Efficacy of Repentance – Part 1

21The Review of Religions – June 2003 [Following a discussion on the spread of seasonal epidemics, the Promised Messiah( a s ) stated:] When sinfulness and wickedness spread in the world then such epidemics spread. When people become i n d i ff e rent and care l e s s towards God, God Almighty also becomes indiff e re n t towards such people. I can see that even now there is no Efficacy of Repentance – part 1 The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the P romised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Presented below, in translation, is Part 1 of the address of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi delivered in Qadian on 21 February 1904. The Urdu text of the speech is taken from Malfoozat, Volume 6, and pp.345-350. Malfoozat is the title of the ten volumes that contain the collection of discourses, speeches and addresses of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. [Translator’s Note: All references to the verses of the Holy Qur’an are given in Arabic as they occur in the text. The English translation, presented in Italics, is taken from the translation of the Holy Qur’an by Hadhrat Maulvi Sher Ali Sahib(ra). Where the Promised Messiah(as) has himself stated a certain inter- pretation of the Arabic verse, this is incorporated in the main body of the text]. Translated by Amatul Hadi Ahmad 22 The Review of Religions – June 2003 abatement in their mischief and wickedness despite the fact that the plague is spreading like an all consuming fire that appears to be ready to eat up all that comes in its path. In spite of this t h e re is the same dishonesty, fraud and wicked behaviour. Rather than lessening, mis- conduct seems to be on the i n c rease. This gives an indication of what may the Wi l l of God Almighty be. [People should know that] God does not t i re. In earlier times when people did not desist from evil b e h a v i o u r, the earth was turned ‘upside down’ [i.e. great nations w e re destroyed] and great cities w e re wiped out. When the plague first started to s p read [in India], people thought it was just an illness like many others, illness that just happened to spread at this time and that it would soon disappear. However, God had informed me of it at a time when there was no sign of this epidemic that this disease is about to spread. When this terrible epidemic re a c h e d Bombay, God informed me that it would soon reach Punjab. At this many who did not fear for their own end, laughed and mocked but now you can see how widespread this plague is – there is now no place where it has not reached. If there is any place that has not yet been actually affected then know that it is surrounded by the ‘fire’ of this plague and it too will be engulfed shortly. In reality now is a time for careful consideration and for deep anxiety at the fact that there has not been found a cure or remedy for this plague nor has there been detected any practical action that may be taken as being effective against it. Hence the need for serious thought as to why this pestilence has come when it has and what might be a cure for it? The reality is as God has informed me that unless people turn to God with true repentance and desist fro m mocking and abusing God’s w o rd, until that time there would not be any re p r i e v e . H o w e v e r, when people turn t o w a rds repentance and Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 23The Review of Religions – June 2003 t o w a rds seeking forg i v e n e s s from God Almighty as well as manifesting an internal change, then God too would look down with mercy. However, I see that to date there has been no noticeable change. It seems to be the same hothouse of mischief and wickedness and numerous sins of all descrip- tion are being committed. From this it appears that ‘pre – parations’ are in hand for God’s punishment. There are prophecies regarding this even in the earlier Books that at the time close to the ‘latter days’, t h e re would be a general spread of epidemics that would take a great number of lives. Such days are close at hand and there has now broken out a fatal epidemic of pestilence which tells us that these are the ‘latter days’. Remember this well that when the poisonous air of meanness and jealousy, of dishonesty and evil behaviour starts to blow, then it is the case that the love for God becomes cold and mankind does not display any fear of God as it should. This ‘ill wind’ is similar to the air that s p reads diseases such as cholera and it destroys wherever it goes. At such a time some fall p rey to the illness and die but those who survive, they too are left feeling poorly and they do not enjoy good health. They s u ffer from ailments such as indigestion and other similar illnesses that emerge affected by the air of the epidemic. Similar is the case with spiritual ailments. When the ‘ill wind’ of prevalence of sins blows, some are destro y e d completely but the spiritual Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 WHEN THE ‘ILL WIND’ OF PREVALENCE OF SINS BLOWS, SOME ARE DESTROYED COMPLETELY BUT THE SPIRITUAL HEALTH OF THOSE WHO SURVIVE ALSO SUFFERS TO SOME EXTENT AND THIS IS HAPPENING NOW. ….. – I T I S S U C H T H AT T H E I R A C T I O N S A R E D I S TA N T F R O M T H E BO O K A N D T H E S U N N A H, [I.E. T H E T R A D I T I O N S O F T H E HO LY PR O P H E T(S A)] . 