Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth
by Mirza Tahir Ahmad (1928-2008)
Published 1998 by Islam International publications Ltd, UK.
This writing by the Supreme Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (since 1965 after his elder brother died) is dedicated to his grandfather, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) which came out of the Indian Punjab, in Qadian.
This founder seems to have had a spiritual experience which, on his sharing, has been interpreted as a claim to be the last prophet which subverts the like claim made by Muslims in regard to Muhammad himself, thus the exclusion of this community by the mainstream Muslims; also, in regard to Judaism and Christianity, his claim to be the Messiah has upset many in those religions too; plus, being an avatar or re-incarnation of Krishna, which outraged the Hindus. Additionally, the Ahmadiyyas hold to the historical belief that Jesus, for from dying on the cross, left Palestine and journeyed East to finally end his days in Srinagar, dying at age 120 years old.
Following the partition of India many Ahmadis left for Pakistan. They functioned as usual on the fringe of Islam, disconcerting the orthodox Muslims with their views but anyway got on with their proselytising until the time when General Zia ul-Haq took over the government of Pakistan. Then on, there was wholesale persecution of the sect, mosques were burnt down, the followers were killed. Mizra Tahir Ahmed fled to London. Today there are as many as 20 million followers across the world.
The writer attempts to show the Quranic teaching in light of science and I for one have little to say about that because the value I found in Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth lay in its argument of the creationists vs the rationalists and I found myself coming out in favour of the former. Also, the role of revelation in human affairs was of interest.
However, given this definition: Creationism is the religious belief that the universe and life originated “from specific acts of divine creation”, which includes a biblical literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and the rejection of the scientific theory of evolution, I was immediately aware that the matter is not ‘cut and dried’ for me as my view didn’t fit into those words, thus I took interest in the book under study here to better understand the questions.
The big question put was, is all this what we see and live in, a chance world, just billions of lucky recombinations and here we are, or; is there an intelligence behind it all? Many anecdotes are used to portray the author’s point of view that is squarely the latter.
What I found convincing were those examples taken from the natural world, like the relationship of a particular wasp and the fig, the mosquito life-cycle plus new-to-me details of the intricacies of DNA or of blood haemoglobin. It’s not that evolution as per Darwin was faulted, just too limited a view.
Mizra Tahir Ahmad seemed to be saying at a certain moment ‘things’ had got to be planned otherwise the mandatory links would not be engineered (the wasp presupposing the fig and vice versa) and I fully expected a declaration about that moment. But none came.
“The main emphasis of the book though is on the ability of the Quran to correctly discuss all important events of the past, present and future from the beginning of the universe to its ultimate end,” Mizra Tahir Ahmad says. I remain unimpressed by those utterances. It is almost that I would prefer the Quran to be left to the individual readers to see or feel for themselves what the good book is trying to convey, any interpretation by another is already blighted.
He did clarify his view that revelation is totally other worldly, or from God to man, differentiating it from inspiration for example as that stems from the personal, like a higher intuition. I would rather have it that man can meet or be in that ‘intangible everything’ – which others might name God but for me that term is too fraught with varieties of meaning so is better avoided all together – and in effect is it rather, as a drop in the ocean is the ocean albeit but an infinitesimal bit.
This brings due responsibility for mine and your life and actions onto the shoulders of ourselves, Man, the capital M that includes women and that denotes a sufficiency of wisdom that, when applied, sees the cessation of all wars and conflicts and brings tolerance to bear on all matters. The really human is then born. Presently we are still as if coming through the undergrowth.