Monday, May 30, 2011

The Prayer


Worship is common to all religions. What differs is only the manner and style of worship. That which is unique in Islamic mode of worship is that it contains features from the mode of prayers found in other religions. Some people pray to God in a standing posture and some in a sitting posture. In some religions people remember God by kneeling to Him, while others bow down to Him. Some stand before Him with folded arms, and others with arms hanging at their sides. In short there is no single mode of worship common to all religions as a whole. It is fascinating however to note that Islam instructs its followers concerning the manner of prayer so comprehensively, that all the postures of worship found in other religions are symbolically represented in the mode of Muslim prayer. Another step forward in the direction of ushering in an era of universal religion, it seems.

The institution of Islamic prayer is a most highly developed system, covering every human requirement. It should be membered at the outset that the purpose of worship is not just bowing to a superior being and paying homage to His greatness, as if God created man only for satiating His egotistic desire of being praised. All the purposes mentioned in relation to the philosophy of worship and the manner in which a Muslim is required to conduct his prayer, makes it manifestly clear that the benefit of prayer is drawn by the worshipper himself and in no way can it be taken as a favour to God. The Holy Quran declares that God does not stand in need of mens' praises. He is so great in His nobility and so sublime in His character that the praises of His creatures do not add anything to His magnanimity and majesty. The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam once mentioned that if the entire mankind had turned away from God and committed the worst possible sins, one and all, they would not diminish His universal grandeur even as much as when someone dips a sharp needle into a vast ocean; the water one finds adhered to the surface of the needle would be far more than the sins of the entire mankind could take away from the glory of God.

So, worship in the Holy Quran is only prescribed for the sake of the worshipper himself. It is a vast subject, and we can only illustrate a few points in relation to this as mentioned in the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

Remembrance of God and pondering over His attributes during the prayer helps man in refining his spirit, bringing it more into harmony with the nature of God. This is central to the Islamic prayer. Man was made in the image of his creator, and he must ever strive to gain closeness to Him. This is a lesson in nobility which is ultimate. Those who train themselves to think like Godre and to act like Him within the limitations of the human sphere, constantly improve in their relation to all other human beings and even other forms of life.

In human terms it can be better understood with respect to mother's attitude towards her children. For the one who truly gains nearness to a mother, all that is dear to the mother will naturally become dear to him as well. Acquiring the attitude of the creator is like acquiring the attitude of an artist to his works of art. It is impossible for one to be near God and distance himself from His creation. Again, the term used for worship in the Quran is derived from a word which is so significant and different from terms used in other religions. Ain, Be, Dael ('A', 'B','D') are the three root letters which have the basic meaning of slavery. Like a slave who loses everything to his master and follows him in all respects, the worshipper in Islam must do the same in his relation to God. The infinitive used for worship has the connotation of following in the footsteps of someone. That is the ultimate in the imitation of God's attributes. The Quran also says:

Verily, Prayer prevents the worshipper from indulging in anything that is undignified or indecent. Surah Al-Ankabut (Ch. 29. V 46)

This verse has both positive and negative connotations, both highly essential for cultivating ideal human conduct. Thus in its negative connotation, it helps the worshipper by liberating him from sins of all types. In its positive connotation it educates man, fines his character and cultivates his qualities to such sublimity as he becomes worthy of communion with God.

Another area which is highly important in this regard is the role worship plays in developing one's soul. According to Islam, each human soul in relation to the carnal human body can be likened unto a child in the uterus of the mother. To give birth to a healthy child requires so many influences that are constantly transferred from the mother to the embryo, and the child at a later stage. If the mother's influences on the embryo are unhealthy, the child is born as congenitally ill; if they are healthy then the child is born enjoying perfect health. Of all the influences that work towards the making and modification of the human soul, prayer is the most important single factor.

The institution of Islamic prayer is rich in so many profound lessons as are not found even fractionally in other religions. Islam admonishes both congregational and individual prayer. The congregational prayers are held in a manner which is amazingly well organised and meaningful.

