M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
Prophets of God come as a breath of fresh air for humanity in that they shatter the self-imposed shackles of society and guide mankind to the paths that lead to God by showing their pure examples.
More than a century ago, in fulfilment of the prophecy of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, Allah the Almighty appointed Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian to revive Faith and unite all nations under the banner of Islam. He was a perfect reflection and the most ardent devotee of his lord and master, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. Prophet Ahmadas came as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi at a time when followers of every religion in the world, in one form or another, were waiting for this saviour, who was to reform mankind and satiate their spiritual thirst. He also removed misconceptions about Islam and countered the false beliefs that had been attributed to it by some Muslims over the centuries, presenting the religion in its original, pristine form, as taught and lived by the Holy Prophetsa.
A lot has been said and written about the primary purpose of Prophet Ahmad’sas advent and how he fulfilled his mission. This article mainly focuses on how the Promised Messiahas was a source of ease and blessing for all the individuals of society in every aspect of life.
The Promised Messiahas said:
“The shariah of Allah Almighty is based on two things alone: to honour the commandments of Allah; and to show compassion to the creation of Allah.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, p. 268)
The Promised Messiahas demonstrated to the world that the shariah was never meant to make life difficult or cause problems for mankind. Certain individuals belonging to various classes of society, owing to their ulterior motives, invented different practices and gave them the name of religion. Moreover, some religious scholars and clerics mislead the common people by wrongly interpreting the verses of the Holy Quran due to a lack of divine knowledge and to fulfil their own selfish desires.
Shortening of prayers during journeys
At times, the Promised Messiahas would say a few words and put a long-standing issue to rest, making it simpler and easier to understand and act upon. A companion of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Qazi Amir Hussain Sahibra, said:
“Early on, I was convinced that qasr [reduced form] of salat while travelling was not permissible under normal circumstances, but only in the case of war owing to the fear of conflict. I used to have long discussions with Maulvi Sahib [Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra] on this matter.
“Once, during the days when the Promised Messiahas had a court trial in Gurdaspur, I also went there. The Promised Messiahas was accompanied by Maulvi Sahibra and Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib. However, when it was time for Zuhr prayer, the Promised Messiahas asked me to lead the salat. I firmly decided in my heart that, ‘Today, I have got the opportunity, so I will offer the complete [four rak‘aat of Zuhr] prayer without shortening it, and this issue will be resolved.’ When I raised my hands with the intention that I would not shorten the prayer, the Promised Messiahas was standing behind me, towards the right side. He immediately stepped forward and with his face close to my ear, the Promised Messiahas said, ‘Qazi Sahib! Will you offer two [rak‘aat]?’ I replied, ‘Yes Huzoor, I will offer only two.’ Without further ado, our matter was solved and I gave up my own reasoning.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, pp. 24-25)
A written question from someone was submitted to the Promised Messiahas. The individual inquired that since they are compelled to travel here and there for up to a distance of 30 miles or so, what should they consider a journey [safar] and is the Islamic injunction of shortening the prayer while on a journey applicable to him? The person stated that they were not interested in academic discussions from books and all he wanted was a verdict from their Truthful Leader. The Promised Messiahas stated:
“It is my belief that an individual ought not to impose undue difficulty upon themselves. The definition of a journey is based on the general understanding of society, even if the distance itself is only a few miles. So, if this is the case, a person should follow the injunctions that are applicable in the case of a journey and shorten the prayer.
إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ
‘Deeds are based on intentions.’
“At times, we will cover a distance of even two or three miles when we are walking with our friends, but no one has the slightest thought in their minds that they are on a journey. However, when a person packs their belongings and sets out with the intention that they are about to undertake a journey, they are a traveller. The foundation of the shariah is not based on difficulty. A journey is a journey by generally accepted standards.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 3, p. 106)
Ascetic practises and the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa
Explaining how certain individuals invent their own shariah and make it complicated for the masses, Prophet Ahmadas says:
“Once a man went to see a dervish. The dervish said: ‘Present him with some food.’ The man, however, insisted that he would eat with the dervish. Finally, when the man sat down with the dervish to eat, balls of neem were prepared for him and presented. Certain people adopt such a practice and the purpose is to make others believe that they are people of excellence. However, Islam does not consider such practices to be a sign of excellence; excellence in Islam is gauged by righteousness, which transforms a person into a saint, with whom the angels converse and to whom God Almighty gives glad tidings. I do not teach such ascetic practices because they are at odds with the objective of Islamic teachings. The Holy Quran gives the following teaching:
کُلُوۡا مِنَ الطَّيِّبٰتِ
‘Eat good things.’ [Surah al-Mu‘minun, Ch.23, V.52]
“Yet, these people take an excellent, pure thing and mix it with dust to turn it into something that is impure. Such beliefs developed long after Islam was forgotten. Such people add their own innovations to the teachings of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for they have nothing to do with Islam or the Holy Quran; these people invent their own shariah. I view this with utter contempt and disgust. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is a perfect example for us all. Our betterment and merit lie in following in his footsteps, insofar as possible, and not deviating even in the least.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 3, pp. 294-95)
The Holy Prophetsa said:
إِنَّ الدّيْنَ يُسْرٌ وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّيْنَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ غَلَبَہُ، فَسَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا، وَاسْتَعيْنُوا بِالْغَدْوَۃِ وَالرَّوْحَةِ وَشَىْءٍ مِنَ الدُّلْجَةِ
“Surely, religion is easy and whoever goes to the extremes in following religion will not be able to continue in that way. Hence, follow the right course, try to perfect yourselves and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and seek help by worshipping [God Almighty in salat] in the mornings, the afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-iman)
Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra writes that around 1893, when the number of Ahmadis was relatively small, an Ahmadi used to live in a village’s mosque. He would occasionally pay a visit to Qadian. Once, he asked the Promised Messiahas, “On Fridays, the people [of the village] offer two rak‘aat of Jumu‘ah prayer and in addition to that, they also perform four rak‘aat of Zuhr prayer, and call it ihtiyati [precautionary salat]. What is your direction in this matter?” The Promised Messiahas said, “There is no need to offer Zuhr prayer after Jumu‘ah. For those who fall into these doubts, both their Jum‘uah and Zuhr prayers become ambiguous. In either case, they are confused. Ihtiyati [salat] is a vain practice.” (Zikr-e-Habib, p. 32)
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:
“On one occasion, explaining the verse لَا يُکَلِّفُ اللّٰہُ نَفْسًا اِلَّا وُسْعَھَا [Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2, V.287], the Promised Messiahas said: ‘The shariah is based on mildness rather than harshness.’ [Malfuzat , Vol. 3, p. 404] That is, everyone will be dealt with in accordance with their capacities and capabilities. Hence, the shariah is there to bring ease and convenience.” (Friday Sermon, 30 January 2015)
In the Holy Quran, God Almighty says:
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيۡکُمۡ فِي الدِّيۡنِ مِنۡ حَرَجٍ
“[God] has laid no hardship upon you in religion.” (Surah al-Hajj, Ch.22: V.79)
Through his words and actions, the Promised Messiahas imparted his God-given knowledge to his followers in particular and to the rest of the people in general. Apart from unveiling the truths of major religious issues and enlightening the world about the Death of Jesus, Jihad, Revelation, Reality of Miracles, etc., Prophet Ahmadas went a step further and strived to eliminate all kinds of self-imposed extremes and bad innovations prevalent in society.
The Quranic injunction of purdah and kind treatment of women
In his writings, the Promised Messiahas responded to those who raised allegations against the Islamic veil and said that the Islamic veil is not a prison but a crucial barrier that prevents the free mixing of men and women and saves them from succumbing to their inner passions. However, he also expressed disapproval of the idea that women should be confined to their homes and never allowed to venture outside while observing purdah or walk alongside their husbands.
Hence, once, the Promised Messiahas was proceeding on a journey. There was some time before the train’s arrival. So, when he reached the station, he started walking with Hazrat Amma Janra on the platform. Observing this, Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra, who had a very intense nature, went to Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra and said, “Please request Hazrat Sahibas to make Bivi Sahiba [wife of the Promised Messiahas] sit separately.” Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra replied that he could not do so and told Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra that he was on his own. Thus, Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra himself went to the Promised Messiahas and requested the same. The Promised Messiahas replied, “Do not concern yourself with this. I do not approve of observing this kind of purdah.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 56)
Before the arrival of the Promised Messiahas, people had developed extreme interpretations regarding the commandment of purdah that were not in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran or the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa. For instance, a husband would not walk alongside his wife, even though she would be observing purdah as prescribed by the shariah. The Promised Messiahas introduced the correct concept of purdah.
On one occasion, he stated:
“People have committed errors as far as interacting and treating women and children is concerned, and they have gone astray from the right path. The Holy Quran states:
“‘Consort with them in kindness.’ (Surah an-Nisa, Ch. 4: V. 20)
“But today, people are acting in a manner that is opposed to this teaching. In this context, there are two sorts of people. One group of people have disregarded women leaving them to live an unrestricted life, as if religion does not affect them at all. So they lead a life that is diametrically opposed to Islam and no one bothers with them. Then, there is another group of people who have not left women alone to live an unbridled life, but in contrast, they have adopted a way that is so harsh and controlling that one is unable to differentiate between women and animals; these people treat women in a manner that is worse than slaves and beasts. […] The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is a perfect example in every respect. Study his life and see how he treated women.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 3, pp. 295-296)
A narration in Sirat-ul-Mahdi mentions that Sakina Begum Sahiba, wife of Master Ahmad Hussain Faridabadi Sahib, expressed to her husband in a letter that the Promised Messiahas used to say in his majalis [religious gatherings], “Men should treat women with kindness and love.” On the other hand, he would say to the women, “Women should make their homes a Paradise and should never speak to men in a loud voice.”
