Friday Sermon – Ramadan: Striving to achieve taqwa (15 March 2024)


Friday Sermon

15 March 2024

Ramadan: Striving to achieve taqwa

Mubarak Mosque

After reciting the tashahhudta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa recited verses 184-185 of Surah al-Baqarah and stated:

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil. The prescribed fasting is for a fixed number of days, but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty is an expiation— the feeding of a poor man. And whoso does good of his own accord it is better for him. And fasting is good for you, if you only knew.”

By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the month of Ramadan has commenced. The Holy Prophetsa has stated that this is the most magnificent month and one with immense blessings. (Sunan al-Nasa’i, Kitab as-sawm, Bab dhikri l-Ikhtilafi ‘ala mu‘ammari fih, Hadith 2108)

During this month, Allah the Almighty’s graciousness is ever more prevalent so that He can bestow favours upon His servants. Even during ordinary days, Allah the Almighty blesses His servants in ways one cannot imagine. During this month, He shackles Satan and makes special provisions for us to escape his clutches and one cannot express such an example. Whenever we advance towards Allah the Almighty, we find the doors to His favours opened wider than before. Hence, Allah the Almighty has appointed this month to shower us with His favours. Whatever slackness we have shown recently in the worship of Allah the Almighty, in offering voluntary prayers, in reciting and understanding the Holy Quran and in acting upon its teachings, He has made special provisions for us during this month in order to make up for these shortcomings, since a particular atmosphere is created during this month to fulfil obligatory and also voluntary acts of worship. As such, one ought to take advantage of this. There are arrangements for dars [religious lectures] in the mosques and similar arrangements are made on MTA as well. One should derive benefit from them, seek the nearness of Allah the Almighty and allow the impact of this atmosphere to become a permanent part of our lives so that we continuously receive the blessings and favours of Allah the Almighty.

Thus, Allah the Almighty says that whilst trying to take full advantage of this atmosphere, one should advance towards Him. The joy that Allah the Almighty receives from His servants who draw closer towards Him can be gauged by the following statement of the Holy Prophetsa: “Allah the Almighty is even more pleased when His servants turn to Him than the joy a mother feels upon finding her lost child.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-adab, Bab rahmati al-walad…, Hadith 5999; Kitab al-da‘wat, Bab at-tawbah, Hadith 6308)

That is to say that those who do not fulfil the rights due to Allah and those due to His creation, or do not fulfil them as they ought to and are negligent in fulfilling them, when they truly start fulfilling these rights, then there is no end to the happiness felt by Allah the Almighty. Furthermore, Allah the Almighty is that Being, Who blesses His servants to an immeasurable extent when He is pleased with them.

Hence, we will be extremely fortunate if we truly become the recipients of Allah the Almighty’s bounties, whilst deriving benefit from this atmosphere during Ramadan. In the verses I have recited, where Allah the Almighty has instructed us to follow His commandments whilst adopting righteousness, He has also mentioned certain commandments regarding fasting. Therefore, we are very fortunate that Allah the Almighty has granted us a book full of wisdom through the Holy Prophetsa so that we are able to attain His nearness and to become those who tread the paths of His closeness.

In the very first commandment of the verse, Allah has drawn our attention towards treading the path of humility and instructed us to adopt humbleness by saying that by fasting, you are not doing something exclusive; rather, fasting was also prescribed to those before you. Indeed, there are differences in their method of fasting, but fasting was prescribed for them nonetheless. The objective was to tread the path of righteousness, and so this is the very same purpose for you as well, so that you become righteous, i.e., refrain from all immoral things and adopt all that is good. You must safeguard yourselves from sin and vice, just like a soldier tries to protect himself behind a shield. Furthermore, the soldier who places the shield before him not only protects himself but is also able to attack the enemy. Hence, if you tread the path of righteousness, you will not only safeguard yourselves but also slay Satan by attacking him and all satanic thoughts. This is the way one can adopt righteousness and do justice to their fasting. Otherwise, the Holy Prophetsa has stated Allah the Almighty is in no need for you to go hungry. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab as-sawm, Bab mun lum yada‘ qawla az-zur, Hadith 1903) The real objective is to develop righteousness. If this is not the case, then the purpose of fasting is nullified.

