5 May 2023
Justice, kindness and kinship: Scaling the three levels of goodness
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ يَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَالۡاِحۡسَانِ وَاِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي وَيَنۡہٰي عَنِ الۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَالۡمُنۡکَرِ وَالۡبَغۡيِۚ يَعِظُکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَذَکَّرُوۡنَ
“Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed.” [Surah an-Nahl, Ch. 16: V. 91]
Huzooraa then said:
This verse is recited every Friday in the khutbah-e-thaniah [second part of the sermon] as well as the khutbah-e-thaniah of the two Eid prayers. Certain virtues have been mentioned therein, which Allah the Almighty commands us to perform, as well as the evil deeds against which Allah the Almighty admonishes us. The very sign of a true believer is that they act in accordance with the commandments and guidelines of Allah the Almighty in order to strengthen their faith. Otherwise, they will not attain the standard that transforms a Muslim into a true believer.
I will present the teachings of the Promised Messiahas in relation to the virtues that have been mentioned in this verse, i.e., enjoining justice, doing good to others and giving like kindred, which he has penned in various books and stated during various gatherings. Although each instruction revolves around the same subject-matter, there are various forms of instructions that guide us towards living in accordance with the commandments of Allah the Almighty. He has not only mentioned these characteristics and virtues with regard to our relationship with mankind; rather, he has also spoken of how we can maintain a relationship of enjoining justice, doing good to others and giving like kindred in relation to God Almighty. He has presented a commentary on this in such an insightful manner that it truly gives us an understanding of the relationship with God Almighty, which elevates a believer to new avenues of faith and conviction.
Nevertheless, I will now present some extracts. One should contemplate over these and try to make them a part of their life. Through these, we find such a guiding principle that connects us with God Almighty and also draws our attention towards fulfilling the rights of one another. As such, this creates such a beautiful society that fulfils the rights due to Allah and those due to mankind. Furthermore, this is the very principle that will guarantee the peace of society as well as that of the world. However, it is unfortunate that most of the world is bent on usurping the rights of one another, whether it is the Muslim world or the non-Muslim world. Muslims utter the name of Allah the Almighty, but they have also exceeded all bounds in terms of committing injustices in the name of Allah the Almighty. As such, it is the duty and responsibility of the followers of the Promised Messiahas to remain mindful of the commandments of Allah the Almighty, transform themselves and also try to reform the world.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“God commands you to be just towards Him as well as His creation. That is, you should fulfil the rights of Allah and the rights of mankind and if you are able to go beyond that, then you should not only enjoin justice but also do good to others. That is, you should go beyond what is obligatory and worship God with such sincerity as if you were able to see Him.”
First, the Promised Messiahas mentioned the rights due to mankind and then he said that you should worship God as if you were seeing him. [He further states:] “You should treat people with kindness beyond their due right. And if you can go beyond this, you should detach yourself from your personal desires and ulterior motives and worship God and serve His creation […]” That is, you should selflessly worship God and not present yourself before Him with an ulterior motive. Similarly, you should also serve Allah’s creation selflessly, “[…] just as someone would do due to his close relationship with another.” (Shahna-e-Haqq, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 2, pp. 361-362)
Then, elaborating on this verse and drawing our attention towards fulfilling the rights of Allah the Almighty and how to fulfil the rights of mankind, the Promised Messiahas further states:
“First and foremost, the meaning of this verse is that you should be just in your obedience towards your Creator. You should not be unjust.” You should always remain mindful of this and be just in your obedience towards Allah the Almighty. [The Promised Messiahas further stated:] “Hence, there is, in fact, no one worthy of worship, worthy of love or worthy of being trusted besides Him, because due to His attributes of creation, sustenance and providence, every right belongs to Him alone.”
What is justice toward God? Upholding a relationship of obedience with Allah the Almighty and doing so because He is our Creator and the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. Providence rests in His hands, as He is the Provider, Nurturer and Fulfiller of every need of ours. As such, it is His right alone to be trusted and loved. [The Promised Messiahas further stated:] “Similarly, you should not associate a partner with Him in terms of His worship, love and providence. If you follow this principle, then this is the justice that was made obligatory upon you.” This is justice in relation to Allah the Almighty and which is necessary to uphold.
“Then, if you wish to progress from that,” and take the next step, “you will reach the stage of ‘ihsan’ [doing good]. This means to praise His greatness, to become so well-versed in your worship of Him, and to lose yourself in His love in a way whereby it is as if you have witnessed His grandeur, majesty, and His infinite beauty.”
The next step is of doing good, however, one cannot confer any kind of favour upon God Almighty, so the true purport of this is to lose oneself in His worship, reverence and love, as if they are witnessing His grandeur, His glory, His attributes, and His infinite beauty.
