NEW YORK BANQUET
November 11, 1986
Diwan Sir Eboo, President of the National Council, Presidents and Members of My Councils in the United States, office bearers of the numerous institutions here this evening,
I would like to begin by saying that in the past few years, we have heard in the United States a great deal about the defreeze between Washington and Moscow, about disarmament, about the space initiative and yet our Jamat is led by a President who was educated in Moscow and worse still, the head of our audio-visual department is from Leningrad! Anyhow this is a democracy, everyone is free, as we all know, to go and get their education where they choose -- or so we are told. And this evening there are here in front of Me, spiritual children from all over the world and I want to underline that to you tonight because there are people here who are from Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Burma, Britain, France, etc., and the point I am making is that this is really an international Jamat. And when you refer to yourselves as the United States Jamat, well I think this is true - it's also true to say that increasingly in this great country, are some of the most outstanding families, some of the most talented members of My Jamat from any part of the world - that is a privilege, it is also a challenge.
It's a challenge for the Jamat in the U.S. to organize yourselves, to make sure that you communicate the same language, sAme attitudes, but it's also a challenge for the leadership which the Jamat in other parts of the world will be seeking. For I am absolutely certain, not just sure, I am certain that in the years ahead, young spiritual children will leave this country having been educated here to return to their homelands, and they will take with them their education, their principles, their having been educated in this country but within a Jamat which I hope Inshallah, will be a united and a happy Jamat. So I think that on this visit a number of points need to be made at this last evening together.
And the first is that you are an international Jamat. The second is that I have a great vision for the future of My Jamat in the United States and in Canada. The third is that you have other issues to deal with. Issues of integrating into a new society, a society which is not Muslim, of educating young children who one day will have been born in this country and will never have seen India or Pakistan or East Africa, who will never even have come into personal contact with their countries of origin nor with their languages of origin and what they will learn about their faith, they will learn in this country - not from other parts of the world. Those are challenging thoughts which the Jamat in the United States, the Jamat in Canada, the Jamat in the industrialized world must deal with.
My conviction is that we must deal with it not only on the premise of our Jamat, but on the wider premise of the complete humanistic history of the faith of Islam, so that our younger generations in the years ahead relate not to one specific attitude but relate to eight hundred, nine hundred, probably a thousand million people who by the end of this century will be practising the same faith. I underline this because if you think about the constituent elements of the United States' society, you will recognize that other faiths have had to deal with the same problem, have addressed it successfully, and Inshallah, Islam will do likewise.
I think therefore that there is a magnificent opportunity ahead of you but it is also a very great challenge. It's not a challenge which is going to be won in one generation, nor in two generations. It may take ten, fifteen, twenty generations, but I don't think that matters. I think what matters is a clear vision of the future.
What is it that we wish to establish for the Jamat in the United States and in Canada for their future, and I believe this visit has been exceptionally useful, exceptionally happy and Inshallah will have proven to be exceptionally helpful to the leaders of the Jamat, to the younger generations in the Jamat and indeed to Me as the Imam of the Time, to highlight the issues, to raise questions and to start thinking about the long term solutions that need to be developed. Many changes, many more than you can imagine, will occur in the next year or two years in the organization of the Jamat, in the way the Jamat relates from one country to another because it is My conviction that we have got to build bridges, across national frontiers, across languages, to come together in a real consensus of strength and wisdom around a common view of what we wish to be our future, the future of our Jamat in the industrialized world, the future of the Jamat in the developing world.
This visit has been immensely happy for My wife and Me and I say that from the bottom of My heart. I really wish you to know that. It has been happy because it is obviously the first visit that I have made to My Jamat after the Jubilee, the Silver Jubilee, but more important I have found a new sense of unity, a new sense of hope, a new sense of cooperation, a new willingness to address problems, and I think that, that is the sign of a Jamat which is growing in strength, in self-confidence, in capability. There is a very current expression in English which is to behave like an ostrich. So I don't know why the English seem to think that the ostriches, when they have problems, bury their heads in the sand. I have never seen them do that but any how, well, this is apparently what London believes happens. In any event, this is something that perhaps in some parts of the Islamic world has occurred, is occurring may continue to occur, believing that you can return to the past, and bury today's problems under the dust of the past. That's not our belief. That's not why there is an Imam of the Time to guide the Jamat and I will certainly during My lifetime never wish that to happen, to any of our Jamat in any part of the world.
