HAZRAT MIRZA GHULAM AHMAD (AS), THE PROMISED MESSIAH AND IMAM MAHDI
The Promised Messiah (as) wrote over 80 books in Arabic, Urdu, and Persian. Excerpts of his collected works have been translated into English and organized by topic. The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. Here, the Promised Messiah (as) elaborates on the bounties and benefits that those who follow the Holy Qur’an receive for doing so.
Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. I, 404-415. This is the fifth part of a multi-part series.
Bounties Received by Followers of Holy Qur’an
The bounties that are bestowed upon the followers of the Holy Qur’an and the special gifts that they receive are not capable of being expressed in words, but some of them are of such great magnitude that it would be proper to mention them in some detail for the guidance of seekers.
Of these are the knowledge and insights which are bestowed on perfect followers. When a person adopts true obedience to the Holy Qur’an, commits himself wholly to its commandments, reflects upon its guidance with perfect love and sincerity, and does not hold back in any respect, then his observation and reflection are bestowed a light, and he is equipped with a delicate sense of reason whereby he is informed of wonderful fine points of divine knowledge which are hidden in the Word of God. Fine insights descend upon his heart like heavy rain. These fine insights are given the name of wisdom in the Holy Qur’an as is said:
God grants wisdom to whom He pleases, and whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted abundant good. That is, wisdom comprises abundant good; he who is granted wisdom, attains abundant good.
This knowledge and understanding, which are called wisdom, being comprehensive of abundant good, are like a vast ocean which is bestowed upon the followers of the divine word. Their observation and reflection are so blessed that high verities are reflected in their souls, as in a mirror, and perfect truths are disclosed to them. Divine support furnishes them with such means at the time of every research that what they set forth does not remain incomplete or defective and contains no error. So the knowledge and insights and verities and fine points and arguments and proofs that occur to them are so perfect and complete that it is a matter above the ordinary and other people cannot match them. They do not arise of themselves in their minds, but they are guided to them by a hidden understanding and divine support, and it is through the strength of that understanding that they alight upon the mysteries and lights of the Qur’an, which cannot be acquired in the smoky light of reason alone. This knowledge and these insights that are bestowed upon them, and the fine points and deep insights relating to the being and attributes of the divine and to the life after death which are disclosed to them, are in their nature spiritual, which in the estimation of the wise, are higher and finer than material wonders.
In the estimation of the wise the value and rank of the men of God are determined by these extraordinary gifts. These are the ornaments of their high rank and are the beauty of their countenance. It is a part of human nature that the awe of knowledge and true insights affects it most, and truth and understanding are dearer to it than everything else. If it were supposed that a pious person is granted visions, is given knowledge of hidden matters, subjects himself to severe disciplines, and many extraordinary things are manifested by him, but that he is ignorant of the knowledge of the divine so much so that he cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood, is caught in wrong thinking and incorrect doctrine, and is weak and liable to error in every matter, he would appear as base and contemptible in the estimation of every sane person. A person who smacks of ignorance in the estimation of a wise one, and is disliked by those who hear him utter stupid things, cannot be respected by a wise one and appears contemptible, however pious and devoted he might be. This shows that spiritual wonders, that is to say, knowledge of the divine and insights, are a necessary characteristic of the men of God and are special conditions for the recognition of the great wonders of the faith.
These conditions are bestowed in a complete and perfect manner upon those who follow the Holy Qur’an to the full. Despite the fact that many of them are not learned and are not well-versed in current subjects, they are so much in advance of their contemporaries in fine points and knowledge of the divine that very often their opponents are surprised on hearing their speeches, or on reading their writings, and are forced to confess that their knowledge and insights belong to another world and bear the colour of divine support. One proof of this is that if anyone, who is opposed to them, seeks to compare their speeches on subjects relating to the divine with anyone else’s speech, he is forced to confess, provided he is just and honest, that truth resides in their speeches. As the discussion proceeds and becomes deeper, many fine arguments emerge which would establish their being in the right, like a bright day. We are ready ourselves to furnish proof of this to every seeker after truth.
Another of these bounties is sinlessness, which is also termed divine protection. This is also bestowed on the perfect followers of the Holy Qur’an as an extraordinary gift. By sinlessness, we mean that they are safeguarded against undesirable habits, thoughts, morals and actions in which other people are involved day and night. If they happen to make a slip divine mercy soon sets them right. It is obvious that the station of sinlessness is very delicate and is altogether at a distance from the demands of the self that incites to evil, and that its acquisition is not possible without special divine attention. For instance, if an average person is asked that he should absolutely avoid telling a lie in every one of his affairs, statements, professions and occupations, it becomes difficult and impossible for him. Even if he makes every effort towards this, he is met with so many obstructions that in the end it becomes his principle that in the affairs of the world it is impossible to avoid falsehood. But for those fortunate ones, who seek to follow the guidance of the Holy Qur’an with true love and eager determination, not only is it made easy that they should avoid telling lies, but they are also granted strength to give up everything undesirable. God Almighty, by His perfect mercy, safeguards them on all ill occasions that would lead them to ruin, for they are the light of the world and in their security lies the security of the world, and their ruin means the ruin of the world. For this reason they are safeguarded in respect of every thought, knowledge and understanding, wrath and passion, fear and greed, constriction and prosperity, joy and sorrow, and hardship and ease, from all unworthy actions, corrupt thoughts, wrong knowledge, improper conduct, misguided reflections and every excess of their ego. They do not take their stand on anything undesirable, for God Almighty makes Himself responsible for their training and whenever He observes a dry branch in their pure tree, He cuts it off with His benevolent hand. Divine support watches over them every moment. This bounty of protection which is bestowed upon them is also not without proof. An intelligent person can satisfy himself in respect of it after keeping company with them for a short while.
Another great bounty is trust in God on which they are firmly established. This pure spring is not available to anyone besides them, but is made pleasant and agreeable for them. The light of understanding lends them such support that very often, without there being any resources and finding themselves far away from normal means, they lead such cheerful lives and pass their days in such prosperity as if they possessed thousands of treasures. Their countenances display the freshness of wealth and the steadfastness of the rich. They have perfect trust in their Lord in times of hardship, with cheerful heart and complete certainty. They are given to sacrifice and the service of people is their habit. Even if the whole world were to become members of their family, they would feel no constraint. They are grateful to God Almighty, Who covers up their shortcomings on every occasion. They are taken into the protection of the divine before an unbearable calamity descends upon them, for God is their Guardian in all circumstances, as He has said Himself:
Others are left to face the painful pursuit of worldly objects, and the extraordinary treatment that is accorded to these people is not accorded to anyone else. This characteristic of theirs can also be proved very soon by keeping company with them.
Another bounty is the personal love of God on which the perfect followers of the Holy Qur’an are established. Love of God so saturates every particle of their existence that it becomes the essence of their being and the reality of their life. A wonderful love of the True Beloved surges up in their hearts and an extraordinary affection and eagerness take possession of their pure hearts, which cuts them off altogether from all others; and the fire of divine love is so lit up in them that on special occasions it becomes palpably perceptible to those who keep company with them. It becomes impossible for them to adopt any design or strategy to keep it hidden, just as it is impossible for worldly lovers to hide their love for their beloved from their companions and associates whom they yearn to see day and night. The love that penetrates their talk, and their looks, and their eyes, and their appearance, and their nature, and is manifested in every particle of their being, cannot be kept secret. Whatever they might do, some sign of it is betrayed.
The greatest sign of their sincerity is that they prefer their Beloved to everything else, and if they experience any hardships, they view them as bounties on account of their overpowering love, and torment becomes for them a sweet drink. No sharp sword can bring about separation between them and their Beloved and no great calamity can restrain them from His remembrance. They regard it as their very life, and find all their joy in it, and deem its existence as their own existence and consider it as the purpose of their lives. They are fond only of Him and find comfort only in Him. They have only Him in the world and become wholly His. They live for Him and die for Him. They are in the world but are outside the world; and possessing self, they are selfless. They have no concern with honour, name, life or comfort. They lose everything for the sake of the One and give up everything to find Him. They are consumed by an unperceived fire and cannot explain why they are consumed. They are deaf and dumb to every admonition, and are ready to endure every hardship and disgrace, and find their delight therein.
Another bounty is high moral qualities like generosity, bravery, sacrifice, high resolve, compassion, forbearance, modesty and friendship. All these qualities are displayed by them in the best manner, and through the blessing of the following of the Holy Qur’an they manifest them with fidelity till the end of their lives, and no constraint can restrain them from exhibiting these qualities. The truth is that every good quality, whether intellectual or relating to conduct or morals, which is manifested by man, is not manifested by human power. The true cause of its manifestation is the grace of God. As these people are the recipients of the grace of God more than anyone else, God Almighty bestows all good qualities upon them through His endless grace. In other words, no one is truly good except God Almighty and all high moral qualities and all virtues centre in Him. Then to the degree to which a person, discarding his self and his will, acquires nearness to the Being Who is All Good, to that degree divine qualities are reflected in his soul. Thus, all the good qualities and true culture that a person acquires proceed from his nearness to God. That is as it should be, for creatures are nothing in themselves. Thus, the reflection of divine moral qualities is manifested in the hearts of those who follow the Holy Qur’an perfectly. Experience can show that the pure behaviour, and the spiritual eagerness, and the upsurge of love with which high moral qualities are manifested by them, are not equalled anywhere in the world. Everyone can make a claim and can boast of himself, but these are the only people who can pass safely through the narrow door of experience.
Such good qualities as are manifested by other people are shown artificially by hiding their deficiencies and their diseases. They display a false culture and their reality is exposed on the occasion of every little test. They import artificiality and make believe in the exercise of moral qualities in order to maintain good order in their way of life; if they were to follow on all occasions their inner deficiencies, their way of life would be upset. Though they carry a seed of good qualities according to their natural capacity, it is suppressed under the thorns of the desires of their ego. It is not manifested purely for the sake of God and is mixed up with selfish desires and cannot attain to perfection.
This seed develops into perfection purely for the sake of God only in those people who are devoted wholly to God and whose souls are filled by God with His own pure qualities, as they are empty of everything beside God. He makes those high qualities as dear to their hearts as they are dear to Him. Through their devotion, they acquire such a high rank of adorning themselves with divine qualities that they become an instrument in the hands of God through which He manifests His own qualities. Finding them hungry and thirsty, He gives them to drink of pure water from His special spring in which no creature, in its own right, is His partner.
Another great bounty that is bestowed on the perfect followers of the Holy Qur’an is the state of complete submission to God. Despite their own excellences, they keep an eye on their deficiencies and, in the presence of the greatness of God Almighty, pass all their time in humility, nothingness and meekness. They appreciate as their true reality humility and poverty and indigence, and being full of faults and mistakes. They deem the excellences that are bestowed on them like the temporary light which the sun casts upon a wall, and which has no real relationship with the wall, and is subject to decline like a borrowed garment. They confine all good and excellence in God, and deem His Perfect Being as the fountainhead of all good. By the observation of divine qualities, their hearts are filled with the certainty that they themselves are nothing, so that they are wholly lost to their own existence, desires and designs. The surging ocean of the majesty of the divine so envelops their hearts that they experience a thousand types of nothingness, and they are wholly cleansed and purified of the least suspicion of associating anything with God.
Another bounty is that their understanding and recognition of God are carried to completion and perfection through true visions, inner knowledge, clear revelation, converse with God and other supernatural experiences, so much so that between them and the second world is left only a thin and transparent veil across which they behold the facts of the other life in this very world. Other people cannot arrive at this perfect stage because their books are full of darkness and pile up hundreds of other veils on top of their own veils and cause their disease to grow till they arrive at death. Even the philosophers, who are in these days followed by the Brahmu Samajists and the whole of whose religion depends upon reason, are deficient in their way. Their deficiency is disclosed by the fact that their understanding, because of a hundred types of mistakes, does not travel beyond perceptible reason and conjectures.
It is obvious that a person whose understanding is confined to the visible and is subject to many mistakes, occupies a very low intellectual position in contrast with one whose understanding has arrived at the stage of the self-obvious. It is quite clear that beyond the stage of observation and reflection, there is the stage of self-evidence and certainty. Matters that are discovered through observation and reflection may become self-obvious and self-displaying through some other means. Thus, the stage of self-obviousness is possible according to reason, and though Brahmu Samajists deny its existence they admit that if it is found externally it would doubtless be higher and more perfect, and that the deficiencies that are left in observation and reflection would be filled only at that stage.
Everyone can understand that a matter being established as self-obvious is a higher and more perfect stage than the stage of reflection. For instance, though by observation of the creation a wise and good-natured person can think that all this should have a Creator, yet the obvious and bright way of divine understanding, which is a strong argument in support of His existence, is that His creatures receive revelation, and before the end of the reality of things is disclosed they are made aware of it, and God responds to their supplications. God holds converse with them, the facts of the after-life are revealed to them in visions, they are informed of the true reality of reward and punishment, and many other types of mysteries relating to the life after death are disclosed to them. There is no doubt that all these matters carry certainty to a perfect and complete stage and carry one from the low-lying areas of reflection to the high minaret of obviousness. Converse with the Divine is the highest experience of this type, for through it not only does a person discover hidden matters, but he is also informed of all the favours that God bestows upon that humble servant, and he is afforded such satisfaction through a delicious and blessed converse and is informed of the pleasure of God Almighty in consequence of which he is bestowed great strength for combating the evil attractions of the world. He is bestowed mountains of endurance and steadfastness. In the same manner, he is taught high degrees of knowledge and understanding and hidden mysteries, and deep fine points are communicated to him which cannot be discovered without special divine teaching. If someone asks how can all these matters, concerning which it is said that they are acquired by perfect obedience to the Holy Qur’an, be established as existing in effect in Islam; the answer is that such knowledge can be gained by keeping company with those who have this experience.
We have stated it several times, and repeat briefly in order to disclose it to every opponent, that this great wealth is found in Islam and is not found in any other religion. For a seeker after truth we make ourselves responsible for furnishing proof of it. If a person who is inspired by goodwill desires to carry out research with patience and steadfastness, these matters can be disclosed to him according to his capacity and ability, if he will keep company with us.
—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 1, pp. 532-545, sub-footnote 3
 The Holy Qur’an, 2:270.
 He (Allah) protects the righteous.’ The Holy Qur’an, 7:197. [Publisher]
 Love is what makes one roll in the dust of disgrace Love is what makes one sit in the scorching fire. No one offers his head, or sacrifices his life for someone else, Love alone makes one perform this task with utmost sincerity. [Publisher]