Friday Sermon – Istighfar and Taubah (25 August 2023)


Friday Sermon

25 August 2023

Istighfar and Taubah

Mubarak Mosque 5

After reciting the tashahudta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:

Allah the Almighty accepts the istighfar [seeking forgiveness] and repentance of His servant, provided that it is true repentance and not just mere words. Allah the Almighty has mentioned on various occasions in the Holy Quran that He bestows those who truly repent with wealth and children and that it is a means of protection from divine punishment (Surah Nuh, Ch.71: V.13). One who seeks forgiveness, draws the mercy of Allah the Almighty. In one place, Allah the Almighty has given glad tidings to those who seek forgiveness and said:

لَوَجَدُوا اللّٰہَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيۡمًا

“[…] they would have surely found Allah Oft-Returning with compassion, and Merciful.” (Surah an-Nisa, Ch.4: V.65)

However, the condition remains that one should truly seek forgiveness and repentance. In a Hadith, it is related by Hazrat Anasra that he heard the Holy Prophetsa say the following: “The one who truly repents from sin is like one who has never committed any sin in the first place.” When Allah the Almighty loves a person, no sin can cause him any harm. That is, the factors that incite one to sin cannot lead him towards an ill deed, and Allah the Almighty protects such a person from the consequences of that ill-deed as well. Following this, the Holy Prophetsa recited the following verse:

اِنَّ اللّٰہَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِيۡنَ وَيُحِبُّ الۡمُتَطَہِّرِيۡنَ

“Allah loves those who turn to Him and loves those who keep themselves clean.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.223)

Upon this, someone said: “O Messengersa of Allah! What is the sign of [true] repentance?” How can someone know that they have truly repented? The Holy Prophetsa replied: “Remorse and regret are signs of true repentance.” (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 4, p. 261, Kitab at-tawbah, Hadith 10428, Mu’athitha al-Risalah, Beirut 1985)

Hence, those who truly repent not only purify themselves from sin by displaying true remorse and regret, but they also attain the love of Allah the Almighty and continuously partake of the mercy of Allah the Almighty. The Promised Messiahas has mentioned the conditions of true repentance on one occasion and said that the first condition is to rid oneself of evil thoughts and ideas. That is, one should completely rid oneself of thoughts that arise from unlawful desires. This requires a great Jihad [struggle] that a person has to undertake, as only then will they be able to move towards repentance. The second condition is to express true remorse and regret. One should reflect on the fact that these desires and worldly pleasures are temporary. They decrease by the day, along with the age of a person. Why should one then remain attached to them? Hence, fortunate is the one, who understands this reality and repents. Moreover, one should also express true remorse, as this was mentioned by the Holy Prophetsa. The third condition is to make a firm resolve to not go anywhere near such vices again. One should not stop there with the mere thought that they have made an oath to not go near sins and that this is sufficient. Rather, this should be replaced with good morals and virtuous deeds. (Taken from Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 1, pp. 138-139)

This is true repentance, this is true remorse, and after acquiring this state, Allah the Almighty bestows His love upon such a servant.

The Promised Messiahas has repeatedly drawn our attention towards seeking forgiveness and repentance. People make mistakes, and when these mistakes are made repeatedly, they lead a person from one sin to another.

Therefore, one should continue to seek forgiveness from Allah the Almighty while prostrating before Him. We should strive to purify our hearts and always remain mindful of not allowing ourselves to fail in discharging our rights due to Allah and His creation. As I mentioned, the Promised Messiahas repeatedly drew the attention of his community towards seeking forgiveness and repentance. The Promised Messiahas was so concerned about this that he did not allow any opportunity to pass to draw the attention of the Jamaat towards this. The Promised Messiahas time and again drew attention to this in his various gatherings and in his writings. Thus, it is vitally important for us to always try and be mindful of and act upon the instructions of the Promised Messiahas which are in light of the commandments of Allah the Almighty and His Messengersa, so that we also become those who truly fulfil the due rights of our pledge of allegiance. If we fail to bring about a pure change in ourselves and do not pay attention to true repentance and forgiveness, then our pledge to reform ourselves is of no benefit. The Promised Messiahas has explained the concept of repentance in various instances and I shall present some of his extracts. Whilst expounding upon the benefit of seeking forgiveness, the Promised Messiahas states: 

اَنِ اسۡتَغۡفِرُوۡا رَبَّکُمۡ ثُمَّ تُوۡبُوۡۤا اِلَيۡہِ

And that you seek forgiveness of your Lord, and then turn to Him. (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.4)

