Friday Sermon: Divine attribute Al Rafi (The Exalter)

June 19th, 2009

Al Rafi (The Exalter) is one of the Divine attributes. Al Rafi is that Being Who exalts true believers. Exaltation is bestowed on believers because of good works and constant endeavour; it only comes to pass by the grace of God. However, at times God grants high status to believers merely through His grace in a way that is beyond human imagination. He bestows further nearness to His chosen people thus enhancing their already exalted station. He grants some of these the exalted status of prophethood and sends His teachings through them. The Holy Qur’an states: ‘…To Him ascend good works, and righteous work helps them rise…’ (Surah Al Fatir, 35:11). Huzur explained that this signifies that God accepts good works; good works are a cause of praise and without good works man cannot gain acceptance.

Huzur said God is Al Rafi, but He is also Al Qadir (the Possessor of power and authority), He can bestow on whomsoever He wishes. However, the general principle to attain exaltation is through good works. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) enjoined his Community that if anything gained acceptance with God, it is good works.  The verse signifies that the ignorant and wrongdoing people of the pre-Islam Arabia were told that not only would they rid of all their vices under the influence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) rather they would attain the highest standards of righteousness and dignity. This honour materialized as a result of their sincere belief, high moral values and good works.  Huzur said then the world witnessed that the very same people who were branded ignorant, ruled the world. Thus a way was appointed that demonstrated that by adopting specific principles piety could be attained. However, the Muslim world turned materialistic and forgot the standards of its forefathers. Today the situation is such that Muslim is killing Muslim in the name of Islam. This is the reason that the non-Muslims can dictate their terms. The Muslims governments turn to non-Muslim powers for their problems. If a Muslim country is faced with disorder, rather than the other Muslim countries counsel them, USA and European countries force their will to solve the problem. The non-Muslim governments are extremely insulting in their attitude and this gives rise to protestation among the Muslims. Due to non-compliance of the teachings of Islam, rather than ascending to great heights the Muslims are plunging to a descent.

God has stated that the principle of adopting good works in following the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) will alone be beneficial. Although the Muslims today do acknowledge that it is their actions that bring them disgrace they will not accept to adopt the ways to good works that have been stated regarding the current age. God sent the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) as the Mahdi because of his deep and ardent love for the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Not only do they reject this ardent devotee of the Prophet, rather, today the very definition of a Muslims entails using abusive language for him. 

Citing an example of the effusive honour the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) accorded to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) in his Urdu poetry, Huzur said in this age none other had, or indeed can have, the correct insight of the spiritual luminosity of the Prophet apart from the Promised Messiah. The way he expounded the spiritual light of the Prophet is unique. Huzur read out an extract from his noble writings to elucidate the subject: 

‘The Holy Qur’an has set this matter out in an excellent allegory as follows:

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a lustrous niche, wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a glittering star. It is lit from a blessed tree — an olive — neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would well-nigh glow forth even though fire touched it not. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whomsoever He will. And Allah sets forth parables to men, and Allah knows all things full well. (Surah Al Nur, 24:36). This means that God is the light of heaven and earth, that is to say, every light that is visible in the heights or in the depths, whether in souls or in bodies, whether personal or acquired, whether overt or covert, whether inner or external, is a bounty of His grace. This is an indication that the general grace of the Lord of the worlds encompasses everything and that nothing is without His grace. He is the source of all grace and the Cause of causes of all lights and the fountain-head of all mercies. His Being is the support of the whole universe and is the refuge of all high and low. He brought everything out of the darkness of nothingness and bestowed upon it the robe of existence. There is no other being who exists in his own right and is eternal, or is not the recipient of His grace. The earth and heaven and mankind and animals and stones and trees and souls and bodies, all owe their existence to His grace.

This is general grace which is mentioned in this verse; Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. This grace encompasses everything like a circle. For being the beneficiary of this grace, there is no condition attached. As compared with this there is a special grace which has conditions attached and which is bestowed only upon those individuals who have the ability and capacity to receive it, that is to say, on the perfect individuals who are Prophets, the best and highest of whom is Muhammad, the chosen one, [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. As that grace is a fine verity, therefore, God Almighty, after mentioning the general grace, has described the special grace for the purpose of expounding the light of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] in an allegory so that it should be easily understood.

The translation of the remaining part of the above verse is: That light is exemplified (by the perfect man, the Messenger) as if there were a lustrous niche (by which is meant the breast of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him). In the niche, there is a lamp (meaning Divine revelation). The lamp is contained in a crystal globe as bright as a glittering star, (meaning the pure and holy heart of the Holy Prophet – peace and blessings of Allah be on him - which in its nature is free from all dirt and opaqueness, like a clear mirror and has no relationship except with God. That mirror is as bright as a glittering star, which shines in heaven with great glory, (meaning that the heart of the Holy Prophet – peace and blessings of Allah be on him - is so clear and bright that its inner light is displayed on its outer surface flowing like water). That lamp is lit with the oil of a blessed tree, (which is an olive tree). (By this is meant the being of the Holy Prophet – peace and blessings of Allah be on him - which is a collection of diverse types of blessings and the grace of which is not confined to any place or age or direction, but is everlastingly flowing and will never be cut off). The blessed tree is neither of the east nor of the west, (that is to say, the nature of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] suffers neither from excess nor from deficiency and has been created in the best mould). The oil of the blessed tree by which the lamp of revelation is lit, means the fine bright reason of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] together with the natural high moral qualities which are nourished by the clear fountain of his perfect reason.

