Turning to God in Times of Turbulence

turning to God

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

What is happening is much worse than you thought it was. You’ll realise that even just being able to breathe air in your own house… it’s something you should already be grateful for.

These words – a quote from a YouTube video titled ‘Quarantined Italians record messages for themself from 10 days ago’[1] which is full of self-reprimands and warnings – are applicable to most of us in the midst of this pandemic. How many of us in January, a month ago, or indeed 10 days ago could have predicted this new reality? Since then, coronavirus cases have reached over 650,000 worldwide, with over 30,000 deaths[2]. Schools are closed, shops are shut, exams are cancelled – and those of us who have been lucky enough to dodge the disease so far are self-isolating in our homes. Life as we know it has changed. Just as most of us find ourselves agreeing with the sentiment “being able to breathe air in your own house” is a luxury, one article[3] found that the things people are missing the most are the normal, even mundane, tasks: “hugging my grandchildren”, “peace of mind”, “standing in line for groceries” and feeling “somewhat safe”.

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has left millions around the world reeling in a way that hardly anyone expected. Though we live in an era seemingly dependent on technological and scientific progress, the vaccine which may be the only cure for this virus is as far away as 12-18 months, with scientists admitting even this is “aspirational”[4]. The limitations of man have been firmly exposed. In his Friday Sermon of the 20th March 2020, His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) mentioned the impact this is having on people’s faith, using the example of Philip Johnston who wrote in the Telegraph: “How many times have we heard people say “Everything will be OK because scientists will work something out”, whether it be global warming or the pandemic? We are about to find out whether such optimism is justified. If it isn’t then I might be heading back to church.”[5]

However, whilst the current situation is unlike anything most of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes,  in an interview for Al Hakam, His Holiness highlighted that, “Neither was this coronavirus foretold, nor have I ever expressed that this is a sign that has appeared. These epidemics will keep happening. It is absolutely wrong to declare every such outbreak to be a divine sign.”[6] Clearly, the pandemic of today does not run parallel with the events of 1902, wherein a prophecy was vouchsafed to the Promised Messiah (peace be on him)  that the Community would be protected from the plague which was ravaging British India, and would not require inoculation.[7]

Yet, as more people question the lifestyle and society we have become so accustomed to, His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V emphasised that there is a responsibility to turn to Allah, and to continue to serve mankind: “In these circumstances, not only does it become more important for us to reform ourselves, it also becomes incumbent to increase in informing others about the peaceful message of Islam… We must tell people that for the ultimate result to be good, we must turn towards God and realise that true life is that which is in the Hereafter and we must not associate any partners with Him and fulfil the rights of His creation”.[8]

Novelist Erica Jong wrote that “There are no atheists on turbulent airplanes”[9]. Today, though we’re on the ground rather than suspended in mid-air, existence feels shaky and precarious. When we cannot safely rely on science, and we cannot see each other, it seems obvious what we have left – what we have always had – to depend upon. As the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) wrote, “when the fire of an epidemic flares greatly, all nations of the world naturally engage in prayer, repentance, seeking forgiveness and charitable giving. A natural movement takes place to turn to God, showing that it is a natural phenomenon for the human conscience to turn to God Almighty in the times of calamities.”[10]

As long as there is prayer, there is hope.

 

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_cImRzKXOs

[2] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

[3] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/poll-coronavirus-americans-miss-daily-life_n_5e7bb491c5b6cb9dc1994486?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9jb25zZW50LnlhaG9vLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALIyvTSVldyDMdml69lhNP4j3pUGb_nXetTlE7_DGmv2761G7WMFx3gQDstqlaWFTho5hqEvrXBLBoAjXVFz12Kzvm2LfsJVto-ej6p8JWNF_bfzLjQz0MIhSqK3oxeMF8QFcAnyQNlTncH2AIMSIhVOx1nqlrJwdA4XhXqBecwS

[4] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/coronavirus-vaccine-latest-covid-19-cure-uk-trials/

[5] https://www.alislam.org/press-release/head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community-addresses-coronavirus-pandemic/

[6] https://www.alhakam.org/latest-instructions-from-hazrat-khalifatul-masih-regarding-coronavirus/

[7] https://www.alislam.org/book/noahs-ark/

[8] https://www.alislam.org/press-release/head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community-addresses-coronavirus-pandemic/

[9] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/378672-there-are-no-atheists-on-turbulent-airplanes

[10] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Gift-for-Queen.pdf

The Biggest Investment

Sameen blog..mothers-investment

Sameen Rashid, London

Trusts, pension funds, savings accounts, property, even gold…just some of the ways that people have come up with to invest and secure their future. Financial freedom when you are no longer able to work is a blessing indeed, maintaining your independence and your dignity. It is something that many of us aspire to – hence the need to work now and fill the bank for the future.

