22 April 2022
Essence of taqwa
After reciting the tashahhud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:
We are currently passing through the month of Ramadan and approximately two ashras [a period of 10 days each] have passed. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, every believer tries to partake of the blessings of this month as much as possible.
When Allah the Almighty made fasting obligatory, He outlined the objective of fasting at the very outset in that fasting has been prescribed so that one may become righteous. Hence, we are only able to partake of the blessings of fasting and the month of Ramadan when we elevate the standards of our righteousness along with fasting, and when we try to seek the refuge of Allah the Almighty from all forms vices.
The Holy Prophetsa has said, “Fasting is a shield.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Tauhid, Hadith no. 7492)
However, is it sufficient for us to merely observe the fast superficially? Is it sufficient to merely eat the suhoor [predawn meal] and iftar [meal to break the fast]? Will these deeds of eating suhoor and iftar be enough to place us behind the shield of fasting? Certainly not! We must consider all of its prerequisites and the principal objective which Allah the Almighty states:
“So that one may become righteous.” (Ch.2: V.184)
Hence, if we want to transform our fasting and our Ramadan into one that is observed for the sake of Allah the Almighty and for the sake of acquiring the pleasure of Allah the Almighty, the reward of which is Allah the Almighty Himself, then we must raise it to the standard which God Almighty desires from us and for which fasting has been made obligatory. As I mentioned, Allah the Almighty has clearly stated that the objective is to become righteous. We call ourselves believers and Muslims and claim that we have acted in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Prophetsa and whilst perfecting our belief in him we have accepted the Messiah and Mahdi, who has appeared in accordance with his prophecy in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. In accordance with the promise of Allah the Almighty, the task of the rejuvenation of Islam would now take place through this Messiah and Mahdi.
Hence, it is our responsibility to seek guidance from the Promised Messiahas in order to maintain the spirit of Islam within us. When we take a look at what the Promised Messiahas has said in relation to taqwa [righteousness], then we truly come to know what taqwa is. As I mentioned, we claim to be Muslims and claim to be among those who have believed. Hence, the Promised Messiahas stated,
“Listen! The first stage of faith is that a person develops taqwa.”
Following this, he explained what taqwa is and stated, “The answer to this is to refrain oneself from every form of evil.”
If we ponder over this, we realise that this is not an ordinary matter. By reflecting upon our own conditions, we will come to know as to whether we are fulfilling the due rights of taqwa, which in fact are the due rights of Allah. Similarly, are we treading on the path of taqwa and fulfilling the rights of the creation of Allah the Almighty? The Promised Messiahas stated:
“You can only truly understand what taqwa is when you gain complete knowledge of these matters. It is important to acquire knowledge as nothing can be accomplished and attained without knowledge.”
The Promised Messiahas further stated:
“To gain an understanding of what are the rights of Allah the Almighty and His creation and to gain an understanding of that which Allah the Almighty has prohibited us from and that which He has commanded us to do you should regularly read the Holy Quran.”
The Promised Messiahas states:
“When you read the Holy Quran, you should write down the details of [all] vices. Subsequently, you should try to abstain from these vices with the grace and help of God Almighty.”
The Promised Messiahas stated that this is the first stage of taqwa.
Hence, during this Ramadan we are reading the Holy Quran, and usually greater attention is given to its recitation. We should read it with this thought in mind to concentrate on its commandments and prohibitions, we must strive to refrain from evil deeds and act upon good deeds. The Promised Messiahas stated:
“The Holy Quran is replete from beginning to end with the details of its injunctions, prohibitions and divine commandments.”
Therefore, we must focus on these matters and act upon them, for this indeed is the sign of a believer. The Promised Messiahas very strongly emphasised that for as long as one did not become righteous, their worship and prayers were not imbued with acceptance, for Allah the Almighty has stated:
إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الۡمُتَّقِينَ
“Allah the Almighty accepts the worship only from the righteous.” (Ch.5: V.28)
The Promised Messiahas has stated:
“In truth, it is only the prayers and fasting of the righteous that are accepted.” The Promised Messiahas then explained what the acceptance of worship is, and what is meant by it. In explaining what acceptance is, the Promised Messiahas states:
“When we say that a prayer has been accepted, what it means is that the effects and blessings of the prayer have been brought about in the one who offered the prayer. Until these effects and blessings are not brought about, these are simply movements.”
Thus, we must see as to whether this month of Ramadan and our fasting is elevating us to this standard.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“If one embroiled in ills and troubles continues to suffer in such a state, then tell me what benefit have they derived from their prayer? It should have been the case that the ills and troubles they were suffering from decreased with the prayer, and the prayer should have been a perfect means for him to achieve this.”
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“The first step – which is difficult for one who wishes to become a believer – is that they refrain from evils deeds, and this is what is called righteousness.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 8, pp. 374-377)
Hence, if our worship, our fasts and our reading of the Holy Quran does not bring about a practical change in us, and if we have not strived to adopt taqwa, which is the purpose of fasting, we will not have fulfilled the objective of fasting. We may have spoken of this shield, regarding which the Holy Prophetsa has stated that fasting is a shield, but we will not have made efforts in learning the method to use this shield. We may have observed the sehri and iftari, but have we fulfilled the actual purpose of observing them? We may have spent the entire day without eating or drinking, but have we fulfilled its actual objective, which is to attain taqwa? Therefore, we must analyse if we have done this or not.
