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Friday Sermon: The Essence of Trials and Tribulations

Sermon Delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
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NOTE: Alislam Team takes full responsibility for any errors or miscommunication in this Synopsis of the Friday Sermon

'And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient,

Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.' (2:156-157)

These verses mention qualities of true believers that they demonstrate in times of difficulty, trial or any kind of loss. God states that a true believer is only identified when he has these qualities. True believers at times sustain personal and at times communal loss but they come out of these losses successful having sought God's pleasure; indeed, they should seek God's pleasure.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has elucidated this subject as follows:

'Tribulations should not be considered bad. One who considers tribulations as bad is not a true believer. Allah the Exalted states: 'And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient, Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.' When such difficulties descend on Prophets of God they bring them glad-tidings of blessings and when the same difficulties descend on the wicked they ruin them. At times of trouble one should read: '…say, 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return' to seek the pleasure of God Almighty at a time of trouble. Life of a true believer has two parts. When a believer does something good he is rewarded for it, but the reward of patience is immeasurable and boundless. God Almighty states, these are the patient and these are the people who have understood God. God divides the lives of those who understand the purport of patience in two parts. Firstly, when he prays God Almighty accepts his prayer, as stated: '…Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer…' (40:61) and '…I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me…' (2:187) Secondly, at times Allah the Exalted does not accept the prayer of a true believer owing to some expediency and at such time a true believer bows down to the will of God Almighty…it is said that Allah the Exalted has dealings with a true believer like a friend. Just as with two friends at times one listens to the other and at other times he makes the other listen to him. The connection between Allah the Exalted and a true believer is also the same. At times He listens to the prayer of a true believer, as He states: '…Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer…' and at other times He wishes to make true believers listen to Him and states: 'And We will try you with something of fear…'. Faithfulness is in understanding not to stress on being one-sided in this regard.

A true believer should not be saddened at times of tribulation, he is not greater than a Prophet of God. Truth is that at times of difficulty a fountainhead of love starts. True believer does not go through a difficulty which does not bring him thousands of kinds of pleasures...Beloveds of God Almighty do not face tribulations because of sin…tribulations reveal accomplishments of true believers. Observe, how the high morals of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) were demonstrated at painful times and in triumph. Had the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) not gone through tribulations what could we now say about his high morals! No doubt tribulations of true believers are seen as tribulations by others but true believers do not deem them as tribulations…it is important for man to stay firm on his sincere repentance and realise that repentance will give him a new lease of life. If you wish to experience the fruits of repentance then realise your repentance with your practice. When a gardener sows a sapling he waters it to make it grow. Likewise, faith is a sapling which is nurtured by practice. Therefore, practice is extremely important for faith. If there is no practice with faith, the sapling will wilt away and will be lifeless.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. I, pp. 603-604)

'Do not consider trials as bad while being a true believer. One who considers them bad is not a complete believer. The Holy Qur'an states: 'And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient,

Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.' God Almighty states that He will at times try you with loss of property, loss of life, children and crops etc. And those who remain patient at such times and are grateful should be given the glad-tiding that for them the doorways to grace of Allah the Exalted are wide and they will have God's blessings who at such times say: '…Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.' That is, we and everything we have is from God and everything will ultimately return to Him. They are not aggrieved at the loss of any kind. These people inhabit the station of God's will. Such people are patient and the reward for the patient is without measure with God.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. I, p. 605)

'Some people allege that Allah the Exalted does not listen to their prayers or people are critical of saints that their such and such prayer was not accepted. In fact these people are foolish and unaware of Divine laws. Anyone who has experienced such a thing will be fully aware of the principle that Allah the Exalted has presented two aspects whereby He listens and also has Him listened to. Faith is in accepting these two principles. Do not stress on just one of these two aspects, lest you act contrary to what God states and be one who tries and breaks His law.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. I, p. 605)

'There are only two ways of spiritual development for man. Firstly, man takes it upon himself to abide by religious obligations as commanded by God like Salat, fasting, paying Zakat and performing Hajj. However, as abiding by these matters is in his own hands he is sometimes negligent and at other times finds an easy way out of them. Therefore, the second way is one which directly descends on man from God and is truly the source of man's spiritual development. This is because in religious obligations man finds some way or the other of leniency or ease. If someone was given a whip and asked to hit himself with it, as a matter of principle and owing to sense of personal well-being who would want to inflict pain on himself? This is why Allah the Exalted has placed another way for completion of human development and has stated: 'And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient,

Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.' That is, We will continue to test you, sometimes with fear, with hunger and at times with loss of life or property or fruits. Yet, give glad-tidings of great rewards and special blessings of God to those who remain patient in face of these tribulations and hunger and say: 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.' Look, how hard a farmer endeavours to prepare land, sows seeds and then goes through the difficulties to irrigate the land. Eventually, after enduring all kinds of difficulties, endeavours and safeguards when his crop is ready, sometimes in God's profound wisdom hailstorm comes down or the crop is destroyed due to drought. This is just an example of the difficulties that are faced owing to natural phenomenon/disasters. The pure teaching given to Muslims in such instances is a true model and lesson in staying resigned to the will and decree of God and this teaching is exclusive to Muslims.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. I, pp. 618-619)

We should always keep it in view and never entertain the thought as to why God puts us through huge trials. Also mockery of opponents or the thought that if God is with us why we have sustained loss should not trouble us.

As the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has said [in the above extracts] to always remember that even Prophets and beloved of God face tribulations and with reference to this, also their communities. When those dear to God go through difficulties it cannot be they are going through Divine chastisement. In fact these experiences bring glad-tidings of blessings. However, when such difficulties befall the wicked they ruin them.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has said that those who are patient are blessed. Patience does not mean one is not saddened at a loss. It means one does not let it get the better of one and lose one's senses in the process. It is OK to be saddened but this should be followed by a renewed resolve to better one's practices more than ever. It should also be remembered that only those who are patient know the realities of prayer. They understand that sometimes prayer is accepted quickly and at other times due to expediency it not accepted at once. True believers should always submit to the will of God; this is real patience and it is very well rewarded by God.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has said that true servants of God experience pleasure even at times of loss because they can perceive continuous and limitless bounties of God. He explained that believers do not go through difficulties because of sin, in fact difficult times are a trial for them from God so that the world can see that these people are content/happy in every situation.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said God's most beloved person was the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) yet he endured numerous tribulations, both personal and communal. His tribulations were most severe the like that no one else has suffered, yet he remained resigned at the will of God through every difficulty and his blessed model is unique and peerless.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said just as a gardener waters his plants should true believers nurture their faith with good practices so that they are successful. He advised not to be perturbed by what people say for people even criticise saints. They are unaware of Divine laws but true believers know that at times God listens and at other times He makes man listen to Him and we should not contravene this law!

When Baitul Futuh complex was on fire a non-Ahmadi friend of an Ahmadi said to him if prayers of Ahmadis gained acceptance why was the mishap taking place. The Ahmadi reasoned with him saying did tribulations not came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) why would they not befall believers!

So, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said not to contravene God's laws. Troubles befall believers and then pass, what is needed is to seek God's grace with patience and prayers and be those who say: 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return' when faced with tribulations. When we say: 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return' it means that we are from God and to utter this in times of difficulty signifies that we are from God and He will not ruin us. When we face tribulations perhaps God wills to prepare us more than ever to receive His blessings. By saying 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return' we turn to God and hope that there is no impediment on our part to garner big blessings in future.

May God make us patient and may He make us improve our practice and may He make us turn to Him. This is the way to further advancement, inshaAllah. Mockery of our opponents cannot harm us at all if our connection with God is right.

A lot of damage was sustained in the recent fire in two ancillary halls of the Mosque. It was a very intense fire. When different media reported it some malicious people expressed joy at the burning of the Mosque, in fact they said it is not a mosque, these people are not Muslim, and so it is their place of worship which is on fire. Later they expressed regret that only two halls were burnt and the Mosque in itself did not burn! Such is the way of some Muslims today. But all are not the same. Muslims of some areas were sympathetic. Muslims of one locality sympathised citing their own experience of their mosque sustaining fire damage and said they had reopened only a few days ago.

Some unaware British people also said it was good that the Mosque was burning. Anti-Muslim sentiment are wide-spread anyway but our neighbours and those who know us silenced both non-Muslims and non-Ahmadis who spoke against us telling them they ought to be ashamed of themselves as Ahmadis followed correct Islamic teaching.

