His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) is a beaming beacon of Divine guidance and support. His Holiness (aba) represents the highest level of a connection with God in today’s world. Thus, he is the spiritual leader for tens of millions across the world and champions the message of fulfilling the rights owed to God and fulfilling the duties we owe to our fellow human beings. Over the course of his Friday Sermons, addresses on various occasions, meetings with different organizations and children’s classes, His Holiness (aba) imparts invaluable knowledge and insight on a remarkably vast array of topics.
The Review of Religions in honored to present some of these ‘Rays of Wisdom’ from His Holiness (aba) taken from various different sources, for the benefit of its readers.
Can Women Slaughter Animals?
Over time, the false notion has arisen that the religion of Islam restricts women by not affording them equal rights. This of course is far from the truth, as it was in fact the religion of Islam which granted women their due rights and emancipated them from the grips of inequality. Islam empowers women and grants them equal opportunity. However, due to what has incorrectly become common belief, questions may arise as to what women can and cannot do. The same curioustiy arose in a youngster who asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Can a woman slaughter an animal?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘Yes you can; if you have the courage to slaughter the animal you can do it, no problem. But one thing is that you should use a very sharp knife and then use your full force so that the animal should not be in pain; immediately, just slaughter it with one go. So, if you have the courage then you can do it. Who says that it is only the particular job of a man?’ 
Is it Possible to Enjoy Worldly Comforts and Still Be True to Faith?
The primary purpose of religion is to help man recognise and establish a connection with God. Islam teaches that the very purpose of our creation is so we may worship God.  In order to achieve this purpose of establishing a connection with God, Islam teaches that it is necessary for one to safeguard themselves from becoming enticed and immersed in the allures of this world. The more one inclines towards worldliness, the more they move away from God. Does this mean however, that one must completely shun the world? Is it entirely impermissible to enjoy any sort of comfort in this world? Or is there a way to strike a balance between both the world and faith? This was the question on the mind of one youngster who asked His Holiness (aba), ‘Can one enjoy the comforts of this world while still remaining true to their faith as a Muslim?’
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘If you are discharging your duties towards religion, you are offering five daily prayers with full concentration and you are doing justice with your prayers, and you are praying istighfar [prayer for seeking forgiveness] and remembering Allah Almighty during the daytime, and you are not doing bad things; and if, at the same time, you are doing your own job and working for somebody and getting enough money, and you are working and doing a lucrative job, where you get enough money. Then, although you are earning money and you are enjoying the worldly things as well, you are using your car, you are wearing good dress, and you are living in a good house, these are all things which are necessary for today’s life and they give you comfort, and ease and you can enjoy them. But you should not go after only these worldly things and forget Allah Almighty. If you remember Allah Almighty, and achieve all these things and use all these things for the betterment of your life, for your children, for your family, then you can do it. It only means that those people who think this world is the only thing we have to live in, and we should forget about our duties we owe to Allah Almighty then it becomes a hell for you. Although in your eyes it becomes a paradise for you, but in the eyes of Allah Almighty, it is not good for you. But for a person who always discharges the duties towards Allah Almighty, and discharges his duties to his fellow beings, and follows all the commandments of Allah Almighty, then it might be somehow hard for him to discharge all these duties, but even then, people may think that it is a hell for him. But Allah Almighty says, although you think it is hell for him, but he is making paradise in Heaven, in the Hereafter. So, you can enjoy all these worldly things, but at the same time, discharge your duty towards Allah Almighty, and follow all the commandments which Allah Almighty has given.’ 
Cremation Vs. Burial
There are varying beliefs and practices across religions when it comes to the matter of honouring the deceased. Over the years, cremation has become more popular, whereas the more traditional way would be burial. This has given rise to conversations regarding which method is more effective, more honourable, and should be more widely accepted. In Islam, the practice, as taught by God and His Prophet (sa) is to bury the deceased. One youngster asked His Holiness (aba) what the best method is to convince others that burying the deceased is more respectful than cremation?
