Ata-ul-Haye Nasir, Al Hakam
On 22 February 1920, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud, Mirza Bashir-ud-Deen Mahmood Ahmadra delivered a lecture at the Vande Mataram Hall in Amritsar, titled “Sadaqat-e-Islam aur Zara’i Taraqqi-e-Islam” – The truthfulness of Islam and the means for its progress.
In his lecture, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:
Objective of religion
“The subject of my lecture today is the truthfulness of Islam, as to what are the proofs of Islam’s truthfulness and the means for the progress of those who attribute themselves to it.
“Before assessing the truthfulness of any religion, it is essential for one to see what the objective of religion is. Until one is aware of this, it is possible for one to deviate from the true facts while arguing about the truthfulness of a certain religion, and the point that is considered proof of the truthfulness might not be related to it at all. For instance, when one intends to buy a house, the objective is not to search for beautiful flowers and plants or a special kind of pool there, but rather, the basic purpose is that the house should be able to protect them from the cold and warm weather, protect their wealth, and maintain the privacy of their household from other people. This is the purpose of a house, and it will be kept in mind while buying one. If it is fulfilled, then the house will be bought; otherwise, one would never buy it. Will anyone buy a house that has no roof but has beautiful calligraphy on its walls? Not at all, because it does not fulfil the basic objective of the house.
“In the same way, when we begin to ponder over the truthfulness of a certain religion, it is essential for us to consider what the objective of religion is, so that we may assess as to which religion fulfils it, and the religion that fulfils it will be true and acceptable. Hence, until the objective of religion is known, one cannot identify the true religion. For this reason, it is the duty of any lecturer – who wishes to speak on the truthfulness of a certain religion – to narrate the objective behind religion so that each of the listeners can know what the objective of religion is in the view of the lecturer and whether or not religion’s objective, which the lecturer has understood, is correct. […]
“Hence, before I proceed to narrate the arguments for the truthfulness of a religion, I will state the objective of religion. Thus, one ought to remember that due to the fact that Islam has been revealed in Arabic, it is very simple to know the purpose behind religion, and the reason is that God Almighty has granted such an attribute to the Arabic language that all of its words hold [vast] meanings. This feature has not been granted to any other language in the world. […] So, in this language, the word ‘مذھب’ [religion]itself implies the objective of the religion. The word ‘mazhab’ means pathway, manner, method, precepts, and sharia as well. Hence, with respect to the Arabic language, those principles that help mankind ascend from one stage to another, morally – not physically – are called ‘mazhab’. As far as the question of where these principles lead mankind is concerned, all religions agree that the purpose of religion is to bring them towards God Almighty. There is no other objective of religion. The purpose of religion is not to teach the rules of trade, nor is wealth and government its objectives, i.e., we cannot consider a religion to be true if its followers excel in trade, have an abundance of wealth or they rule over many countries. On the contrary, religion’s objective is to guide towards a pathway that can lead mankind to God Almighty. Thus, any religion that fulfils this purpose would be true, and the one that fails to do so would be false.
Does Islam fulfil the objective of religion?
“Now that we are aware of the religion’s objective, we need to see whether Islam’s truthfulness can be proved on this criterion and whether Islam presents a pathway that could lead one to Allah the Almighty, or whether its teaching is only superficially attractive and good but fails to lead one to God Almighty. If Islamic teachings do not lead one to God Almighty, then regardless of how great arguments are presented for its truthfulness, it has no benefit. However, if it is proven that Islam leads one to God Almighty, then every wise and reasonable person should accept that Islam is from God Almighty and true.
Every religion comprises certain positive aspects
“After this basic principle, I wish to state another point as a preamble that proving the truthfulness of a certain religion does not prove the other religions to be wrong or that all of their teachings are incorrect. In our country [British India], the major cause of unrest is that the followers of all religions consider only their respective religion to exclusively contain truth and that the rest are completely and absolutely false. However, those who have studied theology, know very well that we can find some good aspects in every religion of the world. If it is accepted that a certain religion’s teachings are incorrect and vile, and it has no feature that may attract one’s heart, then what is the reason behind educated and wise people being its followers? The basic principle is that every religion has certain positive aspects. Thus, the meaning of proving the truthfulness of a certain religion is not that there is no positive attribute in any other religion, but rather, it means to see which religion holds the most excellent features. Otherwise, there is no religion devoid of any good features at all. Regardless of how ancient a faith might be, it must hold certain attributes. The faiths of the people of Australia or of some areas of America are considered to be very indigenous, and we find certain attributes there as well. For instance, [they teach] one should not harm others, one should abstain from alcohol, treat people with love, show kindness to people, and give alms. Thus, if such teachings are found in those faiths as well, there can be no greater ignorance than to say about those religions that are followed by civilised people that they have no positive aspects.
“Thus, before pondering over any one religion’s truthfulness, one ought to remember that every religion holds certain features. Yes, one ought to see which religion comprises the most excellent attributes. The followers of some religions claim, ‘Our religion teaches us not to oppress people, hence, our religion is true.’ We ask them to present any religion that is taught to carry out oppression. The followers of some religions claim, ‘in our [religion], it has been taught to love others.’ We say, ‘It is surely a good feature; however, the question is, which religion has taught its followers to hate others? If there is no such religion, then how can we accept that only your religion is true.’ Then, if one says, ‘Our religion teaches to give alms, which proves that our religion is true.’ We will ask, ‘Which religion has taught us to never give alms? Since all of the religions teach similar teachings in this regard, how could we accept your religion to be truthful?’
How can the truthfulness of a religion be proven?
“[To prove] the truthfulness of a certain religion does not mean to show only a few moral values in it since all religions are equal in this criterion. So, the truthfulness of a religion can only be proven if it presents a teaching that could lead mankind to God Almighty and inculcate His love, and that teaching must be correct in its details as well. […]
Islam establishes one’s connection with God Almighty
“From this perspective, let’s see whether or not Islam fosters one’s connection with God Almighty. If it does so, there remains no doubt in accepting that Islam is the religion through which mankind can attain salvation. In this regard, the Holy Quran claims and categorically announces that if one acts upon its [teachings], one advances in their love for God Almighty to a stage that is impossible through any other means. Thus, it is stated:
اَللّٰہُ نَزَّلَ اَحۡسَنَ الۡحَدِیۡثِ کِتٰبًا مُّتَشَابِہًا مَّثَانِیَ ٭ۖ تَقۡشَعِرُّ مِنۡہُ جُلُوۡدُ الَّذِیۡنَ یَخۡشَوۡنَ رَبَّہُمۡ ۚ ثُمَّ تَلِیۡنُ جُلُوۡدُہُمۡ وَقُلُوۡبُہُمۡ اِلٰی ذِکۡرِ اللّٰہِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ ہُدَی اللّٰہِ یَہۡدِیۡ بِہٖ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَمَنۡ یُّضۡلِلِ اللّٰہُ فَمَا لَہٗ مِنۡ ہَادٍ
“[‘Allah has sent down the best Message [in the form of] a Book, [whose verses are] mutually supporting [and] repeated [in diverse forms] at which do creep the skins of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah. Such is the guidance of Allah; He guides therewith whom He pleases. And he whom Allah adjudges astray — he shall have no guide.’] (Surah az-Zumar, Ch. 39: V. 24)
“God Almighty states that He has sent down such a Book — the Quran — which comprises the most excellent teachings. […] Here, God Almighty has not stated that the Books of other religions do not comprise good teachings, but rather, He states that this teaching [of the Holy Quran] is the best among them. That is, none of its teachings contradicts the others, but rather, all of them testify to and authenticate each other. Moreover, there is no disagreement in its details either, in fact, they are based on such a principle that they do not deviate from it. Moreover, it is such a teaching that is repeated, meaning it has such great spiritual power and strength that it compels one to read it time and time again. Moreover, it has such an attraction that anyone who hears it is inclined toward it. For instance, when one listens to the voice of their beloved once, they desire to continue listening to it. In the same way, those who listen to the Holy Quran, listen to it again and again. Moreover, it also means that since the teachings of the Holy Quran are essential for every age and century, it is repeated [in diverse forms] in every era, revived, and never gets effaced. Then, another distinctive feature is:
تَقۡشَعِرُّ مِنۡہُ جُلُوۡدُ الَّذِیۡنَ یَخۡشَوۡنَ رَبَّہُمۡ
“Meaning ‘It is repeated [in diverse forms] at which do creep the skins of those who fear their Lord,’ because it narrates the Majesty, Power, Glory and Strength of Allah the Almighty so clearly that anyone who reads it – regardless of how far they are from the religion – it makes creep their skins. Then, [it is stated:]
تَلِیۡنُ جُلُوۡدُہُمۡ وَقُلُوۡبُہُمۡ اِلٰی ذِکۡرِ اللّٰہِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ ہُدَی اللّٰہِ
“Since fear could also be created through terrifying things, thus, [here it means that] it not only instils fear in their hearts, but inculcates love as well. Fear is instilled through two things, firstly, the things that are terrifying, and secondly, the things that hold majesty and power. However, terrifying things can only instil fear. Since [the Holy Quran] is majestic, its greatness and majesty instil fear, which creates love as well. Thus, it is stated that ‘their skins and their hearts soften’. So, the Holy Quran proclaims that it comprises the best teaching, and as I have said, only that religion could be true which claims to present the best teaching, not the one which says that ‘there is no other religion which is truthful.’ Further, only that religion can be truthful which presents a teaching that leads mankind to God Almighty. The Holy Quran claims to present such a pathway that leads mankind to God.
“Now, let us see whether or not this claim of the Holy Quran is correct that it fosters a connection between God Almighty and mankind. However, before pondering over this matter, it is essential to contemplate how mankind’s connection with God Almighty can be established. In a scientific way, the proof for a certain thing’s goodness can be found by assessing what method has been taught [to achieve it]. If that method is correct, then regardless of whatever condition [a religion’s] followers might be in, that cannot put any blame on the religion itself. But rather, it will be said that ‘they did not act upon this method.’ For instance, if one visits a jail and finds Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and Muslims, it will be completely wrong for one to say that ‘all of these religions [to whom these prisoners belong] are false, because if they had held the true religion, they would have never come to jail,’ since they were jailed because their actions were contradictory to [the teachings] of their respective religion. It would not have happened if they had acted upon the commandments of their respective religions. Hence, in order to find the truthfulness of a religion, one ought to see whether or not it has taught such principles that could lead mankind to God Almighty. If it has done so, but one finds that there are such followers [of that religion] who have no connection with God Almighty, in this case, it will be said that ‘it is their own mistake, the religion has no flaw in itself.’ For instance, quinacrine is beneficial in fever, however, if one holds it in their hands or keeps it in their pocket, and then says ‘It has not benefited me at all’, they will be told that ‘it will be beneficial once you take it, not by holding it in hand or keeping it in the pocket.’ In the same way, only that person can benefit from the religion, who acts upon it, instead of mere verbal claims to be its follower.
Means to establish a connection with God Almighty
“Now, let us see as to what are the means through which one can foster a connection with God Almighty. There are two ways to establish a relationship with someone in the world. A relationship can be established either through love or fear. Let us now ponder over the Islamic teachings as to whether or not Islam has given a teaching that can inculcate a high level of love and fear of God Almighty. If it has done so, it is proven that Islam is the religion that teaches the correct pathway to connect one with God Almighty, though, other religions also comprise certain attributes. If it has not done so, then one ought to believe that one should search for a religion other than Islam.
How does the Holy Quran present such means?
“Without going into the details mentioned in the Holy Quran, I will only speak about Surah al-Fatihah, which is the first Surah and has only seven verses. All philosophies of the world are in consensus that in order to establish a connection, the foremost thing is love, followed by fear. […] Now, let us see whether or not the Quran has used this natural method to foster [mankind’s] connection with God Almighty. One finds that this Surah begins with اَلْحَمْدُ, which mentions love, and one finds that the principle that has been proven after thorough research had been narrated by the Holy Quran a long time ago. Then, a connection is fostered through two means, either because one likes a certain thing or because it gives certain benefits. For instance, a proverb is famous among the English people, ‘Virtue is its own reward’. Let us now see what the Quran says about both of these principles.
An exquisite commentary of Surah al-Fatihah
“Both of these aspects have been dealt with in Surah al-Fatihah, and it has stated such principles that it is impossible for mankind to remain unsuccessful in fostering a connection with God Almighty despite acting upon them. Thus, it is stated, اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ i.e., ‘All praise belongs to Allah.’ (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch. 1: V. 2)
“Allah is the name of God, and it means the Being Who is free from all flaws and comprises all the most excellent attributes. In worldly affairs, people love certain things that neither comprise all kinds of good attributes nor are free from all kinds of flaws. […] However, God is such a Being Who comprises all sorts of attributes and is free from every flaw. For this reason, it has been stated that it is Allah who holds all the most excellent attributes. We feel happiness upon seeing the moon and beautiful mountains, but the reason is not that they give us something, but rather, due to the fact that we adore them. God Almighty states: اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ. [In other words], ‘O mankind, if you are among those who love a certain thing due to its attributes, then come, I will tell you that Islam presents such a God Who is free from all kinds of flaws and holds all the most excellent of attributes.’ However, since all natures are not such that they love something due to witnessing its good attributes, but rather they desire to benefit from it as well – though such people are of a fallen nature – and addressing them, it has been stated that اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیْنَ, [All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds], meaning, ‘If you wish from Him to shower upon you His benevolence in addition to His magnificence, then come, I tell you that God is the One Who creates you and then elevates you from a lower level to a higher level.’ […] These are all magnificence of the Rabubiyyat of God Almighty. Thus, it is stated that Allah is your rabb [Sustainer] and mohsin [Benevolent]. Moreover, He is not the Sustainer and Benevolent for one or two people, but rather, He is the Lord of all the world; whether someone belongs to Europe, Africa, or America, or belongs to any religion, He is the Lord of everyone. He is the Sustainer of even the animals and birds too. If one ponders over God Almighty’s Rabubiyyat in relation to the animals, one finds a wonderful spectacle. Look, human beings plough with the help of oxen and cultivate fields. Consequently, if humans would only get the grains, they would not give any food to the oxen, etc., for this reason, God Almighty produced the wheat straw along with the grains, which is the share of those [oxen] who worked along with the humans. In short, God Almighty has set a share for all of His creation, and provides for them. Even He provides where mankind cannot even imagine how those provisions could reach, meaning, for the creatures living under the soil or in the ocean, God Almighty has created provisions there as well. Thus, it has been stated that Allah is such a Being Who is Benevolent toward all living beings. Moreover, benevolence is of three kinds, firstly which has been carried out in the past; secondly, the one which is being done in the present; and thirdly, the one which would be carried out in the future. There are many in this world who pay great respect for certain benevolence of the past, some value the benevolence of the present, and there are some who give greater value to the benevolence that would be done in the future. Here, God Almighty has stated about all three kinds of people, that God is رَبُّ الۡعٰلَمِیْنَ, meaning that those natures who remember the benevolence of the past, should know that the same God is showering His benevolence upon them [in the present], and those who value the benevolence of the future, should also know that it is only God who will shower benevolence upon them [in the future]. For this reason, He is the only Being Who should be one’s beloved.
“When the creation of human beings is completed under the Rabubiyyat of God Almighty and they are able to perform actions, God Almighty provides them means for making efforts, just like the parents provide support to their young children to get a livelihood. Thus, it is stated that when one is able to make efforts, God Almighty – by His sheer grace – provides them the means to make efforts, without their own hard work or endeavour. This point establishes the great superiority of Islam over all other religions. […]
“Moreover, Islam presents that God Who comprises the attribute of Rahmaniyat [Graciousness], meaning He not only sustains them, but also provides them the means with His grace for which their actions have no role. In this way, Islam’s superiority is proven over other religions, since some of them say that God does not grant anything without action. Whereas, this idea is completely contradictory to experience, observation, and even nature, because the sun, earth, water, and air are such things without which mankind cannot live. Hence, if God was not supposed to grant anything to mankind without their actions, He would not have created these things either. However, He did create them, which tells us that He grants without action as well. It will be completely incorrect to believe these things to be a result of one’s actions, since mankind could be able to perform actions if they were alive, and one cannot live without air. Thus, it is proven that mankind was provided with air first, and after that, they were able to perform any action. The same is true with the food. If the food was not provided prior to mankind’s actions, they could have never lived, and once they were not alive, it was impossible for one to perform actions. Hence, according to the teachings of Islam, God Almighty is ar-Rahman [Gracious], meaning, He provides without one’s actions, and does so abundantly. […] So, this testifies to His Rahmaniyyat, and the Holy Quran states that He is ar-Rahman. Then, Islam states that God’s attributes do not end here, but rather, another attribute of God Almighty is that when one performs an action, God Almighty does not say, ‘since they have utilised the same means which I had provided, I will not reward them for their action’, but rather, He enhances those means to a greater level. Look, the one who utilises their hands provided by God Almighty, their hands are strengthened even more, and the one who utilises their intellect, their intellectual abilities are further enhanced. For this very reason, the progenies of those who attain knowledge of various disciplines, progress more swiftly in the academic fields, than the progenies of those who remain unacquainted of knowledge. […] Thus, Islam tells us that when mankind utilises God-gifted means – whether physical or spiritual – God Almighty strengthens them to an even greater level, and grants greater benefits.
“The God of Islam is He Who has many more attributes. There are many people who do not accept a certain thing merely due to its magnificence and benefits; rather, they do so out of fear. For this reason, Islam has also stated that ‘We do not only ask you to foster a connection with God Almighty for He is a loving Being, holder of all the attributes and showers upon you great benevolence, but rather, if you will not act upon His commandments despite His benevolence, He will punish you, since He is مٰلِکِ یَوۡمِ الدِّیْنِ, [‘Master of the Day of Judgment.’ (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch. 1: V. 4)]. Look, the ones who neither act upon the teachings of God Almighty nor utilise the worldly means [created for their benefit] are eventually ruined and humiliated since He is the Master of the Day of Judgement. Hence, those who tend to accept something through love, will follow the commandments of God Almighty in light of اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیْنَ and الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیْمِ, however, those who tend to accept a certain thing due to the fear of punishment, will act upon it in light of مٰلِکِ یَوۡمِ الدِّیْنِ, because they will consider that in case of disobedience to the commandments of God Almighty, they will be punished.
“These are the principle teachings of Islam in order for mankind to reach God Almighty. If one ponders over them in detail, one will find that Islam has great superiority over all other religions. However, the connection with God Almighty is not limited to one’s love for God; rather, its certain result is that mankind has a mutual love and affection as well. Look, what is the reason behind the love that is found between brothers? The reason is that they are related through the same parents. In the same way, why do the people of a certain country love each other? The reason is that they belong to the same country. Thus, when people have a mutual love due to being related to a common [worldly] thing, what is the reason for the believers in the One God to not inculcate mutual harmony? Does God Almighty hold an inferior status to one’s parents or country? When God Almighty holds superior status over all those things, what could halt the relation of mutual love among the people who love the One God and have a connection with Him, while the people of the same locality, city, country, or parents have a sentiment of love for each other? In reality, their [believers in the One God] love is superior and stronger than all other relations, and the people who carry out oppression on the people of this world are the ones who in fact do not have any connection with God Almighty. Those who have a relationship with God Almighty, treat His servants with love as well.
“Islam leads us in the same direction and states that upon witnessing these attributes of God Almighty that on the one hand, He is perfect in magnificence, holds all kinds of attributes, and showers benevolence upon His servants, on the other, He is perfect in power and strength; meaning, He punishes those who abandon their connection with Him, one’s situation is as if they have seen God in front of them, and the love for His servants billows within their hearts, and they do not differentiate themselves – from worldly aspects – from the followers of other religions. At such a stage, they do not say that ‘a certain person should be harmed since they are Hindu, Christian, Sikh or follower of any other religion’, but rather, they say that ‘everyone is the creation of God Almighty, hence, I should have love and affection for them.’ Thus, Islam says that when a person attains such a status, they proclaim:
اِیَّاکَ نَعۡبُدُ وَاِیَّاکَ نَسۡتَعِیۡنُ
“‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help.’ (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch. 1: V. 5)
“In this way, one does not say that ‘I do this’, but rather, they say it on behalf of all the people that ‘My supplications are on behalf of all other people, and I do not merely seek help for myself alone, but rather, I seek help for all other people.’ […] In fact, one says ‘O God, we all worship you alone, thus, we all seek help and reward from You.’ Hence, this is the Islamic teaching, which teaches one to foster brotherhood and to give benefit to everyone.
“This is the means to create one’s connection with God; however, this is only one aspect. The perfect and complete teaching can only be the one that also presents proof of the fact that God Almighty also loves His servants, because if one has the desire to seek God Almighty but He does not love them, what is the benefit then? Hence, that religion cannot be true which only establishes love for God Almighty in one’s heart; rather, the true religion can only be the one that also provides proof that God Almighty loves His servants as well. In this regard, when we look at what the Holy Quran states, we find that God Almighty also loves His servants. Thus, God Almighty states while addressing the Holy Prophetsa:
قُلۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تُحِبُّوۡنَ اللّٰہَ فَاتَّبِعُوۡنِیۡ یُحۡبِبۡکُمُ اللّٰہُ
“[‘Say, “If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you.”’] (Surah Aal-e-Imran, Ch. 3: V. 32) […]
“It is apparent from this [verse] that Islam does not suffice, like the other religions, by saying that God’s love will be inculcated in you, but rather, it also states that God Almighty will begin to love you. This is a huge difference between Islam and other religions. […]
God Almighty’s love for His servants
“Hence, all religions claim to foster a connection between God and mankind, however, Islam holds the superiority that it says that it not merely gives a teaching that inculcates the love for God in one’s heart, but rather, it presents a teaching as a result of which God loves them. In other words, Islam does not merely ask one to become righteous, but rather, it also teaches one that by way of acting upon its teachings, one can attain such a status that God would call them and say, ‘You are my beloved.’ […] The meaning of being the beloved of God Almighty is that whenever one faces any trouble or hardship, God helps them and communicates with them.
The door for Communion with God is open in Islam
“When we contemplate in light of this, we find that the Holy Quran teaches that the door for [mankind’s] communion with God is open. Thus, it is stated:
اِہۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمَ۔ صِرَاطَ الَّذِیۡنَ اَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ
“It means, ‘O ye believers, always occupy yourselves in this prayer, “O God, guide us in the right path.”’. That is, the pathway by which the previous people were able to seek God, and God Almighty continued to grant them certainty that ‘you have reached Me.’
Islam’s superiority over other religions
“This is a categorical distinction between Islam and other religions. In terms of moral teaching, there is no major difference between religions. Every religion teaches us to refrain from evil and to do good deeds. However, Islam says, ‘You will find in this very world that you have become the closed ones and beloved of God.’ Therefore, its proof is found in Islam, since in every era, such people have come who claimed to see God Almighty and to have communion with Him. Therefore, Hazrat Muinuddin Chishtirh, Hazrat Muhyiddin Ibn Arabirh, Hazrat Junaid Baghdadirh, and many other saints have passed in Islam who inculcated the love of God in their hearts and God Almighty also loved them in return and granted them the ‘rob’ of His love. He alleviated all of their worries and helped them in each time of trouble.” (Sadaqat-e-Islam Aur Zara’i Taraqqi-e-Islam, Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 5, pp. 53-66)