The Holy Qur'an

ESSENCE OF ISLAM – Part 17 – Matchlessness of the Holy Qur’an illustrated with Surah Fatihah

5The Review of Religions – March 2007 The descent of the Holy Word of God into the world and its being made known to God’s creatures is the demand of the attribute of Rahmaniyyat. The attribute of Rahmaniyyat is manifested with- out being preceded by the action of any person and merely by the beneficence and bounty of God. God has created the sun and the moon and water and air, etc. for the welfare of His creatures and all this beneficence and bounty is by virtue of the attribute of Rahmaniyyat. No one can claim that these things have been created as a reward of any action of his. In the same way, the word of God which has descended for the reform and guidance of mankind, has descended by virtue of this attribute. There is no animate who can claim that the Holy Word of God which com-prehends His law has been revealed in consequence of any action or effort of his or as the reward of his virtue. This is the reason why despite the fact that there have been thousands who claim to be pure and virtuous and who have spent their lives in piety and worship, yet the Holy and Perfect Word of God which 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. ESSENCE OF ISLAM: Part 17 – Matchlessness of the Holy Qur’an illustrated with Surah Fatihah 6 The Review of Religions – March 2007 brought into the world His commandments and informed men of His designs, was revealed only at such time when it was needed. It is, however, necessary that the Holy Word of God should be revealed only to those who occupy a high place in holiness and purity of soul, inasmuch as holiness has no relationship with impurity. But it is not necessary that in every case of holiness and virtue there should be a revelation of the Word of God. The revelation of the true law and teaching of God Almighty depends upon true need. Whenever the need arose and it appeared that the Divine Word should be revealed for the reform of the age in that time, God Almighty, Who is All-Wise, revealed the word. At no other time is the perfect Word of God, which comprises Divine law, revealed, though there might be present millions of people who are righteous and pure and possess a high degree of holiness and virtue. It is true that God holds converse with some pure people but that also happens when according to Divine Wisdom true need arises for such converse. The difference between the two needs is that Divine law is revealed at the time ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 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(as). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. 7The Review of Religions – March 2007 of such need when the people of the world, through misguidance and error, have turned away from the right path and a new law is needed to bring them back to it, which should remove their afflictions and lift their darkness totally by the light of its perfect and healing statements, and should provide with its forceful pronouncements the remedy which is needed by the corrupt condition of the world. But the converse that is held with the Auliya’ is not preceded by this great need. Very often, the purpose of such converse is to invest the soul of a saint with steadfastness at a time of distress, or to convey some piece of good news to him at a time when he is overcome by sorrow and grief. But the perfect and Holy Word of God Almighty that descends upon Prophets and Messengers is revealed, as we have just stated, when a true need for it arises and when mankind is in dire need of its revelation. Thus the true cause of the descent of the Word of God is its proper need. When the whole night becomes dark and no light is left you realise that the appearance of the new moon is near. In the same way, when the darkness of misguidance over- comes the world, sane reason appreciates that the appearance of the spiritual moon is near. In the same way, when people are afflicted with a drought, the wise among them consider the descent of the rain of mercy very near. In His physical law also God has appointed some seasons for rain during which God’s creatures are truly in need of rain. From the rain that descends during those seasons, it cannot be concluded that at that time people do more good and at other times they are involved in vice. Those are seasons when cultivators are in need of rain and the descent of rain at that time becomes the cause of the growth of vegetation throughout the year. In the same way, the descent of the Word of God is not on account of the piety and righteousness of a particular person, that is to say, the cause of the descent of such word is not that a particular ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 8 The Review of Religions – March 2007 person was very holy and virtuous, or was hungry and thirsty for the truth. As we have written so often, the true cause of the revelation of heavenly Books is their need, that is to say, that gloom and darkness spread over the world and demand a heavenly light which should dispel the darkness. This is indicated in the Divine Word in the verse: Surely, We sent it down on the Night of Destiny (Ch.97:V.2) This Night, according to its common interpretation, is a