Freedom of Religions

What are the Limits of Religious Tolerance

JANUARY 1985 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD THE EXISTENCE OF GOD By Mostafa Sabet (Mr. Mostafa Sabet, a prominent Ahmadi from Egypt, has been a resident of Canada for several years) The subject of the existence of God is of common interest to both the believer and the atheist, though each looks at it from a different perspective. I would attempt to address a couple of arguments generally raised by atheists. One may run as follows: “There is no conclusive evidence that God exists. All that you can claim is that this universe could not have come into existence accidentally but must have had a creator. This is an inference. Inference may be true or false. Thus faith in God is based on probabilities but there is no conclusive evidence that God exists”. Another argument may run like this: “I have a scientifically oriented mind. I cannot accept any fact which cannot be proven in the laboratory. If you cannot prove a fact in the laboratory, it does not stand as a fact; it is but a mere illu- sion. You cannot prove the existence of God in the laboratory, hence it is not a fact. Thus God does not exist”. In short the two questions 1 shall attempt to answer are: 1. Is there a conclusive evidence that God exists? 2 Is God’s existence a fact which can be proven as any other scien- tific fact can be proven in the laboratory? It is surprising that both atheists and believers of today share the same belief about one of God’s attributes which provides the con- clusive evidence of His existence. In the world of today, it is general- ly accepted by both atheists and adherents of various religions that God does not speak any more. The atheist believes that God does not speak because He does not exist in the first place, while on the other hand, those who identify themselves with religion, with few exceptions of course, believe that God does not speak because, if I can put it flatly, He doesn’t have anything more to say. But those who claim that God has said all that He wanted to say, and that all what He wanted to say is written in their respective holy books, do not understand the nature of God’s words. They generally take the Shari’a or the divine Law to be the only type of God’s word. Once THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS JANUARY 1985 the Law is completed and perfected, there is no need in their minds, for God to send down any further word. You may find people like that among the followers of all religions. Christians, for example, generally believe that the Bible contains everything God wanted to tell man, thus nothing more is required, hence God does not speak any more. Similarly, Muslims of today, in general, believe that God does not speak any more because the divine Law has been completed in the Holy Quran and the religion of Islam has been perfected and nothing more is needed or required. If we were to accept this argu- ment, then these people have no conclusive evidence to prove that God does exist today? In a discussion with a Christian friend of mine, he tried to answer this question by emphasizing that the fulfillment of the Biblical pro- phecies in our time is the conclusive evidence of the existence of God as those prophecies were revealed thousands of years ago. He also made use of the well-known argument that the universe is governed by laws which indicates that the universe must have had a creator. I agreed that the system of the universe proves that it must have had a creator, also the fulfillment of the prophecies proves that their originator must have had insight in the future. Then I asked: “If we were to accept that God was the Creator of the Universe and the Originator of those prophecies, it only proves that God did exist in the time of the creation and at the time those prophecies were reveal- ed, but it does not necessarily prove that the same God still exists to- day. May be for some reason or another His existence came to an end.” The fulfillment of the prophecies proves that the one who originated them had a previous knowledge of these events but does not necessarily prove that he still exists or even that he still has the capacity of insight in the future. The only conclusive evidence that God does exist is when He continues to speak. Without this con- clusive evidence, our faith is based on a “May Be”. May be God still exists but for some reason He does not speak any more; but the other possibility is equally valid: May be God does not exist any more. In any case, there is no certainty about His existence. There is no certainty of faith. For this reason, God has raised the Promised Messiah in our age to prove His existence and to grant the believers a certainty of faith. This is the prune objective of every prophet: To reconcile man with his Creator and bring the believers to a certainty of faith through establishing communion with God. Once a true believer establishes a JANUARY 1985 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD personal relationship with God, then he receives from God, accord- ing to his own faculties and capacities, that which proves to him beyond any shadow of a doubt that God does exist. Many times in my discussions with non-Ahmadi Muslims, they agree that God will converse with the believers on the Day of Judg- ment and in Jannat (the Garden or Paradise) but not in this life. The Holy Quran emphatically disagrees with this argument. It says: “Those who believed and kept to righteousness, for them are the glad tidings in the present life and also in the Hereafter.” (10:63-64) Again, the Holy Quran explains that communion with God is established in this very life and that the believers receive a message from God through His angels, as it says: “As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’, and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them saying: ‘Fear ye not, nor grieve; and rejoice in the Garden that you were promised. We are your friends in this life and in the Hereafter. Therein you will have all what your souls will desire, and therein you will have all that you will ask for. An entertainment from the Most Forgiving, the Ever Merciful” (41:31-33). I would like to draw the attention of those who deny that God speaks to His servants in this life, to the words of the message con- veyed by the angels to the believers. There are three imperative verbs: ‘Fear ye not, not grieve and rejoice in the Garden that you were promised’. This means that the angels in fact say: ‘Now, right now, at this present moment you should have no fear of anything related to the future; and now, right now, at this present moment you should not grieve over anything that may have happened in the past; and now, right now, in this present moment you can rejoice in the Garden that you were promised.’ This means that rejoicing in the Jannat (translated as the Garden) starts in this very life. It is in- conceivable that the true believers who receive this message contain- ing those three imperative verbs will not do as they were told until the Hereafter. Though the angels say ‘Fear ye not’ yet they will continue to have fear until the Hereafter; and though the angels say ‘nor grieve’ yet they will continue to grieve till the Hereafter; and though the angels say ‘rejoice in the Jannat’ yet they will not rejoice in the Jannat till the Hereafter. No, the Jannat of true believers starts in this very life and continues in glorious manifestation in the Hereafter. That is why THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS JANUARY 1985 the angels assure the believers saying: “We are your friends in this life and in the Hereafter”. This friendship starts in this life and con- tinues in the Hereafter. Accordingly, the angels continue to assure the believers: ‘Therein you will have all that your souls will desire and therein you will have all that you will ask for’. The word translated as ‘Therein’ is an adverb which in Arabic may refer to place as well as to time. In the angels message, the word Feeha (Therein) does not only refer to the Jannat (The Garden) but also refers to this life and to the Hereafter. In other words, the word Feeha (Therein) refers to the Jannat of this life and also refers to the Jannat of the Hereafter. A true believer receives the assurance that he can have all what his soul desires and all what he asks for right now, in the Jannat of this life. What do you think a true believer will ask for more than to have a closer rela- tionship with God? What do you think a true believer’s soul will desire except to hear the sweet voice of her Creator? A true believer stands in front of Allah seeking only one thing—His pleasure; yearning only for one desire—To hear His sweet voice and to see His beautiful countenance. Having achieved that, a true believer does not experience any worldly fear nor suffers any grief. Yes, he may seem to be suffering from all kinds of torments, yet his soul keeps rejoicing when it hears the voice of its Beloved. Look at Bilal! He was tormented on the scorching sand of Arabia, heavy rocks were placed upon his chest and he was mercilessly dragged upon the sharp rocks of the mountains. He could have saved himself from all this apparent suffering if he had denounced God, but how could his tongue have uttered that word when his soul and heart were filled with the sweet voice of his Beloved? Yes, to the eyes of the world he was suffering, but in reality he was rejoicing in a Jan- nat. That is why his tongue was unable to repeat anything but the at- tribute of his Beloved: ‘Ahadun Ahad’ meaning: He is One, He is One. In this context, the Promised Messiah was once asked, why the prophets, though they are most dear and near to God, yet He lets them be subjected to untold torments and sufferings?’ The Promised Messiah smiled and said, “Were they really suffering?” The fact is that the true believers live in a Jannat not merely believing in the existence of God but experiencing the existence of God. On the occasion of the Battle of Uhud, one of the Muslims went looking for some dates to eat after the initial victory the Muslims had achieved. When he returned to the battle-field he found JANUARY 1985 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD that the Muslim army had suffered a defeat. He saw some people weeping and when he asked about the Holy Prophet, he was told that the Holy Prophet was killed, upon which he said, “Why are you sitting here weeping, let us go and join the Holy Prophet where he is. I swear by God that I can feel the scent of Jannat”. This proves that he had previously experienced the scent of Paradise and that when he felt it at that time he was able to recognize it. Experiencing the existence of God can never come to an end. Over the past fourteen hundred years there were always people who ex- perienced the existence of God, but it was decreed that in the time of the Promised Messiah myriads of people would experience God’s existence. This phenomenon is referred to in the Bible as the out- pouring of the Holy Spirit. Notice that the term ‘outpouring’ is generally used for heavy rain. The Holy Quran refers to the same phenomenon and likens the word of God to the rain. It says: “And He sent down water upon you from heaven that thereby He might purify you, and remove from you the filth of Satan, and that He might strengthen your hearts and make your steps firm therewith” (8:12). This heavenly water is the conclusive evidence that God does exist today as He existed before. It is from this fountainhead that the companions of the Holy Prophet drank to their satisfaction. It is this running spring of life which bestowed heavenly life upon them to the degree that they cheerfully laid down their lives for the sake of Allah. The same heavenly water bestowed the same heavenly life upon the companions and followers of the Promised Messiah to the degree that they did not care for the world. When they heard the sweet voice of their Creator and experienced His existence in their lives, they were transformed into different beings. They lived in the world but did not belong to the world. In their eyes, all the delights of this world and all its treasures were not equal in value to a mos- quito’s wing. They surrendered everything in the way of Allah so He bestowed upon them everything their souls desired. They turned their faces from the world so God unveiled His face for them. The world despised them and conspired against them but God loved them and became their Guardian and Protector. The world.turned them out of their homes and countries but God overshadowed them and made them dwell in houses full of light and mercy of which the world can never imagine or conceive. Look at Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. He is a living example of the 10 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS JANUARY 1985 existence of God. Look at the hundreds of Ahmadi missionaries. They have experienced the existence of God, thus they gave everything for the sake of Allah. They dedicated all their lives for His service and accepted cheerfully all kinds of difficulties and hard- ships in His way. We know of Maulana Rahmat Ali, our missionary in Indonesia, who spent about 25 years of his life away from his family for the sake of Allah. We know of Maulvi Zahoor Hussain of Bukhara who almost lost his life in the Soviet prisons but was told by God that he will be freed through Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II. We know of Maulvi Muhammad Sadiq of Sumatra who was on the verge of dying of starvation when he pleaded to God: ‘Lord, it is my ut- most desire to give my life for Thy sake, but I am concerned that Thy enemies may say that God has left a missionary of the Promised Messiah to die of starvation’. Soon after this sentence was uttered by Maulvi Sahib, someone knocked on his door and brought food to him, thus his life was restored. Right here, in the United States is one of those who have given all for the sake of Allah. He left his country and lived in the jungles of Africa for no other purpose than the glorification of the name of Allah. Look at the wealth which Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad has collected over the years, a wealth of which the world has no concept. Yes, it is true that any scientific fact can be proven in the laboratory. If you follow the same procedure you will certainly reach the same results. Let those who want to experience the existence of God, follow the same steps taken by the true followers of the Promised Messiah. Let them tread upon the same path trodden upon by those who have experienced the existence of God. Most surely, they will reach the same results. Less than a hundred years ago, God raised the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Ahmad of Qadian, to proclaim that God does exist today as He existed before, that God does speak today as He spoke before. He invited the hungry to partake of this heavenly bread and called upon the thirsty to quench his thirst from this spring of life. Blessed indeed is the one who accepts his invitation. LIVING BEFORE GOD The consciousness of living every moment of one’s life in the sight of God is the most effective deterrent against wrongdoing and the most po- tent incentive towards righteous action. (Muhammad Zafrulla Khan)