In a famous 1863 speech, President Lincoln said, “We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace . . . and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
President Lincoln made this declaration against the backdrop of the Civil War as both sides bled tens of thousands of soldiers. War and terrorism and unbridled crimes rage in the world today. ISIS, Boko Haram, and mutually complicit, resentful alliances between the powers all point to the arrogance of man and his demented ways.
In America, hate crimes, broken homes, alcohol abuse, and violent gun deaths are rampant despite our secular Constitution. China is a world leader in human-rights violations as an anti-theist state. Consistent in all these scenarios is the absence of the role God plays in our lives. In our nation, God is facing expulsion from our lives in preference for absolute secularism. Each nation believes its approach will lead to peace. Yet no nation has found peace, and each engages in horrific human rights violations — whether suicide bombing, torturing children, abducting women, or illegal wars.
To know God is to know each of us has a fundamental responsibility to serve all humanity . . .
Peace is not the mere absence of trouble — it requires the presence of God in our lives. This requires extreme efforts at self-reformation and self-analysis. It requires a fundamental recognition that our God-given responsibility is to serve all humanity. This service requires a wholesale rejection of hypocrisy, intolerance, and extremism in all its forms.
Secular laws alone cannot bring about peace and justice on earth. While secular governance is important, without personal Godliness it is incomplete. Morality cannot be legislated. Secular laws cannot limit the wandering eye of a would-be rapist as he scopes his next victim — instead the burden is placed on women to avoid getting raped. Secular laws cannot limit the greed of the super wealthy as they pound the poor with extraordinary interest rates advancing perpetual poverty and misery. Secular laws cannot hold accountable those who wage illegal wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians die — instead the burden is placed on the helpless who are left to deal with the emerging terrorist groups.
It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts. To know God is to know each of us has a fundamental responsibility to serve all humanity — and a fundamental obligation to constantly self-reform and self-reflect. This is the purpose of our lives.
It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts.
Godliness enables us to recognize that all human life is equal. It elevates us beyond base desires and basic obligations to understand that just because we have a legal right to do something does not mean we have a moral right to do so. Until we recognize that all human life is equal, requiring justice, dignity, equity, and respect for all, there will be no peace.
It is incumbent on all of us — Muslims, non-Muslims, believers, and non-believers — to shed our ambivalence and stop all forms of hypocrisy. The world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at the expense of others. After all, war does not decide who is right, only who is left.
Leadership matters. We need leaders who lead by example with honesty, integrity, and high morals. Leaders who control the narrative and challenge the self-destructive and dehumanizing drift of our global society by speaking out loudly, creating awareness, and emphasizing mindfulness of the consequences of our actions. Prophet Muhammad was one such leader, and history demonstrates how he revived the world through his prayers and pleadings in the dark of night.
If there is any hope for civilization, for an uplifting, ennobling, and worthwhile human community to emerge from the current cacophony of strife, debasement, nihilism, and fanaticism, we must all revert to God and reform ourselves. The Khalifa of Islam, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a man of God and God’s man on earth, is calling us all to come to God and to adopt a life of prayers, love, and compassion. Let us follow the voice that calls us in the name of God.
Let us not pick a fight with God.
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