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Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam

Study Guide Part II

The Ahmadiyya Gazette, April - June 1996

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV]

The following questions and answers may help the members in the study of the Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam during this centennial year. The answers are in the words of the Promised Messiah (as) as translated. Our thanks to Maulvi Mohammad Siddique Nangli who prepared the guide in Urdu and to Fouzan Pal who helped in preparing the English version. (National Talim Department)

  1. Why is no other book needed after the Holy Quran?

    The Holy Quran is the Perfect Book which undertook the entire project of human reform and is not addressed only to one people. It seeks the reform of all and has set forth all grades of human development. It teaches savages the manners and ways of humanity and thereafter instructs them in high moral qualities. Thus there is no need of any other book beside the Holy Quran.

  2. What favor has the Holy Quran done to humanity by way of teaching the highest moral?

    It is a bounty of the Holy Quran upon mankind that it has set forth the distinction between man's natural State and moral qualities. And that it does not stop merely at leading man from his natural conditions to the elevated palace of high moral qualities? But also opens the doors of the holy understanding that leads man to the spiritual heights. In this way it sets forth in an excellent manner the three types of teaching that we have already mentioned. As it comprehends all the teachings which are necessary for religious training, it claims it has discharged this function to perfection. It says:

    This day have I perfected your religion for your benefit, and have completed My favour unto you and have been pleased to appoint Islam as your religion (5:4). This means the climax of religion has been reached in Islam. Which is that a person should be committed wholly to God and should seek his salvation through the Sacrifice of his self in the cause of God, and not through any other means, and should demonstrate this motive and determination in his conduct. This is the stage at which all excellences arrive at their perfection. Thus, The Holy Quran has presented the God Who was not identified by the philosophers.

  3. What methods has the Holy Quran given for the existence of God?

    The Quran has adopted two methods for the understanding of God. First, the method whereby human reason is strengthened and illumined for the purpose of setting forth reasons in support of the existence of God, and thus saves a person from falling into error. Secondly, the spiritual method which we shall set forth in answer to the third question.

    Proof of the Existence of God

    We now proceed to draw attention to the excellent and matchless proofs of the existence of God that the Holy Quran has set forth. At one place it has said:

    Our Lord is He Who has bestowed upon everything its appropriate faculties, and has then guided it to the achievement of its appropriate purposes (20:51). If we keep in mind the purport of this verse and then reflect upon the shape and form of man and all the animals on land and in the sea, and the birds, we are impressed with the power of God Who has bestowed its appropriate form on everything. This is a vast subject and we would urge our listeners to reflect deeply upon it.

    The second proof of the existence of God that the Holy Quran has set forth is that God is the ultimate cause of all causes, as it is said:

    Thy Lord is the final cause of all causes (53:43). If we observe carefully we find that the entire universe is bound together in a system of cause and effect. This system is at the root of all knowledge. No part of creation is outside this system. Some things are the roots of others and some are branches. A cause may be primary or may be the effect of another cause, and that in its turn may be the effect of still another cause, and so on. Now, it is not possible that in this finite world this pattern of cause and effect should have no limit and should be infinite. We are compelled to acknowledge that it must terminate with some ultimate cause. The ultimate cause is God. This verse sets forth this argument very concisely and affirms that the system of cause and effect terminates in God.

    Another proof of Divine existence set forth in the Quran is:

    This means that the sun cannot catch up with the moon, and the night, which is a manifestation of the moon, cannot prevail over the day, which is a manifestation of the sun. Neither of them can move outside its orbit (36:41). Were there not a Regulator of the whole of this system behind the scenes, the system would fall into chaos. This proof is very striking in the estimation of astronomers. There are so many grand heavenly bodies that are gliding through space that the slightest disorder in their movements would bring about the ruin of the whole world. What a manifestation of Divine power is it that these bodies neither collide nor change their speed, nor alter their courses in the slightest degree, nor have they been worn out by their circulation during such a long period, nor has their machinery suffered any disorder. If they are not under the supervision of a Guardian, how is it that such a grand organisation continues to carry on through numberless years entirely on its own ? At another place in the Quran God Almighty draws attention to this in the words:

    Can there be a doubt in the existence of God Who has originated the heavens and the earth (14:11)?

    He has set forth another proof of His existence in the words:

    All that is on the earth will perish and only the countenance of thy Lord, Master of Glory and Honour, will survive (55:27-28). If we assume that the earth might be reduced into particles and the heavenly bodies might be broken down and everything might be overtaken by a blast that would wipe out every sign of these bodies, yet reason acknowledges and right conscience deems it necessary that after all this destruction there should survive One, Who is not subject to destruction, and can undergo no change and Who should continue in His pristine state. That One is God, Who has created everything mortal and is Himself immune from mortality.

    Another proof of His existence that God has set forth in the Holy Quran is: God enquired from the souls:

    Am I not your Lord ? and they answered: Indeed (7:173). In this verse God Almighty sets forth, in the form of question and answer, the characteristic with which He has invested the souls, and that is that by its very nature no soul can deny the existence of God. Those who deny God do so because they can find no proof of His existence according to their own fancy. Yet they acknowledge that for everything that is created there must be a creator. There is no one in the world so stupid that if he falls ill he would insist that there is no cause for his illness. If the system of the universe had not been made up of cause and effect, it would not have been possible to predict the time of a tornado, or of the eclipse of the sun or the moon, or that a patient would die at a certain time, or that a disease would be reinforced by another disease at a certain stage. Thus, a research scholar who does not acknowledge the existence of God, in effect does so indirectly, for he too, like us, searches for the causes of effects. This is an acknowledgment of a sort, though it is not perfect. Besides, if, through some device, a person who denies the existence of God could be made unconscious in such manner that he should pass under the complete control of God, discarding all fancies, emotions, and impulses of his earthly life, he would in such a state acknowledge the existence of God and would not deny it. This is testified to by eminent experts. The verse that we have cited also indicates that a denial of the existence of God is only a manifestation of this earthly existence, for the true nature of man fully confesses His existence.

  4. How is the contented sould a spring of the spiritual conditions?

    The third question is: What are spiritual conditions? We have already stated that according to the Holy Quran the fountainhead of spiritual conditions is the soul at rest, which carries a person from the grade of a moral being to the grade of a godly being, as Allah, the Glorious has said:

    O soul that has found its rest in God, return to thy Lord, thou well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee. So enter among My chosen servants and enter My Garden (89:28-31).

  5. What is the paradise on this earth and in the hereafter?

    It should be remembered that the highest spiritual condition of a person he this life is that he should find comfort in God and all his Satisfaction, and ecstasy and delight should be centered in God. This is the Condition which is called the heavenly life. In this condition a person is bestowed the heavenly life he this very world in return for his perfect sincerity, purity and faithfulness. Other people look forward to paradise in the hereafter, but he enters it in this very life. Arriving at this stage a person realises that the worship that was prescribed for him is he truth the food that nurtures his soul, and on which his spiritual life largely depends, and that its consummation is not postponed to the after life. All the reproof that the reproving self administers to him on his unclean life and yet fails to rouse fully his longing for virtue and to generate real disgust against his evil desires, and to bestow full power of adherence to virtue, is transformed by this urge which is the beginning of the development of the soul at rest. On arriving at this stage a person becomes capable of achieving complete prosperity. All the passions of self begin to wither and a strengthening breeze begins to blow upon the soul so that the person Conceded looks upon his previous weaknesses with remorse. At that time nature and habits experience a complete transformation and the person is drawn far away from his previous condition. He is washed and cleansed and God inscribes love of virtue upon his heart and casts out from it the impurity of Vice with His own hand. The forces of truth all enter the citadel of his heart and righteousness occupies all the battlements of his nature and truth becomes victorious and falsehood lays down its arms and is put to flight. The hand of God is placed over his heart and he takes every step under the shade of God. God Almighty has indicated all this in the following Verses:

    These are they he whose hearts Allah has inscribed faith with His Own hand and whom He has helped with the Holy Spirit (58:23). Allah has endeared faith to you and has made it to scorn fair to your hearts! And He has made you averse to disbelief, wickedness and disobedience and impressed upon your hearts the viciousness of evil ways. All this has come about through the grace and favour of Allah. Allah is All-Knowing Wise (49:8-9). Truth has arrived and falsehood has vanished, falsehood is bound to disappear (17:82).

    All this pertains to the spiritual condition which a person attains at the third stage. No One can acquire true height unless he arrives at this Condition.

  6. How does Almighty Allah inscribe faith in our hearts and how does He help us with the holy spirit?

    God's inscribing faith on their hearts with His Own hand and helping them with the Holy Spirit means that no one can achieve true purity and righteousness unless he receives heavenly help. At the stage of the reproving self a person's condition is that he repents time after time and yet falls down and often despairs and Considers his Condition beyond remedy. He remains in this situation for a period and when the appointed time comes a light descends upon him at night or during the day which possesses divine power. With the descent of that light he undergoes a wonderful Change and he perceives the control of a hidden hand, and beholds a Wonderful world. At that time he realises that trod exists and his eyes are filled with a light which they did not possess before.

  7. What is the significance of seeking the straight path?

    The law of nature informs us that for the achievement of each purpose there is appointed a straight path and the purpose can be achieved only by following that path. For instance, if we are sitting he a dark room, the straight path for obtaining the light of the sun is for us to open the window that faces the sun. When we do that. The light of the sun blatantly enters the room and illumines it. Thus it is obvious that for the acquisition of God's love and real glaze these must he some window, and there must be an appointed method far the acquisition of pure spirituality. Then we should see the straight pelts that leads to spirituality as we seek a straight path for the achievement of all our other purposes. That method is not that we should seek to meet God only through the exercise Or our reason and by following our self-appointed ways. The doors which can only he opened by His powerful hands will not yield to our logic and philosophy. We cannot find the Ever-Living and Self-Subsisting God through our own devices. The only straight path for the achievement of this purpose is that we should first devote our lives. Together with all our faculties, to the cause of God Almighty, and should then occupy ourselves with supplication for meeting Him, and should thus rind God through God Himself.

  8. Describe an excellent prayer of the Holy Quran?

    The most excellent prayer which instructs us concerning the time and occasion of supplication arid depicts before us the picture of spiritual zeal is the one that God, the Beneficent, has taught us in the opening chapter of the Holy Quran.

  9. What is the meaning of paradise after death?

    The paradise that will be bestowed in the hereafter would be a reflection of this paradise Which will, through Divine power, be manifested physically. This is referred to in the following verses:

    For him who fears to stand before his Lord and is in awe of His Greatness and Majesty, there are two gardens, one in this world and the other in the hereafter (55:47). Those who are wholly devoted to God will be given a drink that will purify their hearts and their thoughts and their designs (76:22). The virtuous shall be given a drink which is tempered with camphor from a spring wherefrom the servants of Allah drink. They cause it to gush forth through their own efforts (76:6-7).

  10. What are the drinks of camphor and ginger which will be offered to the righteous people in paradise?

    We have already explained that the word Kafoor has been used in this verse for this reason that the Arabic word kafara means suppression and covering up. This is an indication that these people have quaffed the cup of cutting asunder from the world and turning to God with such Sincerity that their love of the world has become quite cold. It is well known that all passions originate in the heart and when the heart withdraws altogether from all undesirable fancies and never reverts to them at all, those passions begin to decline till they disappear altogether; that is what is conveyed in this verse, that is to say, that such people draw far away from the passions of self and incline so completely towards God that their hearts become cold to worldly pursuits and their passions are suppressed as camphor suppresses poisonous matter.

    Then it is said: They will be given to drink therein of a cup tempered with ginger (76:18-19). The Arabic word for ginger (Zanjabil) is a compound of zana and jabal. Zana in Arabic idiom means ascending and jabal means a mountain, thus Zanajabal means: He ascends the mountain. It should be remembered that after a person recovers from a poisonous disease he passes through two stages before he is restored to full health and strength. The first stage is when the poisonous matter is completely overcome and dangerous tendencies are reformed and poisonous conditions are safely averted and the attack of the fatal upsurge is completely suppressed, but the limbs are still weak, strength is lacking and the patient treads wearily. The second stage is when the patient is restored to full health and his body achieves full strength and he feels that he can climb hills and run along the heights. This condition is achieved in the third stage concerning which God Almighty has said that godly people of the highest rank drink of cups that are flavoured with ginger; that is to say, that arriving at the full strength of their spiritual condition they can climb high mountains; meaning that they carry out great projects and make great sacrifices in the cause of God.

  11. What is the significance of chains and fire for the disbelievers?

    We have prepared chains and collars and a blazing fire for the disbelieves (76:5). This means that for those who reject the truth and have no inclination towards accepting it, God has prepared chains and collars and a blazing fire. The meaning is that those who do not seek God with a true heart suffer a severe reaction. They are so much involved with the world as if their feet are secured by chains, and they bend down so much towards worldly pursuits as if there are collars round their necks which do not permit them to lift their eyes towards heaven. They have a burning desire for the things of the world, property, authority, domination, wealth, etc. As God Almighty finds them unworthy and committed to undesirable pursuits He inflicts them with these three sufferings.

  12. How is the action of God manifested as a consequence of the action of human beings?

    As we observe clearly that in our worldly life there is an inevitable result for every action of ours, and that result is the act of God Almighty, the same law operates in religious matters also. For instance, it is said: This means that in consequence of the full striving of a person in seeking God, the inevitable act of God is to guide him along the ways that lead to Him (29:70). As a contrast it is said: When they deviated from the right course and did not desire to tread along the straight path, the Divine action followed in that their hearts were made perverse (61:6). To illustrate this even more clearly it is said:

    He who remains blind in this life win be blind in the hereafter also, and even more astray (17:73). This is an indication that the virtuous see God in this very life and they behold their True Beloved in this world.

  13. How can the perfect relationship with God be inculcated?

    The method of establishing perfect spiritual relationship with God that the Holy Quran teaches us is Islam, meaning devoting one's whole life to the cause of God and being occupied with the supplications which we have been taught in Surah Fatiha. This is the essence of Islam. Complete surrender to God and the supplications taught in Surah Fatiha are only methods of meeting God and drinking the water of true salvation. This is the only that the law of nature has appointed for man's highest exaltation and for his meeting the Divine. Those alone find God who enter into spiritual fire of Islam and continue occupied with the supplication set out in the Surah Fatiha.

  14. What is Islam according to the Holy Quran?

    Islam is the blazing fire that burns up our life and consuming our false deities presents the sacrifice of our life and our property and our honour to our Holy God. Entering it we drink the water of a new life and all our spiritual faculties establish such a relationship with God as subsists between kindred. A fire leaps up from our inside like lightning and another fire descends upon us from above. By the meeting of these two flames all our passions and out love for anything beside God are totally consumed and we become dead vis-a-vis our previous life. This condition is named Islam in the Holy Quran.

  15. How does Islam annihilate the lower passions and how do we attain life with prayer?

    Through our complete surrender to the will of God our passions are killed, and through supplications we acquire new life. This life is signalised by the receipt of revelation. Arriving at this stage is interpreted as meeting with God, in other words beholding God. At this stage a person establishes a relationship with God by virtue of which he becomes as if he were beholding of God, and he is invested with power and all his senses and his inner faculties are illumined and he feels the strong pull of a holy life. At this stage God becomes his eye with which he sees, and becomes his tongue with which he speaks, and becomes his hand which he assaults his enemy, and becomes his ear with which he hears, and becomes his feet with which he walks. This stage is referred to in the verse:

    Allah's hand is above their hands (48:11). In the same way it is said:

    It was not thou who didst throw, but it was Allah Who threw (8:18). In short at this stage there is perfect union with God and His holy will pervades the soul thoroughly, and the moral power that had previously been weak becomes firm like a mountain and reason and intelligence are sharpened to the extreme. This is the meaning of the verse:

    He has strengthened them with His spirit (58:23). At this stage the streams of love for and devotion to Him surge up he such manner that to die he the Cause of God and to endure thousands of torments for His Sake and to become disgraced he His path. Become as easy as breaking a small straw. One is pulled towards God without knowing who is pulling. One is carried about by a hidden hand, and to do God's will becomes the purpose of one s life. At this stage God appeals very Close as He has said:

    We are closer to him than his jugular vein (50:17).

    In that Condition the lower relationships of a person fall away from him. As ripe fruit falls away automatically from the branch of a tree. His relationships with God deepens and he draws far away from all creation and is honoured with the word and Converse of God. The doors of access to this stage are as wide open today as they were at any time, and Divine grace still bestows this bounty upon those who seek it as He did before.

  16. What is the secret of attaining nearness to God?

    This is not achieved by the mere exercise of the tongue. And this door is not opened by vain talk and boasts. There are many who Seek but there are few who find. Why is that so ? it is because this stage demands true earnestness and true sacrifice. Mere words mean nothing he this context. To Step faithfully onto the fire from which other people run away is the first requirement of this path. Boasts avail nothing: what is needed is practical zeal and earnestness. In this context God, the Glorious, has said:

    When My servants enquire from thee concerning Me, tell them I am close. I respond to the call of supplicant when he calls on Me. So should they seek Me through their supplications and have firm faith in Me, that they may be rightly guided. (2:187)

  17. Why does Allah give the example of a garden when describing faith?

    Then it is said: Give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that for them there are gardens beneath which rivers flow (2:26). In this verse God Almighty has described faith as a garden beneath which rivers flow, and has thus indicated that faith is related to righteous action as a garden is related to the water of the river or stream. As a garden cannot flourish without water, faith cannot Survive without righteous action. If there is faith but no righteous action the faith is vain; and if there are actions but not faith, the actions arc mere show or display. The reality of the Islamic paradise is that it is a reflection of the faith and actions of a person in this life and is not something that will be bestowed upon a person from outside A person s paradise is developed aside him and everyone's paradise is his faith and his righteous actions, the delight of which begins to be tasted in this very life and one perceives the hidden gardens and Streams of faith and righteous action which will become concretely manifest in the hereafter. God's holy teaching instructs us that pure and perfect and firm faith in God, His attributes and His designs, is a beautiful garden of fruit trees, and righteous actions are the streams that irrigate the garden.

  18. What example of kalima tayyiba has been given in the form of a tree and what are its signs?

    The Holy Quran tells us that a word of faith which is free from every extreme and defect and falsehood and vanity and is perfect in every Was is like a tree which is free from every defect, the root of which is firm he the earth and its branches spread into heaven. It brings forth its fruit at all times and at no time are its branches without fruit (14:25-26). Thus it will be seen that God Almighty has described a word of faith as a tree that bears fruit at all times and has set forth three of its characteristics.

    The first is that its root, that is to say, its true meaning should be firm he the earth, meaning that its truth and reality should be acceptable to human nature and conscience.

    Its second characteristic is that its branches should spread out into heaven, meaning that it should be supported by reason and should be in accord with the heavenly law of nature which is the work of God. In other words the law of nature should furnish arguments be support of its correctness and truth, and those arguments should be beyond the reach of criticism.

    Its third characteristic should be that its fruit should be permanent and unlimited that is to say, the blessings and effects of acting upon it should Continue to be manifested at all times and should not cease to be manifested after a period.

  19. What example of kalima khabisa has been given?

    The case of an evil word is like that of an evil tree, which is uprooted from the earth and has no stability (14:27); meaning that human nature rejects it and it cannot be established by reason, or the law of nature or human conscience. It has no more stability than an idle tale.

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