Below is a comprehensive answer written in reply to an enquirer by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra in Urdu and translated into English by M Ali Muhammad BA BT (Editor, The Review of Religions)
The Review of Religions (English), April 1921
There is such a thing as a prescription for the peace of mind, and hundreds, and at times, thousands of people have tried it and found it useful. Peace of mind means freedom from cares and protection from the danger of ruin.
Those who boast of its acquisition do not really possess it but have only become callous to pain and trouble. They may be likened to a child who tries to awaken his dead mother and misinterpreting her silence as a smile bursts into laughter.
True peace of mind has its foundation in reason. Let us take an example.
Two persons travel through a plague-stricken district and both are feeling secure; one because he believes that everything is controlled by destiny and that one’s sickness cannot pass to another. But his sense of security is a delusion due to ignorance. The other man has his mind at rest because he has undergone inoculation which has more than once proved to be preventive of the disease for a certain period. So both feel secure but the former’s sense of security leads him to ruin while that of the latter is based on verified facts.
The sense of security is therefore both false and true, and only the latter should be sought after. As a matter of fact, no human being is free from pain and trouble, be he a prophet or a politician, a scientist or a seer.
Troubles have been spared neither to kings nor to prophets, and it is well known that physical conditions particularly affect mental peace. Now the question is, whether it is possible to acquire peace of mind under these circumstances.
I do believe that it is possible of attainment for it is not the physical pain but the apprehension of its consequences that causes uneasiness. A hardship which is considered to be a steppingstone to further progress does not disturb our peace of mind. Every work of responsibility is attended with a good deal of trouble and anxiety but those who take pride in their mental attainments seek out for themselves tasks that fit in with their high intellects and are not daunted by the obstacles that come in their way.
Hence, every trouble does not destroy our internal peace but only that which a man thinks is the sure cause of his destruction. A pain or grief which he thinks will finally result in something good for him does not at all disturb his peace; rather it strengthens it. If a man is exposed throughout his life to privations and hardships such as are likely to produce good results for him, he does not lose his mental peace; he loses it only when he is not sure of his end or is doubtful about his mission in the world.
Consequently, we find Godly and God-fearing persons always happy at heart, notwithstanding severe hardships and insurmountable difficulties in their way. Not only do their faces show signs of happiness, but their hearts are full of bliss and certainty, which have their foundation in reason and are not the result of ignorance, for they have found out God the Almighty Who is the fountain head of all blessings, Who controls every atom of the universe, and Who possesses the power to remove all troubles. They do not look at Him from a distance, rather they have found a way whereby to attain His pleasure and attract His love. Nothing overawes them, or disturbs their peace of mind. They know that He controls the universe and that He loves them and to Him they entrust everything.
So the afflictions they are subjected to are not meant to bring about their destruction, for who can suffer to see his beloved one perish.
No doubt God does not generally interfere with the laws of nature, having left the world to work out its own salvation, but everything has its limits. He cannot suffer to see His dear ones perish for nothing and accorded the same treatment as is meted out to His enemies. So on every occasion when their own power of resistance fails, He sends them help and vouchsafes to them His protection. And to those upon whom He chooses to send down continuous calamities, He vouchsafes certainty and knowledge to such a degree that all doubts are kept at a distance. They regard these cares and trials as a source of blessings for themselves and this is not due to any flight of imagination but is the outcome of real perfect certainty.
Such people cannot be said to be suffering. They are above all cares. They look upon worldly calamities with a scornful smile while its vicissitudes can hardly affect them. Their share of pains is far greater than that of other people, so that God may show the strength of their mind to the world and give proof of His own power. Apparently they seem to be suffering but their hearts are full of joy. Moreover they suffer for the sake of others, and to suffer for others is a pleasure in itself. So they are twice pleased, firstly because they know they are suffering for others and secondly because they are secure against any danger of ruin.
Men of this class have their anxiety and grief removed in extraordinary ways, with the result that their faith is ever increasing.
I may relate here my personal experience. A few months back a person reported the death of a certain doctor in Mesopotamia. No serious attention was paid to the report as letters had been received from the said doctor himself only a short time before. But later accounts, private as well as official, confirmed the report.
I [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra] was troubled at heart on the receipt of these letters and my grief was intensified to find the Ahmadi medical students of Amritsar disheartened on account of the sad incident. The said doctor was gifted with charming manners and had only recently left his college. How keenly I felt the sudden and premature death of the young doctor who was the only son of his aged parents, and how I wished for his life!
In this state of mind, I went to sleep and was at once assured that the doctor was alive and that I had been misinformed. When I woke up, I was reassured, but wondered how the dead man could come to life.
After a week or more, a [relative of the doctor] came to me and said that a telegram had been received from him to the effect that he was alive and that there was nothing to be anxious about.
Later reports showed that he had been taken for dead by mistake, while as a matter of fact he had fallen into the hands of the Bedouins, who kept him prisoner for a considerable time, but at last he managed to make good his escape.
This is only one of the numerous ways by which the Compassionate and Merciful God assures His lovers of His existence. Theirs are lives of happiness. Every trial adds to their faith and makes it firmer, because they witness one more proof of their protector’s power.
There is only one way to attain peace of mind, and that is to attain union with that Great Being Who is the Creator and Controller of all those causes which bring about pain or loss to human beings. The changes in the universe are too numerous for the greatest of scientists to control. He is, as it were, only gathering pebbles on the shore of knowledge. He has neither himself attained to mental peace, nor can he impart it to others. Wealth cannot give him peace of mind, nor honour, skill, power or knowledge. All these things are limited and each one of them brings a new trial in its train.
If one gives comfort, the other gives pain. The question, then, remains, how to attain this degree, how to assure oneself of God’s existence and how to get internal peace.
I declare that to attain union with God there is only one door open – belief in and faithful adherence to the Islamic teachings as expounded by Hazrat Mirza Gulam Ahmad of Qadian, peace be on him. Reason is one way for the attainment of this object as it leads a seeker after truth to certainty. Another way is to keep company with a Godly person whose attention and care remove a lot of doubts without logical reasoning.
One who honestly uses these two means can easily verify the truth of Islam and of the Ahmadiyya movement. His faith is then founded on reason and arguments and not on mere supposition. Again, he can attain to this stage by practicing Islamic injunctions.
After this stage has been attained a man becomes secure against fire and acquires a certain and sure degree of mental peace. The Almighty God has already made it easy of attainment.
(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original article in The Review of Religions [English], April 1921)