Hudhur recited the following verses at the start of his Friday sermon:
‘It teaches that you should worship none but Allah. I am to you a Warner, and a bearer of glad tidings from Him;
And that you seek forgiveness of your Lord, and then turn to Him. He will provide for you a goodly provision until an appointed term. And He will grant His grace to every one possessed of merit. And if you turn away, then surely, I fear for you the punishment of a colossal day.’ (Surah Hud, verses 3 & 4)
Hudhur said today there is turmoil everywhere in the world in one shape or the other. This is a result of man forgetting his objective of creation, that is, inclination towards worship of God and endeavour to gain Divine nearness. Indeed, Divine nearness cannot be attained without worship of God. Explaining, Hudhur said worship of God does not only entail offering the five daily Prayers. It includes offering them with due care and devoutness. It also necessitates keeping God in view in every matter and making an effort to imbue oneself in Divine hue. It necessitates following the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) in every matter and it also includes keeping the Divine attributes in view and trying and adopting them on a human level. One’s best effort to pay the dues of God and the dues of mankind are also necessary for this. Practising these aspects make a Momin (believer) one who pays the dues of worship of God.
Explaining the essence of the Quranic teachings, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘…you should worship none but Allah…’. The truth of the matter is that the real reason for the creation of mankind is worship. Just as it is stated elsewhere: ‘And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.’ (51:57). True worship is when man removes all hardness and crookedness and makes the terrain of his heart as clear as a farmer clears his field…as collyrium/ kohl is ground extremely finely so that it can be put in eyes. Similarly, state of worship is when the terrain of heart is free of grit, pebbles and unevenness and is so clean as if it embodies pure soul. If a mirror is cleaned in this manner one can see in it and if soil is thus treated, all kinds of fruits grow in it. Therefore, if man, who has been created to worship God, cleans his heart and does not let any grit, pebbles or unevenness remain in it, God will be seen in it.’ The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) further said: ‘This is the reason you should not rest until such time that, apart from God, you free your heart of grit and pebbles and make it clear like a mirror and fine like collyrium.’
Explaining, Hudhur said one has to continually try to reach such a state. In order to protect ourselves from the disorder around us and to seek God’s grace, there is need to connect to God with sincerity. Most people are not directly involved in evil or disorder but the environment influences them one way or the other and one becomes a part of transgression subconsciously. A broad example of this is in the persecution of Ahmadis around the world, in particular in Pakistan. People who do not even have any knowledge about Ahmadiyyat attest documents that use vulgar language against the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). Rather than God, the worship of such people subconsciously is aimed at gaining nearness of worldly people. Corruption in religion destroys discharging of the dues of God and dues of mankind. This is what happens in history of religion. Once corruption appears in religion, God sends His Prophets to reform people who directly alert people towards worship of God. Thus God sent the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and taught the ways of worship of God through him. He was the perfect man who imbibed Divine attributes to the highest degree, as much as it is humanly possible to imbibe them. God commanded that the example of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was a blessed model for us to follow and it was the way to reach God. This did not simply signify that his Salat was worship, rather his every word and every practice was worship of God. And thus religion was perfected with the Shariah that was revealed to him. However, God also declared that, as in earlier times when with the passage of time people turned away from the basis of religion, this would also happen in Islam. Although the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was the last law-bearing Prophet and there was to be no more religious law after him, yet such a condition would come to pass and when it would reach its worst point, in his subservience his true and ardent devotee would come to once again establish religion in the world. He would explain the reality of worship and he would do this owing to his subservience to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Unfortunately a large majority of Muslims have not understood this.
Hudhur said as the aforementioned verse cites ‘…I am to you a Warner, and a bearer of glad tidings…’, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was a Warner then and remains to this day. His era will last till the Day of Judgement and he still warns and alerts people. Hudhur explained that a ‘Warner’ is not someone who only warns people, rather he also alerts people to avoid what is bad. For example, in spite of verbally professing the Kalima (pronouncement of Muslim faith) if one does not practise all aspects of religion, one is in loss. On the other hand, the glad tiding is in the advent of one who was promised to come in the latter days to facilitate nearness to God and teach ways of worship of God.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) says: ‘It is true that man cannot attain this objective without the help of a pure-natured person. Therefore, for this arrangement and accomplishment, Allah the Exalted sent the perfect model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and then started a lasting succession of his true successors so that the Braham priests who have no awareness of their ending could be refuted. It is a proven fact that a young person who is not from a farming family will cut off plants as he weeds. Similarly, spiritual farming cannot be done in a perfect manner unless one is under a perfect person, who has accomplished all the stages of sowing, irrigation and weeding. This illustrates that man is in need of a perfect spiritual teacher. Without a perfect spiritual teacher, worship by man is like a foolish and unaware child sitting in a field cutting off plants, while in his assumption he is weeding. Do not ever assume that you will learn ways of worship on your own. Certainly not; not until the Prophet teaches, the paths of complete and devout absorption in God cannot be found. The natural question thus arises, how can this difficult task be fulfilled? God Himself gave its solution.’
