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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement; the Mujaddid (Reformer) of the 14th Century Hijrah; and, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi) <Please read his biography in the 'Biography' section>

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Books Section > Call of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali > The Fourteenth-Century's Reformer / Mujaddid [Discusses: The Death of Jesus; The Descent of the Messiah; The Imam Mahdi; Dajjal, Gog and Magog; No Claim to Prophethood; The Work Before the Mujaddid]

The Fourteenth-Century's Reformer / Mujaddid:
[Discusses: The Death of Jesus; The Descent of the Messiah; The Imam Mahdi; Dajjal, Gog and Magog; No Claim to Prophethood; The Work Before the Mujaddid]

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The Fourteenth-Century's Reformer / Mujaddid:

"Most surely God will raise for this ummah (Muslim community), with the opening of every new century, one who will bring about the revival of their religion" (Sunan Abu Dawud, vol. 2, p. 24).

Here is an authentic report [hadith / Tradition] of the Holy Prophet which promises the appearance of a reformer from among the Muslims at the commencement of every century of the Muslim era. Let us be clear at the very outset as to the true mission of such reformers. They come with no new truth, no new principle, no new rule of conduct. The Holy Quran is a complete code for human guidance and is all-comprehensive, so far as religious truths are concerned. These reformers have nothing to add to what is already there. All they do is to rally the Muslims, fallen away from the true Islamic path, once more to the standard of Islam. They devote their energies to the purging of Islam of all alien conceptions and to the awakening of the Muslims to a truly Islamic life. The exact nature of their activities is determined by the particular needs of the time of their appearance.

The authenticity of the above hadith is not only borne out by reliable works on hadith but, what is more, century after century, since the day of the Holy Prophet, has so far seen its actual fulfilment. There have been those righteous personalities amongst the Muslims that were actually called to this role of mujaddid (reformer) in their days. The name of "Mujaddid Alf Thani" (literally, the Mujaddid of the second thousand) is of household fame in India. He proclaimed at the beginning of the eleventh century that he had been commissioned as a mujaddid for that century and advanced this very hadith in substantiation of his claim. There can, therefore, be not the shadow of a doubt as to the authenticity of this hadith. Any such suspicion would obviously mean a serious charge at the door of the above-named mujaddid, whose veracity and righteousness are admitted throughout the world of Islam. In like manner, the idea that a mujaddid must not make a public announcement as to his office and mission is absolutely unwarranted. Not only this, the mujaddid of the eleventh century proclaimed his claim from the house-tops, but, as trustworthy records show, there have been others who did lay such a claim to the office of the mujaddid.

Two facts are, therefore, absolutely clear. A mujaddid must appear at the beginning of every century and that a mujaddid must proclaim his mission to the public at large. In accordance with these well-established truths, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian was called to the office of the mujaddid at the commencement of the fourteenth century, and being called, this new Mujaddid made no secret of the fact. In keeping with the traditions of his predecessors, he announced the mission with which, under the hadith, he had been charged. Simultaneously with the publication of his claim to mujaddidship, there appeared his unique work, Barahin Ahmadiyya. This book may rightly be regarded as marking a new epoch in the literature on Islam. In this great work he marshals a long string of reasons and arguments, all cogent and irrefutable, to establish the truth of Islam. Along the way he also brings in other religions, subjects them to the searchlight of reason, which serve to bring out the beauties of Islam all the more clearly. Needless to say, the book met with a splendid reception amongst the Muslims. The ‘ulama were specially impressed with the bulk and weight of its arguments and its force of persuasion. In the course of a review in a magazine, Isha‘at us-Sunnah, it was frankly admitted that the services which the author had rendered to the cause of Islam in bringing out a work of that worth, was indeed without any parallel during the past thirteen centuries. Thereafter, the Mujaddid addressed himself to an examination of the new sect of the Hindu religion, the Arya Samaj, and in a most critical work, Surma Chashm-e Aryah, dealt a smashing blow to its principles.

