Jesus of the Gospels
One objection that is raised against the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement is that he was disrespectful towards Hazrat Isa, peace be on him, and reviled him.
In this connection it should be clearly understood that one of the claims of the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, was that he was the like of Hazrat Isa. He claimed that he had perfect spiritual resemblance to the Messiah. Then how is it possible that a person who claims to be the like of another and his reflection should defame him or should be disrespectful towards him, for that would amount to defaming himself, as the reflection must correspond to the original. It is, therefore contrary to reason that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, should have said anything derogatory concerning the Messiah, As he has said:
Claiming as I do, that I am the Promised Messiah and that I bear a resemblance to Hazrat Isa, peace be on him, every one would understand that were I to revile him, I would not claim any resemblance to him, for by reviling him, I would confess that I myself was vicious. (Announcement of 27 December 1898)
In his books and writings, the Promised Messiah has repeatedly used expressions of honor, love and affection for Hazrat Isa. For instance he says:
This puts it beyond doubt that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, believed that Hazrat Isa, peace be on him, was a dear and chosen Messenger of God and that he loved him sincerely. It was, therefore, not possible that he should have applied any derogatory terms to the Messiah.
Let us now examine the background which the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, has employed certain harsh expressions concerning Jesus. In this connection it should be clearly understood that according to the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, the Isa of the Holy Quran and the Jesus of the Gospels are two different and distinct personalities. The Isa, son of Mary, peace be on him, mentioned in the Holy Quran was a Prophet of God and was loved by Him and was a chosen one, but the Jesus of the Gospels was a fictitious personality and from the accounts contained in the Gospels his life was stained and unmoral. The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, has explained this in the following terms:
I desire to make it clear to the readers that my faith in Hazrat Masih, peace be on him, is a very good faith. I believe sincerely that he was a true prophet of God and was loved by Him and I believe that, as indicated by the Holy Quran, he had, as a means of his salvation, perfect faith in our lord and master, Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. He was one of the sincere servants of the law of Moses. I respect him according to his station. But the Jesus who is presented by the Christians, who claimed to be God and condemned everyone else except himself, both those who had gone before and who were to come after, as accursed, as having been guilty of vices the recompense of which is a curse, is regarded by us as deprived of Divine mercy. The Holy Quran makes no reference to this impertinent and foul-mouthed Jesus. We are surprised at the conduct of one who considered that God was subject to death and himself claimed to be God and who reviled such righteous ones as were thousand times better than him. In our writings we have had this fictitious Jesus of the Christians in mind. The humble servant of God, Isa, son of Mary, who was a Prophet and is mentioned in the Holy Quran, is not the object of our harsh condemnations. We have had to adopt this method after having endured for forty years the abuse of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, by the Christian missionaries. (Nurul Quran, No.2)
Again he has said:
It should be remembered that I hold this view concerning the Jesus who claimed to be God and held previous prophets to be thieves and robbers and has said nothing about the Khatamul Anbya, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, except that he, Jesus, would be followed by false prophets. Such a Jesus is nowhere mentioned in the Holy Quran. (Anjam Aatham, p.13)
At another place he states:
I have uttered no word of disrespect concerning the Messiah, it is all a calumny of my opponents. It is true, however, that as there has not in fact been a Messiah who claimed to be God and who held the Khatamul Anbya, who was to come, as an impostor and who called Moses a robber, I have as a matter of argument certainly stated concerning such a Jesus that he who might have expressed himself in this manner could not be held to be righteous. But I believe in the Messiah, son of Mary, who describes himself as a servant of God and Messenger and affirms the truth of the Khatamul Anbya. (Taryaqul Qulub, p.77)
These statements make it clear that wherever the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, has employed any harsh expression concerning Jesus, it has reference to the fictitious Jesus of the Gospels and not to Isa, son of Mary, peace be on him, who is mentioned in the Holy Qpran and whose like and reflection he himself was.
