This is an extract from the start of the section ‘Our Teaching’ in ‘Kishti-e-Nuh’ (Noah’s Ark) by the Promised Messiah(as), an important book of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, presenting his teachings to save the world from excessive materialism. Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ru), son of the Promised Messiah(as),wrote in the foreword to ‘Our Teaching’: “This is a time when the darkness of materialism has overspread the entire face of the earth and obscured people’s vision. Many there are who profess faith but are deprived of its true sweetness and strength. They are unaware of the One Living, Omnipresent God….. This book is a torch of guidance through which every Muslim, nay every man with a craving for truth and spirituality can rekindle his inner lamp and illuminate his heart.
Let it be absolutely clear that a mere verbal pledge [of initiation] has no value if it is not supported by a genuine and firm resolve to live up to it in every way. Therefore, whoever fully lives up to my teaching, he alone enters that house of mine with reference to which God Almighty has promised “I shall Myself protect all those who are in this house.” It should not, however, be understood here that this Divine protection is extended only to those living within the compass of my house made of mud and bricks: the pledge also encompasses those who follow my teaching to the fullest extent, and who, therefore, can truly be said to be the inmates of my spiritual home.
Relevant to a proper observance of my teaching, it is essential that one should firmly believe that there is an All-Powerful, All-Sustaining Supreme Being, the Creator of everything; Changeless, Everlasting and Eternal. He does not beget, nor was He begotten. He is Holy, so that there is no need or occasion of Him to go on the Cross, or suffer in any way, or be subject to death. He is such that being far removed, He is still very near; and being very near, He is still very far. Although He is One, and absolutely unique, His mani-festations are diverse and multifarious. Whenever there occurs in man a new change, for the changed man He becomes a new God, dealing with him on the basis of a fresh manifestation, the man witnessing a change in God in proportion to the change in himself – not that there occurs any change in God, He being Eternal, Changeless, and most Perfect in Himself; but with every change in man for the better, God also reveals Himself to him in a fresh and clearer manifestation. With every progressive effort on the part of man, God also shows Himself with higher and more powerful manifestation. He dis-plays an extraordinary mani-festations of His power and glory only, when man shows an extraordinary change in himself – this being the root and the bedrock basis of the marvels and miracles witnessed at the hands of all servants of God.
Belief in God, with these powers is the foremost essential condition of our Movement. Inculcate this belief in your hearts, giving to its implications and requirements the first and top-most priority over all considerations of self, over its comforts and relationships. By means of actions in the field of your daily life, with unflinching courage, show a steadfast loyalty in His way. Others in this world do not give Him preference over material means and the support they hope to get from their friends and relations. But you must give preference to Him in the first place, so that in heaven you should come to be reckoned as His people.
To show signs of grace is the eternal way of God. But you can partake of this blessing only when there remains no difference and no distance between Him and you; only when all your wishes, hopes and desires merge into His will; only when at all times, in success or failure, in hope or disappointment, you remain in humble prostration at His door, so that He should do with you what He will. If you act like this, in you would appear that God, Who for a long time has kept His face concealed from the world.
Is there any among you, then, who would act upon this teaching, seeking only His pleasure, without the slightest sense of dissatisfaction against the way His will works?
Even in distress you should put your best foot forward, for this is the secret of your success; and you should strive to the utmost of your power to spread the idea of His singleness and unity [Tawheed] all over the earth.
Be kind and merciful to humanity, for all are His creatures; do not oppress them with your tongue, or hands, or in any other way. Always work for the good of mankind. Never unduly assert yourselves with pride over others, even those who are placed under you. Never use abusive language for anyone, even though he abuse you. Be humble in spirit, kind and gentle, and forgiving, sympathetic towards all and wishing them well, so that you should be accepted. There are many who pretend to be kind, gentle and forgiving, but inside they are wolves; there are many who outside look pure, but in their hearts they are serpents. You cannot be accepted in the presence of the Lord unless you are pure, both on the outside and inside. If you are big, have mercy for those who are small – not contempt; if you are wise and well-versed in learning serve the ignorant with words of wisdom: never desire to bring disgrace on their ignorance by trying to show off your learning. If you are rich, instead of treating them with self-centred disdainful pride, you should serve the poor.
