Aspects of Self Reformation
Posted on December 19th, 2013

By A. Abdul Aziz, Press Secretary,Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at ” Sri Lanka.

 (Given below is an excerpt of the Friday Sermons of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Supreme Head of the world-wide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Islam, delivered on 13th December 2013, at ‘Baithul Futhuh’, London, U.K. gave a discourse on aspects of self-reformation).

 Ahmadiyya Supreme Head said:-

 The teachings of Islam deal with innumerable matters, there are an unending series of directives which the Holy Quran has given to us. This is why the Founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) has stated in “Our Teachings,” and for the benefit of our reformation, that, “I say to you truly that whosoever from among you is guilty of not attending to even the smallest of the commandments from among the 700 contained in the Holy Quran, he shuts the door of salvation upon himself with his own hands.” This is a matter of great fear and concern for us. We need to take great care, therefore, before taking a single step or undertaking the smallest action.

 I have said this in my previous sermons also, the purpose of the coming of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) was to establish the government of the ordinances of the Holy Quran upon us and enable us to walk on the sunna, the practical exemplary life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) And to fulfill this purpose he drew our attention to these matters again and again.

 If we carry out an honest self-analysis, as I have said before, we will realize that when we hear about these matters, we do effect a reformation but it lasts only for a few days and then most of the people again return to the same old ways on which we were progressing before. The situation is like that of the jack in the box that remains in the box so long as the lid covers it but the instant that the lid is lifted it again jumps right out.

 So, just like this, so long as a particular topic is continuously talked about most people remain affected by it but as soon as the pressure of these advices and discussions stops, the spring of a person’s own self or the spring that incites to evil again causes most people to jump back into their same old ways and some misdeed is again seen to be taking place.

 Many sincere friends wrote to me after the sermons that we are trying and praying and request you to pray also that the ‘jack’ the source of many evil practices that has been put back into the box by these sermons may remain entrapped in the box and should not come out again after some span of time.

 In any case we need to ponder on why this ‘jack’ tries again and again to come out of the box. Reformation of any particular thing can happen and the means to effect such a reformation can only be employed once we know the reasons behind the particular deficiency or once we understand the causes of the deficiency so that an attempt may be made to finish or bring to an end those causes. If the root cause remains, then after a temporary reformation the evil or misdeed will again return.

 When I started to think on things from this point of view and did more reading on this, I came across the analysis of the second Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (r.a.). His way of writing and speaking about matters has the beauty that he poses the question and informs of a solution also by way of examples. The way that he presents the solutions in the light of the Holy Quran, sayings of the Holy Prophet (sa), and the writings of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) is not seen elsewhere. So I thought I would take benefit of his sermons and present these causes here in front of everyone in the light of guidance provided by him.

 From among the things that impede our efforts to effect a practical reformation of people’s actions or that have an impact on these efforts, the foremost among them is this feeling among the people that some sins are big and some small. In other words the people have themselves decided this or have done so on the basis of some statements of the religious scholars. They have determined that some sins are small and some big. And this is the very thing that becomes an obstacle in effecting a practical reformation.

 As a result of this a man become audacious, a sort of insubordination and brazen disregard develops in him to commit sin. A sort of defiance of evil and mischievous sinful deeds comes into being and the wickedness of such actions does not seem to be important in their estimation as a result. They begin to think that carrying out a small sin is a harmless thing or that its punishment is not very severe. The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says:

 “That if someone becomes ill, regardless of whether his illness is small or great, if no remedy is sought for the illness and no pain is taken to find a cure for the illness, the person cannot become well. A small dark patch once it appears on the face of a person causes great concern lest it should grow and darken the whole face of the person. There is a similar dark patch that evil deeds cause to appear on a person’s heart. Small sins become big sins due to one not taking care to avoid them. The small sin is that same small dark patch that grows ultimately to darken the entire face of the person afflicted.”

 So we must take care to not take any sin as being small because once this kind of thinking develops that this is a small, tiny sin, then the seed of the illness one day definitely sprouts and these small sins, with time, develop into big sins. So we all need to do self analysis from this point of view.

