Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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They saw so many Divine wonders and witnessed so many heavenly signs that they remained in no doubt whatever that a Higher Being actually exists, Whose name is God, and in Whose hand lies every affair, and for Whom nothing is impossible. It was for this reason that they displayed all those deeds of truth and purity, and made those sacrifices, which a man cannot do unless all his doubts and uncertainties are banished. They saw with their own eyes that that Holy Being is only pleased if man enters Islam and renders obedience to His honourable Holy Prophet with his very body and soul. Then after that perfect faith, the obedience which they showed, the deeds they did out of the fervour of that obedience, and the readiness with which they offered their lives to their venerated Guide, were such that it is never possible for man to attain them until that same season of spring is before his eyes as had come upon the Companions. And since it is impossible to produce these accomplishments without the existence of these means, and to obtain sure salvation without these qualities is also impossible, it was essential that God, Who has called everyone to salvation, should make this kind of arrangement for every century so that His servants may not be deprived of the grades of perfect faith in any age.
Besides this, observation clearly shows that those people who spend their lives indifferent to association with the truthful cannot be cleansed of their physical desires by their own knowledge and skills. And they cannot attain even that grade of faith where there is heart-felt belief in the existence of God. They do not have the same faith in God as they do in the wealth locked away in their safes or the property which is in their possession. Taking arsenic terrifies them because they know with certainty that it is a fatal poison, but they are not afraid of the poison of sins, although they read in the Quran everyday: "Whoever comes guilty to his Lord, for him is surely hell. He will neither die therein, nor live" (20:74). So the truth is that the person who knows not God, knows not the Quran either. It is, of course, also true that the Quran has been revealed for the purpose of guidance, but its guidance is bound up with the person of the man to whom the Quran was revealed, or the man who has been appointed as his successor by God. If the Quran would have been sufficient by itself, God had the power to have it written down upon the leaves of trees naturally, or it could have descended from the sky in written form. However, God did not do this; rather, He did not send the Quran into the world until the teacher of the Quran was sent into the world. Open the Holy Quran and see in how many places there are verses to the effect:
i.e. that Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, teaches people the Quran and its wisdom. And in another place it states:
("None touches it except the purified ones." -- 56:79)
i.e. the truths and the fine points of the Quran are disclosed only to those who have been purified. Hence these verses clearly prove that, to comprehend the Quran, there is the need for a teacher whom God has purified with His own hand. If there were no need of a teacher in order to learn the Quran, there would have been no need of one in the early days (of Islam) either.
New teachers are also required because some of the teaching of the Holy Quran has to be given through actual condition, not words. And the Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, who is the premier teacher and the real heir to this throne, explained these deep and subtle points to his Companions through his own experience. For instance, Gods saying that He is the knower of the unseen, He is the answerer of prayers, He is the powerful, He is the grantor of supplications, He makes the seekers receive true light, He sends revelation to His true servants, and He breathes His spirit into whomsoever of His servants as He pleases -- all these things are such that unless the teacher himself is an illustration of them, they cannot be understood in any way. So it is obvious that the formal ulama of the religion, who are themselves blind, cannot explain these teachings; indeed, they are constantly making their students doubtful of the greatness of Islam. They assert that these matters (spiritual) are not things of the future but of the past, and such statements of theirs give one to understand that Islam is no longer a living religion, and there is now no way to attain its true teachings.
It is obvious, however, that if Gods plan for His creation is that He shall always make them drink of the fountain of the
Holy Quran, then He will undoubtedly show regard to His ancient laws as He has been doing from the days of old. And if the teaching of the Quran is limited merely to the extent to which the thought of an accomplished and deep-thinking philosopher is confined, and heavenly teaching which can only be explained through a living example is not to be found anywhere in it, then the advent of the Quran is, God forbid, fruitless. But I know that if someone considers even for a moment the question as to what is the distinction between the teaching of the prophets and the teaching of wise thinkers, he will not find any distinctive feature other than the fact that a great part of the teachings of the prophets is beyond the scope of reason and cannot be understood in any way except through teaching and elucidation by actual condition. This part can only be impressed upon ones mind by persons who have had the experience. For instance, questions relating to how the angels take the soul at death, and the manner in which they take it to heaven, the questioning in the grave, the nature of paradise and hell and the "straight bridge", the bearing of the arsh of God by four angels and byeight angels on the Day of Judgment, Gods sending His revelation to His servants or His opening the door of visions to them -- all this is teaching conveyed through actual experience, and cannot be understood through words and talk alone. Considering this, I repeat that if Almighty God has willed for His servants that this part of the teaching of His book should not be confined to just the first age, then He would undoubtedly have made arrangements to constantly send teachers of this side of the teaching. For, that teaching can never be understood except through the agency of teachers who have attained the stage of experience, and the world stumbles in every elementary matter. So if in Islam, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, no teachers have come possessing the light of prophethood by way of reflection, then it is as if God intentionally made the Quran useless by taking away from the world, quite soon, those who understood it truly and properly.
We have revealed the Quran, and We shall ever keep on guarding it (15:9). Now I cannot see, if those do not remain who understand the Quran, and those who have faith in it as a matter of certainty and experience disappear into nothing, how the Quran can have been guarded. Does "guarding" mean that many copies of the Quran would be calligraphed beautifully and locked away in trunks till the Day of Judgment, rather like buried treasure which is of no use to anyone but lies protected underground? Can anyone consider this to be Gods intent in this verse? If this is the purpose, then such guarding is no great work; in fact, it is a joke, and to speak of this guarding is to invite ridicule from the opponents, because if the real purpose is missing, what good is physical preservation. It is possible that there may be a manuscript of the Gospels or the Torah, similarly preserved, lying in a ditch somewhere. And in the world there are thousands of books which are certainly, without any loss or addition, known to be works of their authors. What is the great merit in this, and what is the special benefit accruing to the Muslims?
Although it cannot be denied that the textual preservation of the Quran is of a higher standard than for any other book in the world, and it is also miraculous, still it can never be imagined, in the case of God Who looks to matters spiritual, that by guarding is meant merely the preservation of words and letters. In fact, the word dhikr [Note 1] clearly testifies that the Quran shall be preserved in its capacity as the dhikr till the Day of Judgment, and its true dhakirs (those reminding people of its teachings) shall ever continue to appear. There is another verse clearly arguing to this effect, and it is as follows:
"It is clear verses, which are in the hearts of those who possess knowledge" (29:49). It is obvious that this verse means that the believers have been granted the knowledge of the Quran, and also the ability to act upon it. And since the repository of the Quran is the hearts of the believers, the verse "We have revealed the Reminder and We shall ever keep on guarding it" can have no meaning except that the Quran will not be effaced from the hearts as the Torah and the Gospel were effaced from the hearts of the Jews and the Christians. And although the Torah and the Gospel were in their hands and their boxes, yet these were removed from their hearts, i.e. their hearts did not remain established upon these books, and they did not keep and preserve the Torah and the Gospel in their hearts. To conclude, this verse is loudly proclaiming that no portion of the teaching of the Quran will be lost or ruined, and just as it was planted in the hearts on the first day, so shall this state of affairs continue till the Day of Judgment.
"Whatever thing benefits mankind, it remains in the world" (13:17). Now it is obvious that the class most benefitting mankind are the prophets who, by signs, miracles, prophecies, truth, knowledge, and their own example of righteousness, strengthen the faith of people and convey spiritual benefit to seekers of truth. It is also obvious that they do not remain in the world for a great length of time, but are taken from this world after spending a short life here. However, this does not go against the meaning of the verse, nor is it possible that the word of God be against facts. So, when applied to prophets, the meaning of this verse would be that they continue to exist in terms of reflection [zill], and at every time of need God raises some servant of His in their likeness and similitude, as a reflection, who causes them to have perpetual life by being in their mould. For the continuation of this existence in terms of reflection, God has taught His servants the following prayer:
"O our Lord, show us that right path which is the way of those servants of Thine upon whom are Thy favours" (1:5-6). And it is obvious that Gods favour to the prophets, for the seeking of which there is a command in this prayer, is not of monetary form but it is the favour of light, blessings, love, sure faith, miracles, heavenly assistance, recognition, perfect knowledge, revelation and visions. God had commanded the Muslim people to seek this favour only after He had first decided to grant it to them. So this verse too proves openly that God has made this nation the heir to the prophets, in the sense of reflection, so that the prophets continue to exist forever in this sense, and the world never be deprived of their presence. And God has not only commanded the saying of this prayer but also given the promise in a verse as follows:
"Those who strive hard in Our path" -- which is the straight path -- "We shall show them Our ways" (29:69). It is obvious that the ways to God are only those which were shown to the prophets.