Beware of the paths of destruction. Fear the Lord, be righteous, do not fall in worship before the creation of God. Turn wholly and solely to Him, so that you lose interest in this world. Become entirely His, living wholly for His will and pleasure, for His sweet sake, hating everything impure and sinful; for indeed He is Holy.
Every morning should be a witness for you that you spent the night with righteousness, and every evening should be a witness for you that you went through the day with the fear of God in your heart.
Do not fear the curses the world might heap on you for they melt in the air like smoke, they cannot turn day into night. What you should be afraid of is the curse that comes from God, which totally uproots from both worlds, those on whom it falls. You cannot save yourselves with hypocrisy and pretence, because thy God Who is your Lord can see to the inner-most depths of your being. How, then, can you hope to deceive Him? Therefore strengthen yourself and cleanse yourself to become pure and precious without a particle of dross anywhere in your being, for if there be any such, it will take your light. And if in any corner of your heart there be pride, empty pretence, hypocrisy, vanity, love of self, or laziness of disposition, you do not amount to anything acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
Take care that on the basis of a thing or two which you think you have accomplished, you do not fall into the delusion that you have done all that needed to be done; for God desires that your entire life, your whole being, should undergo a deep and thorough revolution. Indeed He demands from you that you accept a death, after which He would give you another life.
Immediately compose all your differences and make peace among yourselves, forgive the transgressions of your brothers for indeed he is evil who is not willing to make peace with his brother. He would be cut off for he tries to create disruption. Leave off vanity and emphasis on self and all mutual resentments, all unpleasantness. Though truthful and justified in your stand, be humble in your demeanour as though you were in the wrong so that you yourself should be treated in forgiveness. Leave off everything which fattens your vanity, for the door you have been invited to enter is not one that would admit such a person.
How unfortunate is the man who fails to yield belief to things, coming from the mouth of God, which I have stated to you. If at all you desire that God in heaven be pleased with you, hasten to become one among yourselves, as though you were brothers born of the same mother. Only he is most honoured among you who most forgives the transgressions of his brother; and unfortunate is he who remains obdurate, and does not forgive. He is not part of me and he has no share with me.
Remain in great fear of the curse of God, for He is holy, intensely jealous and particular in His holiness. An evil-doer cannot win nearness to Him. No one who is proud can win His nearness, nor the oppressor and unjust, nor one who is dishonest, nor anyone who is not jealous for His name. Those who fall on worldly benefits like dogs, ants, or vultures falling blindly on carrion, those who have only sought comfort in life; they cannot win nearness to Him. Every impure eye remains far removed from Him; every impure heart remains unaware of Him. Whoever lives in fire, for him shall be saved from the flames, he who weeps for His sake shall be made happy, full of laughter and jubilance. He who breaks away from this world for His sake, shall find Him with the deepest sincerity of heart, with steadfast strength and become the friends of God, so that He too should become your friend. Show mercy to your sub-ordinates, be kind to your spouses and to your brethren who are poor, so that in heaven you too be received with mercy.
This world is a place of thousands of evils, tribulations and trials: in all sincerity and steadfastness of heart catch hold of God, so that He keeps these evils, tribulations and trials away from you. No evil and no distress takes its birth on this earth without a decree from Heaven to that effect; and no distress is lifted until mercy descends from Heaven. Therefore wisdom on your part lies in this that you take firm hold of the root, without worrying about the branches. It is not forbidden unto you to have recourse to remedies or plan with human endeavour: what is forbidden is that you place your entire reliance on them. In all circumstances it is God’s will that will be done, and for one who has the power to take his stand on this point, the position of faith in and reliance on God is the best of all positions.
Those who do honour the Holy Qur’an shall be honoured in heaven. For you another very essential teaching is this that you do not leave the Holy Qur’an like a book that has been forsaken, since it is therein, and nowhere else, that your life lies. Those who do honour to this Holy Book shall be honoured in heaven. Those who will hold the Holy Qur’an superior to every tradition and every other saying shall be given preference in heaven. For mankind now, all over the surface of the earth, there is no Book except the Holy Qur’an: for the sons of man there is no Messenger and no Mediator except Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him. So strive that you cherish the purest love for this Prophet(saw) of power and glory, giving no one else any kind of preference over him, so that you be put down in heaven as those who have been saved.