I shall present some excerpts from the writings of the Promised Messiahas regarding taqwa, from which we can attain guidance as to what righteousness truly is, and what standard of taqwa the Promised Messiahas desired to bring about in us. In relation to this, he states in one instance:
“True taqwa, which cleanses and purifies a person – for which the prophets were sent to the world – has disappeared from the earth. There are very few for whom the following can be applied to:
قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ مَن زَكّٰهَا
“‘Verily he truly prospers who purifies himself.’” (Ch.91: V.10)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“There are very few who fulfil the words:
قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ مَن زَكّٰهَا
“Being holy and pure are excellent qualities. If one is pure and holy, then angels greet him. However, people hold no regard for this, otherwise they would be able to attain all their pleasures through means that are lawful. A thief steals money to acquire wealth; however, if a thief observes patience, then God Almighty will make him wealthy through other means”. This does not only refer to literal theft, but some businesspeople who profit from wrongful tactics also fall under this category.
“Similarly, a fornicator commits fornication; however, if he observes patience then God Almighty will fulfil his desire through means that will also attain the pleasure of God. It is recorded in a hadith that a thief commits theft only in a state of disbelief, and a fornicator commits fornication only in a state of disbelief.”
In other words, a person only begins to indulge in such deeds at the time when faith leaves their heart. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“A goat cannot graze when a lion is stood over it, and the faith of the people today cannot even compare to the faith of that goat.”
When a person commits sin and vice, they should realise that God Almighty is always watching them. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“The true objective and essence is taqwa [righteousness]; whoever is granted it can attain anything; without it, one cannot safeguard against all minor and grievous sins. The laws of man-made governments cannot save you from sin. The ruling authorities do not remain with you so that they may establish their fear in you. A person only sins when he knows himself to be alone, otherwise he would never sin, and when he does consider himself to be alone, then at that moment, he is an atheist” – he becomes devoid of faith, God is removed from his heart, and at that moment, he becomes an atheist. “He does not entertain the thought that his God is with him and is watching him. If he truly believed that God was watching him, he would never sin. Everything is dependent upon taqwa.
“The Quran speaks of this right from the beginning; the words:
إِيَّاكَ نَعۡبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسۡتَعِيْنُ
“[Thee Alone do we worship and Thee Alone do we implore for help (Ch.1: V.5)]. This [verse] in actual fact alludes to taqwa in that although a person may be capable of an action, but out of fear, one would never attribute the [ability to perform that] action to themselves and instead, would consider it a result of the help sought from God. In this way, one continues to further seek divine help” – he seeks help from Allah the Almighty, and if he performs a good deed, then he does not consider it to be a result of his own greatness, or that his heart is pure or he has reached a lofty standard of goodness, but he recognises it to be the grace of Allah the Almighty through which he was enabled to do good, worship and pray.
“The second chapter mentions right in the beginning:
“[It is a guidance for the righteous (Ch.2: V.3)]. Prayer, fasting, Zakat and so on – all worship is granted acceptance when one becomes righteous. At that moment, God removes all such factors which could lead to sin.” In other words, if one is righteous, then Allah the Almighty removes all those aspects which lead one towards sin.
“If one is in need of a wife, then He grants him a wife; if one is in need of medicine, then He bestows him with medicine; whatever it may be that one requires, He provides him with it and grants him sustenance through means he is unaware of.”
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“There is another verse in the Holy Quran:
إِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ قَالُواْ رَبُّنَا اللّٰهُ ثُمَّ اسۡتَقَامُوْا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوْا وَلَا تَحۡزَنُوْا
“[As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them, saying: ‘Fear ye not, nor grieve’ (Ch.41: V.31)]. This verse also refers to those who are righteous.
“In other words, they weathered earthquakes, hardships and storms, but they never faltered from the pledge they had made to God.”
They upheld their relationship with God with loyalty; once they had established their belief, they continued to strengthen their faith, and it was not so that their faith became unsteady and wavered due to small things.
“Then, Allah the Almighty further states that when they adhered to this and demonstrated sincerity and loyalty, their reward was:
تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ
“That is, the angels descend upon them and tell them ‘Do not fear or worry, for your God is your guardian.’
وَأَبۡشِرُوْا بِالۡجَنَّةِ الَّتِيْ كُنْتُمۡ تُوْعَدُوْنَ
“[The angels] give them glad tidings to rejoice for Paradise [Ch.41: V.31], and what is meant by this Paradise is the Paradise of this world, as it is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
وَلِمَنۡ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ
“[But for him who fears to stand before his Lord there are two Gardens. (Ch.55: V.47)]
“Furthermore, it is stated:
نَحۡنُ أَوۡلِيَآؤُكُمۡ فِي الۡحَيَوٰةِ الدُّنۡيَا وَفِي الۡأٓخِرَةِ ۖ
“That is, ‘We are your friends and guardians in this world, and in the Hereafter. [Ch.41: V.32]’” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, pp. 251-253)
Thus, how fortunate are those for whom Allah the Almighty becomes their friend and guardian, and those whose every action is solely for deriving the pleasure of God.
