Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Translated into English by Nooruddeen Jahangeer Khan for The Review of Religions translation team
On 25th March 1916, a Christian came to see Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II [Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra)] and said, ‘I have come to you solely so that you may inform me as to who can grant me true salvation. I have realised that until now the one whom guide has been leading me to a different path as opposed to granting me true salvation. I hope to be told of a greater saviour than Jesus Christ (as), whom I believe suffered and passed through great tribulations to the point where he was even killed, in order for us to attain salvation.’ At the time His Holiness [Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra)] had come to check his mail and there and then he delivered the following speech. (Editor of Al-Fazl)
The Christian Concept of Salvation
His Holiness (ra) stated:
‘First of all, I would like to outline the differences between Islam and Christianity on the concept of salvation. The Christian doctrine of salvation is that Adam committed the original sin which was consequently inherited by all of mankind. Just as a father’s wealth is inherited by all his children, similarly, the sin of Adam, father of mankind, was inherited by his progeny, that is, all people. Nobody can escape this inheritance, and by the time a person tries to free himself of it, he will have committed many other sins. This is because, since the Law of God Almighty has been established to be acted upon in its entirety, if someone breaks even a single commandment, then it is necessary that they be punished. And if God Almighty does not mete out punishment to such a sinner, He would be deemed unjust. But the mercy of God Almighty desires to forgive, as He is more loving than even one’s own parents. For this reason, God decided that a sinless person, who also possessed divine qualities, should be seized and placed on the cross. And so, just as a person’s debt can be paid off by another person, Jesus Christ bore the burden of our sins and consequently we were saved. Thus, in this way, both God Almighty’s justice was upheld and His love was manifested. This is the Christian doctrine.’
The Islamic Concept of Salvation
In contrast, Islam teaches that every person’s salvation is dependent upon his own actions. Until a person himself adopts virtue and righteousness, he cannot be completely free from sins, vices and flaws, and thus will be unworthy of salvation.
The Islamic Perspective is Superior to the Christian Perspective
In addition to this, there is a significant difference between the doctrines of Christianity and Islam, which is that Islam does not just call towards salvation – as Christianity and other religions such as Buddhism do – but has a much grander goal, in comparison to which only seeking salvation is trivial. The meaning of salvation is to be free from pain and suffering, but man’s nature does not just long to be delivered from suffering alone, it also yearns to attain peace and tranquility. One who sits on thorn-free ground does not endure pain or suffering, but a person who sits on a cushioned seat not only avoids discomfort but also experiences ease and comfort. Similarly, if a person’s stomach does not hurt and his eyes are not sore, he is at ease. Yet it can also be the case that his health and well-being alone do not necessarily bring him any joy and happiness. Hence, it is one thing to be free from pain and suffering and quite another to find peace and tranquility. This is what Islam presents. When human nature inherently desires ease and comfort, which is different from the mere avoidance of suffering, then why shouldn’t people be able to attain it? Take, for example, an illiterate person. They will not suffer any distress by the fact that they are unable to read a certain book. But for the one who is educated, it is not the case that reading the book will lessen his pain or suffering; rather, it will give them pleasure. Thus, reading is not beneficial because it rescues one from pain; rather, reading is valuable because it provides satisfaction and contentment. You will find in the world that people go to great lengths to acquire wealth. However, if someone has enough food to fill their stomach and necessary clothing to wear, they too will not be in pain. Yet why is no one content with this alone? It is because everyone believes more money equates to more satisfaction and comfort. We observe that the Creator (as I have not yet discussed which religion is the true one, thus here the “Creator” being discussed is not referring to the god of any specific faith) has ingrained in the nature of man a desire to attain comfort and bliss.
Only a Statement Supported by the Work of God Can Be Deemed Truthful
Because this longing is found in every human being, it is evident that it is the work of God. One can even examine this in the Word of God as well. God Almighty has created eyes for us to see with. But if any religion stated that we should see with our ears instead of our eyes we would immediately declare this to be wrong. This is due to the fact that God Almighty has placed the faculty of sight in the eyes and not the ears. Thus any religious claim should be examined through the lens of God’s works. Whatever declaration (.i.e religious commandment) is supported by action, i.e. the law of nature, should indeed be accepted and whatever pronouncement is rejected by the law of nature should be deemed incorrect and discarded.
