Islam · Ramadan

Ramadan: The First Ten Days Of Mercy

First Ten Days of Ramadan blog.png

By Navida Sayed

Life is full of opportunities, sometimes we take advantage of them and sometimes we don’t, later wishing for another chance. One amazing opportunity never to be missed, which comes knocking at every Muslim individual’s door, is when Allah the Almighty opens His doors of mercy, forgiveness and salvation in the blessed month of Ramadan.

The first ten days of Ramadan are recognised as the days of mercy, because Muslims enter a phase of sacrifice by performing an act of worship in the form of fasting from dawn to dusk. This enables Muslims to understand how the hungry and poor people in the world feel and in return to pray for them, as well as thank Allah for the sustenance they have. From a medical perspective ‘Research shows fasting is a powerful lifestyle tool for combating obesity, insulin resistance and related health problems.’i

Over the course of the thirty days, fasting is a time for self-improvement and self-development; overall the most rewarding and rejuvenating experience during the month of Ramadan is spiritual reflection and reformation of man through prayers, seeking Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: He who observes the fast during Ramadan out of sincerity of faith and in hope of earning merit will have his past sins forgiven him. (Bokhari and Muslim)

Ramadan is the most opportunistic time in the year when Allah enables man to reach out to Him when He opens the gates of Paradise. In relation to this there is the following tradition of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

When Ramadan arrives the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and satans are put in chains. (Bukhari and Muslim).

The Holy Prophet, (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said that from the first night of the month of Ramadan, satanic forces are chained, rebellious elements are disciplined and the shutters of Hell are drawn without exception. All the gates of Paradise are opened and a crier shouts: ‘O the seeker of righteous deeds proceed, and O the recliner to evil intentions desist’. Many sinners are granted amnesty from Hell, and this occurs every night of the month. (Bukhari and Muslim)..

Ramadan is the special month of fasting, prayers, repentance and ‘Zikr Ilahi’ (remembrance of Allah), in relation to this the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said,

‘It should be remembered that the fast does not mean merely that a person should abstain from food and drink over a certain period. During the fast one should be occupied greatly with the remembrance of God. The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) occupied himself greatly with worship during the month of Ramadan. During that month one should discard one’s preoccupation with eating and drinking, and cutting asunder from these needs should address oneself wholly towards God. Unfortunate is the person who is bestowed material bread and pays no attention to spiritual bread. Material bread strengthens the body, and spiritual bread sustains the soul and sharpens the spiritual faculties. Seek the Grace of God, as all doors are opened by His Grace.’ (Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 316)

During this blessed month we can ask ourselves, how are we going to avail this opportunity in the best way? In a Friday Sermon, Hazrat Khalīfatul-Masīh V (May Allāh be his Helper), worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said ‘when Allah is so forgiving in ordinary times then during Ramadan His mercy must shower down. Fortunate are those who take advantage of His mercy and His forgiveness. There is still time to seek His mercy and forgiveness. When a person turns to Him in absolute humility then Allah states no one is as merciful as I am. In order to attain Divine mercy and forgiveness we need to look and search. Allah declares especially in these days that His door is open. Whoever will look for Him will find His door open. Allah has employed the words ‘I am near’ (2:187) in the Qur’an when citing Ramadan. Allah says come into the refuge of My forgiveness. Even in ordinary times My mercy is more and My chastisement is less but in the days of Ramadan further doors of mercy are opened.’

Hazrat Khalīfa-tul-Masīh V (May Allāh be his Helper) also said ‘whenever a person ‘walks’ towards Allah, Allah runs to him. As the Qur’an states: ‘And as for those who strive in Our path – We will, surely, guide them in Our ways. And, verily, Allah is with those who do good.’ (29:70).’ii

The main objective of the first ten days of Ramadan is to practice being merciful because it is only when the heart becomes merciful that it can be humbled to a state of compassion to seek forgiveness.

i Mercola.com. (2019). One of the Worst Intermittent Fasting Mistakes. [online] Available at: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/07/02/intermittent-fasting-with-ketogenic-more-effective.aspx.

ii https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2008-09-19.html

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Islam

Most Excellent Exemplar: the Holy Prophet’s Influence in the Modern World

Most Excellent Exemplar blog

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

The Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) role in our day-to-day lives as Muslims is obvious and profound. But how often do we step back and consider his influence over the world at large – an influence still prevalent to this day? The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is a figure unlike any other in history, who transformed its course forever; sent by God over 1400 years ago to teach mankind and to this day, we are still learning.

Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) life has been a source of wonder and awe for billions throughout history, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. In his book ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’, Michael H Hart placed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as the most influential person in human history, describing him as, “the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.”

Whilst this is a clear recognition of the impact the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) has had on this world, the truest and most honourable quote regarding him comes from the Quran itself: ‘Verily you have in the Prophet of Allah an excellent model, for him who fears Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah much.’ (33:22).

In an age which seems characterised by conflict, it perhaps is natural that upon contemplating the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) influence in the world today, I was most inclined to look at his unparalleled example in upholding justice and keeping the peace. Whilst the extent to which he would go to appease possible conflict is an example which remains unmatched, it is still possible to see its effect working on modern day institutions and laws.

For example, during war, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) set out rules and regulations which bear a striking resemblance to modern laws of war which are internationally recognised. The Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) rules, which in fact were far better than anything the world has yet implemented, included: not striking fear into the general population or harming civilians; that the least possible harm should be done to the enemy; that prisoners of war should be kept in comfort and clothed and fed as well as the Muslims were themselves.

In modern day law, the principles of distinction (wherein belligerents must distinguish between combatants and civilians) and military necessity (making sure any attack is intended to help in the defeat of an enemy, and doesn’t cause excessive harm) are internationally recognised.

Furthermore, the Geneva Convention, established in 1929, outlines the rules regarding the fair treatment of prisoners of war . Once more, the influence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is potent, though his original example is even more distinguished. His laws further include the protection of all women, children and elderly, fruit-bearing trees, crops, public buildings and religious figures.

Today, these laws are perceived as modern and progressive – to think a leader would have established and upheld them 1400 years ago seems impossible. Yet the truth of the matter is that they are not an original creation – rather, they seem an imitation of the guidelines set out by Allah’s messenger centuries ago. Not only has the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) example stood the test of time, it continues to exert its influence over the modern world today.

References:
Features · Holy Quran

Prohibitions in Islam – Alcohol and Gambling

Prohibitions blog

Fezia Haq, Southfields

‘O ye who believe! intoxicants and games of chance… are only an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So shun each one of them that you may prosper.’ [Chapter 5, Verse 91]

‘No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms’ [1], read a BBC article in late 2018. Yet it is one of the intoxicants highly publicised in the media, with a study by Barker et al. (2018) finding that in the year 2015, over 50% of daytime UK television portrayed alcohol content [2]. Its detrimental impacts can be seen in statistics [3]: in the UK, there were over nine thousand alcohol-related deaths in 2016; in the same year, there were around 1.13 million hospital admissions due to alcohol consumption in England; finally, between 2014 and 2016, 67% of all violent incidents were related to alcohol use in England and Wales.

Regarding the ‘game of chance’, better known as gambling, we find that in the year 2018, the gambling or betting industries of the UK had a total of £14.4 billion in gross-gambling-yield. In the same year, 47% of online gamblers reported advertisements to have prompted them to bet [4]. A Guardian article of 2017 highlighted that a government commission found more than 2 million people in the UK to be addicted to gambling or at risk of developing a problem. The case studies mentioned in the article suggest that there is a direct link of gambling with crime, health issues and problems with money – including fraud and loss [5]. Certainly, there are better places such wealth can be spent on.

Even before such studies emerged, we were blessed to have the Holy Qur’an warn us of the use of all intoxicants, including alcohol and wine, as well as involvement in gambling. In the verse above, the Arabic word ‘Khamr’ is used to explain anything that causes drunkenness. The fourth Khalifa (Caliph) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) eloquently explains this verse[6], stating that alcohol and gambling have ‘satanic elements’ to them. Gambling also impacts our consciousness, and is therefore a vice which must be avoided.

The verse that follows goes on to call out these two acts, and His Holiness’ commentary of it elucidates that these acts break society up, cause discontentment as well as grudges in life. They also hinder a person from following his or her religious duties and from carrying out good works. As we can see, God has placed much wisdom behind these prohibitions, since our involvement in them is not only dangerous to ourselves, but also to those around us, risking well-being, safety and wealth as well as our spiritual states.

