Calling on Allah, by which name? (1)
Friday Khutba by Dr Zahid Aziz, for Lahore Ahmadiyya UK, 9 September 2022
First, a message on the death of Queen Elizabeth II
کُلُّ مَنۡ عَلَیۡہَا فَانٍ ﴿ۚۖ۲۶﴾ وَّ یَبۡقٰی وَجۡہُ رَبِّکَ ذُو الۡجَلٰلِ وَ الۡاِکۡرَامِ ﴿ۚ۲۷﴾
“Everyone on it (i.e., on earth) passes away — and there endures forever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honour.” (55:26–27)
Before my originally-prepared khutba for this week, I wish to say a few words about the passing away of Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom which took place yesterday. There is a hadith مَنْ لاَ يَشْكُرِ النَّاسَ لاَ يَشْكُرِ اللَّهَ — meaning: “He who does not thank people does not thank Allah” (Tirmidhi, hadith 1954). So it is our duty as Muslims to express gratitude, now to the relatives of the Queen, as she has passed away, on her service to this country and to the Commonwealth, among whose populations are a large number of Muslims.
In my khutba on 10 June this year, on the occasion of her platinum (70th) jubilee, I mentioned that the Quran frequently emphasises the importance of fulfilling any pledge or promise that you make, and I said that Queen Elizabeth has fulfilled her pledge to serve this country to the best of her ability for 70 years now. She had no political power to make laws or rule the country like monarchs of old. But what she could do was to set an example of the best human behaviour to people and to encourage them to do good deeds. In this she achieved enormous success.
Like us Muslims, the Queen believed in God and believed that after death a human being returns to God Who holds him or her to account. The Queen did believe in the statement which we often quote from the Quran: اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَ اِنَّاۤ اِلَیۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ (2:156) — “Surely we belong to God, and to Him we shall return”. In the life after death, God judges a person by his or her inner beliefs and the intentions behind his or her deeds. No other human can know another’s inner beliefs or intentions. But the Quran does tell us:
فَاَمَّا مَنۡ ثَقُلَتۡ مَوَازِیۡنُہٗ فَہُوَ فِیۡ عِیۡشَۃٍ رَّاضِیَۃٍ — “Then as for him whose good deeds are heavy, he will live a pleasant life (in the Hereafter)” (101:6–7).
What a person was doing in the closing part of his or her life is also highly significant. The very last photo of the Queen, taken on Tuesday morning, shows her smiling, having performed what turned out to be her last duty to the people of this country.
The Quran also tells us that the reward or punishment of the next life will not be “according to your vain desires nor the vain desires of the People of the Book” (4:123). Vain desires means your wishful thinking and imagining good things about yourself, whether it is the vain desires of people of the religions before Islam or of Muslims.
It then says that whoever does wrong will meet his just punishment. Then it adds: “And whoever does good deeds, whether male or female, and is a believer — these will enter the Garden, and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least” (4:124). It doesn’t say here believer in what, it just says: “and is a believer”. It doesn’t only mean Muslim. It could mean a believer in God, or a believer in the doing of good deeds, who does good deeds not for any show or reward from anyone, but because he or she believes in doing them. As I have already said, only God knows who is a believer.
I end this message from Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore (UK) by extending our deepest sympathies and condolences to the relatives of the late Queen and to all the bereaved citizens of the United Kingdom. May Allah bring them comfort and solace of mind, and enable them to make the right decisions about the future, ameen.
First part of my originally intended khutba is as below.
“Say: Call on Allah or call on the Beneficent. By whatever (name) you call on Him, He has the best names. And do not be loud in your prayer nor be silent in it, and seek a way between these.” — ch. 17, v. 110
قُلِ ادۡعُوا اللّٰہَ اَوِ ادۡعُوا الرَّحۡمٰنَ ؕ اَیًّامَّا تَدۡعُوۡا فَلَہُ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰی ۚ وَ لَا تَجۡہَرۡ بِصَلَاتِکَ وَ لَا تُخَافِتۡ بِہَا وَ ابۡتَغِ بَیۡنَ ذٰلِکَ سَبِیۡلًا ﴿۱۱۰﴾
“And Allah’s are the best names, so call on Him thereby and leave alone those who violate the sanctity of His names. They will be recompensed for what they do.” — ch. 7, v. 180
وَ لِلّٰہِ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰی فَادۡعُوۡہُ بِہَا ۪ وَ ذَرُوا الَّذِیۡنَ یُلۡحِدُوۡنَ فِیۡۤ اَسۡمَآئِہٖ ؕ سَیُجۡزَوۡنَ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۰﴾
These verses clearly allow us to call upon Allah by any of His names which befit His attributes and dignity. In the last, perhaps forty years, some Muslims have been arguing that a Muslim must only call Allah by the name Allah, and that non-Arab Muslims should not call Allah by the names in their own languages, such as Khuda in Urdu and Persian or God in English, but that they must call Him Allah. For example, it used to be common practice among Urdu-speaking Muslims to say Khuda hafiz for Goodbye, which means “may God be your protecter”. By the way, Goodbye means “God be with you”. In the past few years the common practice among Urdu-speaking Muslims has changed from saying Khuda hafiz to Allah hafiz. But the question is, when those Muslims said Khuda hafiz, what concept of Khuda did they have in mind? Did they mean some idol of stone, some heavenly body, or some other thing which should not be worshipped? Did they mean some being who has sons and daughters? No, of course not. The concept in their minds was that very being whom the Quran has presented as Allah, about whom it says la ilaha ill-Allah, that nothing except him should be worshipped.
It was not only the ordinary people, but it was also the greatest and the most eminent of Muslim writers and scholars of the Indian subcontinent who, in their Urdu religious writings, used the word Khuda to mean Allah. To test this, I opened at random pages from four scholarly Islamic Urdu works by four different, famous writers of the highest repute, and quickly came across the word Khuda. There is an Urdu commentary of the Quran, distributed free officially in Saudi Arabia, by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani. He was a renowned Islamic scholar of Deoband and played an important role in the creation and early establishment of Pakistan, although he died in 1949. He bears the title Shaikh-ul-Islam of Pakistan. Opening his commentary at random, I came across the footnote on 9:111. He quotes the words fī sabīli-llāh and translates them as “Khuda ki rah mein” (“In the way of God”). In the same footnote he goes on to use the word Khuda twice: “Khuda ta‘āla has emphasised…”, and “can anyone else be as true to his promise as Khuda?”.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (d. 1958) was a most famous Muslim theologian and author in India, who became a government minister after the independence of India. His book Tazkira is written in very high calibre Urdu, heavily interspersed with Arabic and Persian terms. It deals with the work and the thought of many Muslim saints and mujaddids. At one point he discusses the ploys and subterfuges (the technique known as use of ḥīlah) which some Muslims use in order to avoid acting on some Islamic duty, such as avoiding having to pay Zakat. He writes that to use such ploys is to try to deceive God: “Khuda ko dhooka daina hai” (p. 85). He also uses the words “Khuda ki shariat” (p. 85), i.e., the Shariah of God. He also writes: “they think that Khuda can also be deceived like a man can be deceived.” In his book he uses Khuda and Allah interchangeably.
So may Allah save us from gimmicks and superficial thinking, and turns our minds towards the real substance of our religion — Ameen.
The rest of my khutba originally intended for 9 September will follow next week.