Islam

Introduction

What does Islam really teach? What are its fundamental beliefs, and what are the actions it enjoins? What is the Qur’an, and what wisdom does it contain? These pages seek to answer these questions, and give the reader a perfect starting point to learn about this great faith.

We start with the Articles of Faith, which are the six core beliefs of Islam. As it is a key principle in Islam that belief must be put into action, we then move onto the Pillars of Faith, which are the five key religious acts to be performed by Muslims. Thereafter we discuss the Qur’an, and offer an overview of Islamic History.

Please note that the letters (sa)/pbuh or (as) appearing after the name of the Prophet Muhammadsa and other Prophets respectively, indicates an Arabic honorific translating to ‘peace be upon him.’ (ra) indicates ‘May Allah be pleased with him/her.'

Further Learning

Once you’ve exhausted the pages on this website, you may want to know where else you can learn about Islam! For that reason, we’ve compiled some further sources of education below.

Books

An Elementary Study of Islam

By Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad

This book, written by the blessed 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, provides an insightful overview of the core teachings of Islam. Much of this section is excerpted from this wonderful introduction.

Read it now.

Holy Qur’an with Short Commentary

This publication of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a perfect introduction to the text of the Qur’an itself. With an easy-to-read English translation, and commentary summarised from the 2nd Khalifa’s, the book constitutes a short but in-depth primer to Qur’anic scholarship.

Read it online or by PDF.

Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam

By Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

This classic of Ahmadiyya literature has introduced countless souls to the world of Islam. A deep and revolutionary analysis of the Islamic teachings by the Promised Messiah himself. Enlightenment awaits!

Read it now.

You can find countless more books freely available on the Alislam library.

Multimedia

MTA International

The revolutionary broadcasting channel of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) now has several different channels with endless content on Islam 24/7.

See it on YouTube, watch live on its website, or visit channel 787 on Sky TV.

Alislam.org

Alislam is the international homepage of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It is a repository of information on Islam and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, featuring thousands of books, articles, and hours of media production.

Visit Alislam now.

Ask Islam

This is a treasure-trove of information on every subject, excerpted from audio recordings of the late 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Just search your query, and find an answer!

Visit now.

The Tahir Archive

This YouTube channel collects all the video material of the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Here you can find full original Q&A sessions, lectures delving into the depths of Holy Qur’an teachings, and videos with translations into many of the world’s languages. A must watch for further education on Islam.

Watch it online here.

Articles of Faith

Belief in God’s Unity

The following article was written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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This seems to be a rather simple and elementary concept. It should not be difficult for anybody to understand the oneness of God, and there the matter seems to rest. But in fact there is far more to this than meets the eye. When one examines the concept of Unity in depth, the entire world of religion seems to revolve around this pivotal point. This belief influences man’s life in all its aspects. It also implies the negation of all else but God. So belief in the oneness of God is not the end-all of belief, but all other beliefs spring from this fountain-head of eternal truth. This also delivers a message of liberation from all other yokes and releases man from all obligations except such as is born out of his submission to God.

This article has been further elucidated from different angles, both in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam. For instance, the declaration ‘La houl wala quat illa Billah’ (There is no all-encompassing power except Allah) opens up new windows for a deeper and wider understanding of Unity. It negates all fears other than the fear of God. The second part of the same brings to the focus of attention another very important aspect of Unity, i.e. that the power to achieve good is solely dependent on God and that He is Master of all sources of strength and energy. Hence while the first part relates to the negative aspects of power, the second part relates to the positive.

In application to human actions, intentions and motivations etc., these two forces are all-encompassing. Man’s intentions and his subsequent actions are always guided and controlled either by fear or hope and there is no exception to this rule. Those who do good deeds do so out of fear and hope, and those who indulge in vices are motivated by the same. The fears of non-believers belong to the negative ungodly category, and they shape their lives in accordance with these worldly fears. Sometimes they are afraid of earning the displeasure of monarchs and authorities, sometimes they are afraid of society in general or of despots and bullies. Again, sometimes they act evilly out of a fear of poverty and loss etc. So, in a world full of vices, a large part of human actions can be explained with reference to these fears.

The belief in Unity dispels these fears altogether and brings to one’s mind the importance of the fear of God, which means that one must not be afraid of the displeasure of the ungodly, but should always endeavour to avoid displeasing God and shape one’s life according to that fear alone. In the positive sense, the same applies to all human motivations and consequent actions. Man always lives by some motive to please someone, himself being no exception. In fact, more often than not, he works to please himself even at the cost of those who are otherwise dear to him.

A more exaggerated form of this attitude renders man a worshipper of his own ego. To achieve his purpose, man has to please those on whom his pleasures depend. As such, again he has to constantly strive to win the favours of monarchs, authorities etc. What we are describing is the worst form of slavery. The hopes and fears of a slave are completely dependent on the whims, pleasures and displeasures of his master. But a godless man has not one master alone. Every other human being in relation to his personal interests can play as God to him. If you analyse the ultimate cause of social, moral or political evils, it is such human worship which destroys the peace of man’s mind, and society as a whole begins to deteriorate endlessly.

From this point of view, when you cast another glance at the fundamental declaration, that ‘there is no God but Allah, the One and Only’, all these fears and hopes relating to objects other than God are dispelled, as if by the waving of a magic wand. In other words, by choosing one master alone you are liberated from slavery to all others. To be a slave of such others as are themselves slaves to numberless gods is a poor bargain indeed! But that is not all. The gods that such people worship are many a time products of their own imagination, which can do them neither good nor harm. Most men, on the other hand, worship nothing but mortals like themselves, their own egos being supreme among them all. Hence each of them bows to numberless egotistic gods, their interests being at clash with each other, creating a situation which is the ultimate of chaos.

The Islamic concept of Unity also inculcates in man the realisation of the oneness of the human species, and does away with all such barriers as divide man into racial, ethnic and colour denominations. This gives birth to the universal concept of equality in Islam, which is its distinctive feature. Hence from the vantage point of God, all human beings, wherever and in whichever age they were born, stand equal in His sight. As will be demonstrated shortly, it is this fundamental which gives rise to all other fundamental beliefs and doctrines in Islam. As briefly mentioned before, Islam’s doctrine of Unity is absolute and unsplittable; it has no room for adding to the Godhead in any form. He has neither a father nor a mother, nor has He a spouse. For Him to give birth to sons and daughters is inconceivable.

Another important aspect of Unity of God as presented by the Qur’an relates to absolute harmony in His creation. It is this harmony concept which appealed so strongly to Einstein. He was compelled to pay tribute to the perfect symmetry in nature, which according to him required the oneness of creator. He was a scientist, and his perception of that harmony was limited to the material universe. But the Holy Qur’an speaks of the harmony in creation in all its possible applications. The Holy Qur’an claims that within nature, as created by God, and within the divine books revealed by God, there is no disharmony; that there is complete concurrence between one area of God’s creation and another, and between one book and the other.

It goes further to declare that there is perfect consistency between the Word of God and the Act of God and that there can be no contradiction between nature and the divine word as revealed to His prophets. This subject is beautifully expressed in the first five verses of Surah Al-Mulk,

and is also taken up in many other verses of the Qur’an from various angles.

Coming to individuals, the belief in Unity plays a very important role in the education and upbringing of humans. It requires a consistency between man’s views and actions, a consistency between his relationship with God and his fellow beings, thus binding creation in a single chain of unbreakable unity. This can be better understood by bringing to focus the practices of some so-called religious people, who preach hatred for one section of human society against another in the name of the one and only God. The principle of Unity of God is at variance with this practice and as such does not permit people to create divisions between God and His creation and within the creation of God.

Life After Death

The following passage is written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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The question of life after death has agitated the minds of people belonging to all religions and all ages alike. There is also the atheistic view which totally denies the possibility of life after death. The religions which believe in life after death can be divided into two categories.

Those which believe in the reincarnation of the soul of a dead person into a new human or animal form of existence.

Those which believe in an otherworldly state of existence after death.

The atheistic view is outside the domain of this discussion. As far as Islamic doctrine is concerned, Islam belongs to that category of religions which totally rejects all possibilities of reincarnation in any form. But those who believe in some otherworldly form of spiritual or carnal existence are divided among themselves on so many planes. Within each religion the understanding differs. Hence, with reference to the views held by the followers of various religions, no belief can be attributed to them without fear of contradiction.

In Islam itself there are different views held by different sects or Muslim scholars. The general understanding tends to perceive the otherworldly form as very similar to the carnal one here on earth. The concept of Heaven and Hell consequently present a material image rather than a spiritual image of things to be. Heaven is presented, according to their concept, as an immeasurably large garden literally abounding in beautiful trees casting eternal shadows under which rivers will flow. The rivers would be of milk and honey. The garden will be fruit bearing and all man may desire of fruits would be his at his command. The meat would be that of birds of all sorts; it is only for one to wish which meat he particularly craves. Female companions of exceeding beauty and refinement would be provided to the pious men, with no limit imposed on the number, which will be decided according to their capacity. As many as they can cope with will be theirs. What would they do? How would they relate with each other? Will they bear children or lead a barren life of enjoyment? These are all the moot questions. The enjoyment, as it is conceived, is intensely sensual. No work to be performed, no labour to be wasted, no effort to be made. A perfect life (if such life can be called perfect) of complete and total indolence, with the option of overeating and over-drinking, because also wine will be flowing close to the rivers of milk and honey. No fear of dyspepsia or intoxication! Reclining on heavenly cushions of silk and brocade, they will while their time away in eternal bliss—but what an eternal bliss!

In Islam, there are others who categorically reject this naive understanding of the Qur’anic references to Heaven, and prove with many a reference to verses of the Holy Qur’an that what it describes is just metaphorical imagery which has no carnality about it. In fact the Holy Qur’an makes it amply clear that the form of existence of the life to come will be so different from all known forms of life here on earth, that it is beyond human imagination even to have the slightest glimpse of the otherworldly realities.

This is the categorical statement of the Qur’an on the subject. In recent times, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, presented this view of spiritual existence as against carnal existence in his unique and outstanding treatise entitled The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam. All views propounded in the book are well documented with Qur’anic references and traditions of the Holy Founder of Islam. A brief account is reproduced here.

According to his profound study, the life in the hereafter would not be material. Instead, it would be of a spiritual nature of which we can only visualise certain aspects. We cannot determine precisely how things will take shape. One of the salient features of his vision of the hereafter concerns the soul giving birth to another rarer entity, which would occupy the same position in relation to the soul as the soul occupies in relation to our carnal existence here on earth. This birth of a soul from within the soul will be related to the sort of life that we have lived on earth. If our lives here are spent in submission to the will of God and in accordance with His commands, our tastes gradually become cultured and attuned to enjoying spiritual pleasures as against carnal pleasures. Within the soul a sort of embryonic soul begins to take shape. New faculties are born and new tastes are acquired, in which those accustomed to carnal pleasures find no enjoyment. These new types of refined human beings can find the content of their heart. Sacrifice instead of the usurpation of others’ rights becomes enjoyable. Forgiveness takes the upper hand of revenge, and love with no selfish motive is born like a second nature, replacing all relationships that have ulterior motives. Thus, one can say a new soul within the soul is in the offing.

All these projections regarding the development of the soul are inferences drawn from various verses of the Holy Qur’an, yet the exact nature of future events cannot be precisely determined. One can only say that something along these lines would take place, the details of which lie beyond the reach of human understanding.

There are certain aspects of the new life which need to be discussed. The concept of hell and heaven in Islam is completely different from the normally held view. Hell and heaven are not two different places occupying separate time and space. According to the Holy Qur’an, the heaven covers the entire universe. ‘Where would be hell then?’ enquired some of the companions of the Holy Prophet(sa). ‘At the same place’, was the answer, ‘but you do not have the faculty to understand their coexistence.’ That is to say in ordinary human terms, they may seem to occupy the same time-space, but in reality because they belong to different dimensions, so they will coexist without interfering and inter-relating with each other.

But what is the meaning of heavenly bliss, the tortures of the fire of hell? In answer to this question, the Promised Messiah(as) has illustrated the issue in the following terms: If a man is almost dying of thirst but is otherwise healthy, cool water can provide him such deeply satisfying pleasure as cannot be derived from the ordinary experience of drinking water, or even the most delicious drink of his choice. If a man is thirsty and hungry as well, and he needs an immediate source of energy, a chilled bunch of grapes can provide him with such deep satisfaction as is not experienced by the same in ordinary circumstances. But the pre-requisite for these pleasures is good health. Now visualise a very sick man, who is nauseating and trying to vomit whatever liquid is left in him and is on the verge of death through dehydration. Offer him a glass of cool water, or a chilled bunch of grapes, then not to mention his accepting them, a mere glance of them would create a state of revulsion and absolute abhorrence in him.

In illustrations like these, the Promised Messiah(as) made it clear that hell and heaven are only issues of relativity. A healthy soul which has acquired the taste for good things, when brought into close proximity of the objects of its choice, will draw even greater pleasure than before. All that a healthy spiritual man was craving was nearness to God and His attributes and to imitate divine virtues. In heaven, such a healthy soul would begin to see and conceive and feel the nearness of the attributes of God like never before. They, according to the Promised Messiah(as) would not remain merely spiritual values, but would acquire ethereal forms and shapes which the newly born heavenly spirit would enjoy with the help of the erstwhile soul which would function as the body. That again would be a matter of relativity. The converse will be true of hell, in the sense that an unhealthy soul would create an unhealthy body for the new soul of the hereafter. And the same factors which provide pleasure to the healthy soul would provide torture and deep suffering for this unhealthy entity.

When we refer to mind or soul in comparison to our carnal body, there is a vast difference in the nature of their existence, which is almost inconceivable. Every part of the body is alive and is throbbing with life, not only in material terms but also in awareness. Every particle of the human body is gifted with some sort of awareness. Scientists try to express that awareness in terms of electronic pulses, but that is a very crude way of describing the overall awareness of the conscious and subconscious mind and the immune system and other independent functions of the human body, which still lie far beyond our power of comprehension.

So what is that awareness? How can it be defined and explained that Ultimate ‘I’ in every living thing. Can we refer to it as ego in psychological terms? But never has a psychologist succeeded in defining the ego. It is that something which in religious terms is described as the soul. There is no way we can measure the distance between the soul and the carnal body. In terms of rarity the soul, even in our crudest perception, is so rare and ultra-refined that in no way can it be likened to the body that it occupies. Now try to conceive the scenario of the birth of a soul within the soul over a period of billions of years. At the end of a long day we find a soul within a soul which would have the same comparison in terms of rarity as a human soul here on earth has with the human body. Something similar to this will take place and in relative terms the future existence of life would also have two states combined into one entity. In relative terms, one state would be like body and the other like soul. In comparison to our body, our soul would appear like a body to the newly evolved essence of existence.

For further details, readers are advised to read the full treatise, which deals not only with this subject but also discusses some other very interesting topics which agitate the minds of people the world over.

In short, each individual creates his own hell or his own heaven and, in accordance with his own state, each heaven differs from the other person’s heaven and each hell differs from the other person’s hell, though apparently they occupy the same space and time in otherworldly dimensions.

What happens to man’s soul between the time of his carnal death and his resurrection on the Day of Judgement? The Holy Prophet(sa) is reported to have said that after our death windows will open up in the grave; for the pious people windows open from heaven, and for the wicked people they open towards hell. However, if we were to open up a grave we would not find any windows! So literal acceptance of these words will not convey the true meaning of this subject. It is impossible that the Holy Prophet(sa) should ever misinform us; hence here he had to be speaking metaphorically. Had it not been so, then every time we dig up a grave, we should find windows, either opening into hell, or letting in the fragrant and pleasant air of paradise. But we witness neither of these. So what do the Holy Prophet’s words mean?

The grave is actually an intermediary phase of existence between this life and the life to come. Here, spiritual life will progress gradually through many stages until it reaches its ultimate destiny. Then by the Command of Allah, a trumpet will be blown and the final spiritual form will come into being. In this interim period, different souls would pass through a semblance of heaven or hell before reaching their final stage of perfection, fit and ready to be raised into a completely transformed entity. The Qur’an illustrates this concept beautifully:

Pondering over the birth of a child from a single cell, one finds the following Qur’anic statement:

Now this subject is related to the subject of the two identical creations mentioned above. Take for example the case of such children as are congenitally ill. They do not suddenly contract illness at the time of delivery; rather they gradually develop into a state of morbidity which is progressive and which starts from the time of their early embryonic stage. Similarly, the soul of a person who is spiritually diseased, in that embryonic stage before its final resurrection on the Day of Judgement, will suffer through a semblance of hell and will remain uneasy in that period of the grave as does an unhealthy child in the womb of its mother. The ways of a healthy child are totally different, even his kicking is appreciated by the mother.

The question that now arises is: Will the soul also progress as does the child in the mother’s womb, and will it passes through all these stages? The answer to this can be found in the very same verse of the Qur’an: ‘Ma khalqukum wa ma ba’sukum illa ka nafsin wahidin’—your first creation and your second creation will be identical.

To understand the second creation, we need to understand the way a baby takes shape in a mother’s womb. These forms apparently only take nine months to develop, while in reality the creation of life is spread over billions of years. Going back to the beginning of zoological life, the baby passes through almost all the stages of the evolution of life. From the beginning of the pregnancy, through to its culmination nine months later, the development of the child reflects all the stages of creation. In other words, all the phases of evolution are being repeated in those nine months, one after the other, and at such great speed that it is beyond our imagination. It keeps alive the stages of the system of evolution, and presents a picture of it.

The creation of life underwent a long period of development to reach the form that we witness in nine months. This sheds light on the fact that the period of our first creation was very long, and our second creation will also span a long period. By studying these nine months we can learn something of the billions of years of the history of life and also about the evolution of souls in the next world. It is perhaps safe to infer that the time from the early origin of life to the ultimate creation of man would perhaps be needed once again for the development of the soul after the death.

In support of this reasoning, the Qur’an categorically declares that when the souls are resurrected they will talk to one another, trying to determine how long they tarried on the earth. Some will say, ‘We tarried for a day’ while others will say, ‘For even less than a day.’ Allah will then say, ‘No even that is not correct.’ In other words, Allah will say, ‘You tarried on earth for much less than what you estimate.’ In reality, the relationship of one life-span to a small part of the day is more or less the same ratio that the time of the soul’s resurrection will have to its previous entire life. The further away something is, the smaller it appears. Our childhood seems like an experience of just a few seconds. The greater the distance of the stars, the smaller they appear. What Allah is trying to tell us is that we won’t find ourselves being judged the very next day after we die. Instead, judgement will take place in such a distant future that our previous lives will seem like a matter of a few seconds to us, like a small point a long way away.

In short, man’s resurrection is described as a transformation that he cannot envisage and an event that is as certain as his existence here on earth. All these subjects have been explained in detail in the Holy Qur’an.

The Angels

The following passage is written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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The existence of angels is a universally accepted doctrine in different countries and different religions. However, they are sometimes discussed under other titles, the distinction being only one of nomenclature. Similarly, the nature of angels is understood differently among the followers of different religions.

Islam speaks of angels as celestial beings of a spiritual nature who have their own entity as persons. The major role they play is the transmission of messages from God to human beings. But they are misunderstood by many, even within Islam, as having human shape or some shape and form, which in fact is an inseparable idea from that of material existence. Matter must have shape and a well-defined boundary. But spirit lies beyond the five dimensions of man’s understanding. One can only believe in the existence of spirit if he is a religious person; otherwise it is beyond his reach to conceive the shape and form of spirits. Perhaps to resolve this problem and to make it easier for man to visualise angels, they are sometimes mentioned in religious books as appearing to holy people in the form of human beings. Not only that; they are also known to have appeared to some messengers of God in the form of certain birds. The Holy Ghost appeared to Jesus in the form of a dove:

As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.(Matthew 3:16)

These various references found in religious books were perhaps largely responsible for the misperceptions about the form and nature of angels prevailing among the adherents of various religions. Out of angels, in some religions, deyotas and gods were created, while the original books may have only mentioned them as agencies specifically created by God for performing certain tasks in the universe; of this we have ample evidence in many divine books. So, it is not unlikely that some people misunderstand the significance of these statements and start treating angels as junior partners of God.

Let us now try to comprehend the nature of angels with reference only to the Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam, and not with reference to commonly held views. According to the Qur’an, the entire material universe as well as the entire religious universe is governed by certain spiritual powers, which are referred to as angels. Although some angels are referred to as single person, such as Gabriel, Michael or Israel, they in fact do not work alone. For each function there is one leader or one supreme angel who governs that function and under him works a host of angels, who are referred to in the Holy Qur’an as the Junood of the Lord. Whatever they do is completely subject to the will of God and the design that He has created for things. They cannot make the slightest deviation from the set course of functions allocated to them, or from the overall plan of things made by God.

According to the Qur’an, for each human being two angels are appointed to record good deeds and misdeeds, as the case may be. In this way the task of the angels is to organise the most intricate and profound system of recording. It does not mean that each has a book in his hand, jotting down in it whatever he observes. In fact, angels are responsible for a very complex system of registering the effect of man’s deeds on his soul and personality so that a good man develops a healthy soul and a bad man breeds an unhealthy one.

The soul, as it is takes shape in every man till his death, needs a conscious organiser who transfers the effects of human thoughts, actions etc. to the soul. This is an intricate process not fully comprehended by man. However, we do partially witness this in the case of criminals acquiring a different visage from people of noble conduct. It is not at all impossible for anyone to observe such a difference, although it cannot be described in terms of black and white or other material terms. In fact the administration of the huge universe, right from its inception through the entire course of the billions of years of its evolutionary history, requires an enormous organisation of constant attention and control. This is performed by innumerable angels, who literally govern the vast universe and its intricate system of laws, as agents of God.

As far as the traditions go, we can comprehend to a degree the versatility of angels in being able to materialise in various forms or apparitions, which have no relation to their real form of existence which is beyond man’s comprehension and has different dimensions from those known to us.

Once it is reported that a stranger suddenly entered the mosque where the Founder of Islam was sitting along with his companions. This man approached the assembly, sat respectfully in the front row and started to ask questions regarding the nature of Islam. Having finished his list of questions, he took leave and departed. Those present were amazed because first this man was a complete stranger who must have travelled some distance to reach the mosque. In small townships the knowledge of such visits does not remain a secret and everybody seems to know who has arrived and for what purpose. In his case, the arrival was so sudden that it appeared mysterious. Secondly, there were no marks of a journey on his bearing or his clothes. A fresh looking gentleman, he was of immaculately clean dress. Moreover the manner in which he began to ask questions without any introduction, and his abrupt departure, was extremely unusual to say the least.

Before the companions of the Holy Prophet(sa) could say anything, the Holy Prophet(sa)himself informed them that the person had actually been the angel Gabriel, who had asked the leading questions so that the companions could become acquainted with the facts contained in the answers given. Some companions ran out of the mosque to meet the angel in disguise, as they thought, but there was no trace of him anywhere. No-one in the township admitted to seeing such a man. As this incident is reported in the highly authentic books of tradition, we can safely infer that angels sometimes appear in ordinary human form for the purpose of discharging sundry errands. We find mention of angels in many other traditions, particularly in relation to the battles of Badr and Uhad, but it would be inappropriate perhaps to enter into a lengthy discourse on this issue.

As against the Qur’anic view explained above, almost in every country the commonly held view about angels among followers of various religions is more on the pattern of fairy tales than of them belonging to a celestial form of existence. They are said to have wings like birds or fairies, flapping them about as they fly from place to place. This misconception is perhaps born out of over-much literalising of religious terminology, which is cryptic and has, most often, metaphorical allusions. Thus we also find mention in the Holy Qur’an of wings in relation to angels, which speaks of them as having wings in twos, threes and fours:

The Holy Qur’an has a very special style of elucidating all such passages where there lies a danger of obscurity. It does this with the help of other similar usages. The wings, for instance, are also mentioned in relation to a son’s attitude towards his elderly parents. Building this subject, the Holy Qur’an admonishes the son to lower his wing of mercy over his parents, as they brought him up from the time of his infancy. Wing only means attributes and powers and we believe it is in this sense that wings are attributed to angels, or to persons claiming divine manifestation from among the various religions. For instance, in Gita, Krishna is known to have possessed four arms instead of two. There the extra pair of arms serves the same purpose as the wings found in other divine books.

Angels are responsible for controlling and maintaining the laws of nature. Virus and bacteria are governed, organised and maintained by specific angels, who work in harmony with each other to maintain a perfect balance. Similarly, eco-systems are not accidental or chaotic, but are regulated by the invisible, spiritual beings that we call angels.

The Case of the Fallen Angel

There is another very much misunderstood episode concerning Satan. It is said, and it is believed, that prior to his fall he belonged to the category of angels. The Holy Qur’an rejects this view and presents Satan as possessing a fiery nature, thus belonging to such forms of life as are created from fire, for example the Jinn.

The Books

The following passage is written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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Let us now turn to the third article of faith, which is the belief in the books. Muslims are required to believe not only in the divine scripture revealed to the Holy Founder of Islam, which is called the Qur’an, but it is essential for every Muslim to believe in all such divine revelations as were vouchsafed to other prophets, from wherever and whichever age. It is an essential part of a Muslim’s belief that if anyone professes belief only in the divine origin of the Qur’an and refuses to acknowledge the divine origin of other books, such as the Old Testament and the New Testament etc., his profession of Islam would be invalidated.

This belief resolves some problems but creates others, and needs to be studied at greater length. It provides the only foundation upon which the unity of man can be built on earth, in accordance with his belief in the Unity of God. It removes the root cause responsible for inter-religious disharmony and mistrust. But this belief in the divine origin of all books raises some very difficult questions to answer.

As we study the books that claim to be of divine origin, we find contradictions not only in the peripheral areas of their teachings, but also in the areas of basic and fundamental beliefs. This could not be so had they originated from the same eternal source of light. The case in point can well be illustrated by the fact that many such books contain passages which are understood and interpreted by their followers to lead to the belief in lesser deities sharing divinity with the one Supreme Being. In some books, God is presented as the head of a family of gods, having spouses, sons and daughters. In some other books, saintly human figures are attributed with such superhuman powers as are only befitting to be possessed by God. There are other books in which the Unity of God is stressed so strongly and uncompromisingly as to leave no room for anyone to share God’s attributes in whatsoever capacity. The Qur’an stands out in this respect among all the scriptures of the major world religions.

How does the Qur’an resolve this dilemma? That is the question. According to the Qur’an, it is a universal trend of man to gradually interpolate the divine teachings which were vouchsafed to the founders of their religion. To change the concept of Unity to that of polytheism is a manifestation of the same trend. We can definitely discover evidence of the truth of this claim by tracing the history of changes in the text, or the interpretation of the text, from the time of its first revelation. This is why the Holy Qur’an pointedly draws our attention to the fact that all divine books concurred in their fundamental teachings only at the time of their inception. It is not necessary to go through the laborious exercise of pursuing the history of change, because logically there can be no other conclusion than the one made by the Qur’an. If there is no God other than the one Supreme Being, and if the claims of all religions that their divine books originated from God are to be accepted, then there has to be unanimity among all such books, at least in the fundamentals.

Having said that, one faces another important question regarding the manner in which one can ascertain the original doctrinal teachings common to all religions. One must find a logically acceptable methodology to sift the right from the wrong. The fundamental beliefs from the point of view of the Holy Qur’an are so attuned to human nature that they simply sink into the human hearts by the sheer force of their truth. They are as follows:

This means that all the founders of the religions of the world were categorically told that they must worship the one and only God with all sincerity, dedicating them purely and completely to Him alone. They were also told to perform regular prayers (as institutionalised in their religion), and to spend (in the cause of God) for the needy and the destitute, and for other similar philanthropic purposes. It is hard to find disagreement with this, whichever religion one may belong to.

In this preliminary discourse we do not wish to involve ourselves in a lengthy discussion on the various different modes of worship as prescribed by God and the reasons for their being different. Presently we are focusing our attention on the reasons as to why religions appear to be different both in fundamentals and in the detailed teachings.