Nowadays, for a large number of Muslims, the case is not even about going hungry, especially among the rich. They eat with great diligence at the time of sehri [eating before sunrise to start the fast] and iftari [breaking the fast at sunset]. Indeed, there are the poor who only find food for sehri and iftari with great difficulty, but even for them, it will only be acceptable in the sight of Allah to go hungry and thirsty when they also seek the paths of righteousness and strive to adorn their modes of worship.

I shall also mention here that, especially during Ramadan, the rich should be mindful of the poor people in their respective areas. They should not merely enjoy their iftar meals by inviting the rich, rather, they should organise iftar’s for the less well-off. Besides, I am not in favour of these grand and lavish iftar parties that take place. They have now become a form of pretentiousness and innovation. During Ramadan, greater attention should be given to reading, teaching, listening to, and reciting the Holy Quran. Greater attention should be given to the remembrance of Allah. Greater attention should be given to worship. However, what actually happens in place of this is that people of different professions come from their jobs and occupy themselves with eating at iftar gatherings. And as for those who give out the iftari invitations, instead of giving attention to reading the Quran, hadith, the remembrance of Allah and worship, they remain engaged in efforts to make the best arrangements, to have everything for iftar, and in making the best iftar meals, in order for them to be praised for making such excellent iftar arrangement. Hence, all these things are not the purpose of Ramadan, and they only take one away from righteousness.

Therefore, in order to benefit from a shield, one must utilise it in the correct manner. Otherwise, how will they protect themselves if Satan attacks them from the front,  rear, right and left? On top of this, Satan can severely wound a person and leave them in an injured state. Hence, we must strive to do justice to the fasting of Ramadan and to attain righteousness, which is the true objective. For the sake of Allah, if we abstain from those things which are otherwise lawful, then surely Allah the Almighty will look upon us with His mercy and will put our Satan in chains. We shall continue to cross the vast field of virtues without any kind of obstacle, and by the grace of Allah, the fort of worship and remembrance of God shall continue to shield us from satanic onslaughts. One should not consider Satan to be something insignificant. He issued a great challenge that the majority of Allah’s servants would fall prey to his deception and follow him. Therefore, we must contest this challenge during Ramadan and then strive forever to combat Satan with the weapons of worship and acting upon the Quranic injunctions.

With regards to the essence of fasting, the Promised Messiahas stated on one occasion:

“People are unaware of the essence of fasting. The truth of the matter is, how can one explain the condition of a country they have not travelled to, or a world they are heedless of? Fasting is not merely that a person remains hungry and thirsty; rather, there is a realisation and change that is only gained by experiencing fasting. It is within human nature that the less one eats, the more one’s soul is purified and their ability to see visions increases.” However, it is unfortunate that nowadays, fasting is just the name of lavishly eating and drinking. Nonetheless, the Promised Messiahas further states:

“From fasting, God Almighty desires that you lessen one type of nourishment and increase the other. The person who fasts should always keep in mind that he is not meant to simply remain hungry, rather he should remain busy in the remembrance of Allah, so that one attains tabattul and inqita‘, (i.e., becoming immersed in God Almighty and detached from worldly allures.) Thus, to fast means that you must leave the food which nourishes your body and acquire the food that grants your soul peace, and satiates it. And those who fast only for the sake of God Almighty, rather than out of a mere custom, should remain occupied in the praise of God, glorifying Him, and recitation of the Islamic creed [there is no God but Allah], so that they attain the other form of nourishment [for the soul].” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 122-123)

Thus, alongside reciting and understanding the Holy Quran in Ramadan, worship and remembrance of Allah is also vital. The heart ought to remain occupied in the praise of Allah the Almighty. You should glorify Allah; and for this, the Promised Messiahas has told us about a prayer, that was revealed to him, that is:

سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ ، سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ الْعَظِيْمِ، اللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَّآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ

[Holy is Allah and worthy of all praise, holy is Allah the Great; O Allah, bestow Your blessings on Muhammadsa and the people of Muhammadsa.] (Tiryaq-ul-Qulub, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 15, p. 208)

This is a very important prayer. For the acceptance of prayer, it is important to supplicate by sending salutations upon the Holy Prophetsa. This is the command of Allah the Almighty. Similarly, there is Tahlil, which is to proclaim the Oneness of Allah the Almighty. This is also vital.

