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. In this series, the Promised Messiah (as) explains how to establish a bond with God Almighty and how to see Him in this very world.
This is the second of a multi-part series.
Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. II, 262-272.
Do not expect that any other design can purify the human ego. As darkness can be dispelled only by light, in the same way, the remedy for the darkness of sin are the divine reflections in word and action which in a miraculous way descend upon a good heart from God with fierce rays, and show him that God exists and remove the foulness of all doubts and bring satisfaction and contentment. By the strong attraction of His heavenly power, that good person is raised to heaven. All other remedies that are put forward are fakes and useless. But for complete purification, understanding alone is not enough. It must be accompanied by earnest prayers. God Almighty is Self-Sufficient, and to attract His grace there is great need of prayers that are accompanied by weeping, crying, sincerity, piety, and tribulation of the heart. It is a common observation that though a suckling infant fully recognises its mother and loves her and the mother also loves it, yet its crying has close relationship with the mother’s milk. On the one side the infant cries bitterly out of hunger and on the other side the mother is so affected by its crying and weeping that milk is generated in her breasts. In the same way, every seeker should prove his spiritual hunger and thirst by his weeping and crying so that the spiritual milk might be generated that would satisfy him.
For spiritual purification understanding alone is not enough. Heart-rending weeping and crying like little infants is also necessary. Do not give up hope and do not be discouraged by the thought that you are involved in many sins and that your supplications cannot have much effect. Man has been created for the love of God and even if he is aroused by the fire of sin, he possesses the faculty of repentance which can put out that fire. You will have observed that however much water is heated, yet when it is poured over fire it puts the fire out.
Ever since God Almighty has created man, his heart has always been cleansed through this means. Without the Living God manifesting His existence and power and Godhead through word and action, and displaying His shining majesty, man cannot be purified from sin by any other means.
—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part V, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 21, pp. 33-34
How to Establish Relationship With God
The means, which the Holy Qur’an has taught us of establishing a spiritual and perfect relationship with God, is Islam and the prayer set out in the Surah al-Fatihah. 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 Surah al-Fatihah. This is the essence of Islam. This is the only means of reaching God and drinking of 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 supplication taught in the Surah al-Fatihah. Islam is the burning fire which, by consuming our lower life and by burning up our false deities, offers the sacrifice of our lives and properties and honour 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 lightning, a fire emerges from inside us and another fire descends upon us from above and by their meeting all our passions and the love of anything besides God are consumed and we become dead to our previous life. This condition is called Islam by the Holy Qur’an. Through Islam our passions suffer a death and through prayer we are revived again. For this second life revelation is necessary. Arrival at this stage is called meeting with God, that is to say, beholding God. Arriving at this stage a person establishes a relationship with God as if he sees Him with his eyes. He is bestowed strength and all his senses and inner faculties are illumined and the attraction of a pure life is generated with great force. On arriving at this stage, God becomes the eye of a person with which he sees and becomes his tongue with which he speaks, and becomes his hand with which he grips, and becomes his ear with which he hears, and becomes his feet with which he walks. This is the stage to which Allah the Exalted refers by saying:
يَدُ ٱللَّهِ فَوۡقَ أَيۡدِيهِمۡۚ
‘The hand of God is above their hands;’
and also as He says:
مَا رَمَيۡتَ إِذۡ رَمَيۡتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ رَمَىٰ
‘It was not thou who didst throw but it was God Who threw.’
At this stage complete unification ensues with God Almighty and His holy will saturates the soul, and moral faculties that were weak become firm like mountains, and reason and intellect acquire a high degree of delicacy. This is the meaning of the verse:
وَأَيَّدَهُم بِرُوحٖ مِّنۡهُۖ
‘He strengthened them with a spirit from Himself.’ At this stage the streams of love and devotion well up in such a manner that to die for Almighty and to endure thousands of hardships for Him and to be disgraced for His sake, becomes as easy as breaking a straw. A person is pulled towards God Almighty and does not know who is pulling him. A hidden hand upholds him, and to do God’s will becomes the purpose of his life. At this stage God Almighty appears very near as He has said:
نَحۡنُ أَقۡرَبُ إِلَيۡهِ مِنۡ حَبۡلِ ٱلۡوَرِيدِ
‘We are closer to him than his jugular vein.’
In that condition a person is like ripe fruit which falls of itself from the tree. In the same way, all the low relationships of such a person come to an end and his relationship with God becomes so strong that he draws away from creation and is honoured with the converse of God Almighty. For achieving this rank, the doors are still open as they were open before, and God’s grace bestows this bounty upon the seekers today as He bestowed it before. But this path is not found through mere words and this door is not opened by useless talk and boasts. There are many who desire but there are few who find. The reason is that this rank depends upon true endeavour and true sacrifice. You can go on talking till Judgement Day without avail. To step out in sincerity on to the fire of which people are afraid is the first condition of this path. If there is not practical eagerness, it is vain to talk of it. In this connection God Almighty says:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌۖ
أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِۖ
فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلۡيُؤۡمِنُواْ بِي
‘And when My servants inquire from thee concerning Me, tell them I am close. I respond to the call of the supplicant when he calls Me. So they should seek to attain my nearness through prayers and be guided.’ 
—Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 10, pp. 394-396
The philosophy of salvation is that those who establish a holy and perfect relationship with God become the manifestations of that light which has no decline, and falling into the fire of His love depart from their existence like a piece of iron, which when it is heated in the fire, assumes the character of fire though it is not fire and is still a piece of iron. As through the manifestations of God a surprising change takes place in His lovers, in the same way, God also makes a change for their sake. It is true that God is unchangeable and is free from change, but for such of His servants He manifests such wonderful works as if He is a new God and is not the same God Who is the God of the common people. To the degree to which righteous servants of God move towards Him through their pure deeds and their sincerity and fidelity, so much so that they become dead to their previous existence, God also moves towards them with benevolence and help so much so that He displays His help and support and jealousy for them in an extraordinary way.
It is impossible and contrary to God’s benevolence that He should condemn to hell a servant of His who is devoted to Him in his love with his whole heart and soul and with full sincerity in a manner which is the characteristic of true love. Such a servant does not consider anyone equal to Him and regards everyone in contrast with Him as naught and is ready to lay down his life in His cause. How can such a person be the subject of torment? Indeed the truth is that perfect love is salvation. Can you deliberately cast into the fire a child of yours whom you love? Then how will God, Who is altogether love, cast into the fire those who love Him and every particle of whom is sunk in His love? No sacrifice is better than the sacrifice that a person should so love the True Beloved that he should realise that no one else beside Him is dear to him. Not only this, but he should give up the love of his own self and should adopt a bitter life for His sake. When he arrives at this stage, then undoubtedly he attains salvation. At this stage of love, he has no need of passing through the chain of transmigration, nor has he the need to have anyone crucified for his sake. At this stage of love a person does not merely imagine that he has attained salvation, but his love teaches that the love of God is with him and the love of God causes contentment and peace to descend upon his heart. God begins to treat him as He has always treated those who are dear to Him and are accepted of Him. He accepts most of his prayers and teaches him fine insights, and informs him of many hidden things, and brings about changes in the world according to his desire. He makes him known and accepted in the world with honour, and disgraces the person who persists in enmity towards him and strives to disgrace him. He supports him in an extraordinary manner and puts his love in the hearts of millions of people and manifests wonderful things through him. The hearts of people are drawn to him through divine revelation and they hasten to serve him with diverse kinds of gifts and with money and other articles. God speaks to him in delicious and majestic words as a friend speaks to a friend. The God Who is hidden from the eyes of the world manifests Himself to him and comforts him with His words at the time of every sorrow. He carries on a dialogue with him in His eloquent and delicious and majestic words and answers his questions and informs him of things that are beyond the knowledge and power of man. He does this not like astrologers, but like mighty kings whose words are full of kingly power. He discloses to him prophecies which are a sign of his honour and of the disgrace of his enemies, which indicate his victory and the defeat of his enemies. In this way, through His words and His works, manifests His existence to him. Then that servant being purified of all sin arrives at the perfection for which he has been created.
—Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, pp. 418-421
Faculties for Seeing God Can be Developed in This Very World
The Holy Qur’an teaches us that salvation is a matter that is manifested in this very life as He has said:
مَن كَانَ فِي هَٰذِهِۦٓ أَعۡمَىٰ فَهُوَ فِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ أَعۡمَىٰ
That is, he who is blind in this world will be blind in the hereafter also.  This means that a person takes with him from this world the faculties for seeing God and the means of eternal salvation.
