Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Prophecies about the advent of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him are met with in earlier sacred books and had great currency among the nations. In fact, those very prophecies might have impelled Jews and Christians to settle down in Arabia; for the land of the Promised Prophet was specified by name in the Scriptures. We would touch upon a few of them.
The Quran asserts that the appearance of the Holy Prophet was foretold by each and all of the foregoing prophets, through whom the covenant was also made with their respective peoples that they would accept him when he made his appearance [The Quran, 3: 81]. The distinguishing feature of the Promised One, they were told, was that he would bear testimony to the truth of all the prophets of the world. It seems that Providence had deemed fit to depute a separate prophet for the reformation of each nation in the days of yore, when the various peoples inhabiting this planet lived in absolute isolation from one another and modern means of communication had not come into existence. To amalgamate the diverse religious systems into one all-comprehensive faith as well as to weld humanity into one universal brotherhood, was sent a prophet with a mission for the whole of mankind. Thus, while on the one hand the happy news of such a world-Prophet was given to each preceding prophet, the Promised one was, on the other, commissioned to testify to the truth of all the foregoing prophets wherever and whenever sent all the world over: "And when Allah made a covenant through the prophets: Certainly what I have given you of the Book and Wisdom - then a Messenger comes to you verifying that which is with you, you shall believe in him and you shall aid him.... [The Quran, 3:81]"
There is only one Messenger in the whole world and that is Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) - who answers to this description. His description of the faithful runs thus: "And who believe in that which has been revealed to thee and that which was revealed before thee.... [The Quran, 2:4]" It goes further still and asserts that a prophet was raised in every nation: "There is not a people but a warner has gone among them. [The Quran, 35:24]" On another occasion it says that it makes mention of some of the prophets while there are others who have not been expressly spoken of [The Quran, 4:164]. So the Holy Prophet Muhammad stands out unique from both these view-points: on the one hand, the predictions of all his predecessors find due fulfilment in his person; while, on the other, he alone out of all the prophets has made it a binding article of faith to believe in all the prophets of the world. Thus, he is the last of that noble band of prophets, as foretold by all his predecessors.
Then reference is made to Ishmael by name, in the same book of Genesis: "And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. [Genesis, 17:20]"
No one of the Israelite prophets that followed Moses in a long succession down to Jesus ever claimed to be the prophet promised in this prophecy. And for obvious reasons Moses' successors, who came only to fulfil his law, could not be like unto him. The prophecy was of common knowledge among the Jews who expected, generation after generation, a prophet like unto Moses. This is amply borne out by the conversation that passed between John the Baptist and those who came to ask him: "Who art thou?" And he confessed: "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, what then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that Prophet? And he answered: No. [John, I: 19-21], This shows positively that the Jews were in expectation of the appearance of three different prophets. Firstly, Elias, who, they thought, was to reappear in person; secondly, the Christ; and thirdly, a prophet of such universal fame that in his case, no further specification was thought necessary - "that Prophet" was enough to convey who was meant. Such was the household currency which Moses' prophecy concerning a prophet like unto him had gained among the Jews. It is thus evident that just before the appearance of Jesus, the Jews were in expectation of three prophets, as foretold in their scriptures.
Now two of these prophecies were fulfilled in the persons of Jesus and John, the one claiming to be the Christ and the other to have been sent in the spirit of Elias. But neither laid claim to be the Promised Prophet like unto Moses. Nor did any of those who accepted them identify them as such: With Jesus, the chain of prophethood among the Israelites came to an end. Thus, the prophecy of Deuteronomy regarding a prophet like unto Moses remained unfulfilled so far as the Israelites were concerned. Turning to the history of the world, we find that no other prophet except Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ever claimed to be the Prophet foretold by Moses, and no other sacred book but the Quran ever pointed to anyone as fulfilling the prophecy. Facts also bear out the same conclusion. Moses was a lawgiver and so was Muhammad, peace be upon them. Among the Israelite prophets who succeeded Moses, no one brought a new law. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, being the only law-giving Prophet, was thus the only Prophet like unto Moses. The Quran says: "Surely We have sent to you a Messenger.. as We sent a Messenger to Pharaoh. [The Quran, 73: 15]" Again, it invites the attention of the Jews to the prophecy in Deuteronomy in these words: "A witness from among the Children of Israel has borne witness of one like him ... [The Quran, 46:10]" The words of the prophecy, "from among their brethren," throw further light on the fact that the Promised Prophet was to come, not from among the Israelites themselves but from among their brethren, the Ishmaelites.
