Friday Sermon: Salat is the key to Personal assessment and improvement

March 30th, 2012

Hudhur Aqdas gave a discourse on reformation of faith followed by reformation of practice. Hudhur said the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wished his Community to go through the two types of reformations and bring about a revolutionary change because without this the great objective of his advent could not be achieved.

Reading from the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) Hudhur explained that we need to self-reflect with microscopic devoutness. Hudhur Aqdas said that God wills to especially purify people who have joined the Community of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and for this we have to ponder over ourselves with the minutest of detail. While we improve and reform our faith we also need to reform our practice. A microscope magnifies everything and that is the kind of self-reflection the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wanted us to undertake. The claim to be an Ahmadi is not an ordinary claim and the Community founded by the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is not an ordinary community. God wills to purify the people of this Community and thus make it a pure community and that is why He sent the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace).

Each Ahmadi should aspire to live a life of Taqwa and purity for a life led on these lines alone will bring about revolutionary change. This revolutionary change cannot come about without reforming one’s faith as well as reforming one’s practices. Hudhur Aqdas read out extracts from the noble writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) highlighting the gist of our faith. It is belief in One God and Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as His Messenger, it is our belief that he was the Seal of all the Prophets and the best among all the Prophets and it was through him that mankind was shown the right way. It is our belief that the Holy Qur’an is the final and complete Shariah from which not even a jot may be deducted or added. It is our belief that spiritual eminence of the most basic nature as well as high order is now solely through subservience of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and whatever takes place does so on a Zilli (shadow-like or reflective) manner of his glory.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has elucidated that the five pillars of Islam are our faith and we follow the Qur’an as we are enjoined to follow it. Where there is any conflict between Hadith and Qur’an we give preference to what the Qur’an states. He said we believe that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is His Messenger and Seal of all the Prophets. We believe in angels and we believe in the Day of Judgement, we believe in Paradise and in Hell. And we believe that whatever God has stated in the Qur’an and whatever the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said was the truth. We also believe that any person who adds or takes away even the slightest bit from the Shariah or makes any alterations has turned away from Islam. Addressing his Community the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said they should live and die for La illaha illalla Muhammadur Rasool Allah and should have belief in all the Prophets and all the Books that the Qur’an testifies the truthfulness of and should abide by the obligations of fasting, Salat, Zakat and Hajj as well as whatever God and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) enjoined.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that it is our belief that Hadhrat Esa (on whom be peace) was a human being who was saved from death on the Cross by God and he died later. Nowhere in the Qur’an is his ‘Second Coming’ stated, therefore we do not believe in this creed.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that in terms of faith there is no difference between Ahmadis and other Muslims. Hudhur said so much so that after the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) some sections of mainstream Muslims also believe in death of Hadhrat Esa (on whom be peace) and the concept of ‘bloody Mahdi’ has also changed. In this sense there is some faith-based correction in them. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) gave a series of Friday sermons in which he explained that since the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) a very small percentage among the educated Muslims of India believed that Hadhrat Esa (on whom be peace) was alive in Heaven as well as the theory of abrogation of Quranic verses had lost its intensity. Hudhur Aqdas said this is also the case these days. In fact some religious scholars have even said that the concept of Jihad does not have the same connotation in the present age. Thus some of their fundamental concepts have changed after the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) whether they accept him or not. Now the main argument that remains is about the Prophethood of the Promised Messiah (on whom peace). Hudhur Aqdas added, this too InshaAllah will be settled. Hudhur said when our detractors are left speechless in face of our reasoning they resort to physical violence and murder and this is what is happening in Pakistan and to some extent now in India.

Hudhur Aqdas said none can contend with the proofs and reasoning of Ahmadis. Those Ahmadis whose knowledge is limited should also strengthen it. MTA programmes like ‘Rah e Huda’ are broadcast for this purpose. Ahmadis should not feel any sense of inferiority. With the grace of God, the majority of Ahmadis are strong of faith and those who are not should remember that the faith the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) taught us is the real Islam and the outsiders do not have the power to dismiss it.

