29 April 2022
Ramadan: Training for the believer
After reciting the tashahhud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:
The month of Ramadan arrived and passed, showering its blessings on all those who tried to seek its bounties. Now, only two days remain and in some places there may be three days left; nevertheless, the month of Ramadan is coming to an end. A wise and true believer always remembers – and it is pertinent to bear in mind – that as the month of Ramadan is coming to a close, we are not free from many of our responsibilities and obligations. As a matter of fact, the month of Ramadan came in order to teach us how to truly fulfil these responsibilities and obligations. Ramadan taught us how we can remain persistent in fulfilling these responsibilities; it came in order to highlight the stages of progress and having taught us this lesson Ramadan is now coming to an end.
Even though the month of the obligatory fasts is coming to an end, the time to elevate the standard of our other obligations and striving to excel in them is now upon us. After the month of Ramadan, if we forget this reality of how one should maintain the [high] standards of our responsibilities and obligations, then we have not observed the month of Ramadan in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Prophetsa.
In a hadith, it is mentioned that the Holy Prophetsa said:
“All five prayers, one Friday prayer to the following Friday and one Ramadan to the next Ramadan become the means of atoning for the sins that are committed between those periods, with the condition that one abstains from committing grievous sins.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Taharah, Hadith 556)
It should be clarified here that if a person does not identify less grievous sins and mistakes they commit, and does not try to refrain from them, nor seeks forgiveness after committing such deeds, then they transform into more grievous sins.
Hence, what is meant here is that a person should always remain fearful of Allah and seek forgiveness from Him so that one can refrain from these ill deeds. Therefore, if we do not spend the months between one Ramadan to the next Ramadan performing virtues, fulfilling our responsibilities and fulfilling our due rights to worship and people, then we have not derived full benefit from Ramadan. We are fortunate that the Promised Messiahas has guided us clearly in every matter. He constantly advised us to fulfil our responsibilities towards worship as well as to fulfil our rights owed to mankind. He has presented us with a guide of how to live our lives. If we make this code of conduct a part of our lives and try to live accordingly, then we will most certainly tread on the paths which allow us to increase and progress in our virtues; those paths which connect one Ramadan to the next, which enable us to refrain from committing sins in between this period and enable us to be forgiven.
In this era, it is this very Ardent Devotee of the Holy Prophetsa who repeatedly exhorts us to live our lives in accordance with the true teachings of Islam and who clearly expresses that if we wish to be permanent recipients of the blessings of Allah the Almighty, then we must follow these teachings.
As such, I will now present some of the guidance imparted to us by the Promised Messiahas. During the month of Ramadan, we are inclined towards worship and we make a concerted effort to offer our obligatory prayers as well as voluntary prayers. However, the obligation to offer prayers is not restricted to a certain month, or a certain time; rather, it is necessary to offer the five daily prayers at their appointed time and throughout all 12 months of the year. The Holy Prophetsa has repeatedly reminded the believers towards this. On one occasion, the Holy Prophetsa said, “Abandoning prayer pushes a person closer towards disbelief and idolatry.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ul-Iman, Hadith 247)
Furthermore, the Holy Prophetsa said, “On the Day of Judgment, the first thing that people will be questioned about is prayer. If this is in order, then that person has succeeded and will attain salvation.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Abwab al-Salat, Hadith 413)
This is the significance of the [obligatory] prayer. It is not limited to a certain month; rather, our attention has been drawn towards offering the five daily prayers throughout.
The Promised Messiahas has repeatedly advised us and drawn our attention towards the importance of prayers. He has clearly stated what prayer is, how it is to be offered and how we can derive pleasure in prayer. Moreover, we should make efforts to experience this enjoyment [in prayers] and they should be such that increase our love for Allah the Almighty. It should not be the case that when we are in need and face a worldly problem, we lay the prayer mat or go to the mosque and weep and supplicate for a few moments; then when the difficulty is resolved, we become neglectful [of our prayers] or that we only focus on our prayers in Ramadan and then abandon them afterwards, or do not give the same level of attention as one ought to. If this is the case, then as it has been mentioned in the hadith I presented earlier, neither our formal prayers, nor the Friday prayers or our fasts will serve as a means of having our sins forgiven.
Elaborating on what prayer is, the Promised Messiahas states:
“It is a special form of supplication to the Divine, but people consider it to be a tax that is due to kings.” They offer prayer out of compulsion. “These foolish people do not even know that God Almighty has no need for such things. What need does His Independent Being have for man to pray to Him, extol His glory and praise Him, besought of all as He is? In fact, it is man who derives benefit and reaches his objective through these means. It gives me great pain to observe that in this day and age, there is no love for worship, virtue and piety.” These are matters of love so these obligations should be performed in the correct manner. “The reason for this is the poisonous, widespread effect of evil custom. It is for this reason that the love of Allah the Almighty is falling cold.” People are increasingly falling into evil customs, “and people do not experience the pleasure they ought to in worship. There is nothing in the world which according to the design of Allah Almighty does not give pleasure or satisfaction in some form. A person who is ill cannot derive pleasure from even the most exquisite and delicious food, and considers it to be bitter or completely tasteless.”
