Moral Training of the Child
Now a few hints on the moral education and training of the child:
In light of the foregoing exposition of virtue and morality, only a
child who possesses the following characteristics will be considered
to be morally educated:
- As soon as a child is born, the first step towards its education
is to proclaim Azaan into its ears. I need not elaborate this
point further as I have already dealt with it in the course of
- A child should be kept neat and tidy and, should be properly
cleaned after stools. Some of you might say that this particular
chore belongs to the mother. This is true. But it is equally
true that the mother will perform it properly only if the father
is properly orientated in this regard. It is men's duty to bring
home to women the fact that an unclean child will not have a
clean mind. Unfortunately not much attention is paid to this
matter. Women are sometimes guilty of grave negligence in this
regard. During parties, they would let the child defecate over
a rag which they do not even care to throw away. In the environs
of Qadian, rustic women sometimes let a shoe perform this office
and did not hesitate to foul the area by throwing away the
excrement indiscriminately. How can you look after the inner
cleanliness of the child if you do not look after its external
cleanliness? Let the child have a clean body. Its impact on his
mind will be great. As a consequence, the child will come to
have a clean mind and will become immune to sins which are
caused by uncleanliness. Medical research bears out that a child
commits its first sin because it is dirty. Dirt irritates the
anal passages which the child rubs and manipulates. It finds
pleasure in the process and becomes conscious of sex. It can be
safeguarded against sexual eros to a very large extent if it is
kept clean. This training must begin the very day it is born.
- A child should be fed at fixed hours. This will breed the habit
of self-control and save it from a number of evils. Lack of
self-control occasions evils like stealing, etc. Such a child
does not learn to resist temptation. The fault lies with the
mother who is ever ready to feed the child anytime it cries. It
is a great mistake not to inculcate regular food habits in the
infant and in the grown-up child. Regular food habits will
further lead to the following good habits:
- Good health.
- Cooperation. Such children will not be egocentric and selfish
for they will have learnt to eat with others.
- Frugality. Such child will not suffer from the bad habit of
wastefulness and extravagance. The child who is given to
eating at odd hours will eat less and waste more. But if it
is fed to a fixed measure and at fixed hours, it will make
the best of what it gets and remain content with it without
a tendency towards waste .
- It will develop the inner strength to resist temptation. It
wants to have something which catches his passing fancy in
the street. If you do not get it for it, it will learn the
habit of fighting temptation later in life. Similarly if the
child wants to have an eatable which is lying about in the
house, like sugar cane, radishes, carrots or homemade sugar
in farming families, tell him to wait till it is time for
meals. This will fortify his self-control and enable him to
- A child should be helped to form the habit of relieving nature
at regular hours. This is very helpful for its health. But a
greater benefit is that its limbs come to acquire a sense of
punctuality. Bowels become conditioned to move at fixed hours
and evacuation takes place at the proper time. Some Europeans
can even tell the time by the movement of their bowels for they
learn to evacuate with clock-work punctuality. Regular bowels,
therefore, are a must for a child. The child who learns to
perform its natural functions regularly, readily forms the
habits of praying and fasting. Also, he learns not to delay
performing national duties. It curbs displays of ill-temper and
petulance. The main cause of such tantrums is irregularity,
particularly irregularity in food habits. For instance, the
child is busy playing. Mother summons it to come and eat. It
fails to turn up but when it does, mother wants the food to be
heated for it. The child is hungry. It fumes and frets, for it
is late for its meal. It is hard to stand the pangs of hunger.
Hence its outburst of rage.
- Food should be served according to a prescribed measure. This
will teach the child contentment and discourage gluttony.
- A child should be given a variety of foods. It should have meat,
vegetables and fruit, for dietary habits affect morals and a
variety of food is necessary for a variety of morals. It should
have more vegetables than meat as meat excites and in childhood
there should be as little excitement as possible.
- As the child grows, it should be asked to do small tasks under
the guise of play-acting. It should be asked to fetch a utensil,
to replace or carry an object and do sundry other small tasks.
But it should also have the time to play on its own.
- A child should be allowed to acquire self-confidence as a matter
of habit. For instance, if it wants to have an object which it
has just seen, it should be told that it would get it at a
certain time. Hiding the object is no solution, for it will
imitate and try to hide things which will breed the habit of
- A child should not be over-indulged. Too much petting or
caressing leads to many vices. When such a child sits in
society, it expect to be fondled. This results in a number of
- Parents should be capable of self-sacrifice. Foods which are
prohibited for an ailing child should neither be brought into
the house nor should they be eaten by the parents. The child
should be told that they are abstaining on his account. The
child will thus learn the habit of self-sacrifice.
- Extreme vigilance is required when a child is suffering from a
chronic illness. Vices like cowardice, selfishness, peevishness,
lack of emotional control, etc., are the result of illness. Even
grown-ups become irritable during illness. Some ask others to
sit with them. Others shout at passers-by and say: Can you not
see? Are you blind? In illness, the patient is allowed complete
rest and full comfort which he slowly comes to regard as a right
and wants to rest all the time.
- Children should not be told tales of horror. This would make
them cowards. When they grow up, they would do nothing brave.
If a child exhibits a tendency towards cowardice, it should be
told stories of courage and made to play with children who are
- A child should not be allowed to choose his own friends. This
choice should be made by the parents. They should choose well
behaved children as associates for their children. The parents
too will benefit from this arrangement. They will come to know
the parents of other children whom they have chosen as
associates for their child. It will lead to a kind of
inter-parent cooperation. Also when they choose playmates for
their child, they will watch over their behaviour.
- A child should be assigned responsible jobs suited to its age.
This will help create a sense of responsibility in the child.
It is said that a father had two sons. He gave one of them an
apple and asked him to divide it with his brother. The father
asked if he knew how to divide the apple. The child replied
that he did not. The father said: He who divides should take
the smaller half and give his brother the bigger half. At this
the boy said that in that case the apple had better be divided
by his brother. This shows that this boy had already acquired
the habit of selfishness, but knew that if the responsibility
fell upon him, he would have to accord priority to his brother.
Game like football, etc., are a useful exercise for this
purpose. But in sports too we should be ever watchful lest the
child picks up bad habits. In the event of a difference of
opinion in games, parents usually support their child and force
the other child to accept what their child says. This leads
their child to be obstinate and it always wants to have its own
- Tell the child that it is nice and good. The Holy Prophet -- on
him be peace-said: Do not curse a child for when you curse,
angels add: Let it be like that; and like that he becomes.
Incidentally, this also means that angels are responsible for
the consequences of actions. When you tell a child it is bad, it
draws an imaginary picture in which it figures itself out as bad
and does in fact become bad. Therefore, do not abuse a child.
Praise it and teach it to be good.
This morning, my little girl came to me to ask me for a coin.
When I wanted to give her the coin, she extended her left hand
to receive it. I told her this was not right. She admitted she
was wrong and promised not to repeat her mistake. She at once
became conscious of her mistake when it was pointed out to her.
