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.

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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
Features · Islam

Violence is Antithetical to Islam

Islam Is Peace Blog

Zujaja Khan, London

As Britain and the Commonwealth mark 100 years since the end of the First World War this month, we take time to reflect on the sacrifices made, and the mistakes that led our countries down a deadly path a century ago. But despite our yearly contemplation and promises not to forget, we live in increasingly disturbing times. Not unlike the century before us, we live in times of international distrust, abandoned disarmament talks, assassinations, aborted peace resolutions, and proxy wars.

It is difficult to discuss the social and political chaos in the world now without being inundated by hysteria regarding Islam. Edward Saïd, the Palestinian American academic, once wrote that almost ‘nothing about the study of Islam today is “free” and undetermined by urgent contemporary pressures.’1 He recognised the prevailing disconnect between what Islam is and what ‘prominent sectors of a particular society take it to be’ . Yes, at times it can be complex to defend our corner when so many sectors of society seek to discredit Islam; who use the actions of minorities as a barometer of that community’s overall humanity.

During his Friday Sermon on 11th December 2015, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad elucidated upon the climate of Islamic extremism, and the dire situation that the Muslim world finds itself in.2 He stated that the world is ‘teetering on the edge of a fire pit,’, and that it is the responsibility of Ahmadis to try to save the world from falling in fire. His Holiness explained that the best way to achieve this goal is to cultivate a special connection with Allah the Almighty, thereby advancing a mission of peace and harmony. His Holiness’s acute understanding of the global situation we find ourselves in has enabled him to provide crucial guidance in these trying times. His advocating of peace and harmony is demonstrated throughout his sermons, and especially through his addresses at our annual National Peace Symposium and his addresses around the globe.

Opponents of Islam tend to focus their criticisms on two central areas: the Holy Quran, and the life history of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Ignorance surrounds these two important parts of Islamic teachings, particularly the notion that Islam propagates violence and creates a deep distrust between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Holy Quran itself makes clear that ‘…in it there are verses that are decisive in meaning…and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations…’ (3:8) Critics tend to fixate on Quranic verses that discuss violence, war or death, and promote these out of context. Contrary to these misreadings, verses regarding death and war are not all commandments to engage in violence. As His Holiness has explained countless times, the fundamental tenet of Islam is peace, and those who wish to delineate from this message do so because of their own ignorance:

If a person does not follow a particular teaching properly whilst claiming to subscribe to it, then it is he who is in error, not the teaching. The meaning of the word ‘Islam’ itself is peace, love and security.3

In addition, claims of a violent Islam are absolutely rebuked when, in the Holy Quran, it is written: ‘…create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order. This is better for you, if you are believers’ (7:86). This guidance is indisputable; however affronts to the values of Islam are perpetrated and exacerbated across the world right now by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. As Ahmadi Muslims we must be more vigilant in our efforts to dispel and educate people about the true Islam.

Indeed, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not advocate violence, nor did he seek it. His life continues to be grossly misunderstood by groups of Muslims who use contorted histories to justify violence; and by non-Muslims to delegitimise our beliefs. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly forbade the urge to fight when he said: “Do not wish for battle with the enemy. Pray to Allah to grant you safety; (but) when you are obliged to face them in battle, show patience.”4

It is no surprise then that our Ahmadi community is always quick to publicly denounce terrorist acts and to help the communities in which we live. We must also understand our own history, found in the examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As His Holiness mentioned in his 2015 sermon, we should make our own efforts to engage with the teachings of Islam and use the tools provided for us in the Holy Quran and in our Islamic history, to remind us what true Islam is.

1. Edward Saïd, Covering Islam, London: Vintage (1997, p. 143).
2. https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2015-12-11.html
3. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Understanding-Islam.pdf p.12 National Peace Conference 2015, Baitul Futūh Mosque, London
4. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Understanding-Islam.pdf p.15
Features · Islam

Speaking Without Thinking

Speaking Without Thinking blog

By Navida Sayed, London

Does this person sound like someone familiar? Someone who has to respond to everything regardless of thinking what he or she is saying as long as they answer, which is all that matters to them. Being around someone who got the wrong end of the stick and flew off his or her handle without pausing to think about the consequences of their words? Someone who tends to always instantaneously overreact? Only to later regret the negative impact of their words on their relatives, friends, colleagues or employees. In some situations this could result in the end of a relationship.

