Allah states to the believers that "Your goal must always be fastabiqul khairaat!" It means that you must always endeavour to lead others in good works. Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has also referred to those, who perform righteous deeds and do good works as "best of creatures" as it is stated:
"Verily, those who believe and do good works — they are the best of creatures." (98:8)
The Promised Messiah (as) has, in light of the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith, expounded this matter in great detail for our guidance. For instance, what is virtue? How can one achieve true virtue? Why is it necessary to believe in God Almighty in order to [be able to] perform good deeds? What should be the standard of one's belief? How can we enhance the standard of this belief? What are the means for doing righteous deeds? What are the various aspects of virtue? How many kinds of righteous deeds are there? How does Allah the Exalted reward those who perform righteous deeds? He has also stated that it is [a requirement of] virtue to perform even lawful deeds in moderation. If one transgresses it, it will lessen the virtue. Now, I will present some excerpts by the Promised Messiah (as).
Elucidating as to what the nature of virtue is and explaining that even an apparently minor good deed can make one worthy of the pleasure of Allah the Exalted, he states: "A righteous deed is a ladder to rise towards Islam and God. The reality of a good deed needs to be borne in mind." … Satan misleads people in every way and leads them astray from the path of Truth. The Promised Messiah (as) gave the example of a self-indulgent person, who chooses to donate left over bread to a hungry person, despite having freshly prepared meal to hand. This does not comply with the Divine commandment that Allah the Exalted says: And they feed, for love of Him, the poor, the orphan, and the prisoner. He did not feed poor from what was Tuam (means desirable food) for him, but from the left-overs.' This is not a true act of virtue. To attain a true act of virtue demands a lot of self-reflection and endeavour. True virtue cannot be acquired without having absolute faith in God Almighty. Tre virtue is attained when one develops a faith in God Almighty as All-Seeing, Who is totally aware of everything and possesses knowledge of the unseen. The Promised Messiah (as) said, 'Thus, in order to reform one's morals it necessary to have faith in a Being, Who is ever watchful over him, his actions, his deeds and Who is a Witness for the secrets of his hearts. Thus, this is none but the Being of God the Exalted.' Hence, only if a person has faith of this standard and is ever mindful of God Almighty will he be able to truly act virtuously.
Then, further elaborating true virtue, the Promised Messiah (as) says, 'Righteousness means to abstain from the subtle paths of evil. …Rather, true virtue is to serve mankind and demonstrate absolute truthfulness and loyalty in the cause of Allah the Exalted and to be ready to sacrifice one's life in His cause. For this reason Allah the Exalted has stated here: That is, verily Allah is with those who are righteous and those who do good.' The Promised Messiah (as) said, 'Remember full well that merely abstaining from evil is not a virtue (to say that I abstain from evil and am very pious is not an act of virtue), until he does not act virtuously alongside it.'
The Promised Messiah (as) further said, 'In the sight of Allah the Exalted, Islam is not the name of refraining from vices. Rather, until a person does not adopt virtues, whilst abstaining from vices, he will not be able to survive in this spiritual realm. The truth of Islamic teachings is to increase and improve one's spirituality.' The Promised Messiah (as) said, 'Virtues are like food. In the same manner a person cannot exist without food, he will seize to exist until he adopts virtues. This state is acquired by increasing in faith'.
What should be the standard of one's faith in God? This standard can only be acquired when the outer and inner state of a person is one.' Furthermore, similar to a person being certain that if he places his hand in the burrow of a snake, the snake can bite him if it is in the hole, in the same way, one should have faith in the Being of Allah the Exalted that if I commit evils, Allah the Exalted is always watching me and I will be punished. One should always be mindful of the fact that God the Exalted is watching every deed of mine. The Promised Messiah (as) says, 'In fact, pious is he, whose outer and inner state is one and whose heart and outer appearance is one. He walks on the earth in similitude to an angel.' The Promised Messiah (as) states, 'All good results come about through faith. Hence, nobody puts his finger in the burrow of a snake having recognised it. When we know that a certain amount of poison is lethal then our belief is that it will kill. So the sign of that belief is that we will not pour it into our mouths and instead save ourselves from death.'
Whilst further expounding on how to strengthen one's faith the Promised Messiah as states that the root of all righteous deeds and virtues is to have faith in God Almighty. The weaker one's belief in God Almighty is, the more weakness and laziness there will be in doing good deeds. However, when faith is strong and there is complete faith in all the attributes of God Almighty the more there will be an extraordinary type of change in the deeds of man. … A death comes upon all his capabilities through which he could commit sin and he becomes just like the dead. He follows the will of God Almighty and cannot raise even a foot without that. This is the state which comes when one has true faith in God Almighty.' All these states will come about when one has true faith in God Almighty and as a result he is granted complete satisfaction. The Promised Messiah (as) states, 'This is the true purpose which should be the real aim of man'. This is our target. We should always keep in mind that we must remove all kinds of filth from our minds, our hearts, our eyes and our ears and to refrain from listening to it too. The Promised Messiah (as) states, 'Our community is in need of this and in order to attain complete satisfaction, one must first have complete faith. The first duty of our community is to have full faith in God Almighty.'
Then explaining the different aspects of virtue the Promised Messiah (as) states: There are two very important things for a human being, that is to safeguard from evil and to strive towards virtue and there are two aspects of virtue; one is to abstain from evil and the other is to do more good. To shun evil is one aspect of virtue but the other aspect is to actually do good yourself. Faith is complete when we carry out virtuous deeds and become helpful for others. The Promised Messiah (as) continues to say "By doing so, we remain cognizant of our transformation and such standards are attained when we have firm faith in the attributes of Allah Almighty and understand them. We cannot eschew evil without this." We should persistently study the Holy Qur'an and its commandments in order to understand the attributes of Allah Almighty. The Promised Messiah (as) says, "It is very important to become beneficial for others. People revere kings and fear punishments by the state and there are many who do not violate the law of the land. Then how can they disobey the commandments of God, Who rules over all, with such audacity? Is there any other reason for this apart from lack of faith in God?" Hence, as it has been mentioned before that such shortcomings exist when faith is weak. We recognise Allah Almighty as the All-Knowing and the One who has the knowledge of the unseen in terms of our beliefs, however, we fail to demonstrate this in our practise. This then leads one to carry out many evil deeds and such a person is unable to do good because of his weakness in faith.
After mentioning the perfect belief in Allah Almighty, the Promised Messiah (as) elaborates on how to safeguard ourselves from evil actions. The Promised Messiah (as) says "The stage of refraining from evil is accomplished when there is belief in God. The second stage should be to seek the ways that were chosen by the beloved people of God'. Firstly, it is to believe in God and then it is to adopt the same kind of deeds and virtues which the righteous people of God and His prophets adopted. 'The first stage of safeguarding ourselves from evils is sought through the manifestation of the glorious attributes of God Almighty because He is an enemy of the sinful people.. The second stage is accomplished through the manifestation of the merciful attributes of God Almighty. The last [stage] is that nothing is obtained without the strength and capacity obtained from Allah Almighty. According to Islamic terminology this is called Ruh-ul-Qudus (Holy Spirit). This is a power given by God and the hearts of the recipients find comfort and their temperament becomes loving as it attains virtue." When someone establishes a connection with God Almighty and His holy spirit descends upon them, then righteous deeds become akin to delicious and pleasant-smelling sweet drink for them. They begin to recognise the innate beauty of virtues and run towards them. The mere thought of doing evil trembles their spirit."
The Promised Messiah (as) further states: " Man should not consider it a great achievement or pride over the fact that he occasionally laments and weeps. It is not an achievement to cry occasionally during Salat, or develop a state of fervency or that his heart becomes meek. One should not consider it the peak of his achievement." True spiritual advancement is when one completely shuns all vices and carries out virtuous deeds solely to attain the pleasure of God Almighty."
Expanding further on how one can carry out virtuous deeds, the Promised Messiah (as) says there are two aspects, one is to abstain from vice and the second is to carry out virtuous deeds. This is split into two parts. The Promised Messiah (as) states: "When man carries out virtuous deeds, there are two aspects to that; there are some which are compulsory and others which are voluntary." They are split into two parts; some pious deeds are compulsory, and some pious deeds are voluntary. Compulsory deeds, which are incumbent upon every individual include paying off ones debt. … Yet attached with every compulsory deed are voluntary deeds which are additional, i.e. a counter deed which is greater than the original deed. For example, if one returns a good deed in kind and further to it he performs a greater pious deed would be deemed as a voluntary deed." Then narrating a Hadith in this regard the Promised Messiah (as) states: "The saints and servants of God fulfil their religious obligations through these voluntary deeds. For example, aside from Zakat they also give Sadaqat [voluntary charity]. God Almighty befriends such individuals and this friendship becomes so strong that it is almost as if God Almighty becomes their hands and feet, as explained by the hadith of the Holy Prophet (sa) whereby God Almighty states "I become their hands and feet to the extent that I become the tongue through which they speak". When man increases in his faith and his belief in God escalates, he then performs virtuous deeds in order to please God Almighty. As a result God Almighty grants that individual the opportunity to carry out more virtuous deeds. Hence, regarding this the Promised Messiah (as) states: "It has been preordained in the design of Islam that one righteous deed gives birth to another righteous deed."