- A child should not be allowed to become obstinate. If it
persists in being stubborn, its attention should be diverted to
something else. Later, the cause of its obstinate behaviour
should be traced and removed.
- Address a child politely and courteously, for a child is a great
mimic. If you address it rudely, it will return the compliment
- Do not lie to a child nor be peevish or arrogant with it. It
will certainly imitate you. It is the parents who teach a child
lying. The mother does something in the child's presence but
denies having done it when asked by the father. Thus the child
learns to lie. I certainly do not mean that parents are
permitted to misbehave in the absence of the child. What I mean
is that if they cannot help doing such things, they should try
to be circumspect, at least, in the presence of children to save
the younger generation from such evils.
- Safeguard the child against all intoxicants. Intoxicants damage
the nerves of the child. Consequently it becomes a liar. An
addict becomes a blind imitator also and ceases to have a will
of his own. One of the relatives of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I
was a chronic addict to intoxicants and was not even remotely
interested in the duties of religion. Once he brought a young
companion whom, he claimed, he would shape after his own
pattern. Hazrat remonstrated with him and asked him to desist
from this nefarious design. But he would not listen. Hazrat
summoned the boy and persuaded him to drop his company, learn
some vocation and not be foolish. This made him think and he
left. But after a little while, the relative brought another
young man and challenged Hazrat to try to "spoil" him. To his
warped mind, spoiling a young man meant his being separated from
him. Hazrat did all the counselling he could. He even offered
cash to him to start him in some business. But he would not
listen. This surprised Hazrat who asked his relative what had he
done to hold him. He said: "It is simple. I supply intoxicants
to him. Now he does not have any will to leave me." In short,
addiction to drugs kills initiative.
Of all moral evils, lying is the worst. A child should be
especially guarded against it. Lying has a variety of causes,
some of them very abstruse. Given the causes, or some of them,
a child is bound to contract this vice as a matter of course.
A child is highly imaginative. Whatever it hears, it turns it
into a kind of reality. A sister of mine when she was a child
used to relate a long dream every day. We would wonder how she
could manage to have a dream every day. Later, the truth came
out. What happened was that to her mind, dreams meant the ideas
and pictures that crossed her mind just before falling asleep.
To a child every image is real. Thus gradually it picks up this
habit. A child should be helped to realise the difference
between fact and fiction. A child can be saved from this habit,
if the nature and meaning of thinking can be brought home to it.
- Stop children from playing in privacy.
- Do not let them remain naked.
- Teach them to admit their mistakes, as a matter of habit. For
this the following methods would be found helpful:
- Do not try to hide your own mistakes before a child.
- Be sympathetic when it commits a mistake. Let it feel that
the mistake is a kind of loss it has suffered. Hence so much
sympathy. Also let it feel that a particular mistake has
resulted in a certain loss.
- To guard against the repetition of a mistake, talk to the
child in a manner that brings home to it the trouble its
mistake has occasioned to the parents. They could, for
instance, pay for the loss its mistake is supposed to have
caused. This will make it realise that the result of
damaging things is not good. The doctrine of atonement is
not valid but the method is useful for the training of a
- If you want to reprimand a child, do not do it before
others; do it in privacy.
- A child should be given a little money. This will teach it three
- Helping relatives.
For instance, if it has three coins, let it purchase some
eatable with one coin and share it with other children; with the
second coin, let it buy a toy and the third it should be asked
to give in charity.
- Children should also be given common ownership of some property.
For instance, they should be given a toy and they should be told
that it belongs to all of them, that all should play with it and
that no one should try to damage it. This would teach them to
safeguard common property.
- A child should be given constant guidance in matters of
- Due heed should be paid to physical exercise and stamina of a
child. This would be helpful towards its moral education and
progress in the world.
How can it be determined whether a child sizes up to the right
standard in each of these characteristics:
- It should be moral itself and be able to make others moral.
- It should be able to behave as required by the mores of the
community - Jamaat.
- It should have genuine love for God and this love should reign
supreme over other kinds of love.
After the moral education of a child, the question arises: How can it
be safeguarded against sin?
- The test of the first characteristic is:
- that when it grows up, it should obey and practice the Law
-- the Sharia - in word, deed and thought.
- Its will should be strong enough to make it immune against
- It should be able to earn its living and protect its life.
- It should try and be able to protect its property.
- The test of the second characteristic is that:
- It should set a good example in morals.
- It should participate in the moral training and spiritual
education of others.
- It should not waste but should utilise its resources to the
greatest advantage of Ahmadiyyat and Islam, the Jamaat in
particular and Muslims in general.
- The third characteristic can be judged by the following:
- It should take good care of its health.
- It should be a defender of the property and rights of the
- It should do nothing which harms others.
- It should be ready to accept cheerfully all rewards and
punishments bestowed and imposed by the community.
- The criteria of the fourth characteristic are as follows:
- It should have due eagerness and respect for the word of
God -- the Holy Quran.
- The mere mention of the name of God should halt it in its
stride and make it assume a respectful posture.
- It should be in the world but not of the world.
- It should exhibit its person the signs of its love for God.
Before turning to the main theme, I would like to impress upon you
the importance of Zikr-i-ILahi -- Remembrance of God. Remember, you
are not here to witness a show or attend a carnival. You are here to
listen to and meditate on things divine. Therefore, do not forget to
observe the proprieties. I am afraid some of us fail to maintain the
sanctity of the occasion. They keep coming and going or indulge in
small talk. I know all those who are attending this session are not
Ahmadis. At a guess, some eight hundred to one thousand non-Ahmadis
are also present. They are not accustomed to listening to long
speeches with sustained attention; nor for that matter, can they
exercise as much self-control as the members of the Movement can.
Little wonder, therefore, if they are restless and keep moving. But
they are not the only ones who move. In all innocence, Ahmadis too do
so possibly to convey on their own, the message of Ahmadiyyat to
their non-Ahmadi brethren. But remember, your primary duty is to your
ownselves. Hazrat Abu Bakr has related that the Holy Prophet -- on
him be peace and blessings -- said: When you are struggling for
salvation and light, you are not supposed to give up your struggle
and perish under the mistaken notion of saving others. How willingly
should you sacrifice life and property for the faith! A believer
would not think of bartering faith with wealth, were it the wealth of
the entire world. Therefore, if you have to leave the session on
account of some urgent need, do so by all means but come back as soon
as you are able to. You never can tell when that fateful moment might
arrive for which one waits a lifetime. A word on such an occasion
could turn disbelievers into believers, the satanic into the sublime.
Look at Hazrat Omar's episode. His opposition to the Holy Prophet was
extreme. But he was transformed by a single statement he happened to
hear. He had set out to assassinate the Holy Prophet when he found to
his chagrin that his own sister had embraced Islam. He went straight
to her house in a huff and found his sister and his brother-in-law
listening to the recitation of the Holy Quran. Enraged, he rushed in
and started beating his brother-in-law whom his wife tried to
protect. In the process, she received some injuries. When Omar
perceived this, he was penitent. The sister exclaimed: Omar, are you
furious at us because we have come to believe in one God? Omar was
shaken and asked his sister to let him hear what was being recited.
