Farhan Iqbal, Canada
Recently, Adnan Rashid, someone who studies Islam and frequents Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park in London, has engaged with two Ahmadi Muslim Imams and pointed to certain writings of the Promised Messiah (as) which he finds objectionable. On the one hand, he claims to be respectable and calls Ahmadis his ‘brothers in humanity.’ On the other hand, he vehemently attacks the Promised Messiah (as), makes false allegations against him and accuses him of being ‘obsessed’ with foul language. What is more is that in these recent interactions he rarely allowed the Ahmadi Muslims to explain or respond to the allegations, without constant interjections and trying to force the Ahmadis to give a specific answer to his questions.
Another tactic he employed was Gish galloping where he presented a list of quotations from the writings of the Promised Messiah (as), initially without references, and claiming them all to be ‘swear words’ in order to give the false impression that the Promised Messiah (as) used this language constantly and generally about Muslims.
Although a lot could be said on his allegations, this article explains the context within which certain language is used by the Promised Messiah (as), elaborates the difference between insult and strong language and takes a closer look at the quotations presented by Adnan Rashid.
I. Placing Strong Language in Context
The fact is that the Promised Messiah (as) never used strong language for any decent and respectable Muslim or non-Muslim. This includes respectable scholars from among the Muslims and non-Muslims. Opponents of Ahmadiyyat have always tried to give the impression that the Promised Messiah (as) constantly used harsh language for everyone. This is an outright lie and completely false! Based on this fact alone, it is much harder to trust the intentions of Adnan Rashid and others like him who make such allegations. The Promised Messiah (as) writes:
لَیْسَ کَلَامُنَا ھٰذَا فِی اَخْیَارِھِمْ بَلْ فِیْ اَشْرَارِھِمْ
‘I do not use strong language in regards to the decent ulema among them. Instead, (my use of strong language) pertains to the mischievous ulema from among them.’.1 Similarly, he writes:
نَعُوْذُ بِاللّٰہِ مِنْ ھَتْکِ الْعُلَمَاءِ الصَّالِحِیْنَ، وَ قَدْحِ الشُّرَفَاءِ الْمُھَذَّبِیْنَ، سَوَاءً کَانُوْا مِنَ المُسْلِمِیْنَ اَوِ الْمَسِیْحِیِیْنَ اَوِ الآرِیَةِ
‘We seek refuge with Allah from insulting the righteous ulema [scholars], and the respected elders, whether they are from among the Muslims or the Christian or the Aryas.’2
Again, he writes:
صرف وہی لوگ ہمارے مخاطب ہیں خواہ وہ بگفتن مسلمان کہلاتے یا عیسائی ہیں جو حدّ اعتدال سے بڑھ گئے ہیں اور ہماری ذاتیات پر گالی اور بدگوئی سے حملہ کرتے یا ہمارے نبی کریم صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم کی شانِ بزرگ میں توہین اور ہتک آمیز باتیں منہ پر لاتے اور اپنی کتابوں میں شائع کرتے ہیں۔ سو ہماری اس کتاب اور دوسری کتابوں میں کوئی لفظ یا کوئی اشارہ ایسے معزز لوگوں کی طرف نہیں ہے جو بدزبانی اور کمینگی کے طریق کو اختیار نہیں کرتے۔
‘Only those people are the addresses (of strong language)—whether they are Muslims or Christians—who are extremists, and they use foul language regarding my personal affairs, or they use and publish derogatory language in regards to the high station of the Holy Prophet (sa) in their books. Hence, there is not a single word or even an indication in my books in regards to those respectable individuals who do not adopt the way of foul language or indecency.’3
Explaining this further, he once said:
‘I have only ever sternly addressed my opponents in order to purge them of arrogance. This is not an act of retaliation for harsh words; rather, it is a bitter pill meant to cure them—as the proverb has it: اَلْحَقُّ مُرٌّ (The truth is bitter).’4
Hence, the strong language used by the Promised Messiah (as) in a handful of instances is in response to those who attacked the Holy Prophet (sa) or him and his family in the vilest manner. It is also important to remember that when the Promised Messiah (as) used some strong language, it was because the Qur’an gave him the right to do so, as Allah says:
لَا یُحِبُّ اللّٰہُ الۡجَھْرَ بِالسُّوۡٓءِ مِنَ الۡقَوۡلِ اِلَّا مَنۡ ظُلِمَ
‘Allah likes not the uttering of unseemly speech in public, except on the part of one who is being wronged’ (The Holy Qur’an, 4:149).
The language of the Promised Messiah (as) as a victim of heinous attacks of his opponents, addressed to the same opponents and not to the general public, are perfectly acceptable in light of this Qur’anic injunction. In fact, accusing the Promised Messiah (as) of doing something wrong would directly go against this Quranic injunction and be seen as an allegation on the Qur’an, and not the writings of the Promised Messiah (as).
What is more is that the Promised Messiah (as) used language that is not much different from the language that the Holy Prophet (sa) used in regards to the ulema who were prophesied to oppose the Promised Messiah (as), as he said:
عُلَمَآءُھُمْ شَرُّ مَنْ تَحْتَ اَدِیْمِ السَّمَآءِ
‘Those ulema will be the worst creatures under the canopy of the heavens.’ In other words, if there are people of illegitimate birth under heaven, these ulema will be worse than them.
