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

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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)

Features · Islam

Emancipation: Islamic Teachings on Slavery

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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

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/

Features · Islam

The Animal Kingdom

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Zujaja Khan, London

In His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad’s Friday Sermon on 18 March 2016, he related a story from the childhood of His Holiness Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him), Second Caliph and son of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him). His Holiness Musleh Maud recounted that when he was a young boy, he hunted a parrot and brought this home to his father, who said:

“Mahmood, eating of its flesh is not forbidden but every animal is not for [human] consumption.” The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) explained that some animals are pleasing to look at while others have fine voices which are pleasurable to listen [to]. Thus different animals please different senses and all animals should not be used simply for the sense of taste.i

His Holiness Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him)’s memory of his father’s words left an impression on him, and taught him that all of Allah’s creatures have their own purpose to serve. The treatment of animals and the appreciation of their unique qualities are mentioned many times in the Holy Qur’an, and thus it is our duty as Muslims to ensure we follow these teachings and are kind to all creatures, humans and animals alike. One example of this in the Holy Qur’an is:

“And in your own creation and in that of all the creatures which He scatters in the earth are Signs for a people who possess firm faith.” (45:5)

Discoveries about the capacity of the human body continue to amaze scientists around the world, and prove time and again that Allah’s creations are so intricately and purposefully designed. The same can be said for the boundless information we uncover about animals each day. Only a few weeks ago a study confirmed that honey bees are capable of understanding arithmetic. Now, the benefit or need for this is disputable, but what is clear is that in every new piece of information we discover about animals, the signs of Allah’s omnipotence are irrefutable.

As a young girl, I was equal parts terrified of and fascinated by animals. I watched countless documentaries about dolphins and whales with my parents, scribbling down every little detail that came up so that I could tell my teachers. When I was 10 years old, I wrote a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister to protest the treatment of baby harp seals (this letter, I later discovered, was never posted). At primary school I started a petition to close all zoos in the UK, and asked for donations for a wildlife reserve. And through all of this, I would still run as far from a wandering dog in the park as my legs could carry me (sometimes I’m still tempted).

I don’t know where this love for animals came from, but I always felt a deep connection to the wider world through them. I still can’t quite explain my intense feelings of awe and kinship when I listen to the sounds of whales underwater, or watch polar bear cubs emerge from their snow dens for the first time. We are reminded through the acute adaptations of each animal that Allah’s designs are flawless, and heed our respect. Indeed, was it not a spider’s web that lay across the entrance to the Cave Thaur that protected the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) from being seen by his enemies?

The beauty and breadth of Allah’s creations are a wonderful reminder of the Almighty’s sublime creativity. In the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)’s own life, he was known to be a champion for the kind treatment of animals. It is related by Abdullah bin Mas‘udra that on a journey with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), the group saw two young doves in a nest. The group caught the small doves, but when the mother of the doves returned she was distressed to not find her little ones. The dove flew wildly, and when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) saw this, he said “If any one of you has caught its young ones he must release them at once to comfort it.”ii

The examples of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the teachings of the Holy Qur’an show us that kindness to Allah’s creations should be a steadfast notion in the hearts of Muslims. We live during an age in which climate change and corporate interference has damaged the biodiversity of our planet, and animal safeguards are waning. Species across the world are becoming increasingly vulnerable and even dying out. As Muslims, we should be making an active effort to ensure the vitality of the animal kingdom is maintained and treated with compassion, as said best by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him): “All the creatures are the children of God and the best among you is he who treats His creatures well.”iii

 

i https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2016-03-18.html
ii http://www.reviewofreligions.org/13243/a-glimpse-into-the-life-of-the-holy-prophet-muhammadsa-9/
iii https://www.alislam.org/library/question/islam-how-animals-be-treated/

Features · Science

Climate Change and Responsibility

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Bareya Khan, Thornton Heath

Climate change is an ever-growing threat with its effects more visible than ever in the current world. 2018 was ranked the fourth warmest year on record, and the past five years have been the five warmest years since scientists started keeping record in the late-1880s. We don’t even have to look at icebergs, sea levels and corals, because we can see the effects of climate change where we are right now. The seasons don’t stay in their lanes anymore, the air is getting thicker day by day, and the stars barely make an appearance in the city skies at night.

