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Reformation – Part II

Intention and true desire make actions pure and lead to internal spiritual reformation.

What is the Ahmadiyya view on Sufism? H a d h rat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Sufism is good but it depends on its sincerity. First, however, we need to address the question as to what is the meaning of the term ‘Sufism’. If Sufism means a deeper and more profound understanding of God’s Will as expressed in His Books, then I believe in Sufism, as did all the Prophets of God. Jesus Christ(as) believed in ‘Sufism’ in the sense that he understood the cryptic message contained in the form of words that others failed to understand. The Holy Pr o p h e t( s a ) of Islam also understood the cryptic messages contained in the Holy Qur’an and he explained these to us. Another point to note here is that when the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) p r a c t i s e d Islam, his Salat [worship] was in fact the only thing that others could see in form — what was passing within his heart was inconceivable by other people. It was not invisible but incon- ceivable because it all depends on a person’s inner feeling and inner depth as to what he actually feels about something. Hence, while he stood per- 30 Review of Religions – December 2002 Spiritual Guidance H a d h rat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the Fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam offers to people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs the opportunity of raising questions and issues that are of interest to them. Presented below is a compilation of answers to questions raised in London on 19 April 1998, in West Ferry, Australia on 30 September 1983, and in London on 18 April 1999, respectively. Prepared by Amatul Hadi Ahmad QUESTIONER forming the Salat before Allah, his understanding of Allah’s attributes, his love expressed in terms which perhaps we do not even understand — the manner in which he worshipped God, the way he loved God, the way he lost himself in Him, are all aspects that were concealed from the world’s eye and this is true Sufism. If ‘Sufism’ is not this then I do not believe in Sufism. Sufism was, in fact, a movement that waged war against the so- called believers, that is the Mullahs who adhered strictly to the formality of Islam. There was a time in the history of Islam when some people thought that such a rigid interpretation of Islam that was being imposed upon them was only a form that was without any pith, without any spirit. As a result, the pendulum swung in the other direction and, consequently, there was an over emphasis on the ‘spirit’ relative to the form and the ‘utensils’ that contained the spirit were thrown away. The formal worship [that is Salat] was done away with as people began to question the purpose of such worship. Was the purpose, they asked, ‘to love God, to know God’? ‘We love God, we know God’, was their answer so Salat was no longer considered by such people to be a requirement. Such was the nature of the argument. There was one thing, however, that they forgot in the process. They forgot that the Holy Prophet Muhammad( s a ), the founder of Islam, loved Islam far more than they did. He loved God far more than they did and he never abandoned the form. It would be a stupid child who loves drink but hates the pot that carries the drink. Why is it essential for human beings to have the help of Prophets and why do Prophets have certain names and denominations attached to them? H a d h rat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The question raises the issue that if a Prophet is born amongst the Muslims, why should Christians change their religion to accept that message? The same is true of Hindus, of Confucianists, of Zoroastrians and of so many others. Why should man be put to such trial not only to change his way of life but also to change the name of the religion in which he QUESTIONER 31 Spiritual Guidance Review of Religions – December 2002 is born. This, in fact, is the fundamental obstruction in the way of acceptance of other Prophets. However, the question is automatically resolved if the way in which the Holy Qur’ a n explains the office of Prophethood is understood. According to the Holy Qur’ a n , the theory of Prophethood is that God always makes Himself known by manifesting Himself through the agency of those whom He chooses to speak to and He chooses only such people who are well suited to serve His cause. For example, in a society in which most people are not truthful — even if they do not lie directly but imagine things and exaggerate — if God chooses a person who is given to these vices, consciously or uncon- s c i o u s l y, what would be the result? Would God not be misrepresented to the people? If He chooses someone who is weak of heart and who cannot go through the stress of opposition, will he not lose the message half way? God, therefore, has to be selective. He has to select only such a person who is most highly capable, mentally as well as in the quality of heart, to be perfectly suited to the office of Prophethood. This is how, according to the philosophy of Islam, God chooses His mes- s e n g e r s . The second part is that whatever name He gives to a religion, it is just a transient thing. What is important for man is, whether someone has been sent by his Creator or not. That is the only thing which man should judge. If he worries about labels, then he is dictating to his Lord. He attaches a condition to God and says that whoever comes must have this label with him or he would not, for instance, accept Christ if he came with a different label. So the Muslims, naturally, would not believe in a Pr o p h e t from among the Christians. They would say that the name of the religion that is true is Islam and so they will only accept God’s messengers under the condition that He sends them with the label of their choosing and not any other label. This means that people are dictating terms to God. All that God is interested in is His wish to see loyalty towards Him with no other loyalty standing in the way. That is the only test He puts mankind through and whenever He sends a M e s s e n g e r, man is always put to 32 Spiritual Guidance Review of Religions – December 2002 the same test. Some adhere to the religion of the people among whom they are born. They say how can we accept such and such a person when he has come from a different country, from a different race, from amongst a different people and in the name of a different religion when we were expecting somebody to come from within our own religion. These are the hin- drances created in the way of m a n ’s acceptance of the truth. C o n s e q u e n t l y, only those people accept the message whose loyalties lie with their Creator alone and not with some denomination or name of a religion. This is why we are duty bound to seek out a Pr o p h e t wherever he comes. But why is this so? The reason why we need Prophets is that Prophets come only during an age that has becomes distorted. They appear at a time when mankind as a whole, but with a few excep- tions, has gone astray. When man has turned his back to his Lord and begun to feel the pride of knowledge. When he considers himself not dependent on any outward source and believes himself to have gained adulthood and majority — when he thinks that he does not stand in need of any outside help or any supernatural interference. Only then does God send Prophets to cut man back to size with the message that either he turns back to his Lord and submits to Him or else be destroyed as a civilization and that is exactly what has happened in previous t i m e s . There is a fallacy from which the present day man is suffering. We consider that we are the most advanced people on earth and man belonging to previous generations was backward. Since he was not mature, he could not see things as wisely as we can and could not make choices because he was so far behind in h i s t o r y. This fallacy from which man suffers is entirely wrong if one looks at the march of humanity and take a cross section at any stage in history. Wherever one may takes a cross- section, the man of that age would be the most advanced. He would be going through the same psychological complex of supe- riority because to him you are not visible. To the man of previous ages, the only visible trace is of the man behind him. 33 Spiritual Guidance Review of Religions – December 2002