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Books Section > Ahmadiyyat in the Service of Islam by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib > The Difference between a Muhaddath and a Prophet

Chapter 4:
The Difference between a Muhaddath and a Prophet:

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That Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the last of the prophets is established by the well-known verse:

'Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets' (33:40).

Not only did Hazrat Mirza Sahib repeatedly affirm, in fact swear, his whole-hearted faith in this verse, but he quoted other verses in favour of the finality of prophethood in the Holy Prophet Muhammad which were not so known to other Ulema. They are:

'This day have I perfected your religion for you, and completed My favour on you, and chosen for you Islam as a religion' (5:3).


'Surely We have revealed the Reminder (Quran) and surely We are its Guardian' (15:9).

from which two verses Hazrat Mirza Sahib argued that since religion was perfected, in Islam, and Divine favours to men completed, and since the Holy Quran would be guarded against loss, interpolation, etc., by the Almighty Allah, there was no need left for a prophet to come after Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It is an irony that Hazrat Mirza Sahib should himself be accused of having claimed to be a prophet!

The sayings of the Holy Prophet quoted in books of Hadith are categorical:

(1) 'I am the last of the prophets. There will be no prophet after me' (Mishkat-ul-Masabih, Kitab-ul-Fitan, Chapter 2).

(2) Comparing prophethood to a beautiful house, he said: 'I am the last brick in that house. I am the last of the prophets' (Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Manaqib, Chapter 'Last of the Prophets').

(3) 'Surely Risalat and prophethood are terminated, so there will be no Messenger or Prophet after me.' As people were somewhat disappointed to hear this (because they thought there would be no more spiritual favours for men), he added: 'Except mubashshirat' (Tirmizi, Kitab-ur-Roya).

(4) 'There is nothing to come of prophethood except mubashshirat. People asked, What are they? The Holy Prophet replied, True visions' (Bukhari, Kitab-ut-Ta'bir, Chapter 'Mubashshirat'). And these were declared by the Holy Prophet to be one forty-sixth of prophethood (Bukhari, Chapter 'How revelation began').

But more than true visions, even revelation was to continue, although not the special revelation brought down by the archangel Gabriel to prophets only (wahy an-nubuwwat). The most authentic book of Hadith, Bukhari, quotes the Holy Prophet as saying: 'There used to be, among those before you, men to whom Allah spoke, although they were not prophets; so if there is one of them in my Ummat it is Umar (ibn Khattab).' And another saying of the Holy Prophet makes it clear that such a man is a Muhaddath. It says: 'There used to be before you among nations Muhaddathin, and if there is one like that in my Ummat it is Umar' (Bukhari, Chapter on the excellencies of the Companions of the Holy Prophet, section on the excellence of Umar ibn Khattab). The commentators of Hadith have categorically stated: 'A Muhaddath is one to whom Allah speaks without his being a prophet.' (Ainee's Commentary on Bukhari, Vol. 7, page 614).

The Holy Quran is quite clear that it is the false gods who do not speak to their worshippers (7:148, 20:89, 13:14), and that Allah speaks to His servants in the following ways: 'And it is not vouchsafed to a mortal that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger and revealing by his permission what He pleases. He is High, Wise' (42:51). According to this verse, Allah speaks to mortals in three ways:

(1) By revelation. The word used is wahy, which means a 'hasty suggestion', an inspiration.

(2) 'From behind a veil' which covers true dreams, visions (kashf), or ilham, i.e., words heard without the speaker being visible. All these three are through senses other than the physical. The last one is the form in which revelations are given to a Muhaddath.

(3) An angel, Gabriel, appears and recites to the recipient. This form is the one in which revealed books were given to the prophets. And this form is closed with the termination of prophethood in the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

But the other forms of Allah's speaking to His chosen ones continue (10:62-64), and Allah speaks freely to a Muhaddath, as shown earlier, without his being made a prophet.

Other venerable saints and scholars revered in Islam have testified that Allah speaks to His chosen ones. Some of these are quoted below.

1. Hazrat Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani, world-renowned saint of Baghdad and Mujaddid of the 6th Century Hijra: 'Does Allah not have the power to say (to a mortal) "I am Allah?" Nay, our Lord is Dominant, Majestic. He speaks. He is not dumb. His words can be heard and understood' (Al-Fath-ul-Rabbani wal Faiz-ul-Rahmani, 60th sitting, page 153).

