Friday Sermon: How to become grateful servants of God

April 23rd, 2010

Today Hudhur delivered his Friday Sermon from Noor Mosque, Wigoltingen, Switzerland. Hudhur said he often draws our attention to become grateful servants of God. True gratefulness can only be generated when one has taqwa, an understanding of our object of creation and makes an effort to attain it. During his current European tour Hudhur has been giving sermons to draw attention to the same. He said the need to reiterate the subject arises because in spite of the facility of MTA which broadcasts Hudhur’s Friday Sermons every week as well as programmes for spiritual development, a hundred percent people do not avail of these and a good number of men, women and youngsters do not listen to the sermons regularly or if they do they assume that the sermon is only intended for the congregation to which it is directly addressed. On the contrary, Hudhur said, every single Ahmadi is addressed in each sermon. In particular those who have been Ahmadis for some generations have adopted this erroneous attitude. Whereas new Arab Ahmadis inform Hudhur that sometimes it feels as if Hudhur is delivering a sermon specifically for their situation. Listening to the Russian translation of Hudhur’s sermons on MTA, many Russian-speaking Ahmadis write to Hudhur and say how much the sermons affect them, in particular they find sermons on Tarbiyyat matters as if specific to their situation. In response to the sermon on weddings rituals they wrote to say that they too were embroiled in some rituals but after the sermon had turned towards reformation.

Hudhur said those Ahmadis who look out for the call of the Khalifa of the time, obey it and reform themselves. They eagerly listen to his advice and consider themselves as the addressee of his words, but some do not. Hence Hudhur reiterates the subject in each country that he visits. Hudhur said on his visit large congregation gathers for Friday Prayers and as each Ahmadi does have a seed of piety in him/her as well as a connection with Khilafat, therefore in spite of general weakness they eagerly participate during a Khalifa’s visit.

Hudhur said firstly he would like to draw the attention of Ahmadis who have come to live in Europe to become Abd e Shakur [servant of the Most Appreciating God]. Hudhur said Ahmadis have found mental peace and economic well-being in Switzerland, for this, they should be most grateful. God states: ‘…If you are grateful, I will, surely, bestow more favours on you…’ (14:8) Hudhur remarked what is gratefulness of God’s grace and its expression? Indeed, it is perfect obedience. It is to practice what God enjoins and to avoid what He forbids. A true believer spends his/her life as Abd e Shakur in order to be a recipient of Divine grace. For this one has to remember God’s favours with all one’s heart and mind throughout the course of one’s day and to continually remember Him, be always mindful of the blessings of God and glorify His name. Hudhur further explained that mere verbal professing is not sufficient, the expression of gratefulness of a true believer is from his/her every gesture and there is an effort to adopt humility and humility is inculcated when there is an awareness that all blessings are from God.

Good health is a blessing of God, we should utilise it to worship Him and to serve religion. He has given us abundance, prosperity, without being arrogant about it, we should spend in God’s cause. If we employ our God-given capacities and capabilities according to God’s teaching then it is an expression of gratefulness. God is Most Gracious, He enhances our capacities, grants us good health and bestows His nearness to an Abid (worshipper of God) and enables to attain the object of our creation. Indeed, man cannot even perform worship that gains acceptance with his own strength. Sincere gratefulness enables us to enhance in piety and taqwa.

God states: ‘And whatever good they do, they shall not be denied its due reward; and Allah well knows the God-fearing.’ (3:116). Hudhur explained that true piety is attained when one associates with all one’s being, one’s capacities and blessings to God’s grace. And how does God manifest as Al Shakur (the Most Appreciating) to such people? He states: ‘In order that He may give them their full rewards, and even increase them out of His bounty. He is surely Most Forgiving, Most Appreciating.(35:31). Hudhur explained that the term Shakur does not signify humility and gratefulness for God, in fact it signifies that He likes and appreciates the humility, piety and worship of His servants. Once man comprehends that when every piety and virtue is undertaken for God and then one turns to Him with utmost sincerity, God is Ever Merciful. His mercy encompasses everything; He envelops one in His mercy and sees each step in His direction with appreciation. How unfortunate if one leaves an Ever Merciful, Most Appreciating God and goes elsewhere.

