Archive Edition

From the Archives: Professor Wragge’s Interview with the Promised Messiah (as)

Professor Clement Lindley Wragge

In May 1908, Professor Clement Lindley Wragge and his wife had the blessed opportunity to meet with the Promised Messiah (as) in Lahore, where they posed important questions. The following translation of the two interviews was published in The Review of Religions in the May and June 1939 editions.

Professor Wragge: ‘My wife and I deem it a great privilege to be favoured with this interview.’

The Promised Messiah (as): ‘I am very pleased to have met you.’

Professor Wragge: ‘I am a traveller and a man of intellectual pursuits. Looking at the universe, when I perceive the heavens and the earth full of countless, inexpressible wonders, and realise the incalculable range of the creation of God – system upon system so vast that human imagination reels under the conception I cannot bring myself to believe that the Originator of this stupendous creation could be confined to any one religious book or religious group. The Muslims have their religion, and the Christians and Jews have theirs. I have no desire to identify myself exclusively with any of these: what I desire is truth.’

The Promised Messiah (as): ‘That, of course, is true: God does not reside in any one religion to the exclusion of all others. God is the Creator and Master of the whole universe: He is equally the God of all mankind. Just as, on the material and physical plane, He sustains all grades of life and all races of men – for which purpose He has ordained a vast system comprising heavenly bodies, a chain of physical laws, air, water and foods of different kinds – similarly for the spiritual needs of man, too, He supplies on an equally liberal and universal a scale. This is one of the tenets in our faith and this is what we find stated clearly in the Holy Qur’an. God is the Creator and Sustainer and Developer of all forms of matter, and all grades of life. In all ages and in every clime He has been raising His chosen servants to guide man to the goal of life; and in future too He will continue to do so. 

إِن مِّنۡ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خَلَا فِيهَا نَذِيرٞ

“Verily, there is no nation to whom We have not sent a warner,” says the Holy Qur’an (35:25). In the case of the sacred books of different religions, the apparent contradictions involved are not contradictions, really speaking, as in each period or locality different problems rising from varying conditions of life were dealt with accordingly. To facilitate a proper grasp of this point the process may be likened to the medical treatment of a patient by an intelligent physician: corresponding to the change from time to time in the condition of the patient, there is an alteration in the treatment. When corruption overtakes the actions of man, when his beliefs and ideals too become tainted, when people forsake the worship of the One True God and turn to innumerable gods of their own making, God sends down a reformer. Reformation and improvement do not lie outside the law of nature ordained by God. We perceive that for us living in the present age the kind of air, the seasons and the food on which the primitive man throve, would not at all be suitable. We need an atmosphere and a change of seasons better suited to our requirements, and each year we need a fresh crop of wheat. On a parallel with this, on the spiritual plane, the sustenance that was provided for man in the past is not enough for the present generations: they stand in need of fresh sustenance. Our argument and method of approach in dealing with an atheist would be different, of course, but a man who believes in God can derive much benefit by pondering over the two parallel planes of man’s life – the physical and the spiritual. Just as, by means of seasonal changes and the recurring rains, God imparts renewed life and vigour to man on the physical side, he similarly has instituted a system of spiritual rain which He sends down at the proper time to give fresh spiritual vitality. Should those things cease to exist which support human life, the human race would soon become extinct. In like manner the spiritual growth of man would come to a dead halt should the process of spiritual revitalisation come to an end and man have to subsist on past provisions alone, dried up and parched and made useless through the passage of time. Periodical flashes of the divine light are as indispensable to the spiritual growth of man as are the recurring seasons and harvests for the maintenance of physical life. Divine guides and reformers are thus a necessity for every age.

It is a dangerous error to turn away from the prophets of God on the basis of the merest casual glance. The weighty arguments on their side should not be brushed aside simply by saying with regard to any one of them: “he is but an ordinary man.” But of course everyone is entitled to demand proofs; so we assure all to whom it may concern that we do not take our stand on myths and stories of the past but on definite, solid ground right in front of one’s eyes. In these days of scientific progress if you ask any astronomer to take into consideration the marvels of the solar system and other heavenly bodies and to say whether such a world of delicate balance could be ascribed to blind chance, he would be constrained to say that there should be an Intelligent Mind at the back of creation; but with the best will in the world, he would not be prepared to take a more definite stand: he would not be in a position to say definitely, with perfect certainty, that God did exist. Only a prophet of God could do so.’

