Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh)
The Review of Religions, November 1996
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Islam, made himself available on various occasions for people of all beliefs to raise any issues or questions they may have. Presented below is a selection of questions which were addressed in two sessions, one of which was held in U.K. on 12 May 1996 and the other was held on 25 May 1996 in Germany. The first question presented below was raised in the session held on 12 May 1996 and the rest are from the session held on 25 May 1996. Transcribed and edited by Amatul-Hadi Ahmad.
Questioner: I am a firm believer in finding oneself through exploring the inner self. What advice would you give to someone who may get lost in such a journey within?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: You see, this is a very uncertain process in so many ways. It can lead to inner truth but, more often than not, it can lead to illusion. What would decide the issue, in fact, is what you become after such an inward journey. If after striking the fountain head of truth from within your soul, you emerge as a godly person, with a reasoned determination, with dedication to the cause of goodness, then most certainly one can say that this internal experience was a true experience which was based on ultimate truth. If this is not the case, and it only becomes a source of display of one’s power over others, like the Yogis for instance, or becomes a display of self achievement which cannot bring about any changes in human society, then it is useless and meaningless. One is then sunk into the ego, drowned, unable to return – one is sunk and lost. You see that is important because nowadays a lot of literature of this kind is gaining popularity particularly among the Western people because they are tired of excessive materialism and deep inside they know that they want to live again. So they see reincarnation, the yogic practices, the creation of an inner self which if reached can lead to the source of wisdom. These are all means of drowning oneself into self-oblivion. It is a sort of a drug for which you don’t have to pay much anyway, of course! But in the ultimate analysis it results in addiction because if such things do not bring about a transformation in your character, making you a useful member of the society dedicated to the cause of the whole human society, then this ‘trip’ may be termed any thing, but it would not lead to God.
So, we believe in introspection only in the sense that your journey in search of truth begins with a belief in God, not without Him. Only then are you safe and you begin to understand that the message is all around you. This is the meaning of a verse of the Holy Qur’an, exactly in answer to your question. (Ch. 3, v. 191-192) The meaning, in brief, is that, only those are wise among human beings who keep remembering God day and night, while they are reclining or sitting, or standing or walking about, and contemplate on the mysteries of nature. When they delve deeper into the underlying causes of things, then suddenly their eyes are opened to things, to the well charted out plan of things, to the scheme of things, where everything leads to God. So they begin their journey from God, with God and reach the second stage of ultimate satisfaction that what they had believed in was not just faith. It was a reality fully supported by the natural phenomena because then they begin to see the hand of God in every law which is enacted in nature. They begin to see God working in themselves, in their eyes, in their brains, in their faculty of hearing, and the faculty of touch, in their faculty of computation. The way kidneys are made, the way hearts are manufactured and the way they work. The inner system in man and the reproduction and how man’s vision is wider beyond all comparison than the vision of the earlier forms of life. There he meets not only the ends of faith, but also the beginning of time and he can reach through his mental faculties the ultimate purpose of this world and this life. This is the vision that can either lead you to a void of nothingness or it can lead you to God again, from where you started your journey.
So, if an inward journey means this, then Islam fully approves of it, Islam advocates it. But if it is just a hazardous journey of trying to reach one’s ego, without any guardian along with one, then it is very seldom that Buddhas are born out of you. Most of the products of such journeys are self destruction and illusions and nothing else.
Questioner: How can I find God? How do I know that a dream is from God?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Firstly, the question as to how we can find God is both difficult and easy to answer. In fact, it is not within the power of man to find God by himself. It is only God who can lead people to Himself. So, how does the journey begin – this is the question. According to the Holy Qur’an, if a desire is born in you to search for God, to meet Him, to be close to Him – if that desire is honest and a man or a woman begins to search for God on their own, then it is Allah, God himself, who leads them on to himself. In this regard, the Holy Qur’an states, (in Ch. 29, v. 70), that, all those who strive in our path, who want to reach Us, it is We Who would lead them on to Us and, most certainly, We do lead them on to Us. So, all that man needs is a sincere desire to be close to God.
As far as the second part of your question is concerned, the dreams from God have their own signs which are fulfilled in due course and sometimes they are in a language which cannot be understood by the person who has the dream. However, Godly people who are well versed in the art of interpreting dreams, can ‘read’ them and their interpretation comes true. So, the dreams from God have an inner quality and the person who sees a dream which is from God is also specially moved. He or she knows that something has happened, that this dream is not an ordinary dream and then in the events that follow he or she begins to see the signs of its fulfillment.
I quote the example of the dream of the king of Egypt at the time of Joseph. The king saw a strange dream. He saw seven cows which were strong and healthy and seven others, very weak and emaciated. The seven weak cows ate the seven strong cows. Now, this is not psychological. It is against human thinking. If a man had invented this dream, he should have thought of the strong cows eating up the small, weak ones. The opposite happens and then, at the same time, he saw in the dream that there were seven ears of corn which were green and seven which hardly had any corn on them. He could not understand the message because he had not made it up himself. His courtiers, great scholars of his time, said it was just a result of his own thoughts, nothing else. But when Joseph (as), a Prophet of Allah, heard it, he interpreted it. He said that there will be seven years which will be good for you and you will reap abundant crops but these seven years will be followed by seven lean years when there will be a drought and there will practically be no food. So, save what you harvest in the seven years of abundant crops for the seven lean years and in this way you will face no problems. Now, this dream came true in a strange way. The interpretation came true to the letter. So, what better sign could be presented to show that this dream was from God!
Similarly, at an individual level, I have seen many a times that people write to me about a dream of which they do not know the meaning. When I interpret the dream and tell them the meaning, in writing, it happens just like that. So the dreams from God have an internal language. We should know that language otherwise we would not be able to understand the dreams.
Questioner: I am from Switzerland and have studied Catholic theology in Lucerne and Munich. My question is, why I should be a Muslim, a follower of Prophet Muhammad (as), 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, sooner than in the case of other religions, with greater certainty and with less danger? As such, when you look upon religions, in comparison to Islam, Islam’s distinctive features will rise to 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. So find the elements of universality in religion. In whichever religion you find universality depicted and maintained, that is the best religion. When, for instance, you become a Christian, it is not essential for you to believe in Buddha, to believe in Krishna, to believe in Zoroasthra or in any other prophet of God. Only believe in Christ and that is sufficient. You cannot even believe in the truth of the Prophet Muhammad (as) because if you do, you will not be a Christian. In Islam, it is exactly the opposite. A belief in Islam requires you to believe in Buddha (as), to believe in Krishna (as), to believe in Jesus (as), to believe in Moses (as), to believe in all the prophets of God, all over the world. So, what is a better teaching? Obviously Islam. It is universal, it relates to the concept of God having created all human beings. So, in this way, if you compare Islamic teachings with teachings of other religions then, step by step, you will be led to Islam by the force of argument, by the force of rationality. There will be no other choice 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 you are led by Him to any faith, whatever it is, you will follow it. God will, then, take care of you. This is the surest and the easiest path to God.
Questioner: I am very satisfied with your answer.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Alhamdo-lillah, (All praise be to God).
Questioner: Where is belief – where is faith when so many innocent children die and so may women are cruelly treated and die? Where is there faith in the world?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Why do they die, innocently? Who is responsible? Is it the crookedness in man or is it God who is responsible? If you honestly and sincerely investigate the causes of human suffering, you will come to the definite conclusion that it is man who is cruel to himself because of his selfishness, because of his ego in relation to his national and racial preferences, group interests, and so on. It is he who is responsible for cruelty to other human beings and then this cruelty builds up, and when it builds up it also results in irregular and distorted births. Again, ultimately man is responsible for that. For instance, if you look at the industry which is called the pharmaceutical industry you will be amazed to find that it is the new drugs which are largely responsible for the distortion of children at birth. Again, you will find that it is the high level of radiation in the atmosphere which is becoming responsible for many a distorted birth of children. Moreover, if you investigate honestly the causes of suffering, of skin cancer, of lung cancer, and so on, you will always be led to human error, not to that of God. If man lived in accordance with the will of God, this earth would be a heaven on earth – it is man who has turned it into hell. God is not responsible for this. That is why there is need for religion, there is need for God. If they turn to God then things will become much much better than you find them today. I give just one example. Religion requires you to dispense human affairs with absolute justice. All religions are unanimous in this. It is not just a question of Islam. Christianity, Judaism, name any religion and it will support the same view, that man must dispense his affairs with absolute justice. Now take the element of justice out and the hell is born in human affairs. Where is the justice in the United Nations? Where was the justice for their treatment of the Iraq-Iran affair, of the Iraq-Kuwait affair, of the Bosnian affair, and many others? Everywhere it is man who is responsible because, in the name of justice, man is behaving most unjustly, in order to serve his own group interest. Suffering, there is, of course. But God is not responsible for it. Man is responsible because he rejects the teachings of God. If, for instance, you were to investigate economic discrepancies, economic problems, some economic suffering in a country, you will find, every time, that it is born out of human injustice in the economy. Similarly, political suffering is born out of human injustice in the political sphere. So, everywhere it is man who is responsible not, God.
I will quote one other example which will clearly prove the case in point. In the case of Bosnia and the treatment of Bosnia by Europe in the beginning. Whenever it was asked on some programme or other on television, ‘why don’t you interfere and stop this nonsense?’ Every European politician said, ‘you don’t know how impossible it is, how intricate the problem is. If we permit force for bringing about peace in Bosnia, it will turn into a Balkan war, it will turn into a World war, it will get out of hand’. This was sheer non-sense! When America ultimately decided that force is the only weapon to which the other parties will listen, within a matter of weeks the whole problem was gone. Man is a hypocrite. Man is unjust and when it comes to telling lies, even at the highest levels of human leadership, they are not ashamed of telling lies. So man is responsible, not God, for all the suffering.