Saturday, June 19, 2010
Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Most people who change their religion leave their childhood faith before age 24, and many of those who change religion do so more than once. These are among the key findings of a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The Zion Project has impact on a two-state (Illinois and Wisconsin) three county area, Lake, Kenosha and Racine County. The reasons people give for changing their religion - or leaving religion altogether - differ widely depending on the origin and destination of the convert.
The group that has grown the most in recent years due to religious change is the unaffiliated population we have identified through our jail ministry efforts. Two-thirds of Christian converts to Ahmadiyyat, mostly Baptist denomination, say they left their childhood faith because they stopped believing in its teachings. Our research (interviews with 20 inmates) has additionally found that many people who left a religion to become unaffiliated say they did so in part because they think of religious people as hypocritical or judgmental, because religious organizations focus too much on rules.
The influence of Islam in jails, prisons.
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the prison system. About 30,000 to 40,000 conversions among federal prisoners take place each year, according to a study for the Justice Department by Mark S. Hamm, a criminologist at Indiana State University. About 6 percent of the nation’s 173,000 federal prisoners are Muslim.
Mr. Hamm’s study, published in December 2007, says that most inmates convert in prison for one of five main reasons: because they are in personal crisis, seek a spiritual dimension, are looking for a group to protect them, want to manipulate the system or are influenced by the outside world.
It is a fact, a disproportionate number of African-Americans are in prison. According to Human Rights Watch, 9% of all black adults are in corrections or on parole or probation. For black men between the ages of 20 and 29, the rate jumps to 33%. This translates to blacks comprising 49% of the prison population. Given a total incarcerated population of 2 million, this suggests up to one million African-American prison inmates (source).
It is estimated that as many as 30% of African-American inmates are Muslims and have converted to Islam in prison (source). That makes about 300,000 Muslim inmates. Not only is this a substantial number in and of itself but it comprises about 5% of all Muslims in America and 12% of African-American Muslims.
Ignore African-American Muslims and African-American Muslims in corrections and you are ignoring a major part of the experience of Islam in America.
Zion Project Jail Ministry
In Zion, our casework provides an intimate look at a variety of behavioral, attitudinal, emotional, and lifestyle variables. The acceptance of Islam/Ahmadiyyat can result in profound, life transforming changes in mid-level functions such as goals, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, and in the more self-defining personality functions such as identity and life meaning.
The Zion Project strategies encourages inmates to maintain their religious conversions included developing close bonds with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community through mentor contact. Several Jama’at members with social service experience have become volunteer Chaplains. They encourage inmates to avoiding people who are negative influences by using incarceration time in educational classes, daily prayer and meditation.
It has been our experience in working with those incarcerated that the overwhelming majority of inmates who convert to Islam/Ahmadiyya, the experience increases self-discipline and helps them interact in a positive way with other inmates and staff, thereby making a meaningful contribution to their rehabilitation.
"After they are here for a while, some inmates come to understand the need for a higher power," said Chaplain Alpha Bah. “Some start studying and attending the Friday serve and eventually they sign Bai’at. You can see the difference almost immediately. You see the difference in their comportment, in their tolerance of others.”
Ignore African-American Muslims and African-American Muslims in corrections and you are ignoring a major part of the experience of Islam in America.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Introduction of Ahmadiyya Muslim CommunityBy Falahud Din Shams
19th Century condition of Islam:
In the 19th century, Islam as a religion and Muslims as a nation were helpless. Muslim empires were crumbling down all over the world. In the sub-continent of India, Mogul Empire was brought down by the British. Islam was being attacked by all other faiths is such a manner that it was an obvious degradation. Muslims had not experienced such humiliation in 1300 years of their existence. At one point it was estimated that there were 70,000 Christian missionaries actively working in British India. Even some of the educated scholars of Islam were being converted to Christianity and in turn were converting their congregations to Christianity. There was no one to defend Islam and it was reflecting in the general helplessness and depressed feelings among the Muslim masses. In the 19th century literature, prose and poetry, the Muslim nation was referred to as “Ummat marhooma” meaning the “deceased nation”. This pathetic situation was not limited to a particular area. The same situation existed with the Muslims of British India, in the Middle East or any other region of the world. Even many Muslims thought that the end of Islam was near and there is nothing that can change this phenomenon.
Founder of Ahmadiyya Community
In 1835, a person was born by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the village of Qadian. God was to appoint him in the defense of Islam. He wrote a book Braheene Ahmadiyya and declared that the only living religion is Islam and the only living prophet is Prophet Muhammad. He challenged all religious scholars of all faiths to debate him.
His announcement was unique because he stated that he has received revelation from God and that he is the Messiah and Mahdi that people were waiting for over the centuries. His argument was that it is only a living religion and a living prophet by following which one can receive revelation and even achieve the status of a prophet. Since other religions cannot and have not produced any person who receives revelation, therefore, their religion cannot be a living one.
He announced this very argument in the following words:
“The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this Perfect Prophet and through his light. The honor of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance, has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet. The ray of this sun of guidance falls like sunshine upon me and I continue illumined only so long as I am adjusted towards it “
[Haqiqatul Wahi, (Qadian, Magazine Press 1907); Now published in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 22, pp. 115-116].
He openly and clearly declared that his status in the eyes of God was only achieved by following the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He states this in the following quote:
“It would not have been possible for me to have attained this grace if I had not followed the footsteps of my lord and master, the pride of all the prophets, the best of mankind, Muhammad, the chosen one, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. Whatever I have achieved, I have achieved by following him, and I know from verified reliable experience that no man can reach God and obtain a deeper understanding of His ways without following that Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be on him.”
