The Need for Religion

© - | Dreamstime.com

© – | Dreamstime.com

Translated by Amer Safir

After reciting Tashhahud, Ta’awwuz, and Surah-Al Fatihah, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:

“Critics of religion do not limit themselves to objecting to religion alone, in fact they also oppose the concept of the existence of God. In our current era, this censure of God has reached far greater proportions than that of previous times, with vast quantities of books which have and continue to be written. Further, in the modern era electronic means have made it far easier to widely publicise these criticisms. In times gone by it would have taken a considerable length of time to convey one’s ideas and message to others and it would only be conveyed to a minority of educated people; whilst today through the electronic media and other modes of communication such critiques can be disseminated to virtually everyone and as a result a significant proportion has started to distance themselves from religion. Many other people have become averse to religion because they believe it is based on only legends and fables in its current form. Thus they deem that religion has no place in the material and developed world of today and reject the concept of a God Who forms a relationship with people and they contend that religion contradicts modern knowledge and comprehension.

© MAKHZAN-E-TASAWEER

© MAKHZAN-E-TASAWEER

Based upon this premise they question why they would need to follow any religion. When those who deny the existence of God and consider religion as decayed and outdated, observe the attitude of the so-called religious leaders who entice followers in the name of religion for their vested interests, it gives them added ammunition to provoke anti-religious sentiment and they further question the benefit of religion. Such critics do not refrain from objecting to even the Prophets and allege that the Prophets attracted illiterate and uneducated followers for purely personal gains, God forbid. Thus they argue that religions in today’s enlightened era serve no purpose. These proponents go on to say that educated religious followers today only follow religion because of their cultural ties with it; that they will only practise their respective faiths to the extent of their traditional attachment they have with their religion.

During my tour of Australia last year I met a politician, who during the course of our discussions explained that although he was a Christian and a Church-goer, and understood the need for religion, he felt there was no concordance in the modern era between religion and scientific progress. He said that the Bible was devoid of any scientific explanations and he believed that religion could now only be saved be viewing religion and science separately. I replied to him that my religion, and the Book for the Muslims, guides us regarding both science and modern progress. This is the case of those religions that fail to provide explanations on all subjects, which is why their followers harbour this mentality. But what is truly astounding is the manner of thinking of Muslims upon whom the perfect Law was revealed – which encompasses and expounds on all topics. They have even started to view religion and science unconnectedly. It is Ahmadis alone who promote the notion that God’s attributes are never suspended.

While the Qur’an relates accounts from the past, it also details modern scientific advancement. The Qur’an tells us that the God of Islam is a Living God. He speaks to people today as He did in the past and He responds today as He always has. He has not left Islam in despair today, rather He sent the Promised Messiahas [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] in this era who openly proved and manifested to the world the existence of God, and expounded clearly on religion and the Final Law.

As Ahmadis we are fortunate to have accepted the Imam of the Age [i.e. the Promised Messiahas] and to have learnt about the reality of religion. We are unconcerned that critics raise the objection that religion deprives one from education and progress and leads to selfishness; that it advocates murder, or that blood is shed in its name. Indeed the Promised Messiahas illustrated to us that religion and science are not at conflict, quite the contrary, religion is in complete concordance and conformity with science. Regardless of how far science advances, it is an absolute certainty that it can never falsify Qur’anic teachings and philosophy. In short, our religion and law-bearing book give vast and encompassing teachings, which include science.

While in previous eras it would take some time for ideas and messages to be conveyed, modern communication and technology have enabled for critiques against religion to be disseminated to virtually anyone in the world in an instant. As a result a large proportion has moved away from religion. © Oleksiy Mark | shutterstock

While in previous eras it would take some time for ideas and messages to be conveyed, modern communication and technology have enabled for critiques against religion to be disseminated
to virtually anyone in the world in an instant. As a result a large proportion has moved away from religion.
© Oleksiy Mark | shutterstock

The Untruth that God Only Shows Vengeance

As I have already alluded to, the following allegation is raised in an attempt to create disdain towards religion. [It is argued]: Religion not only teaches but is the cause of bloodshed and so to successfully venture through our era of science and progress, and to rid the world of murder and mayhem, it is necessary to view religion with revulsion. Religious followers are bent on blindly attributing everything to God.

There are two major religions in the world, Christianity and Islam and the scriptures of both religions are replete with teachings about promoting war.According to religious books themselves, God wiped away people and nations under His wrath. Although no wars are occurring here; however, the lives of innocent people are needlessly being lost. What kind of God and religion is this that has caused so many people to be drowned in floods, burnt in fires and first-born Egyptians to be killed?

One such critic, Steve Wells, calculates that according to the Bible 2,476,000 were killed [under Divine Wrath], but he says that the Bible’s figure is wrong and according to his estimate the actual number is far greater, which he calculates as 25 million. Now, the question one must pose to him is that while he believes science to be far superior, far more advanced and to be the substitute of religion, has science not resulted in far greater deaths than religion? Religion enjoins its followers to adopt peace, reconciliation and purity. While objections are raised against Muslims, the Qur’anic message regarding peace, harmony and morality are teachings of the highest order. Were the world to act upon them, peace and security would extend to all directions. To wage Jihad may indeed be a commandment, however only if war is forced upon one first.

