Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him), offered to people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs the opportunity of raising questions and issues that were of interest to them. Presented below are answers to some questions that were raised in sessions held in London. Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad.
Questioner: There is a great difficulty in trying to understand people’s claims to have had experiences of God and faith. How should such claims be postulated and understood?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The role of religion, at present, is almost at an end as far as mass convictions are concerned because that time is lost. These days, the religious leaders seem to have turned to the last line of defence and they talk of religious experiences that are based around the individual and do not have to be shared by others. Even if they do not believe in those experiences, at least the person who goes through that experience will be influenced by that and will modify his or her life accordingly. Hence these days there is so much talk of spiritual experiences.
I believe this is a very dangerous area that will not hold water for long. This is because experiences can be quoted from one side and countered from another. However, when experiences are only in relation to personal behaviour and remain as such, not much harm is done but it so happens that personal experience are related and attached to dogmas and beliefs. People begin to justify dogma through supposed experiences of some individuals. When the situation develops to this stage, it enters a dangerous area simply because dogmas from, for example, Buddhism, Confucianism and Muslim Sufism and so on, all suddenly erupt to contradict each other. Consequently, all the benefit [of the individual experience] may be lost. I believe that, provided the individual religious experience is not used as evidence in support of the dogmatic truth of the people who go through this religious experience, it is all right. It can even be good for the person having the experience. However, such experiences can be of two types. It can be a rational experience or it can be an irrational experience.
Rational experience is only that which is repeatable, like science. Under the same circumstances it should be capable of repeating itself and demonstrate its truth everywhere in the world, provided one adopts an appropriate attitude. So far this has not been the case with the great majority of the ‘experiences’ that are used to gain mass support. The fraudulent people very quickly take over this area and they take over on a mass scale, as has been witnessed in Africa, Syria and Egypt, for example, as spiritual healers. There are so many spiritual healers in the name of Islam, those who apparently work miracles exploiting the ignorance of the people. So much confusion is, in fact, born out of this that it cannot be adopted as a safe instrument for rehabilitating faith sufficiently for it to guide one’s actions.
Questioner: My question is why I should be a Muslim, a follower of Prophet Muhammad, and how can I become one?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad:If you become a believer in God, that is the first step towards religion and when you become a believer in God the best approach to this issue should be to ask, which is the religion that can help you get closer to God quicker than other religions, with greater certainty and with less danger? As such, when you look upon religions in comparison with Islam, Islam’s distinctive features will rise above upon the horizon where they could not be confused with features of other religions. For instance, when you believe in God, you also believe in the universality of God. It is impossible for you to believe that God sent His Messengers only to one particular people, at one particular time and forgot all His other creation everywhere else in the world. If it is such a God, it is better not to believe in Him. God can only be believed in if He is universal. Therefore, one should find elements of universality in religion. In whichever religion you find universality depicted and maintained, that is the best religion.
For instance, when one becomes a Christian, it is not essential for one to believe in Buddha, to believe in Krishna, to believe in Zoroaster or in any other Prophet of God. Belief in Christ alone is considered to be sufficient. One cannot even believe in the truth of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, because if one did, one would not remain Christian. In Islam, it is exactly the opposite. A belief in Islam requires a person to believe in Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Moses, and to believe in all the Prophets of God who appeared all across the world. What, then, is to be considered a better teaching? Islam, obviously! It is a universal religion. It relates to the concept of God having created all human beings. If you were to compare Islamic teachings with teachings of other religions, you will be led to Islam by the force of argument, by the force of rationality. There will be no other choice left for you.
That is one way of reaching Islam. The second is by praying to God. If you want to reach God, why not ask Him which is the best path? If you turn to Him with all sincerity, with a resolution that if He leads you to a faith, whatever that may be, you will follow it, God will, then, take care of you. This is the surest and the easiest path to God.
Questioner: If Islam has an objective to unite people why is it that the believers are so disunited today and what has the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association done towards uniting people?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: It is correct that those who believe in Islam today are disunited. Those who believe in Christianity today are also disunited. Those who believe in other religions are also disunited. The fact is that truth does not disunite – it unites. If one were to apply the same standard to the Ahmadiyya Community, one would find that Ahmadis whether they are in Kosovo or in Mauritius, in Europe or in America, wherever they are they are all united. This is the strength of the Ahmadiyya Community. This is why we claim that our objective is to unite people. We have demonstrated our unity. The Ahmadiyya Community is a united body even though it is spread all over the world. Some non-Ahmadi scholars have also noted this fact and they say it is amazing that Ahmadis are the only religious people who are united not only in their beliefs but also around a central authority of the Caliphate that moulds their character alike. For instance, Immigration Officers who see and interview Ahmadis arriving in the UK from all over the world for the Annual Convention, remark that they are amazed at the fact that all Ahmadis share a certain similarity of conduct and general demeanour. It is the unity of Ahmadis that is proof of the truth of Ahmadiyyat.