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april 2011 - vol. 106 - issue four

A Study of the Origins and Features of Easter

The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam

The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets(saw)

Jesus(as) - Prophet of God

Demystifying ‘Caliphate’

The Promised Messiah

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and imam mahdi and founder of the review of religions

The Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) prophesied that the Promised Messiah(as) would be raised near a white minaret, east of Damascus. This prophecy was fulfilled with the advent of the Promised Messiah(as) from Qadian, India, a city directly east of Damascus.

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi was born to a noble family in Qadian, India. From an early age he had a keen interest in religion and developed a love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). He was also known for his honesty, friendliness and resolve. Over time his knowledge and understanding of religion and its application to society deepened. Being a Muslim it was his firm belief that all religions were true at their source but with the passage of time had drifted away from their original teachings; he upheld the dignity of religion and demonstrated its relevance to everyone.

Hadhrat Ahmad(as) had established himself as a respected writer and had written over 80 books. His writings have been translated into more than 60 languages and continue to inspire readers to this day. One of his greatest scholarly works was The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, prepared as a paper and read out at the Conference of Great Religions in 1896.

His earnest defence of religion was ultimately blessed when he started to receive direct revelation from Allah – a blessing that he continued for the rest of his life.

He also wrote a fascinating treatise in 1899 entitled Jesus in India, a book that uncovered remarkable evidence of Jesus(as)’s journey to India. In 1902 the Promised Messiah(as) initiated The Review of Religions which has covered a vast array of topics on religion, philosophy and contemporary issues of the day. It is the longest running English magazine in defence of Islam and the values it teaches.

His mission was to revitalise the truth that all religions held within them and to revive the teachings of Islam. It was through this that he would bring mankind together and establish everlasting peace.

From 1889 until the time of his demise in 1908 tens of thousands of people accepted him. This blessing has continued and will continue through his Khalifas (successors).

In 1889, under Divine Guidance, Hadhrat Ahmad(as) founded the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – a community that has since grown in its stature and strength and has remained active in conveying the message of Islam to the ends of the earth.

Currently under the fifth successor, we are seeing that the tide of acceptance is worldwide and that the message of Prophet Ahmad has really reached the ends of the earth.

world faiths

God is Near And assuredly, We have created man and We know what his physical self whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than even his jugular vein. Islam, the Holy Qur’an, Ch.50:V17

God Almighty says: “I am close to the thoughts of My servants, and I am with him whenever he remembers Me...If my servant comes closer to Me by one span, I go towards him a cubit’s length; if he comes to Me a cubit’s length, I go towards him an arm’s length; and if he walks towards Me, I run towards him.” Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw ), Hadith Qudsi

…He is such that He is far, yet also very near, and whilst He is near, He is also very far. Although He is One and absolutely Unique, His manifestations are diverse and multifarious…. Islam Ahmadiyyat, the Promised Messiah(as), Kishti-e-Nuh (Our Teaching), p.1

Ever is He present with you –think not He is far: by the Master’s teaching recognise Him within yourself. Sikhism, Adi Granth, MajhAshtpadi, M.3, p.116

[God] is not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being.”

Christianity, Bible, Acts 17.27-28

The Master said, “Is Goodness indeed so far away? If we really wanted Goodness, we should find that it was at our very side.” Confucianism, Analects 7.29

…He is far beyond what is far, and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of conscious beings. Hinduism, Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.7

contents april 2011


6 Editorial

Demystifying ‘Caliphate’ Harris Zafar, USA

10 The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam — Part 4

Continuing an acclaimed and unique essay based exclusively on the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. This section features the Qur’anic exposition on the natural state of man, which relates to good manners. The article also examines why the flesh of the swine is forbidden and explains the concept of the Islamic veil Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as),

the Promised Messiah and Mahdi


18 The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets(saw) — Part 5

The encounter between the Angel Gabriel and the Holy Prophet(saw) at the cave Hira when he was first informed of his divine mission, and the acceptance of the message of the Unity of God by his followers Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra)

28 From the Archives: Jesus(as) – Prophet of God

Biblical language and terms prove that Jesus(as) is considered by the Bible a Prophet only, and not the literal son of God. Also, explaining the status of Jesus(as) in Islam Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra)

MANAGEMENT BOARD Munir-ud-din Shams (Chairman) Mansoor Shah (Secretary)
 Naseer Ahmad Qamar
 Mubarak Ahmad Zafar
 Mirza Fakhar Ahmad
 Abdul Baqi Arshad



36 A Study of the Origins and Features of Easter

Easter, now a widely celebrated festival, is associated with a broad range of traditions and rituals. An in-depth study of what place these customs have, if any, according to the scriptures and teachings of Jesus(as) Navida Sayed, UK

64 Calendar of Religious Events and Festivals April 2011

Cover : Outside view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Amer Safir,
Bockarie Tommy Kallon,
Fareed Ahmad,
Fauzia Bajwa,
Fazal Ahmad,
Khullat Munir, Mansoor Saqi,
Nakasha Ahmad, Sarah Waseem,
Tanveer Khokhar
 PROOFREADERS Abdul Ghany Jahangeer Khan,
Farhana Dar, Munavara Ghauri DISTRIBUTION Muhammad Hanif DESIGN AND LAYOUT Ahsan Khan SPECIAL CONTRIBUTER Arif Khan PUBLISHER Al Shirkatul Islamiyyah Ltd. Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. All correspondence should be forwarded to the Editor at: The Review of Religions Tahir House 22 Deer Park Road London, SW19 3TL United Kingdom Telephone: + 44 20 8544 7614 Fax: + 44 20 3044 3030


Demystifying ‘Caliphate’ Harris Zafar, USA

The term “Islamic caliphate” stirs a fear of Islamic global political control. Some, like Sean Hannity, claim that giving control to Al - Qaeda would lead to an Islamic caliphate. Although “caliphate” is the English rendition of the Arabic term “Khilafat”, the two words have different connotations in the present age. Whereas “caliphate” has begun to imply a political leader chosen by Muslim followers (how that choice will be made from so many sects is left unaddressed) “Khilafat” refers to the institution of spiritual successorship. The Khalifa is a successor to a prophet of God, whose goal is to continue and consolidate the tasks of reformation and moral training that the prophet instituted. Therefore, Khilafat can exist and flourish without a state. 6 The Review of Religions | april 2011

The Islamic understanding of Khilafat is based on the Qur’an, the teachings of Muhammad(saw), the Prophet of Islam, and the examples of the first four rightly guided khalifas after the Prophet(saw)’s demise. The Prophet Muhammad(saw) prophesied that after his demise: “Prophethood shall remain among you as long as Allah Wills. He will bring about its end and follow it with Khilafat on the precepts of prophethood. Then whenever He Wills, He shall end this blessing and a tyrannical monarchy will follow and people will face hardship and oppression. There will follow an even more oppressive era. Allah’s mercy will end this oppression, there will then emerge Khilafat on the precepts of Prophethood.”1

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Khilafat Centenary monument in Qadian, India

The first four Khalifas were termed “rightly-guided” to distinguish them from the caliph-kings who followed. The reign (632-661) of the rightlyguided Khalifas is often remembered as a golden age of Islam. After the assassination of the last of the rightly-guided Khalifas, debate over successorship resulted in a major split in Islam into Sunni and Shia branches. Spirituality was lost and replaced by a political institution, or caliphate. Muawiyyah declared himself leader of the Muslims, laying the foundations of a long line of dynastic monarchies – in accordance with Muhammad(saw)’s prophecy. This reign of caliphs continued for centuries, until Ottoman Sultan, Selim I, captured the last caliph of Cairo in 1517. The Ottoman sultans

then claimed the title of caliph and brandished it for four centuries until Kamal Ataturk abolished it in 1924. Osama bin Laden and a number of fundamentalist political parties have called for the restoration of caliphate to unite Muslim nations – either through peaceful political uprising or through force. In addition to Hizbul Tahrir, two radical pan-Islamic groups, Jama’at-eIslami, and the Muslim Brotherhood, seek to restore the caliphate even if it be as a militant Islamic institution. Any attempts to impose caliphate are doomed to fail because it diverges from the true Islamic system of Khilafat, and because of the disunity among Muslims to elect a leader. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community, however, stands out. As Muslims who believe in the Promised Messiah april 2011


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– Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, India – the community was founded in 1889 and spans over 196 countries with adherents exceeding tens of millions. Since the demise of Hadhrat Ahmad(as) in 1908, five more Khalifas have been elected, who have focused on serving the faith and reforming the faithful, as opposed to establishing a Muslim state. The West fears it might have to one day deal with a “caliphate”. But the West is already dealing with “Khilafat” in its pure form with the Ahmadiyya Khilafat, which has existed for 122 years without any notion of a new world order or a Muslim ruler: “For this Khilafat, neither is a violent uprising required, not are bullets needed to be fired. The reward of Khilafat can only 8 The Review of Religions | april 2011

be established with God’s Grace, and has been established through His blessings; not through the efforts and schemes of people.” (Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V)2 The Ahmadiyya Khilafat has always categorically rejected religious militancy in every form. When faced with bitter persecution, it practices patience and perseverance. It champions the cause of the dispossessed and oppressed. It has conquered no land and possesses no earthly dominion, but it wields its influence over the hearts and minds of millions as a force for good in the world.

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Fazl Mosque, London

So there is no need to fear the true Islamic concept of Khilafat, which does not seek any political control or the establishment of a politico-religious state. It is time for Muslims and nonMuslim­s to understand what Islamic “Khilafat” truly is – a system of spiritual leadership aimed at the spiritual and personal reformatio­n of the Muslims and mankind. Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) states: “The majority formed out of winning people’s hearts and that brings a message of love rather than compulsion, which does not act unjustly, rather spreads love; which always cooperates in matters of goodness – and as the Rightly Guided Khilafat exists to provide people their rights and establish justice – (hence) a

government under such a Khilafat will safeguard the rights owed to people, rather than usurp them.”3 Today there is only one community that spans so many national boundaries and whose members owe absolute allegiance to its God-appointed leader – and that is the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, led by a Khalifa. endnotes

1 Musnad Ahmad 2 Friday Sermon, 25th Feb. 2011 3 Friday Sermon, 25th Feb. 2011

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The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam part 4

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi translated from urdu by sir muhammad zafrulla khan

It is not lawful for you to marry women Natural States of Man We shall now proceed to set forth the whom your fathers had married, except first of the three reforms inculcated by that which happened in the past. the Holy Qur’an and which are related [Ch.4:V.23] to the natural state of man. This reform relates to what are known as good man- Lawful for you are chaste believing ners, that is to say, the code that regulates women and chaste women from among the natural conditions of barbarians; those who were given the Book before like eating, drinking, marriage, etc., and you, when you give them their dowers, elevates them to an acceptable standard contracting valid marriages, not comof social values, and rescues them from mitting fornication, nor taking secret an animal existence. In this context the paramours. [Ch.5:V.6] Holy Qur’an ordains: In the time of ignorance some of the That is, forbidden to you are your moth- Arabs who were childless permitted ers, and your daughters, and your sisters, their wives to consort with someone else and your fathers’ sisters, and your moth- for the purpose of having a child. The ers’ sisters, and the daughters of your Holy Qur’an forbade this practice. The brothers, and the daughters of your sis- expression taking secret paramours has ters, and your foster-mothers and your reference to this practice. Then it is said: foster-sisters, and the mothers of your wives and your step-daughters by your Destroy not yourselves [Ch.4:V.30]; and wives with whom you have consorted, but slay not your progeny. [Ch.6:V.152] if you have consorted not with them, it shall be no sin upon you, and the wives Do not enter houses, other than your of your sons, from your loins. You are also own, freely like barbarians, until you forbidden to join two sisters together in have obtained leave, and when you marriage; but what has passed has passed. have obtained leave and enter, greet the [Ch.4:V.24] inmates with the salutation of peace. [Ch.24:V.28] If you find no one therein, It is not lawful for you to inherit from then enter not until leave is given to you. women against their will. [Ch.4:V.20] If you are told by the inmates to go back then go back. [Ch.24:V.29] april 2011


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This is the first reform of the Holy Qur’an whereby man is raised from his natural state and barbaric ways to the status of a civilised social being.

is lawful for them, tell them: All good things are lawful for you. Refrain from that which is carrion or resembles carrion or is unclean. [Ch.5:V.5]

When you are asked to make room for others in your assemblies then hasten to make room so that others might be seated; and when you are asked to rise up, then rise up without delay. [Ch.58:V.12] Do not enter houses by scaling over their Eat of all that is lawful and wholesome walls; enter them through the doors. like meat, vegetables and pulses etc. but [Ch.2:V.190] do not be immoderate in any respect. [Ch.7:V.32] Do not talk at random and When you are greeted with a salu- talk to the point. [Ch.33:V.71] tation greet with a better salutation. [Ch.4:V.87] Keep your raiment clean and your bodies and your streets and the places where you Liquor, gambling, idols and divining sit. Take frequent baths and cultivate the arrows are but abominations and Satanic habit of keeping your homes neat and devices. So turn wholly away from each tidy. [Ch.74:Vs.5-6] one of them. [Ch.5:V.91] Moderate your voice and speak not with Forbidden to you is the flesh of a dead a loud voice nor whisper and, except animal, and blood, and the flesh of swine; when needed otherwise, walk at a modand that on which the name of someone erate pace, neither too fast nor too slow. other than Allah is invoked and the flesh [Ch.31:V.20] of an animal that has been strangled or is beaten to death or is killed by a fall, or When you go on a journey, make all prepis gored to death, and of which a wild aration and take necessary provisions so animal has eaten and that which has been as to avoid having to beg. [Ch.2:V.198] slaughtered at an altar, for they are all When you consort with your spouses, carrion. [Ch.5:V.4] If they ask thee what purify yourselves by bathing. [Ch. 5:V.7] 12 The Review of Religions | april 2011

When you eat give out of your food to him who asks and also to dogs and other animals and birds.

Greek physicians had opined that the flesh of this animal particularly damaged the faculty of modesty and fostered shamelessness.

There is no harm in your marrying orphan girls who are under your care, but if you apprehend that you may not be fair in dealing with them because they are orphans, then marry women who have parents and relations to be watch- teaching was needed because the people ful of them, who would respect you and for whose reform the Holy Prophet(saw), concerning whom you would be careful. was sent, were in an extreme state of You may marry two or three or four of barbarity and it was necessary that they them provided you can deal equitably should be taught the elementary rules of with all of them. But if you feel that you social behaviour. may not deal justly between them then marry only one, even if you should feel Why is the Flesh of Swine Prohibited? the need of more than one. The limit One matter to be kept in mind in this of four is imposed lest you should be context is that in the very name of this inclined towards marrying a larger num- animal, God has indicated the reason for ber amounting to hundreds according to the prohibition of its flesh. The Arabic your old custom and so that you should word for swine is Khinzir, which is a not incline towards illicit indulgence. compound of Khanz and Ara, mean[Ch.4:V.4] Hand over to your wives their ing: I see it very foul. Thus, the very dowers freely. [Ch.4:V.5] name that God Almighty initially gave to this animal, points to its uncleanThis is the first reform of the Holy Qur’an ness. It is a curious coincidence that in whereby man is raised from his natural Hindi this animal is called Su’ar, which state and barbaric ways to the status of is a compound of Su’ and Ara. This also a civilised social being. In these teach- means: I see it very foul. It should not ings there is no mention of the higher be a matter of surprise that the Arabic moral qualities. They are concerned only word Su’ should have found its way into with elementary human behaviour. This Hindi. We have established in our book april 2011


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and there can be no doubt that the flesh of such a foul animal would also be foul. Even in pre-Islamic times, Greek physicians had opined that the flesh of this animal particularly damaged the faculty of modesty and fostered shamelessness. The eating of carrion is also prohibited in Islamic law for the same reason; that is to say, it affects the moral qualities Minanur-Rahman, that Arabic is the adversely, and is also harmful to physimother of all languages and that many cal health. The blood of an animal that is Arabic words are to be found in all lan- strangled or is beaten to death, remains guages. Thus Su’ is an Arabic word, and inside the body of the dead animal, and its equivalent in Hindi is bad. This animal hence they are all carrion. It is obvious is also called bad/foul in Hindi. There is that the blood of such an animal is soon no doubt that at the time when Arabic corrupted and corrupts the whole flesh. was the universal language, this animal It is verified by recent research that the was known in this country [India] by an germs in such blood spread a poisonous Arabic name which was synonymous corruption in the flesh of the dead animal. with Khinzir, and so it has continued to this day. It is possible that in Sanskrit this Moral Condition of Man word might have undergone some trans- The second part of Qur’anic reform is formation, but the true word is Khinzir, that it regulates the natural conditions in which proclaims its own meaning. It is such a manner, as to convert them into not necessary to enter into a detailed high moral qualities. This is a vast subject. exposition of the foulness of this animal. If we were to set it forth in detail, this Everyone knows that it eats filth and is paper would become so lengthy that not utterly shameless. Thus, the reason for one tenth of it could be read out in the the prohibition of its flesh is obvious, as allotted time! We must, therefore, conby the laws of nature its flesh would have fine ourselves to the exposition of a few a foul effect on the body and the soul moral qualities by way of illustration. of one who eats it. As we have already demonstrated, food affects a person’s soul, Moral qualities fall under two heads/

Discarding evil comprehends those qualities through which a person tries that he should do no harm

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categories. First, those moral qualities that enable a person to discard evil; and, secondly, those moral qualities that enable him to do good. Discarding evil comprehends those qualities through which a person tries that he should do no harm to the property, honour or life of a fellow being, by his tongue, hands, eyes or by any other organ, nor should he design to do such harm. The doing of good comprehends all those moral qualities whereby a person tries to benefit a fellow being in respect of his property or honour, by his tongue or his hand or his knowledge, or by any other means, or determines to make manifest his glory or honour, or overlooks a wrong that had been done to himself, and thus benefits the perpetrator of the wrong by sparing him physical pain or financial imposition, or inflicts such chastisement upon him in respect of the wrong, which is in reality a mercy for the wrongdoer. Moral Qualities Related to the Discarding of Evil The moral qualities that the true Creator has appointed for the discarding of evil are known by four names in Arabic, which has a specific name for all human concepts, behaviours and morals. The first of these moral qualities is called Ihsan, that is to say, chastity. This expression

The moral qualities that the true Creator has appointed for the discarding of evil are known by four names in Arabic connotes the virtue that is related to the faculty of procreation of men and women. Those men and women would be called chaste who refrain altogether from illicit sex and all approaches to it, the consequence of which is disgrace and humiliation for both parties in this world, and chastisement in the hereafter, and dishonour and grave harm for those related to them. For instance, if a person is guilty of an approach towards the wife of another which, though it does not proceed as far as adultery, yet amounts to its preliminaries, it would become incumbent upon the self-respecting husband of the woman to divorce her, on account of her willingness to tolerate such an approach. Her children would also be sadly afflicted. The husband would have to endure all this injury on account of the misconduct of a villain. It should be remembered that the moral quality of chastity would come into play april 2011


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Natural conditions cannot be described as moral qualities. They become moral qualities when they are exercised or become capable of being exercised on their proper occasions

lives. In all such cases their chastity is only a natural condition. As this vice and its preliminaries can be practised by both men and women, the Holy Book of God sets forth directions for both men and women in this context. It says:

That is, direct the believing men to restrain their eyes from looking at women outside the prohibited degrees so openly as to be sexually excited by them, and to cultivate the habit of guarding their when a person who possesses the capac- looks. And they should safeguard their ity for the compassing of this particular private parts at all cost. Likewise, they vice, restrains himself from indulging should restrain their ears outside the proin it. If he does not possess that capac- hibited degrees, that is they should not ity, because he is a minor or is impotent listen to the singing or beguiling voices or is a eunuch or has arrived at extreme of women outside the prohibited degrees, old age, we cannot give him credit for nor should they listen to descriptions of the moral quality of chastity. He has a their beauty. This is a good way of prenatural condition of chastity but, as we serving the purity of their looks and have repeatedly pointed out, natural hearts. In the same way, direct believing conditions cannot be described as moral women that they should restrain their qualities. They become moral qualities eyes from looking at men outside the when they are exercised or become capa- prohibited degrees and should safeguard ble of being exercised on their proper their ears against listening to the voices occasions, under the control of reason. of such men. That is they should not listen to the voices which sexually excite Therefore, minors and the impotent and them. They should cover up their beauty those who deprive themselves in some and should not disclose it to anyone outway of sexual capacity, cannot be given side the prohibited degrees. They should credit for this moral quality, though draw their head-coverings across their apparently they may be leading chaste bosoms and should thus cover up their 16 The Review of Religions | april 2011