Scientific devices and inventions such as chemical weapons lead to widespread devastation and nothing else. Stretching the figure as much as possible he [Steve Wells] has reached the figure of 25 million deaths, which he attributes to religion. Did the death toll of just the Second World War alone not cross his mind? It was the scientific machinery, equipment and inventions that resulted in approximately 60 to 70 million deaths, including innocent women and children. Entire cities were reduced to piles of ashes. Was this a religious war?

Religion does not kill, it only warns and admonishes people that they must establish peace and security – at least this is the teaching of our religion. Its every injunction is laced with sentiments of love and compassion for all mankind. The Qur’an has informed us that every Prophet brought the same message, which is that cruelty, injustice, oppression and persecution should be eliminated. The Prophets admonished people to instead adopt love and sympathy for one another, or otherwise face God’s punishment. God says in the Qur’an that He is slow to punish people and is not hasty in unfurling His wrath. Even when punishment is mete out, it is for the purpose of bringing about reformation.

The Qur’an explains that the God of Islam is a Living God Who speaks to people today as He did in the past. © jokerpro | shutterstock

The Qur’an explains that the God of Islam is a Living God Who speaks to people today as He did in the past. © jokerpro | shutterstock

When man has shed blood he has done so for his personal motives and gain. If any people have had to suffer extraordinary calamities it has been as a result of their own cruelties and injustices. If for a moment we assume there is no God and religion does not exist, will the earthquakes and floods all come to an end? How will they describe these then? What category will such critics of religion place these calamities in? God is immensely kind and benevolent, such that He has said that if man follows His commands, it is possible for Him to avert the occurrence of calamities or save a person from the harm and injury of its impact.

It is estimated that 60-70 million people were killed during World War II. Photo: Nagasaki before and after the atomic bombs were dropped.

It is estimated that 60-70 million people were killed during World War II. Photo: Nagasaki before and after the atomic bombs were dropped.

The Promised Messiahas Arrives to End Injustice

Let us look (at an example) not from ancient times, rather from (the recent past) and only the last century. We shall look at the era in which God sent His Appointee, the Promised Messiahas [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian], to the world as the Representative of the Holy Prophetsa. The Promised Messiahas was sent by God to admonish mankind to ending all cruelty, oppression, injustice and transgression. This Chosen One of God warned that if people did not reform, earthquakes would appear and thus he advised them to purify themselves so they could be merciful to their own selves. This Imam of the Age said that if people failed to reform and instead increased in their injustices and disobedience to God, there would be an outbreak of an exceptionally fierce plague. Thus, he counselled the people to reform so they could attain salvation. Those who accepted his message and instilled pious changes in themselves remained protected from both earthquakes and the plague.

So here, we should be thankful to God and the beloved of God, because they do not resort to throwing bombs on cities without warning and in the process killing hundreds of thousands of people and reducing the cities to heaps of ashes; but rather, they [the Prophets and Representatives of God] first admonish people with love and compassion. If despite this the world takes no heed, God then displays signs to the people. Servants of God for whom God manifests His signs have been instilled with love and sympathy for everyone through the teachings of their religion, and so despite being ridiculed and opposed by the world, followers of God still implore God in supplication that He may avert His Chastisement and Wrath.

We observe that when the calamity befell the people as a sign for the Promised Messiahas, he was completely restless and agitated and prayed to God that they may be saved. A Companion of the Promised Messiahas has written that one night, he saw the Promised Messiahas prostrating in prayer, beseeching God with such earnestness and humility with tears flowing down, that it reminded him of a cooking pot on fire boiling over. The Companion relates that when he drew nearer he heard the Promised Messiahas praying: “O God! Grant wisdom to mankind and save them from this punishment!

And so, does religion advocate cruelty and cause bloodshed? Or does it develop within its true followers great love and compassion for God’s Creation?

Whatever the world may allege, including Muslims who reject the Imam of the Age (the Promised Messiahas); whether they understand this or not, [the truth is] that God loves mankind and out of His mercy and compassion for all, He sent various Prophets at different times. God established the final religion, Islam, which encompassed all teachings and philosophies and He revealed the Holy Qur’an as a Law upon us. God sent the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa along with the Final and Perfect Law (the Qur’an) and in this era He sent the Holy Prophet’ssa true servant (the Promised Messiahas), who explained the reality and truth of religion to us. We are fortunate to have entered the Promised Messiah’sas Oath of Allegiance.

Religion means the path one adopts in life. © JMicic | shutterstock.com

Religion means the path one adopts in life. © JMicic | shutterstock.com

Thus, I will expound in the words of the Promised Messiahas, what religion actually is and why it is needed. Today criticisms against religion are rife and thus we should be well-versed regarding the need for religion. We should be fully informed of our responsibilities. We should know full well what the Promised Messiahas requires from us. Further, what is the preeminence of Islam’s truthfulness over other religions and what does the religion of Islam require from its followers? Not only what its requirements are from us, but also what does Islam give? It is said that religion is life-giving, so the question is how?

God has provided the means to unite the world as one by removing mankind from disorder and corruption and the Promised Messiahas fulfilled this. As mentioned there are countless writings of the Promised Messiahas on this topic; but I have selected only a few here, which will clarify what religion actually is and what the Promised Messiahas expected from us.

What is Religion?

