Final part in series of extracts from ‘Our Teaching’ in ‘Kishti-e-Nuh’ (Noah’s Ark) by the Promised Messiah(as), an important book of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
Deliverance From Sin Lies in Perfect Conviction
O ye who seek the Lord, open your ears and listen! Take heed that there is nothing like perfect conviction which delivers you from sin; conviction gives you the power to do good; and conviction alone can turn you into a lover of God. Can you turn away from evil without perfect conviction? Can you hold your base impulses in check without the help of a sure light? Without this perfect conviction, can anyone bring about any real change in himself? Can you attain to any state of satisfaction and peace of mind without this perfect certainty? Can you at all win any real prosperity without it? In the wide world, is there any atonement which can give you the power which man so much stands in need of to avoid sin? Can the fictitious blood of Jesus(as), son of Mary(as), deliver you from sin? O ye Christians, refrain from uttering a monstrous falsehood, even such as would fain break this earth to pieces! For deliverance Jesus(as) himself had to depend on perfect conviction. He believed with conviction, and was delivered. Woe, indeed, on those Christians who deceive the world by saying they have been delivered by the blood of Jesus Christ(as) even when from head to foot they are drowned in evil. They do not even know Who their God is. Their life is one of indulgence and ease: with the intoxication of wine in their head they remain unaware of the life with God; and for them there is no share in the fruits of life as lived in purity.
Always remember, therefore, that you cannot come out of darkness without firm conviction, nor can you obtain the Holy Spirit. Blessed are they who have this conviction, and blessed are they who have been delivered from uncertainties and doubts, for they alone shall be delivered of sin; and blessed will you be when this great treasure of firm conviction is given to you, since on that day sin for you will come to an end. Sin and conviction cannot exist together. Would you ever knowingly put your hand into a hole which you see is occupied by a poisonous snake? Or would you remain standing where a shower of red hot stones is coming down from some belching volcano, or which forms the target of a thunderbolt from the skies, or where a ferocious lion is likely to attack any moment, or would you live in a place where a dangerous plague is destroying mankind? Then, if you believed in God with the same firmness of conviction as you believe in the danger from a snake, or a thunder-bolt, or a lion, or from a plague, it is not possible that you should defy Him by disobedience, to incur punishment thereby, or that you should want to break the bond of sincerity, and loyalty which binds you to Him.
O ye people who have been called to righteousness and truth, rest fully assured that Divine attraction will take its birth in you, and you will be washed clean of the ugly blot of sin, only when your hearts become brimful of firm conviction. Perhaps you will say that you have this conviction, but you should take care to remember that this feeling is not more than a delusion on your part. That firm conviction is most certainly not yet yours, for you do not display the conditions which necessarily must go with it always. You have not yet given up your sinful ways; you have not yet taken the first step that you ought to have taken the moment this firm conviction became yours. You do not yet fear sin as you should. You can very well think out the question in your own mind. A man never puts his hand into a hole that he knows to be occupied by a poisonous snake; nor does he ever knowingly partake of a food he has reason to believe has been poisoned. Nor will he thoughtlessly walk into a thicket of trees that harbours a lion. Then how can your hands and feet, your eyes and ears, dare to sin when you have the same degree of certainty in regard to the punishment and reward from God on your conduct of life? How in the name of reason can you throw yourself into a fire that you know will burn you to ashes? And always remember that the defensive ramparts built by firm conviction against sin are veritably as high as the heavens, so that Satan cannot scale them to get you, after you have properly built them up.
Everyone who is purified is purified through firmness of conviction. It is conviction that gives you the strength to bear hardships, even to the extent of persuading a king to abdicate his royal throne and take to the life of a mendicant. Conviction dissolves all difficulties. Conviction enables a man to see God. All ideas of any atoning sacrifice are false, for every kind of purity comes only from firm conviction. The only thing that delivers a man from sin, and advances him in sincerity and steadfastness, far ahead of the angles themselves, is conviction and conviction alone. All religions that fail to create this firmness of conviction are false. All religions that fail to show God by means beyond any shadow of doubt are false; and all those religions which contain nothing more than a handful of tales and fables about what happened in the past are false.
Do Not Be Satisfied with Fables
God exists now, as He did in the days past; His powers too remain the same as they were in the past; and He is still as capable of showing signs as He was before. Then why should you be satisfied with stories and fables alone? The religion is dead and destroyed which contains nothing more than stories of miracles shown in the past; and the people are a dead people on whom God does not descend in grace and mercy, whom the Divine hand itself has not come down to purify. As a man is drawn towards the joys of this world when he sees its attractions with his own eyes, similarly is man drawn towards God when he comes to know with perfect certainty that the spiritual joys are even sweeter. The appeal of Divine beauty takes such a hold on his mind that everything else appears to him of no more value than mere trash. Man is free from sin only when he comes to know of the power of God, and of Divine retribution, on the basis of a firm conviction. Ignorance is the root of every fearlessness, and no one will be found devoid of the fear of God even to the least extent who partakes of Divine knowledge. When a householder knows that a dangerous flood is advancing on his house or that a fire on all sides has surrounded it, he will at once flee from it. Then how can you dare to leave your ways of life unaltered after your belief in the existence of God, in Divine retribution and reward, have hardened into a firm unshakable conviction? Therefore, open your eyes and carefully study the Law of God operating in the universe. Do not be like rats that only go digging and descending down into earth: be like the dove capable of flying in the heavens, which feels happy only when it is flying in the pure air of the loftier regions. After taking the bai’at of repentance at my hand, take care that you do not remain unaltered in your formed sinful ways. Do not be like the snake that remains as much of a snake after it has shed its skin as ever it was before. Remember death, which approaches you every moment, though you remain unaware. Do your best to purify yourself, for a man can attain nearness to what is purity par excellence only when himself he becomes pure, as far as possible.
The Way to Attain Purity is Through Prayer Offered in True Humility of Spirit
But the most important question is how to win blessings. To this question God Himself has given the answer. He says: Seek help from God with prayer and perseverance [Ch.2:V.46]. What is Salat? It is a prayer addressed to God in true humility of spirit and the fullest awareness of His purity, His praiseworthiness, His holiness, coupled with a burning desire on the part of the devotee for Divine forgiveness, and for blessing on the Holy Prophet(saw). Therefore, when you stand for prayer, do not, like ignorant people, confine yourself to the prescribed Arabic text, for the prayers and the Istighfar [repentance] of many people is only formal, with no reality in it. When you stand up for prayer, do not, like ignorant people, confine yourself to the prescribed Arabic text; over and above the prayers found in the Qur’an, which is the Word of God, and in the Hadith, which is the word of the Holy Prophet(saw), address your petitions to the Lord in your own language, with heartfelt humility which should leave a lasting effect on your mind. In prayer lies the remedy for the coming tribulations. You have no idea what the coming day has in store for you. Therefore, ere the day dawn, pray every time that for you it should be a day of blessings and peace.
O Ye Rich and Wealthy!
O ye who are rich, who are kings, who are millionaires: among you there are few who fear God and remain truthful and steadfast in all His ways. Most are such that they attach their hearts to the riches of the world, spending all their lives in this preoccupation, without giving any thought to death. Every rich man who does not address himself to God in prayer, whose attitude to God is one of heedlessness, will have on his head the sins of all those who are connected with him. Every rich man who drinks shall have on his head the sin of all those under him who drink with him.
O ye wise! This world will not last forever. Take a hold on yourself and be steady. Give up all excess. Leave all intoxicants. Wines, and beers, and whiskies, and the like, are not the only harmful drinks. Opium, cannabis,hashish, bhang (mild cannabis), tadee (palm-juice liquor) and all other intoxicants, the use of which with you becomes a matter of habit, have all a deadly effect on the brain, and in the end prove fatal. You should keep away from all such things. In fact we cannot understand at all how and why you take to the use of things, which, in front of your own eyes, prove to be the undoing of thousands of people and bring about their death every year, while the punishment to come in the world hereafter is something quite apart, over and above the disadvantages which go with these things here. Become righteous and God-fearing, so that you should live longer lives, and be blessed by God. Too much indulgence in luxurious, easy irresponsible living is a curse, as it is ill-mannered, and heartless, to be indifferent to the sufferings of others.
Every rich man is as much answerable over the due discharge of his obligations to his Creator and his fellowmen, as a poor man is. In fact a rich man is even more answerable. Indeed how unfor-tunate is he, for the sake of this brief life in this world, who completely turns away from God; who uses forbidden things with such fearlessness as if they were quite lawful; when angry, who raves upon people like a madman, using abusive language, ready to wound and kill, and who, in the pursuit of his lust, becomes shameless in the extreme. Such a one will never know real prosperity.
