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aaiil.org > Literature > Books > Sir Muhammad Iqbal's Statement re The Qadianis by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Sir Muhammad Iqbal's Statement re The Qadianis:

by Maulana Muhammad Ali


[Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who was once a great admirer of the Ahmadiyyah Movement, issued in 1936 a long statement re the Qadianis. It was motivated mainly by political reasons and the views of the extremist Qadiani section were made the basis of this statement. Maulana Muhammad 'Ali replied to it and explained the Lahore Ahmadiyyah standpoint and threw light on the correct beliefs and mission of the Founder of the Ahmadiyyah Movement in Islam The reply first appeared in the weekly Light, Lahore, and later in the form of a booklet entitled Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal's Statement re the Qadianis. Another detailed commentary was made in Urdu by Syed Akhtar Husain Gilani entitled 'Allama Iqbal aur Tahrik-i Ahmadiiyat. — Editor]

Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal's statement on the controversy between the Qadianis and the orthodox Muslims has both a religious and a political significance, and from both points of view it has its values as well as its defects, but I am concerned only with its first aspect. Sir Muhammad Iqbal has done a great service to the cause of Islam by appealing to the solidarity of Islam as based on the Finality of Prophethood, but I must say and this not without regret that this service to the great cause has been more than neutralized by the remedy which he suggests to maintain that solidarity. In the first place he begs the British Government to interfere in the religious controversy between the Qadianis and the orthodox and to help the majority against an insignificant minority, and in the second place he wants to bring about unity among the Muslims by making as many rifts in their ranks as the Qadiani doctrine of the continuance of prophethood is likely to create, perhaps more.

Solidarity is today the greatest need of the Muslim communities whether living in India or elsewhere, and the basis of this solidarity must undoubtedly be laid on the Finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (may peace and the blessings of God be upon him). One of the greatest changes brought about by the advent of our Holy ProphetI should call it a revolutionwas that before him every nation and every age had its own prophet, but the Prophet Muhammad was the Prophet of all nations and all ages, and thus prophethood was made the basis of the unification of the human race. Different peoples owing allegiance to different prophets meant so many different standards under which the human race was divided into as many different groups, but one prophet for all nations and all ages meant all peoples gathering together under one flag. Finality of Prophethood in Islam did not mean that the sending of prophets for the upliftment of humanity was brought to a close as an arbitrary act; it signified that the racial and national differences which had grown up as a result of sending different prophets to different peoples and had thus divided humanity into water-tight compartments and become a bar to the further advancement of human civilisation, should be obliterated, and the whole human race living on this globe should feel as if it were a single unit. Both these ideas go hand in hand in the Holy Quran. On the one hand, we read:

"Blessed is He Who sent down the Furqan upon His servant that he may be a warner to all the nations" (25:1).

"Say, O people! I am the Apostle of Allah to you all" (7:158).

"And We have not sent thee but to all the men as a bearer of good news and as a warner" (31:28).

And, on the other hand, the significance underlying the advent of a world-prophet in place of the national prophets is thus made clear:

"And peoples are naught but a single nation" (10:19).

"And this your community is one community and I am your Lord" (23:52).

"All peoples are a single nation" (2:213).

"O people! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same kind and spread from these many men and women" (4:1).

Thus, the idea is put forward that the whole human race is but one family, and all tribal and racial differences are minimised by such declaration as the following:

"O you men! We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know one another" (48:13).

"And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colours j surely there are signs in this for the learned" (30:22).

The Finality of Prophethood has thus the unification of the human race as the underlying idea, and Sir Muhammad Iqbal hits the nail on the head when he declares that the solidarity of Muslims must be based on the Finality of Prophethood in the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The continuation of prophethood would make the whole change brought about by the universality of Muhammad's mission and the consequent finality of prophethood in him meaningless. He is, however, mistaken in thinking that the idea of the continuance of prophethood before the Holy Prophet Muhammad is a Magian idea and not Islamic. I quote his words:

"The concept of Magian culture, according to modern researches, includes cultures associated with Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jewish Christianity, Chaldean and Sabian religions. To these creed-communities the idea of the continuity of prophethood was essential, and consequently they lived in a state of constant expectation. The result of the Magian attitude was the disintegration of old communities and the constant formation of fresh ones by all sorts of religious adventures."

I am afraid in the concluding words. Sir Muhammad Iqbal has not spared the prophets who are apparently identified with "religious adventures." I am sure he did not mean this, as the continuance of prophethood before it came to perfection in the person of Muhammad (peace be upon him), is an essentially Islamic idea. All the great prophets were promised and the world kept waiting for them and was thus in a state of expectancy. The Jews had long waited for the advent of Messiah, and both the Jews and the Christians kept on waiting for the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. A state of constant expectation cannot therefore be condemned outright as Sir Muhammad Iqbal has done. In fact, when we speak of finality we admit continuance and consequent expectation before it. According to the plain teachings of the Holy Quran, both, continuance of prophethood till a certain time and its finality, are parts of the same Divine scheme for the upliftment of humanity. A prophet, according to the Holy Quran, was sent to every nation when there were scanty means of intercourse, and there were nations to whom prophets were sent generation after generation to help their onward progress. One such nation was that of the Israelites, to whom a large number of prophets were sent, many of whom are named in the Holy Quran: "We gave Moses the Book and We sent apostles after him one after another" (2:87). This is further explained by the Holy Prophet himself according to a hadith contained in the Sahih al-Bukhari: "The Israelites were led by prophets; when one prophet died, another was raised after him; after me, however, there is no prophet but there shall be khalifahs, i.e., those who would continue my work" (Al-Bukhari, 60:50). It is a grave error therefore to condemn the continued coming of prophets in certain nations as an idea not based on Divine revelation but a Magian idea as is described by Dr. Iqbal.

