In Lahore, India, 12 May l908
Professor Raig was a renowned astronomer of his time. He lived in England, but in 1908 was visiting India as part of his world tour during which he gave lectures on astronomy to very large audiences. In May 1908, he stayed in Lahore for a short period. There he gave a lecture which was well attended, especially by many highly placed English people. Hadhrat Mufti Mohammad Sadiq was also present and he met the professor after the lecture. He briefly explained to Professor Raig the proofs and arguments put forward by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) in support of his claim to be the Promised Messiah of his time. Upon hearing these the Professor wished to meet Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) straight away. Mufti Sahib sought first to arrange a time with Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) who gave his permission; the meeting took place after Zuhr prayers on 12th May 1908. Mufti Mohammad Sadiq acted as the interpreter and the conversation was originally recorded in Urdu. The following is a translation of that Urdu transcript which is to be found in Malfoozat Vol. 10, p.353.
Prof. Raig: I am a man of science and I see that the earth on which we live is very small. In comparison to thousands and millions of other kinds of God’s creation, the earth melts into insignificance. Why then has God’s blessing been limited to this earth or to any one religion or nation?
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: Actually this is not correct, neither is it our belief that God reveals himself through a particular nation or sect. God does not have a special relationship or love for any one particular nation. What is correct is this, that God is the God of the entire universe and he has created the means of physical nourishment and development for all creation without any distinction and according to our principle he is ‘Rabbul Alameen’ i.e. the nourisher and sustainer of all the worlds. He has created grains, air, water, light, etc. for all creation. Likewise, in every age and in every nation he has, from time to time, sent reformers for the reformation of people in those nations. As it is stated in the Holy Quran (Surah Fatir, verse 25) Allah the Almighty is God of all the worlds. He has no special relationship with any nation. In fact the different heavenly books which have come from time to time do not contradict each other. This is because a reformer is needed when the world inclines more towards evil deeds and bad practices, such as lies, theft, quarrels and general immorality, so that people become distanced from purity and virtue, and are overwhelmed by selfish desires and emotions. So much so that they, in their belief, also abandon the worship of one God and incline towards idol worship. God is the nourisher of man’s physical as well as spiritual being. His pride demands that at such times of spiritual darkness he should appoint a person for reform, and the concept of such a reformer does not fall outside the bounds of laws of nature. Just as the actual wheat that grew in the times of Adam and other prophets cannot be a source of nourishment for us, and just as the water which existed in previous times cannot quench our thirst, so we need fresh spiritual food as well as water.
It is the tradition of Allah that just as He nourishes and provides for the development of the physical process, where previous nourishment is not sufficient for the present, so is the case with the system of spiritual development, and the two systems, the physical and the spiritual, go side by side. For the person who denies the existence of God, this discussion would take a different line. But a person who believes in the existence of God should keep the two systems in mind and benefit from their comparison. He who has created the physical system has also created the spiritual system. Just as he nourishes the physical system with fresh sustenance, so he nourishes the spiritual system with fresh sustenance. Just as the physical state is dependent upon fresh water, so the spiritual state is also dependent upon fresh, heavenly revelation. Just as the physical body dies if it does not receive nourishment, so the soul too dies without spiritual nourishment. If in spiritual matters only past and ancient references are available, then what would be the conclusion other than that the spiritual system is in a state of death. What else could it be?
God Almighty, as is his nature, always wishes to be recognised. For proof of his existence and identification he always provides true, clear and fresh signs and these are not too difficult to understand. It is this system which has always been in existence and which continues. Thousands upon thousands of prophets came and provided such proofs through their own actions and deeds, thus completing the argument in favour of the existence of God.
Now, how can a person stating that he is a scientist or a philosopher break this proven continuum of witnessed signs? What is needed in such a case is that, just as the holy people provided a practical example with their lives and validated their claims, so should the negation of it be offered in the same way. Such people, however, would be justified in asking, why they are presented with old stories and fables, why not give a living proof or a living example, and for this I am available.
An astronomer cannot provide a definite proof of the existence of God merely by observing the solar system which may, at the very most, lead to a view that there should be a God. The fact that there is a God and that he most certainly exists has always been proven with the principles put forward by the prophets. If people like myself did not appear in this world there could never be in the world any real and complete proof of God. At the very most, if someone was of a just disposition and also possessed a virtuous character, then from the well ordered heavenly bodies and from the solar system, etc. he could conclude that there ought to be a God. Other than that, the fact that God exists and he is the Master, the Ruler and the moving force behind all creation, all this it is not possible for people to know without the guidance of those who are from God. It is such people who enable others to witness the existence of God and, by providing fresh evidence and signs, it is as if they are able to ‘show’ God to others.
