The rationale for writing the book
Hazrat Mirza published the book Nasim-e-Dawat on February 28, 1903. He wrote the entire book in a mere three weeks. The book was written in response to some of the nefarious activities of the Hindu Aryas of Qadian.
The Arya Samajists (members of the Arya Samaj sect of Hinduism) of Qadian had grown intensely envious of the Islamic missionary work that was underway from Qadian under the aegis of Hazrat Mirza. They decided to hold a public gathering of their own in Qadian, on February 28 and March 1, 1903.
These plans were not objectionable per se, but the Arya Samajists signaled their hostile intent by publishing an abusive announcement onFebruary 7, 1903 titled, “Reply to a Boastful Claim of the Qadiani Pope’s Disciples.” The announcement used such harsh and abusive language direct- ed towards Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Hazrat Mirza and elders of the Ahmadiyya Movement that it appeared no purpose would be served by responding to such vile people. However, under a Divine indication, Hazrat Mirza picked up his pen and wrote Nasim-e- Dawat in response.
At the very outset of the book, Hazrat Mirza had some words ofadvice for members of his Organization:
Before beginning to answer the Arya Samajists, I enjoin my followers to bear patiently all the abusive language which the AryaSamajic writ- ers of the announcements and the articles have, with no other intention than to hurt our feelings, used either of the Holy Prophet, wording in coarse and abusive language their alleged objections against him, or of myself calling me a deceiver, a liar, a defrauder, a traitor, a swindler, and using other scandalous appellations of this sort, or of my followers using of them such base and contemptuous epithets as dogs, swine, asses and monkeys, and calling them maleechh (unclean) and carrion- eaters.
Let them not give way to any excitement at these offensive and scurrilous words but endure them with manly forbearance. I am not unaware of the excitement to which human nature is liable on provo- cation, especially when a man is not only himself abused but also the person whom he considers his prophet and spiritual guide and the leader of his faith, is abused and held up to scorn,and hateful and con- temptuous words are spoken of him. Such abuse is, no doubt, enough to provoke a saint, but I say to you that if you do not bear these contu- melies patiently, in what will lie your superiority over other people? Think not that you alone are thus abused and that the righteous before you were not received in this manner. The world has always borne enmity to and hated every true dispensation which heaven has estab- lished upon earth. Since you are the heirs to truth, it is necessary that the worldshould be at enmity with you. Beware lest you should be car- ried away by passion. Bear every harshness, and answer every abusein mild language and your reward shall be on heaven.
The masterpiece of Nasim-e-Dawat is the section that enunciates the criteria for examining the veracity of a religion. It became necessary to set out the criteria while responding to the criticism of the Arya Samajists because the Hindu Aryas repeatedly asked Muslim converts from Hinduism whether they had read the four Vedas before conversion. Had they read the four Vedas, they asserted, and then compared the Hindu Arya faith with Islam, the converts would have known which of the two religions was true. In response tothis assertion, Hazrat Mirza wrote:
Now as a matter of fact the Hindu converts to Islam, to whom the Arya Samaj alludes, have adopted Islam after making the necessary investi- gation.
But as to the study of the four Vedas in the original language, the objection could be said to have at least been honestly raised if the objectors themselves had first given some proof of their own erudition in the four Vedas. It is a pity that they have overlooked the principles of justice, and shown not the least fear of God in raising this objection. If their objection is based upon honest grounds, they should first show that all those Hindus who, a few years ago, knew nothing of the Hindureligion except the name of Rama and belonged to the orthodox sect of Sanatan Dharam, actually studied the four Vedas in Sanskrit before coming over to the sect of Dayanand. If the Arya Samajists consider the study of the Vedas as a primary andindispensable condition for the change of religion, they cannot exempt themselves from this condition.
Later in the book, Hazrat Mirza observed:
My propositions have not been made without investigation. In fact, I am willing to give a reward of one thousand rupees if they can prove that out of the total number of men and women who call themselves Arya Samajists there are even five percent pundits who are well-versed in the four Vedas in Sanskrit. And if they cannot, they mustconfess the absurdity of their objection against the converts to Islam. They are crit- icizing others while needing counsel themselves.
Thus, Hazrat Mirza took the Arya Samajists to task and exposed their hypocrisy. Then, writing under the heading, To What Extent is Research Necessary for a Change of Religion, Hazrat Mirza wrote a detailed exposition of whether it was necessary, as the Arya Samajists of Qadian claimed, that a Hindu should read the four Vedas before conversion or whether rationality and justice dictated someother principle.
