Now a few hints on the moral education and training of the child:
- As soon as a child is born, the first step towards its education is to proclaim Azaan into its ears. I need not elaborate this point further as I have already dealt with it in the course of this speech.
- A child should be kept neat and tidy and, should be properly cleaned after stools. Some of you might say that this particular chore belongs to the mother. This is true. But it is equally true that the mother will perform it properly only if the father is properly orientated in this regard. It is men’s duty to bring home to women the fact that an unclean child will not have a clean mind. Unfortunately not much attention is paid to this matter. Women are sometimes guilty of grave negligence in this regard. During parties, they would let the child defecate over a rag which they do not even care to throw away. In the environs of Qadian, rustic women sometimes let a shoe perform this office and did not hesitate to foul the area by throwing away the excrement indiscriminately. How can you look after the inner cleanliness of the child if you do not look after its external cleanliness? Let the child have a clean body. Its impact on his mind will be great. As a consequence, the child will come to have a clean mind and will become immune to sins which are caused by uncleanliness. Medical research bears out that a child commits its first sin because it is dirty. Dirt irritates the anal passages which the child rubs and manipulates. It finds pleasure in the process and becomes conscious of sex. It can be safeguarded against sexual eros to a very large extent if it is kept clean. This training must begin the very day it is born.
- A child should be fed at fixed hours. This will breed the habit of self-control and save it from a number of evils. Lack of self-control occasions evils like stealing, etc. Such a child does not learn to resist temptation. The fault lies with the mother who is ever ready to feed the child anytime it cries. It is a great mistake not to inculcate regular food habits in the infant and in the grown-up child. Regular food habits will further lead to the following good habits:
- Good health.
- Cooperation. Such children will not be egocentric and selfish for they will have learnt to eat with others.
- Frugality. Such child will not suffer from the bad habit of wastefulness and extravagance. The child who is given to eating at odd hours will eat less and waste more. But if it is fed to a fixed measure and at fixed hours, it will make the best of what it gets and remain content with it without a tendency towards waste .
- It will develop the inner strength to resist temptation. It wants to have something which catches his passing fancy in the street. If you do not get it for it, it will learn the habit of fighting temptation later in life. Similarly if the child wants to have an eatable which is lying about in the house, like sugar cane, radishes, carrots or homemade sugar in farming families, tell him to wait till it is time for meals. This will fortify his self-control and enable him to exercise restraint.
- A child should be helped to form the habit of relieving nature at regular hours. This is very helpful for its health. But a greater benefit is that its limbs come to acquire a sense of punctuality. Bowels become conditioned to move at fixed hours and evacuation takes place at the proper time. Some Europeans can even tell the time by the movement of their bowels for they learn to evacuate with clock-work punctuality. Regular bowels, therefore, are a must for a child. The child who learns to perform its natural functions regularly, readily forms the habits of praying and fasting. Also, he learns not to delay performing national duties. It curbs displays of ill-temper and petulance. The main cause of such tantrums is irregularity, particularly irregularity in food habits. For instance, the child is busy playing. Mother summons it to come and eat. It fails to turn up but when it does, mother wants the food to be heated for it. The child is hungry. It fumes and frets, for it is late for its meal. It is hard to stand the pangs of hunger. Hence its outburst of rage.
- Food should be served according to a prescribed measure. This will teach the child contentment and discourage gluttony.
- A child should be given a variety of foods. It should have meat, vegetables and fruit, for dietary habits affect morals and a variety of food is necessary for a variety of morals. It should have more vegetables than meat as meat excites and in childhood there should be as little excitement as possible.
- As the child grows, it should be asked to do small tasks under the guise of play-acting. It should be asked to fetch a utensil, to replace or carry an object and do sundry other small tasks. But it should also have the time to play on its own.
- A child should be allowed to acquire self-confidence as a matter of habit. For instance, if it wants to have an object which it has just seen, it should be told that it would get it at a certain time. Hiding the object is no solution, for it will imitate and try to hide things which will breed the habit of stealing.
- A child should not be over-indulged. Too much petting or caressing leads to many vices. When such a child sits in society, it expect to be fondled. This results in a number of moral evils.
- Parents should be capable of self-sacrifice. Foods which are prohibited for an ailing child should neither be brought into the house nor should they be eaten by the parents. The child should be told that they are abstaining on his account. The child will thus learn the habit of self-sacrifice.
- Extreme vigilance is required when a child is suffering from a chronic illness. Vices like cowardice, selfishness, peevishness, lack of emotional control, etc., are the result of illness. Even grown-ups become irritable during illness. Some ask others to sit with them. Others shout at passers-by and say: Can you not see? Are you blind? In illness, the patient is allowed complete rest and full comfort which he slowly comes to regard as a right and wants to rest all the time.
- Children should not be told tales of horror. This would make them cowards. When they grow up, they would do nothing brave. If a child exhibits a tendency towards cowardice, it should be told stories of courage and made to play with children who are brave.
- A child should not be allowed to choose his own friends. This choice should be made by the parents. They should choose well behaved children as associates for their children. The parents too will benefit from this arrangement. They will come to know the parents of other children whom they have chosen as associates for their child. It will lead to a kind of inter-parent cooperation. Also when they choose playmates for their child, they will watch over their behaviour.
- A child should be assigned responsible jobs suited to its age. This will help create a sense of responsibility in the child. It is said that a father had two sons. He gave one of them an apple and asked him to divide it with his brother. The father asked if he knew how to divide the apple. The child replied that he did not. The father said: He who divides should take the smaller half and give his brother the bigger half. At this the boy said that in that case the apple had better be divided by his brother. This shows that this boy had already acquired the habit of selfishness, but knew that if the responsibility fell upon him, he would have to accord priority to his brother. Game like football, etc., are a useful exercise for this purpose. But in sports too we should be ever watchful lest the child picks up bad habits. In the event of a difference of opinion in games, parents usually support their child and force the other child to accept what their child says. This leads their child to be obstinate and it always wants to have its own way.
- Tell the child that it is nice and good. The Holy Prophet — on him be peace-said: Do not curse a child for when you curse, angels add: Let it be like that; and like that he becomes. Incidentally, this also means that angels are responsible for the consequences of actions. When you tell a child it is bad, it draws an imaginary picture in which it figures itself out as bad and does in fact become bad. Therefore, do not abuse a child. Praise it and teach it to be good.This morning, my little girl came to me to ask me for a coin. When I wanted to give her the coin, she extended her left hand to receive it. I told her this was not right. She admitted she was wrong and promised not to repeat her mistake. She at once became conscious of her mistake when it was pointed out to her.
- A child should not be allowed to become obstinate. If it persists in being stubborn, its attention should be diverted to something else. Later, the cause of its obstinate behaviour should be traced and removed.
