Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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"And to Him belongs whoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those who are with Him are not too proud to serve Him, nor are they weary" (21:19).
So far we have been discussing the necessity for the Divine Word to be matchless in the light of the laws of nature. But the same proposition can be looked at from another angle as well in order to enable us to arrive at the same conclusion.
This indispensable degree of conviction is not attainable merely on the basis of having seen the wide range of things created by the Almighty. To take a man to the required degree of conviction, what is needed is a revealed Scripture, the like of which should be impossible for the genius to produce, no matter how capable and wise he might be in other respects. To make this point adequately clear, it is essential that two things should be brought out: Firstly, why is the desirable hope of salvation dependant on the kind of conviction mentioned above? Secondly, why the required degree of conviction cannot be attained on the basis of an observation and experience in regard to the actual existence, in fact, of the material world, and the innumerable and infinite range of its far-flung manifestations? In this connection, it is important to grasp the point that the perfect conviction under reference means that degree of an absolute certainty which leaves no room for the slightest shade of doubt, which confers the fullest possible satisfaction and peace on the mind. No belief, or principle, that fails to produce this kind of satisfaction and peace of mind, can really deserve to be taken as having risen to the required height, since it cannot be said to form more than a likelihood, and a more or less wistful piece of thought, and an optimistic flight of imagination.
The perfect hope of a sure salvation depends on an absolute conviction of the mind, because man should be able to keep the love of God in his heart, supreme over all his material desires and wishes, all his aims and ambitions in the pursuit of material goals, supreme over all kinds of ties and relationships of the flesh. But the difficulty is that, instead of modelling his life on this basis, man suffers his heart to get attached to things which tend powerfully to pull him in the opposite direction. In fact, he gets entangled in these things to such an extent that, almost unconsciously, he begins to believe that all his comfort, all his peace of mind, all his enjoyment, depend on the maintenance of these ties with the material objects and relationships. Further, in the impaired range of his perceptions, not only does it appear to him that his happiness and peace lie in these pursuits and these ties, but he also perceives, on the basis of his material and physical sense, that this is a tangible reality in regard to which there is no possibility of doubt. The Quran says: "Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it and it has no gaps. And the earth, We have spread it out, and cast therein mountains, and We have made to grow therein of every beautiful kind - to give sight and as a reminder to every servant who turns to Allah. And We send down from the clouds water abounding in good, then We cause to grow thereby gardens and the grain that is reaped, and the tall palm-trees having flower spikes piled one above another - a sustenance for the servants, and We give life thereby to a dead land. Thus is the rising" (50:6-11). [Note that the "rising" includes both the spiritual resurrection and the greater Resurrection in a life after death.]
Again, it is asked: "What is the matter with you that you hope not for greatness from Allah? And indeed He has created you by various stages. See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens alike, and made the moon therein a light, and made the sun a lamp? And Allah has caused you to grow out of the earth as a growth, then He returns you to it, then will He bring you forth a (new) bringing forth. And Allah has made the earth a wide expanse for you that you may go along therein in spacious paths" (71:13-20). [See also 2:164; 67:2-4.]
Such are the arguments drawn from the material universe that it must have a Creator. Another class of arguments regarding the existence of God relates to the human soul in which is implanted the consciousness of divine existence. An appeal is repeatedly made to man's inner self: "Were they created without a (creative) agency? Or are they the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth?" (52:35-36).
God-consciousness is thus shown to be part and parcel of human nature. Sometimes, this statement is mentioned in terms of the unimaginable nearness of the Divine Spirit to the human spirit: "Certainly We created man, and We know what his mind suggests to him - and We are nearer to him than his life-vein" (50:16). [See also 56:85.]
It is, therefore, clear that unless a man comes to have the same degree of conviction and absolute certainty in regard to the existence of God; in regard to the supreme joy of communion with Him; in regard to the inevitability of the Day of judgement; in regard to the wide range of the blessings from Him; in regard to the value of his estates and prosperous fields; in regard to the satisfaction of material desires which fall to his lot; and in the worldly life he lives from day to day, he is not in a position to turn to God with any deep, abiding, and compelling impulse of his mind and being. For, a weak idea cannot overcome a dominating experience which daily comes to a man in the spheres of his material life. On the very face of it, it is true that, at the moment when such a man is about to leave this life - if he feels a fuller degree of conviction in his mind in regard to the existence of the material objects than he does in regard to the Hereafter - the angel of darkness, appearing suddenly before him, threatens to remove him from the joys he has known in this life, from the friends and relations he has had, from the fields and estates he has controlled and ruled over, it is not possible for such a man in those last and supreme moments of his life to give as much thought to the intangible and shadowy possibility of the existence of God, as he naturally would to the agony of having to part from the material and precious objects he had valued so much, and to the joys from which he had derived such an excessive measure of pleasure. He can be expected to think of the Lord only if his conviction in regard to the existence of God, the inexpressible joy of communion with Him, and in regard to the reward and punishment in the Hereafter for deeds done in this life is quite as firm and deep. If, in those last moments, his faith and conviction in these things are not strong enough to drive out of his mind thoughts of the material world, his end is likely to be a bad one.
As for the contention that the required degree of the firmness of faith in the metaphysical realities is not attainable on the basis of observation and experience of material phenomena alone, it stands proved. Because the material creation does not comprise, for instance, a book, on the pages of which one could read inscribed that this world had actually been created by God; that the Supreme Being existed indeed; that the joy of communion with Him was the only real peace for the human soul; that he would portion out in the Hereafter a due reward and punishment for human actions. The utmost one can say, on the basis of an observation and experience of the material world, is that there ought to be, there must be a Master Creative Mind behind the inimitable beauty, and the marvellous arrangement and order. But this thought cannot become anything more than a kind of imaginative speculation, which is a far cry from the firmness of faith and absolute certainty and conviction.
