Today’s Friday sermon was a continuance of the last two sermons elucidating verses 152 to 154 of Surah Al An’am. The two aspects explained today pertain to paying societal dues, ending disorder from society, establishing peace and justice in society, making hearts subservient to Divine commandments and fulfilling pacts and covenants or about the Islamic teaching regarding them.
Objections are raised about Islam today that God forbid, it is a harsh, extremist faith. Recently someone wrote in the USA that Friday is a day of disorder in Islam and raised many other objections against Islam. Our Jama’at contacted the publication which published the piece and one of our young men wrote a good piece in response explaining the beautiful teaching of Islam, objectives of Islamic teaching and objectives of Friday in Islam. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih has further instructed them on how to compose articles in this regard. Today is only Jama’at e Ahmadiyya which is taking the mission of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) forward by not only defending Islam but also by silencing the enemy through reasoning. At times God also enables fair-minded non-Muslim people to articulate the qualities of Islam. Recently a Catholic scholar, a professor, wrote such a piece in the Daily Telegraph, praising Islam and Muslims. He criticised atheists and [British] nationalist movements and wrote that Muslims should try and uphold their excellent teachings and traditions.
As regards the Quranic commandments on justice and fairness, it states: ‘…And when you speak, observe justice, even if the concerned person be a relative…’ (6:153) Dispensing justice is multi-faceted and the Holy Qur’an has given detailed directives about it. Observance of justice as regards one’s near and dear ones, the Qur’an states: ‘O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, and being witnesses for the sake of Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. Whether he be rich or poor, Allah is more regardful of them both than you are. Therefore follow not low desires so that you may be able to act equitably. And if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do. (4:136) Here, it is explained that a general principle regarding bearing witness should be that it is purely for the sake of seeking God’s pleasure. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Be firm on truth and on justice and all your testimonies should be for the sake of God.’ Indeed, unless the objective is to bear witness for the sake of God the requisite high standard cannot be attained.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said: ‘Administering justice is the king of all faculties. If the capacity to administer justice is missing in a person, he will be deprived [from the merit of] all other faculties as well.’ The human trait to be fair enhances his other qualities. If the capacity as mentioned in the aforementioned verse is enacted upon, that is, one bears witness against oneself, one’s parents and near and dear ones, a peerless beautiful society would be created.
Bearing witness/testifying is required when there is a problem between two parties so that the reality of the matter is clarified and dispensing of justice is made easy. However, if the very testimony is false, it is possible that the decision of the decision-maker is not right, in fact even the wrong decision can be given. In this regard the sin is on the person who gives false testimony. Some people do give wrong testimony to benefit their near and dear ones. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that anyone who made him give out an incorrect verdict by giving a wrong statement as if takes a piece of fire from him.
The aforementioned verse (4:136) is also applicable on matters of marital disagreements. Those who try and particularly seek what is not due to them by giving false testimonies, whether is the wife or the husband or their respective families, facilitate miscarriage of justice and obtain piece of fire for themselves. God states that contesting parties and witnesses thus avoid what is fair by following their selfish desires. He then states: ‘…if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do.’ Giving false testimony by someone can deceive the decision-maker and have a verdict passed in their favour and against the rules of justice, but God is well aware and cannot be deceived. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) has drawn attention to saying the clear and straight word in the Nikah sermon, so that while going through life and in times of disagreements, Qawl e Sadeed (the right word) is not abandoned. Doing so takes one away from justice and fairness and it becomes a source of chaos and turmoil.
When marital problems, Khula or divorce, come before the Qadha Board, sometimes the statements given are not based on truth and reality. Similarly, for temporary advantage, some people abandon Taqwa in business dealings and thus obtain piece of fire. The Hadith which cites ‘piece of fire’ is about inheritance problems between two brothers. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) informed them that they were as if obtaining a piece of fire, they were overwhelmed and said they relinquished their rights. However, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) told them that relinquishing one’s right was also not right and to draw lots if their testimonies were not conclusive. May God have mercy and give sense to people who impede the course of justice. If just and fair testimonies are given in domestic and business matters, our society can be a heavenly model.
