With Idris Ahmad Bhatti, Vice President Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Slough and Idris Bowden from Burnham Park Academy in Buckinghamshire.
It is always a great privilege to attend the National Peace Symposium of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, an event which enables us to come together under the wise leadership of Your Holiness, and speak out for the forces of peace and of tolerance, across the boundaries of politics and religion. The Buddha said:
“Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed”
A statement that is echoed by the principle of the Ahmadis of Love for all and Hatred for none.
Yet we are having to confront forces of hatred and aggression that believe in promoting hatred and inciting violence against anybody who disagrees with them. I am concerned about the relentless campaign against religious minorities in Pakistan, and particularly the organised incitement against the Ahmadis by the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, which is condoned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Muslim League Nawaz Party.
Ahmadis are already denied all the rights of citizenship, but fanatics and terrorists want to exile or exterminate them. They say so, and when they murder Ahmadis they openly declare their responsibility on the social media.
The Foreign Office lists Pakistan as a Country of Concern in its world human rights report published earlier this week in which it specifically condemns the religiously motivated murder of at least 11 Ahmadis in 2014.
Increasingly, commentators are looking at hatred and its ideology on a wider international basis. The Khatm-e-Nabuwwat has branches all over the world including the UK where they try to persuade other Muslims to boycott Ahmadis and to organise against Ahmadi candidates at elections.
The terrorists who murder Ahmadis in Pakistan are also killing Shia, Christians, and Hindus. Their ultimate objective is to religiously cleanse the state of all who disagree with their brand of fundamentalism, which is similar to that of the Daesh, and the Daesh has announced its plans to extend their so-called caliphate into Pakistan and Afghanistan, naming individuals who were formerly leading figures in the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban as the local leader and deputy leader.
But the existence of a territory described as the reincarnation of the 7th century caliphate and operating a system of governance and law based on how the nascent Islamic state was ruled under the rightly guided caliphs who succeeded the Prophet has a powerful romantic attraction. It cannot be overcome solely by military force, but requires an alternative vision of Islam such as the Ahmadiyya faith provides.
Islam, like Christianity, has fragmented into different sects, the overwhelming majority of which believe in peaceful coexistence with other religions and beliefs. We have to be careful that in combating the Daesh we also deal at the same time with Islamophobia and acknowledge that the west contributed to the growth of extremism by military operations in Iraq and Libya which are widely seen as anti-Islamic.
In the case of Afghanistan, as we remember the British servicemen who gave their lives for the creation of the present government of national unity, there is some hope that their sacrifice will ultimately lead to stability and to the elimination of the corrupt system of patronage that President Ghani is committed to removing.
The influence of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in promoting peace in more than 200 countries, and through its aid organisation Humanity First in combating poverty and disease in the developing world, is immensely valuable and it is a matter of great pride to all of us that the international centre of the Jamaat is here in the UK. We are grateful to Your Holiness and your followers for the huge contribution you make to the welfare of humankind, and the example you set to the rest of us.