The blessed month of Ramadan came and has already swiftly passed by. Despite the long days and intense heat – particularly this time round, even here hottest temperatures were recorded - and majority of the people or at least those of them, who met with me, expressed that they did not feel the fasting that much or that despite the severe weather, they felt it relatively less. However, this alone is not enough, we should rather evaluate ourselves and see as to what we have achieved during these blessed days of Allah the Almighty.
In these days, this month of Ramadan, Allah the Almighty descends from the seventh Heaven to the lower Heaven. Allah the Almighty, in these days, listens to the supplications of His servants by coming closer to them. In these days, Allah the Almighty Himself, becomes the reward for those who fast. In these days, Allah the Almighty shackles satan. What have we done to benefit from these acts of Grace and Mercy of Allah the Almighty? Or what resolutions have we made? What promises have we made in order to follow the commandments of Allah the Almighty, to live by His teaching and to forsake previous shortcomings and to what extent have we brought upon changes in ourselves?
In fact, Ramadan is like a training camp. Ramadan has been prescribed so that you can increase in the good deeds that you are already acting upon. Every Ramadan that concludes, should have elevated us to new levels of worship and righteous deeds. Then we should become those who establish new and high standards of worship and righteous deeds. Allah the Almighty states: Watch over Prayers, and particularly the middle Prayer. Allah the Almighty is aware of man's nature and thus He has placed particular emphasis on the middle prayer. Salat-ul-Wusta means the middle prayer or the most important prayer i.e. such a time when the significance of that prayer increases. The reason is because during certain times of the prayers man gives preference to his personal work or for the fulfilment of worldly desires. Some people find it difficult to offer the Fajr [morning] prayer therefore to wake up in the morning to offer the Fajr prayer. Some owing to their work or business find it difficult to offer the Zuhr or Asr prayer and so the importance of that particular prayer increases...
Allah the Almighty has drawn our attention towards prayer through various references and has not restricted this to the month of Ramadan only. Regarding the prayers, Friday Prayers and Ramadan, the Holy Prophet (sa) has given an instruction which a believer and one who has the fear of Allah the Almighty in the heart should always bear in mind. The Holy Prophet (sa) stated: 'The five daily prayers, from one Friday prayer to the next Friday prayer and one Ramadan to the next Ramadan are an expiation for the sins committed between them, so long as one refrains from committing any major sins.' However, one should not infer from this that they are permitted to commit the lesser sins and that Allah the Almighty will forgive them. Rather, it means the errors which are committed due to human weaknesses but the observance of prayers, regularly offering the Friday Prayers and seeking repentance for sins and also pledging that one shall not commit that sin again, then Allah the Almighty forgives them.
Regarding the importance of regularly observing the Friday Prayers, the Holy Prophet (sa) stated: 'Whoever intentionally does not attend three consecutive Friday Prayers, Allah the Almighty sets a seal on their hearts.' Allah the Almighty states: 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. Thus, this is a commandment for every believer and one who proclaims his belief [in God] that he should make special arrangements for the Friday Prayers and should leave off all other work and business. Regarding those who attend the Friday Prayer on time and regularly, the Holy Prophet (sa) stated: 'On Fridays the angels are stood at every door of the mosque. They register the name of the first person who enters the mosque and continue to write the names of people who enter until the Imam sits down after delivering the Friday Sermon after which they close their registers and remain occupied in listening to the remembrance of God.'
In another tradition, the Holy Prophet (sa) states: 'On the Day of Judgment, people will be sat before God Almighty in the order according to their attendance of the Friday Prayers' i.e. first, second, third, fourth, etc. Therefore, those who habitually come late to the Friday Prayer, they too need to pay attention to this. mosque. Regarding this the instruction of the Holy Prophet (sa) is very clear. The Holy Prophet (sa) stated: 'To offer the Friday Prayer in congregation is obligatory upon the Muslims, except for four types of people: slaves, women, children and those who are ill.'
