Respect for All Religions and Holy PersonagesNo Comments | November 2012
The impact of the recent anti-Islamic film on YouTube rippled across the globe. Hard-line proponents of free speech argued that people should be left completely free to speak their mind; regardless of how insulting or deriding it may be to others. On the other hand, many Muslims have protested violently to the film, causing widespread damage and destruction. Here, we present the approach presented by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas to attaining peace in the world, which is based on the true teachings of Islam. Hazrat Ahmadas claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi whose advent was prophesised in the Qur’an and by the Holy ProphetMuhammadsa and whose task would be to revive the true teachings of Islam at a time when Muslims would no longer follow them. Although Hazrat Ahmadas originally addressed this treatise to Queen Victoria on her Diamond Jubilee, the principles and ideas he presented are precisely applicable to the present-day state of affairs in the world, and thus we urge our readers to reflect on this critical message.
To introduce myself, I deem it necessary to state that, from among the subjects of Her Majesty, I am a member of an honoured family of the Punjab. I am known as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. My father was Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, his father was Mirza Ata Muhammad, and his father was Mirza Gul Muhammad. The latter was a ruler in an earlier period in time. As will be described later, God took me in His service, and as He has been conversing with His people since ancient times, He honoured me, too, with His converse and communication. He established me upon utmost pristine principles which are beneficial to humanity. One of the principles upon which I have been established is the following: God has informed me that of the religions which have spread and are firmly established in the world through Prophets, holding sway over a part of the world and achieving survival and long life, none was false in its origin. Nor were any of those Prophets false, because it is the eternal practice of God that a false prophet who lies against God—who is not from God, but dares to forge things from him—never prospers. God destroys such an audacious person who says that he is from God while God knows full well that he is not from Him. All his machinations are shattered, all of his followers are disbanded, and his future is worse than his past because he told a lie against God and brazenly maligned God. God does not give him the honour that is given to the righteous, and neither does He grant him the acceptance and stability, which is reserved for the true prophets.
The question may arise that if this is the case then why did those religions spread in the world in whose books creatures—such as humans, stones, angels, sun, moon, stars, fire, water or air, etc.—have been accepted as deities? The answer is that such religions are either from people who did not claim to be prophets and recipients of divine revelation and communication, but were inclined towards creature-worship through the falsity of their own thinking and understanding; or there were some religions whose foundation was in fact laid by a true prophet of God but their true teachings were forgotten with the passage of time. The followers of the latter turned to creature-worship by taking some similes or parables literally. The fact is that those prophets did not teach such a religion. It is not the fault of those prophets, as they brought a wholesome and pure teaching; rather, the ignorant followers assigned perverted meaning to their statements. Such ignorant people did not claim that God’s word descended on them or that they were prophets. Rather, they misunderstood and misinterpreted the prophetic word. Though such mistakes and deviations are a sin and are hateful to God, yet He does not stop their proliferation as He stops the work of a liar who lies against God. No government, whether heavenly or earthly, gives respite to a liar who fabricates a law and claims that it is authenticated by the government. A government would never allow someone to pose as a government employee and exercise authority and make people believe that he is a government official when not only is he not an officer, he is not even a lowly employee.
Therefore, this law is part of the eternal practice of Almighty God that He does not grant respite to a false prophet. Such a person is soon seized and suffers his punishment. In view of this, we shall honour and accept as true all those who claimed to be prophets at any time, and their claim was established and their religion became widespread and flourished over a long period. If we should discover mistakes in the scriptures of their religions or should observe the misconduct of their followers, we should not attribute these faults and shortcomings to the founders of these religions, inasmuch as the perversion of scriptures is possible and it is possible that mistakes of interpretation might find their way into the commentaries. But it is not at all possible that a person should fabricate lies against God and claim to be a prophet and then put forward his own compositions as the word of God falsely, and yet God should grant him respite like the righteous and allow him wide acceptance worthy of the truthful.
Therefore, this principle is an ultimate truth and endless blessing, and withal lays the foundation for conciliation, in that we affirm the truthfulness of all prophets whose religion has been well-established, has survived for a long time period and has had millions enter its fold. This is a very blessed principle. If all of the world were to adhere to this fundamental principle, thousands of disorders and blasphemies, which disturb the peace among the general public, would be eradicated. It is apparent that people who consider the adherents of a religion to be following a person, who, in their view, is a liar and fabricator, lay the foundation of many tribulations. They certainly commit the crimes of defamation and speak of the prophets with extremely disrespectful words, going as far as employing abusive language, and disrupt harmony and peace among the general public; notwithstanding that their estimation is wrong and they are transgressors in the eyes of God with regard to their disrespectful views. God, who is Merciful and Beneficent, does not like that a liar should prosper unfairly and then put people in doubt by establishing his own religion. Nor does He allow that, in the eyes of the world, a person be raised to the level of a true prophet while he is a fabricator and a liar.
Therefore, this principle lays down the foundation of love, peace and harmony, and supports moral values, in that we consider all those prophets true who appeared in the world—whether in India, or Persia or China or any other country. God instilled their respect and grandeur in the hearts of millions and made firm the roots of their religion, which remained established for centuries. This is the principle that the Qur’an teaches us. In light of this principle, we honour all religious founders who fall under this description whether they are the founders of the religion of the Hindus, or the religion of the Persians, or the religion of the Chinese, or the religion of the Jews or the religion of the Christians. Unfortunately, our adversaries cannot treat us this way, and they do not bear in mind the pristine and unalterable law of God that He does not give that blessing and honour to a false prophet that He bestows upon the true one. The religion of a false prophet does not take root and does not last long as does the religion of a truthful prophet.
Therefore, people subscribing to this kind of belief—who defame the prophets of other nations by declaring them false—are always enemies of peace and harmony, because there is no greater mischief than abusing the elders of other nations. Sometimes a person would rather die than hear disparaging words for his elders. If we have an objection over the teaching of a religion, we should not attack the honour of the prophet of that religion or mention him in an unseemly manner. Rather, we should object only on the current practices of that nation. We should be certain that the prophet whom God Almighty has graced with the honour of acceptance by millions, and whose acceptance has continued for centuries, is thus firmly proven to be from Allah. If he were not the beloved of God, he would not have achieved so much respect. It is not the practice of God to grant honour to a fabricator, to spread his religion among millions, and to safeguard the fabricated religion for a long time.
Therefore, a religion which spreads in the world, takes root, and finds honour and long life, cannot at all be false in its origin. Therefore, if anything in that teaching is found objectionable, it can either be because the teachings of that prophet have been altered, or because a mistake has been made in the explanation of his teachings. It is also possible that we may not be justified in our objections. It may be observed that some priests raise objections about certain tenets in the Holy Qur’an, even though they believe them to be true and as the teachings of God according to the Torah. Therefore, such objections are due to one’s own mistake or due to haste.
In summary, welfare of humanity, peace, harmony, righteousness, and fear of God call for adhering to the principle that we do not declare such prophets as false concerning whose truth the opinion of millions of people for centuries has been established, and they have been supported by God since time immemorial. I am confident that a seeker of truth, whether Asian or European, will cherish this principle, and will profoundly regret that he did not believe in it all along.
I place this principle before Her Majesty, the Queen, the Empress of India and England because only this principle can spread peace in the world. This is our principle. Islam is proud to be unique in subscribing to this beautiful and handsome principle. Is it befitting that we malign the sages to whom God has subjugated a world and to whom kings have been bowing for centuries? Is it befitting that we be distrustful of God, thinking that He wants to deceive people by giving the status of the truthful to the liars, making them the sages of millions, giving their religions long lives and showing heavenly signs in their favour? If God Himself were to deceive us then how could we differentiate right from wrong?
