The Nature of God The Origins of the Universe

Creation and Differences in Rank – Part 10

8 The Review of Religions – May 2005 It would be an intrusion into theworks of God, which is not permissible, to enquire why did God create a difference between capacities and why was not everyone bestowed such capac- ities as would enable him to arrive at the stage of perfect understanding and perfect love. Every reasonable person can understand that no one has a right to question God as to why everyone should not have the same rank and be endowed with excellent faculties. It is a matter of His grace to bestow whatever He wills. For instance, God has made you man and has not made a donkey a man. You have been endowed with reason and a donkey has not been so endowed. You can acquire knowledge and a donkey cannot. It is the will of the Master and is not a matter of right which you have and a donkey has not. In the creation of God a clear d i fferentiation of ranks is dis- cernible which no reasonable person can deny. Then can any part of creation which has no right to exist, let alone a right to be awarded a high rank, raise any objection before the Authoritative 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. Creation & Differences in Rank – part 10 9The Review of Religions – May 2005 Master? It is a bounty and beneficence of God Almighty to bestow the robe of being upon His creatures and it is obvious that a Donor and Benefactor has the authority to regulate His bounty and His beneficence. Had He not the authority to bestow less, He would not have the authority to bestow more and in such case He would not be able to exercise His M a s t e r s h i p . If the creation were vested with any right against the Creator, this would involve a continuous series of claims; for at whatever stage the Creator would place any created being, the latter could claim that he is entitled to a higher rank. If God Almighty can create limitless ranks, and the exaltation of creation does not come to an end by the creation of man, the series of claims on the basis of right would be endless. If the search should be for the wisdom underlying this diff e r- entiation of ranks, it should be understood that the Holy Qur’an has set forth three types of wisdom in that context which are obvious and clear and cannot be denied by any reasonable person. The first one is, that the affairs of the world may be adjusted in the best manner as is said: And they say, ‘Why has not this Qur’an been sent to some great man of the two towns?’ Is it they who would distribute the mercy of thy Lord? It is We Who distribute among them their livelihood in the present life, and We exalt some of them above others in degrees of rank, so that some of them may make others subservient to themselves. And the mercy of thy Lord is better than that which they amass. (Ch.43: Vs.32-33) This means that: The disbelievers say why was this Qur’an not revealed to some chieftain or wealthy personage of Makkah or Ta’if so that it should have suited his eminence and by virtue of his dignity and his statesmanship and his spending his money, the faith could have spread speedily? Why CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 10 The Review of Religions – May 2005 was a person selected for this honour, who is poor and has no property? To these the retort is: Is it they who would distribute the mercy of thy Lord? (Ch.43: V.33) That is to say, it is the doing of the A l l – Wise that He limited the faculties and capacities of some as they became involved in the appendages of this world and took pride in being chieftains and wealthy and rich and forgot the true object of existence. On others, He bestowed spiritual graces and holy excellences and they became the favourites of the True Beloved through their devotion to His love. Then follows the explanation that: It is We Who distribute among them their livelihood in the present life, and We exalt some of them above others in degrees of rank, so that some of them may make others subservient to themselves. And the mercy of thy Lord is better than that which they amass. (Ch.43: V.33) God has made some rich and some poor, some with fine qualities and others dull, some inclined towards one occupation and others to another, so as to make it easy for some to serve others and to cooperate with them in order that responsibility might be shared and human aff a i r s might be carried on with ease. The verse concludes that in this context God’s Book is far more beneficial than worldly riches and properties. This is a subtle allusion to the need for rev- elation. Man is a social animal and none of his affairs can be carried to completion without cooperation. For instance, take bread which is the stuff of life. How much social cooperation is needed for its production? From the stage of cultivation of the earth to the stage when a loaf of bread becomes available for eating, scores of workers have to CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 11The Review of Religions – May 2005 cooperate with each other. This shows how much cooperation and mutual help is needed in different sectors of social affairs. To fill this need the All-Wise One created man equipped with different degrees of faculties and capacities so that everyone should occupy himself pleasurably according to his capacity and inclination; some should engage in cultivation, some should manu- facture agricultural implements, some should grind corn, some