Friday Sermon: Sharing the Word of God is the Way to Eminence

by Imam Arif Rahman

4 August 2023 (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore, Trinidad & Tobago)

I bear witness that none deserves to be served besides Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the servant and messenger of Allah.

After this, I seek the protection of Allah from the accursed devil.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Assalaamu Alaikum Peace be unto you,

فَاذۡکُرُوۡنِیۡۤ اَذۡکُرۡکُمۡ وَ اشۡکُرُوۡا لِیۡ وَ لَا تَکۡفُرُوۡنِ ﴿۱۵۲﴾٪

“Therefore glorify Me, I will make you eminent, and give thanks to Me and be not ungrateful to Me.” (The Holy Quran, 2:152)

There are many brief verses in the Holy Quran that, like this one, convey valuable life lessons. Anyone who reflects upon the Holy Quran appreciates this, and I am convinced it will ultimately capture the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. These short sentences are worth remembering and putting into practice by everyone, young and old.

فَاذۡکُرُوۡنِیۡۤ اَذۡکُرۡکُمۡ

“Therefore glorify Me, I will make you eminent,” (The Holy Quran, 2:152).

In these words, Allah the Most High is addressing His servants. As far as remembering God is concerned, it is commonly understood as simply the recital of His name. However, those who are well-versed in Arabic have written that, beyond simply reciting His name, remembering God means genuinely acknowledging His greatness and praising Him.

On the other hand, how does God remember His servants? It is indeed a very powerful statement that Allah, Who is

غَنِیٌّ عَنِ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ

“…above need of the worlds,” (The Holy Quran, 3:97),

remembers His servant. It is welcome news for anyone who has firm belief in Allah. Remembrance of Allah brings about such mercy from the Most Merciful that He remembers His servant, thus giving that servant distinction and eminence.

Every soul has a connection with God; this is referred to in the Quranic words:

فَاِذَا سَوَّیۡتُہٗ وَ نَفَخۡتُ فِیۡہِ مِنۡ رُّوۡحِیۡ

“So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit….” (The Holy Quran, 15:29)

It is for people to remember and praise Allah, Who is the

رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ

“…Lord of the worlds (Rabb-il-alameen)” (The Holy Quran, 1:1)

and beyond our imagination. Allah, in return, remembers us and gives us eminence. Our remembrance of Allah is reciprocated by Him.

This is for certain: the qualities of Allah that people ‘remember,’ or focus upon, are those that leave an impression upon their hearts. Remembrance and praise results in a light shining in one’s heart, reflecting that specific attribute of Allah. This is elsewhere described as the ‘coloring’ of Allah.

صِبۡغَۃَ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ مَنۡ اَحۡسَنُ مِنَ اللّٰہِ صِبۡغَۃً ۫ وَّ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ عٰبِدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۸﴾

“(We take) Allah’s color, and who is better than Allah at coloring, and we are His worshippers.” (The Holy Quran, 2:138)  

In other words, the morals of Allah are created within the human heart. When people glorify Allah’s purity, not merely through recitation but by offering heartfelt praise, Allah purifies them. What, after all, is the meaning of the Arabic words, Subhan Allah, that we use to glorify God? It is ‘Allah is free of all faults’. Having a genuine understanding of His being free of faults, and expressing this in our actions, results in this attribute of God filling and purifying our hearts. Similarly, when someone genuinely praises Allah, his heart is infused with this attribute and he becomes praiseworthy. When he expresses Allah’s greatness, it raises him to eminence.

These matters may seem hard to comprehend, but if we carefully study human history, we find this has been a re-occurring phenomenon across religions. No one is regarded more highly by the Jews than Moses; a Christian has the greatest respect for Jesus. What an elevated status that Allah, the Most High, has granted Jesus, that the entire Christian world regards him as the greatest personage in the world! Likewise, the heart of a Hindu is imbued with love for Ramchandra and Krishna, and no person among the Zoroastrians is considered greater than Zoroaster.

