Sirajuddin, a Christian gentleman from Lahore, has sent me four questions requesting me to give their answers. I have prepared these answers and thought it proper to have them published for the benefit of the public at large. The following is my response to the four questions.
According to Christian belief, Jesus’ mission in this world was to show his love for mankind and to sacrifice his life for their sake. Can the mission of the Founder of Islam be said to possess both these qualities, or can it be described in better terms than ‘love’ and ‘sacrifice’?
Let it be clear that by asking this question the gentleman actually wants to know whether, for the salvation of sinners, the Holy Quran also suggests an ‘accursed sacrifice’ similar to the Christian doctrine that Jesus came to love sinners, to take upon himself the curse of their sins, and to die for them; or does the Holy Quran offer mankind a better means of attaining salvation?
In answer to this question, Mr. Sirajuddin should know that the Holy Quran never teaches the concept of an accursed sacrifice, nor does it consider it lawful for the sin or curse of one person to be transferred to another, let alone that the curses of hundreds of millions of people should be foisted on one man. The Holy Quran clearly says:
i.e., No one will bear the burden of another.
Before I go on to present the Quranic teachings in relation to salvation, I find it necessary to expose the falsity of this Christian doctrine so that anyone who wishes to compare the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Gospel regarding salvation may easily do so.
Let it be clear that the Christian doctrine that God, out of His love for the world and in order to bring salvation to mankind, transferred the sins of disobedient, disbelieving and wicked people to His beloved son Jesus and made him accursed and caused him to be hanged on the cursed cross to deliver the world from sin, is completely wrong and shameful from whatever aspect one may look at it. If weighed on the scales of justice, the act of imputing the sin of one man to another is unjust and human conscience can never accept that a criminal should be allowed to go free while an innocent person is punished for his crimes. This doctrine is again falsified when we consider the reality of sin from the viewpoint of spiritual philosophy. The fact is that sin is a poison that is born when man does not obey God, does not love Him fervently and does not remember Him with love. A person whose heart has become estranged from God’s love is like a tree which, having been uprooted from the soil and, therefore, being unable to absorb water, withers with each passing day and soon loses all its verdure. Sin devastates man just as dryness kills a tree. Divine law has prescribed three remedies for this condition: Firstly, love; Secondly, Istighfar i.e., the desire not to expose something. As long as a tree’s roots remained covered by the earth, it has every chance of remaining green; Thirdly, repentance, i.e., turning to God in all humility to absorb the water of life, to attain nearness to Him and to be released from the darkness of sin through righteous deeds. Verbal repentance is not enough; true repentance must be accompanied by good deeds which bring one nearer to God. Prayer, too, is a form of repentance because through it we seek nearness to God. This is why when God breathed life into man He called it Ruh,3 for his true happiness and peace lies in acknowledging and loving God and submitting to Him. He has also called it Nafs4 for it seeks union with God. He who loves God is like a tree firmly rooted in the soil. This is man’s ultimate bliss. Just as a tree sucks and absorbs water from the earth, and expels harmful substances through it, when a person’s heart is nourished by the water of Divine love, it is easily able to get rid of all poisonous influences. Having immersed itself in God it continues to receive pure nourishment that causes it to grow and flourish and bear good fruit. But those who do not have their roots in God cannot absorb this nourishing water. They become drier with every passing moment and all their leaves fall off leaving behind bare and unsightly branches. Since the aridity of sin results from estrangement, the obvious remedy is the establishment of a firm relationship with God, as the law of nature itself testifies. Referring to this, God, the Glorious, says:
i.e., O soul that is at peace with God! Return to thy Lord. He is well-pleased with thee and thou are well-pleased with Him. So enter thou among My chosen servants, and enter thou My garden.
Ardent and passionate love for God is, therefore, the only effective remedy for getting rid of sin. Acts of piety that result from this love help to extinguish the fire of sin, because when man performs good deeds for the sake of God he thereby testifies to his love for Him. The first stage of love, which can be likened to a tree that has been planted in the earth, is to have such faith in God that one values Him above everything else, even above one’s own life. The second stage, which can be compared to a tree that has firmly taken root in the soil, is Istighfar6, whereby man is afraid that separation from God will expose his human failings. The third stage, which resembles a tree that brings its roots close to water and sucks it like an infant, is that of Repentance. The philosophy of sin is that it results from one’s estrangement from God and, therefore, can only be avoided by establishing a relationship with Him. Ignorant indeed are those who declare another man’s suicide to be the remedy for their sins.