(Roohani Khaza'in, Vol. 22: Haqeeqatul Wahi, pp. 64-65)
Belief about Jesus:
Because of his claim of being the 2nd Messiah, the question arose as to the belief among Christians and Muslims about Jesus son of Mary coming back to the world.
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Community announced that Jesus did not die on the cross because it would have been a disgraceful death. Since Jesus son of Mary was a pure and innocent prophet of God, He saved him from the death on the cross. He explained that the real mission of Jesus was to preach the lost sheep of the house of Israel who were scattered in many countries. He established by arguments and reasoning from the gospels as well as from the history that Jesus traveled to other countries and eventually settled in Kashmir India. He also announced that the tomb of Jesus is in Sirinagar Kashmir on Khanyar Street. He announced that Jesus would not be coming down from the skies. Hazrat Ahmad claimed and proved that all the prophecies whether in the New Testament or in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad were fulfilled in his person.
Hazrat Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, restored dignity to the status of Jesus. The Scripture says that anyone who hangeth on the tree is an accursed of God. When someone is accursed, it means that he becomes an enemy of God and God becomes his enemy. That is the reason Satan is referred to as accursed. He refuted any thought that he was in any way insulting Jesus. Instead he was describing the real status of Jesus, a prophet who taught worship of one God and fulfilled his mission of preaching to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He stated his real feelings about Jesus:
“In Mosaic dispensation the Son of Mary was the Promised Messiah and in the Islamic
Dispensation I am the Promised Messiah; so I honor greatly the one whose name I bear. Anyone who asserts that I do not hold Jesus son of Mary in high esteem is a mischief-maker and a liar. I honor not only Jesus son of Mary but also his four brothers, as they were all sons of the same mother. I also regard his two real sisters as
Holy, for they are all the children of the Holy Mary.”
[Kashti-e-Nuh, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 19, pp. 17-18]
-Message of the founder
It is remarkable to note that this claim and this voice was raised in the small village of Qadian. There was no post office, no bus stop, no train station, telegraph or telephone service. Amazingly, this voice was heard throughout the world even in the United States of America. Guests started arriving to visit him from all over the world. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy “wherever the carcass is, eagles shall gather together”. In a short time Qadian was full of life and activity. Young people started to devote their lives and became missionaries. It was an unheard concept of Muslim missionaries to go anywhere to challenge other faiths. They were taking the trains; on the deck of the ships even walking to far away lands of Africa, Middle East, Europe and even America. They were giving the glad tidings that the Messiah, the Prince of peace, had come and peace is at hand for mankind.
Officially Ahmadiyya Community was established in March 1989. Hazrat Ahmad announced his purpose and mission in the following words:
“God almighty has raised me, a humble servant, in this age so that the Islamic teachings may be published and propagated to all nations and all countries and thus leave no excuse for them. For this purpose God has provided me with hundreds of heavenly signs, knowledge about the hidden things, sciences, facts and I have been provided with hundreds of logical arguments. God Almighty has provided for me the means and methods of publicizing the religion, the arguments and proofs to an extent that no other nation in the history was equipped with these blessings. All of the hidden opportunities that have been provided to me were not given to any one of them. It is the blessings of Allah and he gives it to whomever He chooses.”
(Braheen Ahmadiyya page 575)
-Name of the Community:
The name of the community “Ahmadiyya” was chosen by its founder for a very specific reason. Many people may think that the name is used because the name of its founder was Ahmad but it is the farthest from the truth.
Holy Prophet Muhammad had two names: Muhammad and Ahmad. The name Muhammad reflected his majestic attributes and Ahmad referred to his attributes of peace and harmony. When the Holy Prophet declared God’s message, his first thirteen years of life in Mecca was a reflection of the name Ahmad. He was persecuted; the Meccans punished his followers in diverse ways. His response was of peace and harmony and showed patience and perseverance. His life in Medina of ten years was the reflection of his name Muhammad when he defeated his enemies and finally became victorious and God established his majestic attribute.
The attribute of name Ahmad was also to be revived in the latter days according to the prophecies. This reason for choosing the name of the community was clearly stated by its founder:
“There was a prophecy that the name Ahmad would be manifested again in the latter days and that a person would appear through whom the qualities of beauty, which characterized Ahmad, would be manifested, and all fighting would come to an end. For this reason, it has been considered appropriate that the name of this sect should be the Ahmadiyya Sect, so that everyone hearing this name should realize that this sect has come into being for the spread of peace and harmony and that it would have nothing to do with war and fighting.”
[Majmu‘ah Ishtiharat, vol. 3, pp. 364-366]
Highlights of beliefs
Emphasizing where it says in the Holy Quran “there is no compulsion in religion”, he explained that Jihad of the sword is applicable, as a defensive measure in very strictly defined conditions and those conditions do not exist today. Therefore, our interaction with other faiths has to be through discussions, dialogue and exchange of ideas. Instead, he declared a Jihad of the pen against all religions and forces who were trying to destroy Islam.
He also taught the Community to show patience in face of persecution. Just as Jesus was put on the cross for preaching peace and humility, the followers of the 2nd Messiah faced the same circumstances. They showed humility, perseverance and patience and in turn prayed for their enemies. Whether it be in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indonesia, the example of this characteristic of Ahmadiyya Community is manifestly clear.