Evidently, 'there ought to be' is vastly different - in fact, it is nothing as compared to the value of 'there is'. The former lacks the certainty which belongs to the latter, since a certain measure of doubt remains clinging to it. Where in regard to a thing a man says, as an imaginary possibility visualised by him, that it 'ought to be' in a certain manner, it only means that as far as the speaker in question could see, the matter should be as expected or described or visualised by him; for he would not at all be in a position to say positively that in fact it 'was' really as stated by him. This is the reason why those in the past, who had taken their stand on the basis of their observation and experience of the material world, had never been able to rise to any agreed conclusion. Nor any agreement is found in the case of such people these days. One can say with the fullest faith that there is not likely to be any greater degree of agreement among them in the future. Of course, in a corner of the heavens, if one could see inscribed in indelible letters, for instance, 'I am indeed the only and the peerless Lord, Who has made all these things, Who will reward the good for their virtue, and punish the evil-doers,' humanity would have faith in the existence of God and the Hereafter. If such had been the case, there would have been no need for the Almighty to have made available for the benefit of man any other basis and means to breed in him the required degree of firmness of faith and conviction.
When they look at the material phenomena from this angle, all the wise people find themselves in a position where they have to concede that, from a look at the earth and the heavens, the testimony that rises to the surface is certainly not one that can be said to attain the stage of absolute certainty and conviction, with no shade of doubt lingering anywhere in it. All that is obtainable from such testimony does not amount to anything more than a kind of idea, a likelihood, which only means that there ought to be a Creator at the back of the material universe. But even this ought to be would rise in the mind of only those people who would be prepared to rule out the possibility of the material universe having come into being quite of itself as purely a chance happening, with no scheme or purpose in it. The ought to be would have no value in the eyes of an atheist who believes that the material universe is something that is eternal, interminable in time and space, his line of thought and the logic of his reasoning being that, if it was not possible for anything to come into being without there being some creator for it, then who created God?
It may be said here that there are people who repose no faith in the Day of Judgment on account whereof the Creator is called "Master of the day of Requital." These people deny the manifestation, and understand salvation in their own whimsical way. They believe not in that sort of salvation which lasts for ever, but contend that permanent and perpetual peace can be had neither here nor in the Hereafter. According to their doctrine, this world, too, is, in all its perfection, the place for reward and punishment; and the wealth that one has down here has been given him as a reward for the good deeds done and that he has the rights to spend it in this very world for the gratification of his egoistic desires and pleasures.
It may be noted that God's giving of wealth to a person in this world that he may, believing it to be the reward of his noble deeds, use it as a weapon for the purpose of eating, drinking and every kind of voluptuousness, is obviously such an iniquitous act that to ascribe it to the Almighty constitutes contempt of the most wicked nature. It needs no saying to what a horrible extent a man will be the slave of his carnal self when he considers all his riches and all his power to be only the recompense of his previous good deeds. But if, on the other hand, lie had known that this world is the place of tribulation and not that of reward, and that whatever has been given him is for his trial so that it may be disclosed how and in what way he spends it, and that not a thing there is which belongs to him as a matter of right, he would have seen his salvation in spending all his wealth on good and noble deeds. Besides, he would also have been grateful for the reason that only such a person can express gratitude with heart-felt sincerity and love, who feels that all that he has got has been given him free, and without any title to it.
Therefore, for a man with whom the recognition of God is confined only to what he might be able to glean and conclude, from his observation and experience of the material phenomena, there is no basis for rising to the position of a firm faith and absolute conviction that God does indeed exist. His knowledge and realization cannot go beyond an estimate, an assessment of the situation that there should be a Supreme Being. But, even this only in case one does not become disposed to think like an atheist. This is the reason why those among the earlier thinkers, who stuck firmly to only logical reasoning, have made serious errors. By raising a hundred kinds of differences of opinion, they destroyed the very possibility of an agreed conclusion ever emerging from their discussions and dissertations. For, on one side, they remained overpowered by their love for things of the material world; while, on the other, they could not determine what would be the nature of things they would have to confront in future, in the realms of the Hereafter. They had, therefore, to pass away from this life in a state of utter remoteness from the firmness of faith and conviction, which lies at the root of that peace of the mind without which there is no rest, no true happiness, no abiding satisfaction for the human soul. What has survived of them is only their own confession that their knowledge concerning metaphysical affairs, in regard to the Hereafter, could not be termed reliable being only of the nature of conjectures, imaginary possibilities, an uncertain kind of sense, without sufficient knowledge of the reality of a matter, which vaguely feels that it should be in such and such wise, without knowing whether or not, it ways really so. Whatsoever the learned people came to hold in their own private opinion, that it should be so and so, they proceeded to assume that it was really so.
It is to be noted that in every human being, who relies on his own conjecture and speculation, there is always a vein of atheism. In an outspoken atheist, this vein becomes avowedly pronounced, while in others it is almost invisible. The only thing that can thoroughly uproot this vein is a revealed Book. As explained above, in drawing a conclusion to that end, from an observation and an experience of the material universe, the human mind has essayed in various directions, some taking it to mean one thing, while others took it to mean something vastly different. No such difference of opinion, however, is possible when the argument is firmly anchored on the basis of a revealed Book. Even an atheist will not dare deny that a speech cannot have come into existence without a speaker in being like the heavens and the earth that it can have existed immemorially.
Tackled from this angle, an atheist would hold put only until he is forced to concede the matchlessness of a revealed Scripture. The moment he has to concede that production of a book of this kind was beyond the genius of mortal man, immediately the seed of an ultimate belief in the existence of God secures a lodgment in his mind. There can be no speech, if there is no speaker who uttered it. Besides, in the Word of God is also found a sure knowledge; in regard to the origin and the end of the material universe and man's place in it, which is essential for the perfection of the human soul. This advantage, too, does not accrue from a study of the heaven and the earth. For, in the first place, from a study of the material universe, no knowledge is to be gleaned of the subtle verities and mysteries in the field of religion. If anything at all is to be gleaned from such a study, it all remains vague.
The stage of complete conviction lies in a proper perception of things as they exist in fact; but human intelligence, by itself, cannot bestow this kind of strong conviction on man, for the utmost that human intelligence can do is to establish the need for the existence of a thing; on the basis of reason and argument, it can become, that existence of the object in question was necessary and essential; it cannot definitely say that the thing also existed in fact. The stage of perfect conviction is reached only when the ought to be so in regard to a thing changes into in fact it is so. And this happens only when human intelligence gains the help and assistance of a faithful companion which confirms the validity of a conjectured situation, by turning it into a factor which can be observed and verified.
Evidently, it is one thing for the need of a thing to be established, and quite another that the actual existence of the object in question should come to be fully established In any case, human, intelligence cannot do without help from a friend and an auxiliary, which should turn the ought, established by the rational processes of the human mind, into an is, capable of being perceived and felt as matter of fact; enlightening the mind in regard to the matter as it actually stands. Therefore, God, Who desires that man should attain to the stage of perfect conviction, has fully provided for this great need: He has taken steps to fill this dire gap; He has appointed a number of such aids and auxiliaries, which open for man the way to a complete and perfect conviction, so that he should not come to, be deprived of salvation which, primarily and essentially, depends on the attainment of a complete and perfect conviction in regard to things and factors which play an important part in his life; that he should duly cross the bridge of mental speculation and imaginary structures in regard to certain things to reach the place of safety on the other side of the river.
Where the matter in question pertains to the tangible and material things of this world, seen daily, or heard, or smelt, or felt, the aid and auxiliary that comes forward to help human intelligence to the stage of perfect conviction, is correct observation and experience on a basis of the various senses with which the human mind has been blessed. Where the matter in question pertains to incidents and events which have transpired in the past, or are transpiring in the present, this aid is called history, correspondence, and communication. Like human observation, these factors also clarify the smoky light of human reason and intelligence. And where the matter pertains to events in spheres beyond the range of the material senses, which the human eye cannot see, the ear cannot hear, the hand cannot feel them by touch, nor can history manage to probe into them, there is a third friend that comes forward to assist: Divine Revelation.
So, out of His great Mercy, He reveals Himself to man; He revealed Himself through His chosen servants in every age and every country: "Surely We have revealed to thee (Muhammad) as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him, and We revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes,: and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave to David a scripture. And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to thee before and messengers We have not mentioned to thee" (4:163-164).
Only mortals, to whom He revealed Himself, were sent as reformers, because none but a mortal could serve as a model for men: "We sent not before thee (Muhammad) any bit men to whom We sent revelation; so ask the followers of the Reminder if you know not. Nor did We give them bodies not eating food, nor did they abide" (11:7-8). [See also 17:93.]
It is to be noted that discussing whether a religious Scripture is such that in its qualities and attributes, it is beyond the powers of mortal man to produce anything like it, forms only a part of the main question of divine revelation, of which the need is not logically proved. When it is not established that revelation is indispensable for human progress then discussion whether a particular Scripture is so sublime that the human mind cannot produce anything to match it, becomes entirely useless.
As a matter of speculation, whatever picture may be built up in regard to the Lord and other related metaphysical questions, it fails to create perfect conviction and complete knowledge. The doubts and misgivings which remain lurking in the mind cannot be eliminated except with the help of divine revelation. On the basis of a study of the universe, the conclusion to which the human mind can rise is that there ought to be a Creator Who brought it into being. Of course, when we see a building, we feel sure that some architect and engineer must have set up the structure; but this kind of conviction is the result of our routine observation, since every day we see around ourselves structures being put up, and we also see the engineers, builders, masons and other workmen employed on them. But who can manage to show the Builder of the earth, the heavenly bodies, and other related phenomena? Our conviction in regard to Him will become firm only when someone shows some sign or trace of His existence and presence. Even if human intelligence comes forward to testify as to His existence, this intelligence will immediately find itself running out of depth; it will begin to flounder in the face of a question: why no one has ever seen Him, if He does really exist?
Therefore, at one stage, if human intelligence leads a man part of the way towards a realization of the existence of God, the same intelligence, a little later, confuses the issue and puts out the light, plunging the seeker-after-truth into a distressing kind of darkness of the mind. It turns some into atheists; others into naturalists; some begin to incline this way, while others rush off at quite another direction. How can mere speculation satisfy the mind when there is nothing to confirm its veracity? Even if the speculative power of the human mind took a bold leap, and said there should be a Creator at the back of the measureless material phenomena, who is there who would give satisfaction and peace to our mind by convincing us that there is no fallacy involved in the conclusion to which we find ourselves driven in this sacred search? Beyond this point, there is nothing at all to which our intelligence can lead us; and here we find ourselves confronted by a weighty question if human intelligence is enough for leading man, then why does this intelligence begin to flounder? Why does it collapse and refuse to proceed? Is this the height of our knowledge and comprehension in regard to the Supreme Being? Should we stay contented with this frame of mind? Taking our stand on weak and baseless ideas of this kind, can we come to inherit the eternal happiness and peace, prepared for those who have a firm conviction, and a deep realisation in regard to the existence of God? Is this the perfect and complete faith for which the human soul is always thirsting? Had more human intelligence been in a position to lead us to God, we could have said with a measure of justification that we had no need for inspiration and revelation, since we had already arrived at our goal. But, if we do not look around for some remedy, even after we have been struck down by an illness, if we do not try to discover means for the restoration of our health, we are indeed very unfortunate people.
Therefore, when the Lord has provided people with eyes, that they should see and, consequently, look at the question with open eyes, can they deny that mankind stands in need of divine revelation? The attainment of firm faith and complete conviction is not possible except with help from revelation, without which there can be no dependable immunity against error; nor can a firm stand be taken on the principle of the Unity of God. It is only on this basis that we find so much and so convincing talk in the world to the effect that God exists. It is revelation from Him alone, from the earliest times in human history, that has been putting an ardour of devotion in the heart of man, which springs from a realization of His bounties. It invests man's worship of His Being with deep, inexpressible joy and ecstasy which goes with it, planting the satisfaction and peace of conviction in the heart of the believers about his existence and the reality of the life Hereafter. It is due to revelation alone that millions of people, who have realized the Truth, bound up with the idea of God's existence and the consequent Hereafter have left this transient, material life with a firm and unshakable expectation and a sure hope in regard to the supreme sweetness of the life to come. It has enabled thousands of martyrs to sacrifice their lives without the slightest hesitation. Revelation, the blessed ark, in times of deadly storms and tempests, darkness and moral disease, has taken humanity to the shore on the other side, to the safe haven and anchorage represented by the philosophy, centring on firm conviction in the Unity of God. It forms the last retreat, the last resort, the last point of safety in the darkness of doubts and apprehensions, created in the human heart by ill-informed groping schools of material thought.
The harm suffered by mankind through the wrong working of the rational faculty is not hidden from people gifted with eyes. What made Plato and his disciples deny the creative genius of the Supreme Being? What made Jalinus fall into doubt in regard to the indestructible nature of the soul and the validity of punishment and reward for human actions in the life to come? What made so many learned people in human history deny that the knowledge of the Creator was comprehensive, and that it embraced a perfect awareness even of the minute details in the way the universe existed, and worked as a faultless machine, without fear of breakdown or disruption? Who, or what made so many philosophers of imposing stature fall down in worship before lifeless and unavailing idols? What made people sacrifice animals at the altar of so many gods and goddesses? Was it not this very rational faculty of man, where it was not aided by divine revelation?
Some people may urge that divine revelation blocks the way to the perfect knowledge whereon depends the attainment of life eternal and blessedness of the highest order. The contention is that revelation retards the progress of thought, and prevents the process of investigation and research from moving forward.
This objection has, in its composition, ingredients of falsehood, prejudice and ignorance. The falsehood is that despite the full knowledge of the fact that great truths and profound principles have progressed in the world through the efforts of such people who adhered to divine revelation, and that sublime secrets of the Unity of food have spread in the world through such exalted persons who reposed full faith in the Word of God, controverts have stated contrariously to their knowledge. The prejudice is that, in order to stick unreasonably to their stubbornness, they have concealed deliberately the obvious truth that in theological matters intellect alone cannot guide to the point of perfect faith. And ignorance is that Revelation and Intellect have been looked upon as two contraries that cannot exist together. This apprehension is, again, baseless. The follower of true Revelation cannot be held back and hindered from intellectual research. On the contrary, he gets guidance and assistance from revelation to probe into the properties of things in a right and reasonable way, and falls not into error and doubt due to the light given by it.
In short, the function of intellect is to disclose and display the facts of revelation in a hypothetical way, whereas that of revelation is to guard and protect intellect from wandering astray into the wilderness. It is thus clear that there is no dispute, nor disagreement, between intellect and revelation, nor is the real Revelation any obstacle whatsoever in the way of intellectual advancement. It is, on the other hand, the giver of light and guidance, help and encouragement to intellect. The Lord has Himself said that "these parables, We set them forth for men, and none understand them but the learned" (29:43).
Just as the usefulness and worth of eyesight is known by means of the sun only, in the same way, the excellences of intellectual sight are displayed only by means of Revelation which, having saved intellect from straying, points to the nearest way to get at the cherished goal of knowledge and wisdom.
It is a well known fact that if, at the time of thought and contemplation, this much guidance be vouchsafed as to which is the right course to be pursued, a good deal of help is rendered to intellect which is, in this way, saved from confused thinking and vexation. The believers in revelation have a liking for the excellent faculty of intellect not only of their own accord, but revelation itself enjoins upon them to strengthen and stimulate it. They art, in this way, roused to action in the matter of intellectual advancement by a double incentive. One is the natural zeal and earnestness in man which impels him to know in a rational way, the intrinsic worth and properties of each and every thing, the other is the revelational injunctions which intensify and emphasize this fervour People who study the Holy Quran, even cursorily, cannot deny the fact that it is replete with injunctions for the exercise of thought and observation, so that it has been said to be the distinctive sign of the believers that they always reflect upon the wonders of the earth and the heavens, and ponder over the divine law of wisdom: It is stated in the Quran that "in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and tile day, there are surely signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and (lying) on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain" (3:190-191).
There is yet another objection adduced in this connection: that revelation is a bondage, and that by being free from every such bondage a person may be materially much happier.
We agree with this critical observation, and admit that revelation is undoubtedly 'a restraint. But, it is a restraint of such a nature that without it true freedom is impossible to achieve; for, true freedom connotes that man, being emancipated from every kind of error, doubt and suspicion, should attain to the stage of perfect belief, and behold his beneficent God in this very world. This true and real freedom has been achieved by perfect and saintly men in this world by means of the true Scripture. In a way, however, the people who have raised this objection, by means of this unrestrained liberty, undoubtedly acquired the pleasure of this world to their heart's content, so that what is permissible and what is not, depends simply on their word. But they shall have to taste the bitter fruit of this unbridled liberty on the Day of Judgment when they shall have to account for their disbelief and unrestrained action.
It may be objected that if the perfection of man's realization and comprehension of God depended so entirely on a revealed Scripture, it was better, in that case, that revelation should have been vouchsafed to every individual without exception, so that all human beings could have attained to the required degree of comprehension, without any intermediary. If all people cannot become recipients of revelation, it should not be possible in the case of any one of their number.
For one to become a recipient of revelation, a proper capacity for the purpose is an indispensable condition. It is not possible for every individual to become a messenger of God, as the Quran states: "When a message comes to them (the unbelievers) they say: We will not believe till we are given the like of that which Allah's messengers are: given. Allah best knows where to place His message" (6:124).
In other words, the Beneficent knows who is worthy, and the blessing of revelation comes down only on the deserving. To develop this point fully, it should be remembered that, for a variety of reasons, the Almighty has created individuals with a vast range of differences of temperaments and capacities. Human nature and human capabilities are like a long line of which one end stands extremely high, while the other lies at an extremely low point. At the higher end, stand people with great capabilities and pure minds; at the lower end, come those whose minds are impure and capabilities almost nil. In between stand the majority, who have middling powers and capabilities. To prove this point, careful observation of the variety which occurs among people in regard to their powers and capacities is needed. Owing to various causes, events, and circumstances, just as some people are born handsome and healthy, or ugly and weak, similarly, individuals differ in strength of minds and enlightened hearts. Of course, it is true that everyone can make progress in terms of his intelligence, righteousness, and love of God. But it should be noted that in making progress, no individual can step outside the range of capabilities made inherent in his being, no matter how great are the pains over his education and instruction, no matter how able and learned his tutor. If there were no difference in powers and capacities among individuals, there would be no difference in the knowledge and learning acquired by various people, there would be no reason why some minds should excel others in the power of grasp and understanding.
It is also true that in some cases, careful education retrieves, to some extent, low types of minds and characters; a wicked person may reform himself, while a coward may sometimes show remarkable courage. From an observation of such cases, marry people might think that these persons in question changed their nature. But, we may again emphasize that it is not possible for any human being to step outside the limit fired by nature for the capacities and the temperament he is endowed with. No matter what kind of progress he makes, what kind of attainments he comes ago acquire, he would essentially remain within the range imposed on his mental and physical powers.
In the earlier eras of human history, corruptions and iniquities in human affairs, which the Book was to rectify, had not yet reached the extreme point, but at the time when it was revealed they had done so. Thus between the Quran and the other religious Scriptures there is this difference even if they had remained immune against human interference and interpolation, these Scriptures would have gone out of date, giving rise to the necessity for a Book with an up-to-date teaching, capable of providing mankind with a torchlight which would shine for ever, showing the way clearly at all times in the future. But in the case of the Holy Quran, there is no need now for any other Scripture, for there is nothing more to be added. Nor is it possible for anyone to corrupt the Book, because God says that "We have revealed the Reminder, and surely We are its Guardian" (15:9).
For the last thirteen hundred years, the world has seen this prophecy being fulfilled. No idolatrous teaching has been able to find its way into the Quran; and for the future, too, there is no rational basis for any assumption that some interference with its text might take place, since there are thousands of people who know the Book by heart; there are hundreds of commentaries and millions of people recite different portions of it in their daily prayers. Moreover, copies of the Quran have spread all over the earth and people, almost everywhere, are informed in regard to its contents. All these circumstances are obviously such that they exclude the possibility of any interference with its text.
It is thus clear that the signs which arise from perfect faith, and the effects which indisputable word produces upon human minds, can never be expected from single-handed intellect, the proof whereof is fully furnished by our daily experience. For example, when a man returns home from a foreign country, people gather round him seeking to know about that place, and the narratives of this eyewitness produce an effect upon their minds, and are believed to be correct and true, without any doubt, more especially when he is also looked upon as a virtuous person. The reason why his word should carry so much force, arid produce so great an effect upon the minds is that having accepted him as an eye-witness of the place related about, and as a righteous man, it has been believed in respect of him that whatever he relates about that country is true. His statements penetrate so deep into the soul that a picture, as it were, of those events comes before the eye; and often when he relates a soul-stirring incident of his travels, or a pain-producing story of a people, it seizes so strongly upon the minds that tears burst from their eyes, as if they are themselves witnessing the distressing scenes of sorrow. But if a man, on the other hand, who has never stepped out of his house to pay a visit to that distant land, nor ever heard its account from eyewitnesses, should give a description of the unseen country by a random guess, his gabble, to be such, will not produce any effect on people.
Therefore, a man's word, until he is believed by the audience to have a full knowledge of an event will, instead of imparting an effect upon the soul, only excite raillery and ridicule; and this is the reason that the dry discourses of these intellectuals have not been able to divert anyone's attention in full faith towards the Great Beyond. People think that just as these thinkers speak at random, they can also fly against their opinion in the region of conjectures and surmises. None of them, neither the speakers nor the audience, have witnessed and seen the true facts on the spot. So, when some wise persons began to express their opinion on the existence of God, other wiseacres stood up against them and compiled books in support of atheism.
The truth about the matter is that even those philosophers who believed, to some extent, in the existence of God, have never been, nor are even now, wholly free from the virus of agnosticism. Do the unbelievers consider the Almighty to be endowed with perfect attributes? Do they admit that He is not speechless, but possesses, in the real sense, the power of speech as it ought to be in a living, existing being? Do they really believe that He is the All-Knowing, All-Wise, Ever-Existing, Ever-Lasting, Who can transmit His voice unto the hearts of such people who are pious, sincere and faithful? They do not; rather they look upon Him as a mere fanciful object having no existence whatsoever except in the imagination of the human intellect; and no voice, as in the case of a living speaking being, comes from that quarter, as if He is no God.
In short, human intellect; on account of its limitation and imperfection, cannot perform and accomplish any task with complete confidence and lastingness, until a sincere companion lends his helping hand; nor is it possible for human intellect, without the guidance of this companion to remain free and safe from error, particularly in the attainment of divine knowledge, the precise nature of whose truths is not of the substance of this world, nor any similarity of them is to be found on the face of this earth. In these mighty matters, human intellect cannot even guide to the high stage of divine knowledge and wisdom. Whatever is achieved with the help of bare intellect boils down to the ultimate point that the intellectual thinker, in his opinion which may be proper or improper, determines the need and necessity of a thing, but cannot prove whether the thing which has been adjudged to be so essential, has any external, physical existence also; and it is for this reason that his knowledge, having been based upon some imaginary need - of the external existence of which he has no proof - in his hand, will be considered as a mere conjecture without any foundation. From the side of perfect faith and belief, he will have nothing but utter disappointment and dismay.
It is also true that intellect is not without its use and good purpose. But how can we run away from the fact that, by means of intellect and thought only, we cannot acquire that great wealth of perfect belief and faith which can be achieved with the help of intellect-cum-revelation; nor can we be safe from fault, error and deviation, arrogance and self-assumption; and our own ideas, too, cannot rule over our passions like the mighty and majestic Divine Word; nor can our capricious conception and baseless whims give us that happiness and pleasure which the enrapturing Word of God vouchsafes. Shall we, then, follow in the footprints of the single individual intellect, and draw upon ourselves all the adversity and misfortune, and open the gates against us for the invasion of' many a misery?
No sensible man will ever be able to believe that He Who created a thirst for perfect knowledge and wisdom should so parsimoniously desist and deny to provide the cup of that knowledge, and He Who, of His own accord, drew the minds of men to Himself, should close so tightly the doors of true knowledge, confining all the sublime stages of God-consciousness to the narrow limit of fruitless reflection over imaginary needs. Has man been created so unfortunate in this world that he should have nothing but dismay in the achievement of that supreme satisfaction which his soul yearns for in the way of God-consciousness, and for the attainment of which an ardent zeal runs through his veins? Is there not a single soul who can understand this simple truth that the doors of divine knowledge, which can only be opened by God, can never be opened by any amount of human power and skill? The communication of knowledge by the Almighty, with regard to His own existence, is such that it exhibits Him to view, and places Him in sight, as it were; but not so the word of man based, as it is, on conjecture and nothing firm. Now, since the Divine .Word, which points to and proves His existence, cannot stand on equal footing with our intellectual inferences, why should not, then, for the perfection of faith, a need be ardently felt for His Word?
There should be no difficulty, therefore, in understanding that human intellect can never be an instrument or means to know the secrets of the Unseen. Is there any one who can deny that whatever is going to happen after death is all included in the unknown secrets of the Unseen? For instance, who knows with precision how life departs from the human body at the time of death? Where does it go to? Who attends upon it as a companion? Where is it lodged? In all these matters, how can human intellect pronounce a precise verdict?
A careful consideration of all these facts leads one to the conclusion that the nature in which God created man, required indispensably that man, who is ever liable to err, should not be left entirely to his; own imagination and opinion. The Merciful, therefore, raised for him Teachers, whose guidance could give him consolation and comfort, subduing his rebellious passions, and dispelling his spiritual distractions, and revealed unto him the Mighty Word which could remedy all his ailments. This proof of the need of revelation is not of a different stamp, but the divine law itself proves it. Is it not a fact that millions of men, who are afflicted with misery, transgression and apathy, are influenced and swayed by the words of others, and their own knowledge and thoughts do not always suffice? And, the more the veneration the deliverer of the discourse commands in the eyes of the listener, the more solacious is his speech; and the word of only that man who is, in the opinion of the listener, truthful and honest, and also possesses the power to fulfil and redeem his promise, can give satisfaction. Under these conditions, who can contend against the obvious and distinct truth that in matters relating to the next world, and those not subject to sense perception, the highest stage of mental satisfaction and solace, which dispels carnal passions and spiritual griefs, can be obtained by the Word of God exclusively? By casting a glance on the laws of nature also, no other thing except the Divine Word can be adjudged and proved as a better bestower of mental satisfaction and solace.
It will, therefore, be seen that those who have rejected revelation have adopted the ways of faithlessness and falsehood, and encouraged the spread of atheism in the world. These people think not how and in what manner can belief be induced in the Supreme Being, Who can neither be perceived, nor touched, nor smelt, if the sense of hearing, too, should be deprived and divested of His Word? And, if the sensible experience should produce a thought in the mind that there should be a Creator of all these things, will not the seeker-after-truth, when he will find that even after a sustained effort he has not been able to see that Creator with his own eyes, nor has ever been apprised of His communications, and never beheld, in a state of watchfulness and vigilance, arty sign in respect of Him be confined into doubts and fears? Will he not be tempted to think that his imagination has very likely erred somewhere in the fixation of such a Creator, and that the agnostic and the naturalist' may perhaps be on the right when they say that certain elements of this universe are the creators of others, and that there is, therefore, no need for any other creator?
We know it for certain that such a doubt will capture the mind of the worshipper of intellect when he will fly his thought further in this field. For, it is impossible that, having failed to find a divine sign, despite a strong and sincere effort on his part, he could remain safe and unaffected from these doubts and fears. The reason is obvious: It is human nature that, when he thinks that the existence of a thing is necessary, but finds no trace of it in the physical world, he begins to harbour doubt in respect of the correctness of his thought, which ultimately leads him to the perilous point of utter denial. It is man's daily experience that he exercises, again and again, his imagination with regard to some hidden matter, thinking that it should be like this or it should be like that; but when it actually comes to be disclosed, it turns out to be something quite different. From this everyday experience of life, man should learn the important lesson that it is indeed unwise to confide wholly in the imperfect human intellect, and be completely contented therewith.
It. is imperatively necessary that, just as God sees. hears and knows, in the same way, He speaks as well; and since the power of speech exists in Him; the benefit of this attribute must also be conferred on chosen persons from among the human race, for the simple reason that none of the attributes of God is divested of bountifulness and munificence, and He is, with all His attributes, the great source of all benevolence, and the great blessing for mankind. Is it something incomprehensible that man, who is ensnared in many a kind of carnal passions and driven every moment towards greediness and avidity, cannot by himself be the author of religious law, and that this sacred law can be issued by the Lord alone? Is there left any doubt whatsoever that in the matter of God-consciousness, intellect, all by itself, can never lead to the stage where God is? Is not in the human minds found a natural yearning to go beyond the limit of intellectual surmises in the search after the Creator? Does the soul of sincere seekers not feel extremely restless for such revelations which may confer on them complete satisfaction with regard to the existence of the Supreme Being, His promises, and the unseen World?
If some people, in spite of the self evidence of the need of divine revelation, still persist in their denial and call the Holy Book of God as man's forgery and fabrication, how it can be thought that they have some fear of the Almighty in their hearts? It is regrettable that many people, who call themselves wise, are seized with ignorance. There are, for instance among unbelievers, people who have made such a show of their wisdom that they have cut asunder and separated the eternal attribute of God from His person, calling Him speechless, and imperfect in power and beneficence. When such is the plight of these people, will not the one shorter in intellect amongst them denounce divine attributes altogether? For, if the Creator has no power of speech, how is one to know that He has power of seeing, hearing and knowing? What is the proof that other attributes exist in Him? And if the attribute of speech does exist in Him, but it has conferred no benefit on any human being, will not one be justified to conclude that the great Tree of Blessings, with all its branches which are perfect attributes, cast no shade over its creatures, and some of its branches are dead and dry which have never yielded any good to any human being?
It may be pointed out here that the worshippers of mere intellect are as deficient iii the matter of proper action, faithfulness and sincerity as they are in divine knowledge, wisdom and belief. They have not been able to produce any example to show, that they are also the chosen servants of God, like those holy personages who showered their blessings on the world so profusely that, by their excellent example and attention, prayer and precept, millions of people, becoming pure and godly, turned towards their Creator so vigorously that, setting aside this world with all its pleasures, power axed pelf, they walked resolutely on the path of Truth and Righteousness, for which many had to lose their lives. They displayed, in the face of all this tyranny and torture, firmness of faith and fortitude of such a high degree that, like a true and devoted lover, they smiled with fetters on their feet; they went into exile gladly for the sake of their unflinching love and loyalty to the Supreme Being, accepted willingly humiliation for honour, misery for comfort, poverty for pelf and endured all wrongs with patience and fortitude, setting with their blood the seal of confirmation on the existence of God. These chosen people existed not only in bygone ages, but they have invariably been found amongst the followers of the True Scripture all through the centuries.
