How God communicates with humans
The Quran teaches us that God has not given us strength and vision to see Him physically (6:103) and He does not talk to people directly but He uses three different methods to reach His chosen individuals through which humans receive knowledge from Him (42:51). The first one is the inspiration which is not a word or message but an idea that can enter the heart of the chosen individuals. The second one is the word heard by the person spoken to, like, from behind a veil, and the third one is the revelation sent from God through archangel like Gabriel and is delivered to His chosen individuals, which is the highest form of divine message. However, He has also warned us that if anyone who claims false inspiration from God will suffer a severe retribution which will start at the moment of his death (6:93):
[6:103] No visions can encompass Him, but He encompasses all visions. He is the Compassionate, the Cognizant.
[42:51] And it is not to human that God would speak to him, except inspiration, or from behind a barrier, or sending a messenger (angel) when he reveals by His permission what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High, Most Wise.
[6:93] And who is more wicked than one who invents a lie about God, or said: “It has been inspired to me,” when we did not inspire anything to him; and who said: “I will bring down the same as what God has sent down.” And if you could only see the wicked at the moments of death when the angels have their arms opened: “Bring yourselves out, today you will be given the severest punishment for what you used to say about God without truth, and you were arrogant towards His revelations.”
Prophecies in the Quran
God has made certain prophecies in the Quran what will happen in the future. A messenger will come to confirm the delivery of all the scripture (3:81 and 33:7) as well as to bring people back to His revelations through producing a creature from the earth that will speak to them that they are not certain about His revelation (27:82):
[3:81] And when God took a covenant from the prophets: “Whatever I have given you of the scripture and wisdom, then a messenger will come to you confirming what is with you. You shall believe in him and support him.” He said: “Do you agree and pledge to fulfill this covenant?” They said: “We agree.” He said: “You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you.”
[33:7] And when we took from the prophets their covenant, and from you (Muhammad), and from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary. And we took from them a solemn covenant.
Note: The confirmation of the prophecy in the verse, 3:81 as well as an assurance for us to eliminate any doubt from our hearts that the prophesied messenger is not Muhammad.
[27:82] And when the promised day (the end of the world) is near, we will produce for them a creature from the earth speaking to them that the people are not certain about our revelations.
He also promised that Gog and Magog will descend from every elevation just before the end of the world (21:96-97) when God will send Zul-Qarnain with the authority to protect the believers from the attack of Gog and Magog (18:93-95). But at certain point the protection will be broken and the horn will be blown to happen the Day of Destruction as promised according to God’s will (18:98-99). It is noteworthy that the appearance of Zul-Qarnain would be the final sign when the world will come to an end:
[21:96] Until when Gog and Magog have appeared, and they will descend from every height.
[21:97] And the truthful promise has approached when those who disbelieved stare in horror: “Woe to us! we had been heedless to it. Indeed, we were wicked.”
[18:93] When he reached the valley between two palisades, he found people whose language was barely understandable.
[18:94] They said, ‘O Zul-Qarnain, Gog and Magog are corruptors of the earth. Can we pay you to create a barrier between us and them?”
[18:95] He said, “My Lord has given me great bounties. If you cooperate with me, I will build a dam between you and them.
[18:98] He said, “This is mercy from my Lord. When the prophecy of my Lord comes to pass, He will cause the dam to crumble. The prophecy of my Lord is truth.”
[18:99] At that time, we will let them invade with one another, then the horn will be blown, and we will summon them all together.
Hadith and Sunnah
We may not know a single verse from the Quran but we are very familiar to some of hadiths and sunnahs while there is lot of usages of them among us being hadith as ‘sayings’ and sunnah as ‘practices’ of the prophet. But it is unfortunate that we are not aware of what they actually mean based on the Quran. However, our religion given by God has been corrupted with many man-made innovations and traditions, and one of these innovations is the volumes and volumes of Hadith books written about 200 years after the death of prophet. The religious rules and regulations based on such innovations contain and cover literally almost every aspect of our life despite the warnings given in the Quran (31:6, 6:112-113) as well as disregarding what has been said in the Quran to whom these innovations were attributed to, i.e., the prophet (49:9, 6:50-51 and 7:203):
[31:6] And among the people, there are those who accept idle tales (lahaw al-hadeethi) to mislead from the path of God without knowledge, and to take it for a mockery. These have incurred a humiliating retribution.
[6:112] Thus, we have permitted the enemies of every prophet, the devils from the human and the jinn to inspire in each other the fancy words (zukh’rufa al-qawli), in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and what they fabricate.
[6:113] This is so that the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to it, and accept it, and thus, they commit what they are committing.
[46:9] Say: “I (Muhammad) am not different from the other messengers, and I do not know what will happen to me or to you. I just follow what is revealed to me, and I am but clear warner.”
[6:50] Say, “I (Muhammad) do not say to you that I possess the treasures of God nor do I know the unseen nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I simply follow what is revealed to me.” Say, “Are the blind and the seer the same? Do you not think?”
[6:51] And warn with this (Quran) to those who are aware that they will be gathered to their Lord; they do not have besides Him any protector nor an intercessor so that they may be righteous.
[7:203] And when you (Muhammad) do not have them with a sign, they say: “If you have had it.” Say: “I (Muhammad) only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This is an enlightenment from your Lord, and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.”
Concept of advent of Mahdi
According to hadith, the advent of Mahdi (مهدي ) is the prophesied reformer, which is not universally accepted in Islam. Even, there are basic differences about the timing and nature of his advent and guidance among those who accept his advent. Mahdi or Mehdi is an Arabic word (name) meaning “The guided one” will change the world into a perfect and just Islamic society alongside Jesus before the Day of Resurrection or the Day of Gathering. The Mahdi will assist Jesusin defeating the Dajjal, who represents evil. To some Muslims, these figures, the Mahdi and the Dajjal associated with the end time events are real while to others the end-time scenario is symbolic of the eternal battle in all people as well as in society between good and evil, and of the conviction that good can triumph. The advent of such reformer is a hadith based concept and it is not unusual that there should have more than one versions of it being made up stories. However, there is no mention in the Quran about the advent of Mahdi, even though the Arabic word, al-muh’tadee meaning “The guided one” in the active participle form is found in the Quran (7:178):
[7:178] Whoever God guides, then he is the guided one (fa-huwaal-muh’tadee), and whoever He lets go astray, then those of them are the losers.
Shia and Sunni
Islam split into Shia and Sunni in the aftermath of the death of prophet Muhammad in 632 A.D. based on the politics of the early caliphs while the ethnic reason remained unknown to many Muslims. The war that broke between the two Muslim groups known as battle of Karbala lasted until 680 A.D. and ended up with two distinct sects among the early Muslims. Because of this, Islam is not only divided into two sects but also hadiths were collected differently by Shia (al-kutubal-arbah) and Sunni (kutubal-sittah) hadith collectors who are the first-line corruptors of Islam. However, the number of hadith accepted by Shi’as is far less than the hadith accepted by Sunnis. Even the prayers and rituals differ between Shia and Sunni while both Shia and Sunni have at times been divided into many branches based on the concept of imams and centennial reformers. Thus, Islam is divided into sects and sub-sects despite the warning in the Quran (42:13) and so called prophet’s hadith and sunnah became the main source of Islamic teachings and laws, and in the absence of a clear hadith for any situation they prefer the opinions of their scholars. Thus, the beliefs and practices of Islam get corrupted with the man-made doctrines among Shia and Sunni Muslims including their sub-sects over the period of time while the Quran serves as a secondary source of God’s laws and teachings leaving a message among the typical Muslims to just read or listen to it to receive a reward from God. Thus, the Muslim masses remain ignorant of the message in the Quran becoming the victims of the so called Muslim scholars generation after generation.
Emerging of Baha’i faith
In 1844, a 25-year-old man, Siyyid Mírzá `Alí-Muhammad took the title of the ‘Báb’ meaning “The Gate” claiming to be the prophesied Mahdi. While the Báb claimed a station of revelation referring to no finality for his revelation. In the books written by the Báb he constantly entreats his believers to follow he whom God shall make manifest when he arrives. The movement quickly spread across the Persian Empire and received widespread opposition from the Islamic clergy. The Báb was executed in 1850 by firing squad at the age of 30 and the community was almost entirely exterminated in 1853.
In 1852, two years after the execution of the Báb, Mirza Husayn Ali who took the title of Bahá’u’lláh meaning “the glory of God” met with a couple of radical Babi leaders and learnt of an assassination plan against the Shah, Nasser-al-Din Shah, in retaliation for the Báb’s execution. Bahá’u’lláh condemned the plan, but on August 15, 1852 Babis attempted the assassination of the Shah and failed. The entire Bábí community was blamed, and a slaughter of several thousand Bábís followed. Many of the Bábís who were not killed, including Bahá’u’lláh, were imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál, an underground dungeon of Tehran. However, the prime minister of Persia decided that it was preferable for Bahá’u’lláh to be banished from the state and he was released from prison in 1853.
While in prison, Bahá’u’lláh had a vision of the ‘Most Great Spirit’ in the form of a heavenly maiden who assured him of his divine mission and promised divine assistance. Bahá’u’lláh himself wrote that he had the feeling of something glowing from the crown of his head and of hearing words of protection and victory. This is as significant for the Bahá’í revelation as the visitation of Gabriel which caused in case of other prophets. It stands at the heart of Bahá’u’lláh’s claim to be the Manifestation of God that refers to what are commonly called prophets. In the Baha’i faith, it is believed that the Manifestations of God are the only channel for humanity to know about God because of the contact with the Spirit is what transforms the heart and mind, creating a living relationship between the soul and God. They act as perfect mirrors reflecting the attributes of God into the physical world. Bahá’í teachings hold that the motive force in all human development is due to the coming of the Manifestations of God. The Manifestations of God are directly linked with the Bahá’í concept of progressive revelation.
Bahá’u’lláh and his family arrived in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1853 where he stayed for 10 years. On arrival, he met the followers of the Báb and his influence grew to the extent that it caused dissension, conflict and jealousy amongst the followers of the Báb, even with his own brother Azal, proclaimed himself as the Messenger of God.To escape the conflict, Bahá’u’lláh left Baghdad and spent the next 2 years living as a hermit in Kurdistan. Eventually, he returned to Baghdad in 1856 when he found that the Bábi community had become dispirited and divided. So Bahá’u’lláh spent the next 7 years teaching the basic teachings of the Báb by both word and example.
Bahá’í faith is a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. The scriptural basis for Bahá’í practices comes from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh. He wrote three obligatory prayers: the short, the medium and the long, and Bahá’ís are free to choose to say one of the three each day. The short and the medium prayer have to be said at specific times while the medium and long prayers also include movements and gestures during the prayers, the motions and gestures are symbolic and are used to help concentration during the prayers. In addition, the obligatory prayer is to be preceded by ablution, the cleaning of the hands and face, and one has to face the Qiblah, which is the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.
Emerging of Ahmadiyya faith
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community begins when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad took the oath of allegiance from a number of his companions at a home in Ludhiana, India, on 23 March 1889 while he reportedly started receiving revelations concerning his future. At the end of the 19th century, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian proclaimed himself to be the “Centennial Reformer of Islam” (Mujaddid), metaphorical second coming of Jesus and the Mahdi (the guided one) awaited by the Muslims. His followers claim that his advent was foretold by Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, and also by many other religious scriptures of the world. Ahmadiyya emerged in India as a movement within Islam, also in response to the Christian and Arya Samaj missionary activity that was widespread in the 19th century.
The Ahmadiyya faith claims to represent the latter-day revival of the religion of Islam. The Ahmadiyya community has missionary activities and their overseas missionaries in some modern nations of the world was their first contact with the proclaimants from the Muslim world. The Ahmadiyya movement is considered by some historians as one of the precursors to the Civil Rights Movement in America. According to some experts, Ahmadiyya were “arguably the most influential community in African-American Islam” until the 1950s. Today, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has one of the most active missionary programs in the world. It is particularly large in Africa, UK and Italy. In the post-colonial era, the community is credited for much of the spread of Islam in the continent.
According to Ahmadiyya faith the history of religion is cyclic and is renewed every seven millennia. The present cycle from the time of the Biblical Adam is split into seven epochs or ages, parallel to the seven days of the week, with periods for light and darkness. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad appeared as the promised Messiah at the sixth epoch heralding the seventh and final age of mankind, as a day in the estimation of God is like a thousand years of man’s reckoning. According to Ghulam Ahmad, just as the sixth day of the week is reserved for Jumu’ah (congregational prayers), likewise his age is destined for a global assembling of mankind in which the world is to unite under one universal religion of Islam.
Ahmadi Muslims believe that there cannot be a conflict between the word of God and the work of God, and thus religion and science must work in harmony with each other. With particular reference to this relationship, the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states that in order to understand God’s revelation, it is necessary to study His work, and in order to realize the significance of His work, it is necessary to study His word. According to the Nobel laureate, Abdus Salam, a devout Ahmadi Muslim, 750 verses of the Quran (almost one eighth of the book) exhort believers to study Nature, to reflect, to make the best use of reason in their search for the ultimate and to make the acquiring of knowledge and scientific comprehension part of the community’s life.All Ahmadiyyas disapprove of the armed Jihad in Islam while they believe the Quran is complete as it is. They do believe that God still sends divine messages to some men. Some Ahmadiyyas believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be a prophet while others dispute that.
On the 19th century two Mirzas, one from Shia group in the Persian empire and the other from Sunni group in the Indian sub-continent claimed themselves to receive the revelation from God based on the concept of Mahdi foretold by prophet Muhammad. But the Quran has confirmed that the prophet had no knowledge of the future, and he followed what was revealed to him (46:9 and 6:50-51). It is strange to mention that when they had received communication from God, the claimants were not informed of their claims to be based on made up story while it is a historical fact that when the prophet recited couple verses of the Quran by mistake, the Gabriel came down immediately and corrected him (22:52). However, the present day Muslim scholars may not accept this historical fact considering it to be disrespectful for the prophet failing to realize that the highest priority was ensured to reveal the pure Quran for the mankind mediated by the Gabriel but not through whom it was given.
The followers of Persian Mirza ended up with a separate religion transforming them from Islam to a new religion, Baha’ism through Babism with the scriptural support from the writings of Bahaullah being inspired through channels of manifestation of God like prophets sent in the past. What they believe and practice do not fit to Islam and there is no way for them to claim themselves Muslims anymore. On the other hand, the followers of Indian Mirza have a room to believe that they are Muslims like other sects of Muslims as they claim that they follow the Quran. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed him to be a Mahdi in the symbolic form of Jesus or centennial reformer (Mujaddid) or ummati Nabi (prophet without scripture) but it is unfortunate that we do not see such terms in the Quran. However, their translated Quran has a verse numbering including both numbered and unnumbered verses, which is different from that of the standardized edition of the Quran.
Prophet’s Hadith and Sunnah being made up stories (31:6, 6:112) accompanied misinterpretation of certain crucial verses (2:213) by the closed minded Muslim scholars make a room to corrupt our religious beliefs and practices, even open a door for some people to claim them to be a prophet despite the severe warning in the Quran (6:93). While there are specific prophecies in the Quran to send a messenger but not by name and the appearance of Zul-Qarnain just before the end of the world to protect the believers from the attack of Gog and Magog (19:84, 21:96). When the channel of prophethood ended with the revelation of the Quran (33:40) but the other channels of communication of God with humanity are still open and He can inspire anyone from us at any time for specific purposes as we see in case of His servant whom Moses met at the junction of the two seas (18:65) while his unusual activities indicate that he was not a human being but an angel. However, a claimant with a valid proof from the Quran to guide humanity in the right direction with the message sent with him, then why should we not accept him if we are true believers for our own benefits to avoid our deviation and misguidance to get into the Hereafter with a guarantee from God to see our success therein? If we truly believe in God and follow His words, we would not be possessed by the Satan what he promised with Him (17:62). The Quran is so efficiently built incorporating knowledge, logic and facts together to serve as guidance and reminder for humanity until the end of the world so that we can properly interpret or derive what is needed at the time of our real need to get rid of all innovations, falsehood and misguidance that we see around us.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.