The Holy Qur’an gives detailed directive about justice. It states: ‘Verily, Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you judge between men, you judge with justice. And surely excellent is that with which Allah admonishes you! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (4:59) The first thing the verse mentions is to make over the trusts to those to whom they rightly belong to. A short while ago Hazrat Khalifatul Masih gave a detailed Friday sermon explaining that this year is an election year in the Jama’at and people should not be elected out of personal preferences but with honesty and fairness those should be elected who will dispense justice. Elections have now taken place and in some places people have chosen based on personal preference, in some places Hazrat Khalifatul Masih has appointed people to office regardless of voting results and has kept on those who work well. Every individual has a personal level of working and if he reaches that mark, it is possible that he cannot develop any further. It is possible that he will function better in another area. Some people think the changes made are borne of displeasure. More than displeasure the main factor in these changes was interest of the Jama’at. God alone knows what is in hearts. We can only consult and decide on what is obvious. However, in some countries people have been elected based on personal preferences. Now that the elections have taken place, it is the duty of those elected to seek help and forgiveness from God. [Jama’at] offices are a grace and favour of God and it should be valued as such. Those elected to Jama’at office should now plan for the moral training and development of members of their respective Jama’ats with fairness and try and work hard. Every office-holder from local to national level is included in these instructions. Interest of the Jama’at should be over and above personal interests, otherwise God informs us that He is All-Seeing and He keeps an account of everything we do. Indeed, If one is elected to do a task in the name of God, He will hold one to account and if one does not perform that task with fairness, then one is liable to be held more accountable than worldly people. Office-holders should honour their covenants of duty with humility and while engaging in Istaghfar. May God enable everyone to do so.
There is further directive pertaining justice and fairness as regards domestic problems or issues to do with office-holders: ‘O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.’ (5:9) What beautiful teaching this is to eliminate disorder from the world. Those who raise objections about Islam could not present something of this level either from the temporal or religious teaching. Whatever a true believer does, he does it for the sake of God and tries not to have any laxness in it. A believer gives testimony in support of justice and does not limit this level of justice to his family, friends and associates. Rather, the standard of a believer’s justice is how he dispenses it to his enemy. In this verse again in conclusion it is stated that God is aware of everything we do and if we do not abide by this standard, then we are not from those who follow Taqwa.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that although the Gospels teach to love one’s enemy they do not teach staying firm on justice in the face of injustice and persecution by peoples. He said it is easy to be kind and generous to the enemy but it is most difficult to protect the rights of the enemy and to stay firm on justice in disagreements, contests etc. and only the gallant can practice this. Most people can show love to their enemy and do sweet-talking with them but go on to usurp their rights. A brother loves his brother and in the guise of his love, he deceives his brother and usurps his right. God has not mentioned love in this verse (5:9) but has mentioned the standard/benchmark/measure of love, because one who loves his deadly enemy is who truly loves.
Following the commandment of justice and fairness [in 6:153] God gives the directive: ‘… and fulfil the covenant of Allah…’ This draws our attention to yet another beautiful teaching of Islam and important commandment of God that it is essential for the moral and spiritual beauty of man to follow all directives. God has given different commandments in the Holy Qur’an for different occasions and has stated that they all should be to seek the pleasure of God. This is possible when one’s heart is unpolluted and is filled with the fervour that every action needs to be done to fulfil the covenant made with God. The greatest covenant for a believer, for an Ahmadi is the covenant of Bai’at. If its reality is understood one would be drawn to do every virtue. Ahmadi society can be purified if one goes over the covenant of Bai’at as taken by the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) time to time.
