Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of a speech delivered by Safwan Choudhry Sahib at the occasion of the 45th Jalsa Salana Canada, on July 15, 2023, at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
Today, I would like to draw your attention to a significant aspect of human history—one that has been a cause of great bloodshed and anguish: holy war.
Some would argue that religious fanaticism, intolerance, and a rigid attitude towards faith have frequently led people of opposing religions to take up the sword and wage war upon one another.
Ever since the Byzantines yielded Jerusalem to the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century, the advance of Islamic forces into Christendom has evoked profound unease among the European powers. However, the Crusades also presented an enticing prospect for knights, nobles, and commoners alike, offering them the chance to amass wealth, wield power, and acquire prestige. Those who embraced the call to arms in the name of the Crusades were assured by the Pope that their sins would be absolved and everlasting glory awaited them.
In recent decades, a misconstrued concept of jihad has emerged, which is a subject of great controversy. Why is this?
The Holy Qur’an itself explains both, in the first-ever injunction that granted permission to take up arms in self-defense:
“Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged- and Allah indeed has power to help them.” (22:40)
According to the prophecies of Prophet Muhammad (sa), the Muslims were going to deviate further and further away from their faith until they were to reach a point:
“Nothing will remain of Islam except its name. And nothing will remain of the Qur’an except its inscription. Their mosques will be full of worshippers but devoid of guidance. The Scholars will be the worst people under heaven. Fitna (discord) will come from them and return to them.”
It was further prophesied that when such will be the condition of Islam, God will send a Promised Messiah (as) who would bring the people back to the true teachings of Islam.
In the ahadith [traditions of the Holy Prophet (sa)], it is also mentioned that the prophesied era of the Promised Messiah (as) would be such that religious fighting would come to an end with his appearance. He would not use the sword or any earthly weapon for his cause.
As religious fanaticism, intolerance, and a rigid attitude towards faith reached their apex, God sent the awaited Promised Messiah, as was prophesied in the personage of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as). He states:
“The Promised Messiah has come in the world to refute the notion of using the sword [or fighting] in the name of religion, and to prove, with arguments and reasoning, that Islam is such a religion which does not need the support of the sword for its propagation. Rather, the inherent excellences of its teachings, its truth, enlightenment, reasoning, and arguments.”
He further stated:
“It should be remembered that today’s Islamic scholars completely misunderstand Jihad and misrepresent it to the general public. The public’s violent instincts are inflamed as a result and they are stripped of all noble human virtues.”
Some argue that the spread of Islam happened through violent jihad. Explaining the reasons for the spread of Islam, the Promised Messiah (as) stated:
“Islam is such a religion that does not need the support of the sword for its propagation. Rather, the inherent excellences of its teachings, its truth, enlightenment, reasoning, arguments, and the active assistance of God the Exalted, the signs, and His personal attention are such matters that always drive its progress and propagation... The message of Islam does not need any compulsion for its propagation.”
Thus, the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), has waged a holy war, with the pen as his weapon and penned over 80 books and tens of thousands of letters.
Indeed this jihad, the jihad of the pen has continued till today through his Successors or the Khalifatul-Masih. The current Successor of the Promised Messiah (as), His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aa), who has continued this jihad of the pen, has written to leaders the world over including to the Pope, Head of the Worldwide Catholic Church, President of the United States of America, Prime Minister of Israel, King of of Saudi Arabia, the President of the Russian Federation and many other.
This powerful practice of using pen, intellect, and wisdom to display the beauty of Islam is the hallmark of Islam Ahmadiyya.
With tens of millions of followers in over 200 nations, not a single example can be given of a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ever taking part in violent jihad or terrorism to kill innocent people. By staying true to the core teachings, this Community has shown a great commitment and passion in their defense of Islam but also for their sympathy for mankind. Instead of striking down others, the members of this Community devote their lives to serving God’s creation and showing love toward them. This requires true selflessness and love for others. This is our jihad, the jihad of the pen.
May Allah enable us to continue this struggle with all of our ability, Insha’Allah.