The Review of Religions [English], December 1921
Brethren of Lagos and its dependencies! Peace be with you and the blessings of Allah,
At this occasion, which is the first of its kind, when the Ahmadiyya community of Western Africa is going to hold its first meeting, I most sincerely and devoutly pray to Allah to vouchsafe His blessings upon the delegates and make their assemblage fruitful. Falling down before Him in humble supplication and prostrating meekly at the threshold of His infinite and unbounded mercy, I beseech His Grace to cover you whom His love has brought together as well as us who though distant in space are yet nearer in hearts. May He keep us safe from every sort of devilish doubts and temptations! May He so direct our movements, words and deeds, all together with our hearts, souls and wishes that we may live, move and have our being in Him!
Brethren who have assembled today for Allah’s love and goodwill, be it known to you that Allah is something beyond human comprehension. He cannot be found out with human means and human intellect without superhuman agency. Human effort unaided and unassisted cannot take up man far, unless He reveal Himself of His own accord and declare His existence. Unless He comes down to us who are no better than the lame, the cripple and the halt, who are unable to move a single step, nay who cannot even lift up our heads on account of our human frailties, we are doomed. We are utterly lost if He do not take us up affectionately in His lap, suckle us with the milk of His love, moisten our throat with the water of His knowledge to brace us up, invigorate our spirits, light up our intellects, sharpen our sights, increase our audibility, develop our smell, and refine our tastes in-so-much that the dead be quickened, the weak strengthened, the prostrate raised up, the lame walked, the frail leaped and bounced, the dim apperceived, the dull caught the faintest distant sound, the stop-nosed nosed out the lightest smell, and the dull-witted clearly distinguished between good and bad. Thus, sucking the milk of divine love and directed by His guidance and strengthened by His power, can man be enabled to enjoy His company and appreciate His proximity and close relationship.
Therefore, my brethren, bear in mind that to find God we must seek through Him. The best way to approach Him is through His coming down to us Himself which in other words means His sending down of His own apostles and prophets so that we may believe in them and by treading on the path chalked out by them we may draw in His love and absorb His grace, thus providing for our never-ending happiness, peace and rest.
He who has not gained this has gained nothing, for he who rests satisfied with a temporary delight as against eternal bliss and whoever is contented with a limited success rather than with the unending prosperity is like the child who prefers playing to studying, or more like a patient who prefers a savoury food to his own weal. Just as that child will repent of his folly when he grows up or again just as that patient will wring his hands and writhe with the torturing anguish of his consuming sickness, so will be the blank despair of one who instead of establishing a firm relationship with God is utterly absorbed in his worldly pursuits and the satisfaction of his lust. He will regret the day and bewail the time that lie had so wasted away in idle pursuits, nor will this repentance avail him much, for the opportunity once lest is lost forever and the dead never come back to life. Theirs then will be a lost cause, awaiting the orders of the Supreme Judge whose decrees never miscarry.
In the name of Allah and His Holy Prophet, peace be with him, I invite you to that true bliss and happiness than which there can be no greater pleasure and delight. I invite you then to that eternal bliss which is free from every tincture of grief or sorrow.
People deem it a great honour if they can get an interview with their rulers or if they can get even a momentary glance at their kings. When the latter pass through the streets with their processions, these people for hours together, sit or stand along the streets or roads, long before the appointed hour, simply to have a look at that face. But the central figure of this huge drama is utterly oblivious of the fact that someone is looking at him or her, and even if he or she could care to look at the lookers-on, that does not at all mean anything, for it does not do any good to the onlookers. Empty they come and empty they go. Nay, they are the poorer for their having a look at the royal face, for very often these people have to spend a good deal of money in order to have a glimpse of the great personage.
But hearken ye, my brethren, I call you to the King of kings, at whose court these temporal rulers are not even assigned the position of a door keeper or even a menial servant. I invite you then into the presence of One for whom you have to bear no expenses. Rather it is the Monarch who looks to your needs and amply bestows His bounteous gifts upon you. And even if you have to spend something, that is out of what He has given to you. It is like the seed that is scattered on the tilth where it takes root and sprouts forth into a green and refreshing herbage when His mercy deigns to descend in the form of timely showers and at harvest time the farmer reaps a hundred or even a thousand fold.
Remember then I summon you to the presence of One who has no secretaries to be waited upon. You have not to cajole the warders or flatter and tip the usherers. His doors are ever open and His court is ever sitting. I require your attendance at the court of Him who sleeps not and tires not, whom illness never affects nor engagement preoccupies Him.
Knowing your desire to see Him He will never put you off by pretending sleep, tiresomeness, illness, engagement or otherwise. His doors are ever open to you and He is always free and disengaged to see you. I would like you to see the king whose treasures never rim out and whose knowledge is unlimited, and there is nothing beyond His jurisdiction. He will never tell you that His budgetted allotments have been exceeded and that there is to be no provision for your needs for the current year. He will never confess His inability to devise means for the redress of your grievances. He will not excuse Himself by saying that your enemy is outside His jurisdiction.
I call you then to the Lord whose jurisdiction extends beyond this world and whose rule encompasses every world and every aspect of it. Not only is He your supporter here in this life but He will also support and sustain you in the life to come. In this world of ours, His support and sustenance may be screened off by outward barriers such as human agency but in the life to come this veil is surely to be taken off and every agency spirited away. He alone will shine forth in all His splendour and even the naked eye will perceive that He is the sole Supporter, Ruler, King and Lord of the World.
Do you then hearken to my voice and respond to my call? Are you ready to advance to see Him? If so, please, bear in mind that your God is a jealous God who does not like that aught should be associated with Him. And truly so. Is it possible to bring together light and darkness? The world with its riches and honours is utter darkness if its acquirement implies estrangement from God and opposition to His wishes; yet God is light. How can they both exist together? The world as such is filth and dirt but God is all righteousness and purity.
Is it possible that a person be in light and darkness at one and the same time? How can a man set up a claim to purity and righteousness while at the same time he be immersed and steeped in sinfulness? If it is impossible, as everybody will readily admit that it is so, then it is high time that your love for Him should far transcend your love for other things provided that you have a mind to see Him and cultivate friendship with Him.
Let your love for Him be immeasurably superior to other things; these as a matter of fact should pale into insignificance as compared with your love for Allah. I do not mean to say that you should give up loving your kith and kin but my point is that you should love them for the sake of God and through God. But if this love happens to be pitted against your love for God or if their love interferes with your love for God in any way, then you should throw it away as you would cast away dirt and filth from yourself, keeping in view the fact that the love of God should occupy the foremost place in your heart.
In the same way, I do not mean to say that you should discard all the things of this life, and having given up everything you should take to the life of an anchorite but what I intend to bring home to you is this that this life with all its appurtenances should not be the be-all and end-all of your existence. Your connection with these worldly things should be of a temporary nature.
The world may be taken to be a temporary sojourn where one is perforce to pass the few minutes of his life just as he has to pass a few minutes of his life every day in his privy. As soon as one has done with his call of nature one loses no time in quitting that offensive and stinking closet, so should be your stay here in this life. Just as you have to attend to the call of nature and shut yourself up in the private closet, not because you are fond of the place but because you can’t help it, similar must be your attachment for this world and all that it stands for.
You should not hesitate to sacrifice all this, for is it not true that all wealth and honour is due to Him? So, in expending of it in His way you are really returning only a very small portion of the trust money put into your care. This is not at all a sacrifice in the real sense of the word.
In short, dear brethren of mine, if you are minded to see Allah and gain His good-will, you should not set up aught with him, neither the stocks and stones, nor your dear and near, wealth nor position, nor any worldly honour, nor even your carnal desires; for if you do that you should be stigimatised as rebels who can never find access to His court but in chains, and as such sure to receive punishment rather than any favour.
Dear friends of mine, the divine call has been given through the Promised Messiah[as]. You have heard this call and you have responded to it. Now that you have recognised the call it is incumbent upon you to subordinate your thoughts, words and deeds to this call, for that is the divine call, the Promised Messiah[as] being only a medium. He is the pipe but not the piper. Do you think the pipe whistles of itself? Nay, there is someone else on the other end of the pipe that speaks through it and what the piper whistles on the farther end, it pipes aloud at the lower end.
So was the case with the Promised Messiah[as] who did not speak of himself but only proclaimed aloud what his Master bid him. His voice may be compared to the piping of a shepherd, who finding his flock in imminent danger of being attacked at nightfall by a wolf, plays on his flute to warn his scattered sheep of the impending danger so that they may rally round him and thus escape being devoured. The Promised Messiah[as] is the same flute which God has played upon to save His sincere devotees from the attacks of satan in these dark times. So, his voice is really God’s voice.
It is necessary then, my brethren in faith, that you stand out in morals above other men, for one that is in close proximity with light is more luminant than others. If your morality is not pre-eminently superior to others, how can you advance your claim to your being nearer to the light than others. Let Islam be your code of life, for it is Islam alone that can now guide the benighted humanity. Let love and union sway your mutual dealings. Let your hearts be free from malice and grudge and your bosoms beat in unison and affection. Stand you all together to proclaim the glory of God and strengthen your fraternal tie with this humble servant of God whom Allah has deemed fit to entrust with the safeguarding and propagation of Islam in these days, for the twig that falls apart from the root or breaks away, dries up for want of the life sap.
In the end, I again pray that Allah’s help may be with you and His protecting hand may cover your head. May you prosper before His eyes and may no snares or pitfalls befall you. May your heart be saturated with His love and your heads infused with his spirit. May your goal be one and only one, viz., the attainment of Allah’s nearness and His good will! Amen!
(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Review of Religions [English], December 1921)