Death and the Afterlife

The Path to Righteousness

7The Review of Religions – November 2003 [ Tr a n s l a t o r’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 S a h i b( r a ). Where the Promised Messiah(as) has himself stated a certain interpretation of an Arabic verse, this is incorporated in the main body of the text]. The reward of faith is the Garden of Paradise and, as streams of water are required to keep the garden green and luscious, such ‘streams of flowing water’ are the consequence of acts of goodness. The reality of this is that acts of goodness performed in this world will take on a The Path to Righteousness 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 Promised 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 is a compilation of extracts that have been taken from the discourses and speeches of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, as recorded in the collection entitled Malfoozat. 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. Translated by Amatul Hadi Ahmad 8 The Review of Religions – November 2003 symbolic resemblance to the flowing streams of water in the next world. In this world, too, we witness that the more a person progresses in his acts of goodness and the more he safeguards himself against deeds that may be acts of disobedience to God Almighty, the more he abandons the practices that go outside the limits set by God the greater is his faith. Every new act of goodness brings him greater satisfaction and he attains a deeper inner strength. The knowledge of God begins to give him pleasure until such time as a believer is granted by God’s grace, a state of love for God in which he becomes totally immersed. The light of God engulfs his heart completely and all types of darkness and hindrances are removed from his path. In this state, all difficulties and tribulations that are placed in the path towards God, do not worry the seeker for one moment. Instead, facing tribulation [in the path of God] becomes a source of pleasure for such people. This is the final stage of belief. There are seven aspects of belief and an additional, final, one that is granted through the love and grace of God. This is why there are seven doors of paradise and the eighth one is opened only through the special Grace of God. It is worth remembering that heaven and hell that will be found in the next world will not be something entirely new. They are an image formed by a person’s faith and his actions and this is its true philosophy. It will not be something that will be given to a person from the outside – it is something that emanates from within a human being. For the true believer there is a ‘paradise’ in this world for every situation that he may find himself in. The ‘paradise’ that exists for him in this world contains the promise of paradise in the next world. How clear this matter is that paradise lies within people’s own beliefs and good deeds. The enjoyment of its pleasure begins in this very world. It is the same belief and righteous actions of this world that appear as gardens of paradise together with the The Path of Righteousness 9The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness flowing streams of water. (Malfoozat, Vol. 2, pp.386-388) The best and satisfactory state for a human being is that in which the state of his deeds is clear and correct. His actions should vouch for this and the blessings of God and powerful and extraordinary signs should be with him and always support him. It is only then that he is with God and God is with him. Satan creates an opportunity for himself in everything to deceive and divert people [from the right path]. It is because I have repeatedly presented my own revelations that some people have had the idea that they too should do the same. This is a tribulation that has been imposed upon them and Satan helped them in this path of destruction. Consequently they began to receive satanic revelation and to hear voices from within themselves. People such as Chiragh Din, Ilahi Baksh, Faqir Mirza and many others met their destruction in this path and there are many others still who are treading the same path. Members of my Community should move away from such things. On the Day of Judgement, God will not ask them how many dreams they had, rather, they will be questioned about righteous acts and as to how many good deeds they performed. Revelation is an act of God, it is not an act of man. To consider God’s act to be the cause of pride and joy is the work of an ignorant person. Observe the [life of] the Holy Prophet(sa) and see how he used to worship. At times he would stand up all night [in prayer] so that his feet would become swollen. When his wife enquired as to why he strove so hard when he had been purified of sin, he replied, ‘Should I not become a grateful servant [of God]’. A person should never give up hope. The onslaught of sins is a very severe thing and reform seems difficult but one should not despair. Some people say that we are sinners and we are overwhelmed by [the demands of] the self so how is it possible for us to become righteous. They 10 The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness should consider that a believer is never without hope. He who despairs [and thinks that there is no hope] is none other than Satan himself. A believer should never be a coward. No matter how much a person is overwhelmed by his sins, God has placed such ability in man that he eventually does overcome sin. God has placed in man a power that burns away sin and this power is there in man’s nature. You will note that no matter how much water is heated – it can be heated so much that it burns whatever it touches – but even then