The sister replied: Not as you are. First clean yourself. After he
had washed, the Holy Quran was recited to him. The recitation moved
him to such an extent that he burst into tears. He went straight to
the Holy Prophet -- on him be peace and blessings -- and announcing
himself knocked at the door. Some of those who were inside felt that
Omar being a hard man might be bent on creating trouble. The door,
they thought, should not be opened. But Hazrat Hamza declared that if
Omar had come with ill intent, they too had swords. The Holy Prophet
-- on him be peace --, however, permitted Omar to enter. When the
Holy Prophet saw him, he asked: Omar, how long will you continue to
oppose me? Omar replied: My master, I have come to submit and offer
allegiance. Ponder, therefore, how Hazrat Omar was guided to the
truth. If he had not visited his sister at that particular moment, he
might well have remained unguided and without faith throughout his
life. You have a full year at your disposal to relax. Try, therefore,
to listen to the word of God for a few days at least and allow not a
moment to go waste. One thing more. As I told you yesterday, I have
started translating the Holy Quran. Through Allah's grace, the
translation of Baqarah, the Second Chapter, was finished on December
20, 1925. It is hoped that the first volume comprising the first
seven chapters and a half will be published during the coming year.
It is my wish and prayer and I request you also to pray for me that
if nothing untoward happens, I may be able to discharge this sacred
duty and prepare the translation and exposition of the Holy Quran as
soon as possible.
There is another matter I would like to mention. Yesterday I reminded
you of the financial difficulties the Jamaat is facing. I want to add
that we should not be perturbed by difficulties for this too is a
sign of our truth. Incidentally, it reminds me of a French writer who
says: I have read scores of books which describe Muhammad, on whom be
peace, as false. But all such books leave me unmoved in the face of a
strange sight. I find Muhammad among his companions poor, ragged and
illiterate. They are sitting in a small room which is known as the
Mosque. The roof is a rough thatch of date leaves. When it rains, the
water percolates to the floor. When they pray, they have literally to
prostrate themselves in inches of water. Not one is fully clad. Yet
behold, the Prophet is seeking their advice about how to conquer the
world! And he does in fact conquer the world! When seen against the
background of this strange spectacle, millions of derogatory pages
pale into sheer insignificance.
It was exactly like this when the Promised Messiah -- on him be peace
-- declared that he had been commissioned a prophet. Had he been
immediately accepted by chiefs and kings we would have been hard put
to it to prove that the success which he eventually attained was an
act of God. It would rather have appeared to be the act of Chiefs and
Kings. All his kith and kin turned against him when he made his
claim. Maulvi Muhammad Husain of Batala, his greatest erstwhile
friend and admirer, declared that his brain had become unhinged. He
announced that it was he who had projected and promoted him and that
now he alone would degrade him. The religious doctors of the entire
Muslim world rose in opposition to him. Muslim divines of the Arab
and non-Arab countries issued edicts against him. He faced this
global opposition, alone. He conceded that he was single-handed, that
he had no supporter and the world at large was opposed to him. But he
posed this simple question: What shall I do with this word of God
which I distinctly hear: A warner was sent unto this world; the world
accepted him not; but Allah will accept him and establish his truth
with mighty signs. How can I disregard this divine voice, he asked?
At the time, the Government too was hostile to him. So were the
people. But what was the end result? He was alone on one side and the
rest of the world was on the other. You do not have to go far. Look
at this large gathering! Those present here are his devoted
followers; and there are millions more who are not present here.
Last year during my visit to Syria, a renowned writer of Damascus who
is an acknowledged master and stylist of Arabic literature,
derisively said to me: Do not try to publish in these parts the books
written by Mirza Sahib -- the Promised Messiah -- for they contain a
number of errors. When they come across these errors, people here
will form not a very complimentary opinion about him. I said: All
right, I am here before you; I shall not leave until I prove the
hollowness of your charge. I invite you to raise as many objections
against his writings as you possibly can and I shall rebut every one
of them. He said: I am a well-wisher; I do not want to join issue
with you. I said: You must, if you possibly can. He said: No, you
will lose face. I said: If we are pretenders, it is your duty to
expose us. If we are based on truth, your criticism will not harm us.
In fact, it will be helpful. But he failed to set forth any
objection. However, he added apropos of nothing in particular, that
Arabs would never accept a non-Arab as the Promised Messiah. I said:
I am going to establish an Ahmadiyya Mission here. We will also
organise a community here. You are welcome to do all you can to stop
us from doing so. My visit to Syria was to last only for five days,
But God be praised, a surprising thing happened. On the eve of my
departure from Damascus, a scholar and master of Arabic, Persian and
Turkish languages, sent me a letter at 10 p.m. He wrote that he had
been waiting to see me since morning and was not sure if he would be
able to see me at all. Hence the letter. He affirmed his faith in the
Promised Messiah. He also offered to be posted as a missionary
wherever I liked. Now we have a full-fledged mission and a community
in Damascus. Even the gentleman who had predicted no Arab would
accept Ahmadiyyat has sent word that his bona fides should not be
doubted and that he would never oppose the Movement.
Therefore, do not be perturbed that you are poor and weak. Any one
who believes that poverty and weakness are a bar to success, is
guilty of setting up associates with God; for he mistakenly thinks
that it is because of his person who considers himself useless is
equally guilty of ascribing to the All-Knowing God the error of
choosing a useless tool -- his ownself -- to bring about a spiritual
revolution in the world. If a soldier armed with a damaged gun or a
broken sword sets out to face the enemy, could he be called a good
soldier? If not, then how can he be useless whom God selects to serve
his cause? Indeed, he it is who has a function to perform. He whom
God chooses is not to be despised. Indeed he alone is honourable.
Did not a chief of Medina announce some thirteen hundred years ago
that the most honoured resident of Medina would expel the least
honoured resident -- by which he meant the Holy Prophet? Referring to
him, God says: He says honour belongs to him alone. The truth is that
honour consists in accepting the Messenger of God. The result of his
boast was that his own son waited on the Holy Prophet -- on whom be
peace -- and made the following submission:
Messenger of Allah, I have heard of what my father has said. For
this he deserved capital punishment. I request that I may be
appointed to carry out his execution for I fear that if anyone
else is allowed to do it, may be Satan may cause me to think ill
These words uttered by his own son must have brought home to his
father the hollowness of his boast.
Therefore, do not harp on the inadequacy of your means, knowledge or
status. The means which built the community to its present size were
much too inadequate compared to our present means. If hundreds have
been able to attract millions to the fold, why cannot millions
The other day I saw a vision. I found myself delivering the Friday
sermon and saying that we must take good care of the health of our
children for the burden we carry will increase a thousand-fold when
their turn comes to carry it.