Explaining, Hudhur added, the solution given by God is Ishtighfar. Hudhur also said that in this age and for always, the successor of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) whom God has also called Khatamul Khulafa (seal of all Khulafa). God certainly guides those who engage in sincere Istighfar and try to fulfil the dues of worship of God if they follow the true successor. The second verse recited at the beginning of the sermon teaches ways of Istighfar: ‘And that you seek forgiveness of your Lord, and then turn to Him. He will provide for you a goodly provision until an appointed term. And He will grant His grace to every one possessed of merit. And if you turn away, then surely, I fear for you the punishment of a colossal day.’ Hudhur explained that Istighfar washes away spiritual corrosion but it requires constancy. Real Istighfar is in repenting those sentiments which displease God. This leads to a state of ‘turning to Him’ and thus man gains nearness to God. True Istaghfar does not constitute mere words. One has to try and change one’s inner self and this is what attains nearness to God and brings about spiritual and worldly benefits and one is a recipient of God’s blessings.
In light of this verse, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) says: ‘Remember, the Muslims have been bestowed two things; one for obtaining strength and the other for the practical demonstration of the strength that has been obtained.
Istighfar is for obtaining strength. It is also called seeking help. The Sufis have said that as physical strength and power is fostered through exercise, in the same way,
Istighfar is spiritual exercise. Through it, the soul obtains strength and the heart achieves steadfastness. He who desires strength should do Istighfar.’ (Essence of Islam Vol. II, p. 246)
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also said that through Istighfar man tries to suppress and cover those sentiments and thoughts which keep one away from God. Thus Istighfar means that one overcomes those toxic matters which attack and try to destroy man and having avoided impediments of the way which leads to implementation of the commandments of God, one actually practises these commandments. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God has placed two kinds of matters in man; one that is delegated by Satan and the other which is antidotal/curative. When man is arrogant and conceited and does not take the help of the curative matter, the negative matter becomes dominant in him. However, when man has a very humble and meek view of himself and feels he is in need of God’s help, God generates a spring in him through which his soul is softened and flows out and this is what is meant by Istighfar. That is, having found the strength, man overcomes the toxic matters. Explaining, Hudhur said the softening and flowing of soul is not attained by mere verbal professing of Istighfar. Rather, it should be borne out of heartfelt emotions which flow in tears of the eyes in the Presence of God; this is Istighfar. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said, ‘In short it means that stay firm on worship. Firstly obey the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), secondly always seek help from God. Yes, first seek help from your Lord. When the strength is granted, turn to God.’
Further elucidating, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Istighfar and Taubah (repentance) are two separate matters. From one point of view, Istighfar has priority over repentance, inasmuch as Istighfar is the help and strength which are obtained from God and repentance means standing on one’s own feet. It is the way of God that when a person seeks help from Him, He bestows strength and with that strength the supplicant stands on his own feet and thus possesses the faculty to do good, which is called ‘turning to God’. This is the natural sequence of it. It is appointed for seekers that they should seek help from God in every condition. Till a seeker obtains strength from God, he can do nothing. The strength for repentance is acquired after Istighfar. If there is no Istighfar, the faculty of repentance dies. If you will thus follow up Istighfar with repentance, the result will be as set out in the verse:
‘He will provide for you a goodly provision until an appointed term.’
This is the way of God, that those who follow up Istighfar with repentance will achieve their cherished grades. Every sense has its limits within which it achieves its
high grades; not everyone can be a Prophet or a Messenger or a Truthful (Siddiq) or a Testifier (Shahid). (Essence of Islam Vol. II, p. 245)
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) further said that each seeker attains grades in accordance with his capacity and this is what the verse ‘And He will grant His grace to every one possessed of merit’ signifies. However if a person possesses extra capacity, God would grant him extra in his spiritual endeavours/exercise. He said God does not deprive anyone his due.
Next Hudhur related some accounts of the spiritual assemblies graced by the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace).