Success of the Founder:
The Founder of the Community was successful single handedly to defend Islam and restore its dignity. Upon his passing away one of the Indian Muslim leaders Maulana Abul Kalam Azaad wrote the following that is a testament to his success. Referring to the literature produced by Hazrat Ahmad, he wrote:
“This service rendered by Mirza Sahib will place the coming generations under the debt of gratitude in that he fulfilled his duty of the defense of Islam by joining the front rank of those engaged in Jihad by the pen and he left behind him as a memorial such literature as will last so long as Muslims have blood flowing in their veins and the urge to support Islam remains their prominent national characteristic.” Vakeel, Amritsar May 1908
In 1908, when Hazrat Ahmad passed away, another phenomena took place that the world had only experienced at the passing away of other great prophets in history. The system of Khilafat was established in Ahmadiyya Community. God has promised in the Holy Quran:
“Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those before them”. (24:56)
According to this verse of the Holy Quran, God establishes Khilafat in the community because He considers it to be consisting of believers and people who do good works. No other community has Khilafat among them based on the revelation received by a prophet. Under this system the Khalifa is elected through voting procedures but it is not a position that anyone desires. No one runs for this position or runs a campaign. If anyone does that, it disqualifies him just on this basis. So there is no payback after one is elected. The voters discharge their trust given to them by God. It is not a favor to one they are voting for. If they vote for someone not deserving in their opinion, then they are answerable to God for their mistreatment of the trust.
System of love and authority
It is through this system of Khilafat that Ahmadiyya Community is established in 190 countries. It is established across geographical, racial and national boundaries. It is giving the message to humans of love and invites them to be one community under one religion and one prophet, the Holy Prophet Muhammad. All the prophecies in Islam and Christianity point to Messiah in the latter days who would gather all humanity under one banner and establish paradise on earth.
The progress of the Community is under the system of Khilafat, which is of love and authority. Every member of the Community has access and contact with the Khalifa and is voluntarily obedient to him. No army, no police is kept to enforce this relationship. It is based on love for anyone to choose if they so wish. It is under this system that the Community makes financial sacrifices in the way of God and all its work is done without any aid from any government.
Throughout the last 100 years, not a single terrorist has evolved from this Community, in any part of the world, because of its teachings of peace and humility. On the other hand, it has produced a person Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan who became the president of General Assembly of United Nations and also Chief Justice of the International Court of Justice in Hague, Dr. Abdus Sallam who was the first Muslim to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics and thousands of other leaders in their respective fields.
How to recognize the true Messiah?
Jesus gave instructions as to how you will know when the true claimant showed up in the latter days. Jesus clearly explained that false prophets would be known by their fruits. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. EVERY TREE THAT BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD FRUIT IS HEWN DOWN AND CAST INTO THE FIRE. (Matthew 7:15-19)
If every prophet in the future were to be false, there would not have been any need to set such a standard.
Love for all, Hatred For None
Ahmadiyya community today reflects the teachings of Prophet Muhammad through the 2nd Messiah, emphasizing the commandments of love and compassion.
We hear beautiful teachings in the Mosques and churches such as: “Love thy enemy”. What does it really mean and where and how is it practiced? For most people it is a good slogan, makes them feel good but has no practical implication. The community of the 2nd Messiah is the one that has put it into practice.
An incident took place a day before the devastating earthquake occurred in the northwestern Pakistan a few years ago. In the small village of Moong in Pakistan, a few members of the Ahmadiyya Community were in their mosque before sunrise performing their morning prayer. Some individuals came riding on motorcycles and showers bullets at them and fled away. The floor of the mosque was full of blood and bodies of the dead and injured. Among the innocent who lost their lives that day were young, old and children. Since it was a small community, everyone was related to each other so every house was in mourning. Some lost their father, uncle, son or cousin. Even for Pakistan it was a gruesome crime against humanity. These were peaceful poor people who were not involved in activities that could possibly be used as an excuse for this kind of action.
It was such a shocking cold-blooded murders that even the conscience of the Government of Pakistan was shaken. Although persecution and discrimination based on religion takes place all over the world, in Pakistan it takes place under the law with the full support of its constitution, courts and the police. So to affect its conscience is a rare occurrence. The government decided to send one of their high official with large checks for each family affected in the village. The checks were for hundreds of thousands of rupees. Under the TV cameras running and the news reporters all around, the official offered these checks to the relatives of the deceased. However, the official got the shock of his life. The members of this community said that God will take care of them and they would like all this money to be donated to the victims of the earthquake in northwest Pakistan.
The area where the earthquake took place was centered in the city of Muzaffar Abad. It is the city where the opposition and persecution against Ahmadis started long time age. The very first resolution in 1974 by a Provincial Assembly to declare Ahmadiyya community as Non-Muslim was in that city. Slowly over the years, Ahmadis moved away from that area because of the persecution. That was one reason that Members of Ahmadiyya community were safe from the earthquake.
This is how you love your enemies. The very people who persecuted and showed their animosity were the recipient of gift when they needed it. This is the teaching of the Messiah in practice: “Love thy enemy.”
Invitation to all:
We invite all of you to come and taste this fruit and find for yourself that it will give you life and a spiritual uplift. You will find the practical application of the teachings of peace, mercy and compassion. By following the Messiah of the latter days, you could achieve the spiritual status so much so that every morning of your life would bear witness that you spent the night righteously and every evening of your life would bear witness that you spent the day in fear of God, making sure that none of His commandments were broken.
We hope and pray that the day will come soon when all of humanity would get together under one banner and we would have not just one country but the whole world as ‘one nation under God’ and everyone would not just sing but actually practice the slogan: “Love for all, hatred for none”.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
“I pray to God that Islam should soon disappear from the world. O God, accept this prayer of mine. O God, destroy Islam”. Again, on August 5, 1903, he wrote in his paper: “The black spot on the mantle of man (Islam) will meet its end at the hands of Zion”. -- Dr. John Alexander Dowie, Founder, Zion, Illinois USA
For over a decade, Chicagoans woke up to Bob “Uncle Bobby” Collins on their radio. The WGN-AM 720 morning radio host’s death brought an outpouring of emotion and tears as Chicagoans sought to share their grief.