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“Then there is the stage of ‘ita’i dhil qurba’ [giving like kindred] and that means to completely remove any superficiality and ostentation from your worship, love and obedience. (It is possible that in the previous stage when one acts or makes efforts out of ‘ihsan’ that there be a slight aspect of artificiality or pretentiousness and to make an effort, however, one should then strive to attain the stage where this artificiality and pretentiousness is completely eradicated.) One should worship Allah the Almighty with heartfelt joy and emotion, recognise His grandeur and remember Him out of such an intimate relationship just as they remember their fathers and one’s love for Him should be like the love a child has for their dear mother.”
The Promised Messiahas states with regards to showing sympathy in light of the rights owed to God’s creation and which relate to mankind:
“This verse means to do justice to your brothers and to mankind, and do not make any undue demands for your rights and remain firmly established in equity. (Observe justice within one’s rights. One can, of course, seek their rights, provided they remain established upon justice. There should not be any undue requests.) If one desires to progress from this to the stage of ‘ihsan’ [doing good], which means to do good in response to a brother’s evil. (If one treats you badly, you should do good to them – this is ‘ihsan’.) In exchange for the hurt he gives, one should afford them comfort. (If they cause you harm, you should strive to give them ease and happiness) and to help them with benevolence and favour.
“Thereafter, there is the stage of ‘ita’i dhil qurba’ [giving like kindred], which is to carry out whatever good is possible for one’s brothers and wish well for mankind, without any desire for recompense. (One should not have the aim of receiving any favour in return); rather, it should emanate naturally, without any desire for recompense. (One should act in a completely natural manner), just as, out of a strong passion for kinship, a person does good to their relatives (just as a family member does good to another family member. There is no ulterior motive, rather, it is out of heartfelt joy). It is the ultimate perfection of moral progress when one has no personal desires or motives when showing sympathy to mankind, rather, a fervour of brotherhood and kinship should sprout from this highest stage, whereby this virtue emanates automatically and instinctively, without any pretentiousness, and without any desire for recompense, gratitude, prayer or reward.” (Izala-e-Auham, Part 2, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 3, pp. 550-552)
At this stage, there should not be any kind of desire whatsoever for someone to thank you, pray for you, or do good to you in return. Instead, it should be carried out purely due to the tie of kinship. Hence, this is the manner in which we should treat one another amongst ourselves, and then, whilst increasing the scope of this, we should extend it to others as well.
Then, whilst further explaining this principle in relation to the rights owed to Allah, the Promised Messiahas states:
“The meaning of this verse in relation to the rights owed to Allah is that one should adhere to justice whilst obeying God Almighty, for it is His right that you obey the One Who created you, nurtured you and does so at all times. (Allah created you, nurtured you, and continues to nurture you and provide you with worldly means, so it is His right that you obey Him.) If you possess greater perception, then you should not obey Him just out of the realisation that it is His right [to be worshipped], but rather, out of ‘ihsan’ [doing good]. (Firstly, there is the stage of ‘adl’ [justice], meaning we should obey Him bearing in mind that He has created us and fulfils our needs. Then, in addition to this, one should obey Him out of ‘ihsan’) as He is the Benefactor, and His favours are so vast that they are innumerable. (Begin to recount the favours of Allah Almighty and obey Him for His favours – this is the stage of ‘ihsan’.) It is evident that this is greater than the stage of ‘adl’, for one keeps in consideration the aspect of ‘ihsan’ [His Divine favours] when obeying, and because they always observe, analyse and keep in mind the countenance and attributes of the Benefactor of Mankind, it, therefore, enters the realm of ‘ihsan’, for when they worship, it is as if they are observing God Almighty.”
Thus, this is when there is the hue of ‘ihsan’ [doing good]. No one can do good to Allah the Almighty, in fact, it is remembering the favours of Allah the Almighty that transforms one into one who does good. The Promised Messiahas stated that the way to remember the favours of Allah the Almighty is that when a person confers a favour upon you, you should bear in mind their countenance and qualities. When these are kept in mind, you develop a close relationship with them. When this relationship is developed with Allah Almighty, you will sincerely worship Him; such worship whereby you are mindful of the fact that you are seeing God Almighty.
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“Those who submit to God are, in fact, of three types. First, those who, on account of the obstruction of worldly means, are not able to see God’s beneficence clearly, (there is a covering over their senses or they overly rely on worldly means, hence they are unable to truly comprehend the beneficence of Allah the Almighty) and are not inspired by that eagerness (since they do not comprehend the divine beneficence, therefore there is no passion generated within them) which is generated by an appreciation of the grandeur of divine beneficence; nor are they moved by the love which is inspired by a concept of the greatness of the Benefactor’s favours.”
