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Allah's Mercy Transcends all other Attributes

Friday Sermon

08.06.2018

Delivered from Baitul Futuh Mosque

Allah's Mercy Transcends all other Attributes

 

After reciting the Tashahud, Ta‘awuz, and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa recited verse 157 of Surah al-A‘raf and then stated: 

The translation of this verse is as follows: 

“And ordain for us good in this world, as well as in the next; we have turned to Thee with repentance.’ God replied, ‘I will inflict My punishment on whom I will; but My mercy encompasses all things; so I will ordain it for those who act righteously, and pay the Zakat and those who believe in Our Signs.” 

It is evident from this verse that God Almighty manifests His favours upon His servants in extraordinary ways. God Almighty states, “My mercy encompasses all things.” Rehmat [mercy] means “to be lenient”, “to be gracious” and “to shower mercy”. It means that God Almighty treats people with leniency and overlooks their shortcomings to an unlimited extent. God Almighty treats His servants with such kindness that has no bounds. The kindness of God Almighty and such treatment is so prevalent that it encompasses everything. His Rehmat includes grace and mercy. His Grace is that He has created countless things in the world, without man asking for them. He then manifests His mercy to those, who fulfil His rights, follow His commandments and implore Him with humility.  

God Almighty here states that His objective is not to punish people. Some people have the gross misconception, “Why did He create Man, if He was to punish him?” God Almighty says that, “This is not My objective. However, those people become recipients of my punishment, who exceed all bounds of evil deeds. Moreover, My punishment is temporary and it serves to reform and to develop a sense of realisation. Eventually, a time will come that even the dwellers of hell will partake of My boundless mercy. Their punishment will cease. The punishment of hell will be a result of their evil deeds and this punishment in fact will become a means for their reformation.” 

Thus, if we ponder over this, we realise that, in fact, this punishment is also a kind of reformation. This period of punishment is, in a way, a kind of mercy. However, God Almighty is also the Master of the Day of Judgement. Thus, He can cover those people, who seem sinful to us, with the mantle of His mercy and forgiveness and let them pass by without any punishment. Nonetheless, drawing our attention to the paths of righteous deeds, God Almighty states, “My Mercy encompasses everything, and I will certainly bestow My Mercy upon those, who are righteous, pay Zakat and believe in My signs”, that is those, who believe in the signs of God Almighty. Thus, God Almighty has said, “I will, considering it My right, certainly cover those with the mantle of My mercy, who follow the path of righteousness, pay Zakat and follow My commandments with due diligence and conviction and have complete faith in [My] Signs.”

Then, at another place God Almighty states:

اِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللّٰهِ قَرِيۡبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِيۡنَ

That is, “Surely, the mercy of Allah is nigh unto those who do good.” Mohsin – those who do good – are those who fulfil their duties in accordance with all of its requirements. Hence, one who fulfils the requirements of righteousness, acts in accordance with the commandments of God Almighty, has absolute conviction in the signs of God Almighty and submits himself before Him will partake of the mercy of God Almighty. Thus, a believer should try his utmost to act in accordance with the commandments of God Almighty, tread on the path of righteousness and be absolutely firm in his faith. Only then can an individual be deemed a believer. 

Furthermore, he should try to acquire the blessings of this declaration of God Almighty that the mercy of God Almighty is nigh unto those who act in accordance with the commandments of God Almighty by fulfilling its due rights. Furthermore, God Almighty has made it incumbent upon Himself and it has been decreed that if one adheres to this, then the breadth of His Mercy will encompass such people. How Gracious and Benevolent is our God! How can this be possible? We are the servants of God Almighty; how then can a servant demand his rights from his Master? However, the Master of the heavens and the earth says that if we tread on the path of righteousness and if we continue to act in accordance with His commandments whilst believing in His signs, we will most certainly become deserving of His mercy. 

The very first aspect that has been mentioned by God Almighty here is righteousness. In fact, if a person truly comprehends righteousness, then all other virtues and acquiring strength in one’s belief are encapsulated within it. 

With regards to this, the Promised Messiahas states at one place, “The entire spiritual beauty of a person lies in him treading on all the subtle paths of righteousness. The subtle paths of righteousness are the minute details and pleasant features of spiritual beauty. It is evident [that this is achieved through] upholding the trusts of God Almighty and to act in accordance with one’s spiritual pledges to the best of one’s abilities”, i.e. to uphold them in their proper manner. “Furthermore, it is achieved through utilising every faculty and limb from head to toe, which are outwardly visible in the form of eyes, ears, hands, feet and other limbs, as well as those that are internal such as the heart and other faculties and moral qualities, on their appropriate occasion and to the best of one’s ability.” 

In other words, one must utilise all these faculties properly, and in accordance with the commandments of God Almighty and to fulfil their due right. “Furthermore, this is achieved through restraining one’s faculties from unlawful use and to remain mindful of their subtle attacks.” 

That is, to restrain them from improper use and to remain mindful of them as Satan utilises these limbs and faculties in order to secretly attack. To be mindful of this is the responsibility of man. Only then will one truly be able to tread on the path of righteousness and only then will one truly be able to fulfil the commandments of God Almighty. 

The Promised Messiahas states, “On the other hand, he should also be mindful of the rights of mankind. The entire spiritual beauty of a person is attached to this aspect. Furthermore, God Almighty has defined righteousness as a garment in the Holy Quran. Hence, Libas-ul-Taqwa [garment of righteousness] is an expression from the Holy Quran. This indicates towards the fact that spiritual beauty and elegance can only be attained through righteousness. Furthermore, righteousness is that a person upholds and fulfils every trust of God and spiritual covenant made with Him, as well as the trusts and covenants made with His creation to the best of one’s abilities. In other words, he should uphold and fulfil even the minutest aspects of it to the best of his abilities.” (Zameema Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part 5, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 21, pp. 209-210)

A person should uphold and act in accordance with even the subtlest aspects of this to the best of his abilities.

Thus, when a person acquires this standard, they reach the stage where the mercy of God Almighty becomes incumbent upon His servant. In other words, God Almighty makes this incumbent upon Himself. And as I mentioned earlier, what status does a servant have that they may seek something from God Almighty as if it was their right?

We are currently passing through the days of Ramadan and only a week remains. In relation to this, the Holy Prophetsa has said that when the month of Ramadan approaches, the doors of heaven are opened, the doors of hell are shut and Satan is shackled. (Sahih Mulsim, Kitab-ul-Siyam, Baab Fazlu Shar-e-Ramadhan, Hadith no.2495) 

However, it is only the believers who truly benefit from this. Only a person who truly believes and acts in accordance with the commandments of God Almighty is able to derive benefit from this. The followers of Satan do not refrain from their activities even during these days. Acts of indecencies and shamelessness in the world are carried out on a daily basis. These have not come to a halt during Ramadan. Hence, this is a glad tiding for the believers, who tread on the path of righteousness and those who partake of the mercy of God Almighty. God Almighty has extended His mercy for them in even greater abundance than before. Thus, derive benefit from this and try to fulfil the rights of God Almighty and try to act in accordance with His commandments. 

Drawing our attention towards the fulfilment of these due rights, the Holy Prophetsa said on one occasion that the person who fulfils the requirements of faith and wakes up during the nights of Ramadan in order to pray with the intention of acquiring its reward, their previous sins would be forgiven. All of their previous sins would be forgiven. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Iman, Baab Saum-e-Ramadhan, Hadith 38)

This is another manner in which the vastness of the mercy of God Almighty has been manifested, in that a person makes a small effort and God rewards him manifold. His graciousness and mercy are manifested in various ways. Thus, fortunate are those who derive benefit from these days. Furthermore, this is also one of His blessings in that He has drawn our attention towards seeking the Laylat-ul-Qadr [The Night of Decree] in these last days, so that we may witness the signs of the acceptance of prayers even greater than before. This is also not our right. This, too, is His blessing so that He may encourage His servants to draw closer to Him and it is an expression of His great mercy.

Then, we find in a Hadith that the first ten days of Ramadan are a period of mercy, the second ten days are a period of forgiveness and the last ten days are a period of being saved from the fire. (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 8, p. 463, Hadith 23668, Muassisatul Risala, 1985, Beirut)

During Ramadan, when a person observes the fast and along with it, acts in accordance with the commandments of God Almighty greater than before, and when they increase their worship and progress in righteousness, they then become the recipient of God Almighty’s mercy even greater than before. The reason for this is that God Almighty says that when a person observes the fast for His sake and refrains from certain lawful aspects in these days purely for His sake, then God Almighty Himself becomes the reward for the one who observes the fasts. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Saum, Hadith 1904)

If God Almighty Himself becomes the reward, then surely such a person has acquired the means for their forgiveness. Furthermore, if they have acquired these means and God has forgiven them and accepted their repentance, then a person shall surely also be saved from the fire; they are saved from the fire of this life as well as from the fire of the hereafter. However, the condition is that they observe the fast sincerely for the sake of God Almighty and also act in accordance with the commandments of God. Following this, these deeds become a perpetual part of one’s life and become the means of permanently remaining immersed in the mercy of God Almighty. The mercy of God Almighty is not limited to the first ten days of Ramadan. Rather, it also carries forward to the middle ten-day period as well as the last ten days. As a matter of fact, it will permanently remain with an induvial as long as one’s deeds are performed with righteousness and firm faith. Similarly, His forgiveness is not limited to the second ten days [of Ramadan]. Rather, it remains with a person until the end of Ramadan and even beyond that. As a matter of fact, it remains with a person for as long as they live. It protects a person from the punishment of God Almighty. Similarly, a person does not remain safeguarded from the fire in only these ten days. Rather, even if a person passes the month of Ramadan, considering the fact that they derive benefit from the mercy of God Almighty and seek forgiveness from Him, they will continue to remain distant from the fire. However, if after the month of Ramadan, we fall prey to worldly affairs, forsake righteousness, do not pay heed to the commandments of God Almighty, become weak in faith and disregard the signs of God Almighty, then it is similar to the case of a person building a safe fortress and then ruining it and destroying it with their own hands.

Therefore, God Almighty has made Ramadan a source for obtaining His mercy more than ever before and to attain His nearness. The mercy of God Almighty and His forgiveness is not limited to a few days. It is not possible to be delivered from fire if His forgiveness is sought only for a few days or a small period of time and it is accepted.

Hence, we should continuously ponder over this. In this day and age, the Promised Messiahas has guided us at every step in regards to how we can obtain the nearness of God Almighty and what its true essence is and how we can become those who obtain His mercy; how God Almighty provides the means to cover us in His mercy; how He grants us manifold rewards for just one action of ours and becomes a source of forgiveness; how we should strive towards obtaining His forgiveness in order to be under the shade of His mercy forever. In light of this, I will present certain extracts and will elaborate upon them as well. 

Whilst explaining the verses that I recited before you, the Promised Messiahas states, “God Almighty says, ‘I will inflict My punishment on whom I will, and My Mercy encompasses all things. Those who safeguard themselves from every type of shirk [associating partners with God], disbelief and immoralities and they pay the Zakat, and those who have firm belief in Our signs, I shall decree My mercy for them.’” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part 4, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 1, p. 564)

Here the Promised Messiahas has elaborated on the word taqwa [righteousness] in three words, that is, safeguarding from shirk, disbelief and immoralities. Nowadays, immodesty and vulgarity can be found everywhere on the television, internet and other media platforms. Hence, protecting oneself from such vulgarities and vain programs can also lead one to attain the Mercy of God Almighty. 

During these days of Ramadan, one has to wake up early to keep the fasts and there are other engagements as well. Perhaps it is for this reason that a lot of people do not pay much attention to such things during the month of Ramadan, or they do not participate in vain endeavors, and they protect themselves from it, however it is necessary to guard oneself from these things at all times. 

Nowadays, complaints are received about the youth, in fact, also regarding the adults too that such vulgarities are polluting their minds and are corrupting morals and they are moving away from faith. Hence, every Ahmadi should pay close attention towards this and make every effort in this regard. Also, they should utilise these various sources in a proper manner and with great caution. 

In one place, the Promised Messiahas states, “It is evident from this verse that God’s mercy is for everyone and is vast. And His wrath which manifests as a result of His attribute of being ‘Adl [Most Just], only comes into effect in certain particular circumstances. That is, this attribute is manifested when one transgresses the Divine laws.” (Jang-e-Muqadas, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 207)

Therefore, the reason God Almighty punishes someone is when one contravenes God’s Divine law. As it has been mentioned already that such a punishment is carried out for the sake of reformation, and ultimately the mercy of God Almighty prevails over all things. The Promised Messiahas further states, “Nevertheless, it is evident that if God Almighty’s wrath descends upon someone then it must be because that person has exceeded all limits in breaking the law of God. Such a person falls under His wrath despite the fact that God Almighty has expanded the scope of His Mercy.”

Whilst elaborating on this further, the Promised Messiahas states, “When God admonishes one about His impending punishment, it does not mean that it will most certainly occur. Rather, owing to His Holy and Pure Being, it is necessary that He punish one who commits an offence. However, when the offender seeks to fulfil the due right of imploring for forgiveness and repentance, and supplicates with utmost fervency, then His Mercy overcomes His Wrath and conceals it within it. This is the meaning of the verse,

عَذَابِيۡۤ اُصِيۡبُ بِهٖ مَنْ اَشَآءُ ۚ وَ رَحْمَتِيۡ وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيۡءٍ

That is, ‘I will inflict My punishment on whom I will; but My mercy encompasses all things’, in other words, 

رَحْمَتِيْ سَبَقَتْ غَضَبِيْ

(Tohfa Ghaznavia, Ruhani Khazain Vol. 15, p. 537)

However, if one repents, seeks forgiveness, supplicates and prays, and if they fulfil the due rights of this, then the Promised Messiahas states that God Almighty has not made it incumbent upon Himself that He must punish, rather, He has made it incumbent upon Himself to grant His mercy for such people. His mercy encompasses His wrath. His wrath vanishes and is concealed behind a veil. 

The Promised Messiahas states that one of the ways to attract the mercy of God Almighty is through seeking forgiveness and repentance. What is the true essence of istighfar [seeking forgiveness]? What does it really mean? Regarding this, the Promised Messiahas says, 

“The true meaning and essence of seeking forgiveness or istighfar is to implore God so that no human weakness becomes manifest and so that God may support human nature with His strength and envelop it within the circle of His protection and succour.”

What is the objective of istighfar? It is to conceal a person’s weaknesses for humans are weak. It is so that God Almighty provides support to the human nature; so that He may safeguard humans from sinning and erring. 

The Promised Messiahas states, “The word istighfar is derived from ghafara, which means to cover up. Hence, this supplication implores from God that He, with His power, may cover up the natural weakness of the person who seeks forgiveness from God.” That is, the natural mistakes of a person seeking forgiveness, which are countless, are not made apparent to others and such a person does not commit sin due to those weaknesses. “This meaning is then extended to the masses at large in that God may cover up such sins which have already been committed.” That is, He conceals (from others) the sinful act that has been carried out by someone. He safeguards one from its ill effects and the punishment that might result from it. 

“However, the true and proper meaning is that God protects from human frailty the person who seeks forgiveness and performs istighfar with His own Divine power and grants him strength from His own strength, and knowledge from His own knowledge and light from His own light. For after having created man, God has not left him alone, but as He is man’s Creator and the Maker of all his external and internal faculties, He is also the Sustainer of man. In other words, He safeguards with His unique support everything that He has created. God is All-Sustaining and maintains creation through His own support. It is, therefore, incumbent on man that since he has come into existence by the creating Hand of God, he should seek to safeguard the features of his creation from corruption through God’s support.” (Ismat-e-Anbiya, Ruhani Khazan, Vol. 18, p. 671) 

After creating mankind, God Almighty did not forsake humanity. He is the All-Sustaining, hence, the creation of man is subservient to the Divine laws. Despite the fact that God Almighty created mankind and has occurred through His Divine will, however the human endeavor is subservient to the Divine laws and it is essential that it must pass through the Divine laws of God Almighty. Therefore, the Promised Messiahas says that it is integral for mankind after having been created to express God’s attribute of All-Sustaining by following and adhering to His commandments. One should focus their attention towards prayer and istighfar so that God Almighty manifests His attribute of All-Sustaining and once again provides the strength through which man can follow His commandments. 

Elaborating on this further, the Promised Messiahas says, “Therefore, this is a natural requirement of man for which he has been directed to perform istighfar. It is to this that the Holy Quran refers in the following:

اَللّٰهُ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَۚ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّوۡمُ

[There is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining.] And so, it is God who is both the Creator and Sustainer. The attribute of creation was manifested when man was brought into existence, but the divine function of providing sustenance was to work ceaselessly.” 

When man was created, the attribute of creation was completed, however the attribute of the All-Sustaining is always with man as long as he lives. 

“Hence arose the need for constant istighfar.” In order to adopt this attribute of All-Sustaining, there is a constant need to do istighfar. “Every attribute of God bestows a form of grace, and istighfar is needed to draw out the grace of God’s support.” 

If one wishes to benefit from the bounty of God Almighty’s attribute of All-Sustaining, then carry out istighfar so that God Almighty may enable one to properly utilise the God-given abilities, strengths and powers in accordance with His desire. The Promised Messiahas states, “It is to this that the following verse of Surah Al-Fatihah refers:

اِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَ اِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِيۡنُ

This means that You alone [O God] do we worship and You alone do we implore so that Your support and providence may uphold us and protect us from stumbling, lest we fall prey to weakness and are unable to worship you.” (Ismat-e-Anbiya, Ruhani Khazan, Vol.18, pg.672) 

Hence, this is the fundamental point which we must always keep in mind. To merely think that just because God Almighty has said that His Mercy encompasses everything, therefore one can do as they will and later they will simply seek God Almighty’s mercy and forgiveness; this is not correct. God Almighty has taken it upon Himself to show mercy to those who come to Him, who adhere to His commandments and who seek His forgiveness. 

Further expounding on the topic of istighfar, the Promised Messiahas states, “There are some people who are aware of the sins they are committing and there are others who are completely unaware of them.” They do not even know that they are committing a sin, they have become completely insensitive to it and are oblivious to what sin is. “For this reason, God Almighty has made it forever incumbent upon us to do istighfar so that man may continue to seek forgiveness for every sin; be it outward or hidden; whether one is aware of it or not; whether it is the sin committed by one’s hand, foot, tongue, nose, ear or eye, or anything else.” However many body parts there are, there should not be a single sin carried out by any of them. Thus, one should continue to seek istighfar

The Promised Messiahas further states, “In these days we should always recite the prayer of Hazrat Adamas:

رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَاۤ  اَنۡفُسَنَا وَ اِنۡ لَّمْ تَغْفِرْلَنَا وَ تَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الْخٰسِرِيۡنَ

This prayer has already been accepted.” 