Sir Muhammad Iqbal is aware that we, the members of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam, Lahore, have kept on fighting with the Qadianis for over twenty years about this very doctrine of the continuance of prophethood and its unavoidable result that all those Muslims who do not believe in the new revelation are kafirs. And therefore we consider his appeal, so far as the doctrine of the finality of prophethood is concerned, timely and opportune. I agree with Sir Muhammad Iqbal when he says:

"Any religious society, historically arising from the bosom of Islam, which claims a new prophethood for its basis and declares all Muslims who do not recognize the truth of its alleged revelation, as kafirs, must therefore be regarded by every Muslim as a serious danger to the solidarity of Islam."

The solidarity of Islam is endangered not by the claims of this or that man or by the claims of a certain section or its leader; it is endangered by the tendency of takfir, by declaring those who believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad as kafirs. A Muslim is one who declares his faith in the Holy Prophet Muhammad and to call him a kafir is to create divisions in the house of Islam that would shatter the idea of unity which, as already stated, is the idea underlying the finality of prophethood. But if the Qadianis are guilty of the heinous offence of shattering the unity of Islam by calling other Muslims kafirs, even the orthodox are not free of this guilt. A man of the learning of Sir Muhammad Iqbal should have given the right lead by denouncing the error itself, not by denouncing one section and defending the other when both are guilty of the same error. He should have also shown disapprobation of the campaign of vilification that is being carried on by some orthodox against the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. No person should be vilified because his followers have gone astray, and Sir Muhammad Iqbal at any rate is not unaware that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement is not responsible for the Qadiani doctrine that those who do not believe in his Mission are kafirs.

I do not propose to enter into a discussion here as to whether or not the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement laid a claim to prophethood and as to whether or not he declared those Muslims to be kafirs who did not believe in him. This discussion I leave for a separate tract. But I would refer Sir Muhammad Iqbal to an incident which he himself so recently related to me when I paid him a visit during his sickness in October 1934. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, he told me, was then in Sialkot he did not remember the year, but it was the year 1904 as the facts related by him show. Sir Fazl-i-Hussain was then practising as a lawyer in Sialkot, and one day while he (Mian Fazl-i-Hussain Sahib) was going to see the Mirza Sahib, he (Sir Muhammad Iqbal) met him in the way, and after inquiring where he was going he also accompanied him. During the conversation that ensued with the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Sir Fazl-i-Hussain asked him if he looked upon those who did not believe in him as kafirs and the Mirza Sahib without a moment's hesitation replied that he did not. This fact which Sir Muhammad Iqbal himself related to me last year is a clear evidence that the Founder of the Ahmadiyyah Movement is not responsible for the present Qadiani doctrine which, as Sir Muhammad Iqbal has rightly pointed out, is a serious danger to the solidarity of Islam.

Sir Muhammad Iqbal's evidence in this respect is fully borne out by the Mirza Sahib's own writings and by his practice. In one of his writings published in October 1902 he writes in clear words: "From the beginning it has been my belief that no one becomes a kafir or dajjal by denial of my claim" (Tiryaq al-Qulub, p. 130). And in practice too he followed this view, for no less than four times (twice in writing and twice orally) did he direct or permit his followers to hold a funeral service over the dead Muslims who were not his followers. There is the most reliable evidence that he himself conducted such services in his lifetime, and his followers did the same in all the big centres where their numbers were sufficient, such as Lahore, Sialkot, Simla, etc., and the practice was only stopped by the present head of the Qadian section, the Lahore section being still faithful to the Founder in this respect.

At any rate, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who is personally a witness of the fact that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement was not guilty of calling other Muslims kafirs, should have raised his voice against the campaign of vilification that is being carried on against him, especially because such a campaign is against the explicit teachings of the Holy Quran which condemns carping and fault-finding even against non-Muslims. The Jews and the Christians were among the bitterest enemies of Islam and they vilified Islam and the Holy Prophet, yet the Muslims were told to call them to the way of the Lord "with wisdom and goodly exhortation and have disputations with them in the best manner" (16:125). A fight on principles would be far more effective than the present campaign of vilification which is undermining the whole strength of Islam. M. Raghib Ahsan of Calcutta gives the right lead in the matter in his article published in the Ihsant dated September 1935. He says:

"The question is, when one group is opposed to this basic principle of Islam, and strives against it under the pretence of different interpretations, what is the proper course for the Muslim community for the protection of self and the defence of the faith? In my opinion it is essential for the Muslims that they should not only be themselves firm on the doctrine of the Finality of Prophethood but also they should explain its significance and object so lucidly that even their children should become acquainted with it. The best way of subduing the opponents is to invite them to the right way with goodly exhortation and wisdom and even if it is necessary to have disputation with them, this best way should not be given up. The Muslims should on all account avoid severity and harshness."

