I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the Accursed
In the name of the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
We praise Him and invoke His blessings on His Noble Prophet
With the grace and mercy of God, He, the only Helper
On the Reader peace and the Mercy of God and His Blessings!
The following pages contain an account of the beliefs and teachings of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, an elucidation of the claims of its Holy Founder and the arguments on which they are based. My object in writing these pages, dear reader, is to deliver to you and others the Message which God has addressed to mankind today to bring them again to Islam and its Holy Prophet (on whom be peace and the blessings of God). If you take the trouble to read these through you will not only earn my deep gratitude but also the Grace and Approval of God.
The names Ahmadi, Ahmadiyyat
A point I wish to make quite clear at the outset is that the names Ahmadi, Ahmadiyyat, etc., do not point to a new religion. Ahmadis are Muslims and their religion is Islam. The slightest deviation from it they consider wrong and degrading. True, Ahmadis have adopted the names Ahmadiyyat, Ahmadiyya Movement, Ahmadiyya Jama’at and so on. But the adoption of a name is not the adoption of a new religion. The name Ahmadiyyat is the name of a reinterpretation or a restatement of the Religion of the Holy Quran. It is a restatement presented under divine guidance by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. The names Ahmadi, Ahmadiyyat, etc., are meant only to distinguish Ahmadi Muslims from other Muslims, Ahmadi interpretation from other interpretations of Islam.
The name Islam
The name Islam is the name which God Himself gave to the followers of the Holy Prophet and which long before him had found an honoured place in the prophecies of earlier prophets. Thus the Holy Quran says:
‘He [God] gave you the name Muslims before, as well as in this [the Quran].’l
And in the Bible:
‘Thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.’2
No name can be more blessed than the name which God Himself chose for His servants and which He invested with importance by making other prophets prophesy about it. Who will give up this name? It is dearer to us than our lives. The religion it connotes is for us the only religion, the only source of spiritual life. But as in our time different groups of Muslims, out of regard for their special beliefs and outlook, have adopted different names, it became necessary for us to adopt a name to distinguish ourselves from others. The best name we could adopt was the name Ahmadi or Ahmadiyyat. This name has a significance for our time. Ours is the time appointed for the propagation, all over the world, of the Universal Message of the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace). It is the time for the diffusion of the Praises of God and for the spread of a knowledge of His Bounty and Beauty, the time for the manifestation of the attribute of Ahmadiyyat, the attribute of Muhammadiyyat having had its manifestation already. A better name could not have been adopted by us. We are Muslims heart and soul. We hold the beliefs a true Muslim must hold, and deny the beliefs a true Muslim must deny. If, in spite of our sincere subscribing to the truths of Islam and our conforming to the Commands of God, anybody attributes unbelief, or Kufr, to us and describes us as innovators or as believers in a new religion, he is unkind and cruel. He is answerable to God for this. A man may be convicted for what he declares with his mouth, not for what he holds in his heart. For who can say what is in a man’s heart? If a person accuses another of saying one thing and believing another, he raises himself to the status of God. Only God knows what is in human hearts. Only He can say what a man thinks and believes. The Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) admitted this human limitation. And yet, who could know another man’s heart better than he? Says he:
‘There are amongst you those who bring their disputes to me. I am a man as much as you. It is possible that some amongst you may espouse their cause better than others. Therefore, if I give to one what is due to another, I give to him a part of the fire. It is for him to refuse.’3
We read in the Traditions that Usama bin Zaid was appointed commander of a division by the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace). Usama confronted an unbeliever whom he attacked. When he was about to be killed, this unbeliever recited the Kalima, affirming his faith in the truth of Islam. Usama killed him nevertheless. When the Holy Prophet heard of this, he castigated Usama. Usama said in his own defense:
‘O Prophet of God, he did so out of fear,’ upon which the Holy Prophet said, ‘Why? Did you split his heart to see?’
Knowledge of what passes in human hearts is not given to ordinary mortals. It was not for Usama to guess whether this man’s affirmation of Islam was out of fear or conviction. Therefore, we may be condemned for what we declare, not for what may be supposed to lie in our hearts. What lies in our hearts is known only to God. He who claims to condemn another for what is in his heart exceeds his limits and is answerable to God for his excess. So, while we of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at declare ourselves Muslims, nobody has the right to say that our Islam is a pretense; that at heart we deny Islam or deny the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace); that we subscribe to a new Kalima or turn to a new Qibla in our prayers. If it were right for others to attribute such things to us, it would be right for us to attribute such things to others. We could say that their declaration of Islam is a pretense, that they, God forbid, deny Islam and the Holy Prophet when they repair to their homes. But we cannot be led astray by opposition. We will not say of anyone that he says one thing and believes another; that he has one thing on his lips and another in his heart. In deference to the Shariyat, our judgment of others will be based on what they openly affirm and acknowledge.
Beliefs held by Ahmadis
I now proceed to enumerate the beliefs held by our Jama’at so that you can see whether any of them are contrary to Islam:
- We believe that God exists; to subscribe to a belief in His existence is to affirm the most important truth; it is not to follow an illusion or superstition.
- We believe that God is One. He has no partner here or in Heaven. Everything else is His creation, dependent on His help and sustenance. He is without son or daughter or father or mother or wife or brothers, Unique in His Oneness and in His Individuality.
- We believe that God is Holy, free from all defects and full of all perfection’s. There is no imperfection which may be found in Him, and no perfection which may not be found in Him. His Power is unlimited. So is His Knowledge. He encompasses everything and there is nothing which encompasses Him. He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden, the Creator and Master of all creation. His control has never failed in the past, nor is it failing at present, nor will it fail in the future. Free from death, He is the Living, the Enduring. He suffers no defect or decay. His actions are willed, not forced or constrained. He rules over the world today as He ever ruled before. His attributes are eternal, His power always evident.
- We believe that angels are a part of God’s creation. They follow the law laid down in the Quran-‘they do what they are commanded.’ They have been created in His Wisdom for the discharge of determinate duties. Their existence is real and references to them in the Holy Book are not metaphorical. They depend on God in the same way as men or His other creatures. He is not dependent on them for the manifestation of His power. Had He willed, He would have created the universe without angels, but His perfect wisdom willed their creation. So angels came into being. God created light for the eye and bread for hunger. He created light and bread not because He was in need of them but because man was in need of them. The angels only manifest the Will and Wisdom of God.
- We believe that God speaks to His chosen servants and reveals to them His purpose. Revelation from God descends in words. The recipient provides neither the meaning nor the words of revelation. Both come from Him. Revelation provides real sustenance for man. Man lives by it, and through it man comes to have contact with God. The words which embody a revelation of God are unique in their power and majesty. No man can coin such words. They carry treasures of knowledge and wisdom. They are like a mine the stone of which is the more valuable the deeper you dig. Indeed, a mine is nothing compared with revelation. A mine can be exhausted, but not the wisdom of revelation. Revelation is like a sea with a scented surface and a bed strewn with the most precious pearls. Those who turn to the surface enjoy the fragrance of the surface, and those who dive deep find the pearls below. Revelation is of many kinds. Sometimes it consists of ordinances and laws, sometimes of exhortations. Sometimes it brings knowledge of the unseen, sometimes knowledge of spiritual truths. Sometimes it conveys the goodwill and approval of God, some times His disapproval and displeasure, sometimes His love and regard, sometimes warnings and rebukes. Sometimes it teaches points of morality, sometimes His insight into secret evils. In short, our belief is that God communicates His Will to His servants. These communications vary according to the circumstances and the spiritual status of the recipient. Of all divine communications, the most perfect, the most complete and comprehensive, is the Holy Quran. The law laid down in the Holy Quran and the spiritual guidance it contains are to last for ever. They cannot be superseded by any future revelation or communication from God.
- We also believe that when darkness prevails in the world and human beings sink deep in sin and evil, when without the help of God it becomes difficult for them to release themselves from the hold of Satan, then out of His Mercy and Beneficence, God chooses from out of His own loving and loyal servants those whom He charges with the duty to guide the world. God says, ‘And there are not a people but had had a warner.’4 This means that God has sent His Messengers to all peoples of the world. Their pure lives and perfect example ever serve as guides for other human beings. Through them God reveals His will and purpose. Those who turn away from them degrade themselves. Those who turn to them earn the love of God. The doors of His blessings are opened to them. His grace and mercy descend on them. They become spiritual preceptors for generations to come and attain greatness in this world and the next.
- We also believe that Divine Messengers, who in the past have helped mankind out of darkness and evil, have belonged to different levels of spiritual greatness and have fulfilled in different degrees the divine purpose which determined their advent. The greatest of them was the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace and the blessings of God). God described him as ‘the chief of men, a messenger unto all mankind’. God revealed to him the knowledge of good and evil and blessed him with His help. The most powerful earthly rulers trembled in awe of him. The entire earth was as sacred as a mosque to him. The time came when his followers could be seen in every part of the world; in every part there were believers who bowed and prostrated themselves before the One God, the God without an equal. Justice began to reign instead of injustice, kindness instead of cruelty. If the earlier prophets had lived in the time of our Holy Prophet, they would have had to obey and follow him. Truly has the Quran said:
And remember the time when ALLAH took a covenant from the people through the prophets, saying “Whatever I give you of the Book and Wisdom and then there comes to you a Messenger, fulfilling that which is with you, you shall believe in him and help him.” ‘5
Truly has the Holy Prophet himself (on whom be peace and the blessings of God) said:
‘If Moses and Jesus were alive today, they would have had to believe in me and follow me.’6
- We also believe that God hears the prayers of His suppliants and servants. He helps them out of difficulties. He is a Living God, His living character being evident in all things, at all times. The guidance that comes from God is not like the scaffold we build when we dig for a well, to be destroyed after the well has been built, being required no more; a hindrance rather than a help. The guidance that comes from the Living God is like the light, but for which we should see nothing; it is like the spirit, but for which everything would become dead. Take away the spirit and we would be only lifeless masses. It is not true that God created the world and then chose to sit by. He continues His beneficent and benevolent interest in His servants and creatures. When they feel humble and weak, He turns to them with His help. If they forget Him, He reminds them of Himself and of His concern and solicitude for them. Then through special Messengers He reassures them, saying:
‘I am near indeed. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he prays to Me. So that they should hearken to Me and believe in Me that they may go aright.’7
That is, God hears the prayers of His men. It is up to men to believe in Him and pray to Him. If they do so, they will have guidance from Him.
- We also believe that from time to time God determines and designs the course of events in special ways. Events of this world are not determined entirely by the laws known as the laws of nature. Besides these laws, there are special laws through which God manifests His might, interest, and purpose. It is these special laws which (constitute evidence of the Will and Power and Love of God, but which many out of ignorance deny. Such men believe in nothing besides the laws of nature. Yet laws of nature may be laws of nature but not laws of God. Laws of God are laws through which God helps His chosen ones, those whom He loves; through them He disgraces and destroys the enemies of His friends. If there were no such laws, could the weak and friendless Moses have triumphed over a cruel and mighty Pharaoh? Could Moses succeed and Pharaoh fail while Moses was weak and Pharaoh strong? If there are no laws other than the laws of nature, how could the Holy Prophet Muhammad have triumphed against an Arabia determined to put an end to him and his mission? In every encounter God helped the Holy Prophet and made him triumph over his enemies. Every attack the enemies made ended in failure, and at last, with ten thousand saints, he reentered the valley out of which, ten years before, he had had to flee for his life in the company of only one self-sacrificing friend. Can laws of nature account for such events? Can they permit such things? Laws of nature only guarantee the success of the strong against the weak; and conversely, the failure of the weak against the strong.