Blessed Night, but some of the verses of the Holy Qur’an indicate that the condition of the darkness of the world is also a Night of Decree on account of its hidden qualities. In that con- dition of darkness, sincerity and steadfastness, and piety and worship, have great value in the estimation of God. It was because of that condition of darkness which at the time of the advent of the Holy Prophet(saw) had arrived at its climax and demanded the descent of a Grand Light, that observing this dark condition and having mercy on the creatures afflicted with darkness, there was an upsurge in the attribute of Rahmaniyyat and heavenly blessings addressed themselves to the earth. That dark condition became blessed for the world and the world thereby received a grand mercy so that the Perfect Man and the Chief of the Prophets, like whom there had been no one, nor ever will be, came for the guidance of the world and brought that bright Book for the world whose match no eye has beheld. It was a great manifestation of spiritual perfection of God that, at a time of gloom and darkness, He sent down a Grand Light which is named the Furqan and which distinguishes between truth and falsehood and which demon- strated the coming of truth and the disappearance of falsehood. It descended upon the earth when the earth had become spiritually dead and land and sea had been greatly corrupted. By its descent it accomplished that to which God Almighty has pointed in the verse: ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 9The Review of Religions – March 2007 Know that Allah quickens the earth after its death … (Ch.57:V.18) That is to say: The earth had died and God revived it afresh. It should be remembered that the descent of the Holy Qur’an which took place for the purpose of reviving the earth came about through the upsurge of the attribute of Rahmaniyyat. This is the attribute which sometimes manifests itself in a material way and causes the rain of mercy to descend upon dry land and thus makes provision for those who are afflicted with famine. The same attribute sometimes surges up spiritually and has mercy on the condition of those who are hungry and thirsty and near unto death on account of misguidance and error, and lack the nourishment of truth and righteousness which is the source of spiritual life. Thus the Gracious One, as He bestows nourishment upon the body at the time of need, so of His Perfect Mercy He provides spiritual nourishment also at the time of need. It is true, however, that the Word of God descends only upon those of the elect with whom God is pleased, but it is not true that without any true need a heavenly Book is revealed to anyone with whom God is pleased, or that without any such need He necessarily and continuously holds converse with such a one. The Book of God is revealed only when its need arises. The true cause of Divine revelation is the Rahmaniyyat of God Almighty and not anyone’s action. This is a great verity of which our opponents the Brahmo Samajists and others are unaware. Then it should be understood that for anyone to become the recipient of the Grace of Divine revelation, and to arrive at his goal through its blessings and lights and to obtain the fruits of his effort, comes about by the support of the attribute of Rahmaniyyat. This is why, after the attribute of Rahmaniyyat, Allah the Exalted cites the attribute of Rahimiyyat, so that it should become known that the ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 10 The Review of Religions – March 2007 effects of Divine revelation which manifest themselves in the souls of people derive from the attribute of Rahimiyyat. To the degree to which a person turns to God, and sincerity and faith take possession of his heart, and he adopts obedience by putting forth appropriate effort, to that degree his heart is affected by Divine revelation and he derives benefit from its lights and the signs of those who are accepted by God are manifested in him. The second verity which is contained in: In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful (Ch.1:V.1) is that this verse has been revealed for the commencement of the Holy Qur’an and the purpose of its recitation is to seek help from the Being Who comprehends in Himself all perfect attributes, one of which is that He is Rahman and out of His pure Benevolence He provides the means of cultivating good and blessing and guidance for a seeker after truth; and another of Whose attributes is that He is Rahim, Who does not let go waste anyone’s effort and blesses it with good results and bestows the fruit of his diligence upon him. These two attributes are such that without their help no design, whether secular or religious, can be carried to its goal. Reflection would show that these two attributes are in operation all the time to bring about the fulfilment of all designs. The Rahmaniyyat of God began to manifest itself before man came into being, and it provides such resources for man as are beyond his power and which he cannot acquire through any design or planning. These resources are not bestowed as a consequence of any action but only out of Grace and Benevolence, as, for instance, the advent of Prophets, the revelation of Books, the provision of rain, the perfor- mance of their