Saturday March 23 2019 , Rajab 16 1440

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WHAT IS SALVATION?

                                   
               In today’s electronic age it may be an extremely difficult question that to attain complete salvation whether a human being is required to align himself to a particular religious order. In the first glance it appears to be a simple and easily answerable question. However, if one thinks about it carefully taking into account the cultures and customs of various religions this becomes an extremely complicated question. To our utmost dismay none of these religions or religious sects has comprehensible answer to accomplish the goal of attaining total and complete salvation, for which human beings from unmemorable times has a burning desire and many have tried with their utmost passion to achieve. Let alone they cannot come to reach a common meaning of salvation.

          For argument sake if every one would ascertain that his sect is true to allow one to attain complete salvation, then how would decide whose proclamation is correct. If we assume this argument to be true, every one should be content and the world will remain divided into several thousand religious orders and groups. However, if we look around ourselves everyone thinks his sect is the true sect and is following the religion of God and is near to God. And one can attain through following the culture, custom, and way of life one can achieve salvation. Unfortunately, however, no one seems to be content. This means that this complicated question leads us to another complicated question. How does one decide the meaning of salvation and how to attain salvation? These questions are universal and apply to all religious orders. Therefore, the answer to these questions must be acceptable to all religions. In other words, salvation to each and every human being, without religious boundaries, should be similar. If I consider something as salvation, can this be true to followers of other religions? In other words, can I live my whole life with different religious concepts and will have the same salvation as my neighbor? I think I have an asked an important question. If we consider the question in the light of the teachings of different contemporary religions and the human quest from unmemorable times, then it may be possible to answer this question. All human beings have always been drawn towards achieving salvation. Whether (s)he has been trying or have attained salvation. Every one has asked at least once in his/her life time “what is complete salvation”? 

 

          Gautama Buddha when asked about salvation replied “human salvation depends upon giving away all his/her desires (worldly) totally and whole heartedly”. Accordingly, salvation of human soul means that one has to overcome all his/her desires to achieve total and complete control over his/her needs. Similarly, all religions have different answers. The prophets of Allah (PBUT), Imam (AS), or different spiritual personalities (RA) who attained complete salvation and made it public through their sermons and sayings. In this situation there arises another question. Is it possible for a person to understand the correct and exact meaning of their message, sermon, or saying without experiencing the same salvation as they did? If yes, then it appears that human salvation is dependent upon mere sermons and saying without following their teachings. If this is true, then what about all those great spiritual personalities who researched and tried all their life to get just a glimpse of the salvation. If sermons and sayings are enough for attaining salvation, then does the desire to experience mean anything? If we read and understand the teachings of different religions, we may be able to answer this question and understand the true meaning of salvation.

 

          As I discussed before, religious history is evolutionary. The reason, I say this is if we look into the history of life of Hazrath Ibrahim (AS), we realize that his prophetic life was not very striking. When he went against Nimrod to declare oneness of Allah, he was performing his duty as a prophet. But what was remarkable in his life was his agony and his quest to see Allah without any veil. Similarly, the great prophet of Israelites, Prophet Moosa’s (AS) life was although very demanding in the sense that with in a short period of time he has to help all the children of Israel from the Pharaoh, but was not very remarkable. What was striking in his life is, according to Quran, his continuous desire to see Allah. Finally he asks Allah the question “Can I see you or Arini” and the answer of Allah “no you may not or Lan tarani”. At this moment he became the Prophet who spoke with Allah “Kaleem-ullah”. Here Moosa’s (AS) personality completely revolutionizes and all the material things in life become non-existent. The lives of the above Prophets (PBUT) in Quran describe an evolutionary revolution in religious history. We see the completion of this evolutionary revolution in the life of Syedna Mohammed Mustafa (SAS). If we study the life of Hazrath Mohammed Mustafa (SAS) we may be able to recognize that neither were the war of Gazwa and the fall of Mecca were important nor was his Hijrat, which are regarded as turning points in the Islamic history. The fall of the infidels of Quraish was not an important part of his life nor were the changes he brought about in the society, culture, or economy were as remarkable because human psychology cannot be fulfilled by only economic and societal evolution. It needs more than material satisfaction. It requires something that gives sustenance to his soul. Humans desire to recognize their soul, talk to their soul, and understand the sustenance of life. If we see the life of Prophet Mohammed (SAS) in this light, we then recognize that the most important and the most remarkable moment of his life was his Ascension to the seven heavens or “Meraj”. Meraj completely transformed his (SAS) personality and brought about a revolutionary change. It is important to recognize here the discussion of various religious scholars whether Meraj was his (SAS) bodily journey or the journey of his (SAS) soul is immaterial. Their outlook is totally dependent upon space, time, and matter. If we look into this phase of Prophet Mohammed’s (SAS) life with an evolutionary view, irrespective of whether Meraj was his bodily journey or journey of his soul, this becomes the most remarkable and important part of his (SAS) life and the most important message to humanity irrespective of all religious boundaries. Therefore, the most important part of human existence becomes the “Vision of Allah” and this can be truly construed as the human salvation. Vision of Allah is the only recognizable function a human being is born for, for which humans of all generations have strived for, and without which human existence becomes totally immaterial.