“Bear in mind that two things have been granted to this ummah: one that grants strength and the other which enables one to practically demonstrate the strength that they have attained. In order to build strength there is istighfar (seeking forgiveness from God), which may also be described as istimdad (seeking support) or isti‘anat (seeking assistance). The Sufis have written that just as lifting meels [clubs] and weights increase the strength and power of the body, (i.e., those who do weightlifting, or lift dumbbells and various other exercises and just as they increase their physical strength by doing so), similarly seeking forgiveness from God is a spiritual weight, which strengthens the soul and develops steadfastness in the heart. One who desires to develop strength ought to seek forgiveness [istighfar]. (If one wants to attain spiritual strength, then one ought to seek forgiveness.) The word ‘ghafrun’ means to cover or suppress, and so, through istighfar a person seeks to cover and suppress those emotions and thoughts that stand between them and God. Therefore, the purpose in seeking forgiveness from God is so that man may overcome the venomous agents that attack him and seek to destroy him, and so that he may steer clear of the obstructions on the path of fulfilling the commandments of God Almighty, and so that he may act upon them in the practical sense. It ought to be remembered also that Allah the Exalted has created man possessing two internal substances; one being a venom which is stimulated by Satan, and secondly, an antidote that lies within. When a person becomes arrogant and grows conceited, and when he does not seek support from the elixir that is housed within, a person’s infectious elements begin to dominate. However, when a person considers themselves to be lowly and insignificant, and feels an inner dependence on the support of Allah Almighty, a flowing spring takes form through the hand of Allah Almighty, by which a person’s soul melts and begins to flow forth. This is the very meaning of istighfar (seeking forgiveness from God), or, in other words, to gain this strength and overcome the poison that lies within (this is what it truly means to seek forgiveness). Therefore, what this means is that one should remain firm in worship by firstly, obeying the Messengersa and secondly, by seeking constantly assistance from God. Of course, initially, one must seek assistance from the Lord, but when one receives strength, one must then turn to God.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, pp. 241-242)

In order to attain the help of Allah the Almighty one has to supplicate to Him.

The Promised Messiahas further states: 

“It is plainly obvious that the nature of man is extremely weak and God Almighty has placed the burden of hundreds of commandments upon him. (Man is weak, yet Allah the Almighty has placed many commandments upon him). Hence, it is intrinsic to his nature that, owing to his weakness, he may fail to fulfil some of the commandments (it is natural that one may not be able to fulfil all the commandments as there are so many). At times, one is overcome by the nafs-e-ammarah [the self that incites to evil], thus, upon seeking forgiveness, it is his right that God’s mercy save him from ruin upon momentary lapses (since man is weak, therefore he possesses the right that Allah the Almighty accept his true repentance and save him). Thus, it is an established fact that if God did not accept one’s repentance then He would never have placed upon him the burden of countless commandments. From this, it is undoubtedly proven that God is Oft-Returning with Compassion and Most Forgiving. Taubah (Repentance) means that a person should discard a vice with the resolve that thereafter, even if he is thrown into the fire, he would not commit that vice (this is the kind of repentance that one ought to seek). When man turns towards God Almighty with such sincerity and firm resolve, then God, Who is Benevolent and Merciful, forgives him that particular sin. It is one of the high Divine attributes that God accepts repentance and saves a sinner from ruin.

“If man had not the hope of his repentance being accepted, he would not be able to refrain from sinning. If one has no hope of their repentance being accepted, then they will continue committing sins. There are many people who ask questions regarding this, that what is the benefit [of repentance] when this is going to be one’s ultimate fate? However, this is not the case. If one repents prior to this, then Allah the Almighty can save a person from it. The Promised Messiahas states, “The Christians also believe in repentance, but on condition that the person who repents should be a Christian. Islam lays down no condition for repentance. The repentance of the followers of every faith can be accepted leaving out only the sin of denying the Book of God and His Messenger. It is impossible that a person should attain salvation only through his conduct. It is the Benevolence of God that He accepts the repentance of some and bestows by His grace such powers on others that they are safeguarded against sinning.” (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, pp. 189-190)

Once, a person attended a gathering of the Promised Messiahas and asked what invocation he should recite. The Promised Messiahas stated:

“You ought to recite the prayer for God’s forgiveness. There are only two states of man; either that he does not sin or that Allah Almighty saves him from the bad outcome of that sin. Hence, when a person invokes the forgiveness of God, they ought to keep both of these concepts in mind (that is to not commit sin in the first place and secondly to prevent the bad outcome of the sins already committed and that Allah the Almighty bestows His forgiveness and that he never commits such a sin in the future. Thus, one ought to be mindful of this whilst seeking forgiveness). Firstly, one ought to beg God Almighty so that He covers and hides one’s past sins and secondly, one ought to seek from God the ability so that one may be saved from committing sin in the future. However, seeking forgiveness through a mere verbal recitation will not suffice; rather, one should seek forgiveness from their heart. One ought to supplicate in the Prayer in their own tongue as well; this too is necessary. (Malfuzat  [English], Vol. 3, pp. 235-236).

