Charity · Holy Quran · Islam

Spending in the Way of Allah Secretly and Openly

spending in the way of allah

Reem Shraiky, London

Islam, in its comprehensive teachings, makes provisions for the welfare of every individual, society and the world as a whole. Among these teachings is the injunction to spend in the way of Allah that is to say to help the poor and needy out of love of God.

Spending in the cause of Allah benefits not only those who receive alms, but those who give them: ‘If you give alms openly, it is well and good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you; and He will remove from you many of your sins…’ 2:272)

Social welfare in fact leads to the prosperity of the nation which leads in turn to the prosperity of the individual, but this is not the first purpose of spending, rather the goal is purely seeking Allah’s pleasure.

The Qur’an permits Muslims to spend in Allah’s way either secretly or publicly as both have their benefits and drawbacks, and both merit reward: ‘Those who spend their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, have their reward with their Lord; on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve.’(2:275)

Therefore, a Muslim must assess the circumstance and situation to see which way of spending will attract Allah’s pleasure, and achieve the maximum benefit. On the other hand, showing off and bragging is categorically forbidden: ‘…render not vain your alms by taunt and injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he believes not in Allah and the Last Day. His case is like the case of a smooth rock covered with earth, on which heavy rain falls, leaving it bare, smooth and hard…’(2:265)

So when a Muslim spends in front of others, it must be purely to encourage them to spend in the cause of Allah and to do good, but if the intention is to show off one’s wealth in front of others, it will be as if one’s good works never were.

However, speaking of favours Allah has bestowed upon oneself monetary or otherwise, is acceptable if the aim is solely to encourage others to seek these bounties: ‘And as for the bounty of your Lord do relate it to others.’(93:12). So, giving is the noblest of acts, so long as the giver has no atom of hypocrisy, nor is led by the desire to show off or demean others.

It is preferable to hide charity when it is given particularly to the poor and needy out of respect to their feelings and dignity, but it is better to do other good deeds openly in order to inspire others to follow suit, for example, when people are called upon to openly support a humanitarian cause, we see a very high turnout. ‘Say to My servants who have believed, that they should observe Prayer and spend out of what We have given them, secretly and openly…’(14:32)

While all religions call for doing good, Islam stands alone in calling for vying with one another in this, the word vying in Arabic ‘تسابق’ means to speed up to the maximum degree, as in a race where each person competes with others. In this context, the best and most charitable person will do more good and others will try to catch up to him or her, so the race of millions vying with millions in doing good will continue with all speed and full strength and energy.

One should not understand by this that Islam creates envy and greed in the hearts of its followers, rather it only shows that the believers’ duty is to help their brothers and sisters advance because the ultimate purpose is benefiting others “And let there be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness, and enjoin equity and forbid evil…’(3:105) Thus, when the believers attain good, they invite others to hurry and partake of the same blessings.

When the believers race in the act of good deeds, they take with them those who are behind and help others to catch up with them. This is in fact the greatest race of goodness and embodies the true spirit of humanity.

We have to remember the guiding principle which the Holy Qur’an taught us regarding drawing the most benefit out of giving, that is: “Never shall you attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love…” (3:93). So, everything, which you love most, whether it is money, sleep, children, time, etc.., if you are ready to sacrifice it for the sake of Allah, that act would become righteousness. May Allah enable us to act upon these great teachings, Ameen.

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Islam

Examining the Benefits of Prayer

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Dr Munazzah Chou, Farnham

Salat (Prayer) is one of the five fundamentals that a Muslim is obligated to perform. Salat is given the highest priority in the Holy Qur’an.

‘…observe Prayer. Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue… (29:46)

The Quranic verse shows Prayer has both a safeguarding function and an elevating effect, both essential for cultivating ideal human conduct. It first protects the worshipper by liberating them from sins of all types and then refines character and cultivates qualities to make one worthy of communion with God.

According to Islam, each human soul in relation to the human body can be likened to a foetus in utero. Maternal influences are constantly transferred to the developing foetus. Of all the influences that work towards the development of the human soul, Prayer is the most important single factor.

The Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) drew the comparison of the effect of 5 daily Prayers on our soul with the taking of 5 daily baths and asked whether there could be any dirt left on our bodies after such regular washing.

