Featured

The Bondage of Sin

In the following pages we propose to point out the remedy for the devouring evil of the times. It is plain that the marvellous mate-rial progress of the world is more than counterbalanced by its deplorable spiritual decline. The souls of men have so far fallen away from their natural nobility that they eschew pure truths and shun their very contact. It seems as if some forcible energy were dragging then down with an accelerated motion into the sink of iniquity and the lowest depths of vice. Such an entire change has passed over the intellects of men that what is spiritually ugliest and most detestable is admired for the dazzling beauty of its polish. Te n d e r conscience, that inward monitor to man, feels that it is falling off from its natural purity under the demoralizing influence of some unseen p o w e r. The poison is so gen- erally spread that it has destroyed almost a whole world. Pure and noble truths are laughed at and trifled with, and a turning to God and total resignation to His will is looked upon as an absurdity. Every soul upon earth seems to be bent upon earthly cares and advantages, as if some hidden power had constrained it to that course. Such is the evil attraction of vice, and the truth is, as we have already pointed out, that there are attractions working in the world. The efficiency or inefficiency of an attraction depends upon the certainty or uncertainty of our views with regard to any matter; and if the certainty is greater, the attraction too is more power- ful. It is a principle the truth of which is no less unquestionable in the spiritual than in the material world, that an attraction can only be counterbalanced by its oppo- site, if the latter is more 39Review of Religions – June 2002 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin This article appeared in the Review of Religions, January 2002. powerful than the former. Since the world in its present state is being dragged down under the influence of an evil attraction, it can never raise itself up the level and soar into higher regions, unless an opposite and more powerful attraction from heaven overpoises the existing earthly tendencies and brings about a greater certainty in the opposite direction. To make it more clear, no change for the better can be brought about until people begin to see with certainty that there are real and more substantial and lasting advantages and delights in submission to the commandments of God than can be felt by indulging in carnal passions and evil desires, that these advantages and delights can be palpably felt in a virtuous life, and that transgression is not only equal to but worse than death. This c e r t a i n t y, when it has an entire control overt the mind, can alone be a safe protector against sin. It is further necessary that there should reign in the heart the absolute conviction that the light is granted to man from heaven only through the sun who is the I m a m ( t h e spiritual head) of his time. Hence it is that ignorance with regard to such a spiritual head is followed by a death of ignorance. The person who thinks he can do without that real source of light is deluded, for he sets himself in opposition to the unchange- able laws of God. The eyes have a light, yet to avail themselves of it they must borrow the light of the sun. The Imam resembles the sun in being the true source of all light; he comes from heaven and illumines the world, and the eye is blind that does not borrow light from him. On the other hand, the person who, with the aid of this light, stands on a firm footing of certainty is attracted towards virtue. Between the earthly and heavenly attractions a struggle would naturally follow and each will try to overcome the other. The one shall be drawing a man to virtue, the other to vice, the one to the 40 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 East and the other to the West. The more powerful the opposite attractions grow, the more fearful shall the struggle be. It is a necessary conse- quence of great material progress that these two attractions should display their highest powers. When the world has attained the highest stage of material advancement the days of heavenly advance- ments are not far. It is certain that upon the heavens also preparations are, then, being made for a spiritual refor- mation. An attraction is produced upon heavens and the two contend with each other for supremacy. Dreadful is the day when neglect and vanity reign supreme upon earth, for it is the day of vengeance and the promised day of the great spiritual struggle. That terrible struggle has been described in metaphorical language by the holy prophets of God. Some have represented it as the final struggle between the angels of heaven and the devils of the bottomless pit, at the close of which comes the end of the world; while others have from crass ignorance taken it to be a physical struggle which shall be carried on with steel and gunpowder. The latter view is, no doubt, the result of misjudgement and superficial notions, and metaphorical words describing a spiritual contest have been misconstrued as meaning a physical war. In short, a hard struggle is now going on between the darkness of earth and the light of heaven. The prophets of God from Adam to Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon then, foretold of this mighty struggle. It has leaders on both sides, the concealer of truths on the side of darkness, and the revealer of truths on the side of light. The one comes from heaven with a host of angels and is manifestation of Michael, and the other enters the lists with the powers of darkness and is an incarnation of the Devil. Now, when the inhabitants of Pandemonium are standing 41 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 fully equipped in a battle- array, and have either done or are engaged in doing their wicked deeds, we are naturally led to hope that the heavenly host is also making preparations for crushing the evil ones, and good judgement enables us to draw the conclusion that the host of heaven is not negligent of its duties. But the heavenly government is averse to hubbub and clattering and carries on its operations in solemn silence. Superficial observers can hardly be aware of its doings until a sign appears in the heavens, and a m i n a r e t (light-house) is erected upon earth, silvery white and shining with light. The