In short we can say that the hand of time is relentless, and the concept of decay is inseparable from the concept of time. Everything new must begin to grow old and change. One may look at the ruins of great castles and palaces with wonder, but even the buildings built by the same monarchs and designed by the same architects are no exception to this law. Sometimes they are added upon by later generations and are changed in design so drastically as to lose all resemblance to their original shape. Sometimes they are abandoned and become ruins. According to the Qur’an, the areas of uncompromisable differences in all religions are the handiworks of men belonging to later ages. In the light of this universally acceptable teaching of the Holy Qur’an, Islam seems to have paved the way for the unification of all religions, at least in fundamental principles. Thus it does away with man-made obstacles and barriers created to keep the religions apart as distinctly separate entities.

The reason mentioned above is not the only one responsible for the divergence in teachings observed in various books. Some differences were certainly not man-made, but were required by the dictates of time. As man gradually advanced in various areas of civilisation and culture, science and economy, at different stages of his history he required specific teachings related to that period of time, and a divine book would be revealed for his instruction. These time-related teachings were not universal, but related to specific situations and requirements. In certain ages, man lived a life not very far away from that of the sub-human species of life. His intellectual advancements were limited, his knowledge of the universe narrow. He was not even fully aware of the world that he inhabited. The modes of communication at his disposal were totally inadequate to help him understand the nature and vastness of the earth and the universality of man. Very often his awareness of existence was confined only to small areas of land or the country to which he belonged.

In many divine books revealed in those times, we do not find mention of the existence of the world beyond the limited domain of the people to whom the books were addressed. It does not necessarily mean, as some secular philosophers would have us believe, that this fact offers enough proof that the books in question were man-made rather than of divine origin.

All divine teachings were related to not only the requirements but also the information possessed by the people of the age, otherwise people of the age could have raised objections against the messengers of the time, accusing them of contradicting commonly established facts. This could have presented an insoluble dilemma for the prophets, as they themselves shared the same knowledge as the people. Many interesting examples of the same can be quoted from the Qur’an, where the understanding of nature as known to the people of the time was to be proved false by the men of learning of later ages. Whichever position the Qur’an adopted, it would still remain vulnerable to objections, either by contemporary people or by people of a later age. It is amazing how the Qur’an solves this problem, and in no way can it be criticised by present day philosophers and scientists either.

The following illustration would be of particular interest. A man of this age does not need to be highly educated to know that the earth rotates on its own axis; but if someone had made this statement fourteen hundred years ago and dared to attribute it to God, either he would have been rejected out of hand as being absolutely ignorant, or God would be ridiculed as having no knowledge of things which He professes to have created. The Holy Qur’an being a universal book for all ages could not have avoided the mention of this subject altogether, or the people of later ages, such as ours, would have rightfully blamed it for possessing no knowledge of the universe. Meeting this challenge squarely, the Holy Qur’an speaks of the mountains in the following verse, presenting them as floating or coasting like clouds, while people perceive them to be stationary:

Obviously the mountains would not be floating without the earth moving along with them. But the tense used is that of future (Muzaria) which is common to both the continuous present and future. So the verse may be translated as: ‘The mountains are moving constantly in a coasting motion without making the least effort on their part.’ It can also be translated as, ‘The mountains will move as if they were sailing.’ People of that age might have taken refuge in this second option, but they forgot to take notice of another part of the same verse which says, ‘While you think they are stationary.’ How could the man of any age think the mountains to be stationary if they suddenly started moving? The description of their movement leaves no room anywhere for anyone to be alive on earth and watch quietly the amazing phenomenon mentioned in the verse.

Logically therefore, the only valid translation would be: ‘While you consider the mountains to be stationary, in fact they are constantly in motion.’ There are many other similar examples which can be quoted from the Qur’an, but I have already illustrated them in another address of mine entitled Rationality and Revelation in Relation to Knowledge and Truth. Any reader interested in further study could refer to the same.

We know for certain that during the remote past when the Vedas were revealed for the benefit of the people of India, the Indians had little knowledge of the worlds lying beyond the seas. Hence there is no mention of any country or people outside India, across the natural boundaries of the Himalayas on the one side and the seas on the other. The silence of the Vedas on the subject may be an appropriate and well understood silence on the part of God. It must be made clear that the facts mentioned in the divine books are of two categories. The first category comprises these worldly facts, which can be understood and verified by all human beings regardless of which religion they belong to. These are the facts that we are referring to in the above discussion. As far as facts belonging to the otherworldly things are concerned, any man can make any claim about them, because they lie beyond the human reach of verification.

Despite differences however, the fundamental points of similarities are always traceable if one digs deeply into a study of original books. As an archaeologist can reconstruct the design of the original plan from a study of the ruins, so also it should not be difficult for a keen observer to read the message of Unity even through the veils of fog and mist created by the followers of the religions as they move away from the time of the founding prophets.

We briefly mentioned some differences which were intentionally designed as against those which resulted from the interpolation of man. To illustrate the former, we can refer to a teaching of the Torah which seems to deprive the Jewish people of the option of forgiveness. To a casual observer, from the vantage point of the modern age, it would appear to be a rather ungodly teaching, unbalanced in the favour of vengeance. Yet a closer examination of the requirements of that age would present the teaching in a completely different light. We know that the Children of Israel, under the oppressive and despotic rules of Pharaohs, were deprived of all their fundamental human rights. They were forced to live a life of abasement and slavery, which did not recognise their right to defend themselves and hit back at the oppressor.

Some two centuries of such an abject way of life had virtually robbed them of their upright noble human qualities. They would much rather give up their right to avenge in the name of forgiveness, just another name for utter cowardice. Had they been given the clear option to either take revenge or forgive, few there would be among them who would dare take the former option. As such the teaching of the Torah, though seemingly harsh and over-much one sided, is the most perfect teaching in relation to the requirements of that time. It was a diseased state which was meant to be cured with the bitter pill of this injunction.

About thirteen centuries of practising merciless vengeance had indeed hardened the hearts of the Israelites into those of stone. It was at this juncture of time that the Messiah came, who was himself forgiveness, love and modesty personified. Had God granted the Jews of his time both the options of forgiveness and revenge, they would certainly have opted for revenge without even dreaming of forgiveness. The question arises as to what should be the perfect teaching relevant to the time of Jesus? Forgiveness of course, but without the option of revenge. This is exactly what happened. This illustration makes it amply clear that certain teachings, though apparently contradictory, in fact serve the same purpose and work in unison as far as the designs of God are concerned. The purpose is the healing of the sick which may need different medicines at different times.

The Prophets

The following passage is written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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The fourth fundamental article of faith in Islam is belief in all the prophets. This article is in fact a logical conclusion to the third one. The same philosophy as underlies the belief in all books also necessitates belief in all the prophets. The Holy Qur’an speaks of the many prophets who mostly belong to the Middle Eastern line of prophethood, beginning with Adam(as) up to the time of Muhammad, peace be upon him. But there are exceptions to the rule. There are two things which are specifically mentioned in the Qur’an relating to this issue:

Although the names and short histories of some prophets were revealed to the Holy Founder of Islam, the list is in no way exhaustive. They are just specimen names and there are a large number of prophets who do not find mention in the Qur’an.

In the list of prophets who are specifically mentioned, there are certain names which do not seem to belong to the prophets of Israel. Many commentators therefore are inclined to believe that they are non-Arab prophets who are included in the list just for the sake of representation of the outer world. For instance, Dhul-Kifl is one name in the list of prophets which is unheard of in the Arab or Semitic references. Some scholars seem to have traced this name to Buddha, who was of Kapeel, which was the capital of a small state situated on the border of India and Nepal. Buddha not only belonged to Kapeel, but was many a time referred to as being ‘Of Kapeel’. This is exactly what is meant by the word ‘Dhul-Kifl’. It should be remembered that the consonant ‘p’ is not present in Arabic and the nearest one to it is ‘fa’. Hence, Kapeel transliterated into Arabic becomes Kifl.

Apart from the evidence of the Qur’an, there is one reference which is controversial among the commentators. There is a tradition reported from the Holy Prophet(sa) which speaks of an Indian prophet by name. In his words:

Now anyone acquainted with the history of Indian religions would immediately connect this description to Lord Krishna, who is invariably described in the Hindu literature as being dark of complexion. Also, the title Kanhaya is added to his name Krishna. Kanhaya contains the same consonants K, N, H as does the name Kahan—in no way an insignificant similarity. But whether any non-Arab prophet was mentioned by name or not is only an academic discussion. There is no denying the fact that the Holy Qur’an makes it incumbent on every Muslim not only to believe in all the prophets, but it also clearly informs us that in every region of the world and in every age, God did raise messengers and prophets.

This belief in principle in the truth of the founding prophets and also the minor prophets of other religions is a unique declaration of the Qur’an, absent in all other divine books. It throws light on the universality of creation as well as on the universality of Islam itself. If the Qur’anic claim that the teachings of the Qur’an are for the entire world is true, then it has to recognise the truth of all prophets. Otherwise the followers of so many different religions will not find any connecting bridge between themselves and Islam.

The recognition of the truth of all books and the recognition of the truth of all prophets is a revolutionary declaration which has many benefits for man as a whole. Among other things, it powerfully paves the way for inter-religious peace and harmony. How can one be at peace with the followers of other religions if one considers them to be impostors and if one monopolises the truth only for the religious divines of one’s own faith?

It is a universal observation that the followers of various religions tend to know very little about the doctrinal aspects of their own religions. It is the ordained priesthood or other leaders who seem to be the custodians of religious knowledge, and it is to them that the common people turn when they stand in need of religious guidance. Such people are far more sensitive to the question of the honour of their prophets and divines than they are even on the issue of God and His honour.

Apart from Islam, none of the divine books of religions bear testimony to the truth of the founders of other religions. The absence of any recognition of the truth of prophets other than their own has insulated religions from one another, each one claiming to monopolise truth, each viewing the prophets of other religions as impostors. Although in every day life we do not find this expressed in such strong terms, the hard reality remains that if the followers of any religion take their beliefs seriously they have to consider all other religions to be false, even at their sources. It is impossible to conceive a Christian, a true believer in Christianity as he understands it today, who would testify to the truth of Buddha, Krishna and Zoroaster. Particularly, the Christians’ stance against the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam is exactly the one mentioned above; they have to denounce him as an impostor, otherwise the only alternative for them is to become Muslims. The Orientalists discussing this subject have always maintained this position very clearly, many among them having gone to the extent of showing undisguised hostility towards the Founder of Islam on the premise that he had to be false. The same applies to other religions alike.

Although in every day life we do not come across such glaring examples of discourtesy and insult, but whether one keeps one’s views to oneself or expresses them openly, the barrier still remains. It is evident from this that the followers of all religions have compartmentalised themselves against all others, and the barrier between truth and falsehood, right or wrong does succeed in preventing the religious harmony so much needed by man today.

Of course, there are very civilised and educated Christians in the world, who out of courtesy would not offend the sensibilities of Muslims by denouncing the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam as an impostor. However the Christians, in accordance with their beliefs, have no option but to reject the truth of the Founder of Islam. In the case of a Muslim however, it is a completely different story. When he speaks of Jesus Christ(as) or Moses(as) or Krishna or Buddha with veneration and love, he does so because he has no other option. It is a part of the fundamental article of his faith to extend not just a human courtesy, but to genuinely believe in their truth and honour. In the light of this, this article of faith appears to hold an importance of global scale. It establishes inter-religious peace and harmony and genuinely creates an atmosphere of mutual trust and love. Like the Unity of God it holds the intrinsic quality of being irreplaceable—there is no alternative.

The Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, has summarised the Islamic belief in other prophets as follows:

“One of the principles which forms the basis of my belief refers to the established religions of the world. These religions have met with wide acceptance in various regions of the earth. They have acquired a measure of age, and have reached a stage of maturity. God has informed me that none of these religions were false at their source and none of the prophets impostors. 2

This is a beautiful principle, which promotes peace and harmony, and which lays the foundation for reconciliation, and which helps the moral condition of man. All prophets that have appeared in the world, regardless of whether they dwelt in India or Persia or China, or in some other country, we believe in the truth of them, one and all.” 3

With the establishment of this fact that there had to be prophets all over the world in all ages who originated from God, the stage seems to be set for a universal prophet. The acceptance of a universal prophet requires a reciprocity. When you expect others to believe in someone you consider to be true, it would certainly help if you bear witness to the truth of such holy people in whom the other party has unshakeable faith.

Islam therefore lays down the foundation for the universality of a single prophet. As such the claim of the Qur’an that the Holy Prophet(sa) was raised not only for Arabia but for the whole of mankind, is founded on a sound philosophy. We find mention in every religion of a utopian future or golden age when all mankind would be brought under the one flag. But there does not seem to be any foundation laid for the unification of man in his beliefs and dogmas. It was for the first time in the history of religion that Islam paved the way for a universal religion by the declaration that all the people of the world, at different times, were blessed with the advent of divine messengers.

According to the Holy Qur’an, the institution of prophethood is universal and timeless. There are two terms used to indicate the same office, each with slightly different connotations. The term An-Nabi has the connotation of prophecy. Those whom God chooses to represent Him are implanted with the knowledge of certain important events regarding the future. They are also told of things past which were unknown to the people, and his knowledge of them stands as a sign of his being informed by an All-Knowing Being. The prophecy as such establishes the truth of the prophets so that people may submit to them and accept their message.

The second term used in connection with prophets, is Al-Rasool or Messenger. This refers to such contents of the prophet’s revelation as deal with important messages to be delivered to mankind on God’s behalf. Those messages could be speaking of a new code of law, or they could simply be admonishing people for their past lapses in reference to previous revealed laws. Both these functions unite in a single person, and as such all prophets can be termed as messengers and all messengers as prophets.

According to Islam, all prophets are human beings and none bear superhuman characteristics. Wherever some miracles are attributed to prophets, who are understood to indicate their superhuman character, the categorical and clear statements of the Qur’an reject such a notion. Raising of the dead is one of such miracles attributed to certain prophets. Although similar descriptions are found in many divine scriptures or religious books, according to the Qur’an they are not meant to be taken literally, but have a metaphorical connotation. For instance, it is attributed to Jesus(as) that he raised the dead into a new life. But the Holy Qur’an speaks of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) in the same terms, with the same words being applied to his miracle of spiritual revival. Similar is the case of creating birds out of clay and causing them to fly in the name of God. These birds are only human beings who are bestowed with the faculty of spiritual flight, as against the earthly people.

No prophet is granted an exceptionally long term of life which makes him distinctly different and above the brotherhood of prophets to which he belongs. Nor is any prophet mentioned as having risen bodily to remote recesses of the universe. Wherever there is such mention, it is spiritual ascent which is meant, not bodily ascent, which the Qur’an categorically declares is against the character of prophets. When the Holy Founder of Islam was required by the People of the Book to physically ascend to heaven and bring back a book, the answer which God taught him was simply this:

This answer rejects all claims about other prophets who are understood to have ascended physically to heaven. The argument implied in this answer is that no human being and no prophet can rise bodily to heaven, otherwise the Prophet Muhammad(sa) could also have repeated the same miracle. The emphasis on the human characteristics of prophets and their human limitations is one of the most beautiful features of fundamental Islamic teachings. Prophets rise above their fellow human beings not because they were gifted with superhuman qualities, but only because they gave a better account of the qualities that they had been gifted with. They remained human despite having ascended to great spiritual heights, and their conduct as such is inimitable by other human beings.

On the issue of continuity of prophecy, Islam categorically declares the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam to be the last of the law-bearing prophets and the Qur’an to be the last divine book of law, perfected and protected till the end of time. Obviously a book which is perfect and also protected from interpolation transcends alteration. No change is warranted on both counts. As long as a book is perfect and protected from human interpolation, no change is justified.

As far as prophecy other than law-bearing prophecy is concerned, the possibility of its continuity is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an. Again there are clear prophecies about such divine reformers as would be completely subordinate to the Holy Founder of Islam and the Holy Book—the Qur’an. The following verse of Surah Al-Nisa leaves no ambiguity about this:

In short, Islam is declared in the Qur’an to be the last perfected religion for the benefit of mankind, after which no new teaching would be revealed to annul the teachings of Islam, nor would a new independent prophet be born outside the domain of Islam; any new prophet would be completely subordinate to the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa).

The prophets always came to deliver a message. That message was not confined to the areas of beliefs, but also covered the areas of practices and implementation of the beliefs. The teachings are divided into two large categories:

  • How to improve one’s relationship with God.
  • How to conduct oneself in relation to one’s fellow human beings.

These two categories in fact cover all aspects of religious laws. We cannot enter into a lengthy discussion of how this task is carried out to perfection in Islam, but perhaps it would be appropriate to illustrate a few important features of this teaching of universal character.

References:
  1. “Taarikh-i-Hamdaan Dailami” Baab-ul-Kaaf. See Pocket book p: 854 by Malik Abdur Rehman Khadim 6th edition Published in 1952.
  2. Translated from the original Urdu ‘Tohfa Qaisariya’ p. 256, Roohani Khazain (Spiritual Treasures), Vol 12, Unwin Brothers, Gresham Press, Old Woking, Surrey, 1984.
  3. Translated from the original Urdu ‘Tohfa Qaisariya’ p 259, Roohani Khazain (Spiritual Treasures), Vol 12, Unwin Brothers, Gresham Press, Old Woking, Surrey, 1984.

Predestination and Free Will

The following passage is written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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The issue of destiny is a very complicated one, which has been debated through the ages by philosophers and divines alike. In almost every religion there is some reference to the nature of destiny.

We can divide those who believe in destiny into two major categories. Those with the commonly held blind belief in destiny portray it as predetermination by God of everything big and small. This view is popular with some cryptic sects of Sufis (mystics), who live a life apart from the common people. They claim that man has no control over anything. Everything is predetermined. As such all that happens is the unfolding of the grand plan of destiny, known only to God. This is a very problematic concept of the plan of things and inevitably leads to the question of crime and punishment, penalty and reward. If a man has no choice, then there should be neither punishment nor reward for his actions.

The other view is that of free choice, with destiny playing practically no role in whatever man decides and executes.

During the discussion on destiny, another important philosophical issue finds its way into the debate adding further complications, and that is the question of pre-cognition. What does the pre-knowledge of God have to do with the things to come? That is the question, the answer to which has been rather poorly handled by both parties in the debate. We do not propose to enter into a lengthy review of the comparative merits of the arguments of the believers and unbelievers of destiny, but would only attempt to portray the Islamic viewpoint.

Destiny has many categories, each playing a distinct role in their respective spheres of operation, working simultaneously. The laws of nature reign supreme and none is above the influence of them. This is the general plan of things which can be referred to as the widest concept of destiny. Whoever follows the laws of nature with a profound understanding of them will gain some advantage over others who do not. Such people are always destined to benefit and to shape a better life for themselves. But none of them is predestined to belong to any specific grouping in relation to their being on the right or wrong side of the laws of nature.

There was a time in the era just preceding the Renaissance in Europe, when the Muslim world of the orient was far more advanced in its understanding of the laws of nature. The Muslims consequently were in a position to draw benefits attendant upon this knowledge. When, later on, this unprejudiced and open minded study of nature shifted to the West, it ushered in a new day of light of knowledge for the West while the East began to plunge into a long, dark night of wishful thinking, superstition and dreaming. This is destiny of course, but of a different type. The only law which is predetermined in relation to this destiny is the unchangeable command that whoever studies nature without prejudices, and permits himself to be led to wherever the laws of nature would lead him, he would tread the path of eternal progress. This is the general and all-pervasive category of destiny which transcends everything, except the laws of destiny relating to religion.

Before taking up the discussion of destiny in application to religion, we should further explore some areas of this universal destiny of the laws of nature. In their larger global applications, they exhibit some features of predetermination but of a different type than commonly understood. In this sense we are speaking of such seasonal or periodic changes in atmospheric balances which represent a very complicated eco-system in which even distant events such as sun spots play a role. Similarly, the meteoric invasions of planets bring about certain changes, which are reflected upon the earth through corresponding variations in weathers, climates etc. These larger influences, together with periodic alterations in climates (which are caused by various factors many of which are as yet undetermined), sometimes bring about subtle changes in the growth patterns of vegetative and animal life on earth. Again there are factors responsible for droughts or shifting of seasons from one part of the earth to another. Ice-ages and global warming, in alternation, are but some consequences of various cosmic influences. However, these larger influences do not specifically affect an individual’s life on earth, but in the final analysis, as individuals are all members of the Homo-Sapiens family, they are affected to a degree.

There is no evidence to indicate that each man’s life is pre-ordained, and that he has no choice or option in choosing between good and bad, right and wrong. The Holy Qur’an categorically rejects the concept of compulsion, and clearly states that every human being is free to choose between good and evil:

And:

And again:

However, in relation to religion, there are some spheres of destiny which are predetermined and unchangeable. They are referred to in the Holy Qur’an as the Sunnah of God. One such Sunnah is the destiny that God’s messengers will always be victorious, whether they are accepted or not. If they are rejected, it is the opponents whose designs are frustrated. The prophets, their messages and mission must always prevail, regardless of how powerful their enemies may be a few examples in the living history of man are the confrontations between Moses(as) and Pharoah, between Jesus(as) and his opponents, and between Muhammad(sa)and his adversaries. The triumph of religion is what remains as the legacy of past struggles between prophets and their adversaries. Abraham(as) and his faith, and those who uphold him and his message, predominate the world. Moses(as) and those who revere him, Jesus(as) and his message, and the Prophet Muhammad(sa) and what he stood for, almost dominate the entire world. But none is found today who uphold the cause and values of their opponents. This destiny does not come into play in other confrontations between men and men. The general rule there is that the strong will annihilate the weak. In religious destiny, it is the converse which becomes an inviolable principle.

Although the laws of nature run a smooth course and one does not normally find exceptions to the general rules, but according to the plan of things inferred from various verses of the Qur’an, the laws of nature known to us belong to many categories and spheres. They do not clash with each other within their spheres, but when they stand at cross-purpose with other laws, the laws which possess greater force always prevail over the weaker ones. Even a law of the widest and farthest influence can be defeated within a small sphere by a more powerful one operating against it. Thermodynamic and electromagnetic laws in opposition to the laws of gravitation can win in limited areas of influence. However, the gravitational law is much wider in its influence, and more far-reaching. As man’s understanding of nature develops from age to age, things which would have been rejected as impossible are becoming conceivable and matters of commonplace observation.

In view of this introduction, according to Islam, if God decides to favour a special servant of His with a special manifestation of some hidden laws, such manifestations are regarded by the onlookers as miracles and supernatural events. But these things happen in accordance with the laws of nature, which are subtly controlled to bring about an amazing effect. Here, destiny plays a specific role in the life of a special servant of God.

Similarly, destiny can also be understood in relation to the genetic, social, economic or educational background of the individual, who seems to be a helpless product of circumstances. This helplessness of the individual makes his destiny, over which he has no control. Thus it is said that a rich man’s child is born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

The circumstances in which a person is born, the society in which he is reared, the day-to-day game of chance which plays a role in everybody’s life, the strikes of so-called luck in favour or against one, the accidents which one may escape or fall prey to, are all areas where the individual has very little choice. Yet it may not be assumed that he was particularly targeted for such events or accidents which play an important role in the making or unmaking of his life.

Individuals who are born in homes riddled with poverty are far more likely to fall prey to petty or even serious crimes. Poverty is the most compulsive force of all factors which create and promote crime. If this is understood to be destiny, then it will cast a grave reflection on the Creator. So, first of all it should be clearly understood that destiny is only part of a grand scheme of things which does not issue particular edicts against people in particular families. In a larger economic plan, there are bound to be more fortunate and less fortunate people with relative advantages and disadvantages. It is wrong to say that they were individually stamped by a maker of destiny, even before their births, to be born under certain specific circumstances. Yet there are other questions to be answered. How would they be treated in relation to the crimes committed by them as against those who are born in comparatively healthier circumstances, and who have very few, if any, background factors to egg them onto crime? If the crime is the same, shall they be treated alike? The Holy Qur’an answers this intricate question in the following verse:

This means that background factors, social and other, that surround a person, will certainly be taken into account, and he will be judged accordingly. In the sight of Allah, it is not just the crime itself which is mechanically punished, but all factors which go into the making of the crime are also brought into consideration, with the ultimate result that justice will be done. The fortunate and the unfortunate will not be judged with equal severity and, most certainly, license will be given to the environment and the background of a person who commits crime. Likewise, acts of goodness will be rewarded far more in the case of a man whose circumstances are likely to discourage him from doing good, than a man whose environment is one in which acts of goodness are taken for granted.

Thus the issue of destiny is highly complicated, but as the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the All-Knowing, All-Beneficent, All-Powerful and All-Wise God, in the final analysis, the dictates of justice will indeed prevail.

There are certain areas in which man is free to exercise his will, where he can choose between good or bad, right or wrong, and for which he will be held responsible. On the other hand, there are areas in which man has little choice of his own, and appears to be a pawn in the hand of the mover. The general plan of things in nature, which covers and controls the destinies of nations and peoples, is one such area. The circumstances of a wider application make an individual of society completely helpless; he has no choice but to move along like a straw being carried by the waves of a river in spate.

The subject of destiny is a very complicated and vast one and requires a separate and fuller treatment. So, with these few hints, we would like to bring this discussion to an end.

Pillars of Faith

Profession of God’s Unity

The Kalima Shahada, or the Testimonial Declaration, is a religious credo that enunciates God’s Unity. It is the outward profession to be made if one wants to become a Muslim, and the inward principle by which a Muslim must live their life. Though the essence of the Unity of God has been covered in the page discussing the 1st Article of Faith, we repeat that material here for the reader’s convenience, again taken from the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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This seems to be a rather simple and elementary concept. It should not be difficult for anybody to understand the oneness of God, and there the matter seems to rest. But in fact there is far more to this than meets the eye. When one examines the concept of Unity in depth, the entire world of religion seems to revolve around this pivotal point. This belief influences man’s life in all its aspects. It also implies the negation of all else but God. So belief in the oneness of God is not the end-all of belief, but all other beliefs spring from this fountain-head of eternal truth. This also delivers a message of liberation from all other yokes and releases man from all obligations except such as is born out of his submission to God.

This article has been further elucidated from different angles, both in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam. For instance, the declaration ‘La houl wala quat illa Billah’ (There is no all-encompassing power except Allah) opens up new windows for a deeper and wider understanding of Unity. It negates all fears other than the fear of God. The second part of the same brings to the focus of attention another very important aspect of Unity, i.e. that the power to achieve good is solely dependent on God and that He is Master of all sources of strength and energy. Hence while the first part relates to the negative aspects of power, the second part relates to the positive.

In application to human actions, intentions and motivations etc., these two forces are all-encompassing. Man’s intentions and his subsequent actions are always guided and controlled either by fear or hope and there is no exception to this rule. Those who do good deeds do so out of fear and hope, and those who indulge in vices are motivated by the same. The fears of non-believers belong to the negative ungodly category, and they shape their lives in accordance with these worldly fears. Sometimes they are afraid of earning the displeasure of monarchs and authorities, sometimes they are afraid of society in general or of despots and bullies. Again, sometimes they act evilly out of a fear of poverty and loss etc. So, in a world full of vices, a large part of human actions can be explained with reference to these fears.

The belief in Unity dispels these fears altogether and brings to one’s mind the importance of the fear of God, which means that one must not be afraid of the displeasure of the ungodly, but should always endeavour to avoid displeasing God and shape one’s life according to that fear alone. In the positive sense, the same applies to all human motivations and consequent actions. Man always lives by some motive to please someone, himself being no exception. In fact, more often than not, he works to please himself even at the cost of those who are otherwise dear to him.

A more exaggerated form of this attitude renders man a worshipper of his own ego. To achieve his purpose, man has to please those on whom his pleasures depend. As such, again he has to constantly strive to win the favours of monarchs, authorities etc. What we are describing is the worst form of slavery. The hopes and fears of a slave are completely dependent on the whims, pleasures and displeasures of his master. But a godless man has not one master alone. Every other human being in relation to his personal interests can play as God to him. If you analyse the ultimate cause of social, moral or political evils, it is such human worship which destroys the peace of man’s mind, and society as a whole begins to deteriorate endlessly.

From this point of view, when you cast another glance at the fundamental declaration, that ‘there is no God but Allah, the One and Only’, all these fears and hopes relating to objects other than God are dispelled, as if by the waving of a magic wand. In other words, by choosing one master alone you are liberated from slavery to all others. To be a slave of such others as are themselves slaves to numberless gods is a poor bargain indeed! But that is not all. The gods that such people worship are many a time products of their own imagination, which can do them neither good nor harm. Most men, on the other hand, worship nothing but mortals like themselves, their own egos being supreme among them all. Hence each of them bows to numberless egotistic gods, their interests being at clash with each other, creating a situation which is the ultimate of chaos.

