-sighted wisdom discerned how madrassas were going to be blamed of training centers for terrorism to malign Islam.
With this educational vision Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri launched his project for promotion of education. The MQI is the only religious and modern movement that has raised under its project a network of 572 schools and colleges that are engaged in imparting modern education to thousands of students in addition to a University chartered by the Government – Minhaj University Lahore (MUL).
The basic elements revolution and moderation
He perceived at the very outset of the movement that keeping the revolutionary movement moderate was an uphill task. He had seen several religious revolutionary movements rising gradually to their extremist postures. He had clearly well underlined the shortcomings that elevate the revolutionary movements to extremism. Although spiritualism and ardent love for the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was gifted to him by his saintly father as inheritance yet he had reached the conclusion that the ardent love for the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and veneration and submissiveness to him was such a force which bridles you from any extremism because love and hatred cannot be blended together. The spiritualism and mysticism is a way of life based on love for mankind. So he based the intellectual, conceptual and doctrinal foundation of his movement in three elements: Renaissance and Establishment of Din, Mysticism and Spiritualism and Love for the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).
The students of history are well aware that it was these three elements that made the Companions of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) unconquerable. They also were great callers and promoters of love and peace. Wherever they would go people would embrace Islam not by their power and terror but by their character and excellent morality and spirituality.
In the current era of fall and miserable days of the world of Islam and in the recent past, it is Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri the only leader who has put together these three elements in any organization of revolutionary movement and its call and struggle – the elements that laid the foundation of the great movement whose mission is love and peace.
Acknowledgement of Dr Qadri’s vision
That is the reason why Dr Qadri was the only leader in the post 9/11 scenario who rose to the occasion and, very loud and clear, warned the Muslims of the world that the new wave of terrorism and extremism against America was a conspiracy against Islam. The entire religious leadership was engaged in sympathizing Mulla Umar and Asama bin Ladin; slogans of Jihad were being shouted and elimination of the USA from the world map was being claimed. Under this serious and critical situation it was only the Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri who sensed the actual conspiracy and advised the people to understand the game the enemy of Islam had played. They called the massacre of innocent citizens, and indiscriminate killing of the children and helpless women as Jihad but Dr Tahir ul Qadri termed it as disruption, mischief and violence. Even the British Parliament could not help recognizing it. The Sixth Report of the House of Commons Defence Committee Session 2002-03 (Page: Ev 141-142; copy attached) records: “Dr. Qadri claimed that any terrorist act is against the basic precepts of Islam, and that it does not allow aggression, oppression and barbarism in any event. And that there is a faction in the Islamic world whose interpretations of Islam are extremist in nature. Their handling of political, social and cultural matters reflects the extremist trend in their thinking. He stated that this “extremist class” believes that Islam is inconsistent with democracy and any association with democracy is forbidden.” (Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri, “Extremism: Causes and Cures”, The Nation, December 14, 2001)
“Criticizing the extremist elements he stated that such groups present a horrifying picture of Islam in the Western world and provoke the religious sentiments of the people for their personal gains. Dr Qadri encouraged the Taliban to hand Osama bin Laden over to a third party; he suggested that such a role can be played by NATO, the European Union, or the Organization Islamic Conference (OIC).” (Lecture delivered by Dr Tahir ul Qadri, “Terrorism and International Peace,” September 2001, Pakistan).
In like manner putting together the concepts of mysticism and spiritualism and the Renaissance and Establishment of Islam the scholar of a French University Alix Pilippons writes:
“Qadri has reclaimed spirituality as the specific stamp of Islam and as the true representative of the subcontinent’s cultural ethos, he is therefore very defensive. As far as Sufism is concerned, Mehfil-e-Sama (spiritual recitations) including qawwali, music, and dhikr recitation are regularly held in the headquarters in Lahore.
Although critical of some ritualistic aspects of the cult of the saints, the members of the MUQ do perform ziyarat, tomb visitation, which is, to them, the granite foundation of the beliefs of the Ahl-e-Sunnah. The values of peace, love, tolerance, and brotherhood, identified as Sufi, are promoted as universal references informing the ideology and the modes of action of the organization. The great Sufis are perceived as role models and mysticism as a tool to be used for the ethical reformation of the people in order to bring peace, harmony, and humanism in society.