There is one leader who leads the congregation in all such prayers. That leader is not an ordained priest; anyone whom the people consider worthy of this task is chosen as the 'Imam'. The assembly is admonished to be arrayed behind the Imam in perfectly straight lines, each worshipper standing close to the other, shoulder to shoulder, without any distance between the two worshippers. They follow the Imam perfectly in everything that he does. As he bows they bow, as he stands they stand. As he prostrates they prostrate. Even if the Imam commits a mistake and does not condone it even after a reminder, all followers must repeat the same. To question the Imam during the prayer is not permitted. All face the same direction without exception, facing the first house of worship ever built for the benefit of mankind. No-one is permitted to reserve any special place behind the Imam. In this regard the rich and poor are treated with absolute equality, so also the old and the young. Whoever reaches the mosque ahead of others has the prior option to sit wherever he pleases. None has the right to remove others from the place that they occupy, except for reasons of security etc., in which case it becomes an administrative measure. Thus the Islamic system of prayer is rich not only in spiritual instruction, but also in communal and organisational instruction.

All mosques are frequented five times a day, a task which appears to be over-much demanding to a casual observer. This aspect should be further elaborated to build a more comprehensive picture of the role of congregational prayers in the Muslims' way of life. Of course in an ideal Muslim society, where mosques are provided within reach of almost every citizen, the five time congregational prayer becomes a routine way of all Muslims' life. The midday prayer, which ordinarily is more problematic, is performed in Muslim societies during the midday break from work. Thus it is not only a lunch break, but is slightly extended to accommodate the performance of prayer as well. The next prayer after the midday prayer is the afternoon prayer, which is performed almost immediately after return from an ordinary day's work. Then no prayer is permitted until after sunset. The time between the two is spent in outdoor activities like sports, shopping, walks, visits to friends and relatives etc. It is a period of relaxation in which prayers are practically forbidden, except for the quiet remembrance of God which becomes a constant feature with some believers. At sunset, the night of the believer begins with the sunset prayer, after which there is again a time for relaxation, dining, and so on. The night is capped before retirement with the last prayer which is called Isha. It is discouraged to stay awake after Isha in wasteful occupations of gossip and vain talk etc.

The Muslims are encouraged to acquire a habit of early to bed and early to rise. The day, next morning, begins routinely in the small hours before dawn. The prayer which is performed at the end of the night is called Tahajjud. It is not obligatory, but is a very highly emphasised optional prayer. The dawn ushers in the time for morning prayer, which is called Al-Fajar. Optional prayers are not recommended between Fajar and sunrise, for obvious reasons. Then till Zuhar, the midday prayer, only two optional prayers are mentioned; otherwise the pre-Zuhar period is expected to be spent in normal day to day activities.

Looking at the institution of prayer in Islam from another angle, it is intriguing to note how well organised, disciplined and comprehensive it is. There are certain prayers of congregation in which recitation of the Quran is done in a loud, audible voice, in a semi-singing tone, which does not exactly conform to the concept of singing, but which has a rhythmical tone that is deeply penetrating. The Holy Prophet (sa) also advised that there should be a shadow of sadness in the tone in which the Quran is recited; this makes it more touching, with the meaning of the verses sinking deeper into the recesses of the heart. In some prayers, particularly the two afternoon prayers, there is no loud chanting; this goes well with the general mood of the time. Even the birds cease to sing during the early parts of the afternoon, and there is a general air of silence covering the hubbub of normal work. The morning prayer, the prayer after sunset and the prayer after the fall of night all include periods where chanting of verses is the routine practice.

The prayer can be further divided into two categories. As against congregational prayers, individual prayers are also highly emphasised. In congregational prayers, society pays homage to God collectively and openly. In individual prayers, emphasis is laid on privacy, and there should be no effort to display such prayers to anyone. Similarly the late night prayer is performed in perfect privacy. Members of the same house try to find their own niches, and even husband and wife try to say their prayers separately so that communion with God becomes a highly personal affair.

It has been observed that the institution of the five time congregational prayer has worked very well, for over fourteen hundred years or so, for the protection and preservation of this holy institution. The mosques have been the mainstay in keeping this noble institution alive. They also serve as education centres for young and old, and throughout history they have played the most prominent role in religious teachings and instruction.

The places of worship in Islam, whether congregational or private, are kept meticulously clean. Everyone is expected to take his shoes off before entering such places. Although in every prayer the worshipper has to touch the floor with his forehead, sometimes briefly and sometimes for longer periods, it is surprising that no skin diseases have been transferred from forehead to forehead in the Muslim society. Some may attribute this to the high standard of cleanliness and some to the blessings of God, but this is a well observed fact.

