10 May 2019
Delivered from Baitul Futuh Mosque
Ramadan and our responsibilities
After reciting the Tashahud, Ta‘awuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa recited verses 184-187 of Surah al-Baqarah and then commences with the Sermon:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الصِّیَامُ کَمَا کُتِبَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ۔
اَیَّامًا مَّعۡدُوۡدٰتٍ ؕ فَمَنۡ کَانَ مِنۡکُمۡ مَّرِیۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰی سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّۃٌ مِّنۡ اَیَّامٍ اُخَرَ ؕ وَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یُطِیۡقُوۡنَہٗ فِدۡیَۃٌ طَعَامُ مِسۡکِیۡنٍ ؕ فَمَنۡ تَطَوَّعَ خَیۡرًا فَہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لَّہٗ ؕ وَ اَنۡ تَصُوۡمُوۡا خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ۔ شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِیۡۤ اُنۡزِلَ فِیۡہِ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ ہُدًی لِّلنَّاسِ وَ بَیِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الۡہُدٰی وَ الۡفُرۡقَانِ ۚ فَمَنۡ شَہِدَ مِنۡکُمُ الشَّہۡرَ فَلۡیَصُمۡہُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ کَانَ مَرِیۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰی سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّۃٌ مِّنۡ اَیَّامٍ اُخَرَ ؕ یُرِیۡدُ اللّٰہُ بِکُمُ الۡیُسۡرَ وَ لَا یُرِیۡدُ بِکُمُ الۡعُسۡرَ ۫ وَ لِتُکۡمِلُوا الۡعِدَّۃَ وَ لِتُکَبِّرُوا اللّٰہَ عَلٰی مَا ہَدٰکُمۡ وَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَشۡکُرُوۡنَ۔
وَ اِذَا سَاَلَکَ عِبَادِیۡ عَنِّیۡ فَاِنِّیۡ قَرِیۡبٌ ؕ اُجِیۡبُ دَعۡوَۃَ الدَّاعِ اِذَا دَعَانِ ۙ فَلۡیَسۡتَجِیۡبُوۡا لِیۡ وَ لۡیُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِیۡ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَرۡشُدُوۡنَ۔
The translation of these verses is as follows:
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous i.e. to abstain from sin and increase in spirituality. [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, providing they have the capacity to do so. And whoso performs a good work with willing obedience, it is better for him. And fasting is good for you, if you only knew. The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and discrimination. Therefore, whosoever of you is present at home in this month, let him fast therein. But whoso is sick or is on a journey, shall fast the same number of other days. Allah desires to give you facility and He desires not hardship for you, and that you may complete the number, and that you may exalt Allah for His having guided you and that you may be grateful. And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.184-187)
In these verses, God Almighty has mentioned the obligation of fasting, its importance, the duties of the believers with regard to this month and the ways in which one’s prayers can be accepted. This is a month which has been ordained for us, during which God Almighty moves closer to His servants and Satan is chained. Thus, after having heard these words of God Almighty, if the doors of mercy and blessings are being opened to such an extent, then we must greatly strive in order to fulfil the rights of fasting.
On one occasion, the Holy Prophetsa said, “If you knew the excellences of Ramadan and the ways in which God Almighty manifests His mercy, you would have wished that Ramadan was extended to the entire year so that you can gather the blessings of God Almighty all year long.” Thus, God Almighty has prescribed fasting for our own benefit. We can derive spiritual as well as physical benefits from fasting. Now, even the non-Muslim doctors are of the opinion that fasting has a positive effect of one’s health. Initially, only a small number of doctors held this opinion, but now many more support this view. Some non-Muslims have even started writing that fasting brings discipline into one’s life. In any case, whether the people of this world agree to it or not, a believer has personal experience that fasting not only improves one’s health, but they also become a means for the improvement of spiritual health to a much greater extent. Thus, acting upon this commandment of God Almighty, we should try our utmost to improve in spirituality.