After taking medicine or due to the illness, one’s mouth loses its sense of taste and cannot taste the flavour of anything. A sick person would refuse to eat anything or start criticising the food.
The Promised Messiahas continues:
“So too is the case with those people who derive no pleasure and delight from the worship of God.” They are also like the sick. “Such people should worry about their ill state. For as I have just said, there is nothing on earth, which Allah the Almighty has not instilled with the characteristic of granting pleasure in some form or other. Allah the Almighty has created man so that he may worship Him. Why then would there be no pleasure and delight in this worship? There is definitely pleasure and delight in worship. If only there were those who would take it. Allah the Almighty states:
وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ الۡجِنَّ وَالۡاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُوۡنِ
“[‘And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.’ (Ch.51: V.57)]
“Now when the very purpose of man’s creation is worship, it is necessary for there to be immense pleasure and satisfaction in worship.” Such an extent must have been placed in it, for which [man] is created.
“We can appreciate this very well from our daily observation and experience. For example, grain along with all the things that we eat and drink have been created for humans.” All forms of nourishment have been created for man. “Do they not then derive a pleasure and satisfaction from these things? Does man not possess a tongue so that he can experience the taste, flavour and sensation that is associated with these things? Does man not derive pleasure from looking at beautiful things, whether plants or minerals, animals or other human beings? Do the ears not derive pleasure from beautiful and melodious voices? Then is any further argument required to establish the fact that if there is pleasure in everything”, and one derives pleasure from these things, “then why would there not be pleasure in worship?”
Everything has a certain pleasure which a person derives. Thus, why would there be no pleasure in prayer?
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“In the same manner, bear well in mind that worship is no burden or tax. This too possesses a pleasure and satisfaction; and this pleasure and satisfaction is far greater than all the delights of this world and all carnal pleasures.”
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“Moreover, just as an ill person remains deprived of the pleasure of even the finest and most exquisite foods, so too is precisely the case with the unfortunate person who does not find pleasure in worshipping Allah.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1 [English edition], pp. 156-157)
Their case is like that of the sick, and they should be concerned about it and find a cure.
Hence, one must ponder over this point, as to how they are to strive to derive pleasure. How can one derive any pleasure from that which one has no knowledge or understanding about? How can one who has lost all their senses and faculties benefit from the pleasure of any blessing or feel its satisfaction? If man falls prey to materialism they have no concern for such matters and thus becomes like the sick. The solution to this has also been given by the Promised Messiahas. He states:
“I observe that people are negligent and indolent in observing their Prayers because they are oblivious to the pleasure and satisfaction that Allah the Exalted has invested in prayer.” The fact that they are oblivious is a significant cause in this respect. “Then, there is even greater negligence and indolence in cities and towns. Even fifty percent of the people do not eagerly bow their heads before their true Master with sincere love. The question that arises is: why do they not bow or worship? People do not know of this pleasure, nor have they ever experienced this delight? Other religions do not prescribe such injunctions.
“At times, it so happens that people are busy in their engagements and the call for prayer is made.” People do not wish to hear the call to prayer and say they are preoccupied in their work and ask what is the need to place them in this difficulty. “It is as if their hearts begin to throb with pain.” They are pained upon hearing the call to prayer. Sometimes people also say to others, out of ostentation, that they must go to pray or close their shops. “Such people are worthy of pity.
“There are certain people here as well whose shops are situated adjacent to mosques, but they never join in the prayer” in the mosque. “All I wish to say is that one ought to fervently and passionately pray to God Almighty that just as He has granted us diverse forms of pleasure in fruits and other things, may He enable us to experience, even once, the sweet taste of prayer and worship.”
This prayer should also be offered, for Allah to enable one to experience the delight in prayer, and only then will one experience this pleasure. When one experiences this pleasure, they will understand the delight of prayer and will be mindful of it.
“Observe, if an individual looks at someone beautiful with delight, they remember it well. Further, if a person sees an ugly and hideous figure, the entire state of such a figure comes forth as an embodiment in the mind of the observer […]. Of course, if a person is indifferent and sees the figure in passing, then one remembers nothing. Similarly, in the estimation of those who do not pray, the prayer is like a penalty, whereby one is unjustly forced to wake up in the morning when it is cold and leave their precious sleep to perform ablution, and compelled to forsake many comforts in order to offer it. The actual fact is that such a one is averse and therefore is unable to understand; they are oblivious of the pleasure and satisfaction that is present in prayer.”
Such a person is a Muslim and a believer by name; however, there is an aversion in their heart and they cannot understand it, as compared to prayer, they think there is more pleasure in sleeping or other things.
The Promised Messiahas says:
“They are completely oblivious. How then can they experience pleasure in prayer? I observe that when a drunkard or one who suffers from addiction is unable to find satisfaction, they continue to drink glass after glass, until they are finally inebriated. A wise and prudent individual can benefit from this example,” how can they derive benefit from the example of a drunkard, if a person is a sincere believer, “they must remain persistent in prayer and continue observing it until they begin to experience pleasure. Just as a drunkard conceives of a pleasure in his mind, which is the actual objective he pursues, in the same way, the mind and all of one’s faculties must feel a propensity towards the acquisition of that very pleasure that exists in prayer.” One ought to pray and strive for this. “Then, with sincerity and passion, at least to the extent that an addict suffers from anxiety, restlessness and pain, an individual ought to pray.” Their heart ought to incline to prayer, as has been mentioned before they ought to pray to Allah the Almighty to grant them that satisfaction and delight. “I say truthfully that surely and most definitely they will experience the pleasure of Prayer.” If they offer heartfelt prayers, then they will derive this pleasure.
