Munir-Ud-Din Shams is the Additional Wakilut Tasneef (Director of Translations/Publications) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. We interviewed him to ask about the recent publication of the English translation of the first and second parts of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, the first ever book written by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as).
Can you describe the circumstances surrounding the publication of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya?
The circumstances in which Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian(as) starting writing Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya were as follows: The religion of Islam was being attacked from all sides, so much so that the Christians claimed that a time was approaching when they would enter Makkah. In 1851, the number of Christians in India was approximately 91,000 and just within 30 years, by 1881, their numbers increased to 470,000. So you can envisage the rapid progress of the Christians. At the time, Muslims were either unable to defend Islam, or incapable of providing convincing arguments in support of the religion of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). Having received guidance from God Almighty, the Promised Messiah(as) wrote Barahin –e-Ahmadiyya. Initially he resolved to write 50 volumes with 300 arguments proving the Divine origins of the Holy Qur’an and the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). The first and second volumes were published in 1880. The third volume was published in 1882, and the fourth volume was written in 1884 and fifth in 1905.
What were the reasons for writing such a book?
The Promised Messiah(as) has explained himself the reason why he started writing Barahin–e–Ahmadiyya at the outset of the book:
“I would now like to make it clear to all seekers after truth that this book, entitled al-Barahinul-Ahmadiyya ‘ala Haqqiyyate Kitabillahil-Qur’an wan-Nubuwwatil-Muhammadiyyah, has been written so that everyone is made cognizant of the arguments for the truth of Islam and the divine origin of the Holy Qur’an,and of the grounds for the truthfulness and Prophethood of Hadhrat Khaatamul-Anbiyaa’ [the Seal of the Prophets], may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This book is also intended to confound and silence, on the basis of rational arguments, all those who deny the unassailable Faith of Islam, the Holy Book [Holy Qur’an] and the Exalted Prophet , so that in future no one may have the temerity to attack Islam. This book consists of a challenge, a preface, [the main text in]four chapters, and an epilogue. May God make it a source of blessings for seekers after truth and guide its readers to His true religion.Amin.” (pp.45-46).
The Promised Messiah(as) then challenged the followers of certain faiths to present similar arguments he was using in this book, to prove the truthfulness of their own religions:
“I hereby offer a reward of 10,000 rupees to all those who can prove that their scriptures are equal to the Holy Qur’an in respect of all the arguments and incontrovertible proofs, which I have adduced from the Holy Book; or, in case their scriptures fail to provide such arguments, make an admission of this failure in their books and try, at least, to refute all of my arguments one by one.” (p.46).
Following this, the Promised Messiah(as) also challenged the followers of all other faiths and said:
“It is addressed as a challenge and as the completion of proof against all the elders of various religions and creeds who do not believe in the truth of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophethood of Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa [the Chosen One], may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.”(p.47).
This demonstrates how confident he was that no one would be able to present arguments to equal those that proved the truthfulness of the Holy Qur’an.
Can you briefly describe the contents of this book?
There are basically two over-arching arguments in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya that the Promised Messiah(as) has given in all five volumes. The first is about the wonderful teachings of Islam and the Holy Qur’an, which are matchless, and the second is the direct connection with Allah the Almighty and the miracles shown by the Promised Messiah(as) and the Holy Prophet(saw). Even if someone were to say that the teachings of their religion are comparable to the teachings of Islam or the Holy Qur’an, they could not say the same about the miracles, prophecies and true dreams that the Promised Messiah(as) saw, which he mentioned in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. No one can match that or use similar arguments! I would say that this was the real ‘weapon’ for proving the truthfulness of the living religion of Islam and the Holy Prophet(saw). The other books that were written in favour of Islam at the time of the Promised Messiah(as) were written keeping in mind a particular sect of Islam, or a particular religion, because at the time, it was not thought that Islam should be defended in comparison to all other religions. The Promised Messiah(as) kept in mind all faiths and has given arguments in favour of Islam and the Holy Prophet(saw), keeping this in view. This is why Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya is a superior book compared to all others on this topic; its foundation being the living miracles and prophecies.
Are there any common links between the volumes?
All of the volumes are linked together in their content and arguments. In volumes 1 and 2, the Promised Messiah(as) has given the background of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, the purpose of his writing it and the circumstances in which he was going to write the book. He mentioned his challenge to anyone who could write a comparable book to Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya and the reward of Rs10,000 for one who accepts this challenge. In these volumes, there are also Persian and Urdu poems in praise of the religion of Islam, the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet(saw). In volumes 3 and 4, there are very detailed arguments and proofs in support of Islam, the Holy Prophet(saw) and Holy Qur’an and some prophecies are also mentioned. Volume 5 expands on all of these topics and the author has presented various prophecies which were mentioned in previous volumes and had been fulfilled.
What was the critical reaction to the book?
