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Books Section > The Promised Messiah [The Second Coming of Jesus] by Maulana Muhammad Ali Sahib > Chapter III : The Appointment of Mujaddids (Renovators)

Chapter II : The Appointment of Mujaddids (Renovators):

He makes the spirit to light by His command upon whom He pleases of His servants. (40:15)

The need for the advent of prophets:

The concept of the Finality of Prophethood, is a great pillar of Islam and a strong basis for Islamic unity, but it also brings home to us some difficulties. Before the advent of the Holy Prophet, whenever mischief and corruption spread in the world, God appointed a messenger for the guidance of the people. In all the great nations of the world we observe the same phenomenon but we shall take particular notice of the nation which not only has been mentioned several times in the Quran but between which, and the nation of Islam, a parallel has been drawn. My reference is to the Israelites. Among them, after Moses and Aaron, several prophets were raised in succession as has been pointed out in the Quran:

And We sent messengers after him one after another 1


Then we sent Our messengers one after another. 2

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Shari'ah (Law) of Moses was not perfect. Neither were Moses and Aaron or the other prophets perfect examples for the Israelites. Any prophet who appeared among the Israelites or in any other nation, was endowed with only some of the manifestations of divine attributes. However, the most perfect example appeared only in the sacred person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Similarly, the law and guidance which a previous prophet brought was meant to fulfil the needs of a particular age and these were the needs which necessitated the advent of prophets. Apart from this, people went astray from the path of righteousness, or, with the passage of time, their hearts became hard when they forsook the truths which the previous prophets had brought to them. Although the Holy Prophet was an embodiment of the highest divine manifestation and was a perfect example for mankind, and after him Muslims did not need any other model, and although the promise for the preservation of the Quran was also given by God, yet He knew that as years rolled by, human nature would become rusty. It was, therefore, essential that God should arrange for the removal of shortcomings from the Muslim ummah. Accordingly, the Quran reminds Muslims:

And (that) they should not be like those who were given the Book before, but time was prolonged for them, so their hearts hardened. 3

There is also a hadith applicable to the conditions of Muslims which says:

"The best people are of my period (qarn), 4 then those who will join them, and thereafter those who will join them." 5

After this, the spreading of falsehood and deception is mentioned. The question is, when in times of need God had previously raised prophets for the guidance of people, has He made some arrangement for the Muslim ummah, not contravening, of course, the concept of the Finality of Prophethood?

What is the basis of the appointment of renovators (mujaddids)?

The reply to this question is found in a hadith which is mentioned in one of the six authentic collections of Tradition and has been accepted by the ummah by their conduct and practice, and its authenticity has been testified to by those great luminaries of Islam whose honesty and truthfulness have also been acknowledged by the ummah. Before I discuss the contents of the hadith, it is necessary to discuss the principle on which this hadith is based. If that principle is correct, in the light of the Quran and Hadith, there is no doubt why this report should not be accepted as genuine. To solve the current needs of the Muslim community by methods of reasoning, rationalisation, induction and deduction from the Quran and the Traditions had been an established practice by Muslims. And we find a large number of savants of Islam who had done great service to the cause of Islam, some specialising in one branch of knowledge and some in others. According to their own aptitude and talent they did more or less the work of reforming the Muslim people. But one thing which distinguished a mujaddid (renovator) from these savants of Islam was his special relationship with God. He was spoken to by God and was appointed for the removal of some errors from among Muslims and was granted by God special success and support in his mission. In short, the real basis of the tradition relating to the appointment of a mujaddid, in fact, was that God communicated with him and assigned a special task to him for the reformation of the community. Thus, if God's communication with the members of this ummah is a fact and is based on a solid principle, to raise objections against the authenticity of this tradition of the coming of mujaddids is futile. If God does not communicate with the righteous servants (auliya) in this ummah, the tradition in question automatically becomes null and void. The real issue under discussion, therefore, is God's speaking with his auliya and His supporting them with signs and with knowledge of the unseen. On this matter we shall first take up the point in the light of the Quran and Hadith, and then we shall discuss whether God had promised to raise after the Holy Prophet persons who will be following the path of prophethood (minhaj-i nubuwwat); that is to say, spiritual reformation of the people should be their main objective. If both these points are established, there is no need to discuss in detail the tradition of the mujaddid.

