7The Review of Religions –May 2003 GENETIC ENGINEERING In the field of Genetic Engineering it has today become possible to change certain features of life. But in the age when the following verse was revealed, no one could imagine such a thing in his wildest fancy. Below is the relevant verse and its translation: … And he (Satan) said, ‘I will assuredly take a fixed portion from Thy servants; ‘And assuredly 1 will lead them astray and assuredly I will excite in them vain desires, and assuredly 1 will incite them and they will cut the ears of cattle …’ 1 The idea of mutilation of animals by chopping off their tails or slitting their ears is not what is meant here by the Qur’an. It simply refers to the common practice among the Arabs in pre- Islamic times to make incisions in the ears of animals marked for sacrifice to various gods. However, what follows in the same verse is of a far more dramatic and revolutionary nature. The verse ends by attributing to Satan another malevolent intention, to incite mankind to bring about changes in the pattern of God’s creation. The verse continues: Genetic Engineering, The Plague, The Aids Virus This is an extract taken from the book Revelation, R a t i o n a l i t y, Knowledge and Tr u t h, written by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ra). 8 The Review of Religions – May 2003 … ‘and assuredly I will incite them and they will effect a change in the creation of Allah.’ And he who takes Satan as a friend besides Allah has certainly suffered a manifest loss.’2 The possibility of changing the nature of God’s creation was not an idea that people of earlier times could have entertained. Clearly the verse is speaking of possibilities that had not yet dawned on the horizon of earlier eras. To inflict superficial injuries or to make small changes, through incisions for example, is quite a simple pro c e s s and lies within the reach of man of all ages. However, the possibility of man bringing about substantial changes in God’s creation has always been beyond the reach of human imagination, prior to the most recent times. The addition of genetic engineering as a new branch of scientific study is only a decade or two old. Yet this branch of science is moving rapidly to the stage against which a clear warning had been delivered by the Qur’an fourteen hundre d years ago. Man has already started interfering with the plan of c reation and to some measure has succeeded in altering the forms of life at the level of bacteria, insects etc. A few steps further and it may spell disaster. Some scientists have already started sounding the alarm. But unfortunately, to reverse the wheel of experimentation in this field already seems to be beyond their p o w e r. Scholars are divided in two camps regarding the very ethics of genetic engineering. Some are throwing up their hands in alarm, whilst others argue that we should develop this field to its fullest extent so that we may discover the secrets of creation. They Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 9The Review of Religions –May 2003 believe that technological developments in this field will brighten the future of man. In America the debates are ferociously raging between the two camps which approve or disapprove of genetic engineering. Some legal suits and litigations against the unrestricted experiments of genetic engineering are pending in the courts of the United States. It is argued that already the experiments have defied the scientific expectations of what should have resulted from the transfer of genes from one species to another. In some cases the deviation from the expected course is surprisingly greater than even the sceptics could suspect. Until now, however, things have not gone completely out of hand. The experiments carried out on certain strains of bacteria and crops are proving beneficial for enhancing agricultural produce and protecting it from certain diseases. But it is far too early indeed to exult in these small transient gains. What ultimate effects the new synthetic strains or altered species will have on the ecology in the future, cannot be assessed until the behaviour of the altered strains is closely and minutely monitored for a few successive generations. The danger of the disaster which they may spell is, however, real and substantial. If not strictly monitored, injudicious experimentation with genetic engineering could let loose some unpredictable form of life which may defy human control. The certainty with which the Qur’an has warned against the punishment of meddling with the creation of God bodes ill for the future of life on earth. Allah knows best if man will ever cease to play God. Can any measure, short of extinction, teach him the lesson in humility? It is wrong however to infer that this verse condemns all possible usage of genetic engineering. Any branch of science which is pressed into the service of His creation and employed to protect, rather than change it, is certainly not discouraged. If for instance Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 10 The Review of Religions – May 2003 genetic engineering is employed to correct faults in genetic codes caused by accidents, this can in no way be dubbed as interference with the Divine scheme of things. Again, if damage to genetic codes by disease or imprudent medication is attempted to be corrected through genetic engineering, this is certainly not what is condemned in the above verse. All said and done, it cannot be overemphasized that scientists should not be given a free hand to trifle with the grand scheme of Divine Creation. They must thank their lucky stars if grave accidents have not already happened. They