Jesus (as)

Did Jesus die in Kashmir?

48 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It was immediately after this that Mirza Tahir left Pakistan and came to London. The anti-Ahmadi campaign had included accusations that the movement had kidnapped a well-known mullah, and demanded that Mirza Tahir should be interrogated in connection with this crime. But, he insists, he is not in any sense a fugitive from justice. “As far as the government of Pakistan is concerned, it has not levelled any accusation against me or initiated any inquiries against me, in spite of pressure from the mullahs.” The government, he says, had held a series of inquiries into the alleged kidnapping, each of which “reached a stage where it exonerated me and the community”, but each time the findings were kept secret and a new inquiry was set up. This had been going on for 18 months before Mirza Tahir left Pakistan on April 26 last year. What made him decide to leave he says, was “not any allegation but the ordinance of April 26” which “did not leave any room for any head of the Ahmadi community to remain in Pakistan”. The Ahmadis firmly believe themselves to be Muslims — indeed the only true Muslims, recalled to the essence of Islam by the message of their founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This does not, they say, involve any denial of the Prophet Muhammad’s status as “Seal of the Prophets” (Khatm al- Nabi’in), because Mirza Ghulam did not claim to bring a new revelation of divine law which would replace or supersede the Koran, as the Koran itself is deemed to have superseded the law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus Christ, That being so, it is clearly impossible for the head of the Ahmadi community to discharge his duties without making any public reference to Islam. Yet, under the terms of the ordinance, anyone claiming publicly to be a Muslim is required to declare that he regards Mirza Ghulam as an impostor — something equally impossible for a conscientious Ahmadi to do. Mirza Tahir was thus obliged to leave Pakistan to continue discharging his duties as head of the community. Not that he is a stranger to this country. He studied here in the 1950s at the School of Oriental and African Studies. In this respect there is some similarity to the Ismaili community whose leader, the Aga Khan, studied at Harvard under the great British orientalist Sir Hamilton Gibb. But Ahmadis stress that whereas Ismailis are a very wealthy community whose prosperity derives from commerce, and which does not actively seek converts, the Ahmadi community has relatively small economic resources •— its most distinguished members being public servants such as diplomats or army officers •— but does seek actively to propagate its version of Islam throughout the five continents. Certainly the “London Mosque” in Gressenhall Street is a modest affair, without pretension to rival the glamour of the new Ismaili Centre in South PRESS REPORT 49 Kensington. A larger centre for the Ahmadi community in Britain is now being built at Tilford, Surrey, under the name of “Islamabad” —which may seem provacative, but the Ahmadis were using it as a telegraphic address in 1924, long before the present capital of Pakistan or indeed Pakistan itself, was even on the drawing board. The irony is that in present-day Pakistan it is a crime even to describe any Ahmadi building as a “mosque”. Worse than that, a climate has been created in which mullahs can with impunity describe Ahmadis as enemies of Islam deserving death, and anyone who has a grudge against an individual Ahmadi can take action against him with little fear of legal sanction. Ten prominent Ahmadis have been murdered in Pakistan since April 1983, mostly in the province of Sind, and attempts have been made on the lives of three others. In no case has the assailant been arrested. Last month an anti-Ahmadi conference was held in London. Participants, speaking in Urdu, are said to have described assassination of Ahmadi leaders as a sure way to enter paradise. In a message, President Zia promised to “persevere in our effort to ensure that this cancer is exterminated”. Mirza Tahir has not asked for asylum in Britain. He remains here temporarily — resisting appeals from the growing Ahmadi community in America (particularly among American blacks) for him to make his home there —• because London provides not only religious freedom but also an ideal situation for contact with Pakistan and other countries. He firmly expects to return to Pakistan, hoping that “the ordinance will go overboard with the dictator himself’. Keeping Good Company He (The Holy Prophet) always preferred to keep company with the virtuous and if he observed any weakness in any of his Companions he admonished him gently and in private. Abu Musa Ash’ari relates: “The Holy Prophet illustrated the benefit to be deprived from good friends and virtuous companions and the injury to be apprehended from evil friends and vicious companions by saying: ‘A man who keeps company with virtuous people is like a person who carries about musk with him. If he partakes of it he derives benefit from it; if he sells it he makes a profit out of it and if he merely keeps it he enjoys its perfume. A man who keeps company with evil persons is like one who blows into a charcoal furnace; all that he can expect is that a spark may alight upon his clothes and setthem on fire orthatthe gas emitted by the charcoal may upset his brain.'” He used to say that man’s character takes on the colour of the company he keeps and that therefore