The way of adultery is an evil way, as it obstructs one’s progress towards the goal, and is extremely harmful to the achievement of the purpose of life.

other means; for instance, through fasting or dieting or exercise. [Ch.17:V.33]

People sometimes adopt celibacy or submit to castration and take up monasticism. God has not prescribed monasticism and that is why those who adopt it, prove unable to conform to its discipline. This is an indication that if celibacy and monasticism had been imposed by the Divine, everyone would have had to heads and ears and temples. They should adopt this discipline, in which case the not strike their feet on the ground like human race would have come to an end dancers. These are directions following long ago. Also, if chastity had to be prewhich one can safeguard against moral served through castration or any other decline. such device, it would amount to criticism of the Divine, Who has bestowed The second method is to turn to God this capacity upon man. Besides, merit Almighty and to supplicate Him to be depends upon restraining the exercise safeguarded against stumbling and slip- of a capacity on an improper occasion, ping. Another direction is: Approach through fear of God, and thus acquiring not adultery. This means that one should double benefit through its proper exeravoid all occasions that might incite one’s cise. By destroying the capacity a person mind in that direction, and should eschew would deprive himself of both benefits. all the paths that might lead to this vice. Merit depends upon the possession of He who indulges in this vice carries his the capacity and its proper regulation. viciousness to the extreme. The way of What merit would a person acquire who adultery is an evil way, as it obstructs has lost that capacity and has become one’s progress towards the goal, and is like a child? Does a child deserve merit extremely harmful to the achievement because of his chastity? [Ch.24:V.34], of the purpose of life. Those who find no [Ch.24:Vs.31-32] means of marriage should keep themselves chaste through the adoption of Continues in the next edition... april 2011


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The Life and Character of the Seal of the Prophets(saw) part 5

Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra)

18 The Review of Religions | april 2011

Continued serialisation of the English rendering of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra)’s outstanding biography, ‘Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin’, on the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). This section features the extraordinary encounter between the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Angel Gabriel in the Cave Hira, and the Christian saint who would help prove the truthfulness of the Prophet(saw). translated from the urdu by ayyaz mahmood khan

Chapter IV Commencement of Prophethood The Sun Rises The light of dawn was about to manifest itself upon the eastern horizon and the sun that was to illuminate the whole world was about to rise. The Holy Prophet(saw) would regularly retreat to the Cave of Hira, and would engage himself in the worship of God in a manner of his own. The commencement of true dreams had begun and the Holy Prophet(saw) spent six months in this very state.1

God, addressed the Holy Prophet(saw) and said,“read”, in other words, ‘speak’ or ‘convey to the people’.2 The Holy Prophet(saw) responded, “I cannot read”, meaning, ‘I cannot bear this responsibility’.3 When the angel heard this reply he took hold of the Holy Prophet(saw) and tightly pressed

His heart was pounding, for only God knew what this matter was and what was about to take place.

him against his breast and after releasing him said, “read” but the response of the Holy Prophet(saw) remained the same. The Holy Prophet (saw) had reached The angel took hold of him again and the age of forty; his disposition had firmly squeezed him and after releasing attained maturity for prophethood and him said, “read” but the same hesitation apostleship. Among the last ten days remained. Upon this, the divine messenof the blessed month of Ramadan; it ger took hold of the Holy Prophet(saw) a was Monday. As per custom, the Holy third time and gripped him very tightly Prophet (saw) was in the Cave of Hira, so much so that by embracing the Holy and was engaged in the worship of God, Prophet(saw) in such a manner he would when suddenly an unfamiliar being leave a lasting impression upon his heart. appeared before him. This divine mes- Having confirmed that the disposition of senger who was Gabriel(as), the angel of the Holy Prophet(saw) was now ready to april 2011


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accept this message, he released the Holy Prophet(saw) and said: “Read (i.e pronounce or convey) thou in the name4 of thy Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Aye! Read! And thy Lord is Most Generous; Who taught man by the pen, taught man what he knew not5.”6

“This is the same angel who brought revelation to Moses(as).” kin with love. You are truthful, and assist others in discharging their responsibilities, and have gathered within yourself lost virtues. You are hospitable, and a helper to others in the way of truth.”7

After this dialogue, the angel disappeared, but the Holy Prophet(saw) was left in a state of deep anxiety and restlessness. His heart was pounding, for only God knew what this matter was and what Hadhrat Khadijah (ra) took the Holy was about to take place. In this state, Prophet(saw) to her cousin Waraqah bin the Holy Prophet(saw) hurriedly left the Nawfal, who had abandoned polytheism Cave of Hira, returned home, and said and become a follower of the Christian to Khadijah(ra), “Cover me with a cloth! religion. He was somewhat acquainted Cover me with a cloth!” When Hadhrat with the scriptures of past prophets. He Khadijah(ra) witnessed the state of her was now old and had lost his eyesight beloved husband, she became worried as well. When Hadhrat Khadijah (ra) and quickly covered the Holy Prophet(saw) reached there with the Holy Prophet(saw), with a blanket. When he was somewhat she said, “Brother! Would you please liscalmed and his anxiety had lessened, the ten to your nephew?” He said, “ Yes, what Holy Prophet(saw) related the entire event is the matter?” The Holy Prophet (saw) to Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) and in the end related the entire occurrence. When said, “I fear for myself ”, but Khadijah(ra), Waraqah heard the whole account, he who was well acquainted with the nature said, “This is the same angel who brought of the Holy Prophet(saw), said: revelation to Moses(as). O would that I had strength. Would that I remain alive until “Nay, nay, such can never happen, rather your people banish you from your homeglad tidings be to you. By God, Allah shall land.” The Holy Prophet(saw) inquired in never disgrace you. You treat your kith and amazement, “Shall my people banish me?” 20 The Review of Religions | april 2011

“ Yes,” responded Waraqah, “no prophet came with whom his people did not harbour enmity but if I remain alive until that time, I shall assist you to the utmost of my ability.” However, Waraqah could not witness that time, as he passed away shortly afterwards.8 Fatrat-e-Wahy9 After this, the decent of revelation came to a temporary halt10 and remained as such for some time, (the approximation of which according to a narration related by Ibni ‘Abbas has been mentioned as 40 days).11 This period in time is known as

Jabal Al-Nur, “The Mountain of Light”, also known as “Mount Faran”, hosts the Hira Cave

the ‘time of Fatrah’. It was as if the illumination of the sun of apostleship was seen and then disappeared. A droplet of water had fallen upon the parched lips of the Holy Prophet(saw) and then the clouds dispersed. The Holy Prophet(saw) spent these days in a state of grave anxiety and restlessness. Day and night, whilst sitting and standing, the same thought preoccupied him – “God alone knows what this affair is and what is to happen hereafter. What significance does the appearance april 2011


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the life & character

of the seal of the prophets

the Holy Prophet(saw) looked up and saw the very same angel he had encountered in the Cave of Hira. of this unfamiliar and invisible messenger hold? Is this message and salutation truly from God, or is it a hidden reflection of my own soul?” These questions greatly perplexed the Holy Prophet(saw). It is mentioned in the Hadith that during these days the Prophet(saw) experienced such anxiety, that many times he would climb to the top of a mountain and contemplate dropping himself, thus putting an end to his life. Upon every such instance, an angel of God would say, “Look here Muhammad, withhold yourself, verily you are the Messenger of Allah.” Upon hearing this voice, the Holy Prophet(saw) would restrain himself, but whenever such a state of unease and restlessness would overtake him, he would again consider ending his life.12 The abovementioned Hadith should not be taken literally. The actual purport may have been that the Holy Prophet(saw) was under the apprehension that the viewing of that invisible angel might 22 The Review of Religions | april 2011

be a reflection of his own thoughts, or might be a trial from God. Thus, the Holy Prophet(saw) intended to humble his own soul and by overcoming and overpowering it, was as if for the sake of Allah, to slay it completely. In this case, to throw oneself from a mountain would be comprehended as a metaphor. Whatever the meaning may be, for the Holy Prophet(saw), these days were days of trepidation. One day, in this very state of anguish, the Holy Prophet(saw) was returning home from the Cave of Hira when suddenly he heard a voice, as if someone was addressing him. The Holy Prophet(saw) looked forward and behind, right and left; he looked in every direction but could not see anything. Ultimately, the Holy Prophet(saw) looked up and saw the very same angel he had encountered in the Cave of Hira. He saw him sitting upon a magnificent chair which extended between the heaven and the earth. When the Holy Prophet(saw) witnessed this vision, he was frightened and quickly returned home dismayed. He once again said to Hadhrat Khadijah(ra), “Place a mantle over me!” Khadijah (ra) hurriedly covered him with a mantle and the Holy Prophet(saw) lay down. As soon as the Prophet(saw) lay down, he heard a majestic voice:

“O thou that hast wrapped thyself with thy mantle! Arise and wake others at the name of God. And thy Lord do thou magnify. And thy heart do thou purify. And abstain from all forms of polytheism.” After this, the constant descent of revelation began.13

In the beginning, the Holy Prophet(saw) did not preach his mission openly; rather, he began this process very cautiously

Commencement of Preaching Now that the disposition of the Holy Prophet(saw) had settled and calmed, he began to invite people to the unity of God, the Most High, and propagated teachings against polytheism. In the beginning, the Holy Prophet(saw) did not preach his mission openly; rather, he began this process very cautiously and kept his teachings confined to his close circle of friends.14

to God, and this is the true essence of the teachings brought by the Holy Prophet(saw). The first and foremost principle of the religion is the unity of God, the Exalted. In other words, the Creator and Lord of this world is the One God, Who in His being and attributes is alone and unassociated. He has existed from time immemorial and shall remain forever. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all that is in the earth and in the heaven. The Message of Islam For this reason, none save Him is worAlthough the true place for the elabora- thy of worship and all deities fashioned tion of the doctrinal frame-work brought by people, aside God, are fictitious and by the Holy Prophet(saw) shall come later, vain. This is the first and most fundamenat this point it seems necessary to include tal principle which the Holy Prophet(saw) a brief outline of Islam. This is so that our presented before the people of Makkah. readers may become aware of the mission of the Holy Prophet(saw) and Islam’s The second principle presented by the principle injunctions. Thus, it should be Holy Prophet(saw) was that Allah the clarified that the name of the religion Exalted created this world for a particular presented by the Holy Prophet(saw) is purpose and that people should recognise ‘Islam’, which means complete submission Him and then adorn themselves with april 2011


