Joseph (Muhammad `Ali):
I was born of staunch Catholic Christian parents. My father Mr. D'Souza was a preacher who knew the Bible almost by heart. My mother an orthodox Catholic would even give us the morning coffee only after her return from church. My father was stationed in the town of Trichinopoly in South India and I stayed with my mother and other elders in the village called Lalgudi.
Even from my youngest days I was made to memorize certain verses from the Bible. After passing the fifth standard from the Elementary School in the village, I stayed with my father for my higher education in the town of Trichinopoly. By the time I passed the second form I had completed the study of all the four Gospels in Tamil and knew many important verses, in those four books, by heart.
My father sometimes took me along with him when he went to preach, and from the special attention he paid to my knowing certain controversial points, and his teaching me the methods of explaining to the others those intricacies, it was quite obvious that he wanted me to succeed him in his profession.
The strong desire of the paternal love to make me a priest was implemented by educating me with a detailed knowledge of the Bible and the science of ministering it to others. By the time I reached form four in school I could preach the gospels in my own way, supervised by my father.
Many senior missionaries admired my knowledge of the important doctrines of the faith. I passed form six and joined St. Joseph's College. There I came in contact with several classmates who were protestants and whom some of them were well versed in the study of the Protestant Bible.
I often met my protestant classmates and discussed matters of regard differences in our faith and the performance of rituals. There were some Muslim students also, but I met them only in the playground for I hated meeting Muslims whom I took to be dangerous fanatics.
By the time I completed the first year in the college, I was sufficiently grounded in the knowledge of the Christian faith as held by the Catholic Church and had considerable knowledge of the Protestant view point also.
Appreciating this knowledge of the Catholic faith in my young age, I was given a scholarship of Rs.15/- from the church funds and in return for the help I received, I was required to receive a special coaching in the guidance of deeper thoughts about certain parts the Holy Book, under the chief priest of the church, who loved me to teach me very much and was very intimately attached to me.
He used the special devotional methods of worshipping Jesus and his holy mother. Having appreciated in the first group for my intermediate course I used to sit working at the subjects till late at night.
One night when all were asleep and I was absorbed in my studies, an idea suddenly struck my mind to examine the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the basic formula of the Christian faith.
The question of how three different things can be one and the same, arose in my mind; that is, how anything singularly absolute in its unity with its indivisible oneness, can ever by itself become divided into three separate beings with three variant native attributes opposed to each other justifying the distribution into the three different entities.
My failure to reconcile my belief in the Trinity with the reasoning of the science of logic, created a mental restlessness in me. Days passed on and many a time I thought of asking my father to help me in solving the problem which puzzled my mind, but I knew that my father would never appreciate the least doubt in the dogmatic belief of the Catholic School and my venture to discuss anything hated by the Catholic faith, would only create further problems in my domestic life.
However, one day when I found my father in a happy mood, I asked him as to how he would defend the Christian faith in the Holy Trinity against the attacks from the members of the other religions of the world.
The answer was, "In matters of faith one has to stop reasoning. One should believe in the doctrine only by one's heart and mind."
This reply from my father upset me further more and disappointed me to a very great extant and all my thinking got centered in the question which had become a definite problem to puzzle my mind further, and I wondered saying, "What! Is this the foundation upon which is built the huge edifice of the Christianity faith?
Is the basis of my own faith only a matter of a blind following of some dictated belief which can never stand reasoning or the independent scrutiny by the dispassionate and impartial arguments from the clean conscience?"
I became much worried and made up my mind to find some argument to somehow to make my much disturbed mind at least imagine that one could at one and the same time be three different persons, and the three different persons, could at the same time remain one.
One day our professor of mathematics was sitting alone in his room and I got in with his permission and asked him if he would help me solve something which, to me, was an intricate and a perplexing problem.
He very kindly asked me what it was. I asked him to explain to me in what sense one and the same person could be three different beings and the same three different beings with their individual differences could at the same time be the indivisible absolute one?
The Professor smiled and said, "Is it that you do not like my stay in this college?"
I asked him, "Why Sir?"
He said, "What do you think the college authorities which are staunch Catholics will do with me, if someone informs them that I discuss in my private room things opposed to the Catholic or the Christian faith in general? Will they keep me on the staff of the college any longer?
If you want to discuss anything here, you may do so but mind you, you must confine your discussion to the subject of your studies in the college, otherwise you will be doing the worst harm to me, for I will be thrown out of my job."
I felt the truth in his statement and made an appointment with him to see him the next Sunday at 3:00 p.m. in his house near the Central Market.
One Sunday when I met the Professor, he first asked me as to what made me enquire into the Doctrine of Trinity. I said that I wanted to know how far the doctrine stood up to reasoning.
The Professor smiled and said, "Why don't you ask anyone of our priests?"
I said, "I have asked them but they say it is a matter of belief or faith, and it should not be subjected to any logic or philosophy. This has upset me. This has raised the question in me, if what I believe in, is unreasonable and illogical, why should I subject myself to any blind following?
Is God so unjust and cruel to expect man to believe in a doctrine about Himself, which no human brain can ever reasonably conceive? I request you, Sir, to somehow, give me some method of arguing out the possibility of such an existence as the doctrine of Trinity wants us to believe in!"
