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A Discourse on Sin

Friday Sermon February 5th, 2010 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 gave a discourse on sin in his Friday Sermon today. Citing verse 121 of Surah Al An’am, the translation of which reads: ‘And eschew sin be it apparent or hidden. Surely, those who earn sin will be rewarded for that which they have earned.’ (6:121) Huzur explained the literal meanings of the Arabic word used therein; ‘Ithim’ (sin).  Huzur said it means sin, crime, or something wrong or exceeding limits, or an act of disobedience that is punishable, or a thought-process that stops one from doing good or an illegal act. Huzur said the Arabic word ‘dhanb’ also connotes sin, but the difference in the meanings is that dhanb is a sin that is committed both unintentionally and intentionally, whereas ithim is that sin which is generally intentional. The verse draws attention to two matters; one is to avoid the obvious and apparent sins as well as the secret ones, to reflect and ponder before doing anything. Secondly, it infers that there are some deeds that appear good but in reality they result in bad consequences. It is only after doing these deeds that it is realised how corrupt they are and how difficult it is to leave them and thus starts a vicious cycle of sin.

God states that one who is firm on taqwa should keep an eye on evil that is apparent and evil that is not apparent and seek God’s help before doing anything. Do not be too taken in by something that has apparent beauty. Where there is the slightest of indication of doubt, thoroughly explore it.  Seek God’s help and guidance, there is blessing in it and it also protects one from bad consequences. It is made clear that unless taqwa is kept in view in everything in life, the difference between halal (permissible) and haram (forbidden) may not be understood. If one then falls in sin and God punishes, no excuses will avail. The verse preceding the aforementioned one clarifies a matter of principle that many people tend to mislead therefore it is important to be able to differentiate between halal and haram on a personal level. Moreover, by using the word Ithim, it has been made clear that, if in spite of this guidance once does not desist and is affected by those who mislead then one is knowingly committing sin and sin that is committed intentionally is punishable.

God has given many commandments with reference to ithim. In Surah Al Ar’af it is stated: ‘Say, ‘My Lord has only forbidden foul deeds, whether open or secret, and sin and wrongful transgression, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and that you say of Allah that of which you have no knowledge.’ (7:34) Huzur explained that this verse further clarifies that Islam strictly forbids all satanic deeds. As a believer one should always look out for those deeds that are based on taqwa and protect oneself from those deeds that take one away from taqwa. Some things one does covertly and Satan is always on the lookout to tempt one by presenting sin in a beautiful form so that one would start following it. God thus warns not to go near such things. As the verse states, ‘My Lord has only forbidden foul deeds…’ be they open or be they secret. While this identification of indecency is made, the antidote is also given; ‘…Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil…’ (29:46). Huzur said as indecency can be seen all around, especially in this day and age, therefore by prescribing five daily Prayers, believers are enjoined to protect themselves from it.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said, ‘What is Salat? It is a form of prayer which protects man from all sorts of evils and indecencies and makes him worthy of good and of Divine grace. It is said that ‘Allah’ is Ism e Azam (the greatest name). He has put all other attributes below this. Reflect a little; the beginning of Salat is with the Adhan and the Adhan commences with ‘Allah O Akbar’, that is, with the name of Allah and it concludes on, ‘La ilaha Illalla’, that is, on Allah. This distinction is only with the Islamic worship and in it the objective is none other but Allah from the start to the finish. I assert with conviction that no other religion has this form of worship. This Salat, which is a Prayer and in which ‘Allah’, which is His Ism e Azam, has been given precedence, similarly, the Ism e Azam of man is uprightness. Ism e Azam signifies that through which the excellences of humanity is attained.’ Huzur said if we reflect on the phrase of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) that the Ism e Azam of man is uprightness, then we will aim for Salat that takes one closer to God. Once that is done, God enables one to observe that kind of Salat which protects from indecency and takes one to good. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that such a Salat enhances one’s life on earth as well as one’s Hereafter.

Huzur said we need to fill our hearts with remembrance of God so that we are protected from the indecency that is all around us these days. Otherwise one makes errors upon errors and continues to disobey God’s commandments. This is why it is enjoined to protect oneself from transgression, for it is forbidden. If awareness is not inculcated one goes on to exceeds all limits oblivious of which deeds are righteous and which are not. Huzur said there are some regular observers of Salat who also exceed limits. This is why the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God’s help is needed to attain the rightful status of Salat and for this one needs to fear God at all time.

Quoting verse 220 of Surah Al Baqarah, the translation of which reads: ‘They ask thee concerning wine and the game of hazard. Say: ‘In both there is great sin and also some advantages for men; but their sin is greater than their advantage.’ And they ask thee what they should spend. Say: ‘What you can spare.’ Thus does Allah make His commandments clear to you that you may reflect.’ Huzur said after unfolding the facts the verse invites reflection and pondering on the principle that if something has less benefit and more disadvantage, it should be avoided. The verse uses the words ‘Ithimun Kabirun’,  (great sin) for alcohol drinking and gambling as in spite of having benefits they both enhance one in sin. As it is stated in the Qur’an ‘…and he who does that shall meet with the punishment of sin.’ (25:69). One is thus asked to reflect that involvement with these leads to punishment, the words ‘… but their sin is greater…’ signify just this. Huzur said this sin is such that once started it plunges a person deeper and deeper into it. Pure earning is wasted as well as forbidden earning is mixed with pure earning which spoils it. The Qur’an clearly states that they are satanic ways. O ye who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So shun each one of them that you may prosper. Satan desires only to create enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you back from the remembrance of Allah and from Prayer. But will you keep back?’ (5:91-92).

Huzur said alcohol and gambling are commonplace. These are available everywhere, even in places where there is a restriction on them. Not only are they commonplace in these countries, people are tempted and lured to them. Every service-station, every store promotes gambling through [fruit] machines. As for shirk, (associating partners with Allah) if there are no obvious idols, there are many idols of the nafs (self) and it is these idols that hinder one from worship of God; worship (Salat) that restrains one from indecency.  Huzur said the current-day ‘divining arrows’ is the lottery which is forbidden. A true believer should show uprightness in worship and this uprightness will come about when one is drawn to remembrance of God and Salat. The Qur’an states: ‘…And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah; surely, Allah is severe in punishment.’ (5:3). Huzur said real taqwa is inside a believer, indeed it should be. There should always be cooperation in matters of piety; this facilitates seeds of taqwa to be sown. It does not behove a believer that if a sin is committed it is a deliberate one. God’s chastisement is severe when one does not desist from repetitive sin and transgression.

Huzur said in spite of this beautiful teaching it is often alleged that Islam was spread through force. Every now and then mischief is created about Islam but note what is happening in the West, the transgressions that are being carried out in Iraq and some other countries. We have now heard the account of Iraq through the public inquiry [Chilcot Inquiry]. Many have acknowledged [in the Inquiry] that transgression was committed and is being committed in Iraq but there are those who have said that it was right [to go to war there]. The teaching of Islam is that if you have taqwa, acknowledge your mistake and restrain yourself from transgressing.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that one should always help one’s weaker brother. He said it is extremely inappropriate that if can swim and the other does not, the swimmer does not try to save the other from drowning. The Holy Qur’an enjoins to share the burden of one’s weak brother. The Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were taught not to be irritated by the weakness of the new Muslims. That community is not a community which usurps the other and if a few among them get together they talk behind the back of their disadvantaged brother. What is required is unanimity that brings about strength and unity. Moral strength should be extended. This comes about when love, affection and forgiveness are promoted and covering the faults of others is given precedence. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that this is the way of blessing and brotherhood that God reminded the Companions about. Even if they had spent the equivalent of a mountain of gold they would not have had the brotherhood they had by following the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). God has established this movement on the same paradigm and He will establish similar brotherhood in it.