So, these are the means which help increase righteousness, and are also important for the acceptance of prayer. Thus, we should pay special attention to these matters.

Allah the Almighty instructs us to adopt the path of righteousness countless times in the Holy Quran. To attain any good deed, the condition for it is righteousness. Thus, it is necessary to pay special attention to this. In nearly every gathering and on various occasions, the Promised Messiahas reminded us of this. There is a poetic verse [hemistich] written by the Promised Messiahas:

“The root of every good is righteousness.”

Allah the Almighty revealed the next line to him:

“If this root is preserved, everything will survive.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 4, p. 48)

Thus, it is only righteousness that Allah the Almighty loves. It is only righteousness which leads you to every good deed. It is only righteousness which frees you from the impurity of the world. It is only righteousness through which every kind of need, whether it is physical or spiritual, is fulfilled. Thus, the acquisition of righteousness should be the foremost duty of a believer. As I have said, in various places, the Promised Messiahas has spoken about the topic of righteousness in different ways. I will present some of his sayings in this regard.

The Promised Messiahas states:

“The Holy Quran has stated right at the beginning:

ہُدًي لِّلۡمُتَّقِيۡنَ

“[‘It is a guidance for the righteous.’ (Ch. 2: V.3)]

“Thus, to understand the Holy Quran, and to attain guidance in accordance with it, righteousness is necessary.

“Similarly, in another place it states:

لَّا يَمَسُّہٗۤ اِلَّا الۡمُطَہَّرُوۡنَ

“[None can touch it except those who are pure.’ (Ch. 56: V. 80)]

“This stipulation is not for attaining other disciplines; such as mathematics, engineering, astronomy, and other subjects. There is no condition that the student of these subjects should be righteous or one who abstains from evil; rather, even if they are evil and wicked, they can learn it.”

In reality, nowadays, these types of people are very successful in these fields.

The Promised Messiahas continues, “But in the study of faith, those people who adhere purely to dry logic and philosophy cannot progress, and those verities and understandings cannot be opened to those whose hearts are polluted and do not possess any semblance of righteousness. Despite this, if they say that the knowledge of faith and spiritual verities is uttered from their tongue, they forge a lie. Verily, they do not receive a portion of the verities and understanding of faith; rather, to acquire the subtleties and deeper wisdom of faith, righteousness is a prerequisite, just as is explained in the following Persian couplet:

عَروس حضرتِ قرآں نَقَاب آنکہ بَردَارَد

کہ دَارُ الملک معنے را کُنَد خَاليِ زِہرَ غَوغا

“‘The Quran raises its veil as if a bride, only when the realm of (one’s) inner self is purged of all noise and clamour.’”

The Promised Messiahas further states, “Until this is not borne in mind, and the seat of governance is not empty” – meaning, until the realms of your heart are cleansed of all worldly filth. If they are not free of this filth, then there is no point.

The Promised Messiahas further states, “What is the meaning of ‘clamour’?” (What is meant by noise and commotion?) “It is evil and wickedness–” all this clamour is simply evil and wickedness. “It is love for the world. Indeed, it is a separate point that if they say something, they will do so like thieves,” Meaning if such a person ever manages to say something good, then they are words that he has stolen from other people and are not his own words. “But those who speak with the Holy Spirit, do not speak except without righteousness. Always remember that righteousness is the key to unlocking all religious knowledge. A person cannot learn it except through righteousness. Just as Allah the Almighty states:

الٓـمّٓ ذٰلِکَ الۡکِتٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَ ۚۖۛ فِيۡہِ ۚۛ ہُدًي لِّلۡمُتَّقِيۡنَ

“[I am Allah, the All-Knowing. This is a perfect book, there is no doubt in it. It is a guidance for the righteous.’ (Ch.2: V.2-3]

“This book provides guidance to those who are righteous, and who are such people?