Hudhur Aqdas said reformation of faith is not sufficient. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also came to reform deeds and practices. The outsiders are inclined towards the Community through our practices. As such, good practices are silent Tabligh. Some people who grow very close to the Community and are almost ready for Bai’at turn away because the act of an Ahmadi causes them to stumble. Therefore, along with safeguard of faith, safeguard of practice is intensely important. Hudhur said we have won the battle of faith but if practices are not analogous, gradually faith may remain just in name, like the majority of other Muslims are. They have no care for Salat, falsehood is a common practice and immodesty is rife.

Hudhur Aqdas said he met with someone outside of our Community who said to Hudhur that he did not quite understand the sense of honour for Islam of the extremists. While they say they wish to usher in Islamic government, they murder innocent women and children. The person told Hudhur that there was a brewery on a main road in Islamabad [Pakistan] but that had never been the target of the extremists, who did not also seem to care about the vulgarity shown on television. Whereas the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had cursed those who brewed alcohol, those who kept it, those who sold it and whose who drank it. Hudhur Aqdas said the Prophet’s curse is acceptable to them but an Ahmadi saying the Kalima is not acceptable to them. As we are part of society, it can influence us. Therefore we need to be careful and pay due care to our practices. In particular grown-ups need to keep an eye on the youngsters and children. These days the ‘enemy’ enters homes in the form of immoral TV channels and the internet. Hudhur Aqdas said if we did not do Jihad against these our practices we will fall in satanic lap. Therefore we need to rise against this problem. We will have to call on God for this, it is not sufficient to simply say that one believes in God.

Hudhur related an anecdote of an elder whose student was about to leave him after finishing his education. The elder asked the student if there was Satan where he was going. The student answered that Satan was everywhere. The elder said that if he was to put in practice whatever he had learned about religion and Satan attacked him, what would he do? The student replied he would contend with him. The elder asked him a few more times as to what would he do if Satan kept on attacking and the student replied each time that he would keep on contending with him. The elder then asked him what he would do if he went to see a friend but at the door of the friend’s house his dog began to attack him. The student said he would scare the dog off. The elder said what if the dog attacked again, the student said he would repeat what he did before. The elder asked what if the dog continued to attack. The student said he would call out his friend to come and help him. At this the elder said to the student that Satan is God’s dog and to protect oneself from his attacks one has to knock on God’s door and call on Him.

Hudhur said we should not assume that we have acquired religious knowledge, have familiarised ourselves with morals and we also say our Salat any which way. Satan will keep attacking us if we maintained such assumption. What is needed is to turn to God with sincerity and ask for His help and in order to connect to God, it is not enough to simply take the Bai’at of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and correct our faith. For this, we have to call on God for help, to make practical endeavour, to repent and engage in Istighfar, and most importantly to offer Salat.

Hudhur Aqdas said the Qur’an lays great emphasis on Salat and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) called it the highpoint/zenith of a believer. A successful believer safeguards his or her Salat and for this protection from Satan is needed. The Qur’an states: ‘…Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil…’ (29:46) Hudhur Aqdas said this is the Salat which is offered purely to seek the pleasure of God and is a great source of protection against satanic attacks. There is great need to offer Salat in today’s extremely frivolous/idle environment. Children need to be told this but before they can be told elders have to be mindful anout their own practices. The Holy Qur’an refers to congregational Salat as observance of Salat. Hudhur Aqdas said he has noticed that when the clocks change to summer time the attendance at Fajr goes down and this has recently happened. Hudhur said attention needs to be paid to this. Laziness due to change of time is not good for Ahmadis.

Hudhur Aqdas said the office-holders need to set an example regarding observance of Salat. If the office-holders on every level, in every auxiliary were to improve their observance of Salat and came to the mosque, the ambience of the mosque would be enhanced. This would have a positive effect on children and youngsters. Hudhur Aqdas said it should always be remembered that an office does not bring status, what is of the essence is that love of God is attained and effort is made to attain it through what is the highpoint of a believer; i.e. Salat. Hudhur Aqdas said our success is in observance of Salat all around. It is not merely with having faith that Hadhrat Esa (on whom be peace) has passed away, no Quranic verses have been abrogated, all Prophets of God were pure and the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is indeed the awaited Mahdi. Our success is with making a living connection with God and not to be embroiled in the latent/hidden shirk of not observing our Salat.