Our future generations will witness how the major powers of the world
will have to accept the fact that Ahmadiyyat can no longer be
destroyed or ignored. But God will not rest content with this much
alone. He will continue to enlarge the community until the world
acknowledges that Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, is the one and only
faith in the world. The Promised Messiah -- on him be peace -- when
he was all alone, announced that Allah had told him that his
community would attain such heights of eminence as to make other
communities look like gypsies. Some will believe today, some tomorrow
and others the day after. Thus will the community continue to
increase in numbers and in strength. The rich and the poor, the
commoners and the aristocracy, the rulers and the ruled will all
accept the Promised Messiah as the true prophet of God until the
community representing true Islam will stand out prominently alone
and other disciplines will pale before its lustre just as the stars
pale into insignificance before the sun.
These are the words of God. They are bound to be fulfilled sooner or
later. No obstacle can shake our faith, nor can any opposition cause
us to despair. He who has seen the community grow from one to
millions, cannot lose hope of its future progress. We are not so
wanting in faith. We have witnessed hundreds of thousands of heavenly
signs and the fulfillment of so many divine promises. How can we ever
doubt our future? True, we are weak. We do not have the strength or
the necessary wherewithal. But it is not we who will conquer the
world but God who has all the strength and the power. Therefore, let
us not be discouraged by difficulties and obstacles. Let us have
unswerving faith in the fulfillment of the promises that God has
Now I turn to the main subject. After the moral training of a child
how can it be safeguarded against sin?
The answer is that human nature is diverse; therefore, you cannot
afford to generalise. The same recipe cannot be helpful in all cases.
Even a physical ailment does not admit of the same treatment for
every patient. Take the case of the common cold. To some, a cup of
tea can provide instant relief. In the case of another, sweetened
curd or whey is helpful. There are still others who require a
prolonged medical treatment. There are those whom medicine can help
while there are others who simply baffle medical experts. Why? The
answer is simple. Different people suffer not from one but from
different diseases. Therefore, they also require different kinds of
treatment. The same is true about other areas of human life. Human
beings differ. This difference, therefore, has to be kept in mind in
prescribing treatment. Following the same principle, I will now
discuss how sin may be avoided.
First of all, let us consider the human type which is pure and
undefiled, can make use of reason and act in the light of its
It should be clearly understood that according to Islam purity does
not merely mean purity of overt word or deed. Islamic purity also
implies purity of the heart and of the mind. In the estimation of
God, a person cannot be accounted pure unless he has a pure mind. A
person may not actually commit a sinful act, yet he cannot be called
good and pure if his heart has a liking for evil and he takes delight
in talking about sinfulness, unless, of course, in his heart of
hearts he dislikes the taint of sin. For instance, there are persons
who do not use abusive language when enraged but secretly curse their
opponent and denounce him as a rogue. We cannot call them pure; only
they have been able to hide their inner impurity successfully. In
Islam purity means purity of heart. The tongue, and for that matter,
visible conduct are mere tools which might only exhibit external
purity. The Holy Quran says:
Whether you disclose that which is in your minds or keep it
hidden, Allah will call you to account for it. (2:285)
God here raises a very delicate issue. To Him, the primary thing is
the inner condition of the mind. Overt actions including speech
merely express the inner state of mind which indeed is the real
subject of divine judgment. You may or may not do an evil deed or
speak an evil word. But if your heart is impure, you will face divine
judgment. Elsewhere Allah says in the Holy Quran:
Be mindful of your obligations to Allah, as far as you can, and
hear and obey, and spend in the cause of Allah, it will be the
better for you. He who is delivered from the niggardliness of his
mind is of those who shall prosper.
This means do all good deeds, but purify your hearts, for a heart
that is impure will be called to account.
After making clear that good means the good heart, let me now proceed
to discuss the threefold method of avoiding sin if the person
concerned is clean and uncorrupted:
I shall now briefly discuss the foregoing three points of treatment.
First, something about our knowledge of right and wrong. I have come
across quite a lot of people who have the capacity to be good, but
are ignorant of right and wrong. For instance, many men and women ask
the following questions:
- He or she must have true knowledge of right and wrong. The heart
might urge towards right action, but if you do not know what the
right action is, you cannot perform it. Similarly the heart
might warn you against evil, but if you are ignorant of what and
why an act is evil, you cannot guard yourself against it. Thus
it is essential that you should know what you ought or ought not
to do. It is not enough to have the capacity to do or not to do
a certain action. For instance, you may be very eager to please
your friend but you cannot do much unless your friend tells you
how best he can be pleased. Therefore, knowledge of actions --
good and bad -- is of the greatest importance.
- He or she must know the context in which right action has to be
done and bad action avoided. For instance, you ask your servant
to place furniture inside a room. The servant may be very active
and eager but if he does not know where each item is to be
placed, he might easily put tables in place of chairs and chairs
in place of tables. The same would be true of a person who is
ignorant of the appropriate occasion for a particular action,
that is to say, when the action should be done and when not
done. Hence he must know the circumstances under which an action
is to be performed or avoided.
- He should be conscious of the evil to which he is prone and
which he wants to discard. That is why one of the conditions
precedent to spiritual treatment of the self is that we should
know our faults. He should also know wherein he lacks virtue, so
that he can pursue good and avoid evil. If the heart is not
corrupted and the rust of sin has not eaten into the mind,
knowledge, albeit true knowledge, will be enough to transform
him into a virtuous person; for how can we treat that which we
do not know? It is knowledge of a disease alone which can help
facilitate its treatment.
If not, then can you point out any other sin which we may have
committed? What they mean is that if they do not commit these five
sins, they do not commit any sin. These are described as the five
sins under the Law. Their purpose seems to be to urge that there are
no sins besides these sins. The fact is that there are hundreds of
sins constituting a long succession. It is not possible to discuss
them all, considering the limited time at our disposal. Also there
are sins that are beyond human ken. The Holy Prophet -- on whom be
peace -- was the one and only human being who had knowledge of all
sin. There have been others who were vouchsafed this knowledge to a
certain degree. But none was given nor can possibly be given the kind
of knowledge possessed by the Holy Prophet -- on him be peace and
- Are we rebellious and wantonly vicious?
- Are we oppressors?
- Do we misappropriate what belongs to others?
- Do we tell lies?
- Are we adulterous?
