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The Essence of Islam – III

15The Review of Religions – June 2004 Islam, the True and Living Faith (continued…) The reality of Islam is to present o n e ’s neck to God like the sacrificial lamb; to give up one’s own designs and to be devoted to the designs of God and His pleasure; to lose oneself in God and to impose a type of death upon oneself; to be dyed in the personal love of God and to obey Him entirely for the sake of that love; to obtain eyes that see only through Him, and to obtain ears that hear only through Him, and to develop a heart that should be wholly devoted to Him, and to obtain a tongue which would speak only at His command. This is a stage where all search ends; human faculties complete their functions and man’s ego dies c o m p l e t e l y. Thereupon Divine This is the third of a series to be printed over the next few months in The Review of Religions. It sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as) Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a summary of his exposition of four outstanding topics: ISLAM; ALLAH, THE E X A LTED; THE HOLY PROPHET( s a ); and THE HOLY QUR’AN. The original compilation, in Urdu, from which these extracts have been translated into English, was collated with great care and diligence by Syed Daud Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him and may He reward him graciously for his great labour of love. Amin. The English rendering is by the late Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Allah be pleased with him and quoted from The Essence of Islam. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an. The Essence of Islam – Part III The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was Hadrat 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 and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. 16 The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III mercy confers a new life upon the seeker through His living words and His shining light. He is honoured with the delightful converse of God and a fine light, which is not discoverable by reason and is not recognisable by the eyes, approaches close to his heart; as is said by God: We are closer to him than his jugular vein (Ch.50:V.17). In this man- n e r, God honours mortal man with His nearness. Then the time comes when blindness is removed and eyes are given insight and man beholds God with his new eyes and hears His voice and finds himself wrapped in the mantle of His light. Thus, the purpose of religion is fulfilled and having beheld God, man casts aside the dirty garment of his lower life and puts on a garment of light and waits for a sight of God and of heaven, not merely as a promise to be fulfilled in the hereafter, but in this very life he achieves the bounties of sight and converse and heaven. As God has stated: Upon those who affirm, ‘Allah is our Lord,’ and are then steadfast, angels descend reassuring them, fear not nor grieve and rejoice in the Paradise which you were promised (Ch.41:V.31). This means that angels descend upon those who affirm that their God is One who possesses all perfect attributes and Who has no associate in His Being or His attributes; and after their a ffirmation, they are steadfast and no earthquake and calamity and no confrontation of death can shake their faith. God speaks to them and reassures them not to be afraid of calamities or of enemies and not to be sorrowful over past misfortunes. He reassures them that He is with them and that He has bestowed upon them in this very world the paradise that was promised to them in which they should rejoice. This is a promise which has now been fulfilled. There is testimony to the eff e c t that thousands of humble ones in Islam have tasted of the spiritual paradise which is promised in this verse. The true followers of Islam have been made heirs by Almighty God to all the previous righteous ones, and bounties that were bestowed upon them have been bestowed upon the Muslims 17The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III [L e c t u re Lahore, (Lahore, Rifahi Aam Steam Press, 1904); Now published in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 20, pp.14- 15]. A person can be held to be a Muslim when the whole of his being together with all his faculties, physical and spiritual, is devoted to God Almighty, and the trusts that are committed to him by God Almighty are rendered back to the True Giver. He should demonstrate his being a Muslim not only doctrinally but also in practice. In other words, a person claiming to be a Muslim should prove that his hands and feet and heart and mind, his reason and his understanding, his anger and his compassion, his meekness and his knowledge, all his physical and spiritual faculties, and his honour and his p r o p e r t y, his comfort and his delight and whatever pertains to him from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, together with his motives, his fears, his passions, have all been sub- ordinated to Almighty God as a person’s limbs are subordinated to him. It should be proved that his sincerity has reached a stage in which whatever is his does not belong to him but to God Almighty, and that all his limbs and faculties have become so devoted to the service of God as if they had become the limbs of the Divine. Reflection on these verses shows clearly that devoting one’s life to the cause of God Almighty, which is the essence of Islam, has two aspects. First, that God Almighty should become the object of worship and the true goal and beloved, and that no one should be associated in His worship, in His love, and in His hope. All the commandments related to His holiness and glory and worship, and all the limits set by Him, and all heavenly decrees should be totally and sincerely accepted. All these command- ments and limits and laws and decrees should be accepted in great humility, and all the truths and understandings, which are the means of appreciating His vast powers and of finding out the greatness of His kingdom and 18 The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III His sovereignty and are a guide for the recognition of His favours and bounties, should be fully ascertained. The second aspect of devoting one’s life to the cause of God Almighty is that one’s life should be devoted to the service of His creatures and to sympathy with them and to sharing