Gospel of Peace
|Gospel of Peace (1918)
|Sermon delivered by Khwaja Kamaluddin at the Mosque, Woking, on occasion of the Muslim festival, the Eid-ul-Fitr, July, 1918.|
MAY the Lord of all nations bring to an end this horrible Armageddon, and from its ashes work out a universal and everlasting peace ; not an armed peace as we had before, or a temporary armistice to enable the devil of scientific barbarism to gather force again to extirpate humanity and to devastate the world, but a peace which will consist in the negation of all those sordid and selfish principles of life which from time to time have caused the unsheathing of the sword in the past history of the world. May the Preserver and Sustainer of all humanity bring us a peace with such noble and high principles of conduct that may enable every man to claim liberty and freedom, as his birthright, and to consider every country as his motherland. I mean by peace the establishment of that comfort of body, mind, and soul which religions from God have come from time to time to substantiate on this planet of ours ; a peace which is synonymous with the Kingdom of God, and which has visited us from the days of the Prophets Moses, Jesus, and others, and which found its last shape in the concluding days of our Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them all when all kinds of selfishness were negatived ; when people, inspired with a new sense of humanity, merged their individual consciousness into a cosmic one ; when everything that means " Mine J) was sacrificed at the altar of " Thine " ; when jealous competition and evil rivalry became unknown and gave their place to devotion and sacrifice for the cause of humanity. In order to secure an everlasting peace, the world again needs a wider outlook of humanity which, demolishing all barriers of class, country, or race, may weld once more, as it did in the days of Muhammad (peace be upon him), all the conflicting elements of humanity into one harmonious whole.
Thirteen days more will complete the fourth year of the day which ignited this world-wide conflagration that has not only consumed everything best in humanity, but has brought all that was worst in manj*Q i^e^ur|i|ce. Mtw*hal incarnated himself in the devil or devil in man ; all landmarks of civilization have been demolished and all signposts of humanity have disappeared. Even a Nero should feel ashamed of that desolation which has overtaken rich lands and beautiful cities. One fails even to imagine the horror of that cruel vandalism which knows no distinction between the military and the civilian, which makes no distinction between the battlefield or the hospital whether on land or on sea, which demolishes even the houses of God, and brings those harmless souls to a sudden annihilation who on their penitent knees in a religious house are imploring the loving Father in Heaven to put an end to this manifestation of the devilry.
And this all what an irony of fate ! in the exclusive realms of the Master who came to kill the devil, and who for his gentle teaching has rightly been called the Prince of Peace. Has not the Church got any power to reclaim her strayed flock and spare the world from this terrible fate ? I am afraid not. If the Church was knee-deep in blood in mediaeval days, one could understand on account of the darkest ignorance of those days. But what about the Church of the present day, when culture and theology go hand in hand ? Have we not Jjad to look to Germany in pre-war days for what could be said Best in exposition of religion ? Has not the best of theology, the Dean of St. Paul's said last year, come from the same tde? But how the pulpit from the very same country has been manipulated by the lords of the war ! All pulpit utterances are military sermons and an attempt to justify measures adopted. The simple and unambiguous words of the Master, which were the real gospel of peace, have been distorted and given a wrong interpretation to further war ends. Unfortunately -since the days of the Reformation the clerics have always enslaved the laity. But the Church is all the same everywhere, whether in the East or West. Religion more or less has all over the world been manipulated to help individual and political aims. The wolf in man has always tried to prowl about and pounce on the lamb in the garb of a shepherd. More human blood is said to have been shed in the name of religion by its self-motived votaries than in the name of any other human institution. Is it then surprising to find some advocates of materialism deprecating religion and calling it an institution of garbed cruelty and covered bloodshed, and therefore fit to be stamped out from the pale of humanity ? But have they discovered a better plan and some safer scheme to bring millennium on the earth ? Is not their own philosophy of life the chief cause of what we are suffering from in these terrible days? Is not the same superman of Nietzsche who would have his will executed regardless of consequences to others their ideal ? Is it not the same sordid theory of the survival of the fittest which would not allow the unfit even to breathe on the earth of God, but to subserve to the self-motived interest of the fittest? The Lord of the War with his progeny has come forward in the front to establish his fitness and to bring every one down to his domineering feet. No, theories like these propounded by earthly philosophers will certainly not bring any good to us. Religion, and only religion in its pristine purity, is our salvation ; but not the religion of the Church, whether in the East or in the West. In the case of the latter, the best of her exponents have declared their dissatisfaction with it. Even before the war they did feel the necessity of revising the whole superstructure of the Church of Christ. The war again has shown the hollowness of the system and the various utterances which from time to time have come from within the Church during the last four years simply come to endorse our opinion. Dean Inge looks for the appearance of another prophet to save the situation. Interesting as this statement is, it is not complimentary to the body he belongs to. But the Church is the same wherever we go. What a hopeless outlook and heart-breaking prospect ! But we need not go to this self-constituted warden of religion. Let us go humbly to those Masters of Humanity who received religion of God from God Himself and became His best spokesmen to His creatures, viz. the prophets of the world. Let us sit humbly at the feet of Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, and their descendants. Let us approach Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and other prophets of the world in a true Muslim spirit and accept them as our guide to work out our salvation out of this humanity-killing catastrophe.
And what is the Muslim spirit ? Allow me to enlighten you on the question in the very words of the Qur-an, the Gospel of Islam. The Book, in order to define the Muslim attitude towards the prophets of the world, enjoins me to say the following as the formula of my faith :
" Say : We believe in God, and in what has been sent down to you (Muhammad) and in what has been sent to Abraham, Jacob, Ishmael, Isaac, and their descendants. We believe in what has been given to Moses and Jesus and all the other prophets of the world (raised in any part or corner of it). We (Muslims) make no distinction between prophet and prophet, as we are submissive to Allah, Who has sent them to us."
This is the Muslim attitude, and is it not sufficient to bring conflicts in the province of religion nearer to harmony? A Muslim has to submit to the will of the Most High, and he must go to all His messengers wherever they may be to accept His revelation. Do not think that any man or any tribe or any race is a chosen one of God. All are equally His children. If my Allah knows no distinction in dispensing physical sustenance, He is more impartial in dispensing spiritual nourishment. Go to all these prophets, again I say, and you have the true gospel of life which can only save humanity from this demon of selfishness.
I need not read to you long homilies and sermons on the subject. I would refer you to that noble aim of religious life which has been depicted in one word by all the prophets in different accents and stresses, and that is "to walk humbly with the Lord/' " to imbue ourselves with Divine attributes," as the Prophet of Islam says, and, thus to be able to say in the words of Jesus, " I and my Father are one." By reaching that stage of spirituality we do not become God, nor any one has been so. See those men whom ignorance and credulity has clothed with divinity. Have they not shown ordinary human infirmities? What of you, friends, as some of you have been taken up with the queer notion of being equal to God ? To think so is only blasphemy. When we say, "I and my Father are one," we mean we have killed our own ego, we destroy our own individuality, we subordinate our will to that Highest Will, we conduct ourselves in absolute submission to Him, and in this Muslim (submissive) attitude we become at one with Him. Remember one who said, " I and my Father are one." He also said, " My Father is greater than I " (John 14 : 28). "Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, that is God."
This was the sole object of religion given to us by Jesus and others. But unfortunately some of these great men which through their complete submission to God reached this exalted position, and through their example showed us our capacity and our limit of progress, have been deified. If Jesus said, " I and my Father are one," if Krishna in moments of his ecstasies proclaimed, " I am Bhagwan (God)," and if only a few centuries ago one of the humblest of Muhammad's devotees, in a similar state of mind, startled the world by saying, " Al Haq," " I am the Truth (God)," and showed miracles after miracles sufficient to clothe him with Divinity in the eyes of credulity, these great men did not claim any Divinity for themselves, nor did they refer to any exclusive achievement. They spoke in their representative character as men. Each of them was Son of Man, and they showed the height of spirituality, which is accessible to every child of humanity. The world owes a great obligation to Muhammad, who extricated it from this gross ignorance when he made a world-wide announcement. " God says," he said, " When a man utterly submits himself to Me, I love him ; and when I love him I become his eyes with which he sees, his ears with which he hears, his tongue with which he talks, and his hands with which he holds, and his legs with which he walks."
This is the Gospel which Muhammad brings in the name of Islam to humanity, and in it lies not only the realization of what may be called the highest ideal in religion, but on it, and exclusively on it, as I will show further, depends the salvation of the world for ever from the cruel clutches of this Armageddon and the establishment of everlasting peace all over the world. Through the fulfilment of the law, as he himself admits, Jesus was enabled to say, " I and my Father are one." Through observing fully " Karam-Kand," which means submission to Divine commandment, Krishna could say, " I arn Bhagwan." Muhammad Peace be upon them all not reached the top-most rung of the ladder, on which these Masters were climbing, but from his exalted position he tells you all " And Basharun mislukum," I am only a man like you. You are all physiologically equal ; physical equality postulates spiritual equality, Jesus always styled himself as son of man ; what was achieved by him is open to every other son of man. It has been said of us that we are after the image of God, but image without a soul and spirit. Walk humbly with God as Jesus did and others did, and that image will become animated with the spirit of God Himself. And you will not only be able to give sight to the blind, to give hearing to the deaf, and, in short, tO'give life to the lifeless, but you yourself will be Sons of Peace, and the Kingdom of God will descend upon you. But have you ever tried to realize what limbs and joints are of God, what kind of eye and ear He possesses, with what hands He holds things and dispenses them? If the Holy Prophet of Islam tells you, " Imbue yourself with Divine attributes," let me tell you on his behalf what are the attributes of the Most High. Open the Qur-dn, and at its very outset the following four attributes are given in the beginning words of the opening chapter of the Qur-dn : " Alhamdo Lilldhi Rabbil'ilimin Arrahman Arrahim Mdliki yaumiddin."
Rabbul Alimin the Creator, the Provider, the Sustainer, and the Upbringer of all the worlds, of all the time and ages, and of all the races and nations, Whose bounties and gifts makes no distinction between race and race and come to every one ; Who in His dispensation acts as Rahman, the Beneficent Lord, whose benevolence looks to the needs of every one, even before the need comes into existence. Does not every atom in the universe bear eloquent testimony to these His two grand attributes ? The earth with all its resources, He has made open to all, but it is man who would riot allow his fellow-creatures to have an equal share in it with him. Is it not after all at the bottom of all human trouble ? Had man put his humble foot in the great footprints of God which leave their impressions in bold writs on every span of land, wars would have ended, bloodshed finished, and criminality in all its shades have gone into exile. Be creatures of Rahmdn to others. Let your benevolence go to the need of every one gratuitously, without distinction of country, colour, and class, because so has been your Creator to you in His blessings, and the world would reach its millennium. His third attribute is " Rahim," Who out of His compassion comes with thousandfold reward for every action of man. Put one seed in the ground. You have tilled the ground and watered it properly, your labour cannot go beyond it. Wait, for a few months only, and the blessings of God come in the form of a hundred grains of corn for your one grain. Had the wretched sordidness of man left him to walk humbly with His Lord in this aspect of His Godhood, there would have been no trouble arising from the question of capital and labour. Is not capital sucking the very blood of labour and trying to take his pound of flesh from the bleeding breast of the workman ? The capitalists should have been thankful to God through their actions. Lip gratitudes carry no weight with the Lord. Their gratitude ought to have consisted in paying more to the labourers than they deserve, and in the long run the capitalists would not have been the losers.
But what about the wicked and the culprits? Evil has been as old as humanity. How to deal with them? If they do not lead a godly life, should we keep silent and through these humanitarian principles, as one would say, provide to them a premium on license and wickedness ? I say, " No." Again I say, " Walk humbly with your Lord, Who is ' Maliki Yaumiddi'n,"' the Master of the Day of Requital and of the Day of Judgment. The Book of God, in choosing the word " Mdlik," which means master or owner, has given us a very vivid and interesting insight into the dealing of the Lord with the delinquents. He has not been called here as a judge Who, bound with hard and fast rules of the law, is unable to show mercy to a sinner without taking any compensation for the sin Who, in order to meet the ends of justice and to satisfy His merciful nature as well, looks for sacrifices and arranges vicarious atonements. No, friends, it is not so. This is neither justice nor mercy. Justice, at least, not to one who will have to atone for others ; and mercy with compensation is no mercy, it is only business. Look at the innumerable gifts of God which encompass you all around, which are all undeserved and unmerited. Has He not shown His mercy, without compensation, that He needs it in the matter of remitting my sin ? Think upon the meaning of Malik, i.e. " Owner." He is my Owner, and I, though a sinner, am His own property. Is not an owner deeply interested in the preservation of his property ? Some features of the property He may not like. He will try to reclaim it, but in a way which may not destroy it, and this is what Nature all around bears witness to. Every action which Nature takes for dismemberment of an organism is immediately followed by reconstruction. There is no absolute destruction. Decay and corruption in organization demands the break up of the frame, but this derangement is only for the rearrangement. Autumn comes not to destroy, but to release the trunks of the trees of the refuse and what is unnecessary and to prepare them for fresh life. These are different forms of punishment coming from the hands of God, and they arc quite characteristic of the Being whose interest in the creation is that of an owner in the thing owned. Do punish those who have violated the law, who are the spreaders of wickedness and sin. But not with a view to extirpate them, but with a view to reclaim them to a better order.