- We also believe that death is not the end of all existence for human beings. Man survives death and has to account for his deeds in the Hereafter. Those who do good deeds merit generous rewards. Those who offend against His teachings and commandments meet the punishment which is their due. Nothing can avert this reckoning. Human beings must survive and face it. A man may be burnt to ashes and the ashes dispersed in the air; he may be eaten by birds or animals or worms or reduced to dust and the dust changed into something else; he will nevertheless live after death and meet his Maker to give an account of his deeds. The Power of God guarantees human survival. It is not necessary that the human body should remain intact in order that the human soul may survive. God has the power to restore a man to life from the meanest particle or atom of his soul or being. That is how it will happen. The body may be reduced to ashes, but the ashes need not disappear into nothing. Nor can the spirit, housed in the body, pass into nothing. Not without the Will of God.
- We believe that non-believers in God and enemies of His revealed guidance, unless forgiven out of His infinite mercy, will stay in a place called Hell. Extremes of heat and cold will be the punishments awarded in this place, but the object will not be to give pain to the inmates, but to reform them. In Hell, unbelievers and enemies of God will spend their days in wailing and woe, in regrets over days spent in evil. They will continue so until the Mercy of God, which encompasses all things, will encompass the evil-doers and their evil also. Then will the Promise of God be fulfilled which the Holy Prophet announced.
‘A time will come when no one will be left in Hell; winds will blow and the windows and doors of Hell will make a rattling noise on account of the blowing winds.’8
- We believe that those who believe in God, His prophets, His angels and His books; who affirm with heart and soul the guidance which comes from Him; who walk in humility and abase themselves in His presence; who live like the poor though they be rich; who serve humanity and sacrifice their comfort for others; who abjure excesses of all kinds, hate, cruelty, and transgression; who are models of human goodness – these men will go to a place called Heaven. Peace and pleasure will reign in this place. Pain will not exist. The pleasure and approval of God will have been won by every man. God will be present to all, His Universal Grace enveloping every one. So near will God be and so conscious will everyone become of His existence and presence that everyone will be as a mirror reflecting God and His perfect attributes. All the low desires of men will disappear. The desires of men will be the desires of God. They w ill have attained everlasting life, every one an image of his Creator. These are our beliefs. Whether there are any other beliefs which one must accept before one can be said to subscribe to Islam, we do not know. The doctors of Islam point to no other belief. We affirm all the beliefs of Islam and hold these beliefs as our beliefs.
Differences from other Muslims
Now, dear reader, you may be wondering why we are thought to be so different, when we accept and subscribe wholeheartedly to all the wellknown beliefs of Islam. Why is it that the scholars of religion, the Ulema, are so violently opposed to us? Why these Fatwas of Kufr (proclamations of unbelief) against us? In reply, I can only cite the objections which the Ulema have raised against us, because of which we are said to have strayed out of the fold of Islam. May God guard you against evil designs and may He open to you the gates of His Grace!
Jesus died a natural death
The first and the most crucial objection raised against us by our enemies is that we believe that Jesus of Nazareth died a natural death. To believe that Jesus died a natural death is said to be an insult to Jesus, an offense to the Holy Quran and dissent from the teaching of the Holy Prophet. Now, it is true that we believe Jesus to have died a natural death. But it is not true that to believe him to have died is to insult him or to offend the Holy Quran or to dissent from the teaching of the Holy Prophet. For the more one ponders over the subject, the more one becomes convinced that the offenses we are charged with do not follow from our belief in the death of Jesus. They follow rather from the belief that Jesus did not die but is alive in Heaven. We are Muslims, and as Muslims our first concern is to uphold the Greatness of God and the honor of His Prophet. True, we believe in all the Prophets of God. But our love and our regard for the Holy Prophet are the highest, for he sacrificed himself for our sake; he carried our burdens; he invited his own physical death to save us from spiritual death; he grieved so much for us. He gave up even the slightest comforts for our sake. He abased himself so that we should stand high. He planned for our lasting good and prayed for our eternal welfare. He would let his feet swell through standing long in prayer. Sinless, he prayed to cure us of our sins, to save us from Hellfire; he would pray till his prayer mat became wet with tears. He wept till his breast heaved like a boiling pot. He drew unto us the Mercy of God; he toiled for His pleasure, again for us. He caused us to be wrapped in the mantle of His Grace, the cloak of His Compassion. He strove to find for us ways by which we may also please God; means by which we may also achieve union with Him. What he did for us to make light our journey to God had not been done before by any prophet for his people. Fatwas of Kufr only please us. We would rather have the Fatwas than hold Jesus an equal of God, our Creator, Nourisher, Sustainer, and Guardian, One Who gives us our daily bread and the knowledge and guidance on which we depend for our spiritual welfare. Fatwas of Kufr are more welcome to us than that we should have to believe that Jesus is alive in Heaven without food or drink, even as God lives for ever without food or drink. We hold Jesus in honour. But why? Because he is a prophet of God, because God loved him and he loved God. Our regard for him is due to our regard for God. Can we hold him above God and dishonor God for his sake? Must we please the Ulema, but strengthen the hands of Christian missionaries, whose daily occupation is to find fault with Islam and the Quran? Must we let them think Jesus was God? For if he was not God, how can he be alive in Heaven? If he was man, why did he not die like other men? How can we, with our own mouths, say a thing derogatory to the Unity and Oneness of God? How can we harm the interests of true faith? The Ulema are free to do what they like; they may incite people against us, put us to death or stone us. We cannot give up God for Jesus. We would rather die than say that Jesus is alive in heaven as God’s equal – Jesus who Christians think is the son of God and for whose sake they detract from the Oneness and Independence of God. If we had remained ignorant, it might have been different. But having had our eyes opened by a Divine Messenger, who has shown us the implications of God’s Oneness, Majesty, Power, Greatness, Goodness, we cannot do so. Whatever the consequences, we cannot abandon God for the sake of a human being. If we did so, we cannot say where we should be. Honor belongs to God and comes from Him. When we perceive clearly that to believe Jesus to be alive is to insult God, we cannot regard this belief as true. We do not understand why belief in the death of Jesus entails an insult to Jesus. Prophets greater than Jesus have died and their death brought no humiliation to them. So the death of Jesus cannot be humiliating to him. But if, to suppose the impossible, we are confronted with the alternatives – God or Jesus – and if we must make a choice, certainly we will choose God. We feel certain that Jesus himself, who loved God with his mind, heart and soul, would never have been reconciled to a position which entails honor to Jesus but dishonour to God and His Oneness. The Holy Quran teaches us the same:
‘Surely, the Messiah will never disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor will the angels near [ unto God]’.9
Death of Jesus taught by the Holy Quran and Hadith
We are bound by the Word of God. We have in the Quran;:
‘And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them and Thou art Witness over all things.’ God in the name of Jesus declares that Christians became corrupt after the death of Jesus. While he lived, they and their beliefs remained uncorrupt. Reading this in the Quran, how can we think Jesus is not dead but alive in Heaven? 10
And we also read in the Holy Quran:
‘O Jesus! indeed I will cause thee to die and exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee of[the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who deny thee, until the Day of Resurrection.” 11
Jesus was exalted (or raised) ~o God after his death. The words ‘exalt thee’ or ‘raise thee’ come after the words ’cause thee to die’. We must observe the ordinary rules of language. What is mentioned first, must take place first. But maybe the Ulema know these rules better than God. Maybe they think that although ‘raising to God’ occurs later in the verse, it should have been earlier. But God is Wise beyond conception. He knows best how ideas should be expressed. In His speech, there can be no error, no deviation from the correct word order. He is our Creator and we are His creatures. We dare not find errors in His speech. We are ignorant and He is All-Knowing. How can we point to faults in His speech? But the Ulema seem to think there could be errors in the speech of God but not in their understanding of it. We cannot say this; for we see only perdition in such a thought. While we have eyes, we cannot fall into a pit. While we know, we must turn away the cup of poison held to our lips. After God, we love only the Holy Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace and the blessings of God). He is the greatest of all prophets, the greatest of all benefactors. No other human being, prophet or not, has done even a fraction of what the Holy Prophet has done for us. We can hold no one in greater honour. It is impossible for us to think that Jesus, the Messiah, is alive in Heaven while Muhammad, our Holy Prophet, lies buried in the earth. We cannot think so. We believe that in spiritual rank the Holy Prophet stands much higher than Jesus. How can it be that God raised Jesus to Heaven on the slightest sign of danger to his life, but did not raise the Holy Prophet even as high as the stars when the Holy Prophet was pursued by his enemies from place to place? If it is true that Jesus is alive in Heaven, we cannot feel more dead. We cannot tolerate the thought that our master is dead and buried, while Jesus is alive and in Heaven. We feel humiliated before Christians. But thank God, this is not so. God cannot have treated and has not, in fact, treated our Prophet in this way. God is the Lord of all lords. He himself called the Holy Prophet the Chief of mankind. Having called the Holy Prophet the Chief of mankind, he could not have taken more care of Jesus. For the sake of the Holy Prophet, God shook the world. Whoever thought of humiliating him, himself met with humiliation. Could God Himself have disgraced the Prophet and given his enemies the chance to gloat over the disgrace? The thought that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is buried in the earth and Jesus of Nazareth is alive in Heaven makes my hair stand on end. I find it both astonishing and depressing, therefore I find myself declaring, ‘No, God cannot do such a thing.’ He loves the Holy Prophet Muhammad more than He loves anyone else. He could not have let him die and be buried and have let Jesus ascend to Heaven. If any man deserved to remain alive and to ascend to Heaven it was our Holy Prophet. If he died in the usual way, other prophets have died in the same way. Knowing the high rank which the Holy Prophet Muhammad holds in the Sight of God, we cannot think for a moment that he could have received at the hands of God treatment inferior to that which Jesus had had at His hands. We cannot think that at the time of Hijra when the Holy Prophet sought refuge in the cave Thor, to reach which he had to mount the shoulders of Abu Bakr, God sent no angels for his rescue; but when the Jews set out to grapple with Jesus, God raised him to the Fourth Heaven to save him from the murderous designs of the Jews. In the battle of Ohud, the Holy Prophet had only a few friends left around him when the enemy attacked him. God did not send any angel, nor did he create a phantom, so that the enemy could attack this phantom instead of the Prophet, and break the phantom’s teeth instead of the Prophet’s. God let the enemy attack the Prophet himself and when the Prophet fell down as if dead, the enemy raised cries of joy and declared they had (God forbid) killed Muhammad, the Prophet. But in the case of Jesus, God did not let the slightest pain or discomfort trouble him. As soon as the Jews resolved to lay hold of him, God raised Jesus to Heaven, and in his place caught hold of one of his enemies and, making him the same in appearance as Jesus, had this enemy of Jesus put on the cross instead of Jesus! We are amazed at what can happen to some people. On the one hand they claim such great love for the Holy Prophet; on the other, they themselves tend to dishonour and disgrace him. And they do not stop at this. They go further and award Fatwas of Kufr against those who refuse to subscribe to beliefs which amount to ranking another one superior to the Holy Prophet. We wonder what they mean by Kufr. To esteem the Holy Prophet higher in rank than others, to attribute to him the spiritual eminence which belongs to him – is it Kufr? Those who hold the Holy Prophet the highest in love and esteem, are they Kafirs (unbelievers)? If this is Kufr, then, God be our witness, we value this Kufr many times more than the Iman (belief) of those who attribute Kufr (unbelief) to us. Very appropriately did Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, express this thought when he said:
‘Intoxicated am I after God with the love of Muhammad. If this be Kufr, then, by God, I am the most hardened Kafir.’
Some day we must all die, present ourselves before God, and answer for ourselves. Why should we fear any humans? What harm can come to us from them? We fear only God and we love only Him. After Him, we love and honour the Holy Prophet the most. If for the sake of the Holy Prophet we have to sacrifice the honour, interests and the good things of this world, we will find it easy enough. But dishonour and disrespect to the Holy Prophet we cannot bear. Knowing how very holy he was, what spiritual knowledge and insight he had and how close was his contact with God, we cannot think for a moment that God loved some other man or prophet more than He loved our Holy Prophet. If we entertained such a thought we would be more deserving of punishment than others. We know too well that those who denied the Holy Prophet challenged him and asked him if he could perform the miracle of ascent to Heaven. They said:
We will not believe except if- you ascend to Heaven. And we will not believe in your ascent unless you bring to us from Heaven a Book which we may then read.”12
In reply to this challenge, God did not empower the Holy Prophet to show the miracle which those who denied the Prophet asked him to show. Instead, God made the Prophet say:
‘Only my God is free from all weaknesses. As for me, I am a mere man.’
