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Islam, the True and Living Faith

Islam means losing oneself for the sake of God and surrendering one's own pleasure for the pleasure of God.

I perceive that through believing in Islam fountains of light are coursing through me.

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. The wicked spirit of sin seeks to destroy a man and a person cannot escape the fatal poison of sin till he believes with full certainty in the Perfect and Living God and till he knows for certain that God exists, Who punishes the offender and bestows upon a righteous one every lasting 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 hole 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 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 [Naseem-e-Dawat, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press, 1903); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain, Vol.19, pp. 81-82].

The purpose of religion is that man should obtain deliverance from his passions and should develop personal love for God Almighty through certain faith in His existence and His perfect attributes. Such love of God is the paradise which will appear in diverse shapes in the hereafter. To be unaware of the true God and to keep away from Him and not to have any love for Him is the hell which will appear in diverse shapes in the hereafter. Thus the true purpose is to have full faith in Him. Now the question is which religion and which book can fill this need. The Bible tells us that the door of converse with God is closed and that the ways of obtaining certainty are sealed. Whatever was to happen, happened in the past and there is nothing in the future. . . . Of what use then is a religion which is dead? What benefit can we derive from a book that is dead? What grace can be bestowed by a god who is dead? [Chashmai Masihi, (Qadian, Magazine Press, 1906); Now published in Ruhani Khazain (
London, 1984), Vol. 20, pp. 20-23].

The purpose of accepting a religion is that God, Who is Self- Sufficient and is in no need of His creation or its worship, may be pleased with us, and that we should experience such grace and mercy as should wipe out our inner stains and rusts so that our breasts may be filled with certainty and understanding. This is not possible for a man to achieve through his own devices. Therefore, God the Glorious, keeping hidden mainly His own Being and the wonders of His creation, for instance, souls and bodies, angels, heaven, hell, resurrection and messengership etc. and yet disclosing them partially through reason, appointed his servants to believe in all these mysteries [Surma Chashm Arya, (Qadian, 1886); Now published in Ruhani Khazain, Volume 2 (London, 1984), p. 33].

* * *

In order to recognize a true religion it is necessary to look at three matters. In the first place, one must see what is the teaching of a religion concerning God. That is to say, what does a religion state with regard to the Unity, power, knowledge, perfection, greatness, punishment, mercy and other attributes of the Divine. . . .

Secondly, it is necessary that a seeker after truth should inquire what does a religion teach with regard to his own self and with regard to human conduct. Is there anything in its teaching which would disrupt human relationships, or would draw a person into courses which are inconsistent with modesty and honour, or would be contrary to the law of nature, or would be impossible to conform to or carry out, or make it dangerous to do so. It would also be necessary to see whether some important teaching needed to control disorderliness has been left out. It would also be necessary to discover whether a religion presents God as a Great Benefactor with Whom a relationship of personal love should be established and whether it lays down commandments which lead from darkness into light and from heedlessness to remembrance.

Thirdly, it is necessary for a seeker after truth to satisfy himself that the God presented by a religion should not be one Who is believed in on the basis of tales and stories and resembles a dead being. To believe in a God who resembles a dead being, belief in whom is not by virtue of His having manifested Himself but is due to one's own good faith, would be to put Him under an obligation. It is useless to believe in a God whose powers are not felt and who does not Himself make manifest the signs of His own existence and life [Naseem-e-Dawat, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press, 1903); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain, Vol.19, pp. 12, 13].

