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A Spiritual Challenge - Mubahila

The Review of Religions, February 1992

These days a certain group of ulema (Muslim Religious Leaders) is proliferating and disseminating numerous notification papers and pamphlets, the synopsis of which is that a mubahala (prayer duel) took place between the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahibas, Qadiani, and Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, Amratsari in which Mirza Sahibas suffered a clear defeat.

The issue of the filthy language which is used by this band in the writing of these articles and notifications we wish to leave in the custody of God. In this concise presentation we only wish to review the focal point of their writings so that a fair-natured person is able to distinguish between right and wrong.

The focal point of these notifications and articles is that amongst the various consequences which Hazrat Mirza Sahibas had mentioned in his mubahala notification for the fate of the liar was death by the epidemic disease of cholera. Accordingly, these notifications, after highlighting this issue, try to prove that because (as per their pronouncement) Mirza Sahib'sas death occurred in suffering from cholera and because he passed away during the lifetime of Maulvi Sanaullah and Maulvi Sahib continued to live for may years after him, both of these events affixed the seal of truth in Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib and of falsehood on Mirza Sahibas.

The issue as to what was the nature of this mubahala we shall take up a little later, but one point that we would like to stress forthwith is that the very claim that Hazrat Mirza Sahibas died of cholera is false and unfounded. It appears that the indicators of this accusation do not even have the sense to understand that diarrhoea and cholera are the names of two different diseases. Cholera is an extremely fatal epidemic disease which spreads rapidly and it usually erupts during the rainy season, not during the dry, hot season. Now it has been brought under considerable control but during those days it was categorized as a disaster and strict preventative measures were enforced by the government to control it. Under no circumstances was the corpse of a cholera-diseased person allowed to be moved from one town to another. In particular, the transportation of such a corpse by train was impossible because the railway authorities would never accept a corpse until the case of death was verified and stated on the death certificate by a civil surgeon, and cholera or such other types of perilous diseases were totally discounted to be the cause of death.

Now, it was so designed by God Almighty that Hazrat Mirza Sahibas passed away in Lahore instead of Qadian and his corpse was transported by train from Lahore to Batala, which is a distance of 60 miles. This very fact is sufficient to disprove the fictitious narration of the ulema and categorically proves that the death of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas was not caused by the epidemic disease of cholera. However, if anyone still wishes to believe in these imaginary tales and have the joy of beating the drums of an imaginary victory, his dealing is with God Almighty.

Let's now, in the light of historical facts, view in some detail the salient features of the mentioned Mubahala, so that we can ascertain for ourselves who really of the two (that is, Hazrat Mirza Sahibas and Maulvi Sanaullah) turned out to be true or false. What is required of us to come to such a judgment is righteousness and fear of God. If a person is purified of prejudice and he studies the facts with a truth-seeking insight, it will not be difficult at all for him to see the reality.

In this brief review, we shall particularly consider the following points:

  1. What is the background of the mubahala challenge between Hazrat Mirza Sahibas and Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib?

  2. Who had, in the first instance, given the invitation to mubahala and who accepted or rejected it?

  3. Which of the mubahala conditions were clearly agreed upon by the parties?

  4. In the light of these conditions what did the decree of God Almighty manifest?


Primarily, the mubahala challenge was given by Hazrat Mirza Sahibas in his book Anjami Atham, published in 1897 (Anjami Atham, Roohani Khazain, Vol. 11, pp. 45-72).

At that time Hazrat Mirza Sahibas was 62 years old and Maulvi Sanaullah was a young man of 29. The ulema of that period to whom Hazrat Mirza Sahibas particularly extended his challenge were listed in a notification which is appended to the book Anjami Atham. In that list, the name of Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib appears at no. 11.

In response to this challenge, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib remained silent for years. But, after about five years, when his companions started pressing him for a response, he, for the first time, acknowledged it in one of his writings and accepted the challenge. Hazrat Mirza Sahibas has referred to his confirmation in his book Ijazi Ahmadi, which was published in 1902. He writes:

I have seen the duly signed script of Maulvi Sanaullah Amratsari in which he states that he is wholeheartedly willing for such a judgment that the two parties, that is him and me, pray that whoever of the two is a liar die during the lifetime of the one who is true.
(Ijazi Ahmadi, Roohani Khazain, Vol. 19, p. 121)
In spite of the fact that at that time Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib was 33 years younger in age and Hazrat Mirza Sahibas was then 67 years old, he, with unequivocal trust in God Almighty, in this very book affirmed the acceptance of the challenge and also stated:
If he (Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib) will actively pursue and stay firm on this challenge and insist that the liar dies before the true, then he will definitely die first.
(Ijazi Ahmadi, Roohani Khazain, Vol. 19, p. 148)
There is a clear indication in the words of the above statement that Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib was expected to affirm openly that indeed the prayer condition was imposed by him and he abided by it. It appears that Hazrat Mirza Sahibas suspected that Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, after imposing that condition, will back out from it. Therefore, elaborating this point further, Hazrat Mirza Sahibas wrote in this very book:
He has come up with a good proposition, now let's see if he dare stick to it.
(Ijazi Ahmadi, Roohani Khazain, Vol. 19, p. 122)
Readers should remember that this incident took place in 1902 and the book Ijazi Ahmadi was published in the month of November the same year. In its reply, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib published a book entitled Revelations of Mirza, in which regarding the challenge by Hazrat Mirza Sahibas he writes:
Because this humble one is neither in reality nor like him a Prophet or Messenger, son of God or recipient of revelation, I cannot dare enter such a contest.
Further to that he added:
I regret, I don't have the audacity to get into such things and this lack of audacity is an honour for me.
(Revelations of Mirza, Ed. VI, p. 116)
So, as far as the prayer (that the liar dies in the lifetime of the true) condition put forward by Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib was concerned, he categorically turned away from it and the suspicion of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas proved right that: `Now let's see if he dare stick to it.' Readers should bear in mind that Hazrat Mirza Sahibas was then 67 years old and Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib was only 34 years old.

Another five years passed after this incident and nothing regarding acceptance or non-acceptance was stated by Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib. However, on 29th March 1907, once again in his newspaper Ahli Hadees, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib raised up the mubahala case and challenged Hazrat Mirza Sahibas and his followers in the following language:

Mirzaiyo, if you are true, then come and bring your Guru with you ... bring him before me who has given me the mubahala challenge in `Anjami Atham'.
(Akhbar Ahli Hadees, 29th March 1907)
It should be noted that Anjami Atham was published in 1897. Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib recalled a writing of 1897 after ten years. After all, what were his reasons for doing so? Why did he avoid it for ten years? When the challenge was given, he opted to remain silent, then why did he choose to refer to it again after ten years and accept it? Anyways, what matters here is that Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, at last, after ten years, on 29th March, 1907 announced the acceptance of this challenge,but added a condition to it just as the ulema of present times are doing these days. The condition he added was:
Bring him before me, who has given the mubahala challenge in `Anjami Atham'.
It appears that Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib accepted the mubahala after ten years, thinking that because of the fear that he has now reached a very advanced age and his health was in poor condition, Hazrat Mirza Sahib as would perhaps decline his challenge. But it did not occur to him that mubahala is entered into at the decree of Allah and in complete trust in Him, not on the estimation of ages. Therefore, doubtlessly, he must have been very surprised when Hazrat Mirza Sahibas, without any hesitation and delay, declared acceptance of his mubahala challenge. Hazrat Mirza Sahibas did not give the reply to Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib that your accepting the challenge after ten years is absurd, especially when I am very close to the age of my natural death. He, in Akhbar Badr of 4th April 1907, in reply to the call to Mubahala by Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, published a notice of acceptance of this challenge. Later, he published on 15th April, 1908, a notification captioned: Final decision with Maulana Sanaullah Sahib Amratsari, which, in fact, is the most decisive notification in the whole of this episode and no good natured, truth seeking person can ignore this notification and Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib Amratsari's reaction to it.

In this notification, Hazrat Mirza Sahibas, accepting the aforesaid condition of Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, prayed that Allah causes to die the liar in the lifetime of the true. But because the mubahala challenge cannot be concluded by one party alone and the concurrence of the other party is equally essential, Hazrat Mirza Sahibas, therefore, in order to finalize the mubahala challenge, put forward two demands in his notification: Firstly, that he should publish the notification in his newspaper Ahli Hadees, and secondly, write whatever he wishes underneath it (that is, write his own conditions, if any under it clearly). The decision then is in the hands of God. Henceforth, this spiritual contest enters into an extremely important and decisive stage. Hazrat Mirza Sahibas, on his side, in spite of being much older in age, once again readily expresses his willingness to pray that Allah causes to die the liar in the lifetime of the true but at the same time gives the other party the opportunity to fix his own conditions and publish them in his newspaper. What is to be seen then is whether Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, solemnly agreeing to the words of the prayer, published the notification and attested it underneath with his signature and went along with Hazrat Mirza Sahibas actually to pray that Allah causes to die the liar during the lifetime of the true or he comes up with some other proposition. The final judgment of the case was to be shaped by the reaction of the Maulvi Sanaullah in response to the demands of the notification.