If they do not instil the true concept of Allah the Almighty within them; His divine countenance does not appear before them; they do not have any consideration of His divine beneficence; they do not truly reflect upon the divine providence of Allah the Almighty, then they cannot generate a passion within them. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“[They are not moved by the love] which is inspired by a concept of the greatness of the Benefactor’s favours. (Such a condition in the heart will not develop as it ought to upon witnessing the beneficence of a benefactor.) They casually acknowledge God Almighty as the Creator, (such people just superficially acknowledge God as the Creator and the One Who has created them. However, they do not have a deeper understanding of this). They do not contemplate the details of divine beneficence, which would impress a true concept of the Divine Benefactor upon their minds, (They do not deeply ponder over the due rights they owe to Allah the Almighty owing to Him being the Creator. They do not deeply ponder) as the dust of exaggerated regard for material means creates a veil that prevents them from observing the full countenance of the Creator of the means. (The dust of the worldly means has covered them which is why they cannot observe the true countenance of Allah the Almighty.) They are thus unable to appreciate the full beauty of the Bountiful. (They are unable to witness the beauty of the One Who is the true Benefactor.) Their defective comprehension is confused by their regard for the means (i.e., whatever little knowledge they have about Allah the Almighty – due to which, at times, they offer their prayers and fulfil its due rights, and at other times, fail to do so – is in fact because their knowledge is tainted by the worldly means and material aspirations, which is why they cannot properly witness the true countenance of Allah the Almighty) and, as they are not able to estimate duly the bounties of God, they do not pay as much attention to Him as would be generated in their minds by a proper appreciation of His favours. (They do not pay full attention which would allow them to observe the true countenance of the Benefactor.) Thus, their comprehension is somewhat hazy, (they are not able to properly witness the countenance of Allah the Almighty) because they put their trust in their own efforts and in the means that are available to them. They also acknowledge formally their obligation to God on account of His being the Creator and the Provider. (They do not have clear knowledge of this; rather, they believe that it was owing to their efforts and knowledge that their works were completed. At the same time, they also have some impact from their religious surroundings, and so they are mindful of the fact that Allah the Almighty is the Creator Who created them, nourished them, and provided for them. Thus, it is a mix of two states; however, one cannot witness the true countenance of God Almighty in such an amalgamated state.) As God Almighty does not require of anyone that which is beyond the limits of his intellectual capacity, He only requires of them an expression of gratitude for His favours. In the verse: اِنَّ اللّٰہَ يَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ [‘Verily, Allah enjoins justice.’ (16:91)], ‘justice’ implies only this kind of obedience.”
Allah the Almighty’s attribute of being the Gracious manifests in such an instance. Allah the Almighty manifests His graciousness upon even those who cannot properly observe the countenance of Allah the Almighty and grants acceptance to even this condition of theirs. This, however, is the basic stage and the minimum standard for a Muslim. The Promised Messiahas further continues:
“But above this, there is another stage of comprehension, which we mentioned earlier and that is reached when a person, disregarding the means, clearly observes God’s gracious and beneficent hand and emerges completely out of the veils of material means. (At this stage, one does not wholly rely on worldly means; in fact, one is able to personally witness the beneficence of Allah the Almighty and progresses to the next stage. One has complete trust in Allah the Almighty and acquires cognisance of the Divine. At this stage, one completely comes out of the veils of material means. One no longer places their trust on worldly means, and in fact, places their complete trust in Allah the Almighty.) At that stage, he realises the futility and falsity of expressions like: ‘I obtained this success through proper irrigation of my fields;’ or ‘I obtained this success through my own efforts;’ or ‘I achieved my purpose through the favour of X;’ or ‘I was saved from ruin by the care of Y.’ (Neither does one place any trust in any quality or effort of their own nor in the help or quality of another person. Everything becomes an ordinary matter.) Rather, he beholds only one Being and one Power and one Benefactor and one Hand. Then he views the favours of God Almighty clearly without the least obstruction resulting from associating means with the Benefactor. (When one begins to witness Allah the Almighty in this manner, it is then that one witnesses the divine favours of Allah the Almighty.) This view is so clear and certain that in his worship of the true Benefactor, he does not contemplate Him as being absent but conceives Him as being present. (When a person is engaged in worship and is offering prayer in such a state, he considers Allah the Almighty to be before him.) Such worship is designated by the Holy Quran as ‘ihsan’ (that is, to prostrate before Allah the Almighty as if He is in front of them and this has been termed as ‘ihsan’ in the Holy Quran in relation to Allah the Almighty). The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has himself attributed this meaning to ihsan, as reported in Bukhari and Muslim.”
