Regulations Governing the Life of a Muslim

39 REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE LIFE OF A MUSLIM (Dr Hameed Ahmad Khan) We all live by certain rules and regulations. They are usually dictated by the culture and society in which we live. Islam, of all religions, provides us with a comprehensive set of rules, and expects us to abide by them. All Islamic teachings and commands are for our own benefit. It never demands anything that does not make sense. Also, Islam never asks us to do anything which is beyond our capacity or limit. BENEFITS The benefits of Islamic rules and regulations that govern our lives are twofold. (1) They are meant to make us a civilised and highly moral person. (2) To make us a Godly person. This means that we develop a live relationship with God. If we follow the Islamic code, God will grant us direct communion with Him. This is a very sublime and unique objective – which other religions deny us today. These rules and regulations that apply to a Muslim in his daily life can, for convenience, be divided into moral and spiritual codes. The moral code will include our conduct, general dealing in society, and our business affairs. It will also include our marital affairs and laws of inheritance. The spiritual code will include all sorts of worship e.g; Prayers, Fasting, Zakat, Hajj (or pilgrimage to Mecca). It will also include various prohibitions. It is, however, important to remember that they are inter-related and inter-dependant. An immoral person cannot be a Godly person, because God does not like immorality. On the other hand, true morality cannot be achieved without a firm faith in God. Commonly a person who does not believe in God, will tell the truth as long as it does not hurt him or he is not discovered. A Godly person will tell the truth under all circumstances. It is impossible to deal with either group fully in the short article. I will 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS therefore confine myself mainly to the second group and try to give an outline of some of our duties and obligations as a Muslim I will particularly like to explain and throw some light on the reasons for these commands. CLEANLINESS AND PRAYER First of all, Islam lays great emphasis on cleanliness. One of the attributes of God is Clean and Pure. He, therefore, likes cleanliness and would not accept us as his friends if we are not clean. Islam thus teaches us to do wuzu or ablution five times a day i.e. before each of the five daily prayers. This involves the washing of hands, mouth, nose, face, arms and feet and touching of the scalp and ears with wet hands. They are the most exposed parts of the body and tend to collect dust. Besides, these parts are the five gates of information or knowledge. Before each prayer, these parts are washed and cooled down, so that stimuli to the brain are reduced. We thus achieve concentration and single-mindedness before starting the prayer. One situation requires special mention. During the special marital relationship, the whole body is stimulated and excited. The brain is receiving stimuli from every part of the body. To cool the body and to bring attention and concentration back to God, Islam prescribes bathing of the whole body. Same applies after ejacution in sleep. Islam never demand anything from us beyond our capacity. Thus, if we are unwell or travelling, or water is not available, then Tayyamum with pure dust is prescribed instead of wuzu. Hands are placed on pure dust and then rubbed over the face and together up to the elbows. If socks are worn after ablution, there is no need to take them off to wash the feet for a subsequent ablution, provided there are no holes in the socks. Touching of the feet with wet hands is sufficient. There are certain acts which cancel the ablution, and make it necessary to repeat it; otherwise one ablution can serve for more than one prayer. Most of these actions are concerned with body discharges. In fasting, the opposite holds true as fasting is broken by taking things of nourishment into the body. Ablution is thus spoilt by sleep, use of toilet, passing of wind, bleeding, menses and discharge of pus or semen. It is essential to wash ourselves in the prescribed manner before each prayer if any of the above things have taken place. It is obvious that a Muslim who performs ablution properly will achieve REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 41 the highest degree of cleanliness throughout the day. When he washes his hands, mouth, nose, face, arms and feet five times a day, it is inconceivable that he will fail to achieve high standards of personal cleanliness and hygiene. PRAYER Islam teaches us to remember God every minute of our life and to pray to Him constantly. Besides, it prescribes at least five special daily prayers consisting of special words said in a specific way. This special prescribed prayer is called SaLat in Arabic and Namaz in Urdu. Salat is performed in a prescribed manner which sometimes appears strange and confusing to a new-comer. If, however, we clearly understand the reason and purpose of SaLat then the reason becomes easy to understand. When we are invited to meet an important person, such as the Prime Minister or the Queen, we immediately take certain steps. We prepare for the meeting with great care and attention. We set that time aside so that nothing can interfere with it. We get our best suit ready. We wash ourselves and wear perfume. We are always on time. We are careful about our appearance and manner. During the audience with, say the Queen, we are respectful and full of attention. In her presence, we do not look around, but give her our undivided attention. Our manner is polite