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Assessment of Belief – Part I

Review of Religions: December 200116 A person cannot, in reality, abandon his old ideas until he begins to think with a clear mind, listens with careful attention and gives due consideration to all aspects of the matter. Hence, when a person hears something new, he should not immediately be ready to oppose it. It should be considered his duty to carefully consider all aspects of the matter with due care, honesty and justice. Above all, he should ponder over it in solitude with the fear of God before him. What I wish to say at this time is no small or ordinary matter that can be given cursory attention. On the c o n t r a r y, it is a matter of great Presented below is a translation of the address that was delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, on 31 August 1901 at the occasion of the visit to Qadian of the Municipal Commissioner of Vizirabad, Janab Babu Ghulam Mustafa Sahib. For the purposes of translation, the original Urdu script of this address has been taken from Malfoozat, Vol. 4, pp.1–9. Compiled and translated by Amatul Hadi Ahmad Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) (The Promised Messiah and Mahdi) (Translator’s note: All references to the verses of the Holy Qur’an are given in Arabic as they occur in the text. The English translation, presented in italics, is taken from the translation of the Holy Qur’an by Hadhrat Maulvi Sher Ali S a h i b( r a ). Where the Pro m i s e d Messiah(as) has himself stated a certain interpretation of the Arabic verse, this is incorporated in the main body of the text). Assessment of Belief – Part I Review of Religions: December 2001 Assessment of Belief – Part I 17 magnitude. It is not something that has been concocted by me – it is something that has been stated by God. It is for this reason that he who dares to falsify it, does not falsify me but falsifies the signs of God and dares to falsify the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam. Falsification of me at the hands of my opponents is not of concern to me but I do feel sorry for the person who, through his own foolishness, invites the wrath of God. It is a well-known fact among all Muslims that it has been stated by the Holy Prophet(sa) that God will send a Reformer (among the Muslims) at the turn of every century – a Reformer who will rejuvenate the religion of Islam by facing whatever tribulation was confronting it at the time. T h i s system of appointing Reformers comes under the promise made by God as stated in the Holy Qur’an in the following verse: Verily, We Ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian. (Ch.15:v.10) In accordance with this promise and in accordance with the prophecy of the Holy Prophet(sa), revealed to him by God, it becomes necessary that at the head of this century of which nineteen years have already passed, there should be appointed [by God] a Reformer for rejuvenation of religion [of Islam] and for the reform of its followers. However, before the appointed Reformer [of the 14th century Hijri] made manifest his claim of having been appointed by God, it was incumbent upon the good and steadfast people that they should have searched for such a man of God with deep anguish and anxiety. They should have become keen and eager to hear the voice bearing the glad tiding that ‘I am the one who has come from God in accordance with His promise’. It is true that the eyes of the great people of this Umma [the followers of Islam] are upon the fourteenth century [Hijri] and the people who had been given indication through dreams, visions and revelation, all pointed to the fact that the Reformer appearing at the head of the Assessment of Belief – Part I Review of Religions: December 200118 fourteenth century will be an extraordinary person of great distinction who has been given the title of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi [by the Holy Prophet(sa)] in the Ahadith. However, I have to say this that when the time came and the one who was to come appeared, there were few indeed who heard his voice. In short, the fact that a Reformer appears at the head of every century is nothing new or strange. In short, in accordance with this promise it was necessary that in this century also there should be a Reformer and nineteen years have already passed since the beginning of this century. It is important, however, to also consider the second aspect of this matter as to whether in this age Islam is faced with grave d i fficulties and dangers of such magnitude that they are calling out for a Reformer. When we carefully consider this aspect it becomes evident that Islam does indeed suffer from two kinds of difficulties at the present time – one is internal and the other external. Internally, the situation of Islam has come to be such that there have crept in a number of religious innovations and polytheistic pra- ctices in place of beliefs and practices glorifying the Unity of God. Virtuous deeds are being replaced by social customs and traditions. Worship of graves and worship of P i r s [i.e. religious guides] has reached such extremes that it has become a permanent ‘religious law’ in itself. I am always surprised and amazed at the fact that such people accuse me of having claimed ‘Prophethood’, even though they have not understood what it is that I do say, but they do not look at their own situation and ponder over the fact that it is they who have claimed ‘Prophethood’by creating a new religious law for themselves. The question that should be answered is this: Were the chants and mantras that the Pirs teach their followers invented by me or is it the case that I follow the religious law and practice of the Holy Prophet(sa) [of Islam] and that to add anything to that, however minute, is considered by me to be an act of infidelity. There are many thousands of religious innovations that different sects have adopted for themselves. Righteousness and purity that werethe true desired aims and Review of Religions: December 2001 Assessment of Belief – Part I 19 objectives of Islam, for the establishment of which the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) faced all manner of dangers, difficulties and tribulations. The extent of these tribulations was such that no heart except ‘the heart of Prophethood’, could have the capacity to bear. Yet, that true purpose of Islam has today vanished. Go to the prisons and see – you will find that deeds such as adultery, use of alcohol, usurping of the rights of others and many other criminal acts are taking place to such a large extent that it is as if it has been assumed that there is no God. If one were to discuss the d i fferent levels of the nature of problems and shortcomings experi- enced by nations, it would become a large volume. If every wise and thinking person were to ponder over the state of the different people of this nation, he will reach the conclusion that righteousness, that was the ultimate desired objective of the Holy Qur’an, that was indeed the true source of noble acts and the true cause of good deeds, does not exist today. There was an urgent need for the state of people’s deeds and practices to be good, providing a clear distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims – instead, it has become extremely weak and bad. Externally, you will note that all the d i fferent religions that presently exist [in India] wish to destroy Islam. Christianity in particular is a staunch enemy of Islam. All the efforts of the Christian missionaries and priests are aimed at somehow to bringing about the destruction of the religion of Islam as far as possible and however possible. Furthermore, the Unity of God that was established by Islam and for which many lives have been sacrificed, should be made extinct and thereby make the world accept the deity of Christ and establish the belief in salvation through his blood which in turn leads to a life of free license. In this way the true purpose of creating a life of righteousness and purity that was the aim of Islam would be wiped out. The Christian priests, in trying to achieve success in these aims have adopted many different means and it is with regret that I have to state that they have converted to Christianity. Muslims numbering more than one-hundred thousand in number. Besides these there are many whom they have turned into neo-Christians and there is yet a much greater number of those who are of an atheistic inclination who maintain a lifestyle that is greatly under the influence of Assessment of Belief – Part I Review of Religions: December 200120 Christianity. There is yet another group of people that comprises young people who were born in Muslim households but were educated in colleges and who give precedence to philosophy and medicine over the word of God. To this group of young Muslims Islam was a religion appropriate for the Arab deserts. When I see and hear of such things, I feel a deep sense of sadness that today Islam is surrounded and entrapped by enormous difficulties and tribu- lations and the progeny of the Muslims is suffering such a fate that Islam is considered to be against their tastes! The third type of people are those who have not stepped outside the limits set by God as such – they have not turned the permissible into the prohibited – but they prefer the fashionable style of dress. T h e y have set one foot inside Christianity. It can now be clearly understood that internally there are the religious innovations and the polytheistic customs [that have seriously harmed Islam] and externally there are the dangers, especially those posed by the religion of the cross that has done great damage. Islam was the religion that even if one person turned away from the faith, an uproar was created. Against this is the situation that now there is no count of those who are turning a w a y. If a wise person were to ponder over all these matters together, and if he were to ponder over them for the sake of God and consider whether there is not now the need for some special manifestation of God or is it the case that even now time has not come for the fulfilment of God’s promise of safeguarding [this faith as expressed in this verse of the Holy Qur’an]: Verily, We Ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian. (Ch.15: v.10) If it is in fact the case that there is not the need [in Islam] for the special manifestation and assistance of God, then someone should tell us as to when that time will come. Consider carefully and think over this matter that on the one hand events are indicating that there have arisen such needs that there should Review of Religions: December 2001 Assessment of Belief – Part I 21 be a special manifestation of God to support His religion through true practices and heavenly assistance. On the other hand,the century has set a seal [on time that] in accordance with God’s promise that was made through the lips of the Holy Prophet(sa) that at the head of every century there would appear a Reformer for the rejuvenation of the religion of Islam. Hence, a Reformer should now appear. The century has advanced by nineteen years and yet, despite the needs of the time, [according to the beliefs of the opponents] no Reformer has appeared. If this line of reasoning is to be accepted then for the sake of God ponder over what remains of the religion of Islam? Does not the adoption of such a view go against the promise made by God [in the verse]. Most surely We will be its Guardian. (Ch.15: v.10) Does it not falsify the prophecy of the Holy Prophet(sa) regarding the appearance of a Reformer at the head of every century? Does it not lead to the conclusion that Islam is a religion that is faced by numerous tribulations yet God did not care for it? If someone wishes to put my claim [of being God’s appointed Reformer of this age] to one side, he may do so, but he should carefully consider the issues before replying. The fact is that by falsifying me, you forego Islam altogether. However, I say it IF IT IS IN FACT THE CASE THAT THERE IS NOT THE NEED [IN ISLAM] FOR THE SPECIAL MANIFESTATION AND ASSISTANCE OF GOD, THEN SOMEONE SHOULD TELL US AS TO WHEN THAT TIME WILL COME. CONSIDER CAREFULLY AND THINK OVER T H I S M AT T E R T H AT O N T H E O N E H A N D E V E N T S A R E INDICATING THAT THERE HAVE ARISEN SUCH NEEDS THAT THERE SHOULD BE A SPECIAL MANIFESTATION OF GOD TO SUPPORT HIS RELIGION THROUGH TRUE PRACTICES AND HEAVENLY ASSISTANCE. Assessment of Belief – Part I Review of Religions: December 200122 truly that in accordance with the promise made in the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty has safeguarded His religion and the prophecy of the Holy Prophet(sa) [with regard to this] has been fulfilled. It is so because it was exactly at the time of real need that God Almighty established this Movement [i.e. the A h m a d i y y a Movement] and that is also in accordance with the glad tidings given to the Holy Prophet(sa). This proves that the word of God and the word of His Prophet is true. It is a person of wicked inclination who falsifies them. My claim now becomes clear that I have been sent in this century for the reform of religion. I say it force- fully that I have been appointed by God and a period of over twenty- two years has passed since this appointment. For there to exist numerous signs supporting me for such a long period is in itself an accusation of God against the people [who oppose me] as well as being a complete argument [in my favour]. This is because the claim that has been made by me, that I have been sent for reform of the situation of conflict and strife, is a claim that is in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and the AHadith. Now, those who falsify me, do not falsify me but falsify God and His Prophet(sa). They do not, in fact, have any right to falsify until they can present some other Reformer instead of me because the time and period is indicating that a Reformer should appear because everywhere there is disturbance and dissension. T h e Holy Qur’an states that it is at such times of trouble that the appointed one appears for the safeguarding of Holy Qur’an and the AHadith states that at the head of every century a Reformer will appear. The needs of the time are there and the promises of safeguarding and reform are in addition to that, which leads to the situation that the denial of one who comes in accordance with needs and promises is possible only in the form of one of two arguments: either another Reformer should be presented or the promises [made by God] are falsified. (To be continued)

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