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Taqwa - Righteousness

Friday Sermon May 22nd, 2009 delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(at)

NOTE: Alislam Team takes full responsibility for any errors or miscommunication in this Synopsis of the Friday Sermon.

Huzur cited verse 33 of Surah Al Najm, the translation reads, ‘Those who shun major sins and indecencies except for minor slips — verily, your Lord is expansive in forgiving. He knows you full well from the time when He created you from the earth, and when you were embryos in the bellies of your mothers. So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows him best who is truly righteous.’ (53:33) and ……………..

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that one should never claim to be pure and clean. Allah states ‘do not call yourself purified’, He alone knows who is the righteous. Purification is conditional to taqwa and taqwa is to avoid all kind of evils for the pleasure of God, to abide by all His commandments and to avoid all that He has forbidden.  God has repeatedly stated that it is He Who purifies people and knows whose heart is truly righteous. He knows the state of our hearts, is aware of what we make evident and what we conceal, He can never be deceived in any way at all.

A famous Hadith relates that actions are (judged) by motives. God, Who knows what is in hearts has full knowledge of the motive behind whatever man does. Apparent worship of God, fasting and even multiple Hajj when performed with any ill motive is not worthy of acceptance in the sight of God. Not only are all such virtues erased in such a situation, rather they cause one’s destruction.

While drawing our attention through warnings God also refers to His extensive mercy and gives us hope of forgiveness. His warnings are also for our own benefit – to enable us to tread the straight path. Indeed, He knows the state of hearts, is aware of one’s capability and capacity, therefore He gives us the glad-tiding that if we abide by taqwa, keep our motives clear then He will envelop any oversights of ours in the swathe of His forgiveness.

Referring to the Quranic verse cited at the beginning Huzur said it gives the glad-tiding of forgiveness with reference to God’s expansive mercy and states His all-encompassing knowledge. Huzur explained that millions of years before man was created God put in place arrangements to sustain human life. He is aware of and has knowledge of us since then, of what nature was He to give us, what capacities He was to grant us etc. This is a deep subject which is expounded in other Quranic verses. God’s knowledge about us is so extensive that let alone encompassing it we have no knowledge of it. With the passage of time and scientific developments man has come to know of certain facts about creation but most of these are only known to those who have exclusive knowledge of the sciences. However, God had absolute knowledge of everything from the beginning of time. Moving down on the scale of knowledge there is the nurturing of the foetus in the womb. Many have knowledge of this nowadays. There is sufficient development in the field of medicine that enables people even in the developing world to have some awareness of this through ultra-sound scans. Some even find out if they are expecting a girl or a boy. God states that He has full knowledge of this stage of one’s development as well and is aware of exactly with which capacities one is born. Despite being the Knower of the Unseen, He presented man with the choice of good and bad deeds. Good deeds are those which are undertaken purely to attain His pleasure. God warns that even when doing virtuous acts one may develop feelings of self-absorption. Therefore it is not up to one to claim that he or she does ‘good works’. Rather than feel self-satisfied about any virtue, each good work should enhance one in humility and taqwa. One cannot give oneself the testimonial of abiding by taqwa, nor can another person attest one one’s behalf. Only God knows who is the most righteous.

Huzur said it is important to clarify here what exactly does the [Arabic] word ‘lamma’ (minor slips) means in the aforementioned verse where it cites ‘… who shun major sins and indecencies except for minor slips…’ . Huzur said many people make wrong assumptions from this. The significance of this citation is that because man is weak, under certain circumstances he inadvertently commits sin. This should be followed by true repentance and regret, this requires an abundance of Istaghfar. Lamma means if one has been inclined to evil it is temporary.  Lamma also means if satantic thoughts develop then with God’s grace man is saved with no trace of the evil remaining. Huzur said immorality and rudeness are rife in the world. If, one is inclined to evil in such circumstances, one should promptly seek God’s forgiveness. He accepts true repentance.

