During his visit to Nigeria in 1988, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV, may Allah have mercy on him, was invited by BTV, a local television company, to take part in a series of televised interviews in which a number of questions regarding Islam and Ahmadiyyat were raised. We presented another one of these questions and its answer below. Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad.
QUESTIONER: I would like to pursue the issue of the spread of Islam. This is an area where Islam is perhaps greatly misunderstood. Let us take Iran, for instance – would you say what is happening in Iran is according to religion – is that Islam?
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad:
In the Muslim world so much is happening in the name of Islam that if one particular Muslim State is considered to be representative of Islam then what would be your verdict of another Muslim State that is behaving in contradiction to that? If the behaviour of, for instance, Iran is taken to be representative of Islam, then why should the behaviour of, let us say, Iraq not be representative of Islam? This would leave Islam in a paradoxical situation. The brand of Islam found in Libya is different from the brand of Islam found in Iran and the behaviour of Jordan and Saudi Arabia may be different yet again from other Muslim countries.
One Muslim country may stand for a concept that may be at variance from some other country of Islam. Hence, the Governments of these countries have no right to state that they represent the true nature of Islam. The true nature of Islam can only be reflected through the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be on him.
Questioner: I would like to pursue this question a little more because we find that these days, in most of the trouble spots of the world there is an Islamic nation displaying religious intolerance and absolute fanaticism. Why is this so?
These, unfortunately, are the signs of decadence. One should try to understand this by analysing the global phenomenon of developments in religion everywhere in the world. Christianity, for instance, began with the message of sacrifice, of turning the other cheek – not revenge but forgiveness. But that is not what we generally find in the Christian world today, is it?
They have no right, therefore, to change the message of Christ but they do have the right to change their own behaviour [and go against their religion]. However, if they do so, they would be defying Christianity – they would not then have the right to represent Christianity. The same is happening to the world of Islam. People can only be considered true Muslims if their behaviour accords completely with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an – that is the only judge.
Questioner: You have spoken about the signs of decadence. Are you implying that it is the signs of the ‘end’ [of the world]?
It is the ‘end’ only in the sense that this age, with all the signs that have appeared within it, has been referred to in the old scriptures as the world of ‘latter days’. The word ‘latter’ means the ‘second part’ or the ‘end part’. Here the word ‘end’ is not used in the sense that there is a sharp edge to it in that tomorrow the world will explode and that will be the end. In reality, when such matters are spoken of in religious terminology, one day can stand for a very long period.
We know that according to the Bible and the Holy Qur’an, the entire creation was completed in seven days. What then is meant by a ‘day’? A day can cover a very large period. Hence, in religious terminology when reference is made to the ‘end of time’, it means a long period – a few centuries even, or may be more.
This is because the Holy Qur’an tells us that ‘al yaum’ (a day) has different meaning according to whether it is applied to God’s standards or to human standards. According to the Holy Qur’an, one of God’s days may be as long as five thousand years and may even be as long as fifty thousand years. Hence, if one day can be fifty thousand years or perhaps more, (God has not revealed this information to us), it means that we should not interpret such terms according to our own standards where these have been used by God. According to God’s standards it could be anything between a short period of a thousand or so years or a much greater span of time.