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Books Section > by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian > A Correction of an Error [Ek Ghalti ka Izala] by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib > Commentary (#1) of: 'A Correction of an Error (Ek Ghalati Ka Izala)' -- by Sheikh Muhammad Tufail Sahib

Commentary (#1) of --
A Correction of an Error
(Ek Ghalati Ka Izala):

by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian
by Sheikh Muhammad Tufail Sahib
Taken from: Prophethood in Islam [English Translation of 'An-Nubuwwat fil-Islam' by Maulana Muhammad Ali] [pp. 629-645]

Translator's Comment No. 1:

The reply seems to be: what to speak of claiming prophethood even such words as ‘prophet’ or ‘messenger’ do not exist at all in the writings of the Founder of the Movement. Now such a person is really unaware of what the Founder has written in his earlier books. Those words do occur but they convey a specific sense and the Founder once more has explained their significance. If we carefully go through the first few paragraphs, we observe that the discussion is not about his claim, but simply about the use of such words. On the one hand, he says that these words have been used by God by way of metaphor and simile, on the other, God openly calls him the zill [shadow] of Israelite prophets. This means that when he explained the words prophet or messenger in this sense, he did it in the light of his revelation which is: "You are to me like the Israelite prophets that is by way of zill you resemble them" (Tabligh-i Risalat, vol. 1, p. 61).

If he was affecting a change in his claim or belief or definition of prophethood he had no right to reprove and reproach his disciples for misinformation. When the claimant himself has been in doubt for the last so many years, (as contented by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad) how could he expect his followers to give positive reply?

Translator's Comment No. 2:
If by the use of such words as ‘prophet’ or ‘messenger’ he becomes a real prophet, does he become a real Muhammad too?

Translator's Comment No. 3:
I have adopted this translation of Khatam an-Nabiyyin as the Founder himself writes while explaining this verse:

"But he is the Messenger of Allah and Seal of the prophets" (Izalah Auham, p. 614):

"The Holy Quran does not approve of the coming of any prophet after Khatam an-Nabiyyin" (Ibid., p.761).

"The Holy Quran, every word of which is final, confirms this verse: "But he is a Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the prophets," that prophethood has in fact come to an end with our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)" (Kitab al-Bariyyah, p. 184 footnote).

And with the verse: "But he is a Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the prophets" prophethood has been unambiguously discontinued with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)" (Tuhfah Golarwiyyah, p. 83, 1902).

Translator's Comment No. 4:
See Introduction 3.

Translator's Comment No. 5:
Even before the publication of this booklet, the Founder wrote the same thing:

"These words are by way of metaphor. In Traditions, too, the word ‘prophet’ has been used for the Promised Messiah. Obviously, anybody who is sent by God is His messenger, and a messenger in Arabic is called a rasul. He who proclaims matters Unseen after receiving knowledge from God is called nabi in Arabic. The meaning in Islamic terminology is different, here only the literal meaning is applied" (Arba`in No. 2, p. 18, 19, published 1900).

Translator's Comment No. 6:

"God, says . . . . He does not reveal His secrets to any except to him whom He chooses as a messenger (rasul). The word rasul is common in which rasul, nabi and muhaddath are all included. I am the vicegerent and appointed one of God, Mujaddid of this age and the Promised Messiah" (Aina Kamalat-i Islam, p.322, published 1893).

The word rasul in the writings of the Founder need not confuse anyone as he is applying it to himself in the literal sense [not in the sense which appears in Islamic terminology] and every muhaddath is to him a rasul in that sense.

About the real prophets, the Founder writes:

"According to the clear explanation of the Holy Quran, a rasul is he who receives the commands and doctrines of religion through Gabriel" (Izalah Auham, p. 534).

Translator's Comment No. 7:
Here again he is referring to the literal meaning of the word ‘prophet’. See para No. 5.

Translator's Comment No. 8:
See para 9 and comment Nos. 13, 14.

Translator's Comment No. 9:

See Introduction 2 & 3.

Translator's Comment No. 10:
The other name for such a person is muhaddath.

Translator's Comments to Author's Footnote #1:

Translator's Comment (a):

"God makes them (mujaddids – renovators/reformers) inheritors of those favours which are given to prophets and messengers" (Fath Islam, p. 6 published 1891).

Translator's Comment (b):

"But his (Holy Prophet's) perfect follower cannot be called a mere prophet because this is derogatory to the complete (and perfect) prophethood of Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)." (Al-Wasiyyat, p. 12, published 20 December, 1905).

