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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement; the Mujaddid (Reformer) of the 14th Century Hijrah; and, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi) <Please read his biography in the 'Biography' section>

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Books Section > The Ahmadiyya Movement by Maulana Muhammad Ali > The Promised Messiah

Chapter 2: Claims of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement:
Section 2: The Promised Messiah:

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Why the Name the Promised Messiah was Given to the Mujaddid of the Fourteenth Century Hijrah:

There are many who think that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's claim of being the Promised Messiah was a later growth upon his claim to mujaddidiyyat (renovation), because he claimed to be a mujaddid (renovator) in 1300 A.H. (1885 C.E.) and his claim to Messiahship was made in 1308 A.H. It has been concluded from this that he put forth new claims by stages. This is, of course, a great misunderstanding about him. These were, however, not two separate claims as will be seen from the statement about his claim to mujaddidiyyah. His claim to Messiahship was in fact another name for his original claim of being a mujaddid. And this was related to his activities with regard to the removal of external dangers against Islam which threatened its very existence. Thus in 1300 A.H. when he claimed to be a mujaddid he wrote the following words:

"And the author has been given the knowledge, too, that he is the mujaddid of this age and that spiritually his excellences resemble those of the Messiah, son of Mary, and that the one of them bears a very strong resemblance and close affinity to the other" (Ishtihar, published 1885).

In fact, the idea underlying this claim was that the mujaddid of the fourteenth century Hijrah enjoyed extreme spiritual resemblance to Jesus Christ. He further clarified this point in his book Ainah Kamalat Islam:

"This must be remembered, that the claim of being the Promised Messiah is not in any way greater than the claim of being a recipient of Divine communication (mulham min Allah) or a mujaddid from God. It is evident that anybody who enjoys this status of divine communication, all his names from Allah, such as the like of Messiah or the like of Moses, are justified for him. Whosoever attains to the excellence of divine communication and is appointed by God for any service in the cause of religion God Almighty gives him any name in accordance with the need of the time. To give the name Promised Messiah to the mujaddid of this age seems to be based on this expediency, that his great task is to overthrow the supremacy of Christianity and counter their attacks, and to shatter with strong arguments their philosophy which is against the Holy Quran and to establish fully the evidence of Islam against them. The greatest trial in this age for Islam is the rational and religious vituperations of Christians against Islam which could not be swept away without divine support and for this purpose it was essential that someone should be raised by God" (A’inah Kamalat Islam (26 February 1893), p. 340).

Christianity Musters all its Resources against Islam:

Islam in this age, no doubt, has to contend with almost all the religions of the world and such a situation, more or less, has existed ever since the inception of Islam. But never before has Christianity mustered all its resources to crush Islam out of existence. There had been wars on a large scale between Muslim and Christian powers, known as the Crusades, but the great conspiracy to root out Islam as a religion in this age, the millions of pounds being spent for the purpose of free distribution of large quantities of literature against Islam and for sending armies of Christian missionaries to Muslim lands etc. is something the like of which cannot be found in history. Even the Christian missionaries have felt and openly declared that there are many non-Christian religions in the world but Islam is the only religion which is anti-Christian. A cursory glance over world events shows that in spite of Muslim weakness in all walks of life at present, a keen struggle is still going on between the Muslim and the Christian faith. Although it appears that Christianity has the upper hand in this struggle, as far as the outward signs and resources are concerned, a strange spectacle is also being noticed on the other side, that is, the principles of Islam as such are gaining ground in the world and the principles of Christianity are in fact loosening their hold on the minds of the people.

This is, however, what we observe today, but the prophetic eye of the Founder of the Ahmadiyyah Movement saw this phenomenon happening about sixty years back and therefore he devoted his special attention to the Christian world. In 1864, when he was employed at Sialkot, he constantly engaged himself in controversies with Christian missionaries and later on he also kept writing articles about their doctrines and dogmas. This is, however, strange, that at the time of declaring himself a mujaddid he clearly stated that he bore a very strong resemblance to Jesus Christ and in his practical life he also showed the great trend of protecting Islam against the onslaughts of Christian missionaries. And his passion for disseminating the light of Islam in Christendom grew stronger every day with the result that the movement he organized for the defence of Islam predominantly reflected in its activities this strong desire for presenting Islam to the West. In short, he had started his actual work even before he had declared himself to be the Promised Messiah.