God's communication with non-prophets in the previous ummahs:

The easiest way to find out whether God communicates with the righteous servants (auliya) in this ummah and informs them of the knowledge of the unseen, is to know whether, before the appointment of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, God's communication was particularly confined to the prophets of God alone or was granted to non-prophets as well. In this connection, the first testimony from the Quran is that of the mother of Moses. Divine revelation was given to her and she was definitely vouchsafed knowledge of the unseen as the Holy Quran testifies:

And We revealed to Moses' mother, saying: Give him suck; then when thou fearest for him, cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve; surely We shall bring him back to thee and make him one of the messengers. 6

Although Moses' mother was not a prophetess, yet God revealed to her and communicated with her and that information was so full of certainty that on its basis Moses' mother cast away the baby, Moses in the river. Thus it is definite and incontrovertible proof that God used to communicate with non-prophets in the previous ummahs and inform them of the knowledge of the unseen. Those were not matters of presumption and conjecture but of the highest certainty.

The second example is the mother of Jesus:

When the angels said: O Mary, surely Allah has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of the world. O Mary, be obedient to thy Lord and humble thyself and bow down with those who bow.... When the angels said: O Mary, surely Allah gives thee the news with a word from Him (of one) whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, worthy of regard in this world and in the Hereafter, and of those who are drawn nigh (to Allah). 7

This is also a divine communication to a non-prophet and consists of prophecies of great importance. There are many other examples like these in the Quran but I have cited only these two - of women who were not prophets, yet they received knowledge of the unseen - because it is an established fact that a woman has never been raised as a prophet.

God's communication cannot end with the termination of prophethood:

What I want to establish by these examples is that when God used to communicate previously with non-prophets and inform them of unseen matters, why is this practice not being continued in this ummah? Had God communicated before only with prophets and not with non-prophets, it was easy to understand the cessation of Divine communion and communication with the termination of prophethood. However, when God's communication was previously granted to non-prophets, the termination of prophethood could not be the cause of preventing this manifestation of God's attribute for the coming generations. And if in this ummah the door of Divine communication, without rhyme or reason, was closed, we will have to admit that God's attribute of speech with non-prophets is now in abeyance. However, as has been mentioned above, if God's communication came only to the share of the prophets, the possibility of its termination with the closure of prophethood (Khatm-i Nubuwwat) was conceivable. In addition to this, in the Quran, the righteous of this ummah have been compared with Mary. 8 This also clearly indicates that if Mary was spoken to by God and was informed of matters unseen, there is no reason why the true believers and the righteous in this ummah should not be granted this Divine favour. On this point there is also clear evidence in the authentic traditions of the Holy Prophet. Thus in the Sahih al-Bukhari it is mentioned:

"It is reported from the Holy Prophet that he said that among those that were before you of the Israelites there used to be men who were spoken to by God. They were not prophets, and if there is one among my followers, it is `Umar." 9

I will discuss this report in detail a little later. Here I just want to show that, as non-prophets in the previous communities were spoken to by God and were endowed with knowledge of unseen matters, similarly the ummah of the Holy Prophet will not be deprived of this favour. The mention of `Umar here is only a testimony of his greatness, or, an account of his being from among the first of the companions, as has been agreed upon by all the annotators of Hadith. In addition to this, the Quran has clearly testified the granting of knowledge of the unseen to the righteous in this ummah. Says the Quran:

Now surely the friends of Allah, they have no fear nor do they grieve.... For them is good news in this world's life and in the Hereafter. 10

In the Hadith, al-bushra (good news) has been explained by the Holy Prophet himself as true visions (ru'ya al-salihah). 11 And true vision comprises the information of true news of the future. Thus in Al-Tafsir al-Kabir it is stated:

"It is reported from the Holy Prophet that he said: al-bushra is al-ru'ya al-salihah, that a believer sees or is seen about him, and it is reported from the Holy Prophet that prophethood has gone and true visions (al-mubashshirat) have remained." 12

In the last part of the above statement, Imam Razi has quoted another tradition which indicates that prophethood has come to an end and only true visions have remained.

