Discrimination Between Truthfulness and Falsehood – Sermon on the Mount

Dalhousie, India. © Manmeet3105 | Dreamstime.com
Dalhousie, India.
© Manmeet3105 | Dreamstime.com

Translated from the Urdu by Tariq H. Malik

This is the admission of one of the most eminent Christian clergymen of the Indian Subcontinent, who conceded that the concept of Trinity is contrary to the human intellect.

The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa prophesised that one of the major tasks of the Messiah of the latter days would be to ‘break the cross.’ Although we believe all religions to be true in their origin and consider Jesusas to be a true Prophet of God, with the passage of time his teachings have been distorted and the text of the Holy Scriptures interpolated. The Trinity was not the concept of Jesusas for all true religions believed in the Unity of God. Hence the ‘breaking of the cross’ would not be achieved literally, but rather through presenting logical arguments and proofs and with the help of the Holy Spirit, to refute the false belief that Jesusas was crucified. Indeed he was not crucified but was saved from an ‘accursed’ death. This fact alone suffices to ‘break the cross,’ and thus the religion that symbolises the cross would be overcome.

This prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa was magnificently fulfilled by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. Hazrat Ahmadas refuted the false beliefs of distorted Christian teachings, which the Christian Messiah did not even hint toward such as the belief in Trinity, Divinity of the Messiah and the Atonement. Moreover he also refuted the misconception among contemporary Christians that Jesusas was physically raised to the heavens and that he would descend sometime in the future. Hazrat Ahmadas abolished this erroneous concept by revealing the exact burial place of Jesusas in Khaniyar, Kashmir. After the demise of Hazrat Ahmadas, God established the institution of Khilafat (Succesorship) in accordance with the prophecies in the Holy Qur’an and by the Holy Prophetsa. This Khilafat would seek to restore true Islamic teachings and win people’s hearts with love, compassion and by focussing on self-reform, establishing a living relationship with God and by endeavouring to help mankind in every way possible. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra (1889-1965) was the second Khalifah (Successor) of the Promised Messiahas. He continued the Promised Messiah’sas mission by presenting not only the rational and intellectual arguments to demonstrate Islam’s incontestable philosophy, but also through the establishment of missions and mosques throughout the world and initiating the publication of literature, he was able to prove to the entire world that the Trinity was a false concept.

This article will discuss the fascinating two-hour dialogue between Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra (who in this article will be referred to as ‘Musleh Mau’ood, meaning the Promised Reformer) and the distinguished and renowned Christian clergyman, Rev. Youngson, who was compelled to admit that the Christian concept of the Trinity cannot be understood by human intellect. This episode occurred when Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra was approximately 22 years of age, and therefore, was at a time before he was Divinely conferred with the mantle of Khilafat.

Explaining the background to the event, which Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra named ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ he says:

Sometime back, I happened to visit Dalhousie1 where I had the opportunity to discourse with a renowned cleric of the Punjab. In my view this text is as significant for seekers of truth as the original Sermon [and therefore I have recorded this discussion]. As it was held with a Christian at a hill station I have deemed it appropriate to entitle it ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ It is hoped that the Christian clergy will pay due attention to the discourse and not be offended by the ideas expressed therein.” [2]

Before discoursing on the details of the event, it is important to note that it remains a common practice in religious debates in the Indian Subcontinent to address the opposing person in a hostile fashion. In contrast to the norm, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra engaged in this debate in a very dignified manner.

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra met Rev. Youngson one evening, whilst returning from a walk in Dalhousie and desired to converse with him. Later when Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra saw the Reverend carrying a bundle of books all written against Islam, a passionate desire developed within him to engage in religious dialogue on account of his immense zeal to defend Islam he had developed by virtue of the Promised Messiahas.