“Then, in the observance of prayer, one ought to strive to seek the benefits that are associated with it and keep in view the concept of goodness, or ihsan.
اِنَّ الۡحَسَنٰتِ يُذۡهِبۡنَ السَّيِّاٰتِ
That is to say, ‘Good works drive away evil.’ (Ch.11: V.115)
Therefore, whilst aspiring to goodness and striving to attain the pleasures in prayer, one ought to supplicate that God enables one to observe the prayer that is characteristic of the truthful (siddiqin) and of those who excel in good works (muhsinin).”
As mentioned, Allah the Exalted has stated:
اِنَّ الۡحَسَنٰتِ يُذۡهِبۡنَ السَّيِّاٰتِ
And this means that good works or prayer drives away evil. In another instance, God Almighty states that prayer saves one from indecency and manifest evil. However, despite this we observe that there are people who observe prayer, yet still indulge in evil deeds. The response to this is that they observe prayer, but not in its true spirit, nor with piety.”
If there is no effect of one’s prayers, then it means that despite praying, they do not offer prayers in its true spirit or with piety
“They only perform useless movements in the form of a custom and habit. Their soul is dead. Allah the Exalted has not described this as hasanat [good works].”
Such prayers are not deemed as hasanat
“In this verse, God has used the word hasanat as opposed to al-salat even though the two words mean one and the same thing. This is because God wishes to allude to the merit and beauty of prayer, which in its true form possesses within it a spirit of truth and the effects of divine grace. This form of prayer does indeed drive away evil. Prayer is not simply a process of sitting and standing. In fact, the essence and soul of the formal prayer is that supplication which possesses within it a pleasure and satisfaction.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1 [English edition], pp. 159-161)
Thus, it is imperative to pray for this joy and pleasure and to be cured of this illness. One must not pray only for the fulfilment of their worldly desires; rather, one should pray for this as well. Just as a person explores all avenues to become healthy, cure themselves from an illness, and prays for health, in the same manner, one should pray for this as well.
Then, while imparting guidance, the Promised Messiahas states:
“You should pray as the Holy Prophetsa did, although after offering the prescribed supplications in prayer, you should also supplicate for your personal needs and desires in your own language and beseech God Almighty. There is no harm in doing so and your prayers are certainly not wasted because of this. These days, people have corrupted [the method of] prayer. Instead of actually offering prayer, they simply nod their heads; they offer it hastily in the same manner that a hen pecks away, and then remain seated afterwards to supplicate.”
This is particularly prevalent in Asia; for example, in India and Pakistan. Prayer is offered in haste and afterwards, worshippers raise their hands to supplicate. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“The true essence and soul of prayer is supplication. How can this true objective be achieved by supplicating after coming out of the state of prayer? This is similar to the case of one who enters the court of a king, and when the time comes to make a request, one does not avail the opportunity to say anything, and only after having left the court, one makes their request. What is the benefit of this? Such is the case of those who do not supplicate in their prayers with humility and anguish. The supplications you wish to make should be made in prayer while being mindful of the etiquettes of prayer.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, p. 258)
How has the Holy Prophetsa taught us the method of prayer? In this regard, there is a narration that is as follows:
A man arrived and offered prayer, and then conveyed greetings of peace to the Holy Prophetsa. The Holy Prophetsa said, “Go and offer prayers once again.” The Holy Prophetsa was observing him whilst sitting in a gathering in the mosque. In this way, the Holy Prophetsa asked the individual to offer prayers three times. In the end, the man said, “O Messenger of Allahsa, I do not know how to offer prayers in a manner better than this. For this reason, I request if you could teach me the correct method of prayer.” Upon this, the Holy Prophetsa said, “When you stand for prayer, proclaim the takbir” that Allah is the Greatest, “and then recite the Quran according to your knowledge” i.e. recite Surah al-Fatihah and then a portion of the Quran. “Then perform the ruku”, bow, “with complete calmness”. This does not mean to bow momentarily and then to stand up. “Perform the ruku with complete calmness and then stand upright. Then, prostrate while being fully composed and then rise from prostration and sit completely upright.”
Some people briefly rise in between the two prostrations and then quickly prostrate once again. The Holy Prophetsa further stated: “Sit completely upright, and then perform the second prostration. In the same way, offer your complete prayer slowly and in a composed manner.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Azan, Hadith 793)
Some people ask how they can offer prayer in an excellent manner. This is the method of offering prayers in an excellent manner, that is to pray unhurriedly and with composure, and by giving each position in prayer its due time.
