Jihad of the Pen
Many take up the pen, but few are granted the spirit to conduct the Jihad in the most acceptable manner. Many wish to take up the pen, but their incorrect beliefs and lack of knowledge prevent them from doing so, and thus they drop back into a state of undeclared truce. But, it is the Jama'at Ahmadiyya only which has not stopped this great struggle ever since its inception and it has become the only vehicle to usher in the revival of Islam through its peaceful, yet determined intellectual process which was initiated a century ago by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi in Islam.The revival of Islam started towards the end of the 19th century and its manifestations started to become more noticeable to those Muslims who had given up hope at that time. It is the direct result of the crusade initiated by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. This is a basic truth which all would do well to keep in mind. No one should be carried away with the idea that it is due to his own efforts, or the effort of some nominated crusader as we shall see. Allah does not need crusades of charity. However, crusading in the cause of faith does have its merits, with Allah, depending upon the degree of certainty of true knowledge, and the sincerity of heart behind its purpose. To expect, however, that Allah will bless a thoughtless crusade is a different matter. Once the Divine Community has been established, only those genuine efforts which are from within this Community are destined to be blessed by Allah. The chances of others to be blessed by Allah, are the same as the chances of a stream reaching the sea, that no doubt collects some water from the mountain, but veers on a course away from the main river. This is no shortage of rain, yet that particular stream would never reach the sea. See how the rain of divine revelation channeled Islam into a mighty river through the person of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Through the same rain, Islam has now been revived through the person of Promised Messiah and Mahdi of our era.
Presently we shall see that some self-styled champions of the crusade of Islam, although being acutely aware of the phenomenon we discussed above, still choose to deny it, and end up with either vain exhortations, self-praise, or even outright lies. Our aim here is not to discourage anyone from writing or speaking anything he chooses, because there is no compulsion in religion, but to give praise where praise is due and to keep the record straight by alerting the unwary reader. There is absolutely no harm in copying the ideas of the Promised Messiah, because they speak for the success of his mission. But when his opponents start copying his writings and teachings it becomes our duty to warn the people about their publications.
We start with the basic undeniable fact that all establishments, societies, associations, jamaats, leagues, councils, brotherhoods or any other organised Islam-orientated group which publishes its views or those holding similar beliefs about Islam, must necessarily be deemed as actively engaged in the Jihad of the pen.
And We have expounded the (Quran) to them in diverse ways that they may take heed, but most men would reject everything but disbelief. If We had pleased, We would have surely raised a warner in every city; So obey not the disbelievers and strive against them by means of (the Quran) with a mighty striving. (25:51-53)The reason we have chosen these verses is to illustrate the point that the resurgence of Islam must necessarily come from first principles, i.e.; the exposition of the Holy Quran and the original principles of his great religion. Hence a person who takes up the pen in the cause of Islam is indeed striving hard and is engaged in the Jihad of the pen. It follows, that people engaged in this work carry on their shoulders the serious responsibility of ensuring accuracy and maintaining the contradiction-free nature of their publications. Without this seriousness their so-called Jihad or efforts would surely become a source of aversion for interested non-Muslims, a cause for misguidance of new converts, a reason for added confusion and doubt for all Muslims.
Let us now examine two books published by The Islamic Foundation on behalf of Islamic Council of Europe, which has arrogated upon itself the distinction of being a supreme co-ordination body for Islamic centres and organisations of Europe. These are:
Islam - its Meaning and Message (1975, 1983)
and Towards Understanding ISLAM (1980, 1985).
The first book laments on p. 229 that modern thinkers in Islam have forgotten all the ahadith pertaining to the last days and the appearance of the Mahdi; or misconstrued or laid them aside, either through ignorance or malevolence. The second book expresses a belief which goes against the former when on p. 79 it denies the appearance of any personage on whom it would be essential for a Muslim to believe. These two opposing beliefs are irreconcilable, and sadly both pertain to the adoption of the Straight Path for which all Muslims pray continuously. One belief requires the nullification of the other! A glaring contradiction indeed, especially so since the book Towards Understanding Islam does not mention the Mahdi of latter days at all! This amounts to a calculated omission of an important aspect of our era. Toward the end of the Islamic 13th century, and the beginning of the 14th century there was a general expectation of the Promised Reformer, which was based on the prophecy of the Holy Prophet himself. Muslims and Christians were both awaiting for the second coming of Jesus. After Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have fulfilled this prophecy, those who rejected him are now averse to the idea of any such appearance among Muslims. Probably their aversion stems from the fact that since the appointed time has already come to pass (without any other claimant), their choice lies between accepting his claim or else to give up the clamour. Hence, the contradiction which all can observe very plainly.
In the tenth chapter of the first book and in the second book are parts which are essentially anti-Sufism in tenor. Conscious purification of one's moral senses has been treated superficially. However, the first book, on p. 233, admits that nihilism and atheism which present a major challenge to Islam can only be answered through such sources as are contained mostly within Sufism. What are the learned scholars of The Islamic Foundation trying to tell the world? Whatever it is, it is certainly not clear. One must remember, that the seeker after truth is eager to seek a rational philosophy, a coherent whole and a faith which appeals to his intellect. The last thing which he wishes to accept is irreconcilability. His mind is receptive, yet discerning. He points out even minor apparent contradictions due to his admitted lack of knowledge. But the contradiction pointed above is a major one, because it deals with basic beliefs and attitudes.
The purpose of publishing books and articles on religious matters could be to express something which has never been said before; or to reinforce that which has been already expressed in a new way; or to refute that which has been expressed before and thereby attempt to correct the misinformation. The publishing of contradictory thoughts, however, by one and the same organisation is an entirely meaningless venture. The self-declared aim of the The Islamic Foundation, as written on the backcover of the second book is,
....developing a better understanding of Islam among all the people of world, Muslims and non- Muslims. It aims at improving human communications so as to galvanise man to the message and ideal of One God and the unity of mankind, as brought by all the Prophets of God throughout the ages,..........In the context of their declared aims, the contradiction which we have shown in their publications, renders their effort into a vain exhortation, because it lacks the unity of purpose. We turn to the third chapter of the first book to see how the writer has tried to take credit for portraying the correct spirit of Islam, whereas the same teachings were expounded by the Promised Messiah almost a century ago. The writer says:
This, I think, is the reason for the peculiar form of Islamic prayer in which spiritual concentration and certain bodily movements are co-ordinated with each other. ......... I have not created Jinn and Man but that they should worship me (Al-Quran, 51:56). Thus, the conception of worship in Islam is different from that in any other religion. Here it is not restricted to the purely devotional practices, for example, prayers or fasting, but extends over the whole of man's practical life as well. If the object of our life as a whole is to be the worship of God, we must necessarily regard life, in totality of all its aspects, as one complex moral responsibility. Thus, all our actions even the seemingly trivial ones, must be performed as acts of God's universal plan. Such a state of things, for the man of average capability is a distant ideal; but is it not the purpose of religion to bring ideals into real existence? ......... And it is this conception alone that shows us the possibility of man's reaching perfection within his individual, earthly life. Of all religious systems, Islam alone declares that individual perfection is possible in our earthly existence.........The question which the writer has posed is probably addressed to those who believe in a militant approach rather than a spiritual one. Anyhow the above passage is a far cry from the ritualistic approach to religion which was prevalent a hundred years ago. All true lovers of Islam must indeed by happy to note this development, except the hard-hearted. However, we must point out here that praise should be given only where it is rightly due, and in this case it belongs to the Promised Messiah for his divinely inspired paper, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, presented before The Conference of Great Religions held in the Town Hall of the city of Lahore in 1896. It must be remembered that those were the times of great controversy and debate regarding all religions. Christians from all over the world had literally converged on India, aided actively by non-Muslims against Islam. Irrespective of heavy odds, the Promised Messiah had announced beforehand that his treatise would prevail over all others. Exactly, as prophesied by him, all participants acclaimed its superiority. He also claimed that there was divine help in preparation of this paper and divine news regarding its success. In this context, it even becomes very necessary for each God-fearing soul to read it and form his own opinion. Incidentally, the essential condition of the debate in the Conference was that the treatise must necessarily be based on the writer's Holy Book; hence the paper was based solely on the Holy Quran, the greatest Guidance revealed to man more than 14 centuries ago. We examine yet another publication of The Islamic Foundation, the writer of which according to the publishers is:
One of the chief architects and leaders of the contemporary Islamic resurgence, the most outstanding Islamic thinker and writer of our time, who devoted his entire life to expounding the meaning and message of Islam, inviting individuals to renew their commitment to their Creator, and to organising a movement to establish Islam fully, ......... sentenced to death for writing a seditious pamphlet....The publication is The Islamic Way of Life 1986, which is a revised and extended translation from one in 1948; jointly edited by two editors. Our purpose in highlighting the revisions, extensions and editing work is to emphasise that a considerable effort must have gone into this publication, not to mention the labour of the original writer. Despite this crusade, it lacks the capability to illuminate the correct path. It states that the last and the highest stage which a person could attain on the road to spirituality, is Ihsan (goodness). This belief is quite short of the standard set forth in the Holy Quran. Either the writer does not know the standard of excellence expressed in his Holy Book, or he has deliberately and arbitrarily placed a restriction without rendering any explanation for his intention. In any event it is grossly inadequate and restricts the advance of spirituality for a person who chooses to follow this belief. Also in the same book, we observe the writer's ignorance of ultimate vice, which he refers as `munkarat'. We fail to understand the arbitrary restrictions clamped on the Quranic definition of vice and virtue. Such concepts are doomed for failure as far as the crusade of the pen is concerned. After a lifetime spent in the study of the Holy Quran, the writer has failed to incorporate the basic definitions of good and evil in his discourse, although the same is vouchsafed marvelously in just one verse of the Holy Quran:
Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving (like) kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and transgression. He admonishes you that you may heed. (16:91)The first stage mentioned here is Adl, (justice). A person who exercises the same measure of treatment which he receives from others is doing justice. He has started on the road to spirituality, but the journey has just begun. If a person bestows on another a measure of good greater than what he received it is called Ihsan (goodness, or doing good to others). This is the second stage on the road. No doubt, it is a good state for a human being, but yet he lacks the highest virtue, because he may be conscious of his benevolence. Although, he may not seek return for the favour, but his consciousness of being a benevolent person is enough to render it impure to a degree that he may consider the beneficiary to be ungrateful if the latter denies or forgets the good act. The last and the highest stage of moral development has been equated in the fore-going verse to Ita-e-zil-Qurba, (giving like kindred). Such goodness is untainted, without even a trace of any expectation or favour in return, irrespective of the gratefulness or otherwise of the recipient. It is likened to the love of kindred because what a person does for the good of blood relations is indeed a pure act which is totally free from any motive other than doing good. Allah promises paradise in this very world for persons who reach such a stage, and do not just stop at `Ihsan' only. This is the correct concept of highest virtue, according to the Holy Quran, if applied at their appropriate time and occasions. In the same verse, Allah has warned us on three conditions of vice. The first one is Fahsha, (indecency) in which only the heart of the doer knows about his state or act. It does not become known to others regarding the doer's evil motive or act. Worse than the first is the state of munkar, (manifest evil), in which a person's evil may become possible to be proved and may even be physically witnessed. The worst state is baghy, (transgression), which comprehends all vice, including that which inflicts physical harm to others or even to the doer himself. A detailed rendering of the moral and spiritual states of man, their means of attainment, and sources of divine knowledge based on the Holy Quran can be found in the Promised Messiah's book, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam. Such is the Jihad of the pen taught to us that we just have to turn toward the Holy Quran and avoid all other concepts. This is the proof of the truth of the Promised Messiah who has appeared among Muslims. The Holy Quran opens the door of spiritual progress for Muslims, without which a religion may be considered dead:
And Whoso obeys Allah and (this) Messenger shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His Blessings ... the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. And excellent company are they. (4:70)Blessings, however are commensurate with the level of virtue attained. It is against Divine Justice that a person of inferior status be counted among the superiors; or that these exalted ranks are unattainable mirages, mentioned by Allah as an incentive only; or that one may attain only some ranks and not all of them. All Muslims supplicate for His blessings in daily prayers. Are these prayers a useless ritual? Don't they mean what they say? What is the usefulness of the prayer in which the supplicant cannot attain that which he prays for? The above verse surely means that Muslims can attain righteousness, martyrdom, truthfulness, and prophethood, by obeying Allah and His Messenger. It follows, that one cannot exceed the level of the Messenger who showed us the straight path in the first place. It is by following the Holy Prophet only that a Muslim may attain the exalted ranks mentioned in the verse. He is the Seal of the Prophets, the highest attainable rank for any human being from the Creation to Day of Judgement:
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets and Allah has full knowledge of all things. (33:41)The Seal of Prophets is an all-embracing honour. It is grossly erroneous to believe that he was chronologically the last prophet. Moreover, it is literally against the actual meaning of the word Khatam, which means seal in the Arabic language. Else in the Holy Quran too it has been used to mean seal. Never have all previous scholars of Islam taken this word to be synonymous to the word akhir (chronologically last). It is only the nominated crusaders of this century who have taken this liberty to satisfy their own aims and philosophies, and therefore we read on p. 59 of the second book Khatam- un-Nabiyyin (the last of the chain of the true Prophets) and in the footnote of the same page we read: The Quran says: Muhammad is the Messenger of God and the last of the Prophets. Thus, we have seen above how some crusaders restrict spiritual progress, and in the cessation of all forms of prophethood, lies probably their most crippling restriction. Dogmatic differences within a divinely revealed religion can never be reconciled through mutual compromise. If, moreover, the scholars and interpreters of such a religion start believing that divine revelation is now closed forever, (even for mere guidance purposes, i.e.; no prophet even among the followers), then the immediate question arises: who will decide upon the differences and what is the original interpretation under which these differences could be finally resolved for all? People who believe in the cessation of all forms of prophethood, and yet try to answer this question end up with some conclusions which we quote:
In conclusion it can be said that Sunnism and Shi'ism are two orthodox dimensions of Islam providentially placed in this tradition to enable collectives of different psychological and spiritual temperaments to become integrated within the Islamic community. Being each an affirmation of the doctrine of unity they do not in themselves destroy the profound unity of Islam whatever their formal differences may be. They are two ways of asserting the truth of the Shahadah, La ilaha ill' Allah. They are two streams which originate from the same fountain, which is their unique source, namely the Quranic revelation. And they finally pour into one sea which is the Divine Unity whose means of realisation each contains within itself. To have lived either of them fully is to have lived as a Muslim and to have realised that Truth for the sake of whose revelation the Quran was made known to men through the Prophet of Islam.After having dealt at great length in expounding the spiritual ideals spread over most of the six chapters of his book, the writer, when confronted with the grim reality of the differences within the followers of this great religion, makes a simple compromise, which in effect means, To me my religion, and to you your religion, and both are correct. Such are purely human attempts to reconcile deep conflicts of conscience, resulting from non-reliance from Allah in the form of revelation, confirming the first revelation (i.e.: not bringing a new Law, but fortifying the first one) has ceased due to the self-imposed restrictions as discussed earlier. Interestingly, in an attempt to answer the question as to who shall decide upon the differences and who should be regarded as the true representatives of Allah, some crusaders adopt a hard-line! If no one is going to reform them, then isn't it logical to take over the reins of terrestrial power and enforce Islam, come what may? In the book Islam - Its Meaning and Message, we are amazed to read that in his religious fervour to take over power and enforce Islam, the writer even castes aside the concept of righteousness, which it must be emphasised is the fundamental characteristic and principle of any form of government within Islam. We quote the words of the writer but suggest to read it carefully to sift the truth from error: QUOTE
(Ideals and Realities of Islam, 1966, 75, 79, 85 George, Allen & Unwin by Seyyed Hossein Nasr.)
I will now try to give a brief exposition of the composition and structure of the Islamic state. I have already stated that in Islam, God alone is the real sovereign. Keeping this cardinal principle in mind, if we consider the position of those persons who set out to enforce God's law on earth, it is but natural to say that they should be regarded as representatives of the Supreme Ruler. Islam has assigned precisely this very position to them. Accordingly the Holy Quran says: Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will assuredly make them to succeed (the present rulers) and grant them vicegerency in the land just as He made those before them to succeed others.From the above it is obvious that the aim of the writer is to exhort Muslims to take over power and enforce Islam. Doing righteous deeds seems to be of secondary importance. Terrestrial power should be arrogantly taken in hand with the support of the above-mentioned interpretation of a Quranic verse. Although Allah promises Khilafat for those among the believers who do righteous deeds, yet we see the total misguidedness of the interpretation. Even the very concept of Khilafat has been willfully distorted to suit man-made philosophies.
The verse illustrates very clearly the Islamic theory of state. Two fundamental points emerge from it.
(Islam: Its meaning and Message, p. 168)
- The first point that Islam uses the term vicegerency (Khilafat) instead of sovereignty. Since, according to Islam, sovereignty belongs to God alone, anyone who holds power and rules in accordance with the laws of God would undoubtedly be the vicegerent of the Supreme Ruler and would not be authorised to exercise any powers other than those delegated to him.
- The second point stated in the verse is that the power to rule over the earth has been promised to the whole community of believers; it has not been stated that any particular person or class among them will be raised to that position. From this it follows that all believers are repositories of the Caliphate. The Caliphate granted by God is not a limited one. There is no reservation in favour of any family, class, or race. Every believer is a Caliph of God in his individual capacity. By virtue of this position he is individually responsible to God. The Holy Prophet has said: ......... Everyone of you is a ruler and everyone is answerable for his subjects......... Thus one Caliph is in no way inferior to another.....
Man is the Khalifah of Allah in the primordial sense, in which Allah made him the vicegerent on earth ever since creation. This type of representation should not be mixed up with the Khilafat-e-Rashida, i.e., the Caliphate of the Rightly-Guided, generally accepted by all Muslims as the period of the first four Caliphs after the death of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). They were the Khalifas of the Prophet in the strict sense and the khalifas of Allah in the general sense, as indeed man represents Allah on earth.
In an attempt to resolve the utter lack of true guidance (despite holding the treasure of the Holy Quran in his hands), and in order to substantiate his belief in closure of divine revelation (even for reform or revival of Islam), the writer has cleverly placed the burden of right guidance on each individual himself. Hence all Muslims are Khalifas!
However, probably the most dangerous concept which emerges as a result of this interpretation is the relegation of righteousness itself! The writer just assumes that Khilafat has been promised to the whole community of believers and not to any class among them..... This type of interpretation falls in the category of an outright lie.
Let it be clear to all that Allah has promised nothing of that sort. Allah has indeed promised Khilafat but only to the righteous among the believers, should one but read the verse under comment carefully. Let it be clear to all that the concept of terrestrial rule in which every believer is a Khalifa is totally alien to the spirit of Islam, and when it is coupled with the attitude enforcement being paramount, righteousness secondary, it transforms into one of the most militant and rebellious concepts of our times.
This is a formula which will surely pit Muslim against Muslim, because if not 72, then at least a dozen Khalifas shall emerge from the multitude of Muslims, clearly at variance with one another. (May Allah protect us.)
We have just elaborated on the faulty interpretation of the writer in order to stress that if Islam is the religion of peace and submission to Allah, then militancy and rebellion cannot be paramount, indeed such attitudes must be totally against Islam. The Khalifa in Islam, if he is rightly guided must therefore by definition be appointed by Allah and this falls outside the domain of human appointment or nomination. Hence the Khalifa of Islam must be a vicegerent of a divinely appointed personage. The Jama'at Ahmadiyya is the only Jama'at which derives its origin from such a personage. It is the rightly guided Jama'at of our times. Only the Jihad ordained and executed by this Jama'at is by definition contradiction-free and destined to be blessed by Allah, as it has been so for a whole century, and will continue to be so.
The peaceful nature of the crusade for the revival of Islam can be ascertained in another aspect too. Any revival of Islam must have its seeds in the first principles of this religion. Without this back-to- original approach, all attempts to enforce Islam will be in vain.
In order to have a back-to-original approach, one must analyse the spirit behind the Meccan period of Islam. We find that the spirit at that time, i.e., the originating spirit was indeed to tread the path of righteousness. It is a cleansing spirit, which aimed at moral upliftment before everything else. Perseverance coupled with humility was a common quality to be found in the small band of faithful followers. In short it was a non-militant inception. We also learn that the events of the Medinite era were impossible to attain without the originating concepts and beliefs. So-called Muslims of today must first become believers who tread the path of righteousness, to attain the moral and spiritual state deserving Allah's blessings and protection in return for their righteousness. If someone thinks that it is possible to establish Islam regardless of doing righteous deeds or not, he is totally ignorant of Divine Justice. (It must remembered that being a mere believer in name only is not enough to be counted among the righteous.) Hence the fulfillment of the purpose of the Meccan life of the Holy Prophet of Islam, as applied to our era, must be fully understood and completed. Talking about the revival of Islam without this concept bears the seeds of compulsion and bereft of the original principles of this great religion. It will be an attempt to place the cart before the horse, thus resulting in no movement at all.
The Jama'at Ahmadiyya's peaceful approach for the Jihad of the pen is rooted in concepts of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. It is not a losing concept under any standard of morality, justice, philosophy, religion, wisdom or even the commonsense of our era. Arrogance and rebellion are forbidden. Indeed migration is permitted to protect one's faith. Therefore we say that enforcement in Islam is an erroneous concept which one does well to avoid at all times. Surely, as these words are being written, 700 scholars of Islam from all parts of the world, most of them being erstwhile believers in the taking-over of power and enforcement of Islam, have made a complete turnabout and condemned another group of scholars, also of Islam, in an effort to stop a long drawn-out military conflict between two Muslim states. This call is, to say the least, a defacto admission of the impropriety and anti-religious nature of war as a tool for enforcement of beliefs and ideas. The Promised Messiah had said this a hundred years ago, and the hard-hearted then accused him of changing the concept of Jihad in Islam. It is on record that both these militants have described their war efforts to be a Jihad against the anti-Islamic forces of the other. This is a result of the non- acceptance of the call of the Promised Messiah. The primary Jihad of our age is the Jihad which inculcates purification of self and others. (Jihad-e-Kabeer, the greater striving which takes up the struggle positively), and not the Jihad of the sword, (Jihad-e-Sagheer, smaller Jihad), which takes up the sword as a purely defensive and self- protective measure. The Holy Prophet himself and the Holy Quran both testify to the correctness of the above definition of Jihad.
Our era is such that there is a vast proliferation of books, magazines, newspapers and other media. This is the age of information. Yet, ironically a very small minority seems to be interested in the information concerning religion and moral-uplifting. Under these special circumstances a crusading proponent of Islamic superiority, realising this basic characteristic of our time, must pursue his crusade where it is most urgently required. But he must remember that the power of reasoning and intellect of our age are sharpened. Gaining knowledge has been popularised. Powers of all information media have become extremely refined, in order to influence an individual in a pre- determined direction. Therefore the responsibility of the Jihad of the pen should not be considered lightly.
Many take up the pen, but few are granted the spirit to conduct the Jihad in the most acceptable manner. Many wish to take up the pen, but their incorrect beliefs and lack of knowledge prevent them from doing so, and thus they drop back into a state of undeclared truce. But, it is the Jama'at Ahmadiyya only which has not stopped this great struggle ever since its inception and it has become the only vehicle to usher in the revival of Islam through its peaceful, yet determined intellectual process which was initiated a century ago by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi in Islam.
Peace be on those who are guided aright.