Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Hazrat Mirza Sahibs main and basic position in Islam is that of the Mujaddid of the fourteenth century Hijrah. His roles as the Promised Messiah and the Mahdi were supplemental. In his roles as the Mujaddid and the Mahdi, he carried out very important and essential reforms, necessary to take Islam back to the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet. It is necessary to emphasise that the reforms which he carried out were of the harmful offshoots of later growth, because so far as the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet are concerned, theirs was the true and pure Islam. He himself said:
'I have firm faith that our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the last of the prophets. And after him, no prophet will come, whether one of the old ones or a new one. And not a dot or a vowel-point of the Holy Quran can be abrogated' (Nishan-e-Asmani, page 28).
So the reforms which Hazrat Mirza Sahib carried out were:
(a) In accordance with the Holy Quran and the Hadith.
Under (b) above, we have already mentioned in Chapter 2 how fatal to Islam and the Muslims was their ill-founded faith that Jesus Christ had been taken alive and with his physical body to heaven, to await there his re-posting to the earth to save Islam and the Muslims when they are in dire peril. And we will, insha-Allah, in the next chapter show from the Holy Quran, the Hadith, the Bible, and the opinion of some eminent Muslims, that Jesus Christ died a normal and natural death. So that his second advent prophesied in the Holy Quran and the Hadith was to be 'of a leader from amongst the Muslims' (Bukhari and Muslim).
Similarly, about the revival of the dead, the physically dead can never come back according to the Holy Quran (39:42, 23: 100, etc.).
'And there is no animal in the earth, nor a bird that flies on its two wings, but they are communities like yourselves' (6:38).
The need for these reforms arose because, if taken literally, the so-called miracles invested Jesus Christ with divinity. For the Holy Quran clearly says that there is no Creator except Allah, so that if Jesus Christ created birds he was at least a partner in godhood. And this the Christian proselytisers exploited to win over Muslims to Christianity. The verses of the Holy Quran which make it clear that only Allah creates are:
'And it is Allah Who created for you everything in the earth' (2:29).
(The reader should note that Jesus is set up as an associate with God and is alleged to have created birds like Allah's creation.)
'Show me what they (the false gods) created in the earth' (35:40; 46:4).
And so on.
The Christian proselytisers, on the strength of the above verses, exploited the wrong notion of the Muslim ulama that Jesus Christ created birds physically, to make him a part of God, one of the three, as believed by them. Even the wrong notion that he healed physical ailments they exploited for the same purpose, because the Holy Quran says (26:80) that it is Allah Who cures physical ailments, although outwardly the doctors and the medicines created by Him do the work. When Allah does not want to cure, no doctor or medicine can.
So these reforms had assumed importance now, with the Christian onslaught on Islam, to remove the wrong notions which only helped those out to finish Islam and the Muslims.
Brotherhood of Islam:
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had said that the Promised Messiah would be an arbiter and a judge, to decide differences and disputes which would be dividing the Muslim brotherhood grievously in his time. And so they were, so much so that the Muslims, worshipping One Allah, following one Prophet (Muhammad) and obeying one book (the Holy Quran), were divided into nearly seventy-two sects calling one another kafirs (disbelievers and outside the pale of Islam)! Hazrat Mirza Sahib, quoting the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet, laid down the law that he who recites the Kalimah: La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasul Allah is a Muslim, because that Kalimah makes even a non-Muslim to be a Muslim. The Holy Prophet had himself said:
'Restrain yourself in the matter of those who recite La ilaha ill-Allah. Do not call them kafirs. For he who calls them kafirs is himself nearer to kufr (disbelief)' (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 2, page 129, Hadith No. 3139).
The Holy Quran goes to the extent of saying:
'And do not say to one who greets you with the Muslim salutation (Assalamu 'alaikam), You are not a believer' (4:94).
