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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 > by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian > A Correction of an Error [Ek Ghalti ka Izala] by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib > Introduction to 'A Correction of an Error (Ek Ghalati Ka Izala)'

Introduction to --
A Correction of an Error
(Ek Ghalati Ka Izala):

by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian

Introduction by Sheikh Muhammad Tufail Sahib
Taken from: Prophethood in Islam [English Translation of 'An-Nubuwwat fil-Islam' by Maulana Muhammad Ali] [pp. 605-614]

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Note 1:

Ek Ghalati ka Izalah by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, has been rousing a great controversy between the two sections of the Movement since 1915. The Qadian section holds that the Founder refused to be called a prophet, prior to the publication of this booklet, although all the conditions of a prophet were found and fulfilled in him, but as he took these conditions to be those of a muhaddath, therefore, he always called himself a Muhaddath. The change occurred in or a little before 1901 when the reality of prophethood dawned on him. "The first evidence of this change in his belief seems to be the booklet Ek Ghalati ka Izalah," writes Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, Head of the Qadian Ahmadis, "and this is the first written evidence" (Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat, p. 124). Now as a change in the belief of his prophethood, or definition or condition, meaning or understanding of prophethood had taken place therefore, "All the writings before 1901 wherein the Promised Messiah disclaimed prophethood stand abrogated, and it is wrong to argue on their basis" (Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat, p. 121).

As compared to this, the position of Lahore Ahmadis is quite simple to understand. They believe that regarding prophethood the view point of the Founder was consistent throughout. The question of change in belief, definition or claim of prophethood, therefore, does not arise. The words ‘prophet’ and ‘messenger’ were used by him in the metaphorical and literal sense before and even after 1901. This did not mean that he was a claimant to actual prophethood. It is equally wrong that for full thirteen years he could not differentiate between prophet and muhaddath. Such charge against him does not find support from his own writings. Even on the publication of this booklet nobody from among the Ahmadiyya community took it as a manifesto of prophethood; nobody even thought that the Founder had introduced something new about his claims.

On the announcement of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad in his book Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat that the Founder changed his belief in respect of prophethood, 70 Ahmadis, including Maulana Muhammad Ali, Head of the Lahore Section, who had taken the oath of allegiance of the Founder in or before the year 1901, declared as under:

"We, the following signatories, take a solemn oath that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, laid no claim to prophethood when, in 1891, he promulgated that the death of Jesus Christ was fully substantiated by the Holy Quran and that he was the Ibn-i Maryam who, in accordance with the Holy Prophet's saying, was to appear among the Muslim ummah. Some ulama, of course, created misunderstanding about him, and pronounced on him the sentence of heresy on the mere assumption that he was a claimant to prophethood. The Promised Messiah, thereupon, asseverated many a time, as is also clear from his writings, that it was palpably a false allegation against him. Prophethood, he affirmed, had come to an end with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and he who laid a claim to it after the Holy Prophet was an insidious impostor and a veritable liar. The terms nabi and rasul, Hazrat Mirza explained, which are found in some of his revelations, as also the word nabi which had been used in the Hadith for the coming Messiah, had not been used in their real sense to mean a prophet, but in the topical sense to denote a muhaddath who might also be called a zilli nabi, i.e., the reflection of a prophet. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is indeed the Last Prophet and no prophet, new nor old, could appear after him. Furthermore, we declare on solemn oath that we took the baiat [pledge] of the Promised Messiah before November 1901. The statement by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, leader of the Qadian section that the Promised Messiah did not claim prophethood prior to 1901, but it was in November 1901 that he changed his claim and became a claimant to prophethood and that all his writings of ten or twelve years which disclaimed prophethood stood abrogated ... is utterly false and diametrically opposed to facts. We solemnly declare by the Most High God that it never occurred to us that in 1901 the Promised Messiah had introduced a change in his claim and that all his earlier books which were replete with denial of claim to prophethood, stood abrogated, nor we ever heard such words from (the lips of) any man until Mirza Mahmud Ahmad professed and proclaimed them."

