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Precedence to Faith: A key to successful marriage

By Hibbatul Mohsin, Additional Mohtamim Tarbiyyat MKA UK

In This Week with Huzoor broadcasted by MTA on 12 March, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba presided over Virtual Amila Meetings with Majlis Ansarullah Australia and Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya Nigeria. During the virtual meeting with Australia’s Majlis Ansarullah, an office-bearer asked a question to Huzooraba on the topic of marriage.

Huzooraba was asked about increasing domestic issues and marriages breaking up despite of active departments of Rishta Nata, Islahi committee, Umur e Amma and Tarbiyyat. Some of these issues end up resulting in divorces and hence the rate of divorces is increasing.

Huzooraba gave a very clear and comprehensive response to this question and provided guidance to the office-bearers. Huzooraba mentioned that this issue is not related only to Australia, but this is an issue faced by the whole world. Huzooraba highlighted that he has addressed these issues several times in his Friday Sermons and especially in addresses to Lajna Imaillah (Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association). Huzooraba highlighted that he has provided guidance previously to Khuddam (Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association) and Ansar (Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association).

Huzooraba mentioned that the main reason for an increase in many divorces is that materialism and worldliness has increased, whilst people’s level of patience and forbearance has become less. The fault lies on both sides, men and women. Huzooraba highlighted that though the couple take an oath to give precedence to faith over worldly matters, however, they do not heed to the saying of the Holy Prophetsa that when you seek matrimonial matches, faith should be given precedence over materialism, beauty and wealth.

The Holy Prophetsa said: Some people marry for beauty, others for rank, and others for wealth; but you should marry a good and pious woman.”

Huzooraba said that if people were to keep this in mind when getting in the matrimonial journey, there would be fewer problems and issues.

Huzooraba said: “The influence of materialism is also impacting our Ahmadi society”. The world around us is distancing from leading a simple life. There has been an exponential growth and surge in materialism due to the impact of social media as well, which results in people setting very high worldly expectations from one another.

Huzooraba addressed the allegation made against Islam about arranged marriages and that the breakdown of a marriage is due to an incompatible match, this is not correct. This is due to a general increase in the divorce rate in the world and hence it is reflected in Jama’at as well.

As per the Office of the National Statics of England and Wales, there has been an increase of 18.4% of divorces between couples between 2018 and 2019.
Whilst discussing the topic of divorces and highlighting the importance of moral training Huzooraba highlighted the importance of ensuring moral upbringing and giving precedence to faith. Such precedence results in a successful marriage and this has been witnessed time and again. Those who marry by giving precedence to worldly matters end up facing issues. Huzooraba mentioned that it is true that there are some cases where the girls or boys are treated unjustly. In some cases, girls get married to boys settled aboard (in reference to Pakistan and India) but the intention is to somehow travel abroad and then they break off their marriage.

Huzooraba reminded the respective office bearers to work together to focus on the moral training of their members. The office bearers should remind the members that despite pledging to give precedence to faith over worldly objectives, yet people break this pledge. There is a decline in patience and forbearance in men and women.

In the end, Huzooraba mentioned that the most important thing is to improve the atmosphere inside the homes and instil these principles in the homes. All marriages should be done by praying and supplicating to Allah and not in haste. If we try sincerely these issues can be eliminated.

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National Fasting Challenge

Whenever the month of Ramadan reappears, the concept of the Islamic fast raises several questions within the non-Muslim community. Muslims are often questioned as to why they take on such a demanding challenge. As Muslims, we are aware that fasting is not just the abstinence of food and water from dawn to dusk, but it is a form of worship to have your sins forgiven and to increase in spirituality.

However, the best way to understand the purpose of Ramadan is by taking part in it. Thus, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK (AMYA UK) conducted a National Fasting Challenge alongside the Surrey Police Force under the fasting collective initiative in order to educate and inspire non-Muslims about this blessed month. After being educated on the holy month of Ramadan in light of the verse: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.” (Holy Qur’an 2:184), members of the Surrey Police Force were given guidelines and tips on how to keep the fast.

On the 28th of April 2021, the National Fasting Challenge took place. 72 members of the Surrey Police Force volunteered to take part in this challenge to increase their knowledge and to experience first-hand the month of Ramadan. The whole day was planned out to help those taking part in every way possible. The virtual Suhoor was organised to start the fast, where the participants would join and were given tips and advice for the day which was ahead of them, and were reminded of what to do and what not to do. As Muslims use this month to better themselves in morals and character, this message was also conveyed to the volunteers to show that the Islamic fast is more than just refraining from food and drink.