Then there are some other verses from which it is proved that God has indeed decreed that spiritual teachers, who are the heirs to the prophets, shall always continue to arise. These are as follows:
"God has promised you, O believers of the nation of Muhammad, that He will make you khalifas in the earth as was done with those before you." (24:55)
"And disasters" -- of various kinds, physical and spiritual -- "will continue to afflict the disbelievers, or pass close to their abodes, until the promise of God comes to pass, and God does not fail in His promises." (13:31)
"And We do not send punishment upon a people until We raise a messenger." (17:15)
If a person examines these verses with care and thought, how can I say that he will not understand the point that God has given a clear promise of a perpetual khilafat for the Muslim nation. If this khilafat was not to be perpetual, what was the meaning of likening it to the successors in the Mosaic order? If it was to come to an end forever after the Righteous khilafat of thirty years duration, it would imply that God had certainly not ordained that He would keep the doors of blessings open upon the Muslims forever, because the demise of the spiritual order means the death of the faith, and that religion cannot be called living whose adherents admit with their own tongues that it has been lying dead for thirteen centuries. However, God has most certainly not willed for this faith that the light of true life which was in the heart of the Holy Prophet Muhammad should be transferred as inheritance to those outside.
Can sound sense propose the despicable idea about the Merciful, Kind God, that He cared about this Muslim people for only thirty years and then left them wandering permanently, and the light which from ancient days He had been showing within the followers of previous prophets in the mirror of khilafat, He did not approve of showing for this people? Most certainly not. And the following verse bears decisive witness to the khilafat:
"We indeed wrote in the Book after the Reminder that My righteous servants shall inherit the earth." (21:105)
For, it is clearly proclaiming that the Islamic khilafat is perpetual. The word "inherit" implies perpetuity, because if the wicked have the last turn, they would be the inheritors of the earth, not the righteous, and the heir to anything is he who comes last of all.
Then the following point should also be considered. Given that God had explained by use of an analogy that He would raise khalifas among the Muslim people in the same manner as He raised successors after Moses, one should see what course did God follow after the death of Moses: did He send successors for only thirty years, or did He extend this series for fourteen hundred years? Then again, as the grace of God upon our Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, was far greater than that which was upon Moses, as He Himself said, "The grace of God upon thee is very great" (4:113), and He also said regarding this nation, "You are the best nation raised for mankind" (3:109), how could it be that the series of successors of Moses should be continued for fourteen hundred years, but here the khilafat terminate after a mere thirty years? If the Muslim people are devoid forever of the spiritual lights of khilafat, let anyone explain the meaning of the verse: "You are the best nation raised for mankind". If it is desired to keep this nation blind forever, and if the object is to keep this faith dead, what is the meaning of saying that it is the best and that it has been raised for the welfare and guidance of mankind? Can the blind lead the blind? So, O people who are called Muslims, ponder for Gods sake: this verse means just that spiritual life and inner vision shall remain in you always, till the Day of Judgment, and followers of other religions shall receive light from you. And this spiritual life and inner vision which has the capability to invite people of other faiths towards the truth -- this is just the thing which in other words is known as khilafat. How can you then assert that the khilafat, after having continued for only thirty years, vanished into nothing? Fear God, fear God, fear God!
