Response by Zahid Aziz, 16th February 2004
As stated earlier, almost the entire Qadiani case rests on their assertion that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad changed his claim from non-prophet to prophet in November 1901 by issuing the pamphlet Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala. If this change cannot be proved to have occurred, then the Lahore Ahmadiyya position stands established and all his writings from 1891 to the end of his life can be seen to be consistent throughout, denying claim to prophethood and affirming his claim to sainthood.
The only evidence put forward for this change is the answer to a question, published in Haqiqat-ul-Wahy in May 1907 (p. 148), in which the questioner alleges a change in Hazrat Mirza sahib’s position subsequent to what he wrote in Tiryaq-ul-Qulub p. 157 regarding his excellence over Jesus. As Tiryaq-ul-Qulub is dated October 1902 on p. 160, the Qadianis first declared this to be the date after which his claim changed. But as they also quoted Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala as a post-change pamphlet, they then altered the date of change of claim to November 1901, and said that Tiryaq-ul-Qulub (up to p. 158) was written in 1899. Their own muddle over dates shows this change theory to be utterly baseless. In his reply to the questioner, Hazrat Mirza sahib has answered the substance behind the question. He has referred to a period “in the beginning” when he held his earlier belief that he bore “no comparison to Jesus”. It is clear that this was at sometime before he claimed to be Promised Messiah in 1891. During the 1890s he was even challenging the Christian clergy to compare his revelations and signs with those reported in the Gospels about Jesus. Further on in Haqiqat-ul-Wahy (p. 163 and p. 265-266) Hazrat Mirza sahib has confirmed that his status and rank is as he described it in Tiryaq-ul-Qulub, and has also written that he affirmed this when answering a question in a court case in 1904.
Nowhere has Hazrat Mirza sahib stated either within or after Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala that prior to this pamphlet his definition of ‘prophet’ was mistaken or that he changed his claim in this pamphlet. According to the Qadianis, Hazrat Mirza sahib wrote this pamphlet because a follower denied to an opponent that he was a prophet: “The follower responded he was not a real, actual prophet, not knowing Allah called the Promised Messiah ‘nabi’ … ” (T. Ijaz’s last response, p. 6). But Hazrat Mirza sahib himself had been giving exactly this response while of course knowing that Allah called him ‘prophet’! They allege that Hazrat Mirza sahib was saying to the follower: “Why are you saying I am not a prophet?” (ibid., p. 6). But he cannot say this to anyone since he himself had been telling the world: “I am not a prophet”.
It is argued that Hazrat Mirza sahib has written, regarding his claim of being Promised Messiah, that he did not realize for some twelve years (up to 1891) that he fulfilled this prophecy while Allah was calling him as ‘Messiah’, and consequently it is an acceptable concept that he similarly did not realize for ten years (1891 to 1901) that he was also a prophet. However, he has only ever mentioned the first case of non-realization and never mentioned the second, even though he wrote the quoted extract in 1902 after the second realization would have occurred. Also, the first case did not result in a change in the office he claimed to hold. His claim was still of being mujaddid even after realizing that he was Promised Messiah, as he himself writes: “the claim of being Promised Messiah is not greater than the claim of being a recipient of revelation from Allah and a mujaddid from Allah” (A’inah Kamalat Islam, p. 341), and that the Promised Messiah is a “mujaddid from among the mujaddids of this Umma” (Kitab al-Bariyya, p. 198). It was a matter of recognising the fulfilment of a prophecy (of the descent of Jesus), regarding which errors of human judgment can be made.
After 1901 Hazrat Mirza sahib continued to affirm the ending of prophethood with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, to consider himself as mujaddid of the century, and to write that he had the spiritual qualities which are common to prophets and saints (muhaddas) — “Allah is the Being Who … sent messengers, and sent scriptures, and at the end of all of them sent Muhammad, peace be upon him” (Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, p. 141), “my claim stands proved that the Promised Messiah who is the Mujaddid of the Last Days is none other than myself” (ibid., p. 194), “…in Islamic terms such people are called nabi and rasul and muhaddas” (Lecture Sialkot, p. 30).
Both before and after 1901 Hazrat Mirza sahib stated that he applied the words nabi and rasul to himself in the metaphorical or linguistic sense in which these apply to a saint or mujaddid, and not in a real sense. Regarding his statement in Haqiqat-ul-Wahy, “I have been named by Allah as nabi by way of metaphor, not by way of reality (haqiqat)”, the Qadiani comment is that all prophets, in relation to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, were prophets metaphorically and not by way of reality. No such teaching is found in the Quran and Hadith. According to Hazrat Mirza sahib, if Jesus returned he would come as “a real (haqiqi) prophet” (Siraj Munir, p. 2-3), and so Muslims would be accepting a real prophet in relation to the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
It was argued on behalf of the Qadiani Jama‘at that the Promised Messiah’s presentation of the true teachings of Islam constitutes his kitab or book. On the contrary, the Promised Messiah considered the Quran as the last revealed Book, and now the only revealed Book, for all humanity: “Then God sent one book for all the countries and instructed in it that in whichever time this book reaches various countries they must accept it and believe in it, and that book is the Holy Quran. … The Holy Quran came after all the books … when the time came to unite all nations under one book, God sent one Prophet for the whole world” (Chasma-i Ma‘rifat, published May 1908, p. 67, 68, 136). That “one Prophet” is the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
Maulana Muhammad Ali’s use of the words ‘prophet’ and ‘messenger’ for Hazrat Mirza sahib in the Review of Religions is exactly like the Promised Messiah’s own use of these words about himself. The Maulana also wrote in it, translating the Promised Messiah’s writings, as follows about the Holy Prophet Muhammad: “the Holy Prophet was the last of prophets” (Nov-Dec. 1903 issue, p. 436), “… so that it may be a sign that the Holy Prophet was the last prophet, and that thus the finality of his prophethood should be established” (ibid., p. 437), and “Prophethood came to an end with him, not only because he came last of all…” (Nov. 1904 issue, p. 395).
Leading Qadiani figures affirmed before the Split that no prophet could come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The Maulana’s beliefs about the claims of the Promised Messiah remained the same from when he joined the Movement in 1897 to the end of his life. It is actually the Qadianis who want him to change from the beliefs that he accepted in 1897!
On the ‘Ahmad’ prophecy, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad eventually stated in 1921 that a person holding the views expressed by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book The Split is not “any the less an Ahmadi” (The Truth about the Split, p. 58). When he wrote this, the Maulana’s English commentary of the Quran had already appeared four years previously, containing the footnotes referred to by T. Ijaz. As the Qadiani leader thus settled this issue, his later followers cannot keep on raising it.