It might be asked why did the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, write against the fictitious Jesus of the Gospels and employed harsh expressions with regard to him? The reason was that at the time of the advent of the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, and during a short period before his advent Christian missionaries had been in the habit of uttering vile abuse and making false charges against the blessed person of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, such as a sincere Muslim dare not even repeat. The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, as has been mentioned, had endured this torment for forty years. It was an unsupportable torture for him that anyone should be impertinent towards his lord and master, Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. His utter devotion to the Holy Prophet compelled him to adopt this method in defense of his master, in this manner, and thus to put an end to the vile attacks of the enemies. Such a refutation is a recognized method of defense to which recourse was held by previous divines and eminent personages in the faith, many instances of which are to be found in the history of Islam.
The Promised Messiah has explained:
I declare it with regret that we have had to issue this number of the Nurul Quran in answer to a person who, instead of adopting a civil method, has had recourse to vile abuse of our lord and master the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and out of his vileness he has uttered such calumnies against that Leader of the pure and Chief of the righteous, that the heart of a pious one trembles at hearing them. This reply is a refutation of the utterers of such abuse. We wish to declare that our belief concerning the Messiah, peace be upon him, is a very good belief and that we have sincere faith in that he Was a true Prophet of God and was loved by Him.(NuruI Quran, No.2)
He also states:
Padre Fateh Masih of Fateh Garh, District Gurdaspur, has addressed a vile letter to me in which he has charged our lord and master Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, with adultery and has, besides this, uttered vile abuse of him. I have, therefore, considered it necessary to reply to it and hence this booklet. I trust the Christian padres will study it carefully and will not be aggrieved at its language as the tone that has been adopted in it is in consequence of the harsh language and vile abuse employed by Mian Fateh Masih, Yet, it is necessary to uphold the holy station of the true Messiah, peace be on him. In reply to the harsh language of Fateh Masih, a fictitious Jesus has been portrayed and that also under great compulsion for this foolish one has abused the Holy Prophet peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in a vile manner and has wounded our hearts. (Nurul Quran, No.2)
He further states:
We wish to record that we had no concern with the Jesus of the Christian missionaries and his conduct. Their purposeless abuse of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has provoked us that we should set forth somewhat of the circumstances of their Jesus. This vile and wicked Fateh Masih has in his letter that he has addressed to me called the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, an adulterer and has heaped other vile abuse on him. In the same way this dead and wicked sect that worships the dead has compelled us that we should set forth somewhat of the circumstances of their Jesus. The Muslims should remember that God Almighty has made no mention of Jesus in the Holy Quran as to who he was, but the Christian missionaries believe that Jesus was a person who claimed to be God and called Moses a thief and a robber and denied the coming of the Holy Prophet and said that he himself would be followed by prophets who will all be false. We cannot accept such a vile thinker and arrogant man and an enemy of the righteous as a good human being let alone that we should accept him as a prophet. These foolish missionaries would be well advised to abandon this method of abuse lest God's jealousy be aroused. (Zameemah Anjam Aatham, p. 8)
The extracts cited above establish that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, under extreme provocation and out of his devoted love for the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was roused to silence the Christian missionaries with this refutation. To him alone is due the credit that he adopted a firm stand against falsehood and frustrated the mischievous plans and impostures of the Christian missionaries against the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for which the Muslims should be grateful to him rather than stand up in opposition to him. After all, if he pulled down into the dust the fictitious Jesus of the Christian missionaries, was it because they had any personal enmity towards him? Indeed not. He had recourse to this method as the safeguarding of the honor and reputation of his lord and master was dear to him and for this purpose he was ready to make any sacrifice. He had declared in a Persian verse:
I am ready to lay down my life in the cause of the faith of Mustafa; this is my sincere purpose which I hope to achieve. Every fibers and muscle of my being is charged with his love. I am empty of my own self and am filled with anxiety on behalf of that beloved.