Then, after focusing on offering prayer once its philosophy is understood, it is the duty of a believer to recite and understand the Holy Quran and give due attention to it. Often during Ramadan, special attention is given to this. You should ponder over the commentary [of the Holy Quran], and this is also a means to connect one Ramadan to the next. Great attention should be given to the Holy Quran. In respect to reciting the Holy Quran, the Promised Messiahas states:
“If we did not have the Quran, and if these collections of hadith had been the crowning glory of our faith and belief, we would not even have been able to show our faces to other nations out of shame. I reflected over the word Quran and it became evident to me that this blessed word in itself contains a magnificent prophecy. The prophecy is that this book alone is the Quran, i.e. a book that is worthy of being recited, and there will be a time when this will be the case even more so than before. In the era when other books will also be recited alongside the Quran, the Quran alone shall be worthy of being recited so that the honour of Islam may be saved and falsehood may be uprooted; other books will deserve to be forsaken completely. This is also the meaning of furqan [distinction, another name of the Holy Quran]. In other words, this book alone shall stand to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and no other compilation of hadith, or any other book for that matter, shall be equal in value or stature. Now forsake all other books and read the Book of Allah day and night. Truly devoid of faith is the one who does not turn to the Quran and who remains, day and night, engaged in studying other books. Our community ought to become absorbed with heart and soul in studying and reflecting on the Holy Quran and should not let themselves become overly preoccupied in studying the ahadith. It is most regrettable that the Holy Quran is not given the same attention, nor studied, as are the ahadith. At this time, if you employ the weapon known as the Holy Quran, you shall be victorious. No darkness will be able to stand in the face of this light.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3 [English edition], pp. 9-10)
Then, with regard to how one can establish virtue, the Promised Messiahas states that one ought to give precedence to faith over all worldly pursuits. The Promised Messiahas says:
“Observe, there are two kinds of people. The first are those who accept Islam and remain busy in worldly pursuits. Satan prevails over them […] I do not mean to say that it is forbidden to do business. Of course not. The Companions also partook in their work of trade, but they gave preference to faith over the world. They accepted Islam and gained true knowledge regarding Islam which indeed filled their hearts to the brink. This is the reason why they did not falter from any of Satan’s attacks. Nothing could prevent them from expressing the truth. What I mean by this is that those who are completely absorbed in the world and become enslaved to it as if they adore it, these are the ones upon whom Satan prevails and takes control of. The second kind of people are those who are constantly thinking about the progress of their faith. These are the ones who are called ‘The Party of Allah’. They overcome Satan and his legions. As wealth is a by-product of trading, God Almighty has declared the desire to acquire faith and the progress of religion a form of trade.” Allah has stated that acquiring faith is also a form of trade. “Hence God Almighty states:
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا هَلۡ اَدُلُّكُمۡ عَلٰي تِجَارَةٍ تُنۡجِيۡكُمۡ مِّنۡ عَذَابٍ اَلِيۡمٍ
“‘Shall I point out to you a bargain that will save you from a painful punishment?’ [Ch.61: V.11]”
The Promised Messiahas states:
“The best trade is that of faith which will save you from the painful punishment. Hence, I too say in the words of God Almighty:
هَلۡ اَدُلُّكُمۡ عَلٰي تِجَارَةٍ تُنۡجِيۡكُمۡ مِّنۡ عَذَابٍ اَلِيۡمٍ
“[‘Shall I point out to you a bargain that will save you from a painful punishment?’]”
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“As for those who decrease in their pursuit and passion in their faith, I fear that Satan may prevail over them.” One should never become slack. “If one does not understand any matter, they should ask, so that they increase their insight. It is not unlawful to ask.” One should certainly ask questions if they do not understand something. “One should also ask questions in order to make progress in their practical conditions and it is necessary to ask questions.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, pp. 193-194)
Thus, where on the one hand it is important to strengthen one’s faith in order to give precedence to it over all worldly things, it is also important to make progress in one’s knowledge and practical condition. And for this one should make an effort.
Then, the method which the Promised Messiahas has told us in order to continue to garner the blessings of Ramadan is to keep practicing the high morals we show one another, which we learnt in the month of Ramadan. And to increase our love for one another and the spirit of brotherhood and to fulfil the rights of others.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Our community cannot flourish until they have true compassion for each other. Whosoever has been granted strength ought to show love to those who are weak. I often hear that when an individual sees another stumble, rather than extending him courtesy, that individual looks at him with abhorrence and disgust. However, he ought to have prayed for that individual, then through love and compassion he ought to explain to him the issue politely. However, instead of this, the individual increases in malice for the other. If one does not show forgiveness and compassion, the matter will only worsen and the consequences will be grave. God Almighty does not approve [of these actions]. A community can only be formed when people show compassion to others and conceal their faults. When such a condition is reached, then people become the limbs of the same entity, and consider one another to be more than their actual brother.”
One ought to show love to one another even more than one’s own brother. Such is the level of compassion one ought to show. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“If an individual has a son who commits a mistake, the mistake is overlooked and the son would be taken to one side, and be explained his mistake.”
One conceals the faults of his brother, and in turn, the brother conceals his fault, that is if they have a bond of true brotherhood.
“One would never wish for the mistake to be disclosed”, i.e. that he discloses that he committed such and such injustice or sin. “When God Almighty declares [the Community] as brothers, then are these the rights owed to one’s brother? One does not abandon the bond of brotherhood in this world, then what reason do you have to abandon this?”
