Death and the Afterlife The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) The Nature of God

Spiritual Progress to Achieve Closeness to Allah

14 The Review of Religions – September 2005 After bearing testimony to the Unity of God and that Muhammad(sa) is His Messenger, seeking refuge from Satan, commencing in the name of Allah and having recited the opening chapters of the Holy Qur’an, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V said: The Holy Qur’an has urged Muslims that you should always be concerned and try to do your utmost in performing good deeds and making progress in your worship, progress in good works, progress in higher values and progress in fulfilling the rights of others. So, Allah does not merely expect us to safeguard ourselves from evil and do good works but has instructed that we should vie with each other in the doing of good deeds. It is as if you are racing with each other in doing good. When you are engaged in trying to overtake each other in this race, then your standards will be of a very high level. Now see what a lovely teaching Allah has given us through which we have been shown the way for our religious and material and national progress. In fact, it is the key to success and if we act upon it, we can bring about a radical change within ourselves. Remember, when nations begin to pay less attention towards progress in good works, or if the con- sciousness that we have to make progress in good deeds is no longer there, then a decline begins to set in the life of the nation and leads to its downfall and that of its people. When evil spreads so much that their concern towards it disappears, then even the care of what is sacred Spiritual Progress to Achieve Closeness to Allah Closing Address delivered by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the worlwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the Jalsa Salana Tanzania, 11 May 2005 (The Review of Religions has published this address at its exclusive responsibility). 15The Review of Religions – September 2005 and shamelessness ceases to exist. Therefore, every Ahmadi should make the goal of his life to conform to the commandments of Allah which says: …Vie then with one another in good works… (Ch.2:V.149) Then, in accordance with the promises of Allah, he would be worthy of reaping the rewards and blessings of Allah. Today, you are poor because of the absence of: …Vie then with one another in good works… (Ch.2:V.149) Become the persons to restore credibility to your nation and make its name famous. To vie with each other in good works means that you should obey the commandments of Allah. Allah’s command is that Worship Me in the manner that worship should be done. It is obligatory on every Ahmadi, therefore, to worship Allah Who is Omnipotent in accordance with the ways told to us by Allah. The Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) were so keen in excelling one another in their worship that they were always trying to find different methods of worship. Once, some poor Companions got together and came to meet the Holy Prophet(sa) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Our rich brethren pray like us and fast like us and do other good works. But in one aspect, they excel us and are earning greater reward than us, and this is in their financial sacrifice whereas we are helpless. Their effort is greater than ours. Tell us some way in which we can become equal to them in good works.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) said to them, ‘After every Prayer, start saying thirty-three times: ‘SubhanAllah’ (Holy is Allah) and thirty-three times ‘Alhamdulillah’ (all praise belongs to Allah) and thirty- four times ‘Allahu Akhbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 16 The Review of Religions – September 2005 This act will equal their almsgiving and financial sacrifice.’ So the Companions began secretly to recite these words. When their richer brothers saw that their less well-off brothers were engaged in some form of utterance, the well- to-do wanted to find out what the less well-off were doing. After some time, they found out that the less well-off or poor were engaged in the remembrance of Allah and that the Holy Prophet(sa) had told them that this was equal to their financial sacrifices. Upon this the well-to-do also began to remember Allah in the same manner. The poor Companions gathered again and appeared before the Holy Prophet(sa) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, the rich have also started to pray like us.’ They meant that the Holy Prophet(sa) should stop the rich from this worship. But the Holy Prophet(sa) asked, ‘What more can I do about the one whom God has enabled to do good works?’ See how keen the Companions were in trying to excel each other in doing good. They wanted to excel in doing good works at all times and wanted to make Allah pleased with them. These commandments in the Holy Qur’an and such Traditions of the Companions that have come to us are not so that we should listen to them and somehow by being safeguarded utter SubhanAllah (Holy is Allah), but so that we too should try to act upon them. We too should try to follow these footpaths. We too should try to acquire high standards in the worship of Allah and in the remembrance of Allah. We too should tread these paths and acquire the pleasure of Allah. Then apart from worship, there are many social values and there are many noble and excellent moral values which Allah has commanded us to make a part of our lives and to continue to make further progress