Translator's Comment (c):

"In the Holy Quran the announcement of the Unseen in perfect form is the task of rasul and none else is given this status. By rasul are meant those persons who are sent by God, they may be nabi, rasul, muhaddath or mujaddid." (Arbain No. 3, p. 25 footnote, published 1900).

Translator's Comment (d):

"If you are in doubt about the greatness and rank of saints of the Merciful, then read the verse (sirat allazeena an-‘amta ‘alaihim) with great care and attention" (Al-Huda, p. 31, published 1902).

Translator's Comment (e):

This prophethood is by way of zill as is clear from the words that follow.

Translator's Comment No. 11:

"The coming Messiah on account of being a muhaddath is also metaphorically called a prophet" (Izalah Auham, p. 349).

"If muhaddathiyyah is regarded as prophethood metaphorically, does it mean laying claim to prophethood?" (Izalah Auham, p. 422).

Translator's Comment No. 12:
On these few lines rests the structure of the Qadian theory that the Founder denied to be called a muhaddath forthwith and contradicted what he had said before; for instance, in his Announcement of 1899 and in Tauzih Maram (See Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat, pp. 128, 160).

This is what the Founder wrote in 1899 in the course of his controversy with Maulvi Abdul Hakim. The controversy came to an end after the following announcement:

"Be it known to all Muslims that all such words as occur in my writings, Fath Islam, Tauzih Maram and Izalah Auham to the effect that the muhaddath is in one sense a prophet or that muhaddathiyyah is partial prophethood or imperfect prophethood, are not to be taken in their real sense, but have been used in reference to their root-meaning; otherwise, I lay no claim whatsoever to real prophethood. On the other hand, as I have written in my book, Izalah Auham, p. 137, my belief is that our Lord and Master Muhammad Mustafa (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last of the prophets. So, I wish to make it known to all Muslims that, if they object to these words or if these words hurt their feelings, they may regard all such words as effaced and may read instead the word muhaddath, for I do by no means wish to create any dissension among Muslims. From the beginning, as God knows best, my intention has been not to use the word nabi as meaning a real prophet, but only as signifying a muhaddath, which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), has explained as one who is spoken to by God. Of the muhaddath it is stated in a saying of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), "Among those that were before you of the Israelites, there used to be men who were spoken to by God, though they were not prophets, and if there is one such among my followers, he is ‘Umar" (Bukhari). Therefore, I have not the least hesitation in conciliating my Muslim brethren, by expressing the same idea in another form, and that other form is that wherever the word nabi (prophet) is used in my writings, it should be taken as meaning muhaddath and the word nabi should be regarded as having been effaced."

And in Tauzih Maram we find these lines:

"Besides, there is no doubt that this humble servant has been raised by the Most High God for (this) community in the capacity of a muhaddath and a muhaddath is in one sense also a prophet. Though he does not attain perfect prophethood, nevertheless he is partially a prophet, for he is endowed with the gift of being spoken to by God, and matters Unseen are manifested to him and like messengers and prophets his revelations are free from the intervention of the devil, and the real kernel of the law is disclosed to him and he is commissioned just like prophets that he should announce his claim publicly, and anybody who rejects him deserves divine punishment. And such a prophethood means nothing but that the above-mentioned characteristics are met within him.

"If it be argued that the door of prophethood has been closed and a seal has been set on the revelation that descends on prophets, I say that neither the door of prophethood has been closed in all respects nor a seal has been set on every form of revelation. On the contrary, the door of revelation and prophethood is partially open for this ummah forever. But it should be borne in mind that the type of prophethood, which is continued forever, is not perfect prophethood but, as I have just mentioned, it is only a partial prophethood which in other words is termed muhaddathiyyah." (Tauzih Maram, p. 9).

I have quoted these references in detail to show what the Founder meant by the use of these words. The significance attached to them has never been changed. The word prophet has been used with reference to its root meaning. The same point has been discussed in Ek Ghalati ka Izalah. See Comment No. 13.

In Tauzih Maram he is not explaining the literal meaning of muhaddath, therefore, when he says that literally, ‘pronouncement of the Unseen’ is not muhaddathiyyah he is right and at the same time not contradicting what he has written before where he is discussing this word according to the terminology of Islam. He never said that according to Arabic and Hebrew lexicons muhaddath means this. The question of contradiction therefore never arises.