Which Religion Is Truly in Harmony with Nature?
Hence, we see that, since God Almighty has ingrained in human nature to want to avoid suffering and to desire ease and comfort, therefore the religion which issues commands on both of these aspects will be the one which is harmonious with human nature. On the other hand, the religion which only explains how to save oneself from distress and suffering, but remains completely silent on how to acquire ease and contentment, cannot be a religion in harmony with human nature. This is because one who explains faith in such a manner is unaware of the true nature of man. Whatever faculties God Almighty has bestowed upon mankind, He has also provided the means and the resources for those faculties to be utilised. For example, the stomach has the capacity for digestion and so He has provided us with suitable food. We have eyes to see with, and so light was created for them. We have ears to hear with, and so air was also created. In the same way, the soul too has certain faculties for which means and resources have been created.
Islam Not Only Grants Salvation; It Also Grants One Success and Prosperity
The innate nature of soul is to not only avoid pain, but also to seek comfort. However, the religion which merely delivers the soul from suffering only fulfils half of its needs, as it has two requirements – first, to be free from pain and secondly to attain solace. Christianity only promises salvation, which is deliverance from grief and suffering. This is as if a person who was challenging his enemy was told, “Do not worry, he won’t hurt you.” However, this will not be as reassuring to him if he were told, “Do not worry, not only will your opponent not harm you, you will also triumph over him.” This is because merely being free from suffering cannot be a source of absolute contentment. Islam has set this as the ultimate stage, that is, after having been delivered from pain and anguish, one attains success and prosperity. This is known as falah; in other words, after having attained triumph, success and dominance, one is provided with the means of ease and comfort. Hence, Islam not only explains how to avoid suffering, but also how to attain comfort. This is the first and most important difference between Islam and Christianity. Christian preachers put all their energy and enthusiasm into calling people to salvation. On the other hand, the Holy Qur’an states from the very outset:
أُولٰئِكَ عَلىٰ هُدًى مِن رَبِّهِم وَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ المُفلِحونَ
[“It is they who follow the guidance of their Lord and it is they who shall prosper.”] 
Those who follow the Islamic injunctions will achieve guidance and all levels of spiritual ranks. In addition, they will be the ones who will succeed in reaching their goals. This is a much higher rank than to simply be delivered from suffering. There is no doubt that the Christian faith also draws attention to attaining ease and comfort, but it has not been emphasised. Instead, it has been deemed secondary, whilst attaining salvation is considered to be the true purpose. It is evident from this that either those who compiled the Bible had a narrow perspective, or that later on people changed or altered the scripture. Thus, this is one of the major differences.
The First Distinction Between Christianity and Islam
Now I would like to mention that Islam also presents the concept of salvation just as Christianity presents its own concept, but the concept of salvation [in Islam] holds a lower status than falah (success and prosperity). Just as colleges grant different degrees of higher or lower levels, such as Bachelors, Masters, Intermediate level [equivalent to A-levels] and entrance level qualifications, similarly, Islam has different levels and ranks. Undoubtedly salvation is also a rank, albeit an inferior one. So while Islam and Christianity agree that salvation exists, Islam considers it a lower level, whereas Christianity declares it the highest rank.
