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Islam

Salvation – Justice and Sin

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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. In this series, the Promised Messiah (as) discusses the concept of inherent sin in Christianity, before then presenting the true Islamic path to salvation.

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. II, 282-291.

No Contradiction Between Divine Justice and Mercy

The Christian doctrine that divine justice would not be fulfilled without atonement is utterly absurd. They believe that in his human aspect Jesus (as) was sinless and yet their God burdened him without cause with the curse of the whole world and had no regard for His own justice. This shows that their God cares not at all for justice. What a spectacle is this that what was sought to be escaped was adopted in its worst form. The great concern was that somehow justice should not be contravened and mercy may also be fulfilled.

But by the slaughter of an innocent one, neither justice was established nor was mercy fulfilled. The notion that justice and mercy cannot subsist together in the Being of God Almighty, inasmuch as justice demands punishment and mercy demands forbearance, is an error in which short-sighted Christians are involved through lack of reflection. They do not reflect that the justice of God Almighty is also mercy…

It should be borne in mind that the basic attribute of God is mercy. Justice comes into play after reason and law have been established. Justice is also mercy in another form. When a person is bestowed reason and through it he becomes aware of the limits and laws of God Almighty, he becomes subject to the demand of justice. But for mercy there is no condition of reason and law. As God Almighty desired to exalt mankind through mercy, He laid down the rules and limits of justice. Thus it is ignorance to imagine that there is contradiction between justice and mercy.

Death is Not the Fruit of Sin

The Christians say that the death of man and all animals is the fruit of sin, but this is open to two objections. In the first place, it cannot be denied that there was a creation before Adam (as) and that they were subject to death. There was no Adam (as) at the time nor was there his sin. Then how did death come about? Secondly, there is no doubt that with the exception of one fruit Adam (as) ate everything in the garden and so he must have eaten meat. This also shows that animals were killed before the sin of Adam (as). Even apart from this, Adam (as) drank water, for eating and drinking go together, and research has established that every drop of water contains thousands of germs. Thus there can be no doubt that before the sin of Adam (as), millions of germs used to die. One is, therefore, compelled to affirm that death is not the fruit of sin and this refutes the thesis of the Christians.

—Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 13, pp. 72-74

According to their principle, the Christians attach no importance to righteous conduct; in their view the atonement of Jesus (as) is a sufficient means for the attainment of salvation. We have shown that the atonement of Jesus (as) did not rescue the Christians from sin, nor is it true that because of the atonement every vice has become permissible for them. There is, however, one further matter which is worthy of note, that reason proves that righteous conduct has an effect that bestows the fruit of salvation upon the pious. Even the Christians acknowledge that vice has an effect whereby a person guilty of it is condemned to hell forever. If that is so, one has to make allowance for the corresponding law of nature that good also has an effect and that he who practises it can become heir to salvation.

Was Jesus (as) Free from Inherited Sin?

Another objection we had put forward was that the expiation that the Christians set forth is opposed to the eternal divine law of nature. There is no instance in the law of nature that to safeguard the inferior the superior might be put to death. We have before us the divine law of nature which proves that the inferior is always sacrificed to safeguard the superior. All animates, even the germs in the water, are sacrificed for the preservation of man, who is the noblest of creation. The sacrifice of Jesus (as) is contrary to this obvious law. Every reasonable person can understand that for the protection of that which is dearer and more valuable, that which is inferior to it has to be sacrificed. God Almighty lets millions of animates be sacrificed for the preservation of man, and we, by our very nature, follow the same law. You can thus understand how inconsistent is atonement, in which the Christians believe, with the divine law of nature.

Another objection that we had raised was that the claim of the Christians that Jesus (as) was free from hereditary as well as acquired sin is obviously unfounded. The Christians admit that Jesus (as) had acquired his body from his mother and that she was not free from sin. The Christians also acknowledge that all pain and hurt are the fruit of sin and there can be no doubt that Jesus (as) felt hunger and thirst and might have suffered from chickenpox and smallpox in his childhood and would have borne the pain of teething and would have suffered from seasonal fevers. According to the Christians, all these are the fruits of sin. Then how could Jesus (as) be regarded as a sinless sacrifice? Besides, according to the Christians, only that person can establish a relationship with the holy spirit who is wholly free from sin. Then how did the holy spirit establish a relationship with Jesus (as) who was not free from hereditary sin nor escaped the fruit of sin? Apparently, Melchisedec was more deserving of a relationship with the holy spirit, for according to the Christians he was free from every kind of sin.

Did Crucifixion Save Christians from Sin?

The Christians acknowledge that the true means of attaining salvation is to be free from sin and yet they do not set forth the true means of achieving freedom from sin. They present a shameful fiction which has no true relationship with freedom from sin. It is obvious that as man has been created for God, his whole comfort and prosperity lie in this that he should become wholly God’s, and he can never manifest true comfort till he establishes this relationship with God in practice. When man turns away from God, his case is like that of a person who shuts the windows of his room that open towards the sun. There can be no doubt that with the shutting of the windows the room will become dark and that the light of the sun having been excluded will be suddenly replaced with darkness. It is that darkness which is described as misguidance and hell for it is the root of all pain. If the removal of this darkness and deliverance from this hell is sought in accordance with the law of nature, then there is no need to crucify anyone. The windows should be opened, the shutting of which had caused the darkness. Can anyone believe that we can obtain any light while we insist upon keeping the windows shut through which light could enter? The forgiveness of sins is not a tale which would be illustrated in a future life. Nor is this matter without foundation or comparable to the disobedience and forgiveness of worldly governments. A person is accounted an offender or a sinner when, turning away from God, he draws away from confrontation with the light and brightness which descend from God upon human hearts. That condition is called junah in the word of God, which has been perverted by the Parsees into gunah (sin). The root of the word means to incline away and to move away from the centre. It acquired the connotation of sin, inasmuch as by turning away a person leaves the spot where divine light falls and moving away from it puts himself at a distance from the light that can be obtained in the original position. In the same way juram (crime), which also connotes sin, means cutting asunder. Thus an offender cuts asunder all his relationship with God. Juram is thus more serious than junah, for the latter merely means a wrong inclination, but the former signifies that a person deliberately commits an offence by breaking God’s law and being heedless of any relationship with Him.

That being the reality of true purity, the question arises whether those lights which a person loses through his love of darkness can be acquired by believing in the crucifixion of anyone. The answer is that such a notion is false. The truth is that for the acquiring of those lights it is the eternal law that we should open the windows that face the true sun and the rays that had been averted by shutting them would be revived again. This is borne out by the physical law of nature that we cannot get rid of darkness till we open the windows that let in the direct rays of the sun. Doubtless, therefore, the only correct course that appeals to reason is that those windows should be opened whereby not only shall we obtain light, but shall also behold the Source of all light.

For the removal of the darkness of sin and neglect, it is necessary to obtain light. This is indicated by God, the Glorious, in the verse:

وَ مَنۡ کَانَ فِیۡ ھٰذِہٖۤ اَعۡمٰی فَھُوَ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ اَعۡمٰی وَ اَضَلُّ سَبِیۡلًا

‘He who is blind in this world shall be blind in the hereafter and even more astray.’ [1]

This means that the eyes for beholding God and the senses for discovering Him are bestowed in this life and that he upon whom they are not bestowed in this life will not find them in the hereafter. The righteous who will see God on the Day of Judgement will carry with them the senses through which they will see Him, and he who does not hear the voice of God in this world will not hear it in the next. To recognise God as He is without any error and to obtain true understanding of His Being and attributes in this world is the source of all light. It is thus obvious that those who believe that God is subject to death and distress and misery and ignorance, and that He can become accursed and can be deprived of true purity and mercy and true knowledge, flounder in the pit of misguidance, and are unaware of true knowledge and insight which are the basis of salvation. The Christians are guilty of gross error in thinking that salvation is freely available and that good deeds are irrelevant in that context. He whom they have deified observed forty fasts. Moses (as) also observed fasts in Sinai. If good deeds are nothing, why did these two exalted ones pursue this vain purpose? As it is clear that God Almighty is disgusted with vice, we can understand that He is greatly pleased with virtue. In this way, virtue becomes an atonement for vice. When a person after being guilty of a vice performs a good deed that pleases God, it follows that the previous condition has been replaced by the subsequent one; otherwise, it would be disrespect. Accordingly, God the Glorious says in the Holy Qur’an:

اِنَّ الۡحَسَنٰتِ یُذۡھِبۡنَ السَّیِّاٰتِ

‘Surely good deeds do away with evil deeds’.[2]

We can also say that vice has a poisonous quality, which destroys, and that virtue has the quality of an antidote that rescues from death. For instance, to shut all the doors of a room is a vice, the necessary consequence of which is darkness. Opposed to this is the opening of the doors that face the sun. This is the virtue the necessary consequence of which is that the light that had been shut off will re-enter the room.

—Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 13, pp. 76-81

Belief in the Kalimah

Your saying is quite true that it is the teaching of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) that sins are removed by the affirmation that:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللهِ
[3]

It is a reality that he who believes in God as One without associate and that Muhammad, the chosen one (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was sent by the same All-Powerful Unique One, will doubtless attain salvation, if he dies in the belief. There is no salvation under heaven through the suicide of anyone and no one can be more insane than one who thinks so. But to believe in God as One without associate and so Compassionate that by His great mercy, in order to rescue the world from misguidance, He sent His Messenger whose name is Muhammad, the chosen one (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is the doctrine by adhering to which the darkness of the soul is removed and the ego is replaced by the belief in the unity of God. In the end the mighty upsurge of unity spreads over the whole heart and a heavenly life begins in this very world. As you observe that by the advent of light darkness disappears, in the same way, when the bright reflection of:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ
[4]

falls upon a heart, the dark passions of the ego disappear. The essence of sin is that there is a tumult in the passions of the ego by yielding to which a person is called a sinner, and the meaning of:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ
[5]

which are derived from its various meanings in the Arabic lexicon is that:

لَا مَطْلُوْبَ لِيْ وَلَا مَحْبُوْبَ لِيْ وَلَا مَعْبُوْدَ لِيْ وَلَا مُطَاعَ لِيْ إِلَّا اللهُ

That is, there is no one to be desired, or to be loved, or to be worshipped, or to be obeyed except Allah. Now it is obvious that this concept is totally opposed to the reality of sin and its true source. If a person with the sincerity of his heart establishes this meaning in his soul, then necessarily any opposite concept will be driven out of his heart, inasmuch as opposites cannot subsist together. When the passions of the ego are excluded, that is the condition which is called true purity and real righteousness. The purpose of the second part of the credo, that is to say, to believe in the Messenger of God, is that faith might be established in the word of God also, for it is necessary for a person who confesses that he desires to become an obedient servant of God that he should believe in God’s commandments; and belief in God’s commandments is not possible without belief in him through whom the commandments have been conveyed. This is the true meaning of the credo.

—Nur-ul-Qur’an No. 2, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 9, pp. 418-420


ENDNOTES

[1] The Holy Qur’an, 17:73.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 11:115.

[3] ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’

[4] ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah.’

[5] Ibid.

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