Prof. Raig: It is written that there was one Adam and one Eve. Eve was a weak woman. She ate one apple. Now, the punishment of her having eaten an apple will continue forever. This I don’t understand. Also, that this earth with which we are related, is but one among many thousands and millions of other systems which God has created then why would God’s (qudrat) and blessings be limited to this earth?
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: This is not our belief. We don’t propose that there is no system other than our earth and the sky. Rather, our God says that He is ‘Rabbul Alameen’ , that is, He is the sustainer of all the universes and that wherever there has been an inhabitation there he has sent His messengers. Lack of knowledge does not make something non-existent. God created such a vast system of provision for this small earth, why would he not have created provision for all other habitations?
As for saying that all human sorrow and hardship were caused by Eve’s having eaten an apple, this is not a belief held by Islam. We are taught that:
‘No burdened soul can bear the burden of another; and if a heavily laden soul call another to bear its load, naught of it shall be carried by the other, even though he be a kinsman…..’ (Surah Fatir verse 19)
One person’s punishment cannot be meted out to another, nor can there be imagined any benefit in this. Eve’s having eaten of an apple is not the cause of any sorrow, difficulty or punishment, the reasons for these things are given in the Quran but are totally different.
Prof. Raig: There are two things I wish to find out – one is, what is sin? A person in one country may consider some act to be a sin while the same act may not be considered sinful in another country. Man progressed from a small insect to a human being and then he learned to discern between truth and falsehood, he distinguishes truth from lies, good from bad, gained knowledge of sin and goodness and after all this there is the difference – what is sin for one person is not sin for another who indulges in it?
The other thing I wish to find out is about Satan. What is Satan? How is it that God being the master and having power over such knowledge, Satan got to have so much sway that God had to come to this world himself to reform the world. What is meant by this?
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: I usually speak having in mind people who believe in the existence of God. God’s being is a source of eternal happiness and pleasure for man’s life. Whoever separates from Him or leaves Him in one way or another, about such a state of a person it is said that he has sinned. Furthermore, keeping in view the nature of man, God has further defined as ‘sin’ those acts which through their finer implications, prove to be harmful for man himself, even though a person sometimes may not be able to appreciate such harmfulness. For example, theft and harming others by taking away their rights, harms the purity of ones own life. An adulterer’s act of adultery and his taking what may belong to someone else, destroys his own piety and engulfs him in various physical and spiritual difficulties. Similarly, those acts which are against the nature of man’s purity and piety are also referred to as ‘sin’, as are all the related acts, whether related closely or distantly – these are also considered as types of sin.
God Almighty is greater than all else, He has the most knowledge, He is the true creator of man and every particle which exists. It is he who is also the creator of their nature and He is wise. If, with his complete wisdom and complete knowledge, he suggests that something is harmful for you, that indulging in it would not benefit you at all, rather it is totally harmful then it is not the action of a wholesome person to go against this. We see that when a doctor advises a patient to abstain from something, the patient acts on that advice without any argument. Why does he act in this way? He does this because he considers the doctor as being in possession of much greater knowledge than himself. Similarly, there are some things which are harmful for man’s body or spirit whether man himself understands that or not. There are some things which would he harmful even if God had not given a ruling about them. In medicine also there are some things which are considered ‘sins’ and lack of medical knowledge is no excuse for the person who goes against the medical principles. If someone does not believe this they can check with doctors and physicians .
The point to remember is simply this that the root of sin is those actions which lead man far away from purity and righteousness. The true love of God and union with Him is the true pleasure and real comfort. Thus moving away from God and being distant from Him is also sin and is the source of pain, sorrow and difficulty. Those things which God dislikes due to His own sanctity, that is sin. There are some matters on which people may not agree but, on the other hand, the greater part of the world is jointly agreed that lying, stealing, adultery and cruelty are such acts that all nations and religions jointly consider them to be sins. But remember that the root of sin is precisely those acts which distance man from God, which are against His sanctity, against His wishes and against man’s nature – it is such acts which constitute sin.
Every person senses sin. If someone slaps an innocent person and knows that he had no right to do so, he will at some later time, when he looks at his action with a cool head, himself feel ashamed and will sense that he has done a bad deed. Conversely, if someone feeds a hungry person, gives a drink of water to a thirsty person, and clothes someone lacking clothes, such a person will have an inner sense of having been good, and having done a blessed deed. a person’s heart and conscience and the light of belief remind him whether his various actions were a good act or a sinful act.