A few days after, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra called on Rev. Youngson at his residence with some of his companions. The Reverend’s residence was a grand mansion, constructed on a beautiful, stunning and atmospheric mountainous terrain in Dalhousie, India. Observing the spectacular scenery, the following words of Jesusas immediatelycame to Hazrat Musleh Mau’ood’sra mind:

And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And I say to you again, that it is easier for a Camel to go through the opening of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”[3]

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra instructed his Arab friend to seek permission from Rev. Youngson before entering his house – once again a small example of good etiquettes displayed. Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra writes:

“The clergyman was stood in the veranda of his house and upon seeing us, warmly welcomed us and sat all three of us in the living room…During our meeting, we found Rev. Youngson4, for that was his name, to be amicable, gentle and well-mannered just as many who knew him told us he would be.

Here we observe a notable difference between the above manner of expression, as compared to the customary way religious dialogues are held in the subcontinent, where the opponent takes even subtle and good qualities of the other party and portrays them in an entirely negative light. In stark contrast, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra, despite considering Rev. Youngson as an opponent of Islam, describers his manners and good conduct in a respectful and affable manner.

Prior to the actual meeting, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said the following wise words to Rev. Youngson:

“I made it clear that I wanted to ask him certain questions not as a follower of a particular religion, but as a seeker of truth.”

A scene of a cool river and mountain at the hill station in Dalhousie. © Shailesh Nanal | Dreamstime.com
A scene of a cool river and mountain at the hill station in Dalhousie.
© Shailesh Nanal | Dreamstime.com

This was a profound statement that left an indelible impact on the ensuing discussion. Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra could have, if he so desired, continued the dialogue explaining that he was a Muslim and still outwitted the Pastor. However anyone experienced in engaging in religious debates with Christian missionaries knows (and this author also has experience of this)that Christian Priests, in response to allegations made on the corrupted principles of their faith, immediately attack Islam with baseless allegations, which have no link with Islam. This opens the door to verbal altercation. By posing questions as a ‘seeker of truth’ with regards to the principals of the Christian concept of the Trinity, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra from the outset of the discussion closed the door to false attacks on Islam, a tactic that would have been used by the Christian.

The discussion commenced with Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra enquiring from Rev. Youngon about his understanding of the Trinity. Considering the fact that the essence of faith is based on the existence of God, the question posed by Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra was full of wisdom. Throughout the dialogue whenever Rev. Youngson sought to deviate from the subject, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra would quickly bring him back to the topic under discussion. As readers will see in the end, Rev. Youngson felt obliged to label the concept of the Trinity unfathomable to the human intellect. Rev. Yougnson responded to Hazrat Musleh Mau’ood’sra question:

In my view the Trinity comprises the union of three uqnum – God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I recognise the godhood of all three.”

In response, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra posed a question that left the Reverend in a rather difficult predicament. Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said:

“Reverend! What do you mean by uqnum?”

This apparently small question baffled Rev. Youngson; because if he was to start explaining the commentary of the word ‘uqnum’, he would have to concede that there are three gods in the Trinity. Yet by the proclamation of Jesusas, God is One, and the famous words of the Bible “Shama’ Yashrael”, that “O Israel! God your God is one God”, the Christians are compelled to believe in one God, whereas their religious practices implies the belief in three gods.

Shrewdly, the Reverend attempted to dodge this question by replying, “it is a word taken from your own language.” Now, if the meaning of uqnum is taken as a person or being, which is subservient to other beings or persons, then on account of its commentary, the Priest would have to admit that God the Father is one entity who is independent from the Son and the Son is an entity which is independent from the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are compelled to say that there are three gods. Which is what led him to say: “I cannot suggest any other word.

This gave Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra an even stronger grip of the conversation and he said, “Alright, if you can’t suggest any other word in Urdu or Arabic, then [try in] English.”

The Reverend said, “In English we would say ‘personality’.