Collins died after a mid-air collision over downtown Zion on Feb. 8, 2000. Collins’ plane, after both airplanes came down in the city of Zion, narrowly missing the Sheridan Nursing Home crashed into the roof of Midwestern Regional Medical Center, 2501 Emmaus Ave., and subsequently exploded. The other plane plunged into the middle of Elim Avenue striking a tree before coming to rest on a residential sidewalk between 25th and 26th streets.
The damaged hospital was founded by a family practice physician in the community of Zion, to serve the medical needs of local residents. It was simply known as the Zion Hospital. It was eventually sold to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and eventually became known as the Midwestern Regional Medical Center on September 25, 1991. The renovation of the hospital had assistance from the Zion City Council. The council approved an ordinance to issue $20 million in general obligation bonds to finance the project.
Several years later, planning was well underway to add a two-story, outpatient oncology clinic above the radiation oncology center. Those plans were put aside when Collins’ plane crashed onto the roof of the hospital. The crash caused extensive damage to the roof and fifth floor of the hospital. The energy that would have gone into adding the two additional floors, instead went into renovating the existing hospital.
All of this probably would have gone unnoticed, except for religious historians and older Zion residents, who commented on the fact that the Collins’ fatal accident brought back dark memories of Zion’s history and its founder, Dr. John Alexander Dowie. Civic, religious and political leaders prefer the image of Zion being a quiet little town, located along the lakeside, some 41 miles north of Chicago and a stone’s throw away from Illinois’ northern border that touches Wisconsin. Dowie’s name is rarely mentioned in Zion, most residents have no knowledge of the city’s founder.
Yet, in the words of religious historian Grant Wacker, Zion was an experiment in social engineering “that ranks among the largest and most grandly conceived utopian communities in modern American history.”
The architect of this brave new utopian world was Dowie. A Scot, who began his clerical career as a Congregationalist, Dowie left that body in 1878 to launch his own denomination, which, despite its purely Protestant nature, he dubbed as the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church (CCC). When Zion City was incorporated in 1902, 7,000 inhabitants made their home in the Christian utopia. Named after the mountain upon which Jerusalem was built, Zion City was to be communitarian and theocratic, a place of Christian cooperation, racial harmony, and strict fundamentalist morals.
Dowie’s Christian perspective was based on “divine healing.” He argued that sickness and infirmity were manifestations of sin and inadequate faith. Consequently, he preached a radical rejection of all conventional medical treatment in favor of prayer and clean living. He had a profound and rabid hatred for the medical profession.
Dowie’s initial claim to divinity can be traced to his life in the “land down under.” It was in Australia, 1876, when a plague had stricken Newtown, a suburb of Sydney. A resident there, John Alexander Dowie was greatly grieved by the horror of that plague.1 Dowie could not bear to see the suffering that surrounded him and he refused to do nothing. It was in this passionate state that he claimed to have had some revelation. Dowie himself writes of this revelation that,
‘The words of the Holy Ghost inspired in Acts 10: 38 stood before me all radiant with light, revealing Satan as the defiler and Christ as the Healer. My tears were wiped away, my heart was strong, I saw the way of healing, and the door thereto was opened wide, and so I said, ‘God, help me now to preach that word to all the dying ‘round, and tell them how ‘tis Satan still defiles, and Jesus still delivers, for He is just the same today.’2
Almost instantly after receiving this revelation, some men rushed into Dowie’s room requesting his assistance in prayer for a girl, Mary, who was believed by a local physician to be fast approaching her death. Believing this to be the fulfillment of the prophecy he received moments ago, Dowie rushed over to Mary’s home intent on her recovery.3 Dowie, upon reaching the girl’s room, began praying fervently for her recovery, invoking God and Prophet Jesusas. Dowie believed disease and suffering was attributed to the work of Satan. In Dowie’s mind, illness was a sign of a lack of faith. The doctor was confused and told Dowie there was nothing to be done and that the impending death of Mary was simply God’s will. Dowie refused to allow such nonsense and continued to pray.4 Throughout this period of the late 1870’s, Dowie grew in popularity as a faith healer in Australia, and soon this popularity spread to many western countries as well as Dowie’s head. It was his new mission to preach salvation and healing, which ultimately led to his moving to the United States, specifically Chicago, Illinois.5
Dowie entered the United States in the year 1888 in San Francisco where he was already known and respected. One woman described Dowie’s early preaching in the Americas as focused more on spirituality than on his healing abilities.6 In addition to this, Dowie would refuse to pray for those who were not faithful themselves.7
Gordon Gardiner provides an account of one Jennie Paddock who was one of the early Americans who was prayed for by Dowie and was healed. Gordon writes, She [Mrs. Paddock] had a large fibroid tumor in her abdomen which had grown so firmly to the blood vessels that the doctors believed an operation would prove fatal…Dr. Dowie first satisfied himself that the woman was a Christian. Then he offered prayer for her…details of her healing were published in the Chicago Inter-Ocean, one of the leading newspapers of the day.8 After this early success, the methodology of Dowie began to morph into something more egoistic and arrogant. One example of his growing arrogance was the manner by which he executed his “healing homes.” It was in May of1894 that Dowie set up one of his first healing homes in Chicago.9 The “healing homes” required that all medical supplies and drugs etc. be left and one need only bring themselves and faith in God.10 Dowie had an absolute mistrust of the medical profession, which was unfortunate. In fact, Dowie was repeatedly arrested for practicing medicine without a license.11
A number of interesting events occurred in relation to Dowie between the period of his arrival in America and the opening of Zion city. One interesting event is the healing of a cousin of Abraham Lincoln, Amanda M. Hicks. Miss. Hicks was plagued by a cancerous tumor and upon Dowie’s prayer was apparently healed. The spiritual aspect of Dowie’s healing was the requirement that one should place his or her full faith in God.12 Another interesting event was a meeting between Dowie and the then President Mckinley. Dowie had allegedly predicted the assassination of the President, which occurred some days after their meeting.13
An intensely charismatic preacher, Dowie quickly accumulated a substantial midwestern following. In 1901 he persuaded 10,000 of his congregants to settle on 6,600 acres of unoccupied land he had mortgaged at the northernmost end of Sheridan Road, now known as the City of Zion. There Dowie proposed to build a prosperous theocratic utopia free of sin, vice, class antagonism, and poverty—a veritable anti-Chicago, in other words. The shining city by the lake was conceived as a hybrid of commune and company town. Settlers would be employed in various collectively owned light industries, which included a lace factory, candy factory, print shop, lumber mill, and bakery.
