Hazrat Mirza Ghulam (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 manner in which God can be perceived, the unity of God, and how He is free from all defects.
Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. I, 37-49.
Personal Experience with God
The God Who has manifested Himself to all the prophets, and appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai and appeared to Jesus (as) on Mount Seir and shone forth to Hazrat Muhammad, the Chosen One [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] on Mount Paran, the same Mighty and Holy God has manifested Himself to me. He has talked to me and has said: ‘I am the High Being to establish Whose worship all the prophets were sent. I alone am the Creator and the Master and have no associate. I am not subject to birth or death.’
—The British Government and Jihad, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 17, p. 29
The pure life that is free from sin is a brilliant ruby which no one possesses today. God Almighty has bestowed that brilliant ruby on me and He has commissioned me that I should inform the world of the way in which that brilliant ruby might be acquired. I affirm with confidence that by treading on this path everyone would certainly acquire it. The only way in which it might be acquired is the true recognition of God; but this is a difficult and delicate matter. A philosopher, as I have said already, contemplating the heavens and earth and reflecting on the perfect orderliness of the universe, merely states that there ought to be a Creator. But I lead to a higher stage and affirm on the basis of my personal experience that God is.
—Malfuzat, Vol. III, p. 16
Our paradise lies in our God. Our highest delight is in our God for we have seen Him and have found every beauty in Him. This wealth is worth procuring though one might have to lay down one’s life to procure it. This ruby is worth purchasing though one may have to lose oneself to acquire it. O ye, who are bereft! run to this fountain and it will satisfy you. It is the fountain of life that will save you. What shall I do, and how shall I impress the hearts with this good news, and by beating what drum shall I make the announcement that this is our God, so that people might hear? What remedy shall I apply to the ears of the people so that they should listen?
—Noah’s Ark, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 21-22
The Grace of God Covers Everything
God is the light of the heavens and the earth. Every light that is visible on the heights or in the valleys, whether in souls or in bodies, whether personal or impersonal, whether apparent or hidden, whether in the mind or outside it, is a bounty of His grace. This is an indication that the general grace of the Lord of the worlds envelops everything and nothing is deprived of that grace. He is the source of all grace, the ultimate cause of all lights and the fountainhead of all mercies. His Being is the support of the universe and is the refuge of all high and low. He it is Who brought everything out of the darkness of nothingness and bestowed upon everything the mantle of being. No other being than Him is in himself present and eternal or is not the recipient of His grace. Earth and heaven, man and animals, stones and trees, souls and bodies, have all come into existence by His grace.
—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 191-192, footnote
God of Islam Visible in Nature and Perceived by Human Hearts
The God of Islam is the same God Who is visible in the mirror of the law of nature and is discernible in the book of nature. Islam has not presented a new God but has presented the same God Who is presented by the light of man’s heart, by the conscience of man, and by heaven and earth.
—Majmu’a Ishtiharat, Vol. II, pp. 310-311
Our soul and every particle of our being are prostrate before the Mighty, True and Perfect God from Whose hand every soul and every particle of creation together with all its faculties came into being, and through Whose support every being is sustained. Nothing is outside His knowledge, outside His control, or outside His creation. We call thousands of blessings and peace and mercy on the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the Chosen One [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] through whom we have found the Living God Who gives us proof of His existence through His word. He demonstrates to us through extraordinary signs His shining countenance which possesses eternal and perfect power. We found the Messenger (sa) who manifested God to us and we found the God Who created everything through His perfect power. How majestic is His power that nothing came into being without it and nothing can continue to exist without its support. That True God of ours possesses numberless blessings, numberless powers, numberless beauties and beneficences. There is no other God beside Him.
