Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hijab: Affirming Women's Dignity

In many Western nations with Muslim minorities these days, prejudice and suspicion against the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of the Muslims are openly out on display. The 'Hijab' (-a form of dress covering the head and the entire body worn by Muslim women, in its various manifestations in diverse cultural traditions- burqa, niqab, chador, abaya, etc.) – has been made into a volatile political issue, with many in host societies dubbing the veil to represent Muslim women in stereotypical terms.

Islamic teachings on social etiquette and dressing promote decency and propriety, recognizing the need for modesty, privacy and dignity of individuals, especially women. The Islamic rules on lowering of gaze by both men and women, concealing nakedness and not sexualizing one’s appearance, etc. seek to achieve modesty and public chastity. The Qur’anic guidance on ‘Hijab’ can thus be seen as a significant part of a profound framework on ‘garment of piety/raiment of righteousness’ for all believers, men and women (7:27).  

The teachings on ‘Hijab’ seek to liberate women from the male gaze while allowing them to remain socially engaged as active participants with integrity, agency and God consciousness. In our unfortunate era where male weakness and proclivity for sexual lasciviousness is actively promoted through commodification of culture and the consequent objectification of women’s bodies, ‘Hijab’ stands for the anti-thesis of the consumer capitalism and atheistic materialism on offer, pointing to the stark contrast between competing visions of ‘freedom’ in Islam and the 'post-truth' societies. 

Extracted below is a Speech delivered by Ummul Mu’mineen Sadr Saheba Hazrat Fazli Amena Varsally on the value of Hijab, delivered at the Siraj Makin Conference in Mauritius in August 2016. 

Referring to the ongoing, manufactured controversy over the right of Muslim women to wear what they want, Hazrat Saheba points out that the Islamic dressing norms are rooted in modesty and chastity, and that the ethical framework is shared by all religions of the past. The irony of Christian nations ignoring and insulting the dressing choice of Virgin Mary is highlighted. 

Hazrat Ummul Mu'mineen calls our attention to a latent challenge that lies hidden behind the controversies surrounding the right to wear Hijab in our times: the very identity of Muslim women is under threat of being reconfigured in the western conceptions of freedom and women’s rights. She argues that it is ultimately for Muslim women themselves to assert their human right to fundamental freedoms of choice in dressing up in Hijab so as to profess and practice and propagate the beliefs and convictions they deeply care for.  

Read the Speech below:

'Hijab' in a milieu of anti-Muslim prejudices

Today, we see that the Hijab (veil) of the Muslim woman has become a menace for people who view Islam as a religion of terrorism. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Remembering our beloved Imam

PROMISED MESSIAH DAY

As you very well know, the 23rd day of March commemorates for all Ahmadi Muslims worldwide an exceptional day in the history of mankind when a devout and highly spiritual soul, i.e. the Promised Messiah Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) took from his companions the oath of allegiance. This major event happened in the year 1889 after the Promised Messiah (as) had received repeated revelations from Allah to do so.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (as) thus founded Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam and went on throughout his life on earth to devote his time and energy to calling people to Allah and to share with them all the blessed revelations he used to received from Allah.

THE FAMILY BACKGROUND OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH (AS)

The Promised Messiah (as) Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) belonged to the well-known Persian clan by the name of Barlas. In the year 1530 A.D., one of his ancestors, Mirza Hadi Baig migrated from his hometown Samarkand (in the province of Khurasan in the present day Uzbekistan) to India, along with two hundred of his companions that included his relatives and staff. He was a noble man and a scholar and a saintly figure. India was then under the rule of the Mogul emperor Babar.

Mirza Hadi Baig was granted a large extent of land by the emperor and he thus selected an unpopulated area thereof, some seventy miles northeast of Lahore, to settled down with his clan. He founded the town which he named Islampur and became its overall Chief and Qazi (Islamic Magistrate). With the passage of time, the name Islampur went through a series of changes and came to be called Islampur Qadi, and then Qadi, and finally it became known as Qadian, it's  present day appellation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

'Al Ahzab', Verses 42-49: A Commentary

O you who believe, remember Allah with much remembrance, And exalt Him morning and afternoon. It is He who confers blessing upon you, and His angels (also) that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light. And ever is He, to the believers, Merciful. Their greeting the Day they meet Him will be, "Peace." And He has prepared for them a noble reward. O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a Witness and a Bringer of good tidings and a Warner. And one who invites to Allah, by His permission, and an illuminating Lamp. And give good tidings to the believers that they will have from Allah great bounty. And do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites; Disregard their noxious talk and rely upon Allah. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. (Al-Ahzab 33: 42-49).

The Prophet as “Shahidan”: Witness for the people

Just before these Quranic verses, there is the mention of Khatam-an-Nabiyyin and these verses are verily linked with the subject of Khatam-an-Nabiyyin. As the Holy Prophet (pbuh) came for the entire universe, thus, he is a Witness for one and all. And this has been proved in the other verses of the Quran also, that Muhammad (pbuh) is a Witness for all the other prophets. Therefore, “Shahidan” means that 'We have sent you as a witness for all people, be it from the past, the present and the future also. You are a witness over all the past prophets and also the prophets who shall come in the future also. You are also a Warner for all of them', which means that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was to be a witness for the people who came before him and those who would come after him. Now, how can the Holy Prophet (pbuh) become a witness for the people whom he had not directly encountered/ met? This verily means that he (pbuh) shall become like a measure to test/ try the faith and deeds of the others.

It is the testimonial of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) which shall determine if the deed is good or not. He shall also act as a measure to test the works of the other prophets, be them past prophets and those of the future also. And now you can see how this verse is linked with the verse which mentions 'Khâtim'. Khâtim means someone who attests and he makes that particular attestation through a testimonial. If it is a good testimonial, then, through a seal, this becomes all the more a great proof that the attestation is grand and viable. Therefore, Khâtim means a measure which can deliver this testimonial for all past people, and those of the present and future also.

It is verily the example of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) which is used as a means to judge the stages and stations and actions of the past, present and future prophets. Through the words and instructions of the prophets, all these are used as measurements to determine if those prophets are deserving of forgiveness or punishment.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Poem: 'Divine Love'


Divine Love builds up faith,
Even when you are lost and frightened
 it gives you the necessary strength to pursue your goal,
It cures the hardened heart and brightens it with patience,
It brings the essence of unity to a state of devotion,

Divine Love gives true pursuers of truth the true essence of belonging,
It rejects the very stamina of hatred
and pierced the heart with the beauty of forgiveness,
The love devine the treasure of the heart,
When it puts forward its very life as sweet sacrifice
in the path of its Lord and Master,

Nothing is as compared to this true devotion,
Not when the heavens has brought forward this secret as the secret of destiny,
Those who want to achieve this precious station have sacrificed their all for this very cause,

The Lord knows no hatred; He knows only Love,
His Divine Love is in every one of you,
Cherish the gift of the heart which He has made sacred,
Love is devotion; devotion to your Lord;
devotion to your family and devotion to all the people living on the land of the Lord,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spiritual Progress in the Spring of Renewal

'March' and the Spring of Renewal

Every March, we remember: the beautiful beginnings of the spring of renewal in the faith of Islam in our times. The Divine Manifestation in Mauritius in the humble person of our beloved Imam Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) has had its modest and sublime beginnings in the month of March, in the year 2000. 

With the advent of a Divinely-raised soul as an exemplar of faith to guide and lead people in the path of true spirituality on the Highway to Lord Almighty, the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam was established after years of patience and trials in the year 2008, in Mauritius at a time when the country was celebrating its national liberation from the bondage of foreign occupation and colonial exploitation, Alhamdulillah, Soumma Alhamdulillah.

 Just as a people celebrate their national freedom, the advent of a Divine Elect is an occasion of celebration for the people of God. After all, a Divine Elect appears to liberate the people from the slavish bondage of moral decadence and mindless practices that keep them away from their Lord. In his Friday Sermon of March 10, 2017 Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) summarizes for us the distilled spiritual wisdom on how to liberate ourselves from the slavish bondage of a mundane existence and to gain spiritual freedom and progress in the personal fortunes of the human soul. Just as in secular life one attaches value to one's material engagements, so should one need to learn and appreciate the profound space of spirituality in our ultimate destiny both in this fleeting world and the lasting Hereafter.

Developing a liking and keen interest for Deen, and following that up with the practice of the Deen in our every day settings and surroundings, is an important condition precedent for making spiritual progress. Further, for cultivating the love and connection with Allah (swt), one needs to attach oneself with a spiritually-evolved and illumined soul, even as one should also aspire and strive to keep away from all wrongful influences and satanic impulses. 

Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) notes that the great spiritual goal of attaining nearness to God cannot be achieved except through striving to be a Muttaqi- someone who is mindful of God and the Divine commandments at all moments and contingencies of life. For a Muttaqi who strives to obtain freedom from the synthetic pleasures of this world by attaching the soul to the commandments of his/her Lord, Allah (swt) has kept hidden behind the veils of future many delights both in this life and the Hereafter. As Hadhrat Saheb (atba) notes: "All that a person seeks in this world through his efforts, he can acquire it in an effective way by being Muttaqi (being a person who has the fear of Allah). For, verily, Allah has promised a very pleasant life to him who practices His Deen. He has given him the assurance that He will solve his problems and give him everything he needs in unexpected ways".  

Read the Friday Sermon below: 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

'Muhabbah': The Love that Inspires

Muhabbah

A believer must have love (Muhabbah) for Allah and a connection with Him. The Muhabbah (love) or an admiration for someone makes you do everything for the person you admire. The Muhabbah does everything that seems difficult, easy. And as a result, the unthinkable becomes feasible. As a person loves something, he makes efforts to acquire it. If he really likes this thing, then he does not care about time or money. He arrives at a point where he forgets everything. He finds nothing around him (Nothing really matters for him except for the loved one). Only one thing exists for him: it is the thing (or person) that he loves and admires.

See a young man of today who has just reached his 18th birthday. (When he loves), he loves to such an extent that it becomes unbearable for him to live without the person loved. Without hesitation he leaves the family roof to live with the object of his love/ affection. He leaves his family, his mother, his dad, his brother, his sister, his comfort and even his Deen (religion - Islam) only for the cause of the loved one. He does all this with contentment and joy. If we (Muslims) had this same (kind of) Muhabbah for Allah, then we would never find the Deen (religion - Islam) difficult (to practice). We would have suffered all with joy and contentment only for the love we have for our Rab (Lord - Allah).

The practice of the Deen would then become not only easy but also delicious. The example of the pious personages is before us. They have not hesitated to give up whatever it is that becomes an obstacle for them in their quest of Allah the Almighty. Hazrat Ibrahim (as) has abandoned his kingdom in order to reach Allah the Almighty and to acquire His love (literally: to acquire Allah). If someone can sacrifice his honour, his dignity, his status for a corpse that will die and who is condemned to become dust one day, then why can man (the human race) not  give up everything for Allah Who is Al-Hayy, Al-Qayyoum - Who has existed for all time and whose existence will never stop (that is, His existence has neither beginning nor end). Allah is the One who watches us all the time. He is a Being who is there for us all the time, giving us everything we need.