And very clearly bear in mind that salvation is not something that you will experience in the life after death. The real and true salvation is only that which shows its light in this very life. Who is the saved? Only he who maintains a firm faith that the living God is a reality, and that Muhammad(saw), is the Mediator between Him and mankind; that under the skies there is no one equal to him in rank and elevation: nor any book to rival the Holy Qur’an: that for no one else did God wish that he should live forever, but for this blessed Prophet(saw) He did so wish: that to keep him alive forever He laid the foundation for continuing the benefit of his Shariah and his spiritual blessings to the day of Resurrection. And at long last, from the flow of his spiritual benefits for mankind, He sent the Promised Messiah to this world whose advent was indispensable for the completion of the structure of Islam. For it was necessary that this world should not come to an end before the Movement of Muhammad(saw) was given the colour of a spiritual Messiah, the same as was given to the Movement of Moses(as). This is what the following verse of the Holy Qur’an points to, namely:
Guide us in the right path. (Ch.1:V.6)
Moses(as) received the treasure which had been lost by the earlier ages, and Muhammad(saw) received the treasure which the Movement of Moses(as) had been unfortunate enough to lose. Now the Movement of Muhammad(saw) stands in the place of the Movement of Moses(as), but such that in grandeur, the like of Moses(as), exceeds him a thousand times, while the like of the Messiah in the Movement of Muhammad(saw) excels Jesus(as) by a thousand measures. And not only did the Promised Messiah of the Muhammadi Movement come, in terms of time, exactly in the fourteenth century after the Holy Prophet(saw), as Jesus(as) had appeared fourteen centuries after Moses(as), he also came at a time when the condition of the Muslims of the day was identical with the Jews of the time of Jesus(as).
Therefore, I am that Promised Messiah, and no one else. Whoever enters into sincere bai’at [initiation] with me and becomes my follower from the bottom of his heart, as to be engrossed in his obedience to me, as to forsake all of his own personal aims and intentions, he alone is the one for whom in these days of great distress my soul shall desire to intercede.
So all ye people counted as members of my community! In heaven you shall be counted members of my following only when in all truth you actually begin to advance on the paths of righteousness.
Offer your five daily obligatory prayers with such concentration and awe of mind as though you were seeing God in front of you, with your physical eyes. Observe the days of fasting for the sake of God in full sincerity. All among you who are liable for Zakat should never fail to discharge this important obligation; and those on whom the pilgrimage to Makkah has become obligatory, without any obstacles standing in the way, should duly undertake that blessed journey.
Do all good deeds with the proper care they deserve, forsaking evil from a real repulsion in the heart. Be very, very sure that no action, whatsoever, can take you to God if it is devoid of righteousness of the heart. The root of everything good is Taqwah (fear of God) in whatever action this root is not lost, that action will never be devoid or futile.
It is necessary too, that you be tried by being thrown into diverse griefs and distresses, even as those before you were tried. Be, therefore, forewarned lest you stumble when the time comes. The earth, with everything in it, can inflict no injury on you, provided your contact with heaven is firm. Whenever any injury comes to you, it will come only from your own hands. If all your honour on this earth is lost to you, God will give you an honour in heaven that shall never wane. Therefore do not leave Him, whatever you may have to go through.
You are bound to be persecuted in diverse ways, and many of your hopes will be denied to you, but in such cases you should not grieve, for the Lord your God shall put you through trials, to test whether or not you remain firm. If you desire that the angels in heaven should sing your praises, then take the beating many people shall give you, and rejoice; hear abuse and give thanks to the Lord; experience disappointments but do not break away from Him. You are the last people of God. Practise the good to an extent where it reaches its highest perfection. Everyone among you who relaxes and becomes lazy, shall be thrown out of the community, as a dirty thing is discarded and thrown out. He shall die with regret in his heart, and he will not be able to injure God in any way.
Lo and behold! With great joy I convey to you the glad tidings that your God does indeed really exist. Although all are His creatures, but He selects only those who select Him, He Himself comes to whosoever goes to Him. He bestows honour upon those who honour Him. After you have straightened your hearts, and purified your tongues and eyes and ears, you come to Him, and He shall accept you.