Religion is based on two overarching obligations – the rights due to God and the rights to due to His creation. The latter means one must display love, compassion and benevolence to all of God’s Creation. © Johan Swanepoel | shutterstock.com

Religion is based on two overarching obligations – the rights due to
God and the rights to due to His creation. The latter means one
must display love, compassion and benevolence to all of God’s Creation. © Johan Swanepoel | shutterstock.com

The Promised Messiahas says:

What is religion? It is the path one adopts for oneself. In reality everyone has a religion or creed. An irreligious person who does not believe God exists still has to choose a path to follow, which in essence is their religion. However one should stop to think whether the path they have chosen in life truly gives them everlasting happiness, peace and tranquility? (This question should be posed to rejecters of religion). Religion is only a general word. It means the path one treads on and it is not a word that exclusively applies to faith. Experts in the arts, sciences, physics, medicine, astronomy and any field of knowledge also have canons, doctrines and beliefs. However it is a certainty that these will not provide salvation to anyone. Just as a soul requires a body and words need meaning, so too does mankind stand in need of religion. The point here is not whether the Being is called ‘Allah,’ ‘God’, or ‘Parmeshwar’. Rather, the real issue is how one perceives the Being He calls out to. Our view is that whatever name one assigns to the Higher Being, the real question is how do they recognise and comprehend Him? What attributes does that Being possess? The actual matter one should reflect on is the nature of the attributes of the Divine Being.[1]

Islam has described the attributes of God and explains that none have ever been suspended. Elsewhere, the Promised Messiahas said:

The essence of religion is based on just two overriding aspects, which are the rights due to God, and the rights due to His creation.

He says:

It is worth remembering that religion is based on two rights. The first is the rights owed to God. This includes how one should believe and have faith in God and manner He should be worshiped. The second is the rights that must be discharged to God’s creation. This comprises of how one should display compassion, love, kind-treatment and benevolence to God’s Creation and must alleviate their afflictions, pain and sorrow.”[2]

Thus, in these words the Promised Messiahas has silenced the critics of religions in a beautiful way by explaining that true followers of religions discharge the two overarching rights upon which religion is based – the rights due to God and the rights due to His creation. The rights to God’s creation are fulfilled when one shows true sympathy and compassion to God’s creatures, shares in their pain and suffering and forgives and overlooks their faults. This is religion as explained by Islam and so clearly Islam does not teach to kill and shed blood.

 

A True Religion Shows a Living God and Teaches Compassion

The purpose of religion is to improve the moral standard of people in the reflection of God’s attributes so that one shows love, tolerance and understanding to towards others. © KENNY TONG | shutterstock.com

The purpose of religion is to improve the moral standard of people in the reflection of God’s attributes so
that one shows love, tolerance and understanding to towards others.
© KENNY TONG | shutterstock.com

The Promised Messiahas says:

In the world people engage in thousands of exhaustive debates to scrutinise religion, yet they still have no ultimate objective or conclusion to aim for. A true religion is one that is so successful in removing human blindness and conferring blessings that its followers in their practical lives are clearly seen to exhibit devotion to God and love and compassion to God’s creation. One who truly adheres to such a religion will reach the ultimate goal and purpose that their souls are thirsty and yearn to attain. Often people believe in an imaginary god whose powers and attributes are no longer visible in the present or future, but instead have been left behind in stories of the past recounted by their followers. As they believe in a hypothetical concept of god they are unable to desist from sin and vice; rather as their bigotry and prejudices increase so too does their boldness in committing immoral and wicked acts. Selfish and egotistical passions overwhelm them like a river, which breaks it banks and floods in all directions and destroys many fields and homes.”[3]

Although Muslims say they follow the religion of Islam in name, they will remain rooted in their current plight unless they adopt the good qualities as outlined. In this era, the Promised Messiahas has explained the reality and truth to us with absolute clarity. This is why it is necessary to accept him for one to properly understand religion.

God Displays His Signs to Provide Evidence of His Existence

The Promised Messiahas says:

God possesses infinite Power to display brilliant signs and therefore by constantly exhibiting His Might and by displaying miracles, He provides relentless evidence for His existence. One who recognises this God is enabled to avoid sin and attains true peace, tranquility, satisfaction, patience, steadfastness and courage. God becomes the fire that burns away his sins, and the water which cools off his worldly desires and purifies him of them. Religion is the name of one who sets off madly in search of this [goal]. There are those who are led by their egos to merely engaging in dry debates and to vilify, upbraid and reproach others with harsh words and profane language, all of which they do in the name of religion. They do not focus on reforming their inner impurities and vices nor do they strive to establish a relationship with the Truly Beloved One. They attack one another like savages, devoid of all human qualities. Under the cover of defending religion their immoral and wicked conduct is laid bare. All of this is nothing short of extremely revolting and is like dry bones. This can absolutely not be called religion. How unfortunate that such people are unaware of the true purpose for which they entered this temporary life, and instead remain blind and impure. Their religion is the name of their bigoted and narrow-minded passions. They resort to vile behaviour and hateful language in support of a superstitious and delusory concept of a God, which they cannot prove exists. It is an utterly useless religion that teaches its followers to worship a God who is not living, but instead is like a dead body that has to be carried and supported on the shoulders of others. When this concept of God can no longer be sustained and upheld by others, it falls to nothing. This form of religion succeeds in making its followers bigoted and prejudiced and they become wholly devoid of the superlative qualities of demonstrating true worship of God and displaying love and sympathy for mankind. When such a religious follower faces opposition to their beliefs, their heart becomes filled with hatred and their enmity leads them to attack their lives, possessions and honour and if it relates to others then this form he desires to ruin and annihilate him. They will show no fear of God, virtuousness or justice whatsoever and become bereft of the highest form of human nature consisting of compassion, equity and sympathy and bigoted passions ultimately result in them developing a savage-like nature. In such a state the true purpose of religion becomes completely lost to them.”

