The ‘road to righteousness’ at Qadian

Tribune India: You wouldn’t know where Qadian is unless you know what it stands for. For the record, the town’s streetlights are switched off because the Municipal Committee owes Rs 26 lakh to the power utility. It has irregular water supply for its over 40,000 residents. And its lone government hospital is too far for comfort. Yet, the town manages to live off its history: it’s the land of the Ahmadiyyas, a community much persecuted in Pakistan, but holds aloft a belief that, as Muslims, the world must be full of love and empathy.So, when you are in Batala, Punjab do look for “the path to righteousness,” hardly 12 km away, the distance warped in time and space. Last week, like each year, the Ahmadiyyas – thousands of them from the US, UK, Canada South America, and of course, Pakistan – congregated at Qadian, where the sect’s founder Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born and lies in peace. “We tend to forget our problems back home when we are here,” said one of them from Pakistan. For many like him, the home is not more than 125 km via Wagah border, and where the prevalent common wishing ‘as-salamu alaykum’ (peace be upon you) can land them in jail. “We are Muslims,” affirms the sect’s fifth Khalifa, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, as he delivers his sermon from his London headquarters. The speech is instantly translated in seven different languages by interpreters. “The paths to righteousness and arrogance are two parallel roads that intersect several times in one’s life. It is often hard to recognize one road from another. What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved with the love of humanity; the way to arrogance is tarred with the fixation for the self only,” says Munawar Ahmad, who belongs to Chenab Nagar Rabwah, 100 km from the Wagah border. “That’s the essence of the Ahmadiyya spirit,” he says. Rabwah housed the Ahmadiyya headquarters before the Partition.For three days in December (any Friday decided by the sect), the town of “small Muslim world” reverberates with the uniqueness of ‘Jalsa Salana’. There are rules, though. And they are: There should be absolutely no malice towards anybody. The word ‘hate’ is not to be spoken. Each visitor is above suspicion. Discussions about the pros and cons of other religions are not allowed. That’s why when one enters Qadian, s/he is greeted with banners of ‘Love for all, hatred for none.’That comes from a community which has given so much to Pakistan (see box) and has received only suspicion and rejection. “Islam teaches that one must adhere to the limits set by God Almighty. For instance, a person who is financially well off can purchase what is lawful. However, if a person who is unable to purchase something attempts to acquire it by employing unlawful means or by incurring a crippling debt, then this amounts to fulfilling his selfish desires over the injunctions of God Almighty,” says the Khalifa in his sermon at the end of the three-day convention.

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