Question: ‘This earth is only a small planet, and I am sure that there are many other planets like it, and many other systems. I cannot persuade myself to believe that this world originated only some six or seven thousand years ago, when God created Adam and Eve, and that through the use by this couple of a certain forbidden fruit their entire progeny became sinful.

Answer: We do not hold that the earth is the only planet inhabited. And if any other heavenly body is peopled with creatures who stand in need of divine guidance, as man does, we believe that God must have provided for their guidance too as he has provided for the guidance of man. Neither do we hold that the progeny of Adam became sinful because Adam and Eve did not refrain from tasting the forbidden fruit.  The Holy Qur’an says:

لَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٞ وِزۡرَ أُخۡرَىٰ

i.e., “no one is forced to shoulder the burden of another.” We do not hold the view that whatever there is, it is to be found on this earth and that it is the centre and focus in point of value of all that is contained in the universe.’

Question: ‘What is sin? We find that modes of conduct considered good and moral in one country, are condemned in another as base and immoral. Moreover we know on the basis of historical studies that man has reached the point of moral distinctions after a long process of evolution of which the net result has been the emergence of the ethical sense. Does morality really amount to no more than the effect of environment? Secondly, what is Satan? and why does God, with His power and wisdom, allow Satan to spread evil in the world?’

 Answer: ‘To discuss this question from the point of view of those who believe in God, human life does not end with the brief span of existence upon this earth, but continues eternally, in a manner of speaking. Real joy and bliss and wellbeing all proceed from God. When a man behaves in a manner so as to cut himself loose from this source of life and happiness, from this sheet anchor, he is said to have committed a “sin”. Further, with an eye upon the ultimate ideal man is destined to attain, he is gifted with numerous faculties which equip him for the march. But in whatsoever he behaves in such a way as to hinder his own progress, he is guilty of “sin”. With regard to some of the restrictions designed to keep man from sin, he can penetrate to the wisdom that underlies them. When a man steals, no doubt he does harm to someone, but he also destroys the purity of his own life; and an adulterer intrudes into the sex life of one on whom he had no right, but in doing so he does grievous harm to his own soul as well. All those acts which are incompatible with his purity and which, thereby, tend to raise a barrier between him and his Creator, cutting him off from the source of all joy and happiness and bliss, constitutes “sin”. Though there are some restrictions of which ordinary understanding cannot perceive the underlying wisdom, we should rest assured that God is the Highest and knows best and His wisdom embraces everything. He has prescribed for man only such courses of action as are indispensable if he is to march to the goal for which he is equipped. When a physician prescribes a treatment for his patient it ill behoves the sick man to start picking holes in that treatment. Instead he should be thankful to his physician and act upon his advice. Had God chosen not to enlighten us and had He not shown to us the roads which lead to ruin, that course was open to Him, but being رَبِّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ in His infinite mercy He vouchsafed knowledge of these things to man. A sick man cannot defy restrictions placed upon him without paying heavily in health. The same principle holds true in respect of moral restrictions. It should be clearly borne in mind that real purity, true happiness and wellbeing for man lie in the love of God and communion with Him. Not to refrain from a course of action which, on account of the purity of God, is disagreeable to Him, constitutes “sin”. Moreover, we observe that almost all nations agree about most of the sins: stealing and adultery, for instance, are everywhere looked upon as sin, and all agree that these actions are displeasing to God and injurious and harmful to the nature of man. Then, too, in many cases when man has been guilty of a sin, he feels it in his bones, so to say, that he has acted wrongly. If a grown-up man were to beat a child, he would be uneasy over it and feel ashamed: on the other hand if he were to feed a man dying of starvation, he would feel satisfied and feel glad for having acted well. Therefore, in most cases it is not difficult to know right from wrong, nor on the question is there any serious difference between people of different races. 

As regards Satan, I have explained it on many occasions that two kinds of capabilities have been made inherent in man. One of these pulls him towards what is good and the other impels him towards wrong. This is so because it is desired that he should pass a test successfully, and merit commendation for having refrained from an evil course, and reap that rich reward which follows when a man surrenders himself into the hands of God. In other words Satan is a name for the force that impels a man towards wrong­doing. But we do not believe in Satan alone; we at the same time believe in angels, too, who pull man in the right direction. Our conception of Satan and such like things is different from Christian ideas on the point, however. Our idea is simple and easy to understand: the power that draws man towards right we call by the name “angels”, and the power that drives him to wrong is called Satan.’

Question: ‘Of what use is sin in the scheme of creation?’