one should be careful to spend one’stimeinthecompanyof the good. (Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad) Did Jesus die in Kashmir? (D. K. Dixit) Jesus Christ did not die on the cross, nor did he rise from the dead. Instead, he survived the crucifixion, escaped to Kashmir, lived a full life there, died a natural death and was buried in Rauzabal, Khanyar, a thickly populated locality in the interior of the city of Srinagar. Sounds sacrilegious, sensational and intriguing doesn’t it, this theory that strikes at the very root of the universally nurtured beliefs of about 100 crore Christians of the world? And yet a mass of plausible and apparently incontrovertible evidence has been collected by innovative scholars to buttress and bolster this unusual and incredible thesis in recent years. A German scholar, Andress Faber-Kaiser, in a recent published work, has investigated various facts that shed light on the mysterious aspects of Jesus’s life. The author’s book Jesus Died in Kashmiris meticulously researched, with a barrage of photo-copied manuscripts, translations and detailed notations to substantiate his hypothesis. His dissertation would have been easy to denigrate and dismiss, but for the overwhelming and forbidding documentation he marshalls. Recently an international symposium on this crucial and controversial subject was held in London. In the United States, the new view has triggered off an excited debate with many devout Christians. The theory was first propounded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiyani (1835-1908), the founder of the Ahmediya sect in India, in his book Maseeh Hindustan Main (Jesus in India) published in 1899. The off-beat opinion was further elaborated by Mirza Qadiyani’s followers like Mufti Sadiq (The Grave of Jesus, 1936), Khwaja Nazir Ahmed (Jesus in the Heaven of Earth, 1951) and Maulana Jalauddin Shams (Where Did Jesus Die? 1959). The Ahmedias Mirza Qadiyani was the Maseeh-e-Mauood (the reincarnated Jesus). They do not agree with the Islamic concept of Mohammed being the last prophet, and are declared as non-Muslims in Pakistan. Sir Mohd. Zaferullah Khan, a Pakistani judge of International Court of Justice, also asserted in 1967 that Jesus lived and died in Kashmir and was interred in the shrine at Rauzabal. It is worth noting that Abadul Fazal also addressed Jesus as Yuz and Christ. The Rauzabal mausoleum, the Kashmir Muslims say, enshrines the mortal remains of Yuz Asaf. DID JESUS DEE IN KASHMIR? 51 The iconclastic account of Jesus’s life, if Faber-Kaiser is to be believed, is as follows: After his crucifixion, his wounds healed, Jesus migrated towards the east with his mother Mary and his beloved disciple Thomas. Mary could not survive the rigours of the journey and died at Muree, near Islamabad, on the Rawalpindi—Srinagar route. The town, it is pointed out derives its name from Mary and, till the turn of the last century, was also spelt as such. Thomas travelled to South India where he passed away, spreading the gospel. Sahibzada Basharat Saleem, a resident of Srinagar, even today has in his possession a complete geneological table which traces his direct descent from Jesus Christ. Jesus it is said, died at a ripe old age from natural causes and was buried in the crypt of Rauzabal. The Biblical version of Jesus’ life leaves some questions unanswered. For instance, where was Jesus between the ages of 13 (after he was lost and found in the temple) and 29 when he came out to be baptised by St John? Nicolai Notovich, a Russian traveller who came to India in 1887, has recorded Jesus’s visit to Ladakh and other eastern places in his book Life of Saint Jesus. Exploring the Ladakhi region, he stumbled upon 84,000 scrolls in the Hemis lamasery (monastery) at Leh. These manuscripts contain the biographies of various prophets “of which Isa was but one”. Isa, Yuz, Yuzu, Issa and Yuza are variations of Jesus’s name. “Isa”, Notovich writes, “was born in the country of Israel. . . his parents were poor . . . in order to reward his family for having remained firm in the path of truth, God blessed their first-born and choosehimtohealthosewhoweresuffering. . .whenlsareachedtheageoflS, the time at which an Israelite takes a wife. . .he disappeared secretly from his parent’s house. He abandoned Jerusalem and set out towards Sind.” According to the scrolls, Jesus established himself as a prophet in the land of the five rivers. He then travelled through India, living for six years at Banaras, Jagannathpuri and Rajagriha. People flocked to his sermons, but his preaching of the equality of man enraged the high caste Hindus. Forced to flee to Himalayan regions, and then on to Persia, Jesus returned to Israel at the age of 29. This compelling fascination for India, encouraged Jesus to come back after his crucifixion. It is noteworthy that, contrary to the then prevalent custom, Jesus was not laid in a shallow grave and buried, but was placed in a sepulchre as large as a room, to enable the air to circulate freely and doctors to tend his wounds. The German scholar contends that the first part of Jesus’s mission on earth was to bring truth and the Christian faith to the Israeli people, while the second part was essentially to find the lost tribes of Israel and spread the gospel among them. Faber-Kaiser also attempts to prove that the origins of many people in Afghanistan and Kashmir are really Israelite. He claims to have found a group of people at Yusmarg in Kashmir who call themselves the children of Israel and who venerate Christ’s tomb. They also worship at