Who were these people? They were those who established the greatness of God among different nations, and God, in return, gave them eminence and made them revered in people’s hearts. The person who praised the greatness of Allah more than anyone else, the Holy Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] — how much eminence was given to him by God! He is revered by all Muslims; even if someone is very sinful, he still has such love for the Holy Prophet that he is ready to give his life for him. No other eminent personality commands the same level of honour and reverence.

Certainly one who praises the greatness of God is made eminent, but how does this occur? When a servant of God glorifies Him, that person’s inner light becomes brighter as the Light of God is cast upon it. The power of God, in Whose hands is the kingdom of the heavens and earth, enters into the heart of the servant who remembers Him.

Fundamentally, there are two kinds of people. On the one hand, there are those who only desire worldly power and wealth, and consider these the greatest achievement possible. Most people, including the majority of Muslims today, fall into this category. On the other hand, there are those for whom wealth, power and worldly titles are insignificant. Their sights are set on the higher goal of seeking closeness with God, and they do not perceive worldly concerns. Focused upon the attributes of God, all that belongs to the world becomes irrelevant to them.

History documents the clash between these two: one with worldly power and resources, the other a lone individual who lacks material resources and worldly grandeur. Despite the odds, time and again, the one standing alone prevails over the one who possesses power and fame. For example, Moses singlehandedly overcame the pomp and glory of the Pharaoh. This was not accomplished by the might of Moses, but rather, the power of God that came to him. When the power of God enters into the heart, no matter how frail and weak the human body, God gives it the strength and authority to overcome worldly powers. Another example is Jesus: all the powers of the land stood up against him and tried to eliminate him. In the end, they were all unsuccessful and he prevailed.

The most exceptional example of this phenomenon is the Prophet Muhammad, who communicated the greatness and magnitude of Allah to an unmatched extent. More than anyone, he fulfilled the first command given to him:

وَ رَبَّکَ فَکَبِّرۡ ۪﴿ۙ۳﴾

“And thy Lord do magnify.” (The Holy Quran, 74:3)

He faced tremendous difficulties and opposition in this process. All of Arabia sought to eliminate this lonely voice, but ultimately he prevailed. This proves that God’s Power is revealed through those who honor and obey Him.

There are two types of forces at work in the world. One is physical strength, which can be seen, and the other is spiritual strength, which cannot be observed. It is clear that we cannot transfer our physical strength to another person. If I am sick, another person is not capable of giving me his physical strength to cure me, even if he is my closest relative. Spiritual strength, however, can be transferred from one person to a multitude of others, and witnessing such spiritual transference is much more impactful than observing a display of physical power.

Look at the history of prophets and observe how their spiritual strength was transmitted to their followers. Moses passed on his spiritual strength to his followers and imbued them with the strength of his character. Similarly, Jesus inspired his companions with his spiritual strength. However, the strength of character that the Holy Prophet Muhammad inspired in his followers is unique. Through his excellent example, all his companions acquired his moral characteristics and shared his spiritual strength.

Those with an impure character tend to heap criticism upon others, and people like this raise all manner of critiques of the Holy Prophet’s character. If, however, we look at the Holy Prophet in light of historical facts, it is amazing to observe the spiritual strength he was able to generate among his followers. I will give you a minor example of this. Soldiers of a victorious army are usually extremely vicious and commit all kinds of atrocities. The soldiers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, however, possessed great spiritual strength. When Jerusalem was conquered and troops entered the city, the streets were lined with women of the local Christian population who had come out in their best to welcome the conquerors. Not a single Muslim soldier raised his eyes to admire their beauty. What inspired this strength of character in ordinary people? It was the example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, whose strength of character was unmatched.

Today’s Muslims do not study their own history; if they did, they would realize how profoundly the noble character of the Holy Prophet affects their actions. The transference of his spiritual strength was not confined to his contemporaneous companions, because they, in their turn, transmitted it to the next generation. Thus, strength of character is conveyed over time. Doubtless some weakness sets in as the decades pass, but this original strength still exists in Muslims.

