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Special contributors: Amatul-Hadi Ahmad Farina Qureshi Proof-reader: Abdul Jehangeer Khan Shaukia Mir Design and layout: Tanveer Khokhar Publisher: Al Shirkatul Islamiyyah Distribution: Muhammad Hanif Editorial Board Basit Ahmad Bockarie Tommy Kallon Fareed Ahmad Fazal Ahmad. Fauzia Bajwa Mansoor Saqi Mahmood Hanif Mansoora Hyder-Muneeb Navida Shahid Sarah Waseem Saleem Ahmad Malik Tanveer Khokhar Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community All correspondence should be forwarded directly to the editor at: The Review of Religions The London Mosque 16 Gressenhall Road London, SW18 5QL United Kingdom © Islamic Publications, 2004 ISSN No: 0034-6721 Contents September 2004, Vol.99, No.9 1 Chief Editor and Manager: Mansoor Ahmed Shah Management Board: Mr Munir-ud-din Shams (Chairman) Mr Mansoor Shah (Secretary) Mr Naseer Ahmad Qamar Mr Mubarak Ahmad Zafar Mr Mirza Fakhar Ahmad Mr. Abdul Baqi Arshad The temporary nature of health, wealth and power in this world. By Fazal Ahmad UK ........................................................................................................... 2 Addresses the question on why innocent people suffer and whether one can benefit from such trials. By Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Ayaz, OBE, UK. .............................................................................. 3 Describes many of the attributes of Allah as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, and their permanent nature. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) ........................................................................................... 19 A speech in Australia describing the prophesies related to the advent of the Messiah, who would bring about the revival of Islam. Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) ........................................................................................... 29 The life and characteristics of Salahuddin (as witnessed through the dignified manner in which he confronted the Crusaders) and what we can learn from his experiences. By Fazal Ahmad, UK.. ........................................................................................................... 45 A Biblical view of peaceful co-existence By The Venerable Dennis Ede . . .............................................................................................. 55 The Hindu viewpoint on religious harmony covered through two messages of peace from a Hindu monument in India. By Jai Swaminarayan . ............................................................................................................. 60 Peace Symposium Peace Symposium Saladin – The Legend of Salahuddin The Philosophy of Revival of Religion The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted - Part 4 The Issue of Evil and Suffering – the Islamic Perspective Editorial Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 1

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Special contributors:Amatul-Hadi AhmadFarina Qureshi

Proof-reader:Abdul Jehangeer KhanShaukia Mir

Design and layout:Tanveer KhokharPublisher:Al Shirkatul IslamiyyahDistribution:Muhammad Hanif



al B


Basit Ahmad Bockarie Tommy KallonFareed AhmadFazal Ahmad.Fauzia BajwaMansoor SaqiMahmood Hanif Mansoora Hyder-MuneebNavida ShahidSarah WaseemSaleem Ahmad MalikTanveer Khokhar

Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

All correspondence shouldbe forwarded directly to theeditor at:

The Review of ReligionsThe London Mosque16 Gressenhall RoadLondon, SW18 5QLUnited Kingdom

© Islamic Publications, 2004ISSN No: 0034-6721

Contents September 2004, Vol.99, No.9


Chief Editor and Manager: Mansoor Ahmed Shah

Management Board:Mr Munir-ud-din Shams (Chairman)Mr Mansoor Shah (Secretary)Mr Naseer Ahmad QamarMr Mubarak Ahmad ZafarMr Mirza Fakhar AhmadMr. Abdul Baqi Arshad

The temporary nature of health, wealth and power in this world.By Fazal Ahmad UK ........................................................................................................... 2

Addresses the question on why innocent people suffer and whether one can benefit from such trials.By Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Ayaz, OBE, UK............................................................................... 3

Describes many of the attributes of Allah as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, and their permanent nature. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) ........................................................................................... 19

A speech in Australia describing the prophesies related to the advent of the Messiah, who would bring about the revival of Islam. Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) ........................................................................................... 29

The life and characteristics of Salahuddin (as witnessed through the dignified manner in which he confronted the Crusaders) and what we can learn from his experiences.By Fazal Ahmad, UK............................................................................................................. 45

A Biblical view of peaceful co-existenceBy The Venerable Dennis Ede . . .............................................................................................. 55

The Hindu viewpoint on religious harmony covered through two messages of peace from a Hindu monument in India.By Jai Swaminarayan . ............................................................................................................. 60

Peace Symposium

Peace Symposium

Saladin – The Legend of Salahuddin

The Philosophy of Revival of Religion

The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted - Part 4

The Issue of Evil and Suffering – the Islamic Perspective


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The issue of suffering andpoverty often comes up inreference to God in conversation.Extremes of wealth meet face toface with extremes of religion.There are some who no longersee a need for worship becausethey feel that they are fully incontrol of their own destiny,while others who feel they nolonger have any hope areadopting so-called fundament-alism and violence in the name ofreligion.

The former approach is borne outof a lack of accountability and ofa lack of understanding of thebalance of the Universe. Theymay be healthy and wealthytoday, but things can change veryfast, and a life can be lost in aninstance. Sometimes thesepeople lose compassion for thoseless well off than themselves.

The latter use religion as a toolwith which to launch their self-

centred attempts to forciblyreclaim power and wealth forthemselves, whereas thereligious angle they claim touphold actually goes against thefundamentals of the teachingsthey claim to represent. In bothcases, the parties depict a lack ofpersonal and real contact withGod. The feature article thismonth demonstrates thatsuffering is actually a means toreformation, and not a form ofcruelty. Those that have faced nohardship and made no sacrificesshould worry about the spiritualprogress they have made.

Another article describes thenature of God based on thepersonal contact and experienceof the Promised Messiah(as). It isthis personal contact that showsthat we will not take our currentwealth and health, good or bad,with us in the next life. Thereforewhether we are rich or poor,healthy or ill, it is what we dowith our circumstances that willbenefit or harm us in the end.

Fazal Ahmad

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The world today presents adevastating scenario sur-mounted by evil and precip-itated with suffering and pain.Pain and suffering affect somany people, including theinnocent, the God-fearing,small children and the youngand old alike, each and everyday. Even I, you or the personsitting next to you may be goingthrough a period of immensesuffering – whether physical,mental or emotional.

Suffering affects us all in oneway or another and there is noescape from it. But why? Whyshould we and others suffer?Why would the One God, who

has created us out of His loveand in His image let us suffer?Why did He not create a worldwithout evil?

At first sight it is extremelydifficult to comprehend orjustify suffering. It may becredible to justify suffering thatis truly self-inflicted orsuffering as a result ofpunishment. But why shouldthe innocent, young children orthe God-loving suffer?

I shall attempt to help you tounderstand the Islamic pers-pective of evil and suffering.

Islam brings light and reason to

The Issue of Evil and Suffering –The Islamic PerspectiveThis article, based on a speech delivered at an earlier AhmadiyyaAnnual Convention in Toronto, Canada, covers the reason behindsuffering among innocent people, and the potential benefits that mancan derive from such circumstances.

by Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Ayaz OBE - UK

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suffering and in essence one canthen actually realise that‘suffering is not alwayssuffering’.

Buddhism defines suffering(dukkha) as resulting from:

1. Torment e.g. old age,sickness and death;

2. Absence of pleasure;3. The necessity of giving up

what one loves and what onehas become attached to,because of the inescapabletransitory quality of allphenomena.

It further claims that man'sselfish desire is the cause ofsuffering i.e. his craving forthirst (tanha). It proposes aneight-fold path to attainliberation (nirvana).

Hinduism believes that allsuffering is self-inflicted andjustifies it with the concept ofReincarnation – lower orhigher life forms based upon theconduct in the previous life.

Islam rejects this conceptbecause with His infinitepowers of creation andevolvement, God does not needto recycle life and so evolves itcontinuously to higher levels.

The Buddhist definition is validbut the affliction must bediscussed at the universal aswell as human level. Thequestion of the presence of evilis more fundamental and therational approach presented byIslam is the best.

We live in a world of cause andeffect and if we observe keenlywe find that the entire universeis bound together in this system.It is because of this unchange-able principle of cause andeffect that man has been able tomake advances in scientificknowledge. A cause may beprimary or the effect of yetanother cause linking into acontinuous chain. If this processcomes to an end, it must beobvious that the final causemust exist by itself; it must be

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absolute. It is also obvious thata finite cause cannot be absolutefor it will exclude some domainof process. It will not be theending cause. Whichever causeor existence is absolute, allcomprehensive and self-subsisting, must of necessity beinfinite. The Holy Qur'andeclares:

Thy Lord is the final cause ofall causes. (Ch.53: v.43)

He is Absolute and Infinite inall aspects, in each and everyattribute. Therefore, to beAbsolute, His Power ofCreation must express itself atinfinite levels in each and everyspecies. Whatever level can beimagined, matter, non-matter,anti-matter, fertile, barren,expanding, contracting, life,death, consciousness, uncon-sciousness, man with no eyes,with one eye, no legs, no arm,ugly, attractive, dim, bright - alllevels must exist.

The further away a level movesfrom the Absolute, the widerwill be the gulf of relativity. It isthis separation from theAbsolute which implies priva-tion and evil. The existence ofthe world in itself is not evil.

Evil according to Islam does nothave a positive existence. Allahsays in the Holy Qur'an:

Do you not see how yourLord lengthens the shadow?Indeed if He pleased Hewould have made it fixed,but We make the sun a guidethereof withdrawing itgradually. (Ch.25: Vs.46-47)

A shadow is cast by the objectsthat obstruct the light of the sun.It lengthens as the object movesaway from the sun and contractsas it moves closer to the sun,disappearing altogether whenthe object is directly under thesun. The parable describes evilas a shadow resulting from theabsence of Divine Light. Evil is

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not a positive existence in itself.We can imagine a source of lightbut we cannot imagine an objectas a source of darkness. Theonly way an object becomes asource of darkness is byobstructing the light. Likewise,it is only the absence ofgoodness that constitutes evil.

In this light, Hadhrat KhalifatulMasih IV (the 4th Successor tothe Promised Messiah(as))explained suffering in his bookRevelation, Rationality, Knowl-edge and Truth:

God did not create sufferingas an independent entity inits own right, but only as anindispensable counterpart ofpleasure and comfort. Theabsence of happiness issuffering, which is like itsshadow, just as darkness isthe shadow cast by theabsence of light. If there islife, there has to be death;both are situated at theextreme poles of the sameplane, with innumerable

grades and shades inbetween. As we move fromdeath we gradually movetowards a state of life whichis happiness. As we moveaway from life we moveaway with a sense of sorrowtowards death.

This is the key to under-standing the struggle forexistence, which in turnleads to a constant improv-ement in the quality of lifeand helps it to achieve theultimate goal of evolution.The principle of the survivalof the fittest plays anintegral role in this grandscheme of evolution. Thisphenomenon is mentionedin the Holy Qur’an. Allahsays:

Blessed is He in Whose handis the kingdom, and He haspower over all things; it isHe Who has created deathand life that He might tryyou - which of you is best indeeds; and He is the Mighty,

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the Most Forgiving. (Ch.67: Vs.2-3)

The profound philosophy oflife and death, theinnumerable shades inbetween and the role theyplay in shaping life andimproving its quality are allcovered in the above verse.It is the very scheme ofthings that God discloseshere. We know that life isonly a positive value, anddeath merely means itsabsence, and no sharpborder exists separating onefrom the other.

It is a gradual process, theway life travels towardsdeath and ebbs out; or fromthe other direction we canview death travellingtowards life gainingstrength, energy and con-sciousness as it moves on.This is the grand plan ofcreation, but why has Goddesigned it so?

‘That He may try you, whichof you is best in deeds’, isthe answer provided by theHoly Qur’an.

It is the perpetual strugglebetween life and death thatsubjects the living to aconstant state of trial, so thatall who conduct themselvesbest survive and gain ahigher status of existence.Herein lies the philosophyand the machination ofevolution as described inthese verses. It is thisconstant struggle betweenthe forces of life and deathwhich provide the thrust tothe living to perpetuallymove away from death ortowards it. It may resulteither in this improvementor deterioration in thequality of existence in thewide spectrum of evolu-tionary changes.(pp. 180-182, Revelation,Rationality Knowledge andTruth)

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Thus loss, decline and deathhave been the vital constituentsof the motive force ofevolution. The question ofsuffering at the human levelwhich is either self-inflicted orcaused by events outside one'scontrol such as natural disastersor accidents also needs to beelaborated.

Islam believes that only God isAbsolute. Therefore on theplane of relativity, which is thehuman plane, there cannot beeither absolute determination orabsolute free will. Man enjoysdiscretion only to the extent ofhis pre-determined freedom.Beyond this freedom man is atthe mercy of events outside ofhis control. Thus the humansuffering can either be self-inflicted or imposed on him byoutside events such as naturaldisasters or freak accidents.

However, man cannot becredited or discredited, forcertain, for the consequences ofhis actions. There can be

innumerable causes deter-mining the resultant states andaccording to Islam no one hasthe right to judge except God.This earthly life according toIslam is Darul Ibtila, a world oftest and trial and of earning, andthe hereafter is Darul Jaza, theplace of true reward both for theblissful state and that ofdeprivation. The Holy Qur’ansays:

As for man, when his Lordtries him and honours himand bestows favours on him,he says ‘My Lord hashonoured me.’ But when Hetries him and straitens forhim his means ofsubsistence, he says ‘MyLord has disgraced me.’ (Ch.89: Vs.16-17)

The next verse says that this isnot the case. Both situations area test and a trial, as is the casewith everything else in thisworld.

The states of pain and suffering

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are an indicator, a reminder tomake man aware that he needsto change direction, and takecorrective action. It can thusturn out to be a blessing. Allahsays in the Holy Qur’an:

And indeed We have sentMessengers to peoplesbefore thee, then We afflictedthem with poverty andadversity that they maybecome humble.(Ch.6: v.43)

Again in Chapter 2 of the HolyQur’an, Allah says:

We shall surely try you withsomewhat of fear andhunger and loss of wealthand lives and of fruits ofyour labour and sometimesyour dear children will die,then give glad tidings to thesteadfast, who, when amisfortune overtakes themdo not lose heart but affirm,we belong to God and toHim shall we return. It isthese on whom are blessings

from their Lord and mercyand it is these who arerightly guided.(Ch.2: Vs.156-158)

The Promised Messiah(as) says:

This moral quality is calledsteadfastness or reconcil-iation to the divine will.From one aspect it might becalled equity or justice.Throughout a person's life,God Almighty manifeststhousands of matters inaccord with the wishes of aperson and bestows uncoun-table bounties upon him, sothat it would be inequitableon his part that on suchoccasions when God callsupon him to submit to Hiswill, he should turn away,not pleased with the will ofGod and should be critical,or lose faith or go astray.(The Philosophy of theTeachings of Islam, p.41)

To those who persevere in theface of trial, Allah has

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Upon those who affirm, Godis our Lord and turn awayfrom false gods and aresteadfast, that is to say,remain firm under trials andcalamities, descend angels,reassuring them: fear notnor grieve, and be filled withhappiness; and rejoice thatyou have inherited the joythat you have beenpromised. We are yourfriends in this life and thehereafter. You will find in thenext life all that you desire,and you shall have there allthat you ask for. That is howyou will be entertained by aForgiving and Merciful God. (Ch.41: Vs.31-33)

Now the question may wellarise as to how one can findcontentment and paradise inthis world when one is perpet-ually burdened with afflictionsand problems of one kind oranother? First it should beknown that they are really

blessings in disguise and thatAllah clearly states in the HolyQur'an that He causes them inorder to test and build one'sfaith. They offer opportunitiesfor one to demonstrate the depthof one's faith and calibre ofone's character. Furthermore ifone meets them with patienceand fortitude, one gains thereward of Allah both here andin the hereafter. Allah says inthe Holy Qur’an:

And We will surely try youuntil We distinguish thoseamong you who strive forthe cause of Allah and thosewho are steadfast. And wewill make known the factsabout you. (Ch.47: v.32)

Allah has made it absolutelyclear in the Holy Qur’an thatlife’s journey is not intended tobe one of ease. He says:

And we created man to facehardships. (Ch.90: v.5)

One should never moan or

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despair over trials andtribulations as this is anindication of weakness andingratitude to Allah. The HolyProphet(sa) has said :

'For a Muslim, life is full ofgood, and nobody but a truebeliever finds himself in thatposition, for if he meets withsuccess he is grateful to Godand becomes the recipient ofgreater favours from Him.On the other hand, if hesuffers pain and tribulation,he endures it with patienceand thus again makeshimself deserving of God'sfavours.'

The second Khalifah(ra) hastruly stated:

‘Burdens are not alwaysburdens.’

This truth is confirmed by awell-known American writerwho has said that in everyadversity there lies the seed ofan equivalent or greater benefit.

That is to say one can find andgain some advantage fromevery adversity. He wrote:

‘I am thankful for theadversities which havecrossed my pathway, forthey have taught metolerance, sympathy, self-control, perseverance andsome other virtues I mightnever have known.’

Charles Darwin – the famousnatural scientist of the lastcentury was a man who sufferedfrom ill health but made use ofit to his advantage. He said:

‘If I had not been so great aninvalid, I should not havedone so much work as I haveaccomplished.’

The Holy Qur’an teaches thatone should be patient in timesof adversity when things seemto go wrong and against one'spersonal interests. One shouldnot despair or become undulyfrustrated. Only then can one

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enjoy the sweetness of paradisein the midst of the storms oflife. Misfortunes are inevitable.One must learn to bear and copewith them patiently andsuccessfully. This is one of theimportant battles of life inwhich one must emergevictorious. One should notweaken under adversity butresolve to remain poised andstrong in behaviour during thedarkest night, just as one wouldduring the sunniest day.

Normally one worries anunnecessary amount overadversities, set backs, failuresand disappointments. By doingso one cannot enjoy peace ofmind which is one of theblessings of paradise. Worryingis generally caused not so muchby the problem itself, but by thewrong attitude one adoptstowards it. Take two peoplewith identical problems. Onefrets and fumes and becomeshighly distracted. The otherremains cool and calm. Theproblem was one and the same

but the opposite reactions of thetwo persons were caused bytheir different attitudes. Islamteaches that one shouldapproach every adversity orproblem with a patient attitudeand if one does this then thestate of one's mind remainsstable and poised with the resultthat the heart remains strongand at rest in spite of disturbinginfluences. One should,therefore, endeavour to bepatient and seek the good ineverything. Allah has decreedthat no one will escapehardships and misfortunes. Oneshould expect them and whenthey come to make the best ofthem without complaints orgrievances and with a positiveattitude. Then one can begin tofind paradise in this world nomatter what circumstances onehas to meet in life.

A sense of loss is a vitalconstituent of the motive forevolution that leads to higherconsciousness, which isessential for deeper bliss and

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happiness and eventually to acertain knowledge of theDivine. Variety and disparity, inother words inequality, play ameaningful role in advancinghuman society. Of course, as aconsequence of such a universalsystem, an individual cansometimes be at the mercy ofcircumstances outside hiscontrol and thus remain at anunfair disadvantage. This is theaspect of suffering which isforemost in the mind of thosewho repeatedly ask - why thesuffering?

Islam claims that an individual'sloss will be more thancompensated in the hereafter.There is a Hadith which statesthat whatever afflicts a truebeliever, even if it be the prickof a thorn, will be counted as arecompense for his sins.

Individual handicap is takeninto consideration whendetermining a new level of lifein the hereafter. Even in thehereafter infinite levels of the

blissful state continue to exist inParadise. Hell, according toIslam, is also a place ofpurification. After purification,all human beings are destined toenter Paradise. In the light ofthe verses of the Holy Qur'anand the Hadith, the PromisedMessiah(as) says:

‘This thought is inherentlyfoolish that man should stayin hell forever, in the sameway as God is Everlasting.After all, God also has aninvolvement in their errorsbecause He created in thempowers that were weak.Consequently the helldwellers have a right tobenefit from that weaknessembedded in their nature byGod.’(Chashma Masihi, p.47)

How true and how wonderful isthe declaration of the HolyQur’an:

And My Mercy is All-Embracing. (Ch.7: v.157)

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Compensating factors do existin this very life. We know thatthe seat of both physical andpsychological suffering isconsciousness. However, thethreshold of pain is different fordifferent individuals. It isrelative and the perspectivechanges when viewed fromdifferent angles. This is wellillustrated by the well-knownanecdote of the man who hadlost one leg. He was somewhatrelieved of his deep grief whenhe saw a man who had both legsmissing.

Suffering is a great teacher,cultivating and culturing ourconduct. It develops and refinessensibilities, teaches humilityand in more than one wayprepares us to be able to turn toGod. It is said that if man feltpain in the tongue each time hespoke ill of others, the socialevil of backbiting maydisappear.

Man can misuse his freedomand inflict an unbearable

suffering on others. AlthoughAllah has provided an in-builtcoping mechanism to sustainthe pain, if the pain reachesbeyond the bearable capacity ofthe individual, immediately avalve is triggered whichswitches off his consciousnessand the man is no longer awareof his pain.