Signed by: 1. (Maulvi) Sayyid Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi; 2. (Maulvi) Muhammad Abdullah Khan Patialvi; 3. (Maulvi) Muhammad Mubarak Ali (Sialkoti); 4. (Maulvi) Ghulam Hasan, sub-registrar, Peshawar; 5. (Maulvi Hakim) Mirza Khuda Bakhsh, author of Asal Musaffa; 6. (Maulvi) Muhammad Ali (Lahore); 7. (Maulvi) Muhammad Yahya (Debgaran); 8. (Maulvi) Muhammad Yaqub (Debgaran); 9. (Shaikh) Rahmatullah (Merchant, Lahore); 10. Dr. Mirza Yaqub Beg (Lahore); 11. Shaikh Ziaullah (former headmaster, Taleem-ul-Islam School, Qadian); 12. (Maulvi) Muhammad Hasan Quraishi, Qiladar; 13. (Baba) Hidayatullah (poet Punjabi, Lahore); 14. (Mian) Nabi Bakhsh (Government Pensioner, Lahore); 15. Dr. Sayyid Tufail Husain (Lahore); 16. Mirza Jamal-ud-din, copyist (Lahore); 17. Shaikh Din Muhammad (Lahore); 18. (Master) Faqirullah (Lahore); 19. Dr. Nabi Bakhsh (Bhati Gate, Lahore); 20. Hafiz Fazl Ahmad (presently Badomalhi); 21. Hafiz Ghulam Rasul (Trader, Wazirabad); 22. Chaudhry Ghulam Hasan (former Station Master, resident of Lowairiwala); 23. Shaikh Ghulam Husain Siddiqi Ahmadi (Sialkot); 24. Shaikh Muhammad Jan (Merchant, Wazirabad); 25. Shaikh Abdur Rahman (Wazirabad); 26. (Maulvi) Aziz Bakhsh, B.A. (Dera Ghazi Khan); 27. Wali Muhammad, court reader (Dera Ghazi Khan); 28. (Master) Ghulam Muhammad, B.A. (Headmaster, Rawalpindi); 29. Hakim Sardar Khan (brother of the late Hakim Shah Nawaz, Rawalpindi); 30. (Seth) Ahmad-ud-din (former Municipal Commissioner, Jehlum); 31. Shaikh Qamar-ud-din (optician, Jehlum); 32. Mistri Abdus Sattar (Jhelum); 33. Shaikh Ghulam Muhayy-ud-din (appeal recorder, Jehlum); 34. (Maulvi) Muhammad Ibrahim (Imam mosque, Jehlum); 35. Dr. Hayat Muhammad (Tooth-maker, Rawalpindi); 36. Babu Allah Bakhsh (Officers' Clerk, Jhelum); 37. Babu Abdul Haq (Clerk, Canal Department, Jehlum); 38. (Mistri) Abdul Sattar (Jehlum); 39. (Mistri) Yaqub Ali (Jammu); 40. Master Muhammad Ramzan (Jammu); 41. Malik Sher Muhammad Khan (B.A., Personal Assistant, Jammu); 42. Mufti Fazl Ahmad (Jammu); 43. (Mistri) Shahab-ud-din (Jammu); 44. Muhammad Shah (Jammu); 45. Nawab Khan (Jammu); 46. Sayyid Masud Shah (Teacher, Jammu); 47. (Mistri) Nizam-ud-din (Jammu); 48. Sayyid Amir Ali Shah (Pensioner sub-Inspector); 49. Shaikh Hidayatullah (Peshawar); 50. Ramzan Ali (Peshawar); 51. Mian Muhammad Makki (Peshawar); 52. Sayyid Lal Shah Barq (Peshawar); 53. Shaikh Fazl Karim (Peshawar); 54. (Munshi) Nawab Khan (sub-Inspector Police, Gujranwala); 55. Shaikh Maula Bakhsh (Sialkot); 56. Hakim Shams-ud-din (Sialkot); 57. Mian Boora (Sialkot); 58. Allah Din (Sialkot); 59. Shaikh Muhammad Jan (Trader, Sialkot Cantonment); 60. Babu Ata Muhammad (Engineer, Sialkot); 61. Mirza Hakim Beg (Sialkot); 62. Mistri Muhammad Akbar (Contractor, Sialkot); 63. Mistri Abdullah (Sialkot); 64. Muhammad-ud-din (Sialkot); 65. Haji Fazl-ud-din (Sialkot); 66. Sayyid Amjad Ali (Court Inspector); 67. (Dr.) Hasan Ali; 68. Muhammad Sarfraz Khan (numberdar, Badomalhi); 69. Shaikh Muhammad Naseeb (former Head Clerk, Qadian); 70. Abdul Haq (Rawalpindi)

Note 2:

Had there been no such evidence even then the contents of this booklet show that it was not the error of the Founder himself which he wanted to rectify. It was the mistake of an ignorant follower who said something which was not correct and the Founder wanted to correct his error.

