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7. Claims of eminent Muslim saints
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The Evidence
Section 7:
Claims of eminent Muslim saints


Translator’s Note:
As Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a Muslim saint, of the highest rank, his writings must be studied in the light of the pronouncements of the great Muslim spiritual figures of classical times who are recognised and revered by the whole Islamic world as men of authority and experience in matters spiritual. The lives and works of many of them have been studied by distinguished Western orientalists. The writings of these popular saints show the kind of language used by them to refer to their own spiritual attainments. This form of expression is accepted as standard in describing spiritual experiences and states. It is never taken literally, nor are those who use such terms condemned as imposters. On the contrary, they occupy the highest positions of distinction in the history of the Muslim faith. This Section gives extracts, some of which are quite well-known, from the writings and sayings of many such renowned saints to illustrate the terms in which they described their claims.

If the claims of Hazrat Mirza are judged by these established standards, no objection whatever arises against his statements, nor do they cause any shock or offence. In fact, his writings are of a much milder tone than the pronouncements of earlier Muslim saints, and he has explained all these terms in such a detailed and unambiguous manner as to clarify not only his own expressions but those of the previous saints as well.

The Muslim nation is agreed that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the Khatam an-nabiyyin, the Last Prophet, after whom no prophet can come, whether new or old. This was the belief of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and after him this is the belief held by members of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore. Before the Holy Prophet Muhammad there existed the system of prophets being sent in order to forge the relation of man with God and to safeguard the Divine teachings. But when prophethood came to a close with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, there could not arise any prophet after him. Therefore, according to the Holy Quran and Hadith, in place of the prophets there would arise saints (wali) and muhaddases (non-prophets receiving God’s revelation) to put man in touch with God. And to safeguard the faith and the Book of God, there would come successors to the Holy Prophet (khalifa) and reformers of religion (mujaddid) after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The ‘successorship’ verse of the Holy Quran (24:55) testifies to this fact, and the same thing has been stated by the Holy Prophet in the words:

“Surely God will raise for this nation [i.e. Muslims], at the head of every century a person who will renew the religion [i.e. mujaddid or reformer].”

(Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab ul-Malahim)

Thus, in accordance with this Saying, just as there arose reformers for the Shari‘ah (the formal side of the teachings of Islam) in every century, so did there arise reformers for the Tariqat (the spiritual side of Islam) in one century or another. This is borne out by history and actual events.

In accordance with this Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, at the head of the fourteenth century of the Muslim calendar (which ran from 1883 to 1979 C.E.), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced:

“This humble servant is the reformer [mujaddid] of both the Shari‘ah and the Tariqat.”
Being the reformer of Tariqat as well, he, like the previous reformers and Sufis, not only used the standard terminology of Tariqat and Tasawwuf (Sufi-ism) in his books, but also discussed at length the most intricate points and delicate secrets of these spiritual sciences, in order that the students and devotees of Tariqat also benefit from his work of reform. But the hollow scholars of the Shari‘ah and the half-baked Sufis could not fathom these secrets of Divine Knowledge, and rose to oppose and persecute Hazrat Mirza. There was no allegation they did not level against him, and no pain and suffering they did not cause him and his followers. Had they understood these fine points and subtle secrets of spirituality, they would not have engaged in this opposition. If they had gone through the Holy Quran, the Hadith, and some work of the classical religious authorities, they would not have found it difficult to comprehend these deeper issues of the Shari‘ah and Tariqat.

When we read the books and the sayings of Sufi saints and elders of Islam of old, it is discovered that some of them referred to themselves as Mary, some as son of Mary, some as Abraham, some as Moses, some as Muhammad and Ahmad (peace be upon him), etc. There have been those who called themselves prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul), and those who asked their disciples to use their name in the Kalima, the Islamic formula of faith. We also see that all the terms of Tasawwuf such as fana fir-rasul, zill, burooz, etc. which Hazrat Mirza has used in his books, have been coined by the Sufis of earlier times. None of these terms — by which the saints are referred to as “metaphorical” prophets or “images” of prophets, etc. — were devised by Hazrat Mirza. This evidence of facts cannot be denied.

Below we take a look at the sayings and reports of those Sufi saints and religious elders of earlier times whose impeccability, reputation and authority are recognised by Muslims all over the world. If Hazrat Mirza’s explanations of the truths of Tariqat are studied in the light of these sayings, there remains no difficulty in understanding these terms of Tasawwuf.

