A Religious Conference at Lahore [2–4 December 1907]

The Review of Religions (English), December 1907 Issue (Vol. 6, No. 12, pp. 465–466)

On the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of December a religious conference was held at Lahore in connection with the anniversary of the Gurukul section of the Lahore Arya Samaj at which representatives of Islam, Christianity, Brahmo Samaj and Sanatan Dharm, besides the Arya Samaj, read papers on the question:

“Can any book be said to have been revealed by God? If so, which?”

The one remarkable feature of the conference was the broad spirit in which the different religions viewed each other, though the Arya Samaj itself, notwithstanding that it organised the meeting, showed an utter lack of this humanitarian and tolerant spirit. The Arya Samaj reserved the last day for its own paper, and caused a keen disappointment to the followers of other faiths by giving vent to bitter invectives against their sacred leaders and books.

On behalf of Islam the paper on the proposed question was written by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, and we hope to be able to place it before our readers in the next issue. The following brief extract from it will, however, enable the reader to see the broad spirit in which Islam looks at other religions:

“The principle on which Almighty God has established us and which He has revealed to us through His Holy Book is that as surely as there is a God, He reveals His will to mankind, and as He is the God of the whole world and not of any one sect or one tribe, He has also blessed all parts of the world and all tribes of the human race with the greatest of His gifts that is, Divine revelation, which is the fountain-head of true guidance, and He has not been sparing in granting this gift to any people. … This principle has been taught to us by the Holy Book, which is called the Quran, in which it is said:

وَ لَقَدۡ بَعَثۡنَا فِیۡ کُلِّ اُمَّۃٍ رَّسُوۡلًا

‘And there is no people among whom a warner has not passed’ [The Holy Quran, 16:36].

“That noble Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] has taught us that the messengers and prophets whom different people in the world have taken as such, and whose greatness is acknowledged by any people, were really the messengers and prophets of God, and their books were Divine revelations granted to them, though afterwards they may have been corrupted or altered or their true meaning may have been obscured, and, therefore, these books also ought to be respected.

“Once our Holy Prophet [Muhammad], may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, was asked if prophets had been raised among other people, and he replied that prophets had been raised in all countries. He also said that in India there was a prophet of a dark colour who was called Kahin, that is to say, Krishna. When asked whether the word of God had ever been revealed in the Persian language, he replied in the affirmative.”

This principle contains, we think, the best and soundest basis for a mutual understanding between the various religions, but it is a pity that the Arya Samaj rejects all books for one which it does not understand, and which has never been known to people living outside India.