‘The proof of the sun is the sun’
I have shown that the present is the time for the coming of a reformer. I have also shown that, according to the testimony of the Holy Prophet of Islam (on whom be peace), the reformer indicated at the present time is none other than the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement is the only claimant to this office. To deny him and his claim is to deny an ancient law of God, to ignore the prophecies of the Holy Prophet.
I now proceed to enumerate arguments which go to prove (apart from the need of the time and apart from the earlier prophecies), that the claim of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) that he is the Messenger appointed by God for our time is just and true.
The first argument I wish to submit is the testimony of his personal purity.
Personal purity is universally admitted as one of the strongest possible proofs of the general truthfulness of a person. In the present context, however, I wish to draw on the argument as stated in the Holy Quran.
In the Surah ‘Yunus‘ (chapter 10) of the Holy Quran we have the following:
‘And when Our clear signs are recited to them, those who look not for the meeting with Us, say, “Bring a Quran other than this or change it”; say, “It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed, I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the punishment of an awful day.” Say, “If Allah had so willed, I should not have recited it to you nor would He have made it known to you. I have indeed lived among you a whole life-time before this. Will you not then understand?” ‘ Yunus, 16-17
The passage reproduces a dispute between the Holy Prophet and those who denied him. It ends up with a challenge which says that the Holy Prophet has had until now an unimpeachable reputation of personal purity. This being so, he cannot suddenly begin to be different.
This important argument laid down by the Holy Quran for the truth of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) can be used as a criterion for the truth or falsehood of every claimant to the divine office. Proof of the presence of the sun lies in the sun, in the light and heat which it sheds over us. Similarly evidence of the truth of a truthful person lies in his personal purity, which speaks with an eloquence all its own. It speaks to friend and foe, to strangers and confidants, to those who are near to him and those who are not so near. It says to them all: ‘Think twice before you brand me a liar. For you have known me as a truthful person and have judged me as such. If you now declare me a liar, you will have no means left to discriminate between truth and error. You will have no criterion for judging between one man and another.’ Everything is bound by continuity. It grows. It cannot jump from one stage to another without going through the stages which lie in between. A good man becomes good and attains goodness by stages. So a bad man becomes bad and drops to a depth of evil by stages. A man who has been running westward will not suddenly find himself at the eastern horizon. A man who has been running southward will not find himself at the northern horizon. To all those who had decided to deny and to decry him, the Holy Prophet seems to say:
I have spent a lifetime among you. I was a child and I grew up in your midst. I became an adult and I lived among you. I arrived at middle age and I am among you. You have seen me in public and in private. Whatever I have said or done is known to you. There is none amongst you who imputed to me before this any lies, excesses, intrigues, fabrications, transgressions, any attempt to seek power or dominion over others. You have observed me in many different contexts and have tested and tried me in many different ways. In every context and in every way you found me stable and steadfast in my regard for truth and honesty. You found me free from every evil, every impurity. My friends as well as my present enemies knew and addressed me as the ‘trusted’ or the truthful one. I could be trusted for honesty and truthfulness until yesterday. I could not lie about anything. I would sacrifice myself for the sake of truth. My life, in fact, was an honour and embellishment for truth. You trusted me in all things, great and small. You accepted anything I told you. But now suddenly you turn on me and tell me I am the worst of human beings, the most hardened liar, and so on. I did not lie about men, but now suddenly have I started lying about God? Is such a sudden change ill one’s character possible? Does human experience offer any example of it? If I had been truthful and trustworthy for a day or so or even for a year or so, you could have said I had put on an appearance, had adopted an external bearing, to mislead and to misguide others. But I could not have maintained such an appearance for a lifetime. You have seen me as Child and as man. Can a Child put on an appearance of good conduct? The years of childhood are the years of innocence. No child can put on an appearance of conduct which is not natural to him. Then during adolescence when one is subject to impulses and passions, how could I conceal my real character behind a facade? You must think and tell me how I could possibly fabricate a character which was not my own. If on thinking about it you find all my earlier life spotless and clean, an embodiment, in fact, of integrity and honesty, then you have no right to brand me a liar and a dishonest person today. Seeing the sun you cannot deny that it is day. Seeing its light you cannot complain of darkness. Do you need evidence of my truth? My life until today lies open before you. What more evidence do you need? My character is my witness. My life is my evidence. Consult your conscience, hear your own inner voice. You will hear it say to you that my life is truth personified. I am the truth and the truth is me. I honour truth and truth honours me. To prove my truth I need no argument, because I am my own argument. If you want the proof of the sun, you have to look at the sun. The proof of the sun is the sun.
This is the argument by which Abu Bakr, the first believer, was consciously and unconsciously converted. This is the argument which has ever brought about the conversion of honest seekers after truth. It is well known that when the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace and the blessings of God) made known his claim, Abu Bakr, his bosom friend, was at a friend’s house. A woman servant of his happened to see him there and told him about it: ‘The wife of your friend Muhammad tells her friends that her husband has become a prophet, just like Moses.’ Abu Bakr said not a word, but rising at once he made for the Holy Prophet’s house. He asked if it was true that he had claimed to be a prophet. The Holy Prophet said yes and Abu Bakr believed. The Holy Prophet said, ‘I never invited anyone to Islam without his hesitating or stopping to think about it. But when I mentioned it to Abu Bakr, he did not hesitate for a moment and believed at once.’ Abu Bakr did not ask for signs or evidence. He found himself constrained to believe as soon as he heard the Holy Prophet’s claim. How was Abu Bakr persuaded? He was persuaded by the eloquence of the Holy Prophet’s character. A man’s character is his evidence.
Khadija the Holy Prophet’s wife, Ali his young cousin, Zaid bin Harith his freed slave, believed in the same way and by the same argument. Khadija has narrated the story of her conversion. When the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) saw Gabriel in the cave Hira and received through him the first divine revelation commanding him to proclaim his prophethood, he came home to tell Khadija about it. ‘I am afraid for myself,’ he said. Khadija in reply comforted the Holy Prophet. ‘No, no,’ said she, ‘Allah will not disgrace you. You are kind to your relations. You help the helpless. You have the virtues we had forgotten. You entertain your guests and help those in trouble.’
The first proof of the authenticity of a claimant to spiritual office is his own self or character. This self is as eloquent as anything which can be seen or heard. As proof it is self-sufficient. It needs no further support, no miracles or signs. This proof is today provided by God to establish the authenticity of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Hazrat Mirza Sahib lived at Qadian, the population of which consists of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. He grew up, therefore, under the eyes of three of India’s most important religious communities. His family’s relations with these communities were not as happy as they might have been. The British had taken possession of the Punjab when Hazrat Mirza Sahib was a child. Until then, the inhabitants of Qadian and its environs had lived as tenants and serfs of his family. With the coming of the British a great change had taken place. The old inhabitants of Qadian were determined to make the most of this change. They had started working for their release from old contracts and commitments. The result was that almost the whole village had entered into litigation with the father of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. Under his father’s orders he had to take part in the resulting court proceedings. Left to himself he would have led a life of study and seclusion, but his situation, for some time at least, demanded that he should confront people from his own village and appear ill court as one against many.
The Sikh inhabitants of the village were especially hostile to his family. This was because some time before the Sikhs had driven Mirza Sahib’s family out of the place and had taken possession of their lands. The returning prosperity of the family of Hazrat Mirza Sahib was not welcome to the Sikhs. They were rivals of his family.
From early life Hazrat Mirza Sahib had been deeply interested ill the study and service of Islam. Often he met Christians, Hindus and Sikhs in public debate and spoke and wrote against them. This made all religious communities interested in him.
Hazrat Mirza Sahib was well known to the leaders of all religious communities. He lived and moved among his rivals. But all of them, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Muslim, agreed that Mirza Sahib had always led a blameless life, had shown the utmost kindness and consideration to others, and had been consistently truthful and honest in all his dealings, He was universally trusted. In disputes with his family, the litigants often offered to accept arbitration by Hazrat Mirza Sahib. In short, those who knew him, knew him as a most honourable and trustworthy person, one who would never com- promise with truth and justice. Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, though strongly disagreeing with him on religious matters, testified to the purity of his personal life and character.
