This argument, like the others, comprises a large number of subarguments. It is the argument of divine help. Without it a Divine Messenger cannot prove his contact with the Divine. Every Divine Messenger or leader is loved by God. His special relation to God cannot be proved unless the hand of God can be seen working behind him. God should stand by him because He stands by those whom He loves. A Messenger may claim special office on behalf of God, but if he does not receive from God the support which God’s favourite should receive, he must be dismissed as a pretender and a liar. It is impossible that God should appoint a Messenger or a deputy and show no special regard, interest, or love for him, that He should not help him when help is needed by him. Earthly kings help their deputies and messengers. They take care of them and give whatever help is necessary. The resources of God are infinite. He has knowledge of the unseen. He cannot fail to help his servants and deputies. A claimant to divine messengership who receives help and support from God is a true Messenger, for, it is impossible that God should abandon His true servants. It is as impossible for God to support a pretender and not to hold him answerable for his pretence, as for a liar and pretender to go about misleading God’s creatures with success. It is even more against reason and common sense that God should help, and help abundantly, such a liar and pretender. The Holy Quran says:
‘Allah has decreed, most surely I will prevail, I and My Messengers, Verily, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.’ – Al-Mujadilah, 22.
God has ordained that He and His prophets shall always prevail against others. This is evidence of His Power over all things. Those who bring messages from God must succeed. God is the Guarantor of their success. If this were not so, men would begin to have doubts about His Power and Dominion We read in the Holy Quran:
‘Most surely We help Our Messengers, and those who believe, in the present life and on the day when witnesses will stand forth’ – Al-Mumin, 22
‘But Allah grants to His Messengers power over whomsoever He pleases and Allah has power over all things.’ – Al-Hashr, 7.
Help for true Messengers, punishment for pretenders
It is evident from these verses that according to the Holy Quran God grants power and success to His Messengers. He makes them dominate others, possibly in the physical as well as in the spiritual sense. or only in the spiritual.
We also read in the Holy Quran how God deals with pretenders to messengership. We are told that they cannot be left to prosper. They must await divine punishment:
‘And, had he forged (and attributed) any sayings to Us, We would surely have seized him by the right hand, and then surely We would have severed his life-artery.’ – Al-Haqqah, 45-7.
The verse is very clear. If a messenger lies deliberately about God, claiming to have had messages from Him, God seizes him by the right hand and cuts asunder his life artery. God’s help and support are cut short for him. Instead, he is disgraced. We also read in the Holy Quran:
Who is more unjust than he who forges a lie against Allah or gives the lie to His Signs? Surely, the unjust shall not prosper.’ – Al-An’am, 22.
This verse leaves no doubt that the unjust cannot prosper according to the Law of God. How can one who lies about God, one who is spiritually the most unjust, succeed in fabricating false claims?
It appears, therefore, that God works in two ways. Firstly, He helps His Messengers, and gives them power and success. Secondly, if a person deliberately concocts a message and attributes it to God, not only is he refused help by God; he is discomfited, disgraced and destroyed by Him.
What I have said on the basis of common sense is duly supported by verses of the Holy Quran. According to the Quran, this is how God treats true and false Messengers. These are the two Laws of God.
If we consider the claims of Hazrat Mirza Sahib (on whom be peace) in the light of the Laws of God, his authenticity becomes as clear as day. He is proved a Messenger and a deputy of God. Before I proceed to show the different ways in which God helped him, it seems necessary to recount the circumstances in which he was Born, the conditions which could have helped him, and the conditions which stood in his way; also whether his claim was such as could reasonably be expected to succeed under his circumstances and the circumstances of his time.
Unfavourable circumstances and universal opposition
What were the conditions that could have helped him? He belonged to a respectable family. This has been the fortune of all Messengers of God. They have always been raised out of good families, to make it easy for people to accept and follow them. The family of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, once important, was no longer so. It was now a poor family compared to its former prosperity and influence. Both landed property and political power had all but gone. Political power had been confiscated by the Sikhs, and landed properties had to be ceded to the British, who had succeeded the Sikhs as rulers of the Punjab. Influence and wealth, therefore, did not exist. It could not be said that he owed his large following to his political or social status.
Nor did he hold the traditional rank of a doctor or scholar of religion. His education had been arranged through private tutors, so that it was little or nothing compared with what one could get in the old religious schools of the country. Neither in his district or province, nor outside, was he counted among the doctors of religion or the Ulema of Islam. People could not turn to him out of regard for proved scholarship and learning.
