Features · Islam

اَلْحَمِیْد al-Hameed (The Praiseworthy)

al hameed.png

By Dr Aalia Khan, London

God’s existence can be seen anywhere and everywhere, for those who are enabled to look. How can we see God’s existence in our day to day lives? Why is it important that we recognise, appreciate and praise His Being?

We know about God, Who we call Allah as Muslims, through His attributes which are immeasurable and numerous. In the Holy Quran and the Ahadith we are taught ninety-nine Divine Attributes. Al Hameed is one of them, translated as ‘The Praiseworthy’. It comes from the root Arabic word Hamd. The Holy Quran in its second verse, states:

الحمد للہ رب العلمین
‘All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds’ (1:2)

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) writes that hamd ‘means lauding one who has done a favour of his own volition and according to his own choice. The true reality of hamd is the due only of the Being Who is the source of all grace and light and exercises beneficence deliberately and not in ignorance or under compulsion. All this is found only in Allah, the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing. Indeed He is the true Benefactor and from Him proceed all benefits from beginning to end, and for Him is all glorification, in this world and in the hereafter and all praise that is bestowed on others reverts to Him.’

After reading this, we can be certain that it is because of those 98 other Divine attributes, that Allah is most deserving of praise. We see His grace, His mercy and His perfection everywhere if we only take the care to look. The Supreme Being Who created the earth on which we live. A planet that is perfectly suited to life. Abundance of water, vegetation, living things for food and sustenance, each is evidence of Allah’s perfection and balance.

In his Friday Sermon of 2 February 2018, the spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) explained the attribute of Al Hameed thus:

‘Hameed means the one worthy of praise and to whom true praise belongs. In other words, Allah alone is to be praised. Strive to learn about God’s blessings and His attributes and to seek ways of praising Him. Strive for this like a greedy person. And when you reach that perfect state or even get a whiff of it, it is as if you have found Him. And this is the secret that is only revealed to the seekers of guidance. This is your Lord and your Master Who is Perfect in Himself and possesses all the perfect attributes and praises. He is the repository of hamd and comprehends all praise and all that is praiseworthy. Therefore, we should be cognizant of God being the source of hamd so that we can recognize His other attributes as well.’

According to Sahih Bukhari Book 19 Hadith 1, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would offer this supplication during the Tahajjud (pre-dawn supererogatory Prayer):
‘O’ Allah! All praises are for you!’
The one man who recognised fully the glory of Allah the Almighty was Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him). And thus he supplicated by praising Allah. The perfect example of how to praise Allah is before us.

Our goal as Muslims is the worship of our Creator. We do this not only by observing the five daily Prayers but also in our appreciation of the good things in our life: our parents, our families, our neighbours, our fellow community members, our just and righteous leaders, our teachers, our children, our spouses, our peaceful places of worship. These are all blessings of Allah the Almighty that He has bestowed on us, the favours that He has given us. These are not things that we have beseeched Him to provide for us. He has given them to us without our asking. . We don’t have to look far to recognise these blessings, these gifts. When someone gives us a gift, we say thank you. Our Lord is entitled to much much more than mere thanks.

Here is an English translation of a verse from a poem of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace):

Praise and glory to the One Who’s Eternal
There is no one equal unto Him, nor one like Him.

 

References:

Commentary on the Holy Quran, Vol I, Surah Fatiha, p. 72

https://www.alislam.org/tj/sermons/FSJ20180202-EN.pdf (p.2)

Precious Pearls, p. 42

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Features · Islam

I’tikaf: A Young Person’s Experience

Itikaf (1).png

Abgina Sohail, Kingston

To seclude oneself completely from the world and devote oneself to the remembrance of Allah, the Almighty, and the study of the Holy Qur’an at a mosque for ten days straight is something that many Muslims try to do at least once in their life, if not more. This Islamic practice is referred to as ‘i’tikaf’, and it traditionally takes place in the last ten days of Ramadan. And this is exactly what I managed to complete successfully this year.

The holy month of Ramadan brings out so much goodness from everyone’s hearts that Muslims naturally try their utmost to live the best life they can in this very month. Many use this period to strengthen their spiritual selves while keeping up with their fasts every day. This kind of eagerness goes back to the time of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who “used to tighten his girdle, keep awake for most of the night for prayers and exhort his family to do the same.” In addition to that, the “Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to go into retreat in the mosque during the last ten days and nights of Ramadan.” It’s no wonder that there are so many blessings throughout this month, for its foundations were so blessed.

