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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Mujaddid-i a‘zam, Volume 3

1. The Background
2. Religion and philosophy clash again
3. The arrival of the much-awaited Mujaddid
4. The basis of Hazrat Mirza Sahibís religious philosophy


3. Publications & Resources

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In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Praise and blessings for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)

1. The Background

'O you who have studied the philosophy of the Greeks, Now also study the wisdom of those who believe'.
(A Persian verse of Maulana Rumi translated into English)

When the world begins to evaluate the services of a Mujaddid (Reformer) or messenger, people generally do not attempt to find the proper facts and are seldom fair in their judgement. Their verdict is, as a result, based on their personal opinions and inclinations. They focus their attention only on his failings and shortcomings and pay no attention to his achievements. Moreover, they do not judge his accomplishments by the proper standard laid down by Allah for His appointed servants in the Holy Quran, or that observed in the history of the world. If every person judges according to his own will, it is impossible to reach a proper conclusion. Every individual has his own desires and standards of judgement. If the person appointed by Allah tried to please one person, he would go against the wishes of another and the objection would not be removed.

The truth is that when Allah appoints a person for the tremendous task of spiritual revival and reform, He Himself instructs him in the line of action to be taken and the object to be achieved; the desires and inclinations of the general public do not matter. As Allah says in the Holy Quran:

"Is it then that whenever there came to you a messenger with what your souls desired not, you were arrogant? And some you gave the lie to and others you would slay."(2:87).

This verse is an accurate description of the condition of the people of this age: there is an element of arrogance in their nature which prompts them to suggest a work plan and set goals for the messengers, who are ordained by Allah. An arrogant man thinks himself worthy of anything. He tries to assume the role of God and if things do not go in accordance with his wishes he turns against the messenger, denies and opposes him and even plots to kill him.

This practice has been found so consistently among the opponents of the messengers that Allah says in the Holy Quran:

"Have they charged each other with this?" (51:53)

Meaning that do they instruct each other about it in their wills! This is a fine description of their attitude. Since the opponents always use the same tactics it seems as if they leave instructions to their successors in their wills to deny and oppose the messengers. This opposition has always been the same, so how could the situation change when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was ordained as a Mujaddid? History repeated all the events that had always taken place. Hazrat Mirza Sahib's opponents abused him for neglecting what was, in their opinion, his mission. This has made me wish to review his achievements and point out the great religious services rendered by him. We must see if Hazrat Sahib completed the task assigned to him and if so, was it according to the need of the times? Were his services what would be expected of a reformer in our day and age?

The condition of the Muslims before the call of Hazrat Mirza sahib

Before I shed light on the religious services of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, I would like to present a picture of the condition of the Muslims of that age before his call.

Political Downfall

The Muslims were on the verge of a political collapse before the advent of Hazrat Mirza Sahib. They had lost most of their power and rule; whatever vestige remained was dwindling rapidly. The Mughal rule in India had come to an end. Egypt had also passed into the hands of the British. After the martyrdom of the Sudani mehdi by the British, Sudan had also been taken under control. Morocco had been taken over by Spain and Tripoli had come under Italian occupation. The entire Islamic State of Zanzibar had been divided between the British and the Germans. Turkey had been totally engulfed by Russia whereas Iran was also dominated and close to surrender. Afghanistan, too, was under the command of the British while Arabia no longer had any signs of life left in it. The Ottoman Empire, which had been the pride of the Muslims and had the honour of being the guardian of the Holy places, was dying a slow death. It had greatly suffered from the repeated attacks made by Russia and was a victim of the cunning political manoevures of Europe. Specialists in political strategy were sure that the Sultanate would soon to come to an end. After the martyrdom of Tipu Sultan, the Islamic rule of Maysore had also finished.

Hence, the political position of the Muslims was extremely degenerate. An atmosphere of gloom and hopelessness pervaded the entire Muslim world. The Muslims were unfortunately convinced that Islam could only prosper if they were in power, and since they had lost their position in the material world, it seemed impossible to them for an Islamic revival to take place. One can well imagine the pitiable condition of the Muslims by studying the speeches of the religious scholars and leaders of that period or by taking a look at the literature and the poetry of the time, which portrays the extreme helplessness that the Muslims experienced. They felt that Islam had made its final attempt to survive in the form of Tipu Sultan. His failure signified the defeat of Islam so that now its very existence was doomed. There was just no way left for a revival to take place.

