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/

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Vie With Each Other In Good Works

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Maha Khan, London

As soon as the term ‘competition’ is articulated, one is instantly reminded of the inferiority and superiority of those around us. We are quick to start digging around in search for our competition in every aspect of our lives, whether it be deemed healthy or not. It is fair to say that the human-race has come this far due to the existence and practice of competition. Competition is deeply rooted within our biological framework, it could even be said to be a great part of our evolutionary heritage. Many social scientists would come to agree that competition is one of the most basic functions of nature. We compete for social status, we compete for recourses and general livelihood, and we compete against one another and even against our own selves.

Islam, a religion founded 1400 years ago acknowledges this very fundamental human need and advocates it in a manner where we can practice healthy competition. Allah the Exalted has said, “…vie, then, with one another in good works…’’ (2.149). Meaning Allah recognises the way humans operate in terms of competitiveness and instructs His people to utilise it for the greater good. A pristine example of this is painted in the Hadith collection of Bokhari. It is mentioned that Utbah Ibn Harith joined the afternoon Prayers led by the Holy Prophet in Medina. After concluding the service, the Holy Prophet stood up rapidly and continued to one of the chambers stepping across the shoulders of the worshippers. The worshippers were stunned by the swiftness of the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him). When he came back he acknowledged that people were questioning what called him away so urgently. So, he said: ‘I recalled that there was a piece of silver left with me and this disturbed me. I have now arranged for its distribution.’ This is a great example for the rest of mankind in terms of vying with one another in good works. We should look up to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and strive to become the best possible versions of ourselves, compete against ourselves and one another in ways which help better our souls and society.

His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V, worldwide spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community reminded of the Quranic injunction a few weeks ago in his Friday sermon. He said: ‘’Allah the Exalted states to the believers that “Your goal must always be fastabiqul khairaat!” It means that you must always endeavour to lead others in good works. Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has also referred to those, who perform righteous deeds and do good works as “best of creatures”…’ (Friday Sermon, 27 Oct 2017)

Islam deems moral degradation as the worst form of disease a human could attain as it has long term and devastating consequences, thus vying with one another in good work is vital to keep our society free of moral decay. It is known that moral degradation starts when people start to make poor and naïve choices that may seem harmless momentarily but slowly become the reason for moral destruction within society. The rippling effects of one’s action is evident to the way society operates hence it is necessary for one to make well thought out and purposeful  decisions that are not driven by desire for worldly riches but driven by the desire of achieving closeness to Allah. This way, the domino effect of one’s actions will only be good and do good for society and prevent further moral degradation.

We should show kindness and love to those around us, especially our parents; as Allah commands in the Qur’an, “…Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents…” (17:24).   It is not possible to repay God’s favours, however in terms of one’s parents, we can try and return their love and kindness. May Allah guide us and help us follow the footsteps of our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and make use of the time we have on earth in the service of one another and spend our time doing tasks that are good and compete in a healthy way so that we could please our Allah.

 

Islam · Uncategorized

Tolerance in Islam: An Essence of Humanity

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Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park, London

In the modern world, the word Islam unfortunately, and most wrongly, carries the connotation of intolerance and violence. The truth could not be further from this unjust and ill-informed accusation. The word Islam is quite literally the Arabic word for peace and also for submission. From just this it is immediately apparent that there can be nothing else that Islam values more than a peaceful way of life, along with a life where one is faithful towards the Supreme Being, God.

The Holy Qur’an, the sacred text of the Muslims, reminds Muslims that there is ‘no compulsion in religion’ (2:257).[1] As such, there is absolutely no justification for any sort of oppression in Islam where one is being forced to live in a manner that goes against their will. Islam is a religion that believes, and upholds the concept of free will. Therefore, the essence of Islam is to teach its followers, and to inform followers of other creeds and beliefs, of the truth, the right, and the wrong. After this, the decision to take the right course of action is up to the individual. This is the crux of Islamic teaching. Intolerance has no place in Islam as it continues to breach the foundations upon which Islam stands.

Lamentably, there have been a number of extremist groups committing heinous crimes across the globe in the name of Islam. These acts are in direct contradiction to the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam. One of the greatest sources of teaching for Muslims is through the sunnah: the actions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) who taught religious tolerance to Muslims. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) was a kind, honourable and forgiving man. The ordeals which he and his followers faced by the Meccans were nothing less than degrading and humiliating torture, yet he never wished any harm upon them; rather, he wished for a divine change of their hearts.

In his Friday Sermon, delivered on March 10th, 2006, His Holiness the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) related the incident when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted the visiting Christians from Najran to offer their worship inside the mosque. At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as it is today, it was one of the responsibility of the Muslims to protect the churches and inns of the Christians as well as to safeguard their worship.[2] It was also prohibited in any circumstance, as it is today, to ever attack a place of worship of any religion during a war or in time of peace.

One cannot deny, that it is not only extremist groups which are using the guise of Islam to justify their inhumane crimes. It is also corrupt politicians and governments. The government of many ‘Islamic’ countries are indeed using the excuse of their interpretation of Sharia to oppress its people in order to gain power and control. Both extremist groups and corrupt governments have misappropriated the terms Islam, Sharia, and the like. In doing so they have created a barrier between the truly beautiful teachings of Islam and the rest of the world.

This barrier is causing a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes as well as generally rising political tensions across the globe. These cannot lead to anything prosperous nor fruitful. It is essential that Islam be seen as a religion which welcomes all with open arms, tolerates differences and allows diversity in God’s creations. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ reigns true in Islamic teachings of all forms, whether they be the words of the Holy Qur’an, the words of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or his actions, Muslims are universally taught that love, tolerance and kindness are the essence of humanity and they must be adhered to at all times.

 

[1] https://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showVerse.php?ch=2&vn=257

[2] https://www.alislam.org/archives/2006/summary/FSS20060310-EN.html