When one contemplates that leap of faith—conversion from one way of life to another, and in my case, Ahmadiyyat, there are an entire host of things that help a person make the decision. God certainly guided me, but it was the words of the Promised Messiah that, to me, were something that said that they cannot be written by a false pretender.
When it comes to matters of faith, everyone finds something they connect with. For me, I have a lot of memories surrounding the discussion of poignant books which are faith-affirming, and often shattering of worldviews. Books have a powerful way of being able to take you out of your daily setting, beyond the here and now. They can transport your mind across space and time – to live in history or perhaps the future.
For me, when I think about what books I connected with during the process of researching about Islam Ahmadiyyat, two specifically come to mind. They are the Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam and Jesus in India, both penned by the Promised Messiah and Promised Reformer of the Age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him).
There is much to say about both and their impact on me. I was fortunate to study these books in a study group not long after I converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat and I learnt significantly from the discussions. When I think of these books or reread parts of them, it transports me back to those study circles, where as a group of young Lajna, we’d discuss deep questions surrounding the meaning of life and what it meant to believe in the Promised Messiah of the Age in an environment where no question was too simple or complex.
In the Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, there are questions about the existence of purpose of our souls; and how our souls need nurturing and protecting as they are the only part of us that are everlasting. If you want to know why you’re here, how to attain spiritual inner peace and how to spiritually progress and the stages of your soul – then this book is where you start that journey.
When speaking on the highest state of the soul, or the “soul at rest” nafse mutma’ina, the Promised Messiah (as) writes:
“This is the stage when the soul of a person being delivered from all weaknesses is filled with spiritual powers and establishes a relationship with God Almighty without Whose support it cannot exist. As water flowing down from a height, on account of its volume and the absence of any obstruction, rushes with great force, in the same way the soul at rest flows towards God. That is indicated by the divine direction to the soul that has found comfort in God to return to its Lord. It undergoes a great transformation in this very life and is bestowed a paradise while still in this world”.
(The Philosophy of Teachings of Islam, Page 7)
I feel, in our age of materialism and social media, that this book is soul-deep in a world of skin-deep. It awakens questions that you perhaps hadn’t thought of and introduces concepts that are beyond the realm of normal daily conversation. If reading it for the first time, I recommend a highlighter and someone to read it with at the same time to discuss it to truly benefit from it.
Jesus in India is equally poignant. It is an enlightening study of the events following Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. It covers the journey to fulfilment of his mission of reuniting the 12 lost tribes of Israel and bringing them back to the truth of Mosaic law and following the ten commandments. It just wouldn’t make sense for Prophet Jesus (as) in his actual body to return as the Messiah as he was a reformer prophet meant for the Israelites; his message did not extend beyond the Israelite people. The role of the Messiah is for the whole world.
This book gives a significant insight in to what happened to Jesus (as) following the events of the Cross, and how he, like every other prophet, has passed away. This begs the question, if he himself would not return, then who is the Messiah (as)? As Ahmadis, we accept the Promised One to be Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), born in Qadian, India. The book, Jesus in India, sheds light on the connection of Jesus (as) and his tomb in Srinagar, Kashmir which exists today.
“I trust that those who read this book will do so carefully, and will not reject, out of prejudice, the truth contained in it. I should like to remind that this is not a cursory and passing investigation; the proofs contained in this book have been made available after a deep and searching inquiry. I pray to God that He may help me in this undertaking and lead me by His special revelation and inspiration to the perfect Light of truth, for all true knowledge and clear perception descend from Him, and only with His leave can it guide human hearts to truth. Amen!”
(Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), 25th April 1899, Qadian, India)
We are living in an age where holding on to faith is like holding burning coal. When we were gifted the roohani khazain, did anyone consider that these “spiritual treasures” will form our building blocks to attaining spiritual peace and clarity?