Huzur cited verse 13 of Surah Al Hujurat the translation of which reads: ‘O ye who believe! avoid most of suspicions; for suspicion in some cases is a sin. And spy not, nor back-bite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his brother who is dead? Certainly you would loathe it. And fear Allah, surely, Allah is Oft-Returning with compassion and is Merciful.’ and said that therein God has drawn our attention to a great sin. God wishes to create love, harmony and brotherhood among believers and this is generated with thinking good of others. The verse enjoins to avoid thinking ill of others. This leads to sin which goes on to destroy societal peace. Sometimes man commits this sin to satisfy his ego. The verse also enjoins to avoid spying/prying into others’ business. This habit springs from thinking ill of others. Many educated people who serve the Community at times say things that perhaps even ignorant, peasant women would not say. They magnify small complaints which affect their ability to do their work and make their own life and that of whom they complain about burdensome. Huzur said some of these matters are presented to him. Nothing of substance is found upon investigation. Some cases are based on hearsay and matters are exaggerated out of proportion making the life of the person about whom it is miserable. He is looked upon as a great sinner, he hides around. Huzur said all this is a sin which God has strictly forbidden. Backbiting is also a sin, rather than reformation it breaches peace and accord. Tittle-tattle in back-biting, pouring scorn on others is so abhorrent that the Qur’an likens it to eating the flesh of one’s dead brother. Huzur said if one wishes to correct someone they should advise him/her in private. If the person does not pay heed, then the administration of the Community should be informed through the Ameer sahib. If, for some reason, it is not satisfactory then the message should be sent to Huzur. Huzur said some people do send complaints to him and it is apparent that they are but letting off steam and correction/reformation is not their objective. Such letters are often written anonymously to Huzur, or are simply signed as [from] an Ahmadi or a Sympathiser or a fictitious name and address is given. Huzur said the objective is only to create a complaint in Huzur’s heart and they do not succeed in this. Not disclosing their name signifies that they are not really sympathetic and simply wish to disgrace someone. Anonymous letters are not usually investigated. Huzur said it is his job to have the matter investigated with fairness and justice. In the instance of no name or address there can be no investigation.. Even in the instance when someone is disciplined, Huzur said he does not feel any dislike or censure towards the person, all he feels is pain that an Ahmadi has been disciplined.

Ahmadis should remember that God states that He is Oft-Returning with compassion and is Ever Merciful. Those who have the habit to think ill of others, to pry in others’ matters and to backbite should self-examine and reflect and seek forgiveness from God.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said:

‘The mischief starts when a person indulges in false suspicions and doubts.. If a person thinks well in every situation, he is bestowed the capacity to achieve good. A mistake at the very start makes it difficult to reach the goal. Thinking ill of another is a great vice which deprives a person of many opportunities of doing good and which goes on mounting till a person begins to think ill of God Almighty.

Some sins are so subtle that one is embroiled in them without realising. One goes from youth to old age unaware that one is committing sin. For example there is the habit to tell tales. People consider it a most trivial and small matter although the Holy Qur’an has declared it extremely bad and has stated: ‘Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his brother who is dead?’

God is displeased when one utters something which insults one’s brother and takes an action which harms him. To say something about one’s brother that proves his ignorance and foolishness or stealthily generates dishonour or enmity about his habit are all evil deeds.’

Huzur prayed that may God enable us to avoid every kind of sin and do every kind of piety. May we practise all His commandments and attain the Paradise of His pleasure.

Next Huzur announced the sad martyrdom of SamiUllah sahib of Shehzadpur in district Sangher, Pakistan. He was martyred on 3 February in Shehzadpur. He was coming home after closing his electrics shop in the evening when two assailants on a motorcycle shot him in the head. He was 53 years old and served the Jama’at in various capacities. He was a Moosi. Had two wives. One wife resides in Canada while the other was with him in Shehzadpur. May God grant him Paradise and grant steadfastness to the bereaved and may He be their Helper and Protector.  


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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