Kalima-e-Shahadah, The Declaration of Islamic Faith

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by Ayesha Mahmood Malik, Surrey

 Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?[1]

These words are a nostalgic poetic rendering of the deeper subtleties of the soul that manifest themselves as the spiritual challenges that man must overcome before he may reach that exalted station wherefrom a spring of spiritual blessings flow. The epitome of this spiritual station was the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) – who descended into this world when humankind’s spiritual cup had run dry, and the barren fields of man’s soul craved the water of true salvation. A spiritual draught of alarming magnitude had enveloped Arabian lands, such that an uncanny darkness prevailed over everything. Man was akin to a barbaric existence, with all propensities for morality and spirituality having been buried.

Perhaps the gravest of sins plaguing mankind in the pre-Muhammadan period was the ritual of idol worship and polytheism that had rendered the notion of the Unity of God as something fanciful or illusory. To profess in those pre-Islamic times that God was one and had no partner was analogous to blasphemy or even apostasy of the modern day. It was considered to be sacrilegious if not a complete renouncement of one’s faith. Thus, it was within this polytheist fabric of Arabian society that Muhammad (saw) the Servant and Messenger of Allah was sent to light the world with the spirit of Tauhid (Oneness of God) and God’s final teachings in the form of the Holy Quran.

Juxtaposed against this backdrop of spiritual annihilation and moral impotency, the significance of the words of the Kalima-e-Shahadah, which read, I bear witness that (there is) no god except Allah; One is He, no partner hath He, and I bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is His Servant and Messenger are profound and powerful. They epitomise the spiritual awakening and rebirth of mankind at the hand of God’s chosen one, the Seal of the Prophets (saw). Writing in his treatise, “Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya”, the Promised Messiah (as) succinctly portrays the advent of the Holy Prophet (saw) in the following words,

“…the age in which the Holy Prophet (sa) appeared stood in dire need of a great heavenly reformer and spiritual guide, and that the teachings he brought were certainly true and met all the needs of the time and encompassed all the requirements of the age. So effective and forceful was his teaching that thousands were drawn towards the truth, and the words [There is none worthy of worship but Allah] were engraved upon their hearts. The ultimate purpose of Prophethood – which is to impart teachings that lead to salvation – was accomplished to perfection [by the Holy Prophet (sa)][2].”

Therefore, to espouse upon the worshippers of idols and false deities of those times that their beliefs were inherently misguided and held no rational basis was a grievous calumny. It followed that the challenger of what he declared as the mother of all evils – idolatry – was to present himself as the greatest benefit to mankind, reinstating the providence of One God over His creation. Thus, it was also natural that this torchbearer of God Almighty would exhibit the most perfect qualities of truth and wisdom, such that man’s journey on earth would be forever transformed into a struggle to emulate this archetype of virtue. The Holy Quran itself testifies to having rejuvenated the earth with Divine Guidance and Wisdom at the hands of the Holy Prophet (saw), God states,

“And Allah has sent down water from the sky, and has quickened therewith the earth after its death. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who would hear[3].”

 The Promised Messiah (as), writing in his seminal work, “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam,” explains that God Almighty calls to witness the laws of nature to testify for the hidden law of Divine Revelation. In a beautiful narrative, the Promised Messiah (as) expounds that just as the vegetation on earth cannot survive without rain, human reason, which is akin to earthly water, cannot survive without the heavenly water of Divine Revelation[4]. God says in the Quran and the Promised Messiah (as) explains,

“We call to witness the heaven that sends down rain and the earth that sprouts diverse types of vegetation with the help of such rain, that the Quran is God’s word and His revelation, and that it decides between truth and falsehood and is not vain talk, that is to say, it has not been revealed out of time and has come like seasonable rain.[5]

Thus, since six hundred years had passed since the time of Jesus (as) and the advent of the Holy Prophet (saw), earthly water had become corrupted and dried up[6]. The Holy Prophet (saw) brought with him the heavenly water of Divine Revelation that was to provide sustenance to the earthly water of human reason such that with his coming the teachings of the Lord Almighty would be rendered complete for all times to come.

Therefore, just as God calls to witness the obvious law of nature for the hidden law that governs Divine Revelation[7], the pledge of oath taken at the recitation of the Kalima-e-Shahadah is a manifestation of the oath-taker being called to witness the Unity of God and the Holy Prophet (saw) as His Servant and Messenger. The word “shahādah” is a noun derived from the verb “shahada”, which means, “He observed, witnessed, or testified[8].” Within a legal context, the term “shahādah” connotes testifying to the occurrence of certain events such as debt, adultery or divorce[9]. Testifying in a court of law thereby entails validating the proof of claims being submitted as evidence during trial. The word of the witness who renders such testimony must conform to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. It follows, then that when a Muslim bears witness to Muhammad (saw) as Allah’s Servant and Messenger, the requirements of truth and sincerity need to fulfill the most stringent criteria since man is being called to witness God’s word.