Prohibitions may sound like limiting us in what we can do and achieve, but the wisdom of those in the Holy Qur’an are there for the benefit of communities. In the words of our beloved Khalifa His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper): “Sins like gambling and alcohol consumption are known as ‘ismul kabeer’ (great sin). Ismul kabeer is a sin that repeatedly incites one to commit sin.”[7]

When matters have been opened up so much, it only becomes incumbent upon us to stay away from these vices.

REFERENCES:

[1] Ives, L. (2018). No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45283401.

[2] Barker, A. et al. (2018). A content analysis of alcohol content in UK television. [online] Oxford Academic Journal of Public Health. Available at:

https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/advance-article/doi/10.1093/pubmed/fdy142/5078451

[3] Alcohol Change UK. (n.d.). Alcohol statistics | Alcohol Change UK. [online] Available at: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets/alcohol-statistics.

[4] Gamblingcommission.gov.uk. (n.d.). Statistics and research. [online] Available at: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/Statistics-and-research/Statistics-and-research.aspx.

[5] Davies, R. (2017). Number of problem gamblers in the UK rises to more than 400,000. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/24/problem-gamblers-uk-gambling-commission-report.

[6] Tarjumatul Quran – Surah al-Maidah [The Banquet]: 84 – 96. (1995). London, UK: MTA International. Available at:

[7] Alislam.org. (2010). Friday Sermon: Jalsa Salana Spain. [online] Available at: https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2010-04-02.html.

Khan, A. (2016). Why Alcohol is Prohibited in Islam. [online] Review of Religions. Available at: http://www.reviewofreligions.org/12519/why-alcohol-is-prohibited-in-islam/#.

Why Alcohol is Prohibited in Islam

Features

Pain and Suffering; Is There A Purpose?

Pain & Suffering blog

Nabila Khalid, Bolton

I have heard too many people deny the existence of God, with the rationale that if there was a ‘good’ God why would a He allow suffering?

If suffering is a punishment of our sins, then why do bad things happen to good people?

If suffering is due to free will then how does that explain congenital and hereditary conditions? It is evident that these questions are as a result of a superficial view of suffering and a very naive way of thinking that…

Suffering is bad – If there was no suffering, the world would be a better place – There is suffering so either (A) there is no God, or (B) God is bad.

Because on a deeper look you realise that it isn’t as simple as suffering or no suffering. Of course this question of evil and suffering is one that many philosophers and religious scholars have tried to answer.

In his book ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’, the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad has devoted a full chapter to the question of suffering.

1 – WHAT IS SUFFERING?

Suffering is not an independent entity – it is an awareness of the absence of happiness and comfort, just as our sense of darkness comes from our awareness of the absence of light. If we want to get rid of suffering we would have to forego the sense of comfort and relief.

When a patient of depression and anxiety disorders undergoes treatment from a therapist – one of the steps involved is a realisation that we must accept and experience our pains rather than try to escape them. From a biological point of view experiencing a small amount of pain is necessary to protect us from further damage by triggering the withdrawal reflex.

Pain is a necessity for evolution as the following explains:

‘Pain as an evolutionary necessity’ is a title that may rise an immediate rejection, if it is not clear that the term is here referred to the acute pain that signals a risk: the risk that the disease, which pain is part of, could reversibly damage or even destroy without any possibility of appeal the physical or mental integrity of one of us.

The inherited condition known as congenital insensitivity to pain is a frequent cause of premature death due to complications of trauma and injuries. This is probably the most striking evidence of the defensive role carried by our ability in perceiving pain”
2 – WHO SUFFERS & WHY THEM?

The explanation that all suffering is a punishment for our crimes is incomplete and flawed because clearly this cannot explain many forms of suffering such as natural disasters or genetic conditions. Not all suffering can be categorised as a punishment, nor all happiness as a reward.

We must recognise that cause and effect is not the same as crime and punishment. Although some cases of suffering can be attributed to being a punishment of man’s own actions, other cases are in fact the cause for which the effect is evolution
“Surveys reveal people with disabilities consistently report a quality of life as good as, or sometimes even better than, that of non-disabled people.”

