Articles of Faith
Iman, the word which in Arabic corresponds to faith,
means knowledge of a thing coupled with a conviction as to its truth
so strong as to incite us to strive our utmost to live up to it.
The word does not, in Quranic terminology, include beliefs which
cannot be translated into action, or are not concerned with action.
Consequently, belief in something accepted as verity on the basis
of a dogma does not come within the category of religious beliefs
in Islam. In fact, dogmatic doctrines have no significance for a
Muslim. Faith, however, in the Quranic sense of the word, plays
a most important part in moulding every human word or action. All
our movements are the portraits of such of our concepts as are based
upon sure and certain faith. Every item of our routine, however
insignificant, is but a motion picture of our belief in the existence
or the non-existence of things. Any change in such a belief straightaway
produces a change in the routine. Even a slight movement of our
lips, or of any other portion of the body, springs from some belief
or other. For instance, we cannot utter a word unless we believe
as well in the audibility and articulation of the sound we make
as in the ability of our hearer to hear and give to our words the
same meanings which they convey to us. Similar belief is always
present in our mind concerning everything that emanates from us.
This emphasizes the importance of a vigilant and wise choice of
faith in every avenue of our existence, since soundness of action
follows soundness of belief; and more especially is this so in our
religious beliefs, seeing that no other belief approaches them in
strength and in influence on the ordering of our life.
Beliefs of Religions Unsupported by Reason
Every religion lays down certain articles of faith as its basic principles,
demanding from its adherents an implicit faith therein. These basic
principles may or may not appeal to our intelligence, or serve any
useful purpose for us in this life, but it is nevertheless claimed
for them that they possess unique merits in securing salvation and
happiness in the life beyond the grave for those who hold them.
As to that life, almost every religion strikes the same note. Faith
in tenets diametrically opposed to each other in teaching have by
different religions been invested with similar merits that are to
accrue to the believer in his life after death. If a faith in the
divinity of A and B, for instance, brings salvation to the believer
according to one religion, it dooms him to everlasting punishment
in the life to come, according to the other. No religion, on the
other hand, has any decisively logical support for its assertions.
No one as yet has returned from behind the veil to bear witness
to the truth of his faith. Even seance-phenomena, apart
from all considerations of their futility or otherwise, are not
reliable evidence that such a thing has occurred. The French spiritualist,
for example, accepts the transmigration of the soul as a truth on
the strength of phenomenal testimony, while his colleague in England
will disbelieve in the doctrine on evidence precisely similar. Under
these circumstances I am forced to conclude that a religions
claim for belief in its doctrines should never be heeded, unless
those doctrines satisfy our intelligence and have been tested in
the crucible of utility as regards our present life.
Harmful Beliefs of some Religions
A plunge in the dark is a dangerous proceeding, but it is infinitely
more dangerous to believe in things that not only have no bearing
on our present life but sometimes are actually harmful in their effects
on the building of our character. By way of illustration I may refer
to doctrines like the Atonement, Predestination, Fatalism and the
Transmigration of the Soul. No one can prove any of these by reference
to anything in this present life. They may seem plausible to some,
but belief in them mainly concerns things as to which we are utterly
in the dark. On the other hand, they produce no wholesome effects
on this life, nor do they leave any incentive for action. In fact,
when taken literally they prompt no action at all.
Belief in Atonement
Fear of punishment is, in most cases, the only deterring influence
in crushing evil. The pressure of public opinion and legal penalties
are the great discouragers of wrong, and wherever they relax their
hold, evil begins to crop up. Thus, for example, prostitution, gambling
and drinking have been the curse of Christian nations, chiefly for
the above reasons. Public opinion in Christian lands is not strong
enough to stop evils, while legislation, on its criminal side, is
nearly silent on the subject. The fear of punishment in the life to
come acts as a deterrent in this respect in non-Christian races; but
this can hardly be so with believers in the Atonement. If God could
not find any other remedy for the cleansing of human sin than that
of sending His own sons from time to time to pay its penalty - since
Jesus was only the last of the Pagan Christs who came to give their
lives for human salvation - then there is no need of any good action
on our part. There are very few of us who pursue virtue for its own
sake. It is the reward of virtue, especially seen in its efficacy
in counterbalancing the effects of sin, that we fulfill the law and
lead a good life. But if the same thing is attainable merely by our
belief in the Grace of Blood, few would think it worthwhile to bear
the hardships and trials of the life of righteousness. Belief in the
Atonement obviates the necessity for action. So it was held by Luther.
Though the Romish Church attaches importance to good actions also,
yet logically Luther is in the right in his conclusions.
Belief in Fatalism and Re-incarnation
Similarly, our belief in Predestination - another Christian verity
- Fatalism and the Transmigration of the Soul, weakens such impulses
as we may have towards action. If everything in the form of pain and
pleasure in this life has already been chalked out for us in the past,
as the principle of the Transmigration of the Soul teaches, and no
effort on our part can alter what is to be, then no moral schemes
for avoiding adversity or achieving happiness are of the slightest
avail. Similarly, if evil follows a man as the shadow of his actions
in a past life, he need not strive to free himself from its hold,
since it is unavoidable. If, for example, he is suffering from fever
in consequence of some wrongdoing in his past incarnation under the
law of Karma, no medical skill can cure him. Nay, it obviates
any necessity for medical attention and, I may say, for the profession
itself. It would put a stop to all advancement in that branch of science,
and the same can be presumed in regard to other departments of human
activity. I admit that believers in these principles do not generally
show apathy towards progress. They are interested in it and sometimes
contribute to its advancement, but this only means that they do not
faithfully believe in things they hold as articles of faith. Their
actions belie their belief.
Universal Belief in a Deity
A word here on the subject of the existence of God will not be out
of place. Belief in the Deity has been universally the sine qua non
of religion from time immemorial. The worshipping instinct in man
has always found its gratification in directing his devotional feelings
to some kind of deity. Buddhism is an exception to this rule, since
no mention of God is contained in its scriptures. But the passion
for worshipping established its supremacy there very speedily. All
that is reserved for God in other religions goes to Buddha. All Buddhistic
countries teem with his images. Their temple is another house of worship
for idols, where the worshippers are seen sitting or standing before
the images of Lord Buddha, with the same postures and gesticulations
as are adopted elsewhere by the worshippers of God. Buddha is addressed
in the same terms and receives the same adoration and homage as are
ascribed by other religions to God.
In short, this passion for devotion to some supreme Being is the
dominant feature of mans mind. From a stone to a son of a
woman, he has adored various manifestations of nature as his God,
and he has been none the worse for it - seeing that he has been
able to keep a certain moral order under any system of worship.
The worship of idols has at times inspired him with noble and lofty
feelings, like those which have been observed in the most worthy
of the worshippers of God. Prayers addressed to images made by mans
own hands have in their beauty, grandeur and sincerity surpassed
even the devotional utterances of the holiest of monotheists while
adoring the Most High. The Vishnuvites, for example - a class of
Hindu idol worshippers in India - are often strict observers of
morality. Their piety sometimes surpasses the righteousness of a
Belief in One God should lead to Virtue
The tenets of Islam, however, supported by culture and progress, have
played havoc with old beliefs, and the futility of such old beliefs
has at last become exposed. They have lost all the force they once
possessed for the moulding of good character. The world at large is
on the high road to belief in Unity, and even those who, like the
Christians, still evince some sort of polytheistic tendencies, are
now almost prepared to apologize for them. Belief in the unity of
God in its purest form, when rendered into action in our daily life,
would - as I will de scribe later on - merely, without doubt, bring
our civilization to its climax; but a lip belief in the oneness of
God is in my humble opinion, less meritorious than the different forms
which polytheism has adopted in the cases above mentioned. Orthodoxy
may take strong exception to my statement, but I would make bold to
say that a polytheist who leads a virtuous life earns more merit in
the eye of the Lord than a wicked person with all his belief in the
unity of God.