A great Muslim leader, the late Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali wrote his famous poem Musaddas-i-Hali in the backdrop of the Muslim downfall. It presents such a bleak picture of Muslim subjugation that it brings tears to ones eyes and fills the heart with sorrow. Two of its stanzas are translated as follow (p. 3):

“You have listened to the tales of the rich,
And have learnt of the deeds of our scholars;
You have seen the true character of the nobles
All are ready to fall to their destruction.
The wreck of this nation shall collapse any time,
For our foundations have been shaken and moved;
But the downfall we have witnessed is only a glimpse
Of the bad times that are about to befall us.
When a nation falls from the high station we held,
It fades away gradually until no sign of its glory remains;
Although we have lost all we had and are destitute,
We are yet to face further disgrace and humiliation.”

Hence it seemed to the Muslims that their fate was to be the same as the Jews and they would remain a subjugated, downtrodden nation forever. Not only had the tide of events turned against them and made the whole world their enemy, but it seemed that even when they looked to the heavens for help they received no reply. This situation was an unprecedented one in the history of Islam. Never before had the Muslims lost heart or given up hope so badly; not even the toppling of the Ummayyads, the end of the Abbasid rule or the decadence of the Muslim rule in Spain could lower their morale, but at that time a great wave of hopelessness and despondency had spread over the entire Muslim world - and everyone knows how dangerous hopelessness and depression can be. When an individual or a nation loses hope, it is as if the flame of its existence has been burnt out. People lose their capacity to make a constructive effort and no longer possess the will or the motivation to work and to improve their condition. It seems as if they have only one thing worth waiting for and that is Death, the ultimate end.

Religious Downfall

While the Muslims were confronting a political collapse, Christianity was slowly gaining political dominance. The priests of Europe and America thought it necessary to spread Christianity in the world in order to strengthen their political power. Since there was no real attraction in their own religion they thought it wise to launch an attack on the religions of other nations. So the Christians began to make all sorts of uncalled for attacks on other religions criticising them mercilessly, until doubts crept into the minds of their followers and they drew away from their previous beliefs. Next, the priests planned to draw them towards Christianity by the lure of worldly riches and luxuries.

Now they felt that only the religion of Islam was the one that challanged them and posed a threat, so they directed all their energy towards an onslaught on Islam. Islam had such universal, humanitarian and logical concepts that they feared it would soon spread throughout the world and endanger the political might of the Christian governments. Bearing this in mind they attacked Islam on all grounds and made the most unreasonable objections and levelled as many false allegations against it as they could.

Assaults by the Christians

The attacks that were made by the Christian priests on Islam were not of the same nature as those of the Crusaders long ago. They now took up the pen as their weapon instead of the sword. They launched a four-pronged attack on Islam:

  1. The Muslim scholars and commentators of the Holy Quran had misunderstood the status of Jesus Christ and hence made mistakes in interpreting and explaining the verses referring to him. As a result they awarded certain qualities and distinctions to Jesus Christ that made him not only superior to Hazrat Muhammad ( P.B.U.H ) but also made it seem as if he possessed some of the Divine qualities. For instance, they believed that Jesus was able to create birds, heal the sick and raise the dead to life, that he possessed knowledge of the unknown and that he resides in the Heavens to this day, in full glory of flesh and bone, and will descend in the last age to save the disaster-stricken, helpless followers of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) and so on and so forth. The Christians exploited this flaw to their full advantage and misled hundreds of Muslims and converted them to Christianity.
  2. Most of the Maulvis had also misinterpreted some of the finer points of Islam in their preaching. They had taken the literal meaning of verses of the Holy Quran that were meant to be taken metaphorically, and had fabricated all sorts of weird stories of their own. The Christian priests pointed out all these follies, making them and some of the weak traditions a target of their objections and criticism. Besides this they also invented false beliefs, which they attributed to Islam in order to turn the Muslims away from their own religion. In these circumstances it became extremely difficult for the Muslims to adhere to their beliefs and they had no choice under this vicious onslaught on Islam, but to accept Christianity.
  3. Their third step was to publish hundreds of tracts and books based on the objections made by the Atheists and materialists, and to expose the Muslim youth to them in schools and colleges. No doubt it was the Christians who were the first to suffer from these attacks but their priests were beyond caring. They were willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. Their sole purpose was to lure the Muslims away from Islam, they were most welcome to become Atheists or Agnostics, for once the Muslims lost their religion, the greed for power would automatically draw them to the company of Christians. If religion became meaningless and worthless to them, they would certainly be glad to enter a society that held the reins of power. So atheism and Agnosticism were given popularity. The principles of Islam were compared unfavourably with atheism and were shown to their disadvantage so that the Muslim youth was disillusioned from their own faith.
  4. Although the Christian priests were making all sorts of filthy attacks on Islam, they were still not satisfied. They feared that if somehow the Christians of Europe became aware of the logical and righteous principles of Islam then nothing would be able to prevent the spread of the Truth. So they took great pains to write books which presented the worst possible image of Islam. These books contained all sorts of fabrications and vituperations against the founder of Islam and no effort was spared to paint a black picture of his character and achievements. They went so far as to publish pictures of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) in which the Muslims were prostrate before him and he was worshipping the sun. There were also thousands of pictures which showed the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) sitting in the midst of beautiful women, with the Quran in one hand and a sword in the other. The impression given was that, God forbid, he spread Islam by means of the sword and lived luxuriously in the company of women.
  5. The curse of Allah has fallen on these nations for their filthy attacks on the most chaste and righteous of all men. All Christian nations are now well known for their loose and luxurious living, their drunkenness and the moral degeneracy in their society. They not only take up the sword to impose their principles on others, but do not hesitate to use the most deadly weapons against their foe. Hence, European priests used the most misleading and insulting propaganda possible to malign Islam and its followers.

Assaults by the Arya Samajists

The propaganda of the Christians against Islam was greatly aided by their political dominance. Their rule was spreading throughout the world and with it the propaganda against Islam also spread. Gradually other nations began to follow their example and now they, too, dared to assault Islam. The Arya Samaj (a Hindu sect) was most active in this respect. The reason being that they, too, like the Christians, feared Islam and viewed it as a potential threat to their religion.

The only thing the Hindu religion could boast of was its idol-worship and caste system. As a result most of the educated Hindu youth opted for Christianity or Islam instead of their own faith. Since Christianity was the religion of a foreign government, it was alien to the Hindus. The Muslims, on the other hand, lived along with the Hindus in their homeland. Their principle of Tauheed, or the Oneness of Allah, and lessons of the brotherhood and equality of the human race were most appealing, and strongly attracted the Hindus towards Islam, so that it was feared that the Hindus would gradually merge into Islam. Dayanand Ji Sarsoti sensed this danger but since there was nothing in Hinduism that could attract its followers, he, too, deemed it best to launch an attack on Islam instead of remaining on the defensive. Every attempt was made to distort the image of Islam. The Arya Samajists took most of their material from the Christians and modified the objections and allegations made by them to suit their own purpose. An all out effort was made to disillusion the Hindus from Islam and to make them think of the Muslims as their enemy.

The Assault of Western Philosophy

The situation worsened till even the most weak and powerless faiths had the audacity to abuse Islam, yet the greatest danger came from still another quarter. The factor that had most affected the entire religious world in general and Islam in particular was the spread of Materialistic philosophy and atheism in the new branches of Western knowledge. The Christians of Europe considered the propagation of such ideas as the greatest weapon, which could easily turn the Muslims away from their religion. The late Maulana Shibli writes about the same in his book Ilm-ul-Kalam (part 1):

“The danger that threatened Islam in the time of the Abbasids has increased in gravity now. Western teachings have gained entry into every home. There is freedom of expression to such an extent that one can spread falsehood more easily than one could speak the truth in the past. Religious thought has undergone a tremendous change. All those who have received modern education are mesmerised by it. When our out-dated scholars come out of their seclusion to take a peek at the modern world, they find the religious atmosphere overcast. The need for a new philosophical outlook on Islam is direly felt and accepted by all, yet there is a conflict of principles regarding it. The newly educated lot thinks that the new outlook must be based on new principles too, because the objections that Islam faces in the present age are of an entirely different nature from the ones that it faced in the past. The earlier assaults on Islam came from the Greek philosophy, which was based on mere conjecture and abstract conception. The challenge to Islam today is posed by logic and practicality and we cannot fight them merely with conjectures and suppositions; we need something solid.”

But what effort was made to find a new philosophical outlook on Islam? It should be quite clear that our religious scholars were not prepared to move an inch from their antiquated ideas. The western philosophers attacked them with tanks and fighter jets; they responded with the outworn swords and arrows, dating from the age of the Greek philosophy, which were of absolutely no use at all in the present.

