Last Updated on 10th April 2021
Prof Wragge: In the Bible it is written that Adam, or the first man, as he should be called, was created in the region mentioned in Genesis, chapter II. Are we to understand that the various human races found all across the world like in America and Australia etc. are descendants from the same common ancestor?
The Promised Messiahas: We are not of that opinion; we do not agree with the Biblical view that the world began only about six or seven thousand years ago, with the creation of Adam, and that till then there existed nothing at all. This would imply a previous period when God, so to say, was inert and inactive and His attributes were in a state of abeyance – a view which we can never accept. Nor do we believe that the different races scattered all over the world have exclusively descended from this one Adam.
We believe that human beings existed even before the time of Adam [spoken of in the Old Testament]. This view is clearly implied in the words of the Holy Quran where it says انی جاعل فی الارض خليفة [I am about to place a Khalifa in the earth]. The word خليفة [khalifa] means a successor. This verse implies, therefore, that Allah’s creation existed before Adam. Consequently, with regard to the races found in America and Australia, we are not in a position to say whether they have descended from this last Adam or from a different ancestor or ancestors.
There is a saying of Hazrat Mohy-ud-Din Ibn-e-Arabi that bears on this question. He writes that when he went on pilgrimage to Mecca, he met a man there who, he thought, was Adam. He asked the man if he was Adam to which the man replied, “There have been thousands of Adams; which of them do you seek?”
Prof Wragge: Do you believe in evolution and hold that man has progressed by degrees from lower stages of life to higher ones, and that he evolved first from a snake, scorpion etc. into an ape and then evolved into a man. [Also] when did the soul come into existence?
The Promised Messiahas: We do not consider that man was formerly an ape whose tail disappeared and whose hair fell off in the course of a long process of evolution culminating in a human being. That humans have descended from an ape is a claim, the onus of proof for which lies on those who put forth this view. They cannot prove the truth of this theory unless they can show an ape in the process of emerging into a human being. How can we accept such fanciful stories?
Nevertheless, we do accept lots of Adams have passed; however, according to what we know at the moment and what we observe every day, humans are born from humans. An ape giving birth to a human or a human giving birth to an ape has never been observed by anyone. This is just a story like those in novels.
A species always gives birth to the same species. The law of God in this respect is plain for anyone who cares to see; the offspring of a donkey is always a donkey; the offspring of a horse is always a horse and monkeys reproduce only monkeys. As opposed to this unfailing universal law, if anyone claims that monkeys at one time gave birth to human beings, it behoves them to prove their case. Simply saying that perhaps it was so, has no substance. Allah the Almighty has put before us an observable proof – those who want to oppose this should present a clear proof, otherwise nothing is proven true through a mere claim.
As for the soul, this too is a creation [of God]. It is generated by God Almighty from matter in the human body [at a certain stage in its existence] – I have discussed this topic in detail in my new published book, Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat. The human soul, while hidden and latent, already exists in the human sperm. During the changes which the sperm goes through in the womb, the [primitive] soul too goes through a process of evolution. At the end of the fourth month of pregnancy, or the beginning of the fifth, a radical transformation takes place and the human soul emerges, as Allah the Almighty says:
ثُمَّ اَنۡشَاۡنٰهُ خَلۡقًا اٰخَرَ
[then We developed it into another creation] [Surah al-Mu‘minun, Ch.23: V.15]
It is a serious error to assume, as the Arya Samajists do, that the human soul is co-eternal with God. This view, when we follow all the implications, ends in God not being God at all and only by name.
The human soul is a rarefied essence, created by God that grows along with the other processes of growth in the life of humans. For instance, take the fruit that grows on the cluster fig tree. Even when unripe, this fruit contains, in an incomplete form, the living eggs of certain insects, which, with the ripening of the fruit, develop into living insects who are found in the fruit, and often, when you break the fruit open, you can see them fly away. In addition to the cluster fig there are a number of other trees the fruit of which offers instances of this kind.
Thus, what we perceive to be going on around us in nature, supports our point of view. A truth established on the basis of observation and experience should not be ignored. In reality, fruits of the kind mentioned above come into being with certain matter already present in them which grow as the fruit grows in size and ripens.
Prof Wragge: Those who believe in spiritualism hold that life has come down from the moon, and intelligence from Jupiter and that the moon was from the earth. The earth in the early stages, they say, was extremely soft, at which time a portion of it flew apart and went swimming in space and became what we know as the moon. They hold, thus, that life really originated in this earth, from where it travelled to the moon when the fragment broke away from it, and from the moon it descends upon man. What is your view with regard to this matter?
The Promised Messiahas: We recognise that the sun and the moon and all other heavenly bodies have an effect and influence [on the earth]. Humans take benefit from their effects too and even when the child is in the mother’s womb, it is subject to their influences. Islam does not oppose this principle and we see no reason why we should hesitate to accept it. Moonlight, undoubtedly, has a great influence over crops – it helps fruits grow, makes them sweet and some people have even heard the cracking of pomegranates as they burst open at night under the influence of moonlight.
As for further and intricate details not yet well established, we are not prepared to accept them. It is plainly stated in the Holy Quran that the sun and the moon and all other heavenly bodies are the servants of mankind and useful to them. We therefore do not hesitate to believe that we derive benefit from all heavenly bodies just as we derive benefit from crops. If it is proven that intelligence has some connection with Jupiter, we will be ready to accept that too.
(At this point, Prof Clement Wragge said: “I used to think science and religion hugely contradicted each other, as is the common belief amongst learned men. However, you have completely removed this contradiction.”
In response, the Promised Messiahas said: “This is part of our mission; we are proving that science and religion have no disagreement; rather, religion is in complete harmony with science and no matter how far science advances, it will never be able to falsify the teachings of the Holy Quran and the principles of Islam.”)
Prof Wragge: In connection with the soul, how should we name what is found in flies and similar living creatures low in the scale of life?
The Promised Messiahas: The soul is of three kinds, 1. the plant soul 2. The animal soul 3. The human soul. We do not believe that all three stand on a footing of equality. Of these, it is the human soul alone that inherits true life and combines in itself the seed of all perfections. The other two forms, the souls of plants and animals, also have a type of life but those souls cannot compare with the human soul, nor can they reach the ranks that human souls can. They cannot compare with human souls in terms of beauties and abilities either. Even if there are some similarities, I wish not to get into this minute debate. It is conceivable that there are some points of resemblance, but just as externally there is evident difference between humans and these lower forms of life, similarly there are vast differences between their spiritual capabilities.
In fact, it is admitted that a crude and elementary form of sensitiveness is to be found between plant lives too. If a bamboo is planted under a roof, it continues to grow straight until it reaches within a few inches of the roof, then it deflects the direction of its growth. Then there is the plant popularly called “touch-me-not” in Punjabi; the moment it is touched, its leaves contract. These facts are recorded in old reliable scientific works and they are borne out by common observation. But questions of this kind need not too much attention. A layman can better utilise his time in other ways […] going into minute debates about this and wanting to find out all details and wasting time in doing so is not good.
Prof Wragge: Once, I went to a church and the priest there said that “humans are despicable and filthy creatures. They continue to fall every day and do not have the ability to progress. This is why, to give them salvation and to protect them from sin, God sent His only son for atonement.”
However, I know humans can progress in doing good. If this child of mine does something bad right now due to his ignorance and not knowing [the difference between good and bad], then after some time, when he gains intelligence and his knowledge increases, he will himself understand that this act is wrong and will stay away from it and do good acts instead. What do you believe in this regard?
The Promised Messiahas: Humans are good; they can do good deeds and have been given the abilities to excel and progress. A person can progress in good and, as a result, achieve salvation.
Prof Wragge: These people [Christians] say that even if someone does hundreds of thousands of good deeds, they are still doomed for destruction, unless they believe in the atonement of Jesus. What do you say about this?
The Promised Messiahas: A person is required to take actions and to strive. There is no need for atonement. The spiritual system is just like the physical one. Consider the example of a harvester (in the physical system). Observe how hard he toils to plough, plant seeds and give water etc.
We do not accept that there is no salvation besides atonement. In fact, the concept of atonement is a hurdle in the way of human progress.
Prof Wragge: What is meant by purity?
The Promised Messiahas: Purity means a person is not overcome by their human carnal passions that take them away from God Almighty and aim to immerse them [in those passions]. [Purity is] that a person walks according to God’s pleasure until no utterance or action of his is carried out without the pleasure and decision of God.
God is Holy and Pure. He guides mankind according to His attributes. He is Merciful and wants mercy from mankind too. He is Generous and wants mankind to be generous. God Almighty’s attributes are observable in nature. Physically, we observe the world has existed for a very long time. God has provided mankind with sustenance, water, clothing, light etc. – He has continued to provide for all human essentials and needs. And, at all times, His attributes of mercy and grace and all of His beautiful names have helped and assisted creation. Thus, the purpose of this is that God Almighty desires to imbue mankind with the colours of His attributes.
At this, Prof Clement L Wragge and his wife thanked the Promised Messiahas and said they were very thankful that he gave them audience, spoke to them, showed courtesy, increased their knowledge and that they enjoyed their time with him.
(Malfuzat, Vol. 10, pp. 432-438; translated by Al Hakam, with assistance from the translation published in The Review of Religions, May 1939)