Speech and words can have the most powerful impact by reflecting signals about an individual’s intentions. In essence the way individuals speak can heal, soothe, comfort, hurt, offend or damage relationships. That’s why it is highly imperative that people think before they speak. Many people may not know, but the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) guided us on this matter 1400 years ago, one of his traditions mentions:

البلاء موکل بالمنطق

Meaning, speaking (without thinking) leads to trouble.

The beautiful wisdom and logical explanation behind this Islamic teaching is that, ‘one has no control over the good or bad effects of his words once these have been uttered. It is, therefore, advisable to think before speaking. Moreover, brief and gracious speech considerably covers the bad effects due to any shortcomings that may be present in the speech.’

Keeping this profound teaching in mind could prove to be a powerful and beneficial tool in practicing a difficult but useful life skill – pausing before speaking. Pausing and reflecting on the words of the hadith can naturally slow down a triggered response or outburst and a sense of empowerment by overcoming a thoughtless and reactive response.

In relation to the topic of thinking before speaking, Canadian psychologist Shirley Vandersteen, writes:

‘Speaking before you think is a bad habit that can get you into trouble and hurt you in the most important areas of your life. Relationships will suffer or end, your career will be stalled at a level far below your talents, and most importantly, you will have little confidence in yourself.’

People can become consumed by their surroundings and sometimes it’s difficult to escape the hustle and bustle of life. But that’s no excuse to react defensively by speaking instinctively without thinking. The majority of the time, those on the receiving end of harsh and thoughtless words can be close friends, family or colleagues. The consequences could result in axing ones own feet by becoming isolated from their most supportive dear and near ones.

Reflecting on the hadith when communicating with others can assist in enabling a peaceful and loving atmosphere around others. Abiding by the hadith may also assist in developing skills to consciously speak in a clear, constructive and respectable manner, which is less likely to cause offense. Individuals may also become more responsible by refraining from reacting negatively, mindlessly or angrily in specific situations. Practicing this hadith can go a long way in enabling individuals to naturally respond in a kind manner hopefully enabling similar responses in return.

The most important lesson from the hadith is to always remember that it’s important to think before we speak because we would like others to speak to us they way we speak with them. Even if others around us do not respond with kind words, it is good to put into practice the words of the hadith as a part of our daily routine to ensure that we are not responsible for creating negativity around us. As individuals our significance is that of drops in the ocean but hopefully the more mindful and thoughtful we are as individuals the more we can truly contribute to projecting positivity, love and respect in the wider society at large.

Features · Islam

Finding Inner Peace

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Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

Inner peace is not a destination. It is not as if we can find it one day and remain in the its bliss forevermore. No – reality likes to throw curveballs at us and keep us on our toes. It is important that we view inner peace as a state of mind that we can work towards and continue to work on. As we grow and acquire more experiences and world knowledge our definition of ‘inner peace’ will also change. In today’s hectic lifestyle it’s quite easy to forget to take care of oneself. Certainly, the self-care industry has made millions but is it possible to find inner peace without buying into large corporations? I certainly believe that Islam has the answer to this question.

Inner peace comes as a result of a personal relationship with oneself. This demands taking a step back and understanding who you are and what your priorities are. It is so easy to get lost in the world and forget what our ultimate goal is. As a Muslim, I believe that my purpose is to worship the Almighty. It is in His remembrance that we find peace as we are filled with a hope and a promise that here is indeed a Higher Power above us Who loves us at such an intensity that is unknown to human kind.

The Holy Qur’an states:
‘Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye! it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort;’ [13:29]
In just these words so much love is expressed as we see a personal relationship between each individual and Allah the Almighty.

Further, considering prayer as a form of meditation, there is undeniable scientific evidence of the benefits to one’s mental wellbeing which come as a result of prayer.

A study has stated:
‘Several reports on the application of prayers in psychotherapy illustrate the positive outcome in the individuals exhibiting pathological symptoms such as tension, anxiety, depression and anti-social tendencies.’ 1

Therefore, not only are the words of the aforementioned verse exceedingly comforting, they are also supported by scientific fact.

