Tuesday, May 26, 2009
For years this mosque was known as the Dayton Mosque. This mosque is historically significant because it was the first mosque built from the ground-up by African American converts to Islam in the United States. Currently, the official name of the mosque is Masjid Fazli Umar.
On January 24, 1920, Dr. Sadiq left England on the S.S. Haverford, headed for the United States, where he intended to establish a mission. On board the ship Dr. Sadiq succeeded in converting six Chinese passengers to the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith.
When the S.S. Haverford arrived in Philadelphia on February 15, 1920, the United States Immigration authorities refused to allow Dr. Sadiq to enter the country. After the authorities interrogated him for several hours and established that Dr. Sadiq was a representative of a religious group that practiced polygyny, they asked him to leave the United States. Dr. Sadiq refused to go and asked for an appeal to the Secretariat in Washington D.C. He was incarcerated in the Philadelphia Detention House until the decision of the appeal was handed down.
Mr. R. J. Rochford, who was also in the Detention House, became Dr. Sadiq's first convert to Islam in the United States. During those weeks of incarceration, Dr. Sadiq made nineteen other converts. These men were from Jamaica, British Guiana, Poland, Russia, Germany, Azores, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, and France.
After seven weeks of incarceration, Dr. Sadiq was finally allowed to enter the United States in April of 1920, on condition that he would not preach polygyny. Dr. Sadiq made a distinction between commandments and permissions in Islam. He stated that all Muslims must follow the commandments of their religion, but may avoid the permissions. For instance, no government can persuade a Muslim to worship more than one God, since the worship of one God is a commandment of their religion. However, polygyny is permitted only in countries whose laws sanction its practice. In countires that prohibit polygyny, permission for its practice is disallowed under the commandment that all Muslims must obey the laws of the country in which they live. This response enabled Dr. Sadiq to begin his work in the United States.
A dark skinned man with a heavy gray beard, wearing a bright green turban and a gray coat with flowing sleeves, Dr. Sadiq presented quite a striking picture to the American public. He came at a time when race riots against black Americans rocked the nation's cities. Racial discrimination against Indian and Asian immigrants was also at an all time high. Many racially oriented uprisings were directed against immigrants from the Punjab, whom white American called "ragheads" because they wore turbans. This was the challenging climate into which Dr. Sadiq came to win the people's hearts to Islam.
Dr. Sadiq was well suited for his role as preacher, writer and public speaker for the Ahmadiyya Movement in the United States. He had served as a missionary in England for a number of years, and was a very learned man. He was a graduate of the University of London, a philologist of international repute and an expert in Arabic and Hebrew. He spoke seven languages and held six doctorate degrees.
Dr. Sadiq set up his first headquarters in April 1920 at 1897 Madison Avenue in New York City. By the end of May, he had made twelve new converts to the Ahmadiyya Movement ---six from the Christian community and six from the Islamic immigrant community. Mrs S. W. Sobolewski was the first American woman converted by Dr. Sadiq to Islam in New York. He named her Fatima Mustafa, in fulfillment of a dream he had in England about an American female convert.
During his three years in America, Dr. Sadiq converted over seven hundred to Islam, from all racial, ethnic and religious groups. His missionary work was done through preaching and writing. By may 10, 1920, he had contributed twenty articles on Islam to various American periodicals and newspapers, among them The New York Times.
I October, 1920, Dr. Sadiq moved the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya mission to Chicago because of its central location. He purchased a house in an affluent area of Chicago, at 4448 S. Wabash, and converted it to a mosque. In July 1921, he published the first issue of the Moslem Sunrise. This journal appeared every three months. Its purpose was to teach Islam and refute the misrepresentations of Islam that appeared in the American press.
Like many immigrants from the "darker races" Indian Muslims suffered discrimination in the United States. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community pointed to the race problem in the United States as proof that Americans needed Islam. The Ahmadis said that it was pitiful that the Christian teachings of brotherhood and equality had not been able to eliminate the evils of racism. Furthermore, the Ahmadis claimed that in Muslim countries people of all colors worshipped together so that there were never seats or mosques, which separated people based on race.
Because of its teaching and practice of universal brotherhood, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community attracted many black Americans, who assumed leadership roles within the Movement. During this period , Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq became friends with Jamaican born Marcus Garvey, the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, (UNIA).
Marcus Garvey had captured the imagination of millions of black people around the world on the 1920s. In America, hundreds of thousands became dues paying members of the UNIA. Marcus Garvey has the distinction of starting the first extensive movement among black Americans. His concepts of race pride and self help, as they were embodied in the UNIA, led to the establishment of the largest international racial justice movement in the history of black culture.
In 1923, Dr. Sadiq gave five lectures at the UNIA meetings in Detroit. Eventually, he converted forty Garveyites to the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith. The most noteworthy of these converts was a former Christian minister, Reverend Sutton, who was named Sheik Abdus Salaam and was appointed the leader of the Detroit branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Black Americans were told that Islam was the religion of their fore-parents before slavery. Apparently, through their connection with the UNIA's internationalist perspective, the Ahmadi Muslims had acquired a keen understanding of the ordinary black man that enabled them to connect Islam with Pan-Africanism and race pride. The adoption of Muslim names by all new converts was further commitment to the Islamic world view as was the wearing of veils by some of the female converts.
A number of Islamic oriented organizations sprang up among black Americans in the 1920's and 30's, apparently influenced by both Dr. Sadiq's teachings and by the philosophy of the UNIA. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, leader of the most successful of these organizations, the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, is stated to have been a corporal in the uniformed ranks of the UNIA.
During his time in the United States, Dr. Sadiq had made many devoted friends. The Muslims in Chicago were so attached to Dr. Sadiq that they sent a letter to the international head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, requesting that he be allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely. However, at the end of September 1923, Dr. Sadiq left the United States and stayed in Paris, France for several weeks, where he lectured and secured converts there. Then he returned to India.
When Dr. Sadiq began his missionary work in the United States, most Americans had never heard of Islam or the name "Muslim," and had never seen a mosque. Today, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States, with millions of converts to various sects.
The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam is continuing its missionary efforts across the United States and around the world. It has established missions in 170 countries. It has communities in fifty-three U.S. cities, where new mosque and mission houses are established. Dr. Sadiq's work has grown from one small seed of faith into a tree whose branches are spreading from coast to coast.
Posted By The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community - USA to The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community - USA at 5/25/2009 11:22:00 AM
Monday, May 18, 2009
Huzur gave a discourse on the Islamic teachings on marital rights and obligations with reference to the Divine attribute Al Wasi (The Benevolent, the All-Embracing).
Huzur said today he would cite various subjects that relate to our daily life as well as to our moral and spiritual state. By virtue of His All-Embracing knowledge God is aware of our each action and by mentioning these subjects He has guided us so that we may, in accordance to our individual capacity, make endeavours to attain beneficence and seek His pleasure. The aspects that guide us range from marital matters to societal issues to reformation of our religious ways, to adapting our moral and spiritual condition in accordance with the pleasure of God. He has also commanded man to adopt His attributes on a human level and has thus enjoined to espouse the attribute of Al Wasi to expand and enhance one’s spiritual state to attain God’s pleasure. He has also informed us that He is indeed well aware of our capacity and therefore whatever He has assigned us is not beyond our capacity. Indeed capacity varies from person to person and His commandment is also in accordance to this, however, it is not for man to determine the limits of one’s capacity; this God alone knows. Therefore it cannot be said about His commandments that they are beyond one’s capacity. He has granted hidden capacity to everyone and it is man’s task to bring it out and develop that capacity.