However, it does not just end here, in fact, the Promised Messiahas continues:
“There is yet another stage above this, which is:
اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي
“[‘Giving like to the next of kin.’ (16:91)]
“It means that when a person continues to view divine favours without the association of material means, (that is, one continues to witness the divine favours of Allah the Almighty without any worldly means or any association with the Divine and one has complete trust in Allah the Almighty alone) and worships God, conceiving Him to be present and to be the direct Benefactor, he begins to have personal love for God, which is the ultimate stage. (One begins to form a personal bond with Allah the Almighty and there is no ulterior motive. One does not supplicate owing to any personal need, rather it is owing to his personal love.) The continuous contemplation of beneficence necessarily generates in the heart of the beneficiary love for the Benefactor, Whose unlimited favours surround him on all sides. (When one realises this and develops true insight and cognisance of the fact that Allah the Almighty has bestowed continuous favours upon him and he personally witnesses them, then this results in one forming a bond of personal love with Allah the Almighty. It is a matter of principle that when one forges such a bond, then one’s heart becomes filled with a personal love for the one who has bestowed countless favours upon them.) In such a situation, he does not worship the Benefactor merely out of an appreciation of His bounties, but out of personal love for Him. (Initially one worships Allah the Almighty due to a need of theirs, then one worships Allah the Almighty because they consider Him to be everything which is referred to as ‘ihsan’ and then there is a stage even beyond that which is that one does not worship because he needs something, rather he does so owing to his personal love which he has for Allah the Almighty.) Just like the love of an infant for its mother. At this stage, he not only views God at the time of his worship but is also filled with delight like a true lover. All of his inner desires cease to exist and a personal love is instilled in him and this is the stage that God Almighty has designated to be like beneficence between kindred, and this is the stage which is indicated in the verse:
فَاذۡکُرُوا اللّٰہَ کَذِکۡرِکُمۡ اٰبَآءَکُمۡ اَوۡ اَشَدَّ ذِکۡرًا
That is, “Celebrate the praises of Allah as you celebrated the praises of your fathers, or even more than that. [2:201].” Thus, this is the stage wherein one has pure love for Allah the Almighty.
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“This throws light on the verse:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ يَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَالۡاِحۡسَانِ وَاِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي
“[‘Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others and giving like kindred.’ (16:91)].
“Here God Almighty sets out the three stages of comprehension of the Divine. The third stage is that of personal love, at which all personal desires are consumed, and the heart becomes so filled with love as a crystal vial is filled with perfume. This stage is also referred to in the verse:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ يَّشۡرِيۡ نَفۡسَہُ ابۡتِغَآءَ مَرۡضَاتِ اللّٰہِؕ وَاللّٰہُ رَءُوۡفٌۢ بِالۡعِبَادِ
“This means that: ‘Of the believers there are some who sell their lives in return for the pleasure of Allah. These are the ones upon whom Allah is Most Compassionate.’ [2:208] Again it is said:
بَلٰي ٭ مَنۡ اَسۡلَمَ وَجۡہَہٗ لِلّٰہِ وَہُوَ مُحۡسِنٌ فَلَہٗۤ اَجۡرُہٗ عِنۡدَ رَبِّہٖ۪ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡہِمۡ وَلَا ہُمۡ يَحۡزَنُوۡنَ
“That is: ‘The truly delivered are those who commit themselves wholly to God and, recalling His favours, worship Him as if they behold Him. Such have their reward with God and they have no fear, nor do they grieve.’ [2:113]
“That is to say, God and His love become their whole purpose, and their reward is divine favours. In another place, it is said:
وَيُطۡعِمُوۡنَ الطَّعَامَ عَلٰي حُبِّہٖ مِسۡکِيۡنًا وَّيَتِيۡمًا وَّاَسِيۡرًا۔ اِنَّمَا نُطۡعِمُکُمۡ لِوَجۡہِ اللّٰہِ لَا نُرِيۡدُ مِنۡکُمۡ جَزَآءً وَّلَا شُکُوۡرًا
“That is: ‘Believers are those who, out of their love for God, feed the needy, the orphans and the captives saying: We feed you in order to win the pleasure of Allah; we do not desire anything in return or any expression of gratitude from you.’ [76:9-10]. (Their only objective is that they please Allah the Almighty and they are able to witness the divine countenance of Allah the Almighty even more than before.)
