Today’s Friday sermon was delivered by Khalifatul Masih V (May Allah be his helper) from Baitul Futuh mosque, London. After Tashahud and Surah Fatiha, Huzoor said:
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said at an occasion that a true believer is the one who wants the same thing for others that he wants for himself. What a guiding principle it is that lays the foundation of love and conciliation at all levels from home to international relations. It ends the conflicts, mellows the hearts and draws attention to grant each other’s rights. At many occasions, when I put forth this matter, before others, they were very impressed. Our purpose is not only to impress others by relating a pleasant matter but also to prove the beauty of every Islamic commandment through our deeds. The others can pose a question that it is a nice saying but how many of you act upon that and do not show selfishness at a testing occasion.
The elegance of a matter reveals itself only when the person presents it through his action. Our hall mark will be known only when our words of mouth match our deeds. The people are not satisfied just by listening to what we say, they also watch us. During my travel through Germany, in the last Friday sermon, I mentioned that a local District Commissioner objected that we show untoward behavior to ladies by not shaking hands with them. When I gave a detailed answer to that, then a person, giving his expressions also said that it was very true that everyone has the right to act upon what his religion or traditions tell him to do… even when there was no harm to the country or public. He further said that that was declared by your caliph, but its reality will be known when we see if Ahmadi youth or their majority acts upon it or not. So, when we talk about superior moral behavior with reference to a religious commandment, other people watch us as well.
Nobody can deny what the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said about establishing the high moral conduct of the believers that their being true believers will be known when they display high morals and the standards of their emotions and empathy will be raised. What are those standards? What you like for yourself, like it for others too. Not that you clamor for justice for yourself but show a negative attitude towards giving rights to others. So, when we become restless to obtain our rights, we should establish the same standards to give rights to others. When we do something wrong, we want to be forgiven and we do not want to be punished. So, when someone else commits the same offense and is not a habitual offender, then we should adopt the same behavior as for ourselves and forgive him. If he is committing an offense that is against the community or the national interests, then it becomes a crime against the nation and therefore the institutions and not an individual decide about that. Anyway, what I am saying is that regarding the daily mutual dealings of the society, do we give the same rights to others that we give ourselves or think that way or not. Home is the basic unit in these matters, then there are friends, acquaintances, siblings, and other relatives. When this thinking will transfuse on a smaller scale, in a limited circle, then the same thinking will permeate the society on a larger scale. Selfishness will end, there will be more discussion about giving rights, the tendency toward forgiving will increase and trends to punish orhave someone punishedwill diminish. Allah, in The Holy Quran has stressed to espouse the inclination towards forgiveness along with being mindful of the apparent rights and needs. Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“Those who spend in prosperity and adversity, and those who suppress anger and pardon men; and Allah loves those who do good”. (2:135)
In it, first of all the attention has been drawn toward spending to pay the rights of the needy. The doer of the good is the one who helps others, does noble acts, and observes taqwah. The one who benefits others for Allah’s sake and by following taqwah is definitely selfless in giving rights to God’s creation. He spends visibly and invisibly to achieve Allah’s will and when this condition is created in a human, he doesn’t show selfishness, doesn’t wish ill for his brother, and such people start spiritual progress and join those whom Allah loves. Then Allah also says that another sign of those who do good is that they control their emotions…such a control that they suppress their anger when it is natural to be angry, and this can be done when a condition to forgive is created after the suppression of anger.
This is not an ordinary matter that emotions of all kinds of anger and revenge are expunged from heart. It is a great thing not only to strike out anger but also to do a favor to the offender. Allah wants these things to develop in the believers. There is an incident related about Hazrat Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) that he was enraged and was about to punish his slave for his mistake. The slave recited a part of the verse that meant,” and those who suppress their anger”. At that Hazrat Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) dropped his hand or did not raise his hand. Encouraged by that, the slave said the next part of the verse: “And those who pardon men”. At this Hazrat Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) pardoned him according to the decree of Allah. The slave was encouraged more and said that Allah loves those who do good to others. At that Hazrat Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) said that he frees him and he could go wherever he wants.