Along with building a strong relationship with yourself through building one with Allah, it is also essential to build a strong bond with your wider community. Through serving others we are able to come to terms with our own woes and worries. Through serving others and doing good works we spread a positive energy with those that surround us and indeed not only does this positive energy affect our exterior but also extends to the interior. Living a selfless life alienates anger and arrogance.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has stated:
The last and critical stage for great devout and truthful people is to avoid anger… Anger is generated when a person gives preference to his own self over the other. [Malfoozat vol.1 p.36]’
The importance of healthy societal relations is also emphasised in the Holy Qur’an:
‘A kind word and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury…’ [2:264]’

Such amiability in society inevitably is reflected within us and allows us to find comfort within ourselves, knowing that we are contributing members of society. Inner peace and outer peace are directly related. By creating a harmonious environment around us, we are creating one within.

This also extends to living a pious life in general. In remembering our Creator and serving others we are building inner and outer peace. These acts avoid the creation of disorder and mayhem in our own lives as well as the lives of those around us.

The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us:
“Verily, God looks not to your figures, nor to your bodies, but He looks into your hearts and to your works of piety.” Then pointing to his breast, the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Herein lies piety.’ This he repeated thrice.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Living a pious life, which as the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) reminds us is a matter of the heart, keeps us away from chasing material happiness. Material happiness is fleeting; we are trying to apply a tangibility to an intangible concept. Therefore, to find happiness or inner peace we must approach it with a concept similar in tangibility – that being piety.

Finding inner peace is imperative. Finding it is not an objective, rather a lifestyle. This lifestyle can be adopted with little acts that we perform every day and transform our lives. In trusting the Almighty our burdens are relieved. In serving others we create harmony. In living in piety we understand that inner peace is not material. In this process and a combination of these three interlinked practices, we can achieve inner peace.

 

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705686/

Features

Inspirational Smiles

InspirationalSmiles!

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

At the inspection and inauguration of Jalsa Salana on Sunday, after Sadr Lajna UK had earlier requested advice from Hadhoor regarding Jalsa work, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih gave Lajna Jalsa duty workers the advice that they should engage in prayer and that they should smile and keep smiling all three days of Jalsa. This brought to mind some memories from past Jalsa days.

It was the Thursday before Jalsa in 2014 and I was working in accommodation on the Hadeeqatul Mahdi site. Our job was to register guests, see if they needed any bedding and settle them with mattresses in the marquees. Guests had been arriving all morning and the marquees were filling up fast when in the late morning the fire drill inspection team arrived and we had to do a fire drill. Our team sprang into action, one took over the fire bell to alert the guests, several swept through the marquees making sure no one was left behind and within five minutes everyone, even the disabled elderly, had assembled outside the accommodation area. The inspection team were happy and we helped the guests go back to their marquees and continued working.

Afterwards it got me thinking about all the various work I had done at Jalsas down the years and that other volunteers did, both male and female, adults and children. For this Jalsa I had attended a fire safety course along with female volunteers from other departments, learning about fire hazards, how to deal with fires and keeping people safe. It meant that at Jalsa each area had a fire safety team who could swing into action and evacuate the whole site if necessary. My accommodation team work gave me skills in dealing with people in sometimes difficult circumstances, such as tiredness, bad weather, etc. Last year at the end of Jalsa, I visited my daughters who were still working in accommodation and found them and their team in rain capes helping guests and their children and baggage onto golf buggies to leave the site; this was after they had settled their department’s finances and helped stack returned mattresses And all of this with smiles on their faces.

Around the jalsa site there had been hundreds of women working throughout the weekend, keeping the site clean, distributing food and water, running various stalls, managing respite and crèche areas, inspecting for hygiene and safety, driving guests around, administering first aid and many, many more jobs. And whenever they saw someone they knew or just made eye contact with, they would pause, often only briefly, to smile, offer greetings and ask “how are you?” before continuing with their work.

Down the years, I’ve seen and experienced working at different jobs in extremely hot, sunny conditions as well as wearing wellies in the rain and mud. And down the years I’ve been astounded at the passion and skill displayed by these ordinary women volunteers. I’ve worked with teachers, doctors, mothers, students, scientists and more, each volunteer unafraid to get her hands dirty and each working her hardest to get the job done, just to make the Jalsa run smoothly and to please God.

What an example these cheerful women are for the younger generation and as has happened through the years, that younger generation will undoubtedly follow in their footsteps and become similar inspirational, smiling women.

