The Review of Religions, July 1993
The Promised Messiah claimed that the source of his learning was no other than the All-Knowing God Who had graciously endowed him with knowledge of His Holy Book and of the Arabic language. “The Gracious Lord taught the Quran”. This was a Divine promise supplemented with another gift in the shape of a perfect knowledge of 40,000 root-words of the Arabic language. “I have been given the sign of eloquence and mastery in Arabic, as a reflection of the Quranic miracle of eloquence, and no one can challenge me on this.” said the Promised Messiah. (The Need for the Imam).
Even the leading luminaries of the Arab world dared not take up this challenge which came from an inhabitant of a village of the Punjab where Arabic was neither spoken nor written as a living language but was treated as a classic language. No doubt it was held in great reverence, but it was far from being the medium of education anywhere in the entire subcontinent.
Ijazul Masih was his first book in choice Arabic language on the excellencies and exegesis of the Holy Quran that carried his challenge to the ulema of the Arab and non-Arab world. The prominent Egyptian writer Allama Rashid Raza, Editor of the Almanar(Cairo), was especially invited to pick up the gauntlet. The Promised Messiah said that if anyone would come up with a comparable performance he would burn his manuscript. He observed:
Even if their fathers and their sons and their helpers and their learned and their wise and their jurists put their heads together they will not be able to produce a commentary like it.
He further declared that `this is a book which has no equal and whoever attempted to prepare its answers would be humbled and put to shame. The Promised Messiah prepared a number of scholarly works since then in Arabic of unique charm and wonderful artistic beauty and overflowing with enthralling exposition of the subtleties of the Holy Book.
1. Minanur Rahman; 2. Khutba Ilhamia; 3. Najmulhuda; 4. Tuhfatul Baghdad; 5. Nurul Haq; 6. Ijaz-e-Ahmadi; 7. Hamamatul Bushra; 8. Lujjatun-Nur; 9. Hujjatullah; 10. Mowahibur Rahman; 11. Albalagh; 12. Targhibul Momineen; 13. Sirrul Khilafa; 14. Istifta; 15. Sirat-ul-Abdal; 16. Karamat-us-Sadiqeen; 17. Al-Anzar; 18. Itmamul Hujjat; 19. Alhuda etc.
The Promised Messiah published a eulogy Al-Qasidah in Arabic, a fascinating piece of literary gems and invited the ulema to produce a similar performance and offered a reward of rupees 10,000 for the successful competitor. He challenged the entire body of ulema to a joint comparable effort and made it the deciding factor in the issue of his claim to the office of Messiah saying that if they succeeded in their effort then take me as finished and my whole order a spurious affair. In that event my followers should forsake me and cut off all connection with me.
The eulogy related to the proceedings of a long and bitter argument held earlier between Hazrat Sayyed Muhammad Sarwar Shah, the Ahmadiyya spokesman and Maulvi Sanaullah Amritsari, at Mudd, a village in Amritsar District. The Promised Messiah composed the eulogy in Arabic with its Urdu translation in less than a week. It reflected not only his unexcelled mastery over the Arabic language, but also comprised precious pearls of spiritual wisdom and constituted remarkable evidence of the Divine source of the Promised Messiah’s knowledge. He addressed the rival ulema in the following terms:
Look, I cite the earth and the heavens as witnesses that from today I make this sign as decisive if I am truthful and God the Great knows I am truthful. It will never be within the range of possibility for Maulvi Sanaullah and all their ulema to compose the like of this eulogy together with its Urdu text in the course of five days. For, God the Almighty will break their pens and their minds deft. And Maulvi Sanaullah cannot have ground to suspect that the eulogy had been composed much earlier, for, if he would read it with his eyes open, he will find that it relates to the controversy. If I had, therefore, composed it before the event then surely he must credit me with foreknowledge of the hidden. (Ijaz-e-Ahmadi. p. 37)
By far the most eloquent and magnificent miracle that bears high and unimpeachable testimony to the Divine source of his inspiration, is the Khutba Ilhamia – the revealed sermon – delivered by the Promised Messiah at Qadian on April 11, 1900, before a large gathering of his votaries consisting, among others the renowned divine Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddin and the great Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim, Sialkoti. Never before had the Promised Messiah made a speech in Arabic nor was it customary among the Indian ulemas to address gatherings in Arabic. It was under Divine command that the Promised Messiah delivered the sermon which is a vast treasure-house of sublime excellencies of pure wisdom couched in powerful language of surpassing beauty, and in a charming style of elegant grace. When the Promised Messiah embarked on delivering the address, it seemed that some unseen hand held him in its grip, and it was a voice from the unknown that had made him its mouthpiece.
Since the Promised Messiah’s assignment consisted of rebutting the criticism the deprecators of Islam had levelled against the Holy Quran, it was necessary therefore that he should be inspired with deep insight into the eternal truths, abounding wisdom, and the curative properties and transforming qualities of the Quranic teachings so that he might effectively combat the current philosophies and creeds that tended to undermine faith in the hereafter, in angels, in a final reckoning and in an ultimate Divine purpose behind the creation of the universe and in the goal of human life. He came forward with the claim that God had, through His special benign Grace, granted him clear insight into the fundamentals of the Holy Quran and armed him with requisite knowledge of His attributes, of His purpose and of His Word and that as an advocate of His faith, he was divinely inspired to reinterpret the Quran in consonance with the prime purity of its transcendence. For him it was a living book brooking no change or amendment, self-explanatory, a life- giving miracle which embodies cures for the maladies of every age and is a compendium of all the moral and spiritual truths vital to the welfare and salvation of mankind. His exposition of the excellencies of the Holy Quran attracted a large number of votaries who took up the study of the Holy Quran with great avidity and making it their practical guide, found a new life of spiritual vigour. For them the Quran became a living message and Allah a living God. Angels, Day of Reckoning, life after death, ordinances of God, Divine revelation and Divine pleasure were no longer empty names nor His signs ancient history. They relived the first-hand experience of early Islamic life.
None took up the Promised Messiah’s challenge to compete with him in expounding the meaning and the philosophy of the Quranic commandments.
This claim was repeated by his son, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II, and remains a standing challenge. Again none came forward to demonstrate a comparable degree of spiritual truths and eternal wisdom or Divine knowledge in rival scriptures. The challenge is still here. It has been repeated over and over again.
The Promised Messiah had such absorbing love for the Holy Quran that he was as a reward granted the knowledge that Arabic was the original language of human speech and root of all the languages. His book Minanur Rahman on the subject created a stir in literary circles and was read with keen interest. His thesis rests on a scientific enquiry with sound reasoning, having originated from a single source – Arabic, have, through passage of time, undergone super-structural changes, due to a variety of factors that usually shape language and dialects.
No reformer worth his salt, can ever dare to ascribe his spiritual gifts to his own genius independent of a devotional allegiance to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, the central medium of Divine bounty and grace. The Promised Messiah claimed the honour of his high office through the interceding grace of the Holiest of the Holy. Said he. `All blessings are because of Muhammad’ (Haqiqatulvahi p. 71). He said, `There was a time when I was wholly engrossed in invoking God’s blessings on the Holy Prophet (peace and grace of Allah be on him), for, I believed that the ways of access to God were too subtle and were not open but through the medium of the Noble Prophet, as God says `Seek ye the means of approach to Him’. Then, after a while, I saw in a state of vision two water-carriers enter my house, one from the inner passage and the other from the outer passage, bearing on their backs skins full of light, They said `This is what you have been invoking on Muhammad (peace be on him)’.