The Islamic concept of Unity also inculcates in man the realisation of the oneness of the human species, and does away with all such barriers as divide man into racial, ethnic and colour denominations. This gives birth to the universal concept of equality in Islam, which is its distinctive feature. Hence from the vantage point of God, all human beings, wherever and in whichever age they were born, stand equal in His sight. As will be demonstrated shortly, it is this fundamental which gives rise to all other fundamental beliefs and doctrines in Islam. As briefly mentioned before, Islam’s doctrine of Unity is absolute and unsplittable; it has no room for adding to the Godhead in any form. He has neither a father nor a mother, nor has He a spouse. For Him to give birth to sons and daughters is inconceivable.

Another important aspect of Unity of God as presented by the Qur’an relates to absolute harmony in His creation . It is this harmony concept which appealed so strongly to Einstein. He was compelled to pay tribute to the perfect symmetry in nature, which according to him required the oneness of creator. He was a scientist, and his perception of that harmony was limited to the material universe. But the Holy Qur’an speaks of the harmony in creation in all its possible applications. The Holy Qur’an claims that within nature, as created by God, and within the divine books revealed by God, there is no disharmony; that there is complete concurrence between one area of God’s creation and another, and between one book and the other.

It goes further to declare that there is perfect consistency between the Word of God and the Act of God and that there can be no contradiction between nature and the divine word as revealed to His prophets. This subject is beautifully expressed in the first five verses of Surah Al-Mulk, and is also taken up in many other verses of the Qur’an from various angles.

Coming to individuals, the belief in Unity plays a very important role in the education and upbringing of humans. It requires a consistency between man’s views and actions, a consistency between his relationship with God and his fellow beings, thus binding creation in a single chain of unbreakable unity. This can be better understood by bringing to focus the practices of some so-called religious people, who preach hatred for one section of human society against another in the name of the one and only God. The principle of Unity of God is at variance with this practice and as such does not permit people to create divisions between God and His creation and within the creation of God.

The Prayer

The following article was written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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Worship is common to all religions. What differs is only the manner and style of worship. That which is unique in Islamic mode of worship is that it contains features from the mode of prayers found in other religions. Some people pray to God in a standing posture and some in a sitting posture. In some religions people remember God by kneeling to Him, while others bow down to Him. Some stand before Him with folded arms and others with arms hanging at their sides. In short there is no single mode of worship common to all religions as a whole. It is fascinating however to note that Islam instructs its followers concerning the manner of prayer so comprehensively that all the postures of worship found in other religions are symbolically represented in the Muslim prayer. Another step forward in the direction of ushering in an era of universal religion, it seems.

The institution of Islamic prayer is a most highly developed system, covering every human requirement. It should be remembered at the outset that the purpose of worship is not just bowing to a Superior Being and paying homage to His greatness, as if God created man only for satiating His egotistic desire of being praised. All the purposes mentioned in relation to the philosophy of worship and the manner in which a Muslim is required to conduct his prayer, makes it manifestly clear that the benefit of prayer is drawn by the worshipper himself and in no way can it be taken as a favour to God. The Holy Qur’an declares that God does not stand in need of men’s praises. He is so great in His nobility and so sublime in His character that the praises of His creatures do not add anything to His magnanimity and majesty. The Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam once mentioned that if the entire mankind had turned away from God and committed the worst possible sins, one and all, they would not diminish His universal grandeur even as much as when someone dips a sharp needle into a vast ocean; the water one finds adhered to the surface of the needle would be far more than the sins of the entire mankind could take away from the glory of God.

So, worship in the Holy Qur’an is only prescribed for the sake of the worshipper himself. It is a vast subject and we can only illustrate a few points in relation to this as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

Remembrance of God and pondering over His attributes during the prayer helps man in refining his spirit, bringing it more into harmony with the nature of God. This is central to the Islamic prayer. Man was made in the image of his creator and he must ever strive to gain closeness to Him. This is a lesson in nobility which is ultimate. Those who train themselves to think like God and to act like Him within the limitations of the human sphere, constantly improve in their relation to all other human beings and even other forms of life.

In human terms it can be better understood with respect to a mother’s attitude towards her children. For the one who truly gains nearness to a mother, all that is dear to the mother will naturally become dear to him as well. Acquiring the attitude of the creator is like acquiring the attitude of an artist to his works of art. It is impossible for one to be near God and distance himself from His creation. Again, the term used for worship in the Qur’an is derived from a word which is so significant and different from terms used in other religions. Ain, Be, Dael (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘D’) are the three root letters which have the basic meaning of slavery. Like a slave who loses everything to his master and follows him in all respects, the worshipper in Islam must do the same in his relation to God. The infinitive used for worship has the connotation of following in the footsteps of someone. That is the ultimate in the imitation of God’s attributes. The Qur’an also says:

This verse has both positive and negative connotations, both highly essential for cultivating ideal human conduct. Thus in its negative connotation, it helps the worshipper by liberating him from sins of all types. In its positive connotation it educates man, refines his character and cultivates his qualities to such sublimity as to make him worthy of communion with God.

Another area which is highly important in this regard is the role that worship plays in developing one’s soul. According to Islam, each human soul in relation to the carnal human body can be likened unto a child in the uterus of the mother. To give birth to a healthy child requires so many influences that are constantly transferred from the mother to the embryo and the child at a later stage. If the mother’s influences on the embryo are unhealthy, the child is born as congenitally ill; if they are healthy then the child is born enjoying perfect health. Of all the influences that work towards the making and modification of the human soul, prayer is the most important single factor.

The institution of Islamic prayer is rich in so many profound lessons as are not found even fractionally in other religions. Islam admonishes both congregational and individual prayer. The congregational prayers are held in a manner which is amazingly well organised and meaningful.

There is one leader who leads the congregation in all such prayers. That leader is not an ordained priest; anyone whom the people consider worthy of this task is chosen as the Imam. The assembly is admonished to be arrayed behind the Imam in perfectly straight lines, each worshipper standing close to the other, shoulder to shoulder, with no distance between any two worshippers. They follow the Imam perfectly in everything that he does. As he bows they bow, as he stands they stand. As he prostrates they prostrate. Even if the Imam commits a mistake and does not condone it even after a reminder, all followers must repeat the same. To question the Imam during the prayer is not permitted. All face the same direction without exception, facing the first house of worship ever built for the benefit of mankind. No-one is permitted to reserve any special place behind the Imam. In this regard the rich and poor are treated with absolute equality, so also the old and the young. Whoever reaches the mosque ahead of others has the prior option to sit wherever he pleases. None has the right to remove others from the place that they occupy, except for reasons of security etc., in which case it becomes an administrative measure. Thus the Islamic system of prayer is rich not only in spiritual instruction but also in communal and organisational instruction.

All mosques are frequented five times a day, a task which appears to be over-much demanding to a casual observer. This aspect should be further elaborated to build a more comprehensive picture of the role of congregational prayers in the Muslims’ way of life. Of course in an ideal Muslim society, where mosques are provided within reach of almost every citizen, the five time congregational prayer becomes a routine way of all Muslims’ life. The Midday Prayer, which ordinarily is more problematic, is performed in Muslim societies during the midday break from work. Thus it is not only a lunch break, but is slightly extended to accommodate the performance of prayer as well. The next prayer after the midday prayer is the Afternoon Prayer, which is performed almost immediately after return from an ordinary day’s work. Then no prayer is permitted until after sunset. The time between the two is spent in outdoor activities like sports, shopping, walks, visits to friends and relatives etc. It is a period of relaxation in which prayers are practically forbidden, except for the quiet remembrance of God which becomes a constant feature with some believers. At sunset, the night of the believer begins with the Sunset Prayer, after which there is again a time for relaxation, dining, and so on. The night is capped before retirement with the last prayer which is called Isha. It is discouraged to stay awake after Isha in wasteful occupations of gossip and vain talk etc.

The Muslims are encouraged to acquire a habit of early to bed and early to rise. The day, next morning, begins routinely in the small hours before dawn. The prayer which is performed at the end of the night is called Tahajjud. It is not obligatory, but is a very highly emphasised optional prayer. The dawn ushers in the time for Morning Prayer, which is called Al-Fajar. Optional prayers are not recommended between Fajar and sunrise, for obvious reasons. Then till Zuhar,the midday prayer, only two optional prayers are mentioned; otherwise the pre-Zuhar period is expected to be spent in normal day to day activities.

Looking at the institution of prayer in Islam from another angle, it is intriguing to note how well organised, disciplined and comprehensive it is. There are certain prayers of congregation in which recitation of the Qur’an is done in a loud, audible voice, in a semi-singing tone, which does not exactly conform to the concept of singing, but which has a rhythmical tone that is deeply penetrating. The Holy Prophet(sa) also advised that there should be a shadow of sadness in the tone in which the Qur’an is recited; this makes it more touching, with the meaning of the verses sinking deeper into the recesses of the heart. In some prayers, particularly the two afternoon prayers, there is no loud chanting; this goes well with the general mood of the time. Even the birds cease to sing during the early parts of the afternoon and there is a general air of silence covering the hubbub of normal work. The Morning Prayer, the prayer after sunset and the prayer after the fall of night all include periods where chanting of verses is the routine practice.

The prayer can be further divided into two categories. As against congregational prayers, individual prayers are also highly emphasised. In congregational prayers, society pays homage to God collectively and openly. In individual prayers, emphasis is laid on privacy and there should be no effort to display such prayers to anyone. Similarly the late night prayer is performed in perfect privacy. Members of the same house try to find their own niches and even husband and wife try to say their prayers separately, so that communion with God becomes a highly personal affair.

It has been observed that the institution of the five time congregational prayer has worked very well, for over fourteen hundred years or so, for the protection and preservation of this holy institution. The mosques have been the mainstay in keeping this noble institution alive. They also serve as education centres for young and old and throughout history they have played the most prominent role in religious teachings and instruction.

The places of worship in Islam, whether congregational or private, are kept meticulously clean. Everyone is expected to take his shoes off before entering such places. Although in every prayer the worshipper has to touch the floor with his forehead, sometimes briefly and sometimes for longer periods, it is surprising that no skin diseases have been transferred from forehead to forehead in the Muslim society. Some may attribute this to the high standard of cleanliness and some to the blessings of God, but this is a well observed fact.

As far as the contents of the prayer go, they are of two types:

A formal routine recitation of verses of the Qur’an and other prayers which are done essentially in the language of the Qur’an, which is Arabic. All worshippers are expected to know the meaning of what they are reciting, otherwise they will deprive themselves of the immense benefit which they may draw from the meaningful recitation. It will make this discussion too lengthy if we were to go into the details of the contents, but such readers as are interested in further study can always consult the relevant literature.

To the second category belong the individual prayers in one’s own language in which one is free to beg as he pleases. This second category is controversial in the sense that many a school of jurisprudence disallow such practices and insist on the recitation of only the prescribed form, irrespective of whether the worshipper understands that or not. However, they do appreciate the need for private and personal prayers, so they suggest praying in one’s own language after the formal prayer has ended and not during its course. We, the Ahmadi Muslims, recommend and practice the former option of praying to God in one’s own language as one pleases during the formal prayer.

As we have amply demonstrated above, the institution of Islamic prayer is a highly developed one, where the individual is required to pray five times a day, both individually and in congregation with others. Islamic prayer thus plays an important role in the life of a Muslim and in the spiritual and moral upbringing of the individual.

Fasting

The following article was written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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Fasting is another form of worship found universally in the world religions. Although there are vast differences regarding the mode of fasting and the conditions applied to it, the central idea of fasting is present everywhere. Where it is not mentioned clearly, it is likely that it may have either been discontinued or have petered out through gradual decay in practice. The case of Buddha is an interesting example. He started his quest for truth with a severe form of fasting, but later on it is said that he abandoned this practice because it had adversely affected his health. In view of this one can understand why he discontinued, but this does not in any way indicate that he had ceased to believe in fasting. Perhaps that is why some Buddhists, here and there, still observe some form of fasting.

Fasting in Islam is a highly developed institution, and needs to be studied in depth. There are two types of injunctions with regards to fasting. One relates to obligatory fasting and the other to optional. Obligatory fasting is further divided into two categories:

1. Fasting During Ramadan

There is one full month in every year in which fasting is prescribed for Muslims all over the world. As the month is a lunar month, so it keeps changing around the year in relation to the solar months. This creates a universal balance for the worshippers. Sometimes the fasting in winter months is easy as far as the days go, in comparison to the long winter nights, while during the summer months the days become long and exacting. As the lunar months keep rotating around the year, so Muslims in all parts of the world have some periods of easy fasting and some of arduous fasting.

Fasting in Islam begins everywhere at the first appearance of dawn and ends with sunset. During this period one is expected to abstain from all food and drink completely. It is not just physical hunger and thirst that constitute the Muslim fast, but the nights prior to the beginning of the fast acquire a far more important character and play a central role in the institution of fasting. The Muslims wake up many hours before dawn for individual prayer and the remembrance of God. Also the Holy Qur’an is recited in every Muslim house much more than in ordinary days. A greater part of the night is thus spent in spiritual exercises which make up the very essence of fasting.

During the day, apart from restraining from food and water, all Muslims are particularly exhorted to refrain from vain talk, quarrels and fights, or from any such occupation as is below the dignity of a true believer. No indulgence in carnal pleasure is allowed; even husband and wife during the day lead separate lives, except for the formal human relationship common to all people.

In Islam, alms-giving and care for the destitute is so highly emphasised that it becomes part of a Muslim’s daily life. However when it comes to Ramadhan, the month of fasting, Muslims are required to redouble their efforts in this field. It is reported of the Holy Prophet(sa) that spending in the cause of the poor was a routine daily practice with him which has been likened unto a breeze, never ceasing to bring comfort and solace to the needy. However during Ramadhan, the reporters of the Ahadith, the sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa) remind us that the breeze seemed to pick up speed and blow like strong winds. Alms-giving and care for the destitute are so highly emphasised that in no period during the year do Muslims engage in such philanthropic purposes as they do during the month of Ramadhan.

2. Fasting at other times of the Year

Other obligatory fasting is most often related to the condoning of sins by God. This also includes violation of the obligatory fasts. The optional fasting is so well promoted that it becomes a part of the righteous Muslim’s way of life. Although a majority of Muslims do not go beyond the month of obligatory fasting, some keep fasts now and then particularly when in trouble. As it is expected that the prayers offered in fasting are more productive, some people keep extra fasts to ward off their problems, but some do it only for the sake of winning Allah’s special favours. There is no limit to this, except that the Founder of Islam strongly discouraged those who had vowed to fast continuously for their whole life. When the Holy Prophet(sa) came to learn of one such case, he disapproved of the practice and censured the man for attempting to achieve liberation as if by forcing his will upon God. He told the person concerned that, ‘By putting yourself to trouble or discomfort, not only will you be unable to please God, but you may even earn His displeasure.’ He pointed out that over emphasis on austerity is likely to make one negligent towards one’s wife and children, kith and kin, friends etc.

The Holy Prophet(sa) reminded him specifically of his responsibilities in the area of human relationship; ‘Do your duty to God as well as to the creation of God equitably’ was the advice. To some, after their insistent petulant begging, he permitted optional fasts only in the style of David(as), peace be upon him. The Holy Founder of Islam told them that it was the practice of David to fast one day and abstain from doing so the next. Throughout his life, after he made this vow, he kept the fast on alternate days. So the Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘I can only permit you that much and no more.’

The institution of fasting is extremely important because it cultivates the believer in almost every area of his spiritual life. Among other things, he learns through personal experience about what hunger, poverty, loneliness and discomforts mean to the less fortunate sections of society. Abstention from even such practices during the month of Ramadhan as are permissible in everyday life plays a constructive role in refining the human character.

Hajj – The Pilgrimage

The following article was written by the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, in his much-lauded book, An Elementary Study of Islam.

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Another example which demonstrates the universality of Islamic injunctions regarding the practice of religion is the instance of Hajj, the pilgrimage. Once again one finds the institution of pilgrimage in all religions of the world, but the sites for pilgrimage are scattered at different places in one or more countries. One does not find a single central place which all the followers of a religion must visit at least once in their lifetime. Amazingly in Islam we find exactly such a place in Mecca, where Muslims from all over the world are expected to gather and spend about ten days entirely dedicated to the memory of God. The pilgrims come from all countries, all nations, and all races and in all ages. Men, women and children, they all gather once a year for a fantastic rally which sometimes runs into the millions. This grand display of universality is seen nowhere else in any other religion. Hence all these fingers, which were raised in different areas of Islamic teaching, point to the same message of unification of man on earth under the Unity of God.

The institution of pilgrimage can be traced back to the time of Abraham(as), peace be upon him. But there are very clear statements in the Qur’an describing it as an ancient institution, starting from times immemorial when the first House of God was built in Mecca. In the olden times Mecca was pronounced Baka, so the Holy Qur’an refers to the first house as being built not in Mecca but in Baka. It is also called Bait-ul-Ateeq, or the most ancient house. Abraham(as) raised it from the ruins which he discovered under divine guidance, and about which he was commissioned by God to rebuild with the help of his son Ishmael(as). It is the same place where he had left his wife Hagar and infant son Ishmael(as), again under divine instruction. But work on the House of God awaited attention until Ishmael(as) grew to an age where he could be of some help. So, both of them worked together to rebuild the house and restart the institution of pilgrimage.

Many rites performed during pilgrimage are rooted in those early days of the reconstruction of the House of God, and some even go beyond that. For instance, the running between Safa and Marwah, two small hillocks close to the House of God, is done in memory of Hagar’s search for some sign of human presence to help her and her child in their dire hour of need. The child is described as having become extremely restive with the agony of thirst, striking the earth with his heels in desperation. There, it is said, sprouted a fountain which still exists today in some form. Later, a well which was created around that spot and its water is considered to be the blessed water. Most of the pilgrims who perform the Hajj try to bring some water from there by way of blessing for their relatives and friends.

There are other rites and traditions which should be briefly explained. In Hajj the pilgrims do not wear any sewn garments; rather, they dress in two loose sheets. This is further indicative of the tradition being most ancient. It indicates that the institution of Hajj began when man had not learnt to wear sewn clothes. They had only started to cover themselves. As such it seems that it is in memory of those ancient people who used to circuit the first house built for the worship of God in that preliminary dress that the pilgrims are required to do the same. Again, the shaving of the head is an important feature which is also universally found as a symbol of dedication among monks, priests, hermits and vishnus. This further adds to the universality of its character. Women are exempt from shaving, but they have to symbolically cut their hair as a token. Also, in the places where Hadrat Abraham(as) is known to have remembered God in the style of an intoxicated lover and extolled his glory with loud chanting, the pilgrims are required to do the same in the same places.

Spending in the Cause of Allah

Now turning to alms and other philanthropic spending, all religions seem to promote the same in one way or another. In some religions spending in the cause of Allah is institutionalised by levying a well-defined tithe. In others, the method is left to the free will of the individual as to how and how much to spend. Again, in this area the universality of Islamic teachings becomes evident when a detailed study of this subject is made from the Qur’an and the tradition and practices of the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa). The subject is so vast, that it covers all possible areas of human interest.

We find in Islam an institutionalised mode of spending as well as non-institutionalised modes of spending, with their respective spheres well defined. But Islam does not leave it at that. It speaks of all possible requirements and their relative importance. Islam goes further to instruct man to spend in the cause of Allah keeping in view all the “do’s” and “don’ts” mentioned in the Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an is very clear on which spending in the cause of Allah will find favour with Him and which will be rejected. The subject is so vast, as mentioned before, that it is beyond the scope of this short treatise to cover every aspect of it. One thing however is certain, that the character of universality of this teaching becomes more and more apparent as one proceeds to grasp its form and spirit. Islam also clearly defines the areas of spending of the prescribed religious tithes, leaving no ambiguity whatsoever.

The Qur’an

The Holy Qur’an is the most memorised and most well-read book in human history. Over a billion Muslims recite its verses daily, with at least hundreds of thousands having memorised the book in its entirety. It is at once the moral foundation of the Muslims, their legislative guidance, and their ladder to the spiritual realisation of the Almighty.

Revealed piecemeal to the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa throughout his 23 years of Prophethood, the entire text was memorised by thousands of Muslims within his own lifetime, and was written down faithfully by many scribes. In the decades following the Prophet’s death, peace be upon him, the book was collated, standardised, and widely distributed. It is therefore without a doubt the most reliable religious text in history, itself making a prophecy regarding the security its letter and spirit would enjoy.

The orientalist Sir William Muir, who was no friend of Islam, testified to the Qur’an unaltered authenticity in his book Life of Mahomet:

“What we have, though possibly corrected by himself, is still his own… We may, upon the strongest presumption, affirm that every verse in the Qur’an is the genuine and unaltered composition of Mohammad himself.” (p.xxviii)

“There is otherwise every security, internal and external, that we possess the text which Mohammad himself gave forth and used." (p.xxvii)

Theodor Noldeke, a distinguished German orientalist who compiled a pioneering history of the Qur’an, wrote at length discrediting the critics of the Qur’an’s authenticity, writing once:

“The efforts of European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolations in the Qur’an have failed.”

Indeed, the recent discovery of the ‘Birmingham Qur’an’ a fragment of the Qur’an dating back to the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammadsa himself, testifies to the reliability of today’s script. The verses inscribed upon it are exactly the ones we read today

After this brief primer, this section delve into the need for the Qur’an, exhibit prophecies concerning the Qur’an, before sampling the Qur’an’s treasures through commentaries on short opening chapter. For those wishing to delve further into the Qur’an, the following sources are highly recommended:

Resources

Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an

This scholarly introduction by the 2nd Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community constitutes a perfect overview of the Holy Qur’an’s background and teachings. It does not rest there, but also devotes a large portion of its text comparing the Qur’an’s teachings with those of other religions, before ending with a famous biography of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa himself. A must-read for scholars and non-specialists alike.

Read it online here.

Holy Qur’an with Short Commentary

This publication of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a perfect introduction to the text of the Qur’an itself. With an easy-to-read English translation, and commentary summarised from the 2nd Khalifa’s, the book constitutes a short but in-depth primer to Qur’anic scholarship.

Read it online or by PDF.

Holy Qur’an: Five-Volume Commentary

This is an unequalled English commentary of the Holy Qur’an, with a translation by Maulawi Sher Ali, and an extensive introduction by the 2nd Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmadra. Delving deep into the Qur’an philosophy, one cannot read this without feeling intellectual stimulated and spiritually enriched.

Read online here or by PDF.

Commentary on The Holy Qur’an

This volume collects thousands of passages written by the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas , on the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an – the Surah Al-Fatiha. His revolutionary commentary demonstrated the supreme power of the Holy Qur’an, which in just seven verses provides oceans of prophetic wisdom and spiritual enlightenment.

Read it online here.

Alislam Mobile Apps

You can also download numerous versions of the translation of the Holy Qur’an onto your tablet or smartphone, at the Alislam Applications homepage.

Visit the Alislam Applications Homepage here.

The Need for the Qur’an

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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Prior to the revelation of the Qur’an, there were already a plethora of other religious books in the world. The Old Testament, the New Testament, the Vedas, to name a few.

In the presence of all these books and teachings, did the world need another book? This is the question that should occur to everyone who starts upon a study of the Qur’an. Its answer will take many forms:

First, was not this division between religion and religion reason enough for the coming of yet another religion to unite all? Secondly, was not the human mind to undergo a process of evolution similar to that which the human body had already gone through? And, just as physical evolution had ultimately become established, were not mental and spiritual evolution destined towards an ultimate perfection which was the very end of human existence? Thirdly, had not earlier books become so defective that a new book had now become a universal necessity which was met by the Qur’an? Fourthly, did earlier religions regard their Messages as absolutely final? Did they not believe in continued spiritual progress? Did they not continuously assure their followers of a coming Message, which would unite mankind and lead them to their ultimate objective?

The answer to these three questions is the answer to the question concerning the need of the Qur’an in the presence of earlier books and messages. We proceed to answer these questions one by one.

Firstly, was not division between religion and religion reason enough for the coming of a new Teaching, which would unite all earlier teachings?

God of the Bible — A National God

Religion has a twofold purpose: (i) it enables man to meet his Maker; and (ii) it teaches him his duty towards his fellowmen. All religions existing at the advent of Islam were not only different but mutually contradictory. The Bible talked not of God, but of the God of Israel. We read in it again and again:

And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me. 3

And also thus said the king, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it. 4

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord. 5

And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying... 6

God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. 7

Jesus also regarded himself as a Teacher for the Children of Israel. If others approached him, he would send them away. In Matthew 15:21-26 we read:

Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Jesus also taught the apostles:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. 8

Jesus – Not a Universal Teacher

Jesus stated:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 28

What Moses and the earlier Prophets have taught in this respect, we have described already. Christian missionaries have gone to all parts of the world, but Jesus himself had no such plan. The question is not what Christian believers are trying to do. The question is, what was the intention of Jesus himself? What was the design of God Who sent Jesus? This nobody can express better than Jesus himself and Jesus said clearly:

I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 29

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 30

The teaching of Jesus, therefore, is only for Israel, not for others. It is said that Jesus exhorted his followers to go to other people:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 31

But to argue from this that Jesus had commanded his followers to take his Message to peoples other than Israel is not correct. It means only this that the followers of Jesus were commanded by him to preach his Message to all the tribes of Israel and not to all nations and peoples as such. Jesus speaks in clear terms:

Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 32

I am not sent but unto the lost sleep of the house of Israel. 33

Again we read:

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 35

Nobody should imagine that the idea here is that Christian preachers should first go to Israelite towns, then to others. For, to go to the lost sheep of Israel does not mean only to visit their towns, but to convert them to Christianity. The idea, therefore, is that until the Israelites have become Christian, no attention is to be paid to others. Jesus makes it quite clear that the task of preaching to Israel and converting them will not be completed until his Second Coming. Thus we read:

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 36

From this it is clear that Matthew 28:19 requires Christian preachers to establish Christianity in the towns of Israel and not merely to visit those towns. It is made quite clear that this duty of preaching to the Israelites will not be over until the Second Coming. In preaching to others, therefore, while the Second Coming of Jesus had yet to take place, Christian preachers are acting against the teaching of Jesus.

The apostles also regard it as incorrect to preach the Gospel to non-Israelites. Thus we read:

Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 37

Similarly, when the apostles heard that Peter in one place had preached the Gospel to non-Israelites, they were annoyed:

And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest into men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 38

Before the Holy Prophet of Islam, therefore, nobody addressed a message to the whole of mankind; before the Qur’an, no book addressed itself to the whole of humanity. It is the Holy Prophet who declared:

Say, O mankind! truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allah. 39

The revelation of the Qur’an, therefore, was meant to remove those differences and divisions which had come to pass between religion and religion and people and people, and which had first arisen out of the inevitable limitations of earlier teachings.

If the Qur’an had not come, these divisions would have endured. The world would never have known that it had but One Creator, nor would it have realised that its creation had one large purpose in view. Differences between religions prior to Islam seem to require rather than to resist the coming of a Teaching, which should unite them all.

Vedas Also a National Scripture

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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Among the followers of the Vedas, the reading of the Vedas had become so exclusive a prerogative of the high castes that Gotama Rishi says:

If a Sudra happens to hear the Vedas then it is the king’s duty to drop molten lead and wax into his ears; if a Sudra were to recite the Vedic Mantras the king should cut off his tongue and if he try to read the Vedas, the king should cut his body. 9

The teaching about ‘foemen’ in the Vedas is extreme and barbarous. In the Atharva-Veda the orthodox are taught to put the non-Vedics in chains and to plunder their houses:

Consume, with lion aspect, all their hamlets, with tiger aspect, drive away thy foemen. Sole lord and leader and allied with Indra, seize, conqueror, thine enemy’s possessions. 10

Similarly, Vedic prayers addressed to the sun, moon, fire, Indra, and even grass, seek the destruction of the non-Vedic dharmis. Thus we have:

Bewildering the senses of our foemen, seize thou their bodies and depart, O Apva. Attack them, set their hearts on fire and burn them: so let our foes abide in utter darkness. Whetting thy bolt and thy sharp blade, O Indra, crush thou the foe and scatter, Those who hate us. 11

Blind, O my foemen, shall ye be even as headless serpents are: may Indra slay each best of you, when Agni’s flame hath struck you down. 12

Cleave through, O Darbha, amulet, my foes, my adversaries heart; Rise thou and batter down their heads. 13

We also have:

Do not hold discourses with non-Vedic dharmis. 14

Should anyone criticize the Vedas, turn him out of the country, that is, condemn him to a life-sentence. 15

This sort of teaching shows conclusively that the Vedic Dharma was meant for a few people. It was not a universal Message. Brahmans, Kshatryas, and Vaishyas do not constitute the whole of humanity. For other sections of mankind what does Hindu teaching offer? Is there no guidance for them? Can the universal providence of God be reconciled to the idea of guiding one part of His creation and omitting the other, leading one part to Heaven and the other part to Hell?