Another compensating factor ismentioned in a Hadith. TheHoly Prophet(sa) said that amongthose whose prayers receiveacceptance are the afflicted.Suffering sustained as a resultof love and devotion becomes apleasure. To an onlooker, theloss of sleep and theinconveniences suffered by amother tending to her child mayappear as suffering, but themother in fact derives pleasurefrom it.

This is why suffering has beenregarded as a test of one's loveand devotion, and the prophetshave always invited theirfollowers towards sacrifices

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and suffering on the path oflove and devotion to God. AHadith talks of a martyr whowas told by God that He wouldgrant any wish the martyr made.The martyr asked God whetherhe could be sent back again andagain so that he could give hislife repeatedly in the cause ofAllah. Allah replied that if Hehad not already decreed that thedead cannot return, He wouldhave fulfilled his wish.

It is impossible to put in wordsthe deep joy of unparalleledbliss one feels as a result of thedeep love that Gracious Godbestows on His true servantswho persevere in the face oftrial and tribulations and provetheir love of God.

Addressing Allah, the secondKhalifa(ra) says in a couplet ofhis poem:

‘What I suffer at Your HandIs not a wound

But a remedy indeedSo continue to inflict the

woundsWithout yielding

And in this regardShow no concern for me.’

Suffering, according to Islam,can be the gateway to res-urrection, to rebirth and to newcreation. Suffering in all casesis a transitory state leading tolasting bliss, joy and happiness.

It is comparatively easy to seeGod in one’s gains, successesand achievements and to begrateful to Him. It takes higherspiritual awareness to see Godin one’s losses, failures andoccasions of frustration. He isequally there, if not more so, torecognise Him as the ForgivingGod, and to be thankful to Him.It was perhaps in view of thisopportunity of God-realisation,by resigning one’s will to theWill of Allah, that the HolyProphet(sa) said:

‘When Allah destines goodfor someone, He afflictshim.’ (Sahih Bukhari)

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Comparing steadfastness withthe moral qualities related to thediscarding of evil, the PromisedMessiah(as) says:

'To abstain from adultery isnot difficult, not to commitmurder is no greatachievement and to avoid afalse witness is no greatthing; but to choose Godover all other things andbear the miseries of theworld for His sake with truelove and eagerness; nay, butto create miseries of one’sown choice is a supremespiritual station that is notpossible to reach by anyoneexcept the righteous. It is theworship for the performanceof which man has beencommissioned.' (Haqeeqatul Wahi, p.55)

Steadfastness no doubt wins thepleasure of Allah and deservesgreat spiritual reward, but whatis its true definition?

The Promised Messiah(as) says:

‘The true and perfect gracethat conveys a person to thespiritual world dependsupon steadfastness whichcannot be shaken by anytrial. It means a strongrelationship with the Divine,which a sword cannot cutasunder and fire cannotconsume, nor can any othercalamity damage it. Thedeath of dear ones orseparation from them shouldnot interfere with it, norshould fear of dishonouraffect it, nor should a painfuldeath move the heart awayfrom it in the least degree.This door is very narrow andthis path is very hard. Alas,how difficult it is.’(The Philosophy of theTeachings of Islam, p.58)

Again on page 89 he says:

‘The perfection of stead-fastness is that when one isencircled by calamities andlife and honour and one'sgood name are in peril in the

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cause of Allah; and nomeans of comfort areavailable, so much so, thateven visions and dreams andrevelations are suspended byGod as a trial and one is lefthelpless among terribledangers; at such a time oneshould not lose heart norretreat like a coward nor letone’s faithfulness be put indoubt in the least. Oneshould not let one's sincerityand perseverance beweakened. One should bepleased with one's disgrace;one should be reconciled todeath; one should not waitfor a friend to lend hissupport in order to keeponeself firm; nor seek gladtidings from God because ofthe severity of the trial. Oneshould stand straight andfirm despite one'shelplessness and weaknessand lack of comfort fromany direction. Come whatmay, one should presentoneself for sacrifice andshould be completely

reconciled to divine decrees,and one should exhibit norestlessness nor utter anycomplaint, right till the endof the trial. This is thesteadfastness which leads toGod. This is that perfume,the fragrance of which stillreaches us from the dust ofmessengers and prophetsand faithful ones andmartyrs.

This is also indicated in thesupplication:

Guide us along the path ofsteadfastness, the path thatattracts Thy bounties andfavours, and by treadingalong that one which winsThy pleasure. (Ch.1: Vs.6-7)


The suffering, the trials, thetribulations through whichAhmadiyya Community hasand is going through today mayappear to be a glass of bitters,but indeed they are the fountain

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from which the victory of Islamwill spring and mankind will beencompassed in eternal lightleaving no room for evil toexist. So let us bear it all withabsolute faith in the fulfilmentof the decrees of God Almighty.

Let us perceive and bearsuffering in the true Islamicperspective and the true Islamicspirit with absolute submission

to the will of Allah to seek Hislove and pleasure under allcircumstances. The secondKhalifa(ra) has put this thought ina beautiful heart-rendingcouplet:

Oh! Our Lord! Whether it isThy blessings or any trial

We are happy in that whichHas Thy pleasure

The Issue of Evil and Suffering

In this journal, for the ease of non-Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Salallahu ‘alaihiwa sallam’ meaning ‘Peace and Blessings of Allah be uponhim’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of allother prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be uponhim’ derived from ‘Alaihis salatu wassalam’ for the respecta Muslim reader utters.

The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘Radhiallahu ta’alaand is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah bepleased with him or her (when followed by the relevantArabic pronoun). Also ‘ru’ or (ru) for RahemahullahuTa’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him.

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Two Types of DivineAttributes - Immanent andTranscendental (cont’d) ...As Allah is not subject to deathso also He is not subject to eventemporary cessation of Hissenses like sleep or slumber;but others are subject to death,sleep and slumber. All that yousee in the heavens or in theearth belongs to Him andmanifests itself and existsthrough Him. There is no onewho can intercede with Himwithout His permission. Heknows all that is before orbehind people, that is, Hisknowledge comprises thatwhich is manifest and thatwhich is hidden. No one can

This is the fourth of a series to be printed over the next few months in The Review ofReligions. It sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as) Hadhrat Mirza GhulamAhmad, a summary of his exposition of four outstanding topics: ISLAM; ALLAH, THEEXALTED; THE HOLY PROPHET(sa); and THE HOLY QUR’AN. The originalcompilation, in Urdu, from which these extracts have been translated into English, wascollated with great care and diligence by Syed Daud Ahmad, Allah have mercy on him andreward him graciously for his great labour of love. Amin. The English rendering is by thelate Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Allah be pleased with him, and quoted from The Essenceof Islam, Volume 1. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, arefrom the Holy Qur’an.

The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslimcommunity was Hadhrat Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad(as). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis ofDivine revelation, that he was thePromised Messiah and Mahdi whoseadvent had been foretold by Muhammad,the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace andblessings of Allah be upon him) and bythe scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of thebeliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslimcommunity.

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encompass any part of Hisknowledge except that muchwhich He permits. His powerand His knowledge encompassthe heavens and the earth. Hesupports all and nothingsupports Him. He is not weariedby supporting the heavens andthe earth. He is above allweakness and feebleness andlack of power.

Throne of Allah – His Stationof Singleness andTranscendence At another place it is said:

Your Lord is Allah, Whocreated the heavens and theearth in six periods and thensettled Himself on theThrone.(Ch.7: v.55)

This means that having createdthe heavens and the earth andall that is in them and havingmanifested His attributes ofresemblance, He then addressedHimself to His station oftranscendence and aloneness, in

order to demonstrate Hisattributes of transcendencewhich station is beyond ofbeyond and is farthest awayfrom creation. That stationwhich is the highest is called theThrone.

The explanation of this is that inthe beginning all creation wasnonexistent and God Almightymanifested Himself at a stationwhich was beyond of beyondand is named the Throne, that isa station which is higher thanand above all the worlds. Therewas nothing except His Being.Then He created the heavensand the earth and all that is inthem. When creation came intobeing, He “hid” Himself anddesired that He should beknown through His creation.

It must be remembered thatDivine attributes never fall intopermanent disuse. Except God,no one enjoys eternal personalexistence, but the permanenceof species too is requisite. NoDivine attribute falls into

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permanent disuse, but there istemporary disuse. As theattribute of creation and theattribute of destruction areinconsistent with each other,therefore, when the attribute ofdestruction comes into fulloperation, the attribute ofcreation falls into disuse for aperiod. In short, in thebeginning it was the time of theoperation of the Divine attributeof Singleness and we cannot sayhow often this period repeateditself, except that it is eternaland without limit. In any case,the attribute of Singleness haspriority in time over otherattributes.

That is why it is said that tobegin with, God was alone andthat there was no one with Him.Then God created the heavensand earth and all that is in themand in that context Hemanifested His attributes thatHe is Noble, Merciful,Forgiving, and Acceptor ofrepentance. But he who persistsin sin and does not desist is not

left without chastisement. Healso manifested His attributethat He loves those who repent,and His wrath overtakes onlythose who do not desist fromwrongdoing and disobedience.

Nothing approximates to theAttributes of AllahAll His attributes areappropriate to Him. They arenot like human qualities. Hiseyes etc. are not physical andnone of His attributes resemblehuman attributes. For instance,when a man is angry he suffersfrom anger himself and hisheart loses its comfort andperceives a burning sensationand his brain is oppressed andhe undergoes a change; but Godis free from all such changes.

His wrath means that Heremoves His support from onewho does not desist frommischief and, according to Hiseternal law, He metes out to himsuch treatment as a humanbeing metes out to anotherwhen he is angry.

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Metaphorically, it is calledGod's wrath. In the same way,His love is not like the love of ahuman being, for a humanbeing suffers in love also whenhe is separated from hisbeloved. But God is not subjectto suffering. His nearness alsois not like the nearness of ahuman being, for when a humanbeing approaches near someonehe vacates the space which hehad occupied before. But God,despite being near is far, anddespite being far is near. Inshort, every Divine attribute isdistinct from human qualities.There is only a verbalresemblance and no more. Thatis why in the Holy Qur’an,Allah the Exalted says:

There is nothing whateverlike unto Him.(Ch.42: v.12)

That is: Nothing approximatesto God Almighty in its being orits qualities.(Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, RuhaniKhaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 272-276)

Permanence of Allah’sAttributesGod will never cease to operate.He is always the Creator, theProvidence, the Sustainer, theGracious, the Compassionateand always will be. In myopinion, it is sinful to debateabout the One of such Majesty.God has not imposed belief inanything which He has notdemonstrated.[Malfoozat, Vol. IV, p.347]

As the stars appear stage bystage God’s attributes alsoappear stage by stage. Man issometimes under the shadow ofthe Divine attributes of Gloryand Self-Sufficiency andsometimes he is under theshadow of His attributes ofBeauty. That is indicated in Hissaying:

Every day He revealsHimself in a new state.(Ch.55: v.30)

It is a foolish notion that aftersinful people have been

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condemned to hell the Divineattributes of Mercy andCompassion will cease tooperate and will not bemanifested, inasmuch as thepermanent cessation of theoperation of Divine attributes isnot permissible. The basicattribute of God Almighty isLove and Mercy and that is themother of all attributes. It is thesame attribute which sometimescomes into operation in theshape of the attributes of Gloryand Wrath for the purpose ofhuman reform, and when thereform has been effected thenLove appears in its true formand remains in operationforever as a bounty. God is notlike a short-tempered personwho loves to torment. He

wrongs no one, but peoplewrong themselves. All salvationlies in His Love and all tormentis to draw away from Him.[Chashma-e-Masihi, RuhaniKhaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 369-370]

General AttributesMentioned in the HolyQur’anThe attributes of God, to Whomthe Holy Qur’an calls us, are setout as follows:

He is Allah, and there is nogod beside Him, the Knowerof the unseen and the seen.He is the Gracious, theMerciful. (Ch.59: v.23)

Master of the Day ofJudgement. (Ch.1: v.4)


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The Sovereign, the HolyOne, the Source of peace,the Bestower of security, theProtector, the Mighty, theSubduer, the Exalted. (Ch.59: v.24)

Allah has the power to do allthat He wills. (Ch.2: v.21)

Lord of all the worlds, theGracious, the Merciful,Master of the Day ofJudement. (Ch.1: Vs.2-4)

I answer the prayer of thesupplicant when he prays toMe. (Ch.2: v.187)

the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. (Ch.2: v.256)

Say, He is Allah, the One!Allah, the Independent andBesought by all. He begetsnot, nor is He begotten, andthere is none like unto Him.(Ch.112: Vs.2-5)

That is, God is One and has noassociate: that no one else isworthy of worship andobedience. He is so describedfor if He were not withoutassociate, there would be thepossibility that His associatemight overcome Him and HisGodhead would then be put indanger. No one else is worthy ofworship means that He is soperfect and His attributes andexcellences are so high andexalted that, if out of allexistence, a God were to bechosen on account of Hisperfect attributes or if one'smind were to imagine the bestand highest attributes, that Godalone would be the most exaltedand none else could be greaterthan Him. To associate anyonelower with Him in His worshipwould be utterly wrong.

He is the Knower of the unseen,means that He alone has fullknowledge of Himself and noone can encompass His Being.

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We can wholly observe the sun,the moon and every createdthing, but we are unable toobserve God wholly. Then Hesays that He is the Knower ofthe seen. Nothing is hiddenfrom Him. Being God it couldnot be presumed that He wasunaware of anything. Heobserves every particle of thisuniverse, which a human beingcannot do. He knows when Hewill destroy this system and setup the Judgement. No oneexcept Him knows when thatwill be. He alone knows allthese times.

He is Most Gracious; that iswhich means that before thecoming into being of creaturesand their actions, out of Hispure grace and in consequenceof no action of anyone, Hemakes provision for the comfortof everyone; as for instance, Hemade the sun and the earth andall other things for our usebefore any action proceededfrom us. This bounty is called inthe Book of God Rahmaniyyat,

and on account of this attribute,God Almighty is calledRahman.

He rewards good actions withgracious rewards and does notlet go waste anyone’s efforts.On account of this attribute, Heis called Rahim and thisattribute is called Rahimiyyat.

He has in His own hands therecompense of everyone. Hehas no agent to whom He hascommitted the governance ofheaven and earth, havingwithdrawn Himself from it,leaving it to the agent to awardpunishment or reward.

He is the Sovereign, Most Holy,that is His sovereignty is subjectto no defect.

It is obvious that humansovereignty is not free fromdefects. For instance, if thesubjects of a human sovereignwere all to leave the countryand migrate, his sovereigntycould not be maintained, or if

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his subjects were afflicted withfamine, he would not be able torecover any revenue; or if hissubjects were to dispute withhim and question the basis ofhis sovereignty, what qual-ification for his sovereigntycould he put forward?

But the sovereignty of God isnot subject to any of this. In aninstant, He can destroy thewhole kingdom and create anew one. Were He not theCreator and All-Powerful, Hissovereignty could not bemaintained without injustice,for having forgiven the worldonce and bestowed salvationupon it, how could He haveobtained another world to rule?Would He seize upon those whohad attained salvation andrevoke His salvation tyran-nically? In such case, HisGodhead would be called inquestion and like worldlysovereigns His sovereigntywould prove defective. Thosewho make laws for the worldfall into different moods and

have recourse to tyranny whenthey find that they cannotachieve their selfish purposewithout tyranny. For instance, alaw permits that to save avessel, the occupants of a boatmight be allowed to perish, butGod should not be subject toany such dire necessity. HadGod not been All-Powerful,possessing the capacity ofcreating from nothing, Hewould have been compelledeither to have recourse totyranny or to adhere to justiceand be deprived of HisGodhead. The vessel of Godcarries on with full power andjustice.

Then He is the Source ofSecurity, that is to say, He isHimself secure against alldefects and misfortunes andhardships and bestows securityupon His creation. Had he beensubject to misfortunes, forinstance, had He been subject tobeing killed by people or bybeing frustrated in His designs,how would anyone's heart feel

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secure that God would save himfrom misfortunes? The falsegods are described in the HolyQur’an as follows:

Those whom you call godsinstead of Allah, cannotcreate even a fly, even if theywere all to join hands to doso; and if a fly were to takeaway something from them,they do not have the powerto recover it therefrom.Ignorant are those whoworship them and helplessare those whom theyworship. (Ch.22: Vs.74)

Can gods be like this? God hasall power above every otherpowerful one and He over-comes all. No one can seizeHim or beat Him. Those whofall into such mistakes do notrightly estimate God and do notknow what He should be.

Then God is the Bestower ofpeace and sets forth reasons insupport of His excellences andHis Unity. This is an indication

that a believer in the True Godwill not be put to shame in anycompany or before GodHimself, inasmuch as he isfurnished with strong argu-ments. But a believer in anartificial god is always in greatdistress. Instead of puttingforward reasons he describesevery senseless thing as amystery so that he should not belaughed at and thus he seeks tohide established errors. ThenHe says:

The Protector, the Mighty,the Subduer, the Exalted.(Ch.59: v.24)

God is Guardian over all andSupreme over all. He setseverything right and is exaltedabove everything. Then He says:

He is Allah, the Creator, theMaker, the Fashioner. Hisare the most beautifulnames. (Ch.59: v.25)

He is the Creator of body andsoul. He gives shape to the

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bodies in the womb. Allbeautiful names that can beconceived of belong to Him.Then He says:

All that is in the heavens andthe earth glorifies Him, andHe is the Mighty, the Wise.(Ch.59: v.25)

Inmates of the heaven and theearth glorify Him alike. Thisverse indicates that there is lifeon celestial bodies and that thedwellers therein follow Divineguidance. Then He says:

Allah has the power to do allthat He wills. (Ch.2: v.21)

That is, He has power to do allthat He wills, which is a greatreassurance for His wor-shippers, for if God were notpowerful and were helpless,nothing could be expected ofHim. Then He says:

Lord of all the worlds, theGracious, the Merciful,Master of the Day of

Judgement. (Ch.1: Vs. 2-4)

I answer the prayer of thesupplicant when he prays toMe. (Ch.2: v.187)

He is the Sustainer of all theworlds. He is Gracious, Merci-ful and Master of the Day ofJudgement, and has notdelegated His power to anyoneelse. He hears the call ofeveryone who calls on Him andresponds to it, that is to say, Heaccepts prayers.

He is the Ever-Living and All-Sustaining. If He were notEver-Living there would be thefear lest He might die beforeus.

Then it is said that He is Single,has no father and no son and noequal and no peer (Ch.112:Vs.2-5).

[Islami Usul ki Philosophy,Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 10,pp.372-376]

... to be continued

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I address you today on theIslamic Philosophy of therevival of religions. Religionsare always revived throughDivine intervention. A reformeris sent by Allah the Almighty toturn the people away frommaterialism and return them totheir Creator. Such a reformerinvariably calls for immensesacrifices in the name of God.He invites people to toil andsweat; to persevere and bepatient, and informs them thatthose who seek to live must beprepared to part with their lives.He prepares them for a long andpainful struggle against blindopposition and persecution at thehands of those whom they loveand endeavour to save. Indeedthis is the only real and eternal

philosophy of religious revival:every philosophy opposed to it ismere fantasy.

I must mention though that allsects of Islam are not in unisonon this subject. A large numberof Muslims believe that afundamental change has comeabout in the form of religiousrevival. The Ahmadiyya MuslimCommunity, on the other hand,believes that this historicalprocess is constant and un-changed. Lest the difference ofopinion amongst Muslims createa wrong impression, I deem itnecessary to enumerate thoseshared fundamental beliefswhich bind all the Muslimstogether, whatever denominationthey belong to.

Text of an address delivered by theFourth Head of the AhmadiyyaMuslim Association in Islam,Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, (mayAllah have mercy on him), in Sydney,Australia.

The Philosophy ofRevival of Religion

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Every Muslim, regardless ofsect, believes in the oneness ofGod and in the prophethood ofthe Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa).Every Muslim believes thatIslam is the ultimate religion forthe salvation of mankind. AllMuslims believe that Islam willcontinue to fulfill all of man’sspiritual needs till the Day ofJudgement. All Muslims believethat the Law revealed throughthe Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa)

is unchangeable and that theQur’an is incorruptible andunalterable to the extent even ofan iota or a dot. Muslims of allshades of thought believe thatthe edicts of the Holy ProphetMuhammad(sa) have validity andauthority till the end of mankind.Muslims of every sect believethat it is only through a bondwith the Holy ProphetMuhammad(sa) that the light ofeternal truth may be perceived.These basic points of creed areshared by all Muslims withoutexception.

With so much in common, therestill remains the fundamental

difference which sets theAhmadiyya Muslim Communityapart from other Muslims-thedifference on the issue of revivalof Islam. All other differencesemanate from this main issue.

How is the resurgence of Islam tocome about? How is a new lifeand new vigour to be infused intoit? Like the AhmadiyyaCommunity, all other Muslims,too, profess that the answer lies inthe promised advent of Christ,Son of Mary, and in theappearance of the promisedImam Mahdi (the reformerappointed by God who would bedivinely guided). This point ofapparent concord when inter-preted, actually generates twodiametrically opposed views.

The Ahmadiyya MuslimCommunity regards theprophecy of the advent of Christas a figure of speech. It believesthat the prophecies regarding theImam Mahdi are alsoallegorical. We believe that thetruly glorious import of theseprophecies cannot be understood

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if they are taken at their facevalue. In complete contrast tothis, the other sects of Islaminsist on a literal fulfillment ofthese prophecies. This is thefundamental difference thatdistinguishes and sets apart theAhmadiyya Community fromother sects.

A Background to theProphesiesThe prevailing decline of theMuslims and their internecinestrife are matters of which theHoly Prophet Muhammad(sa)

was not uninformed. Throughdivine revelation, he prophesiedfourteen hundred years ago thatMuslims would split intoseventy two sects. He described

the pitiable plight of theMuslims in such detail as if aview of our era had beenunfolded before his very eyes.The Prophet’s(sa) Traditionscontain a graphic description ofour times. He said,

‘Islam will have nothing leftof it except its name.Mosques, though full ofworshippers will be devoidof guidance. Their religiousscholars will be the worstcreation under the canopy ofHeaven.’

However, along with theseterrible portents, he also gaveglorious tidings. He said thatinspite of this dire distress, the


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Islamic nation would not perish:

‘How can my followers bedestroyed when I am at theirbeginning and Jesus, Son ofMary, at their end.’ (Masnad Ahmad: KanzalAamal, Vol. 7, p.203)

Then he said:

‘How will you be whenMary's Son will descendamong you; and he will beyour guide from amongstyou?’ (Bukhari: Book of Prophets)

And he repeated the news inthese words:

‘I swear by Him Who has mylife in His hand that the Sonof Mary will indeed descendamong you, and he willarbitrate with justice.’ (Bukhari: Book of Prophets)

The Holy Prophet(sa) also gavetidings of a great Imam-ImamMahdi who would appear alongwith Jesus(as), Son of Mary.

The Ahmadiyya Community isat one with the other Muslimsects in believing that theresuscitation of Islam and itsglobal triumph are linked withthe advent of Christ and theappearance of the Imam Mahdi.However, it differs from the restin the interpretation of theseprophecies. It insists that theprophecies be seen in the light ofthe divine law revealed in actionand in consonance with thehistory of the earlier prophets.The other Muslim sects, on thecontrary, assert that theprophecies have no inner, deepermessage and adhere to theirliteral sense.

Non-Ahmadi Muslims’ConceptIn all fairness to our opponents, Ishall now endeavour to elucidatethe view point of our opponentswho equate Islam’s renaissancewith its economic and politicaldominance. There is perhaps anexplanation for it. Lust forpower and greed for gold havetraditionally dominated humanstrife. The acme of national

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revival therefore would meanpolitical and economic ascen-dency. Divine favour would,according to them, fittinglymanifest itself to bring about thisresult. This, more or less, is theview held by many, concerningthe revival of Islam. Accordingto this belief, the advent of theMessiah will herald the era ofIslam’s political conquests whilethe appearance of the ImamMahdi will bring about theireconomic dominance.

First, I shall outline their conceptof the Messiah’s advent. Theybelieve that the very Jesus(as),Son of Mary, whom the Qur’andeclares a prophet of theIsraelites, will descend bodilyfrom the sky. He willimmediately set out with swordin hand and hack to death allenemies of Islam! His globalsweep shall have three grandobjectives. The first objectivewill be the destruction of theCross, not figuratively, butliterally! He will set aboutdestroying the symbol ofChristian faith with such vigour

that not a trace shall be left of it.There will not remain a singleCross to be seen in a church,home or around any neck.

According to them, his nextimportant task will be theextermination of swine of everyvariety – domestic as well aswild! So, the followers of theCross will then be left withneither a Cross for prayer nor apig for dinner. Thus, Christ(as)

will deprive the Christians of thearticles not only of their spiritualsustenance but also of theirphysical nourishment.

The third task for the Messiahwill be the killing of ‘Dajjal’, theAntichrist. Now who is thisAntichrist? According toTraditions, if taken literally, assome would have it, he will be aone-eyed Colossus who willcome riding an ass ofextraordinary proportions. Hewill be so tall that his head willstand higher than the clouds. Allprophets have warned theirfollowers against the evil of thisAntichrist. Now, while the

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Antichrist is busy ravaging theearth, the Messiah will descendfrom the heavens. He willengage the Antichrist in battlenear Damascus and slay him. Hewill then conquer the entireworld. Having done this, he willhand over its governance to theMuslims.

This, in sum, is their philosophyof the Muslims’ politicalresurgence and ascendancy. Itabsolves the Muslims totallyfrom waging any politicalstruggle whatsoever. Now, thosewho are basking in the assurancethat they will inherit the earthwithout moving a muscle cansee no possible reason toconcern themselves withpolitical thought and action.They live in blissful oblivion oftheir decay and degradation. For,everything else apart, they knowmost assuredly that the happyhour is not far when a divinebeing will descend from theheavens and unleash a campaignof conquests. He will slay theswine. He will wreck the Cross.He will subjugate all powers of

the East and the West. Then, hewill beckon to the waitingMuslim masses and say, ‘Comehither, ye soldiers of God; comehere, O virtuous ones! Come andtake this sceptre of the kingdomof the earth.’ This is thebellicose view of Muslimrenaissance which the AhmadiMuslims find abhorrent. Theysimply cannot subscribe to it inits crude literalism.

Next comes the non-AhmadiMuslims’ concept of theeconomic resurgence of Islam.The scholars of the other sectshold the view that the remedy ofthe economic plight of theMuslims lay not in struggle andsacrifice but in the appearance ofthe Imam Mahdi. This ImamMahdi will be a contemporary ofthe Messiah. His most importantact on arrival will be thedistribution of limitless largessamong the Muslims of theworld. His bounty will beboundless; his generosity willdefy description. This over-whelming wealth will far exceedthe Muslim’s capacity to garner

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it. Thus will come to an end alllust for goods and greed forgold. This is the panacea, asconceived by some, for theeconomic ills of the world ofIslam. According to this belief,the appearance of Imam Mahdiis in itself the answer to theeconomic misery of Muslims.There is no need for sweat, tearsand toil. There is no necessity toexplore the earth’s treasures, topeep into the heart of the atomand to seek out the secrets ofspace. Neither effort norindustry, nor inventiveness orapplication is needed. All that isneeded is the arrival of theMahdi. Again we differ andagain we, the Ahmadi Muslims,find this concept childish, crudeand unacceptable.

The Correct InterpretationAccording to Ahmadi Muslims Although the AhmadiyyaMuslim Community does not inany way reject the propheciesconcerning the descent of theMessiah and the appearance ofthe Mahdi, it does emphasisethat to put a literal meaning on

them is the height of naivetteand ignorance. We believe that itis as a result of not graspingfully the exalted station of theHoly Prophet(sa) that such aserious error is made inunderstanding his deep andphilosophical message. Men ofinsight and wisdom often useparables and allegories to outlinesubjects of such great import butthe superficial eye cannotperceive their meaning.

The Ahmadi Muslims believethat the whole range of subjectscovering the Messiah, theAntichrist and his ass isallegorical. The Messiah,therefore, is not that earlierprophet who was sent among theIsraelites. The Ahmadis believethat Jesus Christ(as) died a naturaldeath after surviving the tortureof the Cross. The Messiah of theprophecy was in fact to be a newperson who was to be bornamongst the followers of theHoly Prophet Muhammad(sa).Because of some characteristicsand qualities he was to sharewith Jesus(as), he would be given

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the title of ‘Messiah, Son ofMary’ in much the same way asa great dramatist is calledShakespeare. The reference tothe Cross, too, is a simile. TheMessiah will not literally goaround wrecking crosses: he willdefeat the Christian faith withstrong reasoning and powerfularguments.

The destruction of the Cross,therefore, stands for theideological rout of Christianity.Similarly, the word ‘swine’ isnot to be taken in the literalsense. It connotes the culturalfilth of the western world whichturns men into beastly beings.The word swine stands for theso-called sexual anarchysweeping across America andEurope. It stands for thedisgusting debauchery whichclaims even innocent children asits victims. The Traditions mostassuredly did not convey that theMessiah would hunt down herdsof wild boar or domesticatedpigs. This would be a strangeimage of a prophet of God. Itwould rather remind one of Ajax,

a hero from Greek mythology,who cut to pieces herds of cattleand flocks of sheep in the madbelief that they were the Greekarmy’s chieftains!

The Antichrist, too, like theMessiah, the Cross and the Swineis symbolic. He symbolises agreat and powerful nation whichrules not only the earth but alsospace. The Cross and the Swineare in fact symbols pertaining tothis nation. The Traditions saythat the Antichrist’s right eye willbe sightless but his left eye willbe large and bright. This is asymbolic description of the factthat though this nation would bedevoid of spiritual light yet itsmaterial insight and thereforematerial attainments, would begreat.

Lastly, the Ahmadi Muslimsconsider the Antichrist’s ass tobe a symbol too – a symbol thatwas used to describe the meansof transportation of the days tocome. All the features describ-ing this ass are withoutexception identifiable with the

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fuel-powered vehicles inventedby the West. Consider the salientfeatures of the ass as describedin the traditions – it will eat fire,it will travel over land, over seaand above the air; its speed willbe so great that it will cover ajourney of months within thespace of a few hours; thepassengers will travel not on itsback but in its belly whichwould be lit up; it will announceits departure and ask passengersto take their seats. Thefulfillment of these things withsuch wondrous exactness is aglorious testimony of the truth ofthe Holy Prophet Muhammad,peace and blessings of Allah beon him. According to Ahmadi Muslims,the prophecies relating to theadvent of the Imam Mahdi arealso symbolic. The wealth hewill distribute amongst Muslimsis the wealth of spiritualknowledge and wisdom, and notworldly wealth. The refusal ofsome to accept it furtherindicates what kind of wealth itwas to be; for man is neversatiated with material wealth: it

is only the spiritual treasures thathe spurns.

Thus Ahmadiyyat rejects thephilosophy of Islamic ren-aissance as explained above andpropagated by the other sects ofIslam. It holds that thisphilosophy is at variance withthe real intent of the Qur’anicteachings, at variance with thehistory of the prophets and mostof all at variance with thedemonstrated actions of theHoly Prophet Muhammad(as).Ahmadiyyat shuns this ideolo-gical opiate which lulls nationsinto inaction and leads them intothe world of make-believe andfantasy.

Ahmadiyya Philosophy ofRevival of Religion This philosophy is no differentfrom the one that is the commonheritage of all religions. This isthe only philosophy whichhistory supports. Although theScriptures and the legendsmention many who ascended tothe heavens, there is not oneinstance or account, since Adam,

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of the bodily return of anyone ofthem to earth.

So, regardless of the difference inthe manner of the professedascent to the heavens by some,there is none who is reported tohave returned to earth after a longdisappearance. Reformers havealways appeared from theordinary stock of human beingsand have always been rejectedand scorned by man. Noceremonial arches are evererected to welcome them. Nogarlands are offered. No lampsare lighted in joyous illumi-nation.

On the contrary, those who camein the name of God werepersecuted for committing this‘crime’. Their paths were strewnwith thorns. Dust was heaped ontheir heads and stones werethrown at them. They werecrowned with the crown ofthorns. Every conceivable torturewas inflicted on them. You seethem now, returning from thetown of Taif bathed in blood fromhead to foot. You see them again,

in the battlefield of Uhad, half-dead from their wounds, buriedunder the bodies of those wholaid their lives for them.

You will find their followerssuffering a similar fate. Everyconceivable torment is practisedon them. They are dragged bytheir feet through roughalleyways. They are made to lieon burning sands under asizzling sun. They are thrown onlive coal and held there till theembers die down. They arethrown out of their homes. Theyare driven into exile. They arethreatened with starvation. Theyare put to the sword. Thehusbands are taken from thewives and the wives from thehusbands. Parents are deprivedof their children. Every right thatlife bestows is denied to them.They are neither allowed to praynor to build mosques. They aredeprived of the right toannounce their faith. They arenot even permitted to name theirown creed.

Thus is man granted a new

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spiritual life. This is the path thatleads to the revival of religion.This is the phenonmenon that wesee at work in the life of theHoly Prophet Muhammad(sa) andin the life of every prophetbefore him. It is by treading thisperilous path that the prophetshave ever revived their nations.This is the philosophy of therevival of religions since thedays of Adam(as) to the days ofthe Holy Prophet(sa). When suchis the case, how can we thenaccept that the Almighty hasdecided to change this inviolableand time-honoured practice?

How can we then accept that theMuslims will inherit the earthwithout shedding a drop of theirblood and without making astroke of effort? How can webelieve that they will succeedwithout treading the path ofsacrifice? It did not happenbefore. It will not happen again.The Promised Messiah(as), theHoly Founder of the AhmadiyyaMuslim Community affirms thiseternal and everlasting truthwhen he warns the nation thus:

‘There has not been aProphet who was not laughedat. So it was to be that peoplelaughed at the PromisedMessiah.

The Almighty says:

Alas for My servants, therecomes not a Messenger tothem but they mock at him.(Ch.36:V.31)

So it is a sign from God thatevery prophet is mocked.Now, who can mock a personwho physically descendsfrom the heavens in thecompany of angels amidst awaiting crowd? The wise,therefore, can see that thebodily descent of thePromised Messiah fromheaven is false belief.Remember! No one willdescend from the sky. Allthose who oppose me and arenow alive will die and notone from amongst them willsee Jesus, Son of Mary,descend from heaven. Then

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their children and theirchildren’s children, too, willdie, and Mary’s Son will stillnot have descended. Thenwill God fill their hearts withfear that the days of theascendancy of the Cross arenear and yet Jesus, Son ofMary, has not come downfrom the heavens. The wisewill then tire of this belief.And before three centurieshave passed from this day,Muslims and Christians alikewill discard this false creedin disgust and despair. Thereshall be only one religion inthe world and only oneGuide. I have come but tosow the seed. This seed hasbeen sown at my hand. It willnow grow and bear fruit andthere is no power on earththat can harm it.’ (Tadhkarat-ush-Shahadat-ain, pp.64-65)

Every fair minded person can seefrom this comparison that theAhmadiyya viewpoint is basedon the history of religions whilethe philosophy of its opponents is

mythical and contradicts thehistory of religious revival. Welearn from history that everyoneappointed by God was faced witha storm of opposition. Allprophets came with the messageof truth and eternal life but wereopposed by those who preferredfalsehood to truth, and spiritualdeath to spiritual life.

This indeed is the process of thebirth of religions. Whenimpurities and corruption creptinto religions, their rebirth alsotook the same course. Thereformers sent by God alsosuffered as the prophets hadsuffered. Whenever the Almightychose to revive a nationspiritually, it split into two groups- those who saw the truth andthose who opposed it. Andneither group ever changed itsdemonstrated attitude. The HolyQur’an describes this oft repeatedcycle in a most effective andmoving manner. A study of theQur’an shows that:

Religions are born and revivedthrough divinely appointed

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reformers. Never have thescholars ever reformed a religionthrough conferences and con-sultations.

The divinely appointedreformers are invariably rejectedby their people and treated witharrogance and disdain. Suchreformers are always opposed byviolence. They are accused ofcorrupting the religion of theirforefathers. They are brandedheretics and held guilty ofapostasy.

The creed professed by theopponents prescribes death orbanishment as the punishmentfor apostasy. The reformers areoffered a choice of either a return

to the fold or exile, failing whichthey are threatened with death.

The reformers never advocateviolence. Their followersdemonstrate steadfastness ofsuch a high degree that theywould rather be exiled or killedthan recant.

The reformers do not enticepeople with promises of powerand high office: they dispelworldly ambition. They do notlure people with wealth; theyinculcate the spirit of sacrifice.The rich who believe consider ittheir good fortune to give theirall in the service of God; themighty shrug off the trappings ofpower. It is then that divine


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providence adjudges them fit totake over temporal power.

This is the process of religiousrevival of nations that the Qur’anand the Scriptures reveal. Allprophets from Adam(as) to theHoly Prophet Muhammad(sa)

went through these stages. Theygave their nations new life byleading them over the path ofsuffering and sacrifice. Theytaught love. They inculcated loveof hard work, of sustained effortand incessant actions. It is thisrevolutionary spirit whichbreathes life into dead nations.This oft-demonstrated andunchanging divine law is inconsonance with man’s nature,conscience and intellect. It is thislaw that the AhmadiyyaCommunity acknowledges.

As can be seen, the AhmadiyyaMuslim Community’s conceptof revival of religions is not anew-fangled philosophy born ofhuman intellect. It is derivedfrom that continuous andunaltered historical processwhich is preserved most

accurately and truly in the HolyQur’an. It is founded on thoseeternal principles and truthswhich are the basis of every truereligion. For instance, theQur’an declares:

There should be nocompulsion in religion.Surely, right has becomedistinct from wrong; sowhosoever refuses to be ledby those who transgress, andbelieves in Allah, has surelygrasped a strong handlewhich knows no breaking,And Allah is All-Hearing,All-Knowing.’(Ch.2: v.257)

Alas for My servants! therecomes not a Messenger tothem but they mock at him.(Ch.36: v.31)

Surely Allah changes not thecondition of a people untilthey change that which is intheir hearts.(Ch.13: v.12)

When the Prophet Shu'aib(as) was

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threatened by his people:

‘We will drive thee out OShu’aib, and the believers(that are) with thee, from ourtown, or you shall have toreturn to our religion.’ hemerely replied, ‘Even thoughwe be unwilling?’(Ch.7: v.89)

Noah’s(as) people, too, threatenedhim with stoning if he did notdesist:

They said, ‘If thou desist not,O Noah, thou shalt surely beone of those who are stoned.’(Ch.26: v.117)

This treatment was not reservedfor just a few prophets. TheQur’an summarises people’sattitude to the prophets in thesewords:

And those who disbelievedsaid to their Messengers, 'Wewill surely expel you fromour land unless you return toour religion.’(Ch.14: v.14)

Abraham(as) was punished forrecanting from the religion of hisforefathers and for voicing thetruth. The chiefs vented theirwrath by declaring:

They said? ‘Burn him andhelp your gods, if at all youmean to do anything.’(Ch.21: v.69)

Jesus Christ(as) was nailed to theCross because he disagreed withthe Jewish Scribes over theinterpretation of the Biblealthough he avowed openly:

‘Think not that I have cometo abolish the law, and theprophets; I have not come toabolish but to fulfill them.For truly, I say to you, tillheaven and earth pass away,not an iota, not a dot, willpass from the law until all isaccomplished.’ (Matthew: 5:17-18)

May I remind you that thecentral difference between JesusChrist(as) and the Jewish scholars

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was on the interpretation of theverse ‘And Elijah went up by awhirlwind into heaven’ (2Kings; Chapter 2, Verse 11). Thescholars stuck to the literal andapparent meanings of the verse.They believed that Elijah woulddescend bodily from heavenbefore the advent of Christ.Jesus Christ(as), on the otherhand, asserted that this was anallegory, that the language wassymbolic and not literal. Hedeclared that Zacharia’s sonJohn was the Elijah who was todescend from heaven. Jesus(as)

knew full well that John wasborn on earth and had certainlynot descended from heaven.

In answer to the question ‘Thenwhy do the Scribes say that firstElijah must come’, he replied:‘Elijah does come and he is torestore all things; but I tell youthat Elijah has already come, andthey did not know him, but didto him whatever they pleased. Soalso the son of man will suffer attheir hands. Then the disciplesunderstood that he was speakingto them of John the Baptist.’

(Matthew 17:10-13)

Lastly and above all was thesuffering of the Holy ProphetMuhammad(sa). In his ownwords, ‘No Prophet suffered asmuch as I did.’

Therefore, the history ofreligions teaches us thatprophets have always beennormal human beings. They donot descend from heaven like theheroes of some mythical tale.They have always suffered trialsand tribulations. Their followersgain glory not through the toilsof someone else but throughtheir own sweat and blood.

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The Spread of IslamFollowing the death of the HolyProphet(sa) in 632 CE, hissuccessors took the message ofIslam across the Middle East,Northern Africa and SouthernEurope. By 634, all of Arabiahad accepted Islam, by 635Damascus followed, and by 640,Egypt had joined the fold.

The Muslims provided securityto the Christians and Jewswherever the Muslims gainedinfluence, and were wellregarded by the Christians andJews. Examples were inPalestine, Spain and Egyptwhere outside influences hadkept the Christians and Jewssubjugated for years before the

arrival of the Muslims.

When Khalid bin Waleed tookDamascus in 635 CE, he set theprecedent for the way that theconquering Muslims dealt withtheir non-Muslim subjects. Thenon-Muslims, largely Jews andChristians in Damascus forinstance, were afforded fullprotection of their lives,possessions and places ofworship in return for a taxknown as Jizya.

In 638, Jerusalem capitulated ina bloodless episode. Again thecity dwellers and their GreekChristian Patriach Sophroniuswere offered the same Jizyaterms. The people of Jerusalem

Saladin – the Legend of Salahuddin

A thousand years ago, the Christian nations of Europe embarked upon awar from which we get the term Crusades.