The Second Distinction
Another distinction between Islam and Christianity is that Christianity stresses the fact that salvation cannot be attained through one’s efforts and actions but solely through the grace of God. It teaches that since nobody has ever been able to perform all good deeds, God sacrificed his son in order for all of mankind’s sins to be wiped away and be granted salvation. Islam agrees that salvation is dependent upon the grace of God Almighty, but it also states that everything has a cause, and it is impossible for something to exist without a cause. While many times it is the case that we do not know the cause of something, nevertheless a cause certainly exists. It is also possible that a particular cause may be further governed by another cause. For example, a person hires a worker at the rate of four annas a day [an older form of currency, equal to one sixteenth of a rupee]. The more effort and toil the worker puts into his work, the better he will be able to discharge his duties. And if he shows indolence in his work, he will be guilty of dishonesty and deceit. However, if he excels in his work, that would not give him the right to ask for higher wages. Of course, if he works for a day and a half instead of a day, he is certainly entitled to ask for six annas instead of four. However, if the manager is pleased with the employee’s work for the day and grants him eight annas rather than four, then those extra four annas were not part of his actual wages, but rather because of the manager’s kindness and generosity. But why has this favour been extended to that particular employee and not upon anyone else? This is because the employee made an effort, and in turn, this effort attracted a further reward. While the effort alone was only worth four annas, the employee attained this additional reward due to the grace he had attracted because of that effort. Likewise, Islam also states that if salvation is to be granted, it will only be through the grace of God Almighty, but the factor attracting His grace will be a person’s efforts and actions. It is universally found in worldly matters that while X cannot be said to be a direct result of Y, X happens because of Y. For example, the government has prescribed a set salary for soldiers in exchange for the maximum effort one could possibly render in combat. However, those who fight with exceptional courage and bravery are decorated with all kinds of medals and awards. This is despite the fact that when they enlist, they pledge that, if required, they will not hesitate even if they have to lay down their lives. Do you know, then, why the government hands out these awards? Because it is appreciative of a person’s service. Thus, while the government does not reward the soldier directly in exchange for the effort, however it is still the effort, in essence, that brings about the reward. God Almighty grants salvation in the same way. One performs [good] deeds – there is no doubt that one has weaknesses – but when they make every possible effort, their struggle will draw the mercy and grace of God Almighty and they will attain salvation as a result. We see in worldly affairs that when an individual makes exceptional efforts in his work, they attract the grace of their superiors. Then why would someone who makes an effort to gain the pleasure of God Almighty not be able to attract His mercy?
Deeds Are Essential to Attain Salvation
Thus, it is our view that actions are necessary as it is through them that grace can be attained, and it is through God Almighty’s grace that one can attain salvation. So without good deeds, it is impossible to achieve salvation. For example, why does one person show compassion to another? It is because he sees the other person suffering and in trouble. In other words, one’s pain and suffering draws the other’s mercy. Therefore, there is a means for everything and the first way of gaining the grace of God Almighty is through one’s actions, which is why Islam has laid great stress upon carrying out good deeds. Nevertheless, salvation is ultimately dependent upon the grace of God Almighty.
It is Wrong to Rely Solely Upon One’s Deeds to Attain Salvation
The Holy Prophet (sa) was once asked if he would be granted salvation as a result of his deeds. He replied, “No. My salvation will also be granted through the grace of God Almighty.”  There is no one greater in rank than the Holy Prophet (sa). When even the Holy Prophet (sa) has stated that his salvation will only be attained through the grace of God Almighty, then how can anyone else rely solely on their own efforts? Of course, deeds are necessary to acquire grace and this is the theory which Islam presents. Contrast this to the theory presented by Christianity and decide which is true and which is false.
What Misled the Christians with Regards to the Concept of Deeds?
Christianity claims that man cannot attain salvation because he is guilty of sin and cannot fulfil the commandments of the divine law. They believe that neglecting even the most minor commandment is considered sin and there is no one who is able to observe all of the commandments. Hence, since it is impossible for any person to do this, it is necessary that he is punished for any sins committed on his part. Just as the government punishes someone for breaking a law, in the same way, anyone who disobeys any commandment of God Almighty will certainly be held to account. Thus, they claim that this proves that no one can attain salvation merely by following [religious commandments]. In reality, Christians are under the misconception that salvation can only be attained by following all the commandments of the divine law, but since they believe that no person has the capacity to follow all the commandments of the Law, they have concluded that God Almighty cannot grant them salvation. This, however, is not the concept found in Islam; rather, it teaches us that it does not concern God Almighty at all whether anyone worships Him or not because He is Self-Sufficient. There is no benefit to God when one worships Him or follows His Law, He does not suffer any loss nor is He harmed if one does not worship Him or breaks His Law. Even if the whole world spent day and night praising and venerating Him, it would not increase His glory in the least. Likewise, if the whole world indulged in filth and immorality, it would not affect His grandeur and majesty in the slightest. Hence, God Almighty did not send down the Law because it would benefit Him; rather He sent it because humankind stands in need of it. If someone acts according to it, then their actions will be to their own benefit. Hence, God’s purpose in sending down the Law was not simply for humankind to act upon every single one of its commandments; rather, it was so that through it a person could reach God. In other words, the purpose was that through one’s actions, a capacity would be developed which would allow a person’s soul to be so purified that they could establish a relationship with God Almighty.
