Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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in the Service of Islam by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui
> The Promised Messiah
Books Section > Ahmadiyyat in the Service of Islam by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib > The Promised Messiah
Before we discuss further Hazrat Mirza Sahib's claim to be the Promised Messiah, it is important to determine whether Jesus Christ is sitting with his physical body in heaven, awaiting his return to earth to save Islam and the Muslims, or whether he is dead. Because, if the original Jesus Christ is awaiting in heaven his second posting on earth, this time among the Muslims, then our case falls to the ground. But if he is dead, then the Promised Messiah mentioned in the Hadith must be a 'leader from among you (Muslims), as foretold by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The rather long discussion on this point has been relegated by us to Chapter 11 so that it may not confuse this narrative account. A perusal of that chapter would show that the Holy Qur'an and Hadith prove conclusively that:
(a) Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross.
That being so, and since the most authentic two books of Hadith (Bukhari and Muslim) quote the Holy Prophet Muhammad as saying that the Promised Messiah would be an 'Imam (leader) from among you (Muslims),' why did the Promised Messiah not appear as predicted by the Holy Prophet, and hinted by the Holy Quran, when all other prophecies made by them regarding the timing of his appearance, namely, the rise to power of Gog and Magog (the Western nations), their all-out attempt to convert the subject nations, including the Muslims, to their religion through their missionaries, and the resulting mortal danger to Islam and the Muslims, had all been completely fulfilled?
He did appear, for the Word of Allah and the prophecies of His Prophet, could not possibly remain unfulfilled.
When Allah revealed to Hazrat Mirza Sahib that Jesus Christ had died in his own time, as provable from the Holy Quran and the Hadith, Hazrat Mirza Sahib gave top priority to this revelation of the true state of affairs, and left no stone unturned to prove it from the Holy Quran, Hadith and even the Bible. But the sceptics would still have said, 'Let us wait and see when the Promised Messiah appears whether he is Jesus Christ or somebody else,' for beliefs held for centuries cannot be given up easily, except by those blessed by Allah with the courage to accept the truth when they see it. So the All-Wise Allah did not leave any room for doubt or prevarication. And he deservedly appointed Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib as the Promised Messiah, particularly as the dangers to Islam and the Muslims which he was to crush had in fact appeared, and Hazrat Mirza Sahib was fit in every way for the great task of meeting them.
The Muslim Ulema of the time were aware that all prophecies regarding the timing of the appearance of the Promised Messiah had been fulfilled, and the times and the circumstances called for his appearance. And they were preaching in mosques to Muslim audiences how and where Hazrat Isa (Jesus) would descend in person from the heavens. Hazrat Mirza Sahib's revelation that Hazrat Isa was dead and that he (Mirza Sahib) was the Promised Messiah came to them as a bolt from the blue. It shattered their life-long fancies and faiths -- however incorrect and harmful to Islam they had been -- and went against what they had been announcing to the Muslims. Besides, the vanity and pride of some of the critics may also have been hurt, that leaving the recognised Ulema and Pirs (hereditary religious leaders), a person not belonging to their professional group, as it were, had been selected for the high office of the Promised Messiah (who was also to be the Mahdi as prophesied by the Holy Prophet). The same reaction has been described in the Holy Quran on its being revealed to an orphan and unimportant person (as he then was) like Muhammad, rather than to the big people of the premier cities of Arabia. Says the Holy Quran:
'And they say, Why was not the Quran revealed to a man of importance in the two towns?' (43:31).
How could the high and mighty of the land follow an unimportant person, according to them, however outstanding he may have been in his moral and spiritual qualities which alone matter in the eyes of Allah?
Not that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was not an outstanding scholar too of languages (Arabic, Persian and Urdu) and of religions. But he had not been to a recognised school which turned out Maulvis, and he did not belong to a Pir family. He was contemptuously called a munshi (a mere scribe). The Ulema did contest, however unsuccessfully, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib's arguments from the Holy Quran and Hadith and his appeals to reason and the Islamic sentiment. The debates are all on record. Let somebody, who wants to, look at them and decide who had the better of those debates. The Ulema realised that they were not on firm ground. But they found an issue which was to upset Muslims emotionally and thus to confuse their reason.
The Ulema charged that Hazrat Mirza Sahib had claimed to be a prophet. How? They said that he claimed to be the Promised Messiah who had been referred to as Nabi (prophet) in the Hadith (tradition) of the Holy Prophet. The Hadith did use this term. It was also true that the revelations which came to Hazrat Mirza Sahib even before he was appointed the Promised Messiah called him a Nabi or Rasool (messenger) occasionally. In the circumstances, to meet the charge that he had indirectly claimed to be a prophet, Hazrat Mirza Sahib had three options open before him:
(1) To say, Allah forbid, that the Hadith (tradition) of the Holy Prophet and his own revelations were wrong,
No Muslim or man of God worth the name could adopt alternative # 1. Had Hazrat Mirza Sahib been a false person or an 'impostor, as alleged by his detractors, he could easily have adopted alternative # 2. No matter that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was accepted as the Last Prophet by the general body of Muslims, Hazrat Mirza Sahib would have got away with a claim to prophethood, as shown by the later slip-up of many of his followers (Rabwah Jamaat), who, after his death, elevated him from the rank of Mujaddid to the rank of prophet, in the same way as Jesus Christ (whose second coming or image in the spiritual sense Hazrat Mirza Sahib claimed to be) was raised by the vast majority of his followers from prophethood to godhood. The founder of Baha'ism had recently got away with such claims. But Hazrat Mirza Sahib was too good a Muslim to even think of it.
So he adopted the third alternative, that is to say, all his life he successfully reconciled the two seemingly conflicting positions, namely, that while prophethood had come to an end with the last prophet Muhammad, his spiritual caliphs or those receiving revelation in Islam were called prophets in their revelations or by themselves, for he was not the first to be so called. He showed his critics that:
(a) Etymologically the word Nabi [prophet] means one who receives news from Allah and makes prophecies accordingly. It is in this sense alone that the recipients of revelation from Allah (after prophethood proper came to an end with the Holy Prophet Muhammad) are called Nabi by Him or by themselves. The use of the word Nabi is thus purely metaphorical or etymological for those who receive revelation and make prophecies, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
In spite of the rational attitude of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, his opponents persisted in the charge that he had in fact claimed to be a prophet. And so he had to issue the denials quoted earlier under 'Articles of Faith', and many more which are reproduced in Chapter 5. But before that, it is necessary to explain in the next chapter the difference between a Muhaddath (one to whom Allah speaks) and a Prophet proper who is Divinely appointed, receives wahy an-nubuwwat (the highest form of revelation of prophethood brought only by the archangel Gabriel), is given a book and is independent of other prophets. We apologise for this digression but it is necessary to explain why Hazrat Mirza Sahib's claim to be only a Muhaddath (one to whom Allah speaks), like so many before him in Islam, was still distorted to attribute to him prophethood proper, however much he denied it.