4. The basis of Hazrat
Mirza Sahibs religious philosophy
When we take a look at Hazrat Mirza Sahib's books and other literature,
it becomes quite clear that he did not go to extremes like the Mu'tazilites
or the Hanbalites and that although he took the moderate course
like the schools of al-Ash'ari and al-Maturidi, yet he did not strictly
follow any one of them. Like Hazrat Imam Ghazali he wanted to use
the Western philosophy to serve the cause of Islam and like Shah
Waliullah he strove in every way to make the truth of Islam manifest.
However, the style Hazrat Mirza Sahib adopted was quite unique.
Hazrat Imam Ghazali made use of Greek philosophy to serve religion
but the logic and arguments he presented had their roots in the
same philosophy. Likewise, throughout the history of Islam the religious
philosophers have based their work on the accepted philosophy of
that period. But Hazrat Mirza Sahib's deep insight enabled him to
grasp the fact that a philosophy or teaching based on worldly knowledge
is similar to the Quranic verse which states, "...he who lays his
foundation on the edge of a cracking, hollowed bank..." (9:109)
which means that its foundation is laid on unsteady, hollow ground
which can collapse at any moment. Because when times change and
the ideas of people undergo changes they are bound to reject and
ridicule things which they had erstwhile accepted and found logical.
Take a look at the fate of the Greek philosophy, every principle
of which was considered more reliable than Divine revelation; today,
the same ideas appear childish and obsolete and are considered no
more than a play on words. The same goes for Western philosophy.
The ideas which were firmly established forty or fifty years ago
have now evaporated like dust.
When the materialists of Europe declared matter to be infinite
in origin and existence, Muslim leaders and ulema like Sir Syed
Ahmad Khan and Maulana Shibli silently bowed their heads before
them. Their inferiority complex did not allow them to summon the
courage to challenge this theory. They were most impressed by the
new philosophy. But had they been alive today they would have witnessed
the same materialists proving to themselves and to the world that
matter is not infinite in origin. It is made up of charged particles
which were created from the nebulas which, in turn, are the products
of the dark rays of ether. When they studied the rays of ether they
learnt that they have no material presence; their existence is only
mathematical; they have no real existence. So all that is left is
energy. It is as if it is nothing other than a manifestation of
the power of some All Powerful Being. In reality it is nothing.
In other words, a power has created 'something' from 'nothing'
and that 'something' is called energy. We can get an idea of the
magnitude of this energy by the fact that is we could somehow capture
all the energy contained in a drop of water, it would be sufficient
to drive a large ship around the world eight times. But we do not
yet have control over this energy and neither is it likely for man
to be granted such Divine powers. Allama Shibli, while supporting
the Mu'tazilites and opposing the arguments of Imam Ghazali on the
creation of matter, writes with great confidence that "we never
see 'something' reduced to 'nothing' ". But had he witnessed
the destruction of matter when radium gives off radiation he would
have had to take his words back.
Here I cannot refrain from pointing out that the Mu'tazilites are
quick to mock the Hanbalites and Mushabba Zahria for believing
that God has hands, eyes and ears as if He was a human being like
us, although the Hanbalites counter it by saying that this is only
a speculation which is in accordance with our limited capabilities,
we do not know of the real condition of God. All the same, the Mu'tazilites
ridicule them for entertaining such ideas. But when it comes to
the knowledge and powers of God, the same Mu'tazilites evaluate
them by comparing them with human faculties. In their opinion, if
humans cannot produce matter out of nothing, or if we lack the power
to annihilate matter, then it means that God is also unable to create
or destroy matter. Isn't this the same concept as that of the Mushabba
Zaharia? If they envisage God as possessing hands, ears and
eyes, though of a kind not comprehended by us, they are stupid because
then we will have to believe that He also possesses a body and is
restricted by it; notwithstanding that they say that the reality
of God is known to Him alone and they believe that His ears, eyes
etc. have unlimited powers. The Mu'tazilites restrict the powers
and abilities of God because the powers of humans are restricted.
So they envisage God with the help of human faculties and on top
of it all, they consider themselves very knowledgeable and wise.