[The translation is] “O Allah I have wronged my soul and if Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we shall surely be of the losers.” The Promised Messiahas states that this prayer has been accepted from the outset. “Therefore, do not live a life of ignorance. Those who do not live their lives in ignorance, it is impossible for them to be afflicted by a calamity which they cannot bear. No calamity befalls them without the will of God, just as the following supplication was revealed to me:

رَبِّ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ خَادِمُكَ رَبِّ فَاحْفَظْنِيْ وَانْصُرْنِيْ وَارْحَمْنِيْ

[O my Lord, everything is subservient to You, O Lord, protect me and help me and have mercy on me].” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, pp. 275-276, UK, 1975)

Therefore, to come under the protection of God Almighty, to attain His succour and help, and to gain His mercy, it is necessary to make an effort, recite istighfar and pray. We often use the terms istighfar and taubah [seeking repentance], so in order to clarify the difference between the two, the Promised Messiahas states, 

Istighfar [seeking forgiveness] and taubah [seeking repentance] are two different things. One reason for istighfar to be presiding over taubah,” i.e. it has priority over it and comes before it, “is that istighfar is the aid and strength which is sought from God Almighty.” In order to protect oneself from sin, one should recite istighfar to acquire the strength and succour from God Almighty. “Taubah however means to stand on one’s own two feet.” 

After having protected oneself from sin and remaining steadfast on this through carrying out istighfar, one then needs to pray to God Almighty to remain resolute thereon and for that there is taubah, which is a form of a prayer. Taubah is therefore the prayer wherein one states, “O Allah! Enable us to remain firmly established on the prayers which we have made whilst seeking istighfar. Make this salvation from the Fire that You have granted us eternal. Do not allow any of our actions or efforts to become a means of incurring Your displeasure, lest we regress to our former state.” Therefore, taubah is in order to acquire this and hence, 

وَ اَتُوْبُ اِلَيْهِ

“And I turn to Him” has been stated. This is so that He may enable us to remain firmly established upon this and that we may continue to refrain from sin, attain His forgiveness and continue to be saved from the Fire. 

The Promised Messiahas states, “It is the practise of God that when one seeks help from Him, He grants a strength, and after granting it, man can stand on his own two feet and a strength will be granted to him to carry out noble deeds, which is called,

تُوْبُوْا اِلَيْهِ

‘Turn to Him’.”

The Promised Messiahas further states, “One is enabled to do taubah once he has carried out istighfar. If one does not do istighfar, then know that the ability to do taubah will certainly die away. So if one does istighfar in such a way and then does taubah, then the result will be:

يُمَتِّعْكُمۡ مَّتَاعًا حَسَنًا اِلٰۤي اَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّي

That is, ‘He will provide for you a goodly provision until an appointed term.’”

The Promised Messiahas further states, “It is the established practise of God Almighty that if you carry out istighfar and taubah, then you will continue to attain higher ranks. Every faculty has its own scope in which one can excel in its various levels. Not every person can become a Nabi (prophet), Rasul (messenger), Siddiq (truthful) or Shaheed (martyr).” (Malfuzat, Vol.2. pp.68-69, UK, 1985)

Whatever bounds have been appointed in one’s ranks, the levels to which one can reach, it is necessary for one to make exerted efforts to attain that, and that can only be done so through istighfar and taubah.”

Further explaining taubah, the Promised Messiahas states, “In Arabic idiom, taubah (repentance) means ‘returning’, and that is why in the Holy Quran, God’s name is also Tawwab, that is to say, He Who is Oft-Returning with compassion. This means that when a person discarding sin turns to God with a sincere heart, God Almighty turns even more to them. This is altogether in accord with the law of nature. God Almighty has made it part of human nature that when a person turns to another with a sincere heart, the latter’s heart is also softened for him. Then how can reason accept that when a servant turns towards God Almighty with a true heart, God should not turn to them? Indeed God, Who is Benevolent and Merciful, turns even more towards His servant. That is why in the Holy Quran, God’s name, as we have just mentioned, is also Tawwab, meaning Oft-Returning with compassion. 

Man’s turning to God is through remorse and humility and meekness, and God’s turning to man is with mercy and forgiveness. If mercy was not one of the attributes of God Almighty, no one would be able to attain deliverance from their sins.” 

The Promised Messiahas continues, “It is a pity that people do not ponder over the attributes of God Almighty and depend entirely upon their own actions,” i.e. those who think that that can achieve everything through their own actions.