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the life & character

of the seal of the prophets

When the Holy Prophet(saw) began the propagation of his mission, the first to believe was Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) His attributes, thus creating a life of eternal advancement. For this purpose, He has divided human life into two parts. One is the life of this world which is the Darul-‘Amal15, and the other is the life of the hereafter which is the Darul-Jaza’,16 and death is the separating boundary between these two lives. The third principle which the Holy Prophet(saw) presented was that Allah the Exalted raises messengers and prophets for the guidance of this world, who acquire divine knowledge from God and thus administer the guidance of man. Such prophets have appeared in every nation, country, and era, and among them, the Holy Prophet(saw) is but one messenger of God. These are the three fundamental laws which were the basis of the initial mission of the Holy Prophet(saw). However, as time passed, various other principles followed by their derivative institutions of law, and further elaboration continued, until the teachings brought by the 24 The Review of Religions | april 2011

Holy Prophet(saw) attained perfection in the form of the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Prophet(saw) was the chief of the peoples of ancient and modern times – the seal of the prophets, and was the one to bring the last and perfect law. The First Muslim When the Holy Prophet(saw) began the propagation of his mission, the first to believe was Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) who did not hesitate, even for a moment. There is contention among historians in reference to who the first convert among the men was after Hadhrat Khadijah(ra). Some name Hadhrat Abu Bakr ‘Abdullah bin Abi Quhafah(ra), while others say Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra), whose age at that time was only ten years. Others assert that the freed slave of the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Zaid bin Harithah(ra), was the first one to embrace Islam. However, to us, this argument is useless. Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra) and Hadhrat Zaid bin Harithah(ra) were among the household members of the Holy Prophet(saw) and lived with him as his own children. They were to follow whatever was said by the Holy Prophet(saw), as a matter of routine, no verbal declaration was necessary. Thus, their names need not be included. Among the rest, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) is unanimously accepted as the first and foremost in his acceptance of Islam.

Therefore, with regards to Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), Hassan bin Thabit Al-Ansari(ra) the court poet of the Holy Prophet(saw), says:

the Holy Prophet(saw) held Abu Bakr(ra) most dear to himself. After the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw) he became his first Caliph. During the time of his Caliphate, he furnished evidence of his unparalleled ability. With regards to Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), a renowned European orientalist, Sprenger, writes:

“Whenever a compassionate reminiscence of any of your noble brethren rises in your heart, remember your brother Abu Bakr(ra) as well, on account of his virtues are worthy of remembrance. After the Holy Prophet(saw), he “The faith of Abu Bakr is, in my opinion, was the most righteous and most just of all the greatest guarantee of the sincerity men, and the greatest of those who fulfilled of Mohammad in the beginning of his their responsibilities. Indeed, it was Abu career...”18 Bakr(ra) who was the second individual with the Holy Prophet(saw in the Cave of Thawr, Sir William Muir is also in complete who had effaced himself in the obedience of agreement with his view.19 the Prophet(saw). Whatever task he would undertake, he would make it beautiful, and Continues in the next edition he was the first of all people to believe in the Messenger.”17 references Due to his nobility and abilities, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) was greatly honoured and respected by the Quraish, and in Islam he acquired a status which no other companion attained. Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) did not doubt the claim of the Holy Prophet(saw) for even a moment, rather, he accepted him instantaneously. Then he devoted his entire interest, his entire life and wealth, in the service of the religion brought by the Holy Prophet (saw). Among his companions,

1. Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alalMawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol.1, p.386, Babu Mab‘athin-Nabisa, Darul-Kutubil‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996) 2. The word “Qara” also means to convey a message, as is said: in other words, ‘Convey my greetings to him’. Refer to AqrabulMawarid, Vol.4, p.296, under the word “Qara’a” (Author) 3. This response was similar to that given by april 2011


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Hadhrat Moses(as) namely: ‘I am not capable of prophethood; this task should be assigned to someone else’, but who is more aware of the one who is capable of prophethood than Allah Himself ? (Author) 4. In this case, according to syntax structure, the word “ism” is the object of “iqra”. In light of the rules of Arabic grammatical syntax, in some instances the letter is added additionally to the object of. Refer to Aqrabul-Mawarid, Vol.4, p.296, under the word (Author) 5. In other words the time has now come when, through the pen, innovative sciences should be taught to mankind. (Author) 6. * Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il-Wahy, Babu Minhu, Hadith No. 3 * Al-‘Alaq (96:2-6) 7. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il-Wahy, Babu Minhu, Hadith No. 3 8. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il- Wahi, Babu Minhu, Hadith No. 3 9. An interval in revelation 10. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il-Wahy, Babu Minhu,Hadith No. 3 11. Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alalMawahibil-Ladunniyyah, By Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol.1, p.441, Babu Maratibil- Wahy, Darul-Kutubil‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996) 12. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il-Wahy, Babu Minhu, Hadith No. 4 26 The Review of Religions | april 2011

13. * Al-Muddaththir (74:2-6) * Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabut-Tafsir SuratulMuddaththir, Babun Wa Rabbaka Fakabbir, Hadith No. 4924 * Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il-Wahy, Babu Minhu, Hadith No. 4 14. * Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alalMawahibil-Ladunniyyah, By Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol.1, p.461, Bābul-Ijhari bi Da‘watihi, Darul-Kutubil‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996) * Tarikhut-Tabari, By Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Vol.2, p.221, Babu Dhikril-Khabari ‘amma kana min Amrin-Nabisa ‘inda Ibtida’illahi Ta‘ala, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002) 15. The World of Deeds 16. The World of Recompense 17. Tarikhut-Tabari, By Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Vol.2, p.226, Babu Dhikril-Khabari ‘amma kana min Amrin-Nabisa ‘inda Ibtida’illahi Ta‘ala, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002) 18. The Life of Mohammad, Aloys Sprenger, p.171 (1851 Edition) 19. Life of ‘Mahomet’, By Sir William Muir, p.58 (footnote 1), Reprint of the 1894 Ed., Published by Voice of India New Delhi

Note about references


Verse references to the Holy Qur’an count ‘Bismillah…’ (In the Name

of Allah…) as the first verse of each

Chapter. In some non-standard texts,

this is not counted. Should the reader

refer to such texts, the verse quoted in

The Review of Religions will be found

a verse earlier, i.e. at one verse less than

the number quoted in this journal.

For the ease of non-Muslim readers,

‘(saw)’ or ‘saw’ after the words, ‘Holy

Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used normally in small letters.

They stand for ‘Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa

sallam’ meaning ‘peace and blessings

of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the

letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of

all other prophets is an abbreviation

meaning ‘peace be upon him’ derived

from ‘Alaihis salatu wassalam’ which

are words that a Muslim utters out of

respect whenever he or she comes across

that name. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra)

stands for ‘Radhiallahu Ta’ala anhu and

is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him

or her (when followed by the relevant

Arabic pronoun). Finally, ‘ru’ or (ru) for

Rahemahullahu Ta’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him.

In keeping with current universal practice, local transliterations

of names of places are preferred

to their anglicised versions, e.g.

Makkah instead of Mecca, etc.

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Prophet of God sir muhammad zafrulla khan (ra)


Held at the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 on June 2nd 1978

The first ‘International Conference on the Deliverance of Jesus Christ from the Cross’ was held on 2nd, 3rd and 4th June, 1978, at the Commonwealth Institute, London, and attracted more than 1500 researchers from numerous faiths the world over. Organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, UK, the purpose of the conference was to draw the attention of the world to unique research by the Promised Messiah(as) and present groundbreaking evidence of Jesus’ deliverance from the cross – alive. The event was addressed by renowned world scholars, and the then Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad(ra), Khalifatul Masih III, arrived from Pakistan to especially address the convention (see The Review of Religions, August 2010 edition). The Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph and other newspapers and TV stations, all covered the run-up to this conference. Sir Zafrulla (ra) presented this paper at the conference. Sir Zafrulla Khan (ra) (1893-1985) was a Companion of the Promised Messiah(as), eminent scholar of the Ahmadiyya community and a prolific writer and orator. He was the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan, President of the United Nations General Assembly and President of the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

There is no evidence that those who made use of this expression with reference to him, believed or meant to convey, that he was God.

Introduction Jesus(as) was the last prophet in Israel. He was called the son of God, an expression that although was in common use in scripture, was always employed metaphorically and in no single instance did it connote God. Nowhere in the Gospels or the Epistles is it said that Jesus(as) referred to himself as God, or implied that he was God. The expression ‘Lord’ was applied to him, but there is no evidence that those who made use of this expression with reference to him, believed or meant to convey, that he was God. It was used as a synonym for “master”. It was long after his time that the expression “son of God” was transmuted into “God, the Son”, meaning thereby that Jesus(as) was the second person in the Trinity. The entire concept of the Trinity april 2011


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In numerous instances the expression son of God is applied to prophets, to the righteous and to believers. was foreign to the thinking of Jesus(as). Jesus(as) – a Prophet Jesus(as) always referred to himself as having been sent by God, meaning that he was a Divine messenger. For instance: This is Eternal Life: to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ( John 17:3) I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me. ( John 5:30) And the Father Himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. ( John 5:37) It is clear, therefore, that Jesus (as) consistently put himself forward as one who had been sent by God, that is to say, as a messenger of God. In fact, his function as a messenger of God was defined even before his birth by Divine direction, as stated both in the Gospel 30 The Review of Religions | april 2011

Manuscript painting by Sargis Ptisak, 14th century Armenian artist, of “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God”. The Gospels refer to numerous people as the “son of God”

and in the Holy Qur’an. The angel that appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear a son whom she should name Jesus(as), also informed her that God would give him the throne of his father David, and that he would reign over the house of Jacob (Luke 1:32-33). The Qur’an affirms that Mary was told that God would teach Jesus(as) the book

and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel, and would make him a messenger to the children of Israel (Ch.3:Vs.49-50). “Son of God” – True Meaning It is true that in Luke 1:32, he is called the “son of the Highest” and in 1:35, the “son of God”; but these expressions in Biblical idiom do not at all connote Divinity or partnership in Divinity. We read: I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. (Psalms 82:6) In numerous instances the expression son of God is applied to prophets, to the righteous and to believers. The following are only some examples out of many: Israel is My son, even My f irst born. (Exodus 4:22) Also I will make him (David) My first born, higher than the kings of the earth. (Psalms 89:27) He (Solomon) shall be My son, and I will be his Father. (1. Chron 22:10) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (Matt. 5:9)

The expression ‘son of God,’ when applied to Jesus(as), by himself or by others, meant no more in his case than it meant in its application to others in scripture Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. (1 John 3:1) More significant than all this is the explanation furnished by Jesus(as) himself, which is as follows: Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me?” The Jews answered him, saying, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; because that thou, being man, makest thyself God.” ( John 10:31-33) Now, the crucial question was directly posed to Jesus(as). Did he claim to be God, the second person in the Trinity, as he subsequently came to be represented? His answer must be accepted by all those who profess to believe in him and follow him. april 2011


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The distinction between Jesus(as) and God was wellunderstood among the disciples and the early Christians, Jesus(as) answered them; Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the son of God? ( John 10:34-35) This makes it quite clear that the expression ‘son of God,’ when applied to Jesus(as), by himself or by others, meant no more in his case than it meant in its application to others in scripture, of which we have set out several instances above. He was son of God in that sense, but in no way at all God – the son, the second person in the Trinity, as is now claimed. The Father of All It is contended, however, that in the same context Jesus(as) had also said: I and my Father are one ( John 10:30) and The Father is in me, and I in him ( John 10:38); 32 The Review of Religions | april 2011

and that these affirmations lend support to the claim made on his behalf that he was not merely the son of God in the Biblical idiom, but had a relationship with God which elevated him to the Godhead, and made him a partner and an associate of God on an equal footing. We shall now proceed to show that in the idiom of the Bible the expression relied upon does not carry the matter any further, and does not furnish the least evidence of the divinity of Jesus(as); for instance: At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. ( John 14:20) That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us : That the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one: and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me and hast loved them as Thou hast loved me. ( John 17:21-23) One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:6)

Jesus Distinct from God The distinction between Jesus(as) and God was well-understood among the disciples and the early Christians, as would be appreciated from the following:

Jesus(as) had not the slightest hesitation in affirming the Unity of God

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ, Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)

Lord, our God, is One Lord: and thou shall love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment…And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is One God; and there is none other but He. (Mark 12:29-30 & 32)

But to us there is but one God, the Father of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Cor. 8:6) Jesus himself brought out the distinction clearly in attributing divinity to God alone, who was also his God, as for instance: (as)

Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. ( John 20:17) God is One Jesus(as) had not the slightest hesitation in affirming the Unity of God. For instance: One of the scribes came…and asked him, which is the f irst commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first Of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, the

God alone is immortal: the blessed and only potentate, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. (1 Tim. 6:15-16) Jesus not Equal to God The doctrine of Trinity necessarily imports the complete equality in all respects of the three persons of the Trinity. If there were inequality in any respect between them, that would mean the superiority of one over the other two, in which case the one or the two, that lacked equality could not be God; the one who has superiority over the other two april 2011


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would be God of the universe, including the other two. Even a cursory study of the Gospels and the Epistles reveals that in respect of the attributes of which there is a record, the Father is supreme, and there is a disclaimer by Jesus of those attributes.

To sit on my right hand, and on my left is not mine to give but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. (Matt: 20:23)

For instance, God alone is the true source of honour, as is said:

His knowledge was not as infinite as the knowledge of God. This is illustrated when he said after setting out certain signs concerning the day and hour of his second coming;

How can you believe when you accept honour from one another, and care nothing for the honour that comes from him who alone is God. ( John 5:44)

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32)

This finds support in the Qur’an: Whoso seeks honour should realise that all honour belongs to God. (35:11)

Not only did Jesus(as) lack equality with God he also lacked equality with the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, as he himself said:

And, behold one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good things shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: But thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matt. 19:16-17) Jesus(as) disclaimed absolute power. When Zebedee asked him to grant that her two sons may sit, the one on the right hand and the other on his left hand in his kingdom, the reply given by him was: 34 The Review of Religions | april 2011

Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoso ever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matt. 12:31-32)

Jesus(as) Prays to God Jesus(as) had the habit of prayer. As for instance: He withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:16) He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. (Luke 9:28) It came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples, and he said unto them, when ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name….. (Luke 11:1-2) Thus, quite rightly, all his supplications and those of his disciples were addressed to God. Obviously, therefore, there was not equality between the supplicant and Him to whom supplication was addressed. God had the power to respond to supplication and to grant it. Quite clearly Jesus(as) lacked such power, for indeed if he had possessed that power his supplicating God would have been meaningless. Had he been the second person in the Trinity, he would have been in no need of supplication, as he would have had the power to do all that

he wished. This is well illustrated in his repeated supplications in the garden of Gethsemane, when he fell on his face, and prayed, saying: O my Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matt. 26:39) The relationship between Jesus(as) and God was like that between a righteous ser vant and his gracious master. Nevertheless, “not as I will, but as Thou wilt”; is a clear affirmation of the supremacy of Divine will over the will of Jesus, which was subordinate to the Will of God. As he himself affirmed, he had been sent not to do his own will but to do God’s Will ( John 6:38); which is an exact description of the relationship between God and a Prophet. By contrast, there is no mention of the Father ever supplicating to the Son, which is clear proof that the Father was supreme and the son was subordinate to Him. as a servant is subordinate to his master. Continues in the next edition

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A Study of the Origins and Features of Easter navida sayed , uk

Bethlehem, birthplace of the Prophet Jesus(as)

This article looks at the various traditions Easter cards, Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, and celebrations that have gradually become Easter bonnets, Easter foods and spring a part of Easter, and examines their origins, daffodils. But for many devout Christians, what place they have, if any, according to the real focus of Easter is on Jesus’(as) resthe scriptures and the teachings of Jesus(as) urrection and their belief that he died on and the significance of the days leading up the cross, so that their own sins could be to Easter forgiven. While the emphasis is religious, Easter has become so heavily commercialised these days that the start of spring sparks supermarkets to load the aisles with

Easter is the most important time of the year for Christians. In preparation for this day, many Christians around the world observe some or all of the special days april 2011


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a study of the origins and features of easter

Shrove Tuesday: Pre-Lenten confession and celebration Shrove Tuesday is the first Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and became the last day associated with it, beginning with Shrove for celebrating and feasting before the Tuesday (also known as Fat Tuesday or 40 day Lenten period of fasting. It takes Mardi Gras), Ash Wednesday, followed its name from the word “shrive,” or to by the forty-day period of abstinence or confess. On Shrove Tuesday, Christians fasting known as Lent. This period con- confess their sins and ask God for cludes with Holy Week; (Palm Sunday forgiveness after the evening prayer, ushand Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), ering in the advent of Lent. Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Saturday, – with the last day being ‘In medieval England a priest would Easter Sunday. hear a confession and, in theory if not in practice, write down, or prescribe, Easter procession in Kurks, Russia – painting by Ilya Repin (1880-83)

38 The Review of Religions | april 2011

In preparation for this day, many Christians around the world observe some or all of the special days associated with it

hence ‘carnival’ and similar words in other languages, became associated with Shrove Tuesday.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is a half secular, half religious holiday of revelry that grew up among Mediterraneanbased Catholics in anticipation of the austerities that would commence on Ash an appropriate penance. After absolu- Wednesday2. tion, the person was said to have been shriven.’1 Over the years, that revelry has increased. In Europe Mardi Gras celebrations However, since Lent is a time of absti- include the wearing of flamboyant nence, of giving up one’s favourite masks and costumes during the carnivals. things, many see Shrove Tuesday as the The carnival in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) last chance to indulge, and to use up the includes balls, pageants, and parades with foods that are not allowed in Lent, such hundreds of dancers dressed in vibrant as meat, fats, eggs, milk and fish. In the costumes. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras Middle Ages, as the food storage systems is also celebrated during parades featurwere not adequate and to avoid wasting ing large floats, followed by throngs of the foods to be abstained from in Lent, people dressed as eccentric characters. people would hold big feasts on Shrove The emphasis of the day is on eating, Tuesday. In England, the tradition of drinking and dancing, as well as practieating pancakes originated because this cal jokes and humorous street plays. was the best way to consume as much milk, fats and eggs as possible before Ash Ironically, for many people around the Wednesday. In France, this day came to world Shrove Tuesday has evolved into be known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, a day of extravagant indulgence, but for because it was a day of consumption of devout worshippers the focus remains on all fats and fatty foods. Shrove Tuesday confession of one’s sins, repentance and was also the last opportunity for eating prayer. There are no instructions in the meat, the Latin for which is carnis: -flesh, Bible or from Jesus(as) to observe this day. april 2011


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a study of the origins and features of easter

When worshippers go to church on Ash Wednesday, the priest dips his thumb in the Ash paste and marks the sign of a cross on each worshipper’s forehead

and is a symbol of repentance for the wrong things Christians think they have done in the past year.

This was the practice in Rome for penitents to begin their period of public penance on the first day of Lent. They were sprinkled with ashes, dressed in sackcloth and obliged to remain apart until they were reconciled with the Christian community on Maundy Ash Wednesday – A universal day of Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. penitence marked by Ashes When these practices fell into disuse Shrove Tuesday is followed by Ash (8th–10th century), the beginning of Wednesday. This marks the beginning of Lent was symbolised by placing ashes the Lenten season when special services on the heads of the entire congregation. are held in Churches. In preparation The observation of Ash Wednesday in the for this service the priest makes blessed Roman Catholic Church includes fasting, Holy Ashes, by burning palm crosses abstinence from meat and repentance, a from the previous year’s Palm day ser- day of contemplation of one’s transgresvice. The Ashes are mixed with Holy sions. 4 water to make a paste. When worshippers go to church on Ash Wednesday, the Some have linked this Holy day to sorpriest dips his thumb in the Ash paste rowful repentance by sprinkling oneself and marks the sign of a cross on each with ashes as mentioned in the Old worshipper’s forehead. For Christians Testament: 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; ashes are a symbol of remorse for their Isaiah 58; 5 Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6. wrong doings, which they want to be And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent rid of forever. It is also a reminder to her garment of divers colours that [was] them that “we all come from ashes, and on her, and laid her hand on her head, and to ashes we all will return.3” The mark- went on crying. (2 Samuel 13:19) ing on the forehead with ash marks their commitment to Jesus Christ and God, When Mordecai perceived all that was 40 The Review of Religions | april 2011

done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; (Esther 4:1) Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? (Isaiah 58; 5I)

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus(as) was thought to have been crucified and buried. Biblical and historical evidence prove Jesus(as) did not die on the cross.