Once in a dream I found myself telling a friend that neglect of
physical exercise too was a sin. Now we do not call it a sin in
normal life. But supposing there is a person on whose life depends
the security of a million other lives. It would be sinful on his part
not to take good care of himself. Who could be braver than the Holy
Prophet -- on him be peace -- yet regular watch was kept for his
personal safety. At his residence too proper security arrangements
were maintained. A critic might ask whether he considered that his
own security had priority over the security of others. But he would
be missing the point; for what the Holy Prophet -- on him be peace --
did was just right and necessary because on his life depended the
life of the entire world. Without him, Islam could not have been
established. Therefore, for some to rest and keep good health becomes
a positive virtue and its contrary a sin. Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani
in one of his books says: There is a time when I do not eat until God
is pleased to say: Abdul Qadir, get up and eat for My sake, or wear
these robes to please Me. It is men like him who would do even their
daily chores only when God wants them to; of course, not for their
own sake but for the sake of God, for whatever they do, they do it to
please Him. Thus there are sins and sins. They constitute a vast
ascending or descending order. Their quality changes with the change
of the person. Mystics put it like this. They say that the virtues of
the sinners are the sins of the innocent.
Now I shall give an outline of the major vices.
Comparatively speaking, virtues too are of four kinds:
- Personal vices. They directly affect the individual concerned.
- Vices that affect not only the person concerned but other
persons as well.
- National or group vices. They are vices considered in the
context of the condition or quality of a group or nation.
- Vices relating to God.
To take up vices first, in the same order:
- Personal virtues which affect the person concerned.
- Virtues which also influence others besides the person
- National group virtues.
- Virtues which relate to God.
Personal Vices: I will list some of the more obvious vices. Others
are not so obvious and may be identified only through divine help.
The idea is that if we become conscious of these major vices, we
shall be better able to guard against them. These vices are as
The evils that are related to others are of two kinds:
- Arrogance: It means feeling haughty and big inside. Without
letting others know, you may secretly feel big. This vice
obstructs inner cleanliness.
- Meanness: To be a tramp; to loiter about like vagrants or
associate with vagabonds and to adopt such immoral professions
as do little credit to the human person. This too is a vice of
heart. In such cases, no progress is possible unless the
peculiar attitude changes.
- Haste: To act and choose without forethought. Here, too,
ultimately it is the person who is harmed.
- Suspicion: Secretly to impute evil motives to others and to
suspect their bona fides without even communicating to them the
secret doubts and fears.
- Illicit love: Even if it is secret and undivulged.
- Malice: To harbour designs against others even when such designs
do not find practical expression.
- Cowardice: Secret or public timidity.
- Jealousy: To think of depriving others for self-gain.
- Impatience: Feeling fidgety or upset over reverses and failing
to do what is supposed to be done.
- Lack of ambition: Not to aspire for big goals but to rest
content with minor roles. This vice could cause great harm,
particularly in case of leaders and Heads of State; it could
work havoc for lack of ambition on their part also kills
ambition at lower levels of the nation. How beautifully has
the Promised Messiah -- on him be peace -- put this point in
the following verse:
O Ahmad my beloved; I swear by the beauty of thy countenance,
that we have stepped forward only because you are ahead of
In other words, the spiritual elevation and progress of the Holy
Prophet Muhammad -- on whom be peace -- alone paved the way for
our progress. Hence lack of ambition is a vice in the common
man, more so in the leaders of men.
- Sycophancy: A wheedling, fawning attempt to flatter. The
servants of the rich suffer from this vice most.
- Ungratefulness: To have scant regard for kindness shown by
- Lack of steadfastness: Lack of perseverance; to start doing a
task and leaving it unfinished.
- Laziness: When a person is indolent and ceases to function.
- Lack of courage to affirm the truth.
- Over-delicacy: To be too fastidious and finicky, out of place or
to an extent that inhibits the power to act.
- Ignorance: Not to try to learn and acquire knowledge.
- Ostentation: Doing things to show off.
- To be easily discouraged: This is a peculiar vice of the rich.
The slightest difficulty would make them lose heart and give up.
- Regard for evil: Not to dislike evil is also an evil.
- Use of intoxicants: Taking intoxicants of all kinds like
alcohol, opium, cannabis, snuff, tea, coffee, tobacco, etc.
True, some of these are articles which are used as food, for
instance tea. But taking tea becomes a vice if it becomes a
habit which cannot be given up without injury to health. You
might have to go for propagation of the faith into the rural
interior where tea is not available. Will you carry a samavar
and tea things with you and make your own arrangements? Will it
not be a bother, causing untold complications? Islam requires
every Muslim to be a volunteer who should be able to set forth
on short notice. Therefore, habits which hinder dispatch are
discouraged. The story of the proud Pathan who had run short of
snuff would illustrate the point. I saw him, begging a shaggy
Kashmiri for a pinch. I observed the proud Pathan had humbled
himself to the poor Kashmiri because of his need of snuff!
Smokers who come to Qadian are deprived of a number of benefits.
In the early days, one of our relatives who was a sworn enemy of
the Promised Messiah, used to mislead new visitors. He would
make seating arrangements in the compound and invitingly place
hookas or smoking pipes, for free use. Visitors attracted by the
pipes would drift towards him, whom he tried to lead astray to
his heart's content. He would emphasize that he was a close
relative of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and was fully cognizant of
the true position. Had there been any truth to his claim, I
would certainly have accepted him as the Promised Messiah, he
would say. Thus many were deceived. Once an Ahmadi visited
Qadian and went to this gentleman to have a smoke. The gentleman
availed himself of this opportunity to malign the Promised
Messiah to his heart's content. But the visitor kept silent.
Provoked, the old man started abusing the Promised Messiah with
renewed zeal. This too failed to elicit any rejoinder. At this,
he lost his temper and challengingly said to the visitor: Why,
what are you thinking? Why don't you speak? The visitor replied:
I am thinking that the dirty habit of smoking has been
responsible for my coming to a man like you. Had I been not a
smoker, I would not have come here and suffered the ignominy of
hearing the Promised Messiah being reviled.
Let me tell you, as I have told you a number of times before,
that smoking is a foul habit. Other intoxicants are equally
harmful. They should be given up once and for all. Certain
intoxicants breed the habit of lying. I will not name people who
are addicts to spare them embarrassment. But the fact remains
that intoxicants damage nerves. Therefore, do not become
addicted to any. Thank God, I have an innate antipathy towards
such things. In my infancy, I was given opium during an illness
for about six months. Mother tells me that once I missed a dose
and there was not the slightest reaction, whereupon the Promised
Messiah -- peace be on him -- observed:
Do not administer to him any more that which God has
delivered him from.
Even now I can discard taking things which I use daily, without
suffering any adverse effects. Occasionally, I stop taking tea
despite the fact that in our family tea is served as part of
breakfast. I do this to avoid making it a habit. As a matter of
fact, we should not form any such habits-intoxicants or no
- Arrogance: Looking down upon others.
- Enmity: Even if it is never made public and lies hidden in the
heart, it is a vice.
- To distrust others: It prevents one from delegating a task to
- Greed: This too is a vice of the heart.
- To grieve too much: Too much grief damages the faculty of
- Excessive joy.
- To be a busybody: To meddle in things with which one is in no
- Loquacity: Glib talk. An over-talkative person is a mindless
person and would answer questions without much thought.
