From Abdul Karim,
To my brother and dear friend Nasrullah Khan,
Today, I again feel the need to relate to you the story of my aching heart, with the hope that you will share my feelings. But this need is not without a motive, for the Mover of hearts does not encourage His servants to do anything without purpose.
Chaudhry Sahib! I too am a son of Adam and born of a weak woman, and I too have to overcome human weaknesses, attractions of my loved ones, and other inadequacies. A person born of a woman cannot be hard hearted unless circumstances make him so. My old mother, who is soft-hearted and chronically ill, is still alive, and so is my father. 4 I have brothers who are so near and dear to me, and I have other relations as well. Do you think I have a heart of stone that I have been staying here for months on end. Or have I taken leave of my senses? Or do I blindly follow something and am I utterly ignorant of spiritual knowledge? Or am I known in my family, neighbourhood or town as a man who leads a life of sin? Or am I a pauper who keeps changing his guises to satisfy his hunger? 5 I am by the grace of God, free from all such shortcomings.
Then what is it that has produced in me such steadfastness that has overcome all my other relationships? It is easily explained in one word: it is the recognition of the Imam of the age. And it is such a wonderful thing that it breaks up all other bonds and chains. You are well aware that to the best of my ability, I am familiar with the spiritual verities and inner meanings of the Book of God. At home, I have no occupation other than reading and teaching the Holy Book. What then do I learn here? Is it not enough for the satisfaction of my soul that I should study at home and be acclaimed by so many people? No, by God, never! I used to study and teach the Holy Quran and on Fridays I used to occupy the pulpit and delivered moving moral sermons, warning the congregation against Divine chastisement and admonishing them to keep away from sin, but my inner self would always reproach me:
I moved others to tears, but did not weep myself. I dissuaded others from improper words and deeds, but never desisted from them myself. Since I was neither a hypocrite nor a selfish cheat, and the acquisition of fame and wealth was never my objective, these ideas crowded my mind whenever I had a moment to myself. But since I couldn’t see any way of reforming myself, and my faith wouldn’t let me be satisfied with such false rituals, I succumbed under these pressures and became seriously ill with heart-disease. Many a time I resolved to give up studying, teaching and preaching, but would eagerly return to devour books on ethics, mysticism and exegeses of the Holy Quran. With the same object I closely studied Ihya‘ul ‘Ulum, ‘Awariful M’arif, Fatuhati Makkiya all four volumes, as well as a large number of other books. As for the Holy Quran, it was the delight of my heart and, thank God, it still is. From childhood, indeed since infancy, my fondness for this holy and great scripture is too deep to describe in words. As my knowledge became more extensive, I acquired the skill to gratify audiences and embellish my sermons with many fine and amusing anecdotes. I even found that many sick people got cured at my hands. And yet there was no change in my own self. At last, after a great deal of hesitation and suspense, it was disclosed to me that this dirt would not wash off, unless I met a living exemplar or arrived at the fountain of life which alone could cleanse all inner impurities. Just look at how, for 23 years, the Perfect Guide and the Seal of Prophets(sa) led his Companions through the stages of spiritual evolution. The Holy Quran was the knowledge and the Holy Prophet(sa) was its true personification. It was not merely the grandeur and majesty of the eloquence of the Holy Quran, or its erudite style, that overawed the hearts in such an extraordinary manner. Rather, it was the practical example of the Holy Prophet(sa), his unique moral qualities, accompanied by the constant manifestation of heavenly signs, that made an indelible impression on the hearts of his Companions. Since Islam was very dear to God Almighty and He wanted it to live to the end of time, He did not wish that it should become, like the other faiths, a relic of outdated legends and myths. In every age this blessed religion has had living exemplars who, by their enlightened knowledge and example, made people remember the time of the Holy Prophet(sa), to whom the Holy Quran was revealed. In our own time, and in keeping with this His practice, God Almighty has raised the Promised Messiah(as) among us, so that he should be a witness to the age. I had intended to state in this letter a few intuitional arguments to underline the need for the True Imam. But, only the day before yesterday, the Promised Messiah(as) has himself completed a book, in the context of certain exigencies, which relates to the necessity for an Imam, and it is to be published shortly. I have, therefore, dropped my own idea in this regard.
In the end, I remind you of the devout atmosphere of our meetings, of your good intentions, your coming to participate in Darsul Quran, your own opinion about myself and, above all, your well meaning nature, and I appeal to your clear conscience and upright nature to ponder, for times are critical. Do you see anywhere the Living Faith which is the ideal of the Holy Quran, and the sin-consuming fire which the Holy Quran wants to kindle in the bosoms of men? I hereby swear by the God of the Great Throne and assure you that this is the very faith that man achieves by entering into Bai’at with the Promised Messiah(as)—the vicegerent of the Holy Prophet(sa)—and by keeping his holy company. I am afraid that any delay in this worthy action might cause some terrible change in the heart. Let go the fear of the world, and be prepared to lose everything for the sake of God, so that you may be given everything. Wassalam.
The humble one,
1st October, 1898