THE MIZANU'L HAQQ
(THE BALANCE OF TRUTH)
PRAISE be to GOD, the Living, the Gracious Lord of the Ages, the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, Who created the world and all that is in it, Who dwelleth not in temples made with hands, and Who needeth not anything, since it is He that giveth to all life and breath and all things, and verily He (may His glory be glorified!) hath made of one every nation of men, that they might seek God, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being,—even as it is written in the Qur'an, “We certainly created man, and We know what his soul within him suggesteth, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” And, in the next place,
It is not hidden from men of understanding and enlightenment that, according to tradition, God Most High (may He be praised and exalted) said to David, “I was a hidden treasure, and I desired to become known, and I created the creature that I might be known.” 1 Accordingly God has placed all men in this great school which we call the world ( الدٌنْيا ), and which He has richly adorned with the tokens and manifest signs of His own greatness and glory and has stored with libraries of Divine wisdom as yet only in part revealed to the inner eyes of the wise, in order that here we might seek with all our heart Him who is our Creator, and might by the guidance of His grace attain to the knowledge of Him, who to know is everlasting life.
Soul 2 and food Thou gavest, life for evermore,
And all other blessings from Thy boundless store.
This high quest within us cometh too from Thee;
Through Thy justice only, Lord, from wrong we flee.
And though here on earth men can at best behold Him who is invisible only as in a mirror, yet He who is the fountain of all good gifts desireth that, gazing at the incomparable beauty of Him who alone is perfect in all His attributes, we may day by day, through His grace and favour and spiritual guidance, become changed into the same image, as we grow in the knowledge a and love of our Maker and Lord, the One and Only God, who has given us life that we may seek Him and find Him, and in Him find rest unto our souls.
But when children begin their education, they must first learn what is simple, and proceed to loftier tasks only when they have attained proficiency in the lowlier. The alphabet must be learnt before they can read the works of philosophers and comprehend the lofty strains of poets. So, too, in devoting ourselves to the acquisition of the knowledge of God, it is necessary that we should begin with what is humbler and simpler and nearer to the level of man's mind. And what is nearer to our minds and thoughts than ourselves, our own personality, our own nature? Hence one of the wise men of Greece in ancient days summed up his advice to every man in two words “Know thyself” (γνωθι σεαυτον). The Greeks admired this saying so much that they inscribed the sentence on a column in the temple of one of the chief of their gods: and a Roman poet many years later valued the sentiment so highly that he declared it had come down from heaven. Among wise Arabic sayings of later date we find the same advice, in a fuller and nobler form, in a sentence ascribed to 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, “Whoso 3 knoweth himself knoweth his Lord.” Nor will any wise man, to whatever religion he belongs, deny that this sentiment is full of truth and wisdom. Indeed, knowledge of ourselves is the key by means of which we may hope to unlock the door of the knowledge of our Creator. And if there be a man who pays no attention to the yearnings of his own spirit, and who has not examined and inquired into the desires of his own heart, how can such a man, being ignorant of his own inner condition, attain to the knowledge of God? Against such a man the gate of Divine Knowledge is shut and barred, nor will it be opened until he has studied his own spiritual state and learnt what are the deepest requirements of his spirit. Man needs to know God. The reason of this is that man, in reference to his intellect and spirit, was created in the image of God. As the poet says, “God's 4 family and babes are we”: and again it has been said: “Men 5 are God's family: accordingly the dearest of men to God is he who has done good to His family.”
Though it is true that sin and the temptations of the Devil have led men far astray from God, and have in large measure obliterated from the coin the name and sign of the sovereign Lord who caused it to be struck, yet sufficient of his original likeness to his Creator still remains in man's inner being to make him dissatisfied with the things of sense. Some narrate the tale that, when Adam was cast out of Paradise, he wept long years because he could no longer hear the sweet voices of the angels, by reason of his distance from God, and through the disharmonies of the world. This parable is still true of Adam's children. Hence the restlessness that fills men's hearts and lives, for the saying of the ancient sage is true: “O God, Thou madest us for Thyself, and restless is our heart until it rest in Thee.”
Choose 6 thou His love, in Whom with one accord
Prophets found labour and a gracious Lord.
Those who have not yet reached the knowledge of the One True God in vain seek rest for their souls in false religions or in worldly pleasures. They are like the weary traveller who follows the will-of-the-wisp until he sinks down to drown in the cold marsh of despair; or like the thirsty pilgrim to whom the mirage displays unreal springs and fancied glades, until at last he falls down to die amid the desert sands of the waterless waste, without a drop of the water of life to quench the thirst of his soul. It has well been said that this world “is 7 as it were a mirage in a plain, which the thirsty man accounteth water. Satan gilds it for man until death.”
Yet the Most Merciful God does not wish man to lose his way in the desert of this life, but to find the path home, for He has sent us into the world to find Him. “Whoso 8 seeketh a thing and striveth findeth, and whoso knocketh at a door and persevereth entereth.”
If 9 but God's shadow on man's head be cast,
The seeker findeth, though it be at last.
Both Reason and Revelation assure us of this. The task is no light one, nor can success be expected to crown the seeker's efforts until he has indeed sought for God with all his heart, desiring to know His holy will and to do it here and eternally. But if he satisfies these conditions, God's grace will be his guide to the knowledge of the truth: for, as the proverb says, “Through 10 repetition is profit, and by renewed effort is the mountain plucked up.” Yet let not the seeker for the truth fear to encounter difficulties, let him not shrink from persecution and suffering, for evil men hate the good, and even the best men have borne tribulation.
“Misfortune 11 is delegated on the Prophets, then on the Saints, then on the exemplary and the exemplary.” Well has the poet said:
Whosoe'er 12 at this banquet is nearest his host,
The garment of ill do they give him the most;
In 13 the fire hath the table been set by the King.
But no soldier looketh for his reward before he has gained the victory. Hence he strives manfully night and day and rests not until the battle is won.
In 14 proportion to the effort are dignities won,
And whoso seeketh the height journeyeth during the nights.