To keep this hive of industry on the straight and narrow path, Dowie forbade his followers to purchase property outright. Instead, the citizens of Zion leased their homes for a generous term of 1,100 years, their tenancy subject to swift termination should they attempt to exploit it for any immoral enterprise. Expressly forbidden by the terms of the lease were saloons, tobacco shops, opium joints, theaters, opera houses, gambling dens, dance halls, circuses, brothels, and “any place for the manufacture or sale of drugs or medicines of any kind, or the office of a practicing physician.”
Dowie and his followers sought to escape what they saw as the lawlessness and sin of American society by establishing a carefully planned utopia with Dowie as “general overseer.” In the first issue of the paper he edited, The Coming City (June 27, 1900), he declared: “Zion City will be built by Theocrats. It will be run by Theocrats. It will aim to overthrow Democracy, and establish Theocracy over all the earth, and sea, and in deepest hell, even as God rules in highest heaven.”
Initially, some 25 businesses and commercial interests jump-started Zion City’s economy, providing work for the people who moved there from around the world. The Zion Department Store and the factory of Zion Lace Industries together employed as many as 3,000 workers. But by 1905, Zion’s local economy was in shambles. However, some say the fall of Zion was due to Dowie’s worldly ambitions and his declaration in 1903 that he declared himself Elijah the Restorer, messenger of the Second Coming of Christ.
The killing stroke Dowie dealt on himself was claiming to be Elijah. Dowie himself had no record of revelation such that this could have been remotely true. Those who claim themselves to be prophets or any messenger of God must have proof of constant revelation. The most interesting account of the blow dealt to Dowie and his beloved Zion City was his interaction with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. As Dowie was an enemy of all religions but his own, it is not surprising he had no use for Islam.
On February 14, 1903, he wrote in his paper: “I pray to God that Islam should soon disappear from the world. O God, accept this prayer of mine. O God, destroy Islam”. Again, on August 5, 1903, he wrote in his paper: “The black spot on the mantle of man (Islam) will meet its end at the hands of Zion”. Finally, Dowie directed this caustic remark at Ahmadas in his weekly magazine, the Leaves of Healing of December 1903: “There is a Muhammadan Messiah in India who has repeatedly written to me that Jesus Christ lies buried in Kashmir, and people ask me why I do not answer him. Do you imagine that I shall reply to such gnats and flies? If I were to put down my foot on them I would crush out their lives. I give them a chance to fly away and live.”
In the summer of 1903, this brought a well-publicized challenge to an Islamic prayer duel to the death, or Mubahila, from a small village, Qadian, on the Indian subcontinent. “Whether the God of Muhammadans or the God of Dowie is the true God, may be settled...he should choose me as his opponent and pray to God that of us two, whoever is the liar may perish first.... I am an old man of 66 years and Dr. Dowie is eleven years younger; therefore on grounds of age he need not have any apprehension.... If the self-made deity of Dr. Dowie has any power, he shall certainly allow him to appear against me and procure my destruction in his lifetime.”
Whether the Almighty took any interest in their contest, there is no doubt about the winner. Prior to his death, Dowie was paralyzed and suffered from dementia. His beloved city of Zion was bankrupt and eventually placed in receivership. As his life slipped away into darkness, his friends and family deserted him, and now only a faint memory remains…a memory easily forgotten. However, if it were not for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the memory of Dowie surely would have been long forgotten. Dowie’s life serves as a proof of the truth of Islam and the truth of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) and nothing more.
The Truth-Seeker of June 15 1907 wrote: “The Qadian man predicted that if Dowie accepted the challenge, he would leave the world before his eyes with great sorrow and torment. If Dowie declined, the Mirza said, the end would only be deferred; death awaited him just the same and calamity would soon overtake Zion. That was the grand prophecy: Zion would fall and Dowie would die before Ahmad.”
The Herald of Boston, in its issue of June 23 1907, observed: “Dowie died a miserable death with Zion City torn and frayed by internal dissensions.”
In 1928 the popular historian Gilbert Seldes claimed that “since the time of Brigham Young there has been no phenomenon like the growth of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion”. Seldes exaggerated, yet there is ample evidence that the town, which numbered 7,500 residents at the time Dowie was stricken, ranks among the largest and most grandly conceived utopian communities in modern American history. Even so, students of American religious history for the most part have overlooked it.
Zion City rarely is mentioned in the standard surveys of the field, and even in monographs dealing with early Pentecostalism, where it ought to loom large, the settlement usually receives only brief and grudging attention. The second and larger aim of the essay is to suggest that the impulses that ultimately undergirded the community cannot be translated readily into theories of social disorganization, cultural deprivation, or personal maladjustment.