The first 4 volumes of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya were very positively received by the majority of Muslims, since at the time they themselves were unable to defend Islam. As mentioned before, Islam was being attacked by all religions. Thus Muslims were delighted and started using Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya in their Dars (religious sermons/lectures), debates and arguments and were delighted by its publication. Maulawi Muhammad Hussain Batalawi, a very famous Muslim leader at the time, wrote a wonderful review of 200 pages in favour of all four volumes! He said it was his opinion that the challenge of the Promised Messiah(as)included proved the steadfastness and courage of the author also that complete arguments were entailed within. He said that as no one had risen up and written against the arguments entailed in the book, it proved that the others did not have full faith in their own scriptures. He went on to state that it was his view, without exaggeration, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, in light of the current circumstances, was such an excellent book which until today has no parallel in Islam.
The famous writer and Editor of a well-known Muslim newspaper, Manshoore Muhammadi, Mr Muhammad Shareef Banglori, wrote a marvellous review of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. He quoted the Qur’anic verse that indeed truth has come, and falsehood has vanished…and then wrote that it had been his keen desire that from amongst the Muslim scholars someone should write a book in the context of the current circumstances to present rational arguments that the Qur’an is the Word of God and proving the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet(saw). He said that with the Grace of God, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya was that very book which he had longed desired someone to write. He said it was incredible and brilliant book and every single aspect of the religion of Truth was proved by it. He was so overwhelmed by the excellence of this book that in one part of his review he said he would add a further 1000 rupees on top of the challenge of the Promised Messiah(as), in support of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. Many similar kinds of reviews, acclaiming the book, were written after the Promised Messiah(as) wrote the first four volumes.It is well worth reading the full reviews. Two have very briefly been mentioned here. All the reviews demonstrate just how much impact Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya had upon both the Muslims in general and also the Muslims scholars in particular.
What was the immediate impact of the book?
The progress of the Christians was almost immediately halted and so Muslims, particularly in India, thought that the victory of Islam was imminent. The followers of any other religion could not defend their religion. That is why they tried their level best to stop the spreading of the message of the Promised Messiah(as) by raising false allegations against him and using other ploys such as taking him to court under false accusations. However, they failed and Islam spread rapidly, especially in the sub-continent.
There are some common allegations raised against Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. What do you have to say regarding them?
Allegation – The Promised Messiah(as) claimed that Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya was superior to the Holy Qur’an
Nowhere in all 5 volumes of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya or any of the Promised Messiah(as)’s books for that matter, has he said that Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyais superior to the Holy Qur’an. All his writings and arguments are based on the Holy Qur’an. At the outset of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya he explains that the whole purpose was to prove the superiority of the Holy Qur’an and truthfulness of the Holy Prophet(saw). How could he think it is superior when he has derived his arguments from the Holy Qur’an? Therefore the Holy Qur’an is the only book he followed and is the source of all the writings of the Promised Messiah(as).
Allegation – There were only 5 volumes written, when the Promised Messiah(as) promised 50.
Interestingly, the Promised Messiah(as) has written about the topic of 50 and 5, and that the same numbers were mentioned by the Holy Prophet(saw). The Hadith from Bukhari (Kitab us Salaat)states that on the day of ascension, on the advice of Hadhrat Musa(as)(Moses),the Holy Prophet(saw) requested Allah the Almighty to reduce the number of the prescribed daily prayers for the Muslims, which were originally 50. On his repeated pleas, Allah the Almighty reduced them to 5. The exact wording is,“These are 5 and these are 50”. This is exactly what the Promised Messiah(as) wrote about the volumes of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. In Mishkaat Kitabus Salaat after mentioning the Hadith of the Mi’raaj: “Here are 5 prayers, and for each prayer there are 10,” which means these are 50. Thus the Holy Prophet(saw) has said exactly the same as what the Promised Messiah(as) has written; 5 and 50. So according to Allah’s directives the Promised Messiah(as) wrote five volumes which are full of convincing arguments for the truthfulness of the Holy Qur’an and of Islam. These arguments were sufficient to silence the enemy and (circumstances changed) Allah had appointed HadhratMirza Ghulam Ahmad as the awaited Imam Mahdi and the Promised Messiah. He wrote more than 80 books in total all in support and to prove the truthfulness of the Holy Qur’an and Islam, and so the real purpose was fulfilled.
Why was there such a long gap in the writing of Volume 5 after the first four volumes?
We should remember that nobody else was able to defend their religion the way in which the Promised Messiah(as) defended the religion of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). When he completed and published 4 volumes, he was commissioned by God as a Prophet of God; the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. He became engaged in writing other books to prove the supremacy of Islam and the Holy Prophet(saw) and that the Holy Qur’an was revealed, word for word, by Allah the Almighty. He ended up writing more than 80 books on various topics, but he was unable to write 50 volumes, as he had originally intended. In 1905, he wrote the fifth volume of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, in which he mentioned that although he had previously intended to write more volumes, it was the Will of God that he was not able to do so. Another reason he gave was that the Promised Messiah(as) mentioned so many prophecies in the first four volumes that unless those were fulfilled, they could not be counted as proof of the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet(saw) and the Holy Qur’an and so it was necessary for him to wait for their fulfilment in 1905 before he wrote volume 5. By using the fulfilment of these prophecies as a proof, it showed that the religion of Islam is from God and is the only practicable religion; that the Holy Prophet(saw) was from God and that every word of the Holy Qur’an was sent from Allah the Almighty. It was also proof that God Almighty exists.
Interview conducted by: Amer Safir
Audio Recording/Technical Support: Sami Ullah