Given the spiritual blessings of this month, many opt to practice i’tikaf during the last ten days. They cut themselves off from the world for a short while, saying goodbye to electronics and anything that may cause a distraction in the mosque. Sometimes disconnecting from the rest of the world can do wonders in terms of self-help and healing. Moreover, it helps you to connect with Allah even better since you have nothing else to turn to. It’s as if this is a physical reminder that Allah, the Almighty, is the only One Who can help us and He is the only One we should turn to when we need anything. At times, staying at the mosque for a long period can get pretty overwhelming too, because it feels as if you are under the watch of Allah more than ever once you first enter the mosque.

This, for me, was the most rewarding and fulfilling time I have ever spent remembering my Creator and educating myself about Islam. At first, it was definitely nerve-wracking thinking that everyone else engaging in i’tikaf would be much more adept than I was, or that they knew things I didn’t in terms of supplications and Islam in general. However, everyone was so welcoming and helpful instead, and of course, they were there for the same reasons as I was so it felt like intuition telling us all to help one another as well as support each other silently as we prayed together. There were many who kept checking on everyone else to see whether we woke up on time, or how far we had gotten in the Holy Qur’an, as well as making sure everyone was out in time to break our fast.

Our emotional journeys are something we ended up sharing as well. There were many times when I could hear the others crying and praying late at night or early morning after sehri (pre-dawn breakfast) time, which can sometimes lead one to well up with those same feelings inside. Another time, we all felt and shared our happiness as we sat in a group and listened to a few of us discussing Islam, including any questions or concerns any of us had. It became a fun part of the ten day spiritual journey to want to increase my knowledge, to want to get up early with everyone to offer tahajjud (pre-dawn voluntary) Prayers for even more blessings, and to be able to finish the Holy Qur’an before I went home.

One thing I will remember most is the last night we spent at the mosque. During our last tarawih (late night) Prayer, people were feeling so emotional as they cried that it moved me, and I as a person find it hard to cry during any kind of prayer, so I was tempted to force myself to cry along. However, I learned an important thing when I voiced this concern. To cry for show is not what Allah wants, as it is done only for other people to see. It is the sincerity and the fear of not pleasing Him, the love and the attempt to follow Him that Allah wants.

Since I was able to do so much in a mere ten days, I realised that this had always been inside me; the willpower to do everything I did to please Allah. When I came home, I had already decided that I can become an even better person by continuing to act upon what I picked up and learned.
References:

Ramadhan and its Blessings by Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad https://www.alislam.org/library/book/ramadhan-blessings/itikaf/ https://www.alislam.org/library/articles/fasting-fourth-pillar-islam/

Ahmadiyya · Features · Islam

‘Al Salam’: The Source of Peace

AlSalamblog.pngTooba Khokhar, Cambridge

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils…

I still remember encountering this poem for the first time, as many of us will have done, in an age its poet deems “apparelled in celestial light, the glory and freshness of a dream”, that is to say, childhood. Nature, the unchanging backdrop to the rituals of life, is where so many of our greatest loves and desires are often played out.

In the Persian tradition too, the lover is symbolised by a nightingale and the beloved a rose. But such an affection is tinged in sadness for the rose’s beauty is as quick to fade as it is to bloom. The nightingale whose sweet melody resounds joyfully in Spring is despondent in Winter. The question that arises then is this: is beauty that fades beauty at all? What comfort can we attain from an object that will pass and in a moment be no more?

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has an answer to this cosmic riddle. There is a lot of comfort to be attained, he counsels, for the attraction we feel for forms of beauty is really an attraction towards the Divine. Such love is “a reflection of that very love”[1].

Thus, any experience of beauty, momentary though it may be, is always a source of peace. Indeed, it is in this connection the Holy Qur’an states that

He it is Who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith to their faith — and to Allah belong the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is All-knowing, Wise —[2]

Many are the ways in which God causes our hearts to blossom and be at ease. Whether in the rose or daffodil, the burst of a cool, gentle breeze, or the multifarious other ways we experience Divine comfort.

This comfort and tranquillity comes from the Divine Attribute of Al Salam, the Bestower of Peace. All true peace stems from God, therefore the seeds for such peace must be planted deep within the human soul, in a relationship with its Maker.

In the Holy Qur’an we read that “Allah calls to the abode of peace” (10:26). God as the Source of Peace, “wishes security for His Creation”[3]. And in all the verses of His revealed book, He sets out a blueprint for achieving this peace in the domain of the home, society and the world at large.

It has been said of religion that it is the “opium of the masses”. Indeed, outwardly devotion not to mention corrupt institutions may well be likened to a drug that gives momentary pleasure and lasting decay. However, could true connection with the qualities of mercy, generosity and godliness give cause to anything but lasting peace?

Indeed, they are if anything the true enablers of peace. Until we reach that stage however, we can make sweet our time by seeking peace in the glimpse afforded by the rose and daffodil into the shoreless ocean of the beauty of the Divine.

[1] The Essence of Islam, Vol I, p. 137. URL: https://www.alislam.org/books/Essence-1.pdf

[2] The Holy Qur’an 48:5. URL: https://www.alislam.org/quran/48:5

[3] Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) in his Friday Sermon dated 11/12/2015. URL: https://www.alislam.org/archives/sermons/summary/FSD20151211-EN.pdf

Holy Quran · Islam

Poem: ‘The Holy Qur’an’

Holy Quran Poem

Islam

A Burning Scintilla of a Spark

A Burning Scintilla of a Spark

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

Within each of us, a belief of God lives. For some it burns brighter. For others it may only be in the form of latent heat not quite a spark yet. Even the most adamant of atheists must have pondered over the possibility, however small they may perceive it to be, that there is something larger than us. Something stronger.

One only needs to look around themselves to consider the ways in which God has manifested Himself. God has testified Himself, in the Holy Qur’an, “He is the Mighty, the Most Forgiving; Who has created seven heavens in harmony. No incongruity canst thou see in the creation of the Gracious God. Then look again. Seest thou any flaw? Aye, look again, and yet again, thy sight will only return to thee confused and fatigued, having seen no incongruity.”

Nature holds all the secrets of the universe that the human mind cannot comprehend. Whether it is the glimmer of the guiding stars or the vast ocean, there still remains an infinite amount to be discovered. It is an undeniable fact that the human race has not yet even understood an iota of this universe. Yet we are brazen enough to consider it a coincidence. The universe has become a creation with no creator.

For those who believe it is was scientific discoveries which made God’s existence redundant are ignorant to the fact that it is God Himself Who encourages man to use logic, reason, and rationality to justify His existence. The rise of scientific understanding has led man to question the necessity of God yet it needn’t be as such. In fact, the compatibility of science and religion is undeniable for those who wish to understand both. Certainly, the Muslim physicist Dr Abdus Salam extracted his hypotheses from the verses of the Holy Qur’an. His discovery merited him a Nobel Prize.

Though Atheism is nothing new, it has certainly increased rapidly which one may attribute to our increasingly materialistic and fast paced world. We simply no longer have the patience to pray, to sacrifice, or even to hope any more. It is no coincidence that it was during the 1960s, with the rapid increase of the technological world that TIME Magazine published the controversial issue with the cover reading in bold red letters ‘IS GOD DEAD?’

Which prompts me, as a practicing Muslim, to ponder over the signs of a living God. Surrounded by mainly atheist friends, many have tried to convince me of what they see as the flaws of God’s existence – yet to me not only His existence, but His Being, has been so glaringly obvious. God never abandoned us. Rather it is us who have abandoned Him. We dived into a world that is radically different from any world our ancestors may have witnessed. Consequently, we put our faith in the seen, the tangible, the man-made, and as a result we have forgotten God. We have led ourselves to believe that He has died. But it is of course in our intrinsic nature to remember God.

Amongst God’s numerous attributes, a most beautiful and, indeed, relevant one is ‘Al-Hayy’. That is ‘The Living’. God knew that one day man would try to kill Him. But if we were to only want to pause this world for a second we would realise that this is not possible. At the core of human nature is the need to feel peace and security. Is it any coincidence that today that the wellness industry is worth up to £2.8 trillion worldwide? Mindfulness and mediation are both common across the world as the human race has recognised the need to pause and reflect. Considering this is exactly what prayer teaches us, it is my humble opinion that these are the burning scintillas of sparks of our faith in God, buried deep within us, that refuse to be snuffed out.

God lives on and He will continue to do so. Al-Hayy cannot die, despite what TIME Magazine publishes. Nor has He abandoned us. Indeed, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) has stated it is God’s promise that “when a servant of Mine advances towards Me a foot, I advance towards him a yard, and when he advances towards Me a yard, I advance toward him the length of his arms spread out. When he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”

It is upon us to find God, to rediscover Him. The human race has a clear necessity for God, and it has tried to replace Him, be it with nationhood, or wealth, or science. The need to humble ourselves in front of a greater being or idea has remained consistent. This is the essence of recognising God within us. The glowing scintilla of a spark that defies and continues to burn brighter. We only need to provide it a spiritual fuel.

