Continuation of an extract from Victory of Islam, an English rendering of the Urdu Fath-e-Islam, written by the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as).
Here an episode is worth recording. Some time ago I had the occasion to go to Aligarh. Because of over-work, from the effects of which I had suffered even before at Qadian, I was not in a condition to hold long conversations or to undertake any hard mental work. Even at present I am not in a fit condition to hold long converse or do very hard thinking. In such a condition, I happened to receive a Maulawi Sahib of Aligarh, Muhammad Ismail by name. With great humility he requested and persuaded me to deliver a sermon. He said people had been waiting to see and hear me; that it was proper to hold a gathering in a suitable place where I should address them. My own strong and sincere desire has always been to look for opportunities of communicating important truths to people. So, I accepted this invitation with pleasure. I thought I would be able to explain at a public gathering the meaning of Islam, what Islam really was and how it had come to be understood by people today, and so on. I assured the Maulawi Sahib that, God willing, I would be able to speak on the subject of Islam. But after I had agreed, I was forbidden to do this by God. I feel certain that because of my state of health, Almighty Allah did not want me to undertake anything involving such exertion, anything which meant physical trouble for me. So I was restrained by God from delivering this sermon. Once before it had happened thus with me. I was in a low physical condition and then in a vision I saw a prophet from amongst the prophets of the past. Out of sympathy and concern, this prophet said to me, “Why so much mental work? Mind, lest you become sick”. In short, I was stopped by God and I informed the Maulawi Sahib accordingly. My excuse was a true excuse. There are people who have seen me, how I have suffered after long conversations or after hard mental work. Such people may not care for my revelations. But they would be quite certain that I suffer in this way. Dr. Muhammad Hussain Khan, Physician and Honorary Magistrate of Lahore, continues to be my doctor. This doctor’s constant advice to me is that I should avoid hard mental work while liability to suffer lasts. So this doctor is similarly first witness. Among them are my brother Maulawi Hakim Nuruddin, Physician to the State of Jammu, whose heart and soul are devoted to me, and Munshi Abdul Haq, accountant, a resident of Lahore, employed in Lahore, who has attended on me during this sickness of mine and serves me in ways impossible to describe. All such friends know and all will bear witness to this condition of mine.
Regretfully, therefore, I have to say although Muslims have been commanded to trust people, Maulawi Sahib of Aligarh chose not to trust me. On the contrary, he chose to disbelieve me and to depose deliberately against me. A statement has since been compiled by a friend of his, a doctor Jamaluddin by name. This statement which has been broadcast among the public, I proceeded to reply point by point:
“I asked him (that is, the present writer when he was at Aligarh) to address the Friday congregation the following day to which he agreed, but the following morning sent a message saying he had been forbidden by a revelation. I think it was for lack of speaking ability and for fear of the test.”
Maulawi Sahib’s apprehension is nothing but sheer distrust on his part. And distrusting is a seriously forbidden thing in the Shari‘ah, eschewed by all good natured people. Did I announce my claim to revelation for the first time during this visit to Aligarh? If so, there could be some basis for this lack of trust. It could be said that I became over-awed by the intellect and scholarship of the Maulawi Sahib and became so afraid of him that I was obliged to invent an excuse for not keeping my appointment. But my claim to revelation was announced in the country about six years before this visit to Aligarh. The claim is mentioned in many places in my Barahin-i-Ahmadiyyah. If I was so devoid of the ability to speak in public, how could I have composed books like Surma Chashm Arya, which was delivered orally before several thousand people friendly and hostile? How could a man as inferior in public-speaking as I accomplish such a task? How could I carry on a public campaign which entails confrontation with thousands of people of all manner of abilities and tastes? Pity, a thousand pities! Most present-day Maulawis are so consumed by jealousy! From the pulpit they teach the manners of good believers, brotherliness, mutual trustfulness and so on, and always quoting from the Holy Book; but themselves, they do not as much as touch these injunctions! My dear Sir, may God open your eyes! Is it so impossible that God out of His wisdom should stop by revelation a favoured servant of His, from doing something he is about to do? And not for the sake of the servant only, but also so that people like you may be tested and so that your evil thoughts and dispositions may expose themselves. As for awe-inspiring scholarship – I have little respect for scholars steeped in darkness and selfish desires. Were they masters of all the known philosophies and sciences, they would be no better than dead worms in my view. But what are you? You are not half as learned. You are a Mullah of the old school, pedantic and mean like any of them. Remember, my visitors include men learned in sciences and arts and eager to inquire and know more. They come and benefit from insights I am able to impart. You – in comparison with such of my visitors – are like a child beginning to learn. Even such a description is more than you deserve.
Is this not enough to cure you of your delusions? Will you still continue to distrust? If so, then with the help and mercy of God, I am ready to confront you in a public speaking contest. I am not so well. So, I cannot undertake a long journey. If you agree, you can travel at my expense to a central place like Lahore in the Punjab. I feel I could invite you to such a confrontation and such a test. I promise to stand by my invitation. I await your reply.
“This man (that is, the present writer) is utterly incompetent with no scholarship to his credit.”
My dear Sir, I have no claim to earthly wisdom or scholarship. I have no use for knowledge and skills of this world. They illumine not the soul. They cleanse not the dirt and filth that is in men’s minds and motives. They promote not humility and modesty. Rather, they make rusty minds rustier and add unbelief to unbelief. Enough for me is this: That the Grace of God lent His Hand of Help to me and imparted to me knowledge, which one learns not in the conventional schools but only from a Heavenly teacher. If I am described as unlettered, what is there in this to be ashamed of? It is something to be proud of. Was not even my Leader and Chief(saw), the Chief of all God’s creatures, who came to reform and raise all mankind, unlettered? I have no respect for him who prides himself in scholarship but is dark in outer and inner character. Read the Holy Qur’an and ponder over the similitude of the donkey laden with books. Should not this be enough?
“I questioned him (that is, the present writer) on the subject of revelation. Beyond giving some meaningless answers, he said nothing.”
Remember well. My answers were full of meaning, sufficient to convince anyone capable of understanding and weighing. You did not understand, it is true. But to whose discredit does this go? Your own, or anyone else’s? You could publish those very questions in some newspaper and receive fresh answers to test your notions of yourself again.
“It is impossible to think that such good books are really his work.”
How could you think so? The unbelievers who saw the Holy Prophet(saw) with their own eyes could not think so. Their minds were hooded, they could not perceive the merits of the Holy Prophet(saw). So they went on saying that the powerful speech – the Holy Qur’an – which fell from his lips and which he addressed to all God’s creatures, was taught to him in secret by other people! And the teaching went on regularly morning and evening! In a sense, the unbelievers’ taunt was true. The Holy Qur’an in power and wisdom is far above the intellectual power of the Holy Prophet(saw). Far above the intellectual capacity of any human being. Only the Most Knowing, the Most Powerful God could have imparted this speech. Similarly the books composed by this humble one are the result of Help, which came from the Unseen, above my ability and my capacity. And thank God, Maulawi Sahib’s criticism has made true a prophecy entered earlier in my Barahin-i-Ahmadiyyah. The prophecy said there would be people who on reading this book would declare, it is not this man’s work!
“Syed Ahmad Arab, whom I know to be reliable, told me that he (Syed Ahmad) lived with him (i.e., the present writer) for two months: in an inner circle of devotees, taking care to be present on all occasions and observing and watching out carefully. He (the Arab) found astrological instruments with him which he (i.e., the present writer) made use of.”
Come, let us call our sons and your sons, and our women and our women, and our people and your people and then let us pray fervently and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie. (Holy Qur’an, Ch.3:V.62)
This verse from the Book of God is my reply. I remember not at all this Syed Ahmad who was with me for two months. It is up to the Maulawi Sahib to produce him before me, so he may be asked to tell us what apparatus he saw. But why this? I am alive and Maulawi Sahib himself could come and live with me for two months and see things for himself. We need no Arab or non-Arab to do this.
“When I have read the so-called revelations and thought over them, I am not at all impressed: the revelations do not seem to be revelations.”
No more were the unbelievers of the Holy Prophet(saw)’s time impressed. Has not God Almighty said about them, And they declared false our signs totally (Holy Qur’an Ch.78:V.29)? The Pharaoh believed not. Abu Jahl, Abu Lahb believed not. But they who were poor and pure of heart believed. This grace comes not of one’s own sinews, not until the Gracious One gifts it Himself.
“Making claims is contrary to showing signs and to say that those who doubt may come and see is false, futile.”
My claims are not mine really. They are claims on behalf of Him Who is entitled to make every claim. No lover of truth can allege lies to such claims. True, claims of supernatural powers cannot be made even by prophets. But could not God – through a prophet, apostle or Muhaddath – make such claims?
“I lost my belief in him after the meeting. Every believer in the One God who meets him (the present writer) will similarly lose his belief in him. He is late with daily prayers, very late. And he does not always join others at prayers.”
It matters not to me that Maulawi Sahib lost belief in me. But his lying and fabricating and distrusting – to such extremes – do surprise me. O God, have mercy on this Ummah [(people)] of the Holy Prophet(saw) whose leaders, guides and friends are Maulawis of this kind!
Let readers consider this complaint of the Maulawi that has arisen only from lack of charity and from abundance of jealousy. It is obvious that I was in Aligarh a sojourner for a few days. I was bound to observe concessions allowed to travellers by the Shari‘ah of Islam. Not to observe these concessions at all is a kind of unbelief. What I did was what I should have done. I cannot deny that during my stay of a few days, I said two prayers at one time, and this is the Sunnah. I have said Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers together late at the time of Zuhr. Strict believers combine prayers even at home when they are neither on journey nor prevented by rain. I do not deny that during these few days I have not been absent always, in spite of being ill and on a journey. Maulawi Sahib would know that I said my Friday prayers behind him and I do not know now whether this was correct. It is true, quite true, that I avoid attending mosques when I am journeying. But this – I seek refuge with Allah – is not for laziness or for indifference to divine ordinances. Unfortunately mosques in our time, in our country, are in a very bad condition. When one wishes to lead the prayers at such mosques, the official Imams do not tolerate it. Should one choose to stand behind an appointed Imam, then I have doubts whether prayers are then properly said at all. Why? Because it is known to all and sundry that leading prayers has become a business with these Imams. Five times a day they enter not a house of prayer but enter rather a shop to attend to customers.
They and their families live on its income. Parties go to court whenever there is dispute over maintaining or not maintaining a given person as Imam. Maulawi Sahiban file appeals to obtain a legal decree for their status as Imams. This is living off Imamat in the forbidden way, a most disgusting way. Are you not similarly involved in a crooked selfish enterprise? When things are like this, why should one who knows ruin his own faith? The traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw) dealing with the latter days, speak of the filling of mosques by hypocrites. This prophecy relates to Mullahs of our time who have the Holy Qur’an on their lips but who are thinking all the time of their own bread and butter when they face their congregations. Combining Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers or Maghrib and ‘Isha’ has always been permitted during journeys. When this permission was abrogated I do not know. Nor do I know who has forbidden the saying of prayers during the latter part of their [appointed] time. It is amazing – you think backbiting permissible but combining Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers or Maghrib and ‘Isha’ prayers by a traveller haraam [(forbidden)].
“Fear God, ye believers in One God, for the time to depart is near and Allah knows everything you try to hide.”
Looking for spiritual ailments as a target, and then – by arrows of counselling as it were – trying to eliminate those ailments and reform moral weakness, much as a dislocated part is restored to its true position, requires the presence of the patient before the physician. Proper treatment is possible in no other way. Thus it is that God has sent several thousand prophets and messengers into the world and required men to flock round them and profit by their life and example. For, as exemplars, they are living embodiments of the word of God. To follow them is to follow the word of God. Companionship of these holy men is one of the essentials of religious training. Were it not so, God would have sent His revelation without sending any messengers or prophets. Or, He would have sent prophets and messengers in the beginning and then stopped sending them forever afterwards. Divine wisdom did not brook this arrangement. On the contrary, holy men gifted with divine revelation continued to come at all times of need – to cure godlessness and restore the love of God and purity of life – and to serve as models of daily life for others. The two are interconnected. If God is concerned to provide guidance and reform in time of need, then it is imperative that the elect of God who receive their wisdom from God and who are taught to always stand by God’s wishes should continue to arise. It follows, therefore, that the Herculean task of reforming a whole people cannot be accomplished by academic devices. It can be accomplished only by methods which have always been employed by God’s holy prophets. The example of Islam proves this in a unique and unparalleled manner. The Holy Prophet’s(saw) companions rose to more than 10,000, yet this large number lived and moved in close association with the Holy Prophet(saw), ready and eager with conviction and humility to acquire knowledge of divine truths and learn the art of true divine living.
True, even Moses(as) had a following, a Jama’at. But of what sort was this Jama’at? It was rebellious and arrogant and far removed from the acceptance of spiritual discipline and the style of a good life. Readers of the Bible and students of Jewish history are aware of this. The companions of the Holy Prophet(saw) present, by contrast, a tremendous miracle of internal transformation, which took place through their following the Holy Prophet(saw). They presented an outstanding picture of cohesion and equality of spirit. This was how Islamic brotherhood came into being. The brotherhood was an organic whole. The light and influence of the Holy Prophet(saw) had penetrated deep into their minds and souls. One and all had become perfect reflections of the character of the Holy Prophet(saw). This was the result of the example of a true and perfect prophet. Those steeped in the grossest idol-worship became worshippers of the One, Invisible God. Those who were sunk in the pleasures of this world became devotees of the True Beloved, so much, that they hesitated not to shed their own blood in His path. In consonance with this, this humble one has been appointed to institute something similar. I desire in fact to widen this circle of visitors who would come and live with me, so that those who are eager to promote their faith, their love of God, and their certainty of convictions should come and live in daily contact with me, so that they also should become gifted with the love of faith with which this humble one happens to have been gifted; and so that they also should enjoy the spiritual experiences which this humble one enjoys; that they also should acquire the devotion and enthusiasm for the faith which this humble one has acquired; and that – thus and in consequence of this – the light of Islam should spread far and wide in the world, and that the present black image of Muslims, a people only to be hated and despised, should evaporate. I had tidings of this revolution to come. God, yes God Himself, spoke to me and said:
“Arise! Thy appointed moment has come and now followers of Muhammad(saw) will soon mount on to a minaret very high, with their feet more firmly planted than before.”