A Century Ago

The Review of Religions has been started by the Anjuman- i-Isha’at-i-Islam, Qadian, and shall be issued from Qadian on the 20th of every month. Its objects are stated further on. It starts with the solution of the all-important question of ‘How to get rid of the bondage of Sin.’ (Please see Review of Religions June 2002). It offers not only an impartial review of the various religions in sifting truth from error, but also the solution of the vital questions for which religion exists and upon which it is founded. It further undertakes to refute all objections against Islam, the Holy Qur’an and the noble Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of God be upon him. For this purpose, the Editor shall be glad to receive all such objections for which sufficient grounds are stated, and an answer to these shall appear from time to time in the pages of the Magazine. We are further bound to state that in setting before us the grand and all absorbing object of revolutionising the existing forms of religion, and in understanding the tremendous responsibility of pointing out the true method for release from the bondage of sin and breathing into the seekers after truth the spirit which would invigorate them to act upon the principles of truth, we would have undertaken a 3Review of Religions – July 2002 A Century Ago Reproduced from the archives obtained from Khilafat Library Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Rabwah. From the Review of Religions, [Vol 1 No 1: January 1902] the longest running English Magazine of the Islamic world. Adapted with the least amount of re-editing (mainly punctuation marks and shortening of sentences and explanatory words in square parenthesis). Under the heading: ‘PROSPECTUS’ the Editor of the Review of Religions swings into uncharted territory by stating the objectives of the Magazine: task quite beyond our power or that of any mortal, had it not been for the guidance vouchsafed to us in this matter by the All-Wise and All- Powerful God through the foundation of the heavenly mission known as the Ahmadiyyah Ahmadiyyat Ahmadiyyah. This [movement] has been established by the hand of God in accordance with His eternal and unchangeable laws. A Messenger has come from heaven when all eyes had been looking up to it in the expectation of his appearance. The Prophets of God had spoken of this time and the sacred writings gave the glad tidings of the holy man from the east in the latter days. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whom God has chosen to be His Messiah, has come in fulfilment of the prophecies given to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Where and for what purpose this sun of right- eousness has arisen, we shall state elsewhere. Here we wish only to point out that in almost every number of the Magazine we shall be able to give translations of his learned and masterly expositions of dif- ferent religious questions. Contributions from the pens of other learned writers shall, however, not be excluded from its pages, and the Editor shall feel obliged to receive contributions from all gentle- men, of whatever persuasion, who have any sympathy for the objects with which this Magazine is started. We do not start the Magazine as a speculative venture but with the sincere object of doing our duty to man. Nothing but the tottering condition of religion has aroused us to undertake this heavy respon- sibility. We are conscious that the Magazine shall not suit the taste of gentlemen whose religious prejudice does not allow [them] to consider if there is error in the religion they profess or [any] truth in any one of the systems to which the rest of mankind adheres. We have started it to 4 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 satisfy the search after truth and we do not care for the approbation or disapprobation of any particular sect. There is not a single instance in history in which abuse has not been hurled at the man who proclaimed the truth. Not one of the prophets and reformers is an exception to this rule. Human nature has not undergone any such alteration as to make us expect any other treatment, but we will in true sincerity advise every seeker after truth and well-wisher of humanity to weigh our reasons before forming an opinion against us. The Object of this Magazine Our object in starting the Review of Religions is twofold. Firstly, to draw the world to truth, viz., to teach true morals, to inculcate true beliefs, to disseminate true knowledge, and last though not least, to make men act upon the principles of truth ordained. Secondly, to draw them with magnetism so mighty in [attraction] that it may create in them a power to act upon the doctrines taught. A d m i t t e d l y, mere knowledge of the virtues cannot make a man good. [The need] has always been felt, on the other hand, of the appearance in every age of a person who is naturally endowed with the power of drawing and elec- trifying other persons. Who is not aware of the founder of the religion which now has so large and highly- paid an episcopacy to build up the Church of Christ ‘from within, in the true faith of God, and in holiness of life,’ supported by thousands of philosophers? It