Hudhur said if those who have settled in Switzerland reflect on their past, most will agree that coming here has been a blessing for them. No one leaves their home-country without a reason and for the Ahmadis the two main reasons to do so have been persecution in their home-country and economic migration. Hudhur said the governments of these [Western] countries have deemed your situations to be factual and have allowed you to stay here. This blessing is due to Ahmadiyyat. We should thus express our gratefulness by adopting an exemplary connection with Ahmadiyyat. If we do not appreciate our Community and do not pay heed to the word of the Khalifa of the time, we will we be distancing ourselves as well as our children from God.

Hudhur said stop, think and reflect; if the worldly benefit is taking you away from religion then there is no blessing in it, rather it is destructive and is a lack of appreciation of the blessings of God. We have taken the bai’at of the Imam of the age for whom each nation is waiting and for whom the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) spoke most affectionately and sent his greetings. Is it a small matter to be associated with such a person? Certainly it is a huge honour and an appreciation of this honour would make us Abd e Shakur. Associating oneself to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is not just an act of verbal professing, we have pledged allegiance to him in our bai’at and after him have done the same with the Khalifa of the time. Bai’at means selling and it signifies a pledge to sacrifice all one’s desires over God’s commandment, it signifies negating one’s own wishes and signifies considering God to be Ever Present.

Hudhur said he would briefly cite the conditions on which the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) took our bai’at so that every one may self-reflect and self-examine how we are faring regarding this because God states: ‘….and fulfil the covenant; for the covenant shall be questioned about.’ (17:35)

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) took our pledge to abstain from all manner of shirk (associating partners with God) with sincerity of heart. Hudhur expounded that shirk does not only entail worship of stone idols, rather, there is also shirk which is hidden and is not so obvious. For example, disregarding Salat for the sake of one’s employment/business, to give precedence to worldly matters as if God is not Razaaq (the Great Sustainer) rather it is one’s business or employment that would sustain one. Sometimes one’s children go against the word of God, in such instance complying with them becomes shirk. Hudhur said some people are distanced from Ahmadiyyat because of their children. God states: ‘O ye who believe! let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah…’ (63:10). Hudhur said this negligence is not an insignificant one; rather it leads one to destruction.

An Ahmadi is also expected to keep away from falsehood, fornication, adultery, trespasses of the eye, debauchery, dissipation, cruelty, dishonesty, mischief and rebellion. Hudhur said we need to constantly evaluate ourselves whether we are staying away from falsehood; some people have a very broad and erroneous understanding of falsehood. Hudhur said as regard fornication and trespass of the eye, through the media of video and internet vulgar and obscene programmes can be accessed. These affect young people in particular. Hudhur said this evil first encroaches in the name of freedom and open-mindedness and some unfortunate families get personally embroiled in it. Hudhur said first there is fornication of the mind and the eye which can lead to reality. At first parents do not pay attention and later on they are distraught. Children should not be allowed to watch vulgar programmes on the TV and careful eye should be kept on their internet use. If parents do not have the know-how/knowledge then Jama’at and the auxiliaries should organise awareness programmes about these and promote their respective members to affiliate with their auxiliary organisation so that they may go on to give precedence to faith over worldly matters. Parents should give complete cooperation in this as any weakness on their part can be cause of destruction. The greatest responsibility lays with the head of the household, the man. He should save his children from the Fire from which God has saved him. While the Muslim world is extremely restless for leadership, Ahmadis have the blessing of Khilafat that constantly guides. This blessing demands that we pledge to shun every evil and move onwards. We should always remember God states: ‘O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire…’ (66:7). These days one comes across gaping moral ills, which are not considered immoral in the West. These are first followed in the name of open-mindedness, later it is realised they are neither entertainment nor freedom, rather these are pits of fire in the name of entertainment and freedom. Hudhur said to young people that they should understand it is not the object of their lives to get involved in these frivolities. By token of being an Ahmadi, there should be a distinct difference between them and others. Hudhur said all Ahmadis should avoid oppression and injustice. There should be mutual affection within the Community while avoiding deception of all kind and following Nizaam e Jama’at (the administrative system) of the Community. The beauty of our Community is with its Nizaam e Jama’at alone. Distancing oneself from it takes away the difference between us and the others. Some say they are most loyal to Khilafat but have differences with the Nizaam e Jama’at. They should understand the Nizaam e Jama’at is created by Khilafat. If anyone has any grievance they should write to the Khalifa of the time but no one is allowed to disregard the discipline of the Community. Similarly the office-holders also have a responsibility to keep a deportment of justice and affection.