Once a person asked the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) for a Wazifah (formulaic prayer). The Promised Messiah replied: ‘Say Istighfar profusely. Man has only two conditions; either he does not commit any sin or Allah the Exalted saves him from the bad ending of sin. Therefore, both these meanings should be kept in mind when saying Istighfar. Firstly covering of past sins is sought from Allah the Exalted and secondly capacity to be protected from future sins is sought from God. However, Istighfar is not fulfilled by mere verbal utterance; it should be from the heart. It is important to also supplicate in one’s own tongue during Salat.’
Once a man appeared in the Promised Messiah’s (on whom be peace) company and said that had certain flaws, he had been to many Pirs (ascetics) but could not remain convinced of any of them for long. He said he had the flaw of backbiting, he was not inclined to worship and had many other deficiencies. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) responded: ‘I understand, your real problem is impatience. The rest are its conditions. When man is not impatient in his worldly matters and waits for results patiently and with constancy, why then does he demonstrate impatience in Presence of God? Does a farmer sow his seeds and starts thinking of harvest in one day? Or as soon as a baby is born wants him to grow up and help him? There are no precepts and examples of such rush and haste. One who wishes to be so hasty is very silly. A person who can see his flaws as flaws should consider himself very fortunate, otherwise Satan shows bad deeds and immoral acts in good and beautiful light. Thus, you should give up your impatience and seek capacity from Allah the Exalted with patience and constancy and ask forgiveness for your sins. There is nothing apart from this. A person who comes to people of God wishing that they may blow on him and reform him, wants to govern God, whereas this should be approached submissively. Unless one leaves all worldly powers, nothing can be attained. When an ailing person goes to a physician he relates many problems, but the physician recognises and diagnoses the real problem and starts its treatment. Similarly, your problem is impatience. If you cure that, if God wills the other problems will also go away. Our creed is that man should never lose hope in Allah the Exalted and should continue to seek until he is in the throes of death. Unless man takes his patience and seeking to this limit, he cannot be successful. Allah the Exalted is Powerful and if He wills He can make one successful in an instant…there are two kinds of diseases, one Mastavi (straight, direct) and the other Mukhtalif (diverse). Mustavi disease is that which has apparent pain and man is concerned about its cure but does not have any care for Mukhtalif disease. Similarly, some sins are perceptible while others are imperceptible to man. This is why it is needed that man should always engage in Istighfar. What is the benefit in going to graves? Allah the Exalted has sent the Holy Qur’an for reformation. If it was God’s law to reform by blowing, why would have the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) endured so much persecution for thirteen years in Makkah? He could have had influence over Abu Jahl. Let alone Abu Jahl, Abu Talib even had love for the Prophet. In short impatience is not good. It can lead to destruction.’
Once a person requested for prayers regarding his debt and the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Say Istighfar profusely. This is the method for man to avoid grief. Istighfar is the key to progress.’ Hudhur added that only that Istighfar will unlock the doors of progress which is sincere.
Once a person asked for prayers that he may have children and the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Say Istighfar a lot. It effaces sin and Allah the Exalted also grants offspring. Remember, belief is very important. God Himself helps that person who is perfect in belief.’ At another instance the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said, ‘Man should say Istighfar for protection against weaknesses. Istighfar works to avoid chastisement of sin like a prisoner pays a penalty to secure his release.’
At another instance the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘It is necessary that man always engages in Istighfar and Taubah lest bad deeds exceed limits and incur the wrath of Allah the Exalted. When Allah the Exalted looks on someone with His grace, He usually instils that person’s love in hearts. However, when man’s evil exceeds limits, his disapproval is willed in the heavens and in accordance to the will of Allah the Exalted people’s hearts are hardened for him. Yet, as soon as that person turns to the Divine threshold with Istighfar and Taubah and seeks refuge, tenderness is generated clandestinely and without anyone realising, seed of love for that person is sown in hearts of people. In short, the formula of Istighfar and Taubah is tried and tested and does not fail.’
Today the bad deeds of people of this world have created turmoil. Those leaders who presumed to be the beloved of the masses are the worst in the eyes of the masses and there are signs that the turn of those who are still considered favourites is imminent. The changes in governments resulting from the turmoil around the world have generated further disorder. We should pray a lot that God may save the world from disorder. Istighfar helps in fulfilling the objectives of worship of God, and enables one to pay the dues of God and the dues of mankind, it strengthens the bond with one sent by God and thus saves man from the turmoil of this world and from God’s displeasure, it keeps one on the paths that lead to Divine nearness and it also fulfils one’s personal needs and takes one out of problems. Man becomes the recipient of numberless blessings of God through Istighfar. God has blessed us that we have recognised the Imam of the age, who has guided us about worship, seeking God’s nearness and how to garner His blessings. In order to truly benefit from this we should constantly engage in Istighfar. May God enable us all to do so.