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Pre-Split beliefs in the Ahmadiyya Movement

Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote before the Split that the Promised Messiah did not claim to be a prophet in Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala
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Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote before the Split that the Promised Messiah did not claim to be a prophet in Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala

It is alleged that, before the Split in the Ahmadiyya Movement in March 1914, Maulana Muhammad Ali believed Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be a prophet, and that it was only after he failed to become khalifa on the death of Maulana Nur-ud-Din on 13th March that he started to change this belief and developed the idea that the Promised Messiah had not claimed to be a prophet.

Among the many arguments which show this allegation to be false, one very clear evidence is an article by Maulana Muhammad Ali published in Paigham Sulh in its issue dated 10th March 1914 which appeared on the front page. This issue obviously pre-dates the death of Maulana Nur-ud-Din by a few days, and therefore the article published in it was written before the Split.

See at this link the image of that front page as a pdf file.

Below we translate the article.

The article is entitled Hazrat Mirza sahib’s Claim to Prophethood and it begins as follows:

“Ever since Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib claimed to be Promised Messiah, there is perhaps no other point on which people have stumbled as much as on this point, to think that he claimed prophethood. It is curious that the words nabi and rasul are present in those revelations of the Promised Messiah which date from long before Barahin Ahmadiyya and were published in this book, yet despite this when in those very days Maulvi Muhammad Husain Batalvi published a review on these revelations, no objection was raised. The only reason for this [lack of objection] was that the mere occurrence of these words in revelations was not objectionable.

The reason why these words are now brought under discussion is his claim to be Messiah and Mahdi. Accordingly, we see that as soon as he made this claim, controversy started on these words, and since then till now even many sensible and intelligent people have stumbled on it. A respected friend, whose name I will not mention, has made the same error, or at least this is how it appears from a reply he gave to a question from someone, that he considers that Hazrat Mirza sahib actually claimed nubuwwat and risalat in the real sense of these words. The Promised Messiah himself had to clarify this issue again and again, in the same way as he clarified the issue of the death of Jesus. Hence, it is seen from his early writings after claiming to be Promised Messiah how far he found it necessary to clarify this issue. Nonetheless, the objections continued, and this is why there are so many writings of his to be found on this issue, a fact which no one can deny.

As an example, I copy here a statement from Anjam Atham which was written seven or eight years after he claimed to be Messiah. In the footnote on page 26 of this book, he first quotes someone’s objection as follows:

“The followers and the opponents of Mirza sahib have gone to opposite extremes. If a man says that he believes in the Holy Quran, says prayers, keeps fasts and teaches Islam to people, then it is not befitting to call him kafir. However, it is also not befitting to raise him from the rank of a scholar to that of prophethood.”

He has replied to this in the words which I quote below in full, even though it is very lengthy.”

The quotation from Anjam Atham by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, given at this point by Maulana Muhammad Ali, is translated below:

“There is a contradiction in his statement. On the one hand he says very kindly that it is wrong to call a Muslim as kafir, and on the other he says about me that my followers really believe me to be a messenger of Allah and that I have claimed prophethood in fact. If his first view is right, that I am a Muslim and believe in the Holy Quran, then this second view is wrong in which he says that I myself claim prophethood. And if his second view is right, then the first is wrong in which he says that I am a Muslim and believe in the Holy Quran. Can a wretched imposter who claims messengership and prophethood for himself have any belief in the Holy Quran? And can a man who believes in the Holy Quran, and believes the verse ‘He is the Messenger of Allah and the Khatam an-nabiyyin’ to be the word of God, say that he too is a messenger and prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammad?

Insaf Talb [pen name of the objector] should remember that I have never, at any time, made a claim of nubuwwat or risalat [prophethood or messengership] in the real sense. To use a word in a non-real sense, and to employ it in speech according to its broad, root meaning, does not imply heresy (kufr). However, I do not like even this much, for there is the possibility that ordinary Muslims may misunderstand it.

However, by virtue of being appointed by God, I cannot conceal those revelations I have received from Him in which the words nubuwwat and risalat occur quite frequently. But I say repeatedly that, in these revelations, the word mursal or rasul or nabi which has occurred about me is not used in its real sense. (Author’s Footnote: Such words have not occurred only now, but have been present in my published revelations for sixteen years. So you will find many such revelations about me in the book Barahin Ahmadiyya.) The actual fact, to which I testify with the highest testimony, is that our Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, is the Khatam al-anbiya and after him no prophet is to come, neither an old one nor a new one.

Whoever says that he is a nabi or rasul in the real sense, as a fabrication, after our Holy Messenger, he departs from the Quran and the commandments of the Shariah, and is a kafir and liar. In summary, it is my belief that whoever claims prophethood in the real sense, and wishes to become a prophet directly, separating himself from the grace of the Holy Prophet and that sacred fountain, that person is irreligious and without faith. Presumably, he would create a new kalima of his own, and amend the acts of worship and the commandments to some extent. Undoubtedly, he would be like Musailima, the Liar, and there would be no doubt in his being a kafir. How could we say about such an evil person that he believes in the Holy Quran?

But it must be remembered that, as we have explained here, sometimes the revelation from God contains such words about some of His saints in a metaphorical and figurative sense; they are not meant by way of reality. This is the whole controversy which the foolish, prejudiced people have dragged in a different direction. The name ‘prophet of God’ (nabiullah) for the Promised Messiah, which is to be found in Sahih Muslim etc. from the blessed tongue of the Holy Prophet, is meant in the same metaphorical sense as that in which it occurs in Sufi literature as an accepted and common term for the recipient of Divine communication. Otherwise, how can there be a prophet after the Khatam al-anbiya?

After quoting this lengthy extract, Maulana Muhammad Ali concludes his article as follows:

“It is entirely baseless to think that after this the Promised Messiah may have made some new claim. Whatever was his claim, it had been published long before, and the claim remained the same till the end. It is only an explanation of the same claim which is found in different writings afterwards. In Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala too, there is no new claim, but only a reply of these objections and an explanation. He has certainly not written in it that his prophethood previously was not real, but metaphorical, and has now become real. Here too, the claim to prophethood is in the sense of burooz and metaphorically, not in a real sense. Hence he writes in it:

“And if no person can be a prophet and messenger in the sense of burooz, then what is the meaning of the following: Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours. It should be borne in mind that, according to this sense, I do not deny prophethood and messengership. It is in this sense that the Promised Messiah has been called nabi in the Sahih Muslim. If one who receives news of the unseen from God is not to be called nabi, tell us what he should be called?”

To summarise, the Promised Messiah has not made a new claim in this announcement [Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala], but explained the same, earlier claim. To take this announcement as being opposed to some other writing is to create a contradiction in his writings by yourself. If a point is explained scores of times, the words would be different every time. It is possible that the arguments presented may be different, but the meaning would be the same.

I hope these few words will throw full light for Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis on the real claims of the Promised Messiah.

Muhammad Ali, Editor, Review of Religions, Qadian, District Gurdaspur.

Our comments

The above article shows conclusively that Maulana Muhammad Ali believed, before the Split, that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had not claimed to be a prophet at any stage in his life, and that no change in his claim had occurred when he wrote Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala. This was the publicly announced belief of Maulana Muhammad Ali before Maulana Nur-ud-Din had died.