Ramadan – a Muslim month of fasting, sacrifice, prayers and self-purification

Who can understand the importance of food and water more than those who have ever passed through hunger, thirst or any kind of famine during their life time? The month of Ramadan is also an exercise for having such hard and difficult experiences. And these experiences, at one side provide opportunity to reform the spirituality and to increase in the love of God, on the other, they are also a time to understand the sufferings and problems of those who do not have sufficient food or water for their life; and to develop great feelings for the vulnerable and destitute people of this planet. Indeed, the Ramadan is a clear understanding of the two basic principles of Islam – rights of God and rights of people. 

It is obligatory for Muslims to fast one month every year in the month of Ramadan. The Holy Quran states: “O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed for you during a fixed number of days as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may safeguard yourselves against every kind of ill and become righteous.”

The true purpose of Ramadan, as of all forms of Islamic worship, is to draw people closer to Allah and closer to mankind. Though normal pursuits and occupations are carried on as usual, the emphasis on moral and spiritual values and concentration on them are intensified, and everything is subordinated to the main purpose. The hearing, the sight, the tongue, the mind are all under stricter control. For instance, not only vain talk, but much talk is also eschewed, so that there should be greater concentration on remembrance of Allah and reflection upon His attributes.

The Holy Quran elaborates more and says:

“The prescribed fasting is for a fixed number of days, but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty is an expiation — the feeding of a poor man. It is better if one performs a good deed with heart-felt pleasure and in obedience. If you possess knowledge, you would appreciate that fasting is better for you.”

According to one Hadith, the Holy Prophet saw said that in addition to one’s spiritual development, fasting is necessary for our physical health as well which is confirmed by today’s science and the physicians.

Therefore every Muslim should first keep this in mind that fasting has been prescribed for the sake of Taqwa and rigor is necessary to attain Taqwa. Sacrifice in the path of God is necessary for attaining His pleasure. We should take advantage of the exemptions that Allah the Exalted has granted us as a favor looking at our condition and inabilities but should not exceed the limits.

The Promised Messiah as, the Founder of Ahmadiyya Community said:

“The one, whose heart looks forward to Ramadan so he could fast, will not be deprived of the (blessings of) fast in the heaven if an ailment prevents him from fasting in Ramadan. There are many people in this world who are used to making excuses and think that they would be able to deceive God the way they deceive other people in the world. The ones who are accustomed to making excuses look for issues and add other tangential details to justify themselves, but they are not justified before God the Exalted. As far as the ancillary discussions are considered, they could go on forever. If one desires, one could offer salat in sitting position for his entire life and never keep fast, but God is aware of everyone’s intentions. God the Exalted knows the one who has a pure heart, and He rewards him more as He appreciates the heartfelt pain. The people who make excuses depend on self-concocted justifications but these explanations have no value before God the Exalted.”

“The Promised Messiah as further said, “When I fasted for six months, once a group of prophets met me (in a vision). They asked me why I had put myself through such hardship, and advised me to abandon it.” Promised Messiah as said, “So when man puts himself through hardship for the sake of God, He, very compassionately says like parents that why he has put himself through hardship.”  (Malfoozat, Volume 2, p.564, New Edition)

Fasting in Islam begins everywhere at the first appearance of dawn, and ends with sunset. During this period one is expected to abstain from all food and drink completely.

It is not just physical hunger and thirst that constitute the Muslim fast, but the nights prior to the beginning of the fast acquire a far more important character and play a central role in the institution of fasting. The Muslims wake up many hours before dawn for individual prayer and the remembrance of God.

Also the Holy Quran is recited in every Muslim house much more than in ordinary days. A greater part of the night is thus spent in spiritual exercises which make up the very essence of fasting. During the day, apart from restraining oneself from food and water, all Muslims are particularly exhorted to avoid vain talk, quarrels and fights, or any such occupation as is below the dignity of a true believer.

In Islam, alms-giving and care for the destitute is so highly emphasised that it becomes part of a Muslim’s daily life. However when it comes to Ramadan, the month of fasting, Muslims are required to redouble their efforts in this field. It is reported of the Holy Prophet that spending in the cause of the poor was a routine daily practice with him which has been likened unto a breeze, never ceasing to bring comfort and solace to the needy. However during Ramadan, the reporters of the Ahadith – the sayings of the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him) – remind us that the breeze seemed to pick up speed and began to blow like strong winds. Alms-giving and care for the destitute are so highly emphasised, that in no period during the year do Muslims engage in such philanthropic purposes as they do during the month of Ramadan.

The institution of fasting is extremely important because it cultivates the believer in almost every area of his spiritual life. Among other things, he learns through personal experience about what hunger, poverty, loneliness and discomfort mean to the less fortunate sections of society. Abstention from even such practices during the month of Ramadan as are permissible in everyday life plays a constructive role in refining the human character.

