God’s help for the believers, and how they should deal with opponents
Friday Khutba by Dr Zahid Aziz, for Lahore Ahmadiyya UK, 19 August 2022
“Then We deliver Our messengers (i.e., save them from their enemies) and those who believe — even so (now); it is binding on Us to deliver the believers.” — 10:103
ثُمَّ نُنَجِّیۡ رُسُلَنَا وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کَذٰلِکَ ۚ حَقًّا عَلَیۡنَا نُنۡجِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۳﴾٪
“We certainly help Our messengers, and those who believe, in this world’s life and on the day (of Judgment) when the witnesses arise —” 40:51
اِنَّا لَنَنۡصُرُ رُسُلَنَا وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا وَ یَوۡمَ یَقُوۡمُ الۡاَشۡہَادُ ﴿ۙ۵۱﴾
In these verses God has promised to save and help not only His messengers but also the followers of those messengers. The first verse begins by mentioning the messengers and their followers, that God will save them from their enemies, but then it repeats this promise for their followers and emphasises most strongly that it is a law binding upon God. This is to remove all doubt, in case people think that God only helps His messengers against their enemies and this help does not extend to their followers. Before this verse 103, this chapter 10 relates how God delivered Noah and Moses from their enemies. So this verse says ka-dhālika, meaning “like that” or “even now”, to indicate that this eternal promise from God was not only for the past, but continues to apply now in case of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his followers. The second verse mentions help from God for His messengers and their followers in this world and the Hereafter. These verses are relevant to the topic, which I dealt with in last week’s khutba, about the righteous figures in the history of Islam including Imam Husain. God helped them just as He helped the Messenger whom they believed in. These righteous ones of the Muslims, even though they appeared to fail against their enemies during their lifetimes, were later on highly honoured in this world.
In my last khutba, I quoted from an announcement published by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in which he reprimanded certain followers of his for making disrespectful comments about Hazrat Imam Husain. It seems that one or more of his followers were having an argument with some Shias, who raised some accusations against Hazrat Mirza sahib. The followers of Hazrat Mirza sahib responded by attacking Imam Husain. When Hazrat Mirza sahib was informed of this, he was outraged by the remarks of his followers and he declared:
“Imam Husain … was perfectly pure, and is without doubt one of those eminent persons whom God purifies by His own hand, and fills with His love, and no doubt he is one of the leaders of the dwellers of paradise. … The righteousness, love of God, patience, steadfastness, piety and worship of God which this Imam displayed is an excellent example for us.”
In the extract which I read out last week, he said at the end of it: “The person who denigrates Husain or any other righteous figure among the past elders of Islam, or speaks a disrespectful comment about him, wastes his faith because Allah the Glorious becomes the enemy of that person who is an enemy of Allah’s righteous and beloved ones.”
After this point in his announcement, he mentions the opposition to himself. He tells his followers: “If an opponent abuses and curses me, if you in return speak disrespectfully about some righteous figure who is beloved of God [whom the opponent honours and reveres], it is a great sin. In such situations it is better for you to ignore the abuse and to pray for the foolish opponent.” He says that the opponents regard him as an imposter and false while he claims to be from God. There is no need to prolong this controversy, says he. If I am false, then God will punish me in this world and the Hereafter in the way that he deals with liars and imposters. But he adds that God has promised to help him with great force, even though the world does not accept him. He says that as God has given him this promise, no person from his followers should go to the lengths of making unjustified accusations against the past holy figures who are revered by his opponents, as if he is taking into his own hands the fulfilling of God’s promise and is using any means for its fulfilment.
There is a more general lesson in this. God is the Protector and Helper of His Messengers and delivers them into safety from their enemies. It is wrong and unjustified for any Muslim to think that he can protect the Messengers of God from their critics by taking violent action against them, the type of action which is actually forbidden by Islam and is also against the law of the land. Such Muslims are in effect trying to take the place of God and think that they can bring about the fulfilment of His promises sooner than God Himself can.
Hazrat Mirza sahib goes on to urge his followers to be gentle in dealing with his opponents, to pray for them, to repent from their own sins and to behave with humility. He writes:
“God is not any community’s relative. If you call yourselves His community but do not follow the path of righteousness and purity, and have no fear of God or humbleness before Him, then rest assured that God will destroy you before He destroys your opponents. This is because your eyes were opened but still you went to sleep (he means that this is unlike the opponents, whose eyes never opened). Do not think that God needs you in any way. If you do not act upon His commands, and honour the limits He has set, He will destroy you and bring another people who will act on His commands.”
In other words, there are no chosen people of God whom He supports unconditionally and makes them successful regardless of what they do.
He then mentions the main difference he has with other Muslims as regards belief. He says that the purpose of his coming is not just to establish the fact that Jesus is dead, and not still alive in heaven.
“The real purpose of my coming is that Muslims may be set firm on the teaching that God is One, that they may develop a connection with God, and all their prayers and other acts of worship are done with delight and joy, and with the feeling that they are in the presence of God, and that they are cleansed inwardly.”
As regards the difference in beliefs, he writes:
“If the opponents applied their understanding, they would realise that there is no great difference between me and them in terms of belief. For example, they say that Jesus was taken up to heaven alive in bodily form. I believe the same, as God says to Jesus in the verse in the Quran: “I will cause you to die and raise you to Myself” (3:55). No doubt, Jesus, after dying, was raised to heaven in his body, but the difference is that I believe that that body was not his physical body, but a spiritual body made of light. Jesus was given this body by God just as a similar body was given to Adam, Abraham, David, John the Baptist (Yahya) and our Holy Prophet and all other prophets.”
What Hazrat Mirza sahib is telling his opponents is that just as you believe that every other prophet, after his death, was raised up to God in his illuminated spirit and soul, I believe the same about Jesus. You say Jesus went up to heaven in bodily form. I can say the same, if by bodily form we mean the spiritual body granted to prophets.
Then he says that, just like you, we also believe that Jesus will come into the world again. The difference is that we believe that his coming is in the form of someone who is like him spiritually and in his nature. This is the ancient law of God, that when there is a prophecy that someone will come again into the world for a second time, it never means that the original person will return, but that a different person will come who has a close resemblance to the original person in terms of the kind of reform work that he is going to do among people. Then Hazrat Mirza sahib writes:
“Just think about it. To raise such an uproar against me, because of a small difference (qalīl ikhtilāf) in beliefs, is very far from being an act of righteousness.”
He has made it clear here that his purpose is not to dispute and fight with other Muslims on grounds of differences of belief. He is showing that those differences can be considered as small if you look at it in a certain way. His purpose is to reform the Muslims so that their faith in the oneness of God becomes more perfect, their worship of God and their good deeds do not remain mere rituals but are performed with heart-felt attraction and enthusiasm, and they are cleansed of bad practices and behaviour.
Sects in religions argue and dispute with one another over points of belief. Each sect distinguishes itself from others by its differences with them. Hazrat Mirza sahib did not create a sect of this kind in Islam. Otherwise, why is he presenting his differences with other Muslims as being minimal? The real difference he is trying to create between his followers and others is that his followers should serve God with greater love, devotion and passion in their hearts.
The critics of Hazrat Mirza sahib allege that in the early days of his mission he was conciliatory towards other Muslims and presented a toned-down version of his claim about his own status, and that later on he became hostile towards other Muslims and inflated his own status. The announcement that I have been quoting from is dated October 1905. This was about two and a half years before his death. After this announcement, less than three months later, he published his Will with guidance and instructions on how the Movement should be run after his death. So this announcement was written very much in the later period of his mission. In it, he has warned his followers against indulging in petty sectarian squabbling with other Muslims, and he has advised them that, instead of this, they should show by their behaviour that they are better Muslims due to following the picture of Islam preached by the founder of their Movement.
So may Allah enable us to act on such wonderful and sublime teachings. — Ameen.