God Almighty has stated in these aforementioned verses that fasting has been prescribed for every believer and true Muslim. To remain hungry from morning until evening is not considered a fast. The Promised Messiahas has stated, “Through the practice of fasting, God Almighty desires for a person to decrease one form of nourishment and increase in another form of sustenance. A person observing the fast should always be mindful of the fact that observing the fast does not simply mean that one should remain hungry. Rather, one should remain occupied in the remembrance of God Almighty in order to develop a state of inclination towards God and detachment from the world.” That is, so that a person progresses and advances in forming a relationship with God Almighty and in worshipping and remembering Him and that they detach themselves from the world. Worldly affairs will always remain attached with us and are never-ending. However, even while we are occupied in these, we should remember God Almighty. We should be mindful of His commandments and remain occupied in His remembrance.
The Promised Messiahas states, “Therefore, a fast means that a person should refrain from the physical food that nourishes the body and acquire another form of food that is the means of comforting and nourishing the soul. Those individuals who observe the fast purely for the sake of God and do not do so as a mere tradition, they should remain engaged in praising God Almighty and also seeking His protection.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 9, p. 123)
The Holy Prophetsa has also stated that God Almighty does not require for you to simply remain hungry (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Saum, Bab Man Lam Yada’ Qaul al-Zur wa al-amal bihi fi al-saum, Hadith 1903). Moreover, God Almighty has also stated in the very first verse pertaining to the injunction of fasting that fasting has been prescribed so that one may become righteous. However, what is righteousness? It is to abstain from spiritual and moral weaknesses. As I have just mentioned, the Holy Prophetsa has stated that God Almighty does not require for one to simply remain hungry. The observing of the fast should develop a standard of righteousness within a person, through the means of which one is then able to protect themselves from all forms of spiritual and moral weaknesses, otherwise it is meaningless to fast. Furthermore, the Promised Messiahas has elaborated on righteousness on one occasion in the following manner.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“To become truly righteous it is necessary that after having abstained from the more manifest form of sins, such as adultery, theft, usurping the rights of others, pretentiousness, arrogance, scorn of fellow beings, miserliness, one should eschew all low morals and should make progress in high moral values.”
In other words, one should make a concerted effort to abandon these ills. By abandoning these lowly vices, one should then adopt excellent morals.
The Promised Messiahas further states,
“One should behave towards his fellow beings with politeness, courtesy and sympathy and should cultivate true fidelity and sincerity towards God Almighty. (This is vital for righteousness and spirituality. One ought to have a true and loyal relationship with God.)
“One should constantly seek occasions of beneficent service.” This encapsulates both the rights owed to God Almighty and fulfilling His injunctions, and also fulfilling the rights owed to mankind. In other words, one should serve in such a selfless manner whereby people testify that indeed, such a person is serving only for the sake of God without any vested interests.
The Promised Messiahas states,
“He who combines all these qualities in himself is alone righteous. The possession of any one of these qualities would not entitle a person to be accounted righteous unless they possesses collectively all of them. It is regarding such people that it is said:
لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیْھِمْ وَلَا ھُمْ یَحْزَنُوْنَ
(On them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. [Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.63])”
What more could one desire for after having been granted the protection of God Almighty.
“God Almighty becomes the guardian of such people as it is stated in the following verse:
وَھُوَ یَتَوَلَّی الصَّالِحِیْنَ
(And He protects the righteous. [Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.197])
In another Hadith it is stated that God Almighty becomes their hands with which they grasp, their eyes with which they see, their ears with which they hear and their feet with which they walk.
“In another Hadith it is stated that God has proclaimed that he who bears enmity towards a friend of Mine should become ready to contend with Me. Still another Hadith declares that when anyone attacks a friend of God, He pounces upon them with the fierceness with which a tigress pounces upon one who seeks to deprive it of its young.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, pp. 400-401)
Thus, it is by truly fulfilling the due rights of fasting and by attaining these standards of righteousness that the observing of fasts will bring a person, a believer and a Muslim under the protection of God Almighty.
Hazrat Abu Hurairara narrates that the Holy Prophetsa stated that God Almighty states, “Every deed of a person is for his own sake, except for observing fasts. Fasting is observed for My sake.” God Almighty says that a person observes the fast purely for the sake of God. True believers observe the fast for the sake of God Almighty. God Almighty further states, “The one who observes the fast for My sake, I personally become its reward.” That is, God Almighty shall grant them whatever He pleases.