and humble. We speak carefully and with respect. We enter gracefully and leave gracefully, with permission. Salat is our audience or our meeting with God. It is the means to show our love and respect for Him. During Salat we express our gratitude for His countless blessings. Before starting Salat it is essential to prepare ourselves mentally. God is the King of all kings, who is Powerful and Merciful. But despite His greatness and limitless powers, He is still keen to grant an audience and a loving friendship to all human beings. When we prepare for Salat, we must bring the beauties and powers of God to our mind so that our mind and soul are ready to show our love and respect for Him. This is the reason that we say a prayer just before the start of the Salat: which means that I turn all my attention to the Creator of the Universe and I attach no partner with Him. 42 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS During Salat we should adopt the same attitude as if we were in the presence of a great and powerful personality who has shown great kindness and love to us. We should be respectful and full of love. We should give full, undivided attention and fully understand the meanings of Salat. In congregation, we line up in straight lines. We should not look around, talk to other people or make any unecessary movements. AH the time, in every position, we should be a model of dignity and grace. The place of worship, i.e. mosque, should be respected and kept clean. Order and dignity must be maintained. Places at the front should be occupied first and silence must be observed when other people are saying their Salat. Salat is the physical expression of that intense feeling of total love, devotion and gratitude that we feel towards God. In the act of Salat, we merely reflect this inner feeling. We stand up-erect, with the arms neatly folded in front, to show our respect and undivided attention to God. We bow because our soul and body want to express humility to God. We prostrate because we are overwhelmed with the love of God and we realise our own weaknesses and limitations. We- implore him to accept out ultimate gesture of humility and to show us His Love and Mercy. The state of affairs of love and gratitude and our own subservient relationship with God is eloquently expressed in the prescribed words that we say in each posture. They are the real essence of Salat. Those few Arabic words contain deep meanings, an ocean of knowledge and heart-rending prayers, the equal of which cannot be found anywhere. The words of Salat cannot be replaced and can never be adequately translated. That is why, it is important to learn the Arabic Salat and its meaning. It also creates unity among mankind which is the ultimate purpose of Islamic teaching. It is, however, important to say some prayers and open up one’s heart in one’s own language, so that one can really address God as if He is sitting in front of him. We can do this after saying the prescribed words in any posture and talk to Him without inhibitions. Enjoyment of Salat which can be immense and should be progressive, actually depends on this direct relationship with God. This is enhanced by realising and reminding ourselves of His powers, beauties and blessings. It is a good practice to bring to our minds all those incidents when He has listened to our prayers and solved our problems; all those times when He blessed us with true dreams and came to our help without our asking. Salat is said facing the Kaaba in Mecca. It is to achieve unity. The Kaaba is selected because, according to the Holy Quran, it was the first house built for the worship of God. The Kaaba itself is not worshipped and has no divine attributes. In a REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 43 moving train or coach one should start Salat facing the Kaaba. It doesn’t matter afterwards what direction is assumed by the train etc. If the direction of Kaaba cannot be ascertained, Salat then should be said in any available direction. The five Salats are obligatory Fajr, Zohar, Asar, Maghrib and Isha. They must be said by all adults at the appointed times. In. special circumstances, combination of Zohar with Asar and of Maghrib with Isha prayer is permitted. In emergency e.g. war, earthquakes etc. when lives are at risk, other combination or combination of all prayers is allowed. Sunnats are omitted when prayers are combined. When travelling Zohar, Asar and Isha prayers are limited to two Rakaats and Sunnats are omitted. Tahaijad prayer merits special mention. It is a non-obligatory but very strongly recommended Salat It is essential for attaining high levels of spiritual progress. It is said any time from midnight upto Fajr (i.e. dawn) after first having slept for a while. The early hours of the morning are the best time to get completely absorbed in the worship of God with a fresh mind. The Holy Prophet used to spend hours in Tuhajjad. The Holy Quran promises an exalted position for those who are regular with this prayer. If Ahmadis are going to make an impact on the world — which no doubt they will — they will definitely need the sincere, humble supplications of this Salat The Vitr prayer, which is usually said after Isha prayer and consists of three rakaats, are actually a part of Tuhajjad prayer and can be said after this prayer. SERVICE TO MANKIND Along with the worship of God, Islam provides comprehensive guidance regarding service to mankind. True worship of God leads a righteous man to do good to mankind. It is impossible to love God and ignore His creation. In this connection Islam makes no distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Love of God cannot be won without spending for the benefit