In order to understand divine religions, it is essential to comprehend a certain unalterable practice of God. This practice is nothing but a divine scheme devised and executed by God either through natural disasters or through His messengers and their followers and as such does not relate to the shari‘ah (divine law) revealed by Him. Simply put, it is: God, through natural disasters or through His messengers, punishes and humiliates in this very world their foremost and direct addressees who deliberately deny the truth communicated to them by their respective messenger, and rewards in this very world those among them who adhere to the truth. In the case when this humiliation takes place through the messengers and their followers, they act as nothing but divine weapons. As such, this divine practice must not be undertaken by human beings on their own. It is God’s retribution carried out by God Himself. The purpose of this worldly retribution is to make mankind mindful of the most important reality that it tends to forget: reward and punishment in the Hereafter on the basis of a person’s deeds. This reward and punishment, which is to take place in the Hereafter, is substantiated visually by the Almighty through the agency of His messengers so that mankind may always remain heedful of this reality. The court of justice which will be set up for every person on the Day of Judgement was set up for the nations of messengers in this world so that the latter could become a visual testimony to the former. To put it another way: before the advent of the greater Day of Judgement, several lesser days of Judgement were brought about in this world in which people were rewarded and punished on the basis of their deeds so that they could become a visual evidence to the judgement that will take place in the Hereafter. The Qur’anic words used are:لِأَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ (4:165) (so that mankind after the coming of these messengers is left with no excuse against the Almighty, (4:165)).
The details of this practice abound in the Qur’an. Although faint references to this divine practice can be found in the works of our previous scholars, Hamid al-Din al-Farahi (1863-1930) was the first person to concretely point out this divine practice. Later, his pupil Amin Ahsan Islahi (1904-1997) consolidated the views of his mentor by providing copious references from the Qur’an in his tafsir Tadabbur-i Qur’an. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (b. 1951) a pupil of Islahi, has developed the views of his two illustrious predecessors and has enunciated precise details of this divine practice.
However, many scholars have misread this practice of God; they have regarded it to be a part of the shari‘ah, and as a result think that after the departure of the Prophet (sws), later Muslims too have the right to punish and subjugate people who deny the truth. As a consequence of this misreading, many other erroneous inferences have also resulted. Matters which were to be left to God have been taken up by human beings. In this manner, they are now guilty of inadvertently playing God.
In this short treatise, a study of this divine practice will be conducted in the light of the researches of the above-mentioned scholars.
First, the details of how this divine practice pervaded the preaching missions of the messengers of God shall be put forth.
Second, the details of the last manifestation of this divine practice in the time of Muhammad (sws) shall be presented.
Third, it shall be shown how some directives have been erroneously made part of the Islamic shari‘ah and have in fact resulted from misreading this divine practice of God.
Fourth, relations with non-Muslims shall be explored as a result of the foregoing analysis.
However, before this study is conducted, here are precise statements of this divine practice from the Qur’an.
. A messenger (rasul) is a special cadre among the prophets of God.
.The truth here means that one day each and every person will be held accountable on the basis of his deeds before the Almighty and rewarded or punished accordingly.
.Those who want to study this historical development are advised to look up the following works of these authors: Hamid al-Din al-Farahi,Majmu‘ah tafasir, 1st ed. (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), 465-477; Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 8 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 273; Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Mizan, 4th ed. (Lahore: Al-Mawrid, 2009), 48-49; Ibid., 165-174; Ibid., 534-544; Ibid., 594-601. For brief biographical notes on these scholars, see the Appendix at the end of the book.