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Status and glory of the Holy Quran
in the view of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

compiled by Zahid Aziz

(Taken from The Light & Islamic Review: Vol. 71; No. 5; Sep-Oct 1994)

One of the greatest achievements of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in his capacity as Mujaddid and Reviver of the original teachings of Islam, is that he restored the Holy Quran to the proper place which it should occupy in the thinking and the lives of the Muslims. There is no doubt that the Muslims of his time held the Quran in high reverence, considered it to be a source of great blessings, and believed it to be miraculous, as Muslims have always done. But this view of theirs was just verbal profession, and the reverence shown towards the Quran was merely a ritual. They could not show what blessings the Quran possessed and how a person could receive them, or how the miraculous nature of the Quran could be seen today.

Position of Quran in Muslim view / Result of neglecting the Quran / Mujaddid raised to uphold the Quran / Shows the true miracle of the Quran / Perfection of Quran / Quran itself gives all its claims and arguments / Opening door of further knowledge / Quran came for the whole world / Diversity of tongues and colours of humanity / Quran to be given precedence over everything /
Position of Quran in Muslim view

Among the general Muslim public, the purposes for which the Quran was used was to recite it, especially on certain occasions of joy or mourning, for its blessings without understanding at all what it meant. No attempt was made nor any interest shown in trying to understand its meaning. Muslim religious leaders held that it was against Islam to translate the original word of God from Arabic into another language. Before Marmaduke Pickthall translated the Quran into English in the late 1920s, he obtained a religious ruling from the Egyptian Ulama declaring it allowable to translate the Quran. Lack of translation of the Quran, and indeed lack of realizing the need for it, was one reason why the general Muslim public considered that the blessings of the Quran were obtained just through recitation.

As to the religious leaders and scholars, who were learned in Arabic and could understand the meanings of the Quran, they looked upon the commentaries of the Quran which had been written centuries earlier as the final and correct expositions of its meanings. In fact, what they studied and learnt was not the Quran itself but its commentaries. Now these books reflected the thinking and the knowledge of the times when they were written. In explaining the Quran they referred to the sciences, astronomy, geography etc., as known at the time of writing, and many of those things seemed irrelevant and even ridiculous now. Moreover, these books quite obviously did not deal with the questions and doubts about religion which have arisen in modern times, and could not answer the heavy, wide-ranging criticism of Islam from many sides which began in the modern period.

Result of neglecting the Quran

The Holy Quran was therefore a closed book to the Muslims, and as a result of this neglect they were facing the worst internal and external crisis of their whole history. Internally, their condition was most decadent. The great moral qualities taught by the Quran were unknown to them, or if known there was no urge in their hearts to acquire them. Externally, they could not meet the attacks upon the teachings of Islam, and as a result they suffered loss of faith and degradation.

Mujaddid raised to uphold the Quran

At this time, God raised a Mujaddid among the Muslims, in accordance with His promise in the Quran given in the following words: "Surely We have revealed the Reminder [the Quran] and We are ever its Guardian" (15:9). It is generally thought that this verse refers to the text of the Quran being guarded by God against any change, loss or corruption, but it is in fact all-comprehensive. The true meanings, purpose and function of the Quran are also Divinely-guarded. Some eminent Muslim thinkers and religious leaders prior to the time of Hazrat Mirza had also written that the coming of mujaddids is promised in this verse of the Quran. The Quran was, on the one hand, being utterly neglected by the Muslims, and on the other hand, under attack by outsiders. For its defence and progress, Allah raised Hazrat Mirza as the Mujaddid, and he told Muslims, especially his followers: 

"Don't leave the Quran neglected because your very life lies in it. ... Read the Quran with understanding, and love it very greatly. Love it as you have not loved anything else because God has informed me that all types of good is in the Quran. Pity be on those people who give precedence to something else over it. The source of all your success and salvation lies in the Quran. There is no spiritual need of yours which is not provided in the Quran. ... God has done you an immense favour by giving you a book like the Quran, ... so value the blessing given to you." (Kishti-i Nuh)

Shows the true miracle of the Quran

His own life was a perfect example of this teaching. He wrote book after book, to present the religion of Islam, to answer the modern doubts and questions about religion, to reply to objections against Islam, and to refute false beliefs. In all these writings you can see how he brings out treasures of knowledge from the Holy Quran. He writes: 

"Know that the clear miracle of the Holy Quran which can be displayed to a person of any nation, speaking any language, and by which we can silence a man of any country, whether he is an Indian, Persian, European, American, or of any other country, is that the knowledge and the truths contained in the Quran are unlimited, and are disclosed in every age according to the needs of that age. They stand like armed soldiers to combat the philosophies of every age. If the Holy Quran had been a limited thing in terms of the truths contained in it, it could not possibly be a perfect miracle. Eloquence of language by itself is not a quality whose miraculous nature can be appreciated by everyone, whether learned or uneducated. ...

"Whatever doubts arise in any new age, with the new conditions in it, and whatever excellent knowledge any new age may claim to have discovered, the Holy Quran contains a complete refutation and criticism of it and can compete with it fully. No person of any religion or follower of any philosophy can show a spiritual truth which is not contained in the Quran. The wonders of the Holy Quran can never come to an end, just as the wonders of nature did not come to an end in some previous age, but ever newer ones are constantly appearing. The same is true of this holy scripture." (Izala Auham, pp. 305-311)

Muslims of course have always believed the Quran to be a miracle, as the Quran itself issues the challenge to those who think that it is not from God, but is the word of a mortal, to try to produce a book like it. But as to what makes it miraculous, it had been generally thought that it meant just the eloquence of its language, and that the Holy Prophet's Arab opponents, despite having in their midst great masters of the Arabic language, were unable to produce a composition matching its eloquence. Indeed, some Muslims have even held that the miracle of the Quran was that no human being living in the circumstances and the country and the time of the Holy Prophet could produce a book like the Quran, and that the challenge of the Quran was only meant for the Arabs of the time. But Hazrat Mirza sahib believed fervently that no human being of any country and living in any time and any circumstances can produce a book like the Quran.

The miracle of the Quran which he has mentioned here, that it contains unlimited truths and knowledge which can meet the needs of any age, was actually demonstrated in practice by Hazrat Mirza sahib. He brought forth arguments from the Quran to reply to modern rationalism and materialism, and to refute certain doctrines of other religions such as Christianity and Hinduism. The Holy Prophet Muhammad would have had no knowledge of many of these beliefs and philosophies, which came into existence after him or which were not known in the land where he lived, and yet the Quran discusses and corrects these ideas.

Perfection of Quran

According to Hazrat Mirza, the Holy Quran is the perfect and ever-living scripture. It presents a Divine Being with perfect attributes. If you look at the concept of God in other faiths, you find some weakness or imperfection attributed to God. According to Christian beliefs, God appeared in the world as a helpless mortal with human needs. The Quran tells us that God has created human beings and their needs, so how could He ever be subject to those needs Himself ? According to certain Hindu beliefs, God and matter exist side by side eternally. God did not and cannot create anything from nothing, but can only change matter from one form to another. Arguing against these beliefs, Hazrat Mirza asserted strongly that God can and does create out of nothing. The known science of that time supported the position that matter could not be created or destroyed. But the first blow to this view came at that very time, in the 1890s, when it was discovered in modern physics that matter was interchangeable with energy, and in that sense it could be created from energy or destroyed to release energy. It is also believed now that creation may still be going on. Therefore the imperfection attributed to God, that He cannot create, has to some extent been shown to be wrong by science itself. Hazrat Mirza writes: 

"The fact is that except the Quran there is no book at present on the face of the earth, believed to be revealed, which considers God to possess all the perfect attributes and to be free from every shortcoming and defect." (Chashma Ma'rifa, pp. 107-108)

Quran itself gives all its claims and arguments

Another unique characteristic of the Quran much stressed by Hazrat Mirza is that it puts forward all its own claims and supports them by arguments provided by itself. It does not leave it up to its followers to make claims on its behalf nor does it just make claims and rely on its followers to provide arguments and proofs for them. This has been put forward as a criterion of a scripture which claims to be revealed by God. This principle may sound very obvious, but it is when it is applied to the scriptures of the world that one discovers that the beliefs and claims of various religions have not been put forward by their scriptures, and where they have been they are not supported by any arguments provided in those scriptures.

Again, being a man of practical demonstration, Hazrat Mirza provided evidence of this. In his very first book, Barahin Ahmadiyya, which he wrote on the truth of Islam, he says: "all the arguments and evidence we have adduced ... has been gathered from the Holy Quran; we have reiterated the same claim which the Holy Book has itself made, and reproduced the same arguments and proofs which it has advanced in proof of that claim; we have neither offered any argument from our own mind nor made any claim not contained in the holy book." And he asked advocates of other faiths to abide by the same principle, again I quote him: "they should adduce and advance only that claim and the arguments attending upon it which exist actually in their sacred books." Surely this would enable a fair comparison to be made of the revealed scriptures.

In a famous lecture which he wrote for a multi-religious conference, which has been widely published in book form as The Teachings of Islam, he states at the very outset that he would himself abide by the rule, and expect other speakers to do so as well, that all their claims and arguments must be presented from their acknowledged scriptures, so that each speaker advocates what his revealed book teaches. What is more, this very rule that each spokesman must argue on the basis of his scripture, is itself put forward by the Quran. It says: "Then bring your book if you are truthful" (37:157).

Opening door of further knowledge

These two principles, firstly that the knowledge of the Quran is limitless and is disclosed in every age in accordance with the needs of that age, and secondly that all claims and arguments should be presented from the Quran, opens for us the way to study the Quran and bring forth from it ever newer knowledge. So Hazrat Mirza has not only given us the correct interpretation of the Quran in many matters, but has also shown us the way of constantly increasing our knowledge. If he had only done the first thing, that is, give the correct meanings of certain parts of the Quran, then after we had understood and accepted those meanings our progress would have come to an end. But by teaching these two principles he has encouraged us to look for more treasures in the Quran ourselves.

Quran came for the whole world

Another characteristic of the Holy Quran emphasised by Hazrat Mirza is that it came for the whole world. He writes: 

"God sent for all the countries one book, and commanded therein that as this book reaches various countries in different ages it shall be obligatory on those people to accept it and believe in it. It is the Holy Quran which is the book that has come to join together all the countries. Each of the books before the Quran were limited to one nation, ... and had nothing to do with any other nation. But the Holy Quran which came after them all is an international book, and is not for a particular people but for all the nations. The Quran came for a group of beings who were going to become a single nation eventually. So in the present age those resources have come into existence which are making the various nations into one. Meeting one another, which is the real basis of becoming one nation, has become so easy that journeys which were many years in length now take only days. Such means of communication have come into existence that news from a distant country which could not take less than a year to arrive, now reaches in an instant. ... This clearly shows that God Almighty now intends to make into one nation all the nations spread over the earth." (Chashma-i Ma'rifa, pp. 67-68)

So humankind will become one nation through the Holy Quran. And if we look at a few of its teachings we find that it is unique among world scriptures in addressing all human beings on earth and treating them as equal.

  1. The Quran opens with the words: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. The worlds means all the worlds, and in the context of human beings it means all the nations on earth.
  2. The very first command in the Quran is addressed to all human beings: "O human beings, serve your Lord Who created you and those before you, so that you may guard against evil, Who made the earth a floor for you and the heaven a canopy" (2:21-22). The Quran is here calling all human beings to serve the Lord, and it tells them that they are, as it were, all living in one house with the same ground under their feet and the same sky above them. They can only stop fighting and bickering with each other when they realize that they have one and the same Lord Who provides for them equally.
  3. The Quran also teaches that the diversity of colours, races and languages among human beings is not something which makes one group superior to others, but is something beneficial and a sign of God's wisdom: 
    "Of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and colours. Surely there are signs in this for those who possess knowledge." (30:22)

Diversity of tongues and colours of humanity

Only those who study and acquire knowledge can see that this diversity of languages and colours has deep wisdom and purpose behind it. Each language has its own special characteristics, expressions and sounds which developed to meet the needs of those who speak that language. We gain much more knowledge due to the diversity of languages -- and there are thousands of languages on earth -- than we would have gained if there was only one language in the world. Another sign in this diversity is that languages also have much in common. Some linguists say that the basic structure of language is built into the human brain, and that man has developed and evolved languages in accordance with the structure which was already present in his mind.

Then there is the diversity of colours. Those who study the relevant fields of science know that skin colour serves very useful purposes in nature, and there are important reasons why different races are of different colours. It is a sign of deep Divine wisdom in the way that nature works. According to this verse, the learned people find signs of God in the diversity of languages and colours of mankind. But those who are ignorant think that a particular language or colour of skin bestows superiority or inferiority on a person or nation.

The Quran therefore seeks to unite all sections of mankind by telling them that these natural differences must not be made a cause for conflict but rather studied to gain knowledge about how this diversity is beneficial and indeed essential for human beings.

Quran to be given precedence over everything

Finally, much of the great reform work done by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is based on the principle he taught and revived, that in order to understand Islam correctly the Quran should be given precedence over all other sources such as Hadith reports or books of Islamic law and theology. Many misconceptions among Muslims, such as those regarding the meaning of jihad, extent of freedom of religion given by Islam, some aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet, arose because the clear text of the Quran, the word of God, was either just ignored or made subject to reports and stories contained in other Islamic sources which are the words of mortals. Jesus also found the Jewish religious leaders doing the same, following their man-made interpretations and traditions in preference to the revelation of God. He said to their scholars of religion:

"For the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God." (Matthew 15:6)

Similarly, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Messiah who appeared among the Muslims told them: 

"Those who honour the Quran shall receive honour in heaven. Those who give precedence to the Quran over every hadith report and every other saying, they shall be given precedence in heaven. There is now no book for the guidance of mankind on earth except the Quran." (Kishti-i Nuh.)