Huzur cited the following three Quranic verses to further explain the subject:

‘And no burdened soul can bear the burden of another; and if a heavily laden soul call another to bear its load, naught of it shall be carried by the other, even though he be a kinsman. Thou canst warn only those who fear their Lord in secret and observe Prayer. And whoso purifies himself, purifies himself only to his own advantage; and to Allah shall be the return.’ (Surah Fatir – 35:19)

‘Verily, he truly prospers who purifies himself,’ (Surah Al A’la – 87:15)

‘Surely, he prospers who augments it,’ (Surah Al Shams - 91:10)

Huzur explained that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that we are commanded to purify ourselves but may not claim that we have been purified. Huzur said one should associate and link each virtue to the grace of God, if one links any virtue to one’s own capacities that one has not been purified.  A true believer always has fear of God as he/she looks out for virtues so that he/she may put them in practice and attain God’s pleasure.

It is stated in the Holy Qur’an: ‘If you keep away from the more grievous of the things which are forbidden you, We will remove from you your minor evils and admit you to a place of great honour.’ (Surah Al Nisa – 4:32). Huzur said as he has explained before that although the Holy Qur’an cites the words major and minor for sins, no real differentiation is cited. Each such sin which is difficult to eschew/give up for one is a major sin. This is why God states that keeping fear of God in private one should try and purify oneself. When there will be fear of God one will be disinclined to sins and when such a state is attained then alone one is purified. This is in the knowledge of God alone. True honour is only when God deems man pure.

God cites the sign of a true believer as: ‘And who eschew the more grievous sins and indecencies, and, when they are wroth, they forgive,’ (Surah Al Shura – 42:38). Huzur explained here anger has been cited along with grievous sins and indecencies to clarify its seriousness to those who consider it insignificant. Huzur said anger is not a small sin – when there is no control over one’s anger it comes under the category of grievous sin. Indeed, one naturally feels anger at times, however when one’s temper gets out of control it removes one’s purity. People should stop assuming that they can attain purification despite their dire moral state and that their sin of anger will be dissipated by other virtues. Huzur said complaints about anger resulting in quarrels between husbands and wives are commonplace. Anger manifests in many societal disputes, in sport as well. It leads to rancour and ill-will. God states anger is a major sin and is a huge impediment in purification of the nafs (self).

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that each person should consider it their obligation to bring about change in themselves. Huzur said for this one needs to constantly turn to God Whose mercy is expansive. When, along with doing good works, we will try and absorb God’s mercy, will seek His all-encompassing mercy, it is then that we will succeed.

Next Huzur read an extensive extract from the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) on the attainment of purification of the self. It referred to ‘spiritual exercise, prayer and company of the truthful’ as the requisites for attaining God’s grace. Huzur explained that in this day and age the noble writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) are ‘company of the truthful’ for us. Huzur said a lady from Germany who worked hard and collected commandments of the Holy Qur’an wrote to Huzur and said that now when she reads the books of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) she feels as if she is reading the commentary of the Qur’an and when she reads the Qur’an she has a clear understanding of the significance of the commandments. Huzur said these books are certainly a tremendous blessing. 

In seeking purification of the self one makes distinct choices. This is illustrated by the instance where Satan, who was arrogant, articulated his superiority whereas man, who was granted spiritual knowledge, made the following prayer: ‘They said, ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves; and if Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we shall surely be of the lost.’ (Surah Al A’raf – 7:24)

Huzur said this is the prayer that still absorbs God’s all-encompassing forgiveness, saves from all evils, covers all our mistakes and errors and is a source to attain His pleasure. May God enable us so that we ever reflect over and analyse ourselves and also associate each virtue with God, purify ourselves from all evils and constantly endeavour for this. May we always seek God’s expansive forgiveness, may God enable us so.


Verses Cited in this Friday Sermon:
About Friday Prayer

The Jumu'ah (Friday) prayer is one form of congregational worship in Islam. It takes place every Friday. Regular attendance at the Jumu'ah prayer is enjoined on the believer. According to a Saying of Muhammad(sa) this congregational prayer is twenty-five times more blessed than worship performed alone. (Bukhari)

Friday Prayers in the Quran

“O ye who believe! When the call is made for Prayer on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off all business. That is best for you, if you only knew.” more

Friday Prayers in the Hadith

“… (He who) offers the Prayers and listens quitely when the Imam stands up for sermon, will have his sins forgiven between that Friday and the next” (Bukhari)

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