squanders wealth like water in employing millions of missionaries to gain fresh adherents. Yet, not- withstanding its plentiful of resources, the absence of true magnetism which was the vital force in its conquest over sin in the days of its founder, makes Christianity [appear like] a ‘dead log’ devoid of true worth. One would seek in vain in so-called Christian countries that purity of soul and right- eousness of heart that the 5 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 Gospels taught. The large cities of Europe and America are, to put it mildly, theatres where horrible and odious scenes of obscenity and debauchery are commonly represented. Were it possible for Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, to rise from among the dead and witness the state of millions who call themselves the flock of Christ, it would indeed strike him with wonder. The generation of people whose lawlessness knows no bound, who have abandoned themselves to passions of the flesh, and who are over- charged with the cares of the world, go by his name and claim to follow in his footsteps. It cannot be denied then that the fold of Christ today is walking in a path different from that in which it walked in the days when the presence of its holy keeper exercised its wholesome influence over it. What is the reason of for this marked difference? What causes have led to this change for the worse? Why is it that the vast majority of the professing Christians, depart- ing from paths of purity and righteousness, have taken to licentiousness, intemperance, luxury and bestiality? What has led the people who were told to ‘take no thought for the m o r r o w,’ and ‘lay not up treasures upon earth’ to hanker after earthly advan- tage and the amassing of wealth? How are we to account for the depth of immorality and the existence of hundreds of thousands of harlots amongst a people whose Book contained the plain injunction that ‘whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart?’ Where are we to seek for that purity and chastity upon which Jesus, peace be upon him, laid so much stress? Is it in the people among whom the man who commits adultery with an unmarried woman is not deemed guilty of a crime, but if he marries her, he is a criminal? Is this the morality of Christianity? Can the pure 6 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 conscience of a man bear witness that this was the purport of the teachings of Jesus, peace be upon him? Were the elect of God and the holy messengers of heaven, whom He appointed to teach truth and purity to generations of men, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon, peace be upon them all, who stuck to polygamy to their very death, guilty in the sight of the Lord? Is the wholesale debauchery and excessive drinking of Christian Europe in accordance with what Jesus, peace be upon him, taught? Do Christians follow the injunctions of their Master who told them to turn the left cheek when smitten on the right? Are these not matters of the deepest concern? What factor causes the result to be so different? What is the cause of the total failure of Christianity as a reforming agency? Is it not true that it is all owing to the absence of the holy personage who worked so wonderful a transformation in the apostles? Jesus, peace be upon him, its is true, has not ascended to heaven, and his sacred body lies entombed1 in the sacred soil of Khan Yar Street in Srinagar, Kashmir, as we shall show elsewhere in the pages of this Magazine. It is equally true that the magnetism and the trans- forming power that came with his person into the world has long since disappeared and ascended to the heavens. It is also written in the sacred writings that the magnetism shall once more descend upon earth in another manifestation which, on account of the identity of the motive force, shall be looked upon as the Second Coming 2 of the Messiah. But these are things to which only passing reference can be made here, their full discussion being reserved for another place. Here we wish only to point out that books are not sufficient to impress upon the heart moral and spiritual virtues, nor is power granted to a man for the performance of deeds of virtue through their sole agency. 7 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 Release from the bondage of sin and the slavery of passion cannot also be effected by preachers who are themselves slaves to their passions. They go out preaching virtue and righteousness in the streets, but when alone in their homes, take a glass too much and lie intoxicated till late in the day. The fact is that none can inspire a heavenly life and enable human beings to soar to the heavens but only he who comes from heaven. He who sees, can alone show to others and he who comes himself purified and transformed, can alone purify and transform the human race. The secret of God’s existence is a deep one, and he only can break the seal who, cleansed of all impu- rities, leads a pure life. This again brings us face to face with the question, how to be enfranchised from the bondage of sin, and how to get out of the impurities of life? There is only one answer to this all-important question. Such a regeneration