Discoursing on forgiveness of sins in the interval between two Ramadans, the Holy Prophet (sa) says: Allah the Almighty forgives our minor sins in between Ramadans. Here, the Holy Prophet (sa) explains the ways to attain this forgiveness in a sequence. First there is Prayer, then Friday Prayer and then Ramadan. One who prays five times a day will bring him or herself closer to Allah the Almighty and these prayers will testify that 'Your servant presents himself before You out of fear and love, five times a day in prayer to attain forgiveness from major sins.' Then every Friday will bear testimony that 'After desisting from major sins for seven days, Your servant enters the day of Friday - which Your beloved Prophet (sa) said that it contains a time when prayers are accepted – and thus he presents himself before You while longing for the acceptance of prayer.' The month of Ramadan will testify, 'O Lord! Your servant enters Ramadan fulfilling its right, whilst desisting from sins and performing pious deeds, in the hope that the Lord will bestow on His servant the blessings of the ten days of mercy, forgiveness and attaining refuge from the hellfire.'
Furthermore, particular attention is developed in Ramadan towards reading and listening to the Holy Quran. Where Allah the Almighty draws our attention to the importance of prayers and the different prayer times, there He also says: 'and the recitation of the Qur'an in Prayer at dawn. Verily, the recitation of the Qur'an at dawn is specially acceptable to God.' When reading the Holy Quran it is necessary to also consult the translation of the Quran so that it can be understood. This will enable us to grasp the commandments of Allah the Almighty. Reading the Holy Quran regularly is especially important in this day and age when those who call themselves Muslims have forgotten its teachings.
The Promised Messiah (as) further draws our attention by saying: 'Those who honour the Holy Quran will be honoured in the heavens.'
Always keep this importance of the Holy Quran in view and then never allow slackness in reciting the Quran to creep in. Similarly, the attention you have developed towards engaging in remembrance of Allah will only benefit you when you sustain this practice after Ramadan also.
Other virtues and morals should also be adopted. We, Ahmadis, are fortunate that Allah the Almighty has enabled us to accept the Bai'at (pledge of allegiance) of the Promised Messiah (as). The Promised Messiah (as) has repeatedly stated that those who have entered his Bai'at should constantly seek to reform themselves through worship and displaying the highest moral standards. At one place the Promised Messiah (as) says:
'A person is not worthy of the help and support of Allah the Almighty unless, with all sincerity and devotion of his heart, he closes the door to all wrongful paths and eliminates all inappropriate and impure desires and then spreads his hands before Allah the Almighty. .. From the heavens, Allah the Almighty sees right through every part of man's heart. If any part of man's heart contains darkness, Shirk or harmful innovations, such a person's prayers to Allah are thrown back onto his face. If Allah observe that one's heart is pure of any type of carnal desires and darkness, He opens the doors of mercy to him, …and takes responsibility for his nurturing and protection.'
Whilst expanding on this, the Promised Messiah (as) states: "Your hearts should be free from deceit, your hands should not commit any atrocities, your eyes should be untainted with filth. Aside from guidance and sympathy for mankind one should not harbour anything inside them.'' The Promised Messiah (as) continues by saying: "If you fashion yourself according to that what God states, then rest assured that God too will be yours. God Almighty shall remain awake for you as you sleep. God shall watch over your enemy and frustrate their designs, while you are unmindful of him."
Thus, it is vital to be mindful of these directives. One such aspect that the Promised Messiah (as) reminded us constantly was that if we are not mindful of these commands, then simply performing the Bai'at [oath of allegiance] is not enough. The Promised Messiah (as) states: "You, therefore, will not be accepted by God unless you are the same inside and out. If you are above others, have mercy on the lowly and do not look down upon them. If you are learned, counsel the ignorant and do not degrade them with disdain. If you are wealthy, serve the poor, and do not treat them with arrogance and self-conceit". If God Almighty has blessed you with provisions and a position of authority, one should use that to help people, rather than showing arrogance.
The Promised Messiah (as) states: "Let every morning bear witness that you have spent the night in righteousness, and let every evening bear witness that you have spent the day with the fear of God. Be not afraid of the curses of the world, for they shall vanish before your eyes like smoke and cannot turn day into night. Fear instead the curse of God which descends from heaven and uproots its victims in both worlds.'