- Address a child politely and courteously, for a child is a great mimic. If you address it rudely, it will return the compliment in kind.
- Do not lie to a child nor be peevish or arrogant with it. It will certainly imitate you. It is the parents who teach a child lying. The mother does something in the child’s presence but denies having done it when asked by the father. Thus the child learns to lie. I certainly do not mean that parents are permitted to misbehave in the absence of the child. What I mean is that if they cannot help doing such things, they should try to be circumspect, at least, in the presence of children to save the younger generation from such evils.
- Safeguard the child against all intoxicants. Intoxicants damage the nerves of the child. Consequently it becomes a liar. An addict becomes a blind imitator also and ceases to have a will of his own. One of the relatives of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I was a chronic addict to intoxicants and was not even remotely interested in the duties of religion. Once he brought a young companion whom, he claimed, he would shape after his own pattern. Hazrat remonstrated with him and asked him to desist from this nefarious design. But he would not listen. Hazrat summoned the boy and persuaded him to drop his company, learn some vocation and not be foolish. This made him think and he left. But after a little while, the relative brought another young man and challenged Hazrat to try to “spoil” him. To his warped mind, spoiling a young man meant his being separated from him. Hazrat did all the counselling he could. He even offered cash to him to start him in some business. But he would not listen. This surprised Hazrat who asked his relative what had he done to hold him. He said: “It is simple. I supply intoxicants to him. Now he does not have any will to leave me.” In short, addiction to drugs kills initiative.Of all moral evils, lying is the worst. A child should be especially guarded against it. Lying has a variety of causes, some of them very abstruse. Given the causes, or some of them, a child is bound to contract this vice as a matter of course. A child is highly imaginative. Whatever it hears, it turns it into a kind of reality. A sister of mine when she was a child used to relate a long dream every day. We would wonder how she could manage to have a dream every day. Later, the truth came out. What happened was that to her mind, dreams meant the ideas and pictures that crossed her mind just before falling asleep. To a child every image is real. Thus gradually it picks up this habit. A child should be helped to realise the difference between fact and fiction. A child can be saved from this habit, if the nature and meaning of thinking can be brought home to it.
- Stop children from playing in privacy.
- Do not let them remain naked.
- Teach them to admit their mistakes, as a matter of habit. For this the following methods would be found helpful:
- Do not try to hide your own mistakes before a child.
- Be sympathetic when it commits a mistake. Let it feel that the mistake is a kind of loss it has suffered. Hence so much sympathy. Also let it feel that a particular mistake has resulted in a certain loss.
- To guard against the repetition of a mistake, talk to the child in a manner that brings home to it the trouble its mistake has occasioned to the parents. They could, for instance, pay for the loss its mistake is supposed to have caused. This will make it realise that the result of damaging things is not good. The doctrine of atonement is not valid but the method is useful for the training of a child.
- If you want to reprimand a child, do not do it before others; do it in privacy.
- A child should be given a little money. This will teach it three virtues:
- Helping relatives.For instance, if it has three coins, let it purchase some eatable with one coin and share it with other children; with the second coin, let it buy a toy and the third it should be asked to give in charity.
- Children should also be given common ownership of some property. For instance, they should be given a toy and they should be told that it belongs to all of them, that all should play with it and that no one should try to damage it. This would teach them to safeguard common property.
- A child should be given constant guidance in matters of etiquette.
- Due heed should be paid to physical exercise and stamina of a child. This would be helpful towards its moral education and progress in the world.
In light of the foregoing exposition of virtue and morality, only a child who possesses the following characteristics will be considered to be morally educated:
- It should be moral itself and be able to make others moral.
- It should be able to behave as required by the mores of the community – Jamaat.
- It should have genuine love for God and this love should reign supreme over other kinds of love.
How can it be determined whether a child sizes up to the right standard in each of these characteristics:
- The test of the first characteristic is:
- that when it grows up, it should obey and practice the Law — the Sharia – in word, deed and thought.
- Its will should be strong enough to make it immune against future mischief.
- It should be able to earn its living and protect its life.
- It should try and be able to protect its property.
- The test of the second characteristic is that:
- It should set a good example in morals.
- It should participate in the moral training and spiritual education of others.
- It should not waste but should utilise its resources to the greatest advantage of Ahmadiyyat and Islam, the Jamaat in particular and Muslims in general.
- The third characteristic can be judged by the following:
- It should take good care of its health.
- It should be a defender of the property and rights of the community.
- It should do nothing which harms others.
- It should be ready to accept cheerfully all rewards and punishments bestowed and imposed by the community.
- The criteria of the fourth characteristic are as follows:
- It should have due eagerness and respect for the word of God — the Holy Quran.
- The mere mention of the name of God should halt it in its stride and make it assume a respectful posture.
- It should be in the world but not of the world.
- It should exhibit its person the signs of its love for God.
After the moral education of a child, the question arises: How can it be safeguarded against sin?
Before turning to the main theme, I would like to impress upon you the importance of Zikr-i-ILahi — Remembrance of God. Remember, you are not here to witness a show or attend a carnival. You are here to listen to and meditate on things divine. Therefore, do not forget to observe the proprieties. I am afraid some of us fail to maintain the sanctity of the occasion. They keep coming and going or indulge in small talk. I know all those who are attending this session are not Ahmadis. At a guess, some eight hundred to one thousand non-Ahmadis are also present. They are not accustomed to listening to long speeches with sustained attention; nor for that matter, can they exercise as much self-control as the members of the Movement can. Little wonder, therefore, if they are restless and keep moving. But they are not the only ones who move. In all innocence, Ahmadis too do so possibly to convey on their own, the message of Ahmadiyyat to their non-Ahmadi brethren. But remember, your primary duty is to your ownselves. Hazrat Abu Bakr has related that the Holy Prophet — on him be peace and blessings — said: When you are struggling for salvation and light, you are not supposed to give up your struggle and perish under the mistaken notion of saving others. How willingly should you sacrifice life and property for the faith! A believer would not think of bartering faith with wealth, were it the wealth of the entire world. Therefore, if you have to leave the session on account of some urgent need, do so by all means but come back as soon as you are able to. You never can tell when that fateful moment might arrive for which one waits a lifetime. A word on such an occasion could turn disbelievers into believers, the satanic into the sublime. Look at Hazrat Omar’s episode. His opposition to the Holy Prophet was extreme. But he was transformed by a single statement he happened to hear. He had set out to assassinate the Holy Prophet when he found to his chagrin that his own sister had embraced Islam. He went straight to her house in a huff and found his sister and his brother-in-law listening to the recitation of the Holy Quran. Enraged, he rushed in and started beating his brother-in-law whom his wife tried to protect. In the process, she received some injuries. When Omar perceived this, he was penitent. The sister exclaimed: Omar, are you furious at us because we have come to believe in one God? Omar was shaken and asked his sister to let him hear what was being recited. The sister replied: Not as you are. First clean yourself. After he had washed, the Holy Quran was recited to him. The recitation moved him to such an extent that he burst into tears. He went straight to the Holy Prophet — on him be peace and blessings — and announcing himself knocked at the door. Some of those who were inside felt that Omar being a hard man might be bent on creating trouble. The door, they thought, should not be opened. But Hazrat Hamza declared that if Omar had come with ill intent, they too had swords. The Holy Prophet — on him be peace –, however, permitted Omar to enter. When the Holy Prophet saw him, he asked: Omar, how long will you continue to oppose me? Omar replied: My master, I have come to submit and offer allegiance. Ponder, therefore, how Hazrat Omar was guided to the truth. If he had not visited his sister at that particular moment, he might well have remained unguided and without faith throughout his life. You have a full year at your disposal to relax. Try, therefore, to listen to the word of God for a few days at least and allow not a moment to go waste. One thing more. As I told you yesterday, I have started translating the Holy Quran. Through Allah’s grace, the translation of Baqarah, the Second Chapter, was finished on December 20, 1925. It is hoped that the first volume comprising the first seven chapters and a half will be published during the coming year. It is my wish and prayer and I request you also to pray for me that if nothing untoward happens, I may be able to discharge this sacred duty and prepare the translation and exposition of the Holy Quran as soon as possible.
