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 Third Stage

The third physical stage of development is mentioned in the verse,

فَخَلَقۡنَا الۡعَلَقَۃَ مُضۡغَۃً

“Then We make the clot into a mudghah (lump of flesh).” [The Holy Quran, 23:14]

This is the stage where man’s physical being is cleansed of impurities and it becomes stronger and sturdier than before, for both the nutfah (life-germ) and the congealed drop of blood, called the alaq or clot, contain a bit of uncleanness or infirmity and, in comparison with the lump of flesh, they are soft and delicate. But the mudghah, which is a piece of flesh, creates a condition of cleanliness within itself and its constitution is to some degree stronger than that of the life-germ and the clot.

This correlates with the third spiritual stage of man’s being as is expressed in the verse,

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ لِلزَّکٰوۃِ فٰعِلُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۴﴾

“And those who pay the zakah (poor-rate)” or “those who act for the sake of zakah (purity).” [The Holy Quran, 23:4]

The meaning of this verse is that the believer who advances beyond the first two stages is not only saved from vain and useless activities, but more than that, in order to expel the impurity of niggardliness which is inherent in man, he now begins to pay the poor-rate, that is, he spends a part of his wealth in the way of Allah. The name zakah (meaning poor-rate or purity) is used because when man fulfils this obligation, that is, when he gives away his wealth, which is very dear to him, for the sake of Allah, he becomes purified of the pollution of stinginess. And when the uncleanliness of avarice to which man has a strong natural affinity is expunged from his system, he becomes much cleaner and forms a resultant relation with Allah Who is Pure in essence.

Whoever falls in love with this Lord of Purity,
Will find Him only if he purifies his own self.

This rank is not found in the first two conditions, for humility, meekness and supplication, as well as abstinence from frivolities, can exist in a person in whom the taint of avarice is also present. But when he parts with the wealth he loves only for the sake of Allah — the wealth upon which his livelihood depends and for which he labours to the fullest — only then will the impurity of meanness be expelled from him. In addition, his faith grows and increases in strength and those two conditions (of nutfah and alaq) which preceded this stage cannot give birth to cleanliness for they both contain a degree of impurity within themselves.

The wisdom behind this is that to abstain from vanities is merely to withhold one’s self from evil, but evil is not a compelling necessity of life and its continuity, neither is it something that is difficult for the inner self of man to eschew.

However, to give away one’s hard-earned wealth solely for the pleasure of Allah amounts to an acquisition of great goodness which purifies the heart of man from the worst of all impurities, that is, of avarice. Therefore, this is the third stage of faith which is nobler and more excellent than the two previous ones. In comparison with this stage is the mudghah (lump of flesh) which is the third stage in the growth of the human form. This stage exceeds in quality the first two stages of the life-germ and the clot and it also embodies the quality of purity for, in both the life-germ and the clot, there inheres a measure of impurity. However, the mudghah (lump of flesh) enjoys a purified condition and just as in the womb it is a higher form of development than the life-germ and the clot and clings more strongly to the womb than the first two and is stronger and firmer in constitution, this condition is designated as the third spiritual stage of man’s existence which Allah describes thus in the verse,

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ لِلزَّکٰوۃِ فٰعِلُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۴﴾

“And those who pay the zakah (poor-rate)” or “those who act for the sake of zakah (purity).” [The Holy Quran, 23:4]

That is, the true believers are those who, in order to cleanse themselves of the impurity of stinginess, spend their wealth which is so dear to them in the way of Allah, and more so, they choose to do this willingly and cheerfully.

Thus, in this third stage of spiritual development are to be found those three excellences which are present in the third physical stage, that is, the lump of flesh. In other words, the spending of one’s hard-earned and precious wealth only for the sake of Allah in order to purify one’s self of the stain of avarice is a superior achievement than just abstaining from vanities. This creates a stronger bond with Allah, the Merciful, and consolidates and further strengthens one’s faith, for the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward from Allah, Most High.