—Nasim-e-Da’wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, p. 363
The Being of God is transcendental and beyond the beyond and is most secret and cannot be discovered by the power of human reasoning alone. No argument can prove it conclusively, inasmuch as reason can travel only so far that contemplating the universe it feels the need of a Creator. But the feeling of a need is one thing and it is quite another to arrive at the certainty that the God, Whose need has been felt, does in fact exist. As the operation of reason is defective, incomplete and doubtful, a philosopher cannot recognise God purely through reason. Most people who try to determine the existence of God Almighty purely through the exercise of reason, in the end become atheists. Reflecting over the creation of the heavens and the earth does not avail them much and they begin to deride and laugh at the men of God. One of their arguments is that there are thousands of things in the world which have no use and the fashioning of which does not indicate the existence of a fashioner. They exist merely as vain and useless things. These people do not seem to realise that lack of knowledge of something does not necessarily negate its existence.
There are millions of people in the world who regard themselves as very wise philosophers and who utterly deny the existence of God. It is obvious that if they had discovered a strong reason for the existence of God, they would not have denied it. If they had discovered a conclusive argument in support of the existence of God, they would not have rejected it shamelessly and in derision. It is obvious, therefore, that no one boarding the ark of the philosophers can find deliverance from the storm of doubts, but is bound to be drowned, and such a one would never have access to the drinking of pure unity.
Belief in the Unity of God Established through the Holy Prophet (sa)
It is a false and stinking notion that belief in the unity of God can be achieved otherwise than through the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]; nor can man achieve salvation without it. How can there be faith in the unity of God unless there is perfect certainty with regard to His existence? Be sure, therefore, that belief in the unity of God can be achieved only through a Prophet, as our Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] convinced the atheists and pagans of Arabia of the existence of God Almighty by showing them thousands of heavenly signs. Up till today, the true and perfect followers of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] present those signs to the atheists.
The truth is that till a person observes the living powers of the Living God, Satan does not depart from his heart, nor does true unity enter into it, nor can he believe with certainty in the existence of God. This holy and perfect unity is appreciated only through the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him].
—Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 22, pp. 120-121
It is not within the power of man to comprehend all the activities of the Divine, as they are above reason, intellect and imagination. A man should not be proud of his pittance of knowledge that he has to some degree comprehended the system of cause and effect, inasmuch as that knowledge of his is very limited, as if it were a millionth part of one drop out of the ocean. The truth is that as God Almighty Himself is unbounded His activities are unbounded also. It is beyond and above human power to reach the reality of every activity of God.
Contemplating His eternal attributes we can, however, affirm that as divine attributes have never fallen into disuse, therefore, in God’s creation, some species have always existed in one form or the other; but any eternal personal coexistence (with God) is false. It is to be remembered that, like His attribute of creation, His attribute of destruction has always been in operation all the time and that also has never fallen into disuse.
The philosophers have put forth every effort to bring the creation of heavenly and earthly bodies within the purview of their physical laws and to establish the source of all creation, but they have utterly failed to do so. Whatever they have gathered together as the result of their physical research is quite incomplete and defective. That is why they have not been able to adhere to their theories throughout and have always changed them about. As their research is confined entirely to their reason and speculation and they receive no help from God, they cannot emerge out of their darkness. No one can truly recognise God till he understands that there are numberless activities of the Divine which are far beyond and above human power, reason, and speculation. Before reaching this stage of understanding, a person is either an atheist and has no faith in God, or if he does believe in God, that god is the result of his own reasoning and is not the God Who manifests His Own Being and the mysteries of Whose powers are so numerous that human reason cannot encompass them. Since God has bestowed upon me the knowledge that His powers are wonderful, that they have depth upon depth and are beyond of beyond, and are outside comprehension, I have always considered the philosophers to be rank disbelievers and secret atheists. It is my personal observation, and I have had experience of such wonderful divine powers, that we can only describe them as something coming into existence out of non-existence. I have described some instances of these signs at some other places. He who has not observed this wonder of divine power has observed nothing. We do not believe in a god whose powers are limited by our reason and speculation and there is nothing beyond. We believe in the God Whose powers, like His Being, are unlimited, unconfined, and unending.
—Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 280-282
God’s Beauty, Beneficence and Unity taught by the Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an comprises teachings which work towards endearing God. They exhibit His beauties and remind us of His beneficence, inasmuch as love is created either by the observation of beauty or by the remembrance of beneficence. The Qur’an teaches that by virtue of His excellences God is One, without associate. He suffers from no defect. He comprehends all good qualities and manifests all holy powers. He is the Originator of all creation and is the fountainhead of all grace. He is the Master of all recompense and everything returns to Him. He is near and yet far, and He is far and yet near. He is above all, but it cannot be said that there is someone below Him. He is more hidden than everything else is but it cannot be said that there is something more manifest than Him. He is Self-Existing in His Being and everything is alive through Him. He is Self-Sustaining and everything is sustained by Him. He supports everything and there is nothing that supports Him. There is nothing that has come into being on its own, or can live without Him on its own. He comprehends everything, but it cannot be said what is the nature of that comprehension. He is the Light of everything in heaven and earth and every light has shone forth from His hand and is a reflection of His Being. He is the Providence of the universe. There is no soul that is not sustained by Him and exists by itself. No soul has any power which it has not obtained from Him and which exists by itself.
Two Kinds of Divine Mercy
His mercy is of two kinds. One, which has been eternally manifested without being the result of any action on the part of anyone. For instance, heaven and earth, the sun, moon and planets, water, fire and air, and all the particles of the universe which were created for our comfort, and all those things that were needed by us, were provided before our coming into being. All this was done when we were not even present. No action had proceeded from us. Who can say that the sun was created on account of some action of his, or that the earth was created in consequence of some good action of his? This is the mercy which came into operation before the creation of man and is not the result of anyone’s actions. The second kind of divine mercy comes into operation in consequence of human action. This needs no illustration.
Allah is Free from All Defects
The Holy Qur’an sets forth that God is free from all defects and is not subject to any loss; and He desires that man should purify himself from defects by acting upon His instructions. He has said:
وَمَن كَانَ فِي هٰذِهِۦٓ أَعۡمىٰ فَھُوَ فِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ أَعۡمىٰ
This means that: He who has no insight in this world and is not able to behold the Peerless Being, will be blind after death and will be enveloped in darkness, inasmuch as man is bestowed insight in this life with which to see God and he who will not take that insight with him from this world, will not be able to see God in the hereafter.
God Almighty has made it clear in this verse what progress He desires man to achieve and how far man can proceed by following His teaching. God sets forth in the Holy Qur’an the teaching by following which a person can see God in this very life. As Allah says:
مَنۡ کَانَ یَرۡجُوۡا لِقَآءَ رَبِّہٖ فَلۡیَعۡمَلۡ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَّلَا یُشۡرِکۡ بِعِبَادَۃِ رَبِّہٖ اَحَدًا
This means that: He who desires to see God – who is the True Creator – in this very life, should act righteously.
That is to say, his conduct should exhibit no default and his actions should not be for show, nor should he take pride in them that he is such and such, nor should his actions be defective and incomplete, nor should they smell of anything which is inconsistent with his personal love of God. All his actions should breathe sincerity and faithfulness. He should abstain from associating anything with God. He should worship neither sun nor moon, nor stars, nor air, nor fire, nor water, nor any other thing whatsoever. He should not exalt worldly means so as to depend upon them as if they were God’s associates, nor should he depend upon his own enterprise and effort, for this is also a species of association. Having done everything, he should consider that he has done . He should have no pride in his knowledge, nor have dependence upon his actions. He should consider himself truly ignorant and slothful and his soul should be prostrate all the time at the threshold of God Almighty. He should draw the grace of God to himself through his supplications. He should become like a person who is thirsty and is helpless and finds a fountain spring forth in front of him, the water of which is clear and sweet, and he crawls up to the fountain and applies his lips to it and does not let go till he is fully satisfied.
In the Holy Qur’an, our God describes His attributes thus:
قُلۡ ھُوَ اللّٰہُ اَحَدٌ اَللّٰہُ الصَّمَدُ لَمۡ یَلِدۡ ۬ۙ وَلَمۡ یُوۡلَدۡ وَلَمۡ یَکُنۡ لَّہٗ کُفُوًا اَحَدٌ
This means that: Your God is One in His Being and in His attributes. No other being is eternal and everlasting and self-existing like His Being, nor are the attributes of any being like His attributes.
A person’s knowledge needs a teacher and yet is limited. God’s knowledge needs no teacher and is unlimited. A person’s hearing is dependent upon air and is limited, but God’s hearing is inherent and is unlimited. A person’s seeing is dependent upon the light of the sun or some other light and is limited, but God’s seeing is by His inherent light and is unlimited. The power of man to create is dependent upon some matter, needs time and is limited. God’s power to create is neither dependent on any matter nor does it need time and is unlimited. All His attributes are without equal and as He has no equal in His Being, no one is His equal in His attributes. If one of His attributes were to be defective, all His attributes would be defective and therefore His unity cannot be established unless He were without any equal in His attributes as He is without any equal in His Being. He is not anyone’s son, nor is anyone His son. He is Self-Sufficient and needs neither father nor son. This is the unity which the Holy Qur’an teaches and which is the basis of our faith.
—Lecture Lahore, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 152-155
God has commanded me to inform the members of my Community that those who have believed with a faith which contains nothing of the world in it, and which is not coloured by hypocrisy or cowardice, and does not fall short of any degree of obedience, are the people who are approved by God, and God says that they are the ones whose feet are planted firmly on sincerity.
Let him who has ears hear what it is that God desires of you. It is that you should become wholly His and should not associate anyone with Him in heaven or in earth. Our God is the One Who is living today as He was living before, and Who speaks today as He spoke before, and hears today as He heard before. It is a false notion that in this age He hears but does not speak. Indeed, He both hears and speaks. All His attributes are eternal and everlasting. None of His attributes have fallen into disuse or will fall into disuse. He is the One without associate Who has no son and no consort. He is the Peerless One Who has no equal and like Whom no individual is absolutely qualified with any quality, and Whose attributes are not shared by anyone. None of His powers lacks anything. He is near and yet far and He is far and yet near. He can manifest Himself in any shape to those who have experience of visions but He has no body and no shape. He is above all but it cannot be said that there is anyone below Him. He is on His throne, but it cannot be said that He is not on the earth. He combines in Himself all perfect qualities and is a manifestation of all true praiseworthiness. He is the fountainhead of all excellences and combines in Himself all powers. All grace originates with Him and everything returns to Him. He is the Master of all kingdoms and possesses every perfect quality. He is free from every defect and weakness. It belongs to Him alone that all those on earth and in heaven should worship Him. Nothing is beyond His power. All souls and their capacities and all particles and their capacities are His creation. Nothing manifests itself without Him. He manifests Himself through His powers and His signs and we can find Him only through Him. He manifests Himself always to the righteous and shows them His powers. That is how He is recognised and that is how the path is recognised which has His approval.
He sees without physical eyes, hears without physical ears and speaks without a physical tongue. It is His function to bring into being from nothingness. As you see in a dream, He creates a whole world without the agency of any matter and shows as present that which is mortal and non-existent. Such are all His powers. Foolish is the one who denies His powers and blind is the one who is unaware of their depth. He does everything and can do everything except that which is inconsistent with His dignity or is opposed to His promise. He is one in His Being and His attributes and His actions and His powers. All doors that lead to Him are closed except the one door which has been opened by the Holy Qur’an.
—Al-Wasiyyat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 309-311
 The Holy Qur’an, 17:73.
 The Holy Qur’an, 18:111.
 The Holy Qur’an, 112:2-5.