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Principles of Islam

Guide Posts PURITY OF HEART (8ashir Ahmad Orchard) Purity of heart is the core of all revealed religions. The essence of religion is not knowledge but holiness and it is this aspect of faith which has been highlighted in the scriptures and by the founders of all revealed religions since time immemorial. Turning to the Old Testament we read the prayer of David: “Create in me a clean heart, 0 God.” (Psalms 51:10). In the New Testament Jesus is reported to have said: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. ” (Matthew 4:6). God says in the Holy Ouran: “Verily he truly prospers who purifies himself.” (87:15). The purpose of our existence may be stated in very simple words. It is that we should strive to live a pure and holy life; and for a Muslim it means moulding one’s life in accordance with the teachings ofthe Holy Ouran and in the like of the noble example of the Holy Prophet of Islam. In the pursuit of self-purification both devout prayer and earnest effort in the observation of righteous conduct is required. Without the help of God purity of heart cannot be attained solely by one’s own efforts. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam has said: “No one can achieve true purity and righteousness unless he receives heavenly help.” One thing is certain. God will surely answer and help a person along the GUIDE POSTS 3 path of virtue who seeks Divine help through prayer. No doubt the best prayer is to be found in the first chapter of the Holy Quran: “Thee Alone do we worship and Thee Alone do we look to for help. Guide us on the Right Path – The Path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, those who have not incurred Thy displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.” (1:4–7). Whatever one prays for one should do so in earnest. An English poet wrote that a thing of beauty is a charm for ever which aptly describes the beauty of a pure heart. The practice of self purification needs constant attention. It is only natural that from time to time the spiritual wayfarer may find himself slipping. This is only to be expected. Nothing can be achieved without perseverence. When he is aware of having made progress in his spiritual endeavours it becomes a source of pleasurable satisfaction to him. There is no end to the road of self-purification. New horizons always lie ahead. One should never rest on one’s upward climb, nor should one ever become faint-hearted on the assumption that the path is too narrow or the goal too high. In fact it is a very pleasant journey. In this respect Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud Din Mahmud Ahmad has written in his book Ahmadiyyat or the True Islam: “Islam rescues man from despair and tells him that he can, in spite of his errors and mistakes, attain to the purity of mind and conduct which is the highest goal of man. It thus encourages him to make constant effort towards purity and virtue and enables him ultimately to arrive at his goal. ” I would like to relate a short story. While driving through the countryside a man drove into a farmer’s yard to ask for a drink of water from his well. He told the farmer “I find your water so clear, cool and refreshing. I have been told that people travel long distances to get it. But is this not the same old well which at one time contained water. only for part of the year and, at the same time, it was not good?’ ‘Yes’ replied the farmer ‘that is correct. It used to be choked up with sticks, old leaves and other things with the result that nearly all the passages which let in fresh water were blocked, and the water which did trickle in was dirty and stagnant. I cleaned out all the obstructions and opened the passages for the inflow of clean water which you now see and are drinking.’ Likewise in order to keep our hearts clean we have to purge them of spiritual impurities. We have to remove those obstacles which block the inflow of pure heavenly water; and once removed to see that the channels remain open all the time free of impure obstacles. What are these obstacles? 4 REVIEW 01′ RELIGIONS There are so many. will draw attention to two important ones only – rancour and pride. These attitudes stain the heart as strong tea stains the inside of a tea-pot. Even the holding of them in mind discolours the heart which can only be cleansed through deep love for God and His love for us. This is why the love of God plays such an important part in religion on account of its sanctifying power. There is a prayer in the Holy Ouran: “Leave not in our hearts any rancour against those who believe.” (59:11). One can have no real peace of mind nor can the love of God radiate from the heart which is polluted with rancour. One must strive through prayer and right thinking to eradicate all feelings and conduct involving jealousy, hate, bitterness, resentment, contempt, revenge, unbrotherliness, ridicule, sarcasm, envy, rudeness and similar poisonous emotions which are obstacles to self-purification which requires that one should constantly be turning to God and spring-cleaning one’s heart. A pure heart is the abode of God and, therefore, a state of paradise on earth. This is the description of paradise given in the Ouran: “Verily the righteous will be placed amidst gardens and fountains. Enter therein with peace and safety. And We shall remove whatever of rancour may be in their breasts so that they will become as brothers seated on thrones facing one another. ” (15:45-48). Here also is a description of the character of the Promised Messiah who said: “I have such control over my passions … that even if a man goes on abusing me in my face in the foulest manner for one year, he would at last himself feel ashamed and will have to admit his failure to move me even a little. ” (Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah). Maulvi Abdul Karim – a close companion of the Promised Messiah – has writtp.n about the forgiveness and forbearance which he showed to all – even his worst opponents; and he1tas urged all to give up the habit offault-finding, indulging in antagonistic and adverse criticism, and in expressing displeasure with any person in public. The Promised Messiah declared: “A true Muslim never harbours malice for anyone.” ” Avoid malice and deal with human beings with love and sympathy.” GUIDE POSTS “Forget all mutual resentment and unpleasantness.” “You should have no ill-feeling for anyone whosoever. ” “I say that you should forgive and overlook the faults of others. ” 5 These words reveal the pure and stainless condition of the Promised Messiah’s heart. They speak for themselves. They need no further comment. They only need to be acted upon; but they cannot be acted upon without prayer and dedication to self-purification. Pride is the other obstacle to self-purification. God warns in the Holy Ouran: “Walk not on the earth proudly.” The Holy Prophet also warned: “Allah has revealed to me that you should conduct yourselves with humility towards one another, so that no one transgresses against another, nor boasts of any superiority over another. ” (17:38). The Promised Messiah also condemned pride in no uncertain terms. He said: “I tell you truly that on the day of Judgement no other vice, other than the association of anything with God, shall rank as high as pride. This is a vice which humiliates a person in both worlds.” “Pride is the worst impurity of all.” There is a prayer of the Holy Prophet: “0 God, keep me humble while I am alive and keep me humble when I die, and let my resurrection on the Day of Judgement be with the humble.” Humility is a mark of righteousness; and righteousness is the fruit of self-purification. That is what really counts in life. God says in the Holy Ouran: “Verily the most honourable person in the sight of Allah is he who is most righteous.” (17:38). 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Jesus said in different words: “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11). While we should strive to do everything that is praiseworthy we should do nothing in order to be praised; nor should we look down upon or despise those whose habits and ways of life are contrary to our own ideals. We should pray and feel sympathy for them, and at the same time be fully aware of our own shortcomings. Our thinking and behaviour should reflect humility. Whatever we possess, be it health, education, wealth, property, family connections, beauty, position, spiritual blessings or anything else then we have much for which to show gratefulness but nothing for which to show pride. I like the words of St. Augustine who first brought Christianity to Great Britain. When he was asked what is the first thing in religion he replied “The first is humility, the second is humility and the third is humility.’ The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has likened the practice of self-purification to that of a person walking with extreme care along a narrow path bordered on either side with thorny bushes. A person seeking the love of God and anxious to cultivate purity of heart will watch his speech and conduct with attentive care being ever eager to keep on the Right Path in all matters of behaviour. While knowledge has its value, true religion consists not in knowledge but in holy living. Rancour and pride are two enemies of spiritual progress against which we should ever be on guard. Purity of heart demands that at no time should we think, say or do anything which might be displeasing to God; and with this spiritual goal ever before us it is necessary to seek the help and protection of God at all times.