in these. So, by making these a part of our lives, we have to try and bring about a good change in our lives, because, otherwise, we would slowly become insensitive to these SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 17The Review of Religions – September 2005 matters and would not be able to distinguish the good from the bad. Our passion and respect for the sacred and inviolable would be confined to mere words and with the passage of time even that would begin to disappear. After this, as I said earlier, man is reduced to a wretched existence while the nation gets sucked up by a whirlpool to an abyss or very great depth. May Allah save every Ahmadi from such an end. Out of our kindness for mankind as a whole, we pray that Allah protects everybody from such disgrace. In this connection, you should also remember that each good thing and each good deed is a good work and it should be acquired. Do not take into account who told you about it or do not try to identify in whom did you find such and such a good deed. Even if you see a good thing in a Kafir or a disbeliever, or in a person of some other faith, and you do not have that good work in your characteristics, then you should acquire it without hesitation of any kind and without any trouble or botheration. It is narrated in a Hadith that the Holy Prophet(sa) said that any good word, any wise thing, is the lost treasure of a believer and wherever and whenever he finds it, the believer should quickly grab it. One advantage of this would be that you will not view other people with envy or hatred and you will not be construing their good things as bad things but you would be desperate to get rid of your evil things. Anyway, this commandment to vie with one another in good works will keep elevating you up, and up. It is also an instruction for the nation because it does not mean that each person should make an individual effort but in addition to personal effort, the commandment requires effort to be made on the national level also. When you vie with each other on a Jama’at and national level, it will mean that once you reach a certain stage, you will endeavour to bring your brother and fellow countryman to that level. You will exert your effort to get them to that level. When everyone will be trying to help one another in this manner, all avenues of progress will be SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 18 The Review of Religions – September 2005 open to you and you will continue to march forever forward. Now I will quote a few more Ahadith (Traditions – Ed) from which you will be able to see how the Holy Prophet(sa) used to induce the believers by citing them various examples to improve them. In one Hadith, Abu Hurairah(ra) relates that the Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘The person who is distinguished in any good work will be invited to enter the gates of Paradise for it. He will hear, O Servant of Allah! This gate is better for you. Come through this alone. If he was eminent in the observance of Prayers, he will be summoned from the gate of Prayers. If he was illustrious in Jihad, he would be called from the gate of Jihad; if he was foremost in fasting, the well-watered gate; if he was exemplary in almsgiving, the gate of almsgiving would beckon him.’ Hearing this directive of the Holy Prophet(sa), Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! My father and mother be sacrificed to you! (This is an expression of giving love to the beloved person). The one who is called to enter by one gate, stands in need of no other gate, but would there be any fortunate one who would be called from all these gates?’ The Prophet(sa) said; ‘Yes, and I hope that you will be one of the fortunate ones.’ So, see how he explained by quoting the example of each good work. He has only quoted a few examples. He has said that even though someone is doing good deeds but he is very much ahead of others in one particular good work, then Allah would call this person from that gate. However, it is not that there should be someone who says his Prayers frequently and thinks that he is worshipping Allah although he is usurping the rights of others. If he comes to do the Hajj (Pilgrimage – ed), it does not mean that all his sins, past and future ones are all forgiven and now no matter how he behaves, he has a passage to heaven. If he is a trader, he cheats others, derives unreasonable profit, or exploits the poor by granting them a loan on which they are forever repaying the SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 19The Review of Religions – September 2005 interest; all these evil deeds of his will extinguish the virtue of his Prayers and Hajj. The Holy Prophet(sa) said that in order to enter by any gate of Paradise, he should be distinguished in a good work. Although he should be doing other good works at the same time, he should be prominent in one of them. Having done some good work, those who look down on others with great pride thinking that they have pleased Allah, they should understand clearly that a good work is one that can be found in all matters and affairs and which is consistent and regular. Another Hadith makes this abundantly clear: Hadhrat Abu Ayub(ra) narrates that a person asked the Holy Prophet(sa) to tell him a formula that would take him straight to Paradise. The Prophet(sa) said, ‘Perform worship; do not associate anyone with Him; say your Prayers in congregation; pay the Zakat; and treat your relatives well and in a kind manner.’ Now he has not assigned any one method as the formula for going to Paradise. But he has said Worship Allah and bow down before Him because this is the object of man’s creation as Allah has said: And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me. (Ch.51:V.57) Then he has said: Do not commit shirk by associating partners with Allah. Some people apparently observe their Prayers and claim that they are worshipping Allah but there are some traces of shirk (associating partners with Allah – Ed) hidden in them. For example, if because of one’s work or business, one has not attended to one’s Prayers on time, then one has not fulfilled the rights of the Prayers but has preferred one’s work or business to Allah. There are many such false gods amongst people. In one Hadith, it says that to trust a magician or sorcerer is also a shirk or like a belief in a false god. So one should not think that idol worship alone is a kind of shirk but one should save oneself from such hidden false gods. SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 20 The Review of Religions – September 2005 As mentioned earlier, the object of man’s creation is the worship of Allah. Now worship has a particular form that Allah has taught us. One of them is, obviously, Prayers. The true method is to observe Prayers regularly, in the method taught by God, at the appointed time, and to say it in congregation. So pay attention towards this also. Populate your Mosques. Then He instructed to pay the Zakat. Those who are not obliged to pay the Zakat, should pay sadaqah (voluntary alms giving – Ed) and give alms for the poor and needy. The Promised Messiah(as) has said that one should give chanda for the sake of spreading the Faith. This is also a big good work towards which the Jama’at should pay attention. Then there is a good social work of which he has reminded us, that is, to treat your relatives well. Look after your close relatives and be kind towards your relatives. Because of this benevolent treatment, love and affection would be fostered and an atmos- phere of brotherhood would be generated. When such an atmosphere is created, then many internal disputes which arise from petty and small matters would automatically end. This is why the Holy Prophet(sa) has said that if you adopt these good values, then you would be worthy of entering Paradise, but the society in which such good works take place, would find heaven on earth – in this world also – they will begin to behold scenes of paradise on this earth. But remember that as I have mentioned earlier a good work is only that which keeps getting better and in whose search man is always trying to work. It cannot be that you should put your first step on the rung and keep standing on the ladder because if you keep standing there you will not be able to climb higher. In this connection the Promised Messiah(as) states: ‘One should become one who vies with others. Staying put on one station is not a good quality. You see, stagnant water ultimately begins to become dirty. Because of mud SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 21The Review of Religions – September 2005 it begins to smell and becomes unpalatable. Running water is always clear and tasty even though under it there may be silt but this silt can have no effect on it’. He says: ‘The same is the condition of man that he should not be stationary in one place. That is a dangerous position. All the time, the step should be in the forward direction. One should improve in good works because otherwise God Almighty does not help man. In this way man becomes bereft of light and its ultimate end sometimes is apostasy. Man becomes blind within. God’s succour and help accompanies only him who is always moving forward in good works and does not stand in any one place and it is only these whose end is good.’ (Al Hakam, Vol.12 No.16 dated 2 March 1908 page 6) Now see how beautifully the Promised Messiah(as) has drawn our attention to improving ourselves in doing good works. You all know that if water is standing stagnant in some pit and if rain falls, then in the beginning even small pools and water in some valleys appears to be clean. But if there has been no rain for a long time, then the water would be dirty no matter how big the pool of water is. There are some animals that swim in it – swim in the pools – and make it filthy. Many diseases can also spread from it. And if there has been a drought and there has been no rain, then such pools also dry up. So the Promised Messiah(as) has said that if man improves in good works but does not benefit from the fresh rain of new good works, then such a man would also be like that stagnant water and would make waste all his good works by standing in one place. A bad environment will also affect you. But running water is the water of rivers in which the fresh water of rainfall gets mixed and fresh springs flow into it, and water from melting snow on high mountains also flows into it. In other words, it is getting fresh water from all sources. In whichever wide area this flowing river passes through, it bestows its SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH 22 The Review of Religions – September 2005 benefits to the creation of God. It fulfils their needs. It cleans the impurities by its flow. So the person who is keeping his good works on the move and is enhancing them, is benefiting from the good works of other noble and holy servants of God around him, is trying with prayers and the help of Allah to comply with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an on the doing of good works and then because he is restless to do