functions by the sun and the moon and air and clouds, and the apppearance in the world of man himself ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 11The Review of Religions – March 2007 equipped with diverse types of faculties and capacities and his being granted a term of life in health, peace and leisure. All these are matters that manifest themselves in consquence of the attribute of Rahmaniyyat. In the same way, the Rahimiyyat of God is manifested when, possessing all faculties, man employs those God-given faculties to accom- plish something and puts forth his strength and effort, then it is the way of the Divine that He does not let his effort go waste and blesses it with good results. It is His Rahimiyyat which quickens his dead effort. The purpose of the verse is that when beginning the study of the Holy Qur’an, help and blessing should be sought from the Rahmaniyyat and Rahimiyyat of God Almighty Who compre- hends all perfect attributes. The object of seeking blessings from Rahmaniyyat is that God, of His Bounty and Beneficence, might provide all those means needed before an effort is put forth in following Divine revelation. For instance, the grant of life and leisure and appropriate oppor- tunity, and the possession of faculties and strength, and the prevention of anything that might disturb comfort and peace or might prevent the heart from paying full attention, and to be bestowed the needed capacity; all these are achieved through the attribute of Rahmaniyyat. The purpose of seeking blessings through Rahimiyyat is that the Perfect Being should bless one’s efforts with good results, and should safeguard one’s hard work against being wasted and should bless it in consequence of the struggle and effort put forth. Thus when beginning the study of the Divine Word, and indeed at the beginning of every great effort, it is a high verity to seek blessings and help from the Rahmaniyyat and Rahimiyyat of God Almighty. In this way, man learns the reality of the Unity of God, and becoming certain of his own ignorance and unawareness, stupidity and error, and help- lessness and contemptibility, his mind is fixed upon the Greatness and Glory of the Source of all ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 12 The Review of Religions – March 2007 grace. Considering himself wholly poor and indigent and as nothing, man seeks the blessings of Rahmaniyyat and Rahimiyyat from the All-Powerful. These Divine attributes are in operation of themselves but the All-Wise has made it a law of nature from the beginning that man’s prayer and seeking help have a great share in success. Divine grace addresses itself to resolving the difficulties of those who supplicate earnestly for success in their undertakings and whose supplications arrive at the full degree of sincerity. A person who considers his own weaknesses and observes his own defaults does not commence any enterprise freely and optimi- stically because his condition of servitude instructs him that he should seek the help of God Almighty Who is the Absolute Controller. This eagerness of true servitude is found in every heart which retains its natural simplicity and is aware of its weakness. A sincere person whose soul is not afflicted with any pride or arrogance and who is well aware of his weakness and nothingness, and does not find himself competent to perform anything successfully, and finds no power or strength in himself when he begins an enterprise, naturally supplicates for heavenly strength. He beholds the Powerful Being of God in His Perfection and Glory all the time and he perceives that success in any endeavour depends upon Rahmaniyyat and Rahimiyyat. Then forthwith, before putting forth his defective and worthless effort, he seeks Divine help through the supplication: In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. (Ch.1:V.1) Through such humility he becomes worthy to be bestowed power out of God’s power, and strength out of His strength, and knowledge out of His know- ledge, and to be successful in his designs. For proof of this no arguments of logic or philosophy are needed, for the soul of every person possesses the capacity to realise this and the personal ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 13The Review of Religions – March 2007 experiences of a true man of understanding constantly bear witness to its truth. There is nothing artificial about a creature seeking help from God, nor is it the result of idle thinking, nor is it without substantial result. This verity has been established by the eternal way of God Almighty, Who is truly the support of the world and with Whose support the ark of this universe constantly moves, that He lends His support to those who, deeming themselves low and insignificant, seek His support and begin their enterprise with His name. When they turn to God truly out of their humility and servitude, they are helped by His support. To seek the help of the name of that Fountainhead of Grace, Who is Rahman and Rahim, before commencing any substantial enterprise, is a way of respect and servitude and nothingness and indigence. This is the way which is the first step towards the acknowledgement of the Unity of God in one’s actions. By adopting it, a person takes on the humility of