The Coronavirus pandemic has been a devastating period of time for the entire world. People have been made to figure out how to re-adjust their lives in order to maintain some sense of normalcy. The Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has always been accustomed to meeting hundreds of people from his community in his office on a daily basis. Ahmadi Muslims from all over the world flock to the UK where His Holiness (aba) resides, in order to spend even just a few moments in his company. Due to the pandemic, all of that came to a halt.
However, by the grace of God, through the blessings of modern-day technology, His Holiness (aba) has been able to reach more members of his community during this pandemic than ever before, through virtual meetings. Even those who could not travel to see their beloved Caliph, have now been afforded the opportunity to be ‘face to face’ with their Divinely appointed leader.
The Review of Religions has the honor of presenting some excerpts from these weekly meetings for the benefit of its readers.
This week, His Holiness (aba) held two virtual audiences; the first of which was in Ghana, with members of the National Administrative Body of the Community, along with local Missionaries.
Using Resources to End Poverty
His Holiness (aba) served in Ghana for eight years as a life-devotee. It was during this time that he personally made historic strides in agriculture, the benefits of which are being reaped to this day. Thus, it is a matter very dear to His Holiness’ (aba) heart. During this meeting, His Holiness (aba) advised the National Administrative Body of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana to work with the government in ensuring that these resources are used to help eliminate poverty and increase the standard of life. His Holiness (aba) said,
‘You should have personal contact with all your politicians, and especially members of parliament; and make them understand that they should work for the betterment of the nation, so that the country can prosper. Otherwise – you see – you have so many natural resources and with these resources you can ask your politicians that – at least – they should help the country. They should help the country’s people and improve the economic condition and political condition of the country.’
Prayers During a Tense Election
The National President and Missionary in-charge of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana said to His Holiness (aba),
‘We need prayers for our country; in about a week’s time we will be going into general elections, and there’s a lot of tension, because the two contestant parliamentary candidates – presidential candidates – each has been a one-time president and they are both now struggling to get a second term again; that makes it quite tense. So we need prayers for peace to reign in our country.’
His Holiness (aba) prayed,
‘If the present government has done well for the country, for the people of the country, then they will win. Otherwise, I pray that some other people come and take the government, who are helpful and useful for the country and work for the country honestly and sincerely. God-Willing!’
The second virtual audience with His Holiness (aba) was held with youth in Germany.
How Can the Youth Dispel Islamophobia?
For many years, Islamophobia has been on the rise. Especially in light of recent events in the world, it has become more of a hot topic than ever before. This undoubtedly leaves questions in the minds of young Muslims, as to what they can do, in order to show the world that the Islam they know is a beautiful religion. For example, one youngster asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Due to the current circumstances prevalent these days, non-Muslims have a fear of Muslims. How can we dispel these fears and grant them reassurance?’
His Holiness (aba) replied:
‘Although non-Muslims may fear Muslims, we have always undertaken efforts and endeavored [to eradicate this fear] for the past many years. That is why I hold peace symposiums, and also why I have told you to hold peace symposiums as well. It is for this very reason I have said that you should distribute pamphlets promoting peace, thus explaining the true teachings of Islam to the people. The true teachings of Islam are that of love and affection, and when you explain this to people, their fears will be removed. The greater our efforts will be, the more awareness we will be able to spread amongst people, and then they will come to know about the true teachings of Islam. Therefore, we should endeavour to spread these teachings to as many people as possible, including our friends. You have friends in school who are students like yourself, right? Explain the true teachings of Islam to them; the true teachings of Islam are that of love and affection. Islam does not permit any kind of warfare or Jihad [with the sword]. As a matter of fact, the conditions under which Islam permitted warfare and Jihad – when the first commandment about Jihad was revealed – Allah Almighty clearly stated in the Holy Qur’an that Muslims were only permitted to undertake Jihad because people were inflicting cruelties upon the Muslims, and if the Muslims did not stop them from committing these cruelties, then Churches, Jewish Synagogues, Temples and Mosques would all be destroyed. Thus, permission for Jihad given by Islam is for the sole purpose of securing and protecting religion. Under no circumstances does Islam permit Jihad [with the sword] or the killing of people in order to spread one’s religion; in fact, Islam says that if you see someone attacking a Christian Church, it is the duty of a Muslim to go and help to save that Christian Church. Islam says that if anyone attacks a Jewish Synagogue, then you should go to help save that Jewish Synagogue. Similarly, Islam instructs that if someone is attacking a Hindu Temple, then you should go to help and protect it; and Islam also says that one should protect your own Mosques as well. Thus, Islam grants protection to everyone; therefore, you ought to openly explain to your friends that this is what is written in the Holy Qur’an. These jihadists or extremists who claim to be Muslims, are actually spreading false ideologies which have nothing to do with Islam; they are not spreading the teachings of Islam. So, explain these things to the people, alright? When you explain these things to them, they will realise that Islam is a religion which actually establishes peace and love.’