True visions (mubashshirat) are a part of prophethood:

Accordingly, the true import of this verse is explained by the tradition in which the Holy Prophet is reported to have said:

"There has remained nothing of prophethood except mubashshirat. They, (the companions), asked: "What are mubashshirat?" He replied: "True visions (ru'ya al-salihah)." 13

About the same ru'ya al-salihah, in another tradition, it is stated:

"It is reported from the Holy Prophet that he said, "The vision of the believers is one forty-sixth part of prophethood." 14

This shows that true visions are indeed a part of prophethood, but they do not refer to ordinary dreams. The tradition about `Umar, quoted above, shows that it means Divine communion and communication with the righteous servants (auliya). While explaining these words it has been recorded in Fath al-Bari:

"Ibn al-Tin said, that the meaning of the hadith is that revelation (i.e. prophetic revelation) will be cut off after my (the Prophet) death and what will be left will be al-ru'ya (vision); and ilham (inspiration) is also included in that, because it contains the news of what is going to happen. And that (i.e. ilham) which is granted to the non-prophets is like the ru`ya to prophets in relation to the revelation (wahy) which is granted to them as has been mentioned in the earlier hadith relating to the virtues (manaqib) of `Umar, that in the previous ummahs there used to be muhaddathun (those spoken to by God). And the meaning of muhaddath (with fath on the dal) is contained in the word mulham (with fath on the ha). And many of the auliya (saints or righteous servants) had been given news of the unseen and it happened exactly as they had foretold." 15

Here ilham, that is, revelation to the saints, has been implicitly included among true visions (ru'ya al-salihah), because the revelation to the prophets brought down by the Angel Gabriel, on account of its purity, possesses a great excellence and is experienced in the condition of wakefulness. Compared to this, the revelation granted to saints has been called ru'ya (vision). There is a reason for adopting this word because dreams are common and frequent and ordinary believers also partake of them whereas ilham is meant specifically for the muhaddathin. Therefore, this word, which is more comprehensive, has been chosen - as special communication is included therein. In the revelation of the saints, the greater part consists of dreams. Imam Raghib writes under the word wahy:

"The divine communication which is granted to the prophets (anbiya) and the saints (auliya) is called revelation (wahy). 16

This means that the use of the word wahy for the ilham of saints is also permissible and the Quranic evidence in its support has been mentioned above about the use of the word wahy for Moses' mother, although she was not a prophetess. Still additional support can be found in Imam Qurtabi's saying recorded in Fath al-Bari (Commentary of al-Bukhari), under the chapter Ruya al-Salihin:

"A true righteous Muslim is he whose condition resembles that of the prophets. Thus he is honoured with that with which the prophets are honoured and that is the knowledge of matters unseen." 17

Persons who are spoken to by God - muhaddathin:

Now we shall discuss another aspect of this question in relation to the presence of muhaddathin in this ummah and on this point there is an agreement of opinion, so much so that in the other reading of the verse:

We never sent a messenger or a prophet before thee but when he desired 18

Hazrat ibn Masud's recitation is recorded thus:

....and a prophet and a muhaddath." 19

In Al-Bukhari, the same version is reported from Ibn `Abbas. 20 This, at least, shows that the existence of those who are spoken to by God (muhaddathin) 21 is an established fact and, in addition to this, they have an extensive resemblance with the prophets and the messengers on account of their being mentioned together with them. When we turn back to the hadith we find the following unanimously accepted report, (which has been quoted before):

" Abu Hurairah reported that the Holy Prophet said that from those ummahs who have passed before you, there used to be muhaddathin among them. If there is one from among my followers, it is `Umar." 22

This means that Hazrat `Umar was a muhaddath of a high calibre. Hazrat `Umar's name has been particularly mentioned because it occurs in another tradition:

"Had there been a prophet after me it would have been `Umar," 23

which clearly shows the great resemblance of the station of muhaddath with that of a prophet. In yaku fi ummati (if there is one from among my followers) does not mean there was no one in the Holy Prophet's ummah or that Hazrat `Umar was the only muhaddath. In Fath al-Bari (Commentary of al-Bukhari) this tradition has been interpreted thus:

"This saying does not contradict the existence of muhaddathin because his (the Holy Prophet's) ummah is the most excellent of all the ummahs and when it has been established that they (muhaddathin) were found in other ummahs, their presence in this ummah in a most perfect manner cannot be denied and the words (mentioned in the hadith) lay emphasis on the point."

The author of Fath al-Bari then goes on to illustrate the point:

"If a person says, "If I could have a friend it is such a one', it does not mean that he has no friend or no friends except that particular person. On the other hand, the main object of such an expression is to demonstrate the distinction of such a person, and it is further stated that there has been a considerable number of muhaddathin in this ummah because the philosophy (hikmah) behind the presence of their abundance in this ummah, seems to be, that they may resemble the abundance of the Israelite prophets. As there cannot be a large number of prophets in this ummah, because its Prophet is the Last of the Prophets, therefore, to compensate for this, a large number of mulhams (those spoken to by God) were raised in this ummah." 24

Who is a muhaddath?

