England and Wales now minority Christian countries, Census 2021: Is the kingdom of God not on Earth?

Jazib Mehmood, Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghana

Considering that it has been just over a month since Britain elected its first Hindu Prime Minister, it is not too surprising that a recently published census from 2021 has revealed that England and Wales are now minority Christian countries. (Religion, England and Wales: Census 2021, Office for National Statistics (ONS), 29 November 2022)

What’s interesting is the statement of the archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, in response to the news that only 46.2% of the English and Welsh population identifies as Christian. He said the census result challenged us  “to trust that God will build his kingdom on Earth…” (‘We are here for you’ – Archbishop responds to Census findings (2022, November 29). Retrieved from Archbishop of York: www.archbishopofyork.org/news/latest-news/we-are-here-you-archbishop-responds-census-findings)

This begs the question, “Has the kingdom of God not yet been established on earth?”

According to common Christian belief, as expressed by the Archbishop of York, the kingdom of God is yet to be established on earth. After all, the Lord’s prayer clearly states, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (The King James Bible, Matthew 6:10)

However, elsewhere in the Bible, we read:

“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15)

Therefore, although, broadly speaking, Christianity does not believe the kingdom of God has yet been established on earth – that much is clear from the statement of the archbishop – the teachings of Christianity also support the fact that the kingdom of God is established on earth in some way or another.

Islam also asserts that the kingdom of God is firmly established on earth. The Holy Quran states:

لَهٗ‭ ‬مُلۡكُ‭ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‭ ‬وَالۡاَرۡضِ

“His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth.” (Surah Al-Hadid, Ch.57:V.3)

In fact, Allah the Almighty goes further to state:

وَیَعۡلَمُ مَا فِی الۡبَرِّ وَالۡبَحۡرِ ؕ وَمَا تَسۡقُطُ مِنۡ وَّرَقَۃٍ اِلَّا یَعۡلَمُہَا وَلَا حَبَّۃٍ فِیۡ ظُلُمٰتِ الۡاَرۡضِ وَلَا رَطۡبٍ وَّلَا یَابِسٍ اِلَّا فِیۡ کِتٰبٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ

“And He knows whatsoever is in the land and [in] the sea. And there falls not a leaf but He knows it; nor is there a grain in the deep darkness of the earth, nor anything green or dry, but is [recorded] in a clear Book.” (Surah al-An`am, Ch.6: V.60)

The requisites of kingship

The Promised Messiahas, in his book Noah’s Ark, proves that the Holy Quran presents four requisites of a king, and shows how, in the first chapter of the Holy Quran, Allah fulfils all four requisites. The Holy Quran, introducing God to man, states:

اَلۡحَمۡدُ‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬رَبِّ‭ ‬الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ‭ ‬الرَّحۡمٰنِ‭ ‬الرَّحِيۡمِ‭ ‬مٰلِكِ‭ ‬يَوۡمِ‭ ‬الدِّيۡنِ

“All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds, the Gracious, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgment.” (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch.1: V.2-4)

In these verses, Allah puts forth His four principal attributes to show that His kingdom is firmly established on earth.

Firstly, a king must be powerful enough to look after his people. This quality is alluded to with the words Rabb-ul-Alamin [Lord of all the Worlds].

Secondly, a king must arrange for all the necessities that are required for the sustenance of his subjects, out of his kingly mercy and not in return for any service. This quality is affirmed in God by referring to Him as ar-Rahman [the Gracious].

The third quality, that a king should possess, is that he should appropriately help his subjects towards the achievement of that which they cannot attain through their own efforts. Surah al-Fatihah affirms this quality through the use of the word ar-Rahim [the Merciful].

The fourth quality that a king should possess is that he should have the power to dispense reward and punishment so that social order is not disturbed. This quality is affirmed in God by describing Him as Maliki Yaum-id-Deen [Master of the Day of Judgement]. (Noah’s Ark, p. 64)

The two systems of law

The Promised Messiahas has explained that two systems of law govern our world. He states:

“One law of divine decree governs the angels in heaven, and this makes it impossible for them to commit sin, while another law of divine decree governs the people of the temporal world and gives them the choice of good and evil from on high.” (Noah’s Ark, p. 56)

Under the former law, the law of nature works in the world continually under God’s command to the angels. As the Promised Messiahas states:

“We observe with our own eyes that God’s Kingdom is in operation on earth. According to His law, our lives come to an end and our conditions change continuously. We experience hundreds of types of comfort and pain. Thousands of people die by God’s command and thousands are born, prayers are accepted, signs are manifested and the earth produces thousands of varieties of vegetables, fruits and flowers by His command.

“Then does all this occur without the Kingdom of God? Rather, heavenly bodies seem to follow a chartered course at all times and no apparent change or alteration is perceived in respect of them, which should indicate the existence of a being who brings about change in them.

“The earth, however, is continuously undergoing thousands of changes, alterations and transformations. Every day, tens of millions of people depart this world and tens of millions are born. In every way and respect, the control of a Powerful Creator is felt. Is there still no Kingdom of God on earth?” (Noah’s Ark, pp. 60–61)

A kingdom of God for man

However, under the latter system of law with respect to man, the kingdom of God is established not continually, but with the coming of a prophet. The Promised Messiahas states that man has been given a choice in life. This choice extends to whether a person would accept the message of a prophet or choose to reject it.

Whenever a prophet comes to this world, he seeks to create a spiritual revolution within his people. This is also termed as establishing a kingdom of God on earth. It is through this kingdom that the prophet and his followers manifest great miracles and seemingly “bend” the laws of nature that God Himself has initiated.

However, this does not mean that God breaks His law for the prophet or his followers. Rather, Allah the Almighty states that He is Malik [Master or King]. (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch.1: V.5) And one meaning of Maliki Yaum-id-Deen as explained by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra is:

“The second meaning of this verse [Maliki Yaum-id-Deen] is that Allah the Almighty is the Master of the period of sharia and religion. Here, a subtle subject of the law of nature is discussed. God usually deals with the world according to His common law of nature. However, when a religion or sharia is established, God manifests His attribute of Malikiyyat [Kingship] at that time.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 25)

Huzoorra explains that it is under this attribute of Allah that the world witnesses a revolution whereby a seemingly helpless man manages to overcome not just powerful people, but powerful nations, thus establishing a kingdom of God on earth that was previously unknown and unheard of in the world.

It is at that instance that the world sees miracles and prophecies, that seem to break the laws of nature. The followers of that one apparently helpless man continue to increase, and the prophet and his followers become the embodiment of the kingdom of God on earth.

This is exactly what mankind saw when the Holy Prophetsa appeared in the world. A man, who was forced to flee his homeland, returned in a short span of eight years with ten thousand followers as a great conqueror. Such miraculous occurrences are replete in the lives of the Holy Prophetsa and other prophets, as mentioned in the Holy Quran as instances of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.

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