Last Updated on 5th June 2021
On 12 May 1908, Prof Clement Lindley Wragge and his wife had the opportunity to meet the Promised Messiahas – who was in his last illness.
The renowned professor was deeply impressed with the answers he received to his questions. After the first meeting, he requested the Promised Messiahas for a chance to meet again. The Promised Messiahas had said that if his health permitted, he would accept the request and meet him again.
On 18 May 1908, Prof Wragge’s desire was fulfilled and he got the opportunity to meet the Promised Messiahas once more, this time asking questions related to science and religion. The second meeting was just eight days prior to the Promised Messiah’sas demise.
Just like the first meeting, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra served as the medium through which Prof Wragge met the Promised Messiahas.
The meeting on 18 May 1908 took place after Zuhr prayer, in Lahore.
Prof Clement Wragge: Do you believe God is limited? Or is He present and aware everywhere and has a personality and emotions?
The Promised Messiahas: I do not believe God to be limited, nor can God be limited. We believe that God Almighty is present on the earth like He is present in the sky. His connection with the creation is of two kinds – one is a general connection with the average person and the other is a special connection for those special people who purify themselves and excel in His love. As a result, He becomes so close to them as if He speaks from within them.
It is a peculiar thing that despite being far, He is close and despite being close, He is far. He is extremely close; however, we cannot say [His closeness] is in the manner of how one body is close to another. And He is the highest, but we cannot say there is anyone below Him. He is the most apparent, yet is still the most hidden. The extent to which man attains true purity correlates to the knowledge he receives about Him.
Concerning emotions, he [Prof Wragge] probably means why God Almighty has put the responsibility of the weight of the Shariah on mankind and why He shackled mankind in the parameters of halal and haram?
And so, one must realise that the reality is that God Almighty is immensely Holy. Due to His holiness, He does not like impurity. And as He is the Most Merciful and the Most Honourable, He does not desire a person to traverse such paths that result in their destruction. So, these are His emotions on the basis of which the system of religion is established. Now you can name those [“emotions”] however you like.
Prof Clement Wragge: Does God have an image?
The Promised Messiahas: When He is not limited, how can He have an image?
Prof Clement Wragge: When God is love, equality and justice, then why did He make some things to be the food of others? If love, justice, equality or mercy are His personal attributes, then why did He give certain creatures the ability and power to consume other creatures, whereas they are equal in creation?
The Promised Messiahas: When the word “love” is attributed to God Almighty, it is a huge mistake to compare His love to human love. The way in which the word “love” applies to humans and the meaning derived from it relating to human relations, absolutely does not apply to God; nor do those meanings and conclusions hold true regarding God.
Humans have the capacity for love and anger, but the understanding that comes to mind when these words are used regarding humans can never apply to God too. It is a mistake. The nature of a human is that when they love someone their separation from that person distresses them. A mother loves her child but if her child is separated from her, then look at how distressed she becomes and how much sorrow and pain she experiences.
In the same way, when a person gets angry at someone, they first experience [the anger’s] distress and pain within themselves – as such, by giving another person a punishment, they also punish themselves. Anger is a sorrow that affects the individual first – a type of bitterness is created in one’s temperament that draws away all happiness and comfort.
But God Almighty is pure from these things. It is, therefore, a clear conclusion that the way these words [love etc.] are applied to humans and the conclusions derived by them when used for humans, cannot be applied in the same way for God Almighty, nor are these meanings true regarding God.
For this reason, I do not like these words – it is a word invented by these people, who merely compare God to human conditions. He is a pure entity and for those who act according to His pleasure, their connection with Him [God] continuously increases. However, of course, the words “love” and “anger” are used regarding God as metaphors.
Thus, always remember, this is the system of the world for which God Almighty – through His perfect wisdom – has set the current system and the world continues under this system. However, these words are not suitable and applicable to Him. The word “love” possesses meanings of pain and sorrow. If we, for example, imagine God is love and has the attribute of anger (according to how these words are applied to humans), then we must also accept that God experiences a type of pain, sorrow and sadness. But always keep in mind, such incomplete words cannot be attributed to God Almighty.
