How to be Free from Sin?

· Ahmadiyyat: True Islam, Christianity, Islam

The recipe is not some supernatural phenomenon, which cannot be be observed or demonstrated. The panacea is genuine repentance with honest intention not to repeat the mistake or the sin. Firstly, I will introduce two small booklets by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani. Secondly, I will show the effectiveness of the recipe by borrowing a metaphor from Alcohol Anonymous. In this article and the booklets attached, the reader will find an adequate presentation of the Islamic view of how to be free from sin and refutation of the Christian dogma about atonement.

The Messiah writes that man is by his very nature averse to things he believes to be harmful, and if he commits sin it is only because he does not truly believe in the existence of God and in the Day of Reckoning. Had he possessed the same certainty about the accountability of sin, as he does, for instance, about the harmfulness of a poison or a snake, he would never even think of transgressing Divine commandments.

The Messiah also argues that a true religion must be judged by its ability to lead its followers to certainty about the existence of God. The holy author makes a detailed comparison between Islam and other major religions, and concludes that Islam alone can lead man to perfect awareness and, consequently, to freedom from sin.

The Promised Messiah
The Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the Founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

“All blessings emanate from a Living God, not a dead one; and light shines forth when the sun rises and not when it sets.” Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani

First, a small quote from a booklet Fountain of Christianity:

“You should also consider that it is God’s eternal and established law that He forgives in response to repentance and penitence, and hears the prayers of His righteous servants which are offered by way of intercession. But we never observe in the Divine law of nature that ‘A’ hits his own head with a stone and this cures the headache of ‘B’. We are, therefore, at a loss to understand how people can acquire inner purification through the suicide committed by the Messiah. Is there any law or philosophy which can make us understand how the Messiah’s blood could have cleansed the inner impurities of other people? Our observation is, in fact, opposed to this principle, because, until the time when the Messiah decided to commit suicide, we find an element of righteousness and godliness among the Christians. After the crucifixion, however, their carnal passions burst forth like a river which breaks its banks and inundates the land.
There is no doubt that even if this suicide on the part of the Messiah was deliberate, it was quite needless. If he had, instead, spent his life in preaching and exhortation, he would have done a lot of good for God’s creation. But this act did not serve them in any way. Yes, if the Messiah had indeed come back to life after his suicide, and had ascended to heaven before the very eyes of the Jews, they would surely have believed in him. But, as things stand, the Jews, and all reasonable people, consider the Messiah’s ascension to be no more than a fable.”
To read the booklet Fountain of Christianity, click here.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani writes in How to be Free from Sin:
As I have often stated before, attraction forms the basis for everything that happens in the world, and the side which possesses greater conviction is able attract others towards itself. There is every truth in the principle that a force can only be counteracted by another more powerful than itself. It is impossible for this world, which is being pulled downwards by the force of base attractions, to rise up again, unless an opposing force appears from heaven to reinforce people’s faith, and to show them that there is more substantial and lasting joy in submission to the commandments of God than in the fulfilment of carnal passions, and to convince them that transgression is worse than death. This heavenly light of conviction is granted to man through the ‘Sun’, i.e., the Imam of his age, and failure to recognize him amounts to dying a death of ignorance. The person who thinks he has no need of this true source of light is deluded, for he sets himself against the immutable laws of God. Human eyes, even though they possess a light of their own, cannot see without the sun. The sun is the source of the light which descends from heaven and illuminates the earth, and without it our eyes are as good as blind. He who attains conviction through this heavenly light is drawn towards piety, and it is natural for a struggle to ensue between the two attractions, one pulling him towards virtue and the other towards vice, one towards the East and the other towards the West. The clash is all the more ferocious when the two attractions are at their peak—as they are during times of tremendous material advancement. As the earth undergoes phenomenal progress, rest assured that spiritual preparations are also being made and an attraction has been formed in heaven to counter the earthly one. The days when neglect and evil reign supreme upon the earth are terrifying, because they have been marked for the spiritual battle foretold by the Prophets in the form of various metaphors. Some people describe it as the final battle between the Angels of heaven and the Satans of the earth, which will culminate in the end of the world; others naively think that it will be a physical battle, fought with swords and guns. The latter are completely mistaken, for they naïvely interpret a spiritual battle to mean a physical one.
In short, a fierce clash between the darkness of the earth and the light of heaven is imminent, as foretold by all the Prophets, from Adam to the Holy Prophet, may peace be on him. The commander of the one side is called ‘the Concealer of the truth’, while that of the other is known as ‘the Revealer of the truth’. The one who comes from heaven in the company of angels is the manifestation of [the Angel] Michael, and the one who is raised from the earth with the powers of darkness is the manifestation of Satan.
When we observe the well-armed legions of the earth busy in their preparations, having already accomplished a great deal, we are led to believe that the kingdom of heaven is not unmindful of its preparations either. The heavenly dominion is averse to show and ostentation and it accomplishes a great deal without anyone knowing about it. People finally become aware of it when there appears a light in heaven and a white minaret on earth; the heavenly light then falls upon the minaret and illuminates the whole world.
To read the whole of How to be Free from Sin, Click here.