- To be callous and hard-hearted: Absence of compassion too is a
- Purposeless lies: Lying is a major vice. But some people are
given to telling purposeless lies. This too is bad.
At this stage Hazrat was asked how to give up smoking. Hazrat
replied: Smoking is more difficult to give up than opium eating. I
had a friend who was an old addict. He wanted to give up opium eating
but his physician warned him he would die if he gave it up. But he
did, in fact, give up this bad habit. For a few days, he had to
suffer but he soon recovered and was restored to good health. I shall
take up this question later on in the course of my address. Without
disturbing the general pattern of it, I will only say at this stage
only that you can give up smoking by giving it up.
- Those which have to do with human beings.
- Those which concern animals other than human beings.
The vices relating to human beings are the following:
These are some of the major vices which have to do with other human
- Rudeness: Not to respect those who ought to be respected.
- Exaggerated expression of love.
- Faithlessness: To invoke your friend's assistance when you need
it, but to deny assistance to friends when they need it most.
- Fatuity or Silliness: Being short-tempered; exhibiting
uncivilised behaviour; to be trigger-happy; to hurl bogus
threats under minor provocations. The case of the two Hindu
Banyas -- shopkeepers -- will illustrate the point. They were
quarreling. One was cursing. In reply, the other would challenge
his opponent to curse him again. He would say: I will break your
skull if you curse again. Now the joke was that he could easily
have tried to smash the other fellow's head the first time he
was abused. He did not have to wait to be cursed twice. The
other fellow too was equally shallow. Every time he was
challenged, he would say: I shall curse you a hundred times. But
he did not dare actually repeat the curse. Each time he was
told: If you curse me again, I shall break your head. At the
time, I was a child of eight and was an interested spectator of
this strange sight. I waited for long to see if the first Baniya
would repeat the curse and earn a broken skull, but nothing
happened. Soon each retired to his shop. Suddenly the verbal
battle was again joined. One of them again abused the other who
in turn gave the same old repeat performance. He came out of his
shop and shouted: I shall break your skull if you abuse me
again. The altercation continued for a long time but nothing
happened. This is vacant, witless puerility. It also shows
cowardice. Similarly to be overaggressive is also a sign of
fatuity. It is also a form of inner weakness to start shouting
and grumbling at the slightest provocation.
At this stage, Hazoor interrupted his address and said: Asking
questions during the course of an address is not desirable. But since
the subject under discussion is of great importance, I feel I should
try to answer some questions which friends have thought fit to
address me. One is: Which professions according to me are mean? The
answer might land us into unnecessary controversy which I would
rather like to avoid. Nor would I like to decline answering the
question. I would, therefore, simply say that to my mind professions
which obstruct progress may be called mean. Another question that has
been asked is: What is the difference between tamaa (greed) and hirs
(avarice), the two vices I mentioned earlier. Briefly, tamaa means to
expect the other person to give you something which you covet. Hirs
is hankering after something regardless of the source from which it
might be procured.
One question is: Can the Wasiyyat (bequest) of a smoker (bequeathing
at least 10% of his or her income and property to Islam) be formally
accepted? It is a very complicated question and I do not want to give
a perfunctory answer during my address. I would deal with this
- Using abusive language: Abusive language is another habit which
is universally considered bad, unlike the Punjabi custom of
inviting a child to use such language and then gloating over it
when it complies, as if cursing were a virtue. I have witnessed
such performances myself.
- Laanat, or placing a curse on a person.
- Bud-doa: To pray against someone. Placing a curse on a person is
different from praying against him. The former implies a
spiritual condition and the latter a physical condition. To pray
for someone's death is Bud-doa, and to place a curse or Laanat
on someone is to invoke divine wrath upon him which means that
he or she may perish spiritually. There is, however, an
exception to this rule that is when a curse is invoked by a
prophet. In such a case the curse ceases to be a curse but
amounts to a statement of fact that the heart of the person
concerned has been corrupted.
- Dishonesty or breach of trust: For instance money placed in
trust is either not returned or returned only in part.
- Divulgence of secrets: It is a vice to divulge other peoples'
secrets. But there are exceptions to the rule -- for instance,
saving the person concerned from harm. If X intends to murder Y,
the vice shall consist not in disclosing but in hiding this
secret. Similarly, secret attempts to conspire, damage or
otherwise to bring an established Government into disrepute
must be reported to the proper authorities.
- Discourtesy: Not to meet people with a smiling countenance; it
injures the feelings of the other person and breaks ties of love.
- Undue partiality: It consists in siding unduly with one of
contending parties with whom one happens to be friendly.
- Ingratitude: To disown a favour done to one.
- To be dirty and unclean.
- Mischief-making: It is a well-known vice and needs no
- Creating disturbance: By shouting in public places or creating
noise by irrelevant talk in an assembly or otherwise causing
distraction to those who are attending to their work. I have
found Europeans to be very careful in this regard.
- Causing deliberate harm and pain.
I was already expecting questions on this. One friend has
obliged by asking that sometimes it is customary to steal as a
mark of friendship for instance -- in certain villages, it is an
established practice to steal off one another. The answer to the
question is that despite social sanction, it still remains a
- Physical fights.
- Undue self-praise.
- Faultfinding: It differs from slander, which is to talk about
someone's faults or vices before people with intent to humiliate
him. Faultfinding on the other hand, consists in reporting
slanderous talk to its object, thus causing trouble between the
- Casting aspersions or spreading calumnies.
- To belittle with a view to humiliate someone before others.
- To call a person names: Giving uncomplimentary or derogatory
epithets as is common in our country.
- Satire: Pungent jokes which disgrace and humiliate other
- Making faces: A vice common among women and the young.
- Conspiring to harm others.
- Violent anger: that is to say overt or expressed anger.
- Vindictiveness: To exceed the limit in revenge.
- Offering bribes.
- Taking bribes.
- Usury: To lend money on interest.
Now I shall mention vices which relate to beings other than human.
Vices relating to lower animals:
- To use things which emit obnoxious and nasty odours. The Holy
Prophet -- peace be on him -- has warned that eating food which
is ill-smelling or obnoxious repels the angels. They are shy of
visiting a person who is ill-smelling.
- Keeping pet dogs without purpose: The Holy Prophet -- on whom be
peace -- has said that angels do not enter homes where dogs are
National or group vices:
- To beat animals unnecessarily.
- To overwork animals: This vice is peculiar to the farmer. He
continues to exact work out of an animal but when it becomes too
old and weak to function, he sells it to the butcher. I do not
mean it should not be slaughtered. What I mean is that it is
wrong to over-work and weaken an animal to make it unfit for
- To underfeed animals: It is not the farmer but others who are
usually guilty in this regard. A farmer would rather feed his
animals even at the cost of remaining unfed himself. Supposing
there is famine. The farmers do not say there is no food for
them; they say there is no fodder for the animals.
- Not to provide proper medical treatment for sick animals.
