Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s cure for atheism: The Quran – A matchless book

Ataul Fatir Tahir, Al Hakam
Quran 2

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, wrote the following in his Magnum OpusBarahin-e-Ahmadiyya:

“[…] to convince an atheist of the existence of God, the best remedy is provided by a matchless book and not the observation of the earth and the heavens.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya) [English], Part III, p. 45)

The observation of the earth and heavens – nature – was the high tide in Europe during the Enlightenment; it was the “Word of God” as Thomas Paine had put it. European philosophers and freethinkers who had escaped the jaws of Christianity saw studying nature as more beneficial than studying the flawed “word of God” – the Bible – presented by Christian missionaries.

The solution to this was given by the Promised Messiahas in the above quote – a matchless book was needed which would act as the best remedy for atheism. The Gospels were in no way a matchless book, the Promised Messiahas presented the Holy Quran as a living sign of God. Through the Holy Quran, one could reach perfect certainty about the existence of God. Hazrat Ahmadas presented the Holy Quran as the true revelation the world needed to follow – none would be misled through it. The Holy Quran was nothing like the Gospels, as it was neither written by a man nor fabricated through the course of history in any way whatsoever. Challenging the Christian clergy who were announcing the Bible to be superior to the Holy Quran and the true Word of God, Hazrat Ahmadas demanded they present their arguments, and if they proved true, he was ready to offer them monetary rewards:

“Since I have issued a challenge with a reward of ten thousand rupees, so as to arrive at a clear distinction between the Gospels and the Holy Quran, if you fail to demonstrate, like a truthful person, the excellences of your scriptures as against our Book, no sensible Christian will believe you in his heart even though he may apparently nod with approval. But rest assured, gentlemen!! That neither the Gospels nor the Torah can compete with the excellences of the Holy Quran.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Part III, p. 242)

The Promised Messiahas recognised the doubts the Gospels had created in Europe, which led Europeans into the pits of atheism. The antidote, he argued profusely in his works, was the spiritual effects of the Holy Quran. This was the true Word of God, and through it, the lost communion with God could be re-established. Hazrat Ahmadas said religions had lost their spiritual light and for this reason, scores of people were becoming atheists at heart, even if they outwardly expressed themselves to adhere to a religion. He explained how people were leaving the concept of revelation and turning towards nature and logic as a means of proving God but, in essence, were already atheists. It was only through the Holy Quran that one could attain certainty, as this book would ultimately lead to Divine communion: the source of certainty. Discussing the spiritual effects of the Holy Quran, Hazrat Ahmadas writes:

“[…] the Holy Quran helps a true seeker to establish a living spiritual relationship with the Eternally Besought One, which results in him being blessed with divine revelation. The revelations draw divine bounties upon him and make him one of the elect of God and the truth of these revelations is established with the fulfilment of the prophecies they contain. This relationship, as I have written above, is the essence of eternal life, as the [eternal] life depends on attaching oneself with the Living [God]. The truth of any book whose adherence enables one to witness the signs of such a relationship becomes clear—indeed, clearer than the sun—because it does not make mere empty claims, but actually leads to the desired objective. So I will now ask Christian gentlemen that if their Gospels are indeed true and perfect and divinely revealed, then they should demonstrate their spiritual effects, as against those of the Holy Quran, of which I have given adequate proof. They should also produce from among their own people such instances of heavenly blessings and of disclosure of the unseen as have been—and continue to be—experienced by Muslims by virtue of their adherence to the Holy Quran and following in the footsteps of Hadrat Muhammad Mustafa [the Chosen One], Afdalur Rusul [the Most Exalted of the Messengers] and Khatamur-Rusul [the Seal of the Messengers], peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Part III, pp. 242-243)

The “spiritual relationship” was the missing link in Europe. If God could not be spoken to, how could one possibly believe in Him? This void was causing the masses of Europe (and India during Hazrat Ahmad’sas time) to turn away from the concept of God and religion as a whole. In the above extract, the Promised Messiahas yet again attacks one of the root causes of atheism in Europe; Pauline Christianity – challenging them to provide a book that would lead to the experience of God.

It was not only the Holy Quran but rather, the Prophetsa of Islam (who practised nothing but the Quran) through whom one could establish a relationship with God. The Holy Quran would now be the guide of mankind to a living God and remove all the misconceptions, doubts and ambiguities other revealed books had caused. The Holy Quran would enable man to converse with God – if followed in letter and spirit. Discussing the powerful effects of just the opening chapter of the Holy Quran the Promised Messiahas writes:

“[…] one of these lofty spiritual characteristics of Surah al-Fatihah is that reciting it in one’s prayers with full attention and establishing its teaching in one’s heart, believing it to be really true, plays a major role in the illumination of one’s soul. That is to say, that by it one’s bosom is opened, the darkness of human nature is dispelled, the grace of the Holy Source of grace starts descending upon man, and he is encircled by the light of the acceptance of God until, by making continuous progress, he is honoured by the converse of God and derives immense benefits from true visions and clear revelations.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Part IV, p. 260)

Barahin e Ahmadiyya 1

Hazrat Ahmadas stressed that it was important to pray with deep understanding and attention and also to establish “its teaching in one’s heart” – as a result, through just Surah al-Fatihah one would be “honoured by the converse of God” and would be able to derive “immense benefits from true vision and clear revelation”. It was this attribute of the Holy Quran and the religion of Islam that was the revolutionary trait and the answer to the rise of atheism and disbelief.

Though, the Promised Messiahas presented countless arguments and rational points, which the Holy Quran professed, the strongest and most robust argument disproving the atheists was that this holy book would enable one to have communion with God. In a poem describing the effect of the Holy Quran, Hazrat Ahmadas expressed:

ہست فرقانِ مبارک از خدا طیب شجر

نونہال و نیک بود سایہ دار و پُرزبر

میوه گر خواہی بیا زیر درخت میوه دار

گر خردمندی مجنباں بید را بہر ثمر

ور نیاید باورت در وصف فرقان مجید

حسن آں شاہد بپرس از شاہدان یا خود نگر

وانکہ اونا مد پئے تحقیق و در کین مبتلاست

آدمی ہرگز نباشد ہست او بدتر زِ خر

The blessed Furqan [The Holy Quran] is a holy tree from God

“That is young, fragrant, [full of shade], and laden with fruits.

If you desire fruit, come under the fruit-laden tree,

“If you have any sense, do not shake the willow tree to procure fruit.

If you do not believe in the excellences of the Glorious Furqan,

“Ask someone who has witnessed the beauty of this Beloved or look into it yourself.

He who does not come forward for the research, and is bent upon enmity,

“Is by no means human, but is worse than a donkey.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part IV, p. 392)

The fruit of the Quran was not bitter and foul like all other revealed books that had been corrupted, rather it was “sweet” and “fragrant” and those who wanted spiritual fruit were told to come to the Holy Quran and experience its sweetness themselves. However, at the same time, those who had doubts have been told to ask someone who has “witnessed the beauty of this Beloved”. The Promised Messiahas constantly invited people to see the wonders of the Holy Quran and Islam, especially the class of free thinkers and philosophers. Expressing this, he writes in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya:

“Why do they not search, like true seekers, for that God who is Omnipotent, Powerful, and Ever-Living, who has the power to affirm His own existence, and who can revive the dead in an instant by the call ‘Verily, I am Allah’? When they themselves know that the light of reason is smoky, then why do they not aspire for the perfect light? How foolish they are that while acknowledging their illness, they care not for its remedy!” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part IV, p. 73)

It was foolish for those who followed mere reason not to acknowledge that they were “ill” and not search for the truth. The European population had been misled by the teachings of the Christian clergy, but now the Promised Messiahas had presented a living book from which one could establish the existence of God and even talk to Him. Further discussing the power of the Holy Quran to show God in a light of certainty, Hazrat Ahmadas wrote in his book Chashma-e-Masihi (Fountain of Christianity):

“Search for God is a difficult matter. It is not an affair of worldly philosophers and wise men. Observation of the heavens and earth only leads to the conclusion that although orderliness indicates that the universe should have a Creator yet it is not proof that such a Creator in fact exists. There is a great deal of difference between ‘ought to be’ and ‘is’. The Holy Quran is the only book that sets forth His existence as a face and not only urges the seeking of God but makes him manifest. There is no other book which makes manifest the Hidden Being.” (Essence of Islam, p. 43, Vol. 1, Chashma-e-Masihi, Ruhani Khazain Vol. 20, pp. 351-352)

However, as in Europe, many had become completely disaffected with religion and would not even want to follow the Holy Quran to see its wonder. However, the Promised Messiahas would continue writing about the greatness of divine revelation, which was in its perfect form in the Holy Quran:

“In conclusion, although someone may not be grateful for divine revelation out of the depravity of their nature, the reality is that its powerful hand and mighty arm enable the vessel of certainty and truthfulness to sail; indeed, it is the very captain in the ocean of divine cognition. If the atheists have remained deprived of the effects of its blessing, it is not its fault. Rather, the atheists are themselves like a person who is inherently blind or deaf, or are like a limb that has become putrefied and leprous.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Part IV, p. 91)

By accepting this true revelation, people would be saved from atheism, Hazrat Ahmadas asserted:

“In short, as long as conjectural speculations are not supported by the facts of the matter, the entire display put on by reason is a mirage and nothing more, the ultimate outcome of which is atheism. So if you desire to be an atheist, do as you please; otherwise, the only way you can be delivered from the fierce flood of doubts—which has swept thousands of intellectuals far superior than you into the depth of degradation with a single surge—is to take a firm hold of the strong handle of true revelation.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Part IV, p. 88)

Back in Europe, the atheists had never witnessed true revelation and its wonderful power of leading to conviction, so while the Promised Messiahas intellectually grounded the idea of revelation as a mode of certainty and presented the Holy Quran as its epitome, he also proved its spiritual effect throughout his life. It was not mere theory. He showed through prophecy, acceptance of prayers, and Divine signs that God exists and through his communion with Allah, he showed the world that one can establish communion with Allah if one pays attention to and upholds the teachings of the Holy Quran.

To find God through the Quran was the responsibility, he said, of the doubting atheist, who should study it and seek its spiritual power. Hazrat Ahmadas claimed to show the way, and this he did.

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