MAGAZINE: EDITION MARCH 2021
Religious Concepts

Faith, Certainty and Insight

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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), The Promised Messiah & 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 organised by topic. The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. Here, the Promised Messiah (as) explains the three grades of perfection of good fortune.

This is the second of a multi-part series.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. III, 59-66.

Remember, the verse:

[1] بَلَىٰ مَنۡ أَسۡلَمَ وَجۡهَهُۥ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحۡسِنٌ فَلَهُۥٓ أَجۡرُهُۥ عِندَ رَبِّهِۦ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ

indicates the three grades of the perfection of good fortune, namely fana [extinction of the self], baqa [revival] and liqa’ [communion]. ‘Complete submission to Allah’ means to surrender to Him all human faculties and organs, and whatever belongs to oneself, and to dedicate everything to the cause of God. This condition is described as fana [extinction of the self]. When a person, conforming with the purpose of this verse, submits the whole of his being and his faculties to God Almighty, and dedicates himself to His cause, and wholly refrains from all personal moves and rests, then undoubtedly he experiences a type of death. The Sufis designate such death as fana.

Then, the expression, ‘and acts righteously’, points to the stage of baqa [revival]. When a person, after complete surrender and abandonment of all personal desires and the cessation of all personal movement, begins to move in obedience to divine direction, such revival is called baqa. Then follows the verse:

[2] فَلَهُۥٓ أَجۡرُهُۥ عِندَ رَبِّهِۦ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ

This signifies affirmation, acceptance and reward and negates fear and grief. This condition refers to liqa’ [communion]. For, when a person achieves such a high grade in his comprehension of the divine, certainty, trust and love as to exclude all imagination and fancy and doubt concerning the reward of his sincerity and faith and loyalty, which becomes so certain and absolute and visible and perceptible as if he is already enjoying it, and his belief in the Being of God Almighty becomes so certain as if he is beholding Him, and he loses sight of all fear and grief, past or present, which disappear altogether and every spiritual bounty appears present before him, that condition which is free from all constraint and is secure against every doubt and apprehension and is free from all anxiety of waiting, is designated liqa’ [communion]. This grade of liqa’ is clearly indicated by the word muhsin, inasmuch as according to the interpretation of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ihsan is the condition in which a worshipper establishes such a relationship with God Almighty as if he is beholding Him. The grade of liqa’ is achieved perfectly when divine reflection completely covers the humanity of the seeker as iron is covered by the fire in which it is heated, so much so, that the physical eye perceives nothing but the fire. This is the stage at which some seekers have stumbled and have conceived the symbolic relationship as the physical union of the two beings.

Some Sufis have designated the saints who have arrived at the stage of liqa’ or who have partaken of it to a degree, as children of God. On account of their having been completely covered by certain divine attributes, just as a child has some resemblance to his father in respect of his form and features, in the same way, they too, in consequence of having adorned themselves reflectively with certain divine attributes, acquire some resemblance to the beautiful attributes of God Almighty. Such titles are not commonly used in the idiom of the Shariah, but those invested with the quality of spiritual comprehension have derived them from the Holy Qur’an; as Allah the Exalted has said:

فَٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ كَذِكۡرِكُمۡ ءَابَآءَكُمۡ أَوۡ أَشَدَّ ذِكۡرًاۗ

That is: ‘Remember Allah with the eagerness with which you remember your fathers.’ [3]

It is obvious that if the metaphorical use of these expressions had been forbidden by shariah, God Almighty would have safeguarded His word against such use of the expressions as might have allowed others to use them. At this stage of liqa’ [communion], a person sometimes does bear some characteristics which appear to be beyond human capacity and have the colour of divine power. For instance, our lord and master, the Chief of the Prophets, Hazrat Khatam al-Anbiya’ (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) threw a handful of gravel at the enemy during the battle of Badr, not with any prayer but only with his spiritual power, and that handful of gravel exhibited divine power and affected the hostile forces in such an extraordinary manner that not a single one was left whose eyes were not affected by it…

In the same way, another miracle of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which relates to the splitting of the moon, was manifested by divine power. It was not the consequence of any prayer. It was manifested by the mere pointing of his finger, which was charged with divine power. There are many other miracles of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which were not accompanied by any prayer but were manifested through his person as the symbol of divine power…

