The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement Blog


New area: Miracles, Myths, Mistakes and MattersSee Title Page and List of Contents

latest, 6th July 2017: The Triad of Death, Heaven and Hell – All in a Day’s Work


See: Project Rebuttal: What the West needs to know about Islam

Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

Read: Background to the Project

List of all Issues | Summary 1 | Summary 2 | Summary 3‎ — completed, 28th June 2013


November 30th, 2011

Issue 31

Issue 31 [@ 28:01]: Abdullah Al-Araby, Directory, The Pen vs. Sword Publications – “There is no assurance of what is known in Christianity as salvation and insurance of being saved and guaranteeing going to heaven. However, there are certain things that can help. So, if a Muslim, for instance, died while he was practicing Jihad, he is supposed to go to paradise.”

Rebuttal 31: In Islam there are no false hopes of unearned and undeserved salvation myths of Christianity, yet there are assurances of salvation from within one’s deeds. The ground rules of reward in Islam are based upon the secular principles outlined in the verses below that run congruent to reason. These rules are independent of one’s religion or creed and are solely incumbent on individual responsibility. In Islam there is no salvation on the shoulders of others:

53:38. — that no bearer of burden bears another’s burden,
53:39. and that man can have nothing but what he strives for,
53:40. and that his striving will soon be seen,
53:41. then he will be rewarded for it with the fullest reward, [Muhammad Ali – Ed. Zahid Aziz]

Salvation in Islam is sampled by the deserving in this world before they move on to hereafter:

2:25. And give good tidings to those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, that there await them gardens from beneath which the streams flow. Every time they are given any kind of fruit from them (– the gardens) to eat, they will say, `This is the same we were given before.’ They will be given it (– the fruit) in perfect semblance (to their deeds). They shall have therein companions purified (spiritually and physically), and will abide therein for ever. [Nooruddin]

Similarly, those not on a salvation path can sample the impending disappointment in this very world by their spiritual and moral blindness:

17:72. And whoever is blind in this (world) he will be blind in the Hereafter, and further away from the path. [Muhammad Ali – Ed. Zahid Aziz]

Mr Al-Araby inadvertently takes this documentary into a discussion of comparative salvation between Christianity and Islam, which necessitates a break down of the issue. First the Islamic view of salvation is expounded which is then compared against erroneous doctrine of Christian salvation. Lastly we deal with whether Muslims have monopoly on salvation irrespective of Jihad.

The issue raised by Mr. Al-Araby brings to light the fundamental flaw of Christianity i.e. “assurance of salvation” by an act of someone who died two millenniums ago. Salvation if seen through the lens of Christianity is no more than a mythology that banks on myth of atonement, a concept beyond human reason and sensibilities. The rebuttal of the current Issue is factually the rebuttal of Atonement. This subject was quite succinctly dealt by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in his book – “The Four Questions Answered” [pub. 1897]. Below are excerpted paragraphs of the section titled “Salvation” that was one of the answers to a set of questions by Sirajuddin, a Christian. The salvation question that was asked – According to the Christian belief, Christ came to the world for the love of mankind and to offer himself as sacrifice for its sake. Can the mission of the Founder of Islam be described in similar terms? Or can his mission be described in words even better than ‘love’ and ‘sacrifice’?


Rebuttal 31a: Firstly, basis of salvation in Islam –

The real purpose of the question is to ask whether the Quran presents an example of an accursed sacrifice for the salvation of sinners similar to the one allegedly made by Jesus Christ. According to the Christian belief, Jesus Christ appeared on this earth for the love of sinners. He took on the curse of their sins and was then crucified for these sins. The questioner then asks that if the Quran does not give a similar example, does it present any better method for the salvation of mankind?

The Quranic route to salvation is not through an accursed sacrifice:

Let it be known, Mr. Sirajuddin, that the Quran does not give any example of an accursed sacrifice. It is against the Quranic principle for the sins, or curse, of one person to be transferred to another, and the question of the transference of the sins of millions of people onto one person just does not arise. The Holy Quran states explicitly: “That no bearer of a burden bears another’s burden” (53:38). According to the teachings of the Ouran. deeds are the basis of reward and punishment.

Before I explain the Quranic teachings about salvation, I consider it essential to expose the errors in the Christian doctrine. This would facilitate comparison for those desirous of doing a comparative study between the Christian and Muslim teachings on the subject of salvation.