All of these factors were undeniably present, but they do not explain plausibly the abrupt emergence, nor even the long, drawn-out demise, of the endeavor. Succintly stated, no part of the story of Zion City makes much sense unless one appreciates the central and irreducible role of religious motivations.14
It was 10 years ago that Bob “Uncle Bobby” Collins’ plane took a flight that sadly crashed into a medical facility that could never have existed in Dowie’s Zion. The hospital’s staff is comprised of more than 100 physicians; many have practices in the Zion community. The hospital is now Zion’s largest employer and provides medical care to cancer patients from around the world. It is located directly across the street from Dowie’s 25-room mansion, “The Shiloh House,” a museum filled with Dowie artifacts.
Regarding his fateful encounter with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, there are no historical records, according to the Zion Historical Society, despite the fact that more than 25 American newspapers followed the story until Dowie’s death, March 9, 1907. Ahmadas died one year later. His legacy continues in Zion through the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mission House, 2103 Gabriel Avenue.
Hasan Hakeem is the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Zion and is also a Chaplain at the Kenosha County Correctional Facility, Wisconsin. Aasim Ahmad is a Senior at Lake Forest College.
Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad - Khalifatul Masih V
Fifth Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community
Keynote address delivered by His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community (may Allah strengthen his hand) at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s Peace Symposium held at the Baitul Futuh Mosque on 20th March 2010.
(I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah; He is One and has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. After this, I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the rejected. In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful)
All the distinguished guests gathered here tonight, Assalamu ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
After another year, a lovely evening has once again come when our dear friends belonging to different faiths and countries, but who are mostly British, have gathered here because they have a connection with the members of our community.
Some are old acquaintances, of course, and others are new. The fact that people of different countries, religions and cultures have come together and spared us their valuable time proves that they are all noble and decent persons with a desire for achieving a high objective, an objective that is the burning desire of every sincere person in this day and age. And so today, we have gathered here to talk about and listen to that word that can bring about tranquillity and contentment within our heart, and that word is ‘peace’!
This is but one word, yet it guarantees the tranquillity of one’s heart; it is the guarantor of the tranquillity of our home; it assures the betterment and welfare of society; and it guarantees the prosperity of our nation. So, when this word confers so many benefits then why should we not find it attractive? Why should it not be the burning desire of the heart of every good person?
To achieve anything, you must work hard for it. You have to make sacrifices. The higher the objective, the higher is the sacrifice required.
It is necessary that a code of conduct be established in which a person has to sacrifice his or her emotions and respect the feelings and sentiments of others. It is necessary that a person should stand on his own two feet and safeguard himself from envying the wealth of others and it is necessary that one should help the poor and yet be happy to live within one’s means. In short, if you desire to establish peace at any level, then it is essential that high moral values are exhibited, and guidelines need to be established for this.
The Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has taught us a golden principle, which is to choose for your brothers what you choose for yourself, because the lack of peace is caused by an anxiety of the heart.
If we look at the world today, the majority are victims of deprivation, cruelty and injustice. Many powers are cruel and unkind to their own people, whether the cruelty is in the name of religion or the State itself. And Western governments, directly or indirectly, are involved in this oppression.
And these anxieties are borne whenever deprivation is felt; when one feels oppressed; when one feels inferior and feels that there is no hope for justice; when the gap between the rich and poor widens; when one feels that there is a lack of equal opportunities for progress; when there are interferences in a person’s faith by the powerful; and, when a country tries to prove its supremacy over another, and in the name of aid a superior power tries to take hold of the resources of another country.
When this golden principle is forgotten – of choosing for your brother what you choose for yourself – then these and many other similar factors blow peace into pieces.
It is extremely difficult to live up to this golden principle. If we reflect upon these major factors that I have spoken about that are required to establish peace, then disregarding self-centred persons who only think of themselves, even those who truly long for peace do not follow this principle to the standard required. And that standard, of course, is that what you choose for your brother you choose for yourself.
There are many people who want to create an atmosphere of love, affection and brotherhood, yet how many people are actually willing to sacrifice their own wealth so that the situation should improve and restlessness should end? At an individual level there might be a few exceptions, here and there, where perhaps many people give a petty sum of charity, but it is an insignificant sacrifice and they are barely willing to forsake their emotions. When a large chunk of society and many countries become the victims of deprivation and cruelty, and become restless due to injustice, then hatred grows and such small sacrifices are rendered useless.
If we look at the world today, the majority are victims of deprivation, cruelty and injustice. Many powers are cruel and unkind to their own people, whether the cruelty is in the name of religion or the State itself. And Western governments, directly or indirectly, are involved in this oppression.
For example, will the hunger and famine in Ethiopia ever allow peace to be established in the country? On TV we see that very limited aid is being given to that country, but in this famine-ridden and economically shattered nation, such aid is hardly being used to feed the bellies of the starving people.
A larger amount is spent helping the rebels or the armies of the governments to purchase arms so that the so-called leaders can retain control. Ethiopia is incapable of manufacturing weapons. So the weapons must be reaching them from powerful nations, or from particular factions in wealthy countries who have cast their net like the Mafia.
Why have the powerful countries not tried to find a solution to this deprivation, cruelty and injustice in the world? Merely issuing a statement or summoning a meeting of a committee of the United Nations and expressing disapproval is not enough.
Similarly, it is wholly inadequate for the powerful countries to express sympathy with the Palestinians on TV. Why can an effort not be made to establish peace in the same way as in Iraq and Afghanistan? I am not saying that what has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan is right or wrong, but am merely pointing out that the more powerful countries took action according to their own perception to establish peace. A Public Inquiry about the Iraq War is taking place at present in the UK and many of the government officials involved are continuing to maintain that the war was justified, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of the UK public and its politicians consider the action to have been unjustified.