Some non-Ahmadi raised the same objection and one Qazi Muhammad Sulaiman Patialavi published a small article entitled Muhakama Ek Ghalati ka Izalah and the rejoinder was sent by Hafiz Raushan Ali, a highly respected member of the Qadian Section. This reply was much liked by Maulana Hakim Nur-ud-Din, first successor of the Founder. I quote the relevant portion:

"Objection: In Tauzih Maram you call yourself a muhaddath and say that muhaddath too is a prophet in one sense and now in the booklet you write that your title cannot be a muhaddath as the meaning of tahdith in any book of lexicology is not the pronouncement of the Unseen."

"Reply: The question of contradiction can arise at these two places only when in the same sense he accepts his being called a muhaddath and in the same sense denies to be called as such. But here at both these places the case is different and accordingly your presumed contradiction disappears. In the booklet he rejects it, as the meaning of tahdith in dictionary is not the pronouncement of the Unseen, and in Tauzih Maram he accepts it in the technical sense" (Tashhiz al-Azhan, vol. 9, No. 10).

Tashhiz was a monthly review issued at that time from Qadian and was for a considerable period edited by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad. This article was published when he had taken charge of his Khilafat.

It is sometimes asserted that the Founder never used the words "partial or imperfect prophethood" after 1901 which shows that a definite change occurred in his views after that period.

As for these words, he did not use them after 1891 but does it mean that he changed his views in 1892? This is just catching at straws to save oneself.

Translator's Comment No. 13:
The interpretation of the word nabi is the same as has been referred to above. Even towards the end of his life the Founder emphasised that this word had been used in the literal sense and such a use was not forbidden:

"All right, I ask if a person announces news after receiving knowledge from God by what name, except prophet you will call him in Arabic. Strangely enough when I express the meaning of this word in Urdu or Punjabi you accept it, but when I express the same meaning in Arabic you despise it and reject it. Is this not sheer prejudice?" (Speech by the Founder on 7 May, 1908, published in Al-Hakam, 14 July 1908, p. 12).

Translator's Comment No. 14:
As he is discussing the literal meaning of prophethood here, therefore, a prophet in that sense, who is in other words a muhaddath, does not bring any Divine Law. On the other hand, anybody who is a real prophet in the terminology of Islam must be a bearer of Divine Law or be empowered to alter, add to or subtract something from the previous Shari'ah. Such a distinction has been made by the Founder himself:

"The Most High God has brought to an end all kinds of prophethood and messengership with the revelation of the Quran and the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And I have been raised and sent forth into the world only as a servant of Islam and not for abandoning Islam for any other religion. We should safeguard ourselves from the inroads of the Satan and cherish a true love for Islam. The greatness of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), we must never forget. As for myself, I am a humble servant of Islam and this is the main object of my advent.

"The words 'prophet' and 'messenger' are in the form of metaphor and simile. Risalah in Arabic language means sending someone and nubuwwah is to explain hidden realities and truth after receiving knowledge from God. Only according to this sense such a belief is not unfair. But as in the terminology of Islam, prophet and messenger mean those who bring a perfect Shari'ah, or abrogate some of the commands of the preceding Shari'ah or do not call themselves from the ummah of the foregoing prophets and are directly connected with God without the mediation of any prophet, therefore, beware that you take the same meaning here. Because our book is no other than the Holy Quran and our religion is no other than Islam. And I have firm faith that our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is Khatam al-Anbiya and the Holy Quran is Khatam al-Kutub" (Letter dated 17 August, 1899, published in al-Hakam, vol. 13, No. 29).

Now, according to this definition the Founder has not once declared himself to be a prophet. He also gave a definition of muhaddath (quoted above from Taudih Maram, p. 9). These definitions were never altered by him. The Qadian people say that he changed his belief regarding prophethood in Ek Ghalati ka Izalah, but the arguments they quote are all flimsy, dubious and shallow. Such a tremendous change occurred in his views and none from among his followers noticed it at that time. On the contrary, 70 persons declared on solemn oath that they did not observe this change during 1901. (See Introduction 1). About real prophets, he had earlier written in 1893:

"Prophets come to enrol persons from one religion to another, and abrogate some laws and bring forth new commands" (Aina Kamalat-i Islam, p. 323).

On page 18 of Arba`in No. 2, the Founder declared in 1900:

"These words are by way of metaphor as the word ‘prophet’ occurs in Traditions for the Promised Messiah. Obviously, anybody who is sent by God is His messenger and messenger in Arabic is called a rasul. He who proclaims matters Unseen after receiving knowledge from God is called nabi in Arabic."

The meaning in Islamic terminology is different; in this context only the literal meanings are applied.

Here I would like to remove one more misunderstanding. The Founder discussed some common factors found in a muhaddath, nabi and rasul in one of his lectures. The Qadian Ahmadis think that with this we come to a new definition about prophethood which is not to be found before 1901. Following is what the Founder wrote:

"The person so favoured possesses, on the one hand, inherent love for God and, on the other, he is granted a passion of sympathy and reformation for his fellow beings .... such persons in the terminology of Islam are called nabi, rasul or muhaddath. They are the recipients of pure revelations and communications of God and heavenly signs are manifested at their hands and their prayers are accepted" (Lecture at Sialkot, pp. 17,18, published 1902).

The first point to remember is that in the same lecture he also mentions about the appearance of mujaddids at the commencement of each century:

"As Almighty God had ordained that the garden of Islam should be evergreen, therefore, He watered it anew at the commencement of every century after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and did not allow it to whither or loose its freshness" (p. 1).

A little further, he says:

"And this Imam, who has been called Promised Messiah by God, is a mujaddid of the century and mujaddid of the last thousand" (p. 7).

Did the Founder blow hot and cold in the same breath? At one place he called himself a nabi and at another a mujaddid. Promptly came the reply from the other side that every prophet was a mujaddid and muhaddath, and in the Lecture at Sialkot even the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), had been called Mujaddid-i Azam, the greatest reformer; therefore, the question of contradiction did not arise. My reply to this is that, in the literal sense, the words mujaddid and muhaddath may apply to anybody but when their meanings are defined these words apply only to a person who falls under that definition. According to the specific definition given to these terms by the Founder and other Muslim saints, no prophet not even the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), could be a muhaddath or mujaddid.

The second point to remember in this respect is that even before 1901 such persons were called nabi or muhaddath by the Founder and it was not after 1901 that this clear truth dawned on him. The following passage should be read carefully:

"When an honoured person prays, the Most High God sheds on him divine light and makes to descend on him His own spirit and, with words full of love, gives him the news of acceptance of his prayers. And with whomsoever this communication occurs in abundance, he is said to be a nabi or muhaddath. The sign of true religion is that, by following its teachings, such truthful ones may be raised so high as to attain the status of muhaddath." (Hujjat al-Islam, title page, published 9 May, 1893, Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol. III, p. 45. The latter book was compiled by Qasim Ali).

This explodes the theory that the Founder changed the definition of prophethood after 1901 and that before he did not understand the real difference between a prophet and a muhaddath. Other definitions which are quoted by the Qadian people from Chashma Ma'rifat, p. 325, Al-Wasiyyat, p. 12 and letter published in Akhbar-i Am (1908), etc., can also be explained away in the light of this passage. The definition, therefore, quoted above of a real prophet in the letter dated 17 August, 1899, still holds good.

In Tiryaq al-Qulub (published in 1902 but, according to the Head of the Qadian Section, was written before 1901), he says:

"But as against this there are other kinds of saints who are called rasul, nabi or muhaddath" (p. 132).

Translator's Comment No. 15:
The particular emphasis is on the point that the source of his revelation is God, as is the case with all the muhaddathin whose revelations, like the revelations of messengers and prophets, "are free from the intervention of the devil" (Tauzih Maram, p. 9).

Further, he is not giving equal status to his revelations as compared to the verses of the Holy Quran. The Quran to him, is the last Divine Book after which there will be no Shari'ah. Again prophetic revelation to him has been cut off till the Day of Resurrection (Izalah Auham, p. 614). The following passage from his book al-Huda makes this point clearer:

"So accursed are they who claim that they can bring a like of the Holy Quran. The Quran is a miracle the like of which cannot be produced by anyone . . . . On the other hand, this revelation is such that there is none like it and the grandeur of the revelation of the Quran has no comparison with the revelations of saints even if on them are revealed words like the words of the Holy Quran (p. 32).

Translator's Comment No. 16:
A prophet without a code also means a wali (saint) because in fact every prophet is a law-giver whether he brings new law or makes alterations and additions in the old one as is clear from the following passage:

"God speaks to his auliya (saints) in this ummah and they are imbued with the colour of prophethood, but they are not prophets in reality because the Quran has brought the law to perfection" (Mawahib al-Rahman, p. 66, published 1903).

Similar is the statement given in Tiryaq al-Qulub, p. 130: "But as to the muhaddathin and recipients of divine communication other than the givers of law," which shows that givers of law are all prophets and persons who belong to the class of non-prophets are those who can be called inspired ones (mulham) and muhaddath. Thus whoever is not a law-giver is muhaddath. Ibn Al-Arabi used the term "law-giver prophet" in the same sense. And what he called prophethood without a code is in fact wilayah and muhaddathiyyah.

