Preparing for Tomorrow – Raising Pious Children

October 2017

Address to the Ladies, delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and 5th Successor to the Promised Messiah, on the occasion of Jalsa Salana UK (Annual Convention), Saturday, July 29, 2017 at Hadeeqatul Mahdi (Alton)

Raising the next generation of leaders is the best way we can improve society, and that rests on good parenting and nurturing of our children.
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After Tashahud, Taawuz and the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah, His Holinessaba recited the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:

‘“O Ye who believe! Fear Allah; and let every soul look to what it sends forth for the morrow. And fear Allah; verily Allah is well aware of what you do.’”1

This commandment of God Almighty is for both men and women. This verse is one of the verses recited at the occasion of the nikah [Islamic wedding ceremony].

Both men and women are advised to tread the path of righteousness while keeping tomorrow in mind. It is common knowledge that the root cause of every immorality or sin lies in a careless attitude towards understanding what God Almighty and His Prophetsa desires from us. No effort is made to understand the commandments given in the Holy Qur’an even though the Holy Qur’an provides us with complete guidance for leading our lives.

Chasing money or wealth over the needs of our children will be detrimental both to our own families and to society at large.
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God Almighty says that if you are a believer, then both men and women should keep this basic principle in mind:  you must tread the path of righteousness and lead your life accordingly. You should always worry about tomorrow and your future. And this worry for the future should not be about worldly desires, but rather about your moral and spiritual well-being: how to stay faithful to God Almighty, how to always show loyalty to God Almighty and how to make His commandments an essential aspect of your daily life. Once this sense of concern becomes a part of your lives, only then will we be able to live our lives like a believer and only then will we be able to adorn our life in the hereafter. Once we make it a firm resolve and a part of our faith that this world is only temporary and the hereafter is the real and everlasting life, once we have a firm faith of the accountability of our actions in the hereafter, once we have firm faith that God is Almighty and the Knower of the hidden and the apparent and that He even knows our secrets and what lies deep down in the recesses of our hearts, and that He is All-aware of the seen and the unseen, then we must carefully ponder over these words of God Almighty that “every soul look to what it sends forth for the morrow”. Ponder over what you have done to please God Almighty and what you have done to secure the future generation. The morrow should not be only the next day of our own life or the hereafter but it also pertains to our children: to raise them piously, to raise them with the highest morals, to raise them with a firm resolve in their faith, to raise them as loyal citizens and to make them excel in every aspect of life. This will not only adorn their lives in this world, and their lives in the hereafter and earn the pleasure of God Almighty, but it will also make us deserving of reward owing to the good upbringing we provided them. God Almighty does not let any good deed go by without a reward, then how could He not reward you for the works that you do purely to follow His commandment? Leaving behind pious children who pray for us will also adorn our future because they will continue our good deeds and pray for us and this will become a means of elevating our ranks in the hereafter.

Therefore, the tomorrow which God Almighty has told to us to be concerned about and stated that we should ponder over what we send forth for it has a broad meaning. The morrow pertains to our future life in this world and the hereafter. It pertains to the commandment of shaping our own and the next generation’s lives. God Almighty has shown us the path of earning His pleasure through this one commandment. However, a worldly person could never reach this level. A materialistic person will only think about accumulating wealth and property and will not be concerned about his spirituality or God Almighty’s pleasure.

A true believer, however, is commanded that although it is permissible to enjoy the worldly favours of God Almighty, it is wrong to only indulge in them and to not be concerned about your spiritual life. If you fail to raise your children well, they will eat away and waste all your wealth in no time. If they are not raised well they will indulge in immoral habits and ultimately be caught by law enforcement. At that moment wealth and money will not be of any use. The Promised Messiahas used to narrate an incident in this regard. He said:

“A young boy was very dear to his mother. It was his habit to be mischievous, indulge in wrongful acts and to harm people. Then he started stealing here and there. People used to grab him and bring him to his mother but she would always side with him. She knowingly covered up his actions. She would say, ‘Nothing has happened, it is not like my child to do such thing, you are only blaming him.’ This child grew up causing trouble, encouraged by his mother’s wrongful love and spoiling. He became hardened in his sinful habits only to become a thief and a murderer. One day at last the law caught him. He was sentenced ‘To be hanged till death’. At the time of his execution he was asked if he had a last wish. He said his one last wish was that his mother be brought in to see him. When his mother [arrived and] came near him, she asked about his last wish. He said, ‘Mother I am going to die now but before I die I would like to kiss your tongue’. His mother stuck her tongue out so he could kiss it but he bit it so violently that half of her tongue was severed. The mother started screaming and crying and people condemned him for hurting his mother in his last moments. Hearing this he said, ‘Whenever I did something wrong and people brought me to my mother, instead of chiding me or guiding me, she unjustly covered up my wicked actions. I was encouraged so much so that I became a hardened criminal. Had she guided me right, become angry at this behaviour, admonished me or punished me, I would have not seen this day. Therefore a mother and her tongue that kept encouraging my sinful behaviour should have ended exactly in the way it did.’’2

This is a great lesson for those mothers who get caught in the moment and spoil their children and do not think about their own future or their child’s future. They only worry about accumulating wealth or acquiring the luxuries of this life. Thousands of people go bankrupt every year including successful businessmen. Their parents have left them wealth and property, but debt causes them to lose everything and end up empty-handed. Then they commit suicide or indulge in immoral acts. Had they been raised with the right guidance they would have developed a balanced nature and would not have been consumed by worldly provisions. They could have enjoyed the pleasures of this world and at the same time elevated their spiritual level. If we see some children of non-Ahmadi women raised in this way, we could say that it is due to the lack of any arrangement for their children’s moral training. However an Ahmadi woman who has accepted the Imam of the age, has a responsibility that she should elevate her own spirituality and raise her children so that they give precedence to their faith over the world.

One can argue that there are many people who are well-off and prosperous in this world. They start out rich from the wealth they have acquired from their ancestors and continue to become wealthier with time. They are fraudulent in their business pursuits and have other vices and yet they are never caught. So here God Almighty has pointed out that we should worry about tomorrow because while no doubt some people are in comfortable circumstances, however you, who claim to be a believer, you, who claim to have accepted the Imam of the age, you, who claim that you have accepted the true servant of our beloved Holy Prophetsa and you, who claim that after taking bai’at [oath of initiation] at his hand, you have acquired the means for your reformation, then you should in particular be mindful for tomorrow and what you are preparing for the hereafter.

Those who have neither faith nor spirituality show no concern in regards to their future or the hereafter. They are actually helpless and excusable because they consider this world to be everything and they do not watch for their spiritual well-being in the hereafter. God Almighty says that there awaits a life after death and if someone escapes punishment for their wrongs in this world they will certainly be held accountable for it in the next.

However, you, who claim to be spiritual, must prepare for both worlds. We, who claim to belong to the community of the one who is commissioned by God Almighty; we, who firmly believe in the finality of the Holy Prophetsa and that he is the final law-bearing prophet and the book revealed to him is a complete guidance for us to reform in this life and the next, we must bring about a pious change in our lives and we must strive to follow all the commandments. We must become role models for our next generation so that our future, our progeny consists of those who continue to earn God Almighty’s pleasure.

Women are honoured in Islam, to the extent that paradise is said to be found at the feet of one’s mother.
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Islam has placed the primary responsibility for training our next generation on mothers. It is women who can secure the future, not only of one generation but also of the subsequent generation. If a woman does not understand God Almighty’s commandments or does not even make an effort to understand them, then we cannot guarantee that the next generation will be morally trained.

Our beloved Holy Prophetsa has pointed out the high status of a true Muslim woman. His assertion was not an emotional or trivial statement; in fact, by giving women the responsibility of reforming the next generation and securing their future in this world and the next, he has given their life purpose [and meaning]. In one sentence, he gave women the utmost status while drawing their attention to their responsibilities, by saying:

“Paradise lies under the feet of the mothers.”3

In this sentence, on the one hand he gave glad tidings to women regarding their high status, and on the other hand, he warned that if a mother does not carry paradise under her feet, she carries hell, one example of which I have given you in [recounting] the incident of the thief and murderer.

Fathers play a key role in the development of the next generation and they should lead by example: helping their wives to instil the right core values in their children.
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Thus, paradise lies under the mother’s feet because due to her upbringing the child grows up to be a good citizen, to be an asset for his nation and to be a person who gives precedence to his faith over this world. It should also be remembered here that moral upbringing is blessed only when the mother is also praying. By watching their mother pray, children will also be inclined to pray. So the training should not only be an outward training but it is also important for a mother to pray so that she develops a strong relationship with God Almighty.

There is no doubt that fathers should also keep in mind that their spiritual level and their standard of worship should be very high, because after a certain age boys do start looking up to their fathers. I receive many letters from children, however, who say that their mother’s pious influence and guidance has influenced them, but that their father neither pays attention to them nor to their mother. Children do complain about such behaviour and sadly some of them end up spoiled, although a large number of them are still saved by their mothers’ prayers. Therefore, if mothers have made up their mind and have firmly resolved that they are going to save their children from being wasted, they must tread the path of righteousness –  then the children will also remain attached to their faith even when the husband is non-cooperative, cruel or has a bad attitude.

So I would say to fathers that they should also play their part in making their homes like paradise. Don’t place the sole responsibility on mothers. When men express their love at home and fulfil their responsibilities then a mother’s pious training is more fruitful. Mothers, however, should not use [men’s behaviour] as an excuse by saying that since their men are not cooperative therefore they are helpless. As I have said earlier there are many families where despite the fathers’ wrong attitude, the children grow up to be well-trained in in religion as well as good citizens owing to their mothers’ efforts.

Boys who are well-trained by [their] mothers will grow up to become husbands and fathers who act righteously. They will possess high morals and they will help their wives make their home like paradise. Thus, if mothers cannot control one generation because they have no influence over the fathers, they can still control the next generation by training their boys to become good future fathers and husbands. And by training their daughters well, they will be raising future mothers who will carry paradise under their feet.

Hence, this is a huge responsibility that Islam places on the believers, and our Holy Prophetsa has described this in such a beautiful and profound manner. Therefore, our women and girls should always keep this in mind.

In Germany a press representative mentioned that these days a huge issue has been raised in regards to why women cannot become the Imams of a mosque. I explained to her that a woman is excused from worship and saying prayers during certain days and in certain circumstances. Besides, in Islam there is a division of responsibilities among men and women. Islam assigns some tasks to men and others to women. Furthermore, while Islam instructs a man to help out his wife in the daily household chores, as is evident from the life and practice of our beloved Holy Prophetsa, it has never advised women that they must also help in men’s responsibilities. We learn from the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa how he used to help his wives in their household chores.4 So I explained that Islam excuses women from fulfilling certain commandments in specific circumstances. However, those commandments are such that an Imam cannot be exempt from them and must perform those duties. Besides, Islam has a division of tasks relating to men and women.

Also Muslims are not as concerned by this issue as the non-Muslims are and it is they who distort and project this issue of Imamat [leading prayer] and speak out about it. In fact, the status which Islam has given to women is much higher than [that of] leading the prayers. The Holy Prophetsa says:

‘Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers.’

An Imam who leads the prayers cannot guarantee that those who are following him in prayers will be sent to heaven! On the contrary such narrations are found that if an improper thought crosses the Imam’s mind then he bears the burden of all the inappropriate thoughts of all those following him. How would he guarantee heaven for them? A woman on the other hand is someone who in respect of being a mother prepares good Imams for the future and thus leads them to heaven. She raises good citizens. She raises good scientists. She raises good rulers for the country. Therefore, the status of women is much higher in Islam. A true Muslim woman, an Ahmadi Muslim woman, therefore, should have no inferiority complex.

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Recently, a news report was widely circulated that a Muslim woman has built a mosque in Germany where the Imam will be a woman. Men and women will offer their prayers together. Also, women will not have to cover their heads and they will not be required to wear scarves. She announced her intention to come to the UK and do the same.

These issues are raised out of a lack of understanding of the religion and because of an inferiority complex in women. Anything that is introduced into faith and goes against the teachings of God and His Prophetsa is considered a [harmful] invention. These innovations are brought into religion out of ignorance. Or it could be a well-thought-out scheme by the opponents of Islam who seek to conspire and cause the dissolution of  Islam. The other religions are already disintegrated and it hurts them to see that Islam is still in its original form. Therefore this is an effort to corrupt Islam. The Holy Qur’an claims that Islam has always been protected, its commandments are everlasting and God Almighty will continue to always protect it.

This is not easy for the powers working against Islam to accept. Thus they are trying, and will continue, to introduce new practices to Islam. Once the Holy Qur’an has clearly stated that a woman should dress modestly and cover herself, introducing the idea that scarves are not required, or that lengthy and loose modest clothes are not required any more or that women need not hide their embellishments any more, are nothing but an effort to distort Islam. Furthermore, it is also wrong for men and women to stand together and pray. Once God Almighty has commanded the separation of genders during prayers then there is no need to be influenced by the opponents of Islam and do things differently. The worldly people, who are spiritually blind, could never grasp the significance of following God’s commandments.

Once a leader of a political party came here to visit me and asked whether there would ever come a time when men and women would pray together. I told him that such a time is not awaited since it had already occurred a long time ago. In the time of the Holy Prophetsa, prayers were said in the same room. Men used to stand in the front rows while women stood behind them. This method could still be practiced if the circumstances required. However, now women have themselves felt the need to say prayers in separate halls so that they are free during prayers and when they are not offering prayers they can freely sit with their scarves off their heads. I also told him that not all men have the same thoughts. Prayer is worship and if we stand our women in the front rows or alongside us then most of the men would be watching the women instead of focusing on their prayers. He laughed and said, “You are absolutely right.” I came to know later that this political leader had been repeating my answer in his future meetings and agreed that this answer was very logical and based on truth.

Therefore those people who deviate and try to introduce [harmful] new practices to Islam are wrong. They are actually mocking their own religion. In the name of Islam they are saying these things while they call themselves Muslims. They are making a mockery of their own religion and this is due to a lack of knowledge about religion and sheer ignorance.  Muslims were bound to come to this stage because the Holy Prophetsa prophesied that Muslims one day would act like this.

The other extreme end of Muslims is those who perpetrate cruelties against women in the name of Islam and [where] women are highly abused and have no value. This is why God Almighty sent an Imam in this age, the Promised Messiahas and the Imam Mahdi so that the excesses that have been introduced and that deficiencies in the practice of Islam, taught by different Islamic scholars which led Muslims to be either too lenient or too extreme, could be rectified. These [harmful] new customs are being introduced to the teachings of Islam for either personal convenience or, at the other extreme, to impose too many restrictions.

Whatever wrongs had been introduced were to be corrected by the Promised Messiahas. Muslims at both of these extremes were to be shown the right path by the Promised Messiahas, as he did. So we Ahmadis are fortunate to have accepted him. After accepting the Promised Messiahas, if we still have an inferiority complex or show weakness in giving precedence to our faith over this world, then it is a cause of great concern and a point of embarrassment.  Always remember that the word of God will prevail and is without any flaw.

Man-made laws and regulations can never be free of defects. Recently we heard that a lady from Sweden, who organises musical concerts on a large scale, has announced that at their annual concert this year only women will be invited to the concert. Men will not be invited. Her reason was that in the past years they experienced that men exhibited lewd and vulgar behaviour towards the women, and in some cases ending in rape.

This is the consequence of mixed gatherings. That is why Islam teaches us that if you see a remote possibility of such disorder, you should avoid it. Now those who level objections against Islam are accepting the fact that in some situations separation of gender is wise. In some places the  option of making separate organizations for men and women has been discussed. This worldly society is also sensing the need of separating men and women. Those who level allegations against us regarding the segregation of genders are now accepting the fact that in some situations separation is a must.5 Therefore, an Ahmadi woman should strongly believe that our teaching is the one that will triumph and their efforts in the name of freedom of women will only fail.

The Promised Messiahas further explained the need to keep men and women separate in the light of the Islamic teachings. He says:

“This is the philosophy that underlies the Islamic regulations relating to the observance of the veil. The Book of God does not aim at keeping women in seclusion like prisoners. This is the concept of those who are not acquainted with the correct pattern of Islamic ways. The purpose of these regulations is to restrain men and women from letting their eyes rove freely and from displaying their good looks and beauties, for therein lies the good both of men and of women.”

The Promised Messiahas further states:

“It should be remembered that to restrain one’s looks and to direct them only towards observing that which is permissible is described in Arabic by the expression ghadd-e-basar [lowering of the eyes or averting one’s gaze so that one does not see anything inappropriate], which is the expression employed in the Holy Qur’an in this context.”6

If it is necessary to look ateach other it should be with semi-opened eyes. But mostly one should keep their eyes cast down. To avoid glancing improperly is also called ghadd-e-basar. The Promised Messiahas further states:

“Those who insist on the relaxation of Purdah [veil] and raise slogans in the name of women’s freedom should know that this would only cause evil and disobedience. This will drive you away from your religion and gradually you will be caught in other vices.”

The Promised Messiahas also adds:

“If freedom of the sexes has helped increase their chastity and virtue, we will readily confess that we were mistaken.”

The Promised Messiahas goes on to say:

“Look at men, how unbridled their behaviour is!” (The Promised Messiahas has also admonished men here and described their state). “They have neither fear of God nor faith in the hereafter. They only worship mundane pleasures. Thus, it is necessary that, before granting the kind of freedom that is being advocated, the moral condition of men should be improved and rectified. After men have developed enough self-temperance to restrain of their passions, you may consider whether the veil is necessary or not. To insist upon unrestricted freedom in the present circumstances would be like putting sheep at the mercy of lions.”7

The lady who organises the concerts has said exactly the same thing that the Promised Messiahas has stated. She said they couldn’t have men and women together until men understood and guaranteed that women will be respected and men will fully control their passions. Today this voice has been raised, and though it has come from those who are related to the music and dance industry, still, someone has realized the dangers of bringing men and women together. Those teachings given by our religion many hundreds of years ago, and which were expounded upon by the Promised Messiahas one hundred and twenty five years ago, are finally understood by these people who have experienced for themselves that shamelessness has become widespread. One day they will have to fully agree that it is the teaching of Islam that is everlasting and grants the guidance to mankind to remain in the boundaries of humanity.

Therefore, a true Muslim woman should have no inferiority complex. We cannot board two boats or we will be drowned. Once you have taken the pledge to give precedence to your faith over worldly pursuits then you have to follow the commandments of God Almighty.

God Almighty says that the men should cast their gaze down and this injunction is given to men first. They have to practice ghadd-e-basar and refrain from looking at women unnecessarily. They should avoid attending women’s gatherings. Only by following this commandment can men avoid further vices and shape their world and their hereafter.

After that God Almighty says to women that they should lower their gaze and are not to expose their embellishments to men and maintain their sanctity. Thus, once women follow this commandment, only then would they keep themselves and their next generations on the path of modesty.

So when I say to women that they should set high standards in their worship, morals and also adopt modesty in their dressing and become models for their children and thus secure their future, I say to men as well that they should also become models for their children. And particularly those men and women who are office-bearers should set high standards for their children. Simply holding an office and working for Lajna is not enough. They have to be mindful of these issues. They have to become role models for their own households and for those working under them.

These days the burqa [long robe, gown, or covering that covers the form and shape of the body] has taken many forms. Some people button their burqas only down to their stomach, leaving the rest open to reveal attractive outfits. They make these burqas by cutting the cloth tangentially so that the clothes [underneath] are exposed. In the time of the Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra objections were also levelled against such style of burqas. At the time Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

“Some burqas are open from the front showing the outfits.” Even then, people objected, just as they do today, to certain burqa designs being too tight from the back. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra stated:

“I have received complaints from people that the burqas are either open from the front or they are inappropriate from the back.”

And so, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra advised the Lajna by saying:

“You should design your burqas yourselves as you know how to design them in a way so that they properly cover [you] and are also convenient.’8

Today, again we have the same need that burqas should serve the purpose of modesty as well as be convenient to manage during work. If you leave your clothes open for display then do not expect that men will keep their eyes down. They will examine you from head to toe. Some married couples and families are already suffering the consequences of these issues. Therefore, I would like to advise you that instead of racing towards the trends and fashions of this world you should excel in the race of religion.

Adorn yours and your children’s future in this world and in the hereafter. Once you give precedence to God Almighty over everything else and in every aspect of your life, then God Almighty promises in the Holy Qur’an

[“But for him who fears to stand before his Lord, are two Gardens.”]9

Expounding on this verse, the Promised Messiahas says:

“Those who reach out to God Almighty with truth and sincerity are never wasted and they are blessed with the favours of God Almighty in both worlds. Just as God Almighty said:

[‘For him who fears to stand before his Lord, are two Gardens.’]10 

This has been stated so that no one should think that by coming towards Me (i.e. going towards God Almighty) one would have to give up everything in this world. Instead they would inherit two paradises; one in this world and the other in the hereafter.”11

Thus we have to remember that God Almighty wants us to keep our eyes on tomorrow. Thus we would be able to inherit the paradise of this world as well as the next. God Almighty does not limit the freedom of women. God Almighty desires that men and women stay within their own sphere of responsibilities and thus create an atmosphere of paradise in this world and also inherit the paradise of the afterlife by treading on the paths that enable them to earn His pleasure.

May God Almighty enable everyone to live in a way that their actions become a source of God’s pleasure and they inherit paradise in both worlds!

Please join me in silent prayer.’


Endnote

1. The Holy Qur’an, 59:19.
2. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfuzat, vol. 2, (UK: 1985), 373.
3. Ali ibn Abd-al-Malik al-Hindi, Kanz al-Ummal, vol.6, (Beirut: Dar Al Kotob Al Ilmiyah, 2004), Hadith no. 45431.
4. Sahihul Bukhari, Kitab ul Adab Baab Kaifa Yakunu Al-Rajalu fi Ahlehi, Hadith no. 6039.
5, “Sweden To Hold ‘Man-Free’ Music Festival,” BBC News, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40504452.
6. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, Ruhani Khazain vol.10, 344.
7. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfuzat, Vol. 7, (UK: 1985), 134-136.
8. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmoodra, Mastoorat se Khitaab, Anwar ul Uloom vol.12, 560-561).
9.The Holy Qur’an, 55:47.
10. The Holy Qur’an, 55:47.
11. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfuzat, vol. 10, (UK: 1985), 78.

 

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