The purpose of reformers coming at the beginning of every century is to generate such spiritual strength. Ordinary scholars of religion also correct mistakes. The reformer, however, has very potent spirituality and strength of character, and those who sit in his company are inspired by him. So, remember well, spiritual strength is very real, and we can observe its power as it is conveyed from one person to another.

There were people living who sat in the company of the reformer of the age and were influenced by his spiritual strength. He also transmitted his spiritual strength to others, and the greatest proof of this is how his message about spreading Islam and the Word of Allah was conveyed.

The following example demonstrates his singular focus on spirituality. He had a follower who loved him dearly, and who would massage his legs to relieve him of fatigue. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib also loved and cared for this man.

It so happened that this follower did not have a beard. One of the elders, who was very strict in the matter of keeping a beard, asked Hazrat Mirza why he was not instructing the beardless follower to grow one. To this he replied,

“You are worried about beards while my concern is their hearts.”

How full of wisdom are these words! He had come to reform hearts, and did not pay attention to minor things.

People who are involved in arguing about minor differences are incapable of reforming others’ hearts. Those given the task of reformation do not even have to say a word and their spiritual strength is conveyed to the ones who sit in their company. You can look at Hazrat Mirza’s poetry and prose to feel the great passion and love he had for Islam. Those who sat with him were thus inspired, and they directed all their efforts towards sharing the Word of Allah.

It is now a time of trial for us. How far can we convey the spiritual strength that we acquired from the reformer of the age? Remember well that the material resources that bring wealth and power are insignificant in comparison to the strength that comes by spreading the Word of Allah:

فَاذۡکُرُوۡنِیۡۤ اَذۡکُرۡکُمۡ وَ اشۡکُرُوۡا لِیۡ وَ لَا تَکۡفُرُوۡنِ ﴿۱۵۲﴾٪

“Therefore glorify Me, I will make you eminent, and give thanks to Me and be not ungrateful to Me.” (The Holy Quran, 2:152)

In my opinion, it is a great blessing that you are not immersed in the prevailing political climate. The race for power has resulted in the formation of alliances and parties based upon deception and falsehood. It is a blessing of God that your organization is safe from these poisonous influences. Count it as God’s Grace that you are disconnected with these happenings and busy spreading the Word of God.

The fact that those focused on worldly matters may, on the surface, seem to be rewarded, is not a matter of consolation. It is true that people may follow them, and that they have status, power and wealth. All of this, however, is limited to their worldly existence. The reward of those who praise the name of God cannot be matched by any worldly one; it is uninterrupted and continues in the Hereafter.

Do not think that what you are doing is for naught. In fact, you are sowing seeds that will one day grow and bear fruit. This is true whether one person or a whole organization is involved in the process.

Take to heart the truth of the Quranic words,

فَاذۡکُرُوۡنِیۡۤ اَذۡکُرۡکُمۡ

“Therefore glorify Me, I will make you eminent….” (The Holy Quran, 2:152).

Material strength and wealth is here one day and gone the next, but the reward of those who praise the name of God in the world, and their honour, lasts forever. I am asking you to make this brief sentence,

فَاذۡکُرُوۡنِیۡۤ اَذۡکُرۡکُمۡ

“Therefore glorify Me, I will make you eminent…” (The Holy Quran, 2:152),

part of the way you lead your daily lives. Hold it in your hearts. Remember that there is only one way to real eminence and that is by proclaiming the Word of Allah. It safeguards a person from all evil. This is the path your Imam [Spiritual Leader, i.e., Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] put you on. It is now at God’s discretion to keep you on it, such that His attraction for you is so strong that everything else becomes insignificant.

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

Baarakal-laahu lanaa wa lakum fil Qur’aa nil ‘azeem
Wa nafa ‘anaa, wa eeyaakum, bil aayaati wa zikril hakeem
In-nahoo ta ‘aalaa Jawaadun Kareemum, Malikum, Bar-rur-Ra’oofur-Raheem.