This started the career of this great Reformer of the fourteenth century. Whereas his achievements in the domain of learning won him the universal regard of his contemporaries, his piety of life and efficacy of prayer made him a general resort for seekers-after-truth. The esteem he enjoyed amongst Muslims was unrivalled. And it was but meet that he should have been shown all that veneration. The fourteenth century had set in. There was the hadith calling for the appearance of a mujaddid and there was the right man to fill the office. In learning and piety, there was not the like of him. Richly he deserved the honour. Besides the hadith, the condition of things in the world of Islam called yet more loudly for the appearance of such a reformer. Islam was at the time between two fires. There were dissipations and dissension within the camp of Islam itself and there were the most terrible attacks on it from without. Even if a reformer had never appeared before in the history of Islam, one was bound to appear at that time, so critical was the state of Islam. But for the coming of such a giant of learning and spirituality, the situation was well-nigh impossible to save. However, God Almighty would not let His religion go to the winds. He has undertaken it upon Himself to protect it:

Surely I am its Protector (15:9).

It was high time that a defender of Faith should come to safeguard Islam against foes, internal as well as external. He came at last in the very nick of time and had he not come at that time, not only would the hadith have remained unfulfilled, but even the Divine promise with regard to the protection of Islam would have been vain. In the appearance, therefore, of the Mujaddid, in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, both the hadith and Quranic promise of protection found due fulfilment.

The Death of Jesus:

This period of the general popularity of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad lasted for quite a number of years. Then came a turning point in the year 1891 when, through Divine inspiration, it came to him that like the rest of the prophets of God, Jesus was also dead. That Jesus should have ascended to heaven in his corporeal frame, and remained alive there for all these long centuries without food or other human necessaries – the doctrine generally prevalent among the Muslims – was absolutely unfounded. If public esteem and fame were the goal of Hazrat Mirza’s aspirations, he had indeed already achieved it. His departure from an established popular view could not but injure his reputation. His new idea of Jesus’ death, he knew fully well, would only rouse opposition. In giving it publicity he would be turning his very friends and admirers, the general Muslims, into enemies. But persons raised by God care little for public opinion. In fact, the reclamation of their people is their express mission and to them it does not matter much, whether, in doing so, they win applause or incur displeasure. It costs a tremendous lot to utter the word of truth and unless one is thoroughly godly, it is a hard thing to be outspoken in the teeth of popular opposition. The courage of conviction with which Hazrat Mirza spoke out his mind, regardless of consequences, goes a long way to establish his righteousness. This he did at a time when his popularity throughout the country was an accomplished fact. And as soon as the word went forth that Jesus was dead, the name and fame he had so far enjoyed were replaced by hatred and enmity. But in this lay the welfare of Islam. In fact, the very safety of Islam was at stake against a deadly attack of Christianity to which this false notion gave a handle. So, come what may, he did not shrink. Islam must be saved even though at the expense of turning his friends into enemies.

What was that deadly attack of Christianity, it might be asked. It lay in the supposition that Jesus was above human needs, neither eating nor the drinking for all these ages, whereas the Holy Quran positively says of all prophets:

We have not made their bodies such that they eat no food nor were they unsusceptible to change (21:8).

Like the rest of humanity, even the prophets used to eat and were subject to change. Now, if Jesus has been there in heaven for two thousand years and managed to live without food and is just the same today as on the day of his ascension, obviously he must be not human but divine, and this is exactly what Christianity is founded on, that Jesus was divine. Such a false idea ascribed to the Holy Quran would, indeed, mean a deadly weapon in the hand of Christianity, and Islam could have not a sporting chance of survival in the duel. But God, Who has ever been taking care of Islam, came once more to protect it. It was revealed to the man who had been commissioned for championing the cause of Islam in this century, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Mujaddid of the fourteenth century, that neither the Holy Quran nor the hadith warranted any such belief. The evidence of both clearly showed that Jesus was dead.

The Holy Quran is definitive on the death of Jesus. Muhammad, it says in one place, is but an apostle. All the apostles before him have passed away; if then he dies or is killed, will you turn your back upon your heels? (8:149). What a clear testimony! On the death of the Holy Prophet when Hazrat ‘Umar was not prepared to believe the sad news, Hazrat Abu Bakr recited this very verse, to show that all preceding prophets had died and so there was no special cause for surprise that the Holy Prophet, too, had passed away (Muhammad the Prophet, Muhammad Ali, p. 235). If, as the common belief goes in these days, even then there was any such notion among the Muslims as to Jesus being alive in heaven, Hazrat ‘Umar would have promptly retorted: "Why, is Jesus not alive?" The very fact that Hazrat ‘Umar, who was so keen on the point as to threaten with instantaneous death whosoever should dare call the Holy Prophet dead, quietly bowed to Hazrat Abu Bakr’s remonstrance based on this Quranic verse, shows that the false notion had not crept in Islam at that early period of its history. The Companions of the Holy Prophet, it proves conclusively, never had the least notion of the kind.

Then there is a yet clearer verse on the same point:

O Jesus! I will cause thee to die and exalt thee in My presence (3:54).

The conclusion is obvious. The ascension of Jesus took place after his death, and this ascension was spiritual, not physical. Ascension towards God cannot but mean spiritual ascension. If you take it in the physical sense, you will be locating God, limiting Him to some place upwards, which is absurd on the face of it. God is All-pervading, Omnipresent. Granted, however, for the sake of argument, that God is only in heaven and not on the earth, an equally odious implication follows. It would mean that Jesus alone, who was taken up by Him, had the unique privilege of being in His company, whereas the rest of the prophets, including the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who were all interred in the earth, had not been blessed with that favour.

Again, the Holy Quran bears out the same conclusion in another place. When Jesus is asked according to the Quranic narrative on the Day of Judgement: Did you tell your people to take you and your mother as two gods? he excuses himself with these significant words: I did not say to them aught save what Thou didst enjoin me with: That you serve God my Lord and your Lord; and I was a witness of them as long as I was in their midst but when Thou didst cause me to die, Thou wast the Watcher over them (5:116-117).

Here Jesus is represented as saying that so long as he was in the midst of his people, the false doctrine of his divinity had not crept in among the Christians. It was introduced, he says, after his death. Now, the logical deduction is: Since the false doctrine has crept in among the Christians, Jesus has died; for the one, according to the above verse, could not take place but after the other.

Reports of the Holy Prophet, too, leave not the shadow of a doubt as to Jesus’ death. "If Moses and Jesus were alive," one report says, "they could not but have followed me. This shows that Moses and Jesus are both dead. Another report has: "Jesus lived a hundred and twenty years." Yet another tells us that on the night of the Miraj (the Holy Prophet’s ascension), the Holy Prophet found Jesus and John in one and the same place. Surely the living and the dead could not be together. Either both must be alive or both dead. But as John is admittedly dead, it follows that Jesus, too, must be dead and the two were seen in their spiritual state.

Besides, in this ummah there have been men of great learning, position and authority who believed Jesus to be dead. The renowned Imam Malik’s verdict is still on record in more works than one: "Malik said, (Jesus) is dead" (Bukhari). The remaining three Imams are silent on the point. The famous Imam Bukhari also considered Jesus dead.

The Mujaddid of the time directed attention to all these points. But the false conception that Jesus was alive in heaven was too deep-rooted. The Muslims would listen to no arguments which went against their long-cherished prepossessions even though these arguments were based on the absolute authority of the Holy Quran and the Hadith. They were not in a mood to think that this exactly should, in the very fitness of things, have been the express mission of the Mujaddid of this age. Christianity, practically the only adversary of Islam, and the most formidable too, had this one main prop to support its whole structure of doctrines and dogmas – the alleged fact of Jesus sitting with God in heaven. To pull this main prop down would mean the crumbling of the whole like a house of cards, and the Mujaddid did the very thing he came to do. Jesus in heaven meant an undisputed victory for Christianity. The Mujaddid brought him down to the bosom of mother earth, in company with the rest of his fellow-prophets and saved the situation at a most critical period in the history of Islam. In the death of Jesus lay the life of Islam and the Mujaddid would not have been a mujaddid had he not in this age of Christian ascendancy, established it for a fact. This, in fact, should have been, with all right-thinking persons, the sole test of the truth of the Mujaddid of those days – this, the question of the life and death of Jesus. But the very thing that should have served as a clear testimony to the truth of Hazrat Mirza was made the ground for the storm of opposition that was raised against him. So perverse was the mentality of the Muslim theologians! So blindfolded were they by slavish adherence to popular notions!