And yet, as the Maulvis teach, when the enemies of Jesus confronted him with a similar challenge, God raised him to Heaven. When the Holy Prophet is challenged and asked to ascend to Heaven, ascent to Heaven is declared by God to be inconsistent with humanity. But when Jesus is similarly challenged, he is raised to Heaven without the least hesitation. If this be true, will it not follow that Jesus was not man but God? We seek refuge with God from this wild thought. Will it not imply that Jesus was spiritually superior to our Holy Prophet and more dearly loved by God? But we know, and it is as evident as the sun, that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the best, the highest, in the hierarchy of prophets. Knowing this, how can we think that the Holy Prophet should not rise to Heaven but instead die in the normal way and be buried here on this earth, while Jesus should go to Heaven and remain alive for these two thousand years? Now, it is not merely that our feeling for the Holy Prophet is strong. It is a question also of his truth, the truth of his claims. Did not the Holy Prophet say:
‘If Moses and Jesus had been alive, they would have had to believe in me and follow me.’l3
If Jesus is alive, the claim of the Holy Prophet that in that case Jesus would have had to follow him has to be set down as false. The Holy Prophet’s words are significant and clear. If, says he, Moses and Jesus were alive. This ‘if’ means that the two are not alive. Moses is not alive, nor is Jesus. This is an important declaration by the Holy Prophet bearing on the subject. After hearing this declaration, no true follower of the Prophet can think that Jesus is alive in Heaven, because, if Jesus is alive, this declaration of the Holy Prophet turns out to be false, as also his knowledge of the subject. For is not Jesus dead according to him? There is another important statement by the Holy Prophet. During his last illness, the Holy Prophet said to his daughter Fatima:
‘Once in every year, Gabriel recited the Quran to me. This year he recited twice. He also told me that every succeeding prophet has lived to half the age of his predecessor. He told me that Jesus. son of Mary, lived to a hundred and twenty years. Therefore, I think, I may live to about sixty years.’14
The statement is an inspired one. The Holy Prophet does not say anything on his Own, but reports what he received from Gabriel the angel of revelation. The important part of the statement is that Jesus lived to a hundred and twenty years. According to the New Testament records, Jesus was about thirty-two or thirty-three years old when the event of the Cross took place and Jesus ‘ascended’ to Heaven. If Jesus really did ‘ascend’, his age up to the time of the Holy Prophet comes to about six hundred years, not a hundred and twenty. If what the Holy Prophet received from Gabriel is true, the Holy Prophet should have lived for at least three hundred years. But he lived only for sixty-three years. Yet, according to Gabriel Jesus lived for a hundred and twenty years. This important statement by the Holy Prophet proves that to think Jesus alive is against the teaching of the Holy Prophet, against what was revealed to him by God. In view of all this, how can we be persuaded to believe that Jesus is alive? How can we deny anything which the Holy Prophet has taught so clearly?
Companions of the Holy Prophet agreed on the death of Jesus
It is said sarcastically that for thirteen hundred years nobody but ourselves could spot the truth about the death of Jesus. All the doctors and teachers of Islam remained ignorant of it. The suggestion is that the consensus of early Muslims does not favour the view which we teach on the subject. But those who indulge in this sarcasm forget that the first exponents of Islam were the Companions of the Holy Prophet. The Companions first expounded the beliefs and practices of Islam to others. Then these others became the teachers of Islam, spreading to other parts of the world. Now as far as the Companions are concerned, they were united in teaching what we think today about Jesus. And could they have taught anything else? Could they have taught a belief derogatory to the Holy Prophet? Not only are the Companions one with us, but the first formal affirmation which the Companions of the Holy Prophet collectively resolved on was the truth of the death of Jesus. The first Ijma of the Companions set its seal on his death. For in the recorded Traditions we find that when the Holy Prophet died, the Companions were prostrated with grief They could not move, nor utter a word. Some were so deeply affected that they died a few days later, unable to bear the pangs of separation. Omar, indeed, was so afflicted by grief that he made up his mind not to believe that the Prophet had died. He unsheathed his sword and declared that whoever said the Prophet was dead would lose his head. He began to say that the Holy Prophet had disappeared from their midst temporarily, even as Moses had disappeared on a Call from God. Moses returned to his people after forty days, and so would the Holy Prophet. On his return, the Holy Prophet would call to account all those who had said unworthy things about him and had behaved hypocritically towards him. He would even put them to death or order their crucifixion. Omar was solemn and determined. None of the Companions dared to resist and deny what he said. Some were even persuaded by Omar’s declaration. They began to think the Prophet had not died. Because of this, their dejection changed to delight. The signs of it were on their faces. Those who had their heads bowed with grief raised their heads. Others, who were not so overcome by grief and who could also see far into the future, sent out one of their number to fetch Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was not in Medina when the Holy Prophet died. The Holy Prophet had permitted him to go, because his condition seemed to have improved. This Companion had hardly left the town when he saw Abu Bakr coming. On seeing Abu Bakr, the Companion could not contain himself Tears rolled down his cheeks. No words were necessary. Abu Bakr understood what had happened. He asked the Companion, ‘Has the Prophet died?’ In reply, the Companion not only confirmed the sad news but also told Abu Bakr what Omar had been saying, that ‘whoever should say the Prophet had died would lose his head!’ Abu Bakr heard this and at once made for the place where the Holy Prophet’s dead body lay. He lifted the mantle which covered him and knew at once that he had died. The pain of separation from his beloved friend and leader made his eyes wet. He bent low and kissed the Prophet’s forehead and said:
‘By God, you will not suffer more than one death. The loss mankind have suffered by your death is greater than the loss they suffered by the death of any other prophet. You need no praises, and mourning cannot reduce the pangs of separation. If we could but avert your end, we would have done so, with our lives.’
Abu Bakr said this, and covered the Prophet’s face; then he went to the spot where Omar was speaking to the Companions. Omar, of course, was telling them that the Prophet had not died, but had only disappeared temporarily. Abu Bakr asked Omar to stop for a time and let him speak to the assembly. Omar did not stop but went on. Abu Bakr turned to some of the Companions and started telling them that the Holy Prophet had really died. Other Companions turned to Abu Bakr and began to listen to him. Omar also was compelled to listen. Abu Bakr recited from the Holy Quran:
‘The Holy Prophet is but a prophet. There have been prophets before him and they had all died. If he also should die or be put to death, would they turn back upon him?’15
‘Thou (O Muhammad) art surely going to die and they surely are going to die.’l6
Having recited these verses, he went on to say:
‘O ye men, whoever amongst you worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead, and whoever amongst you worshipped Allah, let him know that Allah is Living, there is no death for Him ‘17
When Abu Bakr recited the verses of the Holy Quran and pointed to their meaning, the Companions realized what had happened. The Prophet had died. They began to cry. Omar is reported to have said that when Abu Bakr recited the verses out of the Holy Quran, and their meaning suddenly dawned upon him, it seemed as though the verses had been revealed on that day, at that moment. His legs could no longer support him. He staggered and fell down in a paroxysm of grief. This account of what passed between the Companions at the Holy Prophet’s death proves three important things: Firstly, it proves that the first formal and collective expression of opinion upon which the Companions resolved after the death of the Holy Prophet was that all prophets before the Holy Prophet had died. There was no exception. If the Companions present on this solemn occasion thought that some earlier prophets had not died, they would have stood up and pointed to the exceptions. They could have said that at least Jesus had been alive in Heaven for six hundred years. It was wrong to say that all the earlier prophets had died. If some could remain alive, why not the Holy Prophet? Secondly, it proves that the Companions’ belief that the earlier prophets had died was not a mere matter of opinion: it was a truth recorded in the Holy Quran and taught clearly by the Holy Book. When Abu Bakr recited the verses, the Companions received them without demur. If the truth of the death of the earlier prophets was not contained in these verses, they could have said that, although the earlier prophets had really died, the verses recited by Abu Bakr were not relevant. The fact, therefore, that Abu Bakr recited the verse ‘and there had been [other] prophets before him’ to prove the death of earlier prophets, and the fact that the Companions, who heard this verse and heard Abu Bakr’s argument based upon the verse, not only remained silent but began to rejoice over it and went about the town reciting it, proved beyond doubt that the Companions agreed entirely with Abu Bakr’s interpretation of the verse. Thirdly, it proves that whether or not the Companions believed in the death of other prophets, they certainly did not think that Jesus was alive in Heaven. All accounts of this important incident and the important speeches made on this occasion show that even Omar, in the height of his excitement, threatening to kill those who should say the Prophet had died, could cite the analogy only of Moses who disappeared for forty days from amongst his people. Even Omar did not cite the analogy of Jesus. If the Companions had believed That Jesus was alive in Heaven, could not Omar, or the Companions who thought like him, have cited the analogy of Jesus? The fact that they cited only the analogy of Moses proves that they did not believe That Jesus had not died, or that he had even had an experience similar to that of Moses.
Family of the Holy Prophet agreed on the death of Jesus
Besides this unanimity of opinion among the Companions, opinion held in the family of the Holy Prophet also supports the belief that Jesus died in the normal way. Imam Hasan, recounting the events relating to the death of Hazrat Ali, is reported to have said:
‘The man who has died today is without an equal in many respects. He had none like him either amongst his predecessors or among his successors. When the Holy Prophet sent him to battle, he had Gabriel on his right and Michael on his left to assist him. He never returned from a battle except as victor. He left seven hundred Derhams as a bequest. He had saved this to purchase a slave’s freedom. He died during the twenty-seventh night of the month of Ramadhan, the same night that the spirit of Jesus was raised to Heaven.’18
from this remark of Imam Hasan it appears that even according to the family of the Holy Prophet Jesus died in the ordinary way. Unless they believed this, Imam Hasan could not have said that Hazrat Ali died the same night that Jesus’s spirit ascended to Heaven. Besides the Companions of the Holy Prophet and his family, later doctors of religion have also testified to the death of Jesus. They were devotees of the Holy Quran, of the utterances of the Holy Prophet, of opinions held by the Companions and by the family of the Holy Prophet. It seems that whether or not Jesus had died did not strike them as a very important question. Therefore they did not pronounce on the question as such. Nor have their views on the subject been preserved. But as far as the recorded opinions of the later doctors of Islam go, these leave no doubt that even they believed Jesus had died. It is recorded in Majma-al-Bahar that, according to Imam Malik, Jesus died in the natural way. In short, the Holy Quran, the Traditions, the consensus of opinion among the Companions and the family of the Holy Prophet, and the opinions of the doctors of Islam all support belief in the death of Jesus. All of them teach that Jesus died like all mortals. It is wrong, therefore, to say that by attributing death to Jesus we dishonour Jesus, and that therefore by implication we deny the Holy Quran and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet. We do not dishonour Jesus. Instead of dishonouring Jesus, we have a genuine conception of the Oneness of God and point to the high spiritual rank to which our Holy Prophet belongs. We honour Jesus, because Jesus himself would not have subscribed to a belief which is derogatory to the conception of the Oneness of God; which helps shirk (associating others with God), and detracts from the spiritual status of the Holy Prophet.
Now, dear reader, you can see for yourself who is in the right: we or our opponents. Is it for them to be offended by us, or for us to be offended by them? They set up a man as the equal of God. They propose a belief which entails indignity to the Holy Prophet; it is they who lend support to the enemies of Islam, they who weaken Islam.