The Professor smiled and said, "My dear Joseph, suppose you want me to prove by some mathematical formula how water can remain water and at the same time be fire, or how a stone can be a stone and at the same time be water too. How can I do it? I do not think any sensible man on the earth can ever conceive such a possibility.
How the Ever-living God Who being the Ever-living Life itself, can also at the same time be a mortal, that is, be a man to suffer death at the hands of other mortals? And how the same mortal being at the same time could be the absolute immortal God? It is a problem which our priests want us to believe, and we have to merely believe in it, and none has any choice of even questioning the practicability of this inconceivable dogma."
On hearing the answer I asked him, "Then, what about you, Sir? Don't you also believe in it?"
He replied, "It is a matter of my own personal and individual choice and decision. Even if I or the world were to believe in such a doctrine the liability still remains for every believer to answer the question if he or she can prove the doctrine as reasonable or practical phenomena."
So saying this, he took out a booklet from his shelf and placed it before me and said, "Let any one of our priests answer the arguments put forth by the authors of the matters in this small magazine1.
If you promise me that you will not show this magazine to anyone else, you may take it home and go through it and return it to me as soon as you can. But I warn you repeatedly to keep it to yourself."
Having given a copy of the magazine to me he went on saying, "The fact is when God, Whom we believe as One, is an Absolutely One Being in His perfect Unity, it means that God is singularly one in natural essence of His existence, free from any different or variant factors having anything to do with His pure or Absolute Unity to justify His being The Absolute One, owing an indivisible existence, by Himself. Division suggests that the one is not an Absolute One but a compound of some variants and that which is a composed being can never be really one in the true meaning of oneness.
And certainly the one dependent in its existence upon its different components can never be independent in its action, whereas God is the Absolute One, independently Omnipotent in His will and His action.
"Besides how can any three which are three separate beings, with three variations justify their being three separate entities, remain three separately as they are and at the same time by themselves lose their different individual native properties differentiating them from each other, and become conceivably by absolute indivisible one, without the least variation in the essential oneness.
"An Absolute one must be totally independent in its existence, Mr. Joseph, it is impossible to reason out the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The science of mathematics or any other science which any human genius can ever conceive until the end of time can never solve this inconceivable riddle."
He continued, "The only thing is that, we Christians are shut out of the vast sources of knowledge about the truth and of the higher factors in matters of religion which are available outside our own fold, by damning every non-Christian thought as the devil's work. We Christians, Mr. Joseph, in our madness to swell up our ranks have played such a disgraceful roll that a great head like Sir E. Denison Ross had to helplessly disclose the truth about this in his foreword to the translation of the Holy Qur'an by George Sale."
I was amazed to hear the arguments of the Professor who was himself known as a Catholic, and at the same time I was very much encouraged to know that my doubt about the unreasonability of the doctrine of Trinity was something which had made a highly educated and enlightened mind like the Professor of Mathematics also to enquire into it. I was much benefited by the discussion with the Professor for I came to know argument justifying the doubt created in my mind.
My study of the matter in the magazine "Peace-Maker" and the translation of the Holy Qur'an opened my eyes to many great and every important factor that affect human life on earth. Once I visited the Professor in his house and to my further amazement I found him possessing a great amount of literature on Islam.
I asked him, "May I know, Sir, if you have embraced the faith of the Muslims?"
He replied, "It is a question yet to be decided. You do not worry yourself about my personal choice. I, for the time being, want to be known as no other than a Catholic Christian. I will tell you later."
I took the copy of the translation of the Qur'an by George Sale and read the introduction by Sir E. Denison Ross. The Introduction needs to be read with special attention. Sir Ross says:
For many centuries the acquaintance which the majority of Europeans possessed of Muhammadanism was based almost entirely on distorted reports of fanatical Christians which led to the dissemination of a multitude of gross calumnies. What was good in Muhammadanism was entirely ignored, and what was not good, in the eyes of Europe, was exaggerated or misinterpreted.
. . . the Unity of God and that the simplicity of his [Muhammad's] creed was probably a more potent factor in the spread of Islam than the sword of the Ghazi's.2
This statement of the great Christian scholar of international repute, created in me the thirst to know the original teachings of Islam, especially about the Islamic conception of God.
About four years passed away and by this time I knew the contents of the Qur'an. Many things had arrested my special attention. I had discussed many doubtful points with the Professor whom I found to have read the Qur'an several times with a better and more critical view.
I was now longing to meet some Muslim scholar to cross-examine him about certain points about the Islamic faith.
Once I thought of Hinduism but what I daily see with my own eyes - the curses of untouchability and the reservation of the caste system prevalent before us, and besides everything else, the idol worship and the observance of innumerable rituals - did not prompt me to take up any enquiry into the tenets, the practice of which manifested in the daily life of the millions of the Hindus living with us.
I could never understand the superiority exclusively and arbitrarily claimed for the members of certain castes, simply because they had accidentally been born in those folds. I had seen with my own eyes how the people belonging to certain castes are imagined as lower in the society and are treated as the untouchables, not allowed even to enter into the Hindu temples.