The Descent of the Messiah:

In the way of general acceptance of the view of Jesus’ death there was one big stumbling-block – the expectation of the descent of the Messiah. Obviously descent presupposes ascent, and so the prevalent notion as to the coming down of the Messiah lent a strong colour to the theory of Jesus being alive. If the "Messiah, son of Mary", as the reports say, "was to come down, he must have gone up and been alive in heaven all these two thousand years." The reports concerning the descent of Jesus are numerous and their authenticity, according to the established canons of testing such authenticity, is unimpeachable. To brush them off is no light matter. It would mean discarding the whole lot of the "reports" as worthless hearsay, inauthentic and unreliable. These particular "reports" concerning the descent of Jesus are traced back to as many as fourteen different Companions of the Holy Prophet, all trustworthy sources. Report authorities, so judicious and critical as Bukhari and Muslim, have confirmed them as thoroughly authentic. Then these reports are not detached reports. With them are interrelated quite a number of others, such as reports concerning the Anti-Christ, Gog and Magog, and so forth. To reject the descent reports as the latter-day fabrication would be to reject all these, the number of which comes up to several hundreds. And what is worse, it would mean discrediting the entire collection of reports. If reports accepted by all authorities without a single dissenting voice as thoroughly genuine could yet be stigmatised as a forgery, why not the rest of the reports? And this is absurd on the very face of it.

Divine wisdom, however, would not do things by half measures. When the time came for the minds of Muslims to be disabused of the false notion of Jesus being alive, it so ordained that the correlative question of the descent of Jesus should also be brought into light. The two being supplementary, they must stand together if they stand; and if they fall, they must also fall together. Hence it was necessary to throw light on this aspect of the problem as well.

Here, again, it so turned out, the Muslims had misunderstood the true significance of the prophecy as to the second advent of the Messiah. Taking the prophecy at its face value, they had jumped to the conclusion that Jesus must reappear in person, forgetting that such a view was a contradiction of the clear teaching of the Holy Quran, which has laid down in so many words that the Holy Prophet is the last of the prophets. The coming back of Jesus in person is, therefore, absolutely out of the question for, if he comes, he, not the Holy Prophet, is the last of the prophets. The Holy Quran categorically excludes any such contingency. No prophet shall come after the Holy Prophet, whether new or old. Prophets are raised to bring a code of life from God to man and when that complete code of life, the Holy Quran is there in its entirety, and in its original purity, it would obviously be against the common law known as the economy of nature to send another prophet. The demand does not exist, the supply would be superfluous and hence absurd. To hold that Jesus would be sent down in person shorn of all his prophetical powers is an equally grotesque idea. Why, at all, should he be made to suffer this degradation from a higher to a lower position? And if a prophet, stripped of the prophetical office could serve the purpose, why not a mujaddid? As a matter of fact, the Muslims, interpreting the prophecy as to Jesus’ second advent, lost sight of one of the fundamental rules of interpretation. The rule has been clearly laid down in the Holy Quran that metaphoric, symbolic and allegoric expressions must always be interpreted in the light of the fundamental ones (3:6). Now this doctrine of the termination of all prophethood with the Holy Prophet is one of the fundamentals of Islam, whereas prophecies are, as a rule, put in a symbolic language. The right procedure, therefore, should have been to rule out the alternative of Jesus’ personal advent at the very outset and then to put such an interpretation on the prophecy as might fit in with this fundamental of Islam. This, however, was not done. The Quranic rule of interpretation was ignored. The symbolic was placed before the fundamental and hence the confusion.

Another verse of the Holy Quran brings out the absurdity of the popular notion on the point all the more clearly: I (Jesus) bring the happy tidings of the advent of an apostle after me whose name is Ahmad (61:6). The one word, after, in the verse should have sufficed to dispel the wrong notion. The Holy Prophet must appear after Jesus, but if Jesus is brought down today, the Quranic statement would not hold good. Then, it would be Jesus to come after, not the Holy Prophet.

