An objection that is raised is that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement described himself as a tree planted by the British and that he flattered the British and praised them unduly, which shows that his claim to prophethood had been sponsored by the British.
This charge is entirely false. The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, used the expression ‘a tree planted by the British’ concerning his forebears with reference to the services rendered by them to the British. He has not employed this expression anywhere concerning his claim, or his status. He wrote:
It is not possible to silence those people who seek to cover up the devoted services rendered by my father, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, and my brother, Mirza Ghulam Qadir, extending over half a century, which are mentioned in Government letters and in Sir Leppel Griffin’s book Chiefs of the Punjab, and the service rendered in my writings extending over eighteen years and to create a misunderstanding in the minds of the British authorities and to raise a doubt concerning a family that has been loyal to the Government and has wished it well. Some people are determined to convey to the Government false allegations on account of religious differences; or out of jealousy, or spite, or some personal motive. It is requested that the authorities should act with wisdom and caution and after due investigation and attention towards a family whose loyalty and devotion have been well established and concerning whom high officials of Government have always expressed the view in their letters that its members are the well wishers and loyal servants of the British Government and which is a tree planted by itself. (Tableegh Risalat, Vol. VII, pp.19-20)
It is quite clear that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, did not describe his claim as ‘a tree planted by the Government’, but has used this expression concerning the services rendered by the members of his family and himself in the past. Concerning his claim, he had recorded in the same letter addressed to the Lieutenant Governor:
I claim to be the Promised Messiah under Divine behest and having been honored by Divine revelation and inspiration.
With regard to his own advent he announced emphatically that he was a tree planted by the hand of God Almighty. He wrote:
I am not a tree that can be uprooted by them. If their first ones and their last ones, and their living ones and their dead ones, should all combine together and should pray for my death, my God would reject all their prayers and would throw them back at them as a curse. (Arbain, Nos. 4-7)
In a Persian verse he has said:
O thou who runnest towards me with a hundred hatchets!
Have fear of the gardener,
For I am a fruit-bearing branch!
It can be asked why did he in any case express his loyalty and praised the British repeatedly in his books? The answer is that some people continuously reported to the Government that he was a dangerous person, even more dangerous than the Sudanese Mahdi. For instance, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Sahib of Batala wrote concerning him:
His deception is proved by the fact that in his heart he considers it lawful to put an end to the authority of a non-Muslim government and to plunder its belongings… Therefore, it would not be proper on the part of the Government to rely on him and it would be necessary to beware of him, otherwise such harm might be suffered at the hands of this Mahdi of Qadian as was experienced at the hands of the Sudanese Mahdi. (Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. VI, 1893)
To counter this propaganda, he had to state time after time in books that his community was loyal to the British Government.
Regarding the charge that he flattered the British, attention might be drawn to some of his writings. For instance, he says:
Some ignorant people have raised the objection, among them the Editor of Al-Manar, that as I live in a country ruled by the British, I, therefore, forbid Jihad. These stupid ones do not consider that if I had wished to please the Government with false declarations, why should I have affirmed repeatedly that Jesus, son of Mary, was delivered from the cross and died a natural death in Srinagar and that he was neither God, nor Son of God. Would not such of the British who are devoted to their religion be disgusted by this affirmation of mine? Then attend to this, ye stupid ones, that I offer no flattery to this Government. The truth is that according to the Holy Quran, it is forbidden to go to war against a government which does not interfere in any way with Islam or its practice, nor uses force against us in order to promote its own religion. (Kishti Nuh, p.68)
He states further:
This Government safeguards the lives and the properties of the Muslims and provides them with security against the attack of every wrongdoer… I have not embarked upon this enterprise out of any fear of Government or in the hope of any reward from it. All I have done is in accordance with the divine command and the command of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. (Nurul Haq, Part I, p.30)
He also states:
I have never desired that I should mention my continuous services to government officials, for I consider it my duty to declare the truth, not out of my desire for any return or award. (Tableegh Risalat, Vol. VII, p. 10)
Another statement of his is:
I do not flatter the Government as some ignorant ones imagine because I desire a return from the Government. On the contrary, I consider it just and a duty on account of my faith to express gratitude to the Government. (Tableegh Risalat, Vol. X, p.123)
Thus, whenever he praised the British, it was not out of flattery but was out of obedience to the direction of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that he who is not grateful to man is not grateful to Allah. To call a justice-loving government a just government is an Islamic quality and is not open to objection.
