Mirza Ghulam Ahmad - The Mehdi Messiah of Qadian
GRISWOLD, H.D. - "Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: The Mehdi Messiah of Qadian."
Lodiana, India, American Tract Society. 1902.
Much of this article relates to the apocryphal Ahmadiyya claim that Christ did not die on the cross but came to Kashmir and died in Srinagar. The collection of Griswold Papers at Cornell University does not include this article and it is not mentioned in the catalogues of the American Bible Society, British Library, Library of Congress, New York Public Library or OCLC. It is mentioned in the "Ahmadiya Bibliography" in H.A. Walter's The Ahmadiya Movement (Calcutta: Association Press/Oxford University Press, 1918). Walters indicates that Griswold was personally acquainted with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and cites quotations from conversations with Ahmad at Qadian. He notes in the Preface that Dr. Griswold, who was Secretary of the Council of American Presbyterian Missions in India, and Rev. Thakur Dass, had in their pamphlets answered from the Christian viewpoint the claim of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the "Promised Messiah" who has come "in the spirit and power" of Christ.
review by James Hurley, New Jersey, USA
MIRZA GHULAM AHMAD
The Mahdi Messiah of Qadian,
H. D. Griswold.
The American Tract Society
In the Village Of Qadian, [Gurdaspur] District, [Punjab], there lives an old man about Sixty four years of age, venerable in appearance, Magnetic in personality, and active in intellect. This is the Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, Chief of the village of Qadian, and hence popularly known as the "Qadiani" founder of the Ahmadiyah Sect: a new Sect in Islam named after himself. His family is of Moghal descent, having emigrated from Samarkand, Turkistan, in the reign of Babar. Following the example of his father [Mirza Ghulam Murtaza] Khan, who was an hakim or Yunani Physician, he himself professes to be expert in medicine, (witness his [plague pamphlets]). He claims to be enthusiastically loyal to the British Government, and he cites as proof of the loyalty of his family the services rendered to Government by his father and elder brother(or Cousin) during the mutiny of 1857, on account of which the letter (sic) received honourable mention in Sir Lepel Griffin's book, "The Punjab Chiefs"(Vol II.PP.49---50, new edition by Massy). Religious enthusiasm, if not ambition, seems to run in the family. Mirza Imam-ud-Din1 a first cousin of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, became the Guru of the chuhra or sweeper community and claims to be the successor of Lal Beg. In like manner, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed himself glories in being the founder of a new Sect, end claims to be the present day successor and representative of Jesus Christ. So much for the man. We now cone to his claims.
The Mirza Sahib claims to be at once the promised Mahdi and the promised Messiah. This is against the ordinary Mohammedan belief that these will be not one person, but two seperate (sic) persons. That is, the Mahdi will be a descendant of Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad and mother of Hussain, and the Messiah will be the Lord Jesus Christ at his second coming. Both the Mahdi and the Messiah will be men of blood, who together will fight against the Kafirs until they are over come. Such is the orthodox view. From this description of the premised Mahdi one might conclude a priori that many Soi disant Mahdis would be likely to appear in the course of the history of Islam, and, as a matter of fact, several have appeared, the Sudanese Mahdi being the most notable.
He and his successor were wild fanatics, who wought to fulfil to the letter the expectation of a bloody-witness the fanatical heroism of the letter on the field of Omdurman. But so far as I am aware, among Mohammedans, with the exception of [Biha Ullah] the successor of the Ban (sic) and one or two mad man, the mirza sahib alone has had the boldness to claim to be the promised Messiah. Through his claim to be at once the promised Mahdi and the promised Messiah the Mirza Sahib desires, it would seem, to focus all the Messianic expectations of Islam upon his own person. Thus in two respects the Qadiani doctrine of the Mahdi is heretical as tried by the standard of Muslim orthodoxy. First, the promised Mahdi and the promised Messiah are to be one person - not two - and that person has already come and lives at Qadian. Secondly, the Mahdi is to be a man of peace, not a man of blood, The Lord Jesus Christ was a man of peace, and so the Mirza Sahib - in his assumed character as the "[Masil-i-Masih]" or the analogue and representative of Christ for this generation, must also be a man of peace. Of the two ideas, the idea of the Messiah and the idea of the Mahdi, the former is determinative and the later subordinate and so when they are fused together and applied to one person, the idea of the [Mahdi] will add nothing to the idea of the Messiah, except, perhaps to emphasize the notion of spirtual warfare. This then is the theory which underlies the Mirza Sahib's polemic against the doctrines of a bloody Mahdi and the kindred doctrine of Jihad. As he says: "To believe in me as the promised Messiah and Mehdi is to disbelieve in the popular doctrine of jihad" (Memorial to Sir William Mackworth Young, March 5th,1898).
But the Mirze 5ahib's most important claim is that he is The Promised Messiah. By this he does not mean that he is the very person of Jesus Christ reincarnsted in India, for he does not accept the doctrine of Transmigration. His meaning simply this that just as, according to the interpretation of Jesus, John the Baptist was the Elijah which was to come (Matt: XI 14.), because he came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke i, 17), so he, the Mirza Sahib, is the Messiah which is to come, because he was come in the "spirit and power" of Christ. The grounds of his claim to be the promised Messiah may be summarised under three heads, namely Critical, prophetic and historical.
First, then, the critical ground. Briefly stated, it is this that on the basis of all the evidences available, the Mirza Sahib concludes that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross. His reasons for this conclusion are as follows:-
- Certain, inferences based upon the Gospel narratives, to the effect that Jesus when He was removed from the Cross was not really dead, but only unconscious through loss of blood and the pain of the wounds in his hands, feet and side. He remained on the cross only a few hours, and his legs were not broken. Moreover, the women who came to anoint His body were asked: "why seek ye the living among the died?" (Luke xxic.5) And finally the Post Crucifixion appearances of Jesus to his disciples were those of the body of a living man and not of a disembodied spirit; Since He ate and drank with His disciples and allowed them to touch him. In short, this is a revival of the "Swoon theory".
- The Marham-i-Isa or "ointment of Jesus" otherwise called the "ointment of the disciples" is refered to as "the first" clue to this all important discovery." According to the Mirza Sahib, this ointment is spoken of by Jewish, Christian, Parsee, and Muhammaden physicians alike, and over a thousand books on medicine contain a description of it" ([Kashful Ghita] P. 25). The Mirza Sahib's theory is that after three days Jesus recovered from the swoon and that than the disciples applied this wonderful ointment to his wounds with such success that within the space of forty days He was entirely healed and ready for foreign travel. It is unnecessary to say that we have here the "fraud theory" of the resurrection, the disciples of Jesus being represented as acquainted with the facts and yet solemnly declaring that Jesus rose from the died.
- The Mirza Sahib refers to the Russian traveller, Jesus Died in Kashmir's "[Unknown Life of Christ]" in proof of this his thesis that Jesus actually visited India after his escape from the Cross. That is, the forty days which, according to the New Testament narrative, are followed by the Ascension, are, according to the assertion of the Mirza Sahib, followed by Jesus' separation from His disciples, in order to visit India,Tibet, and Cashmere. It is nudless (sic) to say that the "[Unknown Life of Christ]" ie accepted as anthentic by no competent scholar. But even granting for the sake of argument it is authenticity, it contradicts the conclusion of the Mirza Sahib in two important particulars: (a) It makes Christ visit India not after his crucifixion, but in the interval of sixteen or seventeen years between his visit to Jerusalem at the age of twelve and His public appearance at the age of thirty; and (b) it asserts in unequivocal language the actual death of Jesus Christ on the Gross.(pp.l33,195).
- The Mirza Sahib claims that there is archaeological evidence that Jesus visited India and died in Cashmere at the advance age of 120. The tomb of a certain Yus-ASAF is situated in Khan Yar Street, Srinagar. It is asserted that the keepers of this tomb regard it as the tomb of a Shahzada-Nabi or Prince-Prophet. But Muhammad was the last of the Prophets. Therefore it must have been one of the Hebrew Prophets. Whose tomb could it be but that of Jesus? Besides, the first part of the name Yus-Asaf is clearly a corruption of Yasu(1) or Jesus, and Asaf (from Hebrew asaf together) means gatherer. Hence according to the Qadiani interpretation Yus Asaf means Jesus the Gatherer of the lost sheep (i.e., the ten lost tribes) of the house of Israel.
- The Mirza Sahib cites the testimony of the apacryphet (sic) Gospel of Barnabas, which he regards as genuine, in support of his contention that Christ died did not die on the cross.
- In "A Prospectus of the Review of Religions" the Mirza Sahib writes: "The spiritual death of Christianity is important evidence of the death of its founder; for if Jesus is living, why does not his influence work?"
- Jesus' interpretation of "the Sign of Jonah the prophet" is regarded by the Mirza Sahib as a confirmation of the same view. Jesus said: "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt xii.40). But, says the prophet of Qadian, Jonah entered the belly of the fish alive, remained there alive, and came out alive. So must Jesus have entered the tomb alive, remained there alive, and come out alive, in order to make the analogy complete.
It will be observed that the Mirza Sahib's theory of the death of Christ may be summed up in two theses: (a) Negatively, Jesus did not die on the cross in Jerusalem; and (b) positively, he did die in Srinagar, Cashmere. For the first thesis the proof is found
- In certain inferences from the Gospel narratives which contradict their uniform tenor,
- In the testimony of the spurious Gospel of Barnabas
- In the unfounded statements concerning the MARHAM-i-ISA and
- in the asserted spiritual death of Christianity.
In like manner, the second thesis depends for its proof upon the unauthenticated testimony of a Russian adventure, together with the imaginary archaelogy of a poor little tomb in Srinagar, clearly that of a Muhammaden Pir (SAINT).
From all this, it is manifest that the Mirza Sahib is at once very clever at the manipulation and manufacture of evidence and very ignorant of the principles which govern historical research and determine the comparative value of historical sources. The adventure of the Mirza Sahib in the field of literary and historical criticism can not be pronounced a success. But the Qadiani Savant demonstrates, to his own satisfaction at least, that Jesus did not die on the cross at Jerusalem, but died in Cashmere. This theory of the death of Christ is given great emphasis, because in the view of the Mirza Sahib it is absolutely fundamental to his claim to be the promised Messiah. In a verbatim report of a discussion between the Mirza Sahib and the Delhi Maulvis, which took place Oct 5,1891, the Mirza Sahib says: "If Christ was in reality exalted in body form alive to heaven, then there is no need of further controversy, and my claim to be the promised Messiah is in vain. The reason is that my claim is based upon the natural death(Wafat) of the Son of Mary." That is, if the Christian belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross, rose again the third day, and ascended into Heaven, be true, then the predicted second coming of Jesus Christ will be the second coming of "this same Jesus" (Acts I.11) and not of one who comes merely in His "spirit and power." Hence the Mirza Sahib tries to break down the Christian belief that Jesus passed by the way of death and resurrection into the glory of His Father, and also the Muhammadan belief that Jesus Christ without death was "taken up" to God. His conclusion is that "Christ died like ordinary mortals" ([Kashful Ghita], P.l3) and the consequences which he would draw from this conclusion areas are as follows:-
(A) Negatively,(1) the over throw of the doctrine of Christ's sacrificial death, resurrection, ascension and second coming as accepted by Christians and (2) the overthrow of the belief that Christ was "taken up" to God and will come again to the help of the Mahdi as accepted by Muhammadans; and (B) positively, the leaving of the way open for the coming of one who will come in "the spirit and power" of Christ, yea who has already come in the person of the Moghul Messiah, Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian.
So much for the first ground of the Mirza Sahib's claim to be the promised Messiah, namely his Critical theory of the death of Christ. We now come to the second or prophetic basis of his claim.
In the first number of "[The Review of Religions]"(Jan 1902,P.1) it is formulated thus: "Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whom God has chosen to be his Messiah, has come in fulfilment of the prophecies given to Jews, Christians and Muhammadans." First, then, as to the alleged Jewish prophecies concerning the Mirza Sahib and his Mission. It is chiefly by resorting to typology that the Mirza Sahib finds in the old testament material suited to his purpose. He has a doctrine of "Parallelism", which l heard from his own lips at Qadian. Briefly stated it is this:- There are two tribes of fundamental importance in divine revelation namely, the children of Israel and the children of Ishmael.
The great prophet of the former were Moses and Christ. Christ was the final prophet of the Jews, the last brick in their national and religious structure. Their rejectiono f Christ involved their own rejection and the loss of their nationality. Then came the turn of the children of the children of Ishmael. According to Deut:XVIII.18, a prophet was raised 'Like Unto' Moses from among the 'brethren' of the Israelites in the person of the great law-giver "Muhammad" (Rev of Rel. May 1902 P. 206). Muhammad therefore was the first Ishmaelitish prophet, as it were the Moses of Islam. But Moses and Christ were separated by an interval of twelve or fourteen centuries. Hence, in order to preserve the parallelism, another prophet must arise twelve or fourteen centuries after Muhammad, who will be, as it were, the Christ of Islam. Who can this be but Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian? The relation between these great prophets may be set forth in the form of a proportion. Thus, as Moses is to Christ, so Muhammad is to Ghulam Ahmad; or again, as Muhammad is to Moses, so the Mirza Sahib is to Jesus Christ. In a word, as Moses is a type of Muhammad, so Jesus of Nazareth is a type of Ahmad of Qadian.
But the Mirza Sahib, on the basis of Jewish prophecy, claims to be not only the Messiah of Islam, but also the Second Adam. Here, too, a theory of parallelism or resemblance is determinative. At the close of the sixth day, God created the first Adam. But one day is with the Lord as a thousand years. Therefore at the lose of sixth millennium or the beginning of the seventh, the second Adam is to appear. But we are now at the beginning of the seventh millennium, if we reckon according to the Lunar year, which his the inspired mode of reckoning; and so the time is fulfilled for the Second Adam to be manifested. Where is the second Adam to appear? "In the East and not in the West," says the Mirza Sahib, "for from Gen.ii.8, we learn, that God had put the first Adam in a garden eastward. It is therefore necessary that the Second Adam should appear in the East, in order to have a resemblance with the first in respect of his locality" (Rev. of Rel. Jan. 1902, P. 15). It may not be out of place to remark here, for the benefit of those who practice an extremely literalistic interpretation of the chronological and geographical details of Scripture, that people like the Qadiani Sahib can use the same methods.
We now come to the alleged Christian prophecies concerning the Mirza Sahib, i.e., those found in the New Testament. It is absolutely essential to the Mirza Sahib's position to show that by the second coming of Christ is meant, not a personal coming of the same Jesus who suffered on the Cross, but only the advent of one coming in His "Spirit and power." This he attempts to prove in two ways, (1) through a comparison between Ellijah and Jesus, and (2) through his theory of the death of Christ. As regards the first point, the Mirza Sahib refers (Tauzih-i-Maram, pp.1-4) to the fact that in the Bible only two persons are said to have gone to Heaven alive and to be expected tus to return, namely Elijah and Jesus. But according to the interpretation of Jesus, the second coming of Elijah (Mal. iv.5) was fulfilled in the coming of another person in his "spirit and power", namely John the Baptist. But by analogy, the second coming of Jesus must be fulfilled in the same way, i.e., by the coming of another person in His "spirit and power". This interpretation is further strengthened by the Mirza Sahibs' View of the death of Christ. He did not die on the Cross and so the doctrine of a literal resurrection and ascension, which is bound up with the doctrine of His Sacrificial death on the Cross, is a myth. Jesus died in Cashmere like any ordinary man, and this resurrection will be at the time of the resurrection of all men. He is not risen. How then can He return in person? Hence His second coming must be the coming of another person in His "Spirit and Power". This is the ground on which the Mirza Sahib refers all New Testament prophecies of the second coming of Christ to himself. As he says: "The promised one has come and is among you" (Kashf-ul-Ghita, p.26).