And the Holy Prophet had similarly fixed outward signs to decide who is a Muslim:
'And do not call those who face towards your Qiblah (Makkah) disbelievers'
It has been alleged against Hazrat Mirza Sahib that he himself called those who did not believe in him kafirs. This is totally wrong. He wrote:
'From the beginning it has been my faith that nobody who rejects my claim (to be Mujaddid, Promised Messiah or Mahdi) becomes a kafir (disbeliever, outside the pale of Islam) or Dajjal' (Tiryaq-ul-Qulub, page 130).
And this view he confirmed on oath in a court of law (in the case brought against him by Karam Din Jhelumi) and re-confirmed in his book Haqiqat-ul-Wahy (Nishan 118), published in 1907.
But to put an end to the malaise of takfir (calling others kafirs), so prevalent among Muslims, he warned that, according to the following admonition of the Holy Prophet, those who indulged in it themselves became kafir:
'He who describes those who recite La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasul Allah as kafirs himself becomes nearer to kufr (disbelief)' (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 2, page 129).
And it was only by way of retaliation, to put an end to the evil, that he referred to those who called him kafir as having become kafirs themselves, as announced by the Holy Prophet. Otherwise, as he said a few days before his death (15 May 1908), in reply to Mian (later Sir) Fazle Hussain, Bar-at-Law, 'We certainly do not describe as kafirs those who do not call us kafirs.'
This rift has done incalculable harm to the unity of Muslims, leading as it did to brawls, riots, killings, even wars. To decide the bone of contention whether Hazrat Ali should not immediately have succeeded the Holy Prophet as the Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Sahib quoted the Holy Quran and Hadith to show that the selection of Hazrats Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as Caliphs was no usurpation, as alleged by the Shias, but selection on merits by the then leaders of Muslim thought (Sirr-ul-Khirafah).
In any case, hurling abuses (as the Shias do) at these, and other venerable Companions of the Holy Prophet, was an un-Islamic and a reprehensible practice.
Quran and Hadith:
Apart from the Ahle-Quran (the sect of those who follow the Quran only and reject Hadith) and Ahle-Hadith or Wahabis (those who go by what the Hadith says, even in interpreting the Quran), which are well-defined sects, there are a large number of Muslims not belonging formally to these sects who follow one of these schools of thought or the other. In Hazrat Mirza Sahib's time, controversy raged between these sects. He, therefore, felt the need to pronounce upon it. The Ahle-Quran and quite a large number of the so-called intellectuals of the present-day reject the Hadith altogether, because it was collected and reduced to writing about 100-150 years after the death of the Holy Prophet, and a number of spurious, weak and mixed reports have found their place in the books of Hadith. But if you reject the Hadith altogether, then a great deal of Islam disappears. For instance, the Holy Quran asks us to say our prayers. But how often and in what manner to say them, and what to say in them, are all taken from the Hadith. Again, the Holy Quran requires the payment of zakah (poor-rate). All its details as to who is liable to pay zakah and who is not, what form of wealth is liable to this levy and what is not, what are the rates of levy for the various kinds of wealth, etc., are derived from the Hadith.
Apart from such elucidations of the Holy Quran, which the Holy Prophet gave by wahy khafi (revelation from Allah which is not for recitation), the Hadith are full of the most valuable and illuminating pearls of wisdom and guidance from the lips of the Holy Prophet, as also thousands of prophecies about future events, which, when fulfilled, put the seal of truth on the Divine origin of those prophecies. To reject them all is the most self-destructive step any Muslim can take. But the fact remains that the reports of Hadith were carried by word of mouth and in memory for nearly 100-150 years, and most of the reports carry what the reporter thought was the meaning of the Holy Prophet, although it is amazing how many of them have proved true verbally too by the later discovery of, for instance, the letter of the Holy Prophet to Maququs, King of Egypt. Yet the element of doubt always exists about reports carried by word of mouth or in memory for 100-150 years. And there are, no doubt, weak or corrupted reports, some of them forged by converts to Islam from Judaism or Christianity after the Muslim conquests.