Then attention is drawn to Salat, about which Hudhur expounded earlier. The fourth condition of bai’at is that one will not cause harm of anyone under the impulse of any passion. Then one will remain faithful to God in all circumstances, in sorrow and happiness, in adversity and prosperity. Hudhur said some people have been victims of the current economics crisis; however one must not leave God’s protection. One is expected to avoid worldly customs and lustful inclinations, submit oneself to the authority of the Qur’an, obey God and His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). One should entirely give up pride and vanity and spend life in humility.

The eighth condition of bai’at is that one shall hold faith, the honour of faith, and the cause of Islam dearer to one than one’s life, wealth, honour, children and all other dear ones. Hudhur said this is indeed a very significant condition which each Ahmadi should be mindful of. The outside world is watching us for we claim to represent the true picture of Islam. Therefore it is our responsibility to maintain Islam’s honour. We can only do successful Tabligh if our own models are pious. Today there is opposition to Islam all around us. It is our task to present a picture of true Islam to the world. Opponents of Islam have tried their ways in this country as well by banning the construction of minarets. Would the absence of minarets put a stop to criminal activities? Although a decision has been taken regarding the minarets, a momentum should be maintained about this issue. Write to newspapers, hold seminars. The law to ban minarets was made following a referendum, a referendum could also overturn it. Of course minarets do not have that much significance as they became a feature much later on [in Islamic history]. However, it is a matter of the honour of Islam. You should give them the example of Ahmadiyyat, that it is established in 195 countries of the world but there is never an instance of breaking the law or any participation in any unrest against the government of the land. We are the true picture of Islam. Hudhur said rather than be inward-looking, individual connections should be made [with the locals] by those who know the [local] language. Those who do not know the language can distribute literature. Each person will have to participate in this. Another issue that has been raised in Europe is that of Purdah. Our ladies and girls should organise a campaign to write to newspapers. Our girls did a good job in the UK and Germany regarding this. We should let the world know that Purdah is for the honour of a lady although some have distorted its form. Purdah is to uphold a lady’s honour. It is in the nature of women to wish for respect and Islam champions the dignity of women. Purdah is not coercion; it marks the individuality of Muslim women and upholds their honour. Hudhur said he would say to Ahmadi girls that they should not feel any complex in this matter. If they feel uncomfortable in light of the negative propaganda or choose to follow trends and abandon their Purdah then there can be no guarantee of their respect. Their respect is tied with the respect of faith.

Hudhur said he has related this incidence before where an Ahmadi girl was given a month’s notice by her boss to give up Purdah or lose her job. The girl prayed to God that she observed Purdah for His sake alone and sought His help. For a month the boss kept annoying the girl about the matter. After the month passed while the girl kept her job, the boss was either dismissed or transferred from his post. Hudhur said if one’s intention is good, God helps.

The ninth condition of bai’at is that one will remain occupied in the service of God’s creation and mankind. Hudhur said this will be truly fulfilled when we try to bring the world closer to God.

The last condition is that one will keep a bond of devotion and obedience with the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which will surpass all worldly relations and bonds. Hudhur said, again we need to reflect whether our relations and connections come in the way of our bond with the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). We will ascertain this standard and level when we will adopt the teachings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and will display perfect obedience to Khilafat, the ‘Second Manifestation’. Complete obedience and loyalty to Khilafat alone will make us a bona fide member of the Community; otherwise, we will be simply donning a label. Hudhur said may it not be so that those who join the Community later get ahead and the Ahmadis whose forefathers gave tremendous sacrifices to start the well-springs are deprived of them.

God revealed to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) more than once ‘[God] will place those who follow you above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection.’ This is also a Quranic verse (3:56). However, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that one cannot fulfil the connotation of being his true follower unless one negates oneself in obedience to him. He went on to say that this illustrates that God has willed to create a Community for him that will indeed negate itself in his obedience.

Thus are the expectations of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). If we truly wish to form a bond with him we will have to endeavour to fulfil his expectations and to self-reflect. For every elderly, every woman, every youth to do so. Parents should watch over their children affectionately and make them aware of the teachings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and make the difference between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis clear to them. The administration of the Jama’at and the auxiliaries should make practical programmes. If we spend our lives in seeking the world, this would be ungratefulness. May God enable every Ahmadi to be a true Ahmadi; one who always partakes a measure of God’s grace.