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘There are traditions in each and every religion. Even Hindus, they cremate their dead bodies, and even Christians now do the same thing. But the best way of giving respect to the dead body is that you cover it in a cloth and put it in a coffin and then bury it under the ground and then put some gravestone on it, and then you will remember it. So, this is the best way, instead of destroying the body by burning. So, the best way is to keep it as it is, and then leave it to God. After some time, the body itself will get rotten, and only bones will be left there. So, this is what Islam has taught us; that the best way to respect the dead bodies is to cover with the cloth and bury it. This is why we have adopted this tradition. And this is the best way, which, from a very early age, people used to do. Every religion has their own way of giving respect to their dead bodies, and this is the way Islam says that we should adopt, and we have been doing it. If we don’t argue and say something ill about their teachings, why should they argue and say something about our religion, or make some objections on our religion’s teachings? So, you see, I think instead of discussing these petty matters, we should live amicably and leave aside what our traditions are; but we should respect each other. This is the best way of living together.’ 
How Does His Holiness (aba) Begin and Break His Fast?
The month of Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for all Muslims. It serves as a time of reflection, increased worship and a heightened sense of spirituality. A key component of Ramadan, which is a means of focusing more on the spiritual than the worldly, is fasting from dawn till dusk. Hence, Muslims abstain from all sorts of food and drink throughout the day. In light of this, there are traditionally two meals in the day, one before dawn to begin the fast, known as suhoor (or sehri) and the other meal is after sunset in order to open the fast, known as iftar (or iftari). One youngster asked his Holiness (aba) how he opens and closes his fast.
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘What do I like to eat in sehri [pre-dawn meal before keeping the fast] and iftari [meal after sunset to break the fast]? Whatever I usually have for breakfast, I have the same for sehri and whatever meal I usually eat [in the evenings], I have the same for iftari. At the time of iftari, since it was the sunnah [practise] of the Holy Prophet (sa), I eat dates [in order to open the fast]. Other than that, I do not eat pakoras [spiced fritters], samosas [savory pastry] or chaats [savory snack], or other unnecessary dishes like you all do. I do not eat so much that I become unconfortable after the iftari and even struggle to wake up in the morning for the fast. Therefore, keep the same routine and then you will enjoy your sehri as well.
As a society we have made it a tradition that we must certainly eat something special during the sehri and iftari meals during Ramadan. We unnecessarily end up increasing expenditure. On the one hand, the expenditure on food increases unnecessarily and on the other hand, one’s stomach also becomes discomforted. Then after keeping the fast, one is left feeling lazy for the entire day. The true enjoyment of the fast is in maintaining the routine diet and in beginning and breaking the fast with the same kinds of food one normally eats. Then, the money that is saved by not eating lavish foods at iftari should be donated to charity.’ 
The True Essence of Ramadan
Although fasting and abstaining from food is a primary, and perhaps the most visible aspect of Ramadan, the true essence of Ramadan is far greater. In fact, fasting is just a means to attaining the true spirit and essence of Ramadan. Explaining this, and outlining what the true essence of Ramadan is, His Holiness (aba) stated on one occasion:
‘Allah Almighty says that the reason why the month of Ramadan has arrived, and your attention has been drawn towards fasting is so that you may make up and fulfil any of your shortcomings and weaknesses of the past 11 months. And this is to be done whilst turning your attention purely towards Allah Almighty, abstaining from even the lawful things purely for His sake, tolerating hunger and thirst for His sake, paying greater attention towards the worship of Allah Almighty than before and whilst paying particular attention towards fulfilling the rights of His creation.
When one fulfils these injunctions, this in essence is true taqwa [righteousness] and this is the very purpose of Ramadan and fasting. When a person observes the fast and passes through the month of Ramadan with this objective and for this purpose and does so with pure intentions then this will not bring about a temporary transformation, rather it will be a permanent change. Furthermore, one’s attention will constantly be turned towards fulfilling the rights of Allah and towards fulfilling the rights of His worship.