Climate change isn’t just a threat to ourselves, but is a threat to the other creations of God that we live with. Plants and animals suffer too, and whilst these have direct effects on us, the damage done to plants and the pain endured by animals is in itself simply unacceptable. In Islam, animals must be treated with respect and compassion. Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an [6:39] that “There is not an animal that crawls in the earth, nor a bird that flies on its two wings, but they are communities like you.” As illustrated by this, we are most certainly required to work towards their betterment. We must treat them as our fellow communities since it is solely because of human activity that they are suffering.

The 5th Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has also raised his concerns about climate change, specifically the effect climate change has on food and water security in the world. The damage being done by humans to Allah’s creations (including ourselves) is one which will soon become near irreversible if we do not do something quickly. Something meaning every step we can take to limit carbon emissions; recycling, reusing, and purchasing environmentally friendly products. And us meaning every single person in this world who has the means to cut down and turn to more sustainable alternatives. That includes you, the person reading this – you, as well as everyone else; we all have a moral responsibility to take care of the world that we live in, and tackle climate change together.

But the question that poses is, why? There are many people who are choosing to ignore climate change, who are neither doing anything to alleviate it or prepare for its effects. And this could be anyone. However, as a Muslim my religion demands otherwise.

Allah makes it very clear in the Holy Qur’an [33:73] that He has made us stewards on this earth to care and protect it. “Verily we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it and were afraid of it. But the man bore it.” So far, as we can see through the devastating effects of climate change, humans have not been very successful at adhering to this Quranic verse, and we have not honoured the “Trust” that Allah has bestowed upon us to the best of our ability.

Allah foretells in the Holy Qur’an [30.42], “Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of what men’s hands have wrought, that He may make them taste the fruit of some of their doings, so that they may turn back from evil.” Through this verse we can see that, unless we find a balance once again, and undo the “corruption” we have caused, we will have to bear the consequences. In this case, those consequences are the devastatingly dangerous effects of climate change. Allah has warned us and we can see the consequences, so now we must change, for the preservation of future generations.

The effects of climate change are getting worse every day, and the responsibility that we have, as people who live on this earth, will get tougher. We have been bestowed with a great duty and it is our job to carry it out the best we can. May Allah enable us to do so. Ameen.

References
https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/2018-was-the-fourth-hottest-year-on-record

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/how-islam-can-represent-model-environmental-stewardship

https://greenfitree.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/10-quran-verses-on-the-environment-and-do-able-action-plans/
https://www.alislam.org/library/press-release/muslim-leader-warns-of-devastating-consequences-of-nuclear-war/

https://www.alislam.org/quran/

Features

The Musleh Maud Prophecy Fulfilled

Prophecy of the Promised Reformer Fulfilled Blog

By Navida Sayed, Hounslow

After spending forty days in chilla (spiritual retreat in solitude) on 20 February 1886, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) received a divine revelation of a grand prophecy informing him that an illustrious son would be born to him. This prophecy was fulfilled, on 12 January 1889, when Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad was born. This prophecy came to be known as the prophecy of ‘Musleh Maud’, meaning the ‘Promised Reformer’ extraordinarily pious, righteous son and the Promised Reformer.

Throughout his life Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad demonstrated great wisdom, courage, piety and remarkable leadership skills. His Khilafat testifies countless achievements and efforts he made to spread the true and peaceful message of Islam around the world.

