Dreams, Visions and Revelation

Al-Hayy – The Living God

33The Review of Religions – March 2004 Alif Lam Mim. (I am Allah, the All-Knowing) Allah is He beside Whom there is no God, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. (Ch.3: Vs.2-3) In these opening verses of Sura Al- Imran Chapter 3, in the Ay a t u l – K u r s i (Chapter 2: V.256) and at three other places in the Holy Q u r’an, Allah refers to Himself by this most glorious name of Al Hayy: The Living, the Self- S u b s i s t i n g . The Promised Messiah(as) d e c l a r e d : ‘He is Self-Existing in His Being and everything is alive through Him. He is Self- Existing and everything exists through Him. He is All- Sustaining and nothing sup- ports Him. There is nothing that has come into being on its own or can live without Him on its own. ( L e c t u re Lahore) Commentators of the Holy Qur’ a n and lexicographers have explained Al Hayy as One Who never dies, and He Who lasts forever, (Q a rt a b i ), One Whose existence is from ever to ever, (J a l a l a i n ). Ibne Kathir says that Al Hayy is He Who would never die- He Who is the First and the Last – He Who has the knowledge about everything, Who is Everlasting, Ever Remaining, Ever Existing, and Eternal and Who is Ever- Living. Mufridat and Lane describe Al Hayy as an attribute of God, signifying that God is the only Being Who is deathless, and lives by Himself, needing no support. He is Eternal and Ever- Lasting. From all these the general sense e m e rges of a Being Who is perfectly Alive, Aw a r e , Cognisant, and Active. The Promised Messiah( a s ) h a s written that: Al-Hayy – The Living God by Naeem Ahmad of New York USA based on a speech delivered on 27 June 2003 at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Annual Convention of USA 34 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 ‘In order to bestow perfect understanding upon His humble creatures, God Almighty has set out His noble attributes in two aspects. First He has described His attributes metaphorically, as resembling some human qualities, as for instance, He is Noble, Merciful, Beneficent and becomes angry and has love…. To repel the notion that man resembles God in respect of these attributes and God resembles man, as a contrast, God has mentioned in the Holy Qur’an His attributes of transcendence also; that is to say such attributes of which man does not take partake at all in His Being or His qualities.’ (Chashma Marifat) Al Hayy is one of those beautiful names of God that pertain to His Divine Person or His Being. Other beautiful names in this category include Al Wahid t h e One, Al Haqq the True, As Samad, the Besought of All, Al Qayyum the All Sustaining, Al Awwal the F i r s t, Al Aakhir the Last, Al Quddus the Holy, and Al Ghani the Self-Sufficient. Al Hayy is the Being Whose Power is limitless, Whose knowledge knows no bounds, Who is Ever- Vigilant, Ever- Watchful, He does not depend upon other beings and is not limited to time and space. Al Hayy is the prime attribute that makes God worshipable. If He was not alive what could He do for others? If He is not the bestower of life, what right has He to require obedience and worship from others? Al Hayy requires worship because He gave life and did not leave it without providing sustenance. Allah is not like a builder who may raise a building but is not concerned about its daily maintenance or the needs of its occupants. Such a builder’s existence and attendance is not necessary for the good of the building; nor will his death cause any problem to it; whereas the universe and all that it contains, including us human beings are always in need of and cannot function without Allah’s constant support, timely assis- 35 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 tance and maintained sustenance. Our God has not only provided for all our needs, but He remains Ever-Watchful for all corrections that the course of our life may require. Al Hayy is called the I s m e Adham, the Great Name. If it was to be stricken out from the attributes of Allah then the rest of the attributes would be of no avail. If He is not Al Hayy then a non-entity cannot be Al Qayyum, the All-Sustaining, or Ar- Rahman, the Gracious, or Ar- Raheem, the Merciful, or the Sustainer of all the Worlds or the Master of the Day of Judgment. Al Hayy is, therefore, the first and foremost of the attributes and qualities with which Allah can be recognised and identified. Without realisation of this attribute the creation and sustenance of the Universe cannot be conceived. The Promised Messiah( a s ) h a s conveyed to us the significance of this most noble attribute of the Almighty in several of his writings: ‘This means that true being and true existence and all true qualities belong only to God and no one is an associate with Him in respect of them. He alone is alive in His Being and everything else exists through His support. He is not subject to death so also He is not subject to even temporary cessation of His senses like sleep or slumber.’ (Chashma Marifat) The Promised Messiah( a s ) a l s o said: ‘He is the Ever-Living and All-Sustaining, if He were not so, there would be fear lest He die before us.’ (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam) The proposition about the so- called death of God, is not as preposterous as it may sound. Time Magazine ran a cover story entitled ‘Is God Dead?’ in their April 8, 1966 issue. The magazine cited public attitudes viz ‘I am too darned busy to worry about God’, ‘Religion is good for the kids, 36 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 though I am not religious myself’ , and ‘God is a kind of an older man, who is just and fair, but can get angry at times and He does not do much about most things a n y w a y.’ The magazine quoted several leading theologians and intellectuals of that time. They wondered that God’s work had been long done after He initiated the Creation. The consensus seemed to be that while the existence of God is not in question, the concept of God needed revision. There was a dire need to reinvent or redefine a God who was not only all love but also satisfied their need for an awe inspiring Being to Whom they could feel and hear and reach out. On a secular level the feeling was that since we have the marvels of modern technology there is no need for God to work miracles. We have social and moral scientists who have developed a theory of ethics based on enlightened self-interest and need no living God to hang on to. There was a sequel, an article in the May 2, 1969 issue, where most of the experts approached for the earlier article, reiterated the view that a transcendent God of the Bible had died and He was irrelevant today; h o w e v e r, the dominant current concept is waiting for God. Alas, this waiting has come to naught. As recently as June 14 2003, there was an article on the Op-Ed page of the New Yo r k Times, bemoaning and lamenting the fact that there is no mention of God or a hint of religion in the new European Union constitution now being written. The preamble extols Europe’s ‘underlying humanism, equality of persons, freedom, respect for reason’. The use of the word ‘humanist’, according to the columnist, was a signal that Europe had done away with the concept of God, living or otherwise. The fact is that our God requires much more than blind faith or lip service. Works of righteousness must accompany belief. That is why there has to be an Al Hayy, the Living, to guide our continued effort towards leading a good life here and to make provisions for the next. Allah says in Sura Al Hadeed: 37 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 He is with you, wheresoever you maybe. (Ch.57:V.5) This promise of Him being with us is, to borrow from computer- speak, in Real Time. He is Al Hayy and always alive for our needs. The question then arises, how do we know that God is alive, active and cognisant? The answer is the same as for the existence of God: T h e re is none worthy of worship other than Allah, M u h a m m a d( s a ) is the Messenger of Allah. As the Promised Messiah(as) has explained in a letter to Pandit Agni Hotri that: T h e re is none worthy of worship other than Allah is the claim and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah is the proof. He also said: ‘ We call thousands of blessings and peace and mercy on the Holy Prophet M u h a m m a d( s a ), the chosen one, who gives us proof of His existence through His Word. He demonstrates to us through extraordinary signs His shining countenance, which possesses eternal and perfect p o w e r. We found the Messenger who manifested God to us and we found the God Who created everything through His perfect Power.’ (Naseem-e-Dawat) It is the excellent exemplar, the complete guide, the eff e c t i v e moral teacher, the blessed life and successful completion of the mission of that perfect human being, the Apostle of Allah, Seal of the Prophets, Lord of the children of Adam, our Master Muhammad Mustapha( s a ) t h a t compels us to believe in Al Hayy, the Living God. And trust thou in the Living One, Who dies not, and glorify 38 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 Him with His praise. And sufficient is He as the Knower of the sins of His servants. (Ch 25: Vs. 59) The Holy Prophet( s a ) was thus commanded, comforted and guided by Allah. With complete assurance of the active support of the Ever Living God, he was to devote all his faculties and utilise his entire energies in pursuing his mission of conveying the message and commandments of Allah, and to be a mercy for all the worlds. He was to lead such a life that it would be an excellent example not only for his companions but also for all the