2. Hazrat Imam Ghazali, another one of the Mujaddids (5th Century Hijra) said: 'There is no doubt that Divine Knowledge is received in our hearts through angels. And to the same end is the pointer in the saying of Allah (in the Holy Quran): And it is not vouchsafed to a mortal that Allah should speak to a mortal except by revelation, etc.' (Ihya-ul-Ulum, Vol. 3, page 14).

3. Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq, much revered divine: 'I read the Holy Quran with such intensity and eagerness that the whole of it was revealed to me again.' (Tazkarat-ul-Auliya, Chapter 1, page 23).

4. Hazrat Imam Raghib, head lexicologist of the Holy Quran, said: 'Allah's speaking to His prophets and saints is called revelation' (Mufradat Imam Raghib).

5. Hazrat Shaikh Mohiyuddin Ibn Arabi, another outstanding saint and scholar, wrote: 'And it is impossible that revelation from Allah should stop, for if it were to stop then there would not be left for the world any spiritual food to keep its existence going' (Futuhat-e-Makiyya, Part 2, page 90).

7. Hazrat Imam Hajar Asqalani (Mujaddid, 8th Century Hijra) and Hazrat Imam Abdul Wahab Sharani both held the view that what ended with the death of the Holy Prophet was the revelation of prophethood which contains Shari'at (Divine Law), but not revelation without Shari'at which will continue till Doomsday. (Fath-ul-Bari, Vol. I, page 332' and Al-Yawaqeet wal Jawahir, page 37).

8. Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Thani

9. Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, and

10. Hazrat Shah Wali-Allah, Muhaddith Dehlavi:

all three Mujaddids claimed that Allah speaks to His chosen ones, including themselves (Maktubat, Vol. 3, part 7, letter no. 55; Diwan Muinuddin Chishti, page 102; Tafheemat-e-Ilahiya, Vol. 1, page 45).

And scores of other savants and saints of Islam could be quoted but we have not done so for the sake of brevity.

Muhaddath and Prophet:

The Holy Prophet's well-known sayings that if there could be a prophet after him it would have been Umar (ibn Khattab) but there would be no prophet any more, and that Hazrat Umar was a Muhaddath, show that a Muhaddath has the qualities of a prophet but he is not appointed as such. That is why Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Thani counted Hazrats Abu Bakr and Umar among the prophets (Maktubat, Book l, Part iv, letter No. 51).

And the following saying of Hazrat Shaikh Mohiyuddin ibn Arabi is very relevant to what happened to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib. The former wrote:

'From some of the sayings of a Muhaddath a stranger (to such things) thinks that the former is claiming to be a prophet and cancelling the Shari'at of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And that stranger then brands him a kafir (heretic). We have seen much of this in our own time and we have ourselves tasted of it at the hands of the Ulema of our time. But we excuse these people because the truth of the selected group of Muhaddathin is not established to them and they [the Ulema] speak from overpowering suspicion' (Futuhat-e-Makkiyya, Part 2, page 79).

Maulana Mufti Kifayat Ullah former head of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema of India said:

'Muhaddath is one on whom the words of Allah descend by special type of revelation. These people (Muhaddathin) are, according to some Ulema, lesser prophets. And according to other Ulema, they are saints of the highest order, (Book Majalis-ul-Abrar, marginal note on page 109).

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad said that Muhaddathin are men superior to all, and an example to others, and they are purified to the highest degree and are the chosen ones of Allah. Their light of knowledge and action is drawn from the lamp of prophethood and their footsteps are on the ways of prophethood (Tazkirah, p. 93).

Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (a Mujaddid) said:

'The prophets are given the name of prophets, and we have been given merely the title of prophet.'

And he went on to call them 'Anbiya-ul-Auliya' (prophets who are saints). Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, well-known translator and commentator of the Holy Quran, called the prophethood of such 'prophet-saints' the 'metaphorical' prophethood (book At-Tanabbah-ut-Tuba, page 99).