should bring water, some should bake bread, some should spin, some should weave, some should engage in trade, some should carry on commerce, some should undertake employment and thus everyone should cooperate and help each other. Cooperation involves dealing with each other and these dealings give rise to questions of treatment, com- pensation, and neglect of duty which demand a system of law which should restrain wrong, trespass, rancour, disorder, and neglect of God, so that the order of the universe should not be upset. The making of a living and the due performance of social duties depend upon justice and the recognition of God and these demand a system of law which should provide for due adminis- tration of justice and proper CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 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 ( s a ) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claims constitute the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim c o m m u n i t y. 12 The Review of Religions – May 2005 understanding of the Divine and which should exclude every type of wrong and every kind of mistake. Such a system of law can be promulgated only by the Being Who is altogether free from forgetfulness, mistake, wrong and trespass and Who is worthy of obedience and respect in His Being. The law may be good, but if the promulgator of the law is not such who by his rank should possess superiority over all and the right to rule over them and if he is in the eyes of the people not free from tyranny, vice, error, and mistake, the law will either not come into operation or if it does come into operation, would give rise to every kind of disorder and instead of doing any good it would result in harm. All this would predicate a Divine Book, for all good qualities and every kind of excellence is to be found only in the Book of God. Secondly, the wisdom underlying a difference of ranks is, that the excellence of good people may be demonstrated, for every good quality is known only by contrast. As it is said: Verily, We have made all that is on the earth as an ornament for it, that We may try them as to which of them is best in conduct. (Ch.18: V.8) That is to say: God has made everything upon earth a source of ornament for it so that the righteousness of the righteous may be demonstrated in com- parison with the wicked, and so that by the observation of that which is dull the fineness of that which is fine may become appar- ent. Opposites are known by comparison with opposites and the value of the good is known by comparison with the bad. T h i r d l y, in differentiation of ranks, it is desired to demonstrate different types of power and to draw attention to God’s greatness as is said: ‘What is the matter with you that you expect not wisdom and staidness from Allah? CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 13The Review of Religions – May 2005 ‘And He has created you in different forms and different conditions. (Ch.71: Vs.14-15) This means that: What ails you that you do not admit the greatness of Allah? Whereas the differentiation of capacities and temperaments was created by the All-Wise so that His Greatness and Power might be recognised. As is said at another place: And Allah has created every animal from water. Of them are some that go upon their bellies, and of them are some that go upon two feet, and among them are some that go upon four. Allah creates what He pleases. Surely, Allah has the power to do all that He pleases. (Ch.24: V.46) This is an indication that all these d i fferent species have been created so that the diverse powers of the Divine might be demonstrated. Thus, the diff e r- entiation in the temperaments and the nature of creation is due to these three considerations which God has set out in the verses cited above. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 203-207, footnote 11) Refutation of the Misguided Notions of the Aryas Pandit Dyanand has recorded at page 501 of his Urdu book Satyarath Prakash t h a t Permeshwar cannot forg i v e anyone’s sin, for if He were to do so He would be guilty of injustice. Thereby he confesses that Permeshwar is merely a judge and is not Master. On the same page he has recorded that Permeshwar cannot bestow unlimited reward for limited actions. But if He is Master, there is no harm in His rewarding limited service with unlimited reward. The Master’s actions are not to be measured by justice. If we own something and out of it we bestow a portion upon someone who asks for it, no one else has the right to complain that more was given to another than to him. In the same way, a creature CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 14 The Review of Religions – May 2005 has no right against God Almighty to demand justice. A servant cannot ask for justice nor can God admit the right of any of His creation to demand justice. Whatever God bestows upon a creature as a reward for his actions is purely His bounty. Actions are nothing in them- selves, for no action can be performed without the support and grace of God. When we reflect upon God’s law, it becomes clear that whatever God Almighty has provided for His creatures is a bounty of two types. One is the bounty which existed before the coming into being of man and man’s action has nothing to do with it. He has created for the benefit of man the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, water, air, fire, etc. and there is