The Promised Reformer or Musleh Maud Day commemorated on 20 February each year by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community marks a day when Ahmadi Muslims around the globe, do not commemorate a birthday but instead celebrate the fulfilment of the grand prophecy and achievements of Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him). In 1914 the ‘Promised Son’ was elected as the Second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and his period of spiritual leadership lasted for more than 52 years as the second successor to the Promised Messiah (peace be on him). This day is also celebrated in order to inspire, motivate and empower members of the community by remembering the towering efforts of Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him). He strove hard to maintain the aim of guiding individuals to self-reform and propagate the message of Islam.

Expounding on the works of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) the second Khalifa provided the world with a magnificent source of true Islamic interpretation through his outstanding commentaries of the Holy Qur’an.

These commentaries have proved to be an invaluable source in this day and age when extremism is at its peak resulting in waves of suicide attacks wrongly in the name of Islam. The commentaries were written in light of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) who recognised a dangerous trend that was entirely contrary to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an more than 100 years ago. The Qur’anic commentaries by the second Khalifa are a guiding light for the youth and Muslims of today saving them from the pitfall of possible radicalisation. Instead Ahmadi Muslims try to educate the world to show how a number of today’s Islamic scholars completely misunderstand the concept of Jihad and misrepresent it to

the general public, and that this type of Jihad is not of the Divine religious Law (Islamic Shari‘ah) instead it is a grievous sin and a violation of the clear instructions of God and His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

Furthermore the comprehensive Qur’anic commentaries of the Holy Qur’an by the second Khalifa and his spiritual guidance outline golden principles for the establishment of world peace. In turn regardless of theological differences, as Ahmadi Muslims we are guided to promote unity and cohesion by having respect for all religions, their founders and their scriptures. As a result understanding the true underlying, beautiful teachings of Islam enables building bridges through mutual respect and understanding between the followers of all faiths.

As a worldwide spiritual leader and guide he worked tirelessly to extol mutual understanding, peace, love and tolerance as the foundations of Islamic teachings not only in the wider society but also within the community. The second Khalifa dealt with all family, societal, political and global matters comprehensively in his Qur’anic commentaries in relation to human rights, women’s rights, matrimonial relationships, rights of children and parents, rights of neighbours and individuals in society.

The second Khalifa took this a step further in a practical way by organising the Community into auxiliary departments. Men, women and children were to have their own association – Majlis Ansarullah for the elder male members, Lajna Ima’illah for the women, Majlis Khuddam-ul Ahmadiyya for the male youth members and Majlis Atfal-ul Ahmadiyya and Nasirat-ul Ahmadiyya for younger boys and girls. These bodies were not set up to divide the community rather to motivate, empower and instil life skills in individuals. These auxiliary departments of the Community can now be witnessed in all continents of the world and probably constitute the largest voluntary organisation in the world. Muslim girls and women excel higher in education and leadership roles in the Community and the wider society working side by side along their male counterparts. Yet the women enjoy their own equal mosque space and freedom to participate in their own auxiliary organisation without any interference or interruption from the men. The world can witness the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community especially the youth, promoting peace, cleaning the streets, engaging in charitable work, feeding the homeless, donating blood, reaching out to areas stricken by natural disasters.

In his Friday Sermon of February 18 2011 Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V reminded us of our responsibilities in this regard. It is our task to try and be ‘Musleh’ in our own spheres and spread Islam with our knowledge, our word and our deed. We should pay attention towards reformation of the self, reformation of our children and reformation of society. If we spend our lives with this consideration, we will be honouring the dues of Musleh Maud Day, otherwise ours will be hollow speeches. May God enable us to do so.

Features · Holy Quran

Explaining the Inexplicable: Science, Faith and Miraculous Events

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Nabila Khalid, Bolton

I have come across atheists that fall into 2 categories –

– Those that dismiss miracles as fictitious fairy tales because they believe they go against the laws of nature.
– Those that are aware that the miracles referred to in religious scriptures can be proved through science and mathematics and can therefore not be classed as miracles at all.