Ascribing an accursed death to Jesus is perverse:

The Christian doctrine is that God so loved humanity that He transferred the sins of transgressors, unbelievers and evildoers to His beloved Son, Jesus, as part of a plan for the salvation of mankind. Jesus was, thus, cursed with the sins of humanity and crucified on the accursed cross to rid the earth of the curse of sin. This doctrine is perverse and shameful in every way. From the standpoint of justice, such an action is flagrantly cruel. Human conscience revolts against the idea of an innocent person being punished for the wickedness of criminals. From the standpoint of spiritual philosophy and the reality of sin, too, this doctrine is fallacious. Sin is, in actuality, a poison that is created when a person cuts himself from submission to God, His love and His remembrance. Just as an uprooted tree, cut off from its nutrients, withers slowly and loses its green foliage, so also does a man, cut off from the love of Allah, withers as sin overpowers him. God has provided three remedies to stop the spiritual withering of man.

Three safeguards from sin:

The three safeguards from sin are:

1. Love of God.

2. Istighfar, which literally means the desire to suppress cover sin. In the analogy of the tree given above, if the tree is firmly rooted, there is always the hope of a new foliage. (For a person who seeks forgiveness of Allah, there is hope of a new spiritual life.)

3. Taubah or repentence, which implies vigorously searching for elixir of life by turning to Allah, exerting to get near to Him, and extricating oneself from the web of sin by performing acts of virtue. Real repentance is not just a verbal confession of sin but a change to righteous behavior in which all acts of virtue are done to enhance the efficacy of repentance. Thus, the essence of repentance is the desire to get close to God. Prayer is also repentance because with it, too, we seek nearness to God. Consequently, when God gave life to man, He named his spirit Ruh, which implies that it’s real pleasure and comfort is derived from accepting, loving and submitting to God, and He named his soul nafs [The dictionary meaning of nafs is “the very thing itself”] because of its conformity with God. Man’s real happiness lies in the love of God. A person who loves God is like a firmly rooted tree in a garden. Just like the free sucks in water from the soil and uses it to rid itself of toxic vapors, so also does the man, who has a close association with God, sucks in the water of God’s love and with it develops the ability to rid himself of the poison of sin. He receives pure spiritual sustenance from God, thrives, blossoms and brings forth good fruits. Those who are not rooted in God are unable to obtain this life sustaining water. They progressively wither, ultimately the leaves fall off and there remains only the dried up, ugly branches. Since this aridity of sin is a result of severance from God, the simple antidote, to which the laws of nature bear testimony, is the establishment of a firm connection with Him. It is to this that God refers when He states in the Quran:

“O soul that art at rest,
Return to thy Lord, well pleased, well-pleasing,
So enter among My servants,
And enter My Garden!” (89:27-30)

The sole antidote of sin is love of God:

In short, the only way to divest sin is through the love of God. Accordingly, all acts of virtue that spring from His love douse the flames of sin because they affix a seal of authenticity on man’s love for God. The first stage of this love is to accept God in a way that puts His pleasure before everything else, including one’s own life. This first stage is similar to the state of a newly planted tree. The second stage is that of istighfar, which means seeking God’s protection from being rend asunder from Him – for a person divorced from God is an easy prey to human frailties. This stage is similar to the stage of the tree when it vigorously penetrates the soil and establishes its roots firmly in the ground. The third stage is that of taubah or repentance, which is akin to the stage of the tree when it extends its roots close to the water and begins to suck it. Philosophically, the genesis of sin lies in being distant from God, and hence the extrication of sin depends upon reestablishing a relationship with God. It is indeed naive to consider that someone’s suicide can be a salvation from sin.


Rebuttal 31b: Secondly, refutation of salvation doctrine of Christianity –

A Rebuttal of the Belief of Atonement:

It is, indeed, ridiculous for a person to injure his own head in sympathy for another’s headache or to commit suicide to save another. I do not think that any wise person, anywhere in the world, can classify such conduct as an act of human sympathy. Undoubtedly, human sympathy is meritorious, and enduring an ordeal to save another is an act of great bravery. But is the conduct ascribed to Jesus the proper way to bear such ordeals? If Jesus had not committed suicide but had borne suffering, like any rational man, to bring comfort to those in need of it, then the world would have benefited from his person. As an analogy, consider a homeless destitute who cannot afford to construct a house. If some mason takes pity and works vigorously for a few days, free of charge, to make the poor man a house, then, indeed, such a builder is deserving of praise for having helped the homeless person. Instead, if the mason was to wound his own head out of sympathy for the destitute, then this accomplishes nothing for the homeless person. Unfortunately, there are very few people in this world who adopt reasonable means to achieve the end of doing good to others and taking mercy on them. If it is true that Jesus committed suicide out of a belief that his death would save the people, then his condition is pitiable, and his conduct, far from being publicized, deserves to be concealed.

The Christian belief in atonement is regrettable because of the disrespect that it shows to Jesus. In fact, by establishing this principle, the Christian nation is guilty of showing greater disrespect to its prophet than has ever been shown by any other nation to its prophet or messenger. According to the Christian philosophy, the creed that Jesus came to this world for the love of humanity and sacrificed his life for it has meaning only if one believes that Jesus was cursed by the sins of mankind and was crucified on the accursed cross. Thus, it is an integral part of the Christian belief that Jesus was cursed, even if only for three days, and if Jesus is not considered cursed, then the belief in his sacrifice and the consequent salvation collapses. The whole superstructure of this doctrine rests on the accursed Jesus. Consequently, we have previously referred to the sacrifice of Jesus as an accursed sacrifice. Sin caused the curse, and the curse led to the crucifixion. What needs to be ascertained though is whether a righteous person can be considered accursed in any sense?

The Christians consider Jesus as cursed, even if for three or lesser days, but this is a grave error because the term cursed connotes the inner condition of the accursed person. A person is called accursed when he turns away and becomes an enemy of God. Accordingly, the Arabic word la ‘in (accursed) is the name of Satan and the term la ‘nah (cursed) means to be cast off from a relationship of favor. The word ‘accursed’ is used for a person whose heart has strayed far from submission and love of God, and, in reality, such a person has become an enemy of God. All lexicographers accept this as the meaning of the word la ‘nah (accursed).

Implications of Jesus being accursed:

According to this established meaning, to say that Jesus was accursed connotes that he abandoned the state of submission, love, and knowledge of God and became a target of His wrath.

It signifies that in the accursed period, Jesus apostatized, turned rebellious and became akin to the devil, resulting in mutual enmity and anger between him and God. Such a belief in respect of Jesus is akin to making him a companion of Satan. No one, save a very wicked person, can hold such a belief about a righteous Prophet.

Since the belief that Jesus was accursed is thus shown to be erroneous, it follows that a belief in the accursed sacrifice is false too, and merely a concoction of some ignorant persons. If salvation is only achievable by first making Jesus into an angry, satanical rebel, then a curse be on such salvation. It was better for the Christians to accept hell rather than to make a beloved of God into a devil. What a pity that these people have relied upon such absurd and unholy reasoning. On the one hand, they claim he is the son of God, His offshoot and a part of Him and on the other, they brand him as a devil because of being accursed, a characteristic peculiar to the devil. La ‘in, meaning accursed, is the name of the devil and accursed is one who is an offshoot of the devil, part of the devil and himself a devil. Thus according to the Christian belief, there were two facets of Jesus, one divine, and the other satanical. In the satanical phase, he imbibed the devilish qualities of rebellion, anger, and enmity with God, and thereby merged his personality with the devil. I ask you, Mr. Sirajuddin, to state honestly whether this alleged mission of Jesus is even remotely spiritual or rational. Can there be a worse belief than alleging, merely for the sake of achieving righteous person of God was disobedient to Him, His enemy, and a devil? Why would God, Who is All Powerful and Merciful, need such an accursed sacrifice?

Can belief in the accursed sacrifice deliver one from sin?

The absurdity of the accursed sacrifice doctrine is apparent. It runs counter to the ancient teachings of the Torah, as passed down through successive generations. It espouses the transferability of sin. It alleges that a righteous person was accursed, forsaken and cut off from God, and became like minded with the devil. Notwithstanding these apparent shortcomings, the doctrine must still be examined to see if any benefits accrued to its adherents from believing in it. Did they eschew sin or were their sins forgiven?

Facts belie any claim that a belief in this doctrine restrains a person from sin and advances moral purification. According to Christian belief, David believed in the Redemption of Jesus. However, they also allege that subsequent to this belief (we seek refuge in Allah from saying so), David killed an innocent man [II Samuel, 12:9], committed adultery with the murdered man’s wife [II Samuel, 11:4], misappropriated State funds for personal needs, married one hundred wives, and sinned most audaciously every thy, repeating those sins till his last days. If the accursed sacrifice of Jesus can make people desist from sin, then David should not have been so steeped in sin as they allege against him. Similarly, according to the Christian tradition, three ladies from the maternal ancestry of Jesus committed adultery [Matthew’s genealogical table of Jesus, and the Old Testament with reference to Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba which, however, we strongly repudiate.]. It is obvious that if a belief in the accursed sacrifice causes internal purification, these ladies from Jesus’ own ancestry would not have committed these shameful sins. The disciples of Jesus too, even after their belief, committed shameful acts of sin. Judas Iscariot sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and Peter cursed him on his face three times, while the rest of the disciples took to their heels. It is obvious that cursing a prophet is a great sin. There is hardly any need to mention the widespread prevalence of fornication and drinking in the Western civilization. In one of my previous articles, I have referred to news reports from European papers about the adulterous affairs of many reputed Christian priests. It is apparent from all these events that belief in the accursed sacrifice is incapable of delivering man from sin.