What is meant by muhaddath? Some say that he is one who is a mulham, one who receives ilham (inspiration) from God. Some say that he is a righteous person who receives communication from the angels. Yet others say that he is a person whose tongue utters truth spontaneously. Some are of the opinion that a muhaddath is not a prophet but a mukallam (one spoken to by God). And this last meaning is also found in an exalted (marfu') tradition which is reported by Abu Sa`id. In fact, Al-Bukhari's version of this tradition defines the meaning of muhaddath clearly and has been reported thus:

"It is reported from Abu Hurairah that the Holy Prophet said that among those that were before you of the Israelites there used to be men who were spoken to by God. They were not prophets, and if there is anyone within my ummah, it is `Umar." 25

The difference in this hadith and the other one is that the former has the word muhaddath (reported by Abu Sa'id) and al-Bukhari says: "men who were spoken to by God (yukallamun), (but) they were not prophets."

This shows that according to the saying of the Holy Prophet, the meaning of muhaddath is a person who is not a prophet but one with whom God communicates.

The status of muhaddath:

As to the status and position of a muhaddath, it is enough to quote Fath al-Bari again. He is not a master (muta') like a prophet but is obedient (muti') to his own prophet and he is subservient to the prophet he follows. Thus it is reported in Fath al-Bari:

"When the being of a muhaddath is established, he does not issue commands according to what is given to him (by way of ilham) but it is essential for him that he should judge it according to the Quran. If it is in accordance with the Quran and the Practice (Sunnah) of the Holy Prophet, he acts upon it, otherwise he rejects it. Although this could happen, yet it happens rarely to those whose whole life is based on obedience and allegiance to the Book (the Quran) and the Sunnah (Practice of the Holy Prophet). 26

The view of Mujaddid Alf Thani (Mujaddid of the Second Millennium):

It is better to know what the latter-day writers have said on the subject. Hazrat Mujaddid Ahmad Alf Thani of Sirhind 27 says:

"Let it be known to you, O brother Siddiq, that God sometimes communicates with a person face to face and such persons are from among the prophets, and sometimes the communication takes place with some of those perfected ones who are their followers on account of their allegiance and by way of inheritance. And when a person is granted this kind of communication in abundance he is called a muhaddath as this name was given to the Amir al-Mu'minin, Hazrat `Umar." 28

Hazrat Shah Waliullah Muhaddath Dehlavi 29 writes:

"From among these stations is truthfulness (siddiqiyyat) and muhaddathiyyat. And their reality is like this, that from the ummah there is a person who in his natural disposition resembles the prophets as an intelligent pupil has an alliance with his spiritual leader." 30

He further writes:

"And from among the stations (maqamat) of the heart there are two more stations which are particularly related with those souls who resemble the prophets. The reflection of these stations falls on these souls as the reflection of the moon's light falls on a mirror which is placed in an open inlet, and the reflection of this mirror falls on roofs, walls and on the earth. These two stations are also like siddiqiyyat and muhaddathiyyat." 31

Mujaddid Alf Thani says that God communicates in abundance with a muhaddath and Shah Waliullah has declared a muhaddath as being like the prophets, that is, "who in his natural disposition resembles the prophets" and then he has affirmed that the reflection or zill of prophethood is found in them, as he says," that the reflection of the stations of prophets falls on him as the moon's light falls on a mirror."

Summary of the discussion about muhaddath:

The traditions and comments of the annotators of the Traditions, and the quotations from the books by Mujaddid Alf Thani and Shah Waliullah Muhaddath Dehlavi, establish the following points:

1. There would not appear any prophet in this ummah but only muhaddathin (those who are spoken to by God).

2. A muhaddath is a non-prophet and a follower (ummati).

3. The highest station for a follower is that of muhaddathiyyat.

4. A muhaddath is endowed with the blessings of prophethood.

5. A muhaddath receives light from the prophet by way of reflection. In other words, he obtains (the blessings of) prophethood by way of zill (reflection) and not by way of reality.

6. In this ummah, the muhaddathin stand in place of the prophets of the previous ummahs, particularly the prophets of the Israelites.

7. A muhaddath bears a strong resemblance to a prophet and is his heir, but he is not a prophet.

8. A muhaddath is frequently spoken to by God.

9. The revelation of a muhaddath is free from satanic intervention.

10. However, a muhaddath does not follow his own revelation, unless he has examined it in the light of the Quran and by the Holy Prophet's Practice (Sunnah), and if it is against the Quran and the Sunnah, he rejects it.