I had seen these poor souls being prohibited even to draw drinking water from the wells reserved for the superior classes. I met several Brahmin pandits but none of them could answer any of my objections against the several Hindu theories regarding the authorities of the hundreds of gods and goddesses and the observance of the rituals which did not appeal to me in the least.
The havoc in the social life played by Hinduism, dividing humanity into castes and sub-castes and the unreasonable superiority of one caste over the other, is itself so much repulsive that none would like to take any trouble of executing any studies about the doctrines of the faith.
While resenting against the caste system and the sectarian segregation in the Hindu folds, I was automatically reminded of the similar restrictions among we Christians. The caste hatred has been sunk so deep in the minds of the Hindus that even after entering Christianity they are unable to overcome the complex. I asked to myself.
" Why criticize other people and their belief when the religion which I myself belong to, has in it the sectarian segregation of the Brahmin Christians, the Naidu Christians, the Chuckli Christians and the similar many sectarian differences, having a full sway over the social order?
Are not churches in Christendom owned exclusively for the members of particular sects? Are there not churches belonging to a particular sect which cannot be used by the people of the other different sect? Has not Christianity failed to unite mankind into one human society? Did Jesus mean all these differences and dissensions which we the Christians have innovated? Is it not then that we are far away from the original objects of the mission of Jesus Christ?"
Against the irreconcilable differences and the innumerable dissensions of the social order in the folds of Hinduism and Christianity, I was very much impressed by the genuine and the real brotherhood practiced day and night among the Muslims. I found that a Muslim mosque is the mosque belonging to everyone who calls himself a Muslim and that there is no reservation of seats in the mosque or any sectarian segregation in any of the Muslim place of worship.
I saw with my own eyes, Muslim of all ranks, all social and economic status, of different complexions, of various nationalities, all standing in one row, turning towards one direction, praying to One God, in one language, and immediately after the prayer, shaking hands with each other. Brotherhood or social equality claimed more in theory by the other schools of thought in the world; I found it to be an ever experienced and a living reality in the daily life of the Islamic folds.
One day I was informed by the Professor, who by this time had become an intimate friend of mine, that a Muslim scholar, Mr. S.V. Mir Ahmad Ali, a Lecturer in the government Muhammadan college, Madras, had to deliver some talks in English on the life of the Prophet of Islam in a Hall near the Big Juma Mosque under the auspices of the Muslim Youth Association of Trichinopoly town.
I and my Professor both attended the three talks and met the Lecturer who was an old friend of my Professor. We had a heart to heart talk with the Lecturer about several important topics. The Lecturer presented to me a few more back numbers of the magazine "The Peace-Maker".
During my meeting with the Muslim Lecturer I asked him if he would kindly answer some questions for my own information. He said, "I will most willingly do it".
I put the following questions which he very cheerfully answered, "What proofs have you besides the Qur'an to establish that Muhammad was truly a prophet of God?"
He answered, "Have you your own Bible with you?"
I said, "Yes".
He took the following verses and read them to me one after another:
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethrens, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. (Acts, 3:22-24)
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethrens, like unto me; him shall ye hear. (ibid., 7:37)
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you f or ever. (John, 14:16)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient f or you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (ibid., 16:7)
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: f or he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. (ibid., 16:12-13)
I read the passages which I had already gone through several times before, but this time the perfect confidence with which the Lecturer asked me to read the verses from my own sacred scriptures in support of his claim, threw a new light upon them for me to understand the matter dispassionately. Yet I replied:
"But the prophecy is about the advent of Jesus?"
He smiled and said, "You read the verses again! Does not the verse say that God will raise a Prophet like unto Moses, i.e., he will be a man born of a father and a mother as was born Moses; whereas Jesus was born only of a mother. Besides the Prophet promised by God must be a man like Moses but you yourself call Jesus as the son of God. Moses was a law-giving Prophet and the one like him must also be a law-giver, whereas Jesus was only a law-abider, following the law or the Ten Commandments already introduced through Moses. Besides, one must betray his common sense as well as his learning to say that I and he, two different person, i.e., the First and the Third person mean the same, or that the one who departs prophesying about the advent of someone else, to be one and the same."
The argument was quite reasonable and unbreakable.
Then I asked the Lecturer, "Do you not believe in Jesus as the son of God? Cannot Jesus be God himself in the form of a man?" The Lecturer smiled and very cheerfully replied, "Can there be a son to anyone without a wife, my friend?
Can anyone or you yourself who believes in the sonship of Jesus, at any time sensibly imagine Virgin Mary to have been used by God as a wife to conceive an issue? Let us seek protection of God against any such devilish straying of our minds. Sonship, if used in the Bible, can be only to mean a creature or the one who has received life from God. Otherwise what do you say about Jesus addressing himself as a son of man?
The Son of man is com e eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! (Luke, 7:34)
. . . the Son of man be ashamed, . . . (ibid.,9:26)
Saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, . . . (ibid.,24:7)
. . . the Son of man shall give unto you:. . .
"Jesus addressed God as his father and also as our father which means that God is taken as the father of Jesus as much as He is the father (or the Creator) of anyone of us and hence Jesus' sonship can mean in the sense of a creature of God. The term son of God used by Jesus himself refers to himself as God's servant.