Prof Clement Wragge: I have understood this, but I want to ask why God has established that an inferior creature becomes the servant of a superior creature or becomes its sustenance and is humiliated by it?
The Promised Messiahas: I have just explained we cannot rationalise God’s attributes of love, mercy and anger in the same framework as human attributes. To compare the human condition with God Almighty is a grave mistake. This is God Almighty’s vast system, and He has made it like this. Mankind cannot interfere beyond its limits within this order and it is not suitable to interfere in the minutest details regarding divine works and create a question out of everything.
This world is a temporary world after which God Almighty has established a vast world in which He has intended and promised true and everlasting happiness. Every pain and sorrow in this world will be compensated in the next. The deficiencies of this world will be fulfilled in the next.
The issue of experiencing sorrow, pain, distress and suffering is that all creation – superior and inferior – have to experience them alike and this is essential for the establishment of the world’s order. If one takes a closer look, [they will realise] no one is free from pain […] Some experience it in one way while others in another. If eagles eat birds, then lions, tigers and wolves eat the children of humans; snakes and scorpions, etc. also harm them. And so, this order has always been like this, no one is excluded from it. However, to compensate and retribute this [pain and suffering], God Almighty has created another world – it is for this reason the Holy Quran has also called Him مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ [Master of the Day of Judgement[.
It can be that humans are happy, but it is possible that birds etc. are happier. This world is a test – to solve it, there is the next world. There is suffering placed in this world [but] it is God’s promise He will give happiness in the next.
If someone still asks why [God] didn’t do this or that, then the answer is that He also possesses Kingship and is the Master. He did whatever He liked and no one has the capacity or right to question His doing.
The second aspect worth pondering over is that as human suffering is greater than animal suffering, that is why human reward is greater than the reward for animals. Human suffering is of two kinds: the pain of divine law [the Shariah] and the pain of natural decree. The suffering of the natural decree is experienced by both humans and animals and is almost equal [between the two]. If animals die at the hands of humans, then humans also die at the hands of animals. In the same way, [humans and animals] share the same part in other pain.
Concerning suffering [experienced] from divine law, animals do not share the same suffering as humans. The commandments of the Shariah are also a type of blade that rests above the neck of mankind, but animals are free from this. Matters of the Shariah are a type of death that humans must undertake. And so, by looking at all these aspects, one realises human suffering is much greater than animal suffering.
The third aspect worth keeping in mind is that human senses are extremely sharp, and they have a far superior level of awareness. Humans have a stronger conscience compared to animals and plants. This is why animals are not as intelligent [as humans]. Consciousness is born from intellect. Animals remain in a type of unconsciousness as they have extremely low levels of intellect and consciousness. Percipience [and conscience] is found in humans more so – animals barely have this ability. Therefore, animals experience these types of pains very rarely and it is quite possible that sometimes they don’t feel them at all.
It is now worth pondering over who has the weight of suffering more – humans or animals? It is clear that humans experience suffering in this world more than animals do.
Prof Wragge: Whatever you have said, I have understood. What I want to know now is whether you believe animals will be given recompense in the next world?
The Promised Messiahas: Yes, I believe that according to everyone’s rank, they will be given recompense of their worldly pain and their sorrow and pain will be compensated.
Prof Wragge: Then, the necessary conclusion from this is that the animals we kill will be considered as alive, rather than dead.
The Promised Messiahas: Yes, this is essential. They have not completely died; their soul lives on. They have not died, rather they are alive too.
Prof Wragge: In the Bible it is written that Adam, or the first man, as he should be called, was created in the region mentioned in Genesis, chapter II. Are we to understand that the various human races found all across the world like in America and Australia etc. are descendants from the same common ancestor?
The Promised Messiahas: We are not of that opinion; we do not agree with the Biblical view that the world began only about six or seven thousand years ago, with the creation of Adam, and that till then there existed nothing at all. This would imply a previous period when God, so to say, was inert and inactive and His attributes were in a state of abeyance – a view which we can never accept. Nor do we believe that the different races scattered all over the world have exclusively descended from this one Adam.