will have none to thank but themselves if they do. We do hope that the world governments will keep a strict watch over the trends and scope of experimentation in the field of genetic engineering. What hangs in the balance is the honour and dignity of the human species within the animal kingdom. We do hope and pray that mankind will be spared the torment of haplessly watching the day when it will be mastered by the synthetic slaves of its own creation. The Plague The world we know today is so different from that of a mere hundred years ago. The age of air travel had not yet dawned. The fledgling flight of the Wright brothers was to remain, for many more years, a dream to be realised. Massive ships towering high like mountains were not yet built and the era of submarines was not as yet afloat. Nevertheless, there was a stir in the air, like that at the early break of dawn. A dazzling new day of revolutionary scientific inventions was breaking. The air in the realm of religion was also vibrant with an expectancy of a different nature. There was talk in every religion of the near advent of a Divine Reformer of global dimensions. Who would come and where, was the most hotly debated question. The air was tense with claims and counterclaims. But Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 11The Review of Religions –May 2003 nowhere was the tension of interreligious debate so intense as in the subcontinent of India. Christians and Muslims were awaiting the arrival of the Messiah among them. The Hindus were no less enthusiastic about the manifestation of their Lord Krishna. The Buddhists did not lag behind either, in hoping for the the advent of Buddha. In that atmosphere of multi-religious conflict, a voice was heard loud and clear, from a person of humble origin by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as of Qadian( a s ). He electrified the atmosphere with his outstanding advocacy of the supremacy of Islam over all other faiths. He threw challenges on behalf of Islam in every direction with such powerful arguments based in scriptural and logical evidence as compelled the champions of other religions to take serious note of him. ‘A new warrior has risen for the defence of Islam,’ was the clamour everywhere. The Muslims of the subcontinent were astir with joy and hope. Till the entry into the arena of this new champion of the Muslim cause, Islam was the least ably defended of all the combatant religions. Meteoric was his rise to fame among the Indian Muslims when the first few volumes of his monumental work Brahin-e-Ahmadiyyah were published. Glowing tributes were paid to him by eminent Muslim scholars of that time. Leading articles were published in his praise by the Muslim press. But it was not to last long. The situation changed dramatically when he pronounced, one day, that God had revealed to him that Jesus(as) son of Mary, was dead. He died many long years after his deliverance from the cross like any other human prophet. In his name and in his spirit and style it was he, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) who had been raised as the Messiah of the latter days, to fulfil the prophecies of the second advent of Jesus(as). A fuller discussion on this will follow in Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 12 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Part VII. For the present it should suffice that his fame had reached heavenly heights before he made this claim. But the first thing that claim cost him was that fame which turned overnight into notoriety. His name was still known from end to end in the vast subcontinent of India among the people of Islam, but no longer with honour and dignity and with hopes and aspirations. The hunter of the enemies of Islam became the most hunted person by the very Muslims whose battles he had fought. All his friends turned into foes, all his well-wishers wished him dead rather than accept the death of Jesus Christ(as) and his spiritual rebirth among the Muslims. He was maligned and vilified and abused and opposed with such frenzy as the subcontinent of India had not witnessed before. It was at this moment of total betrayal by the world of Islam, and undisguised hostility by the rest of the religions, that he was reassured by God that He would not abandon him. Many prophetic warnings were vouched to him concerning the Divine chastisement for those who led campaigns of bitter antagonism against him. Many Divine warnings were bestowed to him regarding heavenly punishments of a much wider application, so that the people at large might draw their lesson from them, but they heeded not. He was falsified. But his prophetic warnings of Divine chastisement could not be falsified. One such warning related to the impending epidemic of the plague which was to play exceptional havoc in the Punjab, the province of India to which he belonged. The most emphatic warning delivered by him to the world was bestowed upon him in the words of the following Divine revelation: ‘A Warner came unto the world, but the world accepted Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 13The Review of Religions –May 2003 him not; yet God shall manifest His favour and demonstrate his truth with powerful assaults.’3 Plague, as we have already mentioned, was just one of the many punitive signs which he prophesied. But it was so great a sign of extraordinary import that we have specifically selected it as a category by itself. It was not just a sign of the truth of the Promised Messiah(as), it was a sign of the truth of the Qur’an and the Bearer of the Qur’an. Again it manifestly proved the claim that revelation is a m ost reliable means of