Delight Of Our Eyes

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Munazzah Chou, Farnham, UK

Ijaz is the Arabic word Muslims use to describe the inimitability of the Quran and refer to its miraculous beauty. The Quran teaches readers to pray,

‘Our Lord, grant us of our spouses and children the delight of our eyes, and make each of us a leader for the righteous.’ (25:75)

With this prayer we ask that our spouses and children make us so happy that we are moved to tears and that within them we find refuge from the storm of the outside world. This same phrase is also found in the Quran to describe the emotion of Prophet Moses’ mother when after having hidden her baby, he was found by Pharaoh’s wife and returned to her care. This gives some indication of the depth of feeling that we are praying for.

A husband and wife each play their part in enabling such a sublime marriage. The first step must be the realisation of the sanctity of marriage. This is explained by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad, the second successor of the Promised Messiah, who writes,

“It entails a heavy responsibility for both man and woman, but I find very few people realise it. When it is attempted, it is done on a very inadequate scale. The Islamic law has only distinguished between two sets of rules. One pertains to God Himself, and the other to our fellow beings. Marriage therefore falls into the second category and may be considered to be its chief proponent.”

That the relationship with a spouse makes up the most significant part of ‘Haququl Ibad’ (rights of people) is revelatory.

The Quran describe the relationship and responsibilities of a husband and wife in the following verse:

‘They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.’ (2:188)

The use of the metaphor ‘garment’ here is just another example of the beauty of the Quran and its remarkable capacity to convey great depth of meaning in just a few choice words. Clothing is worn for protection, adornment and to hide defects. In the same way, man and woman should protect each other’s honour and morals, and make each other feel secure with love, support and understanding.

Allah says in the Holy Qur’an,

He said, our Lord is He Who gave unto everything its proper form and then guided it to its proper function.’ (20:51)

Islam views marriage as an equal partnership between two people, by which they can gain Allah’s pleasure. The roles of husbands and wives are clearly defined so that each knows what is expected of them. A husband has been assigned to working outside the home as the breadwinner; whilst a wife is physiologically suited to bearing children and has been made responsible for their upbringing and maintaining the home.

Just as in any system, different individuals are assigned different roles for optimum functioning, similarly, in the family unit the man is the head of the household, he bears the ultimate responsibility for providing for that pious and safe place within which paradise is formed under the feet of mothers. In return, men receive obedience and support from their spouse; the obedience of a righteous wife to a righteous husband.

Islam has organised the rights of spouses in such a way that if each of them perfectly fulfils the other’s rights they will each be the delight of the other’s eyes. However, if one of them misuses this right, then marital life which is a partnership will fail. Islam acknowledges the rights of the wife over her husband just as it acknowledges the husband’s rights over his wife. If both know their Islamic rights and duties, it will create a social climate conducive to the achievement of the real goal of life, the achievement of righteousness and communion with God.

 

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The Nation Builders

Nation-Builders

 

Ayesha Mahmood Malik, Surrey, UK

Mothers – whether perceived from a secular or a theocratic angle – or measured through a religious or irreligious lens – regardless of cast, colour and creed – the notion of motherhood embodies an innate sense of selfless love and giving that knows no bounds. A mother loves not for want of love in return, she endures and sacrifices endlessly and silently not in the hope of a great reward, and she strives resiliently not knowing when the striving will cease. She is the archetype of ceaseless and boundless affection that no other relationship in God’s earth has ever been able to emulate.

It would follow that the reverence attached to such an institution would be without question and universal. However, at the dawn of the Islamic faith, girls, including mothers of the future, would often be buried alive at birth. Islam became the first religion to afford mothers the lofty station of having paradise under their feet, as stated by the Holy Prophet, (peace be on him) and in terms of respect and obedience due arguably even ahead of the fathers; on another occasion he named the mother three times through service of whom paradise could be earned before naming the father.

If a mother’s stature is privileged in Islam it is because a mother carries a heavy onus as well on her shoulders. She is charged with the primary responsibility of rearing the next generation of individuals and ensuring that they become responsible members of society, giving back to their communities. She is also to ensure their high moral values and a sense of duty to civic society. A mother’s role is inimitable if discharged faithfully to forming the building blocks of peaceful, well knit and tolerant neighbourhoods, districts, societies and nations.