Therefore the ostrich policy is not for us and I would like to feel therefore, that in dealing with the issues that lie ahead of us, we will look at them straight in the face, we will ask the hard questions. If we cannot find immediate answers, we will go on asking the same questions until Inshallah, we are inspired to find the answers, but we will not give up. We will not go back to an obscurantism, to a form of intellectual retreat into something which is neither beneficial for the present and certainly not constructive for the future.
I believe the United States Jamat can make a major contribution in discussing these issues because what we are really talking about is the way in which our Tariqah and indeed Islam deals with the modern world of the industrialized society. It is that simple, and we must have the courage to ask the questions and to seek the answers.
I would like to say this evening that during this visit I have found great wisdom in dealing with some of the short term problems that have to be resolved, but I hope that the leadership of My Jamat in the United States will from now on, with Me, look at the medium term, look at the long term, clarify our visions and set medium and long term policies so that the Jamat is established here on increasingly sound foundations. There should be a clear vision and I believe that that can occur through your leadership. It is indeed already occurring and I see it in small things. When I visit a Jamat, I can tell, I assure you, whether they are organized or disorganized. I can tell whether the Grants Council talks to the President of the National Council. I can tell whether the President of the Ismailia Association gets along with the President of the National Council. I can tell when the Mukhis and Kamadias are desperate. So, I believe I am able to judge when all My institutions are living and working together in a constructive manner and I have seen this occur here and Inshallah it will ever more increase, and you will build on increasingly strong foundations.
Now, tomorrow My wife and I will be leaving you and we are very sad to leave you and I really mean that. It was difficult to say "Khuda-hafiz" to the Jamat tonight, but that is the way life is made. The Imam cannot be physically with you all the time, but this visit I think has laid the grounds so that the Jamat in the United States and the Imam of the Time will be working more closely than ever before since the Jamat has been established here. I think this is important to say because I know that a large number of spiritual children in this country are concerned about their future and I wish to make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that that future is happy and peaceful.
I would like to congratulate you from the bottom of My heart for a most magnificent visit and I would like you to convey to everyone who has helped you around the country, My immense happiness at this visit to My Jamat in the United States.
I believe we have opened many doors, many, many doors for the future. I am very happy with the vision which I believe you and I are developing for the Jamat and I think it would be foolish to believe that there are no problems - life is made of problems. They occur everyday to just about everyone around the world and I think that it is important that we should simply accept that that is life and we must live it fully and courageously. But I am convinced this visit has laid very, very solid foundations and therefore I wish to express My gratitude and congratulations to all My leaders here tonight, whether you are from the United States or Moscow or Leningrad or Rangoon, wherever you have come from.
I think that you may be happy that though My wife and I will leave you tomorrow, this has been a particularly happy visit and Inshallah will have as time develops, have turn out to be a particularly significant one for the future of the Jamat, both here and in other parts of the world. To all of you I wish you happiness and Barakat in everything you do, and I admire and congratulate you for having made this visit so specially happy for My wife and for Me.
Now the President referred to My children, My two boys here at school and My wife. And I have a commitment which is that these children have got to be educated. We allowed you to get your children out of school during this visit, we had to go and visit our children! So I want simply to underline to you that I will make no compromise for their education. When they are out of school, if it is possible, we will visit with them. But I will not compromise on their education and I want to be clear because they also have one occasion in their lives to be educated and it is now. And I apply the same rules, a little stricter perhaps, but the same rules to My own children, My own physical children, as I mentioned to the Students' Jamat - You have an educational opportunity, use it to its utmost and I hope that message will be clear because I genuinely believe in its importance.
That is what I wanted to say this evening, to tell you that this has been an immensely happy visit, an immensely happy visit and I honestly and truly believe that in the years ahead, with the unity of the Jamat in the United States and in Canada, we can hope and believe that in the decades to come, what you are doing today will turn out to be fundamentally important not only to the Jamat here but in other parts of the world. I want to say again - My congratulations and My gratitude. Thank you.