 The meaning of the lamp of revelation being lit up by the high moral qualities of the Holy Prophet – peace and blessings of Allah be on him - is that the grace of revelation descended upon them and they were the cause of the descent of revelation. There is here also an indication that the grace of revelation was in accord with the nature of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] the explanation of which is that revelation descends in accord with the nature of the Prophet to whom it is vouchsafed. For instance, the temperament of Moses [peace be on him] was compounded of glory and wrath; so in accord with it the Torah was revealed in the framework of a majestic law. Jesus had a temperament which was meek and gentle and so the Gospel teaches meekness and gentleness. The Holy Prophet was by temperament extremely firm and steadfast. He disliked to be unduly lenient, nor did he like to be wrathful on every occasion. Instead his was a sagacious temperament that paid due regard to the demands of the occasion. Therefore, the Holy Qur’an was also revealed in an appropriate and moderate mould which combines severity and kindness, awe and compassion, and hardness and softness. In this verse, God Almighty has disclosed that the lamp of the revelation of the Qur’an has been lit from the oil of a blessed tree which is neither of the east nor of the west, but is in accord with the moderate temperament of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] which has neither the severity of the temperament of Moses, nor the softness of the temperament of Jesus but is a compound of hardness and softness and of wrath and compassion and displays perfect moderation and is a combination of majesty and beauty. The high moral qualities of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] are referred to in another place in the Holy Qur’an in the words: (O Prophet) You have been created blessed with high moral qualities (68:5). This means that the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] was created with such perfection of high moral qualities as could not be exceeded. The word azeem, which has been used in the verse, signifies in Arabic idiom, the highest perfection of the species. For instance, when it is said that a tree is azeem, it means that it possesses all the length and breadth which it is possible for a tree to possess. Some lexicologists have said that azeem signifies greatness which is beyond human ken.

The oil would well-nigh glow forth even though no fire were to touch it; (that is to say, the reason and all the high qualities of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] were so perfect and appropriate and delicate and bright, that they were ready to be lit up even before the receipt of revelation). Light upon light; that is to say, that many lights were combined in the blessed being of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] and on those lights descended the heavenly light of Divine revelation and thereby the being of the ‘Khatam-ul-Anbiya’ [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] became a combination of lights (Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Vol. I, pp. 191-195, footnote 11).

[Translation of the above passages taken from Essence of Islam, Vol. I, pp. 248 – 253)

Huzur said thus was the perfect light of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) which was a reflection of the God’s light. This is the light that alone will bestow beneficence till the Day of Judgement. In the current age the greatest portion of this light has been attained by his true and ardent devotee (on whom be peace) so that he could continue to spread the light in the world and the world could seek its beneficence. It is for the continuation of this mission that he was given the title of Khatam-ul-Khulafa (seal of all Khalifas). Those who came before him carried out their work in specific areas. Today, through the Messiah of Muhammad (on whom be peace) the light of the lamp is to be diffused by placing it on a very high niche. Today this work is being carried out by the followers of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) alone. After the Khatam-ul-Khulafa it is the institution of Khilafat alone that will fulfil these obligations with God’s help and assistance.

The verse following the above, ‘This light is now lit in houses with regard to which Allah has ordained that they be exalted and that His name be remembered in them. Glorify Him therein in the mornings and the evenings’ (24:37) cites those houses where God’s commandments are put in practice. Huzur said these houses will be exalted. He said the first step in becoming a helper of faith is to remember God, to observe Prayer and to remember that the one who possessed the exalted light that we aspire to be a recipient of said ‘the coolness of my eyes is in Prayer.’ Huzur said often the Zuhr and Asr Salat are combined. This should not be practised apart from in exceptional circumstances. Huzur recounted a Hadith in which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that he offered the four rakah of Salat before Zuhr because this was a time when the doors of the heavens were flung open and he wished for acceptance. Huzur said today the followers of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) should aspire to maintain these standards.

The next verse states ‘Men whom neither trade nor commerce makes oblivious of the remembrance of Allah and the observance of Prayer, and the giving of the Zakat. They fear a day in which hearts and eyes will be agitated’ (24:38). Huzur said the Companions of the Holy Prophet attained this standard despite all their other obligations. They were never negligent of paying the dues of God and by paying Zakat they fulfilled the dues of mankind. The examples they set were by virtue of the embodiment of light (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who is a blessed exemplar till today. Explaining the difference between the Arabic words tijarat (trade) and bai’ (commerce) in the above verse Huzur said tijarat signifies buying and selling where as bai’ signifies only selling. The services are also included in this [bai’] category. In these countries [West] these are widespread. In order to finish one’s work on time one overlooks the real obligation. A true believer should not be distracted by the activities of the world and should be always heedful of the Hereafter.

Explaining the next verse, ‘So that Allah may give them the best reward of their deeds, and give them increase out of His bounty. And Allah does provide for whomsoever He pleases without measure’ (24:39) Huzur said the light that God created in the being of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the perfect teaching that He revealed through him became a source to exalt the believers’ houses. This is a matter that is continual and can prevail through good works. God thus states in this verse that if you do good works and establish them you will be rewarded excellently. With His grace alone He will bestow you more; your one step will be rewarded manifold.

May God enable us to establish the light that we have attained through the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) in our hearts and in our homes as well as benefit from it. May He continue to confer His blessings on us and may we always do good works.