1. Hazrat Ali (d. 661 C.E.)

The fourth Caliph, one of the most revered figures in Islam, said:
“I am the dot under the letter b of Bismilla [Bismilla — ‘In the name of God’ — a well-known Muslim expression, begins with the letter b which in Arabic has a dot under it]. I am that aspect of God about which you have been indifferent. I am the Pen, I am the Guarded Tablet, I am the Throne, I am the Chair, I am the seven heavens and the earths.”

(Preface to Sharh Fusoos al-Hukm, Section 8, p. 32, by Shaikh Dawud ibn Mahmud al-Qaisari)

The expressions referred to, e.g. ‘pen’ (qalm), ‘Guarded Tablet’ (luh), etc., are all used in the Holy Quran, denoting God’s attributes such as His power and knowledge.

2. Imam Ja‘far Sadiq (d. 765 C.E.)

A great-grandson of Hazrat Imam Husain, and the sixth Imam of the Shiahs, said:
“We are the prayer that is mentioned in the Book of God. We are the charity, we are the fasting, we are the Pilgrimage, we are the sacred months, we are the holy land, we are the Ka‘ba [central mosque of Muslim world in Makka], we are the qibla [direction faced when praying], we are the ‘face’ of God, we are the signs and we are the clear signs.”

(Kitab Mazhar al-‘Ajai’b fin-Nakt wal-Ghara’ib, published 1350 A.H.)

All the terms used here, such as sacred months, qibla, signs, etc. are taken from the Holy Quran.

3. Abu Yazid Bustami (d. 874 C.E.)

The following is recorded about this early Persian saint:
  1. “He said: People think that I am person like them, but if they were to see my attributes in the spiritual world they would die. I am like the river the depth of which is unknown, and so is its source and end.

    “A man asked him, What is the ‘arsh [throne of God]. He said, I am that. He asked, What is the Kursi [lit. chair, or knowledge of God]. He replied, I am that. People said that there had been many righteous servants of God, such as Abraham, Moses and the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He said, I am all of them. They then asked about the angels Gabriel, Michael, Israfeel and Izraeel. He said, I am all of them as well. The questioner was silent. Abu Yazid added: If a man be totally lost in God, since God is everything he will see in himself everything.”

    (Tazkirat al-Auliya or Memoirs of the Saints, Urdu edition, ch. 14, p. 146)

  2. “It was put to him that on the Day of Judgment, everyone would be gathered under the banner of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He replied:

    “By God! my banner will rise higher than the Holy Prophet’s banner. All people and prophets will be gathered under it. There is no like of me in heaven, nor anyone of my attributes on earth. My attributes are hidden in the Unseen [God]. How can such a one be a man? Nay, he is the tongue of Truth [God], and the speaker is the Truth [God] Himself. ‘From Me he speaks, from Me he hears, from Me he sees.’ Therefore, it is God Who speaks through the tongue of Abu Yazid. He it is Who has said: My banner is higher than the banner of Muhammad, peace be upon him. For the flag of God is much higher than the flag of the Holy Prophet. Since you allow that the words ‘I am surely God’ can come from a tree, you should also allow that the words ‘My banner is higher than that of Muhammad’ and ‘Glory be to Me, how great is My dignity’ should issue forth from the tree of the mind of Abu Yazid.”

    (ibid., p. 151)

    (Note: The reference in the words “From Me he speaks ...” is to a hadith according to which God has said: “When I love a man, I am the Hearing with which he hears, I am the Sight with which he sees, I am the Hands with which he holds, and I am the Feet with which he walks” — Bukhari 81:38. The reference to the words “I am surely God” coming from a tree is to the well-known incident of Moses hearing the voice saying “I am surely God, the Lord of the worlds” coming from a bush or tree, as recorded in the Quran, 28:30. Abu Yazid here explains that just as that voice was not the voice of the tree itself, but God speaking through it, similarly his pronouncement was really the voice of God.)

  3. Jalal-ud-Din Rumi, world-renowned mystical poet of Persia, sings of Abu Yazid:
    “That glorious dervish Abu Yazid came to his disciples and said ‘I am God,’
    “This perfect spiritual leader, in the state of spiritual intoxication, declared there is no God but me, so serve me,
    “In other words, in my robe there is none but God, so how long will you search for Him in heaven and earth.”