no doubt that all these things were prior to the actions of man, and man himself came into being after them. This is the Divine mercy which, in the idiom of the Qur’an, is called Rahmaniyyat. That is to say, such bounty is not bestowed as a reward for a person’s actions, but is by way of pure grace. The second type of mercy is called Rahimiyyat in the idiom of the Qur’an; that is to say, the bounty that is bestowed upon man as a reward for his righteous actions. Can we imagine that the God Who has demonstrated as an instance of His generous Malikiyyat that He made the earth and heavens and the moon and sun, etc. when there was no trace of His creatures and their actions, is indebted to His creatures and rewards them according to their right, but no more? Had His creatures any right that He should have made the earth and heavens for them and should have created thousands of illuminated bodies in the heavens and thousands of things upon the earth which are a source of comfort and ease? To describe that Absolute Donor as a mere dispenser of justice like a judge and to deny His status and dignity as Master is the height of ingratitude. (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 18-20) CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 15The Review of Religions – May 2005 It should be borne in mind that Master is the word which does not admit of any rights, and this expression can be applied in its fullness only to God for He alone is the Perfect Master. A person who accepts another as the Master of his life etc. confesses that he has no right to his life and property and that he owns nothing and everything belongs to the Master. In such a case, it is not permissible for him to demand from his Master that justice should be done to him in such and such a matter because justice depends upon right and he has given up all his rights. In the same way, man who in juxtaposition to his True Master accepted his own status as that of servant and confessed: Who when a misfort u n e overtakes them, say: ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. (Ch.2: V.157) That is to say: Our belongings, life, body and progeny are all the property of God. After this confession there remains no right which he can demand from God. That is why those who are gifted with true understanding, despite every type of endeavour, worship and almsgiving, leave themselves to the mercy of God Almighty and attach no value to their actions and make no claim that they have any right. In truth, God is only He through Whose bestowed strength a person can accomplish anything good, and He is God. No person can demand justice from God Almighty on account of his personal ability or merit. According to the Holy Qur’an, all God’s doings are as Master. As He punishes sin so He also forgives sin. He has power to do both as befits His Malikiyyat. If He were always to punish sin there would be no escape for man, but God forgives most sins and punishes some so that a heedless person being warned should attend to Him. As is said in the Holy Qur’an: And whatever misfort u n e befalls you, is due to what your own hands have wrought. CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 16 The Review of Religions – May 2005 And He forgives many of your sins. (Ch.42: V.31) Whatever misfortune befalls you is in consequence of that which you practise. He pardons many of your sins, and punishes some. And in the same Surah is the verse: And He it is Who accepts repentance from His servants and forgives sins. (Ch.42: V.26) No one should be misled by the fact that the Holy Qur’an also contains the verse: Whoso will have done the smallest particle of ill will also see it. (Ch.99: V.9) Here there is no contradiction for the ill that is mentioned here. It is the ill in which a person persists and from which he does not repent. The Holy Qur’an repeat- edly affirms that remorse and repentance, and non-insistence upon evil, and asking for for- giveness procure forgiveness of sins. Indeed, it is said that God loves those who repent, as in the verse: … Allah loves those who turn to Him and loves those who keep themselves clean. (Ch.2: V.223) That is: God Almighty loves those who repent and loves those who strive to purify themselves from sin. In short, to punish every sin is contrary to the forgiveness and mercy of God Almighty, for He is Master and is not like a magistrate. He has named Himself Master in the very first Surah of the Holy Qur’an where it is said: He is Malik-i-Yaum-id- Din, that is to say, He is the Master of punishment and reward and it is obvious that no one can be called Master unless He has authority to do both, that is to say, to punish when He wills and to forgive when He wills. (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp.15-16) CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK 17The Review of Religions – May 2005 According to the principle of the Aryas, their Permeshwar cannot be called Malik for he has not the power to bestow what he has as a pure bounty or gift, while the donee has no right to it. He who is the owner of property has the authority to bestow any portion of it on anyone he chooses, but the Aryas believe that Permeshwar can neither forgive sins nor can He bestow anything on anyone as a gift or bounty, because if He does either He would be acting unjustly. Those who believe in the transmigration of souls cannot a ffirm that Permeshwar is the Master of creation. We have repeatedly affirmed that it is quite improper to bind a Master to act according to the principles of justice. We can affirm that He Who is Malik i s Rahim a n d Bestower and Generous and forgives sins, but we cannot say that He adheres to justice in respect of His slaves and horses and cattle, inasmuch as the notion of justice is only applicable where there is a certain freedom on both sides. For instance, we can say concerning worldly sovereigns that they are just and treat their subjects with justice. So long as their subjects obey them, the rule of justice makes it obligatory upon them that, in return for the obedience of their subjects and the payment of their dues, the sovereign should safeguard their lives and properties and in times of need should help them out of his wealth. Thus, from one aspect sovereigns impose their com- mands upon their subjects and from another aspect the subjects impose their wishes upon the sovereigns. So long as these aspects operate in cooperation, the country remains at peace, but when either side commits a default the country ceases to be at peace. This shows that we cannot describe a sovereign as a true Malik for he has to behave justly towards his subjects and his subjects have to behave justly towards him. As regards God Almighty, we can call Him Rahim on account of His Malikiyyat, but we cannot call Him just. Any person who is owned by another cannot demand CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK justice from his owner, though he can humbly supplicate for mercy. That is why the Holy Qur’an does not designate God Almighty as just, because justice demands mutual equality. God Almighty is just in the sense that He acts justly as between creatures regarding their mutual rights, but He is not just in the sense that any creature of His might demand his right from Him as an associate. All His creatures belong to God and He has authority to treat them as He might wish. He might be- stow kingdom upon whom He wills and He might make a beggar of him whom He so wills. He might cause anyone to die young or He might bestow a long life upon any. We ourselves when we own anything are free to bestow it as we might choose. Indeed God is Merciful; rather, He is the Most Merciful of all. By virtue of His mercy, and not out of any limits in consideration of justice, He provides for His creation. As we have repeatedly affirmed, the quality of Malikiyyat and the quality of justice are inconsistent with each other. Having been created by Him, we have no right to demand justice from Him. We supplicate Him humbly for mercy. It is most unbecoming for a creature to demand justice from God Almighty in His treatment of him. As everything relating to the nature of man is from God and all of man’s faculties, spiritual as well as physical, are His bounty and a good action can be performed only through the support and strength bestowed by Him, it would be the height of ignorance to demand justice from Him relying upon one’s good actions. We cannot consider such a teaching to be based on true knowledge. Indeed such a teaching is deprived of all true understanding and is full of folly. God Almighty has taught us in the Holy Qur’an that to call God just vis-à-vis His creatures is not only a sin, but a rank blasphemy. (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 32-34) Refutation of the misguided notions of Christians Short-sighted Christians, through lack of proper reflection, are 18 CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK The Review of Religions – May 2005 involved in the false notion that justice and mercy cannot coexist in God Almighty, inasmuch as justice demands punishment and mercy demands forbearance. They fail to consider that the justice of God Almighty is also a mercy for it is all for the benefit of mankind. For instance, if God Almighty adjudges that a murderer should be executed this does not add anything to His Godhead. He ordains this so that mankind should not become extinct through killing each other. This is mercy for mankind and God Almighty has established this system of mutual rights between His creatures so that peace might be maintained and no group should trespass against another and thus create disorder. Thus all the punishments prescribed in the sphere of life, property, and honour are a mercy for mankind…. There is no conflict between justice and mercy. They are like two streams that run parallel to each other in their courses without one interfering with the other. We find the same principle in operation in worldly sover- eignties. An offender is punished, but those who behave well and please the government become recipients of bounties and gifts. It should be borne in mind that the basic attribute of God is mercy, and the notion of justice comes into operation after reason and law are established. That also is in a way a mercy. When reason is bestowed upon a person and, through his reason, he becomes aware of the limits set by God Almighty and His laws, he becomes subject to the operation of justice, but reason and law are not a condition for the operation of mercy. As God Almighty out of His mercy desired to exalt man above the rest of His creation, He prescribed the limits and rules of justice between them. It is a folly to imagine a contradiction between justice and mercy. (Kitab-u1-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 13, pp. 73-74) 19 CREATION AND DIFFERENCES IN RANK The Review of Religions – May 2005