Should We Take the Covid-19 Vaccine?
It is widely regarded that the only path to ending the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic is through the development of a vaccine. Though certain pharmaceutical companies have shown promising results in their development of a vaccine, there are many who have concerns and wonder whether or not they should take the vaccine. With this in mind, one youngster asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Should we take the new vaccine for the Coronavirus that has recently been developed? What would you advise in this regard?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘If it is proven as an effective cure and if the government advises to get vaccinated then you may take the vaccine, there is no harm in that. But first, it should be seen whether it actually benefits those who have already been vaccinated. Do not take the vaccine simply for sake of taking a vaccine; if it is proven to be beneficial, then one should definitely take the vaccine, there is no harm in that.’
What is the Need for Prayer?
A common question which often arises, especially in the developing and inquisitive minds of the youth, is the need for prayer, even though it is taught that God has power over all things and determines each person’s destiny. Wondering the same thing, a youngster asked His Holiness (aba), ‘If Allah Almighty has decreed our destiny – as it is said that He has determined our destiny – then why do we pray? What is the need for prayer?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘Certain types of destiny cannot be averted, while others can be averted; and this is why we pray. Take death for example; everyone must die. It is a proven fact that all must die and no one can live forever as this is the decree of Allah Almighty. However, if a person falls ill and his condition reaches a stage where doctors say that he is close to dying, but we still pray, and God Almighty accepts our prayers by bringing that person back from the brink of death and grants them life. Thus, this [is the example of] a decree of God Almighty which was averted through prayer. As a result, this person may ultimately go on to live to an age of 70, 80 or 90, but as the Promised Messiah (as) has written, ‘One may live to a hundred but in the end we must depart.’ Even if a person lives to a hundred years of age, they must die eventually. But, if one is close to dying whilst still in their youth and we pray for them, then God Almighty can avert it and thus grant them a long life. There are many examples like this; people write to me for prayers to which I reply and by the grace of Allah those prayers are accepted. People also write about their own incidents where they supplicated [to God] and through their prayers, God Almighty averted a misfortune which was about to befall them. Thus, everything happens in accordance with the decree of God Almighty, but if we do not pray or make an effort with regards to our destiny, then the result of not doing so will come to light. Hence, the reason we pray is so that we may delay those aspects of God Almighty’s decree which can be delayed and thus bring about a better outcome. God Almighty has placed two paths before us – one which is beneficial and one which is harmful. If we obey Allah Almighty, we shall avail of the decree which is beneficial for us, and it is for this reason that we make efforts and supplicate. But if we do not obey God Almighty, and if we neither make the right effort nor pray, then the negative aspect of that decree will manifest itself. Hence, there are two types of destiny – one which can be averted, and the other which cannot be averted. The decrees which cannot be averted are the verdicts of God Almighty which will unequivocally come to pass; God Almighty does not accept prayers with regards to these decrees and they cannot be averted. As for the decrees which can be averted, God Almighty can prevent them through one’s prayers and efforts. This is why God Almighty has instructed that we should pray, [and by doing so He says] not only will you form a bond with Me, but your faith in Me will also strengthen, and as a result you will advance further in your faith and spirituality and you shall reap the benefits thereof.’
What is the Purpose of Our Lives?
Similarly, on a broader level, one may wonder what the very purpose of our lives is, if God – being the All-Knowing – already has knowledge of our eventual fate. It was regarding this that a youngster asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Does God Almighty already know if we will go to heaven or hell? If He knows then what is the purpose of our lives?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘You see, on the one hand, there is the knowledge which God Almighty posseses, and then there are our deeds and actions. Indeed, God Almighty knows whether or not someone will go to hell, however, God Almighty shows people the path whereby if they do good deeds, they will go to heaven, and if they commit evil deeds they will go to hell. This is why one should pray for a good end, so that when our end does come and it is time for us to pass, [we pray] that we are counted among those who obey the commandments of God Almighty, thus enabling us to enter paradise. The Holy Qur’an has also taught us the prayer in which we pray that Allah the Almighty causes us to die at a time when He is pleased with us and that we enter paradise and attain the pleasure of God Almighty. Furthermore, there is the Rahmaniyyat [grace] of God Almighty which grants a person forgiveness.
