After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz, and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) recited verses 184 to 186 from chapter 2 of the Holy Qur’an, the translation of which 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.
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. 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.’
His Holiness (aba) said that by the Grace of Allah, Ramadan is starting in the UK tomorrow. This month has been established for our spiritual progress. God Almighty says that fasting is prescribed for you that you may attain Taqwa (righteousness). What is righteousness? The Promised Messiah (as) states that it is the recognition and fulfilment of one’s rights to God, and one’s rights to humanity.
His Holiness (aba) said that if one tries making a list of the rights owed to God and humanity, the list becomes endless. When one analyses themselves, they will find that in its true essence, it is not possible for one to truly fulfil their duties of worship to God, nor does one thank Him as much as one should. The same occurs for one’s duties towards humanity, which includes duties owed to parents, neighbours and society at large.
His Holiness (aba) said that true righteousness is to fulfil the oaths made to God Almighty to the minutest detail and fulfil the trusts He has bestowed upon mankind, and likewise in the service to humanity. Only then can one say that they have attained righteousness. Thus, God Almighty states that the month of fasting has been prescribed so that by abstaining from even that which is permissible in normal circumstances, one can increase in worship and pay closer attention to fulfilling the rights to humanity. It is only then that one can attain righteousness, and this is the very purpose of Ramadan. Observing Ramadan in this way ensures that the changes brought about in this month will not be temporary, but will remain for a lifetime. The allures of this world will not prevail over such people but their attention will always remain towards God, nor will the rights of others be usurped. If one does enter Ramadan with this intention then Ramadan will be of no benefit.
His Holiness (aba) related that the Holy Prophet (sa) once said that one who fasts for the sake of Allah, Allah establishes the distance of 70 seasons between him and the Fire. Thus, fasting does not simply establish righteousness for a month, it establishes righteousness for 70 years. Meaning that by understanding the true essence of Ramadan, a change can be brought about for a lifetime.
His Holiness (aba) said that imagine how beautiful society would become if people fasted with this spirit; a society where the rights of God would be fulfilled and the rights of humanity would also be fulfilled. Islam says that do not merely seek your own benefits and rights but also consider those of others.
His Holiness (aba) said that the current pandemic is confining people to their homes by law. An example of service to humanity has been set by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community throughout the world under its auxiliary organisation of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya [the youth of the community]; who are helping provide for those in need. This spirit which has come about should not be limited to times of emergency but should remain at all times
His Holiness (aba) said that many have been writing to him, saying that during these days, a new change has come about in their homes, through offering congregational prayers, giving dars, watching the Friday Sermon as a family and various other programmes on MTA. We should take full advantage of this opportunity that God has given us. The atmosphere which has come about in our homes should increase, as opposed to the state of worldly households wherein arguments and discontent have increased.
His Holiness (aba) then presented various quotations of the Promised Messiah (as), on the subject of attaining true Taqwa. The Promised Messiah (as) explained that true righteousness is to abstain from all evils, in fact not even drawing near to them. Not only must one strive with their efforts in this cause, but these efforts must also be accompanied by prayers. Mere efforts or mere prayer are not enough, both must join together. This is the same philosophy presented at the very beginning of the Holy Qur’an, ‘Thee Alone do we worship and Thee Alone do we implore for help.’ Thus, utilising the faculties given to us by God, one must strive to make every effort. Then after having done so, one must pray to God, that they have done all they could and now turn to Him for His Divine help.
His Holiness (aba) quoted the Qur’anic verse ‘And as for those who strive in Our path — We will surely guide them in Our ways. And verily Allah is with those who do good,’ (29:70) which shows that one must strive and make efforts in the way of Allah. He then presented the verse ‘Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer’ (40:61) showing that one must also employ the use of prayer alongside their efforts. This is the way in which righteousness can be attained. Taqwa beautifies one’s deeds and enables them to attain the pleasure of Allah.
His Holiness (aba) presented another instance where the Promised Messiah (as) said that Taqwa is to bring a death upon one’s self. One is naturally attracted to apparent worldly desires, whereas the fruits of spirituality are hidden. First one must bring a death upon the physical desires, then will the hidden pleasures of spirituality become apparent. Thus the Promised Messiah (as) urged the entire community to extinguish their love for worldly desires, and work towards attaining righteousness, just as children practice writing. First they write crooked but keep practicing and eventually their writing becomes neat and clear. So too should one strive in improving in righteousness. When Allah sees that that effort is being made in this regard, He then makes them fruitful. Then do one’s desires subside, like the throwing of water upon a fire.
His Holiness (aba) stated that another point of emphasis is the community’s dealings with one another. Members must abstain from quarrelling over small disputes, which lead to the open spreading of one another’s weaknesses and faults.
His Holiness (aba) stated that the root of every good is belief in Allah. If one’s belief is weak, so too will his deeds. When one has firm faith in Allah, then his deeds will also be pure and good. One who has firm belief in Allah cannot be inclined to doing evil. When one falls upon God’s threshold with complete humility and meekness then will his prayers be heard and righteousness be attained. This is the level of righteousness which the Promised Messiah (as) has drawn our attention toward and we should strive to attain. We should pray to God to attain this level, and pray to fulfil the expectations of the Promised Messiah (as).
His Holiness (aba) then commented on the Qur’anic verses which excuse one from fasting under certain circumstances, saying that true righteousness necessitates complete obedience. Thus, where there are genuine reasons then these injunctions can be taken advantage of, but excuses for not fasting should not pointedly be sought out. This is a matter for which one must take fatwa (decision) from one’s self. The Promised Messiah (as) says that one who is happy upon the arrival of Ramadan and was looking forward to it, but due to some illness cannot observe the fasts, his intention however will still be accepted in the heavens. But there are those who create excuses which they convince themselves are good enough reasons to excuse them of fasting. It is easy to come up with excuses. But God knows a person’s true intentions, He is the Knower of the Unseen. God knows who is sincere and who merely makes excuses and thus deals with them accordingly.
His Holiness (aba) said that these days, people have been asking as to whether fasting is still incumbent in light of the circumstances and the increased risk of illness. His Holiness (aba) said that everyone should analyse their own condition and make their own judgement. He said that he has consulted various doctors around the world on the matter, and their opinion is divided. They say that there is no specific evidence to suggest that fasting would make one more prone to illness, however if there are any indications or symptoms of illness, then one should stop fasting right away. His Holiness (aba) advised to drink lots of water at the closing and opening of the fast, and if possible eat such foods that help retain water.
His Holiness (aba) said Pray to Allah for the ability to fast and may Allah enable people to recognise Him. May Allah eradicate this pandemic quickly and have mercy on the world. May Ahmadis fulfil the rights of God and humanity and benefit from the blessings of Ramadan.
His Holiness (aba) said that in such straitened and challenging circumstances, the possibility for war increases as well. Worldly governments seek to divert the attention of the masses through various means which cause even more detriment.
His Holiness (aba) at the end prayed that may Allah give wisdom to the governments of the world and may they not make any decision that leads the world to further destruction. May they make their policies with wisdom, and may God help those scientists who are searching for a cure to this pandemic.