This is the scientific age. Every claim must be based on experimentation and observation. The conjectures of Greek philosophy, their vague ideas and complicated theories are of no use in this age. But then what did our religious scholars have apart from that? They were completely ignorant of the English language and the various branches of western knowledge and philosophy. Whenever an objection incidentally came to their knowledge, they would try their best to issue a fatwa of Kufr against the dissenter. When they could muster up the courage to give some sort of an answer it was based on the Greek philosophy's abstract thought which could not satisfy the critic. If he countered their argument with the solid logical proofs provided by the western philosophers they would turn against him and ostracise him from Islam by declaring him an accursed kafir.

I myself have witnessed similar incidents where a youth had approached a maulvi with a question or objection. The Maulvi tried to give a vague answer and get rid of him. The critic made an objection to the reply given, at which the maulvi flared up and shouted, "Go away, you are accursed. If people like you leave Islam, what has Islam got to lose. You will become engraved in hell."

The late Maulana Hali has drawn an excellent picture of the condition in those days in his Musaddas, some of whose verse are translated below:

The knowledge of the ancient Greeks
is nothing but a means of deception;
No one can believe in it now
it has absolutely no practical application;
Yet we value it more than Divine revelation
and allow in it neither addition nor omission.

The Torah, Psalms, Bible and Quran
are all liable to error and cancellation;
But the golden principle of the Greeks
has no room for any alteration;
They shall remain as long as the world exists
Not even a comma may be omitted.

Western knowledge has shown its presence
in Hindustan for some hundred years;
Yet prejudice has blinded our vision
we cannot seek the truth for all our fears;
It is Aristotle whom we devoutly follow
a new revelation would be hard to swallow.

Those who worship this philosophy
who idolize Shafa and Majasti;
And take their lessons from Aristotle
They follow Plato quite devoutly;
They are like a bull tethered to a well
who keeps moving, but in circles.

When they have completed their education
and are well-known as learned men;
If they have new and different ideas
then their greatest wisdom would be;
that if they decided to call the day 'night'
every one would think that they were right.

But apart from that they are ready to teach
and tell their students all that they know;
Making them learn all their stale knowledge
turning them into parrots just like themselves;
This is the outcome of their knowledge
this is what they pride themselves upon.

Unworthy of earning a government post
or even getting a position in court;
Unable to graze herds in the wilderness
or even to toil as a market labourer;
Alas, they could have earned by a hundred means
Their so-called education has robbed them of everything.

Just ask them about their new found knowledge
as to what they exactly mean by acquiring it;
Does it aid their religious or worldly affairs
or do they derive something else from it;
They will shout in answer, like a madman raving
But will fail to give you a satisfactory reply.

They cannot explain the purpose of prophethood
or prove Islam to be a true religion to others;
They cannot show the greatness of the Qur'an
or teach the world the meaning of the real truth;
All their arguments are wasted today
Their swords are powerless before the canons.

Their writings are meant to breed hatred
Their speeches make ones heart bleed;
They are quick to degrade the poor sinners
and brand their Muslim brethren as kafirs;
These are the practices of our ulema
The good ways of our so-called guides.

When someone goes to them with a problem
he returns with heavy burden to bear;
If unfortunately he doubts their solution
he will certainly be doomed to hell;
And if he dares to demur in their presence
There are not much chances of his returning alive.

At times their neck veins swell up in anger
and they foam at the mouth in their wrath;
Declaring that he is worse than swine and cur
and take up their canes to beat him;
You are the pillar of our religion?
Models of the morals of our righteous prophet?

If you want to meet them pleasantly
you must be by descent a Muslim;
The mark of prostration should be visible on your forehead
and you must follow the Shariat perfectly;
Your beard should come up to the standard
And your trousers should be of proper length.

You must have the same beliefs as the Maulvis
and follow them closely in all matters of religion;
You must dislike their opponents intensely
and sing loud praises of their followers;
If you are not up to this standard you are a religious reprobate
And do not deserve to meet such pious men.

There should be no love between Sunnis and Shias
Nor should the Nomanis and Shafi'is live harmoniously;
The hatred of the Wahabis for the Sufis should grow no less
and the muqallid should ever curse the non-muqallid;
The Muslims should constantly be at war against one another
So that the religion of God is the laughing stock of the world.