The ideological system of MUQ has been established on the basis of a critical approach to Islamism in its relation with Sufism. It shows an awareness of the fact Sufism has been excluded from the symbolic resources of Islam by many Islamists. It also acknowledges the corruption within some Sufi practices and the necessity to come out from traditional institutions and evolve a modern form of organization. It is critical of the doctrines and actions of extremism and has taken into account the way this category of Islamists has shaped western opinion on Islam. In these words, it has rationalized the terms of the heated ongoing debate about Islam, modernity, and the West and tried to evolve a suitable alternative evolving Sufism as a cultural, ethical, intellectual and political resource for the Muslim world.”
The MQI – a call against extremism and sectarianism
When Minhaj ul Quran Movement was being founded sectarianism prevailed all around. The religious organizations were established on the basis of sects. The edicts of polytheism (Shirk), innovation (Bida), denigration, blasphemy and disbelief were a common practice. The Muslims had fallen prey to mutual hatred and hostility. Founding his movement under such circumstances he declared that Minhaj ul Quran has no sectarian aims; it is being established to uphold the banner of Islam and work for the establishment of Islam as Din. Its doors are, therefore, open to all the Muslims. He introduced and promoted the thought among the Muslims to lay stress on common factors and overlook the differences. This way his rhetoric and books played a very important role in putting the Muslim Umma on the track of unity, tolerance and forbearance, pulling them out of the torment of sectarianism.
Dr Qadri’s struggle for ecumenism and inter-faith harmony
Again when Muslim Christian riots burst out in Pakistan Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri established the Muslim Christian Dialogue Forum. He took dynamic actions to promote the cause of ecumenism and inter-faith harmony. The interfaith exchange of delegates, joint celebrations of religious festivals and especially opening central mosques of the MQI for Christian community to worship are some of his vital steps that have considerably contributed to moderate, tolerant and peaceful coexistence among the two communities in the society. Opening up the mosque to the Christians for worship and annual Celebration of Christmas at Minhaj ul Quran Markaz Lahore set new trend for the Muslim majority. This fascinating feature of Islam was yet out of common Muslim’s sight. A group of people termed it as a political step in view of Dr Qadri’s overwhelming political activities at that time. But practices in later period have shed all doubts. His resignation from the National Assembly and then decision to postpone political activities from the Pakistan Awami Tehreek forum were amazing steps for those who remain busy in guess works. But then the Muslim Christian Dialogue Forum (MCDF) remained ever active even after that. This must have cast all doubts that polluted mind of certain section of the people.
The ambassador of peace
These steps throw sufficient light on the fact that Dr Qadri is quite conscious of the necessity of winning friends of Islam over the globe instead of mustering foes through negative ideas and extremist approach and immoderate concepts. Islam negates this destructive behaviour. A clash of civilizations can neither do any good to Islam nor to mankind. When he took this step eight years ago it was applauded the world over. It is MQI alone that has promoted this activity in Pakistan as well as abroad. The trend has now been set and interfaith harmony has flourished. This year many political parties and religious organizations celebrated Christmas with the Christian brethren of which the photographs appeared in the Press. It was against this backdrop that the Christian Organizations in Pakistan first gave him the title of Christ of Earth the National Commission for Inter Religions Dialogue and Ecumenism (NCIDE) conferred on him ‘Peace Award 2006.’ Likewise the British Foreign Office and the European Union jointly organized a Muslim of Europe Conference in Istanbul to discuss and sort out the problems and challenges the Muslim community is facing in the European countries. This was an international forum where more than sixty scholars and professors of the renowned universities of Europe and America were invited to address the conference. Out of all the prominent speakers of world fame it was Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri who was invited as the Key Note Speaker on the occasion.
His valuable endeavours to promote love and peace at global level and his most sincere and devoted hard work to keep the workers of his revolutionary movement as a peace-loving, tolerant, moderate and humanitarian force has brought dividends to the MQI. The Minhaj ul Quran International is the only organization that exists in more than 100 countries of the world. It has its Islamic Centres in fifty countries of the world. It has its members, loyalists and lovers in millions. It is recognized as an organization that promotes peace and love, peaceful co-existence, forbearance and tolerance and moderation. It has not fallen victim to any conflict and extremism. And it has not compromised either on its principles of Renaissance and Establishment of Islam, Sufism and Spiritualism and worldwide promotion of ardent love, veneration and submissiveness to the Last Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). The world is very soon going to recognize Islam as a Din of Love and Peace. So there is no exaggeration in saying that Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri is an International Ambassador of Peace. Long live Shaykh ul Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri.
by Dr Raheeq Ahmed Abbasi (Nazim Aala MQI)