It is no doubt that the volunteers would be getting hungry and thirsty as the day progressed. This allowed them to really think about what Muslims go through whenever the month of Ramadan comes around each year and to have a true insight on the Islamic fast. The volunteers were told to share their experiences during the fast on social media via the hashtag ‘#FastingCollective’.

AMYA UK had organised food parcel collections for all Fasting Collective Volunteers consisting of dates, chicken biryani and a traditional dessert. A virtual Iftaar was set up to reflect on the day, to share any thoughts and to discuss their experiences.

By the Grace of Allah, the National Fasting Challenge was a great success and was an eye-opening experience for our non-Muslim friends. It was a day of learning, reflection and inspiration. May Allah reward the efforts of all those who took part in this blessed challenge. Ameen.

 

Please find comments below

Lucy Parsons

Nearing the final few minutes of this fasting collective and reflecting on what a happy and supportive day this has been. A 3.30am alarm (a time only normally seen when I’m catching a flight!), some water, 1/2 a cuppa and some porridge. It feels like such a long time ago now and I don’t remember savouring those last bites either!

I wasn’t worried about not eating for the day – it was the thirst that preoccupied me. Normally I happily switch the tap on, letting it run cold, and then refill a bottle multiple times a day, all without much thought. Today I’ve found myself seeing a water bottle and automatically thinking “oh, I must fill that”, such is the engrained habit.

Instead I’ve had time to reflect on those habits; the automatic reach for a snack, the apple (ha… biscuit!) at 11. The pre-dinner munch. And tea. Glorious, wonderful, cups of tea!

I felt quite giddy with joy seeing people’s faces collecting their food parcels. Happy faces, all reflecting on their day and what it’s meant to them. Speaking to Labeed who dropped our food parcels off. The surprise on his face, even though it was partially covered by his mask, when he heard we were fasting too. His eyes creased with a huge smile, wanting to hear more, how we’d found the day. Grateful to see us joining our colleagues this way.

But it’s me who is grateful. The generosity of our  Muslim friends, colleagues and community. Kindly sharing their culture with me and us for the day. Looking forward to next year already.

 

James Ansell

A very different start to the day today – virtual Suhoor at 4am with colleagues. Hunger & thirst kicking in for sure however I’m doing my best to remain focussed & reflect!

 

Jack

Up at 2am, working from 4am Onwards! It is now 14:20pm, and I am quite thirsty after a busy shift. I have taken the time however to reflect on those whose thirst is quenched by their faith. Keep it up! Inspiring 🙂

 

John Davies

Food parcels kindly delivered by the Ahmadiyya Muslim association for all those taking part in Fasting collective. Thank you. I promise not to tuck in till I’m allowed… but very tempting!!

14hrs into fast. Only a couple of hours to go. This has really opened my eyes to what those partaking in Ramadan go through.  How do they maintain this for weeks?  Also made me realise how resilient the human body is.

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Prayers of Ramadan Should Continue Afterwards too

Translation of the final part of the Friday Sermon of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba) delivered on 7 May 2021 at Islamabad, Tilford.

Towards the end of today’s Friday Sermon, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba) discussed the importance of continuing prayers after Ramadan so that we can safeguard ourselves and children from the evils of today’s age. Huzoor (aba) stated:

“Now I wish to briefly direct everyone’s attention towards the fact that today is the final Friday of Ramadan. This should not be taken as merely the final Jummu’ah of Ramadan, rather this Jummu’ah should be one which discloses for us new paths for the future. Those matters towards which we have inclined in Ramadan and those acts of virtue which have been practiced during it, we ought to continue after Ramadan—rather even progress in them. Otherwise, it is pointless for us to pass through Ramadan if we do not continue virtue, [uphold] moral progress, and further expand in it.

In the previous Friday Sermon, I directed attention towards Durood and Istighfar [seeking forgiveness]. That is something that should not remain limited to Ramadan alone, that as soon as Ramadan passes we indulge in worldly affairs in a way that we forget prayers and Istighfar. This is why I specifically mentioned that [Durood and Istighfar] is something we should continue forever.

In this age, when the schemes of the Dajjal are using new means, where the majority of the world has been taken into their fold, sometimes our youth and children fall under their influence. In such situation we certainly need prayers for ourselves. May Allah the Almighty safeguard us from these satanic and evil attacks. Ameen.