If someone intends to make some reforms
regard him as even worse than the devil;
Whoever benefits from such a trouble maker
is thrown away from the path of righteousness;
Both are responsible for meddling with the Shariat
Cursed are they: both student and teacher.

As Hali's verses prove, the religious leaders of that period could not spare the time to pay attention to a new philosophical outlook on Islam. They were far too busy in other activities, like creating rifts among Muslims who turned to the same qibla in prayer. For them it was so absorbing to declare one or the other sect a kafir that they had no time for anything else. So the Muslims were perpetually at one another's throats, whether Hanafi or Wahhabi or any other sect. The Shi 'ahs could not tolerate the Sunnis. The Hanafis and Wahhabis often attacked each other in mosques. Trivial matters like the saying of Amen and the correct pronunciation of 'Dualin' (the last word of Sura Fatiha recited in salat, meaning ‘misguided’), whether it was dualin or zualin, were made the cause for court cases and hooliganism.The late Maulana Nazeer Ahmad of Delhi records such a proceeding in his court. He asked one party who they were, and they said: we are dualin. The other party said: we are zualin. He laughed and said, yes, you are both 'Dualin' !

Thus petty matters like these occupied all the attention of the Muslims of that period. If they had time to spare they would debate on such nonsensical issues as 'is the eating of the crow halal or haraam'. Heated discussions would be held as to whether God was able to lie, could the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) foretell the future etc. They would spend days on end just discussing the order of the proceedings, as to whom would answer and who would have the right to object. Ancient books would be produced for reference, then it would eventually turn into a dinner party and the most lavish dishes were prepared for such events. Of course the results of over indulgence in rich food were usually dangerous so that the opening dialogue would often end in rioting in which the police was called in and the debate was called off. The world would be at peace once again. Instead of presenting rational arguments in these debates, the sentiments of the general public were aroused by touching sensitive issues so that no one would notice the frailty of their arguments. The debate usually came to an end by declaring the other party a kafir and throwing them out of the fold of Islam. This practice had become so common that, according to Maulana Nazeer Ahmad of Delhi, if all the fatwas of the ulema labelling various sects as kafirs were gathered together, there would not be a single Muslim left on the face of the earth. The Shi 'ahs regard the Sunnis as kafirs and vice versa. Similarly, the Hanafis and Wahhabis are convinced that the other party is wrong. When almost every Muslim regards his brother as a kafir then how can we possibly call anyone a Muslim?

Once when Maulana Sadruddin asked Maulvi Kafayatallah, the president of the Jamiat ul-Ulema, why he did not do something to put an end to this practice, his reply was that why on earth should we give it up? It is the only way we have of improving the condition of the Muslims: if we abandon it, what will become of Islam? So what he meant to say was that the solidarity of Islam lies in the practice of declaring the Muslims as kafirs. The spread and safeguard of Islam and its glory can be achieved by no other method than the one prevalent today. These scholars could not lead the people to Islam by proving its merits to them by solid arguments. What they could do, and were doing, was to convert what Muslims there were left to Kufr by labelling them as heretics and driving them out of the brotherhood of Islam!

The late Khawaja Kamaluddin was a great Muslim missionary in England who brought a large number of Englishmen into the fold of Islam, yet he, too, was labelled a kafir because he was an Ahmadi. This impelled Maulana Shibli, a great scholar of that period, to write a poem in which he depicts the thinking of these scholars beautifully. Its translation is given below:

I said to a Maulvi the other day, are you
Aware of the present condition of Europe;
Thousands in London are inclined towards Islam,
Although they are not willing to openly accept it;
Even those who took offence at the mere mention of Islam,
Do not bear much signs of prejudice now;
Alas! But we have amongst us no preachers,
The few we have, are not true believers, as you say
Are there none among you who feel grieved about it;
Are you too, unprepared for such a situation?
'How dare you', thundered he, 'Be so rude?'
And dig up matters not to be pursued,
Day and night we are busy calling people kafirs
It is not as if we were just sitting here idle!

So now we know why our prestigious scholars could not defend Islam from the attack of other religions. They simply had no time; they were too engrossed in their favourite pursuit 'Kafir-calling"or 'kafirization'. They knew that they lacked the knowledge and insight necessary to answer questions and objections set by opponents so they sought the easiest way out. Whenever a Muslim asked them the answer to some questions they would call him irreligious and an accursed kafir and turned him out instead of giving some sort of an answer, which could only serve to expose their own ignorance.

 Next: 2. Religion and philosophy clash again