There is a narration about a man who was very sinful and had committed a total of 99 murders. He realized that he was a very evil person and that he should reform himself so that Allah Almighty may become pleased with him and allow him to enter paradise. So he went to a religious cleric and told him about his sins and how many murders he had committed in his life, and asked whether he could still be permitted to enter paradise? The cleric was very extreme in his views and responded by saying: ‘No! There is absolutely no chance of you entering Paradise. You will most certainly be sent to the hellfire.’ So the man killed the cleric as well, thinking that since he had already committed 99 murders, he may as well reach a total of 100. After having committed 100 murders, he then asked someone else if there was any way he could please God. The person who he asked responded by saying that he should go and see such and such person who lived in a particular city, as that person would be able to tell him the right method by which he could please Allah. Whilst on his journey to see that particular individual, he passed away. When he died, Allah Almighty made it so that the place of his death was further away from the city in which he had committed all those murders, and he was closer to the destination of his journey. This account is in metaphorical terms. Then, Allah Almighty commanded His Angels to go and determine the verdict regarding this man. Thus, both Angels went; one of them wanted to take him to hell whilst the other wanted to take him to paradise. Subsequently, there was a dispute between both Angels; the one who wanted to take him to the hellfire was adamant about taking him there, saying that he had committed 100 murders and therefore was going to request God to send him to the hellfire. However, the other Angel was adamant about taking him to paradise and said that God Almighty had sent him to measure the distance he had covered in his journey [to seek forgiveness]. Eventually, the two Angels agreed that they would measure the distance, and if he was closer to the city that he was journeying towards in order to have his sins forgiven then he would enter paradise. But if he was closer to the city from which he had left having committed a murder, then he would go to hell. As I already explained, God had shortened the distance between him and his destination, and when they measured the distance, they found that he was closer to the city towards which he was travelling in order to have his sins forgiven. He was closer to his destination and further from the origin of his journey just by the span of one hand [His Holiness (aba) held up his hand to show the distance] and thus, Allah Almighty granted him forgiveness and he entered Paradise. This was the mercy of Allah Almighty.
Similarly, there is another narration in which a man once asked someone if he would be forgiven? The person to whom he posed this question responded by saying that he will not be forgiven because he was a very sinful person. Upon this, Allah Almighty asked the individual who deemed himself to be very pious and offered a lot of prayers that, ‘what gives you the authority to decide who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?’ It so happened that both individuals died at the same time and were presented before Allah the Almighty. Subsequently, the person who deemed himself to be pious, as if he had been granted a ‘guarantee’ to enter paradise, and had told the other individual that he would go to hell, was told by Allah the Almighty that he had no such guarantee and instead would be sent to the hellfire, and the other individual regarding whom he had said that he would go to hell was allowed to enter paradise. This is the mercy of Allah Almighty, therefore, it is our duty to continue to strive in seeking the pleasure of Allah Almighty. Allah has knowledge of all things and at the same time, He is also the Omnipotent and All-Powerful, as well as the Merciful and the Forgiving. Therefore, if God wills, He can change His decision and one’s destiny. If Allah Almighty has the power to do everything then He also has the power to change His decision. So one should not think that since Allah Almighty might have already decreed that they will go to hell, they may as well continue committing sins and eat unlawful things such as the flesh of swine, drinking alcohol and other sins, and assume that since they have already committed so many sins, it’s unlikely that God will forgive them. Allah the Almighty says that this is not the case; in fact, He says that one should continue to strive in doing good because He can grant forgiveness even in one’s final stages of life.
Therefore you should try to attain Allah Almighty’s forgiveness from the very start, and then pray to Allah throughout your life to have a good end and to continue performing virtuous deeds. This is why we should continue to make efforts in this regard, alright? Allah the Almighty is the Master, therefore He has the authority to do whatever He wills. He can also forgive someone at the very last stage of their life. You may think that you are sinful and Allah Almighty may not forgive you, but Allah Almighty says that if He can forgive someone who committed 100 murders, then he can also forgive you.