This is an important tenet: a false prophet should not achieve the grandeur, acceptance and greatness as that of a truthful one. Prosperity should not result from the plans of liars as it does from the activities of a truthful one. That is why the first sign of the truthful is that perpetual support is with the truthful, and God plants his religion in the hearts of millions, and grants it long life. Therefore, keeping in view the day of our passing away and the day of recompense, we should not malign such a great sage; rather, we should garner true respect and true love for a prophet who carries such signs. This is the first principle which God has taught us. Through this we have become inheritors of a great moral code…1
…I also dare to make another submission. It is evident from the historical records that when the third of the Roman Caesars ascended the throne, and had firmly established his authority, he thought of organising a debate among the two well-known sects among the Christians, one who believed in the Oneness of God and the other that considered Jesusas as God. The debate took place in the presence of the Caesar of Rome in good decorum and arrangement. Hundreds of chairs were laid to seat honoured observers and members of the government according to their status to listen to the debate. The debate of the priests from both sides lasted for forty days in the court of the king. The Roman Caesar listened to the arguments from both sides and pondered over them. In the end, the sect considering Jesusas, the Messiah, to be only a messenger of God and a prophet prevailed. The other sect faced such defeat that the Caesar disclosed in the gathering that he was drawn towards the sect believing in the Oneness of God due to their argument and not of his own consideration. Before leaving the gathering, he adopted the belief of the Oneness of God and became one of those mentioned also in the Holy Qur’an, and stopped using the phrase ‘son’ with reference to God. Thereafter, the next three Caesars who ascended the throne also believed in the Oneness of God. This shows that such conferences were a tradition of the Christian kings of the past and led to great changes. Pondering over such events, it is the earnest desire of my heart that our Empress of India may also hold such a conference presided from the throne. It would be a memorable spiritual event. This conference should be of a broader scope than that held by the Caesar of Rome, as our Honoured Empress has a higher status than the Roman Emperor. An additional reason for this request is that since the people of this country have come to know of the Conference of Religions in America, naturally hearts are excited that Your Majesty should also arrange such a conference in London so that, due to this event, groups of loyal subjects in this country and their leaders and scholars may meet Your Majesty at the capital; and so that Your Majesty’s eyes may also fall on the thousands of loyal subjects of British India, and so that respected citizens of India be seen in the streets and boulevards of London for a few weeks. It will be necessary that every participant present his faith’s excellences and not malign others. If such a conference takes place, it will be a legendary spiritual event from our Honoured Queen; and England, which has been fed with Islamic matters incorrectly, will be introduced to the true face of Islam. In this way, the people of England will be apprised of the true philosophy of every religion. It is not a satisfactory state of affairs that the information about the religions of India reaches England through priests, because the books of the priests which mention other religions are like a polluted drain of water containing much refuse and waste. The priests do not want to elicit the truth; rather they want to hide it. There is such an adulteration of prejudice in their writings that it is difficult, indeed impossible, that the real truth about religions should reach England. If they had good intentions, they would not have raised such objections on the Qur’an as can also be raised against the Torah of Mosesas. If they had fear of God, they would not have relied upon such books, which, in the view of Muslims, are unauthentic and devoid of definitive truths. Therefore, justice dictates that even if the whole of Europe were to be considered angelic, the priests would be an exception. The reason that the Christians of Europe look at Islam with hatred and dislike is that these same priests have been giving the lessons of hate by presenting unauthentic incidents. I do accept that the behaviour of some ignorant Muslims is not worthy and they have habits borne of ignorance, as some ferocious Muslims apply the term jihad to cruel bloodshed and they do not know that public’s rising against a just ruler is mutiny and not jihad. Severance of covenant, committing evil instead of good, and murder of the innocent, whoever commits such acts should be called an offender and not a hero.
These thoughts have been produced through the perverted interpretations of the priests. There is no sign of them in the Book of God. The Word of God declares the punishment of the sword for the ones who raise the sword and does not teach mutiny against the ones who establish peace, benefit the public, and give every people the rights of freedom. It is dishonesty to malign the Word of God. Therefore, it is highly desirable that for the good of humanity that a conference of religions be held by the Empress of India to disseminate the reality of religions.2
1 & 2. (A Gift for the Queen, Second Revised Edition, Islam International Publications Ltd. (2012), pp.25-31)