The Star that Guides
English translation of ‘Najm-ul-Huda’
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
Advent of Islam
All praise is due to ALLAH Who made all things and placed in each an excellence peculiar to itself. He designed man to be specially His own and allayed the discontent of his soul by the gift of Himself. All His creations are marked by strength, beauty, originality and wisdom. He made the sun to shine and the moon to glow and assigned to man honour, eminence and a high dignity.
Significance of the Two Names ‘Ahmad’ and ‘Muhammad’:
And peace and blessing by upon His unlettered Prophet, who bears the names of MUHAMMAD and AHMAD.These were the two names first presented to Adam when in the Beginning the names of all things were introduced to him, because they conveyed the ulterior purpose of the creation of the world, and thus held with God the highest and the noblest place among all other names. So, by virtue of bearing these names the Holy Prophet enjoys a pre-eminence over all other prophets. He was the recipient of the highest form of prophetic knowledge and was vouchsafed divine revelations in their fullness and completeness. He was gifted with the closest insight into Divine secrets and was endowed with all the blessings bestowed upon preceding and succeeding generations. It was for these reasons that he received the title of “The Seal of the Prophets.”
He was sent with a message alike for the white and the black and was chosen to cure the blind, the deaf and the mute. He was endowed with divine blessings in a measure the like of which was not witnessed in any previous prophet or apostle. It was by the operation of His direct providence that God endowed him with knowledge, understanding, insight, purity, and sense of propriety, and designated him as one of His Elect. It, therefore, became incumbent upon the Holy Prophet to extol the Lord, Who Himself had provided for his wants, sheltered him under the cloak of His protection and dispensed all his affairs by His direct intervention, without the intermediary of teachers, parents or patrons, and endowed him with all sorts of bounties in their perfection. Naturally, therefore, the soul of the Holy Prophet celebrated the praise of God with an exuberance the depth of which it is beyond the power of any human vision to explore. He attained the highest perfection in the celebration of God’s praise and was lost and effaced in His remembrance. The secret of this exuberant praise and glorification lay in the fact that God had been unceasingly and continuously showering His blessings upon him; and His Succour did not leave the Holy Prophet for a single instant dependent upon his own effort, till at length the Divine Presence took entire possession of his heart and made it its permanent abode and made the Holy Prophet its beloved in all respects. As a result, the heart of the Holy Prophet leaped up in praise of the Great Benefactor and to extol Him became the single object of his desire. This was a privilege never vouchsafed to any save the Holy Prophet, nay to none of the other apostles or prophets or seers or saints. These had deprived part of their spiritual insight and knowledge, and other gifts through the intermediary of learned men or their parents or other human benefactors. But, on the contrary, the Holy Prophet received all his gifts directly from God, the fountainhead of all blessings. They could not, therefore, experience the same degree of warmth in the glorification of God as did the soul of the Holy Prophet, to whom God had proved to be the Sole Provider. This was the reason why none of the previous apostles or prophets had received the name of AHMAD, which means the greatest praiser. None of them had celebrated the unity and glory of God to the same extent as did the Holy Prophet, for human hand had a share in the blessings they enjoyed, and unlike the Holy Prophet, they had not been bestowed with their spiritual gifts directly from God. Nor did He become the immediate Dispenser of their affairs or helped them in all their difficulties by His direct intervention.
It thus comes about that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) is alone the perfect MAHDI (the Divinely guided) and the perfect AHMAD (the greatest praiser). This is indeed a mystery fathomed by none save by the hearts of the saints.
Again, since it so happened that the Holy Prophet’s glorification of God consisted in his complete attachment to Him in preference to his own desires, and in his sincere, genuine and single-minded solicitude for Him, God as a reward returned all those praises to the Holy Prophet himself. Such, indeed, is God’s way of dealing with His particular devotees. He turns His praiser into the praised. The Holy Prophet accordingly became the praised one both on the earth and in the heavens. This incident bears a moral for all true devotees, and a happy promise for all who praise God, namely, that God returns to the priaser all his praises and makes him the true subject of the same. The priaser then becomes the praised one on the earth and his acceptance spreads through the land. Every good soul joins him in praise for him. This is the stage of perfection of true devotion and the goal of all pure souls. This stage is recognised by none except those possessed of spiritual insight. This is the highest aim of man and his devotions. This stage marks the end of the ambition of all saints and the termination of the journey of all true seekers. This is the stage wherein God brings to perfection the souls of His elect. This is the purpose of the Law and the ultimate end of all religious experience. This is the gist of all the messages borne to the Holy Prophet by the Angel Gabriel. Let us, therefore, invoke peace and blessing upon the Holy Prophet.
The state described above is the end for which all spiritual strivers put forth their efforts, as well as those who detach themselves from the world for the sake of His love, who live by God alone and die in his name, who place their entire reliance upon Him, who submit to His will in perfect integrity of soul and carry out His commands with tears in their eyes and forget themselves in their search after His pleasure, who die at His loss and live with His countenance, who for His sake leave their nightly beds and engage themselves in devotion, and pass their nights standing or prostrate before Him and are never forgetful; and who when they feel restless, remember their Friend with weeping and tears and in the watches of the night mutter their complaints and breathe their sighs. Nobody knows which way these strivers are being driven and how they are being directed. Disasters befall them and they bear them with patience. They are cast into flames and the word ‘peace’ comes unto them and they are saved. These are the true extollers of His praise: His near ones, and accessories to His secrets.
Bless them! They and their associates are the elected ones who have been privileged to intercede and whose intercession has been accepted. This is a dignity not granted to any except the favoured ones of God. It was to explain this state that Islam made its advent. It came to save men from the pit of destruction, and to lead them to the precincts of sanctity and to the further stage of attained blessedness. It came to warn the heedless that the sword is ever ready which will cut them off.
Little indeed do men know in what true praise and glorification of God consist, and why it is held in such a high esteem. To realise its worth it is enough to remember that God has opened the Holy Quran with His praise, so that men may know its supreme importance. This praise can never emerge in any human heart except with the complete melting of one’s soul and entire self-effacement and can never be truly realised until all passions have been fully subdued and the cloak of selfishness put off. Nor can this praise move any human tongue but that the fire of love should first be kindled in the heart. Nay, it can never take shape until the traces of all the false gods have first been completely effaced from the heart, and until the man has been entirely consumed in the fire of love for the true God. The man, who casts himself in this fire, and has his heart filled with aches and his head absorbed in the remembrance of God is alone privileged to utter this praise. To such alone is given in heaven the name of AHMAD. He enjoys the Divine nearness and is admitted into the abode of dignity and into the lofty mansion. The latter signifies the mansion of majesty and power and may tropically be said to be awarded to the man who celebrates His praise. Such a man by God’s command is praised both on the earth and in the heaven and receives the name of MUHAMMAD.
This name signifies one who is abundantly praised. Both of these names were specially designed for the Holy Prophet even from the very beginning of the world. But then by way of epithet they are also granted to him who makes himself the reflection of the Holy Prophet. And whoever is given the least part of the attributes signified by these names, has his heart illuminated by a thousand effulgence. And the prophecy had gone forth from the lips of the Holy Prophet that during the later days God would combine both of these attributes in one of His chosen servants; as we may still read in the holy tradition. Read, then, those traditions, dear reader and reflect!
In short, the attribute signified by the names AHMAD and MUHAMMAD are so comprehensive that they have been made the goal of every true monotheist. And it is impossible for any soul to realise the truth of the Divine Unity until and unless it develops both of these attributes. And no true spirit can find rest until it has completely mastered these attributes. And no man can be saved from the snare of passions till he has attained this supreme stage. And for those who are strangers to this stage and have no part therein is promised a humiliation in this world and the next. They live in the world like straws in a flood. Darkness covers their faces like a piece of black night. Their birth, their life and their death are all shrouded in a pall. These are the men whose minds refuse to offer praise to God and who spend their time in the praise of false gods.
Blessed, then, are we the followers of Islam, because we have been given a prophet, who possessed both of these attributes of AHMAD and MUHAMMAD, who received both of these names from God so that they might prove a constant reminder to his followers and an ever-present motive to urge them to the goal, namely, that of perfect self-surrender to God and complete isolation from others beside. It behoves us then to strive for these attributes and to emulate these qualities of the Holy Prophet. This is enjoined on us by the Holy Quran, where the words are put into the mouth of the Holy Prophet:
قُلۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تُحِبُّوۡنَ اللّٰہَ فَاتَّبِعُوۡنِیۡ یُحۡبِبۡکُمُ اللّٰہُ
“Come, follow me that God may love you” [The Holy Quran, 3:31]
The promise of this reward, therefore, sets our spirits dancing with joy and infatuate our minds intoxicating them, as it were, with the wine of anticipated bliss. How supremely eminent must be the rank of the Holy Prophet whose very names serve as a powerful sermon and furnish a lesson in the proper method of search after God and guide men in the path of spiritual advancement and point to the highest goal of this divine pilgrimage. May God, then, shower His peace and blessings upon the Prophet and his descendants who were pure and holy, and upon his Companions who were mighty workers by day and devotees by night and the resplendent stars of the spiritual firmament. May His pleasure never leave them!
The Purpose of the Book:
Next, I proceed to inform my readers that this little book is intended to give an account of the treasures which my God Lord has entrusted to me for distribution to mankind and of that fountain which in an age troubled by many a mirage, has brought God’s merciful providence suddenly gushed forth in my mind. I began it on a Thursday and finished it by the next morning without being the worse for the labour. My object herein has been to produce an argument against my opponents. My sympathy for negligence of the Muslim community also persuaded me all the more readily to undertake this service for the sake of their weaker members. For men or women their salvation lay in the acceptance of my call, even though in outward piety they might rival the sanctity of Rabia. The book is also intended to be a reply to those writings which have recently been published by my opponents. I have touched therein upon many of the deeper truths and hidden beauties of Islam. The book indeed is an appeal to my opponents which my love impelled me to write out in two different languages (Arabic and Urdu). Friends added a Persian and an English translation. These flagged not in their zeal, nor spared themselves any pain to carry out my wish. All these are the bounties of my Lord. There is none to thwart His purpose or to balk His will. There is none to intercept His favours or to avert His punishment. Had He not cared in the beginning of this century (of the Hijra) to look after the Muslims and out of His infinite mercy and grace come to their assistance in this age of spiritual draught, then of sure the light of Islam would have been extinguished forever and stars of the religious firmament would have once more vanished out of sight. O men! You should, therefore, be grateful if you are true believers.
The book is specially intended for those of my people who have denied my truth and said that all these are the machinations of an impostor. They disbelieved my words and considered them to be mere fabrications. They distrusted me and decried me. The infinite sympathy and anxiety which I feel for them therefore prompted me to advise and admonish them and God is fully aware of the motives which move His creatures and of the secret designs of their hearts, for He knows full well what transpires in this world.
Transformation Wrought by the Holy Prophet:
I do not propose in this book to adduce arguments at length in support of the truth of Islam or to describe in detail the many excellencies of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him), because Islam is a faith at once sublime and simple which contains in itself innumerable evidences of its truth, which are striking and obvious and the Holy Prophet has been endowed with such a fragrance as is sure to reach and captivate every good soul. He was the embodiment of Divine effulgence and came to us at a time when the earth was steeped in darkness. At such a time he appeared to us in his radiant beauty and diffused his sweet odour for the edification of the world. He attacked falsehood and overthrew it for all times and shone forth in his truth with the utmost vividness. He gave guidance to a people who had ceased to believe in the last meeting with the Lord and were spiritually dead, who had been lost to faith and virtue and had ceased to feel the thirst for Divine knowledge and passed their lives in utter despair. He guided them and made them a civilised nation and led them to the heights of spiritual advancement. Before his advent these people were sunk in idolatry and worshipped stocks and stones and had no faith in the Unity of God or in the last Judgement. They had put their trust in the idols and ascribed to them the powers of Divinity. They believed that the bringing of rain, the productions of fruits, the giving of children and everything connected with life and death were due to their idols. Every one of them entertained the belief that his own potent guardian was the idol which he worshiped, which helped him in difficulties and rewarded him for his works. They took their refuge with them and prayed to them. They had rejected light and betaken themselves to darkness and preferred to make the night their permanent abode. They felt as happy with their idols as the man who suddenly attains the object of his desire, or as the hunter who finds the game unexpectedly in his power without the trouble of a shot. It was their deep conviction that their idols had the power to grant them whatever they desired. They had imagined that the Supreme Allah was too holy to undertake the trouble of granting the prayers or of His punishing His creatures and that He had delegated all His power and authority relating to the Universe and Spirit and Matter to those idols and had honoured them with the cloak of Divinity, while He Himself enjoyed rest on His throne and would have nothing to do with such affairs; that it was their idols that interceded for them and relieved them from their troubles; that they were the means to win the favours of God; and that it was those idols which helped confounded humanity to attain their desires. With such beliefs they combined a vile course of life. They committed adultery and theft, oppressed the orphans and misappropriated their properties, indulged in murder, robbery and infanticide without the least compunction. There was no villainy which they did not commit and no false deity which they did not worship. They had lost the sense of human propriety and had discarded all standards of morality. They had been turned into veritable brutes and ate the flesh of sons and brothers! They greedily devoured the dead carrion and drank blood with avidity like milk! They had transgressed all bounds in the crimes and rebellion against God and like the beast of the forest knew no restraint. Their poets insulted women by their obscenities and the well-to-do among them were given up to gambling, drinking and debauchery. When they were inclined to thrift they ignored all claims of brothers, orphans or the poor, and when they felt generous they squandered their wealth in luxury, extravagance, adultery, in the satisfaction of passions and greed and carried self-indulgence to the extreme. They killed their offspring for fear of poverty and want. They murdered their girls to prevent their future husbands becoming heirs to their properties. Thus, they came to combine in their character the most degrading principles and the most heinous conduct. And there multiplied among them bastards, adulteresses and fornicators, and men who disapproved of their actions and admonished them, ran the risk of harm to their honour, their lives and their family. In short, these Arabs were a people, who never had a chance of listening to any admonished. They were utter strangers to piety and to purity of character. There was none among them truthful in word or upright in judgement. At such a time when the Arabs were sunk in such a corruption, when all their words and deeds were so polluted with foulness, God raised among them a prophet. They knew not what a prophet meant and were completely in the dark about his function. They denied and disobeyed him and stuck to their idolatry and follies. And the Holy Prophet bore all their persecutions and patiently endured their excesses. He returned their evil with good and their hate with love. He had come to them as a friend and well-wisher, still for a long time he had to pace the streets of Mecca like a forsaken outcast and to bear all their inquiries with the innate strength of his prophethood. It was his habit to rise in the night and to resort to God praying that his country men might be gifted with discernment and His grace and mercy. At last, his prayers were heard, and God, the Changer of hearts, issued His decree. The influence of his mission began to spread faster and faster. He who instils love in human hearts and opens the seeds, now came to his help. At His command the earth was changed and the hearts were attached to the blessed Messenger. Every good soul now came forward in sincerity and truth and strove to win the pleasure of God by the sacrifice of his life and possessions until he fully redeemed his vow of life’s consecration. They were killed for the sake of God like goats upon the altar. They proved with their blood the sterling quality of their race and by their deeds the earnestness of their solicitude for God. In the days of idolatry, their spirits were enchained in the shackles of ignorance, now the acceptance of Islam illuminated their hearts and changed their vice into virtue and their wickedness into genius. Their nightly carousals were abandoned for the sake of vigils and prayers and their morning bouts were changed to paeans of praise and thanksgivings. Once they were convinced of the truth, they spared neither life nor wealth in the service of God, and once they had discerned the right they strove with their might and main to strike fire out of the flint of their faith. They courted danger so that they might carefully and rightly gauge the real nature of their faith. This spirit of sacrifice was the secret of their heroism, of the keenness of their swords, of the renown which they achieved and of their ultimate triumph. It was this spirit which made their character so attractive to the people and like the musk under the pestle disclosed the hidden fragrance of their souls. It was this spirit which put valour into their hearts and gave eloquence to their tongues, firmness to their faith and elevation to their thought. It was this spirit which enabled them to cast themselves into the fire of Divine love till like coal they were kindled and consumed to ashes. They thus made ample preparation for their journey to God. For them afflictions were changed into peace and comfort. They became invulnerable to heat and fire. Anyone who would carefully ponder over this remarkable change, how those wild Arabs abandoned their former pastures and hewed through the forests of their passions and desires to make their way to their Lord, cannot fail to conclude that it was all due to the sanctifying power of MUHAMMAD, the Supreme Prophet elected by God for His everlasting grace. And one may well wonder at the uniqueness of his power which picked up the holy companions from the depths of the earth and led them to the pinnacles of heaven, and step by step elevated them to the stage of the elect. He found them like beasts devoid of the notions of Divine Unity and piety, who knew not the difference between virtue and vice. He taught them the rules of human propriety and explained to them the principles of communal and social life, instructed them in the laws of hygiene such as the need for brushing, cleaning and picking the teeth, for waiting in the closet until evacuation has been complete so as not to foul the clothes, in the rules of sex-intercourse and domestic economy, in the principles of diet and dress, of sanitation, treatment and prevention of disease, and in general inculcated lessons in moderation in all matters. And when they had mastered the rules of physical life, he led them on from physical to moral and spiritual qualities and to lessons in principled conduct, so as to enable them to develop a spiritual life. And, after they had been confirmed in morals and also in the practice of good conduct, he invited them to the heights of Divine propinquity and union and initiated them in the Divine mysteries and directed them to the Supreme Lord of Power and Majesty, so that they might henceforth freely crop the green verdure of love in the holy precincts of God and enjoy the privilege of His approval and acceptance.
Three Stages of Islamic Teachings:
The fact is that the teachings of the Holy Quran and the instructions of the Holy Prophet are divided into three stages. The first is intended to turn savages into men and to instil into them notions of human proprieties; the second is to raise them from the stage of natural humanity to that of moral beings; and the third is to elevate them from the moral stage to the stage of spiritual union with God, where they may enjoy. His nearness, approbation and love. At this stage there is annihilation and effacement, and all signs of a separate existence and a separate will are completely obliterated, and there is left only one absorbing sense of Divine Presence, the single transcendent Presence, that is to remain after the dissolution of the Creation. This is the final stage of progress for every God-seeking individual, be he man or woman, and hereto converge all the different systems of religious exercises. Here ends the journey of the saints. This is the stage referred to in the term “Istiqamat” [steadfastness], which occurs in the opening chapter of the Holy Quran [Al-Fatihah]. At this stage are finally quenched under Divine Command all the passions and desires which are ignited in the lower self of man. When this stage is attained, then is the whole citadel finally conquered. The rabble of passions and desires cease their din and the question is asked,
“To whom does the Kingdom belong today?”
and the answer comes,
“To the God of Glory and Greatness.”
But far otherwise is the case with the stage of morals and good conduct. In that stage there is no security against the enemy during the unguarded moments of spiritual strife, because for those who have not yet passed beyond this stage there still remains to overcome many a stronghold difficult of conquest and they have to live in the constant fear of a sudden overwhelming assault by their lower selves when appetites have been made more furious by prolonged abstention. Such men can never lead a life altogether free from dust and impurities no can they ever be secure from the assaults of their passions.
Miraculous Character of the Holy Quran:
Such are the teachings of the Holy Quran. They lead men to perfection both in knowledge and practices. These teachings are indeed so advanced that none of the previous Divine books were deemed fit to propose or propound anything like them. They amount, in fact, to miracle of wisdom and achievement on the part of the Holy Prophet. They make the Holy Quran a standing miracle of all times in the eyes of the world. The miracles of the previous prophets are all dead and gone, but this miracle of the Holy Quran will stand till the last day. Such claims on behalf of the Holy Quran are not mere figments of our imagination lacking a basis in actual facts. There is the most irrefutable evidence in their support and the most convincing and compelling arguments substantiating their truth. Its miraculous wisdom is evident from the fact that it contains all the principles and teachings, all the facts and arguments required by man for his search after God. Its teachings are perfect. It furnishes all the arguments necessary for the establishment of truth and the refutation of falsehood. In the manner and method of its exposition of the higher spiritual truths it leaves nothing to be desired. And withal it sets forth all these teachings and commands and prohibitions in a way which is at once most eloquent and sweet and charming. This is an achievement which is certainly beyond the power of man. Next, as for its miracle of achievement, as much as of wisdom, the fact is equally plain and obvious and admits of no denial or doubt. The Holy Quran has indeed surprised many of the most intelligent thinkers by the wonderful effect and unique change it has wrought in the lives of its followers, by the extraordinary illumination it has caused in their minds, by the complete eradication it has effected of long-established evil customs. It scaled the walls of crooked and perverted natures and made its way into the secret chamber of the heart of the hard-hearted. It crossed the deep and wide moats of carnal lives and reached to those who lived behind those barriers. For it, through God’s intervention, the most difficult works were made easy, distances were obliterated, narrow, selfish minds were broadened and enlarged and every obstacle was removed, till at last truth was made manifest and its devotees gradually came to receive clear revelations and visions and the seed of perennial miracles was sown in their hearts. That is why when questioned about miracles, we have no need to refer to bygone ages for instances of them, but even from our own place can show to the specific ever-fresh examples of such miracles. On the other hand, there is with our adversaries nothing but legends of the past. Such legends can never prove the truth of any religion. The truth of a religion can be known only by the light of signs which never cease, nor ever get stale. Thus, the miracle of the Holy Quran is like a tree with two branches both of which are of great majesty. These diffuse their fragrance all round and crowds of people are gathered to bear testimony to their worth, just as they gather round the Holy Temple at Mecca during the days of the pilgrimage. Imagine for a moment what an amount of pain the greatest philosopher will have to undergo in order to cure the perversion of a foolish or ignorant mind or to change the habits of a vicious life. The work will well nigh prove impossible for him. Try, then, to realise the greatness of the man, who in a few years reformed thousands of men and turned them from vice to virtue, eradicated their disbelief, adorned them with the qualities of truthfulness and probity, till the light of piety illuminated their hearts and the love of God was made manifest in their faces and they were fired with zeal for the service of their faith and traversed the earth from east to west and from north to south inviting men to Islam and the religion of Muhammad. Their minds were enlightened with Divine knowledge and their intelligence was sharpened to understand the Divine mysteries and love of God and hatred of evil became a part and parcel for their nature. Thus, gradually they came to reach the stage of the upright and the blessed after they had once been sunk in the greatest idolatry. In the service of Islam, they spared themselves no pains until they carried it to the farthest corners of the then known world of Persian, China, the Roman Empire and Syria. In short, they reached all those lands where idolatry had spread its sway and paganism had established its power. They did not falter in the presence of death and did not yield even by an inch when threatened by the sword of the tyrant. They were staunch in battle and rushed to meet death for the sake of God. They were a people who never fled before an enemy. They carried their victories to the remotest ends of human habitation. Their genius was put to test and their fitness to rule was brought to the proof. In every field of human enterprise they came out victorious and they proved themselves masters in all departments of knowledge and achievements. This fact alone amounts to a miracle on the part of the Holy Prophet and a clear proof of the truth of Islam. If, however, our opponents should still feel inclined to doubt the truth of our statement, they may well try to point out one single instance from among the followers of Moses and Jesus or other prophets, who achieved anything like that achieved by the Companions of the Holy Prophet. The condition of those followers is an open secret and the opinion expressed about them by their respective leaders is a matter of common knowledge. These prophets, of course, could never had uttered what was not a fact, for they spoke from the prompting of the Holy Ghost and were not like ordinary men who speak under the influence of temper.
An Evidence of the Truth of the Holy Prophet:
Another evidence of the truth of the Holy Prophet is that he appeared just at the time when his appearance was most needed and he did not depart till he had perfected all the details of the religion he preached. As for his miracles they are indeed outstanding. Mention of many of them will be found in the literature of Islam and the reliable and well-known oral traditions which have come down to us. One important feature about his miracles is that they are as much extant today as in the past, which fact puts the whole matter altogether beyond the region of doubt and mistake. The never-failing presence of these signs makes the truth of the Holy Prophet perfectly obvious, which no one can reject except those brought up in sin and fostered in the atmosphere of evil.
Apart, however, from all these external proofs and evidences of the truth of the religion taught by the Holy Prophet, if we consider the intrinsic merits of its teachings, we cannot fail to discern in their clear and shining face the reflection of truth which requires no extrinsic weight of arguments, And, by God, nothing prevents men and women from the acceptance of Islam except when they carry within their hearts the secret maladies of pride, prejudice or bigotry or narrow sectional preferences or hatred. They have been deprived of this inestimable Divine Blessing only because they participated too extensively in sins. These close their hearts and entomb them in darkness and deprive them of moral insight.