We believe that human beings existed even before the time of Adam [spoken of in the Old Testament]. This view is clearly implied in the words of the Holy Quran where it says انی جاعل فی الارض خليفة [I am about to place a Khalifa in the earth]. The word خليفة [khalifa] means a successor. This verse implies, therefore, that Allah’s creation existed before Adam. Consequently, with regard to the races found in America and Australia, we are not in a position to say whether they have descended from this last Adam or from a different ancestor or ancestors.
There is a saying of Hazrat Mohy-ud-Din Ibn-e-Arabi that bears on this question. He writes that when he went on pilgrimage to Mecca, he met a man there who, he thought, was Adam. He asked the man if he was Adam to which the man replied, “There have been thousands of Adams; which of them do you seek?”
Prof Wragge: Do you believe in evolution and hold that man has progressed by degrees from lower stages of life to higher ones, and that he evolved first from a snake, scorpion etc. into an ape and then evolved into a man. [Also] when did the soul come into existence?
The Promised Messiahas: We do not consider that man was formerly an ape whose tail disappeared and whose hair fell off in the course of a long process of evolution culminating in a human being. That humans have descended from an ape is a claim, the onus of proof for which lies on those who put forth this view. They cannot prove the truth of this theory unless they can show an ape in the process of emerging into a human being. How can we accept such fanciful stories?
Nevertheless, we do accept lots of Adams have passed; however, according to what we know at the moment and what we observe every day, humans are born from humans. An ape giving birth to a human or a human giving birth to an ape has never been observed by anyone. This is just a story like those in novels.
A species always gives birth to the same species. The law of God in this respect is plain for anyone who cares to see; the offspring of a donkey is always a donkey; the offspring of a horse is always a horse and monkeys reproduce only monkeys. As opposed to this unfailing universal law, if anyone claims that monkeys at one time gave birth to human beings, it behoves them to prove their case. Simply saying that perhaps it was so, has no substance. Allah the Almighty has put before us an observable proof – those who want to oppose this should present a clear proof, otherwise nothing is proven true through a mere claim.
As for the soul, this too is a creation [of God]. It is generated by God Almighty from matter in the human body [at a certain stage in its existence] – I have discussed this topic in detail in my new published book, Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat. The human soul, while hidden and latent, already exists in the human sperm. During the changes which the sperm goes through in the womb, the [primitive] soul too goes through a process of evolution. At the end of the fourth month of pregnancy, or the beginning of the fifth, a radical transformation takes place and the human soul emerges, as Allah the Almighty says:
ثُمَّ اَنۡشَاۡنٰهُ خَلۡقًا اٰخَرَ
[then We developed it into another creation] [Surah al-Mu‘minun, Ch.23: V.15]
It is a serious error to assume, as the Arya Samajists do, that the human soul is co-eternal with God. This view, when we follow all the implications, ends in God not being God at all and only by name.
The human soul is a rarefied essence, created by God that grows along with the other processes of growth in the life of humans. For instance, take the fruit that grows on the cluster fig tree. Even when unripe, this fruit contains, in an incomplete form, the living eggs of certain insects, which, with the ripening of the fruit, develop into living insects who are found in the fruit, and often, when you break the fruit open, you can see them fly away. In addition to the cluster fig there are a number of other trees the fruit of which offers instances of this kind.
Thus, what we perceive to be going on around us in nature, supports our point of view. A truth established on the basis of observation and experience should not be ignored. In reality, fruits of the kind mentioned above come into being with certain matter already present in them which grow as the fruit grows in size and ripens.
Prof Wragge: Those who believe in spiritualism hold that life has come down from the moon, and intelligence from Jupiter and that the moon was from the earth. The earth in the early stages, they say, was extremely soft, at which time a portion of it flew apart and went swimming in space and became what we know as the moon. They hold, thus, that life really originated in this earth, from where it travelled to the moon when the fragment broke away from it, and from the moon it descends upon man. What is your view with regard to this matter?
The Promised Messiahas: We recognise that the sun and the moon and all other heavenly bodies have an effect and influence [on the earth]. Humans take benefit from their effects too and even when the child is in the mother’s womb, it is subject to their influences. Islam does not oppose this principle and we see no reason why we should hesitate to accept it. Moonlight, undoubtedly, has a great influence over crops – it helps fruits grow, makes them sweet and some people have even heard the cracking of pomegranates as they burst open at night under the influence of moonlight.
As for further and intricate details not yet well established, we are not prepared to accept them. It is plainly stated in the Holy Quran that the sun and the moon and all other heavenly bodies are the servants of mankind and useful to them. We therefore do not hesitate to believe that we derive benefit from all heavenly bodies just as we derive benefit from crops. If it is proven that intelligence has some connection with Jupiter, we will be ready to accept that too.
(At this point, Prof Clement Wragge said: “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.”)
Prof Wragge: In connection with the soul, how should we name what is found in flies and similar living creatures low in the scale of life?
The Promised Messiahas: The soul is of three kinds, 1. the plant soul 2. The animal soul 3. The human soul. We do not believe that all three stand on a footing of equality. Of these, it is the human soul alone that inherits true life and combines in itself the seed of all perfections. The other two forms, the souls of plants and animals, also have a type of life but those souls cannot compare with the human soul, nor can they reach the ranks that human souls can. They cannot compare with human souls in terms of beauties and abilities either. Even if there are some similarities, I wish not to get into this minute debate. It is conceivable that there are some points of resemblance, but just as externally there is evident difference between humans and these lower forms of life, similarly there are vast differences between their spiritual capabilities.
In fact, it is admitted that a crude and elementary form of sensitiveness is to be found between plant lives too. If a bamboo is planted under a roof, it continues to grow straight until it reaches within a few inches of the roof, then it deflects the direction of its growth. Then there is the plant popularly called “touch-me-not” in Punjabi; the moment it is touched, its leaves contract. These facts are recorded in old reliable scientific works and they are borne out by common observation. But questions of this kind need not too much attention. A layman can better utilise his time in other ways […] going into minute debates about this and wanting to find out all details and wasting time in doing so is not good.
Prof Wragge: Once, I went to a church and the priest there said that “humans are despicable and filthy creatures. They continue to fall every day and do not have the ability to progress. This is why, to give them salvation and to protect them from sin, God sent His only son for atonement.”
However, I know humans can progress in doing good. If this child of mine does something bad right now due to his ignorance and not knowing [the difference between good and bad], then after some time, when he gains intelligence and his knowledge increases, he will himself understand that this act is wrong and will stay away from it and do good acts instead. What do you believe in this regard?
The Promised Messiahas: Humans are good; they can do good deeds and have been given the abilities to excel and progress. A person can progress in good and, as a result, achieve salvation.
Prof Wragge: These people [Christians] say that even if someone does hundreds of thousands of good deeds, they are still doomed for destruction, unless they believe in the atonement of Jesus. What do you say about this?
The Promised Messiahas: A person is required to take actions and to strive. There is no need for atonement. The spiritual system is just like the physical one. Consider the example of a harvester (in the physical system). Observe how hard he toils to plough, plant seeds and give water etc.
We do not accept that there is no salvation besides atonement. In fact, the concept of atonement is a hurdle in the way of human progress.
Prof Wragge: What is meant by purity?
The Promised Messiahas: Purity means a person is not overcome by their human carnal passions that take them away from God Almighty and aim to immerse them [in those passions]. [Purity is] that a person walks according to God’s pleasure until no utterance or action of his is carried out without the pleasure and decision of God.
God is Holy and Pure. He guides mankind according to His attributes. He is Merciful and wants mercy from mankind too. He is Generous and wants mankind to be generous. God Almighty’s attributes are observable in nature. Physically, we observe the world has existed for a very long time. God has provided mankind with sustenance, water, clothing, light etc. – He has continued to provide for all human essentials and needs. And, at all times, His attributes of mercy and grace and all of His beautiful names have helped and assisted creation. Thus, the purpose of this is that God Almighty desires to imbue mankind with the colours of His attributes.
At this, Prof Clement L Wragge and his wife thanked the Promised Messiahas and said they were very thankful that he gave them audience, spoke to them, showed courtesy, increased their knowledge and that they enjoyed their time with him.
(Malfuzat, Vol. 10, pp. 426-438; translated by Al Hakam, with assistance from the translation published in The Review of Religions, May 1939)