A mujaddid is needed to promote the cause of religion and this need has not come to an end:

All the aforementioned arguments show that according to the Quran and the Hadith, the presence of such persons in this ummah is essential - they who are gifted with Divine communion and communication and are given the knowledge of unforeseen matters. Evidently, the manifestation of unseen matters is not for the sake of amusement but only to espouse the cause of religion. The real mission of prophets is not to perform miracles or to make prophecies; these are just to support this sacred cause, to strengthen the followers in their faith and to provide them with conclusive proof of the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet's mission. In short, the real object of prophethood is to deliver God's guidance (hidayah), and a prophecy or a miracle is simply an aid towards this object. Obviously the hidayah has been completed according to the verse:

This day have I perfected for you your religion. 32

That is to say, all paths of guidance have been shown to the world by the advent of the Holy Prophet but promoting the cause of religion has not come to an end. Thus when God brought prophethood to a close and completed the hidayah (guidance), He also gave the glad tidings that the need of supporting and promoting the cause of religion had not been terminated. Therefore the promise to the believers: for them is good news, 33 was also given, and the remaining of a part of prophethood concerning true visions (mubashshirat) was clearly indicated, and the continuity of the Divine communion and communication together with the information of the unseen for the ummah was also foretold in the Hadith. These people who are appointed for the support (ta'id) of religion by being honoured by God's communication and are called mujaddids (renovators). To deny their existence and to oppose them means rejecting the need of God's support and promotion of the Islamic faith. God used to aid the previous religions through the agency of prophets - that door has no doubt been shut in Islam, but does it mean that God will not help Islam even by the agency of non-prophets? This, in principle, is not only against the Quran and the authentic Hadith, as has been discussed above, but also against God's attribute of speaking to His righteous servants. Will that attribute become null and void after the death of the Holy Prophet? If this is so, Islam becomes a lifeless religion. To bring an end to something which Islam always needs, in every age, amounts to a belief that it is against God's wish that Islam should spread and progress. Otherwise why would He abandon His old practice for the support of religion? It is surprising that after making the religion of Islam complete and perfect, no arrangement was made for the maintenance of its spiritual perfection. As a matter of fact, such arrangement should have been made on a greater scale than before. And, in fact, God did indeed favour this ummah with a greater honour than those of the previous ummahs. The abundance of auliya (saints) in this ummah far exceeds the number of anbiya (prophets) in the other religions. A reference to this fact is made in the Hadith:

"The learned of my ummah will be like the prophets of the Israelites." 34

That is to say, the work which was done by the Israelite prophets will be done in this ummah by non-prophets. The resemblance, however, cannot be maintained unless the excellence found in the earlier prophets is also found in some way among the learned (`ulama) of this ummah. Thus in this hadith a reference is made only to those `ulama who are divinely appointed for the support and renovation of Islam.

Reference in the Quran about the appointment of mujaddids:

The Quran says:

He makes the spirit (ruh) to light by His command upon whom He pleases of His servants that he may warn (men) of the day of Meeting. 35

In this verse the ruh (spirit) is interpreted as revelation (wahy) or speech (kalam) by Hazrat Qatadah 36 and in the words: man yasha'u min `ibadihi, (whom He pleases of His servants), mujaddids (renovators) are also included, as has been mentioned in the commentary, Ruh al-Ma'ani, compiled according to the views of the Ahl-i Sunnah wa'l-Jama`ah:

"The continuance of renewal for an indefinite period is implied in the word yulqi (He makes to descend), because the descending of revelation, which started with Adam, may the peace of Allah be upon him, has remained and will always remain to the end of our Holy Prophet's time, which extends to the Day of Judgement, through the raising of those for the invitation (da`wah), as it is mentioned in Abu Da'ud that Abu Hurairah reported:
It is reported that the Holy Prophet Muhammad said, Most surely God will raise for this ummah at the head of every century one who will revive for its faith." 37

This hadith about the coming of mujaddids is, in fact, an explanation of the Quranic verse (40:15) quoted above. According to this verse, God will continue with His practice of raising somebody, from time to time, on whom He will cause His revelation to descend so that he, (the servant), will invite others towards the truth. Thus, this tradition is in every way free of doubt and disbelief because it is in conformity with the Quranic verse and its commentary.