The notion that someone would hit his own head in order to relieve the headache of another, or commit suicide to save someone else’s life, is extremely ridiculous. No sane person can consider such a suicide to be an act of compassion. There is no doubt that human compassion is worthy of praise and only valiant people endure suffering to save others, but could there be no other means of alleviating suffering except through the method ascribed to Jesus? If Jesus had not committed suicide and had instead suffered for the sake of others in a reasonable manner, the world would surely have benefited from him. For instance, if a builder were to take pity on a poor man who needed a house but could not afford to build one, and was to build a house for him without charging any money for his many days of hard labour, he would certainly have done that man a great favour and would merit much praise. But if he had merely struck his own head with a stone as a show of sympathy, would this have benefited the poor man in any way? Unfortunately, very few people in the world exercise virtue and mercy in a sensible manner. If it is indeed true that Jesus committed suicide, thinking that he would bring salvation to the people, his condition is truly pitiable, and such a notion should have been concealed rather than propagated.
Analyzing this Christian doctrine in the context of the curse that has been ascribed to the Messiah, we regret to say that the Christians have blasphemed against him as no other people have ever done with regard to their Prophet or Messenger. The concept that Jesus was accursed — even if for only three days — is part of the Christian doctrine which affirms that redemption and the accursed sacrifice would not be possible without declaring that Jesus was accursed. In other words, the whole structure of this doctrine rests on the pillar of ‘the curse’.
According to the Christians, the mere belief that Jesus was sent to the world to love mankind and sacrifice himself for their sake cannot benefit anyone unless they also believe that Jesus first became accursed and was hanged on the accursed cross on account of people’s sins. That is why I have already pointed out that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is an accursed sacrifice, and that the Crucifixion resulted from ‘the curse’ that was born of sin. This raises the question whether a righteous person can ever be accursed. Clearly, the Christians have made a grave mistake by accepting that Jesus was accursed — be it for three days or even less — for ‘curse’ is related to the state of a man’s heart. A man is called accursed when his heart is totally estranged from God and he has become His enemy. This is why Satan is also called ‘the Accursed’. Everyone knows that being accursed means being denied nearness to God and that the term is used for those whose hearts cease to love and obey God and who become His enemy. These are the meanings of ‘curse’ which all lexicographers are agreed upon. If Jesus Christ had indeed become accursed, it would necessarily follow that he also became the object of Divine wrath, his heart became devoid of Divine cognition, and he ceased to love and obey Him. We would also have to accept that, in keeping with the meaning of the word ‘accursed’, God became his enemy and he of God, and God became weary of him and he became weary of God. Thus the unavoidable conclusion would be that as long as he remained accursed he actually turned into an infidel, became God’s enemy and assumed satanic characteristics. Holding such a belief about Jesus amounts to accepting that he was the brother of Satan — God forbid. I believe that, with the exception of those who are evil by nature, no person who has any fear of God in his heart would ever dare to be so disrespectful about a righteous Prophet.
Once we have rejected the notion that Jesus’ heart actually became accursed, we also have to admit that the doctrine of the accursed sacrifice is false and nothing more than a creation of ignorant people. Cursed indeed is a salvation that cannot be attained without declaring Jesus to be Satan, i.e., estranged from God and weary of Him. It would have been better for the Christians to have chosen hell for themselves rather than to label a beloved of God as Satan. How unfortunate that these people put their faith in such an unholy and absurd doctrine! They consider Jesus to be the son of God and one with Him, but at the same time give him the name of Satan! Since ‘Accursed’ is the name given to Satan and those begotten of him and one with him, it, therefore, follows that, according to the Christian doctrine, Jesus is possessed of two kinds of Trinity: one godly and the other satanic, and that — God forbid — Jesus became one with Satan. This implies that he disobeyed God, was estranged from Him and became His enemy.