How Far does Religion Influence Human Faculties?

Then expounding on the need for religion, the Promised Messiahas says:

Anyone who truly hungers and thirsts for the truth will realise that, long before the dawn of religion, God had ordained that some people would by nature have a greater share of love and compassion, while others would be more prone to anger and fury. Religion teaches that all the love, obedience, sincerity and faithfulness which a worshipper of idols or a worshipper of men has for these objects should actually be directed towards God instead and the same degree of sincerity should be exhibited in His path. How far does religion influence human nature? This is a question that has not been answered by the Gospels. But the Holy Qur’an has answered it in great detail. It explains that it is not the function of religion to change the natural faculties of man or to turn wolves into lambs; its purpose is to guide man in the proper use of his natural faculties in keeping with the demands of time and place. Religion is not meant to change people’s faculties; its aim is only to guide them to their proper use. Instead of laying stress on any particular faculty, such as mercy or forgiveness, it should enjoin the use of all of one’s faculties. No human faculty is in itself evil, it is their wrong or immoderate use that makes them so. A person cannot be condemned on account of his natural faculties unless he misuses them.[4]

The Promised Messiahas explains that one should always remember that one should be condemned only if they do not apply their faculties to the correct use and chooses a wrong path to follow. This demonstrates the beauty of Islam as it gives profound commandments that fulfil the requirements of human nature, whereas no other religion or law in the world matches this or fulfils the needs of human nature. Soon after a man-made law is formed, discussions initiate as to how they can be amended based on the current circumstances. Whilst many critics of Islam object to certain Islamic Laws, they should remember that their objections indeed apply on them.

The Promised Messiahas says:

It should be clear that the true purpose of adopting a faith is that one should acquire such certainty concerning God, Who is the fountainhead of salvation, as if one can see Him with one’s eyes.[5] The wicked spirit of sin seeks to destroy a man and a person cannot escape the fatal poison of sin until he believes with full certainty in the Perfect and Living God and until he knows for certain that God exists, Who punishes the offender and bestows upon the righteous everlasting joy. It is a common experience that when one believes in the fatal effects of anything one does not have recourse to it. For instance, no one swallows poison consciously. No one deliberately stands in front of a wild tiger. No one deliberately thrusts his hand into the jaws of a serpent. Then why does a person commit sin deliberately? The reason is that he has not that certainty in this matter as he has in other matters of the kind that we have mentioned. The first duty of a person, therefore, is to acquire certainty with regard to the existence of God, and to adopt a religion through which this certainty can be acquired so that he should fear God and shun sin. How can such certainty be acquired? It cannot be acquired through mere tales and stories. It cannot be acquired through mere arguments. The only way of acquiring certainty is to experience God repeatedly through converse with Him or through witnessing His extraordinary signs, or by keeping company with someone who has that experience.”[6]

Insulting Other Religions is Irreligious

Past Prophets were sent only for specific nations and people and their missions were limited to reformation of only the vices prevalent amount the people they were addressing. © Mikhail Pogosov | shutterstock.com

Past Prophets were sent only for specific nations and people and their missions were limited to reformation of only the vices prevalent amount the people they were addressing.
© Mikhail Pogosov | shutterstock.com

The Promised Messiahas says:

Religion does not teach to vilify and slander holy men, Prophets and Messengers, for such things are against the very purpose of religion. The true purpose of religion is that one should cleanse one’s self of all evil, enable one’s spirit to lie forever prostrate at the threshold of God Almighty, and become so imbued with conviction, love, true knowledge, truth, and faithfulness that a genuine and pure transformation is effected and a heavenly life is attained in this very world.”[7]

Hence, Islam instructs us to respect and honour all Prophets and Holy personages and to refrain from speaking disparagingly against even idols [that others venerate]. The Promised Messiahas says:

“There are two harmful maladies that to be saved from, require a person to adopt religion. The first is when one rejects belief in an All-Powerful God Who possesses perfect and complete attributes and showing utter faithlessness, completely neglects fulfilling the obligatory rights due to God and thus rejects the blessings of God which are indeed imbued in every fibre and pore of man’s existence. The second is that one rather than fulfil, instead completely usurps rights due to others and becomes like a venomous serpent who attacks anyone who opposes or leaves his religion. This type of person accepts a death as he is unaware of the Living God. One cannot develop fresh faith unless he witnesses the living and fresh manifestations of God’s Signs.”[8]

Today Ahmadis are blessed by being witness to the living manifestations of God. Anyone who yearns so see this is guided by God towards Ahmadiyyat and there are scores of incidents I come across in this connection, but I will mention just one small occurrence.

An Algerian Lady is Guided to the Truth

A lady from Algeria has related the following:

A few years ago I saw a dream in which I am at the mausoleum of the Holy Prophetsaand am weeping continually and profusely. After seeing this dream I constantly prayed that God may guide me in my search for the right path. I started watching various religious TV channels hoping to be satisfied in my search; but none gave me contentment. Often I would spend nights either praying in deep anguish or gazing towards the heavens and stars, and one night I heard a clear voice tell me Look up to see the path of guidance.’ The following day I came across a TV channel on which a discussion was taking place in the most beautiful manner, which drew my heart, and so I began to watch the channel regularly. I discovered the interpretation of my dream because it was through Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International [the satellite TV channel she came across] that I came to recognise the Imam Mahdi [i.e. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi] and Khilafat and I entered the Oath of Initiation [into the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community].”