The Branding:

The above quotations have been given to show the closeness of the Muhaddath with prophethood. In these circumstances, was it any fault of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib that he wrote in reply to the charge that, by calling himself the Promised Messiah, he claimed to be a prophet, as follows:

'Here, if it be objected that the like of the Messiah should also be a prophet because the Messiah himself was a prophet, the reply to this, in the first instance, is that our Holy Prophet has not made prophethood a condition for the Promised Messiah, but has clearly said that he shall be a Muslim and bound by the law of the Quran like ordinary Muslims. He shall not claim anything except that he was a Muslim and an Imam of the Muslims. Besides, there is no doubt that this humble person has been raised by Allah as a Muhaddath for this Ummat. And a Muhaddath is also in a sense a prophet, although the complete prophethood is not for him. However, in a partial way he is a prophet, because he has the honour of being spoken to by Allah, and events of the future are disclosed to him. And like the revelations of the prophets and messengers of Allah, his revelation is also guarded against interference by the devil, and the real sense of the Shari'at is disclosed to him, and exactly like the prophets he is commissioned (by Allah) and it is obligatory on him, like the prophets, to proclaim himself; and he who repudiates him renders himself liable to divine punishment to a certain extent. And the use of the word prophethood for him means nothing more than that the above-mentioned characteristics are found in him' (book Tauzih-e-Maram, pages 17-18).

Now Hazrat Mirza Sahib said nothing above to which any exception could be taken. But what followed the above gave a handle to his critics and opponents to brand him as a kafir:

'If the plea is put forward that the door of prophethood is closed, and the revelation which used to come to the prophets has been sealed off, I say that the door of prophethood has not been closed in every sense, nor has a seal been set on revelations in all respects. But in a partial sense the door of revelation and prophethood has always been open for this Ummat which has been blessed by Allah. But it should be remembered clearly with all one's heart that this prophethood which will continue forever is not the perfect prophethood; but, as I have explained just now, it is only a partial prophethood, which in other words is called Muhaddathiyyat, which is given to him who follows in the footsteps of the Perfect Man, Muhammad Mustafa (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who in his person of all excellences was the embodiment of all the excellences of prophethood' (Tauzih-e-Maram, page 19).

This passage was made the basis of the fatwa of kufr (declaration of heresy) brought against Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib, although the earlier quotations given in this chapter from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the earlier Mujaddidin, saints and scholars of Islam show that they had said much more. The sayings of the Holy Prophet that Umar ibn Khattab would have been a prophet after him, but for the fact that there would be no prophet after him but that Umar would be a Muhaddath, show the true status of a Muhaddath. Then the Holy Prophet also said that Mubashshirat or good visions (true dreams and visions) which will continue in the Muslim Ummah are one forty-sixth part of prophethood (Bukhari, 92:26). The Holy Prophet went further, to say that revelation will continue in his Ummah, as already quoted earlier, and surely revelation is much higher than good visions which are one forty-sixth of prophethood, as stated by the Holy Prophet. He further said: 'The learned of my Ummah will be like the prophets of Beni Israel' (quoted in support of his case by Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Thani in his Maktubat, Vol. 2, letter no 13). And other Mujaddids, saints and scholars of Islam had gone much further, as already quoted above, without the cautions and qualifications emphasised by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib.

Much has also been made of the fact that Hazrat Mirza Sahib occasionally used the word nabi (prophet) in connection with his status, although:

(a) He was careful enough to qualify it by saying that he was using the word only in its etymological sense of one who makes a prophecy after receiving knowledge of the future from Allah through revelation.

(b) He used the word because the word Muhaddath merely means one to whom Allah speaks, without the person spoken to necessarily receiving news of the future or making prophecies about the future which he (Mirza Sahib) made in abundance.

In the same sense, he explained why he, of all the Mujaddids, was given the name of Nabi (Prophet) by the Holy Prophet in one of the reports contained in Sahih Muslim, the Book of Tradition which along with Bukhari is called the Sahihain (the two correct books of Hadith). Hazrat Mirza Sahib was the recipient of revelations in thousands, and he made prophecies in hundreds about important events in the future which proved true later in his lifetime and even after his death.

But in spite of the fact that Hazrat Mirza Sahib put himself to great pains to explain that the use of the word nabi in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet, was only in the metaphorical sense, and not in the real sense, his opponents continued to accuse him of having claimed real prophethood. Hence the need for the next chapter.


Books Section > Ahmadiyyat in the Service of Islam by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib > The Difference between a Muhaddath and a Prophet


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