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. The Promised Messiah (as) continues to describe the types of grace, before numbering the different verities about the attributes of Allah.
Extracts from The Essence of Islam – Vol. I, 72-82.
This is the fourth of a multi-part series.
The third type of grace is special grace. The difference between this and general grace is that in the case of the general grace, a beneficiary is not under obligation to make himself good, or to bring his ego out of the coverings of darkness, or to put forward any effort to take advantage of it. By virtue of general grace, God Almighty bestows upon every animate being all that it needs according to its nature without asking and without any effort on its part. But in the case of special grace, striving and effort, purification of the heart and supplication, attention towards God and all kinds of appropriate efforts are needed. He alone receives this grace who seeks it and this grace descends upon one who works for it. The existence of this grace is also proved by observation of the law of nature. It is obvious that those who strive in the cause of God and those who are indifferent cannot be equal. Without doubt, a special mercy descends upon people who strive truly in the cause of God and withdraw from every darkness and disorder. By virtue of this grace, in the Holy Qur’an, God’s name is Rahim. Because the attribute of Rahimiyyat is special and follows upon the fulfilment of certain conditions, it is mentioned after Rahmaniyyat, for Rahmaniyyat was manifested before Rahimiyyat manifested itself. On account of this natural order Rahimiyyat is mentioned after Rahmaniyyat in Surah al-Fatihah and Allah the Exalted says:
ٱلرَّحۡمٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ 
This attribute is mentioned at several places in the Holy Qur’an. For instance, at one place it is said:
وَكَانَ بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا 
This means that God’s Rahimiyyat is confined to the believers and that a disbeliever and a rebellious one have no share in it.
It is worthy of note that the operation of the attribute of Rahimiyyat has been confined to the case of believers, but Rahmaniyyat is not so limited. Nowhere is it stated that God is Rahman towards believers. The mercy which is specially related to the believers is always described as Rahimiyyat. At another place it is said:
إِنَّ رَحۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ قَرِيبٌٌ مِّنَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ 
The Rahimiyyat of Allah is close to those who do their duty to the utmost.
At another place it is said:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَٱلَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَٰهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ يَرۡجُونَ رَحۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورُُ رَّحِيمُُ
Those who believed and migrated from their homes or shed their selfish desires, and strove in the path of Allah hope for His mercy, for Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. This means that His Rahimiyyat is certainly bestowed upon those who deserve it. There is no one who seeks Him and does not find Him.
عاشق کہ شد کہ یار بحالش نظر نہ کرد
اے خواجہ درد نیست وگرنہ طبیب ہست 
The fourth kind of grace is the most special one. This grace cannot be achieved merely by striving and effort. The first condition for its manifestation is that this world of means which is narrow and dark should be demolished altogether and the full power of the Lord of unity should manifest its perfect brilliance nakedly without the intrusion of other means. This last degree of grace where all other graces end, is distinguished from other graces by being perfect in the sense that it is open and clear and there is no covertness or deficiency in respect of it. That is to say, there should be no doubt left with regard to the determined bestowal of this grace, nor with regard to the reality and pure and perfect mercy of this grace. The generosity of and the rewarding by the Eternal Master, the Bestower of the grace, should appear as bright as the day. The recipient of this grace should know with certainty and should feel it as a matter which is patent that the Master of the kingdom is bestowing a grand bounty, and great delight upon him by His determination, attention and special power. And that for his righteous conduct he is receiving the reward which is perfect and everlasting, most clear and superior, most desirable and loved, and that there is no aspect of a test or trial involved.
To become the beneficiary of that complete, perfect, lasting and superior grace, it is necessary that the person concerned should be transported to another world from this defective, opaque, narrow, confined, mortal and doubtful world, because this grace is an experience of grand manifestations in which the beauty of the true Benefactor should be clearly seen and should be experienced as a certainty, so that no stage of manifestation and certainty should be left out and no veil of material means should obstruct it. Every detail of complete understanding should come into operation in full force. The manifestations should be so clear and definite that God Himself should convey that they are free from every test and trial. This manifestation should carry with it high and perfect delights possessing so completely one’s heart and soul and every spiritual and physical faculty to such a degree as could not possibly be exceeded.
This world which is defective in its essence, clouded in its appearance, mortal in its being, doubtful in its conditions, and narrow in its extent, cannot bear these grand manifestations. Pure lights and eternal bounties, and those perfect rays which are everlasting cannot be contained in it. For this manifestation, another world is needed which should be wholly free from the darkness of material means and should be the perfect and pure manifestation of the power of the One Supreme Being.