There is another matter I would like to mention. Yesterday I reminded you of the financial difficulties the Jamaat is facing. I want to add that we should not be perturbed by difficulties for this too is a sign of our truth. Incidentally, it reminds me of a French writer who says: I have read scores of books which describe Muhammad, on whom be peace, as false. But all such books leave me unmoved in the face of a strange sight. I find Muhammad among his companions poor, ragged and illiterate. They are sitting in a small room which is known as the Mosque. The roof is a rough thatch of date leaves. When it rains, the water percolates to the floor. When they pray, they have literally to prostrate themselves in inches of water. Not one is fully clad. Yet behold, the Prophet is seeking their advice about how to conquer the world! And he does in fact conquer the world! When seen against the background of this strange spectacle, millions of derogatory pages pale into sheer insignificance.
It was exactly like this when the Promised Messiah — on him be peace — declared that he had been commissioned a prophet. Had he been immediately accepted by chiefs and kings we would have been hard put to it to prove that the success which he eventually attained was an act of God. It would rather have appeared to be the act of Chiefs and Kings. All his kith and kin turned against him when he made his claim. Maulvi Muhammad Husain of Batala, his greatest erstwhile friend and admirer, declared that his brain had become unhinged. He announced that it was he who had projected and promoted him and that now he alone would degrade him. The religious doctors of the entire Muslim world rose in opposition to him. Muslim divines of the Arab and non-Arab countries issued edicts against him. He faced this global opposition, alone. He conceded that he was single-handed, that he had no supporter and the world at large was opposed to him. But he posed this simple question: What shall I do with this word of God which I distinctly hear: A warner was sent unto this world; the world accepted him not; but Allah will accept him and establish his truth with mighty signs. How can I disregard this divine voice, he asked?
At the time, the Government too was hostile to him. So were the people. But what was the end result? He was alone on one side and the rest of the world was on the other. You do not have to go far. Look at this large gathering! Those present here are his devoted followers; and there are millions more who are not present here.
Last year during my visit to Syria, a renowned writer of Damascus who is an acknowledged master and stylist of Arabic literature, derisively said to me: Do not try to publish in these parts the books written by Mirza Sahib — the Promised Messiah — for they contain a number of errors. When they come across these errors, people here will form not a very complimentary opinion about him. I said: All right, I am here before you; I shall not leave until I prove the hollowness of your charge. I invite you to raise as many objections against his writings as you possibly can and I shall rebut every one of them. He said: I am a well-wisher; I do not want to join issue with you. I said: You must, if you possibly can. He said: No, you will lose face. I said: If we are pretenders, it is your duty to expose us. If we are based on truth, your criticism will not harm us. In fact, it will be helpful. But he failed to set forth any objection. However, he added apropos of nothing in particular, that Arabs would never accept a non-Arab as the Promised Messiah. I said: I am going to establish an Ahmadiyya Mission here. We will also organise a community here. You are welcome to do all you can to stop us from doing so. My visit to Syria was to last only for five days, But God be praised, a surprising thing happened. On the eve of my departure from Damascus, a scholar and master of Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages, sent me a letter at 10 p.m. He wrote that he had been waiting to see me since morning and was not sure if he would be able to see me at all. Hence the letter. He affirmed his faith in the Promised Messiah. He also offered to be posted as a missionary wherever I liked. Now we have a full-fledged mission and a community in Damascus. Even the gentleman who had predicted no Arab would accept Ahmadiyyat has sent word that his bona fides should not be doubted and that he would never oppose the Movement.
Therefore, do not be perturbed that you are poor and weak. Any one who believes that poverty and weakness are a bar to success, is guilty of setting up associates with God; for he mistakenly thinks that it is because of his person who considers himself useless is equally guilty of ascribing to the All-Knowing God the error of choosing a useless tool — his ownself — to bring about a spiritual revolution in the world. If a soldier armed with a damaged gun or a broken sword sets out to face the enemy, could he be called a good soldier? If not, then how can he be useless whom God selects to serve his cause? Indeed, he it is who has a function to perform. He whom God chooses is not to be despised. Indeed he alone is honourable.
Did not a chief of Medina announce some thirteen hundred years ago that the most honoured resident of Medina would expel the least honoured resident — by which he meant the Holy Prophet? Referring to him, God says: He says honour belongs to him alone. The truth is that honour consists in accepting the Messenger of God. The result of his boast was that his own son waited on the Holy Prophet — on whom be peace — and made the following submission:
Messenger of Allah, I have heard of what my father has said. For this he deserved capital punishment. I request that I may be appointed to carry out his execution for I fear that if anyone else is allowed to do it, may be Satan may cause me to think ill of him.
These words uttered by his own son must have brought home to his father the hollowness of his boast.
Therefore, do not harp on the inadequacy of your means, knowledge or status. The means which built the community to its present size were much too inadequate compared to our present means. If hundreds have been able to attract millions to the fold, why cannot millions attract billions.
The other day I saw a vision. I found myself delivering the Friday sermon and saying that we must take good care of the health of our children for the burden we carry will increase a thousand-fold when their turn comes to carry it.