The reports containing the prophecy of Jesus’ second advent themselves afford a clear clue as to the identity of the Messiah foretold. The reports narrated in Bukhari and Muslim state in clear words that the Messiah to come shall be an Imam of the Muslims from among themselves. Imamukum minkum are the words of Bukhari, and Imamukum minkum are the words of Muslim. Both are thus agreed that the Messiah shall be an imam of the Muslims from amongst themselves and not from amongst the Israelites, as the Muslims have been thinking. Then, there are reports in a work of Bukhari’s reputation and authenticity which show that in appearance, the Promised Messiah is distinct from the Israelite Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary. The former is described as having a wheatish complexion and straight, flowing hair, whereas the latter, as of white complexion and curly hair. What an unmistakable clue to show that the Israelite Messiah, Jesus, is not to come in person, that the Messiah foretold is quite a different person.

There should be no difficulty in explaining how a prophecy about Messiah, son of Mary, could be made to fit in with some other person. Jesus himself gives us the solution of this apparent impossibility. Jewish scriptures contained a similar prophecy as to the advent of a past prophet, Elijah. "Behold! I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Malachi, 4:5). From this and from certain other references in their holy books, the Jews got the impression that Elijah had been raised alive to heaven. When Jesus appeared, this was one of the main objections of the Jews. Elijah, they argued, must, according to the Scriptures, come before the Messiah. Jesus told them that the prophecy had been fulfilled in the person of John who had such a strong resemblance to Elijah in his ways and manners; because he came, Jesus told his disciples, "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke: 1:17). Exactly the same story repeats itself now. If the descent of Elijah could be taken to mean not the personal appearance of that prophet but of someone resembling him in spirit and power, why can the descent of Jesus not be interpreted in the same manner? Thus scriptural precedent, if not bare common-sense, could be invoked to help one out of the difficulty. But here, as in the case of so many other Quranic verses and reports on the point, blind slavish adherence to popular notions came in the way and would not let the Muslims think for themselves.

Thus, the prophecy has only one reasonable interpretation. Not the Messiah, son of Mary, in person, but someone from amongst the Muslims themselves, partaking of the morals and manners of the Messiah, must appear to uphold the cause of Islam. This alone is a reasonable interpretation. This alone can keep the seal of prophethood intact. This alone can avert the charge of inaccuracy of the statement against the Holy Quran which says that the Holy Prophet is to come after Jesus. This alone keeps the Holy Prophet in the office of purifier and teacher for his ummah for all time to come as the Holy Quran says. This alone corroborates the report that the Promised Messiah must be from among the Muslims, and also the report which gives two different descriptions of the appearances of the Messiah foretold and Jesus, respectively. Unfortunately, however, a wrong notion that had taken deep root in the hearts of Muslims, through centuries of blind belief, was too hard, even for clear, overwhelming and authoritative evidence to eradicate.

The Imam Mahdi:

Coupled with the misconceived descent theory of Jesus there was another notion prevalent among the Muslims, equally unfounded and detrimental to the cause of Islam. It was a common belief that just at the time when the Messiah would come down from heaven one Imam Mahdi would also appear and both joining hands together, would wage war against the non-Muslims. They would spread Islam far and wide to the corners of the world and whosoever should refuse to accept Islam would be put to sword. What a preposterous idea, diametrically opposed, in fact an insult, to the noble teachings of the Holy Quran on the point! Let there be no compulsion in religion (2:256) says the Holy Book and yet the audacity to hold that the Imam Mahdi and the Messiah would propagate Islam at the point of the sword. Again, the Book allows warfare only against those people that take the first step in declaring war upon the Muslims; in other words, a war in self-defence. And fight in the way of Allah against those that fight with you (2:190) is the clear injunction of the Quran and yet these latter-day defenders of the faith are supposed to go about from place to place waging war upon innocent people in the interest of Islam!

As a matter of fact, the reports pertaining to the appearance of the Imam Mahdi and his exploits in the cause of Islam are far from being authentic. They have been absolutely discarded by the most critical works on reports. Bukhari and Muslim contain not a single such report. They make no mention of the Mahdi and his bloody method of the propagation of Islam. It was, obviously, a grave blunder on the part of Muslims to have set aside a clear ruling of the Holy Quran on the strength of such inauthentic reports. Not only did they overlook to weigh the worth of these reports in the light of the Holy Quran but they also failed to investigate how far such a view was borne out by the practical life of the Holy Prophet. Not a single instance can be quoted to show that the Holy Prophet ever brought the pressure of the sword to bear on one individual, let alone a whole nation, to embrace Islam. What was not permissible in the case of the Holy Prophet could not be permissible in that of any one acting in his name and on his behalf, be he Mahdi or Messiah. The Mahdi meant no more than one guided aright, and the Messiah was the Mahdi that was to come. This is corroborated by a report in Ibn Majah saying that "there is no Mahdi but the Messiah".

Dajjal, Gog and Magog:

The coming of the Messiah among the Muslims is associated with some tribulations due to the appearance of Gog and Magog and the Dajjal or Anti-Christ. Prophecies speaking of them were a stumbling-block to the educated Muslim until they were explained by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Gog and Magog were no other than the Christian nations of the day that had won a way over the whole world. The Quranic verse (And when Gog and Magog are let loose and they will issue forth from every elevated place – 21:96), that is, will take possession of every such place in the world – led to the same conclusion; and the same way pointed the reported: "No one will have the strength to fight with them". Likewise, Dajjal or Anti-Christ, he showed, were the people who were spreading teachings directly opposed to those of Christ, yet in the name of Christ. For the same reason, the Anti-Christ has been spoken of as Masih-al-Dajjal, a name indicating that false doctrines would be disseminated in the name of Christ as they are being done today by the missionaries of the West. The Holy Quran has put the prophecy in yet clearer words. Instead of adopting the word Dajjal, it gives the characteristic doctrine of the people called by this name in the reports. One report has it that to guard against the evil influences of the Dajjal one should recite the opening and closing ten verses of the Quranic chapter (no. 18), Al-Kahf (The Cave). Now when we turn to these verses we find a clear clue as to the identity of the Dajjal. The chapter has in its very first section the significant words: And those who say that God has taken a son (18:4) and at the end, as well, mentions the same people: What! Do, then those who disbelieve think that they can take My servants to be their guardians besides Me? (18:102). Now these doctrines of Divine sonship and man-God are peculiar to the Christian people alone. They look upon Jesus as son of God and Divine in nature. Obviously, they are the people spoken of as the Dajjal in the sayings of the Holy Prophet.

Thus all the prophecies, with their various terms were cleared up by the Mujaddid. The false notions that were so far like ugly blots on the fair face of Islam now became as shining signs of its truth.

No Claim to Prophethood:

The Mujaddid met with bitter opposition. Propaganda was started against him to work up the fanaticism of the masses. Several false charges were brought against him. The chief of these accusations given publicity far and wide, was that he claimed to be a prophet and had no faith in many Islamic doctrines. To all these fabrications he published a comprehensive reply, repudiating the charges and removing the misunderstandings. The following extracts from his handbill dated October 2, 1891, give the lie directly to all the mischief-mongers:

"It has come to my knowledge that the leading ‘ulama of this town are giving publicity to the false charge against me that I am a claimant to prophethood and that I do not believe in heaven and hell, nor in the existence of Gabriel, nor in the miracles and Ascension of the Holy Prophet. So in the interest of truth, I do hereby publicly declare that all this is wholesale fabrication. I am not a claimant to prophethood, nor do I disbelieve in miracles, in the existence of angels or in the Grand Night. I have faith in all those things that constitute the doctrines of Islam, according to the Sunnat al-Jama‘at [Sunni] school of thought. I believe in all those that are established truths according to the Holy Quran and the reports. And any claimant to prophethood after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who was the last of the prophets, I regard as an impostor and a disbeliever. It is my conviction that the Divine revelation given to prophets began with Adam and came to a close with the Holy Prophet."

This shows beyond the least shadow of doubt that the alleged claim to prophethood was a mere libel against the Mujaddid. Notwithstanding his emphatic denial of any such claim, the ‘ulama concerned did not withdraw their anathema against him.