الَّذِيۡنَ يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِالۡغَيۡبِ 

“‘Those who believe in the unseen.’ (Ch. 2: V. 4)

“In other words, they are unable to see God Almighty, yet they still believe in Him; they believe that God exists even without experiencing Him thus far. Furthermore, they are those who establish prayer. That is to say, they have not yet achieved true delight and pleasure in prayer, however, they continue to sustain their prayers devoid of any pleasure, delight and are distracted. Moreover, they spend out of which He has provided them, and they believe in that which was revealed before [i.e., Prophet Muhammadsa] and what was revealed to him.”

The Promised Messiahas continues, “These are the initial stages and attributes of a righteous person; these are characteristics of faith [in its juvenile stages].” To believe in the unseen and establish prayer are among the initial stages of faith. The Promised Messiahas continues, “Here, people raise an allegation: if there are those who believe in God, offer prayers, spend [in the cause of God], and also believe in the revealed books of God, then what further guidance is required? If they are already observing such acts of goodness, what do they need to improve on? This is obtaining what was already present.” (I.e., they gain what they already have achieved.)

The Promised Messiahas states, “The answer to this query is that the aforementioned words and passages have not communicated the highest level of conduct and perfect cognisance that humans can achieve. (Although these passages and the commandments of Allah the Almighty therein are true, however, this is not the ultimate outcome and final objective.) On the contrary, to believe in Allah the Almighty and the unseen; to observe prayer; to re-establish prayer when it falters; to spend a little [in the cause of God]; these are all basic tenets to steer us toward virtue.” The Promised Messiahas continues, “If the pinnacle of this guidance was يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِالۡغَيۡبِ  [i.e., to believe in the unseen], then what is the definition of true cognisance? (If believing in the unseen is all it takes to be guided, then what is true cognisance of God? How do we truly recognise Allah the Almighty?) Thus, those who abide by the guidance found in the Holy Quran will achieve the highest ranks of cognisance. (If you aspire to attain true cognisance, study the guidance in the Holy Quran and act upon it. As a result, you will attain true cognisance.) A person will transcend believing in the unseen and progress towards first-hand experience. Then, regarding the existence of God, they will reach the stage of ‘ain al-yaqin [Certainty of sight].”

Only if one carries out deeds will they reach the stage of Certainty of Sight. Thus, in order to progress from: يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِالۡغَيۡبِ  [belief in the unseen], one must abide by the commandments of the Holy Quran. People often wonder why it is necessary to believe in the unseen. The question of ‘why’ is raised frequently by youth and children. Why should we believe in something we are unaware of? Allah the Almighty states that believing in the unseen is faith in its juvenile state. After you have established your faith in this book given to you, it is incumbent to follow its commandments, which will enable you to truly recognise Allah the Almighty. As a result, you will progress from [believing in] the unseen to first-hand experience. One will not only be left to believe in the unseen; rather, he will truly witness Who God is. This is also a law of the material world; scientists and researchers also accept that before their experiments, they form a hypothesis, which becomes the foundation of their research. Whether the hypothesis is confirmed or not, yet it is still used as a basis for something plausible and further research. Similarly, Allah the Almighty says that you should premise your efforts to ponder over and abide by the commandments of the Holy Quran with belief in the unseen, and then you will witness [God]. Scientists only conduct research as a personal endeavour, and after attaining this, they inform the general public. However, in this case, once you form a hypothesis and follow it up with research, every person can derive benefit. This is the splendour of Islam. This is what it means to believe in the unseen.

Similarly, with respect to prayer, the Promised Messiahas states, “The initial stages of prayer are those which have been mentioned [in the above verses], which is to ‘establish prayer’. It is as though your state of prayer falters. For prayer to fall or falter means to be devoid of pleasure and satisfaction, or to offer prayer in a state of absentmindedness. For this reason, one does not run towards such a prayer with the same passion, absorption, and restlessness that one would run towards food and water in a state of hunger and thirst. However, after having found guidance, one does not remain in the same state. Rather, one begins to experience pleasure in prayer. The distracted and absent mind will be replaced with satisfaction and pleasure.”

