The Criterion for Religions is a small book of 38 pages written by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, in 1895. Its Urdu title is Mi‘yarul Madhahib. It was translated into English by Qazi M. J. As’ad; and the first English edition was published in 2007 at Islam International Publications Limited, Tilford, Surrey, United Kingdom.
In this book, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) makes a comparison of the concept of God as presented in three major religions: Arya Samaj – (a branch of Hinduism), Christianity, and Islam. The book starts with an appreciation of the good works done by the British Government in India that promoted freedom of religious practices and allowed preaching among all denominations. The British Government established printing presses, and started new channels of communications, such as postal system, that made it easy to ship books from place to place. In addition, knowledge of modern sciences and the arts was spread through educational institutions. But most importantly, the British Government provided security by ensuring protection of life, honor, and property of its subjects. However, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) wrote that “the environment that may inspire true spirituality, is either extremely rare or completely non-existent. Higher education and philosophical thoughts are taking people towards atheism. Deep absorption of the people in worldly pursuits undermines the spirit of recognizing the Almighty God and the truth.” After making these preliminary remarks, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) proceeds to point out that the three major religions in India, Arya Samaj, Christianity, and Islam are confronting each other. Arya Samaj, a reform movement in Hinduism, was started by Swami Dayananda (1824-1883) in 1875, and it had a big following in Punjab. The Christian missionaries were free to carry out their work all over India under Imperial protection.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) points out that in Arya religion, the concept of God is not perfect as the hallmarks of Divine perfection is are missing in him. The Parmeshwar of Aryas lacks the infinite powers of creating matter and souls along with their properties. According to the Hindu belief, souls and material things are as eternal as Parmeshwar himself. The best He can do is to join together the existing souls and tiny material particles. Except for a few pages of the Vedas, there is no way of recognizing the God of Hindus through the laws of nature; and it becomes very difficult to prove the very existence of God. Moreover, the God of Aryas does not possess the moral qualities of forgiveness and showing mercy and kindness to human souls. Each sin becomes a cause of millions of reincarnations without any possibility of deliverance until and unless a sinner receives full punishment by going through countless reincarnations. This might be the reason that in the Vedas worshiping Parmeshwar is left out, and emphasis is laid on worshiping other gods, such as fire, air, moon, sun and water. The majority of Hindus seek rewards and favors from these objects that they worship.
In Christianity, Jesus Christ is taken as God – who was born of a woman and died at the age of 32 [120 according to the Promised Messiah(as)]. He could not save himself from getting arrested, though he prayed for it all night. He was put upon cross, and died crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”(1) Such a helpless God cannot be the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He cannot be Omnipotent, so he cannot be worshipped. As a matter of fact such a God is even weaker than the Arya Parmeshwar who could, at least combine souls and matter; but Jesus could not, as demanded by the Jews, keep his own soul attached to his body, and died at the cross. Death of God is an invention of the Christians. As far the story of his ‘resurrection’ goes, the Christians cannot explain it by use of reason; and their belief in it and his physical ascend to heaven is a plain fantasy and reeks of fabrication.
Moreover, the story that Jesus the God was crucified so that his death could redeem the sinners, and that he would come back to this world with his human body to sit in judgment, is similar to the stories of Hindu Avatars who have re-appeared on the earth in human bodies – made of blood, flesh, bones, and all other organs – to save mankind from sin. The Christian God was born only once from the womb of his mother Mary, but the Hindu God Vishnu was born 9 times to ward off the sins of the world. The Hindu God appears to be better and wiser than the Christian God as he was trying to save mankind since its creation, but the Christian God thought of this strategy only recently to save mankind from sin by having His son crucified. Moreover, the Christians have no answer to the question that if their God does not wish anyone to die in sin, then what arrangements this God has made for the salvation of demons and evil spirits mentioned in the Gospels?
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) further points out that the belief in crucifixion of Jesus for salvation from the original sin leads to two problematic possibilities: First, Christians have to declare all the holy prophets of God – from Adam onwards – to be sinners and evil doers. And secondly, those who believe in the death of Jesus (as) for the sake of their sins should be supposedly saved from every kind of sin and wickedness, but that is not the case. Christians have not been able to desist from committing sin. Even the disciples of Jesus (as) were not saved: Peter cursed Jesus (as), and his other disciples ran away, leaving him at the mercy of his deadly enemies! In Western Christian countries sin is vastly increased: illicit sex is rampant; thousands of illegitimate children are born every year in London alone; consumption of alcohol has increased; worshipping God is on the decline; and seeking worldly pleasures is on the rise.
As opposed to the concepts of God in Araya Samaj and Christianity, the religion of lslam presents God as the Creator of everything Who exercises His full authority over His creation; and this is evident in the natural bond between the creation and the Creator. Each miniscule particle is steeped in His limitless favors. Islam considers the True and Glorious God to be free from all shortcomings. His Might, Grace, Majesty and Holiness are limitless. All His powers are operating under the immutable law that He can do whatever He wills. The only exception is that He will not do anything that is against His own holiness, exalted station or that may contravene His unvarying promises. For instance, we cannot say that He can kill Himself by His perfect Might, because such an act goes against His eternal attribute of being ‘Hayyi’ (Ever-living) and ‘Qayyum’ (the Self-Subsistent).
According to the Islamic belief, God Almighty alone is the Originator of all that exists – body and soul, and He is also the Sustainer of all that exists. Existence of all things depends upon His existence: His presence is a must for the survival and stability of each and every existent; but the Araya and the Christians do not hold this belief. The Holy Qur’an describes God as being the Omnipresent when it says “Whithersoever you turn; there will be the face of God.”(2) “He is with you, where-so-ever you may be.”(3) And, “We are nearer to man than even his jugular vein.”(4)
Thus, through cogent arguments Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) proves the truth and superiority of Islam over Hinduism and Christianity. In his words: “Islam’s understanding of God is very simple and clear, and is in keeping with human nature. Even if the books of all other religions were to disappear along with all their teachings and concepts, God – towards Whom the Holy Qur’an leads – would still be clearly reflected in the mirror of the laws of nature and His might and wisdom shall be found glowing in every particle.”(5)
This article appears in the Spring 2016 issue of the Muslim Sunrise.
- Matthew 27:46
- The Holy Qur’an, Chapter: 2 [Al-Baqarah], Verse:116
- The Holy Qur’an, Chapter: 57 [Al-Hadid], Verse:5
- The Holy Qur’an, Chapter: 50 [Al-Dhariyat], Verse:17
- Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), The Criterion for Religions, Page 30
Last modified: April 2019