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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

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Alleged change in definition of ‘prophet’
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Alleged change in definition of ‘prophet’

The following question was received by us. Our esteemed enquirer informed us that he had copied these quotations from an anti-Ahmadiyya website.


In one place Mirza sahib defines the word nabi in Islamic terminology as follows:

“However, in the terminology of Islam, nabi and rasul mean those who bring an entirely new Law (shariah), or those who abrogate some aspects of the previous law, or those who are not called followers of a previous prophet, having a direct connection with God without benefit from a prophet.”

In another place he gives the following definition:

“Receiving word from God, such as contains knowledge of things unknown, and embraces prophecies remarkable in grandeur, the man who communicates this word to mankind, in Islamic terminology, is called a Nabi.” (Lecture entitled Hujjatullah, Alhakm, May 6, 1905)


Regarding your first quotation (from a writing dated August 1899), immediately prior to the words that you quote, he writes as follows regarding the use of the words nabi and rasul about saints in Islam (like himself):

“The words nabi and rasul are figurative and metaphorical. Risalat in the Arabic language is applied to ‘being sent’, and nubuwwat is to expound hidden truths and matters upon receiving knowledge from God.”

So he first explains that these words nabi and rasul apply to recipients of revelation arising among Muslims only in their linguistic sense in Arabic, which is also a metaphorical and figurative use. Then follows the passage you have quoted, in which he deals with the definition of these words in the real sense of Islamic theology.

Regarding your second quotation, the date should be 1908, not 1905. The words you quote can be read in Ruhani Khaza’in, No. 2 (Malfuzat), v. 10, p. 267. Again, the words immediately preceding this quotation are as follows:

“If in this audience anyone is familiar with Hebrew or Arabic he will know that the word nabi is derived from naba’a, and that is applied to giving news. And one who gives news is called nabi.”

Therefore, in your second quote he is only talking about the linguistic meaning of nabi, and saying exactly the same as what he had written in 1899 about the meaning of nabi in the Arabic language.

Let me now quote from a speech he made two weeks after the date of your second quotation above:

“My claim is only that God has sent me because of the evils prevailing at this time, and I cannot hide the fact I have been granted the privilege of communication from God. He speaks to me and speaks frequently. This is called prophethood but it is not real prophethood. Naba’a is an Arabic word meaning news. Now the man who, having received news from God, announces it to people will be called nabi in Arabic. … The Mujaddid of Sirhind writes that those auliya who receive frequent communication from God are called muhaddas and nabi. I ask: if a man, having received news from God, announces it to the world, do you call him anything other than nabi in Arabic? The strange thing is that if the meaning of this word is expressed in Urdu or Punjabi, they [i.e. his opponents] accept it, but if it is presented in Arabic they deny it with hatred.” (Ruhani Khaza’in, No. 2, v. 10, p. 421)

It is plainly stated here that being “granted the privilege of communication from God” does not constitute real prophethood but it is only the linguistic use of the word nabi. Moreover, he refers to the opinion of the famous Hazrat Mujaddid of Sirhind (Mujaddid Alif Sani) to show that the persons who are called nabi because of receiving frequent Divine communications are the auliya in Islam who are also called muhaddas.

I may add that in one of his last books, Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, published 1907, he has clearly given a definition of a real prophet which shows that no prophet can come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He writes:

“If all the books of God the Most High are looked into closely, it will be found that all prophets have been teaching: ‘believe God the Most High to be One without partner and along with it also believe in our risalat’. It was for this reason that the summary of the teachings of Islam was taught to the entire Umma in these two sentences: La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur Rasul-ullah.” (Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, p. 111)

Thus a real prophet in Islam is one who requires people to acknowledge belief in God and belief in his own prophethood as the basis of his teaching. But no such person can arise after the Holy Prophet Muhammad because, as he writes, the entire Muslim Umma, for all time to come, has already been taught “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” as the summary of Islam.

He even writes in the same book that the definition of the name ‘Allah’ means that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was the Last and Final Prophet:

“God the Most High has defined the name Allah in the Holy Quran as follows. Allah is the Being Who is Rabb-ul-‘alamin, Rahman and Rahim, Who created the earth and the heaven in six days, and made Adam, and sent messengers, and sent scriptures, and at the end of all of them sent Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him, who is the Khatam-ul-anbiya and the best of messengers.” (Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, p. 141)

Therefore, the belief of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, till the end of his life, was that according to the definition given by Islam of a real ‘prophet’, and even according to the definition of the name ‘Allah’ in the Quran, the Holy Prophet Muhammad was sent by Allah at the end of all the prophets.

— Zahid Aziz.