The first two paragraphs make it clear and also confirm what he had already said in his earlier books. There is nothing to show that he is effecting any change in his beliefs. He refers back to his earliest book Barahin Ahmadiyya in support of his views. The use of the word 'prophet' in a limited sense or by way of metaphor, zill or baruz has been frequently made by him in his works throughout. But this never meant real prophethood.

I quote below a few of such references:

"The coming Messiah on account of being a muhaddath is also called metaphorically a prophet" (Izalah Auham, p. 349, published 1891).

"If muhaddathiyyah is looked upon as prophethood metaphorically does it connote claim to prophethood?" (Ibid., p. 422).

"In a metaphorical sense God may speak of one of His inspired servants as a prophet or a messenger .... Arabs till now call a messenger of another person a rasul: why should it then be forbidden for God to use this word mursal (sent one) in a metaphorical sense? Don't you remember the Quranic verse (36:14): "They said, we are messengers to you (mursal)" (Siraj-i Munir, p.3, published 1897).

"This humble servant has never claimed to be a prophet or messenger in the real sense of the word. To use a word in its ordinary literal or some other sense is not a matter of disbelief" (Anjam Atham, p. 27 footnote, published 1898).

"Here the use of the words 'messenger' and 'prophet' in divine communication are just by way of metaphor and simile" (Arba'in, p. 3 footnote, published 1899).

"To use the word 'prophet' or 'messenger' for him is not improper but is an eloquent simile" (Tuhfah Golarwiyya, supplement, p. 24 footnote, 1902).

"I have been called prophet by God only by way of metaphor and not by way of reality" (Haqiqat al-Wahy, Supplement, Istifta, p. 65, 1907).

Note 3:

The Founder has taken great pains to clarify his standpoint in the Correction of an Error. He has tried to give a description of his inner experience of the complete surrender of his self before the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. He wanted to convey this feeling of absorption in the personality of the Holy Prophet in different words, words which are a very defective medium of expression. He often made use of symbolic, metaphorical, suggestive and mystical terms to explain this central fact of spiritual experience. He called it a stage of annihilation in the Holy Prophet (Fana fir-Rasul) (para 4).

In para 13 he explained the term baruz and said "the office of baruz is in accordance with this verse:

"I become thee and thou become me,
I become the body and thou become the soul;
So that nobody should thereafter say we are apart."

Muslim saints and mystics also used similar terms and similes to make this great spiritual fact known to the common man. Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi says:

With Thy Sweet soul, this soul of mine,
Hath mixed as Water doth with Wine.

Who can the Wine and Water part,
Or me and Thee when we combine?

Thou art become my greater self;
Small bounds no more can me confine.

Thou hast my being taken on,
And shall not I now take on Thine?

Me Thou for ever hast affirmed,
That I may ever know Thee mine.

Thy Love has pierced me through and through,
Its thrill with Bone and Nerve entwine.

I rest a Flute laid on Thy lips;
A lute, I on Thy breast recline.

Breathe deep in me that I may Sigh;
Yet strike my strings, and tears shall shine."

(Hastie's translation).

Quotations from Maktubat by Mujaddid Alf Thani of Sirhind and Hujjat al-Allah al-Balighah by Shah Wali Ullah Muhaddath of Delhi could also be multiplied.

Another kind of symbolism has been used by Sufis like Aziz ibn Muhammad Nafasi, Attar . . . . The latter in his mystical poem "The Colloquy of the Birds" (Mantiq at-Tair) describes in detail seven stages of spiritual journey. The last stage is the Valley of Annihilation of Self. (Self-annihilation with the Founder of the Movement is just another form of self-fulfilment).

We can explain it in another way too. It is just putting a piece of dark, hard and black iron in fire which, after sometime, changes its colour and begins to give light. The iron does not cease to be iron but, it has acquired the properties of fire, it has become just like fire. So this is what happens when a great soul is absorbed in the love of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It is at this stage that the names Muhammad and Ahmad are given to him, but he gets these names only by way of metaphor. Another material simile is that of a transparent mirror which reflects the face of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in another person. All these expressions should not be misunderstood. The use of the term prophet by way of baruz or zill or metaphor does not make him a real prophet as much as the use of the words 'Muhammad' and 'Ahmad' and even Khatam al-Anbiya in the same sense does not make him that (Para 11).