The Mention of the Messiah in the Reports of the Prophet:

What is meant by the Promised Messiah and what is its significance according to the Shariah is the question which we have to deal with first of all.

The coming of Jesus, son of Mary, has been mentioned in the reports (ahadith) of the Prophet. In al-Bukhari the hadith (report) about the descent of Jesus Christ has been narrated by Abu Huraira thrice: 

1. Kitab al-buyu‘ 34
2. Kitab al-mazalim 46
3. Kitab al-anbiya 60

In the reference quoted last the following hadith occurs in the chapter entitled "Descent of Jesus, son of Mary":

"I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand that the son of Mary will descend among you as Arbiter and Judge and shall break the Cross and kill the swine and postpone the war. Wealth will be multiplied to the extent that nobody will be there to accept it, that a prostration at that time will be better than this world and whatever is in it" (Al-Bukhari, Kitab al-anbiya’, 60:49. See also Muhammad ‘Ali’s A Manual of Hadith, pp. 256-257).

And then there is another report which says: "What will be your condition when the son of Mary will descend among you and he will be your imam from among yourselves?" (Ibid.).

In the first two references the words are almost the same as found in the quotation from Kitab al-anbiya' except that "Arbiter (‘adil)" is replaced by "maqsata (equitable)" and "he will postpone the war (yad‘ al-harb)" by "he will postpone the poll-tax (yad‘ al-jizyah)" and the last part of the report beginning with "that a prostration at that time…" has also been omitted.

Again, in al-Sahih of Muslim, reports about the descent of Jesus, son of Mary, have been mentioned at various places. At one place the words of the first two reports of al-Bukhari have been repeated and at another place the brief and the last report of al-Bukhari has been mentioned. Still at another place the following words occur: "What will be your condition when the son of Mary will descend among you and he will be your imam?" (Al-Sahih of Muslim as quoted in Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 7, p. 220).

In another report, instead of fa-amma kum we find fa-amma-kum minkum (he will be your imam from among you).

There is also one report by Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah. Similarly, many other companions of the Holy Prophet, for instance Ibn 'Umar, Anas and Thauban have narrated such reports.

The Coming Messiah shall appear from among the Muslims:

If we look carefully into these reports, to our surprise we find that although the coming of the son of Mary has been described in them, the various words added at the end show that he will be raised from among the Muslims. These words are: imamu kum minkum, fa-amma-kum, fa-amma kum minkum.

The words imamu kum minkum (your imam will be from among you) are supposed to refer to someone else who is thought to be the Mahdi. But there are two very strong arguments against this theory:

1. The reports in which these words occur are found in al-Bukhari and al-Muslim and the coming of the Mahdi has not been mentioned at all in these two books. When Bukhari and Muslim do not even believe in the coming of the Mahdi, how could they accept the interpretation that he would be the imam of Muslims at the time of the descent of Jesus Christ?

2. Muslim has further clarified the point by repeating the words wa imamukum minkum of al-Bukhari on the one hand and adding alternative words on the other which cannot mean anything else except that the coming Messiah shall be raised from this ummah of Muhammad.

These words of Muslim are reported in two ways:

1. "What will be your condition when the son of Mary will descend among you and he will be your imam?"

2. "What will be your condition when the son of Mary will descend in you and he will be your imam from among yourselves?"

Now, the expressions ammakum and ammakum minkum clearly indicate that Jesus, son of Mary, whose descent has been mentioned here, is the imam of Muslims and will be from among the nation of Muhammad and not from any other nation. Perhaps the words "what will be your condition (kaifa antum)" which express surprise, have been used to show that people might be expecting the coming of an Israelite Messiah but his appearance from among the Muslims will astonish them. In short, the words imamukum minkum only signify the appearance of the Messiah from this ummah and it is he who will be the imam of Muslims. Obviously a mujaddid is the imam of his time. Thus, this only refers to his being a mujaddid.

The Evidence of the Quran that the Messiah will be Raised from the Nation of Muhammad:

Reports are only an exposition of the Quran, the evidence of the Quran being the strongest of them all. When we turn to the Quran we find that it mentions the raising of khalifahs (successors) of the Prophet Muhammad from among this ummah. In the chapter The Light we observe:

"Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them successors in the earth as He made successors before them" (24:55).

