The following is a lecture delivered in Sialkot, India on 2 November 1904 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) (the Promised Messiah and Mahdi)
The Holy Qur’an teaches us that there are three ways of the purification of the soul. Firstly, a man should strive hard to get out of the impurities in which he is involved, and exert himself to his utmost to forsake every evil and every evil desire so that he should begin to hate evil. Secondly, he should pray to God with a truly humble heart and weeping eyes that He may draw him out of the life of impurity, and kindle within him a fire which should consume the chaff of sin and grant him a power which should make him overcome the temptations of flesh. Thus he should constantly pray until a Divine light descends upon him and a glorious ray of light enters into his heart, which illumines every corner of it and suppresses every evil desire and generates a holy transformation. Great is the efficacy of prayer indeed and mighty are the results it can achieve. It is by prayer that the dead can be brought to life and by prayer that the prisoners can be released and by prayer that the impure can be made pure. But all that is said is not prayer, for true prayer is almost a death. The third way of getting out of the impurities of a sensual life is the company of the righteous and perfect servants of God, for one lamp can be lit from another which is already burning.
These are the three ways of being released from the bondage of sin, and when they are all employed, Divine grace takes a man by the hand. But a mere belief that Jesus(as) died for us, cannot effect any object, and it is a mere supposition that he took away our sins or that we are purified by such a belief. It is nothing but a mockery and a delusion. Nor is it the ultimate object of man’s creation that he should not sin. That is merely the negative side of human excellence and is far from being the perfection of humanity. Some animals are also submissive and innocent, but no one has ever thought of considering them perfect on account of their innocence and submissiveness. Nor does mere submissiveness entitle us to any favour. If a person were to come and tell us that he had not offended us in any way, and that, therefore, he deserved to be rewarded, would we not laugh at him and take him for a fool? To win favour from a person or to earn any good reward, we must show some faithful service. Now the service which a man can do to God is that he should devote himself entirely to Him, and forsake every love for the sake of His love and give up his own will to carry out His will.
The Holy Qur’an draws attention to this point in beautifully metaphorical language. It tells us that to be perfect a man must drink of two kinds of elixir, viz., of a cup tempered with camphor and a cup tempered with ginger, by the first of which is meant the suppression of evil desires or purification from sinful tendencies, and by the second, the doing of faithful service and ascending the heights of spiritual perfection. But the Christians and the Aryas have both gone astray from the right path, and taking two opposite courses have both fallen into errors. The Aryas believe that sin must be punished whether a man repents or not, and that for every sin a man shall have to pass through an almost interminable series of births and re-births. The Christians have gone to the other extreme, and in making a belief in the blood of Jesus(as) an essential condition for the remission of sins, have practically done away even with repentance and striving after purity. Both parties have wandered away from the real point, and not entering through the door they were supposed to enter, are roaming in thorny woods.
Of these two groups, Christianity and Arya Samaj, however, the case of the former is more deplorable than that of the latter. While the Aryas are trying to the best of their understanding to get rid of the evil of creature worship, their old religion, the Christian Missionaries are exerting themselves to their utmost to involve the whole world in the self-same evil, i.e., the worship of a human being. Jesus Christ(as) is quite credulously, and over-confidently, made a God, and it is not shown what peculiar Divine power he possessed which was not found in the other prophets of God. In working miracles they excelled him, while his weaknesses clearly show him to be nothing more than a mortal. To draw his divinity from the words he spoke, is a still greater error, for similar words are used in the sacred books for other persons, and to take these metaphorical expressions literally is rank nonsense. In my own revelations, there are more dignified words concerning myself than those attributed to Jesus(as), but I regard it as gross blasphemy to set up a claim to Divinity on the basis of meta-phorical expressions like these.
It should be borne in mind that the attribution of the claim of Divinity to Jesus Christ(as) is a false accusation against him, for he never made the extravagant assertion that he was actually God. The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from his words is that he claimed to be an intercessor with God, and no one has ever denied the intercession of the prophets of God. Moses(as) interceded with God many a time for the Israelites and saved them from being consumed by the wrath of God. I have personal experience in the matter and many of my respectable and trustworthy followers can bear witness how men involved in adversities and trials from which they could not see any way of deliverance and persons suffering from serious diseases which appeared to be irremediable, were saved by my intercession. As for Jesus(as) willingly suffering on the cross for the salvation of his followers and his being crucified for their sins, no sensible person has ever seriously considered it to be a rational or intelligible doctrine. Is it in consonance with Divine justice that one should sin and another be punished for it?