Similarly, the Holy Prophetsa also stated, “Fasts serve as a shield and if anyone of you is observing a fast, they should not utter anything which is indecent and foul.” One should abstain from uttering immoral and foul speech. Furthermore, the Holy Prophetsa stated, “If anyone verbally abuses a them or quarrels with them, they should simply reply to such a one, saying, ‘I am fasting’”, that is “I shall not indulge in any act of indecency.”
The Holy Prophetsa further states, “By God, in Whose hand lies Muhammad’ssa life, the smell of the mouth of an individual observing the fast is more pleasant to God Almighty than musk.” That is, it is more pleasant than the fragrance of musk. The Holy Prophetsa further stated, “There are two joys for an individual who observes the fasts and that bring them happiness. Firstly, they rejoice when they break the fast in that God Almighty made provisions for them to break the fast. Secondly, when they meet their Lord, they will rejoice due to the fasts as God Almighty states that He personally becomes the reward for one who fasts.” Furthermore, the state of the joy of an individual who observes the fast for the sake of God Almighty and receives the uncountable rewards of God Almighty will be of a completely different nature. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Saum, Bab Hal Yaqul Innee Sa’im idhaa Shi’tum, Hadith 1904)
Hence, this is the standard of righteousness, which a person who observes the fast in its true spirit should seek to acquire. Indeed, one who sincerely fasts eventually does attain this standard. An individual observing fasts should not allow their fast to be affected by worldly affairs and should also refrain from all forms of spiritual and moral weaknesses. They should not rejoice at the fact that they observed a fast. How many people are there in the world who observe fasts, yet, the standard of their prayers and their morals are not what they ought to be.
The Holy Prophetsa stated that Satan is shackled during this month and that he is tied up. (Sahih Muslim, Kitabul al-Siyam, Bab Fadlu Shahri Ramadan, Hadith 1079)
However, why then do vices and sins continue to take place in the world during this month? Therefore, the fast only becomes a shield and protects those individuals from the onslaughts of Satan who understand the reality of the fast and become righteous. Hence, this is the true objective we should always remain mindful of.
The Holy Prophetsa has also warned us and drawn our attention to the fact that during the month of Ramadan, the doors to heaven are opened, the doors to hell are closed and Satan is shackled. (Sunan Tirmidhi, Abwab al-Da’wat, Bab Raghm Anf Rajul Fhakartu Indahu…, Hadith 3545) However, the Holy Prophetsa has also warned that if one is to witnesses the month of Ramadan and yet not have their sins forgiven, then when else can they be forgiven?
The Holy Prophetsa is addressing us; he is addressing those who call themselves Muslim; he is addressing those people to whom God Almighty has commanded that fasting has been made compulsory for them so that in these days of Ramadan they can exclusively remain preoccupied in the worship of God, and in striving to achieve moral and spiritual heights. However, if one fails to do this, then merely the arrival of Ramadan, Satan being shackled down, the doors of heaven being thrown open and the doors of hell being locked closed shall not benefit one at all.
The Holy Prophetsa also warned that if, despite the extremely comprehensive mercy of God Almighty, the means to secure one’s forgiveness are not attained even in Ramadan, then when will they be attained? Hence, we should not simply become happy on account of Ramadan’s arrival and become satisfied in merely congratulating each other for Ramadan and the act of fasting. Rather, we should seriously evaluate ourselves about whether we are striving to attain the true purpose of fasting as laid out by God Almighty. May God Almighty enable all of us to achieve this purpose and grant us His forgiveness.
Then, in the next verse, God Almighty also describes those conditions in which one may be excused from fasting. However, before elaborating upon this, God Almighty explains, saying that since He Himself is the reward for the one who fasts, and He personally provides believers the means to secure their forgiveness, therefore the thought should not arise in anyone’s mind that they are making a great sacrifice by fasting and as a result of which God Allah has granted them His favours, forbearance and forgiveness. No doubt, the mercy and forgiveness of God is extremely vast, but this fasting is still not an extraordinary sacrifice. At the time of Sehri [when the fast begins], we eat to the stomach’s fill, and at the time of breaking the fast, everyone eats whatever they desire; and then, this is hardly an ongoing sacrifice – it is only a matter of a small number of days in the year.