 

         Taking all the above discussion to the initial question, if we define and come to a final conclusion on the meaning of salvation and whether the religious boundaries are essential to attain this salvation, then the answer becomes obvious. However, if the discussion revolves around the question of religious boundaries and aligning one self to a particular religious thought then we can achieve the total and complete salvation by following the rules and guidelines of the particular religious doctrine and by living by the cultural, economic, and societal laws and regulations of the religious sect. It is possible that we can make a better society according to the Quranic revelations which will include all the cultural restrictions. However, it is possible that with all the goodness of this culture alone we may not achieve the spiritual salvation as desired by Ibrahim (AS) and Moosa (AS), and as achieved by Hazrath Mohammed Mustafa (SAS). I view the cultural goodness of a society and spiritual salvation as two different entities. The reason being one who has achieved total spiritual salvation is at the uppermost realm of the spiritual level and the experiences of this individual will be better than any other. This individual would have experienced the same level of salvation as the experiences of the holy prophets (PBUT). They (PBUT), after attaining the utmost salvation, were successful in bringing about the cultural revolutions for the betterment of the society. If we rationalize our thinking towards this thought then we will realize that the biggest successes that were achieved by the prophets (PBUT) were dependent upon their level of success in achieving the salvation. Attaining this total salvation is the highest point of Islam. Unfortunately, Islam was and is lost in history, wars, politics, and attaining a successful worldly life. These changes in Islamic thought brought its downfall where there were and are no worldly gains nor were and are any spiritual improvements. The Islamic society was degraded to an extent that Hazrath Mehdi (AS) said “his arrival came at a time when Islam had lost all its meaning and what was left was only culture and falsehood”.

 

         In view of this discussion, when Immamuna Mehdi (AS) revived Islam and Quranic teachings and presented it to the humanity, he revolutionized the spiritual thinking of all human beings. His call was not just towards the followers of Islam, but his call was for all humanity. In his revolutionized call towards Islam he clearly defined “faith as nothing but God”. this was because of the fact that he presented the extreme burning desire of all human beings and the experiences of the prophets of Allah (PBUT) towards attaining “Vision of Allah” as the right of every human being not just a privilege of few. He (PBUH) described this desire as obligatory on all human beings and said no human being can achieve salvation without “Vision of Allah”. Until one attains salvation, one cannot achieve the highest order of religion. From his message of true oneness of Allah and true salvation, I think all laws governing the religious boundaries both religious and cultural were broken and salvation of human race was made dependent upon attaining the highest spiritual experience. This point can be considered as the highest point of all religions. The true message of Islam, attaining the highest spiritual experience can be confirmed by the Quranic verse:
 
“Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve."                                                                         Holy Qur'an- Cow: 62

 For this reason in the present day world the relevance of the teachings of Imamuna (AS) can bring humans to their true soul and humans and understand the true meanings of Quran. He (PBUH) not only explained the teachings and meanings of Quran but also brought together the teachings of all holy books and revelations of Allah. He described the agony of Ibrahim (AS), the answer of Allah to Moosa (AS), and the Ascension of Mohammed Mustafa (SAS) as the birth right of every human being. Hazrath Imamuna Mehdi (AS)’s explanation of the holy books brought all human beings on the same platform. For the first time in the history of religions Imamuna Mehdi (AS) considered every human being as a spiritual being. His (PBUH) message integrated all humans irrespective of color, caste, and religious beliefs. He defied the segregated laws of religions and as his duty entails, he (PBUH) performed all these tasks through the laws of Quran. He (PBUH) described that the segregated laws of religions were due to ignorance of religious laws and teachings. Human beings had not achieved spiritual personality until his advent. By his open and unhindered call to humanity that “your salvation totally depends on the fact that whether you have achieved vision of Allah with your naked eyes or how noble your desire is to see Allah”, he (PBUH) gave spirituality to human beings. This was not defiance of the segregated laws, but this was path towards the birth right of all human beings. The desire to achieve salvation thus becomes obligatory on all human beings. The tit-é-tat of the religious scholars that not all human beings can achieve this noblest and highest spiritual state becomes immaterial. If the goal of every human being becomes the achievement of this noblest and highest spiritual state is not recognized, then betterment of a religion and a better religious cultural society becomes highly improbable. Therefore, it is imperative that the ultimate goal of human beings and religions cannot be separated. This was the reason why Imamuna Mehdi (AS) said “religion remained only in nympholepts (Majzoobs)”. If salvation was not possible, then the burning desire and utmost passion of human beings from unmemorable times become meaningless. Psychologically speaking every human heart will desire something for which he works hard to achieve. Therefore, salvation can be achieved and is not impossible.


          (Couplet) Your heart is not dead, let it revive.

          Religious history and psychological research demonstrate that human heart was never devoid of desires. Therefore, the highest and noblest desire and goal of human spirituality will be his desire to achieve salvation similar to the agony of Ibrahim (AS), the anxiety or writhe of Moosa (AS), and the ascension of Mohammed Mustafa (SAS). Something which was once a desire and a question became reality in the life of Mohammed Mustafa (SAS). The spiritual desire of one prophet and the questions of another prophet become reachable in the life of the last prophet (PBUT). Mohammed Mustafa (SAS) roamed through thick and thin, forests and deserts until his desire becomes unbearable. To unveil this secrecy, Hazrath Imamnuna Mehdi (AS) said “I have brought the religion of researchers, thinkers, and those who have seen”.

         
Consider the quranic verse: “Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swineflesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been killed by (the goring of) horns, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which ye make lawful (by the death-stroke), and that which hath been immolated unto idols. And (forbidden is it) that ye swear by the divining arrows. This is an abomination. This day are those who disbelieve in despair of (ever harming) your religions; so fear them not, fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al-Islam. Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin: (for him) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful Table: 3” not in view of translations and commentaries, but in the light of faith. If we do not possess this light, then no translation or commentary will guide us in understanding Quran. This verse in the light of faith is self explanatory and means that the passion and desire of all previous prophets (PBUT) was achieved in the life of Hazrath Syedna Mohammed Mustafa (SAS). This achievement was the true meaning of perfection of religion. Quran gave meaning and purpose to the passion and burning desire of all previous prophets (PBUT) and showed us the path towards reaching the complete and total salvation. After the advent of Mehdi (AS) this passion and desire became the right of every human being and achieving this goal becomes obligatory on all human beings. For this reason, I believe that completion of faith in this verse did not mean completion of cultural, economic, or legitimate (sharayi) laws. Completion of faith in my opinion is not completion of laws governing way of worldly life but achieving the utmost desire, the desire of salvation, the passion to see Allah in this world, and the trials towards achieving this goal. Completion of faith is the path to follow towards achieving this highest goal in life. Quran made this possible and this was made obligatory through Imamuna (AS). This also made distinction in salvation of different human beings. Every human being may not achieve the same salvation. If my salvation or my goal in life is to see Allah, this may not be true for another individual. When humans are as different from one another in terms of external features, then how can every one’s salvation will be similar. If one’s goal in life is dependent upon following the religious laws “Jurisprudence (Fiqah) and Legitimacy (Shareeyat)”, then he may attain salvation by following the laws according to a religious doctrine. In this case the goal is not achieving the complete salvation but a lower level of salvation. However, if another person’s goal is to reach beyond the external cultural laws of a religious sect or religious doctrine and he desires to achieve complete salvation, then his goal is of the highest order of religious following.


          In this situation the meaning of salvation becomes completely different. For this person, just following the cultural, economic, and societal laws or following a religious doctrine is not enough. His soul cannot be satisfied by a religious doctrine or jurisprudence but he makes these laws as stepping stones towards achieving his bigger goal. Based on the above discussion, I think in reality human salvation is dependent upon achieving the highest order of salvation that is the desire to see Allah. This desire cannot be restricted to the followers of one religion or some human beings. This has been and will remain the last supreme, and the final goal of every human being. How much one is successful in achieving his goal will depend upon his desire and his willingness to work hard towards the goal.


AFTER WORDS

The teachings of Imamuna Mehdi (AS) were not just for his followers, but the popularity and acceptance of his practical and just teachings can be demonstrated by the following:                                                    
                                                     
 *Maulavi Waheeduddin Khan, Editor of Ar-risala writes “just acceptance of Allah is not total faith but nearness to Allah and the path or desire to know HIM is complete faith” Ar-Risala, April 1986.

*Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) when asked what Nirvana (salvation) is, he replied “until one sees God with his own eyes, his nirvana is not possible”. When asked how a human being can see his God, he replied “a human being can see his God by undivided love and passion” (page 248).


You can find scores of such examples but for brevity only two examples are shown and the reason for these examples is to show that the teachings of Imamuna Mehdi (AS) do not belong to one community but they are applied to all human beings without any religious boundaries. 

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