The frequency of the Prayers is a constant reminder of a Muslim’s purpose in life which is the worship of Allah, as is clear from the Quranic verse, ‘And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me’. (51:57) Remembrance of God and pondering over His attributes during the Prayer helps man in refining his spirit, bringing it more into harmony with the nature of God.

Does God require our Prayers? His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V explained in one of his Friday sermons that these days, due to the influence of atheism people have certain questions on their minds, such as why one should pray or whether God is in need of our prayers. Elaborating on these the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) states: ‘God Almighty is Self Sufficient and is in no need for our prayers, rather, we are the ones who require prayer.’

Indeed, the commandment for Prayer is for our good. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said:

‘I do not find adequate words to express the faith that I have in recovery of the sick through the prayer. The Physician goes up to a certain stage and he stops there and loses hope. Further to that, it is God who opens up the way through the prayers. The understanding of the prayers is the real comprehension of the Divine and trust in God the Almighty. One should go beyond the limits that the people have fixed and he should be full of hope…It is at this stage that a man begins to recognise God.’

As well as spiritual benefits, the physical and psychological benefits of Islamic Prayer are increasingly understood. Salat can be seen as a form of regular exercise involving the whole body with benefits to cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health. Most of the body muscles and joints are exercised during Salat; and Sajdah (prostration) is the only position in which the head is lower than the heart and therefore, receives increased blood supply. This is said to have a positive effect on memory, concentration, and other cognitive abilities.

From an engineering perspective an ergonomic study of body motions found that the repetitive physical movements of Salat can reduce chances of lower back pain and increase flexibilty. Interestingly an inverse relationship was seen between the time spent on each prayer posture and the back compression force affecting the person during that posture

Neuroimaging studies of Muslims whilst praying have demonstrated a decrease in activity in areas associated with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder. Remarkably, the changes were only seen when the individual performed Prayer with concentration. In automatic/rote Prayer brain imaging showed no change from daily activity!

References

1. https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2017-09-29.html 29 Sept 2017
2. https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2017-01-20.html 20 Jan 2017
3. Zakariyya Virk,The Physical Benefits of Salat, Ahmadiyya Gazette, August 1993
4. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfoozat Vol. 7, pg. 386 https://www.alislam.org/library/malfoozat/efficacy-of-prayers/
5. Khasawneh et al, An ergonomic study of body motions during Muslim prayer using digital human modelling, International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering Volume 25, Issue 3
6. Andrew B. Newberg et al, A case series study of the neurophysiological effects of altered states of mind during intense Islamic prayer.Journal of Physiology-Paris Volume 109, Issues 4–6, December 2015, Pages 214-220

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
Islam

Punishment for Apostasy In Islam and How Islam Teaches Tolerance

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Nazma Raichuri Bishop, Hounslow

In 2017, The Independent newspaper reported that there are over 13 countries that declare apostasy punishable by law; all except one of these are Muslim majority countries. This is not a surprising statistic from the view of the populist misguiding media about practices of Islam, but one that could not be further from the truth. The menacing practice of killing apostates (someone who has repudiated their faith) is based neither on the Holy Qur’an nor on the practice of the Holy Prophet of Islam, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

The Holy Qur’an addresses disbelief more than 150 times, yet never gives authority to punish the disbelievers for their disbelief; Islam does not allow any worldly punishment, let alone death, for apostasy. There is no mention of any punishment for an apostate in this world which may be inflicted by human hands, politically or administratively.

The confrontations and disputes between Messengers of God and those who opposed them throughout the history of religion were caused when people rejected the message of the Prophets which they brought from God. The Holy Qur’an mentions this with reference to Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus (peace be on them all) and states:

‘He has prescribed for you the religion which He enjoined on Noah, and which We have revealed to thee, and which We enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying, ‘Remain steadfast in obedience, and be not divided therein Hard upon the idolaters is that to which thou callest them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He pleases, and guides to Himself him who turns to Him.’ (42:14)

There have been cases in Islamic history in which someone became an apostate, murdered Muslims and was guilty of armed rebellion. History tells us that the murderer has had to forfeit his life, and the armed rebellion is put down with the use of force. Anyone who took up the sword to kill people (in this case Muslims), was punished with death because of the murder and not because of his repudiation of Islam.