Aside from earning money, many women work to: have a sense of achievement, do something worthwhile, keep the mind engaged, contribute to society, interact with others, or to have the means to stand on one’s own feet. And so they pursue jobs. Mothers before us could have wanted the same. Only they may not have had as many options or support to follow a profession or to earn their own money. What they did have was their children; their biggest investment.

When I imagine my grandmother’s generation in Pakistan, I think of loving mothers who spent their whole time tending to their children. I think of the hours spent gently combing hair, massaging oil, making meals from scratch, telling moral stories to their children in the evenings to keep them entertained when TV was not available. Perhaps this idyllic picture is just a figment of my imagination. But what my mind conjures up is; mothers stayed at home not only to take care of their children, but more importantly to take care of their moral upbringing. And that was their job.

Women through the ages have invested time and love in their children in a completely selfless way. And for many it has paid off. Such mothers filled their banks with resources that can be withdrawn when needed. Children can provide company, security, financial support, variety in the face of boredom, the feeling of being needed and better still, wanted, and for many, a voice or pillar of strength where previously they had none. Children can give life purpose and meaning as well as happiness. Moreover, for these mothers, their life’s work is visible for all to see. They can be proud of their children’s achievements, as if they were their own.

They were the real ‘Investors in People’.

That is not to say that women are only good mothers with the intention of having something paid back by their children. But love, devotion, care and attention towards your child means you are filling them with these qualities that one day may find their way to you again. After all, the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) stressed the importance of mothers and our duties to them.

So, while some women may feel unfulfilled with their motherly roles, guilty that they are not earning, or that they can do so much more than just be ‘mum’, perhaps it is worth remembering the words of His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V, when he said:

“…the greatest investment is your children, and to protect, and employ this investment in the best way, the most important thing is to create their bond with the Jama’at and to bind their relation with Allah Almighty. Many families visit me, my heart is filled with the praise of Allah the Almighty. Well-educated women with professional skills sometimes do not work just because their children need their attention. These women are neither selfish nor follow their own desires but their sole purpose is to protect their next generation. They pay full attention to their secular education and their religious education as well. They teach them the do’s and don’ts in Western society. When these children enter their adulthood, they become a source of earning a good name for their families and become useful persons for the Jama’at as well”.[1]

 

 

 

[1] The Significance of Sacrifice in Your pledge 21st June 2008 Address to ladies at Annual Convention USA alislam.org

Defining Mothers

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-27 at 12.30.40 (1)

Sarah Ward, London

What makes a mother?  Mothers are celebrated and respected across the globe and yet they come in many different styles.  Every mother is unique and interacts with her child in her own way so what are the defining elements which link all of these diverse women together?

Love? Every mother loves their child unconditionally.  According to societal norms, a mother falls in love with her child at first sight.  And yet this is a complicated bond which is different for every woman. We are now more open in discussing issues such as post-natal depression and recognising that love can be shown in many ways.  Love can be shown through actions as well as deeds. Some mothers cook lovingly, others invest in education, some may work to provide for their child’s needs. Each woman shows their love in their own way and according to their capacity.  There’s no single definition of love between a mother and a child.

Care? Mothers are ever ready to tend their child when they are sick.  They change, burp and feed them. They wash their clothes and prepare their school bags.  They support them during the big events in their lives. Yet fathers can do these acts too.  The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) often helped his wives in the household chores and took an active part in family life.  So perhaps this is not exclusive to mothers.

Time? Mothers devote hours of their day to the care of their children.  From waking at night to feed them, they prepare breakfasts, make packed lunches.  They ask how the day was, take them to visit friends, etc. Motherhood is not a part-time job, nor can you resign and there isn’t an opportunity for promotion for many years. Once motherhood is undertaken it lasts a lifetime and it remains despite emotional turmoil, physical distance, illness, academic success or failure.  It is not altered by any other measure. Yet many women live apart from their children, either working or studying to improve the family situation or through war, conflict or family circumstance. Teachers often spend more hours per day with children than their own parents. So are these women a lesser version of mothers?

Change? Motherhood is not a static state.  Mothers change and grow just as their children do. Mothers can mother differently to their different children and to the same child at different stages of their life.  The mothering practices required for a new-born are different than those needed for a teenager and a mother has to recognise and respond to these changes as they happen.  Food, sleep, exercise, compassion – the needs of a child in each category change and a mother must notice and adapt. Yet the siblings in a family are also responding to the same change.  They have to shift their place in the family dynamic without consent so mothers are not unique in this respect.

