Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih recited the following verses at the start of Friday sermon today:
‘Verily you have in the Prophet of Allah an excellent model, for him who fears Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah much.’ (33:22)
‘Say, ‘If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you and forgive you your faults. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.’ (3:32)
In order to become the recipient of Divine grace, favours and blessings, God has taught to become His Abd (servant), those who follow His commandments. Last Friday sermon mentioned that by following God’s commandments one comes into the category of true Abd. For this purpose God has sent numerous instructions so that we can become corroborators of ‘…So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me…’ (2:187) and gain the pleasure of being a true Abd and experience acceptance of prayers. Although there are numerous Quranic commandments to attain this objective, but human nature is such that it is more influenced by practical example. When one claims to love someone, one tries to adopt every practice of the beloved. When faith is included in this love one wishes to please the beloved as well as secure one’s faith.
We are fortunate to be included in the Ummah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who was an exemplar of all the Quranic commandments, presenting a perfect and blessed model. The aforementioned verses draw attention to this subject and command that a Muslim claiming to have faith will accomplish faith and will gain nearness to God when he or she will follow the blessed model of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Without following his blessed model it is pointless to hope for the Hereafter, without it piety cannot be called piety, worship is not worship. Without following his blessed model, Dikhr (remembrance of God) cannot reach that stage from which one gains nearness to God, salvation from sin is not possible without it and one cannot partake of God’s Raheemiyyat (Divine quality of being Merciful) and one cannot attain God’s love. He was the most beloved person of God and if he is not followed, one cannot attain God’s love either.
Fortunately, we are Muslims but we will only derive the beneficence of being a part of the Ummah when we will try to walk in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He made is very clear that God’s nearness and love cannot be attained by following steps which he did not practice. In the current age, it is the favour of his true and ardent devotee, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) that he has guided us to understand and indeed practice the true example of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He informed us that some new innovations of worship which are not to be seen in the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) cannot attain nearness to God because in order to attain nearness to God it is essential to follow the Prophet’s blessed model.
Before presenting examples of the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) which is guidance in becoming a true Abd, here is what the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote about the status of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He wrote:
‘Say: O my servants who have committed excesses against your own selves despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah will forgive all sins. [39:54] In this verse instead of: O servants of Allah; the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] was commanded to say: O my servants. This verse was revealed in this form so that God Almighty might convey the good news of limitless mercies and might comfort those who are broken-hearted in consequence of their sins. Thus, Allah the Glorious desired to exhibit a sample of His mercies and to make it manifest to what extent He honours His faithful servant with special favours. By adopting the form: Say: O my servants; God in effect said: Look at My beloved Messenger and see at what high rank he has arrived through his perfect obedience to Me that now all that is Mine is his. He who desires salvation should become his servant. That is to say, he should obey him so perfectly as if he was his slave. Then whatever sins he might have committed will be forgiven him. The word ‘abd in Arabic idiom also means slave as it is said: ‘…even a believing slave is better than an idolater…’ [2:222]
In the verse to which we have drawn attention, it is indicated that he who desires salvation should establish the relationship of a slave with this Prophet. That is to say, he should not step outside his commandment and should consider himself bound to his obedience as a slave is bound and he would then obtain salvation. One pities those benighted souls who bear such rancour towards the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] that they consider that names like Ghulam Nabi, Ghulam Rasul, Ghulam Mustafa, Ghulam Ahmad and Ghulam Muhammad, amount to associating the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] with God, whereas the verse indicates that these names are a means of salvation. As ‘abd implies that a person so named should refrain from every kind of freedom and self-direction and should be completely obedient to his master, therefore, the seekers after truth have been urged that if they wish to attain salvation they should adapt themselves to this condition. This verse has the same connotation as the verse: ‘Say, ‘If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you and forgive you your faults…’ [3:32].
Perfect following demands that devotion and full obedience which is conveyed in the expression ‘abd. The verse: Say: O my servants; means in effect: Say: O my followers, who are involved in sins, despair not of mercy of Allah; for Allah, through the blessing of your following me, will forgive all your sins. If the word servants in this verse is construed as meaning the servants of Allah, the meaning of the verse is perverted for it cannot be true that God Almighty would forgive all idol worshippers and disbelievers without their believing in and following the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. Such an interpretation would be contrary to the express directions of the Holy Qur’an.’ [Essence of Islam, Vol. I, pp. 204 – 206]
This is glad-tiding for that person who obeys the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and follows him because his perfect following erases the worst of sins. If one truly wishes to become an Abd and beloved of God it is most important to continue to follow the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) rather than follow it at the odd opportunity. The practice of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was not limited to any one aspect nor was it specific to Ramadan. According to Hadhrat ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) his life was a personification of the Holy Qur’an in all aspects of life. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also wrote:
‘It should be remembered that the purport of the verse is that those who become the sincere servants of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] will be bestowed the light, the faith, the love and the passion which will deliver them from all that is beside Allah, and they will be freed from sins and will be bestowed a pure life in this world and they will be delivered from the narrow and dark graves of human passions. This is indicated by the Hadith: That is, I am the resurrector at whose footsteps the dead are raised. The Holy Qur’an is full of the idiom that the world had died and that God Almighty revived it through sending the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] as is said: ‘Know that Allah quickens the earth after its death.’ [57:18]
In the same way, it is said with reference to the companions of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]: ‘…He has strengthened with inspiration from Himself…’ [58:23] This means that God helped them with the Holy Spirit. The help of the Holy Spirit is that it revives the hearts, delivers from spiritual death, bestows pure faculties, pure senses and pure knowledge, and carries a person to the station of nearness to God through certain knowledge and conclusive arguments.’ [Essence of Islam, Vol. I, pp, 206 – 207]
This is giving preference to pleasure of God and this is what the Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) practiced. As a result they were granted spiritual life and pure powers with which they fought Satan. They attained knowledge of the Qur’an and acquired certainty of belief in God and gained His nearness. They achieved all this by following the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be him) and they gained insight of the commandment of: ‘And as for those who strive in Our path — We will surely guide them in Our ways…’ (29:70).
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote:
‘This knowledge on which salvation depends cannot be obtained without that life which is bestowed through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Qur’an affirms it emphatically that that spiritual life is obtained only through following the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] and that all those who repudiate obedience to him are dead and do not possess that life. Spiritual life means the intellectual and active faculties which are brought to life by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Qur’an shows that the commandments of God to which He desires man to conform are six hundred. In consonance with this the wings of Gabriel are also six hundred. Till the egg of humanness lies under the wings of Gabriel bearing these six hundred commandments, it cannot hatch the baby of being completely lost in Allah. The reality of man has the capacity of six hundred eggs. A person whose six hundred eggs are covered by the six hundred wings of the capacity of Gabriel is the perfect man whose spiritual birth is perfect and whose life is perfect. If one looks with care one finds that the spiritual issue of the egg of humanness which by the blessing of the following of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] were born to the Holy Spirit, are more perfect and complete than the spiritual children of all the other Prophets. This is indicated by the verse:
‘You are the best of people who have been created for the good of mankind.’ [3:111] [Essence of Islam, Vol. I, pp. 207 – 208]
Having being declared as best of people, it is incumbent on us to try to bring about the spiritual revolution which we have been given the teaching for. We will only be able to reform others if we have reformed ourselves. We should continue to self-reflect and see where and how are we making efforts. Indeed, a sinful person can go on to become an Abd, but only though following the perfect and blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) with all one’s capacities.
Next some examples from the life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) were presented. He was that great Prophet who would be busy during the day in matters of governance and in the spiritual development of his followers. He would be thus busy in ordinary times but in times of emergency and war his engagements used to be extreme. Yet, we do not find any impediment in his worship of God during day or during the night. His worship at night time would be so intense that his feet would swell due to standing up for long periods of time. As the Qur’an states: ‘Verily, getting up at night is the most potent means of subduing the self and most effective in respect of words of prayer.’ (73:7) It is related that Hadhrat ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) that he was already close to God so why did he put himself through so much pain. He replied that being close to God did it not make his obligation that he was a grateful servant of God.
