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 Huzoor said, who amongst us doesn't know that offering Salat is obligatory on Muslims. The Holy Quran has drawn our attention towards it by describing its importance at various places. According to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Salat is the essence of prayers. He even said that abandoning Salat makes a man closer to disbelief and idolatry. Then, explaining the importance of Salat, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "On the day of Judgement, a person will be held accountable for Salat before everything else. If the measure (of Salat) is correct, then it means the person is successful and has been salvaged otherwise he will fail."
Likewise, to make children habitual in prayers, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that children must be advised to offer Salat when they reach the age of 7. And at the age of 10, some strictness could also be applied to make them consistent in Salat. However, if parents themselves are not punctual in Salat then how can they expect their children to do so. Or if they learn about this saying of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in some Jama'at meetings but at home they do not find their fathers to be punctual in offering Salat, how will this effect those children? Such fathers' children will think that this commandment doesn't bear much importance. As a consequence, by ignoring the importance of one commandment, the effect of all other Islamic commandments will be nullified in the child's heart. Such people, according to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) not only are not only losers themselves but are responsible for entering their progeny among the losers as well. Parents show their concern to fulfil their own and their children's worldly desires and successes, but they do not pay heed to the matter of real concern.
For a real believer, offering Salat is the only way to remove spiritual corrosion. As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained with an example, "if there was a river at a person's door and he took a bath in it five times a day, can you believe that any dirt would be left on his body." His companions replied, "O Prophet of God, not a trace of dirt would be left." At this, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "That is the parable of the five prayers by which Allah removes sins and eliminates weaknesses." It means that not a trace of dirt is left on the soul of a person who offers five daily prayers. Thus, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the importance of prayers with such a beautiful parable. But as I already said, that the commandment is not merely about offering Salat. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) further stated that a person who performed ablution at home, and then he set off heading to the mosque so that he could offer obligatory prayers he would be rewarded according to the number of steps he has to take to reach the mosque. One step will remove one of his sins, the next will elevate his (spiritual) status. This means that every step will gain him rewards.
On another occasion, while explaining the importance of congregational prayers, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "shall I not tell you something with which Allah Almighty removes sins and elevates (spiritual) status." The companions (may Allah be pleased with them) who were ever ready to finding ways to please Allah, and to achieve His nearness and be detached from their sins, implored, "O Prophet of God, do tell." The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "by performing ablution properly despite not feeling up for it, and by setting off for the mosque from afar and by waiting for the next Salat after offering one." This keeps a person detached from sins. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Not only that, but this is kind of a frontier." Just like countries establish frontiers on their borders with other countries and appoint armed forces upon them. Why are such frontiers established? So that the country can be protected from others. And that the country's forces are momentarily available in case of confrontation. Thus the biggest threat to a believer is from Satan from which safety and frontier are required. The threat is from worldly desires that Satan generates. This is where Satan attacks from. In order to be protected from such attacks, the congregational prayers serve as a frontier. It is a battalion of guardians that will protect from such attacks. Congregational prayers will save believers from sins and will be incline them towards performing good deeds.
Similarly, according to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) congregational prayers rewards a believer 27 times more than a prayer offered alone.
The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) while explaining the importance of congregational prayers to the Jama'at says: "The rationale behind putting more reward in congregational prayers is that it creates unity. The instructions to practically implement unity are so particular that even the feet are required to be aligned." This means that while offering prayers in rows, feet should also be brought into line, for which heels must be aligned. He further says, "and the rows must be straight, and (worshippers) should be standing connected to each other. It means that they must act like one being." By standing in rows, they will turn into one being, meaning there will be a dynamism in them. "So that one's illuminations can permeate into others. The disparity that gives birth to ego and selfishness, does not last (in such setting)." It means regardless of being rich or poor, everyone will be standing in one row. Some people are egocentric or have selfishness in their hearts which is rooted out with congregational prayers. He said, "bear this in mind that human being have the capacity to absorb another person's illuminations." One may be influenced more by good deeds and achieve a higher status (of spirituality), through congregational prayers. Therefore, to accept the influence of piety, congregational prayers are essential. Thus with congregational prayers, on one hand, the unity is expressed that Allah wishes to create among His Community and on the other hand people get influenced by each other's good deeds. When in one row more pious and spiritually advanced people will be standing, they will have an effect on the weak ones. Consequently, the weak ones will also excel in performing good deeds and will advance spiritually. When this unity is emerged and when spirituality advances, then the satanic forces are weakened and diminished
In this age, Allah Almighty sent the true servant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who guided us towards attaining the real comprehension of prayers and worshipping. On one hand we claim that we have accepted the Holy Prophet's (peace be upon him) true slave, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi for the betterment of our spiritual condition and for the establishment of unity but on the other hand we have weaknesses in our deeds. Especially we have weakness in performing the most fundamental Islamic commandment, something that is the objective of our existence and is the minimum standard of attaining this objective. If this is the case, then how can we claim that for the advancement of our spirituality and in order to follow Allah's commandment and to obey Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) directive, we have accepted the Promised Messiah (peace be on him).
Even in Quran the obligation of 5 daily prayers has been mentioned at numerous places. Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) sayings about this that I have just mentioned are also self-explanatory. While it is given that offering Salat is obligatory on every Ahmadi, but along with that as per the Holy Prophet's (peace be upon him) instructions the congregational prayers are obligatory on every able Muslim man. But as we see, people do not pay attention towards it. And weakness in this matter can be noticed. No doubt that prayers are obligatory on all true believers and they themselves are responsible for it but we also have an established system in Jama'at. The Jama'at organization should also keep reminding people about congregational prayers. I keep drawing attention of the Jama'at towards this subject in my sermons in one way or the other. But this is the responsibility of missionaries and the organization to take it from there and disseminate my instructions to draw people's attention towards it. They should convey the message of the importance of congregational prayer over and over again to each member of Jama'at. In reality, we will only be able to fulfill the duty of being an Ahmadi when while safeguarding our prayers we are able to attain spiritual pleasure from them. When we start achieving spiritual pleasure and delight from our prayers then we will automatically be inclined towards offering them. So every Ahmadi must offer prayers in a manner that facilitates attaining spiritual pleasure and delight.
While drawing our attention towards offering Salat, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) explained how this pleasure from prayers can be attained, he said: "I notice that when an addict and alcoholic doesn't get intoxicated, he keeps on drinking. So much so that he gets drunk. A wise and shrewd person can take advantage from this example." This means that a wise person can benefit from this example in order to advance in spirituality. The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) continues, "He can do so by being steadfast and punctual in prayers and by never abandoning them. He should keep offering prayers, until he attains pleasure. The way an alcoholic has a presumed pleasure in his mind which he is bent upon achieving." When an alcoholic person drinks, he has a set standard of pleasure he wants to achieve.. Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says "just like an alcoholic achieves a standard of his intoxication, a spiritual man, a true believer should also set a spiritual standard that he must achieve." So this is how if a person keeps trying with consistency, only then he can attain pleasure from Salat. Promised Messiah (peace be on him)) says, "Just like this, the mind and all physical power are inclined towards achieving pleasure in Salat." A worshipper when offering prayers should engage all his efforts and physical and perceptual strengths towards achieving the goal of attaining pleasure in Salat. This requires a stronger will power. Only then consistency can be achieved. Promised Messiah (peace be on him) further says, "then with sincerity and passion, at least to the extent of the restlessness and pain of that alcoholic, a person indulging in prayers will definitely attain pleasure. After this there will be constant pain and anxiety, aching and restlessness to achieve pleasure in prayers." While praying if that person expresses his pain before Allah, then Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says, "he will definitely achieve that pleasure." So the effort of attaining pleasure in Salat with determination, can at last soften the heart and gives pleasure.
The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) also explained that "Allah Almighty says that Salat keeps a person away from evil deeds." Despite that we notice and some questions are raised that people still engage in foul behavior even though they offer prayers. According to the Promised Messiah (peace be on him), the answer to this is, "they don't offer prayers with spirit and truthfulness. Instead, they just perform physical actions as a custom or as a habit." So we should always remember that since Allah says that prayers save us from foul deeds then it must be true. Allah's word can not be false. Those who still do evil deeds despite offering prayers, their prayers are superficial, they do not understand the spirit of prayers. Thus this is an extremely concerning issue. Each one of us should examine our (spiritual) conditions.