God has repeatedly indicated that the means of man’s attaining salvation is eternal as God Himself is Eternal. It is not that after a time He recalled that if men cannot attain salvation by any other means, He should bestow salvation on them by killing Himself. A person can be described as having attained salvation when all his passions are consumed and God’s will becomes his will and he becomes so devoted to God out of love that nothing remains his and everything becomes God’s. All his words and deeds and movements and designs should be for God and he should perceive in his heart that all his delights are now in God and that a moment’s separation from God means death for him. He should be so inebriated with the love of God that everything beside God should be naught in his estimation. If the whole world should attack him with swords and should seek to separate him from God through fear, he should remain steadfast like a firm mountain. The fire of perfect love should flare up within him and he should hate sin. As other people love their children and wives and friends so that their love pervades their hearts, and the death of any of them distresses them so much as if it was their own death, that type of love and indeed a greater love should be generated in his heart for God, so much so, that he should become like an insane person in the grip of that love and should be ready to endure every torment and every wound for the sake of that love so that God Almighty may be pleased with him.
When a person is overcome to this degree by his love for God, all his passions are burnt up by the fire of love and a great revolution takes place in his nature and he is bestowed a heart that he did not possess before, and is bestowed eyes that he did not have before, and he is so much affected by certainty that he begins to see God in this very world. That burning sensation for the world with which the nature of the worldly is afflicted like hell, is totally removed from him and he is bestowed a life of comfort and pleasure and delight. This condition of his is called salvation inasmuch as his soul falling upon the threshold of God with love and devotion finds unending comfort and the union of his love with the love of God transports him to a station of devotion which is beyond description.
—Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, pp. 416-417
Who Deserves Salvation?
Salvation is not attained through one’s effort, but through the grace of God Almighty. The law that God Almighty has appointed for acquiring this grace is never falsified. That law is:
إِن كُنتُمۡ تُحِبُّونَ ٱللَّهَ فَٱتَّبِعُونِي يُحۡبِبۡكُمُ ٱللَّهُ
 وَمَن يَبۡتَغِ غَيۡرَ ٱلۡإِسۡلَٰمِ دِينٗا فَلَن يُقۡبَلَ مِنۡهُ
Salvation is not something whose blessings and fruits will be known to man only after his death. It is something the effects of which are manifested in this very world and a person who has attained salvation is bestowed a heavenly life in this world. The followers of other religions are altogether deprived of this. If it is said that the Muslims are also in the same condition, the answer is that they are deprived because they do not follow the book. A person who possesses a medicine but does not use it and is careless will derive no benefit from it. That is the case of the Muslims that they have a holy book like the Qur’an but they do not follow it. Those who turn away from the word of God Almighty are deprived of lights and blessings. Turning away is of two kinds; one, in action and the other in doctrine. A person cannot partake of lights and blessings unless he acts as God Almighty has commanded:
 كُونُواْ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ
Prophets are Mirrors of God’s Countenance
It is perfectly true that he who does not recognise God’s messengers does not recognise God either. A mirror of God’s countenance are His messengers. Everyone who sees God sees Him through this mirror. Then what kind of salvation is this that a person denies the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) all through his life and rejects the Holy Qur’an and God Almighty does not bestow eyes upon him nor a heart and he remains blind and dies blind and yet attains salvation? It is our observation that when God Almighty desires to bestow mercy upon someone He first bestows sight upon him and bestows knowledge upon him from Himself. There are hundreds of people in our movement who have joined it in consequence of dreams or revelation. The mercy of God Almighty is very wide. If one advances towards Him one step, He comes two steps and if a person hastens towards Him, He runs towards that one and opens the eyes of the blind. Then how can it be accepted that a person believes in Him and accepts Him as One without associate and loves Him and joins the company of His friends and yet God keeps him blind and he remains so blind that he does not recognise God’s prophet? This is supported by the hadith:
مَنْ مَاتَ وَلَمْ يَعْرِفْ إمَامَ زَمَانِهِ فَقَدْ مَاتَ مَيْتَةَ الْـجَاهِلِيَّةِ
He who dies without recognising the Imam of his age dies the death of ignorance and is deprived of the straight path.
—Haqiqatul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 151
 The Holy Qur’an, 48:11.
 The Holy Qur’an, 8:18.
 The Holy Qur’an, 58:23.
 The Holy Qur’an, 50:17.
 The Holy Qur’an, 2:187.
 The Holy Qur’an, 17:73.
 ‘If you love Allah then follow me, Allah will then love you.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 3:32.
 ‘He who seeks a faith other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him. ’ – The Holy Qur’an, 3:86.
 ‘Keep company with the righteous.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 9:119.