After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta’wwuz, and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) recited verse 184 of Surah al-Baqarah and then stated: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.” (2:184)
By the Grace of Allah, the Exalted, the month of Ramadan has started, the objective of the fasting is taqwa (God-fearing righteousness). Islam is an everlasting religion. The Holy Qur’an is preserved in every corner of the world in its original form and serves as a guidance for those who are righteous. Moreover, in the latter-days, God Almighty sent the Promised Messiah (as) for our reformation, for the propagation of the Holy Qur’an and God has enabled us to believe in him. Thus, it is a huge responsibility upon us Ahmadis that we understand the essence of fasting and try to reach the objective of fasting, i.e. inculcating taqwa and continuously progressing in it.
In the subsequent verses, the details and guidelines pertaining to the commandments regarding fasting have been mentioned. Reciting the Holy Qur’an, following the commandments of Allah the Exalted and paying attention towards supplications have also been mentioned. Thus, during the month of Ramadan, when we try to attain righteousness, our attention will also be drawn towards the various aspects of worship. If we are not refraining from vices, whether they are affecting ourselves or causing distress to others, we should be aware that the purpose of fasting will only be fulfilled by abandoning such practices. Despite fasting if we harbour arrogance, if we pride ourselves unnecessarily on our actions and other matters related to us, or that we have the habit of self-admiration whereby we desire others to praise us, or that we like that our subordinates flatter us, and we become happy at this fact, then this does not constitute as taqwa (God-fearing righteousness). If we are not refraining from fighting, quarrelling, telling lies and spreading disorder during the fasts, it cannot be righteousness. If we are not spending our time during the fasts in worship, supplications and virtuous deeds, it can neither be considered as righteousness, nor are we fulfilling the purpose of the fast. The Holy Prophet (sa) has said that God Almighty has no need for one to starve themselves if they are not achieving these objectives.
Some people make it appear as if they are observing the fast, whereas they are not in fact doing so. Hence, this is the reality of the fast for some people. Thus, after having believed in the Promised Messiah (as) it is a great responsibility upon our shoulders as Ahmadis to try and do justice to the fasts as God Almighty has commanded; to try and understand what righteousness is and how we can achieve it. The Promised Messiah (as) has informed us on various occasions who a righteous person is. The true comfort and pleasure is acquired through righteousness and not through worldly pleasures. For a person to become a true believer, he must perform every deed of his in accordance with the desire of God Almighty and in order to acquire His pleasure. This is the very aspect which distinguishes a believer from a disbeliever. The Promised Messiah (as) also told us that a person should excel in the understanding of God Almighty. Every coming day should allow us to progress in our comprehension of Allah. Nevertheless, I will now present various extracts of the Promised Messiah (as) in relation to righteousness.
The Promised Messiah (as) says, ‘I am contemplating to separate truly righteous people, those who give precedence to faith over the world and those who have devoted themselves to Allah from among my Jama’at and entrust them with some form of religious duties. Following that, I will be the least concerned about those people who are continuously engulfed in worldly matters and problems and those who spend their days and nights in search for the futile world.’
Thus, this was his agony that every member of his Jama’at should tread on the path of righteousness, instead of being troubled by the mere plights of this material world.
The Promised Messiah (as) explained that taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) is a key component for the acceptance of prayers. It is a fundamental condition, which cannot be removed. The Promised Messiah (as) stated, ‘If a person desires for his prayers to be accepted, whilst he is in (a state of) ignorance and misguidance, will he not then be (considered to be) reckless and ignorant? Therefore, it is essential for every member of our Jama’at to tread on the path of taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) as much as possible so that they may experience the pleasure of the acceptance of prayers and so that they may increase in faith.’
The Promised Messiah (as) says: “A person is overtaken by difficulties and hardships and there are various necessities that have to be met. Taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) is the key ingredient in order to resolve such issues.” God creates a way out for a righteous person from every difficulty and He grants ways of liberation from hardships from the unseen. He provides for such a person in a manner that they cannot comprehend. Therefore, one should offer this prayer a lot and should also keep in mind (Arabic).
If a person remembers this then their attention can always stay focused on treading the path of taqwa (God-fearing righteousness). Taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) is rooted in all the parts of a human being, i.e. all the faculties of man such as one’s beliefs, words and morals. There must be Taqwa in one’s beliefs, in one’s words and in one’s general behaviour. With regards to fasting there is a Hadith in which the Holy Prophet (sa) said that the one who fasts should always keep his tongue pure and if anyone argues with him then he should merely say ‘I am fasting and cannot answer you’.
The Promised Messiah (as) says, “Taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) incorporates the whole of mankind, whereas the tongue is something which can lead someone far astray from it.” That is to say that Taqwa is required in all matters and affairs. By the tongue one can go far away from Taqwa, in that one can display arrogance and by the tongue one adopts Pharaoh-like qualities, i.e. they begin claiming to be very important people. In the same way by the tongue one’s hidden good deeds turn into boasting and one can be harmed quickly by this.