These are just a few aspects which could be used to define mothers.  Yet the reality is that all mothers are of unique value, they cannot be replaced in their child’s lives and their absence is always felt.  Quite simply, every child has a mother and only the mother can do that role for that child. Motherhood is not limited or defined by the number or ages of children.  And motherhood does not end, even bereaved mothers remain mothers, it is a bond that can never be erased.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) famously said that ‘Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers’.  He did not specify which mothers, of which race, culture or nationality. The Holy Qur’an goes much further than this with a compassion and love which is heart-warming.  It refers to his wives as ‘mothers of the believers’ (33:7). This included his wives who had no living children. When these statements are combined it is clear that motherhood is not the physical task of giving birth but it lies in the unique and individual combination of all of the above factors.

When the painful self-doubt or the sharp criticism of others bites, we should remember this simple lesson. Every woman has the capacity to earn Paradise for themselves through displaying their own mothering skills and every woman should take confidence and reassurance from this teaching.

 

The Need for Unity in Times of Crisis

Iffat Unity blog

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park, London

Shakespeare’s Henry V famously proclaims:

‘But we in it shall be rememberèd—

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he today that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,’[1]

The need for unity in a time of crisis has never been questioned. Though in Shakespeare’s rendition of Henry V he declares these words on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, I believe they are most applicable in facing the Coronavirus pandemic. The need for unity and consideration of our countrymen as our brothers and sisters is indeed the only way that we can confront Covid-19. Sacrifice is demanded of each and every one of us, and it is only right that everyone adheres.

Truly, no experience in my life could compare to that of the past few weeks. Never in my life have I witnessed queues extending to the car park of a supermarket nor have I ever seen schools closed down. Indeed, such times are a great cause for panic but to see humanity unite in times like this is not only necessary for the time being, but is something that should open our eyes forever more.

Humans are weak – but we are certainly stronger together. Despite our political leanings and views, moments such as this remind us that the role of the government is to lead its people. However, to do so they require loyal followers. It is heart-warming to see in times like this political leaders across the spectrum are supporting the government and standing by 10 Downing Street in order to face this pandemic with as much force and determination as possible. Now is not the time to pick fights and it is certainly not the time to put one’s own selfish desires above those of the nation.

Indeed, the Holy Qur’an, the highest source of authority in Islam teaches: ‘O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you. And if you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you are believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is best and most commendable in the end.’[2]

The Holy Qur’an categorically states that citizens must obey their leaders. We often discuss the responsibilities that leaders have in order to protect the citizens but we must recognise that as citizens we also have a responsibility to accept the will of the government and take heed. Therefore, when the Prime Minister tells us to ‘stay at home’, it is our moral duty to stay at home.

The opening words of the book Noah’s Ark by the Promised Messiah (may peace be upon him) address a very similar situation where the plague of the 19th century blighted British India. In it, the Promised Messiah announces: ‘Gratitude is due to the eminent British government who, showing kindness to its subjects, has once again advised inoculation against the plague, and has undertaken the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of rupees for the welfare of the servants of God. In truth, it is the duty of wise subjects to welcome this undertaking with gratefulness.’[3]

Though we unfortunately do not have a vaccine for COVID-19 as yet, we should certainly take heed of what solutions and advice the government can offer us now. We must remember that the advice is for our own good and this virus can only be defeated if we unite against it, and that means each and every one fulfils their part. We cannot sincerely thank our NHS staff, our delivery drivers, our teachers, our supermarket workers, all whilst living our lives as if nothing needs to change. We must bear our part of the sacrifice so that theirs may be lessened.

We cannot compromise on unity in times like this, or indeed any other struggle the nation may face.

 

 

[1] Henry V William Shakespeare Act IV Scene iii

[2] Chapter 4 Verse The Holy Qur’an, translated by Hazrat Maulwi Sher Ali Sahib (ra)

[3] Noah’s Ark, The Promised Messiah (as) page 1

Mothers On Lockdown

Sameen blog - lockdown

Sameen Rashid, London

UK has now followed many other countries in closures of public spaces including schools for the foreseeable future, as the world tries to grapple with COVID-19, or Coronavirus. For some mothers this comes as a relief; now at least their children can be kept safe at home out of harms way. But soon the dread and fear sets in. What are we going to do with them at home for this many weeks?

Some mums have already taken to social media to show their organised plans for home schooling. And no doubt I speak for many Muslim mothers who are thinking that we can use this time to teach our children about Islam, teach them prayers and focus on reading the Holy Qur’an especially if they are yet to have their Ameen, or first read through of the Holy Qur’an.

For others the idea of having the children at home, not able to go out or socialise, is daunting. Children get bored quickly, and irritable. Add to this the anxiety that they are feeling during this time, and it can, and probably at times will, become too much to bear. Mothers of little children in particular, may find it all too difficult being at home in quarantine.

Or perhaps not. Having little children could actually be a blessing. Babies and toddlers stick to their routine come rain or shine. They still get up early, which means that mums have to too. They still need their naps during the day, feeding time, story time, bath time, and many other ‘times’ in between. Children at this age develop so quickly and start doing something new regularly. Their growth and progress can help chart time for mums that can so easily otherwise lose track of what day it is at a time like this. Children often smile, laugh and play with older siblings, thus entertaining them for a while too. They demand attention, and are quite resourceful in keeping themselves busy with the things that surround them. In short, babies are never bored, or boring. And they often take up the whole day anyway. So for mothers stuck in doors for what looks like weeks on end, having tiny feet pitter-patter around the place may actually make things easier.

As for older children; they are not officially on holiday. This time can be spent in learning at home, learning new skills, taking up a new hobby, or connecting with people and cousins far away that we never seem to have the time to otherwise do. With springtime, comes spring cleaning, and no better time to tackle those jobs that we never get round to doing. Children can help with these tasks too. Learning after all, is not just about core curriculum subjects. But now we have the chance to teach children some essential life skills such as cooking, gardening, and so on.

I have visions of emerging after weeks having accomplished so much with my children. The only thing is, if I set myself all these goals, what happens if I don’t succeed? What if we succumb to endless TV box sets and video games to while away the days? I can’t use the excuse “haven’t found the time yet…so many after school clubs…so much homework…”. What will I tell my own mother when she asks what I have done in all this time?

That is when I will probably want to go into lockdown.

Motherhood In Western Society

Fateha blog

Fateha Khawaja, Islamabad, Tilford

My parents always like to tell my brothers and I how much easier our grandmothers had it when it came to parent their children. My dad was one of seven siblings who grew up the majority of their childhood in Germany and according to him, my grandmother never had to reprimand them for not studying or not doing their household chores. They all their had their responsibilities. Similarly, my mum recounts of her childhood in Pakistan. My mum and my two uncles divided the housework among themselves, one child dusting, one child sweeping and the other child mopping the floor. They all had to become responsible at a very young age as my grandmother developed a back problem and was unable to complete all the housework. She never had to tell them twice- they always fulfilled their responsibilities.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) has given mothers a special status within this hadith (saying): ‘Paradise is under the feet of mothers.’ The significance of motherhood has been perpetuated in Islamic teaching. His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the  worldwide head of Ahmadiyya Muslim community, has stressed the gravity of the responsibilities that mothers have countless times in his sermons. His Holiness sees the role of a mother to enrich their children’s spiritual knowledge and health by implementing the teachings of Islam as well as keeping them actively involved within the community. However, His Holiness has also acknowledged the differences and difficulties that come with parenting a child in the Western society. The times have changed and will continue to change so this calls us to adapt with the demands of society.

I am not a mother, but as a daughter and granddaughter in the West, I cannot imagine the amount of stress that my mother and grandmothers must experience with the standard act of sending their children to school. The world has become an incredibly dangerous place. Human trafficking, kidnapping, hate crimes and a generally unsafe environment has become the norm the world over. Regularly, you will hear about another child or young person who has gone missing or been murdered. It happens so often that you start becoming desensitized, which is a scary notion. Can you even imagine the pain and heartbreak the child’s mother and family must be experiencing?

Take the recent incident of the young Ahmadi boy in Lahore who merely went to his neighbour’s house to retrieve his sister’s doll and was mercilessly killed by his neighbour; did their inner hatred for Ahmadiyaat make it easier for them to commit the heinous act? Incidents like these makes my mother fearful sending us out. When the people you have known for years turn out to be the most dangerous, surely this must be the most unsettling experience for a mother. All they want is their child’s and when they feel like they can’t trust anyone, who can they rely on to keep their children safe when they are not around to do so?

Along with the general dangers of society, as young British Muslim women, our mothers face the added stress of us facing discrimination and Islamophobia because of the way we look and the way we choose to dress. Because of how our society is structured and Muslims being the ‘minority’, this is something that I see as inevitable, so part of my upbringing was being taught to deal with any negative behaviour from the public. My mother has always said that if anyone displays any behaviour that is in any way discriminatory, either remove yourself from the situation (which is always the easiest and best thing to do), or if they are not being aggressive, try to reason with them and explain the beauty and peacefulness of Islam. It must be difficult for the mothers of this generation to accept the fact that within Western society we will be seen as different, and we will face issues. I know that for my mother and probably for all mothers out there, it breaks their hearts to think about anyone ever discriminating against their children because of their religion.

