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The Independence of God

In order for God to manifest Himself, He requires His creation. Does this not contradict His attribute of Independence?

Allah. God. Lord of all the worlds. What does God’s name and His attributes signify? Do God’s attributes indicate that His Majesty is confined to our own realm of being? Or, perhaps that His Worship extends beyond the limits of existence as we know it? How can we say that God is Limitless when the Holy Qur’an specifically mentions one hundred and one attributes?

These are some of the questions upon which this article hopes to shed a slim ray of light for the benefit of our readers in response to the proposition that shapes our title, as well as to perhaps prompt a latent disposition for developing a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the Beloved.

The outline of the concept put forward by Islam concerning the relation between God’s attributes and His Being can be derived from the opening two verses of the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an.

بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ
“In the name of Allah, the Most-Gracious, Ever-Merciful.” [1:1]

Here, in the first verse, the Arabic word used for “name” is ism. In fact, ‘name’ is a loose translation of the Arabic. Ism draws on two fundamental sources, which in Arabic are wasm and samud. Wasm connotes a mark or a label, so name in relation to wasm derives an arbitrary nature, for example, ilāh in Arabic is used for any concept of a god or gods, but the proper noun by which God refers to Himself in the Holy Qur’an is Allah. This is the personal name of God, the closest English translation of which is ‘God’. Samud however, derives a meaningful nature and connotes height. This accounts for the qualities attributed to one’s name, hence, we recognise God’s attributes as His names. Accordingly, when Allah is used in view of this understanding of ism, we recognise His personal name as well as all of His qualities which are described in the Holy Qur’an and also observed by human beings. For this reason, to a Muslim, the name Allah brings with it an immense feeling of love.

Reflecting on the title of this article, the question is proposed with consideration to the Islamic concept of the operation of God’s attributes in their totality, essentially putting forward the question: if God’s attributes as described in the Holy Qur’an, are the means through which He is meant to be recognised, how then could He exercise His Godliness (i.e. be God) without His creation? This question takes root in a misunderstanding of the concomitance of God’s attributes. Islam holds that God’s Perfection is demonstrated by the harmonious operation of His attributes, and directs our focus, for example, to the first four attributes mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, which are appreciated as encompassing the essence of them all.

Both the Bible and Holy Qur’an talk about man being made in God’s likeness or His image. Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Khalifatul-Masih IVrh, on numerous occasions, has explained that the only appropriate understanding of this is that the human psyche is the best reference for reaching an understanding of God, but that this is the extent of our reach on this matter. The way that a piece of art, while it cannot be recognised as being wholly equal to the artist himself, is infused with their impression. In light of this, when we examine how the Holy Qur’an proposes that one fulfils the purpose of their existence, we learn that it is to imitate God by nurturing and practising His known attributes so far as is within our capacity. The Promised Messiahas in The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, dedicates some fifty-five pages to explaining that moral values being exercised on their proper occasions is the path to becoming a godly person. This can only point to the understanding that God’s perfection is not in exhibiting all of His attributes concurrently for each and every cause, rather that each attribute at the time of their operation, is manifested perfectly.

The misunderstanding demonstrated by the question at hand, however, indicates that God must always be exercising all of His attributes simultaneously. This is dismissible as a useless and superficial understanding of God. For example, it would be impossible to reconcile the idea that God may exact vengeance on any creation of His whilst also granting forgiveness for the same cause. To take on this perspective would be to completely undermine the principle attributes of God recognised across all worldviews, for example His Justice and Wisdom. One of these is encompassed in the second verse of the Holy Qur’an:

اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ
“All Praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds,” [1:2]

Rabbul-‘Alamin, which is rendered into English as “Lord of all the worlds”, in its true essence means the Developer of all spheres of existence. With the claim that God has the power and freedom to create universes beyond the one to which we belong, it would be entirely inconsistent to limit God’s attributes to those which are applicable to our existence or are perceptible to our limited faculties. If one recognises that those spheres of existence subsumes the minuteness of atoms, whose complexity is likened to a universe in and of itself, why can they not then also extend beyond the farthest reaches of existence as we know it? In the Holy Qur’an, God is described as being the Incomprehensible, or the Subtle, pointing to the Power and Will of God beyond detection by human senses or consciousness.

With this in mind, it is important to point out that the beginning of mankind’s capacity for, and guidance towards, the recognition of God does not signify the beginning of His existence. This would be like claiming that atomic particles were non-existent before 1897, simply because men did not possess adequate instrumentation or understanding for acknowledging them before that time.

The Holy Qur’an was bestowed on mankind to teach the fullest means by which man may meet his Creator through the use of the faculties granted to him in this life. Therefore, it must be in this light that the attributes of God presented therewith, are to be appreciated. In fact, God Almighty unmistakably tells us in the Holy Qur’an that the reality of His attributes far outreaches human conception. He states:

قُلۡ لَّوۡ کَانَ الۡبَحۡرُ مِدَادًا لِّکَلِمٰتِ رَبِّیۡ لَنَفِدَ الۡبَحۡرُ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ تَنۡفَدَ کَلِمٰتُ رَبِّیۡ وَ لَوۡ جِئۡنَا بِمِثۡلِہٖ مَدَدًا
“Say, ‘If the ocean became ink for the words of my Lord, surely, the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord came to an end, even though We brought the like thereof as further help.’” [18:110]

 

So, what can we take away from all of this? For one, the Holy Qur’an reveals one hundred and one attributes of God in relation to the human capacity to understand them. The verse quoted makes it clear, however, that there are more. Many more. This takes us back to the word ism. When used in the context of Allah, it indicates a mark or loftiness. Undeniably, there is no other being to whom this can be applied so truthfully or comprehensively. Secondly, it is incoherent to hold both beliefs, that God is the Lord of all the worlds but that this is the only world to have ever existed, as this would rely on upholding the application of some attributes of God at the cost of others. Therefore, this could in no way be a position held in view of God’s attributes being in perfect agreement, as they are so incontrovertibly described to be in the Holy Qur’an and demonstrably manifested in every aspect of being. Hence, there is no reason to believe that God, as understood in Islam, is reliant on His creation as the means of His Sovereignty or Being.

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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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Precedence to Faith: A key to successful marriage

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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