As far as the contents of the prayer go, they are of two types:

l. A formal routine recitation of verses of the Quran and other prayers which are done essentially in the language of the Quran, which is Arabic. All worshippers are expected to know the meaning of what they are reciting, otherwise they will deprive themselves of the immense benefit which they may draw from the meaningful recitation. It will make this discussion too lengthy if we were to go into the details of the contents, but such readers as are interested in further study can always consult the relevant literature.

2. To the second category belong the individual prayers in one's own language, in which one is free to beg as he pleases. This second category is controversial in the sense that many a school of jurisprudence disallow such practices and insist on the recitation of only the prescribed form, irrespective of whether the worshipper understands that or not. However, they do appreciate the need for private and personal prayers, so they suggest praying in one's own it language after the formal prayer has ended and not during its course. We, the Ahmadi Muslims, recommend and practice the former option of praying to God in one's own language as one pleases during the formal prayer.

As we have amply demonstrated above, the institution of Islamic prayer is a highly developed one, where the individual is required to pray five times a day, both individually and in congregation with others. Islamic prayer thus plays an important role in the life of a Muslim, and in the spiritual and moral upbringing of the individual.

An elementary study of Islam by
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conditions of Initiation (Bai'at)

Conditions of Initiation (Bai'at)
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community


Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
The Promised Messiah and Mahdi (peace be upon him)

The initiate shall solemnly promise:

I That he/she shall abstain from Shirk (association of any partner with God) right up to the day of his/her death.
II That he/she shall keep away from falsehood, fornication, adultery, trespasses of the eye, debauchery, dissipation, cruelty, dishonesty, mischief and rebellion; and will not permit himself/herself to be carried away by passions, however strong they might be.
III That he/she shall regularly offer the five daily prayers in accordance with the commandments of God and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); and shall try his/her best to be regular in offering the Tahajud (pre-dawn supererogatory prayers) and invoking Darood (blessings) on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); that he/she shall make it his/her daily routine to ask forgiveness for his/her sins, to remember the bounties of God and to praise and glorify Him.
IV That under the impulse of any passions, he/she shall cause no harm whatsoever to the creatures of Allah in general, and Muslims in particular, neither by his/her tongue nor by his/her hands nor by any other means.
V That he/she shall remain faithful to God in all circumstances of life, in sorrow and happiness, adversity and prosperity, in felicity and trial; and shall in all conditions remain resigned to the decree of Allah and keep himself/herself ready to face all kinds of indignities and sufferings in His way and shall never turn away from it at the onslaught of any misfortune; on the contrary, he/she shall march forward.
VI That he/she shall refrain from following un-islamic customs and lustful inclinations, and shall completely submit himself/herself to the authority of the Holy Quran; and shall make the Word of God and the Sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the guiding principle in every walk of his/her life.
VII That he/she shall entirely give up pride and vanity and shall pass all his/her life in humbleness, cheerfulness, forbearance and meekness.
VIII That he/she shall hold faith, the honor of faith, and the cause of Islam dearer to him/her than his/her life, wealth, honor, children and all other dear ones.
IX That he/she shall keep himself/herself occupied in the service of God's creatures for His sake only; and shall endeavor to benefit mankind to the best of his/her God-given abilities and powers.
X That he/she shall enter into a bond of brotherhood with this humble servant of God, pledging obedience to me in everything good, for the sake of Allah, and remain faithful to it till the day of his/her death; that he/she shall exert such a high devotion in the observance of this bond as is not to be found in any other worldly relationship and connections demanding devoted dutifulness.

(Translated from Ishtehar Takmeel-e-Tabligh, January 12, 1889)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra), the fourth Head of Ahmadiyya Community
The Review of Religions, November 1996

Questioner: How can I find God? How do I know that a dream is from God?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Firstly, the question as to how we can find God is both difficult and easy to answer. In fact, it is not within the power of man to find God by himself. It is only God who can lead people to Himself. So, how does the journey begin - this is the question. According to the Holy Qur'an, if a desire is born in you to search for God, to meet Him, to be close to Him - if that desire is honest and a man or a woman begins to search for God on their own, then it is Allah, God himself, who leads them on to himself. In this regard, the Holy Qur'an states, (in Ch. 29, v. 70), that, all those who strive in our path, who want to reach Us, it is We Who would lead them on to Us and, most certainly, We do lead them on to Us. So, all that man needs is a sincere desire to be close to God.

As far as the second part of your question is concerned, the dreams from God have their own signs which are fulfilled in due course and sometimes they are in a language which cannot be understood by the person who has the dream. However, Godly people who are well versed in the art of interpreting dreams, can 'read' them and their interpretation comes true. So, the dreams from God have an inner quality and the person who sees a dream which is from God is also specially moved. He or she knows that something has happened, that this dream is not an ordinary dream and then in the events that follow he or she begins to see the signs of its fulfillment.

I quote the example of the dream of the king of Egypt at the time of Joseph. The king saw a strange dream. He saw seven cows which were strong and healthy and seven others, very weak and emaciated. The seven weak cows ate the seven strong cows. Now, this is not psychological. It is against human thinking. If a man had invented this dream, he should have thought of the strong cows eating up the small, weak ones. The opposite happens and then, at the same time, he saw in the dream that there were seven ears of corn which were green and seven which hardly had any corn on them. He could not understand the message because he had not made it up himself. His courtiers, great scholars of his time, said it was just a result of his own thoughts, nothing else. But when Joseph (as), a Prophet of Allah, heard it, he interpreted it. He said that there will be seven years which will be good for you and you will reap abundant crops but these seven years will be followed by seven lean years when there will be a drought and there will practically be no food. So, save what you harvest in the seven years of abundant crops for the seven lean years and in this way you will face no problems. Now, this dream came true in a strange way. The interpretation came true to the letter. So, what better sign could be presented to show that this dream was from God!

Similarly, at an individual level, I have seen many a times that people write to me about a dream of which they do not know the meaning. When I interpret the dream and tell them the meaning, in writing, it happens just like that. So the dreams from God have an internal language. We should know that language otherwise we would not be able to understand the dreams.

Questioner: Where is belief - where is faith when so many innocent children die and so may women are cruelly treated and die? Where is there faith in the world?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Why do they die, innocently? Who is responsible? Is it the crookedness in man or is it God who is responsible? If you honestly and sincerely investigate the causes of human suffering, you will come to the definite conclusion that it is man who is cruel to himself because of his selfishness, because of his ego in relation to his national and racial preferences, group interests, and so on. It is he who is responsible for cruelty to other human beings and then this cruelty builds up, and when it builds up it also results in irregular and distorted births. Again, ultimately man is responsible for that. For instance, if you look at the industry which is called the pharmaceutical industry you will be amazed to find that it is the new drugs which are largely responsible for the distortion of children at birth. Again, you will find that it is the high level of radiation in the atmosphere which is becoming responsible for many a distorted birth of children. Moreover, if you investigate honestly the causes of suffering, of skin cancer, of lung cancer, and so on, you will always be led to human error, not to that of God. If man lived in accordance with the will of God, this earth would be a heaven on earth - it is man who has turned it into hell. God is not responsible for this. That is why there is need for religion, there is need for God. If they turn to God then things will become much much better than you find them today.

I give just one example. Religion requires you to dispense human affairs with absolute justice. All religions are unanimous in this. It is not just a question of Islam. Christianity, Judaism, name any religion and it will support the same view, that man must dispense his affairs with absolute justice. Now take the element of justice out and the hell is born in human affairs. Where is the justice in the United Nations? Where was the justice for their treatment of the Iraq-Iran affair, of the Iraq-Kuwait affair, of the Bosnian affair, and many others? Everywhere it is man who is responsible because, in the name of justice, man is behaving most unjustly, in order to serve his own group interest. Suffering, there is, of course. But God is not responsible for it. Man is responsible because he rejects the teachings of God. If, for instance, you were to investigate economic discrepancies, economic problems, some economic suffering in a country, you will find, every time, that it is born out of human injustice in the economy. Similarly, political suffering is born out of human injustice in the political sphere. So, everywhere it is man who is responsible not, God.

I will quote one other example which will clearly prove the case in point. In the case of Bosnia and the treatment of Bosnia by Europe in the beginning. Whenever it was asked on some programme or other on television, 'why don't you interfere and stop this nonsense?' Every European politician said, 'you don't know how impossible it is, how intricate the problem is. If we permit force for bringing about peace in Bosnia, it will turn into a Balkan war, it will turn into a World war, it will get out of hand'. This was sheer non-sense! When America ultimately decided that force is the only weapon to which the other parties will listen, within a matter of weeks the whole problem was gone. Man is a hypocrite. Man is unjust and when it comes to telling lies, even at the highest levels of human leadership, they are not ashamed of telling lies. So man is responsible, not God, for all the suffering.

(Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Islam, makes himself available on various occasions for people of all beliefs to raise any issues or questions they may have. Presented below is a selection of questions which were addressed in two sessions, one of which was held in U.K. on 12 May 1996 and the other was held on 25 May 1996 in Germany.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Attainment of Inner Peace

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra)
The Review of Religions, February 1997

Attainment of Inner Peace

Questioner: There are many people who have no inner peace. What does Islam say about this?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The idea of 'inner peace' is something which is not properly defined. Unless it is well defined you cannot attempt to attain it. Peace is a concept which differs among the different schools of philosophies. For instance, the Yogic peace has a different meaning. It only means that by exercise or by delving deeper into one's soul, a person finds himself to be without any agitation. So, the absence of agitation in man's desires is called peace. A similar concept of peace is found in Buddhism as well as in some other Chinese religions. For instance, in Taoism, peace means delving deeper into one's own soul until one strikes the fountain-head of truth. So what is called Buddha in Buddhism is called Tao in Taoism, which means truth that is found in every nature - so when you reach truth, you reach peace. This is a different view about peace which is found in various oriental religions. However, in the major divinely revealed religions of the world, which are Judaism, Christianity and, at the end, Islam, peace is not just one dimensional or individual concept. Peace is, first, to be at rest with one's own desires and ambitions and having a balance, which is an internal affair, and then, secondly, to have peace with the world around and to assure everyone that one poses no threat of danger to them - 'no danger will emanate from me in the other's direction'. It is this wider concept of peace which you find in major religions. In this concept of peace, no one can be at peace with himself until he is also at peace with his neighbours and with others. This is also the concept of peace in Islam.

In Islam the concept of peace is two-fold. Firstly, to be at peace with "God" and then, secondly, to be at "peace with oneself" and "with the rest of the world".

The concept of peace in Islam is the most comprehensive of all the religions and philosophies that I have just mentioned and the key to it lies in the fact that in Islam the word 'peace' does not only mean to be at rest or to have a compromise of a perfect understanding with the rest of the world. It also means submission. The meaning of this one single word has two aspects. One is peace as ordinarily understood and the other is peace in the sense of submission. So, according to the Qur'anic concept of peace, no peace on earth can ever be conceived, not to mention established, by human effort. It cannot even be conceived theoretically without man finding God, the Creator, without recognising the hand of the Creator universally at work in nature. So, once man recognises his Creator then the second step is to be at peace with him and this peace has this dual meaning: Firstly, you are not to do anything which creates a distance between you and the creator, and secondly, submission. So, both these meanings join hands at this stage. Submission to the will of God is the only means of attaining peace with God and this is a declaration which is proven by human experience. It has a profound wisdom which is universally experienced by man. If children are at peace with their parents, it is impossible for them to defy their orders and wishes and yet be at peace.

Hence, if you delve deeper into the meaning of peace you will realise that ultimately the meaning of peace is submission. If you submit to the authority or the will or the desire of someone so completely that nothing in you is at war with the desire, will, or the way of life or the style of someone whom you love, (you will be at peace with that person). Unless you do this, you can't get peace. So in Islam the journey to peace begins with the attainment of peace with your Lord the Creator and for this you must understand his attributes. We must know what He is and this in Islam cannot be achieved through delving deeper into yourself because you can make many mistakes. If there is a God, He has to be an external reality. If He is an external reality, then He must introduce himself to man and that is what actually happened in all the divine religions - it was God who revealed himself to mankind. It was never man or woman who by his/her own efforts reached God, without help from God. First this much should be understood. I will then come to the latter part of the concept of peace, peace within a person and peace between people.

The questioner has asked a very profound question and to give a brief answer is extremely difficult. So I am trying to build the answer little by little, in different sections. I hope you will bear with me and understand that your question needs to be answered logically, in detail, with regard to its various aspects. First of all, I return to the idea of finding peace with God. Why is this essential? Why is it that no peace can be established without returning to God? God is the ultimate reality who has created human beings according to his own attributes and peace means a complete balance between man's attributes and the attributes of God. When there is no friction in any aspect of human behaviour caused by being at variance with God's attributes, this then is the ultimate peace. No other definition of peace can hold good but this one which can be explained and demonstrated at length but I am trying to make the answer brief and that is why I have just claimed it. If you think deeper on this question, I am sure you will agree with this claim that man's attributes can only find peace when they find themselves at one with God's attributes. Whenever the two join, they become alive and there is peace Whenever they are at war, there is friction, and there is disturbance, psychological as well as otherwise. It is the disturbance which is created within humans which causes all the disturbances in human relationships with each, other and in the international relationships between people and between states.

I can explain this by demonstrating to you how man's attributes can become at one with God's attributes. But what do I mean by that? Everybody knows that in almost all religions, God is defined alike in his attributes, alike in almost all religions. They differ with each other in other things, but the concept of God is expressed as perfect goodness. No flaw can be attributed to God's attribute or behavioural conduct, in the concept of God in any religion. All tell universally that God is true. All claim universally that God is just. All claim, without variance, that God is compassionate, merciful, forgiving. Now, these are the attributes that I had in mind when I said human attributes must come at one with God's attributes and there you can never be mistaken about peace. Let's begin with truth.

Only when man becomes true can he find peace with himself; otherwise he will claim to be something while deep inside he knows he is not that something. There will always be contradiction between man and his soul as long as he is not true. So, truth is the most important fundamental first step towards peace and this is the meaning of becoming like God. You cannot be God but you can imitate God in all the good attributes of God which we have also received from God as his creation and when you become true to yourself only then will you be able to become true to your children, your husband, your wife, your relatives and your society and when you enlarge the role of this single factor then nations can become true to each other. Even if you were to forget about all the other attributes of God, if you were just true, then you will realise that the peace within you is not a confined, isolated experience of a person within himself. The moment he reaches peace through imitating God, he is immediately introduced as a true servant, as a humble creature of God. He is introduced as such, through his attributes, to all his surroundings, whether someone is related to him or not. If someone is true he will be identified as a godly person by all whether they believe in God or do not believe in God because the attribute of truth is in itself a godly character. Even the atheists accept truth - they know it is good. So to be godlike but in humility, to try to achieve his attributes is the only passage to peace which can be advised and which does not become a confined experience within man. It becomes a universally shared experience between people in the same society and between people of different nations.

Again, I will emphasise that this is the only formula for creating universality in man. Without creating universality in man it is impossible to dream of peace and this universality can only be achieved through the image of God which is universal. Through Him, man can achieve such characteristics as are universally loved so that the human community, the human race, can become a single species if the human race submits to the will of God and becomes or attempts to become like God. Herein meet the two different meanings of peace, that is, peace in the ordinary sense, and peace in the sense of submission.

((Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the Fourth Head of the International Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, offers on various occasions the opportunity to people of all faiths and beliefs to put to him any questions that may be of concern to them.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peace & International Relations according to Islam

Peace & International Relations according to Islam:
Among the attributes of God, the Holy Quran mentions that He is "the Source of peace and the Bestower of security" (59:23). The establishment of peace and maintenance of security must, therefore, be the constant objective of all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Every pursuit and activity which disturbs peace is severely condemned in Islam.
We find specific injunctions in the Holy Quran:

"And create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order.. "
(7:57; 11:86; 29:37)

Mischief and wickedness are condemned in several other verses and Muslims are commanded to work wholly for peace.

Islam draws attention to factors which tend to disturb or destroy peace and order, and deprecates them. Domination of one group by another in the domestic sphere, or of one people by another in the international sphere is a potent cause of disturbance of peace and is therefore strongly condemned. Economic exploitation of one people or country by another inevitably leads to domination by the exploiters, and develops into a potential threat to peace. The Holy Quran prohibits such exploitation and an economy based on exploitation cannot be beneficial in its consequences, nor can it endure.

Islam visualizes an association of strong and stable states allied together in the pursuance of peace, freedom of conscience and the promotion of human welfare. Treaties or covenants between nations may have to be drawn up which should be done in a straightforward language and should not be evaded or repudiated under the temptation of securing some advantage. In case of difficulties and disputes, it is the duty of Muslims to bring about a peaceful settlement and adjustment.

The Holy Quran teaches that God has sent His revelation to all people from time to time. Many of prophets of the Old Testament are mentioned by name and so is Jesus who with other prophets is honoured and revered by all Muslims. Indeed, the Quran requires belief in the truth of all these prophets. Islam is thus unique and distinct in requiring an affirmation in all prophets wherever they appeared and therefore it seeks to bring about reconciliation between the followers of different faiths and to establish a basis of respect and honour among them.
The Quran says:
"Surely, those who believe and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians - whichever party from among these truly believes in ALLAH and the Last Day and does good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon then nor shall they grieve (2:63)"

The same message is repeated in 5:70. The basic unity of the followers of all faiths is emphatically stressed in the Holy Quran and the creation of discord and disunity by terrorism or otherwise has no place in Islam.