 Allah, the Almighty, has assigned a punishment for every small and big sin. Then when we look at how the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has discussed and described small and big sins and good deeds, we find that he has described these differently for different people in different situations.

 In one place when asked what a great and virtuous deed is he said that serving one’s parents is a very great virtue. To another person upon him asking about a big virtuous deed he said that offering tahajjud (pre-dawn supererogatory prayer) is a great virtuous deed. Responding to another person about the same question he said that for you the great virtuous deed is to join in jihad. So it becomes clear that for different people and different circumstances the great virtuous deed is different.

 Let me also say a few words with regard to jihad because it is alleged that we do not participate in jihad. In that age when Islam was being attacked from all sides by the sword, the jihad with the sword was a very big virtue and anyone who would not join in it without any valid reason God had deemed worthy of punishment. But in the time of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him), the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had said that he would bring the wars to an end because the ways and means of attack on Islam would have changed. Islam, the faith, would not be attacked by the sword but rather the media and press and all these means of communication would be used to attack it and the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) and his Jama’at would use the same means to defend themselves from these attacks.

 Keeping these very things in view, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him ) has said in his poetry, that: deen kay liyay haram haiy abb jang aur jidaal; meaning that it is now forbidden to engage in war and fighting for the defense of the faith. What this means is that the jihad of the sword was not only allowed but was indeed needed and was a virtuous act in that age because Islam was being attempted to be annihilated by use of the sword. Now this is no longer a virtue but in fact has been prohibited and made unlawful – or haram – till such time that someone should lift the sword against Islam; till such time as the powers that oppose Islam should take up weapons.

Now the thing that can be called virtuous and allowed form of jihad that is the jihad of spreading the teachings of the Holy Quran, or the jihad of knowledge, the jihad of spreading the message and beautiful teachings of Islam using the press media and the available means of communication.

 If someone is not taking part in this jihad due to his or her lack of knowledge or due to some other reason, there is still the door open to participate in the publishing and spreading of this message by participating in the financial sacrifices to help make this happen. But if anyone doing this type of jihad is not discharging the duties he has towards his wife and children or is not taking adequate care of them then for that person the greater and more virtuous thing is not this jihad but striving to discharge these duties that are incumbent upon him. And if he does not discharge these duties adequately and does not take care of their needs and their education etc he thereby becomes guilty of a grave sin.

 

In the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), despite the obligation of jihad, as I have said, he told some Muslim that the big and virtuous thing for him was to serve his parents. So for every person, depending on the occasion and the circumstances the bigger and more important virtue is something different.

Similarly we see that to heap immense amounts of wealth on wrong and illicit pursuits is a great evil from which we have been forbidden. These days there are all kinds of gambling machines and a variety of ways to participate in gambling. There are many people who are quite taken by lotteries and others who go to the gambling machines and indulge in gambling but they do not lie under ordinary daily situations with ordinary people. They do not go to excess and do not mistreat people or kill anyone because they think these to be grave sins. But they do not consider gambling and wasting large amounts of wealth in this pursuit to be bad. For such persons wasting these large sums of money is a big and very grave sin because the other sins he already considers to be grave in any case.

 Then we see that a woman does not adopt a modest and chaste mode of dress and does not take care of the needs of purdah when she goes outside the home. Despite being an Ahmadi Muslim, she goes about without a head-covering, without a hijab or a scarf or a shawl. She wears a tight dress that displays her physical beauty but if you ask her to make financial sacrifices or ask her to make a charitable donation she has an open heart, and she abhors dishonesty and cannot tolerate that anyone should lie in her presence.

 So for her, the great virtue is not in advancing in financial sacrifices or telling the truth; but rather, for her, a great virtue would be to act on the Quranic commandment that she should make her dress such as fulfills the requirement of chastity and modesty and take care of the requirements of purdah. The thing that she is neglecting, thinking it to be a minor virtue, is the thing that will push her towards the commission of a great sin also.