Then, whilst elaborating on the difference between the success of a believer and the success of a disbeliever – how a believer perceives his success compared to a disbeliever – the Promised Messiahas states:
“Always keep the principle in mind that the task of a believer is to feel humbled for any success that they are blessed with.”
Why are they humbled? This is an expression from them to demonstrate that “I am not capable of such an achievement and that everything has been bestowed to me through the grace of Allah the Almighty. Whatever I have received is by virtue of the grace of Allah the Almighty and not because of any of my personal qualities, my knowledge, my intelligence, my wealth, or my physical abilities. On the contrary, it is due solely to the grace of God Almighty. When one comes upon such a realisation, then one praises God Almighty that He has bestowed His grace upon them. In this manner, one continues to tread forward and remains steadfast in each and every trial and acquires faith. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“Remember that the success of a disbeliever is a way that leads to misguidance, whereas the success of a believer opens for them the door of divine blessing.”
Because a disbeliever takes pride in everything and takes the credit upon themselves, they fall further and further into misguidance. However, when a true believer attributes everything to the grace of Allah the Almighty, then the door to Divine blessings continues to open wider for them. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“The success of a disbeliever leads to misguidance because in turn they do not incline towards God; rather, they take their own effort, intelligence and capability to be god. A believer, however, turns to God and gains a new understanding of Him. In this way, after every success, a new relationship between them and God is forged and a transformation begins to take place. God Almighty states:
إِنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَ الَّذِيْنَ اتَّقَوْا
“‘Verily, Allah is with those who are righteous.’ (Ch.16: V.129)
“It ought to be borne in mind that the word taqwa [or righteousness] has appeared in the Holy Quran many a time”. It has appeared more than 100 times. “This word is understood in light of the word ma‘a [with], which appears before it. That is to say that those who give precedence to God, in return are given precedence by God and He saves such people from every kind of disgrace in this world.”
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“It is my belief that if an individual desires to be safeguarded from every kind of disgrace and hardship in this world, there is only one way and that is to become righteous. After this, such a one lacks nothing. Hence, the success of a believer moves them further ahead and they never remain stagnant.” (Malfuzat Vol.1, pp. 155-156)
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“The impact of taqwa of a righteous person begins to take effect in this very world. God Almighty does not hold anything back, but rewards straight away. In fact, just as poison and its antidote take immediate effect on the body, so too does righteousness.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 2, p. 324)
Thus, if, despite performing good works, offering worship and performing virtues, one’s condition is not impacted, then this is a cause for concern. People write many questions to me asking how this can be ascertained. This can only be ascertained if one is being more inclined towards good deeds and Allah, and if one is performing those good deeds for the sake of Allah the Almighty and is being blessed by Allah the Almighty for their good deeds.
Whilst outlining the paths of taqwa [righteousness], the Promised Messiahas states:
“The entire spiritual beauty of a person lies in him treading on all the subtle paths of taqwa. The subtle paths of taqwa are the minute details and pleasant features of spiritual beauty.” In other words, these subtle aspects of taqwa lead to one’s 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. 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. Furthermore, this is achieved through restraining one’s faculties from unlawful use and to remain mindful of their subtle attacks. On the other hand, he should also be mindful of the rights of mankind.”
These are all the pledges we have made with Allah the Almighty pertaining to our faith. For example, to use the faculty of our sight at its proper occasion and to refrain from the trespass of the eye and its immoral use. We also have to safeguard our ears from listening to wrongful things. We are to carry out virtuous deeds through our hands and feet. We have to remove the evil or immoral thoughts from within our hearts and for this, one should recite istighfar [prayer to seek forgiveness] as much as possible. There are various other faculties which one ought to utilise and elevate their moral standards to the highest level. These are the spiritual pledges which one makes with Allah the Almighty. The Promised Messiahas has stated that one has to fulfil these pledges. Similarly, one has to be mindful of the rights they owe to God’s creation. One has to be mindful of the rights they owe to fellow humans. The initial [pledges] were in relation to one’s own self; however, one should also fulfil the due rights of others as well. When one fulfils all of these rights, the Promised Messiahas states:
“The entire spiritual beauty of a person is attached to this aspect.” In other words, when one fulfils the rights owed to Allah and the rights owed to fellow humans, then one develops spiritual beauty. “Furthermore, God Almighty has defined taqwa 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, taqwa 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)
Whatever commandments there are of Allah the Almighty; whether they be regarding worship, or reforming oneself, or fulfilling the rights of others, one ought to delve into its minutest aspects and seek to fulfil them.
The Promised Messiahas states that until one does not strive to act upon the finest aspects of fulfilling the rights of Allah and the rights of His creation, they cannot attain the ranks of taqwa. This is a very important point which we must keep in mind. Our worship will be of no benefit if it is not accompanied with the fulfilment of the rights owed to our fellow people, nor will only fulfilling some rights of people while forgetting about God Almighty – like some people who claim that they fulfil the rights owed to people – enable them to be deemed as those who tread the path of righteousness. It is necessary for a true believer to remain mindful of both rights.