Some people observe their fast and then announce that they’re fasting with great pride. This is not an enormous sacrifice which needs to be announced. In fact, even after making the greatest of sacrifices, a true believer remains anxious as to how and when God Almighty should become pleased with him, let alone announcing it openly to others. Nonetheless, God Almighty states that these are a fixed number of days i.e. just for one month in the year. Therefore this is not an enormous sacrifice that one makes. Moreover, God Almighty states that in these days, He grants His servants His special mercy. So, if even in these few days, one ends up falling ill or is required to undertake a journey, then one is exempt from fasting. However, this number of missed fasts must be observed at some other time in the year. As for a chronically ill patient – not just someone making an excuse, but one whom a doctor has forbidden from fasting – then the command is to feed a needy one, if one has the ability. And in terms of the ability to do so, this is compulsory unless the person is dependent upon donations and charity. In all other cases, whatever one eats, they must feed a needy one the same. If one can do more than this, then they should also give the fidya [alms] and later make up the missed fasts as well.
In this regard, the Promised Messiahas states:
“God Almighty does not burden a person beyond his capacity. (Whatever ability and capacity one has and whatever one normally eats) they should give Fidya according to that in expiation of previously missed fasts and make up the resolve to observe all fasts in the future.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 350)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Once, the question arose in my mind as to why fidya has been made compulsory? So upon reflection, I was given to understand that it is for the sake of enabling one to fast – so that one be granted the ability to fast thereby.”
The Promised Messiahas states:
“God Almighty is the Lord of Providence. If He so desires, He can even grant a person afflicted with pulmonary phthisis the ability to fast.”
In other words, God Almighty can also grant a person afflicted with tuberculosis a full recovery so that they may also fast.
Thus, the Promised Messiahas states:
“This is the purpose of fidya – that one may acquire the capacity to fast, and this only happens with the grace of God.”
The Promised Messiahas states:
“In my estimation, it is a beautiful thing that man should supplicate, ‘Oh my Lord! This is Your blessed month and I remain deprived of its blessings. And who knows if I shall remain alive until the next year, or if I am able to make up those fasts which I have missed, or if health ever permits me to fast again,’ and thus one implores the ability to fast from God.”
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“One ought to beseech help from God in these words.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 258)
Hence, those who suffer from temporary illnesses and similarly those on journey should give the fidya and it is also compulsory for them to make up the missed fasts later. The need to observe both – observing missed fasts and giving the fidya – is proven by the following. The Promised Messiahas explains that those who end up recovering and are able to make up their fasts, for them to think that they only need to pay the fidya [and not keep the missed fasts] opens a dangerous door to legitimising that which is forbidden. If one’s condition is such that they recovered after Ramadan, or they became ill in Ramadan but later recovered, if such people simply say that they did not fast in Ramadan but paid the fidya, then this is also opening the door to legitimising something wrong. It would be condoning false exceptions, opening forbidden ways and forging false innovations. Even if one has paid the fidya, they still need to make up for the missed fasts after Ramadan. These missed fasts can be kept at any time in the year.
The Promised Messiahas explains that of course, for those suffering from long-term illnesses, breast-feeding women, pregnant women – in this state when the entire year passes – it is enough to give fidya. However, along with fidya, it is important to maintain one’s worship of God, the remembrance of God, and other good works in this month. It should not be that since they have paid the fidya therefore now they are free from all other responsibilities. Thus, those who fall in this category should also continue to receive the blessings of Ramadan even if they are not observing the fasts, but instead pay the fidya and maintain good works. However, simply paying the fidya and then forgetting about daily prayers and other acts of piety does not make one a true believer – it does not join one among those partaking of the blessings of Ramadan. (Malfuzat, Vol. 9, p. 433)
God Almighty then states in the verses recited earlier that whichever good work one performs with the utmost obedience – even if one does not perform it wholeheartedly but do so purely because it is an injunction of God Almighty – subsequently God Almighty shall reward such a person in an excellent manner. According to some, the meaning of
فَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَیْرًا
is also “so whatever extra good you do from yourself, this is also better for you”; both definitions are correct, meaning that one gives extra fidya, or one feeds two needy people instead of one needy person as charity, or, in the case that for some reason one was unable to fast one day, and they know that they will be able to make up the fast the next day, they still pay the fidya as an additional act of virtue, and regarding this God Almighty declares that this is better for us. This is because whether good works are carried out by burdening oneself or as a voluntary act – as long as it is done happily – Allah the Almighty grants the recompense for it.
