Freedom of Religions

A Response to the Pope’s Remarks about Islam

19The Review of Religions – October 2006 It was in the news yesterday that during a lecture at a university in Germany, the Pope spoke with reference to another writer about certain Islamic teachings, the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet(saw) which do not have the remotest connection to Islam. This is their way to most cleverly speak with reference to another person, thus trying to save their own skin yet putting across what they wish to say. The Pope has tried to create a false impression about the Holy Qur’an, Islam and the Founder of Islam(saw) by saying certain things. While this must have created disquiet among the Muslims, it also demonstrates their own inner feelings against Islam. Such is the stature of the Pope that no matter with what reference he spoke, it was not appropriate for him to have made these observations in the current climate when, in the world, in the West, hatred against the Muslims is being generated through one reference or the other. For the Pope to have stated such a matter is akin to inflaming the situation. What was needed was for him to say that although today some militant Islamic organisations have adopted an erroneous method, the teaching of Islam is contrary to this and in order to establish peace in the world we should work together so that innocent humanity may be saved from destruction. Rather than this, he has tried to lead his followers to believe that this is what the teaching of Islam is. I thought that the Pope was a sensible learned person and would have some knowledge of Islam. However, he has shown his total lack of knowledge through this. In light of the teachings of the A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S REMARKS ABOUT ISLAM The English rendering of a Friday Sermon by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s lecture quoting and ancient dialogue containing false and unfounded allegations against Islam and its Holy Founder(saw) 20 The Review of Religions – October 2006 Messiah(as) [Christ] whose succes- sorship the Pope claims, he should have tried to create peace in the world. Indeed [the Messiah] gave the teaching of even treating one’s enemy with decency. By attributing these wrong matters to the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Holy Qur’an, on one hand the feelings of Muslims have been trifled with, as I said before. On the other hand, by way of reaction, those Muslims who have no control over their emotions may take improper actions that would give the others further propaganda opportunity against Muslims. In addition, it would further increase hatred for Muslims in the hearts of the followers of the Pope and the people of the West who consider Islam to be an extremist religion. May Allah, the Exalted, have mercy and save the world from evil and disorder. This should be the prayer of Ahmadis at all times. In conjunction with prayer, each country should respond to the questions raised [in the lecture]. These are the only two weapons we have and are the ones that we are going to employ. Other than in this way neither has an Ahmadi ever demonstrated a reaction nor will it, Insha’Allah (God willing), ever be the case [that an Ahmadi will react in a different way]. I shall read out a summary of the Pope’s objections against the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet(saw) – the details of which were sent from Germany. He says, ‘I read a dialogue, the text of which was published by a German university professor. This ancient dialogue took place in Ankara in 1391 between a patron of knowledge, the Emperor Manuel and a Persian scholar. It was later scribed by a Christian scholar.’ They acknowledge that as the dialogue was published by a Christian, the Pope has primarily put patron’s point of view across. Their sense of fairness is evident here in that little mention is made of what the Muslim scholar said and it is their own point that is mostly mentioned. Anyhow, as regards the question raised, he says he wishes to talk about that point in his lecture which includes the Emperor’s mention of Jihad and A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 21The Review of Religions – October 2006 that the Emperor certainly had knowledge of it. He gives the reference of verse 257 of Surah Al Baqarah (Chapter 2) which states that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ – in Islam. However, he goes on to say that the Emperor was definitely also aware of the later Qur’anic teachings on holy war or Jihad, the details written in the Holy Qur’an with this reference, for example regarding the People of the Book and disbelievers that they should be treated in a different way – here they give their own reference. He then says that the Emperor puts a fundamental question to his co- conversationalist in astonishing harsh words as to what is the mutual connection between religion and compulsion – reiterating it. The Emperor says: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” He goes on to say that the Emperor expounds that it is contrary to reason to spread religion with force; this teaching is in contrast with the nature of God and nature of the soul. He says that God is not pleased by blood and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. He then says that for the Emperor, who was shaped by Greek philosophy, the above- mentioned sentence is a distinct reality that according to the teachings of Islam, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. He goes on to give a reference of a French expert on Islamic studies who quoted Ibn Hazm in that nothing can force God to make the truth evident to us and if He so wishes, humans would also have to worship idols. Who knows if Ibn Hazm actually said this or not? No reference follows this quotation. He then asks that is the conviction that acting unreasonably contra- dicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea or is it always and, per se, true? He believes, he says, that a deep mutual conformity can be seen between the Greek school of thought and a belief in God that is A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 22 The Review of Religions – October 2006 based on the Bible. Anyhow the rest is a lengthy lecture. As I said before, it is acknow- ledged