Then, whilst mentioning the spread of innovations and detachment from taqwa, the Promised Messiahas states:
“Thousands of innovations in the faith have taken root in countless forms among every sect and community. Taqwa and purity, which are the fundamental objectives and purposes of Islam, and for which the Holy Prophetsa bore perilous calamities – things which could not have been shouldered by anyone except for one who possessed the heart of a Prophet – have now been lost and are non-existent. If you visit the jails, you will be able to see which group of people constitutes the majority of criminals.”
In other words, the Promised Messiahas said that the majority of convicted criminals were Muslims.
I have narrated before that there was a minister in Ghana who mentioned that it was said in a meeting that the majority of the people in their jails were Muslims. He was an Ahmadi, and gave the challenge that among those Muslims not a single Ahmadi would be found and even if there were any Ahmadis they would be so only in name. When this was investigated, it proved to be true. Hence, this is the hallmark of a true believer and a true Ahmadi which then proves to be an excellent source of propagation [tabligh]. If we remain mindful of this and exhibit the highest moral in all facets and actions in our lives, whether in our businesses, our jobs, our daily dealings with people and also raise the standards of our worship, strive to inculcate righteousness in our hearts and inculcate the fear of Allah in our hearts, then not only will these things be a means for our own reformation, but they will also prove to be a means of silent propagation of the faith.
The Promised Messiahas further stated:
“Fornication, drinking, injustice, and other crimes are so rampant that the world believes as though there is no such thing as God. If a detailed exposition was provided on the ills and evils existent within the various classes of society, this would make for a voluminous book. On reflecting over the state of the various people within our nation, any intelligent and contemplative individual will reach the true and categorical conclusion that taqwa, which was the ultimate cause of the Holy Quran, and which was the true basis for honour and the means of nobility, is nowhere to be found today.”
The Holy Quran’s primary objective was to establish taqwa, but this objective has been abandoned by the Muslims.
The Promised Messiahas continues:
“A good practical state which was sorely needed in this age – an example of which would serve as a distinction between Muslims and others – has deteriorated and decayed.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 4)
How can tabligh be carried out if this is the condition? What influence can Muslims have on the world? These in fact are the very consequences which we are witnessing in the world today for which Ahmadis have the solution. If our condition also deteriorates, who will take up this task? By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the promises made to the Promised Messiahas will certainly be fulfilled and if we do not take part, then Allah the Almighty will raise other groups of people through whom He will fulfil these promises. When the state of our society comes to the point described by the Promised Messiahas, how much should we fear for the standards of our own piety and taqwa and that of our future generations? The Promised Messiahas explains:
“Taqwa does not mean that one should not benefit from the bounties granted by Allah the Almighty; in fact not benefitting them constitutes being distant from righteousness.” Certain so-called “elders”, “peers” and “faqeers” don simple attire and eat distasteful food merely as a form of ostentation in an attempt to show that they are righteous and pious. The Promised Messiahas continues, “Bear in mind that one ought to always and in every state remain a seeker by way of supplication to God.
“Secondly, one ought to act upon the following:
أَمَّا بِنِعۡمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثۡ
“[The bounty of thy Lord, proclaim. (Ch.93: V.12)]
“One ought to proclaim the favours, which are conferred upon a person from God Almighty, for this increases a person’s love for God and fosters a zeal in them to be obedient and dutiful to Him. The word ‘proclaim’ does not only mean that a person should verbally speak of these blessings; these blessings should be apparent on their body as well. For example, if Allah the Exalted has granted someone the ability to wear elegant clothes, but they always wear spoiled and dirty clothes so that people will look at them with sympathy or so that the individual’s affluence remains hidden from the people, such an individual commits a sin. For such a one seeks to hide the grace and bounty of God Almighty, and follows a way of hypocrisy; such a one deceives the people, and seeks to mislead them, and this is not the hallmark of a believer.” A believer does not act in this manner.
“The way of the Holy Prophetsa was always to embrace both aspects.” Meaning, the Holy Prophetsa would utilise whatever was available and did not incline more towards one as opposed to the other. If he had elegant clothes, he would wear them and if not, then he would wear ordinary clothes.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“The Holy Prophetsa would wear whatever was available to him and would not reject anything; he would accept whatever clothing was presented to him. However, after the Holy Prophetsa, certain people saw humility in adopting the way of asceticism. Certain dervishes have been known to mix dust with their meat before consuming it. Once a man went to see a dervish. The dervish said, ‘Present him with some food.’” He told his followers to offer food to the guest. “The man, however, insisted that he would eat with the dervish. Finally, when the man sat with the dervish to eat, balls of neem were prepared for him and presented.” Neem is the name of a tree that has very bitter leaves and the fruit it bears is also very bitter. Hence this bitter food was prepared and presented to him. This food was not at all delicious, in fact it was dangerously bitter. The Promised Messiahas continues, “Certain people adopt such a practice and the purpose is to make others believe that they are people of excellence.
“However, Islam does not consider such practices to be a sign of excellence; excellence in Islam is gauged by taqwa, which transforms a person into a saint, with whom the angels converse and to whom God Almighty gives glad tidings. I do not teach such ascetic practices because they are at odds with the objective of Islamic teachings. The Holy Quran gives the following teaching:
كُلُوْا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ
“‘Eat good things.’ (Ch.2: V.58)
“Yet, these people turn an excellent, pure thing and mix it with dust to turn it into something that is impure. Such beliefs developed a long time after the establishment of Islam.
“Such people add their own innovations to the teachings of the Holy Prophetsa for they have nothing to do with Islam or the Holy Quran; these people invent their own Shariah. I view this with utter contempt and disgust. The Messengersa of Allah is a perfect example for us all. Our betterment and merit lies in following his footsteps, insofar as possible, and not deviating even in the least.”
This is the case with eating and drinking, and as far as one’s morals in daily life are concerned the Promised Messiahas states with regards to one’s conduct in the home:
“People have committed mistakes in their relationship and conduct with their wives and children and have deviated from the right path. It is written in the Holy Quran:
[“Consort with them in kindness” (Ch.4: V.20)] but people’s actions are currently contrary to this teaching.” (Malfuzat, Vol.4, pp. 43-44)
Rather than being kind, there are cruelties being perpetrated in certain homes. Hence, if one has been granted the ability to wear nice clothes and the opportunity to eat good food, then these things do not hinder a person’s taqwa, in fact they help to increase it. The Promised Messiahas has also outlined that in terms of one’s moral conduct in the home, it is necessary for one to treat their wife in a kind manner, care for their children, tend to their needs, and see to their proper upbringing. This too falls under taqwa and is commanded by the Holy Quran.
Thus, both fulfilling the rights of Allah and fulfilling the rights of His creation are vital. In another instance, the Promised Messiahas has stated that a righteous person is bestowed a light from Allah the Almighty. Regarding this, the Promised Messiahas states:
“True taqwa and ignorance cannot subsist together. True taqwa is accompanied by a light, as Allah, the Glorious, has said:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِنْ تَتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ يَجۡعَلْ لَّكُمۡ فُرۡقَانًا وَيُكَفِّرۡ عَنْكُمۡ سَيِّـَٔاتِكُمۡ
وَيَجۡعَلْ لَّكُمۡ نُورًا تَمۡشُوْنَ بِهِ
“That is, ‘O ye who believe, if you remain steadfast in taqwa and hold fast to it for the sake of Allah, with firmness and perseverance, He will single you out from among your detractors with marked distinction. [Ch.8: V.30]
“‘That is, you shall be blessed with a light which will accompany you wherever you go.’ [Ch.57: V.29]
“That is to say, that that light would illumine all their actions and words and faculties and senses. Their intellect would be illumined and there would be light in all that they utter.”
A person who follows the will of God can never commit any inappropriate action and if they do, Allah the Almighty would immediately guide them to reform themselves. Allah would guide them towards istighfar [seeking forgiveness].
The Promised Messiahas says:
“Their intellect would be illumined and there would be light in all that they utter. There would be light in their eyes and in their ears and in their tongues and in their speech and in all their movements. The ways along which they walk would be lit up. All their ways, the ways of their faculties and their senses will be filled with light, and they will walk altogether in light.” (Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, pp. 177-178)
These paths would lead towards piety, their faculties will be used for pious deeds, their thinking and ideas will also be virtuous and the thought of sin would be removed from them. When such a society is established, then it is a society wherein every person adheres to righteousness.
The Promised Messiahas says:
“Such is the eternal law, that all this is granted only after man has attained perfect awareness of God – the source of all fear, love and appreciation. He who is granted perfect awareness is also granted perfect love and fear, and he who is granted these is granted salvation, for he is saved from all sins that result from audacity. In order to attain this kind of salvation, we do not need the blood of Christ, or Crucifixion, or Redemption; all we require is a sacrifice – the sacrifice of our own selves which our very nature demands. This sacrifice is otherwise known as ‘Islam’” – to sacrifice one’s own desires enables one to adopt the path of taqwa, and this is called Islam – “which, literally, means to offer oneself to be sacrificed, or to willingly and completely submit oneself at the threshold of God Almighty. The beautiful name ‘Islam’ is the soul of the Shariah and essence of all its commandments. It requires perfect love to readily offer oneself for sacrifice, and perfect love requires perfect cognisance [of God]”, until one develops an understanding of something, one cannot develop love for it, “and this is what the word ‘Islam’ signifies, in that true sacrifice requires perfect cognisance and perfect love of God and does not require anything else. God Almighty indicates towards this in the Holy Quran:
لَنْ يَّنَالَ اللّٰهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَآؤُهَا وَلٰكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقۡوٰى مِنْكُمۡ ۚ
“‘Neither the flesh nor the blood of your sacrifices reaches Me; the only sacrifice that reaches Me is that you fear Me and adopt righteousness for My sake’ [Ch.22: V.38].” (Lecture Lahore, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, pp. 151-152)
Thus, this is the level of taqwa that God Almighty and Allah’s Messengersa wish for us to attain. This is also the level of taqwa expected of us by the Imam of the Age. This has been repeatedly mentioned in the Holy Quran and fasting has been prescribed in the month of Ramadan in order to attain this. Those of us who try to spend the remaining days of Ramadan striving to attain this level of taqwa will be the fortunate ones from among us, or for the days that have passed, may Allah ensure that they have spent it in this way and that may we ensure our every action and word is in line with the will of God.