The Promised Messiahas further states, “A person once lost something and said: ‘Wait a minute, bring the prayer mat. I will recall where it is while I am occupied in prayer’. Such a prayer, in which Satan causes distractions, cannot be offered by those who have reached their pinnacle.”

In other words, when this person lost something and could not remember where he put it, he thought to pray because his thoughts wandered while occupied in prayer, and as a result, he may remember where he put it. Such a prayer cannot be of those who have reached their pinnacle stage, these are satanic thoughts. “Because after having reached their pinnacle, these people always remain in a state of prayer. They constantly remember Allah the Almighty. Even thousands of rupees in profits cannot become a distraction. They will partake in their secular work, however, they will always be fearful and mindful of God Almighty.”

The Promised Messiahas further states, “Similarly, all other stages should not be reduced to mere verbal claims, but should translate to first-hand experiences; they should evolve from a state of being unseen to testimonial accounts. (These ranks that I have mentioned are not only meant to be shared verbally, like stories.) “Which are being told to you to momentarily please you. Not at all. This, in fact, is a treasure which you needn’t abandon. Instead, unearth it. It is already [hidden] in your own home, and with a little effort and struggle, you can attain it.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 151-154)

Thus, today, it is our responsibility to take advantage of this atmosphere, make every effort, and strive to unearth this treasure so that we, too, can attain Allah the Almighty’s nearness.

The Promised Messiahas then states, “Remember, your prayers will not be accepted until you become righteous and demonstrate righteousness. Righteousness is of two kinds: the first pertains to knowledge, and the second pertains to deeds. With respect to our knowledge, it has been explained that one cannot attain religious knowledge, truths and verities until one adopts righteousness. Secondly, regarding our deeds, prayer, fasting and other acts of worship remain incomplete until one becomes righteous. Remember this well; God Almighty has two kinds of commandments: firstly, you must not associate partners with Him, neither in His being, nor in His attributes, and nor in your worship of Him. Secondly, you must be compassionate towards humankind. Fulfil the rights of Allah and those of fellow man.”  (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, p. 164)

The Promised Messiahas continues, “Allah the Almighty says:

وَمَنۡ يَّتَّقِ اللّٰہَ يَجۡعَلۡ لَّہٗ مَخۡرَجًا وَّيَرۡزُقۡہُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُ

“[‘And he who fears Allah – He will make for him a way out, and will provide for him from where he expects not.’] Righteousness is such that when one attains it, it is as if one attains the bounties of the entire world. By adopting righteousness, Allah the Almighty will create such means and will provide from such places that one could never have thought of.”

The Promised Messiahas continues, “Remember, a righteous person is never in need of others, rather, he reaches a standard whereby God grants whatever he desires even before his asking. Allah the Almighty has promised that He also provides worldly provisions to the righteous.” The Promised Messiahas states, “Once in a vision, I saw God Almighty personified as a human being. He put His arm around my neck and said:

جے توں ميرا ہو رہيں سب جگ تيرا ہو

“‘If you will be devoted to Me, the whole world will be yours.’”

The Promised Messiahas continues, “This is the same formula which all the prophets, saints and pious people have all tested; you should try it as well.” The Promised Messiahas says, “[…] Our Jamaat should tread upon the paths of righteousness, and should not become unnecessarily pleased with the destruction of the enemy. In the Torah, it is recorded that Allah the Almighty said about the enemy of the Children of Israel that ‘I destroyed them because of their evil, not because you are righteous’ (It was not on account of your virtue that they were destroyed but it was because of their own wrongdoings that they were destroyed.) Therefore, strive to be virtuous.” The Promised Messiahas continues:

“One of my couplets is:

ہر اِک نیکی کی جڑ يہ اِتِّقا ہے

’اگر يہ جڑ رہی سب کچھ رہا ہے‘

“‘The root of every good is righteousness; if this root is preserved, everything will survive.’