My purpose in stating all this is that when a person arrives at the grade of liqa’, he manifests divine powers on the occasions of the upsurge of this grade. Anyone who spends some time in the intimate company of such a person witnesses some of these manifestations, inasmuch as during the upsurge of this condition, such a one reflectively manifests divine attributes, so much so that his mercy becomes the mercy of God, and his wrath becomes the wrath of God. Very often when he says, even without a prayer, that such and such should happen, it happens. If he looks upon anyone with anger such a person is afflicted with some calamity, and if he looks upon someone with compassion, that person becomes the object of divine mercy. Just as the divine command: ‘Be’, always produces the desired result, in the same way, when such a person says, ‘Be’, in the state of the upsurge of liqa’, it does not fail to produce the desired result. The reason for the manifestation of these extraordinary happenings is that such a person, on account of his strong relationship with God, takes on reflectively a divine complexion and passes completely into the control of divine manifestations, and the True Beloved takes him into His embrace and removes all intervening obstructions on account of his closeness to Him; and as He Himself is Blessed, He blesses that person’s words, deeds, movement, rest, food, dress, house, time, and all his belongings. In such a state everything that comes in contact with him is blessed even without prayer. Blessings that he observes, and whose fragrance he perceives, descend upon his house and upon the doors of his house. When he travels, God Almighty keeps him company with all His blessings, and when he comes home he brings with him an ocean of light. In short, he becomes a wonderful person whose true condition is known only to God Almighty.

In this context, it should be clearly understood that once the condition of:

[4] أَسۡلَمَ وَجۡهَهُۥ

is fully established, which the Sufis designate as fana, and which the Holy Qur’an describes as steadfastness, the grade of baqa and liqa’ follow immediately upon it. In other words, when a person empties himself completely of his condition as a creature and altogether discards desire and design and arrives at the stage of perfect surrender, he immediately experiences the stage of baqa. But until the condition of fana is fully established, and leaning wholly towards God Almighty becomes a natural characteristic, the stage of baqa cannot be reached. That stage is reached only when obedience ceases to be an effort, and the green and waving branches of obedience sprout forth from the heart like a natural growth and all that is considered one’s own truly becomes God’s, and just as other people delight in indulgence, such a person’s whole delight centres on worship and remembrance of God, and the pleasures of God take the place of his personal desires.

When this condition of baqa is fully established and saturates the being of the seeker, and becomes his permanent characteristic, and he witnesses a light descending from heaven which removes all obstructions, and a fine, sweet and delicious feeling of love which had not been perceived before is generated in the heart, and a coolness and a contentment and a peace and a delight are experienced like the experience of suddenly meeting and embracing a long separated friend, and the bright, delicious, blessed, comforting, eloquent, fragrant and gladdening words of God begin to descend at all times, whether sitting, standing, asleep or awake, like a cool, pleasant and fragrant breeze which comes across a garden of flowers and begins to blow in the morning and brings with it a delight and intoxication, and the seeker is so drawn towards God Almighty that he finds it impossible to live without a lover-like contemplation of Him, and not only is he ready to sacrifice his wealth, life, honour, children and all he has, but has already sacrificed all of it in his heart, and he feels such a strong pull the nature of which he is not able to determine; and he perceives a brilliant light illumining his inner self like the dawning of the day; and he observes streams of devotion, love and loyalty flowing mightily through himself and feels every moment as if God Almighty has descended upon his heart; when this condition is experienced in all its aspects it is then that a seeker should be happy and should express his gratitude to the True Beloved, for that is the ultimate stage which is called liqa’.

At this stage, the seeker feels as if he has been washed in many holy waters, and has been created anew by casting out every trace of his ego, and the throne of the Lord of the worlds has been set inside him, and that God’s shining countenance with all its winning beauty has appeared before him.

It should, however, be remembered that the last two stages, baqa and liqa’, are not achieved through one’s own effort but are divine bounties. Effort is confined to the stage of fana and the journey of all righteous seekers terminates at that stage, and the circle of human excellences is thus completed. When the pure minded seeker traverses the stage of fana as it should be traversed, it is divine practice that the breeze of divine bounty immediately conveys him to the stage of baqa and liqa’.

It is thus obvious that all the travails and labours of this journey are up to the stage of fana, and thereafter no scope is left for human effort, labour and striving. A bright flame of divine love thereafter falls upon the pure love of the seeker after God, the Noble and Exalted. Through the union of the two, a bright and perfect reflection of the Holy Spirit is generated in the human heart. At the stage of liqa’ the light of the Holy Spirit is very bright and the extraordinary manifestations to which we have already referred proceed from the seeker because the light of the Holy Spirit always attends upon him and dwells within him. He is never separated from this light, nor does it ever depart from him. It issues from him with every breath, falls with his glance upon everything and manifests its illumination in his words. This light is called the Holy Spirit. But this is not the real Holy Spirit. The real Holy Spirit is in heaven. This Holy Spirit is a reflection which dwells permanently in the bosom, heart and brain of the holy person and does not leave him even for a moment.

—A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 5, pp. 63-72


ENDNOTES

[1] ‘Nay, whoever submits himself completely to Allah, and is the doer of good, shall have his reward with his Lord. No fear shall come upon such, neither shall they grieve.’ – The Holy Qu’ran, 2:113.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Holy Qu’ran, 2:201.

[4] ‘He who submits himself completely to Allah.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 2:113.