The Origins of the Universe

The Relationship Between Man and God

10 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS FEBRUARY 1985 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND GOD by Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad Amir and Missionary in Charge, Ahmadiyya Community, U.S.A. The fundamental reason for discussing the relationship between man and God is to find out the purpose for man’s creation by God. In His Holy Word, God Almighty has appointed for man the pur- pose of worshipping Him (51:57) and complete devotion to him. Man is not in a position to appoint a purpose for himself. He did not come in this world of his own accord, nor will he depart from here at his own will. The religion which provides true understanding of God and prescribes his true worship is Islam (3:20). Islam is inherent in the nature of man and man has been created in accord with Islam. This is the everlasting faith (30:30-31). The Promised Messiah said that the means of attaining man’s pur- pose was to recognize God Almighty. The second means is to be in- formed of the perfect beauty of Almighty God, for the heart is naturally drawn to beauty, the observation of which generates love in the heart. The third means of approach to God is knowledge of His beneficence. This is the second incentive to love. The fourth means is supplication (41:61). The fifth means is striving in His Cause (9:41). The sixth means is steadfastness (41:31-32). The seventh means is to keep company with the righteous (9:119). The eighth means of achieving this relationship are visions and dreams. The question is, do we have an example of the ideal attainment of this relationship—an example that relates to all the varied conditions of human life and though that example is of a human, yet it is ex- tremely close to God Almighty. The relationship between two entitites can be thought of in degrees of nearness. The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, said that there are three types of nearness to the Divine, illustrated by three resemblances pondering on which the reality of the three grades of nearness can be appreciated. The first type of nearness is illustrated by its resemblance to the relationship between servant and master, as God has said: Those who believe, love Allah most (2:166). This means that believers, in FEBRUARY1985 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN & GOD 11 other words, obedient servants, love Allah above everything else. As a sincere and faithful servant, by witnessing the continuous benefi- cience and many bounties and the personal qualities of his master, rises so high in his love and sincerity that he acquires a similar temperament to and follows the same way as that of his master. He fulfills the master’s wishes as the master himself desires. As he pro- gresses in his sincerity and fidelity, he arrives at a stage where being wholly lost to his own self he acquires the color of his Master. The second type of relationship of nearness to God resembles the relationship between father and son as God Almighty has said: Then remember Allah as you were wont to remember your fathers, even with greater rememberance (2:201). This means that we should remember the Glorious with such eagerness and love as that with which we remember our fathers. It should be remembered that a master begins to resemble a father when love for him becomes ex- tremely intense and, purified of all selfishness, settles in the heart as if it were a part of it As a son on thinking of his father feels spiritual relationship with him, in the same way a believer feels this relationship; and as a son displays the features of his father and resembles him in his ways and manners, the same is the case with the believer. The third type of nearness resembles a person’s own reflection. As a person views his own reflection in a mirror and beholds the whole of his form together with all his features reflected in the mirror; in the same way in this type of nearness all Divine attributes become reflected clearly in his being and this reflection is more complete and perfect than the resemblances which have been mentioned before. It is obvious that a person beholding his own reflection in a mirror finds it in exact accord with himself. That degree of resemblance cannot be acquired by anyone else through any device, nor can it be found in a son. This degree of nearness is achieved by one who is placed so equally between the chords of Divinity and servitude, is so related to both as if he has become the very same and by removing his own self from between, serves like a mirror. That mirror being faced in two directions obtains the impress of the Divine by reflec- tion from one direction and from the other direction it conveys all grace according to the capacity of different temperaments to those who are adjusted to it. This is indicated in the Word of God regard- ing the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be on him: He approached close to God and then leaned towards mankind 12 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS FEBRUARY 1985 and it became, as it were a case of one chord between two bows (53:9-10). The Promised Messiah said: This means that in ascending high, he arrived at the extreme point of nearness to God and between him and God there was left no veil. As he was complete and perfect in his ascent, his place becomes that of a chord between two bows. This chord is suspended between the Benefactor and the beneficiary and resembles the center of a circle. This point is the heart of the perfect man and is equally related to the bows of Divinity and servitude. The name of the central point is the reality of Muhammad. As all life receives grace from the life of God Almighty, and all determination is the result of His determination, in the same way the point of Muhammad, by the command of God, affects in degrees according to their various capacities and temperaments… The reality of Muhammad is a complete and perfect manifestation of all Divine at- tributes. For this reason, the Holy Prophet has been likened in heavenly Books to a reflection of God, the Glorious, Who is in place of father to the son. We mortals need a perfect example to emulate to be near to God. The Holy Quran says: “He approached close to God and then lean- ed towards mankind and it became, as it were, a case of one chord between two bows or closer still.” (53:9-10). While all Divine at- tributes were reflected in his person on the one hand,’he was ever in- clined towards the love and welfare of mankind, and even more towards their training. This is an ideal example of the relationship between God and man. From the beginning of Adam right down to Jesus, all Prophets and Messengers had acknowledged the greatness and majesty of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, because he was to set the best model of relationship between the Creator and the created. Moses, peace be on him, by announcing that God came from Sinai and arose from Seir and shone forth from Mount Paran, indicated clearly that the manifestation of Divine Majesty reached its climax at Paran. The Torah tells us that Paran is a mountain of Mecca where Ismail, the ancestor of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, made his dwelling. No other Prophet has been raised in Mecca. The second question is how to address God in the relationship bet- ween God and man. The Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, makes a distinction between the words Rabb and father. We do not look upon God as Father but rather as Rabb. This word occurs in the Holy Quran in FEBRUARY 1985 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN & GOD 13 the very first verse of the first chapter: Every type of praise belongs to Allah who is the Rabb of the Universe. Lisanul Arab and Tajul Urus, which are the two most reliable Arabic lexicons, have set forth that the word Rabb comprises seven connotations: Master (master or Owner), Sayyad (master or Chief), Mudabbir (Regulator), Murabbi (One who nurtures), Qayyum (All Sustaining), Mun’im (Bestower), and Mutammim (Perfector). Rabb comprises all the diverse connota- tions set out above. In their true meaning these connotations cannot be used for any other being beside God Almighty. A relationship between Rabb and His worshippers is different from that of a Father and his offspring. On the other hand a human relationship based upon the word Father does not convey the same meaning. All that the lexicon discloses about the word ‘father’ is that when a person is in fact born of another, he has no further connection with his birth. According to all the lexicons no further inferences can be drawn from the rela- tionship using the word ‘father’ than that after dropping the seed the father should take any further action for the child to be born. This word is applied to the animal world as well. The Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, pointed out that the religion governing the relationship between the God and man was established by God almighty who is the Rabb. Allah did not call back the Holy Prophet of Islam anything short of the time but when his task had been fully completed and this is clearly set forth in the Holy Quran: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, and chosen for you Islam as you faith” (5:4); meaning that by the revela- tion of the Quran and by the reform of the people your faith had been perfected and Divine favor has been completed for you and God has chosen Islam as the religion. This is a sign of the Divine origin of the relationship between God and man in Islam. The Pro- mised Messiah goes on to say that “Indeed before the Holy Prophet, no true Prophet had shown this high example of perfection that on the one side the Book of God should be completed in peace and on the other side the training of the people should be perfected and the disbelieving people should be defeated in every direction and Islam should be victorious on every side.” The relationship between God and man as demonstrated in the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, spelled out in the code of teaching for the Muslims had been perfected and all that was ordained by the God of 14 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS FEBRUARY 1985 mankind for the progress of that relationship had been revealed to the Holy Prophet. Further, the Holy Quran announced that the sup- port of God Almighty had also been perfected and that people in large numbers had accepted Islam. The relationship between the Creator and man was not only revealed in its entirety and its revealed text preserved for the rest of mankind without the possibility of a change of a dot or a tittle just as the Almighty had promised in the Quran: Nahnu nazzalnaz zikra and inna lahu la hafazoon, we find that not just a handful of followers but that nations in large numbers had accepted Islam. But more than that, through the personal example of a life-time, God had filled the hearts of the Muslims with faith and righteousness and made them averse to disobedience and vice. The Promised Messiah says that there Is not one instance of the completion of the teaching through demonstrations of the relation- ship between the mortals and Divine in any other people. In his Farewell Pilgrimage, the Holy Prophet delivered a long address and called upon the people to bear witness that he had conveyed to them all the commandments which he had been commissioned to an- nounce to them. Every one confirmed in a loud voice that he con- veyed everything to them. The Holy Prophet then pointed to the heaven and said: Bear witness, O Allah. He admonished them at lengthen as he might not be with them the following year. He then returned to Medinah and died the following year. Send down on him Thy blessings and peace, O Allah. Now we come to the most important issue: How can the relation- ship between God and man be established? The founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, peace be upon him, the Promised Messiah, who was sent by God in the Second Coming of Prophet Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, says: ‘ ‘The means which the Holy Quran has taught us of establishing a spiritual and perfect relationship with God is Islam and the prayer set out in Sura Fateha: “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, the Merciful. All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. The Glorious, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgement. Thee alone do we worship and thee alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the right path. FEBRUARY 1985 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN & GOD 15 The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, those who have not incurred Thy displeasure, and those who have not gone stray.” The Promised Messiah says, this means that one must first devote one’s life to the cause of God, and then should be occupied with the prayer that the Muslims have been taught in Sura Fateha. This is the essence of Islam. This is the only means of reaching God and drink- ing the water of true salvation. This is the only means which the law of nature has appointed for man’s higher progress and his meeting with God. Only those find God who enter into the spiritual fire which is the essence of Islam and occupy themselves with the sup- plication taught in the Sura Fateha. Islam is the burning fire which by burning our lower life and by burning our false deities offers the sacrifice of our lives and properties and honor before our Holy God. We drink the water of a new life from this spring and all our spiritual faculties establish a relationship with God. Like lightening, a fire merges from inside us and another fire descends upon us from above and by their meeting, all our passions and the love of anything beside God are consumed and we become dead to our previous life. This condition is called Islam in the Holy Quran. Through Islam our pas- sions suffer a death. An obvious question is raised here: what is the most common way and yet the most valuable way of developing a relationship between God and man in our daily lives in Islam’J The Promised Messiah says: “The Holy Quran mentions two gardens: one of these is the garden that is bestowed in this life and that is the garden of the salat, the Islamic form of prayer that is offered five times during the day. The prayer or salat is not a burdensome tax but is a per- manent relationship between man’s condition of servitude and God’s Providence. God Almighty has prescribed the salat for the establishment and has charged it with delight which serves to main- tain the relationship. For instance, if a married couple do not find delight in their relationship, the relationship is likely to be disrupted. In the same way if there is no delight in salat the rela- tionship between the servant and the Master is disrupted. The rela- tionship between man’s servitude and God’s Providence is very deep and is full of delight. Till that delight is felt, man continues in a state which resembles animals.” The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, who fulfilled the Second Coming of Jesus, says that the salat is an instrument for delivery from sin. It is a quality of the salat that it makes a person secure 16 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS FEBRUARY 1985 ‘ against sin and vice. The Grace of God Almighty is received from salat. Salat is the submission of one’s humility and one’s weakness to God and to seek the fulfilment of one’s needs from Him. In the course of the salat the worshipper stands before God with folded arms signifying his consciousness of the glory of God and his eagerness to carry out His commandments. Sometimes like a beggar he praises Him from Whom he begs and proclaiming His greatness and His glory seeks to move His mercy and supplicates Him. A faith that has nothing comparable to the salat is altogether empty. Salat means the love and fear of God and the preoccupation of the heart with His rememberance. That is faith. For him who desires to meet God and is anxious to reach Him, the salat is a conveyance by climb- ing into which he can arrive at his goal speedily. True salat is when a sincere and holy relationship is established with God and the worshipper becomes so devoted to the Pleasure of God Almighty and His obedience that he is ready to lay down his life in the Cause of God. So long as this condition is not established and the worshipper does not become a model of sincerity and faithfulness, his prayers and other actions are without effect, In conclusion, as the Promised Messiah wrote: “O ye who dwell upon the earth, and all human souls that are in the east or in the west, I announce to you emphatically that the true reality in the earth is Islam alone, and the true God is the God Who is described in the Quran, and the Prophet who has everlasting spiritual life and who is seated on the throne of glory and holiness, is Muhammad the chosen one, peace be on him. The proof of his spiritual life and holy majesty is that by following him and living in him we become recipients of the Holy Spirit and are favored with the bounty of converse with God and witness heaven- ly signs.” The Promised Messiah also said: The light of high degree that was bestowed on perfect man was not in the angels, was not in the stars, was not in the moon, was not in the sun, was not in the oceans and the rivers, was not in the rubies or emeralds or sapphires or pearls; in short it was not in any earthly or heavenly object. It was in the perfect man whose highest and loftiest and most perfect example was our lord and master, the Chief of the Prophets, Muhammad, the chosen one, peace be on him. That light was bestowed on this man and according to their ranks, upon all those who bore the same color to some degree…. This dignity was found in its highest and most perfect form in our master and our guide, the immaculate Prophet, the righteous one, Muhammad, the chosen one, peace be on him.”