A person once came to the Promised Messiahas and said that people raise the allegation that the he had claimed to be the Promised Messiahas, but he was not a “Sayyid” [from among the progeny of the Holy Prophetsa] so how could a Sayyid pledge allegiance to an [ordinary] follower of the Holy Prophetsa? Some Sayyids and others who elevate Sayyids to a high rank even today make this claim that Sayyids have an extraordinary status, and so how can a Sayyid pledge allegiance to a non-Sayyid? Similarly, today certain Arabs also have this concept that if the Promised Messiahas was to appear, then he ought to have appeared from amongst the Arabs; why was he a non-Arab and how could they accept him? They read the Holy Quran but do not ponder over its meaning. The answer is present there from before. Allah the Almighty states that it is He Who will bestow this rank and not people who award these ranks.
Nonetheless, the Promised Messiahas further says:
“Allah the Almighty is neither pleased with one’s physical body nor of any one nation, but rather Allah only values taqwa.
إِنَّ أَكۡرَمَكُمۡ عِنْدَ اللّٰهِ أَتۡقٰكُمۡ ۚ
“This means, ‘Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you’ [Ch.49: V.14]. To say one is a Sayyid or Mughal, Pathan or a Sheikh is utterly false and holds no significance. If one is conceited because of the cast or nation they belong to, then such conceit is futile, for after death, there is no concept of belonging to any nation. In the sight of God Almighty, a particular nationality bears no significance and a person cannot be guaranteed salvation because they belong to a noble family. The Holy Prophetsa told Hazrat Fatimahra, ‘O Fatimah! Do not pride yourself over the fact that you are the daughter of the Messengersa. In the sight of God, belonging to a particular nation is of no significance.’” Thus, if this is the command for Hazrat Fatimahra, then in comparison, what status does anyone else hold? “One will be given a rank based on their level of taqwa. Division into different nations and tribes is a part of the tradition and organisation associated with this world but for God they hold no value. One can develop the love of Allah by adopting taqwa, and in turn, taqwa is the key to attaining the most excellent ranks. If a Sayyid becomes a Christian and hurls abuse at the Holy Prophetsa and completely disregards the commands of God, can anyone say that such a person would be granted salvation and enter heaven simply because they are a descendent of the Holy Prophetsa?
إِنَّ الدِّيْنَ عِندَ اللّٰهِ الۡإِسۡلَامُ ۗ
“‘Verily, the true religion in the sight of God, which is the means of attaining salvation, is Islam.’ (Ch.3: V.20)
“If a person becomes a Christian, a Jew or an Arya, such a person is not worthy of being bestowed honour. God Almighty has abolished all cast systems and division of nations. Division in the form of tribes is an organisation and tradition of this world. However, after pondering deeply over this matter, we have come to realise that in the court of God Almighty, the true basis for attaining a lofty rank is righteousness. God Almighty has already decreed that a righteous person will enter paradise. According to God Almighty, the most honourable person is the one who is most righteous. Furthermore, Allah the Almighty states:
إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الۡمُتَّقِيْنَ
“Meaning that the prayers and deeds of the righteous find acceptance, Allah has not stated that the deeds and prayers of the Sayyid are accepted. In addition to this, Allah states regarding the righteous:
وَمَنْ يَّتَّقِ اللّٰهَ يَجۡعَلْ لَّهُ مَخۡرَجًا وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُ
“Meaning that the righteous will be granted a way out of every difficulty, and that person will be granted provisions from places where they could not even imagine. Now tell me, has this promise been made with Sayyids or the righteous? Allah has further stated that a righteous person is a friend of Allah. Once again, this promise was not regarding Sayyids. What greater rank is there than wilayat [sainthood]? And this too will be endowed only to a righteous one.
“Some people have stated that wilayat is a greater rank than prophethood and have said that a prophet’s wilayat is greater than his status of prophethood. In reality, a prophet’s being consists of two components: prophethood and wilayat. Through his prophethood, he presents the injunctions and teachings of the Shariah to God’s creation; and through his wilayat he ensures that God’s creation forges a bond with their Creator.
“Allah the Almighty then states:
ذٰلِكَ الۡكِتَابُ لَا رَيۡبَۛ فِيْهِۛ هُدًى لِّلۡمُتَّقِيْنَ
[This is a perfect Book; there is no doubt in it; it is a guidance for the righteous]. It is not mentioned:
“That it is a ‘guidance for all Sayyids’. In short, Allah the Almighty desires taqwa. Indeed, the Sayyid ought to particularly adopt this [taqwa] because they are the descendants of a righteous person. The Promised Messiahas has stated that it is their responsibility to strive in order to attain taqwa, as opposed to them thinking that being a Sayyid will give them a special rank. The Promised Messiahas has stated that they should be the first ones to come forward [and accept the Promised Messiahas] rather than quarrelling with God Almighty that it is their right as a Sayyid. God bestows upon whom He pleases.