If such noble lead had been given by a man of the position of Sir Muhammad Iqbal, much of the energy of the Muslims could have been spared for some constructive work.

Qadianis do indeed deny the finality of prophethood but even the average Muslim has no real grasp of the idea of finality, as Sir Muhammad Iqbal rightly remarks. And how could he have it when he believes that a prophet, Jesus Christ, must come after the Holy Prophet? It is to be regretted that Sir Muhammad Iqbal has not cleared this point. Perhaps there was the fear of a hue and cry being raised against him by the mullahs and the mullah-ridden masses. If the Qadianis deny the finality of prophethood in Prophet Muhammad by bringing in a new prophet after him, even the orthodox set no value on finality because they insist on bringing in a past prophet, and one sees no difference between the positions of the two parties, the Qadianis and the orthodox. It was the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement who established the finality of prophethood in Muhammad on a firm basis by announcing in clear words that neither an old nor a new prophet can come after our Holy Prophet.

The following quotations from his writings show how strongly he was opposed to the idea of a prophet appearing after the Holy Prophet Muhammad:

"I have firm belief that our Prophet (peace be on him) is the last of the prophets and after him there will appear no prophet in this ummah, neither new nor old...only muhaddath will come" (Nishan-i-Asmani, p. 28).

"Our Prophet (peace be on him) is the last of the prophets and no prophet can come after him, therefore in the Islamic law the muhaddath takes the place of the prophet" (Shahadat al-Qur'an, p. 27).

"Can a wretched liar who claims prophethood and messengership for himself have any faith in the Holy Quran? And can any one who believes in the Holy Quran say that he is a prophet and messenger after the Holy Prophet Muhammad?" (Anjam-i-Atham, p. 27)

It is true that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement has used the word prophet metaphorically regarding a muhaddath and regarding himself, but metaphor and reality are two different things, and he has explained this at many places:

"The Promised Messiah, on account of his being a muhaddath can be called a prophet metaphorically" (Izala-i-Auham, p. 349).

"If muhaddathiyyat is called prophethood metaphorically, it does not mean a claim to prophethood" (Ibid., p. 422).

"I have never claimed to be a prophet and a messenger in a real sense, and to use a word in a metaphorical sense and in a wider literary sense is no heresy" (Anjam-i-Atham, p, 27).

"I have been called a prophet by God in a metaphorical and not in a real sense" (Haqiqat al-Wahyi p. 65)

The Lahore section of the Ahmadiyya Movement sticks to that position. I am sure that Sir Muhammad Iqbal and many other enlightened leaders and ulama believe in a similar finality a finality barring the coming after our Holy Prophet of any prophet whether old or new, and it is only fear of blind opposition that stands in the way of the true Islamic position being cleared up. It is deplorable indeed that the leaders of the Muslim community should not possess the requisite moral courage to give a lead to the masses. So long as this state prevails, the finality of prophethood cannot be established, and the unity of Islam will remain a mere dream. Let the leaders and the enlightened ulama take courage in both hands and face the masses with the central fact of Islam, the finality of prophethood. To talk of finality is useless; to establish it in the face of opposition is the real service of Islam.

It is not sufficient to condemn this thing as Magian and that thing as Jewish. Facts must be faced. The Holy Qur'an is clear on the point that religion having been brought to perfection by the message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, there was no need of a prophet after him, and he was therefore declared to be the Last of the Prophets. In spite of this, all books of Hadith are agreed that Jesus Christ must come. Many of the companions of the Holy Prophet report as having heard him speak of the advent of the Messiah, and all reliable collections of hadith have accredited these hadith. It is expected of every true Muslim to solve this confusion. Sir Muhammad Iqbal avoids it by condemning "the idea of the continuity of the spirit of Messiah as an absolutely Jewish idea." The question is, who introduced this Jewish idea into Hadith? Nor is the appearance of the Messiah a solitary idea. There are the connected ideas of the appearance of the Anti-Christ and Gog and Magog, the latter also finds expression in the Holy Quran. Either all these ideas must be accepted or they must all be rejected as Jewish or Christian ideas. But if all of them are rejected, the result will be that we will have to reject a very large number of hadith, accredited by the best authorities, as spurious. This would give a severe blow to the reliability of hadith as a whole. It is true that there have been some religious adventurers who have denounced the whole collection of hadith, and who think that all the religious commandments contained in hadith are mere fabrications, but I am sure Sir Muhammad Iqbal is not one of them. Even European critics would not condemn Bukhari, and Bukhari has a large number of hadith relating to the advent of the Messiah and of Dajjal and Gog and Magog and other allied subjects.