It Is Wrong to Compare the Law of God with the Laws of the Government
[The above] is why we cannot compare the Law of God Almighty to the laws of the government. The purpose of a government is solely to enforce the law in order to maintain peace and order. If everyone committed theft, robbery or burglary, then the integrity of the government could not remain intact, but if the whole world were to completely forsake and contravene the Law of God, God would remain as He was and there would not be the slightest effect on His Glory and Purity. Hence, it is wrong to compare the laws of a government to the Law of God. The government needs the people to follow its rules and regulations. But God Almighty does not need for people to follow His Law. Indeed, God sent down the commandments of the Law out of His grace and mercy, so that if you follow them, you can establish a bond with God Almighty.
Divine Law is Analogous to a University Course
Divine law can be likened to the example of a university course. For example, in a university, a writer’s history book is taught. However, the aim of teaching that book is not to teach history as written by that particular author. Rather, it is to instil in them, to a certain extent, the ability to understand history. This is why the curricula are often changed and whatever is considered more beneficial and appropriate is taught. Then universities select some questions for the exams, but there is no student who is able to give complete and perfect answers to each and every question. Yet every year thousands of students pass their exams, despite the fact that each of them will have made some mistakes. The reason they pass is because the aim of a university is not to have students answer every question correctly, but rather to develop within them a particular ability and competence. Once they have developed this capacity they are ready to pass. God’s Law acts in the same way. God Almighty has issued certain commandments so that through them one develops the capacity for a relationship with Him. The injunction to observe prayer has not been given so that we simply go through the physical motions of prayer, but so that we develop purity. The command to observe the fast has not been given so that we stay hungry, but so that we attain righteousness. The same is true for all other commandments. When a person fulfils them to the point that they have developed this ability, they then “pass”. Just as in a university, where 40%, 60% or 80% is set as the minimum to pass, and those who reach this minimum do pass, similarly, one’s capacity with regards to divine commandments is judged in a similar manner.
Christians ask, is it not the case that the commandments which one fails to act on were sent by God? Yet they fail to ask, is it not the case that the questions that the students were unable to answer also assigned by the university? The truth is that just as a university assesses the students’ capacity and passes them despite their being unable to correctly answer all the questions, one can attain salvation by developing their capacity to a certain extent through following divine commandments, even if he cannot fulfil all of them. Of course, just as one who achieves higher grades will pass with greater distinction, the one who better develops this ability through fulfilling the commands of the Law will attain a higher rank.
If Salvation Has No Connection with the Divine Law, Then Why Do Christians Believe in Different Ranks?
Hence, this is the reason why there are different ranks in the sight of God Almighty. And Christians also accept these ranks which is why they make a distinction in the ranks of the prophets. They do not accord the status that Abraham (as) held to any other prophet. But if salvation has no correlation with one’s deeds, then there should be no difference in ranks. Islam has declared the different ranks to be in accordance with one’s actions.
Thus, it is stated in the Holy Qur’an:
وَٱلۡوَزۡنُ يَوۡمَئِذٍ ٱلۡحَقُّۚ فَمَن ثَقُلَتۡ مَوَٰزِينُهُۥ فَأُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ وَمَنۡ خَفَّتۡ مَوَٰزِينُهُۥ فَأُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ خَسِرُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا يَظۡلِمُونَ
“And the weighing on that day will be true. Then as for those whose scales are heavy, it is they who shall prosper. And as for those whose scales are light, it is they who shall have ruined their souls because of their being unjust to Our Signs.” 