Whoso seeketh pearls dives in the sea,
And lordship and favour winneth he.
And whoso seeketh the height without effort,
He wasteth life in search for the impossible.
A man who investigates his own nature, and carefully ponders the desires of his own heart, will soon perceive that he is ceaselessly animated by a desire to obtain happiness for himself. The thoughtless seek this happiness in the things of this transitory world, in the things of sense, forgetting that no enjoyment which is merely physical and temporary, and which must have an end, can ever satisfy the deathless spirit of man. It is narrated that in ancient days there reigned a King whose wealth and pleasures seemed to be limitless. A certain poor man, seeing all this, envied the King, and said, “O King, thy happiness is perfect even on earth.” But the King, having clad the poor man in royal robes and seated him at a royal banquet, caused him to look upwards. He then saw that over his head hung a drawn sword, suspended by a single hair. Fear and dismay took such possession of the guest that he could neither eat nor enjoy the luxury with which he was surrounded. Thus it is with all of us. Over each human head hangs the sword of Azra'il, the Angel of Death. How then can a man obtain true happiness here below, when at any time by God's command that dread Angel may say to him, “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee”? Well has 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said:
Verily this world is transitoriness: in this world there is no permanence:
And verily this world is as a house which a spider hath spun.
O wise man, surely food will suffice thee therein,
And, by my life, soon everyone that is in it will 15 die.
Again, since man is not one of the lower animals, that they cannot break their chains. If these bonds and this slavery become intolerable after a few years in this life, how impossible is it to believe that to all the ages of eternity man's immortal spirit would be rendered happy by them in Paradise! The more men indulge their lower appetites on earth, the more degraded do they become, and the further removed from God, whose pure Nature ( ذات ) is All Holy, and who hates all defilement and iniquity. When men abandon themselves to pleasure and sensuality, they finally learn from experience that, instead of thus obtaining for their inner selves rest and happiness and satisfying the longings of their hearts, they have increased their unrest and discontent and defiled their spirits and consciences with stains which no repentance can efface, and that they have tortured themselves with remorse, which gnaws unceasingly at their heartstrings and terrifies them with the fearful prospect of the wrath of God. Well does Hafiz say:
What 16 room for enjoyment have I, in the halting place of souls, when every moment
The bell proclaims aloud, “Bind on the camel-saddles”?
The thought of God's righteous anger at sin drives men to despair, for they know that:
Everywhere 17 shoulder to shoulder are requital and act.
Their own consciences testify against them and condemn them, even though Satan still tries to deceive them by telling them falsely that God will not punish them. In both body and mind, in disease and remorse, they have already ample proof that sin brings its own punishment, and that, as 'Ali says, “The 18 sweetness of this world of thine is poisoned, therefore thou eatest not honey but with poison.”
Other men fancy that for them happiness consists in the acquisition of worldly wealth. They heap up treasure upon treasure. The more they have, the more do they long for, and nothing ever satisfies them. At length Death catches them in its snare and plunders them for ever of their wealth and of all that they have laid up for themselves. Even in youth we are not sure of life for a day: the only thing we are sure of is death.
The 19 young man longeth that his friend may not die,
And yet no way is there not to die.
Stripped of all their treasures and destitute of all hope for the future, naked and hopeless, men are compelled to journey forth from this caravansarai of transitoriness towards the dwelling of permanence. In the dying ears of those who have put their trust in riches there ring such words as these:
“Go to, now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver are rusted; and their rust shall be for a testimony against you, and shall eat your flesh as fire. Ye have laid up your treasure in the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who mowed your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth out: and the cries of them that reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived delicately on the earth, and taken your pleasure; ye have nourished your hearts in a day of slaughter.”
Riches are not always gained by cruelty, fraud, and oppression, but they cannot truly satisfy man's higher nature, however they may have been acquired, and at death no man may carry them away with him. Death shows us things in their true colours, and enables us to perceive the worthlessness of those things for which men strive most eagerly. The poet's words are well known:
“Everyone's 20 death, my child, is of the same kind as he is himself: to the enemy an enemy, and to the friend a friend.” And again:
“Who 21 in all the world that strung the bow of oppression did not become the target for an arrow of an eternal curse? Who that in untrustworthy Time planned a method of wrong did not himself become Time's object of warning?”
Others there are who hope to gain true happiness by the acquisition of human learning. They do not sufficiently consider that all that man has learnt of earthly things, being based upon that which is transitory, must itself grow antiquated and pass away. The human spirit is eternal, and can never be rendered permanently happy by the possession of transitory knowledge, for: “To 22 sharpen mind and heart is not the way: none but the broken-hearted gains the King's grace.”
It has therefore well been said: “If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know. But if any man loveth God, the same is known of him.”
Some fancy that they shall find happiness in the honour and glory and greatness of this world; others seek it in still other ways. But all men are at one in the quest for happiness and peace and rest of heart. Yet in the ways which we have mentioned and in others like them no man can ever attain to the goal of his hope. How is it possible that the ever-living spirit of a man should be satisfied with the transitory pleasures of this passing world? As Sa'di says:
To 23 none, O my brother, doth this world abide,
In its Maker alone let thy heart then confide,
O trust and rely not on Earth's fair domain,
For many like thee hath she nourished and slain.
Only that which is eternal can satisfy the immortal human spirit; hence only in the knowledge of God, the Eternal One, and in having our will attuned to His holy Will, can we find rest of soul and quiet of heart. Therefore everyone who desires to gain these eternal treasures, without which Qarun [i.e. Korah, supposed by Muslims to have been very wealthy] with all his wealth was poor indeed, and every man who wishes to inherit that true and abiding happiness which can never pass away, must before everything else seek and find the spring and fountain of eternal joy, which is God Himself, and enjoy the delight of meeting with his Lord. For verily the best of all the joys of both worlds lies in coming to Him, whom we seek and serve: than which there can be no higher felicity.
The object of the creation of the sons of men is that they may know and serve and please God Most High, the Merciful, the Gracious: not that, like the beasts that perish, they should eat and drink and devote themselves to the service of the belly and to licentiousness, nor that they should heap up for themselves transitory wealth and seek honour and glory in the sight of their fellows. Nay, on the contrary, man was created that he might attain to the knowledge of his Almighty Creator, and with true adoration and devotion of heart should serve Him, whose service is perfect freedom from sin and from pollution and from the slavery of the Evil One, for only thus can everlasting happiness be the lot of any created being. Hence, as long as we are in this world, we should seek to attain this noble object of our existence, and never rest until we have attained it. Whoever thinks not of these things, but wastes the precious years of this life on earth in the pursuit of earthly pleasures only, how can that man escape the wrath of God?
But in what manner can we find and come to know God, the Eternal, the Incomprehensible, the Invisible? Can this be done merely through our intellectual powers, as some men fancy?
Man 24 comprehendeth not the character of man,
How much then doth the character of the Omnipotent take the pre-eminence!
He it is who produced all things as an inventor,
How then doth one who renews his breath comprehend Him?
It is impossible that our defective and limited intellect should embrace the Eternal and Unchangeable Creator, and should comprehend Him with regard to whose Most Exalted Nature ( ذات ) beginning and end are alike unthinkable. Job is famous for his patience even more than for his wisdom, yet on this subject he said:
Canst thou by searching find out God?
Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
It is high as heaven; what canst thou do?
Deeper than Sheol, what canst thou know?
It is true that, apart from direct Revelation, man may undoubtedly learn something about God from the works of creation and from his own nature. For instance, he may learn with perfect certainty that God exists, that He is exalted far above all things in heaven and in earth, that His wisdom is unsearchable and His ways past finding out. But in this way he can never come to know Him as a man knows his friend, as a little child his mother. He may learn that God is good, and that His tender mercy is over all His works, for truly has the poet said:
Means and methods manifold did God the Truth devise,
That for thee in thy mother's breast some tenderness might rise. 25
Hence, long ere earthly mother was, there lived the Truth of God:
Whoso this truth then knoweth not, what is he but a clod?
From contemplation of the Power that causes the law-observing movements of the planets in their orbits, and from consideration of the Wisdom which has bound creature to creature in bonds of mutual help and dependence, and from observation of the care and foresight which has provided each animal with the limbs and weapons needed for its life and work, one may learn some of the glorious attributes and something of the kindness and character of the Almighty Creator. Hence the Psalmist asks:
He that planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He that formed the eye, shall He not see?
He that chastiseth the nations, shall not He correct,
Even He that teacheth man knowledge? (Psalms 94:9, 10.)
The consonant voice of creation should suffice to teach men that God is Almighty, All-Wise, All-gracious. And, through the light of the reason and conscience which God Most High has given him, man should be able to perceive the difference between right and wrong, justice and injustice, and to distinguish that which is pleasing to God from that which displeases Him. He should also perceive that justice demands the punishment of crimes and the reward of virtuous deeds. He should learn that God, who has placed in man's spirit the recognition of these things, must be just and holy, and that consequently He rewards the good and punishes the wicked. Man ought to be able to learn at least all this about God's Will and Attributes from his own reason and conscience. But experience teaches us that he has not done so, apart from Divine Revelation. The very existence of the heathen is a sufficient evidence of the truth of this assertion. Many of them possess learning and keen understanding and great sagacity; yet in all past ages, and even at the present time, such men in India and China and other lands have remained enchained in the slavery of idolatry, and have never realized that God is One, Living, Eternal, All-Wise, Almighty, Holy, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible. Religion after religion has grown up in various lands, and in most of these, though there may be found a feeling after God, an acknowledgement of the necessity of worship, yet men have been led astray by the Evil One and seduced by their own desires to worship the Host of Heaven, or senseless idols, or dead men, or even brute beasts. Moreover, although man may understand some things through his own intellect, yet, since he cannot feel assured of its correctness, he remains disturbed in mind and uncertain what to believe and what to do. Even Plato and Aristotle in Greece, though renowned as among the wisest of men, never realized the unity and personality of God, still less His Holiness.
Let it not be overlooked that what influences man's actions and beliefs is not his intellect alone. He has also a sensual disposition, and fleshly desires have gained such power over him that they often blind the eye of his perception. On this account also man has never attained, and can never attain by the mere exercise of his reason, even to that degree of the knowledge of God which has been already mentioned. Nor has he ever by his own power overcome his passions and been able and willing to do what he knew to be right.
But even on the supposition that by reason alone man could reach this degree of the Divine Knowledge, yet this degree of knowledge about God and His Attributes would be far from sufficient to satisfy the longings of our hearts. For man cannot fully rely upon the conclusions drawn by his finite reason, because the wisest of men, who have most deeply pondered these things, have differed among themselves regarding them. Hence man feels doubts arise in his mind, and these give him no rest. Nor can he fully know what is God's will regarding man's conduct, and what are His commandments, and how man can please Him. Then how can man perform God's will, and how otherwise can he please His Creator? And how can he ever obtain true happiness unless he gain God's favour?
Hence it is evident that the only thing which can remove man's doubts and drive away his disquiet is a Divine Revelation, since this alone can deliver him from the whirlpool of hesitancy and cause him safely to reach the shore of certainty, and can thus bestow on him calm of heart, because only through such a Revelation can he know how to please God and reach the haven of eternal rest. Nor can there be any doubt that God Most High, who has excited in man's breast this longing for eternal happiness and rest of heart, has done so in order that man might seek and find the object of his desire. For it cannot be believed that the Most Merciful God has produced this thirst without providing the water of life wherewith to quench it. Since therefore universal experience has taught us that it is not in man's power to attain his goal without the aid of a Revelation, the necessity of a Revelation is evident to all men of intelligence. For those that fancy a Revelation to be needless, and hold that man, simply through the light of his own finite Reason, can come to know God and His Divine Will, and that he can thus please God and obtain true and eternal happiness, have evidently forgotten that many wise men during all ages have dived into the fathomless sea of thought, and yet that not one of them all has ever grasped in his palm the pearl of his desire. The sages of ancient Greece and those of many another land have risen up, age after age, and endeavoured by their wisdom to explain the riddle of the Universe, but who among them all has ever succeeded in doing so without Divine Guidance? As the poet says:
No 26 one hath loosed a knot from the matter of the world:
Each one that hath come hath added a few knots to this string.
In truth the dim light of human reason can never guide man through the dark night of ignorance, amid the dense forests of doubt and the deep quagmires of error, so that he may safely reach his goal. The traveller along the narrow way that leads to God can hope to arrive at his rest only through the guidance of the light of the Sun of the Divine Word ( كلام ). And such a Revelation hath God in His mercy bestowed upon the sons of men, that by it they might learn what their reason alone could not discover. And in this Revelation the Most High has declared His Will regarding mankind, and revealed the way of salvation and the means of attaining to the knowledge of the Merciful Creator and eternal bliss. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!
But in this world there exist many different religions, all of which claim to be in accordance with a Divine Revelation. It is clear that all religions cannot alike be from the One True God, since in many points they contradict one another. Some of them teach that there are many gods, some sanction the worship of idols, some command human sacrifices to deities whose disposition is cruel and who delight in sinful and licentious conduct. A thoughtful seeker may indeed find the jewel of truth lost and concealed in the mire of falsehood, and hence in false religions we may sometimes times discover some traces of truth. For example, all religions teach that there is a life after death, with rewards and punishments, and that prayer should be offered and the Divine commandments obeyed. But the jewel must be cleansed from the mire ere it can shine in the rays of the sun. While it remains hidden in the mud, it is useless. All truth comes from God, and perhaps some lingering rays of the light of those early days when Adam walked with God still struggle with the darkness in the souls of the heathen. But these serve only to make the darkness visible and to kindle in the wanderer's heart a desire for the full light of the Divine Revelation.
Among the great religions of the world at the present day there are only two which teach the Unity of God, for the Jewish faith is held by a comparatively small number of people, and they are all of one family. The great Monotheistic faiths are Islam and Christianity. But these, though in some points agreeing with one another, yet differ in many things. Muslims assert that theirs is the broad way and Christianity the narrow: Christians agree with them in this; but affirm that only the narrow way leads unto life (Matthew 7:13, 14). It is evident that these two ways run in different directions, so that they cannot both guide men to God. Only one of them can possibly be the right way which leads to the true knowledge of God and to the eternal happiness for which we all alike, both Muslims and Christians, yearn. The wise seeker after Truth will therefore inquire which is the right way, in order that he may walk therein and attain to the goal. The veil of prejudice, whether national or religious, must in this matter be cast aside from the eyes, lest they fail to behold God's light.
This being so, we must ask, “What are the marks by which we may ascertain which of these two roads is the way of salvation?” In reply it may be said that it is not difficult to find the proofs of the True Revelation and the way to the knowledge of God, if we pay attention to the yearnings of the human spirit, the demands of man's conscience, and the evidence which the conscience bears to the Character and Attributes of the One True God, especially since His Character and Attributes are in some measure revealed in Creation. There can be no doubt that God's Holy Nature ( ذات ) is free from change and alteration. Accordingly, in the true Revelation God's Character and Disposition will be revealed in such a way as to agree with what He had previously revealed of Himself in the work of Creation, in the preservation of the Universe, and in the voice of Conscience: That is to say, though it is evident that the True Revelation must contain much fuller information about God's Nature and Will than man can gain from the study of the pages of the Universe and of the requirements of his own heart, yet such teaching cannot be contrary to the testimony which Nature and Conscience bear to the Creator. Therefore the True Revelation may be distinguished from all the other religions of the world by the six following criteria:—
I. The True Revelation must satisfy the yearnings of the human spirit to obtain eternal happiness. These may be divided into three:—(1) the desire for knowledge of the Truth; (2) the desire for pardon; and (3) the desire for purification.
1. Man needs to know the truth regarding himself and regarding his Creator: that is to say, he requires trustworthy information concerning God's Nature and Attributes, His Will and His Commandments. Then he needs to learn the object of his own creation and in what way that object may be attained. For, if man know not these matters, how can he attain to true and lasting happiness? “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that seek after Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
2. Man needs to obtain pardon for his sins and shortcomings, for he is conscious that in thought, word and deed he has left undone what he ought to have done, and done what he ought not to have done, and that he is therefore a sinner and a defaulter in God's sight. Everyone who is aware of his own inward condition and does not desire to deceive himself must confess his sins and shortcomings, and inquire how he may obtain pardon of his sins from God the All-knowing, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid. For how can a transgressor whose sins are unpardoned approach God, and through His mercy attain to that felicity which consists in peace with God and true harmony with His Will? The way to obtain forgiveness of sin will therefore be taught in the True Revelation.
3. But, besides obtaining pardon for his past sins, man needs to have his heart cleansed from the love of sin and be made good and pure, so that day by day he may grow more and more like his Creator, who by the lips of Moses in the Torah has said to His people; “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). For until this desire of man's spirit is attained and his inmost parts purified from evil desires, it is impossible that the Holy and Just God should be pleased with him. And since true happiness is closely connected with this inward purity, according to what is said in the Injil, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), it is clear that no one can be privileged to attain to the Beatific Vision without pureness of heart and spirit.
These three requirements of the human spirit are bound up with its attainment of eternal happiness. Therefore until a man has found the truth, and has become justified in God's sight, and has attained to inward purity, it is in the very nature of the case impossible that he should taste of the enjoyment of that spiritual and holy bliss which is found in the presence of God the Holy One.
Be it observed that this desire to find satisfaction for the longings of the spirit and the heart is to be found even among the heathen, for they also acknowledge that they need to know the truth in order to attain true and lasting happiness. The sacrifices which they offer are a decisive proof that they confess themselves sinners, because they offer these to obtain pardon: and the great variety of their ascetic practices and the vows which they offer prove that they too realize their need of purification from the defilement of heart and spirit which they have contracted in this sinful world.
As long as this yearning for happiness, which the Most Merciful God has firmly planted in the human heart, remains unsatisfied, it is clear that man cannot obtain true joy and quietude of heart. For, amid the dashing of the billows of desire, fear, and uncertainty, how can the vessel of the human spirit be at rest? It is granted that no man can quiet the longings of his spirit through sensual pleasures or by means of the exercise of his reason and intellect. Hence it is evident that God has implanted this yearning in man's heart in order that it may be satisfied by the riches of His bounty, and that He has in His Wisdom excited this thirst of the soul in order that a full draught of the river of the water of life may be needed to quench it. Hence it is clear that the true Divine Revelation may be expected to afford the satisfaction of these needs, since the purpose of this Revelation is to satisfy the thirst of the human spirit. If, therefore, any professed Revelation fails to do this, assuredly it is useless: and its inutility is a sufficient proof that it is not from God, who never fails to accomplish His gracious purposes by the means which His Divine Wisdom has chosen.
II. The True Revelation must be in accordance with that Moral Law written in man's heart which we call Conscience. Conscience is that which perceives and approves what is right and condemns what is wrong in choice, intention, and motive. It differs from Reason or Judgement, which is a lower faculty, and which may fall into error and be misled, though Conscience cannot. Reason is a high gift of God, and to be greatly prized: yet it is like the magnetic needle, which properly and normally points to the Pole, but which may be deflected from it if a piece of iron be brought very near it. Conscience, on the other hand, is like the Polestar ( ألْجُدَىّ ـ سِتاؤةُ قُطبي ), which ever points towards the Pole, and guides the mariner unerringly on his course, if he keeps it steadily in sight. Many a ship has struck on the rocks and gone to pieces through following the guidance of a deflected compass-needle ( ألْقُطبنامة ـ قُطب نُما ), but the Polestar is never deflected. The Polestar, however, is often hidden from the mariner by mists and clouds arising from the earth: but the fogs of doubt and the clouds of despair never hide from the pilgrim's eyes the lodestar of Conscience. Reason judges our conduct and actions, but, as has been already said, Conscience judges intention, choice and motives. Those who teach that Conscience may be misled and may lead men astray, really mean that the Judgement may be led into error. They confound fallible Judgement with unerring Conscience; they do not distinguish between the compass and the Polestar. God Most Merciful has placed the Polestar of Conscience in the sky of each man's heart, so that he may always know the right way and may walk therein. But the right course of conduct can be known only when the intention with which it is entered upon is approved by Conscience. A man may be deceived by a false Prophet, such as Mani or Musailamah, and then, with the best of intentions, may do wrong; but that is because his Judgment is at fault. His Conscience tells him that it is his duty to obey God's commandments and to submit to the teaching of His Prophets. But his ill-balanced Judgement may lead him wrongly to fancy that Mani or Musailamah or Al Muqanna' ( ألْمُقَنّعُ ) or Hakim, whom the Druses worship ( ألْحاكِم بأمر الله ), is commissioned by God. In all probability, however, men who follow such false Prophets are led to do so by the hope of worldly gain. If a man wanders from the right way, therefore, the fault does not lie with Conscience. The correctness of the teachings and warnings of Conscience is proved by the fact that among almost all races and tribes of men there exists a fairly general agreement about the Moral Law. Thus all men's consciences condemn lying, deceit, adultery, theft, robbery, murder and such evil deeds, even though in some cases a false religion so warps their judgement that they think that when one of these crimes is committed by the orders of a priest, or of a person who claims to be a prophet, it is no longer a crime. Cases have occurred in which men have imagined that God had shown His favour to some Prophet by permitting him to break the Moral Law with impunity. Their judgement has become so perverted by religious prejudice that they fail to perceive that no man can possibly have a right to do wrong. They do not understand that the Moral Law of Conscience is a reflexion in the mirror of the heart produced by the Holy Nature ( ذات ) of the Most Holy God. As God's Nature is unchangeable, so the Moral Law, which is its reflexion, is far from all possibility of change and alteration. The lapse of ages produces no effect upon it, because Time cannot affect the Eternal One. The fancy that God approves of adultery to-day and forbids it tomorrow, or that He permits a man who is His favourite to break the Moral Law, as a proof of His favour to him, is as contrary to the truth as is the belief of some Idolaters that it is a righteous act to shed innocent human blood upon the altars of their gods, or the doctrine of certain heretics that God Most Holy is pleased when they devote their daughters to that form of fornication which is called “temporary marriage” ( ألْمُتعة ـ صيغة ), or the belief of some of the benighted heathen in India that their gods' favour is won when girls are solemnly set apart to live lives of prostitution in their temples. Conscience condemns all these things, and declares that they are bad, displeasing to God, and worthy of punishment. So also Conscience approves of righteousness, truth, sincerity, mercy, kindness, purity, justice, and all other acts which men everywhere agree to term good and well pleasing to the Most High God and deserving of reward from the treasury of His bounty.
Hence it is evident that the True Revelation must accord with and give authority to the voice of Conscience, since the things which Conscience declares to be evil and unjust and displeasing to God and deserving of punishment must be condemned by that Revelation, if it be true and be from God the Creator of mankind and the Implanter of Conscience in man's breast. Similarly the True Revelation, because it comes from the Just Judge of all the earth, must approve of the things approved of by Conscience. It is not possible that the Word of God ( كلام الله ) should contradict the Conscience which He has given us as our guide. On the contrary, such a Revelation must confirm the decrees of Conscience with all the authority of a Divine Message, lest perchance men should be led to mistake their feeble Judgement for their Conscience, or should be drawn away to sin and destruction by the allurements of this transitory world and the temptations of the flesh and the Devil.
III. Since Conscience, throned in man's spirit, declares that God Most High is Just and Holy, the friend and rewarder of the good but the punisher of evildoers, therefore the True Revelation must undoubtedly reveal Him as possessed of these very attributes. And as Conscience urges men to the acquisition of goodness and purity, so must the True Revelation also draw men towards this noble goal, so that they may become pure and holy in thought, word, and deed, internally and externally, because God Most High is Holy and loves Holiness in His creatures.
IV. Reason declares that God is one, and all the Universe is evidently the work of One Mind. As Sa'di says:
Every 27 leaf of a tree in a prudent man's eyes
Is a volume of knowledge of God the All-Wise.
Or again it has well been said:
Each 28 thing on Earth's a sign to thee
That God exists in Unity.
Each 29 grass-blade from the earth that grows
Proclaims that He no Partner knows.
Reason also informs us that God Most High is Eternal, Almighty, and in Nature ( ذات ) and Attributes pure and free from all change and alteration, that He is Good, and that He is possessed of an eternal and unchanging Purpose in the creation and preservation of the Universe. Therefore the True Revelation must confirm this evidence, for He has already revealed this much regarding Himself to the thoughtful in the pages of the Book of the Universe and in man's own Reason. That is to say, when we gaze intelligently at Creation ( الموجودات ) it becomes clear to us that God is One, Eternal, Almighty, Good, Merciful, Righteous, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Hence any Revelation which is from Him must agree with the Book of Nature, of which God Himself is the Author, in ascribing these Attributes to God Most High.
V. The True Revelation must make clear the way of salvation, and in its teaching upon that subject there must be no contradiction in meaning ( خلاف معنوي ). It is quite possible that this Revelation may have been given in different portions during a long period of time. There may therefore be different degrees of spirituality in its teaching, and outward rites and ceremonies may be changed from time to time with changed circumstances But these are only the فُروُعَات of Religion, the outward husk, and not the kernel. In the fullness of time the husk falls away from the perfected grain, because, if it did not, instead of being a help, as it was at first, it would in time become a hindrance to its growth and development. This rejection of the husk, however, is not a change of the original plan, nor is it in contradiction to it, though it may seem to the thoughtless to be so. It is really a continuance of growth, a step forward in the development and accomplishment of the Creator's all-wise plan. In the same way when a boy first begins to go to school, he must every day study the alphabet, and do his best to copy sentences written out in a fair hand by his master. He must comply with all the rules of the school with regard to the hour of coming and the time of going, and with all the other regulations made for the maintenance of discipline. But these rules are not an end in themselves: they are only means to an end. After a time, when the pupil has obtained a good education, the observance of these rules is no longer necessary for him, nor need he any longer attend the school. Yet the rules of grammar have not been altered, nor can he dispense with the letters of the alphabet when he goes on to College or to the University, though it is no longer necessary for him to copy them many times a day, as he did when he first went to school. It cannot be said that the requirements of learning and education are changeable and contradictory, because change of circumstances has enabled the scholar to advance from the observances which, though once helpful to him, would waste his time and hinder his progress if he were to persevere in them when he had reached a more advanced stage in learning. In this great School of the World, similarly, Reason teaches us that God the All-Wise does not wish His pupils to remain always learning and repeating the very alphabet of Theology, always carefully observing the same ceremonial rites, and never making any progress in the Knowledge of their Creator, who made the world in order that He might be known.
As the books which the elementary school pupils use are superseded by those employed in the higher classes, in the College, in the University, and yet there is no contradiction of meaning or change of purpose, so it is possible that earlier parts of the True Revelation (those relating to forms and ceremonies) may be superseded by more advanced portions, by books of deeper spiritual teaching. Yet, just as the rules of grammar are not changed or abrogated as the student makes progress in learning, so also the Moral Law and the great fundamental principles of true Religion and the truths of Revelation are not altered or annulled as God continues to educate the pupils in His school. Again, a series of Prophets may be sent, one after another, as teachers in God's school, and each successive Prophet may be able to lead men further in the knowledge of the Most High than his predecessor could. The gradual Revelation thus given may in this way vary, in the sense that it advances from degree to degree in sublimity. Yet it is contrary to reason to fancy that, when the pupils have learnt the sciences and arts taught in the highest classes, a new teacher will come, who will insist on their abandoning all this, and learning the alphabet again.
Hence we perceive that there must be no real contradiction or opposition to one another in the doctrines of the True Revelation: and yet there must be gradual progress in the revelation of the Knowledge of God, not retrogression.
VI. No book or Prophet can possibly reveal God Most High fully to men. Prophets and inspired books may teach men very much about God. They may reveal to us His commandments, His Will, His glorious Attributes, but they cannot themselves bring men to a personal knowledge of God Himself. The King's proclamations and the words of his heralds may make known to his subjects his gracious edicts, and show them how merciful and how just he is: but, before these subjects can recognize and truly know him personally, they require to behold him and hear his voice. Even then their knowledge of their Sovereign will not be perfect, but in its own degree it will be real. So it is also with regard to the King of all Kings, the Lord of the Worlds, the Almighty Creator and Preserver of all things. His messengers ( مُرْسَلوُنَ ), who bring us His edicts and declare His Attributes, cannot reveal Him to His creatures in such a way as to enable them to attain to a real, personal acquaintance with Him who is invisible. Besides all that the Prophets can teach him, man needs a visible Manifestation of the Divine, a personal Manifestation ( مَظْهَر ) of God, a link with God, One who is Himself perfectly human and perfectly Divine, whom men can come to know as well as they know their own friends, or even better, and who can gain the love of their hearts, and thus lead them to serve God, not for the sake of reward, not through fear of punishment, but through true and sincere love, which is unselfish, and is therefore the highest of human attributes. The true Revelation will therefore tell men beforehand of this Manifestation, leading them before His appearance to expect Him, telling them by what signs to recognize Him, and after His Advent recording His words and works so clearly that in all after ages men may be able with the eye of faith to see Him reflected therein as in a mirror, and may thus come to know Him, and in Him to know God Most High.
That Revelation which fulfils all these six conditions has alone the right to be called God's True and Final Revelation to His creatures.
It is very possible that the Revelation which satisfies these six conditions may contain certain Divine Mysteries far beyond the compass and grasp of human reason, so that through his feeble and finite intellect man may be unable to fathom their depth. For it is granted that the Creator's knowledge and wisdom are immeasurably greater and deeper than man's, who is earthborn and shortsighted, and his life but of yesterday. It has well been said:
In 30 traversing the plain of the glory of God
The steed of man's thought e’er grows weary and lame:
In the ocean of Union with God the Most High
All thought of our knowledge sinks covered with shame.
How then can man's intellect become acquainted with the Essence of His Nature ( كُنْةُ ذاتِهِ تعالى )? And as man cannot fully understand his own finite nature, and cannot explain how the eye sees and the ear hears, or rather how by means of these material instruments his inner self, which is immaterial, is brought into contact with the visible and material things which surround him, how then can he understand all the mysteries of the Nature of the Infinite God, who is Invisible? Moreover, it is possible that in the Nature of God there may exist Attributes so lofty that among created beings there may be none possessed of any attributes at all similar to them. How then can man by his reason discover that God possesses only such and such Attributes, and that He cannot possess any other good and perfect Attributes? How can anyone dare to set bounds to Him who is Infinite and Incomprehensible? A man who does this really claims Deity for himself. Of those Attributes only which are in themselves base and evil, and contrary to the Moral Law written in our hearts (which law is the reflexion of God's Nature in the mirror of our spirit), can we say with certainty that they do not exist in God. Thus if a book which claims to be a Divine Revelation states that God is possessed of evil attributes, then we declare that such a book cannot be Divinely inspired.
What has now been said will sufficiently explain by what touchstone we must test any supposed Divine Revelation. The necessity of having such a touchstone and using it wisely is clear from the fact that so many nations have gone astray and got lost in the waterless desert of heathenism and idolatry, through accepting as from God false prophets and books which He has not inspired.
If anyone tests the religious books of the heathen in this manner, he clearly perceives that it is impossible that their doctrines should have come from God Most High. For these books do not satisfy the yearnings of the human heart for a knowledge of the truth, for pardon of sin, for purity and eternal happiness. On the contrary, instead of teaching men about the One All-Wise, Almighty and Most Holy Creator, these heathen books contain fables about a large number of false gods, and lead men to worship them, and thus to become involved in Polytheism and Idolatry, and indeed in many other heinous sins, in order to please these evil beings. So, when tested by all the other criteria which we have mentioned, the religious hooks of the heathen are proved not to be inspired. And this very fact serves to prove that the tests which we have mentioned are satisfactory, because they detect the falsehood of these religions. Therefore in employing these criteria to test the claims of Islam and Christianity we are using a touchstone which has already proved reliable.
Our object in this Volume is to conduct such an inquiry, and to endeavour to learn from it whether the Qur'an or the Bible is the Word of God ( كلام الله ), the True Divine Revelation, as far as God can be revealed within the covers of a book written and composed in one or more of the languages of the Sons of Men.
Some men may perhaps think it possible that both the Bible and the Qur'an should be from God, and may suppose that the latter completes the revelation begun in the former, just as the Psalms and the Books of the Prophets and the other Old Testament books carry further the teaching begun in the Torah, and as the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament give men instruction quite consistent with but still higher and more advanced than that contained in the Old Testament. An examination of the leading doctrines of Christianity and Islam will enable us to decide whether this is so or not. If we find that these doctrines agree with one another, and that the Qur'an is as far superior to the Gospel in moral teaching and in spiritual instruction as the Gospel itself is to the Torah, then perhaps this supposition may seem probable. But, on the other hand, if it becomes clear that in some of their chief doctrines the Bible and the Qur'an contradict one another, then it will be evident that only one of them can possibly be the True Revelation. We shall have to test them both by the criteria above mentioned, in order that, through God's merciful guidance, we may find and know of a surety which of the two truly reveals the Way of Salvation.
The man who seeks the Truth and wishes to do God's Will should therefore with earnestness of heart and sincerity of purpose begin his search in the name of the Most Merciful God, entreating his All-Wise Creator to guide him in his inquiry and to clear his sight from all the mists of party-spirit and prejudice, so that he may walk in the light of the Divine Guidance.
Accordingly, with perfect trust in the grace and mercy of the Heavenly Guide, we begin our examination and investigation of the Bible and the Qur'an, that we may find whether or not they agree on the most important matters of faith and duty, and, if they differ, which of them contains God's True Revelation. This is a matter of such vast importance that no one who hopes for eternal happiness can venture to be careless about it, since it is evident that upon the result depends our salvation or our destruction. If God has revealed the Way of Salvation, and if we do not find it and walk therein, how can we escape from going astray and spiritual error ( ضلالة )?
But above all things it is becoming that in our search for the truth we should avoid all strife and bitter controversy, all hatred and vituperation, remembering that these things blind men's spiritual eyes and prevent them from aiding one another in seeking for the precious jewel of Truth. Instead of hating and contending with one another about Religion, we should all endeavour to aid one another in this search and in our weary pilgrimage to the Threshold of the Court of God Most High, since we are all alike sons of Adam, creatures of the One True God, and pupils in the school of this lower world. The poet Sa'di has well said:
Members 31 a.e Adam's sons one of another,
Made from one essence, brother and brother:
Should one member suffer disaster or pain,
Other members no rest for themselves can obtain.
If we help our brothers and fellow-seekers for the light, we may trustfully and hopefully turn in humility to entreat God Most Merciful to show us the light of His Countenance and to help us to lay aside all spiritual pride, since God's blessing can never rest upon the proud.
Learn 23 humbleness, O thou who thirstest for grace:
River's water ne'er drinketh too lofty a place.
Truly has the poet said:
When 33 God would succour us, His own,
He moves us for His aid to moan.
As the sun is visible to our eyes only through his own light, so only through the spiritual radiance of His own Divine Grace can the Invisible God become visible to our spiritual sight. Having therefore through earnest and continuous prayer, offered from the depth of our hearts, obtained God's gracious guidance, and having thus been led to the Knowledge of the Truth, let us accept and acknowledge it wherever we may have found it knowing that all truth is from God, who is Himself the Truth ( ألْحقّ ). For whoso despiseth the Truth rejected God Himself.
This Treatise is divided into three Parts. In the First we shall consider the assertion of the ignorant that the Torah, Zabur, and Injil now current among Christians are both corrupted and abrogated. In the Second we shall briefly state the main doctrines of the Christian faith, and inquire whether the Old Testament and the New satisfy the tests already mentioned. In the Third Part we shall consider whether, as the Muslims hold, the Qur'an is the Word of God ( كلام الله ) and Muhammad the Seal of the Prophets, the Messenger of God. And may God's blessing rest upon this attempt to point out the Way of Salvation and upon all who seek by God's grace to walk therein.
1. كُنْتُ كَنْزاً مَخْفِيّاً فَأحْبَبْتُ أن أَعْرَفَ وَخَلَقْتُ الْخَلْقَ لِكَي أُعْرَفَ
2. جان و نان دادى و عُمرى جاودان
سائر نعمت كِه نآيد در بيان
اين طلب در ما هم از ايجادِ قُست
رستن از بيداد يا ربّ دادِ تُست
3. مَنْ عَرَفَ نَفَسهُ فَقَدْ عَرَفَ رَبْهُ
4. ما عيّال حضرت ايم و شيرخوار Mathnavi) (
5. الخلق عيّال الله فأحبٌ الخلق الى الله مَنْ أَحْسَنَ الى عيّالهِ
6. عِشقِ آن بَكَزُين كِه جُملهُ انبيا ـ يا فتند از عِشقِ او كار و كِيا
7. كَأنَهَاَ سراب ببقعةٍ يحسبُهُ الْظّماُن مأُ يزخرفها الشّيطان للإنسان الى الممات
8. مَنْ طَلَبَ شَيْأَ وَجَدْ وَجَدْ وَمَنْ قَرَعَ بَاباً وَلَجَّ وَلَجَ
9. سايةُ حقّ بر سر بندة بُوَد ـ عاقبت جويندة يابندة بُوَد
10. بِالإعَادَةِ إفَادَة وَببتَكْرَارٍ جُرْ الْجَبَلُ
11. الْبَلاَءَ مُوكْلْ بِالأَنْبيِاءِ ثُمَّ بِالأْولْيِاءِ ثُمْ بِالأمْثَلِ فَالأَمْثَالِ
12. هركِة در اين بزم مقرّبتر است ـ جامةُ بلا بيشترش ميدهند
13. كِة اندر آتَش شاة بنهادة است خوان
14. بِقَدْرِ الْكَدِّ تُكْتَسَبُ المَعَالِي ـ وَ مَنْ طَلَبَ الْعُلىَ سَهِرَ الْليَالِي
يَغوُصُ الْبَحْرَ مَنْ طَلَبَ اللأَلِِئ ـ وَ يَحَظىَ بِالسّيِادَةِ وَالْنَّواَلِ
وَمَنْ طَلَبَ الْعُلىَ مِنْ غَيْرِ كَدِّ ـ أَضَاعَ الْعُمْرَ فِي طَلَبِ الْمُحَالِ
15. ّما الْدُّنيا فناء ـ ليس لِلدُّنياء ثبوت
وانّما الْدُّنيا كبيتٍ ـ نسجتهُ الْعنكبوت
لقد يكفيك فيها ـ ايُّها الْعاقل قوت
ولعمرى عن قريب ـ كُلّ من فيها يموت
16. مراد در منزلِ جانان جه جاى عيش جون هر دم
جرس فرياد ميدارد كه بر بنديد محملها
17. همة جا دوش بدوش اند مكافات وعمل
18. حلاوة دُنياك مسمومة ـ فلا تأكل الشّهد الاّ بسمّ
19. يريد الْفتىا ان لا يموت خليلهُ ـ وليس الى ان لا يموت سبيل
20. مركِ هريك اى بسر همرنكِ اوست ـ بيش دُشمن دُشمن و بر دوست دوست
21. كِه كرد در همةُ عالم كمانِ ظُلم بزِة ـ كِة تيرِ لعنتِ جاويدرا نشائة نة شُد
كِة در زمانةُ بى اعتبار طرحِ ستم ـ خيال بست كِة خود عبرتِ زمانة نة شُد
22. (Mathnavi.) فهم و خاطر تيز كردن نسيت راة ـ جُز شكستة مى رنة كَيرد فضلِ شاة
23. جهان اى برادر نة ماند بِكس ـ دِل اندر جهان آفرين بند و بس
مكُن تكية بر مُلكِ دُنيا و بُشت ـ كِة بِسيار كس جون تو برورد و كشُت.
24. كيفية آلمرء ليس آلمرء يدركها ـ تكيف كيفية الْجبّار فى الْقدم
هو الذّي انشاء الأْشياء مبتدعا ـ فكيف يدركُة مستحدث آلنّسم
25. حق هزاران صنعت و فنّ ساحتست ـ تاكِة مادر بر تو مِهر انداختست
بس حقِّ سابق از مادر بُوَد ـ هركِة اين حقّرا نداند خر بُوَد.
26. هيج كس عُقدةُ از كارِ جهان باز نكرد ـ هركِة آمد كَرهي جند بر اين تار فُزود.
27. بركِ درختانِ سبز در نظرِ هوشيار ـ هر ورقى دفتريست معرفتِ
28. في كُلّ شئ لهُ آيةٌ ـ دليلْ على أنّهُ واحِد
19. هر كَياهى كِة از زمين رويد ـ وحدة لا شريك لهُ كَويد
30. بة هامونِ جلالش خِنكِ فِكرت لنكِ سركردان
به درباى وصالش فِكرِ دانِش بى سر و بايان.
31. بنى آدم اعضاى يك ديكر اند ـ كِة در آفرينش زِيَك جوهر اند
جو عُضوى بدرد آورد روزكَار ـ ديكَر عُضوهارا نماند قرار
32. اُفتادكَى آموز اكَر تِشتةُ فيضى ـ هركَز نخورد آب زمين كِة بُلند است
33. جون خُدا خواهد كِه مان يارى كُند ـ مَيل مارا جانِب زاري كُند