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The Need For Righteousness

5The Review of Religions – February 2004 On 8th January 1903, after Maghrib prayers, three people took the Oath of Allegiance at the hand of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. The three included Sheikh Noor Ahmad Sahib from Abbotabad and Sayyed Hamid Ali Shah Sahib of Baddumalli and one other person. After the Initiation, the Promised Messiah(as) addressed the assembled group. Presented below is a translation of that address delivered in Urdu. The original text of this address has been taken from Malfoozat, Volume 4, pp 395-402. [Translator’s Note: The English translation of the Holy Qur’an, presented in italics, is by Hadhrat Maulvi Sher Ali Sahib(ra). Where the Promised Messiah( a s ) h a s himself stated a certain inter- pretation of the Arabic verse, this is incorporated in the main body of the text]. ( Translated by Amatul-Hadi Ahmad) It is essential for our Community in these troubled times when the wind of misguided neglect and divergence from the guided path is blowing all around, that it should adopt Taqwa (that is, righteousness). There is no rev- erence for the commandments of God in the world today. There is no consideration for rights and covenants. There is an indulgence The Need of Righteousness 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 Muhammad, 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. 6 The Review of Religions – February 2004 in the material world and its concerns to an extreme degree. Upon suffering even the minutest material loss, people are prepared to abandon the religious aspects and squander the rights of God. All these things can be observed in the cases that regularly come before the courts and those that are disputed at the time of sharing of inheritance. The treatment of others is motivated by greed. People are found to be very weak in controlling emotional outbursts. They do not dare to commit sins until such time as God imposes upon them a state of weakness but when they regain strength and they find an opportunity to commit sins, they immediately indulge in sin. Today, in this age you may search everywhere but you will find that it is as if true righteousness has been lifted out of this world and there is no sincerity of faith anywhere. However, because God Almighty does not desire that the seed of true righteousness and faith should go to waste, whenever He sees that the ‘crop’ is about to be destroyed c o m p l e t e l y, He creates a new ‘crop’. The same fresh Qur’an exists about which God Almighty had stated: Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian. (Ch.15: v.10) A large portion of Ahadith, the traditions of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam, with its blessings is also in existence but there is no faith within hearts nor is there the practice of goodness. It is for the purpose of regeneration of these qualities that God Almighty has appointed me [as the Reformer]. God saw that the field is vacant but the demand of the attribute of His Divinity is such that it did not like the fact that the field should remain vacant and people should remain so distant. Hence, by way of a challenge, God Almighty now wishes to create a people who are [spiritually] alive and our preaching is for this purpose that the life of Ta q w a, that is, righteousness may be achieved. The Need for Righteousness 7The Review of Religions – February 2004 There are many different types of people. There are some who take great pride in the bad deeds they commit whereas it is not something that can possibly be considered worthy of pride. Even the act of merely avoiding the bad is not a deed that can be included under acts of virtue nor can it be termed true virtue as even animals can learn similar behaviour. Mian Hussein Beg who was a merchant had a dog that had been trained to guard over bread and it did so [without ever daring to eat it]. We have heard of a cat that had been similarly trained. Some people wished to test the cat and it was shut up in a room with a few items such as milk, meat and sweet halwa that might tempt it. After a couple of days when the door was opened the cat was found dead without any items of food having been touched. One ought to be ashamed at the fact that being animals they obeyed human command in such a good manner and yet there are human beings who do not obey the command of God. There exist many such examples that can act as a reprimand for a person’s inner self. There exist many faithful dogs but regrettable is the case of the person who does not possess even the standard of a dog. He should then tell us what it is that he asks of God? God has granted to man such faculties that have not been granted to any other creation. However, the capacity of avoiding the bad [in obedience to a command] is so basic that it is shared by the beasts. Some horses are seen to pick up the whip from the ground, should it drop from the master’s hand and give it to the master. Similarly, they lie down, sit or arise at the command of their master and they show full obedience. Hence, it cannot be the cause of pride for man that he avoids a handful of sins that may be related to his hands, feet or other physical parts. Those who actually commit such sins are like beasts. Just as dogs and cats put their mouths in a vessel that may be left around uncovered and they eat whatever they see lying around, so these people are the same [in committing sins] – they are like dogs and cats. Ultimately they get caught and end up in prison. You should go and see how the prisons are full of such ‘Muslims’. The Need for Righteousness 8 The Review of Religions – February 2004 There is now an opportunity [for rejuvenation] and these are the days when there is a surge of God’s [mercy]. There are some periods that are the time of God’s mercy in which people find the capacity [and power to attain spiritual progress]. The present is such a time. We do not suggest that the business of worldly affairs should be abandoned altogether. What we wish is that efforts for worldly affairs should be made up to a point and the world should be earned with the intention that it should become a servant of religion. It is not at all right that a person should become so engrossed in the world that he f o rgets the aspect of faith altogether when he is neither aware of fasting nor of Salat as is the condition of the people these days. Take for example the mass gathering at Delhi where it is said nearly one hundred and fifty thousand people were gathered – in my view all of them are only interested in worldliness. It has been stated in a Hadith, [that is, tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) of Islam], that God dislikes kings the most because, like a great goddess, the closer one gets to them the harder the heart becomes. We do not prohibit anyone from carrying on trade to the extent that it be given up altogether but we say this that people should reflect upon the question as to where their forefathers are now? They should consider how we have those who are very dear to us and then they slip out of our very hands when death creates a great distance between them and us. Who knows the account of the year ahead W h e re are the friends who were with us the year before? At the present time the scourge of the plague is upon the land and it is said that it spans a period of seventy years and nothing is of any use before it – all effort is useless – and it comes for the purpose of reinforcing the belief in the existence of God. Hence, know that He does truly exist and that nothing can save one from the affliction that comes from God except God. Yo u The Need for Righteousness 9The Review of Religions – February 2004 should adopt true righteousness in order that God may be pleased with you. When a human being becomes like a rebellious horse, he suff e r s punishment. Those who are distinguished understand a hint just as a trained horse does. Such good people are recipients of revelation from God – they receive w a h i and a very fine point here is this that the meaning of wahi is also given as ‘indication’ or ‘hint’. However, when the time of receiving punishment passes, the time for w a h i begins and this is necessary because this matter is not easily resolved. Ta q w a, righteousness, is not such an easy matter that it can be achieved merely through some verbal utterances, rather it contains within it a share of the satanic sin. Its example is like that of a sweet of which even a tiny amount can attract countless ants. The same is true of satanic sin and it informs of human weakness. If Allah had so willed He would not have placed such weakness in man but Allah desires that man should know that the fountainhead of all power is A l l a h ’s Being. No Prophet or Messenger has the power to grant this capacity to others. However, when Allah grants this power to man, there is a transformation in him but to attain it prayer is essential. S a l a t alone is such a good act that its performance removes the satanic weaknesses and it is this that is termed ‘prayer’. Satan desires that a human being should stay weak in its observance because he knows that when a person reforms himself, the person achieves such reform by himself. Hence, it is a condition that one should become clean and pure – Satan loves man as long as there is filth attached to him. Respectful reverence is essential before one can request favours of God. The wise always keep in view the respect due to a king before seeking something from a king. This is the reason why God has taught, in the Chapter A l – Fatiha, the manner in which a prayer should be offered and it is taught that: All praise belongs to Allah who is Lord of all the worlds (Ch.1: v.2) The Need for Righteousness 10 The Review of Religions – February 2004 The Gracious. (Ch.1: v.3) that is One Who gives without begging or asking. The Merciful. (Ch.1: v.3) that is the One Who bestows upon man the best fruit of his true effort. Master of the Day of Judgement. (Ch.1: v.4) that is, all matters of judgement are in His hand – He can punish or f o rgive. The judgement of the other world as well as of this world, all is in His hands. When a person praises God this much, he becomes aware of the Greatness of God who is Rab, Rahman and Raheem (the Lord, the Gracious and the Merciful O ne). A person had hitherto thought of God as being the unseen but now he considers Him to be present and he calls out to Him: Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the right path (Ch.1: Vs.5,6) ..the path that is absolutely straight without any flaws. There is a path of the blind in that they make strenuous efforts without achieving any desired outcome. After this, [the prayer taught in al- Fatiha continues]: the path of those upon whom Thou has bestowed blessings. (Ch.1: v.7) and this path is exactly that path which leads to the reward of [special] blessings for those who tread upon it. After [this it states]: The Need for Righteousness 11The Review of Religions – February 2004 That is, not [the path] of those who incurred thy displeasure nor of those who have gone astray. (Ch.1: v.7) [The prayer contained in verse 6 of a l – F a t i h a], Ihd-e-nassirat-al Mustaqim, Guide us in the right path, applies to the way of all things – worldly or religious. For instance, until a physician finds the ‘straight path’ [to a patient’s illness] he cannot cure a patient. Similar is the case of lawyers and all other professions. There is a straight path for all knowledge and occupations – upon finding this path everything becomes easy.] [At this point someone raised the question as to why Prophets are in need of this prayer when they are already on the straight path to which the Promised Messiah ( a s ) replied that] they supplicate with this prayer in order to attain greater progress and a higher station. This prayer I h d – e – nassirat-al Mustaqim is a supplication that the believers will make even in the other world because just as there is no limit to God so there is no limit to the level and station to which one can progress. [Returning to the main topic of righteousness, the Promised Messiah(as) continued], in order to become righteous, it is necessary for a person that he should become steadfast in abandoning and abstaining from such sins as a d u l t e r y, theft, meanness, haughtiness, usurping the right of others and demeaning others. However, it is also essential that while one becomes steadfast in abstaining from the bad characteristics, one should at the same time inculcate the noble