Thus, a woman who chooses to give up her career and become a stay-at-home mum in order to focus her entire energies in this noble task ought to be deeply respected and appreciated for her choices. However, the modern world chooses to class her service under the un-recognised work category of ‘housewife’ – the category that doesn’t stop giving but which receives no recognition. In fact, ultra liberal pundits see this as a reduction of women’s capabilities and them being relegated to the confines of their home and being made to sacrifice otherwise successful careers.

Yet it is an established fact that without the contributions of this under-recognised, under-revered work group the world would lack its leaders, it teachers, its scientists, its lawyers, its engineers. The world would be without the sense of stability and security which is borne out of walking into the house to the fresh smells of home made food. A mother’s love and devotion indeed form the foundations whereupon the buildings of lifetime success are constructed.

On one occasion the Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was asked to clarify the Islamic position on female imams. Poignantly, he responded by questioning what an imam can really do for his people? His Holiness went on to respond to his own question stating how an imam could not guarantee high moral values and righteousness out of anyone following him in prayer but a mother can. Hence, he concluded that a mother was far more powerful than an imam.

My Identity as a Muslim Woman

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Iffat Mirza, London

Living in the Western world where many are quick to judge me on my veil and my different lifestyle as well as many preconceived stereotypes being projected on myself by the public is challenging. However, all this fades to nothing. Being a Muslim woman is an honour; It comes with a sense of community, duty, and ambition. My identity as a Muslim woman is that of serving my community, an identity that strives to break free of not only the stigmatisation of Muslims but also the barriers of women, even in the Western world.

On a physical note, my identity is most often defined by my wearing the veil. Questions such as “do your parents force you to wear it?͛” and statements from non-Muslims such as ‘surely, you can take it off now – your parents aren’t here’ are far more common than one would hope. However, these responses from people who are not Muslims only reinforce the beliefs that Islam taught me – that I am not here to please society, rather I only serve to please my Allah. My response to the first question is always ‘no, I do it for Allah,’ and to the latter statement the response is simple – I believe God is Omnipresent. I try to always live my life knowing that Allah is watching me. The veil is my declaration to the world that I am proud to be a Muslim woman and that I believe in the commandments of Allah. Therefore, my veil is a part of my identity that I want to present to society.

Furthermore, my identity as a Muslim woman is that of an ambitious woman. Islam has taught me that I can, and by the Grace and Blessings of Allah, I will. This includes wanting to help improve my community, to help in the efforts to bring about peace and to improve myself. I am inspired to have ambitions to achieve academic and worldly excellence as well as religious; as a woman, Islam has allowed and encouraged me to do this.

My identity is of a happy, confident and faithful Muslim woman.

My Identity as a Muslim Woman

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Nabila Khalid, Manchester

A person’s identity͛ or more accurately one’s self-concept͛ is defined as their belief about themselves. So who am I? What is my identity?

I think of myself to be a career-orientated British Ahmadi Muslim woman. I grew up with a clear vision of studying hard, gaining a degree and establishing a successful career in the medical industry alongside volunteering for the community (future possible self). So I studied hard and gained a BSc in Biomedical Science. Fast forward 8 years since my graduation, today and I am a stay-at-home mother, a wife and an active member of my local community.

I decided to take a break from advancing my career to get married, build a home and focus on advancing myself as a wife, mother and member of the British community. Why have I made these choices? My religion guides me. It has allowed me to unapologetically be equal to my husband despite being a stay-at-home mum and not going out to work alongside him.

I consider myself to be a feminist; as our faith repeatedly tells us we are equal. Maybe I am not a feminist in the popular sense of the term; I do not want to be the same as men, I cannot be the same as men as biologically I am made differently. For example, to be expected to carry out the same roles as men at the same time as incubate, birth and nourish another human being is not equality in the slightest.

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist developed the “hierarchy of needs – (physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, self-actualisation) in an effort to bring a sense of order to the chaos of human behaviour. The first 2 needs are self-explanatory and form the basic needs for survival.

The third need is belonging – through the guidance of my beloved Imam and Caliph (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad), my present self has found its place in the community as an Ahmadi Muslim, mother, wife and British woman. And it has allowed me to do so without compromising my esteem (the 4th need).

My future self needs to work on achieving the last stage, self-actualisation, as this is a difficult one to achieve. A stage achieved by many great personalities in history. On a spiritual level for example, by women such as Hadhrat Maryam (Mary), Hadhrat Khadija and indeed the perfect man the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings be on him, also the Promised Messiah (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad), and Jesus, the Buddha etc.

