The Holy Qur’an
Following sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as), Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a summary of his exposition of THE HOLY QUR’AN. The original compilation, in Urdu, from which these extracts have been translated into English, was collated with great care and diligence by Syed Daud Ahmad Sahib(ru). The English rendering is by the late Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra), and is quoted from The Essence of Islam, Volume 3. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an.
My heart yearns every moment to kiss Thy Book and to perform a circuit around the Holy Qur’an, for it is my Ka’aba.
The Holy Qur’an is a casket of jewels but people are unaware of it.
We are a witness and testify before the whole world that we have found in the Holy Qur’an the reality that leads to God. We have heard the voice of God and have witnessed the signs of the mighty arm of Him Who has revealed the Qur’an. We believe that He is the True God and is the Master of the worlds. Our heart is filled with this certainty as the ocean is filled with water. We, therefore, call everyone to this faith and to this light on the basis of our insight. We have found the true light which dispels all darkness and which renders the heart cold to all that is beside God. This is the only way by following which a person emerges from the grip of passion and the darkness of the ego as a snake comes out of its skin [Kitabul Bariyyah, (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press 1898); Now printed in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984), Vol.13, p.47]
It is obvious that the great merit of anything is that it should fulfil the purpose for which it has been fashioned. For instance, if a bullock is purchased for ploughing land its merit will be judged by the degree to which it is able to discharge its function of ploughing. In the same way, it is obvious that the true purpose of a heavenly Book is that it should rescue its followers from a sinful life through its teaching and influence, and its power of reform and spiritual qualities, and should bestow a pure life upon them and after purifying them should bestow upon them full insight for the recognition of God and should establish a relation-ship of love and devotion between them and the peerless Being, Who is the fountain-head of all joys. In truth this love is the root of salvation and this is the paradise on entering which all fatigue and bitterness and pain and torment are removed. Without doubt the living and perfect revealed Book is the one which should lead a seeker after God to his goal and, rescuing him from a low life, should lead him to the True Beloved, meeting Whom is salvation itself. It should rescue him from all doubt and should bestow, such perfect understanding upon him as if he can see God. It should establish such strong relationship between God and him that he should become a faithful servant of God and God should be so benevolent towards him that He should make a distinction between him and those beside him with diverse types of His help and support and should open the gates of His understanding to him. If a book fails to discharge this duty which is its real purpose, and seeks to establish its merit by making all sorts of irrelevant claims, it would be like a person who claims to be an expert physician, but when a patient is brought to him and he is asked to heal him, he replies that he is unable to heal him, but that he knows how to wrestle, or that he is an expert in astronomy or philosophy. It is obvious that such a person would be called a jester and would deserve the condemnation of all reasonable people. The chief purpose of a Book of God and a Messenger of God is to rescue the world from a life of sin and to establish a holy relationship between God and the world. It is not their purpose to teach people subjects of secular study and to instruct them in worldly inventions.
It is not difficult for a reasonable and just person to understand that the purpose of a Book of God is to lead people to God, and to make them believe in Him as a certainty, and to stop them from committing sin by impressing the majesty and awe of God upon their hearts. Of what use is a book that cannot cleanse a heart, nor can bestow such pure and perfect understanding as should make one hate sin. The attraction of sin is a dangerous leprosy that cannot be healed till the manifestations of the living understanding of God, and the signs of His awe and greatness and power, descend like rain and till a person perceives God with His terrible powers as a goat perceives a tiger that is only two steps away from it. Man needs to be freed from the fatal passion of sin. The greatness of God should so occupy his heart that it should rid him of the overpowering desire of passion that falls upon him like lightning and instantly consumes his store of righteousness. Those impure passions which attack repeatedly like epilepsy and destroy all sense of piety cannot be wiped out by a self-conceived impression of God, nor can they be suppressed by one’s own thinking, or be blocked by an atonement whose suffering has not been experienced by one. This is not a matter of indifference but, in the estimation of a wise person, it is worthy of consideration above all else as to how he might safeguard himself against the ruin which confronts him on account of his daring and his lack of relationship with God, the root of which is sin and disobedience.