can only be effected by the one who comes with a magnetism from heaven, who on account of the extreme purity of his soul and the surpassing cleanliness of his heart is metaphorically called a manifestation of the D e i t y. He removes the poi- sonous matters, gives the elixir vitae in their stead, burns the carnal passions and low motives of worldly life and ennobles the soul with the pure and exalted divine morals. Look at the sun and the moon: each new day requires a new appearance of the glorious orb of light. The holy one that rose in the days of Pilate among the Jews was, no doubt, a sun of right- eousness, but only so long as his magnetism attracted the hearts and his light worked a heavenly transformation in the souls of his followers. He is now a sun but one that has passed below the horizon. The radiant light which shone from his face and the brilliant lustre which he cast around him is shorn of its beams and grown quite obscure, not the least trace of it being visible among those that call themselves 8 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 after his name. The holy one that sheds such light is not and cannot be God, but there is no doubt that he is one with God and his soul is in constant and close communion with God. He is the fountainhead of the divine powers, and the rare and hidden manifestations of the powers of the Almighty which are not generally disclosed, are revealed through him. Such persons are called the manifestations, ‘incarnations’ and represen- tatives of God. In the manifestation of the divine powers they sit on the throne of God’s glory. God is One and without any partner or rival, but persons of this type, the elect of God, whom the world has seen, may be counted by thousands. We may see a single face reflected in a thousand looking-glasses, and yet there are not really a thousand faces but only one face of which there are so many reflections. This world is a grand reflector; in other words, it is a place of glasses for the reflection of the ‘face’ of God and the face of Satan. God, so to speak, stands against some of the mirrors and therefore the ‘image’ of God is seen in them. Against others, Satan makes his appearance and his likeness is consequently witnessed in them. But from these reflections it should not be imagined that the images are so many different gods. There are thousands of the mani- festations of God, and thousands of those of the Devil. To allow multiplicity in the manifestations of the evil one and to limit those of the Deity to a single one, is both irreverent and unjustifiable. God made Adam in His image and after His likeness, and the Prince of the Devils manifested himself in the person of Cain. The manifestations of the Deity and the Devil have since then been appearing in the world, and therefore it is unreasonable to assert that in the whole world and during all ages there has been but a single manifestation of God. Every age stands in need of new light and a new repre- 9 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 sentative. Whenever this light grows dim in a people and the influence of a heavenly magnetiser is not felt among them, they bend down solely to the earth and its mean cares. They are carried away by the current of carnal desires and drown in a flood of sins and impurities, unable to get out of it. History bears strong evidence to it. As already stated, the vast difference between the spiritual conditions of those followers of Christ amongst whom he lived and taught and the Christians of today, points to the same conclusion. With the death of a great Teacher and his apostles, there came a change over the people, and as the distance of time from the great Founder increased, the faith in God gradually lessened and their moral condition became worse and worse. Such has been the lot of Christianity; and Islam, although in some respects it has fared better, presents a similar history. The mighty and powerful magnetism of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of God be upon him, ennobled the souls of his Companions not only so far as to make them bow to the glory of the Eternal and Living God instead of images and creatures. He exchanged their false religions for the truth concerning God. But at the same time, he breathed into them the soul which annihilated all their passions for and hankering after the world and its advantages. They saw God and sacrificed their lives in His way with such zeal and resigned themselves so completely to His will that each one of them was an Abraham, peace be upon him, in his relation towards God. The great and noble deeds they did with true sincerity, to declare the glory of the Living God and blot out the false dignity of the images from the hearts of men, are unpar- alleled in the history of the world. Their sincerity was blessed by the Lord and achieved for them successes in the conquest of countries. When we consider on the one 10 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 hand the darkness which spread over Arabia and the unbelief and image-worship which disgraced the whole country, and cast a glance, on the other hand, at the transformed peninsula and its sons after the Companions of the Prophet(sa) had done their part in the cause of their benighted countrymen, we are obliged to confess that a new spirit of truth and zeal had been breathed into them. The holy zeal and sanctity of the Prophet, may God pour His eternal blessings upon him, exercised its saintly influence over them. They shunned every vice and transgression as if they stood in the awesome presence of God’s majesty. Their only ambition was to vie with one another in virtue and goodness. Such was the right- eousness of the Companions of the Holy Prophet of Islam, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Nearest to them in sanctity and virtue was the generation that followed them. Even the people who saw and learnt from the followers of the Companions of the Holy Prophet(sa), was so pre-eminent in righteousness compared with the generality of the following generations that the third generation could have hardly recognised sub- sequent generations as following the precepts of Islam. What was the reason of this? It is the same that we described in the case of the change that passed over Christianity. The time in which they lived was so remote from the time of the great magnetiser that they hardly felt the influence that had operated upon the Companions, or those that were directly or indirectly their disciples. Hence they could not abide by the righteousness which so eminently distinguished the first three generations of Islam. Notwithstanding this change that has passed over Islam, we evidently find the Muslims ‘superior’ to the Christians in four respects. Firstly, they 11 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 believe in the one living and true God, and do not worship or deify creatures. Secondly, intoxication which is the root of all evils the great enemy of all good morals, is so rare among them that, compared with the wholesale drunken- ness of Christian nations, they may be declared to be relatively free from the pestilence. Thirdly, the great Christian vice of gambling is also comparatively rare among them. Fourthly, God has protected their men and women from the wide spread of prostitution that forms a sad feature of the Christian communities. This difference is to be attributed to the appearance in different ages among the Muslims of reformers who draw people to virtue. It is, however, true that in the intervals when such reformers were not to be found in their midst, their righteousness and love for God have also been on the wane. All these facts point to but one conclusion. For the true refor- mation of the world, it is of the first importance that when one great magnetiser has passed away from the world and over time his influence too is not felt over hearts, another magnetiser should appear. The succeeding magnetiser should re-establish the influence which vanished away with the lapse of time, and draw the souls of all those who unite themselves with him towards spiritual and moral progress in the same way as the steam- engine draws the carriages that are annexed to it. In short, this principle is the key to the guidance of mankind. It is established by the combined evidence of all the prophets and messengers of God that regeneration can only be effected by one whom Heaven has granted the magnetism to draw all people into one society and one fold. He establishes and strengthens a twofold relation in them: (1) close communion with God and complete resignation to His will, and (2) mutual relationship which establishes a brotherhood among men in the true sense of the word. 12 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 It is clear from these remarks that there must be some peculiarity in the person of the magnetiser who works a pure transformation among his followers and draws people towards truth by the power nature has granted him. From the word of God we learn what that peculiarity is. It tells us that the man who guides people to the path of truth and virtue combines two excel- lences in his person. Firstly, his love towards God is so deep that his own person- ality is consumed in the fire of love, and the Divine lights attract him with their own pale. His person becomes a manifestation of the Di v i n e attributes in the same way as iron under the heat of fire becomes like fire. The first stage is that in which his soul feeling aversion to the sensual worldly life is naturally inclined to get out of darkness. He, therefore, breaks off all bonds that could keep him tied to darkness and removes every obstacle that could keep him away from God. His soul is freed from the trammels of earthly passion and cleansed of faithlessness, vanity, self- ishness, the fear or hope of others than God and regard for o n e ’s own ends when pretending to serve God, which is the root of all evils and low motives. Thus relieved of every weight and freed from every obstruction, his soul soars higher and higher towards its Creator, and flowing like a drop of water, at last attains the desired proximity to that ocean of existence and is fully invested with the divine morals. The result of this complete union is that as God in His very nature loves man and provides for his good, so does the transformed and perfect man naturally love his fellow-beings. Such a man has at heart their well-being in this world and the next, and this is the excellence which he possesses. For sympathy with man, he is granted a simple heart free from cunning and craft. When he speaks, it is only out of sympathy for man and for his guidance, and not under the fear of losing or the 13 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 vain desire of being able to sustain well a part in a religious controversy. He is granted the Divine attributes of true Providence, Mercy and Justice. Divine morals are represented within him as a reflection, through the mirror of his pure and transparent nature. In this sense, he really becomes a substitute or representative of God upon earth. When the perfect man reaches this stage, God, Who does not waste any energy or capacity in man, seeing in him the admirable qualities of sympathy and philanthropy, charges him with the message towards the people that delivering them from sensu- ousness he may lead them to a higher and spiritual life. The Holy Qur’an refers to this in the verse Ch.53, Vs.9-10, i.e. the perfect man upon whom the revelation of the Qur’an was sent down, became so near to God that vested with divine morals, he was sent back [to mankind] with the mission of deliv-erance to the world. As his nature was gifted in the highest degree with two forms of zeal, viz., a zeal for the love of God, and a zeal for sympathy with mankind. Therefore, the chord of his soul fell within these two arcs. Just as the chord which is common to two arcs, being semicircles, the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, occupies a position bearing the same relation to God as to man. His spiritual position is therefore intermediate between the Creator and the created. In brief, this is the real philosophy of God sending His vicegerents upon the earth. No prophet was ever charged by the Almighty with the message of reforming the world unless he had attained the perfection to which reference has above been made. The assertion that the prophets of God were themselves involved in sin and darkness and therefore not able to release others from the bondage of sin, is both erroneous and irreverent. Even worldly governments cannot take such a foolish step as to entrust the administration of a 14 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 portion of their territory to incompetent and unprincipled governors who, instead of doing anything for the welfare of the country, should lead them to certain ruin by their evil example. Worldly govern- ments exercise their powers judiciously in the selection of their officers. It is but heresy to assert that the Almighty and All-Wise Ruler of the universe, upon whose choice of a reformer hangs the everlasting destinies of the human race, could not exercise even so much judiciousness in His selection as the weakest ruler upon earth? The truth is that the earthly people do not know the man that comes from heaven, for he is not of this world. He is subjected to cavils from the blind, for the blind do not see him. As darkness is eternally hostile to light, it does not like that light should come into and illumine the corners of the world. The sons of darkness are up in arms against light, and after a great spiritual struggle light is victorious, and the overhanging clouds of darkness are dispelled. It must also be pointed out here that the Divine Law according to which the vicegerents of God have been appearing upon earth for the guidance of men is not a dead letter now. If it is true that God wills now as He willed in times past that men should repent of evil and be righteous, we undoubtedly stand in need of an inspired r e f o r m e r. Like the former prophets, the reformer should have the magnetism to draw people to goodness, who possesses Divine attributes, whose life stands out in purity eminently above others, whose teachings have the power to attract and who can show extraordinary signs. Our object in this Magazine is to show: • who this inspired reformer is; •what arguments and signs there are which support his claim; 15 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002 • what his moral teachings are; • what beliefs he inculcates and what he rejects; • what truths and knowledge he has brought and in which of the Divine books they are to be found; and • what path he teaches for seeking union in God. Under these six heads fall the vast variety of the subjects to which the pages of this Magazine shall be devoted. Besides these, it undertakes to refute every objection against Islam, the Holy Qur’an, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may the blessings of God be upon him, and the great Reformer, the Holy Founder of the mission to which reference has above been made. It shall defend the cause of truth and oppose every false doctrine or erroneous teaching which is in violation of the rights of the Creator or the created. 1. The spiritual death of Christianity is important evidence of the death of its founder, for if Jesus, peace be upon him, is living, why does his influence not work [today]? 2 The advent of John the Baptist was regarded as the Second Coming of Elias for that very reason. 16 A Century Ago Review of Religions – July 2002