Luckily the Promised Messiah in his book The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, defines what I interpret to be the spiritual aspects of self-actualisation as Nafsi Mutma͛innah * which translates as ‘the soul at rest͛’ and tells us how to work on achieving it. May we be able to do so!

My Identity as a Muslim Woman

Identity Muslim Woman-WajeehaRana.png

By Wajeeha Rana, Slough

The question of my identity as a Muslim woman has been raised repeatedly, at university and in the work place. This is perhaps because quite evidently, I am identifiable as a Muslim from the way in which I dress, and my choice to wear the hijab is a very prominent symbol of commitment to my religion. I feel an indescribable bond with my fellow Muslim women, of which many share this common identifier. As an Ahmadi Muslim woman, I am quite literally part of a sisterhood, one in which I feel that it is in identifying as a Muslim woman that brings out the best in me. I do not experience any hindrance in serving my faith or the wider community, rather the feeling of belonging and having a common objective has always been an invigorating one.

I also believe that identity is not something which can simply be defined by one͛s outer appearance. For example, my identity can be made up of a vast number of things, such as my race, my culture, and my personality. However, my identity as a Muslim woman can never be separated from me, because the positive influence of my faith is so deep rooted in my every day. It is Islam that has taught me that I as a Muslim woman have a responsibility and right to education, while many societies all over the world seem to suppress women͛s rights. It is also Islam that has taught me how to integrate into society in a dignified manner. I do not feel lesser than anyone or distracted by discussion about whether my status could in any way be inferior to a man in Islam. It is indeed Islam which has taught me that just presenting myself as a Muslim from the outside is not the whole point. The inner must reflect the outer, and so I strive to better myself so that any good act is not just a reflection on my character, but on me as a Muslim woman, who takes pride in this identity and feels empowered by it every day.

Social Barriers and the Islamic View

Social Barrier...BLOG

Zujaja Khan, London

On 20 February 2018, the international community will commemorate the UN World Day of Social Justice, this year’s theme being the migrant worker. It is estimated that there are 258 million international migrants, with 150 million of those being migrant workers. The United Nations defines a migrant worker as a ‘person who is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national’. By that definition, it may be safe to say that every one of us knows a migrant worker: our parents, teachers, doctors, local shop keepers, colleagues. In the UK alone, 99% of the horticultural labour force has been made up of migrant workers.[1]

Governments across the world have concerns about the permeating effect that migrant workers have on their social and economic culture. Not a month goes by without new headlines of the ordeals migrant workers face; in the last year alone, undocumented workers in the United States have been facing relentless scrutiny and persecution from their government. In 2017 the economic blockade of Qatar exacerbated the poor quality of life for migrant workers who were already living in poverty.[2] The Thai government introduced foreign labour legislation last year that would fine companies found to have employed migrant workers without sufficient documentation (a legislative move that has seen an ‘exodus’ of workers).[3] Migrant workers’ post-Brexit discomfort here in the United Kingdom has drastically altered the face of our labour force in the horticultural sector, leading to a crisis in farming.[4]

How best to go about the advancement of social justice for migrant workers is indeed a complex and deep-rooted question facing the global community, so providing a one-size-fits-all analysis or solution is futile. The wider picture here must be considered. However, from a cultural perspective I believe there does exist one commonality at the core of this dire situation: a practice of distrust.

The fundamental principle of Ahmadiyyat, the renaissance of Islam, is simple, yet profound: love for all, hatred for none. We strive towards a fairer, more peaceful and collaborative world. But the migrant worker’s life is thrown into uncertainty and scrutiny in every debate about national security, public safety, stable economies.

In the Holy Quran, it states:

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a lustrous niche, wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a glittering star. It is lit from a blessed tree — an olive — neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would well-nigh glow forth even though fire touched it not. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whomsoever He will. And Allah sets forth parables to men, and Allah knows all things full well (24:36).

Allah here has made clear that His bounty is not specific East or West, or any particular region, and that no one group has superiority over another. The Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) emphasised this in his Sermon on the Mount, in which he said:

As God has made you one brotherhood, so be not divided. A non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one.