To simply utter istighfar or to write down I seek forgiveness from Allah” and claim to not commit sin ever again is of no benefit. In fact, one has to prove that they shall never commit those sins again that they previously committed.

Whilst explaining the meaning of istighfar [seeking forgiveness], the Promised Messiahas stated on one occasion:

Istighfar means for one to neither commit an actual sin, nor for the ability to commit a sin to emerge. The reality of the istighfar of the prophets is that they are free from sin, yet they perform istighfar so that even the ability [to sin] not be manifested in the future. However, for the general population, the other meanings of istighfar will also be taken into account for them, which is for God to safeguard them from the ill effects of the sins and evils they have committed, to forgive them for their sins, and at the same time, to protect them from future sins.”

The Promised Messiahas then further states, “In any case, it is incumbent upon man to always remain occupied in performing Istighfar. The tribulations manifesting in the form of droughts or in any other form are there so that people occupy themselves in istighfar.”

Nowadays, wars are taking place around the world. In such circumstances, we Ahmadis should profusely seek forgiveness, in order to save the world and to save ourselves. The Promised Messiahas then states, “However, istighfar does not mean for one to merely utter ‘AstaghfirullahAstaghfirullah [I seek forgiveness from Allah, I seek forgiveness from Allah]. The truth is that its true meaning has remained hidden from the people due to being in a foreign language.  The Arabs understood this well, however, many truths remained hidden from the people of our country due to it being in a foreign tongue. Many people claim they performed istighfar so many times, and recited tasbih [glorification of God] 100 times or 1,000 times, yet when they are questioned as to what the essence and meaning of istighfar is, they have no answer and are speechless. One must truly seek forgiveness from the depths of their heart so that they do not face retribution for the sins and vices they have committed. Furthermore, in the future, they should seek God Almighty’s help at all times from the depths of their heart, so that they are enabled to carry out good deeds, and are safeguarded from sins.”

The Promised Messiahas states, “Remember full well that nothing can be attained from mere lip service. It is also possible to seek forgiveness in one’s own language, so that Allah grants forgiveness for one’s previous sins and to be safeguarded from future sins, and to be given the ability to do good – this is true istighfar. There is no need to go about merely saying ‘astaghfirullahastaghfirullah’, while one’s heart is completely oblivious to it. Bear in mind that only the word that emanates from the heart reaches Allah. One should, therefore, also supplicate to God Almighty in their own language as it has an effect on the heart. The tongue bears testimony to what is in the heart. If there is a fervour in the heart, and this is accompanied by the tongue, then this is excellent, however, without the heart, mere words are worthless and futile. Indeed, the supplications of the heart are the true supplications. When a person continues to pray to God Almighty and seeks His forgiveness from the depths of their heart prior to a trial, then that trial is averted by the Merciful and Benevolent God. Conversely, He does not avert the trial if [one supplicates after] it has already befallen. Thus, one ought to continuously pray even before any trial befalls them, and seek forgiveness abundantly. In this way, God shall protect them at the time of the trial. Our Community ought to display something out of the ordinary. If a person pledges their allegiance [bai‘at] and fails to display something extraordinary, and their treatment of their wife remains the same as before, and they treat their family and children the same as before, then this is not good. What benefit is there to the oath of allegiance if, after taking it, one possesses the same bad manners and ill-treatment and they are in the same state as before? One should display such an example after the pledge of allegiance that others, one’s relatives and neighbours — all speak up and say that this individual is no longer the same as he was before. This should be the result of true istighfar. Remember carefully that if you purify yourselves and carry out a deed, then you shall most certainly impact others. How great was the awe-inspiring aura of the Holy Prophetsa! Once, the disbelievers were worried that the Holy Prophetsa would pray against them, so all of the disbelievers gathered and requested him not to do so. A truthful person does indeed possess an aura. One must therefore purify oneself and then act for the sake of God. It is then that one will have an awe over others and influence them.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 342-374)

Then, on another occasion, the Promised Messiahas stated:

“To fear God Almighty and to be righteous is a magnificent feat. As a result of it, God shields [one] from thousands of calamities, and without this protection of God Almighty, no one can claim immunity from affliction, nor should anyone feel secure. Calamities descend without warning. What knowledge does anyone possess of what is to come when night falls?