This fact is testified by the verses by which every prophet of God until Adam has been termed the son of God in Luke, 3:23-30, Jesus is called as the son of Joseph and the genealogy of Joseph is traced to Adam and Adam is called the son of God. Read the 38th verse of the same chapter:
Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God."
These ready answers from the Bible created a very deep impression upon my mind about the amount of comparative study the Muslim do and how strong and reasonable they are in their faith in the Unity of God.
One can say that the faith of the Muslim is not a matter of mere blind following of any prescribed belief in unreasonable dogmas, but it is the result of a sincere comparative study of the various schools of thought.
I asked the Lecturer, "Do you Muslims study every other religion before you embrace Islam?"
The Lecturer replied, "No. Even as we remain Muslim, born of Muslim parents, we, have been commanded by God to compare and contrast the truth, i.e., Islam, with every other faith, then own for ourselves a belief or conviction of our own which alone shall be acceptable to God as mere blind following of any particular doctrine, be that from our own parents, will not be of any credit to such a believer.
Read what the Holy Qur'an enjoins upon those who have already professed Islam as their faith merely by heredity."
I asked, "Do you believe in the Holy Bible as a heavenly Book or not?"
In reply to my question the Lecturer requested me to answer the following questions:
1. Is the Bible which is in your hands, the book which Jesus wrote as a scripture revealed by God to be called the book? I had to answer, "No."
2. Did Jesus order or desire at any time in his life to write anything on his behalf? "No."
3. Was this Bible which is in your hands today written during the life time of Jesus? "No."
4. Was this Bible which is in your hands today written immediately after the departure of Jesus? "No."
"Then" he said, "Please read p.17 in The Founder of Christianity and His Religion, published by the Christian Literature Society, Madras. It is said in the book:
The whole Bible contains sixty-six books written by forty different authors over a space of about fifteen centuries.
"It is clearly said in the book that: Jesus Christ himself wrote nothing.
"Oral teaching was for several years – the only means employed in the spread of Christianity. It was for the guidance of those young converts that the earliest writings of the New Testament were composed.
"The same book further discloses that: They were probably written about twenty years after the death of Christ.
“On p.18 it is said:
The Gospels do not give a complete history of the life of Christ, they are rather memories."
I said, "But the Bible is the word of God inspired and written by the disciples of Jesus."
He again smiled and said, "Mr. Joseph, if the Bible is the book of the disciples and of Jesus, how would you account for the difference in the Book, if it is an inspired word of God? Does not the Catholic Bible Duay contain some books which the Protestant version does not own? 1) Paralipomen, 2) Baralipomenon; 1) Esdras, 2) Esdras or Nehemias, Tobias, Judith;
1) Machabees, 2) Machabees.
"Have you read what Mr. Wilson says about the Bible, in his introduction to the Diaglot published by the Watch Tower Society?
If it had not been published by kingly authority it would not now be venerated by English and. American Protestants, as though it had come direct from God.
It has been convicted of containing over 20,000 errors. Nearly 700 Greeks MSS are now known and some of them very ancient whereas the translator of the common version had only the advantage of some eight MSS none of which was earlier than the tenth century.
"Is not the Bible based upon only eight manuscripts whereas there are 700 manuscripts now available? If what is contained in all such manuscripts is also the inspired word of God, why were these manuscripts left away?
In view of all these facts brought to your light, if you still believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God, you may do so but you can't expect the whole world to do it. If you make a serious and an impartial study of the Old and New Testaments, you will find in them the amount of blasphemies which the Jewish mind has fabricated against Lot, David, Noah and Abraham who were the Holy Apostles of God; vis:
And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and w as drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
And Shem and Japheth, took a gannet, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. (Gen., 9:20-23)
"Lot committing adultery with his own daughters; (see Gen. 19:30-38).
“Noah getting over-drunk; (see Gen.,9:21).
“David taking possession of his neighbor’s wife; (see 11 Sam., 11:2-5)."
I asked, "What? Do you Muslims believe in the prophets of God other than Muhammad to be totally sinless and holy?"
He answered me by reciting to me the following verses of the Holy Qur'an:
Say: "(O Muslims!) W e believe in Allah
(God), and in that which has been sent down on us and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the Prophets of their Lord; we make no division between any of them,. . ." (2:136)
The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers ( Muslims); each one believes in Allah and His angles, and in His Books and His Messengers; we make no division between any one of His Messengers. (2:285)
"The above verses of the Holy Qur'an bear clear testimony to the fact that, as one of the fundamentals of his faith, every Muslim has to believe not only in the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, but in all the other prophets as truthful and holy and should not make any distinction between them.
"The following verse of the Holy Qur'an informs us of the fact that prophets were raised by God, among all nations in all parts of the earth:
. . . not a nation there is, but there has passed away in it a warner. (35:24)"
It convinced me that Islam alone is all comprehensive faith which recognizes all other religions and which contains in it a perfectly harmonious integration of all the good found partly in the other religious orders of the world.
The sacred Book of Islam, i.e., the Holy Qur'an, is the final exposition of the Divine Truth in its perfection which was revealed at different times, through the other heavenly scriptures, in parts suiting the various evolutionary levels of conception by the human minds.