God also gave us the perfect model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and enjoined us to tread in his footsteps. He was indeed the only perfect man who had tremendous capacities. Reflecting on any aspect of his blessed model one observes exceedingly great standards. We are enjoined to aspire to follow his blessed model. This perfect and blessed model also encompasses marital issues and we observe the supremely excellent standards that he set in this regard. He once said, ‘The best of you, is the one who is best to his wives, and I am the best of you toward my wives.’ He also said if there is any quality a husband dislikes in his wife he should be mindful of another that he likes and thus generate an environment of harmony. Huzur said this commandment is applicable to both men and women. The blessed wives of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) were witness to the fact that his deportment with them was most excellent in all aspects of daily life. Yet he would pray to God that indeed He was aware that as far as human limitations allowed he was just and fair with all his blessed wives. However, he had no control over his heart, and if his heart was inclined to one of them more than the others due to a particular quality, he sought God’s forgiveness. Explaining to Hadhrat Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) the qualities of Hadhrat Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), he said that she had become his companion when he was all alone and helpless. She gave him all her wealth and bore him children. When the world rejected him, she validated him. Despite the presence of living and young wives, indeed the presence of his beloved wife, who was the beloved because he had received most of his Divine revelations whilst in her apartment and who wondered why the Prophet often remembered the elderly Khadija, he responded by lovingly telling them not be narrow-minded, to inculcate fortitude and explained the reasons why he reminisced about his early wife.
Huzur remarked that do those who make baseless allegations on ‘my master’ not observe this excellent model? While his evident deportment with his living wives was fair and equal, with no control over his heart that was inclined to his wife who had made immense sacrifices in the early days, he explained this was because he was appreciative and if he was not grateful in this regard he could not be a grateful servant of God, Who had never left him wanting. His kind and gentle deportment with his wives was in obedience to God’s commandment of fairness.
Huzur explained that the Islamic injunction of marrying more than one wife is conditional and is not cruelty on women as it is commonly perceived. Huzur cited verse four of Surah Al Nisa, ‘And if you fear that you, the society, may fail to do justice in matters concerning orphans in the aftermath of war then marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four. And if you fear you will not deal justly, then marry only one or what your right hands possess. That is the nearest way for you to avoid injustice.’ (4:4) Huzur said this verse safeguards orphan girls and ensures that their emotions are taken care of after marriage and it is not deemed that there is no one watching over them. Elucidating this verse and citing the taking of more than one wife the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) used the phrase ‘even if the need is felt’, thus confirming that one’s personal need to take more than one wife is not of significance, rather, the key aspect is the peace and concord of society.
Huzur said at times he receives complaints that despite having families men want to bring a second wife. Huzur said if one cannot be fair then one should not marry a second wife. If one has no choice but to marry a second wife then one has to take care of the first wife more than before – unlike the instances that one hears of where the rights of the first wife are slowly eroded in flagrant disobedience of God’s commandments. Indeed one has to be very wary that there is no unfairness in the financial and other rights of the first wife because any such injustice has been likened by the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) to a trial.
Huzur reiterated that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) would pray to God that on an apparent level he tried to fulfil the rights of all his wives, however, if due to a quality of a certain wife, at times he expressed about it, he sought God’s forgiveness. Huzur said this is precisely in accordance with human nature and God knows everything, He created man and gave the permission of more than one marriage and has declared that a situation can arise that one may be more inclined towards one wife. In such an instance He commands that it is imperative that the apparent rights of all wives are fulfilled. It is stated in verse 130 of Surah Al Nisa, ‘And you cannot keep perfect balance between wives, despite your best intentions, so incline not entirely to one, lest the other should be left suspended, unattended and uncared for. And if you amend and act righteously, surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.’ (4:130) Huzur said indeed the welfare of a wife is the completely the obligation of a husband. He said he receives complaints from wives that husbands do not pay attention to their needs and are predisposed to the other. In instances where there is only one wife, husbands maintain that they will neither leave the wife nor look after her. Then matters are unnecessarily lengthened in Qadha; some do not give divorce so that in desperation the wife seeks ‘khula’ and the man thus escapes paying the Haq Mehr (dower). All these matters distant one from taqwa (righteousness). If one seeks God’s mercy then one has to demonstrate mercy, if one wishes to partake a measure of God’s mercy one has to expand one’s mercy. Huzur said the verse following the aforementioned verse states, ‘And if they separate, Allah will make both independent out of His abundance; and Allah is Bountiful, Wise.’ (4:131). Here God commands that if there is no way to reconcile then do not leave them suspended, rather separate in the best manner. Ahadith cite divorce as a most unpleasant act, however, if a relationship cannot be maintained on taqwa, then God knows what is in hearts and if separation is sought while inclined to Him, the All-Embracing God makes bountiful arrangements for all concerned. Huzur said this verse also establishes the principle that matrimonial relations should not be decided on emotions; rather they should be decided after careful consideration and seeking the help of God who is All-Embracing. Such matches are blessed by God and He graces them with great scope.
Huzur said as he mentioned earlier, at times men make matters of divorce drag on. There are clear and distinct commandments regarding the rights of the wife after marriage that has lasted a period of time and also where there are children. However, God commands man to fulfil the rights of a wife in the instance of a divorce even where the ‘going-away’ ceremony has not taken place and the marriage has not been consummated. It is stated in Surah Al Baqarah, ‘It shall be no sin for you if you divorce women while you have not touched them, nor settled for them a dowry. But provide for them — the rich man according to his means and the poor man according to his means — a provision in a becoming manner, an obligation upon the virtuous.’ (2:237). Huzur explained that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was most specific about this matter. Once the matter of an Ansari man was brought before the Prophet. The man said that he had divorced his wife before settling on Haq Mehr and without consummating the marriage. The Prophet asked him if he had paid anything to the wife out of kindness. The man replied he did not have anything to give. The Prophet told him if he had nothing else to give then he should give her the cap that he wore. This illustrates the significance of the rights of women in marriage. This of course is an instance where Haq Mehr was not settled on. In the instance where it is settled but the marriage has not been consummated then the command is to pay half of it.
Huzur said there are thus clear and unambiguous commandments pertaining to the rights of wives and children as well as the rights of husbands. In citing these commandments God states that they are not beyond one’s capacity therefore they should be fulfilled. Huzur said there is another detail about this which he would not cite; two matters were sufficient. Firstly, the blessed model of supremely excellent treatment of wives to follow and secondly the significance to put this blessed model in practice by every Ahmadi Muslim, especially the obligations given to men.
Another issue, which although is not common, but which can be heard of at the odd place in our Community is the matter cited in the verse 153 of Surah Al An’am, ‘And approach not the property of the orphan, except in a way which is best, till he attains his maturity. And give full measure and weight with equity. We task not any soul except according to its capacity. And when you speak, observe justice, even if the concerned person be a relative, and fulfil the covenant of Allah. That is what He enjoins upon you, that you may remember.’ (6:153). Huzur said this verse declares that no responsibility is given to one beyond one’s capacity. The All-Embracing, All-Knowing God is fully aware of our capacities and thus gives us commandments well within our capabilities. The verse commands to only handle the property of the orphan in a good, kind way. Those in whose care the property of the orphan comes are its trustees. A few verses preceding this verse state that the endeavour should be to protect the property of the orphan and their upbringing should be afforded by those looking after them but if one cannot afford to do so then one should avail of the property of the orphan for this purpose most carefully. The rightful dues are paid in this instance when one has the same empathy for the property of the orphan as one has for one’s own property. Huzur said those who are unjust in handling the property of the orphan should remember that by doing so they will never be able to enhance their property. Even if they make a temporary gain in this life, they will come under the warning of, ‘Surely, they who devour the property of orphans unjustly, only swallow fire into their bellies…’ (4:11). It is therefore a matter to be most cautious about. People who help those who usurp the property of orphans are also culpable.