His family was not a family of Pirs (hereditary saints) or Sufis. Nor was he a successor to a saint or Sufi. Such status is enjoyed by many religious leaders, so that the following of the elder saint or Sufi becomes, on his death, the following of the successor. Hazrat Mirza Sahib had no such status and enjoyed no such advantage. He held no office in the Government of the day. He could not, therefore, attract anyone by reason of high position in Government.
A man of retiring nature, he preferred to live in solitude and seclusion; even those who lived near him did not know him. He had some visitors, but these were mostly the orphans and the needy. With them he shared his daily meals, often giving his own food to them and going hungry himself. Some of his visitors were interested in religion. Apart from the visitors I have mentioned, there were no others. He did not meet people and the people did not need to meet him.
As for circumstances, conditions, etc., which went against him, we must remember that Hazrat Mirza Sahib claimed to be the Messiah of Muslim Traditions. The first large group bound to resist the claim was the group of the Ulema. Acceptance of the claim meant an end of the hold the Ulema had enjoyed for hundreds of years over common Muslims. Small wonder the Ulema were vehemently opposed to him and his claim. The success of his claim meant defeat and failure for them. If people in general found a Messenger of God, and found him to be genuine, who would look to the Ulema for leadership and guidance?
The Gaddi Nashins (hereditary or traditional saints) also became his enemies. As the influence of Hazrat Mirza Sahib increased these saints were certain to lose their followers. They could no longer pose as Shaikhs or guides. They had to accept someone else as their Shaikh or guide. Loss of followers meant loss of income. The success of the Promised Messiah as leader and reformer was also to limit the life of licence which the traditional saints enjoyed as their right.
The rich too were against him. Hazrat Mirza Sahib invited them to observe the ordinances of Islam, and the rich were not accustomed to this. The daily obligations of Islam were to them a nuisance. At the same time he taught charity, equality and sympathy; equality between all, charity and sympathy for the poor and the weak. This the rich did not like. They could see that with Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s influence the social deprivation of the poor would disappear; the hold which the rich had over the poor would also disappear.
Followers of other religions could only be hostile. All religions other than Islam seemed threatened with defeat. A lamb has an instinctive fear of the tiger. So, all non-Islamic religions felt threatened by him. They did all they could to destroy him and his influence.
The ruling class were also against him. They had ever been afraid of Messiahs and Mahdis. Old tradition had long associated with these names disturbances, lawlessness and rebellion. True, Hazrat Mirza Sahib professed and promised loyalty to any existing government. But this did not satisfy them. Expressions of loyalty they regarded as part of his strategy. They thought that as soon as Mirza Sahib attained power, he would abandon his professions of peace and loyalty and start a rebellion.
The common people were also against him. Firstly, the common people are under the influence of their leaders, the Ulema, the saints the rich, the pundits, the padres. Secondly, they are ignorant and custom-ridden. They are against any new idea, any change of belief or outlook. The claim of the Promised Messiah was a novelty for them; therefore, partly under the influence of their leaders and partly out of ignorance, they too were against him.
In different ways, from different motives, all classes were hostile to Hazrat Mirza Sahib. They did what they could to destroy him. The Ulema prepared Fatwas of Kufr against him. They went to Mecca and Medina to obtain signatures of approval on them. True to their traditions, they invented strange causes for declaring Hazrat Mirza Sahib a Kafir and roused the masses by concocting all sorts of things against him.
The Sufi class also set their followers against him. They described his conception of religious merit and religious exercise as being contrary to all established conceptions. At the same time their leaders made exaggerated claims about their own spiritual powers and the closeness of their contact with God. Intimidating their followers and generally prejudicing them against Hazrat Mirza Sahib, they did not hesitate to invent stories about their own miraculous powers and cheat people by fraudulent activities. Some of them told their followers that if Mirza Sahib was genuine the sin of denying him would be borne by them. The followers need have no anxiety. By methods of this kind they kept alive a large part of the opposition.
The rich fought against him with their wealth and influence. Leaders of other religions joined the Muslim opponents of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. The ruling class used their own special influence to set people against him. Those who wished to believe and join him incurred their displeasure. The common people indulged in boycotts, made trouble, and persuaded their leaders against him.
In short, as many circumstances as there could be were against him. Opposed by all classes and by followers of all religions, Muslims and others, he found himself one against all. All joined together in opposing him.