 So suffice it to say that every good or evil deed has to be measured and seen in the context of every person’s own situation and circumstances and in different situations the actions of different people can affect the definition of good and bad deed for that person. So long as this thought remains that such and such an evil deed is big and another is small and that such and such good action is big and another is small, a person cannot safeguard himself from evil nor become blessed with the opportunity to do goodness.

 We must always keep this in front of our minds that the big evils are those which he finds himself unable to abandon and encounters the greatest difficulty in setting aside and which have become a part of his habitual actions. And the big virtues are those that a man finds very difficult to accomplish. In other words many evil deeds are big for one person and small for another and similarly many good deeds are big for one person and quite small for another.

 So if we are to practically effect a reformation of ourselves, then at the outset, we will have to get rid of this thought from our hearts that, for example, adultery is a big sin, murder is a very big sin, theft is a big sin, backbiting is a great sin; while all other sins are, in comparison, smaller sins. We have to rid our hearts of this thought.

 And we will also have to get rid of this thought from our hearts that fasting is a great virtue, zakat is a big virtue, hajj is a big virtue and all the other virtues are small – and this is the thought that is found among most Muslims. If these thoughts are not gotten rid of from the hearts, then our actions will remain weak. Our actions will become strong when we will keep this advice of the Promised Messiah in front of us that the one who does not act on the 700 commandments of the Holy Quran closes the door of salvation upon himself.

 So we must not understand, like the others that some virtuous actions are small and some big and in these matters, like the other Muslims, for example, think that fasting is the greatest virtue but attach no great significance to prayer in congregation.

 The one on whom zakat is obligatory he tries very hard to avoid having to pay it but when it comes to fasting he will definitely try and fast because he feels that if he does not fast he would be guilty of a very big sin.

 To avoid paying the Zakat at one time it was the case – I do not know what is the case nowadays – that after 1974, when Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution, some non-Ahmadis, who had money in bank accounts, would write that they were Qadiani Ahmadi on bank papers. All Muslims were forcibly made to pay Zakat at the year end and since Ahmadis had been declared non-Muslims this was not deemed obligatory upon them and this was their way of not having to pay Zakat.

 So this is the state of their faith. Ahmadis they say are kafirs – disbelievers, but when the time came to save some money and avoid Zakat, they declared themselves to be among those whom they had declared kafirs. I do not know what is the state of affairs today but this was the situation at one point in time.

 And this state of affairs exists because in order to fix the station or level of virtue and evil they do not look to God or to His Messenger but rather turn to their religious divines and have started following in their footsteps.

 The second Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Jama’at has mentioned an incident from the time of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) that in the month of Ramadhan, while the Promised Messiah (as) was on a journey in Amritsar, he had occasion to make an address. During the speech his throat became dry and a friend, upon seeing this, offered him a cup of tea but the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) turned it away. A little while later he again felt the same difficulty and the friend again became concerned and offered him again a cup of tea which the Promised Messiah (as) again turned away and indicated by a wave of the hand also to leave it.

 But when the difficulty returned again, and the throat became dry, the friend presented the tea a third time and the Promised Messiah (peace on him) took a sip from it thinking that if he did not take the tea, people will think that he was making a show of things by not benefitting from the commandment to not fast during a journey.

 Upon seeing this, the non-Ahmadis sitting there raised a hue and cry that look, he claims to be a Mahdi and yet is not fasting in the month of Ramadan.

 In the estimation of those people the importance of keeping a fast is such that they keep a fast even if it means disobeying a commandment of God. The second Khalifa says that from among those people, perhaps 90 percent of them were such as did not even offer the obligatory prayers and 99% were those who did not tell the truth and committed fraud and robbery but this is also true that at that time 99 percent from among them were fasting because they consider fasting to be the biggest virtue. But they do not observe the fast the way the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) has directed – that one who tells lies or is guilty of backbiting and abusing people; in the sight of God the fast of such a one is no fast at all, he simply remains hungry and thirsty.