It is recorded that once the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, stood up. He wept profusely and then, addressing the people, he said, O servants of Allah! Fear God. Misfortunes and trials cling to people like ants. There is no way to be safeguarded from them except by being engaged in istighfar and repentance with a sincere heart.”

The Promised Messiahas then further explains:

“The meaning of istighfar is to seek the protection of God Almighty from one’s previous sins and the punishment of one’s offences, and to beg protection from committing sin in the future. Prophets would always engage in istighfar as did the common people as well. Some ignorant Christian priests have criticised the istighfar of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him (the Promised Messiahas is responding to the allegation), and have written that his performing istighfar is proof – God forbid! – of the sinfulness of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. These uninformed people do not even understand that istighfar is a lofty quality [in one’s character]. Mankind, by nature, is created such that its natural tendency is to be feeble and frail. Prophets are aware of this inherent frailty and the weakness of human nature. For this reason, they pray that O my Allah, grant us such protection that those human weaknesses are not even capable of appearing. The [Arabic] word ghafar means ‘to cover’. The essential point is that the power that God wields is not possessed by any Prophet, wali [saint] or Messenger. No one can possibly claim that they can safeguard themselves from sin through their own capabilities. Therefore, Prophets also stand in need of God for the sake of protection. Wherefore, as a demonstration of his humble submission before God, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also used to pray to God Almighty for His protection like the other Prophets [did]. This belief of those people (i.e., the Christians) that Jesusas did not engage in istighfar is false. This is their foolishness and ignorance, and they level a false allegation upon Jesusas. A study of the New Testament reveals that he repeatedly confessed to his weaknesses and even performed istighfar. What was meant by his cry ‘Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?’  Why did he not cry out ‘My Father, my Father!’? In Hebrew, God is called Ail. The very meaning of this [verse] is ‘Have mercy and help me and do not leave me abandoned like this (in other words, Protect me).’ In reality, the difficulty is that the true meaning and purpose of istighfar is lost in India due to the burden of a difference in language. These prayers are considered as though they are magical words, whether it be Salat [obligatory Prayers], istighfar, or repentance. If you advise someone to do istighfar, they reply that they recite istighfar one or two hundred times on a rosary, but if you ask them its meaning, they know absolutely nothing. Istighfar is an Arabic term that means seeking forgiveness, that O my God, protect me from the consequences of previous sins – as sin is a poison that has an inevitable effect – and grant me such protection in the future that I will not commit sin. Mere verbal repetition of the words will not serve the purpose.

“Taubah means to turn away from sin through repentance and remorse. There is no harm in it. On the contrary, it is written that Allah immensely loves the servant who repents. In addition, a name of God Almighty is Tawwab, the meaning of which is that when a person repents of his sins and becomes remorseful, vowing to avoid them in the future, then God Almighty turns to him with mercy. God turns to man more than the repentance of man, as it is reported in the noble hadith that if a person advances towards God by a distance of a portion of his hand, then God advances towards him by a measure of a full hand. If someone comes walking [towards Him], God Almighty comes running. Meaning that, if a person turns towards God, then Allah the Almighty also favours him with the utmost degree of mercy, grace, and forgiveness, but if he turns his face away from God, then what care should God Almighty have?” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 10, pp. 431-434)

While explaining the true nature of Istighfar, the Promised Messiahas stated:

“One should know that the Holy Quran has presented two names of Allah Almighty – Al-Hayy and Al-Qayyum. The meaning of Al-Hayy is the God Who is Living and gives life to others. Al-Qayyum means the Self-Subsisting and the True Source of sustenance for others. The sustenance and life of all things, apparent and hidden, is through these two attributes. The word ‘Hayy’ requires that He be worshipped, as is manifested in Surah al-Fatihah in ‘Iyyaka Na’budu’ [Thee alone do we worship]. Similarly, ‘Al-Qayyum’ requires that support be sought from Him, and this is performed through the words ‘Iyyaka Nasta’in’ [Thee alone do we implore for help]. The word ‘Hayy’ necessitates worship because He created, and after creating, He did not simply leave it. For example, the demise of a mason (one who builds a building) after constructing a building does not cause any harm to the building itself. However, a person needs God Almighty at all times. For this reason, it is necessary that one continues to seek strength from God Almighty, and this is true istighfar [seeking forgiveness]. Then, expanding on this, it also applies to those people who sin, that they may be safeguarded from the evil results of these sins. (Even if one hasn’t sinned, one must still perform istighfar in order to remain alive and to remain in the refuge of God Almighty.) But the true [meaning] is that one is saved from human weaknesses. Hence, anyone, who is human, who deems istighfar to be unnecessary is an insolent atheist.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 3, p. 217)