“Admonish, therefore, for thou art but an admonisher; You are not a warden over them.” (Holy Qur’an 88:22-23).

Islam has guaranteed freedom of conscience and freedom of belief, and has announced in the plainest terms that so far as faith is concerned everyone is answerable to Allah alone. The Prophet of Islam, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was commanded to proclaim that he had not been appointed a keeper over the people, nor had he been made responsible for them. No one has been made responsible for another’s faith; everyone is responsible for himself.

The punishment for apostasy in Islam lies with the One against whom the offence has been committed, i.e. Allah. In Islam apostasy which is not aggravated by some other crime is not punishable in this world.

The role of a true Muslim today is to spread the message of truth and is by no stretch of the imagination the role of an enforcer. We are entrusted to heal, help, and support the people of the world, and we do it through reasoning and tolerance, we respect others right to reject, and we always counsel with love and patience as guided by the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Islam

Finding God

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Laiqa Bhatti, Egham

What is the purpose of life? It is an age-old question that is pondered over, from a fleeting thought in the ordinary man to the continually debating philosopher. It is a question that leads many on the journey to question the existence of God, to find Him and after having found Him and His true beauty, to earn His love. For this is the sole purpose of our life; it is something that requires patience as well as guidance on how to find God. For that reason, God sent religion. The purpose of all true religions was always to facilitate and guide its followers closer to God.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has explained that in order to find and nurture a relationship with God, one must first recognise Him, understand His beneficence and His perfect beauty before nearness to God can be achieved [1]. There are countless examples of God’s perfect beauty all around us, from the microscopic wonders of the world to the macroscopic vastness of the universe. In the Holy Qur’an, God says:

‘Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day, and in the ships which sail in the sea with that which profits men, and in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and quickens therewith the earth after its death and scatters therein all kinds of beasts, and in the change of the winds and the clouds pressed into service between the heaven and the earth are indeed Signs for the people who understand.’ Holy Qur’an (2:165)

So for the seeker, seeing the world around us from the perspective of a perfect Creator, God’s beauty is easily visible, and if the seeker continues to look, the beauty becomes spell-binding. This realisation should invoke a fervent need to find this Creator, for which, again, God sent religion containing myriad ways in which one can become closer to God. Prayers and worship of God serve a single purpose; bringing man closer to God. Earnest prayers, seeking God’s help and guidance are the foundations in this journey because it is only God who can guide us. This again makes us reflect on the omnipotence of God and His love and how insignificant we and our efforts are in comparison. Then God instructs us to extend this worship to the world around us and strive in His cause and serve others. From the sacrifice of wealth to a mere smile for another human being, all acts for others are also considered worship.

‘And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the proud and the boastful,’ Holy Qur’an (4:37)

Each act of worship for the sake of God brings us closer to Him, yet much like the physical nourishment is continuous, the spiritual also is continuous and requires time. Therefore finding God, developing a loving relationship with God requires steadfastness and that steadfastness must remain under trials and tribulations, in both adversity and prosperity. This quality of steadfastness is of such significance that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

‘…he who seeks steadfastness Allah bestows steadfastness upon him. Upon no one has been bestowed a bounty better and more comprehensive than steadfastness.’ Bukhari [2]

Keeping company with the righteous is another way of establishing a meaningful relationship with God as people who have experience with God allow us to observe their perfect example and their personal experience and relationship reminds us of the perfect beauty of God. The believers that have found God are bonded to Him in a way that is inspiring and calls on us to continue fervently searching for God. When the efforts of the seeker are answered, God starts to manifest Himself through true dreams, visions and revelation. The seeker has found God and becomes so intoxicated in His love that nothing in this world any longer matters. The temporary, materialistic things become insignificant because an everlasting bond with the benevolent God has been established.

The beauty of the search for God is that He can be found, if the seeker would like to, in whatever we do. Even when a seeker makes a mistake and commits a sin, repentance of that sin brings him nearer to God. It is a journey that can last a lifetime and those who reach the pinnacle of this journey are the fortunate ones. Because when you truly find God, God becomes a part of you.

God says that: ‘When I love him I become his ears by which he hears, and his eyes with which he sees, and his hands with which he grasps, and his feet with which he walks. When he asks Me I bestow upon him and when he seeks My protection I protect him.’ [3] And of those who believe in God, is there anyone not yearning for His love and protection?

 

[1] https://www.alislam.org/library/links/00000149.html

[2] https://www.alislam.org/library/hadith/on-steadfastness/

[3] https://www.alislam.org/library/hadith/on-approaching-towards-god/

Islam

The Islamic Economic System

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Arfa Yassir, Swindon

Early humans experienced the unpredictability of life in the form of earthquakes, storms and floods, but even so they were naturally led to ‘gathering’ i.e. to save for rainy days; that’s how early competition over the ownership of resources started. In the modern world more resources mean more power and hence individuals and nations want to secure their future by retaining the ‘power’.

An economic system handles production, distribution and allocation of resources i.e. goods and services of a society or a geographic area.
Leading economies of the world today are mostly capitalist while some are mixed economies. Many systems have failed due to certain flaws. Socialism and Communism for instance equally distribute the reward of efforts among the population which hinders growth of the individual.

It is great for both individuals and nations when faith gives clear principles for an economic system, as our moral values are directly affected by our tilt towards the world and its luxuries; on top of it world peace greatly depends on it.

Islam clarifies that the objective of our life is to recognise our Creator and establish a firm relationship with Him rather than indulging in worthless pursuit of accumulating wealth. Also real and lasting safety and security lies in righteousness rather than financial well-being.

An Islamic perspective of some aspects of an economic system is being presented here as understood from a book by His Holiness Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad, second Caliph of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) “The Economic System of Islam”:

1. How ‘Power/Authority’ is Perceived?
Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century said: Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Of course this isn’t so if you believe and acknowledge that absolute power belongs to Allah alone. As humans we are subordinate and answerable to Allah. Hence if you gain authority you are a trustee of God Almighty and one would discharge one’s duties justly rather than being intoxicated by power.

2. How to Govern?
Once you gain authority, Islam has laid down principles on how to exercise authority and how to rule i.e. with justice and under Allah’s subordination.

3. How to Handle Wealth?
Islam is a complete religion that not only guides nations on how to deal with wealth but also guides about spending on a personal level, which impacts the economy. Surah Al-Balad, chapter 90 of the Holy Quran for instance tells about an unmindful accumulator of wealth and explains how his endeavours are useless and bring him no ‘honour’. This has been explained most eloquently on pages 23 – 27 of the aforementioned book. Islam promotes sensitivity in our hearts towards the sufferings of fellow beings and encourages us to spend for their uplift. Even European authors acknowledge that the second Caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first one to hold a census and register people so that the state could take care of the vulnerable properly.

Islam applies barriers to illegitimate accumulation of wealth by:
* Prohibiting Interest/usury as due to that wealth keeps circulating among the rich.
* Introducing Zakat, an annual tax on those with disposable wealth, for the welfare of the poor.
* Not allowing artificial lowering of prices in the market.
* Forbidding withholding supplies from the market.
* Not allowing wealth to be given to a single heir rather be distributed to all legal heirs according to Islamic inheritance laws.
* Promoting voluntary charity.

4. How to Reduce Burdens on Economy?
In the event of wars and other disasters orphans, prisoners and other vulnerable members of the society can burden the economy. People in prisons have to go back into society and their mental well-being is very important to keep them a functional part of society and the economy.

Modern slavery notwithstanding the practice mercifully doesn’t exist today as it did in the past and Islam prohibited it in its early days inviting the wrath of pagan tribal chiefs. The developed world, in particular the United States has a sad history of slavery. Slaves from the African continent were exploited to uplift large scale economic gains up until the eighteenth century.

Islam allows to take prisoners in war for the purpose of suppressing the enemy and no one among the enemy who is not in the attacking army should be held captive. In Islam no civilian can be imprisoned from any country where war has not been declared as stated in the Holy Quran 8:68.

Islam also protects orphans emotionally as well as financially by not allowing their guardians to usurp their wealth. The Holy Qur’an has explained this in great detail, especially in Surah Al Nisa, chapter 4.

One is deeply pained by the fact that Islam is such a perfect religion and gives an economic system that can change the fate of the Muslim world, yet the Muslim countries fail to adopt these teachings of Islam and hence continue to suffer!

Holy Quran · Islam

The Beauty of The Holy Qur’an

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By Navida Sayed, London

The Holy Qur’an is a unique living book like no other conveying a timeless and universal message relevant for all times. What makes the Qur’an unique and distinct is that it can be referred to as a life manual, a study guide and an amazing book of knowledge about the entire universe. There is not a single aspect the Qur’an does not cover relating to the development of humans and social behaviour, foresight about archaeological and scientific discoveries or inventions or prophecies of the past, present, or future. The beauty and wisdom of the Qur’an also provides a source of spiritual healing and is a guiding light for the entire mankind; in relation to this the Holy Qur’an says:

‘…There has come to you indeed from Allah a Light and a clear Book.

Thereby does Allah guide those who seek His pleasure on the paths of peace, and leads them out of every kind of darkness into light by His will, and guides them to the right path.’ (Al Maidah 5:16-17)

Many critics challenge the authorship of the Qur’an and the knowledge of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who was unlettered and dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula 1,400 years ago. Every critical mind boggles at how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) could have produced a magnificent, deeply insightful book reflecting on every concept, problem and solution and knowledge about the universe?

The truth is that the Holy Qur’an in its entirety is the Word of God revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It is a miraculous inspirational book because of it eloquence and splendour. The text of the Qur’an has been preserved intact and every word of it has come down to us as free from interference and interpolation exactly in the same original Arabic as it was revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The Qur’an is the final law-bearing religious scripture revealed by God and what sets it apart from other holy scriptures is that since its revelation, no individual has ever been able to reproduce a single chapter like that of the Qur’an which is clearly foretold in this Quranic verse:

‘And if you are in doubt as to what We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a Chapter like it, and call upon your helpers beside Allah, if you are truthful.’ (Al Baqarah 2:24)

This challenge remains unanswered to this very day.

The Holy Qur’an outlines a golden principle for establishment of world peace. Regardless of theological differences the Qur’an instructs us to promote unity and cohesion by having respect for all religions, their founders and their scriptures. This beautiful teaching of social integration results in mutual respect and understanding between the followers of all faiths.

The intriguing and most fascinating fact about the Holy Qur’an is that it does not contradict modern science but rather supports it. The Qur’an encompasses and encapsulates every scientific phenomenon known to the world, which has been discovered only recently, through the modern advancement of technological equipment. The Holy Qur’an gives foresight into facts relating to the developmental stages of the human embryo. The Qur’an also mentions astronomical facts about stars, planets, moons and the creation of the world in different stages. Modern science has also discovered what the Qur’an told us about the existence of barriers that allow two seas to merge yet maintain their own temperature, density and salinity, for example as is the case of the Panama Canal

There are absolutely no contradictions in the Holy Qur’an whatsoever relating to science, astronomy, geology, archaeology or even history. The Qur’an highlights the true stories of previous Prophets, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus and Moses and in relation to this the Holy Qur’an says:

‘Assuredly, in their narrative is a lesson for men of understanding. It is not a thing that has been forged, but a fulfilment of that which is before it and a detailed exposition of all things, and a guidance and a mercy to a people who believe.’ (12:112)

Emphasising on world peace the Holy Qur’an teaches us that this journey begins with an individual, extending to his family and then to the wider society. Once a nation achieves peace, this can contribute to international peace. Every step of this journey has been dealt with comprehensively in the Holy Qur’an in relation to human rights, women’s rights, matrimonial relationships, rights of children and parents, rights of the orphan, rights of neighbour’s and other individuals in society.

Most importantly, the Qur’an teaches that the purpose of life is to worship God alone, and live one’s life according to the way of life prescribed by Him this also includes to live honestly, humbly and modestly. The Holy Qur’an teaches us to be thankful, just, patient and charitable hence fulfilling our true purpose in life, and attaining success in both this world and the next.

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

Finding Inner Peace Blog.png

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/