Overall, parenting in the East and the West seemingly are very different owing to the misconception that because Western society is more developed, so the problems faced by Western mothers are unique, but being a mother all around the globe, inherently, holds the same core values with love and care being central to their ethos. Thank you to my mother and all mothers out there for facing these issues and so many more, but  never showing any signs of weakness; you are all my inspiration.

 

Copyright LajnaUK

The Bared Heart

Womens day - bared heart copy

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

The author Debra Ginsberg said of motherhood that, “The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”[1] To me, this is certainly true. When I spent a portion of my childhood unwell, it was my mother who I relied on, who had to share my pain and spend years without a full night’s sleep. I have seen first-hand that a child’s suffering can cause even more grief for a mother than it does for the child. If the heart that beats outside the body is in pain, the heart within the body aches in sympathy.

In truth, I still have a great reliance on my mother, and still depend on her for so much- it’s rare that I have to make a decision and don’t think to consult her first. This was embarrassingly exemplified a few weeks ago, when I had a doctor’s appointment about my asthma. At almost every question the nurse asked me – whether it was about how much I was coughing or which medication was effective – I turned to my mother to get her opinion before answering. (My mother, who had already asked in the waiting room if it was even necessary for her to attend the appointment, gave me a look as if to say ‘How should I know? They’re your lungs.’)

So, clearly, the task of motherhood is not one that ever ceases, no matter what age the child is. Perhaps the boundless sacrifice and endless care-giving required of mothers would be easier to comprehend if, as children often suppose, our mothers were all superheroes. Or mind readers. Or had glorious powers which gave them the ability to multi-task and problem solve and care for others without ever tiring. Yet, on the contrary, the Holy Qur’an describes mothers as bearing us “…in weakness upon weakness…” (31:15)[2]. Mothers have the same limitations as anyone else; yet go above and beyond their capacity for the sake of their children. I considered taking maternal figures from history to illustrate this point, and ample as they are, our own lives are already filled with examples which verify this. I have known women who studied their degree long-distance, as they were in an entirely different country raising their children. I have known women go through unimaginable pain during pregnancy. I have known women who spent the day looking after their children, and then stayed up during the night to study for university exams. The world is abundant and overflowing with the sacrifices and attention of women who do everything they can so that the heart that sits outside of their chest may continue to beat steadily.

This is, however, something Western countries, such as the UK and the US, seem to be forgetting. The cultures here “tend to be youth-centric, emphasizing attributes like individualism and independence. This relates back to the Protestant work ethic, which ties an individual’s value to his or her ability to work — something that diminishes in old age”[3]. Despite the fact our mothers are usually the people we owe the most to, as they grow older, they are becoming increasingly neglected. It is predicted that within the next decade, 2 million people over the age of 50 are projected to be lonely[4].

We can never replicate the sacrifice and pain that mothers put into giving birth to us, rearing us, praying for us, teaching us, playing with us – even if we are lucky enough to be able to support them when we reach adulthood. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we can’t spend our lives trying to give back the care and attention they selflessly provide for us.  It is vital to remember the words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)[5] when asked to whom a man should be kind. He replied, “Your mother”. When asked again, he said “Your mother”. When asked a third time, the reply was just the same – “Your mother”.

Copyright Lajna UK

 

[1] https://www.azquotes.com/quote/747477

[2] https://www.alislam.org/quran/31:15

[3] https://theweek.com/articles/462230/how-elderly-are-treated-around-world

[4] https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf

[5] https://www.alislam.org/book/pathway-to-paradise/womens-issues/

Experience of Motherhood, as a Daughter

Womens day - value lovere2

Yusra Dahri, Tilford

“Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.”

 When I first learned this Hadith I jokingly picked up my mother’s foot and pretended to look for something under it.

There was no malice in this action though, and soon enough I grasped its message. Soon after, I learnt more Ahadith but the Arabic of this one (the first one I memorised) patiently lilted in the back of mind, never forceful, but always waiting.

Waiting for what? Perhaps waiting for me to look over my shoulder and to see the person who stood behind me, always silently supporting me: my mother. Not only did she try her best to raise me so I could walk my own path to Paradise in the future, but she worked tirelessly to sprout a paradise for me in between the cracks of concrete. I will never forget the sounds of my mother’s footsteps, and someday hope I can follow them.

