Friday Sermon: Divine Attribute Sattar: covers weaknesses and failings

March 27th, 2009

Huzur delivered his Friday Sermon on the subject of covering faults of others.

Among the names of Allah, Sattar is one. It is that Being Who is hidden and concealed and Who covers others’ weaknesses and failings and also likes the act of covering up faults. Ahadith expound that Allah likes covering of failings and modesty and covers man’s weaknesses and mistakes. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah Be on him) said that in the Hereafter sheltering man with His mercy God will ask man if he did such and such deed. Man will confess that yes, he did. God will say I covered your fault on that day and I cover your fault again. This is the Loving God Who forgives and covers weaknesses.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that there is no concept of this trait of God in other religions, otherwise there would have been no theory of atonement in Christianity. Only Islam presents the concept of God being a Coverer of faults. However, this certainly does not signify that because God likes to cover failings and forgives, people should become uncontrolled and have no notion of right and wrong since forgiveness is assured. A Hadith informs us that God covers up a believer in countless covers. Each time a believer commits a sin, a covers is torn until there remains no cover. This is when God says to His angels to cover His servant with their wings. If the believer repents upon being covered by the angels, Allah restores the covers; in fact He restores them nine-fold. However, if the believer does not repent God tells the angels to abandon him. This is when all the failings and sins of the person are made apparent. Huzur said each believer should always strive to be one who repents, seeks God’s forgiveness and thus attain a measure of God’s trait of being Sattar.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that it is the requisite of the Divine attribute of being ‘Master of the Day of Judgement’ God that He lets His servants succeed. It is through His attribute of Raheemiyat (quality of being Merciful) that He covers the faults and failings of His servants. The God of Islam is Rahman (Most Gracious) and He thus blesses regardless of any effort made by man. As He is the ‘Master of the Day of Judgement’, He covers the faults and weaknesses of His servants. A worldly government would never be bound by such a thing but God’s governance is limitless and He confers on whoever does good works and He covers weaknesses. Thousands of failings of mankind are known to Him but He does not disclose them.

God likes modesty, but this does not signify that He is modest to state something, rather He protects His servants from any potential embarrassment. However, when and if the stage is reached where man is brazen and does not benefit from God’s covering of faults, he is then humiliated. Indeed, God does not protect the shame of those who are incorrigible and their most concealed and hidden sins are also revealed.  Huzur said we should continually pray that God keeps us in the wraps of His covers.

Huzur said the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) ever prayed to God in this regard although God had promised him every kind of protection and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had said that even his Satan had become a Muslim. However, his prayers were made to counsel us. May Allah enable us to put them in practice. One of his prayers is:

‘O’ Allah, cover my nakedness and alter my fears into peace. O’ Allah protect me from the dangers that are ahead of me and those that are behind me and those that are to my right and those that are to my left and those that are above me. I come into the refuge of Your greatness from those dangers that may seize me from underneath.’

Huzur also read a prayer of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which translates as follows:

‘O’ my Benefactor and my God. I am a useless servant of Yours, sinful and negligent. You saw me commit injustice upon injustice and granted blessing upon blessing and saw sin upon sin and conferred favour upon favour. You have always covered my faults and bestowed Your countless blessings on me. Pray, now too have mercy on this hopeless and sinful person and forgive my audacity and my ungratefulness and grant me salvation from this grief of mine for none other than You can help.’  Ameen Thum Ameen.

Another prayer of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is:

‘O’ Lord of all the worlds, I cannot [adequately] express gratitude for Your blessings. You are extremely Merciful and Benevolent and You have granted countless favours on me. Forgive me my sins so that I am not destroyed. Place your pure love in my heart so that I attain life and cover my faults and make me do deeds which please You. I seek refuge with You from Your wrath befalling me. Have mercy and protect me from the torments of this world and the Hereafter for all grace and blessing is in Your hand.’

Huzur said we should say these prayers as our routine.  Huzur explained the responsibility that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) laid on believers in order to derive the beneficence of God, the Sattar. Hadith relates that Allah will protect that person from Fire who covers the honour of a Muslim woman. Huzur said he has particularly cited this Hadith with reference to when marital relationships are strained and both parties make allegations against each other. At times their respective families join in this, some of these accusations have some basis but others are completely baseless. The man’s side sometimes makes accusations that are mortifying. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) certainly enjoined to cover the honour of a Muslim woman. Huzur said at times mutual compatibility cannot be achieved in marriage, so if people want to separate they may go ahead. However, this can be achieved without making accusations. Ahmadis should avoid this.  In another Hadith the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said ‘a believer who sees the failings of his brother but covers them will be granted entrance to Paradise by Allah.’