Second coming of the Messiah means coming of follower of the Holy Prophet
The second objection levelled against us is that, contrary to the accepted Muslim belief, we hold that a follower of the Holy Prophet has appeared amongst us as the Promised Messiah. To hold this belief, we are told, is contrary to the Traditions of the Holy Prophet, as, according to these Traditions, the Messiah is Jesus, son of Mary, due to return from Heaven when the time comes. Now, it is quite true that we regard the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (Gurdaspur, Punjab, India), as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. And why not? The Holy Quran, the Traditions, and ordinary common sense declare that the first Messiah died in the normal way; so our belief that the Promised Messiah was to come from among the followers of the Holy Prophet cannot be against the Holy Quran and the Traditions. The Holy Quran declares that Jesus is dead. The Traditions say the same thing. If, therefore, the Traditions promise the advent of a Messenger described as the son of Mary, this promised one can only be a follower of the Holy Prophet, not the Messiah of Nazareth who died in the normal way. It is said that even if the Quran and the Traditions declare the death of Jesus, son of Mary, we should continue to expect the second coming of the self-same son of Mary. For is not God All-Powerful? Can He not resuscitate the dead Messiah and send him back to the world? If we did not cherish such a hope and such a thought, we should be denying the Power of God. But our position is very different. We do not deny the Power of God. We believe that God is All-Powerful. Because God is All-Powerful, He has no need to resuscitate the Messiah of Nazareth. He can raise a teacher from among the followers of the Holy Prophet, install him as the Promised Messiah and charge him with the duty of reforming the world. We fail to see how anyone who deliberates over this subject n a proper manner can insist that the Power of God requires God to bring the first Messiah back to life. Such a thing is against all ordinary canons. It is everyday experience that a person who can afford to have a new one hates to have an old coat turned for longer use If he needs a new coat, he throws away the old one and gets a new one. It is the man who cannot afford one who wants the old coat turned or altered to be used again. It is the poor man who takes excessive care of his things. God is not poor. He is Powerful. If He finds– that His servants need someone to guide them, He does not have to put life into a dead prophet. He is able to raise one from amongst His living servants to reform and lead the rest From Adam down to the Holy Prophet, not once did God have to restore a dead prophet to life for the purpose of guiding His men. Such a course is quite unnecessary;. It might have been necessary if the purification and reformation of a given people at a given time had been beyond the Power of God; if the dominion of God did not extend to all men at all times. God is All-Powerful and His dominion extends to all men at all times. It is senseless to think that for the guidance of a given people at a given time He should have to restore one of the dead prophets to life. God’s Power is boundless. He was able to raise a prophet like the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) from among the Arabs. It is not beyond His Power to raise one in our time similar to Jesus or greater than him from among Muslims. The fact is, therefore, that we deny the physical second coming of the first Messiah because God, according to us, is All-Powerful and can raise anyone to the status of a guide and prophet, at any time, and from among any people. They are in error who think that God cannot do this, that instead of raising one from amongst us He has to bring back to life a dead prophet. They have not esteemed the Power of Allah as Allah deserves. The second coming of the first Messiah, therefore, is derogatory to the Power and Wisdom of God. It is also disparaging to the spiritual power of the Holy Prophet. To say that the second coming of the first Messiah is inevitable is to say something very strange. At all times in the past, whenever a people went astray and needed divine guidance, it was one from amongst themselves whom God raised for the purpose. Was this time-honoured divine practice to be dropped when followers of the Holy Prophet went astray and needed divine guidance? Was the Umma to be reformed by one of the earlier prophets, the Prophet’s own followers failing to provide a reformer from among themselves? This means that Muslims would have to follow Jews and Christians who ever cavil at the spiritual competence of our Holy Prophet. It is strange that Muslims should distrust the regenerative power of the Holy Prophet. If we think that a follower of the Holy Prophet cannot guide his other followers – the Umma – in time of need, we support those who underrate the spiritual influence of the Holy Prophet. One lighted torch can light many other torches. It is a dead torch which will not do this. If followers of the Holy Prophet were to become so very corrupt that no one from amongst them would then be able to reform the rest, it must be admitted that at that time the spiritual grace and productiveness of the Holy Prophet’s teaching and example would have come to an end. This consequence cannot be accepted by any true Muslim. Every true Muslim knows that the followers of Moses needed to be rejuvenated from time to time, and the rejuvenation was brought about by teachers raised from amongst themselves. It was a follower of Moses who reformed the followers of Moses. The dispensation of Moses lasted for as long as God wanted. At last when the time came for the dispensation to end, God turned away from Moses’ followers and turned to the progeny of Ishmael to raise a prophet for the guidance of mankind. If now a prophet belonging to the dispensation of Moses should come to guide the followers of the Holy Prophet, it would mean that God has decided (God forbid) to terminate the dispensation of the Holy Prophet as He terminated the dispensation of Moses, and that in place of this He is going to initiate a new dispensation. It would mean that (God forbid again) the spiritual power of the Holy Prophet is no longer effective, that it fails to inspire even a single follower to receive from the Holy Prophet s teaching and example the illumination necessary for the reformation and guidance of his followers. Alas! People show intolerance of the slightest offence to conceptions of their own greatness; they cannot accept the imputation of any defect or shortcoming to themselves. Yet they do not hesitate to attribute defects and weaknesses to the Holy Prophet while claiming to love the Holy Prophet. What use is the love which is loud in professions but finds no echo in the heart? What use are professions unsupported by proper performance? If Muslims really did love the Holy Prophet, they would not tolerate the second coming of an Israelite prophet for the rejuvenation of the followers of the Holy Prophet. Who would turn to a neighbour for needs which he can fulfil in his own house? Who would turn to another for help when he can help himself ? Mullas, who think and teach that the Holy Prophet’s followers would need the second coming of the Messiah of Nazareth at the time of sorest need, have such an excessive idea of their own dignity that in religious debates they would rather lose the argument than accept help from any other If there is an offer of help they do not feel grateful: they are hurt and say, ‘Are we so lacking in learning that others dare offer us help? But when it comes to the Holy Prophet, how casual they are!
They are quick to believe and teach that when the Prophet’s followers need to reform, the reformation will come not from amongst the followers, not from the Prophet’s own spiritual influence, but from the good offices of a prophet from an earlier dispensation, owing nothing to the Holy Prophet or his teachings. Have men become so utterly dead and dull? Have they lost all capacity to think or feel? Do they value dignity and self-respect for themselves, but not for God and the Prophet? May anger and annoyance be shown to personal enemies but not to those who offend God and His Prophet? We are asked why we deny the second coming of an Israelite prophet. But what can we do? We cannot change our hearts. We cannot show our love for the Holy Prophet except in ways which are normal and natural. The honour of the Holy Prophet is dearest to us. We cannot accept that, for the reformation of his followers, the Holy Prophet should need the help of another and become indebted to him. We cannot believe for a minute that when on the Day of Judgment mankind, from the first-born to the last, will assemble before God, and the deeds and achievements of all will be cited, the Holy Prophet would stand burdened by the debt he owed to the Israelite Messiah, the angels making the citation would declare in the hearing and presence of all humankind that when the Holy Prophet’s followers became corrupt the Prophet’s own spiritual example failed to restore them to spiritual strength and the Israelite Messiah, out of compassion for the Holy Prophet, decided to return to the world to reform the Prophet’s followers and rid them of spiritual stagnation! We cannot contemplate such a thought. We would rather have our tongues torn out than attribute such a humiliating proposition to the Holy Prophet. We would rather lose our hands than commit to writing such a thing about the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet is God’s beloved. His spiritual power can never lapse. He is the Seal of the Prophets. His spiritual grace and munificence can never end. He has no need to be indebted to anyone else. It is other prophets who are indebted to him. There is not a prophet whose truth the Holy Prophet has not proclaimed to those who denied him. It is the Holy Prophet whose teaching has converted millions of human beings to a belief in prophets they had not heard of before. There are about eighty million Muslims in India. A few among them have come from outside. The others belonged to this very land and they had not heard of any prophet. But since they came to believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad they began to believe in Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others (on all of whom be peace). If they had not become Muslims, they would have continued to disown these prophets, even to remain hostile to them. They would have continued to regard them as pretenders, as indeed Hindus ill India continue to do to this day. The same is true of Afghanistan, China, and Iran. The inhabitants of these countries did not know, so they did not acknowledge, Moses or Jesus as prophets. The Holy Prophet’s message and teaching spread to these countries, and the people of these countries came to believe in the Holy Prophet and whatever he taught. They began to acknowledge other prophets and revere them as true prophets. The Holy Prophet, therefore, has put all earlier prophets in his debt. Their truth was unknown. The Holy Prophet revealed it. The Holy Prophet is in nobody’s debt. The grace and beneficence of his teachings must continue for ever. For the reform and resuscitation of his own followers he does not need the assistance of another prophet. Whenever such a need arises, God will raise one of his own followers to lead and guide his other followers. Such a one will owe everything to the Holy Prophet. He will have learnt everything from him. Whatever he is able to do by way of reform and reconstruction will be credited to the Holy Prophet. What one owes to any one teacher, one really owes to the teacher’s teacher. A follower cannot be separated from his leader, even as a pupil cannot be separated from his teacher. The follower who leads other followers will owe a debt to the Holy Prophet. In short, the coming of a former prophet for the purpose of reforming the followers of the Holy Prophet is an insult to the Holy Prophet. Such an event would injure the greatness of the Holy Prophet. It would also contradict the teaching of the Holy Quran, which says:
‘God never withdraws the reward from a people except when the people themselves become undeserving of it.’19
In view of this teaching of the Quran, we have to admit either that the Holy Prophet (God forbid) has become undeserving of God’s promise, or that God Himself has gone back on that promise. With all others, God’s practice has been not to withdraw a reward once made; but with the Holy Prophet, His way is different! To entertain such a thought amounts to unbelief. It amounts to the denial of God. It amounts either to a denial of God or a denial of His Prophet. Because of this grave consequence we shun such beliefs. We believe that the Messiah whose coming was foretold by the Holy Prophet is to arise from amongst the Holy Prophet’s followers It is for God to award this status to whomsoever He likes.
The Messiah and the Mahdi, one and the same Person
From the Traditions of the Holy Prophet it is evident also that the Promised Messiah was to be a follower of the Holy Prophet. One Tradition tells us that ‘the Mahdi is none other than the Messiah’:
Another Tradition says:
‘How would it be with you when the son of Mary will descend among you and you will have a leader raised from among you?20
These two Traditions leave no doubt that the Messiah himself would be the Mahdi. He would lead followers of the Holy Prophet and would be one of them, not an outsider. To think that the Messiah and the Mahdi are two different persons is wrong. It is against the clear indication in the Tradition ‘The Mahdi is none other than the Messiah.’ It behoves good believers to ponder carefully over the utterances of the Holy Prophet. If the utterances seem contradictory, it is for us to try and resolve the contradictions. If the Holy Prophet said, on the one hand, that the Mahdi would appear before the Messiah and the Messiah would then join the Mahdi and his followers in worship, and, on the other, that the preliminaries Messiah himself was the Mahdi, what are we to do – accept one utterance and reject the other? Is it not rather our duty to consider the two utterances carefully and try to reconcile one with the other? The two utterances can be reconciled at once if we use one of them to interpret the other. It seems that the promise of the advent of the Messiah was couched in words which suggested that the Messiah and the Mahdi were two different persons. This suggestion is corrected by the Tradition which says, ‘No Mahdi but the Messiah. This Tradition makes it plain that the other Tradition is metaphorical. It means that a follower of the Holy Prophet will arise for the purpose of revivifying the world, but will not have the rank of a prophet. Then the promise relating to the second coming of Jesus will be fulfilled in his person and he will announce himself as the Promised Messiah. The Tradition, therefore, tells us that the Promised One will start his career as a Muslim reformer who will become invested with the office of Messiah. Divine prophecies have to employ metaphors. They would convey very little otherwise. If our interpretation of these Traditions is not correct, then there are only two alternatives left for a seeker after truth, both of them absurd and dangerous. Either we admit that the Tradition which describes the Messiah and the Mahdi as one and the same person is not a true Tradition, or we admit that the Messiah and the Mahdi are two different persons and that the intention of the Tradition is to point to a difference of spiritual significance in the two. It may mean that the true Mahdi would be the Messiah. The other Mahdi would be insignificant compared with the Messiah. It would be like saying, ‘Nobody knows but so and so.’ When we say such a thing, we do not mean literally that nobody else knows. What we mean is that the given person knows very much more. However, both interpretations are dangerous. One requires us, without good reasons, to treat as spurious a Tradition which is a well authenticated one, true according to all sound criteria The other implies that the Mahdi, in comparison with the Messiah, will be as nothing. Such a thought would be contrary to the Traditions which teach that the Mahdi will be the Imam, and the Messiah a follower who stands behind the Imam in a congregation. Both alternatives therefore, are absurd. The only worthwhile interpretation we can put upon the Traditions is that they foretell the coming of a Messenger from among the followers of the Holy Prophet. This Messenger will first present himself as a reformer and later announce himself as the Messiah of the prophecy. The same person will be the Mahdi as well as the Messiah. Except for this interpretation, there can be no plausible interpretation of the Traditions on the subject.