Doctrine of accursed sacrifice opens the floodgate of sin:

A second aspect of this doctrine is that a belief in the doctrine results in forgiveness of all sins even if freedom from sin is not achieved. Such a belief gives total freedom to wicked persons to proceed against the property, life, and honor of peaceful citizens by any means they desire, such as killing, theft, false testimony and embezzlement. A simple belief in the accursed sacrifice can then wash off these heinous sins against these innocent persons and enable the perpetrators to enjoy their ill gotten gains. Similarly, adulterers can keep on living in the impure state of adultery and by a mere admission of belief in the accursed sacrifice save themselves from accountability before God. It is obvious that this cannot be so. To commit these heinous crimes and then to seek refuge behind the accursed sacrifice is nothing but the way of the wicked.

It appears that even Paul began to suspect that this was not an appropriate belief Hence he remarked:

“Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” [Romans 6:9,10]

The statement above suggests that the sacrifice of Jesus is for the first sin and Jesus cannot be crucified a second time. This statement, however, puts Paul in great difficulty. If it is true that the sacrifice of Jesus is only for the first sin, then it follows, for example, that Prophet David will be eternally damned. According to the Christians, he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and kept her in his house, without God’s permission, to the end of his life. This lady is from the holy maternal lineage of Mary and a grandmother several generations removed of Jesus. In addition, David had about a hundred wives which, according to the Christians, is not allowable. These sins were not committed just once but were repeated daily. Since the accursed sacrifice is no immunity against committing sin, it follows that among the Christians too there are many repeat sinners, i.e., persons who sin after their first sin. According to the principle laid down by Paul, sins repeated after the first time are not forgivable and their punishment is eternal damnation.

There is no need to go far in search of an example, Mr. Sirajuddin, just consider your own situation. Mr. Sirajuddin, originally a Muslim, first accepted the son of Mary as the son of God and was baptized into the belief of the accursed sacrifice. Then he came to Qadian and converted back to Islam after affirming that he had been hasty in getting baptized. He began to say the Muslim prayers and acknowledged many times before me that he now understood the absurdity of the doctrine of atonement and considered it false. After his return from Qadian, he was again ensnared into the Christian missionaries’ trap and converted yet again to Christianity. This calls for reflection by faith. This, according to the Christian belief, is a cardinal sin and in line with the saying of Paul, this sin, having been committed for a second time, is unforgivable because it requires a second crucifixion.

It could be argued that Paul was either mistaken or lied outright in curtailing the doctrine of atonement, and that, in fact, a belief in accursed sacrifice nullifies all sins. If this argument is accepted, then such a faith, which has no accountability for any kind of sin, including theft, adultery, lies, murder, and embezzlement, will nurture sinfulness. It will be quite appropriate for the law enforcement agencies to require a guarantee of good behavior from the followers of a faith that has this belief.

Since this open invitation to sinfulness must, of necessity, be rejected, the only resort is to backtrack to the first argument that a believer in the accursed sacrifice achieves moral purity and deliverance from sin. However, this argument has already been shown to be fallacious and was rebuffed with the help of examples from the Christian scriptures about the alleged sins of Prophet David, the grandmothers of Jesus, and the disciples of Jesus. We have also mentioned news reports about the sinful ways of some Christian priests. In addition, all knowledgeable persons are fully aware of the depraved moral condition of the Western civilization.

Despite the above reasoning, if someone, to make an argument, cites the holy life of a Christian, what is the guarantee that the person is actually sinless? Many scoundrels, embezzlers, adulterers, shameless drunkards and atheists superficially lead lives of apparent purity, but, from within, these men are like sepulchers enclosing nothing but offensive carcasses and bones.

Effect of religion on human faculties:

The Gospels do not delve into the issue of how religion affects human faculties because the Gospels lack a scientific approach to problems. The Quran, however, comments on this issue repeatedly and in great detail. It states that the objective of religion is not to change the natural faculties of man and to show that a wolf can be turned into a sheep. It is outside the power of religion to do this but it can and does provide guidance for the right use of faculties according to the requirements of the situation. It is also within the competence of religion to advise the use of all faculties, rather than to emphasize reliance only on a particular sub set like mercy and forgiveness because none of the human faculties are inherently evil. It is only the excessive or deficient use of faculties, or their misuse, which is bad. A person is culpable, not for the natural faculties he is endowed with, but for their misuse. Thus, God, the Supreme Dispenser, has endowed to all nations an equal measure of natural faculties. Just as physical features like nose, eyes, mouth, hands and feet, are given to persons of all nations, so too is the dispensation of the internal faculties. Accordingly, in every nation there are good and evil persons depending upon whether they have used their faculties moderately or have been excessive or deficient in their use.

The credit for the level of goodness and civilness in a society cannot automatically be ascribed to the prevalent religion of the community because much of it may be the result of a natural dispensation. The level of civic goodness of a community is, therefore, not a reliable test for the efficacy and truthfulness of a religion. A necessary and sufficient test for this purpose is that there exist in some perfect followers of that religion spiritual excellence unparalleled in followers of other religions. I state with great emphasis that Islam alone meets this test. Islam has propelled thousands of its adherents to that elevated spiritual life where it can be claimed that the spirit of God dwells in them. They accept the light of God and become a manifestation of His splendor. Such people have been found among the Muslims in all centuries and their pure life is not without proof, or merely their own claim, but God gives testimony to it.


Rebuttal 31c: Thirdly, no religion holds monopoly on salvation –

All nations have good and bad natured persons:

It would be incorrect to assume that all individuals are naturally inclined to goodness in some nations and to evil in others. God ordained laws of nature ensure dispensation of both kinds of persons in all nations. Each nation has its share of ill natured, immoral, malicious and wicked persons, just like it has its share of noble natured, moral, good character, and pious persons. There is no nation that is not subjected to this law of nature, be they Hindus, Parsis, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists or even those who belong to the so called low castes of India. As nations progress in civilization and culture, the moral system begins to emphasize honor, knowledge and dignity. This creates the environment in which persons with basic goodness of nature are recognized in the community for their piety and noble character and become role models for others. No nation is devoid of such persons. Unless a natural inclination to goodness already exists in a person, a mere conversion to another religion will not create it because the instinctive nature of man created by God does not change. It will have to be admitted by all genuine seekers of truth that nature doles out a basic disposition and religion only provides a framework for the appropriate control and use of this disposition. Thus, some persons have a greater portion of meekness and affection in their disposition and others more of harshness and anger. The role of religion is to divert the fruits of basic goodness, such as love, obedience, sincerity and faithfulness, which idolaters feel for their idols or worshippers of men feel for their incarnate deities, to God and to make such persons show the same obedience to Him as had formerly been shown by them to their deities.

Quran does not let any one religion have monopoly on salvation. Instead, Islam cuts through to the core of salvation, which is solely based upon individual righteousness:

2:110. And keep up prayer and give the due charity. And whatever good you send on ahead for yourselves, you will find it with Allah. Surely Allah is Seer of what you do.
2:111. And they say: None shall enter the Garden except he who is a Jew, or the Christians. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.

Footnote – What is said here may be expanded thus: The Jews say that none shall enter the Garden except a Jew and the Christians say that none shall enter the Garden except the Christians. Both degraded religion to a belief in a set of doctrines, and leading a life of righteousness was not considered as of the essence of religion.

2:112. No, whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others), he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for such nor shall they grieve.

Footnote – Their assertions that only the Jews and the Christians will be saved are groundless. It is entire submission to God and the doing of good to His creatures that is the true source of salvation, and that is what ‘Islam’ means according to the Holy Quran. The name Islam is derived from aslama, meaning ‘submission’ or ‘entering into peace’.

2:62. Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they have their reward with their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

5:69. Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians — whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good — they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. [Muhammad Ali – Ed. Zahid Aziz]

Mr. Al-Araby myopically states – “So, if a Muslim, for instance, died while he was practicing Jihad, he is supposed to go to paradise.” Meanings and significance of Jihad have been fully dealt with in Issue 27 before. The above verses set the standards of salvation which includes does good and doer of good (to others) by action, which is the true spirit of Jihad. Thus a Jihad for a Muslim could be fighting cancer in the research laboratory or poverty on the street. As far as the attacks and counter attacks in Middle East or Afghanistan between occupiers and occupied are concerned, suffice is to say that it is a state of war. We will let Human Rights Watch decide who is right or wrong and history will be the final judge for each party. In a similar situation before, the definition of “Good Guys” changed with time between inception, continuance and cessation of war in Vietnam. Villains of yesteryear are heroes of today and vice versa. Only time will tell. But, no matter what, the meaning and significance of Jihad of doer of good (to others) by action will remain unchanged till eternity.

References:

The Four Questions Answered – Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
The Holy Quran – Noourddin
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz

Leave a Reply