At the end of this verse, God Almighty has once again emphasised that observing fasts is better in every respect.
Then, in the following verse, God Almighty states, “We caused the Quran to descend in this month, which is a means of guidance for you, and contains within itself clear and illuminating signs.” Thus, the Holy Quran and the month of Ramadan have a special connection. Therefore, alongside fasting one ought to ponder over the Quran and strive to act according to its teachings so that one can derive true blessings from the fasts during Ramadan. Not everyone can understand the deep intricacies of the Holy Quran, hence, along with the recitation of the Quran and reading its translations, which everyone is able to do on their own, one ought to derive benefit of the dars [sermon] of the Holy Quran in whichever mosque the Jamaat has made arrangements. Similarly, there are arrangements for darses which are played on MTA, and it is vital to gain benefit from these. The darses of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh are being aired [on MTA]. The Holy Prophetsa has also enjoined that we should recite the Holy Quran as much as possible during this month. Even in other days, an Ahmadi ought to recite the Holy Quran as much as possible. This is essential for the month of Ramadan otherwise simply fasting is futile. God Almighty has especially mentioned the revelation of the Holy Quran in relation with Ramadan and the Holy Prophetsa has emphasised this. We are fortunate that in this era, God Almighty enabled us to accept the Ardent Devotee of the Holy Prophetsa, who taught us the hidden meanings and intricacies of the Holy Quran and presented many new layers of those meanings. He especially reminded us to act on the commandments of the Holy Quran, to grant it honour, to reflect over the Quran and to recite it. Thus, we ought to read the Quran and strive to act on its teachings.
With regard to how one should bring about a change in their conditions after reciting the Holy Quran, the Promised Messiahas says:
“There is a great distinction between the acquisition of worldly knowledge and knowledge of the Holy Quran. (There is great difference between obtaining secular knowledge and gaining knowledge of the Holy Quran.)
“Righteousness is not needed for acquiring secular knowledge such as grammar, physics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, etc. It is not necessary that a student of these subjects should observe Salat and the fast and should be mindful of Divine commandments and prohibitions and should subordinate his every action and word to Divine directions.”
It is an important principle that in order to acquire the true comprehension of the Quran, one must observe the fasts, fulfil his dues of worship, offer the prayers and also excel in righteousness. The Promised Messiahas states that it is not necessary for one who does not seek the knowledge of the Holy Quran that they should observe the fast and offer the prayers, nor is it imperative for that individual to be mindful of God Almighty’s injunctions, i.e. what one ought to follow and what one ought to abstain from. Although these principles are not essential for those who seek to attain secular knowledge, however, the one who endeavours to obtain the knowledge of the Holy Quran, it is essential to adhere to these injunctions and to adhere to all of God Almighty’s commandments.
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“One’s every action and statement should be in accordance to the injunctions of God Almighty. Indeed, it often happens that the seekers of worldly knowledge become atheistic and are involved in every kind of vice.
“Today the world presents a remarkable spectacle. Though the people of Europe and America acquire high proficiency in worldly arts and sciences and daily make new inventions, their moral and spiritual condition is deplorable. (In this day and age, in particular, their moral condition has further deteriorated in the name of freedom.)
“We cannot even mention some of the scenes that are witnessed in the parks of London and the hotels of Paris and are published in the daily press. On the other hand, righteousness is an essential condition for heavenly learning and for acquiring knowledge of the mysteries of the Holy Quran. For this purpose, sincere repentance is needed for the door of Quranic knowledge is not opened until a seeker of it carries the burden of Divine commands with perfect humility and meekness and turns to Him humbly, trembling before His glory and His might. Without these they cannot obtain from the Holy Quran the means of fostering those qualities and faculties which generate delight and comfort for the soul. (Thus, righteousness is a prerequisite in order to understand the knowledge of the Holy Quran.)
“The Holy Quran is the Book of God and its knowledge is in the hand of God; thus righteousness is the ladder for the acquisition of such knowledge. (When one uses the ladder of righteousness, only then can one attain the true comprehension of the Quranic Knowledge.) Then how can it be possible that the faithless wicked who are evil-minded and are held prisoner by their earthly passions should achieve such knowledge?
