The philosophy of sin and methods of safeguarding oneself

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At this instance, I also wish to exhort you in relation to the causes of sin. The elaboration in this regard is that in simple terms, when the love of anything other than God covers the heart of a person, the pure glass of the heart is sullied. As a result, gradually, the heart becomes completely dark and an inclination towards that which is besides God begins to take its place, thus distancing the heart from God. This is the root of associating partners with Allah. But when the heart is possessed by the love of Allah the Almighty and Him alone, this love reduces to ash any inclination to that which is besides God and makes the heart wholly devoted to Him alone; then this love becomes unwavering and assumes its rightful place to rule over the heart. When a limb happens to break and is fixed, this causes pain. But a broken limb is far more excruciating than the temporary pain experienced in fixing it, after which a person feels relief. However, if a limb is left broken, a time comes when it must be amputated completely. Similarly, in order to attain unwavering steadfastness, initially, in the elementary stages, an individual experiences a temporary pain and is confronted with difficulties as well, but when steadfastness is attained, there is everlasting relief and joy. When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was instructed فَاسۡتَقِمۡ کَمَاۤ اُمِرۡتَ (So stand thou upright, as thou hast been commanded) it is narrated that he had no white hairs. But then his hair began to turn white and the Holy Prophetsa said, “Surah Hud has made me old.”

Hence, until an individual becomes cognisant of death, they cannot turn towards virtues. I have told you that sin is bred when the love of anyone other than God takes root in the heart and slowly but surely envelops the heart.

Therefore, one way in which an individual can safeguard and protect themselves from sin is by remembering death and to constantly reflect over the wonders of God’s omnipotence, for this causes an increase in the love of Allah and in faith. Ultimately, when the love of Allah takes root in the heart, this is sufficient to incinerate sin.

The second means to safeguard oneself from sin is to remain conscious of death. If an individual kept death in mind, they would naturally abstain from evil-doings and faults; they would develop a new faith in God Almighty, and they would be enabled to repent and feel remorse for their past sins. What is the worth of a weak human? Life hangs by the thread of a breath. Why then does man not worry about the Hereafter and fear death and why does he waste away his entire life enslaved by carnal and beastly passions?

I have observed in recent times that even the Hindus have become cognisant of death as well. In Batala there was a man of about 70 or 72 years of age, named Kishan Chand, who belonged to the Bhandari caste. He is known to have left behind his family and possessions, and began living in Kashi, and it is here that he passed away. He did all of this on the hope that he would attain salvation. Although this view of his was false, the least we can derive from this is that he was conscious of death, and consciousness of death safeguards a person from becoming entirely engrossed in the pleasures of the world and becoming distanced from God. This man’s belief that dying in Kashi would become the means for salvation was due to the veil of creature-worship, which had cloaked his heart.

However, I am immensely disappointed when I see that Muslims are not conscious of death even to the extent of the Hindus. Look at the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him; just the one injunction alone that فَاسۡتَقِمۡ کَمَا امُِرۡتَ (So stand thou upright, as thou hast been commanded) was enough to make him old. How cognisant was the Holy Prophetsa of death? Why was the Holy Prophetsa so perceptive in these matters? So that all of us could take a lesson. Otherwise, what greater argument can there be of the pure and holy life of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, than the fact that Allah the Almighty appointed him as the Perfect Guide until the Day of Resurrection and a leader for all of mankind. All of the instances from the life of the Holy Prophetsa are a collection of practical teachings. Just as the Holy Quran is a book comprising the words of Allah the Almighty, the law of nature is the book of His actions, as it were. Similarly, the life of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is a book of actions, which is an exegesis and commentary of the Holy Quran.

I began to develop white hairs when I had only reached the age of 30 and at that time, the late Mirza Sahib, my father, was still alive. White hair is also a sign of death, in a way. When a person reaches old age, which is characterised by these very white hairs, they can understand that the days of death are fast approaching. But it is unfortunate that even when such a time comes, man feels no worry. A believer can even learn sublime morals from a bird, for example, and other animals because the book of God Almighty is open before them. All of the things that Allah the Almighty has created in the world, are a means of both physical and spiritual comfort for man.

I have read in the account of Hazrat Junayd, may the mercy of Allah be upon him, that he would say, “I learned the art of meditation from the cat.” If a human being observes closely, they will find that even animals clearly display moral mannerisms.

In my view, all of the beasts and birds individually display single moral characteristics and man encompasses them all collectively. The soul is a compendium of qualities and this is why it is also referred to as a microcosm, for all the qualities present in all of God’s creatures are collectively encompassed within man. Then, all of the excellences present in mankind are collectively comprised within the person of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is why the Holy Prophetsa was commissioned for the entire world and was described as “a mercy for all peoples.” Allah the Exalted states:

اِنَّکَ لَعَلٰی خُلُقٍ عَظِيۡمٍ

“And thou dost surely possess high moral excellences.”

This verse alludes to this very compendium of human excellences. It is in light of this that one can reflect over the sublime nature of the morals of Prophet Muhammadsa and it was for this reason that all the excellences of prophethood in its completest form reached their pinnacle in him. It is an established fact that everything comes to an end when the primary purpose for which it exists reaches its climax.

For example, when each and every point in a book has been expounded completely, the book comes to an end, as it were. Similarly, the primary purpose of messengership and prophethood was completely achieved in the person of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him; this is the meaning of “the seal of prophethood.” For this is a system which advanced with time and reached its final limit through the perfect man.

(Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfuzat, Vol. 1, pp. 168-171)

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