In other words, on the Day of Judgement, everyone’s deeds will be weighed up. If a person’s deeds are enough for him to have developed a capacity to have a relationship with God Almighty, then their minor shortcomings will be forgiven. Just as a university allows students to pass, regardless of whether they are able to answer all the questions or not, similarly, it has been shown that if a person is unable to fully act upon all the divine commandments, despite trying their best, he can still attain salvation.
We Disagree That a Person Is Unable to Adhere to All Aspects of the Divine Law
We do not accept the view that one cannot act upon the Law in its entirety. Do the Christians not act upon the Indian Penal Code? Of course they do. Their roaming about freely is proof of this fact. If they did not follow the law, they would have been penalised. However, the Holy Qur’an is much shorter than [the penal code], so why should it be difficult to follow all of its commandments? Hence, it is wrong to say that all the commandments of the Law cannot be practiced. Christians mislead people by asking them, “Are you righteous?” In modesty and humility, the person will reply, “No, I am a sinner”. To this, the Christians then respond, “Look, he himself admits that he is a sinner; this proves that no one can be free of sin.” Do they not know that when Jesus (as) was asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus (as) replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good, but God alone.” 
This is in fact true, because there can be no other being aside from God Almighty Who is truly pure, and free from all defects and evil. But every person has some shortcomings – for example, not having the knowledge of the unseen and so on. Therefore, only God Almighty can be deemed as the source of all virtue. However, from this it should not be concluded that pious people have never existed in the past and can never exist in the future. In reality, a righteous person denies that they are good out of humility, because they fear being overcome by pride and arrogance, which can to lead to their ruin. This statement is made to shield one from evil, and not because they have committed a sin. In fact, there are thousands of prophets who claimed to be free from all kinds of sin and evil.
The second point is that the person who confesses their sins does so in comparison with God. The example of this is like a lamp, which also shines light but whose light is nothing when compared to the sun. The same principle is true for humankind. There have been many people in the past who acted in complete accordance with the Law and there still are today. This proves that a person can act upon the commandments of the Law. In reality, there is no divine commandment which cannot be acted upon. Is adultery such a thing that cannot be avoided? Are theft, burglary, lying, murder, backbiting etc. sins that are impossible to abstain from? Of course not! If one fears God Almighty in their heart, they can certainly avoid them. Christians only have one’s modesty and humility as proof that no one can escape sin, but this argument is flawed. Consider, if one person says to another, “You are completely free from sin”, then out of humility they will reply, “No, I am a sinful person”. But instead if they are asked, “Do you act in full accordance with the Indian Penal Code?” he would reply, “Of course I do,” and would never say that they violate it. Why is this case? This is because one is not embarrassed to admit this for he knows that the laws of the penal code are made by people, who are after all mortal and therefore one is not overawed in their response to them. However, with regards to the commandments of [religious] law, because one has God Almighty in mind, he therefore answers with humility and meekness.
It Is Wrong to Claim That People Can Inherit Sin
Now we turn to the matter of humankind inheriting sin and thus it being impossible for any person to be free from sin. This too is a false notion. If humankind inherited sin, then where did Adam (as) inherit it from? If he incurred it upon himself, then why can we not accept that the rest of mankind also incurs it themselves?
It Is Unjust to Punish Someone for an Inherited Sin
Hence, if humankind inherited sin, then one cannot be held accountable for it. For example, a person is of illegitimate birth. Would they be thrown into hell because their birth was a result of their mother’s adultery? Of course not! Because he is not at fault, his mother is. Therefore, nobody deserves punishment for what they have inherited from their parents, and if nobody deserves punishment for this, then everyone has the potential to attain salvation, because they are not at fault. They [Christians] claim that sin is inherited, therefore no one can attain salvation. However, if it is believed that sin is not inherited, but rather is brought upon each person himself [by his own actions], this doctrine of Christianity would thus prove to be completely unfounded.
