“It equally enjoins us to be circumspect when deciding who our leaders should be when we exercise our  franchise to choose persons to be entrusted with the authority of the State.

The 85th Annual National Convention (Jalsa Salana) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission has ended, with the over 31,000 participants having returned home with a reminder that obedience to government and love for country is not only a civic responsibility but also a religious and moral obligation.

This obligation, as a directive from God, is captured in the Holy Qur’an chapter 4 verse 60 which states:    “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those in authority among you.”

The Ameer and Missionary-in-Charge, Alhaji Mohammed Bin Salih, stated this while opening the Convention, on the theme: “Engendering Patriotism: The Role of Religion.”it was held at Bagh-e-Ahmad, Pomadze, near Winneba.

The President,  Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was the Guest of Honour. Invited guests included the Catholic Archbishop of Accra, His Eminence, the Most Rev. Charles Palmer Buckle’, the Rev. Prof. Emmanual Asante, Chairman of the National Peace Council; the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, the Rev. Dr Opuni Frimpong, and the Secretary General of the Ghana Pentecostal Council, Apostle Yaw Antwi. Expatiating on the above verse, the Ameer told Ahmadi Muslims that all true believers were enjoined to obey Almighty Allah, His Messenger, on whom be peace and blessings of Allah, and obey “those in authority over them,” which he explained is a reference to governments and other lawfully constituted authorities.

In being obedient to the government, Maulvi Salih said, Muslims should also develop unconditional love for their countries rather than allow their political affiliation to divide them.  “Patriotism, which is the love for one’s country, is a great virtue which forms part of the teachings of Islam as taught and practised by our emulation by the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,” he stated.

The Ameer rubbished claims by some Islamic clerics against the participation of Muslims in the election process of their countries by referring them to the Holy Qur’an: “Verily Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them”. ‘This statement,” he said, “emphasises the need for Muslims to be patriotic by faithfully participating in the democratic processes of which free and transparent elections constitute a critical component.”

“It equally enjoins us to be circumspect when deciding who our leaders should be when we exercise our  franchise to choose persons to be entrusted with the authority of the State.

“While doing so, we must ensure that we choose those among us who are not only most qualified for the task at hand, but also worthy of that trust and capable of applying the authority entrusted to them in the interest of the people”.

The Ameer spoke about the responsibility that God imposes on leaders elected to rule. Quoting the Qur’an chapter 4, verse 59, “And when you judge between men, you judge with justice,” Maulvi Salih said and added that political leaders were required by God to rule with honesty and justice.

Turning to President Akufo-Addo, the Ameer said he had a moral and religious duty to be fair and just to all manner of Ghanaians. “In doing so, you will carve a niche for yourself by proving by word and deed that you are a unifier and that you can heal the wounds that we have inflicted upon ourselves”.

Maulvi Salih assured the President of the unflinching loyalty and support of Ghanaian Ahmadi Muslims. “We pledge to work with you towards the achievement of the noble vision which you presented to the people of Ghana who bought into it and overwhelmingly gave you their vote of confidence and approval by endorsing you as President,” he added.

The first convention 125 years ago

From a mere attendance of 75 members at the first-ever Convention in Qadian to the unparalleled turnout of more than 31,000 at Bagh-e-Ahmad, in Pomadze, near Winneba,  the Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in various countries, including Ghana, has exceeded all expectations and achieved unbeatable milestones in the past 125 years.

This tremendous progress is truly the result of the help from Allah, the Almighty and the bountiful blessings of the institution of Khilafat (a system of spiritual succession).

In May, 1891, in a remote and unknown town in India called Qadian, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, announced, under Divine inspiration, that he was the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi awaited by all Muslims and adherents of other faiths. Later on in the same year, the Promised Messiah decided to hold the first Convention and from then on the divine conventions began.

Today, this Convention is replicated annually by Ahmadi Muslims in more than 200 countries. In London, where the Spiritual Leader of the Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, resides, the Convention assumes an international dimension, with members from all over the country attending, including heads of government, Members of Parliament, academics, traditional leaders and representatives of other religions.

At the first Convention, Hazrat Ghulam Ahmad stated: “The major aim of this gathering is that sincere members of the Community should derive religious benefits and at the same time they should acquire more knowledge and advance in their God realisation.