The Mirza Sahib has an interesting doctrine of the Millennium, which is based largely upon the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse. In fact, be teaches three millenniums: (a) the millennium of the Devil's imprisonment (A-D. 1---1000), during which time the prophet Muhammad appeared; (b) the millennium of the Devils' freedom and renewed activity marked by the declension of Islam and a terrible growth of evil; and (c) the millennium of Gods' reign, the down of which has already appeared, since the promised Messiah has come.
As usual the lunar year is the basis of reckoning. Thus, according to the Mirza Sahib, "the days in which we are living mark the termination of the respite granted to Satan,**** , but as he does not like that his freedom should be restrained and his authority taken away, a struggle between the good and evil attractions must naturally be the result" (the 'good attraction' being the Mirza Sahib and the 'evil attraction' those who oppose him). Note, that, according to the Mirza Sahib, both advents are followed by a millennium, -----the advent of Jesus of Nazareth by the negative millennium of the Devils' imprisonment, and the advent of Ahmad of Qadian by the positive millennium of the Kingdom of God.
The passages in Muhammadan literature which the Mirza Sahib refers to himself are found in the Quran and in the Ahadis. From the Quran there is the well-known prediction of a coming one whose name is Ahmad, which runs as follows: "And (remember) when Jesus the son of Mary said. O Children of Israel, of a truth I am God's apostle to you to confirm the law which was given before me, and to announce an Apostle that shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad". * 2
This is the Quranic Version of Christ's prediction of the Holy spirit, the comforter parakletos John xiv.2, xvi.7), in which, according to the orthodox Muhammadan interpretation, Jesus prophecied the coming of Muhammad (h2. Ahmad 'the praised' Periklutos). The Mirza Sahib refers this prophecy to himself, because he professes to have come in the "spirit and power" of Muhammad (Rev. of Rel. Aug 1902. pp. 331-332) and because he bears the name Ahmad (Vid. Izala-i-Auham.p.673). Dr. Imad-ud-Din points out (Tanzin-ul-Aqwal, pp. 11-17) that from the 15th century on no less than four bearing the name of Ahmad have appeared in India and made extraordinary claims. Their names are, (1) Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind, (2) Saiyad Ahmad Ghazi of Rae Bareilly, who in his assumed character as the Imam Mehdi unstituted a Jihad against the Sikhs (A.D.1826-1827), (3) Syed Ahmad Khan, and (4) the subject of our sketch Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian.
In all of these cases the possession of the name 'Ahmad' seems to have exerted a fatal fascination. The Sudanese Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad of Gondola, who from A.D. 1881 to 1885 was a cause of riot and ruin in the Sudan, bore also the same fateful name., or take the case of Mirza Ali Muhammad the Persian "Bab" Mohammad the prophet of Arabia is reported to have said: "I am the city of Knowledge and Ali is the Gate of the city." Hence the possession of the name 'Ali' on the part of Ali Muhammad, the name of the first of the Twelve Imamas and the name of the gate of the city of knowledge, was in its probable 'Ahmad' in the case of the above-mentioned five. In the light of these facts let no one say: "Whats' in a name?"