So, to resolve the controversy about the relative position of the Holy Quran and Hadith was difficult. And that is why the Muslims had divided up into two schools of thought, as shown above, and gone to the extremes of rejecting all Hadith, or going by them, and not turning to the Holy Quran, on the assumption that the Holy Prophet understood the Holy Quran better than us. True, but have we got his interpretation fully and correctly, when, for 100-150 years, all his sayings were carried from mouth to mouth or from memory to memory only?
Hazrat Mirza Sahib laid down the beautiful mean between the two extremes. He said that the Holy Quran must come first. It is admittedly the fountainhead of the religion. It is the word of Allah Himself. It is the Book which the Holy Prophet himself followed completely. Besides, there is the Divine guarantee that it would be safeguarded against loss or interpolation:
'Surely We have revealed this Reminder and surely We will be its Guardian' (15:9).
But the Holy Quran itself requires us to obey the Holy Prophet too ('Obey Allah and His Messenger,' is repeated again and again) and follow in his ways:
'Say, If you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you too, and grant you protection from sins' (3:30).
So how do we obey or follow the Holy Prophet? Obey his Sunnah (example set in deeds). And since the practical example (sunnah) of the Holy Prophet (for instance in the matter of prayers) was preserved by the practice of his followers, who were scrupulous and punctilious in following his sublime example in all its details from generation to generation, the Sunnah comes next to the Holy Quran in the matter of dependability. This was a new and a very correct priority laid down by Hazrat Mirza Sahib.
The sayings of the Holy Prophet (Hadith) come next in the order of priority because they were carried by word of mouth and not recorded for 100-150 years. Now, how to decide which of the items of Sunnah or Hadith to depend upon and follow? Hazrat Mirza Sahib again laid down the golden rule. Since the Holy Prophet never said or did anything against the Holy Quran, test the Hadith (or alleged Sunnah) with reference to the Holy Quran. If it is not in conflict, accept it. If not, leave it to Allah. Maybe later on somebody may prove that even that conflict does not exist. Particularly so far as the prophecies are concerned, only events can be the final proof.
Fiqh is the body of law which grew up when the various Imams (Hanifa, Malik, Shafai, Hanbal and their successors), by the application of reasoning or conjecture, worked out details of the Muslim law not found specifically in the Holy Quran or the Hadith, but required to decide specific cases. While those legists are entitled to great respect, it is not correct to follow them blindly, as:
(a) It is possible that their attention may not have been drawn to a particular verse of the Holy Quran or to a Hadith which may entitle us to take a different view. For instance, nobody knew the Holy Quran or the example of the Holy Prophet better than Hazrat Umar, the second Caliph, about whom the Holy Prophet had said that he would have been a prophet had prophethood continued after him. When Hazrat Umar forbade the fixing of a high mahr (dowry) for women taken in marriage, an old woman corrected him by saying: 'O son of Khattab, Allah gives this right to us and you forbid it.' And then she recited the verse of the Holy Quran: 'And if you have given any of these women heaps of gold, don't take anything of it back.' Hazrat Umar was great enough, and God-fearing enough, to admit publicly that he was wrong, and corrected himself, saying: 'The women of Madinah have more understanding than Umar.'
In any case, what happened, unfortunately, was that the ulama came to give the Fiqh the topmost place of honour and priority in their studies and in their discourses and sermons, instead of the priority being given to the Holy Quran, the Sunnah and Hadith in that order. In fact, Islamic theology came to mean Fiqh. It was one of Hazrat Mirza Sahib's basic reforms to put the Holy Quran first, the Sunnah next, the Hadith third, and then the Fiqh.
