God and His Prophets

God and His Prophets (Mushtaq Ahmad Bajwa) God created the world with a purpose. He made Adam His vicegerent in the earth (2:31). Adam was not the first man. Mankind existed before him. He was a remnant or successor of the old race and was appointed by God to fulfil a special mission. God gave man intellect and free will and established a system of guidance which should guarantee a happy life for them. He declared: “O children of Adam: if Messengers come to you from among yourselves, rehearsing My signs unto you, then whoso shall fear God and do good deeds, on them shall come no fear nor shall they grieve.” (7:36). It was decreed that so long as the human race continues, it shall be guided by Allah through His prophets. The prayer of Abraham foretells the task of the expected prophet in further detail: “Our Lord, raise up among them a Messenger from among themselves, who may recit to them Thy Signs and teach them the Book and Wisdom, may purify them, surely, Thou art the Mighty the Wise.” (2:130). This prayer was fulfilled in the person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings of God be upon him). God says: “Verily, Allah has conferred a favour on the believers by raising among them a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His Signs and purifies them and teaches them the Book and Wisdom; and, before that they were surely in manifest error.” (3:165). God has repeated this in another chapter, along with it a prophecy about the second advent of the Holy Prophet: “He it is Who raised among the unlettered people and among others from among them who have not yet joined them, a Messenger from among themselves who recites unto them His Signs, and purifies them GOD AND HIS PROPHETS 21 and teaches them the Book and wisdom, though before this they had been in manifest error. And among others from among them who have not yet joined them. He is the Mighty, the Wise.” (62:3-4). God has emphasised the continuation of the system of guidance for the world. A person would be raised among the Muslims, who would be a true image of the Holy Prophet to this extent that his coming would be considered to be the advent of the Holy Prophet himself and his Companions would be joined with the Companions of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) has stated that God sent a hundred and twenty four thousand prophets out of which only twenty-five have been mentioned in the Holy Quran. Of these only five brought a new law. The other twenty followed the laws of their predecessors. The Holy Quran says about Tor ah: “By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to us, judge for the Jews.” (5:45). The perfect code of spiritual laws, the Quran, has been revealed to the Holy Prophet. No law-bearing Prophet shall appear after him. While earlier books have been changed God declared about the Quran: “Verily, We Ourself have sent this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.” (15:10). The text of the Quran, unlike the earlier scriptures, has been preserved intact by God. He made provision for the preservation of its spirit also, through Mujaddids, i.e. divinely inspired Reformers at the beginning of every century whose task has been to interpret and explain the true meaning of the Quranic text. God raised Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messia, as the Mujaddid of the century. He was the only claiment in the whole world. The Mujaddid for the 15th century is Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Most Muslims of the fourteenth century found it difficult to believe in the advent of a Prophet and even of a Mujaddid, despite their belief in the truth of all the twenty-five Prophets mentioned in the Quran and two hundred and twenty four thousand as declared by the Holy Prophet. This human weakness has been referred to in the Holy Quran by God Himself: “And Joseph did come to you before with clear proofs but you continued in doubt concerning that with which he came to you till, when he died, you said: “Allah will never raise up a Messenger after him. Thus does Allah adjudge astray every extravagant doubter.” (40:35). Men are so constituted that when a Prophet comes they reject and oppose 22 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS him; and when he dies they say no more prophets will come and that the door of revelation is shut for ever. God shows His might. A Prophet is a Vicegerent of God. How can he fail? God says: “Allah has decreed: ‘Most surely, I will prevail, I and My Messengers.’ Verily, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.” (58:22). A Prophet commences alone. God then selects companions for him and opens their hearts for the Truth. They become a party. God declares it to be His party and says: “It is the party of Allah that must triumph.” (5:57). The disbelievers still ignore them but God warns them: “Do they not see that we are visiting the land, reducing it from its outlying borders? Can they even then be victors.” (21:45). This warning deserves the attention of those who in these days and in their arrogance take pride in their power and majority and do not observe the growth of the party of Allah. In the first chapter of the Holy Quran which is recited in every rakaat of all prayers, God has taught the Muslims a wonderful prayer which shows that even the highest favours pertaining to prophethood, are not denied to them. Muslims are taught to pray: “Guide us in the right path, the path of Those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings.” (1:4-7). God has given a description of these blessings in 4:70: “Those who obey God and the Prophet are among the favoured ones — the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous”. These four spiritual ranks can only be attained by following the Holy Prophet. This is an honour reserved for the Holy Prophet alone. No other Prophet shares it with him. The inference is further supported by the verse which speaks of Prophets generally and says: “Those who obey Allah and His Messengers, they are the Truthful and the Martyrs in the sight of their Lord.” (57:20). This means that whereas the followers of the other Prophets could rise to GOD AND HIS PROPHETS 23 the rank of the Truthful and the Martyrs, and no higher, the followers of the Holy Prophet can achieve even higher ranks including the rank of a Prophet. The work of one who is subordinate to the Prophet, cannot be considered as separate from his work, nor can such a one bring a new law. Such a Prophet will complete the significance of Khatam-un-nabiyyeen as he shall bear the seal of the Holy Prophet. All the male children of the Holy Prophet died. He had adopted Zaid as his son in Mecca, but this institution was abrogated. His opponents charged him with lack of male heirs. In this context he received the revelation: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your males but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets. Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (33:41). This means that the dispensation instituted by the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) was a spiritual one and would be carried on by his spiritual successors. The Holy Prophet being the Seal of the Prophets created a new phenomenon in the spiritual world. It became obligatory for the whole of humanity to believe in the truth of all Prophets for the sphere of Seal of the Prophets extended beyond the boundaries of races, nations and languages. There would, henceforth be no Prophet who would not be a subordinate and follower of the Holy Prophet and would not bear his seal. The expression Seal of the Prophets has obviously been employed as stressing the pre-eminence of the Holy Prophet among other Prophets. To interpret this verse as the termination of prophethood would amount to his denigration. The Holy Quran is a perfect guidance for mankind. It has given clear criteria for judging the truth of a claimant to prophethood. Allah says: “If he had fabricated any saying and attributed it to us, We would surely have seized him by the right hand and then surely We would have severed his large artery, and not one of you could have kept us from it.” (69:45-48). The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) lived twenty-three years after the receipt of this revelation. Had he been a forger, he would have met a violent death. This argument is brought forward also in the Torah: “But the Prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods even the prophet shall die.” (Deut. 18:20). This criterion is a sign of the majesty of God. God, as stated in the Torah and the Quran, cannot allow anyone to mislead His servants by falsly claiming to be a Prophet of God. None can cite a single instance from the history of the world. 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS A mad man may say whatever comes into his mind but a-sane person who falsely asserts he receives revelations from God and endeavours to mislead people, is destroyed. This is a clear proof of the truth of the Holy Prophet who lived twenty-three years after the first revelation he received in the cave of Hira. It is also proof of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (peace be upon them both), who lived for about thirty years after receiving his first revelation. He published a challenge in his book Arbaien that if anyone could give an instance of a person who falsely claimed to be a Prophet of God and lived for another twenty three years after that, would be paid a prize of five hundred rupees. (Arbaien III, p. 15). None could produce a single case from the history of the world and claim this prize. We repeat this challenge of the Quran and the Bible and offer the prize of the Promised Messiah to anyone who can name a person who escaped a violent death within twenty-three years after falsely pronouncing his first revelation. The Holy Quran states another criterion of the truth of the Holy Prophet which is the purity of his life before his claim to prophethood. Allah-says: “Say . . . I have spent a whole lifetime among you before this. Will you not then understand?” (10:17). The Holy Prophet is here required by God to refer disbelievers to the period of life he had already passed among them as proof of his sincerity and the truth of his claim. He was a resident of Mecca and was popularly known as Al Amin, i.e., the Trusty, the Truthful. Emperor Heraclius asked of Abu Sufyan, an opponent of the Holy Prophet, what his people thought of the Prophet before he laid claim to the Prophethood. He replied that he … had led such a pure life that no enemy could point out a single event