In the Hadith true visions have been mentioned as a part of prophethood. Again ulama of this ummah have been called like the Israelite prophets. Moreover, in the writings of other Mujaddids and saints such words expressing the conception of partial prophethood or zilli nubuwwat have also been used. Maulana Jalal ud-Din Rumi says:

"When you place your hand over the hand of your Pir (spiritual guide),
For the sake of prudence say: he is knower of all subtleties and aware.

He is the prophet of his time, O disciple,
Because the light of prophethood is manifested through him.

Strive to render some good service,
So that you may find prophethood in the midst of followership."

Sheikh Abdul Haq Muhaddath of Delhi, commentator of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani's Futuh al-Ghaib says that:

"Sainthood is the shadow of prophethood" (Wilayat zill-i nubuwwat ast).

Maulana Ismail Shaheed writes that till the Day of Resurrection in this ummah there will be persons "who will resemble prophets and they will be the zill of risalat" (Sirat-i Mustaqim, Introduction).

The following references from Ibn al-`Arabi, the versatile Muslim genius of Spain, may also be read with interest:

"Prophethood will continue till the Day of Resurrection in the world. Providing a code is but one function of prophethood. It is impossible that the information from God and the knowledge of His universe should discontinue" (Ibn al-Arabi by S.A.Q. Hussaini, p. 79).

Prophethood, which is continued according to Ibn al-Arabi, is bestowed upon the saints of this ummah:

"Myself and those who follow me are scholars about God, and are among those people whom God has appointed in the place of His messengers in summoning men towards Him with the tongue of reality in virtue of the abstract prophethood which we hold of them in the matter of expounding truth - not prophethood with a code, but prophethood to protect the rule of the code through the insight of a protector and not through blind following. Prophethood with a code is quite different from prophethood in the absolute sense" (p. 80).

Our Qadiani friends sometimes argue that Ibn al-`Arabi likewise did believe in the continuity of prophethood but they forget that his conception of prophethood is such as is only confined to the saints of this ummah. The kind of prophethood which was given to the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, or prophets before him has ended forever:

"The saints are capable of prophethood of information, but are not capable of prophethood of a code" (p. 87).

"Be it known that prophethood of man is of two kinds: the first is from God to man without an angelic spirit between him and God. This office gives him divine information which he finds in his own self from the hidden sources or through revelation. These do not include commandments or prohibition, but only impart divine knowledge or knowledge about the truth of the code rules.

"The second kind of human prophethood is of men who can be called disciples of angels. The trustworthy spirit comes with a code in their opinion from God. He allows whatever he likes and forbids whatever he dislikes. These took place before the days of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)" (p. 81).

A saying of Imam Qurtubi is mentioned in Fath al-Bari:

"Qurtubi says that a true and pious Muslim is he whose case resembles the case of prophets and he is honoured like prophets with the knowledge of the Unseen."

If we compare these references with the writings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement we find striking similarities. Some of the references have been quoted above while the remaining will be found in the Analysis of this booklet.

These introductory remarks, it is hoped, will help the reader, who is not acquainted with the general tone of the writings of the Founder, to understand his trend of thoughts. He has himself summed up thus the whole question in the last paragraph:

"Now, what I mean is that the ignorant opponents accuse me of claiming to be a prophet or messenger. I lay no such claim. I am neither a prophet nor a messenger as they think me to be. Of course, I am a prophet and a messenger in the sense, I have just explained. Thus anybody who, by way of mischief, imputes to me the claim of prophethood and messengership is indulging in a lie and profane thought. I have been made prophet and messenger by way of baruz. Only on this account God has repeatedly given me the name of a prophet and messenger, but in the form of baruz. My own self is not involved in it. It is through the mediation of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and accordingly I have been called "Muhammad" and "Ahmad". Hence prophethood and messengership was not passed on to anybody else. What belongs to Muhammad remains with Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)."

In case any further clarification is required, the reader is requested to consult my comments.

S. M. Tufail


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 > Introduction to 'A Correction of an Error (Ek Ghalati Ka Izala)'