Those who wish to be loved by God adopt His taqwah, have such a conduct that they not only forgive the offenders but also do a favor to them. Referring to the above quoted verse, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says at an occasion, “Remember that a person who is harsh and enraged, cannot utter wise and meaningful words from his tongue. The heart that flies into a rage and quickly gets out control is deprived of sage matters. The lips of the unbridled and foul mouthed become unfortunate and kept away from the spring of profundity”. It was further said “Rage and sage cannot stay together. The one who throws a tantrum, has a dull mind and a blunt brain. He is never given an upper hand or victory in any field. Anger is half insanity. When fully blown, it can change to complete insanity.” He further says, “Remember that rage and intellect have a dangerous enmity for each other. An intelligent person cannot be unreasonably angry”. He said, “When emotion and anger arrive, intellect can’t stay; but the one who is patient and models perseverance, receives a light in his faculties of thinking and perception. Because heart and mind are dark in the state of anger and turbulence; so darkness creates darkness”. Teachings of Islam are full of wisdom. Even when someone is against a thing or a person and it is a matter of punishment; a decision is reached with deep thinking and not with overpowering turbulent emotions.
At some occasions, one has to be strict, but doing it in a rage is not legitimate. Islam has a concept of punishment but there are rules and regulations for it. Punishing in anger takes away from wisdom and justice. For that reason, he (the Promised Messiah-peace be on him) said that if you punish under turbulent anger, it will harden your heart and with hardened hearts, words of wisdom and deep understanding cannot be uttered from mouth-thinking is blunted rather. That is why Allah has ordained to suppress anger, keep the mind cool and then decide to punish or not to, if you have the authority to do so. It is not so that all have the authority to punish. The promised Messiah (peace be on him) said that we should have the quality of being patient and we need to raise the standard of patience. Those who are patient get enlightened and also receive guidance from God. If a believer is using wisdom to decide, there is no haste in his decision even if it’s a disliked matter; deep thinking and patience is exercised instead and details are observed and pros and cons are considered. It should be clear that not everybody is authorized to punish. These days, punishing is the job of the concerned institutions. Individuals can pardon the offences done against them but for punishment, the help of law or related institutions is needed. If this is kept in mind, the altercations over petty matters and the loss of money and time in litigation will not happen. If a court pardons an offender, the opponent is furious at the pardon or lesser punishment and takes the matter to the higher court despite the matters being trivial and not serious. Some Ahmadis also insist on taking the matters to the courts rather than getting an arbitrary decision from within the Jama’at. They even incur losses for needlessly litigating over those matters. Allah has asked us to suppress anger and forgive and not to keep on pardoning without reason. We are asked to decide after explaining the wisdom behind the punishment and forgiveness.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“And the recompense of an injury is an injury the kind thereof; but whoso forgives and his act brings about reformation, his reward is with Allah. Surely, He loves not the wrong doers”. (42:41) So the essence of the matter is to make the criminal conscious of his crime and reform him and not to entangle him in litigation and waste time and money and if it is about jama’at institutions, then, thinking ill about them. If pardoning reforms, it is better to pardon. If punishment is necessary to bring reform then, wisdom demands punishment and the matter undoubtedly be taken to the concerned institutions.
The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) has talked about this edict at many places. He says in Tryaqul Qulub, “According to the law or justice, every vice has a proportionate recompense but if the person affected pardons the wrong doer, provided the reformation of the offender is sought and not that the offender is encouraged to repeat the offence, then, the pardoner will receive big rewards from God. Again in Buraheen-e Ahmadiyya, he says that justice demands that the offender receives the proportionate punishment, but if forgiveness is exercised with reformation in mind and it does not entail bad results, then, Allah says that the pardoner will get as much reward as He wishes.
