P R E F A C E
In the name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful
Towards the end of December 1957, and in the beginning of January 1958, an International Islamic Colloquium was held in Lahore under the auspices of the Punjab University in which a large number of distinguished and noted scholars of the Muslim world and Western countries took part. Quite a few outstanding ulama representing Middle Eastern countries were there. Despite having received an invitation to participate the writer was unable to reach Lahore until after the colloquium had ended. The points that had been raised during the colloquium continued to be debated by many people.
The scholars who had come from Egypt, Syria and Iraq to participate in the conference showed considerable keenness to collect correct information about the fundamental beliefs and doctrines of Qadianism, the well-known religious movement of India and Pakistan. This curiosity on their part was justified and natural. For, it was in this part of the world that Qadianism was born and developed. Hence, from here alone authentic material and information could be procured. The Pakistani and Indian friends of these guests felt the existence of a serious lacuna: the absence of any book on the subject in present-day Arabic, which could be presented to them. It was owing to this feeling that when the writer reached Lahore. He was instructed by his spiritual teacher and guide, Hazrat Maulana ‘Abdul Qadir Raipuri, to write a book on this subject in Arabic.
During his trips to the Middle East and his stay in Egypt and Syria, the writer had himself had felt the need of such a work, but the subject had failed to capture his imagination. The subject was on the whole, out of tune with his temperament. Despite his repeated efforts, the writer did not succeed in forcing himself to study any of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s writings. Hence, when he undertook the task, he had little familiarity with the subject. But the request had been made from a personage, the compliance of whose wish was a matter of deepest spiritual satisfaction to the writer, and this enabled him to devote himself to a. thorough study of Qadianism. Within a few days the room where the writer was staying at Lahore changed into a full-fledged library on Qadianism. The work then started in earnest and for one month the writer remained so deeply immersed in the subject that he lost almost all touch with the outside world and bad his mind free for no other subject.
The writer’s mental framework being that of a student of history, he launched upon his intellectual journey from the very beginning of the movement surveying every stage in its progress and development. The writer’s observations, therefore, moved along the lines through which Qadianism had passed during its course of development. This approach helped the writer to grasp the real nature of the Qadiani movement, its gradual evolution, and its motivating factors. This approach uncovered a number of aspects which might have remained hidden otherwise. The writer delved deep into the writings of the founder of this movement, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, and it is through this first hand source that he has tried to arrive at unprejudiced conclusions, trying to maintain the detachment of a historian in respect of the message, the movement, and the practical achievements of Qadianism. The result of this study has been published in the form of al-Qadiyani wa al-Qadiyaniyah in Arabic.
After the book had been prepared, Hazrat Maulana ‘Abdul Qadir ordered its translation into Urdu. Since actual excerpts in Urdu were required for the Urdu edition, an entire library of books available only in Lahore was required once again. Another trip was made as a result of which this book was rendered into Urdu. This Urdu edition could better be regarded as an independent work because a number of valuable additions and modifications have been made during the process of its preparation. For some time literature on controversial religious subjects has had a peculiar language and style, so much so that this language and style have come to be regarded as part and parcel of religious writings. This writer has not considered himself bound by this polemical tradition. This book has been written with historical objectivity rather than the bigoted zeal of a debater. This will perhaps disappoint those who have been used to polemical writings. For this the writer offers no apology. The class of people for whom it has been written and the purpose which actuated its writing did not warrant any other style of expression.
The writer thanks all those friends and well-wishers who have been a source of guidance in the study of the subject, who provided him with the material needed for writing this book and for facilitating the completion of the work. If this book serves Islam in any way, all such people share its reward.
The writer wishes to impress on his readers one thing: wisdom requires that a person should refrain from risking even as trivial a thing as one’s monetary savings and should be careful in choosing the people to whom such things should be entrusted. If wisdom demands such precaution in worldly affairs, it should not be difficult to guess what a tremendous amount of precaution should be exercised in the matter of faith on which depends a person’s salvation and his felicity in the eternal life of the Hereafter. It is evident that in such a matter one should exercise extreme precaution; one should try to use one’s discretion to the utmost, and to divest oneself of all emotional predilections, worldly attachments and material interests. This book, through its authentic and systematically arranged information obtained from the statements and writings of the founder of Qadianism himself and through authentic historical information about the movement, can prove of help to many a person to arrive at an intelligent appreciation of Qadianism.
11, Rabi al-Awwal, 1378 S. ABUL HASAN ALI NADWI
Part I – The Historical Background of the Rise of Qadianism
The nineteenth century is a period of unique importance in modern history. It is the century in which intellectual unrest and various kinds of conflicts and tensions reached the climax in the Muslim world. India was one of the main centres of this unrest and tension. Here the conflicts and tensions between the Western and the Eastern cultures, between the old and the new systems of education, in fact, between the old and the new world views, and between Islam and Christianity were mounting. The forces concerned were locked in a fierce struggle for survival.
The movement began at a time when the well-known struggle of 1857 for the country’s independence had been suppressed. This had shocked the Muslims to the core; their hearts were bleeding, and their minds paralysed. They were confronted with the danger of double enslavement: political as well as cultural. On the one hand, the victorious power, the British had launched upon a vigorous campaign to spread a new culture and civilization in India. On the other hand, the Christian missionaries were scattered all over India bent upon active proselytisation. To be able to shake the confidence of Muslims in their own beliefs and to make them skeptical as to the bases of the Islamic Shariah, even though they might not be converted to Christianity, was deemed by them an important enough achievement. The new generations of Muslims, which had not been thoroughly grounded in Islam, were their main target. The schools and colleges which were introduced along the foreign pattern were the main fields of their activity directed at spreading intellectual confusion. The efforts were not altogether unsuccessful and even, incidents of conversion to Christianity began to take place in India. But the main danger of that period was not apostasy (in the sense of ostensible conversion from Islam to Christianity), but skepticism and atheism. Religious debates between Muslim ulama and Christian missionaries took place frequently, leading in general to the victory of the ulama of Islam. This established the intellectual superiority and greater vitality of Islam as against Christianity. Nevertheless, intellectual unrest, skepticism, and weakness of faith grew apace.
This was one aspect of the situation: the situation vis-a-vis the external menace. Looked at internally, the situation was even worse. Mutual disagreements between Muslim sects had assumed frightful proportions. Each sect was busy denouncing the other. Sectarian polemics were the order of the day, leading often to violent clashes, even to bloodshed and litigation over controversial sectarian issues. The whole of India was in the grip of what might be termed a sectarian civil war. This too had given birth to mental confusion and created breaches in the Muslim society and disgust in the people and had considerably damaged the prestige of the Muslim ulama and of Islam.
On the other hand, immature sufis and ignorant pretenders of spiritual excellence had reduced the Sufi orders to a plaything. They gave wide publicity to their trance utterances and inspired pronouncements. One found people everywhere making overly extravagant claims and going about proclaiming their ability to perform astounding miracles and to receive messages from on High. The result of all this was that the Muslim masses had developed an uncommon relish for things esoteric, for miracles, for supernatural performances, for inspired dreams and prophesies. The more a person had to offer people by way of these things, the greater was his popularity. Such people used to become the centre of popular veneration. Hypocritical darvishes and cunning traders of religion took full advantage of the situation. People had developed such a liking for esoterics that they were readily prepared to accept every new fantasy, to support every new movement and to believe in every esoteric claim, however baseless and imaginary. Muslims were generally in the grip of frustration and had fallen prey to defeatism. The failure of the struggle of 1857 and of a number of other recent religious and militant movements was fresh in their memory. Many of them had despaired, therefore, of bringing about any change and reform through normal processes and a large number of people had begun to await the advent of some charismatic personality, some divinely appointed leader. At places one heard that at the turn of the century the Promised Messiah would make his appearance. In religious gatherings people commonly referred to the numerous forms of misguidance and evil which were to appear on the eve of the Doomsday. Prophesies and esoteric statements such as those of Shah Niamat Ullah Kashmiri helped people to forget the bitterness of the current situation and strengthened their morale. Dreams, prophesies and other esoteric pronouncements had magnetic appeal and kept their spirits high.
The province of Punjab, in particular, was the centre of mental confusion and unrest, superstitions and religious ignorance. This province bad suffered for eighty years under the yoke of the Sikh Raj, an overbearing military tyranny. During this period the religious belief and devotion of Muslims had weakened considerably. True Islamic education had been almost non-existent for long. The foundations of Islamic life and Islamic society had been shaken. Their minds were seriously in the grip of confusion and perplexity. In brief, to borrow the words of Iqbal:
The Khalsa (Sikhs) took away both the Qur’an and the sword,
In their realm, Islam was just dead.
This situation had paved the ground in the Punjab for the rise of a new religious – movement based on novel interpretations and esoteric doctrines. The temperament of a good number of people of the region where this movement arose has been portrayed by Iqbal in these words:
In religion, he is fond of the latest,
He stays not for long at a place; he keeps on moving;
In learning and research he does not participate,
But to the game of Mentors and Disciples, he readily succumbs;
If the trap of explanation anyone lays,
He walks into it quickly from the branch of his nest.
It was towards the end of the nineteenth century that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad appeared on the scene with his unique message and movement. For the spread of his message and for the fulfillment of his ambitions, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad found a fertile ground and a congenial period of time. He had numerous factors to his advantage: the general unrest in the minds of people, the exotic loving temperament of the people, the general despair with regard to the efficacy of moderate and normal means of reform and revolution, the decline in the prestige of and confidence in the ulama, the popularity of religious debates which had vulgarised the religious curiosities and propensities of the people and made them, to a large extent, free-thinkers. Furthermore, the British rulers (who had had a bitter experience with Mujahidin movement in Sudan and elsewhere and felt, therefore, considerable consternation for the spirit of jihad and the religious enthusiasm of Muslims), warmly welcomed this new religious movement, which pledged loyalty to the British government and even made this loyalty an article of faith and whose founder had had a long and close association with the government. All these factors provided the congenial atmosphere in which Qadianism came into existence, won converts and developed into an independent sect and religion.
(This chapter purporting to lay down the biographical outlines of the founder’s life is based chiefly on the statements and writings of the Mirza himself, supplemented by the work of his son Mirza Bashir Ahmed, Sirat al-Mahdi, and other standard works of the Qadianis.)
Genealogically Mirza Ghulam Ahmad belonged to the Barlas branch of the Moghuls. (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Kilab al-Bariyah, p. 134 n.) But after some time he came to know by means of ‘inspiration’ that he was, in fact, of Persian origin. To quote his own words:
“The revelation (ilham) about me is that: Were it that faith was hanging from the Pleiades it would still have been seized by the man from Persia. (This tradition occurs in the Sihah with a little variation of words. In some reports there occurs the phrase ‘Rijal Min Faras’ (men from Persia) instead of Rajul (a man). The ulama and the mujahiddin interpret this hadith to refer to Salman al-Farisi and other ulama and holy men of Persia famous for their devotion and service to the cause of faith including the Imam Abu Hanifa, who was also of Persian origin. ) And then, there is also a third revelation about me: Verily, those who disbelieved the man from Persia disproved their religions. God is thankful for his endeavour. All these ‘revelations’ show that our forefathers were Persian. And the truth is what Allah has made manifest.” (Kitab at-Bariyah, p. 135 n.)
In one of his works he writes:
“It should be remembered that apparently the family of this humble one is that of the Moghuls. No record has been seen in the history of our family showing that the family was Persian. What has been seen in certain records is that some of our grandmothers were of noble and noted Sayyid families. Now it has come to be known through the word of God that ours is a Persian family. We believe in this with all our conviction since the reality, in respect of genealogies, is known to none the way it is known to Allah, the Exalted. It is His knowledge alone which is true and sure and that of all others, doubtful and conjectural.” (Arabain, Vol. 11, p. 17 n.)
Mirza Gul Mohammad, the great grandfather of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad owned considerable property. In Punjab, he had a good-sized estate. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had mentioned in detail the “aristocratic pomp and splendour of this ancestor of his, his habit to feed a large number of people at his table, and his religious influence.” (Kitab al-Bariyah, pp. 136-42 n.)
After his death, his estate declined and the Sikhs confiscated the villages of that estate. This decline continued to such an extent that no other land remained in the ownership of his grandfather; Mirza Ata Mohammad, except Qadian. Later on, the Sikhs occupied even that and drove the Mirza’s family out of Qadian. During the last years of Ranjit Singh’s rule, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, the father of the Mirza Ghulam, returned to Qadian and the Mirza later received five villages out of the landed property of his father. (ibid, pp. 142-44 n.)
The Mirza ‘s family maintained very loyal and cordial relations with the recently established British power in the Punjab. Several members of the family had shown great enthusiasm in consolidating the new government and had come to its rescue on several critical occasions. To cite the words of the Mirza himself:
“I come from a family which is out and out loyal to this government. My father, Murtaza, who was considered its well-wisher, used to be granted a chair in the Governor’s Durbar and has been mentioned by Mr. Griffin in his History of the Princes of Punjab. In 1857, he helped the British Government beyond his power, that is, he procured cavaliers and horses right during the time of Mutiny. He was considered by the Government to be its loyal supporter and well-wisher. A number of testimonials of appreciation received by him from the officers have unfortunately been lost. Copies of three of them, however, which had been published a long time ago, are reproduced on the margin. Then, after the death of my grandfather, my elder brother Mirza Ghulam Qadir continually occupied himself with service to the Government and when the evil-doers encountered the forces of the British Government on the highway of Tammun, he participated in the battle on the side of the British Government.”‘ (Web Site Editor Reference: Kitab-ul-Barriah, Roohany Khazaen, Vol. 13, P. 4, 5, 6, 7)
Birth, Education, Upbringing
The Mirza was born during the last phase of the Sikh rule in the year 1839 or 1840 at Qadian in Gurdaspur District. His own writings show that at the time of the struggle of Independence, in 1857, he was “sixteen or seventeen years old.” (Kitab al-Bariyah, p. 146, n). Mirza Bashjruddin Mahmood in his Address to the British Crown Prince in 1922, has mentioned the year of his father’s birth to be 1837 (p. 35). According to this, in 1857, his age would be 21. This alteration seems to have been made in order to vindicate the Mirza’s prophecy which has been mentioned by him as a Divine inspiration in the following words: “We shall cause you to live a good life for eighty years or close to that” (vide Arabain, Vol. 111, p. 39).
The Mirza received his education up to the Middle Class at home. He studied books on Grammar, Logic and Philosophy under the guidance of Maulavi Fazl-i-Ilahi, Maulavi Fazl-i- Ahmad and Maulavi Gul ‘Ali Shah. He studied Medicine from his father, who was an experienced physician. During his student life, the Mirza was very studious. To quote his own words:
“During those days I was so thoroughly engrossed in books as if I was not present in the world. My father used to instruct me repeatedly to curtail my reading, for, out of sympathy for me he feared that this might affect my health.”
This, however, did not continue for long. Under the insistent pressure of his father, the Mirza had to engage himself in the endeavour to get back his ancestral landed property which subsequently led to litigation in law courts. He writes:
“I feel sorry that a lot of my valuable time was spent in these squabbles and at the same time my respected father made me supervise the affair of landlordship. I was not a man of this nature and temperament.”
The Mirza later took employment with the Deputy Commissioner of Sialkot for a small salary. He remained for four years in this service, that is, from 1864 to 1868.1 During this period he also read one or two, books of. English. More over, he also took the examination of Mukhtar but flopped. In 1868, he resigned this job and came to Qadian and began to look after his landed property. But most of his time was spent on reflecting on the Holy Quran and studying works of Tafsir and Traditions.
From his very childhood, the Mirza was very simple. He was unaware of worldly matters and appeared to be a little absent-minded. He did not even know how to wind a watch. “When he had to know time, he took out the watch from his pocket and began to count, starting from one. And even then, while he counted with his finger he also kept on counting the figures aloud lest he should forget.” He could not just look at the watch and find out what time it was. Due to absent-mindedness, it was difficult for him to differentiate between the shoes of the left and the right feet. Mirza Bashir Ahmad writes:
“Once some one brought for him gurgabi (a kind of shoes used in Punjab). He put them on, but could not distinguish between the right and the left. Often he used to wear them on the wrong feet, and then feel uncomfortable. Sometimes when he would be hurt by the use of the wrong shoe, he would get irritated and say that nothing of those people was good. Mother said that she had inscribed signs indicating right and left on the shoes for the sake of his convenience and yet, he used to put the shoes on the wrong feet. Hence she later removed the signs.” (Web Site Editor References: Seerat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, P. 180 and Seerat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, P. 67)
Due to very frequent micturition the Mirza used to keep earthen-marbles in his pockets. He also carried Jumps Of gur for he was excessively fond of sweets.
Mirza’s Physical Health
In his youth, the Mirza was so afflicted with hysteria that sometimes he used to fall down unconscious, as a result of hysteric fits. The Mirza used to interpret these fits variously as hysteric and melancholia. He also suffered from diabetes and copious urination. Mentioning at one place that “I am a permanently sick person,” he adds:
“Headache and giddiness and insomnia and palpitation of the heart come by fits and the lingering ailment in the lower part of my body is that of diabetes. Often I urinate up to a hundred times during the day or night. And all the other disorders of debility and exhaustion, which are the natural results of such excessive urination, have also fallen to my lot.”
In his youth, the Mirza engaged himself in vigorous spiritual exercises and courses of rigid self-discipline. He also fasted continuously for long periods of time. In one of his long spells of spiritual exertion, he fasted continuously for six months. In 1886, he passed another period of exclusive worship and prayer at Hoshiarpur. Later on, due to ill health and debility, he had to give these up. On March 31, 1891, he wrote to Nuruddin: “Now my health can no longer bear the rigours of supererogatory devotion and even a little bit of severe devotion and meditation or contemplation causes illness.” (Web Site Editor Reference: Maktoobat-e-Ahmadiya, Vol. 5, No. 2, P. 103, dated March 31, 1891)
The Mirza began his life in ordinary circumstances: a life of hardship and poverty. But as his mission spread and he became the spiritual head of a prosperous sect, he grew prosperous and began to lead a comfortable life. He, too, was conscious of this change in his state: the ostensible difference between his earlier and later periods of life. In 1907 he wrote:
“Our living and our well-being had depended solely on the meager income of out father. Among outsiders, none knew me. I was an unknown person, living in the desolate village of Qadian, lying in a corner of anonymity. Then, God, according to His prophecy, turned a whole world towards me and helped us by such continuous victories that I have no words to express my thanks. Considering my own position, I did not hope to receive even ten rupees a month. But the Exalted Allah, who raises the poor from dust and brings the arrogant down to the earth, helped me to such an extent that up till now I have received about three hundred thousand rupees or, may be, even more.” (Web Site Editor Reference: Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, Roohany Khazaen, Vol. 22, P. 220-221; Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, P. 211-212)
In the footnote, he adds:
“Although thousands of rupees have come by means of money orders, yet more have been passed on to me directly by sincere friends as gifts, or in the shape of currency notes enclosed with letters. Some sincere people have sent currency notes or gold anonymously and I do not even know what their names are.”
Marriage and Children
The Mirza’s first marriage took place in 1852 or 1853 with one of his own relatives. This wife gave birth to two sons: Mirza Sultan Ahmad and Mirza Fazal Ahmad. In 1891, he divorced the lady. In 1884, he took another wife, the daughter of Nawab Nasir of Delhi. The rest of the offsprings of the Mirza were all from this wife. Three sons were born from her Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood, Mirza Bashir Ahmad (author of Sirat al-Mahdi) and Mirza Sharif Ahmad.
When in 1891 the Mirza declared that be was the Promised Messiah and, later on in 1910, that he was a prophet of God, the Muslim ulama began to refute and oppose him. Among those prominent in opposing him was Maulana Sana ullah Amritsari, the editor of Ahl-i-Hadith. On April 5, 1907, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad issued an announcement in which, while addressing the Maulana, he wrote:
“If I am such a big liar and impostor as you portray me in each issue of your magazine, then I will die in your life-time, for I know that the lifespan of a mischief maker and liar is not very long and ultimately he dies an unsuccessful man, during the life of his greatest enemies and in a state of humiliation and grief. And if I am not a liar and impostor and have been honoured by God’s communication and address to me, and if I am the Promised Messiah, then I hope that, with the grace of God and in accordance with God’s practice, you will not escape the punishment of the rejecters (of Truth). Thus, if that punishment which is not in man’s but in God’s hand, that is, fatal diseases like plague and cholera, do not afflict you during My life-time3 then I am not from God.” (Web Site Editor Reference: Badr, April 15, 1907)
One year after the publication of this announcement, on May 25,1908, the Mirza fell ill, being afflicted with diarrhea at Lahore. Along with loose motions, he also had vomiting. He was put under treatment at once, but weakness increased and his condition became critical. The next day, on May 26, he breathed his last in the forenoon. About his death his father-in-law Mir Nisar Nawab has stated:
“The night on which Hazrat Mirza Sahib fell ill, I was asleep at my place. When he felt very uncomfortable, I was awakened. When I went to Hazrat Sahib he addressed me and said, ‘Mir Sahib I am ill with cholera’. After this, in my opinion, he did not speak a clear word till he died the next day after ten o’clock.” ( Hayat-i-.Nasir, P. 14, ed. Shaykh Yaqnb Ali Irfani.)
The dead. body was carried to Qadian. On May 27, 1908 the burial took place and Hakim Nuruddin became his successor, the first Khalifah of the Qadiani movement.
Hakim (Hakim means a physician practicing the traditional system of Greek-Arabian medicine (Translator)) Nuruddin Bhairawl occupies a position of unique importance in the history of Qadianism, second only to that of its founder. In fact, some observers are of the view that the said Hakim was the real brain behind the movement, that the intellectual currents of this movement sprang from his mind.
Birth and Early Education
Hakim Nuruddin was born in 1258 A.H. (1841 A.D.) in Bhaira, District Sargodha (Punjab). (These are based on Akbar Shah Khan Najibabidi’s Mirqt al-raqzn Hayat Nuruddin. Najibabadi was a pupil of the Hakim. These biographical details were related to him by the Hakim himself at the time when Najibabadi was his student as well as a devout follower.) Thus in 1857, he was 16 years of age, and was younger than the Mirza by just one or two years. His father, Hafiz Ghulam Rasul, was an imam in a mosque in Bhaira, and was a Faruqi by lineage.
The Hakim’s early education took place in his home-village. He read the books on Fiqah in Punjabi language under the guidance of his mother. Then he went to Lahore. He was taught Persian by Munshi Qasim Kashmiri and learnt calligraphy from Mirza Irhim Dayrawi. But neither of the two attracted him. Both his teachers were Shias. In 1272 A. H. aka 1855 A. D., he returned home and remained for some time studying under Mir Haji Sharfuddin. It is around this time that he began to learn the Arabic language systematically.
Under the influence of a bookseller who belonged to the movement of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid, there arose in him the urge to translate the Holy Qur’an, and he anxiously read Taqwiyatul Iman and Mashziriq-al-Anwar. A little later, he returned to Lahore and acquired some knowledge of Medicine. While his education was at a very advanced stage, he took employment with the Normal School, Rawalpindi. There he taught Persian and at the same time learned Arithmetic and Geography from another teacher. After passing a tahsil examination, he became headmaster in Pindi Dandan Khan and once more resumed the study of Arabic. After four years, he ceased to remain in service and began to devote all his time to his own studies. For some time, he studied under Maulavi Ahmaduddin (who was known as Buggiwale Qazi Sahib). Then, his love for knowledge made him travel to several parts of India. In Rampur, he resumed his studies, studied Mishkat-al-Masbih under Maulana Hasan Shah, Sharah-i-Wiqayah under Maulavi Azizullah Afgbani, Usul of al-Shashi and Maibazi under Maulina Irshid Husain; the Diwan of al-Mutanabbi under Maulavi Sa’dullah; Sadra, etc., under Maulavi ‘Abd al-‘Ali, and the higher books on Logic like Mir Zahid Riaalah and Mir Zahid Mulla falal, half-heartedly. At this time, he enthusiastically supported Isma’il Shahid and sometimes used to speak to his teachers with great boldness. From Rampur, he moved to Lucknow and began to study medicine under a famous physician, Hak-im ‘Ali Husain. When ‘Ali Husain went to Rampur on invitation from Nawab Kalb-i-Ali Khan of Rampur, Nuruddin accompanied him. During his stay in Rampur he further studied literature under Mufti Sa’dullab. On the whole he remained with Hakim ‘Ali Husain for a period of two years and then went to Bhopal to complete his education in Arabic and to study Hadith. Bhopal, in those days, had become a great centre of learning. The Governmental patronage of knowledge and learning had attracted a good number of scholars. In Bhopal, he stayed with and was patronised by Munshi jamaluddin Khan, the Chief Minister. During his stay, Nuruddin took lessons in Bukhari and Hidayah from Maulina Abdul Qayyum (the son of Maulana Abdul Hal Burhanwat, who was a Khalifah of Hazrat Sayyid Ahmad Shahid). From Bhopal he went on a visit to the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina, to complete his education and also in order to attain other worldly felicity’ ( An interesting anecdote is related in this connection, which was narrated by Nuruddin himself. While leaving for the Holy cities, he asked Maulana Abdul Qayyum to tender him some advice. He said, “Never become God or Prophet.” Abdul Qayyum explained that by ‘not becoming God’ what he had meant was that, if any of his desires were frustrated, he should not feel greatly dejected, for to be able to do what one likes is the attribute of God alone; by ‘not becoming the Prophet’ he meant that if people rejected his fatwas, he should not deem them to be condemned to hell, for it is the disobedience of the Prophet alone which condemns one to hell (Mirqat al-yaqin, p. 79).
In Mecca, he studied Abu Da’ud under Shaykh Muhammad Khazraji, Sahih Muslim under Sayyid Husain and began to study Musallam al-Thuhut under Maulana Rahmatullah Kayranawl, the author of Izhar al-Haqq. Sometimes, he had heated discussion with his teachers and showed trends towards non-conformity and exaggerated confidence in the soundness of his own views and intelligence. (Mirqat at-laqin p. 95-97.)
At Mecca, be finished his study of Abu Daud and Ibn Majah under Shaykh Muhammad Khazraji. In the meantime Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi had arrived in Mecca. Later on, when Shah Mujaddidi returned to Medina, the Hakim joined him and after taking an oath of allegiance to him remained as his student for six months.
After pilgrimage and visit to the Holy places, Nuruddin returned to his native place, Bhaira and stayed there for some time. During his stay he debated with people – as to whether the current customs and usages conformed to the teachings embodied, in the collections of Hadith; this turned some people against him. This led him to realise the ignorance and stagnation of the common people and his own superiority and intellectual excellence. He also went to Delhi during the Durbar of Lord Lytton and there met Munshi jamaluddin Khan, the Chief Minister of Bhopal, who brought him to Bhopal. After a short stay at Bhopal, Nuruddin once more went back to Bhaira and began practising medicine there. Soon his reputation as a successful physician spread and he was invited by the Maharaja of Jammu to serve him as his personal physician. For a considerable period of time he served the ruler of Jammu, Poonch and kashmir and gained considerable influence there by dint of his ability as a physician, and his eloquence, knowledge and wit. He had become a very close confidant of the Maharaja and, thus, quite powerful.
An Ardent Follower of Mirza
There were many similarities of character and temperament between Hakim Nuruddin and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It is difficult to say how they came into contact with each other. Their first meeting, however, took place at Qadian in 1885. When the Mirza wrote Bardhin-i-Ahmadiya, Nuruddin wrote a book supporting it. His admiration for the Mirza increased so much so that he took an oath of allegiance at his hands and accepted him as his spiritual guide, his leader, and pledged to follow him. The following letter of Nuruddin shows the depth of his Attachment to the Mirza.
“My master, my guide, my leader: Assalam-o-Alaykum wa Rahmat ullah,
It is my prayer to be ever present before you and to learn from you all that for which the Imam of the age has been made the Mujaddid. If it is permitted, I would resign my job and spend day and night in your exalted service; or, if it is ordered, I would give up my present engagements and go around the whole world, summoning people towards the true religion and would lay down my life in this cause. I am a martyr in your cause: whatever I have is not mine; it is yours. Respected guide and mentor, with utmost sincerity I say that -if all my wealth and belongings are sacrificed in the cause of religious preaching, I will have achieved my purpose. If the buyers of Barahin in advance are uneasy at the delay in the publication of the book, please permit me to render the humble service of paying them all their dues from my pocket.
“Respected pir and guide: this worthless one, ashamed of himself, says that if this offer is accepted it would be a pleasure for him. What I mean is that I may be permitted to bear the entire cost of printing Barahin and that what- ever proceeds there might be from its sale, should be spent on your needs. My relationship with you is the same as that of Faruq (with the, Prophet) and I am prepared to sacrifice all in this path. Please pray that the end of my life be like that of Siddiqs (the truthful ones).”
Nuruddin’s faith in the Mirza was very deep indeed. It so happened that when the Mirza wrote Fath-i-Islam and Tawdih al-Maram someone asked Nuruddih, before he had seen these books, if any other Prophet could come after the Holy Prophet. “No”, he replied. “And if someone claims to be a Prophet?” he was asked. ‘Nuruddin replied that if someone did claim so, it would be seen whether he was truthful or not; and that his claim would be accepted if he was truthful. After narrating this incident, Nuruddin himself adds:
“This was just the case of prophetbood. My faith is that even if the Promised Messiah were to proclaim himself to be the bearer of, a Shariah and abrogate the Quranic Shariah, I will not reject that claim. For, when we have accepted him (i.e. the Mirza) to be truthful and to have been commissioned by God, then whatever he will say will ‘Of necessity be true and we will have to think that the (Quranic) verse in respect of Khatim at yin (the last of the Prophets) has a different meaning.” (Sirat al-Makd;, pp. 96-99.)
During Disassociation with the Court of Jammu, Nuruddin wrote Fasl-ul-Khitab in four volumes under the guidance of the Mirza in which he refuted Christianity. He kept on contributing very magnanimously to the publication of the works of the Mirza and quite often the Mirza took large sums of money as loans from him and praised him for his religious enthusiasm his readiness to help the religious cause and his large hearted generosity. The famous couplet of the Mirza about Nuruddin is:
“How good would it be, were every one – in the Ummat a Nuruddin;
That would be so, if the light of faith burnt in the heart of everyone.”
For several reasons, particularly , the intrigues of the courtiers, the Maharaja’s attitude towards Nuruddin subsequently changed. In 1893 or 1894, his service with the Maharaja was terminated and Nuruddin returned to Bhaira. After a brief stay and practice of medicine there he moved to Qadian permanently and dedicated his life to supporting the Mirza and spreading his movement.
Accession to Khilafat
On the Mirza’s death on May 26, 1908, he became his first Khalifah. The followers of the Mirza paid their allegiance to him and be was proclaimed to be the “Khalifah of the Promised Messiah”, and “Nuruddin the Great.” For quite some time Nuruddin remained hesitant whether he should consider those who did not believe in the Mirza’s prophethood to be unbelievers. Later, he was converted to the view that they were unbelievers. There was some controversy about his nomination as the Khalifah. Some people strongly opposed it. On one such occasion he said:
“I say by God that it is God Himself who had made me the Khalifah. So, who now has the power to snatch from me the robe (literally the covering sheet) of this Caliphate? It was the Will of God Himself and was in the light of His Own wise consideration to make me your Imam and Khalifah. You can attribute to me a thousand shortcomings. They, in fact, will be attributable not to me, but to God Himself who appointed me the Khatifah.” (Review of Religions, Qadian, V61.14 No 6, p. 234″(cited from Ilyas Barni’s Qadiyani Mazhab).)
On another occasion he said:
“God has made me the Khalifah. Now, neither can I be dismissed (from Caliphate) by your biddance nor has anyone the power to remove me. If you force me any further, bear in mind that I have at my disposal many Khalid bin Walid who will punish you as (Khalid bin Waild had punished) the apostates. ( Tashkhiz at-Azhan, Vol. 9 No. 11 cited by Barni. )
Nuruddin remained the Khalifah of the Qadiani movement for six years. On March 13, 1914, he fell from a horse and died. A few days before his death, his tongue had ceased to functional. (The Daily Al-Fadhl, Qadian, 23 Februlry, 1932, (cited from Qadiani Mazhab)) He nominated Mirza Basbiruddin Mahmood, the eldest son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to be his successor and Khalifah.
A study of Nuruddin’s life shows that he possessed a mercurial nature and remained a prey to mental conflicts during the greater period of his life. From the very beginning he had a bent towards “free-thinking”. First of all, he freed himself from the bonds of the four Muslim schools of jurisprudence and carried his non-conformism to an extreme. Then he came under the influence of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s literature and assimilated his way of thinking. This was the time when some elementary knowledge of physical sciences was finding its way to India and the rationalists among Indian Muslims were becoming deeply impressed by it. Those who had a religious inclination attempted to harmonise Quranic teachings with scientific knowledge. If this harmonisation presented any difficulty, they tried to overcome it by offering far-fetched interpretations of Quranic verse and, the Quranic terminology. Nuruddin’s teaching of Tafsir was, representative of this intellectual trend.” ( A good example of his way of thinking is found in the Tafsir of his pupif Maulavi Muhammad Ali Lahori (His Tafsir is found in English as well as Urdu). )
In Sirat al-Mahdi, Mirza Bashir Ahmad writes:
“In the beginning Hazrat Nuruddin, the first Khalifah, was deeply under the influence of the way of thinking and the work of Sir Sayyid. But, subsequently, due to contact with Hazrat Sahib, this influence gradually wore off.” (Sirat al-mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 159.)
But a study of his ideas as well as those of his disciples makes it evident that either because of the influence of Sir Sayyid’s ideas or because of his own predilection, he remained the same all his life. His mind lead been moulded into a rigid frame and his mental attitudes had become too hardened to change.
A more careful study of his life reveals that along with his enlightenment and rationalism, there was a strong superstitious element in his personality. Despite all his non-conformism and rationalism, he attached great importance to ‘dreams’ and ‘inspirations’. It has been observed that not infrequently people who stand for intellectual freedom, in fact, for intellectual revolt, also have an inherent trait of superstitiousness. Their frame of mind is basically apologetic. Such people keep on raising the banner of revolt all their lives against certain institutions or personalities, but, at the same time, when they submit before someone, their power of free-thinking and independent judgement is totally paralysed. Man’s life is a strange combination of action and reaction; and his personality a complex of divergent, even mutually conflicting elements. Nothing is more difficult to understand and analyse than the driving urges of a man’s personality.
Part II – On the Road to Prophethood
We have covered so far a part of the life of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, his life in his township in district Gurdaspur where we saw him immersed in the study of religious books. His works published after 1880 indicate that the main subjects of his study were different religions, particularly Christianity and Indian religions such as Sanatan Dharma and Arya Samaj.
This period is known for the religious polemics. The educated people of the time had a relish for religious debates and controversies. We have already seen that Christian missionaries were busy propagating Christianity and refuting Islam. The British Government, which was officially the defender or the Christian Faith, patronised these activities, considering India a gift of Jesus Christ. On the other hand were the preachers of the Arya Samaj movement, who were enthusiastically trying to undermine Islam. The British who were aware of the dangerous possibility of inter-communal concord in India, a manifestation of which was the struggle for Indian independence of 1857, found it expedient to encourage religious controversies. The British political interest was served by these controversies in so far as they led to mutual hatred, intellectual bewilderment and moral chaos in the country so that the religious communities of India might be disposed at least to tolerate a government which sought to protect all of them and under whose shadow all could carry on their holy debates. In such an atmosphere, anyone why rose to defend Islam and falsify other religions naturally attracted the attention of all Muslims.
The ambitious and farsighted Mirza chose this field for his adventures. He undertook to produce a voluminous work to demonstrate, on one hand, the truth of Islam, the Divine origin of the Quran, and the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah by rational arguments and, on the other, to refute Christianity, Sangtan Dharma, Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj, etc. He named this book Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah.
The Barghin and the Mirza’s Challenge
The writing of Bardhin started in l879. (Sirat at-Mahdi, Vol. 11, p. 157.) The author undertook to put forward one hundred arguments in support of Islam. In this undertaking, the Mirza also had correspondence with other learned people whom he requested to communicate to him their views to assist him in this venture. Those who complied with his request included Maulavi Chirdghall, who was a noted colleague of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. The Mirza included some of his articles and researches in his work. At long last this work, which was anxiously awaited by hundreds of people, did break into print in four volumes. Along with this book, its author also published an announcement in Urdu and English and sent it to rulers and ministers of States, to Christian clergymen and to Hindu pandits. In this book, the Mirza announced for the first time that he had been appointed by God to demonstrate the truth of Islam and that he was prepared to satisfy the followers of other religions about his religion. The announcement categorically stated: I
“This humble slave (the author of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah) has been appointed by the Glorious Almighty to strive for the reform of God’s creatures and to show to the ignorant the straight path (which leads to true salvation and by following which the light of heavenly existence And of Divine pleasure and graciousness can be experienced even in this world) in the manner of the Israelite Prophet of Nazareth (Messiah) with utmost humility and self-denial, self-abasement and gentleness. It is for this purpose that Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah has been written, of which thirty-seven is to be found in parts have been published. Its summary the announcement enclosed with this letter. But since the publication of the whole book would require a long time, it has been decided that this letter along with the English announcement should be published and one copy of each sent to the honourable priests of Punjab, India and England and other countries , wherever possible.” (Supplement to Barahn-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. I by Merajuddin Umar, p. 82)
The Mirza challenged the world to come forward with any book parallel to this one and invited the representatives of other religions to prove the truth of their religions by the same or even lesser number of arguments than he had put forward. He wrote:
“I, the author of this book, Baraheen-i-Ahmadiyah, make this announcement with the promise to make a reward of 10,000 rupees to the followers of all faiths and religions, who deny the truth of the Glorious Quran and the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (God’s benediction and salutation be on him) and in support of it I commit myself to a formal legal undertaking and a Sharei pledge that, if any of these deniers can show that their scriptures have as many and as sound arguments as found in the Holy Quran and which we have mentioned herein to demonstrate the truth of the Glorious Message and the veracity of the Apostleship of the Khatim-al-Ambiya (God’s benediction and salutation be upon him) which have been derived from the Sacred Book (Quran) itself; or if they cannot come forward with an equal number of arguments, then half, or a third, or a fourth, or fifth of the number of our arguments; or if they find that impossible, then at least to refute our arguments one by one then, in either of these cases, provided three authors accepted by both the parties, unanimously express the view that the condition has been fulfilled in the manner it should have been fulfilled, the announcer (of this announcement) shall hand over to such a respondent without an excuse or hesitation the occupancy and ownership of his property valued at Rs. 10,000. (Barghzn-f-Ahmadiyah, Vol. 1, pp. 17-22.)
The Mirza called upon the Muslims to make monetary contributions to this great service, which he wanted to render to the cause of Islam and to participate in it generously. (See litimis-i-Zarari in Brdhfn, Vol. 1.) It seems that, the response of Muslims to this call was not as enthusiastic as the Mirza had expected. In the later volumes of Barahin, he has mourned their lack of enthusiasms. The announcements which formed the preface of the book are significant. In them, we find some indications of the driving forces of the Mirza’s personality. In them, we notice his habit of boastfulness and self-adulation and his confidence in ‘heavenly signs’ as means of establishing his claims and persuading people. Along with all that, the statements unmistakably smack of his commercial mentality. (Arz-i-Zurrarl ba Halat-i-Majbnri. Brahin, Vol. 1.)
Preaching and Politics
In the third and fourth volumes of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, the Mirza openly praised the British government and enumerated at length its acts of benevolence towards Muslims in the sections entitled, ‘An Important Appeal to Islamic Associations: The Precarious Condition of Muslims and the English Government.’ In this appeal he, urged all Islamic Associations to prepare a joint memorandum and send it to the government with signatures from all prominent Muslims. He also reiterated the services rendered by his family to the British and stressed the impermissibility of jihad.
Thus we find that even the first work of the Mirza was not free from panegyrics to the British government and from political admonitions to the Muslims to remain loyal to the British.
The Magnunx Opus
The Mirza worked on this book from 1880 to 1884. After the publication of the fourth volume there came a long period of gap and the fifth and the last volume appeared in 1905, that is, full twenty-five years after the commencement of the work. In the fifth volume the author mentioned that the publication of the last volume had remained in suspension for twenty-three years. During this period a large number of people who had paid in advance for all the five volumes but had received only four volumes had passed away. Several other people who had paid in advance had expressed their disapproval and resentment at not receiving the promised volume for which the Mirza apologized in the fifth volume. In this volume, he has also mentioned that previously he had in mind to bring forward 300 arguments to prove the truth of Islam, but later he gave up the idea. In the same way, instead of fifty, be would bring out only five volumes. The reason for this change of mind was that the difference between the two figures was merely that of a zero. In his own words:
“Earlier I had thought of writing 50 volumes, but now I have confined myself to writing five since the difference between the figures fifty and five is just that of one dot (that is zero). Thus the promise has been fulfilled by the publication of five volumes.” (Preface of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. V, P. 7.)
In Sirat al-Mahdi, Mirza Bashir Ahmad writes:
“Now that four volumes of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah have come out in print, its preface and notes all relate to the time of publication and it contains very little of the original work, that is, not more than a few pages. This can be gauged from the fact that out of the 300 arguments which he had written the Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah contains only one argument and that too not in a complete form.” (Sirat al-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p.7.)
Anyone who studies Bardhin-i-Ahmadiyah is bound to be impressed by the author’s prolificity, perseverance and diligence. These virtues, at best, could stand him in good stead as a successful debater and an able writer on religious polemics with Christians and Arya Samajis. In this huge work, however, one does not find any worthwhile research. Nor does one find that familiarity with the sources of Christianity, its ancient literature, its doctrines and history, and that grasp of its fundamental concepts as one finds, for example, in the works of Maulana Rahmatuilah Kayranwi (d. 1309 A.H. / 1891 A.D.), the author of lzhar al-Haqq and Izalat al-Awham. Nor does one find that sweetness and elegance of expression, and that originality and brilliance of argument that one finds in works such as those of Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanawatwi’s (d. 1297 A.H./ 1879 A.D.) Taqrlr Dilpizir and -Hujjat al-IsiFim.
Inspirations and Bragging
The reader also frequently encounters in the Mirza’s book references to his Divinely inspired revelations, to miracles and to Divine communications and prophecies, and, last but not the least, his boastfulness. All this leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and transforms the book which claims to embody a sober academic discussion and a dignified religious debate, into a work of personal bragging – a work in which, again and again, the author stoops to self-advertisement and self-glorification.
The central theme of the book is that Divine inspiration had not ceased and should not cease. This inspiration itself is the most powerful proof of the validity of any claim and the truth of religion and faith. Whoever will follow the Holy Prophet perfectly will be endowed with the external and internal knowledge which had been granted originally to the Prophets, and the person will, therefore, become possessed of certain and categorical knowledge. The intuitive knowledge of such people would resemble the knowledge of the Prophets. It is these people who have been called Amthat in Hadith and Siddiq in the Quran. The time of their advent would resemble the time of the advent of the Prophets. It is such people who will establish the truth of Islam and their inspiration will be of a categorical nature. ( Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. 111, 231 and 244.)
In trying to prove the continuity of this inspiration, he cites his own inspirations and writes:
“We have several examples of this inspiration before us. But in the one which, took place just now at the time of writing these notes in March 1882, it has been revealed as a prophecy that through this book and on becoming informed of its contents, the opponents will ultimately be defeated; that seekers after Truth will find true guidance; perversion of belief will be uprooted; and people will help and turn their attention and come around (me) etc., since God will put this into their hearts and direct them to it. (Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. III, p. 238.)
This has been followed by a more recent lengthy inspiration which is almost an entirely incoherent collection of different Quranic verses. This inspiration embraces about forty lines of the Barahin and contains about fifty-three or fifty-four Quranic verses, interspersed with a few Traditions of the Prophet. Besides, there are a few sentences by the Mirza himself which are an example of what might be termed as poor Indianized Arabic. The last lines of the inspiration which contain a comparatively smaller proportion of Quranic verses, read as follows:
“Live in the world like a stranger or traveller. Become one of the righteous and the truthful. Bid whatever is good and forbid whatever is bad and send your salutations to Muhammad and his progeny. Prayer alone brings man up. Verity I will raise thee towards Myself and I have put love from Me (in the hearts of people). There is no god but Allah. So, write and let it be published and sent to the world. Grasp Unity (of God), Unity (of God), O people of Iran and give glad tidings to those who believed that they have a standing with their Lord. And read out to them what has been revealed to thee from thy Lord And do not swell thy face for the creatures of God and do not get tired of people. The people of al-Suffah? And who are the people of al-Suffah? Thou shalt see their eyes wet with tears and they will send their salutations to thee. O Lord of ours! We heard a herald calling towards belief, a sumrnon towards Allah, and a bright lamp. Be of hope!”(Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. 111, p. 242.)
In the same way, an inspiration has been reproduced in the fourth volume of the same book. This inspiration too is an incoherent conglomeration of Quranic verses and Quranic expressions. It also contains some very obvious errors of Arabic language and grammar (which have been indicated by us by question marks):
“And when it is said to them believe as men believed they say: Should we believe as they believe who are stupid? Beware! it is they who are stupid, but they know not, and wish that you should compromise with them (?) Say: Un-believers! I worship not that which you worship. It was said to you: turn to god but you turn not; and it was said to you, subdue your souls, but you subdue them not. Doest thou seek of them any reward that feel burdened (in accepting your message). No, we brought Truth to them (gratuitously) and it is Truth to which they are averse. God is pure and free from whatever they attribute to Him. Do people think that they would be left by merely saying: We believed, and they would not he Put to an trial? These people love to be praised for deeds which they have not performed, while nothing is hidden from God and nothing is good which God does not make good and no one can restore him to His favours who has fallen from His grace.” (Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. IV, P. 509.)
Apart from these revelations in the Arabic language there are two revelations in English as well. (Ibid, pp. 554 and 556.)
Mirza’s beliefs in the Barahin
In the four volumes of Barahin (published 1880-1884), the Mirza expressed merely the view that ilham (Divine inspiration) had not ceased and would not cease, and that the legacy of the Prophets continues in respect of inspired comprehension of things, in respect of the illumination of faith and categorical knowledge. In this book he has also frequently mentioned that be had been commissioned by God to reform the world and spread the message of Islam; that he was mujaddid (renovator) for the present age, and that he bore resemblance to Jesus (peace be on him).” (Sirat at-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 39. ) In this book he also adheres to the notion of the ascension of Jesus to the heaven and that be would return to the earth. In the appendix to his book, Nuzul al-Musih, published in 1902, and in volume V of Barahin, which came out in 1905, the Mirza has admitted that he used to subscribe to the above view and has even expressed his surprise at his having believed in the ascension and return of Jesus. In Barahin he had also strongly rejected the idea of any fresh revelation and of the advent of any new Prophet. The reason for this belief was that the Quran and its teachings were in no danger of being distorted nor was there any danger of Muslims reverting to pre-Islamic ignorance and paganism. On the contrary, he admitted that the attitude of the polytheists, owing to contact with the monotheists is gradually tending towards monotheism. This being the case -that the main dangers which revelation and prophethood seek to avert were no longer real- there was no need for any new Shariah or any fresh ilham (inspiration). This also established the termination of prophethood with the advent of the Holy Prophet:
“Now, since it is rationally impossible and inconceivable that the true teachings of the Glorious Furqan will be distorded or changed, or the darkness of polytheism and worship of God’s creatures would predominate again it is also rationally inconceivable that there should be a new Shariah, or the sending down of a new inspiration (ilham). For, that which leads to impossibility is itself also impossible. Thus, it is proved, that the Holy Prophet was in reality the last of the prophets (Khalim-I-Rusul). (Bardahin, Vol. IV, p. III n.)
Reception of the book
It seems that the book was enthusiastically welcomed in the religious and academic circles of the country. Indeed the publication of this work was very well-timed and the Mirza, as well as his friends, publicised it With great zest. The secret of the success of the book seems to lie in the fact that it challenged other religions and, instead of apologising on behalf of Islam, it took the offensive against them. Noted among those who appreciated and enthusiastically supported this book was Maulana Muhammad Husain Batalawi. In his magazine Isha at al-Sunnah, he wrote a long review eulogising the book in six issues of the magazine. (Vol.Vlll 684 nos., 6-11. ) In this review, the book was lavishly praised and commended as a great academic achievement of the time, a masterpiece of research and authorship. Not much later, the Maulana felt alarmed at the big claims and ‘inspiration’ of the Mirza and, subsequently, became one of his staunch opponents. On the other hand, there were many who were alarmed even by his first book and who began to feel that its author had set himself on a path which would lead him, in the near future, to claim prophethood for himself. Among these farsighted people were the two sons of the late Maulana Abdul Qadir Ludbianawi, Maulana Muhammad and Maulana Abdul ‘Aziz. The Ahi-i-Hidith ‘ulama of Amritsar and some ulama of the Ghaznawi family opposed him from the very beginning and denounced his inspirations as fantasies. (Set isha at al-Sunnah, June, 1884. Vol. Vil, No. 6)
This book brought the Mirza out of obscurity and put him on the stage of public renown, so that countless eyes were turned towards him. In Sirat at-Mahdi, Mirza Bashir Ahmad has aptly observed how this book brought the Mirza to the limelight:
“Before writing Barahin, the Promised Messiah spent a life of anonyirnity and in this isolation his was the life of a darwish. Before Barahin, he had become known to some extent as a result of his having written a series of articles in some newspapers, but all this was very meagre. In fact, it is the announcement of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah which, for the first time and for good, placed him before the country and introduced him to those interested in academic and religious matters. The eyes of the people began to turn in amazement towards this anonymous villager, who had promised to write a great book about the truth of Islam in such a challenging manner and with the promise of a huge sum of money as reward (to any one who could refuse his arguments). Thus the sun of guidance which bad already appeared on the horizon, now began to rise higher. Later the publication of Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah created an extraordinary stir in the religious circles of the country. In general, the Muslims welcomed him as a great ‘Mujaddid’. As for the opponents of Islam, this book came to them as a bombshell and created great turbulence in their camp. (Sirat al-Mohdi, VoL 1, pp. 103-104. )
The Mirza himself says the following about his life before the publication of Barahin:
“This was the time when nobody knew me; when nobody was either in favour of or opposed to me, for, at that time, I was a non-entity; I was just one among the people, hidden in the corner of anonymity. (Tatimmah Haqtqat al-Wahy, pp. 27-28.)
“All the people of this town (i.e. Qadian) and thousands of other people are aware that at this period of time I was in fact, like a dead body which had been buried in the grave for centuries and no one even knew whose grave it was. (lbid, p. 28. )
Debates with Arya Samajis
In 1886, the Mirza had a debate with Murli Dhar of Arya Samij, in Hoshiarpur. He has written a full-fledged book about this debate, Surmah-i-Chashm-i-Arya (Kohl for the eye of the Arya). This is the second of his polemics on religions and religious sects.
The topic of the first day’s debate was the rational and historical proof of the miracle of cleaving the moon. The Mirza not only strongly affirmed this miracle, but the miracles of other prophets as well. He showed that the occurrence of miracles and supernatural incidents was rationally possible.. He took the position that because of the inherent limitations of man’s intellect, knowledge and experience, he bad no right to deny miracles and thus make the claim to comprehend this vast universe in its entirety. He repeatedly stressed that the knowledge of man was very limited and the range of possibilities very wide. (Surma-i-Chashm-i-Arva pp. 557,) (so that the notion that man’s knowledge could be comprehensive was untenable). He also stressed that in religious matters, faith in the unseen was essential and that this was not in conflict with reason, for the latter could not be all comprehensive in its range. In fact, whatever rational objections the Mirza pointed out to the belief regarding the ascension of Jesus to the heavens and his descent in future and his stay in the heaven for several centuries and the so-called ‘rationalist’ trend in his later writings can best be refuted by the arguments that he himself advanced in this book. The personality of the author in this book is quite different from the one in his later writings.
These two books made the Mirza excessively self-appreciative; he became aware of his ability as a writer and debater and became confident that he was capable of initiating a new movement and influencing his environment. It seems that this discovery proved to be the turning-point in his life. Henceforth, instead of debating with Christians and Arya Samajis he turned towards Muslims and began to challenge them to debate with him.
Influence of Nuruddin
We have seen earlier that when Nuruddin was in jammu in connection with his employment, the Mirza was staying in Sialkot, where he was employed in the District Commissioner’s office. The two had a number of things in common: both relished religious controversies and debates and both were ambitious. It seems plausible that each of them was influenced by the other’s personality. Hence, correspondence between them began in 1885. In the collection of the Mirza’s letters, the earliest letter to Nuruddin that we find is dated March 8,1885. This correspondence continued without break and became so intimate as to include family and matrimonial problems. In January 1888, the Mirza undertook a trip to Kashmir in order to meet Nuruddin and stayed with him for a month. The Mirza kept Nuruddin in touch with his inspirations, inspired predictions, and novel pieces of information and research. He even complained to Nuruddin about the opposition of the ulama and the alleged view of some of them that he was not a Muslim. In a letter of July 15, 1890, he wrote to Nuruddin : “And I have heard that these people have begun to call me in hushed tones a kafir. It was known from this that the Exalted Allah wants to show something great.” (Makiiibit-i-Ahmadiyah, Vc)l. V, p. 79.)
Up till then (i.e. 1890), the Mirza had only claimed, that he was a mujaddid and that he had been commissioned by God and , according to Mirza Bashir Ahmad, he continued to say that he had been raised to reform the people in the manner of the Messiah of Nazareth and that he had a certain resemblance to him. (Sirat al-Mahdi, Vol. I, p. 39. ) In the Barahin he expressed the opinion that the absolute predominance of Islam which has been promised in the Quranic verse : ‘It is He who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth to proclaim it over all religions’ would be fulfilled through the Promised Messiah, whose return to the world had been mentioned in the Traditions of the Prophet. As for himself, he merely resembled the Messiah in respect of the first phase of his life, that is, his life on earth. In his own words:
“This, verse (‘It is He who has sent His Apostle’) is a prophecy which, in the physical and political senses refers to the Messiah; and the promise of complete predominance of the religion of Islam, which has been made will be fulfilled through the triumph of the Messiah. And when Hazrat Masih (upon him be peace) will come into this world, Islam will spread all over the world, to all lands. But it has been revealed to this humble one that, in view of his poverty and humility, his trust in God and his sacrifice, and in respect of signs and illuminations, he is an examplar of the first phase of the life of Messiah and that the natures of this humble one and of the Messiah are extremely alike as if they were two pieces of the same substance, two fruits of the same tree; and the similarity goes to such an extent that the distinction is very minor.” (Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. IV, p. 495-98.)
In the life of the Mirza as well as in the history of Qadianism, the year 1891 is very crucial. It is in the beginning of this year that Nuruddin, in one of his letters, advised the Mirza to proclaim himself to be the Promised Messiah. (Although in his letter Nuruddin used the expression Replica of the Messiah, the study of Fath-i-Islam and Izalatal-Awham shows that Replica of. the Messiah and Promised Messiah were treated as synonymous terms and were used by the Mirza interchangeably. To cite an instance) We have not been able to see this letter of Nuruddin, but the reply sent by the Mirza refers to this advice of Nuruddin. This letter of the Mirza is included in the collection of his letters and is dated January 24, 1891. This letter reveals the intellectual sources, the behind-the-scene director of the play, the actual author of Qadianism. The following is an excerpt from this historic letter:
“It has been said by you, Sir, that there is no harm in proclaiming myself to be the Promised Messiah even independent of the one referred to in the Damascene Hadith. This humble one has no need of becoming a replica of the Messiah. I merely want Allah to include me among His humble and obedient servants. But we cannot escape from being put to test. The Exalted Allah has made trial the only way to advancement, as He says: “Do men think they will be left alone on saying ‘We believe, that they will not be tested ? (Maktubat-i-Ahmadiyah Vol. V, No. 2, p. 85.) (xxix, 2)
“This descent does not mean the real descent of the Messiah, the son of Mary; it is only a figurative expression which, informs the coming of the one like the Messiah which, according to Divine pronouncements and inspirations, is this humble one.”
What were the real motives of this advice? Was it merely Nuruddin’s farsightedness and ambitious nature or had it been made on some kind of encouragement from the powers-that- were? It is difficult now to say what actually lay behind the advice. As for the latter possibility, it appears nor far-fetched at all if we bear in mind the historical background of the rise of this new movement. The situation was that the British had witnessed the religious movement of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and had been put to considerable difficulty owing to that. In more or less the same period of time, there had risen another movement in the Sudan, led by the Sudanese Mahdi, and this too had given the British a very hard time. It is not unlikely that the British should have hit upon the desirability of the rise of a reliable religious leader of their choice. If such a leader was able to win the confidence of the Muslims, through his services to the cause of Islam, and capture the religious imagination of people by his religious zeal, he could serve as a good means to secure the British against the threat of anti-British religious movements. And since the Muslims already believed in the advent of the Messiah, their acceptance of such a person as the Messiah could not have been ruled out. Such a Messiah, if he preached loyalty to the powers-that-were in the name of God and Islam, could be of great service to the cause of the British. Nothing, however, can be said with complete certainty. Nevertheless the above cited letter of the Mirza remains a significant document, and might have the clue to the origin of Qadianism.
What is worth remembering at this point is that so far as the prophets of God are concerned, their mission does not depend on outside suggestions. They receive revelation from the heaven and are categorically informed of their position and mission. Their hearts are full of conviction and from the very first day they announce and keep on stressing what they believe to be the truth. Neither their own faith, nor their summons, depends upon someone else’s drawing their attention towards it. From the very first day they keep on saying:
This am I commanded and I am the first of those who bow to His Will. (Quran, VI:163)
Belief about Jesus
The return of Jesus is an established article of creed in Islam. (The ascension of Jesus to the heavens and his return to the World in the future is one of those beliefs of Muslims, which have their basis in Qur’an and is also proved by Prophetic Traditions, and in which Muslims have believed consistently. Ibn Kathir says that the Prophetic Traditions regarding the return of Jesus are numerous enough to be regarded as one supported by an unbroken chain of transmission. Ibn Hajar also quotes Abul Husain Abari in Fatah-al-Bari regarding the tawatur of Traditions on this question. Shawkani has written a treatise just on this subject entitled Tasdiq fi ma ja fi al-muntazir wa at-Dajjal wa al-Masih. None of the important religious personalities has been recorded as denying this belief, not even the Mutazilah. Ibn Hazm, in his renowned work Al-Fisal fi al-Milal wa al-Nihal, writes that this belief is established by the unbroken continuity of transmission. This question has been discussed in detail in Anwar Shah Karhmiri’s Aqidat al-Islam. As for the rational aspect of the question, if one accepts the omnipotence of God and affirms the perfection of His Attributes, one can have no reason to doubt the possibility of statements found in those traditions whose authenticity and continuity are established. In an age of such tremendous scientific progress as ours when a number of things which were considered hitherto impossible are taking place before our own eyes, when man-made satellites revolve round the world after every few hours, when man has begun to pace the outer space, the idea that a man should ascend to the heavens and stay there alive for a certain period of time can hardly be regarded as inconceivable. To put forward objections which are based on Greek concepts of astronomy or on other worn-out notions appears palpably childish in this age of scientific advancement. Muslims have known this and have believed in it.
Traditions from the Prophet mention it and, moreover, owing to the adversity of circumstances the Muslims had developed a mood to expect that some great, divinely inspired personality would appear suddenly and set things right for them. As the, thirteenth century of hijrah drew close to its termination, this state of expectancy became even more intense. Nuruddin, therefore, had reasons to presume that in view of the popularity won by the Mirza by his religious services his claim to be the Messiah was likely to be accepted by Muslims.
The Mirza accepts the suggestion
The manner in which the Mirza declined to accept the suggestion made by Nuruddin, and the spirit of humility and piety which he evinced in his letter on that subject are very valuable and add to his prestige. But for anyone who studies his works in a chronological order, it is hard to retain this feeling of respect for long. For we find him quite soon accepting the suggestion of Nuruddin – which he had turned down earlier – of proclaiming himself to be ‘the Replica of the Messiah.’
If we survey the works of the Mirza, the can be very easily divided into two phases. The first phase consists of those works in which he seeks merely to prove, the validity of Islam and repudiate other religions. In these works, there is no claim of being the Messiah. This is followed by the phase when he did make that claim and went on making several other claims about himself, each more boastful and grandiose than the previous one. The first book that he wrote during this phase is Fath-i-Islam, published in 1891, the year which marks a major turning-point in the career of the Mirza. In this work, we find him claiming to be the Replica of the Messiah and the Promised Messiah. (Mirza Bashir Ahmad writes in Sirat al-Mahdi: “The Promised Messiah had written Fath-i-Islam towards the end of 1890. This is the first treatise in which he mentioned himself to be the Replica of Messiah and that the Messiah of Nazareth had died. In other words, this was the first proclamation of the claim of being the Promised Messiah.” (Vol. 1, pp. 267-268). This shows that the author too regards ‘Replica of Messiah’ and ‘Promised Messiah’ to be synonymous terms.) (7. See Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Surmah-i-Chashm-I-arya and Shahna-i-,Haq. )
“If you are honest, then be thankful and make prostrations of gratitude for this is the time for which your noble fore-fathers kept waiting until they passed away, the time which was awaited by innumerable souls who have journeyed (to the next world); for verily, you have found that time. Now it is for you to value it or not to benefit from it or not. I shall say this again and shall not cease announcing that I am he who has been sent at the proper time in order to reform people so as to revive religion afresh in their hearts. I have been sent in the same way as the one who was sent after Kalim Allah ……… and whose soul, after great many pains during the rule of Herodius was raised to the heavens. So, when the second Kalim Allah, who, indeed, was the first; and the leader of the Prophets, came for the suppression of other Pharaohs, the one concerning Whom it has been said. We have sent to you (O men) an Apostle, to be a witness concerning you even as we sent an apostle to Pharaoh; (LXXXXX : 15) then he too, who – is similar to the first Kalim in respect of his work, and yet nobler in rank than he was -promised a Replica of the Messiah. And this Replica of the Messiah, -having been given the power, nature and characteristics of the Messiah, the son of Mary descended from the heaven in an age, similar to his age, and around almost the same time that elapsed between the first Kalim and Messiah, son of Mary, i. e, in the fourteenth century. And this descent was spiritual in the same way as after having risen; perfect people come down in order to reform people. And he too came down in a period similar in every respect to the period of the descent of the Messiah, the son of Mary, order that it remain a sign for those Might those who understand.” (Fath-i-Mdm, pp. 6 and 7.)
Even though, this piece of the Mirza’s writing is terribly puzzling and complicated (and perhaps deliberately so) it clearly, shows his new claim that he is the ‘Replica of the Messiah’. Three of his works, namely Fath-i-Isram, Tuwdih-i-Matram, and Izala-i-Awham, all deal with the same subject and frequently repeat this claim. In Fath-i-lsam at another place the Mirza writes:
So aside from the resemblance ‘With other venerable ancestors bestowed on this humble being, there is also a special resemblance with the nature of Hazrat Masih (upon him be peace) and it is because of this resemblance that this humble one was sent after the name of the Messiah in order to shatter to pieces the crucifixional belief. Hence, I have been sent to shatter the cross and exterminate the pigs. I have come down from the beavens, accornpanied by angels on my right and left. (Ibid., p. 9 n.)
In his Tawdih-i-Marzam, which is his next book after fath-i-lsam he makes this explicit statement:
With a certain degree of disagreement Muslims and Christians believe that Messiah, the son of Mary, was raised from this elemental existence to the heavens and that in some other age be will tome down from the heavens. I have written about the error of this notion in my treatise and have also stated that this descent does not mean the actual descent of Messiah, the son of Mary; it is rather a metaphorical, expression informing of the advent of Replica of the Messiah and which, on the basis of information and inspiration from God, applies to this humble one. (Tawdih-i-Mardm, p.2.)
Since Nuruddin had a wide knowledge of the Traditions from the Prophet, he used to draw the attention of the Mirza towards the difficulties in justifying his claims and also used to help him in solving those difficulties. The problem, as to how to relate the attributes which had been mentioned with regard to the Messiah, required extraordinary intelligence. Here are a few examples of this intelligence and of its having run riot.
The Traditions on which the Mirza based his claim of Messiahship also mention a number of details relating to the descent of the Messiah. One of these is that the Messiah would descend in Damascus. Now, if the Mirza had been the promised Messiah, how could this be justified in the light of the above mentioned tradition? It is obvious that Damascus and Qadian are far away from one another. Nevertheless, the paradox did not occur to the Mirza. It is Nuruddin who drew his attention to it. Let us refer once more to the Mirza himself on this question:
“This humble one had so far not occupied himself with trying to find out the signification of this (i. e. Damascus), when a friend and trusted lover, Maulavi Hakim Nuruddin came here to Qadian and he made a request to turn towards God to reveal the significance of Damascus and the two other ambiguous terms which occur in the Tradition concerned in Muslim. Since in those days, I was sick and my mind was incapable of strenuous exertion I was unable to attend to these matters. Only a little bit of effort to the explanation of a word that is, the reality of Damascus was revealed to me. (Izala-i-Awham, pp. 32-33.)
Later, he explains his inspired discovery of the meaning of Damascus in these terms.
Thus, it should be clear that in the interpretation of the word ‘Damascus’ it was revealed to me by God that that town has been called Damascus which is inhabited by a people who have the nature of Yazid, who follow the practices and ideas of the filthy Yazid, in whose hearts-there is no love for God and the ‘Prophet, no veneration for the commandments of God, who have become wont to follow their desires, whose enslavement to the commands of the baser self is such that even the blood of the pure and the sacred appears to them as easy and trifling, who do not believe in the Hereafter and for whom the existence of God is a complicated problem which eludes their understanding. And since the physician should come to the sick, it was essential that the Messiah should appear among such people. (Ibid. pp. 33-34n.)
Thus, ‘the descent of the Massiah in Damascus’ clearly indicates that there is someone who is a Replica of the Messiah, who also resembles Husain owing to the resemblance between these two venerable personalities (the Messiah and Husain), and who will, descend in order to warn the Yazidis for they are akin to the Jews. (Ibid p. 34.)
Later, be writes
“Damascus has been used merely in a metaphorical way. (Ibid., p. 34.)
He also adds:
“Then He told me that these people had the nature of Yazid and this town (Qadian) is similar to Damascus. So, the Exalted Allah sent this humble one down to this Damascus for a great purpose (at the eastern side, next to the white minaret of the mosque wherein whosoever entered became safe. Blessed is the One who sent me down at this place. (Ibid., p. 68.)
Two yellow sheets
In interpreting the Traditions which mention certain details of the descent of the Messiah and in applying them to himself, the Mirza indulges in great extravagance of imagination, puts forward the most far-fetched meanings, and comes forward with the most ridiculous notions – as if he were sure of the absolute gullibility of his readers. For instance, his opponents pointed out that the Traditions on the basis of which he had argued his case and upon which he had based his claim also stated that, at the time of his descent, the Messiah would be clad in two yellow sheets. Replying to that, he says:
“I am a permanently sick man. And the two yellow sheets which have been mentioned in the Traditions as those which would be worn by the Messiah when he would come down, these two sheets are with me and these are, according to the science of interpretation of dreams, two ailments. Hence, one of these sheets is on my upper part so that headache and giddiness and insomnia and palpitation of the heart come to me in the form of fits. The other sheet which is on the lower part of my body is diabetes which has afflicted me for quite a long time so that often I have urinated a hundred times during the night and day, and due to this frequency of urination I am afflicted with all those ailments of debility which generally result from such a disease. (Appendices of Arbacin, Nos. 3 and 4, p. 4. )
Eastern minaret of Damascus
Traditions from the Prophet also mention the eastern minaret of Damascus as the place where the Messiah would descend. Instead of interpreting it in some other fanciful manner, as was his wont, what he did in this case, was to have a minaret constructed in the eastern part of Qadian. He made this decision in 1900, according to Sirat al-Mahdi, and invited people to donate generously. (See the announcement regarding the’Minaret of Messiah’, in Khutba-i- Ilhamiyah, P. 1.) In 1903, he even laid its foundation. (Sirat al-Mahdi, Vol. 11., p. 154.) Its completion, however, could not take place during his life-time, and was Accomplished by his son Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood.
Satire and Ridicule
The three above mentioned works also crudely reveal the Mirza’s bad temper. They are full of satire and ridicule directed against opponents and contain such bitter vituperation that these books can hardly be reckoned among the books befitting the dignity of any serious cause. The style and mode of expression adopted by the Mirza in these is not even becoming of sober and dignified writers, not to speak of prophets and religious reformers. The manner in which he scoffs at belief in the survival and the return of the Messiah to the earth and at those who subscribe to it reminds one of the type of wit associated with court-jesters rather than with serious intellectuals. Moreover, the kind of debating skill and quibbling which he employs had nothing to do with the prophetic mode of expression. While trying to point out the rational impossibility of the Messiah’s survival in the heavens, he writes:
“Among others, one objection is that even if we were to assume that the Messiah did reach the heavens, along with his terrestrial body, then it would force us to admit that that body is bound to be affected in the heavens, by the effects of time, like all other human and animal bodies and that this passage of time will inescapably and inevitably lead some day to his death. Thus in such a case, it will have to be accepted in respect of the Messiah that after having completed his course of life, he must have expired in the heavens (In the Mirza’s days neither the, physical sciences had developed to the present extent nor was man in possession of that extent of empirical knowledge about the outer space and other planets so as to visualise that terrestrial concepts of time and space are not absolute and that measurements of time and space beyond the gravitational sphere of the earth might be quite different. He, therefore, could neither appreciate the possibility that a thousand years of this world could be equal to just a moment in some other world” or, that there might be a world which is quite different from our own in respect of change, death, feelings, requisites for survival, etc. Man seems to have the inalienable weakness of having blind faith in the knowledge and information of his own time and tends to deny all that has not been known or experienced till that time. In the words of the Quran, “Nay, they charge with falsehood that whose know ledge they cannot compass, even before the elucidation thereof hath reached them”, and must have been buried in the graveyard of the inhabitants of some planet (the possibility of habitation on which is being accepted in the present times). And even if we were to assume his being alive, there can be no doubt that he would by now have become a decrepit old man and will hardly be capable of rendering any religious service. Under such circumstances, his coming down to the earth seems hardly of any consequence except an unavailing botheration.) (Izala-i-Awham, pp. 25-26.)
At other place, he makes the following comment on that part of the Tradition which mentions that the Messiah will “kill the swine.”
“Will the excellent task that will be undertaken by the Messiah after he comes down to the earth merely be to go around, accompanied with a pack of hounds, hunting pigs? If this is true, then Sikhs, Chamars and Sansis and Gandils who love pig-hunting have, reason to be glad, for they will prosper. (Izala-i-Awham; p. 21.)
At another place he makes the following observation about the future descent of the Messiah:
Watch out lest you are deceived by someone who first boards some balloon And then alights from it in front of you. So, beware! Don’t mistake such a person for the son of Mary because of your established belief. ( Ibid., p. 143. )
At still another place he refers to the same question in the following manner:
Brethren, this question stood on two legs:
“(1) One, the descent of the son of Mary from the heavens with his terrestrial body, towards the end of time. This leg has been broken by the Glorious Quran and also some Traditions by informing of the death of the Messiah, son of Mary.
“(2) The second leg was the appearance of the promised Dajjal towards the end of time. Now this leg bas been broken into two pieces by the unanimously agreed Traditions of Sahih Muslim and Sabih Bukhari which have been reported by important Companions and also by calling, Ibn Sabd to be the promised Dajjal and, at last, by killing him after making him join the body of Muslims. Now that both the legs of the question have been broken, bow and with whose support can this corpse which lacks both the legs stand up after these thirteen countries”?(Ibid., pp. 133-34.)
Here is another example of his- writing:
“Can it be proved that there has been a consensus regarding the Traditions that the Messiah will go around hunting pigs in woods and that Dajjal Will circumambulate around Kabah and that the son of Mary will perform the obligatory cicumambulation of the Kabah like a sick man, supported on the shoulders of two men? Is it not known that the exegetists of these Traditions have been letting their conjectures loose limitlessly ?” (Izala-i-Awham, p. 214)
At another place, he bad the following to address to the Ahl-i-Sunnah (Lit. ‘One of the path’. A term generally applied to the largest sect of Muslims who belong to one of the four juristic schools of orthodox Islam.) scholars:
“O respected maulavis! While the death of the Messiah is generally proved by the Noble Quran, certain Companions and Exegetists have, from the very beginning, been continuously killing him (that is holding that Jesus is dead-Translator). Then, why do you adopt your attitude of unavailing stubbornness? Let the God of Christians die. How long will you go on calling him the living one, the undying? Is there any limit to this?” (Izala-i-Awham, p. 235.)
Impact of Modern Knowledge
The works of the Mirza written during this period also show that he was deeply impressed with the advancement of natural sciences and with the scientific knowledge which was evoking great interest and curiosity in India in his days. The level of scientific knowledge attained by the West by that time would appear to be rudimentary when judged by the present level of scientific advancement. However, the Mirza’s acquaintance of the scientific knowledge was second-hand and very superficial. It seems that one of the main preps of his rejection of the idea of the return of the Messiah was that the idea ran counter to the accepted facts of modern science. He thought that such a belief would expose religion to the ridicule of the educated people. He wrote in Izala-i-Awham:
“In this philosophically-minded age, which has speedily brought with it mental refinement and intellectual advancement, it is a big error to think that one would be able to achieve religious success while holding on to this beliefs. (It is hard to say how and why the Mirza believed in such metaphysical proportions as revelation, angles, paradise, hell, etc. and how he accepted the demand of religion. Indeed, the very heart of religion is guided by faith in the realities beyond the ken of human perception. The above excerpt only illustrates the extent to which he was mentally overawed by “modernism”, and how he, like other superficial writers and ill-educated people of the nineteenth century, had deified modern science without appreciating its actual domain and its inherent limitations.) If such baseless things were to spread in the deserts of Africa or among the desert-dwellers of Arabia or in some islands of the sea or among groups of wild people, they might spread easily. But we cannot propagate such teachings which are totally opposed to reason and experience and natural sciences and philosophy and which also cannot be proved (to have originated) from our Prophet (upon him be the salutation and peace of God); rather traditions which are quite opposed to these are being proved among the educated people. Nor can we present them to the scholastically inclined people of Europe and America, who are getting rid of the absurdities of their own religion. How can they (whose minds and hearts have been illuminated by the light of new sciences) believe in such things which are out and out an insult to God and constitute an abrogation of the principles of His Book ?” (lzala-i-Awham, p. 135.)
While reading passages such as these, one finds it hard to believe that they could have been written by the author of Surma- i-Chashm-i-Arya; by the same writer who had strongly argued in favour of the possibility and actual occurrence of miracles and had refuted the view that metaphysical notions could not be denied on the basis of reason of limited human experience.
In this book the Mirza has argued on the basis of the Jummal (The reckoning of the alphabets by a system in which the letters have different powers) numerals and here his mode of argument becomes very close to that of the missionaries of the Batiniyah sect who used to employ these numerals as evidential arguments even in. respect of fundamental religious beliefs.
“My attention has been drawn through Kashf (Revelation of any secret, to a mystic or saint by the grace and power of God) towards the powers of nick letters of the following name wherein I have been informed of the Messiah who was to appear at the end of the thirteenth century. (God has told me) that He had already kept in view the era (of Messiah’s appearance) in giving this name (to me); and that name is, ‘Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani’. The powers of the letters of this name add up exactly to 1300, and in this township of Qadian there is none except this humble one whose name is Ghulam Ahmad. In fact, it has been put in my heart that at this time there is none except this humble one who has the name ‘Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani.’ And this has been a favour bestowed by God to this humble one that He, the Pure One, reveals the mysteries to me through the powers of alphabetical letters.” (lzala-i-Awham, p. 90.)
At another place he writes:
“Now it is proved by this research that, the Quran contains the prediction of the coming of the Messiah, the son of Mary, towards the end of time. The time of the appearance of the Messiah, which has been fixed by the Quran as 1400 (A.H.) has also been accepted by many saints on the basis of their kaslif. The Quranic verse ‘And We certainly are able to drain it off (It should be noted that this verse refers to rain, and the whole verse reads thus: “And We send down water from the sky according to (due) measure and We cause it to soak in the soil; and We certainly are able to drain it off (with ease,). (XL: 18) ) has letters which, according to the jummal, make up the figure of 1274; and this points to the moonless nights of the Islamic lunar months containing a hidden pointer to the rise of a new moon. And this mystery is latent, according to jummal system, in the letters of Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani.” (lzala-i-.Awham.Vol. 11, p. 338. )
In these books, while trying to explain the Traditions from the Holy Prophet and arguing that they referred to him, the Mirza has been extremely heedless of all rules of exposition of such texts, giving full rein to his fancy. In fact, it is hardly conceivable that anyone should take such liberty in explaining even the writings or compositions of ordinary writers and poets not to say of Traditions from prophets. To suit his purpose, the Mirza has taken the position that the words of the Traditions are of a figurative or metaphorical nature. Again, in this respect, he seems to be following in the footsteps of the Batinis, who used to explain religious terms – about whose text as well as meaning there is an unbroken continuity of agreement – in a far-fetched and ridiculous manner, without any Toxicological or rational basis to support them. It is thus that they had opened the flood-gates of atheism and nihilism.
In Izala-i-Awham, the Mirza repeatedly asserts that knowledge about the son of Mary and Dajj had not been completely clear to the Holy Prophet and that in this regard God had endowed him only with some brief hints.” (Ibid., Vol, 11, p. 346.)
The Messiah in Kashmir
The Mirza, kept on “reflecting” about the death of the Messiah till, in the end, he concluded that his death had taken place in Kashmir and that it was there that he lay buried. In this connection, according to his wont, he did a lot of hair-splitting which shows the fertility of his imagination even if the level is childish. He has tried to prove that the pronunciation of Kashmir in Kashmiri language is “Kashir”, and it appears that this word, in fact, is a compound Hebrew word, composed of ‘K’ which is used to denote similarity, resemblance, etc. and of ‘Ashir’ which in Hebrew means Syria. Thus the word ‘Kashir’ in Hebrew meant ‘like Syria’. On this basis, the Mirza went on to add that when Jesus (peace be upon him) migrated from Palestine to that part of India, which due to the excellence of weather, agreeableness of its seasons and its greenery and freshness had close resemblance to Syria, God named it “Kashir”, in order to comfort and gratify him. The excessive use of the word led to the dropping of ‘a’ with the result, that it became ‘Kashir.’ Then, he proved that the tomb of ‘Budhasaf’ (popularly known as the “prince”), in the Khan Yar locality of Srinagar, was in fact the grave of Jesus. In trying to support this piece of research, he marshalled all possible far-fetched arguments, with the result that his writing on the point appears closer to poetry and fiction rather than what is normally considered to be academic writing. The unbridled speculations of the Orientalists, who are noted for making the mountain out of a mole-hill simply pale into insignificance when compared with. the Mirza’s Writing. (See Barahin, p. 228.)
This brings us to a definite milestone in the spiritual experiences and claims of the Mirza. At this stage, he categorically claims to be the “Promised Messiah” and tries to prove this by his so-called ‘rational’ as well as traditional arguments.
An objective, but critical, study of the Mirza’s writings gives one the impression that his claims proceeded along a gradually ascending scale. All this seems to have been planned very carefully and the Mirza appears to have exercised great patience and precaution in moving from one stage to the other. In the beginning, he expressed the opinion that inspiration, intuitive experience and categorical knowledge were an essential concomitant of completely following the Prophet – a natural stage at which one arrives as a result of losing oneself am obedience to the Prophet. He does not explicitly claim himself to be a prophet, but talks about prophetic attributes and characteristics and tries to prove that these attributes and characteristics are bestowed upon the followers of the Prophet – particularly upon the more perfect ones – by virtue of their following the Prophet. This logic and its premises were bound to lead the Mirza, sooner or later, to proclaim himself to be a prophet. It appears that throughout these years, he remained busy paving the way and trying to create the proper atmosphere for such a proclamation. He seems to have been trying to assess whether the devotion of his followers had reached the stage where they would not mind accepting even this claim, as they had accepted the rest of his claims.
Proclamation of Prophethood
At last that event did take place. In the year l900, Maulavi Aabdul Karlim, the preacher of the Friday sermon, gave a sermon in which he, used the words Nabi (Prophet) and Rasul (Messenger) for the Mirza. This caused great irritation to Maulavi Sayyid Muhammad Ahsan Amrohawi. When Maulavi Abdul Karim came to know of this, he gave another Friday sermon in which be addressed the Mirza, requesting him to contradict his belief, if he was wrong in considering him to be a prophet and Messenger of God. After the Friday prayers were over, Maulavi Abdul Karim caught hold of the skirt of the Mirza’s apparel and requested him to correct him in his beliefs, if they were erroneous. The Mirza turned around and said that he, too, held the same belief. Meanwhile, Maulavi Muhammad Ahsan had been greatly agitated by the sermon and in anger was pacing the floor of the mosque. On Maulavi Abdul Karim’s return, he began to quarrel with him. When their voices rose very high, the Mirza came out of his house and recited the Quranic verse: “O ye who believe! Don’t raise your Voice above the voice of the Prophet.” (This event is based on the report of a speech of Sayyid Sarwar Shah Qadiani at an annual conference held in Qadian, and published in al-Fadhl, Vol. X, No. 51, dated January 4,1923.. See also Haqiqat al- Nubuwat, p 124.) (XLIX.2)
Thus, the sermon of Maulavi Abdul Karim inaugurated a new phase in the career of the Mirza. This sermon provided him with the much needed assurance that his followers had such an unquestiong faith in him that they would accept whatever claims he might make. The Mirza’s own son, Bashiruddin Mahmood, has very ably described this development by pointing out that the Mirza used to claim himself to be invested with the attributes which could be found in none except a prophet and yet he used to deny his being a prophet. When he became conscious of this inconsistency and became aware that these attributes were untenable with his denial of prophethood, he proclaimed himself to be a prophet. He writes:
“In short, since in the beginning the Promised Messiah thought that the definition of Nabi is the one who brings a new Shariah or abrogates some injunctions or is a prophet directly (appointed by God): so, even though all the attributes and qualities required of a prophet were found in him, he used to decline from designating himself a prophet. When, later on, he became aware that the nature of his claims is that of a prophet and not of a Muhaddath, he proclaimed himself to be a prophet.” (Haqiqat al-Nubuwat, Vol. 1, p. 124.)
However, whether the Mirza refrained from proclaiming himself to be a prophet till his misunderstanding was removed and he was commissioned by God to proclaim his prophethood, or he had been waiting all this while for an opportune moment to make this declaration, there is no doubt that he was ultimately led to making the proclamation of his prophethood which was the logical result of his earlier claims.
Elucidation and Challenge
As stated by Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood, the question was finally decided in 1901 and the Mirza began to write about it explicitly in his writings. The collection of articles called Arbain (The Mirza-had promised to write forty treatises on the subject but he concluded the series only after the fourth one. See Arbain, Vol. IV, P. 14.) is full of declarations and explanations about this new mission. This frankness increased steadily. In 1902, he wrote a treatise entitled Tuhfat al-Nadwah, which was addressed to the ulama, who were taking part in the deliberations of the Nadwah Conference held at Amritsar in. In this treatise, he wrote:
“Thus, as I have repeatedly said, what I recite unto you is categorically and certainly the word of Allah, in the same way as Quran and Torah are the words of Allah, and that I am a Zilli (Reception of the revelation through the grace of Muhammad (peace be on him) has been called “Zilli nubuwah” by the Mirza. See Haqfqat al-Wahy p. 28.) and Buruzi (This kind of prophet, according to the Mirza does not receive it) prophet of God, and every Muslim is obliged to obey me in religious matters. And every one who has received information about me, even though he be a Muslim, but does not consider me arbiter in his affairs, nor recognizes me as the Promised Messiah, nor considers my revelations as coming from God, he is liable to punishment in the heavens for he has rejected what he bad to accept at its proper time. I do not merely say that I would have courted (the disaster of) death had I been a liar; I also say that I am true even as Moses and Jesus and Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on them) were true, and that God has shown more than ten thousand signs to uphold my claim. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) has testified and the earlier prophets had indicated the time of my advent, which is the present time. The Quran has also indicated the time of my debut during the present times. Both the heavens and the earth have borne testimony in my support; nor is there a prophet who has not testified in my favour. (Tuhfat al-Nadwah, p. 4.)
In the same vein is what he wrote in Haqiqat al-Wahy:
“So, of all the people of this ummah, I am the only one who has received this large portion of Divine revelation and knowledge about the Unseen. None of the saints of this ummah, who have preceded me, was given such a big share of this bounty. (This is merely a claim, and it is based on lack of religious knowledge and is against historical facts. In the ummah of Mohammad (peace be on him) there have been so many saints who have been graced by divine inspiration, but none ever claimed it to be a revelation, nor claimed prophethood on that basis). For this reason, I alone was chosen to prophethood for his own self, but for the majesty of his prophet. It is for this reason he claims, that his name in the heavens is Muhammad and Ahmad. This means that the Prophet Muhammad’s nubiwah was received ultimately by (another,) Muhammad. although in a buruzi way, and not by any body else”. Ek Ohattr ka Itilah, p. 5.
All the later writings of the Mirza are full of similar categorical elucidations of his claim to prophethood. These are too many to be mentioned in this book. All those interested in a more detailed study of it should study his haqiqat al-Wahy, and Bashiruddin Mahmood’s Haqiqat al-Nubuwat.
The works of the Mirza also prove that he believed himself to be an independent prophet and bearer of a Shariah. In Arbain, he defined the Shariah-bearing prophet as one whose revelation contains positive commandments and prohibitions and who makes some regulations even though these commandments and prohibitions might have been embodied in the scripture of some former prophet. According to him, a Shariah-bearing prophet need not bring an altogether new set of laws. Then he goes on to declare himself to be such an independent Sitariah-bearing prophet. To cite his own words:
“Apart from this, you should know what is Shariah. Whosoever laid down some commandments and prohibitions through his revelation and framed some regulations for ummah becomes the bearer of a Shariah. So, even according to this definition, our opponents are blameworthy, for my revelations contain commandments as well as prohibitions. For instance, take the inspiration:
‘Say to the believers to lower down their eyes and guard their hidden places -This is purer for them.’ (xxvi.30)
“All this is found in Barhin-i-Ahmadiyah. It contains commandments as well as prohibitions and the same is the case with my revelations till today – they contain both commandments and prohibitions. And if you say that by Shari’ah is meant that which contains new regulations then this is wrong. The Exalted Allah says: ‘And this is in the Books of the earlier Revelations; the Books of Abraham and noises’ (LXXXVII, 18-19), which means that the Quranic teachings are also embodied in Torah. (Arbain, appendix 4, p. 7)
The fact that the Mirza abrogated a number of those important and categorical injunctions of the Shariah, which have been continuously supported by Muslims, also shows that he considered himself to be the bearer of an independent Shariah and regarded himself as one entitled to determine what was religiously obligatory or prohibited. One of the examples is the attitude he showed in respect of the question of jihad. Even though jihad is a textual Quranic injunction supported by the unbroken belief and practice of the ummah throughout the fourteen centuries of our history and is supported by the Prophetic Tradition, ‘jihad will continue till the Day of Resurrection,’ but the Mirza prohibited it. In connection with the abrogation of jihad, just one excerpt from ‘his writings on the subject will suffice:
Jihad, that is the harshness of religious wars, has gradually been lightened by God. During the time of Moses there was such harshness that even, acceptance of belief could not save a man from being killed, and even suckling babies were put to death. Then during the time of our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the killing of the children, the old and women-folk was prohibited. Then, for certain nations, instead of accepting the faith, payment of jizyah was accepted as the means of saving them from punishment. Then, in the time of the Promised Messiah, the injunction of jihad has been absolutely repealed. (Arba’in, Vol. 4, p. 15n. For more detailed statements of the Mirza on the subject see Section 2 of Chapter III of the book.)
Excommunication of the Deniers of Mirza’s Prophethood
The natural and logical consequence of the claim to be a prophet was that all those who declined to believe in the new prophethood should be declared unbelievers (kafirs). The Mirza himself recognized that only a Shariah-bearing prophet was entitled to declare all those who did not believe in him to be kafirs. He writes:
“This point is worth remembering that to call those who reject one’s claim as afiis is worthy only of those prophets who bring from God a Shariah and new injunctions. But all others besides the Shaiah-bearing (prophets), that is, mulham (Divinely-inspired) and muhaddath (recipients of Divine Communication), no matter how high their station is in the sight of God and no matter how highly honoured they are by God, rejection of their claim does not render anyone an unbeliever.” (Tiryaq al- qulub, p. 130n.)
Nevertheless, all the subsequent works of the Mirza are replete with denunciations of those who denied his Prophethood as kafirs. A few examples will suffice:
“During these days, the foundation of a new sect will be laid in the heavens and in order to support this sect, God will blow (His trumpet) “Be” and by the sound of this “Be” every fortunate one will be drawn towards it except those who are eternally doomed and have been created to fill up the Hell. (Barahin-i-Ahmadayah, Vol. V, pp. 82-83. )
In his inspiration which the Mirza published on May 25, 1900, he said:
“I have received inspiration that whosoever will not follow thee and. will not enter into thy oath of fealty then such a disobeyer of God and the Prophet will dwell in Hell. (Mi’yar al-Akhar, p. 8 (cited from Qadiani Mazhab).)
Take another instance:
“God had revealed to me that every one who has received my call and has not accepted it is not a Muslim.” (Zikr al-Hakim, No. 2, p. 24, compiled by Dr. Abdul Hakim, quoted from al-Fadhl January 15,1935. )
At another place, the matter has been dealt with in greater detail:
“Kufr denotes two categories (of disbelief): first, that a person denies Islam itself and does not recognize the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to be the messenger of God. The second (category of) disbelief is, for instance, that he does not believe in the Promised Messiah and considers him false in spite of the matter having been made clear and even though God and the Prophet had emphatically urged that he be recognized as true, and there had been similar emphatic instruction in the books of the earlier prophets. Thus, since he is the denier of the command of God and His Prophet, he is a kafir. And if one were to look at the matter closely, both these categories of kafir are basically the same; for the person who does not accept the command of God and His Prophet despite his having recognized it to be so, he does not believe in God and the Prophet according, to the explicit texts of. the Quran and the Hadith. (Haqiqat al-Wahy, pp. 179-80)
This constitutes an article of the Qadiani creed. Its former head, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood writes:
“All those Muslims who have not been integrated in the oath of fidelity to the Promised Messiah, regardless of whether they had heard his name or not, they are kafirs and outside the fold of Islam. (Aina’-i-Sadaqat, p. 35 (cited from Qaddiani Mazhab))
It is because of this belief that all non-Ahmadis are kafirs, the Islamic legal ordinances in respect of kafirs have been considered by the Qadiani group to be applicable to those who are outside the fold of their religion. The Qadiani have, therefore, been prohibited from having matrimonial relations with Muslims. In one of his speeches, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood observed – “One of the ordinances of the Promised Messiah, and an important one too is that no Ahmadi may give his daughter in marriage to a non-Ahmadi. This ordinance is mandatory for every Ahmadi. (Barkat-i-Khilifat, Collection of speeches of Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood, p. 15, (aited from Qadiani Magzhab)). In Anwar-i-Khilafat, he remarks: “A person asked him (i.e. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani) again and again and put forward several pressing difficulties. Nevertheless, he instructed him to keep his daugther at home for all her life, but not to give her in marriage to a non-Ahmadi. When after the Mirza’s death, the said person married his daughter to a non-Ahmadi, the first Khalifah, Hakim Nuruddin not only forbade him from acting as an Imam of the Ahmadis, but also excommunicated him from the Ahmadi group and did not accept his repentance during the six years of his Khilafat despite his repeated apologies and repentance. (pp. 93-94. )
Elaborating on the same theme at another place, he goes on to say:
“The position of non-Ahmadis in relation to us is the same as that fixed for the ahl-al-kitab (A follower of one of the revealed religions that is, a Jew or a Christian.) in relation to a believer by the Wise Quran, which instructs that a believing man may marry an ahl-al-kitab woman, but may not give a believing woman in marriage to an ahl-al-kitab. Likewise, an Ahmadi may bring a non-Ahmadi woman into the fold of his Marriage; but an Ahmadi woman, according to the Islamic Shariat, may not be given in marriage to a non-Ahmadi male. Huzur (the Mirza) says: There is no harm in accepting a non-Ahmadi woman in marriage, for marriage with ahl-al-kitab women is permitted. Rather, such a marriage is useful, because thus one more person receives true guidance, (but) one should not marry one’s daughter to any non-Ahmadi. If you can have (a non-Ahmadi woman), take her. But to giveaway (an Ahmadi woman in marriage to a non- Ahmadi) is sinful”. (al-Hakam, April It, 1908 (cited in Qadiani Mazhab).
In the same way, praying behind a non-Ahmadi is not permissible. The Mirza himself wrote:
“This Divine Message shows that those who declare (the Mirza to be) kafir and adopt the path of falsification (of the Mirza) are a doomed people. Hence, they do not deserve that any one of my jamaa (group) pray behind them. Can anybody offer prayers behind someone who is dead? So, keep in mind that, as God has informed me, it is prohibited for you – it is absolutely prohibited for you – to pray behind anyone who declares (me to be) kafir or falsifies (me), or is hesitant (to follow me). (Arba’in, Vol. 111, p. 34n)
Pursuing this logic, participation in the funeral prayers of the Muslims too has been prohibited for the Qadianis. According to the Qadiani mouthpiece al-Fadhl, the Mirza did not offer prayer at the funeral of his son (late Fadhl Ahmad), because he was a non-Ahmadi. (Al-Fadhl, dated 15th December, 1921.). Mian Bashiruddin Ahmad, in a letter published in al-Fadhl, even goes so far as to say: “I believe that it is not permissible to offer prayers at the funeral of those who pray behind non-Ahmadis, for such a person, in my view, is not an Ahmadi. (Al-Fadhl, dated 13th April, 1926 ). He also expressed the view that it is not permitted to offer prayers at the funeral of even a non-Ahmadi infant. The argument was that just as prayers could not be offered at the funeral of a Christian child, even though he was innocent, one could not offer prayers at the funeral of a non-Ahmadi child. (Al-Fadhl, Vol. 9, No. 72 and Vol. X, No. 32,)
It was, in compliance with this injunction, that even though Chowdhry Sir Zafrullah Khan, then Pakistan’s Minister for External Affairs, was present at the funeral ceremony of Mr. Jinnah, he did not participate in the funeral prayers.
One of the corollaries of accepting this belief is that. whatever religious duties one had performed prior to entering into the fold of Qadianism, would be deemed to be all null and void. In reply to a query raised by a Qadiani, he was informed: “Whosoever performed his obligatory pilgrimage at the time when his (i. e. the Mirza’s) claim had become well- known and the proof of its validity had been made evident to the people of the country in general and the Mirza had interdicted praying behind a non-Ahmadi lmam, then that person’s Hajj will not be reckoned as having been performed by him. (al-Hakam, (Qadian) of May 7, 1934.).
Incarnation and transmigration of soul
Some of the writings of the Mirza indicate that he also believed in the doctrines of incarnation and transmigration of souls and that the souls and essence of the prophets (upon all of them be the peace of Allah) were embodied in the person of the prophets one after another. In Tiryaqal-Qulub, he writes:
“Thus, as has been accepted by the Sufis, the levels of existence are cyclical. In this way, Abraham (upon him be peace) was re-born in respect of nature, temperament and familiarity of, heart, two thousand and five hundred years after his death in the house of Abdullah, the son of Abd al-Muttalib, and was called by the name of Mubammad. (Tiryiq al-Qulub, p. 155 n.)
He also writes:
“At this place, this point needs to be remembered that during the periods of the internal degeneration of Islam, the spirituality of our Prophet (upon him be the peace and benediction of Allah) manifests itself and this incarnation of the essence of Muhammad shows itself in the form of some perfect follower. As for what has been reported in the Traditions that al-Mahdi would be born and that ‘his name would be my name and his mode of conduct be (like) my mode of conduct’ – if these Traditions are correct -, then the reference is to the descent of his spirit, as I have mentioned above. (Aina’ i-Kamalat-i-lslam, P. 346.)
In another, of his works he wrote:
“It has been made known to me through kashf that when Jesus was informed about this sacriligiousness which has spread from the Christian people to the whole world, his soul moved for spiritual descent. Thereafter, God, according to His promise, granted him his replica, and in it was infused the Messiah’s courage and character and spirituality, and the two, that is the Messiah and his replica, were firmly integrated as if they were two parts of the same matter. Thus, in this sense, his being became the being of the Messiah, and the yearnings of the Messiah descended into him – and it is the descent of these which, in inspirational terminology, has been described as the descent of the Messiah. (Ibid., pp. 254-55.)
Two advents of the Prophet
The Mirza also declared that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) has had two advents. He said :
“And know that our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), in the same way as he was sent in the fifth millenium, was also sent towards the end of the sixth millenium, in the form of the Promised Messiah.
He even felt that this second advent was stronger, more perfect, and brighter than the first one:
“Rather the truth is that his spirituality (upon him be peace) at the end of the sixth millenium, that is, in these days, is more vigorous and stronger and more perfect than in those years; rather, it is like the full moon. (Ibid., p. 181)
The boastfulness of the Mirza in respect to his prophethood and his attainments is a noteworthy feature of his life. This reflects a particular kind of psychological complex and we need not try to analyse it. However, his urge to express his greatness was so pressing that he proclaimed himself to be of the same status as all other prophets. To quote one of his couplets:
He who gave the cup to every prophet,
Gave it to me filled to the brim!
Later, he proclaimed himself to be possessed of the virtues of all prophets. To quote him again:
Although prophets there have been many,
In Divine inspiration I am not less than any. (Khutba-i-Ilhamiya, p. 99)
He, further, went on to claim:
Every prophet became alive when I was raised;
Every Apostle lies hidden beneath my garment. (Ibid., p. 100. )
Not only this, he proclaimed that it was he who had brought about the perfection of the human race; that without him, this garden of humanity was incomplete:
The garden of Adam which, had been incomplete far,
Has now burst into bloom, complete with leaves and fruits. (Barahin-i-Ahmadiya, Vol. V, p. 113.)
He also seems to, believe that the attainments of prophethood and spirituality evolve with the passage of time, so that these attainments had found their most perfect form in his own personality. He wrote:
“In the same way, the spirituality of our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) appeared in the fifth millenium and that time was no the apex of its advancement, but the first step towards the highest point of its perfection. Then, that spirituality radiated itself towards the end of the sixth millenium, that is, during the present time, in the game way as Adam was created towards the end of the sixth day by the command of Allah, the Best Creator. And the spirituality of our Prophet, the best of the prophets, made its manifestation in a member of his ummah so that this spirituality might reach the perfection of its manifestation and predominance of its light, as God had promised in, his Radiant Book. So, I am that promised manifestation; I am the promised Light. (Khutba-i-ilhamiya, pp. 177-78.)
In Ajaz-i-Ahmadi he even tries to place his miracles and signs above those of the Holy Prophet. He says:
For him the moon was cleaved, but for me both the sun and the moon were eclipsed. So, will they still deny? (Ajaz-i-Ahmadi, p. 71.)
These boastful claims of the Mirza provided sufficient ground for his staunch followers and successors to build further on that foundation, as has always happened in the history of sects and religions. It is no surprise, therefore, that many of big followers explicitly declare him to be superior to most of the prophets. Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood, the son and second successor of the Mirza, wrote the following:
“Many prophets have passed in the world, but their disciples did not go beyond the stage a of muhaddath, except for our Prophet (i. e. Muhammad), whose benediction became so effluent that besides many muhaddath, one achieved even the status of prophethood. And it is not only that he became a prophet, but having attained perfection by way of reflection of the one whom he followed, went even ahead of some of the great prophets. (Haqiqat al-Nubuwat, p. 257.)
The enthusiastic followers of Mirza Bashiruddin, however, did not stop even at that. The mouthpiece of the movement, al-Fadhl, wrote:
“The Promised Messiah was a prophet. His position, by virtue of his status, was that of the disciple and the reflection of the Noble Messenger (upon him be peace and blessings of Allah). As for other prophets (upon them be peace), he excelled many of them; may be, he excelled them all. (al-Fadhl, Vol. XIV, No. 85, dated April 29, 1927 (cited in Qadiani Mazhab).)
Part III – Some Aspects of Life and Character
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had started his life in poverty. In the early part of his life, the situation was that a big part of his landed property had already gone and there was no other means of income. In his own words, he was concerned only with the dinning table and the bread. (Nuzul-al-Masih, Ist Edition, p. 118.) Prior to the spread of his fame, he had spent twenty-five years of anonymity. To cite own words again: “In fact during this period I was like a dead body, buried for centuries in such a manner that it was not even known whose grave it was. (Tattmmah Haqiqat al-Wahy, p. 28.) This state of affairs lasted until the appearance of the Mirza, as an author and champion of Islam. Then, his fame spread as a preacher and spiritual leader. He claimed to be the “Promised Messiah”, and subsequently, an independent messenger of God.. In this phase, things changed for him. We see him from now on as the spiritual guide and leader of a nascent religious community and a prosperous group of people. Gifts poured in from all sides and he became the centre of adoration and love of thousands of people. It is obvious that the Mirza’s prosperity in this period of his life owed itself to his religious movement. It is religious sentiment alone which led the people to make sacrifices in order to help the Mirza financially. The student is bound to feet curious as to the effect of this changed circumstance upon his life and character. The Mirza had risen in the name of a great religious cause and had come forward with the highest possible religious claims about himself. How far was his life in conformity with the ideals of this cause and the big claims he made about himself? Making a comparison between him and the noble life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would be sheer insolence. What can possibly be done is to compare his life and character with those followers of the Holy Prophet, who have championed the religious cause of Islam and have won popular admiration among Muslims as their true spiritual leaders.
Character of Religious Reformers
A study of the history of inspiring religious personalities and dynamic religious movements in Islam makes one thing quite evident. Even while experiencing fame and the availability of material riches, these noted religious personalities showed tremendous indifference towards worldly ambitions, an admirable sense of self-contentment and great sacrifice, and an ever-mounting keenness to strive for nothing except the felicity of the next life. The entire life of such people was subordinated to the conviction that ‘the next life constitutes the real life’. Their motto seems to have been the saying of the Prophet: “O God there is no life except the life of the Hereafter.” They passed through worldly life the way a traveller passes through the various stages of his journey, always keeping the following saying of the Holy Prophet before their eyes:
“What is my concern with the world? My relation to world is similar to that of a rider who stays (for a while) under the shade of a tree, then gets up and leaves. (Reported in Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.)
Their life embodies, to an appreciable degree, the following description of the life of Hazrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), by one of his friends:
“He was weary of the world and its bloom and loved night and its darkness. He was, by God, profuse in tears, immersed in reflection, wondering at the march of time, always critically watchful of himself (literally, always addressing his soul). The dress that pleased him was the rough one; and the food that pleased him was the coarse and simple one. (Sifat al-,Safwah, Vol. 1. p. 122.)
Not to mention the great personalities of the early period of Islam, nor even Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, who was a rightly guided caliph, we refer here only to personalities of much lower stature when compared with men of the above-mentioned genre. Among the humble followers of the Holy Prophet, one comes across, among other great rulers, whose self-denial, detachment, piety and scrupulously absolute indifference to worldly life, its vanities and its false glories constitute man’s pride and have left an indelible ampress on history. Nuruddin Zangi, Salahuddin Ayyubi, (The biographer of the Sultan and his close confidant Qadi Ibn Shaddad writes: “The Sultan had left only 47 dirhams as his inheritance! He left no estates, no house, no property, garden, village or cultivated area. in his burial, not even a cent was spent from his legacy; all was brought on loan, including even the grassloads for the grave. The arrangement for burial was made by his Minister Qazi Fadil by some permissible and legitimate means”. And he was the sovereign of Syria, Egypt, the Sudan, Iraq, Hijaz and almost the whole area that is now known as the Middle East. (Al-Nawadir-i- Sultania, p.) Nasiruddin Mahmood, Muzaffar Halim and Aurangzeb Alamgir: the lives of all these are excellent examples of indifference to the world and of self-denial. Even during the lifetime of the Mirza, there were numerous God-loving persons; who had no love for wordly riches, and who distributed every cent of what they received among the poor and the needy. The more people turned towards these men and the more they received by way of gifts from people, the greater was their detachment from these riches. In the life-time of the Mirza; we find such illustrious men of God, as Maulana Fazlur Rahman Ganj Muradabadi, Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Maulana Syed Abdullah Ghaznavi, Maulana Muhammad Naim Frangi Mahli, who were admirable examples of Muslim piety and austerity. (See an account of their lives in Nuzhat ul-Khawatir,Vol.VIII.)
A Sign of Prophethood
Thus, a pure, self-denying life, whose character remains unruffled by vicissitudes of poverty and wealth was not unknown to the Mirza. In fact, he reckoned it to be a proof of the truth of the Holy Prophet’s prophethood. He wrote:
“And, when after a long time, Islam became supreme he (i.e. the Holy Prophet) did not accumulate any treasure for self-enrichment and self-glorification; nor did he erect any building or monument; nor did he devise means for a life of royal ease or luxury, nor did he seize any other opportunity for personal benefit. Whatever came was all spent on taking care of the orphans and the poor, on the widows and on those in debt; as for himself, he ate not even once to his full satisfaction. (Bardhin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. 1, p. 117)
Religious Teacher or Political Leader
Now, let us attempt to study the Mirza’s life according to the above-mentioned standard, which he himself recognizes as a criterion of piety. What we note in regard to the Mirza, however, is the marked change in the two phases of his life: his earlier life of anonymity and poverty and the latter phase, when he was adored by his followers and received lavish presentations from them. Instead of finding in his conduct any resemblance to the saintly and angelic lives of the religious personalities of Islam, we find his life resembling that of world-seeking political leaders or founders of non-religious movements. In the last phase of his life (when a man is conscious that the time of his reckoning and meeting with God is close), we find him rolling in prosperity and luxury in a manner which reminds us of political careerists, rather than of sincere servants of the cause of God. This question assumed such importance that it caused uneasiness among his sincere and close followers, some of whom were, in the end, forced to give vent to their feelings of uneasiness and disgust.
Family Life of the Mirza
Among the followers, Khwaja Kamluddin was particularly suspicious and discontented with the luxurious way in which the Mirza’s family lived. He mentioned to his friends that the ladies of his own family, who had observed the luxurious life and the high standard of living of the Mirza’s family, were not prepared at all to make sacrifices and remain content with a simple, austere life in order to save money for the cause of the movement. Once he told Maulavi Muhammad Ali (a former Amir of the jamaat-i-Ahmadiyah, Lahore), and Maulavi Sarwar Shih Qidiyani, a noted scholar of the Qadiani movement:
“I have a question for which I have no answer. Please provide me with one. Formerly we us cad to tell our ladies that we should live the lives of the Companions who ate meager and coarse food, and were rough dress and gave away whatever they could save to the cause of God. We urged them to do the same. By means of the admonitions, we used to save some money and send it to Qadian. But when our ladies themselves went to Qadian and came to know of the actual situation by living there, they defiantly came to us and told us that we were liars. They said that they had seen the manner in which the lives of the Prophets and Companions were being lived in Qadian! Not even a fraction of the comfort and luxury enjoyed by the women in there is available to those outside (Qadian), even though their money is of their own earning while the money used by them (i.e. in Qadian) is that which is for national purposes, and is national money. Hence, they said, we were liars who had been deceiving them and that they would never again be deceived by us. Hence, they refuse to give us any money to be sent to Qadian.
Khwaji Kamaluddin also added: “There is a favourite reply which you give to the people. This cannot bold in my case, for I know things personally”. (Kashf al-ikhtilaf, p. 13 cited in Qadiani Mazhab)
Objections relating to Financial Matters
It seems that the public kitchen, which was in the charge of the Mirza himself, had caused grave doubts in the minds of many of his sincere followers. This controversy went quite far. Among those who protested the most important was Khwaja Kamaluddin. Maulavi Muhammad Ali supported him. On one occasion the Khwaja told Maulavi Mohammad Ali:
“What a shame. You are aware how arduously the money of the people is collected and then this money is not spent for the national purposes for which people donate it, after slashing off their expenditures even on their bare necessities. Instead, the money is spent to gratify personal desires. And, then, the amount of money too is quite large. It is so large that only if the money specified for public kitchen was managed properly, it alone would be sufficient to meet the requirements of those projects, which were started and then have been lying in suspense for want of funds. (Ibid., p. 15.)
These objections also reached the ears of the Mirza and he felt greatly incensed. Maulavi Sarwar Shah writes the following:
“I have reliably come to know that the Promised Messiah (upon him be the salutations and peace of God) has expressed great sorrow that despite his declaration that it is the desire of God that the management of the public kitchen remained in his hands, and that if anything else were to happen the public kitchen would come to an end, yet persons like the Khwaja are such that they constantly ask him to entrust the management of the kitchen to them and have invidious doubts about him. (Kashf al-lkhtalaj, p. 14)
Before his death, the Mirza referred with grief to the accusations of misappropriation of funds. In a letter to Maulavi Hakim Nuruddin, Mirza Bashiruddin writes:
“The Hazrat (i.e. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) said shortly before his (fatal) illness that the Khwaja (Kamaluddin) and Maualvi Muhammad Ali, etc., cast aspersions about him that he had misappropriated national fund. They should not do so, (he said) or else it would not have good consequences for them. He said that the Khwaja had brought a letter from Maulavi Muhammad Ali the same day. He added that Maulavi Muhammad Ali wrote that the expenditure on the kitchen was quite meagre and asked what happened to the rest of the thousands of rupees which had been received. When he came home, he expressed great anger and said : ‘These people consider us to be rnisappropriators. What do these people have to do with this money? If I were to disassociate myself all income would cease.’ Then (on another occasion) when a deputation had gone to collect funds for construction works, the Khwaja said to Maulavi Muhammad Ali: ‘The Hazrat (Mirza) himself lives a life of great comfort and luxury and teaches us to donate by reducing our expenses.’ To this Maulavi Muhammad Ali replied that although this could not be denied, this was an element of human shortcoming in him; and, now, why should it be essential for us to follow this element of human shortcoming in the Prophet. (Letter of Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood to Maulavi Hakim Nuruddin.)
A novel Sources of Income
One of the biggest sources of income was the sale of title to burial in the “heavenly graveyard” at Qadian. This had been instituted by the Mirza himself, who had ingenuously laid down the terms and conditions for buying the title to burial there. The high price of this title, as well as the temptation-provoking manner of announcement (For details see the Mirza’s treatise al-Wasiyat, pp. 11-23.), conjures up in one’s mind the Memories of the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church during the middle ages. This, however, gave the Qadiani head quarters a permanent and large source of income. This, in fact, developed into one of the most important departments of the Qadiani movement. Al-Fadhl, the official Qadiani mouthpiece has aptly observed: “The ‘heavently graveyard’ is such a central point of this movement and an institution or department of such dimensions that it excels in importance all other departments.” (at-Fadhl, Vol. XXIV, No. 65, dated September i5,1936.)
What has all this led to? Qadian before the partition, and now Rabwah, its successor in Pakistan, developed into a quasi-religious state. In this state, the “Prophetic family” of Qadian, and its head, Mirza Bashiruddin Alahmood, (This was written when Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood was alive and was head of the Qadiani movement.) enjoy all the appurtenances of governmental power, all the authority which is vested in a religious dictator and a despotic ruler and all those opportunities of self-indulgence which are available to the most wealthy and powerful men of today. The inner life of this “spiritual and religious centre” and the moral character of its head remind one of Hassan ibn Sabbih and his Fort of al-Mut, which was a mysterious centre of religious despotism and licentious self-indulgence in the fifth century of Hijrah. (For details see Rahat Malik, Dawr-i-Hazir ka Mahabi Amir.)
The first Khalifah of the Mirza, in Haqiqat-al-lkhtilaf, by Maulavi Muhammad Ali, p. 50. On this subject we have confined ourselves to the statements of the closest confidants of the Mirza, otherwise there is a good deal of material worth studying in such books as al-Zikr al-Hakim by Dr. Abdul Hakim.
Great Britain and the Islamic World
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the onslaught of European powers on the world of Islam had already started and their authority and influence had spread to several Muslim countries. In this eastward expansion of European nations, Britain was in the forefront. She was in the vanguard of the military advance as well as economic and political predominance over Eastern countries. India and Egypt were already under her occupation. Ottoman Turkey was one of the main fields of British diplomatic operations and conspiracies. Her political ambitions also menaced the Arabian Peninsula.
In India, the British domination had virtually been established even before 1857. The successors of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb had become idle pensioners of the British and were paralysed politically. The reins of power in the subcontinent were in the hands of the British. In 1799, the gallant career of Tipu Sultan came to an end with his martyrdom and the way was paved for further British penetration. Being confident of the stability of the British power in India, the Christian missionaries had launched upon their proselytising endeavours. The first targets of these missions were, naturally, the Muslims from whom the British had snatched their political power. The principles of Islam began to be ridiculed. The country was led to social breakdown and moral anarchy. The Islamic bases of social life were shaken. Western civilization began to make inroads into the homes of Muslims and into their hearts and minds. Atheism began to catch the imagination of educated young men and developed almost as a fad.
The reaction against all these led to the famous Indian struggle for independence of 1857, which, as it is well known, was led by the Muslims. The British emerged as the triumphant power and India became part of the imperial domains of the British Crown. The infuriated victors took their revenge to the full upon the rebellious Muslims, who were responsible for the “Mutiny”. The British launched on a policy to systematically humiliate them. They hanged many members of the aristocracy and quite a few ulama. They confiscated their awqaf (religious endowments), closed on them the avenues of respectable employment and completely weeded them out of the country’s administration. (Details are given in W. W. Hunter’s Our Indian Mussalmans and Sir Sayyid Ahmad’s Asbab-i-Baghawat-i-Hind.) Thus the Muslims had become members of a humiliated and vanquished nation. Their situation reflected the eternal reality embodied in this Quranic verse:
“Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it and make the noblest of it meanest.”
In this country, the position of the British was not merely that of ungodly and tyrannical rulers. They also represented a culture which became the mainspring of atheism, moral cynicism and social anarchy in the country. In practice, they were opposed to all those values, religious and moral standards, on which the Islamic way of life rests. They were a criminal nation whose history was replete with wrongs perpetrated against the world of Islam.
The attitude of Prophets
Now, if we were to consult the records of the prophets and their true successors and sincere followers, they clearly indicate that they have always opposed and resisted tyrants and wrongdoers and have abstained from whatever might support or strengthen such despots. The following statement of Moses (upon him be the peace of God) found in the Holy Quran is significant:
O my Lord ! For that Thou hast bestowed Thy grace on me never shall I be a help to those who Sin.”
The resentment that he had against unbelief and tyranny, and their standard bearers, is also borne out by the following prayer which he made to God in respect of Pharaoh and his courtiers:
“Our Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on Pharaoh and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of the Present, and so, Our Lord, they mislead (men) from Thy path. Deface, Our Lord, the features of their wealth and send hardness to their hearts, so that they will not Believe until they see the grievous penalty.”
God Himself instructs the believers to adopt the following attitude with regard to tyrants and oppressors :
“And incline not to those who do wrong or the Fire will seize you ; and ye have no protectors other than God; nor shall ye be helped.”
Then there is a well known Tradition:
“The best (kind of) jihad is (to proclaim) the word of Truth in the face of a tyrannical ruler.”
The Holy Prophet, his noble Companions and his true successors never cooperated with any power, which stood for falsehood and injustice. Their tongues were never soiled with praises and eulogies of tyrants. The history of Islam is replete with courageous expressions of protest and revolt against oppressors. There is no period in Islamic history and no area of the Muslim world, which has not witnessed this noble struggle.
Protagonist of the British Imperialism
But contrary to the illustrious teachings of the, Holy Quran and the spirit of Islam and in violation of the noble example of the Prophets, their companions and their followers, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be a God sent messenger, was full of praise for the greatest force of evil of his age – the British Government. He never tires of praising that very government, which had been the usurper of Islamic dominions, the greatest rival to the temporal power of Islam, and a great standard-bearer of atheism and moral degeneration. He praises the British with a vehemence which casts doubt on the motives of any conscientious man, not to say of a prophet. From the very beginning, he was so greatly concerned with praising the British that there is hardly any work of his which has remained immune from flattery. We have already noted that in his first book, Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah (vol. I) he had lavishly praised the British, had recounted their benevolent achievements and services, had assured them of Muslim loyalty, and had expressed his views against the doctrine of jihad. These trends persisted in his writings right up to the end of his life. He almost produced a whole library of books on the subject. In these books, he returned again and again to assuring the British of his unswerving loyalty and recounted the services of his family to the British, along with his own support. At a time when the feeling of Islamic self-respect was in need of being aroused and the nation needed the impulse to resist its oppressors, he again and again repeated that jihad had become out of date. Below are a few excerpts from the Mirza’s own writings to illustrate his trend of thought:
“The greater part of my life has been spent supporting and defending the British Government. And I have written so many books regarding the prohibition of jihad and obedience to the British that, were they to be gathered together, they would fill fifty book cases. Such books have been disseminated over all the countries: Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Kabul and Rum. I have always endeavoured that Muslims became true well-wishers of this Government and their hearts were purged of baseless traditions about the bloody Messiah and the bloody Messiah and those fanatical teachings which corrupt the hearts of the stupid.”(Tiryaq al-Qulub, p. 15.)
At another place, he propounds allegiance to the British as one of the two pillars of faith :
“My religion, which I have been explaining again and again, is that there are two parts of Islam: one, to obey the exalted Allah, and, second, to obey the government which has established peace and has provided its shadow of protection as against oppression. Such a government is the British Government. (“Ishtihar Government Ki Tawajjuh ke Lai’q” in Shahidat al-Oyr’an, p. 3,)
In a request to the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab on 24th February, 1893 he wrote:
“The other thing worth mentioning is that from my early age till now, when I am about sixty years of age, I have been engaged, with my pen and tongue, in an important task to turn the hearts of Muslims towards the true love and good will and sympathy for the British Government, and to obliterate the idea of jihad from the hearts of the less wise among them, since it stands in the way of cordiality and a sincere mutual relationship. And I notice that, my writings have had a tremendous influence on the hearts of Muslims and hundreds of thousands of people have changed. (Tabigh-i-Risilat, Vol. VII, P. 10.)
At another place he observes:
“I have, written scores of books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu with the view that jihad against the benevolent government was in no way justified; rather, wholehearted obedience to it was a religious duty. I had these books published at great cost and then had them distributed in Islamic countries. And I know that, these books had a great influence even in this country. The people, who owe allegiance to me, are growing into a party whose hearts are filled to the brim with sincere fidelity to the Government whose moral condition is excellent; I think they will be a boon to this country for they are wholeheartedly ready to sacrifice themselves for the government. (Arizah Baali-i-Khidmat Government Aliyah Angrezi min janab Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Saheb, cited in Mir Qasim Ali Qadiani’s Tabligh-i- Risalat, Vol. VI, p. 65. )
At yet another place he wrote:
“The service which has been rendered, for the sake of the British Government, was that I published and distributed in this country and other Islamic countries about fifty thousand books, treatises and leaflets, stating that the British Government is the benefactor of Muslims and therefore it should be the duty of every Muslim to obey it sincerely and heartily feel grateful to it and to pray for it. And, I had these books published in different languages, that is, Urdu, Persian and Arabic, and then distributed them in all the countries of Islam, so much so that I had them distributed even in the two holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, and, as far as possible, also, in the capital of Rum – Constantinople, and Syria, Egypt and Kabul and many other cities of Afghanistan. The result was that hundreds of thousands of people gave up their filty ideas about jihad, which had permeated their hearts due to the teachings of ignorant mullas. I am proud of this service which I have been able to render, and no Muslim of British India can boast of a parallel record. (Sitara-I-Kaiseriah. p. 3.)
Abrogation of jihad
The Mirza’s main concern was jihad which, indeed, had caused the greatest worry to the British, not only in India but in all Muslim countries (quite a number of which had already been occupied by the British). The Mirza proclaimed jihad to have been abrogated for ever and put forward this as the sign of his being the Promised Messiah. He proclaimed:
“Thirdly, the clock which will be installed in some part of the wall of this minaret, would signify that the people should realise that the time for the opening of the doors of the heavens has arrived. From now on, there shall be no terrestrial jihad and wars shall cease. It has been mentioned earlier in the Traditions that when the Messiah would come, wars for the sake of religion would be prohibited. From now on whosoever shall raise the sword for the sake of religion and slay the infidel’s by proclaiming himself to be a ghazi, he will be a disobedient rebel of God and His Prophet. Open Sahih al-Bukhari and read the hadith about the promised Messiah, that is, the one in which there occurs the expression which means that when the Messiah will come jihad would cease. Now the Messiah has come and it is he who is speaking to you. (Khutba-i-libamiyah, Appendix entitied lshtihar Chandah Minaratal Masih )
He regards this abrogation of jihad as the greatest object of his advent. To cite his own words:
In short, I have not come in order to stimulate war and strife. I have appeared in order to open, in the manner of the first Messiah, the doors of peace. If the foundation of peace is not amidst us, then our whole religious order is useless and it is also meaningless to believe in it. (Tiryaqal-Qulub, p. 335)
At another place, he becomes even more explicit:
“I believe that as my followers increase, the believers in the doctrine of Jihad will decrease. For, accepting me to be the Messiah and Mahdi itself means the rejection of the doctrine of jihad. (Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol, p. 17)
Citadel of the British Government
In his Arabic treatise Nurul-Haq he went as far as to say that he m-as the citadel and amulet for protecting the British Government :
I am entitled to assert that I am unique in respect, of these services. And I am entitled to say that I am an amulet and. a citadel to protect it from afflictions. My Lord has given me glad tidings and has said that He will not chastise them as long as I am among them. So, the Government has no parallel and equal to me in supporting and assisting it and the Government shall know this if it is capable of knowing people. (Nural-Haq, p. 34)
Seedling of the British
In an application submitted to the Lieutenant-governor of Punjab, on 24th February 1898, he wrote:
“I have to submit that in regard to a family which has proven itself to be loyal; had ever been prepared to make sacrifices for the Government during the last fifty years; of which the respectable officials of the exalted Government have borne weighty testimonies in their official letters about its being all long a well-wisher and servant of the British Government; which is the self-implanted seedling (of loyalty), the Government should exercise utmost caution and make all possible efforts to know about it and pay attention to it. The Government should also instruct its lower officials that they should look towards me and my group with the eyes of kindness and benevolence in view of the established -loyalty and sincerity of this family. (Tabligh-i-Risalat,Vol.VII, p.l9.)
In another application he refers to himself and his group as ‘those who had been brought up as tried and true friends of the British: those who bad earned a good name with the Government and had enjoyed its merciful kindness.’
Cause of opposition to Missionaries
The Mirza was possessed of such a profound feeling of loyalty for the British that he used to adopt numerous measures in order to assuage the deep hatred and resentment of Muslims against the British. His enthusiastic opposition to the Christian missionaries, according to his own view, was also motivated by the same desire. The efforts of these missionaries to repudiate Islam and to slander the Holy Prophet, according to the Mirza, had infuriated the Muslims and was likely to prove detrimental to the interests of the British Government.’ Hence, he showed great zeal, out of expediency and With deliberation, ‘in order that the popular Muslim fury might abate and they might somewhat calm down He writes:
I also confess that when some of the writings of priests and Christian missionaries became extremely severe and ‘exceeded moderation’ and especially when very filthy writings began to appear in Nur Afshan, a Christian paper from Ludhiana, and when these writers used, God forbid, derisive language with regard to our Prophet (upon him be the peace and benediction of Allah), I feared that in the hearts of Muslims, who are a sentimental people, these words might have a highly provocative effect. In order to subdue their indignation, I thought that the proper policy would be to write rejoinders to these writings in a somewhat harsh manner, so that the towering anger of these easily inflammable people could be suppressed and no breach of peace in the country might take place. (Tiryaq al-Qulub. Appendix 3, p. 31 entitled “A Humble Request to the Exalted Government”)
Spies of the British
The impact of these teachings, propagated with religious sanctions, was that loyalty to the British and zeal to serve it became an integral part of the Qadiani outlook and character. It is not surprising that the British Government found from among them quite a few, who sincerely and loyally served the cause of the British and did not hesitate even to shed their blood for them. In Afghanistan, there was an enthusiastic Qadiani preacher by the name of Abdul Latif. The main task that he had undertaken was to purge the Afghans of that spirit of jihad because of which the Afghans had never tolerated the rule of any non-Muslim power over their land, and which had always been a source of headache to the British. It was due to this kind of preaching that the Afghan Government executed him. Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood has mentioned this on the authority of an Italian author. He says :
“The Italian author writes that Sahibzada Abdul Latif was martyred because he preached against jihad and the Afghans had begun to fear that the spirit of freedom of the Afghans would weaken and the British would predominate. (al-Fadhl, August 6, 1925)
Had our people in Afghanistan remained silent and refrained from explaining the Ahmadi viewpoint in respect of jihad, they would not have been blameworthy from the viewpoint of the Shariat. But they fall victims of the excessive zeal they had for the British Government, they courted punishment because of the sympathy for it which they had imbibed at Qadian. (14. lbid)
In the same way, certain papers and letters were found with Mulla Abdul Hakim and Mulla Nur Ali Qadiani which proved that they were disloyal to the Afghan government and were agents and spies of the British. Al-Fadhl, the Qadiani mouthpiece, published this piece of news from Aman-i-Afghan:
“The Minister for Home Affairs of the Afghan Government has published the following announcement:
“Two persons of Kabul, Mulla Abdul Hakim Chahar Asiai and Mulla Nur Ali, a shopkeeper, had become enamoured of Qadiani beliefs and used to mislead people from the right path by preaching that creed. The people, who were angered at this, filed a suit against them. The result was that these persons having been proved guilty were transported at the hands of the people to the realm of non-existence on Thursday, Rajab 11. Against them there bad also been pending a suit for long and letters of foreigners of a conspiratorial nature and harmful to the interests of the Afghan kingdom had been captured which proved, that they had sold themselves to the enemies of Afghanistan. (Al-Fadhl, March 3,1925. )
In his address of welcome to the Prince of Wales on January 19, 1922, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood proudly mentions all these incidents making it clear that all these sacrifices were because of their loyalty to the British. (A Present to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, pp. 7-8.)
Looking at the power, consolidation and extent of the British Empire, the Mirza believed that the British power in India would remain for ever. Hence, tying up their own fate with that of the British Empire, and identifying their own future with the future of the British, seemed very wise and an act of great political farsightedness. And, indeed, from someone who is shorn of deep religious and political insight such a conclusion was not strange. It was impossible for the Mirza to foresee that not even half a century would pass after his death, when the seemingly unshakable power of the British would be shaken and the power which he considered to be “the shadow of God” and “refuge of religion” would leave India, lock, stock and barrel, and, not only that, it would collapse the world over.
‘The servile manner in which the Mirza has given expression of his loyalty to this un-Islamic, indeed, anti-Islamic power, and the zeal he has shown in preaching to the Muslims that they ought to relish their state of political enslavement as a boon, is unbecoming of the position which he claims for himself. lqbal has stressed this contradiction in some of his verses which say:
The Sheikh is a murid of the Firagi Lord,
Speaks be, though, from the heights of Badyazid.
He said : Religion’s glory lies in slavery;
And life consists of the lack of ego (khudi).
He reckoned the state of- others to be a-blessing;
Danced around the cathedral, and fell down dead.”
Sort-spokenness of the Prophets
The Prophets of God and their pious followers have always been known for their graceful and decent mode of expression, patience and calm endurance, largeheartedness and magnanimity. Benevolent even to their enemies, they returned good wishes for abuses; benediction for curses; humility for insolence; and temperance and gracefulness for niggardly meanness. Their tongues were never soiled with abusive and filthy language. To sting people by harsh satires and invidious sarcasms, to Scoff and jeer at the people, to pinch them by vulgar attacks – all these are far too low to be found in their noble lives. If they were ever forced to refute or denounce someone, they did so in clear, simple terms. They never stooped to adopt abject methods such as attacking the opponent’s birth, denigerating his lineage, or ridiculing him in the manner of a court-jester. Their expressions, whether they were in favour of someone or against him, bear the mark of the decency and elegance of their natures and the nobility of their minds. The Companions have left the following account of the Holy Prophet Mohammad’s discourse:
“The Messenger of Allah (upon him be the peace and blessings of Allah) was neither brash-tongued by nature nor by will, nor did he ever indulge in undignified talk in marketplaces.” (Tirmizi)
The Prophet himself laid down the norm of speech for the believers:
“The believer is not wont to attacking or cursing people nor lies or uses harsh and fvolgar expressions.” (Tirmizi)
On the, contrary, according to the Prophet, the characteristic of a hypocrite (munafiq) is that “whenever he quarrels, he resorts to abuses.” (Bukhari and Muslim. )
The Mirza himself admits that those who have been endowed with religious and spiritual leadership ought to be possessed of forbearance and selfcontrol, forgiveness and patience. He writes:
“Since the Imams encounter all kinds of wicked, lowly and filthy-tongued people, they have to have a moral calibre of the highest order so that they might not be stirred by egotistic anger or faitaticism and thus people are not deprived of their ‘blessings. It is a matter of great shame that someone is called “the friend of God” yet he remains afflicted with base morals and is incapable of: bearing obloquy with composure. As for a man who is called the spiritual Icader of his age (Imam-i-Zaman), if he is so thin-skinned that even the least provocative remark sends him into a fit of rage, such a person can in no way be considered the Imam of his age.” (Zururat al-Imam, p. 8. )
But contrary to the expectations raised by these words, the manner in which the Mirza has dealt with his critics – and these included some of the most respected religious scholars and spiritual leaders – brings him out as a person who lacked even the most elementary sense of decency and decorum. “Offsprings of harlots” seems to have been one of the favourite nicknames which he very often gave to his opponents. (See for example. Apna-I-Kamalat-i-Isalam, p. 547. Nur al-Haq, Vol. I, p 123. Anjam-i-Atham, p. 282, etc.)
The ‘best’ specimens is of his abuses are found in his Arabic writings – prose as well as poetry. Here are a few of them:
“Now, since these people abuse me, I have already taken off all their clothes and have reduced them to irrecognisable carcases.” (Anjam-i-,Atham, p. 158.)
“These enemies have become the swines of our wilderness and their women are even worse than bitches.” (Najm al-Huda, p. 15.)
An Arabic poem indited by the Mirza to denounce one of his opponents, Maulvi. Sa’ad Ullah of Ludhiana, is much too unseemly to be reproduced here. (Ibid. pp. 281-82)
For such illustrious religious personages of his time, as Maulan Muhammad Husain Batalawi, Maulana Sayyed Nazir Husain Muhaddith Dehlawi, Maulana ‘Abdul Haq Haqqani, Mufti ‘Abdullah Tonkwi, Maulana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri, Maulana a Ahmad Hasan Amorhi, and Hazrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, he used invectives, such as, ‘wolves and dogs’, ‘accursed satan’, ‘blind devil’, ‘the gang of abductors’, ‘the doomed’, and the accursed’, etc. (See the long letter of the Mirza in Arabic in Anjam-i-Atham, pp. 251-52.) In the same way, he composed a satirical poem about the well known scholar and spiritual leader of his time, Pir Mihr ‘Ali Shah of Golra. A few of its couplets reads:
“So I said : O Land of Golra, upon thee be curse. Thou hast been accursed because of the accursed ones; and thy abode shall be the place of torment.
“This petty man, like lowly people, has addressed me in abusive terms.. Every man is tested in the time of hostility.” ( Ijaz-i-Ahmadi, pp. 75-76.)
These abuses were often not enough to gratify him. On such occasions be would not merely curse his opponents but write the word ‘curse’ with regard to them a certain number of times. For instance, with regard to Maulana Thana’ Ullah Amritsari, he wrote the word ‘accurst’ ten times consecutively. In regard to Christians, he wrote this word one thousand times. (See Nur al-Haq, pp. 121-25)
This, indeed, makes a queer reflection on his nature.
We would close this section by reproducing just a few more examples of the Mirza’s vituperations against his opponents. Addressing the ulama he wrote:
“O debased class of Maulavis. How long will you conceal the truth? When will the time come for you to give up your Jewish habits? O tyrant Maulavis, pity be on you, that you made the cattle-like common folk drink from the same cup of falsehood of which you bad drunk.” (Anam-i-Atham, p. 2i n)
He also wrote:
Of all animals, the filthiest and most repellent is pig. But filthier than pigs are those who, owing to their base desires, conceal the testimony of truth. O corpse-eating Maulavis! O filthy spirits! Pity be on you for you have concealed the true evidence of Islam out of hostility. O worms of darkness! How can you hide the radiant rays of truth?” (Ibid).
“Will these people be prepared to swear? No, never. For they are liars and are eating the carcass of falsehood like dogs.” (bid., p. 25 n.)
This subject is neither pleasant for the author, nor palatable for the readers. We, atherefore, close the chapter leaving it for the readers to guess the bloom of the Mirza’s spring on the basis of the few flowers of his garden we have presented here as specimens.
In 1888, when the Mirza was fifty years old, he asked one of his relatives, Mirza Ahmad Beg for the hand of his young daughter, Mubammadi Begum. The Mirza made it clear that he had been commissioned by God for that task and God bad promised him, in unequivocal terms, and that this marriage would, therefore, certainly take place.
In a leaflet which was distributed on July 10, 1888 the Mirza wrote:
“The Omnipotent and Omniscient God has asked me that I should seek the hand of the elder daughter of this man (Ahmad Beg) and should tell him that good conduct and courtesy to be shown to him would depend on this (i.e. his acceptance of the marriage proposal); her marriage with me would be a source of blessing and a sign of mercy for her father and that he would have his share in all those blessings and mercies which have been laid down in the leaflet dated February 20, 1886. But, if he declines to marry her, then the girl would meet an extremely tragic end. The other person to whom she would be married would die within two and a half years after the day of wedding and so would die the father of the girl, within three years, and her household would be afflicted with discord and poverty and adversity and during the intervening period the girl would encounter several events of unpleasant and grievous nature.” ( This announcement has been reproduced in full by the Mirza in Ai’na-i-Kamalat-i-Islam, pa 286. It has also been reproduced by Qasim Ali Ahmadi in Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol. 1, pp. I I 1-18.)
In his work, lzala-i-Awham, he mentions this prophecy in the following manner :
“By way of prophecy the Exalted God revealed it to this humble one that ultimately the elder daughter of Mirza Ahmad Beg, son of Mirza, Gulam Beg Hoshiarpuri would be married to me. These people would resort to great hostility and would place obstacles in the way, but in the end, it would surely take place. The Exalted God will, by all possible means, bring her to me, whether as a virgin or a widow, and will remove all impediments and will, of necessity, fulfil this task, and none will be able to prevent it.” (Izal-i-Awham, p. 198. )
Significance of the Prophecy
This problem related to the family life of the Mirza and normally such problems should be of little interest to a historian. There are millions of people who strive for the hand of the girl of their choice. Some of them succeed, others do not. But the endeavour of the Mirza to marry this particular girl is a case of uncommon significance, in so far as the Mirza put it forth as the criterion of judging the veracity of his claim to prophethood. After mentioning his prophecy that he would ultimately marry the said girl, he said : “This should be clear to the people that there, can be no better criterion of testing our truth or falsehood than our prophecy.” ( Ai’na-i-Kamalat-i-lslam, p. 288.)
One might perhaps be inclined to think that misunderstandings in respect of the messages from the unseen world are possible, for sometimes people misinterpret these messages by mixing up the words of inspiration. In respect of this prophecy of the Mirza, however, there is no question of any such possibility. The challenging tone of the prophecy rules out all such possibilities. In his own words :
“The prophecies, which are presented before opponents for the purpose of vindicating some claim, contain a peculiar kind of light and guidance since the inspired ones, who, by concentrating their attention on God, generally succeed in having a clear concept of their meaning and nature.” (Izala-i-Awham, p. 202. )
It is also possible that some people might not attach much importance to this prophecy of the Mirza, because of his habit of making prophecies all too frequently. It is true that his writings are replete with prophecies. This particular prophecy, however, has a uniqueness of its own in so far as the Mirza put if forward as a heavenly sign and as a verdict in his favour. He not only made this prophecy the criterion of his own truth and falsehood, but also of the victory or defeat of Islam. On July 10, 1888 he announced:
“Then, when I repeatedly meditated in order to seek clarification and elaboration of the prophecy, it was made known to me that God has predetermined that the elder daughter of the addressee (i.e. Mirza Ahmad Beg) will ultimately be married to this humble one (after all irnpediments had been removed) and this event will make the irreligious people (true) Muslims, and provide guidance to the misguided. (Ai’na-i-Kamalat- i-Islam, p. 286, and Tabligh-i-Risalal, Vol. 1, p. a16.)
The original inspiration in Arabic in this connection when translated into English reads:
“They falsified our signs and they had been laughing at them for long. So, God will be your helper in dealing with those who are obstructing this task and in the end they will bring this girl to you. There is none who can put off, the words of God. Your God is Omnipotent, so that whatever happens, takes place by His will. You are with Me and I am with you; and you shall shortly reach the stage where at you shall be praised. This means that even though the stupid and ignorant people indulge in vilification and utter unbecoming words for you, out of their inner corruption and invidious understanding, but they will ultimately feel ashamed after they have witnessed the succour of God and, as a result of the manifestation of truth, there will be praise for you all round.” (Ai’na-I-Kamalta-I-Islam,p. 286; Takligh-l-Risalat, Vol. 1, p. 116.)
It was still possible for people to forget the matter. But the Mirza was so confident about the fulfilment of this prophecy that he kept on reiterating it in an increasingly forceful and confident manner. He said:
“Wait for (the fulfillment of) the prophecy mentioned in the announcement of July 10, 1888, along with which there is also appended the inspiration: ‘And they ask thee if this is true. Say: Yes, by my Lord, it is true and you can not prevent it from taking place. We have Ourselves wed thee to her. There is none to change My words. And on seeing the sign they will turn their faces aside and will say: This is a thorough deception, and a thorough magic.’ (Asmani Faisla, p. 40. )
In his letter addressed to the ulama and spiritual mentors of India an Arabic, the Mirza said :
“Predestination is bound to prevail and God has finally decreed it and so the time for it (i.e. marriage) will inevitably come. By the One who has sent to us Muhammad al- Mustafa and made him the best of messengers and the best of creatures, verily this is truth and you will see it and I shall make this news the criterion of my truth and falsehood. And I did not say this until I was informed about it from God.” (Anjam-i-Atham, p. 223)
Emphasising the significance of this prophecy and stressing it to be the sign of God, he said:
“In respect of this (prophecy), some of the fair-minded Arya authors have also borne witness that if this prophecy were fulfilled, it would indeed be an act of God. And this prophecy is against a harsh people who, it seems, have drawn the sword of enmity and spite, and whosoever knows the state they are in, will be well aware of the great significance of this prophecy. Everyone who will read the announcement, no matter how prejudiced he is, is bound to agree that the content of the prophecy is beyond the capacity of man. (Izala-i-Awham, p. 199.)
When he felt agitated about the realization of this prophecy owing to some serious illness, which caused him the suspicion of being close to death, he received fresh inspiration to reassure him.
He writes :
“Soon after this prophecy was revealed and had yet to be fulfilled (as it has not been fulfilled as yet, that is, by April 16, 1891), this humble one encountered a severe ailment bringing him so close to death that he got even his will drawn up. At that critical moment, the prophecy almost came before his eyes and it appeared that the last moment had come and that the next day would be his day of funeral. At that time he thought of this prophecy; that, may be, it had some other meaning, which he had not understood. Then, in that critical condition, he received the inspiration: This thing is truth from thy Lord. Why dost thou doubt?” (Ibid.)
Thus, the Mirza’s marriage with Muhammadi Begum was a settled matter – a matter which had been decided upon in the heavens and, hence, there was no possibility of any alteration. He announced that this was not only the criterion of his veracity, but also of the veracity of the One who had communicated it to him. And since he considered himself to be the true representative and advocate of Islam, and his own prestige to be synonymous with the prestige of Islam, he regarded the matter as one involving the victory of Islam itself.
Mirza Stoops to Conquer
But as luck would have it, Mirza Ahmad Beg spurned the proposal and decided to give his daughter in marriage to another relative of his, Mirza Sultan Muhammad. The Mirza (Ghulam) came to know of it. Owing to his exuberant enthusiasm and his intense confidence in regard to his ultimate success, the matter had already come to public knowledge. It had been mentioned in newspapers and magazines and had become an interesting topic of conversation. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims all were keenly interested in the developments relating to this case. The Mirza’s matrimonial affair had evoked even greater interest than that of the royal families. The numerous challenges which he had published from time to time had rendered the matter even more delicate and complex. The members of the girl’s family (who had religious differences with the Mirza and whose family pride had been hurt by his public announcements), categorically rejected the Mirza’s proposal. From the Mirza’s point of view, however, the matter had become so serious that the establishment of matrimonial relationship had become inevitable. He had announced the prophecy in such categorical and definite terms that it was hard for him to back out of that position or to reinterpret the prophecy to mean something else than what it apparently meant.
Theoretically, however, the Mirza believed that the inspired person should strive for the fulfillment of his own prophecies and that there was nothing incompatible between this effort and his position as the recipient of an inspired prophecy. (He writes: “If Divine revelation makes something known as prophecy, and if it is possible that a man should fulfil it without fanning up a fitnah (evil) and resorting to illegitimate means, then making efforts for the filament of such a prophecy is not only permissible, but also commendable (masnun) ” Haqiqat al-Wahi, p. 191). It was because of this view that he himself had the eastern minaret constructed at Qadian, for it had been mentioned in the Tradition concerning the return of Jesus. Following the same principle, he set out to persuade, by all possible means, the father and other relatives of Muhammdi Begum to accept his proposal. He resorted to all the means of inducement and intimidation (terrorisation) which he could possibly employ. In his request, as well as the announcement of July 10, 1888, both these aspects — inducement and intimidation — are quite evident. In the event of the acceptance of the proposal of marriage, he had promised Divine reward; whereas in the case of its rejection, he had threatened them with ruin.
The Mirza also wrote letters to the relatives of Muhammadi Begum, to her father, Mirza Ahmad Beg, to her uncle, Mirza ‘Ali Sher Beg, to her aunt and to other relatives, who could have exerted some influence on the decision about her marriage. He asked all these people, with great meekness and humility, to use their good offices in his favour. To Mirza Ahmad Beg (the father of the girl), he wrote:
“If you accept what I say it will be a matter of benevolence and gratification and kindness towards me and I will pray to the Most Compassionate One for your long life. I promise you to transfer one third of my property to your daughter and I say honestly that. I will give you whatever you will ask of me. (Kalmah-i-Fazl-i-Rahmani, by Qizi Fazl Ahmad (cited in Qadiani Mazhab). This book is a collection of the Mirza’s letters to the relatives of Muhammadi Begum. The letters are authentic and even the Mirza did not deny having written them. )
In another letter to Mirza Ahmad Beg he wrote:
“I still make a request to your honour, with humility and respect that I have for you, not to refrain from this (marriage) relationship. For this will be a means of great blessing for your daughter and the Exalted Allah will open the doors of divine grace which you do not even conceive of (Ibid.)
In a letter to Mirza ‘All Slier Beg he wrote:
“If the people of your household had joined together and tried to persuade your brother, why should he not have given his consent? Do I belong to a low caste so that it would be a shame to marry the girl to me? On the other hand, he kept on seconding my proposal, but, quite recently, I have been left at the mercy of his brother and now all have United on the question of the girl’s marriage. What do I have to do with a girl? She might be married to anyone. This was merely a test: those whom I considered to be my own and from whose daughter I wanted to have offspring and my heirs, are now thirsty of my blood. They are now after my honour and want me to be put to shame and to have a blackened face. It is up to God to dishonour whomsoever He wills. But so far as these people are concerned, they indeed want to hurl me into the fire. (kalma-i-Fazl-i-Rahmani, by Qazi Fazl Ahmad (cited in Qadiani Mazhab. )
To Mirza Ahmad he also wrote:
“You will perhaps be aware that the prophecy of this humble one has become known to thousands of people and in my opinion, there would be perhaps more than one million people who have been informed of this prophecy….. In Lahore, I found out that thousand’s of Muslims fervently pray in the mosques after (congregational) prayers for the fulfillment of this prophecy. (Ibid.)
The Mirza also came to know that ‘Izzat Bibi, his own daughter-in-law (wife of his son, Mirza Fazl Ahmad), and the mother of ‘Izzat Bibi, the wife of Mirza Ali Sher Beg (who was also the aunt of Muhammadi Begum), were opposed to the Mirza’s proposal and favoured the marriage of the girl to Mirza Sultan Muhammad. This infuriated the Mirza and he wrote the following to ‘Ali Sher Beg (the father-in-law of his son, Fazl Ahmad):
“I have already written a letter to her (i.e. to the wife of Mirza Ali Sher Beg) that if she did not give up (pursuing) her idea and did not prevail upon her brother (i.e. Mirza Ahmad Beg) to prevent this marriage (with Mirza Sultan Mohammad), then, as your own intention appears to be, my son Fazl Ahmad too will not be able to keep your daughter (‘Izzat Bibi) in his marriage. Rather, the very moment the wedding (of Muhammadi Begum) will take place, Fazi Ahmad will divorce your daughter. And if he does not divorce her, I will declare him to be no longer regarded as my son and will disinherit him. ‘But if for my sake you oppose Ahmad Beg and try to prevent him from carrying out his design, then I am at your disposal on all counts with my heart and soul. Fazl Ahmad is still obedient to me. I will convince him in every way possible and will endeavour to rehabilitate your daughter. Then whatever I have shall belong to her.” (Kalma-i-Fazl-i-Rahmani.)
The Mirza also prevailed upon ‘Izzat Bibi, his daughter-in-law, to write to her mother that, if they did not change their mind, the Mirza would have her husband divorce her and thus ruin her family life.(Ibid)
After Muhammadi Begum’s marriage, Fazl Ahmad did divorce Izzat Bibi. Another son of the Mirza, Sultan Ahmad, and his mother, were also of the same view as the members of Muhammadi Begum’s family. Hence, consistent with what he had said earlier, the Mirza declared Sultan Ahmad to be no longer regarded as his son. Besides, he disinherited him and divorced his mother. (Tabligh-i-Risala, Vol, Il, p. 9.)
However, even after the marriage of Muhammadi Begum to Mirza Sultan Muhammad (on April 7, 1892) the Mirza did not despair. He kept on saying that ultimately the girl would become his wife. In 1901, he made the following statement under oath :
“It is true that that woman has not been married to me. But she will certainly be married to me as has been stated in the prophecy. She has been married to Sultan Muhammad, I say truly that in this court (i.e. the world) where people have laughed at things which were not from me, but from God, a time will come when the events will take a strange turn and the heads of all will be downcast with remorse.
“The woman is still alive. She will inevitably come to my wedlock. I expect this to happen, rather, I have full faith in this. These are divinely-ordained matters and are bound to-occur.” (Al-Hukm, August 10, 1901 (cited in Qadiani Mazhab and Tahqiq-i-Lathani)
In his first announcement, the Mirza had prophesied that the person, to whom Muhammadi Begum would be married, would die within two and a half years after the marriage. This period elapsed and Mirza Sultan Muhammad remained alive, enjoying a happy married life. This forced the Mirza to extend the lease of his life. In his announcement of September 6, 1896 he wrote:
“The time for divine punishment is conditionally predestined, which can be put off by fear (of God) and turning (towards God), as the whole of the Quran testifies. But so far as it relates to the prophecy, that is, the marriage of that woman to this humble one, that is assuredly predestined and cannot be waived off, for, in the Divine revelation it is clearly stated that ‘My words will never change’. For, if they were to change, the words of God would be false. Tabigh-i-Risalat, Vol, 111, p. 115.)
In the same announcement, he explains another reason for the postponement of his prediction:
“The Quran tells us that the duration indicated in such prophecies belongs to the category of conditional predestination. Hence, owing to the appearance of factors causing some change or alteration postponement of the stipulated term and period does take place. This is Divine Law and the Quran is replete with this. Hence, for every prophecy which is made through inspiration or revelation, it is essential that its fulfillment should conform to the Divine Law, as embodied in the Books of the Exalted God. And, at the present time, another benefit aimed at from this is that those aspects of Divine knowledge which have been lost sight of by the people should once again be manifested and thus insight into the Quran should be renovated.” (Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol. III, p. 117.)
Thus, the Mirza insisted that his prophecy was true and he had no doubt about its ultimate fulfillment. He again insisted that :
“I say again and again that the prophecy about the son-in-law of Ahmad Beg (i.e. Sultan Muhammad), is assuredly predestined. Wait for it. If I am a liar, this prophecy will not be fulfilled and my death will come.” (Anjam-i-Atham, p. 31n.)
Mirza Sultan Muhammad had a long life. He took part in the first world war. He was wounded during the war but survived and remained alive long after the Mirza had died.
As for the Mirza, he died in 1908 and his wedding, which according to him had taken place in the heavens, could not take place on the earth. In the opinion of his more staunch followers, however, nothing can as yet be said unequivocally; for, so long as human life is in existence, there is still possibility of the realization of this prophecy. Hakim Nuruddin, the successor of the Mirza, has given a queer explanation of the matter, but very much in tune with Qadiani casuistry. In the ‘Review of Religions’, he wrote the following in connection with the death of the ‘Promised Messiah’ :
“Now, I would like to remind all the Muslims who have had and still have faith in the Noble Quran that since those addressed in it include also their offsprings, successors and those like them, then, can this prophecy not include the daughter of Ahmad Beg or the daughter of that daughter? Does your law of inheritance not apply the regulations regarding daughters to their daughters? And are the offsprings of the Mirza not his agnates? I had often told dear Mian Mahmood (Mian Bashiruddin Mahmood, a son of the Mirza and the second head of the Qadiani movement after Hakim Nuruddin) that even if the Mirza were to die and this girl did not enter into his wedlock, my adoration of him would remain unshaken.” (Review of Religions, Vol. VII, no. 726, June and July, 1908, p. 279 (cited from Qadiani Mazhab))
Part IV – A Critical Analysis of the Movement
One of the illusions about Qadianism is that its emergence merely signifies the addition of one more sect to the large number of already existing sects and schools in Islam and that the followers of Qadianism are, at the most, a new sect. Thus, the popular impression is that Qadianism does not represent a unique phenomenon in the history of Muslim sects and juristic schools.
A careful study of Qadianism is bound to shatter this illusion and to convince every unbiased student that Qadianism is a religion by itself, and the Qadianism a separate religious community (ummah), parallel to Islam and the ummah of Islam. The following statement of the Mirza, which has been cited by the former head of Qadiani movement, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood appears to contain no exaggeration. He said:
“The words, which came out from the lips of the Promised Messiah, keep on reverberating in my ears. He said that it was wrong that our disagreement with others lay merely on the questions of the death of the Messiah or certain other similar issues. He mentioned in detail that we differed from them in respect of the Essence of Allah, in respect of the Holy Prophet (upon him be the peace and benediction of God), in respect of the Quran, of prayers, of fasting, of pilgrimage, and, in short, in respect of each and every part (of religion). (Khutba (Sermon) of Friday, al-Fadhl, July 3, 1931.)
Mirza Mahmood also affirmed that owing to these differences the first caliph of the Mirza had declared that “their Islam (i.e., the Islam of Muslims) is different from our Islam. (Khutba (Sermon) of Friday, al-Fadhl, December 3, 1914)
In the entire history of Islam, there is one movement alone which appears to bear some resemblance to Qadianism in the sense that, while it kept its activities confined to Muslims, it attempted to found a system of beliefs and practices parallel to that of Islam, and thus endeavoured to build, as if it were, a state within the state. This was the Batinite or Ismailite movement with which Qadianism bears a striking resemblance. (See Dr. Zahid Ali: Hamara Ismai’li Mazhab aur us ka Nizam.)
The Qadiani movement tries to build a new structure of religious beliefs and practices as distinguished from that of Islam. It tries to give an orientation of its own to all aspects of religious life. It provides its followers with a new prophet, a new focus of devotion and loyalty, a new religious mission, a new spiritual centre, and a new set of holy places, new religious rituals, new leaders and new heroes. It is this feature of Qadianism which marts it out from all other schools and sects, which exist side by side within the bosom of Islam, and raises it to the-level of a full-fledged independent religion. It definitely tends to lay the foundations of a new ummah on the basis of new religious teachings, and a new mould of religious life. The result is that for those who enthusiastically choose to join the fold of this movement, the old institutions and personalities which claimed their devotion, are replaced by new ones, and thus they develop into an ummah all by themselves, independent of all others and, by virtue of their peculiar connaturality of emotional predilections, outlook and the resultant veneration for the new religious institutions formed around Qadianism. This tendency towards isolation, this trend to distinguish themselves from the Muslims has been a part of Qadianism from the very beginning and has since gone the whole length that the Qadiani have now become wont to compare Qadiani rituals and holy places with Islamic rituals and holy places, declaring the former to be parallel and equal to the latter. The companions of the Holy Prophet, for instance, occupy a central position in the religious system of Islam. The Qadianis place the companions of the Mirza on the same pedestal as the companions of the Holy Prophet. A responsible Qadiani reflects this trend of thinking in the following words:
“To make distinction between the two groups, that is, the companions of the Holy Prophet and those of the Mirza, or to declare either of the two to be superior, on the whole, to the other, is not right. In fact both these groups are part of a single group: the difference is one of time alone, They had been trained under the earlier Prophet while these got instruction at the time of the later prophetic advent.” (Al-Fadhl, May 28, 1918. )
In the same manner, they consider the grave of the Mirza to be similar and comparable to the resting place of the Holy Prophet. Al-Fadhl, published on behalf of the Training Department of Qadian, once deplored the religious insensitivity of those who came to Qadian to participate in the religious conference, etc. and yet did not pay a visit to the grave of the Mirza.
“What is the state of the man who comes to Qadian, tile Abode of Security (Darul-Aman), and does not bother to go a couple of steps further to pay a visit to the Heavenly Cemetery: in it is that purified grave (Rawdha-i-mutahharah) (It is significant that the same term is generally used by the Urdu ; peaking Muslims for the grave of the Holy Prophet.) wherein lies buried the body of that chosen one of God to whom the most superior of all prophets sent his salams, and with regard to whom the Khatim al-Nabyin said: “He will be buried beside me in my grave. Thus, the radiance of the Green Dome of Medina is reflecting itself on this White Dome where one can partake of the blessings which are peculiar to the radiant resting place of the Holy Prophet (upon him be the peace and blessings of Allah). How unfortunate is the man who, in the Great Pilgrimage (Hajj-i- Akbar) of Ahmadism, should remain deprived of this blessing. (Al-Fadhl, Vol. X No. 48. )
Owing to the religious and spiritual importance of the township of Qadian in Qadianism, being the nursery of a new prophethood and the new centre of ‘Islam’, the Qadianism reckon it among the holy places of Islam such as Mecca and Medina, and never fail to mention it along with them. In one of his speeches Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood said:
“By venerating Medina we do not affront the House of Kabah. In the same way, when we venerate Qadian, we do not affront Mecca or Medina ……….. The Exalted God sanctified all these three place and chose them for the manifestation of His Light.” (Al-Fadhl, September 3, 1935)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had himself drawn a parallel between Qadian and the Holy land of Mecca. In one of his couplets he said:
“The land of Qadian is now a place of veneration. Thanks to the rush of people, it is now a sacred area.” (Durr-i-Thamin, p. 52)
The Mirza even thought that Qadian has been referred to in the Quran itself, that the far-away Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Aqsa) mentioned in the Quran. (xvII. 1) refers to the ‘Mosque of the Promised Messiah’ in Qadian. He wrote:
“In the same way as God had taken the Holy Prophet specialty from the sanctified Mosque (in Mecca) to Jerusalem, so He also shifted him temporally from the time of the Glory of Islam, the time of the Prophet himself, to the time of the blessings of Islam, the time of the Promised Messiah. Hence from this point of view, which is the spiritual transportation of the Holy Prophet to the extremity of the time of Islam, the far-away Mosque (al-Masjid al-Aqsa) means the mosque of the Promised Messiah which is located in Qadian and in respect of which, in Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah, God has said: “Blessed, blessed and every blessed thing We shall make therein.” And this word ‘mubarak’ (blessed) which has been used nominatively, is in accord with the Quranic verse ‘And We blessed that which is around it.’ Therefore, there is not the least doubt that there is reference to Qadian in the Quran.” (Tazkirah tor Mujmu’ah-i-Wahy-i-Muqaddas, pp. 345 46)
The logical consequence of these beliefs was that the followers of the Mirza developed the practice of making annual pilgrimage to Qadian and they began to regard this act as sacredotal as the Hajj itself. It is no surprise that the Qadiani leaders proclaimed visits to Qadian to be a “shadow of the Hajj”, and, for those who are incapable of going to Mecca, they proclaimed it to be Its substitute. Mirza Bashiruddain Mahmood said:
“Those alone who have resources and are rich can go on pilgrimages. Although in the beginning divine movements spread and flourished among the poor, only those who have resources and are rich are able to go on pilgrimage. The poor are exempted by the Shariah. Therefore, God fixed a Zilli Hajj so that those whom He wants to employ in the progress of Islam, and the poor, that is, the Muslims of India, should be able to participate in it.” (Al-Fadhl, December 1, 1932)
In this regard the Qadianis went so far as to rate these visits to Qadian even higher than the pilgrimages to the Mecca. This, too, was a natural corollary of their belief in Qadiansm as a new religion, which has its own centre of gravity and has undertaken to provide religious sustenance to its followers. It is for this reason that a Qadiani leader observed:
“In the same way as the former Islam without Ahmadism, that is, without Hazrat Mirza Sahib, is a dry Islam, so is the Meccan Hajj a dry Hajj without this Hajj, because in these days the objectives of Hajj are not fulfilled there.” (Paygham-i-Sulh, Vol, XXI, No. 22)
This trend among the Qadianis to assert their distinct entity and their consciousness of being the followers of a new religion and their feeling that Qadianism had opened a new phase in history reached such a point that they even introduced a new calendar of their own which has special names of the months. The twelve months of the Qadiani calendar, according to its official organ, al-Fadbi, are as given here Salh, Tabligh, Aman, Shahadat, Hijrat, Ihsan, Wafa, Zuhor, Tabuk, Ikha, Nubuwat, Fath.
Thanks to this isolationist trend and the belief in a new prophethood, the spiritual, intellectual and political centre of the Qadianis soon ceased to be the Arabian peninsula with its holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Then loyalties began to turn instead towards Qadian, the birth-place of the new religion. It was natural that the Qadianis should became increasingly cool towards Arabia. Hence, those Indian nationalists, who felt that the idea of the one nationhood of India was threatened. by the fact that a great part of the Indian population was deeply attached to a foreign country and its religious centre, its spiritual personalities, its holy places and its most cherished memories of history all lay outside the boundaries of India, felt greatly relieved in so far as Qadianism was a purely Indian movement and its spiritual centre lay not outside, but within India. This appeared to them as a very salutary development: a factor which could help the development of a common nationhood in the country.
This orientation of Qadianism was for obvious reasons welcomed with great zest by those nationalists of India who have always complained that Hijaz has been the real centre of the loyalty of Muslims and that they are always wont to look towards Arabia. To such people this movement appeared as a new ray of hope. A Hindu writer, Dr. Sbanker Das Mehra, has very ably represented this standpoint. He has clearly grasped the change in outlook that results from embracing Qadianism. He has also realised the fact that instead of being an Islamic sect, the Qadianis believe in an independent religion and constitute a separate religious community, and that they are engaged in propagating a new religion and building a new community. Dr. Mehra writes:
“The most important question that confronts the country is in what way can national feeling be inspired among the Indian Muslims. At times pacts and agreements are concluded with them, at times we bargain with them, and at times attempt is made to persuade them to unite. But nothing proves of any avail. The Indian Muslims have come to consider themselves a separate nation and they keep on singing praises of Arabia, day in and day out. Had they the power, they would christen India as Arabia. In this darkness, in this state of despair, the Indian nationalists and patriots see only one glimmer of hope. That glimmer of hope is the movement of Ahmadis. The more Muslims will be attracted towards Ahmadism, the more they will begin to consider Qadian to be their Mecca and will become, in the end, lovers of India and true nationalists.
“The progress of Ahmadism among Muslims can alone deal a death-blow to the Arabic culture and Pan-Islamism. Let us study the Ahmadi movement from the national point of view. From the land of Punjab there arises a man, Mirza Gulam Ahmad Qadiani, and summons the Muslims:
“O Muslims! I am the prophet whom God has promised to send in the Quran. Come! Gather under my banner. If you don’t come, God will not forgive you on the day of judgement and you will abide in hell.
“Without entering into any discussion about the truth or falsehood of this claim of the Mirza, I would like to point out the change that takes place when a Muslim becomes a Mirzai. A Mirzai Muslim holds it as his, creed that:
(1) From time to time God sends someone to guide people. Such a person is the prophet of his time.
(2) During the time when moral confusion prevailed in Arabia God sent Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) as His Prophet to that country.
(3) God felt the need of a prophet again and so He sent the Mirza in order that he should guide the Muslims.
“My nationalist brethren will ask : What have these beliefs to do with nationalism? The reply is that when a Hindu becomes a Muslim, his loyalty and devotion are transferred to the land of Arabia; similarly, when a Muslim becomes an Ahmadi, his angle of vision changes. His devotion to Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) begins to decrease. Besides, if his caliphate had been in the past in Arabia and the land of the Turks, now it comes to Qadian. Mecca and Medina then remain holy places for him ‘merely in a traditional sense.
“An Ahmadi, whether he is in Arabia, Turkistan, Iran or in any corner of the world, turns towards Qadian for spiritual salvation. The land of Qadian is the land of salvation for him and therein lies the secret of the superiority of India.
“Every Ahmadi will have love for India for Qadian is in India. The Mirza, too was an Indian and his Caliphs who are leading this sect till now are all Indians.”
“This is the one reason why Muslims look at the Ahmadi movement with suspicion. They know that Ahmadism is hostile to Arabic culture and Islam. In the Khilafat movement too Ahmadis did not join hands with Muslims. For, instead of Turkey or Arabia, they want to establish the Khilafat at Qadian. This fact, no matter how disappointing to the common Muslims who are always dreaming of Pan-Islamism and Pan-Arab solidarity, is a matter of great joy for a nationalist.” (Dr. Shankar Das Mehra’s article in Bande Matram, April 22, 1932, (cited in Qadiani Mazhab, by Prof. Iyas Barni).
The belief, that religion has now been perfected, that Muhammad (peace be on him) is the last messenger of God, and that Islam is the last message of God to mankind and the most perfect way of life, is a Divine gift and an bonour conferred exclusively on this a ummah. It is for this reason that a Jewish scholar had said to Hazrat Umar (may God be pleased with him) that there was averse in the Quran Which the Muslims recite. Had that verse been found in the Jewish Scripture, they would have regarded the day of its revelation as a day of national rejoicing and celebration. This Jewish scholar was referring to the Quranic verse which proclaims the termination of prophethood and the perfection of Divine benediction:
This clay have I perfected your religion for you, completed, My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.
Umar did not dispute the majestic glory of this Divine proclamation. He only said that the Muslims needed no new celebration for the verse had been revealed on a day which is a day of great devotion and congregation in Islam. The day on which this verse had been revealed was the day of two Ids: the Day of Arafah and Friday.
Security Against Intellectual Chaos
This creed has stood as a great barrier against the disintegrating movements which arose from time to time in the wide expanse of the world of Islam. It is this creed which prevented Islam from becoming a plaything of false pretenders to prophethood and hypocrites. This creed has been like a fortress wherein this ummah took refuge from the inroads of imposters and adventurers who tried to demolish the entire structure of Islam and to replace it by a new structure. It is, again, this very creed which maintained the religious and ideological unity of this ummah to an extent no other prophet’s ummah has been able to do in the past. Had this creed not been there, Muslims would have disintegrated into numerous ummahs, each of which would be having a separate centre of spiritual inspiration, a distinct heritage of cultural traditions and history, and a different set of heroes.
Implications of the Termination of Prophethood
The belief that prophethood has been terminated is a matter of great honour and distinction for mankind. This, in effect, proclaims that mankind has reached the age of maturity and attained the capacity to respond to the last message of God. It means that human beings no longer require any fresh revelation and further heavenly communication. This belief inspires self-confidence. For man knows that religion has assumed its perfect and final form and man need no longer look backwards; that humanity need no longer look towards the heavens for fresh revelation; rather, it should now direct its efforts to make good use of the resources created by God. And in trying to fashion its life according to the fundaments of religion and morality, it has to look now only towards the earth and towards its own self. This creed directs the vision of man to the future. It provides an incentive for the creative utilization of man’s capabilities. It fixes for man the right goal and points to the direction in which man should proceed for the achievement of that goal. Without this creed, man would be in a state of doubt, diffidence and hesitation. He would always be looking towards the heavens, instead of looking towards the earth. He would always feel uneasy about his future. Every now and then some pretender would rise to tell him that “the garden of humanity had remained incomplete” and that it was his advent which had given it its full bloom; leaving man to remain diffident that if it had remained imperfect so far, what was the guarantee for the future! Thus, instead of striving to water that garden, he would always remain waiting for some gardener to come out from above and do the needful.
Among the different anti-Islamic movements which have arisen in our history, Qadianism is unique. For, if other movements bad been directed against Islam as a whole, Qadianism is a conspiracy which is specifically directed against the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be on him) and challenges the finality of Islam and the unity of Muslims. By repudiating the finality of prophethood, Qadianism obliterated the very borderlines which distinguish this ummah from all others. Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal has clearly brought out the innovation impudently set afloat by Qadianism:
“Islam is essentially a religious order which has defined limits, that is, belief in the Unity and Omnipotence of God, faith in the prophets and termination of prophethood on the advent of His last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). Faith in the last mentioned creed is, in reality, the distinguishing feature between a Muslim and a non-Muslim and a determinant whether a certain individual or group forms part of the Muslim community or not. Take, for example, Brahmo Samaj, which has faith in God and acknowledges Muhammad as a Prophet of God, but its votaries cannot be treated as Muslims, for, like the Qadianis, they believe in the continuance of revelation and do not regard the Prophet of Islam as the Last Prophet. As far as I am aware, no sect of Islam has ever tried to go beyond this line of demarcation. In Iran, the Bahaites denied this essential creed but they also confessed that they constituted a distinct religious order and were not a sect of the Muslims. We believe that Islam, as a religion, has been revealed by God; but, Islam, as a social order, owes its existence to the person of the Blessed Prophet. The Qadianis have, in my opinion, only two ways open to them. They should either follow the Bahaites or accept the creed in regard to finality of Muhammad’s prophethood in toto, with its fill implications, and give up those far-fetched interpretations which are designed to let them remain within the fold of Islam with a view to enjoying political benefits.” (Iqbal : Haf-I-Iqbal, pp. 136-37. )
In another article on the subject, Sir Muhammad Iqbal wrote:
“Muslims are unusually sensitive in regard to those movements which pose a danger to their unity. Therefore, every religious group which deems itself historically associated with Islam, but has its bases in a new prophethood, and, treats every Muslim not having faith in its revelations as a non-believer, would be regarded by the Muslims as a danger to the unity of Islam. This is because the sense of Islamic unity springs from the belief in the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood.” (Ibid. pp. 122-23)
He adds in the same article that:
“It is obvious that Islam which claims to unite its different sects on the basis of a uniform creed for all, cannot show any sympathy to a movement which presently endangers its own solidarity and is fraught with the danger of further dissension to humanity in future.” (Ibid. pp. 122-23)
Proliferation of Prophets
The natural outcome of the Mirza’s preaching against the idea of the finality of prophethood was that the halo of sanctity and veneration, honour and dignity around the office of prophethood was gone. The eloquence he waxed on stressing that the process of prophethood had not stopped, the importance be attached to “inspiration”, enhancing it to be considered the basis of prophethood, was bound to reduce prophethood to a child’s play, even though his argument supporting the continuity of prophethood was, confined merely to his own case and – he considered himself to be the, last prophet. To borrow the remarks of Iqbal:
“The founder’s own argument, quite worthy of a medieval theologian, is that the spirituality of the Holy Prophet of Islam must be regarded as imperfect, if it is not creative of another prophet. He claims his own prophethood to be an evidence of the prophet-rearing power of the spirituality of the Holy Prophet of Islam. But if you further ask him whether the spirituality of Muhammad is capable of rearing more prophets than one, his answer is “No”. This virtually amounts to saying, “Muhammad is not the last Prophet, I am the last.” Far from understanding the cultural value of the Islamic idea of finality in the history, of mankind generally and of Asia especially, he -thinks that finality, in the sense that no follower of Muhammad can ever reach the status of Prophethood, is a mark of imperfection in Muhammad’s Prophethood. As I read the psychology of his mind he seems to be interested only in his own claim to Prophethood; for he avails himself of what he describes as the creative spirituality of the Holy Prophet of Islam, but, at the same time, limits this spiritual creative capacity to the rearing of only one prophet, i.e., the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement. In this way the new prophet quietly steals away the finality of one whom he claims to be his spiritual progenitor.” (Speeches and Writings of Iqbal, pp. 150-51.)
What eludes the grasp of people of normal intelligence is the confinement of Muhammad’s prophet-rearing spirituality to one person alone and that it should have produced no-results during the thirteen hundred years prior to the advent of the Mirza and that it is not capable of producing any other prophet in the future! It is this logic of things which has made Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood to make the following observation:
“The Exalted God says about the unbelievers that they did not form a true estimate of Allah and have come to think that the treasures of God have become exhausted and hence He mould not now give anything to anybody. In the same way, (such people) say that no matter bow much a man advances in righteousness and piety and even if he goes ahead of several prophets in divine gnosis and spirituality, God will never, never make him a prophet. This concept is owing to a mis-estimation of God, otherwise I say that not one but thousands of prophets will be born.” (Anwar-i-Khalafat, p. 62)
This trend of denying the finality of prophethood emboldened several people to lay claim to prophethood. So far as we know about the history of Muslim India, there had been none except Akbar who has had the cheek to deny the finality of prophethood and try to promote a new religion. However, even Akbar had not done all that with the outspokenness and vehemence of the Qadianis. The door of prophethood flung open by the Mirza attracted Many an adventurer and pretender. In 1355/1936 Professor Ilyas Barni mentioned seven such pretenders. However, were one to undertake a thorough census of the pretenders in the province of. Punjab alone even their number would be much more than seven. This sudden proliferation of ‘prophets’ caused concern even to the Qadianis and Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood remarked:
“Look at the number of claimants to prophethood who have arisen from the ranks of our own party. Of these, but for one, I believe that none of these is consciously lying. The fact is that in the beginning they received inspirations and it would be no surprise if they receive them even now. But the mishap was that they erred in the interpretation of their inspirations. I personally know some of these people and I can testify that they possessed sincerity and fear of God. The Exalted God alone knows how far this opinion is correct, but in the beginning they were sincere. A part of their inspirations was from God, but the mistake was that they did not grasp the wisdom of the inspirations and foundered.” (Al-Fadhl, January 1, 1935)
Dissension Among Muslims
The very idea of the extent to which Muslims will become divided among themselves and the tragic disintegration that will follow as a result of the rise of these new prophets makes a Muslim tremble with fear. Secular trends of thought have made people disinclined to make claims of divinity and prophethood. What would happen, however, if the writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the preachings of his followers awaken this idea and there is a proliferation of ‘prophets’ all over the Muslim world; and each ‘prophet’ begins to denounce all those who do not come tinder his banner as Kafirs. What a colossal intellectual, and religious chaos would follow? The world of Islam would become divided into different hostile religious camps and who knows if Muslims too will not experience the religious wars which devastated Europe a few centuries ago. Thus, the ummah which had been raised in order to weld the whole of humanity into one fraternity would itself become divided against itself. This danger was realized by one of the followers of the Mirza, Maulavi Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali did not realise, however, that the door to this danger had been opened by his leader, the Mirza himself. For, in the history of Islam, the Mirza is the only person who initiated a full-fledged movement to prove the unceasing continuity of prophethood. Anyhow, the views of Muhammad Ali are noteworthy:
“Reflect, for the sake of God, that if the belief of Mian Sahib (That is, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood. In fairness, however, it should be noted that Mahmood was not the proponent of this idea; he merely reiterated the views of his leader and father Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.) is accepted that the prophets will continue to come and that thousands of prophets will come, as he has written explicitly in Anwar-i-Khilafat, will not these thousands of groups denounce one another as Kafir? And so, what will happen to Islamic unity? Let us assume that all those prophets will be confined to the Ahmadi group alone. Then, how many factions will there be in the Ahmadi group After all, you are aware of what happened in the past, how one of these groups became favourable to and another opposed to the Prophet after his advent. Then, will that very God who has expressed the will to unify all the peoples of the world at the hands of Muhammad (peace and blessings of God. be on him), will He now divide Muslims into numerous factions, each one of them calling the other Kafir, having no Islamic relationship and unity among themselves. Remember that if the promise to make Islam predominant over all religions, in the future is true, then that tragic day when thousands of prophets will go about with their own separate factions, when there will be thousands of separate exclusive mosques, each with its own group of mentors of true belief and salvation, denouncing all other Muslims as infidels, will never dawn in the history of Islam. (Ridd-i-Takfir-I-Ahl-i-Qiblah, pp. 49-50)
A Dangerous Hypothesis
A hypothesis of the Mirza which causes unrest in a Muslim’s mind and opens the door of chaos and anarchy in Muslim society is his view that “Divine revelations and communications” are essential for the validity of a religion and a natural outcome of obedience to God and earnest endeavour in His way. In his view, the religion in which “Divine revelations and communications” do not continue unceasingly is a dead and false religion; rather it is a Satanic religion which leads towards the hell. If the followers of a religion , who apply themselves to the practice of austerities and devotion remain deprived of the honour Divine illumination despite hard efforts and sacrifices in the way of God, they are misguided, unfortunate and blind. In Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah (Vol. V), he wrote:
“What honour, what position, what influence and what Divine strength does that prophet possess, whose followers are merely blind, sightless people, whose eyes have not been opened by Divine communication? How stupid and false is it to believe that after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him), the door of Divine revelation has been closed for ever; and in the future, till the Day of judgement, there is no hope of it being opened again. Keep on worshipping mere fables and stories! Can such a religion, in which there is no direct relationship with God, be a religion in the real sense of the term. What then remains in such a religion except paying devotion to mere fables. Even if a person were to sacrifice his life in His way, even if he were to lose himself completely in striving to gratify Him and prefer Him to everything, even then He does not open the door of His knowledge and does not honour him with communication! I swear in the name of Exalted God that there would be none in this age who would be more averse to such a religion than I. I call such a religion Satanic and not a Divine one, and believe that such a religion leads to hell.” (Brahin-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. V, p. 183)
Assuming “Divine communication” as essential for knowledge and salvation and holding it up as the criterion for the truth and veracity of a religion, the Mirza turned religion into a highly complicated and an immensely straitened affair even though God had made it simple and practicable. God says:
“God intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you to difficulties.”
“And has imposed no difficulties on you in religion. (XXII. 78)
” On no soul doth God place a burden greater than it can bear.” (II. 286)
But if Divine communication is essential for knowledge and salvation, there can be nothing more difficult than religion. For, by nature, an overwhelming majority of people are not disposed to that kind of communication. No matter bow hard they try, the door of Divine communication will always remain closed for them. Then, there are those, who do have a natural predilection for this, and others there are who do not have the leisure or the Divine help to undertake the vigorous striving essential for such a spiritual achievement. The universal religion which has been designed for the salvation of the whole of mankind and summons all towards God cannot possibly impose such impossible conditions for obtaining the knowledge of God, His propinquity and blessings and salvation.
If one were to study the Holy Quran from one end to the other, one could never find direct communication from God mentioned as an attribute of the believers or of those who merit salvation. Instead, one finds verses which mention characteristics such as those given in the following verses.
“The Believers must (eventually) win through: those who humble themselves in their prayers)” (xxIII:1-2)
“And the servants of the Merciful (God) are those who walk on the earth in humility.” (xxv: 63)
Or one might even turn the first page of the Quran to find these verses:
“Alif, Lam, Mim. This is the Book; in it is guidance, sure, without doubt, to those who fear God; who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them.” (xI, 1-3).
Nowhere does one find Divine communication mentioned in the Quran as essential for being rightly guided or for achieving salvation. On the contrary, the stress is primarily on faith in the Unseen. And faith in the Unseen means a man’s acceptance of facts relating to supra-physical matters which can not be grasped by reason or senses alone, an acceptance based on faith in God’s prophet (who had been chosen by God for His revelations). Now, if one were to accept the Mirza’s view that Divine communication is essential for true knowledge and salvation, the need for faith in the Unseen becomes superfluous and the persistent Quranic stress on it difficult to comprehend. Furthermore, we have before us the lives of the illustrious companions of the Holy Prophet. One might ask: how many of them were honoured by Divine communication? How many can be proved by history or Hadith (Traditions) to have enjoyed that privilege? Nobody who knows the history of those times and understands the temperaments and the circumstances of those people – in fact, no one who grasps human psychology and nature can say that these companions of the Prophet of God – and their number exceeds the figure of one hundred thousand – had enjoyed Divine communication. When such is the case in respect of the companions, what can be said of those who came after them?
Repudiation of Prophethood
The concept of Divine communication as mentioned above was, in fact, a hidden conspiracy, a clandestine revolt against prophethood as such. If this process were to be considered a widespread one and one of unceasing continuity, prophets would no longer remain necessary at all. The Quran and other scriptures link true guidance, knowledge of God, of His Attributes, of His will and all matters relating to the Unseen world, with prophethood. The Quran mentions, in the words of the truly-guided believers:
“Praise be to God who hath guided us to this (felicity): Never could we have found guidance, had it not been for the guidance of God. Indeed, it was the truth that t e Apostles of our Lord brought unto us.”(VII : 43)
At another place, while refuting polytheistic and pagan notions, God says :
“Glory to thy Lord, The Lord of Honour and Power; (He is free) from what they ascribe (to Him). And peace be on the Apostles. And Praise be to God, the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds!” (xxxvii.: 180: 82)
The Quran also explains the purpose of the advent of prophets as follows:
“That mankind after (the coming of) the Apostles, should have no plea against God.” (iv : 165)
If one were to examine carefully the concepts preached by the Mirza regarding the continuity of Divine communication and takes note of his view that it was essential for one’s salvation, it would reveal not only a spirit of revolt against the finality of prophethood, but would reveal symptoms against the very idea of prophethood. In fact, if these concepts were to be taken seriously, religious faith would become something akin to the spiritual feats such as occultism which are becoming popular in the present times.
Source of Divine communication
Then, what is the criterion of these communications? And what is the guarantee that these communications did not reflect either the inner being of the person himself, or his environment, or his peculiar upbringing, or his subconscious desires or else the complex of factors related to his heredity? Those who have studied the ancient collections of these communications know that the bulk of them consists of completely erroneous hypotheses and concepts which had their origin in ancient mythology. Look at the spiritual experiences and Divine communications of the neo-Platonists of Egypt. Were they not merely geared to the support of the idolatrous mythology and philosophical hypotheses of the time? Even during the Islamic period, some of the people, who had a deep faith in things such as Divine communication and craved for gnosis, mention having met Aristotle and having talked to him, which reflects the peculiar mental outlook of ancient philosophy or Greek mythology. And if one studies the Divine communications which the Mirza claims to have received one finds in them incontrovertible reflections of the time and environment of his life, his upbringing, his subconscious urges; on the whole, a reflection of the degenerate and decadent society in which he had been reared and, wherein he preached his message. In fact, these communications contain far enough evidence to force anyone who knows the political history of modern India to the conclusion that the real source of the Mirza’s inspiration was the political authority ruling over the country. Iqbal, who was a man of rare insight and had also studied the Qadiani movement thoroughly, has made the following observation:
“I dare say the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement did hear a voice, but whether the voice came from the God of Life and Power or arose out of the spiritual impoverishment of the people must depend upon the nature of the movement which it has created and the kind of thought and emotion which it has given to those who have listened to it. The reader must not think that I am using metaphorical language. The life-history of nations shows that when the tide of a people begins to ebb, decadence itself becomes a source of inspiration; inspiring poets, philosophers, saints and statesmen and turning them into a class of apostles whose sole ministry is to glorify, by the force for a seductive art or logic, all that is ignoble and ugly in the life of their people. These apostles unconsciously clothe despair in the glaring garments of hope, undermine the traditional values of conduct and thus destroy the spiritual virility of those who happen to be their victims. One can only imagine the rotten state of a people’s will who are, on the basis of Divine authority, made to accept their political environment as final. Thus the actors who participated in the drama of Ahmadism were, I think, only innocent instruments in the hands of decadence.” (Iqbal Speeches and Writings, pp. 157-58.)
The branch of Qadianism which has had its headquarters until recently at Qadian and was later transferred to Rabwah under the second Khalifah and the Mirza’s own son, Bashiruddin Mahmood, has made the Mirza’s prophethood its fundamental article of faith. With great frankness and courage this group adheres to this belief. No matter how objectionable this creed might be from the Islamic view point, this group deserves the credit for having adopted a clear and categorical standpoint and showing moral courage. It is also beyond doubt that this group faithfully represents the teachings of the Mirza, in so far as he had claimed prophethood for himself in clear and vigorous terms.
But the standpoint of the Lahore branch, whose leader until a few years ago was Maulavi Mohammad Ali (d.1952), is enigmatic to the core. Anyone who has studied the writings of the Mirza knows that he explicitly claims prophethood and regards all those who disbelieve in his prophethood to be Kafirs. If the meanings of words are fixed, and they have to be taken in the sense in which the speakers of that language understand them, and if Mirza had written his books in order to convey his message to his compatriots, then there can be no doubt that he did say that he was a prophet, that he had received revelation, that he was entitled to prescribe divine ordinances and injunctions, that he was the bearer of shariah (Divine Law), and that the one who rejected him was a Kafir and doomed to hell-fire. But Maulavi Muhammad Ali seems to have had greater sympathy with the Mirza than he had for himself or his offsprings have for him. It appears that Maulavi Muhammad Ali is keen to protect the greatness of the Mirza and his religious services and perhaps is trying, both consciously as well as subconsciously, to keep his own deep attachment to, and veneration of the Mirza intact and, at the same time, to spare his soul and his religious conscience the torment caused by the Mirza’s shocking claim to be a prophet and the consequent ex-communication of the Muslims, who rejected him, as Kafirs. Muhammad Ali tries to show that the Mirza never claimed prophethood in the technical sense of the word. Wherever the Mirza used terms like prophethood (nabuwah) revelation (Wahi) and disbelief (Kufr), in Muhammad Ali’s opinion he used them in a mystical (Sufi) sense: that is, these words have an allegorical and metaphorical import. It is obvious that if well-known and commonly used religious terms were to be taken as sufistic mysteries, or as allegories and metaphors, then the writings and statements of any person can be interpreted in all possible ways and no connotation can be fixed for any piece of writing.
Maulavi Muhammad Ali considers the Mirza to be the greatest Mujaddid and reformer of the fourteenth century (of Hijrah) and, above all that, the Promised Messiah. It is at this point that the two branches of Qadianism meet. Even in his commentary of the Holy Quran, there are indications that he considered the Mirza to be the Promised Messiah. For instance, at one place in his Urdu commentary of the Holy Quran he writes:
“Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) was sent to all mankind and his time extends to the Day of judgement. And, hence to consider oneself to be in need of some other messenger or prophet is ingratitude to this great benefactor. Thus, the prophecy about the advent of the son of Mary in the Hadith can only-mean that someone of this ummah will come bearing resemblance to the son of Mary. This corresponds to the prophecy of the second advent of Elijah (Ilyis) which was fulfilled by the coming of John (Yahya) in the manner of Elijah. This statement of the Noble Quran prevents Jesus from coming back personally to the Muhammadan ummah.” (Tafsir, Buyan al-Qur’an, Vol. 1, p. 317.)
In his works, too, he generally refers to Mirza as “the Promised Messiah”. (See for instance, his al-Nabuwah fi al-Islam and also Radd-i-Takfir ahl-i- Qiblah.) However, here we would confine ourselves to a glance at his commentary of the Holy Quran in order to find out his religious attitudes and tendencies.
A study of his Commentary of the Holy Quran shows that Muhammad Ali’s mind had almost completely assimilated Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s mode of thinking as well as his method of interpreting the Quran. His close contact with Hakim Nuruddin and his lessons in exegesis (Tafsir) of the Quran from the latter further reinforced the tendencies he had imbibed from Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Infact, Mohammad Ali is a typical example of the kind of people found among the Muslims today. He is keen to present Quran before the modern world and before those educated in the modern tradition. At the same time, his own mental framework and his intellectual upbringing prevent him from accepting facts relating to the Unseen World and the facts not comprehended by limited human intellect. He represents, therefore, the attitudes of those Muslims who have accepted all the results of modern scientific researches, or to be more accurate, they have accepted the well-known concepts of science -as distinguished from scientific facts- as axiomatic and have set them up as the criterion for the acceptance or rejection of everything, including the teachings of religion and the contents of heavenly scriptures. Such people have a frame of mind which is, on the whole averse to belief in the Unseen World and in miracles. At the same time, they also have a religious inclination which makes them disinclined to repudiate the clear texts of the Quran. Hence, they try to strike a middle path. They interpret the Quranic texts relating to the Unseen World and miracles in such a manner as would not go counter to the concepts and ideas in vogue in the present times. In short, it is an attempt to make Islam palatable to the modern mind. To achieve this end, Muhammad Ali interprets Quranic verses in a highly arbitrary and exotic manner. He goes to a ridiculous length of casuistry in order to support his interpretation on the basis of the feeblest of evidences. In these explanations he sets aside all that might stand in the way of making Quran conform to the whims and inclinations of the modern man. The accepted principles of Tafsir, the rules of language and literature, the known usages of terms, the understanding of these terms on the part of the companions of the Prophet and Arabic-speaking people, the exegesis of the earlier scholars, all these are rejected out of hand to show that Quranic verses have nothing which can be regarded as ‘out of fashion’ in the present age. In this his comments are very similar to those of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Below are a few examples which will show Muhammad Ali’s adventures in the realm of Quranic exegesis:
In the Second Chapter of Quran it has been said that when Moses (peace of God be on him) prayed to God (for water for his people in a wilderness), be was asked to strike with his staff. This made twelve springs gush forth and the twelve tribes of the Israelites drank to their full. The Quranic verses read:
“And when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said: Strike the rock with thy staff. So there flowed from it twelve springs. Each tribe knew its drinking place.”
If one were to interpret this verse in the light of the words in which this incident has been conveyed and in the way it has been understood by all since the day it was revealed to the Prophets, one would be forced to the conclusion that this was a supernatural event brought about in a manner contrary to the natural law of causation. However, such an occurrence is, obviously, contrary to normal human experience and runs counter to our understanding of physical and geological laws. This forced Muhammad Ali to interpret it in quite a novel way. Let us reproduce what he hag to say on the point:
“The words idrib bi asa ka-l-hajara may be translated in two ways, strike the rock with thy staff, or march on or go forth or hasten, to the rock with thy staff. Darb means striking, smiting, marching on, going from place to place, setting forth a parable, and carries a number of other significances. In fact, darb is used to indicate all kinds of actions except a few (Taj al-” Arus). When arda (land or earth) is its object, it carries the significance of going about or seeking a way. Thus daraba-l-ard or darab fi-l-ardhi, both signify he journeyed in the land or went forth in the land (Arabic-English Lexicon by Lane). The object of idrib here is al-hajar which means a rock or a mountain to which there is no access. ‘Asa ordinarily means staff or rod, but its primary significance is a state of combination (Taj al-I’Arus and Lane’s Lexicon), and the word is metapborically used to speak of a community. Thus, of the Khawarij, a Muslim sect, it is said Shaqqa asa-l-Muslimina (lit. they broke the staff of the Muslims which means that they made a schism in the state of combination and union, or in the community of the Muslims-Lisan al-‘Arab). Hence, the words may mean strike the rock with thy staff, or march on to the mountain with thy staff or thy community. What the words of the Quran signify is either that Moses was commanded by God to smite a particular rock with his staff from which water flowed forth miraculously, or to march on to a mountain from which springs flowed, (Muhammad (Ali’s English Commentary, p. 29.)
What is significant about this interpretation of the verse put forth by Muhammad ‘Ali is that the latter alternative has been preferred by him because affirmation of miracles appears old- fashioned and “unscientific”.
(2) Another instance is his explanation of the following verse:
“And when you killed a man, then you disagreed about it. And Allah was to bring forth what you were hiding. So, We said: Smite him with a part of it. Thus Allah brings the dead to life and He shows you His signs that you may understand.”
Now, the general Muslim interpretation of the incident is that an Israelite had been killed and the Israelites were not succeeding in tracing out the murderer. The successors of the dead asked Moses to find out from God who the murderer was. Earlier, the Israelites had been asked to slaughter a cow which they had done after considerable hesitation and with a feeling of remorse. In order to show the wisdom and reward of their compliance with Divine commandment, God ordered them to smite the dead man with some part of slaughtered cow which would make the dead man tell the name of the murderer. This was a very effective means of teaching the Jews the blessings of honouring and obeying God’s commandments. In fact, anyone who goes through these Quranic verses without any preconceived notion is bound to interpret it in no other manner. But since this involved a categorical affirmation of miracle, Mohammad Ali explains the verses quite differently:
“The story generally narrated by the commentators to explain this passage is not based on any saying of the Holy Prophet, nor is it met with in the Bible. The very indefiniteness of the incident is an indication that it refers to some well-known event in history, and as almost all incidents of the stubbornness of the Jewish nation prior to the time of Jesus have been mentioned, it becomes almost certain that this incident refers to Jesus himself, as it was with respect to his death that disagreement took place and many doubted his death. This reference becomes stronger when we compare the incidents narrated here with the same incidents as narrated in the fourth Chapter vv. 153-57, when after enumerating almost all the incidents narrated here in the three previous sections, the Quran goes on to accuse the Jews in the following words “And they are saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of Allah: and they killed him not nor did they crucify him, but he was made to appear to them as such, and those who differ therein are surely in doubt about it; they have no knowledge representing it, but only follow a conjecture” (4: 157). The part quoted answers exactly vv. 72 and 73, only the name is omitted here. The comparison makes it clear that it is the apparent killing of Jesus that is referred to here, the words that you killed (Arabic : qataltum) are used, because in the first place the Jews asserted that they had killed him, and, secondly, because metaphorically a man may be said to have been killed when he is made to appear as if he were dead.” (Muhammad Ali’s English Commentary, p. 34.)