24 The Review of Religions – June 2003 health of those who survive also suffers to some extent and this is happening now. There are many that openly commit evil deeds and are engulfed in debauched behaviour and they are a long distance away from righteousness and fear of God. The condition of those who are customarily re f e r red to as ‘ religious’ has also deteriorated – it is such that their actions are distant from the Book and the Sunnah, [i.e. the traditions of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a )]. They do whatever they think is right. They have abandoned the reality and spirit [of Islam] and a d h e re, instead, to the outer shell and bones. That is why God Almighty has, according to His practice, sent a punishment. In such situations, God Almighty turns this very world into an example of Qayamah, that is ‘Dooms Day’, and such terrifying situations unfold that life itself appears like an example of Dooms Day. At p resent we are facing such days because I can see that instead of love of truth there is an animosity towards the truth and the standard of behaviour has deteriorated. There is so much s t ress on incorrect beliefs that the situation has now re a c h e d e x t reme proportions. Observe all the diff e rent nations who w e re silent [re g a rding Islam] for the past thirteen hundred years even though, from time to time, they were at war with Islam but they were still quiet [as re g a rd s p ropaganda against Islam]. They did not indulge in the calculated wickedness that they now manifest for the total d e s t ruction and eradication of Islam. They did not then possess the religious poison that they now display. Fifty years ago if we were to look for a book against Islam, very possibly we would not find a single copy. Nowadays, however, there is such an abundance of this type of literature that if these were collected up in one place they would form a mountain. Some Christian publications are published in hundreds of thousands in one go. They p roduce literature in which a humble mortal has been turned into a god. At the same time the Reformer and Rejuvenator, the Holy Prophet of Islam, (peace Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 25The Review of Religions – June 2003 and blessings of God be upon him) who came at a time when the world was full of impurity and impiety and who cleansed and purified the world and gave life to a world that was dead – in respect of such a pure and gre a t person these people use such foul language the like of which has never been used pre v i o u s l y for any one of the one hundre d and twenty four thousand P rophets that have gone before. I am amazed that these wretched people felt that they had to target the Holy Prophet of Islam (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). and yet have turned a weak son of Adam into a god and they carry out their ill deeds fearlessly with much glaring boldness. They them- selves consume alcohol like water and yet dare to attack a pure and holy personage such as that of the Holy Pro p h e t (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If any one wishes to see the effect of the salvation off e red by the Christians, he should travel to European countries and see for himself what example of purity and piety it offers! [ T h e re is yet another gro u p ] who consider themselves to be very sophisticated. They are totally bent upon this world and they are so immersed in the world that they have in fact made the world their god. It is c o n s i d e red laughable before this group to utter such word s as ‘God willing’, and to suggest turning towards God and tru s t in God seem to them foolish and laughable acts. Yet the influence of this group is [so pervasive] that it is destro y i n g h u n d reds of thousands of people. Despite the fact [that they consider reliance upon God a foolish thing to do] yet for the eradication of Islam they think nothing of spending money like water – thousands upon thousands of Rupees are given to this cause. Remember, h o w e v e r, that Islam will not be eradicated despite all efforts for its eradication – its Protector is God Almighty Himself. Turning to the internal state of Islam [as is being practised by Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 26 The Review of Religions – June 2003 the Muslims], we see that the fountain of all knowledge and blessings used to be the religious scholars. However, their condition has become so downgraded and pitiable that one feels a sense of shame to even speak of it. It appears to be the case that whatever error is committed by one of them, it is a d h e red to with such force that it is impossible for them to let go of it. More o v e r, should someone point out their mistakes, they pounce on such a person, giving him such titles as ‘ K a f i r’ and ‘Dajjal’, [meaning ‘non believer’ and ‘anti-Christ’] – such is their practice. The practise of the truthful and righteous person, on the c o n t r a r y, is such that fro m whichever direction he is informed of his error he abandons it there and then – he does not persist in his erro r. The existence and persistence of d i ff e rent sects, the hurling of insults amongst the diff e re n t sects, lack of awareness of the knowledge of the Qur’an and of Islam point to their condition. That which affects only the world, punishment and the e ffect related to that is also limited to the world. However, when a matter relates to the h e re a f t e r, laxity in relation to that could lead to the abyss. At times I am so surprised at the behviour of such people that the thought goes through my mind that they do not have a belief in God; otherwise I do not understand how it is that they see signs and manifes- tations and I present to them argument after argument but without any effect. On the c o n t r a r y, before those who truly believe if we as much as recite God’s verses, they are filled with the fear of God and do not dare to falsify it or dare to open