Pardoning and forgiving is done when it is apparent that the offender will not repeat the offence. Some habitual criminals ask for forgiveness every time they commit the crime. For such people, punishment is necessary. The nature of punishment should lead to reform. According to the Holy Quran, neither punishment in all cases is commendable nor pardon in all cases is commendable. It depends on circumstances in each case. This is the intent of the Holy Quran that revenge or forgiveness be exercised in the light of the situation and discretion. The limitations of pardoning and punishing according to Islam require us to keep the reformation in mind.
These days we observe that every crime is punished and criminals are kept in jail for reformation, but the analysts from the advanced countries have started writing that the criminals do more crimes after serving the punishments. The reason is that both punishers and criminals are acting upon the laws and none of them has fear of God in mind. Anyway, the believers are being told to inculcate a habit of forgiving and the decisions be based upon the nature of the crime, the demeanor and past behavior of the offender. Continuous punishing breeds discord and rancor, erects the walls of hatred and disruption of peace continues to spread. When we examine our social atmosphere, we observe that the victims of the wrongdoing demand vehemently that punishing the criminals is necessary so that it serves as an example for others and they are deterred from committing the same crime. And the offenders ask for pardon.
These days, many human rights organizations have been formed. Where they are involved in many good deeds, at the same time they are excessively engaged in trying to get pardon for every criminal. Similarly, those criminals who know a little bit of God’s commandments, demand to be forgiven for God also forgives. Irrespective of the benefit to the community they demand that everyone should be pardoned individually as well as by the community. The people who are excessively engaged in these matters, are either criminals or the ones who want the decisions in their favor beyond justice. They commit crimes on one hand and on the other hand want to escape punishment by illegitimately citing God’s commandments. Such people never forgive others when the offence is committed against them. They are selfish because they bend the rules and forget the principle to like for others what they like for themselves. Islam rejects what these selfish people say and decides on the basis of ultimate justice that if reformation will come out of pardon, then, forgiving is better and if it is clear that there is no way without punishment, then, the punishment becomes necessary.
This is the philosophy of the Islamic teaching. Now, we see how far did the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) go in forgiving and how did he advise his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) about it. We observe the pinnacle of forgiving in his life. He forgave the people even when the decision had been taken to punish them. He did not pardon others’ offenders but pardoned those who wronged him and even murdered his children because they were reformed. It is related that a man named Habbar Bin Aswad attacked Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) daughter Hazrat Zainab (may Allah be pleased with her) with a spear during her flight from Makkah to Medina while she was pregnant. She was injured, her pregnancy was terminated and eventually she died of those wounds. For that crime, Habbar was sentenced to death. At the conquest of Makkah, he fled and later returned to Medina. He came to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and begged for his mercy. He said, ‘I ran away for your fear, but your forgiveness and mercy has brought me back. O prophet of God! We were ignorant and idol worshippers. Through you, God saved us from death, I feel guilty of my excesses, forgive me, ignoring my ignorance. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) forgave this murderer of his daughter and said, “Go Habbar, I forgave you, this is Allah’s favor on you that you accepted Islam”. When he saw that reformation has taken place, he forgave even his daughter’s murderer.
Hazrat Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) says that he (peace be upon him) never avenged any of the excesses done to him. He forgave the Jewish lady who fed him poisoned food despite the effect of the poison on the companions. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufian, who was guilty of mutilating the dead body, and chewing the liver of Hazrat Hamza, the Holy Prophet’s uncle, did the Bai’at along with other ladies at the occasion of the conquest of Makkah. Because of her asking certain questions, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) recognized her and asked if she was Hind. She answered that she had accepted Islam from her heart, and asked for forgiveness for her past. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him, forgave Hind. She was so much impressed by his forgiving nature that she had a complete change of her nature and became very faithful. She invited the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) to a feast, the same evening and presented two roasted lambs saying that there was a shortage of animals, those days and she could do only that much. The Holy Prophet prayed to Allah for blessing her herds and as a result, her herds became immensely large.