If we achieve pleasure and delight from our prayers, or we are set to achieve it with full conviction then how is it possible that any one of is not punctual in prayers. Everyone gets a taste of this pleasure once in a while and it must have happened to all of us. When people go through hardships and adversities, we see that they cry and sob in their prayers. Even while carrying out their daily tasks they pray to Allah and are always inclined towards Him. Due to this, they are mindful of offering prayers as well. They must have certain feelings of suffering in their hearts due to which they are consistently engaged in prayers. But when their desires are fulfilled and they are out of woods then there are many who become sluggish in their prayers and in their humble pleadings to Allah. Thus as The Promised Messiah (may peace be on him) has instructed us we should always and with utmost effort keep this target before us that regardless of the situation, in hardships or prosperity, we should keep trying for such pleasure and delight in prayers that can make us intoxicated. Not only our personal matters, but a true believer should also feel the pain of the present-day societal affairs. When a person is in such condition of pain and agony it leads him to beseeching prayers.
In Pakistan, for example, the Jama'at is going through adverse times. The arrows of hatefulness are being shot at every member of Jama'at. Animosity and antagonism against Ahmadis is being openly expressed. Our longstanding non-Ahmadi friends are also increasing in their animosity against us due to the fear or the misunderstandings created by the religious scholars against us. Also, generally speaking, oppression has crossed its limits. In Pakistan, Ahmadis should not only offer Salat that achieves them pleasure and delight but they should try to populate their mosques as well.
A few days ago, I received a report from Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya Pakistan containing the implemented Shura proposals. In which they reported how well they did in implementing various moral training proposals. It is a very good thing as it shows their progress. Among these moral training implementations, one was that attention of several thousand Khuddam has been drawn towards listening to my Friday sermons. However, the matter of grave concern is that those who pray in congregation are only 1/3rd or a little more in number than those who listen to the Friday sermon. Similarly, those who offer prayers regularly are also far less than those who listen to the Friday sermon. What is the use of listening to the Friday sermons then, if our attention is still not drawn towards God and towards that fundamental obligation which is of utmost importance? Every few weeks I discuss offering of Salat and importance of offering congregational prayers in my sermons. If there is no impact of these sermons, then there is no use of mere statistics. Even after such adverse condition of Ahmadis in Pakistan, their attention is not drawn towards God, then when will it happen. Do we want to test Allah (God forbid)? That we will stay the same and its God's responsibility to resolve our situation. If this is how our feelings are then we don't have any right to complain to Allah. Nowhere, has Allah Almighty said that you may do as you wish, regardless of whether you fulfil my rights or not, because you have accepted the Promised Messiah (may peace be on him), therefore, I will make you succeed. To achieve success, there is a need to shape oneself according to Allah's likeness. I have mentioned Khuddam's report which does not mean that only they have this weakness. Ansar have the similar issues. So Pakistan's every Ahmadi should pay attention towards it. Accomplishments can not be achieved through lethargy; accomplishments cannot be achieved through carelessness. Accomplishments will be achieved by alert and vigilant guards (like swift horses) on frontiers. Accomplishments will be achieved by establishing frontiers on the borders.
Those Pakistani Ahmadis who have migrated to other countries including both the developed countries and the rest of the world, depict the same picture. We cannot say that they have become very punctual in prayers after their migration. Many weaknesses about prayers can be found through Jama'ats' evaluation reports. If every auxiliary organization present in all countries of the world evaluates themselves without a bias, the results will be self-explanatory. On the contrary those who have left Pakistan, should be more mindful of such matters because of the blessings of Allah Almighty upon them. They need to be grateful of those blessings. In some Jama'ats, there is favorable presence in congregational prayers. But still, some people are always missing out on a prayer or two. There are several such members who sometimes don't offer a couple of prayers here and there. Sometimes the reason is that organization of Jama'at is not drawing their attention towards this matter. And that the organization has other preferences. Firstly, not everyone listens to my sermons. To conclude that 100% members listen to the Friday Sermon is wrong. And even if they listen, the responsibility still lies with the organization to constantly remind. The very reason behind establishing a system is to give attention to moral training. A few days ago, I had a meeting with a local Majlise Aamla. The President told me that ever since he has taken the position, he has given a lot of attention to financial matters. And now they are excelling in it very rapidly. So I said that this effort is well and good. But when I enquired what have they done for Salat, which is a fundamental and obligatory commandment for Muslims, he remained silent. Although, when I enquired about presence at Fajr and Isha, the numbers that came up were promising. However, it wasn't due to the organizational efforts. If we have such worshippers who say prayers full of pleasure and delight, then financial system will be improved by itself. Because as a person's standard of righteousness rises, he gives more attention to financial sacrifice. Not only this but the issues involving Internal Affairs and Qaza will be resolved to a great extent. And rest of the departments will become active too provided everyone offers their prayers properly.