Of course, the situation of the migrant worker is a multi-faceted, ongoing political issue, but on a basic human level Islam teaches us repeatedly that love for all people is our duty as Muslims. With more love for humanity, our pursuit of justice becomes more enlightened and powerful.

As Muslim women in particular, we are in an advantaged position to help – we have the guidance of the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophet peace and blessings be upon him), our beloved Khalifa, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad. In his Friday sermon delivered on 1 June 2012 he said that among God’s creation the greatest is humankind, most eminent of all creation but man becomes a true human being when he tries to be advantageous to others.

We have the examples of many women in Islamic history who have shown that our status as women is of equal measure to men. Therefore, in such a blessed position, it is vital for us to help advance the cause of others to bring about a more just and equitable society. Hadhrat Khadjiah (may Allah be pleased with her) is an excellent example for us as Muslim women; she was the first person to accept Islam, believing in the message the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) was sent by Allah. It is related that the Holy Prophet ( peace and blessings be upon him) said about Hadhrat Khadijah : “When people rejected me she stood by me; when people disbelieved, she believed and accepted Islam; when I had no support, she helped me.”

We mustn’t take our position as Ahmadi Muslim women for granted. We should remember that as a community, we are blessed with the leadership of Khilafat to enable us to harness our capabilities to create meaningful and lasting change in the world for all.

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/09/lack-of-migrant-workers-left-food-rotting-in-uk-fields-last-year-data-reveals

[2] https://www.vox.com/world/2017/7/21/15960232/qatar-gulf-crisis-migrant-workers-saudi-uae-bahrain-egypt-diplomacy-middle-east

[3] http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thailand-faces-labour-crisis-over-migrant-workers-exodus

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/09/lack-of-migrant-workers-left-food-rotting-in-uk-fields-last-year-data-reveals

‘Daily Routine to Seek Divine Forgiveness’

daily routine to seek...

Rabia Salim, Manchester

In Islam the topic of asking for daily forgiveness is a vast one.  Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, (peace be upon him) stated the purpose of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a revival of Islam, and said: “Rather, a community is worthy of being called a true community when it puts the reality of Bai’it in practice.”  Bai’it is the pledge of allegiance that Ahmadi Muslims take when they enter the Ahmadi Muslim Community, and they aspire to live by it.

Our daily routine to ask for forgiveness is one of the practices of our faith.  The third condition of Bai’it gives an Ahmadi Muslim the reminder to ask for forgiveness.  This condition is “That he/she shall regularly offer the five daily Prayers in accordance with the commandments of God and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and shall try his/her best to be regular in offering the tahajjud and invoking durud on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). That he/she shall make it his/her daily routine to ask forgiveness for his/her sins, to remember the bounties of God and to praise and glorify Him.”

Namely, where it says “that he/she shall make it his/her daily routine to ask forgiveness for his/her sins”, is the prescription for a Muslim to make asking forgiveness of God a daily part of life.  In Arabic seeking forgiveness of God is called istighfar.  Literally, this is a concept taught to us by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) and it is very crucial to all Muslims.  The fact that it is in one of conditions of Bai’it is a reminder to Ahmadi Muslims to include it into our daily routine.  Personally I find it therapeutic to recite istighfar in the morning.  In the evening, I find it useful to think of areas in the day that could be improved.

What’s noteworthy here is that the formal five daily Prayers have also been mentioned in this Bai’it Condition, the special pre-dawn prayer called ‘Tahajjud’ and the recitation of invoking salutations and blessings on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) called ‘durud’.

I think the daily Prayers are also related to the topic of seeking forgiveness of Allah because the five daily Prayers are a disciplined, mindful and regular practice that keeps us tapped into the spiritual realm and the Almighty.  They give the worshipper an opportunity to bow down and ask sincere forgiveness for any wrongful acts.  They have been likened to washing yourself in clean water five times a day.  This reminds me of the Christian practice of baptism, which ‘washes away’ a person’s sins.

Tahajjud, or pre-dawn prayer, also allows us to ask for Divine forgiveness in perhaps a unique way.  The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says one of the effects of offering this Prayer is it provides protection from commiting sin which,  is an added step to ward off sin.   Indeed, if everyday we repeated the same mistakes, without an effort to improve, it would be pointless.  When one starts offering Tahajjud, Allah grants one the yearning to get up, and in the quiet of pre-dawn, the prayers take on a different colour and give a worshipper increased spiritual strength to act mindfully in the upcoming day.

Of course durud is next, and it brings down Divine Grace in the form of light that lights up the supplicator, also warding off sin, because the more light exists in a person, the less room there is for dark, sinful acts.

Now, specifically for istighfar.  This supplication is two fold.  For a believer it is a prayer that asks God to pardon sins “I seek forgiveness of Allah”.  This prayer also protects the believer from future sins because it strengthens the love of God in our hearts, and it helps to ward off sins that arise within us in our private thoughts.  Eventually, a believer will be immersed in the love of God through istighfar.  It is also a spiritual exercise, like a physical exercise such as planks will strengthen someone physically, this prayer strengthens one spiritually.  Amazingly, it is an antidote against the poison of sin as our remedial side kicks in when the poisonous side tries to take over.  The current head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) has said in his Friday Sermon of December 29th 2017, “man is weak and without the blessings of Allah can never become pure. Until man receives the help and succour of Allah he or she cannot progress in piety.”

It might seem like these things are understood by all Ahmadi Muslims but in practice, in our busy lives, it doesn’t always come to mind.  In fact reading the Bai’it Conditions often is crucial to remind us of our code of conduct.

In short, there are many tools given to us to achieve the different grades in nearness of God.  Indeed we have the opportunity between the five daily Prayers to keep communicating with God and ask for His forgiveness with the tools of Tahajjud and istighfar.  We have to ask God for forgiveness in order to stay near to Him.  A mother and her child go through cycles of displeasure and benevolence also, and in an ideal relationship, the mother forgives the child when the child shows remorse too. It is hoped that asking for God’s forgiveness gives us the status of His nearness.

The Holocaust—Strive for ‘Never Again’

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Basira Ajmal, Bournemouth

It is of course always with feelings of deep sadness that one writes about the Holocaust— a catastrophe in which millions of people, especially Jews were mass murdered remorselessly by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. A genocide to exterminate Jews, an atrocious horror.

While we honour the victims of the Holocaust each year on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, what is also crucial is the need to ask ourselves, what did we learn from history?

What the Holocaust has revealed is the most averse reality of all times; humans have the capacity to execute such heinous and inconceivable cruelties against each other. It envisages that if it has happened in the past, it can happen again and my heart twinges when I write that unfortunately, this vicious crime is still taking place. Yes, you read that correct; I do think that genocide is continually going on around the world.

According to article II of the UN Genocide Convention, any killing or inflicting destructive circumstances or serious bodily or mental harm to anyone with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group is called Genocide.

Have we forgotten what transpired in Cambodia or the mass slaughters of Rwanda? What about the Bosnian genocide? If all of those were too long ago to be remembered, is the Darfur genocide , the atrocities in Syria and the persecutions in Rohingya also a matter of the past? No, I am afraid  these are contemporary issue. Most regretfully, the frequent occurrence of this barbarity has made us somehow immune to feel the pain and agony it inflicts. To make it happen ‘Never Again’, it needs to be addressed everyday rather than on only one particular day of remembrance.

Now generally speaking, to shut down anything like a factory, a machine or a car, we cut off the fuel, whether it is manual energy, electrical or chemical fuel. Similarly, to tackle this unending problem of genocide, we need to cut off what propels it. Genocide is often instigated and later fueled by pervasive hate speech. We are living in a time when the phrase ‘Free Speech’ has become a part of our active vocabulary and is always at the tip of our tongues as well as our pens. However, we need to comprehend both constructive and destructive aspects of the power of speech. Eloquent and positively motivational speech promotes peace and productivity. On the other hand, disparaging and disdainful speech spurs violence and agitation, as the author Newton Lee says, “There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech incites violence.”

In exercising our freedom of speech, we need to be wary that we do not suppress anyone else’s freedom, as we are all equal human beings brought into existence by One  Creator. In order to achieve their egocentric objectives, use of presumptuous and provocative words has always been common among the political and national leaders who hold the responsibility of bridging gaps and bringing peace to the society. This depreciatory rhetoric aggravates hatred and incites violence against specific groups of society putting them at a risk, which can in extreme cases lead to genocide.