if this water is poured over fire, it will quell the fire. This is because God has placed this characteristic in water that if it is poured over fire, fire is extinguished. Likewise, no matter how much a person is immersed in sins, no matter how much he is drowning in bad deeds, even then he has the capacity to put out the fire of sins. However, if this ability had not been given to man, he could not then have been held accountable for himself. What is more, in that case even the appearance of Prophets and Messengers would have been unnecessary. The reality is that the nature of man is pure [and provision has been made for its requirements]. If there is physical hunger and thirst, there is also food and water. A human GOD HAS PLACED IN MAN A POWER THAT BURNS AWAY SIN AND THIS POWER IS THERE IN MAN’S NATURE. YOU WILL NOTE THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH WATER IS HEATED – IT CAN BE HEATED SO MUCH THAT IT BURNS WHATEVER IT TOUCHES – BUT EVEN THEN IF THIS WATER IS POURED OVER FIRE, IT WILL QUELL THE FIRE. THIS IS BECAUSE GOD HAS PLACED THIS CHARACTERISTIC IN WATER THAT IF IT IS POURED OVER FIRE, FIRE IS EXTINGUISHED. LIKEWISE, NO MATTER HOW MUCH A PERSON IS IMMERSED IN SINS, NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE IS DROWNING IN BAD DEEDS, EVEN THEN HE HAS THE CAPACITY TO PUT OUT THE FIRE OF SINS. 11The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness being needs air to breathe, so there is air. In short, if all that is required for the physical body is provided for, why should there not be provided the requirements of the soul? God Who is ever Merciful and ever Forgiving and who covers up the faults of his servants, has provided all the necessary provisions for the preservation of the soul. If a human being were to search for the spiritual water, he will find it. If he searches for the spiritual bread, it would be given to him. Just as there is a law of the physical world, so there is a law relating to the spiritual world but the condition is that one must seek. He who seeks shall find. He who strives to find God shall certainly meet the pleasure of God. (Malfoozat, Vol. 10, pp.93-95) Having taken the Oath of Allegiance, a person should not be content with the belief that this movement is based on the truth and that such a belief would bring blessings. The present time is one of tribulation and the plague is spreading all around. God is not pleased with mere belief unless it is accompanied by good deeds. Now that you have entered the fold of this Community, you should try to be good and righteous. You should avoid all ills and should spend your time in prayer – supplicate [before God] day and night. Time of tribulation is also the time of God’s anger and at such a time p r a y e r, supplication, giving of alms and repentance should be the norm and your speech should be kind and gentle. Prayers should also be offered during Salat as the saying goes, ‘he who pleads, does not die’. Mere belief does not serve man – the belief of a person who puts his belief to one side cannot benefit him. Subsequently, it is meaningless to complain that taking the pledge of Initiation has been of no benefit! God is not pleased with mere words. In the Holy Qur’an, God has set righteous actions with belief. Righteous deeds are deeds that do not contain the slightest ill within them. However, remem- ber that the good deeds of a 12 The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness human being are attacked by ‘thieves’. What are these ‘thieves’? These include actions that are carried out for show as well as the feeling of pride at o n e ’s good actions. There are also numerous other ill deeds and sins that a person often commits. All such behaviour falsify the good deeds. The righteous deed is that which contains no element of cruelty, ostentation, pride or the usurping of the rights of others. Just as good deeds safeguard one in the next world, so he is saved in this world through good deeds. In a household, if there is even one person who performs righteous deeds, the whole household is safeguarded. It should, therefore, be well understood that mere belief is of no avail until one steadfastly performs righteous deeds. When a physician writes a prescription, he intends that the patient would follow that prescription and take the prescribed medicine. Should the patient not make use of the medicine and put the prescription aside, what benefit can possibly accrue to him! (Malfoozat, Vol. 4, pp.274-275) Remember this well that unless deeds are done with a true and sincere intention and are accompanied by true spirituality, they can be of no benefit and will be of no avail. Deeds can only be referred to as righteous when there is no corruption in them of any kind. The opposite of rectitude is disorder. The pious person is he who is completely free from all forms of disorder and dissension. Salat that is in a state of disorder and is tainted with ulterior motives, is certainly not for God – it does not ‘reach’ up above the ground by as much as even a hand because such people are devoid of sincerity and spirituality. There are many people who raise the objection, questioning the need for [the formation] of this Community when according to them they, too, offer Salat and keep fasts. In this way they deceive others and there is no doubt that some people who are unfamiliar with [our teachings and with our Community] may well be deceived and join others 13The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness in saying that we, too, offer our Salat and keep fasts and recite the various prayers, why then has this division been created? Remember that such talk is the result of ignorance and lack of recognition of God. [The creation of division] is not my doing – if there is division, it is God who has created this division because it is God who has established this Community. The reason for this is that the spiritual state has become so weakened that it has reached the point where the force of faith has completely disappeared. However, God wishes to give new life to true faith and this He has done through the new C o m m u n i t y. Given these circumstances the objections of the people who question the formation of this Community are absurd and without any basis. In short, remember this well that such doubts and suspicions should not enter one’s heart and if one were to consider this matter fully, such thoughts should not even arise. It is when careful consideration is not given to these matters that doubts and suspicions arise and some people who look only at the surface, raise the objection that there are other people who are also Muslims. Such doubts and suspicions can very quickly lead a person to his destruction. I have seen letters that have been written by people who apparently belong to our Community but say that they are asked by others as to what the need is for a new Community when they too offer Salat, declare the same Kalima, and keep fasts? Such people further write in their letters that those who question them appear to be good people, doing good works. Despite the fact that the writers of such letters belong to our Community, upon hearing objections and doubts, they write that they do not know the answer [to such objections]. I feel regret and pity for such people that they have failed to understand our true purpose and intention. They only see that other people customarily adhere to the practice of Islam and in this trait they deem to fulfil their duty to God but their 14 The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness practises lack the spirit of truth. Hence, such objections work like the suspicions created by acts of magic and [those influenced] do not care to think that our intention is to create a true faith that saves a person from the death of a sinful life. Such motives are not to be found in those who follow only the customs and traditions. Their sight is set only upon the apparent – it is not upon the reality. What they have is only the outer skin, not the inner kernel. Remember and understand this point that at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) had the Jews abandoned the Torah? Had they abandoned practising the Torah? Certainly not! The Jews even now believe in the Torah and their practise is according to this Book. Their sacrifices and other customs are still carried on today as they were at that time. They continue to face towards Bait-ul-Muqadis while per- forming their prayers. At the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) there were also present great Jewish scholars and Jewish priests, so what need was there for the Holy Prophet(sa) and for the new Book of God [namely, the Holy Qur’an]? There also existed at that time the Christian people. Among them, too, was a sect that believed in the Unity of God. What then was the reason for the appointment by God of the Holy Prophet Muhammad( s a ) and for the Book of God? This is a question that should be carefully considered by our opponents and by those who raise such objections [against the formation of our Community]. This is a very subtle issue but those who ponder and consider matters carefully will be able to see that it is not such a difficult matter. Remember that God looks only upon the soul and upon spirituality. God does not look at the apparent actions – He looks only at the reality and the inner state as to whether the actions are tainted by an element of selfishness and personal desires or whether there is sincerity and true obedience to God. The apparent form of deeds, however, 15The Review of Religions – November 2003 The Path of Righteousness may deceive a person. He may be led to think highly of a person who is seen with a rosary in hand or if he observes a person to be o ffering voluntary prayers at night or mid-morning. Similarly, when he sees someone to be performing noble acts of virtue, he may believe him to be a saintly person but God does not like the show of ‘outer layer’ [of deeds]. God is never pleased with [acts that are only] an outer shell, an outer covering – God is not pleased until there is loyalty and true sincerity. (Malfoozat, Vol. 6, pp.237-240) Taqwa, that is, righteousness is no small thing. Through it one has to battle against all those ‘Satans’ that overwhelm a person’s inner strength and force. All these forces in the state of ‘Nafse Ammara’, that is, the self that incites to evil, are a Satan within man. If these forces are not controlled they will come to enslave a person. Knowledge and intelligence also become ‘Satans’ when used improperly. The task of the righteous person is to develop these and all of his capacities correctly. Similarly, those who consider revenge, anger and marriage to be a bad thing in all circumstances, they too go against nature and they battle against the basis of human nature and human instinct. The true religion is that which nurtures human capabilities and not one that degrades them. Anger and virility of man are aspects of human nature that have been placed there by God and, therefore, to abandon them such as becoming a hermit or a monk is to fight with God. All such matters that go against human nature usurp the rights of human beings. If matters were in fact as they try to depict them then it would be posing an objection against God who created and placed within us those capabilities. (Malfoozat, Vol.1, pp.33-51)