Professor Clement Lindley Wragge (1852-1922), a renowned English meteorologist, academic and traveller visited the Promised Messiahas twice in 1908.
Prof Wragge, as an academic and scientist, had a lot under his belt: he was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society in London; the Government Meteorologist for Queensland, Australia; he set up the Wragge Institute and Museum; widely spoke on meteorology throughout the world and travelled extensively.
He was incredibly fortunate to have had a chance to meet the Promised Messiahas. His meetings, which took place in May 1908, were extremely close to Huzoor’s demise – Prof Wragge last met with the Promised Messiahas on 18 May 1908, just eight days prior to Huzoor’s demise.
Prof Wragge’s introduction to the Promised Messiahas was through Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra, who had heard about the professor’s famous lectures on meteorology, his love for science and Christianity. Mufti Sahibra once went to listen to a speech of Prof Wragge in Lahore. Hearing what he had to say, Mufti Sahibra said he realised the professor did not blindly follow Christianity and was a rational and fair-minded person.
Due to this, Mufti Sahibra approached him after the speech and informed him of the Promised Messiahas, his teachings and his arguments. Mufti Sahibra asked the professor, “You are a traveller, but have you ever seen a prophet of God?” In response, Prof Wragge said he had most definitely travelled the world but had never seen a prophet of God. (Zikr-e-Habib, p. 329)
Hearing Mufti Sahib’sra introduction of the Promised Messiahas and Huzoor’s claims and arguments to be the Messiah and Mahdi, Prof Wragge strongly desired to meet the Promised Messiahas. Mufti Sahibra said he would first seek permission from Huzooras and then set a date.
When Mufti Sahibra told the Promised Messiahas about the gentleman and his interest to meet him, Huzooras “smiled and said, ‘Mufti Sahib always hunts Englishmen’” (Ibid, pp. 329-330), and approved the meeting.
The first meeting took place on 12 May 1908 in Lahore. Prof Wragge came with his wife and was so impressed by Huzoor’s responses to his questions that he sought permission to see Huzooras again and returned on 18 May for a second meeting and a series of questions.
During his first meeting, on 12 May 1908, after asking some questions relating to science and the common understanding of the world and hearing the Promised Messiah’sas replies, Clement Wragge remarked:
“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.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 10, p. 435)
Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra tells us in his book, Zikr-e-Habib that Prof Clement Wragge converted to Islam and his views had completely changed after conversing with the Promised Messiahas – he was a new man. (Ibid, p. 328)
Prof Wragge later resided and passed away in New Zealand and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, during a visit to New Zealand, prayed at his grave.
The transcripts of the intellectual conversation between the Promised Messiahas and Prof Wragge are worth reading, especially for those interested in science and contemporary issues. The original Urdu can be found in the last volume of Malfuzat or in Zikr-e-Habib by Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra.
The questions and answers that took place on 12 May 1908 are given below and will be continued in the following issues of Al Hakam:
Professor Clement Wragge: I am a man of intellectual disposition and I observe that the earth on which we live is very small. In comparison to thousands and millions of other kinds of God’s creation that are in existence, the earth holds no significance. Why then has God’s grace been limited to this earth or to any one religion or nation?
The Promised Messiahas: Actually, this is not correct, and neither is it our belief that God reveals His existence through a particular sect or nation. God Almighty does not have a special relationship or love for a particular nation. In fact, it is correct that God is for the whole world, and He has created the means of physical nourishment and development for all creation without any distinction, and according to our principle, he is Rab-ul-Aalamin [the Lord of all the worlds] – He has created grains, air, water, light etc. for all creation.
Similarly, in every age and for every nation, He has, from time to time, sent reformers for the nation’s rectification. As the Holy Quran states:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّةٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِيۡهَا نَذِيۡرٌ
[“And there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent.”] (Surah Fatir, Ch.35: V.25)
God Almighty is the God for all the world. He has no relationship with any particular nation, and in fact the different heavenly books which have been revealed from time to time do not contradict each other. This is because those aspects that need reformation when the deeds of humanity are corrupted – and vice, corruption, theft and mischief etc. are born, and people become distanced from purity and are overcome by indecency and also abandon belief in God and bow towards idol worship – then does God’s honour – Who is the Nourisher of man’s physical and spiritual wellbeing – demand the birth of a reformer for the reformation of this corruption, but such a reformer remains within the laws of nature.
Just as the wheat that grew in the time of Hazrat Adamas and other prophets cannot be a source of nourishment for us, and as the water which existed in previous times cannot quench our thirst, in the same way, spiritually, we require fresh spiritual sustenance and water.
This is the way of God, that just as He nourishes and provides for the system of physical development, and previous nourishments do not suffice, so is the case with the system of spiritual development and both physical and spiritual systems run parallel. If someone rejects the existence of God, then this debate would take a different approach; however, a person who believes in the existence of God, while keeping these two systems as parallels, should benefit from them.
The One Who has created the physical system has also created the spiritual system. Just as He nourishes the physical system with fresh sustenance, He also nourishes the spiritual system. Just as the physical state is dependent on fresh water, so is the spiritual state dependent on fresh heavenly revelation. Just as the physical body dies if it is not given sustenance, so does the soul die without spiritual sustenance. If, in spiritual matters, only past and ancient examples are given, then what would be the conclusion other than that the spiritual system is dead. What else could it be?
God Almighty naturally wishes to be recognised. For proof of His identification and existence, He always provides truths, insights and fresh signs and these are not difficult to understand. It is this system which has always been in existence and which continues. Hundreds of thousands of prophets came and practically presented proofs [for the existence of God] – fully conveying His existence to the world. Now, how can a person, who merely says they are a scientist or a philosopher, break this continuous and proven evidence and testimony?
Just as these holy people gave proof of their claim through the practical examples in their life, so should they be negated in the same manner. Yes, such people [who deny God] would be justified in asking why they are given old stories and fables and demand for living proofs or a living example. To present this proof, I am ready.
An astronomer cannot provide a definite proof for the existence of God merely by observing the solar system which may, at the very most, lead to a belief that there should be a God. That God exists and that He most certainly exists has always been proven with the principles put forward by prophets.
If people like myself did not appear in the world, there could never have been any true and complete proof of God. At the very most, a fair person who is also virtuous, could, from the great and well-ordered organisation of the solar system etc., conclude there ought to be a God.
Other than this, the fact that God exists and is the Master, the Warden and the Ruler of the world, cannot be established without the guidance of those who come from God and show God. Such people witness God [themselves] and by presenting fresh evidence and signs, as it were, show God.”
Professor Clement Wragge: It is written there existed Adam and Eve – Eve was a weak woman and so, she ate an apple. As a result, the punishment of her having eaten an apple will continue forever. This, I cannot understand. Also, this earth, with which we have a connection, is but one among many thousands and millions of other systems which God has created. Then why would God’s sovereignty and blessings be limited to this earth?
The Promised Messiahas: This is not our belief. We do not say there is no system other than our earth and sky; rather, our God says He is Rab-ul-Aalamin, meaning, He is the Lord of all the worlds and wherever there has been a population, He has sent His messengers there. Lack of knowledge does not disprove the existence of something. Why would God – Who created such a vast system for this small earth – not have created provision for all other habitations? He is the Lord for everybody equally and is aware of everyone’s needs.
As for saying all human sorrows and hardships were caused by Eve having eaten an apple, this is not a belief of Islam. We are given the teaching:
لَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِّزۡرَ اُخۡرٰي
[“… nor does any bearer of burden bear the burden of another.”] (Surah al-An‘am, Ch.6: V.165)
Zaid’s punishment cannot be given to Bakr instead and neither can there be any benefit imagined [in doing so]. Eve’s eating an apple is not the cause of any sorrow, difficulty or punishment; the reasons for these things [sorrow etc.] are given in the Quran but are totally different.
Professor Clement Wragge: There are two things I desire to know: First, what is sin? A person in one country may consider an act to be a sin while the same act may not be considered sinful by someone else in another country. Man developed from a small insect to a human being and then learnt to distinguish between truth and falsehood. He separated truth from lies, understood good and bad, gained knowledge of sin and good deeds and after all this there is the difference – what is sin for one person is not sin for another who carries out that act?
The Promised Messiahas: I usually speak keeping those in mind who believe in the existence of God. God Almighty’s being is a source of eternal comfort and happiness for a person’s life. Whoever separates from Him or leaves Him in one way or another, it is said that such a person has sinned.
God Almighty, keeping in view the nature of humans, has further defined sin as those acts which, through their finer implications, prove to be harmful for mankind, even though a person may not sometimes be able to appreciate their harms. For example, stealing and harming others by infringing their rights, harms the purity of one’s own life. A fornicator’s act of fornication and their infringing on what may belong to someone else, destroys their own purity and piety and engulfs them in various physical and spiritual difficulties. Similarly, those acts which are against the nature of man’s purity and piety are also referred to as sin, as are all related acts, whether linked closely or distantly, are considered types of sin.
God Almighty, Who is the Greatest and the All-Knowing, is the true Creator of mankind and every particle which exists; He is the Creator and Knower of their attributes. With His perfect wisdom and perfect knowledge, He recommends something and says this is harmful for you and that committing [such a thing] is most definitely not beneficial for you; rather, it is completely detrimental. And so, it is not the job of a person, a pure-natured person, to begin going against this [instruction of God]. We observe that when a doctor recommends a patient to avoid something, then [observe how] the patient acts on this advice without complaint or argument – why does he do this? It is because he considers the doctor to know more than he does.
So, some things are such that they are detrimental to a person’s body or soul, whether the person understands it or not. Some things are such that even if God Almighty did not give a commandment about them, they still would be harmful. In medicine too, there are certain things which are considered sins and not having knowledge of medicine is no excuse for someone who goes against the laws of medicine. If someone does not believe this, they should ask doctors.
The point to remember is that the root of sin are those actions which lead a person far away from true purity, taqwa and piety. [Attaining] God Almighty’s true love and His union is true happiness and real comfort. Therefore, being distanced from God is also a sin and a means of pain, sorrow and trouble.
[Committing] the actions God dislikes, due to His sanctity, are sins. People may disagree on some matters; however, on the other hand, most sins are unanimously recognised by the world. Lying, stealing, adultery and cruelty etc. are accepted by all religions and nations as sins. But remember, the root of sin is those things that distance one from God – they oppose the sanctity of God Almighty, are against His wishes and are detrimental to the nature of mankind; such things constitute as sin.
Every person recognises sin – if someone slaps an innocent person and knows he had no right to [slap him], then later, when he cools down, he will inevitably be sorry and ashamed and will realise his mistake.
“A person who provides food to a hungry person, gives water to someone who is thirsty and clothes a person who doesn’t have clothes will develop an inner sense that he has done a good deed. A person’s heart, conscience and the light of his faith tells him if he committed a good act or a sin.”
Professor Clement Wragge: […] The other thing I want to find about is Satan. What is Satan? How is it that God being the Master and All-Powerful, Satan was still able to have so much control to the extent that, for his reform, God had to come to this world. What is meant by this?
The Promised Messiahas: […] Regarding Satan, it should be remembered that two forces have been imbedded in human nature and creation, and both [forces] oppose each other. This is so that a person is tried and tested, and, having succeeded [in the tests], becomes deserving of divine nearness.
Of the two forces, one pulls towards goodness and the other to evil. The force that pulls towards goodness is called “malak” or “angel” and the force which invites to evil is called “Satan”.
In other words, you can understand it like this: there are two forces which affect a person, one calls towards good and the other towards evil. In this manner, if someone does not like the words “Satan” and “angel”, they can still understand [the concept] – no one can deny two forces are at work within humans. God Almighty never intended any evil – God only does what is good.
You see, if sin did not exist in the world then good [deeds] would not have existed either. Good deeds are born from sin [and] the very existence of sin gives birth to good. If someone could commit fornication and they possessed the ability to do so too, but then abstained from it, then this action is called a good deed. If someone has the opportunities to steal or be cruel etc. and can carry these acts out, but does not do so and abstains, then they are doing a good act.
To have the opportunity and capability of sinning and then not indulging in sin, is the very name of reward and good deeds.
Prof Clement Wragge: There are two forces at work in the world – positive and negative. Now, if we always use the positive force and neglect the negative, then one day the negative will slowly gather force and erupt at any time: destroying the world. The same is true of good and evil. If the whole world only does good and never commits any bad deeds, then, in the same way, evil will gather force and destroy the world.
The Promised Messiahas: You see, if a person is not even able to shout, then their speaking softly will not be considered as high morals. If people remained in one condition and were not capable of any change, then good would no longer be called good. The presence of two opposites manifest goodness.
If one’s state was unchangeable and humans were not given any other abilities and were always compelled to do good and could not commit evil, then how would obedience and good even exist?
Allah the Almighty has, to an extent, given human beings control – they can change their state. They have the power to do good and the choice to commit evil. And so, a person will find their reward according to how they act.
You see, if bad morals did not exist then how could good morals have existed? Moral depravity came into existence as soon as good morals came into existence.
A person understands bad morals and condemns them because bad morals exist. Good morals have specific definitions [too] and they are praised. If there was no picture in one’s mind of what is bad, then there would be no such thing as good morals. It is always through evil that good is distinguished. If only one way had been created, then there certainly would not have been any reward nor [God’s] pleasure.
Pain and comfort, sorrow and happiness, darkness and light, bitter and sweet, poison and antidote, bad and good and sin and goodness, all come into being by the existence of its opposite. If these opposites were not created, life itself would have been very dull. If there was only one way and condition, it would have been engrained in [human] nature, and so what reason would there be for any reward and recompense? How could such a condition be a means of gaining [God’s] pleasure when all deeds committed in such a condition – that was innate in humans – would be out of compulsion, a person having no power otherwise.
Remember, humans have been given free will. A person has the option to do good or bad, to do good or cruelty and to be benevolent or miserly. It is always by keeping in mind the two aspects of possible behaviours that we can form an opinion about a particular person being good or bad.
The whole meaning of [human] actions is that a person is able to act otherwise. Despite having the ability to take revenge, [a person] does not and in the contrary acts kindly. But, how can a person who has not even been given a hand to punch with so that they can take revenge, say they are doing good or acting kindly by not punching [someone] back [in retaliation]?
قَدۡ اَفۡلَحَ مَنۡ زَكّٰهَا
وَ قَدۡ خَابَ مَنۡ دَسّٰهَا
[He indeed [truly] prospers who purifies it, and he who corrupts it is ruined.] (Surah al-Shams, Ch.91: V.10-11)
From these holy verses, it is clear that goodness and good qualities pivot on both aspects [of being able to do good or bad]. The person who is only given one capability and not the other, possesses a mere engraving that cannot be erased.
He who denies the existence of angels and Satan is effectively denying self-evident truths and going against that which can easily be sensed or witnessed. Every day, we witness that people do good while on the other hand crimes also take place in the world, and both these forces are equally at work – not a single person can deny this. Who doesn’t feel and experience these two forces within themselves? Here, no philosophy or logic can rule otherwise since the two forces are present and each is working in its place.
With regard [to your question] that if only good exists then evil will gather force and destroy the world. Regarding this, all I can say is that I have no concern with [conjectures] saying, “If this happens then that will happen, and if that happens then this will happen”. All I see is that human nature has been prepared for good actions as well as for bad actions. I do not go beyond this.
Prof Clemet Wragge: In Christianity, it is famous that the world went astray but God then purchased it back from Satan. Is this correct?
The Promised Messiahas: We do not believe in such nonsense. This is nonsense. The question should be posed to Christians.
Prof Clement Wragge: Christian beliefs say Adam went from a higher state to a lower state, whereas [in reality] humans develop from lower states to higher states.
The Promised Messiahas: This is not our belief, nor do we accept it [i.e. the Christian belief].
Prof Clement Wragge: I believe the next life to be like a cloak – through it, a person transforms from one condition into another. I have a special interest in spiritualism. I want to know how the next life will be and what will happen there?
The Promised Messiahas: No doubt, after this life, a new life will start. However, right now, I do not have the time to explain this matter in detail. In this life, whoever plants their seeds well, they will get a pure [afterlife]. And those who did not plant their seeds well will face difficulties and punishments. In a way, that new life remains connected to this [current] life and does not completely cut off. The world of dreams serves as an example of this. While awake, life exists, however when one falls asleep a great change occurs.
I am aware of some details [regarding this topic]; however, it cannot be explained right now because this topic requires a lot of time. It cannot be explained in a few minutes.
Mrs Wragge: Is it possible to talk or connect in any way with those who have passed away from this world and find out their true condition?
The Promised Messiahas: This is possible – through visions a person can meet souls. However, to achieve this, taxing and immensely difficult spiritual exercises are greatly required. I have tested and experienced this myself and, at times, have met souls and conversed with them. A person can ask them about things that are beneficial and about prayers etc.
I have met with the soul of Hazrat Isaas [Jesus] and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and have met some Companionsra too. I am experienced in this regard.
However, the difficulty for a person [regarding meeting souls] is that until they do not carry out spiritual exercises with strict adherence to practice and the [set] rules, they cannot attain this experience. And as this [experience] cannot be achieved by everyone, for this reason, in such a person’s opinion, these matters are just stories and fantasy and possess no reality.
The human heart is the centre of extraordinary and great wonders. However, as clean and quality water is acquired through strenuous effort – the ground is dug up, the mud taken out and the area cleaned – in the same way, to access the wonders of the heart that God has instilled, great effort and struggles are needed.
The point to remember is that the reality of this matter [of conversing and meeting with souls] is accepted and I have witnessed and experienced this myself.
After this, Prof Clement Wragge asked the Promised Messiahas for another audience on another day because he had many more questions to ask Huzooras. In response, the Promised Messiahas, who was in his final illness, said:
“These days, I am ill. I cannot endure too much effort. However, if I am well, then it is possible [to meet again].”
Six days later, Prof Wragge got the blessed opportunity to meet the Promised Messiahas once more. During the meeting he continued to ask Huzooras questions, especially those relating to science and the natural world.
In the coming issues of Al Hakam, we will, insha-Allah, present a translation of the meeting that took place on 18 May 1908 between the Promised Messiahas and Prof Clement Wragge.
(Malfuzat, Vol. 10, pp. 353-364; translated by Al Hakam)