II. Difference between Insult and Strong Language
Having established the context of harsh language, it is also important to understand that there is a difference between insulting a person and using strong language. When God Almighty or His Prophet (sa) use strong language, it is meant to state something truthfully about the state of being of their opponents. It is not meant as an insult. In contrast to this, when a person uses foul language with ill-intent, that person is trying to state something false and incorrect about the person who is being insulted. Hence, when we consult the Qur’an, we see that it also uses strong language to describe the state of being of the disbelievers:
عُتُلٍّ بَعۡدَ ذٰلِکَ زَنِیۡمٍ
‘Ill-mannered and, in addition to that, of doubtful birth.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 68:14)
When this verse was quoted by the Ahmadi Imam, Adnan Rashid and others on the livestream asked what the dictionaries state about the word ‘zaneem,’ which was a strange deflection. When Lane’s Lexicon is consulted for this purpose, it states that this term means, ‘The son of an adulteress or a fornicatress.’ Similarly, in Lisanul Arab, it is stated:
وَالزَّنِیْمُ ولد الْعَیْھَرَة
‘zaneem refers to the son of a prostitute.’ Adnan Rashid evaded this meaning and then went on a rant suggesting that no one has the right to call a chaste lady a ‘prostitute.’ This was another deflection, because neither the Qur’an nor the writings of the Promised Messiah (as) suggest that the mothers of the opponents are being insulted.
The word zaneem has been used in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Qalam (Chapter 68) referring to some of the opponents of the Holy Prophet (sa). It refers to a person who does not belong to a group but claims to be part of that group. By extension, it means that the opponents of the Holy Prophet (sa) are supposed to be men of God (or belong to God) but they instead try to become men of Satan (or associate themselves with Satan or their idols).
In other words, the Qur’an is not literally insulting the mothers of such individuals, as some of their mothers had possibly passed away even before the message of Islam reached them. Instead, the Quran is pointing to their spiritual condition which has become illegitimate, in the sense that they turn to Satan and follow Satanic ways instead of connecting with their true Creator. Hence, whenever the Promised Messiah (as) uses the same phrase—whether in Arabic or Urdu—he uses it with the spiritual meaning in mind, just as the Qur’an has done.
III. A Closer Look at the Writing
Now, let us turn to the writing that Adnan Rashid has pointed out. It is from Aina Kamalaat-e-Islam, as follows:
کُلُّ مُسْلِمٍ ۔۔۔ یَقْبِلُنِیْ وَ یُصَدِّقُ دَعْوَتِیْ اِلَّا ذُرِّیَّةَ الْبَغَایَا
It means, ‘All Muslims accept me and attest to the truthfulness of my claims, except the zurriyyatul baghaya’.5First of all, it should be remembered that the word for exception (illaa) is sometimes used in a way that it does not refer to the exception from the group of people mentioned prior to it. For instance, it is stated in the Qur’an, ‘So the angels submitted, all of them together, except (illaa) Iblis’ (The Holy Qur’an, 15:31-32). Iblis is clearly not an angel as the Qu’ran states that he is from among the Jinn (The Holy Qur’an, 18:51). Hence, the exception of Iblis does not mean that he was from among the angels. In the same way, the Promised Messiah (as) makes the exception of the zurriyyatul baghaya not from among the Muslims, but from among the non-Muslims. In other words, he is stating that the Muslims accept him and even praise his invitation to Islam that he extends to non-Muslims, but those among the non-Muslims who are the zurriyyatul baghaya do not accept him.
Secondly, the phrase zurriyatul baghaya is not used in a literal sense. This is similar to the usage of the Quran in reference to the opponents of the Prophet (sa) as zaneem implying that their spiritual condition is such that they have become children of Satan. These are idioms of the Qur’an and writings of a Prophet of God which have nothing to do with the language that is used by ignorant people on the streets. It is strange that Adnan Rashid and others on the livestream were suggesting that Ahmadis use the same phrases on the streets of Pakistan and see how the people will react. There is a clear difference between the idiomatic language of the Qur’an and Prophets of God and the language that is used colloquially on the streets. It is absolutely ridiculous and absurd to compare the two, and quite a disingenuous suggestion on the part of Adnan Rashid.
Thirdly, the Promised Messiah (as) explains his usage in the next phrase which states:
اَلَّذِیْنَ خَتَمَ اللّٰہُ عَلیٰ قُلُوْبِھِمْ
‘Those whose hearts are sealed.’ In other words, the zurriyyatul baghaya are those whose hearts are sealed, as if they are children of Satan or followers of Satan or born out of sin. This condition of theirs has nothing to do with the condition of their mothers. Furthermore, in another book, the Promised Messiah (as) uses a similar phrase ibn bagha and translates it himself as ‘arrogant person.’ He is consistently clear that his usage is idiomatic and refers to the spiritual condition of the opponent and not to his physical condition or birth. It is bizarre and strange to think that this has anything to do with the physical birth of the opponents of the Promised Messiah (as).
Therefore, it is absolutely false to presume that the street language used by ignorant people is the one being used by the Promised Messiah (as). Wherever the Promised Messiah (as) has used such terms, it is the same kind of usage that the Holy Qur’an has. That is, it refers to the deplorable spiritual condition of those people who go against the teachings of God Almighty and attach themselves to Satan.
About the Author:Farhan Iqbal is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada. He graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institue of Languages and Theology in Canada and is currently serving as Imam of the Baitun Naseer Mosque, Ottawa, Canada. Imam Farhan has represented the Community in various interfaith events, radio programs discussing various matters of faith, and is co-host of the podcast The Conviction Project. He has also hosted several live and recorded programs on MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya). He has co-authored 3 books, namely, Understanding Islam, The Quest of a Curious Muslim and With Love to Muhammadsa, the Khatam-un-Nabiyin.
- Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 314
- Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 16, p. 409
- Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 14, p. 228
- Malfuzat, English Translation, vol. 1, p. 7
- Ruhani Khazain, vol. 5, p. 547-548