heavenly light descends upon this minaret which then enlightens the whole world. The closing remarks of the last paragraph require to be explained. The spiritual sys- tem notwithstanding its coincidence in all prominent points with the physical world, displays certain peculiar marks which a superficial observer cannot detect in the latter. An instance of this is to be found in the way in which the earthly attraction becomes the premium mobile of heavenly attraction, although the two are directly opposed to each other. It is therefore reason- able to assert that at a time when both these attractions shall act in their full force – in the last days of the world’s h i s t o r y, when material progress shall have attained the highest stage – the two attractions shall contend with each other for supremacy, for true success is not attained unless the enemy is destroyed. Where therefore the two rivals are equally thriving and powerful, the contest must necessarily be a hard one, for each one of the rivals has at heart the destruction of the other. Reason therefore also supports the prophetic utter- ings of all the great patriarchs and prophets in as much as the struggle between good and evil is the necessary conse- quence of the collision of the two rival forces, of which either one must overcome the 42 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 other, or both be annihilated in the contest. According to the prophetic utterances this final contest between good and evil may be thus described that after the lapse of a thousand years from Jesus which was the millennium of the Devil’s imprisonment, an evil attraction gained ground upon earth. This was the time in the w o r l d ’s history when the Muslims had renounced the true and noble principles of Islam, and therefore that religion was in a declining state. Its spiritual progress had at that time been hampered and its conquests had come to an end. It was born in the days when the author of evil lay in chains in the bottomless pit. Its rise and decline at these two periods was necessary that what the prophets and last of all St. John had spoken, might be fulfilled. It was therefore in fulfilment of these predictions that the religion of Islam began to decline after a thousand years from Jesus, and its further progress was then and there checked. Satanic movements and operations thenceforth assumed different shapes and appeared in many-coloured garments. The tree of evil took root in the ground and ramified to an enormous extent. Some of its branches spread into the East, others reached the uttermost settlements of the West, and not a few shaded the North and the South. No corner of the world was spared the evil. But the time during which the Devil had been let loose was like the time of his imprisonment limited to a thousand years, and the prophets of God bore testi- mony to the same effect. With the close of the thirteenth century, […after Hijra…], the period of Satan’s freedom came to an end. For it must be noticed that in the computation of periods of prophecies we must start with the lunar year as our basis, this system of reckoning the prophetic periods being taught by Almighty God to both Jews and Muhammadans. The solar 43 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 year is an innovation of man, and therefore being against the sacred Scriptures of these two religions, cannot be applied in reckoning prophetic times. In short, the days in which we are living mark the termination of the respite granted to Satan. The period for which he was set at liberty has come to an end ; but as he does not like that his freedom be restrained and his authority taken away, a struggle between the good and evil attractions must naturally be the result. It had been so ordained from the beginning and the Words of God cannot pass away. Other facts also uphold the same view, v i z., that the thousand years of Satan’s supremacy have come to an end, and we are now living in the millennium of God’s reign and the dawn of it has already appeared. The sixth thousand from the appearance of Adam has come to a close, and the seventh, in which the second Adam should have appeared, has begun. God made Adam on the sixth day, and the sacred Scriptures further bear testimony to the fact that a day is equal to a thousand years with the Lord. The promises of God, therefore, make it absolutely necessary that the second Adam must have been born already, although not recognized as yet by the world. We cannot further avoid the conclusion that the place fixed by God for the appearance of the second Adam must be in the East and not in the West, for from genesis II:8 we learn that God had put the first Adam in a garden e a s t w o r d. It is therefore necessary that the second Adam should appear in the east, in order to have a resemblance with the first in respect of his locality. This conclusion is equally binding upon the Christians and the Muhammadans, if they admit the authority of their Scriptures and are not of an atheistic turn of mind. The way has been smoothed for a clear understanding of the true facts. The spiritual 44 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 atmosphere of the world is overcast with dense clouds of darkness and the time has come when light should shoot out its beams and dispel the overhanging gloom. But it is vain to expect that the dim torches lighted by earthly hands should penetrate the darkness visible. Only clear and radiant heavenly light can drive it away. Pitchy darkness has overshadowed the world, and the faint and flickering lamp of righteousness is ready to die out. Traditional beliefs, unfruitful knowledge and formal prayers cannot bring back the light. The blind cannot lead the blind, nor is it possible that darkness should dispel darkness. A new minaret is now needed which should raise its head far above the low huts made by earthly hands, so that heavenly light may descend upon it and the celestial lamp enlighten its top and thence shed its pure lustre upon the whole world. The higher the minaret is, the farther shall the light reach and thus illuminate distant corners of the world. It remains to be explained what a m i n a r (minaret) is. Minaret is the name given to the pure, hallowed, noble and magnanimous spirit granted by God to the perfect man by reason of which he gets his l i g h t from heaven-an idea existing in the literal signification of the