Our future generations will witness how the major powers of the world will have to accept the fact that Ahmadiyyat can no longer be destroyed or ignored. But God will not rest content with this much alone. He will continue to enlarge the community until the world acknowledges that Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, is the one and only faith in the world. The Promised Messiah — on him be peace — when he was all alone, announced that Allah had told him that his community would attain such heights of eminence as to make other communities look like gypsies. Some will believe today, some tomorrow and others the day after. Thus will the community continue to increase in numbers and in strength. The rich and the poor, the commoners and the aristocracy, the rulers and the ruled will all accept the Promised Messiah as the true prophet of God until the community representing true Islam will stand out prominently alone and other disciplines will pale before its lustre just as the stars pale into insignificance before the sun.
These are the words of God. They are bound to be fulfilled sooner or later. No obstacle can shake our faith, nor can any opposition cause us to despair. He who has seen the community grow from one to millions, cannot lose hope of its future progress. We are not so wanting in faith. We have witnessed hundreds of thousands of heavenly signs and the fulfillment of so many divine promises. How can we ever doubt our future? True, we are weak. We do not have the strength or the necessary wherewithal. But it is not we who will conquer the world but God who has all the strength and the power. Therefore, let us not be discouraged by difficulties and obstacles. Let us have unswerving faith in the fulfillment of the promises that God has made.
Now I turn to the main subject. After the moral training of a child how can it be safeguarded against sin?
The answer is that human nature is diverse; therefore, you cannot afford to generalise. The same recipe cannot be helpful in all cases. Even a physical ailment does not admit of the same treatment for every patient. Take the case of the common cold. To some, a cup of tea can provide instant relief. In the case of another, sweetened curd or whey is helpful. There are still others who require a prolonged medical treatment. There are those whom medicine can help while there are others who simply baffle medical experts. Why? The answer is simple. Different people suffer not from one but from different diseases. Therefore, they also require different kinds of treatment. The same is true about other areas of human life. Human beings differ. This difference, therefore, has to be kept in mind in prescribing treatment. Following the same principle, I will now discuss how sin may be avoided.
First of all, let us consider the human type which is pure and undefiled, can make use of reason and act in the light of its verdict.
It should be clearly understood that according to Islam purity does not merely mean purity of overt word or deed. Islamic purity also implies purity of the heart and of the mind. In the estimation of God, a person cannot be accounted pure unless he has a pure mind. A person may not actually commit a sinful act, yet he cannot be called good and pure if his heart has a liking for evil and he takes delight in talking about sinfulness, unless, of course, in his heart of hearts he dislikes the taint of sin. For instance, there are persons who do not use abusive language when enraged but secretly curse their opponent and denounce him as a rogue. We cannot call them pure; only they have been able to hide their inner impurity successfully. In Islam purity means purity of heart. The tongue, and for that matter, visible conduct are mere tools which might only exhibit external purity. The Holy Quran says:
Whether you disclose that which is in your minds or keep it hidden, Allah will call you to account for it. (2:285)
God here raises a very delicate issue. To Him, the primary thing is the inner condition of the mind. Overt actions including speech merely express the inner state of mind which indeed is the real subject of divine judgment. You may or may not do an evil deed or speak an evil word. But if your heart is impure, you will face divine judgment. Elsewhere Allah says in the Holy Quran:
Be mindful of your obligations to Allah, as far as you can, and hear and obey, and spend in the cause of Allah, it will be the better for you. He who is delivered from the niggardliness of his mind is of those who shall prosper.
This means do all good deeds, but purify your hearts, for a heart that is impure will be called to account.
After making clear that good means the good heart, let me now proceed to discuss the threefold method of avoiding sin if the person concerned is clean and uncorrupted:
- He or she must have true knowledge of right and wrong. The heart might urge towards right action, but if you do not know what the right action is, you cannot perform it. Similarly the heart might warn you against evil, but if you are ignorant of what and why an act is evil, you cannot guard yourself against it. Thus it is essential that you should know what you ought or ought not to do. It is not enough to have the capacity to do or not to do a certain action. For instance, you may be very eager to please your friend but you cannot do much unless your friend tells you how best he can be pleased. Therefore, knowledge of actions — good and bad — is of the greatest importance.
- He or she must know the context in which right action has to be done and bad action avoided. For instance, you ask your servant to place furniture inside a room. The servant may be very active and eager but if he does not know where each item is to be placed, he might easily put tables in place of chairs and chairs in place of tables. The same would be true of a person who is ignorant of the appropriate occasion for a particular action, that is to say, when the action should be done and when not done. Hence he must know the circumstances under which an action is to be performed or avoided.
- He should be conscious of the evil to which he is prone and which he wants to discard. That is why one of the conditions precedent to spiritual treatment of the self is that we should know our faults. He should also know wherein he lacks virtue, so that he can pursue good and avoid evil. If the heart is not corrupted and the rust of sin has not eaten into the mind, knowledge, albeit true knowledge, will be enough to transform him into a virtuous person; for how can we treat that which we do not know? It is knowledge of a disease alone which can help facilitate its treatment.
I shall now briefly discuss the foregoing three points of treatment. First, something about our knowledge of right and wrong. I have come across quite a lot of people who have the capacity to be good, but are ignorant of right and wrong. For instance, many men and women ask the following questions:
- Are we rebellious and wantonly vicious?
- Are we oppressors?
- Do we misappropriate what belongs to others?
- Do we tell lies?
- Are we adulterous?
If not, then can you point out any other sin which we may have committed? What they mean is that if they do not commit these five sins, they do not commit any sin. These are described as the five sins under the Law. Their purpose seems to be to urge that there are no sins besides these sins. The fact is that there are hundreds of sins constituting a long succession. It is not possible to discuss them all, considering the limited time at our disposal. Also there are sins that are beyond human ken. The Holy Prophet — on whom be peace — was the one and only human being who had knowledge of all sin. There have been others who were vouchsafed this knowledge to a certain degree. But none was given nor can possibly be given the kind of knowledge possessed by the Holy Prophet — on him be peace and blessings.
Once in a dream I found myself telling a friend that neglect of physical exercise too was a sin. Now we do not call it a sin in normal life. But supposing there is a person on whose life depends the security of a million other lives. It would be sinful on his part not to take good care of himself. Who could be braver than the Holy Prophet — on him be peace — yet regular watch was kept for his personal safety. At his residence too proper security arrangements were maintained. A critic might ask whether he considered that his own security had priority over the security of others. But he would be missing the point; for what the Holy Prophet — on him be peace — did was just right and necessary because on his life depended the life of the entire world. Without him, Islam could not have been established. Therefore, for some to rest and keep good health becomes a positive virtue and its contrary a sin. Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani in one of his books says: There is a time when I do not eat until God is pleased to say: Abdul Qadir, get up and eat for My sake, or wear these robes to please Me. It is men like him who would do even their daily chores only when God wants them to; of course, not for their own sake but for the sake of God, for whatever they do, they do it to please Him. Thus there are sins and sins. They constitute a vast ascending or descending order. Their quality changes with the change of the person. Mystics put it like this. They say that the virtues of the sinners are the sins of the innocent.