    (Miftah al-‘Ulum, pp. 25, 36, vol. 12, section 4, Part II)

4. Abu Bakr Shibli (d. 945 C.E.)

It is recorded of this famous Iraqi saint:
  1. “Shaikh Shibli asked his student: Do you bear witness that I am Muhammad, the Messenger of God? The student bore witness to it.”

    (Saif ar-Rabbani, p. 100)

  2. “Have you not considered this, that when the Holy Prophet Muhammad appeared in the form of Shibli, he [Shibli] said to a student of his who was a recipient of visions: Bear witness that I am the Messenger of God. So the student said: I bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of God. This is not something unlawful and wrong. It is just as a sleeping man [in a dream] sees one person in the form of another. And a low-ranking type of vision is one where what a person sees in a dream he sees while awake.”

    (Al-Insan al-Kamil, vol. ii, p. 46, by Abdul Qadir Jilli. See also the Urdu translation by Maulavi Fazal Miran, published by Nafees Academy, Karachi, 4th ed., 1980, pp. 388, 389. See also the English translation in R. A. Nicholson’s Studies in Mysticism, Cambridge University Press, 1980, p. 105)

  3. “Two men went to enter into the discipleship of Abu Bakr Shibli. He said to one of them: Say, ‘There is no God but Allah, and Shibli is His Messenger’. The man uttered the expression of la haul wa la [somewhat equivalent to God forbid!]. Shibli did the same. The man asked him why he had uttered la haul. Shibli asked him why he had done it. The man said, I uttered it because I had come to become the disciple of such a violator of the religion. Shibli replied: I uttered it because I divulged such a subtle secret to an ignorant man. He then called the second man and asked him to repeat: ‘There is no God but Allah, and Shibli is His Messenger’. He said: I had thought that you were of a high rank, but you are content merely with messengership of God. Shibli laughed and said: I will teach you.

    “So each person’s comprehension and understanding is different. It was the same point which one man could not take in, and he rejected it, while the other had superior understanding. Shibli had not meant what the outward-looking man had thought. The fact is that the person who is the teacher, guide and mentor, is the Messenger for the student and performs the function of the Divine Messenger.”

    (Tazkira Ghausiyya, by Maulana Shah Gul Hasan, p. 315, and Miftah al-‘Ashiqeen, p. 16)

5. Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani (d. 1166 C.E.)

He is a world-renowned Iraqi saint, of household fame in the Muslim world today.
  1. The following spiritual experience was related by him:

    “God gave me the blessing of attending at Madina. One day I was busy in the remembrance of God in solitude when He took me from this world and from my own self, and then returned me. And I was saying: ‘Had Moses been alive he would have obeyed me’. This was as if I was the author [of the Saying], and not as relating this Saying. So I knew that this was due to me being drawn away by God. I was effaced [fana] in the Holy Prophet, and at that time I was not just so-and-so [i.e. Abdul Qadir], but I was certainly Muhammad. Otherwise, what I had said would merely have been relating something from the Holy Prophet.”

    (Saif ar-Rabbani by Sayyid Muhammad Makki, published in Bombay, p. 100)

    The words ‘Had Moses been alive he would have obeyed me’ are a Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

  2. He writes in a poem:

    “I was in the higher world with the light of Muhammad, In God’s secret knowledge was my prophethood.”

    (From poem known as Qasida Ruhi)

  3. “Prophethood in its outward sense has gone, but in terms of its essence it will continue till the Day of Judgment. Otherwise, why should there always be forty saints on the earth? Aspects of prophethood are to be found in some of them, whose hearts are like those of prophets. From among them are khalifas of God and of His messengers on earth.”

    (Faiz Subhani, Sayings of Abdul Qadir Jilani, published in Delhi, p. 122)

  4. “Pity be on you! You run away from me, while I am your guard. My house offers you protection, otherwise you would be destroyed. O ignorant one! first perform the pilgrimage to me and then perform the pilgrimage to the House of God. I am the door to the Ka‘ba [central Muslim mosque in Makka], come to me and I will show you how to perform the pilgrimage.”