Now it should be remembered that although there are many verses of this kind in the Holy Quran, giving the glad tidings of a perpetual khilafat among the Muslim people, and Hadith is full of reports about this as well, for the moment this much will suffice for those who accept proven facts like a great treasure. There could be no worse misgiving about Islam than to consider it to be a dead religion and to believe its blessings to be limited to only the first generation. Does the Book which opens the door to perpetual blessings teach the disheartening lesson that there is no blessing or khilafat to look forward to, but that all has been left behind? Prophets certainly cannot arise among the Muslims, but if khalifas of the Holy Prophet do not come either, showing the marvels of spiritual life from time to time, then the spirituality of Islam comes to an end. In that case, such a faith can bear no comparison to the spiritual power and glory of the Mosaic religion in which thousands of spiritual khalifas continued to arise over a period of fourteen centuries. It is lamentable that our critics do not give the least thought to the point that in such a case Islam proves to be very inferior as regards its spirituality, and the Master-Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, is shown to be no great prophet, God forbid, and the Quran does not prove to be a book whose light is very effective. It would then turn out to be an absurd, meaningless and baseless claim to say that this nation is the best of nations and is to give spiritual benefit to other nations for all time, that the Quran is the most perfect and complete of all Divine books in its accomplishments and effect, and that this Apostle is the most excellent of all the messengers of God in his power of purification and of perfecting the moral character of others. It would also give rise to the great trouble that that part of the teachings of the Quran which aims to make man resemble prophets in terms of spiritual light and attainments, will be considered to be abrogated forever, because if this people do not possess the capability to produce the spiritual accomplishments of khilafat within themselves, then any teaching which enjoins the attainment of this status would be just useless. In fact, even asking the question, Is Islam now a dead religion forever in which there do not arise persons whose Divine signs and inspiration are substitutes for the miracles and revelation of the prophets, makes one tremble, let alone that some Muslims should entertain such a belief, God forbid. May God guide those people who are prisoners to such heretic ideas.
Now those eyes that can see, those hearts that can do justice, and the sense that can ponder, should see and judge and think here as to whether these circumstances and those are identical or not. Leaving aside the prophecies for a moment, look at the situation rationally as a truth seeker, as to whether the case of the Muslims of this age and the Jews of the time of Jesus fulfils the words "one shoe matching the other shoe", [Note 2] or not. Look at the Gospels with care and read whether what Jesus has described of the condition of the Jewish priests and lawyers, exposing their hypocrisy, is to be found in the present Muslim religious leaders or not. Is it not true that our leaders, like the Jewish priests, are day and night engaged in pointless disputes, are utterly devoid of spirituality, and are constantly attempting to prove others as kafir while not knowing what Islam is themselves. They preach sermons which they do not act upon. They become preachers to earn a living, then go far and wide and make unlawful gain by pleasing the masses with baseless poetry. In their cunning, deceit and falsehood they are no less than the Jews. Similar is the condition of the men of worldly affairs. Most of them consider every kind of dishonesty and falsehood to be as lawful as mothers milk in the way of earning wealth. Those known as chieftains, who are ruling over derelict states, have been ruined by their voluptuous habits. Many of them drink alcohol like water, and have not the least aversion to adultery. Fear of God does not come near them in any part of the day or night.
Now pick up the histories of the Jews and see how intensely similar are these Muslims in their religious and worldly destruction to the Jews of the time of Jesus. The Torah contained the prophecy regarding the Jews that sovereignty would not depart from them until Shiloh came. [Note 3] By Shiloh was meant Jesus, and so did it come to pass in actual fact, that sometime even before the birth of Jesus the various states of the Jews were ravaged by the Roman empire, and as the Jews, like the Muslims of today, had been weakened by internecine disputes, constant wrangling, negligence and ignorance, and their internal condition was itself like a bad omen for them, they gave themselves over to the Roman empire with their own hands sometime before the time of Jesus. Among the Muslim people too, by reason of similarity, it was necessary that a Shiloh should arise at precisely the time of religious and temporal destruction.
"From every vantage point they shall sally forth" (21:96) upon Islam, make mischief in its land, gain control over its countries, and reduce its noblest men to the lowest. This verse means that the Christian nations, which is the party called Gog and Magog, shall rush towards the Islamic countries from every position of superiority, and they shall be triumphant, crushing the Muslim countries till the dominion of Islam remains in name only, as is the case today. Look at the similarity of events, how the age of the misfortunes of Islam and the religious and temporal destruction of the Muslims is like the history of the Jews in the time of Jesus. Then look again, how the Quranic prophecy about the decline of the power of Islam and the dominance of its opponents conforms to the prophecy of the decline of the Israelite state given in the Torah.
The difference, however, in giving the glad tidings of the reformer, between the Old Testament prophecy and the Quranic prophecy, is only in the mode of expression: in the Torah the good news is given of the coming of Shiloh at the time of the breaking of the Israelite power and the departure of the sceptre, by which was meant the decline of rulership; in the Quran is given the good news, referring to the age of the weakening of Islamic power and the upsurge of tribulations, which means the Dajjal-like activities of the Christian missionaries, of the blowing of the trumpet. [Note 4] By the blowing of the trumpet is not meant the Day of Judgment, because more than a hundred years have passed over the appearance of the mischief brought about by the Christians, and yet no doomsday has wrecked havoc. What is meant is that by sending some Mahdi and mujaddid the trumpet of true guidance will be blown and the spirit of life will be breathed again into those who are dead through misguidance. For, the blowing of the trumpet refers not only to physical giving of life and causing of death, but spiritual resuscitation and death are also always brought about through the blowing of the trumpet. And just as in the Quran by the blowing of the trumpet is meant the sending of some mujaddid to break the dominance of the Christian faith, similarly by the upsurge of tribulations is meant that which in the Hadith is described under the name Dajjal. God Almighty has not in the Quran used the words Dajjal or Promised Messiah, as these are to be found in Hadith, but instead of Dajjal He has referred to the mischief-making activities of the Christians. Hence the words "they sally forth from every point of vantage" (21:96) also refer to this. Likewise, in the Holy Quran the coming mujaddid is not called by the term Promised Messiah anywhere, but the words blowing of the trumpet are used to refer to him in order to make it known that the Promised Messiah shall not appear with earthly and physical weapons but that his acceptance and exaltation shall be based upon a sounding from heaven. He shall draw people to right and truth by the power of words of wisdom and by heavenly signs, for he shall arise at a time of crises caused by reason and philosophy, not a time of upheavals brought about by the sword.
The fact is that God Almighty sends a prophet or a mujaddid according to the nature of every prevailing trouble. Thus, just as in the time of Jesus the Jews had lost all their qualities, and had nothing left but cunning, deceit and mere verbosity, and had come under the sway of the Roman empire due to their own wickedness and disorganisation, the Romans not being blamable for conquering the country, precisely this is the condition of the Promised Messiahs time given in the Holy Quran. For instance, the Muslims of India are so incapable that, upon the advent of a reformer, they cannot oppose him by the sword because they do not possess any swords. And the British have taken the throne of Delhi just as the Roman empire took the throne of the Jews, i.e. due only to the bad ways and the incompetence of the kings. The British cannot be blamed for taking over the country so that one could raise the sword against them; in fact, the saying "that which is upon us is from our own selves" applies here. For this reason, the mujaddid of this century came in the likeness of Jesus, and was called the Promised Messiah because of intense similarity. This title is not a fabrication, but was required because it was so appropriate in the prevailing circumstances.
Firstly, He gave the news of the death of Jesus, very plainly and categorically, as is evident from the verse: "when Thou didst cause me to die, Thou wast the watcher over them". (5:117) [Note 6] Then He has made clear that our Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, is the last of the Prophets, as He says: "And he (Muhammad) is the Messenger of God and the last of the Prophets" (33:40). Then, by referring again and again to the many transgressions of the Jews, God repeatedly pointed to the fact that the same would be the eventual condition of the Muslim masses and their religious leaders. It is then mentioned that in the latter days the Christians would be dominant, troubles of all kinds would spread by their hands, and waves of tribulation would arise from every side. They shall rush forth from every height, i.e. they would show their power and eminence and superiority in every sphere. In terms of worldly power and rule, they would be paramount: discovering and inventing all sorts of sciences and technologies, and bringing out valuable and wonderful industries. In planning and organisation too, they would be superior. For worldly ventures and attainment of such objectives they would show great determination. In the struggle and exertion for the propagation of religion they would excel and surpass all, as also in civic planning, business and agricultural development. To sum up, they would tower over and rise above every nation in all fields.
This is the significance of the words "they shall sally forth [nasal] from every vantage point [hadab]", for hadab means high ground and nasal means to have precedence or to run forth. In other words, in every field where there can be excellence and superiority, they would surpass every other nation. This is the major sign of that nation of the last days known as Gog and Magog, and it is also the sign of that mischievous class of Christian missionaries who are called the Dajjal. And because hadab means high ground, it is denoted that they would have all worldly glories, but be devoid of any heavenly excellence. It is also proved from this verse that this is the nation which has been named Gog and Magog, and from among this very nation are the people who have exerted themselves to the utmost in spreading error, and have thus acquired the name: the great Dajjal. While speaking of the rise of error, God said that at that time the trumpet would be sounded and all parties gathered together in one place (18:99). What is said of hell in the verses which follow, is, according to the Quranic idiom, a separate statement, for it is a common mode of speech in the Holy Quran that on some occasions, speaking of events of this world, the Last Day is mentioned on account of some connection. Those who study the Holy Quran closely are not unaware of this recurring idiom.
Translator's Note 2: An expression of this form occurs in a Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in which he has prophesied how the Muslims of the later times will follow closely in the footsteps of the Israelites. The resemblance would be as close as that between the two shoes of a pair (see Mishkat al-Masabih , Book of Faith, chapter VI, section II). Hazrat Mirza's view about the striking similarity between latter-day Muslims and the Jews of Jesus' time is often echoed by leaders of Sunni Muslims. Pakistan's most renowned Muslim theologian of today, Dr Israr Ahmad, recently commented on this hadith as follows:
"The Holy Prophet Muhammad foretold that the same evils would arise among his followers as had arisen among the Israelites. He said: If they, the Israelites, had crawled into the hole of a lizard, you will crawl into it too'. His words go so far that although one is hesitant to quote them, but they are the words of the Holy Prophet which I put before you. He said: If there was a wretched man among the Israelites who committed incest with his own mother, then among you also shall arise such a wretched man'. The meaning is that all the evils, in terms of religion, doctrine, thought, knowledge and deeds, which came to prevail among the Israelites, shall also come to prevail among the Muslims. The text of the hadith is as follows: All the things which happened to the Israelites shall also happen to my followers, just as one shoe matches the other shoe'. This is a most eloquent comparison. Look at a pair of shoes, and because the front parts of the two point in opposite directions, you see one shoe being apparently different from the other. But put the souls of the two shoes together, and they are identical. Similarly, the circumstances of the Israelites and the Muslims appear to be different, because after all, there is the distance of fourteen hundred years, and so there is some difference on the face of it. But if you look between the lines, you find that there is not a hair's breadth of difference. And as to the condition of the Jews described in the Holy Quran, each one of us must look at himself to see whether he is not a victim of that condition."
This extract is from an article written by Dr Israr Ahmad, published in the Urdu Daily paper Jang (see the London edition of Jang for 19 October 1987, page 3). [Go to text]
Translator's Note 3: The reference is to Genesis 49:10 which says: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come". [Go to text]
Translator's Note 4: The reference is to 18:98-99 where, speaking of the coming of Gog and Magog as the coming to pass of the promise of the Lord, it is added: "And on that day We shall let some of them surge against others like waves, and the trumpet will be blown ...". [Go to text]
Translator's Note 5: This point has been discussed earlier in this book where, after noting the verse "and when the messengers (rusul) are brought at their appointed time" (77:11), Hazrat Mirza writes: "It should be remembered that in the word of God the term rusul is applied to the singular as well as to one who is not a messenger" (p. 26). See also Note 6 in ch. 2(a). [Go to text]
Translator's Note 6: See Note 7 in ch. 2(b). [Go to text]