Today's Friday sermon was delivered by Khalifatul Masih V (May Allah be his Helper) from Baitul Futuh mosque, London. After Tashahhud and Surah Fātiḥah Khalifatul Masih quoted the following verses of the Holy 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 better for you, if you only knew. And when the Prayer is finished, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah's grace, and remember Allah much, that you may prosper. But when they see some merchandise or some amusement, they break up for it, and leave thee standing. Say, 'That which is with Allah is better than amusement and merchandise, and Allah is the Best Provider.'" (62:10-12)
When Allah gave the commandment for fasting, he also remarked that these days are numbered. When Ramadan started, many amongst us thought that these are long summer days and wondered how will these 30 days go by. But as Allah has remarked, these days are numbered and now these days have gone by and today we are on the 25th Ramadan Fast. Huzoor says that many people write to me and say that Ramadan went by too quickly. Huzoor says that it is actually true that when Ramadan starts, we feel as though the days are very long but as time passes by, one doesn't feel it that much. Today is the last Friday of Ramadan. In these 4-5 remaining days, we should strive to ensure that any shortcomings should be removed. Pray to Allah that he may cover our flaws, be merciful upon us and do not leave us devoid from blessings of Ramadan. Commonly, this is called the Farewell Friday. Generally Muslims think this Friday can result in all prayers being accepted, all pending salats and Ibadahs are forgotten about and pardoned but this concept is completely incorrect and a true believer should not think like that. For a true Ahmadi believer this is like making a mockery of the religion.
Allah has been extremely Gracious to us that we have accepted the most ardent devotee of Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) , who purified us from such thoughts and guided us to the true teachings of Islam. Not only he introduced us to the true teachings of Islam but he also opened the avenues for us that lead to nearness to Allah.
Huzoor says that once the Promised Messiah (A.S) was asked a question that on this friday people offer 4 rakats Prayers called Qadha- e-Umri which means that these four rakats are offered in lieu of all the previous salats that one has ever missed in his /her whole life. Does it have any significance?
The Promised Messiah (A.S) said, This is a foolish act and anybody who intentionally abandons Salat all year round because he thinks he can make up for it all by offering it on the day of Qadha-e-umri is actually committing a sin. There is no harm if somebody offers it with the intention that he would never miss salat again. Moreover, Promised Messiah (A.S) said that in such cases we follow Hadhrat Ali's (may Allah be pleased with him) example. During Hadhrat Ali's (may Allah be pleased with him) caliphate, once a man was offering salat at the wrong time. Somebody asked Hadhrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that you are the Caliph of the time, why don't you stop him ? He responded that i'm afraid that I might be in the wrong according to this verse of the Holy Quran:
Hast thou seen him who forbids (96:10)
A servant of Ours when he prays? (96:11)
The Promised Messiah (A.S) said if somebody repents and prays then he shouldn't be stopped because end of the day he is just praying. Yes it shows the lack of spirit and responsibility on one's behalf but Deeds are judged by their intentions. That is why Hadhrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was also careful because of the above verse of the Holy Quran. Promised Messiah (A.S) gave this ruling while keeping in view the same verse of the Holy Qur'an. He also made it clear that if one does not intend to correct and change themselves from then onwards but only want to make up for missed salats of a lifetime, then this is wrong. In our Jama'at, there is no concept of Qadha-e-umri. We have to forbid innovation and give precedence to faith over the worldly matters.
When we have promised to give precedence to faith over all the worldly matters then how can one think of missing Salat or Fridays prayers? Farewell Friday for us has a completely different meaning. For a true Ahmadi, we bid farewell to this Friday with a heavy heart, we are bidding farewell to these blessed days. Friday is a means for us to convene in a congregation so we pray that May Allah enable us to witness these blessed days again next year and welcome Ramadan again next year. No one bids farewell to their loved ones and says that we will forget you now because you are leaving. Those who leave us forever, one cannot even forget their memories. One tries to keep their legacy alive by continuing their good deeds. Believers pray for their loved ones who have passed away fervently. Our dear ones who go away temporarily, to other cities or countries for their work etc are never forgotten. Nowadays by using phones, text messages and other messaging services for example skype etc one keeps in touch with their loved ones. We never bid farewell to our loved ones and say that we will forget them for a year or two and we will forget who they were. Also that we will think about them again when we meet again, we will analyze whether to keep our relationship or not. Have we ever witnessed such behaviour in worldly relations? Indeed one would be insane if he behaves in this manner and will be called a lunatic. When we think of the most beloved One, Lord of All the Worlds, He Who gives us everything, The Gracious, The Merciful, Who says to have firm faith in Him, Who says to not break ties with Him, Who says to love Him the most and remember Him often . How can we say that we will only temporarily remember You in these numbered days of Ramadan and now we are free . From this Friday, we are bidding farewell to you and forgetting you for an entire year and when the next Ramadan arrives, we will remember You again. Even if we do not pay Your dues during Ramadan, we will still have the last Friday to pay dues. Those who have such thoughts, may not proclaim but by their actions, it becomes clear. You can witness this in the decreased attendance in the coming weeks on Fridays after Ramadan. This shows the lack of faith.