The limitation of the human mind of the different ages, did not allow even prophets like Jesus to speak out the whole of the truth. Jesus had to depart with many things yet to be told to his people. Jesus had to tell his people to wait until the advent of the Spirit of Truth to disclose the whole of the truth. (John, 16:12-13)
I was further impressed by the universal aspect of the religion Islam.
Every answer from the Lecturer was with an unchallengeable authority and with an unbreakable argument. I was awakened to differentiate between the genuine truth and the fabrications of falsehood- and to know many new factors to which I was blind all these years.
But I did not know how to reconcile the dawn of true knowledge of truth with my original blind dogmatic belief and my belonging to the Christian faith any longer. I wanted to find out some failure on the part of the Lecturer to answer satisfactorily some questions or the other, so that I might have some excuse, be that even a false one, to maintain my position in the Christian faith.
The Lecturer continued after some time with the question:
"Shall I ask you something if you do not mind answering it for my information?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Do you think Jesus to be a son of God or God himself?"
I said, "Jesus according to the Christian belief is God himself in the form of His son."
He asked, "Can you ever conceive anyone to be the immortal god and at the same time be a mortal (man) to be caught in the hands of other mortals to suffer death?
"Can anything be high and at the same time low, black and at the same time white? Can there be darkness and the same time light? What philosophy is this?"
The Lecturer continued saying:
"Do you ever consider that there is one other question confronting the doctrine of the Trinity which needs to be answered by every Trinitarian that if any three different beings which are three different entities are also at the same time one, with absolute unity in all the perfect sense or meaning of Oneness?
What is the common control which makes them remain three and also be one at one and the same time? If there be any factor of such a wonderful and inconceivable phenomenon causing this amazing effect, then that supreme causative power, which controls the number and the unity, will alone be the Omnipotent God and not any one of the three which are only the controlled components.
"Besides, there arises another problem, the question a believer in the Trinity will have to answer, i.e., as to who is it that controls or determines the splitting of one into only three different others, to be neither more nor less in number?
There must be some cause for this controlled effect, and that the causative factor acting supreme over three will be the Omnipotent God and not any one of the three which will only be the effect of the supreme controlling cause.
"Similarly, will rise the question, what is the causative power which affects the three to be only one when joining together and not divided into any groups of beings? If there be any such cause, that supreme controlling cause will be the Omnipotent God and not any one of the three which will only be the subservient one.
"Under any circumstances no sensible man can ever reasonably believe in any effect whatsoever, without some causative factor affecting it.
"However, the Holy Trinity is only a problematic doctrine created by the Christian Church which no logical reasoning can ever prove true."
I had to helplessly agree to the views of the Lecturer, for I could not reasonably believe in the existence of anything being itself and at the same time being its opposite.
"I would like you, Mr. Joseph," said the
Lecturer, "to ponder a little over the belief that Jesus being God himself or the son of God, was so terrified at the impending crucifixion that he shouted:
"Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?" (My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?) (Math., 27:46)
"What philosophy is that? If Jesus was God himself, does it mean that god was forsaken by God Himself? Can that be god who felt helpless and shouted to be rescued?
“Your Bible itself, Mr. Joseph, reports that the son of God was forsaken by his father (God) in which case the forsaken son automatically and quite naturally forfeits his personal merits as a son and his relationship of being a son to his father. What do you say? Of what profitable use the attachment to a forsaken son can be, Mr. Joseph, please tell me."
I was struck dumb. I did not know what to say and what to do with the faith I already possessed as a staunch Christian.
"Besides," the Lecturer continued, "do you think Jesus to be God himself when he falls down crying, praying to someone else to remove the cup of death by crucifixion?"
I asked, "All right Sir, how do you reconcile the violence used by the Prophet of Islam to his being an Apostle of God?"
Immediately came the reply from the Lecturer, "Please, Mr. Joseph, quote a single instance from the whole of the life history of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) to show that he has ever committed any unprovoked aggression or any single instance of his taking the least initiative in attacking any single soul.
Every expedition of a battle he led or he allowed, was only in self-defense. Had he not defended as he did, today his advent in this world and his teachings about the truth about God which the world has learnt only through his holy mission, would have become some legends of ancient times full of blasphemies for you and for me, only to be read in some story books and thus be deluded by the falsehood for all times. The Bible does not preach self-defense.
The Bible only preaches self-surrender to the extent of handing over everything of one's possession when anything which was in one's hand has been taken away by any aggressor. Does any Christian power follow this? Did Rome, the seat of Catholicism, abide itself by these teachings of the Bible? Did not Rome, with His Holiness the Pope in it, wage an unprovoked aggression against another Christian people of Abyssinia in the last world war?
"Why go to the political history of the Christian nations of Europe? Why not remember the inhuman method employed by the Christendom to spread its faith? Can the world forget the Edict of Milan, recorded at length in all books of the history of the Christian Church?
Not to uproot any evil but in their madness to swell the ranks of the followers of their own established churches, the inhuman atrocities and the brutal conduct of the Christian authorities would need volumes to relate the heinous deeds in all their details. Gibbon has pictured their character and conduct in his famous work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
"`At Minorca,' says Gibbon, `the relics of St. Stephen converted in eight days 540 Jews; with the help, indeed, of some wholesome severities, such as burning the synagogue, driving the obstinate infidels to starve among the rocks, etc.' (vol.II, p.69)
In Alexandria the Jews were expelled from the city, their synagogues appropriated to the use of the church. The account of the Jews who have been plundered, sent naked into banishment, starved, tortured, left to perish in prison, hanged and burnt by the Christians would fill many volumes.
" Gibbon further reports:
" '. . . in almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics without authority and without discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the fairest structures of antiquity still display the ravages of those barbarians who alone had time and inclination to execute such laboricus destruction.' (vol.2, pp.55-56)"
I was ashamed to hear what Gibbon has reported. I had to quietly listen to the records of the disgraceful conduct of the Christians. I, at last, ventured to ask one more question, "There is the doctrine of atonement or expiation of sins of men through the blood of Jesus. Jesus having paid the price of the sins of man, i.e., he who believes in Jesus is cleansed and saved. Have you any such accommodation in Islam?"
The Lecturer smiled and replied, "My friend, the greatest of God's gifts to man is the common sense. If man forfeits it of his own accord, then none can help him.
"First, let me know if this doctrine appeals to reason and common sense. A, for example, a Christian by faith, i.e., a believer in Jesus Christ as his Savior, plunders the house of B and the members of B's family. Does sense or logic agree to A being let off unpunished by any law, particularly the law of the All-just Lord of the universe, simply because A accepts Jesus as his Savior?"
I had to say, "No", because, to say otherwise would mean I forfeit my common sense and go against reasoning.
He continued, "There is one very grave aspect of the doctrine of atonement through the blood of Jesus, i.e., when we pay for a thing, the thing becomes our own and the previous owner of the thing forfeits his entire claim over it for the price he has already received. Is it not?"
I said, "Yes."
Then he said, "If the sins of man have been paid for, God has no right to punish any sinner. Every sinner who merely believes in Jesus would be free to do anything in the world which his brutal passion dictates him to do, for God his Lord has no right whatsoever even to question any sinner, for Jesus has met the cost of all his sins.
Can this ever be sensible logic or common sense? Can this doctrine help life on earth to continue for one moment in peace and security?"
He continued, "Please remember, Islam wants every individual to be kept bound by his being answerable with his individual responsibility to virtue against vice, in the interest of his own individual life as well as the interest of the collective life in this world, himself as a member of not only the human race but also of the creation of the Lord as a whole.
Islam continuously invites and encourages man towards righteousness with the promise of the blissful life in the hereinafter and repeatedly warns him against vice and the consequent chastisement from the All just Lord. The Holy Qur'an repeatedly warns saying:
And be on your guard against a day when one soul shall not avail another in the least, neither shall intercession on its behalf be accepted nor shall any compensation be taken from it, nor shall they be helped. (2:48)
Whoever goes aright, for his own soul does he go aright; and whoever goes astray, to its detriment only does he go astray; nor can the bearer of a burden bear the burden of another, nor do We chastise until We raise an apostle. (17:15)
O you men! surely We have created you of a male and female, and made you tribes and families that you m ay k now each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); surely Allah is knowing, Aware. (49:13)
" While threatening man with grievous punishment in recompense for his evils, the Holy Qur'an discloses also the infinite mercy of the All-merciful Lord Who does not want man, however much a sinner the individual be, to be totally dejected or hopeless of the merciful pardon from Him.
The only condition for the pardon he needs, being inner's repentance against his vices, with his intention of amending his conduct in the future, and turning wholeheartedly to obedience and gratitude to the All-merciful Lord for His infinite Grace.
"For goodness sake, tell me, Mr. Joseph, which do you think is reasonable and sensible, either making man intoxicated and careless against sinning, i.e., making him unreasonably confident of the price of his sins as has already been paid by someone or alerting with his commitment to virtue against vice, i.e., keeping him warned of the natural consequence of getting punished by the All-just Lord, for any misconduct or disobedience?"
I felt that I had that day understood the hollowness of the doctrine of atonement upon which is built the whole edifice of the Christian faith. The divine mercy of the Lord dawned upon my heart, a new light of the divine guidance.
I thanked God for liberating me from the clutches of the grossly misleading dogmatic doctrine and leading me to Islam which I have myself found through an impartial enquiry that it is the right and the straight royal road to salvation which the All-merciful Lord Himself has shown man through this Last Apostle Muhammad, may peace be on him and his divinely chosen descendants.
When I disclosed my acceptance of the true arguments advanced by the Lecturer and thanked him, he told me:
“Mr. Joseph, you must thank God for blessing you with the fulfillment of His merciful promise to every sincere seeker of truth!
"The All-merciful Lord by His infinite mercy has fulfilled His merciful promise to give mankind the everlasting guidance through the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) who would abide in his guidance for all times. (John, 14:16)
"In Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) was fulfilled the divine promise for the Prophet, and the promise of the Lord to raise Twelve Princes in the seed of Ishmael was fulfilled in God's raising the Twelve Holy Imams in the family of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) who is the divinely chosen issue of Ishmael.
And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall beget, and I will make him a great nation. (Gen.,17:20)
"All these Holy Imams were of the purest character and of an undoubtedly godly conduct and though they never received any education from any other mortal in this world, all of them, like the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny), were the wonderful stores and the divinely caused fountain-heads of knowledge to enlighten the world with the true knowledge about the Lord of the Universe.
"Eleven of these Twelve divinely commissioned Imams or Guides lived as the perfect models of pure humanity in complete resignation to the Divine Will and all of them were martyred.
If anyone wants to see a perfect model of a man surrendering his all, most willingly suffering the worst and the most painful afflictions in the way of the Lord offering the sacrifice of even his six months old baby son, and even his severed head glorifying the Lord from upon the point of the lance on which it was raised after it was severed, one must see the Holy Imam Husayn at Karbala'.
The world will find Husayn not shouting `Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani', or desiring in the least the removal of the cup of death, but drinking it cheerfully, glorifying the Lord in his last thanks- giving prayers while he was being butchered in the worst heartless way.
"As the promise of God to give mankind a prophet to abide forever has been recorded in the Old Testament, this great sacrifice has also been prophesied in Jeremiah:
For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: f or the Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. (46:10)"
After coming across so many sane and unbreakable arguments against the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and also about many other fundamentals of the Christian belief, I only wondered how such an unreasonable faith could attract such a huge number of people in the world.
Once I found my father returning home very happy and immediately as he arrived he called me and said: “You will be glad to know my dear son that, today I got hundred and nine souls into our fold. At the baptism of such a big number in one day the Rev. Father, the chief of our mission praised my services very much and has increased my salary as well as my travelling allowance and has awarded me with a token reward of Rs.109/- corresponding to the number baptized through my efforts."
I asked, "Who are they, father, who were baptized today?"
The reply was, "They are from five surrounding villages. There are men, women and children, hundred and nine souls together."
I asked, "Are they all educated?"
The reply was, "No. They are the poor people of the cheries (slums). They are only labors in the paddy fields of their villages."
I asked if they have understood fully their undertaking as converts to the Christian faith. "Will every one of them stand any cross examination against their decision to leave the folds they were in, and their joining the Christian belief?"
The reply was, "What do you mean? I told you they are all uneducated poor illiterate labors from the slums. The group consists of men, women and children. Now, I will have to go there every day and coach them up in the doctrine of our faith."
On hearing this I smiled, and seeing me smiling, my father asked, "Why do you smile, Joseph? What is the matter?"
I said, "Nothing father! I do not see in this mass conversion, any matter of pride or pleasure which any true religion or any genuine or reasonable faith can claim for itself, for it is nothing but exploiting the illiteracy and ignorance of the poor laborers. It is leading the mentally blind ones into something which they neither know nor recognize.
Do you think, father, that any sensible man can reasonably take pride in getting some illiterate men, women and children to accept his own ideals and justifiably claim the least merit or value to his thoughts?
“While the entry into a faith like Islam, is effected only after a detailed study and enquiry by the learned ones with perfect conviction. We Christians pride over our success in swelling up our ranks by mass conversions of illiterate labors, which, by circumstances, are forced to accept the Christian doctrine without knowing what they do is right or wrong.
An ignorant mind is like a blank sheet: one can draw upon it whatever ones fancy chooses and once the inscription is made to be settled upon such raw material, any artist can pride over the plate having any particular design of his own.
If we today, to win the sympathy of the ignorant masses, boast before our illiterate converts, of our humility and self-sacrifices in the cause of the spread of our faith, will the outer world also forget the Edict of Milan, father, and will all, the records of the history of the brutal outrages that Christendom committed against the Jews, in its own passionate eagerness and anxiety to swell its ranks, all together totally vanish?"
I continued, "If you kindly permit me, father, I would like to know from you if this Bible in your hands is to be merely read, memorized and preached to the others or it is to be acted upon in our daily life?
If it is to be acted upon, will you kindly show me, father, if the Christian world could ever practice the principle of turning the other cheek also if one is already smitten? Could any sincere Christian till now, give away his shirt when his coat was taken away? Will you, father, surrender our whole house if anybody invades our residence and takes possession of any of the rooms in this premises?
If the Christian powers of the world really believe in this doctrine of self-surrender, why do they maintain their military and police forces? Kindly tell me, father, if there is any earthly use of merely believing in any golden ideals which can only adorn the pages of some book and which can only be preached but never practiced. Why should we not reasonably accept the doctrine of self-defense taught by Islam, and the principle of pardoning our offenders if they are repentant and amending their conduct?
"For goodness sake let me know, father, how can three different ones at the same time be three as well as an absolute one, both numerically and also in the essential nature of perfect unity?
"On what reasonable grounds can the one who is forsaken by God, be god himself and if Jesus is to be believed as the son of God what claim to the relationship with his father can a forsaken son have?
“What right has Christendom to claim any truth in it when its spread was caused by the inhuman atrocities committed by the Christian forces against the Jews which conduct of the
brutal outrages committed in the holy name of Christ, has been fully reported even by the Christian authorities on Edict of Milan and by the world renowned Christian scholar Gibbon in his famous work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
"The doctrine of atonement through the blood of Christ, will naturally attract those sinners who have sinned and who do not want to give up sinning under the protection of the doctrine that the price of their sins has already been paid away, and however much worst sinners they themselves choose to be, they will not in the least be chastised for their heinous crimes, for, after Jesus having paid away for the sins of man, God must have forfeited His claim to punish the sinners thereafter.