Here "before them" refers to the Israelites. As the Prophet has been compared with Moses and has been called the like of him – "Surely We have sent to you a Messenger, a witness against you, as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh." (73:15) – similarly, his successors have been likened to the successors of Moses. Thus, this verse cannot bear the possibility of the appearance of Jesus Christ in person who was a successor of Moses. The logical conclusion is that as in the nation of Moses the Messiah was raised by God, similarly, a like of the Messiah will appear in the nation of Muhammad. In other words, this verse implies the coming of the like of the Messiah and not Jesus Christ himself in person.

The Second Evidence of the Quran:

The second strong evidence is that prophethood has come to an end with Muhammad (peace and blessings of God lie upon him) and Jesus Christ was a prophet according to the Quran. It is, therefore, not possible that he should appear after the Prophet Muhammad. If he does come, then Jesus Christ, and not the Prophet Muhammad, will be the khatam al-nabiyyin (the seal of the prophets). Obviously, prophethood will come to an end with a prophet who comes last of all. The thought that although Jesus Christ would appear last of all, as the Prophet Muhammad was the last in his appointment, therefore he was indeed the last of the prophets, is groundless. If a battle has to be fought and won, only that general would be called the last general who has won it irrespective of the date of his appointment. If A and Z were two generals appointed for this post, A being appointed before Z, and A was still alive when Z died and at last it was he who won the battle, then every wise person would call him the last general. Similarly, if Jesus Christ, the prophet of God, comes after Muhammad and the final victory and dominance of Islam takes place at his hand, then he would be called the last of the prophets. The correct view, therefore, is that no prophet, neither new nor old, shall appear after the Prophet Muhammad.

Besides this, there is another obstacle in the coming of Jesus Christ. According to the Quran, he was a messenger appointed for the Israelites (3:48), therefore he cannot be raised for any other nation. Moreover, a prophet is only sent for a prophetic mission. If Jesus Christ, the prophet of God, has to come again, this means that even the work of prophethood was not brought to perfection by the Prophet Muhammad, and this is absolutely against the clear Quranic verse: "Today I have perfected your religion for you" (5:3).

In view of these difficulties the Muslim scholars are forced to admit that Jesus Christ would not appear as a messenger but only in the capacity of a mujaddid as has been mentioned in Fath al-Bayan: "When he will descend he will act upon the Shariah of Muhammad like other followers" (Abu'1 Tayyib Siddiq ibn Hasan, Fath al-Bayan (Matbah al-Kubra al-Miriyyah, Egypt) under the verse 5: 3).

And in Fath al-Bari it has been stated: "Jesus will judge according to the rules and regulations of this ummah" (Imam ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari fi Sharh al-Sahib al-Bukhari).

But here again we are confronted with several difficulties.

It is obviously meaningless that when there is neither a need of prophethood left nor of a prophet, God should, nevertheless, keep a prophet alive for two thousand years to be sent to the world in the later ages. In this case, it has to be admitted that neither was prophethood brought to perfection nor was Islam made perfect by the Prophet Muhammad. If the Messiah has to come he must, by virtue of his previous office, come in the role of a prophet. And if he has to appear as a mujaddid it is futile for God to keep a prophet alive simply to fulfil the mission of a mujaddid.

The second difficulty is that if he appears as a mujaddid his connection with prophethood will naturally be severed. The dismissal of the Messiah from his office of prophethood is also meaningless. To cause a prophet to die is a divine practice, to bring his period to termination is also intelligible, but his dismissal is absolutely against the principles of divine religion.

Besides all this, there is yet another problem to be solved. If Jesus Christ were to follow the Shariah of Muhammad and give decisions according to the Quran and Hadith, how would he educate himself for this work? In this respect, the divine law only operates in two ways: knowledge is either obtained by revelation or by acquisition (iktisab). Now, if he receives the knowledge of the Quran and Hadith by revelation, what doubt is left as to his being a prophet? And if he obtains it by acquisition, he will have to spend several years for the study of the Arabic language and the Islamic Shariah after his descent from heaven. In short, the appearance of Jesus Christ in person goes against all the clear injunctions of the Quran. The only way out is to interpret it differently.


Books Section > The Ahmadiyya Movement by Maulana Muhammad Ali > The Promised Messiah


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