Ramadan: Training for the Believer
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that Ramadan came and believers did their best to reap its blessings. Now in two or three days, it will come to an end.
The End of Ramadan Does not Mean the End of Responsibilities
His Holiness(aba) said that a true believer always bears in mind that we do not become free from our responsibilities with the ending of Ramadan. In fact, the coming of Ramadan was to draw our attention towards the fulfilment of our duties and the degrees to which they should be fulfilled. Although the month of fasting in Ramadan may be ending, it is the beginning of taking the fulfilment of our responsibilities to new heights.
His Holiness(aba) said that if we remain unmindful of how to continue fulfilling our duties and responsibilities after Ramadan, then we will not have experienced Ramadan in the manner taught by the Holy Prophet(sa). It is narrated that the Holy Prophet(sa) once said that two Fridays or two Ramadans become a means of expiation for the sins carried out in between, so long as a person abstains from committing grave sins. It should be remembered that not seeking repentance for one’s faults and sins also falls under great sins, hence seeking forgiveness is of the utmost importance. If we do not spend the rest of the year in this manner then we will not have benefited from Ramadan in the true sense.
Offering Prayer is not Limited to any Month
His Holiness(aba) said that we are fortunate that the Promised Messiah(as) has elucidated matters for us, and taught us to fulfil the rights of God and His creation. Essentially, he has given us a guideline for how to live our lives, and if we follow this guideline, then we will tread the paths of increasing virtue and righteousness; the path which leads from one Ramadan to the next. His Holiness(aba) said that during the month of Ramadan, our attention towards offering the obligatory prayers is increased. However, offering the obligatory prayers is not limited to Ramadan.
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that abandoning prayer is tantamount to disbelief and association of partners with God. The Holy Prophet(sa) said that on the Day of Judgement, the first question people will be asked is about their prayers. Hence, this is the importance of offering prayer, something which is not merely limited to the month of Ramadan.
Attaining Pleasure in One’s Prayers
His Holiness(aba) said that the Promised Messiah(as) has expounded upon how we can truly benefit from prayer; such prayer which increases the love for God. We should constantly strive to attain this benefit and pleasure in prayer. It should not be that when some worldly hardship befalls us, we lay down our prayer mats or go to the mosques and fervently pray for a certain period of time. Such prayer can render no benefit, nor can simply praying during Ramadan be beneficial.
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that some people consider prayer to be like a tax which is owed to a king; they find it to be something which they are forced to do. However, the reality is that prayer is for their own benefit. Prayer in fact is a matter of love; when a person develops love of God and His worship then they can truly benefit and find pleasure in prayer. However, the reason why people are not able to establish this is because prayer has become a mere ritual bereft of any true emotion. Offering it as such cannot bring any sort of pleasure in prayer. Whereas the reality is that God has bestowed humans with the faculties of finding pleasure in all things, including prayer. Thus, prayer is not a tax, rather it is something in which someone can find greater pleasure than in anything else. Unfortunate is the one who does not find pleasure in prayer, and how can one find pleasure if they do not have true recognition of God and their spiritual faculties have decayed as a result of becoming engulfed in worldliness.
Why People Pray Without Concentration
His Holiness(aba) said that the Promised Messiah(as) stated that the reason why people offer prayer with a lack of concentration is because they are unaware of the bounties and pleasure in prayer. Instead, upon hearing the call for prayer, there are some who begrudgingly go to offer prayer only for the sake of showing others. This is because they have never seen a glimpse or had a taste for the pleasure found in prayer. Those who find more pleasure and comfort in staying asleep when it is time for prayer is because they are unaware of the true pleasure and comfort found in prayer. Thus, we should also pray to experience the pleasure in prayer.
His Holiness(aba) presented an example given by the Promised Messiah(as) of a drunkard. The Promised Messiah(as) said that a drunkard seeks the pleasure of intoxication and thus continues to drink until he attains his goal. There is a sort of spiritual intoxication and pleasure in prayer, but one must continue praying in order to find and achieve it.
His Holiness(aba) said that there are those who offer prayers but still commit vices and evils. The Promised Messiah(as) said that such people offer hollow prayers only out of habit and as ritual. True prayer eliminates evils, thus not only should one pray for their worldly needs, but they should also pray to attain virtue and spiritual progress. Just as one continuously strives for a cure to their ailment, so too should one continuously pray for their weaknesses to be removed and to attain spiritual progress.
The Importance of Supplicating During Prayer
His Holiness(aba) said that the true essence of worship is prayer. The Promised Messiah(as) said that we must offer prayer in the manner which the Holy Prophet(sa) offered prayer, which is to pray in one’s own language after reciting the prescribed recitations and prayers. These days, people have ruined prayer, whereby they hastily offer the prayer, and then remain seated afterwards to raise their hands in prayer. However, the true essence of Salat is prayer. It cannot be that one only prays after the completion of their prayer. What benefit can there be in one standing before a king but saying nothing, and as soon as he leaves the king’s presence he begins asking for his needs. Thus, our prayers and supplications should be made during Salat itself.
Do not Offer Prayer in Haste
His Holiness(aba) said that the manner in which the Holy Prophet(sa) taught us to pray is as follows. Once, the Holy Prophet(sa) taught a person how to pray properly; the Holy Prophet(sa) said that one should glorify God to begin the prayer, then recite Surah al-Fatihah and then another portion of the Holy Qur’an, then one should bow fully and for an appropriate amount of time, not in haste. Then one should stand, and then prostrate in a satisfactory manner, sit back up fully, not in haste, and then prostrate again properly and fully. Thus, the Holy Prophet(sa) taught that the prayer should be offered with great care and attention, not in haste.