By attaching our children to ourselves, by fostering a deep connection with them, by creating a special bond with them, we need to tell them about Allah the Almighty and the beautiful teachings of Islam. Then after instilling complete certainty into the hearts of children, attach them with God Almighty in such a way that no deed of theirs, no action, no endeavour, no thought goes against the will of God Almighty and His teachings. They should have an answer to every worldly thought and disorder. It should not be the case that they do not know the answers to some matters and are influenced by them [rather] they should possess the answers through which they can save themselves from disorder. This is the only way to correct the lives of our children and an assurance of their safety. And this is the proper manner to safeguard our progenies from all types of disorders. However, this cannot be achieved until we ourselves attain lofty standards in our faith, until we attain the standard which should be the hallmark of a believer. This shall be possible when our relationship with God Almighty is strong, our prayers and our worship is of a high degree and we properly understand why we have undertaken the Bai’at of the Promised Messiahas. This is a huge responsibility which falls upon us, that by strengthening our faith, making steadfast our actions, we become the means of saving our progenies.

The amount of promiscuity and vain and evil matters that exist today have only perhaps existed before us. These evils have reached every household through the TV and internet. Before there was danger outside the home, now there is danger even inside. If children are watching something on their own, it cannot be said as to what they are watching. There is much need for caution.

The progenies of the elders—or the pioneer Ahmadis, or the progenies of those Ahmadis who undertook the Bai’at themselves and became part of this Community, who have accepted the Imam of the age and in order to safeguard their faith were prepared to make every sacrifice, and indeed they did—should remember that only if we keep our faith above worldly affairs and we keep our moral conditions before us, can we save ourselves and our children. No family—irrespective of which family it is, whether it is the family of pious elders or their children—can guarantee that Allah the Almighty shall certainly continue to bless them or shall be pleased with them. It is the practice of every individual which is needed to gain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. It is our actions which shall save us. No relationship to anyone or family can save someone. It is for this reason that we should engage in prayers. We ought to keep a close eye on our religious shortcomings. We should pray for the spiritual progress of our children and progeny more than their worldly progress. We pray for worldly progress a lot, whereas we ought to be praying for spiritual progress much more. In the same way, those who have become Ahmadis themselves would also have to incline themselves and their thoughts onto this line of practice. It is only in such condition that we can survive and our children can survive too.

Thus, in the remaining days of Ramadan it is important to pray that may Allah the Almighty safeguard our faith and that of our children. May we spiritually progress. Even after Ramadan may the standards of our worship continue to increase. May we establish a firm relationship with God Almighty. May we be saved from falling to the plots and schemes of the Dajjal. Worldly comforts should not be our aim rather may Allah the Almighty bless us with those worldly and spiritual rewards which make us bow down before Him in a state of thankfulness and make us a complete worshipper.

I also want to direct attention towards the pandemic which has taken hold of the entire world, that in order to be saved from this a lot of prayers are needed.

In the same way pray for those Ahmadis in countries where there is a lot of persecution and the lives of Ahmadis have been made difficult, may Allah the Almighty create ease for them. The Ahmadis of Pakistan should especially focus on Sadqah and charity in these days and afterwards as well. Inshallah these prayers shall render all the attacks of the enemy useless.

 

These prayers should be regularly recited:

 

رَبِّ کُلُّ شَیْءٍ خَادِمُکَ رَبِّ فَاحْفَظْنِیْ وَا نْصُرْنِیْ وَ ارْحَمْنِیْ

[O my Lord! Everything is Thy servant. O my Lord! Protect me and help me and have mercy on me.]

اَللّٰھُمَّ اِنَّا نَجْعَلُکَ فِیْ نُحُوْرِھِمْ وَ نَعُوْذُ بِکَ مِنْ شُرُوْرِھِمْ

[O Allah! We make Thee a shield against the enemies and seek Thy refuge from their evils.]

It should also be remembered that mere prayers are not beneficial. People write to me asking what prayers should be recited, till we do not properly observe our Prayers [Salat] there is no benefit in reciting prayers from the tongue. The way in which Prayers are observed in Ramadan should also continue afterwards, it is only then that we can absorb the grace and succour of God Almighty in the proper manner.

In the same way, pray to be saved from every trial. May the remaining few days [of Ramadan] pass with success and may we continue the virtues we adopted. Also remember the more we expand the circle of our prayers the more we shall be blessed. That is why every Ahmadi should pray for the difficulties of other Ahmadis to be removed. In this way, in a subtle way, an atmosphere of brotherhood and good relationships will be adopted. There will of course be a spiritual benefit but also a practical one too that more love and harmony will be created.

Pray for the Muslim Ummah too. The direction in which it is heading and the after rejecting the prophet of the age the way it is ruining itself, may Allah the Almighty safeguard it.

