This is an extract from Victory of Islam, an English rendering of the Urdu Fath-e-Islam, written by the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam in 1890. It is the first public statement and invitation which spelt out the divinely appointed plan for the Victory of Islam in our time. Announcing his claim to be the Messiah and Mahdi and the Restorer of Islam promised in earlier scriptures, he called upon Muslims – rich and poor – to consider to what a sorry state Islam had been rendered – how it and the Holy Prophet(saw) were being attacked and insulted by the enemies of Islam. In this the earliest writing foreshadowing the establishment of the Ahmadiyya movement and its institutions, the Promised Messiah(as) called upon Muslims to come forward and help him in the task he had undertaken for establishing the truth and dignity of Islam.
Lord, infuse the blessings of Thy Spirit into this writing of mine and make the hearts of people turn to it with zeal and enthusiasm.
Readers! May God protect you Here and Hereafter! After a long time, this humble one invites your attention to this important essay – on a divine workshop to which God has appointed me for the promotion of the faith of Islam. In this Essay – with such power of communication as God has given me – I wish to explain to you the importance of the workshop and the need to help it, so that the duty to explain and invite which lies with me may be done. In addressing you, I am not concerned with how my essay will influence your minds. All I am concerned with is my duty, the duty to deliver this message; which I owe to you as one owes a debt to some one else. It matters not whether the message falls on willing ears or deaf, whether it is welcomed by them or not, and whether readers trust my good intentions or not, and I resign my cause to Allah and Allah watches well over His people.
Ye who seek truth, and ye who faithfully love Islam! Ye know that the time is very dark in which we live. Corruption has set in – in men’s faith as well as in their actions. A swift and evil wind blows on all sides spreading error and transgression. What is called Faith amounts to words repeated in mechanical fashion and what are called good works amount to a few rites, to some extravagant practices or hypocritical activities. True piety and virtue have been forgotten. The philosophy and science of this age run counter to spiritual aspirations. The influence they exert is bad to an extreme and conducive to spiritual blindness. They stimulate thoughts dangerous and impulses satanic. Those who become engrossed in these studies lose their religious convictions, so much so that they begin to hold Divine Truths in contempt and prescribed ways of worship – prayers, fasting etc., – in ridicule. The Being and Existence of God are not serious propositions with them. A great many are anti-religious, steeped in naturalistic thinking and born and bred as Muslims they become hostile to religion. College-going young men, even before they are out of college, bid good-bye to their faith and their duties towards the faith.
And this is but a part of the scene full of obnoxious error and misguidance. There are other parts of the scene – by the hundred – all as obnoxious. It is but true that honesty and integrity have disappeared from the earth, as good as not more. Cheating and lying have gone to extremes, all in the pursuit of worldly ends. The most mischievous men are said to be the ablest and the most competent. Deception, dishonesty, sin and delinquencies of various kinds, lying, fabricating, the worst kind of intriguing and scheming are on the increase. Add to these, those bitter quarrels and disputes which excite animal passions and violence. All like a terrible storm. The more enlightened people become in new sciences, the more deficient they become in decent and good behaviour and in disposition of modesty and shame, in the fear of God, and love of straight dealings.
The Christian teaching is laying so many mines to blow up truth and faith. Christians are out to destroy Islam and ready to use lies and fabrications in ways most subtle, and on all occasions and with the help of ever new techniques – all directed to beguile and lead people astray. Christians are defaming and lampooning the Holy Prophet(saw), the perfect man who proved himself the pride of holy men of all times and chief among the saints and apostles of the world. They hesitate not to caricature him in theatrical shows. They try and project a most hateful image they can invent of him. The worst that vicious and unchaste minds can think of is levelled against Islam and the Holy Prophet(saw) of Islam to lower them in the eyes of the world.
Now O Muslims, hear and hear attentively that this campaign against Islam and Islam’s holy influence cannot be defeated by ordinary methods and means. The campaign is backed by the most complex fabrications and the most carefully planned devices that Christians can design. It is pursued mercilessly, with no thought of the expenditure involved. It does not exclude some most shameful devices which decency forbids us to detail. It is a campaign let loose on a large scale and pushed by the worst possible wizardry by Christian peoples, followers of Trinity. Such a campaign cannot be countered by ordinary methods. It cannot be beaten unless its magic and wizardry are confronted by the miraculous power of the Hand of God. Only miraculous power can and will smash this campaign and not without it can we save our simple souls from this vicious Western magic. To think of anything else would be sheer folly. No wonder, therefore, God Almighty has chosen from amongst the true Muslims of our time, this humble one and blessed him with His revealed word and with other Divine favours that this vicious magic may be undone.
He has taught me the special ways by which we can reach Him. He has gifted me with other divine favours – miraculous powers and knowledge of the subtleties of the waxen idol, which Western magic has raised in our time.
In short, O Muslims, the coming of this humble one is a miracle. It is a miracle to dispel the darkness of Western magic. Was it not imperative that this magic should be dispelled by a miracle? Do you think it strange and incredible that to confront and defeat the terrible intrigues – which I call magic – there should be a dazzling manifestation by God with the compelling power of a miracle?
Ye wise ones, do not be surprised that right in the time of need, to dispel darkness of this depth, God has sent a light from Heaven and appointed one of His servants for the benefit of all and sundry to raise again the Voice of Islam; to spread the light and knowledge we owe to the Holy Prophet(saw), to support and assist the interests of Muslims, and also at the same time to bring about their internal reform. You would have had more cause to be surprised if God had remained silent at such a time. And yet He has promised always to guard and support the Faith of Islam, and never to let it lose its power and popularity and influence in the world. Could such a God have stood still and done nothing at this moment of darkness when there was such utter need to deal with the internal and external dangers of Muslims? I say it again, there would have been more surprise if at such a time God had done nothing, if He had forgotten His promise of help contained in the clearest possible terms in His own Holy Words. Occasion for surprise there would have been if the promise contained in the sayings of our Holy Prophet(saw) had gone unfulfilled. The Holy Prophet(saw) said that God will raise at the head of every 100 years a servant of His to reform His own Faith.
To publish translations of the Holy Qur’an as a profitable business or as a custom, to prepare and circulate Urdu or Persian translations of religious books and books of Hadith, to reach new and lifeless exercises which has become the custom of our time – these are not matters which can be described as Tajdid-ud-Din or Restoration of Religion. Of these, the last one amounts to promoting Satanic institutions, subversive of true religion. To publish and circulate the Holy Qur’an and authentic Ahadith is undoubtedly laudable. This may be done with the utmost care and attention, with a keen eye on all the formal requirements; and yet fail to measure as true service. True service springs from a state of the heart: which accepts the influence of the Qur’an and Hadith. Without it service of the Qur’an and Hadith remains lifeless, without meaning. Such lifeless service only needs some learning, and such service we have known always. It has no bearing on true Tajdid.
In the eyes of God it is trading in dead dry bones, nothing more. Says God:
Why do you say what you do not? Most hateful is it in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not… (Holy Qur’an, Ch.61:V.3)
O ye who believe, take care of your own selves. He who goes astray cannot harm you when you yourselves are rightly guided. (Holy Qur’an, Ch.5:V.106)
He who is blind himself cannot show the way to the blind and he who is a leper cannot take away the disease from other people’s bodies. Tajdid (passion for true reform) springs from a holy state which first descends on the heart of someone blessed with the gift of divine revelation. From him it passes on to others. Those who receive this reforming zeal from God do not trade in dead bones.
On the contrary, they play the part of deputies to the Holy Prophet(saw) and spiritually speaking are his successors or Khalifas. They inherit the blessings with which God favours His prophets and apostles. What they say comes effortlessly and spontaneously from their hearts. They do not teach only word of mouth but both by word and deed. The revelation of God illumines their hearts. In times of difficulty they receive guidance from the Holy Spirit. Their speech and conduct are not mixed with the love or fear of this world. They are made transparently clean inside and out. They are drawn wholly to God.
What I say is not an occasion for surprise, therefore, it is an occasion, rather, for rendering thanks – repeated thanks – to God. It is an occasion for renewing faith; certainty of faith, that is to say, God Almighty through sheer Grace and Mercy has fulfilled His promise. The prophecy His Apostle made has been true without a minute’s delay. Not only has a prophecy been fulfilled, but the door has been opened for the fulfilment of thousands of other prophecies – the showing of other miracles. If you have faith, therefore, you must render thanks to God. You must prostrate again and again in gratitude to Him. This is the time your fathers waited to see but it did not come. Generations went by and it did not come. It has come for you. It is for you to be grateful for it, for you to benefit from it. I must say and I cannot be stopped from repeating that I am the Promised One who has been sent to restore the faith, to re-establish it in the hearts of men. I have been sent exactly as was sent my prototype, to follow the man of God they call Kalimullah (Word of God). I have come like him whose spirit underwent hardships in the reign of Herod and was at last raised to heaven. My coming became imperative after the coming of the second Kalim, he who is greater than the first Kalim being the chief of all prophets. This second Kalim came to defeat and disgrace the Pharaohs of his time. It is of him that it has been said in the Holy Book:
We have sent unto you a Messenger as witness over you, even as we sent to Pharaoh a Messenger. (Holy Qur’an, Ch.73:V.16)
In accordance with this the second Kalim, similar to the first but superior to him in spiritual rank, was also promised a Messiah similar to the first. This second Messiah has come in the power and character of the first, at a time similar to his and after the lapse of a similar length of time after his own Kalim: that is after about 1,400 years. His coming is described in prophecies as a descent from heaven but the descent is a spiritual descent. In holy idiom men who achieve perfection rise to heaven. When they come to reform their people they may be said to descend from heaven. The second Messiah has descended at a time which resembles in all essentials the time of the first Messiah, the Messiah(as) son of Mary, that it may serve as a sign for those who understand.
Our time is a time in which emphasis on external forms and indifference to inner spirit and true piety are at their maximum. So are absence of honesty and integrity and disregard of truth and purity. So are love of riches and love of the world. These evils are rampant today as they were rampant among the Jews of the time of Jesus(as) son of Mary. The Jews at the advent of Jesus(as) had become strangers to true morality, its place in their life having been taken by outer forms and customs. Probity and truthfulness and inner purity and sense of fairness and justice had disappeared from amongst them. Fellow feeling and charity had become unknown. Creature-worship of many different kinds had become established. So have these evils, one and all, raised their head in our time. Things lawful are not accepted and used with the gratitude and humility which are their due. Things unlawful are not avoided with the nausea and disgust they deserve. Important ordinances of God are put aside by cheap excuses and inventions. Our ‘Ulema are no way behind the scribes and pharisees of those times. They also would swallow a camel but strain at a gnat. The Kingdom of God is closed by them upon everyone. They enter it not themselves.
They do spend a long time over Namaz (Salat), the daily prayers. But their hearts are devoid of love of the True God and of a sense of His Majesty and Greatness. From the pulpit they deliver sermons which would move men to tears. But their works tally not with their sermons. Their tears roll down easily and this is amazing. For, their hearts are so different – ill-intentioned and rebellious. Their speech is full of professions of faith and this also is amazing. For at heart they are so different. The well-known Jewish character is writ large over them. Piety and fear of God are on the decline. Loss of true faith has made people cold and indifferent towards God. Love of the world has taken the place of the love of God. And all this was inevitable. For, the Holy Prophet(saw), our Chief, our Patron had prophesied that a time will come when this Ummah will have acquired great similarity of character with the Jews, that they will be doing everything the Jews did in their time. So much so that if any Jews ever attempted to enter a rat’s hole, there will be men in the Ummah who will try to do the same. At such a time, the prophecy goes on, a man of Persian descent will arise and begin to restore the old faith among the people.
[To be continued]