‘Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity…’ (2:287)
This Quranic verse explains that God does not give commandments which are beyond human capacity. Thus the responsibility of putting the commandments in practice is obvious and a believer cannot make excuses that such and such commandment is beyond his capacity. If we believe in God then it is an essential part of our belief that all He commands is within our capacity and we should make an effort to practice it in accordance with our individual capacity.
Every human is different from the other in his mental and physical ability and in his knowledge and intellect. Thus God has made His commandments flexible in the sense that they have minimal as well as maximum standards of attainment which should be practiced with honesty. This leaves no room for objection that God has given someone a nature which does not correspond with God’s commandments. No one can say that God commands to attain the highest of standards while someone cannot attain them because they do not have the physical capacity or indeed mental capacity to do and have other weaknesses as well. By stating ‘Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity…’ God has removed all reasons for such excuses.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God is High and Holy far above putting His creation through difficulty of abiding by commandments that are beyond its capacity. His commandments are not like human instructions put in place to generate kudos. God’s mercy and compassion for mankind is endless. When man acts upon God’s commandments he is rewarded manifold. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also said that the Shariah is based on mildness rather than harshness. Everyone will be dealt with in accordance to their individual capacities and every one apart from those mentally unwell has been given limitations according to their capacities. Thus a standard has been determined even for those with low intellect. Had this not been the case it would not have been essential for everyone to believe and only those of high intellect would have had to have belief.
People have varying levels of intelligence; some have more capacities than others. This can be seen in worldly matters, some people have high level of ability, some have mediocre while some lag behind. Some people excel in one particular profession while others excel in another profession. In education people are inclined to different subjects. All these are natural aspects. All people are not the same. Neither God created them the same nor do circumstances allow them to be the same. Even with equal opportunities provided some people excel while other lag behind. Factors other than intelligence play their part in this. It is the same in matters of belief, some surpass others.
It can be hoped that everyone would believe but it cannot be possible for everyone to have the same level of belief and practice. God does ask why people do not believe, however, the Holy Qur’an does not demand why are believers not like Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umer (may Allah be pleased with them).
Hadith relates that a man asked the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) about Islam. He was told five daily Prayers are obligatory. He asked if there were any other Prayers. He was told no, but if he wanted to he would offer optional (nafl) Prayers. He was told fasting for one month was obligatory. He asked were there any other obligatory fasts? He was told, no, but if he wanted to, he could keep optional (nafl) fasts. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) then told him about Zakat. The man asked if there was any other kind of Zakat. He was told, no, but giving alms (sadqa) was a meritorious option. The man went away swearing by God that he would neither do any less nor any more than what he was told. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said if this man spoke the truth he has found success.
Indeed people are not required to attain the level of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umer (may Allah be pleased with them) but it is explained that optional (nafl) acts earn reward and they also make up for any deficiencies in fulfilling what is obligatory.
People have varying capacities and abilities therefore varying requirements are expected. What has been enjoined is that everyone should try and attain their personal best and no one has been inconvenienced in this process.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God does not ask anyone to accept anything that is beyond their capacity so that His commandments are not inconvenient to practice. It should be very clear that God knows the state of the inner recesses of our heart and no excuse about lack of knowledge, lack of wisdom or capacity will stand before God. Therefore we should keep it in view that we have to test our belief and our practice. The basic standard of five daily Prayers has been set and men are required to offer these Prayers in congregation. Fasting is also obligatory and if Zakat is due on any property one has, it is also obligatory. These are the basic standards on which one should test oneself.
Many among us do not even offer daily Prayer appropriately. It is obligatory on men to offer it in congregation. Indeed, we cannot deceive God. Just as we try our level best to meet our worldly needs we should also try our level best for matters religious and we should try to increase our capacities. Weak people look for support and those who have ability go far ahead. One should not give up simply on the pretext of having limited ability. Worldly law can put pressure beyond one’s capacity but this is not so in case of faith. After appointing the basic standards there is no question of one being burdened beyond one’s capacity. However, supports are needed to understand certain matters, just as students who are not brilliant try to get the help of their teachers. And if teachers do not help, student lags behind and teachers who do not help are not paying their dues and are in fact breaching their trust.
Attention of faith ‘teachers’, missionaries and those with knowledge was drawn that if God has enhanced their capacities they should employ their capacities correctly and help those whose capacities are not as sharp as theirs to improve. This will be an act of thanksgiving for them. Missionaries and Waqfe Zindagi who have knowledge of faith should make special effort to support people and raise them from the basic level. Not only will this enhance the faith and belief of all those progressing, it will also be a source of progress for the Jama’at. God has said to missionaries that due to their knowledge their capacities have been enhanced therefore they should help enhance the capacities of their brothers. God states: ‘And let there be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness…’ (3:105) We have Jamias all around the world which are producing missionaries. These missionaries should look into Tarbiyyat of the Jama’at apart from doing Tabligh and debating others. They should be continuously involved in this task and morally train our own.
Some experienced missionaries say they accomplish whatever task they are given quickly. These are excuses. Some pay more attention to their family life more than their work while others spend too much time on themselves, even if it is the odd one who does this! They spend their time around shops three days a week. This is not only about those who have newly joined. Majority of the missionaries have a realisation of how their time is spent. Those who are experienced should pay attention to make correct use of their enhanced capacities and the commitments they have been given. They should employ their capacities like good teachers.
God knew that different kinds of people would be needed to run the world therefore He stated that some of them should invite others to goodness. Waaqfeen e Zindagi devote their lives for this purpose and do so of their own accord. They should pay its dues. It is true everyone is not the same in learning knowledge and indeed imparting knowledge and every one cannot equally benefit others. However, effort should be made to use one’s capacities to attain the most excellent standard. If everyone followed this principle, brothers who are weak will benefit and the standard of the Jama’at will also enhance.
Members of the Jama’at choose office-holders because they consider them to be better than them in capacity, knowledge and wisdom. At least this is what should be the mind-set of those who choose office-holders. This is the basic standard of choosing an office-holder and no office-holder should be chosen simply for the sake of office. It is also the task of office-holders to raise the educational and religious standard of the Jama’at. Along with the president and secretary tarbiyyat, the entire amila should be mindful to act as role-models. Sermons and dars should be listened to and Jama’at programmes should be attended for spiritual development. Once Jalsa and sermons are availed of, it is the task of missionaries and office-holders and amila to constantly remind others. Some missionaries work most excellently in this regard, they give notes based on sermon and take some point or the other from it and elucidate it. People respond positively and say they found out correct ways to practice and their indolence was removed. It would be wrong if office-holders were complacent having read an extract of the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) to people or if they think that people listen to the Friday sermon of the Khalifa of the time anyway so they do not need to remind. Even if they hesitate to advice people thinking if the words of the Khalifa of the time did not influence them what would our advice do, it is still wrong.
Some people do not understand what is being said although Huzoor tries and paraphrases words of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) in easy to understand language but some still do not understand or misunderstand. Therefore if matters are explained in an easy to understand manner people comprehend what is being said. Supports are needed and those who have been given the responsibility should try and give support to others. Those who have devoted their lives for faith and those who have been given responsibilities should provide support for the weaker ones.
Congregational Prayer is obligatory for men. If those who come to mosque regularly are supportive to others things could improve. Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) said that once he came for Isha Prayers and saw only two rows. He suggested to people to bring their neighbours along next time. The number of worshippers started increasing from the next day. Indeed reminding polishes one’s capacities. If people who regularly came for Prayers brought their acquaintances and friends along and shared drives things could improve. An Ahmadi from Gillingham has said that his friend calls him before Fajr Prayer and tells him that he will be there to pick him in ten minutes. If people support each other in this manner attendance at mosques can be substantially improved.
Friday sermon should be listened to attentively but some people nod off during it and others fall asleep and flop on the person next to them. Then there are some who are hard of hearing, some cannot derive the meaning of what is being said and others are lost in their own thoughts. What impact can the sermon have on them! Reminding is needed for people like these for reminding certainly improves one’s capacities. In Islam all believers are enjoined to take others with them as they move onwards and upwards. This is not just the task of missionaries and office-holders. Those who live near mosques should try and draw attentions of neighbours to coming to the mosque attendance can improve this way. It is also the true spirit of Islamic brotherhood that we draw others’ attention to the obligations and take those who are weak with us while raising their level. Hadith relates that one who takes another toward something good is as worthy of reward as the person who does the good act.
Those of us who are active and agile in matters of faith should also make others active and agile. We should help others enhance their capacities and our own as well with the thought that we are not going to be stagnant. By facilitating good for others we will be attaining manifold good from God for ourselves and this would create a great change in the advancement of the Jama’at.
Two funeral Prayers in absentia were announced:
J Aani Sahiba of Syria who was living in Turkey. She passed away on 23 January at the age of 57
Habiba Sahiba of Mexico passed away on 19 January. She was over 100 years old and had accepted Ahmadiyyat in June 2014.
‘Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity…’ (2:287)