As for the part of the verse which mentions the order to smite the dead body, he explains the phrase “a part of it”, as follows:
” The construction of the phrase idritrbuhu bi ba’di-ha is rather difficult, but a comparison with 4: 157 makes the meaning clear. Darb ……… conveys a number of significations. It means striking as well as likening, and as an instance of the latter significance we find in the Quran itself, where it is said Yadribu-Ilahu-l-Haqq wa-l-Batila, Allah compares truth and falsehood.”
“In ba’di-ha (lit, a part of it) the personal pronoun ha i.e. it refers to the act of murder. The act of murder was not completed in the case of Jesus, as the Gospels show, for after he was taken down from the cross his legs were not broken as in the case of the thieves. The meaning of the sentence is therefore according to the signification of darb that we adopt: strike him with partial death, or liken his condition to that of the partially dead man, and thus he was made to appear as a dead man, as stated in 4:157. There is no other case of murder or an attempted murder in Jewish history of which the whole nation could be said to have been guilty, and which might answer to the description of these two Verges. (Ibid., p. 35)
This type of reasoning is fairly illustrative of the mentality we have spoken of above. In order to avoid affirming a miracle, all kinds of involved reasoning is employed, including the contention (see the above citation) that the feminine pronoun was used as masculine and the incident of Jesus (peace be on him) was tagged on to these verses, without there being for it any contextual relevance whatsoever.
(3) The Quran repeatedly mentions that to provide evidence of his prophethood, Jesus made from clay the form of a bird and then he breathed into the model which sprang into life and flew into the air like a real bird.
“And I made for you from clay the form of a bird, then I breath into it and it came a bird with Allah’s permission.”
The verse obviously suggests a miracle. In order to avoid that, Muhammad Ali gives an out-and- out figurative interpretation of the verse. His interpretation of the verse is novel since he assigns an altogether novel signification to the four terms used in the verse: Khalq, tin, nafkh, and tair. Khalq according to him, here means the determining of a thing. As for tin and nafkh, he says “Man is spoken of as being created from tin or dust, which stands for his humble origin, but the nafkh or breathing into him makes him deserving of respect by the angels.” Then comes the word tair which, says Muhammad Ali, means a bird just as the word asad (lit, a lion) is figuratively used for a brave man. In a parable, it is quite unobjectionable, says Muhammad Ali, to take the word fair as signifying one who soars into the higher spiritual regions and is not bent low upon earth or earthy things. In the light of these novel significations given to the words, Muhammad Ali considers the verse to mean:
“So that is meant here is that Jesus, by breathing a spirit into mortals, will make them rise above those who are bent upon the earth, and the apostles of Jesus, who were all men of humble origin (which is referred to in the word dust in the parable), whose thoughts had never risen higher than their own humble cares, left everything for the master’s sake and went into the world by the command of the master preaching truth. Here was, no doubt, mere dust having the form of a bird, which the messenger of God converted into high-soaring birds by breathing the truth into them.” (Muhammad Ali’s English Commentary, p. 144)
(4) The Quran mentions Solomon enumerating the favours of God unto him. He said:
“On man, we have been taught the speech of birds, and we have been granted of all things.”
Since knowledge of “speech of birds” is contrary to normal human experience, Muhammad Ali considers the knowledge of speech of birds to mean Solomon’s use of birds for conveying messages. In his own words:
“Solomon’s understanding of the speech of birds may imply that he made use of birds to convey messages from one place to another, these messages being metaphorically called the speech of birds.” (Ibid)
The following verse reads:
“Till when they came to the valley of the ants, the she ant said: “O ants, enter your abodes.”
Here again Muhammad Ali gives a free rein to his imagination. According to him, Wad al-Naml does not mean, as it apparently does and as it has been interpreted by exegetists, the ‘valley of ants’, but the valley of an Arab tribe called Banu Namlah, and the word namlah (she-ant) mentioned in the verse has been explained by him as follows:
(‘It is the name of a tribe…….. The name Namlah used also to be given to a child in whose hand an ant was placed at its birth, because it was said that such a child would be wise and intelligent. (Ibid., p. 731.)
(5) In the Quranic chapter entitled Saba it has, been mentioned about Solomon:
“But when We decreed death for him, naught showed them (the jinn) his death except a creature of the earth who ate away his staff.” (xxxxv: 14)
The Muslim exegetists in explaining this verse point out that Solomon was having his temple constructed by jinn. When he came to know that the time of his death had arrived, he explained the plan of construction to the jinn, shut himself up in a house of glass; and devoted himself to the worship of God. In this state, the angel took the breath of life out of him. His corpse kept standing by the support of a wooden staff. The jinn kept on working for long. None sensed that Solomon had died. When the construction was completed, the staff which had supported his corpse fell down because of its having been eaten up by a motif. It was then that his death became known. The jinn also realised the limitations of their knowledge of the Unseen. Their human followers too came to realise that. Had the jinn become aware of Solomon’s death by virtue of their capacity to know the Unseen, they would have got rid of the humiliation they had been enduring so long.
Now, since all this could be accepted, only if supernormal things are affirmed, Muhammad Ali again comes forward with a strange explanation. This is what he has to say on the question:
“The reference in the creature of the earth that ate away his staff is to his son’s weak rule, under whom the kingdom of Solomon went to pieces. It appears that Solomon’s successor, Rehoboarm, led a life of luxury and ease, and instead of acting on the advice of older men, he yielded to the pleasure-seeking wishes of his companions (Kings: 12:13), and, it is to his luxurious habits and easy mode of life that the Holy Quran refers when it calls him a creature of the earth. The eating away of his staff signifies the disruption of the Kingdom. The jinn, as already remarked, mean the rebellious tribes who had been reduced to subjection by Solomon, and who remained in subjection to the Israelites for a time, until the Kingdom was shattered.(Muhammad Ali’s English Commentary, p. 825.)
(6) Another example of the same trend is his explanation of the following verse :
“And he reviewed the birds, then said: How is it I see not hudhad, or is it that he is one of the absentees.” (27:20)
The word hudhud has been understood as signifying a particular species of birds (hoopoe). The same view is corroborated by the context because a little earlier there is a mention of Solomon’s knowledge of the speech of birds and, again, since it is the birds that he is reviewing. But since it is not normal that a human being should converse with birds and call it to account and the bird should explain its conduct before him, Muhammad Ali let his imagination loose and interpreted hudhud as the chief officer of Solomon’s Department of Intelligence. He wrote:
“By Hudhud is not to be understood lapwing, but a person of that name. In many languages many of the proper names given to men will be found to be identical with the names of animals. The Arab writers speak of a king of Himyar as Hudad (Lisan al-Arab), which is almost identical with Hudhud mentioned in the Quran ……. The verses that follow show clearly that Solomon was speaking of one of his own officers ……… “
In his Urdu Tafsir he elaborates the situation, pointing out that Hudhud was an intelligence officer and that when Solomon reviewed the birds, who were used to carry on intelligence work, he found the officer of the intelligence department, Hudhud, absent. (See his Tafsir at-Bayan, VOL. 111, P. 1413)
(7) The Quran mentions the existence of a distinct species called jinn, inter alia, in the following verse :
“Say: It has been revealed to me that a party of the jinn listened, so they said: Surely we have heard a wonderful Quran. (LXXII: 1) (Muhammad Ali’s English Commentary, pp. 731-32,)
The testimonies of Quran and Hadith, the continuity of Muslim belief, as well as human observations, are too overwhelming on the question to warrant the denial of existence of a separate species of ethereal beings. Muhammad Ali too could not explicitly reject this belief as erroneous. He merely seems to evade the question. He tries, therefore, to give other meanings of the term, depending upon the contexts in which the term occurs. At one place he considers the word jinn to signify “great potentates or powerful leaders who, through their importance and detachment from the masses, do not mix freely with them, so they remain distant or “hidden” from their eyes. “(Muhammad Ali’s English Commentary, pp. 306,) No less strange is his feat of imagination in trying to explain that the term in the Quranic verse mentioned above refers to Christians. (Ibid., p. 1107) He regards the opening verses of this chapter as prophetical, “speaking of some future time when Christian nations forming the bulk of mankind-such being one of the significances of the word jinn (Lane’s Lexicon)-will accept the truth of the message brought by the Prophet.” (Ibid., p. 1107)
These are just a few examples. The huge Commetary of Muhammad Ali is replete with such distortions under the immature impression that modern science was opposed to belief in miracles or in the occurrence of an event which is of a supernatural order.
At this point a sound thinking person is bound to ask himself the question: did the Companions of the Holy Prophet, who were the first addressees of the Quran, and in whose mother-tongue the Quran was revealed and who had the honour of having been instructed b the Holy Prophet himself, also understood the same import of the verses as has been explained by this new-fanged exegetist? Did they also think that “strike the staff on the rock” meant “march on to the mountain with thy community”? Did they also think that “And strike him with part of it” meant “kill him only partially”? Did they also think that the claim of Jesus of “Creating birds out of clay” meant “infusing the spirit to rise above earthly concerns”? Did they also think that “the speech of birds” meant “message-carrying birds”, that the “creature of the earth” referred to Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, and that “jinn” meant the “Christian nations of Europe”? In the same way, did any of the followers of these companions, or any Arab linguists, or scholars and exegetists understand something similar to what Muhammad Ali understood from them? It would be bard to say ‘yes’, for we have before us the entire treasure of tafsir literature and it testifies to the originality of Mohammad Ali’s brain. None of the profound scholars of Arabic and its literature can even imagine that these verses could, by any stretch of imagination, mean what this non-Arab scholar thinks they mean, almost for the first time after more than thirteen hundred years.
This being the case, one is left wondering about the significance of the Quranic claim of being a ‘clear book’ which has been revealed in ‘clear Arabic.’ The Quran itself makes the claim in these words:
“And surely this is a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds’ The faithful spirit has brought it on thy heart so that thou mayst be a Warner in plain Arabic language.” (XXVI: 192-95)
“These Are the verses of the Book that makes manifest.
Surely we have revealed it-an Arabic Quran-that you may understand.” (XII: 1-2).
Another verse says :
“And certainly We have made the Quran easy to understand. Now, is there any one who will ponder”? (LIV: 17)
If Muhammad Ali’s approach were to be considered sound, it would mean that for more than thirteen hundred years the Quran remained an incomprehensible mystery, an unsolved puzzle. To disregard the obvious meaning of Quranic verses, to set aside the well-known rules of Arabic language and grammar, to neglect the interpretations of Quran made by the companions of the Prophet, to overlook the context of relevant Prophetic Traditions – all this means subjecting the Quran to distortion and reducing it to a plaything. This is a great danger and portends ill for Muslims, if people promoting this kind of approach find an encouraging response from them. Long ago, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad made a very apt remark About the Tafsir of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Nothing could apply more adequately to the Tafsir of Muhammad Ali. He said:
“These interpretations of the Holy Quran which were neither in the knowledge of God’s Prophet, nor in the knowledge of his companions, nor in the knowledge of saints and aqtab and ghawth and abdal, nor have any direct or indirect textual evidence, have caught the imagination of Sir Sayyid.”
Now that we have studied the life of the founder of Qadianism, traced the evolution of its doctrines, and noted its doctrinal emphasis, etc., we are in a position to attempt historical evaluation of Qadianism and see what achievements go to its credit in the history of the reformist movements in Islam? What has it given to the present generation of Muslims? What has been the practical outcomes of this religious hullabaloo which has been going on for about three quarters of a century? The founder of the movement has bequeathed a whole library of his works on all kinds of religious subject, particularly controversial matters, and they have been under discussion for over seventy years, What is the essence of these works and what ate they really driving at? What is the message of Qadianism for the present age?
To answer these questions, we should cast a glance at the Muslim world itself wherein the movement arose. We should also have a look at the state of the Muslim world during the second half of the nineteenth century, and its problems and difficulties.
The most important event which took place during this period of time, which can be ignored neither by a historian nor a reformer, is the aggression of Europe on the Muslim world, particularly India. The educational system that came in its train was devoid of the spirit of god-consciousness and the culture which sprang from this new world-view was permeated with ungodliness and sensuality. The world of Islam fell an easy prey to this nascent, but militarily well-equipped, European power because it had become impoverished in all respects: in respect of faith, of knowledge, and of material resources. This was the time when a conflict of colossal importance took place the conflict between religion (and Islam alone was in the field to represent religion) and the ungodly and materialistic culture of Europe. This conflict gave birth to a large number of political, cultural, intellectual and social problems-problems which could have been solved only through strong and unshakable faith, profound and extensive knowledge and extraordinary self-confidence and perseverance. To encounter this situation, the Muslim world needed a great spiritual and intellectual personality, who could infuse the spirit of jihad (struggle) in the Muslim world, unite the Muslims, be able to withstand the least distortion of Islamic teachings, bring about a rapprochement between the eternal message of Islam and the restless spirit of the present age by dint of his strength of faith; intellectual acumen, and meet squarely the challenge of the zestful and buoyant West.
This was one aspect of the problems faced by the Muslim world of that time. The other aspect of the Muslim world was that it appeared to be infested with religious and moral ailments, the most gruesome of which was the rise of doctrines and practices which bore the imprint of polytheistic influences. Tazids and graves were worshipped. People swore in the names of others than God. Innovations in religion were popular everywhere and superstitions and meaningless beliefs were rampant. This situation called for a reformer of tremendous dimensions: a reformer who could rage the Islamic society of anti-Islamic influences, remind the Muslims of the true doctrine of Tawhid, and stress the obligation of adhering to the Sunnah of the Prophet; in short, one who could thoroughly purify the religious life of Muslims.
Besides this, the contact with foreign nations and a materialistic culture had begun to corrode the Muslims socially and degenerate them morally. Moral degeneration had gone to the extent of unabashed sinfulness; love of extravagant and luxurious living to the extent of licentious self-indulgence; docile obedience to their rulers to the extent of intellectual subservience and loss of self-respect; and, the tendency to imitate the Western culture and the way of life of their British masters to the extent of the repudiation of the teachings of Islam. The situation obviously demanded the rise of a great crusader against these degenerating tendencies, a crusader who would put a stop to the tidal waves of moral and intellectual decline and counteract the harmful effects of political slavery and its offshoot of ihental bondage.
Again, there was the problem in of ignorance: the ignorance of even the rudiments of Islam on the part of a great majority of Muslims. As for the people educated along modern lines, they were unaware of Islam, of the normative principles of the Muslim way of life, of the history of Islam, and of the greatness of their own past, and were, on the whole, pessimistic about its future. Islamic religious sciences were in a state of decay and the old centres of learning appeared to be on the verge of collapse. All this meant that a new, vigorous educational movement was needed, a movement to set up new schools and madrasas, as well as to produce forceful books in order to improve the knowledge of Muslims about their religion, awaken their religious consciousness and create in them a deep faith in the teachings of Islam.
Even more important than all these was another crying need of the Muslim world: the need to summon the Muslims in the manner of the prophets, to live a truly Islamic life characterised by strong faith and righteous action. It is this alone which entitles the Muslims to the help of God, to their predominance over the enemies and to their salvation in this world as well as in the next and every kind of felicity and honour. The fact is that the real need of the Muslim world has never been, nor will it ever be a fresh religion: all that it has needed is a fresh and deeper faith in Islam. Never has the world of Islam needed a new religion or a new prophet. It has meroy extent of unabashed sinfulness; love of extravagant and luxurious living to the extent of licentious self-indulgence; docile obedience to their rulers to the extent of intellectual subservience and loss of self-respect ; and the tendency to imitate the Western culture and the way of life of their British masters to the extent of the repudiation of the teachings of Islam. The situation obviously demanded the rise of a great crusader against these degenerating tendencies, a crusader who would put a stop to the tidal waves of moral and intellectual decline and counteract the harmful effects of political slavery and its offshoot of ihental bondage.
Again, there was the problem in of ignorance: the ignorance of even the rudiments of. Islam on the part of a great majority of Muslims. As for the people educated along modern lines, they were unaware of Islam, of the normative principles of the Muslim way of life, of the history of Islam, and of the greatness of their own past, and were, on the whole, pessimistic about its future. Islamic religious sciences were in a state of decay, and the old centres of learning appeared to be on the verge of collapse. All this meant that a new, vigorous educational movement was needed, a movement to set up new schools and madrasas, as well as to produce forceful books in order to improve the knowledge of Muslims about their religion, awaken their religious consciousness and create in them a deep faith in the teachings of Islam.
Even more important than all these was another crying need of the Muslim world: the need to summon the Muslims in the manner of the prophets, to live a truly Islamic life characterised by strong faith and righteous action. It is this alone which entitles the Muslims to the help of God, to their predominance over the enemies, and to their salvation in this world as well as in the next and every kind of felicity and honour. The fact is that the real need of the Muslim world has never been, nor will it ever be a fresh religion: all that it has needed is a fresh and deeper faith in Islam. Never has the world of Islam needed a new religion, or a new prophet. It has merely been in need of a fresh faith in, and fresh enthusiasm for, the eternal truths: the beliefs and the teachings last of all the prophets, Muhammad (peace be on him). This faith is adequate enough to encounter the evil tendencies that might arise in any age and resist the new temptations that the changing time brings along with it.
In response to the crying needs of the Muslim world mentioned by us there arose numerous personalities and movements in the Muslim world. They made no big claims, nor did they try to create a new ummah. All they did was to fulfil these important needs as best as they could, and in so doing they inspired a great number of Muslims. They neither tried to promote a new religion, nor invited people to fall around some new prophet, nor did they create anarchy in Muslim ranks. They wasted none of their capabilities in futile tasks. Such personalities and movements proved to be an unmixed blessing to the Muslim world, their mission was free from all possibilities of harm and their work commendable beyond any shadow of doubt. Without having lost anything, the Muslims benefited from them and to them they owe a heavy debt of gratitude.
At such a critical movement, in the most crucial area of the Muslim world, India, which was the main scene of intellectual and political conflicts, there also arose Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to initiate a new movement. What is noteworthy about him is that he totally disregarded some of the most important problems which were confronting the Muslim world in his days and focused all his attention on one question alone. Now, what was it? The question of the death of Messiah and the claim on his own part to be the Promised Messiah. Whatever time and energy was left after concentrating on this issue was spent on propagating that jihad bad become prohibited and that loyalty to the British Government was a religious imperative. For about a quarter of a century these very questions continued to be debated by him at great length. If the writings of the Mirza on the question of Messiah were to be expunged from his works, hardly anything of significance will be left in them.
Moreover, it is also to be noted that the Mirza raised the standard of his prophethood and declared all those who did not accept his claim as kafirs, in a Muslim world which was already torn by dissensions. By so doing, however, the Mirza raised an iron wall between himself and the Muslims. On the one side of this wall there are a few thousand followers of the Mirza and on the other side is the rest of the Muslim world which stretches from Morocco to China and has great personalities, virtuous movements of reform and valuable institutions. They stand isolated from and opposed to the whole of this world. Thus he unnecessarily added to the difficulties of Muslims, further aggravated their disunity and added a new complication to the problems facing them.
The Mirza has made no worthwhile contribution to the intellectual and religious heritage of Muslims, which would call for his recognition and because of which he might deserve the gratitude of the present generation of Muslims. Nor did he initiate a broad-based movement for the revival of Islam which could profit the Muslims as a whole, nor help Muslims to solve any of the major problems facing them, nor did his movement contain any message for the contemporary civilization which is in the grips of a major crisis and is interlocked in a life and death struggle. Nor can he even be credited with any significant achievement vis-a-vis the expansion of Islam either in India or Europe. His message remained addressed to the Muslims and of necessity could only lead to mental confusion and unnecessary religious squabbles within the Muslim community. If the Mirza can be considered successful, it is only in so far as he bequeathed to his family the legacy of spiritual leadership and worldly prosperity, the legacy of a kind of theocracy in which respect he is comparable to the Agha Khan and his ancestors.
The fact is that it is merely a set of favourable circumstances and not any inner vitality, which accounts for the survival of Qadianism for several decades. It owes a good deal to the intellectual bewilderment found in India and particularly in Punjab in his time. Qadianism is also indebted to the dominance of the British in India, which had weakened the bases of Islamic life so that the rising generation of Muslims had become profoundly ignorant of the teachings of Islam and the characteristics and attributes of prophethood and true spiritual leadership. It owes a debt of gratitude to the encouragement and patronage it received from the British rulers. Had it not been these factors, Qadianism which bases itself mainly on inspirations, dreams, fantastic interpretations of religious texts and dry, and lifeless theological quibbling, which have no moral and spiritual message for the present age, nor any imaginative solution for the problems of our time, could never have remained alive as long as it has managed to do in this degenerate and confused generation. It seems to me that we have been punished by God for the ingratitude that Muslims have shown to Him in the past by deviating from the teachings of Islam, and the crimes we have committed by not fully recognizing the true Servants of the cause of Islam, who rose amidst us. For all these crimes we have received what we unfortunately deserved this intellectual plague and the rising up of this man amidst us who has sown the seeds of periapt discord and Disunity.
A few years ago while lecturing at. the University of Damascus on the movements of reform and revival of true Islam in the past, I made the following observation about Bitinite movement which appears worth reproducing in the context of Qadianism. When I read the histories of Baatinite movement in India, a Ikhawan at-saja, of Bahaism in Iran and Qadianism, it seems to me that when the founders of these movements read the history of Islam and the life of the Prophet it struck them that a man, all by himself stood up with a mission in Arabia, without any money to back him, or any army to support him; he summoned people towards a creed, towards a religion and not after very long there came into existence a new ummah, a new state, and a new future. They also noticed that single-handed he changed the direction of human history and forced events to flow into a different channel. The ambitious natures of these men then whispered to them: “Why not try?” These people knew that they had intelligence, remarkable mental capabilities and organising ability. They thought, therefore, that history might repeat itself in their case, following the natural pattern of cause and effect. These people had expected the same kind of miraculous success to crown their efforts, as had crowned the efforts of the unlettered Prophet of Arabia in the sixth century, for, they thought that human nature remained always-the same, and if it had responded to Muhammad in the past, there was no reason who it should not respond to them now.
These persons did have a glimpse of the greatness of Muhammad (peace be on him), who carried his movement to a successful end, but could not seethe Divine support which was his real strength, nor the Divine Will of which be was an instrument.
The result was that for a very short period of time, the efforts of these ambitious people did bear some fruit. There gathered behind them a following, sometimes of several hundred thousand people. Some of them, (e.g. Bitinites) even succeeded in establishing a state of their own (the Fatimide State), which for some time covered a fairly wide area from Sudan to Morocco. But all this remained only as long as they were able to maintain their organizational efficiency, their wizardry and their secret administrative network. But when these things were gone, all their power and glory also became a poignant Memory of the past. With the loss of worldly power, the religious movement shrank and obscured and lost all significance for human life. Against this is the true Islam preached by the last messenger of Allah (peace be on him). It constitutes today, as it constituted yesterday, a great spiritual force in the world, the guiding star and inspiration of a great ummah. It still possesses a distinctive culture which sprang from the spirit of its teachings. It is still the religion of a number of states and peoples. The sun of Muhammad’s prophethood is still shining brilliantly in the sky. Never in history has it suffered an eclipse and it never will.”
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani: Al-Arbain, Vols. I-IV, II Edition (1920)
Aina-i-Kamalat-i-Islam, Ahmadiyah Anjuman Isha’at-i-Islam, Lahore (1893)
Aik Ghalti Ka Izalah
Asmani Faislah, Zia-al-Islam Press, Qadian (1917)
Izala-i-Awham III Edition (1902)
Barahit-i-ahmadiya, Vols. I-V, IV Edition (1884 and 1907)
Kitab-al-Bariyah, II Edition (1932)
Shahna-i-Haq Vol. I
Surma-i-Chashm-i-Arya, I Edition, Gulzir-i-Hind Press, Lahore (1886)
Shahadat-al-Qur’an, Sher Hind Press, Amritsar
Tiryaq-al-Qulub, Zia-al-Islam Press, Qadian
Tazkirah or Majmua Wahi Muqaddas
Tuhfat-al-Nadwa, Zia-al-Islam Press, Qadian
Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood: Anwar-i-Khilafat
A Present to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (dated January 19, 1922)
Mirza Bashir Ahmad: Siral-al-Mahdi, Vols. I and II, II Edition (1935)
Muhammad Ali: Bayan-al-Quran, Karimi Press (1941)
Commentary of the Holy Qur’an (English version of the Tafsir Bayan-al-Quran)
An Nauwah fil Islam
Mir Qasim ‘Ali Qadiaini: Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol, VI, VII, X
Sheikh Yakub ‘Ali ‘Irfani (ed.) : Hayat-i-Nasir
Maktabat-i-Ahmadiyah, Vol. V
Akbar Shah Khan Najibibadi: Mirfat-al-Yaqin fi Hayat-i-Nuruddin, Aniuman Isha’at-i-Islam Ahmadiyah Buildings, Lahore
S. Sarwar Shah Qadiani: Kashf-al-Ikhtataf, Zia-al-Islam Press, Qadian, (1920)
Qazi Fazal Ahmad- Kalama-i-Fazl-i-Rahmani
Anwar Shah: Aqidat-al-Islam
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Asbab Baghawat-i-Hind
Dr. Abdul Haq: Chand Ham’Asr
Dr. Abdul Hakim: Az-Zikr-il-Hakim
Rahat Malik: Daur Hazir ka Mazhabi Aamir
Dr. Zahid Ali: Hamara Ismaili Mazhab aur Uska Nizam
Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal: Pas Che Bayad Kadr; Zarb-i-Kalim, Hafr-i-Iqbal;
Writing and Speeches
Prof. Salibuddin Ilyis Barn : Qadiani Mazhab Umdatul Matabe, Lucknow
Ibhn Hazam: Al-Fasl fi Milat wan Nahl
Ibn Hajar: Fath-ul-Bari
Maulania Abdul Hai Nuzhatul Khawatir, Vol.VI Daraitul Ma’arif, Hyderabad
Sir William Hunter – Our Indian Mussalmans
Daily Papers and journals
The Daily Paigham-i-Sulh, Lahore, Vol. XXI, No. 22
Journal Taahkhiz-a’-Azhan, Qadian, Vol. VI, No. 14; Vol. No. 11
The Daily Al-Hukm, Qadian Issues of August 10,1 1901, April 14, 1908, May 7 and 21, 1934
Journal Review of Religions, Qadian, Vol. VII, No. 726 of June-July, 1908 Vol. XIV No. 6
Journal Ishat-i-Sunnah, Amritsar, Vol. VII, No.- 6 of June, 1884
The Daily Al-Fazl, Qadian, Issues of December 31, 1914, May 28, 1918, December 15, 1921 December 18, 1922, January 4,’ 1923, March 3, 1925, August 6, 1925, April 13, 1926, April 29, 1927, July 3, 1931, February 23, 1932, December 1, 1932, January 1 and 15, 1935, September 3, 1935 and September 15, 1936.