The words that "according to this definition I have never denied to be called prophet" again show that the Founder is confirming what he has said before. The following statement of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, Head of the Qadian Section, therefore is incorrect:

"The question of prophethood became clear to him in 1900 or 1901 and because Ek Ghalati ka Izalah was published in 1901 where he made a forceful declaration about his prophethood, this proves that a change in his belief occurred in 1901. The year 1900 is an intervening period which stands between the two ideas barzakh-like and separates them. Thus, on the one hand, by the use of the word prophet repeatedly in his books after 1901 and, on the other, by the fact established from Haqiqat al-Wahy that he changed his belief with regard to prophethood after the publication of Tiryaq al-Qulub it is proved that before 1901 all references wherein he has disclaimed prophethood stand abrogated and it is wrong to argue on their basis." (Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat, p. 121).

When the Qadian people fail to establish their novel theory of change and abrogation from Ek Ghalati ka Izalah they shift to the last great work of the Founder, Haqiqat al-Wahy. As Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has earlier claimed that Ek Ghalati ka Izalah is the first written evidence of the change (See Introduction 1) I have, therefore, confined myself to this booklet and have discussed all the arguments deduced on its basis. I will, however, be interested to know when and where the Founder wrote that all references wherein he had disclaimed prophethood before 1901 stood abrogated and it was wrong to argue on their basis. Moreover, before this ingenious theory, in the whole of Ahmadiyya literature nowhere can we find a single instance to prove that he changed his claim during 1901 and that he did not know the meaning of the word nabi or muhaddath before that and used these words wrongly for himself for full 12 years. This has really put the Qadian people in great difficulty. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad admits that such a thing in clear words did not exist in the writings of the Founder unless somebody objected:

"He did not declare his first belief abrogated unless somebody raised an objection in Haqiqat al-Wahy; then he definitely said that the divine revelation that descended on him like rain changed his belief" (Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat, p. 140).

Thus Mirza Mahmud Ahmad would like us to believe that one year before his death in 1908 (Haqiqat al-Wahy was published in 1907), the Founder happened to change his belief with regard to his prophethood!

The Founder says:

"The faith that is installed in the heart of a prophet about his prophethood is so strong that the arguments thereof become clear like daylight and they rush on in such great number that this fact becomes conspicuous and if in ordinary matters he suffers from a mistake in ijtihad that does not go against this faith .... Prophets and messengers are shown about their claims and teachings from very near and this is done so repeatedly that not a doubt is left in this, but in some common place matters which are not of great importance their intuitive sight visualises them from a distance and as this is very casual sometimes they mistake it in their recognition" (Ijaz-i Ahmadi, p. 26 published 1902).

For lack of space, I cannot enter into a full discussion about Haqiqat al-Wahy and Tiryaq al-Qulub.

Translator's Comment No. 17:
The Founder said the same thing in Izalah Auham ten years before the publication of this booklet:

"Yes, a prophet who gets his light from the light of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) does not possess perfect prophethood. He, in other words, is called muhaddath and this restriction does not apply to him because, on account of his discipleship and annihilation in the Holy Prophet, he is included in the personality of Khatam al-Mursaleen" (p. 579).

Again, that is the highest stage of annihilation in the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and at this stage he has got these names of Muhammad and Ahmad and even Khatam al-Anbiya by way of baruz and this stage can be achieved by any saint or muhaddath who is so completely absorbed in the love of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It was at this stage that Hazrat Abu Bakr Shibli, a great Muslim saint, declared before one of this disciples: "Do you witness that I am Muhammad, the messenger of Allah, and his disciple witnessed it."

Another instance in the same book is related about Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani when, for a time, he felt that he had lost his own self and had become Muhammad and uttered these words ‘Had Moses been alive now he should have followed me (p. 100).’ Now, these things should not be taken literally (see also Izalah Auham, pp. 253, 259 & 260 and Introduction 3).

Translator's Comment No. 18:
An objection has been raised that, by relating this vision, the Founder has insulted the holy personality of Hazrat Fatimah. This is just twisting the words to one's own advantage. At many places he has related this vision and stated that "like a kind mother she put my head in her lap" (Barahin Ahmadiyya, vol. iv, p. 503, Tuhfah Golarwiyya, p. 30).

Translator's Comment No. 19:
See Introduction.

Translator's Comment No. 20:
See Introduction 3.

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