children and is purified of the arrogance which fills the hearts of the proud people of the world. By being convinced of his own weakness and the effectiveness of Divine help, he partakes of that understanding which is bestowed on the special men of God. Without doubt, to the degree to which a person adopts this way, and makes it his duty to act upon it, and perceives his ruin in leaving it out, to that degree his faith in the Unity of God is established, and to that degree he is cleansed of arrogance and self- importance, and to that degree the darkness of artificiality is removed from his countenance, and the light of sincerity begins to shine on his face. This is the verity which gradually leads a person to the stage of his losing himself in God, till he realizes that he receives everything from God and nothing is his own. Whenever anyone adopts this way, the fragrance of the Unity of God begins to reach him at once, and his heart and brain are perfumed thereby, provided his sense of smell is not corrupted. In adopting this verity a seeker ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 14 The Review of Religions – March 2007 after truth has to confess his own nothingness, and has to testify to God the Glorious being the Absolute Controller and the Fountainhead of grace. These two are the goal of the seekers after truth and are a necessary condition for the acquisition of the stage of being lost in God. To understand this necessary condition it is enough to know that even when there is widespread rain it falls only on the one who takes his stand at the place where rain is falling. Only those who seek find and thosewho ask are bestowed. Those, who at the beginning of an enterprise, rely upon their skill, intelligence or strength, and do not put their trust in God Almighty, do not value properly the All-Powerful Who com- prehends the whole world in His support. Their faith is like the dry branch which has no longer any relationship with its flourishing and green parent tree, and which has no part in its freshness and its flowers and its fruits. It has only an apparent connection with the tree which can be disrupted by the slightest stir of the wind, or by being shaken by someone. Such is the faith of the dry philosophers who do not rely on the Supporter of the universe and do not realise their dependence during every moment upon Allah Who is the Fountainhead of all grace. These people are as far from the Unity of God as darkness is from light. They do not understand that to submit oneself to the great power of the All-Powerful, realising one’s own nothingness, is the last stage of servitude and is the extreme point of the Unity of God, which makes the spring of total annihilation gush forth, and in which one is lost altogether to one’s ego and its designs, and believes truly in the complete control of God. One should disregard the argument of the philosophers that there is no need to seek Divine help in beginning an enterprise, inasmuch as God has already invested our nature with appropriate powers and it would be an act of supereroga- tion to supplicate Him again for those powers. ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 15The Review of Religions – March 2007 It is true that God Almighty has invested us with some powers for the doing of certain acts, but this does not mean that we are thereby freed from the governance of the Supporter of the universe and that He has separated Himself from us and has drawn away His support and has deprived us of His limitless grace. Whatever He has bestowed on us is limited, and what we demand from Him is without limit. Besides, we have not been given any power to accomplish that which is beyond our strength. Indeed reflection would show that we have not been given any power in its perfection. For instance, our physical powers depend upon our health, and our health depends on causes, some of which are heavenly and some are earthly, and all of which are beyond our power. In truth, the Supporter of the universe, by virtue of His being the Cause of causes, so comprehends our external con- ditions and our internal conditions and our first and our last, and our above and our below, and our right and our left, and our hearts and our souls, and all the faculties of our souls, that it is a very fine problem, which is beyond the reach of human reason. It is not necessary to go further into the matter, for what we have said so far is enough to refute the objection of our opponents. The only way of obtaining the grace of the Supporter of the universe is to supplicate with all one’s faculties and force and strength. This is not a new way but has been inherent from the beginning in man’s nature. A person who desires to tread along the path of servitude adopts this way, and the person who seeks the grace of God follows this path, and the person who seeks Divine mercy obeys these eternal laws. These laws are not new like the god of the Christians, but are firm laws which are eternal and are the practice of Allah which has been in operation all the time, the truth of which is apparent to every sincere seeker on account of the multiplicity of his experiences. Every blessing proceeds in this way that the ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 16 The Review