Future of Revelation

Animals live from day to day with whatever life offers them. They do not seem to look back to their past nor to a dreamy future ahead of them. Man is an exception in the animal kingdom. Seldom is he content with his present. Either he lives lost in the memories of the past or he sustains himself with the hope that there are better days to come. Such hopes generally pertain to his economic, political or religious future. It is to his religious hopes that we now turn our gaze. All major religions promise the advent of a Divine personage who would usher in a new era of hope for mankind and unite them under one Divine flag. This is the promised land which one day they all aspire to reach, govern and command. This is utopia, the meeting point of the hopes of all religions and this too, alas, becomes the parting of their ways. Only the dreams are shared but not their realisation. They are unanimous in their belief that one Divine personage will certainly come as the saviour of the human race, but when it comes to his identity they could not disagree more with each other. Will he be Lord Krishna(as) or Jesus Christ(as)? Will he be Zoroaster(as) or Buddha (as), or Confucius(as) or Lao-tzu(as) for that matter? Each is expecting a different person, under a different name and title; each is expecting him to belong exclusively to their own religious order. It is here that the gates one finds left open for the advent of the saviour begin to be shut again. They are seen shut from the vantage point of those who consider all other religions to be false except their own. The only gate they see open is their own; while their gate, as seen by others, is also shut. All who had joined in the chorus, singing the songs of the advent of a universal Redeemer, begin to sing their separate songs when it comes to his identity. Either he must 53The Review of Religions – June 2003 Future of Revelation This is an extract taken from the book Revelation, R a t i o n a l i t y, Knowledge and Tr u t h, written by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) somehow materialise out of their dreams, or they will accept none other. Alas, the latter is the only fate which they have carved for themselves. Why should God care for their pleasure if they care not for His? Let them create their saviour themselves out of the nothingness of their wild irrational hopes. It is so intriguing to watch this wrangle on a global scale. After the dust of claims and counterclaims settles down, the only agreement the proponents of different religions reach is to continue to disagree even more vehemently. The Reformer they will accept has to be of their own faith and brand, or none other. Their talk is idle, their hopes are vain, their saviours dwell only in their dreams. Can the Redeemer, whenever he comes, fulfil the hopes of all religions or will he meet those of only one? To whom will he actually belong, whose aspirations will he fulfil while all will be chanting by the fountain of hope: make them mine, make them mine, make them mine! The question which finally emerges is whether a single person is promised or many, simultaneously. God has no contradiction in Him, hence He will either send one person with a single message, or none at all. What would happen to different warring factions of various religions at such a time, each holding views divergent from the other? It is to this inherent contradiction in their attitudes that we shall now turn our attention. The way they all envision the realisation of their hopes is an impossible task. Take for example the case of the Jewish people, who have long been yearning for the advent of the Christ. For thousands of years they have been striking their heads against the Wailing Wall and still do so, beseeching the Christ to come. Never do they realise that he has come and gone but not in the way they had expected, nor in the manner and style they had assigned to his advent. Thus the gate they thought they had kept open lay practically shut and locked. How tantalising it must be that the guest one so dearly awaits does not come though one sees no hurdle obstructing his path. In reality, all those who await the coming of any Divine guest are themselves responsible for placing impassable obstructions in his way. But somehow they remain unaware of what they do. If they could only realise that their expectations are impossible 54 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 to be fulfilled they could at least rest in the sort of peace which follows despondency. The barriers help to relinquish hope and extinguish the flame of expectancy but only if they are recognized. If some people are oblivious to their existence, it is they who are to be blamed for their frustration. The Jewish people, for example, who await the advent of the Christ have not understood this hard, simple reality despite their wisdom. For them there is nothing but to weep and wail beside a wall of stones, beseeching the advent of a Messiah who can never come. For them, none will ever come. But they are not alone in this inconsistency of being stupid and wise all at once. The case of all other religions who expect an ultimate Redeemer is no different from theirs. The actors are different of course, the acts are played in different garb, yet the drama remains the same. A Christ should have come to the aid of the Jewish people and did come but it was not the same Christ they were awaiting, so they failed to recognise him. They expected him to appear with a crown over his head seated on a royal throne. He would be a warrior Messiah, they believed, who would successfully lead the armies of the Israelites against the despotic rule of the Roman Empire. Two thousand years have passed since their rejection of Jesus’ as Messiah, yet no Messiah of their expectation has come. History has changed the political geography of the world and the prophecy of the coming of the Christ has lost all relevance. There is no Judea or Palestine under the yoke of a Roman Empire from which the Jewish people are to be liberated. In fact, that Roman Empire which once ruled half of the world has completely disappeared from the map of the world. We still hear of deliverance, but it is a deliverance from the Jews, not of the Jews. Although there was nothing wrong in their belief that Christ would be born like any other human child to a human mother, yet they attached some supernatural preconditions to his birth which could not have been realised. Their belief about the bodily descent of Elijah before the advent of the Messiah, is just the case in point which effectively blocked the passage of the Messiah they awaited. So the Jewish position, vis-à-vis the advent of a Messiah, in reality turns out to be a denial of his advent altogether. 55 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 Turning our gaze from the Jews to the Christians, we find a situation not too dissimilar to the one described above. Imagine a Christ paying a second visit to earth in the grand style envisaged by the Christians who still await his literal second coming. A son of God descending in glory from heaven in a human form is an idea fit only for fiction, yet it serves to keep hope, or shall we say blind faith, alive. Looking at it from the rational vantage point of the non-Christian, the absurdity becomes even more glaring. No non-Christian, be he religious or otherwise, can share this belief because it speaks of an outrageous wedlock between spirit and matter. Yet the Christians see no element of irrationality about it because dogma has blinded them. The same anomaly of the Jews and the Christians applies to the unreal and supernatural expectations of the followers of all other religions. Even a speck of irrationality in the beliefs of others offends their sense of right and wrong, while they are totally blind to the presence of the same in their own, however preposterous it may be. They could not have failed to detect the squint of their own eyes, if only they had looked at themselves through the eyes of others. Rationality would have helped each of them to realise that the literal revisit to earth by any prophet or so-called god is illogical. Never has it taken place at any time, anywhere in the entire history of the world, nor can it ever take place in the future. Never was the founder of any religion sighted to have descended from on high; he always appeared through the normal course of human birth. Invariably, he launched a movement that had to strive hard for its survival against all odds. This is reality; any belief that does not conform to this must be relegated to the realms of fantasy. All such promises for the revival of religion must be rejected which offend rationality and have never before been employed by God in religious history. The case of the Muslims seems to offer a rather strange exception to this general rule. Yet, on closer examination, one can discern practically no difference in their position and that of the others, except in the sequence. The Muslims begin by claiming that Prophet Muhammad(sa) is the last of all the prophets and his finality is absolute. The term Khatme-Nabuwwat, the finality of prophethood, is unanimously understood by all the mainstream Muslims to mean this. Despite this, they too await the 56 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 descent of Jesus Christ(as), an old prophet of God. Will his advent not violate the finality of Prophet Muhammad(sa)? This is the most crucial question they must answer. In response to this evident contradiction, they propose that though a new prophet cannot be created, an old prophet can be brought back to fulfil new needs. By this strategy, they seem to have succeeded in keeping the door of prophethood (Nabuwwat) shut and sealed, while manoeuvring to furtively admit Jesus(as) through the back door. The contemporary Muslims, whether they are Sunnites or Shi’ites, seem to share the same interpretation of finality (Khatme- Nabuwwat). All have faith in the readvent of Jesus(as) as a prophet of God, whilst believing simultaneously in the absolute finality of Prophet Muhammad(sa). The problem of inherent contradiction in their belief becomes even more pronounced when it comes to the prophesied advent of Al-lmam Al- Mahdi. As an Imam he is to be directly commissioned by God, and as such it should be incumbent upon every Muslim to believe in him. This aspect of his office will be further elaborated later on. It is briefly mentioned here only to emphasise that the office of AI-lmam AI-Mahdi, despite not possessing the title, holds the prerequisites of a prophet all the same. Having said that we must return now to the likelihood of the re-advent of Jesus Christ(as) and the form in which this may take place. The Ahmadiyya belief differs from the mainstream Muslims only in form and not in the act of his re-advent. The question is whether the form will be literal or metaphorical. Will he be the same person, or will another person be born reminiscent of the old one? Will he appear as a Christian prophet turned Muslim, or a Muslim prophet turned into the metaphorical image of Jesus Christ(as)? What will be his relationship to all other religions? These are the intriguing questions which must be fully addressed. The stance of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is singularly rational. In principle it accepts the claims of all religions who promise the advent of a universal Divine Reformer in the latter days. When the Hindus talk of the re-advent of Krishna(as), their claim has as much right to be accepted as that of the Christians when they speak of the second coming of Jesus C h r i s t( a s ). Likewise the expectations of Zoroastrians concerning 57 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 Zoroaster(as), if they too look forward to his re-advent, or the hopes of the Buddhists or Confucianists that a Buddha(as) or a Confucius(as) would reappear as the Promised Saviour should also be treated with equal respect. But the recognition of the truth of all such diverse and seemingly contradictory claims can only read sense if they are taken metaphorically and not literally. The only rational inference that can be drawn is that the P romised Reformer has to be a single person, embodying the advent of all. Otherwise, the literal fulfilment of all such prophecies is impossible because of the supernatural element intertwined with all of them. This is what the Founder( a s ) of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at put across to the people of the world with incontrovertible logic. The promise of the simultaneous advent of so many reformers could only be metaphorical and not c o r p o real. It was exactly in this sense that he claimed to have fulfilled the advent of Jesus(as) and the Mahdi as one person and also the advents of all others like Buddha(as), Krishna(as) and other promised re f o r m e r s awaited anywhere on earth. Leaving for a while the reaction this claim created among others, we begin with the account of the turmoil it created within the orthodoxy in Islam. They were not concerned with the re-advent of Buddha(as) or Krishna(as) or others in whom they did not believe but they were deeply concerned with Jesus(as), the prophet to the House of Israel. For anyone to claim to be the reborn image of Jesus(as) was far too much for them to digest. For the Jesus(as) of their dreams to be declared physically dead was an enormity -absolute. For his likeness to be born among them was nauseatingly repulsive to the Muslims. It should be remembered that prior to his above mentioned claim, the fame of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) had spread far and wide in British India because of his book Brahin-e-Ahmadiyyah. Paying tribute to the author of this book, Maulawi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi, a renowned Muslim scholar of the Ahle-Hadith sect, has introduced the author of this book to be the best defender of Islam, since the demise of Prophet Muhammad(as)1. However in the midst of this popularity, when he suddenly pronounced Jesus(as), the prophet of Israel, to be dead instead of being alive in heaven, the position changed dramatically. The same scholars who had praised him with hyperbolical tributes changed their 58 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 attitude diametrically. What was he as compared to their Lord Jesus C h r i s t( a s ), the would-be Saviour of the world? Overnight his fame plummeted to earth from the celestial heights it had occupied. The image of Jesus( a s ) had to be tossed back to heaven aloft; he who claimed to have come in his likeness should have been killed instead. The commotion s t i r red by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ) of Qadian was such as the like of which had never been seen before in the religious history of India. Against him, a pandemonium of abuse and vilification broke loose. The rising star of Muslim India, the most sought for leader of Islam, became the most hunted person, no longer deemed fit even to be called an o rdinary Muslim. But it completely failed to cower him. Nothing could deter him from carrying forward the Divine task bestowed upon him. The Christians did not lag far behind either in their hostile reaction. They left no stone unturned to destroy him and demolish his mission. Even fake charges of murder were pressed against him in the British Indian courts of law. But he remained completely unruffled, not in the least bit intimidated. As though that was not enough, he further pronounced himself a manifestation of Krishna(as), the great Indian prophet who was idolised and worshipped as god incarnate. He personally antagonised the Arya Samaj, the most active and redoubtable sect of the Hindus, by launching a counteroffensive against their ferocious attacks on Islam and the Holy Prophets(sa). He also invited their leaders to a spiritual duel with devastating effect upon those who accepted it. In short, he claimed that all the prophecies relating to the Reformers of the latter days were applicable to only one person. Different names and titles mentioned in different scriptures were of no significance. All that was significant was that the Reformer, whoever he may be, must be commissioned by God as the universal Reformer of the latter days. To those who were prisoners of prejudice, he and his claims meant nothing and it was largely by them that he was rejected with unyielding antagonism. He was rejected like all the servants of God before him and was most certainly supported by God as He has always supported His servants. 59 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 It is amazing how people keep forgetting that all prophets of God are treated alike by Him. They too show no difference in their complete submission to Him. Likewise, the universal Promised Reformer will belong exclusively to Him and not to the various re l i g i o u s denominations who expect him to support their distorted beliefs. He will represent God, not those who no longer represent Him. He will only belong to all His servants but not to the self-styled masters of His servants. The Unity of God and the institution of prophethood from among humans are the two fundamentals which belong to every religion. Names and titles differ but they matter not. What matters is for the claimant to be from God. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) never claimed that he had become diff e rent persons with diff e rent names and titles moulded into one. But most clergy feigned to misunderstand him in this regard and incited the ignorant masses to jeer and mock him telling them that he claimed to be all the promised prophets kneaded into one person. The masses were rudely shocked. How could a Krishna, a Jesus, a Mahdi and a Buddha all become a single person? ‘The claimant has to be mad,’ some shouted in scorn. The treatment meted out to him is reminiscent of the same treatment meted out to the Holy Founder(sa) of Islam when he claimed the uncompromising Unity of God. The idolatrous priesthood wilfully distorted his message and made the people believe that he had forged all their gods into a single one whom he styled as Allah. ‘What! Has he made all the gods into one God? This is indeed an astounding thing.2 It should not be difficult for an unbiased investigator to see the wisdom of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad ( a s ) during all his disputations with his opponents. His position was always that of a rational person. Were it not so he could easily be proved wrong in most of his beliefs and contentions by the same instrument of rationality. 60 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 If he were wrong each religion would be visited by a separate reformer holding a diff e rent name, title and ideology. This would open a Pandora’s box of claims and counterclaims which once opened could never be shut again. Each claimant would proclaim himself to be the only true manifestation of the Promised Reformer. Each would invite all of mankind to himself as the only hope of their salvation. Each would declare all rivals to be mere hoaxes and impostors. The utter madness of this scenario is self-evident. No man with any element of sanity can believe in a God who would split humans into hundreds of conflicting schisms and factions in His own name, with His own authority. What manner of God would it be who would make Jesus(as) descend among the Christians, issuing a call for the conquest of the entire world in the name of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost? Having done that, He would hasten to incarnate Himself in the form of Lord Krishna upon Indian soil, assuring the Indian people that He is neither one, nor two, nor three, He is a multitudinous god whose persons and manifestations are hard to count. He is to be worshipped as t rees, as snakes, as scorpions, as elephants and as the deafening thunderstorms. He is to be worshipped as a moon gliding in the stillness of the night. It is He who is also the sun and a countless number of stars in the heavens. On the earth He can clearly be recognised as the cows, the monkeys, the bears, the hyenas, the tigers, the horses, the donkeys, and limitless forms of other animals dwelling in the sea, on land and in the air. He is also to be worshipped as ghosts and other ghostly forms of human fantasy. ‘Run towards me’, He would claim, ‘and worship us’. Before His voice is drowned in the tumult of chantings: ‘O Lord Krishna, hare-Ram, hare-Ram, we worship you one and all’, another voice