The hadith of Mujaddid:

Let us now look at the hadith about mujaddids. First of all, it is recorded in Abu Da'ud, one of the six authentic collections of Hadith. Imam Jalal al-Din Suyuti (d. 911 AH / 1505 CE) writes:

"that all the preservers of Hadith (huffaz) have agreed upon its authenticity." 38

From among the classic writers (mutaqaddimin), Hakim (d. 405 AH / 1014 CE) in Mustadrak and Baihaqi (d. 458 AH / 1005 CE) in Mudkhil have mentioned it. 39 From among the latter-day writers (mutakhkhirin), Abu al-Fadl Iraqi and Ibn Hajar also approve of its genuineness. Moreover, in every age, the learned (`ulama) have agreed on its authenticity. After accepting the truth of this report, Hafiz ibn `Asakir writes that this proved the coming of mujaddids (renovators) at the beginning of every century. In our country (India), nearer our own time, Mujaddid Alf Thani, and after him, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi have accepted this tradition as true. Shah Waliullah writes:

"And he (the Holy Prophet) informed that at the head of each century a mujaddid will be raised and it has happened like that." 40

And in another book he says:

"It is reported that the Holy Prophet said that most surely God will raise for this ummah at the head of each century one who will revive for it its faith." 41

On the one hand, the reporters of this tradition have not been convicted of falsehood and the great Imams have given testimony to its authenticity, and, on the other, this tradition is not against the Quran but is in conformity with it (See 40:15). Moreover, it is in no way against the principles of the Islamic faith; they are, indeed, all in support of its correctness. In view of all these strong testimonies, it is not befitting for a Muslim to reject it.

The claimants to the office of mujaddid:

If we consider this tradition to be untrue, then those great luminaries of Islam who made claims on the basis of this hadith, or, were accepted by others as mujaddids, have to be considered false claimants and liars. For a mujaddid, it is, however, essential that he should be known and famous in his age and should be regarded as a mujaddid by other people. As is mentioned in `Aun al-Ma'bud:

"Verily Ibn al-Athir and al-Tayyibi etc. say that the mujaddid is he who is alive, known and famous at the end of the century and people point towards him." 42

If the hadith is not true, then what about all the mujaddids who have been accepted? Jalal al-Din Suyuti has counted them till the 9th century Hijrah. Among them were great Imams. For example, Imam Ahmad Hanbal has accepted `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz as the Mujaddid of the first century and Imam Shafi'i of the second century. Should all of them be considered as laying their claim on falsehood or on a fabricated and spurious tradition and thus remained in error themselves and led others into error too? Even Imam Suyuti claims himself to be the Mujaddid of the ninth century Hijrah.

The claim of Mujaddid Alf Thani:

In our country (India), a great luminary is known only by the name of The Mujaddid. My reference is to Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind Mujaddid Alf Thani, (971-1034 AH / 1563-1624 CE) (i.e. the Mujaddid of the Second Thousand). He has laid great emphasis on his claim of being the Renovator and says:

"These sciences (`ulum) have been derived from the illumination of the lamp of prophethood which, after the renovation of the second millennium, has been renewed by way of inheritance and has been freshly manifested and the possessor of these sciences and spiritual realities is the mujaddid of this millennium. It must be borne in mind that a mujaddid has passed at the head of each century, but the mujaddid of a century is different from the mujaddid of a thousand years. As there is a difference between a hundred years and a thousand years, similarly there is a difference between the mujaddid of a century and that of a thousand years. Furthermore, the mujaddid is such, that whatever spiritual grace is received by the communities in his time, is received through his agency, although in his lifetime there may exist qutb, 43 autad 44 (spiritual chiefs), abdal 45 (spiritual substitutes), and nujaba 46 (excellent ones)." 47

The claim of Shah Waliullah:

Similarly, a great Muslim luminary in our country is Shah Waliullah Muhaddath Dehlavi (1114-1176 AH / 1703-1763 CE) who also claimed to be a mujaddid. Thus he writes:

"My Lord, eminent is Whose Glory, has informed me thus: We have appointed you the leader of this path (tariqah) and have carried you to its height, and from today We have prevented all the other paths from reaching the reality of divine nearness except one path -the path of your love and obedience. The people of the East and the West are all your subjects and you are their ruler, whether they know it or not. Those who know it will be successful and the ignorant will be unsuccessful and in loss." 48

Then he says:

"When the circuit of wisdom with me reached its excellence, God honoured me with the robe of mujaddidiyyat (renovation)." 49

Accepting the mujaddid does not amount to showing contempt to other Muslim dignitaries:

All these references indicate that the denial of the tradition of the appearance of mujaddids, in spite of the fact that Muslim saints of high dignity have laid claim to this office and a great number of people has accepted them, is absolutely the result of ignorance of the Islamic faith. There is no other way, except to admit the authenticity of this tradition and the claims of Muslim luminaries based on it as true, or to declare all these claimants as liars, God forbid! If the latter is the case, nothing of the Islamic faith will be left.