Abdullah bin Abi Salool, who is known to everybody as the leader of the hypocrites, was forgiven by the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) despite his mischiefs and offered his funeral prayers despite Hazrat Umar’s multiple requests to not to say the funeral prayers for him. Ka’ab Bin Zair, who was a famous poet and had need sentenced for certain offences-his brother wrote him that he should ask for forgiveness from the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). After the conquest of Makkah, he came to Medina and said the Fajr prayers behind the Holy Prophet. After the prayers, he said that Ka’ab is repenting and is asking for forgiveness. Since the Holy Prophet (peace be Upon him) did not recognize him by face, Ka’ab asked if he could be presented if permitted? On permission being granted, he told that he was Ka’ab. At that moment, one of the Ansars got up (as Ka’ab had been sentenced to death) to slay him, but the Holy Prophet asked to leave him alone because he had come for forgiveness. Ka’ab said a Qaseedah for the Holy Prophet (peace be on him), he liked it and gave his own clothing to Ka’ab to wear. This was his standard of pardoning. There are countless examples of his forgiveness. He had such a virtue of forgiveness that humans are astonished.
Hazrat Promised Messiah says those who were close to God, were called names and were wronged badly, but they were given the title “Avoiders of The Ignorant”. The Perfect Human, our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was subjected to wrong doing, cursing, foul language and excesses. Since Allah promised that if he ignored the ignorant, his honor and life will be protected by Him. So, it happened and his opponents could not tarnish his honor and were themselves humiliated at his feet or were destroyed before him. What kind of advice did he give to his companions to acquire high standard of forgiveness? I will present one or two of the many stories. A man came to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked if he could give corporal punishment to his slave for the mistakes that he makes. The Holy Prophet said, “forgive him very many times”. This is the standard that has been set by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) for the employees and subordinates. It should be clear that there is no slavery these days, so, a believer as an employee is expected to discharge his duties rightfully. This responsibility lies both with the employer and the employee. The employer should not be angry at small matters and the employee has the responsibility to discharge his duties.
Advising us about forgiving and forgetting, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) says, “The purpose of preparing the Jama’t is that taqwah permeates tongue, ears, eyes and every part of the body. The light of taqwah be inside and outside his body, should be a great example of elegant behavior and should be completely devoid of anger and fury etc.”. He further said, “I have observed that the defect of anger is still found in the majority of the people in the jama’at. Rancor and ill will result from petty matters and they clash among themselves. Such people don’t have a part from the jama’at. I understand what difficulty is faced if one calls names and the other keeps silent and doesn’t respond. Every community’s reformation starts first with conduct. It is needed that he patiently makes progress in the training. The best way is that if someone talks foul, then, he should pray from the aching heart. First train yourself patiently, and then train others as well. The way to do that is that pray to God so that He reforms him and does not increase ill will in his heart”. He further said, “Allah doesn’t like at all that the Mellowness of heart, patience, and absolution that are excellent virtues be replaced by animalism”. If you make progress in your conduct, you will very soon reach closer to God”. It is in the Holy Quran : “Say, ‘Everyone acts according to his own way, and your Lord knows full well who is best guided’.” (17:85)
The Promised Messiah further says, “Some people are excellent in one kind of conduct but poor in another. If one behavior has a good tinge the other one is bad, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that reformation is impossible”. Humans have different natures. They have virtues and weakness, but they don’t have only weaknesses and no virtues. The Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) wants us to try to reform ourselves by following Allah’s commandments and adopt high standards of our conduct that belong to the believers. We should always try to get rid of weaknesses and always make the atmosphere peaceful. For that, the principle told to us by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is, that you like for your brother, what you like for yourself. May Allah make us the achievers of those standards. Ameen.