He then states, “[…] Righteousness is an antidote; one who uses it is saved from every type of poison. However, it must be complete righteousness. To act in accordance with only a single branch of righteousness is akin to eating a single grain when one is hungry. Clearly eating it and not eating it would be one in the same. Similarly, thirst cannot be quenched by a single drop. The same applies to righteousness; implementing only a branch of righteousness cannot become the cause for satisfaction. Hence, righteousness is defined by:

اِنَّ اللّٰہَ مَعَ الَّذِيۡنَ اتَّقَوۡا

“[‘Verily Allah is with those who are righteous’] Allah’s support indicates whether one is righteous.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 260-262)

In other words, if one is truly righteous, then God Almighty expresses it Himself through the bestowal of His favours and those favours also become manifest.

Hence, this is the righteousness that we must strive to achieve. Then, the Promised Messiahas says:

“This has been repeatedly stated (the same concepts are being mentioned over and over), however, it is because people have become heedless. On the one hand, people listen to advice and guidance and develop a zeal to adopt righteousness, but then again they become heedless. This is why our Jamaat should remember very well that they must never forget Allah the Almighty under any circumstances. They should always seek help from Him. Without Him, man is nothing. Remember well that He can end you in an instant. There are all kinds of pain and difficulties; we are in no position to be without worry or fear. Hell can exist in this world as well, and there can be great calamities. Remember this well.”

These days, there are talks of an atomic war, which would also create a sort of hell. Other bombs are also balls of fire, as it were. The Promised Messiahas continues, “You should remember well that no one can help another in times of difficulty nor can another show sympathy until God Himself lends a helping hand and through His grace removes the difficulty Himself. For this reason, everyone should have a hidden connection with God Almighty. A person who becomes bold in sin, indecency, and disobedience finds themselves in a dangerous state. God Almighty’s wrath lies in wait for them. If you constantly desire the mercy of Allah, the Generous, then you must adopt righteousness and abandon all those things which incur the displeasure of God Almighty. Until one develops the fear of God, (this is a very important point, as the Promised Messiahas states), one cannot develop true righteousness. Strive to become righteous. When the ruin begins of those who do not adopt righteousness, only those who do adopt righteousness are saved. At such times, people’s disobedience destroys them and people’s righteousness saves them. If one wishes to be saved by depending on their cunning, mischief, and treachery, then they cannot be saved. No one can protect their own life, wealth, or progeny, nor can they achieve any other success without the grace of Allah the Almighty. You must certainly establish a hidden connection with God Almighty.”

This hidden connection can be established through worship, the remembrance of God, and by acting according to the commandments of God.” The Promised Messiahas further states:

“You must certainly establish a hidden connection with God and then you should protect that connection. (It should remain constant.) A wise person is one who safeguards this connection; one who does not safeguard this connection is foolish. One who takes pride in his own cunningness will be ruined and will never achieve his objectives or become successful. Observe the earth and the heavens and all that can be seen within; could this vast world have been created by any other than the hidden hand of God Almighty? Absolutely not! Remember one who fears in a time of peace is saved in times of fear and it is nothing extraordinary for one to become scared at times of fear. Even disbelievers, polytheists, and atheists show fear at such times. It was on such an occasion that the Pharaoh fearfully said, اٰمَنَتۡ بِہٖ بَنُوۡۤا اِسۡرَآءِيۡلَ وَاَنَا مِنَ الۡمُسۡلِمِيۡنَ ‘I believe that there is no God but He in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who submit to Him.’” The Promised Messiahas continues, “The only benefit Pharaoh received was that God Almighty said that he would preserve his body but not his life. Ultimately, God Almighty placed his body to one side. He was a man of short stature. Thus, when one increases towards sin and disobedience, then it becomes a case of لَا يَسۡتَاۡخِرُوۡنَ سَاعَةً وَّلَا يَسۡتَقۡدِمُوۡنَ meaning ‘they cannot remain behind a single moment, nor can they get ahead of it.’ Hence when death comes, it cannot be halted or delayed. One should strive to have a connection with Allah the Almighty from before.”  (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 369-370)

Hence, those among us will be counted among the fortunate ones who truly derive benefit from this month of Ramadan in order to increase their level of righteousness and to raise it to a level that Allah wishes to see in us.

