The Pillars of Islam

Remember this well that if a person states that he believes God to be one, without any partners and also believes in the Holy Prophet Muhammad and likewise, believes in other matters of faith, but if the declaration is limited only to being a verbal statement and the heart does not acknowledge it, then these will be mere utterances that cannot lead to deliverance. Deliverance cannot be attained until such time as the heart believes and this is manifested only when deeds and actions testify to it. Until this is achieved nothing is of any avail. I state the truth when I say that the real objective is achieved only when one turns to God having left all other diversions to one side, when religion is given 17Review of Religions – July 2002 The Pillars of Islam Presented below is a compilation of excerpts from the volumes of Malfoozat, in translation. Malfoozat is the title of the ten volumes containing the collection of discourses, speeches and addresses of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Compiled and translated by Amatul Hadi Ahmad The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. true precedence over the actualities of this world. Remember! A person can deceive other creatures. People can be deceived in their observation of a person who offers the five daily prayers or does some other good deeds but God cannot be deceived. Therefore, good deeds should be performed with a genuine and true sincerity – this is the one thing that adds beauty to one’s deeds and enhances them. It should be well remembered as to what the meaning is of the Kalima [the declaration of the Unity of God] that we recite daily. The Kalima means that a person affirms verbally and testifies with his heart that for him the One who is worthy of worship and love and the One who is the real objective is God Almighty and none other besides him. [The words of the declaration of Unity of God include] the word Ilaha which has the meaning of being ‘the beloved’, ‘one who is the true objective’, ‘the one who is worshipped and adored’. This declaration is the whole teaching of the Holy Qur’an in a concise form that has been taught to the Muslims. As it is not easy to remember a great and detailed book, this Kalima has been taught so that a person can keep the essence of Islamic teaching constantly in mind. The truth is this that until this reality develops within a person, there is no deliverance. That is why the Holy Prophet of Islam has stated: He who declares there is no God but Allah will enter Paradise. In other words, he who truly believes in ‘ la ilaha illallah’ [that is, ‘there is no God but Allah’] such a person will enter paradise. People deceive themselves if they think that a parrot-like repetition of the words will grant them entry into paradise. If that were the only reality to be found in it then all deeds would become redundant and useless and the Shari’a [the religious law] would (God forbid) be deemed 18 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002 irrelevant. This, however, is not the case. The reality of this is that the meaning that is contained within it should enter the heart in practice – when this occurs then a person does, in fact, enter paradise. It is not after death, but in this very life that such a person is in paradise. [Malfoozat, Vol. 9, PP 102- 104] After that, pay heed, the second thing is S a l a t [ I s l a m i c form of worship], the compulsory practice of which has been repeatedly stressed by the Holy Qur’an. Re m e m b e r also that the Holy Qur’ a n rebukes those who stand for S a l a t but are oblivious to the reality of Salat and are mean towards their fellow human beings. S a l a t is in reality a plea before God Almighty that He may safeguard one against all kinds of ills and bad deeds. A human being is in a state of grief and loneliness and wishes that he may acquire inner peace and contentment that are the consequence of deliverance but it is not something that can be acquired through one’s own cleverness or skill. Until God calls, one cannot go to Him – until He purifies, one cannot be purified. There are many who are witness to the fact that on numerous occasions there is the desire to rid oneself of some sin or other with which one is afflicted but one is not successful even after repeated attempts to achieve this. Despite the fact that his own conscience, Nafs-e-Lawwama, the self-accusing spirit reproaches him, even then he fails and slips. From this we can learn that a person’s purification from sin is God’s work. One cannot achieve this simply by one’s own efforts. However, it is also true that effort in this path is absolutely necessary. S a l a t [the Islamic form of worship] is for the cleansing of that inner self that is full of sins and that has strayed far from God. It is for bringing such a soul closer to God that the instrument of Salat exists 19 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002 through which evil is removed and hearts are, instead, filled with pure feelings and emotions. This is the reason behind the statement that Salat removes ills or that it prevents one from committing indecent and immoral acts. What, then, is S a l a t? It is a prayer full of pain and anguish and this is why it is called ‘S a l a t ’. It is a supplication before God, with anguish and grief, to the effect that God may remove from one’s inner self all bad thoughts, ill feelings and negative emotions and that He may purify one from within by creating therein pure love through the general bounty of his beneficence. The word ‘Salat’ points to the fact that it is not sufficient to pray with words alone, rather it is necessary that words be accompanied by feeling and a sense of anxiety and deep concern. God does not listen to any prayer until the person offering the prayer reaches a kind of death [with the anguish of supplicating before God]. Praying is a difficult task indeed but people are not familiar with its true nature. There are many who write to me that they prayed for such and such but their prayer did not have any effect and, c o n s e q u e n t l y, they come to hold a negative view of God and are destroyed through their own sense of hopelessness. They do not know that unless prayer is accompanied with the necessary requirements, it cannot be of any benefit. It is among the necessary requirements of prayer that the heart melts and the soul 20 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002 IT IS AMONG THE NECESSARY REQUIREMENTS OF PRAYER THAT THE HEART MELTS AND THE SOUL FLOWS LIKE WATER, FALLING AT THE FEET OF THE MOST NOBLE LORD, WITH FEELINGS OF PAIN AND ANGUISH WITHIN. flows like water, falling at the feet of the most noble Lord, with feelings of pain and anguish within. A person should not, however, be impatient and seek quick results. On the contrary, he should persevere in prayer with patience and steadfastness. It can then to be expected that the prayer will be answered. Salat is a prayer of a very high level. Sadly, however, people do not appreciate its worth and