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Belief in the Unseen

43 BELIEF IN THE UNSEEN (Saud Ahmad Khan) Religion solves the riddle of everything being influx or the changing phenomena of nature. Man is a limited being and every material thing or product of matter is limited. So is the case of the universe in relation to man’s limited understanding. Obviously there are many other parts of the universe which are invisible. The Ultimate Reality must be One, the unlimited power beyond man’s perception. The flux condition of the universe, therefore, is the ever-changing manifestation of that unlimited Ultimate Reality, God, or any other name given to that Reality. That Omnipresent and Omniscient Exalted Being controlling the universe discloses the invisibility of His Being to man as He deems it fit and only to that extent which is apprehensible to man’s limited senses. Philosophy is right in pointing out the changing phenomena of nature but it remains quiet as to what is beyond matter since it is beyond the system of thinking of philosophers. Belief that God speaks according to philosophy is only speculation which cannot be proved. It is another philosophical fact of belief in the unseen. Religion comes to the rescue as proclaimed in the Holy Quran: All that is on the earth will pass away, and there will abide for ever only the Person of thy Lord, Master of Glory and Honour. (55:27-28) Again the Holy Quran explains that the changes are due to continuous Divine manifestations: Every day He reveals Himself in a different state. (55:30) This is also for the better understanding of man as elsewhere stated in the Holy Quran: Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware. (6:104) Plato expounded the theory of ideas. It seemed to him that in addition to this world of senses there must also exist another world of things which could only be apprehended by mind. He regarded ideas as being real and objective. They are forms of which the objects are copies. He meant that belief in the unseen is due to an inborn urge of man to search for someone 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS not apprehended by his senses. Plato talks of ideas without telling about their controlling authority. On the other hand religion, especially Islam, speaks of the unseen Ultimate Reality, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Allah says in the Holy Quran: Everybody acts according to his own way, and your Lord knows who is best guided. (17:85). Man, therefore, is not a copy of any external ideas. It is his aptitude which he is free to express which makes him superior to all other creatures. At the same time, however, it is up to him to judge whether or not he uses his volition according to the law of nature – the will of his Creator. What Aristotle called ‘metaphysical religion was called intuition by Plato and who, in trying to solve the riddle of the unseen Reality held previous incarnation as the source of intuition which Aristotle named metaphysics. However, acknowledgement of the unseen could not be denied by Aristotle either. Religion solves the riddle by inspiring man with belief in God Who being unlimited in His attributes could not be realised by limited physical faculties alone. Man can realise the Exalted Holy Being of the Ultimate Reality, Almighty God, by remembering Him and by pondering over His creation for the benefit of man on earth. God says in the Holy Quran: In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed Signs for men of understand- ing. Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth; and say, ‘Our Lord, Thou hast not created this universe in vain. Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the fire. (3:191-192). The way of co-relating the individual with universal understanding so that he acquires better enlightenment of the Ultimate Reality requires both physical submission and mental attention. Whoever, therefore, ponders over the creation of the universe would come to the conclusion that there should be a controlling power behind it. Sir James Jeant said: The universe is a thought in the mind of a mathematical thinker. (Guide to Modern Thought by C.E.M. Joad). He has created everything, and determined • its proper measure. (25:3). REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 45 The ultimate Unseen Reality in Islam does not remain a hidden secret as viewed by Aristotle. Man sees it with his inward eyes and is compelled by his conscience to believe in it deep down in his heart. Even in worldly affairs man believes in a thousand and one things which are beyond his sense of perception. Much of human progress is indebted to his hopes which, unless they are realised, are but speculations in the unseen. Human relationships cannot remain sweet but for mutual trust which is just the same as faith in the unseen. Modern thought began with Decartes based on doubt in the validity of sense perception. He does not differentiate between Plato’s sense percept- ion and Aristotle’s mental conception since the human mind is also a part of the human physique. Senses are deceived by wrong perception. Sight, for example, is deceived by a mirage and hearing by head noises. Man is in search of something. What is that something for which he is restlessly searching? Moreover man’s doubting mind also signifies some hidden fear in him which keeps him ever conscious of the need of protection. All scriptures refer to this fear and have been reminding man of his responsibility to live a righteous life otherwise he would suffer the consequences. We are indebted to philosophy also because when man goes astray and neglects his responsibilities and obligations philosophers, at least, speak of right and wrong, good and evil, realities and unrealities of life not, however, pin pointing specifically what man has lost and needs to regain. It is religion which solves the riddle. In the Holy Quran Almighty God reveals the way for finding guidance: When my servants ask thee about Me, say, I am here, I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me, so they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right path. Generally mind is considered to have three states – opinion, belief and knowledge. Faith is out of the sphere of philosophy. A person is abnormal who believes something to be true when logically it has been demonstra- ted to be false. Islam does not consider opinion to be sufficient because it does not carry any proof. Belief is a higher stage. When we study our • origin .and source of sustenance .we conclude that there must be a mathematical force in motion to operate the whole system. In the Holy Quran this stage of understanding is called Ilmul Yaqin just a conception. When we look further and see the complete coherence and co-relation in each and every object and those round about wherein each planet is revolving in a fixed orbit, then we reach a stage of wonder whi&h is described as a challenge in the Holy Quran: 46 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Who has created the seven heavens in harmony. No incongruity canst thou see in the creation of the Gracious God. Then look again. Seest thou any flaw? Aye, look again, and yet again, thy sight will only return to thee confused and fatigued, having seen no incongruity. (67:4-5). It is as though we have witnessed a thing with our own eyes. In the Holy Quran the terminology used is Ain-ul-Yaqin. As already quoted Allah hears and answers the prayer of a supplicant. Man reaches yet a higher stage when he personally experiences God. The Holy Quran calls this stage Haqqul Yaqin or full realisation. Here belief in the unseen becomes a certainty and man enters a phase of his spiritual journey which has been figuratively narrated in the Holy Quran: And remember when the Lord brought forth from Adam’s children – out of their loins – and made them bear witness against their ownselves saying, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ they said ‘Yea, we do bear witness.'(7:173). This is the state of an inner soul of a searching mind. As scientists are more practical than philosophers in their search they more easily submit to the truth confessing their shortcomings as in this respect Joseph Needham wrote: The concept of revelation is removed from science The world as seen by science is not the world- as it really is. (Sceptical Biologist, as quoted by Joad). Where philosophy failed science took over and carried on the search. It also proved almost helpless in discovering Reality and seems to be turning to religion for guidance as clearly stated after having interviewed eminent scientists: In the new universe, it appears our religious insight is granted as great validity as our scientific insight. Indeed, in the opinion of the greatest creator of them all (Einstein) our religious insight is the source and guide of our scientific insight (Interviews with Eminent Scientists, Observer, April 13, 1930). Islam claims to be th religion of nature. As nature is from God so, in correspondence with nature, religion should also come from God Who says in the Holy Quran: So set thy face to the service of religion with single minded devotion. And follow the nature made by Allah, the nature according to which REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 47 He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah. That is the right religion – but most men know not. (30:31). God reveals knowledge of Himself and guidance for mankind through His prophets who never express doubts as do the philosophers. The Prophets talk of knowledge through experience and invite others to have the experience of God for themselves. In the Holy Quran Allah, Almighty God, commanded the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to say: Say, ‘This is my way; I call unto Allah standing on sure ground, I and those who follow me.’ (12:109). The call of the Holy Prophet of Islam is so meaningful and sure that no one can find an iota of doubt therein; rather so much certain assurance has been given that his followers joined him filled with sure knowledge of .the truth of his message: The Holy Quran gives the glad tidings: Say, If you love Allah,follow me; then will Allah love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Most forgiving and Merciful. (3:32). Man’s quest of knowledge is for the realisation of the Absolute Reality and to dispel any doubts that may linger in the human mind Allah established the institution of Prophethood. Scriptures confirm God’s attributes of hearing and answering prayer which can be manifested in the form of supplication, restlessness or enthusiasm when in search for some truth of nature controlled by the Absolute Reality. Allah says in the Holy Quran: And Your Lord says, ‘Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer.’ (40:61). And again: Who answers the cry of the distressed person when he calls upon Him. (27:63). God is Most Merciful: My Mercy encompasses all things. (7:157). The most compassionate love of Allah brings about the desired result of man’s strivings. Man is punished or recompensed when he has the freedom of action. If he has no choice he would not be punished. We read in the Holy Quran: The result of his striving will soon be known. (53:41) 48 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Allah burdens not any soul against its capacity. It shall have the reward it earns; and the punishment it incurs. (2:287). All doubtful questions are answered in religion. Islam does not impose blind faith. No doubt it does enjoin faith in the unseen but man is not left in doubt about it. Rather he is strengthened in his belief. Allah has promised in the Holy Quran: As for those who strive to meet meet Us – We will, surely, guide them in Our ways. And, verily, Allah is with those who do good. (29:70). What is the prescribed way? It has already been mentioned when God commanded the Holy Prophet of Islam:’ Say, ‘If you love Allah, follow me; then will Allah love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Most Forgiving and Merciful.’ (3:32). The Holy Quran tells us in what manner one is blessed with Divine love by following the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him): 0, thou soul at peace. Return to thy Lord, thou well pleased with Him, and He well pleased with thee, so enter thou among my chosen servants. (89:28-30). Paradise is the abode of the soul in the hereafter for the righteous _ believers; and it is also mentioned in the Holy Quran that the servants of God will also enjoy a blissful life in this world: And for him who fears to stand before his Lord there are two gardens. (55:47). The Arabic word Jannat used in- the above verse means gardens and paradise. True believers can enjoy a taste of paradise in this very world as again we read in the Holy Quran: As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them reassuring them: ‘Pear not, nor grieve; and rejoice in the glad tidings of the Garden which you were promised. We are your friends in this life and in the Hereafter. Therein you will have all that your souls will desire and therein you will have all that you ask for. An entertainment from the Most Forgiving, Merciful God. (41:31-33). In looking for the truth of the Ultimate Reality Toynbee, instead of attending to any Divine call for the answer has suggested that leaders of REVIEW OH RELIGIONS 49 different religions should tolerate one another and wait for the answer of the problem. He said in his Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh: The practical test of a religion, always and everywhere, is its success or failure in helping human souls to respond to the challenge of suffering and sin. In the chapter of the world’s history on which we are entering, it looks as if the continuing progress of technology were going to make our suffering more acute than ever and our sins more devastating in their practical consequences. This is going to be the testing time, and if we are wise, we shall await its verdict. If we do not feel that we can afford to wait for time to do its discriminating work, we are confessing the lack of faith in the truth an^alue of religion that happens to be ours. On the other hand, if we do have faith in it, we shall have no fear that it will fail to play its full part in helping human souls to enter communion with the presence behind the phenomena and to bring themselves into harmony with the Absolute Reality. The mission of higher religions are not competitive; they are complementary. We can believe in our own religion without having to feel that it is the sole repository of truth. We can love without having to feel that it is the sole means of salvation. (Toynbee, Historical Approach to Religion). We must, of course, appreciate the late Prof. Toynbee’s recognition for the need of understanding between different religions. But it does not solve the problem. Islam points to the Divine knowledge and guidance revealed by God through His prophets who were raised for the enlighten- ment of mankind. SELF REFORM The mightiest man is he who restrains his passions. The weaker dan is Tie who loses heart in self reform. All the occupations of a Wiseman are for his self reform, all his cares for the benefit of the next world and all his endeavours are for the good of the life to come. (Hazrat All) The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-six years the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to millions of readers and many fortunate persons have recognized the truth of Islam and accepted it through its study. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutation of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamic teachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its Holy Founder. Printed by Raqeem Press Islamabad, Shtephatch Lane, Tilford. Surrey GU10 2AQ, U.K. Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16 Gressenhall Road, London SW18 SQL.