After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) recited the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
‘And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: “I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.”’ (The Holy Qur’an, 2:187)
His Holiness (aba) said that by the grace of Allah, we are passing through the month of Ramadan. It is a month for the acceptance of prayer, as God has announced that with His mercy, prayers will be especially accepted during this month. One strives to attain God’s pleasure during this month and to attain His blessings, hence we even abstain from food and drink. As the Holy Prophet (sa) said, God informed him that the gates of heaven are flung open and the gates of hell shut, and Satan is shackled during this month. Hence, during this month, we can truly attain the nearness of God and it would be our own misfortune if we didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.
Who is Satan Shackled for During Ramadan?
His Holiness (aba) said that certainly during this month, there are those who still commit vices. Therefore, when it is stated that Satan is shackled during this month it is a manner of God admonishing us that if we abstain from even that which is permissible for us (i.e. food and drink etc.) for His sake, then God has shackled Satan for such people and has taken them under His protection. As the Promised Messiah (as) states, when we lessen our physical nourishment, it gives us the opportunity to increase in our spiritual nourishment. Otherwise, merely staying hungry for the entire day holds no meaning of its own if it is not accompanied by efforts to increase in spirituality.
His Holiness (aba) said that we must understand this principle and lead our lives in the same manner, as is the purpose of Ramadan. His Holiness (aba) said that the verse which he recited is from among the verses stating the importance and obligation of Ramadan. Those being spoken of in this verse are those who are “servants of the Gracious God” who wish to be freed from the clutches of Satan and come under the protection of God. Thus, God said that when such people are in a state of anxiety and fear wondering where and how they can find God, tell them that God will answer when they call unto Him. It is for such people that Satan has been shackled in Ramadan, but these efforts should not be limited to this month, rather they should become an enduring part of people’s lives throughout the year. When people fulfil the rights of God and His creation and strive to fulfil the commandments of God and attain His pleasure, then they will find that God answers their calls unto Him.
His Holiness (aba) said that fortunate are those who take advantage of Ramadan and the opportunity it affords for the acceptance of prayer. We should pray to become true servants of God, to fulfil His commandments and to complete our faith. We are fortunate to have accepted the Imam of the Age and the true servant of the Holy Prophet (sa), the Promised Messiah (as). He taught us the ways of becoming closer to God and the ways in which to pray.
Prayer – The True Means to Success
His Holiness (aba) quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who said that the true means for attaining success is prayer. The Promised Messiah (as) also said that before praying, one must utilise the faculties granted to them by God and strive their utmost, and then pray to God. This is what is meant by ‘Guide us on the right path’. Some people say that if one prays then there is no need for any apparent means or effort, whereas prayer is essentially a means for procuring more means. We should pray to be among those who are sincerely devoted to God in their actions and belief. They should strive to be those whose actions draw the pleasure of God and those whose faith is completely unwavering. They believe that God can turn dust to gold and can turn the wicked into spiritual people who tread upon His path.
His Holiness (aba) said that God has stated this principle in the Holy Qur’an when He says:
‘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.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 29:70)
This month of Ramadan is certainly an opportunity to undertake this Jihad and strive towards Allah and become those who are close to Allah the Almighty, those whose prayers He answers, who adhere to His commandments, those who have complete belief in His attributes, those who are truly guided and those whose Satan is forever shackled. Achieving this certainly requires striving in the way of Allah.
Fulfil the Requirements to Attaining the Nearness of God
His Holiness (aba) quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who said that one cannot attain God’s pleasure and nearness through laziness and slackness, rather true effort is required. His Holiness (aba) said that many people write to him saying that they prayed but their objective was not attained. They must analyse to see whether they have truly undertaken the required struggle in prayer. Then they must also analyse the manner in which they pray because God says those who truly strive in His path, who strive to attain His nearness with sincerity and strive to fulfil His commandments, then He surely answers their prayers.
Our Striving Must Not Remain Constrained to the Month of Ramadan
His Holiness (aba) said that in a Hadith it is stated that if we walk towards God, He will run towards us. This is the grace and mercy of God, however we must truly strive in his cause. It should not be that we vow to offer prayers and do good deeds during the month of Ramadan, but then forget about all of these things for the rest of the year. If God sees that a person is praying and making efforts only during the month of Ramadan, then He can deal with us however He pleases. Certainly he can still answer our prayers so that we experience His grace and mercy in order to keep us motivated to keep striving in His way. God desires to take us into His mercy. His happiness for us is greater than a mother’s happiness for her child. Hence, before lamenting that our prayers have not been answered, we must analyse ourselves and our efforts.