Such an individual will not be overcome by worldly endeavours and vain pursuits and he will also pay attention towards fulfilling the rights of mankind. Such an individual will not usurp the rights of people for his personal interests. Thus, if we are not entering the month of fasting with this intention and objective then this month of Ramadan will be of no benefit.
The Holy Prophet (sa) stated on one occasion that the person who observes the fast for the sake of Allah the Almighty and in order to seek His grace, Allah the Almighty places a gap of 70 seasons between his face and the hellfire. 
The difference between one season and the following season is an entire year, thus Allah the Almighty creates a distance of 70 years. Hence, these are the blessings of fasting and this is the taqwa that is developed within a person as a result.
The observation of fasts does not create taqwa for merely 30 days, rather a true fast leaves its impact for 70 years. Furthermore, if we look at it from this perspective that if a Muslim, who has reached the age of maturity and upon whom fasting is obligatory, truly derives benefit from fasting and understands its true spirit and observes it accordingly, then they will continue to benefit for the rest of their lives from the blessings which Allah Almighty has placed in fasting. Moreover, such an individual will continue to search for the different avenues of attaining taqwa.’ 
Fasting During the Pandemic
Once again, Muslims all over the world are having to experience the holy month of Ramadan during a global pandemic. Naturally, there has been a heightened awareness surrounding health and well-being. Similarly, Islam teaches that fasting during Ramadan is mandatory for those who are of sound health, and grants exemption to those who are ill. In light of the prevailing conditions of the world and the state of the current pandemic, some may wonder as to whether they should fast during the month of Ramadan. Many posed the same question to His Holiness (aba) as well. Explaining the matter, His Holiness (aba) once said:
‘Owing to the current pandemic, many people are asking that their throats will become dry and this could increase the chances of contracting the virus, therefore should they fast? In this regard, I will not give a general fatwa [edict] or decision, in fact I always reply that one should assess their own condition and make a decision for themselves with pure intentions of the heart and whilst adhering to taqwa [righteousness].
The instruction of the Holy Qur’an is very clear; that one who is sick should not fast. But to simply not fast because one could potentially become sick is not right. As mentioned earlier, the Promised Messiah (as) has stated that in such an instance, one excuse would lead to another and thus, there will be an endless chain of excuses.
If someone claims that doctors have said that this could lead to problems, then I have sought the opinions of various medical experts and they also have varying opinions on this.
Some of the doctors have clearly stated that there is no evidence to suggest that fasting will definitely cause one to contract the virus. However, if someone develops symptoms such as a cough or a fever or any other symptoms, then they should not fast and if they have started the fast, they should break it. Those doctors who lean towards the opinion that one should not fast or they stipulate certain conditions which lead to the conclusion that it is better for one to not fast, even their opinion is not clear.
On the one hand, they caution from fasting and on the other hand, they say that one may keep them by taking care of their diet. However, those who are less affluent do not have the provisions to be so selective in relation to their diet.
In any case, taking into consideration the various opinions, it generally seems that there is no harm in fasting. But, if one has even the slightest doubt [in regard to developing the symptoms], they should immediately stop fasting.
Some are of the opinion that if a person himself is healthy, but a household member is ill, even then they should not fast. However, the opinion of other doctors is that there is no justification for this. Nevertheless, whilst breaking the fast and at the time of keeping the fast, one should drink plenty of water. Those who are more concerned and also have the provisions should try to eat such foods which help retain the water in the body.
Hence, since there are varying opinions of doctors – which includes doctors from the USA, Germany and here [in the UK] – therefore we should be mindful of not abstaining from the fasts without any reason, lest we become counted amongst those regarding whom the Promised Messiah (as) states that they rely on offering justifications and interpretations. Indeed, it is imperative that one takes all precautionary measures.’ 
- Meeting with Nasiratul Ahmadiyya Australia, 21 March 2021
- The Holy Qur’an 51:57
- Meeting with Nasiratul Ahmadiyya Australia, 21 March 2021
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Jihad Wa Al-Siyar, Hadith no. 2840
- Friday Sermon 24 April 2020