“And Hold Fast, All Together, by the Rope of Allāh”
by Hadrat Khalīfatul Masīh IVrh
This Friday sermon was delivered by Hadrat Khalīfatul Masīh IVrh on November 13, 1987 in Jamā`at Ahmadīyya USA. This summary has been prepared by Lajna Imā’illāh USA.
This is my last sermon before my departure from the USA. In view of my experience during this trip in which I was able to meet many members of the American Jamā`at, I want to give you some advice and I believe you will hold fast to them. If you act upon them I can assure you that no power on earth can harm you or your dear religion, Islām. These admonitions are embodied in the verses I have just recited. Before I elaborate on them, let me give you the translation of these verses:
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allāh and be not divided; and remember the favor of Allāh which He bestowed upon you when you were enemies and He united your hearts in love, so that by His Grace you become as brothers; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire and He saved you from it. Thus does Allāh explain to you His commandments that you may be guided.
And let there be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness, and enjoin equity and forbid evil. And it is they who shall prosper.
And be not like those who became divided and who disagreed among themselves after clear proofs have come to them. And it is they for whom there shall be a great punishment” (3:104-106)
These are the sacred admonitions, which I have presented to you in the words of the Holy Qur‘ān. I am going to elaborate on some of these in light of my experiences.
What is the
rope of Allāh?
It says: "Hold fast to the rope of Allāh, all of you." What is the rope of Allāh? The Promised Messiahas and the Ulema of the Jamā`at have made it clear that the rope of Allāh refers to those who bring tidings from God Almighty; the foremost of them being Allāh’s Prophets. According to these verses, this is the rope which is to be held fast by all. After the Prophets, the rope of Allāh is represented by Khilāfat. That is why it is absolutely essential for the life of the Jamā`at to have a strong relationship with the Khalīfa.
There is nothing else mentioned as an intermediary in this relationship nor do we see any other thing needed to generate and foster this relationship. The ties between the members of the Community and the Khalīfa are such that no other office or official of the Jamā`at comes between them.
This is the same relationship which a Prophet establishes between himself and his followers. Khilāfat is to perpetuate this relationship. This is a spiritual relationship. If you understand the concept of this direct relationship and safeguard it, you will save yourselves from many dangers. In general, when dissensions are created in the Jamā`at, the Khalīfa is not directly mentioned but his appointed representatives are made the targets of adverse criticism. It is said by those who criticize that they have ties to the Khalīfa but “these [others] have not truly represented him. Their character is not such that one should be necessarily true to the structure of the Jamā`at.”
Most problems have originated in this way. The Holy Qur‘ān is saying that your ties are with the roots and these ties with the roots are not affected if some branches become rotten. So, foster your relationship with the roots. Prophethood is the primary root. Those who have ties to the prophethood, they have no fear. After Prophethood comes the Khilāfat, which represents Prophethood. One who has direct ties with this Khilāfat has nothing to worry about.
This is the meaning of the above verse. As a matter of fact it points to an even deeper and more direct relationship, with Allāh, when it is said: "hold fast to the rope of Allāh." A rope in itself has no significance. It gets its strength from the thing it gets tied to. So by saying the rope of Allāh, the verse gives the true meaning of the relationship of people with Prophethood. In reality, the main source is Allāh. Whosoever has ties with Prophethood because of Allāh, these ties have no fear of breaking. If a person has ties with Allāh because of his ties with Prophethood, he should have no reason to worry. If you want to have ties with Prophethood, give preference to your ties with Allāh and love Prophethood because of your ties with Allāh. The same goes for Khilāfat and for the representatives of Khilāfat.
There was a Muslim holy man who said in a poem something which was apparently a dangerous statement. It seemed to offend the office of Prophethood. He says, "My hand is in the hand of God. What care have I for the hand of the Mustafa?"
Apparently, this seems to greatly offend the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. He seems to say that he has a direct relationship with God; it does not make any difference to him whether he had any ties with Muhammadsa also. In reality, this is not what he meant. He was a great lover of God. He wanted to convey that one who has strong ties with God, he will certainly have strong ties with the Holy Prophetsa and this relationship is in no danger. One who relates to Muhammadsa first and then relates to God through Muhammadsa, his ties with Muhammadsa are also in danger; because Muhammadsa was a human being. His greatness was in his Prophethood and in his being a vicegerent of God. So [the poet] meant that all of his ties are through his ties with Allāh. He did not care what other kinds of ties he had.
If we truly love God and our ties with God are strong, then our ties with the Holy Prophetsa will necessarily be very strong also. This is the same concept which has been mentioned in the Holy Qur‘ān, as the Rope of God. Prophethood has been exalted by calling it the rope of God. Without this, Prophethood in itself is meaningless. Khilāfat represents Prophethood and is nothing without Prophethood.
2 Types of People
I have seen two kinds of people in my life. There are those who want to please the Khalīfa and try to learn his temperament so they can say such things that will please him. These people usually fail to please the Khalīfa. I observed this very deeply during the term of Hadrat Musleh Mau`ūdra and I learned that many office bearers of the Jamā`at tried to read the mood of the Khalīfa and tried to please him.
On the other hand, there were a large number of those who obeyed the Khalīfa in order to please God. In their relationship with the Khalīfa, they were always concerned whether their God will be pleased or not; and their decisions were always correct. They never offended the Khalīfa because they knew the true meaning of rope of God. They knew that everything originated from Allāh. One who has strong ties with Allāh, his decisions will be correct in the same proportion.
At one time the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, defined a Mo’min in the following way. He said, "fear a mo’min because he sees with the eyes of God." This is the thing which our Jamā`at must understand today more than ever before, because it is entering a period where it faces dangers from many directions. Foremost of all, your beliefs will be the target. If your Īmān (faith) gets hurt and your hand relaxes from the grip of the rope of God, then there will be nothing left. It is very important, therefore, to understand the concept of rope of God. All the ties of an Ahmadī, be they with the Holy Prophetsa or his Khulafā', or with the Promised Messiahas or his Khulafā', they must be built on the foundations of his ties with Allāh. If these ties are based on anything else other than the ties with God, then these ties are artificial and meaningless.
If your love of Allāh fosters these ties, then as the love of Allāh increases, so will the ties with the Holy Prophetsa increase. Such a person does not have any fear, neither in this world nor in the hereafter. People with such ties are safe from all tribulations. When one says something to them which they know could make Allāh angry, they know it is from Satan.
A Jamā`at with such strong grip on the rope of Allāh is immune to any efforts of the enemy to produce disarray. God says:
“Recall the favor of Allāh bestowed on you when you were enemies and He united your hearts in love, so by His Grace, you became as brothers.” (3:104)
This very thing is mentioned in another place in the Qur‘ān, in another way:
“If you had expended all that is in the earth, you could not have put affection in their hearts. It is Allāh alone Who has put affection between them.” (8:64)
Anything else, other than this relationship through Allāh, is a fire. It cannot be enduring or leading to salvation.
“You were on the brink of fire. You were being exploited by the greed and love of worldly things. All your ties other then your ties to Allāh were leading you towards fire. It was a great bounty of Allāh to you that He tied you in such a pious relationship and protected you from all other dangers.”
“Thus your Lord explains to you these signs so that you may follow the straight path.”
How wonderful are all these meanings, that are enshrined in these verses. God says that this is His Grandeur. This is His relation with you. This is how He saves you and teaches you the philosophy of life, so you can be rightly guided.
If a nation turns towards fire after learning such wonderful things, they indeed are very unlucky. When a nation inculcates the property that all their relationships are formed because of their ties to Allāh, they generate a magnetism which has the capacity of inviting others towards salvation. Da’wat IlAllāh has a deep connection with this truth; admonishing others to shun evils has a deep connection here. Until you become truly Allāh’s servants and your relationships are generated because of your connection with Allāh, your advice will have neither weight nor any strength in it. It will be only a word of mouth but it will lack the strength to change the hearts. This is why when the same thing is said by different people, they have different effects.
There was an incident in the life of Hadrat Hakīm Nūr-ud-Dīnra who later became Khalīfatul Masīh I. Someone brought a non-Ahmadī to Qādiān during the lifetime of the Promised Messiahas. He took him to Hadrat Hakīm Nūr-ud-Dīnra, judging him to the best of the companions of the Promised Messiahas.
Hadrat Hakīm Nūr-ud-Dīnra talked with him in great detail on different aspects of Ahmadīyyat but it did not seem to have too much effect on this person. Finally, that person was taken to meet the Promised Messiahas. The Promised Messiahas talked with him very briefly and did not really go into in any details. On emerging from this brief visit with the Promised Messiahas this person exclaimed that a revolution had come about in his life. All the ills of his heart had been washed away.
If this is the proportion of effectiveness between a very devoted follower and the Promised Messiahas, then you can well imagine the many gradations of effectiveness among the various members of the Jamā`at. The fact is that effectiveness in good advice comes from one’s relationship with Allāh. An advice as a result of ties with Allāh does not depend at all on reasoning and arguments. Ties with Allāh can produce revolutionary strengths in a person.
On the demise of the Promised Messiahas, a writer used these words: ‘His fingers were mingled with the strands of revolution.’ He did not know where these revolutionary strengths came from, but the Qur‘ān has made it clear that all revolutionary strengths are produced as a result of a close relationship with God. When a community is formed based on close ties with Allāh, then the Qur‘ān says that there have to be some people among them who:
They begin to call people towards virtue and advise them to do good deeds.
Here, there is no mention of arguments or reasoning. Only one characteristic is given here, namely, all their relationships are based on the love of Allāh and such people are given the capability to invite others towards virtue and give good advice. Even their admonitions have extraordinary weight in them.
This verse has deep significance for you as you live in this Western society. Acting upon the advice contained in it, you can guard yourselves against numerous dangers. This environment has dangers for the righteous and the unrighteous alike. There are dangers for those who constitute this society. You cannot even enumerate all these dangers.
There is a challenge for the spiritual life at every step in this country. You are not only to save your own lives; you have to save the lives of others also. You cannot do so by reasoning and arguments. You have to strengthen your ties with Allāh and foster unity among yourselves. Your strong ties with Allāh should give rise to natural ties among yourselves. Then you will attain to that greatness which will give your advice magnificence, your words will have weight and you will have unbeatable strength in you.
The Qur‘ān tells us to make our hearts the abode of God. Then you will engender such attraction in you that others will not be able to help coming to you. When you call them, they will have no other option but to run to you. In this sense, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa had a direct hand in bringing the believers together. His heart had become the throne of God and there was an extraordinary force in his invitation and his voice had such attraction that people were attracted to him for the love of God.
The Qur‘ān says that they not only call to virtue, they also prohibit from evil. This is not only meant for Muslims. It points out the responsibility of a Muslim towards the whole society. You have to try to save your surroundings from evil and call people to virtue. If you do this, people will listen to you. You cannot call them to you by using intricate arguments. It is not even possible for everyone to present a difficult argument in an attractive manner.
Social systems do not change by use of arguments. People may even recognize that something is bad, but they lack the power to shun it. They may recognize good advice but it may not overwhelm their attraction towards vice. It is human nature to gravitate towards bad things. You cannot wean them away from evil by mere reason and arguments. There are TV programs, for instance, discussing and analyzing harmful things, but the society does not change. Good advice has to have a force of attraction and this attraction comes as a result of your close ties with Allāh. It can be stronger than the natural inclination towards sin.
If you, the caller towards Allāh, have the love of God in your heart then your call will have a strong attraction that will bring people to Allāh. In this situation, the Qur‘ān says, you will become capable of inviting people towards virtue and restrain them from evil, since you have fostered strong ties with the rope of Allāh. The love of Allāh has made you capable of loving His creatures.
The Companions of the Holy Prophetsa, for instance, had fostered such ties with Allāh themselves. But for the succeeding generations, this becomes only history. Admonishing these generations, God says:
Beware! Do not take it for granted that these ties with Allāh must always remain strong. There is a danger that it may grow weak with passing generations who may consider these ties to be only superficial. Ties with Allāh, inherited from your parents will not automatically last and may get broken. Unfortunate indeed are those who weaken their grip on the rope of Allāh, even after witnessing great signs. Do not be among these losers, for those who break these ties in these circumstances, invite a great punishment from God.
Once the good people establish direct ties with God, one cannot even imagine that Satan will ever be able to win their hearts. In the above verse, therefore, it is not the Sahaba (Companions) who are being addressed. It is the succeeding generations after them that are addressed here. When a community is so steeped in the love of God that all the wealth in the world cannot take them away from it, it is impossible for such a community to ever forsake God. They live and die for the love of God and can never break these ties. The above verse addresses their progenies, saying: Do not be like those who broke their ties with God, although their forefathers had strong ties with Him. They had witnessed great revolutions and great signs of God. They had made great sacrifices for the sake of this love of God and thus proved that they had attained to real and true love. God had chosen them and tied their hearts together. Their children had witnessed all this. If now these descendents break their ties with Allāh and drift away as a result of their worldly pursuits, they will be very unfortunate and very unlucky and will invite a great punishment from God.
From this point of view, there is a great lesson for our present generations. If you have not inherited strong ties with Allāh from your fathers, you will inherit nothing from them. You will only inherit the fate of those who seem enemies of your fathers, who earned great punishment for opposing God’s people. You will be only inheriting their fate.