These days, not only Pakistan but generally the world affairs are such that the danger of war and destruction are becoming more and more inevitable. Governments have also started to express their concerns about it and to some extent they have started taking steps towards it. In such a state, it is only the refuge of Allah Almighty that can save us. Several people ask what will happen if the war started. How should we proceed? My only response is that if you want to be saved from such calamities then as the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) said, we will have to fall in love with the God who is Master of All Affairs. And there is only one way to show such love that we try to attain pleasure and delight by shaping our prayers according to His desires. People often forget God after experiencing prosperity in the Western countries. In their views, they have achieved prosperity because of the development of these countries. They think that these people (westerners) are so developed without any prayers and good deeds. Some of them also think that they are at least better than them as they offer two or three prayers at the very least. We should bear in mind that agony is destined for those who forget God. Therefore, do not follow those people. If we want to be saved from Allah's seizure and want to save our future generation, let us not look at these people's outwardly condition. Follow the Quranic teachings that Allah desires from us. After the commandment of belief in Allah, Allah Almighty has commanded us to establish Salat. So every Ahmadi man and woman should pay attention towards offering Salat and Ahmadi men should specifically pay attention to offering congregational prayers.
In this day and age, Promise Messiah (peace be on him) has explained in detail the importance of prayers, the method of saying prayer and its philosophy. By the sheer Grace of God, Allah Almighty enabled us to accept him as the Promised Messiah (peace be on him). However, despite believing in him we do not follow the fundamental commandments and are following the example of non-Ahmad Muslims who consider offering a couple of prayers to be sufficient. Then there is no use of this pledge of allegiance. In terms of prayers, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) wants to see us at a high status. He has explained it to us in so many different ways. I will quote some of his sayings regarding this matter. A believer declares Unity of Allah by uttering "there is no god save Allah." Promised Messiah (peace be on him) explains what is Unity? "Bear this in mind and remember this again that to bend before anyone save Allah is akin to cutting ties with Allah. Salat and Unity could be anything because the name of Unity's practical manifestation is Salat, it is devoid of blessings and is useless when it does not carry the spirit of self-negation and humility and a heart that is inclined towards God. Listen, for the (acceptance of) prayer "Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer," (40:61) a truthful soul is required. If the soul is devoid of humility and humbleness, then saying such prayers are not less than parrot-fashion." The need is to produce the true spirit. Humility, humbleness and lowliness should be practiced. As I have said earlier Allah Almighty accepts prayers if there is humility in them. Then the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) explained that different positions of Salat such and standing, sitting, bending and prostrating, display restlessness. Just like in restlessness, a person keeps changing positions such as standing, sitting and bending and prostrating. And because of the outwardly condition of restlessness, the heart should feel pain and anxiety. And when this anxiety is achieved in all positions then pleasure will also be attained while standing, sitting, bending and prostrating.
Moreover, about the status of submissiveness and true humility and about the Salat that burns the sins, the Promised Messiah (may peace be on him) says, "when a person's soul becomes fully self-negated then it flows towards God like a fountain." It can only flow in the presence of humility. The Promised Messiah (may peace be on him) continues, "And the soul cuts itself from everyone save Allah. At that time, the love of God descends upon it." When a person breaks ties with everyone except Allah by making an effort and by beseeching His blessings, then Allah descends His love upon him. And when such love of Allah Almighty descends upon a person then according to the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) his sins burn into ashes. After this the pleasure in Salat is permanently achieved. Thus, instead of complaining or thinking that our prayers do not give us pleasure, we need to try to establish this special relationship with God. We need to analyze our conditions whether we are merely performing actions or are fulfilling the requisites of true Salat..