However, those who disbelieve in this tradition raise two main objections. Firstly, if this hadith is authentic, could other auliya (saints) of God be included among the renovators? Secondly, can the claim of a mujaddid at the head of each century be produced?

The reply to the first point is that the appearance of a mujaddid at the head of each century does not nullify at all the existence of other saints scholars and servants of Islam during that period. There may be thousands of auliya in this ummah and there could be more than one renovator in a century. The question of rank is also not involved in this discussion. That is to say, that if one savant of Islam is a mujaddid and the other is not, the latter is not necessarily of a lower rank than the former one. It is God Who knows all these matters. He appoints mujaddids with a special mission after bestowing on them knowledge for the reformation of the community according to a divine purpose. Therefore, it is obligatory for every person to help them - as has been clearly indicated by the remarks made by Shah Waliullah above. The rejection of their mission deprives a person of many spiritual benefits; his companionship brings success to his followers. Enmity towards the saints causes perversion in one's heart. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said that God told him:

To the one who shows enmity towards My righteous servant (wali), I (i.e. God) declare war against him. 50

Hostility towards the auliya of Allah is man's misfortune. To be in the company of mujaddids and support their cause is necessary, because mere denial of them deprives a person of many divine favours.

A mujaddid in every century:

Another question asked is that the claim of a mujaddid at the head of each century should be produced. The Holy Quran has not given the names of all the messengers and has already said:

Of them are those We have mentioned to thee and of them are those We have not mentioned to thee. 51

To demand that the tradition about the mujaddid will only be accepted as true when the names and claims of all the renovators at the beginning of each century are pointed out, amounts to saying that the statements of the Quran, that there is not a people but a warner has gone among them, 52 and, for every nation there is a messenger, 53 can only be accepted as true when the names of all the messengers in different nations, and their claims are produced. Both the objections and the demands are wrong. As the Quran has mentioned a few names of prophets raised among some people, so we have quoted above the claims of some of the mujaddids in their own words. It does not make any difference if a mujaddid did not make a claim in clear terms, as openly as has been done by Mujaddid Alf Thani and Shah Waliullah. The writings and sayings of all the mujaddids have not been preserved. On the basis of what has been said by some mujaddids, we presume that the others might have made similar statements. Moreover, the particular needs of a period give a different stance to the claim, as Mujaddid Alf Thani has said that the mujaddid of a thousand years should be superior to the mujaddid of a century. And as the annotators of the Hadith have stated, that in the earlier times the claim of being spoken to by God was not made by most of the people most probably because their period was very close to the period of the prophethood of Muhammad, and therefore, such a claim was not really necessary in order to avoid any confusion regarding the efficacy of his prophethood. In any case, Shah Waliullah and Mujaddid Alf Thani have openly made claims to this office and have declared the hadith about mujaddids to be authentic.54 The testimony of these two divines that the hadith is true is enough. Besides that, the scholars like Imam Suyuti have mentioned the names of the mujaddids of each century. Thus the appointment of renovators in this ummah of Islam is an established fact. To deny it amounts to denying the noonday sun.

Footnotes on Chapter III:

1 2:87.

2 23:44.

3 57:16.

4 ---

5 Al-Bukhari, kitab al-Anbiya, ch. Fadail ashab al-Nabi.

6 28:7.

7 3:41-42, 44.

8 And Allah sets forth an example for those who believe - the wife of Pharaoh... and Mary, the daughter of Amran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into him Our inspiration, and she accepted the truth of the words of her Lord and His Books, and she was of the obedient ones. (66:11, 12). The example of the righteous granted in this parable illustrates how Divine inspiration is granted to the perfect ones. The words, We breathed into him Our inspiration, are remarkable. Evidently the word him (Ar. hi in fi-hi) cannot refer to Mary. The personal pronoun is taken by some commentators to refer to Jesus (Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi); and thus the meaning is that Mary gave birth to a son who received Divine inspiration. But the reference in the personal pronoun him might as well be to the believer for whom Mary is set as an example, and the object of the change of pronoun might be to draw attention to the fact that it is really the granting of inspiration to the believer that is meant here and not the breathing of a soul.

9 Sahih al-Bukhari, kitab al-Anbiya, ch. Manaqib `Umar.

10 10:62, 64.

