A series looking at the high standard of morals of the Promised Messiahas when receiving visitors in Qadian
Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam
“On 1 August 1899, after the Maghribprayer, a Hindu sadhu (ascetic), from a well-known class of people, came to visit Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas and then went on to have a discussion with him. The following is a summary or abridgement penned in my own words according to memory.” (Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira, Editor Al Hakam)
The Promised Messiah: Is your practice of meditation according to the tenets of Sanatan Dharma or the principles of the Arya Samaj?
Ascetic: It is according to the Sanatan Dharam.
The Promised Messiah: The Arya Samaj are a sect with words but no action.
Ascetic: Absolutely. These people do not believe in the need for a spiritual teacher [guru]. In fact, they do not even believe in Dayananda [Saraswati] to be a spiritual guide. They simply say that he showed them a path and now, everyone ought to follow it.
The Promised Messiah: Your meditation is full of very strenuous exercises.
Ascetic: Yes, indeed.
The Promised Messiah: After this exercise, do you develop some sort of strength or power, which causes one to perceive that love which the individual engaged in meditation, possesses for God? Love cannot be perceived or seen to exist until a perfect expression is made from both sides.
On the one hand, man must be ready to bear all sorts of grief and pain in the fervour of love, while on the other hand, Parameshwara [God]endows a lustre or parkash [light] to such a person, which distinguishes them from others in general.
Ascetic: Yes, a person does manage to develop a certain degree of strength and power.
The Promised Messiah: Please, do relate something in the context of this power and strength; not something that you have heard of, but something you have witnessed yourself, either in your guru or in his guru.
You see, things that we have heard about do not possess the same effect, no matter how true they may be, and people consider them to be nothing more than tales and fables.
For example, someone may say that there is a certain country where humans fly. Now, there can be no doubt that we would be reluctant in believing this because we have neither seen humans flying, nor have we taken flight ourselves. Therefore, in order to increase the strength of our faith and certainty, matters of hearsay are of no benefit. On the contrary, new and fresh observations that we witness before our eyes and even more so, things that we experience personally, do have an effect.
So, the reason I ask this question is so that you kindly tell me something of the nature that I just mentioned, which you have observed or heard personally from those who engage in this meditative exercise.
Ascetic: Our spiritual leader [guru] did possess certain qualities whereby he could discern the thoughts of others and when he said something, it would occur. His guru also possessed many such qualities, but I have not seen him. But it is one and the same, because our guru’s teacher passed away some 80 years ago and those who saw him are still alive.
The Promised Messiah: Have you also performed meditative exercises?
Ascetic: Yes, I have also undertaken such exercises.
The Promised Messiah: What have you done exactly?
Ascetic: Initially, I would engage in retreats. A single retreat lasts for eight months.
The Promised Messiah: What would you eat during that time?
Ascetic: In the beginning, I would have rice flour. Then, I began having nothing but porridge – I would boil barley in water and when the mixture would be reduced to half a vessel, I would then keep it aside. The next morning, I would have about a litre of that porridge and urinate immediately thereafter. Then, I would eat nothing.
The Promised Messiah: This did not contain iron etc., did it?
The Promised Messiah: During this period of spiritual exercise and meditation, did you witness any astonishing or remarkable sights or visions?
Ascetic: Yes, at times I would see a light that would enter my body. Then, I would also see people coming and going from afar.
After this, there were a few minutes of silence, which was finally broken by the following question posed by the Hindu ascetic. (Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira, Editor Al Hakam)
Ascetic: Do you believe Parmeshwar (God) to be aakar or nir-aakar?
At this point, Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddin Sahib explained for the benefit of the audience that aakar meant, “One that can be made into an idol” and nir-aakar meant, “A God Who does not require a sculpted form”.
The Promised Messiah: In order to worship the God that we believe in, we neither require such meditation and exercises, nor are we in need of any idol. In our religion, there is no need whatsoever to bear such difficulties in order to attain the nearness of God Almighty and witness the displays of His power. In fact, those who truly love God and are devoted to Him, can find Him in no time at all, in a very easy manner and I have experienced this myself. If man moves a single step in God’s direction, He moves two steps; if man walks swiftly towards Him, God races towards man and fills his heart with light.
In my opinion, those who make idols of God have not understood the wisdom and secret behind God Almighty keeping Himself in a state of apparent hiding. God Almighty being hidden is the very fact that opens the pathways for all of man’s quests, searches and investigations. All the knowledge and insight that has ever been revealed to man, though present all along, at some point in time, was hidden. It was the strength of man’s struggle and effort that showed its lustre and achieved the ultimate end.
The love of a true lover does not waver by the absence of their beloved, or if their beloved cannot be seen physically. In fact, physical separation results in a kind of longing, which increases the lover in their passion. How then, can someone who searches for God through an idol claim to be a true and sincere lover, when, without the aid of an idol, a person is unable to direct their full attention towards that pure and perfectly beautiful Being? A person ought to test their love themselves.
If, like the passionate lover, who, while sitting and standing and in every state, whether awake or asleep, can see nothing but the countenance of his Beloved and his full attention is forever inclined to Him, then he should know that he does truly love God Almighty and most definitely the light and love of God is present within him. However, if intermediary agencies and external ties and obstructions can divert a person’s attention from God and if one’s heart can lose sight of Him for even a moment, then I honestly say that such a person is not a lover of God Almighty and does not love Him; this is why they are deprived of the light and radiance that is granted to true lovers of God.
It is here where most people have stumbled and have rejected God. The foolish did not correctly adjudge their own love and began to think ill of God, without first taking stock of their own devotion. Therefore, in my opinion, God Almighty is apparently hidden so that the goodness and rectitude in our nature can come forth and develop further and so that our spiritual powers may be refined and polished, in order to fill us with divine light.
I publish repeated announcements and invite people to experience this for themselves. Some people call me a businessman. Everyone has their own idea and speaks accordingly. However, despite hearing all these differing voices, for what purpose do I publish announcements in all the parts of the world where people reside, be it in Europe or America etc.?
I have no purpose other than to guide people towards that God Whom I myself have witnessed. I do not desire to show God by way of hearsay or tales of the past. In fact, I call upon people to accept God Almighty by presenting to the world my own being and my own person. This is a simple matter. God Almighty moves towards a person with greater speed and swiftness than they advance towards Him. When we observe even on earth that the beloved of an honourable man is afforded respect and honour, how could someone who enjoys the nearness of God Almighty possess no signs to exhibit the omnipotence of God Almighty and His boundless powers?
Remember that the jealousy of God Almighty never leaves such a person in a state where they are disgraced and ruined. On the contrary, as God Himself is One and without partner, He makes such a person one who is without partner among the people on earth. No one on the face of the earth can contest with such a person. Such a one is attacked on all fronts and every attacker – oblivious to the strength of such people – surmises that they will destroy them. Ultimately, such opponents realise that the manner in which the people who they oppose are saved is the work of a higher force that is above and beyond human power. In fact, if such people knew this from the very beginning, they would not have waged these attacks in the first place.
As such, those who bask in the nearness of God Almighty and who serve as a sign of His existence and Being, are apparently such that every opponent, in their own view, believes that they will not be able to escape them. This is because the schemes that they hatch and the sum total of their efforts lead them to this belief. However, when a holy person safely emerges from all this with honour and dignity, an opponent is taken aback for a moment and realises that if this were a human affair, this person could not have come out unscathed; so if this person has remained safe and sound, this is not the work of man, but the work of God.
Therefore, this sheds light on the underlying reason behind the attacks made against those who enjoy nearness in the royal court of God. Those who are ignorant in the field of divine knowledge and insight consider such opposition to be a means of disgrace. But what would make them know that this very “disgrace” is a means of honour and distinction for the people of God, which proves to be a sign in favour of the existence of Allah the Exalted and establishes His Being. This is why such people are referred to as the “Signs of God”.
In short, my desire in the countless announcements that I publish is to inform the people of the God Who I have found and seen and to show them the closest and quickest way by which they can become a godly person. Therefore, in my opinion, stories and tales cannot serve to advance one in divine knowledge and insight, until man practically sees for himself and this is not possible in any other way except by following the path that I have shown. Moreover, on this path, such difficulties and hardships are not required.
Here, it is the heart that does the work. God Almighty looks at the heart. When there is love and passion in the heart, what use is an idol? The worship of idols can never bring a person true and certain results.
The sight of God Almighty focuses on a point in the heart of a sincere person. God sees this and knows that the person in question will bear every difficulty and struggle happily for His sake. It is not necessary for a man to undertake strenuous exercises and always be present.
I observe that the sweeper who comes to my house undertakes immense toil and that even our very honourable and sincere friends could not do the work that he does. Now, would I view my sincere friends as unworthy on account of this and look at the sweeper as being worthy of more esteem and honour? We have certain friends who come to visit us after extended periods of time and it is not possible for them to sit in our company often, but I know full well that their hearts are moulded in such a way and their dispositions have been vested with such sincerity and love, that when the time comes, they will offer great services in our cause.
The same principle is to be found in the law of nature as well. The more something is raised in station, the lesser its toil and labour. Just take the example of process servers. They are handed a heap of documents and are ordered to comply and report back within one week. Come rain or shine, be it winter, or even if village roads are damaged and difficult to traverse, no excuse is accepted. And after all this, if you ask them their wage, they receive a meagre five rupees. However, the circumstances of high-ranking officials are at a stark variance.
This law of nature clearly demonstrates that the divine law deals with the beloved of God Almighty in the same manner. Engaging in dangerous meditations and rendering one’s limbs and faculties lifeless through various exercises, is absolutely absurd and futile. This is why our Perfect Guide, on whom be peace and blessings, has said:
لا رهبانية في الإسلام
“There is no asceticism in Islam.”
That is to say, the fundamental quality of Islam may be described as such:
گردن نهادن برحكم خداد مواقفت تامه بمقاد ير آلهيه
“To bow one’s head before the command of God and fully accept the decrees of the Divine.”
When a person develops this quality, there is no need for asceticism. In other words, such exercises and meditations are not required.
After this, the Hindu ascetic left and food was served. The Promised Messiahassaid, “This is why Islam has not prescribed asceticism. For asceticism does not lead to perfect knowledge of the Divine.” (Malfuzat [Urdu], Vol. 1, pp. 201-214) (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, pp. 35-41)
Al Hakam, 10 August 1899, records:
“The ascetic,whilst stating his intake during meditation, mentioned that throughout those days, water was his only intake.
“Upon this, Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra narrated an incident that an experienced person once told him that if a lot of water was boiled to an extent that it all evaporated, only leaving one cup, then it would be very nourishing because, in fact, it was not actually water, but it was the soup of bacteria that live in water.
“How ironic! On the one hand, the prohibition to eat meat and on the other, soup of the bacteria living in water! In our view, the taste of meat does not allow to even leave the bone. For this reason, the essence of the bacteria seems to be tasty and pleasing; and in monastic meditation, its intake has been justified.”