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Questions about Salvation in Islam and Women and Equality


On 24th February 1990 Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Khalifatul Masih IV (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) gave an address at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This address has since been published as a book entitled Islam's Response to Contemporary Issues. After the address the audience was invited to ask any questions they wished. Presented below are some of the questions that were raised in this session and answers given by Hudhur.

Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad.


QUESTIONER :

In the speech it was stated that salvation cannot be monopolised. Why then does God say in the Holy Qur'an that "to God religion is Islam"?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad

This is a very important aspect of what I have already explained to you. Islam, according to the Holy Qur'an, is an epithet or a description that is applicable not only to the religion known as Islam but also to all the religions of the world at their source. 'Islam' means submission and total submission {to the Will of God}. According to Islam itself every religion of the world was based on 'Islam'. Furthermore, the faith of Abraham is also referred to as 'Islam'. This is one reason why you feel that there is an apparent contradiction in these two statements.

Another reason is that, according to Islam, salvation depends on the truth of a person more than on what he believes. If he believes in something to be true with all his sincerity and honesty and there is no contradiction in him regarding his belief and his action then he would not be held responsible for his errors of judgement. This is the fundamental philosophy of Islamic teaching. At the same time, however, the Holy Qur'an declares in other places that Islam is the final religion. For instance Chapter 5 verse 4 of the Holy Qur'an states:

This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My Favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. (Al-Maidah, 5:4)

That is, 'We have perfected for mankind a religion that has become universal'. Hence, for universal man this religion is needed - man stands in need of this religion. However, if he has not heard of it, at least not convincingly, then if he sticks to his own beliefs in all honesty and sincerity, the message is he should not be afraid of God Who is Just and Kind.

QUESTIONER :

You quote the Qur'an as stating that women are equal to men in all regards. But as far as the vast majority of the Muslim world is concerned, women are definitely not credited as such. Obviously, although pure in statement, the teachings of Islam are not interpreted as such by mankind. What are your views on this since this is not an issue that is readily accepted by many Muslim men?

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad :

This is again a very important issue. What I did say was not that they are equal but that they had equal rights in proportion to the rights of men upon them. This is exactly the statement of the Holy Qur'an. However, at the same time, if you read on in the verse, you will find that the Holy Qur'an declares this, despite the fact that men have an advantage over women in some ways.

For instance, and this is mentioned in other places in the Holy Qur'an, that men are created stronger and more powerful. Furthermore, men have the advantage of not being responsible for reproduction in the sense that they do not have to carry human babies in their bellies for nine months and to look after them. Such differences do exist. Equality, however, is not in totality of constitution. Equality is only in relative terms of rights. Hence, Islam knows no difference between a man's right and a woman's right. However, they would, of course, be related to their constitution as well. God only knows how He has created mankind so wherever you discover any difference in teaching you will always find it without fail, without exception, in that the difference is directly related to the constitutional differences, not otherwise.

Turning to the other part of the question and the statement that the world of Islam is not acting upon Islamic teachings, as I have already explained, this is the case in respect of all religions of the world. Where are the countries in which the religions of those countries are practiced in all honesty and sincerity and good understanding? Religion is flying on a higher plane which is revving and making noises but it has not been connected up with the 'veins' of human action. A revving engine can only play on one's nerves but cannot help one move along. This, unfortunately, is the situation of religion everywhere in the world.