The next verse is in relation to fasting, wherein Allah the Almighty has mentioned some fundamental commandments. It states that despite the fact Allah the Almighty has prescribed fasting for a fixed number of days, He has created ease for His servants, thus those who are sick or on a journey should not unnecessarily burden themselves and complete the prescribed fasts upon recovering or completing their journey. Thus, one has to fulfil the prescribed injunction but also not to place unnecessary burden upon themselves. Allah the Almighty has taken into account health factors and exceptional circumstances that can occur. Allah the Almighty shows regard for one’s righteousness since one abstains from what is lawful purely for the sake of God Almighty and so He grants ease at a time when one is in a state of difficulty. Therefore, those who claim that God Almighty has placed great burden upon them as He has given such commandments which are difficult to fulfil, they should know that there is, in fact, no commandment of Allah the Almighty which is too difficult to fulfil and there is ease granted with each one of them. [Or they claim] religion has placed a great burden on them or the atheists and those who oppose religion seek to create ill thoughts amongst religious people by alleging that they are trapped in restrictions and that it violates their human rights. There is a reply to such people in this verse as well in that although fasting is mandatory and fasting enables one to attain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty, but despite this, Allah the Almighty has taken into account the natural needs and requirements of man and grants ease. And so, one can complete their fasts through the course of the year and those who possess the means should also give fidya [charity] in addition to [completing the fixed number of fasts] as an expiation for their missed fasts. This fidya is not incumbent upon everyone, but only those who have the means to do this and thereby they will earn a two-fold reward and it would be counted as an additional good deed. This is the manner in which Allah the Almighty grants His favours. Moreover, those mothers who are breastfeeding or those who have long-term illnesses, they have been instructed to pay fidya in accordance with their respective means. This is because Allah the Almighty is the Knower of the unseen and is aware of the intentions of the people. That is why He has stated that their fidya is an expiation for fasting, provided they are giving it with pure intentions. Fidya is a means of helping the poor and once again, the reward for fulfilling the rights of God’s creation has been stated as the same as the act of worship itself. The poor are the ones who benefit from the fidya, yet the reward for this is the same as the reward for worship. This is the God of Islam, Who is nothing but Merciful and despite this if one fails to attain His mercy, then he is most unfortunate.

Further elaborating on this subject, the Promised Messiahas states:

“On one occasion, a thought crossed my mind as to why Fidya has been prescribed, I discovered that it was ordained so one is granted the ability to fast. It is Allah the Almighty alone Who can grant one the ability and everything ought to be sought from God Almighty. God is Omnipotent, if He so desires, He can grant even the one suffering from Tuberculosis the ability to fast. Thus, the purpose of fidya is to be granted the strength and ability [to fast] and this can only occur with the grace of God. In my opinion, it is excellent that a person should pray: ‘My Lord, You have decreed this holy month, and I am deprived of it. Who knows whether I will live to see next year, whether I will be able to make up the fasts that have been missed or not.’ Subsequently, a person should seek the ability [to fast] from Him. I am convinced that God Almighty will grant such a heart the power [to fast].” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 258-259)

Thus, one should try their utmost to fast and give fidya with the intention that may Allah the Almighty accept it and also give one the ability to fast. Nonetheless, where Allah the Almighty has outlined exemptions, it is essential to act according to them. This is true righteousness. True righteousness is when one obeys the command of God Almighty. Further elaborating upon this point, on one occasion, the Promised Messiahas states:

“In reality, acting on the exemptions God Almighty has stipulated in the Holy Quran is righteousness. Allah the Almighty has exempted those who are travelling or who are unwell that they can fast on other days. Therefore, one ought to act in accordance with this injunction. I have read that many noble saints have gone to the extent of saying that if a person fasts while on a journey or when they are unwell, then this is a sin, because the real purpose is to attain the pleasure of Allah rather than for one to do as they please. It is through obedience that one can attain the pleasure of Allah, i.e., to obey an order given by Him as opposed to making one’s own interpretations.”