- Torturing an animal: For instance, branding. The Holy Prophet
once saw a donkey which had been branded on the face. He
admonished: Do not brand an animal on the face for it is a very
sensitive spot. If it has to be branded, let it be branded
elsewhere -- on the leg, etc.
- Not to protect animals against the inclemencies of the weather.
- Not to pay due regard to the sexual requirements of lower
animals: Animals have passions like humans. Arrangements should
be made for their satisfaction or they should be desexualized.
- To torture animals: Either in front of their young, for
instance, to slaughter or starve them; or torture their young
before their eyes.
Now I shall enumerate evils which relate to God:
- Propagation of evil: If someone goes about saying that so and so
is a liar, apart from being a person to person evil, it also
becomes a national evil; for if it continues to be announced for
some time that a group or nation has liars in its ranks, the
intensity of feeling against lying wears off, thereby making it
easier for this vice to spread. Propagation of evil amounts to a
kind of national suicide.
- Selfishness: To promote and prefer personal interests when they
conflict with national interests.
- Wanton surrender to vice and disobedience to law: For instance,
prostitution or public drinking.
- Procrastination: For instance, laziness in the performance of
- Neglecting the moral training and education of children.
- Neglecting the educational needs of children amounts to
destroying a nation; for children of today will become the
nation of tomorrow.
- Being dirty and unclean: I have mentioned this vice earlier in
the sense that others feel disgusted because of the stink. I
mention it here in the sense that it causes disease which
ultimately could destroy a nation.
- Lack of the sense of responsibility: This means not to feel the
obligation to do one's duty.
- Lack of understanding and tolerance of another's failure to
perform his duty or of the resulting loss whether the lapse was
due to oversight or to an error of judgment, or was deliberate.
- Rebellion: At this stage Hazoor interrupting his discourse said:
A friend has made a suggestion which I had a mind to dwell upon.
I take this opportunity to do so now. The friend reminds the
missionaries and other advocates of Ahmadiyyat not to employ
harsh language. I agree and insist that we must be always
courteous and polite. You will not find any harsh language in my
writings or speeches. Do I not feel hurt when the Promised
Messiah -- on him be peace -- is reviled? Indeed I do. But I
have never countered harshness with harshness. I know some
people would quote passages from the writings of the Promised
Messiah -- on him be peace -- to justify occasional use of such
language. But let them remember, the Promised Messiah -- on him
be peace -- was a divinely commissioned magistrate or
arbitrator. It was his station -- to which he was appointed by
God -- to tell people their true worth. We do not have that
station and prerogative. For others, being harsh is a sign of
inner weakness. It might give temporary pleasure to some but
when future generations read and judge our words cool-mindedly
they will lament our using those words for they will no longer
be angry. They will not have before them the offensive writings
of our opponents. Instead they will have the shame and
mortification to seek to hide such books and writings as contain
this kind of language.
- Inhospitality: Lack of the sense of hospitality is a national
- Deception: To practice deception and fraud in business is also a
Here again, Hazoor interrupted his discourse and observed:
Tradition says that on one occasion the Holy Prophet -- on him
be peace -- was delivering his sermon when the companions
started asking question after question. This displeased the Holy
Prophet -- peace be on him -- and he said he would stop the
sermon; and asked them to go ahead putting as many questions as
they wanted and that he would continue answering till the Day of
I find myself in a similar situation. The long line of questions
which are being asked during the address, is unending. Would you
like me to stop the lecture and go on answering the questions? I
have hardly completed the 35th page of my notes on this subject.
Twenty five pages of notes still remain to be dealt with. If I
were to start answering each and every question, do you think
the lecture will ever be finished?
Resuming, he proceeded:
As I was saying, fraud in business is a national vice for it
destroys the credit of a nation. When I last visited Kashmir, I
found the annual trade of silver utensils and 'Shawls' at an
ebb. It had come down from ten million rupees annually to 1.7
million owing mainly to the dishonesty of those engaged in this
trade and industry.
- To criticise workers: In front of those who are not connected
with the matter.
- Publicly to denounce the whole nation without naming the guilty:
To denounce the whole nation because of a particular evil
without identifying the guilty is bad. For instance, to declare
that the whole nation is a nation of cheats; as a result the
nation does, in fact, become a nation of cheats.
- To grudge contributing to national ends.
- To cultivate friendship and closeness with those who harm the
- Non-cooperation with the representatives of the Government or of
- Poor standard of obedience.
- Swearing and taking oaths in the name of God unnecessarily. A
solemn oath may be taken before a magistrate, or on occasions
when an oath is prescribed or is permissible; otherwise swearing
in the name of God as a matter of habit amounts to an insult to
- Despair: When one loses all hope of ever solving one's
difficulties. This is the result of lack of reliance on and
faith in God.
- To harbour evil in the heart: God created the human heart to
make it His home. That is why the heart is called the House of
God. He who tarnishes the heart, stops God from entering His
- Refusal to submit to the Law of Shariah.
- Belief in false dogmas: For instance, setting up partners with
- Disbelief in the true dogmas like God, angels, prophets,
revelation, heaven, hell.
- Violation of the laws of the Shariah about God or man; for
instance, not to offer prayer, not to perform pilgrimage to the
Kaaba, not to carry out the prescribed rules of inheritance and
not to follow divine guidance about morals. All these laws and
injunctions are prescribed by God. Therefore, to violate them is
to displease God, in addition to bringing pain and suffering on
- Inadequate love of God.
- Disrespect to God and the Holy Prophet -- on him be peace.
- All evils which are related to others are also related to God.
For example, ingratitude is ingratitude to man or God.
VIRTUES RELATING TO OTHERS
- Alertness, promptitude.
- Acquiring knowledge.
- Righteous indignation: To show resentment on sight of evil.
- To think well of others.
- Earnest benevolence.
- Steadfastness: To persist in doing the right.
- Dignity: Refusal to imitate others without need or purpose. In
our country, people seem to lack this virtue. They are prone to
imitate whatever the West does.
- Loftiness of ideals.
- Conscientiousness: Not to follow others without enlightened
- Inner gratefulness: Sincerely to feel grateful in your heart for
the favour done to you.
- Search for truth.
- Honest acknowledgement of merit in others.
- Commiseration: It differs from pity. Pity means the tender
feeling aroused by the suffering of others which moves one to
extend help. Commiseration means to suffer the suffering of
- Fighting for your rights: One should be able to fight for one's
rights except when they may be surrendered as a mark of favour
or are just not claimed. Virtue consists in refusal to surrender
one's right under duress.
- Capacity to excel: It implies the urge to beat others in good
- Never to accept defeat: To suffer defeat but never to take
defeat lying down; never to rest content but to continue
resisting and fighting.
- To be wide awake and wary: Never to sleep over enemy designs.
- Ready acceptance of truth.
- Power to stand hardship: One should have the power to bear
suffering and reverses with patience.
- Endurance or stamina: One should have the staying power and be
not upset whatever the odds.
- Love of virtue.
- The wish to help others: Not to flinch from extending help to
others whenever the occasion rises.
- Plain living: Not to spend too much on one's own comfort.
- Guarding one's honour.
- To acknowledge the merits of others.
- To be moderate in everything.
Virtues relating to angels are as follows:
VIRTUES CONCERNING MANKIND
- Zikr-i-Ilahi: Remembrance of God or the contemplation of His
attributes. We have it on authority that Angels rush in where
Zikr-i-Ilahi is practiced. The Holy Prophet -- peace be on him
-- has said that angels surround such a place.
- External cleanliness: We are enjoined to use perfume where
angels' visit is likely. For instance, to bathe and apply
perfume on the occasion of the congregational Prayer on Friday
is to follow the practice of the Holy Prophet -- peace be on
VIRTUES RELATING TO LOWER ANIMALS
- Feeling of gratefulness in response to benevolence.
- To act compassionately.
- Hilm or condonation: It means to forgive mistakes in view of the
extenuating circumstances. It is to be distinguished from Afv
which means to forgive despite guilt. Hilm, on the other hand,
means to condone in view of the redeeming features of the
- To make interest-free (benevolent) loans.
- To give in charity.
- Search for peace; to try to bring about peace and harmony.
- Keeping of promises.
- To raise the fallen.
- To extend due regard and respect to equals.
- To show proper deference to superiors.
- Reconciliation: It is a virtue to bring about reconciliation in
case of confrontation and to make an attempt at rapprochement.
- Keeping secrets.
NATIONAL OR GROUP VIRTUES
- To take good care of their diet.
- To exact work only according to their capacity.
- To feed animals which are not employed by man: The Holy Prophet
-- on him be peace -- said: Once it continued to rain for days
on end with the result that birds had to go hungry. A person who
fed them was blessed with faith and consequently entered
Those in whose wealth there is a well ascertained share for
those who ask and those who do not ask. (70:25-26)
It is a hallmark of the faithful that they share their wealth
with not only those who request for help but also with those who
do not so request. Birds and other lower animals also belong to
the latter class. They too should be properly fed.
- Taking care of animals: The poor dumb animals should be
protected against the inclemencies of the weather. Their sexual
requirements too should not be ignored. Similarly their
off-spring should also be taken care of.
VIRTUES WHICH PERTAIN TO GOD
- Giving of Zakat: Prescribed 2 1/2 percent poor tax on income and
- To contribute to meet national requirements.
- Social and national service.
- Obedience to authority.
- Cooperation with authorities.
- To work for the security of the country.
- Sense of responsibility.
- To submit to punishment when guilty.
- To publicise the virtues of others.
- To shun the enemies of the nation.
- To protect national honour-to contradict false charges against
- To be honest: To be scrupulously honest and upright in trade and
- To impart knowledge.
- To provide moral education.
What are the occasions when certain actions are to be done or not to
be done? The answer is both simple and detailed. If I were to try to
answer in detail it would not take less than fifteen to twenty hours,
even if I tried to be brief. I would, therefore, adopt the simpler
course. I will give only the barest outline, pointing out some of the
- To be perfect in faith.
- To love God.
- To carry out fully all duties under divine law, duties to God
and to man.
- Optimistic faith in God.
- Fear of God: To uphold the inviolability of divine honour.
- Purity of mind.
- To place reliance on God: To try hard but at the same time
firmly to believe that divine succour alone brings success.
- To pay scrupulous regard to all good morals which relate to God.
For instance, honouring commitments, etc.
- To discard all false beliefs.
- To remonstrate with those who are disrespectful towards God and
to try to persuade them through argument to desist from
disrespectful and ungrateful behaviour towards God. For
instance, to try to make that one understand and think better of
God who says that God has been cruel and has given him nothing,
for it amounts to being disrespectful to God.
- To convey the truth.
- Respect for institutions which belong to God.
How can one determine which evils one suffers from?
- Not to stop carrying out obligations which one owes to God
unless one is forcibly restrained or is justified by another
divine injunction. For instance, not to be able to perform Wadu
-- ablution -- because the hand or the face is injured.
Similarly one divine Command can override another such Command.
This is illustrated by the following example. It is a divine
injunction that a woman should wear the veil in public. But this
too is a divine injunction that she should lift the veil on the
occasion of the pilgrimage to the Kaaba. The second Command
overrides the first. As a result, not to wear the veil in the
Kaaba becomes a virtue. Again, it is a duty under divine law to
obey parents. But if this duty conflicts with another divine
Command, virtue consists in not obeying parents in such a case.
- Not to do unto others what, all things being equal, one would
not like done unto oneself. There is, however, a qualification.
What is required is not that a person should do to others what
he wants others to do unto him. This is what the Bible says,
which to my mind is not quite right. What I emphasise is that
one should not say or do to others what one would not like said
or done to oneself, presuming the circumstances are similar.
- To avoid extremes. For instance, some would either completely
stop offering nawafil (voluntary prayer) or would offer nawafil
to the exclusion of all regard for domestic duties. Once a case
was reported to the Holy Prophet -- peace be upon him -- to the
effect that a certain person was given to observing fast during
the day and offering nafl (voluntary prayer) throughout the
night. Summoning him, the Holy Prophet -- peace be upon him --
Your self too has its right over you and you have an
obligation to your wife also.
- To act in accordance with the particular divine attribute which
the act invokes.
- By self-examination: When one comes to know what are the various
virtues and vices, one should conduct a self-scrutiny in order
to identify the vice from which one suffers and the virtues that
one does not practice.
- By consultation with a sincere friend: One should consult some
sincere and close friend who should be asked to study one's
overt behaviour. Of course, he should not set out on a hunt for
secret vices. That would in itself be an evil. The function of
the friend should be to point out the faults in one's overt
actions, faults of which one may not be fully conscious.
- By self-identification: Even a friend is likely to overlook a
friend's faults. To remedy this, one should have recourse to a
third method. One should try to identify in one's own person,
the virtues and vices that one is able to identify in others.
- By identification of faults by opponents: One can go one better.
One should know what faults one's enemy finds in one and proceed
seriously to check up if those faults are really found in one or
not. This would bring to one's knowledge quite a few faults of
which one was not aware before. Similarly, one could also check
up on the virtues which one's enemies acknowledge for not
unoften, even an enemy cannot help acknowledging one's merits.
- Best method of self-appraisal: The best and most important
method to be fully posted about virtues and vices is to study
the Holy Quran. When the reader comes across the vices from
which the earlier peoples suffered, he should reflect and
consider whether he himself does or does not also suffer from
them. Also when the Holy Quran mentions a virtue, the reader
should check up whether he has that virtue or not. There is
another great advantage of such a study. As it proceeds all
virtues and vices will gradually unfold themselves, one after
the other. This is not possible otherwise. We cannot think of
every virtue and vice all at once. Also, recitation of the Holy
Quran gives rise to fear of God which should help the pursuit of
virtues and avoidance of vices.
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