“Thus, one ought to ponder that these verses show clearly that the Holy Quran has described the highest stage of divine worship and righteous action as that which is inspired by true love of God and sincere seeking of His pleasure.” (Nur-ul-Quran, No. 2, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 9, pp. 437-441)
In order to attain true love for Allah the Almighty, which has also been explained in the verses of the Holy Quran, one also has to show compassion and form a bond with His creation as well. Only a true believer, who loves Allah the Almighty can truly fulfil the rights of his fellow beings.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“What does God desire from you? […] (he mentioned this whilst imparting advice to us in his book “Noah’s Ark”) […] that you deal equitably with all people and show kindness even to those who have not done you any good. More importantly, you ought to love God’s creation as if it were your kith and kin, in the same manner, that mothers treat their children. In acts of goodness, there resides a concealed element of vanity. And every so often people tend to boast of their favours to others. But such a person who performs goodness out of spontaneous desire, in the likeness of a mother, can never be concerned for vanity. Thus, the highest level of virtue originates from one’s natural yearning, like that of a mother. Moreover, this verse not only relates to God’s creation but also to God Himself. Justice [‘adl] towards God means to remember His blessings and show obedience to Him. Goodness [ihsan] towards God means to be so firmly convinced of His existence as though one can see Him. And اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي [to give like the giving of kindred] before God can be defined as worship that is not adulterated by the greed of paradise or the fear of hell. For even if it was supposed that neither paradise nor hell existed, this would not affect your zeal, love and obedience toward Him.” (Noah’s Ark, pp. 49-50 [English Translation of Kishti-e-Nuh]
This is the essence of how to develop personal love for God Almighty, which has been mentioned in great detail. The Promised Messiahas explained this to us in “Noah’s Ark”. Then, while drawing our attention towards fulfilling the rights of others, the Promised Messiahas says:
“Allah the Almighty commands that you observe justice, and greater than justice is that—despite having dispensed justice—you go beyond and show kindness, and even greater than kindness is that you show such consideration to others as if they are your loved ones and, indeed, as if they are your kindred. It is worth remembering that there are just these three levels. Firstly, man observes justice; that is to say, he asks for rights in lieu of granting rights. Then, if he advances further, comes the stage of showing kindness to others. And if he advances yet further, then he leaves behind even the stage of showing kindness to others and displays sympathy for others with the same love with which a mother shows sympathy to her child; that is to say, with a natural passion and not with the intention of being kind to others.” (The Holy War [Jang-e-Muqaddas], pp. 66-67)
This is the essence of fulfilling the rights of others.
The Promised Messiahas explained the beautiful teachings of Islam to non-Muslims. He also advised the Jamaat on various occasions. On one occasion, he advised the Jamaat as follows:
“Deal with others as if they are your close relatives. This is the highest stage, because in the stage of ihsan, there is some element of vanity and if a person forgets the favour conferred upon them, the other would instantly remind them that they had conferred such and such a favour upon them. However, the natural love a mother has for her child is completely devoid of any form of vanity. (If a person does a favour for another person, at times they remind them of it, but a mother never reminds the child of her favours.) In fact, if a king told a mother that were she to kill her child, she would face no punishment, she would never listen to the king and instead, she would reproach the king. This is despite the fact that the mother knows she will pass away before the child reaches adolescence, but owing to her innate love for the child, she would never forsake taking care of the child. It often happens that when parents grow old and have children, they look after them and love them. They did not do this in return for benefitting from them in their old age even. This becomes a natural phenomenon owing to reaching the ultimate stage of love. This is what has been indicated in the words اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي. This is the kind of love one should develop for God Almighty. It should not be for attaining any reward nor for fear of humiliation.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 6, pp. 181-182)
The Promised Messiahas says:
“The lowest stage is ‘adl [justice], meaning whatever you take from someone, you give the same in return. (‘adl means to give back as much as one takes) meaning this is the lowest stage of justice. If one progresses on from this, they reach the stage of ihsan, meaning to give back at least what one takes and even more than that. This is called ‘ihsan’ (i.e., not only to return the favour in kind, but to give back more than that). Then the stage beyond this is called اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي i.e., for one to deal with others in the same way a mother deals with her own child, out of the innate love she has and without expecting any favour in return.
“From the Holy Quran we come to learn that the people of God can progress and reach this stage of love (if one wishes to progress, one can develop this love for Allah.) The resolve of man is not insignificant. Through the grace of God, one can attain all this; in fact, it is necessary for expanding one’s morals. I believe that the people of God can progress to such a stage that they can have love for their fellow human beings that is even greater than the love a mother has for her child. In order to fulfil the rights of others, they love people even more than a mother loves her child.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 7, p. 375)
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“The state of ‘adl is that of a righteous person in the state of nafs-e-ammarah [the soul that incites evil]. In order to reform from this condition, Allah the Almighty has ordered for one to show ‘adl. (If one is to rid oneself of evils, they have to adopt ‘adl, because one has to constantly battle against one’s baser self.) To combat one’s inner self in order to abstain from evil is one form of ‘adl. For example; if one has to pay an outstanding debt, one’s inner self tries to stop repaying it and wishes for the timeframe for repayment to pass. In such a case the inner self becomes even more bold and brazen in that even the law will now not be able to take back the loan. However, this is incorrect, the dictates of ‘adl state that one must pay back a debt that is due upon a person.”
One must pay back a debt that is due; one cannot avoid paying it through some excuse or ploy. Some people devour the debt they owe others and do not pay it back on time. In fact, sometimes, if there is no documented proof [of the agreement], they even deny having to pay back anything. Nonetheless, they should know that Allah the Almighty is watching their every move. In connection with this, I would like to mention that at times, disputes arise in borrowing and lending money when people place undue trust and faith in others. Whereas, in matters of borrowing and lending money, Allah the Almighty has ordered that they be recorded in the written form. It does not mention that because such and such is my close relative, or a good friend, therefore there is no need to write it down. This often becomes the reason for disputes and through this, one’s nafs-e-ammarah [the soul that incites evil] entices one to commit evil deeds. Nonetheless, it is the duty of a believer to avoid all this and adopt ‘adl.