Now lets see, after publishing the notification in his newspaper, what did Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib write underneath it? In response to Hazrat Mirza Sahib'sas notification of 15th April 1907, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib published that notification in his newspaper Ahli Hadees of 26th April 1907 and underneath it he wrote something very important which the ulema of today, by murdering justice and honesty, are hiding from the Muslim public. The fact remains that his writing was in response to the demand by Hazrat Mirza Sahibas that he should publish the notification in Ahli Hadees and feel free to write underneath it his own conditions. Accordingly, the writing underneath is of great significance in the resulting consequences of the mubahala challenge. Maulvi Sanaullah write as follows under the notification of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas:

Firstly, my consent has not been taken for this prayer and it has been published without my consent.
That is, he did not agree to be a party to the mubahala prayer offered by Hazrat Mirza Sahibas. Moreover, he expressed his discontent at such a prayer being published without his consent. Then, under this writing, he further wrote:
Your writing can under no circumstances prove decisive.
Further, he added:
In case I die, what argument is my death going to resolve for other people?
(Akhbar Ahli Hadees, Amratsar, 26th April, 1907, p. 5)
Not only that, but in the margin of the very issue, the assistant editor appended the following text which was later on also testified as true by Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib. The assistant editor wrote:
God gives long lives to those who are liars, deceitful, mischievous and disobedient so that during the time given to them they can do more of their evil deeds.
Then Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib further wrote:
Your writing is not acceptable to me and neither can any sane person accept it.
(Akhbar Ahli Hadees, Amratsar, 26th April, 1907)
So, as far as the mubahala prayer of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas, published on 15th April 1907, is concerned, in view of the condition therein that the liar die during the lifetime of the true, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib refused to become the second party to it and on the contrary took the position that the liar as against the true is given more time and longer life to continue his evil deeds. Accordingly, until the demise of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib not only remained firm on this position but emphasized it further in stronger words. In his booklet Moraqqai Qadiani of August 1907, by publishing the following text, he affixed on himself by his own words the permanent seal of being a liar. He write:
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, in spite of being a true prophet, passed away before Maseelma Kazzab. Maseelma in spite of being a liar died after the true person but because he finally died in disappointment and frustration, therefore, there is no doubt in the authenticity of the prayer.
(Moraqqai Qadiani, August 1907)
Now judge it for yourself. Can any God-fearing and truthseeking person, after having read these writings of Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, imagine even for a moment that he had fully accepted the test of the mubahala challenge of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas as published on 15th April 1907? Can anyone have even an iota of doubt that in actual fact, according to the demand of Hazrat Mirza Sahibas in his notification that he write underneath his own condition that the true person will die in the lifetime of the liar and not otherwise as Hazrat Mirza Sahibas had said in his notification that the liar will die during the lifetime of the true person.

As far as Hazrat Mirza Sahibas is concerned, he did not reject the condition imposed by Maulvi Sanaullah that the true person would die in the lifetime of the liar until he passed away. Moreover, Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib made it very clear that not only will the liar continue to live after the the death of the true person but also eventually he will die a death of disappointment and frustration. The fulfillment of his first condition of continuing to live after the true person is abundantly clear. We have to see now whether his second condition of dying in disappointment and frustration was also fulfilled in his favour or not.

As far as the fulfillment of the second condition is concerned, the following quotes are worth considering. The newspaper Al A'tizan of 15th June 1962 writes on page 10:

In August 1947, Amratsar was the scene of a mini-doomsday. The death-afflicting storm of rioting completely enfolded the residence of Maulana, and even though he succeeded in evacuating himself and his family out into safety, his only youthful son Ataullah was cruelly slaughtered under his very eyes and the horror of that grief minced his heart into pieces.
Then Maulvi Abdul Majid Sohdarvi, biographer of Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib, writes in his book Seerati Sanai, published by Maqbool Aam Press, Lahore, that:
The moment he left his house, vagabonds and looters who were waiting for the opportunity swept in and took everything, including all the household items, cash and jewelry. After looting and robbing, they put the house on fire. That was, however, not the end of it; the looters also put on fire and turned to ashes Maulana's most precious and valuable collection of books which included some very rare publications worth thousands of rupees and which he had brought together after great pains and expense. The loss of these books was no less distressing to Maulana than the loss of his only son. Those books were the most valuable estate of his life and some of them were so rare that it was not only difficult but impossible to replace them.

This violent grief remained with Maulana until his death and, in fact, these two tragic incidents were the major cause of his sudden death. The sudden loss of his only son and the burning of his most precious collection of books, and the affliction of both of these misfortunes over a short while claimed his life.

This is what Maulvi Abdul Majid had to say in Seerati Sanai. It is indeed a most distressful description and we are deeply hurt and not pleased in the least by the Maulana's remorseful end. In fact, we deeply sympathize and lament at the fate the Maulana met, but it was exactly what he asked for in his own words and that fate was decreed to be fulfilled. Can the description of death by disappointment, misfortunes and frustrations be sketched in better words?

This then was the reality of that historical mubahala and its fate. Now let's turn to the present and examine the reasons why these days some of the ulema are so enthusiastically presenting before the Muslim public the facts of that old historical mubahala in a mutilated form. After all, what's that incident of the present times which has caused them such agony and scared and harassed them to the extent that they are trying to fortify themselves within the four walls of a hundred year old mubahala?


On Friday, 10th June 1988, the present Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Sahib, gave a mubahala challenge of historical significance to those ulema of the present times who are the leading enemies of Ahmadiyyat and foremost amongst those who consider Hazrat Mirza Sahibas deceitful and false and are counted amongst the leaders of those who accuse him of being a liar. It is not our purpose to mention here the details of this mubahala. Precisely we would suffice to say that by this challenge, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Jamma'at drew the attention of the leading enemies of Ahmadiyyat who are vehemently engaged in false propaganda against Ahmadiyyat and are disseminating fabricated accusations against Ahmadiyyat. The Head of the Ahmadiyya community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Sahib, said:
I, therefore, as the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jamam'at by virtue of this writing hereby announce that if you are true in your accusations and fear God, then without any hesitation come forward and join me in this prayer of mubahala that 'May the curse of Allah be on the liars'.
In this mubahala challenge, some of the leading enemies of Ahmadiyyat and some editors of the opposition newspapers were named individually. At the top of the list of the enemies of Ahmadiyyat was the name of then President of Pakistan, General Zia ul Haq Sahib. Moreover, a list of false accusations was also included in the mubahala script, especially mentioning the accusation that Mira Tahir Ahmad and Jama'at Ahmadiyya conspired in the assassination of a Maulana by the name of Aslam Qureshi.

It is not necessary either to go into details of how the ulema reacted to the mubahala challenge of 10th June 1988. Almost every day announcements from the ulema published in the newspapers are seen by the public and the public is well aware of their intentions. There are, however, two very significant matters connected with the latest publicity campaign of the ulema which must be mentioned here briefly.

One month after the mubahala challenge the supposed victim of the atrocities of Mirza Tahir Ahmad Sahib and the Ahmadiyya Jama'at, the assassinated Aslam Qureshi Sahib reappeared alive and well and thus throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan the public was duly enlightened that at least in this accusation the mullahs turned out to be complete liars. The ulema, naturally, were terribly disconcerted by this and in order to divert the minds of the public they attempted to cover up their discomposure by engaging in a narration of their own of Maulana Sanaullah Sahib Amratsari's mubahala.

Not long after that, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jama'at, announced in very clear words that even if General Zia ul Haq Sahib does not declare the acceptance of the mubahala challenge openly, his silence will be taken as his consent, provided he continues with his acts of cruelty and atrocity against the Ahmadis and does not repent.

After giving Zia ul Haq Sahib some time to respond, when it became evident that there was a surge in the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan and besides the former reasons, the distributing of mubahala notifications was taken as a reason to round up hundreds of Ahmadis, torture and convict them and crush them into jails. The Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jama'at, at last, in his Friday sermon of 12th August 1988, in very clear words, announced that because general Zia Sahib by virtue of his conduct accepted the mubahala challenge and instead of turning away from the acts of cruelty precipitated in them, he cannot, therefore, under any circumstances, escape the wrath of God Almighty and the decreed afflictions of mubahala will definitely strike him.

Just a few days after that sermon of 12th August 1988, General Zia ul Haq, together with some of his key military colleagues, the American Ambassador and the CIA representative in Pakistan perished in a horrifying air crash.

As a result of the vindication of these two incidents, one after the other, the ulema opposed to Ahmadiyyat were flabbergasted and in order to overcome their humiliation and divert the attention of the public elsewhere, they, with greater enthusiasm then ever before, vehemently engaged in publicizing the mubahala between the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Jama'at, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahibas, Qadiani, and Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib.