Student Review

Remembrance of God – Pt. 1

“Therefore remember Me, and I will remember you; and be thankful to Me and do not be ungrateful to Me.” [2:153] 

The Remembrance of God is perhaps the most important and fundamental reason for our entire existence.

Here’s why.

There is nothing that can bring true peace to our hearts like remembering our Creator. As human beings, we have many wishes and desires. These wishes and desires are endless. If we were given one mountain of gold we would want another. The only true thing which provides content in our hearts is the development of a relationship with Allah; to cultivate communion with God.

The second caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community  gave a speech in the Qadian Jalsa of 1924, regarding this topic. He said:
“Often, I receive letters of prayers from many people and they request different things. Some person requests that I pray for their job, another requests that I pray for his education, another requests prayers for their spouse. But very rarely do people request prayers that they develop a deeper communion with Allah. What they do not understand is that if they do develop a deeper tie with Allah then they will be free of all other worries also. And, this is the only remedy which will bring them eternal bliss.”

The sole purpose for which The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) brought his message to this world was so that we recognise our Lord and Creator. The sole purpose for 124,000 other Prophets coming into this world was also the same. His holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) often wrote that his purpose was similarly to bring humanity closer to God.

“The world cannot accept me, because I do not belong to this world. But those who are gifted with a measure of otherworldliness are the ones who accept and will accept me. The one who rejects me rejects Him who has sent me, and the one who is grafted to me is grafted to Him Whom I represent. I bear a torch which will illumine all those who come close to me, but the one who entertains suspicion and doubt and runs away from me will be subjected to darkness. I am the impregnable fortress for this age; whoever enters my fold will be protected from thieves, robbers and the beasts of the wilderness.” (Ruhani Khazain Vol.3: Fatah Islam, p34)

I have personally seen the importance of this at University. For many of us who move out of our homes to University accommodation, it can often be tempting to indulge in un-Islamic acts. Being alone and isolated does not help. In my own struggles, I would often use different methods to tackle such temptations. But there was never a true remedy to my anxieties except in the remembrance of God. It was only through this that my heart found rest and my worries evaporated. I found no better cure for the ailment of my heart than seeking the face of my Beloved.

By Naveed Mirza

This article is the first in a two-part series on creating a relationship with God. Stay tuned for the next part “Befriending God Almighty” later on this week!

Connections with the Divine

As a student, I often find myself sitting in a lecture, surrounded by hundreds of other students. All are eager, all relentless to attain the top marks, secure the best internship, and land the best job. The competition is fierce; everyone’s future uncertain. Our modern life puts immense pressures on our minds. It propels the dogma that our self-worth is related solely to our careers. Our value is based on how occupied we are, how ‘busy’ we appear, and how many ‘things’ we can accumulate.

In this atmosphere of materialism, the perpetual worry of the future can blind us to our present. It can cloud our vision and prevent us from recognising that our purpose is beyond just having a successful career; indeed, it is much greater. The human brain is estimated to have approximately 86 billion neurons. Each neuron itself forms thousands of connections. Our society has us chasing paltry Facebook and LinkedIn connections, while the Real Connection those billions of neurons were intended to make, receive no attention – a connection with your Creator.

Whether you are just starting in University or are well into your career, these pressures will remain. Especially in the beginning, it will be extremely tough to find your footing and build an identity that often goes against the tide of society. There is only one drill that can strengthen your grip and prevent you from being swept by the wave of worldliness. Such solace lies only with God, and now is perhaps the best time to develop that bond which can weather all the storms of your life.

Allah says: ‘Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer’(40:61) and then again He says, ‘And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me…’ (2:187).

God is limitless. There is nothing beyond His scope. Our personal worries and challenges are completely insignificant in the grand scheme of the world, nay the Universe. Yet, it is always amazing that when you feel that there is no way out of difficulty, no path of refuge, God finds a way for those who seek His help.

For example, once a very dear friend of mine was taking his exam for admission into Law School (the LSAT). He had wanted to become a lawyer since a very early age. He had extensive extracurricular interests and hobbies, worked extremely hard to get the top grades, and had completed all the steps to make him a competitive applicant. Only one exam remained, a grueling one nonetheless. He diligently studied for months but when he received his results, he was devastated. He had done quite badly, and he knew he could never get into any law school with that score. Worries and anxieties began to mount. While all his peers finished university and went off to their careers or other schools, he was left behind. Hopeless and defeated, he felt his dream withering away.

‘The words of God can never fail

Yet he resolved, and began to pray very earnestly to God. He even began to keep optional fasts and offered long prayers seeking God’s help. He told me that he then saw a dream that had given him peace of mind. In the dream, he was at an airport where his flight was being called. He was running towards the gate but could sense the flight was going to leave without him. Eventually, he heard over the airport intercom that the plane had departed without him. Shortly thereafter, the voice on the intercom said that although he had missed this flight, he would surely catch the second one which was about to depart. Then he awoke from his dream.

The dream truly came to fulfillment as my friend re-took his LSAT, did exceedingly well, received admission into Law School, and became a lawyer.

God says, ‘And (Allah) will provide for him from where he expects not. And he who puts his trust in Allah — He is sufficient for him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. For everything has Allah appointed a measure.’ (65:4)

So, as we embark into our lives and build our careers, why not also build that connection with the Almighty One. If we build our trust in Him, and safeguard our identity, we too can be the recipients of His blessings and protection. The words of God can never fail. There is no ambiguity or uncertainty, but only deep conviction in, ‘Allah will accomplish His purpose’ (65:4). So, while our peers may rely solely on their intellect and their hard work, we should use this impressionable time of our youth to utilise those billions of neurons to make a connection with The Ultimate Creator. If we become God’s, then God will become ours. If we place that trust with God, we can feel confident that our efforts will never go to waste. With hard work, conviction, and prayers, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

On this matter, the Promised Messiah (as), Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community wrote:

“It is true that most of the prayers of those who are accepted of God are accepted. Indeed, their great miracle is the acceptance of their prayers. When their hearts are sorely distressed at a time of misfortune and in their distress, they turn to God; at that time their hand becomes, as it were, the Hand of God. God is a hidden treasure. Through His perfect favourites He displays His countenance. No one loves his son so much as God loves those who become wholly His. He displays His wonders for them and manifests such power on their behalf as if a sleeping tiger wakes up. God is hidden and these are the people who make Him manifest. He is behind a thousand veils and these are the people who display His countenance.

[Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, pp. 20-21, The Essence of Islam Vol. 2, pg. 216]

By Sinwan Basharat

Follow the author on twitter: @SinwanB

The Web of a Believer – A Student’s Reflection on a Quranic Verse

The case of those who take helpers beside Allah is like unto the case of the spider, who makes for herself a house; and surely the frailest of all houses is the house of the spider, if they but knew! [29:42]

This verse is from Surah Al-Ankabut, chapter 29 of the Holy Qur’an. The word ‘Ankabut’ is Arabic for ‘Spider,’ and a predominant theme of the Chapter is striving hard in life, despite the persecutions or personal troubles that may befall you. I find this particular verse especially beautiful – it compares lives of the disbelievers to the web of a spider. Spiders weave magnificent webs. They are of all different patterns and shapes, and the silk which they use to construct their webs are extraordinary. Spider silk is amongst the strongest fibre on earth, more durable and elastic than any natural or synthetic fibre. It is up to six times stronger than high-grade steel per weight, more elastic even than Kevlar, which is used to make bulletproof vests. It is so complex and strong that even humans have been unable to artificially replicate it.

As I read about spider’s silk I realised better the lesson that this Qur’anic verse was alluding to. Each of us, like a spider, creates and possesses our own webs of life of actions and people and stories. And as we create these webs we think them to be strong and firm. We take care of our webs, we take every precaution to ensure that every part of our web is sustained, that nothing can ruin or damage it. We work hard for exams, thinking that if we work then success is guaranteed – that the professional-life section of the web will remain intact. We make friends and spend time with family, taking care of one another, finding it hard to envisage the personal-life section of the web falling apart. We take care to see a doctor when we’re unwell and get treated when needed, maintaining the ‘health’ section of our web intact. (more…)

A Word of Advice

Before he died, Imam Bashir Rafiq sahib, formerly the Imam of the London Mosque, wrote a message of guidance to his children. This message contains deep wisdom and pertinent advice, and thus has been republished with permission from his son on Student Review for the benefit of all readers.

My dear All! Please read this carefully. Do not delete it or leave it to be read at a later stage.

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

A Word of Advice to My Children

I embarked on the vessel of my life on 12th September 1931. Having made stops at 81 stages the boat is now sailing towards the final destination of the worldly life and that cannot be too distant. The last stage will be in the ‘Hereafter’. During the last 81 years my vessel has been through some huge and some small whirlpools and it was pounded a great deal. On occasion, the boat had to face gale-force winds and storms. On two occasions, the hurricanes were so ruthless that the vessel of my life nearly went under. These two deadly spiritual ordeals turned my life upside down. Had the Divine hand not helped me I wonder what would have happened? However, by the sheer Mercy and Grace of Allah, in spite of apparent deadly trials, I emerged relatively unscathed. Alhamdulillah.

At every step of the way, I have seen the Divine hand of help over my head and I have full faith and confidence in it. In the Holy Quran the Almighty has said:

“I am near and I hear the suplications of my servants and accept them. I am close to My servants. I hear their cries and respond.” [2:187]

On very many occasions, I have witnessed this fact i.e. My Maker is nearest to me.

Some time ago, I read the autobiography of Sardar Kushwant Singh. He writes that ‘many say that God is omnipresent but I have never felt that way’. I was very greatly surprised that such an extremely eminent and famous writer, journalist, intellectual and well versed person should be ignorant of this fact. Even a feeble, humble and ignorant person like me has witnessed and experienced at every step that God is always present, He is closer to us than our jugular vein, He speaks and He responds. When we are downcast, He raises our spirits. The doorway to His treasury is always wide open for those who solicit. The only condition is that one should ask. (more…)

Life Lessons from Refugees Pt.2 – Student Talk

The following is Part 2 of the transcript of a ‘Student Talk’ delivered by Damir Rafi at the AMSA Student Retreat 2016. For Part 1 click here.

Whilst spending time with these asylum seekers and refugees, I noticed that despite their sufferings and hardships, the kindness that they possessed was extraordinary. I felt almost embarrassed, with my cushy Western life that I did not earn, as the asylum seekers took an interest in my own life and helped me extensively with the research I was doing.

More than that, I saw lights of kindness shining in the eyes of the staff at the charity foundation. These were people who are paid little, rewarded little, having to go far above and beyond their job description to help the asylum seekers and refugees. These are people who keep going despite being blamed by the asylum seekers for the problems they encounter – not out of malice, but simply because they are unaware of the system and the hoops that the staff have to go through to accomplish anything. They are people who I have seen refunding refugees’ travel costs out of their own pocket. They are people who work long hours doing a job that is distinctly unglamorous, helping people who are the most downtrodden and least ‘fashionable’ in society.

Unfortunately nowadays we live in an ultra-materialistic, hyper-consumerist world in which, for too many people, the only things with value are those that we can materially benefit from, rather than things that will spiritually enhance us, such as the simple act of helping others who need it. We, as a society decide which human lives are valuable and which are not based on our own conceptions of worldly beauty and elegance, forgetting that we all share the same DNA. As the Qur’an asks the reader:

‘What is the matter with you that you help not one another?’ [Holy Qur’an, 37:26]

Refugees are nameless, faceless, as we hear about them in the news – all too easy for us a society to turn our backs and shut our eyes. These weeks I spent reminded me of the very human problems that we as a global community face. (more…)

Life Lessons From Refugees – Student Talk

The following is Part 1 of the transcript of a ‘Student Talk’ delivered by Damir Rafi at the AMSA Student Retreat 2016. 

When I was younger I used to wish I could have a superpower. Perhaps the power to fly, or to teleport or to travel through time. Perhaps to be able to move objects through willpower, but mostly, having watched Gandalf in ‘Lord of the Rings,’ and having imagined the staff of Hadhrat Musa (as) through my childhood imagination, I wished to be able to possess a magic, lightning producing staff, like I perceived him to have had. I, like many people, used to dream of having these superpowers because I realised they would make me exceptional, they would draw others towards me, they would enable me to attain respect and love and awe from the world.

As I grew older I slowly, but surely, began to realise two things. Firstly, that what the world thought of me what not so important, rather more important was to stand by and uphold my principles, forged by my belief in God and in Islam, and also to be at one with my conscience. It didn’t matter whether the world approved or not. But secondly, as I realised earlier this year, it struck me that even if attaining those superpowers were possible, there is a better way of drawing others towards oneself. (more…)

What Star Wars Taught me about the Real Dark Side

What do Voldemort, Emperor Palpatine, and Sauron have in common? Well ok, zero marks if you said they’re all villains. Ten marks if you said that Sauron and Voldemort have rather a lot in common (rings/horcruxes, Death Eaters/ Ringwraiths…). But there’s something else about these villains, and so many others in fiction, that renders them all into one unique class—one which makes for brilliant fiction but bears absolutely no resemblance to real life.

They all knew that they were the villains. And they accepted it. (more…)

Why Do We Dream?

In September 2015 AMSA UK held its very first ‘Student Retreat’- a weekend away for Ahmadi Muslim students at Jamia Ahmadiyya UK. This talk was part of the weekend’s ‘Student Talk’ session, where speakers gave personal and original messages about faith and spirituality. In this talk, AMSA UK President Umar Nasser (@UmarN91 ) discusses how our experiences in dreams can teach us lessons about the ‘real’ world, as well give us hints as to what lies beyond… (more…)