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Friday Sermon: Forgiveness and ReconciliationAugust 18th, 2017
The Promised Messiah (as), in his book Kashti Nuh [Noah's Ark], states: "God desires a complete transformation in your being and He demands from you a death where after He should revive you. Hasten to make peace with one another and forgive your brethren their sins. For he who is not inclined to make peace with his brother is wicked and will be cut off, because he is the cause of dissension." The Promised Messiah (as) continues by saying: "Part with your ego in every way and do away with mutual grievances. Be humble like the guilty, though truth be on your side, so that you may be forgiven. Do not feed your vanity, for those who are distended with ego cannot enter the gate to which you have been called… The one who most forgives the transgressions of his brother is the more honourable among you."
In the previous Friday sermon, I also spoke about Qadha and cases of dispute. When one reads the section of 'Our Teaching' in Kashti Nuh in its entirety, one is shaken to the core. Those, who are slow to forgive, the Promised Messiah (as) says about them 'will be cut off'. He further stated that "Unfortunate is the one who is obstinate and does not forgive." This attitude is not consistent with fulfilling the conditions of Bai'at (oath of allegiance). The Promised Messiah (as), at one occasion, stated that:"Our Jama'at should be such that they do not remain content with mere words". This means that they should not prove themselves to be Ahmadis by mere words. He states: "Rather they should be such as fulfil the true intent and purpose of the bai'at. …."
Thus, the Promised Messiah (as) has very clearly stated that Allah the Almighty cannot be pleased without fulfilling the purpose of the bai'at. And in order to please Allah the Almighty, the fulfilment of the rights of His servants and being at absolute peace with them is also important. The Promised Messiah (as) said that he would not even think of turning away the extended hand of peace from even his arch enemy who has called him the Antichrist and a liar even a thousand times.
The Promised Messiah (as) then counsels us by saying: "My advice is to keep two things in mind. Firstly, fear the One God. Secondly, show sympathy to your brothers in the same manner that you show towards yourself." The Promised Messiah (as) says that "If someone commits a mistake or an error, they should be forgiven. His mistakes and errors should not be highlighted further. One should not get into the habit of holding grudges." In this world of chaos and disorder, we regard ourselves fortunate to be inside the protective fortress of the Bai'at (the oath of allegiance) to the Promised Messiah (as) but our protection is conditional to treating others with tenderness. We should lay the foundation of peace, otherwise, we will be making empty claims and will not benefit from joining the Jama'at of the Promised Messiah (as).
The Holy Prophet (sa) said 'a strong person is not one who can wrestle with and defeat the other, rather a strong person is the one who can control his temper in a moment of rage and anger. Hence, it is the hallmark of a believer to demonstrate such high is an incident of Hazrat Ali (ra) let go of an enemy who he has overpowered and was about to kill, when the enemy spat at his face. Hazrat Ali (ra) explained that he was fighting the enemy as the enemy was attacking and fighting against Islam. But, by spitting on my face, he provokes my inner ego; and I do not wish to kill anyone for the sake of my person.' These are the high standards presented by our elders. The true Islamic teaching that spreads the knowledge of forgiveness and forbearance.
Hence, on one occasion, during one of his sittings the Promised Messiah (as) said "Our community does not require the strength of powerful men and warriors, (we do not need strong people or wrestlers) but instead we require the powerful ones who endeavour to enhance their morals and take them to higher levels. …. So, keep in mind that you should exert all your efforts and strengths into changing your morals as this is true strength and bravery." Thus, this should be our target.
The Promised Messiah (as) states that to abandon evil and adopt good habits is a miracle and phenomenon for him. After taking the oath of allegiance, attaining the moral excellence is a miracle in itself. The Promised Messiah (as) states, "If there is ever an eternal miracle then it is this miracle, phenomenon and revolution which you must instil in yourselves (i.e. to abandon sin and bad morals and to adopt high morals). It behoves a believer to demonstrate the miracle of spiritual excellence in the sight of the creation and the Creator. Excellence in morals can help the most immoral person to become convinced of the truthfulness of the message, many people accepted the true faith by witnessing the moral miracles." The Promised Messiah (as) displayed a practical example of that when two Sikhs came to his meetings and used foul and abusive language. No one responded to these verbal excesses and they let without provoking any response. Thus, this is the high level and his example which the Promised Messiah (as) displayed before his followers.
Whilst explaining that if the worm of selfishness does not leave man then he does not believe in the oneness of God, the Promised Messiah (as) states "In reality, these worms of selfishness cannot leave without the grace of God Almighty. So we must strive to attain the grace of God Almighty. …. I say with utmost conviction that if man recognises the truth about the Kalima Tayyiba (declaration of faith) and puts it into practice then he can make great progress and witness God Almighty's most wondrous powers." The Promised Messiah (as) further states: "Behold, I stand not on this station as a mere admonisher or to tell stories, but I stand to bear witness. I must convey that message which God Almighty has given me. I must fulfil my duty. I understand that many people have joined my community and profess the unity of God but I say with regret that they do not believe in it. Whoever violates the right of his brother or abstains not from other evils, I cannot trust that he is a believer in the oneness of God.
The Promised Messiah (as) states: 'One is free of idols in the form of hatred, bitterness, jealousy, vanity, etc. and draws closer to God Almighty. This transformation and also to truly believe in the oneness of God can only happen when the internal idols in the form of arrogance, self-conceit, vanity, malice, enmity, jealousy, miserliness, hypocrisy, disloyalty, etc. have been removed.' The Promised Messiah (as) states that one must do away with all these ill-habits and it is only then that one can truly believe in the oneness of God Almighty and develop a true comprehension of the creed: 'There is none worthy of worship except Allah.' The Promised Messiah (as) states: 'Until these idols exist within, one cannot be truthful in his declaration of the creed: 'There is none worthy of worship except Allah' because [the presence of such ills] rejects one's belief in God. Thus, it is an undeniable fact that simply uttering belief in the oneness of God is of no benefit.'
In short, without the grace of God Almighty, one cannot rid himself from the disease of the inner self and ego, and nor can one without His grace become truly established on Tauhid [Oneness of God]. Simply uttering: 'There is none worthy of worship except Allah' cannot make one a believer in the Unity of God. It is essential to consider Allah the Almighty as the Most Powerful being and the One Who is truly worthy of worship, only then can one abstain from employing different worldly ploys and means to usurp the rights of others. Thus, the essence of this extract of the Promised Messiah (as) is that one who does not fulfil the rights of others, does not make an effort to seek reconciliation and does not end his enmity with others, does not truly profess belief in Tauhid [Oneness of God]. This is such a point that if we understand this then we will become those who shall always lay the foundations of reconciliation and peace and will also enable us to fulfil the rights of others.
Therefore, every one of us needs to understand this and assess themselves, otherwise this will be a state of great concern for us if we claim to profess belief in Tauhid [oneness of God] but our practise is completely contrary to it. The Promised Messiah (as) has outlined the various methods to discard Shirk [associating partners with God] in his book, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam. There are various methods of how one can, and should, refrain from Shirk. In regard to one of these, he states: 'Refraining from inflicting physical pain on anyone and becoming harmless and behaving peacefully.'
One of the methods of discarding Shirk is that one should lead a life wherein one does not perpetrate any kind of injustice against anyone and nor cause them any harm. In fact, one should become completely harmless and should lay the foundations to establish peace and reconciliation, and it's very important to increase love and affection between one another. The Promised Messiah (as) further states: 'Without a doubt, peacefulness is a high moral quality and is essential for humanity. … It becomes a moral quality when a person deliberately makes himself harmless and exercises the quality of peacefulness on its proper occasion and refrains from using it out of place. In this context, the Divine teaching is: And set things right among yourselves (8:2). And reconciliation is best (4:129). And if they incline towards peace, incline you also towards it (8:62). And the servants of the Gracious God are those who walk on the earth in a dignified manner (25:64). And when they pass by anything vain, they pass on with dignity (25:73).
Then, the Promised Messiah (as) quoted the following part of the verse: Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he between whom and yourself was enmity will become as though he were a warm friend. (41:35). The Promised Messiah (as) states: 'That is, try to promote accord between yourselves; Peace is best; when they incline towards peace, do you incline towards it also. The true servants of the Gracious One walk upon the earth in humility; and when they come upon something vain, which might develop into strife, they pass on with dignity.' The Promised Messiah (as) further states: "Should anyone behave mischievously towards you, you should try to repel it with peacefulness, whereby he who is your enemy will become your warm friend."
The Promised Messiah (as) stated: "The reason for establishing this community is that one's tongue, eyes and in fact every part of their body should be infused with Taqwa (God-fearing righteousness). The radiance of righteousness should be visible inside them and prominent on their exterior. They should become an outstanding model of pristine virtue and morals. The Promised Messiah (as) further elaborates about how we should respond to someone who uses hurtful language and tactics against us, by saying: "The best method of reformation is that if someone uses offensive language against you, then you should pray to God Almighty with a sincere heart that God Almighty reforms that individual. At the same time, you should not harbour any malice towards that person." The Promised Messiah (as) further states: "God Almighty never desires that one should abandon outstanding moral qualities such as gentleness, patience and forbearance and then to replace them with callousness. If you make progress in terms of your moral virtues, then you will quickly find the path that leads to God Almighty."
On one occasion whilst advising us, the Promised Messiah (as) said: "If one has forged a relationship with me, and one claims to have become part of my army, then they must adopt the highest of morals and abandon the habit of rebellion and agitation.... you should cleanse your hearts, increase your sympathy and empathise with those who are in need. You should ensure that peace and harmony is established in the world. In turn, this will enable their faith to flourish and Islam will spread as new avenues of propagating the message will open up." The Promised Messiah (as) then states: "Therefore, arise, seek repentance and please your True Creator with your virtuous deeds."
At another instant whilst advising us to remove all malice and rancour from our hearts, empathising with fellow man, and establishing the foundations for peace, the Promised Messiah (as) said: "At this time, I would like to advise my community – who accept me as the Promised Messiah – that they should always stay away from these immoral customs. God has sent me as the Promised Messiah and has adorned me with mantle of the Messiah, son of Mary. I therefore admonish you: Refrain from evil and be truly compassionate towards mankind. Cleanse your hearts of malice and spite, for you will become like angels through this habit.… Be compassionate towards all for the sake of God so that you may be shown mercy in the heavens. Come, and I will teach you a way that will cause your light to prevail over all other lights. Abandon all lowly spite and jealousy, be compassionate for mankind, and lose yourselves in God. Being with God, achieve the highest levels of purification. This is the path on which miracles are bestowed, prayers are accepted, and angels descend to one's aid. But it is not a single day's work. Advance and continue advancing. Learn from the example of an individual who washes clothes. He places them in boiling hot water until the heat causes dirt and filth to separate from them. Then, .. he … beats the clothes on stone sills. The dirt that had settled in the clothes is thus slowly removed. This process of heating clothes and beating them continues until they are as clean as they were when new. This is the only strategy for cleansing the human soul. Your entire salvation depends on this purity alone. This is precisely what Allah the Most High has said in the Holy Qur'an that only that soul will attain salvation that is cleansed of all types of dirt and filth."
May Allah the Almighty grant us the opportunity to act upon the teachings of the Promised Messiah (as) and through this may we show compassion to our fellow mankind. May we lay the foundations of peace, whilst also understanding the true meaning of the oneness of God. May we spread love and compassion in the society we live in. May we prevent ourselves from succumbing to our worldly desires, in fact, may we always seek the path that leads to attaining the pleasure of God and may this be our primary target.