The three principles of religious conversion
Discussing this topic, Hazrat Mirza wrote:
It is not necessary to investigate every aspect of a religion before con- version. There are only three things that need to be examined by a seeker of truth for the purpose of comparing current religions and then selecting the true religion:
- Firstly, what is the concept of the Divine Being in that religion. What does a religion, for instance, teach us as to the unity of God,His power, His knowledge, His perfection, His glory, His mercy, His reward and punishment and the other attributes of HisDivinity? For, it is clear that a religion cannot be from God which does not consider God as one, but looks upon a heavenly body or an element of earth, or a man or any other thing as God or as the equal of God, and contains no injunctions against the worship ofanything besides God, or does not consider God as Omnipotent but looks upon His power as imperfect, or does not teach the omniscience of God, or gives any teaching which is not consistent with His eternal glory, or inclines to an extreme view of His laws of punishment and mercy, or limits the means of His spiritual blessings or of seeking His connection to a particular nation or aparticular country, and does not like His physical blessings, extend them to the whole human race, or gives any teaching againstHis attributes.
- Secondly, a seeker after truth must see the moral teachings of a reli- gion. What does it teach as to his own conduct and as to his relation with mankind in general? He must satisfy himself that its teachings do not in any way interfere with the social relations of man, or that they do not violate the principles of chastity and modesty and preserve the integrity of the family, or that they are not opposed to the Divine laws as revealed in nature, or that they do not enjoin anything which is
impossible to observe or likely to lead to dangerous consequences or leave anything that is necessary for the prevention of evil. It must also be seen that the teaching inculcates doctrines which strengthen the tie of human love for God by impressing the Divine goodness and benef- icence upon the heart, and draw a man from darkness to light and from remissness and lethargy to vivacityand life.
- Thirdly, the seeker after truth should choose the religion which pres- ents a living God and not a God whose existence is simply to be supposed, and who is to be believed in only upon the meagre authority of idle tales and stories of the past. The religion which presents a God who has no signs of life, does not deserve to be so called. Anyone who recognizes such a God believes in him out of his credulity and not because the true and living God has revealed Himself to him, and he lays his supposed Deity under an obligation. It is foolish to bow sub- mission to a God whose power is not felt and who is not able to manifest the signs of his life and power. Such a Deity cannot grant a pure life to a man, nor can he draw him out of the darkness of doubt. A living ox is better than a dead deity, for the ox is after all useful to men. The person who is not bent upon worldliness and evil, shall cer-tainly seek the living God that He may purify and enlighten his soul, and shall not be content with a religion in which the living God does not manifest the signs of His power and comfort the spiritual wayfarers with His sweet and glorious voice.
These are the three criteria by which the truth of a religion may be judged and it is in these three matters that the superiority of one reli- gion over another may be easily discovered. It is, therefore, necessary for a seeker after truth to judge a religion in thesethree respects, and if he finds that one religion has a manifest superiority over another when judged by these three criteria, he isbound to accept it. For this research, however, a man need not be a great pundit or a clergyman.
Hazrat Mirza then evaluated the three religions Arya Samaj, Christianity, and Islam on the basis of the three established criteria, and showed by going into great detail and depth that Islam is the only religion that is complete and perfect when judged against thesemeasures. In short, there is a veritable treasure in the book Nasim-e-Dawat for a person who is seeking the truth and desires to conduct a comparative evaluation of religions.
Hazrat Mirza also stated in this book that the way in which Dayanand, the founder of the Arya Samaj Hindu sect, had interpreted some passages of the Vedas was totally wrong. Hazrat Mirza then proceeded to interpret these passages and showed that when taken in afigurative and metaphorical sense, these passages were consistent with the teachings of Islam. In this way, a modicum of decency was restored to the Vedas.
Hazrat Mirza’s reply to Arya criticism of Islam made during the public meeting in Qadian
The book Nasim-e-Dawat had already been printed when Hazrat Mirza learned about three claims that an Arya speaker had made in his speech during the Arya Samaj public meeting in Qadian on February 28, 1903. Those claims were:
- The God of Muslims sits on a throne (arsh), and this shows that He is finite and limited.
- Reliance on intercession is tantamount to associating partners with God (shirk).
- The voice of God cannot be heard in this world.