“For this reason, a Muslim, who is a Muslim by name, could well be the greatest scholar of Arabic morphology, syntax, etymology, literary critique, and other such sciences, and in the eyes of the world, could well be the greatest expert in all fields of knowledge, (for example an individual may be well versed in grammar, eloquent in Arabic and may be able to produce an excellent translation of the Quran) but if such an individual does not purify their soul, the knowledge of the Holy Quran is not granted to them.
“I observe in this day and age that the world’s attention is greatly inclined towards the acquisition of worldly knowledge, and the enlightenment of the West has astonished the world with its new inventions and creations. The path that Muslims have thought to follow, in order to secure their own prosperity and success, unfortunately, is by making the people of the West their leaders and priding themselves on following Europe. This is the state of modern Muslim thinkers. Then, there are those Muslims who are old-fashioned in their thoughts and who consider themselves to be the guardians of the faith. The summary and sum-total of their lifelong achievements is that they are entangled in intricacies and disputes that relate to Arabic morphology and syntax and they are at daggers drawn over the correct pronunciation of the Arabic word dhaleen”, i.e. they are fixated on discussions of Arabic grammar and how one ought to pronounce words correctly.
“They pay no attention whatsoever to the Holy Quran, and how could they, when they pay no attention to the purification of their souls?” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, pp. 425-427)
Thus, the Promised Messiahas states that Ahmadis should not just simply pursue worldly endeavours, in fact they should also strive in order to acquire the knowledge of the Holy Quran.
On one occasion, someone asked the Promised Messiahas how one should recite the Holy Quran. In reply to this, the Promised Messiahas said:
“One ought to ponder and deliberate over the Quran and recite it with the utmost concentration. In the Hadith it is mentioned:
رُبَّ قَارٍ یَلْعَنُہُ الْقُرْاٰن
Meaning that there are many qurraa [those who recite the Holy Quran] who are cursed by the Quran. Whosoever recites the Holy Quran and does not act on its commandments is cursed by the Quran.”
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“When reciting the Holy Quran, when someone comes across a portion in which there is mention of the mercy of God Almighty, then at that moment one ought to seek mercy from God Almighty. And when one recites a portion in which the Quran refers to punishment of a particular people, at that point one ought to seek protection from God Almighty through repentance and seeking His forgiveness. One should ponder and reflect over the Holy Quran and act according to its teachings.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 9, pp. 199-200)
Thus, this is the manner in which the Holy Quran ought to be read. Since we have been commanded to focus our attention on the Quran in this month, therefore we ought to read it in light of these injunctions.
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“So beware and do not take a single step contrary to the teaching of God and the guidance of the Quran. I tell you truly that anyone who disregards even a small injunction of the seven hundred commandments of the Quran shuts upon themselves the door of salvation. The ways of true and perfect salvation have been opened by the Quran and all else is its reflection. Therefore, study the Quran with deep contemplation and hold it very dear. Love it more than anything else. God has said to me:
اَلْخَیْرُ کُلُّہٗ فِی الْقُرْاٰنِ
Meaning, all good is contained in the Quran. This is the truth.”
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“Pity those who favour anything besides it. The fountainhead of all your prosperity and salvation lies in the Quran. There is no religious need of yours which is not fulfilled by it. On the Day of Judgement, the Quran will confirm or deny your faith. There is no other book beneath heaven besides the Quran, which can directly guide you. (Only through the Holy Quran can one be rightly guided.) God has been most beneficent towards you in that He has bestowed upon you a book like the Quran. I tell you truly that if the book which has been recited to you was recited to the Christians, they would not have perished. If this favour and guidance which has been bestowed upon you had been granted to the Jews in place of the Torah, some of their sects would not have denied the Day of Judgement. Therefore, appreciate this favour that has been bestowed upon you.”