Answer: ‘God does not will any wrong, nor is He pleased by sin, but He has left man free to choose either course so that, electing to go right, he should deserve a reward. Had there been no sin, there would have been no virtue in the world. What is virtue? It is just the act of refraining from a reprehensible course, i.e., not to steal when it is open to one to do so. Now, had stealing been out of the power of man he would have merited no reward for not stealing. Thus, what we know as evil really contributes to the progress of man.

Another way of looking at this question is that for a man who believes in God and believes in His all­ embracing knowledge and wisdom, it is not meet that he should question His deep ways. For instance, it would be silly for him to ask: “Why does the sun always rise in the east?”

Suppose there is a man who always screams whenever he speaks and his tone is harsh, and there is another man whose vocal cords are so arranged that it is impossible for him to speak except in a gentle voice. The latter would get no reward for speaking gently because it is impossible for him, physically, to speak in any other way. Had man been so constituted as to be debarred from acting except in one and the same manner, there would have been no question of right or wrong for him. What gives rise to the quality of right or wrong is the fact that man is gifted with free will and a number of courses are open to him: pursuance of the golden mean constitutes virtue. Had there been no negative force inclining man towards evil, there would have been no positive aspect which we call good.’

Question: ‘What we perceive in the world around us leads us to believe that, rising from lower stages, man is gradually progressing towards higher perfections. But the Christians believe that starting from a better condition man has sunk down to sinfulness; that God created Adam in the beginning, and he deteriorated through sin.’

Answer: ‘We do not agree with the Christian view. We agree with the other view which you stated just now.’

Question: ‘I should like to hear your views in regard to the next life.’

Answer: ‘At the end of man’s life in this world there begins for him another life which, so to say, is the reflection projected by his life on the physical plane. Those who sow good seed while on this earth, shall reap a good harvest in the next life; while those who act otherwise, they shall have to suffer the consequences of their actions. We cannot say that the next span of man’s life is divorced and cut off from the first. It is somewhat similar to what befalls us when we go to sleep, as here too man goes through a radical change. In the course of a conversation such as this, however, it is not possible to deal more fully with the question.’

Question: At this stage Mrs. Wragge asked: ‘Is it possible to obtain a message from the dead?’

Answer: ‘Yes. In the moments of “Kashf” it is possible to make contact with the dead, but for this an extraordinary degree of spiritual discipline and training is a pre-requisite. If this condition is fulfilled it is possible to obtain information from those who have passed away. But for this, as I have just said, great spiritual discipline is necessary which the generality of mankind cannot attain to. That is why people make haste to deny such things. I hold that it is not only possible to make contact with the dead in moments of sleep, but also when a man is actually wide awake. I have personally met Jesus Christ (as) in this way, and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), as well as some other people who have passed away.

It is definitely possible to make contact with the dead but it is not possible for every man to make that contact. Marvellous powers lie hidden in man. When digging a well you get pure fresh water, but on reaching a certain depth only. Similarly clear tidings cannot be obtained without the completion of spiritual discipline.’

Question: ‘Do you understand God to be a Finite being or Infinite and Omnipresent? Can He be said to have a personality? What kind of feelings or emotions has He, if any?’

Answer: ‘We do not understand God to be a finite being; limitations of all kinds are incompatible with a proper conception of the Divine Being. God is Infinite and Omnipresent. He is not in the heavens alone; He pervades, in the same way, every nook and corner of the earth as well. The relationship between Him and His creation is of two kinds: a general relationship, embracing everything, and a specific bond of union that springs up between Him and such men as purify themselves, gaining thereby in spiritual advancement and love of God. In the case of such as these He is so near that He may be said to speak through them as His mouthpiece. The marvel of marvels is that, although very far, He is near; and although near, He is remote and far moved. But this nearness is not to be understood in terms of physical and bodily contiguity. He is above everything, yet we cannot say that there is anything underneath Him. He is the most Obvious, He lies on the very surface as it were; but it is also true that He lies deep down in things, hidden from the eyes of man except for those who look carefully. In proportion to his progress in righteousness and purity, man becomes aware of the existence of God.

By emotions and feelings in the question is probably meant: Why has God imposed upon man the burden of religious law and subjected him to the irksome restrictions of what is lawful and allowed and what is not? It should be carefully grasped in this connection that the Divine Being is قُدُّوْس (pure and free from failings) in the highest degree, and as such He does not like what is impure. As He is also رَحِيْم وَكَرِيْم (the Beneficent and the Merciful), He desires that man should not follow a path that would lead to his undoing. This is the essence of those “feelings” and “emotions” of the Divine Being which lie at the basis of religious restrictions and preferences imposed upon man; you may call these feelings and emotions by whatever name you like.’

Question: ‘Can God be said to have any shape or form?’

Answer: ‘God is Infinite and free from any limitations. Therefore it is wrong to conceive of Him as having any form.’

Question: ‘When God is Love and Justice, why has He constituted the universe in such a way that certain things prey upon others? If love and justice are essential, inalienable attributes of the Divine Being, how can these qualities be reconciled with the injustice implied in so having ordered the universe that some living things are torn limb from limb and eaten by others, although both stand in the same relationship to God, being equally His creatures?’

Answer: ‘When the word ‘love’ is used with reference to God it is a serious mistake to understand it to mean in every respect exactly the same thing as when this word is used about human beings. The sense of love and the implications which go with it in relation to man, do not apply to the Divine Being. Human beings possess the qualities of love and anger but the nature and implication of these feelings as experienced by mortals is fundamentally different from the connotation of these words in relation to God. In the case of man, separation from the object of love causes pain. A mother suffers intense agony when separated from her child. Anger also entails a kind of suffering, acute in proportion to the intensity of the feeling, even for the person in whom this feeling is excited. In addition to the discomfort or injury inflicted on the object of his anger, the angry man experiences a discomfort himself for as long as he might remain upset. Anger is a positive pain felt primarily by the angry person; it is attended by a bitterness which deprives him of joy and mental wellbeing. Obviously, therefore, love and anger in relation to God, cannot be understood to mean the same kind of mental condition as we understand those feelings to imply when experienced by human beings. Pain and suffering, of whatever kind, are inconceivable with regard to God. Consequently we do not like the use of these words in relation to Him. That God is love is an expression coined by those whose conception of God is based upon qualities and conditions which go with mortal man.

The Divine Being is Purity par excellence, and those people who walk in conformity with His will, naturally and necessarily come to have an affinity with Him. Words like love and anger can be used about God only as a simile; they should not be taken literally to imply all those mental conditions which go with these words when used in relation to man. It should further be borne in mind that God in His infinite wisdom has ordered the universe as we find it, and everything functions as conceived in the divine plan. Indiscriminate use of misleading words with regard to God is not advisable. An inseparable aspect of love is pain due to intense longing and a kind of burning desire. If we understand Him to be Love and to possess the attribute of anger, in the sense implied by these words when used about human beings, we shall have to concede that even the Almighty and the Perfect Being is not free from pain and suffering.’

Question: ‘So far I understand, but I desire to inquire why God has so constituted various animals that those on a lower plane have to sacrifice themselves for the sake of those standing higher and to serve as food or live a despised and precarious life?

 Answer: ‘I have explained just now that God’s love and God’s anger should not be understood to mean the mental conditions which go with these and similar emotions as experienced by human beings. As for the manner in which God has ordered the universe, we must bear in mind that divine wisdom lies at the back which we mortals cannot fully comprehend. Nor, in view of the limitations to which he is subject, does it become man to agitate his mind over questions too deep for ordinary human understanding. It should be enough for us to know that the present universe is only a brief, transitory state in the span of existence, with a fuller life to follow where all shall be blessed with true, everlasting bliss, so that any hardships borne in this life would be fully compensated for and every deficiency made up

As for distress and pain, all grades of life are equally subject to it, high as well as low; and on fuller consideration it would be found that it had to be so. Yet, although the life of different creatures is differently circumstanced, there is practically little disparity in the sum-total of the pain and pleasure experienced by them. If a hawk preys upon sparrows, man and his off-spring, too, often become the food of tigers, leopards and wolves. Man has to reckon with snakes and scorpions too. In short, pain is the common lot of all living things; if some creatures appear to be worse off than others in one respect, they have their compensation in being better placed with regard to other things. But life in this world being tinged with pain. God has in store another stage of existence for recompense. That is why in the Holy Qur’an He is spoken of as مَٰلِكِ يَوۡمِ ٱلدِّينِ i.e. “Lord and Master of the Day of Judgment” (1:4). Possibly, man is the happiest of all of the creation; but it is also possible that the lower mammals and birds or the air, in their own way, may be happier still. Life in this world may be likened to a problem of which the complete solution would dawn upon man only in the next world. For the troubles and distress borne in this life there is the divine promise of happiness in the life to come. To the question: Why God did so? And why did He not order the universe on some other plan? One answer is that He is the Lord and Master and He did as He pleased: no one is entitled to question His authority and His wisdom.

Further, the point should be clearly grasped that the hardships borne by man far exceed those to which the lower species of living beings are subject: therefore, the reward reaped by man in the next life would exceed the recompense of all other grades of life. The burdens shouldered by man are of two kinds: (1) those which follow from the religious law under which man puts himself; and (2) those which follow from the laws of nature which, under divine providence, govern the universe. Man shares with the lower grades of life all those privations which nature imposes upon living beings; if man causes some lower animals to die, he himself often falls a prey to wild beasts or poisonous reptiles. So in this respect man and the lower animals stand on the same footing.

But over and above the hardships imposed by the laws of nature in common upon man and all other forms of life, there is another set of laws to which man subjects himself on grounds of religion and morality. Restrictions imposed by these laws are deep and far-reaching, involving rigid self-control, renunciations and a repression not far short of self-abnegation and self-effacement. But those restrictions leave the lower animals untouched and wholly free. In view of these facts it is evident that in this world man passes through a harder ordeal than any other kind of living things.

Again, it is also to be remembered that man is far more sensitive than the other kinds of life; his senses and feelings are sharper. In the lower animals and in the vegetable forms of life these faculties arc much less developed. This is one reason why the lower animals have not been gifted with as much intelligence as man. Reason and rationality follow after a certain stage has been reached in the development of the senses. Possessed of crude feelings and a low intelligence, animals pass through their lives sheathed in a kind of armour which sensations of pain can penetrate only on occasion, and only for mere fleeting moments. Deep and abiding sensations are experienced by man alone. Thus, in the net result, lower animals have less hardship and pain to suffer than man, although man, to the casual observer may seem to be much better placed.’

Question: ‘I believe I have grasped this point. But I wish to inquire, further, whether or not you hold the view that even the lower forms of life would get some recompense in the life to come for hardships borne by them.’

Answer: ‘Yes, we believe that everything, according to its position in the scale or life, would be given a recompense and a reward for the distress and pain it had to bear in this life.’

Question: ‘This view would imply that the animals we kill are not annihilated but survive death in some form or other.’

Answer: ‘Of course; they are not annihilated: their spirit or their soul, call it what you like, survives.’

Question: ‘In the Bible it is stated that Adam, or the first man, as he should be called, was created in the region mentioned in Gen., Chapter II. Are we to understand that the various human races found scattered all over the globe are descended from the same common ancestor?’

Answer: ‘We are not of that opinion: we do not agree with the Biblical view that the world began, only about six or seven thousand years ago, with the creation of Adam, and that till then there existed nothing at all. This would imply a previous period when God, so to say, was inert and inactive and His attributes in a state of abeyance – a view which we can never accept. Nor do we hold that the different races found scattered all over the globe are exclusively descended from this one Adam. We believe that human beings existed even before the time of the Adam spoken of in the Old Testament. This view is clearly implied in the words of the Holy Qur’an where it says:

إِنِّي جَاعِلٞ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ خَلِيفَةٗ

(“I am about to place a Khalifa in the earth.”) The word خَلِيفَة means a successor.

This verse implies, therefore, that Allah’s creation existed before Adam. Consequently, with regard to the races found in America or Australia, we are not in a position to say whether they are descended from this last Adam or from a different progenitor or progenitors. There is a saying of Hazrat Mohy-ud-Din lbni Arabi that hears on this question. He writes that when he went on pilgrimage to Mecca, he met there a man who, he thought, was Adam. On being questioned on the point, the man replied: “There have been thousands of Adams: which of them do you seek?”

Question: ‘Do you believe in evolution and hold that man has progressed by degrees from lower stages of life to higher ones, and that he evolved first into an ape and then became a man. When did the soul come into existence?’

Answer: ‘We do not consider that man was formerly an ape of which the tail and the hair on the body have disappeared in the course of a long process of evolution culminating in a human being. That man is descended from an ape is a claim of which the onus of proof lies on those who put forth this view. They cannot prove the truth of this theory unless they can put their finger on an ape in the process of emerging into a human being. With us this view carries no more weight than a fanciful story devoid of substance. We observe that the reproduction of living beings does not overstep the bounds imposed by genus and species; the law of God in this respect is plain for anyone who cares to see: the offspring of an ass is always an ass, and monkeys reproduce only monkeys. As opposed to this unfailing universal law, if any one claims that monkeys at one time gave birth to human beings, it behoves him to prove his case. Simply to say that perhaps it was so has no force, especially when the continuous observation of centuries definitely precludes any supposition of the kind.

As for the soul, this, too, is a creation of God. It is a rarified essence which He generates from matter in the human body at a certain stage in its existence. We have discussed this question fully in one of our latest works: Chasma-e-Ma’rifat. The human soul as a minute life-germ, exists in the human seed. During the changes which come over the seed in the womb, this life-germ too goes through a process of evolution. At the end of the fourth month of pregnancy, or the beginning of the fifth, a radical transformation takes place and this life-germ emerges in the form of the human soul. This transformation is referred to in the Holy Qur’an in 23:15 where in it says: 

ثُمَّ أَنشَأۡنَٰهُ خَلۡقًا ءَاخَرَ

“and then we caused it to grow into another form.”

It is a serious error to assume, as the Arya Samajists do, that the human soul is co-eternal with God. This view, when we follow all the implications, ends in a conception of God that is God only in name. The human soul is a rarified essence, created by God, that grows along with the other processes of growth in the life of man. For instance, take the fruit that grows on the goolar [1] tree. Even when unripe this fruit contains in an incomplete form, the germs of certain insects, which, with the ripening of the fruit, develop into living things, and of ten, when you break the fruit open, you can see them fly away. In addition to the goolar there are a number of other trees the fruit of which offers instances of this kind. Thus, what we perceive to be going on round us in nature supports our point of view. A truth established on the basis of observation and experience should not be ignored. In point of fact, fruits of the kind mentioned above come into being with certain germs already present in them which grow as the fruit grows in size and ripens.’

Question: ‘Those who believe in spiritualism hold that life has come down from the moon, and intelligence from Jupiter; and that the moon was made from the earth. The earth in the early stages, they say, was extremely soft, at which time a portion of it flew apart and went swimming in space, and became what we know as the moon. They hold, thus, that life really originated in this earth, from where it travelled to the moon when that fragment broke away from it, and from the moon it descends upon man. What is your view with regard to this matter ?’

Answer: ‘We recognise that the sun and the moon, and all other heavenly bodies, shed their influence upon the earth. Even when the child is in the mother’s womb, it is subject to influence. Islam does not oppose this principle and we see no reason why we should hesitate to accept it. Moonlight, undoubtedly, has great influence over vegetable life; it helps the growth of fruits and imparts sweetness to them. Some people have even heard the cracking of pomegranates as they burst open at night under the influence of moonlight. As for further and intricate details, not yet well established, we are not prepared to accept them. It is plainly stated in the Holy Qur’an that the sun and the moon and all other heavenly bodies are the servants of man and useful to him. We therefore do not hesitate to believe that we derive benefit from the heavenly bodies just as we derive benefit from vegetable life. Should it come to be proved that intelligence has some connection with Jupiter, we shall accept this view too.’

‘I used to think,’ remarked Professor Wragge at this stage, ‘that between science and religion there was some mutual contradiction and opposition, and this is the view generally held by learned men in both camps. But your conception of religion quite reconciles the two.’

‘Yes,’ continued the Promised Messiah (as), ‘this is part of our mission: We prove that there is no opposition between science and religion. The two are in complete harmony. However far science might progress, it shall never be able to falsify the teachings and the principles of Islam.’

Question: ‘In connection with soul, how should we name what is found in flies and similar other things low in the scale of life?’

Answer: ‘The soul is of three kinds: (1) the vegetable soul; (2) the animal soul; and (3) the human soul. We do not believe that all three stand on a footing of equality. Out of these it is the human soul alone that inherits full life and combines in itself the seed of all perfections. The other two forms of life possess a kind of soul, too, but that soul can in no way compare with the human soul. It is not given to them to progress so high, nor attain to such perfection as man. Between these two kinds and the human soul, if there is any degree of similarity it is so subtle that we leave the distinction to scientists. It is conceivable that there are some points of resemblance but just as externally there is evident difference between man and these lower forms of life, similarly there is vast difference between their spiritual capabilities. 

It is admitted that a crude and elementary form of sensitiveness is to be found in vegetable life. If a bamboo is planted under a roof, it continues to grow up straight until it reaches within a few inches of the roof; then it deflects the direction of its growth. Then there is the plant popularly called “touch-me-not”; the moment it is touched, its leaves contract. These facts are recorded in reliable scientific treatise and they are borne out by common observation. But questions of this kind are best left to the scientist. A layman can better utilise his time in other ways. 


[1] Indian name of a tree.