ذٰلِكَ فَضۡلُ اللّٰهِ يُؤۡتِيْهِ مَنْ يَّشَآءُ ۚ وَاللّٰهُ ذُو الۡفَضۡلِ الۡعَظِيْمِ
This is the same case like the Jews who say why was prophethood bestowed to the children of Ishmael. They do not know:
تِلۡكَ الۡأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيۡنَ النَّاسِ
“Whosoever comes up against God Almighty will be abandoned. The meaning of this verse [mentioned above] is ‘And such days We cause to alternate among people [Ch.3: V.141]’. Therefore, this is the decree of God Almighty.”
The Promised Messiahas has stated, “Whoever contests against God will be discarded. God can question every single person but none can question Him.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, pp. 343-245)
Refuting this allegation with respect to his claim, the Promised Messiahas says:
“When the Holy Prophetsa began his ministry and made his claim, at the time, Jewish scholars were considered virtuous and moral. However, it is not necessary that they would be considered righteous in the sight of God Almighty. God Almighty speaks of those righteous individuals who are truly virtuous and pure. When these people heard the claim of the Holy Prophetsa, upon seeing their own honour and respect diminish among the people owing to it, they rejected him due to their arrogance and chose not to accept the truth.
“Now ponder over the fact that they were deemed righteous in the eyes of the people, but they were not righteous in the true sense. A truly righteous person is one who never conceals the truth even if one has to lose their honour, endure all kinds of humiliation, face the threat of losing their life and reach a point where one becomes completely destitute, however owing to the fear of Allah the Almighty they are willing to bear all these losses. The meaning of righteousness is certainly not how today’s maulvis [clerics] define it as, which is that one is righteous as long as one professes their belief verbally even if they do not practically adhere to it and speak falsehood and steal. In other words, to simply claim to be a Muslim is not enough to be righteous. In fact, taqwa entails many stages and until one does not completely attain these stages, they cannot be deemed as being completely righteous. One can only truly benefit from something when it is taken in its right quantity. A person who is hungry and thirsty will not be satiated if they were to only take a small piece of a flatbread and a drop of water.”
If the maulvis express their knowledge it does not mean that they are righteous, in fact taqwa develops through one’s actions. Simply being called a maulvi or being a highly scholarly person does not develop righteousness within that person.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“A person who is hungry and thirsty will not be satiated, nor will it save their life if they were to only take a small piece of a flatbread and a drop of water. They would have to intake the adequate quantity of food and drink. So too is the case with taqwa; one has to completely adopt every aspect of taqwa in order to be truly considered as being righteous. If this is not the case then even a disbeliever could be referred to as being righteous because they would certainly possess at least some aspect of a quality of righteousness within them and they must be performing some kind of virtue, but that does not lead one to become righteous. Allah the Almighty has not created anyone who is completely full of ills, they have some aspect of virtue in them as well but this amount of taqwa within a disbeliever is of no benefit. There has to be adequate amount of virtue which will enable one’s heart to become illuminated.”
As it was mentioned earlier that for this one has to fulfil the rights of Allah and the rights of His creation; one should possess every kind of virtue within them.
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“If God Almighty is pleased with a person, they would be safeguarded from every kind of evil. There are many Muslims who claim that they observe the fasts, offer prayers, etc., but this does not make them righteous. Taqwa is something completely different. In order to become righteous, one has to give precedence to God Almighty, and owing to the fear of God Almighty, be willing to sever his ties whether they be one’s family, tribe, friends or leaders of their city and be ready to endure every kind of humiliation for the sake of God Almighty. The grand promises which have been made to the righteous people in the Holy Quran are for such righteous people, who have done their absolute in fulfilling the prerequisites of taqwa. They remained steadfast upon taqwa as much as they could physically do according to their human faculties to the point that they could physically do no more. Subsequently, they beseeched God Almighty to be bestowed with further strength, as is evident from:
اِيَّاكَ نَعۡبُدُ وَاِيَّاكَ نَسۡتَعِيۡنُ
“[‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’]
“اِيَّاكَ نَعۡبُدُ signifies that that we have tried to the best of our abilities and not left any stone unturned. And اِيَّاكَ نَسۡتَعِيۡنُ means that to proceed further ahead we seek further strength from God Almighty, just as the poet, Hafiz has stated:
ما بِدَاں منزل عالي نَتوانِيم رسيد
هاں اگر لطفِ شُما پيش نِهَد گامے چند
“Meaning, ‘We cannot attain that lofty stage unless You bestow Your blessings.’
Thus, one ought to bear in mind that to be considered righteous in the sight of God Almighty and to be considered righteous in the eyes of people are two completely distinct things. The opponents that gathered in hordes in the time of Jesusas were those who were considered as believers and righteous people in the eyes of the Jews. If they did not oppose then such crowds of opposition would never have formed. This was exactly the case in the time of the Holy Prophetsa as well. Pride, miserliness, ostentatiousness, excessive pride in one’s honour, etc. were all those aspects which stopped the people of that time from accepting the truth. Thus, righteousness is not easy to attain and when one is granted righteousness by Allah the Almighty, then He also instils the characteristics [of righteousness] within that person as well.
“The truth is that how can one become righteous if after the truth has been revealed they then unnecessarily reject the sound arguments and the signs of Allah the Almighty? The fact is that when the truth manifests and one refutes the sound arguments and signs of Allah the Almighty, they can never be considered righteous. A righteous person ought to be completely humble.”