The Promised Messiah (as) then further states: "I remember reading in Tadhkiratul Aulia [book containing biographies about past Saints] that there was once an elderly person who was ninety years old and worshipped the sun. Unusually it rained continuously. He climbed onto the rooftop and threw seeds for the birds to eat. It rained constantly for many days and he continued to throw seeds for the birds. One of the neighbours in his vicinity who was an elderly Muslim said to him: "Old man! What are you doing?" He replied by saying: "My brother, it has been raining constantly for six seven days. I am throwing seeds for the birds to eat." The elderly Muslim gentlemen said: "Your actions are futile and will be of no benefit. You are a Kafir [disbeliever], what reward will you get in return for this? i.e. you will not earn any reward for this since you are a disbeliever. The old man replied: "I will indeed get a reward for this". He had belief in the existence of God Almighty. Nevertheless, he had a righteous nature and it was the inner voice of his heart that convinced him that he would receive a reward for his deed. The [Muslim] gentleman says: "I went for Hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca]. Lo and behold I see that same elderly man performing circuits around the Ka'bah." (The same elderly man who worshipped the fire and would throw seeds to birds was performing the Tawaaf [circuits around the Ka'bah] during Hajj.) "I was amazed to see him. When I approached him, he was the first to make conversation. Before I could say anything, he began to speak and said 'Was my throwing seeds to the birds in vain? Or did I not receive a reward for it? Today I am a Muslim and I am performing the Hajj. This is all due to the reward Allah has bestowed upon me for feeding the birds."
The Promised Messiah (as) said: "One should ponder over the fact that God Almighty did not permit the pious deeds of a disbeliever to be wasted, then would He permit the virtuous deeds of a Muslim to be wasted?" The Promised Messiah (as) continues by saying: "I remember the incident regarding a companion [of the Holy Prophet (sa)] when he said: 'O Messenger of Allah! When I was a disbeliever I would give lots of charity. Will I receive a reward for them?" The Holy Prophet (sa) said: "it was those Sadqaat [alms giving] that enabled you to accept Islam." (The reward for those Sadaqat is that today you are a Muslim)
Then whilst explaining that virtue is to keep even permissible things within limits, the Promised Messiah (as) states: "The root of virtue is to not exceed in partaking of lawful pleasures and desires of the world. For example, God Almighty has not forbidden food and drink but if a man makes it his hobby of consuming the same food and drink night and day, then he has given it priority over his faith. The similitude of this is like the horse cart driver when he travels a long distance then after approximately 15 miles he feels the fatigue of the horse and allows it to breath, stops and feeds it in order to remove its fatigue. Hence, in the same way the prophets partake of the delights of the world. Prophets also eat and drink but also partake of the delights of this world. They marry, have children, eat and drink. Prophets also partake in all these things. The Promised Messiah (as) states: "The contentment they receive from worldly entities is of this nature, for the reason that the reformation of the world was a task assigned to them. If the grace of God was not with them then they would have perished.
Once, someone levelled an allegation against the Promised Messiah (as) to Hazrat Khalifatul Maish I (ra) in which he stated that the Promised Messiah (as) also ate Pilau [traditional Indian rice dish]. The person making the criticism said that he heard that Mirza Sahib ate Pilau. Hazrat Khalifatul Maish I (ra) in his reply to him said, 'I have never read anywhere, neither in the Holy Quran or the Ahadith, in which it states that it is forbidden for the prophets to eat this. What harm is there if he eats this dish?' The Holy Prophet (sa) once told a companion: 'I eat good food, wear good clothes, have married and had children, I sleep and also worship. Therefore, you should follow my practise.' It is a virtue and righteous act to keep a moderation in even those things which are permissible.