when he failed to maintain a high standard of integrity. A character of a person cannot be changed overnight unless some accident causes a head injury or some great shock or calamity overtakes him. The Promised Messiah also received this verse as a revelation and challenged his opponents to point out anything wrong done by him in his lifetime. (Tazkiratushshahadatain p. 62). Many who knew him in from his youth testified to his piety, righteousness and noble character. Allah says: “Allah has decreed: ‘Most surely, I will prevail, I and my Messengers.'” (58:22). The Holy Prophet had to pass through very difficult times, when he and his followers were persecuted and suffered three years of boycott. He was wounded from stoning, compelled to flee from Mecca, miraculously saved from his pursuers, defended himself against powerful armies and at last the decree of God was fulfilled with full glory. Similarly the Promised Messiah GOD AND HIS PROPHETS 25 was opposed even by his collaterals. Some of those who had been all praise for him became his enemies, but in the end God and His Prophet prevailed. He won about half a million followers, spread over India and from some foreign countries. Now his message has reached all the five continents of the world and under the leadership of hisfourth successor Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the Community is progressing rapidly. Is this not a clear proof of the truth of the Promised Messiah, peace of God be upon him? Allah says: “We save him (Noah) and those who were with him in the Ark, and made it a sign for the peoples.” (29:16). The people of Noah were wrongdoers. God directed Noah to make an ark, saved the believers through it, and the deluge overtook the others. A similar sign was given to the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him). He saw in a vision on February 6, 1898 that the angels of God are planting the trees of plague. In accordance with it the Punjab was overtaken by plague. Government had a special vaccine prepared with which it directed the people to be vaccinated. The Promised Messiah appreciated the Government’s effort but published in his book “Noah’s Ark” (October 5, 1902) that God had ordained that he and his sincere followers would be saved from the plague and, therefore, they need no vaccination. This was a sign of the mercy of God. Sincere followers remained immune from the attack of the plague without having any vaccination. Thousands were impressed by this sign and joined the Ahmadiyya Movement. The object of religion is to establish relationship between man and his Creator. The very first chapter of the Quran emphasises: “Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help.” All the Prophets brought the same teaching. God says: “And We sent no Messenger before thee but we revealed to him: ‘There is no God but I, so worship Me alone.'” (21:26). The Promised Messiah (peace of God of upon him) explains the meaning of worship: “Man boasts of worshipping God. But does worship only comprise many prostrations, repeated obeisance and standing at attention or do those who count their beads over and over deserve to be called worshippers of God? Indeed not. Only he is capable of worship whom the love of God draws so close that his own self is excluded altogether. First, there should be full faith in the Existence of God and then full knowledge of His 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Beauty and Beneficence and then there should be the attachment of love with Him, constantly aflame in the bosom, radiating itself at all times In the face. The impression of His magnificence on the heart should be so deep that the entire world should appear like dead in contrast with Him; every fear should derive from Hun alone and all pleasure should be in His love and all joy in seclusion with Him and no comfort without Him.” (Haqiqatul Wahi p. 51, vide Fatiha pp. 196-7). He further writes: “Our God is a very loyal God, and for those who remain loyal to Him He shows wonderful works. The world wishes to tear them to pieces and to eat them up; and every enemy grinds his teeth on them; but He Who is their friend saves them from every danger, and brings them out triumphant on every field. How fortunate, then, is he who does not let go his hold of such a God? Him we have recognised, of all the world He alone is the God Who has sent down His revelation on me; Who, for me, has shown powerful signs; Who has sent me down as the Promised Messiah for this age. There is no God whatsoever except He, in heaven, nor on earth. Whosoever does not yield faith to Him, he remains deprived of succour. From our God we have received Revelation that shines like the sun. We have seen that He alone is the God of the whole world, and there is no other God.” (Our Teaching, p. 15). “Our Paradise, indeed, is our God’: our highest enjoyment is in God, for we have seen Him and all beauty found in Him. This treasure is worth having, even if at the cost of one’s life; and this is jewel which should be purchased even if obtainable only by sacrificing one’s entire being. O ye that are devoid, run to this spring of life that shall save ye.” (Our Teaching, p. 17). May Allah enable us to drink deep from this spring of life so that He may, out of His mercy, save us and grant us His nearness. Amin.