This is the admonition, which has to be repeated time and again. As a result of my current U.S. tour, I felt that there is a great need to focus on it for the Jamā`at. Satan tries in many ways to create dissension in your hearts. Remember, any attack on your love for those who are dear to you because of your love of God, any attack on the organization which is dear to you because of your love of God, is an attack from Satan. Reject such mischief. Sometimes Satan attacks openly and sometimes stealthily. Sometimes such an attack comes from those you consider to be virtuous people. They seem to be busy in religious affairs; they seem to be devoted to prayers. The Qur‘ān does not ask us to see where something is coming from. It asks us to make the love of God dearest to us and foster all our ties as a result of our ties with Allāh. If you do that, you will have no fear.
If you hear something from an apparently pious person, which undermines your ties with a representative or the organization of the Jamā`at, you can be sure it is the voice of Satan. Judge everything on its own merit, not by who told you. If it is something that can create rifts, it can only be from Satan. Allāh brings you out of rifts and into unity.
People might say to you that such and such ‘has more respect because he is rich and the poor do not command respect. This would mean that the Jamā`at has deviated from righteousness and our ties with the Jamā`at should weaken.’ If it is true, then a person who respects someone because of his wealth is very unlucky. But even more unfortunate is the person who breaks with the Jamā`at because of such observation. Wealth or poverty has nothing to do with our relationship with Allāh.
Let us take a person who has strong ties with Allāh and someone tells him that a certain representative of the Jamā`at does not respect him. Will this person break his ties with Allāh as a result of this? As a matter of fact, those who have strong ties with Allāh are usually considered the lowest. Prophets are always ridiculed most by their countrymen; but just because some people attack them in this way, do the prophets ever weaken their ties with Allāh.
We must remember that our ties are directly with Allāh. The behavior of the world or of other apparently godly people cannot weaken these ties. As long as all other loves are for the sake of God, they are in no danger. If you can really understand this, then nobody can deceive you.
Suppose someone says that we should call a meeting of only African Americans with no Pakistani participants. Every Afro-American should recognize this to be the voice of Satan. It is an effort to create friction between sections of the Jamā`at. It actually happened here, but all the Afro-Americans with strong ties with the Jamā`at—and I am glad that a vast majority of them were like that—rejected this suggestion and everyone resolved not to participate in such a meeting which tends to create friction between different sections of the Jamā`at.
I cannot say whether the person who suggested this, did so because of a direct or indirect satanic influence. In any case, it is his misfortune that he became an instrument of an enemy of God, whether knowingly or without a realization of its ramifications. There have been similar attacks on the unity of the American Jamā`at before. As the Qur‘ān tells us that sometimes Satan engineers these attacks so indirectly that one does not even know where it came from.
The last Surah of the Qur‘ān, which has special significance here, for it warns against the mischief of the latter days, it talks of a Khannās. It says:
“O God save us from the mischief of the Khannās, who produces temptations in the minds of people.”
Khannās is someone who whispers something and then hides himself. He does not come forward, but his whispering comes out in front.
So these attacks on the Jamā`at take on different forms but the end result is the same. The effort is to try to create dissension among those who are holding on to the rope of Allāh. There was a time in the U.S. Jamā`at when, in the name of righteousness, efforts were being made to take over the Jamā`at. A group of people suddenly began to be active in the affairs of the Jamā`at. An investigation revealed that their agents would go around in different Jamā`ats and praise them, saying that such and such a person is very pious and is an excellent worker. He is not being brought forward perhaps because the Pakistani leadership is afraid of losing control. We should vote for the good people among us as they deserve to be brought in the forefront.
When I came to this country in 1978 on a private visit, I met many people, local as well as immigrants, and was able to study them at close range. On my return, I reported that some people were engaged in a conspiracy to take over the Jamā`at in the name of piety. There were two dangers here. If those people were really righteous, they were completely unaware of the organization of the Jamā`at. Ahmadīyyat had not penetrated them yet. They wanted to mould Ahmadīyyat according to their ideas, which are foreign to Islām.
The second danger was that all this was going on as a result of a conspiracy. Some really righteous Ahmadīs were taken in and proposed some of these conspirators as different office bearers. But as the Center was aware of the situation, these names were rejected. Some people were very unhappy that the local Jamā`at elected them but the Center rejected them. What kind of a democracy was that?
Let me make it clear that there is no (so called) worldly democracy here. The Jamā`at organization begins with the rope of Allāh. There is a rope from heaven. There is no rope from the earth here which you can present to the world as a democracy. If your ties are really with Allāh, your eyes will only be towards Him and your pleasure will be the pleasure of those who work at the pleasure of Allāh.
This gives a very different concept of democracy. The pleasure of those who proceed entirely on the pleasure of God dominates over your pleasures. When you follow this democracy, you have nothing to worry about.
Allāh put a responsibility on a group of people. These people got their training directly from the Promised Messiahas and then they spent their lives under the institution of Khilāfat. They were faithful to Islām under all sorts of trials. They have been established on righteousness by Allāh. Their decisions are not merely personal whims nor do they decide so that one section can dominate over another. Their decisions are based only on the premise that Allāh predominates over the ungodly. The love of Allāh takes preference over the love of the ungodly. They cannot tolerate any danger to Islām. To fight all such dangers becomes second nature to them. Some newcomers, who do not understand this, fall prey to the wrong propaganda.
Remember! If you have faith in the Khalīfatul Masīh, if you trust him and know that he is appointed by Allāh and today he is best qualified to represent Allāh, then never give your ideas and suggestions preference over his ideas and suggestions. If you ever do that, your grip on the rope of Allāh will slacken and these Qur‘ānic verses will give you no guarantee of protection.
You can give your suggestions but the final verdict in religion is in the hands of a Prophet, and after him, his Khalīfa. The Qur‘ān tells him, seek advice from others, but you are not bound to act upon their advice. You are the representative of God; the final verdict is yours. Listen to the advice and try to take advantage from it, but your decision has to be based on righteousness.
Since your verdict will always be for the pleasure of Allāh, then be sure that even if it is counter to all the worldly advice, God will side with you and will not leave you and will surely make you successful.
The same holds true for the Shūrā to be held today. When you give a suggestion, your suggestions are not based on anything but for Allāh alone. Therefore, to accept the verdict of the one you have pledged allegiance to for the sake of Allāh is a part of your faith. Nay, it is a fundamental condition of your faith. This is the training that the Sahaba received from the Promised Messiahas. This is the training the Khalīfas gave to the Jamā`at. We grew up under this training. I will never tolerate that your steps falter from this training.
This is the real meaning of the rope of God. Anyone who has fidelity with Allāh will surely cooperate with His representatives; and I am not worried about them. God Himself will protect them. Anyone trying to foment dissension will surely fail because Allāh gave the promise to the Promised Messiahas in clear words. Informing him of the various future conspiracies, He said: “God will safeguard you..”
I am not trying to scare you by mentioning all these dangers. I know that you godly people have nothing to fear; but I have to warn you because the Qur‘ān warns repeatedly. In the absence of such warnings, some weak persons may go astray. It is really a warning addressed to weaker persons and I direct them to the remedy. Hold fast to the rope of Allāh. When you are steeped in the love of God, nothing else can enter your heart. Two loves cannot enter a heart together. Fill your heart with the love of Allāh, then anything else your hearts are invited to will be meaningless.
Looking at the suggestions presented for the Shūrā, I noticed some that may misguide you.
For instance, some proposals stressed that we should try to understand the American temperament; otherwise our Tablīgh will not succeed. Underlying this is the idea that those who know the American temperament should come forward. If one thinks along these lines, then what about Japanese temperament for Japan; or how about Nigerian or Ghanaian temperaments; or how about British or German temperaments?
The Ahmadīyya Jamā`at is established in 114 countries. Should a Khalīfa be born in 114 countries and also be brought raised up in 114 countries? Otherwise, according to this reasoning, he will not be able to give the message of Islām to the world. The Qur‘ān tells us that there is only one temperament for humanity and Islām is based on that temperament. This is what makes Islām universal. Before Islām, there were regional prophets and they addressed their region only. Any person cognizant with a regional temperament cannot address the whole world.
A universal prophet was raised who understood human nature, which was given to everyone from God. Allāh says in the Qur‘ān, regarding this universal light:
This universal light does not belong to East or West.
The Holy Prophetsa pointed this out in his last address by emphasizing that there was no difference between various nations. This is the religion for the whole world...
May God keep you under His protection and inculcate in you a true love for Him. The best of all assurances is the love of Allāh. If you develop this love in your hearts, I will have no worries about you. I will have the contentment that I am leaving you under the protection of Allāh. If, on the other hand, you put this love of Allāh in danger, then all my admonitions to you will be useless and all my worries will remain.
Become united for the sake of Allāh. Increase your love of Allāh. If you love me, love me for the sake of Allāh; then no power on earth can harm you. Your unity will prevail and your call to Allāh will have magnetism in it. You will become that voice from heaven which always prevails over all worldly powers. You will pick up those who are bowing towards the earth and take them to the heights of heaven. May Allāh make this possible.