Meaning of nuzul
The fact of the matter is that nearly everybody has been misled by the word nuzul in the Tradition. Literally it means ‘descent’. Therefore, most people have been misled into thinking that as the Messiah was to have a descent, it can only be the first Messiah. Now, it is quite wrong to think that the word nuzul always means ‘descent from an eminence’. The word ‘descent’ only points to how important, significant and far-reaching the thing is which is to descend. It tells us that the thing to descend is to be the instrument of the Majesty and Power of God. Such things are said to descend from God to a people. This meaning of’descent’ (sending down) is in conformity with usage sanctioned by the Holy Quran in several passages. Thus:
‘Then Allah sent down His peace upon His messenger.’21
‘Then after the sorrow, He sent down peace on you, a slumber that overcame a party of you 22
‘And He has sent down eight head of cattle in pairs.’23
‘We have indeed sent down raiment to you to cover your shame, and to be an elegant dress; but the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. That is one of the Signs of Allah that they may remember. 24
‘And sent down on you Manna and Salva.’25
‘And We sent down iron, wherein is material for violent warfare and many benefits for mankind and that Allah may distinguish those who help Him and His Messengers without having seen Him. Surely, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.’26
‘And if Allah should enlarge the provision for His servants, they would rebel in the earth; but He sends down according to a proper measure as He pleases. Indeed, He is All-Aware and All-Seeing with regard to His servants.’27
Everybody knows that peace is a quality of the human mind and sleep a function of the human brain. Animals, garments, green fields, quails (salwa), iron, and other things grow on the soil or come from under it. They do not descend or drop down from Heaven. Nor is their descent from Heaven a description sanctioned by the Holy Quran. The description of the Holy Quran is quite clear. It says:
‘And He put therein firm mountains on the surface, and He put blessings therein and measured its foods therein into four periods, alike for all seekers.’28
In this verse, God points out that the whole subject of the creation of nature and the creation of different kinds of wealth needs for its comprehension a knowledge of the different sciences. This knowledge God reveals in pieces. Some of it has been revealed already, some will be revealed in days to come. Ever new questions will be raised and they will receive their answers. But, says God, We have described the creation of nature and the creation of the wealth of nature in such a way that all men at all times (according to their capacity) will find in them a description which will be both satisfying and true. From the Holy Quran, therefore, it appears that all things in nature descend from God – are gifts of God – and yet they do not drop from Heaven. Their creation takes place in and on and through this very earth. They grow on it or show themselves from under its surface. Therefore, the word nuzul (descent), when used for the coming of the Messiah, can have no other meaning. It can only point to the importance, the blessedness and the spiritual significance of the Promised Messiah. It is not in the least intended to suggest that he would physically drop from Heaven to earth. Most people forget that the word ‘descent’ has been used in the Holy Quran for the Holy Prophet also. All commentators of the Holy Book take this expression to point to the greatness of the Holy Prophet and to the importance of his advent. And they are right; for, as all the world knows, the Holy Prophet was born in the house of honourable Quraish parents. The name of his father was Abdullah and the name of his mother Amina. The verse which describes the advent of the Holy Prophet as descent is this:
‘Allah has indeed down to you a Reminder, a Messenger, who recites unto you the clear Signs of Allah, that he may bring those who believe and do good deeds out of every kind of darkness into light’29
Now it is amazing that the same word nuzul is used about the Holy Prophet and the Messiah. Yet that same word is interpreted one way for the Holy Prophet and quite another way for the Messiah. The Holy Prophet was born like any other human being on this earth and grew up to be a prophet. The event was described as nuzul (literally, descent). Why not mean the same thing when the same word is used for the Messiah? Why not let even the Messiah descend in the ordinary way, that is, be born on this earth and grow up to be a prophet?
Why the Promised Messiah is called Isa Ibn Maryam Jesus, son of Mary
A third difficulty is raised about the prophecy with regard to the second coming of the Messiah. In the Traditions the Promised One is called Isa Ibn Maryam Jesus, son of Mary). The prophecy, therefore, relates literally to the first Messiah, the Jesus of history. If it is to be fulfilled, it must be through the advent of Jesus in the flesh. The fact that metaphors abound in all languages is forgotten. The name Jesus is freely applied to persons other than Jesus. No difficulty is raised then. But if in the speech of God a person is given the name of Jesus, they begin to wonder about its meaning. Do they forget that a person who excels in the virtue of charity is metaphorically called Hatam of Tai, a person with a philosophical bent of mind is called Tusi, a person who displays a capacity for dialectical reasoning is called Razi? Why then make any difficulty about the name Ibn Maryam? If the name Ibn Maryam is the name of a known individual, are not Hatam, Tusi, and Razi names of known individuals? If by giving these names to other persons nobody is misled into thinking that these persons are the original Hatam, Tusi, or Razi, need anybody think that, when the Promised One is named Isa Ibn Maryam, Or Jesus, son of Mary, it must mean the self-same Jesus, son of Mary, who appeared in the world nineteen hundred years ago? And yet there is a difference between the names Hatam, Tusi, and Razi and the name ‘Son of Mary’. The former have each come to have one definite meaning, but the name Maryam has been used to describe a spiritual condition by the Holy Quran itself:
‘And Allah sets forth for those who believe the example of the wife of Pharaoh when she said, “My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work and deliver me from the wrong-doing people.” ‘And the example of Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; so We breathed into her of Our Spirit and she fulfilled in her person the Words of her Lord and His Books, for she was one of the obedient.’30
In this passage believers are likened to the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh who persecuted Moses. She sought her end in Heaven, in the nearness of God, and she asked for release from Pharaoh and his machinations and from participating in his cruel deeds. Believers are also likened to Mary, the daughter of Imran. She guarded her chastity and she received the revelation of God and affirmed the truth of God’s teaching and His Books. She proved to be one of the most loyal servants of God. Here, believers are described as being of two types: the type which is like the wife of Pharaoh, and the type which is like Mary. It is obvious that at least one type of believer is Mary-like. If, therefore, the Promised One is called son of Mary, it might mean that this Promised One will have his origin in a Mary-like condition, and that growing out of this, he will attain a Jesus-like condition. It might mean that the earlier life of the Promised One will be holy and spotless even as Mary was holy and spotless, his later life being akin to that of Jesus. Jesus received sustenance and support from the Holy Spirit; so will the Promised One. Jesus devoted his life to the service of truth and goodness; so will the Promised One. It is a pity that the Ulema of our time do not ponder over the words of the Holy Quran. They have forbidden themselves to go deeply into its meaning. Small wonder that they miss the beauty and the significance which lie beneath the surface of the Holy Text. But if our Ulema had read the writings of the early doctors of Islam (writings based on the Holy Quran and on the lives and experiences of early prophets), they would have found the truth. Shaikh Shahab al-Din Suhrawardy, to cite one example of a Muslim saint who has written relevantly on this subject, says in his book Awarifa’l-Maarf that birth is of two kinds: ordinary physical birth and metaphorical birth. In support of this statement, the great saint goes on to quote no other person than Jesus himself The Shaikh writes:
‘The Murid [disciple] is part of the Shaikh [preceptor], even as in physical birth the son is part of the father. The Murid comes to birth in a metaphorical manner in the sense which Jesus described when he said that no man will enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he is born twice over.’
The first birth, according to the saint, links the person with the physical world, the second links him with the spiritual world. This theme is also in the Quran:
‘And thus did We show Abraham the Kingdom of the Heavens and the earth that he might be rightly guided, that he might be of those who have certainty of faith.’31
According to Shaikh Shahab al-Din Suhrawardy, therefore, every human being experiences a spiritual birth. In support of this view he cites a verse of the Holy Quran and a saying of Jesus according to whom the experience of spiritual birth is necessary for the spiritual development of an individual. Why should such a spiritual birth be impossible or difficult in the case of the Promised Messiah? Briefly, then, the thought that the first Messiah should come to life again and appear today for the guidance of mankind impugns the Greatness of God and His teaching, and the high spiritual status of our Holy Prophet. It also contradicts the recorded Saying of the Holy Prophet. The thought is ill-conceived, a result of parochial thinking. The truth is that the second coming of the Messiah was to take place in and through a follower of the Holy Prophet. This follower was to rise in the spirit and character of the first Messiah. According to us the second Messiah has already come. His teaching has provided guidance for many. Many who had strayed away from God have found Him again.