Now I shall give an outline of the major vices.
- Personal vices. They directly affect the individual concerned.
- Vices that affect not only the person concerned but other persons as well.
- National or group vices. They are vices considered in the context of the condition or quality of a group or nation.
- Vices relating to God.
Comparatively speaking, virtues too are of four kinds:
- Personal virtues which affect the person concerned.
- Virtues which also influence others besides the person concerned.
- National group virtues.
- Virtues which relate to God.
To take up vices first, in the same order:
Personal Vices: I will list some of the more obvious vices. Others are not so obvious and may be identified only through divine help. The idea is that if we become conscious of these major vices, we shall be better able to guard against them. These vices are as follows:
- Arrogance: It means feeling haughty and big inside. Without letting others know, you may secretly feel big. This vice obstructs inner cleanliness.
- Meanness: To be a tramp; to loiter about like vagrants or associate with vagabonds and to adopt such immoral professions as do little credit to the human person. This too is a vice of heart. In such cases, no progress is possible unless the peculiar attitude changes.
- Haste: To act and choose without forethought. Here, too, ultimately it is the person who is harmed.
- Suspicion: Secretly to impute evil motives to others and to suspect their bona fides without even communicating to them the secret doubts and fears.
- Illicit love: Even if it is secret and undivulged.
- Malice: To harbour designs against others even when such designs do not find practical expression.
- Cowardice: Secret or public timidity.
- Jealousy: To think of depriving others for self-gain.
- Impatience: Feeling fidgety or upset over reverses and failing to do what is supposed to be done.
- Lack of ambition: Not to aspire for big goals but to rest content with minor roles. This vice could cause great harm, particularly in case of leaders and Heads of State; it could work havoc for lack of ambition on their part also kills ambition at lower levels of the nation. How beautifully has the Promised Messiah — on him be peace — put this point in the following verse:
O Ahmad my beloved; I swear by the beauty of thy countenance, that we have stepped forward only because you are ahead of us.
In other words, the spiritual elevation and progress of the Holy Prophet Muhammad — on whom be peace — alone paved the way for our progress. Hence lack of ambition is a vice in the common man, more so in the leaders of men.
- Sycophancy: A wheedling, fawning attempt to flatter. The servants of the rich suffer from this vice most.
- Ungratefulness: To have scant regard for kindness shown by others.
- Lack of steadfastness: Lack of perseverance; to start doing a task and leaving it unfinished.
- Laziness: When a person is indolent and ceases to function.
- Lack of courage to affirm the truth.
- Over-delicacy: To be too fastidious and finicky, out of place or to an extent that inhibits the power to act.
- Ignorance: Not to try to learn and acquire knowledge.
- Ostentation: Doing things to show off.
- To be easily discouraged: This is a peculiar vice of the rich. The slightest difficulty would make them lose heart and give up.
- Regard for evil: Not to dislike evil is also an evil.
- Use of intoxicants: Taking intoxicants of all kinds like alcohol, opium, cannabis, snuff, tea, coffee, tobacco, etc.True, some of these are articles which are used as food, for instance tea. But taking tea becomes a vice if it becomes a habit which cannot be given up without injury to health. You might have to go for propagation of the faith into the rural interior where tea is not available. Will you carry a samavar and tea things with you and make your own arrangements? Will it not be a bother, causing untold complications? Islam requires every Muslim to be a volunteer who should be able to set forth on short notice. Therefore, habits which hinder dispatch are discouraged. The story of the proud Pathan who had run short of snuff would illustrate the point. I saw him, begging a shaggy Kashmiri for a pinch. I observed the proud Pathan had humbled himself to the poor Kashmiri because of his need of snuff!Smokers who come to Qadian are deprived of a number of benefits. In the early days, one of our relatives who was a sworn enemy of the Promised Messiah, used to mislead new visitors. He would make seating arrangements in the compound and invitingly place hookas or smoking pipes, for free use. Visitors attracted by the pipes would drift towards him, whom he tried to lead astray to his heart’s content. He would emphasize that he was a close relative of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and was fully cognizant of the true position. Had there been any truth to his claim, I would certainly have accepted him as the Promised Messiah, he would say. Thus many were deceived. Once an Ahmadi visited Qadian and went to this gentleman to have a smoke. The gentleman availed himself of this opportunity to malign the Promised Messiah to his heart’s content. But the visitor kept silent. Provoked, the old man started abusing the Promised Messiah with renewed zeal. This too failed to elicit any rejoinder. At this, he lost his temper and challengingly said to the visitor: Why, what are you thinking? Why don’t you speak? The visitor replied: I am thinking that the dirty habit of smoking has been responsible for my coming to a man like you. Had I been not a smoker, I would not have come here and suffered the ignominy of hearing the Promised Messiah being reviled.
Let me tell you, as I have told you a number of times before, that smoking is a foul habit. Other intoxicants are equally harmful. They should be given up once and for all. Certain intoxicants breed the habit of lying. I will not name people who are addicts to spare them embarrassment. But the fact remains that intoxicants damage nerves. Therefore, do not become addicted to any. Thank God, I have an innate antipathy towards such things. In my infancy, I was given opium during an illness for about six months. Mother tells me that once I missed a dose and there was not the slightest reaction, whereupon the Promised Messiah — peace be on him — observed:
Do not administer to him any more that which God has delivered him from.
Even now I can discard taking things which I use daily, without suffering any adverse effects. Occasionally, I stop taking tea despite the fact that in our family tea is served as part of breakfast. I do this to avoid making it a habit. As a matter of fact, we should not form any such habits-intoxicants or no intoxicants.
- Arrogance: Looking down upon others.
- Enmity: Even if it is never made public and lies hidden in the heart, it is a vice.
- To distrust others: It prevents one from delegating a task to others.
- Greed: This too is a vice of the heart.
- To grieve too much: Too much grief damages the faculty of application.
- Excessive joy.
- To be a busybody: To meddle in things with which one is in no wise concerned.
- Loquacity: Glib talk. An over-talkative person is a mindless person and would answer questions without much thought.
- To be callous and hard-hearted: Absence of compassion too is a vice.
- Sadism. 36. Extravagance.
- Purposeless lies: Lying is a major vice. But some people are given to telling purposeless lies. This too is bad.
The evils that are related to others are of two kinds:
- Those which have to do with human beings.
- Those which concern animals other than human beings.
