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Guide Posts THE EXALTED LIFE (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) We have been created for one main purpose and it behoves every enlightened person to set his sights upon this objective and make it his primary target as long as he dwells on this planet. Since time immemorial the goal of life has never changed and the road which ascends to this celestial citadel provides the wayfarer with spiritual fruits of joyous living. Real happiness is experienced in exalted living and this has been the message proclaimed by every Prophet of God. The Law of Moses teaches: “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord thy God hath commanded you.” (Exodus 5:32). ” . . . love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Exodus 6:5). Jesus taught: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33). God affirms in the Holy Quran: “I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.” (51:57). The worship of God is not restricted only to the offering of prayers and praising His name. Worship and love of God is a practical demonstration of our relationship with Him. We are required at all times to endeavour earnestly to express our love for God by manifestating in ourselves the attributes of God. That is to say we should be ever watchful of our thoughts, GUIDE POSTS 3 words and deeds so that they may reflect the spirit of love and holiness. God says in the Holy Quran: “He truly prospers who purifies himself.” (87:15). However much we may strive and progress along the path of virtue we can never attain perfection although we can reach such heights that a less developed person may consider us a saint; but we ourselves know only too well that we are sinners full of shortcomings and weaknesses. Yet as we grow in virtue we are conscious of our progress and delight in the feeling of spiritual well-being. Our primary ambition should be to change more and more for the better as we pass through life and never to be satisfied with our present condition. The Holy Quran refers to four spiritual ranks which may be attained in this world: “And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger of His shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed his blessings, namely the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous. And excellent companions are these.” (4:70). The status of Prophethood is the highest spiritual rank conferred on man by God. It is not attained by spiritual endeavour but is bestowed by God on whomsoever He chooses. The other three ranks may be attained through resolve, endeavour and the help of God. THE TRUTHFUL “The men who are truthful and the women who are truthful.” (Quran 33:36). A truthful person is thoroughly sincere in all his words and actions. He is honoured and respected. He exhibits humility and courage for it requires a good measure of these virtues in order to adhere to the following injunction: “Speak the truth even though it be against thyself.” (Holy Prophet). The Holy Prophet of Islam was a perfect exemplar of truthfulness throughout his lif e. The inhabitants of Mecca named him Amin—the truthful one. Shortly after he proclaimed his Divine mission he called the Meccans to gather around him and then asked them whether they would believe in him 4 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS were he to tell them that enemy forces were approaching from behind the hills. They replied in the affirmative well knowing his implicit truthfulness. Thereupon he announced the truth of his Divine mission. He was so meticulously truthful that he forbade stating an untruth even in jest. Absolute truthfulness is the insignia of an upright man: “Lie not at all neither in a little things or a great.” (Jeremony Taylor). “It is this quality (truthfulness) more than any other that commands the esteem and respect, and secures the confidence of others. Truthfulness is at the foundation of all personal excellence. It exhibits itself in conduct. It is rectitude — truth in action, and shines through every word and deed.” (Samuel Smiles). THE MARTYR Who is a martyr? The meaning and description of a martyr has been consummately explained by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad •— the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam: “Bear in mind that a true martyr (Shaheed) is not only the man who is killed in a religious cause but also the man who in all trials and difficulties remains firm and faithful to God, and who is ready to suffer any hardship in the path of God. Shaheed literally means a witness and, therefore, everyone who has such a living and certain faith in the existence of God that he may be said to have witnessed Him and the glorious manifestation of His power is a shaheed or a martyr. He believes in the existence of God of God and in His mighty power and control over all with such certainty as if he had witnessed them. When the spiritual wayfarer has reached this stage, he finds no difficulty in laying down his life in the path of God. Rather he finds supreme pleasure and bliss in it. By laying down his life in the path of God is not meant that a person should seek an occasion to be actually murdered. What is meant is that he should prefer the pleasure of God to his own desires and interests, that is to say, whenever his own interests and desires clash with his duty to God, he should willingly forsake the former. Everyone should reflect whether it is this life that he loves most or the next; whether if he meets with any difficulty or is subjected to any hardship in the path of God, (i.e. for the sake of righteousness) he would be’ar it with heart’s joy, and whether if he is required to lay down his life, he is prepared for it. This is a spiritual stage to which it is my object to lead my disciples.” (Vol IV Review of Religions. 1905). GUIDE POSTS 5 Everyone who strives with great effort in avoiding sin and in cultivating virtue to the extent that he sacrifices personal inclinations and interests for the sake of his spiritual aspirations may be called a martyr in as much as he is sacrificing temptation for the sake of God against the onslaughts of the devil. He may stumble from time to time but is quick to arise resolved not to slip again. He lives to polish every kind of virtue within himself so that they shine forth from him like brilliant gems of different hues. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has said: “All the love and hate and dislike of a true believer is subject to his desire to win the love of God and to avoid everything which Allah does not approve of.” (Abu Daud and Musnad Ahmad). We are reminded by God in the Holy Quran: “Verily he truly prospers who purifies himself, and remembers the name of the Lord, and offers prayers. But you prefer the life of this world, whereas the Hereafter is better and more lasting.” (87:15-18). We should live to become martyrs in the spiritual sense of the word which will make earth for us a place of joyous exaltation! THE RIGHTEOUS “The best provision is righteousness.” (Quran 2:198). Righteousness is the key to real and permanent happiness; and there should be no second thoughts on this truth. Spiritual happiness excels all other kinds of happiness. The goal of the spiritual wayfarer should be the constant attainment of higher and higher levels of righteousness. God says in the Holy Quran: “O ye men worship your Lord Who created you and those who were before you that you may become righteous.” (3:52). Righteousness should pervade every aspect of our life. It should colour our thoughts words and actions. It is not sufficient to practise good conduct to some extent in certain matters and not to do so in other matters. Our objective should be to manifest the attributes of God in all matters at all times. Although we will always fall short of perfection however ever much we may grow in spiritual stature, we should always be climbing the path of virtue O REVIEW OF RELIGIONS keeping in mind that there is always spacious room within us for spiritual improvement. We are, in fact, the product of our thoughts in accordance with the aphorism: “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” This indisputable truth has been confirmed in the following lines translated from a Persian poem written by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam: “Everything Thou hast in thy mind, Every thought thou nourisheth, Other than that of God And of winning His approbation Is an idol which thou worshipeth. O thou weak of faith! Beware of these hidden idols; Guard well thy heart, And keep it always Out of their reach. The cultivation of righteousness is the most blessed and rewarding of all ambitions: “Verily the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most righteous among you.” (49:41). The noblest of possessions is an exalted character. Let us strive and pray to God to lead us step by step to higher standards of piety. God helps those who help themselves; and in particular those who strive to live in accordance with His pleasure.