Pray for humanity as a whole, may Allah cause it to walk on the right path and enable it to be saved from the displeasure of Allah. Our task is to pray and to continue to pray during Ramadan and after it too. May Allah the Almighty enable all to do this.”

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The Immigration Misconception

Late last year, in response to a journalist asking whether the economic fallout of COVID-19 could lead to military conflict, the head of Britain’s military said “Yes, I think we are living at a moment in time where the world is a very uncertain and anxious place”. The alarm bells were rung.  As this threat flickers and flares, we must remember that war affects us all. Conflict extends beyond the bombs, bullets and battlelines. Those displaced by violence and chaos will seek out a better life and a new home; as we meet the wearied faces of immigrants, migrants and refugees, we will be called to act.

But should our actions be of compassion or concern? As the world lurches towards further uncertainty, we must be ready with our answer.

Immigration has become a dirty word, muddied by racism and lazy xenophobia, yet it raises justified security concerns. From the Latin verb immigrare, meaning ‘to remove, go into, and move in’, the word immigrant captures the journey: removal from a homeland, entering into foreign land and eventually settling in. It’s the entering and settling that some people snarl and seethe at. People are quick to label those who do not support the welfare of migrants as right-wing or racist. However, there are a number of concerns that are legitimate:

 

The Economic Concerns

Why must the public’s hard-earned cash be put towards something other than themselves? Why must the taxpayer pay for the support and welfare of foreigners?

These are honest questions. At a time when our economic growth is blunted by record levels of unemployment and the general public is living in narrower margins of comfortability, concerns over where our money goes is rightly justified. Underlying this concern is the fear that opening-up our borders will dry us out. That those who come here for a better life will leech the social benefits we might offer, abuse the system, and leave very little for those that remain in need. Ultimately, the cost of welcoming immigrants will come at our own personal expense.

However, a 2018 report on the economic realities and social impact of migration found that “migrants consume fewer benefits and receive less from the public purse in comparison to natives in similar circumstances.” Non-refugee immigrants in Canada for example “use less unemployment benefits, social security and housing support than domestic residents, despite the employment rate for migrants being lower”.

But public money is still being spent. If there are more people dependent on welfare, there’s little left to go around, right? Well, no.

Professor Ian Goldin, lead author of the report, found that “If immigration had been frozen in 1990 […], the [UK] economy would be at least 9 per cent smaller than it is now. That is equivalent to a real loss in GDP of more than £175 billion over 15 years”.

This is least surprising when we consider that immigrants are twice as likely to start their own businesses than British-born individuals in the UK. It’s a similar story in the US, where 30% of businesses are founded by migrants, and 40% of Fortune 500 companies belong to immigrants. In other words, immigrants do generate wealth—they’re an economic strength, not a burden. They can be vectors of growth and prosperity.

This does not promise the goodwill of all immigrants however. It is therefore important for immigrants to be responsible citizens and aspire for self-sufficiency. In equal measure, host-nations should not prevent the paths to progress in society, and for their own economic benefit, encourage the professional development of immigrants. Thus, the lessons remain clear: there is economic value for all when opening up our borders.

But there is a growing disconnect between the positive economic impact and the increasing negative perceptions of immigration.

 

The Social Disconnect

The narrative surrounding immigrants strikes fear and mistrust. One example is the racialisation of child grooming gangs. Whether it was the controversial claim that 84% of grooming gang offenders were Asians, or Labour’s resigned shadow equalities minister writing that Britain “Has a problem with British Pakistani men raping white girls” — the media has been saturated with a negative view of foreigners and their actions towards society.

However, a new Home Office report published in December 2020 found that the link between Pakistani-heritage men and child abuse is untrue. The report states:

“Research has found that group-based child sexual exploitation offenders are most commonly white. Some studies suggest an overrepresentation of black and Asian offenders relative to the demographics of national populations. However, it is not possible to conclude that this is representative”

The idea that such depraved behaviour is a feature of Pakistani character, or of any ethnicity, is a modern racial myth — a dishonest representation and smearing of minority communities. Criminality does not belong to one ethnicity; it is not the result of culture or religion, but the moral collapse of human nature which we all share.

The distrust of immigrants is rooted in the idea that foreigners have certain values and aspects of culture that should be unwelcomed in any modern democratic society. Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said in the past that Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “centuries behind the West” and has a “fatal religious conservatism”. Such language presents Islam and Muslim migrants as a threat to civilised society.  It is unsurprising then that a 2016 poll found that nearly two thirds of Britons think Islam is incompatible with British values.