Then, while describing the true essence of istighfar, the Promised Messiahas states in one place:

“Sin is a disease which taints the blood, but it can only be cured by way of istighfar. What is istighfar? It is [seeking] for God Almighty to protect against the ill effects of the sins committed and those not yet committed. Furthermore, it is for a person’s ability to commit sin to never be manifested, and for it to be burnt away to ashes from within. These are very fearful times, so occupy yourself in Taubah and Istighfar (the times we are passing through are of great fear. Occupy yourself in taubah and istighfar). Continue to assess your inner state. The people of every religion and nation, and the People of the Book, accept that punishments are averted through alms, but only prior to the manifestation of the punishments. Once the punishment has descended, then it is never averted. Therefore, seek forgiveness and occupy yourselves in Taubah from now on so that the trial does not befall you, and that Allah Almighty may protect you.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 5, p. 299)

Thus, in view of the current conditions of the world, we should profusely seek forgiveness as I mentioned earlier. May Allah the Almighty protect us from every kind of evil and trial.

Further expounding on the true reality of repentance, the Promised Messiahas states:

“To reject repentance and forgiveness is to shut the door of human progress. It is obvious to everyone that man is not perfect in himself, but in fact, he stands in need of perfection. After his birth, he gradually expands his knowledge and is not born learned or well-informed. In the same way, when after his birth he begins to develop his senses, his moral condition is at a very low ebb. Observation of the condition of small children would show that most children are inclined to beat others on the slightest provocation and many of them are given to telling lies and using foul language with other children. Some steal and backbite and are envious and miserly. When they grow up, they fall into the grip of the self that incites to vice and are guilty of diverse types of evil and wickedness.

“Thus for most people the first stage of life is impure, (the society and conditions surrounding the person make them impure) but when a good-natured person emerges from the fierce flood of youth, he turns towards God (when a good-natured person observes the filth of this world then his attention is drawn towards God) and withdraws from undesirable activities through sincere repentance and occupies himself with purifying the fabric of his nature. These are stages of human life which people generally have to traverse. This shows that were it true that repentance is not accepted, it would mean that God did not even intend to grant anyone salvation.” (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khazain Vol. 23, pp. 192-193)

On one occasion, when some people had come to take the pledge of allegiance and a gathering had formed, the Promised Messiahas advised them as follows:

“It is God Almighty’s desire that mankind performs true and sincere repentance and prays to become free from sin; and that he should neither be disgraced in the hereafter nor in this world.” One should repent in a manner that saves one from disgrace both in this world and in the hereafter. The Promised Messiahas further states: “Until a person is able to speak with true understanding of what he says and adopt humility, their words do not reach God. Sufis have written that if 40 days elapse and one has not cried for the sake of God, their heart becomes hardened. The only remedy for a hardened heart is to weep, and there are ways to induce such a condition. If one looks towards what they have accomplished and the condition of their life – if one takes a glance at the past – (the past holds many painful experiences as well) then one’s heart would begin to tremble and quiver. One who merely claims to be averse to sin is a liar. Where there is sweet syrup, ants will certainly come. Similarly, weaknesses naturally exist within the self; how can one be liberated from them? If God Almighty’s grace and mercy does not manifest, one cannot safeguard against sin. Prophets and saints do not take pride in the fact that they do not sin. Rather, they always seek the grace of God Almighty. This is exactly what is meant by prophets seeking forgiveness, so that God Almighty’s grace remains over them. Otherwise, if humankind is left to do as it wills, it cannot remain innocent and pure.

اللّٰھُمَّ بَاعِدْ بَيْنِيْ وَ بَيْنَ خَطَايَايَ

“[My Lord, create a distance between me and my sins.]