What afforded a handle to the ‘ulama to issue their fatwa (edict) against the Mujaddid was the latter’s using such words as majazi, nabi, zilli nabi (prophet in a metaphorical sense or the shadow of a prophet) about himself. He also held that even today God spoke to individuals from amongst the followers of the Holy Prophet, as He did in days gone by. These communications from God brought knowledge of the future. A recipient of such knowledge might, in a literal sense, though not in the terminology of the Islamic Law, be called a nabi or a prophet, for the word literally means "one who makes known future events". Thus the Mujaddid used the word prophet in a literal or a metaphorical sense about himself; for he did claim such knowledge, having made numerous prophecies that had come through. On these grounds they were furious against him, forgetting that there was nothing wrong in such claims which were perfectly in order, according to the best authorities in Islam. Authentic reports clearly call such prophetic foreknowledge from God as a part of prophethood. Likewise the word zilli nabi (shadow of a prophet) should have laid all anxiety to rest as clearly it did not imply prophethood in itself, but just its shadow. In the Hadith, even the words zillil-lah (shadow of God) has been used for a just king. Nobody would suspect for one moment that a king, a shadow of God, thus becomes one with God, the substance. Just as the shadow and the substance are two things in this case, so are they in the case of a prophet and his shadow. The ‘ulama paid no attention to all these clear explanations. Nor did they think that the Mujaddid was not the first of the Muslims saints who had used expressions for himself. Many others before him, saintly personages of universal authority and repute, had talked in just the same strain. Repeated explanations fell only on deaf ears. In Izala Auham, his first writing relating to his claim, he positively said that what he meant by this sort of prophethood was exactly what is commonly known as muhaddathiyyat in the terminology of Islam – a thing admitted on all hands, even by those very ‘ulama themselves. In Haqiqatal-Wahy, his last writing, he again cleared his position in the plainest possible words:

"I have been designated prophet in a metaphorical sense, not in the real sense of the word."

Equally flimsy is the argument that because one section of his followers [i.e., the Qadianis] regards him as a prophet, in an unqualified sense, he must really have laid such a claim. Why reject his own statement expressed in the clearest possible terms? There is nothing strange in the fact that certain of his followers have raised him above his real position. In fact, in this case as well, it was but natural that history should have repeated itself. People of previous ages fell victim to the same human weakness of taking things to extremes. They even went to the length of deifying their prophets. Jesus himself, who never dreamt of being Divine in any way, was raised to the pedestal of Divinity. Nobody cared for his own clear explanation of the words, son of God, which is still there in the Gospels.

"The Jews answered him, saying, for a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, am I the son of God?" (John: 10:83-86).

Jesus thus himself explained that he used the words "son of God" in a metaphorical sense, as prophets before him had done, but his followers insisted on taking it in a real sense and by this process turned a prophet into God. Similarly, Hazrat Mirza said in plain words that the word "prophet" had been used about him in a metaphorical and not in a real sense, but a section of his followers insists on taking it in a real sense and has thus turned a mujaddid into a prophet. So it was quite in keeping with old traditions that a certain section of the followers of the Promised Messiah should have elevated him from a prophet in a metaphorical sense to a prophet in the real sense of the word. It should not prove a stumbling-block to seekers-after-truth, considering that the first Messiah was raised even much higher, right up to Divinity. It should rather serve as an additional point of resemblance between the two Messiahs.

The Work Before the Mujaddid:

For thirteen centuries, since the day of the Holy Prophet, Islam had been in possession of temporal power and glory, but about the close of the thirteenth century, that power had greatly dwindled. During this period, the mujaddids were called upon to do work only in the way of internal reformation. The express object about these discourses and exhortations with which they were charged was to remedy any corruption that might spring up from within. But the Mujaddid of the fourteenth century had before him the mighty task of combating other religions, which had adopted a threatening attitude towards Islam. Christianity was up against Islam, subjecting it to the bitterest of onslaughts. The sons of Islam, forsaking the religion of unity, were, by the thousands, taking shelter in the cult of Trinity or were giving themselves up to absolute irreligiousness. Here in India, the so-called harmless Hindu religion was also putting on gloves against all religions, reviling alike their founders and their teachings. Heaps of mud were being thrown on Islam in particular. Again, there sprung up the Brahmu Samaj with a negation of Divine revelation as its very corner-stone. Thus, to counteract these numerous currents of baneful influences a mighty mujaddid was the crying need of the hour. On the other hand, internal corruption also sprang up in unprecedented proportions. Western education tended to leave an atheistic impress on the minds of those thus brought up. Religion lost its hold and was held up to ridicule. Even those at the helm of national education regarded revelation as a mere voice from within the heart of man himself. It was for the Mujaddid of the century to provide the necessary antidote to all these poisonous influences.