Huzur said when new relations are formed one gets to know private matters, if these are covered and discretion is maintained then God promises Paradise. The first Hadith cites protection from punishment when faults are covered whereas this Hadith cites not just protection from punishment but also blessing. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that a Muslim is a brother to another Muslim and therefore is not unfair to him and does not abandon him. He said the needs of one who fulfils the needs of one’s brother are always met by God and on the Day of Judgement Allah will cover the faults of one who covers the faults of a Muslim. Huzur said these should be the standards of each Ahmadi.

Huzur cited a narrative that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) had related. A king who liked to inscribe the Qur’an was once visited by a mullah who pointed out to the king that he had written a particular verse incorrectly. The king drew a circle around the verse and said he would check it later. When the mullah was gone the king removed the circle. When asked why he had done so the king replied the mullah was mistaken but he had still drawn the circle as a consolation for him. Huzur said despite having the authority the king had covered the mistake of the mullah.

Citing verse 13 of Surah Al Hujurat ‘O ye who believe! Avoid too frequent indulgence in suspicion, for some suspicions are certainly sin. And spy not, nor back-bite one another….’ (49:13) Huzur said the verse speaks of avoiding negative supposition and thinking ill of others – this trait is foremost in spreading evil in the world. The verse also enjoins not to pry in other people’s matters for prying leads to backbiting. This can cause notoriety for others whereas God is the Coverer of faults. Huzur said the Hadith that he cited earlier which speaks of Divine punishment for those who do not cover the faults of others illustrates that apart from causing notoriety this also causes disorder in society. When people’s secrets are disclosed enmity increases. God enjoins to live with love and affection. Huzur said some indulge in the terrible habit of informing people that your such and such friend or such and such relative said so and so about you. Huzur said if anything had been said then why did the person not counsel the other there and then? If they did not have the capacity to counsel, why did they not pray for that person and now by repeating the incident the person is committing the sin of backbiting, committing the sin of not covering the fault of another and are being a source of creating disorder and God has stated that disorder is worse than murder.  The Holy Qur’an says:

‘Those who love that immorality should spread among the believers, will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you know not.’ (24:20)

God likes covering of faults; however, those who wish to expose the faults of others and promote indecency among the believers by broadcasting evil will have torment in this world and the Hereafter.  Huzur said in the Western world little concept of modesty remains. Television and the media have spread this lack of modesty and brazenness into the next generation and sadly a few Ahmadis are also included in this and this is the reason why Islam lays emphasis on Purdah and modesty. Huzur said if one discovers a failing in another and the person is flagrant about it then one should report this to the administration of the Community and also pray for the person. When one publicises an evil one is refraining from taqwa (righteousness). In situations where someone’s failing is discovered and while that person has repented and mended his/her ways the other goes ahead and publicises it, not only do they expose the faults of another, they also indulge in backbiting.  In order to save the society from disorder and oneself from Hell covering the faults of others is essential. If reformation is the objective, then inform the administration of the Community. In such a case it then becomes the responsibility of the office-holders to discharge of this duty with the utmost of discretion.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said ‘People of our community should pray for a brother when they notice any failing in him. However, if they do not pray and mention it to others thus taking it further, then they commit sin. Which failing is such that it cannot be overcome?  This is why one should always help a brother by praying for him.’  He also said, ‘Some people are weak, just like one recovering from a severe illness.  Some have acquired some strength. What is needed is that one privately counsels whoever one finds to be weak. If the person does not abide, then pray for him/her. If both these actions are not beneficial then consider the matter to be pre-destined…it is certainly not the teaching of the Holy Qur’an to notice a failing and spread it and go on citing it…Allah the Exalted is Sattar, you should ‘reflect the high morals of Allah, [adopt His attributes on a human level] we do not mean to say that one should support failings rather do not circulate them and do not backbite because according to the Book of God this is sin.’

Huzur said these are the aspects we need to inculcate in our Community. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) repeatedly drew the attention of the Community towards prayer and covering the faults of others. May Allah enable us to put his teachings in practice and thus always partake a measure of God’s trait of being Sattar. May God, with His grace, put disgust in our hearts for all things evil and may we always be inclined to virtues and thus fulfil the objective of the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace).