God’s Beauty and Beneficence – Part 7

God’s law of nature and thebook of nature, which have been in existence since the creation of man, teach us that to establish a strong relationship with God it is necessary to have experienced His Beneficence and His Beauty. As pointed out before, by beneficence is meant instances of the moral qualities of God Almighty which a man might have personally experienced in his own being. For instance, God may have become his Guardian when he was helpless and weak and an orphan. Or God may have fulfilled his need at a time of want; or God may have helped him at a time of great sorrow; or God may have guided him without the intervention of a preceptor or guide in his search after God. By His beauty are also meant His attributes which appear in the guise of beneficence, for instance, His perfect Power or His Tenderness or His Kindness or His Rububiyyat or His Compassion, or 4 The Review of Religions – February 2005 This series sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as), Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a summary of his exposition of four outstanding topics: ISLAM; ALLAH, THE EXALTED; THE HOLY PROPHET(sa) and THE HOLY QUR’AN. The original compilation, in Urdu, from which these extracts have been translated into English, was collated with great care and diligence by Syed Daud Ahmad Sahib, Allah have mercy on him and reward him graciously for his great labour of love. Amin. The English rendering is by the late Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, may Allah be pleased with him, and is quoted from The Essence of Islam, Volume 1. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an. GOD’S Beauty and Beneficence (part 7) His general Rububiyyat and those common bounties which are available in large numbers for the comfort of man. There is also His knowledge which a person obtains through Prophets and thereby saves himself from death and ruin. Also His attribute that He hears the supplications of the restless and fatigued ones. Also His excellence that He inclines towards those who incline towards Him, even more so. All this is comprised in God’s Beauty. The very same attributes when they are experienced by a person become His Beneficence with reference to him, though they are only His Beauty with reference to others. When a person experiences in the shape of Beneficence those Divine attributes which constitute His Beauty, his faith is strengthened beyond measure and he is drawn towards God as iron is drawn towards a magnet. His love for God increases manifold and his trust in God becomes very strong. Having experienced that all his good is in God, his hopes in God are strengthened. He continues to incline towards God n a t u r a l l y, without pretence and a ffectation, and finds himself dependent upon God’s help every moment and believes firmly through the contemplation of Divine attributes that he will be successful, because he has experienced in his own person 5The Review of Religions – February 2005 The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim c o m m u n i t y. GOD’S BEAUTY AND BENEFICENCE many instances of God’s grace, favour and generosity. Therefore, his supplications proceed from the fountain of power and certainty and his resolve becomes extre- mely firm and unshakable. In the end, having observed Divine favours and bounties, the light of certainty enters with great force into him and his ego is altogether consumed. On account of the frequent contemplation of the greatness and power of God, his heart becomes the House of God. As the human soul never leaves his body while a person is alive, in the same way, the certainty that enters into him from God, the Mighty and Glorious, never leaves him. The Holy Spirit surges inside him all the time and he speaks under the instruction of this very Spirit. Verities and insights flow out of him and the tent of the Lord of Honour and Majesty is ever set in his heart. The delight of certainty, sincerity and love flows through him like water whereby every limb of his is nourished. His eyes exhibit the brightness of nour- ishment and his forehead reveals its light. His countenance appears as if it had been washed by the rain of Divine love and his tongue partakes fully of this freshness. All his limbs exhibit a brightness, as after a spring shower an attractive freshness is revealed in the branches, leaves, flowers and fruits of trees. The body of a person on whom this spirit has not descended and who has not been refreshed by it is like a corpse. This freshness and joyousness cannot be des- cribed in words and can never be acquired by the dead heart which has not been refreshed by the fountain of the light of certainty. On the contrary, it stinks. But the one who has been bestowed this light, and inside whom this fountain has burst forth, exhibits as one of his signs that all the time and in everything, in every word and in every action, he receives power from God. This is his delight and his comfort and he cannot live without it. [Review of Religions, Urdu, Vol.1, pp.186-187] Perfect praise is offered for two kinds of excellences, fullness of beauty and fullness of benefi- cence. If anyone possesses both 6 GOD’S BEAUTY AND BENEFICENCE The Review of Religions – February 2005 these excellences, one’s heart becomes enamoured of him. The principal function of the Holy Qur’an is to display both these excellences of God, so that people may be drawn towards that Being Who has no equal or like, and should worship Him with the eagerness of their souls. For this purpose, in the very first chapter, it sets out the excellences of the God to Whom it invites people. That is why this chapter opens with Alhamdu lillah, which means that all praise belongs to the Being Whose name is Allah. In the idiom of the Qur’an, Allah is the name of the Being Whose excellences have reached the perfection of beauty and benefi- cence, and Who suffers from no d e f i c i e n c y. The Holy Qur’ a n invests the name of Allah with all attributes and thus indicates that Allah comprehends all perfect attributes. As He comprises every excellence, His beauty is obvious. By virtue of this beauty, He is named Light in the Holy Qur’an as is said: Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. (Ch.24: V.36) This means that all light is but a reflection of His light. Almighty Allah’s Attributes of Beneficence Divine qualities of beneficence are many, of which four are basic. In their natural order, the first one is that which is described in Surah Fatihah (first chapter of the Holy Qur’an) as Rabb-ul-’Alamin. T h i s means that the Rububiyyat of God A l m i g h t y, that is to say, the creation and