It is surprising that when the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, pointed out some of the good qualities of the British he was charged with flattering them, but when numberless Muslin divines, both those who were his contemporaries and those who came after him, praised the British in exaggerated terms, no one raised a voice against it. Is that Islamic justice?
We set out below, by way of illustration, some of the declarations of Muslim divines and leaders who described the British Government as a divine blessing.
(i) Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Sahib of Batala, who was one of the divines and leaders of the Ahle Hadees, wrote:
It is not permissible for Muslim subjects to fight, or to help with men and money those who fight, against a government, whether Christian, or Jewish, or of some other faith, under whom the Muslims carry out their religious duties and obligations freely. For the Muslims of India it is forbidden to oppose or rebel against the British Government. (Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. VI, No. 10)
He has also stated:
Brethren, this is not the time of the sword; at this time it has become necessary to use the pen in place of the sword. (Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. VI, No.12)
(ii) Syed Ali-al-Hairi Sahib, the well-known Shia mujtahid, has stated:
We take pride in being subject to a Government under which justice and religious freedom are the law, the equal of which is not to be found in any other government of the world. Therefore, I declare that in return for this beneficence every Shia should be grateful to the British Government with a sincere heart and appreciate its beneficence. (Mauiza Tahreef Quran, April 1923)
(iii) Hazrat Syed Sahib Brelvi declared:
Our true purpose is the propagation of the Unity of God and the revival of the practice of the Chiefs of the Prophets, and that we carry out without hindrance in this country. Then why should we fight the British Government and shed the blood of both sides contrary to the principles of our religion. (Biography of Hazrat Syed Ahmed by Maulana Muhammad Jaafar Thanesar)
(iv) An-Nadwah, the organ of the Nadwatul Ulama, wrote:
The true purpose of this institute of learning is to produce clear-minded divines and it is the duty of such divines that they should be familiar with the blessings of the Government and should propagate loyalty to the Government in the country. (An-Nadwah, Vol. V, July 1908)
Again, the same organ wrote:
One day was observed as a holiday in celebration of the fifty years’ Jubilee of the British Government and a telegram of felicitations was dispatched on behalf of the Nadwah to His Excellency the Governor-General. (An-Nadwah, November, 1908)
It is against this background that the Promised Messiah expressed his gratitude to the British Government. He set forth his reasons thus:
The Government has provided freedom for every people to propagate their religion and thus the people have gained the opportunity to investigate and reflect upon the principles of each religion and the arguments in support of them… That is the reason that we mention the beneficence of the British Government repeatedly in our writings and speeches. (Roedad Jalsa Dua)
Many of the Muslim divines and leaders obtained grants and awards from the British Government in return for their praise of the Government and their service to it. The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, did all this for the purpose of the propagation of the true Islamic teaching and sought or obtained no advantage of any kind from the British Government. Can the opposing Muslim divines point to a single instance in which the British Government conferred any benefit upon him in return for his praise of the Government? There is no such instance. He was a resident of Qadian and during his lifetime no facility, like the telegraph, or telephone, or railways, was provided by the Government. He lived in perpetual danger on account of the provocative writings and speeches of the opposing divines, but the Government never took any step towards his security, nor rendered him any financial assistance. There was no police or military unit in Qadian. He was repeatedly prosecuted on false charges but the Government showed him no favor. Would that be the attitude of a government towards one who, as has been alleged, was put up by government and was its spy?
When the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, put forward his claim, the opposing divines for many years continued to charge him with being the agent of the Government and on the other hand reported to the Government that he was disloyal and intended to bring about a rebellion.
On one occasion he received a revelation in Persian to the effect that the British Empire would last only for eight years and that thereafter a period of weakness and disorder and decline would set in. He communicated this revelation only to some members of his Movement. When Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Sahib of Batala, who was always in search for something on the basis of which he might be able to establish that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, was disloyal to and a rebel against the British Government, learnt of this revelation from a member of the Movement, he at once wrote an article justifying his assertion that he was a rebel who desired to bring about the end of the British Government and Empire.
