100 Years of the Majlis-e-Shura – Understanding its Real Purpose

100 Years of the Majlis-e-Shura – Understanding its Real Purpose

Address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Khalifatul Masih V (Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah(as)) to the Majlis-e-Shura UK 2022 on Sunday 22nd of May 2022, at the Tahir Hall, Baitul Futuh Mosque.

After reciting TashahhudTa`awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) said:

‘As you are all aware, during the past couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed and restricted events all across the world and our Jama’at functions were also greatly affected. Thus, in the last couple of years, the UK Jama’at and the other Jama’ats held their national Majalis-e-Shura virtually and the agenda was very limited compared to normal. Therefore, today, it is a means of joy that after around three years, Allah the Almighty has enabled the Majlis-e-Shura [consultative body] of the UK Jama’at to convene in person and for the proceedings to take place fully once again, and the same is with Canada, Germany, and the USA, and some other countries.

Alhamdolillah [all praise belongs to Allah], this year also marks the centenary of the institution of Majlis-e-Shura, and so I hope all members will have reflected upon this milestone and appreciated how, ever since its foundation, the institution of Majlis-e-Shura has gone from strength to strength and its scope has greatly increased. Even a cursory glance through the history of our Jama’at is enough to testify to the fact that the help and support of Allah the Almighty has always been by our side and has enabled the Jama’at to progress and flourish in all respects and this is certainly true with regards to the institution of Majlis-e-Shura. The blessed seed that was sown 100 years ago has not only taken firm root, but has flourished and its fruits are now spread all across the world.

Indeed, in every country where the Jama’at has been able to establish its full organisational structure – that is the Nizam-e-Jama’at –  the Majlis–e-Shura takes place and continues to progress. Whilst the UK Jama’at was established more than a century ago, the institution of Majlis-e-Shura on a regular basis was introduced here several decades later; and it was actually after the migration of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV(rh) [the Fourth Caliph] that it started to function in a much more streamlined and efficient manner. Now, with the grace of Allah, I consider that from a purely administrative and procedural perspective, the institution of Majlis-e-Shura in the UK is very well developed. And I hope that in other countries where the Shura is being held and they are participating in this function also, this will be the same, including European Jama’ats, the United States, Canada and the larger African Jama’ats.

Delegates are elected according to the rules of Majlis-e-Shura. Proposals are submitted, and those that are approved are incorporated into the agenda for debate and discussion by the Shura delegates. Subcommittees are formed to scrutinise the finer details, before the proposal is returned to the full-house, where it is once again debated and analysed until a consensus is reached. Whilst the procedural element is now well established, unfortunately, in my view, there remains a considerable lack of understanding amongst some office-bearers and delegates of the true weight of their responsibilities and the trust placed in them.

In this regard, always remember that the Majlis-e-Shura is a body that is unlike any worldly parliament or assembly. If we cast an eye upon the proceedings of worldly parliaments, we often see how endless debates take place that lead to nowhere other than to fuel hostilities and bitter conflict amongst the parliamentarians. Ultimately, their proceedings often serve to sow division within their people and often ferment tensions between nations as we are seeing at this time. In those political settings, there are normally two sides who have opposing agendas and their respective members come with preconceived ideas or policies that they seek to push forward without considering the merits of others. They desire that their party policies are adopted and try to impose their personal beliefs and wishes upon others. More often than not, politicians crave power and lust after public approval and a desire to increase their own political authority or status. Certainly, it is the hallmark of worldly parliaments and assemblies that their members often prioritise loyalty to themselves and their party over and beyond loyalty to their nation and to the cause of truth and justice.

Alhamdolillah, the institution of Majlis-e-Shura, is, as I have said, unlike any political or worldly assembly; rather, it is a consultative body that has far greater value and stature than any parliament or congress, but this can only remain the case so long as the members of Majlis-e-Shura are those who personify integrity and manifest the highest moral values, and remain free from all forms of politics or deception.

Always remember that the principal objective and goal of Majlis-e-Shura is to formulate proposals that serve to fulfil the divine mission of the Imam of the Age, the Imam Mahdi, the Promised Messiah(as), who was sent to revive the noble and glorious teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa) and to spread the message of Islam to all corners of the world. Therefore, as members of the Majlis-e-Shura, it is your duty to present your sincere recommendations to the Khalifa [Caliph] of the time who serves as the spiritual father of the entire Jama’at. Thereafter, he will consider your advice with the sole objective of ensuring that whatever plans or policies are devised are those that facilitate the spread of the message of Islam, and draw mankind towards its Creator and towards fulfilling the rights of one another.