I also say that I see no excellence in such a belief if it exerts
no influence in beautifying the character. It is useless to sing
hymns at the top of our voices if we are not leading, and do not
lead, godly lives. God does not stand in need of any adoration from
us; and if He does, He is not worthy of the great names with which
He is revered. I would go further than that; I would say that if
our worship of Him lies only in bringing offerings and sacrifices
to His altar, and in the recital of praises and thanks to Him, it
is neither creditable to God nor profitable to man. He is only another
fetish and the biggest in the world of religion. God should stand
above these things. He needs no praise from us. The Quran is very
explicit on the point. It says that our extolling or praising God
does not contribute to His glory, nor does blasphemy retract at
all from His grandeur and dignity. Our prayers to Him should consist
of such expressions, whether praise or thanksgiving to God or supplications
to Him for some favour, as may set us to work out our own power
and ability to our best advantage.
The Basic Muslim Prayer
In this respect my choice falls on the prayer that Islam prescribes
for a Muslim. It is the opening chapter of the Quran:
(All) praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
The Beneficent, the Merciful. Master of the day of requital. Thee
do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. Guide us on the right
path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours,
not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who go astray.
It begins with words of praise and thanksgiving, but if both these
actions do not go beyond the lips of the worshipper they are of
no avail in Islam.
The opening words of the Muslim prayer are: al-hamdu li-llahi rabbi-l-alamin,
meaning, All praises and thanksgiving are for God. The
word hamd in Arabic is very rich in meaning. It conveys four ideas.
First, the word has an exclusive use. It is reserved for the praise
of the Lord. Secondly, it conveys the idea of perfection; the worship
per sees in God all the best and most excellent attributes. Thirdly,
it expresses a longing desire on the part of the worshipper to possess
all such attributes to the extent of his abilities, and hence his
prayers for them. Fourthly, it means thanks, that is, for his possession
of capacity for cultivating such attributes in himself. In fact,
the action of praise psychologically consists of the said four ingredients.
Perfection in beauty, sublimity and goodness on the one side, and
our lack of them with desire to own them on the other, move our
admiration and praise for the owner of those excellencies; but we
never desire to possess a thing unless we own the ability to do
so, and hence our gratitude for it.
Thus the word hamd on the lips of a Muslim while at prayer is no
empty word of compliment that may please the ears of the Deity,
but a genuine expression of a genuine desire to mould his life on
Divine lines; and to this end the Muslims recite, after the word
hamd, four names of God which are the most beautiful among their
class. They are: Rabb, Rahman, Rahim and Malik-i-yaum-i-din. Each
of them, if followed by us, would make a millennium for the world.
Rabb means Creator, Nourisher, Maintainer and Bringer of faculties
to perfection. Rahman means All-Beneficent Lord whose blessings
go to all, unmerited, and undeserved, and not by way of compensation
for any good action but of His own goodness. Rahim means One who
rewards an action manifold. Malik means the owner or the king of
judgment, whose sentence of punishment is only for reclamation and
is not the fruit of anger on account of mans disobedience.
The beauty of these four attributes is that in them God does not
observe any distinction of class and creed among men. The God of
Islam is the God of all nations, who is impartial in the dispensation
of His blessings. I wish the rulers of the earth who hold sway over
other races could show so broadminded and liberal an attitude, for
then the burden of foreign rule would lose its curse. A Muslim says
his prayers five times a day, which reminds him of these four Divine
moulds in which he has to cast his daily life. High morality in
Islam consists in the reflection of Divine morals - a truth that
has recently dawned on the minds of Western theologians.
Next, the worshipper speaks of his service to God, and the best
religious service. According to Islam, this consists of doing actions
in conformity with the requirements of the Divine Names. The Prayer
then speaks of things for which a Muslim has to pray to his God.
He must not pray for earthly good, but for knowledge - knowledge
of the right path that may bring him under the grace and blessings
of God, and keep him away from wickedness and error.
Comparison of Deities
I have made a somewhat wide digression from my subject, but it was
not without its relevancy when dealing with the worshipping side of
our nature. I have said that if the worship of a deity produces no
moral effect on our life, it need not be pursued. Similarly, if adoring
one deity is equal in its results to the worshipping of another, the
choice among them is immaterial. By way of illustration I would take
man- worship from among the various forms of polytheism as being the
last and most refined. Jesus is the last of those favoured persons
who from time to time have been placed on the throne of God by their
fellow men. And here I would mention two other persons who besides
Jesus still command human allegiance as God. These are Krishna and
Rama-Chandra - the two Indian deities - who were adored as such a
thousand years before the birth of Christianity. Like Jesus, they
are Eastern and come of coloured races, but as gods they are superior
to him in many respects. They are more historic than the Nazarene.
They can claim more genuineness for their life-records, though these
were not free from folk-lore. Their precepts and other utterances
are, in general, more majestic, more awe-inspiring, and of greater
practical utility than visionary sermons from the Mount. Jesus came
of humble parentage and did not possess even a roof for shelter, but
if Rama-Chandra were a prince and later on a ruler, Krishna ruled
the destinies of kings in his time. Jesus had nothing to sacrifice,
as far as worldly possessions go, but the Indian gods gave up the
best of worldly things in the service of humanity. Jesus was crushed
by evil, but Rama-Chandra crushed evil, and Rudhra - another name
for Krishna - had been the crusher of evil throughout his life. The
actions ascribed to these great men by their narrators are transcendent.
They are like shadows of the powers of the Almighty while the Bible
is silent in the case of the sacred Carpenter in this respect. Undoubtedly
the worshippers of these Indian gods did not exhibit a high standard
of morals at certain periods of their history, but it is only fair
to point out that such periods corresponded with that period in the
history of the world - I compare the Middle Ages in Europe - when
every corner of it presented a horizon of moral darkness. Christianity
was no exception, but in many ways worse.
However, I look at the subject from a different angle. If we have
to seek our God in the incarnate form, I see no special reason for
giving precedence to Jesus over others. Our belief in him has not
helped mankind any more than the Hindu belief in Krishna and Rama-Chandra.
In one respect, Christianity has been woefully at fault. In the
matter of culture and civilization Christianity has proved an implacable
enemy to human advancement. It crushed science as long as it had
the power to do so, and would do the same today if the modern world
would suffer it. Only the other day the Bishop of Ripon proposed
to give scientific research a holiday for ten years. This was but
an echo of the old cry of tyranny and oppression that came from
the Church against culture and science in the Middle Ages, though
it is clothed in the euphemisms of modern refinement.
In short, if belief in the divinity of a man has not helped the
human race more than belief in the divinity of stones or elements
in the days of ignorance, it is as I have shown before, not worthy
of our further attention. Modern progress in the West should not
be taken as the fruit of mans faith in the Church dogmas.
The West made no progress so long as it was in the iron grip of
But even our belief in the Supreme Being, or the worship of God,
is of no consequence if it does not help in the betterment of our
race. Religion has been regarded as a necessary human institution
from the days of Adam and Eve. But it should be treated as a back
number if our pursuit of it possesses no utility. The whole question
depends on the articles of faith upon which a religion insists.
If it asks us to believe in such tenets as have come under discussion
in these pages, I think we are none the worse for dispensing with
it. But if it invites our faith in doctrines that bring out all
that is noble and good in us, and urges us to use all the powers
of nature, whether reposed in the human frame or in the rest of
the universe, to our best advantage, then religion becomes a most
essential human institution. I repeat, God is not in need of human
worship, but if our worship of Him inspires us to follow His ways
as they are to be observed in the universe, ways that work out the
best of civilization on righteous lines, it ought to be part and
parcel of our life. I would go to my God fifty times a day in such
a prayerful mood, though Islam prescribes but five prayers only.
Need and importance of Law
The greatest blessing that has come to us from science is our belief
in the existence of Law and that only our submission to it can bring
us to success and happiness. Law is the order of the time. Every atom
of nature and its various combinations, including the human frame,
owes its very existence and further development to implicit obedience
to Law. From the nebulous stage, up to the human frame, everything
is a slave to Law. Religion will be doing the greatest possible service
to humanity if it inspires man with a strong belief in Law. Virtue
and evil, both in their growth and origin, are commensurate with the
strength or weakness of our belief in Law and its forces. Criminality
comes to the surface in quarters where Law can be avoided without
fear of detection, and it becomes absolutely non-existent if we believe
in the inexorableness of its punishments.
If Law is all in all in this way, and our belief in it is the greatest
factor in the building of our character and in the achievement of
success, it needs our strong belief not only in its Maker, who invests
it with full force in its operation, but in many other things connected
with Law. Law demands as well the services of its functionaries,
who must keep it always in force, since without them it would be
but a dead-letter.
Again, Law, or such portion of it as rules human destinies, whether
discovered or revealed, should be preserved in such a form as may
be of service to all units of humanity. It has not fallen to the
lot of all men to make researches in the realms of Law, nor to be
inspired by the contemplation of its source. There are but a few
chosen persons of the human race who are favoured with this gift,
and it is their duty to guide and enlighten their fellow men. Again,
Law loses all its force, nor can it compel universal adhesion, unless
and until some reward or punishment comes inevitably to its fulfiller
or breaker. Lastly, there ought to be set times for such reward
and punishment - when the fruits of submission or disobedience to
Law should become manifest to all. Thus if Law is the lever of the
whole machinery in the universe, and our belief in it works wonders
for our progress, we should also, to make it a reality in our eyes,
believe in the Maker of the Law, its functionaries, its record,
and the custodians thereof. We must believe, too, in the reward
and the punishment ordained by such an administrative system.
For illustration, take any human institution that contributes to
our civilization and we shall find it revolving on the pivot of
the seven principles mentioned later, with Law as one of them. Take
the government of any country. No society, even in its most primitive
state, can work on healthy lines without some sort of government
acting in it as a sovereign political authority. It works through
its laws. It must have machinery to set them in motion. It must
reduce its laws to a record - they may be laws unwritten but imprinted
on the tablet of the human mind - and entrust them to intermediate
officials to convey to the general public. The government also needs
a court of law to administrate, etc. If the Law is a thing so important,
and I may say the only key to our advancement and perfection, it
should be the first duty of religion to inspire in us a strong stimulus
for respecting it. I find myself unable to attach any value to a
faith which lacks such incentive. I cannot imagine any greater harm
to the very fabric of human society than that which accrues to us
by reason of our belief in a doctrine that either weakens our sense
of responsibility or enervates our energy and divests us of motive
for action. A religion that belittles the importance of Law is best
For this reason I had to give up my belief in the Atonement and
other similar doctrines. I could not see, as I remarked before,
any necessity for believing even in God, if belief is not attended
with the results I have just mentioned. Law and its rules are the
main things in the whole universe. Law demands an unswerving belief
in its existence and implicit obedience. It is inexorable in awarding
its penalties to its disbelievers and breakers. No other belief
can save the transgressor of the Law from its demands in this life;
and shall not the same apply to the hereafter? Should not religion,
then, inculcate first of all the necessity and importance of our
faith in Law? It must speak of other verities also, because belief
in the Law, and that alone, is of no avail, if unaccompanied by
belief in other essential things. Divine worship may be taken as
a matter of first importance in religion, but we know nothing of
God except through His ways of work in nature. Hence our worship
of Him should find its real manifestation in our following His ways
in our life. Our prayer or other form of adoration should act as
a reminder of that Great Truth.
Submission to Divine Law in Islam
The recital of certain sacred words is not an act of worship; true
worship consists in submission to His laws. In this respect I can
safely say that Islam is the only representative of religion from
Above. The word itself literally means submission to laws, and a Muslim
is one who obeys the Law. Law, of course, means the Divine Laws, whether
discovered by us as laws of nature or revealed to man by God Himself.