His Holiness (aba) said that we should never allow our efforts or Jihad in the cause of attaining Allah’s pleasure, fulfilling His commandments and becoming His true servants to subside. In fact Ramadan should be a milestone in this Jihad.
His Holiness (aba) said that as the Promised Messiah (as) explains, if one does not strive to tread upon the path of God, then they will fall into Satan’s lap and become perverse. Thus, not only are there glad tidings in the above-mentioned verses, but there is also a warning to remain safe from the grasp of Satan.
Efforts Must be Accompanied by Prayer
His Holiness (aba) also explained in light of the Promised Messiah’s (as) writings that certainly it is within human nature for there to be various stages in our lives. There are ups and downs. However after the down times, a righteous person fervently turns to God in repentance and seeking forgiveness out of embarrassment and then becomes resolute in striving upon God’s path. Thus, doing so requires steadfastness and a firm resolve. As we make these efforts and pray, we should repeat the prayer ‘Guide us on the right path’ as this prayer is vital for one to become rightly guided.
His Holiness (aba) explained that even in worldly terms, people must strive to attain what they desire from the world. When they strive and struggle, God bestows His blessings and they are able to attain their objectives. The same applies in the spiritual realm. If one can strive for the world, why then can they not strive to attain God’s nearness and pleasure. If they strive and struggle for this, then God will certainly bestow His blessings in their efforts so that they can achieve their purpose. It cannot be that one merely asks and automatically receives, rather there is a level of effort required. This is a basic principle which applies to all things.
His Holiness (aba) said that when a person turns to God, God will turn to them. They must however strive their utmost. Then, when they have truly tried their best, they will certainly see the light of God. One should not become disheartened, as is the case in trying to attain anything. The doors of attaining the nearness and pleasures of God are open, but require effort to get through.
His Holiness (aba) said that we cannot expect God to be bound to accept anything and everything we desire. Even in worldly terms if we consider any one of our relationships we find that this cannot be the case. Why then should we apply the same restriction to God? Hence we must believe in God, which means fulfilling the rights owed to Him and His creation; then we can find acceptance in the sight of God. If we don’t constantly nurture plants, they will become lifeless. So too is the case with our faith.
Strive in Every Way Possible to Attain God’s Pleasure
His Holiness (aba) said that in striving towards God, we must ensure that our belief is not tainted with associating partners with God in any way. Similarly, if we look to the examples of the Companions (ra), did they attain their stature only through prayer? No; in fact they were ready to lay down their lives for God and present any sacrifice in His cause. Hence, we cannot expect to attain any sort of rank in the sight of God without first striving and struggling in His way. We must strive not only with our words, but in every way possible to attain the pleasure and nearness of God. Some consider prayer to be an ordinary matter, whereas it is much more. Mere words cannot be considered prayer, rather true prayer requires bringing about a sort of death by the level of efforts made.
His Holiness (aba) said that upon reaching a certain level in connection with God, one does not even have to pointedly ask for his worldly needs to be fulfilled, as God takes that person into His protection and fulfils those needs Himself. Attaining this level however requires a great deal of effort.
His Holiness (aba) prayed that may we be able to fulfil these things and make Ramadan an opportunity for us to establish a firm relationship with Him, fulfilling His commandments, having complete belief in Him and enable us to see examples of the acceptance of prayer. May this extend even beyond Ramadan. May we become true servants of God; may we never stray from the path of God and always be the recipients of His love. May we do justice to the favour which God has bestowed upon us by accepting the Promised Messiah (as). May Allah enable us to pray in a manner that can render our prayers accepted.
His Holiness (aba) again made an appeal for prayers in light of the current world situation. He prayed that may Allah save the world from destruction and enable people to recognise their Creator.
Launch of 313 Companions Website
His Holiness (aba) said that he would launch a new website and mobile application created by MTA International which comprises His Holiness’ (aba) sermons on the 313 Companions who took part in the Battle of Badr. The website includes introductions of the Companions, questions and answers, maps, explanations of difficult Arabic terms and there will be new information uploaded every week. The website is www.313companions.org. His Holiness (aba) prayed that may this website prove to be beneficial.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions.