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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Mujaddid-i a‘zam, Volume 3

1. The Background
2. Religion and philosophy clash again
3. The arrival of the much-awaited Mujaddid
4. The basis of Hazrat Mirza Sahibís religious philosophy


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4. The basis of Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s religious philosophy

When we take a look at Hazrat Mirza Sahib's books and other literature, it becomes quite clear that he did not go to extremes like the Mu'tazilites or the Hanbalites and that although he took the moderate course like the schools of al-Ash'ari and al-Maturidi, yet he did not strictly follow any one of them. Like Hazrat Imam Ghazali he wanted to use the Western philosophy to serve the cause of Islam and like Shah Waliullah he strove in every way to make the truth of Islam manifest. However, the style Hazrat Mirza Sahib adopted was quite unique.

Hazrat Imam Ghazali made use of Greek philosophy to serve religion but the logic and arguments he presented had their roots in the same philosophy. Likewise, throughout the history of Islam the religious philosophers have based their work on the accepted philosophy of that period. But Hazrat Mirza Sahib's deep insight enabled him to grasp the fact that a philosophy or teaching based on worldly knowledge is similar to the Quranic verse which states, "...he who lays his foundation on the edge of a cracking, hollowed bank..." (9:109) which means that its foundation is laid on unsteady, hollow ground which can collapse at any moment. Because when times change and the ideas of people undergo changes they are bound to reject and ridicule things which they had erstwhile accepted and found logical. Take a look at the fate of the Greek philosophy, every principle of which was considered more reliable than Divine revelation; today, the same ideas appear childish and obsolete and are considered no more than a play on words. The same goes for Western philosophy. The ideas which were firmly established forty or fifty years ago have now evaporated like dust.

When the materialists of Europe declared matter to be infinite in origin and existence, Muslim leaders and ulema like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Maulana Shibli silently bowed their heads before them. Their inferiority complex did not allow them to summon the courage to challenge this theory. They were most impressed by the new philosophy. But had they been alive today they would have witnessed the same materialists proving to themselves and to the world that matter is not infinite in origin. It is made up of charged particles which were created from the nebulas which, in turn, are the products of the dark rays of ether. When they studied the rays of ether they learnt that they have no material presence; their existence is only mathematical; they have no real existence. So all that is left is energy. It is as if it is nothing other than a manifestation of the power of some All Powerful Being. In reality it is nothing.

In other words, a power has created 'something' from 'nothing' and that 'something' is called energy. We can get an idea of the magnitude of this energy by the fact that is we could somehow capture all the energy contained in a drop of water, it would be sufficient to drive a large ship around the world eight times. But we do not yet have control over this energy and neither is it likely for man to be granted such Divine powers. Allama Shibli, while supporting the Mu'tazilites and opposing the arguments of Imam Ghazali on the creation of matter, writes with great confidence that "we never see 'something' reduced to 'nothing' ". But had he witnessed the destruction of matter when radium gives off radiation he would have had to take his words back.

Here I cannot refrain from pointing out that the Mu'tazilites are quick to mock the Hanbalites and Mushabba Zahria for believing that God has hands, eyes and ears as if He was a human being like us, although the Hanbalites counter it by saying that this is only a speculation which is in accordance with our limited capabilities, we do not know of the real condition of God. All the same, the Mu'tazilites ridicule them for entertaining such ideas. But when it comes to the knowledge and powers of God, the same Mu'tazilites evaluate them by comparing them with human faculties. In their opinion, if humans cannot produce matter out of nothing, or if we lack the power to annihilate matter, then it means that God is also unable to create or destroy matter. Isn't this the same concept as that of the Mushabba Zaharia? If they envisage God as possessing hands, ears and eyes, though of a kind not comprehended by us, they are stupid because then we will have to believe that He also possesses a body and is restricted by it; notwithstanding that they say that the reality of God is known to Him alone and they believe that His ears, eyes etc. have unlimited powers. The Mu'tazilites restrict the powers and abilities of God because the powers of humans are restricted. So they envisage God with the help of human faculties and on top of it all, they consider themselves very knowledgeable and wise. Man cannot create matter out of nothing, so God is also unable to do so. Logically this implies that God possesses no more power or knowledge than any ordinary human being. This is why there are some Mu'tazilites who even believe that God does not have any detailed knowledge of His creation. So in this way they reduce God to the level of a limited, restricted being and strip him of His Divine qualities. And instead of realizing their fallacies they laugh at the poor Hanbalites!

There are quite a few examples of the unjust attitude of the Mu'tazilites. In the time of the Caliph Ma'mun ar-Rashid the Mu'tazilites tried to prove that the Quran is a creation of God and the strongest argument that they put forward was that in the Holy Quran Allah says:

“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He has charge over everything.” (39: 61)

So how can the Quran be left out. Actually the Quran should not be counted among other creations because it is the word of Allah, the word of the Uncreated Being. However, here I am not discussing this issue. What I want to say is this that when the Mu'tazilites felt compelled to count the Quran as a creation according to the verse which states that Allah is the Creator of everything, then why do they forget the same fact when it comes to accepting matter as God's creation? The real reason behind it is that they are not faced by some lowly religious scholar but philosophers like Aristotle and Plato who have overawed their hearts. If matter is a 'thing' then why is not God, who is the Creator of everything, its creator as well?

At this juncture these advocates of logic and reason present two infantile suggestions:

1. The first is that the issue of whether of matter exists from eternity or was created is not an issue in Islam. Now this view is incorrect. If matter is not a creation and it is eternal and infinitely existing like God then it is another God, and such an idea is against Tauheed (Oneness of God). In fact it is an atheistic idea because if matter is eternal then its properties must be eternal as well and there is no need of a God just to change the form of matter. Even if there is such a God, we do not have to accept His superiority because when two things exist of old together, one possesses no right to forcibly rule over the other. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“O men, serve your Lord Who created you and those before you, so that you may guard against evil.” (2:21)

This means that man is obliged to worship his Lord because He is his Creator. If He is not the Creator and we derive neither benefit nor harm from Him then why should we be forced to worship Him?

The truth is that materialism and atheism are a result of the idea that matter exists from eternity and it is this idea which has deprived the world of true spirituality and the knowledge and love of its Creator.

2. The second proposition that these people put forward as a childish reassurance is that matter and God are both eternal and infinite yet one is the cause and the other is the effect. Their relation to one another is likened to the turning of a key opening a lock. The turning and the opening take place simultaneously yet one is the cause and the other is the effect.

What a splendid example this is of the deceptions of philosophy. Let us solve this problem without getting caught in the tangled web of words. The actual question is whether God is the Creator of matter or not? Did He create matter out of nothing, whether at once or gradually, or did He not? If He did not, because He is unable to create something out of nothing, then what is the point of giving this example? Here we are not debating whether there is a time interval between an action of God and the appearance of its effect. Had we been doing so, the issue could have been clarified by the example of the lock and key. The question here is, Can God produce matter out of nothing, or can He not? If not and if He is dependent on matter and souls, then the example is quoted just to complicate matters.

In brief, rapid developments in the field of science bring about so many changes in philosophy that it would be wrong to lay the basis of a religious thought on it. In Hazrat Mirza Sahib's days the material philosophy not only declared matter as eternal but placed time and space in the same category too. Today, just as the eternity of matter has been disproved, similarly the very existence of time and space has been denied. The theory of the famous scientist Einstein, which has now gained worldwide acceptance, says that time and space are not anything material. They are neither matter nor energy but merely parameters to indicate the dimensions of objects which are limited in time and space. Just as the parameters of a body, namely, length, breadth and height, are accepted by everyone, the fourth parameter describing the limitations of a body is that of time. Thus time and space are the parameters which indicate the limits of bodies. They are nothing by themselves.

Pandit Dayanand, founder of the Arya Samaj, stretched the basic beliefs of his religion to rest them on the infinite existence of matter, souls, time and space. Today these theories have been proved wrong and that foundation has collapsed. The Arya Samaj can now rebuild that spider's web by bringing out some other strand of the web, as all the old strands have been swept away! The true religion cannot exist by the support of such webs.

Hazrat Mirza Sahib did not know English nor did he study the latest books on modern philosophy and science. He lived in a remote village, like a recluse devoted to the worship of Allah. Even then Allah, Who is the All-Knowing and the Wise, granted him the knowledge that it is a grave folly to lay the foundation of religion on the current philosophy and science. He openly announced that the Quran is the perfect and complete book. When it makes a claim, it supports it by logical arguments. Such a book which, looks to its followers to produce arguments in support of its claims, cannot be called a complete and perfect book. The Holy Quran says:

"The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men (all the people of the world) and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion (between tryth and falsehood..." (2:185).

Thus the Quran is not only a universal source of guidance but it also gives logical and convincing arguments in its favour. Moreover, it establishes the validity of its own truthfulness and proves the falsehood of the teachings of other religions which are opposed to the teachings of the Holy Quran. It thus distinguishes between right and wrong. So the Quran is not dependent upon the philosophy of any Tom, Dick or Harry; it has its own religious philosophy.

In this way Hazrat Mirza Sahib said that the religious thought he presented is actually the philosophical outlook of the Quran. A philosophy is acceptable as long as it agrees with the outlook of the Quran, but where it goes against the Quran, it is wrong, whether it is Plato's or Aristotle's, European or American. This was not just a claim of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, it was the principle behind his practice throughout his life. Whenever he sat down to write on an important topic he would read the Quran from beginning to end to see what it said about that particular topic and what arguments it presented. He would note down all the verses relevant to the subject, and then he would write the article after that. This is the style seen in all his writings. His first and momentous book Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya is based entirely on the philosophy contained in the Quran.

In Amritsar in 1893, Hazrat Mirza Sahib faced Deputy Abdullah Atham in a famous religious debate between Islam and Christianity whose proceedings were later published in a book called Jang-i-Muqaddas. In this debate he challenged his opponent to prove his holy book to be a perfect and complete book by producing arguments in support of its claims from the same. A holy book should not look to its followers to provide the evidence. The holy book should also be able to bring forward arguments to refute the claims made against it by other religions. Hazrat Mirza Sahib said that he would take care to produce logical arguments and proof to support the pure principles of Islam only from the Holy Quran and completely refute Christianity and its distorted principles also, from the Holy Quran. So if the Bible is a perfect book then his opponent should be able to show from it support for all the Christian beliefs and also refutation of the Islamic beliefs by solid arguments. Jang-i-Muqaddas is still available and anyone can consult it for further details. Hazrat Mirza Sahib took care to give arguments from the Holy Quran throughout the debate, but Deputy Abdullah Atham could not confine his reasoning to the Bible at any point. Thus, this was a great victory of the Holy Quran, unparalleled in history.

In December 1896, a great Conference was held in Lahore in which all the religions of that time participated enthusiastically. Papers were presented in asnwer to the following five questions, which encompass the entire philosophy of religion:

1. What are the physical, moral and spiritual states of man?

2. What becomes of man after this life?

3. What is the real object of man's life and how can it be attained?

4. What are the effects of actions in this world and in the hereafter?

5. What are the sources of Divine knowledge?

Every participant was required to answer these questions by means only of his Holy Book. But apart from Hazrat Mirza Sahib not a single person was able to abide by this rule. The representatives of various religions gave whatever answers they could muster up, but these were firstly incomplete and unsatisfacory, and secondly they did not refer to their Holy Books at all. All they presented was a product of their minds.

On the other hand Hazrat Mirza Sahib gave all the answers out of the Holy Quran and whatever arguments he put forward were all based on the Quran. The asnwers were so comprehensive and satisfying that Muslims and non-Muslims, friends and foes alike, were compelled to say that only Hazrat Mirza Sahib's lecture had fulfilled the purpose of the meeting. The English language newspapers were of the same view. So this remained Hazrat Mirza Sahib's technique in regard to his religious philosophy throughout his life and he guided his pupils to the same way.