The Quran uses several other words as synonyms of Law - ways of God,
His limits and His bounds, His government, His pre-measurement of
good and evil, and the Throne He sits upon, etc. These words, in fact,
convey different functions and aspects of Law. It comes to prescribe
limits; for, since no action in itself is either good or bad, it is
its use or application, and the circumstances under which it is used
or applied, that makes it good or bad. The Law thus defines the limits
under which an action brings good to its doer or doers; and in this
respect it becomes a virtue. Any transgression from the prescribed
bounds means wrong, wickedness, and sin.
I cannot cite a stronger statement on behalf of a revealed religion
and its necessity than which I found in the last section of the
second chapter of the Quran:
Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the
earth is Gods; and whether you manifest what is in your
minds or hide it, God will call you to account according to it;
then He will forgive whom He pleases and chastise whom He pleases,
and God has power over all things. The Messenger (Muhammad) believes
in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the
believers; they all believe in God and His angels and His books
and His messengers: We make no difference between any of His messengers;
and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do
we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course. God does not impose
upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it,
is (the benefit of) what it has earned, and against it (the evil
of) what it has wrought: our Lord! do not punish us if we forget
or make a mistake; our Lord do not lay on us a burden as Thou
didst lay on those before us; our Lord do not impose upon us that
which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant
us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our Patron, so help
us against the unbelieving people. (The Holy Quran, 2:284-6).
First it speaks in clear terms of six things written in bold letters
on every page of nature, and their existence is palpable even to
a most superficial observer, since the denial of it is attended
by immediate unrelenting penalty. These are the things in reality
that can rightly be given the name of Truth or Verity. The so-called
verities adopted as such by various persuasions are more dogmatic.
The verities spoken of in these verses are as follows:
1. The universality of Divine Government - the working of His Law
in Heaven and in the Earth.
2. Our unavoidable accountability to God for our every action hidden
3. His law of retribution ever in operation, with occasional remission
under given conditions.
4. Our ability to submit to His Laws.
5. Laws of action and their results, i.e., we reap what we sow.
6. The Hereafter - the time to bear the fruits of our actions.
It may be immediate, since sometimes we are punished immediately
for our wrongs, or it may be in the future - what is popularly styled
the Last Day or the Day of Judgment in religious parlance.
No special revelation from God, no elaborate teaching of tutor
divine is needed to bring home to us these truths. Everything in
nature speaks of them. No one with a grain of wisdom in his head
can deny them; which being so, the case for religion and its necessity,
as well as the nature of its tenets, is obvious enough. Even an
atheist must bow down to these six laws. In fact, they are his creed
if we eliminate the words God or His from
the above. He accepts the yoke of Law quite meekly. His only trouble
is his inability to believe in the Mind from which Law emanates
- a thing of easy proof in the light of modern scientific researches.
Even those who take exception to some of the above-mentioned verities,
for example the fourth - our ability to obey the law - are compelled
to believe in the working of these six laws on the physical plane.
Everything in the universe contradicts their dogma.
In this connection I would make a few remarks concerning the fundamental
doctrine of Christianity - the doctrine of so-called Original Sin.
If sin means our violation of Law, the doctrine falls to the ground.
Admittedly we are capable of doing wrong, we violate Law, but this
propensity in our nature does not deny our ability to observe it.
The whole machinery of a government in human society works on the
assumption that the members of such society are capable of obeying
the mandates of the government. Without such assumption or belief,
the very existence of working of a body like the British Parliament
- and in the same category come various other legislative bodies
- becomes an anomaly.
We believe in the working of the above-quoted six laws in the tangible
world, but some of us do not see our way to concede the same belief
to them in the life beyond the grave. I need not here repeat what
I said before to prove the futility of such a position. Suffice
it is to observe that I have keenly studied the laws or commandments
of God as given in the Bible, and there is not a single word in
them that cannot be fulfilled by man. Some there may be who evince
a certain laxity in observing some of the said commandments, but
the human race is not lacking in those who are or who have been
true Muslims - obedient to those laws. The first four commandments,
as given in Exodus, demand our staunch belief in the unity of God.
The rest of the commandments have been observed by a larger portion
of humanity, as without their enforcement no human society, even
in its most primitive steps of development, can stand, even for
a short time. A Moses is needed to enforce those commandments in
a newly fledged society for its healthy development.
But to return. The said six laws compel our belief. If we wish
to live as good citizens under the government of the Lord, and attain
true success and happiness, we must look for those laws and sit
at the feet of those who are their custodians and teachers. It is
in this respect that the quoted verses of the Quran speak of the
prophets and the Books they bring from God. The Books come to reveal
the Will of the Lord of His ways under which He rules all things
in heaven and earth. There is one thing more which is so necessary
to infuse in us a spirit strong enough to inspire an implicit obedience
to law, and that is our belief in its unfailing and unavoidable
working together, with its inexorability in the exaction of its
penalties. In this connection, revelations from on High that belong
to the various religious persuasions speak of certain sentient beings
called Angels. According to Quranic teachings they are a body that
bring Law and every force in nature into operation and keep them
so. This is their function and the object of their existence. They
act as a life or soul in everything in the universe. They set the
faculties of nature in motion. I do not propose to enter into a
long discussion of the subject, but merely to emphasize the fact
that if we do need a strong belief in Law and our obedience to it,
we can never achieve it unless we believe in the existence of beings
like angels. It was in this light that I have named them in these
pages the functionaries of Law.
We may or may not believe in any religious system, but we must
and do believe in these verities. They are part and parcel of our
health and happiness; and they ought to be the articles of faith
in any religion which claims to have come from God. They are as
- God, as the source of
- Angels - functionaries
- The Books - the record
- The prophets - the intermediate
persons who receive the first message from the Lord on the subject.
- The Hereafter.
- The Day of Judgment.
These are the seven verities spoken of in the Quranic verses which
demand our belief, a belief which is given to them by every person
in his mundane affairs.
The present is the mother of the future. The after-life is the
child of the present life. The former evolves out of the latter.
Matter, in its evolutionary course on the physical plane, receives
its final perfection in the human frame, but it gives rise to another
order - the order of morality, ethics, and spirituality. Life with
the progressive element in it leaves the body at our death like
the aroma from fruit or a flower. It is like a vapour, but it possesses
vast potentialities for creating a great cloud full of healthy rain.
But Law, as I said before, rules every step of progress in the course
of evolution. It is in obedience to it that success or full development
attends the progressive element in its journey. We therefore need
a System of Law that may help us to work out our future life on
the desirable lines so that we may secure a full measure of bliss
in higher regions.
And the code of it must and can only come from the original Intelligence,
source of all life and its progress; hence the necessity for a Revealed
Religion to disclose the above-mentioned verities, with full details
for working them out. Any other system of religion is but a nursery-tale,
whose function it is to feed credulity and gratify the child
in man. But the child matures one day in intelligence and judgment
and begins to see things in the light of reason and culture. It
is on this account that religions based on dogma and superstitions
are becoming exiled from the lands of culture and advancement.
Before concluding these lines I should like to say a word on the
Law of Remission as promulgated in the above-mentioned verses from
God does not impose upon any soul a duty but
to the extent of its ability; for it, is (the benefit of) what it
has earned, and against it (the evil of) what it has wrought: our
Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; our Lord
do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us;
our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength
It is based on Equity and Justice, and satisfies every demand for
reason. The sacred Book, after mentioning our ability to abide by
Law and then referring to our accountability for our actions, speaks
of such mitigating circumstances as may avail to remit the penalty
of Law for its breach. They are three in number:
- Forgetfulness of Law, as in the case of Adam, according to the
Quranic version (see 20:115 of the Quran).
- Unintentional omission.
- Inability under particular circumstances to meet the demands
No one can take exception to the logic and rationality of the provisions.
They bring Divine forgiveness for our wrongs, but we must approach
the Master of the Judgment for it in prayerful humility. The Quran
for this reason has formulated the said three provisions in the
form of a prayer.