Friday Sermon: Servants of the Beneficent

by Majeed Ali

13 April 1990 (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore, UK)

Narrated by: Dr. M Saeed (The text of the sermon below was read out at the Friday sermon dated 9th June 2023)

تَبٰرَکَ الَّذِیۡ جَعَلَ فِی السَّمَآءِ بُرُوۡجًا وَّ جَعَلَ فِیۡہَا سِرٰجًا وَّ قَمَرًا مُّنِیۡرًا ﴿۶۱﴾ وَ ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ جَعَلَ الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ خِلۡفَۃً لِّمَنۡ اَرَادَ اَنۡ یَّذَّکَّرَ اَوۡ اَرَادَ شُکُوۡرًا ﴿۶۲﴾ وَ عِبَادُ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الَّذِیۡنَ یَمۡشُوۡنَ عَلَی الۡاَرۡضِ ہَوۡنًا وَّ اِذَا خَاطَبَہُمُ الۡجٰہِلُوۡنَ قَالُوۡا سَلٰمًا ﴿۶۳﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَبِیۡتُوۡنَ لِرَبِّہِمۡ سُجَّدًا وَّ قِیَامًا ﴿۶۴﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ رَبَّنَا اصۡرِفۡ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَہَنَّمَ ٭ۖ اِنَّ عَذَابَہَا کَانَ غَرَامًا ﴿٭ۖ۶۵﴾ اِنَّہَا سَآءَتۡ مُسۡتَقَرًّا وَّ مُقَامًا ﴿۶۶﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَاۤ اَنۡفَقُوۡا لَمۡ یُسۡرِفُوۡا وَ لَمۡ یَقۡتُرُوۡا وَ کَانَ بَیۡنَ ذٰلِکَ قَوَامًا ﴿۶۷﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَدۡعُوۡنَ مَعَ اللّٰہِ اِلٰـہًا اٰخَرَ وَ لَا یَقۡتُلُوۡنَ النَّفۡسَ الَّتِیۡ حَرَّمَ اللّٰہُ اِلَّا بِالۡحَقِّ وَ لَا یَزۡنُوۡنَ ۚ وَ مَنۡ یَّفۡعَلۡ ذٰلِکَ یَلۡقَ اَثَامًا ﴿ۙ۶۸﴾ یُّضٰعَفۡ لَہُ الۡعَذَابُ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ وَ یَخۡلُدۡ فِیۡہٖ مُہَانًا ﴿٭ۖ۶۹﴾ اِلَّا مَنۡ تَابَ وَ اٰمَنَ وَ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَاُولٰٓئِکَ یُبَدِّلُ اللّٰہُ سَیِّاٰتِہِمۡ حَسَنٰتٍ ؕ وَ کَانَ اللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرًا رَّحِیۡمًا ﴿۷۰﴾ وَ مَنۡ تَابَ وَ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَاِنَّہٗ یَتُوۡبُ اِلَی اللّٰہِ مَتَابًا ﴿۷۱﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَشۡہَدُوۡنَ الزُّوۡرَ ۙ وَ اِذَا مَرُّوۡا بِاللَّغۡوِ مَرُّوۡا کِرَامًا ﴿۷۲﴾  … فَقَدۡ کَذَّبۡتُمۡ فَسَوۡفَ یَکُوۡنُ لِزَامًا ﴿٪۷۷﴾

“Blessed is He Who made the stars in the heavens and made therein a sun and a moon giving light! And He it is Who made the night and the day to follow each other, for him who desires to be mindful or desires to be thankful. And the servants of the Beneficent are they who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, Peace! And they who pass the night prostrating themselves before their Lord and standing. And they who say: Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of hell; surely its punishment is a lasting evil: It is surely an evil abode and resting-place! And they who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly, and the just mean is ever between these. And they who do not call upon another god with Allah, nor slay the soul which Allah has forbidden, except in the cause of justice, nor commit fornication; and he who does this shall meet a penalty of sin — The punishment will be doubled to him on the day of Resurrection, and he will abide in it in humiliation — except him who repents and believes and does good deeds; for such Allah changes their evil deeds to good ones. And Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. And whoever repents and does good, he surely turns to Allah a (goodly) turning. And they who witness no falsehood, and when they pass by what is vain, they pass by nobly. … Now indeed you have rejected, so the punishment will come.” (The Holy Quran, 25:61–72, 77)