of humanity. All that God has given us should be used for such a purpose; thus, we should use our knowledge intelligence, time, status, physical efforts, hands, feet, and wealth for the service of mankind. If we use our cars to help the neighbour, if we fetch medicine for an old couple, if we teach a student, if we feed a poor hungry man or look after a traveller, we are spending in the way of Allah. It is a very superficial and wrong thinking to believe that we will 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS become poor by spending on humanity in the way of Allah. God has promised to increase our wealth and resources if we spend in His way. Thus there will be added spiritual blessings on such a person. Besides, the laws of nature clearly demonstrate that proper spending is always essential to increase wealth. It is quite obvious that the use of intellect, knowledge and physical powers is essential to improve them. A teacher always improves his knowledge by teaching. Physical exercise is essential to improve our physique. Similarly, a person who spends his wealth, will increase it. For example, if he spends upon himself, he will improve his health to earn more. If he spends upon his wife and children, they will assist him in his work. If he spends on the poor, the state of the economy will improve, providing him with better and plentiful oportunities to increase his wealth. Thus proper use of wealth and resources always results in their improvement. Above all, if spending is done to please God, then certainly He will bless the wealth of such a person. There is a very common misconception that requires explanation and correction. It is commonly claimed that I have worked for my money and I must keep it. Why should I spend it on anybody else? The simple truth is that we cannot earn any wealth without the help of others. As a doctor, for example, I need my assistants and patients. They are therefore contributing to my income. A businessman cannot function without good transport and peace in the street. People responsible for that peace have a share in his business. This fact has been recognised by the advanced societies of today and taxes are levied upon the individuals. Islam provided a perfect and comprehensive system 1400 years ago, and taught the truth that the poor have a share in the wealth of the society. This share must be paid to the Central funds for the benefit of the poor. It is called Zahct. Thus the basic purpose of Zakat is first to return to society that which is owed to it by the individual, so that his wealth is pure and honest. Secondly, by spending on the poor through Zakat, the general economic conditions of society are improved. This in turn, benefits everyone and makes society prosperous and wealthy. Zakatis an obligation. Itis paid atthe rate of2.5 per cent on all the spare cash, valuables, capital or stock above a certain limit, all of which were in possession for a full year. Zakat is not paid on things which are in use in daily life. Besides Zakat, the Holy Quran describes other areas where spending is important. Some of them are voluntary, others obligatory. All of them are REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 45 important and beneficial. It is important to realise that Zakat is not the only monetary obligation mentioned in the Holy Quran. It commands us to offer our lives and our wealth for jihad, or service of God. We learn from the companions of the Holy Prophet that they used to contribute freely to the defence of Islam. This was over and above their contributions for Zakat. Hazrat Abu Bakr, for example, once gave all his possessions for jihad. Today islam is facing a different kind of jihad. It is being misrepresented throughout the world with all the power of the media. Thousands of books have been written against Islam. Almost daily we see that the press and television spare no expense to give prominence to any news that can blacken the name of Islam. This has caused great misunderstanding of Islam among the general public. Strangely this treatment is not accorded to other religions. We never hear a word about Hinduism when people go on rampage in India. Christianity is never blamed for what is happening in Ireland or South America. This is the greatest task that is facing Islam today in bringing true Islam to the masses; to remove misunderstandings and misconceptions and to bring home to people the real beauties of Islam. This war of propagation of the true word to win the hearts and minds of people is the real jihad facing Ahmadiyyat today. The resources, the funds available to the Community are small in contrast to that being spent against Islam. The Holy Quran commanded and warned us 1400 years ago to dedicate our lives and wealth for this task. This is why, the Promised Messiah made it compulsory on every Ahmadi to contribute monthly at least 6.25 per cent of his income for this purpose. This is what is called Chanda Aam in Urdu. The various appeals launched by the Khalifas from time to time are also for the same purpose. The prime example is the Tehrik-e-Jadid Scheme launched in 1934 by the second Khalifa. Today Ahmadiyya missions are established all over the world. They are the direct result of this movement. Without these missions we cannot hope to present the true face of Islam to the world. As the circumstances dictate and new demands are perceived, the Khalifa requests the members of the Community to come forward and become, the Helpers of the Promised Messiah. As Ahmadiyyat continues to grow, these blessed opportunities to offer contribution for the divine scheme will diminish. Resources and funds will become plentiful and personal sacrifices will not be required