Now the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are reacting in their own way to these acts in response. It was a presumption that if action was not taken against those in power, then there would be a grave threat to world peace, and so action was taken to preserve the rights of the people; but, on the other hand, was similar effort not required to protect the Palestinians from external attacks? Even if we suppose that the Palestinians initiated the war, such a disproportionate punishment could never be justified, whereby innocent children, women, elders and the unarmed are bombarded indiscriminately; an entire city is reduced to rubble. The Western media raised a great outcry, no doubt, and although the super-powers issued statements, no concrete steps were taken to stop Israel from continuing this cruelty.
Can those innocent children who saw their homes being destroyed; who saw their brothers and sisters being killed without any reason; who saw their helpless parents targeted whilst pleading for their lives; can those innocent children ever erase those horrific scenes from their memories? Their inner frustration will make them anxious, and when this anxiety is manifested, it will result in further disorder and that will lead to a reaction to check it. And as is evident from the history of Palestine, such a reaction will, of course, lead to further cruelty on them.
In today’s world, when an event occurs in one place, it is broadcast instantaneously throughout the world. As a consequence of witnessing images of such cruelty, Muslims will, no doubt, develop hatred, and such hatred will continue to increase. Malice and grudges in people’s hearts will multiply. There is already talk of this cruelty being repeated. Let us see what steps these major powers take to prevent this happening.
The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has taught us that to develop peace and to remove hatred from your heart a person must help both the oppressor and the oppressed. Hearing this, his Companions said that they could understand the principle of helping the oppressed, but how could they help the oppressor? The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him replied that you can help the oppressor by stopping him from acting cruelly so that he can be saved from the Wrath of God.
It is necessary, therefore, to take practical steps to stop cruelty, regardless of whether it is the mighty or the weak that are inflicting the cruelty. Peace will not be established merely by adopting UN Resolutions; practical steps must be taken. It is necessary to establish trust and build confidence and for this absolute equality must prevail. Differences between the rich and developed and poor and developing countries must be eliminated. All forms of veto powers should be removed and the finer points of justice need to be identified. We need to be loyal to our covenants, our obligations and our status, and this loyalty can only occur when it is followed to the letter and spirit of the law; double standards should be eliminated. Indeed, the media has also been calling for this.
The Holy Qur’an has taught us how to fulfil the requirements of justice; it says that even if you have to testify against yourself or your relative then you must do so. How many matters are there that are presented in such an institution that was constituted after the Second World War so that the world could be saved from the horrors of war in future, where the major powers accept criticism against themselves and where they admit their own mistakes?
The decision of not admitting one’s own error was taken at that time when the United Nations was formed and a provision for veto power was granted to the five major powers. The fundamental requirement for justice of even giving evidence against oneself was denied. How can this institute establish justice? The strange thing, as I mentioned before, is that they were not loyal to their own principles.
Loyalty is borne from feelings of love and affection. At a personal level the feeling of love strengthens the feelings of loyalty. When a citizen loves his country then he exhibits allegiance and makes sacrifices for the sake of the nation.
If sentiments of love do not exist, then the spirit of sacrifice cannot be formed. Unless a person loves another he can never have good feelings in his heart towards him and he cannot faithfully fulfil the rights due to that person.
In an age where the electronic media has drawn us closer together, into what is called a global village, its benefit will only be felt when mutual goodness prevails. If, instead of good feelings, hatred emerges, if restlessness usurps heartfelt peace, then you must accept that this is not progress, but is something that will take you towards horrific destruction.
Here, I wish to make something very clear, and that is the relationship of mutual love, affection and loyalty between one person and another cannot be established until a relationship of love, affection and loyalty with the Lord Who created us is developed. Distress and anxiety exist nowadays in a large part of the world’s population because the world has forgotten its Creator. People have forgotten the fundamental teachings of their faith. In fact, a great number of people even reject the existence of God.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has also taught us that the majority of Muslims and non-Muslims have forgotten their fundamental teachings and have gone far away from God. This growing distance from God and religion is increasing the restlessness in the hearts of people. And he said that he had come, therefore, to remove such distance so that the rights of God may be discharged and the rights of God’s creation may also be discharged with feelings of love and sympathy. When these teachings are acted upon then we will observe real peace; otherwise, agitation will once again bring about utter destruction in the world.
With reference to peace, I would like to also say that turmoil and restlessness has spread all over the world and every possible way to reduce it should be adopted. Instead of unnecessarily interfering in the affairs of others and erecting walls of hatred, we should look to knock them down. The governments should not interfere where rights are not being violated. No laws should be proscribed regarding those matters that do not endanger the peace of the nation. Of course, where there is a threat to the peace of the nation; where there is a likelihood of harming the prosperity and progress of the nation; where the rights of citizens are unduly curtailed and where a person is made a symbol of hate due to his religion, there the Governments should interfere and legislate.
Allegiance to one’s country should be infused amongst the entire society, and most importantly, the love of God should be instilled in the hearts of the people.
As I said before, and as you are all aware, the world has come together and the measures of distances have changed, and in every country people of different religions live side by side. Therefore, it is necessary and it is the need of the time that within our cosmopolitan societies, the bond of love and affection should be strengthened. Respect and honor for one another should be inculcated. Allegiance to one’s country should be infused amongst the entire society, and most importantly, the love of God should be instilled in the hearts of the people.
If these things are fostered then they will guarantee harmony within each country, and individual restlessness will be replaced by peace.
Over the past few years the hijab, or veil, has been made an issue in Europe. In France, in particular, an uproar has been created, and now they are seriously considering legislation that would partially ban the hijab. Following on from France, politicians in other European countries, and for their own political motives, are issuing statements supporting a ban and this is becoming a means of injuring the sentiments of Muslims.