The Kalima-e-Shahadah is then a profoundly symbolic testimony to the truth of the Unity of God and of his greatest and final law-bearing Prophet, Muhammad (saw). The recitation of the Kalima-e-Shahadah is thereby a powerful oath to the truth of the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (saw) and a powerful pledge of allegiance to live one’s life in full conformity with them. In this latter sense, this testimony is unique, for not only Muslims are called to witness the truth of its claims but commands that they must surrender their lives with utmost sincerity to the Word of God and His Messenger. Thus, as we recite these words as Ahmadi Muslims, we must remain cognizant of the spiritual significance of this oath and pledge. As the Promised Messiah (as) illuminatingly writes:

Muhammad is the most magnificent imprint of the divine light;

None like him can ever be born on the face of the earth.

God sent him and spread the truth;

A new life was breathed into the earth by the advent of that leader.

He is a flourishing and productive tree of the garden of purity and perfection,

And all his progeny are like red roses[10].

Thus, we as roses of the Holy Prophet (saw’s) legacy must strive to discharge the burden of this example of pristine spirituality and war with our souls to crush its thorns. Our recitations of the Kalima-e-Shahadah must be an embodiment of this struggle such that we, too, may drink from that holy fountain that many go in search for, but only few find.

 

[1] Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet Collection,” Axiom Publishing (2001), p.46

[2] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya,” Islam International Publications Ltd., (2012), pp. 131-6

[3] Al Quran, Chapter 16, Verse 66

[4] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam,” Islam International Publications Ltd., (1996), p. 120

[5] Al Quran, Chapter 86, Verses 12-15 as explained in “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam,” Islam International Publications Ltd., p.186

[6] See supra note 4

[7] See supra note 4, at p. 121

[8] See, generally, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahada#cite_note-3

[9] The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Cyril hi tom Alta Mira Press, (2001), p.416, cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahada#cite_note-NewEncycle-1

[10] See supra note 2, at p. 103

What is the true significance of Easter?

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Navida Sayed, Hounslow, UK

For many devout Christians, the real focus of Easter is about the physical resurrection of Jesus, which is a most crucial facet of the Christian faith. However, Easter has become so heavily commercialised these days you won’t miss seeing bunnies, bonnets and chocolates eggs everywhere. The emphasis around Easter is on the array of vibrant coloured eggs and flowers, which have no direct correlation with the trial, arrest, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus

The question then arises how did the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus become affiliated with bunnies and eggs? The fact is that there is absolutely no Biblical support, which authorises the keeping of Easter celebrations and no Biblical verses endorsing celebrations including Lent, eggs, baskets, bonnets or egg hunts. *

The entire foundation of Christian belief is based on the supernatural and miraculous resurrection and Jesus’ atonement for the sins of mankind through his death. If we believe that Jesus (peace be on him ) actually died on the cross, we would also have to admit that all his efforts were lost in vain, and that it was, God forbid, a shameful end of his ministry on the cross. Many people are not aware that God saved Jesus (peace be on him) from dying as a result of the most extreme, disgraceful form of punishment, that of crucifixion. He did not die as a criminal, openly and appallingly in the eyes of the world, as it is stated:

‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’ (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus (peace be on him) has been a dominant figure in history for over two thousand years, but more evidence will continue coming to light to prove that Jesus (peace be on him) did not die on the cross, he was not resurrected and he did not ascend to heaven. God the Exalted says in the Holy Qur’an:

‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ. (Ch.3 V.56)

Jesus was sent to preach to all the twelve tribes of Israel. Out of the twelve tribes only two tribes were in Palestine while the other ten were found scattered in the lands stretching beyond Palestine. Jesus would have been deemed unsuccessful in his mission if he did not preach to the ten lost sheep of Israel.

“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of israel”. (Matthew 15: 24)

Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus (peace be on him) instructed his followers:

‘These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ (Matthew 10:5-7)

‘But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.’ (Matthew 10:23)

Jesus (peace be on him) escaped the clutches of his persecutors and the son of man continued his mission in search of the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus migrated to the East in search of the lost sheep for which there is ample historical evidence and is recently supported by modern ‘finds’ of archaeology. Jesus found his lost sheep in Persia, Afghanistan and Kashmir, preached to them and comparatively he was much more successful here than in Palestine. He died a natural death and was buried in Srinagar, Kashmir.

The Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam has provided substantial evidence in his book ‘Jesus in India’, explaining Jesus’ escape from an ignominious death on the Cross and his subsequent journey to India in quest of the lost tribes of Israel whom he had to gather into his fold as mentioned in the New Testament. **

Regardless of the theological differences regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be on him) Muslims have always been advised to respect and live peacefully with their fellow Christian brothers and in the sixth year of the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) granted to all Christians a charter. ***
According to this charter:

  • The Christians were not to be unfairly taxed
  • No bishop was to be expelled from his monastery
  • No pilgrim was to be detained from the performance of pilgrimage
  • No Christian churches were to be pulled down for the building of mosques
  • Christian women married to Muslims were free to enjoy their own religion
  • In the case of repair of churches, the Muslims were to help the Christians

We hope and pray that we can live side by side in peace and harmony just as Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them) taught us.

 

*for further information read http://www.reviewofreligions.org/2927/a-study-of-the-origins-and-features-of-easter/

** For further information read https://www.alislam.org/library/books/jesus-in-india/preface.html

*** https://www.alislam.org/library/book/book-religious-knowledge/life-holy-prophet-muhammad/hijrat-to-medinah/

 

 

The Blood Of Innocents

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

A picnic in the park. What could be a more natural, safe pastime for a family? Something we have all done as children and continue to do with our own children. But there are children from Lahore who will never experience a picnic again after their young lives were cut short by the cowardly act of a suicide bomber. Neither will those that emerged alive, broken and bleeding, be able to relax in a park in future without fear. Families on a day out are an easy target, no security to bypass, just walk right in and press the button. What a hero, what a model human to take innocent lives in such a way.

Terrorist attacks are cowardly in any case because they are designed to cause terror among people and those most likely to be terrorised are innocent people, not soldiers fighting a war. Many terrorist attacks we hear about in the media these days are carried out by supposedly Islamic groups. But what does Islam actually say? What would the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, have said. How would he feel to see the appalling acts carried out in the name of Islam?

It appears the target for this particular attack were unsuspecting Christian families out on Easter Sunday but the victims included many Muslims. In February there were reports of Boko Haram attacking villages in Nigeria including Dalori where villagers were shot and burned in their homes. Survivors recalled hearing the screams of children burning to death.

Innocent people are killed in attacks all over the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. To what end? Here in the West we see the backlash against Muslims and Islam with the rise of far right political groups and increasing cases of Islamophobic attacks. After the Brussels attacks USA Republican party leadership contender Ted Cruz called for the routine policing of predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods while Donald Trump has advocated the return of waterboarding for suspects; and all this in a country where extremely few attacks are by Muslims.

The media is often accused of prioritising attacks against Western targets while those in the rest of the world do not receive the same blanket coverage. This is reflected on social media; the Paris and Brussels attacks were followed by supportive #PrayFor messages while there were considerably fewer for other attacks. #PrayForLahore was trending after the Lahore attack but it was noticeable that it was used by few Western sounding names.

Those that carry out un-Islamic atrocities must take a lot of the blame for the ill treatment of Muslims and Islam in the Western world. The fact is their acts are far removed from true Islam and no devout Muslim can believe Islam or the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, would advocate their actions.

It is written in the Holy Quran:
“…whosoever killed a person … it shall be as if he had killed all mankind:…
Chapter 5, verse 33
How then can the killing of innocent people be justified?

The Holy Prophet of Islam, on whom be peace, was clear about the rights of Christians. In a letter to Christians of all times he stated:

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; And by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet.
Verily, they are my allies.
They have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.
The Muslims are to fight for (Christians).
If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected.
They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day.

Do the suicide bombers and those that send them not feel they have disobeyed the Prophet, peace be upon him, in Lahore? Some Muslim nations are known to persecute, imprison or kill Christians by using blasphemy laws; do they think they know better than the Holy Quran and the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him?

For the future we must continue to pray that the terrorists don’t win, that the world can unite and stand shoulder to shoulder against them. And maybe there is hope for the future as seen in the Eiffel Tower lit up in the colours of Pakistan; social media can convey signs of unity such as this across the world and make it real.

For now with the blood of Lahore yet to be washed away we are left to mourn for more innocent lives lost so brutally and live in dread of the next terrorist atrocity.