A third prophecy in equally clear terms is met with in the same book - Deuteronomy. It says: "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came forth with ten thousands of saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them. [Deuteronomy, 33: 2]"
"Coming from Sinai" refers to the appearance of Moses, while "rising up from Seir" refers to the conquest of Seir by David. Now Paran is admittedly the ancient name for the land of Hijaz, where arose Muhammad (peace and blessings of Ally be upon him) from among the descendants of Ishmael. The words "he came forth with ten thousands of saints" point still more unmistakably to the identity of the person to whom they refer. The Holy Prophet Muhammad of all the world-heroes, is the one solitary historical personage whose triumphal entry into Makkah with ten thousand saintly followers, is an event of common knowledge. The law he gave to the world is to this day known as baida (shining), for it throws full light on all matters pertaining to the religious, moral and social welfare of man. And it is to this that allusion is made in the words, "from his right hand went a fiery law for them."
In the first place the word Arabia is by itself significant enough. Then the mention of one who fled sheds still further light on the object of the prophecy. The history of the world records but one such flight that has won the importance of a red-letter event - the flight of the Holy Prophet Muhammad from Makkah. It is from this point of time that the Muslim era commences; for it marked, in fact, the opening of a new chapter in the history of Islam - indeed in the civilisation of the world. A yet clearer testimony, however, is contained in the words, "he fled from drawn swords." History confirms that the Holy Prophet Muhammad fled from Makkah while his house was surrounded by blood-thirsty enemies with drawn swords ready to fall upon him in a body as soon as he came out. One will in vain turn the pages of history to find another instance of flight which resulted in issues so far-reaching and momentous, or another prophet who ran for his life through drawn swords. These two authoritative facts of history, supplemented by a direct mention of the land of Arabia as the birth-place of the Promised Prophet, furnished an indisputable clue that the prophecy refers to the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
Again: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things. [John, 14:26]"
And again: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you. [John, 16:17]"
Yet again: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. [John, 16:12,13]"
All these prophetic words predict in unequivocal terms the advent of another prophet after Jesus. The terms of the prophecy do not warrant the conclusion that they are applicable to the Holy Ghost. "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" are words too clear to need any comment. The New Testament says that John was filled with the Holy Ghost even before he was born. Then it speaks of Jesus himself as receiving the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove. Thus, the Holy Ghost used to visit men before the time of Jesus as well as in his own time. To what is then the reference made in the words, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you?" Surely not to the Holy Ghost; for it is almost sacrilegious to think that Jesus was without the Holy Ghost. Genuine reverence for Jesus requires that we should recognise even his disciples, purified as they were at the hands of their great Master, to have been pure enough to merit the company of the Holy Ghost. The Quran, at least, credits the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad with such company in clear terms: "These are they in whose hearts He has impressed faith and strengthened them with a Spirit from Himself. [The Quran, 58:22]"
The words "Holy Ghost" which have also been used in the prophecy, if not an interpolation, are intended to be taken that the Promised one would have such an inseparable union with the Holy Ghost that his advent might be taken, metaphorically of course, as the coming of the Holy Ghost itself. There are other words in the prophecy which are applicable only to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The characteristic features set forth in the prophecy are found one and all in him. "That he may abide with you forever" indicates that there would be no prophet after the Promised one. This is exactly what the Quran says of the Holy Prophet Muhammad: "The seal of the Prophets. [The Quran, 33:40]" Again, "He shall teach you all things," says the prophecy. The same is in the Quran about the dispensation of the Holy Prophet Muhammad: "This day have I perfected for you your religion. [The Quran, 33:40]" Then the Promised one is called the Spirit of Truth in the prophecy, which is also confirmed by the Quran in the words: "The Truth has come and falsehood vanished. [The Quran 17:81]"
The Holy Prophet's
Abd al-Muttalib's mother came of the Banu Najjar, which tribe thus stood in the relation of maternal ancestors to the Holy Prophet. Abd al-Muttalib begot ten sons, noteworthy among them being Abu Lahab who was the arch-leader of the opposition to the Holy Prophet, Abu Talib who brought him up, Hamzah who was among the earliest converts and fell at the battle of Uhud, Abbas who though a long time outside the pale of Islam, yet remained very affectionate to the Holy Prophet and Abd Allah, his father. The latter was married to Aminah, daughter of Wahb ibn Abd Manaf, of the Zuhrah family. The couple was pre-eminent not only in respect of the nobility of their families, but for what stood for greater distinction in that age of darkness and corruption, they both possessed pure and sublime characters.