Muslims had lost all faith in the propagation of Islam. They had lost the forceful faith of their great ancestors – faith in Islam being the highest destiny for mankind, faith in the ultimate triumph of Islam over all religions of the world. It was faith that made irresistible the advance of the Muslim forces of Islam as well as of its missionary forces. And unless that faith was restored to the Muslim heart, it was impossible to make Muslims walk along the road of advancement. The Hindus have a conviction that they can revive the ancient Vedic glory of India and they are making all kinds of sacrifices in the cause of that faith. It is faith in the superiority of the German race and German culture that Hitler had revived in the bosoms of the German people, before whose sacrifices the mightiest empires trembled. It was faith in Islam which the Mujaddid infused into the breasts of the small band of his followers whose sacrifices have made possible the planting of the banner of Islam in the heart of Christendom. It was faith that made Islam a world-wide force in the beginning and it is faith alone that can make it a dynamic force again. There can be no conquest without sacrifice, and there can be no sacrifice without faith, and faith in the spiritual force of a religion which God had raised in accordance with His promise given to the great Messenger who was chosen to reveal that Message to humanity.

Over and above this, the Mujaddid had to direct the attention of the Muslims to the great work of the propagation of Islam. Muslims were in a state of utter bewilderment, not knowing what to do. Like a drowning man, they would catch at every drifting straw. Now, they would look for their salvation in blind imitation of the West; now in a stubborn opposition to it. Disappointed in one place, they would turn to yet another. The Mujaddid came to awaken them to the secret of their own power. The Holy Quran, he told them, was a stupendous force and could shake whole mountains of obstacles. This great truth, the Muslims had lost all sight of - the truth embodied in the Quranic verse:

If We send this Quran down on a mountain, you will find it shaking and going to pieces (59:21).

And so the main mission of the mujaddid, which in fact was all-comprehensive, including external defence as well as internal reformation, came to be the propagation of Islam.

The Propagation of Islam was the very first cry of this Mujaddid of the fourteenth century raised, as soon as he was called to office. Ever since, right till his last breath on this earth, he held aloft this one banner of Islam. Now, you find him dealing with the Brahmu Samaj, now meeting the Arya Samaj. Again, he was at grips with Christianity or establishing the superiority of Islam over Buddhism. His heart was burning with the desire that the banner of Islam may some day be unfurled both in the East and the West. He had a deep conviction in the intrinsic worth of the Quran. He was confident the world could not help submitting to the force of its teaching. Not steel, but rational persuasion and spiritual signs could captivate the heart of humanity.

Propagation of Islam was the Mujaddid’s sole mission, but he had also to remove the obstacles that were there in the way. It was impossible to meet Christianity or to propagate Islam amongst the Christians unless Jesus were kept to his proper place – a prophet among the prophets of God - eating and drinking like them, subject to other human needs like them, changeable in his physical condition and also dead like all the rest of them. Nor could any such idea as the propagation of Islam by the Mahdi at the point of the sword produce anything but disgust in the hearts of men. So, he who came with the mission of the propagation of Islam, had, first of all, to clear these obstacles out of the way.

The world of Islam owes a debt of gratitude to the mujaddid for the unique service he rendered to the cause of Islam in removing these two misconceptions. In the face of these, Islam could have not the least chance even of a hearing. These two facts he established as clearly as broad daylight - the fact that Jesus was not a whit superhuman, that he was human in the fullest sense of the word and the fact that never in the days of the Holy Prophet was Islam propagated at the point of the sword, nor even in future would it be propagated in that way. This was a matter of sheer necessity for Islam could not possibly make any headway in the face of these obnoxious ideas. And so the Mujaddid had to deal with them. But prejudice dies hard. His action was viewed with misgiving and he was accused of introducing innovations into religion.


Books Section > Call of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali > The Fourteenth-Century's Reformer / Mujaddid [Discusses: The Death of Jesus; The Descent of the Messiah; The Imam Mahdi; Dajjal, Gog and Magog; No Claim to Prophethood; The Work Before the Mujaddid]