carrying to perfection of the universe, is in operation all the time. The world of heaven and earth, the world of bodies and souls, the world of animals, vegetables and minerals, and all other worlds, are being nurtured by His Rububiyyat. The worlds through which a human being passes before his taking shape as a sperm till his death, or his arrival in his second life, are all nourished from the fountain of Rububiyyat. Thus Divine Rububiyyat, because it comprehends all souls, bodies, animals, vegetables, and minerals etc. is named the most general grace, inasmuch as everything that exists is its recipient and 7The Review of Religions – February 2005 GOD’S BEAUTY AND BENEFICENCE comes into being through it. Although Divine R u b u b i y y a t i s the originator of everything that exists, and nourishes and sustains it, yet its greatest beneficiary is man because he derives benefit from the whole of creation. Therefore, man has been remind- ed that his God is R a b b – u l – ’ A l a m i n so that he should be encouraged to believe that the power of God Almighty is vast and that for man’s benefit He can bring into being all types of resources. The second excellence of God A l m i g h t y, which is His benef- icence in the next degree and which is called general grace, is Rahmaniyyat, by virtue of which God is named Rahman in Surah Fatihah. In the idiom of the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty is called R a h m a n because He bestowed upon every living thing, which includes man, its appropriate shape and qualities. That is to say, man was bestowed all faculties and powers and was given a shape and limbs which were needed by the type of life which had been designed for him and to which they were suited. Whatever was needed for his maintenance was provided. Birds, animals and man were all bestowed powers that were suited to them. Thousands of years before their coming into being, God Almighty by virtue of His attribute of R a h m a n i y y a t, created the heavenly and earthly bodies so that all living things might be safeguarded. No one’s action has anything to do with the Rahmaniyyat of God Almighty. It is pure mercy which came into operation before the coming into being of living things. Man is the principal beneficiary of the Rahmaniyyat of God Almighty, inasmuch as everything is sacrificed for his success. Therefore, he is reminded that God is Rahman. The third excellence of God A l m i g h t y, which is His beneficence in the third degree, is Rahimiyyat, by virtue of which God has been named Rahim in Surah Fatihah. In the idiom of the Holy Qur’an, God is called Rahim when accepting the prayers, supplications and righteous actions of people, He safeguards them against calamities, mis- fortunes and waste of effort. This 8 GOD’S BEAUTY AND BENEFICENCE The Review of Religions – February 2005 beneficence is described as special grace and is confined to human beings. Other things have not been bestowed the faculty of prayer and supplication and righteous action, but man has been bestowed this faculty. Man is an articulate animal and can be the recipient of Divine grace through the exercise of his faculty of speech. Other things have not been bestowed this faculty. It is obvious, therefore, that suppli- cation is a quality of humanness, which is inherent in man’s nature. Man derives grace from the Divine attribute of Rahimiyyat as he derives from the attributes of Rububiyyat and Rahmaniyyat; the only difference is that Rububiyyat and Rahmaniyyat do not demand supplication as they are not confined to man and bestow their grace upon all living things, and indeed R u b u b i y y at comprises within itself beneficence towards animals, vegetables, minerals and heavenly and earthly bodies. Nothing is outside the operation of its grace. As a contrast, Rahimiyyat is a special robe of honour for man. If man does not derive benefit from this attribute, he reduces himself to the condition of animals, nay, even of minerals. The operation of R a h i m i y y a t having been confined to man, and supplication being needed for bringing it into operation, it shows that there is a type of Divine grace which is conditioned upon supplication and cannot be achieved without supplication. This is the way of Allah and is a definite law the contravention of which is not permissible. That is why all Prophets [peace be on them] supplicated for their fol- lowers. The Torah reveals that on many occasions the children of Israel offended God Almighty and were about to be chastised, but the chastisement was averted by the prayers, supplications and pros- trations of Moses(as) though time after time God announced that He would destroy Israel. All this shows that prayer is not in vain, nor is it a type of worship which does not procure any grace. This is the thinking of those who do not estimate God Almighty as He should be estimated, and who do not reflect deeply on God’s 9 GOD’S BEAUTY AND BENEFICENCE The Review of Religions – February 2005 words nor do they observe the law of nature. The truth is that grace does certainly descend in response to supplication and bestows salvation upon us. It is the grace of Rahimiyyat through which man makes progress. Through this grace, man arrives at the stage of Wilayat, and believes in God Almighty as if he was beholding Him. Intercession also depends upon the attribute of Rahimiyyat. It is Rahimiyyat of God Almighty that demands that good people should intercede for bad people. The fourth beneficence of God Almighty, which might be named most special grace, is Malikiyyat of the Day of Judgement, by virtue of which He has been named M a l i k i – Ya u m – i d – D i n i n Surah Fatihah. The diff e r e n c e between this attribute and Rahimiyyat is that through prayer and worship Rahimiyyat operates to establish a person’s worthiness and through M a l i k i y y a t t h e reward is awarded. Through the operation of Rahimiyyat, a person deserves success in an affair like a s t u d e n t ’s passing an exam- ination, but to be awarded the rank or other object for which the examination was undertaken and passed is by virtue of the attribute of M a l i k i y y a t. These two attributes indicate that the beneficence of R a h i m i y y a t i s achieved through God’s mercy and the favour of Malikiyyat is achieved through the grace of Almighty God. Malikiyyat would manifest itself on a vast and perfect scale in the hereafter, but in accordance with the measure of this world, all these four attributes manifest themselves in this world as well. [Ayyam-us-Sulah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 14, pp. 247-251] 10 GOD’S BEAUTY AND BENEFICENCE The Review of Religions – February 2005