Death and the Afterlife

Dead Recall This Life

What is a Miracle? (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) What is a miracle? It is an extraordinary event the like of which the opponent of a divine messenger is unable to show although the event to all appearances may be within human possibility. An example of it is the miracle of the Word of the Quran which constituted a challenge to all the tribes of Arabia. Although on a cursory glance the subject of the challenge appeared to be within human possibility, yet all the people of that peninsula were unable to produce the like of it. The Word of the Quran clearly illustrates the nature and reality of a miracle as in appearance it is a word like the word of man. But on account of the eloquence, the delicious, clear and colourful diction which everywhere keeps right to truth and wisdom; the clear arguments which overthrew a world of opposing reasons and on account of the magnificent prophecies contained in it, it is such a unique miracle that in spite of thirteen centuries having elapsed, no one possessing a contrary view has been able to challenge it, nor is it in the power of anybody to do so. The Quran transcends in excellence all the other Books of the world in that it sets forth the miraculous prophesies in a miraculous language which is full of an excellence of style or eloquence full of truth and wisdom. In short the object real, important and inherent in a miracle is to differentiate between truth and falsehood or between a true prophet and an imposter. Such a distinguishing event is called a miracle or a sign. It is so important that without it, it is impossible to profess an adequate belief in the existence of God, neither is it possible to obtain the fruit of complete faith. Evidently truth of a religion is bound up really with a knowledge of the existence of God. One of the primary and essential requirements of a true religion is that it should bear signs which point to the existence of God in a manner absolute and convincing, and that religion should furnish proof of a power that unites its followers’ hands with the hands of the Most High God. We have already stated that complete comprehension of the Divine Being is not possible by being aware of the necessity of the existence of a Creator by looking round the created universe; those who stop at that cannot acquire a true relationship with God, nor can they purge themselves of the selfish in them. If anything can be proved from it, it is only that the immutable and mature order to be found in the universe 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS postulates a Fashioner of it, not that that Fashioner does, in reality, exist. Obviously, feeling the necessity of the existence of God is a mere conjecture which cannot be a substitute for actuality, neither can there follow from it the pure outcome of an actual vision of God. The religion therefore, which in man’s quest after God stops short at the intermediate stage of ‘ought to be’ cannot be a remedy for man’s practical needs. Such a religion is a dead corpse from which it is vain to hope for a righteous change. It is evident that mere logical proof cannot be reliable evidence of the truth of a religion. It is not such a seal which a clever forger is not capable of forging. It is merely begging at the door of the universal law of cause and effect. Who will decide as to whether what is written in a book has its origin in revelation or is plagiarism pure and simple? Even if, suppose, it was not plagiarised, how can it be absolute proof of the existence of a creator? Can a seeker after truth be satisfied with it as the only proof pointing to God? Nor can one be satisfied that this proof is infallible. A follower of a religion therefore which puts forward premises of logic and philosophy as the proof of its truth but shows no heavenly sign or out-of-ordinary event, is either a deceiver or is himself deceived, and he will die in the darkness of ignorance. In short, mere logic cannot definitely prove even the existence of God, not to say truth of a religion. Until a religion takes upon it the responsibility of giving unequivocal proof of the existence of God, it is of no worth whatsoever. And woe to the man who is fond of such a religion! A religion which does not advance man’s knowledge of God to a stage where the Divine Being is, as it were, within his sight or where the darkness of soul gives place to spiritual light or where the fresh signs of God beget a freshness of faith, and where an unblemished, sinless life is attained, not as a mere pretence but as a reality, has the curse of God branded on its forehead. In order to attain to a state of unalloyed righteousness, a man should be able to gain proof of a living God Who can destroy the transgressors in a moment, and to walk under Whose pleasure is very heaven. Just as it would not be enough if a religion showed its superiority by logical argument, so an apparently true prophet should not only give proof of observance of the commandments of God, but should also furnish distinctive signs which should bear witness to the truth of his claim. Nearly every man can lay claim to being a lover of God and to being innocent of all sins, but who can be satisfied that this really is the case? If a man is charitable, that may be due to his love of fame. If a man is an austere worshipper, that may be due to hypocrisy. If a man has avoided sins it may be due to his poverty. A man may be righteous possibly out of fear of public scandal and his mind may be devoid of the greatness of God. It is evident, therefore, that afine character, if anywhere found, cannot serve as a complete proof of real godliness, as it does not rule out the possibility of contrary conduct in secret. The evidence of God Himself Who is the Knower of the unseen is, therefore, essential for real righteousness. Had it not been so there WHAT IS A MIRACLE? 