It is obvious that a person cannot give up a certain pleasure for the sake of conjecture. It is only a certainty that can rescue one from another certainty. For instance, if we are certain that there are a number of deer in a forest that we can easily catch, we are incited by that certainty to enter the forest for that purpose; but if we are also certain that there are half a hundred lions in the forest and thousands of pythons, we would be dissuaded from making the attempt. Thus sin cannot be avoided without this degree of certainty. It is only iron that can break iron. There should be that certainty of the greatness and awe of God which should tear up the curtains of heedlessness, and should make the body tremble, and should make death appear near. The heart should be so overcome by fear that all relationship with the sinful ego should be cut asunder and one should be drawn by hidden hands towards God and the heart should be filled with certainty that God Who is truly present does not leave a daring offender without punishment. What shall a seeker after true purity do with a book that does not fill this need?
I wish to convey it to everyone that the Holy Qur’an is the Book that fills all these needs. Through it a person is drawn to God and his heart grows cold to the love of the world. By following it, God, Who is hidden beyond hidden, in the end manifests Himself and displays those powers of which outsiders have no notion, and informs of His existence by the affirmation: I am present. But the Vedas certainly do not possess this quality. They are like a worn out bundle whose owner is dead or is not traceable. The Parmeshwar towards whom the Vedas call is not proved to be living. Indeed the Vedas put forward no proof that their Parmeshwar exists. The mis-leading teaching of the Vedas has rendered it doubtful that one could find the Creator through His creation; inasmuch as, according to the teachings of the Vedas, souls and particles are all eternal and uncreated, then how can one discover the Creator through that which is uncreated? Also the Vedas shut the door of Divine revelation and deny the fresh Signs of God. According to the Vedas Parmeshwar cannot display a Sign in support of His special servants that should be beyond the knowledge or experience of the average person. The utmost that can be said about the Vedas is that they affirm the existence of God like an average being, and do not put forward any certain proof in support of the existence of God. In short the Vedas cannot bestow that understanding which comes fresh from God and conveys a person from earth to heaven, but our observation and experience and of those who have passed before us, is witness that the Holy Qur’an draws its true follower to itself through its spiritual effect and its inherent light and illumines his heart, and then by displaying great signs creates such a strong relationship with God as cannot be cut asunder by a sharp sword. It opens the eye of the heart and banks up the dirty spring of sin and honours one with the delicious converse of God and discloses that which is hidden and helps acceptance of prayer and gives information of it. God Almighty, through His signs, makes it manifest to everyone who opposes a true follower of the Holy Qur’an that He is with that servant of His who follows His Word [Chashma Marifat, (Qadian, Anwar Ahmadiyya Press, 1908); Now published in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984), Vol.23., pp.291-295]
God, in whose meeting is man’s salvation and eternal happiness, cannot be found without following the Holy Qur’an. Would that people could see that which I have seen and they could hear that which I have heard and give up following stories and run towards reality. The means of obtaining perfect knowledge through which one can see God, and the cleansing water which removes all doubts, and the mirror through which one can behold that High Being, is the converse with God which I have just mentioned. He whose soul seeks the truth should arise and search for it. I say truly that if souls were inspired by true search and hearts felt true thirst, people would look for this way and would search for it. I assure the seekers that Islam alone gives the good news of this way for other people have since long sealed up the possibility of revelation. Be sure that this seal is not set by God, but as man has deprived himself of this favour, he seeks excuses for its absence. As it is not possible that we should be able to see without eyes or should be able to hear without ears or should be able to speak without a tongue, in the same way, it is not possible that we should be able to behold the countenance of the Beloved without the Holy Qur’an. I was young and am now old, but I have found no one who might have drunk of this clear understanding without this holy fountain [Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Now printed in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984), Vol.10, pp.128-129]. The straight path and the principal means which is full of the lights of certainty, and is the perfect guide for our spiritual welfare and our intellectual progress is the Holy Qur’an which is charged with the settlement of all the religious contests of the world. It contains a large quantity of the water of life for us and comprises many rare and priceless jewels which are hidden in it and are being displayed every day. It is an excellent touchstone whereby we can distinguish between truth and falsehood. It is the one bright lamp which shows the way of truth. Without doubt the hearts of those who have a relationship with the straight path are drawn to the Holy Qur’an. God has so fashioned their hearts that they lean towards their Beloved like a lover and find no rest elsewhere, and hearing a plain and clear directive from Him, they listen to nothing else. They accept joyfully and eagerly every verity contained in it. In the end it becomes the means of illumination of the heart and lighting up the conscience and of wonderful disclosures. It leads everyone to the heights of progress according to their capacities.
The righteous have always been in need of walking in the light of the Holy Qur’an. Whenever Islam has been confronted with any other religion in consequence of some new condition of the age, the sharp and effective instrument that has immediately come to hand is the Holy Qur’an. In the same way, whenever philosophic thought has been given publicity in opposition to it, the Holy Qur’an has destroyed that poisonous plant and has so humiliated it as to provide a mirror to its students which shows up that true philosophy which is contained in the Holy Qur’an.
In the modern age, when Christian missionaries started their propaganda and made an attempt to draw away unintelligent and ignorant people from the Unity of God and to make them worship a humble creature and employed every kind of sophistry for dressing up their doubtful ideas and thus created a storm in India, it was the Holy Qur’an which repelled them so that they are not now able to face an intelligent person and their extensive apologetics have been folded up like a piece of paper [Izalah i Auham, (Amritsar, Riyaz Hind Press 1308 A.H.); Now published in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984), Vol.3, pp.524-525].
The Holy Qur’an is a rare pearl. Its outside is light and its inside is light and above it is light and below it is light and there is light in every word of it. It is a spiritual garden whose clustered fruits are within easy reach and through which streams flow. Every fruit of good fortune is found in it and every torch is lit from it. Its light has penetrated to my heart and I could not have acquired it by any other means. If there had been no Qur’an I would have found no delight in life. Its beauty exceeds that of a hundred thousand Josephs. I incline towards it with a great inclination and drink it into my heart. It has nurtured me as an embryo is nurtured and it has a wonderful effect on my heart. Its beauty draws me away from my soul. It has been disclosed to me in a vision that the garden of holiness is irrigated by the water of the Qur’an, which is a surging ocean of the water of life. He who drinks from it, comes to life and brings others to life [Ayenae Kamalat-eIslam, (Qadian, Riyadh Hind Press 1893); Now printed in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984), Vol.5, p.545-546].
The expression Khataman Nabiyyin, which has been applied to the Holy Prophet(saw), demands that the Book that was revealed to him, should be the most perfect of all books and should comprise all excellences; and indeed so it is. The rule is that whatever degree of spiritual power and inner perfection is possessed by the person upon whom the word of God descends, the same degree of power and majesty is possessed by that word. As the spiritual power and inner perfection of the Holy Prophet(saw) were of the highest degree, which no one exceeded or will exceed, therefore, the Holy Qur’an occupies that high station and rank which has not been reached by any of the previous Books and scriptures. The capacity and spiritual power of the Holy Prophet(saw) were the highest of all, and all excellences had reached their climax in him. Therefore, the Holy Qur’an that was revealed to him is also perfect and as the excellences of Prophethood reached their climax in him, the excellences of the miracle of the word reached their climax in the Holy Qur’an. Thus he was the Khataman Nabiyyin and his Book was the Khatamal Kutub. From the point of view of every aspect of a miraculous word, the Holy Qur’an is at the highest stage. The perfection of the Holy Qur’an is seen and its miraculous character is proved from every point of view, that is to say, from the points of view of excellence of composition, of the sequence of its subjects, of its teaching and its perfection and of the fruits of its teaching. That is why the Holy Qur’an has not demanded its match from any particular point of view, but has issued a general challenge demanding a match from any point of view. From whichever point of view it is looked at, it is a miracle (Malfoozat, Vol. III, pp.36-37).