May Allah the Exalted help us to benefit the most from the blessings, bounties and favours of Ramadan, and may He forgive us all our sins and may He accept all our prayers. Ameen

 By: Laiq Ahmed Atif, President Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta:  amjmalta@gmail.com ; Photo: Google Images

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Fasting (is-Sawm)

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Fasting during the month of Ramadan

The FastingFasting during the month of Ramadan

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Ramadan plan 2017

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‘Our Teaching’ so said the Promised Messiah

Belief in God is the foremost essential condition of Ahmadiyya Movement

The Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, says:

“Relevant to a proper observance of my teaching, it is essential that one should firmly believe that there is an all-Powerful, all-Sustaining Supreme Being, the Creator of everything, Changeless, Everlasting and Eternal. He does not beget, nor was He begotten. He is Holy, so that there is no need or occasion for Him to go on the Cross, or suffer in any way, or be subject to death. He is such that being far removed, He is still very near; and being very near, He is still very far. Although He is One, and absolutely unique, His manifestations are diverse and multifarious. Whenever there occurs in man a new change, for the changed man He becomes a new God, dealing with him on the basis of a fresh manifestation, the man witnessing a change in God in proportion to the change in himself-not that there occurs any change in God, He being Eternal, Changeless and most Perfect in Himself; but with every change in man for the better, – God also reveals Himself to him in a fresh and clearer manifestation.

With every progressive effort on the part of man God also shows Himself with higher and more powerful manifestation. He displays an extraordinary manifestation of His power and glory only when man shows an extraordinary change in himself-this being the root and the bedrock basis of the marvels and miracles witnessed at the hands of all servants of God.

Belief in this God with these powers, is the foremost essential condition of our Movement. Inculcate this belief in your hearts, giving to its implications and requirements the first and top most priority over all considerations of self, over its comforts and relationships. By means of actions in the field of your daily life, with unflinching courage, show a steadfast loyalty in His way. Others in this world do not give Him preference over material means and the support they hope to get from their friends and relations. But do you give Him the first place, so that in heaven you should come to be reckoned His people.

To show signs of grace is the eternal way of God. But you can partake of this blessing only when there remains no difference and no distance between Him and you; only when all your wishes, hopes and desires merge into His will; only when, at all times, in success or failure, in hope or disappointment, you remain in humble prostration at His door, so that He should do with you what He will. If you act like this, in you would appear that God, Who for a long time has kept His face – concealed from the world.

Is there any among you, then, who would act upon this teaching, seeking only His pleasure, without the slightest sense of dissatisfaction against the way His will works? Even in distress you should put your best foot forward, for this is the secret of your success; and you should strive to the utmost of your power to spread the idea of His singleness and unity all over the earth.” (Kashti-e-Nooh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 19, pp. 10-11)

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Jihad and Terrorism

1. Living in Multicultural societies
2. Islamic Jihad and the treatment of non-Muslims
3. Jihad: A misunderstood concept and Islamic perspective on Terrorism

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Humanitarian calamity

Source/Credit: The Times of Malta, Saturday April 15, 2017.

There is nothing more desirable than peace, prosperity and happiness. War wreaks destruction and devastation and is the foundation of acrimony and animosity. Justice, dialogue and reconciliation is the antidote for wars and conflicts.

The Holy Quran repeatedly condemns war, declaring it a catastrophic fire: “Whenever they kindle a fire of war God extinguishes it. And they strive to create disorder in the earth and God loves not those who create disorder.”

The Syrian conflict now is in its seventh year. Every day was painful, difficult and miserable. However, the latest chemical attacks leave one stunned and speechless.

The horrific videos and gruesome pictures of children gasping for air in the last moments of their life have shocked every sane and sensible person.

To me, such attacks are against humanity and should be sufficient to shake our consciousness and make us stand up against such brutalities and barbarism.

How many more deaths does the world need to witness before robust efforts are made to secure peace and find a political solution for the Syrian people?

The international community and, particularly, the neighbouring Muslim countries should play a vital role in extinguishing this fire of hatred and stop vested interests and thirst for power, which have caused mass destruction and shattered and ruined the entire country.

Moreover, the world powers should not stand by any of the parties involved in this war but act as mediators to bring both parties around a table and engage them in dialogue to find a political and permanent solution.

In the Holy Quran, God says: “And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them; then, if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. Then, if it returns, make peace between them with equity, and act justly. Verily, Allah loves the just.”

This verse provides a most effective remedy to quarrels and to settling disputes between two parties.

The United Nations can play a crucial role because the country in question is included in its charter. The UN should insist on settling any differences and resolve the dispute through dialogue. It should act as a facilitator so both parties would set the terms for peace and reconciliation.

In case the government refutes any political solution, collective measures should be taken against it and collective efforts made to force it to end the war.

To start the process of ending this massacre of innocent people, including children, I believe that, first and foremost, the provision of weapons to both parties involved in the conflict must be halted.

The Holy Quran also calls for Taqwa (righteousness) in the hearts of both rulers and masses, so an agreement can be reached.

It says: “And help one another in righteousness and piety but help not one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah; surely, Allah is severe in punishment.”

Prophet Muhammad also drew the attention of rulers to their responsibilities. He said that the day when there is no shade other than the shade of God, He will grant shade to seven people and first among them will be a just and fair Imam. He also said that, on Judgement Day, the most beloved and the closest to God would be a just and fair ruler and the most disliked and most distant from God would be an unjust ruler.

He also said that Paradise would be forbidden to a person who is given charge over and responsibility for the people but is negligent. These commandments are matters for rulers to ponder over. If they wish to be God’s beloved they have to stop injustice. If they wish to make it to Paradise, then they have to work for the well-being of everyone without any discrimination.

When highlighting the democratic system of selecting leaders and running the business of State justly, the Holy Quran states: “Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them and that, when you judge between people, you judge with justice.”

In this verse, the right of authority has been called as trust. Hence, anyone who receives an opportunity to govern should understand that this is a trust, which has been endowed upon him by the people.

The concept of trust is further highlighted by the Prophet Muhammad; it is mentioned that, on appointing a companion as the Amir (leader) of a region he said: “You are a weak individual and rulership is a trust. On the day of judgement, rulership shall be the cause of humiliation and disgrace, except for such a person who completely fulfils its rights.”

May we absorb God’s mercy and do our utmost to establish peace and spread love and compassion.

May God protect the world from the horrors and destruction of war. 

May God bring peace in Syria.

amjmalta@gmail.com  Laiq Ahmed Atif is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta. Find original article in Times of Malta

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Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta organised annual Peace Symposium 2017

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Malta, in collaboration with KSU (university student council), held an exhibition about the Holy Quran and the annual Peace Symposium titled “Jihad & Terrorism” in the KSU Common Room, at the University of Malta, on 28th March 2017. Around 50 Roll-Up Banners with the teachings of the Holy Quran, on different subjects, were also exhibited.

In her welcoming speech Ms. Steph Dalli, President KSU, spoke about multiculturalism and diversity and said, “Diversity enriches our societies and communities, and provides ample opportunities of sharing and learning from each other. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, ‘Love for all, Hatred for none’ is very inspiring and indeed is the essence for achieving the milestone and shared objective which is peace.”

First Irish Imam Ibrahim Noonan – who was invited for the peace symposium – said that, “When I look at the Quranic teachings, I see no room for terrorism in Islam. The Holy Quran states, ‘This [Quran] is a perfect Book; there is no doubt in it; it is guidance for the righteous (2:3).’ The word Taqwa which is used in this verse means righteousness, God fearing, God-consciousness, piety, virtues and abstaining from evil. This word has been used through the Quran repeatedly advising Muslims to always act upon righteousness and abstain from evil. So, a true Muslim cannot be extremist or terrorist. My own teacher had told that just as fire and water cannot live together, so is it impossible for a true Muslim to be a terrorist.”

Laiq Ahmed Atif, President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Malta, explained the true meaning of Jihad and said, “The root of the Arabic word Jihad is Jahada meaning to struggle and to strive. Thus Jihad means to strive to the utmost for the achievement of a purpose and to leave nothing undone in acquirement of it. According to the Holy Prophet Muhammad – the founder of Islam, peace be on him, there are three main categories of Jihad.

First: The Jihad that is waged against oneself; to fight against egoism, false sense of pride, arrogance and mischief; and for the self-purification. In Islamic terminology it is called the Jihad-e-Akbar – meaning the greatest Jihad.

Second: The Jihad to preach the word of God through the Holy Quran and is called the Jihad-e-Kabeer, meaning the great Jihad.

Third: The Jihad that is waged against the enemy of freedom of conscious, and in self-defence. This is called the Jihad-e-Asghar – meaning the lesser Jihad.”

He concluded his speech with a quotation from a speech of His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, 5th Successor to the Promised Messiah, and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who said, “Our Jihad is not a Jihad of swords, guns or bombs. Our Jihad is not a Jihad of cruelty, brutality and injustice. Rather, our Jihad is of love, mercy and compassion. Our Jihad is of tolerance, justice and human sympathy. Our Jihad is to fulfil the rights of God Almighty and of His Creation.”

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