The Six Parallel Stages of Physical and Spiritual Perfection in the Light of the Holy Quran

English translation of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Vol. 5, pp. 32–84

by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian

The Fourth Stage

We now come to the fourth spiritual stage which Allah mentions in the verse,

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ لِفُرُوۡجِہِمۡ حٰفِظُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۵﴾

“And those who guard their chastity.” [The Holy Quran, 23:5]

That is, higher than the third stage is the believer who saves himself from sensual passions and forbidden desires. This is superior in rank than the third stage in which the believer merely spends out of his wealth, which is dear and precious to him, only in the path of Allah. However, at this fourth stage of advancement the believer sacrifices those things which he loves and adores more than even his wealth, and those are his sexual passions which man cherishes to such a degree that to satisfy them he spends his cherished riches like water and wastes thousands of dollars in his madness to satisfy his lust. In fact, in this pursuit, money is like nothing to him. Indeed, it is a common sight to observe mean and filthy-minded people who, in their niggardliness, can never give a dollar to a poor, naked person, yet, driven by passion, they become prodigal in lavishing thousands of dollars on prostitutes to the detriment of their own household and they care not a whit. From this we can see that the flood of lust is so ragingly tempestuous that even avarice, which is so filthy, is caught up in the current and itself begins to flow.

Thus, it is a self-evident fact that in comparison with the power of faith by means of which man drives away stinginess and spends his dear and beloved riches for Allah’s sake, this power, which gives man the strength to save himself from the storm of carnal lusts, is much stronger and is more durable and powerful in confronting Satan. This is because the work of this spiritual power is to trample under its feet that old serpent — the soul that commands evil, whilst the rigidity of avarice can be released through man’s passion to gratify his lustful desires, or in his urge sometimes to do things for show or for vanity.

However, this storm which rises from the power of the sexual passions is so powerful, compelling and persistent that it cannot be conquered except through the mercy of Allah. And, just as in the physical human body, the bone is the strongest and most durable part of all his limbs, similarly, the spiritual power to quell this storm of passion is most powerful and permanent. This is to enable man to wage a long war against this enemy, that is, lust, before he can finally overpower it, and this cannot be quelled without the mercy of the One Supreme God.

This is why Prophet Joseph (pbuh) had to say:

وَ مَاۤ اُبَرِّیُٔ نَفۡسِیۡ ۚ اِنَّ النَّفۡسَ لَاَمَّارَۃٌۢ بِالسُّوۡٓءِ اِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّیۡ ؕ اِنَّ رَبِّیۡ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۵۳﴾

“And I call not myself sinless; surely man’s self is wont to command evil, except those on whom my Lord has mercy. Surely my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful” (The Holy Quran, 12:53).

It is interesting to note that in this verse the same clause, except those on whom my Lord has mercy, was also used when referring to the flood in the time of the Prophet Noah (pbuh) as the following verse attests:

لَا عَاصِمَ الۡیَوۡمَ مِنۡ اَمۡرِ اللّٰہِ اِلَّا مَنۡ رَّحِمَ ۚ

“There is none safe today from Allah’s command except him on whom Allah has mercy (The Holy Quran, 11:43).

In this, there is an indication that in its awesome power the flood of sexual passions is similar to the flood in the time of Prophet Noah (pbuh).

In comparison with this fourth spiritual stage, we have the fourth physical stage which is described in the verse,

فَخَلَقۡنَا الۡمُضۡغَۃَ عِظٰمًا

“Then We made (in) the lump of flesh, bones.” [The Holy Quran, 23:14]

It is clear that in the bones there is greater strength and stability and in comparison with the lump of flesh the bones are more durable and remains of them can last for thousands of years.

Thus, the comparison between the fourth spiritual and the fourth physical stage is crystal clear for, in the fourth spiritual stage, the power and firmness of faith is far greater than in the third stage and here, too, the connection with Allah, the Merciful, is also more binding.

Similarly, because of the creation of bones, the fourth physical stage is much more solid and powerful than that of the lump of flesh and, in addition, the attachment to the womb is stronger.