Continuity of revelation and the coming of prophets
The fourth major objection raised against us is that, according to us, the institution of revelation and of the coming of prophets continues after the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace). This objection also results from lack of deliberation, or through sheer hostility and prejudice. The truth is that we do not care so much for words as for their meaning. We prefer to believe whatever helps to glorify God and His Prophet. We cannot even for a moment believe in the coming of one whose coming implies the superseding of the Holy Prophet, who should give the world a new Kalima (creed) and a new Qibla (direction of the face in worship) and give the world a new religious law or alter any part of the law of the Holy Quran; or who should wean people away from obedience to the Holy Prophet and ask them to obey him instead of the Holy Prophet; or who should arise from outside the circle of the Holy Prophet’s servants and devotees, or should have achieved even a part of his spiritual status without owing it to the Holy Prophet. The coming of such a one, in our view, would be the end of Islam. It would mean that the promises made by God to the Holy Prophet are proved untrue. Such a thing is impossible and we hate to think of it. At the same time we think it wrong to believe that with the advent of the Holy Prophet the graces and blessings which human beings have ever received in the past have come to an end. We do not think the Holy Prophet came and closed off the known avenues of spiritual progress. We think instead that the advent of the Holy Prophet provided expanded opportunities and means for spiritual advancement. We do not think the Holy Prophet came to stop human beings from attaining nearness to God. Just as we hate to think that any revealed teacher can now supersede the Holy Prophet, we also hate to think that the coming of the Holy Prophet is the end of revelation and of the blessings which revelation brings. Both beliefs are derogatory to the Holy Prophet and subversive of his teaching. We accept neither the one nor the other. We are certain that the Holy Prophet was a blessing for mankind. We know that the blessings and beneficence of the Holy Prophet continue. His coming has not prevented mankind from earning spiritual benefits. Instead, the spiritual benefits and graces which God has ever granted to human beings have begun to flow more copiously than before. If before they were a stream, they have since become a mighty river. Before the Holy Prophet, knowledge of spiritual matters had not advanced very far. With the coming of the Holy Prophet it attained perfection; and only spiritual knowledge can bring spiritual wisdom. The Holy Quran teaches what had not been taught before by any Heavenly Book. The Holy Prophet, therefore, was gifted with a deeper insight into spiritual matters than had been granted to anyone before. Increase of spiritual insight enables believers today to attain spiritual heights which could not be attained before. But for such blessings, what superiority can the Holy Prophet have over other prophets? The attainment of prophethood independently of the Holy Prophet is not possible now. That is why we deny that the Messiah of Nazareth can return to guide the followers of the Holy Prophet. His coming would be without the spiritual guardianship of the Holy Prophet. But prophethood which comes through the Holy Prophet and which, therefore, is glory to him, we cannot deny. May God illumine the reader’s heart with spiritual light and open wide his mind. A prophet who supersedes an earlier prophet is one who brings a new law and who attains his rank without the tutelage of the earlier prophet. But a prophet who attains his rank through dependence on the earlier prophet, through the grace and influence of his example and teaching, and through obedience to him, does not and cannot supersede the earlier prophet. Far from being derogatory to him, this sort of prophethood glorifies the earlier prophet, his teaching and example. This way to prophethood, it appears from the Holy Quran, is open to attainment by the followers of the Holy Prophet. Ordinary human reason also supports such a view. For if such a prophethood is not attainable by the followers of the Holy Prophet, then the followers of the Holy Prophet can have no superiority over the followers of other prophets. The Holy Prophet has said that among the followers of Moses there were persons who attained the status of Muhaddath, a spiritual rank lower than that of a prophet. Therefore, if the spiritual example and influence of the Holy Prophet can result in raising persons to a status no higher than that of Muhaddath, then the Holy Prophet cannot be superior to other prophets and yet he is ‘the best of mankind’ and ‘the best of prophets’. To be ‘the best of prophets’, it is necessary for the Holy Prophet to possess merits not possessed by earlier prophets. This distinctive merit, according to us, is that the followers of earlier prophets could attain at most the status of Muhaddath. The spiritual power of earlier prophets could achieve no more. But the followers of the Holy Prophet can attain the status of prophets, and this is due to the superior spiritual influence of the Holy Prophet’s example and teaching. Thanks to this, a believer has his heart full of love for the Holy Prophet and of devotion to his person and example. If the advent of the Holy Prophet put an end to the attainment of this sort of prophethood, then his advent has to be accounted not as a blessing but as a bane. The Holy Quran has to be dismissed as a useless book. For if the followers of this Prophet and this Book cannot attain the status of prophets, we have to admit that before his advent it was possible for believers to rise to this spiritual station, but that it has become impossible after his advent. Books revealed before the Holy Quran had the power to raise their readers and followers to the status of prophets (that is, to enable them to reach that degree of divine grace); but the Holy Quran does not have this power! If this were really true, the hearts of true believers would bleed and their spirits would cool. The coming of the Holy Prophet, the promised ‘mercy unto all the worlds’, ‘the chief of all prophets’, was to open new ways to spiritual advancement; by following him they were to come closer to their Lord than ever before. But, instead, even the doors open before are to be closed to them. No true believer can for a moment entertain such a thought about the Holy Prophet. No one who loves the Holy Prophet can believe such a thing. God be our witness, the Holy Prophet was an ocean of spiritual blessings and spiritual possibilities which no mortal may measure. The doors to spiritual blessings and spiritual progress have not been closed by him. They have instead been thrown wide open. This is the difference between him and the earlier prophets. The followers of earlier prophets could reach the rank of Muhaddath. To reach the rank of Nabuwwat (prophethood), they had to have further training and tuition. It is different with the followers of the Holy Prophet. Obedience to him and imitation of his example can raise a man to the rank of prophet; even as prophet, however, the follower remains a follower. However high his rank, he cannot go out of the fold. He remains the Holy Prophet’s slave and servant. He may attain high rank but the height of his rank cannot alter his status as a follower of the Holy Prophet. For, in fact, the higher his rank, the greater is his indebtedness to the Holy Prophet. In respect of nearness to God, the Holy Prophet has reached a point which no mortal has ever reached. He has attained a height which others cannot think of attaining. At the same time, the greatness of his status continues to increase at a pace swifter than thought. But as the Holy Prophet advances, so do his followers. As the Holy Prophet steps forward, his followers behind him do likewise. This conception of the spiritual status of the Holy Prophet means that the gift of prophethood should be open to the followers of the Holy Prophet. If such a gift is open to the followers, it will redound to the glory and greatness of the Holy Prophet. If such a gift is abolished it means detraction and defeat for him. Who does not know that an able teacher who will have his ability proved must have able pupils. A great king must have other kings as his vassals. If an able teacher does not produce able pupils, he cannot be very able. A great king who does not have kings below him cannot be very great. An emperor is a king of kings. To be an emperor is an honour. Similarly, a prophet whose followers can be prophets is a greater prophet than prophets whose followers remain followers but cannot become prophets. How this erroneous conception of prophethood became current among Muslims of the present day is an important question. I speak of Muslims of the present day because earlier doctors of the faith have views quite contrary to the conception accepted by the present day Muslims. Saints and scholars like Mohyal-Din Ibnal- Arabi, Ibn-i-Qayim, Maulana Rumi, and Hazrat Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind can be cited among the great doctors of the Muslim faith who have expressed views contrary to the views held by Muslims of the present day on this subject. The erroneous conception arose because Muslims began to interpret the term Nabuwwat in a wrong manner. Somehow they began to think that a prophet must be a law-giver also. He must either bring a new law, or he must abrogate parts of an older law, or he must be free from the obligation to obey an earlier prophet. The fact of the matter is that these conditions are not necessary in order for a prophet to be a prophet. A prophet may or may not fulfil these conditions. A person may fulfil none of these conditions and yet be a prophet. Though he does not bring a new law, does not abrogate any part of an earlier law, and is not free from the obligation to follow an earlier prophet, he may still be a prophet. For prophethood is a spiritual state, a degree of nearness to God. A person who attains this state, this degree of nearness, is appointed to lead mankind to God. He is charged with the duty of revivifying the spiritually dead and of making green the hearts which have become dry through a spiritual drought. It is his duty to tell mankind of the revelation he has received from God, to gather those who believe in him and his revelation, and to make of them a Jama’at willing to devote their lives to the propagation of Truth. His example should have the effect of cleansing people’s hearts and of raising the quality and level of their everyday actions. In short, people have begun to deny or to doubt the continuity of the gift of prophethood, because they have failed to grasp the meaning of this spiritual state. Some states of prophethood are such that their continuity among the followers of the Holy Prophet only raises his status instead of lowering it.
Meaning of Khatam al-Nabiyyin
It is said that the Holy Quran teaches the discontinuity of prophets of all kinds, because it says:
‘Muhammad is not the father of any male amongst you, but he is a Messenger of God and Khatam al-Nabiyyin.’32
In the translation of the verse the Arabic appellation Khatam al-Nabiyyin is retained because on it hangs the meaning of the verse. It is argued from this that, according to the Holy Quran, there can be no prophets now, even from among the followers of the Holy Prophet. But many seem to forget that in the divine text the word khatam is used by God with a fatha, that is, a stroke above t, not with a kasra, a stroke below t. Khatam means ‘seal’. Khatim would mean ‘the last person’ or ‘the last one’. Now ‘seal’ has the function of attestation. The verse in question would, therefore, mean the Muhammad, the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace), is the Seal of the Prophets. The great doctor of Hadith, Imam Bukhari, has interpreted the divine title, Khatam al-Nabiyyin, as ‘Seal of the Prophets’. Imam Bukhari in commenting upon this verse has cited the Traditions which speak of a mark on the Prophet’s holy person which has been called by traditionists the seal of prophecy. Alas! people do not ponder over the beautiful words of the Holy Book, so they miss its true significance. If they would ponder first over the general context, then over the verses and words, they would not miss the significance of the verse. For without grasping the context, nobody can understand the meaning of individual verses. Now, the passage begins by saying that the Holy Prophet is not the father of any male; that is, he has no physical son. The verse then goes on to assert that although the Holy Prophet is without male issue, he is a prophet; and not only a prophet but the Seal of all Prophets. It should be evident that what is asserted in the second part of the verse is in extenuation of what is conceded in the first. The first part concedes an apparent defect, the second part asserts something in extenuation of that defect. However, Muslims who read the Holy Book know that to admit that the Holy Prophet had no male issue is to contradict what is asserted in another well- known verse of the Holy Quran:
‘Verily, not you, but your enemy is without issue.”33
An admission contradictory to an assertion needs some explanation. One verse (108:4) describes the Holy Prophet’s enemy as issueless; the other (33:41) describes the Prophet himself as issueless. To resolve this contradiction, God makes an important claim on behalf of the Holy Prophet in verse 33:41. The claim is to repel the doubt or difficulty which the admission of this contradiction may easily raise. The claim is this: True, the Holy Prophet has no physical son. But this is no disgrace. It does not mean that he is really without offspring or progeny. Why? Because he is a Prophet of God. As a Prophet of God, he would have his followers; his spiritual progeny would more than compensate for any lack of physical progeny. But he is more than a prophet. He is the Seal of the Prophets. The expression ‘Seal of the Prophets’ asserts something further. It asserts that not only will the Prophet have followers and believers of the usual order: as Seal of the Prophets he will have the further power of raising others to the spiritual rank of prophet. He will be the progenitor not only of ordinary believers but even of prophets. In the verse cited against continuity of prophethood, we really have an affirmation of such a continuity; the continuity of an order of prophethood which has been mentioned and defined already, a prophethood which does not entail the instituting of a new law or dissociation from an earlier law. The continuity of prophethood which entails the revelation of a new law, or even partial abrogation of an older law, or the independent, unmediated realization of prophetic status, is offensive to the spiritual fatherhood of the Holy Prophet. It is the possibility of such prophethood only which is denied in verse 33:41.
It is also asserted that some Sayings of the Holy Prophet are contrary to a belief in the continuity of prophethood. For instance, he said, ‘I am the last of the prophets,’ and again: ‘There is no prophet after me.’ From these Sayings, it follows that there can be no prophet of any kind after the Holy Prophet! It is a pity that those who cite these Sayings of the Holy Prophet forget that the words ‘I am the last of the prophets’ are followed by the important words ‘and my mosque is the last of the mosques.’ The whole Saying is: ‘I am the last of the prophets and my mosque is the last of the mosques.’ If, therefore, the Holy Prophet is literally the last of the prophets, then the mosque which he built in Medina is literally the last of the mosques. It would be wrong to build any mosque after the Holy Prophet’s mosque at Medina. But nobody sees any contradiction between the meaning put today on the first part of the Saying and the meaning put on the second part of the same Saying. The first part is taken to mean the termination of every kind of prophethood with the advent of the Holy Prophet. But the second part is not likewise taken to mean the end of mosque-building. Those very people who believe in the termination of prophethood see no harm in building more mosques. In fact, their zeal for building mosques is excessive. There are towns which contain more mosques than are really required; many, therefore, remain without worshippers. In many towns mosques are to be found at short distances from each other, so that their superfluity is evident. If the expression ‘the last of the prophets’ entails the abolition of prophethood, the expression ‘last of the mosques’ must entail the abolition of mosque-building after the Prophet’s mosque. To be sure, solutions of this difficulty are attempted. It is said that mosques built by Muslims after the Holy Prophet’s time are mosques devoted to the form of worship instituted by the Holy Prophet. They are built for the same purpose as the Holy Prophet built the first mosque. Mosques built by Muslims, therefore, are the Prophet’s own mosques. They cannot be separated from the model which they imitate. Such mosques cannot and do not contradict the fact that the Prophet’s mosque is the last. The solution is a valid one. But it is equally valid to say that the expression ‘the last prophet’ does not prohibit the coming of prophets who imitate the life and example of the Holy Prophet, teach nothing new, and only follow him and his teaching; who are charged with the duty of spreading the Holy Prophet’s teaching; who attribute their spiritual acquisitions including prophethood to the spiritual example and influence of their preceptor and master, the Holy Prophet. The coming of such prophets does not offend against the Holy Prophet’s prerogative as the ‘Last Prophet’, in the same way and for the same reason that the building of mosques today does not offend against the status of the Prophet’s mosque as the ‘Last Mosque’. Now, let us turn to the Saying ‘There is no prophet after me.’ This Saying also cannot mean that there is to be literally no prophet after the Holy Prophet. This Saying also means only this: that no prophet can now come who would abrogate the teaching of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet’s Saying turns on the word ‘after’. One thing comes after another only when the first thing is over and the second thing takes its place. The prophet who appears in order to propagate, promulgate, and in every way to support and promote the prophethood of the Holy Prophet and all it stood and stands for cannot be said to have appeared after the Holy Prophet. The prophethood of the Holy Prophet would be extant still. The prophet who comes to serve this prophethood is a part of the Holy Prophet’s dispensation. Such a prophet could be said to have appeared after the Holy Prophet if he had proposed the abrogation of any part of the Holy Prophet’s teaching. A wise man tries to ponder over every important subject and to reach the depth of meaning which every single word and every single text contains. No wonder Ayesha (God be pleased with her), the holy consort of the Holy Prophet, fearing that Muslims in time to come should miss the meaning of the Holy Prophet’s Sayings on the subject of prophethood, warned people, saying:
‘Certainly, do say, he [the Holy Prophet] is the Seal of all Prophets, but do not say, there is no prophet after him’.34
If in Ayesha’s view, in her knowledge, the coming of prophets was literally over, why did she warn people against saying there was to be no prophet after the Holy Prophet? If when she sounded this warning she was wrong, and what she said was against the teaching of the Holy Prophet, why did not the Holy Prophet’s Companions contradict her? Her warning against the casual repetition of the Saying ‘There is no prophet after me’ shows clearly that, according to her, the coming of a prophet after the Holy Prophet was possible. Only such a prophet could not be a law-giving prophet, or a prophet independent of the Holy Prophet. The fact that the Companions of the Holy Prophet received Ayesha’s warning without question or criticism shows that the Companions of the Holy Prophet understood what she said and believed what she believed.