Yet in the midst of battle, the Christians acknowledged the scruples of agreat and just Muslim leader, Salahuddin Ayyubi (known to them asSaladin), who fought them hard but with dignity. As we will see, hisexample is one we could all learn from.

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were shocked that the Jizya wasless cumbersome than the taxthey had been paying previouslyto their Byzantine masters. Theythen expected a grand entranceby the powerful Muslims, butinstead were even more shockedto see Caliph Umar(ra), the leaderof the fastest expanding empirein the world, arriving walkingbarefoot and sharing a camelwith his slave. This was thespirit of simplicity andbrotherhood of the zealousMuslims.

News of the rapid advance of theMuslims in the Middle Eastwould have been greeted withconcern and interest by theChristian Kings of WesternEurope. But that concern wouldhave reached fever-pitch whenthey heard the news that theMuslims had taken Spain in 711CE and were advancing towardsParis in the West, and theheartland of China in the East.

It was only after a defeat toCharles Martel in Tours in 732CE, a mere 150 miles from Paris

and less than 250 miles from theBritish coast, that the Muslimsdecided that they hadoverstretched themselves, andretrenched to the borders ofSpain.

The CrusadesChristianity was starting to farebadly at the hands of politicianswho launched programmes(Inquistions) against anyChristians that they thought tobe heretical. In Spain, theseInquisitions were later to belaunched against the Muslimsand Christians as well.

The Popes yielded great powerin the Catholic faith. It was PopeUrban II who called for theChristians to launch anexpeditionary war at the Councilof Clermont on 27 November1095. The aim was to repel theMuslims and to reclaim the HolyLand, and also to protectConstantinople (ironically it wasthe Crusaders themselves whoransacked Constantinople in1204 and this lead to the takingof the city by the Ottomans). The

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Pope urged action, and promiseda reward of God’s favour and aseat at His Throne.

In part this resurgence wassparked by the Fatimid Caliphal-Hakim who had tamperedwith the Church of the HolySepulchre in Jerusalem in 1009against the teachings of the HolyQur’an. The Qur’an teaches that,to denigrate the deities of otherfaiths or to harm their places ofworship is not just evil, butwould attract reprisals onMuslims.

Soon, in 1099, the Crusaderscaptured Jerusalem and createda Christian kingdom, plantingGodfrey of Boulogne as the newprince. The attack on Jerusalemhad been horrific, with no mercyshown to even women andchildren. Rivers of blood ranthrough the narrow streets of thecity. More than seventy thousandpeople were massacred at thisoccasion by the ruthlessCrusaders.The Crusaders, drawn fromseveral European countries, and

organised into Knights Orderssuch as the Templars andHospitaliers, found themselveswith a city full of booty. Notonly were they told that theirsins would be forgiven, but theynow had the chance to be richmerchants.

The Christian Crusaders fromWestern Europe had beenransacking the Middle East.When they reached Cairo led byAmaury the 1st of Jerusalem,they burnt down the old Muslimquarter of al-Fustat. The citywould have fallen to theCrusaders but for the inter-vention of the Sultan of Syria.

Far from uniting the Muslims,some of the Muslims used theCrusades as an opportunity togain revenge on local rivals, andsome allied themselves with theFranks. It was in this direscenario that renewed and urgentaction was needed to unite andlead the Muslims. The Jews alsosought protection for just as theywere finding under theInquistion, the Crusaders had no

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Islamic Cairo - shows location of Salahuddin’s Citadel and the older Mosques ofIbn Tulun and Al-Azhar.

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need to spare them also. The Jewsalso found their old alliance withthe Muslims useful once again.

SalahuddinSalahuddin Yusuf ibn NajmuddinAyyub ibn Shadlhi Abu’lMuzaffar Salah al-Din al-Malikal-Nasir, better known asSalahuddin Ayyubi in the MuslimWorld or just Saladin in the West,was born in Tikrit in modern Iraqin 1137 CE.

He was born into a Kurdish clanknown as the Ayyubids who hadoriginated from Armenia. Hisfather Najmuddin Ayyub, was aKurdish general serving in thearmy of the Sultan of Mosul.

Salahuddin’s early careerSalahuddin was given anexcellent education and began toshow promise at an early age.His father was a Governor andmoved to Mosul. He gave hisson a strict and disciplinedupbringing. Even at that age,young Salahuddin had made animpression on NooruddinMahmud, the monarch of Syria.

He became a lieutenant underhis uncle Asaduddin Sherkoh.He was known for his leadershipskills and also for his sense ofduty and honesty.

He was a devout Muslim, and sopreferred a modest lifestyle andsimplicity. The pomp and showthat others around him wereattracted to was not for him.

Salahuddin defends theMuslimsAs events unfolded aroundSalahuddin, he saw the attacksby the Crusaders, but instead ofthe unity he would haveexpected, he saw the Muslimworld disintegrating andbrothers fighting amongst them-selves. By this time, there hadbeen almost two centuries ofattacks and rule in the MiddleEast by the Crusaders.

The Crusaders had been pushingout from the Holy Land inseveral directions, and Egyptwas now very weak. As Cairotoo came under attack, theSultan despatched his

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Commander Sherkoh and hisvizier, Salahuddin. After hisuncle Sherkoh had defeated theCrusaders in the city, Salahuddinwas appointed Prime Minister ofEgypt in 1171 and strengthenedthe administration and army inEgypt. He then used Cairo as hisbase to repel the Crusaders inJerusalem and Syria.

He repelled the Crusaders inSyria and took Damascus in1175. His army then pushed intoTurkey and took Konya (betterknown as the home of Rumi). Hemanaged to exert greaterpressure on the Crusaders byuniting the tribes and regionsaround their troop settlements,and surrounding them fromvarious sides. There followedsix years of relative calmbetween 1176 - 1181 in whichvarious agreements that he hadnegoitiated held firm. It gave

both sides time to re-group andconsider their tactics.

Salahuddin controlled most ofNorth Africa up to Libya,Mesopotamia and Arabia, but itirked him that the Muslims stillhad no freedom in Jerusalem. Hewas taunted about this by theCrusaders.

Salahuddin reclaimsJerusalemIn earlier years, Salahuddinwould have been wary of otherMuslim factions stabbing him inthe back while he sought to dealwith the Crusaders. But he hadused his time wisely to createalliances, and therefore couldnow plan his capture ofJerusalem with a great deal moreconfidence.

Even under a truce, LordReginald of Chatillon, based at


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the castle of Karak (modernJordan) had broken the truce byattacking and looting caravansheading from Makkah to Syria.He had not even spared thewomen and children. They wereall booty to him. He even senthis troops into Arabia to withinstriking distance of Makkah andtaunted ‘since they trusted inMuhammad, let Muhammadcome and save them!’

The Christians were divided, asmany leaders such as Reginaldsought the throne vacated by thedeath of Baldwin V.

Salahuddin gathered a massivearmy and gradually reduced theCrusaders to a shambles. Hisarmy then took Tiberias wherehe allowed the Christians noblesto escape in peace.

By 1187, he had re-takenJerusalem by agreeing surrenderterms with the Crusaders. Theleaders and Knights managed topay off their freedom but leftthousands of poorer Christinasto fend for themselves when the

time for the treaty had expired.But Salahuddin freed the poorpeople even though they thoughtthat he was going to take theminto captivity.

When the Crusaders attackedJerusalem about 90 years before,they had annihilated all of theinhabitants of the city. WhenSalahuddin eventually recapturedJerusalem, not a single person

Salahuddin’s Citadel in Cairo

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was killed.

The Crusaders managed to getreinforcements under theleadership of Richard theLionheart and in 1191, he tookAcre in Palestine and butcheredthe local Muslim population.Then there followed a series ofencounters between Salahuddin(Saladin) and Richard whichspawned the legend of Saladin’schivalrous behaviour in battle.

Salahuddin ruled Egypt for 22years, and in order to secure hisposition, he built the Citadelfortification on one of the hillsoverlooking the city. He alsoestablished Madrasas andKhanqahs (Islamic schools andSufi monasteries) in the city. Hewas intent that Sunni Islambecome strong in the regionagain.

In the west, Salahuddin is bestknown for the way in which hefought the Crusaders. When theCrusaders had capturedJerusalem, a river of blood hadengulfed the city. When

Salahuddin re-captured the city,not a drop of Christian blood wasspilt.

In response, Richard theLionheart, Frederik of Germanyand the Emperor Phillip ofFrance sent a huge army to defeatthe Muslims. With his modestforce, Salahuddin held off anddefeated the Crusaders. He didnot just win, but the manner ofhis victories impressed theCrusaders. Even during theheight of battle, he still allowedthe Christians to enter Jerusalemas pilgrims and in peace.

When Richard was ill anddistressed, Salahuddin sent himfruit and gifts and made a treatywith him. These two great leadershad grown to respect each other.

Salahuddin died in Damascus in1193 at the age of 56 years.

The AyyubidsHis son al-Kamil took on hismantle and extended the Citadelin Cairo. The Ayyubids keptcontrol until 1250, and then their

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elite troops, the Mamluks,orginally freed slaves, tookpower when one of their elite, alMu’izz Aybak, married thewidow of the last Ayyubidleader. They ruled for over 250years.

In the centuries that followed,Muslim leaders were distractedby glamour and wealth, and thisshift in focus was evident. Thefocus on Mosque and universitybuilding was replaced by a zealfor elaborate palaces andharems. Hard work was replacedby games. Gradually theirinfluence on the world aroundthem waned.

ConclusionIn an ironic twist of history,Salahuddin was born in Tikrit inIraq almost a thousand yearsago, scene of muchbombardment in the recent Iraqwar.

He was forced into a situationcreated by the Knights ofEurope, yet he is remembered byhistory for the manner in which

he conducted his own defensivewar. And his success camedespite having little unity orsupport from other Muslims atthe start.

There are lessons in this for allof us. In some quarters it issuggested that the only way towin a battle is to play foul, yet heproved conclusively (as hadCyrus 1500 years before him)that the manner of victory is justas important as the victory itself.

The most outstanding examplewhich would have inspired himwould have been the torture thatthe Muslims had faced at thehands of the Makkans just a fewhundred years beforeSalahuddin. Yet when theMuslims accompanied the HolyProphet(sa) back to conquerMakkah, not only was no bloodspilt, but the Holy Prophet(sa)

forgave all of the people that hadtortured and killed hiscommunity for so many years.

Salahuddin had shown a similarspirit when he re-captured

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He was a man of honour andfaith. He shunned glamour andwealth, and preferred simplicity.

A physician from Baghdadcalled Abdel Latif describedSalahuddin in the followingterms:

‘a great prince whoseappearance inspired at oncerespect and love, who wasapproachable, deeplyintellectual, gracious andnoble in his thoughts. Allwho came near him took himas their model ...’ (Lane-Poole p.248)

He was a deeply religious man,and his view of islam wasorthodox, but at the same timebased around the very simplicityshown by the Holy Prophet(sa)

and a spirit of sacrifice.

There could be no betterexample of chivalry for us all tofollow.


1. Saladin and the fall of Jerusalem,Stanley Lane-Poole, firstpublished 1898, Greenhill Books,London 2002.

2. Revelation, Rationality,Knowledge and Truth, Mirza TahirAhmad, Islam InternationalPublications, 1998.3. The TimesAtlas of World History, 14thEdition, London 1995.4.Shorter Illustrated History of theWorld, J M Roberts, HeliconPublishing Ltd, Oxford 1993.

5. History of the Persian Empire, A.T. Olmstead, The University ofChicago Press, 1959.

6. A Chronology of Islamic History,H. U. Rahman, Ta-Ha Publishers,London 1999.

7. Great Personalities in Islam, BadrAzimabadi, Adam Publishers,Delhi 1998.

8. The Concise Encyclopeaedia ofIslam, Stacey International,London 1989.

9. The Inquisition, Michael Baigent& Richard Leigh, Penguin Books,London 2000.

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Some thoughts by the VenerableDennis Ede, formerly theArchdeacon of Stoke on Trent1989-1997. Honorary priest incharge at Tilford Parish in thediocese of Guildford (Church ofEngland / Anglican) 1997-2002.

I am writing from aJudaeo-Christian position, sinceJews and Christians share thecustody of the scripturesenshrined in what is called theHoly Bible.

The Jewish Bible comprises the39 books of the pre-Christian erafrom approximately 2000 BC,starting with the book of Genesis

and finishing with the prophecyof Malachi, (these books arereferred to by Christians as theOld Testament); there are severalother writings including the I5sacred writings which arepeculiar to Jews and Christians inwhat is called the Apocrypha.

There are also sacred writings forthe Jews only, such as the Mishnaand Talmud which are not giventhe same priority as for examplethe others. Christians have acollection of 28 sacred writings,not received nor recognised byJews, including the four gospelrecords of the ministry of Jesusthe Christ, plus a history of thetime immediately after Jesus’ascension, then letters and otherscriptures finishing with a poeticvision of ‘beginnings and

Religion is Peace Symposium On April 25th the Ahmadiyya community hosted a Peace Symposium at BaitulFutuh Mosque in London, where speakers from a number of different faiths spoketo a large audience about the subject of peace within their own religion. Weproduce below, two speeches from religious representatives from the Christianand Hindu faiths with the kind permission of the two speakers.

The Christian Perspective

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endings’ in a book called‘Revelation’. These forrn thecore of evidence for the Christianfaith known as the NewTestament. What I now have tosay is an attempt at a distillationof Judaeo-Christian evidenceabout peace.

Peace is ironic, in that it doesdenote an absence of war, yet italso means much more than that.Much of the story line of the OldTestament is set in a permanentstate of war. For example Mosesin Egypt I350 BC is chosen byGod to lead the Hebrews acrossthe Sea of Reeds through theSinai Desert eventually settlingin ‘a land flowing with milk andhoney’, but not before they havefought it out with the tribes inpossession of these territories.

There is always a pining forPEACE, but nobody is sure whatpeace means. Clearly God is attimes displeased with thosechosen to bring about hispurposes, to wit, the Children ofIsrael or the Jews, but God isequally if not more displeasedwith Israel’s opponents, forexample, the Philistines theHivites, the Perizites and therest.

On whose side is God? It is notalways clear. Certainly when theHebrews were in disfavour inabout 600BC, a tyrant kingNebuchadnezzar from Babylon(modem day Iraq!) advances totake most of them into captivityin Babylon; however after 60years God chooses a dis-believing monarch, Cyrus Kingof Persia to emanicipate these


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Hebrews from slavery allowingthem to return to their homelandin Jerusalem.

What amazes me in all this ishow religion, peace and war areall inter-twined. The religioncannot be told without thepolitics, nor politics without thereligion. For me one of the greatstories in the book of Judgescentres on a man called Samson,a crude brute of a man, whosestrength is in letting his hairgrow; his wife betrays him to hisenemies and they cut his hair, hebecomes limp, they then capturehim, but he has the last laugh.

His hair re-grows, his strengthreturns and though his eyes havebeen disgorged, he manages todestroy more than 3000 in thetemple of Dagon by collapsingthe pillars of the temple by hisgreat strength. How, you willask, was God achieving peace inthat situation?

The story line of the NewTestament is equally strange. It is

about a man sent by God to sortout mankind once and for all.This man speaks wisely, hebehaves compassionately, heseeks justice for the weakest, hechallenges those in authoritytheir bogus religiosity and theirpower politics. He becomespopular among the peoplewithout aiming to be, but in theend they all turn against him, hefaces a false trial, is humiliated,abandoned by his closest friends,is murdered by crucifixion, thenafter three days reappears andsays to them: ‘PEACE be withyou’. What a strange story.

In 2000 years, humankind hasbeen educated, has discoveredscience, technology, art, litera-ture, music, poetry plus so muchelse, but we are still a threat toone another. We ask why is thisour story line? We have athousand answers, but still we donot know why.

Peace is not simply the absenceof war, it is much more positive.It is when we say to our enemy:

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Religion is Peace Symposium

‘I want you to prosper, be safe,have good health, have a family,even become rich, I want for youall that is good!’.

Jesus in his sayings told hishearers:

‘you must love your enemies;it’s too easy just to love theirfriends!’

Jesus also said that we need tobe self-critical if we want peace:

‘why’ he asked ‘do you seethe spec in you neighbour’seye and see not the plank inyour own?’

Peace is about living in

community and not behind gatedexecutive estates. We cannothave peace on our own; but inour individualised society whenwe do not even know the folksnext door, our concept of peaceis about self-preservation. Wecan only have peace if we desirepeace for our neighbour, and ifwe seek that inner peace whichonly our Divine Maker canbestow on us. Peace is thustriangular.

Today religion is muchdiscredited. How many folkswould agree with the title of thissymposium: Religion is Peace?Very few I fear. This religiousrejection is partly caused byintellectual arrogance since the


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Religion is Peace Symposium

I8th century, partly to do withspiritual laziness yet self-sufficiency, but also because ourculture tells us we do not want tobe obligated to God or anyoneelse. Religion is also discreditedbecause of what we have done toit!

Speaking for Christians, at timesI feel that we have been suckedinto contemporary consumerismand a lust for money as asolution to all problems. If youwere an agnostic, would youtoday be attracted to religion?We do not have a good trackrecord of inter-faith relation-ships, we even bicker within ourown faith!

Is our today’s enterprise inharmony precipitated by thecontemporary warlike scene?But fear not! God, Allah,Yahweh, the Unseen One, theCreator, the Communion ofDivine Beings, call it what wewill, in the end his humour, hiscompassion, his hidden purposewill see us through; and what of

ourselves, perhaps we are justhalf awake, half seeing, halfhearing, perhaps to quote anscene in the Christian Gospels,‘we now just see people as ifthey are trees’, well, that is astart at least.

I congratulate our hosts theAhmadiyya Muslim AssociationUK for this initiative so that wecan confront these issues and behonest and not a littleself-critical in the process.

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60 The Review of Religions – September 2004

Some thoughts from JaiSwaminarayan, a Hinduvolunteer from the SriSwaminarayan Temple inNeasden, North London.

Namaste! Good evening! Jaiswaminarayan

Thank you for giving me thiswonderful privilege ofaddressing friends in such anexotic spiritual ambience – Itruly feel at home with you all.

My spiritual master, PuiyaPramukh Swami Maharajarrived in London yesterday. Hesends you all his greetings andhis love.

Words are very important andeven more important in thecontext of todays forum –‘Religion for Peace’. Aftergreat deliberation, we thought itwould be most appropriate if Iread out two extracts as ourinterfaith messages.

The Hindu Perspective

Religion is Peace Symposium On April 25th the Ahmadiyya community hosted a Peace Symposium at BaitulFutuh Mosque in London, where speakers from a number of different faiths spoketo a large audience about the subject of peace within their own religion. Weproduce below, two speeches from religious representatives from the Christianand Hindu faiths with the kind permission of the two speakers.

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The first message I would like toread to you is actually an extractfrom our unique exhibition inakshardham which is our largemonument near Ahmadabad inIndia. Over 3 million people ayear visit this monument. Thismessage is therefore conveyedto a large number of peopleevery year.

The message reads:

‘All religions stand side by side,and go hand in hand;

they are but one family.

born on the same earth,growing under the same skies,they share the same threads of

purity and morality.

like windows in an endlesstapestry of man’s eternal

search,they give visions of truth and

realityand the real truth of all religion

is harmony.

our prayers may differ in words

and ways,but they convey the same


our pilgrim places may differ inplace and form

but they carry the same sanctity

our morals may differ in phraseand style

but they preach the samemessage,

our religions may differ insymbols and names.

but they reveal the samemeaning


The second message I wouldlike to read out to you is anextract from His Holiness’sspeech that he made on the 29thAugust 2000 at the millenniumworld peace summit of spiritualleaders at the United Nations.

‘let usteach our followers that religion does not grow

by quantity of numbers, but by


Religion is Peace Symposium

The Review of Religions – September 2004

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quality of spirituality;

vertical depth is much moreimportant than horizontal


If the follower of every religionbecomes a better and true

follower, then our world will bea much better world.

Therefore, we should steer ourfollowers away from fanaticismand towards harmony and pure


Let us guide ourselves and ourfollowers not only to toleratebut to respect other religions,

not just to exist but to co-exist.

we must not progress at the costof others,

but sacrifice a part of ourselvesfor the good of others,

because in the good of otherslies our own,

in the progress of others restsour own

and in the joy of others abidesour own.’

Thank you for listening to thesetwo short extracts. May I wishyou all the very best in pursuingthe goal of religion for peace.May God guide us so that welearn to love and live with eachother.__________________________


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The Review of Religions – September 2004

The Lord lives in the heartof every creature. He turnsthem round and roundupon the wheel of hisMaya. Take refuge utterlyin Him. By His grace youwill find supreme peace,and the state which isbeyond all change.(Bhagavad Gita 18.61-62)

With this peace thedreadful I appease,

with this peace the cruel I appease,

with this peace all evil I appease,

so that peace may prevail,happiness prevail!

(Atharva Veda 19.9.14)

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63The Review of Religions – September 2004


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