Whenever I have reflected on this matter, I have never been able to understand what the problem with the veil is that it has become such a threat to governments. Is it such a heinous crime to wear a coat and cover one’s head and chin with a piece of cloth that an entire Parliament should sit to pass a law against it? If it is prohibited for a woman to wear a cloth on her head, then why are men allowed to wear caps and berets on their heads? This means that tomorrow a ban could also be proposed against such caps.
I saw a cartoon recently in a newspaper in which a lady wearing a veil was standing next to a young man wearing a beret. The young man was saying to the woman, ‘no burqah’, and the woman was saying to the man, ‘no beret’.
These issues thus have become a source of sarcasm; however, there are some sober-minded people in whose hands are the reins of the Executive and Legislature who should not interfere with such matters. Should legislation be passed against Christian and Jewish ladies who also adopt religious attire? If bans are imposed against the Muslims, then Muslim countries may impose restrictions on some forms of Western dress in response. This issue has the potential to snowball and it will affect the peace of the world.
By all means, if there is any covering that hides the identity of a person and it is necessary to remove it to identify a person, then the governments or the authorities have the right to do so. But what a travesty, that a woman may be deprived from travelling simply because she is wearing the hijab; or a human life may be deprived of care in a hospital and left in the jaws of death because she was wearing a veil.
Then, for example, an intelligent girl – who ranks at the top of her class, who is not just a Muslim, but an asset to the country in which she lives, is loyal to her country in every possible way, so much so that the love of her country is ingrained within her and she is willing to sacrifice all her skills and abilities for the sake of the progress of her country – and if this girl is prevented from carrying on her education only because she chose to observe hijab, not out of any compulsion, but due to her own free will; does this not render her bereft of her rights as a citizen? Will not this legislation that deprives her of education be the means of wasting a national talent?
This law has not yet been passed in Germany, but due to the bye-laws available to the administration of some schools, an Ahmadi Muslim girl whom I know, who is among the top-ranked students, is being deprived of her education. And there are many examples like this.
This national talent and the future of the country is being denied just because a Muslim girl wants to serve her country and at the same time wants to practise her religion of her own volition and happiness. A girl is being deprived of this right merely because she has a metre worth of cloth on her head.
If this is a crime, then during the winter all European ladies will have to be deprived of their rights when they wrap their heads with scarves. Certainly, it is food for thought that whether it is such a crime to wear this one metre cloth, and whether wearing it renders a woman worthy of being deprived of her basic human rights.
Is this a definition of modern democratic governments that claim to safeguard the rights of its people? Is this the way to bring together people of different nations? Is this the way to foster love and affection amongst people? Most certainly, every just-minded person will oppose this because these things will make the walls of hatred ever higher and destroy the peace of the world.
Currently, the minarets of mosques have also become a major issue, in particular in Switzerland. I said recently at the 50th anniversary of one of our mosques in Germany, that if we suppose for one second that conspiracies are being hatched in mosques, then will bringing down the minarets stop such conspiracies?
Firstly, not every mosque can have such an objection raised against it. I said in Germany with certainty, and I say it here as well, that not a single allegation can be proved against Ahmadi mosques in any part of the world, that they are spreading the message of hatred or rebellion. If you really want to make such an allegation, and if you really want to make the allegation of destroying the peace, then wherever the conspiracy can be found, remove it from the map. Indeed, if you become aware of any conspiracies being hatched in any mosque or other place of worship, then it is the responsibility of the government to take immediate action. However, to make it a general rule that Muslims always hatch conspiracies in places of worship will sow the seeds of hatred.
Politicians in some countries make such statements as a means of cheap publicity. In Switzerland, it is only our mosque, the Ahmadiyya Mosque, that has a high minaret, and so in newspapers its picture is printed and it is referred to as ‘a symbol of peace and security’. Certainly, not all politicians are alike; there are some politicians who make it clear to even their party leaders that they are not in favour of such religious compulsion.
These days the world is passing through a financial crisis. It is said that the recession has ended, that we have passed through the worst and that now we are emerging from it to recovery.
But the public is still affected; jobs are still being lost; the purchasing power is still as affected as it was before. These are matters for governments and major steps must be taken, rather than making choices based on personal preferences.
Will a woman wearing or not wearing a veil affect the economy of the country or the world? Will the wearing or not wearing of a veil or having or not having a minaret affect the moral value of a country or will it lead to recognition of the Creator? Will the wearing or not wearing of a veil or having or not having a minaret improve or harm the peace of the world?
If it does, then I will be the first to accept it because Islam teaches that you should be willing to sacrifice something small for the greater good. But no! All these actions are strengthening the foundations of hatred.
For God’s sake, in order to remove this hatred within your own circles, please act with justice, act with equality, and respect the feelings of others so that the peace can be restored, as has been said by so many guest speakers, almost – not almost – but all the guest speakers.
Amongst us tonight, Lord Eric Avebury is present whom I gave the Ahmadiyya Peace Award to just now. I consider him to be extremely honourable because he has always been a stalwart and at the forefront of upholding human rights. May God enable him to continue this work further, because upholding human rights is the guarantor of world peace.
Likewise there are a lot of other distinguished guests like Tom Cox, who was also a guest speaker and an old friend of the Community; Justine Greening, our MP for Putney; Laura Moffatt, MP for Crawley; Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon and Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden. May they continue to work for the cause of developing peace in society as they have already spoken about it.
It is my prayer that mankind understands the value of humanity and fulfils the rights owed to each other.
Finally, I would like to once again thank all of you, who have come here with good sentiments and graced this occasion with your presence and shown respect for fellow human beings.
Thank you very much.