“There are other similar prayers that elucidate this very meaning of istighfar. The secret to becoming servants [of God] is that one should come under God’s refuge, and one who does not seek God’s refuge is conceited and arrogant.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 6, p. 21)

Someone once asked the Promised Messiahas how one can develop passion and derive pleasure in worship. Even now, people ask many questions in this regard. The Promised Messiahas said:

“Passion and pleasure in performing good deeds and worship cannot be produced by yourself; it can only be attained through God Almighty’s grace and if He enables you to. One should not become worried. Instead, one ought to continue to supplicate to God Almighty for His grace and strength (one should seek pleasure and passion in worship from Allah the Almighty). You should not tire of praying for this. When one is steadfast and resolute in his prayers, God Almighty showers His grace and fulfils the desires that once caused anxiousness and restlessness in their heart (if you are anxious and restless to develop passion and pleasure in your worship, and you remain steadfast in this, then ultimately you will achieve your goal). In other words, one begins to feel passion, pleasure and tastes the sweetness of worship. However, if one does not strive and struggle (if one does not make an effort at all) and thinks that this can be accomplished simply by blowing air, then this is not in accordance with the laws and practice of Allah the Almighty. If one tries Allah the Almighty in this way, he is mocking God Almighty and will be ruined. Remember well that your hearts are in the hands of Allah the Almighty. If it were not for His grace, you would become Christian the very next day or adopt another path of faithlessness. For this reason, constantly seek His grace and help through prayer that you may remain steadfast on the right path. He who becomes independent of God Almighty becomes akin to Satan. To avoid this, one must continue to seek forgiveness so that he is safeguarded against the poison and urges that seek to destroy him.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 8, pp. 154-155)

Thus, to attain a high standard of worship, one must seek forgiveness. Then, whilst elucidating on the secret to saving oneself from God Almighty’s punishment, the Promised Messiahas states:

“One should supplicate for repentance and forgiveness. Without repentance and forgiveness, one cannot achieve anything. All prophets have said that if one seeks repentance and forgiveness, only then will God forgive them. Offer your prayers and supplicate to God Almighty for help to avoid sins in the future. Seek forgiveness for past sins and repent over and over so that the potential that exists in human nature to commit sin is not manifested. There are two forces in the nature of humans; one is the strength to carry out good works and virtues, and the other is to commit evil. It is up to God Almighty to keep this [evil] force at bay. This force exists in humankind in the same manner that a stone holds the potential for fire.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, p. 372)

The Promised Messiahas states:

اَنِ اسۡتَغۡفِرُوۡا رَبَّکُمۡ ثُمَّ تُوۡبُوۡۤا اِلَيۡہِ

And that you seek forgiveness of your Lord, and then turn to Him. (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.4)

“Bear in mind that two things have been granted to this ummah: one which grants strength and for that, there is Istighfar [seeking forgiveness] and the other which enables one to practically demonstrate the strength that they have attained and that is to turn towards God through repentance. In order to build strength there is istighfar (seeking forgiveness from God), which may also be described as istimdad (seeking support) or isti’anat (seeking assistance). The Sufis have written that just as lifting meels [clubs] and weights (as it was mentioned earlier) increase the strength and power of the body, similarly seeking forgiveness from God is a spiritual weight, which strengthens the soul and develops steadfastness in the heart. One who desires to develop strength ought to seek forgiveness or perform istighfar.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, pp. 241-242)

The Promised Messiahas states:

“The door to God Almighty’s favours and grace is never closed. If a person inclines towards God with a true heart and sincerity, then the All-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful God will accept his repentance. To ponder as to whether God Almighty would ever forgive the sinners is utter insolence and disdain toward Him. The treasuries of His mercy are vast and infinite. There is no shortage in His court, and His door is not closed to anyone. His mercy is not like the jobs of the Englishmen that require extensive education. Those who strive towards God will attain lofty ranks accordingly, and this is a promise that is certain. One who despairs of God Almighty and dies in this state of ignorance is truly unfortunate and ill-fated. Surely, His door does close when death comes upon a person.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 3, pp. 296-297)

However, in the end, when one dies, then there is no hope. The Promised Messiahas further 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. This means that when a person discarding sin turns to God with a sincere heart, God Almighty turns even more to him. 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 him? 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.

