Notes and Comments: A Second Coming

Can you imagine a son of God giving up his heavenly throne and descending to earth two millenniums later?

Some of you may have wondered as to the significance of the minaret in the Review of Religions logo. Its significance is explained in the article, ‘How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin’. The author explains that minaret (or minar in Arabic) is the symbolic name given to such a person who, by virtue of his m a g n a n i m i t y, purity and holiness, displays within himself a heavenly light. This light serves as a guide for mankind, just as a lighthouse serves as a beacon for ships ploughing the seas in the pitch of night. The whiteness of the minaret symbolises this p e r s o n ’s purity; his stead- fastness in the face of trials and tribulations is represented by the firmness with which this tower stands. The minaret, in short, symbolises the Pr o m i s e d Reformer of this age, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad ( a s ). Its relevance to the subject matter of the article is well demonstrated by the author himself. He argues that one cannot achieve freedom from the shackles of sin through the mistaken Christian doctrine of atonement through the crucifixion of Christ. This free- dom can only be won through a deep belief in, and a perfect knowledge of, God: ‘It is not to believe simply that there is a God but to know God and see God’. Put another way, to emancipate oneself from the numberless gods that surround us, we should fear the retribution of the One God and we should love Him above all else. This in Islamic parlance is called Taqwa or righteousness. The next question that arises is how can one gain this perfect knowledge of God, and hence develop love for and fear of Him? The acquisition of any kind of meaningful knowledge requires effort and exertion on the part of the seeker. To reach God, to build up one’s knowledge of Him, one must tread the path that 2 Review of Religions – August 2002 Editorial leads to Him. Practical ways of doing this are hinted at it the article ‘Islam and the Global Quest for Sustainable Development’. The author makes the powerful argument that many of today’s ecological and other problems faced by the world can be attributed to the lack of morality and ethics in our decision making. Global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, hunger, poverty, to mention a few, are problems created by man. According to a World Bank report there is enough food in the world to feed its population twice over and yet family planning is advocated as a way to alleviate hunger. The problem is not that there is a shortage of food, it is rather the policy of food distribution that results in millions of people in our small world going hungry. By introducing morality and ethics into our global policies we can solve many, if not all, of the man-made problems. As the author of ‘Islam and the Global Quest for Sustainable Development’ so eloquently puts it, ‘…the degradation of our morals and pollution of the ethics of the society we live in are responsible for the degradation and pollution of our environment.’ In bringing ethics and morality into our political decisions, not only would we start to clean up the environment but we would also move closer to God, gain more knowledge of Him and begin to unlock the shackles that enslave us to the materialistic idols that so dominate our world. 3 Editorial Review of Religions – August 2002 CORRECTION We regret that due to an oversight, a photograph of the late Mr. Bashir Ahmad Orchard (July 2002, page 51) is labelled as with the 2nd Khalifa whereas it is with Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib. We apologise for this error.