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: (Daniel 9:3)

For word came unto the king of Nineveh, And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself and he arose from his throne, and he laid withal; and he sat down among the ashes. his robe from him, and covered [him] with (Job 2:8) sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (Jonah 3:6.) april 2011


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Christians observe Lent by fasting and by trying to abstain from sin and vice.

penance by being remorseful for their sins and turning to God. The aim of the Church is to enable Christians to understand how fasting and maintaining self-discipline during Lent will enable the worshipper to gain the self control needed to purify the heart and renew one’s life.6

However, these references cannot be used to justify the practice of creating a new day called Ash Wednesday. The Old Testament clearly illustrates how early Christians grieved sorrowfully by covering themselves in ashes, or by wearing handmade garments of sackcloth covered in Ashes, not by having a little Holy Ash cross marked on their forehead by a priest or minister.

It is of interest to note that Lent was not observed by the church in the first century. Scholars dispute whether Lent was first mentioned in the Council of Nicea in (325 AD), when Emperor Constantine officially recognised the church as the Roman Empire’s state religion. According to the Encyclopaedia of the early church, “Lent is mentioned for the first time in 334, by Athanasius,”7 Any other forms of Christianity that held doctrines Lent – A season of prayer, penance and different from the Roman Church were self - discipline considered to be enemies of the state. In The word “Lent” comes from the Anglo- 360, the Council of Laodicea officially Saxon word lencten, which means spring, commanded that Lent be observed, and derived from the Anglo-Saxon word by the end of the fourth century the 40 lenctentid, referring to the lengthening day fast was observed everywhere, not days in spring. This is a season of fasting only by those who were to be baptised, observed by Catholics and other non- but all Christians preparing themselves Catholic denominations.5 for Easter. 8 Christians observe Lent by fasting and by trying to abstain from sin and vice. The Church instructs Christians to seek 42 The Review of Religions | april 2011

Originally, people did not observe Lent for more than a week. Some kept it for one or two days. Others kept it for 40

It is of interest to note that Lent was not observed by the church in the first century

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

consecutive hours in the false belief that only 40 hours had elapsed between Jesus’ (as) death and his resurrection, according to Christian doctrine. Eventually, Lent became a 40-day period of fasting or abstaining from certain foods. ‘The emphasis was not so much on the fasting as on the spiritual renewal that the preparation for Easter demanded. It

was simply a period marked by fasting, but not necessarily one in which the faithful fasted every day. However, as time went on, more and more emphasis was laid upon fasting…During the early centuries (from the fifth century on especially) the observance of the fast was very strict. Only one meal a day, toward evening was allowed: flesh meat and fish, and in most places even eggs and dairy products, were absolutely forbidden. Meat was not even allowed on Sundays.’9 But from the ninth century onward, Lent ’s strict rules saw a gradual relaxation. Greater emphasis was given to performing “penitential works”, rather than to fasting and abstinence. According to the apostolic constitution Poenitemini of Pope Paul IV (Feb. 17, 1966), ‘abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of the year that do not fall on holy days of obligation, and fasting as well as abstinence is to be april 2011


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There is absolutely no reference to Lent in the Old or New Testaments

and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Exodus 34:28)

observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.’ 10

After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, [even] forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, [even] forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. (Numbers 14:34)

Christians observe Lent in different And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s ways; some people may abstain from journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty indulgent foods and others may abstain days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. from a normal part of their daily routine, ( Jonah 3:4) to remind themselves of the sacrifice Jesus(as) made for them. Some people And when thou hast accomplished them, lie stop “eating out” during Lent, and then again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear donate the money they would have spent the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: to charity. I have appointed thee each day for a year. (Ezekiel 4:6) There is absolutely no reference to Lent in the Old or New Testaments, nor any And he arose, and did eat and drink, and reference of Jews or Christians observing went in the strength of that meat forty days an annual fasting period of 40 days before and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of the Passover. Those who practise it justify God. (1 Kings 19:8) its observation by linking the repentance and fasting of forty days, with references According to the New Testament, Jesus(as) relating to the number forty. never observed Lenten fasting, neither did he command or teach his apostles to And the rain was upon the earth forty days do so. However, Christians believe that and forty nights. (Gen 7:12) the duration of Lent can be identified And he was there with the LORD forty days with Jesus’(as) time spent in the wilderness. 44 The Review of Religions | april 2011

According to the New

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost (as) returned from Jordan, and was led by the Testament, Jesus never Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days observed Lenten fasting, tempted of the devil. And in those days neither did he command or he did eat nothing: and when they were teach his apostles to do so ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread he departed from him for a season. (Luke alone, but by every word of God. And the 4:1-13) devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the During Lent Christians commemorate world in a moment of time. And the devil the time when Jesus(as) retired to the desert said unto him, All this power will I give thee, to fast and pray, before beginning his and the glory of them: for that is delivered work for God. It also is a remembrance unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give of when Jesus(as) was tempted by Satan, it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all but was able to successfully resist and shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said remained steadfast and thus succeeded unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it in the eyes of God. is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he Clearly, the above references do not brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on instruct that a new season of Lent a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, should be created, so how did this come If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down into Christianity? ‘The Roman Church from hence: For it is written, He shall give developed a high mass for celebrating the his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And resurrection of Christ, but attached to in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at it much of the paganism of the spring any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. festival. Included in this process was the And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, forty-day season of fasting known as Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And “Lent�, adopted by Rome during the sixth when the devil had ended all the temptation, century. It corresponds to a forty day fast april 2011


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fourth Sunday of Lent. (In other parts of the world this day is also known as Mother’s Day, often celebrated on a different date). Over the centuries Mothering Sunday became an important day for people to return to their home or “mother” church at least once a year, in the middle of Lent. It is uncertain where the name ‘Mothering Sunday’ originated. ‘A practised by ancient Egyptians. Others possible explanation is that the Pope said identify Lent with a practice among Mass on that day at the basilica of Santa Babylonian worshippers of Semiramis. Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in The death and resurrection of Tammuz, Jerusalem), which contained the relics of was celebrated by a great annual festival the Holy Cross acquired in Jerusalem by Empress Helena, mother of Constantine preceded by the Lenten fast.’11 the Great. The epistle quoted St Paul’s The question arises that if the Roman reference to the heavenly Jerusalem church was aware that the observation ‘mother of us all’, - Galatians 4:26. In of Lent was not an inherent part of the the same way, the local cathedral, mother Biblical teaching nor of Jesus’(as) practice, church of the diocese, was the focus of then why did they constitute a pagan worship on this Sunday...Whatever the holiday? Many hold the view that the reason, this Sunday was associated in Christian Church amalgamated the people’s minds with the idea of ‘Mother’. festivals in the hope of subtly integrating Consequently, it became customary in Christianity into the nation at large. Its England for servants and apprentices to origin is the pre-festival fast, which was be given time off to attend the church also observed at this time of year, by where they had been baptised, with their those being initiated into the Christian families. They presented their mothers community. with a cake made of eggs, butter, simnel and the finest flour; ingredients which Mothering Sunday – A day of rest on the were not otherwise used in Lent.12 fourth Sunday of Lent This is celebrated in England on the It is thought that this day could have been

Over the centuries Mothering Sunday became an important day for people to return to their home or “mother” church at least once a year

46 The Review of Religions | april 2011

It is thought that this day could have been adapted from the annual spring festival held in honour of the Greek Goddess Rhea adapted from the annual spring festival held in honour of the Greek Goddess Rhea, or from the Roman spring festival dedicated to Cybele. Cybele was often referred to as the Mother of the Gods; the Greeks identified her with Rhea the mother of most Olympian Gods.13 Holy Week – Commemorating events of the days before Jesus’(as) Crucifixion

Fabergé eggs were commissioned by Czar Alexander III of Russia as an Easter surprise for his wife Maria Fyodorovna

Holy Week is the final week of Lent before Easter. It commemorates the (The earliest days of the church were events immediately preceding the during the first centuries after the time crucifixion and the last week of Jesus’(as) of Prophet Jesus(as) when Paul constituted life. This is the most solemn period during the church and it was being formed; over the church year. Christians devoutly the centuries the fathers, then the popes observe this week, commemorating took over; later, the denominations crept the Passion and Jesus’(as) death on the in with their own views. But the main cross. Holy Week observances began body is the Catholic Church.) in Jerusalem in the earliest days of the Church, when devout Christians The Holy Week marks the final days of travelled to Jerusalem to re-enact events Jesus(as) before Easter Sunday. It consists of the week prior to Jesus(as) crucifixion. of: Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy april 2011


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This day reminds Christians of the journey Jesus(as) made into Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover

Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The final three days are part of the Easter or paschal Triduum. Holy Week originated during the 2nd century. Two masses took place in the Early Church; one to reconcile sinners to God and the other to commemorate communion. By the 3rd century, the Great Vigil started and became the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Holy Week was first called “Great Week” by the Greeks in the second half of the 3rd century. Around the 4th century “Holy Week” was given its name by the Archbishop of Alexandria and the Bishop of Constantia. (The term “Holy Week” is a recent title; previously this was known as Passion Week.)14 Palm Sunday - This is the Sunday before Easter on which day an annual “procession of the palms” is held, in memory of Jesus’(as) entry into Jerusalem. 48 The Review of Religions | april 2011

This day reminds Christians of the journey Jesus(as) made into Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach). On his arrival, people welcomed Jesus(as) by shouting, waving palm branches and throwing branches down in the path of the donkey which he rode. (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11)

faithful of Jerusalem gathered around their Bishop on the Mount of Olives... they set out carrying olive palm branches in their hands, accompanying the bishop who was seated on a mule, to the church of the resurrection...from Jerusalem this custom made its way into the churches. By the middle ages the rite of the palms had acquired a distinctly dramatic form.’15 Over the centuries the church blessed this custom and they continue to celebrate this day by re-enacting it. In countries where worshippers cannot re-enact the events, they are given small crosses made from palm leaves, which they keep in their homes all year round as a symbol of their faith. The Church keeps any palm crosses which are left over until the following year, when they burn them to use their ashes for a special service on Ash Wednesday. It is believed that Palm Sunday originated in Jerusalem: ‘According to Ergia’s 4th century account of the Holy week celebrations in Jerusalem, the people of Jerusalem were led to re-enact this event at the spot where it had actually happened. The

Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – These are the three days when the Church reflects on the last days of Jesus’ (as) earthly life. These days are commemorated through various church services, where hymns and scriptures are recited, following the same cycle of events recorded in the story of the Passion, as told by the Evangelists. In april 2011


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The Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of the Lord begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

the home, Christians are meant to spend more time focusing on prayer, during this period. Most families also use this time for spring cleaning. It is said that cleaning the house during these days is similar to the Jewish tradition of cleaning before the Pesach. The Easter Triduum The Triduum (‘three days’), referred to as The Paschal Triduum, the Holy Triduum or Easter Triduum, begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and ends on the evening of Easter Day. According to Catholics, the death of Jesus(as) cannot be separated from his resurrection: ‘Christ redeemed humankind and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of the Lord is the culmination of the entire liturgical 50 The Review of Religions | april 2011

year. Thus the solemnity of Easter has the same kind of pre-eminence in the liturgical year that Sunday has in the week. The Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of the Lord begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday, the Sunday of the Lord’s resurrection.’16 The Triduum is observed for three days to celebrate the heart of the Christian faith: salvation, redemption, the death and resurrection of Jesus(as). However, many Protestant churches do not recognise the Triduum as liturgical, and observe Lent until the Easter Vigil begins. Holy or Maundy Thursday – The Easter Triduum begins with Mass on Holy Thursday evening. This day commemorates the final Passover Jesus (as) celebrated as his last supper, with his disciples. Some of the early Christians debated whether to keep the date of Easter separate from the weeklong Jewish festival of Passover, which celebrates the Exodus and freedom of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. It is believed that “the Last Supper” was in reality “the Seder meal”, which marks the start of Passover.

For Christians this Holy day marks four key events; the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus Christ, the institution of the Last Supper, the agony of Jesus(as) in Gethsemane and the betrayal by Judas Iscariot. The re-enactment of the washing of the feet takes place in many churches, and in Britain monarchs customarily washed the feet of a selected group of poor people. Holy Thursday is also the traditional day for a thorough cleaning of the church altar and everything associated with it. Most churches celebrate communion on Maundy Thursday. 17 There are no instructions in the Bible about the observance of Holy Thursday, nor did Jesus(as) instruct his disciples to observe this day. Good Friday –The celebration of Good Friday is according to some historians, a custom which originated in the 4 th century. Over the centuries, the day gradually became a time of penance and fasting, at the anniversary of the crucifixion and (according to Christians) the death of Christ. Many churches hold quiet services from noon until three (called Tre Ore or Three Hours). This service focuses on the words Jesus (as) uttered as he hung on the cross; i.e., Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?, which means, My

There are no instructions in the Bible about the observance of Holy Thursday

God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mt 27:46 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46) After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.( John 19:28) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. ( John 19:30) Another tradition is to venerate the cross by kissing a crucifix on Good Friday. As mentioned previously, Good Friday is a april 2011


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The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Easter Triduum, which St. Augustine called ‘Mother of all Holy Vigils.’

rest in his tomb. No services are held on this day; the worshippers spend the day quietly reflecting and this leads them to the Easter Vigil.

The Easter Vigil – On this night Christians all over the world will gather in the dark, the darkness representing their sombre reflections of the day. The sombre time in the Catholic Church, Easter Vigil is the high point of the thus there are no flowers, and the altar, Easter Triduum, which St. Augustine the chancel, statues, pictures and the called ‘Mother of all Holy Vigils.’ Initially, cross, are all draped in black to represent this vigil was held in the morning, but mourning. this was restored to the liturgy in 1951 by Pius XII, who thought it was appropriate However, once again, there are no biblical to restore the feast of Easter to its proper teachings that direct Christians to place in the life of the Church.18 celebrate Good Friday. Not all Christians do so, with some churches refraining The reason why this vigil takes place from communion until Resurrection during the night is because it is believed Sunday. to coincide with Jesus’(as) resurrection,

Holy Saturday – This is the last day of the Triduum in the Holy Week and the 40 day Lenten Fast, which commemorates Jesus(as) lying in the tomb. Holy Saturday is a day to be observed as quietly as possible. This day is also known as the ‘day of the entombed Christ’, when Christians reflect on the passion, suffering and death of Jesus(as), and how he was finally laid to 52 The Review of Religions | april 2011

which also occurred during the night. During this night, worshippers silently pray and focus on the hours when they believe Jesus(as) slowly came back to life. They also celebrate his profound sacrifice for their sins. The Easter Vigil rites begin with the lighting of a new flame or fire, which represents Jesus’ (as) return from the darkness of death, bringing with him the new light of hope and salvation through

his resurrection. Some churches use If Jesus(as) did not instruct a special Paschal Candle for this part of the service, which is then used for this kind of worship then lighting the individual candles of every where did it come from? worshipper, while they sing the Easter proclamation. The Easter Vigil also includes the recitation of some readings provided by the church and the blessing of the water for baptism. It also includes Easter hymn praising the resurrection the baptism of new members wishing to of Jesus(as), whilst holding spring flowers. be initiated into the church, who receive They close this service by holding hands the Eucharist for the first time. After this, and praying together, and then proceed everyone rejoices in the resurrection of home to prepare for church services. Jesus(as), and celebrate Easter Day. The Old Testament mentions a similar The rituals and traditions of Holy Week, practice in Ezekiel 8:1-18, where Ezekiel appear to have entered Christian practice saw that the people of Israel were facing long after the demise of Jesus(as). One towards the east when the sun rose and therefore has to question the significance worshipping the sun. This was strictly placed on the rites performed, and their forbidden, as it constituted sun-worship. But this is exactly what worshippers do relevance to the teachings of Jesus(as). in the Easter Sunrise Service. If Jesus(as) did not instruct this kind of worship then Easter Day where did it come from? Sunrise Service – While this custom ‘The sunrise service originates not in is not practised by all Christians, some Christianity but in the Pagan rites of will participate in ‘the Easter Sunrise spring. Sunrise services are not unrelated Service,’ when worshippers rise before to the Easter fires held on the tops of hills dawn on Easter Day and go to an in continuation of the New Year fires, a elevated place or to the side of a church, worldwide observance in antiquity. Rites and face towards the rising sun. After were performed at the vernal equinox, the sun rises, the worshippers sing an welcoming the sun and its great power april 2011


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Easter celebrates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus(as) three days after his crucifixion.

to bring new life to all growing things.’19 On Easter Sunday churches are decorated with flowers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus(as), likening it to the flowers blossoming in the spring. The ‘Easter lily’ flower also crept into Christianity much later, again with no basis in scripture or the teachings of Jesus(as). Easter – also known as Pascha, is a spring festival which is celebrated on the Sunday following holy week. Easter celebrates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus(as) three days after his crucifixion. Easter is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year. All the Christian movable feasts and the entire liturgical year of worship, are arranged around Easter which is followed by a fifty days Easter season (Easteride) which 54 The Review of Religions | april 2011

extends to the Pentecost. On Easter day Christians celebrate and rejoice Jesus’(as) sacrifice of his life to free mankind from sin. It is widely believed amongst the Christian world that Jesus(as) was the sacrificial lamb offered at the Passover as mentioned in Exodus 12:1314. According to the biblical account of this first Passover, the Israelites marked their doors with the blood of a lamb to prevent the Angel of Death killing their first born; their doors were therefore literally “passed over”. Jewish temples

began to sacrifice lambs ritually to mark where does the concept of the Passover. It was only the blood of the (as) slain lamb that protected each Israelite Jesus atoning for the sins home, while Egypt suffered the plague of of mankind as the paschal or death, the Israelites were spared death by sacrificial Lamb originate? obeying God’s command and by faith in His promise to protect them. Following this, the Jews celebrated the Passover meal in remembrance of God’s Mercy. In keeping with the tradition of the Old old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice Testament Jewish laws, which Jesus(as) and wickedness; but with the unleavened devoutly followed, he also observed the bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians. Passover. 5:7-8. 20 From the Biblical accounts of the These verses prove that it was Paul’s New Testament, it is determined that teaching to replace the Old Testament Jesus(as) was put on the cross when he Passover. His New Testament concept of was observing the feast of the Passover the Passover allowed Christ to supersede ( Matthew 26:17-19, Mark 14:12-16, the paschal lamb. Despite Paul’s claims Luke 22:7-15, John 18:28,39, 19:14). But to love and honour Jesus(as), he did not Jesus(as) did not predict or indicate that hesitate to replace the Old Testament this would happen. So where does the Passover (which Jesus(as) and his disciples concept of Jesus(as) atoning for the sins followed), with his new concept. of mankind as the paschal or sacrificial Lamb originate? It emerged from the According to the New Testament Christians celebrating the death of accounts of the evangelists, the resurJesus(as) with a Paschal meal (Eucharist), rection should have been celebrated on on the lunar date of the Jewish Passover: the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. However, ‘controversy surrounded the Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye determination of the date of Easter may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. from the 2nd Century to the 8th century’21. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for After centuries of debate the Council of us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with Nicea finally fixed the date of Easter to april 2011


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Scholars agree that the name Easter has its roots in Paganism. It is never used in original scriptures and its exact origin remains uncertain

A.D. 325, i.e. to fall on the first Sunday after the full moon, on or after the vernal equinox (March 21). This means that Easter can be observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25. The Council was also responsible for separating the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover, probably because over the years Easter did not fall on a Sunday in accordance with the Jewish Passover, (the Sunday after the spring equinox rather than the biblically directed 14 Nisan in the Jewish Calendar), and the Church wanted to keep the observance of Easter day on a Sunday in line with the biblical account of Jesus’(as) resurrection on a Sunday. Not only was a new date selected for the celebration of Passover, but a new theme was introduced – Easter replaced Passover – and an official day was designated to commemorate the 56 The Review of Religions | april 2011

Resurrection. The word “Easter” represents the festival observed by many Christian churches in honour of the resurrection of the Saviour. Easter is a word used in Germanic languages to denote the festival of the vernal equinox22. The word Easter is not found anywhere in the Old or New Testament, except for one reference in the King James Bible. And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people (Acts 12.4).23 After reading the above one may assume that the festival of Easter may have been observed during the time of the apostles. According to the New Bible dictionary, the original word in the above translation has no reference to that, nor is there any evidence that any such festival was observed at the time when this book was written. The original word should have been ‘Passover’ (pascha) not ‘Easter.’24 The word Paschal used to describe many things associated with Easter, itself derives from Pascha the Greek/Latin transliteration of Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover.

As the observation of Easter is not instructed in the Bible, then where did Easter originate? Scholars agree that the name Easter has its roots in Paganism. It is never used in original scriptures and its exact origin remains uncertain; according to Bede it is connected with an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess.25 The time, the customs, and the traditions of Easter all come from ancient pagan, non-Christian, religious celebrations. Thus, Easter was originally a pagan festival in honour of the Goddess of Spring. The word “Easter” is supposed to be derived from “Eostre or “Eastre.” Eostre was the deity of both the dawn and spring, and “the pagan symbol of fertility.” At her festival in April, sacred fires were lighted on the hills especially in the Nordic lands. (During this same season, the ancient Romans observed the Feast of the Vernal Equinox.)26 Even though it is quite evident that Easter was clearly pagan in origin, it was the early Christian leaders of the first two centuries after Jesus’(as) crucifixion who created this festival. It was probably easier for them to draw pagan worshippers into Christianity by having it coincide with the spring resurrection feast of the pagans.

Even though it is quite evident that Easter was clearly pagan in origin, it was the early Christian leaders of the first two centuries after Jesus’(as) crucifixion who created this festival.

Over the centuries, Easter celebrations have also supplemented many more customs, mainly incorporated from springtime fertility celebrations. Hot Cross Buns stemmed from the pagan festival which had the Saxon fertility Goddess sacrifice an ox. Thus, the horns in the form of a cross became a symbol of the season, carved into breads. The cross represented the moon, the heavenly body associated with the Goddess and its four quarters. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, buns were made in the traditional method, but the cross now symbolised the crucifix of Jesus(as). The Easter Bunny and eggs both represent fertility. Dyed eggs were also used as part of the rituals of the Babylonian religions. In the pagan spring and fertility festivals eggs were painted and given as gifts. Eggs april 2011


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Easter was not observed by the early followers of Jesus(as)

represented fertility and to be given one was to wish children upon the receiver.27 None of these Pagan traditions have any relevance to Biblical teachings. Moreover, in accordance with the Old Testament such practices should never be adopted:

of Jesus(as), nor by those who believed that they should follow the command of the Bible rather that of men. Unfortunately, over the centuries, pagan rituals have become so deeply embedded in society, that it is now generally assumed that they are Christian in origin. However, the Christians who do not follow the pagan customs and traditions associated with Easter, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus(as) at Easter by focusing on the resurrection narrative as mentioned by the evangelists. The one important verse which strikes many Christians is:

“Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou For as Jonas was three days and three nights inquire not after their gods, saying, How did in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man these nations serve their gods? even so will be three days and three nights in the heart I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the of the earth. (Matt. 12:40). LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done Many Christians accept that this was the unto their gods; for even their sons and their one sign that Jesus(as) gave as proof that daughters they have burnt in the fire to their he was the messiah, that he would be gods. What thing so ever I command you, in the grave exactly three days and three observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nights. They take this verse as evidence nor diminish from it.” (Deuteronomy that Jesus(as) was resurrected. Regarding 12:30-32)28 this, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV(ru) has said: Conclusion There is no celebration of any Christian holidays in the New Testament. Easter was not observed by the early followers 58 The Review of Religions | april 2011

‘We prove from the Bible that God did not abandon him and saved him from the ignoble death upon the cross. This can be studied in the light of the facts relating to

the period before the Crucifixion, as well as the facts of the Crucifixion itself and after it, as related by the New Testament.’ Long before that incident, Jesus (as) promised that no sign would be shown unto the people other than the sign of Jonah:

Careful examination of the biblical texts clearly indicate how Jesus(as) survived death on the cross.

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’ He answered, ‘a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:38–41) ‘So before we determine what happened to Jesus(as), we must understand what happened to Jonah, because Jesus(as) claimed that the same miracle would be repeated. What was the Sign of Jonah? Did he die in the belly of the fish and was he later on revived from death? There is unanimity among all Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars that Jonah did not die in the belly of the fish. He precariously hung between life and

death and was miraculously saved from that situation; while any other person in his place would have died. Yet some subtle laws of nature, under the Divine command, must have conspired together to save him from death. Remember, we are not debating the issue of that being possible or not. We are only pointing out that Jesus(as), when he pointed out that the like of what happened to Jonah would also happen to him, he could only have meant that what everyone understood to have occurred in the case of Jonah would occur in his case. No one in the entire world of Judaism, whether in the land of Judea or anywhere else the Jews had dispersed and settled, would have received a different message from this claim of Jesus(as). They all believed that Jonah, miraculously or otherwise, survived for three days and nights in the belly of the fish and did not die in that period for a single moment. Of course we have our own reservations regarding this view. The story of Jonah as told to us in april 2011


The Review of Religions


a study of the origins and features of easter

The term ‘resurrection’ only means the creation of a new astral body.

the Qur’an does not mention anywhere that it was for three days and nights that Jonah suffered his trials in the belly of the fish. However, we return to the case in point and try to bring to light the actual similarities which were predicted by Jesus Christ between Jonah and himself. Those similarities spoke clearly of spending three days and nights in extremely precarious circumstances and a miraculous revival from near death, and not of coming back to life from the dead. The same, Jesus(as) claimed, would happen in his case.’ 29 Careful examination of the biblical texts clearly indicate how Jesus(as) survived death on the cross. He was not God who became a man, he did not die on the cross for the sins of mankind, and he had no desire to do so. He was not resurrected from death on the cross because he did not die. 60 The Review of Religions | april 2011

If correctly understood and applied, the resurrection of Jesus(as) cannot mean the return of his soul to the same human body it had deserted at the moment of death. The term ‘resurrection’ only means the creation of a new astral body. Such a body is spiritual in nature and works as a sort of crucible for a rarefied soul within. It is created for the eternal continuation of life after death. Some call it a sidereal body or astral body, and some call it athma. Whatever name you give it, the essential meaning remains the same; resurrection applies to the creation of a new body for the soul which is ethereal in nature and not, we repeat, not, the return of the soul to the same disintegrated human body it left previously. St. Paul has spoken lengthily in exactly these terms about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He believed in the resurrection of not only Jesus (as), but the resurrection in general of all those who die and are deemed fit by God to be given a new existence and a new form of life. The personality of the soul remains the same, but its abode changes. According to St. Paul this is a general phenomenon which has to be accepted, otherwise there would be no significance to either religion or Christianity.

We invite readers to examine accounts of Jesus’(as) survival from death on the cross, from a biblical perspective, brought to light by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), in his book Jesus in India. endnotes

1 Metford, 1991 2 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 3 Metford, 1991 4 Metford, 1991 5 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 6 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 7 Encyclopedia of the Early Church, 1992 8 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 9 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 10 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 11 Ingram, 2000 12 Metford, 1991 13 Classical Mythology, Dictionary, 2002 14 Metford, 1991

15 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003 16 McGloin, 2001 17 Metford, 1991 18 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2003 19 Ingraham, 2000 20 King James Bible 21 The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2003 22 New Bible Dictionary, 1996 23 King James Bible 24 New Bible Dictionary, 1996 25 Livingston, 1978 26 Ingraham, 2000 27 Ingraham, 2000 28 King James Bible 29 Ahmad

april 2011


The Review of Religions


Š makhzan-e-tasaweer

The Friday Sermon

Every Friday live at 13:00 GMT on MTA International

Each week on Friday, Muslims are required to take a bath, dress in their best and clean clothes, wear perfume and assemble in the mosque for Jumu’ah, the Friday Prayer. The

Live Translations: English, French, Arabic, German, Bengali

to meet together to discuss and solve their

Translations on repeat: Russian, Turkish, Swahili, Tamil, Malayalam

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul

UK viewers: watch MTA on Sky channel 787

Community, delivers the Friday Sermon each

For info on viewing MTA in other countries, or for online stream, visit

Ahmadiyya International (MTA). Through MTA

Friday Prayer gives Muslims an opportunity individual as well as community problems.

Masih V, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim week, broadcast live by Muslim Television therefore, the Imam is able to address not just the congregation, but also the entire world. It gives the Imam a chance to advise all Muslims at the same time on urgent matters that face them.

Sky channel 787

Calendar of


Events & Festivals

Tuesday, 12th April Event: Rama Navami Faith: Hindu

Hindus celebrate the birthday of Lord Rama, who they believe is the incarnation of Vishnu. Recitals of the Ramayana, the 24,000 Sanskrit epic he was said to have authored takes place in temples. Houses are thoroughly cleansed and the puja (worship) is performed.

Wednesday, 13th April Event: Vaisakhi Faith: Sikh

Sikh new year festival and one of the most important days for Sikhs, marking the new harvest season and beginning of the new solar year.

Saturday, 16th April Event: Mahavira Jayanti Faith: Jain

The birthday of Mahavira, considered by some as the founder of modern day Jainism, is celebrated on this day. Jains gather in temples to hear readings of the teachings of Mahavira.

64 The Review of Religions | april 2011

april 2011 Tuesday, 19th April Event: Passover Faith: Jewish

One of the most important festivals in the Jewish calendar. Jews celebrate Pesach, the Feast of Passover in commemoration of the Children of Israel who were liberated from bondage and led out of Egypt.

Sunday, 24th April Event: Easter Faith: Christian (Orthodox and Western)

Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus(as) (see article ‘A Study of the Origins and Features of Easter’ in this edition)

Friday, 22nd April Event: Good Friday Faith: Christian

The Friday before Easter, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus(as).

april 2011


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The Review Of Religions (April 2011)  

A Study of the Origins and Features of Easter