Now, how was his teaching related to current tendencies? If it only promoted current beliefs, current practices, it could be said that his success was not due to divine help or divine intervention, but was due to the tendencies of the time. These tendencies might not have been clearly formulated by anybody, yet it might be said that what Mirza Sahib taught and preached was in accordance with these tendencies and therefore people flocked to him. They found him saying the same things, promoting the same ends, as them- selves. Tendencies current at any time can be of two kinds: tendencies of a majority, or tendencies of an intellectual minority, the result of advanced thinking and experimentation. Thoughts and beliefs acceptable to a majority are easily propagated. Thoughts and beliefs acceptable only to an intellectual minority are also easily propagated. The thoughts and beliefs of such a minority meet with some initial hostility, but if founded on reason, experience, and good observation, they are bound to spread sooner or later. Their spread waits for the spread of knowledge.
Teaching contrary to current tendencies
The thoughts and beliefs which Hazrat Mirza Sahib advocated were of neither kind. He invited his generation to accept ideas which the majority of them were not willing to accept. Nor were his thoughts and beliefs acceptable to the intellectuals. His teaching, therefore, was opposed to the thoughts of both the masses and the intellectual classes. He had to struggle against both. He had to fight traditional ideas as well as the ideas of men of knowledge, the votaries of current culture. Those who subscribed to traditional beliefs described him as a non-conformist, a seceder, a non-believer. Those who subscribed to current science described him as an obscurantist a diehard, a conservative. When he taught against the belief that Jesus was alive, against superstitious miracles, misconceptions about angels, abrogation of parts of the Quran, crudities about Heaven and Hell, and an over-literal meaning of religious ordinances, he offended the common man, When he insisted on the importance of religious observances like the prohibition of interest the belief in angels, the efficacy of prayer, the truth of Heaven and Hell, the validity of revelation and miracles, he roused the intellectuals against him. He was in agreement neither with the common many nor with the intellectual few. It cannot be said, therefore, that he succeeded because he swam with the current. He was against tendencies which already existed, as well as tendencies which were likely to grow in the immediate future.
There were thus no natural conditions or circumstances which could help in the promotion of his claim. On the other hand, all sorts of circumstances were against him. His personal circumstances could not help his claim. He possessed neither riches nor influence nor personal or family prestige. Nor could he hope to succeed because of the circumstances of his time. What he taught was not in accord with contemporary tendencies. If he succeeded inspite of this complete lack of natural advantages, the success of his claim has to be attributed to the special help and concern shown by God. not to natural circumstances.
Success under divine help
I now proceed to describe how, in spite of universal hostility and the absence of natural advantages, Hazrat Mirza Sahib succeeded in his claim. I have already pointed out that the Holy Quran lays down as God’s law that God does not spare for long those who invent lies about Him. But we find that Hazrat Mirza Sahib published the revelations which he received from God and which addressed him as a reformer. Yet he lived for forty years after the publication of those revelations and during this long time he continued to receive the Help and Grace of God, in small ways and large ones. If an impostor could live so long and prosper so well after the publication of fabricated revelations, then, God forbid, we would have to admit that the criterion laid down in verse 69:45 of the Holy Quran quoted above was false and that even the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace and the blessings of God) could not cite this criterion in proof of his claim. But the criterion laid down by the Holy Quran cannot be false. If it cannot be false, and it is not false, then it should also apply to the claims of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. If he published the revelations received by him, and lived long after their publication, and God did not only spare him but even helped him, then we have to admit that he was a true one sent by God.
At the time when he published his revelations he was not known to many, certainly not to the world at large. After their publication, in spite of untold hostility from all classes, he won the esteem and allegiance of large numbers, so much so that even his enemies were obliged to show regard for him. He began to be called an important Muslim leader. The Government of the day, which at first suspected him, came to trust and respect him as an influence for peace and goodwill. His name spread to many parts of the world, and among his followers could be counted many sincere devotees who would sacrifice their lives for his sake. Even in European countries where people are generally hostile to Islam, he found followers who accepted Islam on hearing his message. They came to feel real and deep love for him. One of them wrote to the present writer saying that he was deep in Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s debt. He owed the blessing of Islam to Hazrat Mirza Sahib. Therefore, he wrote, every night on going to bed he prayed for Hazrat Mirza Sahib and added this prayer to the usual prayer for the blessings of God on the Holy Prophet The devotion, esteem, and affection which Hazrat Mirza Sahib came to inspire, despite universal hostility in the beginning, would have been impossible had he been an impostor.