further good works, then Allah too showers His blessings and bestows His bounties on him. Then indeed such a man will become like the flowing river which the world holds in high regard and from which it benefits from it. The pollution of the environment has no effect on him. So every Ahmadi like the flowing water should keep his good works always on the move. From this, not only would we benefit ourselves but would also benefit others. Otherwise, as the Promised Messiah(as) has said that they remove themselves from their Faith and a time would come when they would be far removed from Ahmadiyyat and Islam. Or like the unclean water of the pool, you may have some traces of religion but this will be of no benefit for your future generations. Your future generations will be far removed from religion and good works. Every Ahmadi should, therefore, always try to get ahead in good works. Only then will you be like the water of the river and just as that water brings benefit to everything, you should try to benefit yourself and others. And, to bring benefit to others is that you should deliver the message of the Messiah of Prophet Muhammad(sa), the message of the Promised Messiah(as) who is the spiritual son of the Holy Prophet(sa). That message is the one which Allah sent down to the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) in order to establish Allah’s shariah (Law- Ed). When you adopt good works in this manner and act on this shariah and convey the message of good works to the world, then blessings of Allah will shower down on you in great abundance and your good works will progress further. You SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH will become ever closer to Almighty Allah. It is your duty to take this spiritual water that Allah sends down on you to others. If you do not convey this message and this spiritual water which you have received as a result of the Promised Messiah(as) to others, then you would be shutting one gate of good works on yourself unless, of course, you have a concern for your brothers and you grab their hands and haul them up so that they too begin to make progress in good works. You have a general nobility of good manners amongst your people and are influenced by good deeds. If you advance in the field of tabligh, you can bring about a revolution. You will Insha Allah (God Willing), be able to save yourselves, save your future generations and save your nation as well. So understand well your responsibilities. May Allah enable every Ahmadi man and every Ahmadi woman, every Ahmadi aged person, and every Ahmadi child to understand their responsibilities and to make progress in good works. Do not do anything which is not in the interest of the Jama’at and for its good and which is not good for the nation and which is against the well-being of the people. If by treading the paths shown by Allah, you try to establish good works and improve on them, then there can be no affair which can be a means of your ill-reputation, which brings the name of the Jama’at into disrepute and which gives the nation a bad name. Jama’at Ahmadiyya Tanzania has created many such people who rose to a high status by making progress in their good works, who advanced in piety and about whom even the Jama’at felt proud. They served their nation. Amongst our past Ahmadis is the example of Mr Amri Obedi. And I hope there will be very many in present times also. If you are concerned and worried that your end should be good so that when you come face to face before Allah, you are the one to earn the pleasure of Allah, then make progress in your worship and also advance in your good works. If you conduct yourself in accordance with divine teachings, 23 SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH The Review of Religions – September 2005 then indeed you will be the beneficiaries of His blessings. Allah is the best One to bestow, the One most honest about His promises. Allah runs towards him who walks towards Him. So if there is any weakness, it is within ourselves. We must try and remove it. Remember that a very great good work is to be loyal to your nation and to love it. In fact, according to one Hadith, to love one’s country is a part of faith. An Ahmadi should not show the love of his country by word alone but by his actions and the biggest means of achieving this is by your effort and hard work. By establishing the examples of faithful ones, bring your country into the front line amongst nations. It is such a large and beautiful and evergreen country. It is rich in natural resources. This country should have taken its place amongst the developed world. May Allah enable you to bring this about also. Always remember that an Ahmadi is a peace-loving citizen and shape your lives living within the laws of the land. Before I end, I urge you once again that whatever good things you learn during these two days, make them a part of your lives. When you return home, do not forget them. But try and establish them amongst your children and your wives. May Allah enable you to do that. May Allah make you the beneficiary of all those prayers that the Promised Messiah(as) said about those who take part in the Jalsas. Allah always keep you in His protection; and remove all your worries, sorrows and difficulties; and open up many ways of progress for this country; and may He continue to increase in your hearts your loyalty and affection for the Jama’at and the Khilafat. May He take you home safely. Amin. 24 SPIRITUAL PROGRESS TO ACHIEVE CLOSENESS TO ALLAH The Review of Religions – September 2005