Man cannot create matter out of nothing, so God is also unable to
do so. Logically this implies that God possesses no more power or
knowledge than any ordinary human being. This is why there are some
Mu'tazilites who even believe that God does not have any detailed
knowledge of His creation. So in this way they reduce God to the
level of a limited, restricted being and strip him of His Divine
qualities. And instead of realizing their fallacies they laugh at
the poor Hanbalites!
There are quite a few examples of the unjust attitude of the Mu'tazilites.
In the time of the Caliph Ma'mun ar-Rashid the Mu'tazilites tried
to prove that the Quran is a creation of God and the strongest argument
that they put forward was that in the Holy Quran Allah says:
Allah is the Creator of all things, and He has charge
over everything. (39: 61)
So how can the Quran be left out. Actually the Quran should not
be counted among other creations because it is the word of Allah,
the word of the Uncreated Being. However, here I am not discussing
this issue. What I want to say is this that when the Mu'tazilites
felt compelled to count the Quran as a creation according to the
verse which states that Allah is the Creator of everything, then
why do they forget the same fact when it comes to accepting matter
as God's creation? The real reason behind it is that they are not
faced by some lowly religious scholar but philosophers like Aristotle
and Plato who have overawed their hearts. If matter is a 'thing'
then why is not God, who is the Creator of everything, its creator
At this juncture these advocates of logic and reason present two
1. The first is that the issue of whether of matter exists from
eternity or was created is not an issue in Islam. Now this view
is incorrect. If matter is not a creation and it is eternal and
infinitely existing like God then it is another God, and such an
idea is against Tauheed (Oneness of God). In fact it is an
atheistic idea because if matter is eternal then its properties
must be eternal as well and there is no need of a God just to change
the form of matter. Even if there is such a God, we do not have
to accept His superiority because when two things exist of old together,
one possesses no right to forcibly rule over the other. Allah says
in the Holy Quran:
O men, serve your Lord Who created you and those
before you, so that you may guard against evil. (2:21)
This means that man is obliged to worship his Lord because He is
his Creator. If He is not the Creator and we derive neither benefit
nor harm from Him then why should we be forced to worship Him?
The truth is that materialism and atheism are a result of the idea
that matter exists from eternity and it is this idea which has deprived
the world of true spirituality and the knowledge and love of its
2. The second proposition that these people put forward as a childish
reassurance is that matter and God are both eternal and infinite
yet one is the cause and the other is the effect. Their relation
to one another is likened to the turning of a key opening a lock.
The turning and the opening take place simultaneously yet one is
the cause and the other is the effect.
What a splendid example this is of the deceptions of philosophy.
Let us solve this problem without getting caught in the tangled
web of words. The actual question is whether God is the Creator
of matter or not? Did He create matter out of nothing, whether at
once or gradually, or did He not? If He did not, because He is unable
to create something out of nothing, then what is the point of giving
this example? Here we are not debating whether there is a time interval
between an action of God and the appearance of its effect. Had we
been doing so, the issue could have been clarified by the example
of the lock and key. The question here is, Can God produce matter
out of nothing, or can He not? If not and if He is dependent on
matter and souls, then the example is quoted just to complicate
In brief, rapid developments in the field of science bring about
so many changes in philosophy that it would be wrong to lay the
basis of a religious thought on it. In Hazrat Mirza Sahib's days
the material philosophy not only declared matter as eternal but
placed time and space in the same category too. Today, just as the
eternity of matter has been disproved, similarly the very existence
of time and space has been denied. The theory of the famous scientist
Einstein, which has now gained worldwide acceptance, says that time
and space are not anything material. They are neither matter nor
energy but merely parameters to indicate the dimensions of objects
which are limited in time and space. Just as the parameters of a
body, namely, length, breadth and height, are accepted by everyone,
the fourth parameter describing the limitations of a body is that
of time. Thus time and space are the parameters which indicate the
limits of bodies. They are nothing by themselves.
Pandit Dayanand, founder of the Arya Samaj, stretched the basic
beliefs of his religion to rest them on the infinite existence of
matter, souls, time and space. Today these theories have been proved
wrong and that foundation has collapsed. The Arya Samaj can now
rebuild that spider's web by bringing out some other strand of the
web, as all the old strands have been swept away! The true religion
cannot exist by the support of such webs.
Hazrat Mirza Sahib did not know English nor did he study the latest
books on modern philosophy and science. He lived in a remote village,
like a recluse devoted to the worship of Allah. Even then Allah,
Who is the All-Knowing and the Wise, granted him the knowledge that
it is a grave folly to lay the foundation of religion on the current
philosophy and science. He openly announced that the Quran is the
perfect and complete book. When it makes a claim, it supports it
by logical arguments. Such a book which, looks to its followers
to produce arguments in support of its claims, cannot be called
a complete and perfect book. The Holy Quran says:
"The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed,
a guidance to men (all the people of the world) and clear proofs
of the guidance and the Criterion (between tryth and falsehood..."
Thus the Quran is not only a universal source of guidance but
it also gives logical and convincing arguments in its favour. Moreover,
it establishes the validity of its own truthfulness and proves the
falsehood of the teachings of other religions which are opposed
to the teachings of the Holy Quran. It thus distinguishes between
right and wrong. So the Quran is not dependent upon the philosophy
of any Tom, Dick or Harry; it has its own religious philosophy.
In this way Hazrat Mirza Sahib said that the religious thought
he presented is actually the philosophical outlook of the Quran.
A philosophy is acceptable as long as it agrees with the outlook
of the Quran, but where it goes against the Quran, it is wrong,
whether it is Plato's or Aristotle's, European or American. This
was not just a claim of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, it was the principle
behind his practice throughout his life. Whenever he sat down to
write on an important topic he would read the Quran from beginning
to end to see what it said about that particular topic and what
arguments it presented. He would note down all the verses relevant
to the subject, and then he would write the article after that.
This is the style seen in all his writings. His first and momentous
book Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya is based entirely on the philosophy
contained in the Quran.
In Amritsar in 1893, Hazrat Mirza Sahib faced Deputy Abdullah Atham
in a famous religious debate between Islam and Christianity whose
proceedings were later published in a book called Jang-i-Muqaddas.
In this debate he challenged his opponent to prove his holy book
to be a perfect and complete book by producing arguments in support
of its claims from the same. A holy book should not look to its
followers to provide the evidence. The holy book should also be
able to bring forward arguments to refute the claims made against
it by other religions. Hazrat Mirza Sahib said that he would take
care to produce logical arguments and proof to support the pure
principles of Islam only from the Holy Quran and completely refute
Christianity and its distorted principles also, from the Holy Quran.
So if the Bible is a perfect book then his opponent should be able
to show from it support for all the Christian beliefs and also refutation
of the Islamic beliefs by solid arguments. Jang-i-Muqaddas
is still available and anyone can consult it for further details.
Hazrat Mirza Sahib took care to give arguments from the Holy Quran
throughout the debate, but Deputy Abdullah Atham could not confine
his reasoning to the Bible at any point. Thus, this was a great
victory of the Holy Quran, unparalleled in history.
In December 1896, a great Conference was held in Lahore in which
all the religions of that time participated enthusiastically. Papers
were presented in asnwer to the following five questions, which
encompass the entire philosophy of religion:
1. What are the physical, moral and spiritual states of man?
2. What becomes of man after this life?
3. What is the real object of man's life and how can it be attained?
4. What are the effects of actions in this world and in the hereafter?
5. What are the sources of Divine knowledge?
Every participant was required to answer these questions by means
only of his Holy Book. But apart from Hazrat Mirza Sahib not a single
person was able to abide by this rule. The representatives of various
religions gave whatever answers they could muster up, but these
were firstly incomplete and unsatisfacory, and secondly they did
not refer to their Holy Books at all. All they presented was a product
of their minds.
On the other hand Hazrat Mirza Sahib gave all the answers out
of the Holy Quran and whatever arguments he put forward were all
based on the Quran. The asnwers were so comprehensive and satisfying
that Muslims and non-Muslims, friends and foes alike, were compelled
to say that only Hazrat Mirza Sahib's lecture had fulfilled the
purpose of the meeting. The English language newspapers were of
the same view. So this remained Hazrat Mirza Sahib's technique in
regard to his religious philosophy throughout his life and he guided
his pupils to the same way.