and spiritual food
Christians to receive spiritual
bread of Islam by this Movement's efforts
'Id-ul-Fitr Khutba in
by Zahid Aziz
(The Light & Islamic
Review: Vol. 72; No. 2; Mar-Apr 1995; p.7-11)
Sparse food of Holy Prophet and Companions
of Holy Prophet's Companions /
Moses' followers ask for more food
followers ask for food from heaven
of prayer for Jesus' followers /
Spiritual bread for followers of Jesus
Movement to take spiritual food of Islam to Christian nations
The month of fasting brings to mind the subject of
food and eating, and its relation to the moral and spiritual progress
of human beings. During the fast we refrain from food for the body in
order to nourish the spirit. Even apart from fasting, the Holy Prophet
Muhammad, as well as his Companions, have taught by their practical
example that in order to reach a high spiritual and moral rank you should
in any case eat very little, and eat the simplest food.
Islam certainly does not forbid us from consuming delicious, enjoyable
and hearty meals, consisting of the finest foods available. The Quran
clearly says that no one can forbid the good things of life which Allah
has created for His servants. See ch. 7, v. 32. Therefore self-denial
is not allowed by Islam. But while we may make use of and enjoy the
best things, including best food, Islam requires that we do not become
attached to them in our hearts, and that we always remain capable of
doing without them and giving them up whenever it is necessary to give
them up for a higher purpose and for the good of ourselves and our fellow
of Holy Prophet and Companions
The Holy Prophet Muhammad as well as his Companions had no attachment
whatsoever to the material things and comforts of the world, and this
is why they were so unconcerned about their physical food, and subsisted
in the simplest way possible for a human being. (See reports in Sahih
Bukhari, Kitab al-Ta'am, book 70.)
It is related in two separate reports, one by the Companion Abu Huraira
and one by the Holy Prophet's wife Aishah (may God be pleased with them),
that after settling in Madina the Holy Prophet and the people of his
household never got to eat fully for more than three days continuously
throughout his life. (Bukhari, 70:1 and 70:23.). In other words, there
were never three days in a row when the Holy Prophet and his family
were fully fed every day. They may have eaten fully one day, may be
even the following day, but after that it would be back to the normal
sparse eating. You must bear in mind that the Holy Prophet was, at this
stage, the head of an entire community and the ruler of a state which
consisted of a city at first, and then extended to the whole of Arabia.
Therefore it was by choice that he thus lived.
His wife Aishah related that during the life of the Holy Prophet, "we
used to subsist on dates and water". (Bukhari, 70:6.). Of course,
the Holy Prophet was not dogmatic or inflexible about his austerity,
and if it so happened that he was offered some dainty dish, he would
not turn it down, with an air of superiority, claiming to be leading
a simple life. Rather, he ate and enjoyed that blessing of God. But
in the normal course of his life, he ate very little, and had whatever
came to hand, however coarsely prepared or simple it might be.
He once told his followers:
"The food of two people is sufficient for three, and
the food of three is sufficient for four." (Bukhari, 70:11.)
He also said in a very reliable report of his sayings:
"A true believer eats in one intestine; a disbeliever
eats as if he has seven intestines." (Bukhari, 70:12.)
Disbeliever here carries the general meaning of someone who
is unthankful to God. By following this teaching the problem of food
shortage in the world can be relieved to a great extent. But could anyone
today solve this problem by repeating the miracles recorded of Jesus
whereby he increased a few loaves of bread so that a crowd of thousands
was fully fed on them? You can judge from this which example is more
practical to follow.
Holy Prophet's Companions
The Companions of the Holy Prophet followed his example of eating very
simple food, very frugally. Many of the Companions would go out before
eating, in search of a needy person somewhere to bring him home and
eat with him. They would not eat unless they brought home a needy person
to share their food with. There are incidents showing that they disapproved
of anyone who ate too much. (Bukhari, 70:12.)
Once, at a time after the Holy Prophet had died, one of his well-known
companions, Abu Huraira, was passing by some people who were roasting
meat. They invited him to join them. Abu Huraira suddenly became overcome
by the memory of the Holy Prophet and said to them:
"The Messenger of Allah left this world and never even
got to eat bread to the full."
Recalling the simple, hard life of the Holy Prophet, Abu Huraira felt
unable to accept their invitation. (Bukhari, 70:23.)
Therefore, to acquire the highest moral and spiritual position involves
neglecting worldly comforts and needs, as shown by the lives of the
Holy Prophet and his Companions.
ask for more food
Now we turn to the two great prophets before the Holy Prophet, namely
Moses and Jesus. The followers of Moses, after crossing the Red Sea,
had to undergo the hardship of living in the desert for several years,
where they missed the comforts available to them in Egypt, even as slaves.
However, God's purpose in imposing this hardship was to make them a
better people. But they started complaining about the lack of food.
According to the Quran they said to Moses:
"We cannot endure one food, so pray thy Lord on our behalf
to bring forth for us some of the things the earth grows, its herbs,
and its cucumbers, and its garlic, and its lentils, and its onions."
Moses said to them:
"Would you exchange what is better for you for something
It was better for them to gain moral nourishment through the hardship
they were undergoing than hanker after physical food. But they still
did not agree to follow this course, and as a result the Israelite nation
failed in its moral development.
ask for food from heaven
Similarly, according to the Quran, the disciples of Jesus asked of
"Is thy Lord able to send down food to us from heaven?"
and Jesus' reply was:
"Keep your duty to Allah if you are believers."
That is to say, instead of praying to God to send food they should
seek their spiritual betterment through keeping their duty to God. According
to the Gospel of John, some followers of Jesus asked him to show them
the sign of bringing bread down from heaven, and Jesus told them to
seek the eternal bread, not the bread which decays but the "true
bread from heaven". (See John, ch. 6, verses 31, 32 and 27.) Again,
the meaning is that they should look for their spiritual sustenance.
The Quran then tells us that on the insistence of his followers for
him to cause food to come from heaven, as a sign of his truth, Jesus
"Our Lord, send down to us food from heaven which should
be to us an ever-recurring happiness [or 'id] to the first
of us and the last of us, and a sign from Thee, and give us sustenance
and Thou art the best of the sustainers." (5:114).
"Surely I will send it down to you, but whoever disbelieves
[or is ungrateful] afterwards from among you, I will chastise him with
a chastisement with which I will not chastise anyone among the nations."
The prayer then was certainly fulfilled, since this is what God says.
A warning is also given that whoever is ungrateful (or rejects the favour
of God) after the fulfilment shall be chastised with an unprecedented
chastisement. This means that what shall be granted through the prayer
must be something very great and quite unprecedented, because the chastisement
for being ungrateful for it is so great as to be unequalled.
of prayer for Jesus' followers
It will be seen that Jesus' prayer was not only for his immediate followers,
but for "the first of us and the last of us" -- Christians
of all times. Also, it cannot be imagined that Jesus was praying only
for physical food and sustenance, since according to the Gospels he
had often mentioned bread and food in the spiritual sense. For example,
"Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word
which proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew, 4:4)
"My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me, and to accomplish
His work." (John, 4:34)
"Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food
which endures to eternal life." (John, 6:27)
As regards the fulfilment of Jesus' prayer for food, let us in any
case look first at its physical side. The later followers of Jesus,
the nations of Christian origin, certainly have been granted plentiful
food and prosperity, unparalleled in history. Food production has multiplied
unimaginably because of scientific developments. It is indeed as if
food is coming from heaven. Recently genetic engineering has been used
at the University of Nottingham (England) to produce tomatoes which
last longer and have better taste and flavour. The same research will
now be used to improve fruits such as bananas.
Strangely enough, the gospels record many miracles of Jesus to do with
increasing the amount of food and drink available, e.g. feeding the
five thousand, turning water into wine, multiplying the fish caught
by the disciples to an enormous amount. (See, for example, Matthew 14:15-21,
Luke 5:4-9, and John, ch. 2.) That was symbolic of what was to happen
to the followers of Jesus in later times, that they would be rolling
in plenty of physical sustenance. Indeed, the prayer taught by Jesus,
"give us this day our daily bread", has undeniably been fulfilled
in the physical sense to the greatest measure.
bread for followers of Jesus
As regards the spiritual sustenance being asked for in Jesus' prayer,
that was fulfilled by means of the revelation of the Holy Quran as the
spiritual and the eternal bread for the followers of Jesus. Just as
physical sustenance, food and bread were made available by God in answer
to this prayer, so was spiritual sustenance in the form of His final
revelation in the Quran. That is the bread Jesus taught his followers
to pray for. And what that chastisement for being ungrateful refers
to, is that if those nations, having benefitted from the physical bread
given to them so abundantly, refuse to recognise the Almighty Who gave
them that bread, and reject His spiritual bread, which is the real aim
of this prayer, then a chastisement will come which will be unprecedented.
In other words, if you concentrate solely on attaining material progress
and prosperity, neglecting your spiritual needs, as has been done by
the leading nations of the world of Christian origin, then that will
let loose various forces of destruction. And we see that in various
forms, such as the most deadly and destructive weapons being used on
earth, the environmental systems of nature being destroyed, directly
due to the urge for more and more material gain.
We now ask, How will the spiritual food and bread sent by God reach
the Christian nations? Jesus prayed that the food should be sent down
to be a source of joy for "the first of us and the last of us".
As regards the "first of us", in the early history of Islam,
as it spread westwards, Christians living previously in the Roman empire
received that bread and embraced Islam in large numbers. Then came a
very long period of centuries, when Muslims gave up taking the bread
of Islam to others, and a time eventually came when it could not even
be imagined that a Christian would embrace Islam; on the contrary, all
the factors were in favour of the spread of Christianity among Muslims.
to take spiritual food of Islam to Christian nations
It was then that Allah sent His Mujaddid, the Founder of this
movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in order that the spiritual food
of Islam and the Quran be received by the followers of Jesus, and that
his prayer be fulfilled regarding his followers of the latter times.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote in a poem:
"As I have been given the light to convey to the Christian
nations, that is the reason why I was given the title of 'son of Mary'."
in other words his title of 'Messiah'. This Messiah was properly equipped
by Allah to take the bread of Islam to the Christians. If you read the
Quran further from the above point where the prayer of Jesus is mentioned,
it tells us that God will ask Jesus in the after-life whether he had
taught to people that he should be taken as god, and he would reply
that most certainly he had not; rather, he had taught people to serve
the one and only God, and that he could only vouch for those of his
followers whom he lived among during his life, but after his death he
was no longer responsible for them, and only God could see what they
This tells us two important things about how to present Islam to Christians.
Firstly, the Christian belief in trinity and in Jesus' divinity must
be refuted, and secondly Jesus must be proved to have died as a mortal
human being, and not be still alive somewhere in heaven. And these were
the lines of attack that Hazrat Mirza sahib employed, through the guidance
given to him by God. Unfortunately the so-called orthodox Muslims had
come to hold wrong ideas which actually gave comfort and support to
the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus. Hazrat Mirza sahib corrected
those notions of the general Muslims, and showed that they were opposed
to the Quran. This was the greatest step forward in taking the spiritual
bread of Islam to the followers of Jesus. There were several other points
of misunderstanding about Islam too which he corrected, thus opening
the door to the acceptance of Islam.
I will take something highly topical. Among the totally wrong notions
that developed among Muslim religious leaders, one is this death penalty
for so-called blasphemy against the Holy Prophet Muhammad. In the Quran,
and the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet, there is not the slightest
trace of any penalty whatsoever to be imposed by Muslims upon someone
who "insults" the Holy Prophet. The actual teaching of Islam
is that Muslims should show patience if they hear words offensive to
their faith, and should disregard and ignore any such abuse. It is these
kinds of teachings of Islam which this Movement has always been stressing.
Yet in Pakistan a law was recently made, and alleged to be based on
Islamic teachings, that anyone found guilty of insulting the Holy Prophet
must be sentenced to death. You will have heard that two Christians
were sentenced to death under this law in the last few days. Subsequently
they were acquitted by a higher court. Both this law itself, as well
as the farcical way in which this case was conducted, can only give
Islam a very bad name in the eyes of any sensible and justice-loving
In short, God created this movement for this age so that it may feed
the world with the spiritual sustenance that was brought by the Holy
Prophet Muhammad for all nations in the form of Islam and the Holy Quran,
and so that the prayers of Jesus and his followers for the eternal bread
from heaven are fulfilled.