When Hazrat Mirza Sahib announced his claim, he was alone. Hostility of the worst kind by Maulvis, Pirs, Gaddi Nashins, pundits, padres, by rich and poor alike, and (at least in the beginning) by the ruling class, greeted the announcement of his claim. All endeavoured to prevent any attention being paid to it. In spite of this, people began to join him in twos and threes. He found followers among rich and poor, among the Ulema as well as Sufis. Muslims joined him as well as Hindus and Christians, from his own country and from abroad. His following increased. When he died they could be counted in six figures. The numbers continue to increase. In Afghanistan, they could be found in every province, even after the stoning of several Ahmadis on the orders of Afghan rulers, instigated by the Mullas. Members of the Movement are to be found in Arabia; Iran; Russia; Egypt; West, East, North, and South Africa; Australia; the USA; and Europe. Hazrat Mirza Sahib belonged to a politically subject people; yet he found followers among the free nations of the world. Converts came from religions which for generations had maintained a deep and incurable prejudice against Islam. Success of this kind and on this scale cannot be accounted for without divine help.
His enemies also tried to murder or poison him. He was dragged into the law courts. False accusations were brought against him. Christians, Muslims, Hindus all joined in these attacks. They almost put the Second Messiah on the cross as they had the first. But all attacks failed. He remained safe and, thanks to divine help and grace, went on prospering.
The raison d’etre of his advent, let us remember, was the revival and propagation of Islam. For these two great objects God gave him a sincere following; also money, so that at present the community works with an annual budget of between four and five hundred thousand rupees. Periodicals devoted to Islam are published in the Punjab, Bengal, Ceylon, Mauritius and America. Hundreds of books have been written in support of him. God inspires people and opens their hearts to his message, so that they turn to him and offer him loyalty and help. Thousands who have joined him have done so because they had visions or revelations or premonitions of some kind in which the truth of Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s claim was communicated to them by God. They were against him, yet God put love for him into their hearts.
Hazrat Mirza Sahib met with success in spite of universal hostility, in spite of numerous natural disadvantages and general initial helplessness.
The Law of God is that a true claimant receives divine help and a pretender suffers defeat, disgrace and death. This being the law – and a law more just cannot be laid down – then no doubt is left about the truth of the claim of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. If his claim is still in doubt, the question is; What is the evidence for the truth of other prophets celebrated in religious history?
Points which distinguish Divine Messengers from others
Let me make my point clear. Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s claim to spiritual office was genuine not Just because he started in poor circumstances and then attained honour and success. Honour and success often come to those who are insignificant at first. Nadir Shah was a shepherd and became famous and important. Napoleon was a poor mall but he became a world conqueror. In spite of phenomenal success, they cannot claim to have been appointed by God to do the things they did. They cannot be said to have received the gift of His grace and His love. But Hazrat Mizra Sahib can claim to have been appointed to spiritual office and to have been honoured by the grace of special divine help because:
- Hazrat Mirza Sahib claimed early on that he had been appointed by God to a spiritual office. If his claim was a pretence, a deliberate lie, he should have met with disgrace and even death. According to the Law of God, this is the end of all false claimants.
- There were no natural advantages which could have helped him in his claim
- Not only was there no natural advantage; he had, in addition, to confront the hostility of every class, every people. He had no friends or followers who could have given the Movement a start
- He taught and persuaded people to believe things which were against current trends among the orthodox as well as liberal modernist Muslims.
- In spite of these difficulties he succeeded and founded a Movement. Beliefs and propositions which his contemporaries hated became accepted. He remained safe from the attacks of his enemies. The help of god descended on him in many different ways.
These five essentials distinguish a true from a false claimant to spiritual office. They can never all be present together in a false claimant. If they are all present in any claimant, he is a true one from God. If even this criterion is doubted, we have no criterion for distinguishing true from false claimants.
This criterion does not apply to persons who make no claim to spiritual office. It does not apply, for instance, to Nadir Shah or Napoleon. Nor does it apply to those who do not claim spiritual office conferred by God, but claim to be God or to share some divine attributes. Nor does the criterion apply to those who are insane, or to those who regard their own speech as the speech of God. The Shaikhiya sect held beliefs of this kind. They thought that at all times in the world there were men who could be said to represent the will of the Mahdi. As the will of the Mahdi is the Will of God, whatever happens to drop from the lips of such men or to emerge from their hearts is from God. Ali Muhammad the Bab, and Bahaullah, the founder of Bahaism, both belonged to this sect. As the sect believe that certain individuals incarnate God, that their speech is His speech, their thoughts His thoughts, they do not incur the penalty laid down in verse 69:45 of the Holy Quran. This verse relates only to claimants who forge lies about God.
A person who achieves some success in his claims cannot claim divine sanction for them if his success can be attributed to one natural advantage or another, say personal influence, party support, a teaching which follows some current tendency; or if he invites men to believe in scientific discoveries that are certain to become, in the course of time, generally accepted knowledge; or if his success can be attributed to lack of general opposition.