 

The Holy Qur’an, translated by Maulvi Sher Ali (ra) Chapter 67, Verses 3-5.
https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1979/salam/facts/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/tips-for-the-future/future-of-health-wellbeing-beauty/

Islam

Eid – Strengthening the Ties of Sisterhood Through Faith, Love and Harmony

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Sadiya Ayaz, London

Celebrations and festivities are an integral part of human life in every society and at every level, regardless of one’s culture, race or belief. In most cases their origin can be traced to ancient rites or religious practices. However, they also play an important role in bringing together people of different cultures and communities belonging to one faith to share in occasions of happiness and joy, thereby strengthening the ties of sisterhood and providing a sense of belonging and security as well as the opportunity to share of what we have been blessed with. This helps form the basis of religious harmony and peace within societies.

We must remember however that festivals and celebrations are not merely moments of happiness and cheer. At an individual level, their purpose is to help promote spiritual reformation, encouraging a fresh start by leaving behind one’s past mistakes and bringing new hope and vigour for further advancement in faith and practice. These celebrations are in fact a form of worship in themselves as Islam incorporates the remembrance of God with each and every act of a Muslim. For a Muslim therefore, a day of festivity is not merely a day of feasting and merry-making, but rather it is spent in praising God, remembering His attributes and thanking Him for His countless blessings and favours upon us.

Today Muslims throughout the world rejoice in the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. It is a day of happiness for those fortunate to have observed the fasts of Ramadan and reaped the spiritual rewards of this holy month. No doubt much pleasure is derived from wearing new clothes, meeting friends and relatives and eating specially prepared food. These are all ways of celebrating the occasion. However, the main purpose of fasting for Muslims is to develop righteousness and self-purification. The month of fasting in Islam is a month of worship which Muslims welcome with renewed energy and zeal. Thus, on Eid-ul-Fitr Muslims are reminded to reflect on the condition of their spiritual improvement and resolve not to lose what has been gained by not only maintaining it, but by pressing forward to reach greater spiritual advancement through righteous conduct, prayers and seeking the Grace of God.

Therefore, the most attractive garment one should be wearing on this day is the one mentioned by God in the Holy Qur’an, ‘the raiment of righteousness’ (7:27) and the real food one should be enjoying is the spiritual nourishment acquired during the month of fasting.

On Eid there is greater focus on bringing together communities and giving alms and as such Muslims will share sweets with their neighbours whilst children are especially encouraged to participate in this activity of offering gifts so that the act of giving alms and sharing one’s happiness with others, regardless of race, religion or creed, becomes inculcated within them from a young age. However, Eid should not be celebrated with the intention of showing off one’s wealth or spending extravagantly, for Islam strongly forbids any ostentatious display of one’s assets. Rather, the sharing of sweets and gifts is an expression of accepting and sharing the bounties given by God with those around us, our friends, families, neighbours and most importantly those in our communities who are in need and less well off. This is because charity is central to the Muslim faith, as represented by its inclusion in the Five Pillars of Islam. In Islam, charity is not about giving because of feeling sorry for a person or because of a catastrophe. Rather, it is a regular, sacrificial giving that, in addition to helping the needy, reaffirms the Islamic ideology that everything belongs to God and by sacrificing these things for the sake of God, one is simply giving something back to its rightful owner. On Eid this concept is heightened even more for the focus of celebration comes from a renewed zeal to do greater good.

Explaining the blessings of fasting and its importance to the welfare of society, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states:

“When fasting is based on righteousness, it produces a beautiful society, creating a spirit of sacrifice for each other. One is drawn to the needs of one’s under-privileged brothers … This becomes a source of removing anxiety from society and creates feelings of empathy for the less fortunate among those who are well-off.”

So, as Muslims around the world celebrate the festival of Eid ul Fitr today, we must keep our focus on the real purpose of this celebration which is not only the reformation of one’s self but of society as a whole through strengthening the ties of kinship and sisterhood by uniting members of our communities under one banner of faith, love and harmony – a message not just for today, but for every day.