“Allah yields rewards to the sincere persons at every step of their way and no labour and hardship undertaken in His way ever goes waste. I emphasise that you must not rank this Convention in the same league as other ordinary human assemblies. This is a phenomenon that is based purely on Divine Help for the propagation of Islam,” he noted.

In Ghana (then Gold Coast), the first Jalsa was held at Saltpond in the Central Region in the 1920s. As the membership of the Community grew and the national headquarters was moved to Accra, the Conventions began to be held in Accra, specifically at the Trade Fair Centre and Bustan-e-Ahmad, at Agboba, and during the last few years, at Baghe Ahmad, at Pomadze, near Winneba.

In praying for those who attend the Conventions, Hazrat Ghulam Ahmad said: “May Allah, the Exalted, be with him, reward him in abundant measure, have mercy on him, ease up for him his circumstances of hardship and anxiety and eliminate his anguish and grief. “May He grant him freedom from every single hardship and lay open for him the ways of achieving his cherished goals, and raise him up, on the day of Judgement, among those of His servants who are the recipients of His blessings and Mercy.

“May He be their Guardian in their absence until after their journey comes to an end. O Allah! O Sublime One and Bestower of bounties, the Ever Merciful and One who Resolves all problems, do grant all these prayers, and grant us Victory over our opponents with scintillating signs, because You have all the prowess and power. Ameen! Ameen!!”.

Religion must be exploited to build society

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has observed that it is important to acknowledge that religion could be exploited to pose grave dangers to society.

“Today, people commit many dastardly deeds in the name of religion while others kill and maim their fellow citizens in the name of zealous adherence to a set of wayward religious beliefs.

“We must not allow our religion to be perverted by self-seeking people. There can be nothing patriotic about such behaviour. Rather it is the positive attributes that must be exploited to help build the nation,” he declared.

Nana Akufo-Addo was speaking as the Guest of Honour at the 85th Annual National Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission at Baghe Ahmad, at Pomadze in the Central Region.

The theme was “Engendering Patriotism: The Role of Religion.”

The President urged Ghanaians to let their religious nature be reflected in all their doings, adding that if they lived by their religious creeds, it would show in the country’s level of development and behaviour in public life.

“Religion must give us the philosophical basis for how we order our society; the ethical foundation of religion must give us the impetus to enjoin right and forbid wrong.

“The practice of religion in communities should not be limited to prayer and worship only but be a way of life that Ghanaians should be able to use positively in providing the guidance that is needed for the progress of the country,” he stated.

Stating that the commitment to fellow Ghanaians was the fundamental virtue that bound the people and kept them safe, President Akufo-Addo said the citizens needed to re-order the nation in order for it to become the successful nation they aspired it to be.

“Jesus and Mohammed, peace be upon them, taught that patriotism is as important as fidelity to religious creed. We must commit to serving our nation as we are in serving God,” the President added.

Message from our spiritual leader

The Worldwide Spiritual Leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, sent a message to the 85th Annual National Convention of the Community in Ghana, praying that participants might gain immense spiritual benefits and countless blessings from this unique religious gathering.

The message continued: “By the Grace of Allah members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana have always endeavoured to be law-abiding and loyal citizens of their country and strive to adopt the path of peace and cooperation with Government in the best interest of the nation.

“Members of the Ghana Jamaat have always shown loyalty and love for their nation and this is because this is a fundamental teaching of our Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace of blessings of Allah be upon him, who taught us that “love of one’s country is an integral part of one’s faith.

“The Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, has stated that when you attempt to strengthen your faith and improve your spiritual condition, it is essential that you also fulfil your obligations to other human beings. Therefore, you should deal with every person with kindness and compassion and try to fulfil their rights and dues which you owe them as fellow human beings.

“Therefore, keep in mind that the prime aim of this gathering is to achieve closeness to Allah, to advance in religious knowledge and understanding, to bring about virtuous changes and integrate them into one’s life, to save oneself from the desires and futilities of this finite  world, to enhance the relationship of love, affection and brotherhood with our fellow beings, to strive to fulfil  these noble  tasks with all of one’s abilities and capabilities, and finally to make a promise to spread the message of true Islam to the corners of the earth.”

For more information about the Annual Convention and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, go to www.mkaghana.org/jalsa2017 and www.alislam.org