This philosophy is no different from the one that is the common heritage of all religions. This is the only philosophy which history supports. Although the Scriptures and the legends mention many who ascended to the heavens, there is not one instance or account, since Adam, of the bodily return of anyone of them to earth.
So, regardless of the difference in the manner of the professed ascent to the heavens by some, there is none who is reported to have returned to earth after a long disappearance. Reformers have always appeared from the ordinary stock of human beings and have always been rejected and scorned by man. No ceremonial arches are ever erected to welcome them. No garlands are offered. No lamps are lighted in joyous illumination. On the contrary, those who came in the name of God were persecuted for committing this ‘crime’. Their paths were strewn with thorns. Dust was heaped on their heads and stones were thrown at them. They were crowned with the crown of thorns. Every conceivable torture was inflicted on them. You see them now, returning from the town of Taif bathed in blood from head to foot. You see them again, in the battlefield of Ohad, half-dead from their wounds, buried under the bodies of those who laid their lives for them.
You will find their followers suffering a similar fate. Every conceivable torment is practised on them. They are dragged by their feet through rough alley-ways. They are made to lie on burning sands under a sizzling sun. They are thrown on live coals and held there till the embers die down.
They are thrown out of their homes. They are driven into exile. They are threatened with starvation. They are put to the sword. The husbands are taken from the wives and the wives from the husbands. Parents are deprived of their children. Every right that life bestows is denied to them. They are neither allowed to pray nor to build mosques. They are deprived of the right to announce their faith. They are not even permitted to name their own creed.
Thus is man granted a new spiritual life. This is the path that leads to the revival of religion. This is the phenonmenon that we see at work in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and in the life of every prophet before him. It is by treading this perilous path that the prophets have ever revived their nations. This is the philosophy of the revival of religions since the days of Adam to the days of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). When such is the case, how can we then accept that the Almighty has decided to change this inviolable and time-honoured practice? How can we then accept that the Muslims will inherit the earth without shedding a drop of their blood and without making a stroke of effort? How can we believe that they will succeed without treading the path of sacrifice? It did not happen before. It will not happen again. The Promised Messiah, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. affirms this eternal and everlasting truth when he warns the nation thus:
‘There has not been a Prophet who was not laughed at. So it was to be that people laugh at the Promised Messiah.
The Almighty says:
Alas for My servants, there comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him’. (Holy Quran 36 :31)
So it is a sign from God that every prophet is mocked. Now, who can mock a person who physically descends from the heavens in the company of angels amidst a waiting crowd? The wise, therefore, can see that the bodily descent of the Promised Messiah from heaven is false belief. Remember! no one will descend from the sky. All those who oppose me and are now alive will die and not one from amongst them will see Jesus, Son of Mary, descend from heaven. Then their children and their children’s children, too, will die, and Mary’s Son will still not have descended. Then will God fill their hearts with fear that the days of the ascendancy of the Cross are gone and yet Jesus, Son of Mary, has not come down from the heavens. The wise will then tire of this belief. And before three centuries have passed from this day. Muslims and Christians alike will discard this false creed in disgust and despair. Their shall be only one religion in the world and only one Guide. I have come but to sow the seed. This seed has been sown at my hand. It will now grow and bear fruit and there is no power on earth that can harm it.’ (Tazkarat-ul-Shahdatain, p. 64-65)
Every fair minded person can see from this comparison that the Ahmadiyya view-point is based on the history of religions while the philosophy of its opponents is mythical and contradicts the history of religious revival. We learn from history that everyone appointed by God was faced with a storm of opposition. All prophets came with the message of truth and eternal life but were opposed by those who preferred falsehood to truth, and spiritual death to spiritual life. This indeed is the process of the birth of religions. When impurities and corruption crept into religions, their rebirth also took the same course. The reformers sent by God also suffered as the prophets had suffered. Whenever the Almighty chose to revive a nation spiritually, it split into two groups – those who saw the truth and those who opposed it. And neither group ever changed its demonstrated attitude. The Holy Quran describes this oft repeated cycle in a most effective and moving manner. A study of the Quran shows that:
This is the process of religious revival of nations that the Quran and the Scriptures reveal. All prophets – from Adam to the Holy Prophet Muhammad – went through these stages. They gave their nations new life by leading them over the path of suffering and sacrifice. They taught love. They inculcated love of hard work, of sustained effort and incessant actions. It is this revolutionary spirit which breathes life into dead nations. This oft-demonstrated and unchanging divine law is in consonance with man’s nature, conscience and intellect. It is this law that the Ahmadiyya Community acknowledges.
As can be seen, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s concept of revival of religions is not a new-fangled philosophy born of human intellect. It IS derived from that continuous and unaltered historical process which is preserved most accurately and truly in the Holy Quran. It is founded on those eternal principles and truths which are the basis of every true religion. For instance, the Quran declares:
‘There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking, And Allah is AII-Hearing, AII-Knowing.’ (Al-Baqarah, Verse: 257)
‘Alas for My servants! there comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him.’ (Yasin, Verse: 31)
‘Surely Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change that which is in their heart.’ (Al-Ra’ad, Verse 12)
When the prophet Shu’aib was threatened by his people:
‘We will drive thee out O Shu’aib, and the believers (that are) with thee, from our town or you shall have to return to our religion.’ he merely replied, ‘Even though we be unwilling? (Al-A’raf, Verse 89)
Noah’s people, too, threatened him with stoning if he did not desist.
They said, ‘If thou desist not, O Noah, thou shalt surely be one of those who are stoned.’ (AI-Shuara, Verse 117)
This treatment was not reserved for just a few prophets. The Quran summarises people’s attitude to the prophets in these words:
‘And those who disbelieved said to their Messengers, ‘We will surely expel you from our land unless you return to our religion.’ (Ibrahim, Verse: 14)
Abraham was punished for recanting from the religion of his forefathers and for voicing the truth. The chiefs vented their wrath by declaring:
‘They said? ‘Burn him and help your gods, if at all you mean to do anything.’ (Al-Anbiya 21, Verse: 69)
Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross because he disagreed with the Jewish Scribes over the interpretation of the Bible although he avowed openly:
‘Think not that I have come to abolish the law, and the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.’(Mathew: Chapter 5, Verse: 17, 18)
May I remind you that the central difference between Jesus Christ and the Jewish scholars was on the interpretation of the verse:
‘And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven’ (2 Kings; Chapter 2, Verse 11).
The scholars stuck to the literal and apparent meanings of the verse. They believed that Elijah would descend bodily from heaven before the advent of Christ. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, asserted that this was an allegory, that the language was symbolic and not literal. He declared that Zacharia’s son John was the Elijah who was to descend from heaven. Jesus knew full well that John was born on earth and had certainly not descended from heaven.
In answer to the question ‘Then why do the Scribes say that first Elijah must come’, he replied:
‘Elijah does come and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the son of man will suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.’ (Mathew: Chapter 17, Verse 10-13)
Lastly and above all was the suffering of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In his own words, ‘No Prophet suffered as much as I did.’
Therefore, the history of religions teaches us that prophets have always been normal human beings. They do not descend from heaven like the heroes of some mythical tale. They have always suffered trials and tribulations. Their followers gain glory not through the toils of someone else but through their own sweat and blood.