The Holy Qur’an is a miracle the like of which never was and never will be. The door of its graces and blessings is always open, and it is bright and manifest in every age as it was in the time of the Holy Prophet(saw). It should also be borne in mind that the speech of everyone corresponds to his high resolve. The higher the resolve and determination and the purpose of the speaker, the same will be the case with his speech. Divine revelation also follows the same rule. The higher the resolve of the person to whom Divine revelation is vouchsafed, the higher will be the character of the revelation. As the circle of the resolve and capacity and determination of the Holy Prophet(saw) was very wide, the revelation that came to him had the same high rank. No one else will ever attain the same degree of resolve and courage inasmuch as his message was not for any limited time or for any particular people, as was the case with the Prophets before him. It was said to him: Proclaim, O Prophet: I am the Messenger of Allah to you all (Ch.7:V.159); and again: We have not sent you but as a mercy for all the worlds (Ch.21:V.108). Who can match him, the circle of whose advent and messengership was so wide. Today if a verse of the Holy Qur’an is revealed to anyone, I am convinced that the circle of that revelation will not be as wide as it was in the case of the Holy Prophet(saw) (Malfoozat, Vol. III, p.57).
The fine verities pertaining to religion, and all the learning pertaining to the subject of Divinity, and conclusive arguments in support of the truth together with the mysteries and insights that are set out in the Holy Qur’an, are such that human faculties collectively are not able to discover them nor can the intelligence of an intelligent person alight on them on its own. A consideration of past ages has shown that no philosopher or wise man was able to discover all that knowledge; but in this case there is a wonder upon wonders, that is to say, that knowledge and insight were bestowed upon one who was entirely unlearned. He had never seen a school nor read a book nor kept company with any learned or wise person. He lived his life among wild people, was born and brought up among them and kept company with them. The Holy Prophet(saw) being unlettered is a matter so patent that no historian of Islam is unaware of it (Baraheen Ahmadiyyah, pp. 470-472).
Whatever comes into being by the exercise of God’s perfect power, whether it is a part of creation or it is a Holy Book, literally revealed by Him, it is necessary that it should possess the quality that no one out of creation should have the power to produce its like. This is proved in two ways; one is by way of deduction. God is One and without associate in His Being and attributes and works, and this does not admit of any partnership with Him in any of his creations or words or actions, for if such partnership were permissible in respect of any of His creations or words or actions, then it would be permissible in all His attributes and actions, and as such it would be permissible that there should be another God. That which possesses all Divine attributes would be God and that which possesses some of the attributes of the Divine, would be a partner of God in respect of those attributes, and this is contrary to reason. It follows that it is necessary that God should be One without associate in all His attributes and words and actions, and His Being should be free from all those inconsistencies which would lead to someone being His partner. Secondly, it is proved by observation of all those things which have been created by God that none of them could be created by man, not even the least of them like a fly or a mosquito or a spider. On observing their shape and formation, one sees such wonders that furnish conclusive proof of the existence of the Creator of the universe. Besides all these arguments, it is clear to every wise person that were it permissible that someone other than God could have the power to create that which God has created by His power, then no part of creation could be cited as proof of the existence of the True Creator and the matter of His recognition as the Creator would become doubtful; for if some of those things that have been created by God Almighty could be created by someone else, then there is no reason why someone else could not create everything that God had created. Now that it is established that it is necessary that that which God has created should be matchless and its matchlessness is conclusive proof of its being from God, this is a complete refutation of the proposition that it is not necessary that the Divine word should be matchless, or that its being matchless is no proof of its being from God . …
Matchlessness is a specialty of the work and word of God. Every wise person knows that the principal means that reason has for establishing the Godhead of the Divine is that everything that proceeds from God is so matchless that it is conclusive proof of the Unity of the Creator. Had this means not been available, the way of reason reaching God would have been closed (Baraheen Ahmadiyyah, pp.145-170).
The Holy Qur’an is a Book which has proclaimed its own matchlessness and has claimed its own greatness, its wisdom, its truth, the beauty of its composition and its spiritual lights. It is not true that the Muslims have themselves put forward these excellences on behalf of the Qur’an. It sets out its own merits and excellences and puts forward its matchlessness and peerlessness as a challenge to the whole of creation and calls out loudly: Is there any contestant? Its verities and fine points are not confined to two or three which would leave room for doubt on the part of an ignorant person, but are like the surging ocean and are visible in every direction like the stars of heaven. There is no truth outside of it. There is no wisdom that is not comprised in it. There is no light that is not obtainable through following it. These things are not without proof and are not mere words. It is an established and clearly proved verity which has been shining through 1,300 years. We have set out this verity in great detail in this book and have expounded the fine points of the Qur’an at such length as to constitute a surging ocean for the satisfaction of a seeker after truth (Baraheen Ahmadiyyah, 554-558, footnote II).
The High Estate of the Holy Qur’an Which It Has Proclaimed of Itself
All knowledge is comprised in the Qur’an, but the intellect of people falls short of it.
One of the principal causes of people going astray in this age is that in the eyes of most people the greatness of the Holy Qur’an no longer prevails. One group of Muslims has become the follower of misleading philosophy. They seek to decide every matter by reason. They claim that the highest arbiter available to man for the settlement of disputes is reason. When they find that the existence of Gabriel and other angels that are mentioned in religious books, and the existence of heaven and hell as is established in the Holy Qur’an, cannot be proved by reason, they immediately reject them and begin to have recourse to flimsy explanations. They interpret angels as meaning powers, and revelation only as a faculty, and heaven and hell as meaning merely spiritual comfort or pain. They do not seem to realise that reason alone is not the instrument for discovery of the unknown. Indeed high verities and extreme insights are far above the reach of reason and are established only through true visions. If the touchstone for verities were to be reason alone, the great wonders of Godhead would remain hidden and man’s understanding would remain incomplete and imperfect and he would not be rid of doubts and suspicions. The end of this one-sided understanding would be that in the absence of guidance from above and without any knowledge of the lines of thought that are set in motion by the Power on High, all sorts of doubts would arise with regard to the existence of the Creator Himself. The idea that reason alone is sufficient for unraveling all the mysteries of the True Creator is wholly insupportable. The second group has discarded reason altogether and has also left aside the Holy Qur’an which is the fountain-head of all knowledge of things Divine and has taken firm hold of stories and meaningless sayings. We desire to draw the attention of both these groups to the Holy Qur’an and to urge them to value its greatness and its light, and to make use of reason in the guidance of its light. They should leave aside the sayings of other people, and even if they should find a Hadith which contradicts the Holy Qur’an, they should discard it immediately, as God Almighty has said in the Holy Qur’an: In what discourse, leaving aside the Holy Qur’an, will they believe (Ch.7:V.186)? It is obvious that the Holy Qur’an is an authority of the highest grade which is absolute and certain. Most Ahadith are conjecture, and conjecture does not avail anything in contrast with truth.
Study the following verses care-fully and then consider whether it is proper to leave aside the Word of God and to set up some other guide or arbiter. These verses are:
Most surely this Qur’an guides to that which is most firm and right… (Ch.17:V.10).
Herein, surely, is a message, for those who are devoted worshippers. (Ch.21:V.107).
It is a reminder for the righteous. (Ch.69:V.49).
It is the certain truth. (Ch.69:V.52).