The Promised Messiahas continues:
“It is regrettable that I have to say that some people do not show diligence in these matters and there are some people in our Jamaat also who show no regard in paying back their debt. This is against ‘adl. The Holy Prophetsa did not lead the funeral prayers of such people. Therefore, every one of you must remember that you should not show any form of indolence in regard to paying back a debt. Avoid all forms of dishonesty and deceitfulness, because this is against the divine command that has been mentioned in this verse.”
The Promised Messiahas then further states:
“The next stage is ihsan. The one who practises ‘adl and upholds its boundaries, Allah the Almighty grants such an individual the opportunity and power to excel in virtue. To the extent that one does not stop at ‘adl alone, rather, in return for a small favour, one reciprocates the favour done to him in greater terms. However, even at the stage of ihsan, there is a deficiency and that is that at one point or another, the person reminds the other of the favour conferred upon them. For example, a person feeds another for some ten years, and that person refuses to listen to the former in one small matter, the former would say to him: ‘You are indebted to me as I fed you for ten years’, in an instance, he wastes the kindness he extended over the ten-year period. Hence, even within the one who reaches the stage of ihsan there is a hidden form of vanity. (There is a hidden element of vanity in the one who does ihsan.) However, the third stage is whereby one becomes free from all forms of impurities and uncleanliness and this stage is known as اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي.”
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“The stage of اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي is a stage which becomes ingrained in one’s nature. I.e., in this stage, one performs virtues in a way that it becomes part of their very being. The example is like that of a mother who feeds and looks after her child. Never does the mother think that when the child grows up, he or she will earn a livelihood and in return serve the mother. To the extent whereby even if a king orders a mother to stop feeding the child and the child dies as a result, she will not be held accountable, even then a mother could never follow such a command and she would hurl abuse at the king instead. The reason for this is that nurturing a child is a natural impulse of the mother. It is not based on any hope [of reward] or fear. In the same way man can excel in virtue to the extent where they reach this stage, i.e., virtue becomes a natural impulse for them. This stage is what is known as ‘the soul at rest’ [nafs-e-mutma’innah].” (Malfuzat , Vol. 8, pp. 312-314)
The Promised Messiahas states: “A mother bears hardship herself but tries to provide comfort for her child. She lies down on the soggy area if the bed gets wet but places her child on the dry part. If the child gets sick, she remains awake all night and bears all kinds of hardships. Is there any element of artificiality or pretence in what a mother does for her child?”
She does it solely out of her earnest love and it is this love that a believer should have when discharging their rights owed to Allah and His creation.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Thus, Allah the Exalted says: ‘Strive to go beyond even the stage of ihsan [benevolence] and rise to the stage of اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي. Do good to the creation of God with a natural and innate urge, without the expectation of any reward or benefit or service [from them]. Your service to the creation of God should not have any pretentiousness or artificiality about it.’ In another place, it is said like this:
لَا نُرِيۡدُ مِنۡکُمۡ جَزَآءً وَّلَا شُکُوۡرًا
“Meaning that, it is the hallmark of a person who is godly and who has achieved lofty ranks that his good deeds are purely for the sake of Allah. He does not even have the thought cross his mind that someone would pray for him or express gratitude to him for the good he has done. He does virtuous deeds purely out of the urge that has been placed in his heart to have sympathy for mankind. I have not seen such a pure teaching—neither in the Torah nor in the New Testament. I have read them page by page but have not found therein any trace or sign of such a pure and perfect teaching.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 10, pp. 532-533)
Then, the Promised Messiahas states:
“This means that we are commanded to return good for good, and to exercise benevolence when it is called for, and to do good with natural eagerness as between kindred, when that should be appropriate. God Almighty forbids transgression or that you should exercise benevolence out of place (there must be a balance in exercising these virtues) or should refrain from exercising it when it is called for. (One must act with intelligence and exercise these virtues appropriately. Benevolence should not be demonstrated where it is not necessary, nor should one refuse to show benevolence where it is required. Reason and a beneficial outcome must be factored in); or that you should fall short of exercising graciousness as between kindred on its proper occasion, or should extend it beyond its appropriate limit. This verse sets forth three gradations of doing good.”
Where we have been commanded to demonstrate these virtues, we have also been advised to exercise reason, balance and strive for a good and positive outcome. Essentially, the commandment for these acts of goodness is predicated upon benefitting society, not creating chaos. A mother, despite loving her child dearly, never fulfils the child’s plea to place his hand in the fire. Thus, the ultimate objective of demonstrating these three virtues is to achieve benefit and betterment.