The Holy Quran and the institution of prophets
Woe to those who do not ponder over the Words of the Holy Book: misled, they seek to mislead others. Woe to those who show their wrath against us who refuse to be misled. They call us irreligious and Kafirs. But a believer is not afraid of other people’s threats. He is afraid only of God. What harm can one man do to another? Kill, at the most? But a believer is not afraid of being killed. For him, death opens the door to the Vision of God. If only those who decry us knew what a treasure the Holy Quran is. It is a treasure which cannot be exhausted; it is to continue to meet human needs for all time. It contains teaching about the spiritual advancement of human beings such that other books do not contain even a fraction of it. If people had any idea of the value of the Holy Quran, they would not be content with the little knowledge they have gleaned. They would delve deep into the meaning and seek ways to please God more and more, and acquire nearness to Him. If they had known the value of purity of heart as against outward conformity if they had cared for the spirit and not merely for the letter of the Holy Prophet’s teaching, they would have tried to know the ways into which the Holy Quran invites them for their spiritual advance. Had they done so, they would have discovered that they care more for the shell than for the kernel, that they hope to enjoy a drink by holding an empty cup to their lips. Do they not read the Surah Patiha, the first chapter of the Holy Quran? Does not the prayer in this chapter teach believers to ask God for spiritual rewards? Do they not repeat about fifty times a day the prayer ‘Show us the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy rewards’? If they do so, do they ever ponder over the meaning of rewards for which believers pray in the Surah Fatiha in their daily prayers? Had they even once prayed with their inward eye on the meaning of the prayer, they would have asked themselves again and again: ‘What is this straight path? What are the rewards which following the straight path is supposed to bring?’ And had they asked these questions, their attention would have been drawn to the important verse contained in chapter 4, which says:
‘And if they do as they are told, it would certainly be better for them and more effective in establishing their faith: and in that case We would certainly have given them a great reward from Ourselves, and We would surely have guided them to the right path. And he who obeys God and the Prophet, then such a one is of those whom God has rewarded, namely, the Prophets and the Truthful and the Martyrs and the Virtuous: and what a good company are these. This is the grace from God: and sufficient is God as One Who knows.’35
It is evident from this passage that when a believer prays for the path of those who have been rewarded by God’s blessings, he prays for the company of prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the virtuous. Therefore, as God has taught us this prayer through His Prophet, a prayer we repeat about fifty times every day, and as the straight path for which we pray has been explained by God Himself as the path at the end of which believers find themselves in the company of prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous who can assert and how can it be possible that, for the followers of the Holy Prophet, the door to every kind of prophethood is closed? Would not such a thought be ridiculous? Can God teach anything ridiculous? Is it possible that He should, on the one hand, exhort us t o pray for our inclusion among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous and, on the other, tell us that the reward of prophethood is now banned for the followers of the Holy Prophet and banned for ever? God forbid that this should be so. God is Holy and Pure, free from all faults and all evil. If, for some reason, He had really banned the reward ‘prophethood’, then He would not have taught us to pray for the path which leads to those rewarded by God. Nor would He have declared so clearly that obedience to the Holy Prophet makes a follower blessed, and to be blessed in the highest sense is to become a prophet. It is said that the crucial verse in the passage contains the word ma’a (lit. ‘with’) and not min (lit. ‘of’ or ‘from’). Therefore, it is asserted, the prayer only entails the possibility of a believer joining the company of prophets, of being with them, not of them. But those who assert this forget that the verse does not speak of prophets only. It speaks also of the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous. If ma’a (lit. ‘with’) in the verse implies that a believer is banned from rising to the status of a prophet, then we have to admit that he would be banned also from rising to the status of the truthful, or the martyrs, or the virtuous. It is not discontinuity of prophets only, but also the discontinuity of the blessed ones of lower degree that we must accept and become reconciled to. A believer who prays for inclusion with the rewarded must be content only to join their company. He cannot be one of them. A believer may join the company of the truthful, but may not be one of the truthful. He may join the company of the martyrs, but may not be a martyr. He may join the company of the virtuous, but may not be one of the virtuous. It means that all spiritual rewards and ranks are banned for the followers of the Holy Prophet. The most they may expect, in response to their prayers and their exertions for spiritual merit, is that they may join the company of one spiritual galaxy or another. They may not expect to acquire the status of others in any such galaxy. Each galaxy would consist of the followers of earlier prophets. The followers of the Holy Prophet can only aspire to join them as onlookers, not as equals. No true Muslim can entertain such a thought. Such a thought is derogatory to the dignity of Islam, the Quran and the Holy Prophet. It implies that the followers of the Holy Prophet cannot aspire even to the status of virtuous believers. They can only aspire to the privilege of their company. The word ma’a or ‘with’, therefore, cannot be taken in its superficial or literal sense. In that sense, the verse makes no sense whatever. It may serve the purpose of the Ulema by banning the gift of prophethood for the followers of the Holy Prophet. But if ma’a is to be interpreted in this way, not only prophethood but the other categories of blessedness, namely, truthfulness, martyrdom and virtue, will be banned likewise. The truth, however, is that the word ma’a (lit. ‘with’) is not used only in the sense of simultaneity in time or place. It does not merely mean that two things or persons are found together. It often means also similarity or community of status. We have examples of it in the Holy Quran. Thus:
‘ Surely the hypocrites are in the lowest depth of the fire and Thou shalt not find for them a helper. Except those who repent and amend and hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their obedience to Allah. These then are among [or with?] the believers. And Allah will soon bestow upon believers a great reward.’36
In this verse those who repent and do good deeds and are devotees of God and are sincere in their obedience are described as those who will be with the believers. If ‘being with the believers’ is taken literally, it would mean that in spite of being penitent, doing good deeds, being devoted to God, and being sincere in obedience to Him, those who practise these virtues will not attain the status of believers, but will only be with the believers. They will only acquire the right of company, but not be their equals and among them. Such a consequence is absurd in the extreme. Therefore we have to admit that ma’a (lit. ‘with’) often means similarity or equality of status It is similarity of status which is asserted in the words ‘they are with those whom God has blessed’ in the verse in question. From other places in the Holy Quran too it appears that the door to one kind of prophethood remains open for the followers of the Holy Prophet. This prophethood is an image of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet, and its purpose is to promote and propagate the truth of his teachings. Such prophethood will accrue from obedience and loyalty to the Holy Prophet. Thus in the chapter Al A raaf, God says about the Holy Prophet and his followers:
‘Say: This is what my Lord has forbidden, indecencies which are evident and which are hidden, and sin, and revolting without Just cause, and that you join with Allah that for which He has sent down no warrant and that you say of Allah what you know not. ‘And for every people there is a term, so that when their term is come, they cannot remain behind for an hour, nor can they precede it. ‘O children of Adam, if or when My Messengers come to you from amongst you, relating My Signs to you, then as to him who is reverent and does good, there is then no fear of such, nor shall they grieve.’37
From this it is evident that prophets will appear from amongst ,the followers of the Holy Prophet. The context relates to the followers of the Holy Prophet and it is in relation to them that God peaks of the coming of prophets and reminds them of their duty to accept such prophets. If they do not accept them, they will suffer. If anybody wishes to suggest that there is an ‘if’ in the Quranic text and that this ‘if’ makes the coming of prophets conditional and uncertain, it will not serve his purpose; because such an expression has been used in the Holy Quran in the description of the exit of Adam from Heaven. But even if we take the ‘if’ in the verse to denote a condition, it is evident that, according to God, prophetic revelation has not come to an end. A phenomenon which is avowed and which is no longer to be observed or experienced cannot be mentioned by God even in a conditional manner. To mention the impossible even in such a manner would be against the Dignity of God. Besides the evidence of the Holy Quran, the Sayings of the Holy Prophet also support the view that prophetic revelation has not come to an end. It is not completely and absolutely prohibited. The Holy Prophet has described the Promised Messiah as a Prophet. If, according to the Holy Prophet, no prophet of any kind was possible after him, why did he describe the Promised Messiah as a Prophet of God?38
Ahmadis believe in Jihad
The fifth big objection raised against us is that we deny the Muslim institution of Jihad. I have always wondered how such a false charge could be made against us, for to say that we deny Jihad is a lie. Without Jihad, according to us, belief cannot be made perfect. The weakness of Islam and of Muslims, the decay or the disappearance of belief, that we observe today on all sides, are due to casualness in the matter of Jihad. To say that we deny Jihad, therefore, is a fabrication. The teaching about Jihad occurs in several places in the Holy Quran, and we as Muslims and as devotees of the Holy Book cannot possibly deny it. What we deny and resist vehemently is the view which makes it right to shed blood, to spread disorder and disloyalty, and to disrupt civil peace in the name of Islam. To do so is to soil the fair name of Islam. We cannot be persuaded that the teachings of Islam may be distorted so as to serve our own designs and desires. We are not against Jihad.
We are only against the tendency to label any kind of aggrandizement as Jihad. And, dear reader, you can well understand that if an attempt is made to find fault in a beloved, how great is the offence which the attempt causes to the lover. How angry he would be at the fault-finder. Likewise we are angered by those who defame Islam by their words or deeds. The world at large regards Islam as a barbaric religion, and the Prophet of Islam as a savage militarist monarch. Have they found anything in the life of the Holy Prophet which warrants such a description, anything against the canons of piety and virtue? No. Muslims themselves by their deeds have prejudiced the world at large against Islam, so that it is no longer very easy to make them take a different view. Among the wrongs done to the Holy Prophet is the wrong which Muslims themselves have done to him by misrepresenting the Holy Prophet- by holding up a wrong image of him before others. The Holy Prophet was an embodiment of compassion and forgiveness. He did not want to harm even the meanest of God’s creatures. Yet he has been described in such a way as to repel people and to prejudice their minds against him.
