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True Islam

True Islam (Dr. B. M. Mirza) If you ask a Westerner what he thinks Islam is, you will get a very distorted picture of Islam. The only introduction to the words Moslem or Islam he may have is Middle Eastern terrorism, Petrodollars, war and refugees. The fact is that the above picture no more depicts Islam than warlike activities in Northern Ireland, events in Central America or terrorist activities in Germany and Spain depict Christianity. We can no more blame Islam because a person calling himself a Muslim kills an innocent person than we can blame Christianity because a person calling himself a Christian murders an innocent person. Modern means of transportation and the speed with which news from anywhere travels all around the globe are fast demolishing national barriers. The world is fast becoming one family and it is becoming increasingly important to learn about the views and ideologies of other people for the sake of better and more friendly atmosphere on an international level. Although on a personal level, religion is not given much importance in the West, but on a national and international level, religion carries a great deal of influence. Some skeptics might say that religion seems to have a negative impact on our society today. A considered analysis of the situation, however, will make it obvious that the real cause is ignorance of religion. After all, it is human nature to fear the unknown. Religious ignorance and religious intolerance go hand in hand. We believe that all religions originated from the same source — God — and there is bound to be a great deal of common ground among them. A proper use of religious knowledge (which most of us sadly lack) may in fact prove to be a unifying force between the different peoples of the world. There are close to one billion inhabitants of this planet who profess Islam as their faith. Being the second largest religion in the world, its adherents are found in almost all the countries in the world. For better understanding on an international level it is important to know what Islam really stands for. With this in mind, we wish to define Islam — what it is and what it stands for. TRUE ISLAM 29 According to the Holy Quran, the revealed Muslim Scriptures, Islam is a culmination of the various previously revealed religions. The following passages will demonstrate the point: “Say, Allah has spoken the truth: follow, therefore, the religion of Abraham, who was ever inclined to God.” (3:96). “He has prescribed for you the religion which He enjoined on Noah, and which We have now revealed to thee, and which We enjoined on Abraham, and Moses and Jesus, viz, ‘Establish obedience to Allah in the earth and be not divided therein’.” (42:14). In chapter 2, verses 131—137, of the Holy Quran, we read a detailed account of the religion professed by Abraham and his progeny and the religion professed by the followers of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of God be on him): 131: And who will turn away from the religion of Abraham but he who is foolish of mind? Him did We choose in this world, . . . 132: “When his Lord said to him, ‘Submit,1 he said, ‘I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds’.” 133: “The same did Abraham enjoin upon his sons — and so did Jacob — saying: ‘O my sons, truly Allah has chosen this religion for you; so. let not death overtake you except when you are ‘Muslim’ (in a state of submission).” 134: “Were you present when death came to Jacob, when he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after me?’ They answered, ‘We will worship thy God, the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, the One God; and to him we submit ourselves.'” 136: “And they say, ‘Be ye Jews or Christians that you may be rightly guided.’ Say: ‘Nay, follow ye the religion of Abraham who was ever inclined to God; he was not of those who set up gods with God.'” 137: “Say ye: ‘We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between any of them; and to Him we submit ourselves.'” In the quotes above, the religion of Abraham, Jacob, and their sons is described as “Islam”. In verse 134, the sons of Jacob use the words Nahno La’hoo Muslemoon (to Him we submit ourselves). The very same words are used by the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to describe their religion: Nahno La’hoo Muslemoon (to Him we submit ourselves). In other words, Islam had its origin in Abraham, according to the Holy Quran. 30 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS If Islam has its origin in the religion of Abraham, so do Judaism and Christianity. Looking from this perspective, it will not be surprising if there is found a great deal of common ground between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The question naturally arises: Who is a Muslim? Our definition should embrace the Muslims as we know them today as well as the earlier prophets and their progenies. Again, we seek from the Quran, the definition of a Muslim. In the Arabic lexicon, the word Islam has the following literal meanings: to pay the price of something in advance; to entrust your work to someone else; to seek peace; to abandon some contention or enmity. The conventional meanings of Islam are elaborated in the following verse of the Holy Quran: “Nay, whoever submits himself completely to Allah, and is the doer of good, shall have his reward with his Lord. No fear will come to them, nor shall they grieve.” (2:113). Thus Islam means a complete submission to the Will of God. A Muslim is he who dedicates himself to God, to fulfil His Will and to please Him. He becomes a creature of God in his belief and in his actions. He believes that his entire being is made to seek God, to obey Him, to love Him and to seek His approval in everything. In his actions, an ideal Muslim performs all righteous acts just for God, using all his God-given abilities and strength with such fervour as if he is seeing the face of God in the mirror of his complete submission. A person whose deeds emanate from such love and such natural fervour, becomes deserving of a reward from God. Fear and grief do not come near him and he attains to a state of salvation. This state of firm conviction in the Person and attributes of God brings him in complete harmony with God. In this state, a person’s thoughts harmonise with God’s designs, his joy and bliss emanates from his complete submission and all his righteous deeds give him deep pleasure rather than appearing as a burden. This is a state synonymous with deliverance, prosperity and liberation. It becomes a foretaste of the state of bliss promised for the hereafter. In other words the taste of heaven for such a person begins right here in this life; and also a taste of hell begin in this very life for one who does not submit to the Will of God. We have followed here the line of reasoning put forth by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Reformer of our age, in his book Aa’ina Kamalat-i-Islam (A Mirror of the beauties of Islam). Elaborating on the Quranic verse just quoted, he writes: “Every intelligent person can infer from this verse that one can be a true TRUE ISLAM 31 Muslim only when his whole being, with all his physical and mental strength, is dedicated for God in His way. All the faculties endowed to him by God are dedicated back to Him. His thoughts as well as his actions reflect his state of Islam.” This means that the person professing Islam proves that his hands and his feet, his heart and his brain, his intellect and his understanding, his anger and his compassion, his gentleness and his knowledge, all his intellectual and physical strength, his honour and his wealth, his leisure and his pleasure, his fears and his passions, and his whole being from the hair on his head to his toe nails, all become subservient to God as if they belonged to God. In short, it becomes evident that his steadfastness has progressed to the point that whatever belongs to him does not remain his but becomes the property of God. All his faculties and capabilities are busy in serving God as if they were God’s faculties. The responsibilities of a Muslim pertain to two distinct spheres. His duties towards God and his duties towards his fellow beings. So the dedication of a Muslim has to take two forms — dedication to serve God and dedication to serve humanity. The dedication to God requires the focussing of all the love and worship of One God, no other being can be included in this love and worship. A person must accept all the commandments, limits and destinies willingly and with meekness. The second aspect of the dedication is to devote one’s life in serving humanity and to cultivate a true compassion for one’s fellow beings. One must be willing to undergo hardships to provide relief for others and bear distress to give comfort to others. One must strive selflessly to benefit mankind, help those in need and constantly strive for their betterment in this life and the hereafter. This will come about when one’s faculties become God’s instruments so that acts of God are carried out by them from time to time. He is so wholly dedicated that one can say that his hands become God’s hands, his eyes become God’s eyes and his limbs become God’s limbs. This is the sum total of Islam, An ideal Muslim is he who submits himself completely to Allah (2:113). In his complete submission he surrenders his total being — his thoughts, his feelings, his aspirations and his actions, all his capabilities and faculties. This is total annihilation in Allah and requires a death of oneself. This supreme sacrifice requires a great deal of effort and hard work. Once accomplished, however, God bestows a new life to this person. He is born again and is endowed with new God-given capabilities and attains to an eternal life as a bounty from God. The new life is not the only reward for this complete submission. The real reward for his earnestness, his steadfastness, and his belief is a union with his 32 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Maker. He becomes so certain of the Person of God as if he sees Him. Now a reward from God is not just a conjecture but becomes such a reality as if he has already received it. All his past and present griefs are wiped away and any future fears are evaporated. He has no wants, no griefs and no fears because he has truly found God who becomes his support and protection. He becomes a child of God, under His complete protection. In this state a person will perform miracles because his actions are not his actions but really the actions of God. This has happened notably in the case of prophets. All prophets have shown miracles. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) exhibited greater miracles than any other prophet. This does not mean that a person in this state of union with God becomes a deity. He still remains a human being but he becomes a special one of God. Jesus Christ showed miracles in the same manner. It is a mistake, however, to elevate him to the rank of a deity. If this was done, then many other prophets who showed bigger miracles than Jesus would also have to be elevated to the rank of deities and we will have a confusing array of Gods. The state of complete annihilation in God is attained by a personal struggle and a great deal of sacrifice, but the state of being born again and the state of union with God are bestowed upon a person after he accepts a death for his desires, his thoughts and his aspirations. This, in short, is the true meaning of Islam. A true Muslim can only be a source of peace and prosperity for mankind. He can be only wholly beneficial and can in no way harm any human being. It is unfortunate that approximately 700 million human beings profess to be Muslims but very few can reflect the picture of a Muslim just described. In the early days of Islam, the strength of the Holy Prophet Muhammad produced a large number of true Muslims and Islam made rapid progress in all walks of life. With the passage of time, the spirit of Islam had disappeared and only a shell remained. It was the design of God to re-establish this true spirit once more, so He sent His Messenger in our age in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India. He initiated a Movement designed to rejuvenate true faith and conquer the forces of evil. As death has begun to stare in the face of these forces of evil, they have banded together and are trying tooth and nail to oppose the Movement initiated by Hazrat Ahmad. Slowly but surely, however, this Movement is gaining strength and is defeating the forces of evil. Today we find followers of Hazrat Ahmad in almost all the countries of the world. In due course, surely, the opposing forces will be routed and Ahmad’s call will win over the hearts of people. Blessed are those who answer his call and bring the day of the downfall of Satanic forces nearer.