    (Wa‘z Mahboob Subhani, p. 235, Urdu translation of Fath ar-Rabbani wal-faiz ar-Rahmani)

  5. “Sainthood is the zill [reflection or image] of prophethood, and prophethood is the zill of Divinity.”

    (Bihjat al-Israr, p. 83)

  6. The following is part of a poem by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani:
    “Though your rank is high, but mine will ever be higher than yours,
    “I am a falcon for every spiritual guide and my flight is high, is there any other man granted the like of me,
    “God informed me of an ancient secret, and gave me all that I asked,
    “He made me head of all the saints, my order is in force every moment,
    “If I reveal my secret to the oceans they would all become dry,
    “If I manifest my secret to the mountain, it would crumble and be as sand,
    “If I show my secret to the dead, it would rise to life by the power of God,
    “If I reveal my secret to fire, it would cool down and be put out,
    “The passing of months and years is not without my command, they come to me first and then pass,
    “They inform me of all the news of the world, so you should stop your arguments and debates with me,
    “All the lands of God are under my authority, and my time has been cleaned for me before my heart,
    “When I looked at all the lands of God, they amounted to but a grain,
    “So who among the saints is like me, who can compete with me in knowledge and power,
    “Every saint is in the footsteps of some prophet, I am in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet, the perfect moon.”

    (From poem known as Qasida Ghausiyya)

  7. “I am much beyond your intellects. So do not measure me by anyone, nor measure anyone by me.”

    (Futuh al-Ghaib, p. 22)

  8. “People have their spiritual guides [Shaikh], the Jinn have their spiritual guides, and the angels have their spiritual guides. But I am the spiritual guide for them all.”

    (Bihjat al-Israr, p. 23)

  9. “God reveals wonderful types of knowledge to the heart of the great man. He discloses to him such secrets as He conceals from others. He honours him, draws him to Himself, guides him to the doors of His nearness, and opens his heart for the acceptance of knowledge and secrets. He makes him His warner to the people and a sign of God among them. He makes him a guide as well as the guided one [mahdi]. He makes him an intercessor with God as well as one whose intercession is accepted. He makes him one of the truthful ones and the saints, who are the substitutes for prophets and messengers.”

    (Futuh al-Ghaib, discourse no. 33)

6. Farid-ud-Din Attar (d. 1220 C.E.)

He was the author of Mantaq al-Tair and Tazkirat al-Auliya, which have been translated into English by British orientalists. In a poetic verse, he says:
“I am free from spite, arrogance and greed,
“I am God, I am God, I am God.”

(Fawa’id Faridiyya, translation, p. 85)

7. Shaikh Shahab-ud-Din Suharwardy (d. 1234 C.E.)

Founder of one of the four chief Sufi orders, he wrote:
“No other prophet could share with the Holy Prophet Muhammad his rank of mahmood [or eminence, mentioned in the Holy Quran 17:79]. But saints from among his followers can share this rank.”

(Hadiyya Mujaddidiyya, p. 70)

8. Shaikh Muhiyud-Din Ibn Arabi (d. 1240 C.E.)

This renowned saint, known as the ‘great spiritual leader’, wrote:
  1. “I am the Quran and the Fatiha [opening chapter of the Quran],
    “I am the spirit of the spirit, not the spirit of vessels.”

    (Fatuhat Makkiyya, Part I, p. 1)

  2. “And as it happened with our spiritual guide when people said to him, You are Jesus, son of Mary, so cure this man.”

    (ibid., vol. i, p. 199)

9. Shams-ud-Din of Tabriz (d. 1248 C.E.)

This Persian saint, who was a great influence on Rumi, wrote the following verses:
“I am the spirit that was breathed into Mary, I am the soul that was the life of Jesus,
“I know that there is none but me, I am within life and outside this world,
“Shibli and Mansur [two saints] prostrate before me, that is to say, I am in between these and those,
“I was with Noah in the ark and with Joseph in the well, I was in the breath of Jesus, I am the old lover,
“When the accursed Pharoah was being drowned, I was in the party of Moses, I am the old lover,
“When Adam was not, I was; when the world was not, I was; life was not, but I was; I am the old lover.”

(Kuliyyat Shams Tabrizi, pages 292 and 508)

10. Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (d. 1273 C.E.)

