Friday Sermon: The right path

February 13th, 2009

Huzur said in his last Friday Sermon he had cited the spiritually inspiring writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) to explain that the prayer ‘guide us in the right path’ (1:6) contained the prophecy of the advent of the Messiah, the prophecy of the Messiah to be from among the ummah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the command to accept the Imam of the age. He had therefore put it to the Muslim world to reflect on this as therein lies the means to restore the honour of the Muslim world.

Huzur said today he would present the points with reference to this Quranic verse that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) expounded to attain spiritual and temporal progress. So that the extremely extensive scope of the prayer may be appreciated and we may understand the huge responsibilities that lay on us after accepting the Imam of the age.

Hadhrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) explained that the word ‘huda’ (guidance) connotes three aspects; a) to show the way, b) to [physically]take one to the way/path and c) to take one all the way to the destination.  With reference to this the verse ‘guide us in the right path’ (1:6) is a prayer that seeks a good path, one that takes one to piety and which leads a person to attain their objective and facilitates them to go forward in the path. Huzur said with this prayer one cannot simply sit idle, rather one has to continue to move upwards in spirituality as well as try and progress in worldly matters. Indeed, Huzur said, we make extreme efforts to succeed in worldly matters both the kinds of progress are signified in this prayer. The prayer also refutes monasticism. Allah created mankind and along with man created countless bounties. He drew man’s attention towards seeking the bounties rather than for him to renounce the world. This prayer also signifies seeking worldly knowledge and cognisance in addition to seeking spiritual development. Spiritual guidance can only come from Allah as it is cited in the Qur’an, ‘…Surely, Allah’s guidance alone is the guidance…’ (2:121).

In the prayer of ‘guide us in the right path’ (1:6) one supplicates that all one’s matters are conducted in an acceptable, correct way and when one attains a certain spiritual stage, one is guided to the next stage and thus one continues to traverse stage upon stage. Huzur said the prayer ‘guide us in the right path’ is a collective/communal prayer. It signifies that once we join a community may our thoughts be in line with the community. We will be helped in removing our personal drawbacks when we say this prayer with a collective spirit to be guided in the right path. We will reflect on our individual contributions towards the community. This prayer encourages us to seek personal benefits as well as communal progress while it draws our attention to develop in intellectual and practical terms and this leads to guidance. The Holy Qur’an states, ‘…as for those who follow guidance, He adds to their guidance…’ (47:18).

Huzur explained the prayer that we make several times daily in Salat is not an ordinary prayer. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said the prayer is the central point of Salat.

One of the excellences of this prayer is that it comprises all grades of individual and it is a prayer that has no ceiling, no ending nor any confines. Those who say this prayer with sincerity of heart and profound devotion are blessed. Huzur said the prayer contains many glad-tidings – as stated in the Qur’an, ‘…And whosoever believes in Allah – He guides his heart aright…’ (64:12) and …’And if you obey him, you will be rightly guided…’ (24:55). Huzur explained that Allah has made His pleasure conditional to following the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as stated in the above verse.

Huzur explained that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that treading the right path is a virtue which may also be referred to as moderation or the middle way and Unity of God may be attained through this. This virtue cannot be achieved by either remaining slack or being excessive. For example forgiveness on all occasions is unwarranted just as never showing mercy is excessive. Putting everything in its proper place is moderation and this is the right path which all Muslims should tread.

Next Huzur cited and explained an extract of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which he said was a little complex but needed explaining as many do not know the language in which the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that the prayer of ‘guide us in the right path’ entails truth, veracity and wisdom. When these qualities are applied on people they signify piety, when they are applied to God, they signify perfect obedience and when applied to oneself, they entail purification of the self. The words ‘right path’ which signify piety, perfect obedience to God and self purification are based on three aspects: a) intellectual/theoretical, b) practical and c) relating to self. These are in turn of three kinds; those due to Allah, those due to people and those due to oneself. The intellectual/theoretical dues to Allah that ‘the right path’ demands is that one regards Allah as One and acknowledge that He possesses all excellences and is the perfect manifestation of all attributes. The practical dues to Allah of ‘the right path’ entail to obey Him with sincerity of heart, not to associate any partners to Him and to absorb oneself in His love. The intellectual/theoretical dues to people of ‘the right path’ are to consider them as mankind, creation of God and therefore humble and to be aware that they are mortals. This is the intellectual/theoretical description of Unity of God as it enhances the Oneness of God and makes one understand that rest are all mortals. The practical dues to people of ‘the right path’ are to practice sincere virtue and to undertake what is proper and correct without even a hint of wrongdoing and let it be a practical expression of one’s trust in God; it is thus a practical expression of the Unity of God. The intellectual/theoretical dues to oneself as regards ‘the right path’ is to be fully aware of the evils of arrogance, malice, jealousy, injustice etc. and is the intellectual/theoretical description of  the Unity of God as it signifies that there is only One Being Who is free from all flaws. The practical dues to oneself of ‘the right path’ are to overcome these evils and to put virtues into practice. This is an expression of the Unity of God as regards oneself and is a stage at which one frees oneself from everything save Allah and completely absorbs oneself in the Being of Allah. There is a fine difference between this and the practical dues to people because the practical dues to oneself entails a distinction that is achieved after much spiritual endeavour and may or may not be observable to the world. The practical dues to people signify a service which is only verified when people are benefitting from it.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) explained that the prayer ‘guide us in the right path’ purifies one from the notion of associating partners to God and also erases the causes of this failing. Huzur briefly remarked on the evil practices of saint-worshipping and having absurd expectations from dubious individuals who people ask to pray on their behalf. Huzur said Ahmadis should avoid these practices. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that Allah has named Islam as steadfastness (Isteqamat) in the Qur’an and therein has taught us the prayer of ‘guide us in the right path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings…’ (1:6-7), that is, grant us steadfastness. He said that steadfastness is man’s highest quality/attribute (Ism e Azam) and through it man can achieve excellences and Allah draws man’s attention to this in the prayer ‘guide us in the right path.’ Huzur said each man, each Muslims should try and attain ‘the right path’ according to his/her capacity and continue to pray for it.

Elucidating the concept of prayer the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that as Allah has taught us in ‘guide us in the right path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings…’ (1:6-7), we should be mindful of three aspects, a) to include all mankind in this prayer b) to include all Muslims and c) to include those who are present company. This encompasses all humanity and relates to Allah’s attributes as mentioned in the verses preceding these verses as Lord (Rab), the Most Gracious (Rahman) and Ever Merciful (Raheem) by virtue of which He nurtures all creation.

Huzur said this is a prayer for the guidance of all mankind, all Muslims. Today the world seems to be fast heading towards what indicates a World War situation. Prayers should be made for the safety of all Ahmadis, safety of all Muslim Ummah and safety of all mankind. The world seems to be perilously teetering on the brink of fire. Ahmadis who are true believers and are included in the Community of the Promised Messiah (on be peace) should bring about pure and pious changes in themselves and make special prayers. May Allah enable us to do so.