THE PHILOSOPHY OF REVIVAL OF RELIGION


Text of an address delivered by
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad,
Khalifatul Masih IV

Every Muslim, regardless of sect, believes in the oneness of God and in the prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings). Every Muslim believes that Islam is the ultimate religion for the salvation of mankind. All Muslims believe that Islam will continue to fulfill all of man’s spiritual needs till the Day of Judgement. All Muslims believe that the Law revealed through the Holy Prophet Muhammad is unchangeable and that the Ouran is incorruptible and unalterable to the extent even of an iota or a dot. Muslims of all shades of thought believe that the edicts of the Holy Prophet Muhammad have validity and authority till the end of mankind. Muslims of every sect believe that it is only through a bond with the Holy Prophet Muhammad that the light of eternal truth may be perceived. These basic points of creed are shared by all Muslims without exception.

With so much in common, there still remains the fundamental difference which sets the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community apart from other Muslims-the difference on the issue of revival of Islam. All other differences emanate from this main issue.

How is the resurgence of Islam to come about? How is a new life and new vigour to be infused into it? Like the Ahmadiyya Community, all other Muslims, too, profess that the answer lies in the promised advent of Christ, Son of Mary, and in the appearance of the promised Imam Mahdi (the reformer appointed by God who would be divinely guided). This point of apparent concord when interpreted actually generates two diametrically opposed views.

A Background to the Prophesies

Through divine revelation, the Holy Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (peace & blessings be upon him) prophesied fourteen hundred years ago that Muslims would split into seventy two sects. He described the pitiable plight of the Muslims in such detail as if a view of our era had been unfolded before his very eyes. The Prophet’s Traditions contain a graphic description of our times. He said, “Islam will have nothing left of it except its name. Mosques, though full of worshippers will be devoid of guidance. Their religious scholars will be the worst creation under the canopy of Heaven.” However, along with these terrible portents, he also gave glorious tidings. He said that inspite of this dire distress, the Islamic nation would not perish:

‘How can my followers be destroyed when I am at their beginning and Jesus, Son of Mary, at their end.” (Masnad Ahmad: Kanzal Aamal Vol. 7, p. 203)

Then he said: “How will you be when Mary’s Son will descend among you; and he will be your guide from amongst you?” (Bukhari: Book of Prophets)

And he repeated the news in these words: “I swear by Him Who has my life in His hand that the Son of Mary will indeed descend among you, and he will arbitrate with justice.” (Bukhari: Book of Prophets)

The Holy Prophet also gave tidings of a great Imam-Imam Mahdi -who would appear alongwith Jesus, Son of Mary.

So, the Ahmadiyya Community is at one with the other Muslim sects in believing that the resuscitation of Islam and its global triumph are linked with the advent of Christ and the appearance of the Imam Mahdi.

Non-Ahmadi Muslims’ Concept

By outline their concept of the Messiah’s advent. We find out that they believe that the very Jesus, Son of Mary, whom the Ouran declares a prophet of the Israelites, will descend bodily from the sky. He will immediately set out with sword in hand and hack to death all enemies of Islam! His global sweep shall have three grand objectives. The first objective will be the destruction of the Cross. Not figuratively, but literally! He will set about destroying the symbol of Christian faith with such vigour that not a trace shall be left of it. There will not remain a single Cross to be seen-in Church or home or around any neck.

According to them, his next important task will be the extermination of swine of every variety-domestic as well as wild! So, the followers of the Cross will then be left with neither a Cross for prayer nor a pig for dinner. Thus, Christ will deprive the Christians of the articles not only of their spiritual sustenance but also of their physical nourishment.

The third task for the Messiah will be the killing of “Dajjal” the Antichrist. Now who is this Antichrist? According to Traditions, if taken literally, as some would have it, he will be a one-eyed Colossus who will come riding an ass of extraordinary proportions. He will be so tall that his head will stand higher than the clouds. All prophets have warned their followers against the evil of this Antichrist. Now, while the Antichrist is busy ravaging the earth the Messiah will descend from the heavens. He will engage the Antichrist in battle near Damascus and slay him. He will then conquer the entire world. Having done this, he will hand over its governance to the Muslims.