Then, while elaborating on the aspect of teaching which pertains to virtue in regards to our dealing with those in authority and with our friends and relatives, the Promised Messiah (as) states: 'Our teaching is that one should treat everyone with kindness. Be truly obedient to those in authority as they serve for our protection.'
The Promised Messiah (as) further states: 'One's life and wealth is protected by them [i.e. the government] and also one should treat their family members with kindness because they also have certain rights. However, we must not offer prayers behind those who are not righteous and involved in harmful innovations and Shirk [idolatry] and oppose us.'
The Promised Messiah (as) further states: 'Our principal is that one should treat everyone with kindness. One who does not deal with kindness with others in this world, what will he partake from the rewards of the hereafter? The Promised Messiah (as) states: 'if someone says that the disbelievers were killed during the time of the Holy Prophet (sa), the response to that is that they were in fact guilty on account of their evil ploys and killing the Muslims without any reason. (They used to kill the Muslims and perpetrate cruelties against them.) Therefore, they were punished on account of their crimes and not because they rejected [Islam]. If one simply rejects something and there is no element of evil or cruelty with that then it does not become the means of incurring punishment in this world.'
How much one should broaden their scope of virtue, the Promised Messiah (as) states: 'Remember, the scope of sympathy in my view is very broad and one should not leave out any nation or person. … I admonish you again and again that do not limit your scope of sympathy and adhere to the teaching which God Almighty has revealed in regards to sympathy, and that is: The first stage of virtue is that one adopt Adl [justice] and so when one does good to you, you must also do good in return. The second stage is Ihsan, that in response to one's good you must do greater in return. And though this stage is greater than Adl [justice] however it is possible that one who does Ishan can remind the other of his favours on him. Therefore, the greatest stage of all is that one should do good in a manner as if borne out of one's personal love for the other and it is not done with the intention of bestowing a favour on one but rather like a mother nurtures her child. The mother does not seek any reward or anything in return for bringing up her child, rather it is a natural impulse for which she is ready to sacrifice her every comfort for his nurturing. So much so that if the king were to command the mother to stop feeding the child milk and even if the child dies as a result of this, she will not be held accountable but would the mother be happy to hear such a commandment and follow it? Certainly not! .. Thus, one should do good to others in the same manner and should reach the stage where it becomes a natural act because when a certain practise develops gradually into a natural phenomenon it is then that it attains the stage of perfection.'
Thus, good deeds should be such that its idea naturally occurs in one's heart. The Promised Messiah (as) states: 'The sympathy for mankind borne out of a natural impulse is known as Iytai Zil Qurba [giving like kindred]. By mentioning this sequence God Almighty desires that you should raise your standard of good deeds to the stage of Iytai Zil Qurba i.e. where it becomes a natural impulse. Until an act does not reach this stage where it becomes a natural impulse, it cannot reach the state of perfection.'
The Promised Messiah (as) further states: 'Remember that god Almighty is well pleased with good deeds and He desires that one should show sympathy to His creation. If He desired for ill-deeds then He would have urged one to do so, however God Almighty is pure of such a thing – Holy is He, and great is His majesty.
May God Almighty enable us to perform good deeds in order to attain His pleasure and may we attain the target of, 'Vie with one another in good deeds' which God Almighty has set for us.
After the Friday Prayers, I shall lead some funeral prayers in absentia. The first funeral is of respected Hamid Maqsood Atif Sahib, who was a missionary of the community and the son of Professor Masood Ahmad Atif Sahib. He passed away at the age of 48 at the Tahir Heart Institute in Rabwah on 22nd October due to kidney failure. Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.
The second funeral is of Ali Saeed Musa Sahib, the former Amir [national president] of Tanzania, who passed away on 30th September at the age of 60 – Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. ghty enable them to continue his good deeds and may He elevate his status.
The third funeral is of respected Nusrat Beghum Sadiqa Sahiba who was originally from Gurmaula warka but was presently residing in Rabwah. She passed away on the night between 16 and 17 October in Tahir Heart Institute. Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. She was the mother of Momin Tahir Sahib, who is in-charge of the Arab Desk. Her most notable quality was her great love in Tauhid [belief in the oneness of God] and completely despised shirk [idolatry] and harmful innovation in faith She observed her prayers with great fervency and regularly recited the Holy Quran. Huzoor (aba) prayed that May God Almighty elevate their status and enable their families to follow in their footsteps.