THE reader will remember that when Emarat took his leave of Ghulam on the evening preceding the events narrated in the last chapter, he took with him a copy of a Bengali translation of the Qur'an which Ghulam had lent him. So overjoyed was the young merchant at the opportunity which now came to him to learn something of the contents of the Qur'an that he sat late into the night poring over its pages. He was both interested and pleased, as he read the first short chapter, to learn the meaning of the prayer which he, parrot-like, had so often uttered. The beauty of the simple prayer impressed him, but he wondered, as he read, how men could call the passage a revelation from God. To him it seemed the sincere prayer of a man seeking guidance and help, and as he read the brief notes at the foot of the page, he was confirmed in his opinion by the fact that Ibn Mas'ud, one of the Companions of the Prophet, and a Qur'an reader (Qari), had rejected Qur'an Al-Fatihah (1) as not being a part of the Qur'an sent down from heaven. Then he turned to Qur’an Al-Baqarah (2), but had not proceeded far in his reading before he met a passage (verse thirty-four) which made him rub his eyes with astonishment, and he looked a second time before he could convince himself that the words he saw were really a part of the Qur'an. The words that so astonished Emarat were these, ‘And when we said to the angels, “Bow down and worship Adam”, then worshipped they all, save Iblis.” The youth was honestly puzzled, for he could not understand how a book which taught so strongly the unity of God, and the duty of worshipping Him alone, should distinctly state that, in heaven, the angels were commanded to worship Adam; and he could not help wondering how such a book could really be a revelation from God. Emirat, however, did not spend much time over this difficult passage, but with a mind anxious and perplexed proceeded to finish the chapter.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon at Midnight in Iceland
Jokulsarlon Lagoon at Midnight in Iceland

The next passage which arrested his attention was to Qur’an Al-Baqarah 2:48 ‘Fear ye the day when soul shall not satisfy for soul at all, nor shall any intercession be accepted from them,’ and, as he read, he said to himself, If this verse be true, then Muhammad cannot be an intercessor at the day of judgement, for it distinctly states that, on that day, no intercession will be accepted. Then, thoroughly perplexed, the youth read on until he came to the words of the Qur'an regarding the observation of the fast, ‘Eat and drink until ye can discern a white thread from a black thread by the day-break; then fast strictly until night’ Qur’an Al-Baqarah 2:187, and as he turned to the notes at the foot of the page, he was reminded of the existence of countries like Iceland and Greenland where, in some parts of these countries, the sun may be visible for the entire day day during the summer solstice. Therefore, it would be manifestly impossible for men to keep the Muslim fast. Likewise, during the winter solstice, the daylight is only visible for two to four hours. A Muslim fast for two hours is hardly a meaningful fast. From this passage it is clear, cogitated the youth, that either the Qur'an is not from God, or else Islam cannot be a religion intended for all the world, for God would never command men to do that which is impossible.

Then Emarat came to passages inciting the Muslims to ‘fight against the infidels’, and, still later on, he met the passage in which it is prescribed that there be ‘no compulsion in religion’ Qur’an Al-Baqarah 2:256. Emarat knew that the maulavis explained such contradictory passages of the Qur'an by the doctrine of abrogation, but, somehow, that explanation failed to satisfy his mind, and he continued his study assailed by doubts as to the divine origin of the book he was reading.

The youth was delighted with the words, ‘The east and the west are God's, He guideth whom He will into the right path’ Qur’an Al-Baqarah 2:142, for it seemed fitting that the Creator of all the earth should be omnipresent, but his joy was turned into dismay when, later on, he read, ‘Turn, then, thy face towards the sacred mosque, and wherever ye be turn your faces towards that part’ (verse 144), and he wondered how the God whose face was everywhere should now be found only at Mecca; and at length, weary and distressed, he laid down the book and fell asleep.

Two days later Emarat was suddenly accosted by his friend Ghulam. The latter drew his arm in his, and led him away to a quiet spot on the river bank where be related to him all the events which had transpired since their last meeting. As Ghulam spoke of his beating, and showed his friend the marks of the blows upon his arms and shoulders the young merchant's eyes blazed with anger. ‘This,’ said he, ‘decides me, to become a Christian too. So long I have hesitated, partly from fear, partly because I hoped that, somehow, we might be found wrong in our judgements. But what I have read in the Qur'an, and what I have seen of the maulavi's treatment of you, has decided me that I cannot longer remain in a religion which substitutes force for argument, and would compel men against their convictions to follow Muhammad. To tell the truth, the missionary's words at the meeting the other day practically decided me; for I can see clearly now that the Injil is the uncorrupted word of God, and, as such, I dare not reject its teachings.’

‘Yes, I am persuaded,’ rejoined Ghulam, ‘that, if Muslims would study this matter without prejudice, and would examine the Qur'an and the great commentaries on it, instead of relying upon hearsay, they would be compelled to believe in and obey the Taurat and Injil. And when they do that they cannot stop short of becoming Christians, for the teaching of the Injil is clear that only in the Prophet 'Isa is there salvation. As for me, my course is clear, and I purpose, God willing, to spend my life in seeking to bring my Muslim fellow-countrymen to a knowledge of the truth’.

‘And as for me,' replied Emarat, ‘I shall at once inform my father of my purpose to become a Christian. If, like you, I am turned out of my home, I will seek my fortunes elsewhere. I have hands to work, and do not fear that, with God on my side, I shall prosper.’ Then the two friends knelt together, and lifted up their hearts in thanksgiving to God who had led them to peace and safety.

Our story is ended. Ghulam returned to Dhanpur, where he was baptized by the missionary, Mr. Williams. He then, with the latter's help, continued his studies until he passed the matriculation examination of the Calcutta University a few weeks later. He then entered the famous Serampur College for theological training, and, in due time, came forth equipped for his life's work. He is now an earnest preacher of the Gospel, and, with the munshi's daughter Amiran as a wife, is happily settled in a town some distance south of Dhanpur.

Ghulam's father is still a Muslin, but he has long since repented of that cruel beating, and Ghulam is now a welcome visitor at his old home. The latter is not without hope that his father will yet surrender himself to the claims of Christ, and he and Emarat, who has also been baptized, often sit together and talk of the days when they planned to convert the Christian missionary to Islam.