Next comes the non-Ahmadi Muslims’ concept of the economic resurgence of Islam. The scholars of the other sects hold the view that the remedy of the economic plight of the Muslims lay not in struggle and sacrifice but in the appearance of the Imam Mahdi. This Imam Mahdi will be a contemporary of the Messiah. His most important act on arrival will be the distribution of limitless largess among the Muslims of the world. His bounty will be boundless; his generosity will defy description. This overwhelming wealth will far exceed the Muslim’s capacity to garner it. Thus will come to an end all lust for goods and greed for gold. This is the panacea, as conceived by some, for the economic ills of the world of Islam. According to this belief, the appearance of Imam Mahdi is in itself the answer to the economic misery of Muslims. There is no need for sweat, tears and toil. There is no necessity to explore the earth’s treasures, to peep into the heart of the atom and to seek out the secrets of space. Neither effort nor industry, nor inventiveness or application is needed. All that is needed is the arrival of the Mahdi.

The Correct Interpretation According to Ahmadi Muslims

Although the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community does not in any way reject the prophecies concerning the descent of the Messiah and the appearance of the Mahdi, it does emphasise that to put a literal meaning on them is the height of naivette and ignorance. We believe that it is as a result of not grasping fully the exalted station of the Holy Prophet that such a serious error is made in understanding his deep and philosophical message. Men of insight and wisdom often use parables and allegories to outline subjects of such great import but the superficial eye cannot perceive their meaning.

The Ahmadi Muslims believe that the whole range of subjects covering the Messiah, the Antichrist and his ass is allegorical. The Messiah, therefore, is not that earlier prophet who was sent among the Isrealites. The Ahmadis believe that Jesus Christ died a natural death after surviving the torture of the Cross. The Messiah of the prophecy was in fact to be a new person who was to be born amongst the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Because of some characteristics and qualities he was to share with Jesus, he would be given the title of “Messiah, Son of Mary” in much the same way as a great dramatist is called Shakespeare. The reference to the Cross, too. is a simile. The Messiah will not literally go around wrecking crosses: he will defeat the Christian faith with strong reasoning and powerful arguments.

The destruction of the Cross, therefore, stands for the ideological rout of Christianity. Similarly, the word ‘swine’ is not to be taken in the literal sense. It connotes the cultural filth of the western world which turns men into beastly beings. The word swine stands for the so called sexual anarchy sweeping across America and Europe. It stands for the disgusting debauchery whichclaims even innocent children as its victims. The Traditions most assuredly did not convey that the Messiah would hunt down herds of wild boar or domesticated pigs. This would be a strange image of a prophet of God. It would rather remind one of Ajax, a hero from Greek mythology, who cut to pieces herds of cattle and flocks of sheep in the mad belief that they were the Greek army’s chieftains!

The Antichrist, too, like the Messiah, the Cross and the Swine is symbolic. He symbolises a great and powerful nation which rules not only the earth but also space. The Cross and the Swine are in fact symbols pertaining to this nation. The Traditions say that the Antichrist’s right eye will be sightless but his left eye will be large and bright. This is a symbolic description of the fact that though this nation would be devoid of spiritual light yet its material insight and therefore material attainments, would be great.

Lastly, the Ahmadi Muslims consider the Antichrist’s ass to be a symbol too- a symbol that was used to describe the means of transportation of the days to come. All the features describing this ass are without exception identifiable with the fuel-powered vehicles invented by the West. Consider the salient features of the ass-as described in the traditions-it will eat fire, it will travel over land, over sea and above the air; its speed will be so great that it will cover a journey of months within the space of a few hours; the passengers will travel not on its back but in its belly which would be lit up; it will announce its departure and ask passengers to take their seats. The fulfillment of these things with such wondrous exactness is a glorious testimony of the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him.

According to Ahmadi Muslims, the prophecies relating to the advent of the Imam Mahdi are also symbolic. The wealth he will distribute amongst Muslims is the wealth of spiritual knowledge and wisdom, and not worldly wealth. The refusal of some to accept it further indicates what kind of wealth it was to be; for man is never satiated with material wealth: it is only the spiritual treasures that he spurns.

Thus Ahmadiyyat rejects the philosophy of Islamic renaissance as explained above and propagated by the other sects of Islam. It holds that this philosophy is at variance with the real intent of the Ouranic teachings, at variance with the history of the prophets and most of all at variance with the demonstrated actions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Ahmadiyyat shuns this ideological opiate which lulls nations into inaction and leads them into the world of make-bel ieve and fantasy.

Ahmadiyya Philosophy of Revival of Religion

This philosophy is no different from the one that is the common heritage of all religions. This is the only philosophy which history supports. Although the Scriptures and the legends mention many who ascended to the heavens, there is not one instance or account, since Adam, of the bodily return of anyone of them to earth.

So, regardless of the difference in the manner of the professed ascent ro the heavens by some, there is none who is reported to have returned to earth after a long disappearance. Reformers have always appeared from the ordinary stock of human beings and have always been rejected and scorned by man. No ceremonial arches are ever erected to welcome them. No garlands are offered. No lamps are lighted in joyous illumination. On the contrary, those who came in the name of God were persecuted for committing this ‘crime’. Their paths were strewn with thorns. Dust was heaped on their heads and stones were thrown at them. They were crowned with the crown of thorns. Every conceivable torture was inflicted on them. You see them now, returning from the town of Taif bathed in blood from head to foot. You see them again, in the battlefield of Ohad, half-dead from their wounds, buried under the bodies of those who laid their lives for them.

Thus is man granted a new spiritual life. This is the path that leads to the revival of religion. This is the phenonmenon that we see at work in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and in the life of every prophet before him. It is by treading this perilous path that the prophets have ever revived their nations. This is the philosophy of the revival of religions since the days of Adam to the days of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). When such is the case, how can we then accept that the Almighty has decided to change this inviolable and time-honoured practice? How can we then accept that the Muslims will inherit the earth without shedding a drop of their blood and without making a stroke of effort? How can we believe that they will succeed without treading the path of sacrifice? It did not happen before. It will not happen again.

The Promised Messiah, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. affirms this eternal and everlasting truth when he warns the nation thus:

“There has not been a Prophet who was not laughed at. So it was to be that people laugh at the Promised Messiah. The Almighty says: Alas for My servants, there comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him’. (Holy Quran 36 :31) So it is a sign from God that every prophet is mocked. Now, who can mock a person who physically descends from the heavens in the company of angels amidst a waiting crowd? The wise, therefore, can see that the bodily descent of the Promised Messiah from .heaven is false belief. Remember! no one will descend from the sky. All those who oppose me and are now alive will die and not one from amongst them will see Jesus, Son of Mary, descend from heaven. Then their children and their children’s children, too, will die, and Mary’s Son will still not have descended. Then will God fill their hearts with fear that the days of the ascendancy of the Cross are ~ne and yet Jesus, Son of Mary, has not come down from the heavens. The wise will then tire of this belief. And before three centuries have passed from this day. Muslims and Chris- tians alike will discard this false creed in disgust and despair. Their shall be only one religion in the world and only one Guide. I have come but to sow the seed. This seed has been sown at my hand. It will now grow and bear fruit and there is no power on earth that can harm it.” (Tazkarat-ul-Shahdatain, p. 64-65)

Every fair minded person can see from this comparison that the Ahmadiyya view-point is based on the history of religions while the philosophy of its opponents is mythical and contradicts the history of religious revival. The reformers sent by God also suffered as the prophets had suffered. Whenever the Almighty chose to revive a nation spiritually, it split into two groups-those who saw the truth and those who opposed it. And neither group ever changed its demonstrated attitude. The Holy Quran describes this oft repeated cycle in a most effective and moving manner. A study of the Quran shows that:

  1. Religions are born and revived through divinely appointed reformers. Never have the scholars ever reformed a religion throug’1 conferences and consultations.
  2. The divinely appointed reformers are invariably rejected by their people and treated with arrogance and disdain.
  3. Such reformers are always opposed by violence. They are accused of corrupting the religion of their forefathers. They are branded heretics and held guilty of apostasy.
  4. The creed professed by the opponents prescribes death or banishment as the punishment for apostasy. The reformers are offered a choice of either a return to the fold or exile, failing which they are threatened with death.
  5. The reformers never advocate violence. Their followers demonstrate steadfastness of such a high degree that they would rather be exiled or killed than recant.
  6. The reformers do not entice people with promises of power and high office: they dispel worldly ambition. They do not lure people with wealth; they inculcate the spirit of sacrifice. The rich who believe consider it their good fortune to give their all in the service of God; the mighty shrug off the trappings of power. It is then that divine providence adjudges them fit to take over temporal power.

This is the process of religious revival of nations that the Quran and the Scriptures reveal. It is this law that the Ahmadiyya Community acknowledges.

As can be seen, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s concept of revival of religions is not a new-fangled philosophy born of human intellect. It is derived from that continuous and unaltered historical process which is preserved most accurately and truly in the Holy Quran. It is founded on those eternal principles and truths which are the basis of every true religion. For instance, the Quran declares:

“There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasp- ed a strong handle which knows no breaking, And Allah is AII-Hearing, AII-Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah, Verse: 257)

“Alas for My servants! there comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him.” (Yasin, Verse: 31)

“Surely Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change that which is in their heart.” (Al-Ra’ad, Verse 12)

When the prophet Shu’aib was threatened by his people:

“We will drive thee out O Shu’aib, and the believers {that are) with thee, from our town or you shall have to return to our religion.” he merely replied, “Even though we be unwilling? (Al-A’raf, Verse 89)

Noah’s people, too, threatened him with stoning if he did not desist.

They said, “If thou desist not, O Noah, thou shalt surely be one of those who are stoned.” (AI-Shuara, Verse 117) This treatment was not reserved for just a few prophets.

The Quran summarises people’s attitude to the prophets in these words:

“And those who disbelieved said to their Messengers, ‘We will surely expel you from our land unless you return to our religion.” (Ibrahim, Verse: 14)

Abraham was punished for recanting from the religion of his forefathers and for voicing the truth. The chiefs vented their wrath by declaring:

“They said? “Burn him and help your gods, if at all you mean to do anything.” (Al-Anbiya 21, Verse: 69)

Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross because he disagreed with the Jewish Scribes over the interpretation of the Bible although he avowed openly:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law, and the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Mathew: Chapter 5, Verse: 17, 18)

Lastly and above all was the suffering of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In his own words, ‘No Prophet suffered as much as I did.’

Therefore, the history of religions teaches us that prophets have always been normal human beings. They do not descend from heaven like the heroes of some mythical tale. They have always suffered trials and tribulations. Their followers gain glory not through the toils of someone else but through their own sweat and blood.

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Is prophet-hood and revelation continued as per Quran?


The study of the holy Quran reveals the fact that whenever darkness prevails over the humanity and the nations decline ethically and morally, Allah raises a prophet amongst them who guides them from darkness to the light.

“He it is Who sends down clear signs to His servant, that He may bring you out of every kind of darkness into light. And, verily, Allah is Compassionate and Merciful to you.” (Hadeed 57:10)

Our Muslim brothers and sisters agree with us in principle that presently the Muslim Ummah is at the declining stage facing regression and domination by non-Muslim powers. But, ironically, they don’t agree that Allah shall raise any prophet to redress this situation. They claim that having a matchless book like the Quran, they don’t need any prophet or reformer whatsoever.

This stance is apparently, against the teachings of the Quran, which emphatically link the teaching with the teacher and declares that only a teacher with the help of the teachings of the Book can lead humanity to light from the darkness. It is the habit and nature of disbelievers that they deny the need of a divine teacher. In Sura Bani-Israel, verse-92, Allah has quoted the disbelievers demanding the holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) to ascend to heavens and bring back a book, which they shall read themselves; whereas Allah has mentioned the duty of the prophet to “teach them the book and the wisdom”.

Walking on the footsteps of earlier disbelievers, the modern day opponents of divine mission of Ahmadiyyat claim that we do not need any divine teacher. We have a perfect book, which can lead us to guidance. But apparently, the holy Quran negates their claim.

In the light of our substantially proved claim that the Promised Messiah (Peace be upon him) being that teacher and the holy Quran being that book, it is our duty to present before them the true teachings of Quran and guide them from darkness to the light. For this purpose, here is the Reply of a very important Question for The Holy Quran:

Is prophet-hood and revelation continued as per Quran?

COMPLETION OF RELIGION & PERFECTION OF BLESSING:

By quoting the verse (4) of Sura Mayeda,

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

They claim that Allah has perfected the religion for us and has completed the blessing. So, we don’t need any prophet. This is a clear and manifest deception and shatters away by looking at other verses of the Quran. It is not customary for every prophet to bring new religion. In the following verse Allah mentions that there were some prophets with whom Allah talked, meaning thereby that He gave them Sharia and for some He just elevated their ranks meaning that they were just made prophets and no new law was given to them.

These messengers have We exalted some of them above others; among them there are those to whom Allah spoke; and some of them He exalted in degrees of rank. And We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs and strengthened him with the spirit of holiness. And if Allah had so willed, those that came after them would not have fought with one another after clear Signs had come to them; but they did disagree. Of them were some who believed, and of them were some who disbelieved. And if Allah had so willed, they would not have fought with one another; but Allah does what He desires” [2:254]

Similarly, in the following verse Allah mentions that many prophets of Israelites did not bring any new religion, but were acting upon Torah.

“Surely, We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to US, judge for the Jews, as did the godly people and those learned in the Law, because they were required to preserve the Book of Allah, and because they were guardians over it. Therefore fear not men but fear ME; and barter not My signs for a paltry price. And whoso judges not by that which Allah has sent down, these it is who are the disbelievers.” [5:45]

The second part of the verse (4) of Sura Mayeda is about perfection of Blessing. The interpretation of non-Ahmadi mullah, that by “ATMAMTO ALAIKUM NE’MATI” means that I have finished the prophet-hood upon you, is rebutted by the following verse of Sura Yousaf, wherein same word and same process has been stated not only for Hadhrat Yousaf but also for his grand fathers Hadhrat Ishaq and Hadhrat Ibraheem.

And thus, as thou hast seen, thy Lord shall choose thee and teach thee the interpretations of things divine and perfect His favour upon thee and upon the family of Jacob as He perfected it upon thy two forefathers – Abraham and Isaac. Verily, thy Lord is All-Knowing, Wise“ [12:7]

IS THE BOOK SUFFICIENT ALONE?

Some people claim that we have a perfect and comprehensive book like Quran and we do not need any prophet. In the following verse Allah mentions that only book cannot guide, but it is given to a person who guides people.

 

“Alif Lam Ra. This is a Book which We have revealed to thee that thou mayest bring mankind out of the depths of darkness into light, by the command of their Lord, to the path of the Mighty, the Praiseworthy” [14:2]

In the following verse of Sura Bani Israel, a common characteristic of non-believers is mentioned who want the prophet to bring the book only and not teach them its contents.

“Or, thou have a house of gold or thou ascend up into heaven; and we will not believe in thy ascension until thou send down to us a Book that we can read.’ Say, ‘Holy is my Lord! I am but a mortal sent as a Messenger.” [17:94]

Against the whims and desires of the non-believers, Allah has specifically mentioned in the Holy Quran the responsibility and duty of the holy Prophet (pbuh) to teach them the Book and wisdom, not to handover the book only for their reading pleasure.

“He it is Who has raised among the unlettered people a Messenger from among themselves who recites unto them His Signs, and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and Wisdom though before that they were in manifest error;” [62:3]

Now, we proceed to bring evidence from the holy Quran regarding the possibility of prophet-hood.

CHILDREN OF ADAM:

“O children of Adam, If Messengers come to you from among yourselves, rehearsing My Signs unto you, then whoso shall fear God and do good deeds, on them shall come no fear nor shall they grieve.” [7:36]

As we are all children of Adam, the possibility of prophet-hood is still open to us. Allah has stated that He shall raise Messengers “from among us” not “from above us” as non-Ahmadis are waiting for Jesus to come down from heavens.

Secondly, the outcome of heeding to those prophets is deliverance from fear and grief. The situation of post colonial Muslim Ummah specially after 9/11 shows that they are engulfed in the fear and grief, which is apparently the repercussion of denial of the Promised Messiah (Peace be upon him).

REWARDS OF OBEDIENCE

Allah has taught us a great prayer in Sura Fateha to guide us to the path of those whom He has blessed.

“Guide us in the right path — The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, those who have not incurred Thy displeasure, and those who have not gone astray”. [1:6,7]

In the following verse Allah has explained that who are those blessed people.

“And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings – the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. And an excellent company are they”. [4:70]

The context of this verse also explains this subject. In the preceding verses (60 to 69), the Muslims have been advised to obey Allah and His prophet which can ultimately lead them to the right path and then the above verse explains that to be on right path means to be amongst one of these four categories.

Non-Ahmadi scholars argue that in this verse the word “Ma’a” means “with” and not “amongst” and even this companionship shall be in the world hereafter and not in this world. So the righteous people shall be “with” those blessed people but not amongst them. This interpretation deprives the Muslim Ummah of all categories and ranks of righteousness. According to this point of view no Muslim can ever become even a righteous person, let alone a prophet. Further, how those who do not get this status in this world can achieve them in the hereafter. Allah says in verse 73 of Sura Bani Israel that whosoever is blind in this world shall be raised as blind in the hereafter. Thus, in order to get a status in the next world, one has to have that in this world.

Secondly, this word “Ma’a” has been used in the following verses of the holy Quran expressing the meaning of “amongst”.

“And it moved along with them amid waves like mountains. And Noah cried unto his son, while he was keeping apart, ‘O my son, embark with us and be not with the disbelievers.” [11:43]

“God said, ‘O Iblis, what has happened to thee that thou wouldst not be among those who submit?” [15:33]

“Our Lord, we have heard a Crier calling us unto faith, saying, ‘Believe ye in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord, forgive us, therefore, our sins and remit from us our evils and in death join us with the righteous;” [3:194]

THE IMPERFECT VERB (MUZAR’E)

The imperfect verb in Arabic grammar has the dual time expression, i.e., present and future. A muzar’e verb expresses present and future at the same time. The following verses of the Quran clearly manifest the possibility of prophet-hood.

“And when there comes to them a Sign, they say, ‘We will not believe until we are given the like of that which Allah’s Messengers have been given.’ Allah knows best where to place His Message. Surely, humiliation before Allah and a severe punishment shall afflict the offenders because of their plotting”. [6:125]

“Allah chooses His Messengers from among angels and from among men. Surely, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”. [22:76]

“He is of most exalted attributes, Lord of the Throne. He sends His Word by His command to whomsoever of His servants He pleases, that He may give warning of the Day of Meeting,” [40:16]

THE WAYS OF REVELATION

In the following verse Allah has mentioned three ways of His communication or revelation to people. If revelation has been discontinued, according to non-Ahmadi interpretation, then Allah wouldn’t have mentioned these ways in an ever-lasting book like Quran.

“And it is not for a man that Allah should speak to him except by direct revelation, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command what He pleases. Surely, He is High, Wise”. [42:52]

HE WHO DOESN’T TALK IS NOT GOD !

In this verse Allah has mentioned the incidence when the Israelites took the golden calf as their god. Allah negates the divinity of that calf by merely saying that how can that calf be their god when it doesn’t talk to them. It clearly shows that to talk is an attribute of God and we cannot think of a God who doesn’t talk and communicate with people.

“And the people of Moses made, in his absence, out of their ornaments, a calf – a lifeless body, producing a lowing sound. Did they not see that it spoke not to them, nor guided them to any way? They took it for worship and they were transgressors.”  [7:149]

 DENIAL OF FINALITY OF PROPHETHOOD

“And, indeed, they thought, even as you think that Allah would never raise any Messenger” [72:8]

“And Joseph, indeed, came to you before with clear proofs, but you ceased not to be in doubt concerning that which he came to you till, when he died, you said, ‘Allah will never raise a Messenger after him.’ Thus does Allah adjudge as having gone astray every transgressor, doubter –“ [40:35]

In the above two verses Allah has categorically denied the cessation of prophet-hood and calls those, who claim that now no new prophet shall ever come, as gone astray, transgressors and doubters. These verses also show that finality of prophet-hood is not a new belief and those who adopt such belief are doubters of God’s mercy.

IS THE PROPHET-HOOD BENEFICIAL OR HARMFUL?

A believer cannot even think for a moment that prophet-hood is harmful for mankind. All religious people believe that Allah established prophet-hood for the benefit and guidance of mankind. So how can a beneficial thing be terminated, as we see Allah’s principle in the following verse that beneficial things for mankind stay in the earth.

“He sends down water from the sky so that the valleys flow according to their measure and the flood bears on its surface swelling foam. And from that which they heat in the fire, seeking to make ornaments or utensils, comes out a foam similar to it. Thus does Allah illustrate truth and falsehood. Now, as to the foam it goes away as rubbish and perishes but as to that which benefits men, it stays in the earth. Thus does Allah set forth parables.” [13:18]

 ANGELS’ DESCENT

“As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah;’ and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them, reassuring them: ‘Fear not, nor grieve; and rejoice in the glad tidings of the Garden which you were promised;” [41:31]

This self-explanatory verse is clearly heralding the descent of angels upon those who believe and remain steadfast and communication of good news to them from their Lord. How can one believe discontinuation of Allah’s communication with His servants?

 PURE TREE:

“Dost thou not see how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word? It is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches reach into heaven? It brings forth its fruit at all times by the command of its Lord. And Allah sets forth parables for men that they may be reminded”. [14:25, 26]

These verses of Sura Ibraheem tell us that the likeness of Islam is of a pure tree which has its roots firm in the ground and its branches are reaching heavens and that it shall always produce its fruits.

REVIVAL OF DEAD EARTH:

“Has not the time yet arrived for those who believe that their hearts should feel humbled at the remembrance of Allah and at the truth which has come down to them, and that they should not become like those who were given the Book before them, but because the period of the bestowal of Allah’s grace upon them was prolonged for them, their hearts became hardened, and many of them became rebellious? Know, then, that Allah quickens the earth after its death. We have made the Signs manifest to you, that you may understand.” [57: 17, 18]

In these verses of Sura Hadeed Allah has mentioned an irrefutable and invariable principle that when a long time passes after a prophet, his followers become perverts and their hearts become hard. This hardness and deviation is corrected with revival of message through another prophet. The allegory mentioned here is that of earth when it becomes dry and hard after a long dry period without rain and it is revitalized by rain.

 THE “BELIEVERS” ARE ASKED TO BELIEVE!

“O ye who believe! believe in Allah and His Messenger and in the Book, which He had revealed to His Messenger, and the Book, which He revealed before it. And whoso disbelieves in Allah and His angels, and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day, has surely strayed far away”. [4:137]

“O ye who believe! Shall I point out to you a commerce, which will deliver you from a painful punishment? That you believe in Allah and His Messenger, and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your persons. That is better for you, if you did but know.” [61: 11, 12]

In the above verses, the “believers” are being called upon to believe and help any new prophet raised amongst them. This commandment is in accordance with the “COVENANT” taken by Allah from all the prophets.

 THE COVENANT OF THE PROPHETS

“And remember the time when Allah took a covenant from the people through the Prophets, saying, ‘Whatever I give you of the Book and Wisdom and then there comes to you a Messenger, fulfilling that which is with you, you shall believe in him and help him.’ And He said, ‘Do you agree, and do you accept the responsibility which I lay upon you in this matter?’ They said, ‘We agree.’ He said, ‘Then bear witness and I am with you among the witnesses.” [3:82]

In this verse, Allah has mentioned the covenant, which He took from all the prophets regarding acceptance and help of any such prophet who testifies the teachings they already have. Non-Ahmadi religious scholars argue that Hadhrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is not included in this covenant. This misconception is cleared by the following verse wherein Allah has specifically mentioned the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) by addressing him.

“And call to mind when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from thee, and from Noah and Abraham, and Moses and Jesus, son of Mary, and We indeed, took from them a solemn covenant;” [33:8]

This verse explains that this covenant was not only taken from the previous prophets but also from the holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him). According to this covenant, the Muslim Ummah has been made responsible that whenever a prophet comes to them who testify Islam and accept the holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) as the Seal of the Prophets, they have to accept him and support him.

In the issue of April 1988 of the magazine “Khatm-e-Nabuwwat” a mullah tried to mislead the people by writing that in verse -158 of Sura Al-A’raaf Allah has mentioned that the holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) has freed the Muslims from their responsibility which is the same responsibility mentioned in the verse of covenant as no new prophet is to come whom we have to accept and support.

The first reply of this statement is that in the last verses of Sura Baqara Allah mentioned that Allah does not put such burden on anybody which they can not carry or have to throw away later.

Secondly the word mentioned in verse-158 of Sura Al-A’araff is (ISRAHUM) means their responsibility which represents those burdens which humans assume themselves and later they wish to throw away but can’t do that without divine help; whereas the word mentioned in the verse under discussion is (ISREE) my responsibility.

Once, the companions of the holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) decided on their own not to share beds with their wives during Ramadan, although there is no such commandment in the holy Quran. Later, those who couldn’t keep their self-imposed restriction came to the holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and sought forgiveness. Upon this Allah revealed the verse that it is lawful upon you to go to your wives during Ramadan except that you are in mandatory seclusion (aitkaaf). So this burden, responsibility or restriction was imposed by the companions themselves and not by Allah.

Similarly Allah mentioned in Sura Alam-Nashra about the holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) that Allah removed “his burden” which was going to break his back.

“Have We not opened for thee thy bosom, And removed from thee thy burden, Which had well-nigh broken thy back?” [94:2-4]

It is therefore very well clear that Allah doesn’t put any responsibility on humans which He later had to remove being excessive and improportioned to their capacity. It is humans who assume such heavy responsibilities which Allah later removes from them.

Allah has reminded this “covenant” in the following verse exhorting people to fulfill their promise and believe in the prophet who hasn’t brought a new religion but calling them towards their own God they already believe in.

“Why is it that you believe not in Allah, while the Messenger calls you to believe in your Lord, and He has already taken a covenant from you, if indeed you are believers?” [57:9]

The repercussions and consequences of breaking this covenant have been mentioned in the following verse:

“And those who break the covenant of Allah, after having established it and cut asunder what Allah has commanded to be joined, and act corruptly in the earth, on them is the curse of Allah and they shall have a grievous abode.” [13:26]

We are very fortunate to witness all these incidents happening before us. Those who broke the covenant by rejecting the Promised Messiah (Peace be upon him), did not stop there and cut that which they were ordained to join, i.e., the unity of Ummah by declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslim and then they started doing demonstrations and created law and order situation in the earth. The wrath of God fell upon them and now they find no peace anywhere.

(Get more replies of various questions at: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/truthfulness/question_1.html)





The belief in the prophets


THE BELIEF IN THE PRPOHETS

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 Quran speaks of the many prophets who mostly belong to the Middle Eastern line of prophethood, beginning with Adam upto 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 Quran relating to this issue:

a) 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 do not find mention in the Quran.

b) 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 Quran, 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:

There was a prophet of God in India who was dark in colour and his name was Kahan.1

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 Quran 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 Quran, 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 Quranic claim that the teachings of the Quran 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 Christian 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 or Moses 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, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad 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 Quran — 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 Quran, 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 stand as a sign of his being informed by an All-Knowing Being. 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, which are understood to indicate their superhuman character, the categorical and clear statements of the Quran 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 Quran 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 Quran 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 Quran 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:

Say to them: ‘My Lord is far above (such childish conduct). I am no more than a human being and a prophet.’ Surah Bani-Israel (Ch. 17: V.94)

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 Quran 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 Quran. Again there are clear prophecies about such divine Founder of Islam and the Holy Book — the Quran. The following verse of Surah Al-Nisa leaves no ambiguity about this:

And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger of His shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings, namely, the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. Surah Al-Nisa (Ch. 4: V.70)

In short, Islam is declared in the Quran 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 Muhammadsa.

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

  1. How to improve one’s relationship with God.
  2. 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.