The Promised Messiah (as) states, “We learn from a hadith that the one who protects his private parts and his tongue from all evil is guaranteed Paradise. The Promised Messiah (as) further states “What I mean by this is that if one is driven by necessity to eat the flesh of swine then this is a separate matter as permission has been granted by God Almighty in such circumstances, but if through his tongue if he issues the edict (that eating) swine is permissible, then he strays away from the sphere of Islam. Such a person permits that which God Almighty has deemed unlawful. Thus, it is clear from this that the harm of the tongue is very dangerous, therefore a believer must strive to control his tongue and to not allow any such words to be uttered which are against taqwa (God-fearing righteousness).
The Promised Messiah (as) says, “Control your tongues otherwise your tongues will control you and you will speak in vain.” Many of us would have increased our Zikr Ilahi (remembrance of Allah) during fasts. Your increase in remembering Allah should correspond with a decrease in engaging in idle and unnecessary conversations. You should make efforts towards achieving this so that you can attain the purpose of righteousness and fasting. Then (the Promised Messiah (as) says: “Always reflect on to what extent have you increased in righteousness and purity. The Quran is your benchmark for this. Remember when someone forsakes Allah the Almighty, then Allah the Almighty leaves Him. When Allah the Almighty leaves someone then surely Satan establishes his relationship with such a person. Then the Promised Messiah (as) says:
The Promised Messiah (as) explains how there are two aspects to piety and how Allah the Almighty treats those who carry out virtues. He says: “All virtues carried out by man are divided into two – firstly are obligatory virtues and second are supplementary virtues. However, the second aspect, supplementary, is something man must also participate in. Obligations are those which are mandatory, for example if one takes a loan from someone it is compulsory to repay it. Also, to recompense one’s piety towards you with piety is obligatory. In addition to these obligatory virtues are the supplementary ones. These are those virtues which are additional, for example beyond showing kindness to someone, you show them an even greater degree of compassion and concern in return.
The Promised Messiah (as) says: “The AuliyaUllah (friends of Allah) too, perfected their obligations through supplementary virtues. For example, in addition to Zakat they give other forms of Sadaqaat (charity). Allah becomes the Wali (friend) of such persons. Allah the Almighty states that His friendship reaches a point to where He becomes a person’s hands, feet and even tongue through which he speaks.
God Almighty states that those who are His walis (saintly people), converse with Him, walk with Him and work with Him, in other words they are wholly devoted to Him. Such people who come forward in virtuous deeds then God Almighty Himself supports His wali and completely destroys the enemy. Look how great the stature and rank of a wali is that he is so close to God that to cause any torment to him is akin to causing torment to God, thus how great of a helper would God be for such a one.”
Advising us on living a life of humility and meekness, the Promised Messiah (as) states: “A condition for those who wish to be counted amongst the righteous is that they should lead a life of humility and meekness. This is one of the branches of taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) through which we are to overcome unlawful anger. To refrain from anger is the ultimate and most arduous stage for many wise men and pious individuals. Arrogance and pride are borne out of anger. One only becomes angry when he considers himself to be superior to the other. I do not wish for the members of my community to consider others to be superior or inferior, or to look upon others with conceit and disdain.”
Elaborating upon how a believer who adheres to taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) responds to any kind of success that he is granted and how a non-believer expresses himself, the Promised Messiah (as) states: “Always remember this principle that it is the duty of a believer that he feels humbled and instead praises God Almighty when he is granted any kind of success. In other words, he attributes that success to God Almighty and praises Him for bestowing His grace upon him. In this way he progresses further and remains steadfast in the face of every trial and attains faith.”
The Promised Messiah (as) says, “Upon earning success if one demonstrates courage and resolve, one is granted a new lease of life, from which one ought to derive benefit from. One should progress in attaining the cognizance of God Almighty. If one achieves success or their prayers are accepted, then this should increase them in their understanding of the nature of God Almighty, because the greatest accomplishment which will be of benefit is the cognizance of God Almighty. This can only develop by pondering over the Grace and Blessings of God Almighty. Nobody can inhibit the Blessing of God Almighty.”
The Promised Messiah (as) then says, “One can only gain the nearness of God and come under His protection when one adopts true taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) and also carries out virtuous deeds. (Arabic) Each day, God Almighty records the deeds of an individual.”
May Allah the Almighty enable us to fast and offer worship in this month of Ramadan whilst adopting righteousness and may this month of Ramadan bring blessings for the Jamaat, for all Muslims and the rest of the world. During these days, pray especially for the Ahmadis residing in Pakistan, as their hardships are increasing on a daily basis.
Similarly, on a daily basis there are new reports that the sparks for world war are visible. As for the major powers, it seems as though they are heading towards a global catastrophe at great pace and there does not seem to be any sign of preventing this. Therefore, may Allah the Almighty specially protect the Muslims and especially Ahmadis from the adverse effects of the war and also protect the general population from these adverse effects.