A Response to the Letter of
MR ABDULLAH ATHAM
Just as I had completed writing this announcement today, I received a letter by post from Mr Abdullah Atham. His letter was in reply to the letter I wrote to him and Dr Clark regarding the aforementioned debate. Below, I present a reply in the form of his objections and my answers.
We do not believe in the notion that old teachings require new miracles. Therefore, we neither see any need for miracles nor do we find any capacity in ourselves to show a miracle.
Dear Sir, I did not use the word miracle in my letter. Indeed, showing a miracle is the work of no ordinary person, but of a prophet and messenger of Allah. However, as you believe and know, a tree is recognised by its fruit, and the fruits of faithfulness that the Holy Quran refers to are mentioned in the Holy Gospel as well. I hope you will have understood, and so to prolong this discourse is unnecessary. I only wish to inquire: do you not possess the ability to demonstrate these fruits of faithfulness at all?
In any case, if you are willing to show a miracle we will not close our eyes to it and will consider it our duty to rectify our mistake as much as possible in light of your miracle.
Undoubtedly what you have said is based on justice, for no one can categorically make such a statement unless they have regard for justice. However, here your statement, ‘and [we] will consider it our duty to rectify our mistake as much as possible in light of your miracle,’ needs some explanation. I have been sent only to convey the message to Allah’s creation that from among all of the world’s existing religions, the only religion that is true and acceptable in the sight of God Almighty is the one brought by the Holy Quran, and the door to enter the abode of salvation is 1لَا اِلٰہَ اِلَّا اللہُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللہِ and no other.
Are you prepared and willing to embrace this religion after witnessing such a sign? Your aforementioned phrase gives me hope that you will not refuse. If you are prepared for this, then the following statement ought to be published in three newspapers, namely Nur Afshan, Manshur-e-Muhammadi, and any Aryah newspaper, to the effect that you promise—upholding the belief that God Almighty is Omnipresent and Omniscient—that: ‘If after this debate, which is to be held on 22 May 1893, God Almighty helps Mirza Ghulam Ahmad by manifesting a sign in his support, of which he informs in advance, with the sign being fulfilled exactly as he informed, then upon witnessing such a sign, we vow that we will become Muslims without delay. We also promise to accept this sign without making any frivolous criticism. Moreover, such a sign will not be considered unconvincing and objectionable under any circumstance, except that a similar sign is also manifested by us within one year. For example, if in the form of a sign there was a prophecy that at a particular time a specific calamity would befall a certain person or group and if within the stipulated time it is fulfilled, then in all circumstances we would have to accept it unless we can produce the like of it. If after witnessing such a sign we neither embrace Islam nor are able to manifest a similar extraordinary sign within the same year, then we will give away half of our property in support of Islam as a penalty for breaking our promise. If we fail to act upon the second clause as well and break our pledge, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad will be free to publish, after this breach, any sign of divine wrath against us, either in newspapers or in his journals.’
You need only to have this announcement published in three newspapers along with your name, father’s name, religion, address, and attested by fifty respectable and credible witnesses from each party.
Since your purpose is to reveal the truth, and as this criterion is in accordance with both of our religions, so in God’s name, do not hesitate to accept. In any case, the time has now come for God Almighty to manifest the light and blessings of the true religion and bring the entire world under one faith. Therefore, if you muster the courage to take this path before others, and also to live up to your pledge with sincerity and determination, you will be considered truthful before God Almighty. This will be an everlasting sign of your piety.
However, you may ask: ‘We will do all of the above and accept Islam if we see a sign, fulfil the other aforementioned conditions and have this pledge published in advance in three newspapers; however, what will be your penalty if you turn out to be false, and fail to show a sign?’ The answer is that I will accept the punishment of death according to the teaching of the Torah. If it contravenes the law of the land, I will hand over all of my property to you. In this regard, I am prepared to give you any assurances that you may require in advance.
I call upon your good self to remember that in our estimation a miracle is something that appears only after a challenge has been made by the claimant, and must testify to something that lies within the realm of possibility.
I agree with this statement—indeed, this is what a challenge is. For instance, if a person claims to be from Allah and makes a prophecy in support of his claim as is beyond human ability, and the prophecy comes true, such a person would be considered truthful in accordance with the Torah, Deuteronomy 18:18. It is true, however, that such a sign should testify to something within the realm of possibility. For example, if someone claims to be God and makes a prophecy in support of his claim to divinity, it would not be permissible to consider him God even if his prophecy were to be fulfilled.
Here, I would like to ask you that when I claimed to be the recipient of divine revelation and to have been commissioned by Allah, Mirza Imam-ud-Din, with whom you are well acquainted, demanded a sign from me in an announcement published against me in Chashma-e-Nur, Amritsar, in 1888. At that time, in order to show him a sign, a prophecy was given which was published in Nur Afshan on 10 May 1888; the detailed account is also found within the same newspaper and also in my book A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, on pages 279-280. This prophecy was fulfilled on 30 September 1892, within the given time.
Thus, I ask you, as a test of your sense of justice, whether or not this is a sign? If in your opinion it is not, then why? If it is a sign, and you have also witnessed its fulfilment, and it has not only been published in Nur Afshan on 10 May 1888, but also in my announcement issued on 10 July 1888, long before it came to pass, then please do tell whether it is obligatory upon you or not to benefit from this sign and correct your error? Please do also inform me as to how you have changed your ways and to what extent you have forsaken the Christian doctrine? For this sign is not something of the past; in fact, it is very recent. It was published in Nur Afshan and in my announcement of 10 July 1888.
Moreover, it is in conformity with all of your conditions. In my opinion, this is a criterion to judge your sense of justice. If you accept this sign and rectify your error, as you claimed that you would, then I firmly believe that in the future also, you will be prepared for a significant transformation. This sign should move you to at least publish the admission on your part, that the faith of Islam, in all probability though not certainly, seems true to me; for the prophecy which had been made in support of its truth was fulfilled.
You are aware that Imam-ud-Din, who rejected Islam and is an atheist, demanded through an announcement a sign proving the truthfulness of Islam and of my being the recipient of divine revelation. Thus, God Almighty had shown a sign in his close relations as irrefutable evidence against him. You must respond as to whether you accept or reject this sign. Otherwise, this shall be the first instance in which you will be in my debt.
Prayer-duels are also counted among miracles, but according to the teachings of the Gospel, we cannot curse anyone. You are free to beseech whatever you like and then wait a year for an answer.
My Respected Sir, in a prayer-duel, there is no need to curse anyone else. Rather, it suffices for a Christian to say, for example, that he firmly proclaims that the Messiah is in fact God, that the Quran is not from God Almighty, and that if he is false in this assertion, God Almighty may curse him. This kind of a prayer-duel is not against the teaching of the Gospel; rather, if you read the Gospel carefully you will find that it accords with it completely.
Besides, as I have stated earlier, I am prepared to manifest a sign regardless of your incapability. I wholeheartedly agree with this, and you for your part should publish your declaration in keeping with the aforementioned conditions. Whenever you ask I will come to Amritsar immediately.
I already know that the Christian faith has been plunged into darkness since the day Christians gave the Messiah, peace be upon him, the place of God Almighty while rejecting Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the Chosen One, the truthful, perfect, holy, and the most exalted of all prophets. Therefore, I am most certain that no Christian has the power to compete with the living divine light of Islam. I find that the ‘salvation’ and ‘everlasting life,’ which the Christians always advocate, is as clearly evident among the elect of Islam as the shining sun. Islam has an extraordinarily distinct quality of drawing people out of darkness and into its light. Through the blessing of this light, believers manifest signs of God Almighty’s acceptance and are blessed with divine discourse. Further, God Almighty manifests in their persons the signs of His love. Thus, I declare and claim emphatically that only a true Muslim can live a life of faith. This very distinction is the sign of the truth of Islam.
Now that your letter has been precisely answered, I am sending this announcement in the form of a booklet to you and to Dr Clark through registered post. I have fully conveyed and completed my argument, it is for you to accept it or not.
2وَالسَّلَامُ عَلٰی مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الْھُدٰی
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad,
Qadian, District Gurdaspur
1 There is none worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. [Publisher]
2 And peace be on those who follow the guidance. [Publisher]