While condemning the continuance of the spirit of Messiah as "Jewish idea", Sir Muhammad Iqbal does not seem to have given a serious thought to hadith which must entirely be thrown overboard if the prophecies relating to the appearance of the Messiah among the Muslims are to be rejected in toto. He is undoubtedly one Muslim leader whom the masses would follow blindly, and he should have directly faced the question whether the hadith containing prophecies about the Messiah, Dajjal and Gog and Magog, as contained in Bukhari and other reliable collections of hadith, should be accepted or rejected. But he apparently condemns the idea of the coming of Messiah without saying anything about the hadith which speak of it. If Sir Muhammad Iqbal does not accept the authority of the hadith, he should plainly say so; if he does, he should clear his position. And I may add that the mere fact that the Jews expected the coming of the Messiah does not entitle us to condemn that idea, The Jews also received a revelation, and the Messianic idea can be condemned only if it is shown that among the Jews that idea was not based on revelation. The fact is that the hope of a Messiah was given to the Israelite people by prophet after prophet, and there is not the least ground for supposing that it was not based on revelation.

The only fault of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement is that like a true son of Islam, he bowed his head before the authority of the Holy Quran and Hadith, and when he was satisfied that the finality of prophethood in the Holy Prophet Muhammad was a bar against the coining of Jesus Christ in person, whose death is in fact plainly spoken of in the Holy Quran, he, instead of rejecting the hadith, gave it an interpretation which made it conform to the principle of finality laid down in the Holy Quran. He did not reject the prophecies relating to the advent of Messiah but said that they meant, not the coming of Jesus Christ in person because he was a prophet and no prophet could come after our Holy Prophet, and also because he died like other prophets; but the coming of a Mujaddid or Muhaddath in the spirit and power of Jesus Christ. And in support of this interpretation he produced evidence both from previous sacred history and from hadith itself. The Old Testament contained the prophecy that Elijah would appear before the advent of Messiah, and when Jesus Christ was asked where Elijah was if he was the Messiah, he pointed to John the Baptist, explaining that he had come in his spirit and power. This was a clear case where the prophecy of the personal advent of a prophet was declared to be fulfilled in the appearance of quite a different man, because in spirit the two bore a very strong resemblance.

The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement also gave numerous arguments from hadith itself showing that it was a mistake to consider the prophecy as meaning the personal advent of Jesus, for where his advent was spoken of it was added by way of explanation, wa imam-u-kum minkum, meaning "And he is your imam from among yourselves." The prophecy thus clearly showed that the Promised Messiah was not the Israelite Prophet Jesus but an imam of the Muslims from among themselves. Further corroboration of the two Messiahs being distinct personalities is contained in the hadith Al-Bukhari which gives different descriptions of the two Messiahs. The Israelite prophet Jesus Christ whom the Holy Prophet saw in his Ascension is described as having a white complexion and curly hair, whiles the Messiah to come as seen in a vision by him is described as being of a brown colour with lank hair. These two entirely different descriptions of the two personalities clearly show that they belong to two different races and are entirely two different persons in appearance. They receive the same name, Messiah, because they come in similar conditions and have the same functions, the one among the Israelites and the other among the Muslims. Just as the first Messiah came 1300 years after Moses, the second Messiah comes 1300 years after the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is plainly spoken of as the like of Moses, both in the Mosaic prophecy and in the Holy Quran. Again, as the Jews had lost their temporal power before the appearance of the Israelite Messiah, the Muslims have from a mighty ruling nation of the world being reduced to a condition of slavery in most countries before the coming of the second Messiah. Both nations expected a man with temporal glory who should lead them to material conquests, but both Messiahs were ordained to fill the humbler role of a spiritual reformer. And both were rejected in a similar manner. The Jews not only rejected their Messiah but also crucified him; the Muslims have been no less severe in their opposition. The two Messiahs bear a similarity even in their acceptance. The majority of the followers of the first Messiah raised him from prophethood to the dignity of Godhead, while the majority of the followers of the second Messiah have raised him from mujaddidship to the dignity of prophethood.

I am fully conscious that Islam is a religion which does not ban reason, but at the same time it must be added that Islam is based on revelation and not on reason. The Quran and the Hadith are the foundations of the religion of Islam, and though it is true that hadith which contradict any principle laid down in the Holy Quran cannot be accepted, yet at the same time Hadith being an explanation of the Holy Quran given by the Holy Prophet himself cannot be lightly set aside, especially such Hadith as are contained in the Sahih al-Bukhari which by an almost unanimous verdict of the Muslim community is the most reliable book (Asah al-kutub) after the Book of God. It is easy to condemn the coming of the Messiah as a Jewish idea but what about the large number of hadith contained in Al-Bukhari and other reliable collections about the appearance of the Messiah among the Muslims, and the still larger number about other allied subjects such as Dajjal and Gog and Magog? The Holy Prophet's word is the authority before which a Muslim must bow his head, and if the Holy Prophet said, and certainly he did say, that the Messiah must make his appearance among the Muslims, it is flouting the authority of the Prophet to say that the idea of the coming of a Messiah is borrowed from the Jews. The greatest Imams of Islam never thought of throwing off the yoke of Hadith, and that great luminary of Islam, Imam Abu Hanifa, is reported to have said: "Give up my word before the word of the Messenger of God." Even if Sir Muhammad Iqbal may claim the dignity of a mujtahid, he cannot assume a role higher than that of Imam Abu Hanifa, and he must bow his head before the Hadith. He is at liberty to give his own interpretation to the words of the Prophet, that being the proper sphere of a mujtahid, but he cannot reject those words simply because the idea of the coming of a Messiah is distasteful to him.

The remedy suggested by Sir Muhammad Iqbal is practical negation of the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). For, as I said at the very commencement, the unity of the human race is the great idea underlying the finality of prophethood which means that there shall be no authoritative revelation after Prophet Muhammad. It must be borne in mind that according to the plainest teachings of the Quran and Hadith, the advent of our Holy Prophet does not make the end of revelation but the end of authoritative revelation, or the Gibraelic revelation, so that Prophet Muhammad shall be the final authority in religion. The great idea was to bring all people under one authority and to gather them under one standard, in order to bring about the unity of the human race, the greatest requisite of human civilisation, not to end Divine communion. As the Holy Prophet has said, "There shall be people among his followers to whom God shall speak though they shall not be prophets" (Al-Bukhari: Kitab: Munaqib Umar). If God had ceased to speak to His righteous servants, it would have meant an end of religious experience, and of religion itself. On the other hand, the continuance of prophethood would have meant authority besides that of the Holy Prophet. Prophethood and authority go hand in hand: "And We have not sent a messenger but that he should be obeyed with the permission of God" (4:64). The whole difference lies in this that when God speaks to a man and grants him authority, he is a prophet; and when He speaks to a man but that revelation carries no authority with it, he is called a muhaddath in Islam. And the mujaddid that is promised at the beginning of every century is also a muhaddath. A muhaddath may be called a prophet only metaphorically, because God speaks to him, but he is not a prophet in a real sense, because his revelation is not authoritative and he is himself under the authority of a prophet. The final authority based on revelation rests with the Prophet Muhammad.

Now let us see what this final authority has to say regarding the unity of his followers. Take the Divine revelation first and there it is declared in plain words: "Do not say to him who offers you Islamic salutation (salam), thou art not a believer!" That is the highest authority, the authority of the final Divine revelation. No Muslim who believes in the Holy Quran can say to another Muslim who accosts him with assalam-u-alaikum that he is a kafir and not a Muslim. The Holy Prophet himself on the highest authoritythat of Bukhariis reported to have said: "Whoever says his prayers as we say our prayers (salla salatana) and faces the Qiblah (in his prayers) and eats the animal slaughtered by us, he is a Muslim and for him is the covenant of God and His Messenger, so do not look lightly on the covenant of God" (Al-Bukhari: 8:28). Here is the plain verdict of the final authority in religion that any one who says prayers as directed by the Prophet and faces the Qiblah when saying his prayers is a Muslim. Yet our national poet and great philosopher says that the Qadianis must be declared kafirs. Do the Qadianis not say the same prayers as do other Muslims? Do they not face the same Qiblah in their prayers? If they do, and Sir Muhammad Iqbal is aware that they do it, then indeed they have the covenant with God and His Messenger that they are Muslims, and any one who declares them kafirs reject the authority of the Prophet Muhammad.

Sir Muhammad Iqbal makes a fundamental mistake when he compares the Qadianis with the Bahais and declares the latter to be more honest. Error and honesty may often go together. Even a Christian who believes in Trinity and the Atonement of Christ, even an idol-worshipper, may be honest in his convictions, and even a Muslim may be dishonest in his convictions. No human being can decide who is honest in his convictions and who is not; it is only Mullah-mindedness which looks upon everybody differing with it as dishonest. If the Bahais reject the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad as the final authority in religious matters, that is their own concern, they may be honest or otherwise; and if the Qadianis accept Muhammad as the final authority and still believe in the coming of prophets after him against the plain teachings of the Quran and Hadith, it is not another Muslim's business to say that they are dishonest. And even if they are, they are still Muslims and not kafirs on the plain authority of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, because they say their prayers exactly in the manner in which the Prophet said them and they face the Qiblah in their prayers. And the Bahais, even with a certificate of honesty from Sir Muhammad Iqbal, are not Muslims because they do not say their prayers in the manner prescribed by the Holy Prophet nor do they face the Qiblah, rejecting as they do the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad as final authority in religious matters. It is Muhammad's certificate (may peace and the blessings of God be upon him), that matters in matters religious and not Sir Muhammad Iqbal's.

In fact, all those people who declare faith in the Kalimah — la ilaha illa Allah Muhammad ar-Rasul Allah (there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) are Muslims whatever their differences may be. The person who believes in Muhammad has Muhammad's authority that he is a Muslim, and to call him a kafir is to deny the authority of Muhammad as the Last Prophet of God. One wonders to see Sir Muhammad Iqbal lading so much stress on the finality of prophethood and at the same time denying the authority of the final Prophet. There were people in the Prophet's time who were the most dangerous and sworn enemies of Islam, the hypocrites, who would not join the Prophet in defence of Islam, and yet they were looked upon by the Holy Prophet as Muslims because they said that they believed in him and said their prayers facing the Qiblah. Even their chief, 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy, was honoured by the Prophet as being a Muslim. When 'Abdullah died, the Holy Prophet said funeral prayers over his body in spite of opposition of Hazrat 'Umar. Nor did the Companions of the Holy Prophet ever declare a believer in the Holy Prophet to be kafir, whatever their differences. The Kharijis were the first group in Islam who called their Muslim brethren kafirs, and they are spoken of as having shattered the unity of Islam qad shaqqu asa-l-Muslimina. And every one who today declares a believer in the Prophet Muhammad to be a kafir also shatters the unity of Islam, whether he is one of the orthodox Ulama or a Qadiani or the great Muslim philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal. According to a saying of the Holy Prophet, whoever calls a believer in the Kalimah a kafir, is nearer to unbelief than to Islam. Man kqffara ahl-a la ilaha ill-Allah fa huwa ila-l kufri aqrab.

And why are the Qadianis kafirs? Because, says Sir Muhammad Iqbal, they believe in the coming of a prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. But all the orthodox do the same. The Sunnis and the Shias and the Ahl Hadith set as much value on the finality of prophethood as do the Qadianis, because they all believe in the coming of Prophet Jesus Christ, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. So strong is this belief that men at the top of opposition to the Ahmadiyya Movement who honestly believe that Jesus Christ is dead and that he will not come to guide the Muslims have not the moral courage to say so and face the opposition. But a man of Sir Muhammad Iqbal's position should not shirk his duty, if it was the call of duty which prompted him to join in the general uproar against the Ahmadiyya movement and declare the Qadianis as kafirs because they accept a prophet after Muhammad (peace be on him), With the same force as he has used against the Qadianis he should declare the orthodox Muslims kafirs because they also believe in the coming of a prophet after the Final Prophet. It is not just to have one balance to weigh the Qadianis and another to weigh the orthodox.

There is yet another point in Sir Muhammad Iqbai's statement which deserves to be noted here. He not only condemns the Qadianis and applauds the orthodox for one and the same belief, viz., that of the coming of a prophet after the Holy Prophet but also he condemns as kafir the only group of Muslims, the Lahore Ahmadis, who accept the finality of prophethood in the truest sense, rejecting the coming of either an old or a new prophet after him. It is true that he does not say so in his statement, but he gives unstinted support to the blind opposition and persecution which is being carried on against both, the Qadian and the Lahore sections of the Ahmadiyya Movement, If he really felt that a certain group ought to be condemned on account of its errors, he should also have raised his voice against blind opposition, to the Lahore section which neither believes in the coming of a prophet after Muhammad nor calls any Muslim a kafir.

The Ahmadis are not the first group in Islam who have been declared kafirs; their predecessors in this line ate numerous. It is not yet fifty years since the Ahl-i-Hadith (or Wahabis) were unanimously declared to be kafirs by the orthodox, and yet today they are a part and parcel of the orthodox. Later still, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was declared to be a kafir. It is amusing to hear men of light and learning talk of fatwas of kufr against the Ahmadis obtained not only from Ulama in India but also from Arabia and other Islamic countries as if the disease which has sapped the energy of the Muslim community were peculiar to any one country. Previous fatwas of kufr were also endorsed by the Ulama of Arabia and there is nothing strange in the fatwa of kufr against Ahmadis being so endorsed. The Wahabis and the Naichris (followers of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan) have met with a similar treatment. It is plague which has infected the Ulama of every country.

Takfir or the turning of Muslims into kafirs is as much the favourite occupation of the Ulama of the later period all over the Muslim world as tabligh or carrying the message of Islam to non-Muslims was that of their great predecessors in the earlier and glorious days of Islam. If, through their noble efforts, people entered Islam in companies, through the efforts of these latter-day upholders of the cause of Islam, Muslims are being turned out of Islam in companies. If all the nobleor ignoble-doings of our Ulama, the fatwas of kufr, are gathered together, I do not think there will be a single person left who may be called Muslim! Sir Muhammad Iqbal himself is sure to share the fate of Maulvi Zafar Ali, of Zamindar, who has already been declared to be a kafir. I have not the least doubt that the moment Sir Muhammad Iqbal makes known publicly those beliefs of his in which he does not agree with the orthodox, he will be in the same camp with the Qadianis.

I do not defend anybody who declares a Muslim to be a kafir, least of all the Qadianis who with one stroke of pen have turned four hundred or more million of Muslims out of the pale of Islam. But I say that even they are Muslims so long as they fulfil the conditions laid down by the Holy Prophet: "Whoever says prayers as we say and faces our Qibla ... he is a Muslim and has the covenant of God and His Messenger." Every Muslim must bow his head before the authority of the Holy Prophet and honour the covenant of God and His Messenger. It is due to this respect for the Prophet's covenant that the great Imams have held that even if there are ninety-nine grounds for the kufr of a man and only one ground for calling him a Muslim, still he should be called a Muslim and not a kafir. That one ground is declaration that "there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger." If even kafir can become a Muslim by the Kalimah, how can a Muslim be turned out of Islam in spite of this confession?

The most humiliating partfor the wholehowever, is that in which he implores the Government to interfere in the controversy between the orthodox and the Qadianis, and denounces it for not having interfered earlier and handled the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in a manner similar to that in which Jesus Christ was handled by the Roman Government. I quote him:

"In so far as Islam is concerned, it is no exaggeration to say that solidarity of the Muslim community in India under the British is far less safe than the solidarity of the Jewish community in the days of Jesus under the Romans. Any religious adventurer in India can set up any claim. This liberal State of ours does not care a fig for the integrity of a parent community provided the adventurer assures it of his loyalty, and his followers are regular in the payment of taxes due to the State."

There can be no two opinions regarding Sir Muhammad Iqbal's meaning. He denounces the British Government because it did not hang the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement and thus rendered unsafe the solidarity of the Muslims under it, while the Roman Government of Jesus’ days is praised because it crucified Jesus for differing with the orthodox Jews and thus helped the Jews in maintaining their solidarity. Sir Muhammad Iqbal is a great student of history as well, and he must be sure of the fact stated here that Jewish solidarity was made safe under the Roman Empire by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. How good the Romans were in Jesus’ days, argues Sir Muhammad Iqbal, as they crucified Jesus Christ on the orthodox lodging a complaint that his claim to Godhead endangered their solidarity. That was the proper way of dealing with a "religious adventurer" in his opinion. But religious adventurers are safe under the British rule which did not care a fig for the solidarity of the Muslims and send Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to the gallows!

That this is what Sir Muhammad Iqbal means is clear on the face of it. But he makes himself clearer, if further clarity were needed, by quoting Akbar's couplet:

Pray for the Government, friends; Say, I am God and you will not be hanged!

Evidently what Sir Muhammad Iqbal means is that the Government should have a heresy law on its Statute Book to hang every heretic; but then there will be a number of heresy laws, one for the Muslims, another for the Hindus, a third for the Buddhists, a fourth for the Christians, a fifth for the Zoroastrians, a sixth for the Sikhs. Or, maybe, he is of opinion that a heresy law is the special privilege of the Muslims alone whose religion, according to Sir Muhammad Iqbal, knows no tolerance. But even if Islam alone were granted this favour, there are a thousand grounds on which individuals and sects declare one another kafir, and perhaps there will be a thousand kinds of heresy in which it will be impossible for any judge to discriminate, though Sir Muhammad Iqbal safeguards the interests of the other heretical sects by saying that "their mutual accusations of heresy" are excusable because they do not affect the vital principles. But I do not think there is any vital principle of Islam more important for the solidarity of Islam than that which requires all persons to be treated as Muslims who confess a faith in the Kalimah, and that is the very principle which all heresy-mongers, to whatever sect they may belong, aim at destroying.

What pains one most is that one should stoop so low as to invoke the aid of non-Muslim Government to set the house of Islam in order! Islam which, even according to a Christian writer, did not stand in need of temporal support from a Muslim ruler, never needed an Asoka or a Constantine for its onward progress in the world, cannot now maintain its solidarity, according to a Muslim poet and philosopher, without the helping hand of a Christian government. But I assure Sir Muhammad Iqbal that with the present mentality of our Ulama and great leaders to declare every other Muslim a kafir, even the helping hand of the British rule cannot convert the shattered Muslim community into a solid whole.

["The other great religions won their way slowly, by painful struggle, and finally triumphed with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. Christianity had Constantine, Buddhism its Asoka, and Zoroastrianism its Cyrus, each lending to his cult the mighty force of secular authority. Not so in Islam. Arising in a desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race, previously undistinguished in human annals, Islam sallied forth on its great adventure with the slightest human backing and against the heaviest material odds" (The New World of Islam by Stoddard).]

As regards his appeal for a heresy law, I do not think it would appeal to any sensible person in this 20th century. He writes:

"I very much appreciate the orthodox Hindus' demand for protection against religious reforms in the new constitution. Indeed this demand ought to have been first made by the Muslims who, unlike the Hindus, entirely eliminate the race-idea from their social structure. The Government must seriously consider the present situation and try if possible to understand the mentality of the average Muslim in regard to this issue which he regards as absolutely vital to the integrity of his community."

Does Sir Muhammad Iqbal seriously mean that the Government should make laws disallowing any reform in the old religious ideas? He agrees with the Sanatanists, he tells us, that there shall be no reforms in the orthodox religion, but even the Sanatanists have never condemned the Government for not having hanged Swami Dayanand or Keshub Chandra Sen or other reformers of that type, and Sir Muhammad Iqbal would be disappointed to find himself alone in demanding cross for reformers. What the Hindus want is protection against reforms which should be imposed on them by legislatures and they have never demanded that any one who arises with a message of reform among them should be sent outright to the gallows.