I remember at the end of one of my lectures whilst studying Biomedical Sciences, the professor raving on about Richard Dawkins and how amazing his work is. How he proves that in a world of science – God is not only unnecessary but a delusion of the believers.

Am I the only one who is totally amazed by people who come to the conclusion that, because science can explain everything, it proves that there is no God? I wonder if my professor was aware that Dawkins himself stated “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist.”

Naturally one must look at the definition of miracles – there are so many variations and interpretations. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines a miracle as:

1. An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.
1.1 A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences.

Ahmadi Muslims do not believe in the 1st definition. As His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), the fouth Khalifa/Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community explains:

“Miracles are not seen in Islam as unnatural occurrences, but as natural phenomena that are concealed from human knowledge at that period of time. Otherwise, there would be many questions raised against the wisdom of God. If God created the laws of nature Himself, He should have made some provisions whereby without breaking them, He could bring about desired solutions to a problem.”

We can all agree that the human knowledge of the laws of nature is incomplete, if it was complete we would not be making new scientific discoveries all the time. It is due to this lack of knowledge that miracles such as those that occurred in the lifetime of Prophet Moses (peace be on him) as believed by not only Muslims but also Jews and Christians were ruled out by many as fictitious stories (some even go to the extreme that they deny Israelites ever lived in Egypt.) But both scientific and archaeological evidence is continuously emerging that give testament to the reality of the stories found in the scriptures.

“Then We sent upon them the storm and the locusts, and the lice, and the frogs, and the blood — clear Signs; but they behaved proudly and were a sinful people.” [Holy Qur’an 7:134]

This verse refers to the 10 plagues mentioned in the Bible (Exod. Chaps. 7-11) All of these can be explained scientifically. If we look at the sign of the blood which is referring to the water turning red when Moses (peace be on him) struck the river Nile with his staff, this can be explained by a phenomenon known as “red tide” in oceans which is when it suddenly appears red in colour due to a sudden red algae bloom. Red algae can be found in freshwater ecosystems and can be harmful to wildlife.

“Then We revealed to Moses, saying, ‘Strike the sea with thy rod.’ Thereupon it parted, and every part looked like a huge mountain. And We let others approach that place.
And We saved Moses and those who were with him. Then We drowned the others.” [Holy Qur’an 26: 64-67]

The splitting of the sea is another example of a miracle that has scientific explanations to it. Russian researchers have calculated that if there were strong winds of 67miles per hour overnight, in the time of Moses when the Red Sea would have been much shallower, it could have exposed the seabed. A Russian mathematician admits that there was still some miraculous intervention occurring adding “I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of physics.”
It is evident from both the Biblical account of the event as well as the Quranic account that when Moses and his followers reached the sea, it was time for the ebb-tide and the sea was receding, leaving a dry bed. Following the command of God, Moses and his people crossed it quickly. There is evidence that the part of the sea they crossed was only 2/3-mile-wide so the Israelites would have made it across during the low tide. When Pharaoh’s people reached they did not notice that it was almost time for high tide again. It appeared that Pharaoh’s people were heavily equipped with big chariots and heavy weapons, slowing them down so that they were still in the middle of the sea when high tide returned and drowned them all.

What is important to notice in these incidents is timing. Is it nothing short of a miracle that at the exact time when Pharaoh demanded a Divine sign from God, the river turned red? When the escaping Israelites were blocked by the sea and nearly over taken by Pharaoh and his men and facing death started to lose hope – God instructed Moses to strike the sea with his rod. Is it nothing short of a Miracle or Divine intervention that it was the exact time when the water started to recede?