Recovery from alcoholism a metaphor of recovery from any sin

Now, let me illustrate the concept of genuine repentance by using the examples of alcoholics.  Almost a tenth of population of any society that condones the use of alcohol is vulnerable to become addicted to alcohol and become alcoholic.  How can they recover from this vulnerability or sin?  Does belief in a higher power help or not?  Do they need to believe that Jesus died on the cross for them?
What we  find in real life is that the addicts recover after genuine repentance, going through the 12 step Alcohol Anonymous program.
Under the heading of alcoholism, Encyclopedia Britannica says about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), “Group therapies such as Alcoholics Anonymous are the most effective treatments.”[1]  It describes AA further by stating:
“It is a voluntary fellowship of alcoholic persons who seek to get sober and remain sober through self-help and the help of other recovered alcoholics. Although general conventions meet periodically and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., is headquartered in New York City, all AA groups are essentially local and autonomous. To counteract self-indulgence and promote the group’s welfare, members identify themselves only by first name and surname initial. Much of the program has a social and spiritual, but nonsectarian, basis.
AA began in May 1935 in the meeting of two alcoholics attempting to overcome their drinking problems: a New York stockbroker, “Bill W.” (William Griffith Wilson [1895–1971]), and a surgeon from Akron, Ohio, “Dr. Bob S.” (Robert Holbrook Smith [1879–1950]). Drawing upon their own experiences, they set out to help fellow alcoholics and first recorded their program in Alcoholics Anonymous (1939; 3rd ed., 1976). By the early 21st century, Alcoholics Anonymous had some 2,000,000 members forming more than 110,000 groups in about 180 countries and territories (most of them, however, in the United States and Canada).”[2]
They are showing recovery from the sin of alcoholism without any belief in the death of Jesus on the cross. Perhaps that is a superfluous dogma that is not needed in real life situations!  It seems that alocholics need not believe in death of Jesus on the cross for moral or religious gain in this life.  It would be worth while for any readers of this thread to familiarize yourself with the book of Alcohol anonymous.  Many of the successful participants in AA did need to cultivate belief in a Greater Power beyond them to recover from the addiction.  Let me quote here the testimony from the Alcohol Anonymous Bible. Some agnostics who converted to spiritualism in Alcohol Anonymous, write:
“People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves.”[3]
The writers also explain what lead them to reject spiritual truths. They say that the reason for this was that instead of taking a balanced view and mostly focusing of the teachings they focused on the weaknesses of some of the religious people. They write:
“Instead, we looked at the human defects of these people, and sometimes used their shortcomings as a basis of wholesale condemnation. We talked of intolerance, while we were intolerant ourselves. We missed the reality and the beauty of the forest because we were diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees. We never gave the spiritual side of life a fair hearing.”[4]
The Christian apologists can make any non-sensical claims about the hereafter, but no one has seen it or returned from there. For their recovery from alcoholism, alcoholics need a belief in a power greater than them, but do not need any belief in death of Jesus.  The testimony is very moving, and it is worth reading. It is in “We agnostics” chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. Another moving paragraph which describes their agnostic past is, “Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.”
Components of true repentance are well described in the bible of Alcohol Anonymous and Gambler Anonymous. Both Alcohol Anonymous and Gambler Anonymous, consist of a twelve step program, which constitutes a good example of true repentance. I quote from Gambler Anonymous literature:
1. We admitted we were powerless over gambling that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.
7. Humbly asked God (of our understanding) to remove shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having made an effort to practice the principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.
If alchoholics genuinely follow the 12 step program of AA, which involves genuine repentance and correct intentions, without any mention of Jesus’ death on the cross, many of them are refromed from alcoholism. They are called recovered alcoholics! This reformation, according to Islamic understanding, will translate into spiritual paradigm in the hereafter. If we do not see any recovery or reformation in this life then there is none in the hereafter.
“But whoso is blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter, and even more astray from the way.” (Al Quran 17:73)
In a manner similar to genuine repentance of alcoholics, true repentance can help humans recover from any sin.  True repentance has to be an honest exercise in human psychology followed by genuine actions to reform.
No mention of Jesus or the Christian concept of atonement in the twelve steps of Alcohol Anonymous. No need to believe in the death of Jesus on the cross, to get any true limitation of human nature! QED.
Here, let me quote two additional excerpts, from the writing of the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, to illustrate and demonstrate the genuine methods to get rid of sin:

“The true purpose of adopting a faith is that one should acquire such certainty concerning God, Who is the fountainhead of salvation, as if one can see Him with one’s eyes. The wicked spirit of sin seeks to destroy a man and a person cannot escape the fatal poison of sin till he believes with full certainty in the Perfect and Living God and till he knows for certain that God exists, Who punishes the offender and bestows upon the righteous everlasting joy. It is a common experience that when one believes in the fatal effects of anything one does not have recourse to it. For instance, no one swallows poison consciously. No one deliberately stands in front of a wild tiger. No one deliberately thrusts his hand into the hole of a serpent. Then why does a person commit sin deliberately? The reason is that he has not that certainty in this matter as he has in other matters of the kind that we have mentioned. The first duty of a person, therefore, is to acquire certainty with regard to the existence of God, and to adopt a religion through which this certainty can be acquired so that he should fear God and shun sin. How can such certainty be acquired? It cannot be acquired through mere stories. It cannot be acquired through mere arguments. The only way of acquiring certainty is to experience God repeatedly through converse with Him or through witnessing His extraordinary signs, or by keeping company with someone who has that experience.”[5]

“The purpose of religion is that man should obtain deliverance from his passions and should develop personal love for God Almighty through certain faith in His existence and His perfect attributes. Such love of God is the paradise, which will appear in diverse shapes in the hereafter.  To be unaware of the True God, to keep away from Him, and not to have any love for Him, is the hell which will appear in diverse shapes in the hereafter. Thus, the true purpose is to have full faith in Him. Now the question is which religion and which book can fulfill this need. The Bible tells us that the door of converse with God is closed and that the ways of obtaining certainty are sealed. Whatever was to happen, happened in the past and there is nothing in the future….. Of what use then is a religion that is dead? What benefit can we derive from a book that is dead? What grace can be bestowed by a god who is dead?”[6]


  1. “alcoholism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 05 Feb. 2010>.
  2. “Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 05 Feb. 2010>.
  3. Alcohoic Anonymous. Third edition. Page 49.
  4. Alcohoic Anonymous. Third edition. Page 50.
  5. [Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 447-448]
  6. [Chashma-e-Masihi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 352-353]


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  1. Zia H. Shah

    Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stresses genuine understanding of the Divine as recipe against sin
    It may be asked that if the blood of Jesus cannot purify from sin, as indeed it cannot, then is there any way of being purified from sin, for a sinful life is worse than death. My answer to this question, which I set forth with full force from my personal experience, is that from the time that man was created up to today there has been only one means of escaping sin and disobedience. That means is that through convincing arguments and shining signs a person should arrive at the understanding which truly makes God manifest, and through which one realizes that God’s wrath is a consuming fire, and which proves through a manifestation of Divine beauty that every perfect delight is in God. In other words, through such understanding all veils are lifted from glory and beauty. This is the only way by which passions are restrained and man experiences inner change. On hearing this answer many people will exclaim: Do we not believe in God; do we not fear God and love Him; does not the
    whole world, with few exceptions, believe in God? Then why is it that they commit all manner of sins and appear involved in diverse forms of wickedness? The answer to this is that faith is one thing and understanding is another. I do not mean that a believer avoids sin, but I mean that a man of perfect understanding avoids it, that is to say a person who has tasted both the fear of God and the love of God. Someone might ask: Why is Satan disobedient though he possesses perfect understanding? The answer is that Satan does not possess that perfect understanding which is bestowed upon the fortunate ones.