Observation Negates That Inherited Sin Can Be Forgiven Through Atonement
When we say to Christians that man himself commits sins, they respond by saying that the sins committed by man are avoidable. But the sin that was inherited cannot be forgiven except through a belief in the atonement. Yet we see that this too is completely false. The sin which is supposed to have been inherited was committed by Adam (as), and the proposed punishment for this was,
“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ And to the man he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall
“You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…’”  Further reflecting upon this, if these punishments had been forgiven through the belief in atonement, then the concept of atonement would have been correct. Otherwise, there is no evidence to show that inherited sin is forgiven through a belief in atonement. As a consequence of this [original] sin, the snake was given the punishment of, “upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
Because it is impossible for Christians to explain how a serpent can believe in atonement, its punishment can never be averted. That leaves man and woman. The punishment given to woman was, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” If, as soon as they believed in atonement, women were relieved of these punishments, then we would accept this doctrine to be true. But to this day, no Christian woman has been able to escape these [labour] pains, so how can one accept the concept of atonement to be credible? Similarly, the punishment handed to man cannot be forgiven by a belief in atonement. Hence, if the punishments of this world cannot be removed through a belief in atonement, how can they be forgiven in the afterlife? According to Christianity, these are the signs that one has attained salvation, yet no Christian has been able to show this through their practice. And so atonement has been proven false, and when atonement has been proven false, its result, namely salvation, in turn has also been proven false.
If Jesus (as) Was Not Willing to Give Up His Life, Then How Can the Concept of Atonement Be Possible?
With regards to Jesus (as), it is mentioned in the Bible:
“Then he told them, ‘I am so deeply grieved that I feel I am about to die. Wait here and stay awake with me.’”
Going on a little farther, he fell on his face and prayed, “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” 
It is clear from this that Jesus (as) was forcibly put on the cross. The argument that remains to be addressed is the claim that while Jesus’ (as) soul was prepared to be crucified, it was his body that showed weakness. However, this means that the body should have survived – since it was not prepared to be crucified – yet it was the body that received the punishment. Thus, if Jesus (as) being put on the cross, willingly or unwillingly, is proof of the fact that he had atoned for everyone’s sins, then every people could claim that such-and-such person from among them who had been killed had also atoned for their sins. Therefore, this alone is not sufficient proof [of atonement]. And until there is evidence to back a claim, it cannot be accepted.
There Is a Difference Between Sacrifice and Atonement
When the Christians are unable to present any argument for their claim, they criticise us by saying that we also believe in the concept of sacrifice. If sins can be forgiven by sacrificing goats and other animals, then why can’t God Almighty forgive their sins through the sacrifice of Jesus (as)? However, when making this criticism, they overlook the difference between the sacrifice of an animal and the crucifixion of Jesus (as). When we sacrifice an animal, we do not claim that it bears the burden of our sins and is being sacrificed as punishment for those sins. On the contrary, we say that in this way, we are giving up some of our wealth in order to attain the pleasure of God Almighty, with the hope that He will forgive us our sins. Let me state this more clearly. Any sacrifice that we make is from our own wealth. Secondly, we give up part of [our wealth] for the sake of God Almighty. Thirdly, we place our trust in God Almighty that because of this action of ours – which we have carried out for His pleasure – He may forgive us our sins. However, none of this is true regarding the crucifixion of Jesus (as). 1) Jesus (as) is not the wealth of these people who have decided that their sins are forgiven because of his sacrifice. 2) They are not the ones who can offer him in sacrifice. The one who offers the sacrifice is the one who benefits from it, not anyone else. It was the Jews who sacrificed Jesus (as), and it is said that they will enter hell. Yet the Christians claim that as a result of this sacrifice, they will be the ones attaining salvation.
[According to the Christians] Jesus (as) is the son of God and thus, Christians have no right over him. The Jews were the ones who placed Jesus (as) on the cross, not the Christians. Hence, the Jews are the ones who should benefit from this sacrifice. But Christians assert the exact opposite: that by affirming belief in his death, they will attain salvation. Thus, the method of attaining salvation presented by the Christians is one that is wrong in every respect.