A believer is far above such thoughts. A believer is replete with Gratefulness to God. A believer goes through Ramadan to attain the pleasure of Allah. A true believer with a heavy heart testifies that we are bidding farewell to Ramadan but we will remember its memories. We will always continue to worship the way we did during this month. We have witnessed awe inspiring ways of His love. When we walked towards God, He kept his promise and came running towards us. How is it possible that we remember our worldly relations but forget the one who is our Creator. It is a great favour of God upon us that He has repeatedly given us the opportunity for Friday Prayers so we can experience the same feelings of Ramadan. We may only have one Farewell Friday in a year but every 7 days is Friday and this is how we can partake of those blessings. The same blessings which one seeks during Farewell Friday can be attained in any other Friday as well. A moment arrives during Friday when all the prayers are accepted. This moment lasts for a very short while. After today, we should know that we are not being distanced from these blessings but we will experience the same feelings after every 7 days. A believer never bids farewell to virtues and blessings. A believer never distances himself from Allah the Almighty. A believer seeks ways and virtues to attain nearness to Allah. Every virtue can lead one to God. A believer does not limit himself to Friday prayers.
Holy Prophet (SAW) told us to meet God often ...how so… by offering five daily prayers, between friday to next friday, between Ramadan to next Ramadan and these prayers will become expiation for all the sins a person commits during this period, provided one abstains from greater sins. Through the five daily prayers, one can keep in touch with God and attain His Mercy. Partake of each and every Friday and that moment which is the moment of acceptance of prayers. Continue the reformation of this month throughout the year so you witness God's Mercy throughout the year. Today, each of us should pledge that this Friday and this Ramadan will make us safeguard our prayers, our Fridays. Those virtues from this Ramadan will be continued till the next Ramadan. We have to make a pledge to remain steadfast and continue these virtues so that we can continuously rehearse till next Ramadan. So that when we enter the next Ramadan, we can make new targets and increase in virtues, and nearness to God. Many of us have to go through various stages to attain nearness to Allah. We can't solely rely upon Ramadan. If we only rely upon Ramadan, it will take us ages and we won't be able to achieve our goals and targets.
During this Ramadan, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih (aba) has delivered sermons on Taqwa, acceptance of prayers, Worship etc. After each sermon, Huzoor (aba) would receive many letters saying that we were once again reminded and hence understand better the Promised Messiah's (A.S) message. These discourses will only help when we make such discourses part of our daily lives.
Each Friday is important. It is not associated with Ramadan Friday prayers nor with Farewell Friday. The importance of this Friday is only to help us take care of all of our Five daily prayers and Friday prayers. This Ramadan is here to remind us to not distance ourselves from worship and virtues. Even in the verse recited by Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih (may Allah be his helper) the importance of Friday prayers is stressed .
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 better for you, if you only knew. And when the Prayer is finished, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah's grace, and remember Allah much, that you may prosper. But when they see some merchandise or some amusement, they break up for it, and leave thee standing. Say, 'That which is with Allah is better than amusement and merchandise, and Allah is the Best Provider.' (62:10-12)
Huzoor reminds us that we need to pay heed to Adhan. Nowadays we can tell by our clocks that it is prayer times. Friday Sermon is a part of Friday Prayers and one should strive to arrive for the sermon not just the prayers. In this era, God has bestowed us with the blessing of MTA. In Europe and Africa, the Friday prayer timings are the same. When this is the case, we should hear sermon of Khalifa of the time. In those nations, where the time is not the same, the sermon should be heard live or watched later as a recording. The missionaries should narrate a summary that same friday or the next Friday. This is a great way to establish unity within the Jama'at. Era of Promised Messiah (A.S) has great relevance with Surah Jummah and Khalifa Waqt sermons are part of this Surah. Allah has told us in this verse to leave aside all other tasks and pay heed to Friday Service. It is incorrect to attend to other tasks and leave aside Friday prayers. If one does not pay heed to Allah, their tasks will not be blessed. Only Allah can bless us and help us prosper. These amusements, trades should not prevent you from attending the Friday Service. Now trades are no longer local but they are national/international which keep you occupied in a greater manner. Your amusements are also global which makes you forget the time being spent/ wasted. We shouldn't forget that the foremost objective for a believer is to attain nearness to Allah. Companions of Prophet (SAW) were completely purified and spiritually cleansed and they considered God as the most Supreme. One can never imagine that they missed prayers because of trades or amusement. They could adjust their trades based on timing of Friday.
Indeed this Chapter paints the picture of our era, of the era of Promised Messiah(A.S). Where because of media and our trades, in twenty four hours, we won't find time for prayers. In this era, our worldly matters have priority rather than our religious duties. What Allah offers is far greater than these amusement and trades. Indeed it is He where all blessings originate. If you safeguard your Fridays, you will attain worldly blessings as well. We who believe in the Imam of the age, the Promised Messiah (A.S), should never limit our Friday attendance to Ramadan or farewell fridays. Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said when it is the day of Friday, there is an angel on each door of the mosque. Those who come at the end are given rewards equal to an egg. Those who come sooner are granted greater rewards and the one who comes the first gets reward equivalent to a camel. If you come early to the mosque, you are not wasting your time rather are engaged in remembrance of Allah which is helping you attain nearness to Allah. Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said on day of Judgment, individuals will be gathered based on their sequence of attending Friday prayers.
Moreover Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) also said "Frequent Friday Prayers and sit closer to the Imam. One who falls behind in offering Friday prayers not only loses Friday prayers but also loses paradise." One's laziness can take him away from Heavens and from God. Without realizing the importance of Friday Service, people make excuses.
Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said those who leave three consecutive Friday prayers, God places a seal over their hearts.The seal implies that they are not given the opportunity to perform virtues nor attain nearness to God. All Fridays are important and we should strive to attend them. Some people are exempted by Allah. Allah is not an oppressor. A servant, child, woman and sick are all excused. Some women write to me complaining that we are told to not to attend Friday prayers due to the disturbance caused by children. Huzoor says that Allah has excused women, the Friday prayers are compulsory for men though. It is incumbent upon them.
In 1895 or 1896, Promised Messiah (A.S) wanted to start a scheme where workers would be excused for two hours for Friday Prayers but Maulvi Hussain Batalvi blocked this proposition and said I want to start this. Promised Messiah (A.S) told him to go ahead but it never actually happened. Neither did any other Muslim Scholar did anything about it.
Promised Messiah (A.S) once sent a memorial to Viceroy of India , Lord Curzon. He started the memorial by appreciating all that the government had done for Muslims specially getting back the Badshahi mosque in Lahore and another mosque occupied by railway was also given back to Muslims. He requested, if the Government would further extend her kindness to the Muslims and could excuse Muslims for Friday prayers, it would be highly appreciated.
Friday is a very Important day for Muslims and is mentioned as a holiday in the Holy Quran, he wrote. Friday is mentioned in Surah Jummah in the Holy Quran. In this Surah there is a commandment that when the Adhaan is called for Friday prayers , leave aside all trades of the world and come and say your prayers properly. The one who does not do this is a sinner and is going to be expelled from Islam. Qur'an deems this day as extremely important. The extent to which God has commanded us to attend Friday prayer is in a greater degree than even Eid prayer. For 800 years when Muslims ruled here in India, they always had a day off on Friday.
Then he said there are three groups in India... Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Hindus and Christians have Sunday decreed by government. So Muslims should have Friday. If Muslims are given this day off for their religious practices, it will always be written in golden words. If not a full day, at least a half day off should be granted.
Today clerics raise objections against Promised Messiah (A.S) that his community was planted by the British Government but he is the only one who made British government recognize their duties and rights of Muslims. In this era, it is important to make the true teachings of Islam apparent. This was the task of the Promised Messiah (A.S). We who claim to believe in the Promised Messiah (A.S) should have true Islam reflected from our words and our actions. We have to make virtues and blessings of this Ramadan part of our daily lives, Insha'Allah.
We have to fulfill the covenant made by us to the Imam of the Age. Huzoor brings to our attention that this Friday is associated with the Promised Messiah's(A.S ) time and its relevance to this day and age. Promised Messiah (A.S) states that Allah has completed his favour upon us and blessed us with Islam as the perfect religion. Allah has completed his bounty for us.
"That it will be there for making the religion dominant over the whole world." That day of friday has come and is associated with the advent of Promised Messiah (A.S)
Promised Messiah (A.S) says, "Felicitations to those who benefit from this. Those who are affiliated with me should not be proud of it that you have attained everything you wanted. Yes you are fortunate compared to those who have rejected me and displeased God Almighty by this rejection. By showing your good opinion you have protected yourself from wrath of God. You have come close to this fountain of life which Allah Almighty has created for eternal life. Reality is you are close to the elixir but still have to drink this water. So that Allah Almighty satiates you properly and only Allah can do it and without His help nothing can be done. I know for certain that those who drink from this elixir will not be wasted and will not die. Water gives life. This elixir will protect them from destruction and satan the accursed. But how can one benefit from this elixir?
God wants you to pay dues of God and dues of mankind. You can benefit from this elixir by Discharging your duties towards God and towards your fellow human beings."
So today we should make a promise that we will fulfill our covenant of ba'it. Also we will discharge our duties towards Allah Almighty and towards His people in a way that a true believer is expected to do so and as Allah has commanded.
As Promised Messiah (A.S) has explained this is how we will continue to get the blessings of Ramadan throughout our lives. May Allah enable us to do so. Ameen.