You may say that I am dealing with impossibilities, and I am reading to you homilies of a visionary idealist. No, brethren. You are quite capable of showing these Divine morals in your mode of life. They come from a Book which says : " La yukalliffuu yukallifullaha nufsun ilia wus'aha." God never burdens any one beyond the extent of his power. No matter what may be the extent of our sor- didness, no matter how engrossed we may be in our selfish ends, but all of us do exert these morals every day, though of course within limited area We follow the attributes of Rabb, of Rahman, of Rahi'm, and of Malik. We are all or most of us blessed with families, we have children and babies ; do we not provide them with everything they need, do we not nourish them and sustain them ? Yes, we do ; and in a metaphorical sense we are Rabb of our own children. Do we not look to their needs sometimes years before those needs come into existence ? Have we not invested money in property, and in various other forms, to be used by our children when they will reach such and such age, and this all not in an obligatory way but gratuitously ? By doing so we have stepped in the footprints of Rahman. These children, or sometimes your friends, do a little thing to please you, and your reward comes hundredfold, and in doing so you are walking humbly with the Lord, Who is Rahim. And what about the mischievousness of your children? Would you punish them to death? Would you be inimical to them in your admonitions? Now you take a very hard rod, but in its exercise you are very soft, because your interest in them is that of an owner in the thing owned. We simply want a reclamation, and not annihilation. Thus you have acted as a true image of Rabb, Rahman, and Malik, no doubt within a limited area. Extend these limits for the exercise of these Divine morals to those who live beyond the pale of those who are near and dear to you ; and this demand is not an impossibility. All this you do every day when you are inspired with a strong sense of patriotism. Your earnings do go to the nourishment, help, and need of those who can legitimately claim the charity of your patriotism ; and this war at least has been in some sense a blessing. It has actualized all these morals. Look at your magistracy, how lenient they have become with the delinquencies of those who fight for us, because we are interested in the preservation of our forces. Is it not the same " M^liki Yaumiddin " who is guiding the principles of punishment nowadays? What is wanting now is to extend the exercise of these Divine morals beyond the limits of patriotism and bring them to the benefit of those also who do not belong to your race, country, or class ; and this again I say is not impossible. The war has supplied an occasion for the exhibition of these virtues. Have not more than thirty nations joined the cause of the Allies ? You are doing the same to them as you could have done to your own countrymen. Have you not fought for Belgium ? Does not your charity go to the Serbs? Have you not shed your blood for France ? Whatever may be the motive of each nation at the back, but under the emergencies of the moment, more than half the world on one side, and the rest on the other, have sufficiently shown the capability of man to extend his sympathy and fellow-feeling to those belonging to other races, colours, and countries, and thus to some extent man is walking humbly with the Lord in his attributes as Rabb, Rahman, Rahim, and Mdlik. These virtues one may style as virtues that come out of necessity, but try to cultivate them, and make a permanent asset of them for humanity. The present state of society, as the Premier said the other day, is a libel on Jesus ; I say it is a libel on God and all His prophets, including Jesus, In future, the Premier says, every country will be of every man, and the earnings of every one shall go to the need of others. Then the Kingdom of God, I say, will descend on earth, as it did in the days of Muhammad. Angels will hover on earth with their pinions of blessings on us. The earth will see its promised millennium, and we will receive our real heritage, viz. God with man. We will soar on the borders of Divinity ; and beyond that we cannot go. Those who think otherwise are deluded, and what they take for God in some cases is only evolved humanity. Divinity transcends even the limits of metaphor and similes leave apart its actual realization. And even these holy precincts I am speaking about are not opened to the unworthy. The only qualification which enables us to reach Divine borders is to walk humbly with God on the lines of benevolence and charity. Try to be true worshippers of Rabb, Rahmdn, Rahim, and Malik to worship God, as Count Tolstoi says, is to desire what God desires, and He desires universal welfare. Exert yourself for universal welfare, and the door of Divinity will be opened to you. This is the first condition of a godly life ; without it all your meditation and " sacred silence " is illusion. They are helpful, but with this condition precedent.
May God enable us to do so, and relieve the world from the calamity we have been drawn into through the sordid selfishness of man. Let us magnify our God and glorify Him in the words of our Prophet, and I ask my Muslim brethren to join me in saying, " Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar la ilaha Mallah Wallaho Akbar, Wallaho Akbar, Walillah helhamd" "God is great, God is great; there is no deity but Allah. God is great, God is great, and all praise and glory is due to Him".
- Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum (Lucretius, De Rerum Natura).