their lips against it. The other group, however, are in a strange state. First of all, I put before them this point that God has appointed me and then in support of my claim I present to them verses from the Holy Q u r ’an but they refuse to accept either of these. Thereafter, when I present to them the witness of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 27The Review of Religions – June 2003 him)., they become fearful but even that has no effect. They see the signs of God but they refute them, nor do any intellectual arguments have any effect. In short, whatever means can be employed for the recognition of a truthful person are presented to them but they do not accept any of these. T h e re is a story about Jesus( a s ) (in Mathnawi of Maulana Rum) that once Jesus was running and someone enquired as to why he was running. He said I am running from the ignorant. Someone said why do you not blow upon them Ism-e-Azam [the most effective name of God]. He said even Ism-e-Azam does not have any effect on them. In re a l i t y, ignorance, too, is a dangerous death. Here , h o w e v e r, it is beyond under- standing as to what kind of ignorance this is. These people read the Qur’an, make commentaries on it, they have the Hadith as a check but when we present [the same by way of p roof] they refute it. They neither believe themselves nor allow others to believe. We are living through an age in which human beings have completely forgotten the purpose for which they were c reated, [as stated in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an]. And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me. (Ch.51;V.57) H o w e v e r, these days foolish man wishes to come out of the state of being a servant of God and seeks to become God Himself and truthfulness and sincerity and faithfulness that God desires [from human beings] is non existent in such people. Should one stand in the bazaar, one would see thousands of people coming f rom one end and going to the other but their purpose is nothing more than the material world. Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 28 Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 The Review of Religions – June 2003 God has not stopped man from undertaking work of this world – he should not, however, do so for the world. He should do it for his faith and doing so would make the work blessed. For instance, God commands that Muslims should be kind to their wives: And consort with them in kindness. (Ch.4: V.20) However, if a person does so on the basis of one’s own selfish feelings then it is of no consequence. However, if the same treatment is done for the sake of obedience to the divine teaching then it becomes blessed. I see that people carry out their worldly chores for the sake of the world. It is the love for the world that makes them do things – they do not do it for the sake of God. For instance, if they wish for pro g e n y, they should pray that God may grant them a child who would, under the following Quranic verse, be the cause of upholding the ways of Islam. And make us a model for the righteous. (Ch.25:V.75) When there is such a noble d e s i re, God who is All Omnipotent, can grant progeny even as He granted to Zakariah. However, I see that people do not seem to look beyond ‘this is my garden, and these are my possessions’, in order that he should keep them in his own possession and takes care that no one else should take them away from him. Such people do not even think that when they die, for them friend and foe would be alike. I have heard many people who ask for prayers that they may have an heir for their estate lest some other family may become their heirs. They do not care if the children they have are good or bad or very bad as long as they have progeny. This would appear to be all the knowledge of Islam that they have. In contrast, if 29 Efficacy of Repentance – Part 2 The Review of Religions – June 2003 you take a true believer, he would place his religion before all else – should he build a house, he would think of the religious aspect first. His clothing and eating, all are for the sake of his faith. He eats, not for the sake of getting fit, but for being fit for the sake of performing his duty by his faith, just as the owner of a horse that is used in earning his keep feeds the horse, keeps it w a t e red and generally takes good care of it in order that he can benefit well from it. Similar is the case of a person – his own self has rights that he needs to attend to, and the family has rights that he has to fulfil and there is also the right of God. Should he not attend to the rights of his own self or person, then he would die and that would be something for which he would be answerable. In short, remember that a true believer in fact worships God [in all his worldly concerns] – his every word and every act, his state of rest or comfort, all are in reality worship of God even though apparently these may give cause for objections. There are many matters that an ignorant person considers objectionable but in the sight of God these are considered to be worship of God. However, if there is no sincerity of intention then even Salat [an act of worship] becomes a curse. To be continued NOTE: In this journal, for the information of non-Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or ‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Salallahu alaihi wassalam’ meaning ‘Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from Alaih salato wassalam’ for the respect a Muslim reader utters. Also ru or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta ’ a l a m e a n s the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him