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 and 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 each 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 is honoured to present some of these ‘Rays of Wisdom’ from His Holiness (aba) taken from various sources, for the benefit of its readers.
How Can We Know That We’re Making Spiritual Progress?
Islam teaches that the fundamental purpose of our creation is to worship God and fulfil the rights owed to Him. The ultimate goal is to establish a living connection with God, attain His love and pleasure, and to continuously progress in spirituality. But as we continue on this journey and endeavour to achieve our life’s purpose, is it possible to know what stage we are at and what rank we have achieved? A person once asked His Holiness (aba) how we can know whether we are moving from one spiritual rank to the next.
His Holiness (aba) replied:
‘The task of a believer is to continuously strive [in spiritual development]. One should not focus on what their current spiritual rank is or what the next rank is. Allah the Almighty knows best what the limit of a person’s [spiritual] rank is and where the next rank begins. So, as a believer, you must simply continue to progress in performing good deeds and continuously to strive in this regard; you must undertake the jihad [struggle] of purifying yourself continuously. When a person realises that righteous changes are developing within them and that they are developing a relationship with Allah the Almighty, then such a person is not concerned about achieving the next rank or about attaining the highest levels of sainthood. Instead, such a person is only concerned with how they can attain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty; they endeavour to never forsake the bond and relationship they have developed with Allah the Almighty. As soon as person thinks that they have reached a certain spiritual rank, then arrogance begins creeping into their mind and arrogance is an incredibly bad thing. It was arrogance that prevented Iblis from being obedient [to God]. So, one must always strive to understand that their only purpose is to act upon the commandments of Allah the Almighty in order to attain His pleasure; and there are many commandments of God Almighty. So how can you learn about these different ranks? First, you should search from within the Holy Qur’an – there are about 700 commandments in the Holy Qur’an, and in some instances that Promised Messiah (as) has even said that there are 1200. So, have you acted upon all these 700 or 1200 commandments? Have you truly searched for them? When you have found these commandments and acted upon them, only then you can think about attaining the next rank. In fact, then Allah the Almighty Himself grants such a person greater ranks; These ranks cannot be achieved through one’s own efforts. So, it is the task of a believer to constantly – with great humility and meekness – strive to attain the love and pleasure of Allah the Almighty and act upon His commandments, and strive to excel in this cause to the best of one’s ability. If one is mindful of this, then they will continue to achieve spiritual progress. Allah the Almighty has established a scale in order to determine the steps one has reached and then what the next steps are. People cannot judge their own spiritual rank for themselves. It is a righteous person’s job to remain on the path of righteousness, act upon the commandments of Allah the Almighty and strive to attain His love and pleasure. This is our objective and we should continuously strive to achieve it. This is an ongoing struggle, and ongoing Jihad. This is the Jihad which grants a person nearness to Allah the Almighty and then Allah the Almighty Himself reveals to His people as to what their rank is in His view.’ 
How Can We Prevent Children from Wasting Time Online?
In this era when digital content and entertainment is so easily accessible, and the world wide web is right at our fingertips, children of all ages are at risk of being exposed to an array of inappropriate content. Along with this, there are trends of prolonged gaming seen amongst children, so much so that it resembles a sort of addiction. Children and teenagers are spending more and more time in front of screens and less time being productive and focusing on meaningful self-development. His Holiness (as) was asked about how children could be prevented from wasting so much time on the internet and games.
His Holiness (aba) replied:
‘Now, even scientists and doctors say that [these things] affect children’s eyesight and their thinking, which is why, within a span of 24-hours, children should not be allowed to use the internet, play video games and watch TV for more than one hour. But these days, since schools are closed and studies have come to a halt due to the Coronavirus, children are mostly studying online. In any case, there are such games which waste not only time, but money as well. They purchase the game and then just as a person becomes addicted to certain things, so too do children become addicted to playing games and cannot go without it. While playing these games, indecent and lewd advertisements also appear. When these advertisements appear as they are playing, then the children’s minds are become poisoned from a young age. Then, when they grow older, they go down the wrong path. Therefore, parents should firstly be aware of the games that their children are playing or the programmes they are watching on the internet or the TV and should supervise. They should also supervise to ensure that they do not watch anything outside of the allotted time. It should be explained to them that their vision will weaken and their minds will be impacted and so it is better for them to read books instead, which are better for the brain’s development. Aside from this, arrange different activities for them, speak to them, sit with them, hold discussions with them, and if they still insist, then try to show them such programmes online or on the television which will help them improve them academically and spiritually, and will also enable them to develop a higher level of wisdom. Thus, you have to do all these things. However, it is extremely important that the parents keep a close eye on what their children are watching. If the parents themselves are not well-educated and the children, who are still studying, are spending their time playing games and the parents do not show any concern and are simply focused on their own issues, then they will ruin their children. Therefore, one has to exercise great caution in this regard, and for this, one has to strive and put in a great deal of effort. Nonetheless, one has to keep watch over them, and at times even be a little strict; not by physically punishing them, rather by explain to them in a loving manner and explaining to them that they can only watch certain types of programmes for an allotted duration. As for those programmes where there is a possibility of certain indecent advertisements appearing, they should be blocked so that they do not even show up on your internet. But even for games, there should be a fixed time. You should tell them to go outdoors and play football, cricket or other games, but tell them not to pollute their minds by sitting in front of the TV and tell them that they only have permission to watch TV for one hour. At the same time, however, one cannot be too strict because in today’s society, being too strict can also cause the children to go astray. Nonetheless, explain to them in a loving manner and establish a personal relationship with your children, so that they consider their parents as their friends. This, in turn, can lead to better means of providing moral training for the children. Parents will have to strive a great deal for this; the hard work of parents is crucial. Once you have children, then you must tend to their upbringing as well.’ 