So many books full of vile abuse and defamation of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, have been printed and published the perusal of which makes one's body tremble. Our heart is so much in tribulation that if these people were to slaughter our children before our eyes and were to cut to pieces our sincere and beloved friends and were to kill us with great humiliation and were to take possession of our belongings, we call God to witness that even in such case we would not suffer so much grief and our heart would not be so severely wounded as we have suffered and endured under this abuse and defamation which has been directed against the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. (Ayena Kamalat-e-Islam, p. 51)
In short, the Promised Messiah, peace he on him, has not in the slightest degree defamed Hazrat Isa, peace be on him, who as a dear Prophet and Elect of God Almighty. He has only, by way of refutation, condemned the Christians on the basis of the Gospels. In doing this, his only purpose was that the Christian missionaries should refrain from abusing and defaming and uttering false charges against the Leader of the righteous, Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It is a fact that his adoption of this method of refutation silenced the Christian missionaries forever and the missionaries who, till the adoption of this method of defense by the Promised Messiah, peace he on him, did not refrain from leveling utterly baseless charges at the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, thereafter confined themselves to their own defense and the stream of poison that had been issuing from their pens against the Holy Prophet was blocked, and the purpose of the Promised Messiah was achieved.
Another aspect of this question is: How far were the charges made by the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, against the Jesus of the Gospels in fact justified? For he would have been held guilty of abuse only if he had invented those charges himself. But if it is established that he merely repeated with reference to the Jesus of the Gospels that which is set out in the Gospels concerning him and which is admitted by the Christians, he cannot be blamed in any respect.
If we examine his writings for this purpose, we discover that there are three allegations which he made against the Jesus of the Gospels, namely:
With regard to the first charge the Promised Messiah states:
The damage that liquor has done to the people of the West is due to the fact that Jesus indulged in liquor, possibly on account of some disease or on account of habit. (Kishti Nuh, p. 65)
In this connection it is worthy of note that the very first miracle of Jesus that is mentioned in the Gospels is that on the occasion of a wedding he converted water into wine and thus the drinking of wine is a part of the Christian faith. Therefore, it cannot be said that the Promised Messiah charged Jesus falsely. He attributed the drinking of wine to him according to the statements of the Gospels.
Secondly, during his time the drinking of liquor had not been forbidden. That is why among the Christians the drinking of wine on the occasion of the Last Supper is a religious ceremony which they imagine was initiated by Jesus.
Thus whatever way we look at it, the Promised Messiah did not make any false charge against Jesus in this respect. On the contrary, he stated, by way of extenuation that Jesus might have taken wine on account of some chronic disease.
The second objection is that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, has written that some of the grandmothers of Jesus were guilty of adultery.
The Christians have charged members of the holy family of the Holy Prophet with all sorts of faults. They contend that as the Holy Prophet was descended from Hagar, who according to the Christians was a slave of Abraham, peace be on him, and according to them the descendants of a female slave have no right of spiritual succession, therefore, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, cannot be accepted as a Prophet. Christian writers have advanced several false charges against the Holy Prophet himself and the members of his family. In reply to all this. the Promised Messiah showed from the Bible that as
a bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation (Deut. 23:2)
the Jesus of the Gospels could not enter into the congregation of the Lord inasmuch as in his genealogy three women are mentioned who were guilty of adultery. These women were Tamar, Rachab and the wife of Uriah. Padre Imaduddin, in his commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, has observed:
This shows that Lord Jews did not disdain to he born in the chain of sinners.
Thus the Promised Messiah refuted from Christian sources the calumny that the ancestors of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, were not sinless people. There is no such allegation concerning him in any standard Islamic book or history, while the Bible contains statements to the effect that we have mentioned which are admitted by Christian scholars. Whatever the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, wrote about the Jesus of the Gospels was not from himself but was drawn from Christian sources which he cited. No objection can, therefore, be taken to whatever he wrote in this context.
The calumny against the mother of Jesus is well known. It is the Holy Quran that cleared her of it.