word. The loftiness of the minaret represents the magnanimity of the soul of the perfect man, its firmness stands for the constancy and determination which he shows at the time of the greatest trials, and its whiteness is a symbol of his guiltlessness which is ultimately establishes. When the perfect man has passed through all these stages and undergone all these trails, when his magnanimity, con- s t a n c y, patience and deter- mination shine forth in their full glory and his innocence is established with conclusive arguments, then is the time of his advent in glory, and the period of his first advent, which was a time of trials and persecutions, comes to an end. Then does the holy spirit 45 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 invested with the glory of God descend upon his person, and the Divine attribute of glory is manifested in him. All this takes place in his second appearance. The same reality underlies the peculiar manner of the advent of the Promised Messiah. The Muslims hold that he shall descend near a minaret. The descent spoken of in that tradition really stands for his advent in glory which shall be accompanied with a manifestation of the Divine power and attributes. It does not exclude the idea of his previous presence upon the earth, but it is necessary that the heavens should hold him so long as the appointed time of God does not arrive. It is also an unchangeable Divine law that spiritual realities are symbolized by physical emblems. The temple at Jerusalem and the Ca’ba at Mecca are illustrations of the same law and represent the manifestations of Divine glory. The same explanation holds good in the case of the tradition which describes the descent of the Pr o m i s e d Messiah upon or about a minaret in a country to the east of Damascus. The word ‘east’ should be especially noted, for Adam also had been put in a garden east-ward. The object of the prophecy is in no way interfered with so long as the minaret is built before the glorious advent of the promised one, for it appears from the prophetic utterances that the minaret is to be a sign that shall indicate his advent in full glory. It had been ordained that the Pr o m i s e d Messiah should appear in the world in two characters. At first he shall come as an ordinary person suffering under trials and persecutions of every sort. When the days of suffering are over, then shall be the time of his advent in full glory. It is before that time that the minaret must be completed, for it appears from the traditions that a minaret must stand as a symbol of the r e a l i t y, and it shall be a physical picture of the spiritual minaret to which we 46 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 have before referred. The world shall not recognise him before his glorious advent for he is not of the world. Nor shall the world love him, for he comes from God whom the world does not love. It is therefore necessary that he should be abused, persecuted and charged with all manner of crime. The Islamic prophecies testify that the Pr o m i s e d Messiah shall not be accepted in the beginning. On the other hand, he shall be subjected to malignant and bitter treat- ment from the ignorant and to oppression and outrage from the mischief-makers. A man shall do violence to him and think that he has done a deed of virtue, another shall do him injury and regard his deed as most pleasing in the sight of God. Thus shall he suffer and undergo every trail and face every difficulty till the coming of the appointed time of God and the fulfilment of the Divine law of persecution against prophets. Then shall come the time of his glory. Capable hearts shall have their eyes opened and they shall begin to think of him with unprejudiced minds. ‘Can this be a liar’, they shall say, ‘who cannot be subdued and crushed.’ What is the reason,” they shall reason with themselves ‘“that Divine assistance is without intermission granted to him and never to us.’ The inspiring angel of God shall then descend upon their hearts and admonish them that every one of the circumstances related in the traditions which had been a hindrance in the way of their acceptance, need not occur to the very letter. It was possible – nay highly probable – that some of those traditions were errors and fabrications and others were couched in metaphorical language and could not be fulfilled literally. What was the cause of the misfortune of the Jews in rejecting Jesus? Nothing but that they waited till every word of prophecy should have been fulfilled in a literal sense, and exactly according to their own notions of it. But their expectation was vain and their hope a delusion. With 47 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002 that Divine law before them and with the God of their fathers above their heads, the opponents of God’s messen- gers should consider lest they were tried by God in the same manner as the rejecters of the prophets before them. In short, such considerations, when duly weighed, shall at last turn their minds to accept the rejected and suffering messenger of heaven, as was the case with the prophets of by gone times. There is not the least truth in the assertion that it is the time for resorting to the sword and gun for spreading the true religion and righteousness. The sword, far from revealing the beauties and excellences of truth, makes them dubious and throws them into the background. Those who hold such views are not the friends of Islam but its deadly foes. They have low motives, mean natures, poor spirits, narrow minds, dull brains and short sight. It is they who open the way to an objection against Islam, the validity of which cannot be questioned. They hold that Islam needs the sword for its advancement and thus brand its purity and cast a slur upon its holy name. The religion that can easily establish its truth and superiority by sound intellec- tual arguments, heavenly signs or other reliable testimony, does not need the sword to threaten men and force a confession of its truth from them. Religion is worth the name only so long as it is in consonance with reason. If it fails to satisfy that requisite, if it has to make up for its discomfiture in argument by handling the sword, it needs no other argument for its falsification. The sword it wields cuts its own throat before reaching others’. 48 How to Get Rid of the Bondage of Sin Review of Religions – June 2002

Tags