 If we take a survey we will find that the majority of Muslims simply suffers hunger and thirst according to this level established by the Holy Prophet (sa). But in their estimation remaining hungry and thirsty thus is a very great virtue and is enough to take them safely across to safety. Or they will include the doing of some other of the few deeds that in their way of thinking are the great virtues and they will think that they have thus made enough preparations to receive the pardon from God.

 Such people can never be the ones who will establish righteous deeds in the world nor will they be able to set up the standards by which people can understand what sinfulness is. They have set up their own standards of big virtues and small virtues and big sins and small sins and as a consequence they try to attain to what they think to be a big virtuous deed.

 And the bad deed which they deem to be a minor evil they never are able to confront. Not abandoning these small evils is to admit that they cannot confront that small bad deed. And so they go on getting deeper into evil by committing one evil deed and then the next whereas Islam has labeled that virtuous deed as being big the doing of which is most difficult and it is a different righteous deed for each person. And Islam has labeled that evil deed as being big from which it is difficult to save oneself.

 So, if we are desirous of reforming ourselves, then we have to keep this thing in the forefront of our minds that we will try to adopt every good and virtuous act and will do our best to save ourselves from every evil and sinful deed. Our self-made definitions will not enable us to adopt virtues and shun evil. Many a times one can do oneself much harm if he starts to make his own definitions in deciding which evil deeds to abandon and which to hang on to and not confront; and determine some good deeds to adopt and leave others.

 Those virtues that appear to be small, because of lack of attention, deprive one from doing any good deeds altogether and many, apparently small bad deeds, cause irreparable damage to one’s spirituality and righteousness and deprive one of becoming the recipient of the bounties of purity and piety from God.

 Then there is also this that if one does not abandon the doing of some evil deeds, the seed of the evil deed remains intact which remains alert for an opportunity and an occasion and sprouts the moment an occasion presents itself. Great care needs to be paid to this.

 To bring the tendency to commit one or more evil deeds to an end can be accomplished when we all put forth a full fledged effort to achieve it – all together. There is a society, a Jama’at and the need is for every member of the Jama’at to make an effort. If everyone makes his or her own definition of virtue and evil then one person will be thinking of a thing to be bad or a big evil while another will be thinking it to be a small evil and it may be that a third would be holding on to yet another thought about the thing – in such a situation the society cannot be rid of evil.

 We will be able to uproot evil once all people will begin to think along the same lines. For example the Muslims consider the eating of pork to be something worse even than shirk or the association of partners with God. Every mischief-maker, thief, adulterer, robber – they will do any and all of these things but yet call himself a Muslim but if you say to him or ask him to eat the flesh of swine he will respond by saying that I am a Muslim how can I do this? How can I eat the flesh of a pig?

 The reason is that in the Muslims as a whole this feeling has taken root that the eating of the flesh of swine is a sin and not allowed – that it is haram, prohibited. Despite having lived in this society and having been born here and grown and lived here, the Muslims who live here, among them 99.9 percent loathe the meat of a pig. This is due to that feeling which has been developed among the Muslims as a whole community.

 So to stop evil deeds and to promote good and virtuous deeds we have to wake up the very soul of every member of the society and realize that even a small righteous act of goodness is a big virtue and that even a small evil act is a grave sin. Until this kind of thinking develops in every one of us and an effort will not be made to bring this about, the evil deeds will continue to exist in society and these will continue to impede the work of bringing about a practical reformation.

 The second cause or impediment in the effecting of a practical reformation is the environment and the tendency to copy others. Allah, the Exalted, has placed this tendency to copy in the nature of man and this makes itself apparent from the earliest part of our childhood. And it has been made a part of our nature certainly for our benefit but its abuse or wrong use leads sometimes to man’s destruction even, or takes him towards destruction.

 It is a consequence of this tendency to copy and an impact of the environment that man learns language from one’s parents or learns other things, good things and learning these the child becomes a well mannered moral person.

 If the parents are righteous and observe the salat (daily prayers) and recite the Holy Quran and live with each other in an atmosphere of love and affection and abhor falsehood, then the children, under their care and influence, will also be such as will adopt virtues.