The Divine Law Is a Mercy, Not a Curse
Of course, the method taught by Islam is free from any doubt and uncertainty. I have mentioned that Islam has ordained the commandments of the divine law so that by following them, man could achieve contentment and avoid trouble. This is similar to the way in which the railway system operates. That is, whoever arrives at a station on time and purchases a ticket will subsequently be able to board the train and arrive at his destination. But on the other hand, it will be extremely foolish if someone cries and moans that it is too much trouble to board the train and reach their desired destination. It is the same principle in regards to the divine law. The divine law would only have been a curse if its commandments had caused man trouble or pain. However, there are no commandments in Islam which instead of benefiting him, cause him harm. Is theft such a laudable act for it not to have been forbidden? Or is adultery such a good deed that it shouldn’t have been prohibited? Or is lying such a good habit which one shouldn’t have been prevented from? Of course not! This is the case with all the commands. The divine law is a guidebook. If God Almighty had not told us of the things which He has forbidden us, then only after a long period of trial and error would man have come to the conclusion that these things are evil and that he shouldn’t do them. But God Almighty has blessed humankind by informing us of this Himself. Alas! The Christians have deemed this blessing of God to be a curse, whereas God Almighty has been Merciful to His servants by revealing the secrets to the commandments of the divine law. This is because one does not possess the capability to come to the correct conclusion about everything, and this is why God Almighty has taught [these commandments] Himself. If it had not been this way, then one would have had to undergo much pain and suffering, and would have done things that would have not only grieved, but also harmed him, and one would have failed to adopt certain practises which would have helped and benefited him.
Islam Grants Knowledge of God and Consequently Saves a Person from Sins and Grants them Success and Prosperity
Not only has Islam explained the things that harm or benefit us, it has also taught us the way to act on the good and avoid the bad. We see in the world that simply making a person aware of the dangers and harms of something is not always enough to prevent them from carrying it out. This is because until one experiences the consequences of that action, its harmful effects will remain concealed from them. In such circumstances, a person needs another power to hold them back from committing such acts. For example, if a young child puts his hand in fire, he will burn it. But if his parents were beside him, he would never put his hand in the fire. Why is this? It is because he is unaware of the damage that the fire can cause and knows little of it, but he sees his parents raising their hands to smack him, and as a result he stops himself from doing so. Hence, despite having knowledge of its consequences, one is less afraid of its harmful effects, which are hidden from a person, and is more afraid of the more obvious repercussions. For example, a thief steals, but he would never steal if he knew a policeman was nearby. Likewise, a religion which manifests God Almighty before mankind is the only one that can save them from sin. One who treads this path will continue to sin until he attains complete awareness of God and the more his knowledge of God increases, the less he will sin. And when he reaches the stage of perfect knowledge of God, he will completely abstain from sin. Islam is the only religion [that grants perfect knowledge of God]. Islam not only provides evidence of the existence of God, but, in every era, there are followers of Islam who manifest such signs which prove the existence of God. Every prophet has come and carried out the task of showing these signs which display evidence of a Living God. Since no one after Jesus (as) was able to do this amongst the Christians, and such people stopped appearing, the whole concept of atonement was born. However, the true manner in which God Almighty shows His existence is through the advent of prophets and granting salvation in this way.
People Attained Salvation Even Before the Idea of Atonement Was Conceived
Could salvation not be attained in the time of Moses (as), when there was no atonement? If anyone claims that Moses (as) attained salvation because of his belief in the atonement of Jesus (as), then I could also say that he attained salvation because of his belief in me. Christians have no evidence whatsoever to claim that Moses (as) believed in the atonement of Jesus (as). So their claim and my claim hold exactly the same weight. But Christians still accept that Abraham (as), Moses (as), Jacob (as), Isaac (as) and other prophets all attained salvation even though there was no concept of atonement in their time. Thus, it is clear that their salvation was granted through their adherence to the divine law and not through atonement. Furthermore, the purpose of the divine commandments they presented was to demonstrate the signs of a Living God.
Islam Has Taught the Same Means of Salvation Taught by All the Prophets
Even today, this is what Islam teaches. Firstly, it presents arguments for the existence of God. Then, when one accepts and begins acting upon the commandments of Islam, they are able to witness God. God’s support is with such a person, He grants them knowledge of the future and He saves them from sin. And once they are saved from sin, they will have attained salvation. In fact, not only does one attain salvation, they are also granted success. Islam teaches that this is how sins are forgiven.
By Forgiving Sins, God Cannot Be Called Unjust
Christians say that just as a magistrate who acquits a guilty person would be considered unjust, in the same way, if God Almighty forgives someone’s sins, He too would be considered unjust. However, there is a huge difference between a magistrate and God Almighty. When a guilty person appears before a magistrate, it is not the magistrate they would have wronged. Rather, they would have wronged the government, and that is why the magistrate cannot exonerate them. On the other hand, every single sin committed by a person is a violation against God Almighty and that is why He can forgive them. It is also incorrect to claim that the courts do not forgive criminals.There are many crimes committed where the wrongdoers are absolved for various reasons. Only very recently the court sentenced some convicts to be hanged, but the viceroy overturned the sentence to exile instead. Can anyone say that this did not happen? Certainly not. Another reason courts do not acquit the accused is because they cannot be sure if the person is truly repentant or if they are simply trying to escape punishment. If such a person were to be imminently released, they would begin committing crimes again. However, God Almighty is aware of even the smallest of matters. If someone repents for their sins before God Almighty, He knows full well whether or not they will abstain from sin in future. Therefore, no criticism can be raised against Him if He forgives someone. Hence, Islam teaches that God Almighty accepts true repentance.’
What Does It Mean to Have a Seal on One’s Hearts and Ears?
(When His Holiness (ra) had reached this point, the Christian  asked, ‘Does the Qur’an not mention that God placed a seal on their hearts and their ears? How, therefore, can these people attain salvation?’ In response to this, His Holiness (ra) stated:)
‘The Holy Qur’an does not say anywhere that people are born wicked. The placing of a seal on the hearts and ears is a different matter altogether. Consider, a person has the strength in their hands to hold something. Yet among the Hindus are some who [keep] their hands raised, which consequently leads to atrophy leaving their hands without any strength to hold anything. Whose fault is this? It is the fault of the person who raised their hand. But who caused the person’s hand to wither? It was God. However, if God had not willed their hand to atrophy, it would not have done so. But it is His Law that whoever is ungrateful for His blessings will have those blessings taken away from them. What you cited is in reference to the following people:
 إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ سَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَأَنذَرۡتَهُمۡ أَمۡ لَمۡ تُنذِرۡهُمۡ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ خَتَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمۡ وَعَلَىٰ سَمۡعِهِمۡ
In truth, those who disbelieved, it is equal to them whether you warn them or warn them not, they will not pay heed. Hence, as they will not pay heed, a seal has been set on their hearts and their ears.8 This is referring to the people who have been mentioned in the preceding verses that God Almighty has set a seal on their hearts and ears. God Almighty has granted every single human being a spiritual capacity, but if someone doesn’t use it and wastes it, it is his own fault. Hence, those who do not pay attention to the commands of God Almighty and do not act upon them even after they have heard them, eventually lose this ca- pacity. At this point it is equal to them whether you warn them or warn them not. So such people themselves go astray, and it is not that they did not have the capacity to follow the guidance.’
1. The Holy Qur’an, 2:6.
2. Muslim Sharh al-Nawawi, Sifatul Munafiqin Wa Ahkamihim, Bab Lan Yadkhula Ahadun al-Jannata bi Amalihi Bal bi Rahmatillah.
3. The Holy Qur’an, 7:9-10.
4. The Bible, Luke 18:18-19.
5. The Bible, Genesis 3:14-19.
6. The Bible, Matthew 26:38-39.
7. By the grace of Allah and as a result of this address, this person accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat.
8. ‘Those who have disbelieved — it being equal to them whether thou warn them or warn them not — they will not believe. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and their ears, and over their eyes is a covering’ – The Holy Qur’an, 2:7-8.