The promises we make in our covenant of Bai’at are, firstly that we shall abstain from Shirk (association of any partner with God) right up to the day of our death. That we shall keep away from falsehood, fornication, adultery, trespasses of the eye, debauchery, dissipation, cruelty, dishonesty, mischief and rebellion; and will not be carried away by passions. That we shall regularly offer the five daily Prayers and invoke Durud and routinely ask for God’s forgiveness and will remember His bounties. We will not cause any harm whatsoever to the creatures of Allah, will remain faithful to God in all circumstances and will never turn away from it at the onslaught of any misfortune and will not complain if some trials have to be endured. |We will refrain from following un-Islamic customs and completely submit ourselves to the authority of the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We will give up arrogance and adopt humility and hold the honour of Islam dearer than everything else. We will endeavour to benefit mankind to the best of one’s God-given abilities and powers. Finally, we will enter into a bond of brotherhood with the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) pledge obedience to him and exert such a high devotion in the observance of this bond as is not to be found in any other worldly relationship and connections demanding devoted dutifulness.
We need to self-reflect and see how much we fulfil these pledges. We should be clear that we will be held accountable about our covenants. People will be answerable on every level. Last Friday sermon elucidated rights of orphans as a pledge and one will be held accountable over it. Similarly, rulers will be answerable for not governing correctly as will the masses/public for not paying their dues. Unfortunately the condition of Muslim leaders is like this and they appear unafraid as if they will not be held accountable. The obligations of office-holders have already been mentioned. If they are not just and fair towards the members of the Jama’at, they will be held accountable and indeed all Ahmadis who have taken Bai’at will be answerable about the conditions of Bai’at as just mentioned.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih wanted to draw attention to one further covenant which every citizen makes in the name of God, the Holy Qur’an or the ruler of the country. Fulfilling this kind of covenant is the obligation of every Muslim and not fulfilling it is weakness of faith. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that love of one’s country is part of faith. Ahmadis should reflect over the subtleties of this Hadith. It has been brought to the attention of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih that some people who have businesses either pay lower wages to their employees or show them to be less paid and ask them to claim benefit from the local Council for the remainder amount. In this way they are dishonouring their covenant and are also making the employee break his. Tax is also saved on the money saved in this manner and this is cheating the Government and is dishonouring the covenant made to the Government. All this is utter wrongdoing and is breaking of the covenant which is made upon receiving citizenship; it is also breaking of the covenant of Bai’at. Ahmadis need to self-reflect in every matter.
Another ill borne of not fulfilling covenants which destroys families is not abiding by the directives regarding Khula and divorce. There is a commandment of saying the right word and fairness in matrimonial matters. If these are abided by, problems would not arise in the first place, but if problems did arise, the instructions should be kept in view for guidance, especially men should be mindful of this. God states: ‘And if you desire to take one wife in place of another and you have given one of them a treasure, take not aught therefrom. Will you take it by lying and with manifest sinfulness? And how can you take it when one of you has been alone with the other, and they (the women) have taken from you a strong covenant? (4:21 - 22) If these commandments were abided by us in matters of Khula and divorce, long-drawn disagreements would not take place. Some people practically slander at the time of divorce, which is a manifest sin. If even there is some element of fact, it should be left to God. In any case such matters are conditional to many testimonies. Marriage is a pact and there are private promises made between husband and wife. God states that although there are no witnesses to these private promises, it is important to fulfil them. If the marriage is to break up, there should be no demand for return of gifts. With the exception of the Qadhi noting some discrepancy from the girl’s side, Haq Mehr should be paid in full. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih reminded men and women to be mindful that marriage is a pact which should be fulfilled. If unfortunately, a marriage breaks up certain matters should be abided by and mutual secrets should be kept. It is also the duty of women to practice Qawl e Sadeed and honour domestic obligations and not be slanderous about men.
May God enable us to abide by Taqwa and fulfil all our covenants and may we uphold whatever attempts we have made during this Ramadan to gain God’s pleasure. May this Ramadan make us the recipients of blessings more than ever and may we have an enhanced insight of the commandments of the Holy Qur’an. The few examples of Quranic commandments explained in the sermon were given so that we may look into them and follow them. May God make the majority of us avail of this and continue to do so in future!