    It is part of human nature that man is necessarily influenced by perfect knowledge and that he does not place himself in the way of ruin when he beholds its terrible countenance. Faith only means to believe as the result of thinking well of a thing; but understanding means to behold that in which one has put one’s faith. Thus understanding and sin cannot exist together in a heart as day and night cannot co-exist at the same time. It is your daily experience that when something proves to
    be useful, one is immediately attracted towards it and when something is proved to be harmful, one begins to fear it. For instance, if a person does not know that what he has in his hand is arsenic he might swallow a large dose of it deeming it to be some useful medicine. But he who knows that it is a fatal poison will not swallow even the smallest quantity of it, for he would realize that by the eating of it he would pass out from this world. In the same way, when a person knows for certain that God
    undoubtedly exists and that every type of sin is punishable in His estimation, all sins automatically fall away from him.

  2. Zia H. Shah

    Socrates views on ethics
    Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC) was one of the first Greek philosophers to encourage both scholars and the common citizen to turn their attention from the outside world to the condition of humankind. In this view, knowledge having a bearing on human life was placed highest, all other knowledge being secondary. Self-knowledge was considered necessary for success and inherently an essential good. A self-aware person will act completely within his capabilities to his pinnacle, while an ignorant person will flounder and encounter difficulty. To Socrates, a person must become aware of every fact (and its context) relevant to his existence, if he wishes to attain self-knowledge. He posited that people will naturally do what is good, if they know what is right. Evil or bad actions, are the result of ignorance. If a criminal were truly aware of the mental and spiritual consequences of his actions, he would neither commit nor even consider committing those actions. Any person who knows what is truly right will automatically do it, according to Socrates. While he correlated knowledge with virtue, he similarly equated virtue with happiness. The truly wise man will know what is right, do what is good, and therefore be happy.

    The way Socrates has been transmitted to us he stresses self knowledge to avoid unethical and sinful.

  3. Zia H. Shah

    Belief in atonement encourages sin

    Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said and it is recorded in a 5 volume book called Malfoozat:

    The claim that by believing in atonement one can get rid of a life of sin and the faculty of sin leaves such a person, has no proof whatsoever. It is because this thesis is itself rooted in sin. The ability to shun sin comes from fear of God! But, how can the fear of God flourish when it is believed that our sins have been taken up by Christ. From this I have to conclude that someone who believes in the dogma of atonement is far removed from the fear of God. …

    To read a three page detailed exposition in Urdu go to:

  4. Afzal

    Jazakallah for this post and for the comments. I note here your mention of twelve-step programs as well, where anonymity is used by individuals who follow such programs to overcome problems of various natures as can be found from the details about lists of twelve-step groups. I would be interested in finding the recipe of Hadhrat Massih Mawood (a.s) in his booklet ‘How to be Free from Sin’ converted in study guide form that can be more easily understood and practically implemented, as has been done on Al Islam for the book ‘Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam’.

    Concerning ways about going through books, there seems to be a style of presenting books in a way that can easily be gone through by dyslexics for instance.

    In educational psychology, I have learnt that someone known as David Ausubel developed a concept of advance organizers and I believe this to be a worthwhile style to present books and materials to make them easily gone through and understood.

    I say this, because when told to review a book, I am sometimes discouraged by the amount of reading that may have to be done before grasping something that we might want to retain.

    In any case, I’m very much interested in assimilating the contents of Hadhrat Massih Mawood (a.s)’s booklet in a way that can be practically implemented inshallah. May Allah ease out our way for doing so. Jazakumullah

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