At this stage Hazrat was asked how to give up smoking. Hazrat replied: Smoking is more difficult to give up than opium eating. I had a friend who was an old addict. He wanted to give up opium eating but his physician warned him he would die if he gave it up. But he did, in fact, give up this bad habit. For a few days, he had to suffer but he soon recovered and was restored to good health. I shall take up this question later on in the course of my address. Without disturbing the general pattern of it, I will only say at this stage only that you can give up smoking by giving it up.
The vices relating to human beings are the following:
- Rudeness: Not to respect those who ought to be respected.
- Exaggerated expression of love.
- Faithlessness: To invoke your friend’s assistance when you need it, but to deny assistance to friends when they need it most.
- Fatuity or Silliness: Being short-tempered; exhibiting uncivilised behaviour; to be trigger-happy; to hurl bogus threats under minor provocations. The case of the two Hindu Banyas — shopkeepers — will illustrate the point. They were quarreling. One was cursing. In reply, the other would challenge his opponent to curse him again. He would say: I will break your skull if you curse again. Now the joke was that he could easily have tried to smash the other fellow’s head the first time he was abused. He did not have to wait to be cursed twice. The other fellow too was equally shallow. Every time he was challenged, he would say: I shall curse you a hundred times. But he did not dare actually repeat the curse. Each time he was told: If you curse me again, I shall break your head. At the time, I was a child of eight and was an interested spectator of this strange sight. I waited for long to see if the first Baniya would repeat the curse and earn a broken skull, but nothing happened. Soon each retired to his shop. Suddenly the verbal battle was again joined. One of them again abused the other who in turn gave the same old repeat performance. He came out of his shop and shouted: I shall break your skull if you abuse me again. The altercation continued for a long time but nothing happened. This is vacant, witless puerility. It also shows cowardice. Similarly to be overaggressive is also a sign of fatuity. It is also a form of inner weakness to start shouting and grumbling at the slightest provocation.At this stage, Hazoor interrupted his address and said: Asking questions during the course of an address is not desirable. But since the subject under discussion is of great importance, I feel I should try to answer some questions which friends have thought fit to address me. One is: Which professions according to me are mean? The answer might land us into unnecessary controversy which I would rather like to avoid. Nor would I like to decline answering the question. I would, therefore, simply say that to my mind professions which obstruct progress may be called mean. Another question that has been asked is: What is the difference between tamaa (greed) and hirs (avarice), the two vices I mentioned earlier. Briefly, tamaa means to expect the other person to give you something which you covet. Hirs is hankering after something regardless of the source from which it might be procured.One question is: Can the Wasiyyat (bequest) of a smoker (bequeathing at least 10% of his or her income and property to Islam) be formally accepted? It is a very complicated question and I do not want to give a perfunctory answer during my address. I would deal with this question later.
- Using abusive language: Abusive language is another habit which is universally considered bad, unlike the Punjabi custom of inviting a child to use such language and then gloating over it when it complies, as if cursing were a virtue. I have witnessed such performances myself.
- Laanat, or placing a curse on a person.
- Bud-doa: To pray against someone. Placing a curse on a person is different from praying against him. The former implies a spiritual condition and the latter a physical condition. To pray for someone’s death is Bud-doa, and to place a curse or Laanat on someone is to invoke divine wrath upon him which means that he or she may perish spiritually. There is, however, an exception to this rule that is when a curse is invoked by a prophet. In such a case the curse ceases to be a curse but amounts to a statement of fact that the heart of the person concerned has been corrupted.
- Dishonesty or breach of trust: For instance money placed in trust is either not returned or returned only in part.
- Divulgence of secrets: It is a vice to divulge other peoples’ secrets. But there are exceptions to the rule — for instance, saving the person concerned from harm. If X intends to murder Y, the vice shall consist not in disclosing but in hiding this secret. Similarly, secret attempts to conspire, damage or otherwise to bring an established Government into disrepute must be reported to the proper authorities.
- Discourtesy: Not to meet people with a smiling countenance; it injures the feelings of the other person and breaks ties of love.
- Undue partiality: It consists in siding unduly with one of contending parties with whom one happens to be friendly.
- Ingratitude: To disown a favour done to one.
- To be dirty and unclean.
- Mischief-making: It is a well-known vice and needs no explanation.
- Creating disturbance: By shouting in public places or creating noise by irrelevant talk in an assembly or otherwise causing distraction to those who are attending to their work. I have found Europeans to be very careful in this regard.
- Causing deliberate harm and pain.
- Theft.I was already expecting questions on this. One friend has obliged by asking that sometimes it is customary to steal as a mark of friendship for instance — in certain villages, it is an established practice to steal off one another. The answer to the question is that despite social sanction, it still remains a vice.
- Physical fights.
- Undue self-praise.
- Faultfinding: It differs from slander, which is to talk about someone’s faults or vices before people with intent to humiliate him. Faultfinding on the other hand, consists in reporting slanderous talk to its object, thus causing trouble between the parties concerned.
- Casting aspersions or spreading calumnies.
- To belittle with a view to humiliate someone before others.
- To call a person names: Giving uncomplimentary or derogatory epithets as is common in our country.
- Satire: Pungent jokes which disgrace and humiliate other persons.
- Making faces: A vice common among women and the young.
- Conspiring to harm others.
- Violent anger: that is to say overt or expressed anger.
- Vindictiveness: To exceed the limit in revenge.
- Offering bribes.
- Taking bribes.
- Usury: To lend money on interest.
These are some of the major vices which have to do with other human beings.
Now I shall mention vices which relate to beings other than human.
- To use things which emit obnoxious and nasty odours. The Holy Prophet — peace be on him — has warned that eating food which is ill-smelling or obnoxious repels the angels. They are shy of visiting a person who is ill-smelling.
- Keeping pet dogs without purpose: The Holy Prophet — on whom be peace — has said that angels do not enter homes where dogs are kept.
Vices relating to lower animals:
- To beat animals unnecessarily.
- To overwork animals: This vice is peculiar to the farmer. He continues to exact work out of an animal but when it becomes too old and weak to function, he sells it to the butcher. I do not mean it should not be slaughtered. What I mean is that it is wrong to over-work and weaken an animal to make it unfit for work.
- To underfeed animals: It is not the farmer but others who are usually guilty in this regard. A farmer would rather feed his animals even at the cost of remaining unfed himself. Supposing there is famine. The farmers do not say there is no food for them; they say there is no fodder for the animals.
- Not to provide proper medical treatment for sick animals.
- Torturing an animal: For instance, branding. The Holy Prophet once saw a donkey which had been branded on the face. He admonished: Do not brand an animal on the face for it is a very sensitive spot. If it has to be branded, let it be branded elsewhere — on the leg, etc.