Now, will Mr. Sirajuddin please tell us whether this mission ascribed to the Messiah possesses any rational or spiritual merit? Could there be a worse belief in the world than that, for the sake of attaining salvation, a righteous person should be declared an enemy of God, disobedient to Him and possessing a satanic character? Why would God — the Almighty, the Gracious and the Merciful — have to resort to an accursed sacrifice of this sort?
The falsity of this doctrine is further exposed when it is asked whether or not the Jews were also taught to believe in such an accursed sacrifice. Obviously, if God had no other means of bringing salvation to mankind — except that He should have a son who should take upon himself the curse of all sinners and be put on the cross as an accursed sacrifice — then there is no reason why it should not have been mentioned in the Torah and the other Jewish scriptures. No sane person can ever accept that the eternal law of God, which He has prescribed for the salvation of mankind, should keep on changing and that different laws should operate at different times: one in the time of the Torah, a second in the time of the Gospel, a third during the time of the Holy Quran, and yet other laws in the times of other Prophets who appeared in different parts of the world.
After much analysis, we can conclude that neither the Torah nor any other book of the Jews teaches this kind of accursed sacrifice. I recently wrote letters to some prominent Jewish scholars asking them to state under oath what their Torah and other scriptures teach them about salvation. Have they been taught to believe in the redemption of mankind through the sacrifice of God’s son, or have they been taught something else? They replied that, as far as salvation is concerned, the teaching of the Torah is in full accord with that of the Quran which teaches that turning towards God with all sincerity, seeking forgiveness for one’s sins, doing good deeds, refraining from carnal passions with a view to pleasing God, observing Divine prohibitions and injunctions and following Divine precepts and commandments in letter and spirit are the only means to salvation. Departure from these teachings, which have been repeatedly mentioned in the Torah and stressed by God’s holy Prophets, has brought punishment on many. These Jewish scholars did not only send me detailed letters but also presented me with a number of rare and excellent books written by their scholars on this subject. I still possess these letters and books; anyone who wishes to see them is welcome to do so. I hope to incorporate all these arguments in a separate book.
Every sensible person should reflect with fairness and justice that if God Almighty had indeed pronounced Jesus Christ to be His son and had transferred the curse of others to him, and had pronounced this accursed sacrifice to be the means of man’s salvation, and this was the teaching that had also been given to the Jews, why have they concealed it to this day and why do they oppose it so vehemently? This objection is further strengthened when we find that there was a long line of Prophets who came to revive the Jewish teachings, and Moses himself conveyed it to hundreds of thousands of people. How then did the Jews forget a teaching that was communicated to them by such a continuous line of Prophets, particularly when they had been instructed to inscribe these Divine commandments on their gates, doorposts and shirt sleeves, and teach them to their children, and memorize them? This is totally inconceivable. Can anyone who has a pure conscience assert that, despite these warnings, all the Jewish sects forgot the beautiful teachings of the Torah on which their very salvation depended? The Jews have always maintained that the principles of salvation laid down in the Torah are the same as those prescribed by the Quran. They testified to this when the Holy Quran was being revealed and continue to do so to this day. The letters and books that I have received from them reiterate the same thing. Had the Jews been taught the concept of an accursed sacrifice for the attainment of salvation, there was no reason why they should have kept it a secret. They might, of course, have contended that Jesus was not the son of God, his crucifixion was not the crucifixion of God’s true son, rather the son who was to bring true salvation would appear at a later time; but it was impossible for all the Jewish sects to deny the basic teaching that was written in their books and had been reiterated by God’s holy Messengers. Jewish people still exist, as do their scholars and books, therefore, anyone who is in doubt can ask them directly. A seeker after truth would surely require the testimony of the Jews in this matter, for they are the primary witnesses and have been memorizing the Torah for hundreds of years. It surely does not behove righteous people to entertain absurd and irrational beliefs such as considering a humble human to be God without the testimony of the earlier law and it’s followers, or the testimony of reason, and to consider him to be from God and from Satan at the same time.
This doctrine appears even more untenable when viewed from yet another angle, i.e., what benefit has this accursed sacrifice brought to those who believe in it and thus oppose the eternal teaching of the Torah, place one man’s sins upon another, and condemn a pure and pious person as being accursed, alienated from God and a friend of Satan? Has this prevented them from committing sin, or have all their sins been forgiven? Their abstinence from sin and attainment of true purity is obviously inconsistent with the facts. According to the Christians’ own belief, David also believed in the Atonement of Christ. But they further assert that thereafter he murdered an innocent person in order to commit adultery with his wife, mis-appropriated the state treasury for the satisfaction of his own selfish desires, married as many as one hundred women and continued to commit sin everyday until the end of his life with blatant disregard [for Divine commandments] — God forbid. If Jesus’ accursed sacrifice had been able to stop people from sin, then, according to their assertion, David would not have sunk so deep in sin and transgression. Three of Jesus’ ancestral maternal grandmothers are also said to have been guilty of adultery, and it is obvious that if belief in the accursed sacrifice of Jesus had anything to do with brining about inner purity, they at least would not have been guilty of such shameful sins. Jesus’ disciples also committed shameful acts of sin after they had believed in him. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Peter cursed him to his face three times, and the others forsook him. Cursing a Prophet is obviously a mortal sin.
If we look at our own age, the evils of alcoholism and illicit sex currently sweeping Europe need no comment. In an earlier book, I have already quoted from European newspapers instances of eminent clergymen who were found guilty of adulterous behaviour. All this shows that the accursed sacrifice has failed to stop them from sin.
If sin cannot be prevented through this accursed sacrifice, is it right to believe that all their sins have been forgiven? In other words, if a sinner sheds innocent blood, commits theft, harms other people’s property, life and honour by giving false testimony, and appropriates someone’s wealth through embezzlement, can he still escape Divine chastisement by simply affirming his faith in an accursed sacrifice and will he be free to usurp people’s rights and to permanently lead a life of adultery? This obviously cannot be so, for it would be the way of evildoers to commit sin and seek refuge in an accursed sacrifice.
It seems that Paul, too, had some misgivings about the truth of this doctrine. That is why he said that Jesus had sacrificed his life only for the first sin and he cannot be crucified again. But here again he invited trouble for himself, for if it is true that Jesus made the accursed sacrifice only for a man’s first sin, would Prophet David, for instance, not deserve eternal damnation — God forbid — because, according to the Christians, he committed adultery with the wife of Uriah and then kept her in his house all his life without Divine permission. This woman also happens to be the holy grandmother of Jesus from the side of his mother Mary. David also kept as many as a hundred wives which is unlawful according to the Christian doctrine. Hence this sin was not his first, for it was committed again and again throughout his life.
Since this accursed sacrifice cannot prevent sin, ordinary Christians, too, must have always committed sin as they do today, and since none of their subsequent sins are pardonable according to the Pauline doctrine, they will surely be punished with everlasting hell and not one of them will deserve to be delivered from it. Mr. Sirajuddin need not look further than his own self. At first he believed that the Son of Mary was the son of God and received baptism in the name of ‘the accursed sacrifice’, but when he came to Qadian he once again became a Muslim and confessed that he had been hasty in receiving his baptism. He continued to pray in the Islamic manner and repeatedly told me that the absurdity of the Atonement had fully dawned on him and he considered this doctrine to be false. But when he went back from Qadian, he was ensnared by Christian missionaries and became a Christian once more. Mr. Sirajuddin should now understand that when he forsook the Christian faith in word and deed after his baptism, he was guilty of a second sin from the Christian perspective and, according to the teachings of Saint Paul, this sin will not be forgiven for it would require another Crucifixion. And if it is said that Paul was mistaken, or that he lied, and that sin in fact ceases to be sin after belief in the ‘accursed sacrifice’, and that even if one were to steal, fornicate, murder, lie, betray, etc., he would not be called to account for it, the religion which contains such teachings is surely guilty of promoting sin. It would even be advisable for the government of the time to demand assurances [of good behaviour] from the adherents of such beliefs. And if one insists that whoever believes in the accursed sacrifice attains true purity and becomes cleansed of all sin, I have already shown that this is not at all true and have detailed the sins of David, Jesus’ grandmothers and disciples, and those of the Christian clergy. Informed people know that illicit sex is more widespread in Europe than in any other part of the world. The mere claim that so and so is sinless does not prove that he is in fact so. There are many scoundrels, adulterers, cuckolds, drunkards and atheists who pretend to lead pious lives, but at heart they are like graves inhabited by decaying corpses.
Here it would be wrong to think that a whole nation or people are by nature good or evil. The Divine law of nature allows every people to claim that, just as there are innately corrupt, immoral and evil people among them, there are also those who are by nature meek, noble and virtuous. Neither the Hindus nor Parsees nor Jews nor Sikhs nor Buddhists are outside this law, not even the chuhras and chamars.7 As a people grow in civility and courtesy and gain knowledge and prestige as a nation, to the same degree, the righteous among them also gain renown for their virtuous lives, character and exemplary conduct. Had there not been individuals in every nation who were innately good, a mere change of religion or faith could not have created goodness, for the Divine law of nature is irrevocable. Anyone who truly hungers and thirsts for the truth will realize that, long before the dawn of religion, God had ordained that some people would by nature have a greater share of love and compassion, while others would be more prone to anger and fury. Religion teaches that all the love, obedience, sincerity and faithfulness which a worshipper of idols or of men has for these objects should actually be directed towards God and the same degree of sincerity should be exhibited in His path.
How far does religion influence human nature? This is a question that has not been answered by the Gospels for they are far removed from the ways of wisdom. But the Holy Quran has answered it in great detail. It explains that it is not the function of religion to change the natural faculties of man or to turn wolves into lambs; its purpose is to guide man in the proper use of his natural faculties in keeping with the demands of time and place. Religion is not meant to change people’s faculties; its aim is only to guide them to their proper use. Instead of laying stress on any particular faculty, such as mercy or forgiveness, it should enjoin the use of all of one’s faculties. No human faculty is in itself evil, it is their wrong or immoderate use that makes them so. A person cannot be condemned on account of his natural faculties unless he misuses them. In short, the Eternal Bestower has endowed nations with natural faculties in equal measure. Just as people belonging to every nation of the world have been blessed with physical features such as eyes, noses, mouths, hands and feet, so have they been blessed with inner faculties, and among every nation there are people, good and evil, depending on their moderate or immoderate use of those faculties. We will only believe that a nation has become virtuous under the influence of a religion, or that a particular religion is the basis of its followers’ decency, if some of its devoted followers are found to possess spiritual excellences that are not found in other religions. I declare with all the emphasis at my command that these excellences are only found in Islam. Islam has guided thousands of people to such a level of purity that God’s very spirit seems to reside in them and the light of Divine acceptance shines in them in such a way that they appear to be the very manifestations of God’s glory. Such people are found in every Islamic century. This is not a baseless claim, for God Himself has testified to their holy lives.
In the Holy Quran, God Almighty has mentioned the following signs of those who possess true piety: they show miracles, God hears their prayers, speaks to them, communicates to them the tidings of the unseen and helps them. We find that there have been thousands of such people in Islam, and in this present age I am here to demonstrate all these excellences. But where are those Christians and in which country do they live who can prove that their faith meets the standard set by the Gospels? Everything is known by the result it produces and a tree is recognized by the fruit it bears. Their mere claim to piety remains hollow unless substantiated by signs. Do we not find the signs of true faith mentioned in the Gospels, and have these signs not been described as miraculous? If we do, then these signs should form the criteria for judging a Christian’s claim to piety. You are welcome to compare any eminent Christian clergyman with the humblest of Muslims in terms of spiritual light and Divine acceptance, and if it turns out that the former possesses even a fraction of the heavenly light possessed by the latter, I will accept any penalty. That is why I have time and again published announcements challenging the Christians. I can say in all honesty and truth—and God is my witness—that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that only through Islam can one acquire the true faith and true piety that comes from heavenly light. The virtuous life that I have been blessed with is testified to by heavenly signs and is not a mere claim on my part. It is impossible to prove that a person’s life is truly pious, or to reveal someone’s latent hypocrisy and disbelief, without the help of heavenly testimony. Since a community is like a body, therefore, when we find in it some people whose purity is affirmed by heavenly testimony, we may safely conclude that the whole community is capable of attaining a virtuous and heavenly life.8
It was because of this that I issued an announcement addressed to the Christians that could have settled the matter. If they had been looking for the truth, they would have taken it seriously. I reiterate that both Christians and Muslims claim to possess faith and piety, but the question is, which of the two religions actually possesses true faith and true piety in the sight of God and which of them consists of only satanic inspirations, and whose claim to a pious life is a delusion resulting from spiritual blindness? As far as I am concerned, only that faith is true and acceptable which is supported by heavenly testimonies and possesses signs of Divine approval. Similarly, the life of an individual can only be considered holy and pious if heavenly signs testify to it. If it was only a question of verbal professions, every religion would claim that there have been, and still are, many truly pious and virtuous people among them. They would even relate some of their superhuman feats, the truth of which would always be difficult to prove. If the Christians really believe that the Atonement helps one to attain true faith and piety, they must come forth and compete with me to see whose prayers are accepted and who can show heavenly signs. I will accept every penalty and deserve every kind of humiliation if the signs testify that their lives are truly pious. But I emphatically declare that, in spiritual terms, the Christians lead extremely impure lives, and God — Who is the Lord of heaven and earth — views their beliefs with the same disdain and repulsion that we feel at the sight of a rotting corpse. If you think that I am wrong in what I say and God does not support this assertion, then come and decide the matter with me in an amicable manner. But, I repeat, Christians do not possess true piety that descends from heaven and enlightens the hearts, and the pious among them are only those who are pious by nature — and such people are found in every nation. But this is not my concern at present. Gentle and good-natured people are found in almost every community, even among the so-called low castes, such as bhangis and chamars. I am concerned with the pure and heavenly life which is acquired through the Living Word of God and which descends from heaven and is distinguished by heavenly signs. Since such piety is not to be found among the Christians, will someone please tell us in what manner their ‘accursed sacrifice’ has benefited them?
Now that the method of salvation which the Christians ascribe to Jesus has been discussed in detail, we come back to the question, whether the mission of our Prophet(sa) was also to offer the same ‘accursed love’ and ‘accursed sacrifice’ for the purity and salvation of mankind, or does it propose other means for achieving this purpose? The answer is that Islam is free from such unholy and impure methods of attaining salvation. It proposes neither an ‘accursed sacrifice’ nor ‘accursed love’, rather it teaches us that, in order to attain true purity, we should offer the pure sacrifice of our own selves which is cleansed by the waters of sincerity and purified by the fire of devotion and steadfastness. For instance, God says:
i.e., One who surrenders his being to God and devotes his life in His path and is eager to do good will get his reward from the fountain of Divine nearness. They shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.
In other words, one who employs all his faculties in the way of God Almighty and whose word and deed, action and inaction, indeed his whole life is devoted to God, and who occupies himself in doing good, shall be rewarded by God Himself and shall be delivered from fear and grief.
Remember, in the Holy Quran God has also used the term ‘Islam’ to denote ‘steadfastness’. For instance, He has taught us the prayer:
i.e., Keep us on the path of steadfastness; the path of those who were rewarded by You and for whom the doors of heaven were opened.
In order to understand the reason for something’s existence we first have to determine its Final Cause. Since the ultimate purpose of man’s creation is to serve God and man has been created to forever surrender to God’s will, he should, therefore, submit to Him with complete devotion and sincerity. When he has devoted every faculty to Him, he will be blessed with Divine rewards. This is what constitutes a holy life. When a window is opened towards the sun it will always allow the sun’s rays to enter. Likewise, when a man turns to God in complete submission so that nothing comes between the two, a heavenly flame immediately descends on him, illuminating his being and cleansing it of all its hidden impurities. He becomes a new man, undergoes a great change and is then said to have attained a holy life. It is here, in this very life, that this transformation should take place. This is how Allah, Almighty, speaks of it in the Holy Quran:
i.e., Whoever is blind in this world and does not see the light of God, shall continue to be blind in the Hereafter.
In short, the faculties that man requires to see God must be taken by him from this world to the next. One who fails to develop these faculties in this world, and whose faith remains confined to mere stories and fables, will languish in eternal darkness. God teaches us that, in order to attain a life of purity and salvation, we must become entirely His, prostrate at His threshold with true sincerity. We must dissociate ourselves from the wickedness of declaring created beings as God, even if we are beaten, cut to pieces or burnt alive. We must testify to God’s existence even at the cost of our lives. Thus He has named our religion ‘Islam’ which means to lay down our lives before Him. The law of nature clearly testifies that what the Holy Quran teaches about the attainment of purity and salvation also holds true in the physical world. Everyday we observe that a lack of proper nutrition causes disease among animals and plants. In nature, the remedy for this is the use of wholesome food and avoiding what is harmful. Trees, for example, have two inherent qualities that help them stay healthy: (1) They force their roots into the soil lest they should become separated from it and wither away; (2) They draw water from the soil using their roots in order to sustain themselves. Providence has prescribed the same laws for man. Man achieves true success only when he establishes himself in God with sincerity and steadfastness, and roots himself in His love with the help of Istighfar12 and then draws Divine water through meekness and humility, surrendering himself to God and repenting in both word and deed. Thus he draws heavenly water to himself in such a way that it removes all the dryness caused by sin, and he is able to overcome his weaknesses.
Istighfar which strengthens the roots of faith, has been defined by the Holy Quran in two ways. The first meaning of Istighfar is to stop committing sin, which overwhelms a person when he is separated from God, and to anchor one’s heart in His love, and to seek His help by losing oneself in Him. This Istighfar is characteristic of those who are so close to God that they consider even a momentary separation from Him worse than death. They continue to seek God’s forgiveness so that He may forever keep them immersed in His love. The other meaning of Istighfar is to free oneself from sin, to hasten towards God and to be captivated by His love — just as a tree is held firmly by the earth — so that, by growing in piety, the human heart may escape from the aridity and decay of sin. Both these states are called Istighfar, because ‘Ghafr’, from which the word Istighfar is derived, means to cover up and suppress. Hence Istighfar means [to pray] that God continues to overlook the sins of one who immerses himself in His love and does not allow the roots of human weakness to be exposed, rather He envelopes him in the mantle of His Divinity and bestows upon him a part of His holiness. Or that God may cover up the root that has been exposed due to sin and protect it from the adverse effects of this exposure. Since God is the source of beneficence and His light is quick to dispel all darkness, therefore, the right way to attain a pure and pious life is to seek refuge from this terrifying state [of dryness and exposure] by extending both our hands towards the Fountain of purity, so that its water may run towards us with full force and wash away all our impurities. No sacrifice pleases God more than our surrendering ourselves to Him with all our heart and soul, and accepting even death in His path. This is the sacrifice God teaches us when He says:
i.e., You cannot attain true righteousness unless you spend in His path all that you love.
This is the path towards which the Holy Quran guides us. Heavenly signs also proclaim, loud and clear, that this is indeed the right path, and reason, too, testifies the same. Something that is wholly unsupported by testimony cannot be equal to that which has been substantiated by many witnesses. The teachings which Jesus of Nazareth acted upon were the same as contained in the Holy Quran, hence he received his reward from Allah. All those who take this holy teaching as their guide will also become like Jesus. This holy teaching is not only capable of making thousands of people like the Messiah, but has actually done so thousands of times. On the other hand, let me respectfully ask the Christian missionaries what spiritual progress they have made by declaring a poor and helpless human to be God. I am ready to accept your claim only if you can prove it. And if you cannot, then come, unfortunate idol-worshippers, and witness our achievements and enter the fold of Islam. It is fair to say that he alone is truthful whose piety, spiritual knowledge and love of God are testified to by Heaven; and that he who is supported by mere tales and myths is a wretch and a liar who gorges himself on filth.
1 In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
We Praise Him and invoke His blessings upon His Noble Messenger(sa). [Publishers]
2 Bani Isra’il, 17:16 [Publishers]
3 Ruh, according to the lexicons, also means happiness and tranquillity. [Publishers]
4 Nafs, according to the lexicons, means ‘the self’. [Author]
5 Al-Fajr, 89:28-31 [Publishers]
6 Seeking forgiveness for one’s sins. [Publishers]
7 Menial workers, usually from the so-called lower casts. [Publishers]
8 It is pointless to quote past events in this regard. The Christians should produce instances that belong to the present. [Author]
9 Al-Baqarah, 2:113 [Publishers]
10 Al-Fatihah, 1: 6-7 [Publishers]
11 Bani Isra’il, 17:73 [Publishers]
12 Seeking forgiveness from God. [Publishers]
13 Al-e-‘Imran, 3:93 [Publishers]