Thus, this is the God Who guides towards His living religion.

The Purpose of Religion is to Enhance Morals and Tolerance

The Promised Messiahas says:

The purpose of religion is to enhance one’s morals in the reflection of God’s Attributes. [When one reaches this stage] they may be cursed or verbally abused a thousand times but will not retaliate aggressively or violently. A true follower of religion is not rash and intolerant. An intolerant person, whether Christian, Muslim or Hindu, will not refrain from slandering the holy personages of other religions. I do not prohibit discoursing on the differences between religions, however it should be done with sincerity and decency and devoid of prejudice and malevolence. The current relationship between Hindus and Muslims has continued for hundreds of years and not just from the recent past. It is therefore our prayer that the spirit is infused in people to improve and strengthen these mutual ties (in others words may other religious followers always have a good relationship with Muslims).”[9]

Religion Requires its Followers to Develop a Pure State

The Promised Messiahas says further:

It should be borne in mind that religion does not merely involve discussions, debates and altercations. It will mean nothing unless the practical state is developed which religion requires for this would otherwise be something disliked by God. We know from their practical state that the past saints in Islam and Hinduism actually practised what they preached.

[O ye who believe! be heedful of your own selves’][10]

The verse admonishes us to first reform ourselves. If one is devoid of spiritual light yet preaches to others, they would be reducing religion to mere child’s play. Indeed, this type of ‘Reformer’ would be harmful to others as while they would use logic, reason and philosophy in their sermons, they themselves would be empty and hollow within.”

In the world today it is members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who display patience, good morals and tolerance and non-Ahmadis openly acknowledge observing these qualities in the Community. We must strive to always uphold these attributes for certainty these very qualities will attract others to the right path.

A Gentleman in Mali Distinguishes Truth from Falsehood

Mali is a far-flung country of Africa where it is said the people are illiterate and uneducated and the account I will relate is of a person who fits this category. One day an elderly person came to our Mission House [in Mali] and said he wanted to join the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. In reply to being asked why he had wanted to enter, he said:

“Last night I was tuned in to your live radio programme when an opponent of your Community was hurling vehement abuse towards an Ahmadi Missionary, whereas the Ahmadi Missionary was not responding in kind, rather was presenting logical arguments. During the progamme I prayed to God: O Allah! Guide me as to who among these two is truthful. Whilst praying I fell asleep and at night I saw a dream. In the dream I saw on one side was the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at and on the other, the opponents of the Ahmadiyya Community and they were engaged in a debate. When the opponents are unable to reply to the Missionary of the Ahmadiyya Community they throw him into a pit and start hurling dirt upon him. Then in the dream I see a holy person descend who says ‘I am the Mahdi’ and he extends his hand and saves the Ahmadi Missionary. This is when I woke up. I now have no doubts whatsoever regarding the truth of Ahmadiyyat.”

With the Grace of God he took the oath of initiation and joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It was the excellent morals and conduct that drew a righteous and sincere person and led him towards prayers and such people are then guided by God. This is the sign of the living religion and the living God.

The Call of Religion

Explaining the need for religion, the Promised Messiahas says:

“I admonish you: Refrain from evil and be truly compassionate towards mankind. Cleanse your hearts of malice and spite, for you will become like angels through this habit. It is a filthy and unholy religion that is devoid of sympathy for humanity, and polluted is the path riddled with the thorns of a rancour based on selfish desires. O those who are with me, do not become like such people. Think about what it is we seek to attain through religion. Is it to constantly oppress others? No, religion exists so that we may obtain the life that lies in God. Such a life has not been, and will never be, attained unless Divine attributes come to abide in you. Be compassionate towards all for the sake of God so that you may be shown mercy in the heavens. Come, and I will teach you a way that will cause your light to prevail over all other lights. Abandon all lowly spite and jealousy, be compassionate for mankind, and lose yourselves in God. Being with God, achieve the highest levels of purification. This is the path on which miracles are bestowed, prayers are accepted, and angels descend to one’s aid. But it is not a single day’s work. Advance and continue advancing. Learn from the example of a washerman, who continues to boil clothes in hot water until the heat causes dirt and filth to separate from them. Then, rising in the morning, he soaks the load in water, and beats the clothes on stone sills. The dirt that had settled in the clothes is thus slowly removed. This process of heating clothes and beating them continues until they are as clean as they were when new. This is the only strategy for cleansing the human soul. Your entire salvation depends on this cleanliness alone. This is precisely what Allah the Most High has said in the Holy Qur’an[11]: the soul that has been cleansed of diverse types of dirt and filth has attained success.’”[12]

The Role of Prophets in Different Eras

The Promised Messiahas expounds on the truthfulness of Islam thus:

“The Prophets in the past were only sent for specific nations, tribes and people and so the teaching brought by those Prophets was incomplete. Humanity was still developing and progressing in its understanding, intelligence and faculties and therefore there was lesser need for reformation as mankind was not yet ready for highest form of teaching. Ultimately an era arrived when the faculties of man had sufficiently progressed but sin, vice, immoralities, evil and human veneration were rife in the world. True Oneness of God and Truthfulness was neither seen displayed among the Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jews or Christians and mankind’s faculties were engulfed in darkness and by selfish motives and passions. At this time God revealed the Holy Qur’an upon the Holy Prophetsa and taught the world Islam, which is perfect and complete. Previous Prophets were sent for individual nations and so their teaching and mission were according to the faculties and temperament of the specific people they were sent for. Those people and nations would have been unable to absorb Islamic teachings just then and thus the Prophets did not teach Islam to them as it would not have met their particular requirements of the time. This is why none of the previous religions was named Islam. However, the religion which was taught to the world by the Holy Prophetsa was for the reformation of all of mankind. Its teaching keeps in view all human faculties, capabilities and capacities and it is for this reason that it is preeminent and superior in comparison to all other religions. This religion has been specifically named Islam and God has declared Islam to be perfect and complete, as He says:

‘This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.’[13]

The previous religions were in incomplete and were similar to laws made for specific countries or time periods and hence God did not name those religions Islam. This was naturally so since those Prophets did not come for the entire world but only for their specific people. Their focus was to reform the evils and vices that were prevalent among only the nations they had been commissioned to. Their mission was not to bring about the reformation of all mankind since they only brought with them the remedy for the specific ailments and maladies found among the nations they were addressing. The Religious scriptures brought by those past Messengers were also imperfect because their principles were limited in their scope to the particular nation or people they were revealed for. However Islam was established for the whole world and with every faculty of mankind in view and the Holy Qur’an was revealed with the objective of reforming all of humanity; the rules and leaders, ordinary people as well as intellectuals and philosophers. Hence the Qur’an discusses the faculties applicable to all categories of people with the objective that those faculties should be wholly devoted in the way of God. Again the reason for this is because the Qur’an viewed all of mankind’s faculties and capabilities and aimed to reform all people. The Holy Prophetsa was described as the Seal of all Prophets on precisely this premise as his mission encompassed and fulfilled all past missions that could not be completed by previous Prophets. The Qur’an was revealed to reform all mankind and required use of every faculty of man to this end, and so all manners of reformation have been accordingly explained in it. This is why the Qur’anic teachings have been called Islam, a title which no other religion could acquire as they were limited in their scope and thus incomplete. In short when this is the reality of Islam why would anyone hesitate to call themselves Muslim? Certainly, the claim of Islam has been outlined by the Qur’an and is supported by superlative and outstanding evidence and arguments.”[14]

Thus even today the Qur’anic teachings and arguments appeal to righteous people and draws them to it. Large numbers of non-muslims join Islam and attain inner-satisfaction and tranquility.

An Italian in Japan Finds God

Let us look at how an Italian person in Japan was guided to the right path by God. A book fair was being held in Tokyo in Japan and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was also represented. An Italian gentleman visited our Ahmadiyya stall and engaged in discussions on the existence of God and religion. He explained that he had been in search of God for some time and his search took him to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, as he thought he might find God through them and even to Makkah, however he failed to find God. He was then told by us that the Promised Messiahas and Imam Mahdi had come for precisely this reason, to explain the true understanding of God to the world; the God Who is Lord of all the Worlds and Who answers those who pray to Him and is a Living God. And so he was given the Promised Messiah’sas epic book The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues by the Fourth worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh) and also one of my books. He took these books promising he would read all of them and would return to the stall the following day if he had any questions. Returning the next day he said: I do not have words to express my gratitude. The manner the Islamic teaching relating to God and the Prophets has been explained in these books has opened my eyes and enabled me to recognise the God who I was searching for years. I would like to return to the Ahmadiyya Centre with you and join with you in your prayers and submit myself to the God Who is our Creator and Master. I wish to enter the religion that showed me the right path.”

He was given other books such as Jesus in India to read also and after every book he read he would remark how brilliant an intellectual piece of research and study they were. He learned how to perform the ablution and also the formal prayer. In short, God is constantly guiding people in this manner.

The Purpose of the Advent of the Promised Messiahas

The Promised Messiahas has explained that he came to the world as a deputy to the Holy Prophetsa to explain to the world his beautiful teachings once again:

God has sent this Prophet [referring to himself] to provide knowledge and understanding of the guidance required in this era and to display the right paths to achieve this. He was to provide knowledge to give satisfaction to the hearts, to strengthen the faith and to vanquish opponents with unassailable arguments and reasoning. He was sent with a resplendent and brilliant image of the faith and its teachings. People are evidently and unexpectedly becoming aware of this being from God. God has sent this perfect reformer [the Promised Messiahas] to establish that all other religions and teachings in this era pale in significance to Islam. The religion of Islam encompasses all other religions, all blessings and finer points of knowledge and understanding and all heavenly signs. It is God’s Will that through this Prophet, Islam should shine forth brightly in every single respect.”

Who else can possibly claim they have been sent God? Indeed today we observe the living signs of God manifest through the Promised Messiahas.