With regard to Satan, it should be remembered that in man’s nature and composition there have been included two forces and they are both opposed to each other and it is so in order for a person to be tried and tested and, with a successful outcome, to become deserving of God ‘s nearness . Of the two forces, one pulls man towards goodness and the other invites man towards evil. The force that pulls towards goodness is called ‘malk’ or ‘angel’ and the force which invites towards evil is called ‘Satan’. In other words, you can understand it like this, that there are two forces which work on a person, one calls towards good (dc’i khair) , and the other towards bad (dc’i shar) . Someone may not like the use of the terms ‘angel ‘ and ‘Satan’, but he wouldn’t be able to deny the existence of these two types of forces within man. God never intended any evil. God only does what is good.
You see, if sin did not exist in the world there would be no goodness. Goodness develops from sin. The concept of goodness is formed by the concept of sin. If someone has the opportunity to commit adultery and he possesses the ability to do so but then he abstains from this sin, this action is called goodness. If someone has the opportunity to steel, or to be cruel, and he is capable of doing these acts, but he does not do so and positively abstains from them, then he is doing a good deed. To have the opportunity and capability of sinning and then not indulging in sin, that is a good and blessed deed.
Prof. Raig: In the world there are two forces at work – the positive and the negative. If we always use the positive force and never use the negative, one day the negative will gather force and could erupt at any time and destroy the world. The same is true of good and evil. If the whole world did only good and never did any bad deeds then similarly evil would gather force and destroy the world.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: You see, if a person is not capable of shouting, his speaking softly will not be considered a behaviour of high esteem. If a person always remained in one state and was not capable of any change, then goodness could not remain as goodness. It is the existence of the two extremes which creates goodness. If the state was unchangeable and man was not given any other abilities to change his state so that he was always forced to do good, and he was never given the ability to do evil, then what would there be that we could call ‘obedience’ or ‘goodness’? God has, to an extent, given human beings control – they can change their state. They have the power to do good and have the ability to do evil. However a person will act, he will find his reward accordingly.
You see, if there were no evil behaviour then what kind of behaviour would be called ‘good behaviour’. Only when there exist bad characteristics can have good characteristics. A person can think of something bad, and having a picture of it in his mind, he can censure it. Similarly, he refers to some special deeds as ‘goodness’ and praises these. If there was no picture in ones mind of anything bad then there would be no such thing as ‘noble characteristics’. It is always through evil that we can distinguish goodness. If only one aspect was created then there certainly would not be any reward nor any pleasure (of God). Sorrow and joy, discomfort and comfort, darkness and light, bitter and sweet, poison and antidote, bad and good and sin and goodness, all come into being by the existence of its opposite. If such opposites were not created, life itself would have been very dull. If only one state was created, that would be already in our nature, why then any reward and why any recompense? How could this be a source of gaining God’s pleasure when all the deeds were acts of compulsion, a person having no power to do otherwise.
It must be remembered that man has been given control. He has the power to do good or bad, to be kind or cruel, to be benevolent or miserly. It is always by keeping in mind the two aspects of possible behaviour that we can form an opinion about a particular person being good or bad. Indeed, the essential defining element of the term ‘deeds’ is that a person has the capability of doing the reverse. A person, having the capacity to take revenge but does not do so, has performed an act of good deed. But a person who does not possess a limb with which to retaliate against someone who hits him, would not be in a position to say that he has done a good deed by not retaliating:
Qad aflaha man zakkaha wa qad khaba man dassaha– (Surah Al-Shams 10-11)
i.e. He indeed truly prospers who purifies it, and he who corrupts it is ruined.
It is clear from this Holy verse that the existence of goodness and good qualities has its basis on the two capabilities (of doing good or bad). He who is endowed with only one capability and has never been given the other, such a person would be like an image which cannot be erased.
He who denies the existence of Angels and Satan is in effect denying self-evident truths, and going against that which can be easily sensed or witnessed. We see everyday that people do good deeds and also that in the world around us many bad acts are committed and that the two forces are equally at work. This cannot be denied by any person. Who is there who does not within himself find some sense and influence of both? Here, no philosophy or logic can rule otherwise since the two forces are present and each is working in its place.
To turn to your question that if people only do good deeds and no bad acts are committed then eventually evil will gather force and destroy the world. About this, all I can say is that I am not concerned with statements of the type “if this happens then that will happen and if that happens this will happen”. We see this much, that human nature has been created, prepared for good actions as well as for bad actions. I do not go beyond this.