But we mustn’t be swayed by sensationalist rhetoric. It is vital to seek an honest understanding when assessing the people at our borders. Since the Muslim population in Europe could double by 2050, depending on migration, it is important to know their principles and beliefs when assessing their entry.

 

Islamic values: Who is the Muslim migrant?

In a fractious early Arab society, Islam provided a collective identity, defined not by tribal differences, but rather unified in the recognition of the responsibility Muslims had to create peace in society.

 

اِنَّمَا الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ اِخۡوَۃٌ فَاَصۡلِحُوۡا بَیۡنَ اَخَوَیۡکُمۡ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُرۡحَمُوۡنَ ۝

“Surely all believers are brothers. So make peace between brothers, and fear Allah, that mercy may be shown to you.” [Holy Qur’an, 49:11]

 

… وَ لَا یَجۡرِمَنَّکُمۡ شَنَاٰنُ قَوۡمٍ عَلٰۤی اَلَّا تَعۡدِلُوۡا  ؕ اِعۡدِلُوۡا ہُوَ اَقۡرَبُ لِلتَّقۡوٰی …

“… And let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness…” [Holy Qur’an, 5:9]

 

Far from stifling societal progress, Islam gives impetus to pluralism, anchored not just in sentiment but also in jurisdiction. After 13 years of viperous attacks and persecution, the Holy Prophetsa was given divine permission to migrate to Medina. Upon arrival, the Prophet of Islamsa drafted the Charter of Medina, a document establishing the law of the land and recognising the city as a multi-religious state. It bound all people—be they Muslims, Jews or pagans—as being equal citizens of the same city-state. It respected the religious sensibilities of all and established collective responsibility towards peace in a city that had been previously mired in tribal warfare.

The Holy Prophetsa was a Muslim migrant himself. He had entered a new society and established principles of cohesion and integration. These are the true teachings of Islam. Thus, a Muslim migrant who follows Islam sincerely, will carry the values of interfaith harmony, community and integration — in reverence to the Holy Prophetsa.

On the concept of charity, the Holy Prophetsa had advised Muslims that “the upper hand is better than the lower hand”. Meaning, giving charity is far better than taking it. This simple saying captures the essence of self-determination and dignity that Islam inspires in Muslims: to establish themselves in a position that betters those around them. Hence, the notion of Muslim migrants, entering this country, threatening societal peace, and being unmindful of others, is an imagination that goes against the teachings of Islam.

Unfortunately, these principles are not practised by some. In committing acts of violence and terror, those who claim to follow the teachings of Islam, do the most to subvert it. To protect society from extremism, terrorism, and radicalisation, security measures are justified. In a 2018 address at the annual convention in Germany, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad – Khalifatul-Masih Vaba said:

“If there is any doubt or suspicion raised about the character or backgrounds of certain immigrants, the authorities should be vigilant and monitor them until they are satisfied that they do not pose a risk to society. Some may consider this an intrusive policy, yet protecting society from danger and maintaining the peace and security of the nation are paramount objectives for any government.”

Commenting on the German government’s policy to make community service mandatory to asylum seekers, His Holinessaba said “It instils a belief that it is the duty of each person to serve their society and to help the members of the community. Accordingly, the German Government deserves praise rather than criticism for this policy.”

Thus, we shouldn’t shy away from justified policies that ensure integration of immigrants and the safety of society in general. Ultimately, the values of loyalty to one’s nation, respect for others, and the desire to contribute to society, is an expression of a Muslim’s faith. If governments wish to implement such measures, it should not be a cause of concern to any Muslim.

 

A Place to Call Home

Early this month, a high court ruling heard of the squalid and cramped conditions asylum seekers were placed in at the Napier army barracks in Kent during the pandemic. It was only after a fire broke out that the situation was brought to light. The asylum seekers spoke of the dire conditions: being left without electricity, heating and drinking water since the fire; sharing rooms with 14 other people, having food poisoning from eating raw food. It brings back thoughts of the Windrush scandal three years ago, where people were detained, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation — despite many of the immigrants having arrived in the UK before 1973.

In this country, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, are far too often met with hostility and banishment. Though we must remain vigilant against terrorism and other external threats, we don’t have to abandon a moral conscience to do so. Most are simply looking to escape violence, find a home and make a better future for themselves and the ones they love.

As the threat of war rattles on, we need to recognise our past failures to those who reach our shores. We need to understand that mass immigration and refugees is a direct consequence of our involvement in wars and supplying weapons. We need to recognise the work of immigrants and their value to society. Immigrant doctors, nurses and others in healthcare are especially risking their lives to heal this country back to health; if we trust them in moments of our own vulnerability, we should trust them in theirs.

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