Gatherings of many various kinds exist in the world or one can say that various gatherings pursue diverse goals such as consultations to achieve worldly goals, running of a government or about academia, business, sports and recreation. These gatherings are not meant for God Almighty, for His pleasure or to attain His nearness. Their purpose is not attaining the pleasure of God Almighty. However, there are some gatherings or assemblies, which serve the purposes of the faith, which are meant for devising plans to bring mankind closer to Allah the Almighty and to seek the pleasure of Allah the Almighty.
All gathering of believers, at home, work and the mosque should have the primary purpose of seeking the pleasure of God Almighty, improving spirituality and moral development. Even a seemingly 'worldly' sitting of a believer is not void of the remembrance of Allah the Almighty. Even, while performing worldly task, he refrains from all that is vain. Even if he is preoccupied with worldly tasks, he does not fail to remember God Almighty. Even in the sittings, related to worldly affairs, a believer does not speak of deceiving or usurping the rights of others, even though he may be occupied with worldly tasks. This is exactly what is expected from a believer.
Allah the Almighty states: 'O ye who believe! when you confer together in secret, confer not for the commission of sin and transgression and disobedience to the Messenger, but confer for the attainment of virtue and righteousness, and fear Allah unto Whom you shall all be gathered.'
God Almighty says, "Fear Allah, unto Whom you shall all be gathered." On day, the world that you are chasing will escape your hands and you have already forsaken religion, you will lose everything. One of the gatherings for the consultation on worldly matters is that of the UNO. Its meeting was held in the recent days and The President of America delivered a speech. The western analysts and columnists here also wrote with regards to it stating that instead of developing peace, the speech was more prone to incite disorder and chaos. However, Muslim governments must reflect on the commands of Allah the Almighty and should refrain from every kind of disorder and chaos.
Nevertheless, we must reflect upon and assess our own conditions also and always remember that Satan will never tolerate to see the Jama'at progress. Satan, according to his nature, will continue his endeavours to divide us. Thus, do not play in the hands of people who slyly criticise the Nizam-e-Jama'at i.e. administrative system of the Jama'at in private gatherings pretending to be voicing their opinions out of his sympathy for the Jama'at. The correct procedure is that they should bring their concerns to the attention of the higher administrative system of the country and to the Khalifa of the time. Criticising the system of the Jama'at in this manner is a sign of sin, rebellion, disobedience to the Holy Prophet (sa) and being far from righteousness. Thus, Allah the Almighty has also cautioned believers from partaking in such gatherings. Every Ahmadi should fervently supplicate that Allah the Almighty removes every evil aspect from the Jama'at and that He continues to bless the Jama'at with people, who tread on the path of righteousness and fulfil their duties with righteousness.
Thus, everyone should remember this important matter. May Allah the Almighty protect the Jama'at from every kind of disorder, whether internal or external. May He enable us to always partake in gatherings of virtue and righteousness, rather than gatherings of sin, rebellion, disobedience to the Holy Prophet(saw) and those that lead away from righteousness.
Mentioning the nature of the gathering of a believer and what his response should be if its standard is not befitting a believer, the Promised Messiah (as) says, "We believe, which should also be the practice of a believer, that if a person speaks then he should so clearly and openly. Otherwise, he should remain silent. If you observe that Allah and His messenger are being mocked in a gathering, you should leave that gathering lest you be counted among them. Or you should openly reply to them." The Promised Messiah (as) says "The third option is hypocrisy, whereby one sits in a gathering and agrees with the other person and though expresses his own view but only subtly."
So, if a believer hears someone talk about the Jama'at in a negative manner, highlighting some perceived weaknesses, he should tell those who say such things that "If you consider all these things to be true then you should inform the Khalifa of the time and the administration of the Jama'at but it is not permissible to talk [openly] in this manner. The Holy Prophet (sa) says 'You should attend the gatherings of such people that when you see them it reminds you of God Almighty, and their discussion increases you in religious knowledge and whose deeds remind you of the Day of Judgement." Hence this is the guiding principal which a believer should keep in mind whilst selecting the type of gathering to sit in. One should prefer gatherings where God Almighty is being remembered and discussions about the magnificence of Allah Almighty's religion are taking place.