The Promised Messiah further states: 'You cannot save yourselves with hypocrisy, your God is He who sees the innermost depth of man. Can you then deceive Him? So, become straightforward, clean, pure and truthful. If even a particle of darkness is left within you, it will dispel all your light. ... Be careful, lest a few accomplishments delude you to think that you have sufficiently fulfilled your purpose. For God desires a complete transformation in your being…" . The Promised Messiah (as) continues: "…If you desire that God should be pleased with you in heaven, unite with one another as though you were brothers from the same womb. The one who most forgives the transgressions of his brother is the more honourable among you. .. One who is arrogant cannot attain nearness to God. A wrongdoer cannot attain nearness to God. He who is unfaithful cannot attain nearness to God. Every such person who is not jealously protective for the sake of God's name cannot attain His nearness."
The Promised Messiah (as) states: "Every impure eye is far from Him; every impure heart is unaware of Him. … Befriend God with a true heart, full sincerity and complete eagerness, so that He too may befriend you. Have mercy on your subordinates and your wives and your less fortunate brethren so that you too may be shown mercy in heaven. Become truly His, so that He too may become yours. .. No calamity visits the earth until there is a command from heaven, and no affliction is alleviated until mercy descends from heaven. So, you would be wise to take hold of the root rather than the branch."
Thus, every single one of us should conclude their Ramadan by vowing to always remember the directives of God Almighty and the Holy Prophet (sa) – which were elaborated by the Promised Messiah (as) – and then endeavour to adopt those in our lives. If we do this only then can we say that we strived to spend Ramadan according to the commands of God Almighty and Holy Prophet (sa). May Allah enable us to do so.
After the prayer, I shall lead two funeral prayers in absentia. The first is of Mushtaq Zuhra Sahiba, wife of the late Chaudhary Zahoor Ahmad Sahib Bajwa. She passed away at 8:45pm at night on 12th June in Rabwah, at the age of 91. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. God Almighty blessed the deceased with 3 sons and 2 daughters. One son, Zaheer Bajwa Sahib of America is a life-devotee. Chaudhary Zahoor Ahmad Bajwa Sahib served as a missionary in England. Mushtaq Zuhra Sahiba spent her time with her life-devotee husband in an exceptional manner and she never made such requests which would trouble a life-devotee. Then between 1951 and 1955 his wife, along with Zahoor Bajwa Sahib stayed here in England. In those days, the situation of missionaries and the community was such, financially in particular, that they had to go through challenging times, yet they never complained and endured thus without any complaint. Then Haneef Mahmood Shaib writes that "in 1955 Chaudhary Zahoor Bajwa Sahib was given the order to return from London to the centre [Rabwah, Pakistan]. In those days, his wife was very sick and the doctors advised for complete bed rest but when the order to return came, Chaudhary Sahib and his wife began making preparations to return. She had no complaints despite her illness and also the fact that travel in those days was difficult. May Allah shower forgiveness and mercy on the deceased and elevate her status and enable her children to continue her good deeds. Ameen.
The second funeral is of Abdu Bakr Sahib of Egypt. He passed away on 12th June at the age of 41 due to a heart attack. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. He was a professor of Arabic and religious knowledge but he left his work and devoted his life in order to serve the community. Mentioning his own oath of allegiance, the deceased mentioned an incident "I was watching a program in which I saw the late Mustafa Thabit Sahib. He was mentioning the fact that Jesus did not die on the cross but fell into a swoon. Then he migrated to the east and died a natural death. At that time, I was sitting reclined when watching the TV. When I heard this I sat up straight and began listening to it with full attention." (This was the Al-Hiwarul-Mubashar program.) "When the truth became clear to me I shouted out loudly 'Allahu Akbar! [God is Great] and 3 days later God Almighty clarified for me the mystery of the death of Jesus, salvation from the cross and the migration." After his pledge of allegiance, the deceased was thrown out by his work colleagues, his fellow villagers, his friends and relatives and all who knew him put him in severe hardship yet he never wavered from the truth. Rather he grew stronger in his faith day by day and continued to be granted perseverance. Along with his widowed wife he leaves behind a four year-old daughter, Zainab and a two year-old son, Muhammad. By the grace of Allah his son is part of the Waqf-e-Nau scheme. May Allah have forgiveness and mercy on the deceased and elevate his status. May He take full care of his wife and children and enable them to continue his good deeds.