What Islam Requires from its Followers

Next, what does Islam require from its followers? And what beneficence will they attain by following its teaching once those requirements are fulfilled? The Promised Messiahas expounds on this issue:

In Arabic idiom, Islam means money paid as earnest to conclude a bargain, or to commit some affair to someone, or to seek peace, or to surrender a claim or point. The technical meaning of Islam is set out in the verse:

Nay, whoever submits himself completely to Allah, and is the doer of good, shall have his reward with his Lord. No fear shall come upon such, neither shall they grieve.[15]

This means that a Muslim is one who commits himself wholly to the cause of God Almighty; that is to say, one who devotes himself to God Almighty, to following His designs and to winning His pleasure, and then becomes steadfast in doing good for the sake of God Almighty and devotes all his faculties to that cause. In other words, he belongs entirely to God Almighty both doctrinally and in practice. Doctrinal belonging means that one should esteem one’s being as something which has been created for the recognition of God Almighty and His obedience and the seeking of His love and pleasure. Practical belonging means to do all the good that is related to every one of one’s faculties with such eagerness and attention as if one beholds the countenance of the True Beloved in the mirror of one’s obedience.[16]

Such passion and zeal is what is required.

Establish a Living Connection with the Living God

The Promised Messiahas has explained that Islam does not merely consist of tales and legends like other religions and thus does not command its followers that their responsibility is to only follow and act on the guidance of the people of the past. Indeed Islam directs its followers to establish a living connection with God and that they should attain beneficence through this fresh relationship with the Lord. The Promised Messiahas says:

No other teaching or law can ever replace it, for the Holy Prophetsa is the Seal of Prophets, and the Holy Qur’an is the Perfect Book. There can be no other Kalima or prayer. The Holy Prophetsa demonstrated what he preached. No salvation is possible without following the Holy Qur’an. He who turns his back on it, will land in hell. This is our faith and belief. But it should as well be borne in mind that the door of Divine converse and revelation remains open for this Ummah. This door is an ever present and lasting testimony to the truth of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophetsa. It was to this end that God taught us this prayer in the Chapter Al-Fatihah: Guide us in the right path— The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings,…’[17]

The prayer taught in terms of ‘those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings’ suggests how to seek the excellences of the prophets. Of course, the excellence vouchsafed to the prophets was their true knowledge and understanding of God and this they achieved through direct communion and converse with Him. This is what you also desire. But if you think that though the Holy Qur’an directs us to offer this prayer, we are not likely to achieve anything from it, or that none from among the Muslims will be privileged to attain this spiritual station and the door to the acceptance of this prayer has been shut to us till the Day of Judgement, then will this not amount to insulting Islam and the Holy Prophetsa? The plain truth is that he who so thinks and believes defames Islam. He fails to understand the spirit of Islam. What Islam emphasises is that mere verbal pronouncement of the belief in the Oneness of God is not enough; one should really and truly understand its full import. Belief in Heaven and Hell should not be based on mere conjecture. One should taste the blessings of Paradise in this very life, and shed sins in which savages wallow. This indeed was and remains the splendid objective that human beings must pursue, a noble and holy objective, the like of which no other people can point out in their religion, nor can they produce an instance of having achieved it. For a fact, this is easy to claim but impossible to demonstrate.[18]

The God of Islam Calls People to Him with Open Arms

The Promised Messiahas further says:

Mankind has been created to obey and submit to God. No one would wish to remain blind and thus if one is aware that their salvation lies in recognising God then in their quest to meet Him, it follows they can never be satisfied with a handful of stories and legends. Instead they would desire to become fully acquainted with the Perfect Attributes of God so He can be recognised. Only by following Islam can this desire come to fruition. In some, this desire has been suppressed under their selfish egos and passions. There are those who yearn for worldly pleasures and enjoyments and are obsessed with materialism and so completely neglect God and are totally undesirous to search for God’s union. Such are dejected people who have submitted to worldly idols. Undoubtedly one who has attained salvation from worldly obsessions and finds the true eternal happiness and delight, will never be fulfilled or satisfied with a religion consisting of only myths and folklore. They will find their peace and satisfaction through Islam alone (naturally only through following the true teachings of Islam). The God of Islam does not close the door of blessings upon anyone; rather He extends an invitation with open hands and says those who expend all their energies to run towards Him will find the door of His rewards and bounties flung open.”[19]

In this connection I earlier gave the example of the Italian person and the amazing manner in which God guided him.

A True Religion Must Display Fresh Signs and Miracles

The Promised Messiahas elucidates how Islam gives life to religion:

A religion which does not display living signs will fail to draw its followers to God and cannot induce in them repulsion to sin and vice. Religious followers may loudly proclaim their religion but it is impossible for them to attain a truly pure heart and well-being and true fear of God unless one experiences an extraordinary occurrence through following that religion. A new life will only be infused in one when fresh conviction and belief is generated and this, as has always been the case, is only possible when new miracles are displayed, as were shown by Mosesas, Jesusas, Abrahamas, Jacobas and Muhammadsa the Chosen One. A new life is attained by those to whom God manifests Himself constantly, whose faith is continually refreshed and who observe new signs. Other religions are trapped in the web of past tales and stories of times gone by. Whilst their followers speak the name of God with their tongues, their hearts display neglect. I say truly that the clamour and commotion all across the world rests on only stories and legends. Anyone who relates the miracles of messengers or saints from centuries ago knows in their heart that they only recount stories of antiquity which neither they nor their forefathers were ever witness to. They can never be sure to what extent the accounts they relate are truthful. It is common for worldly people to make a mountain out of a molehill and so this leads them to present past accounts and stories as miracles. Whether it is a Muslim who relates these past stories, or a Christian who believes Jesusas to be divine and relates his miracles or a Hindu who recounts the marvels of the avatars; all of these are utterly worthless unless they present living examples alongside them. The true religion is one which is supported with living examples. Can anyone in their heart or conscience ever accept that, while a religion can be true on the one hand, that on the other its truthfulness fails to shine forth its brilliance in the present and in the future; and instead there are only accounts of the past to go by that describe its illumination. Thus, one hungry for guidance would find the door [of such religions] sealed closed. I know with certainty that anyone who is thirsty to meet God would never harbour such a mentality. In short, it is absolutely necessary that true religion displays fresh and brilliant and shining signs, and displays new manifestations of God and presents living examples.

