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A Page from the history of Ahmadiyyat

34 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS search of the lost tribes of Israel). THE ISHMAELITES With the conquest of the land by the Muslims and the erection of the Aqsa Mosque on the site of the Temple, the Jews enjoyed much more freedom in Palestine than they had had ever before. A number of Jews became Muslims. During the times of the Holy Prophet in Medina, they had derided and conspired against him, and, the Holy Quran, on numerous occasions, reminds them of the favours bestowed on them by God Almighty and how, as a calous disregard for those favours, they had been afflicted with misfortune forever. The Promised Land continued to be occupied by the righteous servants of God, the Muslims, apart from a brief period during the crusades, which achieved greater fame in the West than its impact in Palestine itself. Indeed, out in Europe, not only when crusades took place, or were in pre- paration, but on all occasions of religious and even political and social excitement the Jews were mercilessly attacked, prepostrously accused and massacred. The Fourth Lateran Council of the Church of 1215 forbade Jews to have Christians in their service; compelled them to wear a distin- guishing badge, in 1240 in Paris, the Talmud was condemned as blasphe- mous and vast numbers of manuscripts were publicly burned. Money- lending became their monopoly and economic jealously began to add fuel to their sorry status leading to their explusion from several countries and they were even accused of causing the plague. A stream of emigration led to new communities in Western Europe. With many of the Jews having formally or informally abandoned Judaism, new persecution based obsten- sibly on racial grounds culminating in the Dreyfus case involving a Jewish officer wrongly condemned for espionage led to the launching of the Zionist movement at the hands of a Viennese journalist, Theodor Herzl in 1895. This political wing was committed to the attainment of a perma- nent Jewish state in Palestine. It bore sharp contrast to their religious belief because it was supposed to be the Messiah who was to lead them back to Jerusalem. With the growth of Nazism and the decline of Arab power in the Middle East, a wave of unabated immigration of unpreceedented scale, somewhat equivalent to a colony of wasps trying to invade a bee-hive, and the holocaust, the Zionists became successful in riding on the sympathies following the holocaust, probably the most appalling disaster that had ever inflicted any people in history. In Iraq, Zionists emissaries threw bombs into Jewish homes to create a fear so that David Ben Gurion’s dream of a partnership with Arab Jews may emerge and so that they may resettle in Israel. THE REVIEWOF RELIGIONS 35 THE STATE OF ISRAEL Palestine had been the newly evolving hope that had kept alive the morale of the Jewish people. Arab opposition to the mischief of the Balfour Declaration was intense but a war-weary Great Britiain with behind the doors American collaboration turned the solution of the problem over to the United Nations where, with Russian backing it adopted a report recom- mending the partition of mandatory Palestine on the West Bank of the Jordan into two independent states, one Arab and the other Jewish. The Jewish state came to be known as Israel under the first president Chaim Weizmann and Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, on 14 May 1948, some two thousand years since the jews had last existed in the country in some force. Numerous battles since then has led to a greatly expanded State of Israel as it is known today. Just as the old borders of the Holy Land were imprecise, so is the urge to expand to more ‘source’ borders indefinite e.g. calling the West Bank by the Herut party ‘Judea and Samaria’. After this brief history, we refer to some heavenly prophecies about Israel. BIBLICAL PROPHECIES In the latter years thou shall come into the land that is brought back from the swords, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel which have always been waste. (Ezekiel38 :8) And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that My fury shall come up in My face. Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel. (Ezekiel: 38 :18) For evildoers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the aboundance of peace. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inherittance shall be forever. For such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth: and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut; the righteous shall inherit the land and dwell therein forever. (Psalms 37 : 9, 11, 18, 22, 29) (The land is Canaan, the pledge of God’s covenant – Commentary on the Old Testatnmenis published by the Society for Promoting Chris- tian Knowledge) For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto 36 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS other gods, and serve them, and provoke Me, and break My covenant. And the Lord said unto him, this is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying I will give it unto thy seed. (Deuteronomy 28 : II; 34 : 4) And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee- thou shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee and will return and gather thee from all the nations, wither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers, possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. (Deuteronomy 30 :1-5) The above refers to the conquest of Samaria by the Assyrians in 733 B.C. then, under Pharaoh Necho, the Egyptians ravaged Judah in 608 B.C. then Nebuchadnezzar laid waste Judah and killed, in cold blood, the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Through Cyrus and his successors, the Jews were restored to Jerusalem after wandering in the wilderness for about a century. It may be noted that the Christians who do not fulfil Abraham’s covenant are not included in this pledge of God. Only the meek and righ- teous servants of God are. Chapter 39 of Ezekiel describes the destruction of Gog upon the mountains of Israel: (Gog — Russia) — though the pro- phecy about Gog and Magog is particularly relevant to the present discus- sion, we shall avoid it for the moment and shall assume that everyone is aware of the two opposing camps that exist and how without American support for Israel it could barely last a few days. QURANIC PROPHECIES And after him We said to the children of Israel, ‘Dwell ye in the land; and when the time of the promise of the latter days comes, We shall bring you together out of various peoples. (17 :105 J The promised land was that of Canaan. (Unlike Moses who never got the land in which he lived, the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, not only regained Mecca but his followers spread all over the world) the above verse clearly shows that in consequence of their misdeeds, the Jews would be visited with divine punishment, be banished from their homes, would live in exile till the time when the second of the two punishments would overtake the Muslims who would succeed the Jews and then the Jews will be gathered from the ends of the earth and brought back to their Holy THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 37 Land. The Jewish punishment first at the hands of Nebuchadnezzat of Babylon who carried them away into captivity, and, the second time at the hands of Titus of Rome, is referred to in the Holy Quran in Ch. 17; 6-8 the ‘promise of the latter days appears to refer to the Muslims who were to be punished twice: First during the Crusades when they temporaraly lost the Holy Land and later when Baghdad fell to the armies of the tartars under Halaku Khan. That the Jews were to be brought back from out of various peoples is exactly what happened and God’s promise, despite the protests was fulfilled. The clarity of this prophecy and its fulfilment to the letter is beyond dispute. “We have recorded in the Book of David, after the exhortation that My righteous servants shall inherit the Land. Herein, surely, is a message for those who are devoted to worship.” (21 : 106-7) Commenting upon this verse, the Promised Messiah stated: This verse shows clearly that the ‘Al-Ard’ (the Land) here means the countries of the Middle East including Palestine. It is the inheritance of the righteous and is in the possession of Muslims today. God has used the word YARETHOHA (will inherit) and not YAMLEKOHA (will possess). This has clear indication to the effect that the Muslims are and will continue to remain its real heir and even if this land goes into the hands of someone else sometime, then this possession will be in the same way as the owner lends his property to the lessee. This is where the excellence of the divine prophecy lies. Since the Land of the Middle East is that of the Prophets, Allah does not want to desecrate it by allowing it to be inherited by non- Muslims. (Malfuzat Vol. IV p. 125) Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II has commented on this and the subsequent verses as follows: 1. The Muslims should learn a lesson from it. If they want Pales- tine back, then they should become righteous as the Holy Land (Palestine) is ultimately promised to the righteous. 2. It is a prophecy of the Quran that the Jews will be made to come back to the Holy Land from the ends of the earth in the latter days. There is however no cause for disappointment for the Muslims, their Prophet came as a Mercy for them and their relationship will never fustrate them. 3. Allah has already made Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, pray for the Muslims that He should cause Palestine to be returned to them and thus testify his truth. We are fully convinced that the Prophet’s prayer will 38 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS never go unheard. The world shall see with its own eyes how it is fulfilled. Neither Russia nor America will be of any avail to Israel. (Tafseeri Sagheer p. 421) The above verse more specifically refers to the prophesied conquest by Hazrat Umar and the peaceful establishment of the site of the Temple in Jerusalem to the worship of the One God and in its present context to the prophecy that the Jewish control over this land, the desercration of the Mosque built on the Temple site on several occasions, the resultant blood-shed of innocent by-standers, and the forced eviction of the Pales- tinian Arabs from their homeland by a people who had utter disregard to the Prophets of God is but a temporary phase, though God Almighty does not set a time limit on this occupation. PROPHECIES OF THE HOLY PROPHET, PEACE BE UPON HIM Numerous prophecies tell of the condition of the Muslims of the latters days; that they would display the qualities of the Jews. Its fulfilment is obvious when we observe around us how Muslim dominance in the eco- nomic sphere has led to money-lending, usury, and in the religious sense, the disregard to the teachings of God and the rejection of prophethood, in particular that of the Promised Messiah, where a large majority is awaiting the advent of a prophet from the skies, just as the Jews did at the time of Jesus. Abu Hurairah reports that he heard the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, state that before the Last Day comes a severe clash will occur between the Muslims and the Jews, as a result of which the Muslims will start killing the Jews. The Jews will hide themselves behind a stone or a tree, then that stone or tree will cry out: ‘O Muslim, O Servant of Allah, here is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him’, except that the gharqad tree shall not speak. (Sahih Muslim-Kitab at Fitn) PROPHECY BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH Continuing the prophecy about the third world catastrophe, the Promised Messiah states: There will be a world catastrophe, the middle point of which will be the Middle East. (Tadhkira Vol. II, p. 15) In yet another prophecy he states that the third conflict will arise all of a sudden and that it shall start from Sham (Syria) and that death shall reign from the skies. The importance of Middle Eastern oil, the nurturing of Israel with military and financial aid to coax it to sign peace treaties with the neighbours whose teritories have been occupied and Syrian rejection of the Palestinians has made this part of the world a political hot-bed and THE REVIEWOF RELIGIONS 39 a mere spark could expolde into an irretrievable war given the belligerent attitude of the two world powers. COMMENTS BY THE SUCCESSORS HAZRAT KHALIFATUL MASIH II In the final conflict the Jews will again lose the power that they will recently have acquired and will again be reduced to the same sad state from which they had risen. (Communism and Democracy pp 30 – 31) Palestine is very close to the last resort of our Master and Benefactor during whose lifetime the Jews, inspite of every sort of kind treatment, never left any stone unturned to oppose him with utter shamelessness and immodesty. Most of the battles broke out on their instigation. So it is not the question of Palestine alone. It is the question of Islam as a whole, and it is not the question of Jerusalem alone, it is the question of Mecca, the Holy city. It is the question of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) himself. We must try therefore, through our righteous deeds, sacrifices, unity and humble prayers, to shorten the period of this (first) prophecy to the minimum. (Al-Fazl 31.5.1948) The land of Palestine shall remain permanently in the hands of righ- teous servants of God. So these righteous Servant i.e. the people of Muha- mmadan dispensation shall definitely enter this land. . . . this whole stru- cture which is being installed there with the help of the U.N.O. and America will tumble to the ground at the hands of the Muslims, who empowered by divine help, will be able to rehabilitate the Muslims once again t h e r e . . . . Neither atom bombs and hydrogen bombs of America, nor Russia’s help would be of any avail. It is the decree of God which must come to pass, however the world may resist. (Tafseer-i-Kabir Vol. IV, p. 576) There is a third element which also at the present moment constitu- tes a grave threat to the very heart of Islam and that is the state of Israel. The prophecies indicate, however, that the state of Israel will gravitate towards Communism and that which the West may have mistakenly suppos- ed and relied upon as a support will soon be shown to have grown into a menace. (Communism and Democracy p. 33) In 1948, Hazrat Khalifatulmasih II delivered an address captioned ALKUFRO MILLATUN WAHIDA which received excellent reviews in the Arab press, e.g; We have received a tract containing an address of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad delivered in Lahore in which he has called upon all Muslims to unite and to adopt concrete and effective measures to rescue Palestine 40 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS from the clutches of the Zionist criminals. He has also exhorted the people of Pakistan to render immediate assistance to the Palestinian Arabs. He has appealed to all Muslims reminding them of the directions of the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) and arguing on the basis of the verses of the Holy Quran that they should organise themselves to resist the Zionest aggression which is being supported by the USA and by the USSR in pursuit of their own interest and purpose. He has also drawn the attention of the Muslims to the necessity of discarding all thought of weakness and despair and of keeping before their eyes the responsibilities that lie upon their shoulders in the matter of striv- ing of the strength and progress of Islam and the Muslims. This is an excellent address and it is timely propaganda on the pro- blems of Palestine and the situation which the Muslims are faced with. We pray to God Almighty that He may bring to fruition our pious desires and our good resolutions concerning our holy faith which are surging through our hearts. (The Annahza 12 July 1948) During these times, the services rendered by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan as the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan are beyond any parallel in history and the Arab world remains indebted to him since then. HAZRAT KHALIFATUL MASIH III He delivered his ‘A Message of Peace and a Word of Warning’ in London in 1967 during which he repeated the warnings of the Promised Messiah and showed the ways how a catastrophe could be avoided. He re- peated this warning at the 1978 International Conference on the Delive- rance of Jesus from the Cross held in London. In 1980, at a press conference at the Cafe Royal in Piccadilly in answer to a question whether he reco- gnised the state of Israel he stated that he could not refuse to accept a fact of history that Israel exists. The only way to deal with Israel was for the Muslim world to unite. The unwarranted invasion by Israel into Lebanon and the endless bombardment of innocent citizens affected him deeply. HAZRAT KHALIFATUL MASIH IV Even prior to the election as a Khalifa, he had written a terse reply to an Urdu circulation, compiled under the direction of Maulana Sayed Muhammad Yusuf Bannauri, entitled ‘From Rabwah to Tel Aviv’ in which he ably answered the preposterous allegations connecting Zionism and Ahmadiyyat. His rejoinder proves that there is no such connection and he commends the service rendered by the Ahmadiyya Community to oppose the establishment of the Zionist state. THE REVIEWOF RELIGIONS 41 The stand of the Ahmadiyya Community which has always been given expression to very clearly by the Head of the Movement has throughout been that the Holy Land belongs to the Muslims of Palestine and that no one else is entitled to a single inch of it. The Ahmadiyya Community has throughout strongly opposed Zionist designs and the setting up of the state of Israel and has throughout clearly and openly supported the cause of the Arabs in respect of palestine and the same is its attitude today namely that the Zionist state has no claims to legitimacy and should be brought to an end. (From Rabwah to Tel Aviv pp. 20 – 21) Being a Palestinian is no fun. Hounded out of one refuge to another; disowned by your neighbours; denied citizenship for an elvsive identity; taking up arms when your brethren have let you down; unrecognised even as human beings by agencies fighting for human rights for others all over the world; stateless, homeless, pitiable, yet resolute – that is the plight of these people. In a constantly changing map of their land, how jitting therefore that they have at last found a spiritual leader, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV, whose heart throbs with their struggle who shares their sorrow, and most importantly, who not only prays fervently for their interest but urges an ever-growing community to do the same. Could these prayers be the antidote to the Israeli poison that has displayed so horrifically the weakest link of Muslim relationship — its dis- unity? CONCLUSION The betrayal of the Palestinian Arab leaving them alone to fight a guerilla warfare in the face of a well-equipped vendetta type army can only prolong the misery of the refugees kicked out of their home and hounded from neighbouring territories either by the ruling powers or the invaders. Till Muslims become Muslims first and stand united against Zionism the macabre drama is only going to assume worse trends and twists. Where the neighbours keep fighting each other, they can have little strength to face Israel. But God’s promise will be fulfilled — when, only time can tell. Golden deeds of Muslims by RASHID AHMAD CHAUDHRI The stories make compelling reading matter for both young and old. They give an insight to the simple lives led by the early Muslims and show how such people sacrificed their lives, property and honour for the sake of their faith and thus became popularly known as martyrs or heroes. The reader has been saved the trouble of sifting facts from myths in order to present the truth in its barest form: these are true stories. Available from the London Mosque Price 75p 42 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS A PAGE FROM THE HISTORY OF AHMADIYYAT The Rt Rev George Alfred Lefroy was Bishop of Lahore in the early years of this century. His attitude towards Islam might be gathered from the following incident recorded in the Life and Letters of George Alfred Lefroy by H.H. Montgomery (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1920), where it is said: “Archbishop Bensen made a speech at the annual meeting of the society for the Propagation of the Gospel in St. James’s Hall on 16 June 1892 in the course of which he said: *We know what the sins of Muhamma- denism are, but do we not know what the sins of Europe and London are? No one can go into a Muhammaden place of worship without being struck with the evidence of sincerity, gravity, absorbedness and solemnity in the worshippers. ‘Commenting on this Lefory said; ‘It must be with the extre- mest deference that I venture to dissent from the viewa of his Grace.” Bishop Lefroy knew Hebrew, Arabic and Persian and could speak with great facility in Urdu. He was fond of public speaking and often addressed meetings in the spirit of an evangelist. He was appointed Bishop of Lahore in 1899. During the spring and early summer of 1900 the Bishop delivered public addresses at different places in Lahore on the thesis that Jesus alone, out of all the prophets, was sinless and compared him with the other prophets, especially with the Holy Prophet of Islam, to the disadvantage of all the other prophets. When Ahmad heard of these lectures, he wrote and published two leaflets on 25 May 1900 for distribution at the Bishop’s lecture which was due to be delivered the same afternoon. This was done and at the end of his address the Bishop was asked to comment on the subject matter of the leaflets. The Bishop excused himself on the plea that the points raised in the leaflets were new to him and that he had come to know of them for the first time. The leaflets dealt with the subjects on which the Bishop had spoken on earlier occasions. At the end of the second leaflet, Ahmad wrote that if the Bishop of Lahore was in earnest and was really interested in the truth, he should come forward and announce that he was prepared to hold a public discussion with Muslims on the topic whether Jesus or Muhammad was the greater Prophet in respect of knowledge, personal example and spiritual influence. A large number of Muslims also addressed a letter to Bishop Lefroy inviting him to agree to a public discussion on five questions affecting the truth of Christianity and Islam with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, over a period of five days. They set out the regulations for the THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 43 conduct of the meeting and appealed to the Rt Rev gentleman, in the name of Jesus, not to fail to provide an opportunity for the seekers after truth to come to a decision on the proposed questions after listening to the discussion. The well-known English daily, the Pioneer, published from Allahabad, said in the course of its observations on the letter; ‘The letter has a great many signatures, of which the first few names will be sufficient to indicate the widespread interest and expectation with which the Muhammadan community are looking forward to the encounter.’ “On 12 June 1900, the Bishop sent a reply to the letter from Simla in which he put forward a number of reasons or excuses why he could not comply with the request submitted to him in the letter. One of these was: The Mirza Sahib, in venturing to call himself the Messiah, assumes, with no shadow of authority, that name by which we Christians are called and which we regard with prefoundest reverence, and offers in my opinion a most grievous insult and dishonour to Him Whom I worship as my Lord and Master. How then can I possibly consent to meet him in a friendly way?” A reasoned and courteous rejoinder was sent, on behalf of the signa- tories to the original letter, to the Bishop on 10 July 1900. In the course of it the writer pointed out: Your Lordship has declined to meet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in any friendly relationship for his having assumed a name which the Christians honour and worship as their Lord and Master. Had it been even as your Lordship thinks, it could not have been a good ground for hatred and the cessation of friendly relations, for the Holy Bible inculcates love towards enemies. Treatment of this nature towards an adversary cannot be expected from the followers of any religion, not to say anything of a Christian and especially of a Church dignitary, whose duty it is not only himself to act upon Matt. 5:44, but also to teach that doctrine to the laity and to preach it to the non-Christians. But I may assure you that Mirza Sahib does not assert that he is Jesus Christ in person, but one coming in that Prophet’s spirit and character and preaching after his manner, as John came in the spirit and power of Elias. Moreover, the Muslims honour Jesus as a true and eminent prophet and the Mirza Sahib, being the foremost Muslim of his day, does so pre-eminently, whereas millions of people who do not profess the Christian or Muslim faith do not look upon him even as a prophet and thus offer the greatest affront to his dignity, and your lordship must often, I suppose, have come into contact with such persons. Yet, I do not think that your Lordship has ever expressed the same feeling of hatred towards