Another good work that God has drawn our attention to is to pay the dues of others. Hudhur said it is highly embarrassing and regretful when Hudhur receives letters from people outside the Community saying that such and such Ahmadi has deceived them. These matters impede Tabligh and can cause new Ahmadis to stumble. Hudhur Aqdas recently heard from an Arab Ahmadi who wanted to leave the Community. It was found out that he had become distressed by the conduct of some Ahmadis although his faith in the Promised Messiah had not altered. Hudhur said while it was wrong of him to want to leave due to the conduct of some, Ahmadis should also take heed, some of whom are office-holders, that they are being the cause of someone to stumble and thus committing a sin.

Hudhur said he wished to draw special attention towards payment of Zakat. Although Ahmadis are very generous in giving but one aspect of financial sacrifice is Zakat which should be particularly heeded to. Hudhur said especially women who have jewellery or those people who have savings over the course of one year perhaps do not pay as much attention as they should to payment of Zakat. There are some who pay their chanda and Zakat correctly to the last penny but some do not pay Zakat. Hudhur said perhaps finance secretaries do not remind people more about this. Hudhur said there is a great need for this to be done.

Hudhur Aqdas said the Qur’an enjoins to shun every ill and to adopt every piety. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has told us not to disobey even one of the 700 commandments of the Qur’an. Our effort should always to avoid the most trivial of sin. As the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said we need to make microscopic self-analysis and find our weaknesses.

The Qur’an also enjoins good treatment of relations. Hudhur Aqdas said in this regard parents, wife and children come first followed by other relation. Hudhur Aqdas in particular drew attention that these days there is lack of tolerance in both men and women and this causes break up of marriages. Such break ups are on the increase and they do not seem to care the effect they can have on children.

Hudhur Aqdas said all Ahmadis should be mindful to be truthfulness in every matter. Any selfish attitude belies fulfilment of Bai’at. The Qur’an enjoins to testify truthfully even if one has to go against oneself or one’s parents. If this is not put in practice, what kind of revolutionary change could we introduce? Hudhur Aqdas said he often cites this Quranic commandment to the outsiders as regards establishing justice and claims that Ahmadiyya Community alone follows the Quranic teaching. However, if an outsider experiences something contrary to this what effect would this on him?

Hudhur Aqdas said reformation of our practices will be complete when we will reflect at every aspect and will try and improve it. Then alone will we fulfil the dues of our Bai’at, otherwise we will be accepting one part and disregarding the other part. It is important to adopt the most trivial of pieties. Ahadith tell us that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) counselled people to different things who asked him to tell them of a great act of virtue to adopt. He told some to do Jihad in the way of God, others to serve parents and others to offer Tahajjud. Hudhur said this was because according to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) the greatest piety for an individual was what he or she lacked. For example a person who is not very good at caring for parents and family, serving faith is not a great virtue. It is possible his service is for simply for show. Therefore those who do not fulfil the dues of their families but are office-holders, need to take care of their families in order to be rewarded for their service to faith. There are some who are very good at financial giving but not so good at Salat, for them observance of Salat will be a great virtue. Similarly there are other virtues which are ordinary for some while they are great virtues for others. Salat is a great virtue but it is not accepted when offered for show, when a person who offers Salat usurps others his Salat cannot be a virtue. It would be better if he fulfilled the rights of others and then offered Salat for it to be rewarded. Every step of one’s life should be taken with great care keeping God’s pleasure in view, with strong faith and refined practices which make the difference between an Ahmadi and the others clear to the world.

We should be mindful to avoid every ill and adopt every good. We should be role models for the youngsters as well as for our families and colleagues. Every young and old person should adopt this to a degree that would eradicate every kind of badness. If each and every member of the Community did not reform him or herself completely there will always be a seed of some ill or the other in the Community and it will develop at some time or the other. What is needed is for each one of us to completely eradicate all kinds of ills from within us. Then alone can be a true representation of reformation. This would lead us to experience triumph, our prayers will be answered and we will gain God’s nearness. May God enable us to do so.