A Warning for the Future
One question which is certainly on the minds of many, is whether or not the world will ever go back to the normal we once knew before the Covid-19 pandemic. One youngster asked His Holiness (aba) about his opinion on the matter, ‘Will the world ever return to its previous pre-COVID-19 ‘normal’ state?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘Allah Almighty knows best what the future holds. Even if things may return to normal, it is clear that after the Coronavirus pandemic, the world will have to bear the devastating economic consequences. Even if there is no physical warfare or major conflict, it will still take years for the global economic situation to stabilize. However, we learn from history that when there are deep-rooted economic problems, more often than not they lead to warfare. Judging by the current situation of the world, it does seem like the precursory conditions for warfare are manifesting.
If, a war breaks out after the Coronavirus pandemic, then the situation in the world will become even more perilous and it will take many years for the situation of the world to return to normal. So we must pray that may Allah Almighty grant sense and wisdom to the people and nations of the world so that instead of being engulfed by materialistic desires and instead of usurping the rights of one another, the world’s leaders and nations can be sensible and strive for peace and harmony. Everyone’s goal should be that the world becomes more united and the situation swiftly returns to normal. If such efforts are not made, then it will take many years for the situation to return to normal and a very dire situation will unfold.
I fear it is quite possible that war or conflict could break out after this Coronavirus pandemic ends and its ruinous effects could last for many years before things return to normality. Thus, we must pray that wars do not break out and that world leaders act sensibly so that the global situation can stabilise as quickly as possible and return to normal. In order to achieve this, it is necessary for humanity to turn towards God Almighty. If the world does not turn to God, then they will have see more pandemics or other calamities in the future as a form of punishment. Thus, the situation will not return to normal until humanity bows down before God and fulfils His rights and the rights owed to His Creation. Therefore, we as Ahmadis must strive more than ever for this purpose and carry out Tabligh [propagating the message of Islam], and tell the world that there is only one solution to help the global situation return to normal and that is for humanity to turn towards God Almighty and prostrate before Him and fulfil His rights and the rights owed to His creation.’
This week, His Holiness delivered his Friday Sermon from Islamabad, Tilford, UK, On December 4, 2020 in which he continued highlighting incidents from the life of the Fourth Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Ali (ra).
Timely Payment of the Dowry
During the sermon, His Holiness (aba) narrated an incident regarding the marriage of Hazrat Ali (ra) to Hazrat Fatimah (ra), which holds a lesson for everyone to this day. His Holiness (aba) said,
‘The marriage between Hazrat Ali (ra) and Hazrat Fatimah (ra) took place in 2 A.H. Hazrat Ali (ra) requested the Holy Prophet (sa) for her hand in marriage, to which he happily agreed. Hazrat Anas (ra) narrates that both Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) and Hazrat Umar (ra) had asked for Hazrat Fatimah (ra)’s hand in marriage, but the Holy Prophet (sa) remained silent on the matter and did not give them an answer. Hazrat Ali (ra) narrates, ‘I went to the Holy Prophet (sa) and requested if he would give Hazrat Fatimah (ra)’s hand in marriage to me. The Holy Prophet (sa) asked: ‘Do you have anything to give for the Haq Mehr [dowry given by the husband to the wife]?’ I said, ‘I have a horse and chain mail’. The Holy Prophet (sa) said: ‘You will require your horse, but you can sell your chainmail.’ Thus I sold my chain mail for 480 dirhams to arrange for my Haq Mehr.‘
People often think that they can set the Haq Mehr as they please and will worry about paying it later, whereas the Holy Prophet (sa) has ordered to make provisions for the Haq Mehr. This means that this is a right of the wife and should be given immediately. Some people write to me saying that their wife has made a demand asking for Haq Mehr, even though they were living happily together. If they make this request, then this is their right and should be given immediately. Failing to do so can then lead to quarrels. Also some people claim that this [i.e. Haq Mehr] is something that should be settled during divorce settlements, whereas this has no link with divorce settlements.’
Prayers for Pakistan
Towards the end of his sermon, His Holiness (aba) urged members of the Community to pray for Ahmadis in Pakistan, and conditions there continue to worsen. His Holiness (aba) said,
‘The situation in Pakistan nowadays is getting worse and worse. Whilst following the maulvis [religious clerics] and conspiring with them, some government officials are making efforts to cause us as much harm as possible. Therefore, pray especially in this regard. May Allah Almighty protect the Ahmadis there, who are living in Rabwah and in the other cities and protect them from the evil of these people. May He safeguard them from their extremely perilous schemes and seize them swiftly.’