their burdens and sorrows. One should suffer pain to bring them comfort, and one should experience grief to bring them consolation. This shows that the reality of Islam is a very superior thing and that no one can truly deserve the title of Muslim till he surrenders the whole of his being to God, together with all his faculties and desires and designs, and till he begins to tread along this path withdrawing altogether from his ego and all its attendant qualities. A person will be truly called a Muslim only when his heedless life undergoes a total revolution and his evil-directing self, together with all its passions, is wiped out altogether and he is invested with a new life which is characterised by his carrying out all his obligations to Allah and which should comprise nothing except obedience to the Creator and sympathy for His creatures. Obedience to the Creator means that to make manifest His Honour and Glory and Unity one should be ready to endure every dishonour and humiliation, and one should be eager to undergo a thousand deaths in order to uphold His Unity. One hand should be ready to cut off the other with pleasure in obedience to Him, and the love of the grandeur of His commandments and the thirst for seeking His pleasure should make sin so hateful as if it were a consuming fire, or a fatal poison, or an obliterating lightning, from which one must run away with all one’s power. For seeking His pleasure one must surrender all the desires of one’s ego; and to establish a relationship with Him one should be ready to endure all kinds of injuries; and to prove such relationship one must cut sunder from all other relationships. 19The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III The service of one’s fellow- beings means to strive ‘for their benefit purely for the sake of God in all their needs, and in all the relationships of mutual dependence which God has established out of true and selfless sympathy for them. Everyone in need of help should be helped out of one’s God-given capacity and one must strive for their betterment both in this world and in the hereafter [Ayenae Kamalat-e-Islam, (Qadian, Riyadh Hind Press 1893); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol.5, pp. 59- 62]. I would now wish to enlarg e upon the fruits of Islam. When a true seeker of God establishes himself fully on Islam and everyone of his faculties begins to tread naturally upon the paths of God Almighty without any kind of artificiality, the ultimate result of his effort is that the higher manifestations of Divine guidance, freed from all obstruc- tions, are directed towards him. Diverse types of blessings descend upon him and the commandments and doctrines which were accepted on faith and as hearsay, are now experienced by him as realities and certainties through dreams, visions and revelation. The mysteries of the faith and the law are revealed to him and he is afforded a view of the Divine kingdom so that he should arrive at the stage of perfect certainty and under- standing. A blessing charac- terises his tongue and his words and all his actions and his movements. He is bestowed extraordinary courage and steadfastness and his under- standing is expanded at a high level. The narrowness of human obstructions and meanness and miserliness, and the tendency towards frequent stumblings, and shortsightedness and proneness towards passion and lowness of behaviour, and every darkness of his ego are totally removed from him and he is filled with the light of Divine attributes. Thereupon, he undergoes an entire change and puts on the garment of a new birth. He hears through God Almighty and sees through Him and moves with Him and stops 20 The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III with Him, and his anger becomes the wrath of God Almighty and his compassion becomes the compassion of God Almighty. When he arrives at that stage, his prayers are heard as a mark of his having been chosen, and not merely as a trial; and he becomes the proof of God on earth and personifies security from God. There is joy in heaven on his account and the highest gift that is bestowed upon him is the word of God which descends upon his heart free from any doubt, like the light of the moon shining through without any mistiness. It carries an effective sense of delight with it and bestows satisfaction, such as a friend receives from a friend. We can only define it by saying that is is a special manifestation of God the Glorious which is conveyed through a favourite angel. Its purpose is to give intimation of acceptance of prayer, or to communicate a new or secret m a t t e r, or to make aware of something that is to happen in the future, or to warn of God’s pleasure, or lack of it, concerning any matter, or to create certainty and understanding concerning some matter. It is a Divine voice which manifests itself in the form of converse in order to create understanding and satisfaction. It is not possible to define it any f u r t h e r. It is a voice which proceeds from God and is experienced in delicious words full of blessings, which is not induced by any thinking or reflection or any intrusion of self and is surcharged with a divine manifestation and divine majesty [Ayenae Kamalat-e-Islam, (Qadian, Riyadh Hind Press 1893); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol.5, pp. 226-233]. I believe in Islam alone as a true religion. I perceive that by believing in Islam fountains of light are coursing through me. Through the love of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, I have arrived at that high stage of converse with the Divine and of acceptance of prayer which can only be achieved by a follower of the true Prophet and by no other. If the Hindus and the Christians and 21The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III others were to supplicate their false gods, even unto death, they could not achieve that stage. I hear the words of God which the others believe in only as a theory. I have been shown and have been told and I have been made to understand that Islam alone is the true faith in the world, and it has been disclosed to me that I have received all this through the blessing of following the Khatamul Anbiya (Seal of all the Prophets), peace and blessings of Allah be on him, and that the equal of it cannot be achieved in any other religion. [Ay e n a e K a m a l a t – e – I s l a m, (Qadian, Riyadh Hind