“But can it be the attitude of God, Who, without any action proceeding from man, has created thousands of bounties for him upon the earth, that, when weak man, being warned of his heedlessness should turn to Him, a turning which is like death and should put off his old garment and should be consumed in the fire of His love, God should not turn to him with mercy? Is this the law of nature?” (Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, pp. 133-134)

The Promised Messiahas is responding to those who claim that God Almighty does not show mercy even if one supplicates and seeks forgiveness and turns to Him, a turning which is like death and should put off his old garment and should be consumed in the fire of His love, and purifies himself, but will God still not turn to him with mercy? Such a view can only be of those people who utter falsehood. 

لَعْنَت اللّٰهِ عَلَي الْكٰذِبِيۡنَ

That is, the curse of Allah be upon the liars. 

It can never be the case that a man fulfils his obligations and God Almighty does not reward him at all. This is in conflict with the grand stature of God Almighty and in contrast to God Almighty’s announcement that “My mercy is all-encompassing” and this is against His law. As I have mentioned it is against His pronouncement of His mercy being all-encompassing, however the duty which man must fulfil is that he must strive in such a manner as if he has died and removed from his body the former unclean garment, i.e. the garment of sin, and burns in the fire of His love. The Promised Messiahas states that when these are acted upon, this is something to greatly ponder over, then God Almighty will also turn to man in a way which he could never imagine. 

Thus, this should be the level of one’s seeking of forgiveness, which makes an individual deserving of God Almighty’s mercy and God Almighty has ordained this mercy for Himself. The Promised Messiahas also outlined the conditions of how one can strive to seek true repentance. The Promised Messiahas says that there are three conditions for repentance. The first of these is that one should discard all those thoughts which arouse evil propensities. This cannot be fulfilled until one imagines those evils to be repulsive and abhorrent. If those evils remain in one’s mind and one does not perceive it to be abhorrent, then it will be difficult to abstain from such evils. The first condition is that one has to remove these thoughts from one’s mind and try to create a sense of abhorrence for them. The second condition is that at the thought of any evil or immoral act, one should show remorse and regret. When such thought is aroused in one’s mind, they should immediately show remorse and regret over that thought. They should have the thought in their minds that the evil desires which they are indulging in are transient and are such that can destroy their lives. Soon a time will come wherein this transient passion will finish. 

In essence one should listen to one’s own conscience as it is one’s conscience which always guides one to determine whether something is evil or good. When one’s thoughts become in line with this and one listens to their conscience, then gradually they can safeguard themselves from these evils. The third condition is that one should have a firm resolve that they will never revert to these vices in future. Subsequently, in order to remain firm on this, one should use all their resolve and also pray in this regard, then these vices will disappear and one will perform virtues in their stead. Where the Promised Messiahas mentions about removing the tainted cloak [of vice], this means that if one strives to their utmost ability, using all their resolve to do so, they will then become deserving of God’s mercy. (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, pp. 138-139, UK, 1985)

Further elaborating on how one can protect themselves from the fire through seeking forgiveness and repentance, the Promised Messiahas says, “For man, repentance is not a futile act or something worthless. Furthermore, its effects are not only confined to the Hereafter, rather, through this one’s worldly life, as well as their faith, is resolved. They become blessed with peace and serenity in this life as well as in the Hereafter. Observe that God Almighty states in the Quran:

رَبَّنَاۤ اٰتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَّ فِي الۡاٰخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَّ قِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

‘Our Lord, grant us comforts in this world as well as peace and serenity in the world to come, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.’ The truth of the matter is that there is a subtle indication towards repentance in the word Rabbana [our Lord]. The word Rabbana requires [and implies] that a person has left other gods which they had previously adopted, and turned towards their Lord. Furthermore, this word can only be uttered from the heart of a person with true anguish and fervour.”

When a person recites Rabbana in its true sense, it is not uttered by the tongue, rather it is from the heart. There are people who say Rabbana and offer this prayer superficially. Only if a person offers this prayer wholeheartedly will the word Rabbana be uttered in its true sense.

The Promised Messiahas says, “Rab means the One Who enables a person to reach their pinnacle in stages and also the One Who nourishes. The fact of the matter is that a person creates multiple gods for themselves. They have utmost faith in their schemes and deceptions, as those are their gods. If they are proud of their knowledge or power then that is their god. If they are proud of their beauty or wealth then that is their god. In short, there are thousands of such gods which are attached to them. Until they do not forsake them all, bow their head before the One True Lord and fall at His threshold, supplicating the words of Rabbana, with true heart-wrenching emotions, they will not be able to understand the nature of the True Lord. This is only possible when one accepts their sins and supplicates with true pain and fervour, and then addresses their Lord, Rabbana i.e.  ‘O my Lord! You were in fact the True God! Yet out of my error I wandered away from You, but now I have abandoned those false gods and I sincerely proclaim Your Providence and come to Your threshold’. Until one removes from his heart the grandeur and dignity of all other gods, he will not be able to call upon the Providence of the True Lord.

Certain people have adopted falsehood as their lord. They believe that without uttering falsehood, it will be difficult for them to get by. Others have made theft, robbery and fraud as their lord. They believe that besides this there is no other means for their livelihood and sustenance. Thus, these are their lords.”

The Promised Messiahas further states,

“Such people who solely rely and trust their own sources of earning livelihood, what need do they have to pray and seek help from God Almighty? One only is in need of prayer when all other means are not available except His alone; only such a person supplicates from their heart. Thus, the prayer:

رَبَّنَاۤ اٰتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

[Our Lord, grant us good in this world] is only recited by those who consider God as their True Lord and they have firm belief that all other false gods are completely worthless before Him,”

The Promised Messiahas further states, “The hellfire does not only refer to the fire that will burn on the Day of Judgment. However, one who lives a long life is able to witness that there are thousands of fires in this world. Those who have experienced this will know that there are all kinds of different fires that exist in this world. Various forms of calamities, fear, sorrow, poverty, illnesses, failures, fear of humiliation and deprivation, numerous kinds of grief and sorrows, afflictions relating to one’s wife, children, etc. and ties turning sour with near relatives all constitute as fire. Therefore, a Momin [believer] prays to be saved from every kind of fire. If one has attached himself to God Almighty, they should pray to be saved from all kinds of calamities which can cause one to experience difficulty and hardship in their life and are in likeness to the fire.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 5, pp. 187-190, 1985, UK)

The Promised Messiahas once drew the attention of the Jamaat to frequently recite the following prayer: 

رَبَّنَاۤ اٰتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَّ فِي الۡاٰخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَّ قِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

“Our Lord, grant us good in this world as well as good in the world to come, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, p. 9, 1985, UK)

Therefore, we also need to pay heed to this, so that God Almighty out of his Mercy may save us from all forms of fire in this world and in the hereafter. The Promised Messiahas states, 

“The essence of this [prayer] which God Almighty has mentioned in the Holy Quran is, ‘O Servants of Mine! Do not lose hope in Me for I am Merciful, Gracious, One Who Covers Faults, Most-Forgiving and will bestow My Mercy upon you in such abundance that no one else can show as much mercy as I shall. Love Me even more than your own fathers for I am even more loving than them. If you come towards Me, I shall forgive all your sins, and if you repent, I will accept your repentance. Even if you slowly tread towards Me, I will come running. One who searches for Me, shall find Me. One who turns towards Me, shall find My doors to be open. I forgive the sins of one who repents even if they are as high as the mountains. My Mercy for you is greater than My wrath because you are My creation and I have created you, and My Mercy encompasses you all.’” (Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, p. 56)

May God Almighty enable us to sincerely devote ourselves to God Almighty. May we attain His taqwa and grow stronger in our faith and belief, so that we always partake from His mercy. May it never happen that we are deprived of His Mercy and receive His punishment on account of our evil deeds. May God Almighty always bestow His mercy upon us. 

(Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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