Such teaching is not only savage. It is repugnant and dishonourable to God. Our God is full of grace and universal beneficence. Every part of the world is under His providence. Those who live on the surface of the earth, or those who live under it or those who live in the air, all grow and fulfil their destinies under the universal sustenance of God. He has endowed all sections of mankind with the same powers, the same urges and the same emotions. The urges which raise men in the spiritual scale have been distributed equally over the whole of humanity. No people have been dealt with scantily, neither Europeans, nor Americans, nor Japanese, nor any other Asiatics. Hindus are not superior to others in respect of spiritual aspirations or mental capacities. God could not have omitted large sections of His own creation from His guidance, and chosen a sixth of the human race for it. The existence of such a teaching declares openly that the time of this teaching is over. We need now a book which should address itself to the whole of humanity, which should collect Arab and non-Arab, Jew and Gentile, Brahman and non-Brahman in one fold, and inculcate a universal feeling, and teach us not to treat the humble and the downtrodden as unworthy, but as even more deserving of our sympathy, compassion and care. It was this need of a new book which the Qur’an came to fulfil.

Confucianism and Zoroastrianism also were national religions. They did not address their Messages to the whole world, nor did they try to teach on any large scale. Just as Hinduism regards India as God’s favoured land, so does Confucianism regard China as God’s own kingdom.

The world is far advanced now. We do not need to labour over the point that if the world has a Maker, He is and can only be one Maker. The God of Israel, the God of the Hindus, the God of China and the God of Iran are not different. Nor is the God of Arabia, of Afghanistan and of Europe different. Nor is the God of the Mongols and the God of the Semites different. God is one, even as the law to which the world is subject is one law, and the system which links one part of it to another is one system. Science builds itself on the belief that all natural and mechanical changes are expressions of one law. The world has one principle—motion, as the materialistic philosophers assert. Or, it has one Maker. If this is true, expressions like the God of Israel, the God of the Arabs, the God of the Hindus, are meaningless.

There are only two ways to resolve this division and disagreement between religions: either we must hold that there are several gods, or, if God is one, we must prove Him so. Or we must have these conflicting religions replaced by one Teaching.

Why Teachings of Various Religions Differ

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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But the question is: If these Teachers were all from God, why did their teachings differ so much one from another? Would God teach different things at different times? Even ordinary mortals try to be consistent and teach the same thing at different times.

The answer to this question is that when conditions remain the same, it would be absurd to issue different directions. But when conditions change, variation of teaching is of the essence of wisdom.

In the time of the Prophet Adam, it seems, human beings lived together in one part of the world; one teaching, therefore, was enough for them. Possibly even up to Noah’s time they continued to live in this way. According to the Bible, human tribes continued to live together in one part of the world up to Babylonian times.

The Bible is not a book of history. But there is evidence that supports the Biblical account. Among all nations of the world, even among savages inhabiting lonely islands, we find traces of the story of Noah’s Flood. It seems unlikely that the whole of the world was first engulfed in a universal deluge, and then knowledge of it spread in all parts of the world. It seems more likely that in one part of the world there was a deluge, which resulted in the dispersion of the population in different directions. If it is not proved that the world was one up to Babylonian times, history lends support to the view that it was one up to Noah’s time.

After Noah’s time the population dispersed into different countries. The influence of Noah’s teaching began to decline, because means of communication were so poor. A Teacher in one country could not communicate his Message to other countries. It was but appropriate then that God should have sent a Prophet to each country, so that no country should be without His guidance. This made for division between religion and religion, because the human mind had not yet fully developed.

As human intellect and understanding lacked the development to which they were to attain later, every country had a teaching sent to it appropriate to the level of development to which it had attained.

The Need for a Universal Message

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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But when the human race began to advance and more and more countries began to be inhabited, and distances between them began to be annihilated, and means of communication began to improve, the human mind began to appreciate the need of a universal teaching, covering all the different situations of man. Through mutual contact men came to have insight into the fundamental oneness of the human race and the Oneness of their Creator and Guide.

Then in the desert of Arabia, God sent His final Message to mankind through the Holy Prophet of Islam. No wonder, this Message begins by praising God, the Lord of the worlds. It speaks of God to Whom all manner of praise is due, Who sends His sustenance to all peoples and all countries, and in an equitable measure. He is not partial to any country or any people. Therefore the Message which begins thus inevitably ends by invoking the Lord of all mankind, their King and their God.

The Prophet who brought this Message was a Second Adam. As in the time of the First Adam there was one revelation and one people, so in the time of this Second Adam the world again had one revelation and became one people. If, therefore, this world has been created by One God, and if God is equally interested in all peoples and all countries, it is imperative that ultimately these different peoples and different religious traditions should unite in one belief and one outlook. If the Qur’an had not come, the spiritual purpose for which mankind had been created would have been frustrated. If the world cannot be assembled around one spiritual centre, can we ever come to appreciate the Oneness of our Creator?

A river has many tributaries but at last it becomes one broad stream and it is then that its might and beauty manifest themselves. The Messages which Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Zoroaster and other Prophets brought to different parts of the world are like tributaries, which arise before a mighty river shapes its course. They were all good and wholesome. But it was necessary that they should flow at last into one river, and demonstrate the Oneness of God and promote the one ultimate purpose for which mankind had been created.

If the Qur’an does not fulfil this purpose, where is the teaching which does? Not the Bible, because the Bible talks only of the God of Israel. Nor Zoroaster’s, because Zoroaster conveys the light of God exclusively to the Iranian people. Nor the Vedas, because the Rishis prescribe the penalty of casting molten lead into the ears of Shudras—India’s original inhabitants—who are bold enough to listen to the Vedic recitation. Nor does the Buddha fulfil this great purpose, because though the faith of the Buddha spread in China after his death, yet his own vision never travelled beyond the confines of India. Nor does the teaching of Jesus fulfil this purpose.

The second question we now turn to is whether the human mind was to undergo the same process of evolution as the human body had already undergone? And just as the human body had ultimately reached a certain stability of form, was not the mind (and soul) of man destined similarly to attain to stability, which was its ultimate end?

The Evolution of Civilisation and Culture

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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…The history of the world is witness to the fact that the human mind has advanced through many periods of social progress, but has still failed to reach the conception of a large human brotherhood. …The human mind, like the human body, has had to pass through many evolutionary stages. But until the advent of Islam it did not reach any kind of finality in spiritual advance. In passing through different stages of social advance it was not able to rise above the limitations of nation or race and the idea of human equality and human brotherhood did not take root. It passed through many different periods of culture, but did not reach any satisfactory Law, a Law for all mankind.

The Mosaic teaching no doubt made an attempt to bring together social and cultural ideals, but after a time it began to fail. It began to fail because what it had offered was not the last word on the subject. Jesus no doubt tried to make a change, but the change did not prove enough, and was not able to stand the tide of rebellion in which the human mind had then become involved. All that survived of the teaching of Jesus is the saying attributed to Christianity that the Law is a curse. This saying, taken in the form in which it occurs, offends the good sense of every thinking person. Unless it is suitably interpreted, the saying is itself a curse because it only serves to turn man away from God and to free him from His guidance.

Therefore it seems that the end which the evolution of the human mind was seeking had not yet come. The process and stages through which human civilisation and human culture had passed pointed to the fact that civilisation and culture are subject to the same law of evolution to which the human body was for long subject…this alone indicates the need of Islam in the presence of other religions, the need of a religion which should provide an end to the evolution of human culture, an end which is embodied in the teaching of the Qur’an.

The third question, an affirmative answer to which establishes the need of the Qur’an, is: Had the earlier books come to suffer from defects, which called for a new book, which was the Qur’an?

Interpolation and Destruction of Past Scriptures

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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In answer to this we must remember that the first criterion by which we can measure the usefulness of a book is freedom from external interference. A revealed book is superior to a man-made book because we can assume that the former will not lead us into error. God is sheer guidance. In a book revealed by Him, therefore, we may expect to find only light and truth, no darkness or error. If our conception of

God does not imply such a trust in what He reveals, then that conception has no value.

If communications from God also can err, then what grounds have we for holding divine teaching superior to human teaching? Belief in a book entails belief that that book is free from error. It is possible, however, that a book originally revealed by God may come to suffer from human interference. If the contents of a book have suffered additions and subtractions at human hands, then that book can no longer serve as a guide.

When we examine the earlier revealed books from this point of view, we find them entirely unsatisfying. Beginning with the New Testament, we find interpolation and evidence of human tampering occurring even up to our current day. As examples we have the following:

(1) In John (5:2-5) we had:

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, said he unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

For hundreds of years we had this account reproduced in the Gospels. Nobody ever thought that it was unreliable. But when there began controversies between the Muslims and the Christians in the nineteenth century, verse 4 and part of v. 3 were deleted from the above passage in the Revised Version published in 1881, out of fear of Muslim criticism, and it was noted on the margin that many ancient authorities insert, wholly, or in part, the words deleted from the text.

The question is, when this portion was found in many ancient authorities, why was the change made? Moreover, the very fact that a certain verse is found in certain copies and is missing in others is a proof of the fact that the original text has been tampered with.

There can be only two alternatives. Either we will have to admit that the verse was not found in the original text. In that case, we will have to conclude that certain scribes took the liberty of introducing the words on their own account. Or we will have to admit that the verse did exist in the original text. In that case we will have to infer that certain scribes intentionally expunged the verse from the text. In both cases the text will be considered as having been tampered with.

Similarly, in I John (5:7-8) we had:

For there are three (that bear record in heaven, the Father, the word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one and there are three) that bear witness (in earth), the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

The above passage formed part of the New Testament for centuries, but when the Christians entered into conflict with the Muslims and the latter began to hurl attacks at such passages, the former altered the text of their sacred Scriptures and the words within brackets were expunged from the Revised Version published in 1881. Now the question is; if the words so expunged did not form part of the original text and were introduced into the text by somebody, it means that in 1881 Christian scholars admitted that Christian Scriptures had been subject to interpolations. But if the old copies were correct and the present change has been made in the text for expediency’s sake, it means that process of tampering with the Christian Scriptures still continued.

Again, in Matthew (17:14-21) we have:

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for oft times he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then, Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Christian exponents seem to be convinced that after faith in Jesus, nothing further is required in the way of good works, to attain the pleasure and love of God. But from the passage of Matthew quoted above it appears that this great end cannot be achieved except by prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting, therefore, are important instruments for the assimilation of the grace of God. Because the disciples of Jesus did not make use of these instruments, they were unable, according to the Gospel narrative, to cast out a bad spirit, in spite of the fact that they had declared faith in Jesus.

Muslim critics used this passage for a vital criticism. They said that mere faith in Jesus was not enough. Good works were also necessary and Jesus himself had stressed the importance of prayer and fasting, and had made use of them as instruments of spiritual advancement. If prayer and fasting were also necessary, then faith in Jesus could not be enough, and could not release man from the obligation to do good.

This criticism was so damaging that Christian exponents found themselves unable to give any reply. The only way of escape they found was in deleting the verse from the Gospel. Accordingly, in the Revised Version of the Gospel according to Matthew, we do not find this verse at all. The whole verse has been deleted and it has been proved that the Gospel text is still subject to human interference.

It is said that in Mark (9:29) the word 'prayer' is still retained; and that if the change had been made from any bad motive, the word 'prayer' should not have been retained in Mark. But this plea does not hold good. Muslim criticism was not based on the word 'prayer', for prayer is still offered by Christians. The objection was based on the word 'fasting'. The verse that has been deleted showed that Jesus was in the habit of fasting and that he looked upon fasting as necessary for spiritual advancement, so the Law could not be regarded as a curse. In order to avoid this criticism, the whole verse was deleted from Matthew and the word 'fasting' was deleted from Mark. It is also possible that one party of the revisers thought it necessary to omit the whole verse, while another party thought it sufficient to omit only the word 'fasting'.

In acting in this manner however, contemporary Christian priests only imitate what the Jewish priests did to the Old Testament.

The followers of the Old Testament regard it as a revealed book. Christians also describe it as a Book of God, and Muslims also think that it was a revelation. But it is one thing for a book to be revealed, and quite another for that book to retain intact its revealed text. No doubt, all the three peoples—Jews, Christians and Muslims, agree that God spoke to the Prophets of the Old Testament. But they no longer believe, and external and internal evidence no longer support the view, that the record of the Old Testament as we possess it today constitutes the word of God, as it was first revealed.

From the history of Israel we learn that in the time of Nebuchadnezzar the books of Israel were burnt and destroyed. They were rewritten by the Prophet Ezra, and of Ezra we read in Jewish literature:

It was forgotten but Ezra restored it. 40

And again:

Ezra re-established the text of Pentateuch, introducing therein the Assyrian or square characters. 41

Similarly we read:

He showed his doubts concerning the correctness of some words of the text by placing points over them. Should Elijah, said he, approve the text, the points will be disregarded; should he disapprove, the doubtful words will be removed from the text. 42

From these quotations it is evident that the Torah, in whatever form it existed at the time whether the form, which Ezra gave to it or the form which it had received from earlier times—was a very uncertain and unreliable book. Its general text could no longer be regarded as the word of God preserved in pristine purity. The "Book of Ezra" is no longer included in the Bible as we know it today. Yet it is no less reliable than any of the other books of the Bible. It is called the "Greek Book of Ezra." In olden times it was put before the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Later on Jerome, a notable Christian priest who was entrusted by the Pope with the task of editing the Bible, dropped it out of the Bible on the ground that its Hebrew original was no longer available. This book is described, by some as the third book of Ezra and by some as the second book. In any event it seems that though this book was dropped out of the Bible, a great majority of Jews and Christians describe it as the "Book of Ezra". In verses 20-25 of the 14th chapter of this book we read:

Behold, Lord, I will go, as thou hast commanded me and reprove the people which are present: but they that shall be born afterward, who shall admonish them? Thus the world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein are without light. For thy law is burnt, therefore, no man knoweth the things that are done of thee, or the works that shall begin. But if I have found grace before thee, send the Holy Ghost into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the latter days may live. And he answered me, saying, Go thy way, gather the people together, and say unto them that they seek thee not for forty days. But look thou prepare thee many box trees, and take with thee Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ecanus, and Asiel, these five which are ready to write swiftly; And come hither, and I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out, till the things be performed which thou shalt begin to write. 43

From this it appears that Ezra and the five scribes worked hard for forty days in seclusion and with the help of God composed 204 books. In verse 44 of this very chapter we read:

In forty days they wrote two hundred and four books. 44

From this we may conclude:

  • (a) That in the time of the Prophet Ezra, who lived about 450 years before Jesus, the Torah and the books of the other Prophets had become mixed up;
  • (b) That no reliable copy of these books was then in existence;
  • (c) That Ezra wrote down the books again.

True, we are told that the books were revealed. But revealed only means that God helped in their composition. It does not mean that the text, word for word, was revealed by God. We learn from Jewish history that Ezra himself rejected parts of the text on the ground of unreliability, and that he left the final decision about them to

Elijah. The Torah as we know it today, therefore, is not the Torah which was revealed to Moses. It is the Torah, which Ezra recorded from his memory, and about parts of which he himself was in doubt.

We should even say that the present Torah is not even the one that Ezra wrote, for Ezra wrote 204 books, and we do not find 204 books in the Bible. Of Ezra’s memory, Christian scholars themselves express great doubts. Adam Clark, the well-known commentator of the Bible, says in his commentary (1891), under I Chronicles (7:6), that here Ezra mistakenly writes names of grandsons instead of sons and that to try to reconcile contradictions of this kind is useless (p.168). In 7:6 we read:

The sons of Benjamin; Bela and Becher, and Jediael, three;

Whereas in 8:1 we have:

Now Benjamin begat Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, and Aharah the third, Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth.

Jewish scholars take the view that Ezra did not quite know whether a given person was son or grandson of another person. When this is the view held by Jewish and Christian scholars of Ezra’s memory, how can ordinary Jews and Christians and other ordinary people be satisfied about the spiritual value of a book with as little authority as the Bible?

Let us now pass on to the internal evidence on the point. The most important and the most decisive argument in this connection is provided by Deuteronomy (34:5-6):

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

These verses show clearly that they were composed and added hundreds of years after the time of Moses. It does not stand to reason that God ever addressed Moses, saying, "Nobody knows about your sepulchre unto this day." Can such words be addressed to a living human being? Can the words "unto this day" be used in a speech addressed to him? Then in verse 8 we read:

And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

This verse also shows that it cannot have been revealed to Moses but is a later addition. Then in verse 10 we read:

And there arose not a Prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.

This also does not seem to be a revelation of Moses but an invention made many hundreds of years after his death and entered in the Book of Moses. It is possible that it is the work of Ezra, but it may equally be the work of somebody else.

For further internal evidence on the point that the Torah, as we know it, was compiled after the time of Moses, and that it contains the writings of other persons, we should read Genesis 14:14.

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

Compare this passage with Judges 18:27-29, in which it is said that this city which is called Dan in the book of Genesis was first called Laish.

About 80 years after Moses this city was conquered by Israel and re-named ‘Dan’. We read:

And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were as quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Beth-rehob. And they built a city and dwelt therein. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.

The point is that a name, which was proposed 80 years after Moses, could not possibly occur in the Book of Moses. It is quite clear, therefore, that the Book of Moses had additions made to it after his death and many writers entered in it their own thoughts and speculations.

This sort of editing is not confined to the Book of Moses. Other books of the Bible also suffer the same fate. In Joshua 24:29 we read:

And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

Similarly in Job 42:17 it is written:

So Job died, being old and full of days.

From these quotations it is quite obvious that the book of Joshua was not recorded by Joshua and the book of Job was not recorded by Job. They were instead the compilations of persons who came later, and who compiled these books from what they heard from other people.

It is possible also that the Prophets whose teachings are recorded in the Bible collected the word of God as it was received by them, but the records left by them could not endure the ravages of time, and when they became extinct, the people who came after wrote them again from their memory, and in doing so entered many of their own thoughts and judgements into them.

Is it any wonder that these books, which on historical as well as on their own internal evidence are maimed and mutilated, ceased to give satisfaction to their readers? Is it any wonder that therefore, God also withdrew His protection from them so that mankind began to look and long for a book which should be free from and immune to all kinds of human interference?

If even after these books had become contaminated, God had not revealed to the world a book which could be regarded as the very word of God, and protection of which from human interference could not be doubted, then we would have had to admit that God is not concerned to guide man and that He sows the seed of faith not in the soil which brings forth certainty and conviction but in the soil which brings forth uncertainty and doubt and that He wishes to confer upon belief not even the measure of certainty which disbelief enjoys.

But can we entertain such a thought? Is it worthy of God? If it is not true, and it certainly is not true, that God is not concerned to guide man, then we have to look for the book, which superseded the Bible and replaced this garbled and interpolated version of the word of God.

The third religion important in respect of numbers is Hinduism. In accordance with the teaching of the Qur’an we hold the certain belief that the Hindu religion had its origin in divine revelation and, because the Hindus regard the Vedas as their religious books, we are constrained also to believe that the Vedas contain revelations received by Hindu Prophets. But the state in which the Vedas are to be found at the present time is most confusing. We do not even know the names of persons who received these revelations. Vedic mantras in the beginning mention some names, but these names, according to Hindu scholars themselves, are not the names of the recipients of the revelations, but of those who collected them. The historical value of the Vedas, therefore, is very significant. The Vedic scholars hold the following opinions about the Vedas:

  1. Pandit Vedic Muni in his Veda Sarvasva writes:

    In truth, the confusion to which this Atharva-Veda has been reduced is without parallel in the other Vedas. Even after Sayanacharya many Suktas have been added to it. A fine method of interpolation has been invented. In the first stage the interpolated passage is marked out from the text by the words Atha(beginning) and Iti (end.) When the readers get used to the change the words Atha and Iti are dropped out and the interpolated passage becomes part of the general text. Just as in the Rig-Veda collection the Valkhilya Suktas are being added, so at the end of the Atharva-Veda are being added the Kuntapa Suktas. If you ask, "From where have these Suktas from the fifth Anu-vaka to Kuntapacome?" you have no reply. Ignorance is so rampant that at the end the words, ‘Atharva-Veda Samhita Samapta’ are thought to be a sufficient guarantee that all that has gone before constitutes the Atharva collection. Nobody stops to inquire who the collector and publisher are, and what capacity they have for the task (p.97).

  2. Pandit Mahesh Chandra Prashad writes in his Sanskrit Sahitya ka Itihas:

    Vaja Saneyi Shukla Yajur-Veda Samhita is a strange collection. In this the Vedas and Brahmans are as separate parts. There are altogether 40 chapters, but most people are convinced that of these 18 only are genuine, the rest having been added later. Chapters 1 to 18 correspond to Bhaga Taittiriya Samhitaand Krishna Yajur-Veda in prose and verse. Of these 18 chapters we have an explanation, word for word, in their Brahmanas. But in the case of the remaining chapters we have explanations only of a few mantras here and there. Katyayana regards chapters 26 to 35 as interpolations. Chapters 19 to 25 contain an account of sacrifices. They do not tally with the Taittiriya Samhita. Chapters 26 to 29 largely consist of mantras relating to the same sacrificial rites which have been mentioned in the earlier chapters, from which it appears that most certainly they have been added later (p.160).

  3. Pandit Vedic Muni in his Veda-Sarvasva writes:

    The time of the composition of Gopatha Brahmana is just the time when the advocates of sacrifices held the field. At that time the votaries of the Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda and Atharva-Veda were engaged in a fierce controversy and busy in making interpolations on different excuses. The mantras of the Rig-Veda which they fancied they each entered into their own respective Vedas. Everybody thought himself above criticism and hated everybody else. Not only this. Differences which had crept into the different manuscripts had divided the votaries of the different Vedas among themselves. The votaries of Vashkala Samhita had separated from the votaries of Shakalya Samhita, the votaries of Madhyandina Samhita from Kanva Samhita and Shaunaka Samhita from Pippalada Samhita. Each regarded his own fancied text as the best and the purest and all the others as corrupt and fabricated. The many differences in the texts of the Vedas which we find today took their birth in these evil times (pp.105-106).

The same authority goes on to say:

Besides these, parts of Brahmana Granthas have also been added to the Vedas, which the discerning reader can detect at once. The Atharva-Veda is in the same plight. Our doctors of theology should ponder over the situation. That a religious book should be in such a sad state is very regrettable (op. cit. p.10).

Like the Bible, the Vedas contain interpolations made by different persons in different periods. No wonder there are many contradictions in their text, and here are some examples:

(i) The Vedas raise the question, who made the sun? To this quite different answers are proposed in different parts of the Vedas. In the Rig-Veda (IX, 96:5) we are told that the sun was made by the Soma god. But in the Rig-Veda (VIII, 36:4) we are told the sun was made by the god Indra. The same book teaches one thing in one chapter and quite another in another chapter. It teaches in one chapter that the sun was made by the Soma god, and in another, that it was made by the god Indra.

When we turn to the other Vedas the contradiction becomes more and more serious. In the Yajur-Veda (31:12) we read that the sun was made by Brahma from his eye. The Atharva-Veda further contradicts this. In it (XIX, 27:7) we find that all the gods joined together and made the sun. This is different from, and contradicts, all the other accounts.

(ii) The Vedas teach that the sun at first was on the earth, it was then taken to the skies. This account may be ridiculous from the point of view of astronomical science; we are concerned only to point out that even this extraordinary statement is couched in very different terms in different parts of the Vedas. In Krishna Yajur-Veda Taittiriya Samhita (7:1) we read that the sun was on the earth and gods then carried it on their backs to the heavens and placed it there.

In the Rig-Veda (X, 156:4) we read that the fire-god carried the sun and placed it in the sky. But in the Rig-Veda itself in another place (VIII, 12:30) we read that god Indra alone carried the sun to heaven. And in yet another place, (X, 62:3) it is stated that the sun was carried unaided by the sons of Angira Rishi to heaven. In the Atharva-Veda (XIII, 2:12) it is given that the sun was carried unaided by the Atri Rishi to heaven that it should create the months. In Shukla Yajur-Veda (4:31) we have that it was the god Varuna who set the sun on the sky. The belief that the sun was carried from the earth to the heavens is ridiculous enough. But contradictory versions of it are even more ridiculous.

The Rig-Veda alone gives three contradictory accounts. One is that the sun was taken by the fire-god from the earth to the heaven. A second is that it was the god Indra who did so. A third is that the sons of Angira Rishi performed this feat. The Yajur-Vedaalso gives contradictory versions. According to one, all this duty was performed unaided by the god Varuna. The Atharva-Veda gives quite a different account, declaring that it was the Rishi Atri who carried out the task.

(iii) Of the creation of heaven and earth, we have many accounts in the Vedas. But these accounts contradict one another as much as the accounts of ghosts and fairies do in children’s tales. In the Sama-Veda, Purva Archik (VI, 1:4), we have that the heaven and the earth were made by the Soma god. But in the Rig-Veda (VIII, 26:4) we find that the heaven and the earth were made by the god Indra living on the Soma juice. In another place in the Rig-Veda (II, 40:1) made by Soma and Pushan. In the Yajur-Veda (13:4) it is written that the heaven and the earth were made by Brahma.

(iv) We believe, as we have said before, that the Vedas were originally a revelation of God and as such they taught nothing but the Unity and Oneness of God. But the Vedas, as we know them today, are not the Vedas, which were revealed to the Rishis. The Vedas today are full of polytheistic descriptions and these descriptions are to be found in such abundance that what little in the Vedas still bears on the Unity of God is relegated to the background. We give below a few examples:

In the Yajur-Veda (7:19) we are told that there are in all thirty-three gods, eleven on the earth, eleven in the sky, eleven in the waters. In the Rig-Veda (III, 9:9) we are told that the total number of gods is 3,340.

This, because, according to the Rig-Veda, 3,339 gods went to the fire-god and fed him with ghee. On his joining the big company the total number of gods became 3,340. Accordingly in the Rig-Veda (x, 52:6) the total number of gods is 3,340.

This divergence in the number of gods present in different parts of the Vedas is amazing in the extreme; according to the Yajur-Veda 33 and according to the Rig-Veda, 3,340! To have departed from the conception of One God was dangerous enough. But such wide divergence in the number of gods proposed in different parts of the Vedas seems worse than dangerous. Contradictions of this kind compel us to conclude that though the original Vedas were most certainly revealed, the present Vedas no longer retain their original character, and are incapable of giving satisfaction to those who are in quest of spiritual solace. They need to be replaced by another book, which should be free from all immoral, contradictory, savage and superstitious teaching. That book, we claim, is the Qur’an.

Our fourth and final question, the answer to which should throw light on the question relating to the need of the Qur’an, is: Did earlier religions regard themselves as final? Or did they believe in a kind of spiritual progression, which was due to culminate in a universal teaching for the guidance of mankind?

Biblical Prophecies of Islam

The Prophecy of Deuteronomy

The text of this section is collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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When Moses went to Mount Horeb under the command of God, he addressed the Israelites saying:

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. 63God spoke to Moses saying: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 64

From these passages it is evident that Moses prophesied about a Law-giving Prophet who was to appear after him, and who was to be from among the brethren of Israel.

From these passages it is evident that Moses prophesied about a Law-giving Prophet who was to appear after him, and who was to be from among the brethren of Israel.

That he was to be a Law-giver, and not an ordinary Prophet, is obvious from the words "like unto Moses". As Moses was a Law-giver, the Prophet, who was to be like Moses, was also to be a Law-giver. The Promised Prophet is described as one who "shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." From this also it appears that the Promised Prophet was to be a Law-giving Prophet.

The promulgation of a new Law means the initiation of a new movement, a new nation. A Prophet who promulgates a new Law, therefore, is no ordinary Teacher or Reformer. He has to present a comprehensive teaching, incorporating fundamental principles as well as detailed rules. Without it a new nation cannot be raised. But a Prophet who does not bring a new Law has only to explain and to annotate an already existing Law. It is not necessary for him to present all that he receives from God to his people. It is possible that some of his revelations may be meant only for his personal edification, which he is under no obligation to pass on to his people.

The prophecy also lays down that the Promised Prophet will "speak in my name;" and those who will not listen to him, God will "require it" of them: that is, those who turn a deaf ear will incur punishment. We are also told that anyone who pretends to fulfil the prophecy will be put to death. If we keep in view all the terms of the prophecy, we are bound to conclude that until at least the time of Jesus no Prophet had appeared in the world, who could be said to have answered to the description of the Promised Prophet.

All the Prophets who appeared between Moses and Jesus, therefore, may be ignored, when we set out in search of the Prophet who could be said to have fulfilled this prophecy. They have left no following and no people who could espouse their claims; Only Jesus remains who has a large following, and who is regarded by his followers as the last Teacher sent by God into this world. But when we apply, one by one, the terms of the prophecy to Jesus, we find that not one of them, applies to him:

First, the Promised Prophet was to be a Law-giving Prophet. Was Jesus a Law-giver? Did he bring a new Law into the world to replace an old one? Jesus said clearly:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 65

The followers of Jesus went so far as to declare:

And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law... 66

Jesus laid no claim to giving a new Law, and his disciples regard the Law as a curse. How then can Jesus and his followers be said to fulfil the prophecy in Deuteronomy? Secondly, the Promised Prophet was to be raised not from among Israel but from among their brethren and Jesus was an Israelite.

Christian exponents, confronted with this fact, are wont to say that Jesus had no earthly father, so he can be said to be one of the brethren of Israel. But such a construction would be untenable. The prophecy speaks of brethren, which means they were to constitute a race or a people from among whom the Promised Prophet was to rise. Jesus stands alone, as son of God. If there were other sons of God, he might have answered to the description of the prophecy. But, apart from this, it is clearly laid down in the Bible that Christ was to be of the seed of David. 67 Jesus may shed his Israelite origin because he had no earthly father: but he will not then remain a son of David, so that the prophecy of the Psalms relating to Christ will not apply to him.

Thirdly, the prophecy says "I will put my words in his mouth." But the Gospels do not consist of words, which God put in Jesus’ mouth. They only tell us the story of Jesus and what he said in some of his public addresses and what his disciples said or did on different occasions.

Fourthly the Promised One was to be a Prophet, while the Christian view is that Jesus was not a Prophet, but the son of God. How, then, can Jesus answer to the description of the prophecy?

Fifthly, we have in the prophecy: "Words which he shall speak in my name." Strange as it may seem, there is in the Gospels not a single example of words, which Jesus may be said to have received from God with the command to pass them on to the people whom he taught.

Sixthly, we have in the prophecy, "He shall speak unto them all that I shall command." The Promised Prophet; according to this, was to give to the world a complete and comprehensive teaching. But Jesus claimed no such mission for himself. He regarded himself as the forerunner of a greater Teacher yet to come. Thus we have (John, 16:12-13):

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

From these verses it appears that the prophecy in Deuteronomy was not fulfilled in Jesus. We cannot but conclude, therefore, that both the Old and the New Testaments foretold the coming of a Prophet after Jesus who was to guide the world "unto all truth", and who was to establish the name of God on earth for all time.

Our claim is that the revelation of the Qur’an and the advent of the Holy Prophet mark the fulfilment of the prophecy in Deuteronomy. The following facts bear this out:

(i) The Holy Prophet Muhammad was a descendant of Ishmael. The descendants of Ishmael were the brethren of the descendants of Isaac, the Israelites.

(ii) The Holy Prophet is the only one claiming to be a Prophet like Moses. We have in the Qur’an (73:16): Verily We have sent to you a Messenger, who is a witness over you even as We sent a Messenger to Pharaoh. The Qur’an definitely likens the Holy Prophet to Moses.

(iii) The prophecy described the Promised One as a prophet. The Holy Prophet claimed to be a Prophet only. Jesus, we are told, on the other hand, did not Claim to be a Prophet. We read in Mark (8:27:30):

He asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

That is to say, Jesus denies being either John the Baptist, or Elias or one of the Prophets. But the prophecy in Deuteronomy speaks of the Promised One as a Prophet like Moses. The prophecy, therefore, applies to the Prophet of Islam, and not to Jesus.

(iv) The prophecy speaks of "words I will put in his mouth." The Gospels do not contain any such words. On the contrary, the Holy Prophet of Islam brought to the world the Qur’an which is from beginning to end only the word of God, which God put into his mouth. The Qur’an describes itself as the word of God. 68

(v) The prophecy said that the Promised One would speak all that he was commanded. We have quoted the Gospels to prove that Jesus did not pass on everything he received from God, and that there was to be another after him, who was to do so. The Holy Prophet of Islam fully answers to this description. We have in the Qur’an (5:68):

"O Messenger! convey to the people what has been revealed to thee from thy Lord".

The verse seems to say, "O Prophet, there is an ancient prophecy about you which said that when you come into the world you would give to it all the truths you received from your God. Therefore preach to the world whatever is revealed to you, whether it likes it or not."

Similarly, the verse revealed on the completion of the revelation of the Qur’an says:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. 69

That is to say, "Through the revelation of the Qur’an, faith has been made perfect and the gift of guidance made complete for you, and peace and tranquillity have been appointed for you as your religion." It was the Holy Prophet of Islam, therefore, who taught everything and kept back nothing. In the time of Jesus, people were not ready to receive and to believe in everything that was worthwhile. But in the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam man had traversed all the stages of spiritual evolution and the time had come for all the truths to be revealed to the world.

(vi) The prophecy speaks of "words which he shall speak in my name". This part of the prophecy also was fulfilled in the Holy Prophet of Islam. He is the only one who spoke in the name of God, because every Chapter of the revealed Book brought by him begins with the words: "In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful." This great sign, duly incorporated in the Qur’an, also proves that the last stride in the spiritual advance of humanity, foretold by Moses, was registered with the advent of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

(vii) The prophecy laid down the important criterion:

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 70

In this verse the world was taught how to distinguish the Promised One of the prophecy from those who should only pretend to fulfil the prophecy. It was necessary that a clear criterion should be laid down. The Promised One had to be charged with the important mission of initiating the last stage in the spiritual advance of man. If pretenders to this office should arise, the world would run great risks.

To ward off these risks, God laid down the criterion that a pretender would incur divine punishment and meet with death and defeat. The Holy Prophet of Islam laid claim to this office very early in his career, and in the clearest terms. When he announced his claim, he was friendless and weak. The enemy was large in numbers and was strong, and he left no stone unturned to bring to naught his message and his mission and spared no pains to put an end to his life. Mighty rulers also set themselves against him but it was they, not the Prophet who suffered discomfiture and disgrace. The Holy Prophet died, full with success. When he died, the whole of Arabia had declared faith in him; and after his death his first Successors in a few years spread Islam throughout the whole of the then known world. Moses was a true Prophet. The prophecy in Deuteronomy was a revelation from God. But was the Holy Prophet bound to succeed in the way he did? And were his enemies, who thirsted for his blood, bound to fail in the way they did? No, neither the Holy Prophet’s success nor the failure of his enemies was an accident.

On the other hand, it seems that the Qur’an had in view the terms of the prophecy in Deuteronomy when it declared before all Arabia and early in the career of the Holy Prophet: And Allah will protect thee from men. 71 Similarly, addressing the enemies of the Prophet, the Qur’an declared:

He is the Knower of the unseen; and He reveals not His secrets to any one, except him whom He chooses, namely a Messenger of His. And then He causes an escort of guarding angels to go before him and behind him. 72

That is to say, the Prophet, having been charged with an important mission, would not be left unprotected. Enemies would never be able to kill him. These verses proved that the success which the Holy Prophet attained was not an accident of good fortune. He declared early, through revelations received by him from God and recorded to this day in the Qur’an, that God would protect him from the murderous attacks of his enemies. He warned the world that because he was not a pretender, but the Prophet promised in the prophecy in Deuteronomy, he would not be killed.

In short, 1900 years before the advent of the Prophet of Islam, Moses declared that his own Law was, in the divine scheme, not the last Law; that the world was to have a fuller Law later on; and that, for this, God would send in the Latter Days another Messenger of His.

This Messenger was to teach all truths; it was he who was to mark the last stage in the spiritual advance of man. The world had to wait for another book and another Prophet. If, therefore, the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet have come after the Bible and after the Prophets Moses and Jesus, and if they claim to have come from God as guidance to man, their claim must be treated as just and true. It must be taken as the fulfilment of ancient prophecies. The revelation of the Qur’an was not a gratuitous revelation, redundant in the presence of those revelations. Indeed, if the Qur’an had not been revealed, promises made by God through His Messengers would have gone unfulfilled, and the world would have become afflicted with doubt and disbelief.

Prophecy of Mount Faran

The text of this section was collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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In Deuteronomy (33:2) we have:

And he said, the Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.

In this verse Moses is promised three manifestations of the glory of God. The first of these appeared from Sinai, to which a reference is made in Exodus (19:20):

And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

This manifestation of divine glory appeared in the time of Moses. The world witnessed the blessings, which came with it. Time passed. The second manifestation promised in the prophecy was to take place from Seir. Seir is that part of the world round about which the miracles of Jesus took place. "Rising up from Seir ", therefore, points to the advent of Jesus. Christian exponents of the Gospels identify Seir with Sinai but this is a mistake. Seir is part of Palestine. The name has many corrupt forms. One of these serves as the name of a people who are descendants of the Prophet Jacob and are known as Banu Asher. Another serves as a name for the North-Western part of Palestine. Seir, therefore, stands for the second manifestation of divine glory, to wit, the one especially associated with Palestine. To identify Seir with Sinai and to attribute both manifestations to Moses, is wrong also because Moses never crossed into Canaan. He died at a spot from where he could only see its borders. After Moses and before Jesus no manifestation of divine glory took place which could rank with that of Sinai. "Rising up from Seir" therefore, means the advent of Jesus which took place right in Canaan, and through which, as it were, God showed His face for a second time.

The third manifestation of divine glory was to take its rise from Paran, and Paran (Arabic “Faran”) is the name of the hills, which lie between Mecca and Medina. Arab geographers always called this territory Faran. A halting place on the way from Mecca to Medina is called the Valley of Fatimah. When caravans pass through it, children from the neighbourhood meet them and sell them flowers. Asked where the flowers come from, the children answer "Bariyyat Faran," 73 that is, the wilderness of Faran. Faran, therefore, is part of Arabia, the Hijaz, to be exact.

According to the Old Testament, Ishmael, from whom the Prophet of Islam, on whom be peace, was descended, lived in this part. Thus in Genesis (21:20-21) we have:

And God was with the lad (Ishmael); and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt

The Biblical description of Paran is somewhat different from that of Arab geographers. According to the Bible, Paran is a territory adjacent to Canaan. But a territory made up of woods and hills must be a large one, sometimes extending over hundreds and thousands of miles. It cannot be just a strip of land situated within another territory or on its edge.

The Biblical description can only mean that the woods and hills of Paran rise from somewhere near Canaan. It cannot mean that Paran is the southern periphery of Canaan. The Bible, however, admits that Abraham had a son called Ishmael and that he lived in Paran. The testimony of the sons of Ishmael who inhabited it, must be regarded as paramount. The Israelites should have little to say on the point. Their knowledge of history and geography was not good. They could not give an adequate account of the route they followed in their own journey from Egypt to Canaan. How could they pronounce on the geographical facts of other territories? Only one people today trace their descent from Ishmael and they are the Quraysh. They live in Arabia, and Mecca is their centre. If the Quraysh claim is a pretence, it is difficult to find a motive for it. The claim could not advance their racial status, for the Israelites still looked down upon them. Nothing could make a desert people trace their descent to Ishmael unless the descent was a fact.

Also, if the Arab claim is false, where did the descendants of Ishmael disappear? According to the Bible, Ishmael had twelve sons, and these twelve again, according to the Bible, were to multiply exceedingly.

Thus in Genesis (21:13) we have: And also of the son of the bondwoman (i.e. Ishmael) will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

Again in Genesis (21:18) we have: Arise, lift up the lad and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

Again in Genesis (17:20): God says to Abraham: And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

That is to say, the descendants of Ishmael, were to multiply exceedingly and were to become a great nation. If the claim of the Arabs to be the descendants of Ishmael is false, equally must these Biblical prophecies be false. For there is not another nation in the world which claims descent from Ishmael. It is only when the claim of the Arabs is accepted, that the Biblical prophecies relating to Ishmael can be proved true; for they all apply to the Arabs.

The strongest historical evidence consists of stable national traditions. For hundreds of years a people have regarded themselves as descendants of Ishmael and no other people in the world so regard themselves. Better evidence than this there cannot be.

According to the Bible, the Ishmaelites lived in Paran, and Paran, according to Arab geographers, is the territory extending from Mecca to the northern border of Arabia. Paran, therefore is part of Arabia as certainly as the Quraysh, are the descendants of Ishmael. The divine glory which was to rise from Paran was, therefore, to rise from Arabia.

That the Ishmaelites had settled in Arabia is proved by further evidence from the Bible. In Genesis (25:13-16) we have the names of the twelve sons of Ishmael as follows: 1. Nebajoth. 2. Kedar. 3. Adbeel. 4. Mibsam. 5. Mishma. 6. Dumah. 7. Massa. 8. Hadar. 9. Tema. 10. Jetur. 11. Naphish. 12. Kedemah. In accordance with ancient custom, we should expect their descendants to be named after their respective ancestors. The descendants of Jacob, for instance, would be named after their ancestor. Countries also have been named after their people. In the light of these customs a survey of the population of Arabia reveals that the names of the twelve sons of Ishmael are found spread in different parts of Arabia. The descendants of Ishmael fill the entire length and breadth of the country.

The first son of Ishmael was Nebajoth. The territory peopled by his descendants, according to geographers is between 30 and 38 degrees north, and 36 to 38 degrees east. The Rev. Katripikari (Khutubat Ahmadiyya) admits this and says the descendants of Nebajoth occupied the territory between Palestine and Yanbu‘, the port for Medina.

Kedar was the second son. His descendants also constitute part of the Arab population. The literal meaning of Kedar is "of camels," which points to their Arabian habitation. They are to be found in the territory between the Hijaz and Medina. Ptolemy and Pliny, in the course of their description of the people of the Hijaz, speak of the tribes Kedars and Gedors (the latter seems to be a corrupt form of Kedar). There are Arabs today who claim descent from Kedar.

The third son was Adbeel. According to Josephus, the Adbeels also lived in this part of Arabia.

The fourth was Mibsam. We cannot find any traces of this tribe in ordinary geography books. But it is possible that their name has become corrupted into some unrecognizable form.

The fifth son was Mishma, and the Mishmas are to be found to this day in Arabia. The sixth was Dumah. A well-known spot in Arabia is still called Dumah, and Arab geographers have always traced this name to that of the sixth son of Ishmael. The seventh son was Massa, whose name is to be found intact in a Yemenite tribe. Their archaeological remains can also be identified. Katripikari mentions this. The eighth son was Hadar after whom we have the famous town Hudaydah in Yemen.

The ninth son was Tema. From Najd to the Hijaz the territory is called Tema and it is all peopled by the descendants of Tema. In fact they seem to have spread right up to the Persian Gulf.

The tenth son was Jetur (Arabic Yatur). The Jeturs can also be traced in Arabia and are known as Jedurs. The sounds "j" and "y" often interchange, as do "t" and "d".

The eleventh son was Naphish, and Forster thinks that the authority of Josephus and the Old Testament supports the view that the descendants of Naphish lived in the wilds of Arabia.

The twelfth son was Kedemah. The habitation of the descendants of Kedemah is known to lie, according to the famous geographer, Mas‘udi, in Yemen. The tribe known as Ashabur-Rass and mentioned also in the Qur’an are descendants of Ishmael, and they were two tribes, one called Kedamah and the other Yamin. According to some authorities the second one was called Ra‘wil, not Yamin.

Historical and geographical evidence, therefore, shows that the descendants of Abraham have lived in Arabia. All of them held Mecca and the Ka‘bah in great reverence, and from this it appears that Ishmael first settled in Mecca, and this is the part which, according to both Arab and Old Testament records, is called Paran (or Arabic Faran). The testimony of the revelation of Isaiah (21:13-17) supports the same view:

The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the Lord God of Israel hath spoken it.

This prophetic passage is a picture of the Battle of Badr which took place about a year after the Holy Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina. In this battle the sons of Kedar, the people of Mecca and the territories around, suffered a grievous defeat at the hands of Muslims. Unable to withstand the fierceness of Muslim swordsmen and archers, the Meccans sustained a disgraceful defeat. Mark the words with which the passage begins: "The burden upon Arabia." Herein Tema and Kedar. are respectively spoken of as an Arabian territory and an Arabian tribe. According to this text, revealed 714 years before Jesus to the Prophet Isaiah, the descendants of Ishmael lived in the Hijaz.

In short, from whatever side we may approach this question, there is abundant evidence that the Quraysh were the descendants of Ishmael and that Paran of the Bible (Arabic Faran) is the land in which they lived. The manifestation of divine glory that was due to take place from Paran was the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, prophesied by Moses.

Of note, the prophecy makes mention of the coming of 10,000 saints with the manifestation of Mount Paran, and it was with 10,000 saintly soldiers that the Prophet of Islam conquered Mecca bloodlessly, and forgave its entire population for two decades of persecution, scorn and hatred they had poured upon him. A more fitting manifestation of this prophecy cannot be imagined.

Prophecies in Habakkuk

The text of this section was collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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This advent was also prophesied by Habakkuk (3:3-7) 626 years before Jesus. Thus we have:

God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hands and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.

Here we have a mention of Tema and of a Holy One from Paran. From the prophecies of Moses and Habakkuk it is evident that the advent of Jesus was not to mark the last stage in the spiritual development of man. It was to be followed by the advent of another Prophet to mark the third manifestation of divine glory. This Prophet was to manifest both the Beauty and the Majesty of God and bring a fiery Law into the world not merely a Message of forgiveness.

The Holy One to appear from the land of Tema and Mount Paran is the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and his fiery Law is the Qur’an which has the virtue of consuming to ashes the stuff of which sins and satanic machinations are made.

Moses truly said that the Promised One, rising from Paran, would be accompanied by 10,000 saints. As all the world knows, it was the Holy Prophet of Islam who rose from Paran and marched into Mecca with 10,000 followers. Could Jesus be said to have fulfilled this great prophecy or David or Moses? Did any of them rise from Paran? Did any of them march to victory with 10,000 saintly followers? Jesus had only twelve disciples, one of whom sold him for a little money. Another cursed him for fear of being maltreated. Ten remained faithful but, according to the Gospel account, even they dispersed when Jesus was put on the Cross. Had they stood by their Master’s side, even then a following of ten could not have equalled a following of ten thousand. And then the Biblical prophecy says clearly that the ten thousand would be with the Promised Prophet. But the Gospels tell us that the ten disciples of Jesus who remained abandoned him when he was put on the Cross.

According to Habakkuk, one sign of the Promised One was to be the amount of praise showered upon him. Thus Habakkuk (3:3) says, "And the earth was full of his praise." It does not seem to us a mere accident that the Holy Prophet of Islam was named Muhammad (literally, the Praised One). When his enemies denounced him, they were worried by the contradiction entailed in denouncing the Praised One. So they changed his name from Muhammad to Mudhammam, from the Praised One to the Denounced one. When the Prophet’s Companions got exasperated at the denunciations and abuse hurled at him he would say, "Hold your peace; they abuse not me but someone else called Mudhammam." Only a man with a name as beautiful as his personality and character could answer to the description that Habakkuk had given of the Promised One.

No less significant is the tradition of devotional verse which has grown in Islam, and which has resulted in an important branch of the poetry written by Muslims of all countries. Habakkuk also says:

Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. 74

This sign of the Promised One was also fulfilled in the Prophet of Islam. True, the prophecy speaks of pestilence, that is, a disease in epidemic form. But it is large scale destruction and death which a pestilence brings which is here meant. Because the enemies of the Holy Prophet suffered large scale destruction and death in their encounters with him, he may be said to have fulfilled even this part of the prophecy. Again it says:

He stood and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations. 75

This part of the prophecy, like the others, can apply neither to Moses nor to Jesus. Moses died while he was still fighting his enemies, while Jesus was put on the Cross. The Prophet who beheld and drove asunder the nations was the Prophet of Islam. Truly did he say of himself, "My presence is awe-inspiring, and I have been helped not a little by it. People fear me from a distance of one month’s journey."76 And again:

The everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow. 77

This part of the prophecy also applies to the Holy Prophet of Islam. For his enemies were completely routed. Mountains and hills only mean powerful enemies. Again we have in Habakkuk (3:7):

"I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble."

This part of the prophecy clearly shows that the Promised Prophet was to belong to somewhere outside Syria. For it is the hordes in Cushan and Midian which are to be afflicted and frightened on the appearance of the armies of the Promised One. The description cannot apply to Moses or Jesus. It applies only to the Prophet of Islam.

When a small army of his, in the time of his First Successor, Abu Bakr, advanced towards Palestine, notwithstanding the fact that Canaan was then under the Roman Kaiser, master of half the known world at the time, the superior forces of the Kaiser were crushed by the inferior Muslim forces. "The tents of Cushan were in affliction and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble." The people of these lands found their salvation in laying down their arms before the servants of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

Prophecies Given by Solomon

The text of this section was collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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Firstly, in the Song of Solomon (5:10-16) we have:

My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon socks of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

This prophecy promises a Prophet who would be superior to others, and would possess a rank higher than others. We say this because the rapturous description in the Song of Solomon comes in reply to the question: What is thy beloved more than another beloved?

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We are told that this beloved would stand out like a flag among ten thousand men. As a flag symbolizes an army, the description, therefore, applies to some great occasion on which this beloved would command a following of ten thousand. We are also told:

His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. 79

Now myrrh is a kind of gum, of bitter taste but sweet-smelling and very useful, a germ-killer and a cicatrizer, used in disinfectant preparations, in treating wounds and making scents and perfumes. We are also told that "he is altogether lovely" (mark the Hebrew Mahamaddim).

It means his person and character would be such as to compel love and admiration. This prophecy clearly applies to the Holy Prophet of Islam. It was he who headed 10,000 saints and marched victorious from the heights of Paran into the valley of Mecca, exactly as had been foretold by Moses. It was he whose teaching proved like myrrh for the world, bitter in taste but beautiful in its effects. It contained principles and rules all of which were calculated to promote the well-being of man, and which yet tasted bitter to some nations. And it is he who is called (and is true to the description) ‘Muhammad’.

Christian writers are wont to say that the beloved promised in this prophecy has been called Mahamaddim not Muhammad. But this objection does not go very far. The Old Testament name for God is Elohim. In Hebrew it is common to show consideration and reverence by using a plural for a single person.

A second prophecy in the Song of Solomon, is also present. This is in 4:9-12. In these verses Solomon addresses his beloved as both sister and spouse (4:9; 4:10; 4:12). The simultaneous use of the two forms of address—sister and spouse—is not without significance. "Sister" indicates that the Promised Prophet would be an Ishmaelite, one of the brethren of the Israelites; and "spouse" indicates that the Message of the Promised Prophet will not be confined to his own people, as were the Messages of all the Israelite Prophets. It would be open to other nations and peoples as well.

We should not be misled by the feminine form of address used here. The passage is couched in poetical language, full of metaphors. The last line of the chapter uses the masculine form, which is contradictory, but significant. Thus we have:

"Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.”

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The prophecy (4:9-12), therefore, applies only to the Holy Prophet of Islam. Jesus was not one of the brethren of Israel, nor was his teaching addressed to any people other than Israel.

A third prophecy is in the Song of Solomon (1:5-6):

I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black.

From this description it appears that Solomon foretold the advent of a Prophet who would come from the south, and he (or his people) would be black of skin as compared with the descendants of Isaac. It is well-known that the people of Syria and Palestine have a fairer complexion than the people of Arabia. The Prophet of Islam was an Arab.

Fourthly, in the same place another sign of the Promised One is given as follows:

My mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. 81

This is a description of the people to which the Promised One was to belong. The Arabs, at the advent of the Prophet of Islam, were an unambitious people. They accepted employment under Romans and Iranians, but of their own country they thought but little. The Holy Prophet came and Arabia rose from her slumber.

The result was an Arab-led world movement embracing every conceivable side of human progress – spiritual, intellectual, political. The Arabs became the keepers not only of their own vineyard, but of the vineyards of the whole world.

Fifthly, the Song of Solomon also contains a warning for Israel: they are told not to meddle with the Promised Prophet. Thus in 2:7 we have:

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

The theme is continued in the Song in 3:5 and in 8:4. These passages only mean that when the Promised Prophet appeared, Jews and Christians, two branches of Israel, would oppose and oppress him; but as the Prophet would be a God-appointed Prophet, they would not succeed, but would instead suffer an ignominious defeat. Solomon, accordingly, warned his people saying: I charge you, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. The Israelites, both Jews and Christians, were advised to do nothing to the Promised Prophet. When his influence spread to their land, they should accept him. It would not do to oppose him and to try to stem the tide of his influence. Opposition would spell the opponents’ own destruction. For a people who meddle with a Prophet’s mission become liable to divine punishment. The warning proved true. Jews and Christians became meddlesome and brought divine punishment upon themselves. If a people remain passive and show no hostility to a Prophet, he adopts no violent steps against them but confines himself to teaching and preaching. Occasionally, a Prophet draws the sword, but only against those who first draw the sword against him. He makes war only upon those who first make war upon him and seek to put down by force and oppression the Message sent by God. The Holy Prophet’s example illustrates this point. It was the risk entailed by thoughtless hostility to a true Message against which Solomon warned.

These prophecies cannot possibly apply to Jesus. Jesus did not appear from the south of Palestine. Nor was he one of the brethren of Israel. Nor did he have the means to resist and to destroy the opposition of Israel. The prophecies apply only to the Prophet of Islam. He is the beloved of the Song of Solomon. The Song is, in fact, a rapturous description of the Prophet.

Further prophecies, especially in the Books of Isaiah and Daniel can be read in the original text here.

Prophecies Given by Jesus

The text of this section was collated and edited from Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an by Hazrat Mirza Bashirruddin Mahmud Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him. You can read the full work here.

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(a) In Matthew (21:33-46) we read:

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first; and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, they will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes! Therefore say I unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

In this beautiful parable Jesus has presented an epitome of the history of Prophets. The passage leaves no doubt that vineyard means the world; husbandmen mean mankind at large; fruits which the householder wishes to collect mean virtue, piety and devotion to God; servants mean Prophets who have been coming into the world one after the other; son means Jesus who appeared after a long line of Prophets.

The son was dishonoured and slain by the husbandmen. Having said this, Jesus goes on to speak of "the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner." The stone, which had been rejected is the progeny of Ishmael, whom the sons of Isaac used to treat with contempt. According to the prophecy, one from among the sons of Ishmael was to appear and become the head of the corner, "the Seal of the Prophets", to use the well-known expression of the Qur’an. No ordinary Prophet, but one who would bring a final and complete Law from God.

The advent of an Ishmaelite for the grand office would seem strange too. Yet (as Jesus says) God would take away His kingdom from the Israelites and give it to the Ishmaelites, who would prove a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, that is, a people who would keep alive the worship of God in the world. Everybody should be able to see that the only outstanding Prophet who came after Jesus and who could be said to answer to this description is the Holy Prophet of Islam.

He it was who came into conflict with Judaism and Christianity and completely shattered the influence of both. He it was whose race was hated. Of him alone could it be truly said, "Whosoever fell on him was broken and on whomsoever he fell was ground to powder."

(b) In Matthew (23:38-39) we have:

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

The verses mean that Jesus is going to depart from his people and his people will not be able to see him again, until they declare: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

There is a prophecy here of two advents. One after the departure of Jesus; this was to be like the advent of God. The other was the second advent of Jesus himself. It is made clear that until the one who "cometh in the name of the Lord" has come, the second coming of Jesus will not take place. We have proved above that one who comes in the name of the Lord is the one resembling Moses. The prophecy of Jesus and the certain fact of the advent of Islam and its Holy Prophet leave no doubt that in the divine scheme the advent of Jesus was not to mark the last great stage in spiritual advance. The last stage was to be marked by the advent of one coming "in the name of the Lord." It cannot be said that after him Jesus is to come again, so the last stage in spiritual advance will still be marked by Jesus. The point is made clear by Jesus himself. Did he not say: Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. 113

Only they will see, receive and acknowledge Jesus on his second coming who will first have accepted and acknowledged "the like of Moses." A denier of "the like of Moses" will not be able to recognize Jesus when he comes a second time. And why not? Because Jesus when he comes again will be found among the followers of "the like of Moses." Only they will be able to believe in the second coming of Jesus who will first have believed in "the like of Moses." Jesus, therefore, when he comes a second time, will be no independent Teacher. He will be a strict follower and an image of "the like of Moses." The last stage of spiritual advance, therefore, will be marked by this "like of Moses," and by no one else.

(c) We read in John (1:20-21) that people went to John the Baptist, and asked him if he were the Christ of the prophecy, and he said, No. Then they…Asked him, what then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. 114 Then they asked him, Art thou that prophet? And he answered, 115 And then they said, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 116

It is evident from this that three prophecies were current in the time of Jesus: (i) the second coming of Elias; (ii) the birth of Christ; (iii) the coming of that Prophet, that is, the Promised One of the prophecy in Deuteronomy. The three were believed to be separate persons. Now Jesus has declared that John himself is Elias. Thus in Matthew (11:14) we have: And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. From Luke (1:17). It also appears that before the birth of John, his father Zacharias had the revelation: And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias. Then in Mark (9:13) we have Jesus declaring: That Elias is indeed come. And again in Matthew (17:12): That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. From all these passages, it is clear that according to the Gospels, the second coming of Elias had taken place in John.

As for Christ, it is agreed that he is no other than Jesus of the New Testament.

Only "that Prophet" remains. He is neither John, nor Jesus, because he is different from both, a third. It is also known that "that Prophet" had not appeared until the time of Jesus. So it is clear that "that Prophet" of the Bible had to appear, according to the testimony of the Gospels, some time after Jesus. After Jesus, no one has claimed to be "that Prophet" and indeed no one seems to fulfil the signs attributed to "that Prophet" except the Holy Prophet of Islam.

(d) In Luke (24:49) we have:

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endowed with power from on high.

From this verse also it appears that after Jesus there was to be another. And who is he except the Holy Prophet? No one excepting him has ever made the claim.

(e) In John (14:26) we have:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

This prophecy also is true only of the Prophet of Islam. True, it says "whom the Father will send in my name." But "in my name" can only mean, "He will bear testimony to my truth." The Holy Prophet testified to the truth of Jesus as a divine and honoured Teacher and Prophet and declared them mistaken and misguided who thought him accursed. The prophecy says clearly, "He shall teach you all things." The words are reminiscent of those used in the prophecy in Deuteronomy. The description applies only to the Holy Prophet; and it was his teaching which brought comfort to the world.

(f) In John (16:7-14) we have:

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The prophecy lays down that the Comforter will come after the departure of Jesus. When the Comforter comes, he will reprove the world of sin and truth and justice. Of sin, because he will accuse the Jews of disbelief in Jesus. Of truth, because he will correct the erroneous belief in the resurrection of Jesus, and because he will assure the world that Jesus of Nazareth—the Teacher who appeared to Israel—will not again come into the world in person. Of justice, because he will put an end to all satanic forces. The prophecy also says that when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide them into all truth that the book revealed to him will contain no human word, that he will foretell things to come, and that he will glorify Jesus and clear him of all charges.

This prophecy unmistakably applies to the Holy Prophet. It says quite clearly that unless Jesus departs, the Comforter cannot come. From Acts (3:21-22) it also appears that the Prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18:18 is to appear sometime between the departure of Jesus and his second coming. The Comforter, therefore, is no other than the Promised One of Deuteronomy 18:18.

The prophecy says that the Promised One will reprove the deniers of Jesus. The Promised One could not be a Christian. It is but usual for followers to reprove the deniers of their Prophet. The prophecy must relate to one who would belong to another people, with no racial or religious connection with Jesus but being truthful and God-sent, he should respect the cause of all true Prophets and promote respect and reverence for them all. The Prophet of Islam was an Ishmaelite, not a Christian or Jew. But how he defends the honour of Jesus! Referring to the Jews the Qur’an (4:158-161) says:

And their saying, We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it: they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty; on the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise; and there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it before his death; and on the day of Resurrection, he (Jesus) shall be a witness against them. So, because of the transgression of the Jews, We forbade them pure things, which had been allowed to them, and also because of their hindering many men from Allah’s way.

The excesses of the Jews were their disbelief, their cruel charge against Mary, and their utterly false claim that they had put to death Jesus, a Messenger of God. The truth about this claim was that they had failed to kill Jesus either by the sword or by crucifixion. They had only strong suspicion that Jesus had died on the Cross. But it was only a suspicion, not a certain belief. They themselves continued to differ among themselves and had no agreed view as to what had really happened to Jesus. Possessing no certain knowledge, they merely speculated. But this is certain that they failed in their design to put Jesus to death. Allah, on the other hand, saved him from an accursed death on the Cross and admitted him to the circle of His favoured ones, and Allah is both Powerful and Wise. Every follower of the Book will continue to affirm his belief in the death of Jesus on the Cross, but on the Judgement Day Jesus himself will depose against them all and accuse them of affirming a falsehood. Because of these excesses of the Jews, God withdrew from them those heavenly blessings, which formerly seemed their birthright. The passage speaks for itself.

A second sign in the prophecy of John (16:7-14) is that the Promised One will correct the erroneous belief in the resurrection of Jesus and prove that Jesus, the Israelite, will not come to the world again. This duty was duly performed by the Holy Prophet of Islam; he exposed the error that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven where he was still alive. Says the Qur’an (5:117-119):

And when Allah will say, 'O Jesus, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, 'Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?' He will answer, 'Holy art Thou. I could never say that to which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind; and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things. I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me—'Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.' And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the watcher over them; and Thou art witness over all things. If Thou punish them, they are Thy servants; and if Thou forgive them, Thou surely art the Mighty, the Wise.'

The interrogation and the reply are to take place on the Judgement Day. The passage declares that Jesus is dead, and not alive in heaven; only his followers raised him to godhead after he had died and departed from this world. Ascending to heaven only means that, having done his duty, he had gone to his Maker, honoured and successful.

The prophecy (John 16:7-14) also said that Satan and satanic forces will be smashed at the hands of the Promised One. Of all the Prophets, the Prophet of Islam stands pre-eminent in the designing of measures against all satanic forces and influences and for the promotion of purity and piety in human life. We cannot go into a detailed exposition of such points here. The reader will find it elsewhere in this work. We may only say that at least one visible proof of this claim of ours on behalf of the Prophet is the prayer for protection against the influence of Satan which the Prophet taught his followers, and on the frequent use of which he insisted, viz., I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the rejected. The prayer is in habitual use by Muslims. We know of nothing like it in the teachings of other Prophets. Muslims, more than any other people, are alive to their daily duty of defeating the designs of Satan. They, more than any other people, have been taught this duty. They, more than any other people, are deserving of the promise contained in the prophecy. Their Prophet, therefore, will be said to have fulfilled the prophecy. To kill Satan, however, is not to kill him outright, so that his influence no longer remains in the world. This has never happened and never will happen. Satanic influences and temptations must remain. Without them faith will have no value. To kill Satan, therefore, is to reduce evil influences and propensities to a minimum, and to promote good influences and dispositions to a maximum. The Church cannot lay claim to this part of the prophecy because the Church has declared the Law a curse and cast doubt over the very conceptions of good and evil. The words in the prophecy—"he will guide you into truth"—we have already explained in our discussion of the prophecy contained in Deuteronomy 18:18.

Of the promise—"he will show you things to come"—we need only say that no other Prophet has told the world of things to come so much as has the Prophet of Islam.

Of the sign—"he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak"—we should say that the description can apply only to the Prophet of Islam. The New and the Old Testaments do not contain a single book in which man’s word has not been mixed with God’s. The Qur’an is nothing but the word of God from beginning to end. Not a word even of the Prophet is to be found in it, let alone anybody else’s.

The last sign in the prophecy—"he will glorify me"—also applies to the Holy Prophet. For it is he who cleared Jesus of the charge that, having died on the Cross, he met an accursed death; and of the charge that, having claimed Godhead for himself, Jesus had been guilty of disobedience and disloyalty to God; and of the other foul charges which the Jews had brought against him:

(g) In The Acts (3:21-24) we have:

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

The verses contain a reference to the prophecy in Deuteronomy and the clear hint that until the Prophet promised in the prophecy in Deuteronomy has come, the second coming of Jesus will not take place. The prophecy in Deuteronomy said that the Promised Prophet would bring a new Law. Reference to this in The Acts means clearly that the teaching of Jesus will be superseded by the teaching of the Promised One. A new Law can have no other meaning. The Prophet promised in the prophecy in Deuteronomy (and in this passage from The Acts), therefore, was to mark the last stage in the spiritual advance of man. For he was to supersede Moses and Jesus and give the world a new Teaching and a new Law. The passage from The Acts points to another significant sign of the Promised One. It says:

All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

The prophecy of Moses we have already cited. As Jesus came after Samuel, this verse from The Acts can only mean that from Moses to Jesus every Prophet has foretold the advent of a Prophet, which means that until this Prophet appears the spiritual foundations on which man must build will not have been completely laid. As this Prophet, according to the signs of the Bible, is no other than the Holy Prophet of Islam, we must admit that the Holy Prophet is the Promised One of all Prophets and his Law is the Law prophesied by all Prophets. Who can then say that even while the Old and the New Testaments existed in the world the Qur’an was a redundance? All the earlier Prophets have pointed to the need of the Qur’an and prophesied about it. No reasonable plea can be urged by their followers now against the Qur’an. We can only say that if they deny the need of the Qur’an, they will cast doubts on the truth of their own Prophets and the truth of the prophecies which they made. Did not Moses say:

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the Prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him. 118

References

  1. Tarikh-ul-Khamis, Vol.I
  2. Sahih-ul-Bukhari, Bad’-ul-Wahi
  3. I Samuel 25:32
  4. I Kings 1:48
  5. I Chronicles 16:36
  6. II Chronicles 6:4
  7. Psalms 72:18
  8. Matthew 7:6
  9. Gotama Smrti:12
  10. Atharva-Veda IV, 22:7
  11. Sama-Veda Part II, ix, iii, 9
  12. Sama-Veda Part II, ix, iii, 8
  13. Atharva-Veda XIX, 28:4
  14. Gotama-dharm Sut. v
  15. Manu Dharm Shastra
  16. Holy Qur’an, 10:17
  17. Holy Qur’an, 3:165
  18. Holy Qur’an, 9:128
  19. Holy Qur’an, 39:72
  20. Holy Qur’an, 6:131
  21. Holy Qur’an, 23:33
  22. Holy Qur’an, 16:85
  23. Holy Qur’an, 7:66
  24. Holy Qur’an, 7:74
  25. Holy Qur’an, 7:86
  26. Holy Qur’an, 11:63
  27. Holy Qur’an, 11:88
  28. Matthew 5:17-18
  29. Matthew 15:24
  30. Matthew 18:11
  31. Matthew 28:19
  32. Matthew 19:28
  33. Matthew 15:24
  34. Matthew 15:26
  35. Matthew 10:5-6
  36. Matthew 10:23
  37. Acts 11:19
  38. Acts 11:2-3
  39. Holy Qur’an, 7:159
  40. (Suk. 20a) Jewish Encyclopaedia, Vol.5, p.322
  41. (Sanh. 21b) Jewish Encyclopaedia, Vol.5, p.322
  42. (Ab. R. N. xxxiv) Jewish Encyclopaedia, Vol.5, p.322
  43. Apocrypha; II ESDRAS, 14
  44. Apocrypha; II ESDRAS, 14
  45. Sahih-ul-Muslim, Kitab-ul-Iman
  46. Sahih-ul-Bukhari; Kitab-ul-‘Itq
  47. Holy Qur’an, 2:244
  48. Holy Qur’an, 20:91
  49. Holy Qur’an, 7:84
  50. Genesis 9:25
  51. Matthew 21:9
  52. Matthew 27:46
  53. John 3:2
  54. Mark 5:41
  55. Commentary of the Bible, Horn, 1882, Vol.4, Pt.2. chap.2
  56. Eusebius in his History of the Church, Vol.3, chap.3
  57. Encyclopaedia Biblica, p.4993, Vol. IV
  58. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12th edition, p.646, Vol. III
  59. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12th edition, p.643, Vol. III
  60. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12th edition, p.643, Vol. III
  61. Genesis 12:2-3
  62. Holy Qur’an, 2:125-29
  63. Deuteronomy 18:15
  64. Deuteronomy 18:18-20
  65. Matthew 5:17-18
  66. Galatians, 3:12-13
  67. Psalms, 132:11; Jeremiah, 23:5
  68. Holy Qur’an, 2:76
  69. Holy Qur’an, 5:4
  70. Deuteronomy 18:20
  71. Holy Qur’an, 5:68
  72. Holy Qur’an, 72:27-28
  73. Fasl-ul-Khitab
  74. Holy Qur’an, 3:5
  75. Holy Qur’an, 3:6
  76. Sahih-ul-Bukhari
  77. Holy Qur’an, 3:6
  78. Song of Solomon, 5:9
  79. Song of Solomon, 5:13
  80. Song of Solmon, 4:16
  81. Song of Solomon, 1:6
  82. Holy Qur’an, 7:159
  83. Holy Qur’an, 9:100
  84. Holy Qur’an, 33:24
  85. Holy Qur’an, 100:2-6
  86. Isaiah 5:30
  87. Matthew 5:17-18
  88. Mark 2:19-20
  89. Matthew 27:42, 44
  90. Matthew, 21:4, 5 and 27:11; Luke, 23:1-3
  91. Matthew, 21:33-44
  92. Matthew, 21:40
  93. Matthew, 21:41
  94. Matthew, 21:42-44
  95. Holy Qur’an, 58:13
  96. Holy Qur’an, 42:39
  97. Izalat-ul-Khifa’ ‘an Khilafat-ul-Khulafa’
  98. Deuteronomy, 18:18
  99. Holy Qur’an, 8:18
  100. Holy Qur’an, 48:11
  101. Holy Qur’an, 34:29-31
  102. Sirat Ibni Hisham
  103. Sahih-ul-Bukhari
  104. Isaiah, 9:7
  105. The Caliphate; Futuh-ul-Buldan
  106. Isaiah, 9:7
  107. Holy Qur’an, 22:79
  108. Daniel, 2:31-35
  109. Daniel 2:37-45
  110. Daniel 2:33
  111. Daniel 2:34-35
  112. Daniel 2:35
  113. Matthew, 23:39
  114. John 1:21
  115. John 1:21
  116. John 1:25
  117. The Acts 3:24
  118. Deuteronomy 18:22

Al-Fatiha – the Opening

  1. In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
  2. All Praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the Worlds
  3. The Gracious, the Merciful,
  4. Master of the Day of Judgement
  5. Thee Alone do we Worship and Thee Alone do we implore for help
  6. Guide us in the Straight Path
  7. The Path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings
  8. Not of those who incurred displeasure

    Nor of those who have gone astray

    (Holy Qur’an, 1:1-7)

***

The Holy Qur’an is a limitless ocean of spiritual treasure. This cannot truly be appreciated without exploring the Qur’an yourself, and living by its teachings. So that you can gain a sample of its beauties, we here present a translation and commentary on the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an, comprising only 7 verses. We will present first an overview of the commentary, before providing in-depth excerpts from the writing of the Promised Messiahas on each verse. For those truly wishing to understand the Qur’an, or taste its wisdom, this commentary will be invaluable.

Overview

The following commentary was written by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, a son of the Promised Messiahas.

***

This chapter, known as Sura-Al-Fatihah, is sometimes called the ‘Mother of the Book’ because the rest of the Qur’an is, in fact, a commentary on this chapter in which God teaches man to pray to Him for guidance on the right path. We read at the beginning of the next chapter:

This is a perfect book; there is no doubt in it. It is a guidance for the righteous. (2:2)

We find in the Qur’an short sketches of the lives of previous prophets on whom God has bestowed His favours and warns us to avoid the evil ways of the enemies of God concerning which we seek protection in the words of the prayer: ". . . those who have not incurred Thy displeasure and those who have not gone astray."

The Qur’an frequently refers to the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam sa and the evil practices of his enemies. The reader should understand why Sura Al-Faatihah was placed at the beginning of the Qur’an although it was not the first one to be revealed. It commences:

Verse 1

Bismi-Llahir-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem

‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.’

These words should be recited before commencing any undertaking, great or small. They embody a prayer appealing especially to the two attributes of God:

Ar-Rahmaan — The Gracious; and Ar-Raheem —The Merciful.

The word Allah occurring in the verse is the distinctive name of the Supreme Being and is never used for any other thing or being.

The word Ar-Rahmaan (the Gracious) signifies the free and gratuitous providence of God. All bounties vouchsafed to mankind which have not been earned fall under this attribute. The word signifies the Giver of the best and highest reward for virtue. God has thus taught us to invoke the Rahmaan (the Gracious) for all the needs required for any undertaking and then to pray to Ar-Raheem (the Merciful) imploring for the highest reward for the labour performed. The Qur’an which is a guidance for mankind springs from the first (i.e., Ar-Rahmaan, the Gracious) of these two attributes and is, therefore, placed first. The fruits of acting upon this guidance follow and depend upon the second attribute Ar-Raheem, the Merciful. v

Verse 2

The next verse is:

(Alhamdu liLlahi rabb-il-`alameen)

‘All praise belongs to Allah alone, Lord of all the worlds.’

The word (Rabb) signifies both the act of creating and developing. God is not, therefore, only the Creator of all things but also develops them to the highest stage of perfection. The word rabb stands in beautiful contrast with the word (Abb) meaning father which we hear so much about in Christianity means only father while Rabb means God the Creator, Developer and Sustainer.

No doubt, the ties which join a son with his father are strong but they are insignificant with the ties that join one to one’s Creator, Developer and Sustainer. A father is related to his son through the fact that he happened to be a means of bringing him into existence while the word Rabb signifies a far stronger and nobler tie. During a battle, the Holy Prophet of Islamsa drew attention to a woman who was hurrying here and there in great distress in search of her only child who had become lost. At last she found him lying on the ground and tears of joy trickled down her cheeks as she clasped him to her bosom. Although the love of a mother is stronger than the love of a father, the Holy Prophet sa said to his companions that the love that God has for His creatures far excels the love that this mother had for her son.

The words Rabbil `Aalameen (Lord of all the worlds) is a comprehensive term inasmuch as it signifies not only this earth and all the heavenly bodies, but also the different planes of existence. The God of Islam, Allah, is the Creator of the soul as well as the body. The words Rabbil Aalameen also points to the universality of the religion of Islam.

The verse teaches us to understand that God is the only Being to whom all praise is really due, for though man becomes the means of bringing into existence many things in this world, yet the real praise is due to God, for He it is who has endowed man with the different faculties necessary to plan and devise new things.

The verse conveys a great lesson not to forget and be ungrateful to God after every kind of achievement and good fortune. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, man credits himself and forgets God who is the real author of his achievements and who gave him the power, wisdom and strength to surmount his difficulties and attain success. This point is brought home in the next verse:

Verse 3

(Ar-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem)

‘The Gracious, the Merciful.’

While man does become the means of achieving success he must bear in mind that he has been enabled to become successful through the beneficence of God who is also Raheem (the Merciful) in rewarding him for his labours. Sometimes it happens that some unforeseen difficulties arise and the whole labour expended is brought to naught.

Verse 4

The next verse is:

Maaliki Yaum-id-deen

‘Master of the Day of Judgment’

The word Maalik, the Master sets up a distinction between the Divine Dispenser of rewards and punishments and an earthly administrator of justice. The latter is a mere judge and he cannot exercise the prerogative of mercy. God however is the Master and He cannot be accused of injustice if He gives an increased reward to the virtuous or shows mercy to the sinner.

Having so far dwelt on the principle attributes of Almighty God, the supplicant of this prayer, which comprises the first chapter of the Qur’an, now experiences a sudden change and actually begins to experience the presence of God. It is generally the case that when one recalls the special characteristics of a person or a thing, then the imagination immediately conjures up a picture of the same before the thinker. Such is the case here. Up to now God was referred to in the third person, but a lively description of His attributes at once produced the usual effect. Hence, all of a sudden, the supplicant finds himself in the glorious presence of his Lord and Master and turns to Him in all loving confidence, exclaiming:

Verse 5

Iyyaaka na`budu wa iyyaaka nasta`een

‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help.’

The word ibaadah, (i.e.,worship) means to throw oneself entirely before the Supreme Being with complete love, trust, fear and humility. It is not easy to make such a complete surrender. The world presents a network of good and evil influences. Hence the words

‘Thee alone do we ask for help’.

No religion has provided a more meaningful and efficacious manner of worship than Islam. Every true Muslim cuts off all connection with the world and its affairs and stands in an attitude of devotion before his beloved Lord and Master five times a day. Then are his eyes truly closed to the world and his soul holds communion with God and on receiving a new life from Him, and inspired with fresh energy and zeal, he turns to fight his way through the hostile elements of the world. Again, as the sickening vices of this world grow heavy on him the pilgrim again resorts to his favorite beverage and drinks deep at the fountain of Divine love. This goes on till the wayfarer reaches his goal and passing through the inevitable gate of death he throws himself to rest in the bosom of his Lord and Master. The next verse is:

Verse 6

‘Guide us on the straight path.’

Ihdina-ssiraat-al mustaqeem

The word Ihdinaa signifies the showing of the right path as well as keeping on the right path and progressing along it. Islam does not limit the spiritual progress of man, hence the comprehensive prayer which is offered by both him who has not yet discovered the right path and by him who is well advanced on it. Even the righteous prophets of God need this prayer because the stages of nearness to God are endless. Again the prayer is not restricted to any specific purpose, but one may resort to this prayer for whatever one may require. The word occurring in the verse appropriately signifies the sense of straightness, and hence a Muslim prays for the shortest way and most effective means for the attainment of his objectives. The last verse is:

Siraat-allazeena an`amta alaihim, ghairil magh-doobi alaihim wa ladh-daal-leen

‘The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours, those who have not incurred Thy displeasure and those who have not gone astray.’

Elsewhere, the Qur’an explains that the favoured people comprise the prophets, the truthful (saints), the martyrs and the righteous (4:70). Thus a Muslim has before him the loftiest ideal conceivable when he prays to be guided on the path of the chosen ones of God.

One precaution, however, is needed. It happens sometimes that one wins the favour of one’s beloved but then some unforeseen thing happens and everything comes to a naught. Either something happens which causes the displeasure of the beloved and thus the lover loses the favor gained, or sometimes faithlessness on the part of the lover himself, turns his mind from the object of his love. In order to guard against both these contingencies, the prayer is supplemented by the words, ‘The path of those who have not incurred Thy displeasure and those who have not gone astray.’

We learn from the sayings of the Holy Prophetpsa buh of Islam that the people specially referred to in those who have incurred displeasure were the Jews upon whom God showed His choicest blessings but who by their persistent transgressions, particularly against Jesus, incurred the wrath of God while the people referred to in those who have gone astray are the Christians who forsook the teachings of Jesus by later on deifying him.

The last verse embodies a mighty prophecy and deserves special attention. It is made incumbent upon every Muslim to pray that he may be saved from following the ways of the Jews and also the Christians who have set up equals to God. This verse was revealed in Mecca where the most bitter enemies of Islam at that time were idol worshippers as the Jews and Christians had not yet stood in the way of Islam.

Thus, the verse refers to the time when the people would be susceptible of becoming Jews and Christians which pointed to the advent of the Promised Messiahas which was to take place in the time of the ascendancy of the Christians.

The Messiah has appeared in the person of Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas.

***

Order of the Verses

A deeper study of this short chapter (Surah Fatihah) reveals another beauty which lies in the wonderful relationship between the attributes of God and the prayers which follow them in serial order. The attributes mentioned in the first part of the chapter are in order:

  1. All praise belongs to Allah, the Creator and Developer of the worlds.
  2. The Gracious.
  3. The Giver of best rewards.
  4. Master of the Day of Judgment.

Corresponding to them we have the prayers which follow:

  1. Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help.
  2. Guide us on the straight path.
  3. The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours.
  4. Those who have not incurred Thy displeasure and those who have not gone astray.

Brief reflection will reveal the perfect correlation and symmetry in the order of the prayers.

Commentary

The following commentaries were written by the Promised Messiahas. They are collected in the book Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Vol. 1. What follows are some brief extracts from this magnificent volume.

***

Verse 1

In the name (ism) of Allah, the Gracious (Rahman), the Merciful (Rahim)

May Allah grant you the knowledge of His attributes and lead you on to the ways that please Him and guide you to the paths that have His approval. Know then that the word ISM (‘name’) that occurs in Bismillah is a derivative of wasm and wasmun in Arabic means the mark left by branding. In Arabic ittasamarrajulu is used when a person chooses for himself a mark of identification by means of which people distinguish him from others. Simatul baeer and wisamul baeer are also considered derivatives of wasmun and mean branding a special mark on a camel to serve as its distinguishing mark. The phrase innitawassumtu fihilkhaira wa ma raaituzzair, i.e. I scanned his face and found only good in it, I perceived no trace of evil in it; is also derived from the same root. The word wasmiyyunis also derived from it; it means the first spring rain, for, when it falls, it leaves marks on the earth formed by the strong current of water, as springs carve out channels in their course. …

(Thus)…in popular parlance the ism (name) of a thing stands for its distinguishing mark but, in the view of the learned, it signifies its reality. It is a fact that the names given by Allah to things signify their properties. In this blessed verse, the names Allah, Rahman and Rahim possess that characteristic. Each one of them denotes its particular properties and its nature. Allah is the name of the Being who combines in Himself all excellences. Rahman and Rahim indicate that both these are attributes of Allah Who combines in Himself every kind of perfection and every kind of beauty.

Again, the word Rahman has a particular meaning of its own which is not shared by the word Rahim and that is that by Divine command the beneficence of Rahman has extended to man and beast from time immemorial, by virtue of the dictates of Divine Wisdom in accord with the capacity of the recipient and not as a bounty in a uniform measure in all cases. In the operation of this attribute of grace (Rahmaniyyat) no effort on the part of manor beast plays any role. It is in fact the pure grace of Allah. It is a universal bounty that proceeds from God the Most High, which is totally independent of the effort of any imperfect or perfect person. In short, the grace of Rahmaniyyat is not the reward of any one's efforts nor a recognition of any right. On the contrary, it is God's special grace unrelated to obedience or want of it and this grace descends always by the command and will of Allah, independent of any worship, obedience, righteousness or self-denial. This grace is antecedent to the creation of man and beast and to any effort or supplication on their part. The beneficence of this grace has pervaded through every stage of existence and at all times and places, irrespective of obedience or disobedience. Do not you see the Rahmaniyyat of Allah, the Supreme, extending over both the virtuous and the vicious? The sun and the moon shed their light and lustre alike on the saint and the sinner. Allah has created everything fully equipped with its appropriate faculties and has charged Himself with the affairs of all. There is not a living creature treading the earth or in the heavens but He provides for it. He has raised for them trees bringing forth fruits, flowers and fragrance. This is a mercy that Allah prepared for His creatures before He created them and in this there is an admonition for the God-fearing. These gifts have been bestowed by Allah, the Compassionate, the Lord of creation, without reference to any effort or merit or right of the recipient. There are yet other gifts bestowed by the Lord of Majesty, which are beyond computation, like the means of sustaining health created by Him and the variety of devices and means of healing for every kind of ailment and the commissioning of Prophets and revelation of Books through Messengers. All this is evidence of the Rahmaniyyat of our Most Compassionate Lord. This is pure grace and not in response to the works of a worker nor in answer to a distress call or a prayer.

But Rahimiyyat is a special beneficence, distinct from the grace of Rahmaniyyat and concerned exclusively with the evolution of the human species and the perfection of human nature. It is contingent upon effort and righteous activity and total suppression of selfish desires. This aspect of Divine mercy does not manifest itself except in response to the utmost effort in working righteousness and after purification of self and complete sincerity of conduct without the least ostentation and a readiness to suffer death for the sake of winning the pleasure of the Lord of glory. Truly fortunate are those who become the recipients of these bounties. They are true men; the rest are but animals.Minanur-Rahman, marginal note relating to pages 4 and 5.

Here a question is raised which needs to be set down together with its answer so that those gifted with understanding may reflect on it. In Bismillah, Allah has chosen to mention only two of His attributes, Rahman and Rahim, out of all His numerous attributes and the verse does not mention any other Divine attribute; while His supername Allah comprises all perfect Divine attributes, as they find mention in the Holy Scriptures, and the larger the number of Divine attributes that may be invoked the greater the blessing.

The Bismillah thus demands that it should be invested with the honour of comprising numerous Divine attributes. This seems to follow also from the Holy Prophet's injunction that Bismillah should be recited before initiating any important measure. This verse is the one oftenest to be recited by the tongues of the followers of the faith and is most often repeated in the Book of the Mighty Lord. What then is the wisdom and the philosophy underlying the omission of other Divine attributes in this blessed verse?

The answer is that Allah chose to attach in this context to His Supername the two Divine attributes that epitomize fully all His other great attributes and these two are Rahman and Rahim. Reason also points in the same direction. Allah manifests Himself in the universe at times as the Lover and at times as the Beloved, and these two attributes shed the light of the sun of Providence upon the earth of obedience. Allah in turn becomes the Beloved with the worshipper becoming the Seeker (lover) of this sought-after (beloved) and at times the worshipper (man) becomes the object of love (beloved) and God his Lover, choosing him as His objective.

There is not the least doubt that human nature being endowed with love, friendliness and yearning, man yearns for a Beloved who should draw him towards Himself through manifestations of beauty and bounty and that he should have a loving and comforting Friend Who should stand by him in times of fear and distress, secure him against the failure of his effort and fulfil his hopes. Allah, therefore, determined upon granting man in full measure that which his nature demanded and to perfect His favour unto him through His vast bounty. He, therefore, chose to manifest Himself to man through His attributes of Rahman and Rahim. There is no doubt that these two attributes are a link between Divine Providence and human submission and by means of these two the circle of human insight into the Divine and human journey towards Him becomes complete.

All other Divine attributes are comprehended in the refulgent light of these two attributes and are but drops in the vastness of their ocean. Again, just as Allah the Supreme determined for Himself that He should be form an both the Beloved and the Lover so He determined in respect of His most obedient servants that they too should be for their fellow-beings, in their characters and dispositions, reflections of His Being, making these two attributes their coverings and garments, so that submission may don the raiment of Providence and there should be left no deficiency in the spiritual evolution of man. He thus raised Prophets and Messengers as mirrors, some reflecting His attribute Rahman and others portraying His attribute Rahim so that they should be both seekers and sought, loving and loved, living in mutual accord and affection through His vast grace, granting to some of them a large share of the attribute of being loved and to others a large share of the attribute of loving. Thus did He determine through His vast grace and His eternal beneficence.

Verse 2

All Praise (Hamd) Belongs to Allah

In the language of the Noble Qur’an, Allah is that Perfect Being Who is rightfully adored, combining in Himself all perfect attributes, and free from every defect, the One without associate and the Source of all beneficence; for, Allah, the Exalted, has, in His Holy word, the Noble Qur’an, made His name Allah comprehensive of all His other names and attributes and has not accorded that status to any other name. Therefore, the name Allah has primacy over all the other names of which it is comprehensive. Since it is the aggregate of all names and attributes, it combines in itself all the Perfect qualities. The meaning of Alhamdu lillahe then is that every type of praise, whether relating to external aspects or internal realities, whether relating to inherent excellences or as manifested in natural phenomena, is due exclusively to Allah. No other shares in it. Whatever true praise or perfect excellence the wisdom of the wise can imagine or the minds of thinkers can contemplate belong to Allah the Supreme. There is no excellence of which sane reason can contemplate the possibility but which Allah lacks. In other words, reason is not able to conceive of any excellence which is not comprehended among Divine attributes. He has all the excellences that any one can imagine and He is Perfect in His Being, in His attributes and qualities, in every respect and is totally free from every defect and shortcoming. Baraheen Ahmadiyyah, Vol. IV, pp. 364-365, Footnote 11.

The word hamd, used in this verse by the Lord of Glory, is the stem and is used both in the active and the passive sense that is, it is used both for the subject and the object and it signifies that Allah receives perfect praise and also bestows it. This interpretation derives support from the fact that Allah has followed up the word hamd with the mention of attributes that entail this meaning in the view of the discerning. In the word hamd, Allah, the Holy, has signified the qualities that subsist in His Eternal Light. In defining hamd, He has treated it as a veiled reality that uncovers its face on the recitation of the attributes Rahman and Rahim; for Rahman signifies that hamd is used in the active sense and Rahim signifies that it is used in the passive sense, as is not hidden from those who possess knowledge.Karamatus Sadiqeen p.64

Of the natural conditions of man is his search after an Exalted Being towards Whom he has an inherent attraction. This is manifested by an infant from the moment of its birth. As soon as it is born, it displays a spiritual characteristic that it inclines towards its mother and is inspired by love of her. As its faculties are developed and its nature begins to display itself openly, this inherent quality is displayed more and more strongly. It finds no comfort anywhere except in the lap of its mother. If it is separated from her and finds itself at a distance from her, its life becomes bitter. Heaps of bounties fail to beguile it away from its mother in whom all its joy is concentrated. It feels no joy apart from her. What, then, is the nature of the attraction which an infant feels so strongly towards its mother?

It is the attraction which the True Creator has implanted in the nature of man. The same attraction comes into play whenever a person feels love for another. It is a reflection of the attraction that is inherent in man’s nature towards God, as if he is in search of something that he misses, the name of which he has forgotten and which he seeks to find in one thing or another which he takes up from time to time. A person’s love of wealth or offspring or wife or his soul being attracted towards a musical voice are all indications of his search for the True Beloved. As man cannot behold with his physical eyes the Imperceptible Being, Who is latent like the quality of fire in everyone, but is hidden, nor can he discover Him through the mere exercise of imperfect reason, he has been misled grievously in his search and has mistakenly assigned His position to others. Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, p.80.

Verse 3

The Gracious (Rahman), The Merciful (Rahim)

When the time of our master the Chief and the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad, approached, Allah, the Exalted and the Holy determined to unite the two attributes in one person and combined them in his person (on whom be numberless blessings and the peace of Allah). That is why He has made reference to the attributes of loving and being loved at the beginning of this Surah that it may be a clear indication of His determination to that effect. He, therefore, named our Prophet Muhammad and Ahmad, as He named Himself Rahman and Rahim, in this verse. This juxtaposition indicates that no one combines these two concepts to perfection in his person by way of reflection except our Chief, the choicest of creation(on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah). It is well-known that these two attributes are the highest among all the attributes of the Unique Lord. In fact, these two are the quintessence and the core of the reality of all His attributive names. Indeed they are yardsticks for the spiritual evolution of a seeker who strives after perfection through becoming a manifestation of Divine attributes. No one has been granted a complete measure of these two except our Holy Prophet, the culmination of the Prophetic dispensation. He has been given two names by the grace of the Lord of the heavens and the earth parallel to these two attributes, the first being Muhammad and the second Ahmad. The name Muhammad thus donned the cloak of the attribute Rahman, manifesting himself in the raiment of glory and belovedness and has been praised exceedingly for his benefaction and beneficence. The name Ahmad appeared in the robe of the attribute Rahim and the role of lover and beauty by Allah's grace Who protects the believers with His support and help. Thus the two names of our Holy Prophet (on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah) are reflections of the two attributes of our Bounteous Lord, reflected in two mirrors facing one another. Rahmaniyyat denotes the spontaneous bestowal of beneficence on every animate, man or other, without reference to any preceding effort on the part of the beneficiary, as pure favour. Such gratuitous favour, which is not in return of any service rendered by any creature, draws the hearts of believers to praise, glorification and thanksgiving; and they eulogize their Benefactor, offering praise with sincere hearts and true intent; thus the Rahman becomes Muhammad (altogether praiseworthy), without a doubt. The Bestower of bounties of diverse kinds upon the people, without any claim on their part, becomes the object of the adoration of all who are thus favoured and this is a quality which is ingrained in human nature. When adoration matches in perfection the perfection of the beneficence, it takes on the character of perfect love and the Benefactor veritably becomes Muhammad (beloved) the object of their love in the eyes of the admirers. This is the culmination of the attribute Rahman. Reflect deep, therefore, like the wise. It should thus be evident to all those who are gifted within sight that surely Rahman is Muhammad (the greatly praised) and equally certainly that Muhammad (the greatly praised) is Rahman and without a doubt the culmination of both is one and the same. Only the ignorant will deny this truth. The nature of the attribute Rahimiyyat is the grant of rewards and bounties for true and sincere effort on the part of the inmates of mosques and not of the inmates of churches, so as to bring their effort to fruition through making good their shortcomings as may be done by helpers and supporters. There is no doubt that this type of graciousness is a response from he Compassionate (Rahim) Allah to the hamd (praise) offered by His creatures. For, He would not send down such bounty on a creature except after he has rendered His praise in an appropriate way and He is pleased with his effort and determines that he has merited His all-embracing grace. Have you not observed that He does not honour with His acceptance the works of disbelievers, polytheists, hypocrites and the arrogant? On the contrary, He renders their labours vain and does not guide them to Himself and does not help them, and leaves them destitute. Assuredly, He would not turn to any one with Rahimiyyat and would not bring his effort to fruition with His support and His help, unless He was pleased with his conduct and tribute of praise which was deserving of His mercy. When Divine commendation reaches its point of perfection in response to perfection in the effort of the sincere votary, then Allah becomes Ahmad (the lover) and the worshipping servant becomes Muhammad (the beloved). Holy is Allah, the first of all Muhammads (beloveds) and the first of all Ahmads (lovers).

It is at this point that a righteous servant, devout in duties of obedience, becomes a favourite in the Divine Presence. Allah then praises him from His Throne and He praises not any unless he is loved by Him. In short, it is the culmination of Rahmaniyyat that makes Allah a Muhammad (the loved one) and object of adoration and makes a creature Ahmad(the lover), a seeker who is ever running after his besought. It is the culmination of Rahimiyyat that makes Allah an Ahmad (the lover) and makes the votary a Muhammad (the loved one). Now you can truly appreciate the high status of our Prophet (on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), the great leader, for Allah named him Muhammad and Ahmad and did not call Jesus and Moses by these titles. Allah made him a manifestation of His attributes, Rahman and Rahim, for, His grace on him was great indeed. He set forth in Bismillah these two attributes of His so that people may realise that they stand for Allah as His sublime names and for His Prophet (on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah) as a robe of honour from His Presence. Allah named him Muhammad to indicate his quality of a loved one: and He named him Ahmad to indicate his quality of one loving and adoring. The name Muhammad was given because people do not praise highly and frequently any one unless such a one becomes the object of their love. The name Ahmad was given because no one praises highly and frequently unless he loves devotedly.

There is no question, therefore, that the name Muhammad carries with it the sense of being loved with unfailing consistency, and similarly, the name Ahmad carries with it, by the grace of the Lord of bounties and gifts, the sense of loving with ardour. There is not the least doubt that our Prophet was named Muhammad, because Allah had determined to make him beloved in His own sight and in the eyes of the righteous; and by the same token, He named him Ahmad, since He had determined that he should be a lover of His and also a lover of the faithful believers. He is, therefore, Muhammad in one aspect and Ahmad in the other. One of these two names was by virtue of its perfect manifestation especially associated with one age and the other by the same token with another age. This double aspect is indicated in the Divine Word: Then he (Muhammad) drew nearer (to Allah) and He (Allah) drew nearer to him (Muhammad), and it was a case, as it were, of one chord serving two bows, or closer still (53.9-10).

Since the particularization of this widely-obeyed and devoutly-obeying Prophet, with these encomiums from the Lord of mankind, could be apprehended as giving rise to polytheistic tendencies (association of the Prophet with God in Divine attributes) as was the case with Jesus Christ who was adored in consequence of such a tendency, Allah determined to make the true followers of the Prophet also manifestations reflecting these two attributes so as to make it a recurring favour unto them, dispelling, at the same time, the notion of a specially-favoured person sharing in Divine attributes. He, accordingly, made the companions of the Holy Prophet and those who came after them, manifestations of the attribute Muhammad illustrating the Rahmanical characteristics, decreeing for them victory, and enriching them with perpetual favours. He made the Promised Messiah a manifestation of the attribute Ahmad, investing him with the grace and beauty of Rahimiyyat and put in his heart compassion and tenderness, adorning him with excellent moral qualities. This is the promised Mahdi (Guided One) concerning whom they dispute and whom, even after witnessing the signs, they refuse to accept, thus adhering to falsehood and rejecting the truth.

This is the Promised Messiah but they recognise him not; they look at him and yet perceive not the reality. The attributes Isa (Jesus) and Ahmad are identical in their nature and similar in disposition and in their spirit signify grace and renunciation of war. The attribute Muhammad signifies majesty and dominance. These two names, Muhammad and Ahmad, are reflections of Rahman and Rahim. Do you not realise that the attribute Rahman which is the source of the inner reality of Muhammadiyyat, calls for glory in the same way as it signifies the quality of being loved? It is by virtue of His Rahmaniyyat that the Supreme Lord has subdued all animals to the service of man, the cow, the goat, the camel, the mule and the sheep and permitted the slaughter and destruction of the lower species on an extensive scale for the support and protection of the human species. Thus the attribute Rahmaniyyat signifies domination and glory; but by the same token, it turns into mercy on the part of the Loved One for whomsoever He desires to confer favour upon. Myriads of germs in the water and in the air are destroyed for the benefit of man and numberless cattle are slaughtered to the same end.

Verse 4

Master of the Day of Judgement

The fourth category of Divine grace is the most special grace. This aspect of grace does not manifest itself merely in response to effort and exertion. Its manifestation demands a total negation and utter annihilation of the dark and narrow realm of means and that the perfect might of the One and the only God should shine forth directly in its full splendour without the intermediary of any instrument. For, in respect of this ultimate grace the only addition and perfection that human wisdom can conceive of is that it should be manifested with the utmost clarity, excluding every possible doubt, reservation or imperfection, so that there should be no question concerning its deliberate bestowal on the part of the Gracious Bestower, nor concerning the reality and fullness of the grace, as a mercy. The munificence and requital of the Eternal Master should become manifest like the brightness of day. At the same time the recipient of grace should feel and realise with the highest degree of certitude that it is indeed the Sovereign of the kingdom Who has bestowed on him, by His will and command and special power, a mighty favour and a great delight and that in truth he is the recipient of full and lasting reward for his good deeds which is pure and superb, a prized and highly desired boon, and not any kind of test or trial.

The grant of such perfect, superb and enduring grace is contingent on the subject's migration from this imperfect, dim, dense, narrow, depressing, ephemeral and unstable realm. For, this grace is the culmination of the supreme manifestations of the unveiled Beauty of the Beneficent One, as an objective certainty transcending every degree of revelation, manifestation and certitude, without the least intervention of interpretative devices or means, with every degree of perfect cognisance emerging from potential into actual realisation. The manifestation of grace should be so clear and revealing as to bear Divine attestation that it is free from even a suspicion of trial or test. This manifestation of grace should further comprehend the highest and most refined pleasures, the pure and perfect quality of which should so completely absorb the heart and soul, the inside and outside, the body and life and every physical and spiritual capacity as should be beyond the power of reason, imagination or fancy to exceed. This world, which is imperfect, un-lovely, punishable, illusory, and has limited capacity is not suited to serve as a sphere for those grand manifestations, brilliant lights and eternal bounties, nor can it comprehend those full, perfect and enduring auroras. An altogether different realm is needed for the manifestation of that grace, totally independent of and free from the opaqueness of physical means, adequate to demonstrate the absolute and pure might of the Overpowering Unique Lord.

Yet a foretaste of this most special grace is vouchsafed in this very life to those perfect persons who tread wholeheartedly along the path of righteousness and discarding all personal desires and inclinations devote themselves utterly to God. For these, in truth, die before death overtakes them and though they subsist in this world they have their being in the hereafter. Thus, as they wean their minds away from all temporalities and make a break with human ways and values and, turning their faces away from everything beside Allah, adopt a transcendent mode, the Beneficent Lord also treats them in like fashion and manifests His light to them in a manner in which it is not manifested to others except after death, and thus they become recipients in this very life of a portion of the light of this most special grace.

This grace is the most exclusive of all graces and is the culmination of them. Its recipient attains to the apex of beatitude and ever-lasting felicity which is the fountain head of all joys, and he who is debarred from this grace is condemned to hell for a long period. By virtue of this grace, Allah has named Himself Malike Yaumiddeen (Master of the Day of Judgement) in the Holy Qur’an. The Judgement referred to here is the perfect requital defined in the Honoured Qur’an. That perfect requital, however, demands a perfect manifestation of full Divine Sovereignty, which excludes all instrumentality. This is reinforced in the Qur’an 40.17: To Whom does the Kingdom belong this day? It belongs to Allah, the One, the Most Supreme.

This means that on that day the Divine attribute of Providence will manifest itself independently of normal media and it will be seen and felt that nothing counts except the overpowering dominion and perfect sovereignty of the Exalted Lord. All comfort and joy and requital and reward will be seen as emanating directly from God, with no screen or barrier in between, nor will there be left any room for any doubt. Those who had withdrawn themselves from the world for His sake, will find a perfect state of felicity enveloping their bodies and souls and their exterior and interior leaving no part of them outside the embrace of this great happiness. The phrase Malike Yaumiddeen (Master of the Day of Judgment) also connotes that on that day every comfort and torment and pleasure and pain that mankind will experience shall proceed directly from the Divine Being and He will be in truth and in fact the sole Lord of Dispensation; that is to say nearness to Him or distance from Him will determine eternal happiness or everlasting misfortune, in the sense that on those who had believed in Him and had held fast to Divine Unity and had dyed their hearts with His pure love, the light of the mercy of that Perfect Being will descend clearly and manifestly, and those who did not have faith and did not experience Divine love, will be denied this joy and comfort and shall be in painful torment. Baraheen-Ahmadiyyah, pp. 371-382, Footnote 11

Verse 5

Thee Alone do we Worship & Thee Alone do we Implore for Help

In the juxtaposition: We worship Thee alone and we implore only Thy help; We worship Thee; takes precedence over: We implore only Thy help; for, man approaches God, the Supreme, in prayer, after having involved all his faculties in the subject matter of the prayer. It would be impertinent and insolent on his part to come to Him without using his faculties and without observing the requirements of the Law of nature. For instance, if a cultivator were to pray to God to bless his field with a plentiful harvest without preparing it and sowing any seed in it, he would be guilty of insolence and mockery. This is what has been called testing and trying God and that is forbidden. It has been said: Do not put God to trial; as has been explained in the context of a request made to Jesus (Peace be on him) by the disciples to pray for a banquet (5.113-116).

Deeply ponder it and reflect well. It is true that one who does not use his faculties and available means and rushes into prayer does not pray - he in fact tries God. It is, therefore, necessary to employ all one's faculties before submitting one's petition and this is the real significance of this prayer. It is necessary that tone should first take stock of one's beliefs and effort. It is the way of God to bring about a desired change through change in the means. He creates some factor, which becomes the means of the desired improvement. Those who consider that if prayer is available means become irrelevant should ponder this seriously. They should realise that prayer is in itself a means which activates other means. The precedence of: We worship Thee alone; over: We implore only Thy help; which is a supplication, emphasises this. Report of the proceedings of the Annual Conference 1897, p. 145.

In this verse Allah, the Lord of Glory and Majesty, has instructed the use of the first person plural, conveying thereby that this prayer is for the benefit of all brothers and not only for the benefit of the supplicant. Thus Allah urges the Muslims towards mutual accord, unity and love and requires that a supplicant should put himself to hardship for the promotion of his brother's welfare as he would put himself to hardship for the promotion of his own well-being and should concern himself with and strive to meet his brother's needs as he is concerned with and strives to meet his own needs, making no distinction between himself and his brother, and should be his brother's well-wisher, with all his heart as if Allah, the Sublime, had commanded: O My servants, give one another gifts of prayer as brothers and friends exchange gifts, and widen the scope of your prayers and your motives and your aims, making room in them for your brethren and become like brothers and fathers and sons in mutual affection. Karamatus Sadiqeen,pp. 77-80.

Welding together planning and prayer is Islam. That is why we continue to urge that one should plan as well as may be possible and pray as hard as possible, to be rid of sin and sloth. Both these aspects have been stressed in the very first chapter of the Holy Qur’an, the Fatiha, where we are instructed to pray: We worship Thee alone and we seek only Thy help. We worship Thee alone; calls for the practical effort needed and has been placed first so that man should first do everything appropriate in respect of necessary means and planning, but should at the same time, not neglect prayer; in fact, should keep it up along with practical effort. When a believer says: We worship Thee alone, it suddenly strikes him that he has no capacity to worship Allah, the Sublime, unless His grace favours and helps him. Therefore he immediately prays: We seek Thy help. This is a fine point which Islam alone of all religions has appreciated. Al-Hakam, Feb. 10, 1904.

Man boasts of worshipping God. But does worship only comprise many prostrations, repeated obeisance and standing at attention or do those who tell their beads over and over deserve to be called worshippers of God? Indeed not. Only he is capable of worship whom the love of God draws so close that his own self is excluded altogether. First, there should be full faith in the Existence of God and then full knowledge of His Beauty and Beneficence and then there should be the attachment of love with Him, constantly aflame in the bosom, radiating itself at all times in the face. The impression of His magnificence on the heart should be so deep that the entire world should appear like dead in contrast with Him; every fear should derive from Him alone and all pleasure should be in His love and all joy in seclusion with Him and no comfort without Him. If and when one's condition is such this is the state of true worship. But this state cannot be achieved without the special help of God, the Most Excellent. Therefore, the Supreme Being taught the prayer: We worship Thee alone and implore Thee alone for help; that is, we cannot carry out worship in the true sense unless there is special help forthcoming from Thee. Worshipping God as the real object of all love is true saintliness, beyond which there is no higher degree, but this is unattainable except with His help. It is attained when His magnificence is imprinted on the heart and the heart is filled with His love and relies totally on Him and chooses Him alone and prefers Him to all else, making His remembrance its only goal. This is a very narrow door and a very bitter draught. Few enter this door and few quaff this draught. Haqiqatul Wahi, pp. 51-52.

Verses 6-7

Guide Us in the Straight Path, The Path of Those on whom Thou hast Bestowed Thy Blessings

Observance of true virtue is treading the straight path which is also called following the middle way of moderation. For practical faith in Unity, which is the real objective, is attained through it. One who is slack in seeking this degree of righteousness, falls short and one who impels himself to go beyond is guilty of excess. For instance, being clement on every occasion is excess; for it is of the essence of virtue that the propriety of the place and occasion be duly observed. On the other hand, never showing mercy on any occasion is to fall short, for both occasion and place are missed. Putting everything in its proper place is moderation, and this is the straight path which it is the duty of every Muslim to tread. Supplication for the straight path has been prescribed for a Muslim in every Prayer service for this would keep him firmly established in the fundamental principle of Divine Unity. Being on the sirat-i-mustaqeem (Straight Path) is an attribute of God; besides the nature of sirat-i-mustaqeem is truth and wisdom. If truth and wisdom are exercised towards the creatures of God, that is virtue; if they are exercised in respect of God that means sincerity and righteousness; and if they are exercised towards oneself, that is purification of self. Sirat-i-mustaqeem comprises all three, virtue, sincerity of faith, and self-purification.

It should be understood that sirat-i-mustaqeem which is based on truth and wisdom has three aspects, theoretical, practical and relating to self. Each of these is again three faceted. For instance, the theoretical comprises appreciation of that which is due to Allah, that which is due to His creatures, and that which is due to oneself. The practical demands the discharge of each of these three sets of obligations. That which is due to Allah in the theoretical sphere is to regard Him as the One, the Source of all beneficence, comprehending all excellences, the origin and returning-point of everything, free from every imperfection and short-coming, combining in Himself all perfect qualities and the sole Being to Whom worship is due. This is the theory of sirat-i-mustaqeem concerning that which is due to Allah. Its practical aspect comprises obeying Him with perfect sincerity, associating no one in the obedience due to Him, and supplicating Him alone looking up only to Him for the promotion of one's welfare and effacing oneself in His love. This is the practical sirat-i-mustaqeem concerning that which is due to Allah, and this is the very truth. The theoretical sirat-i-mustaqeem, concerning that which is due to one's fellow beings, consists in accepting them as one's kin as servants of God and in that capacity amounting to nothing independently of Him. For, true appraisal of God's creatures is that their existence is only derived from Him and is non-existent in itself, all being mortal. This is the theoretical definition of Tauheed (Unity), for, it emphasises the Eminence of One Being Who suffers from no shortcoming and is perfect in His Being.

The practical sirat-i-mustaqim, concerning that which is due to one's fellow beings, consists in practising genuine virtue, that is, doing that which is most beneficial and proper for them. This is practical Tauheed (Unity), the object of the creature being that all his conduct should be a reflection of Divine attributes.

The theoretical sirat-i-mustaqeem, in respect of that which is due to oneself, is that one should be aware of all the evils that spring from the ego, like self-estimation, ostentation, arrogance, spite, jealousy, vanity, greed, miserliness, negligence, and injustice and should estimate them as degrading traits of character as they are in fact. This is theoretical Tauheed (Unity), also as it emphasises the greatness of only one Being Who suffers from no drawback and is altogether Holy.

The practical sirat-i-mustaqeem, concerning that which is due to oneself, is to purge one's self of all low inclinations, to be emptied of all dross and to be equipped with all excellent traits. This indeed is the straight course (sirat-i-mustaqeem) in practice. This is also Tauheed as expressed in one's own being. For, the purpose of a believer in One God is to empty his heart of the intrusion of everything other than Allah, in order to attain to the stage where he is urged to merge in the Holiness of Allah.

There is a fine distinction between this and the practical sirat-i-mustaqeem in respect of that which is due to one's fellow beings and that is that the former is a quality which can be acquired through exercise and is a latent distinction which may or may not find external expression. But the observance of that which is due to one's fellow beings has a practical aspect which finds expression in service of which the benefit should extend to large numbers of one's fellow beings so that the duty of service should be adequately discharged. The practical aspect of sirat-i-mustaqeem concerning one's fellow beings, is fulfilled only through service and the practical aspect of that which is due to oneself is realised through self-purification and does not necessarily call for any service. This self-purification can be achieved even in the solitude of wilderness. But that which is due to mankind cannot be rendered except in the midst of one's fellow beings. That is why it has been said that there is no monasticism in Islam (57.28).

It must, therefore, be understood that the meaning of sirat-i-mustaqeem, both theoretical and practical is theoretical knowledge of Tauheed (God’s Unity) and a life lived in terms of Tauheed, that is, Tauheed through knowledge and Tauheed through practice. The Holy Qur’an sets forth only one true objective, true Unity, all the rest being means towards achieving it. Al-Hakam, Sept. 24, 1905.

The guidance that we have been commanded to seek in the Fatiha consists in observance of the excellences of Allah and His four attributes. This is stressed by the alif lam (al) in Ihdinas-sirat-al-mustaqeem (Guide us in the Straight Path). This can be appreciated only by those whom Allah has blessed with a sound mind. Undoubtedly these four are basic attributes and are sufficient for cleansing people of abominations and all types of vice. No one can be said to believe in them truly until he has partaken of each of them and has patterned his own conduct to the ethics of the Creator of all creation. For one who partakes of their grace, is opened the high portal of knowledge of his beloved Lord and His magnificence is manifested to him. He gains, by the leave of Allah, the Sustainer of spiritual travellers, constant inclination of the heart towards Him, aversion towards sins, serenity, benign attitude, spirit of true obedience, fear of God, love of God, eagerness and zeal, healthy emotional reactions and love of the Divine with an intense desire to negate himself in God which consumes and destroys everything beside HimKaramatus Sadiqeen, p. 103.