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“It is a most precious favour; it is a great wealth. If the Quran had not been revealed, the whole world would have been nothing more than a filthy half-formed lump of flesh. The Quran is a book, in contrast with which, all other guidance amounts to nothing.” (Kashti-e-Nuh, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, p. 26-27)
Thus we ought to understand the Quran when we recite it and we ought to focus our attention on attaining the guidance contained within it. Many people will have focused their attention towards this during the month of Ramadan, but it is necessary for them to make it a part of their daily lives. God Almighty has commanded the believers to pay special attention towards the recitation of the Holy Quran. This is because when one devotedly undertakes this endeavour during the month of Ramadan, then even afterwards they will be mindful of this. Otherwise, the purpose behind God Almighty especially drawing our attention towards the recitation of the Quran in this month would amount to nothing. A believer is one who is steadfast in searching for new ways to perform virtues and continues those deeds. Thus, this great guidance was granted to us by God Almighty through the Holy Prophetsa. Therefore, we ought to strive to our utmost in making this a means for us to attain guidance.
After mentioning this verse, God Almighty further states that one ought to observe fasts, however, for those who are sick or on a journey, it is imperative that they complete their missed fasts later. One cannot be exempted by simply giving fidya [alms]. God Almighty has conferred a favour upon us by permitting those on a journey or those who are sick to fast afterwards because God Almighty does not wish to put His people in hardship. God Almighty then stated that one ought to especially exalt God Almighty in the days of Ramadan; to remember Him and occupy oneself in His worship. Also that one ought to be grateful to God Almighty for having guided them and that God Almighty sent down such a complete book which contains perfect guidance. We can only truly show our gratitude when we act on those commandments.
Then in the following verse [of the Quran], God Almighty states, “In the month of Ramadan, My servants increase their endeavour and search for Me. Thus, I am near, and that I listen to their supplications. If they seek from Me with sincerity, I accept their prayers. However, in order for you to have your prayers accepted, you must first act on My commands.” God Almighty states that one ought to act on His commands and for one to increase in their belief in Him.
After offering supplications for only a few days, some people have the grievances that God Almighty did not accept their prayers. If we do not listen to God Almighty’s commandments and do not act on them, do not set out in search of His love, nor do we become His true servants and instead, only pray when we are faced with hardships or difficulties, then how can one complain that their prayers are not answered by God Almighty. Therefore, we must first reform ourselves and indeed, in order to reform ourselves, it is vital for one to pray for them to reap the blessings of God Almighty. Thus it is also vital to pray for this. In turn, God Almighty will provide the means for our contentment and satisfaction. How does God Almighty accept prayers? If God Almighty grants one contentment of the heart, then it means that their prayers have been accepted. In this manner God Almighty will listen to our supplications, just as He listens to the supplications of His sincere servants and those who are devoted wholly to Him. Hence, we must first take the step, and in turn, God Almighty will make special provisions to accept prayers and grant His nearness to the believers, especially in the month of Ramadan. Therefore, we ought to strive particularly in this regard, otherwise, we can never have any complaints against God Almighty that He does not accept our prayers.
With respect to the manner in which one ought to supplicate and how one can develop the condition whereby their prayers will be accepted, the Promised Messiahas has guided us in the following way:
“It is an established truth that the one who does not carry out virtuous deeds does not truly pray. In fact, that individual attempts to test God Almighty. Therefore, prior to offering supplications, it is vital that one ought to exhaust all of one’s faculties. This is in fact the meaning of prayer.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, p. 124)
The Promised Messiahas further says:
“Do not think that we already pray every day and that the Salat we offer is also prayer.”
Indeed, Salat is a form of prayer, however it is also important for one to develop the condition within themselves which is necessary to attain the true objective of prayer.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Prayer which follows true knowledge and is born of Divine grace is of an altogether different colour and complexion. Such prayer is a thing that consumes, it is a fire that melts, it is a magnetic force that draws Divine mercy, it is a death but ultimately gives life, it is a raging flood but finally turns into a boat. Through it, every wrong is redressed and every poison finally becomes an antidote.”