they consider its true nature merely to be the performance of a few customary acts of standing upright, bowing and pros- trating combined with a parrot-like repetition of a few sentences, with or without any comprehension. There is yet another sorry development and it is that the Muslims [of today] were already unfamiliar with the true nature of Salat and were not being mindful towards it, then there sprang up some sects that did away with the discipline of Salat altogether and replaced it with a few chants and repetitions of certain words. Among these sects were Noshahi and Chashti sects and some others. Such people attack Islam and its teachings from within and, having broken away from the discipline of Islam, they seek to establish a new Shari’a , [religious law]. Remember this with certainty that we do not need any innovation when we and all seekers of truth have the blessing of S a l a t. Whenever the Holy Prophet of Islam faced some difficulty or trouble, he immediately stood for S a l a t and our own experience and that of all the people of truth is this that there is nothing greater than S a l a t for taking one towards God. When one stands in Salat one is adopting a posture of respect. When a servant stands before his master, he always stands with his hands held together. The position of bowing is also one of respect but is greater than that of 21 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002 standing and prostration is the ultimate position of showing respect. When a person finds himself in a state of complete engrossment and submission, he throws himself in pros- tration. Woe is upon those foolish and worldly people who wish to shorten S a l a t a n d object to bowing and pros- trating. On the contrary, these are aspects that are very commendable. The true fact is this that unless one partakes of the realm from where Salat has come, {unless one has knowledge of the realm with which S a l a t reaches its ultimate point, until then a human being gains nothing}. But how can he who does not believe in God believe in Salat? [Malfoozat, Vol. 9, PP 108-110] The third pillar of Islam is fasting. People are also unaware of the true nature of fasting. The reality is that the country to which one does not travel and the world with which one is not familiar makes it difficult for one to describe its condition. By fasting is not meant that one should remain merely hungry and thirsty – fasting has a reality and an effect that can only be known through experience. It is in the nature of the human being that the less he eats, the more he gains in spiritual purification and the more his capacity to have visions increases. What God wishes here is this that people should decrease their intake of one kind of food and increase the intake of another kind of ‘food’. A person who is fasting should always keep this in mind that its purpose is not merely that he should remain hungry but rather that he should spend his time in remembrance of God in order that he can turn away from the world and move towards God. Hence, the meaning of fasting is this that by foregoing one food that nourishes the body one can attain another ‘food’ that nourishes and satisfies the spirit. People who fast only for God and do not do so by way of custom and tradition, they should remain engrossed in the 22 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002 praise and glorification of God as well as self-analysis in order that the other kind of nourishment is granted to them. It is the same with Hajj, [that is, the fourth Pillar of Islam, the Pilgrimage to Mecca]. By Hajj is not meant merely that a person should leave his home, travel across the ocean, utter some customary words and then return. The reality is this that Hajj is a thing of the highest order and that is the ultimate point in a person’s sincere relationship with God. This point should be under- stood that when a person distances himself from the worldly desires of the self, the self has the right to expect that the person loses himself completely in the love of God. Moreover, that the passion of this love develops to such an extent that in comparison no difficulties of travel, nor the danger to one’s life or possessions nor the pain of separation from loved ones should be of concern to him. Just as a lover is ready to sacrifice all for his beloved, so should a person [who loves God] be ready to do the same. The symbolic example of such a relationship is contained in the performance of the Hajj, that is, the Pilgrimage. Just as a lover circles around the beloved, so there is the orbiting [around the Ka’aba] during the performance of Hajj. This is a very fine and subtle point. Just as there is the House of God, so there is one above, a higher one. Unless one ‘orbits’ around that 23 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002 BY FA S T I N G I S N O T M E A N T T H AT O N E S H O U L D R E M A I N M E R E LY H U N G RY A N D T H I R S T Y – FA S T I N G H A S A R E A L I T Y A N D A N E F F E C T T H AT C A N O N LY B E K N O W N T H R O U G H E X P E R I E N C E. I T I S I N T H E N AT U R E O F T H E H U M A N B E I N G T H AT T H E L E S S H E E AT S, T H E M O R E H E G A I N S I N S P I R I T U A L P U R I F I C AT I O N A N D T H E M O R E H I S C A PA C I T Y TO H AV E V I S I O N S I N C R E A S E S. one also, there is no benefit from the one performed [on the ground] and hence there is no reward. The state of those performing the higher level of ‘orbit’ should be similar to the one seen [on the ground] in that a basic cloth only is wrapped around the body. Similarly, those who ‘circuit’ around the higher [‘House of God’] should also take off the ‘garments’ of worldliness and become humble and meek and circle around in a state of ardent love. Tawaaf [that is, the act of circuiting around the Ka’aba] is a symbol of the ardent love of God and the meaning of it is this that the pleasure of God should be the point around which one ‘orbits’ and that there remains no other purpose but this. Similarly, there is Zakat [the tax collected for redistribution among the poor]. Many people pay Zakat but they do not even think as to what it is that they are paying the Zakat on. If a dog or a pig is killed in an Islamic manner, it would not make that dog or that pig halal [that is, permissible for eating under Islamic law]. The word Z a k a t is derived from the word tazkia [which means ‘to purify’] – purify your wealth and then pay Z a k a t from it. He who gives from that [the purified wealth], his truthfulness is sustained. But he who does not discriminate between H a l a l and H a r a m [that is, between the permissible and the forbidden] such a person is far from its true meaning. One must be distanced from such errors and should under- stand well the reality of these Pillars of Islam. Only then will they become the cause of deliverance not otherwise because a human being can wander off a long way in the wrong direction. [Malfoozat, Vol. 9, PP 122-124] 24 The Pillars of Islam Review of Religions – July 2002