“Immediately after the onset of injury or disease, one can feel profoundly depressed, and even contemplate suicide. Yet after a period of time, people adapt to their new situation, re-evaluate their attitude to the disability, and start making the most of it. Sometimes, they are driven to greater achievements than before.”

But imagine a scenario where every child is born equally healthy. We would still be unhappy because we are all born looking different which causes a lot of psychological suffering for those who are perceived to be unattractive. So then for the creator to be fair, we must all have the exact same appearance. And then that would lead the question to the psychological suffering due to differences in intellect. Ultimately, we would all have to be clones for there to be complete fairness.
WHAT WOULD THE ABSENCE OF SUFFERING LOOK LIKE?

In short:
1. There cannot be evolution
2. There would be no invention
3. There must be no variation
4. There must be no free will
5. We would all be a senseless mass of vegetation
6. Therefore, there would also be no happiness
“We must go back all the way in the history of life; all the way to the very beginning and start to build the ladder of evolution anew, rung by rung. But try as we may, we are bound to get stuck at the very first step, the starting point of life. We would not be able to take a single step forward because an equal distribution of happiness and total absence of suffering would entirely eliminate the impetus for evolution. There would be no struggle for existence, no natural selection, no survival of the fittest. Not a single progressive step would be taken by the first, most rudimentary forms of life.”

Is a world with no suffering really a better world? Would we all be happier? Given the choice between a meaningless and vegetative but pain-free existence or one with pain, purpose and progression the majority of us, if not all, would chose the latter.

Suffering proves the existence of a conscious God. It proves that there is a plan and a purpose for our existence, one which has been thought through to such detail and designed at microscopic levels that we cannot even comprehend at a first glance.

“Blessed is He in whose hand is the kingdom, and He has power over all things;
Who has created death and life that He might try you—which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Most Forgiving.”

(Holy Quran, 67:2-3)

 

A Point of View: Happiness and disability

https://www.alislam.org/library/books/RRKT.pdf

Features

The Importance of Truth in a World of ‘Fake News’

Truth blog

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

I grew up hearing the saying of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) being repeated to me. ‘Truth saves, falsehood destroys’. I never really questioned it. Of course, the truth saves! It is only very recently, when I have seen the lines between fact and fiction being blurred, that I have taken a more invested approach to the truth and its necessity.

It seems that within a few years a war has been waged on the media in a battle for truth. As journalists and news outlets came under fire for ‘fake news’ (indeed, ‘fake news’ was even named as a Collins Dictionary word of the year), there has been a great cultural shift towards searching for this truth and questioning whether it even exists. It is a time where we must look around us and try to find, amongst all the uncertainty and rumours, glimpses of truth and uncover them so that they may dazzle brighter than any lie told. Indeed, before we embark on uncovering the greatest truths of the world, we must look towards ourselves and put ourselves under harsh interrogation. Are we complicit in allowing the creation of an untrustworthy atmosphere?

Perhaps my first realisation regarding the truth was understanding that lying is a coward’s tool. It is an escape route for those who do not have the conviction to follow through with their beliefs or their actions. It’s a valid point, there have been moments and places in history (and regrettably, even in the present) where it is not easy to find comfort in the conviction of our beliefs, no matter how moral they may be. However, truth, in the face of even tyranny, is paramount and whilst the stakes may be higher than imaginable, surely Allah the Almighty lets no good deed go to waste.

In this situation, the example that Hadhrat Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) left for us is most inspiring.
Hadhrat Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) was a slave and therefore when he accepted Islam, he was subjected to the cruellest of punishments and torture by his owner Ummayya who whipped him and forced him to lie on hot sand, had him dragged through the streets until he bled ceaselessly. He was told the torture would only stop if he renounced Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His only reply was ‘Ahad, Ahad’ – ‘God is only One’.

Despite the pain his body suffered, he remained truthful to his beliefs. Indeed, his conviction to his true belief ‘saved’ him, as he had a very dear place in the heart of the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The Holy Qur’an states ‘And confound not truth with falsehood nor hide the truth, knowingly.’ It is this word ‘confounds’ that fascinates me. There is a clear indication that the two can be confused, though they must not be. Words revealed to the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) over 1,400 years ago seem to perfectly encapsulate today’s war on truth.

Why are the lines so blurred? Have they always been so blurred? I would argue that they blur when we lose sight of our goals. When the consequence of a lie seems more attractive than that of the truth, it is not difficult to disguise lies as truths. Today we see politicians and media personalities chasing power and wealth through lies that are only fractioning society. If, instead, our sights were collectively placed on what is truly beneficial for us all, the truth would be the one to guide our narratives and thus lead us to bettering our world for the present and the future. Once we face the truth head on and see our flaws we will be forced to overcome them and make peace with them, leading us to a harmonious society that is forever improving, as opposed to fashioning tales of our unquestionable superiority and thus ignoring our faults which are only left to fester and breed more faults.

The truth is not always easy to tell. Nor is it easy to face. But indisputably it is that which is best for us. It forces us to interrogate ourselves and guides us on the road to self-improvement. Whether it is a matter of a personal truth or part of a larger narrative with national and global consequences, honesty is what will lead us to peace and harmony. To confuse truth with falsehood is a slippery slope; sometimes we even believe our own lies. Let us not slip so much that we lose sight of our priorities only to wake up one day not recognising ourselves or our surroundings, that we have been complicit in creating. We cannot expect to arrive to a moral outcome using immoral means.

i. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Sayyedna-Bilal.pdf

ii. Holy Qur’an Chapter 2 Verse 43 English translation by Maulvi Sher Ali(ra)

Islam · Women

Mothers

Mothers-blog

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

On Mothering Sunday children all over Britain show love for their mothers by giving cards and gifts, often of flowers and chocolates. However while the gesture is a lovely one, we don’t actually need a special day to show our love and appreciation; we should be doing this every day. After all as the person who has done so much for us our mother deserves more than just a single ‘day’.

“…His mother bears him with pain, and brings him forth with pain. And the bearing of him and his weaning takes thirty months…” Holy Qur’an 46:16 (1)

For nine months they carried us with their bodies changing as we developed, their discomfort increasing, until they gave birth through pain and danger. They overcame exhaustion as they themselves recovered to feed and care for us, watching carefully as we strengthened and grew. They taught us about God, about the world, about ourselves as they satisfied our inquisitive natures. They prayed for us with pain and love from the heart as only mothers can do.

There is great regard for mothers in the teachings of Islam as illustrated by verses in the Holy Qur’an which help us understand what they go through, as well verses advocating good treatment of parents. Also in traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) where he has emphasised the importance of mothers and reminded followers of all she went through:

“A person came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and complained that his mother was ill-tempered. The Holy Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, `She was not ill-tempered when she kept you in her womb for nine months.’ The person insisted, `Sir, I am telling you the truth that she is ill-tempered.’ The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, `She was not ill-tempered when she used to keep awake the whole night for your sake and fed you.’ The man replied, `I have recompensated all the favours of my mother.’ The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) then asked: `How have you recompensated her?’ He replied, `I have helped her perform Hajj by putting her on my shoulders.’ After hearing this, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) put a question to the complainant, `Can you recompensate the painful pangs your mother bore at the time of your birth?”(2)

The pain and difficulty involved in the process of carrying a child and giving birth naturally creates an unbreakable bond of love between mothers and their children, a bond continued as they bring up their children, caring for them, teaching them right from wrong and laying the foundations for their children to become productive members of society.

As His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V said:

“Remember that the key for any nation to thrive and progress lies in the hands of the mothers of that nation.” (3)

What a responsibility to hold, that of nation builders, and also what a great honour!

Today and every day all children should remember their mothers with love and appreciation for everything they have done and should pray for them.

“Paradise lies under the feet of mothers”(4) the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once said; with the prayers of our mothers, our living up to their wishes and praying for them too we can fulfil this.

 

References:
(1) https://www.alislam.org/quran/view/?page=596&region=E2
(2) https://www.alislam.org/library/misc/treatment-of-parents-islamic-teachings/
(3)  http://www.reviewofreligions.org/13025/the-equality-of-women-and-their-role-in-society/
(4) https://www.alislam.org/library/books/WisdomOfHolyProphet.pdf p14
Features · Islam

Emancipation: Islamic Teachings on Slavery

IMG-20190322-WA0035.jpg

Arfa Yassir, Swindon

Islam believes in the growth and nourishment of the human heart, soul and mind. It emancipates and liberates the person. It gives him freedom of choice to direct his life. ‘Slavery’ deprives a person of freedom given to him by God. In de jure slavery, known as traditional slavery or chattel slavery or simply slavery is a system in which property laws are applied to people and people are bought and sold like commodities and used as labour force.

Slavery was a source of economic benefit and hence was widely practised in the world. There are heart wrenching accounts of many slaves especially those enslaved in the Americas in works of history and fiction especially the Atlantic slave trade. Britain has also been a part of it and cities such as Bristol, London and Liverpool grew rich off the trade. (i)

An article in The Guardian published in 2015 rightly points out that roots of racism in Europe may well be traced back to slavery and Colonialism (ii).

At the time of the advent of Islam slavery legally existed in almost all countries. Islam had a twofold approach towards it. Firstly there were steps towards betterment of slaves and gradual emancipation, as freeing all slaves at once was not feasible because it would induce jobless, helpless and unprotected people into the wider society all at once. Secondly there were steps to abolish slavery altogether.

For their betterment Islam enjoins its followers to treat slaves with kindness as the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) taught his followers to treat slaves in a very kind and gentle manner by taking care of their food, clothing and work load (iii). The base of these teachings being, as stated by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be on him): “do you not know there is God above you Who has far greater power over you than you seem to have over your slave” (iv).

Islam adapts several methods for the permanent emancipation of slaves; it not only considers freeing of a slave as an act of virtue (v), but also prescribes freeing of a slave (if possible) as an expiation of several offences. (vi)

Other mandatory methods for the emancipation of slaves include (vii):

* Punishment for beating a slave is to set him free.
* If the slave is a relative of the master he is automatically set free.
* If a slave is owned by two people and one of them sets him free, he must pay the co-partner to earn complete freedom for the slave. If he cannot afford to do so, the slave must be set free to earn and pay the money.
* The slaves who had fled from Mecca were not given back to their masters so they could be saved from slavery and infidelity.
* If any person, at that time, entered into matrimonial relationship with a female slave and she begot a child, she was set free.

Islam also provisions ‘mukatabat’ (deed of manumission, or contract of liberation) (viii) as per the will of the slaves and not their masters. So they may be set free and earn the money to pay back to their masters. This is clearly stated in the Holy Qur’an 24:34.

Today slavery is outlawed in all recognised countries of the world, but certain forms of slavery still exist in which a person is de facto forced to work against their own will. It includes human trafficking, debt bondage, unwilling domestic servants and forced marriage. Trafficked humans are used for sexual slavery, forced labour, forced marriage etc. Islam gives a just economic system along with giving due rights to men and women according to their role in society hence leaving no room for slavery of any kind. The Islamic state, according to the Holy Qur’an, is instructed to spend money for the emancipation of slaves and debtors (ix).

The purpose of our existence as described by the Holy Qur’an is to manifest God’s attributes in ourselves. A person who is held under the custody of another person has a limited horizon of thought and action and Islam stands against this.

References:

i http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6185756.stm
ii https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/08/european-racism-africa-slavery
iii Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 7-11
iv Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 11
v Al-Qur’an 90: 9-17
vi Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 13-15
vii Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 15-18
viii Al-Qur’an 24:34
ix Al-Qur’an 9:60

Uncategorized

23 March 1889: A New Chapter in the History of Islam

MasihMaudDay1

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) claimed to be the awaited Messiah and the Imam Mahdi. He was born in 1835 in a remote village named Qadian, in the Punjab, India. The small village of Qadian was then without any link with the rest of India – there was no railway station, no post office, no police station, no school, and no printing press. His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was divinely inspired to revive Islam.

His mission was to unify mankind through love and peaceful means by preaching the benevolent message of Islam in its pristine purity.  He wrote books and articles, distributed leaflets, and entered in debates with his opponents in defence of Islam. The opponents of Islam were stunned seeing the powerful arguments presented by him.  However, he made it very clear that victory of Islam would be through cogent and logical arguments, prayers, by showing heavenly signs and manifesting high moral standards by its followers as spiritual models for others. He repeatedly emphasised that Islam will triumph not by the use of force; but through the ‘Jihad’ of the pen.