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“Occasionally one can take heed from the example of animals such as chimpanzees and dogs. Internal discord is entirely void of blessings. God Almighty reminded the Companions about these blessings and about brotherhood. Even if they spent gold equivalent to a mountain, they would never have achieved this level of brotherhood which they attained through the Holy Prophetsa. God Almighty has created this Community in the same way, and He will establish this same brotherhood within it. I have high hopes from God Almighty as He has promised:
وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِيۡنَ اتَّبَعُوۡكَ فَوۡقَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡۤا اِلٰي يَوۡمِ الۡقِيٰمَةِ
“[‘I will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection.’ (Ch.3: V.56)]
“I surely know that God Almighty shall establish a Community which shall remain triumphant over those who disbelieve until the Day of Judgment. However, presently these are days of trials and weakness and they grant the opportunity to each and every one to bring about a reformation in themselves and improve their condition. To complain of one another, hurt one’s feelings, to injure one’s sentiments by use of harsh language and to consider the weak and humble as lowly people is a grave sin.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, pp. 348-349)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Our community does not require people who possess the physical strength of mighty wrestlers.” We do not require wrestlers, “instead, we require people who possess the strength to continue working towards the transformation of their morals. Without doubt, a truly mighty and powerful person is not one who can move a mountain from its place – not in the least. True courage is to muster the strength to reform one’s morals. So remember, strive with all your strength and resolve to improve your morals, because this is true strength and bravery.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, [English edition], pp. 136-137)
With regard to showing love and harmony to one another, to fulfil the rights of others and to lead a life of humility and modesty, the Promised Messiahas states:
“It is necessary for the righteous to live a life of humility and modesty. This is an aspect of piety by which we must combat undue anger. To refrain from anger was the final and most trying stage experienced by many a great saint and the truthful. Vanity and pride stem from anger; and in certain cases, anger itself is the result of arrogance and conceit.” In other words, anger comes about due to arrogance and pride, or owing to anger one becomes arrogant and proud. “For anger comes about when an individual gives superiority to themselves over another. I do not desire that members of my community should consider themselves superior or inferior, behave arrogantly, or look down upon one another. God knows who is superior or inferior. This is a form of contempt which is imbued with disrespect. I fear that this contempt may grow like a seed and ruin such a person. Certain people meet those of high standing with immense respect, but truly great is the one who listens to a lowly person with humility, comforts them, gives importance to their opinion and does not rebuke them in a manner that would cause them grief.” The elders and office-bearers should be particularly mindful of this and speak to everyone with courtesy and in a loving manner.
“God Almighty states:
وَلَا تَنَابَزُوۡا بِالۡاَلۡقَابِ ؕ بِئۡسَ الِاسۡمُ الۡفُسُوۡقُ بَعۡدَ الۡاِيۡمَانِ ۚ وَمَنۡ لَّمۡ يَتُبۡ فَاُولٰٓئِكَ هُمُ الظّٰلِمُوۡنَ
“[‘Do not call one another by nicknames. Bad indeed is evil reputation after the profession of belief; and those who repent not are the wrongdoers.’ (Ch.49: V.12)]
“Do not call upon one another in a hurtful manner out of irritation for this is the way of the sinners and the transgressors. A person who scoffs at another shall not meet death until they too are subjected to the same. Do not look down upon your brethren. When all drink from the same stream, who knows which of you are destined to drink more than the other. Worldly principles cannot afford a person honour and greatness. In the sight of God Almighty, great is the one who is righteous.
اِنَّ اَكۡرَمَكُمۡ عِنۡدَ اللّٰهِ اَتۡقٰكُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلِيۡمٌ خَبِيۡرٌ
“[‘Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.’ (Ch.49: V.14)].” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, [English edition], p. 35)
Thus, the righteousness [taqwa] which has developed within us during the month of Ramadan necessitates from us that we improve our relations with one another and exhibit excellent morals in our dealings with one another.
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“I have spoken many times before that you all ought to remain reconciled and united. This is the teaching that God Almighty gave to the Muslims that you must all remain as one being, or you will lose your stature. The reason that Muslims have been instructed to stand together in prayer is to foster unity. The goodness in one person will flow into the next like an electric current. If you are divided and disunited, you shall be deprived.”
The distances that have been placed [during congregational salat] in light of the current circumstances is due to a particular reason. However, children and others should not think that this has become a permanent practice. The conditions are gradually improving and the distance [between the worshippers] is now reducing as well. Insha-Allah, the conditions will go back to normal.
In any case, the actual method is that when the rows of prayers are formed in the mosque, the congregants should stand next to one another. One should always be mindful of this. In light of the extenuating needs, a temporary arrangement was made so that at least prayers could still be offered in congregation. This is why the distances were created [between congregants]. Insha-Allah, just as the conditions are continuing to improve, the conditions will quickly return to normal.
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“The Messengersa of Allah has said that you ought to love one another and pray for each other even without the other’s knowledge.”
It is very important that one prays for the other without them even knowing or whether or not one asks you to pray for them, or even if you do not personally know them. To pray for the Jamaat in general and for its members is a very noble deed.
