Wars and Battles

Islamic Perspective – Part II

Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 2001 25 Questioner: Why is there so much fighting in Islamic countries? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: It is the fate of every religion that with the passage of time its followers become responsible for creating a great deal of conflict and strife within that religion. You will yourself be able to understand that during the two world wars; for instance, it was the Christians who were fighting against Christians. Such conflict among the followers of a religion is the consequence of moving away from the original teachings of a religion. When the followers of a religion become distanced from the original teachings of their religion, they forget their original beliefs and true practices. Jesus for instance taught that if someone slaps you on one cheek, you should offer the other. This, however, is not what happens in the Christian world of today. If someone ‘slaps’ another person on one cheek, it is likely to be followed by a vengeance that is harsher and much more severe than the original act. This is a sign of decadence, a sign that the followers have become distanced from the original teaching. The same is the case in the Muslim world. Muslims, too, are going through a period of decadence, having ignored the original teachings of Islam; they have become distanced from the true essence of Islam. C o n s e q u e n t l y, there are numerous internal conflicts where one sect opposes another. The ongoing tension between the Shi’a and the Sunni sects is but one example. There are many other instances where Muslims are waging a war against other Muslims, and one sect is opposing another. This is a sign of the decline of the beliefs and practices of Muslims [as they have become distanced from the true Islamic Perspective – Part II Hadhrat Mirza TahirAhmad, the Fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, from time to time offers to people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs the opportunity of raising questions and issues that are of interest to them. Presented below are answers to questions that were raised in a session held in Mannheim, Germany, on 25 August 2001 and in a previous session held in London. (The first two questions were raised in the session held in Germany and the final question was raised in a previous session held in London). Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad Islamic Perspective – Part II Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 200126 values and principles of Islam]. Question: What are the differences between the Ahmadiyya Muslims and the other Muslim sects? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: There are many aspects that unite us in faith and in belief with the non- Ahmadi Muslims which are basically the fundamentals of Islam that we believe in one God, we believe in the Messengers, we believe in the Books, we believe in the hereafter and so on. These are the uniting beliefs of all the Muslims of the world. However, there are some who differentiate and create a difference between them and us as if we do not belong to the same faith. The first difference which the Christians can understand well is about the personality of Jesus Christ, (peace be upon him). We do not believe Jesus(as) to be a literal son of God. We believe that the term ‘son of God’ has been used in relation to him as a term of endearment and he was but a creation of God. The first d i fference, therefore, is about the entity or the nature of Jesus Christ(as). Although all Muslims generally believe that Jesus was not the son of God, however, they attribute to him some characteristics that are beyond the physical reality of a human being. They believe that he has gone up to the heavens alive and is still living there, in the fourth heaven, awaiting his physical return to this earth. Like Christians they believe he has gone up to the heaven alive but their beliefs become slightly different from the Christians in that the Muslims believe that he will return to earth but this time he will be a Muslim and will believe in the Imam Mahdi who will have appeared before him. Hence, the differences between the Muslims and the Christians are rather confused but still the Muslim concept of Jesus Christ is very different from that of the Christians. According to the Ahmadiyya point of view, however, many references are to be found in the Ahadith (i.e. the traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) regarding the nature of the second advent of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). According to these traditions Jesus(as) during his second advent is supposed to perform certain duties which are, in fact, a metaphoric representation but the non-Ahmadi Muslims generally believe these to be literal. For instance, it is said that during his second advent, Jesus would kill the swine. Non-Ahmadi Muslims believe that this is not a metaphorical statement made by the Holy Prophet (peach be upon him), but that it was a Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 2001 Islamic Perspective – Part II 27 literal statement that was going to be fulfilled literally. Their belief then takes on a form which implies that as soon as Jesus(as) descends back onto this earth, after two thousand years, instead of reforming the Muslims of the time, he would instead go into the wilderness to seek out and slaughter all the swine. He will continue in this search of swine from country to country. How long will all this take – Allah knows better – but, according to the beliefs of the Muslims, he will make a full circuit of the earth, seeking out all the swine and slaughtering them. All this is obviously so absurd that human nature revolts against such a concept. However, such is the mind of the Mullah that they take literally what the Holy Prophet ( s a ) meant to be metaphorical. By the killing of swine, the Holy Prophet(sa) only meant the nature of some people which resembles that of boars and swine. It was