In January 1889, under Divine direction, he published a notice calling upon those who would join him by making a solemn pledge at his hand (the pledge is known as the Bai’at) to have firm faith in God and to live a life in full accordance with the teachings of Islam. The pledge contained ten undertakings on oath. Those are known as the ten conditions of the initiation to enter in the fold of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.  They encompass the very essence of Islam.

On 23 March in 1889, a formal ceremony for the pledge of initiation took place at the hand of His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad by 40 persons. Many more joined him in days to follow, and in this way the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community came into existence 130 years ago.

As for the mission of the Ahmadiyya Islam, the Promised Messiah said:

“The task for which God has appointed me is that by removing the obstacles which have been set up between man and his Maker, I should re-establish in the hearts of men love and devotion to God, and by making manifest the truth, should put an end to all religious wars and strife, and thus lay the foundation of abiding peace, and should acquaint mankind with the spiritual truths which it had forgotten, and should demonstrate to the world the true spiritual life which has been displaced by materialistic desires, and should in my own life manifest those Divine powers with which man has been endowed, and those can be manifested only through prayer and devotion; and above all that I should permanently re-establish that bright and pure Unity of God purified from all polytheistic ideas, which are entirely disappeared from the hearts of men.” [i]

At his passing away, the Community elected a leader from his devoted followers to continue his mission. In this way, a non-political Khilafat or caliphate was establishment. It was the beginning of a Spiritual Khilafat through Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – which continues till this day. Presently, the Ahmadiyya Muslims have fifth Khalifa whose name is His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

Administratively, the Khalifa heads all departments or ministries of the organization, such as religious education, moral training, preaching, finances, social services and public relations.

The Ahmadiyya Khalifa instructs the members to remain loyal to their specific countries, and to obey the laws of the land where they live.  Ahmadiyya Khilafat conforms to the separation of Church and State.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims Communities are now established in over 200 countries of the world, and wherever possible, the Community builds mosques, mission houses, hospitals and schools.

The present head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad leads a global campaign to promote the peaceful message of Islam through all forms of print and digital media.  He has travelled globally to promote peace and facilitate service to humanity. Over the past several years he has been alerting world leaders to take concrete steps to avert the danger of World War III. He has written letters to the political leaders of Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UK, France, Germany, USA and China to try their utmost to avert the destruction the world appears to be heading towards. Those letters are all compiled in a small book “World Crisis and Pathway to Peace.”

[i] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Ahmadiyyat-or-The-True-Islam.pdf

 

Features

Water Of Life

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Manaal Rehman, Cheam

‘Ma’a’ is the Arabic word for water, which appears in the Holy Qur’an 63 times. And throughout the Holy Qur’an, we are reminded that it is a blessing from God Almighty.

“Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass, then We opened them out? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (21:31)

This verse indicates that water is crucial to the survival of mankind and planet Earth itself. For centuries, the land of Mecca was a barren desert. Only after Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) left his child and wife in this desert, did Allah miraculously allow water to flow. And it was the inception of Ab-e-Zamzam, the well which sprang from the ground, which led to the habitation of this barren desert, known as the Holy place of Ka’aba.

And again, Allah reminds us: “And He it is Who has created man from water…” (25:55). We now know that 60% of the human body and 71% of the planet consists of water alone, making it a fundamental element to our existence. Thus, Allah Almighty made this relatively recent discovery by science very clear to us over 1400 years ago.

However, pollution, changing weather patterns and global warming is proving to be detrimental to our water supply. Toxic waste dumps, plastic bags and sewage is making, once pure water, untouchable, let alone drinkable and usable.

“And We sent down water from the sky according to measure, and We caused it to stay in the earth — and surely it is We Who determine its taking away —” (23:19)

In this verse, Allah Almighty warns us that He has blessed mankind with water and it is He alone who can take it away from us as well. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) has told us that ‘Muslims are equal partners in three things; water, grass and fuel.’ Thus, he reminded us that no individual has sole ownership of any natural resource, and they must be sustained and used responsibly. In addition to this, Allah Almighty has reminded us in the Holy Qur’an to not be wasteful.

“O children of Adam! look to your adornment at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but exceed not the bounds; surely, He does not love those who exceed the bounds.” (7:32).

The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), stated that ‘Cleanliness is half of your faith.’ And it goes without saying that water is essential to one’s physical cleanliness, which naturally reflects onto one’s spiritually as well. Thus, Allah has blessed us with water, to not only give us life but purify our physical and spiritual state.

Yet many, if not all of us take it for granted. His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (May Allah be his Helper), who is the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, stated on the 9th of June 2015: “Here in the West it is common for people to waste water but I personally spent 8 years living in Africa and so I have seen for myself how desperate for water those people are. Young children, no older than 7 or 8, have to walk for miles with large water vessels balanced on their heads in order to retrieve water from dirt-filled ponds.” He reminded us that we are privileged to have constant access to water and the struggle that millions of people face in having access to water, due to it being a basic necessity for our survival. i

Thus, I would like to request my readers to always make a conscious effort to conserve this precious resource because, given the current state of our planet, we do not know how much longer we will continue to have sustained access to this truly amazing natural resource for. I would like to urge you all to give the water the respect it deserves as a blessing from Allah.

Reference: http://www.pressahmadiyya.com/press-releases/2015/06/new-ahmadiyya-mosque-opened-in-vechta-germany-by-head-of-the-ahmadiyya-muslim-community/

Islam · Women

Balance for Better

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By Navida Sayed, Hounslow

From the boardroom to the political and social domain, women’s achievements are being celebrated across the globe today on International Women’s Day 2019; the theme ‘Balance for Better’ aims towards a more gender-balanced world. While the emphasis is on the successes and achievements of women this day is also a time for reflection on the societal hurdles and challenges to equality still faced by women today. Regardless of making huge leaps and bounds to improve the legal status of women in many parts of the world, equality is far from being a reality. International Women’s Day is marked as one day of the year, but if it became a daily way of life, where women in society would be treated equally and with respect at every level then communities would thrive. The question arises how can we achieve balance for better what does Islam say about this?

Islam has granted women a position of dignity and honour and was the first religion to formally grant women a status never known before. The moral, spiritual and economic equality of men and women as propagated by Islam is unquestionable.

Wearing the Hijab, does not restrict a Muslim woman’s role. She is encouraged to seek education and is not restricted in pursuing a professional career. If a woman pursues a career her husband has absolutely no right to demand anything from his wife’s income, property or wealth and Islam gives her the right to spend it as she wishes.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s organisation is a successful role model of a women’s only organisation; Lajna Ima’illah means “maidservants of Allah” in other words women who can serve their faith and community to the utmost. The organisation was founded by the second successor to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who was thefounder of the Ahmadiyya Community, His Holiness Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him). He felt that the vigorous participation of Ahmadi women was as essential for the success of the Community as that of men, and started activating them for this purpose. In pursuance of this objective in 1922, he wrote a letter to some prominent ladies in the Community, detailing therein the role, which Ahmadi women should play to make Islam go further ahead. He called upon them to disseminate his views among their sisters, win their sympathies for his plans and to form an association to help the resurgence of Islam. This led to the establishment of Lajna Ima’illah. An extract from the letter says:

‘The efforts of our women along with our men are equally necessary for attaining the objects of our creation… Reflection will show that most women do not realise if there is any work to be done other than the daily chores… Apart from their own spiritual, intellectual and moral uplift, the future progress of the Jama’at (Community) is greatly dependent upon the role played by our women in this respect…. Moreover the reformation of women can be better effected by other women.” (i)

The women’s organisation today works globally alongside their male counterparts under the direct guidance of the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper).

Ahmadi Muslim women around the world have their own mosque areas, offices and at Jalsa Salana (annual convention) an entire ladies arena to themselves.

The Lajna Ima’illah have office bearers and teams of women in all departments such as health & safety, security, registration, administration, press & media, audio visual, camera crew, Voice of Islam radio, hospitality, Humanity First, discipline, first aid, exhibitions and much more. All the women are volunteers and come from academic and professional backgrounds including housewives, working in unison with the men all united as one on a day to day basis.

We also have equal access to and distribution of resources between women and men and as Ahmadi Muslim women we feel empowered as we experience gender equality through equal responsibility and participation of women and men in all spheres of public and private life exactly in accordance with the teachings of Islam. As a result, in Islam men and women are valued equally bringing balance.

i. The Constitution of The Lajna Imaillah Silsila ‘Aliya Ahmadiyya pages 1-2