QUESTION & ANSWER: Contemporary Issues

In the speech it was stated that salvation cannot be monopolised. Why then does God say in the Holy Qur’an that ‘to God religion is Islam’? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: This is a very important aspect of what I have alre a d y explained to you. Islam, according to the Holy Qur’an, is an epithet or a description that is applicable not only to the religion known as Islam but also to all the religions of the world at their source. ‘Islam’ means submission and total submission. According to Islam itself every religion of the world was based on ‘Islam’. F u r t h e r m o re, the faith of Abraham is also referred to as ‘Islam’. This is one reason why you feel that there is an apparent contradiction in these two statements. Another reason is that, a c c o rding to Islam, salvation depends on the truth of a person more than on what he believes. If he believes in something to be true with all his sincerity and honesty and QUESTIONER 15The Review of Religions – June 2003 Contemporary Issues On 24 February 1990 Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (God’s Mercy be upon him) gave an address at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This address has since been published as a book entitled Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues. After the address the audience was invited to ask any questions they wished. Presented below are some of the questions that were raised in this session and answers given by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru). Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad there is no contradiction in him re g a rding his belief and his action then he would not be held responsible for his errors of judgement. This is the fundamental philosophy of Islamic teaching. At the same time, however, the Holy Qur’an d e c l a res in other places that Islam is the final religion. For instance in Chapter 5 verse 4 of the Holy Qur’an states: This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My Favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. (Ch 5: V. 4) That is, ‘We have perfected for mankind a religion that has become universal’. Hence for universal man this religion is needed – man stands in need of this religion. However, if he has not heard of it, at least not convincingly, then if he sticks to his own beliefs in all honesty and sincerity, the message is he should not be afraid of God Who is Just and Kind. You quote the Qur’an as stating that women are equal to men in all regards. But as far as the vast majority of the Muslim world is concerned, women are definitely not credited as such. O b v i o u s l y, although pure in statement, the teachings of Islam are not interpreted as such by mankind. What are your views on this since this is not an issue that is re a d i l y accepted by many Muslim men? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: This is again a very important issue. What I did say was not that they are equal but that they had equal rights in proportion to the rights of men upon them. This is exactly the statement of the Holy Qur’an. However, at the same time, if you read on in the verse, you will find that the Holy Qur’an declares this, despite the fact that men have an advantage over women in some ways. For instance, and this is mentioned in other places in the Holy Qur’an, that men are created QUESTIONER 16 Contemporary Issues The Review of Religions – June 2003 stronger and more powerful. F u r t h e r m o re, men have the advantage of not being responsible for reproduction in the sense that they do not have to carry human babies in their bellies for nine months and to look after them. Such differences do exist. Equality, however, is not in totality of constitution. Equality is only in relative terms of rights. Hence, Islam knows no diff e re n c e between a man’s right and a woman’s right. However, they would, of course, be related to their constitution as well. God only knows how He has created mankind so wherever you discover any difference in teaching you will always find it without fail, without exception, in that the difference is directly related to the constitutional differences, not otherwise. Turning to the other part of the question and the statement that the world of Islam is not acting upon Islamic teachings, as I have already explained, this is the case in respect of all religions of the world. Where are the countries in which the religions of those countries are practiced in all honesty and sincerity and good under- standing. Religion is flying on a higher plane which is raving and making noises but it has not been connected up with the ‘veins’ of human action. A raving engine can only play on one’s nerves but cannot help one move along. This, unfortunately, is the situation of religion everywhere in the world. How is personal sin dealt with in Islam? If God is All Merciful and forgiving then why not sin so that God may be even more merciful? Where is the line drawn between those who go to Paradise and those who go to Hell? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Sin and forgiveness have a relationship between man and God very similar to the relationship that exists between man and man. In daily experiences you find that your children ‘sin’ against you and QUESTIONER 17 Contemporary Issues The Review of Religions – June 2003 against the discipline of the house. In what sense is this so? It is so in the sense that you know better than they do. You understand that ultimately their misdeeds are wrong for them and it so happens that sometimes they are forg i v e n and sometimes they are not forgiven. It so happens that at times it is the ‘sin’ itself that automatically ‘contains’ the ‘punishment’ [through the chain of cause and effect]. For instance, if a child, attracted by the dazzle of fire, mistakenly puts his hand in the fire before the mother can prevent him, his hand would burn. Hence, this is the nature of ‘sin’ and punishment which sometimes is directly and immediately related to sin. If one observes the history of permissiveness in some advanced societies of the world one would be amazed to learn that every time a wave of permissiveness captured the imagination of society, it was followed by a wave of ‘natural punishment’. Long ago there was gonnorrhoea, syphilis, sex- related herpes, and then there is AIDS. In short, how can you say that God is not forgiving because He has created a system of cause and effect. So sin must not be understood in a narrower term as if it is only in relation to God. Sin is misbehaviour of all types in any situation. Sometimes it is punished and sometimes it is not immediately and directly punished. It depends on the detection and sometimes it is f o rgiven because forg i v e n e s s p romotes reformation and sometimes it is not forg i v e n because forgiveness promotes crime. More importantly, by forgiving some you would be usurping the rights of others. This is the fundamental philosophy of forgiveness and punishment that has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an which states that to forgive is better provided it causes reformation. In a society where murder has become the order of the day, the removal of capital punishment from the legal system of a country, is a 18 Contemporary Issues The Review of Religions – June 2003 form of forgiveness that is bound to encourage murder in that society. I have been studying the data of crime in European countries and you will also share my opinion because I am talking of facts, that the more the governments grew lenient re g a rding some crimes, the more they flourished. The Holy Qur’an states that only those people will be re w a rded by God, who forgive on the condition that their forgiveness promotes reformation and not crime. This is so also in your homes when, suppose, a child is disposed to hurting others, or hurting other children of the same family, would you go on f o rgiving such a child l i m i t l e s s l y, for all times to come. That is an impossible scenario but suppose it happened. In that case the outcome would be that you w e re being kind to the ‘criminal’ and unkind to the other innocent children. Yo u would be responsible for the s u ffering caused by such a child to its siblings. You should try to understand the philo- sophy of sin through your own personal experience and your inner wisdom would declare that is exactly how it should be in relation to God. There is no other philosophy that can govern this relationship. 19 Contemporary Issues The Review of Religions – June 2003