‘Say, ‘Come, I will rehearse to you what your Lord has made inviolable for you: that you may not associate anything with Him as a partner and that you must treat parents with exceeding kindness, and that you kill not your children for fear of poverty – it is We Who provide for you and for them – and that you approach not foul deeds, whether open or secret; and that you kill not the life which Allah has made sacred, save by right. That is what He has enjoined upon you, that you may understand.
And approach not the property of the orphan, except in a way which is best, till he attains his maturity. And give full measure and weight with equity. We task not any soul except according to its capacity. And when you speak, observe justice, even if the concerned person be a relative, and fulfil the covenant of Allah. That is what He enjoins upon you, that you may remember.
And say, ‘This is My path leading straight. So follow it; and follow not other ways, lest they lead you away from His way. That is what He enjoins upon you, that you may become able to guard against evils.’ (6:152-154)
As explained in last Friday sermon, the month of Ramadan and the Holy Qur’an have a particular affinity because the revelation of the Qur’an began in this month. However, this connection can only avail if our recitation of the Qur’an during Ramadan is done in conjunction with reflecting over its directives and then these directives are made part of our lives. Otherwise we would not be fulfilling the objective of it being revealed in Ramadan.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘The objective of the Holy Qur’an was to turn savage state into humanness and then through good manners make people civilised so that matters could be resolved within the prescribed limits and directives and then turn them into godly people.’
He also said: ‘It should also be remembered that the Holy Qur’an carries guidance for academic and practical accomplishments. As such, ‘Guide us on the right path’ indicates seeking knowledge while ‘The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings…’ refers to its practical implementation, so that the best and perfect results may be achieved. Unless a sapling grows and develops properly it cannot bear flowers or fruits. Similarly, any guidance that has does not have most excellent results, is a dead guidance.’
The Promised Messiah said: ‘The Holy Qur’an is a guidance through which its follower attains excellence and he develops a connection with God Almighty. His good deeds, which are in accordance to the directives of the Holy Qur’an, grow liked a blessed tree, as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. They bear fruit which develop a distinctive sweetness and flavour.’
A distinct change comes about in a person who reads the Qur’an as it ought to be read and follows its commandments. High moral values are created and one becomes a civilised and godly person and God has likened this condition to a blessed tree ‘…It is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches reach into heaven. (14:25)
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Elucidating this Allah the Exalted likens such a faith to seed and tree here and deeds to watering/irrigation. The Qur’an gives the similitude of a farmer who sows seeds and calls this sowing the seeds of faith. There irrigation works and here, deeds work. It should therefore be remembered that faith without any deeds is like a garden without any water/streams. A tree will dry out if after planting it its owner does not pay attention to water it. It is the same with faith. ‘And as for those who strive in Our path…’ (29:70), that is, do not suffice on small attempts, this path requires great striving.’ (Translated from Tafseer of Holy Qur’an, Vol. II pp.757 – 758)
Indeed, Ramadan draws our attention to [spiritual] striving. While reflecting over the Holy Qur’an and while trying to understand it, we should also put its teaching in practice so that we become those fresh and verdant branches which reach into heaven and which are connected to God.
In the verses recited at the start of the sermon God has drawn attention to a few directives. These directives guide us towards Taqwa and towards paying the dues of God and the dues of mankind. Although the translation of the verses would have made these directive very clear, but Huzoor mentioned them once again as a remainder:
Do not associate anyone or anything with God
Show kindness to parents, their mistreatment is forbidden
Do not kill your children for fear of poverty
Avoid every hidden and apparent indecency; in fact do not even go near it
Do not take life that God has made sacred
Do not go near the property of an orphan
When the orphans reach adulthood, hand over their property to them
Give full measure and weight with fairness
Be fair and just in all circumstances, no relative or dear one should be an impediment in this
Fulfil your promises and pledges
Under all circumstances try to stay on the right path.