I applaud every mother, every woman who has worked against all odds to achieve a career most men would envy. But my mother has never had a career, she is not ‘empowered’ in the eyes of society. Yet she is the mother, the woman I aspire to become.

My grades have given me grief, my exams have given me anxiety. But the quiet fortitude my mother has taught me has made me brave. It has made me brave enough to stare at whatever monster right in the eye, because I have the footsteps of strong women behind me.

I wonder when as a society we deem money and fame to be the most powerful forces on earth, superior to that of the love of a mother? What value does empowerment have, if it is no longer love that makes us strong?

I remember once I asked my mother the ethically sensitive question, “If you went back in time to when Hitler was a child, would you kill him?” Without a beat she said, “I would adopt him.” I was astounded, this answer had never once occurred to me. But maybe it would do to a mother.

It is through love and patience gardeners tend to plants. Likewise, my mother is a grower. She knows that she cannot force a crooked plant to grow straight, she can only guide it. Yet that is enough. Slowly, a Paradise is found.

 

Copyright Lajna UK

This Is Where I saw The Face Of God!

God - Plants

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

“He it is Who sends down water for you from the clouds; out of it you have your drink, and there grow from it trees on which you pasture your cattle.

(Holy Qur’an chapter 16, verse 11)

If anyone knows anything about me, it is that I love flowers. They give me a sense of pure and unadulterated happiness. Not only is it their beauty and aroma which captures me, but also the biological structure of plants has always fascinated me. I’ve never been one for the sciences but when at school our topic in biology would turn towards the plant kingdom, I would eagerly anticipate the lessons. I remember sitting in each of those biology lessons often left speechless by the absolute perfection of the structures of the plants which allow the survival of the species and the organism for millennia. This is where I saw the face of God.

It occurred to me that there was absolutely no reason that each of the millions of species of plants should have evolved so perfectly. In fact, that is not only true for plants but for all organisms. There is no logical reason as to why any organism should have reached the point that it has reached today. If we were to try and explain it without considering the presence of an omnipotent power, we’d have to accept the role that luck and chance has played. However, for me, the issue is that luck and chance can only prove to be successful once or twice. The current approximate number of species in the world is 8.7 million.[1] Could luck have worked 8.7 million times?

Any logical thinker would have to face the fact that this cannot be. After all, would you roll the dice even just ten times and expect to get a six each time? The chances of evolution therefore having been a pure coincidence is infinitely smaller than that. It is only rational then, that we look towards another cause. That cause, as the Holy Qur’an testifies, is God Almighty.

In the aforementioned verse of the Holy Qur’an we see the wise force that is behind nature which gives humankind our sustenance and ensures our survival. We see that God, in His power and His compassion, not only states that He has created the wonders of the world, but also highlights that they have been created as such for the benefit of His creation. In our arrogance, having achieved this pinnacle of evolutionary development, we have convinced ourselves that this was a coincidence, to avoid having to confront the fact that there is still One Being Who is far higher than us, Who is far more powerful than us. It is much easier to eliminate Him from the equation to allow humankind to revel in false and insecure sense of superiority. In doing so, humankind can also deny the fact that we still need, and always will need, our creator. His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad (May God have mercy on his soul), the fourth Caliph or Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Community wrote in his stellar work Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth:

“If man looks down from the dizzy heights he occupies on the ladder of life, at the innumerable steps below him in the chain of evolution, seldom will he realize that for him to have survived the hazards he faced at each of these steps, was no less than a grand miracle. We owe gratitude to the many generations of dedicated biologists who with their hard work have helped us to understand, to some degree, the inexhaustible mysteries of life! But alas, few among those who themselves unravel the mysteries ever realize how much they owe to the infinite mercy of God and His limitless creative Wisdom.”[2]

This encapsulates the way in which humankind in our arrogant ways have hidden the face of God, though the reality is that it is plain for us to see all around us, should we only open our eyes for a moment. The perfection of the natural order of our planet, let alone that of the universe, is far beyond our imagination and it does not bode well that many are intent on considering it a coincidence rather than intentional design.

Just as I saw the face of God in my biology classes, I continue to see it as the daffodils bloom in the spring, filling my heart with infinite joy. I absolutely refuse to believe any of this to have been a coincidence. Surely, to do so will be futile and arrogant.

 

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823180459.htm

[2] Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) page 402.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument Proving the Existence of God

Kalam cosmological

Aroosa Akram, Slough

In Islam the Oneness of God is fundamental and Muslims believe that God created the universe. The cosmological arguments support this claim because a cosmological argument  argues that there must be a God to explain the existence of the universe.

To fully understand the cosmological arguments one has to look at the 13th century philosopher St. Aquinas’ proposed ways which later became known as the Cosmological Arguments. St.Thomas Aquinas put forward a set of five ways to prove the existence of God, the first four making up the cosmological arguments in his Summa Theologiae[1], which is considered to be “one of the most influential works of Western literature”[2] The one that needs our focus is the one developed by medieval Muslim logicians and popularised in the west[3]  by Dr William Craig, called the Kalam (speech) Cosmological Argument.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument was popularised by Dr Williams Lane Craig in his 1979 book The Kalam Cosmological Argument[4] in which he applied St.Aquinas’s argument to the concept of time and the origin of the universe. For example, St. Aquinas’ 2nd way is the cosmological argument for causation. This argument claims that there must be an uncaused first cause which is beginning-less  for the universe to exist and claims that there cannot be an actual infinite regress of causes. However the Kalam Cosmological Argument builds off Aquinas’ basic scientific understanding of the 13th century and expands on it using modern scientific knowledge. For example, St. Aquinas used the following syllogism:

  • Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  • The universe began to exist.

Therefore:

  • The universe has a cause.

Dr Craig’s Kalam Argument adds another premise and conclusion:

  • The universe has a cause
  • If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused creator exists.

Therefore:

  • An uncaused creator exists who has created the universe.

 

The Holy Qur’an repeatedly states that God created the universe:

‘Allah created the heavens and the earth…’ (29:45)[5]

‘He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth…’ (2:30) [6]

A major feature of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is that it takes St.Aquinas’ original argument and puts in into the context of time and has a philosophical approach to the concept of ‘infinity’. Its approach is that the universe had a beginning as the Kalam argument proposes creatio ex nihilo, which means that God created the universe out of nothing and therefore the universe had a beginning. When talking about the origin of the universe and infinity, you can have two standpoints, the universe has existed for infinity and will continue for infinity (actual infinite) or that the universe has a beginning. However, the universe cannot be in an actual infinite as it cannot be formed. The collection of all events in time has created history and the Big Bang theory also proves that the universe was brought into creation. Furthermore, from a logical standpoint, the universe must have had a beginning as opposed to it existing for infinity. This supports the theory that there was a Creator, who Muslims believe to be God.  This would help disprove atheists who claim that the universe in is an actual infinite and has always existed without the need for a creator.

Another argument in favour of God is the establishment of the Unity of source. The Kalam Argument premises deduce that there was a sole Creator Who is all powerful and the first uncaused and has set off the domino of causes that have led up to this moment.

There are many who believe that this alludes to the Big Bang and the Big Bang was the first uncaused cause because that is what modern day science proposes.

However the Qur’an, 14 hundred years ago, already mentioned this theory and has explained that the One Who opened up the universe was the All-Powerful God, as mentioned in this verse:

‘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) [7]

Besides mentioning the Big Bang, this verse also mentions the creation of life from water which is now a well-established fact. This only shows that the many discoveries of modern science have further proven the existence of God.

Dr William Craig’s Kalam Argument[8] points towards there being a first uncaused cause at the beginning of the universe. Science and Islam have shown this Creator to be God, the first uncaused cause.

 

 

 

[1] Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas, 1485

[2] The Classics of Western Philosophy: A Reader’s Guide,  Jorge J. E. Gracia, Gregory M. Reichberg, Bernard N. Schumacher (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing), 2003

[3] https://www.alislam.org/articles/is-there-god/

[4] The Kalam Cosmological Argument, William Lane Craig,(Wipf and Stock Publishers), 1979

[5]The Holy Quran, Chapter 29, Verse 45 https://www.alislam.org/quran/29:45

[6] The Holy Quran, Chapter 2, Verse 30 https://www.alislam.org/quran/2:30

[7] The Holy Quran, Chapter 21, Verse 31 https://www.alislam.org/quran/21:31

[8] The Kalam Cosmological Argument, William Lane Craig, (Wipf and Stock Publishers), 1979

I Feel the Presence of God through the Rain…

Face of God - Fateha

Fateha Khawaja, Islamabad Tilford

Simply put, everywhere. As I’m sitting here writing, one of the worst storms in the past few years is happening; even now, I feel the presence of God through the rain He has sent down, blessing the Earth with its most vital needs. For me, in everything I see, I can see the quintessence of God.