The Promised Messiahas continues:
“The first is the doing of good in return for good. This is the lowest gradation and even an average person can easily acquire this quality that he should do good to those who do good to him. (Any respectable person can achieve this level of goodness for it is fundamental; it is not a lofty virtue, but stems from mere courtesy.) The second gradation is a little more difficult than the first, and that is to take the initiative in doing good out of pure benevolence. This is the middle grade. (This means to demonstrate benevolence, and to benefit others irrespective of whether they are deserving of it. This is the intermediate level of goodness.) Most people act benevolently towards the poor, but there is a hidden deficiency in benevolence, that the person exercising benevolence is conscious of it and desires gratitude or prayer in return for his benevolence. If on any occasion the other person should turn against him, he considers him ungrateful. On occasion, he reminds him of his benevolence or puts some heavy burden upon him. (One who is benevolent reminds others of their benevolence and how they have been benefitted for a period of time, thereby placing a burden on them that is beyond their strength to bear.) The benevolent ones have been admonished by God Almighty:
لَا تُبۡطِلُوۡا صَدَقٰتِکُمۡ بِالۡمَنِّ وَالۡاَذٰي
“That is, O those who do good to others – good that should be based on sincerity – do not render it vain by reminding them what favours you have done them or by inflicting injury on them. [2:265] (Allah the Almighty has warned such people that their goodness will be of no benefit. If they are charitable, they should know that charity is founded on sincerity. If one is to remind them of their favours, then all of their good deeds shall go in vain.) The Arabic word for alms (sadaqah) is derived from a root (sidq) that means sincerity. If the heart is not inspired by sincerity in bestowing alms, the almsgiving ceases to be alms and becomes mere display. That is why those who exercise benevolence have been admonished by God Almighty not to render vain their benevolence by reproaches or injury. The third grade of doing good is graciousness as between kindred. God Almighty directs that in this grade there should be no idea of benevolence or any desire for gratitude, but good should be done out of such eager sympathy as, for instance, a mother does good to her child. This is the highest grade of doing good which cannot be exceeded. But God Almighty has conditioned all these grades of doing good with their appropriate time and place. The verse cited above clearly indicates that if these virtues are not exercised in their proper places they would become vices. (This is also a warning; if these virtues are not exercised at their appropriate time and place and are a means of chaos in the world, then they become vices.) For instance, if equity exceeds its limits it would take on an unwholesome aspect and would become indecent. (The next part of the verse, in respect to safeguarding against evils, is also mentioned here.) In the same way, misuse of benevolence would take on a form which would be repelled by reason and conscience; and in the same way graciousness between kindred would become transgression. The Arabic word for transgression is baghy, which connotes excessive rain which ruins crops. A deficiency in the discharge of an obligation or an excess in its discharge are both baghy. (Whether there is a deficiency in what is due or excess, in both cases it becomes baghy.) In short, whichever of these three qualities is exercised out of place becomes tainted. That is why they are all three qualities conditioned by the due observance of place and occasion. It should be remembered that equity or benevolence or graciousness between kindred are not in themselves moral qualities. They are man’s natural conditions and faculties that are exhibited even by children before they develop their reason. Reason is a condition of the exercise of a moral quality and there is also a condition that every moral quality should be exercised in its proper place and on its proper occasion. There are several other directions set out in the Holy Quran concerning benevolence which are all made subject to the condition of place and time.” (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam [Islami Usool Ki Falasafi], pp. 62-65)
In other words, these virtues have been mentioned with specificity to what is required for them. Thus, the Promised Messiahas has inculcated these virtues within us through various means and examples. In respect to exercising goodness and benevolence, the Promised Messiahas also narrates a personal incident. He states:
“Benevolence is an extraordinary force that can empower one to conquer their greatest foes. There was a man in Sialkot who had a dispute with everyone. There was not a single person he was at peace with, to the extent that his family and friends had grown weary of him. I treated him with simple acts of kindness and in return, he never behaved in an ill manner towards me. In fact, whenever he met me, he spoke respectfully. Similarly, an Arab came to my home who was severely opposed to Wahhabis. Even when Wahhabis were mentioned in his presence, he would break out in slander against them. He began to slander Wahhabis when he came here, too. I did not pay heed to him and served him well. I even prepared a good meal for him. Then, one day while he was slandering and maligning Wahhabis in his rage, a man came to him and said that the person hosting him was also a Wahhabi. (He was referring to the Promised Messiahas.) Thereupon, the man became silent.” The Promised Messiahas states: “The man who called me a Wahhabi was not wrong, because I, too, believe in adhering to the Sahih Hadith after the Holy Quran. Nevertheless, that Arab departed a few days later. Thereafter, I met him once again in Lahore. Despite being absolutely averse to even laying eyes on a Wahhabi in the past, because he was shown great hospitality, his old rage and hatred subsided, and he greeted me with kindness and love. He insisted that I accompany him to a small mosque where he was appointed as the imam. He seated me there and fanned me as a servant would. He was very welcoming and desired for me to have tea with him before departing. Thus, observe the potency of kindness to bring about a change of heart.”(Malfuzat, Vol. 9, p. 302, [1984 Edition])
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“Morals are of two kinds; firstly, there are morals described by those who have been educated in this modern era. They are apologetic and speak with adulation, yet their hearts are full of hypocrisy and malice. Such morals are opposed to the Holy Quran. The second kind of morals originate from true compassion and are free of hypocrisy and words of adulation, as God Almighty states:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ يَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَالۡاِحۡسَانِ وَاِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي
“This is a complete and perfect method, and every perfect method and guidance is contained in the Word of God. Those who turn away from this cannot find guidance elsewhere. A good teaching is impactful and purifies the heart; if you closely observe those who are far removed from such a teaching, you will surely find impurities within them. One can never be certain about life. Thus, you must progress in prayer, sincerity and purity.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 6, p. 200)
This is advice for us from the Promised Messiahas; to advance in our worship, honesty and purity.
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“I advise you repeatedly to never ever restrict the scope of your compassion. Furthermore, in order to exercise compassion correctly, follow this commandment of Allah the Almighty:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ يَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَالۡاِحۡسَانِ وَاِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي
“That is, be mindful of justice when exercising goodness. Show kindness in return to those who show you kindness. Thereafter, the second stage is to show even greater kindness than you are shown by others. This stage is known as ihsan [benevolence]. Although benevolence is a significant virtue and is above the stage of justice, it is possible that a benevolent one flaunts their act of benevolence. However, there is a stage above all in which a person exercises goodness purely out of love. At such a stage, there is no exhibition of benevolence, similar to how a mother raises her child. A mother does not expect a reward or recompense in return for her child’s upbringing, rather, a natural love for her child drives her to sacrifice all her peace and comfort and its sake.”
The Promised Messiahas continues:
“Even if a king were to command her to stop feeding her child, a mother would reproach the king. Thus, goodness should excel to a stage where it becomes natural. When a thing ceases to become artificial and becomes natural, it reaches a state of perfection.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 7, p. 382-383)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Allah the Almighty has ordained for you to exercise justice for the whole world. In other words, take what you deserve and treat humankind with justice. Above this, you are ordained to show kindness to humankind. That is, do not simply show kindness out of obligation, but also out of benevolence. Even at the stage of kindness, there lies a hidden fault, for a person who shows kindness may boast of their benevolence in a state of discontent. It is for this reason that at the end of this verse, it states that goodness at its perfection is when it resembles the kindness shown to a child by its mother. Such goodness originates from love that is inherent and is not motivated by any reward. A mother does not even consider that the child will return the favour of her benevolence. Thus, this is the third and perfect stage of goodness that can be shown to humankind, known as اِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي [i.e., giving like kindred].” (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, p. 388)
Thus, we are commanded not only to exercise goodness towards our own people, but towards humanity at large, without any expectation of reward. It is at this stage that one can find God Almighty, as has been mentioned in context with forming a relationship with Him. In his books and gatherings, the Promised Messiahas has put great emphasis on this. Out of the many qualities of Islam, the Promised Messiahas has imparted this teaching as one of its greatest features. It is our duty to act in accordance with these teachings in order to climb the ranks in our relationship with Allah the Almighty and so that we can fulfil the rights of humanity. May Allah the Almighty enable us to spend our lives in accordance with these teachings. May we raise the standards of our worship in an excellent manner and fulfil the rights of humanity. In particular, may we foster mutual love and compassion to the degree that we become an example for the rest of the world.
May Allah the Almighty enable us to act upon this, thereby enabling us to fulfil the rights of our pledge of allegiance. A condition of pledging allegiance to the Promised Messiahas is to show compassion to humanity. May every Friday serve as a reminder to us to progress in goodness and reform ourselves when we hear these words of Allah the Almighty. If not, we will have no distinction from others. May Allah the Almighty manifest a clear distinction between us and others, just as the Promised Messiahas has mentioned with great pain in one instance.
Continue to pray for the situation in Pakistan. In order to spread piety, we will continue in our efforts, and those who have an evil nature will continue in their injustices. We cannot reciprocate them in their evil ways. All we can do is adhere to the commandments of Allah the Almighty. Always pray that may Allah the Almighty safeguard our faith and never allow it to wane. May we establish a bond with Allah the Almighty like that of وَاِيۡتَآئِ ذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي [‘and giving like kindred’]. In such an instance, we will witness the blessings of Allah the Almighty even more than before, God-willing. And may Allah the Almighty destroy those who, in the sight of Allah the Almighty, are the enemies and are no longer able to be reformed. When we establish a bond with Allah the Almighty, then God-willing, we shall witness the destruction of the enemy.
(Official Urdu transcript published in the Daily Al Fazl International, 26 May 2023, pp. 2-7. Translated by The Review of Religions.)