The first commandment forbids associating anyone with God. Which sensible person would associate partners with God Who has created us and Who nurtures our mental, physical and spiritual capacities and gives us all the blessings? Yet, people do not understand and associate partners with God. They do not try to understand the significance of Shirk in depth. Each age and era has had people who have had this tendency and this is why the first message of Prophets of God is teaching against Shirk; indeed Shirk is an unforgivable sin.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: Every sin is forgivable but associating partners with God is an unforgivable sin. ‘…Surely, associating partners with God is a grievous wrong.’ (31:14) and ‘…will not forgive that any partner be associated with Him…’ (4:48) Here, Shirk does not simply mean worshipping idols made of stone. In fact it is also Shirk to venerate worldly means and give importance to worldly idols. This indeed is Shirk. The example of sinning is like smoking Huqqah, giving it up is not that difficult and inconvenient while the example of Shirk is like taking opium, which is an impossible habit to break.’ (Translated from Malfuzat, Vol. 6 pp 18 – 19)
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Shirk is three-fold. The first kind is general idol-worship and worship of trees. This is a broad, common Shirk. The second kind of Shirk is when too much reliance is placed on ways and means, that is, saying ‘if such and such did not happen, I would have died’, this is Shirk. The third kind of Shirk is whereby one considers oneself to something compared to God. No one gets embroiled in the broad kind of Shirk in this age of enlightenment; however, in this time of material advancement, the Shirk of ways and means has increased a lot.’ (Translated from Tafseer of Holy Qur’an, Vol. III p 657)
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) defined worship as: ‘O people, worship the God Who has created you, that is, know that all your tasks come to pass through Him and rely on Him.’
‘O people, worship the God Who has created you…He alone is worthy of worship and He is Living and you should love Him alone. Loyalty is in keeping a special connection with God and everything else should be considered nought in comparison. A person who holds his children or parents so dear that he remains concerned about them all the time also does a kind of idol worship. Idol worship does not only mean to worship idols like Hindus, too much love is also a kind of worship.’
‘O people, worship the God, Who is One and without any partner, Who created you and your forefathers. You should fear the Powerful God Who made the earth a place to rest for you and the sky a cover. Who sent down water from the sky to create varied forms of sustenance for you from fruits. Do not knowingly associate those very things equal to Him which have been created for you.’ (Translated from Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an, Vol. pp. 454 – 455)
Further explaining the reality of worship, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘The real reason for the creation of mankind is worship. Just as it is stated elsewhere: ‘And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.’ (51:57). True worship is when man removes all hardness and crookedness and makes the terrain of his heart as clear as a farmer clears his field…as collyrium/ kohl is ground extremely finely so that it can be put in eyes. Similarly, state of worship is when the terrain of heart is free of grit, pebbles and unevenness and is so clean that it embodies pure soul. If a mirror is cleaned in this manner one can see one’s face in it and if soil is thus treated, all kinds of fruits grow in it. Therefore, if man, who has been created to worship God, cleans his heart and does not let any grit, pebbles or unevenness remain in it, God will be seen in it. I say again that God’s love will grow and flourish therein bearing sweet and wholesome fruits which will be eternal. ’
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also said that it is only possible to stand before God in a special state of humility when there is an exceptional connection with Him. And the love has to be mutual, between the Creator and man. Love of God should be so intense and so true that it should burn away human frailties, just like lightening burns away anything that it strikes, and spirituality should take over.
This is the reason for our creation and this is the reason for experiencing Ramadan and this is the standard of worship that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has taught us. Once this standard is attained, man is free from all kinds of Shirk. May God enable us to worship in this manner this Ramadan.
The second commandment is about kindness to parents. The sequence of these directives is natural because after God it is the parents who look after us and nurture us. God has stated: ‘Thy Lord has commanded, ‘Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with excellent speech.’ (17:24) Sometimes complaints are received from parents of educated and level-headed people that not only they do not pay the dues of their parents but are in fact unfair to them. Sisters write in that brothers even raise their hands to the parents especially in matters of property settlement. If parents manage property settlement in their lifetime the offspring turn nasty. These examples are also found among us and parents are left dispossessed. In this country adolescents turn to rudeness in the name of freedom. Generally speaking after a certain age youngsters are considered independent here, but freedom here has no attention to the degree of seniority which is in fact ignorance. The beautiful teaching of Islam is not to express any disgust to parents, rather repay their kindness with kindness although it is not really possible to repay the kindness of parents.
The beautiful teaching of Islam teaches the prayer: ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in my childhood.’ (17:25) This indeed should be our standard. This prayer can be said for parents even after they have departed from this world for elevation of their station in the Hereafter.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘God has commanded that you do not worship anyone save Him and are kind to your parents. Rububiyyat (Divine quality to sustain and nurture) is a wonder! A baby does not have any kind of strength and his mother takes great care of him in that state and the father gives the mother support in her undertakings. Out of His sheer grace, Allah the Exalted has made two sources to look after fragile creation and has placed a ray of love in them out of the luminosity of His love. However, it should be remembered that parents’ love is limited and God’s love is real. Unless hearts are inspired by Allah the Exalted, no person, be he a friend, a peer or a ruler, can love another. It is the secret of the perfect Rububiyyat of God that parents love their children so much that they bear all kind of pains most sincerely while caring for them, so much so that they do not even hesitate to die for the life of their child.’
‘…never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with excellent speech.’ That is, do not speak offensively to your parents and do not say something to them which does not regard their position. This verse is addressed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) but in reality the message is intended for the Ummah because the parents of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had passed away in his childhood. This directive has a hidden message and that is that a wise person can decipher that here the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is addressed and is being asked to respect his parents and keep their esteem in view in everything he says to them, so how much more should others respect and regard their parents! And this is what the second verse also refers to: ‘Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents…’. That is, your Lord has commanded that you worship Him alone and are kind to your parents. This verse enjoins those who worship idols that idols are nothing and idols do them no favours, they did not create them and did not look after them in their infancy. If God wished to warrant worship of another save Him, He would have asked parents to be worshipped because they sustain and nurture on a worldly level and everyone, even birds and beasts protect their young ones in their infancy. Therefore, after God’s Rububiyyat, they [parents] too have a Rububiyyat and the strength of this Rububiyyat is also from God Almighty.’ (Translated from Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an, Vol. 3 pp. 59 – 60)
Thus is the status of parents which must be kept in view. Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that disgraced be that person who experienced old age of his parents and did not earn Paradise by serving them.
The next commandment is: ‘…you kill not your children for fear of poverty…’. This has many connotations. The beauty of the teaching of Islam is that first offspring are enjoined to treat parents kindly and not say anything harsh to them, even if one does not like what they say, one should be kind and obedient. Next, parents are commanded to carry out excellent upbringing of their children and not let poverty come in the way. Pay such attention to education and training of children that they do not end up being spiritually dead. When God gave parents the status of Rububiyyat, He made it obligatory on them to look after their children and not kill them. Of course, no sensible person would kill his children apart from the odd unbalanced, unhinged one or those who have forgotten God. Here, one keeps hearing of mothers killing their children with the help of their boyfriends and in underdeveloped countries one hears of parents burning themselves to death along with their children out of utter despair and unstable mind-set.
One meaning of ‘…you kill not your children…’ is not giving them good upbringing. Some do not give enough time and attention to their children due to business commitments and mothers complain that as fathers are not home children go off track. When children reach teenage, they do particularly need the presence and friendship of fathers as they learn wrong from outside influence. This is moral killing of one’s children. Fathers may say that their time is taken by working hard to make a living for their children but what good is wealth that causes children to lose their way? Another instance of this which is prevalent in the western world and can also be found in our Jama’at is that mothers go out to work or do not pay attention to the family home and spend their time elsewhere. When children come home there is no one to look after them. These women say they work to meet household expenses and when they return home tired, they do pay attention to the family and neglect which gravely affects children. Quite a few women work only to earn money for themselves. Some working women say that they have to go out to work because of their idle husbands. Such husbands need to fear God and being sources of ‘killing their children.’ Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) once said that if an expectant woman is not provided sufficient dietary requirements and this weakens the unborn child, this too is ‘killing’. The term also connotes family planning out of fear of poverty. Termination of pregnancy is only allowed when mother’s health is in danger, and not for any other reason. God states: ‘…it is We Who provide for you and for them…’ and ‘…Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.’ (17:32) True Muslims can never take such steps. Let alone great sins, they avoid the smallest of sins.
Children should be given time and attention. Their education, affiliation with the Jama’at , good, pious upbringing should be given importance. Home environment should be made conducive to pious upbringing so that children can grow up to be useful members of society. It is certainly the responsibility of parents to bring them up in an excellent manner and to educate them well. Rather than follow their own preferences, parents should give time and attention to their children. Fathers cannot say it is a mother’s job to bring up children and mothers cannot say it is a father’s job. It is of course for both of them to bring up their children together. Children receive best upbringing when it is done by both mother and father playing their respective roles. Here [in the west] there are many single parent families and children are being ruined. Schools are weary of such families as is the police. Children who go the wrong way early on in life often go on to join the criminal fraternity.
It is a cause for concern here that divorce rate is also increasing among us and it is ruining children when divorce takes place in a family with children. Parents should sacrifice their egos and preferences for the sake of their children.
May God enable all of us to practice the commandments of the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan. Three commandments [from the verses recited at the start] were explained in today’s sermon, the rest will be explained another time.