transferring knowledge from the realm of the unknown to that of the known. The visitation of the plague which was revealed to the Promised Messiah(as) was in fact a Qur’anic prophecy reasserted during his time, because his was the age when it was destined to be realised. And when the sentence is passed against them, We shall bring forth for them an insect (Da’bbah) out of the earth, which shall wound them (Tukallemo) because people did not believe in Our Signs.4 (Ch.27; V.83) The word da’bbah as used by the Qur’an has already been defined with reference to another verse discussed earlier. It applies to all animals, from the tiniest to the most massive ones, which move along earth surfaces with a locomotive mechanism.5 It is highly important to understand the significance of this prophecy, which has a very potent message for the people of this age. Many a past Muslim scholar and commentator of the Qur’an has related this prophecy to the age when the Mahdi and the Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 14 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Messiah would appear. Although they could not fathom the entire import of the message, they still came surprisingly close. ‘Allamah Isma’il Haqqi AI-Buruswi (d. AH 1137) commentating on the above verse in Ruhul Bayan wrote that the Mahdi would come and then the Dajjal (anti-Christ) would appear followed by the Messiah. During this time da’bbah will emerge and after that the sun will rise from the West. The Shi’a scholar, Mullah Fath-Ullah Kashani (d. AH 988), in his commentary Minhaj-us Sadiqin, has made the following comments: ‘According to some of our friends this verse (i.e. relating to the emergence of da’bbah) points to the advent of the Divine authority who is the Mahdi of the Muslim people (Ummah).’ This is as far as these commentators could go from their study of Hadith in conjunction with the above Qur’anic verse. They did not offer any explanation as to the nature of al da’bbah. It was left to Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ) in his capacity as the reformer of the latter days to further elaborate and explain the true implication of this prophecy in the light of the Divine revelations and visions bestowed upon him. In February 1898, Hadhrat Ahmad(as) received revelations about an impending plague, and he immediately published this important warning through newspapers and pamphlets to the world at large. He explained that the plague of which he had foretold was the same calamity implied in the verse relating to the appearance of al da’bbah. Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 15The Review of Religions –May 2003 He further observed that the word: tukallemo mentioned in the verse has two basic meanings. One is to wound and the other is to speak. The context in which this verse is set clearly relates to an animal of a sort, which would bite the people for having rejected the signs of ‘the Lord. The alternative meaning requires the da’bbah to speak to the people. This he does by implication indicating that this punitive measure is a result of their denial. Thus he speaks as he wounds by discriminating between good and bad. After this initial warning, many others followed, further elaborating the nature of the impending plague and the manner in which it would strike. The Promised Messiah(as) was told in no uncertain terms that this plague would devastate large areas in the Punjab, and village after village would be emptied of life. Death would knock at every door and strike the townships from end to end leaving a trail of horror behind as it went. Qadian, the township where he himself dwelled, would be no exception, he declared, but the plague there would be employed to further enhance the sign of his truth. It would strike all around his house but would not be permitted to step within its four walls. ‘I will save all who dwell in the House.’6 For those who sought and cared for his shelter, he made it clear that this promise of security would not be confined only to such as occupy his house physically but would also cover those who dwell in his spiritual home – the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Thus he delivered manifest warnings to all who rejected him and Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 16 The Review of Religions – May 2003 gave glad tidings of miraculous protection to all who believed. When he mentioned that the Ahmadis would be miraculously saved from this affliction, he made it clear at the same time that in exceptional cases, the Ahmadis who were Ahmadis in name only may also suffer. But by and large, they would be saved in such outstanding proportion as would leave no doubt in the mind of the observer that this protection was in no way accidental. The tale of the plague in the Punjab is an amazing tale indeed. It testifies to the truth of the Promised Messiah(as) in letter and spirit. How could a man claim protection even from the common cold as a sign of his truth? To speak of the plague to show distinct partiality to his followers was too tall a claim to be made by an ordinary mortal if God Himself had not vouchsafed it to him. It was an exceptionally tall claim indeed that all who would sincerely submit to his authority as the Divinely appointed Imam of the age would be spared the agony of the plague. When finally the hour struck, it struck to toll the bell over the funeral of his sworn enemies. Many among them had publicly vowed that it would be Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) himself who would die of the plague. But it was they themselves who were stricken by the plague along with their families, one after the other, until none were left to mourn their death. It did spare, as was promised, his followers, by an outstandingly large margin. A margin which could not be explained away by any factor of chance or accident. No earthly logic could account for the distinct partiality with which the plague treated the Ahmadis in, hundreds of villages of mixed population. This miracle, repeated itself everywhere with such brilliance as even the blind could see. And the blind did see and rushed towards the safe haven of Ahmadiyyat in such numbers as had never happened before. And lo, they were saved. But alas for those who possessed the faculty Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 17The Review of Religions –May 2003 of sight that they were indeed blinded by its dazzling brilliance. There were villages where no one was left to carry the coffins of the victims of the plague to the nearby graveyards, except the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). They carried the corpses of the disbelievers on their shoulders to the burial ground without the least fear of contracting the plague. Returning to Qadian from an overview of the Punjab, let us see what was happening there. Everything went according to the p ro p h e c y, but for an incident or two which appeared odd and d i s c o rdant. It so happened that a prominent follower of the P romised Messiah( a s ), Maulawi Mohammad Ali by name, suff e re d f rom a very intense fever with all the symptoms resembling the plague. Even the glands under his armpits had swelled t h re a t e n i n g l y, causing severe pain and distress. The best available medical aid was provided, but without avail. His agony did not abate. He just could not reconcile himself to the fact that he, a companion of the Messiah( a s ), should meet such an end, contrary to the Divine promise. The agony of the plague in itself was unbearable, add to this the torture of conscience which might have tormented him, lest in the sight of God he was counted out of His t rue servants. Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth TH E TA L E O F T H E P L A G U E I N T H E P U N J A B I S A N AMAZING TALE INDEED. IT TESTIFIES TO THE TRUTH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) IN LETTER AND SPIRIT. HOW COULD A MAN CLAIM PROTECTION EVEN FROM THE COMMON COLD AS A SIGN OF HIS TRUTH? TO SPEAK OF THE PLAGUE TO SHOW DISTINCT PARTIALITY TO HIS FOLLOWERS WAS TOO TALL A CLAIM TO BE MADE BY AN O R D I N A RY M O RTA L I F G O D H I M S E L F H A D N O T VOUCHSAFED IT TO HIM. 18 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Thus he tossed in his bed and cried and wailed that someone should hasten to the Promised Messiah(as) to inform him of his miserable plight and urge him to visit him and bless him. This is what the Promised Messiah(as) did forthwith. It did not perturb him in the least that the patient was medically declared to be suffering from plague. He went to his bedside and put his hand on the forehead of Maulawi Sahib, speaking words of solace and comfort, reassuring him that as certainly as he was the true Messiah, Maulawi Sahib would not die of plague. It did not take Maulawi Sahib long to watch these prophetic words fulfilled. As the Promised Messiah(as) stood talking to him, his hand still resting on his forehead, his temperature subsided rapidly, leaving no sign of the fever or the plague behind. He sat up and touched himself here and there, bewildered at the rapidity with which the fever had vanished. So also were bewildered those who sat around awaiting his death but were destined instead to watch the miracle of his survival. He lived many long years after that before he died in Lahore in 1951, at the ripe old age of 77. How could the plague differentiate between people who believed in the Promised Messiah(as) and those who did not will always remain a mystery, but not for those who believe in the limitless attributes of the Omnipotent God. A genuine question arises here as to what solid evidence can be presented for the satisfaction of neutral enquiry in support of whatever has been recorded in this chapter as facts. The problem is that the only direct evidence which can be produced is internal. The witnesses are all Ahmadis or those who converted to Ahmadiyyat after watching this miracle. There is no external evidence except that which is indirect and implied, yet it is powerful because it stems from hostile witnesses. The major problem is that no independent enquiry was constituted at that time by any neutral authority. There were only two parties, Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 19The Review of Religions –May 2003 Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis. Of all the facts and figures in relation to the behavioural pattern of the plague, the only record available is from the archives of whatever was published in contemporary newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, posters and books. The only scrutiny regarding the reliability of this material which can be made is circumstantial. The most important factor worthy of note here is that a strong vibrant interest had been created in the nature, claims and activities of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at in the period under review. An exceptionally hostile, strong non-Ahmadi press was giving sharp, pungent, negative coverage to whatever was happening in the newly emergent world of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at. Whatever was said or done by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian and whatever happened to him was keenly observed and eagerly recorded by his opponents. A full and rather overexcited coverage was given to anything and everything which could be turned against him. This hostile coverage was not confined merely to the non-Ahmadi Muslim press, but the Christian and the Hindu press did not miss the least opportunity either to censure him and bring him to disrepute at the slightest excuse. Had the coverage of the Ahmadiyya press on the issue of the plague been ever so slightly w rong, it would be impossible for the bitterly critical non- Ahmadiyya press to ignore it. All through the period of seven years, or thereabouts, that the plague remained active in the Punjab, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) the Promised Messiah would never let the public interest in the outcome of the plague in relation to the Ahmadis wane or die. Many of his well-known adversaries were locked with him in spiritual duels and every now and then claims and counterclaims were published regarding which of the two would die smitten down by the plague, as a sign of God’s wrath. Many of his adversaries began to die one after the other and the remaining Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 20 The Review of Religions – May 2003 waited in suspense and fear. But the plague touched him not. It touched neither him nor his wife, none of his sons or daughters were afflicted by the plague either. Not even a mouse was ever found having died of plague within the four walls of his house. He published these facts repeatedly adding fuel to the fire, invoking the hatred of his enemies and causing them to pray against him more than ever before to bring the curse of the plague upon him. But all in vain. Nothing happened to him and to those who lived within the boundaries of his physical and spiritual abode of peace and security. Can anyone produce a single line ever published in any newspaper or magazine or book of his time which falsified his claims by listing the names of any victims of the plague who belonged to his family or dwelled in his house? The same goes for the overall publications of the Ahmadiyya press in those days which became conspicuous by their silence on such mishaps. No death is recorded by them in the family of the Promised Messiah(as) nor among those who lived around him. It is worthy of note that the Ahmadiyya press routinely covered all incidents even remotely related to the Promised Messiah(as). As far as the members of the Community outside Qadian were concerned, they were spared by the plague in an outstandingly large proportion. The death rate among the non-Ahmadis who died of the plague stood far higher by comparison to the very rare cases of Ahmadi deaths in the same villages. Had this claim of the Ahmadiyya press been wrong, the antagonist press must have played it up and capitalised on it. That it did not happen should be reasonably treated as strong indirect external evidence, by default. Another irrefutable proof in favour of the Ahmadiyya claim is the Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 21The Review of Religions –May 2003 fact of exceptionally accelerated growth of Ahmadiyyat during the years of the plague. The figures which were re g u l a r l y published in the Ahmadiyya organ A l – H a k a m, presented an enormous rise in the rate of conversion to Ahmadiyyat during this critical period. No denial of these figures was ever made by the non-Ahmadiyya press. They were figures of real people occupying real villages and towns. Why did not any section of the antagonist press give A l – H a k a m the lie and publish counter evidence? Such are the times when silence speaks louder than words. The fact that Ahmadiyyat spread far more rapidly during 1898- 1906, the years of the plague in the Punjab, is indelible. According to the periodically published data in Al-Hakam, by the year 1902, the number of Ahmadis had risen from some tens of thousand to a hundred thousand. By the year 1904 the Ahmadi population had swelled to two hundred thousand. By 1906, the year when the plague finally beat a retreat, the number of Ahmadis had risen to four hundred thousand plus. In view of the above, it should be borne in mind that had the p rophecy of the Promised Messiah( a s ) been proved wro n g , Ahmadiyyat must have been wiped out from the face of the earth. After the plague had taken its full toll, whatever number of Ahmadis were spared must have been stricken by the ‘exposure of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s falsehood’. But that was not so. As the number of hostile opponents of Ahmadiyyat was counted down by the plague, the number of Ahmadis grew and swelled. Ahmadiyyat marched forward in leaps and bounds. … In that surely are Signs for a people who reflect.7 (Ch.30: V.22) Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 22 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Concerning the verse of the Qur’an upon which this entire prophecy is based, let us draw the reader’s attention to the fact that this verse in itself is a miracle. To capture its miraculous beauty, the reader must be assisted to fully admire its fascinating subtleties. In the following passage, we have attempted to achieve this purpose. The following points need to be emphasised: At the time of the Qur’anic revelation, the reasons for the spread of the bubonic plague were not known. No knowledge existed about the manner in which rats might have played a part in infecting others. It was certainly not their bites which did so. It was also not known that there existed a tiny wingless insect – the flea, which was the carrier of this fatal disease. Nor was it known that it was the bite of this flea which injected the plague virus into the bloodstream of its victims. If the Qur’an had been authored by a human, he could never have predicted the spread of the plague by the bite of an animal classified as the da’bbah. Now we know that the animal which spreads the plague is an insect. Now we also know that an overwhelmingly larg e proportion of insects is winged, and those which are wingless are infinitesimally fewer by comparison, such as the lice, the silverfish and the non reproductive termites. And finally, it is now that we have come to know that the flea, despite being an insect, is also a da’bbah by virtue of its being wingless. It is this exceptional quality of the flea which rightfully entitles it to be called dabbah, or the relevant Qur’anic verse could be censured as definitely wrong. We humbly invite the attention of naturalists to this unique example and beg them to search their minds and hearts. Can they really dismiss this exception as a mere accident? Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 23The Review of Religions –May 2003 THE AIDS VIRUS Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) also prophesied about another type of plague to appear later in some other parts of the world. In 1907, after the end of the plague in India, he received a revelation informing him of a type of plague to also appear in the future: ‘A type of plague will spread in Europe and other Christian countries, which will be very severe.’8 What is meant by the term ‘a type of plague’ and why should it particularly strike Europe and other Christian countries? A clue to this is found in a hadith* of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam in an observation he made almost thirteen hundred years before the time of the Promised Messiah(as). According to this tradition reported by Ibn-e-Majah’ Kitab-ul-Fitan, the Holy Prophet(sa) states: It never happens that permissiveness (fahsha) overwhelms a people to the extent that they display their acts of sex shamelessly and they are not uniquely punished by God. Among them, invariably, pestilence is made to spread and such other diseases, the like of which have never been witnessed by their forefathers.9 The word Fahsha means ‘permissiveness with the connotation of audacity and shamelessness, resulting in open display of sex. It should be noted that mere permissiveness does not warrant so severe a chastisement from Allah; but when it exceeds all bounds Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 24 The Review of Religions – May 2003 and is acknowledged as a commonly accepted social behaviour, then that society is affected with some completely new sex-related disease as a sign of God’s displeasure. The accusing finger of this hadith seems to be pointing at the sinfulness of the present age rather than that of any other. Such shamelessness as has been described in the hadith is displayed these days on television, in newspapers and in magazines, day in and day out, to the extent that it has never been witnessed before in human history. Consequently, absolute justice requires that the punishment must match the crime. Sensual indulgence with flagrant shameless display is central to the chastisement prescribed. The prophecy of the Promised Messiah(as) specifically picks out Europe and other Christian countries. The earlier prophecy of the Holy Founder(sa) of Islam does not mention people of any country or religion, but confines itself to the nature of the crime, warranting a corresponding punishment. Both prophecies read together make up the whole story. Among Christian countries the United States of America answers the description perfectly. But according to the latest census, sub- Saharan Africa leads the world in this particular type of permissiveness, with the Caribbean lagging only a few lengths behind.10 In the census we have referred to, it is the Christian African countries which lead in the AIDS figures far beyond the rest of the African countries. The only issue which remains to be resolved is the identity of ‘that sort of plague’ as has been mentioned in prophecies. It seems quite justified to claim that it is AIDS which is that punishment. Eminent physicians refer to it as a type of pestilence. Like the plague, it too causes inflammation of some glands with a high burning fever. It is as ruthless a killer as the bubonic plague has ever been. Yet it has its own unique features which the bubonic plague lacked. AIDS is Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 25The Review of Religions –May 2003 definitely sex-related while the bubonic plague is not. It is pre c i s e l y designed to punish sexual transgre s s i o n s . The reader is reminded here that religious prophecies should not be treated over-literally. European and other Christian countries are mentioned only to help us to locate and identify the territories where this new type of plague will be most rampant. It does not mean that it will remain confined only to Europe and other Christian countries. The prophecy of the Holy Founders(sa) of Islam clearly indicates the possibility of a much wider application because it binds this disease not to countries, but to a specific moral crime. Wherever that causative crime will spread, the punitive disease will follow. But it will only become epidemic in such countries as are excessively permissive. It matters not what the names of such countries are, nor does it matter much whether their population is predominantly Christian, or Hindu, or Muslim. The countries and religions are not causative. What is causative is permissiveness, hence wherever the cause is at work, the effect will certainly follow. The reason why European and other Christian countries are specifically mentioned while others are not, is perhaps because permissiveness as a progressive social behaviour at the national level is not witnessed elsewhere in the world. One will not hear of homosexuality being legalised except in Western countries. You will not hear of homosexuality in any religious institutions except in Christianity. But it should be remembered however, that these countries though Christian in name, are farthest from Christian values. Nor can the Muslim countries, for that matter, be rightly described as custodians of Islam. Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 26 The Review of Religions – May 2003 Hence, if permissiveness and the unrestrained display of shameless conduct are found among Hindu or Muslim countries there is no reason why the same consequent disaster should not befall them. The AIDS epidemic has already reached all the continents of the world and there will be hardly anyone not familiar with the horrors of this disease. However, it would be naive to assume that the full dimensions of the horror have been properly realised. Nor is it right to assume that AIDS has already played its role and will soon be on its way out. Ill-advised indeed are those who entertain the hope that soon scientific research will find an effective antidote or prophylactic against the AIDS virus. We entertain no such optimism. On the contrary, we are afraid that the main thrust of the disease is yet to come. The observation that lends support to this view relates to a general similarity between the first advent of the Messiah in the form of Jesus(as) and his second advent in the person of Ahmad(as) of Qadian. This is not the proper place to enter into an in-depth study of similitude between the old and the new Christ. However, as far as the sign of the plague is concerned, we must point out that the plague also appeared as a sign to punish the antagonists of Jesus Christ(as). At the rejection of Jesus(as), the first epidemic of plague was recorded inAD 65. By coincidence or design, this plague epidemic covered mainly the areas where the message of Christ(as) had reached and been denied. The plague struck again about one hundred years later in AD 167, but this time it devastated a much larger and wider part of the world, extending over two continents from Asia Minor to Rome and beyond to Gaul and Egypt. In all these countries the message of Christ(as) had already been delivered and was rejected by the majority of the people. Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 27The Review of Religions –May 2003 If, as suggested, the similarity between the two periods re p e a t s itself, it would not be unlikely for the new type of plague to re a c h its climax by the end of this century extending into the beginning of the next one. This calculation is our estimation based on the fact that during the time of the Promised Messiah( s a ) this is how the first plague struck, with exceptionally greater intensity during the period 1898-1904. God knows best how far He wills to repeat these similarities in every detail, yet we should be warned and pre p a re d . We pray that God may save mankind from this catastrophe of global dimensions by enabling people to reform. By mending his ways and true repentance, it is not at all unlikely for man to win pardon from Allah and escape the consequences of his sin. But what is unlikely, alas, is for man to repent and mend his ways. It is of no significance whether one is religious or irreligious, whether one believes in God or denies His existence. As far as human moral conduct is concerned it seems to be universal in its sinfulness. Those who claim to be religious are unfortunately no less immoral than the irreligious. The so-called believers in God are no longer clearly distinguishable from those who do not believe. It will be no exaggeration, therefore, to declare the entire age to be at loss. This is how the Holy Qur’an pronounces its judgement on the people of the latter days: We call that age to witness, That man is most certainly at loss. Save for those who believe and do good deeds and admonish righteousness by righteous means, and admonish patience with patience.11 (Ch.103: Vs.2-4) Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth 28 The Review of Religions – May 2003 The fortunate few who would exercise patience and act righteously are by comparison far too small to turn the tide. An odd blade of grass, or a twitter or two of a finch, cannot turn the desolation of autumn into the splendour of spring. REFERENCES 1. Translation of Ch.4: Vs.119-120 by Maulawi Sher Ali. (Note: The word ‘Satan’ in brackets has been added by the author). 2. Translation of Ch.4:V.120 by the author. 3. Nozul-ul-Masih – R-uhidi Khazi’en (1984) Vol. 18 pp.466-467. 4. Translation of 27:83 by the author. 5. LANE, EN. (1984) Arabic-English Lexicon. Islamic Text Society, William & Norgate. Cambridge. 6. Tazkirah – Collection of the Revelations and Dreams of the Promised Messiah – Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahamd of Qadian. (1969) Published by AI-Shirkatul Islimiyyah Ltd. p. 428 7. Translation of Ch.30:V.22 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 8. Tazkirah (1969), AI-Shirkatul IslAmiyyah Ltd., Rabwah. Urdu edition, p.705 9. Sunan Ibn-e-Majah. Kifabul-Fitan, B5bul-‘Uqoobat. Vol.11. Dar-ul-Fikr Al- Arabi, p. 1333. 10. UNAIDs and WHO (December 1996) HIV/AIDS: The Global Epidemic. UN web site. 11. Translation of Ch.103: Vs.2-4 by the author. Rationality, Revelation, Knowledge & Truth
When a person shuns bad deeds and he yearns to do good and prays to God, then God helps him and takes him too peace and security. Excerpts from the discourses of the Promised Messiah (as).