Media round the world gave the news of the fire saying the largest mosque in Western Europe was on fire. This led to comments as to who these people are, what sort of a community it is and thus the Jama'at received wide exposure. Although we were sad, but we remained patient, we said 'Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return' and God raised people in our support even in this loss and this told the world that He is with us.

The police has not explained as to what caused the fire but perhaps indications are that the fire started in a store room adjacent to kitchen where plastic goods and other things caused the fire to flare quickly and spread through wooden beams in the ceiling or air-conditioning ducts. Whatever the cause of fire, it also indicates failing on part of the staff and management of the Mosque. They should engage in istaghfar a lot. There could have been a lot more damage the way the fire flared. Even the Fire Brigade said that we got away with it somewhat. Fire as intense as this was with temperatures in hundreds of centigrade could have caused much more damage which relatively speaking it did not. Indeed, God facilitates others to make good impressions for the Jama'at. During the fire a journalist started interviewing our Ishaat Secretary on the roadside and asked him what sort of relations we had with our neighbours and what were their impressions. Just then a car stopped and an English lady emerged saying she was a neighbour and offered her help and support. Similarly others came, representative of church came and gave their comments directly. Listening to these people the journalist said he had had the answer to his question!

On the one hand is this attitude majority of whom are not even Muslim and on the other hand a few Muslims were expressing joy and were invoking subhanAllah. Fine, today they invoked subhanAllah in derision and to call on Divine sense of honour, they may do so. But inshaAllah, soon we will rebuild in a better and more beautiful manner and truly invoke subhanAllah as well as mashaAllah. As mentioned earlier, it is a way of God that He puts people through trials. We do not know what caused the fire and how all this happened. If this was a conspiracy or mischief, such matters cannot impede progress of Jama'at. However, as mentioned earlier the management should see this incident as a wake-up call to identify their failings and reflect on them.

As mentioned in the Eid sermon at times bringing loss or fuelling fire is perpetrated to stop the objective of a community or a Prophet of God but this does not succeed. If this was caused through ill intent, the loss is comparatively low and God gives glad-tidings to those who remain patient.

Since the time of the claim of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) conspiracies and flaring of fires have been going on. One kind of fire is the obvious which everyone sees. The other kind is the fire of jealousy/envy. Evidently adjacent parts of our Mosque caught fire but God will make good our loss inshaAllah and our patience and prayers will grant us the coolness of God's shade. The evident fire flared the fire of envy in many and while they rejoiced at the fire they regretted as to why our Mosque did not catch fire! The apparent fire that flared against us, burnt our opponents in the fire of envy.

Our tasks did not stop even when the fire was still burning. This is not a reference to the rest of the world but here in London, it was business as usual. Some of our workers were indeed anxious. It is natural to be upset over loss but one should not let oneself be overwhelmed by it. A large part of MTA operates from here. That day Live broadcast of the programme Rah e Huda was scheduled. The programme team decided that since they did not have access to the studios and did not know what the situation there was, they would show a recording instead and not broadcast Live programme. When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih came to know he said that a Live programme should be aired from Masjid Fazl studios, there should be nothing to stop this happening. The programme team should not have decided by themselves anyway without consulting Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. They should have promptly sought advice what to do about the Live broadcast. They could not reach the right decision given the situation. Had the Live broadcast not gone ahead the message to the world and to Ahmadis would have been the incident had us in chaos, which it had not. A Live broadcast went ahead from Masjid Fazl studios in which calls were received, answers given and people were assured.

We should not lose hope when experiencing loss and also should not abandon our tasks and simply stand around as onlookers as many stood on the day watching the fire. Everyone should have attended to their tasks and made immediate alternative arrangements for their tasks, this is how it should be, and then leave the rest in God's hand.

Mir Mahmood Sahib has related that when building of Rabwah first started after migration to Pakistan the Jama'at was very weak in financial terms. Buildings and mosques needed to be built and a town had to be built from scratch on what was essentially wilderness. When Masjid Mubarak was built it became known that the right material was not used in the roof. Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the mosque and said it is being said that the roof can collapse, examine it and if what is being said is correct then fine, while we face other trials, let this be another one. Thus indicating to rebuild. Indeed, at that time the Jama'at faced many tribulations so soon after the partition and only those who know the financial situation of the Jama'at at the time will appreciate it. There is a huge difference between the financial situation of today and that time. However, we have never let these situations perturb us.

If this recent incident is also a trial then we should promise and then prove it with our practice that we will turn to God and pray and go through this trial successfully. With the grace of God the redress will be better than before. No matter who incurred this loss on us, if it happened due to our incompetence or negligence or if it was accidental, whatever, the cause, inshaAllah we have to rebuild and restore the beautiful form of the complex. There is no need for any special appeal for contributions in this regard but members of Jama'at have started sending contributions. Children have started sending their money boxes filled with coins. A seven or eight year old girl said to her father that he availed of the halls [that are damaged in the fire] so she wanted to contribute towards the rebuild and she sent her money box. Who can despair a body of people whose children have such resolve!

Our neighbours are also offering support. Ameer Sahib has said that headmaster of a school sent a message that his school children were making a collection for the rebuild. Such courtesy and high morals are demonstrated by non-Muslims which should be forthcoming from Muslims. It is irrelevant whether we accept the donations or not but we should value their sentiments.

Just as mentioned earlier the fire was intense and some iron girders/beams and frames have been reduced to smithereens, yet some offices escaped the fire and their records are safe, for example Wassaya and Qadha offices and some others. MTA escaped completely, it had some expensive equipment. With the grace of God they have started work there today. MTA is adjacent to the halls that were damaged. When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih was informed of this he was concerned and started praying from that juncture, because fire reaching that point meant that it could spread towards the Mosque. Their archives have suffered but 70% of it is backed-up, similarly almost 100% of translation archives are backed-up. Some tapes have been lost which had details of tours but this is not a loss of the proportion of losing part of history because salient parts of even these have back-up. It is a miracle that MTA escaped damage because fire burned down the adjacent ceiling. God gave the Fire Fighters opportunity to control the fire at this point. Tahir Hall and the Mosque remained completely unaffected.

God saved us from any loss of life. One person was working in the library and had no idea what was going on outside. When he finished his work and tried to leave the library a gust of black smoke hit him. Anxious, he tried to run but jet black smoke filled the area and he could not see anything. He struggled to breathe. With great difficulty he fumbled for the corridor wall and started walking along it. Breathing became harder and he started praying with reference to a revelation of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) that fire was the servant of his servants. So this person prayed to be saved for he was also a servant of the Promised Messiah. Two or three times he felt he was going to fall over. Even if he had fallen for a few seconds the heat was so intense that he would have been consumed by the fire. Courageously he walked through the darkened corridor and reached the door when he saw light. Later, when he cleaned up and rinsed his mouth the water he rinsed with turned as dark as ink. It was a huge miracle for him to survive; a few second's delay would have burnt him.

The fire of envy of the envier will increase, therefore prayers should be made fervently. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih urged the following prayers to be made:

'O Lord everything is subservient to You. O Lord, protect us, help us and have mercy on us.'

'O Allah we make You a shield against enemies and we take refuge in You from their evils.'

'Our Lord, grant us good in this world as well as good in the world to come, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.'

If this incident happened due to our incompetence and failings there is a lot of need to engage in istaghfar. May God enable us to perform our responsibilities in correct manner in future, may He remove our weaknesses and if this is a trial then may we go through it successfully and may God grant us His blessings more than ever. May He include us among the patient who are blessed by Him and may we experience progress more than ever!

Three funeral Prayers in absentia were announced. Chaudhry Mahmood Ahmad Mubasher Sahib, dervish of Qadian who passed away on 18 September at the age of almost 97. Khalid Saleem Sahib, a long-term sincere Ahmadi from Syria who passed away on 27 August of heart attack and another Syrian Ahmadi who passed away after being hit by shrapnel in the Syrian conflict.

Prayers should be made for the situation in Syria. May God give sense to all Muslim countries and may they be enabled to accept Imam of the age.


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About Friday Sermon

The Jumu'ah (Friday) prayer is one form of congregational worship in Islam. It takes place every Friday. Regular attendance at the Jumu'ah prayer is enjoined on the believer. According to a Saying of Muhammadsa this congregational prayer is twenty-five times more blessed than worship performed alone. (Bukhari)

Friday Sermons in the Quran

“O ye who believe! When the call is made for Prayer on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off all business. That is best for you, if you only knew.” more

Friday Sermons in the Hadith

“… (He who) offers the Prayers and listens quitely when the Imam stands up for sermon, will have his sins forgiven between that Friday and the next”(Bukhari)