Who Does the Caliph Smile For?
For Ahmadi Muslims around the world, there is nothing like receiving the love and affection of their beloved Caliph. Even just a smile from him can make a person forget any hardship they may be facing, and fill them up with pure joy. Truly, for Ahmadi Muslims, there can perhaps be nothing more wonderful than the radiating smile of their Caliph. Once, during a meeting with Ahmadi Muslims from the West Bank, an Arab Ahmadi asked His Holiness, (aba) that he is often very happy and pleased with African Ahmadis and seen to be smiling at them, and so what can Arab Ahmadis do to receive that same love and smile.
His Holiness (aba) replied:
‘The truth is that I smile at every sincere Ahmadi whenever they come to see me. I am also smiling upon seeing all of you! Certainly, I have the same emotions of love for you as I have for the Africans and those are the same feelings I have for Europeans. Every sincere Ahmadi, whether they are European, African, Asian, Arab, or from South America – everyone is equal in my eyes. The expressions of love emanating from their faces compel me to love them in the same way and to express the same love and affection they are showing me. There is no difference here; you are no less than the Africans, nor are Africans less than you. Neither are Pakistanis better than you, the Africans are not more or less than any other people, nor are the Europeans. I smile whenever I meet or see a sincere Ahmadi and has a strong bond with Khilafat. Whoever I meet, be it an African child, a European child, a South American child, a Pakistani child; be they young, male or female, I am happy to see every sincere Ahmadi and have nothing but feelings and emotions of love in my heart for them. I am always smiling…I smile at you in the same way when meeting you. My heart is filled with great feelings of love and affection for each and every sincere Ahmadi Muslim.’ 
Are a Husband and Wife Equal?
There is a misconception that according to Islam, men and women are not equal. Specifically, when it comes to marriage, some think that the husband is given superiority over the wife. His Holiness (aba) was once asked whether there was a difference in the status of a wife and husband within a marriage.
His Holiness (aba) replied:
‘Being a human being and the partners, they have equal rights. But there is a division of labour and division of duties. Husband has to work outside and he is responsible for providing the funds for the household. And, wife has to look after the children and take care of the house. So, this is the division; but, if some girl or some woman is a professional – has a professional degree – then she is permitted to do job provided that job is beneficial for the human beings. Otherwise, you have equal rights, yes. This is why you have been given the right of divorce. Islam has given the right to divorce to women; no other religion has given this right. You have the right of inheritance, of the property and you have so many other rights.’ 
A Righteous and True Believer
On many occasions, the Promised Messiah (as) has highlighted righteousness to be a true believer’s greatest quality. Righteousness enables an individual to always strive for the pleasure of Allah the Almighty and to stray far away from those things that incur His displeasure. But how do we attain true righteousness? In this regard, His Holiness (aba) once explained:
‘Stating the characteristics of a righteous person and the qualities of a true believer, the Promised Messiah (as) states that they establish their prayers. A righteous person establishes the prayer to the best of his ability and whenever the condition of their prayer declines, they re-establish it.
The Promised Messiah (as) states: “A righteous person fears God Almighty and establishes their prayer. In this state, one may develop various forms of anxieties and fears, which can become a distraction in the way of God.”
The distractions and thoughts in one’s heart turn one’s attention away from Allah the Almighty and this in fact is deemed as a decline in the condition of one’s prayer. To refocus one’s attention towards Allah the Almighty is referred to as establishing the prayer. The Promised Messiah (as) further states: “However, if the heart is filled with righteousness then such a person, i.e. a true believer, continues to establish the prayer despite this struggle of the soul.’ That is, the condition of prayer declines because, at times, one’s attention is distracted, however, righteousness requires us to make an effort and re-establish the prayer and focus our attention towards Allah the Almighty. This is what is referred to as establishing prayer. The Promised Messiah (as) further states: ‘If one actively strives and makes a concerted effort to establish the prayer and is steadfast in his effort to achieve the highest standard of worship, then a time shall come when God Almighty shall bestow His guidance through His holy word.”’ 
 Meeting with Ahmadi Muslims from the West Bank – 12 June 2021
 Meeting with Lajna Shura Delegates UK – 2 February 2019
 Friday Sermon – 25 October 2019