One should always try and have the mind-set that whatever God commands us is within our capacity and with this mind-set one should do one’s best to put into practice all Divine commandments. If we are able to do this we may be included in the people about whom God states: ‘But as to those who believe and do good works — and We task not any soul beyond its capacity — these are the inmates of Heaven; they shall abide therein.’ (Surah Al A’raf 7:43). May God make it so that we always turn to Him and obey Him. Our limitations are obvious but He has commanded us in accordance – and His mercy is boundless, of which He has given us glad-tiding. May we continue to do good works, may God enable us so.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
For the world to see. I once played the violin, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine the violin being used like this...they are simply: "Nuttin But Strings."
I watched them first on "America's Got Talent" in 2008. It was then that I understood the real magic of the violin. These two brothers (real brothers) started to get attention in the subways of New York.
It is only Allah Almighty who gives these gifts to the downtrodden. AllahuAkbar!
Peace & Enjoy....Hasan
Saturday, May 16, 2009
"A.J. Christ Dowie and the Harmonial Philosophy"
A Biography of John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907)
By Kevin McDermott
JOHN ALEXANDER DOWIE was born in Edinboro' Scotland on May 25, 1847 and received his religious conviction — while singing a hymn from a street pulpit in that city — at age seven. His family emigrated to Australia when he was thirteen; there he attended seminary and held a number of pastoral positions in the Congregational Church before resigning the last to become a full-time non-denominational evangelist in 1878.
As a young man he experienced a healing from chronic indigestion which he attributed to divine intervention; this led to his growing activity as a faith healer and ultimately to the foundation of his International Divine Healing Association. He left for the United States in 1888, and after two years on the Pacific coast moved to Evanston, Illinois. During the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 he led healing services in a large tabernacle across the way from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
From the pages of his weekly paper, Leaves of Healing, he decried doctors, pharmacists, Freemasonry, and the consumption of pork, while championing flat-earth theory and "Anglo-Israelism" — the belief that Anglo-Saxons were the lost tribes of Israel. This assertion Dowie supported by linguistic acrobatics worthy of Joyce himself: "Who are we, if we are not Israel? Whence came we, this imperial Anglo-Saxon race? The Saxons are Isaac's sons. I-sax-sons" (Leaves of Healing, July 10, 1897). How this squared with his belief that the Celts were also "I-sax-sons" is hard to make out: "...you have got the descendents of Israel in a very pure condition in the highlands of Scotland and in some parts of Wales and Ireland.... The Celtic languages are full of Hebrew, and with customs that are Hebraistic" (Leaves of Healing, August 7, 1896). Whatever its logical foundation, plenty of folks heard his message: the newspaper had some 40,000 subscribers worldwide and was published in Dutch and German as well as English.
In 1896 he established the Christian Catholic Church, which — as the author of a volume entitled Rome's Polluted Springs — he was at pains to point out had no connection with that other Catholic church. Following a decade of legal wrangling with the Chicago authorities, between 1899 and 1901 Dowie secretly bought ten square miles of lakefront land 40 miles to the north and founded a true American theocracy: Zion, Illinois. Here people could — and would — live sinless lives in conditions approximating (as nearly as possible) those obtaining after the Millennium. Whether the New Jerusalem's citizens will, in fact, be summoned to worship by steam whistle remains to be seen; but they were in Zion.
Announced to his followers at midnight on New Year's Eve 1899/1900, laid out in the form of a Union Jack, and planned for 200,000 souls, Dowie's City had almost everything: brickworks and lumber mills; an electrical generating plant; factories shipping lace, cookies, and candy around the world; a college; mammoth auditoriums and hotels; and even its own postage stamps.
Dowie owned everything personally, although settlers were offered 1,100-year leases (i.e., 100 years to usher in the Kingdom and 1,000 for Christ's millennial reign — after that, seemingly, you were on your own). The leases specifically forbade gambling, dancing, swearing, spitting, theaters, circuses, the manufacture and sale of alcohol or tobacco, pork, oysters, doctors, politicians — and tan-colored shoes. The city police carried a billy club on one hip and a Bible on the other; their helmets were adorned with a dove and the word "PATIENCE." At the height of his power and influence, Dowie was worth several million dollars and claimed 50,000 followers, 6,000 of whom lived in Zion City.
John Alexander Dowie
"The Rev. John Alexander Dowie,
General Overseer of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion,"
In 1901 Dowie proclaimed himself "Elijah the Restorer" and began to wear High-Priestly robes. This caused many disciples to fall away; the subsequent decrease in income combined with the expenses of building Zion marked the beginning of Dowie's slide into bankruptcy. It was at this time that rumors of his polygamous teaching and activities, use of alcohol, and extravagant lifestyle began to gain currency, not only in the world, but also within the Church.
As Dowie was an enemy of all religions but his own, it is not surprising he had no use for Islam — although the extent of his animus remains a point of controversy among various Muslim sects even today.
In the summer of 1903, this brought a well-publicized challenge to an Islamic prayer duel to the death, or Mubahila, from the Indian subcontinent: "Whether the God of Muhammadans or the God of Dowie is the true God, may be settled...he should choose me as his opponent and pray to God that of us two, whoever is the liar may perish first.... I am an old man of 66 years and Dr. Dowie is eleven years younger; therefore on grounds of age he need not have any apprehension.... If the self-made deity of Dr. Dowie has any power, he shall certainly allow him to appear against me and procure my destruction in his lifetime." Dowie's Punjabi challenger, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a remarkably well-matched opponent: he too had founded his own sect, Ahmadiyya, and believed himself a reincarnated prophet — in his case, Hazrat Eisa Ibne Maryam (a.k.a. Jesus Christ).
Whether the Almighty took any interest in their contest, its rules leave no doubt about the winner: in short order Dowie was deposed (amid rumors of sexual and financial malfeasance); suffered a stroke; and, in 1907, died — a year before Ahmad. Put into receivership, Zion City remained a theocracy until 1935 under a new General Overseer, the Rev. Wilbur Glenn Voliva. Property values and income plummeted when the Church collapsed, but municipal finances were kept robust through fines generated at the city line by a vigorous policing of unsuspecting motorists for offenses such as use of makeup, carrying liquor, smoking, and whistling on Sundays.
Although he is a minor character in Ulysses, there is no doubt that Joyce had a strong desire to include Dowie in his novel: to do so he had to commit one of his rare anachronisms, for Dowie was not in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Following an expensive and failed "invasion" of New York City and already identified legally as an "alleged bankrupt," Dowie had begun a worldwide evangelical tour in January of that year with stops in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany, and finally England, arriving in London on June 12.
Widespread indignation over his attacks on King Edward the Seventh's morals made it difficult for him to find accommodation; taking rooms at the Hotel Cecil under an assumed name, he was asked to leave when the management discovered his true identity the following day. With the comment "heathen England has refused me," he took ship for France on June 13, sailed to New York from that country, and returned to Zion City on June 30. The last decade of Dowie's career received ample coverage in the world press, and the library-haunting Joyce would have had ready access to this public information. However, internal church material was also available in Joyce's own city during the time he was conceiving and writing much of Ulysses: Dowie had visited Zürich in 1900 and founded the first Swiss christlich-katholische Zionsgemeinde there, at Waisenhausgasse 10.