“In this, verily, there is a Sign; but most of these would not believe. And surely thy Lord — He is the Mighty, the Merciful.” (Holy Qur’an 26:68-69)

 

References:

i. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/14/im-not-afraid-what-stephen-hawking-said-about-god-his-atheism-and-his-own-death/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.02894d66b306

ii. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle

iii. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/miracle

iv. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/chapter_1.html#pgfId-1006068

v. https://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=1646&region=E1&CR=E3%2CE2

vi. https://www.livescience.com/58638-science-of-the-10-plagues.html

vii. https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/759762/red-sea-moses-parted-bible-ancient-egypt

Exod. 14:21-28
Enc. Bib., col. 1437

Features · Health and wellbeing

Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

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By Rabia Salim, Manchester

I am a mother of three fairly young children, and after I had the kids, I realised how great fasting was for setting a routine, getting healthy and simplifying my life. Also there are many Islamic etiquettes of eating that I have passed on to my children. When my oldest would try to eat on the go, my aim was to get her to sit down at a fixed time, eat with her right hand, eat what was in front of her and try everything on her plate (1). These things are in Islam because it affects spirituality and our morals (2). What also changed in our lives is my husband developed a disease of the colon, ulcerative colitis, which is the inflammation of digestive body cells. It is also related to the immune system, but I learnt it is largely connected to the food he ate. I knew we needed to focus more on the effect of food and eating.

Diligently my neighbour and I read up on conditions that bothered my family and hers such as asthma, eczema and the major things that were affecting our home, diseases called auto immune diseases. Her husband has Multiple Sclerosis and mine had Ulcerative Colitis. I say it in the past tense, as we had to get his colon removed ultimately, it was so severe.

Seeing as we were the gatekeepers of our kitchens, we both tried to cook differently. This meant foods low in sugar and carbs. And less processed. We could do this! She exclaimed to me one day that her son’s eczema had really cleared up. She also was amazed as her holistic doctor had prescribed a gluten and lactose free diet to achieve this! Which made me wonder; was my husband’s condition afflicted by common foods? It was too late to reverse the disease. Her son’s eczema was gone, our husbands still had a way to go.

8 years on we eat differently and my husband has improved. His colon had to go but would his body adapt? Spice and fat levels need to be constantly controlled. I learnt about eating to live, as we were doing a kitchen science on how food affected our energy levels, health and even mood.

At the same time I was realising how Ramadan was detoxing my poor gut from all that work. My body was healing and my time management improved when I fasted in this month from focusing on spirituality and those less fortunate than me. So this is how food affects our morals and empathy for others.

Our lives have changed but my husband can still eat; with embracing food that doesn’t stress his body out, with health benefits for me and the children too. I felt like chocolate bingeing today but we went for a smaller dose of chocolate, an avocado salad, vegetable rice, a protein, a fruit salad, banana pancakes, a smoothie, an omelette, homemade bread and nuts and milk for snack, and one sweet. None of it sounds that bad and it sure didn’t taste bad. I feel our approach fits in with Islamic guidelines as well of eating food that is pure (‘tayyeb’) and halal. My neighbour and I have many life changing, healthy, delicious recipes, shared by that holistic doctor who understood the link between food and health.

All praise belongs to God, gone are the pre operation, helpless days when the disease took over and my husband was eating boiled rice and steamed chicken just so he had enough energy to get up and gradually to get moving and back to work.

Sometimes if I get too conscious about what we’re eating, Chapter Al-Nahl of the Holy Qur’an really heartens me. It states God’s bounties for humans for example in verse 12, “Therewith He grows corn for you, and the olive and the date-palm, and the grapes, and all manner of fruit. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect”. (3) There is a mention of land animals and seafood too. (4) Sounds delicious to me, and it’s about eating balanced, and more of the good things, rather than overindulging in detrimental things. It depends on individuals lifestyles. My neighbour and I didn’t completely clear out our old foods, but only small changes made a difference. Some patients with major diseases have to completely transform their diets. Anyway our changes were worth my time, and money. As for people that can’t afford to go with cleaner ingredients, some recipes only require 3 basic items many of us have at home. It’s just getting the best you can afford and cooking it. May God bless us with brilliant health.