generations of all the peoples in all parts of the world till the end of times. The life of the Holy Prophet( s a ) i s essentially a continuous story of his trust in the Ever Living God. He won the hearts and minds of his people with Allah’s help. He fought many defensive battles and was successful against over- whelming odds. He accomplished all of these only by supplicating to the Ever Living God. There are several authentic traditions that tell us that whenever there was a momentous decision to be made, or looming calamity to be avoided, or problem to be solved, the Holy Prophet( s a ) i n v a r i a b l y stood up for a special prayer and beseeched the help of Allah. This help was always there in an extraordinary way. The following incident from the life of the Holy Prophet(sa) will show the function of Al Hayy who is Alive, Active, Ever Living. During a journey, an enemy of the Holy Prophet( s a ) found him taking a nap, unguarded, under a tree. He stood over the Holy Prophet(sa), drew his sword and before striking him fatally unaware, asked in a loud voice: ‘Who can save you from this predicament?’ The Holy Prophet(sa) woke up and without a m o m e n t ’s hesitation, the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) replied: ‘Allah!’ He uttered this one word with such perfect assurance that even the heart of his disbelieving enemy was forced to acknowledge the loftiness of his faith and trust in the Ever Living God. The sword fell from his hand and the Holy Prophet(sa) took it in his hands and 39 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 asked his assassin the same question. Alas! The enemy could only mutter his regrets and threw himself at the mercy of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ). Of course, he was forgiven and his life was spared. The Imam of our age, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani(as), the Promised Messiah and Reformer of the Age, based the entire proof of his advent upon the cognisance, active help, assistance and sustenance of the Ever Living God. He writes: ‘Be sure, therefore that the belief in the unity of God can be achieved only through a Prophet, as our Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) convinced the atheists and pagans of Arabia of the existence of God Almighty by showing them thousands of heavenly signs. Up till today the true and perfect followers of the Holy Prophet(sa) present these signs to the atheists.’ (Haqiqatul Wahy) In several of his books he has enumerated more than 300 instances of Divine intervention following his supplications. Following the tradition of the Holy Prophet(sa) he challenged all his opponents to a Mubahila (a prayer duel) and was always successful. ‘It is by the exercise of His Power and Will that the True God confirms His Person. This is how the Unknowable manifests Himself’. From hundreds of instances of Allah’s Grace and Mercy is the story of the illness of Abdul Rahim Khan(ra), a son of Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan ( r a ). His health suddenly took a turn for the worse, and upon the urgent and impassioned pleas of Nawab Sahib, the Promised Messiah( a s ) prayed for him and was also moved to intercede for him. The Wahy (revelation) came down immediately: Who dares to intercede with Him without his permission?’ The Promised Messiah(as) became silent as he was almost overcome 40 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 with the awe of God. But the Most Merciful God then revealed Innaka antal Majaz Indeed thou art permitted (to intercede). The Al Hayy accepted the intercession of his honoured servant and through the manifestation of His attribute of His being alive and Ever Living granted the gift of life to the young Abdul Rahim K h a n(ra) who became healthy again. There is also the well-known episode of Abdul Karim(ra), who was bitten by a mad dog and sent to the special hospital for the hydrophobic patients and for whom the telegram ‘Nothing Can Be Done’ was sent by the British surgeon. With the prayers of the Promised Messiah(as) the Al Hayy revived him. Allah has always been Alive to the needs of all His Messengers. He guided them every step of the way in pursuing their missions and provided them His ever alive and vigilant care. Hadhrat Nuh(as) prayed: He therefore prayed to his Lord saying, ‘I am overcome, so come Thou to my help. (Ch.54:V.11) Allah responded by opening the floodgates of the heavens and the earth and caused Hadhrat Nuh(as) and the believers to be rescued on the Ark that floated under Our eyes. (Ch.54:V.15) Allah was with Hadhrat Ibrahim (Abraham)(as) when his people put him in a fire: We said , ‘Turn cold, O Fire, and be a source of peace for Abraham’. (Ch.21:V.70) Hayat-e-Noor records a narrative by Hadhrat Musleh Maud, who was present when the manuscript of ‘Noor-ud-Deen’, was being read out to the Promised Messiah( s a ) f o r his review. This book was being written by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I in response to a book Renunciation of Islam by a Muslim who had converted to Hinduism and taken the name of Dharampal. One of his objections was that the Q u r’an is full of stories of miracles 41 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 of earlier prophets, whereas nothing was contemporary. ‘Why is the fire not being ‘cooled’ for a pious one these days?’ Hadhrat Maulwi Sahib had written in response that the ‘fire’ was a metaphor for the hatred based on ignorance, for bigoted enmity and for the agony of persecution, etc. The Promised Messiah ( a s ) forcefully intervened and said: ‘There is no need to go into long interpretations and metaphorical meanings. God has named me A b r a h a m( a s ) also. Let them put me in a fire and let them then see how God makes that fire a means of coolness and safety for me.’ The story of Hadhrat Moses(as) and his mission is replete with instances of an Ever-Living God protecting and accompanying the prophets on their missions. And when the two hosts came in sight of each other the companions of Moses said, ‘ We are surely overt a k e n . ‘Nay, speak not thus!’ said he, My Lord is with me; He will direct me aright. (Ch.26: Vs.62-63) And Allah was most assuredly with the Holy Prophet(sa) when after endless persecution he was migrating from his home in Makkah to the nascent community of Madinah. After a days journey, with the Makkans in hot pursuit the Holy Prophet(sa) and his companion Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddiq(ra) took refuge in the cave At-Thaur. The professional trackers hired by the Makkans were hovering at the mouth of the cave. To quote from Sura Tauba: If you help him not, then know that Allah helped him even when the disbelievers dro v e him forth while he was one of the two when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion. ‘Grieve not, for Allah is with us.’ Then Allah sent down His peace on him, and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and humbled the word of those who disbelieved, and it is the word of Allah alone which is supreme. And Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Ch.9:V.40) 42 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 This comforting advice of: ‘Grieve not: verily, God is with u s’ was to have far reaching consequences. When by the decree of Allah the Holy Prophet(sa) passed away from this world, his companions went into a state of shock! His advent was so momentous; the change in their lives had been so profound that they could not face the trauma of his death. No less a personage than Hadhrat Umar Farooq( r a ), thought that the Holy Prophet(sa) had just fainted. He stood outside the Prophet’s(sa) Mosque with a drawn sword threatening to punish those who persisted in believing otherwise. Hadhrat Abu Bakr ( r a ) hastened to the Mosque, comforted Hadhrat U m a r( r a ) and said: ‘ A n d Muhammad is only a Messenger. Ve r i l y, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. And Allah will c e rtainly re w a rd the grateful’ (Ch.3:V.145). He added, ‘Let him, who worshipped Muhammad( s a ), know that Muhammad(sa) is dead. And let him, who worships Allah; know that Inna Allahu Hayyun la yamoot. That Allah is ever living and shall never die. This had an electrifying effect upon all present. Hadhrat Umar(ra) started sobbing with grief and relief! The Promised Messiahas) wrote: ‘Our God is One, Who is living today as He was living before. And He speaks today as He spoke before and He hears today as heard before. He both hears and speaks. All His attributes are eternal and everlasting. None of His attributes has fallen into disuse or will fall into disuse…. He manifests Himself through His powers and His signs and we can find Him only through Him. He manifests Himself always to the righteous and shows them His powers. That is how He is recognised and that is how the path is recognised which has His approval’. (Al-Wasiyyat) 43 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 This is the nub of the difference between the Ahmadi Muslims and other Muslims. We believe that Allah is Al Hayy and is as alive to the needs of His chosen faith and His sincere servants today as He ever was. He guides them by responding to their prayers, by inspiring them with true dreams and heavenly signs and He sends down His revelation, on whomsoever He pleases at His Own chosen time. He may name a recipient of this revelation, who is from amongst the followers of the Holy Prophet(sa) and follows his example perfectly, as a prophet. The other Muslims, do not deny that God hears, but are reluctant to say that He speaks. The door of formal Wahy, according to them is shut forever. Other than responding to the supplications of prophets we believe, indeed, have witnessed the Ever Living’s out-of-the- ordinary help and succour to the Khulafa, companions and other respected personages of the Jama’at. And all faces shall humble themselves before the Living, Self-Subsisting and All- Sustaining God. And he shall indeed perish who bears the burden of iniquity. (Ch.20:V.112) I need not go into the details of the great leaders and dictators who oppressed and persecuted those who believed in God, throughout the ages, and also in the not too distant past; whom the Ever Living God abased and brought down with His swift reckoning. He was and Insha Allah (God willing) will always be with the righteous. Al Hayy: of which the verb form is Hayy-ya i.e. he lived, had life, etc. Another form from the same root is Yuhyee: he gives life, brings to life, or causes to live. There is mention of Ahya-e-Mota or the bringing the dead back to life. This is a vast subject. In Sura Al Baqra Verse 259 to 261 Allah has revealed some aspects of it. In verse 259, the king is disputing the claim of Hadhrat Abraham(as) that My Lord is He, Who gives life and causes death. The king said 44 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 I also give life and cause death. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I has explained that the king claimed to have caused townships to grow and decline by moving of location of state functions. Hadhrat A b r a h a m( a s ) retorted that A l l a h brings the sun from the East, bring it thou from the West. As the king was a sun worshipper, he could not claim any control over the sun and consequently realised that he had no control over life or death, in any form, either. T h e reupon the infidel was dumbfounded. In the next verse Allah relates the story of a prophet of Banu Israel, possibly Ezekiel who witnessed the ruins of the freshly devastated town, he was overcome with pathos and wondered when would Allah bring that town back to life. Then God showed him a vision of a hundred years hence when the town has been reborn, and thus demonstrated a manifestation of His attribute of Al Hayy, in respects of cities and population centers. The next verse relates to the revival of nations and peoples. And when Abraham said, ‘My L o rd show me how you bring the dead back to life?’ God said, ‘Dost thou not believe?’ Abraham said, ‘Yes, but I ask this that my heart be at ease.’ God answered, ‘Take four bird s and make them attached to thee. Then put each of them on a hill then call them: they will come to thee in haste. And know that Allah is Mighty, Wi s e . ’ (Ch.2:V.261) Allah has bestowed this attribute of revivification of lost souls upon His chosen servants throughout the ages. Hadhrat Jesus( a s ) w a s given this power And I will quicken the dead by the command of Allah. (Ch.3:V.50) This, of course pertains to the marvelous moral transformation that a prophet of God brings about in the lives of his followers. Consider the present day evangelical movements that claim to make their adherents as ‘born again’ Christians. For the Holy Prophet(sa), Allah has made the special dispensation in 45 Al-Hayy – The Living God The Review of Religions – March 2004 Sura Al Infal (Chapter 8) Verse 25 O ye who believe! Respond to Allah and the Messenger when he calls you, that he may give you life. Here is food for thought for us who claim to have heard and responded the Divine summons in this age. The way to an everlasting spiritual life is clear. We have to follow commands of God and adopt the practice of the Holy Prophet( s a ) a n d hold fast to the continued lifeline that Allah has been Gracious and Merciful enough to extend to us in the form of Khilafat Ahmadiyya. It is only then that we can come alive and start on the path of His approval. Allah says in Sura Ya s i n : It is but a Reminder and a Qur’ a n that makes things plain, so that it may warn all who live, and that the d e c ree against the disbelievers may come to pass. ( C h . 3 6 : V. 7 0 – 7 1 ) It will be noted that Al Hayy, as an attribute of God, appears five times in the Holy Qur’an. At three places it is paired with Al Qayyum, the reference in each of these three instances is to describe transcendental attri-butes of Unity, Self Subsistence, the All Sustaining Power, and Dominion over all. Al Hayy occurs only twice in the singular. In both cases Allah is invoking this beautiful attribute to encourage a positive and sure step forward in pursuit of our goals for this life and preparing for the next while making us assured of the help and backing of the Ever Living God. The reference in Sura Al Furqan was quoted before. Verse 66 from Sura Al Momin (Chapter 40) clearly and succinctly conveys the message of this presentation: ‘He is the Living God. There is no God but He. So pray unto Him, being sincere to Him in religion. All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.’ (Ch 40 Vs 66)