It is time we bring about a change and actively discourage the use of hate speech and derogatory terms, as advised by our Creator in the Holy Qur’an, chapter 49, verse 12,

‘O ye who believe! let not one people deride another people, who may be better than they, nor let women deride other women, who may be better than they. And do not slander your own people, nor taunt each other with nicknames…’

This beautiful and universal teaching of the Qur’an is a measure to prevent hatred and disparity among different and diverse communities in a society. Within this context, the worldwide ambassador of peace, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad says in a Friday sermon[i], ‘Freedom of expression certainly does not mean that sentiments are trifled with, or are caused to be hurt. If this is the freedom that the West is proud of, and then this freedom does not lead to advancement, rather it leads to decline.’ At another instance[ii], the Khalifa of Islam says these thought provoking and eye-opening words, “Let it not be that in the name of freedom of speech the peace of the entire world be destroyed.”

Thus, we must inculcate these fruitful and valuable teachings into our lives and be mindful of our words and speech lest they incite any kind of hatred or violence against any individual or group. Only then, we could say that we are making an effort to eradicate violence and the unspeakable horror of genocide from our society and are truly striving for  ‘Never Again’.

 

 

[i] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/TheBlessedModelAndCaricatures.pdf

 

[ii] https://www.alislam.org/library/press-release/world-muslim-leader-condemns-anti-islam-film/#sthash.qc4USr9W.67XXQ9g2.dpuf

 

Celebrating the Messiah

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Sameen R Chaudhary, London

The month of December, cold and dark as it is, for many is a celebration of light over darkness. For them it is a time to be with family and friends, worship, giving, joy and singing, embracing and focusing on the good. For Christians in many parts of the world, December brings with it the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, even though it has been established that the actual birth of Jesus did not take place in December at all. Indeed it was a birth that was miraculous, and a death even more puzzling as different theories emerged over time. For a man who has faced much controversy in his birth and death, Jesus is a worldwide figure, and not exclusive to any one group.

This time of year is wonderful for some, stressful for others, and too commercial for many. It is a time of year when streets are decorated, people are in a festive happy mood, and the shops are filled with all things sparkly. 2017 has been a little different as I have never had to think about, justify or explain my position on Christmas the way I have this year. Perhaps it is a sign of the times we live in when Muslims are being scrutinised and discussed all the time. No doubt the whole debate around the Tesco Christmas advert got many people thinking about who was entitled to celebrate Christmas and how. Social media, radio debates and the like were ablaze with commentators on all sides of the argument. From this emerged some reoccurring patterns one of which was that it is OK for people who do not wish to abide by the basic tenets of the Christian faith, (or the basic tenets of all the major world faiths including Islam, as they are all the same at their core, because they are all from the One God), to celebrate Christmas. But it is not ok for a Muslim, who actually not only believes in Jesus (on whom be peace) but has much respect and love for him as a Prophet of God, a noble and pious man born to a woman who was the epitome of piety as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. A man who Muslims believe was the Messiah. We may not agree on the way he died, but at least we agree how he was born and that he was sent from God for the benefit of people.

On the other hand there was the recognition that many people celebrate Christmas without believing in Jesus, and therefore it has become part and parcel of British culture, which all who live here should be part of anyway. Many people go back to pre-Christian England where festivities around the winter solstice celebrated the shortening of nights and lengthening of days, and where many practices have found their way into a ‘traditional Christmas’. On this side, there is also the expectation to join in. Those who do not are seen as on the periphery of society, not assimilated or integrated. Here too there is a flaw, as it takes away the meaning of Christmas for those who do celebrate it as a religious festival.

So the dilemma of celebrating this time of year, how much or how little to celebrate continues in fear of offending anyone. But celebrating someone does not only have to be about their birth. It can also be a celebration of their purpose and message and to honour these. And there are many ways. If I was to celebrate the coming of Jesus (on whom be peace), rather than his birth, it would be first and foremost to recognise the God who sent him. It would be to believe in the Prophets who came before him, and those who came after. It would be in showing respect to his teachings, his people, and those who believe in him. Perhaps it would even be learning more about him and his message. It would be understanding the miracle of his birth and the truth of his death. As a woman, it would be to follow the role model of his mother especially, to perhaps adorn myself with a veil the way she is depicted, or to dedicate my child the way she was dedicated to the service of God. If I was to celebrate the coming of Jesus (on whom be peace), or other Prophets of God for that matter, it would most definitely be to accept him as the Messiah of his time. But also to accept the Second Coming, the Messiah for the latter days. That would be the real celebration. So if I was to celebrate, it would be every day and not at any specific time; marked by learning, remembering, understanding, and the struggle to follow teachings today and every day.