Islam · Ramadan

Ramadan: The Second Ten Days of ‘Istighfar’

Istighfar-Forgiveness blog.jpeg

Tooba Khokhar, Cambridge

Water is the great sustainer of life – whether in the vast oceans or in a glistening drop of dew. It is little wonder that our ancestors, men and women who found holiness in the forests and boughs, built temples to invoke rain from the Divine so that the earth around them would blossom and bear fruit and be ever fresh.

In the spiritual landscape of the Holy Qur’an, our guidebook for life, rain signifies boundless mercy and grace from the Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. In chapter 71, verses 11-12, we read

And I said, ‘Seek forgiveness of your Lord; for He is exceedingly Forgiving.

‘He will send down rain for you in abundance,’

So, we are told to follow a different path in seeking the bounties of the Divine. The key to attaining the showers of Divine blessing is not in constructing temples of stone, but in building a shrine in the heart. A shrine of istighfar.

We are now in the holy month of Ramadan, traditionally divided into three parts. The second of which is devoted to istighfar. What is istighfar? This word is often translated as forgiveness, or as the act of seeking it. However, this rendering does little to convey the full depth and breadth and richness of meaning contained in this Arabic term.

One aspect of istighfar is certainly seeking forgiveness for the little and not so little wrongs we do, the countless ways in which we err; for the sins we are scarcely even aware of and for those whose memory overwhelms us. The Qur’an in this respect has a clear message. God addresses His Servants in chapter 39, verse 54, stating

Say, “O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls! despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah forgives all sins. Verily He is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

The Qur’an highlights how in doing wrong it is not the Divine we are wronging but our own heart and soul we are discomfiting. However, our feebleness is contrasted with the infinite mercy of the Divine, a message expressed beautifully by the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who is reported to have said:

Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘O son of Adam! I shall continue to forgive you so long as you call on Me and hope for My forgiveness whatever your faults may be. I care not, son of Adam, even if your sins should pile up to the sky and you should supplicate Me for forgiveness, I would forgive you. Son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth.’i

It is this immense and infinite mercy we invoke. The Promised Messiah and Imam of this Age (on whom be peace), wrote how “ghafara, from which [the word] istighfar has been derived, means ‘covering’ or ‘suppressing.’ In other words, istighfar means that Allah may suppress the sins of someone who has immersed himself in His love and may not permit the roots of humanness from being exposed”.ii

Indeed, istighfar is not just about seeking forgiveness from God, rather it is an attitude to the Divine, a way of understanding our place in the grand scheme of the cosmos. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) further wrote that

…the meaning of Istighfar is that God should cover up the natural weakness of the supplicant with His power. This meaning is then enlarged to include the covering up of a sin that has been committed, but the true meaning is that God should safeguard the supplicant against his natural weakness and should bestow upon him power from His power, and knowledge from His knowledge, and light from His light.

Having created man, God has not become separated from him, but as He is man’s Creator and the Creator of all his external and internal faculties, He is also All-Sustaining, that is to say, He safeguards with His support everything that He has creatediii

So, istighfar is not an individual act of repentance, rather an acknowledgement of our intrinsic need for God and our desire to draw our strength from Him. “As God has bestowed upon man from the beginning, tongue, eyes, heart, and ears, etc.” writes the Promised Messiah, “so He has bestowed upon him from the beginning the desire for Istighfar and has made him feel that he is dependent upon God for help”.iv

Elsewhere, he describes istighfar as a kind of medicine, explaining that it is an ‘elixir’ that counters the ‘poison’ of negative impulses that arise from our baser selves. So, istighfar is both prevention and cure – working to wipe out the stains of past errors and to guard against future ones, by illumining our souls with Divine Light.

This is why istighfar is the key to bringing down rain that both purifies our souls and makes our hearts’ desires appear before our eyes in the form of endless blessings. For it is a comprehensive philosophy of both repentance and acknowledgment of our need for the Divine, and our nothingness before His Grace. It is this which brings about the rain that means the garden of faith is never barren, rather ever more verdant and filled with the sweetest, most colourful, and most comforting fruits.

i Gardens of the Righteous, p. 320. URL: https://www.alislam.org/library/books/GardensRighteous.pdf

ii Essence of Islam, Vol. II. p. 242 URL: https://www.alislam.org/books/Essence-2.pdf

iii Ibid, p. 242 iv Ibid, p. 243

Islam · Ramadan

Ramadan: The First Ten Days Of Mercy

First Ten Days of Ramadan blog.png

By Navida Sayed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam

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

Most Excellent Exemplar blog

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:
Islam · Women

Mothers

Mothers-blog

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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