The Pure Heart

The role of the heart in bringing man closer to God.

This month’s issue focuses on Christianity. Easter – despite its modern trimmings with Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs – is supposed to be a time for Christians to reflect upon the biblical account of what they believe to be Jesus’(as) last days on earth before he was crucified and then brought back to life prior to his ascension to heaven. Despite the historical evidence of early Christians holding different beliefs, for modern Christianity at least the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus( a s ) is the bedrock of their whole faith as the bible declares ‘And if Christ be not risen then is our preaching vain.’(Corinthians 15:14). In Islam, whilst Jesus(as) is not considered to be the literal Son of God but rather a noble and respected prophet of God, the events surrounding Jesus(as) being put on the Cross remain a sobering episode of his life. Setting aside the timing of Easter itself (over which there is some debate) what is common to Christians and Muslims is that this was a time during which a beloved of God suffered immense torture simply on account of his belief in God and for his delivering God’s message to the Israelites. The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus ( a s ) throws himself in prayer before the Almighty in total submission and humility is one of raw, heart- rending emotion. The tears that flow from him as he prayed for the ‘cup of death’ to be taken from him are not a sign of his weakness but a sign of his utter conviction, and total faith in God. Jesus(as) remained steadfast during this testing time and even his closest disciples could not match his endurance and they seemed to have fallen, tired and exhausted, not being able to muster enough strength to keep watch and pray alongside Jesus. The ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ – the very people whose souls he had come to save – were after his life. Their faith had been obliterated by personal and political gain and they were not going to let a simple man from Nazareth deprive them of the power that their god gave them. H o w e v e r, Jesus ( a s ), like all prophets had preached and insisted all along that God lived 2 Review of Religions – April 2002 Editorial and that He answered the prayers of His servants. We read in the Bible that ‘every one that asketh receiveth’ (Luke 11:10), the question, therefore, that hangs perilously over the events surrounding crucifixion, is how was it possible for God to ignore the cries of His prophet at his hour of need? For if the cup of death did not elude him despite all his prayers then surely, despite all his noble words and deeds, he would have failed in his divine mission and it would have been his preaching that would have been in vain? If however he had survived and not died on the cross then this would have been sure sign of God and of Jesus’ ( a s ) truth as His prophet. It is for this purpose that the articles selected for this issue are those that provide an insight into just some of the mountain of evidence that exists supporting the survival of Jesus(as) from the cross. However, this is not a new concept, but one that has its modern roots in the 19th century. The first treatise that presented this whole theory as well as its impact on world religion, rationally and meticulously, was written over 100 years ago in 1899 – curiously enough by a person claiming to be the second advent of Jesus(as) as prophesied in various religious scriptures. That person Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) lived in Qadian, a tiny unknown hamlet in India yet his research is remarkable – and truly astounding if one considers the difficulties he faced when conducting and compiling his research. The validity of this research is testified by the fact that his book Jesus in India even today remains unchallenged in its evidence and has served as a springboard for much research in this area throughout the 20th century and beyond. Fareed Ahmad 3 Editorial Review of Religions – April 2002