27 would have been confusion between a pure and an impure man and peace would have been impossible. It is extremely important, therefore, to have a distinctive standard. A religion which confers no mark of distinction on a true votary must certainly be understood to be devoid of light and to be worthless. The Word coming from God must provide the follower with a sign of distinction. In short without a distinguishing sign, there can neither be a clear differentiation between a true and a false religion, nor between a true prophet and an impostor, as it is possible that inwardly a man may be a bad character and a breaker of God’s commandments but his evil ways may not be known to others. Under such circumstances if he too professes to be a true prophet •— for such claims have always been made in the world—what bright sign is there from God for a true prophet by which the latter may be distinguished from an impostor, as bright day light is recognised? From the earliest times and from the time this planet of ours was created God’s and nature’s law has been that in all things, good and bad, there has been placed a mark of distinction. You know that gold and brass resemble each other in appearance so much so that an ignorant person is deceived thereby but the All Wise has given gold a distinctive quality which can be easily discerned by dealers in gold. There are many bright stones which very much resemble a diamond and some simple-minded people are cheated of thousands of rupees by their agreeing to accept them as diamonds but the Creator of the Universe has placed a distinctive sign in a diamond which can be recognised by an experienced jeweller. Similarly mere trash or things which are valueless may on first glance resemble precious stones and other fine things to be found in the world, but every pure and valuable j ewel will show its worth by a distinguishing sign. If it had not been so, there would have been chaos in the world. Look at man himself! Although in outward appearance he resembles many animals, as the monkey, yet, there is something in him which prevents us from calling a man a monkey. In the world of matter, therefore, which is transitory and destructible and the loss of which is nothing compared with the Hereafter, the Wise God has given a distinguishing sign to every delicate and fine thing by which it can be easily recognised. How then can it be supposed that there is no distinguishing sign in the case of religion, where error leads one to hell, or in the case of a true prophet the chosen one of Allah, denial of whose claim results in one’s being hurled into the pit of everlasting callousness? Can there be any one more foolish than he who thinks that God has not set up a distinguishing sign for a true religion and for a true prophet when God himself says in the Quran that Allah’s Book which is the basis of religion possesses in itself its distinguishing sign, the like of which no one can produce. He says, moreover, that every believer is vouchsafed a distinction that is a distinguishing sign by which he can be recognised. Be sure that a true religion and a true prophet must needs have a distinguishing sign, which in other words is called a miracle, saintly action, or an extraordinary event. 28 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It is proved from what we have said that a true religion must needs have a miraculous characteristic which other religions do not possess, and a true prophet also must needs have with him some miraculous support from God the like of which cannot be found in others, so that a weak-minded man who stumbles even at little doubts may not be deprived of the golden opportunity of winning divine acceptance. Just ponder and see! When men are so negligent and superstitious that in spite of hundreds of signs shown by the true messengers of God and in spite of the fact that these people are victims of doubt on account of misfortune, and profiting nothing from thousands of signs give way to suspicions, what would have been their condition had there been no sign from heaven on behalf of a God’s messenger? Had all depended upon the exhibition of mere lifeless austerity and observance of outward forms of worship there would have remained open also the door of uncertainty. So the merciful and bountiful God did not like that the world should go to destruction by its denial of a religion approved of or a person chosen by Him. He therefore, sealed the true religion with the seal of permanent signs, and gave the insignia of His acceptance to a true prophet in the shape of his extraordinary deeds. The truth is that God has not omitted any means by which distinguishing signs might be granted to His chosen servants and to His approved religion. He gave them greater brilliance than that of the sun, and He showed wondrous works in their support, the like of which man’s eye had never seen and the ear of man had never heard. In very truth, God no doubt exists, but the mirror in which His face can be seen is the countenance on which He rains His Love, that is to say, the person with whom God holds communion as a friend does with a friend. These are they who have comprehended the reality of Godhood by effacing all trace of duality through the predominance of love. For unity does not consist in detached belief in the oneness of God; such a unity is believed in even by the Satan. But, with it, it is essential to realise oneness of God in a practical manner by negating one’s own existence through an overflow of love. That is the real and complete unity which is the basis of salvation and which is vouchsafed to godly persons. So, it would not be an incongruity to observe that God comes down and enters them, for a vacuum by its very nature tends to get filled up. But this is not physical incarnation, it is something which transcends the bounds of ‘how and why’. In short, true prophets are endowed with the Divine blessings by a special manifestation of God, and their very life becomes a miracle. They are wholly transformed and their very personality appears in a new form which the physical eye cannot see, but the righteous can perceive its effect.