Why was Joyce interested in Dowie? The principal reason seems to be that, whereas Leopold Bloom only fantasizes about establishing the "New Bloomusalem," Dowie actually built his. Although Joyce, Bloom, and Dowie were all responding to the same biblical sources and it is therefore impossible to gauge how directly Bloom's Elijah-like behavior is based on Dowie's, the fact that Joyce included Dowie in his dramatis personæ strongly suggests the connection is there. Besides the construction of a "heaven on earth" filled with all sorts of Bloom-like gimcrackery and presided over by an autocrat, Joyce (with benefit of hindsight) saw Dowie's crashing, litigious fall from power in a ruminous penumbra of sexual and financial sin; the similarity to Bloom's rise and fall from power — although not unique — is obvious. Other currents may also have attracted Joyce: Dowie's murky Anglo-Israelism ties in nicely with the Greek/Roman, Hebrew/Roman, Celt/Anglo-Saxon and Celt/Hebrew dichotomies presented in the Æolus chapter (130:31-131:25; 133:12-30; 139:30-34) and during Bloom's and Stephen's discussions in Ithaca (687:36-689:20), which end with an explicit connection of Bloom and Dowie (690:1-6).
Although Dowie was a Scot, half his career and all his greatest successes took place in America. Joyce seems to stress this "Americanness," perhaps as part of his presentation of the country as a chaotic place where "those things were continually happening" (221:21-22), e.g., the General Slocum disaster, the "Black Beast Burned in Omaha, Ga.," and the loony religions which have prospered on these fertile shores; when Dowie appears phantasmally at the end of Oxen of the Sun and again in the Circe chapters, his increasingly fervent tent-revival sermonizing starts as a very American mixture of stage-Yankee dialect humor and Coney Island barker come-on before transmogrifying into a full black-face minstrel show stump speech.
John Alexander Dowie as Elijah
It is interesting to speculate whether the evangelist is allowed to speak in his own voice at the appearance of THE END OF THE WORLD, heralding, or perhaps becoming, Elijah/"A.J. Christ Dowie:" this might explain why, attired in a pastiche of highland clothing, it speaks "with a Scotch accent" (507:8-23). Cylinder recordings made by Dowie in 1901-02 reveal that, although clearly trying to speak distinctly into the primitive recording horn, he still had a Scots burr. Printed transcripts of his sermons show that — while frequently abusing his enemies (present or absent) and encouraging audience participation — Joyce's depiction of Dowie's oratorical style is a literary fiction.
It is almost impossible to assess Dowie's motives and sincerity from this distance. He was not the first — and will not be the last — religious leader to inspire both great devotion and great skepticism during his lifetime; forming an accurate judgment is even more difficult a century later. It is possible that he suffered mental deterioration or personality change in later life, perhaps a result of undiagnosed vascular events prior to the massive strokes which, in 1905, severely disabled and then, in 1907, killed him — although he would also not be the first public figure to secure his downfall by starting to believe his own publicity.
Two contemporary and fairly even-handed appreciations of the man and his work are given below, one a personal observation and the other a typical press report. Many of Dowie's ideas appear eccentric (at best) in the early twenty-first century; it should not be forgotten, however, that he was well ahead of his time in espousing beliefs considered similarly eccentric at the dawn of the twentieth — such as equality of the races. Zion City was one of the first communities in the world planned as an integrated city. Today some two to three thousand Christians still describe themselves as "Dowieites," many in South Africa, where Zionites represent the largest Christian sect. In the rest of the world, John Alexander Dowie is better remembered by Muslims (as a false prophet and enemy of Islam) than by Christians (as an early faith healer and forerunner of Pentecostalism) — and also, of course, by Joyceans, for his guest appearance in Ulysses.
• • • • •
PHOTO CREDITS: Both images of Dr. Dowie above were published as supplements to Leaves of Healing and are courtesy of the Zion, IL, Historical Society.
Monogamatic Marriage » [View source] Cover of Two Thousand Miles on an Automobile From Two Thousand Miles on an Automobile; Being a Desultory Narrative of a Trip through New England, New York, Canada, and the West By "Chauffeur" [Arthur Jerome Eddy, 1859-1920] with eighteen illustrations by Frank Verbeck Philadelphia, London, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1902, pp. 29-31. (Read the complete text online.)
As we passed Zion Temple, near Twelfth Street, the home of the Dowieites, the Professor said: "A very remarkable man, that Dowie." "A fraud and an impostor," I retorted, reflecting current opinion. "Possibly; but we all impose more or less upon one another; he has simply made a business of his imposition. Did you ever meet him?" "No; it's hardly worth while." "It is worth while to meet any man who influences or controls a considerable body of his fellow-men.
The difference between Mohammed and Joseph Smith is of degree rather than kind. Dowie is down towards the small end of the scale, but he is none the less there, and differs in kind from your average citizen in his power to influence and control others. I crossed the lake with him one night and spent the evening in conversation." "What are your impressions of the man?" "A shrewd, hard-headed, dogmatic Scotchman, — who neither smokes nor drinks." "Who calls himself Elijah come to earth again." "I had the temerity to ask him concerning his pretensions in that direction, and he said, substantially, 'I make no claims or assertions, but the Bible says Elijah will return to earth; it does not say in what form or how he will manifest himself; he might choose your personality; he might choose mine; he has not chosen yours, there are some evidences that he has chosen mine." "Proof most conclusive." "It satisfies his followers. After all, perhaps it does not matter so much what we believe as how we believe."
A few moments later we were passing the new Christian Science Temple on Drexel Boulevard, — a building quite simple and delightful, barring some garish lamps in front. "There is another latter-day sect," said the Professor; "one of the phenomena of the nineteenth century." "You would not class them with the Dowieites?" "By no means, but an interesting part of a large whole which embraces at one extreme the Dowieites. The connecting link is faith. But the very architecture of the temple we have just passed illustrates the vast interval that separates the two." "Then you judge a sect by its buildings?" "Every faith has its own architecture. The temple at Karnak and the tabernacle at Salt Lake City are petrifactions of faith. In time the places of worship are the only tangible remains — witness Stonehenge." • • • From The Morning Leader for December 9, 1903, Port Townsend, Washington State Unsigned editorial, first column, page 2. (A scanned version of the entire paper is available online.) It begins to look very much as if the recent Dowieite invasion of New York should rank with Napoleon's advance upon Moswco [sic], so far as the life and adventures of John Alexander Dowie are concerned. That unquestionably clever organizer apparently overreached himself in his expedition to the metropolis. The "invasion" was a dismal failure, as indeed it was doomed to be from the first. The disaster in the East not only weakened the financial position of "Elijah II," but it seems quite apparent that to some extent at least it lessened his rather remarkable influence over his followers.
As a result, when the creditors of "Zion" became urgent in their demands, the appeals of Dowie for more money from his followers were not answered with sufficient unanimity to suit the occasion. The financial downfall of Zion was the result. The future of Dowie will be watched with interest. It has been charged that the ventures of the self-styled prophet have been immensely profitable to himself, and that he has already put most of the money so obtained in places where it can [sic] be jeopardized by any possible disaster at Zion City. If Dowie deserts his followers in the present crisis, there will be some cause to believe in the justice of these accusations. If he stands by his followers and is able to speak for himself during the investigation that will be carried on by the receivers appointed by the court, three [sic] will be ample opportunity to judge in just what category the financial activities of the founder of Zion belong. Dowie is certainly an unique character for these early years of the twentieth century. In the Middle Ages he would probably have been thought a great man. More than one self-styled prohet [sic] in the history of the East has risen to positions of fame and lasting influence by the use of much the same sort of claims that Dowie makes for the religious side of his enterprises. Mohammed left behind him a creed which has been of almost inestimable influence on the history of the world during thirteen centuries, and still has more believers than any other religion in the world. Dowie finds himself in the hands of the officers of the United States federal court. Truly, the present day and American republic are most inauspicious as a time and place for the development of prophets! Presently we shall see whether Dowie has any real sincerity in his beliefs and practices, both religious and financial, or whether he is merely a cheat and hypocrite of the worst type. For the present it is difficult to say whether the troubles of Zion are the results of the overweening ambition of a man in whose claims there really is some sincerity, or of a hypocrite and scoundrel upon whom it is well that the law has finally laid its hand. • • •
Sunday, May 10, 2009
New video evidence has surfaced showing that U.S. military forces in Afghanistan have been instructed by the military’s top chaplain in the country to "hunt people for Jesus" as they spread Christianity to the overwhelmingly Muslim population. Soldiers also have imported bibles translated into Pashto and Dari, the two dominant languages of Afghanistan. What’s more, the center of this evangelical operation is at the huge U.S. base at Bagram, one of the main sites used by the U.S. military to torture and indefinitely detain prisoners.
In a video obtained by Al Jazeera and broadcast Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the U.S. military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him."
"The special forces guys -- they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says.
"Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business."
The translated Bibles appear to be the New Testament. According to Al Jazeera, U.S. soldiers "had them specially printed and shipped to Afghanistan." On the tape, one soldier describes how his church in the U.S. helped raise money for the bibles. Al Jazeera reports that "What these soldiers have been doing may well be in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, their professional codes and the regulations in place for all forces in Afghanistan." The U.S. military officially forbids "proselytising of any religion, faith or practice." But, as Al Jazeera reports:[T]he chaplains appear to have found a way around the regulation known as General Order Number One.
"Do we know what it means to proselytise?" Captain Emmit Furner, a military chaplain, says to the gathering.
"It is General Order Number One," an unidentified soldier replies.
But Watt says "you can’t proselytise but you can give gifts."
Trying to convert Muslims to any other faith is a crime in Afghanistan. The fact that the video footage is being broadcast on Al Jazeera guarantees that it will be seen throughout the Muslim world. It is likely to add more credence to the perception that the U.S. is engaging in a war on Islam with neo-crusader forces invading Muslim lands.
Former Afghan prime minister Ahmed Shah Ahmedzai told Al Jazeera there must be a "serious investigation," saying, "This is very damaging for diplomatic relations between the two counties." Sayed Aalam Uddin Asser, of the Islamic Front for Peace and Understanding in Kabul, told the network: "It's a national security issue … our constitution says nothing can take place in Afghanistan against Islam. If people come and propaganda other religions which have no followers in Afghanistan [then] it creates problems for the people, for peace, for stability."
A U.S. military spokesperson, Major Jennifer Willis, denied that the U.S. military has allowed its soldiers to attempt to convert Afghans and said comments from sermons filmed at Bagram were taken out of context. She said the bibles were never distributed. "That specific case involved a soldier who brought in a donation of translated bibles that were sent to his personal address by his home church. He showed them to the group and the chaplain explained that he cannot distribute them," she said. "The translated bibles were never distributed as far as we know, because the soldier understood that if he distributed them he would be in violation of general order 1, and he would be subject to punishment."
This is certainly not the first scandal where U.S. military forces or officials have been caught on tape promoting an evangelical Christian agenda. Perhaps the most high-profile case involved Lieut. Gen. William Boykin, who was a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under Bush. Boykin was part of Donald Rumsfeld’s inner circle at the Pentagon where he was placed in charge of hunting "high-value targets." Boykin was one of the key U.S. officials in establishing what critics alleged was death-squad-type activity in Iraq.In October 2003, Boykin was revealed to have gone on several anti-Muslim rants, in public speeches, many of which he delivered in military uniform. Since January 2002, Boykin had spoken at twenty-three religious-oriented events, wearing his uniform at all but two. Among Boykin’s statements, he said he knew the U.S. would prevail over a Muslim adversary in Somalia because "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Boykin also charged that Islamic radicals want to destroy America "because we're a Christian nation" that "will never abandon Israel." Our "spiritual enemy," Boykin declared, "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Summary of Friday Sermon
Delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
May 8 th, 2009
Today Huzur delivered his Friday Sermon on the Divine attribute of Al Wasi (the Bountiful, the All-Embracing). Huzur explained that ‘Wasi’ is that Being Whose provision and Whose mercy encompasses all creation. Whose self-sufficiency overrides everything, a Being that bestows limitlessly, Who encompasses everything. Huzur said all these references can be found in the Holy Qur’an.
In verse 269 of Surah Al Baqarah Allah states: ‘Satan threatens you with poverty and enjoins upon you what is foul, whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and bounty. And Allah is Bountiful, All-Knowing.’ (2:269) Huzur explained that the verse cites two factors that Satan employs to drive God’s servants away from Him; fear of poverty and foulness. Fear of poverty is of many kinds; as Satan had said to God that he would sit and waylay God’s people on every path, indeed, he left no stone unturned. His waylaying was not with his own power but due to the fact that God permitted him. God made it clear to His people that Satan would entice in ways that would appear good but the consequences of these would be terrible. Allah states in the Qur’an: ‘…And Satan desires to lead them far astray’ [Surah Al Nisa (4:61)] as well as ‘…Satan is to you an open foe…’ [Surah Al A’raf - (6:23)]. Referring to the above verse Huzur said its reference is not limited to Adam and Eve but is a warning to all men and women that Satan is your audacious enemy therefore be heedful of his temptations. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that the events stated in the Holy Qur’an are not mere accounts of old, rather these are also prophecies for the times to come, therefore believers should be mindful.
Huzur said Satan alters his ways with changing times. Each new invention that is beneficial also carries the caution that Satan also uses it. In the Surah Al Baqarah verse God states that Satan intimidates you with fear of poverty. The Arabic word in the verse ‘faqara’ denotes poverty as well as the breaking of the vertebrae. This signifies that Satan threatens that sacrifices in the name of God would, as if, render one unable to support oneself and would leave one behind in the world. Satan intimidates against sacrifices in many ways; strays one from worship of God and instead carry out worldly businesses, puts fear of monetary loss and poverty in hearts so one does not make time for causes of God and spends all one’s time in making money. Huzur said however, God’s servants are not intimidated by Satan. Huzur said he read an article in Al Fazl (Urdu newspaper) which cited that a person stood buying meat at butchers in Rabwah when the local finance secretary of the area passed by on a bicycle. The secretary stopped to remind that person that he had some balance to pay on his chanda (financial contribution). The person asked how much the balance was. When told, he paid it there and then and took a receipt. However, he returned the meat he had bought at the butchers and said his family would have a simple meal that day. Huzur said such are the people who are not tempted by Satan and it is not just one person, there are hundreds of such people in our Community who do not simply miss out on meat rather they even go hungry but make sacrifices.
Huzur said there are also numerous instances of sacrifice of life in our Community; in particular the Ahmadis of Pakistan are faced with death at any moment simply for being Ahmadis and for living where they live. The supreme sacrifices of life of Sahibzada Abdul Latif shaheed and Maulwi Abdul Rahman shaheed illustrated that they did not withhold sacrificing their lives for a noble cause and for the pleasure of God. Huzur said there are dozens of other incidents where Ahmadis gladly offered their lives, staying firm on their belief and resoluteness and not merely as a consequence of a sudden attack.
Huzur said in this day and age the economy is also referred to as ‘backbone’ thus Satan threatens those who give about the financial future of their children but God’s servant continue to give. The instance of sacrifice of time is one with which every Ahmadi who is associated with the Community is familiar for they give some time or the other to the Community even if it is attending meetings and gatherings. There is also a great majority who sacrifice their time and come to the Friday Prayers and pay no attention to Satanic temptations – then there are those who do not come to the Friday Prayers or even Eid Prayers. There is a significant number of Ahmadis who do not pay attention to Salat and instead remain busy in their business dealings.
Other than threatening with poverty Satan also tempts man to spend money at matters that are foul, at worldly amusements and indecencies such as gambling and consumption of alcohol. He does this in a manner that man does not realise he is doing something wrong. Allah states in the Qur’an: ‘…And follow not the footsteps of Satan…’ [Surah Al An’am – (6:143)]. Huzur said it is utter ignorance to even imagine that there is any good in following Satan. If a worldly person was asked about his concept of Satan he would say ‘may God protect from him’, however, in following Satan such a person would be completely unaware of what he is doing. In leading such people astray Satan fulfils his original claim that he will lead majority of people away from God. Huzur said the way to come to God is to repent and turn to Him. Indeed, He forgives and enables one to do good in future. Huzur said through the reference of the word ‘ya’eedokum’ in the Surah Al Baqarah verse God has assured forgiveness. On the Day of Judgement Satan is going to deny everything but God promises that He will facilitate forgiveness. That He will bestow in this world and will also forgive in the Hereafter. While indulging in foul matters leads to troubles, physical ailments and many other losses, the believers are promised greater blessings. God states that He would open doors of His grace and believers will develop in spirituality. It is the promise of God, Who is Bountiful and All-Embracing and Who has ceaseless treasures of blessings.
Every Ahmadi who makes financial sacrifice knows that God blesses each giving in an astonishing manner. The families of those who sacrifice their lives are witness to the fact that their sacrifices are a source of immense blessing for the families. These are the experiences that the Bountiful, All-Embracing God grants those who give and who sacrifice.
God’s further favour and grace on His servants is thus that not only does He grant forgiveness upon sincere repentance, good works and sacrifices rather He employs angels to seek forgiveness for His servants. It is stated in the Qur’an: ‘Those who bear the Throne, and those who are around it, glorify their Lord with His praise, and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who believe, saying: ‘Our Lord, Thou dost comprehend all things in Thy mercy and knowledge. So forgive those who repent and follow Thy way; and protect them from the punishment of Hell.’ [Surah Al Mu’min – (40:8)] Huzur said here ‘bearing of the Throne’ signifies angels as explained in Surah Al Haqqah (69:18) or it means those attributes of God on which these angels have been ordained, Divine attributes which are described in Surah Al Fatihah, i.e. Rabb (Lord) Rahman (Most Gracious) Raheem (Ever Merciful) and Malik e Yaumideen (Master of the Day of Judgement). These are the attributes which come into man’s use in this world and are the fundamental Divine attributes. Those who believe and then repent, turn to God, do good works, it is for these that God’s angels, in particular those angels who are commissioned to facilitate these qualities on mankind and each angel who is assigned the respective attribute, prays to God with reference to that attribute on behalf of the believers. Similarly, angels subordinate to these [commissioned] angels also seek forgiveness from God for people.
Huzur said man is full of mistakes and failings and when he stumbles inadvertently, these angels plead God with reference to His mercy and His boundless knowledge to forgive His servant. They refer to God’s mercy first to seek forgiveness because pardon only comes about with His mercy and this is why they seek His extensive mercy for this. They acknowledge God’s all-embracing knowledge and supplicate that if it is in God’s knowledge that these people would stumble in future may God’s overriding mercy make them do good works instead, and makes these good works eternal for them – the angels acknowledge that the people will only be so enabled if God’s mercy is forthcoming. This is the Most Gracious, the Great Forgiver, Most Merciful God Who employs all resources to forgive people and to keep them firm on piety.
God states that He rewards sacrifice seven hundred-fold, in fact it can even exceed this because God is the Bountiful and all-Embracing and His rewards know no bounds. Yet man is ungrateful and leaves the Ever Merciful God and is tempted by Satan towards transitory pleasures.
Huzur cited verse 157 of Surah Al A’raf (7:157) which reads: ‘And ordain for us good in this world, as well as in the next; we have turned to You seeking forgiveness. God replied, ‘I will inflict My punishment on whom I will; but My mercy encompasses all things; so I will ordain it for those who act righteously, and pay the Zakat and those who believe in Our Signs – ‘ and explained that as the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said the events of the Prophets described in the Qur’an are also prophecies for the future therefore when acceptance of prayers and God’s mercy is cited it is applicable today as it was before, of course on the condition that man abides by God’s commandments. God’s mercy surpasses everything but man has been given responsibility to adopt taqwa (righteousness) to worship God, to love God more than anything else, to make every sacrifice needed to pay the dues of Allah and the dues of mankind, to believe in God’s Signs. Huzur said the advent of God’s eminent and holy people is also one of His Signs. In this age the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was followed by many Signs; for instance the solar and lunar eclipses, earthquakes, the plague and many modern-day inventions. Huzur said when a claimant cites something and it comes to pass then it is a special Sign.
God has made His mercy supersede everything else therefore man should be ever hopeful of forgiveness and should endeavour to follow God’s commandments. In particular believers should never be of the mind-set that they will be forgiven no matter what. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God has put His laws in place and also punishes those who exceeds the limits. God has not stated that His mercy surpasses everything for the sinners, rather this has been stated with reference to those who abide by taqwa. It is the task of a believer to continue to seek this mercy and then be hopeful of God’s all-embracing mercy. May Allah enable us all to do so.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Summary of Friday Sermon
Delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
May 1 st, 2009
Huzur said last Friday he had explained with reference to the Divine attribute of Al Nafi (the Benefactor) that real and true benefit comes from God alone therefore He alone should be worshiped. This results in attaining His beneficence in this world as well as the Hereafter. God has also commanded that in conjunction with worshipping Him we put in practice all that He has enjoined. Not only because general benefit and advantage is associated with Him but because He is the Creator and the Sustainer of the entire universe, is the Lord of all the worlds and is therefore the sole source of all benefit and gain.
Huzur further explained by reading extracts of the noble writing of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) that it is through the Divine excellence of Rububiyyat (quality to create and nurture) that God has made His beneficence available to all creation. His creation extends to the ‘worlds’ in space, the ‘worlds’ that inhabit under the crust of the earth, the ‘worlds’ of vegetation, the kingdom of arthropods, the insects etc. All this creation has a purpose and among all the creation mankind benefits the most. As scientific research advances the benefits of all creation to mankind are becoming clearer. Huzur said how could man turn elsewhere when God has granted so much to him; has created him and pressed everything in action for his benefit. Indeed man should be utterly grateful to God and be completely free of associating any partners with Him.