on the same scale. It is, therefore, important for all of us today to realise the importance and great significance of our participation and make full use 46 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS of these opportunities. Besides Zakat and various contributions as laid down by the Promised Messiah and his successors, the Holy Quran describes other ways of spending as well. Sadqa (charity) is to help the poor on individual basis. (Zakat must be paid to central fund). It provides divine protection against difficulties and misfortunes. When God blesses us with a success, we should give away some money as a token of gratitude. Money should also be offered if we miss an opportunity to do a good deed or if we commit a mistake and pray for its forgiveness. Proper spending on one’s own self, wife and family is also recommended. The Holy Quran teaches us to pay the labourer immediately for his labour. It also commands us to return the favours of other people e.g. parents, teachers and spiritual leaders. Finally the Holy Quran teaches us to exchange gifts, because that leads to enhanced love and brotherhood in the Community. Thus these are the various ways in which the Holy Quran teaches us to use our wealth gainfully. Blessed is that person who follows these commandments and enjoys a prosperous and peaceful life. The Holy Quran forbids the use of interest. Interest encourages the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the labours of a great many. It also encourages people to live beyond their means. It is best not to borrow money, though in today’s world it is often difficult. The interest earned should not be used for personal benefit but given to help the propagation of true Islam. PROHIBITIONS We are what we eat. The food we eat affects us both physically and morally. Islam taught us this truth 1400 years ago, though even today science has not completely realised the significance of this reality. People who eat meat regularly are aggressive and make good soldiers; vegetarians are usually submissive and make poor soldiers. Effects of herbs on the body are used extensively for medicinal purposes. Islam thus teaches us to eat pure and wholesome food, it recommends a balanced diet and forbids eating anything in excess. There are certain things which are injurous to our physical, moral and spiritual health and Islam makes them unlawful. They are animals that die naturally; blood; the flesh of swine; an animal on which is invoked the name of any other than Allah; animals which have been strangled or beaten to death or killed by a fall or gored to death, or eaten by a wild animal, or one that has been slaughtered on an altar as an offering to idols. REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 47 It must be remembered that human life is very important and sacred in Islam. Thus, to save life, the use of blood or other unlawful things is quite permissible in Islam, as long as only that much quantity is used which is necessary. Intention must be to save life; Forgiveness of God should be sought in case a mistake is committed. The Holy Quran also forbids the use of alcohol. Questions about pork and alcohol are commonly asked. There is no doubt that medically, flesh of swine is much more injurious to health than other meats. More important, however, it is the unclean habits of the animal that can affect human behaviour if taken regularly over a certain period. Nobody denies that there is intrinsic uncleanliness in this animal. It eats filth and takes delight in living in dirty places. It has indecent habits and tends to practise sexual perversion. The argument that swine in this country are well looked after, and prevented from eating filth and carrying infective organisms does not hold ground. It is the nature of the animal which is intrinsic in its genes that cannot be changed even if we keep it in the most advanced pastures. Besides when God has provided us with so many other and better alternatives, why should we break this law even if we fail to understand it’ Prohibition of pork is not a new law brought by Islam; it is forbidden in the Old Testament as well. Only a brief word about alcohol. There is no doubt that it is causing immense harm to the social, moral and physical fabric of this society. Its effects are responsible for most of the crimes in this country. Medical authorities in this country have consistently and strongly advised the Government to take steps to reduce its consumption. The problem is that the majority of people are involved in its consumption and are totally helpless to do anything about it It is like a weighty chain around the neck that is too heavy to remove. Instead, it is made acceptable and attractive by giving it the description ‘having fun’ or ‘having a good time’. Even in this society, it is no fun for a wife when her husband comes home drunk. It is no fun to vomit. It is certainly no fun to get drunk and disorderly and spend a night in custody. Is it fun to regress to those immoral acts and activities which would not be acceptable while not under the influence? The truth is, leaving aside all its medical and social problems. The consumption of alcohol is the root cause of immorality. The Islamic teaching is meant to change us from a simple human being into a moral one; and then from a moral human being into a Godly one. Alcohol poisons the tree of morality. We cannot hope to move towards morality or God and indulge in alcohol at the same time. To be moral, to 48 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS sincerely love and worship God, we need to be in control of our senses. Alcohol prevents this control, it dulls the higher centres of the brain. Besides, during Salat or