not actual swine that were to be ‘killed’ by Jesus during his second advent, it was his campaign against the swine-like nature of some people that was being referred to by the metaphor. The Holy Prophet(sa), further stated that Jesus ( a s ), during his second advent, would then turn to breaking the cross that had once broken his b o d y. [The non-Ahmadi Muslims here believe that] to carry out this task, Jesus would once again travel all around the world in search of all the crosses possessed by people – be they in buildings or worn by people around their necks – Jesus(as) was to literally break all the crosses. Just consider the enormity of such an endless task – no sooner would one cross be destroyed, the Christians could go on to make a new one! However, this is all absolutely absurd and the human mind rejects it as stupid but the mind of the Mullah accepts it as reality and that is the difference between the non- Ahmadis and the Ahmadi Muslims who believe that by the ‘breaking of the cross’ is meant only that Jesus(as) during his second advent will present such a strong argument against the ‘cross’ that he will break the ‘cross’ not literally but metaphorically. However, having performed this duty, regardless of the time it takes, Jesus(as) will, according to this belief, return to the Muslims but before he can turn to the issue of their reform, there is still one further matter to be attended to. According to some traditions of the Holy Prophet( s a ), it is stated that during his second advent Jesus ( a s ) would marry and have progeny from that marriage and the non-Ahmadi Muslims interpret this literally and believe that Jesus Christ(as), who by this time would be nearly two Islamic Perspective – Part II Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 200128 thousand years old, would marry and take a virgin girl to be his wife. [An interesting question arises here as to who would give his daughter in marriage to such an ancient man – perhaps some Mullah would!] and once he is married, his wife would bear his children. Once again, o b v i o u s l y, this is also a very absurd understanding of the prophecy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad( s a ) but the Mullahs, believe in such an interpretation and their story ends with Jesus( s a ) having a new life on earth, being married and having many children. This, however, is an absurd understanding of the saying of the Holy Prophet of Islam( s a ). This Hadith or tradition of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) needs to be understood in its metaphorical form. Here, the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) is referring to the ‘Jesus’ who in his second advent would metaphorically resemble the historical Jesus Christ. It is this person who would marry and have progeny as did Mirza Ghulam A h m a d( a s ) of Qadian who claimed to be the second advent of Jesus and he married and had progeny while the actual Jesus [of Nazareth] is not reported as having married and did not have any progeny. Questioner: How did the idea of the physical ascent of Jesus enter the Muslim ideology? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The idea of physical ascent of Jesus(as) infiltrated the Muslim world very gradually. It was about three hundred years after the Holy Prophet of I s l a m( s a ) that it penetrated Muslim thinking. As to why it infiltrated Muslim thinking is a very important question that needs to be carefully addressed. The Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) had prophesied that, some time in the future, Jesus Christ( a s ) would ‘descend’ although he did not mention from where he would descend. He never stated that this ‘descent’ would be from As-Sama, that is from the heavens, but he did state that Jesus(as) would ‘descend’. The Holy Qur’an states, regarding the Holy Prophet( s a ) himself that he ‘descended’. The Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) is the only Prophet who has been referred to in the Holy Qur’an as having ‘descended’. The Holy Prophet was, therefore, fully supported by Qur’anic usage of the term, to refer to the future ‘descent’of Jesus Christ(as). Hence, his statement to the effect that there would be no Prophet between him and the time of ‘ d e s c e n t ’ of ‘Jesus Christ’. It was because the word ‘Jesus Christ’was a Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 2001 Islamic Perspective – Part II 29 personal name indicating the historical Jesus who had lived many centuries ago, that gradually the Muslim scholars came to believe that if Jesus Christ is mentioned by name, it had to be the one who appeared (in Nazareth) among the followers of Moses(as), that it had to be the person of Jesus Christ. Consequently, this idea became so entrenched in their beliefs that gradually it became part of their doctrine. Moreover, in order to justify the notion of the ‘descent’of Jesus Christ(as), they also began to claim that Jesus Christ(as) must also have ascended physically [up to heaven], their argument being that he could not descend unless he had ascended in the first instance. They accepted his ascension up to heaven but in the process completely overlooked the fact that nowhere in the Holy Qur’an has it been mentioned that Jesus Christ(as) was raised bodily to heaven. The only reference that can be found in the Holy Qur’an that is similar to this is the following verse that states: On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself (Ch.4: v.159) That is to say God did the rafa’a of Jesus Christ to Himself. We, the Ahmadis, point out that the misinterpretation of this verse does not in any way help the cause of the Muslim scholars who believe in the physical ascent of Jesus(as) because the question then arises as to where was God when He raised Jesus ( a s ) t o Himself? Was not God present where Jesus(as) was physically? Does God not occupy the entire universe? Was God not present above Jesus(as), below Jesus(as), to the right of him and to the left of him? It is a fact that no body can move physically