Faith — Fiction or Science?
by Dr Allah Bakhsh
The Light (Pakistan), 8th April 1980 Issue (Vol. 60, No. 7, pp. 3–6)
Accepting the Will of the Lord and moulding one’s life-behaviour for the welfare of humanity form the two basic pillars of a true faith.
The Divine-Being, the focus and centre of all goodness, man needs to worship Him, in order to imbibe the higher qualities of Him. Cultivation of these faculties within him to the best of his ability, thus forms the highest of the purpose of man’s life upon this earth. In the words of the Holy Quran:
“I have not created the jinn and men but for the purpose of worshipping Me.” (The Holy Quran, 51:56).
The same idea has been expressed at another place as follows:
“He is the Being, Who has created death and life so that He may try you as to which of you is the best in deeds.” (The Holy Quran, 67:2)
It is however a great tragedy and irony that the protagonists of faith in most cases, fail to achieve the real objective. While seeking to pursue and practise the doctrines and tenets, to fulfil the forms and formulae, they become lost in the detail and forget to lose the fundamental. Let us enumerate some of the salient features of this aspect of faith.
In the first place, all reliance is placed on the outward observances and superficial performances of the faith’s ordinances, to the utter neglect of the underlying spiritual and moral qualities, they are meant to inculcate and evolve. The external actions and superficial observances replace rather than cultivate the essentially needed qualities of the head and heart. The forms and formalities, the formulae and verbal recitations, the rites and rituals, meant essentially to evolve the higher traits come actually to displace them.
Then again there comes the detailed discussions of the various doctrines, tenets, etc. Finally comes the question of significance of the symbolical expression of the spiritual fruits granted to the faithful as a result of their labours. Spiritual truths and verities are expressed in material and physical terms. But the most beautiful and highest spiritual realities of this life come to be interpreted in the material and physical forms. The change that comes in the lives of the truly faithful as a result of following the Divine-guidance comes to be taken as meaning a physical transformation. In this category are included most of the miracles of the Prophets and Saints. The true nature of the miraculous alteration that they effect in the lives of their faithful followers is described in a symbolical language, such as from death to life, from disease to health, and from darkness into light, and so on. But these terms are given a literal meaning in their material and not spiritual sense, in short, the outward physical formulae, observances and actions, meant to induce a spiritual and moral change in one’s life, are distorted to be an end in themselves, thus losing their moulding effect in the inner soul. While the very altered conditions in this life induced through faithful following and expressed in physical terms are misunderstood to mean a physical transformation, the spiritual and moral realities being turned into fairy tales and legendary fiction. Thus, though labelling themselves with and practising in the name of faith, the so-called followers are actually led astray from the very objective.
Such then has been the grave and main tragedy with every faith. But the Church dogmas and the so-called miraculous performances of Jesus present a most notable example of this tragedy. The sacramental-rites and sacerdotal-functions of the Church, especially performed during the Easter days, eminently explain this point. The Church seeks to abolish even all prevalent outward observances and laws, retaining only the sign of cross as an emblem of Christian faith and belief, in the blood of Christ. The doctrine of Atonement has dispensed with the necessity of all genuine efforts and attempts in effecting a spiritual and moral change in one’s life, thus bringing all efforts at self-improvement to a standstill. The doctrines of virgin-birth, Resurrection and Ascension, and the physical interpretation of the miraculous performances of Jesus, all have led the Christendom to a belief in faith as a matter of superstition and fairy-fiction.
The ideal of life before a truly Muslim follower can best be expressed by the term “Mujahid” which signifies one ever engaged in the attempt at self-reformation, to improve his inner-world conditions of his soul, so as to bring out the best of him by developing his higher acuities. It consists in an incessant readiness to make a change within himself for the best.
In this connection, we may point to Dr. Zahid Aziz’s illuminating article “Some comments on the Introduction to “Jesus—a Prophet of Islam”, published in this issue. He regrets the “orthodox” Muslim attitude for aiding the Christian propaganda in accepting Jesus’ bodily ascension to heaven and in giving a physical interpretation to his spiritual miracles. Apart from their irrational and superstitious nature and therefore their unacceptability to the modern scientific attitude, these articles of belief positively promote the progress of Christianity as testified to by facts and figures. The movement of Islamic propagation especially in the west however, demands the establishment of the superiority of Islamic principles as well as the excellences of the Holy Prophet of Islam as the only spiritually living Prophet. It should be an eye-opener that whereas there has hardly been any successful movement of Islamic propagation in the West on the part of the ‘orthodox’ Muslims, the Ahmadiyya Movement has led the way.
New, Natural, Rational and Scientific Ahmadiyya Method:
Faith if presented today on the old authoritarian and mysterious methods will carry no weight with the common man, educated in the modern scientific spirit of accepting truth. In fact, this obsolete method creates positive repulsion and disgust for faith. While the ‘orthodox’ Muslim has neither any urge nor conviction in the success of the Islamic Propagation Movement especially in the West, why should the Ahmadiyya Movement have been so eminently victorious in winning over Western intellectual minds to Islam? Mr. Freeland Abbott confesses candidly in his “Islam and Pakistan”, that no other Muslim section has done so much to defend and extend the Islamic faith as the Ahmadiyya Movement and that it has infused a true conviction in many a Muslim mind as to Islam being the true faith.
The sole cause of the successful presentation of Islamic faith by the Ahmadiyya Movement has then been its presentation of Islam in the scientific and rational way as compared to the older method of its interpretation by the authoritarian and fairy-fiction methods. Faith is an indispensable necessity for survival of mankind. Faith prescribes restrictions and restraints because they are conducive to man’s own wellbeing and not to appease an offended deity.
The founder Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was once asked about the reason of his being so optimistic for the prevalence of Islamic faith in this age, while the fact was that the modern man was discarding it. The reply he gave is worth writing in letters of gold. He said that as presented, the Church-faith was a false and an unnatural one; hence its unacceptability. While the faith of nature, as Islam is, if presented in a scientific way is bound to carry conviction and capture the imagination. The Founder has established that true-faith and science are complimentary and not contradictory, as is generally supposed. God’s existence and the phenomenon of revelation, the Founder proved to be facts on the basis of scientific method of his personal observation and experience. Far from being heretical these views are in exact accordance with the teachings of Holy Quran and Sunnat [life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] and the urgent need of the present atheistic, materialistic age.