 But if, on the contrary, lying, fighting and disputes, abusive talk of others in the house or of disrespect to others, not taking due regard of Jama’at affairs even, or other such bad actions; when the child sees these, then because of that tendency to copy or because of the impact of the environment the child learns these same bad things.

When he goes out, whatever he sees in the surroundings and in the friends he tries to learn those things. This is why I again and again draw the attention of the parents that they should keep an eye on the outside environment of the children also. And even within the house the programs that they watch on the television or see through the internet access, they should keep an eye on those also.

 Then this is also worthy of attention that the age in which the children can be trained begins from their earliest years. This must always be remembered and kept in mind. This thought should not cross the mind that when the child grows older then we will start his training. The age of two or three years is also the age of training of the child. As I said, the child looks at and learns from the parents and the elders in the home and tries to copy them. The parents should never think that the child is still very young, what does he know. He knows everything, and the child is observing every act of his parents and these things are leaving an impress on his mind automatically without any intention being involved. And then a time arrives when he starts to copy those things.

 Girls, in their own way, copy their mothers and in their playtime will copy their mother’s mode of dress. Boys try to copy their fathers. The good or bad practices or habits that the parents have will be copied by them. For example when they get older and they are taught that these are bad deeds and these are good actions; lying for example, speaking it is a bad deed, and fulfilling your promise is a good deed. But when a child who has not seen his or her parent’s high morals relating to truthfulness or has not seen the parents or elders fulfilling promises; such a child may understand things insofar as they relate to education and knowledge that speaking falsehood is a bad thing and fulfilling one’s promises is a good thing, but they will not translate this into actions, because they have been seeing that, in their house, people have been acting contrary to all this. Children become set in their ways early on and so when they get older they will not accept anything different.

 If the child sees the mother as being lazy or indifferent to the offering of salat and if the father comes home and asks whether she has offered the salat and the mother replies that I have not offered it yet and will offer it soon, the child thinks that this is a great reply. If anyone asks me whether I have offered the prayer or not, I will also say the same thing, that I have not offered it yet, I will offer it. Or he hears the response that I forgot. Or he hears the reply that I have offered it, whereas the child has been with her all the time and knows that she has not offered it, so the child registers this answer in his or her brain.

 Similarly the wrong deeds of the father leave an impress on the child’s brain and whatever wrong replies that the father gives, the child registers them in his or her brain. So the mother and father both, from the point of view the training of the child, if they are acting wrongly or doing wrong things they are taking the child in a wrong direction and imparting to him wrong education by their own actions. And when the child grows older he replies with these same types of answers.

 Similarly the wrong actions or bad deeds of the neighbors and the friends of the parents are having their effect on the child.

 So if we want to carry out a real practical reformation of our future generations and our children so that the level of our practical reformation is high, then the parents will have to keep an eye on their own situation and actions also, and will need to have friendships with such people who are alright from their practical actions point of view. So the tendency to copy in childhood and the impact of the environment are also things that leave an impress on a child. If you will place the child in a righteous environment he will keep doing good things. If you will place him in a bad environment then he will go on doing bad things. And when the one who does bad things grows up and is attempted to be taught that this is a bad thing you should not do it, he will have already gone beyond their reach and the parents at that stage should have no complaint that our children have come out bad.

 So this is a very great responsibility of the parents that they, by their actions, should make their children such as observe prayer. They should, by their actions, establish their children upon the truth and by their actions they should also impart to them the other high moral qualities also so that they too can adopt those high moral qualities. They should avoid taking false oaths so that the children too can be safeguarded against these things.

 So it is very easy for bad actions to propagate and spread. And this spreads in society by the bad actions of our own people as well as through the bad actions of outsiders. So there is a great deal of impact of the society on the spread of good and bad deeds. So we must always keep these things in front of us. There are other causes also which I shall, Inshallah, mention in the future.

 May Allah enable us always to keep our attention focused on practically reforming ourselves and our children.

 The English Translation ” the video link of which is:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-JOeCrQHIE&feature=youtu.be

One Response to “Aspects of Self Reformation”

  1. Sampath Says:

    very good teachings, only if they practice them!

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