In any case, is it not surprising that a person who, according to his opponents, had been put up by the British Government should convey to his followers that the days of that Government had been numbered? Had he been put up by the British he would have propagated in support of the strength and permanence of the Government rather than make a prophecy that the Government would not last for much longer.
Another matter that is worthy of note is that the British Government spent millions of pounds in the effort to establish Christianity in its colonial possessions. They published a vast literature in support of this effort and helped to train thousands of missionaries for that purpose. Under the auspices of the Bible Religious Society millions of copies of the Bible were printed in local languages and were published freely and nothing was left untried for the propagation of Christianity and its firm establishment. Then does it stand to reason that on the one hand an intelligent Government should carry on such a tremendous effort for the propagation of its religion and on the other hand should put up a person who applied the ax to the roots of Christianity? Christianity is founded on the death of Jesus upon the cross whereby, it is alleged, he atoned for the sins of mankind. The Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, proved that Jesus did not die upon the cross and thus demolished the very foundation of Christianity. He challenged the principal Christian missionaries in India and established their falsehood. Can such a person be the agent of a Christian government?
All Christian missionaries were united in their opposition to the Promised Messiah, peace be on him. If they knew that he was one of their own men, why should they have opposed him so strenuously? One of his well-known Christian opponents was Padre Thakurdas, He wrote and published books like the Review of Braheen Ahmadiyya, Izalatul Mirza Qadiani, Zunub Muhammadjyya, against the Ahmadiyya Movement. Padre S. P. Jacob wrote and published a book against him called The Promised Messiah. The Rev. Dr. Griswold wrote and published a book titled Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani against him. Leading missionaries like Fateh Masih, Waris Masih, Imadud-din, Sirajuddin, Abdullah Atham, and Henry Martyn Clark, worked their utmost in their Opposition to him. Abdullah Atham was an Extra Assistant Commissioner. If the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, had been put up by the British, was it for them to instruct one of their senior officers to oppose him? Dr. Henry Martyn Clark instituted a false prosecution against him charging him with conspiracy to murder. Was this the type of treatment which was to be expected from the Christians against an agent of the Government?
Till two years before his death the name of every visitor to Qadian was noted down by police agents. Most of the leading British officials looked upon the Ahmadiyya Community with suspicion and were opposed to it. The Governor of the Punjab, Sir Herbert Emerson, was well-known for his hostility towards the Ahmadiyya Movement. He encouraged the Ahrar in their Opposition to the Movement and backed them up. Does all this show whether the British officials were the friends of the Ahmadis or were opposed to them?
The Opponents of the Ahmadiyya Movement describe as an agent of the Christian British Government, one who dubbed Christian missionaries as Anti-Christ (Chashmai-Maarifat), and who proclaimed:
All Christians are without faith and as such they have no right to argue with anyone in the matter of faith, until they first prove their own faithfulness. Their condition bears witness that on account of the lack of those qualities which Jesus prescribed as the qualities of faith, either they are without faith or he was false who set down such qualities for them which are not found in them. In either case it is established that the Christians are utterly far away from and are deprived of truth. (Karamatus Sadiqeen, p.55)
Can one who wrote this be an agent of the British Government? The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, was the person who blocked the advance of Christianity, who proved the death of the god of the Christians, who established the truth of the Holy Quran in contrast with the Bible, whose missionaries are busy demolishing Christian citadels around the globe and who invited the Queen of Great Britain, who was the greatest sovereign of her age, to give up Christianity and to accept Islam. Addressing her he said:
Honored Queen and Empress of India, with humble respect we submit that in this time of joy, which is the time of your Diamond Jubilee, you should endeavor… to rescue the honor of Jesus from the stain that has been put upon it. (Tohfa Qaisariyah)
Can any reasonable person accept that one who had been put up, as alleged by his opponents, by a Christian Government to uproot Islam, should stand up and invite the mightiest sovereign of his time, Her Majesty Queen Victoria, to accept Islam?