As an Ahmadi Muslim and follower of the Messiah who was promised to humankind in the latter days, and who came in the person of the Promised Messiah Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (on whom be peace) I believe in his teachings of the Loving God and service to humankind. Members of the Ahmadiyya Community, his followers, are spending these holidays visiting the sick, distributing gifts, giving company to the lonely, helping the elderly, and much else. These are also ways of celebrating the Messiah. And they are in keeping with the teachings of Prophet Jesus (on whom be peace) ‘Do unto others as you would have done to you’ and the Promised Messiah’s principles ‘that we have kindness at heart for the whole of mankind’.

So to everyone today celebrating in their own ways, (or not); I wish a peaceful day, today and all days.

 

Speaking The Truth

just and peaceful

Basira Ajmal, Bournemouth

Unfortunately we are living in a world full of fake personalities, fake standards, fake reputations, fake accounts and even fake calls—that’s a lot of fakes, and oh! I nearly missed fake news. No wonder we find it hard to trust people, organizations and even governments. We have all heard of the boy who cried wolf but did we learn anything from him? He lost his business, his living, his trust. The cattle lost their lives. The society lost their confidence to trust people.

Truth is the foundation stone for a fair and harmonious world. All the religions and even secular societies place a high value on truth. The Holy Qur’an mentions about the ineradicable connection between truth and justice in the following words:

‘O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, being witnesses for the sake of Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred…And if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do.’ (Holy Qur’an 4:136)

In exact accordance to Quran, all the courts of the worldly societies require the witnesses to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth.” Thus proving that justice can indeed not be established without truth. The inability to deliver justice leads to an unpeaceful society due to the discomfort and agitation among the victims of injustice.

Society most certainly puts a great value on truth but do the ones who form society, the ones who govern society actually speak the truth? Probably not. We are fed with sweetened lies and digestible untruths every day and every moment by politicians, companies and governments through the media to manipulate us emotionally rather than telling us the realities. For instance, just hours after the results of the Brexit referendum, Nigel Farage, UKIP leader revealed in an interview that a post Brexit UK would not in fact have £350m a week to pour into the NHS—a key promise of the Brexiteers which I believe would have been a key decider for most of those who voted to leave. We all become victims of such lies and the injustices caused by them.

We can see how truth is the key to justice on a level as basic as individual families to a level as high as governments and international relations. Putting light to this matter, the Khalifa of Islam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) said in one of his Friday sermons that truthfulness is a quality that is not only promoted by those who are religious; rather it is universally endorsed by both the religious and the irreligious. Yet, the due of expressing truth is not fulfilled. Wherever the opportunity arises, falsity is used for personal gain. Thus, from individual to international level, truthfulness is negated with the same intensity with which it is verbally promoted. A large majority of people use falsehood in business. In social as well as political matters, be they national or international, truth is trampled over.  [i]

Blessed are we to have a Divinely guided Khalifa who constantly reminds us of what we need to do in order to deliver justice so that we can make our homes, our society and our world a peaceful place. He tells us that one should firmly be established on the fact that regardless of the circumstances that might befall me, I will always remain firmly established on justice. This can only be achieved and manifested when a person is willing to testify against himself and close relatives. He tells us, ‘Ahmadis must bear worldly losses and not hide the truth’. [ii] Stressing on the importance of truth His Holiness (may Allah be his Helper) has also said that from our family life to our social circle, our truthfulness should be exemplary, then alone will our efforts be blessed and will impress others and bring them closer to Ahmadiyyat and Islam. We have to endeavour for this. If we use falsehood for trivial financial gains, our words will be ineffectual.[iii]

Therefore, to make this world a better place for all of us, what we direly need is ‘Qaul-e-Sadeed’ an Arabic term mentioned in the Holy Qur’an which means the right word, the unambiguous truth. Truth comes naturally, however, lying needs conscious effort. So let’s save ourselves the hard work and make justice less hard to establish. Let’s start speaking the truth.

 

 

[i] Friday Sermon 9 Sept 2011 https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2011-09-09.html#summary-tab

[ii] Friday Sermon 10 Nov 2017 https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2017-11-10.html#summary-tab

[iii] Friday Sermon 9 Set 2011 https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2011-09-09.html#summary-tab