It is consummate wisdom… (Ch.54:V.6)
…It is an exposition of everything… (Ch.16:V.90)
…Light upon light… (Ch.24:V.36)
…It is a cure for that which is in the hearts… (Ch.10:V.58)
The Gracious One has taught the Qur’an. (Ch.55:V.2-3)
Allah has sent down the Book according to the requirements of truth and has sent down the balance… (Ch.42:V.18)
…It comprises guidance for mankind and clear proofs of guidance and Divine Signs, which discriminate between truth and falsehood… (Ch.2:V.186)
It is a decisive discourse. (Ch.86:V.14)
…There is no doubt in it… (Ch.2:V.3)
We have not revealed to thee the Book except that thou mayest expound to them that in which they differ and as a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe. (Ch.16:V.65)
It comprises lasting commandments. (Ch.98:V.4) Falsehood cannot approach it from fore or aft… (Ch.41:V.43)
It is manifest proof for people and a guidance and a mercy for a people who have faith.(Ch.45:V.21)
…Then leaving aside Allah and His Signs, what is it that they will believe. (Ch.45:V.7)
Say: With Allah’s Grace and His Mercy. Let them rejoice in this. It is better than that which they amass. (Ch.10:V.59)
The meaning of these verses is that this Qur’an guides to the way which is straight. It contains teachings about true worship for people who worship. It reminds the righteous of the perfection of righteousness. It is the acme of wisdom. It is certain truth and contains the exposition of everything. It is light upon light and is a healing for the minds. The Gracious One has taught the Qur’an. He has revealed the Book which is the truth and is a balance for weighing the truth. It is guidance for mankind and contains the exposition of guidance. It discriminates between truth and falsehood by its reasoning. It is a decisive discourse and free from doubt. We have revealed it to thee so that it might decide matters concerning which there is difference and so that believers may be provided with guidance and mercy. It comprises all the verities which were contained in the previous books in a scattered form. Falsehood cannot approach it from fore or aft. It comprises clear proof for people and is a guidance and a mercy for those who have faith. Then leaving aside Allah and His Signs, in what discourse will you believe? (It follows that if a Hadith is contradictory of the Holy Qur’an, it must be rejected. If it can be interpreted as being in accord with the Holy Qur’an, it might be accepted). Tell them that by the Grace and Mercy of Allah this Qur’an is a precious possession which you should accept with joy. It is better than the properties which you gather together.
This is an indication that no property is as valuable as knowledge and wisdom. This is the wealth concerning which it had been prophesied that the Messiah would distribute it so much that people will have their fill of it. The prophecy does not mean that the Messiah would collect together material wealth concerning which it has been said: Your properties and your progeny are a trial (Ch.8:V.29); and that he would deliberately throw people into trial by distributing wealth among them. In his first advent also the Messiah felt no attraction towards worldly wealth. He has stated in the Gospel that the property of a believer is not gold and silver, but is the jewels of verities and understanding. This is the property that is bestowed by God Almighty on the Prophets, which they distribute. It is concerning this property that the Holy Prophet(saw) said: I am a distributor and Allah is the Bestower. It is related in the Ahadith that the Promised Messiah would come into the world when knowledge of the Qur’an will be lost and ignorance will prevail. That is the time which is referred to in the Hadith: If faith ascends to the Pleiades it will be brought down by a man of Persia. It has been revealed to me in a vision that the climax of that age will begin in the Hijri year which corresponds to the value of the letters of the verse: And We have the power to take it away (Ch.23:V.19); which amounts to 1274. Consider this well and do not pass over it in haste and supplicate God that He should open your minds to it. The Ahadith state that in the latter days the Qur’an will be taken away from the world and its knowledge will be lost and ignorance will prevail and the eagerness and sweetness of faith will depart from the hearts. Among them is the Hadith that if faith will ascend to the Pleiades and will disappear from the earth, a man of the Persians will extend his hand and will bring it down. This Hadith shows clearly that when ignorance and faithlessness and error, which are described as smoke in the other Ahadith, will become widespread and true faith will become so rare as if it had been drawn up to the skies, and the Holy Qur’an will be abandoned as if it had been raised towards God Almighty, at that time, a man of Persia will take hold of the faith from the Pleiades and will descend with it to the earth. Be sure, therefore, that he is the son of Mary(as) who was to descend [Izalah i Auham, (Amritsar, Riyaz Hind Press 1308 A.H.); Now published in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984), Vol. 3, pp. 651-659].