Jamaat Ahmadiyya al Mouslemeen
of Hazrat Amirul Momeneen Zafrullah Domun
05 November 2010
THE NEED TO QUESTION OUR BELIEFS
After reciting the Tashahhud, the Ta’uz and the first chapter of Al Fatiha Imam Zafrullah Domun said:
Last week I started speaking about an article by Sir Zafrullah Khan published for the first time in Review of Religion of 1926. I quoted some extracts in which he spoke about the necessity to question the beliefs that we have inherited. Incha Allah we will continue today also with some new extracts followed with some personal comments. He says:
“It is a matter of common experience that as the child grows into the youth, and the youth into the man, his physical faculties experience a corresponding growth. There is no reason, therefore, to imagine why his spiritual faculties should not continue to grow and expand, and consequently why his conception of faith and religion should not be a richer and more generous conception in each successive stage of his physical existence in this world….”
What he says here is quite obvious. Almost all of us who have been doing some self-introspection would have noticed how many changes take place in our physical and mental makeup. However here he is speaking more specifically about our spiritual growth. But once we stop growing physically we do not stop growing spiritually. With the proper training, in fact our spiritual growth may go on throughout our lifetime provided we are willing to follow the necessary guidance and discipline. In fact Hazrat Masih Maood as created Jamaat Ahmadiyya so that all its members might follow the guidance that he has given and that each one may bloom to become a spiritual being as he has been destined to become. From what we can observe very few people in Jamaat Ahmadiyya have been able to live up to the ideal set by Hazrat Masih Maood as. Hence although almost all may have reached physical maturity but very few have reached spiritual maturity. Had it been otherwise we would not have seen the prevalence of so much ignorance, bad manners and unislamic practices prevailing these days within Jamaat Ahmadiyya. The spiritual growth that Sir Zafrullah Khan is speaking about is most likely to be the passage of the soul from a state of being prone to sin , to one in which the soul regrets when it sins to one where the soul is at ease. This is a long process and to complete this journey one needs a guide or else one runs the risk of drifting away from the path.
Next he speaks about courage. He says:
“The next requisite for the study of religion is courage. It requires a great deal of initial courage to put oneself in a questioning and examining attitude towards matters which one has always regarded as sacred and consequently above all question and criticism. The very suggestion appears to border on sacrilege. This timidity is again the result of an entire misconception of the true meaning of religion. If religion means something outside of us to which we have to bow and pay homage, it would indeed be an act of sacrilege to attempt to examine its nature and to realise the significance of its various component parts. If, on the other hand, it is to be a living force within us, directing, controlling and regulating all our emotions, thoughts and deeds, it behoves us to carry out a thorough examination of this our moral and spiritual power-house, to see whether the various parts of its machinery are in a sound condition and are properly coordinated to each other so as to be able to function without fear of wastage, obstruction or catastrophe of any kind…..
Having made up our mind that such an examination is necessary; we must set about it in a spirit of thoroughness. To carry on the simile alluded to above, we must examine and test for ourselves all the major and minor parts of the machinery, even the bolts and rivets which hold the various parts together, and must satisfy ourselves that we are properly fitted not only for the strain and stress of this life but also for the fulfilling of that external purpose for which man was created. Our examination, if honestly and thoroughly conducted, would at times cause consternation and dismay at the realisation that certain vital parts of the machinery which we had hitherto regarded as absolutely sound have been corroded and eaten through by rust, or that they have been so adjusted with relation to the other parts that instead of serving to run the machine smoothly, they are the means of introducing friction, discord and obstruction.
We must, therefore, have courage to dismantle the machine, take out the rotten parts, polish them, repair them, and, wherever necessary, replace them with new ones. This is not an easy process, but it is a necessary one, if we desire that the faith within us should be a living faith and not a dead formula to be repeated on solemn occasions but having no more to do with our moral and spiritual well-being than a piece of stone lying by the side of a road. Those things, therefore, which we have been accustomed to regard as vital matters of faith must, if on examination they turn out to be but useless encumbrances, be finally rejected and discarded as forming no part of the true faith which is beginning by this time to grow and germinate within us….”
I am quoting lengthily from this article because I think that what has been said here has not been said elsewhere in Jamaat Ahmadiyya literature. At least I have not yet read it if it might have been published. What he says here is applicable to all systems of beliefs. If we take Christianity questions have to be asked about the trinity, the death of Jesus Christ, in what way he is the son of God, what is the status of her mother etc. Similarly in Hinduism there may be questions about castes, about multiple deities etc. In Islam also there are many questions with which a Muslim has to wrestle. Some of them might be what is the importance of Hadiths books? How to understand the various verses of the Holy Quran? Does Islam really tell us to wage war with all those who do not accept it? Is it true that a Mahdi is awaited who will spill blood or with another mission? Is Jesus dead or still alive in heaven? How to implement the values of the Holy Quran in the modern world etc? The series of questions are almost endless. Hence the study should be started very early in life and in view of its seriousness we need to find the answers quite early in our life. Now when we come to Ahmadis, there are many such questions that have to be asked. For example in what sense is Hazrat Masih Maood as a prophet? Why belief in him is important? What might be the consequences of rejecting and opposing him? Did Hazrat Masih prescribe the system of khilafat that we have these days in Jamaat Ahmadiyya? What did Hazrat Masih say about the future coming of divine personage within the Jamaat? What would be the mission of these people? When he spoke about khilafat what did he mean? What are his real teachings? How far should we obey an amir who shamelessly flouts the teachings of the Holy Quran? In fact if we take our faith seriously we cannot leave it to others to decide for us. We should make thorough investigation and should be fully satisfied with the answers. The defenders of the status quo, those who defend their own interests would like you not to question these beliefs because they know quite well that once these questions are asked people will come to know that what they have believed might not be the truth. Such a conclusion will have disastrous consequences for the Jamaat.
Now we should remember that this questioning will not be a once in a lifetime event. You will have to persevere. Sir Zafrullah Khan says:
“The next requisite is perseverance. Let not the apparent ruin, to adopt a new simile, of what we have so far imagined to be the stately edifice of faith confound us. For, whatever there is of solid faith in it is bound to survive, it is only the dust and ashes which have assumed the appearance of stone and mortar that must be washed away. And when we look deeper into our soul we are able to discern already the broad foundations laid of a glorious palace wherein we are provided with every species of comfort. Let us extract, therefore, whatever there is of real worth in the old building and let it be used for the rearing of the new, but we have to take care that the material that we use in the construction of the latter is sound and eternally durable, for in this dwelling we will have to reside unto eternity.”
In the beginning we might feel disoriented with the answers to our questions. Take the case of the Ahmadi. He has been brought up to believe that khilafat within Jamaat Ahmadiyya is everything. His father told him never to detach himself from this Jamaat. His father thought that now that Jamaat Ahmadiyya is in place it is set to conquer the world. If it needs any kind of reform it will be reformed from within. So when he sees that another or other Ahmadis are saying that Allah is telling them otherwise the simple Ahmadi feels disoriented. He is bound to feel so. But if he pursues his quest with an open mind whilst at the same time seeking Allah’s help he will be guided because Allah has promised He will guide such people. Allah says in the Holy Quran “Wallazina Jaahadou fina lanahdeyannahoum sobolana”. The translation of this verse is “those who strive in our path we guide them to it”(29:70) But we will tread Allah’s path only after we have gone through the anguish of questioning and seeking this path. Each individual has his personal responsibility. Allah will ask him to account personally. He should be prepared to give his account alone. So Sir Zafrullah Khan says:
“I have, so far, laid stress on the necessity for each individual to examine and justify his beliefs; to discard those that are untenable and to adopt those that have become necessary. How is this process to be carried out? What are the materials to be employed in carrying it out? What are the tests that shall determine that which must be retained and that which must be discarded? Should our own reason be the sole guide in such matters, or should we seek external help of any kind? And if external help is to be sought, then shall we not again start with the notions conceived by others of what ought to be and what ought not to be, which is exactly the evil we set out to avoid?
It would be idle to pretend that the answers to these queries could be stated in the form of definite instructions and formula: such as would be useful for the solution of a mathematical problem. The problem is bound to present itself in a different shape to each individual and must be solved by each in the light of the materials available to him. There are, however, certain general considerations which must be present in every case and which must, therefore, be kept in view in order to help oneself to arrive at a correct solution. In every case the enquiry is bound to commence in some such form as this: What is the object of this existence? Have I been sent into this life or is my presence here a mere accident? If I have been sent, if I do not merely happen to live but have been brought into life, who or what has sent me here, and for what purpose? If I have been sent here for a purpose, as part of a plan or design, how can I discover that purpose, plan or design? Can I get into any kind of communication with the Being Who has sent me here...”
I personally think that Sir Zafrullah Khan was a man of great learning. When I read this paragraph I was really surprised to see how in my particular case I started asking these questions when I was about 22 years old. If I look for them I might even have some of the sketches that I made then. Anyhow personally I think that I have been favored by Allah and very early in my life I found some very important answers and the process is still continuing. Allah knows where it will end. But I am afraid of neither the questions nor the answers. That is why I have been telling my Ahmadi brothers to come forward and challenge me on what I am saying. Anyhow the beginning of this quest will start with the individual when he starts to look for answers to life’s fundamental questions. There are many who would like to shirk from such a responsibility. Such people will prefer to let someone else decide for them. Those who do so would never know for sure where they are. Allah knows best. We will incha Allah end on this subject next week.