Again Sir Muhammad Iqbal blames the Government for its toleration policy:

"Is it then fair to preach toleration to the parent community whose integrity is threatened and to allow the rebellious group to carry on its propaganda with impunity even if that propaganda is highly offensive?"

If any propaganda is really offensive, the Government has already ample powers in its hands to deal with it. One is however surprised that a man of Sir Muhammad Iqbal's extensive reading should be unaware of the scurrilous literature that is being produced by the "parent community," copying the methods of the Christian missionary and the Arya Samajist preacher against Islam, to which may be added the severe persecution of the almost insignificant numbers of the Ahmadiyya community and the boycott movement carried on against it. Boycott and vilification are both weapons which have always been used against truth, never in support of it, and yet a man occupying such a high position as Sir Muhammad Iqbal justifies the most drastic methods to be adopted to make life impossible for the Ahmadis. I do not think he is unaware of the fact that Ahmadis are being expelled from the Muslim societies where they have worked for years and years; they are being dismissed from services for no other offence than that they are Ahmadis; a complete boycott of them is being carried on; even their dead are not allowed to be buried in graveyards which have been used by them for almost half a century. And yet at this juncture in the life of the Ahmadiyya community, Sir Muhammad Iqbal comes up, not only to defend and further encourage the oppressing and persecuting majority but also to invoke the aid of the government for that majority to completely crush the insignificant minority of one in a thousand.

The main theme of Sir Muhammad Iqbal's statement is, one is surprised to learn, condemnation of religious tolerance, one of the brightest gems in the crown of Islam. He condemns the so-called enlightened Muslims because "they have gone to the extent of preaching tolerance to their brethren-in-Islam"a sin, I think, for which they must for ever gnash their teeth in hell; he excuses Sir Herbert Emerson for preaching tolerance to the Muslims only because he has not been brought up in the culture of Islam, as if tolerance were un-Islamic: he condemns the British Government for being tolerant and liberal and praises the Roman Government of old for having no such scruples. What a pity that thoughts like these should be given expression to by a great exponent of a religion which lays down as its basic principle: "There shall be no compulsion in religion" (2:256). If these words have any meaning, they mean that no one shall be compelled to adopt a certain religious view. It is the Magna Charta of religious freedom for the Muslim and the non-Muslim alike. And Islam carried the idea of religious tolerance to such an extent that protection of the churches, where idols of Jesus and Mary were kept in those days, and of all other houses of worship was declared to be one of the first duties of a Muslim State. Can it be imagined that a religion, which gave Such freedom to those who rejected the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet and worshipped human beings and idols, required a Muslim to be hanged because he differed with the majority in his religious views?

However, Sir Muhammad Iqbal does not seem to be very serious about this matter. He speaks of the good old days when men were hanged for claiming Godhead, as it happened in the case of Jesus Christ and Mansur, and yet he considers Jesus a prophet and Mansur a saint! In translating Akbar's Urdu couplet, he speaks of Mansur as "Persia's mystic saint", "a rebel" and "a religious adventurer" deserving to be hanged, and yet a prophet or a mystic saint! It is not impossible that Sir Muhammad Iqbal has a similar conception of the saint of Qadian. It was he who saw in the small band of followers of the saint of Qadian "a pure and unmixed type of Islamic culture" (Islami sirat ka taith namuna) and yet he is of opinion that he ought to have been hanged like the mystic saint of Persia. [This description of the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement was given by Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal at Aligarh; see Millat-i-Baidza per ek Imrani Nazar, p. 18, published by Marghub Agency, Lahore.]

I am sure Sir Muhammad Iqbal issued this statement in haste. In one respect at least he has corrected himself. His first statement surely blamed the government for not having hanged the Founder and crushed the Ahmadiyya movement in its infancy, but on a second thought he found that this position was untenable and issued another statement that he wanted only that the Government should treat the Qadianis as non-Muslims. A little more consideration is sure to convince him that his new position is also untenable. If a person says he is a Muslim, the government has no business to issue a communiqué declaring him a non-Muslim even if the ulama declare him to be a kafir with all the force at their command. The Quran and the Hadith, as already quoted, are against Sir Muhammad Iqbal. The Prophet's practice is also against him. Even the hypocrites in the Prophet's time who were the sworn enemies of Islam and who openly disbelieved in the Prophet were never declared to be non-Muslims by the Muslim State under the Prophet himself, simply because ostensibly they subscribed to the Kalimah. Even the evidence of history is against Sir Muhammad Iqbal, for the heretics of to-day have very often been the saints of tomorrow. Syed Ahmad of Sirhind was thrown into prison by a Muslim ruler on the complaint of the ulama as a rebel of Islam, and yet the whole of India, and Afghanistan as well, accept him as the Mujaddid of the 11th century of Hijrah today. There are numerous such examples which I need not recount here. It is therefore not too much to "hope that even Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who set on foot a worldwide movement for the propagation of Islam will be accepted as a saint tomorrow.

aaiil.org > Literature > Books > Sir Muhammad Iqbal's Statement re The Qadianis by Maulana Muhammad Ali
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