There are three ways of Divine guidance; or, in other words, there are three means and methods. First, a lost one may find guidance through the Book of God. Secondly, if he does not arrive at full understanding, through the Divine Book, the light of rational evidence may point out the way to him. Thirdly, if rational evidence should also fail to satisfy him, heavenly signs may help him to tranquillity of faith. These are the three means that constitute Allah's eternal way for the satisfaction of His creatures. First, the series of Books of faith that reach the mass of people through oral communication and tradition. It is incumbent on the faithful to believe in their messages and guidance. Their most perfect and authentic source is the Holy Qur’an. Secondly, rational evidence, the source of which is reason and argument. Thirdly, heavenly signs whose source, next after the Prophets, is the Imam (Leader) of the age or the Reformer of the day. The original source of these are the Prophets (peace be on them). But when their miracles and signs, through the passage of time, lose their dynamic impact, having become mere stories of the past, then God, the Supreme, raises someone else following in their footsteps, so that the marvels of prophethood should not be reduced to stale and ineffective fables for succeeding generations and that they should also, through witnessing Divine signs, be enabled to refresh their faith.Kitab-al-Bariyya,pp. 25-29.

Steadfastness wins the pleasure of Allah. It is very true that steadfastness is more than a miracle. The climax of steadfastness is that in front of all-enveloping afflictions, with life and honour and prestige in jeopardy in the cause of Allah, with no redeeming feature to afford relief, even God, by way of trial, shutting the door to an uplifting vision, dream, or revelation, leaving one exposed to frightful terrors, one should not lose heart, shrinking back like a coward and should let nothing impair the integrity of loyalty, sincerity and firmness, welcoming humiliation, being reconciled to death, refusing to look to a friend for reinforcement of steadfastness and support, nor looking to God for good tidings, for it is the hour of crisis and in spite of being totally friendless and weak and without anything to hearten one, to stand upright and proffer one's neck, saying: Come what may; without a word of protest, to the determined decree, neither exhibiting desperation nor having recourse to plaintive moaning until the conditions of the trial have been fully satisfied. This is steadfastness indeed by means of which God is reached. It is the fragrance of this that is exuded by the dust of Prophets and Apostles and the righteous and the martyrs. It is to this that the Lord of glory and majesty has pointed in the prayer: Lord show us the path of uprightness, the path that leads to Thy favours and gifts and pleases Thee. He has pointed to the same in another verse: Lord, send down tranquillity on our hearts so that we may be steadfast and let death come to us in a state of complete submission to Thee (7.127). During the period of hardships and afflictions, God, the Sublime, sends down a light on the hearts of His favourites which fortifies them and they bear all calamities with good cheer. In the ecstasy of faith they kiss the fetters that their feet may have to bear in His way. When misfortunes descend on a godly person and he perceives signs of approaching death, he does not start contending with His Generous Lord, calling upon Him to save him from the visitations. For, persisting in prayer for security at such an hour, means being at odds with God, the Supreme, and is contrary to the spirit of complete accord. In fact, the true lover goes forward at the hour of affliction and, holding life of no account, lays aside the love of life and places himself entirely at the disposal of His Lord, seeking only His pleasure. As Allah, the Sublime, says: There are people who surrender their lives in return for Allah's pleasure. Allah is very compassionate towards such servants (2.208). Such is the spirit of steadfastness that leads to God. Let him ponder who will. Report of the Great Religions Conference, pp. 187-188.

These verses are treasures full of meaning and comprise strong arguments for the refutation of antagonists, men and women. We shall deal with them at length and set forth the reasons and arguments that Allah has taught us. Listen then to the exposition thereof, haply Allah might deliver you from false notions. As for the words of the Sublime Lord: Guide us along the straight path; they mean: Show us the straight path and keep us constant along the course that leads to Thy presence and safeguards from Thy punishment. According to the Sufis there are many ways of finding guidance gathered from the Book and the sunna (the way of the Holy Prophet).The first is seeking knowledge of the Divine with the help of reason and demonstrable proof; secondly, through self-purification and rigorous self-discipline; and thirdly, through total turning to Allah, with sincere love and beseeching His help in whole-hearted alignment with His will, ruling out the least disparity and returning to Him with entreaties and prayers and a firm resolve. Prophets and Apostles are the rightly guided ones who should be followed Then, since search for guidance and purification of self are not enough for the attainment of nearness to God, without the assistance available from leading divines and those rightly guided, Allah, the Holy, did not confine His direction to the instruction: Guide us along the straight path; but urged His servants, by His words: the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours; to look for these rightly-instructed guides and leaders from among the diligent and the pure-souled, that is to say, the Prophets and the Apostles. They area people who preferred the abode of truth (the hereafter) to the house of falsehood and vanity and were drawn by the ropes of love to Allah, the ocean of light, and were delivered from the land of untruth by His revelation and His power of attraction. Before the award of prophethood they were like a beautiful woman who lacks all ornament. Now they do not speak but when Allah urges them to speak and choose only that which has His approval. They strive to the utmost to acquaint people with Divine Law and to make them conform to it, like a loving mother who, after the death of her husband, prefers to remain a widow so that she may devote herself to the upbringing of her children. They are granted such facility of expression as makes the deaf hear and tames wild goats; and are granted hearts that draw together whole nations through their high resolve. When they speak they always achieve their purpose, and their attention quickens the dead who have lost all hope. They strive to draw people away from evil towards good, from forbidden pursuits towards righteous-ness, from ignorance towards wisdom and sagacity, and from turpitude and disobedience towards rectitude and piety. One who disregards them, certainly deprives himself of a bounty he had been offered, and draws away from the fountain of good and the light of his eyes. This isolation is far more serious than the severance of ties of kinship and blood-relationship. These personalities are the heralds of paradise. Woe to him who turns away from them and confines himself to eating and drinking. They are the light of Allah and through them the hearts of people are granted illumination, and antidote for the poison of sins, and tranquillity in agony and in the throes of death, and fortitude at the hour of departure from this world. Do you imagine that anyone else could be like this noble group? Indeed not, by the Lord who caused the date-palm to sprout forth from a stone-seed. That is why, out of abundant compassion, Allah taught this prayer, commanding the Muslims to seek of Him the way of those He had favoured, that is to say, the Prophets and the Apostles. This verse conveys clearly to men of understanding that the Muslims have been established in the footsteps of the Prophets and there has not been a Prophet but his like has been raised among the Muslims. Had there been no possibility of such resemblance and likeness, it would have been vain to seek the excellences achieved by those who have passed away and this prayer would have been meaningless. Allah's command that we should supplicate Him in the Prayer services, morn and eve: Guide us along the straight path; and that we should keep seeking the way of His favoured ones, the Prophets and the Apostles, implies that He has ordained it from the beginning that He will continue to raise among the Muslims righteous people who will walk in the footsteps of the Prophets and that He will make them Khalifas as He made Khalifas before among the children of Israel. This is indeed the truth, so give up vain dispute and contention. Allah had designed to combine in the Muslims all the excellences and moral qualities. It was this that called for the teaching of this prayer to be followed by whatever should be His pleasure. The Muslims have been named the most excellent people in the Qur’an (3.111) and excellence is attained only if deeds, faith, knowledge and insight continue to be fostered and the pleasure of Allah, the Gracious, is sought continuously.

Most certainly it is a characteristic of true revelation that it expounds the meaning of the abstract terms employed in it. For instance, the verse of the Fatiha: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours; employs the abstract term, bestowing of favours, which calls for an explanation. This is furnished in (Qur'an) 4.70 where God, the Exalted, says: Whoso obeys Allah and the Messenger will be among those whom Allah has favoured, namely, the Prophets, the righteous, the martyrs and the virtuous.Jang Muqaddas paper D/- 24 May.

There are four grades of excellence which it is the duty of every believer to aspire after. One who has no part in them at all, is devoid of faith. That is why Allah, the Lord of glory, has appointed for Muslims the prayer: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours, so that they should keep supplicating for these four grades. In another place (4.70) the Holy Qur’an explains that the favoured ones are the Prophets, the righteous, the martyrs and the virtuous. The perfect man combines these excellences in his person.Tiryaqul Qulub, p. 125.

The purpose and object of human life is the pursuit of and adherence to the straight path, as has been set out in this Surah, in the words: Allah, guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours. This prayer is offered in each unit of each Prayer service. Its very repetition emphasises its significance. We should bear in mind that this is not a matter of small import and that it is not enough merely to repeat these words by rote. In fact, it is an efficacious and unfailing instrument for converting a person into an ideal human being which should be constantly employed and should be greatly cherished. This verse comprises a supplication for four categories of excellence. If a person attains to these four excellences, he will have discharged his duty of prayer and of seeking the object of his creation. He will have also acquitted himself worthily, in respect of the beneficent use of the capacities and talents granted to him. It should never be forgotten that some parts of the Holy Qur’an explain its other parts. A subject finds a summary mention in one place and is explained at length in another, the latter thus constituting an exposition of the former. Thus: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed favours; is a supplication in the abstract. In another place (4.70) the favoured ones have been described as the Prophets, the righteous, the martyrs and the virtuous. The Prophets (peace be on them all) comprise the excellences of all four categories. For this is the apex of perfection. It is the duty of every one to cultivate these excellences through appropriate exertions, in the way the Holy Prophet(blessings and peace of Allah be on him) demonstrated through his example Al-Hakam, March 31, 1905.

This verse means: Grant us the grace and bounty conferred on all the Prophets and the righteous who have preceded us and debar us not from any kind of grace. This verse gives a magnificent hope to the Muslims, a hope not shared by those who passed on before. For, all the Prophets possessed distinctive excellences and enjoyed distinctive grace and bounties individually. Now the Muslims have been directed to supplicate for all the different excellences they possessed. It is obvious that their aggregate will far outweigh the individual excellences. It is for this reason that it has been said: You are the best people raised for the good of mankind (3.111); because of your excellences (Chashma Masihi, pp. 65-66).

It must be remembered that the door of Divine speech and address is open for this ummat (people). This door is a never-fresh testimony of the validity of the Holy Qur’an and the truth of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It is to this end that God, the Sublime, has taught us in the Fatiha the prayer: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours; directing us to supplicate for the path of the favoured ones is a sure indication that we should seek to attain to the excellences of the Prophets (peace be on them). The excellence granted to the Prophets (peace be on them) was the excellence of Divine knowledge, which they received through Divine speech and Divine address. You too, should seek the same.Al-Hakam, Oct. 24, 1906.

Ponder carefully the word of God so that you may know what He expects of you. What He expects is that which has been taught in Surah Fatiha, namely the prayer: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours. Since God enjoins on you to supplicate five times every day for the gifts bestowed on the Prophets and Apostles, how can you then attain to these gifts, independently of the Prophets and Apostles? It therefore follows that to lead you to the stage of certainty and love, Prophets of God should appear from time to time that you may receive these gifts through them Lecture at Sialkot, p. 32.

By transfer of Prophethood from the house of Israel, Allah, the Exalted, intended to demonstrate the honour and grace that He bestowed on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). This is indicated in: Guide us along the straight path. This means: Allah, favour us with the gifts and bounties that Thou didst confer on former Prophets and the righteous, the martyrs and the virtuous. If God, the Supreme, could not confer these boons and the door to them had been closed, then what was the purpose of teaching us this prayer? This door was closed on the children of Israel. If it has been likewise closed here then what is the difference and what is there for this people, to take pride in as compared to Israel? A blind one has no cause to boast in the face of another blind one. If revelation, inspiration and Divine signs have ceased among the Jews, then can you say whether they continue among any other people? Our opponents say that this door is closed on them as well. What colossal ill luck! They supplicate five times a day: Guide us along the straight path; and nothing is gained thereby! What frustration!

By transfer of Prophethood from the house of Israel, Allah, the Exalted, intended to demonstrate the honour and grace that He bestowed on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). This is indicated in: Guide us along the straight path. This means: Allah, favour us with the gifts and bounties that Thou didst confer on former Prophets and the righteous, the martyrs and the virtuous. If God, the Supreme, could not confer these boons and the door to them had been closed, then what was the purpose of teaching us this prayer? This door was closed on the children of Israel. If it has been likewise closed here then what is the difference and what is there for this people, to take pride in as compared to Israel? A blind one has no cause to boast in the face of another blind one. If revelation, inspiration and Divine signs have ceased among the Jews, then can you say whether they continue among any other people? Our opponents say that this door is closed on them as well. What colossal ill luck! They supplicate five times a day: Guide us along the straight path; and nothing is gained thereby! What frustration!

The teaching by Allah, the Exalted, of such a prayer means that He is prepared to bestow honour and bounties. For instance, if five candidates for a post appear before the appointing authority and four are dismissed and one is told to wait, it would mean that he would be appointed to the post. In the same way, Allah, the Sublime, taught this prayer and it is offered five times a day, but our opponents assert that it produces no result. Is this position not derogatory to the Holy Qur’an and to Islam? This is the crux of the controversy between them and me. I claim that the blessings and fruits of Islam are as much in evidence today as they were ever before. The Supreme Lord exercises His powers as before and speaks to His servants also. But they aver that this door is closed and God, the Exalted, has become silent and speaks no more to anyone.Al-Hakam, Oct. 31, 1905.

Every Muslim supplicates five times every day: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours; and God, the Supreme, says that the straight path is the path of the Prophets and of the righteous and the martyrs. We would be very foolish indeed, if we did not seek that path which God, the Sublime, has commanded us to seek and instead floundered after the sophists Ayena e Kamalate Islam, pp. 245-246.

Do you not realise that Surah Bani Israel of the Qur’an refutes the ascension of Jesus to the heavens? Surah Al-Imran states that Allah assured him that He would cause him to die a natural death and would thus transfer him from the living to the dead. Again, Surah Al-Maida sets for him the table of death. Read therein: Since Thou didst cause me to die; if you still labour in doubt. Next, Surah Zumar includes him among the group that do not come back to this despicable world. If you like you may read: Then He retains those against whom He has decreed death; and bear in mind that return to this world is forbidden after, death. It is an inviolable law for a township which We have destroyed that they shall not return(21.96). Being spiritually revived by way of a miracle does not involve the return to this world, the abode of injustice and deception, of a person physically dead. Since the passing away of Jesus has been established in the clear textual references of the Qur’an, and Allah has dispelled the surmise about his ascension into heaven through clear statements and has indicated in Surahs Nur and Fatiha that the Muslims are spiritual successors of the Prophets of Israel, it follows that a Messiah will appear among the Muslims in the latter days as Jesus, son of Mary, came in the latter stage of the Mosaic Dispensation. Moses and Muhammad (peace of the Gracious One be on both) were raised in the likeness of one another, according to the clear text of the Qur’an, and the Khilafat among the Muslims resembles the Khilafat of Moses as is stated in the Qur’an. No two persons differ about it. The centuries of the Khalifas of Moses extending to the term of Jesus numbered as many as the days of the full moon. It was inevitable therefore, that the Messiah of Islam should appear after the lapse of a similar period subsequent to Muhammad (on whom be the peace and blessings of God)...

The conclusion to be drawn from what we have said in this context is that the Fatiha gives the tidings of the appearance of the Messiah from among the Muslims, a grace from the Lord of all lords. We have thus been promised Imams (leaders)from among us in the likeness of the Prophets of Israel but have not been promised a prophet making his descent from heaven. So ponder this deeply. You have heard before that Surah Nur has promised us a series of Khalifas like the Khalifas of Moses. How can this resemblance be complete without the advent of a Messiah, in the latter part of the dispensation of the Noble Prophet, like the Messiah of the Mosaic dispensation? We have definitely put our faith in this promise, for it certainly is from the Lord of His servants and Allah never goes back on His promise. We wonder at the people who pay no heed to the promise of the Lord of Majesty! His word shall always be fulfilled and shall ever prevail. They should, therefore, regard it with due piety and reverence. Is it just that the Messiah should comedown from heaven and the promise of resemblance between the two Dispensations of Khilafat should be violated while resemblance of the two Dispensations has become incumbent by the command of our Lord of Honour, as is clearly the sense of the word 'kama' in Surah Nur (Verse on Khilafat; Ayat e Istikhlaaf). Ijazul Masih, pp. 166-185.

Allah suffers from no shortcoming in His powers. For inspiring faith He adopts such extraordinary measures that a person recognises the word of God the way he knows the sun when he sees it. Do they imagine that God, the Supreme, had the power from the day of Adam to that of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to lead seekers after truth to the fountainhead of certainty, through His revelation, but that thereafter He ceased to possess that power, or that possessing it He deliberately chose to be miserly towards this unblessed people and forgot the prayer: Guide us along the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favours; that He had Himself taught?Al-Badr, Feb. 1, 1904.

Not of those who incurred displeasure nor of those who have gone astray

The expression: Those who incurred Divine displeasure; is in contrast to the expression: The erring ones. The former is juxtaposed to the latter as is not hidden from the discerning. It has been established with decisiveness and certainty that those who incurred Divine wrath were the people who had gone to the extreme in respect of Jesus in their denunciation of him as a disbeliever and in persecution and humiliation of him, as those who went astray went to the other extreme in respect of him by taking him as the Lord of the Universe. (Khutba Ilhamiyyah, p. 122, Footnote).

This chapter contains a warning that in the latter days the condition of the Muslims shall become similar to that of the people of the Book. They will take to their ways and their practices until Allah, the Sublime, will favour them with His special grace and bounties and will safeguard them against bestiality and animalism and superstition and will include them among His righteous servants (Karamatus Sadiqeen,p. 83).

The authentic ahadith have likewise affirmed that, in the latter days, the majority of Muslims will have developed affinities with the Jews. Surah Fatiha also points to the same, for, it teaches the prayer: Lord, safeguard us against becoming like the Jews who were contemporaries of Jesus (peace be on him) and were hostile to him and were afflicted with Divine displeasure in this very world.

It is the way of Allah that when He gives a people a command or teaches them a prayer, it implies a warning that some of them would be guilty of the sin or default they are being forbidden. Since the expression: those who incurred Divine wrath, stands for the Jews who were smitten with Divine chastisement, in the latter period of the Mosaic dispensation, in consequence of their denunciation of the Messiah, this verse predicts in accord with the aforesaid way of God, that during the latter days the Promised Messiah will be raised from among the Muslims and the Muslims, through their opposition to him, will cultivate affinities with the Jews of the time of Jesus

Lecture at Sialkot, pp. 15-16.

God has adjudged some Muslims Jews and has clearly indicated that the divines of this ummat will be guilty of the offences committed by the Jewish divines. This is the meaning of the verse: Not of those who incurred Thy wrath. All the commentators are agreed that those who incurred Divine wrath referred to in this verse, are the Jews who were afflicted with Divine chastisement on account of their denunciation of Jesus (peace be on him). According to the ahadith also, the people who incurred Divine wrath are the Jews who were afflicted with Divine chastisement in this very world. The Holy Qur’an confirms it that Jesus cursed the Jews and they were afflicted with Divine punishment. Undoubtedly and decidedly, therefore, those who suffered Divine wrath are the Jews who planned to compass the death of Jesus upon the cross. Thus the Divine direction to us to pray that we may be safeguarded against becoming like the Jews who planned to slay Jesus, clearly indicates that one like Jesus was to arise from among the Muslims. Otherwise what would be the purpose of teaching us this prayer?

Further, it is clear from the verses cited that, at a certain stage, some Muslim divines would become replicas of Jewish divines. In such contingency it would be unreasonable to affirm that, to reclaim them the Israeli Messiah would come down from heaven. First, the advent among Muslims of a Prophet from outside Islam would violate the seal of Prophethood, which the Holy Qur’an explicitly affirms in respect of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Apart from this, the Holy Qur’an designates the Muslims the best people. There is then nothing more derogatory for them than that they should be identified with the Jews but that the Messiah should come from outside. If it is true that, at a certain time, a large number of Muslim divines will resemble the Jews, it is equally true that to reclaim them the Messiah would not come from another people but, as some Muslims have been designated Jews, so shall one member of this ummat be named Jesus. There is no gainsaying the fact that both the Qur’an and the Hadith have called some members of this ummat Jews, as is evident from the verse: Not of those who incurred Thy displeasure; for, if some members of this ummat were not to become Jews, this prayer would not have been taught. Since the time the Books of God began to be revealed, it has been the way of God that whenever He forbids a people a certain act, be it adultery or burglary or imitating the Jews, the prohibition implies that some of them will contravene it. There is no single instance of an entire group or a whole people desisting from that which they are forbidden by Divine command. Some of them always disobey. In the Torah, Allah, the Exalted, forbade the Jews perverting the text of the revelation. This implied that some of them would be guilty of this enormity, and so it proved. But, God, the Supreme, laid no such command on the Muslims in the Qur’an. Instead He promised: We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation and most surely We will be its Guardian (15.10). Thus the Holy Qur’an has been safeguarded against perversion.

In short, it is the undoubted way of God that when He forbids a group or. a people a certain act or enjoins a virtue, this is a sure indication that it is within His eternal knowledge that some of them would contravene the injunction. Therefore, His direction, in Surah Fatiha, to the Muslims, to supplicate against their turning into Jews who planned to crucify Jesus(peace be on him) and were visited with Divine punishment, in this very world, on account of it, clearly implies that some members of this ummat who will be reputed as divines will, through their wickedness and their denunciation of the Messiah, don the garments of the Jews. Otherwise, there would be no purpose in teaching a meaningless prayer. It is obvious that the divines of this ummat cannot become Jews in the sense of becoming literally the children of Israel and then plan to crucify Jesus son of Mary who departed this life long ago, for, today those Jews who attempted the crucifixion of Jesus and Jesus himself are no more. It is clear that the verse points to a future event and means that a person would be raised in the latter days, in the likeness of Jesus, the Messiah, and some of his contemporary Muslim divines would persecute him and abuse him as did the Jewish divines in the case of Jesus (peace be on him). The authentic ahadith confirm that when it is said that some Muslim divines will become Jews the meaning is that they will develop the character and habits of Jews and,though they will outwardly pass as Muslims, their hearts will have become corrupt and they will take on the characteristics of the Jews who incurred Divine wrath, on account of their persecution of Jesus (peace be on him). Since, therefore, these very people who are called Muslims will become Jews, would it not be humiliating for this ummat that, while a portion of it will become Jewish in character, the Messiah who is to reclaim them should come from outside of Islam? This is contrary to the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an juxtaposes the Islamic dispensation to the Mosaic dispensation, both in good and in evil and not only in evil.

The meaning of: Not of those who incurred Thy wrath; clearly is that they will be called Jews because of humiliating, rejecting, denouncing and planning to slay the Divine Messenger commissioned to reclaim them, and since they will inflame their rage against him, they will be labelled in heaven: those who incurred Divine wrath, like the Jews who denounced Jesus (peace be on him), with the consequence that they were afflicted with plague and were later wiped out by the Roman Emperor Titus. The words: Those who were afflicted with Divine chastisement; mean that they will be afflicted with some kind of calamity in this very world, for, every disbeliever will suffer punishment in the hereafter and in reference to the hereafter all disbelievers will be under Divine wrath. Why did then God, the Supreme, label the Jews who planned to nail Jesus on the cross and had in fact, in their own belief, crucified him, victims of Divine anger in particular? It was because they were afflicted with Divine punishment in this very world and it was on that account that the Muslims were directed, in Surah Fatiha, to pray that they should be spared the fate of those Jews. It was in truth a prophecy that a Messiah will be raised among the Muslims and that they, copying the Jews, will rise in opposition to him and will be afflicted with Divine chastisement in this very world. This prayer thus meant that it had been decreed that a Messiah would rise among the Muslims and that those of Jewish character among them will rise against him and shall thus incur Divine wrath in this very world.

Tazkiratush Shahadatain, pp. 416-419.

It should be remembered that in all references to the degradation of the Jews in the gospels and in the Holy Qur’an it is not the common people who are referred to; it is the rabbis,the jurists and the chiefs that are meant, who held the power of excommunication and whose preachings inflamed the masses. That is why in the Holy Qur’an such learned Jews have been described as donkeys carrying loads of books (62.6). The masses have little to do with books - it is the divines who are concerned with them. It is, therefore, worth remembering that in the Bible and the Qur’an and the Hadeeth, all references toJews are to their rabbis and their priests. By the same token,the words: Not of those who incurred Thy wrath; have reference to the Muslim divines and not to the common people.

Tuhfa Golarviyya, pp. 135-136.

The question then arises why was not a prayer taught to seek protection against the mischief of these ancient religions which had old and powerful empires and national solidarity and wealth and strength and tradition and other resources contributing to their great prosperity, but a prayer was taught to seek protection against the mischief of the Christian people, a relatively weak power at the time? The answer is and, it must be well remembered, that it was in the knowledge of God, the Sublime, that this people would grow in power, day by day, until they would spread all over the world and would use every resource to convert people to their faith, for instance, by polemics, financial advances, kindness and courtesy, glimmer of wealth and grandeur, pandering to carnal desires, freedom and permissiveness, criticism and fault-finding of other faiths, tending the sick, helping the poor, sheltering the orphans; in short, by using every device, taking advantage of the weakness of a stupid victim of circumstances, or of a greedy person, or of a libertine, or of a social climber or of one forlorn or of an orphan to cajole him into their fold. This was then a great tribulation in store for Islam, threatening the annihilation of millions. It was because of this that God taught the prayer in Surah Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Qur’an, to seek security against this fatal visitation. It must be realised that this is a glorious prophecy of the Holy Qur’an, which is without parallel

Tuhfa Golarviyya, pp. 82-83.

God, the Sublime, has taught us through Surah Fatiha that Dajjal (an Islamic term literally meaning the “Great Liar”) against whom we have been warned is the group of erring Christian Missionaries who have abandoned the way of Jesus. He has taught us the prayer in the above-mentioned Surah that we should supplicate God against becoming the Jews who were afflicted with chastisement for their disobedience of and hostility towards Jesus, and against becoming the Christians who discarded the teachings of Jesus and made him God thus perpetrating a lie in excess of all lies and in support of it had recourse to every type of cunning and deception. They were, therefore, called Dajjal in heaven. Had there been any other Dajjal it would have been made obligatory in this very verse to seek protection against him. In that case Surah Fatiha would have made use of the word Dajjal instead of the expression: Those who went astray. These are the meanings that the events have unfolded. This age has produced the last mischief against which we had been warned, namely, the mischief of insistence upon the Trinity.

Haqiqatul Wahi, p. 310 Footnote.

Those who have gone astray has reference to Christian missionaries as I have stated and not to the British people. For, there are many British people who have not read the Bible even once in their lives. Islam weighs heavy on the minds of these missionaries; they know that Islam is a religion that they can never subdue. My reference to those who have gone astray applies to those missionaries who are not only misled themselves but employ all their resources and efforts towards misleading others. The reference to Dajjal in the Hadeeth applies only to those who have gone astray. If this were not so, it would have to be admitted that while God, the Supreme, warned against those who had gone astray and even taught a prayer for being safeguarded against their great mischief, yet He did not at all mention Dajjal whose wickedness was so enormous as to threaten the going astray of millions of people. The truth of the matter, however, is that Dajjal and those who have gone astray are the same group that is engaged in misleading people and is at the height of its power in this age and is using every device and stratagem in aid of its campaign to mislead mankind. Since the word Dajjal also means one who misleads, therefore, it has been used in place of those who have gone astray in the works of Hadeeth. Another reason for this substitution is that Allah, the Exalted, knew that people would make up a Dajjal on their own and attribute to him strange things such as that he would hold heaven in one hand and hell in the other and claim to be both God and Prophet and that he will bear on his forehead the word kafir (infidel) and that he will have a donkey the distance between whose two ears will be so many yards, etc. God has said that those who have gone astray are the party of Dajjal. They are occupied with misleading people in diverse ways. They hold out every kind of temptation, pervert Divine scriptures and turn people away from Divine commands so much so that they have made a filthy thing like the flesh of swine lawful while, in the Torah, it has been specially prohibited. Even the Messiah expressed his aversion to swine by saying: Cast not your pearls before swine. Moreover by fabricating the evil doctrine of vicarious atonement they have opened wide the door of iniquity. A person may commit a host of the most heinous sins and go free and be saved if he would believe in Jesus as God or the son of God. Is it not obvious now that it is this misleading group that has been called Dajjal in the Hadeeth and has been called: those who have gone astray, in the Holy Qur’an.

Al-Hakam, Jan. 10, 1908.