would be heard gradually rising in crescendo as the voice of the Buddha. It would loudly reject the existence of all such godly figures as Lord Krishna had claimed. He would scorn at the very idea of the existence of God: ‘I am Buddha’, he would shout at the top of his voice. ‘I am no God, neither is there any God besides me. I am only the consummation of human wisdom. That is all you need to know on earth. Let us deny all gods together and celebrate our deliverance from the shackles of this human myth. I have come again to deliver you from God as I always did 61 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 after every millennium, and there is none other besides me who can guide you as I can’. Before he sinks into an all-pervasive silence and retreats into his inner void of eternal nothingness, another voice would rise loud and clear from the neighbouring country of Iran. It would be that of Ahura Mazda, the god of light, speaking through the mouth of Zoroaster. ‘The voice you just heard’, he would pronounce, ‘O children of Bharat and Tibet and China, must have been the voice of Ahraman – the god of darkness, the only god besides me. It had to be he, because there is none other except he and I. Listen carefully O children of Adam: God is neither one nor three, nor four or five. It is a folly to believe in any number of multiple gods. We are neither one nor many, we are just two and the rest is fiction. There is me – the god of goodness, and he – the god of evil, whose voice you just heard impersonating Buddha. He is the god of darkness, while I am that of light. He always denies me, he always rejects me. He always dissuades my servants from worshipping me. He informs mankind that there is none worthy of worship other than man himself. He occupies the seat of each man’s ego and in the name of that ego runs away with all the homage paid to it. Still god he is, I must admit, dark as the darkest night he may be. So bear with him, yet beware of him and worship only me’. In the midst of the tumult created by the warring religious factions mentioned above, the world of Islam will also be stirred to action with the advent of the Mahdi. He will come brandishing his sword, if he is really as bloody as many of the mainstream clergy believe. He will issue the call for a Holy War fighting all the non-Islamic governments of the world. In this paroxysm of religious madness, religion itself would become the ultimate target. Sanity would take flight from this arena of imbecility, beseeching God to rescue religion from the hands of its rescuers. Without urgent remedial measures by Him, the Hindu, the Christian, the Buddhist, the Zoroastrian, the Jew and the Muslim will all suffer alike. 62 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 No man with common sense would hold a brief for such senseless and irrational understanding of God’s designs, Rationality and common sense must be granted their due role in the interpretation of religious prophecies and parables. The golden age of the ultimate unification of man could only be consummated if a single Reformer appeared in the name of God, in a single religion of His choice. This, the only rational solution of the problems confronting the religious world of the latter days, has been firmly rejected by the very people who needed it for their survival. They continue to cling, instead, to their empty vision of a golden age which is nothing but a mirage. The above scenario is a genuine attempt to explain the self-contradictory position of each religion regarding the role it will play in the ultimate redemption of mankind. They open the doors of hope and shut them themselves. The case of the Muslims is only opposite in sequence. They begin to shut the doors by pronouncing the absolute finality of the Holy Prophet(sa) and no sooner have they done so than they begin to open them again. In reality, however, their stance remains unchanged. Hence the drama played on the Muslim stage is essentially no different from the one played on the stages of other world religions. Despite declaring the total uncompromising finality of the Holy Prophet(sa) they cling no less eagerly to the figure of Prophet Jesus(as). They claim that he will certainly come after the Holy Prophet(sa) yet the manner they assign to his coming makes his coming impossible. Thus, for all practical purposes their position remains unaltered. References 1. B ATA LVI, MAULAWI MUHAMMAD HUSSAIN, Isha-at-us- Sunnah, (June/July/Aug, 1884) No.6. Vol.7. p. 169. 2. Translation of Ch.38:V.6 by the author. 63 Future of Reveleation The Review of Religions – June 2003 We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to provide discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. The cost of one year’s subscription is £15 Sterling or US $30 for overseas readers (Please do not send cash). Payments should be made payable to the London Mosque and sent to the address below: The Review of Religions The London Mosque 16 Gressenhall Road London SW18 5QL United Kingdom Please put me on the mailing list for the Review of Religions for 1 year. 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