worship of God, we present ourselves in front of Him. Do we dare to go in front of the Queen or even our boss at work in a state of intoxication? We may be able to deceive our boss, but can we do the same to God? Thus from a purely spiritual point of view, one cannot hope to advance unless one stops the use of alcohol. These are some of the rules and regulations governing the daily life of a Muslim. Everyone of them is meant to improve the life of the individual. To begin with, they may appear difficult and restraining, but after a while one becomes accustomed to them and starts to enjoy their benefits. The Islamic code of life is like an advanced society. There are many more rules and regulations in the modern, advanced country for the benefit of its people. For example, we have great many restrictions about driving and parking in this country; there are very few such restrictions in a third world country. We accept these restrictions because they are essential for the safe and smooth movement of the traffic. Islam is the most advanced religion. It teaches us great discipline so that we become a useful member of society and gradually move towards God. The ultimate prize of these rules and regulations is the establishment of a living human relationship with God. DIVINE SUPPORT It is not a matter for wonder that a poor, powerless, helpless, unlettered orphan who was alone at a time when all people possessed a plentitude of financial, military and intellectual means, brought such, a bright teaching that he silenced everyone with his conclusive arguments and clear proofs? He pointed out the mistakes of those who were claimed as great philosophers. He exhibited such power that he pulled down rulers from their thrones and put poor people on them in their place. If this was not Divine support, then what was it? Can anyone evercome the whole world with reason and knowledge and strength and force without Divine support? (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) What is Islam? Islam literally means Peace, Surrender of one’s Will; and to be in amity and concord. The significance of the name Islam is the attainment of a life of perfect peace and eternal happiness through complete surrender to the Will of God. The.Quran—the Holy Book of the Muslims—interprets it to b’e the religion whose teachings are in consonance with human nature. Islam, as the Quran has stated (5:4), is the completion of the religion inaugurated by God in the beginning of the world, on His sending the Quran through the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. As a child is taught his alphabet, so God taught the religion to the world gradually and little by little, by sending His prophets at different times and to different peoples. When the world reached that stage of understanding when it was ready for the final lesson, He sent the last and complete Book through the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. This Book not only corrects the errors which had found their way into various religions, but preaches the truths which have not been preached before, on account of special circumstances of the society or the early stage of its development. At the same time it gathers together in itself the truths which were contained in any Divine revelation granted to any people for the guidance of men (The Quran 9 8:4). Lastly, it meets all the spiritual and moral requirements of an ever advancing humanity. This is Islam which is wrongly called Muhammadanism. According to Islam, the object of man’s life is its complete unfoldment. Islam does not support the idea that man is born in sin. It teaches that everyone has within him the seed of perfect development and it rests solely with a person himself to make or mar his fortune. We created man in the best make says the Holy Quran (95:5). The cardinal doctrine of Islam is the Unity of Godhead. There is none worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger. He is free from all defects, Holy and Transcendent. He is All Good, All Mercy and All Power. He has no partner. He neither begets nor is He begotten, because these are the traits of frail and weakhumanity. Furthermore, Islamhelps us to establish a permanent relationship with God and to realise Him during our earthly life as our Helper in all our affairs and undertakings. This Unity of God is the first and foremost pillar of Islam and every other belief hangs upon it. Islam requires belief in all the prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Gonfucious and Zoroaster. We regard them all (and many more not mentioned here) as heavenly teachers born to reform and regenerate man and lead him to God. Adherents of some other religions may consider it an act of piety to disrespectful words and heap abuse on the prophets of other religions, but if a Muslim were to show the slightest disrespect towards the founder of any other faith, he does so atthe cost ofhis own faith. He has to utter the respectful benediction Alaihis-Salam, peace be upon him, after mentioning the name of every prophet. Thus Islam establishes peace between all religions. The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-six years the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to millions of readers and many fortunate persons have recognized the truth of Islam and accepted it through its study. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutation of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamic teachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its Holy Founder. Printed by Raqeem Press, Islamabad, Sheephatch Lane, Tilford, Surrey GU10 2AO. U.K. Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16 Gressenhall Road, London SW18 SQL.