With regard to his advent, the Promised Messiahas states:
“Has it ever happened in the world wherein a person continuously for 24 years plans in the night and the next morning claims that this was revealed to him by God Almighty and God Almighty did not punish him? If that was the case then the world would become engulfed in darkness and people would be destroyed. For a righteous person, even a single sign is enough to derive benefit from, but in my case there are thousands of signs. The condition of the world is calling [for a reformer]; the hadith states that the [imam] will be ‘from among you’ and the words ‘from among you’ is also mentioned in Surah al-Nur and also the condition of people’s hearts and them living a life like animals is also signifying the need [for a reformer]. It was claimed that the mujaddid [reformer] would appear at the beginning of each century.” This was at the time when the Promised Messiahas was mentioning this. “The eclipse of the sun and the moon has taken place, the plague has emerged and the Hajj was also stopped. If people still do not accept after witnessing all of this, then how can we believe that they are righteous.”
This is a response to those who issue edicts of disbelief against the Promised Messiahas and consider themselves to be righteous and virtuous. Such people lead others to go astray.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“We have repeatedly invited them to come and ask those questions which they have the right to ask. Indeed, it cannot be that the Holy Quran states one thing and you say something completely different. They claim that Jesusas will descend bodily from the heavens; however, that can only be considered true if he ascended in the first place. The Quran speaks of the death of Jesusas and yet it claims that he ascended to the heavens. Is it righteous to abandon the truth and simply follow what they claim? The true concept of taqwa has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and the works of those who possessed righteousness.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 7, pp. 73-76)
Whilst advising the community in relation to taqwa, the Promised Messiahas states:
“One who is righteous witnesses a manifestation of God. Such a one rests in the shade of God. However, one ought to ensure that their taqwa is pure and free from any part of Satan; for associating partners with God displeases Him. If one’s righteousness is adulterated even in part by Satan, in the estimation of God Almighty, Satan has corrupted it entirely.”
The Promised Messiahas continues:
“I advise my community that they should not pride themselves merely on the fact that they offer the Prayer, they fast, and abstain from obvious sins such as fornication, theft and so on. In these qualities, even non-believers such as idolaters and the like are similar to you. The subject of taqwa is a delicate one. Strive to attain taqwa and instil in your heart the greatness of God. A person whose deed is tainted with even the slightest ostentation will have that deed thrown back in their face by God.” One’s actions should not be done to show others. “It is a difficult task to be righteous. For example, if someone alleges that you have stolen a pen, why would you show anger?” If someone claims that you have stolen a pen, then why do you become so angry? This is not the characteristic of one who possesses righteousness; rather, one ought to show patience and steadfastness.
“Your virtue of showing patience is merely for the sake of God.” In other words, one ought to refrain from becoming angry. “Such a one shows rage because they do not completely stand by the truth. Until one truly experiences many deaths, they do not become a righteous person. Miracles and revelations are also branches of taqwa. The actual root is taqwa. Therefore, do not be obsessed with revelations and dreams; rather, strive persistently to attain righteousness.” Do not focus on whether one has received a revelation or a dream; rather, look at their standard of taqwa. “Only the revelations of a person who is righteous are true. If one is devoid of taqwa, their revelations also are not credible either; they can be corrupted by Satan. Do not judge a person’s taqwa by their revelations; rather, gauge and assess their revelations by the state of their righteousness. Shut your eyes to everything else and first traverse the stages of righteousness”.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“The objective of each and every one of the prophets who appeared was to lead people to the path of taqwa. [The Holy Quran states:]
إِنۡ أَوۡلِيَآؤُهُ إِلَّا الۡمُتَّقُوْنَ
“[‘His friends are only those who are righteous.’ (Ch.8: V.35)]
“It is the Holy Quran that has taught the finer ways of taqwa. A perfect Prophet demands a perfect community. Since the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was the Seal of Prophets – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – for this reason, the excellences of prophethood culminated in him. When the excellences of prophethood reached their final point of perfection, it was then that a seal was set on the institution of prophethood. An individual who desires to please God Almighty, and to witness miracles and extraordinary happenings, ought to make their life extraordinary as well. You observe that people who are set to give examinations undertake such strenuous efforts that they become ill and frail like victims of tuberculosis. Therefore, to pass the examination of taqwa, prepare yourself to bear any and all hardship. When a person advances on this path, Satan wages powerful and fierce onslaughts, but at one point, Satan finally stops. This is when a death overtakes a person’s base life and they begin to rest under the shade of God […] A brief summary of my teaching is that one should devote all of one’s strengths to God.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 2, pp. 301-302)
I have presented various extracts of the Promised Messiahas wherein he has advised us from various perspectives so that we understand the meaning of taqwa and its deeper essence. The Promised Messiahas stated that after entering his community we ought to understand the true spirit of taqwa and adhere to it.
In the remaining days of Ramadan, we should strive as much as we possibly can to understand the true essence of righteousness and fulfil the rights of Allah and His creation. May Allah the Almighty grant us the ability to do this.
(Official Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 13 May 2022, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.)