therein that the words of the Emperor are detailed in comparison to the answers given by the Persian scholar and clearly the Christian who wrote this account was going to strengthen his own arguments to demonstrate his superiority. The arguments of the other side are not presented. Certainly fairness could not have been employed. Anyhow whatever it was, I shall state, in light of the Holy Qur’an and the blessed model of the Holy Prophet(saw), what we Ahmadi Muslims understand briefly because much cannot be said here. However, answers to these questions shall Insha’Allah be prepared for the Pope and we will also try and deliver these to him so that if he was hitherto unaware of the true teaching of Islam, he might find out a little, providing he studies them and reflects over them with fairness and being mindful of his stature. We have great reverence for Jesus(as) in our hearts and we believe him to be a prophet of God. In fact, we believe in and respect all the prophets of God who came to any nation. Christians too should care for the feelings of Muslims and hold the Holy Prophet(saw) in respect and esteem. As I said, the Pope gives reference of the Emperor and says that the Emperor certainly was aware of verse 257 of Surah Al Baqarah (Chapter 2) and this is the verse that maintains that ‘there is no compulsion in religion.’ He says this Surah is from among the early Surahs – although it is not one of the very early ones, it is of the first few Madinah years or so. The Pope states that the Emperor was also aware of the later Surahs and he was aware of the later teachings of Jihad. Whether he was aware as such or not, he definitely had a prejudiced outlook. He says that the Holy Qur’an carries instruction of different treatment for disbelievers and People of the Book – whereas there is no compulsion in religion – and that, God forbid, the teachings of Holy Prophet(saw) is A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 23The Review of Religions – October 2006 only about evil and inhuman teachings and nothing else. According to them, God forbid, the Prophet(saw) said that Islam should be spread with the force of the sword. They themselves attribute something wrong to Islam which is not even remotely connected to its teachings and then they go ahead and declare it to be contrary to reason and contrary to the justice of God. They say that a wise person does not need power or force or weapons. They are absolutely right to say so. However, why are their current day superpowers interfering with nations thousands of miles afar, employing force? They have not answered this. They should advise their own first as to whether what they are doing is right and wrong. Besides, in whose account do they put the internal wars in the history of Christianity? Do they not take note of those? In whose account do they credit the Spanish Inquisition? I shall not go into its detail, they are all aware of it. The Pope says that the Emperor was also aware of the later teachings. What is the teaching of Islam about propagating religion and how did the Holy Prophet(saw) act on it? This “person in the know” was, according to the Emperor, not aware of it. However, I shall present the Holy Prophet’s(saw) practical example. Islam is a religion based on nature; it certainly does not teach one to turn the other cheek. Those, to whom this teaching is given, should say to what extent they abide by it? This is the flaw of their teaching that has distanced the Christians of this age from Christianity. Today no one even attends the weekly Sunday mass at the church apart from the elderly. They have started renting out church buildings for other functions. In the West, numerous churches carry the ‘For Sale’ sign. An American professor, Edwin Lewis, wrote, “the people of the 20th century are not prepared to believe in Jesus as God.” The president of St. Johns College, Oxford, Sir Cyril, said that it should always be remembered that a large portion of men and women from Europe and America have not remained Christian and A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 24 The Review of Religions – October 2006 perhaps it would also be correct to say that their majority is comprised of such people. Similarly, there are various statements of these people about Africa; they acknowledge that this teaching is dwindling. The reason is that they know that now there is only one solution: they have to use cunning ploys against Islam. What is the reality behind the concept of force in Islam that non- Muslims present? It is said that the Emperor was aware of the commandments of Islam! Let us see what the Holy Qur’an states. Allah, the Exalted, got the Holy Prophet(saw) to proclaim: Say, ‘It [Islam] is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve…’ (Ch.18:V.30) The directive is for no compulsion in religion. Then Allah, the Exalted, states: Say, ‘O ye men, now has the truth come to you from your Lord. So whosoever follows the guidance, follows it only for the good of his own soul, and whosoever errs, errs only against it. And I am not a keeper over you.’ (Ch.10:V.109) The Holy Prophet(saw) also exhibited a practical example of this. The Ansar (Medinite Muslims) had given away some of their children to Banu Nazir at birth and when due to some transgressions and wrong doings of theirs, Banu Nazir were given the penalty of exile, the Ansar wanted to take their children back and tried to stop them [from leaving]. The Holy Prophet(saw) said that once they had given the children away it was final. There is no compulsion in religion and hence the children would stay with the guardians. This was indeed his teaching to which his Khulafa and Companions, having compre- hended it, adhered to it. A slave of Hadhat Umar(ra) relates that he was often asked by him to convert to Islam and on his refusal he would say that it was alright as there was no compulsion in Islam. When Hadhrat Umar(ra) was close to his A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 25The Review of Religions – October 2006 death he told his slave that the slave was liberated and was free to go wherever he wanted to go. This is the teaching and the examples in Islam of religious freedom that even a slave was not compelled. Yet the Pope maintains that Islam entails cruelty and harshness. The Holy Qur’an states: Say to those who have been given the Book and to the unlearned, [that is, the idolaters] ‘Have you submitted?’ If they submit, then they will surely be guided; but if they turn back, then thy duty is only to convey the message. And Allah is Watchful of His servants. (Ch.3:V.21) That is to say, now it is up to God in that He would decide who is to be seized, who is to be punished and who is to be treated in what way. These are the [Islamic] commandments. This last verse was revealed after the victory of Makkah when Muslims had power. Rather than objecting, these people should employ wisdom and justice. Not a single example of compulsion can be found in Islam. They object against the Holy Prophet(saw) that he used force, whereas it was not even acceptable to him that anyone should accept Islam with duplicity. A Tradition relates that a disbelieving prisoner was presented to the Holy Prophet(saw) who questioned as to why he was captured as he was a Muslim. The Prophet(saw) replied that if he had accepted Islam beforehand it would have been alright but now that he was a prisoner of war he was purporting to be a Muslim only to seek a release. He did not wish to convert him to Islam with compulsion rather it was his wish that people would submit to God with their hearts and mind. Therefore, later on that prisoner was released in exchange for the release of two Muslim captives. If Islam sanctions war it is only at the time when the enemy is waging war or is creating oppressive circumstances. As soon as the circumstances turn normal and the persecution comes to an end, the commandment is that there is no A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 26 The Review of Religions – October 2006 justification for war. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Holy Qur’an: And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors. (Ch.2:V.194) The assertion here by Allah, the Exalted, to ‘fight those disbelievers who fight you until there is persecution in the land’ is expounded by Ibn Umar who relates: ‘We abided by this Divine commandment. In the days of the Holy Prophet(saw) the Muslims were very few in number and any person who accepted Islam was persecuted for religious reasons by the disbelievers. Some were murdered whereas others were imprisoned. We thus battled to the time when Muslims grew in number and strength and the oppression against them ceased.’ Allah, the Exalted, states: O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do. (Ch.5:V.9) Indeed it was this very sense of A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM HISTORY IS REPLETE WITH INCIDENTS THAT INVALIDATE THE ACCU- SATION BY THE NON- MUSLIMS THAT [PEO- PLES’] RELIGION WAS CHANGED FORCEFULLY. WE HAVE JUST HAD A GLIMPSE OF THE TEACHING OF THE HOLY PROPHET(SAW). HE ONCE SAID A MUSLIM WHO IS GUILTY OF KILLING A NON-MUSLIM WHO HAS COME UNDER A MUSLIM GOVERNMENT VIA A VERBAL OR WRITTEN PACT WILL BE DEPRIVED OF PARADISE ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT IN ADDITION TO THE WORLDLY PUNISHMENT [GIVEN TO HIM]. 27The Review of Religions – October 2006 justice that brought about a revolution at the time of the Holy Prophet(saw) and this revolution was created later as well. On examining the lives of the Companions(ra) one finds that the revolution which came in their lives does not occur by changing a person’s religion by force, rather it comes when hearts and minds are altered; it comes about when the enemy is treated with such courtesy and civility that even the enemy is charmed. For instance, at the time of the victory of Makkah, Ikrama, who was the severest opponent of Islam, fled. In order to bring him back, his wife requested the Holy Prophet(saw) for his pardon and he was thus pardoned. This brought about an incredible revolutionary change in him. Such a revolutionary change cannot be brought about with the force of the sword. The manner in which his faith developed cannot happen without love. The way his heart was replete with sincerity cannot come to pass without love. The sense of sacrifice was increased [in him] in a manner that cannot take place without a change of heart. The sense of honour he exhibited for Islam can only be created by understanding its teaching. The Companions(ra) in general exhibited incredible examples of love and sense of honour for Islam. History is replete with such incidents and thus was the case of Ikrama who I am mentioning here. Earlier, Ikrama fought against the Holy Prophet(saw) in every battle and tried his best to annihilate Islam. Eventually, after the victory of Makkah, he considered sub- ordination of the Holy Prophet(saw) as a source of disgrace for himself and fled as I just mentioned. However, once he accepted Islam, his faith and sincerity was such that during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) he demonstrated matchless sacrifice in destroying the rebels. During one battle when furious fight ensued and people were being cut down in the manner that grass is chopped off with a sickle, Ikrama took a few comrades and went into the heart of the enemy’s force. Some had tried to stop him from doing so as the fighting was turning extremely dangerous and it was not right to A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 28 The Review of Religions – October 2006 leap into the enemy’s forces in this manner. Nevertheless, Ikrama went forward asserting, ‘I have fought the Holy Prophet(saw) for the sake of Lat and Uzza [two pre- Islamic idols], today I shall not stay behind fighting in the way of Allah.’ At the end of the hostilities, his body was found riddled with spear and sword wounds. Ikrama’s sense of monetary sacrifice was such that whenever he received a portion from the spoils of war, he would give it as sadqa (charity); spending liberally for the service of faith. Changes of this ilk are brought about through a change of hearts and not with the force of the sword. History is replete with incidents that invalidate the accusation by the non-Muslims that peoples’ religion was changed forcefully. We have just had a glimpse of the teaching of the Holy Prophet(saw). He once said a Muslim who is guilty of killing a non-Muslim who has come under a Muslim government through an oral or written pact will be deprived of Paradise on the Day of Judgement in addition to the worldly punishment given to him. As for the way of his Khulafa, it is related in a Tradition that once Hadhrat Umar(ra) passed through a place where severity was being used to collect the Jizya (poll-tax paid by non-Muslims) from the non-Muslims. Seeing this he promptly stopped and asked in an angry tone what the matter was. He was told that those people did not pay the Jizya saying that they did not have the capacity to pay it. Hadhrat Umar(ra) said then there was no reason to burden them with something for which they did not have the capacity. He said those people were to be left alone and that he had heard from the Holy Prophet(saw) that a person who hurts others in this world will be under God’s chastisement on the Day of Judgement. As a result, the Jizya of those people was pardoned. In light of the advisory sayings of the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Umar(ra) was so concerned about his non-Muslim subjects that before his death he left a specific will for the Khalifa who was to follow him, the wording of which A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 29The Review of Religions – October 2006 was: ‘I advise the Khalifa who follows me to have a most gentle and compassionate way with the non-Muslim subjects of Islamic government; to fulfil their pacts, to protect them and to fight their enemies for them and never to put a burden or responsibility which is beyond their capacity on them.’ If compulsion was used to convert them to Islam then why would this be the case? A pact was drawn between the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Jews of Khyber when he first went to Madinah. He would send his Companion, Abdullah bin Rawa(ra), to them for the division of crops. In accordance with this teaching, Abdullah bin Rawa(ra) would extend the gentlest of treatment in the division of the produce. He used to divide the harvest in two, give the Jews the option to take the portion of their choice and would take the remaining portion himself. As I said before, in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Umar(ra) was most concerned about the rights and welfare of non-Muslim subjects of the Muslim government. He would periodically advise his governors to take special care of the non- Muslims and would also himself regularly enquire of them if they had any difficulty. Once a delegation of non-Muslims came to Hadhrat Umar(ra) and the first question he put to them was whether they had suffered any inconvenience from the Muslims. They replied that they had received nothing but the best of fidelity and treatment from the Muslims. At the conquest of Syria, the Muslims collected tax from the non-Muslim population of Syria. However, soon afterwards there was imminent danger of another war from the Roman empire. The Muslim Amir of Syria, Hadhrat Abu Ubaida(ra) returned all the collected tax to the Christian population, maintaining that as their rights could not be fulfilled due to the war, it was not fair for them to keep the tax. The Christians were spontaneous in prayers for the Muslims that God may give them victory over the Romans and may they once again A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 30 The Review of Religions – October 2006 be the rulers of the land. Such was the treatment of the Muslims. As a result, when victory was achieved once again and the Muslims returned [to Syria] the tax was once again collected as before. Would they now explain if this is what compulsion is? If those who make accusations against the blessed person of the Holy Prophet(saw) were fair and studied history, they would find out how much compassion he had for the non-Muslims. If he invited [people] to Islam, he would do it with love and gentleness because it was only beneficial for the individual’s soul. A Tradition relates that the Holy Prophet(saw) and his Companions cared greatly for the feelings of the non-Muslims at the time when they were in power and government. Once, a young Jewish man fell ill in Madinah. When the Holy Prophet(saw) came to know, he went to visit him. When he saw that he was in a frail state he did some Tabligh (preaching) about Islam to him. The Jewish youth was impressed by the Tabligh. However, as his father was alive and stood nearby he looked at his father in a searching manner. The father told the son that if he wished to accept [Islam] he could do so. The son recited the Kalima (declaration of faith) and became a Muslim. The Holy Prophet(saw) was most pleased at this and thanked God that the soul had been saved from the torment of fire. The reality of the accusation of cruelty – that Islam has been spread by the use of force – has been clarified by the Qur’anic teachings that I mentioned and the few examples of the blessed model of the Holy Prophet(saw). It is now clear how Islam was spread and what I had earlier mentioned as to what went on during the Spanish Inquisition has also uncovered their reality. However, I shall present a few examples of what the fair-minded Christians among them say about the Holy Prophet(saw). Thomas Carlyle writes: “Our current hypothesis about Muhammad that he was a scheming impostor, a A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM 31The Review of Religions – October 2006 falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to anyone. The lies, which well- meaning zeal has heaped round this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only… It is really time to dismiss all that. The word this man spoke has been the life-guidance now of a hundred and eighty million of men these twelve hundred years. These hundred and eighty million were made by God as well as us. A greater number of God’s creatures believe in Muhammad’s word at this hour than in any other word whatever. Are we to suppose that it was a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain, this which so many creatures of the Almighty have lived by and died by? I, for my part, cannot form any such supposition.”1 Sir William Muir who, in places has written some prejudiced material as well, writes: “We may freely concede that it [Islam] banished forever many darker elements of superstition which had for ages shrouded the [Arabian] peninsula… nor were social virtues wanting – Islam may boast a degree of temperance unknown to any other creed.”2 Edward Gibbon said: “His beneficial or pernicious influence on the public happi- ness is the last consideration in the character of Muhammad(saw). The most bitter or most bigoted of his Christian or Jewish foes will surely allow that he assumed a false commission to inculcate a salutary doctrine, less perfect only than their own. He piously supposed, as the basis of his religion, the truth and sanctity of their prior revolutions, the virtues and miracles of their founders. The idols of Arabia were broken before the throne of God; the blood of human victims was expiated by prayer, and fasting, and alms, the laudable or innocent arts of devotion… he breathed among the faithful a spirit of charity and friendship; recommended the practice of A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM the social virtues; and checked, by his laws and precepts, the thirst of revenge, and the oppression of widows and orphans. The hostile tribes were united in faith and obedience, and the valour which had been idly spent in domestic quarrels was vigorously directed against a foreign enemy.”3 John Devonport has written that it would be a huge mistake to assume that the creed taught by the Qur’an was propagated by the use of the force. He says that those who are unbiased would freely acknowledge that through the religion of Muhammad(saw) sacri- fice of human was replaced with worship of God and charity and it infused a spirit of generosity and social harmony instead of enmity and chronic hostilities. He wrote that the Prophet(saw) was a true blessing for the Eastern world and it was particularly for this reason that he did not need to employ the bloody strategies which were used without exception and indiscrim- inately by Moses(as) in order to obliterate idolatry. He concludes that it is idle to be insulting in ignorant condemnation of such an excellent source that nature provided to influence beliefs and propositions of human beings for a long period in time.4 Edward Gibbon again writes: “The wars of the Moslems were sanctified by the Prophet, but among the various precepts and examples of his life, the caliphs selected the lessons of tolerance that might tend to disarm the resistance of the unbelievers. Arabia was the temple and patrimony of the God of Muhammad; but he beheld with less jealousy and affection the nations of the earth. The polytheists and idolaters, who were ignorant of his name, might be lawfully extirpated by his votaries; but a wise policy supplied the obligation of justice…”5 Count Tolstoy writes: “There can be no doubt that the Prophet Muhammad was one of the greatest reformers who have rendered great services to human society. It is sufficient 32 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 to say that he guided an entire nation to the light of truth, and made it incline towards tranquillity and peace, and preferred a life of asceticism, and prevented bloodshed and human sacrifice; he showed them the way to advancement and civilization. This is a great achievement that can only be made by one who is given strength; such a man is deserving of respect and honour.”6 George Bernard Shaw writes: “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man – and in my opinion far from being an anti- Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.”7 Rev. Bosworth Smith writes: “Head of the State as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Popes pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar. Without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports.”8 Pringle Kennedy writes: “Muhammad was, to use a striking expression, the man of the hour. In order to understand his wonderful success, one must study the conditions of his times. Five and half centuries and more had elapsed when he was born since Jesus had come into the world. At that time, the old religions of Greece and Rome, and of the hundred and one states along the Mediterranean, had lost their vitality. In their place, Caesarism had come as a living cult. The worship of the state as personified by the reigning Caesar, such was the 33 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 religion of the Roman Empire. Other religions might exist, it was true; but they had to permit this new cult by the side of them and predominant over them. But Caesarism failed to satisfy. The Eastern religions and superstitions (Egyptian, Syrian, Persian) appealed to many in the Roman world and found numerous votaries. The fatal fault of many of these creeds was that in many respects they were so ignoble… When Christianity conquered Caesarism at the commence- ment of the fourth century, it, in its turn, became Caesarised. No longer was it the pure creed which had been taught some three centuries before. It had become largely de-spirit- ualised, ritualised, mate- rialised… How, in a few years, all this was changed, how, by 650 AD a great part of this world became a different world from what it had been before, is one of the most remarkable chapters in human history… This wonderful change followed, if it was not mainly caused by, the life of one man, the Prophet of Mecca… Whatever the opinion one may have of this extraordinary man, whether it be that of the devout Muslim who considers him the last and greatest herald of God’s word, or of the fanatical Christian of former days, who considered him an emissary of the Evil One, or of certain modern Orientalists, who look on him rather as a politician than a saint, as an organiser of Asia in general and Arabia in particular, against Europe, rather than as a religious reformer; there can be no difference as to the immensity of the effect which his life has had on the history of the world.”9 S. P. Scott writes: “If the object of religion be the inculcation of morals, the diminution of evil, the promotion of human happi- ness, the expansion of the human intellect, if the performance of good works will avail in the great day when 34 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 mankind shall be summoned to its final reckoning it is neither irreverent nor unreasonable to admit that Muhammad was indeed an Apostle of God.”10 There are many references but I shall be brief. Ruth Cranston writes: “Muhammad never instigated fighting and bloodshed. Every battle he fought was in rebuttal. He fought in order to survive… and he fought with the weapons and in fashion of his time… Certainly no ‘Christian’ nation of 140,000,000 people who today dispatch [this is a book written in 1949] 120,000 helpless civilians with a single bomb can look askance at a leader who at his worst killed a bare five or six hundred. The slayings of the Prophet of Arabia (saw) in the benighted and bloodthirsty age of the seventh century look positively puerile compared with our own in this ‘advanced’ and enlightened twentieth century. Not to mention the mass slaughter by the Christians during the Inquisition and the Crusades – when, Christian warriors proudly recorded, they “waded ankle-deep in the gore of the Muslim infidels.”11 John Devonport has written that it can be said with certainty and absolute truth that if instead of the Muslim freedom-fighters and the Turks, the Western princes had ruled over Asia, they would not have treated the Muslims with the religious tolerance that the Muslims extended towards Christianity. This is because Christianity aimed cruelty with great prejudice and brutality towards its own co-religionists with whom it had religious differences.12 The Promised Messiah(as) states: “The reader of the article has raised an objection that there is a commandment in the Holy Qur’an for the use force for making people Muslims. It seems this person possesses neither intelligence nor knowledge of his own and has merely borrowed it all from 35 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 padres. The padres have, out of sheer meanness and prejudice, as is their wont, made false allegation in their books that there is a commandment in Islam to make Muslims by force. So, this person, and his brothers have, without any personal research and investigation simply reproduced the false allegation of the padres. In the Holy Qur’an, the verse very clearly declares: There should be no compul- sion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong. (Ch.2:V.257) “What, then, is the need to use force? It is amazing that despite the Holy Qur’an declaring so positively that no force should be applied in religion, the darkened hearts that are filled with grudge and enmity falsely accuse that there is forced conversion in the Word of God. “Now, we will present another verse of the Qur’an and seek justice from the fair-minded to tell us, fearing God, if the teaching of forced conversion is proven, or, on the contrary, its prohibition is affirmed? The verse is as follows: And if anyone of the idolaters ask protection of thee, grant him protection so that he may hear the word of Allah; then convey him to his place of security. That is because they are a people who have no knowledge. (Ch. 9:V.6) “It is evident that if the Holy Qur’an had taught forced conversion, it would not have commanded to give protection to a disbeliever by taking him to a place of security if he wished to hear the Qur’an and, after listening to it, still remained a non-believer. It would have commanded to make a disbeliever a Muslim as soon as he came under the control of Muslims.” (Chashma-e-Ma’rafat, Ruhani Khazain, vol.23, pp.232-233) The second objection raised by 36 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 them is that the God of Islam is not compatible with reason. The God of Islam is One Who invites people to reason in order to acknowledge His Being. If everyone’s concept of God is that He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and is the Master of everything then they should also acknowledge that He is Omnipotent, possesses all powers. Rather than dismiss the concept of God in Islam, Islam requires reason and reflection. The Promised Messiah(as) states: “The God in Islam is the same God Who is visible in the mirror of the law of nature and is discernable in the book of nature. Islam has not presented a new God but has presented the same God Who is presented by the light of man’s heart, by the conscience of man and by heaven and earth.” (Tabligh-e-Risalat, Ruhani Khazain, vol.6, p.15) He further states: “We now call attention to the attributes of the God to Whom the Holy Qur’an calls us, which are as follows: He is Allah, there is none worthy of worship except Him, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Gracious, the Merciful. (Ch.59:V.23) The Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. (Ch.59:V.24) He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Ch.59:V.25) Surely, Allah has the power to do all that He wills. (Ch.2:V.110) Lord of all the worlds. The Gracious, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgement. (Ch.1:Vs.2-4) 37 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 I answer the prayer of the supplicant. (Ch.2:V.187) The Self-Subsisting and All- Sustaining. (Ch.3:V.3) Say, ‘He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Independent and Besought of all. He begets not, nor is he begotten; And there is none like unto Him.’ (Ch.112:Vs.2-5) “‘There is no worthy of worship beside Him’ (Ch.59:V.23) means that God is One without associate and no one else beside Him is worthy and obedience. “This affirmation is made because, were He not without associate, there might be an apprehension that He might be overcome by a rival, in which case Godhead would always be in peril. The affirmation that no one is worthy of worship beside Allah means that He is so perfect and His attributes are so excellent and exalted that if we were to select a good God out of the universe Who would be equipped with perfect attributes, or were we to contemplate in our minds the best and most exalted attributes that God should possess, He would be more exalted than all our fancies – Whom no one can excel and over Whom no one can be more exalted. That is God. To associate anyone in Whose worship would be the greatest wrong.” Thus Islam is free from all kinds of associations with God. The wrong association with God is being done by Christians who, having made a god out of a prophet of God, consider him an equal to God. The Promised Messiah(as) further states: “‘He is the Knower of the unseen’, that is to say, He alone knows Himself. No one can comprehend His Being. We can comprehend the sun and the moon in their entirety, but we cannot comprehend God in His entirety. He is the Knower 38 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 of the seen, that is to say, nothing is hidden from Him. It is not to be imagined that He should be unaware of anything. He has every particle of the universe within His sight; but man does not possess such compre-hensive vision. He knows when He might break up this system and bring about the Judgement. No one else knows when that would happen. It is God alone Who has knowledge of all those times. Then it is said: ‘He is the Gracious One.’ This means that before the coming into being of animates and before any action proceeding from them, out of His pure grace and not for any other purpose, nor as a reward for any action, He makes due provision for everyone; as for instance He brought into being the sun and the earth and all other things for our benefit before we came into being and before any action had proceeded from us. This Divine bounty is designated Rahmaniyyat in the Book of God, and on account of it God Almighty is called Rahman. He rewards righteous action richly and does not let go waste anyone’s effort. On account of this attribute, He is called Rahim, and the attribute is designated Rahimiyyat. “Then it is said: ‘He is Master of the Day of Judgement.’ (Ch.1:V.4) This means that He keeps the recompense of everyone in His own hand. He has appointed no agent to whom He has committed the governance of the heavens and the earth, having withdrawn from it altogether, being no longer concerned with it, leaving to the agent the determination of all recom- pense at all times.” He has no need at all because He possesses all powers. He does not have the need to set up a council of gods, which would then help Him. Therefore, as far as the use of reason and rationality is concerned, it cannot be said that Islam’s concept of God is irra- tional. The concept not compatible with reason is of those who have created three gods to run God’s sovereignty on democratic lines. If even one of them [these 39 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 gods] disagrees, it would be difficult to reach a decision. He further states: “Then it is said, He is ‘the Sovereign’ without any default. (Ch.59:V.24) It is obvious that human sover- eignty is not without fault. For instance, if all the subjects of an earthly sovereign were to leave their country and to migrate to another country, his sovereignty would come to an end. Or if all his people were afflicted with famine, how could any revenue be collected? Or if the people were to enquire from him what is it that he possesses beyond that which they possess on account of which they should obey him, what could he say in answer to their questions? But God’s sovereignty is not subject to any default. He can destroy everything in one instant and can create another kingdom. Had He not been such a Creator, possessing all power, His kingdom would not have endured without injustice. For instance, having forgiven and having bestowed salvation upon the people of the world once, how would He have acquired another world? Would He have sought to catch those upon whom He had already bestowed salvation so that He might send them back into the world, and would have revoked His forgiveness and salvation unjustly? In such case His Godhead would have proved defective and He would have become an imperfect ruler like earthly sovereigns who frame ever new laws for their people and are infuriated time after time; and when they find in their selfishness, that they cannot carry on without injustice, they have recourse to it without compunction. For instance, in terrestrial sovereignty it is considered permissible to let the passengers of a small vessel be destroyed in order to secure the safety of a large vessel, but God is under no such compulsion. If God had not been All-Powerful and had not the power to create out of nothing, He would have been compelled either to have 40 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 recourse to injustice like weak sovereigns, or would have clung to justice and lost His Godhead. God’s vessel continues its voyage with full power on the basis of justice. “Then it is said, He is ‘the Source of Peace’, that is to say, He is safeguarded against all defects, and misfortunes and hardships, and provides security for all. If He had been liable to being afflicted with misfortunes, or being killed by His people, or could have been frustrated in His designs, how could the hearts of people in such cases have been comforted by the conviction that He would deliver them from misfortunes? “God Almighty describes the condition of false gods in the following words: Those on whom you call beside Allah cannot create even a fly, though they should all combine together for the purpose; and if a fly should snatch away anything from them they cannot recover it therefrom. Weak indeed are both the seeker and the sought. They esteem not Allah with the estimation that is His due. Surely Allah is Powerful, Mighty. (Ch.22:V.74-75) Their worshippers lack intelligence and they themselves lack power. Can such as these be gods? God is One Who is more powerful than all those who possess power. He is the Mighty, Who is supreme over all. No one can apprehend Him or kill Him. Those who fall into such errors have not a true concept of God’s attributes. “Then God is the ‘Bestower of Security’ and sets forth proof of His attributes and His Unity. This is an indication that he who believes in the True God is not embarrassed in any company, nor would he be remorseful in the presence of God, for he is equipped with strong proofs. But he who believes in a false god finds himself in great distress. He describes every senseless thing 41 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 as a mystery so that he should not be laughed at and seeks to hide demonstrable errors. Then it is said, He is ‘the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted.’ This means that He safeguards all and is supreme over all and sets right all that might have gone wrong and is completely Self-Sufficient. He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner; His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Ch.59:V.25) “This means that He is the Creator of the bodies as well as of the souls. He determines the features of a baby in the womb. To Him belong all the beautiful names that can be thought of. The dwellers of the heaven and the dwellers of the earth glorify Him. This is an indication that the heavenly bodies are also populated and their dwellers follow Divine guidance. Allah has the power to do all that He wills. (Ch.2:V.21) “This provides great comfort for His worshippers, for what can be expected of a god who is weak and without power? “Then it is said: ‘He is the Lord of the worlds, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement.’ (Ch.1:Vs.2-4) This means that He provides for the universe and is Himself the Master of the Day of Judgement and has not committed Judgement to anyone else. “Then it is said: ‘I answer the prayer of the supplicant when He prays to Me.’ (Ch.2:V.187), ‘the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining.’ (Ch.2: V.256) The life of every life and the support of every being. He is the Ever-Living, for if He were not Ever-Living, His worshippers would be apprehensive lest He should die before them. “Then it is said: ‘Say: He is Allah, the One… He begets not, 42 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 nor is He begotten; and there is no one who is His equal or like unto Him.’” (Ch.112:Vs.2-5) (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp.58-62) The Promised Messiah(as) states: “It should be remembered that the religion renowned as Christianity is in fact a Pauline religion and is not from Christ. Nowhere did Jesus(as) teach of trinity. As long as he lived, he taught the Unity of God without associating anyone with Him. After his death, his apostle and brother Jacob (also known as James) who was a holy person, continued to teach the Unity of God. Paul started opposing this saintly person for no reason whatsoever and initiated teachings which were contrary to the true doctrines. Eventually, Paul advanced in his ideas to such an extent that he established a new religion. He made his followers completely break off from following the teachings of Torah. He taught that after the redemptive death of Jesus, there was no need to follow the religious law (the Mosaic code of conduct) and that as the blood of Jesus was sufficient to rid all sins, it was not essential to follow the Torah. He then added another impurity to this religion and made eating the flesh of swine permissible, although Jesus(as) had declared swine as unclean. This is the reason why he has a saying in the Gospels: ‘Neither cast ye your pearls before swine.’ Thus, if the pure teaching is called “pearls” by Jesus(as) then it is certainly obvious that by comparison he called the unclean “swine”. The fact of the matter is that the Romans used to eat flesh of the swine just as in these days all the Europeans consume it. In order to win over the Romans, Paul made it permissible to eat the flesh of swine, although it is written in the Torah that the flesh of swine was always forbidden, and even touching it is not allowed. In short, all the defects in this religion were introduced by Paul.” (Chashma-e-Masihi, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20 pages 374- 375) 43 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 There is an assertion by the Pope that there is a deep similarity between the Greek school of thought and belief in a God based on the Bible. Well, in reality this is not the religion brought by Jesus(as) rather this was an attempt to please the Romans. The fair-minded Christians are aware of this as Edward Gibbons writes: “The creed of Muhammad is free from suspicion or ambiguity and the Qur’an is a glorious testimony to the Unity of God… The prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and men, of stars and planets, on the rational principle… The first principle of reason and revolution was confirmed by the voice of Muhammad: his proselytes, from India to Morocco, are distinguished by the name of Unitarians.”13 Indeed it is the God of Islam that compels one who reflects with reason that reasonable and rational proofs of such a God are found in Islam. Therefore, in conclusion I say to each Ahmadi that we can only successfully go through the current mounting opposition against Islam by turning to Him and by seeking help from Him. So supplicate to God more than before that He may manifest His Power and the world is rid of false gods. If today these people are on the offensive against Islam and the Holy Prophet(saw) on the basis of their wealth and power, it will be the force of our prayers, Insha’Allah, that will break their arrogance and conceit. So call on the God Who is the God of the universe, Who is the Lord of all the worlds, Who is the God of the Holy Prophet(saw) so that the Kingdom of the One God Who has no partner is established on the earth soon. Muslim countries should also think and consider bringing the mutual conflicts amongst themselves to an end, to cease their disagreements and enmities, to try and promote the name of the Holy Prophet(saw) and to desist from actions that give others the audacity to deride it. May Allah, the Exalted, help them. 44 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006 References Thomas Carlyle On Heroes, Hero- Worship and the Heroic in History, pp.43-44. University of Nebraska Press (1966) Sir William Muir The Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV, p.534, Kessinger Publishing. (1st published 1878, this edition 2003) Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. V, p.231. Penguins Classics (1st published 1788, this edition 1996) John Devonport An Apology for Muhammad and the Qur’an (1st published 1869) Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. V, p.315. Penguins Classics (1st published 1788, this edition 1996) Count Tolstoy, Islamic Network, accessed via George Bernard Shaw ‘The Genuine Islam’ Vol. 1 No. 8 (1936) accessed from Wikipedia via: Islamic_views_of_Muhammad Rev. Bosworth Smith Muhammad and Muhammadanism’p.262. Book Tree (1st published 1876, this edition 2002) Pringle Kennedy Arabian Society at the Time of Muhammad, pp.8, 10, 18, 21. S. P. Scott History of the Moorish Empire in Europe’ p.126 Ruth Cranston World Faith, p.155. Ayer Publishing(1949) John Devonport An Apology for Muhammad and the Qur’an (1st published 1869) Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol.V, pp.177-178. Penguins Classics (1st published 1788, this edition 1996) 45 A RESPONSE TO THE POPE’S RESPONSE ABOUT ISLAM The Review of Religions – October 2006