Audience with Allah

Guide Posts SYMPATHY (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) “And slacken not in your zeal for the sympathy of your people.” (Quran 4:105). Sympathy comes as a great comfort to those in distress and who are in need of help of one kind or another. It serves as a tonic and is more effective than a sedative or tranquilliser. It does not only provide a measure of relief to the sufferer but also generates a glow of pleasure and satisfaction to the giver. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has said: “Whoso sympathises with one who is in distress shall have the like of his reward.” Everyone suffers in one way or another. What may seem to be a small and insignificant thing to one person may appear as a mountain to the person concerned. Nobody’s worries and problems should be looked upon with indifference or levity. It is an act of great merit to extend sympathy and understanding with kindly words of comfort and encouragement. The sympathiser is always respected and, above all, wins the approbation of God for his charity and good work. God says in the Quran: “Vie with one another in good works.” (3:15). And the Holy Prophet has said: “Every good work and every kind deed is charity.” Everyone suffers from spiritual defects and weaknesses. Some more than others. However much we may strive along the path of virtue and earnestly seek to win the pleasure of God through correct conduct we are, nevertheless, constantly in need of spiritual healing. It is incorrect to backbite and GUIDE POSTS 3 contemptuously criticise others for their sins and mistakes however much we may deplore them. The work of a doctor is to cure and alleviate sickness by giving aid to his patients. It is not for him to batter them. Likewise we should seek to remedy the faults of others — not by bitter criticism —• but through good example and sympathetic guidance. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad —• the Promised Messiah has said: “Avoid malice and deal with human beings with love and sympathy.” “Be humble in spirit, kind and gentle, forgiving and sympathetic towards all wishing them well, so that you should be accepted.” Sympathy is one of the most helpful benefits which one can bestow upon our fellow beings and one which most of us can cultivate far more. One advantage of affliction and adversity, In whatever form it may take, is that it may be turned into good account to produce valuable dividends. One who has been through an experience is in empathy with others who undergo a similar experience and is in a position to express genuine sympathy, and practical advice. This is one lesson of Islamic fasting whereby the one fasting is able to experience something of the sufferings of his less fortunate bretheren who may be on a starvation diet or even starving. His sympathy for them is extenuated. How long will it take most of us to understand the value of sympathy? There is nothing sweeter for the afflicted than practical human sympathy. Prayer and Effort Man’s nature is certainly inclined to virtue. He, therefore, needs Divine help. That is why God has commanded the recitation of Surah Fatiha in the five daily Prayers services. In it we affirm: We worship Thee; and also: We implore Thy help. This conveys that in every righteous undertaking, one should make use of one’s powers and capacities and should plan and work hard. This is the purpose of: We worship. One who devotes himself solely to prayer but does not make any effort, does not gain his purpose. If a cultivator having done the sowing, puts forth no further effort, how can he expect a good harvest? This is the way of Allah. He who sows the seed and then only prays and does nothing more will certainly reap nothing. (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) Audience with Allah (ML H. Cheema) “So let him, who hopes to meet his Lord, do good deeds, and let him associate no one in the worship of his Lord.” (Quran 18:111). Where worldly affairs are concerned we are fully aware of the etiquette and formalities we have to observe when we have to meet a person of high rank and status. We have to prepare ourselves for the occasion so that we may conduct ourselves in the proper manner otherwise we may create a poor impression of ourselves. What about Allah — our Lord the Most Exhalted One? The main purpose of our life is to meet Him and win His pleasure. The Holy Quran has provided guidance and instructions on how to prepaTe ourselves for our meeting with Allah both in this life and in the Hereafter. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “We will surely guide in Our ways those who strive after us. Verily Allah is with those who do good.” (29:70). One cannot make one jump to the top of a building. One must procure a ladder and ascend step by step with caution keeping in mind that “The higher the fall the harder the hit.” Similarly caution is required when endeavouring to climb the spiritual ladder towards Allah and one should continually seek His protection from the incitement of Satan who is ever anxious for the downfall of mankind. The Holy Quran refers to seven heavens: “He it is Who has created for your benefit all that is in the earth; then He turned towards the heavens and perfected them seven heights. He has full knowledge of all things.” (2:30). AUDIENCE WITH ALLAH 5 The seven heights represent seven conditions required for reaching the top in spirituality. They may be likened to the seven rungs of a ladder. They are: 1. Salat/Namaz. (Obligatory prayers) 2. Zikre Ellahi. (Remembrance of Allah) 3. Doaen. (Supplications, prayers) 4. Jehad. (Striving in the way of Allah) 5. Taubah-Istaghfar. (Repentence) 6. Taqwa. (Righteousness) 7. Awamar-O-Nawahi. (Do’s & Dont’s) We know that it is a privilege to interview and speak with a monarch. What greater privilege it would be than to be afforded an opportunity to be present1 before the King of Kings! The door is wide open for everyone. Nevertheless one must strive for admission; although He is so Gracious and Merciful that He manifests Himself to whomsoever He chooses. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has said that if a person crawls to God then He comes walking towards that person, and if he walks towards God then He comes running towards him. That is to say the Divine response is much quicker than the human effort. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Thou, Oman, art verily labouring towards thy Lord, a hard labouring; Then thou art going to meet Him.” (84:7). One should always keep foremost in mind the main purpose of one’s creation as stated by the Creator Himself: “And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship me.” (51:7). The primary signification of the word “ibadat” (worship) is to subject oneself to a rigorous spiritual discipline, working with utmost power and capacity and, in perfect harmony and obedience to Divine commandments, so as to assimilate and manifest in oneself His attributes. In order to achieve a goal, something must be sacrificed. “You cannot have something for nothing.” Again “Higher the goal, harder the effort.” No one can achieve anything merely through wishful thinking. Such day dreams may be called a “fool’s paradise”. The Quran stresses the importance of striving for one’s objectives: “And that man will have nothing but what he strives for.” (53:40). 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “We will surely guide in our ways who strives after us. Verily Allah is with those who do good.” (29:70). I would like to quote two extracts from the book Life Supreme by Mr. Bashir Ahmad Orchard: “Within ourselves we are but our own commanders. God has provided us with the guidance, given us the tools with which to forge our characters, and promise of His help. There is no depth to the ocean of the tranquil spirit. It is a gem of priceless value which may be discovered and possessed by the earnest person who focusses his mind upon its realisation, constantly watches over his conduct with careful attention and prays to Allah to help him succeed in this blessed aspiration.” “As physical exercises develop the muscles of the body so do mental and spiritual exercises develop the mind and soul. The achievement of an object whether it may be material or spiritual calls for constant attention backed by a strong desire to succeed. “Desire plus continued thoughts on the thing desired equals the result desired.” Salat (prescribed five daily prayers) is the first rung of the spiritual ladder. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said that salat is the me’raj of the believer which means that it serves as a means of spiritual elevation. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam (peace be on him) has said: “If a person wishes to reach a certain place he must make necessary arrangements for the journey. The further away be the destination then great preparation and efforts are required. Likewise in order to reach Allah, the Exalted, in His Court namaz (prescribed prayers) proves to be like a kind of car by which means one can reach one’s spiritual destination quickly. How far would he reach who forsakes Namaz?” (Malfuzat Vol. 5. p.255). Again he has said: “Observe prayers regularly. Some people content themselves with one prayer daily whereas they should remember that no one is exempt from them — not even the prophets. It is related in a Hadath that a number of men who had just accepted Islam requested Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) to be exempted from offering the prayers. Thereupon he said that a religion that does not demand action is no religion at all.” (Malfuzat Vol. 5. p.235). Under the heading “What is Salat?” (Prescribed prayers) he states: “It is a supplication addressed to the Lord of Honour without which a AUDIENCE WITH ALLAH 7 person cannot be. truly alive; nor can he procure any means of security; and happinness.” (Malfuzat Vol. 4. p.321).j The five daily prayers are obligatory in the prescribed manner and must therefore be observed’ at the proper times as commanded by Allah: “Observe Prayer in the prescribed form; verily ; Prayer is enjoined on the believers to be performed at fixed hours.” ‘ (4:104). It may be thought that it is a little too much to offer prayers five times a day1 and that it might become burdensome. This is not the experience of those who realise the true value of prayer and who regard it both as a nutriment for the soul and an effective means of self-purification. It is the most beneficent and profitable investment. It should be well understood that God is not in need of our worship but it is us who benefit from it as we learn from the Holy Quran: “Whoso purifies himself does so to his own benefit. To Allah is the final return.” (35:19). “He who purifies himself and remembers the name of his Lord and offers Prayer will surely prosper. But you prefer the hither life, whereas the Hereafter is better and more lasting. The same is set forth in the earlier scriptures.” (87:15-19). “O mankind, worship your Lord Who has created you and created those who were before you, that you may be shielded against all ill.” (2:22).i As a matter of fact our Gracious Lord would not care much for us if we were negligent in our prayers: “But for your prayer to Him my Lord would not care for you.” (25:78). Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — the Promised Messiah — had a vision in which this verse was revealed to him. He saw a long deep ditch with sheep laid down on one side of it and angels with knives who appeared to be awaiting orders from God to slaughter them. The Quranic verse was then revealed to him which he in turn loudly uttered. When the angels heard the verse being 8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS recited they immediately slaughtered the sheep and threw them into the ditch saying “What is your position? You are only filth-eating sheep.” The principle form of worship is Salat (prescribed prayers) which should be performed with full attention as if one is seeing God Himself. If one is unable to achieve this degree of devotion then at least one should realise that God is seeing him. The Holy Prophet has said: “One who forsakes Salat becomes a kafir.” (disbeliever) “The difference between belief and disbelief is the non-performance of Salat.” Salat, therefore, may be likened to the power switch in the “on” position which lights up the bulb. It should never be in the “off” position. With regard to the significance of Salat, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (Allah be pleased with him) has written in his book Ahmadiyyat or the True Islam’. “Islam enjoins that Salat should ordinarily be performed in congregation, so that the spirit of brotherhood may be fostered. Under this injunction a monarch must stand shoulder to shoulder with his meanest subject to perform the Salat. This striking spectacle is a reality and not a mere form. All who join in it realize that they are standing in a Presence where even a monarch must lay aside his sceptre, and become a mere servant along with his subjects. It is sometimes objected that the Salat of Islam is a mere piece of bargaining with God, as it is performed in the hope of obtaining something in return. This is exactly the reverse of the truth. Islam is the only religion which refutes this idea. It teaches that the acts of worship prescribed by it are not the selfish demands of a worldly-minded man. Their principal object is to acknowledge the favours and bounties of Allah and to render thanks to Him for all of them, without doing which a man could hardly deserve to be called man. Their second object is to seek spiritual development. As is said in the Holy Quran: ‘O Men! worship Me, so that I may favour you with My meeting, and render thanks for My favours and be not ungrateful.’ (21:153). This shows that the object of worship is to render thanks and to seek spiritual development.” God Almighty has created us. He demands that we worship him with a AUDIENCE WITH ALLAH 9 grateful and faithful heart. It is our pleasant duty to worship Him and offer Salat as enjoined by Allah in the Holy Quran: “Verily, I am Allah; there is no God beside Me. So serve Me, and observe Prayer for My remembrance.” (20:15). Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV — the Supreme Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam — is very particular and anxious about the regular and proper method of offering Salat. He has said that those employees of the Community who do not care to perform Salat should be asked to discontinue their services if they do not respond to admonishment. This indicates the importance he attached to Salat. In fact God loves those who exhort others to offer Salat as mentioned in the Quran: “He (Ishmael) used to enjoin Prayer and almsgiving on his people, and he was well pleasing to his Lord.” (19:56). Man is weak. He is in constant need of Divine help and Allah is the best of all helpers: “Dost thou not know that the kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah alone? And there is no protector or helper for you beside Allah.” (2:108). What steps should one take to obtain the help of Allah. He has provided the answer in the Holy Quran: “O ye who believe! Seek help with patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the steadfast.” (2:154). The answer is Salat. In this respect we have the example of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Whenever he faced a problem he engaged himself in earnest prayer into which he poured his heart and soul. Things which seemed impossible would be miraculously solved. One of the benefits of Salat is that it serves as an antidote against evil. The Quran states: “And observe Prayer at the two ends of the day, and in the hours of the night that

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