A few days after the nuptials, Abd Allah undertook a commercial journey to Syria. On his way back he fell ill and passed away at Madinah. The Holy Prophet was thus a posthumous child. Monday, the 12th of Rabial-Awwal is his commonly accepted birth-date. According to another research, it is the 9th of the same month as corresponding to the 20th of April 571 of the Christian era. Before his birth, his mother received the happy news in a vision. It transpires from certain sayings of the Holy Prophet that he was given the name Muhammad by his grandfather and Ahmad by his mother, each in accordance with a vision. He has been spoken of in the Quran by both of these names [The Quran, 61:6; 3:144; 33:40; 48:29]. He himself is reported on trustworthy authority to have said: "I am Muhammad as well as Ahmad." In poetical compositions too, he was addressed by both names.
Abrahah's Attack on
On the death of his mother, charge of the child fell to his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib. Barely two years had elapsed, however, when this patronage was also snatched away by death. Thus he was eight years old when his guardianship passed to his uncle, Abu Talib. From his very childhood he possessed the virtues which won him the deep affection of Abu Talib. Whosoever came in contact with him, even at that early age, was impressed by his ways and manners. Abu Talib kept him in his own company and took him out wherever he went. As reading and writing were almost unknown in Arabia, there being only rare exceptions, the Holy Prophet had no book-learning. When he was twelve years of age, Abu Talib undertook a trading mission to Syria. The nephew was so attached to his uncle that he could not bear the idea of such a long separation and was consequently allowed to accompany him on that long journey. It was during this journey that he is said to have met a Christian anchorite called Bahirah. Beholding the boy, so goes the story, Bahirah could discern in his face marks of his future greatness and he advised Abu Talib to take good care of him, for he would some day be the recipient of a Divine Call.
Protection of the Weak:
At this early age, the Holy Prophet's integrity had already won household fame in the town of Makkah. He was commonly known as Al-Amin - the Faithful. The epithet does not imply honesty in money matters alone but is all-comprehensive, denoting righteousness in every form. Whosoever happened to have any dealings with him at this period never ceased to praise him all his life. It was about this time that the necessity arose for the reconstruction of the sacred house of Kabah. The requisite material being provided, the Quraish jointly undertook the work. In the course of construction a serious dispute arose as to who should have the proud privilege of laying the Black Stone. This might have resulted in the outbreak of inter-tribal feuds and the consequent destruction of a number of families, had not a hoary-headed elder advised arbitration. Whoever, he suggested, should be the first to appear at the Kabah the following day should be accepted as a judge to decide the point at issue. The proposal was unanimously agreed to. All were eagerly awaiting the next morning, when lo, to the satisfaction of all, none other than Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was the first to appear. "Here is al-Amin. Here is al-Amin!" all shouted with one voice. And the general confidence in him was fully justified. Taking a sheet of cloth, he placed the Black Stone thereon with his own hands. Then he invited principal men from every clan to hold the sheet by the four ends and thus equally share in the honour of lifting the stone into position. He thus averted what might have developed into a terrible conflagration of internecine warfare. He was then thirty-five years of age.
The Holy Prophet was greatly attached to Khadijah and often remembered her in affectionate terms, even after her death. Once when he was speaking highly of her, A'ishah put him a pert question. Had not God given him, in herself, - she asked - a better substitute for Khadijah? "No," replied the Holy Prophet "she accepted me at a time when others rejected me." He was devoted heart and soul to Khadijah for her moral excellences. Although he freely spent of her wealth in the way of God, Khadijah never rejected his recommendation for spending her riches on charitable purposes. She purchased a slave for the Holy Prophet but was only too pleased when the latter set him free. Zaid, the well-known companion of the Holy Prophet who himself had once been a slave, was also liberated through Khadijah's generosity. When the Call came, the Holy Prophet was weighed down with the sense of onerous responsibility, and was diffident as to his ability to carry out the charge entrusted to him. Khadijah, at this moment, cheered up his distressed mind with the encouraging words: "God will never let thee see the humiliation of failure. Verily, thou showest due regard for blood-ties, carriest the burden of the infirm, practisest virtues that are extinct, entertainest guests and standest by what is righteous in the face of calamities." This shows how deeply Khadijah was impressed with the virtues and human sympathy of the Holy Prophet. This, in fact, was the cause of the deep love between husband and wife. Both were imbued with a profound sense of human sympathy. No one knows better the ways of a man than his own wife, who is in a position to have free access to the innermost recesses of his heart. The fact, therefore, that Khadijah had such implicit faith in the Holy Prophet furnishes indisputable testimony to the unimpeachable integrity of his character. The most hostile critic cannot in the face of this evidence dare throw suspicion on the Holy Prophet's sincerity. An impostor cannot possibly command the whole-hearted devotion of one so privy to his secrets.
One of the most precious gems in his character was his deep sympathy for the poor, the helpless, orphans and widows. He would exert his utmost to see to their needs. As regards this virtue, friend and foe were at one in admiring him. Khadijah's consolatory words to him bear testimony to this same trait of his character. Abu Talib gave it as an argument why he must defend him against his enemies. His participation in the Hiff al-Fudul, an alliance formed with the express object of championing the cause of the oppressed, testifies to his solicitude for the weak. Sympathy for the poor, the helpless, orphans and widows was, in short, ingrained in his very nature. The teachings of the Quran clearly lay it down as the very essence of religion to look after the orphan and the helpless. Whoever discards the orphan or does not prompt others to feed the poor is spoken of as belying religion itself [The Quran, 107:1-3]. The loftiest summit of human dignity consists in tending the orphan and the poor [The Quran, 90:11-16]. Whosoever does not show respect to the orphan has been threatened with degradation. National decadence follows as a matter of course where neglect of the orphan and the poor prevails [The Quran, 89:17,18].
We learn from the account of the Holy Prophet's early life that he was, from his very childhood, possessed of the highest order of modesty and gravity. He was not given to the boyish frivolities characteristic of his age. Abu Talib, speaking of him to Abbas, bears testimony to this effect: "I have never seen him tell a lie, indulge in jests and vulgarity, or mix with street boys." Warfare was the favourite pastime in the Arabia of his days, but by his very nature he held it in aversion. At the battle of Fijar he did not go beyond supplying arrows and other fighting material to his uncles. Superstitions of all sorts, rampant in the country, were repugnant to his nature. He abhorred idol-worship from his very youth. On a certain occasion when conversation turned upon the chief Arab idols, the Lat and the Uzza, he observed that he held nothing in greater detestation than idolatry. He would never participate in the observation of the polytheistic rites of his day. He refused to partake of the meal intended as an offering to an idol.
His heart ached within him at the fallen state of humanity. A burning desire to elevate degraded fellow beings and bring them round to the path of righteousness agitated his bosom. He would often retire to the cave of Hira and fervently pray to God, shedding tears, for the regeneration of mankind.