Additionally, about the methods of achieving light (noor) and pleasure in Salat, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) further explains: "establishment of Salat and its punctuality are very important. So that it turns into an unbreakable habit and the thought of turning towards Allah becomes prevalent. After this the the time gradually comes when a person inherits light and pleasure in complete isolation." The person is cut off from worldly ties and turns towards Allah and then he finds pleasure and delight in prayers. So firstly the habit of Salat and making oneself regular in Salat is essential. Regardless of whether, the person finds them outwardly beneficial or not. But he still offers them because they are obligatory. This habit is essential understanding that he has to turn to God only in one way or the other for every need. If this determination prevails then a time will come when the rights of offering Salat will also be fulfilled and pleasure will also be achieved in Salat. After this, upon enquiring about Salat, the answer will not be that I try to offer Salat but I get lazy. The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) once said, "laziness only occurs when a person does not know the importance of Salat and he gives more importance to someone other than Allah. If he has complete faith in Allah, then how is it possible that he displays laziness."
Therefore, to save yourself and your generations from adverse effects of current events unfolding in the world today, it is of utmost importance to bow before God with ultimate sincerity. The best way of bowing is taught by Allah and his Prophet (peace be upon him) and in this age the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) that we pay attention towards establishing and safeguarding our Salat. Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says: "bear in mind that by entering in this community, worldly desires should not be your objective. Instead, Allah's pleasure should be your objective. Because this world is a place to pass through and we will all pass through one by one..According to a Persian saying, night is bound to pass whether it is cold or hot." It means that any situation passes regardless of it being good or bad. The Promised Messiah (may peace be on him) said, "Keep the worldly desires completely separate. Do not mingle them with religion. Because this world is mortal and religion and its fruits are eternal. The worldly life is very short. You see that thousands die every minute and every moment. Various diseases and epidemics calamities are affecting this world. Sometimes back it was diarrhea that destroyed people and now it is plague that is annihilating the world. Who knows for how long we will live. When we do not know when death will overtake us, it is a grave error to stay unconscious of God. Therefore, it is imperative that a person be concerned about the hereafter. A person who will be anxious about the hereafter, Allah Almighty will help him in this world. Allah Almighty has promised that when a person becomes a real believer, He differentiates between him and others. Therefore, first become a believer which is only possible by not mingling worldly affairs with the true objectives of pledge of allegiance that are based on righteousness and compassion. Be punctual in prayers and stayed engaged in feeling remorse for your actions and seeking forgiveness from Allah. Defend the rights of human race. And do not cause harm to anyone. Advance in truthfulness and purity. Then Allah Almighty will bless you in every way. Advise your women at home as well that they are punctual in prayers and stop them from malice, complaints and backbiting. Teach them purity and truthfulness. I can only advise you, it is now incumbent upon you to act upon it." In order to make, others and women and kids understand we will first have to set examples of purity and truthfulness by ourselves. He further said, "Pray in your daily prayers five times a day. It is not forbidden to pray for your needs in your own language. Salat cannot be pleasurable unless there is special attentiveness in it. And the special attentiveness of heart is not achieved until there is humility. Humility is achieved when a person understands what he says. Therefore passion and humility can be created by imploring in your own language. But one must not obtain from this that Salat can be offered in ones own language. No, what I mean is that after the conventional prayers) and supplications (of Quran and Prophet Muhammad's, do pray in your own language too. Allah has kept a special blessings in the traditional words of Salat. Salat is another name of prayers. Therefore, pray in Salat that He may save you from the calamities of this world and of the hereafter and your end is blessed and all your tasks are accomplished according to His desires. Pray for your wives and children too. Become a pious person and keep away from all sorts of evils."
May Allah enable us to protect ourSalat. May He enable us to be punctual in them. May Allah enable us to offer our Salat with utmost sincerity in order to achieve Allah's pleasure. May Allah creates pleasure and delight in our Salat. May we never show sluggishness in our prayers. May we understand the truth that we can only be salvaged from today's calamities and catastrophes when we are able to fulfil the obligation of submitting to Allah. May Allah enable us to do so.