(1) Nasir, Syed Mahmood Nasir (1988). Selected Sayings of the Holy Prophet. Islam International Publications Ltd, Tilford.
(2) Ahmad, Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Khalifatul Masih II, (1926). Way of the Seekers. Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Silver Spring, 2002 Edition
(3) The Holy Quran 16:12
(4) The Holy Quran 16 : 6, 15

Features

A Positive Mindset

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Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

In his address, at the inspection of this year’s Ahmadiyya Muslim UK Annual Convention, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, stated that he only had two pieces of advice to give the volunteers for the success of the event. One had a deeply profound effect on me. It was to ensure that while we served the Convention guests we always had a smile on our face.(1) It seemed too simple. How could we expect the success of an international event, with tens of thousands of expected guests, to be based on our countenance? Surely, there must be something else? However, the reality was that this convention was taking place during the hottest days of 2018, and suddenly it took every effort in me to smile. Why was it suddenly so difficult to smile? It was then that I genuinely forced a smile upon my face and not only did it lift my spirits, it made the heat seem easier to bear. It is truly a piece of advice that has stuck with me since then, and each time I remember these special words, I am encouraged to do better, to go further, and to enjoy whatever it is I am trying to do.

I think sometimes it’s easy for us to forget how beneficial a smile can be. It doesn’t take much for us to smile so we have ceased to give it any importance – that is, if we ever did give it importance. However, if we look at the social and scientific benefits of smiling and keeping a positive attitude, we must ask ourselves, why are we not doing this more often?

Indeed, the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stated ‘be mindful of your duty to Allah and do not neglect the smallest good you can do, even if it should be no more than pouring water from your bucket into that of one who is thirsty, or meeting your brother with a smiling face.’(2) Therefore, it is incumbent on every Muslim to spread cheer, which can be done ever so simply, with just a smile. A peaceful and harmonious society starts with a smiling countenance.

Not only does smiling improve our societal relations, there is ample evidence to suggest that smiling improves our physical health. It increases the lifespan because it can increase our pain tolerance, improve our immune system, and keep our stress levels low, which ultimately reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also reduce our chances of developing depression and helps to keep our mental health in check. (3)

Furthermore, multiple studies have proven that keeping a positive mindset has similar effects for the body’s health, as smiling does. According to the Mayo Clinic, an organisation with over 4,500 physicians and scientists, and 58,400 administrative and allied health staff, keeping a positive attitude distances us from many physical and health dangers.(4) However, it is not only beneficial to our physical growth, but also in our maturity and ability to handle difficulties and negative situations. It seems that incorporating positive mindsets into one’s everyday personality actually proves to be valuable when faced with genuine issues. Positive thinking allows us to keep our heads clear and face situations for what they are and therefore find a potential solution. It stops us from acting rashly and only exacerbating the situation. Not only does it teach us the ability to look past a bad situation, but also how to overcome it.

Positive thinking does not mean to close our eyes and refuse the existence of a bad circumstance. It merely means to know that there is a way out of that circumstance. Indeed, His Holiness Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) the son and second successor to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has written in his book ‘Way of the Seekers’ that to strengthen the will one must “Generate hope. Be ever hopeful. This also fosters self-respect. Continue to be optimistic. This promotes self-confidence.”(5)

I accept that it is true this is all easier said than done. One cannot wake up one day and banish all negative thoughts forevermore; however it is small changes in our ordinary lives that can make it possible, for example trying to smile more often or adapting our vocabulary to give a more hopeful outlook. Thinking positively isn’t something that you just ‘do’, it’s something that you continue to practice until it becomes a part of you. We need to remember that there is something that we can be sure of: there is no negative aspect to a positive mindset.

 

1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqqk4tkkaqs 35:09 – 35:40
2 https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Wisdom-of-Holy-Prophet.pdf page 28
3 https://benefitsbridge.unitedconcordia.com/top-7-health-benefits-smiling/
4 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
5 https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Way-of-Seekers.pdf page 104