In the domain of international relations, religion and inter-religious relations occupy an important position. Unfortunately, comparatively little attention is paid to this aspect of human relations. It is assumed that religion is a private matter for each individual and should, therefore, have no direct connection with the political, social aspects of life. This assumption is not justified. Islam being an egalitarian religion, is not just a personal faith, but an all-encompassing codes of values and conduct. Islam is and will be a vital factor in human relations and there is a good ground of hope that it might progressively become more effective in promoting unity and accord rather than continue to be required on the part of religious and political leaders to achieve that goal.

(Learn more about Islam & Terrorism: )

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hide do we in the Hidden Friend

Sermon Delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Hudhur said when the enemy tries his utmost in persecuting and eliminating God’s people, he adopts ploys that belie humanity to indiscriminatingly torture people of all ages. Such brutality is to distant God’s people from following ways that attain God’s pleasure. At such times, steadfast and resolute believers turn ever more to God to seek His help. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has captured the scenario of the enemy exceeding all limits and the resulting condition of the believers in an Urdu poetic verse:

When the enemy exceeds in noise and clamour

Hide do we in the Hidden Friend

Hudhur said thus is the model of believers who are victimised and indeed, it should be their model. Today, it fits the state of affairs of the Ahmadis alone. The poetic verse makes it clear to the enemy that while he persecutes in the assumption that we will beg for mercy, he is mistaken. We are the followers of the great Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who demonstrated a model of supreme courage and with his power of holiness his Companions too displayed great bravery and regardless of extreme cruelty only ever raised the slogan of One God and only ever turned to Him. Thus, when the commandment is to follow this model, how could we be in step with our opponents? Indeed, all their ploys will rebound on them and they will never see their desires fulfilled because in following the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) we have seen God’s practical testimony to be in his favour. How could we leave our God Who has placed tranquillity in the hearts of the Community at every challenging occasion. It is not possible for us to leave our God and make these people our idols and if they are persecuting us in these presumptions, they are wrong. We aspire to be included among those about whom God states: ‘Those to whom men said, ‘People have mustered against you, therefore fear them,’ but this only increased their faith, and they said, ‘Sufficient for us is Allah, and an excellent Guardian is He.’ (3:174).

Hudhur said the unanimity of the enemy increases us in our faith because we note that it is in fulfilment of a prophecy of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) that all the sects will get together against the community that will have God’s support in the time of the Messiah. In the aforementioned verse, God’s quality of being ‘Sufficient’ encompasses every aspect. Who else can better understand the matters of His servants and seize the enemy and declare blessings for the believers? Hudhur said those who ‘hide in their Friend’ endure all difficulties to seek the pleasure of God and God states about them: It is these on whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy, and it is these who are rightly guided.’ (2:158). They do not let go of their God even after enduring the harshest of tortures, on the contrary, they try and hide/absorb in their God even more. God states that these are the people who will attain spiritual heights and will also be granted material blessings and they indeed are the guided people.

Hudhur said our opponents may insist that as they are in accord with each other they are in the right, but God states that when believers turn to Him in times of trial and safeguard their belief against throngs and remain calm after professing: ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.’ (2:157) are indeed the guided ones. The testimony of the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) goes against them, their unanimity does not make them the guided ones. On the contrary, to continue to endure persecution and to turn to God with ever more sincerity is what makes one the recipient of God’s mercy and a body of people who follow this may be in the minority at the present but it is indeed the guided one. In order to attain God’s mercy and blessings, to be declared guided necessitates that one absorbs/loses oneself in God. God, Who is not apparent to the materialistic worldly person, but is of course evident everywhere and guides those who believe Him. He is identified from His blessings, is identified from acceptance of prayers and He contends with the enemy Himself.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said, ‘lose yourself in the God Who grants all the blessings and Who accepts prayers.’ Hudhur said this alone is the formula which has always come in useful for believers. When the world persecutes God’s peoples He and His angels shower every blessing on those who ‘hide/absorb themselves in their Friend’ and declare that regardless of the brutality of the enemy, it is these people who are recipients of God’s mercy and blessings and are indeed the guided ones. In addition, guidance of the world is also associated with them.