“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 were not one of the attributes of God Almighty, no one would be delivered. It is a pity that people do not ponder over the attributes of God Almighty and depend entirely upon 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? Certainly not and may the curse of Allah be upon the liars.” (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, pp. 133-134)

Drawing our attention to bringing about a remarkable change within our lives, the Promised Messiahas stated:

“Bear well in mind that to depend on medicine and human strategies whilst putting aside God Almighty is extremely foolish. What is required is a completely new life; one full of seeking forgiveness from Allah. Those who are heavily engaged in worldly matters ought to be more fearful (those who, on account of being occupied in worldly affairs say that they do not find enough time [to offer prayers] should be fearful). Those in employment often fail to observe their obligations to God. On certain occasions, it is permissible to combine the Zuhr and Asr prayers, and also to combine the Maghrib and Isha prayers (if the circumstances are very dire then the prayers can be combined, otherwise the principle is to offer the prayers individually). I know that if the authorities are requested to grant leave for the obligatory Prayers, they are accommodating. Government officials are under instruction by their superiors to grant permission for the observance of Prayer. To neglect the Prayer by resorting to feeble excuses is nothing but a weakness of the self. Do not fail to offer the rights owed to God’s servants and the rights owed to God. Fulfil your obligations.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 1, p. 266)

Thus, seeking forgiveness and repentance will only be of benefit when one keeps their fundamental obligations in view and duly fulfils them. Prayers should be offered with consistency. One should also duly fulfil the rights of Allah and His creation.

The Promised Messiahas further states:

“Rise up, therefore, and repent, and appease your Lord with good deeds. Bear in mind that the errors of belief will only be punished after death, and the dispute between Hindus, Christians and Muslims will be decided in the Hereafter, but he who crosses all bounds in audacity and immorality will be punished in this world, and there is no way he can escape Divine chastisement. Try to please your Lord and remember that He is the Most Compassionate and forgives the sins of a whole lifetime in a moment of self-consuming repentance. Do not despair of His forgiveness. Remember, that you can only be saved by His grace and not through any of your efforts (thus, one should continue to remain ever inclined towards Allah the Almighty and seek His grace and forgiveness). O Merciful and Compassionate God, have mercy on us, for we are Thy servants and have thrown ourselves upon Thy threshold. Amen” (Lecture Lahore, pp. 35-36)

May Allah the Almighty enable us to become the recipients of the Promised Messiah’sas prayer and may we seek forgiveness and repentance whilst understanding its true meaning and essence.

Now I will mention some deceased members and will later lead their funeral prayers [in absentia]. The first mention is of respected Ansa Begum, who was the daughter of Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ishaqra. She recently passed away at the age of 93.

اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

By the grace of Allah the Almighty she was a Musia. She was born in Qadian. Hazrat Mir Nasir Nawabra was her paternal grandfather. Her mother’s name was Hazrat Saliha Begum, daughter of Pir Manzur Muhammad. She obtained her primary education in Qadian. Allah the Almighty blessed her with two sons and a daughter. She was married to the late Qazi Shaukat Sahib. Mir Mahmood Ahmad Nasir writes from Rabwah about his sister, “She was very simple, kind and innocent. Before getting married, our sister would take care of the entire family.” He says, “In the early days of Rabwah when there wouldn’t be any electricity, the heat would be extreme, and people lived in mud houses.” He says, “We would all stay in one room to avoid the heat as it had a ceiling fan which would be made to move with a rope. Without anyone asking, for the sake of our comfort, she would go out and push the rope so that we could sleep peacefully. She had a selfless passion for serving others.” Her children write, “Our mother was a very sincere Ahmadi Muslim. She fulfilled her rights and duties as a wife. She was very simple in nature and very loving. She would speak about the salient incidents full of wisdom from the lives of the Holy Prophetsa, his Khulafa and Companions in a very simple manner. She would also be able to easily relate incidents from the history of the Jamaat, the Promised Messiahas, his Khulafa and Companions. She would enjoin her children and generally others as well to remain steadfast in faith and to live an honourable life. She was very active in rendering service to the Jamaat. Her greatest quality was her compassion for humanity. She also had a great passion for propagation. [Whilst travelling,] she would go to the airport terminal and preach the message of Islam to everyone, including the pilots. Her morals were beautiful and there was a simplicity to them. She was very good at delivering speeches.” Her niece Amatul Kafi says, “Her formative training was so strong that she never veered away from the training of her parents. She had such a passion for service to the faith that she would regularly go to the mosque in New York to clean it. People say that until she was strong enough, whenever she went to the market she would propagate the message to people of all walks of life according to their understanding and in their language. She had great compassion and love in her heart for the needy and helpless. May Allah the Almighty enable her children to carry on the legacy of her virtues and grant her His forgiveness and mercy, and elevate her station.

The second funeral is of respected Bushra Akram from Sialkot. She also recently passed away.

اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

She was born in 1955 in Batal, Sialkot. Among her outstanding qualities were that she was virtuous, righteous, regular in offering prayers and fasting, and was very sincere. She was hospitable and tended to the poor. She had a special love for the Khilafat. She also respected life-devotees a great deal. She is survived by her husband, three daughters and a son. Her son Shahryar Babar Shahzad, is a missionary of the Community in Sierra Leone and due to being in the field of service there he was unable to attend the funeral.

