Ahmadiyya Priangan Timur


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Holy Prophet’s Nearness to God Almighty

God does not create another god like Himself, because His attribute of Unity and of being Peerless, which is eternal, prevents Him from doing so.... But He does create a sample of His Peerless Being by investing one of His creation, as a reflection, with His attributes which in reality belong to Him alone. There is an indication of this in the Holy Qur’an in the verse:
Some of them He exalted by degrees of rank.’—al-Baqarah, 2:254

Here by the possessor of high ranks is meant our Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] upon whom were bestowed the highest ranks which are the reflection of Divine attributes and he became a mirror reflecting God, thus manifesting in a perfect degree, the vicegerence of God for the perfection of which not only mankind but the whole universe was created. This is very fine point and our opponents, who are unaware of these fine points, and are not acquainted with these Divine mysteries, will wonder how out of millions of human beings only one person could achieve the rank of perfect vicegerence of God, which is the reflection of Godhead.

This is not the place to enter into a detailed exposition of  this matter, but we consider it necessary to point out, in order to make it clear to a seeker after truth, that it is Divine law which is in accord with His attribute of Unity that, Himself being One, in His manifestations of His attribute of creation, He pays regard to Unity. If we reflect deeply over what He has created, we would find that the whole of creation is so adjusted that it is like a straight line, one end of which is raised high and the other end of which is sunk low.... On the last point of the highest part is a man, who in his human capacity is above the whole of mankind, and at the lowest end would be the soul possessing a defective capacity which due to this extreme loss is close to senseless animals.

If we look at the planetary system, we find this phenomenon further supported. God Almighty has perfected His creation by starting with the smallest particle and carrying it to the largest body, the sun. In this planetary system, God has doubtless created in the sun so grand, beneficial, and blessed a body that there is no other body which is its equal at the highest end. Thus observing the highest and the lowest ends of this system, which are always present before our eyes, we can understand that the spiritual system which has also proceeded from Him, is arranged in the same manner. It also has the same high and low points. The works of God Almighty are similar and balanced. He is One and in the manifestation of His works, He loves Unity. Discord and confusion have no place in them. So dear and appropriate is His method that all His works follow a system and are adjusted to each other.

Finding a proof in every direction and having observed ourselves, we accept His law that all His works, spiritual as well as material, are not divergent and confused, but follow a wise system and are part of an arrangement which, beginning with the lowest, proceeds to the highest and that this uniform method is loved by Him. Accepting this, we have to confess that as in the material system, beginning with a particle, God has carried His creation up to the great body, the sun, which combines in itself visible perfection, than which no material body is greater. In the same way, there must be a spiritual sun, that is situated at the highest point of the spiritual elevation.

Now the question is, who is the perfect man described as ‘the spiritual sun’ and what is his name. It is not a matter which could be settled by simple reason. Because, except for God Almighty, none else possesses this distinction, and for the matter of that, who can carry out by the exercise of reason alone this tremendous task, that keeping in mind millions of God Almighty's creatures and comparing their spiritual powers and faculties, he should single out and identify the greatest of all. Without doubt, rationally speaking, no one can make such a claim. True, for investigating such lofty and equally profound phenomena, revealed scriptures do constitute one means to achieving it, in which God Almighty, prior to the coming of the Holy Prophetsa, indeed thousands of years before him, described fully the address and identity of the perfect man.

The person whose heart is guided by Allah and who believes in revelation and reflects on the prophecies that are mentioned in the Bible, will be bound to confess that the perfect man who is the spiritual sun, by whom the highest point has been filled, and who is the last brick of the wall of Prophethood, is Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him].... The point of
the highest exaltation of that good personified, who is situated at the highest point of the spiritual line, that is tosay, Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] which had been determined for him by Divine decree, has been exhibited palpably in the world of manifestation. As God has said with reference to the high dignity of this great Prophet:

‘Some of them He exalted by degrees of rank.’—al-Baqarah, 2:254 

By this exaltation in rank is meant the highest point of the spiritual line which has been bestowed upon the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] overtly and covertly. This benign being, who is good personified, is higher and more perfect than the three types of God's favourites and is called the perfect manifestation of Godhead.