“If an individual prays for someone without their knowledge, an angel says, ‘May it be so for you as well.’ What an outstanding thing indeed! If someone was to suggest that man’s prayers were not heard, at least they would agree that the prayers of an angel were accepted. I would like to advise you and say that there should be no discord amongst you.”
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“I have only brought you two teachings: firstly, to establish the Oneness of God; secondly, to show one another love and sympathy. Show an example that serves as a miracle for others. This was what developed amongst the Companions and it served as an argument to others:
كُنۡتُمۡ اَعۡدَآءً فَاَلَّفَ بَيۡنَ قُلُوۡبِكُمۡ
“‘You were enemies and He united your hearts in love’ (Ch.3: V.104). Remember! Unity is a miracle. Remember! Until each and every one of you likes for your brother what you prefer for yourselves, you are not from among my community. Such a one suffers misfortune and trial. He shall not meet a good end.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 2 [English edition], p. 221)
Then, whilst drawing our attention towards instilling the love of God within us, the Promised Messiahas states:
“What is meant to love God? It is to give precedence to the pleasure of Allah the Almighty over one’s parents, wife, children and one’s own self. In short, to give precedence [to the pleasure of Allah the Almighty] over everything. Hence, it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran:
فَاذۡكُرُوا اللّٰهَ كَذِكۡرِكُمۡ اٰبَآءَكُمۡ اَوۡ اَشَدَّ ذِكۡرًا
“‘Celebrate the praises of Allah as you celebrated the praises of your fathers, or even more than that and with a greater degree of love’ (Ch.2: V.201).”
The Promised Messiahas states:
“In order to establish the true unity of God, it is necessary to fully partake of God Almighty’s love, and this love cannot be attained unless one fully expresses through actions.” One has to demonstrate this love practically and express it as well. It is not established through mere verbal utterances alone. “If one continues uttering ‘misri’ [a type of rock sugar] that object will never turn sweet in reality”, i.e. one will not suddenly taste the sweetness of it by calling the name of sugar or something sweet. “Or if one verbally declares to be the friend of another, but avoids helping and supporting them in times of difficulty, they cannot be deemed a true friend. Likewise, one cannot derive any benefit if they merely profess the unity of God Almighty and verbally declaring their love for Him. There is no benefit in this. In fact, there is a need for the practical demonstration of this as opposed to the verbal declaration. This does not mean that verbal declarations are futile, Nay! What I mean is that practical affirmation is required alongside verbal testimonies.
“Therefore, you must dedicate your lives in the way of Allah. This in itself is Islam; this is the task for which I was sent. Hence, those who now do not come to this spring, which God Almighty has caused to flow for this cause, indeed remain deprived. If one wishes to attain something and achieve their purpose, a true seeker must rush to this fountainhead, step forward and place their mouth at the edge of this flowing spring. But this cannot happen until and unless one falls at the threshold of God Almighty’s Providence, having abandoned all estrangement; and unless they make an oath that even if they lose all the honour in the world and they are faced with overwhelming difficulties the size of mountains, that they will never abandon God Almighty, and be ready to make all kinds of sacrifices in the way of Allah. Prophet Abraham’sas wonderful sincerity was such that he was even prepared to sacrifice his son. The purpose of Islam is also to create many Abrahams.” The Holy Quran has highlighted this very attribute of Abrahamas, that he was loyal. “Hence, you must all strive to become like Abrahamas.
“I say to you truthfully, do not worship saints, instead, become saints yourselves. Do not worship spiritual guides, become one yourself. Tread along these paths.”
Becoming a spiritual guide does not mean that you become arrogant or conceited; rather, it means to adopt humility and humbleness and also loyalty. This is the meaning of this. It does not mean to adopt worldliness like the [so-called] spiritual guides we find today.
The Promised Messiahas says:
“Tread along these paths. No doubt they are narrow, but having passed through these, one shall attain peace and tranquility. However, it is incumbent to pass through these doors leaving many things behind. If one has a large bundle above their head, it will be difficult to pass through. If you wish to pass through this, you must throw away that bundle of worldly relations and eschew placing the world before one’s faith. Our Community desires to please God Almighty, so it must therefore throw that bundle away. Know full well that if you do not possess loyalty and sincerity, you shall be declared to be liars and cannot be deemed truthful in the sight of Allah. In such a case, the one who adopts the way of the treacherous instead of loyalty shall be destroyed even before their enemies. God Almighty cannot be deceived, nor can anyone try to deceive Him. Therefore, it is necessary to develop true sincerity and honesty.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, pp. 188-190)
The Promised Messiahas explained that one can attain true sincerity through patience and prayer. One ought to strive to attain this and for this one must submit to the Threshold of Allah the Almighty with steadfastness. Thus, with each passing day, we must increase in our bond of loyalty with God Almighty. This is our code of conduct; a constant focus on our prayers with a firm resolve and to offer them in an excellent manner with all its due rights; to read and understand the Holy Quran and to obey all its commandments; to fulfil each other’s rights and to establish the unity of God. In actuality, every action of a true believer is for establishing the unity of God and indeed it should be. This was the very reason for the advent of the Promised Messiahas and this is something he repeatedly stated. Thus, this is something we ought to understand, otherwise verbally pledging allegiance is of no benefit. The Promised Messiahas has explained this clearly on several occasions.