Babar Shahzad, the missionary writes, “She was very happy when I was accepted into Jamia. She inquired what they had asked and I told her that they asked me in Jamia that since I am my parents’ only son, who would take care of them if I dedicated my life? I gave them my response, and when my mother heard it she said, ‘If I had seven sons I would have dedicated all of them.’” He says, “In her final days when she was in the hospital I called to ask how she was doing. Despite being in great discomfort, she said that she was fine and that she was eating and drinking as the doctor had prescribed. She also said that if anything happened to her I should not worry and that I should remain in Africa and should not make my children worry; I am a life-devotee and so I should remain patient.” He says, “These were my mother’s last words.” She took care of the poor and widows, and would render financial aid to them. Whenever the harvest of wheat or rice would come in she would divide it into various parts to assign their share. May Allah the Almighty grant her His forgiveness and mercy and grant her children patience.

The third mention is of Musarrat Jahan, wife of Chaudhry Muhammad Akhtar of Australia. She also recently passed away at the age of 87.

اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

Her paternal grandfather Hazrat Babu Muhammad Afzal Aujalvira was a companion of the Promised Messiahas and she was raised in his presence. She had a brain haemorrhage and had been bedridden for the past 16 years. Her son Zahid and daughter-in-law especially took care of her. Her daughter-in-law says, “The way she treated me during her active life was not like a mother-in-law but as if I were her daughter. She was regular in offering prayers, keeping fasts and offering tahajjud. She would take special care of her worship. She had kept a separate place in her home for worship. When there would be a Dars [on the Holy Quran] in Masjid Mubarak she would walk from Darul Uloom to attend the Dars and she would also go in the last ten days [of Ramadan] for the Tarawih prayers. She had great love and respect for the Khilafat. Her husband was a stationmaster in the railway. Wherever he would be posted she would hold lessons for children to learn the Holy Quran in her home. When she settled in Rabwah she would also hold Quran classes there.” She is survived by her husband, three sons and three daughters. Her youngest son Hafiz Rashid Javaid is a life-devotee serving as Nazim Darul Qaza in Rabwah. May Allah the Almighty grant her His forgiveness and mercy and enable her children to carry on her good deeds.

The fourth mention is of respected Nasir Ahmad Qureshi of the USA. He also recently passed away at the age of 88.

اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ

[Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.]

He was married to Amatul Bari Nasir who served as the Secretary Ishaat for a long time under Lajna Imaillah Karachi. He is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters. One of his grandsons, Waqas Khurshid is a missionary while another grandson is studying in Jamia Canada. His father was respected Muhammad Shamsuddin Bhagalpuri. Ahmadiyyat was established in their family in 1913 when respected Maulvi Abdul Majid, the father of Hazrat Sayyidah Sarah Begum, wife of the Second Khalifara held a gathering in that area and presented arguments in favour of the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas. His father was greatly influenced and went to meet him on the stage. He was given some literature which he read and subsequently developed a passion for Ahmadiyyat. He prayed and Allah the Almighty showed him the blessed countenance of the Promised Messiahas in a dream along with other blessed dreams. Hence, he wrote a letter to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira), pledging allegiance to him. In this way, he was among the foremost Ahmadis in Bhagalpur. Due to extreme opposition, he migrated to Qadian along with his wife and children where he continued to increase in sincerity and love. He also had the opportunity to serve as the car driver for Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh. Nasir Qureshi Sahib was born in Qadian. After the partition, he moved to Karachi where he obtained his education. He continued his studies with great effort and dedication, despite unfavourable conditions. He did his BA in electrical engineering and then took up a job in the Telephone Department and progressed to the rank of General Manager. When he retired, he did so with the reputation of being a hardworking and trustworthy leader. In the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Karachi, he served as the local President of the Nazimabad chapter. He lived elsewhere as well and also served as the Local President there. May Allah the Almighty grant him His forgiveness and mercy.

His wife, Amatul Bari, writes, “I always found him to be regular in offering prayers and keeping fasts. His heart was attached to the mosque. He was a responsible husband and he took great care of the education and training of his children. He would also help those in need. He had a profound love for the Khilafat. He always spoke in a truthful and straightforward manner.” By the grace of God, he was a musi. May Allah the Almighty enable his children to carry on the legacy of his virtues.

(Official Urdu transcript published in the Daily Al Fazl International, 15 September 2023, pp. 2-7. Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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