After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz, and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) recited verses 184-187 of Surah al-Baqarah and then stated:
The translation of these verses is as follows:
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous i.e. to abstain from sin and increase in spirituality. The prescribed fasting is for a fixed number of days, but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty is an expiation — the feeding of a poor man, providing they have the capacity to do so. And whoso performs a good work with willing obedience, it is better for him. And fasting is good for you, if you only knew. The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and discrimination. Therefore, whosoever of you is present at home in this month, let him fast therein. But whoso is sick or is on a journey, shall fast the same number of other days. Allah desires to give you facility and He desires not hardship for you, and that you may complete the number, and that you may exalt Allah for His having guided you and that you may be grateful. And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’”
In these verses, God Almighty has described the obligation of fasting, its importance, the duties of the believers with regards to this month and the ways in which one’s prayers can be accepted. On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (sa) said, “If you knew the excellences of Ramadan and in which ways and how much God Almighty manifests His mercy, you would have wished that Ramadan were extended to the entire year so that you can gather the blessings of Allah the Exalted all year long.” Thus, God Almighty has prescribed fasting for our own benefit. We can derive spiritual as well as physical benefits from fasting. Now, even the non-Muslim doctors are of the opinion that fasting has a positive effect of one’s health.
God Almighty has said in these [aforementioned] verses, that fasting has been prescribed for every believer and every Muslim who is a true Muslim. To remain hungry form morning until evening is not considered a fast. The Promised Messiah (as) has stated that through the practice of fasting, God Almighty desires for a person to decrease one form of nourishment and increase in another form of sustenance. A person observing the fast remains occupied in the remembrance of God Almighty in order to develop a state of inclination towards God and detachment from the world. Fasting has been prescribed so that one may become righteous. However, what is righteousness? It is to abstain from spiritual and moral weaknesses. The observing of the fast should develop a standard of righteousness within a person, through the means of which one is then able to protect themselves from all forms of spiritual and moral weaknesses, otherwise it is meaningless to fast. Thus, by truly fulfilling the due rights of fasting and by attaining high standards of righteousness that the observing of fasts will bring a person, a believer and a Muslim become under the protection of God Almighty.
Hazrat Abu Huraira narrates that the Holy Prophet (sa) stated that God Almighty says that “every deed of a person is for his own sake, except for observing fasts. In fact, the fast is observed for My sake.” Similarly, the Holy Prophet (sa) also stated that “fasts are a shield and if anyone of you is observing a fast, he should not utter anything which is indecent and foul.”
The Holy Prophet (sa) also said, “by God, in Whose hand lies Muhammad’s (sa) life, the smell of the mouth of an individual observing the fast is more pleasant to Allah the Exalted than musk.” That is, it is more pleasant than the fragrance of musk. The Holy Prophet (sa) then stated, “there are two joys for an individual who observes fasts and that bring him happiness. Firstly, he rejoices when he breaks the fast in that Allah the Exalted made provisions for him to break the fast. Secondly, when he will meet his Lord, he will rejoice due to the fasts as Allah the Exalted states that I Personally become the reward for one who fasts.” Furthermore, the state of the joy of an individual, who observes the fast for the sake of Allah and receives the uncountable rewards of Allah the Exalted, will be of a completely different nature.
The Holy Prophet (sa) has also warned us and drawn our attention to the fact that if during the month of Ramadan, wherein the doors to heaven are opened; the doors to hell are closed and Satan is shackled, but yet if one were to witness the month of Ramadhan and not have their sins forgiven then when will he be forgiven? The Holy Prophet (sa) also warned that if despite the extremely comprehensive mercy of God Almighty, the means to secure one’s forgiveness are not attained (even in Ramadan), then when will they be attained? Hence, we should not simply become happy on account of Ramadan’s arrival and become satisfied in merely congratulating each other for Ramadan and the act of fasting. Rather, we should seriously evaluate ourselves about whether we are striving to attain the true purpose of fasting as laid out by God Almighty. May Allah Almighty enable all of us to achieve this purpose and grant us His forgiveness.
Then, in the next verse, God Almighty also describes those conditions in which one may be excused from fasting. However, before elaborating upon this, God Almighty explains, saying that since I Myself am the reward for the one who fasts, and I personally provide believers the means to secure their forgiveness, therefore the thought should not arise in anyone’s mind that we are making a great sacrifice by fasting, as a result of which Almighty Allah has granted us His favours, forbearance and forgivingness. No doubt, the mercy and forgiveness of God has been made extremely vast, but this (fasting) is still not an extraordinary sacrifice. At the time of Sehr, we eat our stomach’s fill, and at the time of breaking the fast, everyone eats whatever they desire; and then, this is hardly an ongoing sacrifice – it is only a matter of a small number of days in the year.
Hence, those afflicted with temporary illnesses can also give the Fidya, so that they get well and can fast. And then, at the end of one’s journey and upon recovering from sickness, it is also compulsory to fast. The need to observe both – observing missed fasts and giving the fidya – is proven by the following. The Promised Messiah (as) explains that those who end up recovering and are able to make up their fasts, for them to think that they only need to pay the Fidya [and not keep the missed fasts] opens a dangerous door to legitimising that which is forbidden. If one’s condition is such that he recovered after Ramadan, or he became ill in Ramadan but later recovered, if such people simply say that we did not fast in Ramadan but paid the Fidya, then this is also opening the door to legitimising something wrong. It would be condoning false exceptions, opening forbidden ways and forging false innovations. Even if one has paid the Fidya, he still needs to make up the missed fasts after Ramadan. These missed fasts can be kept at any time in the year.
Then, God Almighty states in this verse that whichever good work you carry out with the utmost obedience, even if you don’t want to do it, you still do it because it is a command of God, and subsequently God Almighty shall reward you with even more. At the end of this verse, God Almighty has once again emphasized that your observing fasts is better for you in every respect.
Then, in the following verse, God Almighty states, We caused the Qur’an to descend in this month, which is a means of guidance for you, and contains within itself clear and illuminating signs. Thus, the Holy Quran and the month of Ramadan have a special connection. Therefore, alongside fasting one ought to ponder over the Quran and strive to act according to its teachings, so that one can derive true blessings from the fasts during Ramadan. Not everyone can understand the deep intricacies of the Holy Quran, hence, along with the recitation of the Quran and reading its translations, which everyone is able to do on their own, one ought to derive benefit of the Dars [lecture] of the Holy Quran in whichever mosque the Jamaat has made arrangements. Similarly, there is arrangements for Dars which are played on MTA, and it is vital to gain benefit from these. The Dars of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (rh) are being aired. It is an important principle that in order to acquire the true comprehension of the Qur’an, one must observe the fasts, fulfil his dues of worship, offer the prayers and also excel in righteousness. The Promised Messiah (as) further says: “When reciting the Holy Quran, when someone comes across a portion in which there is mention of the Mercy of God Almighty, then at that moment one ought to seek mercy from God Almighty. And when one recites a portion in which the Quran refers to punishment of a particular people, at that point one ought to seek protection from God Almighty through repentance and seeking His forgiveness. One should ponder and reflect over the Holy Quran and act according to its teachings.” Thus, this is the manner in which the Holy Quran ought to be read.
Then in the following verse [of the Quran], God Almighty states: “In the month of Ramadan, My servants increase their endeavour and search for Me. Thus, I am near, and that I listen to their supplications. If they seek from Me with sincerity, I accept their prayers. However, in order for you to have your prayers accepted, you must first act on My commands.” God Almighty states that one ought to act on His commands and for one to increase in their belief in Him.
The Holy Prophet (sa) has stated that the first ten days of this month are to attain God Almighty’s mercy, the middle ten days are to seek His forgiveness and the last ten days one seeks to be saved from the hellfire.
May God Almighty enable us to become His true servants and cover us with His mercy and forgiveness and we may become the recipients of the blessings of this month. During these days particularly pray for the Jama’at that may God Almighty turn the evil ploys of the opponents of Ahmadiyyat back on them and wherever plans are being contrived against the Jama’at, may God Almighty turn them back on them. Pray for the Muslim Ummah that may God Almighty stop them from carrying out cruelties and from taking the lives of one another. May they become truly sincere Muslims and recognise the Imam of the Age. Pray for the world in general because they are heading towards destruction at an alarming pace. May God Almighty grant mankind wisdom so that they may recognise God Almighty and be saved from this destruction.
After the Friday prayers, I shall lead two funeral prayers in absentia. Although they passed away two months ago but the details were not before me until now. The first funeral prayer is of respected Dr Tahir Aziz Ahmad Sahib, son of late Arshadullah Bhatti Sahib, from Islamabad [Pakistan] and the second funeral prayer is of Dr Iftikhar Ahmad Sahib, son of the late Dr Khawaja Nazir Ahmad Sahib, from USA. They both had travelled to the area of Fatah Jang in order to deal with some matters regarding their land, when Dr Iftikhar Ahmad Sahib’s attendant kidnapped them on 13 March and later brutally killed them – To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. In Pakistan, people who commit such murders have no fear of being caught if they kill an Ahmadi. This is because according to them, killing an Ahmadi is an act of virtue and also they have the full support of the Maulvis [Muslim clerics] who will then try their utmost to set them free. Therefore, being Ahmadis also played a factor in their killings, and so in one way we can say that they attained martyrdom. May God Almighty grant His mercy and forgiveness to the decease and enable their progeny to remain attached with the Jama’at and Khilafat.