characteristics such as kindness, graciousness and sympathy for others and should show sincere loyalty and be true to God. A person should seek to serve in such a manner that it would earn him the lofty station of praise from God. It is through such means that a person is called a Muttaqi , that is, a righteous person and those who are the embodiment of such qualities collectively are the truly righteous, (that is, the term Muttaqi is only fully applicable when the noble characteristics are collectively found in a person and The Need for Righteousness 12 The Review of Religions – February 2004 not if these qualities are found individually). It is for such [truly righteous] people that [the Holy Qur’an states]: And no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Ch.2: v.63) After this what else could they possibly want? God becomes the guardian of such people as is stated: And He protects the righteous. (Ch.7: v.197) It is stated in a Hadith that God becomes the hands with which a person holds, the eye with which he sees and the ear with which he hears and the feet with which he walks. It is narrated in another Hadith [that God states] ‘he who is an enemy of My friend, I say to him be ready to face Me’. In another place it is stated that when someone attacks a friend of God, God swoops down on him as a lioness pounces upon whoever may dare to snatch away her cubs. The true principle of gaining benefit from the fountainhead of God’s Mercy is [to remember that] it is a distinctive characteristic of God that [His attitude to a human being reflects the action of that human being] – if a person takes a step [towards God] then God, too, moves [towards that human being]. However, the special Grace and Mercy of God is not with every one and for this reason when these are bestowed upon someone they are referred to as being a sign for them. [Its example can be seen in the life of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) of Islam]. The opponents of the Holy Prophet(sa) did their utmost to defeat him but their efforts came to nothing. They even planned to take his life but ultimately they were defeated. Such is the [nature of goodness and trust] that is proposed by God [in order to be the recipient of His special grace]. The special efforts that are made [for the attainment of God’s special grace] should be presented before God and not before us. Let your hearts flow The Need for Righteousness with the love of God and with the acknowledgement of His Greatness and for the attainment of such a state there is nothing greater than S a l a t. Compulsory fasting comes but only once a year for a month and Zakat is only for those who possess wealth but Salat is such that each one of every condition has to perform it five times daily and you should not waste it at all. It should be repeated often and it should be performed in such a way that one feels that one is standing before the most powerful Being Who can, should He so desire, accept one’s prayer there and then – in that state, at that moment even at that very second. Worldly rulers are dependent upon material wealth, hence, their concern about the depletion of their wealth but God’s treasury is always full. All that is required when a person stands before God is certainty that he is standing before the most powerful Being Who listens and knows and Who could grant there and then should He so desire through kindness. One should supplicate with deep felt emotion without becoming disheartened. A persistence in such practise would lead a person to see (the pleasure of) it very soon and other blessings of God would also be with him and he will eventually find God. This then is the method that should be practised with steadfastness. However, it is the case that prayer of the cruel transgressor does not find acceptance because such a person is neglectful towards God. Should a son not care about his father and have no sense of his obligations to his father, the father, too, would not care about the son. Then why should God care about such a person? 13 The Need for Righteousness The Review of Religions – February 2004 TH E T R U E P R I N C I P L E O F G A I N I N G B E N E F I T F R O M T H E FOUNTAINHEAD OF GOD’S MERCY IS [TO REMEMBER THAT] IT I S A D I S T I N C T I V E C H A R A C T E R I S T I C O F GO D T H AT [ HI S ATTITUDE TO A HUMAN BEING REFLECTS THE ACTION OF THAT HUMAN BEING] – IF A PERSON TAKES A STEP [TOWARDS GOD] THEN GOD, TOO, MOVES [TOWARDS THAT HUMAN BEING]. [Here someone raised the question as to how was it that the prayer of Bal’am Ba’our was accepted to which the Promised Messiah ( a s ) replied] that was a trial not a prayer and in the end he was destroyed. Prayer is the supplication of those who are dear to God. Otherwise it is the case that God listens to [the prayers of all mankind including] the Hindus, for instance, and some of their wishes are fulfilled but the word for that is trial not prayer. For example, if such a person were to ask for bread, would God not give him bread? He has made a promise to this effect [and the promise is contained in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an]: there is no creature that moves in the earth but it is for Allah to provide it with sustenance. (Ch.11: V.7) Dogs and cats too fill their bellies. Worms and insects also find their sustenance but the [Arabic] term ‘Astafeena’ is for special instances [where special favours are sought]. 14 The Need for Righteousness The Review of Religions – February 2004 PLEASE NOTE: In this journal, for the ease of non-Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or ‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy P rophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Salallahu alaihi wassalam’ meaning ‘Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an a b b reviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived fro m ‘Alaih salato wassalam’ for the respect a Muslim reader utters. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘Radhiallahtala’ and is used for Companions of a P rophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him or her (when followed by the relevant Arabic pronoun) Also ru or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta ’ a l a m e a n s the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him.