* * *

The religion that claims to be from God must show Signs of being from God and should bear the seal of God which should attest the fact that it is from God. Islam is such a religion. That God Who is hidden is known through this religion and manifests Himself to the true followers of this religion. A true religion is supported by the hand of God, and through such religion God manifests Himself that He exists. The religions that depend entirely upon stories are only a form of idol worship. Such religions do not possess the spirit of truth. If God is alive as He was, and speaks and hears as He did, there is no reason why He should continue silent as if He does not exist. If He does not speak in this age, then equally and certainly He does not hear either. In other words, He is now nothing. That religion alone is true which demonstrates that God hears and speaks in this age also. In a true religion, God attests His existence through His speaking. Search for God is a difficult matter. It is not an affair of worldly philosophers and wise men. Observation of the heavens and earth only leads to the conclusion that although orderliness indicates that the universe should have a Creator yet it is not proof that such Creator in fact exists. There is a deal of difference between ought to be and is. The Holy Quran is the only book which sets forth His existence as a fact and not only urges the seeking of God but makes Him manifest. There is no other book which makes manifest the Hidden Being [Chashmai Masihi, (Qadian, Magazine Press, 1906); Now published in Ruhani Khazain (
London, 1984), Vol. 20, pp. 19-20].

* * *

Religion does not mean disputes, abuse and harsh words which are indulged in, in the name of religion. In this context, no one pays attention to the suppression of inner vices or the establishment of true relationship with the Beloved. One party attacks another party like dogs and every kind of ill conduct is exhibited in support of religion. Such people do not realize why they came into this world and what is the main purpose of their lives. They continue blind and ill-natured and give their bigoted sentiments the name of religion. They exhibit their bad manners and employ their loose tongues in support of a fictitious god of whose existence they have no proof. Of what use is a religion which does not teach the worship of a Living God? The God that they present is no better than a corpse. He walks with the support of others. When that support is withdrawn, he falls to the ground. The only thing they gain from such a religion is bigotry. They lack altogether true fear of God and true sympathy with mankind which is the best of characteristics (Braheen Ahmadiyyah, Part IV, p. 19).
* * *

Two conditions are necessary for a religion which claims to be from God. In the first place, a religion should be so comprehensive and perfect and complete and free from every defect in its doctrine, teachings and commandments, that reason should not be capable of proposing anything better; and there should be nothing lacking in it. It should be ahead of all other religions in this respect. The Holy Quran puts forward this claim by proclaiming: This day have I perfected your religion for your benefit, and have completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as your faith (5:4). That is to say, God requires us to conform to the reality inherent in the word Islam. Here there is a clear claim that the Holy Quran comprehends the perfect teaching and that the time of the revelation of the Holy Quran was the time when such perfect teaching could be revealed. The Quran alone is entitled to make this claim. No other heavenly book has put forward such a claim. Both the Torah and the Gospel refrain from making this claim. On the contrary, the Torah sets out God's commandment that He would raise a Prophet from among the brethren of Israel and would put His word into his mouth and that whosoever does not lend ear to that word of God would be accountable for his default. It is obvious, therefore, that if the Torah had been adequate for meeting the needs of subsequent ages, there would have been no necessity for the coming of another Prophet, listening to whom was made obligatory. In the same way the Gospel has nowhere claimed that its teaching is perfect and comprehensive. But there is a clear confession that there were many things which had still to be said but that the disciples had not yet the strength to bear them but that when the Paraclete would come he would lead them to the whole truth. Thus Moses confessed the incompleteness of the Torah and drew attention to the teaching of the Prophet who was to come. In the same way Jesus admitted the incompleteness of his teaching and said that the time had not yet come for the perfect teaching to be disclosed but that when the Paraclete arrives he would set forth the perfect teaching. In contrast the Holy Quran does not, like the Torah and the Gospel, leave the matter for another book to complete but announces the perfection of its teaching in the words: This day have I perfected your religion for your benefit, and have completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as your faith (5:4). . . . Here is thus a great argument in support of Islam that by virtue of its teaching it prevails over every religion and no religion can compete with it in respect of the perfection of its teaching.