The cry of Jihad is heard again and again and from many different quarters. But what was the Jihad to which God and His Prophet invited Muslims? And what is the Jihad to which we are invited today? The Jihad to which God invites us in the Holy Quran is described in the verse:
‘So obey not the disbelievers and strive by means of it [i.e. the Quran] a great striving.’39
The highest Jihad, therefore, is Jihad with the help of the Quran. Is it such a Jihad to which Muslims are invited today? How many are there who turn out to strive against disbelievers with only the Quran in their hands? Are Islam and the Quran so utterly devoid of inherent merit and attractiveness? If Islam and the Quran cannot ‘attract people today by their intrinsic beauty, what evidence have we for the truth of Islam? Human speech can change hearts. Can the speech of God change no hearts? Can it bring about no change in the world except with the help of the sword? Long human experience shows that the sword cannot effect a change of heart, and, according to Islam, it is a sin to try and convert a people through fear or favour. Has not God clearly said in the Holy Quran:
‘When the hypocrites come to thee, they say: “We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that thou art indeed His Messenger, but Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are most surely liars.’40
Here is a description of the hypocritical believers. If it were correct to spread Islam by the sword, then would it be meet or necessary to describe in this way those who had accepted Islam outwardly but were inwardly unbelievers still? If it were correct to convert people to Islam by force, then even such converts as did not believe in their hearts would have been true converts, according to the Holy Quran. Nobody can hope to Will sincere converts by the sword. It is wrong, therefore, to think that Islam teaches the use of the sword for the conversion of non-Muslims. On the other hand, Islam is the first religion which lays down the principle of freedom in religious matters in clear and unambiguous terms. The teaching of Islam is:
‘There shall be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong.’41
According to Islam, every human individual is free to believe or not to believe. He is free to follow reason. Islam also teaches:
And fight in the cause Of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors.42
Here the law of religious wars is laid down clearly. A religious war is to be waged against those who make war on Muslims because of religion; who seek by force to convert Muslims. Even in such d war Islam forbids the transgression of limits. If non-Muslims seeking to convert Muslims by force withdraw from such an attempt, then Muslims must stop fighting. In the face of such a teaching, nobody can say that Islam teaches the waging of war for its expansion. If Islam sanctions war, it is not in order to destroy or harm any religion. It is to promote religious freedom, to protect places of religious worship. It is clearly laid down in the Holy Quran:
‘Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged. And Allah indeed has power to help those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly only for saying “Our Lord is Allah.” And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques would have been pulled down wherein the name of Allah is oft remembered. And Allah will surely help him who helps Allah. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.’43
This passage from the Holy Quran leaves no doubt whatever that a religious war is not permitted by Islam unless it is against a people who force another people to abjure their religion; unless, for instance, Muslims are forced to abjure Islam. A religious war may be justified when there is interference in religion. But even when permitted, a religious war is not intended to force a people to give up their faith, nor is its purpose to desecrate or destroy places of worship, or to kill. The purpose of religious wars is to protect religion, to protect every religion, and to save from disgrace and destruction all places of worship, irrespective of the denomination to which they belong. Only such a religious war is permitted by Islam. Islam is a witness of other religions and their protector. Islam is no party to violence or cruelty or unfreedom. In short, the Jihad sanctioned by Islam is to make war against a people who prevent others by force from accepting Islam, or who wish to force people to deny Islam. It may be made against a people who kill others because of Islam. Only against such a people is the making of war permissible in Islam. Against any other people, Jihad is wrong and contrary to Islam. War not sanctioned by these conditions may be a political war, a war between country and country or people and people. It may be a war between two Muslim peoples. But it will not be a religious war. The current view of Jihad, which is nothing but violence and lawlessness, has been borrowed by Muslims from others. There is no sanction for it in Islam. It is not even known in Islam. Strange as it may seem, the responsibility for the spread of this view among Muslims lies with Christians, who are loudest in their condemnation of Islam for its supposed teaching of Jihad. In the Middle Ages, religious wars were the order of the day. The whole of Europe took part in them. Christian warriors and crusaders attacked the borders of Muslim countries in the same way as semi-independent transborder tribesmen attack the border of India. At the same time they attacked those European peoples who were holding back from Christianity. Christians who took part in these wars did so to earn the pleasure of God. It seems that, under the violent and unprovoked attacks of Christians, Muslims lost their balance. Following the example of Christians, they too started attacking the borders of other peoples and countries. They forgot the teaching of their own religion. So completely do they seem to have assimilated the Christian example that Christians themselves have started raising objections In spite of the fact that objections now come from Christians Muslims fail to see through the Christian game. All l)over the world today this objection is directed against Islam. Everywhere it is used as a weapon against Islam; but Muslims do not realize it. Unwittingly they continue to supply the enemies of Islam with texts and arguments to use against Islam. The enemy is able to attack Islam with weapons forged by Muslims. The wars which they call Jihad have not helped Islam. They have only done it harm. Muslims have lost sight of the moral conditions of victory. Victory comes 110t from weapons or numbers, but from skill, organization, education, equipment, morale and the goodwill of other nations. A very small nation can sometimes score a victory over a big nation, because the smaller nation happens to have the moral conditions of victory on its side. Without these conditions the largest armies may prove useless. It would have been infinitely better had Muslims sought their prosperity not in misconceived Jihad, but in the virtues and skills which make for the success of nations. By subscribing to a misconceived Jihad they defame Islam and harm their interests. If a nation indulges in political warfare in the guise of religion, it only drives other nations into united hostility against it. The other nations begin to feel insecure. When international conflicts are stimulated by religious differences, the state with the largest amount of goodwill for others is not immune from attack by an external enemy. When states are divided over religion, each is afraid of the others. Good behavior and goodwill are then of no avail. These virtues may avert a political war but not religious war. In short, we do not deny but affirm, the importance of Jihad. We deny only a wrong interpretation of it, which has done incalculable harm to Islam. The future of Muslims, in our view, depends on how far they succeed in understanding the true meaning of Jihad. If they are able to realize that the best form of Jihad is Jihad with the Quran (25:53), and not Jihad with the sword, if they recognize that difference of religion provides no sanction for violence against the lives or property or honour of others (Quran, 4:91 2:191, 60:90), their minds and outlook will undergo a wholesome change, a change which will take them nearer to the right path. Then they will be acting on a verse of the Holy Quran which says:
‘And it is not righteousness that you come into houses by the backs thereof; but truly righteous is he who fears Allah. And you should come into houses by the doors thereof and fear Allah that you may prosper.’44
Then will they go from success to success. I have briefly described the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at. I have also described the objections raised against those beliefs and our answers to those objections. I now proceed to give a brief account of the claim of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement and of the arguments 011 which the claim is based. I do so in order that I should stand absolved before God; that it may be said that I have delivered the message, and that you, dear reader, may become acquainted with the purpose of God, and make an effort to act in accordance with that purpose, and inherit the grace of God and receive the gift of His love.
The claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
The claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (upon whom be peace) is that God has raised him for the guidance and direction of mankind; that he is the Messiah foretold in the Traditions of our Holy Prophet and the Mahdi promised in his Sayings; that the prophecies contained ill the different religious books about the advent of a Divine Messenger in the latter days have also been fulfilled in his person; that God has raised him for the advocacy and promulgation of Islam in our time; that God has granted him insight into the Holy Quran, and revealed to him its innermost meaning and truth; that He has revealed to him the secrets of a virtuous life. By his work, his message, and his example, he has glorified the Holy Prophet and demonstrated the superiority of Islam over other religions. The purpose of his advent was that God’s love and concern for Islam should become manifest, that it preliminaries should become clear how improper it is to neglect God and to keep at a distance from Him. He claimed also that his coming had been foretold by almost all the prophets and founders of religions in the past. This, because the Holy Prophet of Islam had been sent by God as a teacher of all mankind. He was to collect mankind in one fold to unite them in one faith. If this design was to be fulfilled, it was necessary that national and traditional divisions and hatreds should be swept out of the way, so that the Holy Prophet could be accepted as the Seal of Prophets by all the peoples of the world. Therefore, under God’s design, the prophets and religious teachers of the past had each foretold his own second coming in the latter days. These prophecies pertained to a follower of the Holy Prophet, ho was to be commanded by God to affirm and propagate the truth of the Holy Prophet, and was to unite the followers of different religions into an acceptance of Islam. He was to do so by declaring himself to be the Promised One of each religion. The prophecies in the books of other religions which foretold the coming of a teacher all met their fulfilment in him. He was the Messiah for Christians and Jews, the Masiodarbahmi for the Zoroastrians, and Krishna for the Hindus. His coming in fulfilment of prophecies contained in the ancient books is evidence of his truth. As he himself is a witness of the religion of Islam, his coming is an invitation to the followers of other religions to come and enter the universal brotherhood of Islam.
Having briefly described the claim of the Promised Messiah, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, I wish, in Part 11, to enumerate the major criteria by which the truth of such a claimant can be judged. When it is proved that a certain person is divinely commissioned as a Messenger of God, it becomes incumbent upon everyone to accept his claim. If a person is a divinely appointed leader, it is inconceivable that he should try to mislead or misguide If a divine leader could mislead, it would be to the discredit of Divine Knowledge. It would mean that, God forbid, God has made an error ill selecting a Messenger or leader, that He has appointed as His vicegerent a person who is impure of heart, who seeks honour and fame for himself and not the propagation of truth, who holds himself above God. Not only does such a thought contradict common sense and reason; the Holy Quran explicitly denies it. The Holy Quran says:
‘It is not possible for a man that Allah should give him the Book and dominion and prophethood, and then he should say to mankind. “Be ye my servants and not servants of Allah”; but he would say, “Be solely devoted to the Lord because you teach the Book and because you study it.” Nor is it possible for him that he should bid you take the angels and the Prophets for Lords. Would he enjoin you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God?45
It is impossible, that is to say, that God should grant a man a Book, give him wisdom and the rank of a prophet, and yet that such a person should teach men to abandon God and to obey him instead. Such a Messenger cannot but teach people to obey God. Nor can such a person teach people to take the angels and prophets as Gods. It is impossible for anyone to persuade people to believe and yet make them disbelieve. The central question, therefore, when we are confronted with the fact of a claimant to divine leadership, is whether the leader’s claim is true. If his claim is found to be true, then all his teaching is true. If his claim is not found to be true, it is futile to examine his teaching in detail. Following this golden principle, I wish to examine the claim of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, so that my readers should become acquainted with the grounds on which the claim stands, and because of which hundreds of thousands of persons have already accepted him.
- Al Hajj, 79.
- Isaiah 62:2.
- Sahi-al-Bukhari, Kitabul-Ahkam, (chap. Muuzatul-Iman)
- Fatir, 25.
- Al-lmran, 82
- Tafsir Ibn-i-Kasir, vol. 2, p. 246.
- Al-Baqarah, 187.
- Tafsir-ul-Maalam-ut-tanzil under the verse: (Hud: verse 107)
- Al-Nisa, 173.
- Al-Maidah, 118.
- Al-Imran, 56.
- Bani- lsrail, 94.
- Zurqani, vol. Vl, p. 54.
- Mawahib-ud duniya by Qastalani, vol. 1, p. 42.
- Al-Imran, 145.
- Al-Zumar, 31.
- Bukhari, vol. 2, chap. Manaqibe Abu Bakr. 21
- Tabaqat Ibn Sa’ad, vol. 111.
- Al- Ra’d,12
- Bukhari, Kitabul-Anbiya, chap. nuzul Isa bin Maryam.
- Al-Tauba, 26.
- Al-lmran, 155.
- Al-Zumar, 7.
- Al-A’raf, 27.
- Al-Baqarah, 58
- Al-Hadid, 26.
- Al-Shura, 28.
- Ha Mim Sajdah. 11.
- Al- Talaq, 11.
- Al-Tahrim. 12
- Al-Ahzab, 41 (33:41).
- Al-Kauthar, 4 (108:4).
- Takmala Majma-uI Bahar, p.5.
- Al-Nisa. 70-1.
- Al-Nisa, 14-7.
- Al-A’raaf. 31
- Muslim, Zikre Dad
- Al-Furqan, 53.
- Al-Munafiqun, 2.
- Al-Baqarah, 257
- Al-Baqarah, 191
- Al-Hajj 40-41
- Al-Baqarah, 190
- Al-Imran, 80.