There is another type of gathering that members of the youth are involved in. They attend such gatherings on the basis of simply having fun and for their leisure activity which have a negative influence on their behavior. There are also some cases within the Jama'at where due to bad company and the influence of immoral gatherings have caused some of our young members, who upon entering their youthful years, commit such activities which become a source of disgrace for the Jama'at when people find out that the culprit is a member of the [Ahmadiyya] community. Therefore, parents should be watchful of their children's social circle and friendships to safeguard our youth members from being in bad company. We should hold such pure gatherings in our homes that are best in terms of moral training.
On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (sa) said "When a group of people are sitting in the mosque for the recitation of the Holy Qur'an and for the purposes of education and learning, then Allah Almighty bestows tranquility upon them and they are covered by His Mercy and angels take them under their wing." It is the sheer Grace of Allah Almighty that wherever the Jama'at is established in the world it has the opportunity to organise gatherings such as Jalsas and Ijtemas. The purpose of such events are for moral training as well as to increase knowledge and to remember Allah Almighty and pray to Him. Those attending these events, should engage in constructive conversations and should always abstain from vain discourses and not waste their time.
On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (sa) said that people who sit in gatherings in which there is no remembrance of God Almighty, will on the Day of Judgement regret those gatherings. In the world, today we meet and have to interact with a number of different people including non-Muslims. However, one's close circle of friends, the people one spends most of their time with should be those who have firm faith and adhere to righteousness, so that particular individual can also increase in righteousness and piety.
The Promised Messiah (as) continues by saying: "[God Almighty] first states: 'O Ye who believe! Fear Allah'. This means that in the first instance one should profess belief and then after this, one should abandon sinful practices and keep in the company of the truthful. The company one keeps has a deep underlying effect on that individual's personality." The Promised Messiah (as) then says: "For example, if one regularly visits places where alcohol is consumed, no matter how much they abstain from it, eventually they will end up drinking alcohol."
Whilst further explaining the impact ones friendship and company has on an individual, the Promised Messiah (as) says: "When an individual sits in the company of one who is pious and truthful, then that individual partakes of that truthfulness. However, if one abandons the company of the pious and instead associates with the sinful and wicked, then that individual is influenced by evil thoughts. This is why the Holy Quran and Ahadith have stressed on the fact that one should abstain from the company of the evil and immoral. It is emphasised that if God Almighty or the [Holy] Prophet (sa) is being ridiculed in a certain gathering, then one should immediately leave such gatherings. Otherwise, they will also be counted amongst those who are guilty of blasphemy."
The Promised Messiah (as) states: "When one prays to abstain from sin, at the same time one should never forsake the measures required to achieve this. You should eschew every assembly and gathering that incites one to commit sin and also pray in this regard. Behold! Unless one has the succour of God Almighty, one can never evade those trials that are destined for him.
In other words, it is only God Almighty Who has the remedy to cure sin. Therefore, one should prostrate before Him and seek His help so that He always protects one from the evil influences of this world and the influences of evil gatherings. The Holy Prophet (sa) would recite the following prayer when leaving a gathering: 'O Allah! Holy is Thou and I swear in the name of Thine prayers that there is none worthy of worship except thee. I seek Thy forgiveness and turn towards Thee.'
Thus, this prayer protects one from the ill effects from any improper statement that is uttered and enables one to derive maximum benefit from the holy gatherings. May Allah the Almighty always protect us from the onslaughts of Satan and treat us with His mercy and forgiveness. May He always keep us attached with Khilafat and the Nizam-e-Jama'at [administrative structure of the Jama'at]. May He protect us from the evil of every mischief maker.
After the prayers, I shall offer a funeral prayer in absentia for one of our African Ahmadis, respected Bilal Abdus Salam Sahib. He lived in Philadelphia, USA and passed away on 13th September – To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. 'He was a very active member of the Jama'at in America. He was extremely kind, friendly and a loving person. He would always help others and would always be at the forefront in Jama'at activities. He was extremely devoted in his attachment with Khilafat. Whenever he would meet me, he would have a very distinctive smile on his face and his sincerity and devotion was evident from his eyes. May Allah the Almighty elevate his status and grant him forgiveness and enable the rest of his family members to also accept Ahmadiyyat.