of Religions – March 2007 Being Who is the Absolute Controller and the Cause of causes and is the Fountainhead of all grace, whose name in the idiom of the Qur’an is Allah, first displays His attribute of Rahmaniyyat and brings into existence whatever is needed, before one’s own effort, out of His pure grace and beneficence without the intervention of any action on our part. When the attribute of Rahmaniyyat has done this work to perfection, and man having been bestowed the power exerts himself to the limit, then it is for God Almighty to display His attribute of Rahimiyyat, and to bring about a good result from the effort and diligence of His servant and safeguarding his industry from going waste, to bestow his object upon him. It is on account of this second attribute that it is said that he who seeks finds and he who asks is given, and he who knocks it is opened for him …. It is a misunderstanding of a verity to think that sometimes this seeking of help proves of no avail and the Rahmaniyyat and Rahimiyyat of God do not make themselves manifest on all occasions. Indeed God Almighty hears the supplications which are made in sincerity, and helps in an appropriate manner those who seek His help. Sometimes it happens that a person’s prayer seeking help is not inspired by sincerity and humility, nor is his spiritual condition in order so that while his lips utter the prayer, his heart is heedless, or only makes a show. Sometimes it happens that God hears the prayer and bestows whatever He considers appropriate and best in His Perfect Wisdom, but an ignorant person does not recognise the hidden beneficence of God and on account of his ignorance and unawareness begins to complain, ignoring the subject matter of the verse: … but it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you like a thing while it is bad for you. Allah knows all things, and you know not. (Ch.2:V.217) ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH 17The Review of Religions – March 2007 It may be that you dislike a thing and it is in reality better for you, and it may be that you like a thing and it is in fact harmful for you. Allah knows the true reality of things and you know it not. So far it is clear that the verse: In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. (Ch.1:V.1) comprehends the grand verity which comprises the excellent means of making progress in faith in the Unity of God and in servitude and sincerity, not matched in any other book. If anyone claims that it is so matched elsewhere, let him set forth this verity along with the other verities which we shall expound below. Some short-sighted and ignorant opponents of Islam have raised an objection to the proper composition of Bismillah. One of them is the Rev. Mr. ‘Imad-ud- Din, who has set forth the objection in his book Hidayat-ul- Muslimin. Another one is Bawa Narayan Singh, a lawyer of Amritsar, who, deeming the objection of the reverend gentleman as having substance, has, out of the rancour of his heart, repeated it in his journal Viddya Prakashak. We now proceed to set forth the objection together with its answer so that every just person should realise to what degree of inner blindness bigotry has driven our opponents so that bright light appears darkness to them and excellent perfume smells vile in their nostrils. The objection by these critics raised against the profound and deeper meaning of the verse: In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. (Ch.1:V.1) is that the sequence of Rahman and Rahim in this verse is not proper and that the proper sequence should have been Rahim and Rahman, inasmuch as Rahman signifies that mercy of the Divine which is general and comprehensive and Rahim signifies the mercy of the Divine ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH which is limited and special, and the rules of composition require that that which is limited should precede that which is general and unlimited and not vice versa. This is the objection which these two gentlemen have raised with their eyes shut against a text the excellence of which has been admitted by all the learned of Arabia despite their opposition to Islam, among whom were included great poets. Great enemies of Islam were wonder- struck by the high grade of this text and many of them who were well-versed in judging the merits of a composition and were men of justice, finding the Qur’anic composition beyond the reach of human power and esteeming it a great miracle, believed in it. Their testimonies are referred to at various places in the Holy Qur’an … This ignorant Christian does not appear to be aware that true eloquence does not demand that the small should always precede the large, and that the true rule is that a text should be the mirror of reality. Here also by making Rahman take precedence over Rahim, the verse has become a mirror of reality. A detailed account of this natural sequence will be set forth in the course of the discussion of the other verses of the Surah Fatihah. (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. I, pp. 414-435, footnote 11) 18 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – MATCHLESSNESS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ILLUSTRATED WITH SURAH FATIHAH The Review of Religions – March 2007