My dear people! You are in this world only for a few days, of which a large part is already past. Do not displease your Master. Even a temporal government, if displeased with you, can destroy you. Therefore, how much more it behoves you not to displease your Creator. No one can destroy you if you are held righteous in the eyes of the Lord. He will Himself protect you, and no enemy thirsting for your blood shall be able to harm you. Otherwise there is no protection for you, and you shall have to live in constant fear of your enemies, uneasy and restless, full of forebodings; and the later days of your lives would pass in great anguish of mind. God Himself becomes the protection of those who stand with Him. Therefore come to God, and leave off all kinds of opposition to Him. Never be negligent in the discharge of the obligations He has laid on you. Never oppress His creatures, with hand or word of mouth, and always remain in fear of the wrath of heaven, for herein lies the only way to salvation.
O Ye Learned People of Islam
O ye learned people among the Muslims! Do not be hasty in rejecting me as false. There are many profound secrets which man cannot comprehend in a hurry, all at once. You should not be ready to reject a thing the moment you hear it, for this is not the way of the righteous. Had there been no errors among you, and if you had not interpreted certain Ahadith in a manner contrary to their real sense, then the advent of the Messiah, as a judge and arbiter among you, would have been a useless thing. The mission you assign to this advent, namely, that he would join force with the Mahdi, to make war on all in order to convert them forcibly to Islam, is a belief that brings disgrace to Islam. Where at all is it written in the Qur’an that war is permissible for the sake of spreading one’s religion by force? On the contrary, we find Allah saying in the Holy Book: There is no compulsion in matters connected with religion [Ch.2:V.257]. Then wherefrom would the Messiah, son of Mary, get the right to use force for converting people to Islam? The entire Qur’an is replete to the effect that there can be no coercion in religion; and it is absolutely clear on the point that when the Holy Prophet(saw) took up the sword, he did not do so to spread Islam by this means, but;
(i) as a due punishment for these who had killed a large number of Muslims, and had driven out many others from their homes. We read in the Holy Book: ‘Permission has been given to those who fight because they had been oppressed, and Allah indeed has the power to help them (in spite of the odds against them)’.
(ii) Or these wars were defensive, fought against people who were leaving no stone unturned to extirpate Islam and to stop its propagation by force of arms.
(iii) Or they were fought to assert legitimate freedoms.
Apart from campaigns undertaken for these three aims, the Holy Prophet(saw) and his blessed Khalifas fought no war, whatsoever. In fact, before taking up arms in self-defence Islam bore oppression with silent fortitude to an extent of which there is no example in the history of other peoples. Then what kind of a Messiah and Mahdi would they be who would embark on their mission by putting opponents to the sword right from the start?
Gaddi-Nashins and Pirzadahs of the Country
Similarly the hereditary heads of the so-called spiritual orders and the pirs of this country, are so far cut off from Islam, engrossed day and night in pernicious inno-vations, that they have no idea of the difficult times through which Islam is passing. It you attend their assemblies, instead of the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith, you will find them bending and swaying over musical instruments and qawwalis with numerous bid’ats [innovations] in evidence. But in spite of all this they claim to be religious leaders and followers of the Holy Prophet(saw).
Indeed anybody and everybody can claim that he loves God. But only he loves God, in reality, to whose love heaven itself should bear witness. Everybody claims that he is a follower of the true religion, but the religion of that man alone is true who obtains light in this very life itself. And everybody says that he will get salvation, but only he is justified in making this claim who is given the light in this earthly life itself.
My Dear People! This is the Time for Rendering Services to the Cause of Religion
My dear people! This is the time for serving the cause of the religion you claim to profess. Realise the value of this rare opportunity, for if you let it slip, it will not offer itself to you a second time. Being the followers of such a great and exalted Prophet(saw), why do you lose heart? Be firm of faith, and set an example that even the angels in heaven should wonder at your strength and steadfastness, and should pray for blessings on you.
With this I finish, and pray that this teaching of mine should be fruitful for you, working a change in your hearts which should make you like stars on this earth, filling the globe with the light and life you get from the Lord. Amen!