The three types of nearness to the Divine are illustrated by three resemblances; by pondering on these the reality of the three grades of nearness can be appreciated. The first type of nearness is illustrated by its resemblance to the relationship between servant and master as God has said:
al-Baqarah, 2:166

This means that the believers, who in other words can be called obedient servants, love their Lord above everything else.

Just as a sincere and faithful servant, by witnessing the continuous beneficence and many bounties and the personal qualities of his master, advances in his love and sincerity so much so that he acquires a similar temperament and follows the same way as that of his master, on account of the personal love born in his heart. Thus he desires fulfilment of his master's wishes quite like the master himself. The same is the attitude of the faithful servant towards God Almighty. He too, progressing in his sincerity and fidelity, arrives at a stage where he ceases to be himself, and assumes the colour of his Noble Master….

The second type of nearness to God resembles the nearness
between father and son as God Almighty says:

al-Baqarah, 2:201

The third type of nearness resembles a person's own reflection. As a person views his own reflection in a large clear mirror and beholds the whole of his form together with all his features reflected in the mirror; in the same way, in this third type of nearness all Divine attributes become reflected clearly in his being and this reflection is more complete and perfect than the resemblances which have been mentioned before. It is obvious that a person beholding his own reflection in a mirror finds it in exact accord with himself. That degree of resemblance cannot be acquired by anyone else through any device, nor can it be found in a son. This degree of nearness is achieved by one who is placed so equally between the two chords of Divinity and servitude, is so related to both as if he has become the very same and by removing his own self from between, serves like a mirror. That mirror being faced in two directions obtains the impress of the Divine by reflection from one direction and from the other direction it conveys all grace according to the capacity of different temperaments to those who are adjusted to it. This is indicated in the Word of God:

al najm 53;9-10

This means: He then came close (to Allah Almighty), and then descended (to communicate the divine injunctions to humanity). In ascending high he arrived at the extreme point of nearness to God and between him and God there was left no veil, and then he descended towards mankind and between him and mankind there was no veil left. As he was complete and perfect in his ascent and descent, his place becomes that of a chord between two bows. He approached close to the chord of Divinity and that of servitude, or even closer than can be imagined. The two bows can be illustrated as under:
The line that divides a circle equally is a chord between two bows. This chord lies between the Benefactor and the beneficiary. At its extreme perfection, which is the ultimate point of all perfections, it resembles the centre of the circle which is the middle point of the chord. This point is the heart of the perfect man and is equally related to the bow of Divinity on one side, and to that of servitude on the other. This is the highest point of the lines that might be drawn from the centre to the circle. Although there are many other points in the chord between the two bows, yet with the exception of the point of the centre, other Prophets and Messengers and righteous persons can share in those points. The central point represents the perfection which the master of the chord possesses in a high and special and distinctive manner in which no other person can be a sharer with him in the true sense, but by following and obedience one can become a sharer by way of reflection.

The name of this central point is the reality of Muhammad, which is the source of all verities in the world. In truth, the line of the chord has expanded from this central point and its spirituality is charged in the whole of the chord, the holy grace of which has been bestowed upon the whole chord. The first and highest manifestation of the world which the Sufis describe as the names of Allah, is this central point which in the idiom of men of God is called the personal point of Ahmad Mujtaba and Muhammad Mustafa and in the idiom of the philosophers, it is named primary reason. This point has the same relationship to the other points of the chord which the Grand Name of God has to the other names of God.

In short, the mirror that reflects the perfect man, and the fountainhead of all hidden verities, and the key to all certainties is this very point which is the ultimate cause of all the mysteries of the beginning and the end and the reason for the creation of the low and the high. To visualise it is beyond the power of all reason and understanding. As all life receives grace from the life of God Almighty, and all beings have come into existence through His Being, and all determination is the result of His determination, in the same way, the point of Muhammad, by the command of God, affects all ranks and degrees according to their various capacities and temperaments.

As this point combines, and indeed sums up all Divine ranks (by way of reflection) and all dimensions of the universe (as source and reality), it epitomizes, therefore, all stages of the universe, namely, souls and intellects – in whole or in part – and all physical stages to the end of their limits. In the same way, being the reflection of Divinity, it resembles Divine ranks as a reflection in the mirror resembles the original; and the basic Divine attributes, that is to say, life, knowledge, will, power, hearing, sight and speech with all their branches, are reflected in it in a complete and perfect manner. The central point which is suspended between God and His creation, that is to say, the personal point of our lord Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] cannot be confined merely to the word of Allah as the title of Jesus has been so confined, inasmuch as, this Muhammadi point combines in itself as a reflection all the Divine ranks. That is why Jesus has been likened to a son on account of the deficiency from which he suffered; for the reality of Jesus is not a complete manifestation of Divine attributes, but is only one branch out of its many branches. As a contrast, the reality of Muhammad is a complete and perfect manifestation of all Divine attributes. For this reason, the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] has been likened in heavenly Books to a reflection of God, the Glorious. His station is one of the father rather than that of the son. The imperfect nature of the teaching of Jesus and the perfection of Qur’anic teaching, as compared with all other revealed teachings, is also due to this, for incomplete grace is bestowed upon the incomplete and perfect grace is bestowed upon the perfect.

Of the resemblances to God on the part of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] which are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, is the verse:
Al Najm 53:9-10
That is to say: The Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] on account of his nearness to God, is like the chord between two bows and even closer.

It is obvious that on the higher side of the chord is the bow of Divinity so that when the whole soul of Muhammad, on account of its intense nearness and clearness, advanced from the chord and approached even closer to the ocean of Divinity, it fell into that limitless ocean and his particle of humanness was lost in that ocean. This advance was nothing new or recent, but had been determined in eternity and it was worthy of being described in heavenly Books and revealed writings as the perfect manifestation by way of reflection of Divinity and a mirror which reflected God Himself. Another verse of the Holy Qur’an in which this resemblance has been clearly mentioned is:
al-Fath, 48:11

Those who swear allegiance to thee swear allegiance to
Allah; Allah's hand is above their hands.

People who swore allegiance to the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] did so by putting their hands in his hand. In this verse, God Almighty metaphorically referred to the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] as Himself and described his hand as His Own hand. This expression has been used concerning the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] on account of his extreme closeness to God. This is indicated also in the verse:
al-Anfal, 8:18
And you did not throw when you threw, but it was Allah Who threw.

The same indication is found in the verse:

al-Zumar, 39:54

Say: O my servants who have committed excesses against your souls, (i.e., committed grave sins) despair not of the mercy of Allah. Allah will forgive all sins.

Now it is obvious that mankind are not the servants of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] and indeed all Prophets and non-Prophets are the servants of God Almighty, but as the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] was closest to God, this idiom was employed in his case. In the same way, God Almighty has bestowed names upon the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] which are Divine attributes. The Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] was named Muhammad, which means greatly praised. Great praise in reality belongs to God Almighty, but was bestowed upon the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] by way of reflection. In the same way, the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] has been named 'Light' in the Holy Qur’an , which illumines the world, the Mercy which safeguards the universe against decline, and 'Compassionate' and 'Merciful,' which are the names of God. In many places in the Holy Qur’an it has been indicated and also expressly mentioned that the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] is the perfect manifestation of the Divine and that his word is the word of God and his advent is the advent of God. In this context one of the verses of the Holy Qur’an is:

Announce: Truth has come and falsehood has disappeared,
falsehood is bound to perish.

In this verse ‘Truth’ signifies God the Glorious, the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] and by falsehood are meant Satan and the satanic group and satanic teachings. Here God Almighty included the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] in His own name and the advent of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] became the advent of God Almighty, the majestic advent in consequence of which Satan with all his hosts ran away and his teachings were brought into contempt and his forces suffered a great defeat.

On account of this perfect resemblance the Holy Qur’an mentions in Surah Al-e-‘Imran that God took a covenant from all the Prophets that it was incumbent upon them to believe in the greatness and majesty of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] and to help in their propagation. For this reason, beginning with Adam right down to Jesus all Prophets and Messengers confessed the greatness and majesty of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. Moses [peace be on him], by announcing that: God came from Sinai and arose from Seir and shone forth from Mount Paran,147 which clearly shows that the manifestation of Divine Majesty reached its climax at Paran and the sun of righteousness shone in its full glory at Paran. The Torah tells us that Paran is a mountain of Mecca where Isma‘il, the ancestor of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] made his dwelling. This is confirmed by geographical maps. Even our opponents know that no Prophet has been raised in Mecca except the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. Consider, therefore, how clearly has Moses borne witness that the sun of righteousness that would rise at Paran would shed the fiercest rays and that the progress of the light of truth will arrive at its climax in his blessed person….

The purport of all this is that the grades of nearness to Allah are three and that the third one which is the perfect manifestation of Divinity and is a mirror reflecting God, pertains admittedly to our lord and master Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] whose rays illumine thousands of hearts and are cleansing numberless bosoms of inner darknesses and are leading them to eternal light. It has been well said that:

Muhammad of Arabia, King of both the worlds;
Whose threshold is safeguarded by the Holy Spirit.
I cannot call him God, but I do say;
To recognize him is to recognize God.

How fortunate is the person who accepts Muhammad, the
chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] as
his leader and the Holy Qur’an as his guide. O Allah,
bless our lord and master Muhammad and his people and
his companions all of them. All praise is due to Allah Who
has guided our hearts to His Own love and to the love of
His Messenger and the love of His favourite servants.

When our moon cast a glance of love at our heart,
Our dark heart was transmuted into pure silver.
Every moment the all-encompassing grace of my beloved continues
to invite;
Although who are not of us continue to bar the way.
Day or night, I lie like dust in my beloved’s lane;
What other sign could there be of our good fortune and honour!

[Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 232-301, footnote]

The Holy Qur’an has set this matter out in an excellent allegory, which we produce below and which is a fine piece of Qur’anic exegesis and is of crucial importance for the final understanding of the present discussion.

al-Nur, 24:36

This means that: Allah is the light of heavens and the earth, that is to say, every light that is visible in the heights or in the depths, whether in souls or in bodies, whether personal or acquired, whether overt or covert, whether inner or external, is a bounty of His grace. This is an indication that the general grace of the Lord of the worlds encompasses everything and that nothing is without His grace. He is the source of all grace and the Cause of causes of all lights and the Fountainhead of all mercies. His Being is the support of the whole universe and is the refuge of all high and low. He brought everything out of the darkness of nothingness and bestowed upon it the robe of existence. There is no other being who exists in his own right and is eternal, or is not the recipient of His grace. The earth and heaven and mankind and animals and stones and trees and souls and bodies, all owe their existence to His grace. This is general grace mentioned in the verse:

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth al-Nur, 24:36

This grace encompasses everything like a circle. For being the beneficiary of this grace, there is no condition attached. As compared with this there is a special grace which has conditions attached and which is bestowed only upon those individuals who have the ability and capacity to receive it, that is to say, on the perfect individuals who are Prophets, the best and highest of whom is Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. As that grace is a fine verity, therefore, God Almighty, after mentioning the general grace, has described the special grace for the purpose of expounding the light of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] in an allegory so that it should be easily understood.

The translation of the remaining part of the above verse is: That light is exemplified (by the perfect man, the Messenger) as if there were a lustrous niche (by which is meant the breast of the Holy Prophet—peace and blessings of Allah be on him). In the niche, there is a lamp (meaning Divine revelation). The lamp is contained in a crystal globe as bright as a glittering star, (meaning the pure and holy heart of the Holy Prophet—peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)—which in its nature is free from all dirt and opaqueness, like a clear mirror and has no relationship except with God). That mirror is as bright as a glittering star, which shines in heaven with great glory (meaning that the heart of the Holy Prophet—peace and blessings of Allah be upon him—is so clear and bright that its inner light is displayed on its outer surface flowing like water). That lamp is lit with the oil of a blessed tree, (which is an olive tree). (By this is meant the being of the Holy Prophet—peace and blessings of Allah be upon him—which is a collection of diverse types of blessings and the grace of which is not confined to any place or age or direction, but is everlastingly flowing and will never be cut off). The blessed tree is neither of the east nor of the west (that is to say, the nature of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] suffers neither from excess nor from deficiency and has been created in the best mould). The oil of the blessed tree by which the lamp of revelation is lit, means the fine bright reason of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] together with the natural high moral qualities which are nourished by the clear fountain of his perfect reason.

The meaning of the lamp of revelation being lit up by the high moral qualities of the Holy Prophet—peace and blessings of Allah be upon him—is that the grace of revelation descended upon them and they were the cause of the descent of revelation. There is here also an indication that the grace of revelation was in accord with the nature of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] the explanation of which is that revelation descends in accord with the nature of the Prophet to whom it is vouchsafed. For instance, the temperament of Moses [peace be on him] was compounded of glory and wrath; so in accord with it the Torah was revealed in the framework of a majestic law. Jesus had a temperament which was meek and gentle and so the Gospel teaches meekness and gentleness. The Holy Prophet was by temperament extremely firm and steadfast. He disliked to be unduly lenient, nor did he like to be wrathful on every occasion. Instead his was a sagacious temperament that paid due regard to the demands of the occasion. Therefore, the Holy Qur’an was also revealed in an appropriate and moderate mould which combines severity and kindness, awe and compassion, and hardness and softness. In this verse, God Almighty has disclosed that the lamp of the revelation of the Qur’an has been lit from the oil of a blessed tree which is neither of the east nor of the west, but is in accord with the moderate temperament of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] which has neither the severity of the temperament of Moses, nor the softness of the temperament of Jesus but is a compound of hardness and softness and of wrath and compassion and displays perfect moderation and is a combination of majesty and beauty. The high moral qualities of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] are referred to in another place in the Holy Qur’an in the words:

(O Prophet!) You have been created blessed with high moral qualities. al-Qalam, 68:5 

This means that the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] was created with such perfection of high moral qualities as could not be exceeded. The word ‘azim, which has been used in the verse, signifies in Arabic idiom, the highest perfection of the species. For instance, when it is said that a tree is ‘azim, it means that it possesses all the length and breadth which it is possible for a tree to possess. Some lexicologists have said that ‘azim signifies greatness which is beyond human ken. By the word Khulq, when used in the Holy Qur’an, and also in other books of wisdom, is meant not merely good behaviour and kindness and gentleness. Khalq and Khulq are two distinct words which are used in juxtaposition to each other. Khalq means the physical body which God bestows on man whereby man is distinguishable from other animals. Khulq means the inner qualities by virtue of which the reality of humanness is distinguishable from the reality of animals. Thus, all the inner qualities which distinguish a man from animals are comprised in Khulq. As the tree of human nature is based on moderation and is free from excess or deficiency, which is found in the faculties of animals. Almighty Allah points to this by saying:

‘We have created man in the best of creative plans.’—al-Tin, 95:5

The word Khulq, when it is not accompanied by any pejorative qualification, always means high moral qualities. These high moral qualities comprise all the inner qualities which are found in man as clear reason, quick understanding, good memory, good remembrance, chastity, modesty, steadfastness, contentment, piety, high resolve, perseverance, justice, trust, generosity in its proper place, sacrifice in its proper place, benevolence in its proper place, beneficence in its proper place, bravery in its proper place, gentleness in its proper place, forbearance in its proper place, indignation in its proper place, courtesy in its proper place, respect in its proper place, compassion in its proper place, kindness in its proper place, mercy in its proper place, fear in its proper place, love in its proper place, love for God and withdrawal towards God, etc. The oil would well-nigh glow forth even though no fire were to touch it (that is to say, the reason and all the high qualities of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] were so perfect and appropriate and delicate and bright, that they were ready to be lit up even before the receipt of revelation). Light upon light; that is to say, that many lights were combined in the blessed being of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] and on those lights descended the heavenly light of Divine revelation and thereby the being of the Khatamul- Anbiya’ [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] became a combination of lights.

[Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 191-195, footnote 11]

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