Press 1893); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol.5, pp. 275- 276]. A thousand thanks are due to Almighty God Who has bestowed upon us a religion which is such a means of attaining to the knowledge of God and to the fear of God as has had no equal in any age. Thousands of blessings be upon the immaculate Prophet through whom we have entered this faith and thousands of Divine mercies be bestowed upon his com- panions who irrigated this garden with their blood. Islam is such a blessed and God- indicating religion that if a person follows it truly and acts upon the teachings and guidance and admonition that are contained in the Holy Word of God Almighty, the Holy Qur’an, he would see God in this very life. For the recognition of God Who is hidden from the sight of the world behind a thousand screens, there is no other means except the teachings of the Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an guides towards God Almighty through reason and heavenly signs in a very easy manner. It com- prehends a blessing and a magnetic power which draws a seeker of God every moment towards God and bestows light and comfort and satisfaction. A true believer in the Holy Qur’an does not merely contemplate like the philosophers that there ought to be a Creator of this wonderful universe; he acquires a personal insight and being honoured with 22 The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III a holy vision he sees with the eye of certainty that that Creator in fact exists. He who is bestowed the light of this Holy Word does not merely guess like those who rely upon reason alone that God is One, without associate, but through hundreds of shining signs which take him by the hand and lead him out of the darkness, observes in fact that God has no associate in His Being or in His attributes. He is able to demonstrate to the world that he believes God to be such a Unity. The majesty of the Unity of God so fills his heart that in comparison with the Divine will, he regards the whole world as no more than a dead insect and indeed as nothing at all (Braheen Ahmadiyyah, Part V, pp.16-17). The God of a true religion should be so much in accord with reason and the light of nature that His existence should be a matter of proof for people who possess reason but who have no heavenly book in which they believe. He should be such as does not savour of coercion or artificiality. Such perfection is characteristic of the God Who is presented by the Holy Qur’an. The God of Islam is the same true God who is seen through the mirror of the law of nature and is visible in the book of nature. Islam has not presented a new God but has presented the same God Who is presented by the light of man’s heart and by man’s conscience and by heavens and earth. Another quality of a true religion is that it should not be a dead creed. The blessings and great- nesses which were cultivated in it in the beginning should persist in it till the end of the world, for the promotion of the welfare of mankind, so that ever fresh signs should confirm its past signs and should not permit the light of its truth to become an old tale. I have been writing over a long period that the Prophethood which was claimed by our lord and master Muhammad, the chosen one, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, and the heavenly proofs in the form of signs which he had set forth, still continue in Islam and are bestowed upon his followers so 23The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Essence of Islam – Part III that they should arrive at the state of complete understanding and should witness the living God d i r e c t l y. The signs which are attributed to Jesus( a s ) are mere stories, and are nowhere to be seen, and therefore this religion which teaches the worship of the dead is itself dead like its god. A verity cannot be confined to old tales. Every people has a store of tales setting forth alleged miracles and wonders. It is a characteristic only of Islam that it does not present merely the defective and imperfect comfort of tales and stories, but satisfies the seekers with living signs. A seeker after truth should not be satisfied with senseless worship of the dead and should not be put off with sorry tales. We have come into the market of the world to purchase the best. We should not waste our faith by exchanging it with false things. A living faith is that through which we can find the living God. The living God is He Who can inspire us directly, or could at least bring us in contact with one who is directly inspired. I convey this good news to the whole world that the God of Islam is such a living God. Those with whom no one can now speak are dead and are not God. No one can see their signs today. He whose God is dead would be put to shame in every field and would be humiliated and would not be helped in any way. My purpose in making this announcement is that a religion which is true does not change. As it was in the beginning, so it would be at the end. A true religion would never become a dry tale. Islam is a true religion and I call everyone, Christians, Aryas, Jews, Brahmos, to show them the truth of Islam. Is there anyone of them who seeks the living God? We do not worship the dead. Our God is living. He helps us through His inspiration and revelation and through heavenly signs. If there is a single Christian who is truly a seeker after truth, let him make a comparison between our living God and his dead god. For such a trial a period of forty days would s u ffice. (Ta b l e e g h – e – R i s a l a t, Vol.VI, pp. 13-15). 