This most special grace is to some degree enjoyed in this very life by those perfect personalities who tread completely along the path of truth and, discarding their selfish designs and desires, lean wholly towards God. They die before their death, and though they appear to be in this world, they in truth dwell in the other world. Inasmuch as they withdraw their hearts altogether from the material means of this world, breaking away from the habits of humanness and turning away altogether from that which is beside Allah, adopt the way which is above the ordinary. God Almighty treats them in the same way and, in an extraordinary manner, manifests those lights for them which in the case of the others are only manifested after death. They experience to some degree this most special grace in this life.
This is a very special grace and is the ultimate end of all graces. He who achieves it arrives at the greatest good fortune and enjoys eternal prosperity which is the fountainhead of all joys. He who is deprived of this grace is condemned forever to hell. By virtue of this grace, God Almighty has named Himself Malik-i-Yaum-id-Din in the Holy Qur’an. The recompense referred to in this juxtaposition is the perfect recompense, the details of which are set out in the Holy Qur’an. That perfect recompense cannot be manifested without the manifestation of complete Mastership. This is referred to at another place where it is said:
لِّمَنِ ٱلۡمُلۡكُ ٱلۡيَوۡمَ ۖ لِلَّهِ ٱلۡوَٰحِدِ ٱلۡقَهَّارِ
This means that: On that day God’s Rububiyyat will manifest itself without the intervention of material means and it will be observed and felt that everything besides the great power and might of Allah is non-existent. Then all comfort and joy, and all reward and punishment, will appear clearly as coming from God. There will be no veil in between and there will be no room left for any doubt. At that time, those who had cut themselves asunder from everything for His sake will find themselves in a state of perfect bliss which will envelope their bodies and souls, their outside and inside, and no part of their beings will be deprived of this great good fortune. Malik-i-Yaum-id-Din also indicates that on that day comfort or suffering and pleasure or pain, whatever is experienced by man, will proceed directly from God Almighty, and He will be the Master of all conditions. In other words, meeting with Him or being cut off from Him will be the cause of eternal good fortune or eternal misfortune. Those who had believed in Him, adhered to unity and had dyed their hearts in His pure love, will experience the lights of His mercy clearly and openly; and those who had not achieved faith and love of God will be deprived of this delight and comfort and will be involved in painful torment. It will thus be seen that the priority given to the attribute Rahman over the attribute Rahim is necessary and is demanded by the rule of good composition. When the book of nature is studied, the first attribute of God which comes to notice is Rububiyyat, then His Rahmaniyyat, and thereafter His Rahimiyyat and finally His Malikiyyat. Perfect composition demands that the order followed in the book of nature should also be kept in view in the revealed book. To reverse the natural order in composition is to reverse the law of nature. For a perfect composition it is necessary that the order of the composition should be in such accord with the order of nature as if it were its photograph in which that which is natural and in fact prior should be prior in description also. Thus in these verses the highest eloquence is displayed in which the natural order is perfectly observed. The verses follow the order which everyone possessing insight would observe in the order of the universe. Is this not the straightforward way that the order in which divine bounties appear in the book of nature should be followed also in the revealed book? To take exception to such an excellent and wise order is the characteristic of those blind ones who have lost at once both their sight and their insight.
چشم بد اندیش کہ بدکندہ باد
عیب نماید ہنرش در نظر
We revert to the subject and proceed to expound what is set out in Surah al-Fatihah from Rabb-ul-‘Alamin to Malik-i-Yaum-id-Din. As expounded in the Holy Qur’an, it comprises four grand verities:
The first verity is that God Almighty is Rabb-ul-‘Alamin, that is to say, that God is the Rabb and Master of all that which is in the universe. All that appears, is seen, felt or perceived by reason, is His creation, and that true existence belongs only to God Almighty and to nothing else. In short, the universe with all its components is created and is the creation of God. There is nothing in the components of the universe which is not the creation of God. Through His perfect Rububiyyat God Almighty controls and rules over every particle of the universe.
