Certainty in Faith
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (The Promised Messiah)
The Review of Religions (English), May 1903 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 5, pp. 176–179)
Seekers after truth! Open your ears and listen to the words which I speak, that there is no wealth in the world equal to certainty in faith. It is certainty which breaks the shackles of sin. It is certainty that gives you the power of doing deeds of virtue. It is certainty and certainty alone which makes a man a true and sincere lover of God. Can you keep from sin without certainty? Have you the power to overcome the passions of the flesh without witnessing a manifestation of certainty? Do you think that your lives can be transformed to purity unaided by the light of certainty? Is it possible for you to attain to true happiness without certainty? Does there exist under heaven any redemption or atonement which can take away your sins? Has the son of Mary the power to release you from the bondage of sin with his supposed blood? Speak not a lie at which the earth might cleave asunder, for Jesus himself stood in need of certainty for his own salvation. To him it was granted and therefore he was saved. Woe to the Christians who deceive the world by saying that they have been purified of their sins by the blood of Jesus, whereas they are soaked in sin from head to foot. They do not know who their God is. They are drunk with wine but the pure intoxication which descends from heaven is not known to them. They do not lead their lives in the service of the Master, and are, therefore, devoid of the spiritual blessings granted to the pure in life. Remember that except by the light of certainty you cannot come out of a life of darkness nor can the Holy Spirit descend upon you. Blessed are they who have found the wealth of certainty for they shall see God. Blessed are they whose doubts are set at rest for they shall be delivered from sin. Blessed are you when the wealth of certainty is given to you for then you shall cease to sin. Sin vanishes away where certainty finds an entrance. Can you thrust your hand into a hole in which you see a poisonous serpent, or stand in a place where a volcano is raining stones, or where lightning is falling, or which is the haunt of a ferocious lion, or where a destructive plague prevails? If you have the same certainty about the destructive nature of sin as about the destruction which volcanic matter or a plague works, it is impossible that you should disobey God’s commandments and go against His will or break off the connection of sincerity and love with Him.
Ye people that have been invited to virtue and righteousness, know it for certain that the Divine attraction cannot be generated in you nor the impure stain of sin washed off from your faces until your hearts flow with certainty. If you think that your lifeless traditional belief gives you certainty, it is nothing but a delusion. Had you the desired certainty, you would not have been destitute of its consequences. You do not keep back from sin, you do not eschew evil, you do not take the forward step that you ought to take, and you do not fear God as you ought to fear Him. Where is your certainty then? Do you ever thrust your hand into a hole when you are certain that it has a poisonous snake? Can you take a single morsel of a food which you certainly know to be poisoned? Or can you go inadvertently and unguarded into a jungle which you certainly know to be the abode of man-eaters? How is it then that your hands, and your feet, and your eyes, and your ears are bold in the commission of sin, notwithstanding your alleged certainty in relation to God and the reward and punishment of good and evil deeds? Sin cannot overcome certainty. How can you throw yourselves into burning and consuming fire when you see it with your eyes? The citadels of certainty rise high to heaven, and Satan cannot ascend them. If anyone has been purified, it is through certainty that he has found this blessing. Certainty gives the power to meet every hardship, so much so that it makes the monarch throw away the royal sceptre and don the garments of a dervish [spiritual ascetic]. Certainty lightens the labour and smooths the path. Certainty enables a man to see God. Every atonement is false and every redemption vain, for to righteousness there is no other way but certainty. It is certainty which releases a man from the bondage of sin, carries him to God, and makes him surpass even the angels in his sincerity and perseverance. The religion that has not the means to bring about a certainty is false. The religion which cannot show the face of the living God with certainty is false. The religion which has nothing but idle tales of the marvels of the past is false. The eternal and unchangeable God is even now as He was in the past ages, and His wonderful powers are the same as they were ere [before] now, and He has the same might to show His wonderful signs as He had at any previous time. Why then trust in tales and not seek the living manifestations of the power of God? That religion is nothing but the way to perdition whose miracles and prophecies are stories, and those people are ruined to whom God has not revealed Himself and who have not been purified by the hand of God through certainty. As a man is drawn to indulgence in his carnal passions on account of the animal gratification which he feels in them, similarly he is attracted to God with a mighty magnetism when he has once tasted the heavenly bliss. His beauty then so enchants him that all else besides Him is naught to him. No man is ever freed from the slavery of sin unless he has a certain knowledge of God and His power and of the reward and punishment of good and evil deeds. The root from which every insolence grows is the lack of certainty, and the person who has any access to a certain knowledge regarding the Divine Being dare not go against His will. If the owner of the house knows that a heavy flood is sure to sweep away his house or that it has caught fire and a very small space is left, he cannot stay in the house. How do you then, notwithstanding your pretensions to certainty as to the reward and punishment of good and evil deeds, remain in the dangerous condition in which you are? Open your eyes and consider the Divine laws which you see working in the world. Be not the rats which go downwards but be the pigeons which fly upwards and ascend into the height of the heaven. Do not turn to sin after you have sworn repentance and be not like the serpent which after stripping off its skin is still the same old serpent. Remember death, for it is coming nearer you and you are unaware of its approach. Try to purify yourselves, for no one who is not himself purified can see the Holy One. But how can you find this blessing? Almighty God Himself has shown you the way, and said:
وَ اسۡتَعِیۡنُوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ وَ الصَّلٰوۃِ
“Seek the assistance of God with patience and with prayer” [The Holy Quran, 2:45].
Prayer must be addressed to God with true humbleness of heart and must contain the praise and sanctification of God, istighfar [seeking Allah’s forgiveness and protection], and the invoking of Divine blessings on the Holy Prophet. When you say your prayers, do not, like the ignorant, deem it a sin to utter words in your prayer in any but the sacred language. Their istighfar and prayers are only lifeless ceremonies. Therefore, when you say your prayers, address your supplications to God with humility and submissiveness in your own language, reciting the passages of the Holy Quran, which is the Word of God, and the prayers taught by the Holy Prophet in the Arabic language, for when you pray to God in your own language, your words have a greater efficacy and your hearts, as they realize the depth of the meaning of these words, bow down before God with greater submission.