Features

Jalsa Stories – Roti

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

My dad was telling my daughter and I about Jalsa Salana in Rabwah and how the last Jalsa there had an attendance of 275,000 people, making our Jalsa in the UK seem tiny by comparison. Imagine cooking food for that many people, my dad laughed, imagine the number of rotis that were made!

He recalled a Jalsa in the mid-seventies when the rotis were made by non-Ahmadis from areas surrounding Rabwah rather than Ahmadi volunteers. It had reached Jalsa time and some people trying to make trouble told the roti makers to demand more money at this last moment or refuse to make the rotis assuming the Jamaat would give in because the Jalsa guests had already arrived in Rabwah and needed feeding.

Jamaat officials seeing no way around this difficulty thought it might be best to give in to their demands on this last minute occasion but Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III, told them not to. He advised that every household in Rabwah should be asked to help by making rotis and at this last moment the ingredients were sent around to homes and the members of the community answered the call and made rotis to feed the guests!

This reminded my mum and I about an incident during the nineties when Jalsa UK was held at Islamabad. Early on the morning of the final day we got a call that the roti plant had broken down and a lot of dough was already mixed so rotis could be made for lunch. All the households in Islamabad jamaat including those in Aldershot were asked to take dough and make rotis. The large plastic bowls of dough were distributed and we began making rotis.

Both my parents and I had houses full of guests from abroad and most had already gone to Jalsa for the congregational pledge. One of my cousins came to help me and her sister remained with my mum and we spent the whole morning listening to Jalsa on MTA while making rotis.

Finally we had two large crates filled with round, soft naan-like bread which we were then able to transport to Islamabad in time for lunch. By then the roti plant was working once more so our rotis joined those to feed the thousands of Jalsa guests. Just as the families of Rabwah had answered the call to serve the jamaat so now had the families of Islamabad been given the opportunity to do so.

It was a hot, frantic, arm-aching morning but so fulfilling and one which will always stand out among our memories of Jalsa.

Features · Women

Celebrating the Right to Drive – a Novel or Forgotten Right?

 Ayesha's Blog

Ayesha Malik, Surrey

On June 24th this year, women in Saudi Arabia took to the steering wheel for the first time, after being banned from driving for decades. The reforms introduced by Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman are considered to be sweeping, granting Saudi women the right to drive without a legal guardian. The measures allowing driving licenses to be issued to women were announced in September 2017, with driving schools never having opened their doors to Saudi women before this.

Ironically, a month before the ban was due to be formally lifted, prominent female campaigners including Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aisha Al-Mana were detained by Saudi authorities who declined to reveal the reason for their detention. However, Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said that, “The message is clear that anyone expressing scepticism about the crown prince’s rights agenda faces time in jail.” These women were part of dozens of women activists who had been campaigning for years for the driving ban to be lifted and were part of the Women2Drive Movement. When the pronouncement to lift the ban was made in autumn last year, the authorities were quick to contact these women urging them not to comment on the decision in the media.

The Saudi Government’s contradictory two-pronged approach has become a hallmark of the Kingdom’s repressive regime against women. That this should be the case in a country where Islam dawned is deeply disconcerting. Early Islamic history records women partaking in battle and aiding the wounded soldiers in combat. At a time when horseback and camels were the only means of transport, having women on the battlefield was concomitant to women riding horses or camels. In the 21st century, this right would translate into the right to drive motor vehicles.

For those celebrating the right of Saudi women to drive as something worth hailing as part of a liberal rights movement are in need of a history lesson. All too often history is forgotten for the pursuit of partisan agendas and geo-political haggling. Saudi women have too often become the scapegoat of this phenomenon. In fact, horse riding is a Sunnah (practice) of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) and there are Ahadith (traditions) in which he urged his followers to learn to ride a horse, shoot a bow and swim.

Thus, June 24th simply “gave back” Saudi women a right they had earned 1400 years ago. The image of the Saudi Muslim woman has become the archetype of oppression and subjugation. The construction of this image has been the product of the Saudi Government’s adherence to a puritanical version of Islam, which is completely antithetical to the original teachings of the faith. This image is also cemented by the mainstream media, which has effectively hijacked the notion of what ought to be considered liberty for women worldwide – with little deference to cultural or personal preference. A far more informed and balanced discourse is required in order to cut through the glaze of both these competing views such that the nuance of socio-religious stories is preserved.