Hence, I hope and expect that you will have conducted your duties with pure intentions and in an appropriate way at all times. In this regard, there is no excuse, given that delegates of the Majlis-e-Shura, and Jama’at office-bearers, have been reminded of their duties on countless occasions by the Khalifa of the time. All of you should pay heed to the fact that you are not gathered here for any worldly purpose. Your participation is purely for the sake of propagating your faith and religion.

You should understand that Majlis-e-Shura is a united body with one common purpose and so you must fulfil your duties with the utmost seriousness and with absolute integrity. If you participate with this spirit, you will never think that only you can be right or that your opinion has greater weight than others. You will not seek to establish groups like a worldly political party; rather, you will recognise that as members of the Jama’at and as members of Majlis-e-Shura, there is only one party that we desire to serve and be part of and that is the divine party of Allah the Almighty.

As I have said, the institution of Majlis-e-Shura has developed in each country where the Nizam-e-Jama’at has been established. However, it would be wrong to say that the proceedings always take place perfectly or that they are free from all shortcomings. Unfortunately, there are occasions when it appears that certain Shura delegates engage in debate merely for the sake of it, or raise trivial issues that do not progress the matter at hand in any way. Similarly, there are instances where certain delegates do not believe that those who oppose their view are acting with sincerity or in good faith. In light of what I have just said, I hope that none of you will have engaged in meaningless debates merely to assert your intellectual superiority over others, or to satisfy your ego; rather, I hope and expect that whatever opinion or counsel you have given was offered sincerely, with the fear of Allah coursing through your veins and keeping in mind the primary objective of Majlis-e-Shura, which is to bring about the successful spread of the message of Islam to all peoples and nations of the world.

As I said earlier, this year marks 100 years since the foundation of the institution of Majlis-e-Shura within our Jama’at and at such times, it is important to reflect on the past so we can better appreciate the blessings bestowed upon us by Allah the Almighty. If we look back to the first Majlis-e-Shura that took place in 1922, the full budget for the entire Jama’at presented by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra) [the Second Caliph] was just 55,000 rupees. Even adjusted for inflation, that represents only around 150,000 to 200,000 pounds in today’s money. Yet, now with the grace of Allah, the annual UK Jama’at budget alone has reached millions of pounds. The same is true in Jama’ats such as Germany, Canada and the United States, and other Jama’at’s of the world.

Unquestionably, the blessings and favours of Allah the Almighty bestowed upon our Jama’at are without any measure. There was a time when the Jama’at did not even have the means to pay the basic allowances of Waqifeen-e-Zindagi [Life-Devotees]. During those times of hardships, the Waqifeen set a great example of patience and trust in Allah the Almighty. They never complained if they did not receive their allowances or stipend; rather, they and their families tolerated hunger and lived lives of great simplicity whilst continuing their service to the Jama’at with great devotion and zeal. We should never forget their sacrifices and indeed, they are examples for all of today’s Waqifeen-e-Zindagis, office-bearers and Shura delegates as well. Every Ahmadi should offer thanks to Allah the Almighty that the financial circumstances of the Jama’at have greatly improved since then, despite the fact that the contribution towards Chandas by the members is not up to the mark.

No longer is it the case that we do not have the funds to build mosques. No longer is it the case that we do not have the resources to print and publish our literature. No longer is it the case that the members of Majlis-e-Shura struggle to find the basic means to facilitate and fund our Tabligh [propagation] projects. No longer is it the case that we do not have enough to pay the allowances of our full-time Jama’at workers. Where once, the Jama’at struggled to fund the main executive body or the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, now we have reached a stage where, in many countries, individual Jama’at departments are allocated large sums to fulfil their objectives in the service of Islam.

Accordingly, the question we must now ask ourselves is whether we still have the same spirit of sacrifice, tolerance and patience that those before us displayed. Are we ready to serve Islam with the same passion and dedication that our predecessors did, and are we ready to make every possible sacrifice for the sake of our faith, or are the words we repeat in our pledges simply hollow and meaningless claims? This is something for every office-bearer and every Shura delegate to reflect upon.