His Rububiyyat is in operation all the time. It is not that after having created the world God has withdrawn from its control and that He has committed it to the law of nature so that He Himself does not intervene in any way. It is not like the maker of a machine who has no concern with it after it has been made. The creations of the True Maker are not unconnected with Him. The Rabb-ul-‘Alamin exercises His perfect Rububiyyat all the time over the whole universe and the rain of His Rububiyyat falls perpetually upon the whole universe. At no time is the universe deprived of the benefit of His grace. Even after the creation of the universe, that Source of Grace is needed every moment, without interruption, as if He had not yet created anything. As the world depended upon His Rububiyyat for its coming into being, it is equally dependent upon it for its continuation and sustenance. It is He Who supports the world every moment and every particle of the universe is kept fresh and flourishing because of Him. He exercises His Rububiyyat in respect of everything by His will and intent. It is not as if His Rububiyyat were exercised in respect of anything without His intent. In short, this verity means that everything in the universe is created and is dependent upon the Rububiyyat of God Almighty in respect of all its excellences and conditions, at all times. There is no spiritual or physical excellence which any created thing can acquire on its own without the determination of the Absolute Controller. Besides, it is latent in this and other verities that the divine attributes, such as Rabb-ul-‘Alamin etc., are special to Him and that none else is associated with Him in that respect. The opening phrase of the Surah, namely,
Alhamdu lillah, makes it clear that all worthiness of praise belongs to God alone.
The second verity is Rahman, which follows upon Rabb-ul-‘Alamin. We have already explained that all animate beings, whether gifted with reason or not, good or bad, have been furnished and continue to be furnished with all that is needed for their maintenance, preservation of life, and the continuation of their species out of the general mercy of God Almighty. This is an absolute bounty that does not depend upon anyone’s actions.
The third verity is Rahim, which follows after Rahman. This means that, as demanded by His mercy, God Almighty brings about good results in consequence of the efforts of His creatures. He forgives the sins of those who repent. He bestows upon those who ask. He opens for those who knock.
The fourth verity is Malik-i-Yaum-id-Din. This means that God Almighty is the Master of all perfect recompense which is free from all test and trial and the intervention of beguiling means and is purified of all uncleanness and is free from doubt and defect and is a manifestation of His great powers. He does not lack the power to make manifest His perfect recompense, which is as bright as the day. The manifestation of this grand verity has as its purpose to make the following matters clear to everyone as a certainty.
First, that reward and punishment are a certainty, which are imposed upon His creatures by the True Master as the result of His special determination. This matter is not possible of exposition in this world for it is not clear to the average person why and wherefore does he experience good or ill, and comfort or pain. No one hears the voice out of whatever he experiences that this is the recompense of his deeds, nor does anyone observe or feel that whatever he is passing through is the consequence of his actions.
Secondly, the exposition is desired that material means are irrelevant and that it is the Grand Being or God Who is the fountainhead of all grace and the Master of all recompense.
Thirdly, it is desired to expound what is great good fortune and what is great misfortune. Great good fortune is that condition of supreme triumph in which light, joy, pleasure, and comfort encompass the inside and outside, the body and soul, of a person, and no limb or faculty is left out. The great misfortune is the torment which, in consequence of disobedience, impurity, distance and separation, is set ablaze in the hearts and envelopes the bodies so that the whole being feels like being on fire and in hell.
These manifestations cannot be observed in this world because this narrow, constricted and opaque world, which puts on the mantle of physical means and is in an imperfect condition, cannot bear their being made manifest. This world is subject to tests and trials and its comfort and its pain are both temporary and defective. Whatever a person experiences in this life is under the veil of physical means which hide the countenance of the Master of recompense. Thus this world cannot be the true and perfect and open day of recompense. The true, perfect and open Day of Judgement or of Recompense will be the world which will follow this one. That world will be the place of the grand manifestation and of the demonstration of glory and beauty. Whatever hardship or ease, comfort or pain, sorrow or joy, is experienced by people in this world is not necessarily attributable to God’s bounty or His wrath. For instance, anyone’s being rich is not a conclusive proof that God is pleased with him, nor is anyone’s poverty or privation proof that God Almighty is displeased with him. Both these are a trial so that a wealthy one may be tried in respect of his wealth and a poor one may be tried in respect of his poverty. These verities are set out in detail in the Holy Qur’an.
—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 444-461, footnote 11
 ‘The Gracious, the Merciful.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 2:3.
 ‘And He is Merciful to the believers.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 33:44.
 ‘Surely, the mercy of Allah is nigh unto those who do good.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 7:57.
 The Holy Qur’an, 2:219.
 ‘What kind of a lover is he towards whom the Beloved does not incline? O my master, what is lacking is pain, for the Physician is available.’
 The Holy Qur’an, 40:17.
 ‘The eye of the ill-wisher, wherever it lands; Is prone to see evil even where there is good.’
 ‘Allah – there is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth.’
– The Holy Qur’an, 2:256.