Sunday, November 26, 2017

'LIQA': Man's Quest for the True Beloved

Personal Relationship between man and God

Someone, once, asked the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh): When would the Day of Judgement be? The Holy Prophet (pbuh) responded by asking the person what had he done in preparation for it?

That was indeed an affectionate reply with deep meaning. One should be more concerned in preparing oneself for it rather than wondering when it would be. Everyone will have to appear before God (Allah). At that time what preparation would you have made in this world to meet God? What is meant is that one should also establish communion with Allah in this world by developing a personal spiritual relationship with Him. It is not a momentary contact with God like a temporary meeting with a friend. It is a continuous and permanent relationship with Allah. The state of personal relationship with God involves continuous and progressive connection with Him. There is no turning back. 

Once the Musleh Ma’ud and Khalifatul Massih II, Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad (ra) was asked by a cynical philosopher: What would be his opinion of a man who reached his destination in a boat and then continued to sit in it? 

He replied that if the ocean had an end it would be foolish to remain sitting in the boat, but if it had no end then whoever got off the boat would drown. It would be ruinous to turn away from God after finding Him. If one develops a progressive and spiritual relationship with God one would witness its manifestation in the next life. In the life to come one’s relationship with God is likely to be illumined thousands of times brighter and that will be the reward of a living relationship with Allah in this life. It would seem as if one is standing before Allah but, despite that, the relationship with God which a common man has, pales in comparison with the level of that achieved by the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh).

Whatever capacity God has created in man, He enabled the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to reach its maximum limit. It was, however, not the limit of God but rather the beginning. Allah is an infinite Being. However saintly or pious a philosopher may be, the wonder of Allah is beyond imagination. Many things can be imagined without experience but there are also many things which cannot be known without experience. It is possible to have a personal experience of God according to one’s capacity anywhere and in all directions. It requires deeper reflection. The meaning of God being everywhere is that wheresoever’s one may look and however much one may think, the existence and presence of God is apparent.

Liqa is a state of personal relationship with God, with a feeling of completeness and full understanding enjoyed by the worshipper with God and vice-versa. It should be remembered that between ordinary humans it is not so easy to establish an enduring relationship. People often remain strangers after meeting one another. Some people cannot recognize others due to defective eyesight. They pass their lives among people without being able to see them. Sometimes one thinks one knows people well but it is only during the passage of time that their good and bad points become clear to you. Wives often do not know their husbands and vice versa. Many wives suffer while rendering devoted service to their husbands who, they feel, are oblivious of their good qualities. Those who do not develop finer feelings and good tastes and who are harsh would not experience God even during the holy month of Ramadan although they fast. There is no chance of enjoying spiritual experience with God unless one makes a change for the better in oneself. One should endeavour to find and experience God. 

In the beginning contact would be on a lower level which would, however, arouse a desire for deeper contact and divine experience. The early stages of divine recognition are superficial as they are acquired by intelligent reasoning and deduction only from the signs and wonders in the universe. God says in the Holy Quran: In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed signs for people of understanding. (Al-Imran, 3: 191).

Certainly there are divine signs in the alternation of day and night and in the changing of seasons; but they are discerned only by the intelligent who, seeing them in operation, remember Allah. They not only remember God during prescribed prayers but also at all times and under all circumstances. This practice flows naturally like running water with no strain or struggle. It becomes a natural habit. One should accustom oneself to see the work and attributes of Allah in one’s surroundings whereby remembrance of Him would grow. There is also the inner study of oneself because by becoming aware of one’s soul one finds God. In this connection there are many kinds of studies. One is the study of the human body. The more the body is studied the more wonderful discoveries are made about it. One can see a glimpse of God in every particle of it.

Have you ever understood the functioning of the human body and thought over what they actually are? Is the consciousness of the ‘I’ the result of physics or chemistry? What is the ‘I’? Why should one suffer pain? These are questions which need to be answered. I would answer by asking what physical law causes one to feel unhappy at receiving a look of anger, or pleasure at receiving a loving look. If one begins to reflect on one’s inner self one will see the wondrous hand of God at work. How did the eyes evolve? God has given us something better than the perfect camera. All of their parts were created together and not separately. It is not possible that first the retina be made without any purpose followed by the lens and then the controlling muscles which would render the lens useless if they stopped functioning. One is unable to see when the muscles weaken from age. On reflection one is forced to admit that there must be an external Creator as one cannot be one’s own creator.

Everything cannot come into existence accidentally without creative intelligence. The deeper one reflects on evolution the more one realizes that nothing came into existence by itself but behind it all was a Super Intelligence, such intelligence which surpass our own limited intelligence.

One can have some realization of the existence of God with the use of one’s physical eyes by witnessing His signs. The universe reveals the omnipresence of God at all times. After understanding the subject of personal communion and relationship with God the first step towards it is to develop within oneself an awareness of Him. One should develop finer tastes within oneself so that one may experience the presence of God. God has endowed man with spiritual insight. God is an Intelligent Living Reality and is the Source of all life and intelligence.

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has explained that Liqa is a state of having a personal spiritual relationship with God. When a person moves towards God then He moves towards that person; if a person walks toward God, He runs toward that person. Only that person finds God who moves fast. As long as one is not aware of the presence of God one cannot enjoy a personal relationship with Him. It would only be a philosophical relationship. The Promised Messiah Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) has said that one may come to realize the existence of God through intelligence but without revelation one cannot enjoy full light. Had materialists intelligently observed the universal signs of God they would not have asserted that God is dead! They even say that He might have existed but no longer does now (God Forbid).

The next step towards establishing a relationship with God is to adorn one’s inner house with virtues and moral values which requires constant attention for progressive advancement. Superficial beauty is not sufficient. Love must be deep. One should adorn oneself with love for God even as a poor bride adorns herself according to her circumstances. Everybody, according to their ability can spiritually adorn themselves which would result in God’s affectionate attention falling upon them. Even in the early stages of spiritual development God manifests Himself. God, therefore, blesses everyone who endeavours to develop a personal relationship with Him. With the manifestation of God further reformation continues.

If one does not experience divine enjoyment one is unable to advance spiritually and is liable to slip back and become indifferent to righteous living. In order to move closer to God it is essential that one should possess the desire to become more and more purified. Therefore, one’s personal conduct towards wives, husbands, children, relatives, friends and everybody should be proper. Disrespectful informality is a deadly poison. It destroys friendships. We read in the Holy Quran:

Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are unyielding against the disbelievers but tender among themselves. (Al-Fath 48: 30).

This verse refers to firmness against disbelief. One needs to make a conscious effort in reminding one another that we, the Muslims of the Divine Manifestation, of the true Islam, Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam should pay special attention to good conduct all year round, and double and even treble our efforts in every Ramadan of our lives.

All should pray that they may develop a permanent relationship with God and purify their hearts. There is an absolute need to pay attention to self purification which will enable one to witness the presence and mercy of God. It is possible that one might slack in one’s efforts but after one has attained a certain standard then there should be no slacking. If one perseveres after slipping from time to time one will eventually reach one’s objective. One should continue one’s spiritual struggle, even it is bitter and seems like a heavy burden, but one should persevere, persisting in accomplishing those very bitter acts (such as Salat, Zikrullah, reciting Darood Shareef, reading the Holy Quran etc.) for after some time the bitterness shall fade away to leave way to pure spiritual sweetness, the sweetness of faith.

Therefore perseverance in the acts of worship while putting one’s trust in the Unique and Supreme God (Allah) and relying upon Him to cure one from one’s evil tendencies, then Allah, the All-Hearing, is never deaf to the call of His sincere servants, those who have sinned against their souls but who are repentant enough to want to change into a new leaf (to reform themselves) and to accede to Allah, to be among His beloved servants. Indeed Allah loves those who repent and make amends for their past sins and reform their lives to reflect true Islam, true Iman and become fully Muslim, inside and out - This is what all members of the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam should strive to do. You are not perfect, you may have committed mistakes and sins in the past, yet Allah has chosen you and has opened the door of faith and forgiveness in this era by sending His chosen Teacher to teach you the way to take to reach Him safe and sound, safe and praising Allah in gladness. Those who take the righteous path after misguidance and persevere in true faith, Allah shall elevate them to high ranks (mainly spiritual), be it in this world and the hereafter.

May Allah grant the members of the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam a true understanding of the meaning of Liqa and may God grant you all a lasting and permanent relationship with Him. The more you attain a closer relationship with God the quicker will the community (i.e. Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam - ISLAM) be able to affect a spiritual revolution throughout the world. May Allah give us the power to do so! Ameen.

-- Friday Sermon of 24 November 2017(05 Rabi'ul Awwal 1439 AH) delivered by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.