As I have said, we are all witness to the fact that the blessings of Allah the Almighty continue to rain down upon our Jama’at. Alhamdolillah, we now have the financial means to hold a multitude of Tabligh programmes and events across the world and are building mosques and centres, all serving to convey the message of Islam to others and ensuring the moral and religious training of our members. Many members of the Jama’at are excelling in financial sacrifice for the sake of Allah, to the extent that apart from those projects funded through Chanda ‘Aam or official financial schemes of the Jama’at, some Ahmadis are personally funding the construction of mosques in poorer countries. Here in the UK, following the fire that took place several years ago, the UK Jama’at has been raising funds for the reconstruction of the Baitul Futuh complex. It has been a vast project and financially speaking, a huge undertaking for the UK Jama’at. Though some funds were donated by Ahmadis in other countries, the vast majority has been raised through the contribution of members of the UK Jama’at.

Upon witnessing the prodigious blessings of Allah the Almighty and the great spirit of sacrifice amongst the members of the Jama’at, it is incumbent upon every one of you that you should increase your supplications in gratitude before Allah; rather than considering this a result of the good work of the Secretary Mal, Secretary Tahrik-e-Jadid, Secretary Waqf-e-Jadid, or the members of the various committees, you should recognise the fact that such projects are only possible due to the divine blessings of Allah the Almighty and the spirit of sacrifice ingrained within the members of the Jama’at for the sake of serving the mission of the Promised Messiah(as).

At the same time, every office-bearer and every Ahmadi must remember that financial sacrifices alone do not absolve us from our fundamental duty of improving our spiritual and moral state, nor should the members of Majlis-e-Shura be under the illusion that they will be free of their responsibilities upon leaving the hall today. Do not think that you have fulfilled your duties simply by debating the budget and apportioning funds to TablighTarbiyyat and various other departments, or by considering the various Shura proposals; rather, from now on, you must continually strive to better your spiritual and moral condition. Moreover, you should bow down in prayer, beseeching Allah the Almighty to cover your shortcomings and praying that whatever plans have been made and which are subsequently approved by the Khalifa of the time are then implemented in the best possible way.

In addition, every office-bearer and Shura member has a responsibility to draw the attention of other members of the Jama’at towards the fact that financial sacrifice alone is not enough for them to fulfil their religious duties; rather, their sacrifices will not be truly blessed until, and unless they are continually seeking to improve their spiritual and moral standards. Only then will the members of the Jama’at be those who are the recipients and inheritors of the true blessings and rewards of Allah the Almighty.

If all Ahmadi Muslims seek to move forward with this spirit, then surely, our individual and collective bond with Allah the Almighty will continue to grow and prosper. If we continually endeavour to excel in His worship, then surely, we will be those who attract the everlasting blessings and rewards of Allah the Almighty. Thus, you should pray that Allah blesses all of the plans and recommendations made by the Shura and that it should not be that you only excel in terms of your administration. Far more importantly, you must pray that you are counted amongst those whose worship of Allah the Almighty continues to increase and whose spiritual and moral states become such that they become true role models for others. If you can live your lives in such a way, you will find that people are naturally drawn to you, both in terms of conveying the message of Islam to others and with regard to the moral training of the members of the Jama’at. Certainly, if the members of our Jama’at are all able to reform themselves spiritually, then surely, the gates for Tabligh will be cast wide open and new avenues for spreading Islam will emerge.

In terms of Tabligh and Tarbiyyat [moral training], I also wish to take this opportunity to remind all members of Majlis-e-Shura about the crucial importance of the publication and dissemination of the Holy Qur’an and all Jama’at literature. In the past, there were times when we did not have adequate funds to print the Holy Qur’an or other books in vast quantities. However, now with the grace of Allah, the Jama’at is printing hundreds of thousands of copies of books, magazines, and pamphlets each year. For example, this year, the Holy Qur’an in its original Arabic text was printed in a beautiful format, as was the English translation of Hazrat Maulvi Sher Ali(ra). Similarly, the split word Urdu translation of Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ishaaq(ra) is being published in large numbers. Apart from this, the books of Hadith [sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa)], the books of the Promised Messiah(as) and the Khulafa, as well as many other books are being printed.