Thus this is the effect of true prayer. The Promised Messiahas further states:
“Blessed are the prisoners who never tire of supplication, for they shall one day be freed. Blessed are the blind who are not listless in their prayers, for they shall one day see. Blessed are those lying in graves who supplicate to God for help and succour, for one day they shall be taken out of their graves (i.e. those who are spiritually dead). Blessed are you who never tire of supplication, your soul melts in prayer, your eyes shed tears, and a fire kindles in your breast which takes you to dark closets and wildernesses so that you may taste solitude and drives you to restlessness and near madness, for you shall finally receive Divine bounties. The God to Whom I invite is very Gracious, Merciful, Modest, True and Faithful. He bestows His mercy on the humble ones. You too should be faithful and pray with all sincerity and faith so that He may bestow His mercy on you. Dissociate yourselves from the commotion of the world and do not give religious complexion to your egoistic disputes…
“God will show miracles to those who supplicate and those who ask will be blessed with extraordinary grace. Prayer comes from God and to Him it returns. Through prayer, God becomes as close to you as your very life…
“The first blessing of prayer is that it brings about a holy change in a person. In short, prayer is the elixir which turns a handful of dust into pure gold. It is water which washes away inner impurities. With such prayer the spirit melts and flows like water to fall prostrate on the threshold of the Holy One. It stands in the presence of God, bows down and prostrates before Him. The Salat taught by Islam is only its reflection. The standing of the spirit signifies that it shows readiness to suffer every hardship and to obey every command for the sake of God. The bowing down of the spirit before God means that by renouncing all other loves and relationships it has turned to God and belongs to Him alone. Its prostration is that it falls on the threshold of God and, forsaking all personal thoughts, loses the very identity of its existence. This is the prayer which helps to establish communion with God, and this is the prayer that Islamic Shariah has depicted in the prescribed daily Salat so that physical prayer may inspire spiritual prayer.” (Lecture Sialkot, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 222-224)
Thus, this is the condition that we need to develop within ourselves in order to witness the wonders of the acceptance of prayers. Along with keeping the fasts in the month of Ramadan, we must also partake in worship in its true sense and experience the acceptance of prayers. If our prayers are not being answered, the weakness is on our part, however God’s words can never be proved false. We must particularly pray during these days in order to improve our conditions. God Almighty indeed is close to His servants but during these days, He becomes even closer. We must prostrate before God Almighty with utmost sincerity in our obligatory prayers as well as our voluntary prayers. The Holy Prophetsa has stated that the first ten days of this month are to attain God Almighty’s mercy, the middle ten days are to seek His forgiveness and the last ten days one seeks to be saved from the hellfire. (Kanzul Ummal, Vol. 8, p. 477, Hadith 23714)
May God Almighty enable us to become His true servants and cover us with His mercy and forgiveness and we may become the recipients of the blessings of this month. During these days particularly pray for the Jamaat that may God Almighty turn the evil ploys of the opponents of Ahmadiyyat back on them and wherever plans are being contrived against the Jamaat, may God Almighty turn them back on them. Pray for the Muslim Ummah that may God Almighty stop them from carrying out cruelties and from taking the lives of one another. May they become truly sincere Muslims and recognise the Imam of the Age. Pray for the world in general because they are heading towards destruction at an alarming pace. May God Almighty grant mankind wisdom so that they may recognise God Almighty and be saved from this destruction.
After the Friday prayer, I shall lead two funeral prayers in absentia. Although they passed away two months ago but the details were not before me until now. The first funeral prayer is of respected Dr Tahir Aziz Ahmad Sahib, son of late Arshadullah Bhatti Sahib, from Islamabad [Pakistan] and the second funeral prayer is of Dr Iftikhar Ahmad Sahib, son of the late Dr Khawaja Nazir Ahmad Sahib from the USA. They both had travelled to the area of Fatah Jang in order to deal with some matters regarding their land, when Dr Iftikhar Ahmad Sahib’s workers kidnapped them on 13 March and later brutally killed them – To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.
In Pakistan, people who commit such murders have no fear of being caught if they kill an Ahmadi. This is because according to them, killing an Ahmadi is an act of virtue and also, they have the full support of the Maulvis [Muslim clerics] who will then try their utmost to set them free. Therefore, being Ahmadis also played a factor in their killings, and so in one way we can say that they attained martyrdom.
Dr Tahir Aziz Sahib was born on 27 November 1967 in Mitha Tiwana. Ahmadiyyat entered his family through his great paternal grandfather, Hazrat Maulvi Nur Ahmad Sahibra, from Lodhinangal, Gurdaspur. Hazrat Maulvi Nur Ahmad Sahibra refused to sign on Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalwi’s edict which declared the Promised Messiahas to be a disbeliever. Hazrat Maulvi Nur Ahmad Sahibra wrote a letter to Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalwi regarding this, which was published in the very first edition of Al Hakam on 10 October 1897.