Hudhur said he would say to all those Ahmadis who are currently enduring persecution and who write to him to put greater focus in their prayers. Those who are not directly troubled should pray for their brothers and sisters. They should not be perturbed by their problems of worldly nature and should remember their brother and sisters who are severely victimized. A true believer feels the pain and troubles of his brother as his own trouble.

Addressing Ahmadis of all the Jama’ats around the world, Hudhur drew attention to the persecuted brothers and said that each Ahmadi should offer two Nafl Prayer a day for the persecuted Ahmadis, those who are deprived of their civic rights through vicious laws. If Each Ahmadi presents his/her restlessness before God in an increased manner, God will take them in His refuge in a greater way. Hudhur said Ahmadi students write to him about how their peers harass them, so much so that even some teachers and lecturers resort to despicable views and have forgotten the ethics of their profession. Hudhur said there was a time when teachers imparted knowledge to everyone regardless of religious background etc. But today, those who deem themselves to be the best of Muslims are making a mockery of the honourable profession. They claim they do so out of a ‘sense of honour for religion’. As a matter of fact it is nothing but the height of ignorance. They do not even understand their profession. God states: ‘…and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice…’ (5:9) but they are educated ignoramuses who do injustice by following the ignorant mullah. One solution for the believers for all the persecution is to turn to God, to lose themselves in Him. This persecution is not limited to Pakistan. Oil rich Muslim states are creating divisions of hatred in poorer countries. They claim to be ‘People of Arab’ and assume that none knows the Holy Qur’an as they do but they do not want to know the aforementioned Quranic commandment of: ‘…and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice…’. They may know the Qur’an very well, but they have forgotten Quranic commandments and this is the very reason why the Messiah was needed to come. Rather than serve Islam, they have brought Islam in disrepute and are responsible for the enmity against Islam. It would not be far-fetched if they were doing everything on the provocation of the enemies of Islam. Contrary to this, the Ahmadiyya Community will InshaAllah take the message of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to the world.

Hudhur said our enemies are enacting their ploys, be that in Pakistan, India, African countries or Indonesia. Recently they have created disorder on an Indonesian island. Persecuted Ahmadis returned to their homes there after a period of time to resettle but extremist mullahs, who are paid by some countries, burnt down their homes and beat them up. As a result they had to abandon their homes and their properties. Hudhur said believers will continue to turn to God when faced with such persecution and this alone is the weapon of our triumph and this is the very weapon which will make the enemy’s evil rebound on him. Apart from this, we do not have anything and the greater the intensity with which we will use this weapon, the quicker we will see the triumph of our Community. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘God has repeatedly told me through revelation that whatever will come to pass will be through prayer.’ Hudhur read out a few other extracts of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) about the significance of prayer. Some are as follows:

‘The best prayer is that God’s pleasure and deliverance from sin is attained.’

‘God waits that believers pray to Him so that He may grant’.

‘Prayer is like a sweet fountain availed to believers. Whenever a believer wishes, he can satiate himself on this fountain.’

‘The great aspect that is achieved with prayer is Divine closeness.’

‘Certainly, consider that prayer is a great treasure.’

Hudhur said in this age the weapon of prayer is a significant weapon that has been granted to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). And it is through it alone that Lekh Ram, Alexander Dowie and every other opponent met his bad ending. Claimants to demolish Qadian were also contended with through prayer. Those who called Ahmadiyyat a cancer and claimed to reduce us to holding beggar’s bowl were also contended with prayer insomuch that not even a sign of them remained. Hudhur said today too, the opposing storms will rebound through prayer and the world will witness the progress of Ahmadiyyat. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that the correct station of prayer is Salat, thus we should offer two Nafl Prayers for our persecuted Ahmadi brothers and sisters and make it obligatory on us. Hudhur said the following quote of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) should always be remembered: ‘When a believer’s prayer attains complete sincerity and absolute devotion to God then God feels mercy towards him.’ Hudhur explained that in order to attain complete sincerity and absolute devotion to God, it is needed to lose oneself in the Hidden Friend. This will safeguard one as if in a fortified enclave guarded by armed soldiers. May God enable us to understand this very important point and also to put it in practice.

In conclusion Hudhur read the Quranic prayer: ‘… ‘O our Lord, pour forth steadfastness upon us, and make our steps firm, and help us against the disbelieving people.’ (2:251)