In short the Christian belief is a conglomeration of errors. No reasonable man would ever like to forsake the worship of one God and bow instead in submission before human beings, making them equal with God. And to consider three distinct persons, all equal in power and glory, as constituting a single person, three in one as it is called, must, no doubt, be a sensible principle of Christian logic! Now all these unintelligible doctrines could have claimed some attention, had the object been attained with which they were invented. But no one has by this plan been yet delivered from sin or granted purity of life. A contrast between the conditions of the followers of Jesus(as) at an early period and those who came after the doctrine of atonement had taken a firm root, shows conclusively not only the failure of this doctrine as a remedy for evil, but also its evil effect upon the Christian masses.
The apostles of Jesus(as) undoubtedly believed in him at a time when the doctrine of atonement had not yet been formulated, yet their unworldliness is marvellous when compared with the gross materialism of the later Christians. They had not much attachment to the treasures and wealth of this world, they were not involved in the impurities of worldliness and they did not devote themselves to worldly pursuits. But such men are not met with among the Christians after the atonement. Never has so much stress been laid upon this doctrine as in these latter days, and yet never has the Christian world been given more than now to the cares and anxieties of this world utterly forgetting the next, to say nothing of the other evils which overshadow the atmosphere of Europe, especially drunkenness and sexual immorality.
I will now bring this lecture to a close with a few words concerning my own claim, and I pray to God that He may open your hearts for the reception of truth and Himself inspire it into your hearts. It can be easily seen that for the acceptance of a prophet or a messenger of God who appears as a reformer, the only thing about which one has to satisfy oneself is to see that what he teaches is true, and that there is no deceit or falsehood in it. Sound judgment does not stand in need of a miracle for the acceptance of truth. But as it happens that notwithstanding truth and correctness of a matter, men have sometimes scruples, or doubt the motive with which it is presented, or think that the person presenting it may be the dupe of a false belief or may really be a deceiver, or thinking him to be an ordinary man, do not pay attention to his words, or slight him from feelings of dislike or contempt, or even understanding the truth are unable to follow the path pointed out because of their subjection to sensual passions and carnal desires or because of the weakness of the flesh, therefore Divine wisdom has ordained that those who come from Him, and are charged with a special mission for the reformation of the world, should be attended with signs of Divine assistance which are manifested sometimes in the form of God’s mercy and sometimes in that of His wrath. It is for this reason that a prophet is called Bashir (bearer of glad tidings) and Nadhir (warner) i.e., a giver of the glad tidings of the mercy of God and a warner from His wrath.
The signs of the first kind are meant for the faithful who do not revolt against the commandments of God, nor treat the messengers of God with contempt or insult. The clear judgment God has given them helps them to recognise the true messenger of God at once. Thus recognising him, they are not deterred from accepting him by vanity or a false position in society. When they see that a prophet has risen at the proper time after the manner of the bygone prophets and just in time, that there is a way for his recognition as a true messenger of God, that he is granted Divine assistance and walks in purity and righteousness, and that judged by the standard of the Divine laws prevailing with respect to prophets his words and deeds are not open to any objection, they have no hesitation or scruples in submitting to him. For such, Almighty God manifests the signs of His mercy, and being strengthened in faith by association with a righteous servant of God and witnessing a holy transformation, they constantly see fresh signs of God.
Every new truth revealed by God, every subtle point disclosed, every assistance granted from heaven, and every communication of a future event is for them a sign, and on account of the fineness of their perception, they are able to discover with minuteness, every assistance granted by Almighty God to His holy ones and thus see the subtle signs hidden from the eyes of the masses. In opposition to these is another class of men who have no share in the signs of mercy displayed by God. These are the opposers of the prophets of God. The people of Noah(as) and the people of Lot(as) did not benefit from any sign of mercy until they were destroyed by the wrath of God, the one by being drowned in a flood, and the other by a severe shock of earthquake and by the raining down of stones upon them.