- Not to protect animals against the inclemencies of the weather.
- Not to pay due regard to the sexual requirements of lower animals: Animals have passions like humans. Arrangements should be made for their satisfaction or they should be desexualized.
- To torture animals: Either in front of their young, for instance, to slaughter or starve them; or torture their young before their eyes.
National or group vices:
- Propagation of evil: If someone goes about saying that so and so is a liar, apart from being a person to person evil, it also becomes a national evil; for if it continues to be announced for some time that a group or nation has liars in its ranks, the intensity of feeling against lying wears off, thereby making it easier for this vice to spread. Propagation of evil amounts to a kind of national suicide.
- Selfishness: To promote and prefer personal interests when they conflict with national interests.
- Wanton surrender to vice and disobedience to law: For instance, prostitution or public drinking.
- Procrastination: For instance, laziness in the performance of national duties.
- Neglecting the moral training and education of children.
- Neglecting the educational needs of children amounts to destroying a nation; for children of today will become the nation of tomorrow.
- Being dirty and unclean: I have mentioned this vice earlier in the sense that others feel disgusted because of the stink. I mention it here in the sense that it causes disease which ultimately could destroy a nation.
- Lack of the sense of responsibility: This means not to feel the obligation to do one’s duty.
- Lack of understanding and tolerance of another’s failure to perform his duty or of the resulting loss whether the lapse was due to oversight or to an error of judgment, or was deliberate.
- Rebellion: At this stage Hazoor interrupting his discourse said: A friend has made a suggestion which I had a mind to dwell upon. I take this opportunity to do so now. The friend reminds the missionaries and other advocates of Ahmadiyyat not to employ harsh language. I agree and insist that we must be always courteous and polite. You will not find any harsh language in my writings or speeches. Do I not feel hurt when the Promised Messiah — on him be peace — is reviled? Indeed I do. But I have never countered harshness with harshness. I know some people would quote passages from the writings of the Promised Messiah — on him be peace — to justify occasional use of such language. But let them remember, the Promised Messiah — on him be peace — was a divinely commissioned magistrate or arbitrator. It was his station — to which he was appointed by God — to tell people their true worth. We do not have that station and prerogative. For others, being harsh is a sign of inner weakness. It might give temporary pleasure to some but when future generations read and judge our words cool-mindedly they will lament our using those words for they will no longer be angry. They will not have before them the offensive writings of our opponents. Instead they will have the shame and mortification to seek to hide such books and writings as contain this kind of language.
- Inhospitality: Lack of the sense of hospitality is a national evil.
- Deception: To practice deception and fraud in business is also a national evil.Here again, Hazoor interrupted his discourse and observed: Tradition says that on one occasion the Holy Prophet — on him be peace — was delivering his sermon when the companions started asking question after question. This displeased the Holy Prophet — peace be on him — and he said he would stop the sermon; and asked them to go ahead putting as many questions as they wanted and that he would continue answering till the Day of Judgment.I find myself in a similar situation. The long line of questions which are being asked during the address, is unending. Would you like me to stop the lecture and go on answering the questions? I have hardly completed the 35th page of my notes on this subject. Twenty five pages of notes still remain to be dealt with. If I were to start answering each and every question, do you think the lecture will ever be finished?
Resuming, he proceeded:
As I was saying, fraud in business is a national vice for it destroys the credit of a nation. When I last visited Kashmir, I found the annual trade of silver utensils and ‘Shawls’ at an ebb. It had come down from ten million rupees annually to 1.7 million owing mainly to the dishonesty of those engaged in this trade and industry.
- To criticise workers: In front of those who are not connected with the matter.
- Publicly to denounce the whole nation without naming the guilty: To denounce the whole nation because of a particular evil without identifying the guilty is bad. For instance, to declare that the whole nation is a nation of cheats; as a result the nation does, in fact, become a nation of cheats.
- To grudge contributing to national ends.
- To cultivate friendship and closeness with those who harm the nation.
- Non-cooperation with the representatives of the Government or of the community.
- Poor standard of obedience.
Now I shall enumerate evils which relate to God:
- Swearing and taking oaths in the name of God unnecessarily. A solemn oath may be taken before a magistrate, or on occasions when an oath is prescribed or is permissible; otherwise swearing in the name of God as a matter of habit amounts to an insult to God.
- Despair: When one loses all hope of ever solving one’s difficulties. This is the result of lack of reliance on and faith in God.
- To harbour evil in the heart: God created the human heart to make it His home. That is why the heart is called the House of God. He who tarnishes the heart, stops God from entering His house.
- Refusal to submit to the Law of Shariah.
- Belief in false dogmas: For instance, setting up partners with God.
- Disbelief in the true dogmas like God, angels, prophets, revelation, heaven, hell.
- Violation of the laws of the Shariah about God or man; for instance, not to offer prayer, not to perform pilgrimage to the Kaaba, not to carry out the prescribed rules of inheritance and not to follow divine guidance about morals. All these laws and injunctions are prescribed by God. Therefore, to violate them is to displease God, in addition to bringing pain and suffering on His creatures.
- Inadequate love of God.
- Disrespect to God and the Holy Prophet — on him be peace.
- All evils which are related to others are also related to God. For example, ingratitude is ingratitude to man or God.
- Alertness, promptitude.
- Acquiring knowledge.
- Righteous indignation: To show resentment on sight of evil.
- To think well of others.
- Earnest benevolence.
- Steadfastness: To persist in doing the right.
- Dignity: Refusal to imitate others without need or purpose. In our country, people seem to lack this virtue. They are prone to imitate whatever the West does.
- Loftiness of ideals.
- Conscientiousness: Not to follow others without enlightened belief.
- Inner gratefulness: Sincerely to feel grateful in your heart for the favour done to you.
- Search for truth.
- Honest acknowledgement of merit in others.
- Commiseration: It differs from pity. Pity means the tender feeling aroused by the suffering of others which moves one to extend help. Commiseration means to suffer the suffering of others.
- Fighting for your rights: One should be able to fight for one’s rights except when they may be surrendered as a mark of favour or are just not claimed. Virtue consists in refusal to surrender one’s right under duress.
- Capacity to excel: It implies the urge to beat others in good works.
- Never to accept defeat: To suffer defeat but never to take defeat lying down; never to rest content but to continue resisting and fighting.
- To be wide awake and wary: Never to sleep over enemy designs.
- Ready acceptance of truth.
- Power to stand hardship: One should have the power to bear suffering and reverses with patience.
- Endurance or stamina: One should have the staying power and be not upset whatever the odds.
- Love of virtue.
- The wish to help others: Not to flinch from extending help to others whenever the occasion rises.
- Plain living: Not to spend too much on one’s own comfort.