Where we once struggled to fund the publication of literature, now when we have ample supply, the office of Wakalat-e-Isha’at has reported that national Jama’ats and individual Ahmadis are not purchasing, distributing and benefitting from these resources as they ought to have been. Indeed, in the central store, there are large quantities of stock that remain on the shelves for extended periods. Similarly, the literature that is dispatched and sent to the national Jama’ats is not being utilised in the way that it should and often remains in the national store gathering dust – that is what my impression is. It should have been the case that the national Jama’ats frequently sent new requests for further literature to the extent that it would have been a challenge for Wakalat-e-Isha’at to keep up with the demand. True justice with regard to Isha’at requires that the books would fly off the shelves in both the central and national stores and that they would reside in the homes of every Ahmadi and in the hands of Tabligh contacts across the world.

Accordingly, the UK Jama’at and other Jama’ats who are listening to my address must make a firm effort to ensure that our literature is distributed more than before. It should be disseminated far and wide amongst the general public so that a widespread introduction to Ahmadiyyat and its teachings and beliefs should occur across society. Further, you should encourage individual Ahmadis to acquire and read the books of the Jama’at and distribute them to their contacts.

Similarly, in this era, we must utilise the various online and social media platforms of the Jama’at to convey the message of Ahmadiyyat far and wide. All Ahmadis should be encouraged to view the online resources and content produced by MTA and other Jama’at platforms and to share its content with others. With the grace of Allah, each year, thousands of people are being introduced to the Jama’at through MTA and Al Islam as well, and amongst them, many pious and good-natured souls are accepting Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam. Hence, do not consider MTA just to be an internal channel, rather it is also playing a vast and very important role in the field of Tabligh. Nevertheless, it is still not fulfilling its real potential in terms of reaching an external audience and so every Shura member and office-bearer should make a concerted effort and plan to introduce MTA to non-Ahmadis and non-Muslims as well as our other sites and platforms, for example, Al Islam.

At the end, I wish to reiterate and remind you all that if, as Shura delegates and office-bearers, you play your role with dedication and humility and bow down in sincere prayer seeking the mercy of Allah the Almighty, then surely, His help and blessings will rain down upon the Jama’at more than before. Moreover, you will also, Insha’Allah, inspire other Ahmadis to spread the message of Islam with a new passion.

Today, some of our opponents allege that Ahmadis say one thing, but do another and that our beliefs and practices have no link to Islam. These are baseless allegations, but it is a reminder to us to ensure that there is never even the slightest contradiction or discrepancy between our words and deeds and that all of our acts are according to the teachings of Islam.

Certainly, today where we are witnessing a complete lack of peace and security in the world, the only pathway to salvation and the only way to free humanity from the destruction toward which it is hurdling is for mankind to recognise and submit before its Creator. Consequently, we must take the lead and awaken the people of our nations and enlighten them of the fundamental importance of fulfilling the rights of God Almighty and of one another. Yet, we cannot do this until we are ourselves living up to the teachings and values instilled in us by the Holy Qur’an, the Holy Prophet(sa), and in this era, the Promised Messiah(as).

So, we must try with every fibre of our being to ensure that as many people as possible come to hear the message of Ahmadiyyat and understand the purpose for the advent of the Promised Messiah(as). Only then can it be said that we are fulfilling the objectives of the institution of Majlis-e-Shura. Only then will you truly be serving as a sincere helper to the Khalifa of the time as he seeks to guide the Jama’at in a way that enables the spread of Islam Ahmadiyyat to reach new heights. Only then will you be playing your role in ensuring that all members of the Jama’at across the world are moving in one direction as a united community at the hand of Khalifatul Masih [Caliph of the Messiah] towards the true and final spiritual victory of Islam and the Holy Prophet(sa)Insha’Allah [God-willing].

And so I hope and pray that whatever you have deliberated upon and whatever recommendations you send to me are those that have been formulated with the true objectives of Majlis-e-Shura kept in mind at all times and with the deep desire that the bond of unity within our Jama’at reaches new levels and that the message of true Islam reaches all parts of the world. With these words, I pray that may Allah the Almighty bless the institution of Majlis-e-Shura as it enters its second century, and may our Jama’at forever witness the divine blessings and rewards of Allah the Almighty.’

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