The following is a lecture delivered at Sialkot, India on 2 November 1904 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) – the Promised Messiah and Mahdi.
Of all the religions prevalent in the world, Islam is the only religion which is free from every error. The erroneousness of other creeds cannot, however, be traced to their very beginning, but is due to the fact, that since the time that Islam was established upon earth, heavenly assistance has not been vouchsafed to other religions. They have, therefore, become like the garden which has no gardener, no one to tend or cultivate or water it. Errors have gradually crept into them and they have become corrupt. The trees that yielded fruit have all withered away and dried up and thorny bushes and pernicious shrubs have grown up in their place. Spirituality which is the root of religions has vanished away and nothing has remained in the hands of their followers except vapid words. The life and the spirit are gone forever and they have never been re-animated.
But Islam has not been brought to this condition. As Almighty God had ordained that the garden of Islam should be evergreen, therefore He watered it anew at the commencement of every century after the Holy Prophet(saw) and did not allow it to wither or loose its freshness.
Though whenever a man of God was raised for the regeneration of the world, ignorant men opposed him and severely resented the correction of errors which had taken a firm root in their customs and institutions and been grounded in their habits, yet Almighty God did not forsake His law until in this age, when the final struggle between truth and error was to be fought, finding the Muslims in a state of remissness, He again remembered His promise made of old concerning the last ages, and breathed new life into the faith of Islam at the commencement of the fourteenth century of Hejira and the seventh or the last thousand of the present cycle of the world. But since the time of our Holy Prophet(saw), other faiths have not experienced such regeneration, and therefore they are now all dead and devoid of spirituality, and errors have taken such a firm root in them as dirt in a cloth which is never washed. Men who had no share of the holy spirit in them, and whose disobedient spirit had not yet been purified of the dross of earthliness introduced into them principles according to their own evil desires, and with such corruption changed their whole nature and their very appearance.
Look at Christianity, for instance, how holy were the principles upon which it was originally based. Though the teachings given by Jesus Christ(as) appear to be defective when compared with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, this being due to the apparent reason that the faculties of man had not at that stage been completely developed and accordingly the time for a perfect teaching had not arrived, yet these teachings were quite in accordance with the requirements of that time and embodied excellent principles of moral and spiritual growth and pointed the way to the same God to Whom the Old Testament had guided men before. But after the death of Christ(as), the Christians set up a new God for themselves, of whom no trace was found in the books of Moses(as) and the prophets, and who was quite unknown to the Israelites. Faith in this new God overturned the whole scheme of the Old Testament doctrines. All the directions given by the prophets of God for many centuries for attaining true purity of life and obtaining salvation from the bondage of sin, were overthrown, and purification from sin was based on the monstrous theory that Jesus(as) was in fact God and that he himself chose to die a shameful and accursed death on the Crossin order to give salvation to the world.
But the Christians did not stop here. They went further still and abolished many of the Old Testament laws which had been given for all times. In short, the Christian religion has undergone a complete metamorphosis and is so completely changed that if Jesus(as) himself were to come back, he would not recognise in Christianity the religion which he had taught and preached. It is astonishing indeed that men who had been enjoined to regulate their conduct by the laws of the Old Testament which had been given for all times forsook that sacred book all at once. For instance, it is nowhere written in the Gospels that the prohibition against the flesh of swine was taken away by Jesus(as), or that circumcision required by the Law was prohibited by him. How could principles be introduced into religion regarding which Jesus(as) gave no directions? But it had been ordained that a universal religion, viz., Islam, should be established upon earth, and the corruption of Christianity served as a sign of Islam’s advent.
Hinduism had met a similar fate before the appearance of Islam. Idol-worship was prevalent throughout India. Corrupt beliefs had replaced the true and simple monotheistic doctrines. The same corruption still prevails in the beliefs entertained by the Arya Samaj who hold that the Creator, like mortals, stands in need of material to make things. One error called forth another and as a necessary consequence of the first belief, another erroneous belief had to be formed according to which the particles of matter and the souls are regarded as self existent and eternal like God Himself. Had the Aryas given a little reflection to this point, they would have discovered the error of their belief. For, if God stands in need of material in His attribute of creation like mortals, then He must also, like men, stand in need of resources in His attributes of seeing, hearing, etc. The power of hearing in man depends upon the transmission of sound by the waves of air, and the power of seeing in him depends upon the existence of light. Does God too then need air and light to hear and see, and is He like mortals, dependent upon these things? If He does not, as the Arya Samaj will be obliged to admit, then it is equally certain that He does not need material for the exercise of His attribute of creation. In short, it is a false logic which attributes to the Divine Being a weakness and dependence like that to be met with in mortals. In fact such a belief involves the likening of Divine powers and attributes to the powers and attributes of man.
Man is, no doubt, not able to make something out of nothing, but to judge of the power of God in accordance with that of mortals is an error. Man is a finite being and God is infinite, and by the power of the infiniteness of His existence, He can bring other things into existence. Such is the mighty power of His God-head. If He too, like men, had depended upon other things in the exercise of His power, He could not have been anything more than a mortal. Is there any one who can resist His will or withstand His power? Is He, the mighty God, unable to create earth and heavens in the twinkling of an eye if He so wills it? Those among the Hindus in whom learning went hand in hand with spirituality, and for whom a false logic had no charms, never entertained the erroneous belief which the Arya Samaj holds. Such a belief gains currency only on account of an estrangement from the Divine Being, which is, in other words, the absence of spirituality. In short, the prevalence of corruption in every religion was a clear sign of the necessity of a pure religion, which need was satisfied by the advent of Islam.
Every student of history is obliged to admit, that just before the appearance of Islam, all the religions had become corrupt on account of the errors which had crept into them and that they had no spirituality left in them. Our Holy Prophet(saw) was accordingly the greatest reformer of the world inasmuch as he restored to it the truth which had utterly disappeared from its face. This is an eminence to which none but the Holy Prophet(saw) attained. He found the whole world involved in darkness which gave place to light by his appearance. He did not depart from this world until the whole nation, in which he had appeared, had thrown away the clothing of Shirk (associating partners with God), and donned the garments of unity. Not only did he succeed in a wonderful manner in firmly establishing the Unity of God, but he made the people who had answered his call reach the highest pinnacles of faith and show such faithfulness, constancy and certainty as are without a parallel in the history of the world. Such marvellous success was not granted to any prophet except the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), and it is one of the most convincing arguments of his truth that he appeared at a time when the greatest darkness prevailed upon earth and Called for a mighty reformer, and that he was not called back until he had brought about a complete transformation, and led hundreds of thousands of men out of the evil of idol-worship and Shirk into the ways of righteousness and the worship of one Divine Being.
In fact this complete reformation is a distinctive characteristic of the mission of the Holy Prophet(saw). He found a people drowned in the depths of savageness and barbarism and raised them to the level of human beings, and thus converted savages into men. These men he then raised to the height of civilization and uplifted them again to the pinnacle of perfection by making them godly and righteous men. He breathed into them the soul of spirituality and brought about their union with the true and living God. He imparted such life to their faith that they were slaughtered like sheep in the path of God, and trampled under feet like ants, but their faith remained unshaken, and in every trial they made an advancement and never retro-graded a step. Undoubtedly our Holy Prophet(saw) was a second Adam(as) in restoring spiritual life to the world. Nay, he was the true Adam, for through him all human excellences reached their perfection. His teaching called forth the exercise of all active virtues and every branch of the tree of humanity blossomed forth and yielded flower and fruit. Prophethood came to an end in him, not only because he came last of all, but also because the excellences of prophethood reached their climax in his holy person. As the Holy Prophet(saw) was a perfect manifestation of Divine attributes, therefore the Law he gave to the world was also perfect, having attributes both of glory and love. Hence he was called Muhammad as well as Ahmad (meaning a manifestation of Divine glory and a manifestation of Divine love respectively). His mission as a prophet was not narrowed by any limits, but was a Universal mission, and it was so even from the beginning.
Another argument for the truth of the Holy Prophet’s(saw) mission is furnished by the following circumstances. It appears from the Holy Qur’an as well as the books of previous prophets that the present cycle of the world which begins with Adam(as), will last for seven thousand years, every alternate thousand representing a period of the predominance of goodness and evil in succession. Thus beginning with the first thousand, every odd thousand was a period of the prevalence of truth and virtue, and every even thousand that of the spread of error and evil. Now according to this division, the fifth thousand from Adam(as) was a time of the spread of goodness and it was in this thousand that our Holy Prophet(saw) made his appearance and re-established the doctrine of unity which had almost disappeared from the face of earth. His appearance in the thousand which had been fixed from eternity as the time of the predominance of virtue is one of the most powerful arguments for his truth.
The argument adduced above in support of the truth of the Holy Prophet’s(saw) mission applies with equal force to the truth of my claim. For according to the division suggested above the sixth thousand which begins with the fourth century after Islam and ends with the thirteenth, is the time of the prevalence of error. In the traditions of our Holy Prophet(saw), the men of this time are described as the ‘Faij-e-Aawaj’ [crooked generation] With the commencement of the fourteenth century the world enters upon a new era, the millenium, which is a time of the predominance of truth. As it is the last thousand, so it is necessary that the reformer of the last ages should appear at its commencement. No Messiah comes after the Messiah who has already appeared but he who appears as his image. The Promised Messiah(as), therefore, appears as the reformer of the fourteenth century (for Almighty God had promised that every century would have a reformer) and also as the reformer of the last thousand. It is a fact upon which the Jews and the Christians are both agreed that we are now in the seventh thousand after Adam(as), while what has been revealed to me by God regarding the date of the Holy Prophet’s(saw) appearance as contained in the letters of the chapter known as Al-‘Asr (Afternoon) points to the same conclusion. Now the prophecies of the appearance of the Promised Messiah state unanimously the end of the sixth and the commencement of the seventh thousand after Adam(as) to be the time of their fulfilment. In being last of all he has a resemblance with Adam(as) who was the first of all.
Now Adam(as) was born at the close of the sixth day of the week, and as one day with God is equal to a thousand years, therefore it was necessary that the Promised Messiah should have been born at the close of the six thousand. Moreover Adam(as) was born on Friday and along with him was born a woman. So it happened in my case, viz., I too was born on Friday and was born a twin, a girl being born before me. This mode of birth indicated that I was the last of Imams. In short, the appearance of the Promised Messiah at the commencement of the seventh thousand is universally admitted. It is for this reason that there is great excitement in all Christian countries as to the immediate coming of the Messiah. Nay, there is even disappointment in some quarters as to his advent, the exact hour having already passed away, and some people are beginning to think that this promise is fulfilled by the regeneration of the Church, a poor substitute for the glorious advent of the Messiah. Thus my appearance exactly at the prophesied hour is a conclusive proof that I am the promised one.
Even if there had been no other argument for my truth, this one argument was sufficient to place it beyond all doubt. It shines like the midday sun and its rejection involves the rejection of all the prophets. Some people think that such a computation of time cannot be true for none can know of the hour of judgment, and that accordingly no period of time can be fixed from Adam(as) to the end. These people have never given a thought to the Divine books. It is a fact strongly supported by the testimony of the Jews and the Christians and the Holy Qur’an and the books of prophets. From the traditions of our Holy Prophet(saw), it also appears that we are in the last ages and the signs of the promised time have all been witnessed. The statement that the hour of judgment cannot be known to any mortal requires to be explained. It does not mean that we must remain quite in the dark as to the Day of Judgment. Had such been the case, why should the Holy Qur’an and the traditions have described the signs by which the approach of that hour could be known? Not only does the Holy Qur’an give us the signs by which the approach of that hour can be known, but it tells as also that that hour has drawn nigh. The Gospels and the previous books also mention the signs of its approach. What is meant, therefore, is this that the exact hour is not known to anybody. We fix it roundly at the end of seven thousand years, but we cannot fix the hour at which it must take place, for an addition or subtraction of several years would not affect the calculation.
There are numerous signs which indicate clearly that the Day of Judgment has drawn nigh, and a mighty revolution has taken place in the world. The signs of the last ages as given in the Holy Qur’an are mostly fulfilled. The time of the appearance of the Promised Messiah has come and the question naturally arises, whether he must appear from among the Muslims or any other people. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an, that the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), had complete resemblance with Moses(as). This resemblance was at first witnessed in the person of the Holy Prophet(saw) himself. As Pharaoh and his hosts, the enemies of Moses(as), were destroyed before his eyes, so Abu Jahl who was the Pharaoh of his time met with destruction together with his army at the hands of the Holy Prophet(saw). Thus was fulfilled the prophecy contained in the verse, ‘A prophet has been sent to you like the prophet who was sent to Pharaoh’ (Ch.73:V.16) where the unbelievers are threatened with a fate similar to that of Pharaoh and his hosts. This is a point of resemblance in the beginning of the two systems. A similar resemblance is promised at the end.
The Mosaic system was brought to an end by Almighty God raising a prophet who did not possess temporal power and who abolished religious wars and taught forbearance and forgiveness. He came at a time when the Israelites were morally in a state of degradation and evil had found way among them. They had lost all temporal power and lived in subjection to the Roman rule. This prophet appeared in the fourteenth century after Moses(as) and was the terminating link of the Israelite chain of prophets. In like manner has Almighty God raised me in this age in the spirit and character of Christ(as), son of Mary. Religious wars have been abolished in my time as they were in that of Jesus(as), in accordance with the prophetic word, and like Jesus(as) I have been sent to preach forbearance and forgiveness. Moreover, I have come at a time when the Muslims society has, like the Jewish, rotten to the core, and spirituality, which is the life and essence, having departed, nothing has remained in the hands of the Muslims but the husk of lifeless ceremonies.
This state of the Muslim people had been foretold in the Holy Qur’an, as in one place it uses of them the very words which it uses of the Jews, indicating that power and kingdom would be granted to the Muslims, but that they would be deprived of it in the last ages because of their evil deeds as the Jews were deprived before them. Again in Sura Nur (the Light) the Holy Qur’an clearly says that successors would be raised to the Holy Prophet(saw) like the successors of Moses(as). Thus among the successors of Moses(as), Jesus Christ(as) was a prophet who did not take up the sword nor waged religious wars. A similar Messiah must appear among the Muslims to complete the promised likeness spoken of in the verse: ‘God has promised to those among you who believe and do the things that are right, that He will make out of them successors in the land, as He gave succession to those who were before them, and that He will establish for them their religion which is so pleasing in their sight, and that after their fears He will give them security in exchange. They shall worship Me; nought shall they join with Me: and whoso after this believe not, they will be impious’ (Ch.24:V.56). It is in accordance with this promise that the last successor to the Holy Prophet(saw) has been raised in the likeness of the last successor of Moses(as) and has like him been called the Messiah.
Traditions also speak of the decline of Muslims during the last ages and of their acquiring a resemblance with the degraded Jewish race. The Fatiha also contains an allusion to this degenerate state of the Muslims, for it teaches us to pray to God that we may not be like the Jews upon whom the wrath of God had descended because of their rejection of Christ. Now when Almighty God orders a people to observe a certain commandment or to pray that they may not fall into error, it is plain that some of them who do not obey the Divine directions, must break that commandment or fall into that error. Accordingly the prayer taught in the Fatiha shows that some of the Muslims would acquire resemblance with the Jews who were visited by Divine wrath because of their persecution and denial of Jesus Christ. This involves the plain statement that the Messiah promised to the Muslims must appear from among themselves, and that it would be by rejecting their Messiah that they would acquire a resemblance with the Jews who formerly rejected Jesus(as) Christ, the Israelite Messiah. It cannot be urged that the Promised Messiah could not have been named Jesus if he was to appear from among the Muslims themselves, for it is a Divine law that the names of foregone men are spiritually or metaphorically applied to those who come after them. Thus the Holy Prophet(saw) gave to Abu Jahl the name of Pharaoh, and to Noah(as), the name of Adam. Similarly in the Holy Books of God, John the Baptist was named Elijah. This is a law which no one can gainsay.
The Promised Messiah bears another resemblance to Jesus Christ(as). Jesus(as) was not fully of an Israelite descent, but he was called an Israelite only because his mother was of that race. Similar is my case; some of my grandmothers too were Sayyids, though none of my ancestors was himself a Sayyid. The secret which underlay the birth of Jesus(as) was this that Almighty God was in great wrath against the Israelites, because of their transgressions, and the birth of a prophet, from among them who had no Israelite father, was a sign to them and a warning that the office of prophet was about to be taken away from the house of Israel. The birth of a child who did not partake of the blood of an Israelite father indicated that Israel had forfeited half its claim to Divine favour and would forfeit the other half on further transgressions, and that the next prophet would be from a totally different nation. As the world is now coming to an end, therefore in my descent from a tribe other than the Quraish, there is an indication that the end of the world would cut off all claims of the Quraish to khilafat. In short, to complete the resemblance between the Mosaic and the Islamic systems, it was necessary that a Messiah should have appeared after the Holy Prophet(saw), bearing resemblance in all important particulars to the Israelite Messiah. As the Muslim system began with the like of Moses(as), so it ended with the like of Jesus(as). This is another argument in support of the truth of my claim, but it can benefit those who fear God and are guided in their enquiry by a search after truth.
God have mercy on the Muslims that the beliefs of most of them are based upon errors and injustice. They read in the Holy Qur’an that Jesus(as) is dead, but still they consider him to be alive. They also read that successors to the Holy Prophet(saw) must be from among the Muslims, and still believe that the Promised Messiah would be from among the Israelites. In Bukhari and Muslim, the two authentic works on tradition, they find that the Messiah who would appear in the last ages would be from among themselves, and still want to bring Jesus(as) back to this world. They read in the Holy Qur’an that Jesus(as) would not come back to the world and notwithstanding this, believe that Jesus(as) himself would come back. They read further that no mortal can with this body of clay go up to heaven and make there his abode, and still entertain the belief that Jesus(as) with this physical body was taken up into heaven where he has been residing for nineteen hundred years. And holding all these beliefs against the Holy Qur’an they still call themselves Muslims. But why was Jesus(as) taken up to heaven in his body, and why has the Holy Qur’an not mentioned this event if it ever happened?
The statement in the Holy Qur’an if understood to mean an ascension of the body could not be meant as a refutation of the Jews. Their contention was simply as to the rising of the soul of Jesus(as) to heaven and not his body. They thought that they had caused the death of Jesus(as) by crucifixion and accordingly held that he was under the curse of God, and that his soul could not rise upward. This was the quarrel which the Holy Qur’an had to decide, for it claims to be a judge in all points of disagreement between the Jews and the Christians and an exposer of their errors. Now the contention of the Jews was that Jesus Christ(as) was not a righteous servant of God, and that accordingly he did not obtain salvation and his soul did not rise up to God, and, therefore, these were the very matters at issue and the question to be decided was whether the soul of Jesus(as) did rise to God like the souls of His righteous servants. But if the verse ‘But Almighty God raised him to Himself’ (Ch.4:V.159) which is the only verse bearing upon the subject in debate, speaks of Jesus’ ascension to the second heaven with this body of clay, the facts at issue remain as undecided as before.
Such an assertion is blasphemous for it amounts to the statement that Almighty God was unable to comprehend the point in dispute and gave a judgment which was wholly irrelevant. Again the verse speaks of Jesus(as) rising to God and not to the second heaven where he is supposed to be. The verse does not speak of heaven at all and the second heaven cannot be supposed to be the seat of the Almighty, and so the assertion falls to the ground. Moreover the rising of the body to heaven was never considered to be a condition of salvation. If Jesus(as) went to God, did not Abraham(as), Isaac(as), Ishmael(as), Jacob(as), Moses(as) and our Holy Prophet(saw) go to Him, or did they all (God forbid) go elsewhere? I assert emphatically that to consider rafa’, i.e., rising to God, a peculiarity of Jesus(as), and to believe that the other prophets were not granted this favour, is the veriest unbelief and a denial of the truth of every prophet, while the Holy Prophet(saw) bears witness to their rafa’.
It should be clearly understood that Jesus’ rafa’ (rising) to God has been adverted to in the Holy Qur’an only with the object of the refutation of the Jews and to warn them of their error in ascribing to Jesus(as) an accursed death. As a matter of fact rafa’ is granted to all the prophets and the faithful servants of God and their souls rise to God after death. It is to this rising that the following verse refers: ‘This is a reminder. And the righteous will surely have excellent retreat: Gardens of Eternity, with their gates thrown open to them’ (Ch.38:Vs.50-51) indicating that the gates of heaven shall be opened for the souls of the righteous to rise after their death. Of the unbelievers the Holy Qur’an says:
…The gates of heaven shall not be opened for them… (Ch.7:V.41)
Those who fell into this error before I came are excusable. To them it is pardoned for they were not informed of the truth and were not made to understand the true meaning of the Word of God. But such is not your case. To you everything has been explained and for you light has been thrown on every side of the question. Therefore you cannot bring forward any excuse for sticking to this error.
As for my truth, heaven has borne witness to it and the earth has offered its testimony. There is also the evidence of Muslim saints in support of my claim, some of whom described me so minutely as to give even my name and the name of my village. They died long before my appearance, but still gave evidence that I was the Promised Messiah. All this will be found published in my books. More recently some of the spiritual leaders of Muslim people with hundreds of thousands of followers, being inspired by God or informed by the Holy Prophet(saw) in a vision, have borne witness to the truth of my claim. Besides this, thousands of heavenly signs have been shown by me, and the holy prophets of God predicted the exact time of my appearance. If you reflect, even your hands and feet and your hearts will bear witness to the truth of my claim. Too many are your weaknesses and most of you are strangers to the sweetness of faith. The weakness and errors, the love of this world and the darkness in which the Muslims are involved naturally call for one who, being inspired from heaven, should rise and take them by the hand.
Still I am called a dajjal (Antichrist). How deplorable must be the condition of a people to whom at the critical moment in their life a dajjal is sent! How unfortunate the nation which when standing at the brink of destruction, is visited by another destruction from heaven! They call me accursed and a heretic, but there is nothing new in that. The same epithets were given to Jesus Christ(as) and are still given to him by the Jews. But those who will be punished in hell for their evils, will say:
Why see we not the men whom we numbered among the wicked? (Ch.38:V.63)
The world has ever been an enemy to the messengers of God, for the love of the world and the love of God’s righteous prophets cannot go together. Had you too not loved the world, you could have seen me, but now you cannot. If it is true that the verse ‘But Almighty God raised him to Himself’ (Ch.4:V.159) refers to the physical ascension of Jesus(as), where has then the Holy Qur’an decided the matter in dispute? The Jews, whom the verse plainly refutes, denied the rafa’ of Jesus(as) (i.e., his rising to God) only in the sense that he was an impostor and not a truthful and righteous servant of God and that accordingly his soul did not rise to heaven. They have never contended that a man’s death on the Crossrenders impossible his bodily ascension to heaven. What they say is only this that in accordance with the Word of God, the man who dies upon the Crossremains under the curse of God and his soul cannot rise to heaven. Now if we read the Holy Qur’an, we will see that its object is to deny the death of Jesus(as) upon the Crossand thus, to assert his rafa’ or the rising of his soul to heaven. Thus the verse in dispute is preceded by the verse:
And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge therof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty. (Ch.4:V.158)
Here the words which mean that they did not crucify him, are coupled with the words ‘and they did not murder him’, thus indicating that being nailed to the Crossdid not by itself bring a man under the curse of God unless death was caused by this process; or by the attendant process of breaking the legs which in such cases is resorted to, to make death sure. In these words, the Holy Qur’an, therefore, tells us that none of these events, took place in the case of Jesus, i.e., neither he died upon the Crossnor were his legs broken.
History bears witness to the truth of this assertion, and we learn even from the Gospels that Jesus(as) did not die upon the Crossnor were his legs broken. He was nailed to the Cross, but was taken off so soon that he could not die within the short interval that he remained thereon. But he became senseless and thus was taken by the Jews for a dead man. The Christians also laboured under this delusion, though they thought that he rose after his death. This state of senselessness which made him resemble a dead man is described in the Holy Qur’an in the words: ‘They were thrown into a doubt,’ which follow immediately the denial of his death by means of the Cross. The historical evidence furnished by the Marham-i-Isa, i.e., the Ointment of Jesus, is conclusive on this point. The prescription of this ointment is given in the Materia Medicas of the Hebrews, the Romans, the Grecians, and the Muslims, and dates from a very old period. This prescription is stated to have been prepared originally for Jesus Christ(as) by his apostles. In short, the very idea is disgraceful that Jesus(as) was taken up to heaven because the Almighty feared that He could not save him from the hands of the Jews so long as he was upon earth.
Such ideas involve a derogation of the dignity of our Holy Prophet(saw) too, for when the unbelievers of Makkah demanded of him the miracle that he should rise to heaven and come back from there with a book, making this a condition of their belief in him, the Holy Prophet(saw) was commanded to reply: ‘I am only a mortal, and holy is my Lord: (to Him cannot be ascribed the fault that He should do aught against His own promise)’ (Ch.17:V.94). Almighty God has said plainly that the earth is made a resting-place for men and that they shall not live and die except on this earth, as is indicated in the verse:
In this earth you shall live and in it you shall die, and from it you shall be brought forth. (Ch.7:V.26)
Some people think that they do not stand in need of the Promised Messiah, nor is it necessary to believe in him. They argue that admitting that Jesus(as) is dead, still as they are Muslims, and pray and fast and follow the Islamic injunctions, they do not need any one else to make them better. But this is a fatal error. In the first place, how can such people call themselves Muslims when they do not obey Almighty God and His Prophet(saw).
The command given to them respecting the Promised Messiah was that when he should make his appearance, they should run to him; and that though they should have to walk on ice upon their knees still they should reach him. But how are these orders carried out? By saying, ‘We do not need the Messiah, nor do we care for him.’ And those who are not satisfied with indifference go a step further and hurl at me the most scurrilous abuses. They call me a heresiarch and a dajjal. Anyone who injures me in any way thinks that he has done a deed of great merit, and the one who calls me a liar believes that he has thereby pleased Almighty God. O ye people who were commanded to be patient and God fearing and to walk in probity and righteousness! Who taught you to be so hasty in rejecting a messenger of God and to take in an evil light all his doings and words?
What sign is there which God has not manifested, and what argument which has not been appealed to, but you rejected every sign and every proof, and with boldness treated the commandments of God as naught. To whom should I liken this cunning generation. It is like the crafty man who in open daylight shuts his eyes and says ‘where is the sun.’ Thou self-deceived man open thine own eyes first and then thou wilt see the sun. It is easy to call a messenger of God a heretic, but difficult to follow him in the subtle ways of faith, easy to call him a Dajjal but hard to enter the strait gate of his teaching. Everyone who says that he does not care for the Promised Messiah does not care for his faith, and sets at naught the true purity of life, real salvation and living faith. If such men could take a just view of things, they would find that without the living and perfect certainty which is granted from heaven through the holy prophets and messengers of God, their prayers are only lifeless ceremonies and their fasting mere starvation.
The truth is that no one can actually obtain a release from the bondage of sin or love God perfectly or fear Him as he ought to fear, unless and until he is granted power from above and Divine knowledge through the grace and mercy of God. It is self-evident that love or fear of a thing is generated in the heart only by knowledge of it. If we were to consider the reason which makes a man love a thing or fear it, we would find that these states of mind are consequent only upon knowledge of the thing loved or feared. It is true, however, that the knowledge of God cannot be attained but through His grace, and with its attainment is the way opened for a man to see the truth. It is, therefore, grace only which opens and re-opens the gate of truth, and had it not been for the grace of God, we could not have attained His knowledge. Grace clears and brightens knowledge and removes all intervening veils. It brushes away the dust cast by the disobedient spirit and gives a power and life to the spirit. It takes the spirit of man by the hand and draws it out of the pit of disobedience, purifies it of the dross of evil desires and saves it from being swept off before the flood of passions. A transformation is then brought about within a man and he hates the impure life of sinfulness.
The first movement to which Divine grace leads the soul is prayer. Do not think that I mean by prayer the ordinary prayers that you say daily. The prayer to which the soul is led after it has attained Divine knowledge through Divine grace has quite a different nature. It is a thing which brings about annihilation, a fire which melts the soul, a magnetic power which draws mercy, a death which gives life, a raging flood which afterwards becomes the life-boat. It mends all deteriorations and impairments, and makes every poison ultimately a panacea. Blessed are the prisoners who are not tired of praying, for they shall one day be released. Blessed are the blind who are not remiss in praying, for they shall one day see. Blessed are they who lying in their graves seek the assistance of God with prayer, for they shall one day be made to rise from their graves. Blessed are you when you are not wearied with praying, and your soul melts for prayer and your eye sheds tears, when prayer kindles a bright fire in your heart and takes you into dark closets and solitary deserts to make you taste of the pleasures of loneliness and makes you almost mad in love, for you shall at last receive the grace and mercy of God.
The God to whom I invite you is a very gracious and merciful God, kind and modest, true and faithful and compassionate to the weak and the poor. Be you also then true and faithful to Him and pray to Him with sincerity and constancy, and He shall have mercy upon you. Keep yourselves apart from the hubbub of society and remain aloof from worldly contentions. Let not your religious controversies assume the character of your own quarrels, but choose to be called the defeated party so that you may be made heirs to great victories. To those who pray, Almighty God will show a miracle, and to those who seek, He will grant extraordinary blessings.
It is from God that prayer comes and to Him that it returns. With prayer God comes so near to you as your own soul. The very first blessing which it brings is that a holy transformation is brought about within a man, along with which God also changes His attributes. But do not think that His attributes are changing, nay, they are constant and unchangeable, but for the transformed one there is a different manifestation of which the world is quite ignorant. For him He becomes a new God, although beside Him there is no other God. It is the new manifestation of His glory that reveals Him. Then in a new light, and in this manifestation He does the wonderful deeds and shows the marvels of power which He does not do or show for the sake of others. This is the origin of miracles or heavenly signs.
In short, prayer is the grand elixir which transmutes a handful of dust into the purest and finest gold, and it is a water which washes off all impurities of the heart. With prayer the soul melts and flowing like water falls down on the threshold of Divine majesty. It stands like a worshipper in the presence of God, and bows down before His majesty and prostrates itself before His grandeur.
The namaz, or the five daily prayers of Islam, are an image of the true prayer of the soul. By the standing of the soul in the Divine presence, it is meant that it shows its readiness in obeying the commandments of God and in suffering every adversity and trial. By its bowing, it is meant that cutting off every tie of love and severing every connection it bends wholly to God and devotes itself entirely to Him. By its prostration, it is meant that falling down on the Divine threshold, it loses its own self entirely and annihilates every trace of self. This is the prayer which brings about the union of man with God, and a picture of this has been drawn by the Muslim Law in the ordinary daily prayers, so that the form may be the guide to the essence and a mover towards its attainment. Man has been so created that his body and soul mutually affect each other, and this is a fact of our everyday experience. It is for this reason that the Muslim Law makes the body partake with the soul in acts of the worship of the Divine Being, so that on account of the very close connection between the body and the soul, the form of worship may lead the soul to realise the essence which underlies it, and as the body stands or bows or prostrates itself, the soul inwardly does the same and thus gives a life to the form. For advancement a man must necessarily make exertions and this is true no less in the spiritual than in the material world. The uniting of the soul and the body in the worship of God is also a kind of exertion for the spiritual progress of man, for in this manner the one becomes an incentive to the other. But the mere physical standing and bowing and prostration are useless unless they are accompanied with the exertion that the soul may also stand and bow and prostrate itself before God.
It is a Divine law which can be traced as far back as the history of man that by the wonderful working of His grace, He first causes the holy spirit to descend upon whomsoever He wills, and then by the assistance of the holy spirit instils His love into his heart, grants him perseverance and faithfulness, and strengthens his knowledge and suppresses his weaknesses with manifold signs until the man is actually prepared to sacrifice his life in the way of God. His connection with God is made so strong and undissolvable, that no trial or adversity can break it and no sword can cut it asunder. This love has no temporary support, no transitory motive. It is not called forth by the desire of heaven or the fear of hell, or by any longing for worldly comfort or worldly gain. It is indescribable and the nature of it is not known to anyone but God, not even to the person who loves. He does not know why he loves and with what object, for his soul is naturally drawn to it. This connection is not produced by knowledge, for knowledge comes afterwards and illuminates the connection which is already existing. It is like the fire hidden in flint, but to lighten which it is necessary to strike it with steel. The person so favoured possesses on the one hand inherent love for God, and on the other he is granted a zeal for sympathy with his fellow-beings. So, as he is himself momently drawn towards God, he draws all capable hearts to himself. In Muslim theologic terminology such a person is called a prophet, a messenger, or a reformer. The prophets are the recipients of Divine revelation and are spoken to by God, and heavenly signs are manifested at their hands. Their prayers are accepted, and when they pray to God, they receive an answer from Him.