Hazrat Mirza wrote a response to these claims that same day and pub- lished it in the form of a public announcement. He also had the response appended to Nasim-e-Dawat as a supplement.
Arsh1 (the Throne of Power)
Hazrat Mirza’s response discussed in great detail the meaning of Arsh, and also included the following challenge:
If any Arya can show a reference from the Quran that the Arsh is a material and created thing, then I will give him a reward of one thou- sand rupees before he leaves Qadian. I swear by God — taking a false oath in Whose name is only the work of the accursed — that I will hand over the one thousand rupees, as soon as the verse of the Quran is shown to me. Otherwise, I respectfully state that such a person who fabricates about God is himself accursed.
Hazrat Mirza then went on to discuss the full meaning of the phrase “estab- lished on the Throne of Power.”2 The knowledge and truthexpounded in that
- Arsh literally means a thing constructed for shade, or anything roofed. According to Imam Raghib, the court or sitting place of the king is called arsh onaccount of its eminence. And he adds: It is used to indicate might or power and authority and dominion. The true signif- icance of arsh is power or controlof the creation.
- “Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six peri- ods, and He is established on the Throne of Power.” (32:4) The phrase “established on the Throne of Power” occurs most frequently in the above format or its slight variations in verses 7:54, 10:3, 25:59, 32:4 and 57:4and also in another format in 13:2.
exposition can only be fully appreciated by reading the original text. He explained that the four bearers of the arsh are the four attributesof God men- tioned in the Chapter Al-Fatihah — Rabubiyyat (Nourishment unto Perfection), Rahmaniyyat (Beneficence), Rahimiyyat (Mercy), and Malikiyyat (Judgment). Hazrat Mirza explained:
“Established on the Throne of Power” means that with the creation of the world His four attributes, which in fact encircle the whole wide range of Divinity and comprise all the attributes of God, were brought into manifestation. This is described in theQuran as sitting with digni- ty and rectitude on Arsh, for Arsh signifies the majesty and grandeur of God, of which the four attributes described in the Chapter Al-Fatihah, are manifestations.
The metaphor is taken from the sitting of a king on his throne with a full display of royal dignity.
First, the order for the accoutrements of regal needs is given out and promptly accomplished.The same reality is found in the quality that epitomizes the attribute of Rabubiyyat (Nourishment unto Perfection) for all. Second, wealth is granted through royal largesse to those present purely as an act of munificence although they have done nothing to deserve this. Third, those who are serving are aided in performing their duties with suitable assistance. Fourth, the gates of reward and punishment are opened. In short, God’s instituting of these four qualities upon the system of this world is in essence Hisseating Himself on a throne called the arsh.
Hazrat Mirza expounds on the subject at great length, and the full explana- tion is worth studying.
In discussing the concept of intercession, Hazrat Mirza clarified its actual reality, and explained that the concept of intercessionwith permission in Islam is just another form of supplication. The notion of associating part- ners with Allah does not enter the picture at all. The entire discussion is present in the book, Nasim-e-Dawat, and is very pertinent.
The Voice of God
Hazrat Mirza’s response to the objection that God’s voice is not to be heard in the world is very interesting. He stated:
It is astounding that even after all the Arya gentlemen had heard the voice of God on March 6, when Pundit Lekhram met his death, they still require proof whether the voice of God can be heard on this earth.
God had announced in this world that Lekhram, by virtue of his verbal diatribes, would be killed by someone within a period of six years. Not only did we hear that voice, but through us, it was heard byall the Arya gentlemen as well. There are among you gentlemen two staunch Aryas, Lala Sharmpat Rai and Lala Mallawa Mal, whoare residents of Qadian and have witnessed the voice of God on many occasions. If they lie and deny this, and give preference to their co-religionists over God, then they might just hear some other voice from the Heaven!
Offensive behavior of the Arya Samajists of QadianThe gathering of the Arya Samajists of Qadian was held on February 28 and March 1, 1903. Two famous debaters, Yogendar Pal and Pundit Ram Bhajdut (President of Arya Parthi Nadhi Samaj, Lahore), delivered highly incendiary and provocative speeches during this gathering in which they used extremely vile language.
When an Ahmadi tried to respond after theirspeeches, he was prevented from doing so, and was told that: “We will not hear from any Ahmadi today. If something needs to be said, let Mirza come himself and say it.” The police took steps to assuage the situation and the Ahmadis for their part exercised great restraint. Otherwise, there was a strong likelihood of an outbreak of violence.