Churches

DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH (as) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

29The Review of Religions – June 2007 Any reasonable individual who makes a cursory study of the life of the Promised Messiah(as) will be left in no doubt about his deep love of Islam and his relentless work to defend its blessed name from attacks from all sides. In this respect there were few quarters that raised as serious and as concerted a series of attacks on Islam as did the Christian Missionaries of India of the time. This Christian onslaught first took shape in 1799 with the establishment of the Church Missionary Society in India. Its aim, as revealed in a submission made to the Queen in 1858 and debated for about two years or so in Parliament, was to bring the entire population of India to the fold of Christianity. Assisted by tacit support of the ruling British, it initially managed to make considerable progress but it was clear by the end of the century that its ultimate objective would remain unachieved. This was despite the fact that the number of Christian Missionary Societies increased during the period. In 1851, for instance, these societies numbered 19 and rose to 73 by 1901. This was in addition to many other Christian mission- aries that remained unattached to any specific mission. The number of Christians in India during this period also rose from 91,092 at 1851 to 417,372 Christians in 1881. This number may be high, but with the population of Greater India (including modern Pakistan and Bangladesh) totalling several million it fell well short of total conversion of Indians to Christianity as planned by the Defence of Islam by the Promised Messiah(as) Against Attacks By Christian Missionaries By Waleed Ahmad – UK 30 The Review of Religions – June 2007 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES Church Missionary Society. This number would have been a lot higher had it not been for the resolute stand that the Promised Messiah(as) took in the defence of Islam. In considering the attacks made by the Christian missionaries, it should be noted that the greatest attack made on Islam was one that struck at the very heart of Muslim belief and that was the unity of God. By ascribing Divinity to Jesus(as) and promoting this belief, Christianity challenged this fundamental tenet of Islam. Indeed it is this attack that distressed the Promised Messiah(as) the most and he worked arduously to repel it. He demonstrated through his writings and debates how divinity could not be attributed to Jesus(as) and how he had to be human, a prophet but no more. He explained these points by quoting from the Bible itself and was blessed with such knowledge and wisdom that it confounded many a highly trained Christian missionary. The Promised Messiah(as) had grown up in dealing with the objections of Christians from a young age. As he once wrote, he had started encountering them from the age of 16 or 17. Some encounters with Christian missionaries were of no big consequence but showed the competence of the Promised Messiah(as) at a young age to deal with the attacks of Christians against Islam. For instance one Elisha Swift asserted that salvation could not be attained by following Islam because it could only be found through adopting Christianity. The Promised Messiah(as) asked him to define the word ‘salvation’ and explain what he meant by it. The missionary stated that he had not studied logic and therefore could not answer the question. Another encounter during his early years was with a more learned missionary by the name of Reverend Butler but even he proved to be no match for the 31The Review of Religions – June 2007 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES Promised Messiah(as). He had numerous discussions with the Promised Messiah(as). Once in an attempt to demonstrate the sinlessness of Christ,(as) the Reverend asserted that since Jesus(as) was born of a virgin, therefore he would not inherit sin from Adam(as). The Promised Messiah(as) pointed out that Mary had already inherited sin, if there was any. Moreover, since it was Eve who caused Adam(as) to slip and be expelled from Paradise according to Christian teaching, Jesus(as) should have been born without a mother as well to ensure he was sinless. The Reverend had no answer to this and conceded. It should be noted here that by all accounts Reverend Butler took this and other reverses at the hands of the Messiah(as) with dignity. Despite religious differences, he would always treat the Promised Messiah(as) with courtesy and respect. Sadly this was not always the case with many other missionaries as we shall see. As the Promised Messiah’s(as) popularity grew and his prophecies began to be fulfilled, unrest arose among the Christian missionaries. Some had already anticipated his threat and Rev. Imamud Din, Rev Thakar Das and Rev Abdullah Atham began warning people against the growing influence of the Promised Messiah(as) through the pages of Noor Afshan, a Christian newspaper. Then during the first 4 months of 1887 they published a series of articles against the Promised Messiah(as). They asserted the supremacy of Christianity and challenged the Promised Messiah(as) to prove the superiority of Islam (Noor Afshan 30th March 1882). The Promised Messiah(as) had already demonstrated its superiority with the fulfilment of his prophesies. These proved that by following the teachings of Islam he had established a living link with God who would answer his prayers and inform him about the future. At this Padre Fateh Masih also made a similar claim stating that his prayers were also answered 32 The Review of Religions – June 2007 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES by God and he also received the Word of God which contained prophecies about the future. He challenged the Promised Messiah(as) to a duel and suggested that both should declare their prophecies on a set date – 21st May 1888 – and have them published in the ‘Noor Afshan’. The Promised Messiah(as) accepted. However, when the public gathered to hear the prophecies, Fateh Masih started making excuses and failed to make a single prophecy. The Missionary was duly censured in public for making a false claim and humiliated. Padre Fateh Masih did not stop there however. Sometime later he came up with another ruse to establish the superiority of Christianity by attacking the truth of the Promised Messiah’s(as) claim of having a link with the Almighty. He and other missionaries stated that in order to prove the truth of Islam in this way, four questions should be written on a piece of paper in public, sealed and handed over to a person present there. The Promised Messiah(as) should then be asked to reveal the contents of the envelope. The Promised Messiah(as) with one or two minor modifications accepted this but insisted that if he succeeded the Christian mis- sionary, Reverend Stanton1 in particular, would either embrace Islam or pay Rs1,000 in damages to a Muslim organisation (Anjuman Hamayat Islam of Lahore). The challenge was no longer pursued by the Christian Missionaries. VERY OFTEN INFLAMMATORY MEASURES WERE USED TO DENIGRATE ISLAM. THIS WAS PARTICULARLY SO WHEN THE CHRISTIAN FRATERNITY INCLUDING THEIR MISSIONARIES INDULGED IN DEFAMATORY ATTACKS ON THE CHARACTER OF THE HOLY PROPHET OF ISLAM(SAW) AND HIS WIVES. NO ONE LOVED THE HOLY PROPHET(SAW) AS MUCH AS THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AND ANY ATTACK ON THIS BELOVED OF HIS, HURT HIM IMMENSELY. 33The Review of Religions – June 2007 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES This vigorous defence of Islam by the Promised Messiah(as) produced a profound impression upon the Muslim intelligentsia. He was publicly recognised as a Champion of Faith. The Riyaz Hind of Amritsar stated the following in its issue, dated March 1st 1886 ‘The excellent merits and high spiritual accomplish- ments of Mirza Sahib are too great for our humble obser- vations in our journal. The cogent reasons and the brilliant arguments that he has brought forth in support of Islam and Truth in so beautiful a manner show beyond doubt that he has excelled the writings of the old and the new Ulema in eloquence and presentation.’ The same newspaper was to later describe him as the ‘Pride of Islam’ and ‘Chief of Qadian’ (Riyaz Hind, 28th May 1888). As mentioned earlier, the attacks on Islam by Christian missionaries were not always made in a dignified and reasoned manner. Very often inflammatory measures were used to denigrate Islam. This was particularly so when the Christian fraternity including their Missionaries indulged in defamatory attacks on the character of the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw) and his wives. No one loved the Holy Prophet(saw) as much as the Promised Messiah(as) and any attack on this beloved of his, hurt him immensely. He stated: ‘So many books full of vile abuse and defamation of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, have been printed and published the perusal of which makes one’s body tremble. (There were also letters and pamphlets – one from Fateh Masih). Our heart is so much in tribulation that if these people were to slaughter our children before our eyes and were to cut to pieces our sincere and beloved friends and were to kill us with great humiliation and were to take possession 34 The Review of Religions – June 2007 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES of our belongings, we call God to witness that even in such case we would not suffer so much grief and our heart would not be so severely wounded as we have suffered and endured under this abuse and defamation which has been directed against the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.’ (Ayena Kamalat-e-Islam, p.51) It was clear that this menace of simply hurling abuse as a means of attacking Islam had to be stopped. The Promised Messiah(saw) resolved to do this by treating the Missionaries to a taste of their own medicine. Using the Bible and Christian scriptures as a basis, he showed what an ugly caricature these sources painted of one that they, the Christians, revere namely Jesus(as). He subsequently made it clear that he himself had the greatest of respect for Jesus(as) but the figure of Jesus(as) in the Christian scripture was quite different. Such was the impact of this line of defence that the writings debasing the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw) simply declined or stopped altogether. In acknowledging the emphatic defence of Islam shown by the Promised Messiah(as), Christians became extremely wary of dealing with him. For instance the Church Family a paper of the Anglican Church wrote: ‘We should make no attempt to refute the literature published under the auspices of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, for he will create such a volume of literature against Christianity as will destroy the authority of the Bible altogether.’ (Ahmadiyyat Renaissance of Islam, By Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan, p.178) One of the tactics used by the Christian Missionaries in attacking Islam and drawing its followers to Christianity was simply this: Your prophet Muhammad(saw) is buried yet Jesus (as) according to your belief is alive in the heavens. So who is superior – one who has been elevated into the heavens destined to return or one who has been relegated to the ground never to come back? In this respect the Promised Messiah(as) demonstrated with powerful arguments based on the Bible as well as the Holy Qur’an how Jesus Christ(as) had indeed died a natural death and how he (i.e. the Promised Messiah) had been sent in his spirit. In this way he restored dignity to the Holy Prophet(saw) and stemmed the flow of ill-informed Muslims into the fold of Christianity. The Promised Messiah(as) also dealt with attacks on Islam by Christian Missionaries from abroad. One of these was John Alexander Dowie. Scottish by birth, he had founded a city in America and proclaimed to be the forerunner of the second coming of Christ(as) His followers numbered more than 100,000. Full of hatred of Islam, he employed foul abuse against it. In 1902, he published a prophecy that unless Muslims of the world became Christian, they would meet with death and destruction. The Promised Messiah(as) wrote a leaflet in response in which he enumerated the beauties of Islam and said it was quite unnecessary for Dowie to predict and proclaim the destruction of Muslims in the world. He (Hadhrat Mirza Sahib) had been sent by God as the Promised Messiah. So, Dowie could enter into a prayer contest with him. The result of this contest would enable all people of the world to determine the Truth. In December 1903, Dowie openly entered the contest. Within a few months he was struck with paralysis. His followers discovered his secret habit of drinking and he was found to have embezzled several hundred thousand dollars ($1.5m) from the Church. His congregation eventually aban- doned him. He became insane and died virtually alone on 8th March 1907 in ‘great pain and misery’ just as the Promised Messiah(as) had prophesied. This sign was well publicised all over the world. It demonstrated the truth of the Promised Messiah(as) and the truth of Islam. 35 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES The Review of Religions – June 2007 During this period, another Christian Reverend, by the name of John Hugh Piggot, rose to confront the Promised Messiah(as). He was from the UK. Fate, it seems was kinder to him, than it was to Dowie. This is because he only claimed to be the second coming of Christ and did not display the kind of animosity to Islam shown by Dowie. Dowie it should be noted, prayed for the destruction of Islam viz, ‘I pray to God that Islam should soon disappear from the world. O God, accept this prayer of mine. O God, destroy Islam.’ (paper, issued 14th February 1903) and predicted ‘The black-spot on the mantle of man (Islam) will meet its end at the hands of Zion’ (paper issued, 5th August 1903). Reverend Piggot did not make any such declarations. He did, as mentioned above, claim to be the second coming of Christ(as). When the Promised Messiah(as) challenged him about his claim, the Reverend became quiet and retreated to his Somerset home. This did not allow him to escape altogether from the wrath of God. He was disowned by the Church accused of fathering an illegitimate child and died in disgrace in 1927. It should be noted here that when we marvel at the pitiful destruction of Dowie or Piggot it is because it demonstrates a sign from Allah showing the truth of the Promised Messiah(as) and His support for him. Otherwise there is no sense of rejoicing at the dwindling fortunes of Reverends Dowie and Piggott per se. As the Promised Messiah(as) himself 36 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES The Review of Religions – June 2007 IT SHOULD BE NOTED HERE THAT WHEN WE MARVEL AT THE PITIFUL DESTRUCTION OF DOWIE OR PIGGOT IT IS BECAUSE IT DEMONSTRATES A SIGN FROM ALLAH SHOWING THE TRUTH OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AND HIS SUPPORT FOR HIM. stated that he loved all humanity and harboured enmity for no one – he was only the enemy of falsehood. The Promised Messiah(as) engaged in many debates defending the teachings of Islam. Among them was one with Abdullah Atham. Atham was not a formal qualified missionary but a retired civil servant. He had detailed knowledge of the scriptures and the Christian Mission of Amritsar put him up as their champion to defend Christianity and attack Islam. The debate took place in 1893 and lasted from 22 May to 5 June. It was convened at the residence of Dr Henry Martin Clarke. Rules were settled and written papers were exchanged. The proceedings were later published under the title of ‘Jang-e-Muqaddas’or Holy War. The point at issue was the comparative worth of Christianity and Islam. The Messiah’s arguments were so conclusive and compelling that many people joined the ranks of the Jama’at in the course of the debate. It was during the course of these proceedings that Dr Clarke and his cohorts tried to bring ridicule on the Promised Messiah(as). They brought in three people, one of them lame, another blind and a third dumb. They said to the Promised Messiah that since he claimed to have come in the spirit of Jesus(as), he should be able to perform the same miracles as he did and cure the deaf, dumb and blind. The Promised Messiah(as) was extremely astute and sharp. He first stated that it was the Gospels that laid claim to these so-called miracles of Jesus. He never ascribed such miracles to Jesus(as). Moreover, the Promised Messiah(as) said – and this was the key point – these Gospels also stated that if any of his followers had faith as much as a grain of a mustard seed, then they too would be able to heal the sick with their touch and perform much greater miracles. The fact that these three individuals were here provided them ample opportunity to demonstrate their faith and this so-called truth in the Bible. The Missionaries were 37 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES The Review of Religions – June 2007 totally taken aback by this response and quickly motioned to move on. The public had evidently taken note and no wonder several found themselves joining the fold of Islam afterwards. As well as employing such debates and discussions to counter the attacks on Islam and demonstrate its superiority, the Promised Messiah(as) wrote sev- eral pamphlets, leaflets and such books as Izala-e-Auham; Fath-e- Islam, Masih Hindustan Mein, Aina Kamalat-e-Islam and Tauzi- e-Maram – all promoting the truth of Islam and defending it against attacks by Christian missionaries. Occasionally he would receive questionnaires for reply. The Anjuman-i-Hamayat-i-Islam once circulated some objections raised by a Christian Abdulla James. These were responded to in great detail by the Promised Messiah(as) and published. In showing that Jesus(as) was not Divine and had indeed died a natural death the Promised Messiah(as) succeeded in breaking the Cross but as the Promised Messiah(as) was himself at pains to explain, the shattering of the Cross also meant that following his advent technological and scientific progress would rise to such a degree that this erroneous belief would soon be relegated to the pages of history. This has proved to be totally true as with the onset of the 20th and 21st Centuries, belief in the Divinity of Jesus(as) is dwindling and the realisation of his death is increasingly being borne out by modern research. Just recently there have been four inde- pendent researches all pointing to Jesus’(as) survival from the cross and some have even indicated his grave to be in Kashmir just as the Promised Messiah(as) had proved many decades before. It is recorded that in 1935 Dr. W R Mathews Dean of St Paul’s declared at a conference of the Modern Christian Union in Cambridge: ‘I do not believe that more than 20 percent of the people of this country are in any 38 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES The Review of Religions – June 2007 possible sense of the word Christians.’ If this was true then the numbers are a lot lower today. This is a far cry to the discussions all those years ago when the Church Missionary Society had resolved to spread Christianity to the whole of India and are now unable to consolidate its teach- ings among a fraction of its own people. What a transformation has come about with the advent of the Promised Messiah(as)! In examining the defence of Islam by the Promised Messiah(as) against attacks by Christian missionaries there is much that we can learn. For someone who loved Islam and its founder as much as the Promised Messiah(as), these attacks must have caused immense pain and anguish. But in dealing with them, he did not resort to the bullet or the sword. Neither did he take to the streets with placards and violent demonstra- tions. What he did was to take stock of the situation, use his intellect and wisdom, and then counter these attacks through the pen with argument, reason and prayer. Today we too have to face similar attacks on Islam from the likes of Pope Benedict and others, and like the Promised Messiah(as), it is incumbent on us as his followers to do just what he did in such circumstances and resort to the pen and prayer. Only then will we be able to succeed in annihilating such onslaughts made against Islam and guarantee its ultimate success all over the world. May Allah help us do this. Reference 1. Rev. Herbert Udny Weitberecht Stanton PhD, D.D. was District Missionary Batala 1884-1896. The Promised Messiah(as) did not wish to deal with Fateh Masih on account of his previous untrust- worthiness but invited Rev Stanton to step in as an arbitrator. 39 DEFENCE OF ISLAM BY THE PROMISED MESSIAH(AS) AGAINST ATTACKS BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES The Review of Religions – June 2007

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