The second characteristic of Islam, which is not shared by any other religion and which attests its truth, is that it manifests its living blessings and miracles of which other religions are wholly deprived. The signs that Islam exhibits not only establish its superiority over other religions but enable it to draw the hearts of the people by exhibiting its perfect light. The first characteristic of Islam which we have stated above, that is to say, the perfection of its teaching, is not quite conclusive in establishing that Islam is a true religion revealed by God. A bigoted opponent who is not far- sighted may assert that it is possible that a teaching might be perfect and yet it may not proceed from God Almighty. This first characteristic relieves a wise seeker after truth of many doubts and brings him close to certainty, but does not establish the matter conclusively and beyond doubt till it is combined with the second characteristic. By their combination the light of the true faith reaches its perfection. A true faith comprises thousands of proofs and lights but these two characteristics are enough to carry conviction to the heart of a seeker after truth and expound the matter to the satisfaction of all deniers of truth. Nothing more is needed in addition. I had originally intended that in support of the truth of Islam I would set down three hundred arguments in Braheen Ahmadiyyah. But on further reflection I perceived that these two characteristics are a substitute for thousands of proofs and thus God made me alter my plan (Preface to Braheen Ahmadiyyah, Part V, pp. 2-5).

* * *

God Almighty is not held back in exposition of the claim of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him. He came like a sun and manifested his light from every point of view. He who turns away from this true sun, will come to no good. We cannot credit such a one with good faith. Can anyone who is afflicted with leprosy and whose limbs are corrupted with leprosy, claim that he is whole and is not in need of treatment? Should he say so, can we credit him with good faith? Should such a person insist that he cannot arrive at the truth of Islam, despite good faith and despite every effort such as he puts forth in his worldly affairs, his matter rests with God. We have not come across any such person and we consider it impossible that anyone equipped with reason and a sense of justice should prefer some other faith to Islam. Foolish and ignorant people adopt the position under the dictates of their lower selves that belief in the Unity of God is enough, and that it is not necessary to follow the Holy Prophet, peace be on him; but it is to be borne in mind that a Prophet is the mother of Unity that gives birth to it and points to the existence of God. Who knows the exposition of the truth better than God Almighty Himself? He filled heaven and earth with signs to prove the truth of the Holy Prophet, and now in this age he has sent me and has displayed thousands of signs like heavy rain which prove the truth of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him. What then is lacking in the full exposition of the truth? He who has sense enough to oppose why can he not think out the way of acceptance? He who pretends that he can see at night, why can he not see in the full light of day? Indeed the way of acceptance is much easier than the way of rejection. The case of a person whose reason is defective and whose faculties are not normal should be committed to God, and we have nothing to do concerning him. He is like children who die at an early age. But a wicked denier cannot excuse himself on the ground that he is acting in good faith. It should be considered whether his faculties are such that he can appreciate questions of Unity and Prophethood. If he is capable of appreciating them and denies out of ill-will, he cannot be excused. Can we excuse a person who observes the light of the sun and yet persists in asserting that it is not day but night. In the same way, we cannot excuse those who deliberately indulge in wrong reasoning and are unable to repel the arguments that are put forward on behalf of Islam. Islam is a living faith. A person who can distinguish between the living and the dead, how can he set aside Islam and accept a dead religion [Haqiqatul Wahi, (Qadian, Magazine Press 1907); Now published in Ruhani Khazain (
London, 1984), Vol. 22, pp. 175-176]?

* * *

When I reflect upon the whole word of God, I find that in its teachings it seeks to reform the natural conditions of man and to raise him step by step to higher spiritual levels. In the first place God desires to teach man the elementary rules of behaviour and culture and thus to change him from the wild condition of animals, and then to bestow upon him elementary moral conditions which can be described as culture or civilization. Then He trains him and raises him from the elementary moral conditions to a high moral stage. All this is in truth one stage, which is the reform of natural conditions, and the only difference is one of degree. The All-Wise One has presented the moral system in such a way whereby man should be able to move from a lower moral level to a higher moral level. The third stage is that man should be devoted to winning the true love and pleasure of his Creator and the whole of his being should be devoted to God. It is at this stage that the faith of Muslims has been named Islam which means to be wholly devoted to God and to keep nothing back [Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (
London, 1984), Vol. 10, p. 10].

It is foolish to imagine that religion means a few things that are mentioned in the Gospel. All matters that are essential for the perfection of man are comprehended within the scope of religion. Religion comprises all those matters which lead man from his wild condition to the condition of true humanity and then lead him from the condition of humanity to a life of wisdom and thereafter lead him from a life of wisdom to a life that is devoted to God [Kitabul Bariyyah, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press 1898); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 13, p. 71].

There is no doubt that the Gospel does not provide for the full nurture of the tree of humanity. We are sent into the world with many faculties and every faculty demands that it should be used on its proper occasion. The Gospel emphasizes only the faculty of meekness and gentleness. Meekness and forgiveness are good qualities when exercised on the proper occasion but their use on every occasion would be greatly harmful. Our cultural life which comprises the interplay of different kinds of tempers demands that we should exercise all our faculties with discretion on the proper occasion. It is true that on some occasions forgiveness and forbearance would benefit materially and spiritually a person who has done us harm. On other occasions, the exercise of those faculties would encourage the offender to commit greater mischief and do more harm.

Our spiritual life resembles our physical life to a large degree. It is our experience that the use of only one type of food and medicines would upset our health. If we were to confine ourselves over a period to the use of cooling articles of diet and refrain altogether from the use of warming articles, we would become a prey to some disease like paralysis, Parkinson's disease or epilepsy. On the contrary, if we confine ourselves to warming articles of diet, so much so that even the water that we drink must be warm, then equally we would be liable to some other kind of disease. Consequently, in order to maintain our physical health we must keep a balance between hot and cold and hard and soft and movement and rest. We should follow the same rule in respect of our spiritual health. God has bestowed no evil faculty upon us. Indeed no faculty is evil in itself. It is the misuse of a faculty that is evil. For instance, envy is evil but if we use it for a good purpose, that is to say, as a competition in goodness, it becomes a high moral quality. The same is the case with all moral qualities. Their misuse renders them harmful and their use on the proper occasion in a moderate manner makes them beneficial.

It is, therefore, a mistake to cut off all other branches of the tree of humanity and to put the entire emphasis on forgiveness and forbearance. That is why this teaching has failed of its purpose and Christian sovereigns had to enact codes of law for the punishment of offenders. The current Gospel cannot bring about the perfection of the human self. As the stars are dimmed when the sun rises and then disappear from sight altogether, the same is the case of the Gospel in comparison with the Holy Quran [Kitabul Bariyyah, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press 1898); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (
London, 1984), Vol. 13, pp. 48-49].

* * *

A study of the religions of the world reveals that every religion, except Islam, contains some mistake or the other. This is not because they were all false in their origin, but because after the advent of Islam, God gave up the support of other religions and they became like neglected gardens which had no gardener to look after them, and for the irrigation and upkeep of which no arrangement had been made, so that gradually they began to decay. Their fruit-bearing trees became dry and barren, and thorns and weeds spread all over. Those religions lost all spirituality which is at the root of all religion and nothing was left but bare words. God did not suffer this to happen in the case of Islam as He desired that this garden should flourish throughout. He made provision in each century for its irrigation and thus rescued it from decay.Although at the beginning of each century when a man of God was appointed for its reform the ignorant people opposed him and were averse to the reform of anything which had become part of their habits and customs, yet God Almighty adhered throughout to His way. In these latter days also, which is the time of the last battle between guidance and error, finding the Muslims heedless and neglectful in the beginning of the fourteenth century, God recalled His promise and made provision for the revival of Islam. But other faiths were never revived after the advent of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him; and they all died. There was no spiritual life in them and errors took root in them, as dirt accumulates in a garment which is much in use but which is never washed. People who had no concern with spirituality and who were not free from the stains of earthly existence corrupted these faiths to a degree that they no longer resemble the originals. Consider the case of Christianity, how pure was its origin. The teaching set forth by Jesus was not perfect as compared with the teachings of the Quran, because the time had not yet come for the revelation of the perfect teaching and people were not yet strong enough to bear it, yet that teaching was an excellent one and was appropriate for its own time. It guided to the same God to Whom the Torah guided but after Jesus, the god of the Christians became another god who found no mention in the Torah and was not at all known to the children of
Israel. Belief in this new god upset the whole system of the Torah and all the guidance contained in the Torah, for deliverance from sin and attaining true salvation and a pure life, was frustrated. Salvation and deliverance from sin now depended upon the confession that Jesus had accepted crucifixion for the sake of the salvation of mankind, and that he was very God Himself. Many permanent laws of the Torah were abrogated and the Christian faith was so changed about that if Jesus were to come back to the earth he would not be able to recognize it. It is a matter of surprise that the people who were admonished to adhere to the Torah set aside its commandments at one stroke. For instance, it is nowhere stated in the Gospel that though the Torah forbids the eating of the flesh of swine yet it is now permitted, nor does the Gospel say that though circumcision is prescribed in the Torah yet that commandment is now abrogated. But all this was done and that which had never been said by Jesus became part of religion. However, as it was God's design to establish a universal religion namely Islam, the decay of Christianity was an indication of the appearance of Islam. It is also well established that Hinduism had been corrupted before the advent of Islam and that throughout India idol worship had become common. Part of this corruption resulted in the doctrine that God Who is not dependent upon matter for the exercise of His attributes is, in the view of the Aryas, so dependent for the creation of the universe. This led to another false doctrine that all particles of matter and all souls are eternal and uncreated. Had they considered deeply the attributes of God, they would never have said so; for if in the exercise of His eternal attribute of creation, God is dependent like a human being on matter, then how is it that in the exercise of the attribute of hearing and seeing He is not so dependent as is man. Man cannot hear without the agency of air and he cannot see without the aid of light. Then is God also dependent upon light and air for seeing and hearing? If He is not so dependent, be sure that He is not dependent upon matter for the exercise of His attribute of creation. It is entirely false that He is dependent upon matter for the exercise of any of His attributes. It is a great mistake to attribute human weaknesses to God; for instance, that He cannot create something from nothing. Man's being is limited and God's Being is unlimited. By the power of His Being, He can create another being. This is of the essence of Godhead. He is not dependent upon matter for the exercise of any of His attributes, for had that been so, He would not be God. Nothing can obstruct Him. If He were to desire to create a heaven and earth instantly, He would be able to do so. Of the Hindus those who, in addition to knowledge, partook of spirituality also and were not committed to bare logic, never believed that concerning God which the Aryas set forth today. This is the result of the lack of spirituality altogether.

All this corruption, some of which is unmentionable and is opposed to human purity, was an indication of the need of Islam. Every reasonable person is bound to confess that a short while before Islam, all other faiths had become corrupt and had lost all spirituality. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was a great reformer in the cause of truth who restored the lost verities to the world. No prophet shares with him the pride that he found the whole world in darkness and by his advent that darkness gave place to light [Lecture Sialkoat entitled "Islam", (Sialkoat, Mufid Aam Press, 1904); Now published in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 20, pp. 1-5].

* * *

First of all it is necessary to set out what is the reality of Islam, what are the means of arriving at that reality and what are the fruits of following that reality; for this knowledge is essential for the purpose of understanding many mysteries. It would be of great benefit for our opponents that they should study these matters with attention, for many of the doubts which assail their minds are the result of their failure to reflect upon the complete and perfect reality of Islam, its sources and its fruits. . . . The opponents of religion also would benefit greatly by this study. They would understand what religion is and what are the signs of its truth.

In the idiom of Arabic, 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: The truth is that whoever submits himself completely to the will of Allah and acts righteously shall have his reward with his Lord. No fear shall come upon such, nor shall they grieve (2:113). 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.

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