Ultimate World Unity

The Promised Messiahas then says:

God wills that of all the souls that inhabit the different parts of the world—whether in Europe or Asia—those who possess pure natures should be drawn towards Unity, and His creatures may be united on one faith. This is the aim of God, with which I have been raised. So follow this aim but with tenderness, good manners.[20]

The manner religion should be followed is through prayers and focusing on improving one’s morals, rather than by brandishing a sword or shedding blood. It is now the responsibility of the followers of the true servant of the Holy Prophetsa [i.e. the Promised Messiahas] to spread the message of this religion to the world, which the Holy Prophetsa came to establish.

The Synopsis of the True Religion

This is the religion which proclaims: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.[21] This is the religion that has provided every solution and answer to all problems or issues that will arise until the end of times. This religion even today forms a connection between mankind and God and displays His living signs. This religion sent its Messenger in the latter age and joined him with the earlier people so they could learn the reality of religion.[22] This religion explained how Khilafat on the precepts of Prophethood would appear and then enabled for it to be established and transformed the state of fear of the believers into peace and security.[23] This is the religion, which today through the Khalifah of the Promised Messiahas, has illuminated brightly the means to peace to the world, and has silenced critics who allege that in a world where science continues to display new and astonishing marvels, religion does not fulfil the requirements of the modern age and has no place.

Islam – The Perfect and Complete Religion

It should be made known to them that Islam is a perfect teaching from God and science is subservient to it. It should be clearly expounded that miraculous and extraordinary occurrences and manifestations of God are not only stories from times gone by, rather even today the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at can show to the world the living signs of God’s grace, blessings and bounties. Prayers are not a decayed an outdated mode, rather even today the acceptance of prayers is demonstrated through Islam and God displays His extraordinary manifestations. Ahmadis in every part of the world are witness to these miracles and astonishing signs. Today only Islam can provide one true sustenance and life to the world and the banner of the Holy Prophetsa alone can guarantee world peace. One’s life in this world and the hereafter is truly established only by having faith in and establishing a connection with God. Today no one except for Ahmadis can illuminate the world with these realities and truths.

Fulfil Your Responsibilities

And so Arise! Discharge your covenants and sacrifice all of your energy, life, wealth, time and honour to fulfil this crucial objective! Expend all your faculties and capabilities, enhance your prayers to its pinnacle and supplicate with such anguish and agony that God infuses infinite blessings in our efforts to achieve this goal and so that the one true religion and the one true Messenger are recognised and the one true God alone is duly worshiped in the world! May God enable for us to fulfil our responsibilities.

We will now join in silent prayer, God Willing: Pray for all Ahmadis suffering in any way anywhere in the world; pray for the entire Muslim world that God alleviates them from their pain, agony and distress; pray that God halts the cruelties and injustices committed by rulers as well as so-called religious leaders and organisations, who are defaming the name of Islam; pray also for the improved state of the world as currently the world is rapidly moving towards an extremely treacherous situation and so may God save and protect the world from destruction; it has been reported that there a few women who succumbed to some injury at the Convention and so May God grant them good health; may God enable for all of you to return to your homes safely; may all of us be enabled to enhance our faith; may God protect all of us, all Ahmadis around the world and also me from every mischief and evil design of opponents; now join me in silent prayers.”

 

Endnotes

1. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfoozat, Vol. 2, pp. 236-237.

2. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.3, p.119..

3. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya Vol.5, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 21, pp.27-29.

4. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Four Questions by Mr. Sirajuddin, a Christian and their Answers (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Limited, 2009) 15-16.

5. The purpose of religion is to inculcate this certainty of belief. One who fails to do so should be greatly concerned.

6. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Nasim-e-Da’wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 447-448.

7. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Lecture Sialkot (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Limited, 2007) 47.

8. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya Vol.5, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 21, p.30.

9. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfoozat, Vol.6, p.210.

10. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Ma’idah, Verse 106.

11. Holy Qur’an, Surah As-Shams, Verse 10.

12. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, The British Government and Jihad (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Limited, 2006), 16-17.

13. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Ma’idah, Verse 4.

14. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Sat Bachn, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 10, pp.272-274.

15. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 118.

16. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 5, pp. 57-58.

17. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Fatihah, Verse 6-7.

18. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Lecture Ludhiana, pp.53-55.

19. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Haqeeqatul Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 22, p.64.

20. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Al-Wasiyyat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 306-307.

21. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Ma’idah, Verse 4.

22. This refers to Chapter 62, Verse 4 of the Holy Qur’an: ‘And among others from among them who have not yet joined them. He is the Mighty, the Wise.’ The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa prophesied that in the latter days the Promised Messiah would appear to restore faith and the true teachings of Islam and unite mankind under the one True Religion. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian, was that very Promised Messiah.

23. This refers to the prophecy of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophetsa that Khilafat (or Caliphate) would be re-established after the Promised Messiahas and would continue his mission to rejuvenate the teachings of Islam through a refreshing message of love, peace and compassion.

 

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