Friday Sermon: Introspection, Self-Reformation and Success

January 31st, 2014

Last Friday sermon was a discourse on reformation of practice or moral training with reference to the responsibilities of missionaries, including all life-devotees, ameers and office-holders and how they should play their role to regulate the causes that impede reformation of practices. And what are the requirements which the missionaries and office-holders need to implement in their lives and then tell the Jama’at about them. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih wanted to make it very clear that among the [Ahmadi] religious scholars and preachers at the time of Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) were companions of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) or individuals who had been trained by the companions whose standard of Divine nearness and belief was certainly very high. There was no deficiency in this regard, the deficiency towards which Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) drew attention was the need to alter preferences and to lay emphasis on practical matters to the same degree as matters of creed. And the need to morally train the members of the Jama’at in light of the signs of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), their own connection with God, obedience of Khilafat and respect of the administrative system/structure of the Jama’at.

However, these days we observe that the standard is not the same. Therefore it is greatly significant when Hazrat Khalifatul Masih says that missionaries and office-holders should implement matters in their own lives and then tell the Jama’at about them. There is great need to ponder over the word ‘implementation’ and to present good role-models, then alone will words of reformation have true impact.

Last Friday sermon dealt with instilling strength of resolve and removing lack of knowledge. The third aspect, that is, the way to remove weakness in implementing matters or how to enhance capacity in implementing matters was not dealt with. This was expounded today. As explained earlier, external remedy or help and outside support is needed for this third aspect. The outside support needed is of two kinds: supervision and compulsion. Supervision is when someone is overseen at all times so that they do not commit something foul. This goes on in worldly matters as well. Parents supervise children at home; teachers also play the role of supervising students alongside teaching them. Sometimes governmental employees watch over people and also let people know that they will be watching over. Signposted speed cameras are a way of watching over. Families of children who are ill-treated by parents are watched over and supervised and their parents are warned by children’s welfare organisations that if their treatment worsens the children would be taken away from the family. This is very common in the developed world and in the opinion of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih this supervision is carried out to an unfair degree as a result of which parents are scared to even discipline the children in a fair manner. Sometimes this results in children getting spoiled. At times supervision can be harmful in worldly matters. Situations where there are conflicts between husband and wife are supervised, prisoners are watched over. The objective of all this is to stop them from what they do which creates disorder or to reform them. Supervision is a source of reformation in all societal rules and regulations and religion also draws attention to supervision for reformation of practice. Societal supervision protects from all sorts of wrong things, parents supervise in their own sphere, missionaries supervise in their own sphere and it is important for the rest of the administrative system of the Jama’at to supervise. When this supervision is done in light of the Islamic teaching that each individual who supervises will be held accountable for his supervision, the supervisor is also reformed in the process!

The second necessary matter for reformation is compulsion. Some may think that while there is no compulsion in matters of faith, here compulsion is being recommended for reformation. It should be clear that there should be no compulsion in accepting or giving up faith. In Islam one has the freedom to accept faith or give it up. But there is compulsion once one associates with faith and then breaks its rules and regulations. Discipline is a necessary recourse if this happens and this is what compulsion signifies here. If one wishes to live as part of a system then its teachings have to be followed, otherwise one may be disciplined, fined etc. for reformation purposes and to remove weakness in capacity to implement matters. The Nizam (administrative system/structure) of the Jama’at also disciplines and this is for done for reformation and not to needlessly slight anyone. Governments too take the same route by imprisoning people or fining them. The purpose is to maintain societal peace. Sometimes those who harm themselves are also punished and different means of reformation are used during the punishment. Capital punishment is given for murder. Societal peace can be destroyed if murderers are not punished and many more murderers may be created. By taking the life of those who kill, many are reformed. This is one form of compulsion that is practised in the world as a means of reformation. There is no connection between the compulsion of worldly punishments with faith but those who associate themselves with faith are punished according to the religious system or are punished in some other manner, are fined, or restrictions are placed on them. The Jama’at sometimes imposes the restriction of paying chanda on individuals. Doubtlessly compulsion is used to stop people from doing things. However, when these matters lead to good works or an individual follows them to be saved from punishment or to avoid displeasure of the Khalifa of the time or to avoid displeasure of God, then gradually faith is instilled and ultimately enhanced.

It should be remembered that different means have to be used for inculcating doing of good works and utilising these means is extremely important. These means are, instilling faith, instilling correct knowledge and to supervise and use compulsion. Reformation is difficult without these four aspects. If we look deeply we find out that there is a section of people in the world which does not have the level of strength of faith required for reformation. If strength of faith is instilled in such people their practices are corrected. Then there is a section of people which is embroiled in sin due to lack of knowledge and it needs correct knowledge. Yet another section of people is dependent on others for good works. Help is given to them in two ways, with supervision, as just explained earlier, or there is a section which is very low down the scale and is not deterred even with supervision. Unless punished, this section of people cannot be reformed. It is also important to adopt these four ways for reformation within the Jama’at. It is important to remember that at a time when religion has neither governance nor power, these four remedies are necessary.

It was explained in last Friday sermon that firstly it is necessary to morally train to instil strength of faith. For this purpose signs of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), his revelations, his connection with God and the spiritual revolution of his followers should be related. In this age when Satan is attacking most forcefully, it is important to repeatedly relate the ways to attain love of God and also relate how when His love is attained, God’s loving treatment is dispensed and how the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has expounded this to us. New Ahmadis of different ethnic backgrounds, especially Africans and Arabs, write in their experiences of reading books of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which enhance their faith, how his books remove their misconceptions of creed and enhance their knowledge in terms of creed and open up new avenues of faith. This strength of faith is instilled in them by observing the signs of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) understanding the reality of his revelations and understanding his connection with God.

Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) thus explained the significance of the signs, revelations, and connection with God of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which would make the rays of faith in our heart brighter still: ‘Hazrat Isa (on whom be peace) can very well be alive in heaven. His being alive in heaven is not as harmful as it is harmful for the existence of God Almighty being dead in our hearts. What good is it when you continue to lay emphasis on death of Hazrat Isa (on whom be peace) while you are killing God Almighty in people’s hearts and are not attempting to make Him Living!’ Indeed, God is Living, Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining and death does not overcome Him, but as regards some people He does cease to be. Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) also wrote with reference to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih I (may Allah be pleased with him) that one of his teachers who hailed from Bhopal (a city in India) said that he once had a dream in which saw a leper sitting on a bridge outside Bhopal. The leper is also blind and his nose is cut off and his fingers have withered off and his entire body is full of pus and he is covered in flies. The teacher feels revulsion and asks the leper who he is. The leper replies that he is god. Terrified, the teacher asks him how he could be! He says that all the Prophets in the world have always taught that God is the Most Beautiful Being and could we ardently love God Who has this form? The leper replies that indeed the Prophets were right in what they said. He says he is not the real God, but is the god of the people of Bhopal, that is, he is considered thus by them, there is no importance of God in their eyes. Indeed, God does not cease to be but when a person forgets God, for him God ceases to be. Huzoor said he wished to make it clear to the youngsters that they should not think that if some people become like this, God adopt such a form and that is the end of the matter. In fact the form in the dream is of those who abandon God, it is like seeing oneself in the mirror. The dream refers to spiritual lepers. God forbid, God did not cease to be and abandon them.

In many places God has stated that the ending of those who forget God is Hell. It should not be construed from the aforementioned example that if God is imagined as powerless nothing will happen and it would be the end of the matter. God punishes and none can withstand His wrath. In this regard it should not be considered an inconsequential matter that if one forgets God it is the end of the matter!

Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘It is strange that our religious scholars make efforts regarding death of Hazrat Isa but do not try to bring God Almighty to life. They do not generate the spirit which instils insight and perception of Allah the Exalted. Our main effort should be to bring God to life and to inculcate greater connection with Him. If we have a living connection with God, then no matter how much noise is made by those who consider that Hazrat Isa is alive, our faith will not be corrupted because God will guide us every step of the way.’

There is no doubt that it is very important to have knowledge of subjects like death of Hazrat Isa (on whom be peace) and finality of Prophethood and it is also important to stay firm on them with proofs and reasoning. Yet, in practical terms, we have to instil a connection with God and for this we have to adopt those ways and means which the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) taught us. We will have to remove any discrepancy in our word and deed, and while taking the message to others, we should also self-reflect. Today with the grace of God many youngsters are joining the institution of Jamia, which prepares missionaries throughout the world, especially in Pakistan. Many of these youngsters are Waqfe Nau. At times it so happens that quantity effects quality and some do not make the effort to attain the required spiritual levels and either due to bad practices or lack of correct knowledge about the sanctity of a missionary, indulge in bad practice and are removed from Jamia. The future is about advancement of Ahmadiyyat and for this a large number of missionaries need to train themselves. They need to forge a connection with God from now onwards and make efforts more than ever in this regard.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih said a scholar from Qadian has written to him saying that when in earlier times conventions were held they used to give very powerful and rapid responses to the attacks of the opponents and overcome them. Indeed, it is good that they used to do this. Opponents should be responded to and they should be refuted with proofs and reasoning alone. However, it is more important that missionaries develop spiritually to such an extent that each one of them becomes a sign. They should develop spiritually in such a way that people come into Ahmadiyyat by seeing their role-models. Regretfully this standard was not attained and for this reason many mu’allameen (teachers) had to be relieved of their work in India where it seemed worldliness had overcome them. Therefore, the person who wrote to Huzoor as well as each one of us should self-reflect as to what are our responsibilities. Mu’allameen and missionaries should note what efforts they have made to instil faith in hearts. We should not be pleased by merely impressing people through reasoning alone and making the Maulwi run away. In fact we should illustrate existence of God to the world through the living signs of God that we have and convince people through the practical testimony of God that is with the Promised Messiah (on whom be pace).

Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) said that if the sun is out and someone asks for proof of the existence of the sun and another person starts giving him proofs, then the person giving proofs is indeed foolish. The simple way to resolve this is to turn the chin of the questioner towards the sun and say, ‘look there’. God too is resplendent in front of us. He has uncovered Himself before the world and through the Promised Messiah (on whom be pace) all His beauties are evident. It is the task of those who preach not to be foolish like the person who gave proofs of the existence of the sun, but to prove the truth through the ever fresh signs of God’s practical testimony in favour of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). However, the matter of their own condition remains; their conditions should be in accordance with pleasure of God so that they may fortify the Jama’at’s capacity to implement matters. They should present these matters before children, men and women again and again and tell them how the glory of God is evident and how can God’s nearness and love be attained. This would incline those youngsters to God who are currently inclined towards the world and it will not be just a few missionaries and scholars who would vanquish the non-Ahmadi Maulwis, rather the role models of our youngsters, women and children will attract the world!

It is greatly needed to attach oneself to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and then completely obey Khilafat. This is what will become a source of strength and spiritual development of the Jama’at. Recognition of Khilafat and its correct awareness and perception should be so instilled in the Jama’at that it should happily accept every decision of the Khalifa of the time and have no doubt about it. Inculcating correct insight and perception of Khilafat is also an important task among the tasks of missionaries and it is also the responsibility of office-holders to pay attention to this. Some instances are brought up where people say that Khalifa of the time has done this and that incorrect, has given a wrong decision, or such and such decision should have been this way. Objections are raised about the decisions of Qadha Board. Or it is said why has so and so being given such and such task; the Khalifa of the time has a lot of awareness about so and so but in spite of having awareness about so and so he has closed his eyes. There are only the odd few people who make such remarks but they spoil the milieu. If missionaries and office-holders on each level, those of the Jama’at and also of the auxiliary organisations, understand this responsibility of theirs, the doubts that arise in a few hearts, would not. It is especially the task of the missionaries to make them understand that all blessings are in the Nizam and when God wishes to curse a body of people He removes Nizam from among them. When these facts will be known to all, those who stumble will be saved. There are always some people, even if they are a few, who think they are know-it-all and they sit here and there and say what they say. [They say] Khalifa is not God, he too can make mistakes like ordinary humans do. That is fine, however, Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) has given an excellent response to this matter and if Khilafat is true then this response is applicable on all time and place, that is, if one accepts Khilafat as a blessing of God.

‘God Almighty states that He ultimately establishes those matters in the world about which Khulafa make decisions. He states: ‘…and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them…’ (24:56) That is, God swears that He would establish in the world the faith and the principles which Khulafa want to establish.’ These matters should be instilled in every member of the Jama’at and it is the task of the missionaries and the learned people to try and instil them in every heart. They should be absorbed in the task to make the blessings and beneficence of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) evident to people and to repeatedly mention the living signs of God and tell people the sources of gaining nearness of God and to obey the Khalifa of the time in every situation. They should tell people the importance of obeying the Nizam and make it evident to every individual. When this is achieved, doubts and misgivings will vanish and through this the number of people who eradicate doubts and misgivings will be so great that each suspicion will die its own death and there will be reformation of practice in the Jama’at in every way which was one of the big objectives of the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). It should be remembered that while knowledge of the issues of death of Jesus (on whom be peace) and finality of Prophethood is important for our external frontline, it is also very important to instil good practice and knowledge of God for our internal frontline. Our spiritual purity, our reformation of practice, InshaAllah will bring about a greater revolutionary change than our Tabligh efforts.

Hazrat Musleh Maud’s (may Allah be pleased with him) pronouncement is certainly most significant where he says: ‘If they [scholars and missionaries] reform hearts and instil knowledge and love of Allah the Exalted in people’s hearts then tens of millions of people will begin to come in the fold of Ahmadiyyat. Allah the Exalted states: ‘ When the help of Allah comes, and the victory, And thou seest men entering the religion of Allah in troops, Glorify thy Lord, with His praise, and seek forgiveness of Him. Surely He is Oft-Returning with compassion.’ (110: 2- 4) If you will propagate your religion through Tabligh, then people will come to you in their ones and twos. However, if you seek forgiveness and glorify God, and eliminate sin from your Jama’at, then people in their multitudes will join you.’

The scholar of ours wrote to Huzoor that he used to vanquish the outsiders in debate, yet winning discussions does not have the effect which our own reformation of practice will have. Therefore we should pay attention to our reformation of practice and try and become deputies of Khilafat and try and becomes helpers of the Khalifa of the time. We cannot ever remain simply entangled in academic discussions, rather, we have to take our Jama’at to advancement and InshaAllah for that we have to adopt another method and that is reformation of practice. What is needed is to have good deeds, to have high standards of honesty and trustworthiness, to adopt legitimate means of income. We should not deceive the council for a little bit of money and put our honesty on the line and obtain benefits. If we undertake everything that is entrusted to us with full attention, cheerfulness and honesty, avenues will open for us in spiritual as well as worldly terms. With the grace of God, generally speaking the Jama’at has a good image in the eyes of others. However, if for some trivial worldly advantage we discard our honesty and our trustworthiness, we will bring the Jama’at in disrepute.

While the missionaries need to pay attention, every member of the Jama’at also needs to self-reflect and reform practices. For this the greatest weapon is prayer and in this regard we should keep in view that God states that one should develop one’s faith and abide by the modus operandi that has been given to us. If practice and prayer and prayer and practice go hand in hand we will be able to truly reform ourselves. May God enable each one of us to do so!

Next Hazrat Khalifatul Masih said he would also like to draw attention to a matter which has caused anxiety for every true believer, that is, the pitiful condition of Muslim countries. These days the Muslim Ummah is in great need of the prayers of the followers of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It is our duty to pray abundantly. The situation in Syria is getting from bad to worse. The government is exceeding in cruelty and the opposition is also exceeding in cruelty. Children, the elderly and women are been persecuted whether they are guilty or not. They are seized and taken away and are starved and tortured. Some recently published photographs makes hair stand on ends that Muslim is perpetrating so much cruelty on Muslim and giving chance to the non-Muslims to raise objections against Islam. Interviews of 14, 15 year olds who have been separated from the parents were shown. They have nothing to eat and get by through rummaging here and there. When a 12, 13 year old was asked what did he wish to become when grown up, he laughed and said obviously he will become a criminal; a thief, or a scoundrel, an extremist so that he can take his revenge. The government is trying to hold onto power and the opposition is trying to grab power and in the process they are destroying their next generation. May God bring retribution to the oppressors and save the masses from the domination of the oppressors and give them fair-minded rulers.

Extreme cruelty is being perpetrated in Pakistan, especially against the Ahmadis. They are being persecuted physically as well as mentally and ordinary Pakistan is also being crushed in oppression and it appears that this situation will continue to intensify. The extremists are also created by governments, so it is difficult to control them. Our prayer is that may God make these oppressors a cautionary sign. There is great need for prayers that may God eliminate the oppressors in Pakistan as well. There are other Muslim countries, like Egypt, Libya and others. Situation is bad in almost every country. May God give them sense and make the oppressors a cautionary sign and keep every Ahmadi in these countries safe from their evil!