Justice, Kindness and Kinship – Scaling the Three Levels of Goodness
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) recited the following verse of the Holy Qur’an.
‘Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 16:91)
Following this, His Holiness(aba) stated that this verse is recited as the second sermon every Friday and on both occasions of Eid. In it, Allah the Almighty gives instructions on what one ought to do, and what one ought to abstain from. For a true believer to strengthen their faith, it is necessary for them to tread upon the commandments of Allah the Almighty, otherwise a Muslim cannot become a true believer.
In respect to the virtues mentioned in this verse, His Holiness(aba) said that he would mention what the Promised Messiah(as) has stated. The Promised Messiah(as) has mentioned these virtues from varying perspectives, ranging from the mutual relationships between humans to demonstrating justice, kindness and kinship with Allah the Almighty.
The Promised Messiah(as) explains this verse in great detail which help a believer understand what it means to truly connect with God and takes a believer to new heights of faith. This verse and the commentary of the Promised Messiah(as) contain a blueprint for us to create a society that fulfils both the rights of humankind and the rights of God. It is unfortunate that in these days, the world as a whole – including the Muslim world – is bent on usurping the rights of others. Although Muslims profess the teachings of Islam, many of them around the world have fallen prey to such ills.
Justice in Fulfilling the Rights Owed to God and to His Creation
The Promised Messiah(as) states that it is ordained by God that one should be just to Him and His creation, or in other words, fulfil their rights. If one can go beyond this, one should not only demonstrate justice, but also demonstrate kindness as though one truly perceives them. Furthermore, if one can go beyond this, then one should treat both God and His creation selflessly and with no expectation of recompense, similar to one who is selfless due to a relation.
The Promised Messiah(as) then states that one should always be mindful of their relationship and obedience to God. One should regard God as One and without any partner, and regard Him as the only One worthy of worship. This is a relationship with Allah that demonstrates justice. He is the Lord, the Nourisher and Provider, and so this is His due right. It is His right that we love Him and obey Him and Him alone. To do so is justice to God.
If one wants to go beyond this rank, then one must demonstrate ‘ihsan’ or ‘kindness’, which means to truly realise God’s greatness and become absorbed in His beauty as though one has witnessed Him firsthand. One cannot show kindness to God, so to show kindness to God means to become utterly absorbed in His love and worship as though you have truly witnessed His power and attributes.
The Promised Messiah(as) then states that the rank above this is that of kinship. Before this rank, one has to exert effort and strive. However, in this stage, one is removed of all formalities and exertion, and this love for God becomes natural, similar to the love of kindred. This love is selfless.
In respect to humans, justice means to show your fellow human beings justice, to give them their due rights and to seek your due rights from them in a just manner. The next stage is kindness. If one is ill towards you, you show them kindness and mercy. In this stage, you demonstrate kindness to others irrespective of their behaviour toward you. The next stage is that of kindred. In this stage, all the kindness and compassion shown to others becomes selfless and there is no expectation of recompense, nor is there any selfish desire in mind. Such kindness should be natural and emerge from the heart like the love that exists between family and relatives. This is the highest form of love for humankind which is free and pure from any selfishness and ulterior motives. His Holiness(aba) stated that this is the standard we should demonstrate amongst one another, and then extend this love to others.
Then, in respect to the rights of Allah, the Promised Messiah(as) states that the aforementioned verse instructs us to give God His due rights because He has created you and provided for you. Due to this, He is rightfully deserving of our worship. Furthermore, one should go above and beyond this and be obedient to Him, which is the second stage.
The Promised Messiah(as) explains that at the stage of ‘kindness’, one remembers the favours of the one who has been kind to him. In this respect, when we demonstrate ‘ihsan’ or ‘kindness’ toward God, His attributes are in front of us.
Three Types of Those Who Are Obedient
The Promised Messiah(as) then explains that those who are obedient to Allah the Almighty are of three types: Firstly, there are those who, because their sight is hindered, are unable to discern the favours of Allah the Almighty to their fullest. Either their sight is hindered, or they rely more heavily on material means. The insight they lack can be attained if one, as is required at the stage of ‘kindness’, ponders over the favours of God. When one ponders over the favours of God, the heart becomes enlivened in God’s love.
Many people only accept God as their Creator as a formality and do not truly understand the depths of what they believe in. The reason for this is because of their heavy reliance on material means, which causes God’s true countenance to become obscure. Such flawed understanding is plagued with worldliness and cannot reveal the true nature of God. An individual such as this only offers religious obligations as a formality and not from the heart. Even with such people, Allah the Almighty shows mercy and accepts their state.
Secondly, after one’s inclination moves from material means to the favours of God, then one becomes completely reliant on God. At this stage, material means have no importance, and one trusts God completely. Many people give importance to their own strength and capabilities, or to the help of others, but a person who reaches this stage realises that everything materialises because of God and God alone.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that at this stage, one does not perceive God to be invisible or unseen, but truly perceives Him and Present before themselves. One’s worship completely transforms and when in prayer, one can see God before themselves. This stage of worship is known as ‘ihsan’ in the Holy Qur’an.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that there is a stage above ‘ihsan’ known as ‘giving like kindred’. When one continues to ponder over and witness the power and attributes of God and is persistent in their worship and effort to attain His love, eventually, such a person will become completely absorbed in the love of God that resembles a personal relationship. At this stage, one’s worship is not solely based on the love that is borne out of witnessing the favours of God, rather, this love originates from the heart as something personal and beloved.
Worship at this stage is not to ask or beseech God for something, but resembles the relationship that a child enjoys its their parents. It is for this reason that at another place in the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty states:
‘Celebrate the praises of Allah as you celebrated the praises of your fathers, or even more than that.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 2:201)
His Holiness(aba) states that at this stage, one’s love for God becomes pure. The Promised Messiah(as) explains that at the third stage, one does not strive to fulfil their own pleasures and desires, but instead strives for the pleasure of God.
Furthermore, the Promised Messiah(as) said that such people, out of their love for God, serve humanity in a most loving manner and as a result, they expect nothing in return except the pleasure and attention of God. Thus, such a relationship with Allah should not only result in the demonstration of love only to God, but also to His creation.
The Difference Between the Stages of ‘Kindness’ and ‘Giving to Kindred’
The Promised Messiah(as) states that what differentiates that stage of ‘kindness’ and ‘kindred’ or the second and third stage is that at the second stage, one may show kindness to others and expect something in return. This kindness originates from the kindness of others and should be more than what was received. One may also openly profess that they had treated others with kindness. However, at the third stage, one moves away from this and becomes selfless in showing kindness.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that one should treat others as though they are truly related to them. If one shows someone kindness, sometimes they also mention that they were kind and bring up their acts of kindness. Conversely, a mother never brings up the favours and love she showed to her child. Our treatment of others should be like that of a mother’s to her child.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that in simple terms, ‘justice’ means to give back what you received. ‘Kindness’ means to return more than what you received. And finally, ‘giving like kindred’ refers to treatment that is unconditional.
Implementing Justice In the Matter of Debt
Furthermore, the Promised Messiah(as) explains that at the stage of ‘justice’, one has to battle themselves and bring about reformation. To reform the self that incites to evil, the stage of ‘justice’ must be attained. For example, if one is in debt to another, the self desires that the debt that is owed is forgotten; one tries to usurp the right of the other. However, one should be aware that Allah the Almighty is watchful over their every action.
His Holiness(aba) mentioned that in matters of lending money, sometimes people unnecessarily trust others. Allah the Almighty commands us to bring every matter relating to lending money into writing and draft a formal contract. This can save matters from falling into trouble. A believer should be mindful of this.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that Islam puts great emphasis on paying your debts. In fact, the Holy Prophet(sa) would not offer the funeral prayer of a person who had fled from paying their debts. Thus, by adopting the teaching of ‘justice’, one can overcome such ills and vices. Thereafter, one is enabled to progress to a higher stage of virtue known as ‘kindness’. However, even at this stage, one may boast about the goodness and kindness they show to others. Once one is able to overcome this and forgo their boastfulness, then they progress to the final stage. At this stage, one treats others with goodness just as a mother raises her child. A mother has no selfish desire in the upbringing of her child, she bears pain so that her child can be comfortable, her love for her child is pure and selfless.
The Unparalleled Teachings of the Qur’an Regarding Justice
The Promised Messiah(as) states that Allah the Almighty desires for us to reach the highest stage of goodness, which is ‘giving like kindred.’ Allah the Almighty desires for us to become sincere and selfless in our goodness. Our every action should only seek the pleasure of God. The Promised Messiah(as) states that such a lofty and perfect teaching cannot be found anywhere else. The Torah, nor the Gospels contain such a teaching, and it is only the Holy Qur’an that imparts this teaching.
The Promised Messiah(as) explains that one must also be intelligent in showing kindness. Without fully assessing the situation, or where kindness is not necessary, one must not be unrestricted in showing kindness. Similarly, one must show kindness when it is due. There must also be an appropriate measure of kindness as well, and every situation varies. Thus, one must employ wisdom in this as well.
In respect to those who boast about their kindness, the Promised Messiah(as) cites a verse of the Holy Qur’an.
‘O ye who believe! 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.’ (The Holy Qur’an 2:265)
The Promised Messiah(as) explains that once we begin to flaunt our kindness, it does not remain a virtue. Many who show kindness and benevolence to others often flaunt their goodness and expect gratitude in return. As Allah the Almighty has stated, such kindness goes to waste. Then, there are also others who, after showing kindness, put pressure on others to return the favour. Sometimes, such pressure exceeds the kindness that they showed. One must also avoid such behaviour in order to reap the blessings of their goodness.
Demonstrating Justice at the Appropriate Occasions
The Promised Messiah(as) explains that all three stages of goodness should be demonstrated at an appropriate and corresponding time and place. These virtues are not applicable in all scenarios. Sometimes, the kindness shown is more than required. It is like a rain that is too harsh and destroys the crops rather than providing any benefit. Thus, Allah the Almighty instructs us to be mindful of the situation and ponder over when justice, kindness and giving like kindred is most appropriate.
In this regard, the Promised Messiah(as) narrates a personal incident. In Sialkot, there was a man who disputed with everyone to the extent that even his own family was fed up with him. The Promised Messiah(as) treated him well, and as a result, he too treated the Promised Messiah(as) with kindness. There was an Arab who visited the Promised Messiah(as) who was severely opposed to Wahhabis. When Wahhabis were even mentioned, he would slander and malign them. However, the Promised Messiah(as) treated him well and disregarded his slander. One day, the Arab was enraged and openly slandered Wahhabis. Someone told the Arab that the person he was being hosted by [i.e., the Promised Messiah(as)] was also a Wahhabi. Upon this, the Arab fell silent.
The Promised Messiah(as) explained that it is not wrong for him to be referred to as a Wahhabi, because he believes that after the Holy Qur’an, it is the Hadith that should be adhered to. After that incident, the Promised Messiah(as) encountered that Arab one day in Lahore. Although he did harbour some enmity towards Wahhabis, his rage toward them had cooled and he greeted the Promised Messiah(as) with great love. He insisted that the Promised Messiah(as) accompany him to his mosque and served him as a servant. Thus, the Promised Messiah(as) showed how kindness can change a person.
Two Types of Morals
The Promised Messiah(as) states that morals are of two kinds: Firstly, there are the morals presented by those educated in this modern era, who are apologetic and agreeable upfront, but harbour opposition in their hearts. Such morals are opposed to the Holy Qur’an. Secondly, there are morals that teach true compassion and to rid the heart of hypocrisy. One should not be insincere and be baselessly agreeable.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that we should not limit our scope of goodness and expand it. We should scale the ranks of goodness until we reach virtue that is selfless and exemplifies a mother’s love for her child. Even if a king were to instruct a mother not to feed her child, she would reproach the king without any fear. Such should be our level of goodness and kindness.
His Holiness(aba) said that the Promised Messiah(as) has, in his writings and the gatherings he attended, mentioned these virtues in great detail. He spoke on the salient features of Islam, and the virtues mentioned today were amongst those virtues.
In the end, His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah the Almighty enable us to act upon these teachings and progress in demonstrating our love to others to the extent that we become exemplary in the world. May we do justice to our pledge of allegiance by acting upon these teachings. By hearing the words of this verse every Friday, may we be reminded of our responsibilities as mentioned by the Promised Messiah(as) with great pain.
His Holiness(aba) also instructed that we should pray for the Ahmadis in Pakistan and the conditions they are facing. We as Ahmadis will continue to demonstrate virtues and kindness in the face of their Satanic plots and ploys. May Allah enable us to continue to do so and strengthen our faith. May Allah also punish those who are not capable of reformation. It is when we develop a close relationship with Allah the Almighty that we will see the ruin of the enemy come about.
Summary Prepared by The Review of Religions