- Guarding one’s honour.
- To acknowledge the merits of others.
- To be moderate in everything.
VIRTUES RELATING TO OTHERS
Virtues relating to angels are as follows:
- Zikr-i-Ilahi: Remembrance of God or the contemplation of His attributes. We have it on authority that Angels rush in where Zikr-i-Ilahi is practiced. The Holy Prophet — peace be on him — has said that angels surround such a place.
- External cleanliness: We are enjoined to use perfume where angels’ visit is likely. For instance, to bathe and apply perfume on the occasion of the congregational Prayer on Friday is to follow the practice of the Holy Prophet — peace be on him.
VIRTUES CONCERNING MANKIND
- Feeling of gratefulness in response to benevolence.
- To act compassionately.
- Hilm or condonation: It means to forgive mistakes in view of the extenuating circumstances. It is to be distinguished from Afv which means to forgive despite guilt. Hilm, on the other hand, means to condone in view of the redeeming features of the action.
- To make interest-free (benevolent) loans.
- To give in charity.
- Search for peace; to try to bring about peace and harmony.
- Keeping of promises.
- To raise the fallen.
- To extend due regard and respect to equals.
- To show proper deference to superiors.
- Reconciliation: It is a virtue to bring about reconciliation in case of confrontation and to make an attempt at rapprochement.
- Keeping secrets.
VIRTUES RELATING TO LOWER ANIMALS
- To take good care of their diet.
- To exact work only according to their capacity.
- To feed animals which are not employed by man: The Holy Prophet — on him be peace — said: Once it continued to rain for days on end with the result that birds had to go hungry. A person who fed them was blessed with faith and consequently entered paradise.
Those in whose wealth there is a well ascertained share for those who ask and those who do not ask. (70:25-26)
It is a hallmark of the faithful that they share their wealth with not only those who request for help but also with those who do not so request. Birds and other lower animals also belong to the latter class. They too should be properly fed.
- Taking care of animals: The poor dumb animals should be protected against the inclemencies of the weather. Their sexual requirements too should not be ignored. Similarly their off-spring should also be taken care of.
NATIONAL OR GROUP VIRTUES
- Giving of Zakat: Prescribed 2 1/2 percent poor tax on income and capital.
- To contribute to meet national requirements.
- Social and national service.
- Obedience to authority.
- Cooperation with authorities.
- To work for the security of the country.
- Sense of responsibility.
- To submit to punishment when guilty.
- To publicise the virtues of others.
- To shun the enemies of the nation.
- To protect national honour-to contradict false charges against the nation.
- To be honest: To be scrupulously honest and upright in trade and commerce.
- To impart knowledge.
- To provide moral education.
VIRTUES WHICH PERTAIN TO GOD
- To be perfect in faith.
- To love God.
- To carry out fully all duties under divine law, duties to God and to man.
- Optimistic faith in God.
- Fear of God: To uphold the inviolability of divine honour.
- Purity of mind.
- To place reliance on God: To try hard but at the same time firmly to believe that divine succour alone brings success.
- To pay scrupulous regard to all good morals which relate to God. For instance, honouring commitments, etc.
- To discard all false beliefs.
- To remonstrate with those who are disrespectful towards God and to try to persuade them through argument to desist from disrespectful and ungrateful behaviour towards God. For instance, to try to make that one understand and think better of God who says that God has been cruel and has given him nothing, for it amounts to being disrespectful to God.
- To convey the truth.
- Respect for institutions which belong to God.
What are the occasions when certain actions are to be done or not to be done? The answer is both simple and detailed. If I were to try to answer in detail it would not take less than fifteen to twenty hours, even if I tried to be brief. I would, therefore, adopt the simpler course. I will give only the barest outline, pointing out some of the major landmarks:
- Not to stop carrying out obligations which one owes to God unless one is forcibly restrained or is justified by another divine injunction. For instance, not to be able to perform Wadu — ablution — because the hand or the face is injured. Similarly one divine Command can override another such Command. This is illustrated by the following example. It is a divine injunction that a woman should wear the veil in public. But this too is a divine injunction that she should lift the veil on the occasion of the pilgrimage to the Kaaba. The second Command overrides the first. As a result, not to wear the veil in the Kaaba becomes a virtue. Again, it is a duty under divine law to obey parents. But if this duty conflicts with another divine Command, virtue consists in not obeying parents in such a case.
- Not to do unto others what, all things being equal, one would not like done unto oneself. There is, however, a qualification. What is required is not that a person should do to others what he wants others to do unto him. This is what the Bible says, which to my mind is not quite right. What I emphasise is that one should not say or do to others what one would not like said or done to oneself, presuming the circumstances are similar.
- To avoid extremes. For instance, some would either completely stop offering nawafil (voluntary prayer) or would offer nawafil to the exclusion of all regard for domestic duties. Once a case was reported to the Holy Prophet — peace be upon him — to the effect that a certain person was given to observing fast during the day and offering nafl (voluntary prayer) throughout the night. Summoning him, the Holy Prophet — peace be upon him — admonished him:
Your self too has its right over you and you have an obligation to your wife also.
- To act in accordance with the particular divine attribute which the act invokes.
How can one determine which evils one suffers from?
- By self-examination: When one comes to know what are the various virtues and vices, one should conduct a self-scrutiny in order to identify the vice from which one suffers and the virtues that one does not practice.
- By consultation with a sincere friend: One should consult some sincere and close friend who should be asked to study one’s overt behaviour. Of course, he should not set out on a hunt for secret vices. That would in itself be an evil. The function of the friend should be to point out the faults in one’s overt actions, faults of which one may not be fully conscious.
- By self-identification: Even a friend is likely to overlook a friend’s faults. To remedy this, one should have recourse to a third method. One should try to identify in one’s own person, the virtues and vices that one is able to identify in others.
- By identification of faults by opponents: One can go one better. One should know what faults one’s enemy finds in one and proceed seriously to check up if those faults are really found in one or not. This would bring to one’s knowledge quite a few faults of which one was not aware before. Similarly, one could also check up on the virtues which one’s enemies acknowledge for not unoften, even an enemy cannot help acknowledging one’s merits.
- Best method of self-appraisal: The best and most important method to be fully posted about virtues and vices is to study the Holy Quran. When the reader comes across the vices from which the earlier peoples suffered, he should reflect and consider whether he himself does or does not also suffer from them. Also when the Holy Quran mentions a virtue, the reader should check up whether he has that virtue or not. There is another great advantage of such a study. As it proceeds all virtues and vices will gradually unfold themselves, one after the other. This is not possible otherwise. We cannot think of every virtue and vice all at once. Also, recitation of the Holy Quran gives rise to fear of God which should help the pursuit of virtues and avoidance of vices.