For example, on one occasion, the Promised Messiahas states:
“One who claims to have sworn an oath of allegiance to me and to have faith ought to examine themselves and ask whether they are a shell or the kernel. Without the essence, without faith, without love, without obedience, without swearing an oath of allegiance, without belief, without being a follower, a person who claims to be a Muslim is not true in their claim.” When one professes love or belief or pledges allegiance, these are all mere claims, it will not be a claim in its true sense. “Bear in mind that in truth, a shell without the kernel has no value whatsoever in the estimation of Allah the Exalted. Also, bear well in mind that one does not know when death will come, but what is for certain is that death is inevitable. So you must never suffice on a mere claim and be pleased by this alone; this is never useful. Until one brings upon oneself many deaths, and undergoes many changes and transformations, one cannot attain the true purpose of humanity.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3 [English edition], pp. 59-60)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Observe the state of the world today. Our Noble Prophetsa demonstrated through his own actions that his death and his life were all for the sake of Allah Almighty alone, but then, there are the Muslims of today. If someone is asked whether they are a Muslim, they will respond in the affirmative by saying: ‘All praise belongs to Allah.’ But the man whose creed they recite was one whose entire life was based on the guiding principle of devotion to God. Yet the Muslim of today lives for the world and dies for the world. Until they finally begin to breathe their last.” When one is close to death they remember God. “It is the world that is their objective, the object of their love and desire. How then can such a one say that they follow the Messengersa of Allah?
“This is an instance for contemplation; do not consider this to be an ordinary matter. It is not easy to be a Muslim. Do not rest until you develop obedience for the Messengersa of Allah and inculcate a true image of Islam within yourselves.
“The current state of affairs may be likened to a shell and nothing more. You may call yourselves Muslims without truly following the Messengersa of Allah.” If a person calls themselves a Muslim without following the Holy Prophetsa, then this is futile and like a hollow shell. “It is not wise to be content with a name alone.”
The Promised Messiahas then gives an example:
“A Muslim told a Jew to accept Islam, to which the Jew responded: ‘Do not be pleased by a mere name’” i.e. that he should not be pleased just because he calls himself a Muslim. “‘I named my son Khalid [i.e. one who lives long] but I was forced to lay him to rest before the start of the evening’”, i.e. he did not live forever nor had a long life. “So seek the essence. Do not be satisfied with mere names. How shameful is it to call oneself the follower of such a magnificent Prophetsa yet spend a life akin to that of disbelievers. Show an example of Muhammad, the Messengersa of Allah, in your own lives and foster within yourselves a similar state. Be mindful that if you have not developed such a condition, then you are a follower of Satan.” This is a grave warning that such a person will become the follower of Satan.
“In short, it can now be very well understood that becoming the beloved of Allah Almighty ought to be the prime objective of a person’s life. Until a person is endeared to Allah the Exalted and they do not receive His love, they cannot live a life of success. Now this is not possible until one sincerely obeys and follows the Messengersa of Allah. The Messengersa of Allah has shown through his own example what Islam truly is, so inculcate that very same Islam within yourselves so that you may become the beloved of God.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, [English edition], pp. 79-80)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Remember that our Community is not simply for living a life like other normal worldly people. It is not enough to simply proclaim to be a Muslim and consider there to be no need of any action, which unfortunately has become the state of the Muslims. If they are asked whether they are Muslim, they reply, ‘All praise to Allah’ and yet they do not offer their prayers, nor afford respect and honour to the holy and sacred institutions of God Almighty. Therefore, I do not desire from you to simply utter a proclamation from your tongues and practically demonstrate nothing. This is a futile condition to have and God Almighty is certainly not pleased with this and it was for the reformation of this very condition of the world that God Almighty has sent me. Thus, if, despite forging a bond with me, one does not reform his condition nor progresses in his practical faculties, and instead considers the utterance from his tongue to be sufficient, then such actions of a person will signify that he does not consider my advent necessary.” Through his actions, he expresses that there was no need for the advent of the Promised Messiahas.
“If, through your practice, you wish to demonstrate that there is no need of my advent then what is the purpose of forming a bond with me? Thus, if you establish a connection with me, then you must fulfil the purpose and aim for which I have come; and that is for one to show loyalty and faithfulness to God Almighty and act upon the teachings of the Holy Quran in the manner demonstrated by the Holy Prophetsa and his Companions. Ponder over the true essence of what the Holy Quran seeks to establish and act upon these things. For God Almighty it will not be sufficient for one to merely profess verbal belief and then not follow up with improved actions and deeds. Remember, the Community that God Almighty wishes to establish cannot survive without righteous deeds. This is that remarkable Community, the inception of which began from the time of Prophet Adamas. There is not a single prophet that appeared in this world who failed to make mention of this message. Therefore, cherish this message and one can only do that by proving through one’s actions that they are the ones who belong to this righteous community.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 3, pp. 370-371)
Thus, if we have pledged allegiance to the Promised Messiahas with this conviction that he indeed is the Messiah and Mahdi, whose advent was prophesied by the Holy Prophetsa, then we will need to bring about a pious change within ourselves. We will have to bring about a transformation in us and become an example for the world to follow. We will have to set the high standards of fulfilling the rights of Allah and the rights of His creation. The training we have received during the month of Ramadan, we must continue to practice it throughout the year. We must try our utmost to implement the plan of action which I have presented through the words of the Promised Messiahas. We must offer our prayers in the best manner; we must adhere to the commandments of the Holy Quran; we must fulfil the rights of one another; we must offer every sacrifice for the sake of the establishment of the unity of God. It is only then that we will be able to do true justice to our bai‘at. May Allah the Almighty grant us the ability to do so.