"There are many such things, father, which need a dispassionate study and an impartial judgement.
"I tell you, father, that whatever be the consequences and whatever misfortune may afflict me, 1, as one, have decided not to sell away or forfeit my conscience and common sense to the belief in such unreasonable dogmatic doctrines.
I have embraced Islam, and if you do not get angry with me and kindly allow me to explain to you the details of my enquiries, I will do it whenever am wanted to do so. I do not like any thought or belief of mine to be swallowed by anyone by force, for the religion Islam, which I now openly declare to have embraced, enjoins that there shall not be any compulsion in the matter of faith as the truth has been revealed against falsehood."
To my utter surprise I found my fatherfully attentive to my exposing my personal views and convictions; and at the end he said:
"Son! Do not think that your father is a fool. I have been occasionally confronted with such ideas during my life whenever I had the occasion of discussing religion with my Muslim friends. But today the sincerity and the boldness with which you expose your own convictions make me bold to decide about the matter. I shall tell you later but for God's sake keep this matter strictly confined to you. Otherwise, be sure we will be thrown out into the street as destitute."
A few days later my father had a long talk and he decided to declare himself a Muslim. The details of our sufferings and the social persecution we had to pass through are a history by themselves.
I, now, for the information and guidance of every seeker of truth, openly declare the actual findings of my sincere enquiry that Islam is not only the last of the mighty religions which had revolutionized the world and changed the destinies of nations, but it is also the perfect and all-inclusive faith which contains in itself all the good, found partly in all other religions which had preceded it.
One of the most distinguishing and striking characteristics of Islam is that, it requires of its followers to believe that all the religions of the world that preceded it, were revealed by God for the respective people of those ages. It is one of the fundamentals of this faith that its followers must believe in all the prophets who were sent into the world before the holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, as truthful and sinless.
Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, is the name of the Holy Prophet through whom this all comprehensive faith was revealed in its complete or perfect form and meaning, for humanity as a whole for all times. It is the West that named this faith as Mohammedanism on the fashion of Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.
Otherwise, the name of this religious order is already given in its book the Holy Qur'an as ISLAM, as quite opposed to the method of naming the order after its founder. The founder of Islam himself is called a MUSLIM as any other believer. As the various prophets preached this same truth among different nations at different times in different languages, every apostle of God is spoken of in the Holy Qur'an as a Muslim.
Thus, I have found, beyond all doubts that Islam is the religion which humanity needs for its progress in all spheres or aspects of its material as well as spiritual life, to earn salvation in the end.
Therefore, a true Muslim is one who believes in all the Prophets of God as truthful, and all the heavenly books as the true and the Holy word of God whereas:
1. A Jew (an Israelite) believes only in prophets of Israel and their own books.
2. A Buddhist believes only in Lord Buddha and in his sayings.
3. A Christian believes only in Jesus Christ and in a lesser degree in prophets of Israel and the books of the Christian Church.
4. A Hindu believes only in the sages that appeared in India mentioned in the Vedas.
5. A Confucianist believes only in Confucius and his teachings.
6. A Zoroastrian believes only in Zoroaster and his teachings. Now mark the differences:
A Muslim has to believe in all the Prophets as truthful and sinless and their holy books as the true word of God, revealed for the people and for the age. He also believes in Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, as the Last of the Apostles of God and his book, the Holy Qur'an as the Last of the Revealed Word of God to abide forever.
Therefore, the identification of a true Muslim is that:
1. He is an Israelite for he believes in the Ten Commandments and the law of retribution with its legitimate bounds.
2. He is a follower of Christ in doing away with all the rituals of the Pharisees, and in denouncing their hypocritical observances. He observes the laws of mercy promulgated on the Mount Olive when it leads to reclamation. His object is reformation through mercy or retribution as the case may be.
3. He is an Aryan Hindu in doing away with the images worshipped in place of God.
4. He is a Sanatan Dharimic in paying respects to all godly men and creeds.
5. He is a Buddhist in preaching Nirvana. Self-effacement as the key of salvation.
6. He is a Unitarian in establishing the Unity of God and the brotherhood of men.
In short, he (a Muslim) embraces, through the Holy Qur'an, every beauty in every religion, and turns his face from that which has been added to the religion of God by man, and that is Islam.
With the truth sufficiently explained, will not every one of us love it, or will not every one of us embrace it?
This solemn declaration I make just to be helpful to those who sincerely desire to know the Truth which they need for themselves to live the life in this world to reach the blissful destination which is called salvation.
None can ever deny that there can never be any other way to please God than to completely surrendering ourselves to His will, an act which is called ISLAM.
Thus, the promise of the Lord to Abraham's seed was fulfilled in the advent and success of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, in establishing the Truth for all times:
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. (Acts, 3:22-25)
I once again make it openly known that this true and sincere declaration of some facts is meant not for anyone who does not like to know anything against his fixed belief, but for those free thinkers who are seriously busy in search for truth and are ready to acknowledge it irrespective of the quarter or the agency through which it manifests.
Let me conclude with my sincerest thanks and gratitude to the All-merciful Lord for I have realized the fulfilment of His merciful promise to guide aright those who sincerely seek the truth.