The ulama had, in Hazrat Mirza Sahib's time, closed the door of ijtihad (deductive reasoning from the Holy Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadith) on the grounds that the early Muslim scholars understood the Holy Quran, the Sunnah and Hadith better than us. While the early scholars of Islam are entitled to great respect, there is always the possibility of honest mistake or oversight, and, as already stated, new times and new circumstances require rethinking in interpreting the Holy Quran and the Hadith. When Hazrat Mirza Sahib reopened the door of ijtihad, there was an uproar against him, although the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had himself opened the door of ijtihad if no specific authority was available in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, on the well-known occasion when he was sending Hazrat Muaz ibn Jabal as the governor of Yaman and on other occasions. Luckily, now, nearly eighty years after Hazrat Mirza Sahib declared that the door of ijtihad was always open, there is consensus among the enlightened Muslim scholars and thinkers that the door is indeed open. So there is no need for us to discuss the issue further. But the credit for opening the door, closed for centuries, will be given to Ahmadiyyat and its great Founder by the honest historians when the dust of controversy and calumny against the former has settled.
Theory of Abrogation:
There was unfortunately common faith among the Muslim ulama about Nasikh Mansukh in the Holy Quran, that is to say that certain verses of the Holy Quran cancelled or abrogated other verses. The number of such verses, according to some, was as high as five hundred. It was not realized, when there was no criticism of Islam by foreigners, that this was a great slur on the Holy Quran. For the hostile critics of the nineteenth century CE referred to the verse of the Holy Quran which says:
'And if this Book were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy' (4:82)
and they argued that the Holy Quran is thus not from Allah as it contains so many discrepancies.
It was an historical service of Ahmadiyyat and its Founder to show that there was no discrepancy whatsoever in the Holy Quran by reconciling the apparent conflict on which this theory was based. Those who believed in it referred to 2:106, but that verse in the Holy Quran refers to the abrogation of the earlier Shari'ahs by the Shari'ah being given by the Holy Quran.
Slavery and Concubinage:
The reform made by Ahmadiyyat on these issues has already been discussed in Chapter 8.
The reform made by Hazrat Mirza Sahib on this basic principle of Islam has already been discussed in Chapter 6, so it will not be repeated here.
This has already been discussed in Chapter 8. This important reform made by Ahmadiyyat and its Founder has yet to be accepted by the general body of the ulama. But it is a question of time before it will be, insha-Allah.
The Brotherhood of Man:
There is no doubt about this concept taught by Islam 1400 years ago, when national and tribal and even family superiorities were in vogue. But most of the Muslim ulama of the nineteenth century CE believed only those nations to have received Divine guidance whose prophet or prophets are mentioned in the Holy Quran, and therefore the phrase 'The People of the Book' was confined to the Jews and the Christians. This narrow and wrong view overlooked the following verses of the Holy Quran:
'And for every nation there was a messenger' (10:47).
In view of all the verses quoted above, it must be held that prophets and revealed books were sent to all nations. The phrase 'People of the Book' may therefore be taken to mean those nations who possess a book which they claim was revealed, however interpolated and corrupt its teachings may have now become. Some element of Divine guidance must have remained in it. So the followers of such books are better than those who have completely lost their books. It was on this interpretation that Hazrat Umar, the second Caliph, determined that the Zoroastrians of Persia (which was conquered in his time) should be treated as 'The People of the Book,' although their prophet or book is not mentioned specifically in the Holy Quran.
Ahmadiyyat and its Founder thus widened and perfected the concept of the brotherhood of man to include prophets and Divine books having been sent to all nations. And this was in accordance with the Holy Quran, according to the verses quoted above. This reform was important, not only in itself, but also because Islam was now, under the inspiration given by Hazrat Mirza Sahib, to go out to convert the nations of the world.
Propagation of Islam:
That is the mission of Ahmadiyyat. It was neglected in recent centuries, although the Holy Quran had made it incumbent that there should always be a Jamaat among Muslims who should invite others to Islam (3:103). And jihad with the Holy Quran (25:52), which was made obligatory on the Holy Prophet and his followers, was the principal task entrusted by the Founder to the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. That this has been done, bringing about a revolutionary change in the outlook of the West and of the rest of the world regarding Islam, will be shown in a later chapter.
Islam as purified and refined in Ahmadiyyat (very briefly shown in this chapter and earlier) is the only Islam which can appeal to the enlightened people of the world.