How greatly esteemed Hazrat Mirza Sahib was by those who knew him (and he was well known in the circles in which he moved) may be gauged from the writing of a Muslim leader and scholar who later became one of his worst enemies; who, in fact, led the hostility which was to grow later against Mirza Sahib and his claim – the first to issue the Fatwa of Kufr against Mirza Sahib. This Muslim leader was no ordinary person. He was Maulvi Muhammad Husain of Batala the acknowledged chief of the Ahl-i-Hadith sect. He wrote a review of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya, the first big book by Hazrat Mirza Sahib. Writing in his journal, Ishaat al-Sunnah, he testified to the character and purity of life of Hazrat Mirza Sahib in the following words:
‘The author of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya is well known to us. In fact, few know more about his thoughts, aspirations, and circumstances etc., than we do. He belongs to our district and when young, attended the same courses and the same instruction as we did. We read Qutabi and Sharah Mulla together. since those days we have corresponded, communicated and conferred regularly. Nobody, therefore, should think it an exaggeration if we say that we know the author and his circumstances rather well.’ Ishaat-al-Sunnah, vi:7
So far, the reviewer affirms that his testimony is not based on hearsay, but on long, intimate personal association with the author. But look at the testimony itself:
This book, ill our opinion [referring to the Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya], is without parallel in our time, and in view of the circumstances and needs of our time there has not been another one like it in the entire history of Islam. About the future no one can say. ‘Only Allah will reveal the truth after this.’ As for the author, we can say there have been few Muslims, if any, who have been so constant in their service to Islam, service by purse and pen, by personal character, and by speech and silence. If we are accused of exaggeration common in Asia, we should be told at least of .one book written in our time, which answers the objections of the enemies of Islam, such as the Arya Sect and the Brahmo Samaj, with the same energy and earnestness. We should also be told of two or more friends of Islam who have resolved to serve Islam in the same way, with purse and pen and with speech and silence; whose lives are similarly devoted; who are able manfully to challenge the enemies of Islam and the deniers of revelation to come and witness these experiences and have their doubts removed; and who have made non-Muslims taste the truth of Islam. (Ishaat al-Sunnah, Vl. 7)
The writer of this review, Maulvi Muhammad Husain of Batala later led the opposition to the Promised Messiah’s claim and spent the rest of his life denouncing him as a Kafir and a liar, much like the Meccan deniers of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him), who before the declaration of the Prophet’s claim had proclaimed him as Muhammad, the trustworthy, the truthful. The opposition and hostility which arises after the announcement of one’s claim cannot have much meaning. We know from the Holy Quran that it is impossible for a person, proved virtuous and true in the eyes of friend and foe alike and through all kinds of trials, suddenly to turn round and begin to lie about God. Against such sudden metamorphosis God Himself is the surest safeguard. God is not a tyrant. If a man’s life has been known to be blameless even by his enemies, God will not reward him by changing him all at once into the worst of human beings. A man who remains steadfast through the worst temptations cannot suddenly begin to lie about God and himself.
The Holy Prophet (on whom be peace and the blessings of God) challenged his enemies again and again and asked them to point to the slightest moral lapse in his early life. Did they not, instead, think him the best of human beings? Nobody accepted the challenge. Similarly, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) declared that he had been assured that his opponents would not be able to point to any lapse of a personal character in his life (Nazul al-Masih, p. 212). Supported by this assurance he challenged his opponents again and again and asked them to point to a single lapse in his earlier life and dealings. Had they not observed him as boy and man? Had they not found him always an example of personal goodness? He invited his enemies again and again to deny this and make a declaration to the contrary. Those who had known him when he was young were still alive. They might have become his worst opponents, but they could not hide the truth about his earlier life. This, according to universal testimony, was the very best one can imagine. His was a godly life, according to the declared testimony of the many Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who knew him as a child and continued to know him as a man.
In short, personal purity is one of the strongest arguments which can be urged in support of any claimant to divine office. It is rightly urged in the Holy Quran on behalf of the Holy Prophet. It may be rightly urged on behalf of the Promised Messiah. The truth of his claim is upheld by the acknowledged purity of his life before his claim. This is not denied by his enemies. His personal character, therefore, is proof of his authenticity.