11 Al-Bukhari, kitab al-Ru'ya, ch. Al-Mubashshirat.

12 Al-Tafsir al-Kabir by Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi under v. 10:64.

13 Al-Bukhari, kitab al-Ru'ya, ch. Al-Mubashshirat.

14 Ibid.

15 Fath al-Bari (Commentary of al-Bukhari) by Imam ibn Hajar `Asqalani.

16 The Urdu translation by a Sunni scholar of this portion has been rendered thus:

Translation Mufradat al-Quran by Muhammad Abduhu al-Fallah al-Firozpuri. Published Al-Maktaba al-Qasimiyya Jami` Quds, Chawk Dalgaran, Lahore 1963. (SMT)

17 Fath al-Bari (Commentary of al-Bukhari) by Imam ibn Hajar `Asqalani.

18 22:52.

19 Fath al-Bayan under 22:52.

20 Al-Bukhari, kitab Fadail Ashab al-Nabi, ch. Manaqib `Umar.

21 Muhaddathun, muhaddathin - both are plural forms of muhaddath. In the report quoted before, the word yukallamuna is used instead of muhaddathun. The meaning is, however, the same. i.e. those spoken to by God.

22 Al-Bukhari, kitab Fadail Ashab al-Nabi, ch. Manaqib `Umar.

23 Tirmidhi, ch. Manaqib `Umar.

24 Fath al-Bari (Commentary of Al-Bukhari), ch. Manaqib `Umar.

25 Al-Bukhari, kitab Fadail Ashab al-Nabi, ch. Manaqib `Umar.

26 Fath al-Bari under ch. Manaqib `Umar.

27 Sirhind is a city in East Punjab (India) where Shaikh Ahmad was born in 1564. He died in 1629.

28 Maktubat Ahmadiyya, Letter No. 51, p.99.

29 Born 1114/1703, died 1176/1763. (SMT)

30 Hujjatullah al-Balighah, p. 444, Tr. Maulvi Khalil Ahmad. Published by Adbiyyat, Lahore (Pakistan).

31 Ibid., p.451.

32 5:3.

33 10:64.

34 Abu Da'ud, kitab al-`Ilm.

35 40:15.

36 Hazrat Qatadah in Ruh al-Ma`ani under 40:15 (Part 24, p.56).

37 Ruh al-Ma`ani under 40:15. Abu Da'ud, kitab al-Malahim, ch.1, vol. I, p.241.

38 Mirqat al-Sa'ud added to Abu Da'ud vol. 2, p. 233. Printed by Nawal Kishore, Lucknow, India.

39 Ibid.

40 Izalat al-Khifa, p. 41.

41 Tafhimat Ilahiyyah, vol. I, p.19.

42 `Aun al-Ma`bud, marginal notes on Sunan Abu Da'ud, vol.2; Imam Suyuti, Tuhfatul Muhtadin bi Akhbar al-Mujaddidin. `Aun al-Ma'bud, vol.4, p.187. Hujaj al-Kiramah, p.138, 179.

43 Lit., a stake, an axis, a pivot. Technically, a high stage of sanctity among Muslim saints; according to Kashshafu `l-Istilahat, a qutb is one who has attained that degree of sanctity which is a reflection of the heart of the Holy Prophet himself.

44 Plural of watad, a peg, a pillar, a prop, a chief. Technically, autad are saints regarded as props of the faith.

45 Plural of badal, a substitute. Technically, abdals are certain persons, it is said, whom God continuously has in the world for working spirituality on a limited scale and their existing number remains about seventy. No one pretends to be able to identify them in the world. God alone knows who they are and where they are.

46 Plural of najib, meaning noble, generous, the excellent one. Nujaba, according to the Sufis, are forty saintly characters who always exist on earth for the benefit of its people. (SMT)

47 Maktubat, vol. 2, p.14, Letter No.4.

48 Tafhimat Ilahiyyah, vol.II, p.151 (Literary Academy, Islamabad, Pakistan).

49 Ibid., vol. I, p.20.

50 Al-Bukhari, kitab al-Riqaq, ch. al-Tawadu`

51 40:78.

52 35:24.

53 10:47.

54 On close study of the works of the previous mujaddids, such as Imam Al-Ghazali, Ibn Taimiyyah, Sayyid Ahmad Barelavi, etc. more references have been found about their laying claims to the office. See Annexe at the end of this chapter. (SMT)


Books Section > The Promised Messiah [The Second Coming of Jesus] by Maulana Muhammad Ali Sahib > Chapter II : Finality of Prophethood


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