When the word ‘person’ or ‘personality’ is used with reference to a human being, we cannot say that ‘person’ x and ‘person’ y are the same ‘person’. Rev. Youngson stated that the trinity is the name of three persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and all three are persons and he believes in the Divinity of all three. Thus, one would have to accept that there are three Gods because the ‘person’ of Father is also God and at the same time, a separate ‘person’ from of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The ‘person’ of the Son is also God while at the same time being separate and distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The person of the Holy Spirit is God and at the same time it is separate and distinct from the Father and the Son.

It appears that Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra did not enter into the debate of ‘entities’, instead, he put forth this question of what the status of all three is and who the Creator of this world is. In order to avert this simple question, Rev. Youngson replied that, “God is love.” Since it was necessary for a being to exist that God could love; hence, the son was needed. It is evidently clear that Rev. Youngson wanted to overlook the original question. The question was, out of the three who created the world? And the answer is: “God Does not need a son to love?”

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra stated, “But right now, I want to understand the concept of trinity. My question was, how did the world come into being and who created it?”

Rev. Youngson replied, “God created it from the Word.”

Those who have read the Gospel of John in the New Testament are aware of this as it states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

By giving this answer, the Reverend’s effort to divert the course of the discussion proved in vain. He thought that since the Hoy Quran calls the Christian Messiah ‘word’, he would be able to prove his rather odd and perplexing viewpoint from the Holy Qur’an.

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra immediately seized this opportunity and said, “Did the Word become the world and is this world a part of it or did God say ‘Be’ and it became?” It was obvious that, at this point, Rev. Youngson was cornered. If the Reverend said that the word itself became the world, he would have had to admit that the Messiah, who Christians consider to be the ‘Word’, is no longer God, rather, he becomes the world. And if he said that God “commanded” and the world came into being, then still the command – otherwise known as the Word, cannot be called God either.

The Reverend had no way out of this predicament so he tried to create more confusion by making an irrelevant remark and said smilingly:

No. We do not say the world was created ex nihilo. This is an Aryah view. Once an Aryah Samaj member asked me how the world was created and how something could come from nothingness. I replied, that it is not our viewpoint that God can create a thing from nothingness; that God said, ‘Be’ and it became.”

In order to avoid the original question, Rev. Youngson started discussing the subject of creating from nothing. Whilst it is obviously clear that the question was, if the Father is God, and the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God as well, then who is the Creator of the world out of all these three entities.

Hazrat Musleh Mau’ood’sra repeated his question, “A fine response indeed, however, my question was whether the world came into effect from the Word, or the command of God.

Rev. Youngson replied, “The Word is the Messiah. The Gospels say that in the beginning there was the Word and the Word was with God and God itself. It encompassed everything, even life. Thus, the Messiah was with God since the beginning and the world was created from the Messiah.”

Since the Reverend’s answer would result in a deadlocked situation; that is to say, if the Messiah was the Word and the Word of God then it took the embodiment of the world, this would bring an immediate end to the Divinity of the Messiah. For this reason, Rev. Youngson at once tried to steer the course of discussion in another direction and said, “In Islam too the Messiah has been called the Word. Would you like me to enlighten or inform you about this?

But Hazrat Musleh Mau’ood’sra insight had already outwitted the Reverend’s shrewdness: Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said:

“Reverend, at the very beginning of our discussion I mentioned that I have come to you as one who considers all religions to be equal. And though I am a Muslim, currently I seek to discourse with you as a person who is still researching into the world’s religions. Please, therefore, speak to me with reference to the Gospels. If I need to know something from the Holy Qur’an, what need is there to consult a priest. I would go to the maulawi [Muslim cleric] to know about the Qur’an and I will look for a pundit to enquire about the Vedas. It makes no sense to go to maulawi to learn about the Bible, or to go to a priest to learn about the Qur’an. Please converse with me from the Bible.”

Rev. Youngson had no way of escape and he remarked, “From the Bible we learn that the world was created from the Word.”

A cottage covered in snow in Dalhousie. This is a general photo of Dalhousie and not the actual image of the cottage being discussed in this article. © Indiatraveler | Dreamstime.com
A cottage covered in snow in Dalhousie. This is a general photo of Dalhousie
and not the actual image of the cottage being discussed in this article.
© Indiatraveler | Dreamstime.com

In response Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra raised a point, which the Christian world has not been able to provide an answer to till today. Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said:

“Reverend, why then do you believe in the Trinity? The Word is one of the many attributes of God just like “the All-Hearing”, “the All-Powerful”, “the All-Knowing” and “the Creator”. Why is the attribute, “the Word” singled out? Surely, All His attributes should be considered as God. Thus, according to the principles of your own religion, Godhood should comprise of more than just the trinity.”

This remarkable reasoning by Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra has stunned those who inferred divinity of the Messiah from this excerpt of John’s Gospel. And to this day, they do not have any answer to this argument.

Rev. Youngson’s response to this was rather amusing. He said:

Oh, but you have misunderstood. Do you consider God’s speech like human speech? You also aver that God is not like human beings and that His Word is not an attribute but a power.”

Rev. Youngson had forgotten that when Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra was mentioning attributes of Hearing, Seeing, Knowledge of all things and Creation, He was not referring to human beings, but all these attributes pertained to God. Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra raised an important question that if the word of God is called God, why were these other attributes of God not called God?

The response that Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra gave to Rev. Youngson is worth reading:

Reverend, words are a means of communication through which we manifest to others what is in our hearts, and as you have said, God is very different from humans. He is the Creator and we are the created. However, you assert that like God, humans are also endowed with many attributes like sight, hearing and knowledge; similarly, you also deem those faculties to be different from the attributes of God the Exalted. Why do you distinguish between His Word and His other attributes? You consider His knowledge and hearing an attribute, but deem His Word a different entity altogether under the pretext that God is unlike humans. When we call out to someone to come to us they respond to this instruction. This is a means of communication, but we do not consider our speech to be a separate person like ourselves nor do we say that we are two; that is to say “us” and “the Word.” To refer to God’s Word as a being, and not do the same in the case of His other attributes like hearing and sight, is to prefer one thing over another without reason. Why do you only regard the Word from which the world was created as a Divine being? And why do you not consider the Torah, the Gospels and other Prophetic scriptures as Gods especially since John says ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The excerpt of John in the New Testament used as an argument to prove the divinity of the Messiah, was utterly rebutted by the wisdom of Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra. If the Word is God because it is with God, then why cannot the attributes of seeing, hearing and knowledge be considered as God?

This was a profound argument presented by Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra. If the ‘Word’ is to be considered ‘God’ on account of the aforementioned passage of in John, and then the Torah, Bible and Holy Scripture are also to be considered to be the Word of God, then the obvious conclusion from these two statements is that Scriptures are also God.

Rev. Youngson could not respond to this powerful argument. He only said:

“No! No! We do not consider the Bible as God. This goes against our religious teachings. We consider the Word an entity not an attribute. ”

At this Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra enquired, “What exactly do you think the Word is?”Rev. Youngson replied, “Power.” The Reverend forgot that ‘power’ is not a separate entity. ‘Qadir,’ meaning All-Powerful, is a separate entity.

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra responded:

“You consider the Word to be power, but power has no independent existence. For example, I have the power to hold something in my hand but this is subordinate to my will. It has no independent knowledge of its own. When I direct my hand to grasp something it does. With these very hands, I can hold the most beneficial and injurious objects. For example, I have just instructed my hand to pick up this object – and in accordance with my will and knowledge it has – but my hand has no understanding of its actions. If you refer to the Word as the Messiah and then at the same time call it Power as well, even then, the Messiah and the power he possesses cannot be considered two separate beings. Every being is invested with some sort of power and capacity, therefore, according to your philosophy; we must assume that every single being possesses two entities. Secondly, as I have said earlier, in such a case it suggests that the Messiah [being a Power] was bereft of knowledge and intention, because Power is completely subordinate to the knowledge and will of God. Anything that is an instrument in the hands of an All-Knowing and All-Powerful God and has no say cannot itself be God. Only God is without blemish and worthy of all excellence.

After hearing Hazrat Musleh Mau’ood’sra strong and compelling reasoning, Rev. Youngson perhaps became concerned that whilst he was attempting to give Jesusas the status of God, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra had deduced from the Reverend’s statement that Jesusas was not only not Divine, but also devoid of knowledge and power. Hence, Rev. Youngson said, “We do not consider the Messiah devoid of knowledge – He is All-knowing.”

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said:

Indeed, it is true that you believe the Messiah to possess knowledge, and yet, in the Gospels the Messiah claims not to possess any knowledge. But this is not my concern at the current time. [Let us suppose for a moment] I believe in what you say and the Messiah is a god. But this is only a matter of belief. As I have mentioned before, I have come to you as a seeker of truth looking to compare the various creeds of the world to arrive at a conclusion as to which is correct. And since one who searches for the truth does not follow any scripture – it is necessary that they are convinced by logic and reason. As I have already mentioned, if the Messiah is the Word, then he is without knowledge. Either he is not the Word, or if he is, then he is bereft of any knowledge.”

Rev. Youngson in a sense accepted defeat, because he said, “No doubt this is what logic and reason dictate, but the Gospels differ.”

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said, “Can one understand the Trinity through logic?”

Rev. Younson used the approach normally adopted by Christians in a similar situation, which is to confuse the discussion. He said, “Man cannot comprehend Divine reality and nature.”
At this, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra elaborated on a fundamental fact of reality and explained that an issue or subject that cannot be understood is a separate matter, whereas something beyond our understanding is another matter altogether. Although God’s Existence is beyond human understanding, it is the obligation of religion to explain the matters of faith, which are integral ingredients to achieve atonement. These issues should be explained in a manner that they make sense to the human intellect. Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said:

According to your beliefs the Trinity is the most integral prerequisite to attain salvation in Christianity; therefore it was essential that it be explained in such a way by means of which the human intellect may grasp it.”

Rev. Youngson appeared to be defeated in front of the great spiritual champion, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra. In reply to Hazrat Musleh Maud’sra argument he said, “Yes! This stands to reason but one must first believe in the Gospels then the Trinity.”

Rev. Youngson failed to understand that the New Testament, which he persistently regarded as an essential requisite to believe in, does not even mention the word ‘Trinity’ in it, neither does it interpret this word in the Christian ideology.

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said, “One can accept the Gospels only if they are satisfied with the tenets of Christianity. How can one accept the Gospels before these issues get resolved?”

Before leaving, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra gave yet another strong blow to the distorted state of modern-day Christianity, which is totally contrary to the beliefs of the Christian Messiah. Addressing Rev. Youngson, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said:

All right, the idea of the Trinity cannot be resolved through logic and reason. Then please answer this for me – who conducts the affairs of the universe, God the father or God the son?

The Reverend replied, “According to the Gospels it is the responsibility of the Messiah, the son.”

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said, “Does this mean that God the Father is now idle.”

The Reverend said, “No. The suspension of Divine attributes is not possible. God the Father administers the heavens and the earth.”

Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra said, “Reverend! You have just said that it is the Son who governs the universe.

At this, Rev. Youngson said: “these matters cannot be understood by intellect. Instead, they can be comprehended on only after believing in the word of God, The New Testament.”

After saying the following, Hazrat Musleh Mau’oodra took leave:

How can one study the Gospels when the fundamental principles of Christianity are beyond comprehension? You yourself have admitted that the Trinity cannot be understood through reason. We will beg leave now, as further discussion is futile.”

 

Endnotes

1. A hill station in the foothills of Himalayas. [Translator]

2. Anwarul ‘Alum, Vol. 1, p. 341.

3. Mathew 20, Verses 20, 23, 24.

4. 2Rev. J.W. Youngson: Principal Scotch Mission High School, Founder Principal Murray College, Sialkot (1889-1891)[Translator]

 

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