24 The Essence of Islam – Part III The Review of Religions – June 2004 The Islam whose qualities we have set out is not something for proof of which we have to refer only to the past and to have to point only to the ruins of tombs. Islam is not a dead faith so that it may be said that all its blessings have been left behind and that there is nothing ahead. The principal quality of Islam is that its blessings always accompany it and that it does not speak only of the past but presents present blessings. The world is always in need of blessings and heavenly signs. It is not as if it needed them in the past and does not need them now. A weak and helpless human being who is born blind is in need that he should know something of the heavenly kingdom and that he should see some signs of the existence and power of God in Whom he believes. The signs of a past age cannot suffice for a subsequent age, for hearing is not the same as seeing and by the passage of time past events become like stories. Every century starts a new world. Therefore, the God of Islam, who is the true God, manifests new signs for each new world. At the beginning of each century, especially at the beginning of a century which has strayed far away from faith and integrity and is enveloped in many darknesses, He raises a substitute Prophet in the mirror of whose nature is exhibited the form of a Prophet. Such a one demonstrates to the world the excellences of the Prophet whose follower he is and convicts all opponents through the truth and the display of reality and the frustration of falsehood [Ayenae Kamalat-e- I s l a m, (Qadian, Riyadh Hind Press 1893); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol.5, pp. 245-247]. The sign of a true religion is that through its teaching such righteous ones should continue to arise who should arrive at the stage of a Muhaddath to whom God Almighty should speak face to face. The foremost sign of the truth of Islam is that all through it produces such righteous ones with whom God Almighty talks as is said in the Holy Qur’an: Angels descend upon them 25 The Essence of Islam – Part III The Review of Religions – June 2004 reassuring them, fear not, nor grieve (Ch.41:V.31). This is the test of a true, living and acceptable religion. We know that this light is to be found only in Islam and that the Christian faith is without such light [Hujjatul Islam , (Amritsar, Riyadh Hind Press); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain ( L o n d o n , 1984), Vol.6, p.3]. We can furnish conclusive proof to every seeker after truth that from the time of our lord and master the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, up to today, in every century there have appeared men of God through whom God Almighty has guided other people by the display of heavenly signs. Of these were Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani, Abul Hasan Kharqani, Abu Ya z i d Bistami, Junaid Baghdadi, Mohyuddin Ibn Arabi, Dhunnoon Misri, Mueenuddin Chishti Ajmeri, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fareeduddin Pakpattani, Nizamuddin Dehlavi, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi, and Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, may Allah be pleased with them. Their number exceeded thousands and so many extraordinary happenings con- cerning them are set out in the books of the learned ones that even a very bigoted opponent has to admit that these people manifested extraordinary signs and miracles. I tell you truly that through my research, so far as it is possible for one to discover about the past, I have come to the conclusion that the number of heavenly signs in support of Islam and as a testimony of the truth of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, which have been manifested through the aulia of this Ummat, is not to be equalled in the history of other religions. Islam is the only religion which has progressed through heavenly signs and its numberless lights and blessings have ever demonstrated the existence of God Almighty as if He was visible close at hand. Be sure that on the score of its heavenly signs Islam has not been put to shame in any age. In this age of yours you could if you wished be the witnesses of signs in support of Islam. Say truly whether you 26 The Essence of Islam – Part III The Review of Religions – June 2004 have not witnessed signs in support of Islam in your own age. Is there any other religion in the world which can produce such testimony? This is a matter which has broken the back of Christian missionaries. The signs of the truth of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, whom they reject, are visible in this age like pouring rain. For seekers the gates of heavenly signs are as open today as they were in any previous age, and for those who are hungry after truth the banquet of bounties is as much available today as it was before. A living faith is as much available today as it was before. A living faith has always the hand of the living God at its back and such a faith is Islam [Kitabul Bariyyah, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press 1898); Now printed in Ruhani K h a z a i n (London, 1984), Vo l . 13, pp. 91-92]. If anyone should have a question that there are hundreds of false religions which have flourished through thousands of years, though they must have originated in some imposture, the answer is as follows. According to us, imposture means that a person should himself fashion delib- erately a few sentences, or should invent a book claiming that it has been revealed to him by God Almighty whereas nothing of the kind has been revealed to him. We can affirm on the basis of full research that such imposture has never been able to flourish in any age. The Book of God bears clear testimony that those who were guilty of imposture against God Almighty were soon destroyed. We have already stated that the same testimony is borne by the Torah, the Gospel, and the Holy Qur’an. The false religions that we observe in the world today like that of the Hindus and the Parsees, do not represent the dispensations of false Prophets. The truth is that their followers through their own mistakes have fallen into accepting their current doctrines. You cannot point to any book which claims clearly that it is a Divine book while in truth it might be an imposture and a whole people might have 27 The Essence of Islam – Part III The Review of Religions – June 2004 held it in honour throughout. It is, however, possible that a Divine book might have been misinterpreted. A politial gov- ernment seizes jealously a person who falsely claims to be a government official. Then, why would God, Who is jealous of His glory and His kingdom, not seize a false claimant [Anjam A t h a m, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 11, p. 63-64, footnote]. In this journal, for the ease 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. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘Radhiallahtala’ and is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him or her (when followed by the relevant Arabic pronoun). Also ‘ru’ or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him.

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