In Islam, depictions of the ‘face of God’ or the Being of God are forbidden. This, I believe, is the most beneficial thing for us because no Muslim will ever have the same idea of the ‘face of God’ in their perception. There are no constraints to what God can be and there should be none; He is God Who is unique in His powers and none can compare with Him. How can one describe or even picture this ethereal, unfathomable Being Who has blessed us with everything we are and everything we have – you genuinely cannot. There are not enough words in the world to describe Him and that is why everything I see, everything I hear, and everything I am encompasses His Being.

Some people find it difficult to comprehend the concept of ‘seeing’ God when in fact, in very literal terms you can’t see God. But that is what Allah the Almighty refers to as blindness in the Holy Qur’an: ‘… whoso is blind in this world, will be blind in the Hereafter…’ (Holy Qur’an Chapter 17, verse 73). If you are unable to see the ‘face of God’ in this world and cannot appreciate the blessings He has bestowed upon you and everything He has given you, how will you be able to obtain the blessings of being in the presence of Allah in the world to come?

You can see God’s essence through His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Caliph or Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.  Every time I go to the mosque, I leave with an intense sense of peace in my heart. Even a few glimpses of His Holiness after Salat (Prayer) has finished are coveted by so many. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be able to go to the mosque every day and have this experience.

The ‘face of God’ is always incredibly visible to me as it is a feeling I can experience and the simple pleasures of everyday life I can witness; from me being able to physically walk to the mosque every day to the sun rising in the morning, illuminating our world.

It is not your eyes that should see the ‘face of God’, it is your heart, your passion and your love for your religion and your faith. I believe that once you are able to distinguish your faith from all other parts of your being, it becomes much easier to see the ‘face of God’ and feel His presence within you. Prayer is the best way that helps me detach from the persistent and unnecessary thoughts that relentlessly circle around my head. Prayer is the one way that I can confide in God. It is the one tool that helps free my worries and bring peace to my heart. I feel no burden on myself and don’t feel the need to impress anyone. It is during Prayer in prostration, where I am my lowest in front of God that I can become the most vulnerable and truly open the walls to my heart and see the ‘face of God.’

 

The Promised Reformer

MMD - Revelation

On 20th February 1886, after the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) had spent forty days in intense prayer in seclusion he published a leaflet with a prophecy that Allah had revealed to him while he was engaged in prayer during the forty days. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community commemorates the fulfilment of this grand prophecy on 20th February each year. It is called the prophecy of the ‘Promised Reformer’ (Musleh Maud). This prophecy was disclosed to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) at a time when he supplicated to Allah the Exalted for signs to defend the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). In it Allah promised the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) that he will be granted an exceptional offspring. The indication of the ‘promised son’ in the prophecy begins with the words ‘He will be accompanied by grace which shall arrive with him.’ Below are a few extracts of the prophecy:

‘I confer upon thee a Sign of My mercy according to your supplication. I have heard thy entreaties and have honoured thy prayers with my acceptance through My mercy and have blessed this thy journey. A Sign of power, mercy nearness to Me is bestowed upon thee, a Sign of grace and beneficence is awarded to thee and thou art granted the key of success and victory…

Rejoice, therefore, that a handsome and pure boy will be bestowed on thee. Thou wilt receive an intelligent youth who will be of thy seed and will be of thy progeny. A handsome and pure boy will come as your guest. His name is Emmanuel and Bashir. He has been invested with a holy spirit, and he will be free from all impurity. He is the light of Allah. Blessed is he who comes from heaven. He will be accompanied by grace, which shall arrive with him. He will be characterized with grandeur, greatness and wealth. He will come into the world and will heal many of their ills through his messianic qualities and through the blessings of the Holy Spirit. He is the Word of Allah for Allah’s mercy and honour has equipped him with the Word of Majesty. He will be extremely intelligent and understanding and will be meek of heart and will be filled with secular and spiritual knowledge…

Behold a light cometh, a light anointed by God with the perfume of His pleasure. We shall pour Our spirit into Him and he will be sheltered under the shadow of God. He will grow rapidly in stature and will be the means of procuring the release of those held in bondage. His fame will spread to the ends of the earth and people will be blessed through him. He will then be raised to his spiritual station in heaven. This is a matter decreed…’

This ‘promised son’ was born on 12th January 1889 and was named Mirza Bashir ud din Mahmood Ahmad.  Indeed, the prophecy was fulfilled in this great son magnificently. The era of his Khilafat spanned fifty two years during which the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spread further than the shores of India and was established in several countries of the world. It is impossible to encompass the achievements of the era of Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him), who did not announce that he indeed was the ‘Musleh Maud’ until God informed him. He made the announcement in 1944, thirty years after he undertook the blessed office of Khalifatul Masih II.

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