Joining One Ramadan to the Next by Way of the Holy Qur’an
His Holiness(aba) said that another way of joining one Ramadan with the next is to focus on the recitation of the Holy Qur’an. The Promised Messiah (sa) said that the word “Qur’an” carries in it a great prophecy which is that this Book alone is worthy of reading, and there would come a time where it would become of even more importance to hold fast to reading this Book. In fact this would be a time when all other books should be abandoned, and the only one Book to be recited and pondered over would be the Holy Qur’an in order to eliminate evil from the world. Thus, the Promised Messiah(as) said that this Community should become wholly devoted to the Holy Qur’an and its study, for it is in this that our victory lies and no darkness can stand up to its light.
Maintaining Faith in All Circumstances
His Holiness(aba) said that in order to continue upon virtue, the Promised Messiah(as) advised that one should maintain their faith in all circumstances. There are those who accept Islam but become completely immersed in worldly work and businesses. This does not mean that one cannot do worldly work; the Companions also conducted business and were very successful, however they did so whilst maintaining their faith. Thus, one should not become fully immersed in their worldly work. There are also those people who are constantly concerned about the faith, which is the best sort of work, as is stated in the Holy Qur’an
‘O ye who believe! shall I point out to you a bargain that will save you from a painful punishment?’ (Holy Qur’an, 61:11)
Hence the best sort of work is the work of faith, which should be given precedence over all else. Of course one can also pray for worldly success, but in a manner that it does not come at the cost of their faith, not allowing Satan to overcome them.
His Holiness(aba) said that in order to maintain the spirit of Ramadan throughout the year, the Promised Messiah(as) said that people must continue to be kind and forbearing to others. There are those who see weaknesses in others and as a result begin to look down upon them and with contempt. However, in reality, they should pray for such people, be kind to them and try to help them, rather than developing contempt for them. Instead they should cover their faults and try to help them. A true community comes about when people are kind to one another and cover each other’s faults. This kindness within a community should be greater than the love between real brothers. The beautiful camaraderie brotherhood between companions established by the Holy Prophet(sa) could not have been achieved even if mountains of wealth had been spent. This is the same camaraderie desired to be established in this Community by the Promised Messiah(as).
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that in our Community, we do not need such people who are strong enough to move mountains, because this is not true strength. True strength is the ability for one to develop their moral state. One must have the power to control their anger and enmity. The Promised Messiah(as) said that he did not desire for any in his community to look down on one another and consider themselves to be greater than others. His Holiness(aba) said that office bearers should be especially careful that they speak with everyone in a very kind and gentle manner. Thus, no one should be looked at as being lesser than anyone else. God Almighty states:
‘Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 49:14)
Remaining United & Exhibiting Love for God Almighty
His Holiness(aba) said that thus, one way of maintaining the spirit of Ramadan is to be kind to one another and eliminate mutual enmity. The Promised Messiah(as) taught that we must be united and this is one of the reasons for which we stand together in prayer. His Holiness(aba) commented that it is only in light of prevailing circumstances in the world that we have been standing with gaps between one another in prayer. However, as the world returns to normal, so too will the manner in which we stand for prayer, as the normal way of congregational prayer is to stand shoulder to shoulder.
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that in order to establish God’s Unity on earth, we must understand it, and in order to understand it we must exhibit this and our love for Him as well. Simply saying something is sweet does not make it sweet, rather it must practically be made sweet. Thus, words must be accompanied with actions. Thus, not only our words, but our actions should also exhibit our love for God and His Unity. Just like Abraham(as), one should be prepared to offer any sacrifice and remain resolute no matter the calamities and difficulties that befall them and stay true to their devotion for God.
His Holiness(aba) said that we should strive each and every day to become closer to God, by praying, reciting the Holy Qur’an, fulfilling each other’s rights, and striving for the establishment of God’s Unity. In fact that actual goal is the establishment of God’s Unity, which was the ultimate goal of the Promised Messiah’s(as) advent. If we do not understand this, then our pledge of allegiance renders no benefit to us. One cannot be successful in life until they attain the love of God, and one cannot attain the love of God until they follow the teachings and practices established by the Holy Prophet(sa).
His Holiness(aba) said we must bring about a pure reformation within ourselves. We must maintain the lessons we have learned during Ramadan and continue them throughout the year. If we continue according to the guidelines presented by the Promised Messiah(as), then we will become those who fulfil the purpose of our pledge of allegiance to him.
Appeal for Prayer
His Holiness(aba) urged everyone to pray for the world. May the countries who are brewing enmity with each other see reason and cease in their ways as the world heads towards destruction. They can only do this when they recognise their Creator.
His Holiness(aba) urged everyone to pray for Ahmadi prisoners throughout the world, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria and other places. May Allah improve their conditions.
His Holiness(aba) said that he would lead the funeral prayer of the following deceased member:
Abdul Baqi Arshad
Abdul Baqi Arshad who had been serving as the chairman of Al-Shirkatul Islamiyyah UK. He passed away on 27 April. He was the great grandson of Hazrat Mian Charagh Din(ra) a companion of the Promised Messiah(as). He lived for some time in Saudi Arabia where he was able to serve Ahmadis who travelled for Umrah and Hajj. He was also imprisoned in Saudi Arabia due to his faith. He was offered freedom if he renounced his faith, but he refused to do so. He served the Community in the UK in various capacities, including as the Secretary for Properties and the National Vice-President (Amir). He is survived by two sons and two daughters. He was very selfless and was a leader who worked with great humility. His Holiness(aba) said that he worked in an excellent manner until his final days. He was completely obedient to Khilafat and obeyed any instruction received from the Caliph. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah grant his mercy and forgiveness and keep his progeny devoted to the Community.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions