100 Years Ago… – Ahmadiyyat continues to spread in Colombo, Ceylon

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Al Fazl, 29 September 1921

Dear Editor Al Fazlassalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Sardar Abdur Rahman Sahib BA has recently come here [to Ceylon]. Every day, he gives lectures in English after Maghrib prayers, which are translated into Tamil and conveyed [to the audience]. The people are benefiting a lot [from the lectures]. 

It was the first time that the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Ceylon, held a public lecture in the town hall and all the audience was well-educated, including people who were BA, MA, pleaders, barristers, priests etc. The total number of attendees was around six to seven hundred. Previously, no Muslim has ever given a public lecture over here. The lecture was in English and lasted for an hour and 25 minutes.

It was announced in our newspaper and other English newspapers through advertisements that Sardar Sahib would give a lecture in English on the issue of reincarnation from an Islamic point of view. This [topic was selected because the issues of] rebirth and reincarnation were being hotly debated in newspapers and lectures in Ceylon for about a month, or at least 20 days. The people participating [in the said debates] included Buddhists, Christians and agnostic Americans. Hence, people were keenly interested in this issue.

Islam and reincarnation

Sardar Sahib explained that Islam, according to the views of Hindus and present-day Buddhism, neither agreed with this view that human beings are punished after death by being reincarnated from one animal to another, nor did it believe that man’s sorrow and happiness are the fruit of the sin and goodness of the previous birth. 

1. The [first] reason for [not agreeing to] this viewpoint is that such a punishment cannot lead to the reformation of a person by becoming aware of his sins and wrongdoings, because the wrongdoer [according to this concept] is not given knowledge of his past sins.

2. Moreover, God cannot be so unmerciful that He snatches away the previously acquired knowledge and experiences after death, and re-creates someone ignorant [of prior knowledge] and puts them in the process of a second birth, and due to their ignorance, leads them to do more sins.

3. Furthermore, as it is considered a sin to kill even an ant, so when taking one life results in being reincarnated to various animals for a cycle of million years, then the sins of a dog, lion or goat would continue to expand the cycle of their reincarnation. Consequently, it would be impossible for anyone to become human again.

4. On the other hand, if soul and matter – which are considered to be uncreated [i.e. they are eternal] – are not dependent on God for their creation, then why would they rely on God for their existence, transmission and reincarnation?

Buddhism and reincarnation

Due to being distant from the prophets, this concept [of reincarnation] has become common among Hindus and Buddhists. However, the actual teaching that Buddha gave in Mahavagga is against the current Buddhism and in accordance with the law of nature and universal events. 

It clearly says that as long as Buddha followed the Vedas, he had a spiritual likeness to a snake, a lion, a rabbit, a woman, a monkey etc. in this very life. Although the body was apparently human, in terms of attributes, weaknesses and sins, he was an embodiment of the characteristics and habits of the above-mentioned animals. However, when he abandoned the Vedas and received enlightenment from divine revelation, he never again confessed to being the manifestation of animal tendencies and never said, “I become a slave to carnal desires like animals.” 

These are the actual facts. Some books contain references in support of reincarnation, but it is unwise to confuse the earlier sayings of Gautama Buddha with his final teaching.

The arrival of the Promised Messiah

He [Sardar Sahib] then went on to say that Islam strongly denied reincarnation and strongly opposed the idea that a human soul could enter another body in this very world. However, Islam agrees to the fact that the attributes of one human being can be found in another. Hence, in this age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was sent with the attributes of the previous prophets. Now, by believing in him, man can achieve nearness of God.

The impact of the lecture [on the people of] Colombo

There was a great, positive impact [on the people of] the city. An American agnostic, or seeker of truth, who has been embittering the Colombo clergy for two weeks, said in the lecture hall, “What I have acquired in this one hour and 25 minutes, I could not have learned during my three years in Egypt.” He expressed his desire for an opportunity to meet [the lecturer] and the public also wished for more, similar lectures.

AP Ibrahim, Malabar, Colombo.

(Translated by Al Hakam from the original in the 29 September 1921 issue of Al Fazl)

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