Also, continue to pray and pray that the condition of the world improves. Those countries that harbour enmity for one another and are attacking one another, may they act with wisdom and refrain from their actions, because the world is quickly heading towards destruction. However, they can only find a way out of this by recognising their Creator.
Also, pray for those Ahmadis who have been imprisoned [due to their faith]. Pray for the Ahmadis in Pakistan and for their conditions to improve. Similarly, pray for the improvement in the conditions of various other countries as well and also the Ahmadis who have been imprisoned [due to their faith] in Afghanistan and Algeria. Due to the laws in Pakistan and owing to the fear of the cleric, as well as the public, the judges are not even able to issue correct verdicts. May Allah the Almighty improve the conditions there and may the Ahmadis live freely in Pakistan.
After the [Friday] prayer, I will lead the funeral prayer of respected Abdul Baqi Arshad Sahib who had been serving as the chairman of Al-Shirkatul Islamiyyah, UK. He was the son of Dr Abdul Hameed Sahib of Faisalabad. He passed away on 27 April at the age of 88.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّآ اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
He was the great grandson of Hazrat Mian Charagh Din Sahibra, a companion of the Promised Messiahas. He was also from the family of Hazrat Muhammad Hussain Sahibra known for his work on the Marham-e-Isa [Ointment of Jesus] and Mian Muhammad Yusuf Sahib who served as the private secretary during the time of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra.
Arshad Baqi Sahib came to the UK in 1955 and studied electrical engineering and lived at the Fazl Mosque during this time along with his wife. He then found work in Saudi Arabia and moved there in 1963 where he stayed until 1972. While living in Saudi Arabia he had the opportunity of serving Ahmadis who were travelling to perform Hajj and Umrah, which even included some companions [of the Promised Messiahas] as well. During his time in Saudi Arabia, he also had the honour of being imprisoned in the way of Allah on account of being an Ahmadi. The government offered that if he renounced Ahmadiyyat, he would be freed; however, he chose to endure imprisonment and refused to abandon Ahmadiyyat.
He was exiled from the country in 1972 upon which he returned to the UK. From his return here until his last breath, he was granted the ability to serve in various capacities. When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh migrated [from Pakistan to the UK] he went to receive him in Holland and then accompanied him from Holland to the UK.
He served in the UK as secretary jaidad. He also played an important role in acquiring the land for Islamabad. He also was able to serve as naib amir UK. He had the opportunity to serve as afsar Jalsa Salana UK, chairman Africa Trade and served for a long time as chairman of Al-Shirkatul Islamiyyah. He is survived by two sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Nabil Arshad Sahib, renders good services for the Jamaat here.
A former office worker, Mubashar Zafar Sahib says:
“Even though he was serving as a volunteer”, he never accepted any allowance from the Jamaat, “he worked with great responsibility and was very punctual. Despite his frail health, he would work in the office for eight to ten hours a day undeterred by his illness.”
He says, “Secondly, he was keen on working with his own hands. He always made his own cup of tea. If someone made tea for him, he would not allow anyone to wash the cup and would wash it himself. Sometimes after lunch in Deer Park, some people would leave their dishes on the table which he would pick up himself and would then clean the table rather than asking someone else to do it. Sometimes, if the toilets needed to be cleaned and the cleaners had not come, he would clean the toilets himself as well.”
He was a leader who worked with great humility and effort. He also had a very good memory and tended to Jamaat records and whatever other duties he was given with great care. He was very regular in offering prayers and doing so in congregation. He had great respect for Khilafat; if there was ever any directive from the Khalifa, no matter if it was contrary to his own personal opinion, he would immediately accept it wholeheartedly and forget whatever his own opinion on the matter was.
Wadood Malik Sahib says:
“I was very young compared to him, but despite this, whenever I went to visit him, he would very kindly impart guidance and would meet me with great humility. He would meet me not as if I was younger than him but as if I was his equal.”
Munir-ud-Din Shams Sahib has also written about him, saying:
“In the beginning, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh had assigned him to ensure that the needs of the households in Islamabad were looked after and he fulfilled this duty in an excellent manner. Similarly, until the very end, he carried out his duties at Al-Shirkatul Islamiyyah in an exemplary fashion. He was in constant contact with MTA and played a role in various financial and contractual matters.”
May Allah the Almighty bestow His forgiveness and mercy upon him and elevate his station. May Allah enable his children to serve the faith and remain sincere and loyal to the Jamaat and Khilafat.
After the [Friday] prayers, I will go outside to lead his funeral prayer.
(Official Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 20 May 2022, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.)