The human soul has a natural affinity towards its Creator. Love for its Master is inculcated in the soul. Worldly pursuits and influences may dampen the longing to see its Lord, but this desire is rekindled whenever the effects of this world fade. God is the Creator of everything in this world and all of the creation naturally bends towards Him. As the Holy Qur’an says: “And when thy Lord brings forth from Adam’s children—out of their loins—their offspring and makes them witnesses against their own selves by saying: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They say, ‘Yea, we do bear witness.’ This He does lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘We were surely unaware of this” (1).
Despite this natural desire to see God, we struggle in this world by falling prey to the sinful inclinations in our hearts. Islam guides its followers onto the right path to achieve God’s love. On the one hand, it asks us to do good, and on the other hand, it commands us to stay away from sins. Sin is a digression from the straight path. It is a disruption in the normal course of life. When one sets foot on the road to win God’s love, the first step is to change one’s ways, shun the life of sin, and move away from all wrongdoings. It is essential to be successful in this quest. If one is able to abandon a life of immorality and is able to control oneself from committing sin, one becomes a recipient of God’s blessings. According to the Holy Qur’an:
“Say, “O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah forgives all sins. Verily, He is Most Forgiving, Merciful” (2).
It must be noted that not committing sin is the first step in the journey of winning God’s love. In the beginning, one may trip and fall prey to evil inclinations, yet God will forgive a person if they are sincerely repentant and remorseful. Man must go through a complete transformation by discarding sin. He will have to cease all actions that can harm his life, property, and honor, as well as of other persons; even the mere thought of doing harm will have to be abandoned. The abandonment of sinful ways is in fact a crucial aspect in man’s journey to fulfill the purpose of his creation. He will have to regulate his natural instincts and must use his faculties at the right time and occasion. He must tame his natural urges so that they turn into morals. Yet human beings still digress and succumb to evil inclinations. They believe in God and are aware of the punishment of sins and yet are tempted constantly by evil. This happens because their knowledge lacks depth and true recognition of God Almighty.
The real and most effective way to get rid of sin is to attain true recognition of Allah Almighty. The mere utterance of a few words or offering of soulless worship will not grant deliverance. One may have a firm belief in the existence of God but still lack true awareness. In the words of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (as):
“A life of sin is, after all, worse than death. In answer to this, I say, on the basis of my own personal experience, that from the birth of man to these final days of the world there has been only one way of avoiding sin and disobedience. When man attains true recognition of God, through categorical arguments and luminous signs, and is virtually able to behold Him, he comes to realize that Divine wrath is a consuming fire; and when God manifests His beauty to him, he realizes that in Him lies perfect bliss. All the veils between him and Divine majesty and beauty are thus lifted, and this alone can check egoistical passions and bring about true reformation” (3).
We would not knowingly go near anything that appears to be harmful. No one would deliberately put their hand in a fire or in the mouth of a snake. Yet, even if we say we know there exists possible punishment for wrongdoing, still we are prone to stumble and to give in to satanic desires. This is because our knowledge is superficial and lacks true realization. When a person attains the true realization of the existence of God, that there is one God who is powerful enough to punish or to reward as He wills, he refrains from committing sin.
Christianity offers its own unique path to salvation from sin. Christians believe that Jesus (as) sacrificed his life and blood to save his followers from a life of sin. As such, salvation is not seen as something to be earned but as a ‘free gift’ from Jesus (after a Christian has accepted him as the Son of God); this gift is then referred to as ‘grace’. On the other hand, Islam presents a realistic concept of salvation. It is only the true love and recognition of God that can save us from a life of sin and moral degradation. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (as) says:
“Once you have been filled with conviction, you should flow forth like a river, cleanse yourself of the filth of doubt and suspicion and distance yourselves from sin. This is the water that will wash away all traces of sin and purify your hearts and prepare you to mold yourselves into the image of God. You can never obliterate the inscriptions of the ego from the slate of your hearts unless you wash it with the clear water of certainty. Make a resolution so that you may be given strength and seek so that you may be provided for. Soften your hearts so that you may understand these things, for a hardhearted person is not likely to comprehend them. Do you imagine that you can truly hate sin unless your hearts have been filled with the majesty of God, and you have been made cognizant of the glory and power of the Living One, and your hearts have been filled with the light of certainty? No. There is only one way, just as there is only One God and one Law” (4).
Another unique feature of Islam is that it keeps its gates of mercy and forgiveness open forever. Whenever anyone wants to leave the life of sin and moral degradation, God the Merciful welcomes him with open arms. Not all religions hold the same view of how to bring about the betterment of a person. Hinduism advocates full punishment, even though the wrongdoer may be repentant, wanting to turn over a new leaf. In other words, it is considered humane to forgive fellow beings, yet it is not considered an attribute of God Almighty to show benevolence to the repentant. Christianity provides the idea of atonement while Hinduism is trapped in the claws of reincarnation. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (as), explains forgiveness of sin in these words:
“Also, the Holy Quran does not admit in principle, the concept that for the sake of atonement, the burden of a sinful person can be transferred to another innocent being. Likewise human logic does not accept the notion either, that for the sin of Tom, Dick should be indicted. Even worldly governments have never subscribed to this notion. Alas, as far as the concept of atonement is concerned, the Aryas have also committed the same mistake as has been committed by the Christians. They too have missed the mark. According to the Arya doctrine, both repentance and seeking forgiveness are utterly meaningless. Reincarnation being the prescribed punishment in Arya doctrine, they believe that unless a person is subjected to various reincarnations for having committed even a single crime, atonement is simply impossible” (5).
In the end, when a sinner shuns his irreligious or immoral lifestyle and bends towards God with a repentant heart and true recognition of Him, God’s Graciousness engulfs him.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (as) says:
“When a man turns towards God Almighty with such sincerity and firm resolve, then God, who is Benevolent and Merciful, forgives him that particular sin. It is one of the high Divine attributes that God accepts repentance and saves a sinner from ruin. If man had not the hope of his repentance being accepted, he would not be able to refrain from sinning” (6).
This article appears in the February 2022 print edition.
1. The Holy Qur’an (7:173)
2. The Holy Qur’an (39:54)
3. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “How to be free from Sin,” pp. 21 (Edition 2008), UK.
4. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “How to be free from Sin,” pp. 30-31 (Edition 2008), UK.
5. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “Selection From the Writings of The Promised Messiah (as),” pp. 80-81 (Edition 2016) India6. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “The Essence of Islam,” Vol II, pp. 235 (Edition 2004), UK.
Last modified: February 2022