تَبٰرَکَ الَّذِیۡ جَعَلَ فِی السَّمَآءِ بُرُوۡجًا وَّ جَعَلَ فِیۡہَا سِرٰجًا وَّ قَمَرًا مُّنِیۡرًا ﴿۶۱﴾

“Blessed is He Who made the stars in the heavens and made therein a sun and a moon giving light!” (The Holy Quran, 25:61)

The first verse invites man’s attention to the creation and existence ofstars, a sun, and a moon in the heavens. The sun has been termed as a lamp in the Holy Quran in Chapter 71 [“… and made the sun a lamp” (71:16)]. Every light-giving object is called siraj or a lamp. The second heavenly object spoken of in this verse is the moon. The moon in itself is not a light-giving object; it borrows its light from the sun. Then come the stars, twinkling in the skies.

The Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] has likened his Companions to stars from whom guidance can be had in the hours of darkness.

In this verse, the Holy Prophet has been given the name sun because his light was quite a distinct light from all other prophets, guiding the entire mankind for all times to come. He has also been spoken of as a moon because he got his light from Allah. His light was the light of Allah.

The sun not only gives light, it also gives life to plants and other vegetation, and injects sweetness into the fruits. The Arabs, who were ignorant, uncultured, barbarous, of abominable character and obnoxious habits were totally changed and converted by the Holy Prophet into torchbearers of learning; were highly cultured and civilised. Their love for wine and vices was replaced by burning love for their Lord. Barbarity was replaced by affection for fellow beings; nay, even for animals and every other living being.

Sunbathing is a common practice in Europe for health. But whoever basked under the spiritual sun (the Holy Prophet Muhammad) felt in him a spiritual change unknown to him before. It is not an empty claim. It could be tested by any person himself.

The Reformer of the fourteenth century Hijrah [Islamic Era] — Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian — says in a Persian verse:

اگر خواہی دلیلے عاشقش باش
محمدؐ ہست برہانِ محمدؐ

“If you need an argument, be his passionate lover,
“Because Muhammad is personally a proof for himself.”

[Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian; Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, p. 649]

وَ ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ جَعَلَ الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ خِلۡفَۃً لِّمَنۡ اَرَادَ اَنۡ یَّذَّکَّرَ اَوۡ اَرَادَ شُکُوۡرًا ﴿۶۲﴾

“And He it is Who made the night and the day to follow each other, for him who desires to be mindful or desires to be thankful.” (The Holy Quran, 25:62)

The second verse speaks of the phenomenon of night and day that follow each other. Their significance as shown here is that night offers an opportunity to man to be mindful — mindful of reciting the Reminder (the Holy Quran) in his prayers.

The Holy Prophet and his Companions used to get up after midnight for prayer, and extensively recited the Quran committed to memory. And the day brings for them an opportunity to be thankful.

In Quranic terminology, the word شُکر (shukr) or thankfulness, does not carry the meaning of gratitude only. The proper use of the faculties granted to man by nature in earning his livelihood and to serve mankind in any possible way is also shukr (thankfulness).

It may be noted that of the five prayers, three are offered at night: Fajr (morning prayer) is offered before sunrise; Maghrib, immediately after sunset; and Isha, when darkness becomes thick. And the Tahajjud prayer time comes when the night is also virtually asleep.

وَ عِبَادُ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الَّذِیۡنَ یَمۡشُوۡنَ عَلَی الۡاَرۡضِ ہَوۡنًا وَّ اِذَا خَاطَبَہُمُ الۡجٰہِلُوۡنَ قَالُوۡا سَلٰمًا ﴿۶۳﴾

“And the servants of the Beneficent are they who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, Peace!” (The Holy Quran, 25:63)

Then God mentions two of the qualities which manifest themselves in the persons of those who care to be benefitted by the light of Muhammad. The first quality is that they walk on earth in humility: they display no boastfulness; they are not stiff-necked.

If you want to judge the character of a man, place him in authority and he will tell you what kind of a man he is. But the servant of the Beneficent will continue to remain beneficent under all circumstances, and when he comes across or has to deal with the foolish, illiterate and ignorant, he remains peaceful even under provocation, and departs saying,

“I wish peace for you and peace for me.”

God has bracketed together those who are boastful and those who are foolish, illiterate and ignorant. Both belong to the same category.

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَبِیۡتُوۡنَ لِرَبِّہِمۡ سُجَّدًا وَّ قِیَامًا ﴿۶۴﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ رَبَّنَا اصۡرِفۡ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَہَنَّمَ ٭ۖ اِنَّ عَذَابَہَا کَانَ غَرَامًا ﴿٭ۖ۶۵﴾ اِنَّہَا سَآءَتۡ مُسۡتَقَرًّا وَّ مُقَامًا ﴿۶۶﴾

“And they who pass the night prostrating themselves before their Lord and standing. And they who say: Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of hell; surely its punishment is a lasting evil: It is surely an evil abode and resting-place!” (The Holy Quran, 25:64–66)

After that, the Quran mentions a class of people who have actually been transformed by the Holy Prophet. One of the signs of the change in them is that they pass the night prostrating themselves before their Lord, and standing. This refers to the Tahajjad prayer, a prayer offered in the thickness of the night, away from thesight of the people, in utmost secrecy. The supplicant opens the door of his heart, washes and cleanses it with his tears so that his Creator, Who is all Holy, enters into it. When the man finds his Beloved seated, the secret talks begin, face to face, between the Most High and the most humble. All veils are lifted.

من تو شدم تو من شدی
من تن شدم تو جاں شدی

تا کس نہ گوید بعد ازیں
من دیگرم تو دیگری

“I am you and you are me;
I am the body and you are the soul.

No one should now say,
I am one thing and you are another.” [Amir Khusro]

The words uttered by the supplicant in that state are heard and do not go in vain. Those who are very high and sensitive to the spiritual experiences hear the reply, if given. Those who have not attained that degree or status also feel a [sense of] satisfaction. I call it unuttered words — a silent reply. But it is a reply that embalms the bleeding wounds of the heart.

The people who go to bed at midnight or later are deprived of this audience with the Mightiest of the mighties.

Half of Ramadan has passed. We should be careful to see that the opportunity afforded to us by God to start a special relationship with Him through fast and prayer is not lost on one pretext or the other. No one of us knows whether he will be spared to find another Ramadan. What is most important is the prayer — a five-time audience with the Most High.

I have read about a Companion of the Holy Prophet who offered prayers in extreme humility, sobbing all the five times. When asked about the cause of it, he said:

“When I stand up for prayer, I consider it to be the last prayer of my life because I do not know whether I will be alive till the next prayer.”

The special relationship between man and God is the essence of a religion. If it is established, no other relation is worth having. If not, no other relation, however strong, can be of any avail either in this life or in the life to come.

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَاۤ اَنۡفَقُوۡا لَمۡ یُسۡرِفُوۡا وَ لَمۡ یَقۡتُرُوۡا وَ کَانَ بَیۡنَ ذٰلِکَ قَوَامًا ﴿۶۷﴾

“And they who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly, and the just mean is ever between these.” (The Holy Quran, 25:67)

Islam is unique in moulding human lives by reforming and converting social laws into moral laws, and then treating morality as the basis of spiritual progress. Prayer alone is not enough for spiritual elevation, unless accompanied by service to humanity. Islam’s aim is to create a society that shares the sorrows and afflictions of the fellow being. A needy one should not remain deprived of his necessities for long periods. That is possible only when everyone or most of us have means to help others to alleviate their suffering. The Quran therefore enjoins that when you spend for yourselves, do not be extravagant so that when the time for spending comes you are not emptyhanded. Similarly, be not parsimonious on occasions when frugality is harmful.

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَدۡعُوۡنَ مَعَ اللّٰہِ اِلٰـہًا اٰخَرَ وَ لَا یَقۡتُلُوۡنَ النَّفۡسَ الَّتِیۡ حَرَّمَ اللّٰہُ اِلَّا بِالۡحَقِّ وَ لَا یَزۡنُوۡنَ ۚ وَ مَنۡ یَّفۡعَلۡ ذٰلِکَ یَلۡقَ اَثَامًا ﴿ۙ۶۸﴾ یُّضٰعَفۡ لَہُ الۡعَذَابُ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ وَ یَخۡلُدۡ فِیۡہٖ مُہَانًا ﴿٭ۖ۶۹﴾

“And they who do not call upon another god with Allah, nor slay the soul which Allah has forbidden, except in the cause of justice, nor commit fornication; and he who does this shall meet a penalty of sin — The punishment will be doubled to him on the day of Resurrec­tion, and he will abide in it in humiliation —” (The Holy Quran, 25:68–69)

Two social evils have been here mentioned to be guarded against. One is the killing of a human being except where exigencies of justice demand; the second is fornication. He who does this shall meet a requital of sin; the chastisement will be doubled to him on the day of Resurrection.

اِلَّا مَنۡ تَابَ وَ اٰمَنَ وَ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَاُولٰٓئِکَ یُبَدِّلُ اللّٰہُ سَیِّاٰتِہِمۡ حَسَنٰتٍ ؕ وَ کَانَ اللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرًا رَّحِیۡمًا ﴿۷۰﴾ وَ مَنۡ تَابَ وَ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَاِنَّہٗ یَتُوۡبُ اِلَی اللّٰہِ مَتَابًا ﴿۷۱﴾

“except him who repents and believes and does good deeds; for such Allah changes their evil deeds to good ones. And Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. And whoever repents and does good, he surely turns to Allah a (goodly) turning.” (The Holy Quran, 25:70–71)

But God is very Merciful. He says they who repent and believe and do good deeds, for them Allah changes their evil deeds to good ones. And Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. God is keen upon forgiving them on one pretext or the other.

Among the servants of the Beneficent are those

“who witness no falsehood, and when they pass by what is vain, they pass by nobly” (The Holy Quran, 25:72).

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَشۡہَدُوۡنَ الزُّوۡرَ ۙ وَ اِذَا مَرُّوۡا بِاللَّغۡوِ مَرُّوۡا کِرَامًا ﴿۷۲﴾

In other words, they not only keep away from falsehood, but remain far above everything that is vain and futile.

Untruths, falsehoods, and lies have done so great harm to mankind that if some historian takes up his pen to write down the effects of wrong stories and lies set afloat on national or international levels, the world will be astonished to know that many wars that caused havoc on our planet emanated from false propaganda.

Some commentators of the Holy Quran say that a liar is a polytheist, in that instead of considering God to be his Supporter, he believes lies to be his supporters and trustees.

Falsehoods cause mischief, and mischief is worse than slaughter.

I finish this khutbah [sermon] with a few quotations from the Holy Prophet:

1. The greatest of sins are:

  • Setting up partners with Allah.
  • Disobedience to parents.
  • False talk.

2. Beware of falsehood because:

  • Falsehood leads to transgression.
  • Transgression leads to fire.

3. The Holy Prophet considered flattery as a part of falsehood, and said:

“Wherever you see the flatterers, throw dust in their faces.”

May Allah protect us from every wrong deed that causes us to drift away from Him.

بَارَکَ اللّٰهُ لَنَا وَلَکُمْ فِي الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِیْم،  وَنَفَعَنَا وَاِیَّاکُمْ بِالْآیَاتِ وَالذِّکْرِ الْحَکِیْم۔ اِنَّہٗ تَعَالیٰ جَوَادٌ کَرِیْمٌ مَلِکٌ بَرَّ رَوُوفُ رَّحَیْمٌ۔

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