One should not make their own inferences, just like the scholars of today, who do so out of arrogance of their knowledge. And these days, through the platform given to them by social media, they are issuing jurisprudential decrees which are completely absurd and bizarre.

Nonetheless, the Promised Messiahas states:

“Allah the Almighty has commanded:

مَنۡ کَانَ مِنۡکُمۡ مَّرِيۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰي سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنۡ اَيَّامٍ اُخَرَ 

[‘But whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days.’]

“And there is no specific qualification that the travel or sickness should be to such and such degree or extent.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, pp. 72-73)

The Promised Messiahas further states, “A person who fasts in the month of Ramadan while in a state of sickness or travel, disobeys a clear commandment of God. God Almighty has clearly articulated that one who is sick or on a journey should not fast. Rather. He should make up the missed fasts once he has recovered, or has returned from his journey. One should carry out this divine commandment, for true salvation, lies in obedience to divine will and not forcefully acting on one’s own will […]. If a traveller or a sick person still chooses to fast, they will fall under the category of disobedience.”  (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 9, p. 431)

Once, a person asked the Holy Prophetsa about fasting and the obligatory prayers whilst travelling. The Messengersa of Allah replied, “ if you are travelling during the month of Ramadan, do not fast in those days.” The man replied, “O Messengersa of Allah, I have the strength to fast [even while travelling].” The Messengersa of Allah replied, “Are you stronger or is Allah? Verily, Allah the Almighty has granted those in the ummah who are travelling or are unwell in this month leave from fasting as a concession. Would any of you like that when you give a gift to someone it is returned to you?” (Kanz al-‘Ummal, Vol. 8, p. 611, Hadith 24384, Mu’assisah al-Risalah, Beirut, 1985)

Thus, righteousness lies in the fact that we act upon the commandments of God, to carry out a virtue at the time it has been prescribed, and to abstain from that when He prohibits it.

May Allah the Almighty enable us to go through Ramadan whilst attaining His pleasure and treading upon the paths of righteousness. May He enable us to elevate our standards of righteousness. May we not search for excuses not to fast and may we not impose undue difficulties upon ourselves. May we always act according to the beautiful teachings of Islam. This Ramadan, may we attain the countless blessings of Allah the Almighty, May every day be full of blessings and mercy. May we truly benefit from Ramadan. May this Ramadan be a means for us to draw as close as possible to God. May we be granted the ability to offer prayers that are granted acceptance.

Ahmadis around the world should also pray for the continued success of the Jamaat and for all difficulties to be removed. May Allah the Almighty protect us from all [unjust] governments and the evil of every person. Pray for the release of those who have been [unlawfully] imprisoned. Some of them are facing great hardships. Also pray, that we may hold fast to Allah the Almighty in a way whereby no error on our part severs our tie with Him and may the shower of His blessings always rain down upon us.

Pray for the Muslim world; may Allah grant them wisdom and understanding, and may they accept the Promised Messiah and Mahdias.

Also, pray to be safeguarded from the ill effects of war. Pray for those Muslim nations where innocent people are being tormented by injustices due to the wars being fought for the sake of gaining power. May Allah have mercy on them and save them from such oppressors. 

Also, pray for the general state of the world; may Allah save us from war and its dangerous effects. In the case of a war, Ahmadis would also be impacted – may Allah protect them. One way of safeguarding against this is for every Ahmadi to raise the standard of their righteousness. This is what the Promised Messiahas has stated. May Allah the Almighty enable everyone to do so. 

In the UK, it seems that attempts are being made to create difficulties for Muslims. New laws are being proposed to counter extremism; however, commentators generally think that this change in the law targets Muslims. Allah knows best the intentions behind this; however, we should pray that Allah the Almighty protects us and other Muslims living here from the ill effects of this.

(Official Urdu transcript published in the Daily Al Fazl International, 5 April 2024, pp. 2-7. Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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