The Holy Qur’an reminds us that when we benefit from all that has been put into this world for us we should be aware that it is God Who has created everything, Who sustains it all and has power over it all. He is the Lord, Ever Gracious, most Merciful and the Master of numerous other attributes. Citing verse 165 of Surah Al Baqarah; ‘Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day, and in the ships which sail in the sea with that which profits men, and in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and quickens therewith the earth after its death and scatters therein all kinds of beasts, and in the change of the winds, and the clouds pressed into service between the heaven and the earth — are indeed Signs for the people who understand.’ (2:165) Huzur said this verse only cites a few of God’s favours upon us, if one has any sense, one would never be lost here and there but would recognise the true God. The creation of the heavens and the earth is a blessing among the numerous blessings of God and as the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) elucidated that many worlds exist on this earth, each creation has a world of its own. Huzur said the ships sail through the seas and are a means of travel as well as a major source of freight transport in the world even today. The water of the seas transforms into clouds and brings down signs of life back to the earth. Indeed, without water agriculture would be non-existent and the world would be famine-struck. Huzur cited verse 31 of Surah Al Mulk; ‘Say, ‘Tell me, if all your water sinks into a deep recess, who then will bring you clear flowing water?’ (67:31) and explained that the water on this earth is only life-giving when it takes the shape of God’s water coming down from the sky. Huzur said the farmers world over know that winds blowing in specific directions bring specific benefit to crops. All this is not mere co-incident; rather it is a proof of the existent of God. Reflection and pondering over the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of day and night and the changing seasons strengthen belief in the existence of God.
Huzur cited a couple of incidents from the blessed life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) when he was asked to pray for rain and God accepted his prayers and rain fell on parched earth. Huzur said indeed God created ‘beneficial’ people in the ummah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) through whom He has given the proof of His power and in the current age it is the being of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) whose prayers were accepted for the benefit of people.
Huzur said the spiritual world is even more extensive than the physical world and in the example of the alternation of day and night is a message of the Divine arrangement of dispelling darkness through spiritual light. God has never been remote in manifesting this light in any age at all. In this age, in accordance with His promise, He sent the Promised Messiah. Just as God has provided the means of transport in the physical world in the form of ships and vessels similarly He sends His people to this world who arrange for spiritual vessels to take people to their spiritual destination. This favour of God has never ceased. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote a book in this context entitled ‘Kishti Nuh’ (literal translation: Noah’s Ark). In this book he expounded the spiritual remedy to protect oneself against the plague. Huzur read extracts from the book [the English version/translation is entitled ‘Our Teaching’] and explained that verbal assertion of the bai’at means nothing unless one accepts and practices from the heart. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that this community is God’s last community and should therefore demonstrate supremely excellent practises. Huzur said the book sets out the standards by adopting which a believer, an Ahmadi, makes him or herself safe. May God enable us to continue to lead our lives in accordance with this teaching.
Huzur said the world is caught up in all sorts of troubles. Many diseases are spread all over the world, the new and current epidemic of swine flu is one of them. All this is a cause for concern and should make us pay attention to ourselves whether we are trying to put the teaching of God, His Prophet and the Imam of the age in practice or not. When we will make the endeavour to practice what God commands we will attain beneficence from the spiritual water about which God has said in the aforementioned verse ‘…quickens therewith the earth after its death…’. Huzur said the spiritual water which God sends through His Prophets and those He commissions brings new life, however, only those gain from this water who have the capacity, like good soil, to benefit from it. God’s grace in general sends down water but ‘fertility’ of hearts is required for it to be advantageous.
Huzur cited a Hadith in which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) explained this extremely well. He said there are three types of people. Those like good soil, which is soft and has the capacity to absorb water and as a result produces good crop. When rain falls on such soil, it increases it moisture by absorbing the water and is beneficial by producing good crops. The second kind of soil is that which is hard and cannot absorb water well but collects water, like ponds and lakes. This soil is not directly beneficial but by collecting water it provides water for the animals and people to drink and is also useful for irrigation. The third kind of soil is rocky, gritty or is sloped and does not absorb water or has the capacity to collect water. Such soil neither benefits itself nor does it provide any advantage to others. The first kind of soil is like that learned person who not only seeks religious knowledge himself but also imparts it to others. The person who is like the third kind of soil is one who does not get any beneficence from the spiritual water and one who does not benefit others. Huzur said the Hadith does not cite the second type of person but it is obvious from the earlier citation that it is that person who does not attain any benefit for himself but is beneficial to others. In other words does not put what he knows into practice himself but teaches others to do so. Huzur said true believers should try and be among the first category then alone will they really derive benefit from Al Nafi.
Citing verse 6 of Surah Al Nahl; ‘And the cattle too He has created; you find in them warmth and many other benefits; and some of them you eat.’ (16:6) Huzur said the aforementioned Surah Al Baqarah verse, which is under explanation by Huzur, cites the word ‘daa’ba’ (beasts) whereas this verse cites the word ‘an’am’ (cattle). Huzur said daa’ba connotes all types of animals. Huzur said in spiritual terms ‘daa’ba’ are those believers who derive benefit from the spiritual water and take it to others and thus provide vigour and liveliness. Spiritual winds are also pressed in action for those commissioned by God and they are saved and protected from the opposing winds. Indeed the history of the Ahmadiyya community is a testament to this. Huzur said he receives many letters in his daily post expressing that it is the ‘cool breeze’ of Ahmadiyyat that attracts people to it. Huzur said in particular letters written in the eloquent language of Arabic are most expressive in this instance. Thus our Al Nafi God grants us benefit every second of the day.
Huzur said our opponents call on us to reject Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and say they would embrace us if we did so. As if, we would leave the support of Al Nafi God and go to them, where there is nothing but disorder. Huzur said not only has God guided us but indeed He states in the Holy Qur’an; ‘Say: “Shall we call, beside Allah, upon that which can neither profit us nor harm us, and shall we be turned back on our heels after Allah has guided us, like one whom the evil ones entice away leaving him bewildered in the land, and who has companions who call him to guidance, saying, ‘Come to us?’ ” Say: “Surely, the guidance of Allah is the only guidance and we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of all the worlds.’ (6:72). Huzur explained that real guidance is that which comes from God; would we leave this guidance and go after them who are still embroiled in the abrogation of Quranic verses? And despite belief in One God and One Book are passing edits of disbelief (Kufr) on others? Huzur said God has granted us insight that He sent the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as the last law-bearing Prophet and Who gave him the Holy Qur’an and we have been given this perception by the Imam of the age. Indeed, He continues to demonstrate signs of support for us, just as He promised. If our community was a man-made affair the endeavours of the enemy for the past 120 years would have brought about different results than the continual progress and advancement that God has granted us. We have but always seen the opponents bewildered and this has strengthened our faith. We invite them to come into the fold of the community of the Mahdi and the Messiah (on whom be peace) for in this lies their permanence and the permanence of this world. May God enable them. May He grant us the capacity to derive benefit from His attribute of Al Nafi and grant us the capacity to be beneficial to others. May we partake a measure of the spiritual revolution that is destined through the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace).
Printed from: http://www.alislam.org/archives/friday/FSS20090501-EN.html
Summary of Friday Sermon
Delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
April 24 th, 2009
Huzur gave a discourse on the true significance of the term/word ‘profit’ in his Friday Sermon today.
Huzur said a word that we listen and use in our everyday life a lot is gain/profit. Business people very much rely on this word, be it a street vendor or a person running a multi-million multi-national business. They are ever of the mind-set to maximise their profit through lawful means and these days also through un-lawful means. A person unconnected to the world of business is also aware and mindful of what is advantageous to him/her and for him/her this is seeking his/her benefit. Thus is the worldly usage of this word. However, this word also has a lot of usage in religious and spiritual terms and Huzur said he would give a discourse on this in light of ahadith and Quranic verses.
Huzur said the original Arabic word naf’a (gain/profit) signifies man to avail of something, be of benefit, be of use and beneficial. If the word is pronounced as naf’fa then it connotes a person to be of use/benefit to another. The word naf’a denotes ‘good’, it signifies the means through which a person attains his goal. Indeed Al Nafi (the Benefactor) is a Divine attribute and it means that Being Who is a source of benefit.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) taught us the various ways through which a believer can of benefit/advantage to another. He said it is essential for each Muslim to give alms. He was asked what if a person does not have the means to give alms. The Prophet replied such a person should use their hands to work hard, derive benefit from the work and give alms. He was asked what if a person cannot manage this. The Prophet replied a person in need should help a person in difficulty. It was asked what if this is also not possible. The Prophet replied then such a person should desist from evil and do good, this would be his alms-giving.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that a person who removed a branch of tree from the road with the intention that it did not cause difficulty to another Muslim was admitted entrance to Paradise by God. The Prophet said a person who conceals knowledge through which people’s affairs and matters of religion can be benefitted will be chastised by God in the Hereafter. Huzur said the true profit of a believer is in seeking the pleasure of God, which is eternal and the accounts of which will be settled in the Hereafter.
Huzur explained that alms-giving is to remove the hunger and helplessness of the poor and the disadvantaged.
Hadhrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that she had a goat slaughtered and distributed the meat among the poor, some relatives and kept some for the household. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) came home he enquired how much meat was left. Hadhrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) replied that she had distributed all the meat except one piece of shoulder cut was left. The Prophet replied apart from the piece of shoulder all the meat was saved because the reward is with whatever was given to others, only that is going to be ultimately advantageous.
Huzur said everyone cannot attain the high moral station of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) however, by establishing his blessed model he has taught us to always be mindful of the needy and the disadvantaged. It should always be our viewpoint that the real benefit and gain is what one receives from God. Just as the Companions had asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) what should they do if they did not have the capacity to give alms and the Prophet had told them to work with their hands, earn money so that they could have personal benefit and could also be beneficial to the nation. Huzur said therein is a lesson not to be a burden on the state, to be a ‘hand that gives not a hand that takes’.
Huzur said those living in the Western world are the recipient of social benefits/allowances from the state should reflect over this practice. Those who are unemployed should take on jobs even if they are not in accordance with their education/field etc. One should not be a burden on the state. An Ahmadi in particular should never give false information to receive benefits, such a practice would not be an advantageous dealing, in fact it would be a dealing of total loss. Huzur said the Ahmadis living in the Indian sub-continent and other countries should also always ensure as much as possible to ‘be the hand that gives and not the hand that receives’. As the aforementioned Hadith illustrates the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) enjoined that in the situation where one does not have employment or if one does it is an employment that enables one to barely make ends meet one may help others through being of some service to them. Indeed he set the most excellent example of providing such service himself. An old woman who had come from outside Mecca was incited by many of the locals to stay away from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). They told her he was a magician who allured people to his ways. Purely by chance the old woman happened to meet the Prophet and asked for help and directions as she related her determination to stay away from ‘the person’ she had been warned about. The Prophet carried her belongings for her as he took her to the place she wanted to be and only upon reaching the destination he told her that he indeed was the person she was warned to steer clear of. Her simple reply was ‘in that case, your magic has truly worked on me’.
Huzur referred to the aforementioned Hadith yet again and explained that there are numerous acts of goodness that God has commanded us to do and by doing which we can derive benefit. There are good acts which require no expense, no physical strength but which are high in God’s sight and for which God rewards greatly. These are extremely beneficial dealings for us.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that man should avoid evil and be eagerly inclined to good. He said ‘piety’ is two-faceted: to shun evil and to derive gain from doing good for others. These high stations can only be attained when one has belief in the Divine attributes and has their knowledge. Some people are audacious and do not abide by what God has enjoined and practice what is forbidden – even though they are compliant of the worldly rules and regulations. The reason for this can be that their faith is flawed.
Huzur explained that God commands us to use whatever knowledge we have, be it religious or temporal, to give benefit to others. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) always enjoined to avoid concealing knowledge from others. He was the perfect human being yet he prayed in the presence of his Companions for aspects which he excelled at. This was to teach them the pious ways so that they would practice them and continue to implement them. Two of his prayers are as follows:
‘O Allah I seek Your refuge from that heart which is not afraid, from that prayer which is not accepted and from that self (nafs) which is not satiated and from that knowledge which is of no benefit. I come in Your refuge from these four aspects.’
‘O my Allah I seek that knowledge from You which is beneficial, that provision which is wholesome and that deed which is worthy of acceptance.’
Huzur said God’s help is forthcoming when one prays with the mediation of His most beloved person and for this we also have to put his blessed model in practice. Another of his prayers is:
‘O my Allah, grant me Your love and grant me the love of that person whose love will benefit me in Your sight. O’ my Allah, make those things from among my favourite things that You have granted me and those that You like, a source of my strength. O my Allah, grant me release from those of my favourite things that You have kept away from me. Make those things dear to me that You like.’
Citing from the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) Huzur referred to verse 93 of Surah Al e Imran ‘Never shall you attain to righteousness unless you spend out of which you love…’ (3:93) and said that man has a love of wealth but Allah has stated the above verse as a benchmark of real faith. Love of one’s nation and creation of God is part of one’s faith and unless one sacrifices one cannot provide benefit to another and this Quranic verse teaches sacrifice.
Huzur said by virtue of the Divine attribute of Al Nafi (the Benefactor) it is God alone Who can grant benefit and good. Man can only derive benefit for himself or indeed be of benefit to others only if God’s will is with him. This is why the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) taught us to try and become a beneficial person by seeking God’s help for He is the true Benefactor and man can but only adopt His attributes on a human level in accordance to his individual capacity.
Huzur cited verse 67 of Surah Al Anbiya ‘He said, ‘Do you then worship instead of Allah that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?’ and explained that some ways of associating partners with God (shirk) are apparent while others are concealed. For example, at time of difficulty to be only mindful of worldly sources and to give undue attention to worldly ways and means. Huzur said of course worldly ways and means can be of any use only if God so wills. Huzur related an incident of a man who was looking for employment and met someone who told him that he knew a person very high-up who could help. He took his friend to see the successful person who agreed to offer him a position but asked him to come the next day to confirm this. Next morning the person arrived at the workplace on his bicycle and was stopped by security at the gate. Most confidently he told the security person who he was there to meet but was informed that the certain high-ranking person he had come to see had suffered a heart-attack before coming in to work and had passed away. Huzur said such is the result of relying on others and not on God.
Huzur cited verses 89-90 of Surah Al Shu’ara ‘The Day when wealth and sons shall not avail; but he alone will be saved who comes to Allah with a submissive heart.’ and said that if one does not practice piety, does not worship God, then it is pointless to feel smug about one’s wealth and family. If one’s offspring can be of use to one that is only in the instance when they remain firm on the good practices and piety of their parents. Explaining the Quranic term ‘submissive heart’ (qalb e saleem) as cited in the aforementioned verse Huzur said it is that heart which is free from the contamination of associating any partners to God, which is completely free of weakness of faith, which is free of any kind of deceit, is free even from the thought of wishing harm to another, is free from moral waywardness and is a heart that has compassion for others. Huzur prayed that may Allah grant us hearts that practice good and seek His pleasure. Huzur read an extract of the Promised Messiah’s (on whom be peace) writing in which he expounds his wish to have people who are mutually beneficial and of use to each other in his community. Huzur prayed that may we be enabled to attain these standard which the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) set out before us in light of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).