It is God’s favour on us that not only did He make us Muslims, He also enabled us to take the greetings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to His true and ardent devotee, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). This favour alone is so huge that we could never thank God for it. It should be the effort of every Ahmadi to try and pay the dues of worship of God according to his or her capacity. The routine to offer Nawafil (optional Salat) in Ramadan should not be temporary and should not be to attain worldly objectives; rather it should be to express gratefulness. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was extremely regular in observance of obligatory Salat. Even during severe illness he would go to the mosque walking with support. He put great significance on worship yet he did not like pretence in this regard. Once he noticed a dangling rope at home and upon asking was told that Hadhrat Zainab (may Allah be pleased with her) would use it as support when she became tired during Salat. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that one should stand in Salat for as long as one could manage worship with ease but when tired, one should sit down and continue worship. Some people make it habitual to sit and offer Salat some stay in bed to offer Fajr, this is incorrect. One should try to the best of one’s ability when offering Salat and everyone should gauge their capacity in this regard.
In spite of his exemplary worship and gratefulness, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that no one will be admitted to Paradise owing to their practices. When asked, he replied that even he would not be admitted to Paradise on this basis and said that only God’s grace and mercy would facilitate his entry to Paradise. What a sublime example of humility and fear of God is this. It is great cause for concern for those who show airs and graces at their every pious act. May God always keep us wrapped in His grace and forgiveness and may He enable us to offer true worship and to adopt humility. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said adopt piety in your tasks and find the way to Divine nearness. He said no one should wish for death; if he is pious, he will develop in piety and if he is wicked, he will be enabled to repent. Indeed the capacity to repent also comes from God. In Ramadan one tries to remove one’s shortcomings, this practice should be continued after Ramadan. Here, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) addressed those who are drawn towards repentance in order to enhance in piety and who pray that indeed death is inevitable but may one be overcome by it when God is pleased with one. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that not utilising one’s capacities and God’s blessings, is insolence and the correct use of one’s capacities is worship. To use one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hand and feet to do pious tasks becomes worship. Listening to pious matters with ears makes one recipient of God’s pleasure whereas it is a sin to listen to back-biting. It is also not correct use of one’s ears to keep them permanently shut so that one may not hear something bad, in fact it is a kind of insolence. It is the same with the use of other faculties. We are going through Ramadan these days and it is God’s command to eat at Sehri and break the fast at Iftar. If someone does not follow this, it is insolence and a sin, unless there is some constraint. If one does not fast in spite of good health, it is also insolence and a sin.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had remarkable forbearance and tolerance. Before the commandment of prohibition of alcohol, once an inebriated Companion spoke inappropriately to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) but he did not say anything to him. There are many incidents of his forbearance after he migrated to Medina and had great power at his disposal. Once a Jew started arguing with him and kept addressing him as O’ Muhammad’ (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He was the ruler of Medina and his Companions did not like this form of address. While Muslims addressed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as ‘O Prophet of God, the non-Muslims addressed him with his family name as Abu Qasim. The Companions told off the Jew for his form of address but he insisted that he would use the name which was given by the parents of the Prophet. Hearing this, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) smiled and said the Jew was right, indeed his parents had named him Muhammad. He told his Companions not to be angry. Once a well-off woman usurped someone’s property and was punished. The tribes became restless that a woman of high rank had been punished and sent someone to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to intercede. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) expressed displeasure. Indeed, he was an embodiment of affection but he was displeased at the intercession against God’s commandment. He said: ‘Those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and it anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. Islam does not permit this. By Allah, if even my daughter Fatima were to commit this crime, I would have punished her.’ These days sense of justice is missing among the Muslims and that is the reason for their decline. We should be most careful in this regard. Our office-holders should also fulfil the dues of justice and should try and maintain such standards, for this is a perilous matter and becomes a source of decline.
The Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) sense of justice with the enemy was in light of the Quranic commandment. Once he sent some Companions towards Makkah as messengers. The Companions met some men within the boundary of the Ka’ba and they suspected that the men would inform the people of Makkah. The Companions attacked and killed the men. Later, a delegation from Makkah came with the complaint that their men were killed. Rather than remind the people from Makkah of their own atrocities, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) agreed to pay blood money. The Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) respect for the sentiments of others is demonstrated in the tradition where a Jew came to him with the complaint that Hadhrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) had hurt his feelings by saying that Muhammad was superior to Moses. It is indeed a fact that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was most excellent among all the Prophets. However, his judgment was in favour of the Jew and said that Hadhrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) should not have spoken to him in that manner.
The Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) demeanour towards those who serve humanity is evident in the tradition where during a skirmish with people of a tribe the Muslims took some prisoners. Among these prisoners was the daughter of the renowned generous Arab called Hatem. When the Prophet came to know about this, he negotiated with her and on her recommendation pardoned the people of her tribe. As regards the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) respect and honour for women, according to Arab customs men used to beat their women. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘women are God’s maids and are not your maids.’ He once told a Companion who asked him about rights of wife, ‘feed her whatever God has provided you with, clothe her with what God has given you to clothe, do not slap her, do not verbally abuse her and do not turn her out of the house.’ These days such incidents come up, people should think about this. On the one hand they engage in prayers and on the other hand they are disobeying the commandment.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family.’ In spite of his other demanding engagements, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) used to do household chores in a fine manner. Hadhrat ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that whatever time he spent at home he would be busy helping and serving the family. He would patch up his clothes himself, would milk the goat and if he came home late he did not awaken anyone and would have his food by himself. Therein is a lesson for those men who think it is a sin for them to do house work and who think it is the duty of the wife to always serve food. Such people are not satisfied unless they have ranted and raved at their wives. Some of them do Jama’at work but such is their attitude at home. In some families the mother and sisters are scornful if their brother serves tea to guests and they say that their brother is slave to his wife, that their ‘poor brother/son’ has to do house work. At times such men are misled and they become harsh in their attitude with their wives. Such men are not ‘poor this or the other’ when they practice the blessed model, in fact they will be poor this or the other when they are harsh to their wives and will be held accountable. They should have cause for concern.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) used to pray for his own children and other children who lived with him: ‘O Allah, I love them, You love them too.’ He never punished children and always trained them with love and prayer. When the first fruit of the season came he would pray for the fruit to be blessed and then first give the fruit to the youngest child in the assembly. It is also related that he used to play with children. Most parents love their children but some do reprimand them needlessly. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih met with a young man recently who told him that he was scared all the time and was suffering from depression. The cause for his psychological illness is that his father would beat him up all the time. When the father was asked what was the reason for doing this he said it was important to keep an influence on the children. Such is the state of some parents. Here, one gets to hear that some parents kill their children for their personal pleasures. These days such news is rife. Then there are those who love their own children but cannot tolerate other people’s children. The Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) blessed model was to love all children. He repeatedly enjoined good treatment of neighbours. It is related that once he said: ‘By God he is certainly not a believer, he is certainly not a believer, he is certainly not a believer.’ When the Companions asked who he referred to, the Prophet said, ‘one from whose harm and ill treatment his neighbour is not safe.’
Thus a few aspects have been mentioned today. Be it good treatment of relatives, or matter of mutual cooperation, or matter of overlooking something indulgently or matter of shunning suspicion or matter of keeping positive thoughts about someone or any other high moral, the blessed model and advice of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) can be found everywhere. Thus the perfect Abd created a revolutionary change in the ignorant of that age. Today if any model is to be availed it is this blessed model so that we can be the recipients of God’s blessings and adorn our world and our ending. Prayers should be made today and in the last remaining two days of Ramadan, because Ramadan is a month of acceptance of prayers and prayers should be made for the rest of your life that may God make us true believers and may we follow the blessed model.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that salvation does not come from one’s efforts, rather is brought about by God’s grace and He never negates the law that He has fixed to attain that blessing. And the law is: ‘Say, ‘If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you…’ and ‘And whoso seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him...’ (3:86)
May God enable us to understand this reality and may this Ramadan depart having shown us its real insight and may we follow the blessed model till the next Ramadan, traversing new objectives.