If it is urged that the fault attributed above to the rational faculty of man is of those who make wrong use of it the argument would not be correct. Evidently, the rational faculty of man, in the abstract and in its entirety, is not something that operates, or can operate, in itself. It. functions only in individual cases, to the extent it does in the life and thought of individual persons. But, where is the man who would undertake to produce a human being, depending upon his rational faculty alone; who never made a mistake in his philosophy of life, in his beliefs and actions? Where is that human being who walked only in the light of his own rational faculty and yet managed to avoid pitfalls and mistakes in the domain of metaphysics and divinity? Where is the man who depended only on the rational faculty and yet managed to reach the point of the most perfect conviction in regard to the existence of the Creator of the universe, in regard to the matter of reward and punishment for human actions in the life Hereafter?
As already stated, the really learned thinkers and philosophers in every age have themselves freely conceded that, proceeding on the basis of his own observation .and experience alone, no human being can ever reach the stage of perfect and complete firmness of faith and conviction, where no possibility is left for any shade of doubt in the mind, the subject remaining only entangled in various inconclusive lines of conjecture and speculation. Evidently, so long as his knowledge and awareness remain subject to doubts and misgivings, uncertainties and groping speculations, falling short of complete conviction and firmness of faith, a human being cannot experience any real peace of mind, being always exposed to the danger of going astray, just as a blind man is always exposed to the danger of stepping off the path, and wandering miles off his course.
It is also wrong to assume that mistakes made by the rational faculty of man, in its earlier approaches to a problem, can be rectified by it on second or third revision. It has already been explained that, in the domain of metaphysics, the human mind is prone to make mistakes when it works by itself, unaided by any divine light. Therefore, the rectification of a mistake, which is unavoidable, is evidently not possible by means of a factor, which is not dependable, that will not always come into operation. The rectification which, in itself; is indispensable, can be made only by something which is stare and certain, which will not fail to come into operation whatever the conditions and circumstances.
As for the question why no proper realization of the Unity of God is at all possible except on the basis of revelation and why a man, who denies the truth of revelation cannot attain complete purity from various .kinds of involvements in idolatry, it answers itself in one's mind, the moment one grasps the precise nature and quality of a proper realization of the Unity of God. For, an adequate realization of this concept implies, in fact, that the Supreme Being should be taken to be absolutely unique and unrivalled in every way. It should be noted that before the power and might of the Lord, things which are not possible in any other way, become possible.
Evidently, those who deny the reality and possibility of divine revelation also hold the belief that various objects of nature possess powers and attributes which belong only to the Almighty; or they hold that it is possible for these divine powers to be found in some human beings. It is their idea, their belief, that the discovery that God exists stands to the credit of their own intelligence, so that even He is beholden to them, since human intelligence had suggested the imperative necessity of assuming His existence; and since, if it had not been for this development in human thought, He would have remained undiscovered, quite unknown. Is a belief of this kind less objectionable than the beliefs of idol-worshippers? Not in the least. If at all there is any difference between the two, it is that those who worship idols, or other objects of nature, consider these things to be the source of all kinds of blessings in their lives, while the latter leave aside the Creator and maintain that it is their reason that guides them to the right path.
All this clearly shows that denial of divine revelation not only entails this defect that those who do not believe in it remain infirm and shaky in their views in regard to the Supreme Being and His attributes, and, therefore, remain involved in many kinds of mistakes and serious errors, but they also remain devoid of the proper and adequate realization of the Unity of God, and involved in idolatry.
Even if it should be conceded that though a perfect awareness and comprehension is not possible without revelation it cannot be denied that some measure of comprehension is certainly attainable without aid from revelation; and this measure, in itself, is enough for the salvation of man; this objection is rooted in pure prejudice and bias. It has already been stated that a good end to the life of a person, in which he is not tormented by doubts and apprehensions, depends entirely on the perfection and strength of conviction in regard to the existence of God; also that this kind of faith is not attainable, except with help from revelation. Similarly, it is not possible for man to remain safe against the commitment of errors without a faith which comes only from perfect conviction; and this perfection of faith is not possible without divine revelation. Then how can human reason and intelligence suffice for the salvation of man?
Some people have assumed the Supreme Being to be so weak and helpless that He is deprived of all the strength and glory which belongs to Him. They hold that for man to obtain some trace of the existence of God is not due to the mercy of the Lord, but entirely a matter of chance, or a result of the endeavours of wise men. They explain that, in the beginning, when the human race came into existence, people were mere brutes, without intelligence, quite like the lower animals. God had not vouchsafed to them any awareness or knowledge in regard to His own Being; but that, gradually, as man began to rise in the scale of consciousness, he himself conceived the idea that he should appoint for himself a deity to be worshipped. He began by taking mountains, rivers, and other objects of nature as gods. Then he came to bow down before rains and storms. At the next stage, he took to the worship of the sun, the moon, and the stars, rising gradually, through these stages, to a realization of the need for faith in the existence of a Creator.
This process of the human mind, it would be seen on proper reflection, creates a swarm of doubts in regard to God being the Living One, Sustainer of the universe, with a conscious and deliberate purpose. It has to be assumed that He has vouchsafed no sign to man in regard to His existence as was proper for the Supreme Being Who really existed. Therefore, at times, the ignorant gave this position to water, sometime to trees of various kinds and sometimes to stones. Then, they assumed that these objects could not rightly be taken for deities; that the deity must be some other entity that remained invisible. Would not this belief throw man into a doubt, that if this assumed deity had really existed, like all other objects which truly exist, and demonstrate their being, it should have given some indication of its existence? The doubt would be especially strong in the case of a man who came to perceive it was not proper to assume that the deity was imperfect and faulty, deaf and dumb; that just as it was essential that the Supreme Being should be able to see and hear, it was also essential that He should have the power to speak.
At the next step, a man would begin to wonder that in case the Almighty possessed the power of communication, where was the proof that it was really so? And, further, if the power of speech did not belong to Him, He would have to be held a "defective" God; and if He were defective, how could He be God at all? Moreover, if it is permissible to believe that He was dumb, how was one to know that He was not deaf, and blind as well? The only way to steer clear of innumerable doubts of this kind is through belief in the validity of divine revelation. Otherwise, like so many philosophers and thinkers, who fell a prey to atheism, because they sought to solve these questions on the basis of their reasoning faculty, he also would come to fall in the same pit. It may be added here that it is impossible for true believers to sink into idolatry; the Supreme Being Himself having said that "Truth has come, and falsehood neither originates, nor reproduces" (34:49). Despite the passage of along period of time, and in spite of the many changes which come in the lives of people, owing to various factors, idolatrous views and practices have not been able to come back to the countries and climes from which they had been uprooted by Islam, and nothing has been able to replace the philosophy of life of which the pivot is belief in the Unity of God.
Every sensible person can see for himself that there is nothing in the world that can lead to good results, except when it has the advantage of help from its complement or counterpart. In the face of this clear evidence, who can dare claim that human reason and intelligence can produce anything good and beneficial? Is not this intelligence the same that has openly been disgraced on so many occasions? Has it not proved itself to be a liar, utterly unreliable, so easily prone to go astray? Indeed it has devoured many of its lovers and devotees, so that they had no chance to rise back to life. Following one's reason and intelligence, what new truths has one discovered in the field of religion which were not already embodied in the Holy Scripture?
In the face of all these facts and arguments, no one can possibly deny the need of divine revelation and hold that the prophets were only selfish people. One should not be misled by the idea that human reason is good. It is true that all our study is conducted with reason and logic, true also that this faculty in man is beneficial. But, its real merit comes to the surface only when it functions in the light of revelation. Bereft of this light, reason is more deceitful for man than even his worst enemy. This divine law is such that everything serves its purpose best only when it works in union with its complement or counterpart. We see only when the light of the sun is there to help our eyes; we hear only when the air is there to carry the vibrations made by sound to our ears: These are facts which should not be beyond anybody's grasp.
Therefore, to picture the Hereafter on the basis of this material world is a glaring blunder. The Creator has not made this universe so that man should always remain in it happy and satisfied nor has He made it that he should always be in distress - happiness and suffering are both passing phases; both finally come to an end. But, the Hereafter is a world of eternal joy and peace, or of suffering and punishment. From fear of this punishment, every far-seeing individual strives to live in obedience and surrender to the Lord. He forsakes luxury and comfort; he accepts rigours and hardships. It is up to people to see whether it is not a case of clear loss if life in the eternal Hereafter comes to be placed on the same level with life in the transitory, material world.
It may be added that death, in the light of the teachings of the Quran, is not the end of man's life; it only opens the door to another, a higher form of life: "See you that which you emit? Is it you that create it or are We the Creator? We have ordained death among you and We are not to be overcome, that We may change your state and make you grow into what you know not" (55:58-61).
Just as front the small life-germ grows Man who does not lose his individuality for all the changes which he undergoes, so from this man is made the higher man, his attributes being changed and he himself being made to grow into what he cannot conceive at present. That this new life is of a higher form is also made plain: "See how We have made some of them to excel others. And certainly the Hereafter is greater in degrees and greater in excellence" (17:21).
The Quran, therefore, accords to faith in the future life an importance which is next only to faith in God. The greater the faith in the good or bad consequences of a deed, the greater is the incentive which urges a mars to, or withholds him from, that deed. But more than this, such a belief purifies the motives with which a deed is done. It makes a man work with the most selfless of motives, for he seeks no reward for what he does; his work is far higher and ends nobler, relating to the life beyond the grave.
And again: "Set thy face for religion, being upright, the nature made by Allah in which He has created men. There is no altering Allah's creation" (30:30). [See also 51:55.]
It should be noted that what follows from these verses is that the seed of a natural tendency towards God and a realization, in some measure, of His Unity, has been planted in the human mind. It does not follow that this seed, in every mind, is of an equal degree and force. In fact, it is repeatedly said in the Quran that this seed, in its quality and strength, differs from one individual to another. In some people, the difference is small; in others middling; while in some other beings it is quit distinct: "We have given the Book as inheritance to those whom We have chosen from. among- Our servants: so of them is he who wrongs himself, and of them is he who takes a middle course, and of them is he who is foremost in deeds of goodness by Allah's permission" (35:32).
In short, although the Supreme Being has said the tendency to march in the direction of a proper realization of His Unity is basically in the human mind, He has repeatedly made clear that, in its quality and strength, this tendency varies widely from one person to another. In some cases, the carnal and worldly desires become so strong that this tendency is practically choked out of existence. We have, therefore, to concede that the fact of some animal instincts and behaviour, being a natural quality of the human mind, does not exclude the presence in human beings of a natural tendency in the direction of a proper realization of the Unity of God. No matter how exceedingly man may lie helpless in the hands of his brutal instincts, some feeble ray of divine light is always lurking in his nature. For example, a man commits theft or murder or- adultery; then, although he has been impelled by his natural propensity to do it, yet the heavenly light, which has been ingrained into his nature, reproaches and reproves him oil the commission of any such sinful deed.
Therefore, the Benefactor has conferred upon every human being a kind of revelation, called the "inner light", which discriminates between good and bad. When a man does a bad action, God at once puts it into his mind that he had acted in a bad way. But he pays no heed to this admonition, for his inner light (or conscience) is dim, and his intellect weak, and his sensual desires strong and predominant. Human natures of this sort - the existence whereof has been proved by daily observation - are also found in this world. The turmoil of their passions, which is a natural trait with them, diminishes not. A remedy, however, has been prescribed by Him. It is repentance, regret and remorse. When people commit sinful deeds, impelled by natural inclination, or an evil thought which crosses their minds, and they seek to remedy it by means of repentance, regret and remorse, the Merciful grants His pardon and forgiveness for that sin. This is atonement in its true sense, which expiates for the sin ingrained in human nature. The same statement is found in the Holy Quran: "O you who believe, turn to Allah with sincere repentance. It may be your Lord will remove from you your evil and cause you to enter Gardens wherein flow rivers, on the day on which Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will gleam before them and on their right hands - they will say: Our Lord, make perfect for us our light and grant us protection; surely Thou art Possessor of power over all things" (66:8). [See also 39:53.]
These verses, full of knowledge and wisdom, signify that moral transgression is a distinctive trait of imperfect and weak souls, whereas forgiveness is the everlasting and eternal quality of the Divine Being, Who is Merciful and Compassionate. His forgiveness is not a mere matter of accident, or a casual happening, but it is His everlasting and eternal attribute, the benefit of which He likes to confer on every deserving soul.