I see that the majority of this generation resemble the people of Noah(as). Long since two signs appeared for me on the heavens in accordance with a prophecy handed down to later generations by the descendants of the Holy Prophet(saw). This prophecy was to the effect that when the reformer of the latter days would appear, two signs would be manifested for his sake upon the heavens which have never been manifested as signs before, viz., that the moon would be eclipsed in the month of Ramadhan on the first of its eclipse nights, and the sun in the same month on the middle of its eclipse days. The tradition containing this prophecy is accepted by both the Sunnis and the Shiahs, and it has been written down in books for more than a thousand years. But when it came to fulfilment in my time, no one paid the slightest heed to it. No one accepted me as the rightful claimant upon the manifestation of this grand sign. Nay, it made them more insolent and bolder in hurling abuses at me, and I was called a Dajjal (dissembler or Anti-Christ), a Kafir (disbeliever) and a Kadhdhab (impostor or great liar). The mercy of God manifested a sign, but they did not benefit by it. They did not turn towards me when it was shown and slighted the sign of God as if it were mere trash or treated it indifferently as if it had not been shown.
Thus their insolence and their contempt for me continued to increase until the sign of heaven’s wrath appeared upon earth. This sign was the plague and it appeared in accordance with the prophecies uttered by the prophets of God. It has been raging in this country for several years, and all mortal efforts to check its progress have signally failed. The appearance of the plague in the last days is also foretold in the Holy Qur’an in plain words. Thus it says:
Some time before Doomsday, a severe pestilence shall strike and some villages shall be totally wiped out while others shall revive after suffering to an extent. (Ch.17:V.59) [This is an interpretation of: “And there is not a township but We shall destroy it before the Day of Resurrection, or punish it with a severe punishment…” – Editor]
Similarly on another occasion the Holy Qur’an says:
When the sentence is passed against them, We shall bring forth for them a creature out of the earth which shall injure them because people did not accept Our signs. (Ch.27:V.83)
Both these verses speak of the plague, because it is now an established fact, although it was not known at the time of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, that the plague is caused by various bacteria. Almighty God, Who is the Knower of all secrets, knew the origin of the disease, and hence described it in these terms, calling it ‘a germ to come forth to them out of the earth.’ In short, when this sign of wrath appeared and caused a heavy destruction in the country, then some hearts were turned towards me, and about 200,000 people entered into my Bai’at in a very short time. And as the plague is growing more virulent, more people are coming to me and accepting the truth of my mission. And as it appears as a sign, I do not think it will disappear until it brings about a transformation in the lives of many people.
Thus does this land bear a resemblance to the land of Noah(as), for no one believed when heaven showed its sign of mercy; but when the sign of Divine wrath was manifested, thousands saw their errors and were led to accept me as the Promised Messiah. The appearance of the plague was also foretold by the former prophets, and the Gospel also tells us that a destructive plague would rage in the time of the Promised Messiah, and also speaks of great wars in the last ages, the fulfilment of both of which signs we are witnessing today with our eyes. Repent ye then, O Muslims, for do you not see how the plague is snatching away from you your dearest friends and relatives one by one? Turn to God that He may turn to you, for great is the wrath of heaven and without your true repentance as desired by God it would not be turned away from you.
If you entertain any doubt as to my claim, it can be easily settled, provided you earnestly search after truth. The truth of every prophet is judged in three ways. Firstly by reason, that is to say, it should be seen whether the time at which he appears actually stands in need of and calls for a reformer. Secondly, by previous prophecies. Is his appearance foretold by former prophets, or do prophetic utterances speak of the appearance of a prophet at the time at which he has appeared? An affirmative answer to these questions will be a certain evidence of the claimant’s truth. Thirdly, by Divine assistance. This is also a conclusive argument. If Almighty God grants him assistance, he must be from Him, because Almighty God does not assist an impostor. These are the three criterions for judging the truth of one who claims to be inspired by heaven for the regeneration of mankind. When put to these three tests, my claims will be seen to be perfectly true.
Thus has my truth shone forth whether you accept me or not. Consult reason and you will find it crying in plaintive tones that the Muslims are badly in need of a heavenly reformer at the present moment. They are surrounded by evils on all sides, internally as well as externally. You will find them standing on the frightful brink of a pit or before the current of a heavy flood. If you turn over the pages of prophetic literature, you will find me spoken of in various places. The Prophet Daniel(as) foretold of me and of this my time. The Holy Prophet(saw) also said that the Promised Messiah would be born from among the Muslims. Anyone who doubts this statement may consult the Bukhari and Muslim. There is, moreover, the prophecy that a reformer would appear at the commencement of every century. As for Divine assistance, thousands of heavenly signs have been manifested for me by Almighty God.
Of the numerous signs which support my claim, is a prophecy published twenty-four years ago in the Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, at a time when no one came to me, nor had I any disciple. In that state of solitariness, the Word of God came to me saying:
‘Time will come when assistance will come to thee from every distant quarter, and when people will come to thee from distant paths.’
‘People will come in such large numbers as will astonish thee; do thou, therefore, not behave towards them with discourtesy, nor tire of their visits.’
Now although you do not know how many visitors I receive daily in Qadian, and how wonderfully has this prophecy, revealed so long ago, been fulfilled, yet you could not have failed to see the vast gathering of people at the Railway Station and in the streets, who came to see me on my arrival here, and the large number of men and women who have accepted my message.
I am the very man who lived among you for seven or eight years some time previous to the publication of the Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, but no one knew me or had anything to do with me at that time. Consider now and reflect that the prophecy foretelling of my future greatness and of the flocking to me of people from all quarters, was published in my book, the Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, twenty-four years before there was any sign of its fulfilment, and under circumstances which were just the opposite of my present state. As I have said, I lived long enough among you, but there are very few of you who had any acquaintance with me at that time, for I was quite unknown then. I moved about in the masses as one of them, and no one noticed or cared for me. I had then no greatness or honour in the eyes of the people. But those were sweet and happy days for me, for then I enjoyed solitude in assembly. I lived in a populous town but to me it was a solitary desert, and though among men, yet I was alone. I love this land as I love my own village Qadian, for I passed a considerable portion of my life here in my early days. Its streets and alleys are familiar to me, for many a time have I walked in them.
One of my sincerest friends of that time is a respectable gentleman of this city, Hakim Hisam-ud-din, whose love has not waned during the many years of trial that have since passed. He can bear witness how I lived then, and how unknown to fame I was at that time.
Now I ask you gentlemen, if it is within the power of a mortal to assert so forcibly that a person so unknown, as I was at that time, would at a future moment sit on the pinnacle of fame, that hundreds of thousands of men would follow him and obey him in what he says and that in spite of the enemies’ exertions to the utmost of their strength, people would continue to accept the truth of his mission by troops, and come in such large numbers as almost to tire him with their visits; I question, can an impostor declare such a grand prophecy as the foretelling of the house of renown twenty-four years before the event and when lying nameless in the corner of solitude? The Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah in which this prophecy was published, is a well-known book. It is in the hands of all people, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. If any one doubts the supernaturalness of this extraordinary sign, let him show the like of it in the whole world.
Besides the sign to which attention has been drawn above, there are numerous other signs which have been witnessed by the people of this country on various occasions. There are ignorant men who because of their determination to reject truth, do not in any way benefit themselves by the proved signs manifested from heaven, and finding faults with what has been shown manage to avoid the truth. They level their objections at one prophecy or two, never mentioning the thousands which have been so clearly fulfilled as to defy every objection. What a pity, that they lie so boldly as if they had no fear of God, and calumniate so grossly as if they did not care for the retribution of the next world. I do not mean to dwell here upon their calumnies, for that is useless. Had they possessed any piety or entertained any fear of God, they would not have been so bold and so hasty in rejecting and belying the signs of God. Had they been really unable to comprehend any sign, they should have sought its explanation from me.
Is it true piety that they do not so much as mention the thousands of signs against which they cannot bring forward any objection and whenever they have to speak of my signs refer only to the one or two which their warped understanding is unable to comprehend? Had they had any fear of God, they would have benefited by the prophecies which have been fulfilled, and of which the clearest proof exists. Every plain miracle is treated as indifferently as if it had not existed at all, and where there is a subtle question an objection is brought forward. Now this is a process which, if adopted, would bring to naught the prophethood of every prophet, and those who reject me because they can object to one or two of my prophecies, will have to reject every prophet of God, on the same line of reasoning. For instance, Jesus(as) was a prophet of God and as such he must, no doubt have shown certain miracles. But if his signs were to be judged by the test applied in my case, the whole body of his miracles would have to be rejected in the same way as mine are rejected. For an opponent with this bent of mind can say that some of his prophecies were not fulfilled.
This is what the Jews say to this day, viz., that all Jesus’s(as) prophecies turned out to be false. And he can easily argue that Jesus(as) had prophesied that his twelve apostles would sit on twelve thrones, but one of them apostatised even during the life-time of Jesus(as), and thus the prophecy remained unfulfilled. He had also said, as may be further asserted by an opponent, that he would come back before the generation then living passed away, but generation after generation has slept in graves for nineteen centuries and still he has not returned. According to his opponents, his prophecy that he was the king of the Jews also turned out to be false. And anyone who chooses this procedure may multiply the list of objections to any extent that he likes. In like manner, the whole mass of the prophecies of our Holy Prophet(saw) is denied by men of this type, because of certain objections to one or two of them.
If the procedure adopted by my opponents is right, then nothing will be left in their hands, and they will have to reject in the same breath the prophecies of every other prophet of God. There is no doubt that if they continue to walk in this line, they shall have to bid farewell to Islam itself. In the interpretation of the words of prophecy, the opinion of the one who made the prophecy is sometimes mistaken. But an error of opinion does not in any way vitiate the prophecy itself. This was what happened in the journey of the Holy Prophet(saw) during which a truce was made at Hudaibiyyah. Anticipating the time of the promised victory, he undertook a journey to Makkah. But let me say again that such an error in opinion does not detract from the glory, honour and excellence of the Holy Prophet(saw). Perhaps it might be said that the likelihood of a prophet’s opinion to error, destroys our confidence in his infallibility. The reply to this objection is that such error is a very rare occurrence and that infallibility is the rule. It sometimes happens that revelation comes like a single piece of news, and being concise it does not explain itself. It then requires to be explained, and such explanation, it is easy to see, would be a matter of opinion.
Now opinion is liable to error, though in the case of the prophets of God, this happens very rarely. Such an error does not lessen the effect of the clear and perspicuous signs which are more numerous. I do not, therefore, deny that like all true prophets, I may err in interpreting the word of prophecy when there is any obscurity about it, but then there are thousands of my prophecies which are fulfilled in the clearest manner and which defy all scepticism. So no defect can be pointed out which can disprove my claim to the office of a prophet. It should, moreover, be borne in mind that in prophecies containing a warning of punishment, it is not obligatory upon God to carry out His threat. It is admitted on all hands that repentance and prayer avert the punishment. Had such not been the case, prayers and the deeds of charity which are generally resorted to by men at the time of Divine visitations, would have been perfectly useless. The well-known prophecy of Jonah(as) also supports this position.
Now I close this lecture, and thank God that He has enabled me to finish it in spite of my weakness and illness, and I pray that by these words, He may lead many a man out of darkness and error, and guide him into light and truth. I pray also that as He has brought about this gathering of various people, He may also ordain that accepting the true guidance they may all love each other and be united by ties of affection. May He cause the wind of guidance to blow in all quarters! May He cause a heavenly light to descend from above, for without the light of heaven, the eye cannot see! May He create the air of guidance from the unseen, for without air, the ear cannot hear! Who can come to us, but he whom God Himself may draw? But He is drawing many men, and there are many more still whom He will draw. He will unlock many a heart and open it for the reception of truth.
The death of Jesus(as) is the door to my claim. It is the foundation and my claim is the superstructure. Almighty God has Himself fortified this basis, and the Holy Prophet(saw) protects it against every attack. Almighty God has testified to it by His Word and the Holy Prophet(saw) by his deed. God has told us in the Holy Qur’an that Jesus(as) died, and the Holy Prophet(saw) saw in his famous vision of night-journey that Jesus(as) was included among the prophets who had died. But there are men who do not care for all these testimonies, because they strike at the root of their cherished opinions. They give Jesus(as) a peculiarity which is not given to any other prophet of God. These are matters the Christians count upon as supporting the Divinity of Jesus(as), and many ignorant men stumble because of such beliefs. I bear witness that Almighty God has informed me that Jesus(as) is dead. His life involves the destruction of the faith of Islam, and to undertake to prove the exploded theory of his ascent to heaven is a puerile task.
The very first fact agreed upon by all the companions of the Holy Prophet(saw), and thus the first point of agreement in Islam, was that all the prophets were dead and that none was an exception to this rule, as is clearly stated in the verse:
Muhammad is no more than an apostle, all the other apostles have passed away before him. (Ch.3:V.145)
May God bestow ample reward upon Abu Bakr(ra) who was the first to assert that all prophets had died, and who at once proclaimed this verse of the Holy Qur’an from the pulpit.
In conclusion, I sincerely thank the Government which has with kindness and liberal-mindedness granted us religious liberty. It is this liberty which enables us to preach the truth and to convey important religious knowledge to others. It is one of the greatest blessings of this Government for which it deserves our deepest and sincerest thanks. I would not exchange this liberty for an estate of millions of rupees, for the wealth of this world is transient and is a thing which must perish, but the wealth of liberty does not pass away. I enjoin all my followers to be sincerely thankful to this Government, for he who does not thank a man for his gifts, cannot be thankful to God. The virtuous man as he thanks God, thanks also the man through whom he has received any blessing from God. And peace be upon those who follow true guidance.