Sakina Begum Sahiba further stated that, “Whenever I used to visit the Promised Messiah’sas house, I would observe that he would always call Ummul Momineenra [Hazrat Amma Jan] very politely. He would call her, ‘Mahmud ki Walidah [Mahmud’s mother]!’ or sometimes say to her, ‘Mahmud ki Amma [Mahmud’s mom]! The matter is so-and-so.’ The Promised Messiahas was also very kind towards his servants. I do not remember once that he ever spoke harshly to any one of his servants. He would always speak to them with a smile on his face.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 319)
The principles of shariah are aligned with human nature
The Holy Quran, in the final verse of its second chapter, states that Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. It further says that the more closely you follow your religion, the easier it will be for you. In other words, God is saying that he has shown you the most straightforward and shortest way to reach the ultimate goal. The more you divert from that path, the longer and more difficult your life’s journey is going to be. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, pp. 656-657)
It makes perfect sense, because if God is the “Inventor” of this “apparatus” called the human, then it will run most smoothly and with ease if the “Inventor’s manual”, or “His rules”, are followed perfectly. So, compared to any other way of living your life, it is not difficult to follow the shariah.
Following the shariah is also easy because the rules are not beyond human capacity. For instance, you are meant to pray, while standing, but if you are genuinely unable to, you may pray while sitting down, or even lying down, if you cannot sit. This flexibility and relaxation applies to every other practice.
However, as has been previously mentioned, people sometimes make things difficult for themselves. For example, you are not permitted to fast, while you’re ill. If someone fasts despite this, he will not only be putting himself in great difficulty, but it will be tantamount to breaking a rule.
Yes, it is also true that if you have never practised religion before, it can be difficult in the beginning stages. It’s like that person who, after years of inactivity, starts exercising. It will be extremely difficult in the beginning, but if he perseveres, he will only grow in his ability to find the training, or in our case, the rules, easier day by day.
The principles of shariah are designed to align with and accommodate the natural capacities of human beings. Hence, the Promised Messiahas said:
“God Almighty does not require human beings to accept anything that is beyond their intellectual capacity, and only sets forth such doctrines as are comprehensible by men so that His directives should not impose upon man that which he is not able to bear.” (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp. 191-92)
At another place, Prophet Ahmadas said:
“The shariah has never compelled a person to bear anything beyond the strength and capacity of their faculties.
لَا يُکَلِّفُ اللّٰہُ نَفْسًا اِلَّا وُسْعَھَا
‘Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity.’ [Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2, V.287]
“From this verse, it is clearly evident that the commandments of Allah Almighty are not such as are beyond the ability of one to fulfil. Furthermore, God Almighty has not disclosed His injunctions and laws to the world so that He may exhibit His eloquence and articulate speech to Man, or flaunt His lawmaking and storytelling ability – as if He had determined from the very beginning that foolish and weak human beings would never be able to act upon these injunctions. God Almighty is above and beyond such vain practices.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 1, p. 60)
Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmad Kapurthalvira relates, “Once, Hazrat Munshi Aroray Khan, Hazrat Khan Sahib Muhammad Khan and I visited the Promised Messiahas in Ludhiana. It was the month of Ramadan and I was fasting, whereas the others were not. When we met Hazrat Sahibas, there was very little time left until sunset. They told Hazrat Sahibas, ‘Zafar Ahmad is fasting’. Hazrat Sahibas rushed inside, brought a sweet drink and instructed me to break my fast. Hazrat Sahibas said, ‘Fasting while on a journey is not required.’ Thus, I obeyed the instruction.
“Later, since we were settled there, we began fasting. At iftari [time for breaking the fast], Hazrat Sahibas brought three glasses on a big tray. As we were about to open the fast, I said to Huzooras, ‘What good will one glass do for Munshi Ji (Munshi Arorey Khan Sahib)?’ Huzooras smiled and immediately went back [to the kitchen] and brought a big pitcher full of a sweet drink and offered it to Munshi Ji. Munshi Ji finished the entire pitcher, considering that Hazrat Sahibas himself was feeding him with his hand.” (Ashab-e-Ahmad, Vol. 4, p. 224; Al Hakam, 25 May 2018)
Ahmadas: The manifestation of God’s mercy
The Promised Messiahas said:
“The shariah has just two components. One is the right of God and the second is the right of Man.
“What is the right of God? It is to worship Him and to not include anyone else in His worship, and to remain occupied in the remembrance of Allah, to obey His commandments and to avoid His prohibitions, and to eschew all that is unlawful, etc.
“The right of man, in summary, is not to be cruel to anyone, not to transgress against the rights of anyone […].” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 10, p. 407)
When we hear the word “Messiah” the attributes of love, kindness and compassion come to mind. Prophet Ahmadas,who was the Latter-Day Messiah, possessed all these qualities to the fullest possible extent, as he was the servant of the Seal of all the Prophets, Hazrat Muhammadsa. One of the most remarkable ways in which he manifested these qualities was that he freed God’s creation from their self-imposed shackles and the yokes that had crushed their backs.