This world-famous author of Masnawi, whose works have been translated into English, and whose poetry is widely studied and quoted in India, Pakistan and Iran, wrote the following lines:
  1. “Don’t give your hand into anyone’s but that of the perfect spiritual guide, for his hand is the Truth so take hold of it,
    “When you give your hand into his hand, you will be saved from the wild beasts.
    “Then your hand will be like that of those [Companions of the Holy Prophet] who took the pledge,
    “So that ‘the hand of God was over their hands’,
    “When you give your hand into the hand of your spiritual guide, because he well knows the religion of Islam,
    “For, O disciple! he is the prophet of his time, for the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s light is manifested through him.”

    (Miftah al-‘Ulum, a commentary on the Masnawi, Quraishi Book Agency, Lahore, vol. 13, p. 152)

  2. “In the path of virtue be anxious to serve humanity, so that you may attain prophethood within the Muslim nation.” (ibid., p. 98)
    “I am Jesus, but he who is raised to life by my breath will live forever,
    “The dead raised by Jesus died again, fortunate is he who gives himself up to this Jesus.”

    (ibid., vol. 7, p. 45)

  3. “If the veil be lifted from souls, each one would cry I am Jesus.”

    (ibid., vol. 2, p. 247)

  4. “Whether the word of God comes from behind a veil or otherwise, He grants that thing with which He blessed Mary.”

    (ibid., vol. 1, p. 11)

    (The reference here is to revelation from God, which was given to Mary too. “From behind the veil” refers to the verse of the Quran, discussed in Section 4, which mentions the three modes of revelation.)

  5. “O people, I am Noah’s ark in this river; Don’t turn away from this boat.” (ibid., vol. 12, p. 268)
  6. “Consider every saint to be Noah and the ship’s master, and consider the company of the people of this world to be the flood.”

    (ibid., vol. 12, p. 122)

  7. “Remember that the saints are the Israfeel [name of angel who raises the dead to life] of the age. Through them the dead hearts receive life and upbringing.”

    (ibid., vol. 1, p. 10)

  8. “The saints are the children of God, they know this while in absence or presence,
    “He who aspires to reach God, let him sit in the company of saints,
    “If you are far removed from the company of saints, You are really far removed from God.”
The sayings and claims reproduced above are from those great leaders of Islamic thought, and saints of impeccable repute, whose piety, righteousness and devotion to the Holy Prophet Muhammad have been widely recognised by the Muslim world in every age. No Muslim of learning can doubt their saintliness and their close ties with God. If the opponents of the Ahmadiyya Movement would study, in the light of the writings of these saints, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s explanations of the fine and intricate points of Sufi-ism and the issues arising in Tariqat, they would not have the least doubt about his truthfulness.

Statements of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad about the Sufi Saints

  1. “Of all the leaders of Tasawwuf that there have been till the present day, not even one has disagreed with the point that in this religion the path to become the likes of prophets is open, as the Holy Prophet Muhammad has given the glad tidings for spiritual and godly learned persons that ‘the Ulama of my nation are like the Israelite Prophets’. The words of Abu Yazid Bustami given below, which are recorded in Tazkirat al-Auliya by Farid-ud-Din Attar, and are also found in other reliable works, are on this basis, as he says: ‘I am Adam, I am Seth, I am Noah, I am Abraham, I am Moses, I am Jesus, I am Muhammad, peace be upon him and upon all these brothers of his’.” (Izala Auham, pp. 258 – 259)
  2. “We can prove to every seeker-after-truth, conclusively and definitely, that from the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad till the present day there have been, in every century, godly persons through whom God has shown heavenly signs to other communities to guide them [towards Islam]. There have been in Islam persons such as Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani, Abul Hasan Khartani, Abu Yazid Bustami, Junaid of Baghdad, Muhiyud-Din Ibn Arabi, Zul-Noon of Egypt, Mu‘in-ud-Din Chishti, Qutub-ud-Din Bukhtiar, Farid-ud-Din of Pak Patan, Nizam-ud-Din of Delhi, Shah Wali-ullah of Delhi, and Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind. The number of such persons runs into thousands, and the miracles of so many people are recorded in scholarly and learned works that even a prejudiced opponent, despite his great bias, has to concede finally that these persons showed miracles and extraordinary signs.” (Kitab al-Bariyya, p. 67)

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