to God as God is not a physical body and bodies can only move in the direction of bodies. This is an inviolable law – it is as good today as it ever was. You can try the experiment yourself – that which is a body cannot move towards a spirit. A body can only move in the direct of a body. Hence, the interpretation given to the above verse by Muslim scholars, that God lifted Jesus(as) physically to Himself, would indicate that God was not present where Jesus(as) was prior to his ascent, that God was somewhere in the heavens, in mid-universe. This would have to be the result of their argument because if God had lifted Jesus(as) to Himself, God should have continued lifting him to the boundaries of the heavens. However, according to the Muslim clerics, Jesus ( a s ) was left somewhere in the middle of the heavens as if God occupies only that space! They do not understand because they are prejudiced. T h e y Islamic Perspective – Part II Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 200130 want to prove a point in which they already have an entrenched belief. According to the Holy Qur’an, the word ‘Nuzool‘ or ‘descent’ does not indicate a physical descent and the word ‘rafa’a’ does not indicate physical ascent. These are the two words that are causing confusion in the argument. These are, in fact, Arabic words and as such their usage should be understood in accordance with the Arabic lexicon. The word ‘rafa’a’ , or ascent in the direction of God, when used in the Holy Qur’an, does not imply a physical ascent towards God. Neither has it been used by the Holy Prophet( s a ) in his statements regarding this subject, with the implication of physical ascent. The greatest ‘rafa’a’ was the ascent of the Holy Prophet(sa) himself. However, it was not a physical ascent but a spiritual one. These are all aspects that need to be considered further in greater detail but unfortunately the shortage of time in today’s venue does not permit this. However, I hope the questioner will understand this issue from our point of view that these ideas infiltrated Muslim thought not in the first few centuries of Islam but later on. The process of infiltration was further helped by the Muslims who had converted from Christianity. We also believe that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the hypocrites, that is those people who became Muslims but in fact wanted to destroy Islamic values from within. T h i s combination of factors put the Muslim scholars onto a path that could never reach a resolution. Unfortunately, this is what we find even today. The fact is that Jesus Christ(as) never ascended physically, hence, he would never return by descending physically. To whose advantage – to the advantage of the clerics who rule the world of Islam as despots and demagogues. Unless Jesus(as) returns, their authority cannot be snatched away from them and because such a Jesus would never descend so they will continue to enjoy their despotic rule of the world of Islam as they are doing today. Although these issues are peripheral to this question, they need to be pointed out. Consider for yourself the fact that the ascent of J e s u s( a s ) has no meaning. Prior to J e s u s( a s ), God did not adopt the method of physical ascent to maintain the spiritual community. It has never been the case prior to Jesus(as) that a person was raised, ascending bodily, and then descending according to the wishes of the people of the time. How can such an event occur now when it has never occurred before? Review of Religions: Oct/Nov 2001 Islamic Perspective – Part II 31 However, [to explain this issue more fully] we can quote the example Elijah. The earlier scriptures state that Elijah would one day descend bodily. The scriptures are very clear about this. Elijah is assumed to have ascended bodily to heaven and it is clearly prophesied that Elijah would descend on the same fiery chariot upon which he ascended. All the Christians would support this prophecy and that it is clearly stated in the scriptures. However, when Jesus(as) claimed to be from God, the people around him asked him about Elijah. How could they believe in the so-called Christ until Elijah returned? Was their demand right or wrong? It was absolutely right. Elijah must descend before the advent of Christ and they, quite rightly, asked where he was. In response, Jesus(as) pointed to John the Baptist(as). He told the people that John the Baptist( a s ) was the awaited Elijah whether they wished to believe this or not. Hence, the issue has been resolved once and for all. If Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian (as) is right in his claim that he is the spiritual manifestation of Jesus then Jesus(as) is right [in his interpretation of earlier scriptures regarding Elijah]. If Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian(as) is wrong, then Jesus(as) is wrong. They are both responding to the same situation! I don’t know why the Muslim clerics seem unable to understand this? How can they reject Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam A h m a d S a h i b( a s ) and accept Jesus Christ( a s ) who had issued the verdict that people regarding whom there is a truthful prophecy regarding their ‘descent’ back to this world at some later period, would appear again but never in the form of a physical descent. The claim of such a prophecy is fulfilled in the form of another person who is born among the people of that time. The names of the parents of such a person are different from the names of the person whose manifestation he represents – even his own name is different from the earlier person, yet such a person fulfills the prophecy. It is true that the prophecy of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ), regarding the future Messiah, stated that it was ‘Jesus son of Mary’ who would ‘descend’, and this is no different from the earlier prophecy regarding the ‘descent’ of Elijah. Hence, it is this similarity between the two prophecies and their claims that prove that the Ahmadiyya interpretation is correct.