But the Mirza Sahibs' name is not Ahmad simply, but Ghulam Ahmad, i.e. Servant of Ahmad (Muhammad). In his assumed character as the promised Ahmad the Mirza Sahib would doubtless be glad to drop the name 'Ghulam', if he could. He virtually does this; for the name of his first important work is "Brahin-i-Ahmadiyyah," i.e., Ahmadiyya proofs, and the name of his sect is The Ahmadiyyah, or the society of the promised Ahmad.
There is no certain reference to the second coming of the Messiah in the Quran. Hence the Mirza Sahib can find no support in Islam for his claim to be the promised Messiah, except in the pages of the Hadis, or sayings ascribed by tradition to Muhammad. For example, the folowing from the SAHIH OF BUKHARI on the authority of Abu Hurairah*3 : "what will be your condition when the son of Mary shall descend among you, and your Imam from you?" Clearly here is a reference both the messiah who will descend from heaven and to the Imam Mehdi who will come from the people of islam. But the Mirza Sahib translates it as follows: "what will be your condition when the Son of Mary shall descend among you? Who is he? He will be your Imam, who will be born from among you." (Tauzih-i-Maram,p). This is interpretation in the interests of the theory that the Messiah and the Mahdi are one person, and that that person is to be born of a Muhammadan family, a condition which renders possible the Mirza Sahib's candidacy for the honours of Messiah ship.
The appelation "Son of Mary" is explained metaphorically (Istiaritan) as referring to some body coming in his "Spirit and Power", another tradition, cited by the Mirza Sahib, is to the effect that when Christ comes, He will break in pieces the Cross. This the Mirza Sahib interprets as a prediction of the destruction of the Religion of the Cross by himself as the promised Messiah and Mahdi through a spiritual Jihad, in which the weapons of war will be goodly arguments and heavenly signs (Vid. Tauzih-i-Maram, p. 7, and Zarurat-ul-Imam,p.24).
It is not necessary to refer to other traditional sayings. Before leaving this point, however, it might be well to ask once for all, "what is the nature and value of the prophetic basis of the Mirza Sahib's claim to be the promised Messiah?" We have already seen that predictions and allusions are cited for this purpose from the Jewish Scriptures, the Christian scriptures and the Muhammadan Hadis. The prophetic basis, then, is threefold, Jewish, Christian and Muhammadan. The Muhammadan basis consists of sayings ascribed by tradition to Muhammad, — sayings often of very uncertain historical value. What of the Jewish and Christian basis? The Mirza Sahib has a way of regarding any verse in either the old testament or the New testament, which fits in with his purpose and doctrine, as authentic and reliable; while, at the same time he holds that the Scriptures have been tampered with and changed.* 4
The Mirza Sahib lays it down as axiomatic that no Christian has a right to appeal to the testimony of the Quran concerning the supernatural in the life of Christ, because "the revelation of the Quran is not with him a divine Revelation, but the fabrication of a man" (Rev. of Rel, April 1902, p. 144). It is a poor rule which will not work both ways. What right has the Mirza Sahib to quote, as the inspired witnesses of this Mission, books which have undergone the extensive "alterations and corruptions" which he claims have taken place? In fact, for the Mirza Sahib the Bill (Bible?) can logically have only the value of a collection of Jewish and Christian traditions.
We now come to the last and in some respects the most important basis of the Mirza Sahib's claim to be the promised Messiah, which I have ventured to call for lack of a better term the historical basis.
In short, it is this that the historical appearance of the Mirza Sahib himself in the likeness of Christ is the supreme proof of his claim to have come in the "spirit and power" of Christ. In his character and personality, in the purity of his heart the wideness of his sympathy, in the peaceful character of his mission, in the signs which accompany his appearance such as miracles and prophecies, and in the political circumstances and moral needs of his age, ----- in a word, as regards his whole character and environment, he claims to be the "Masil-i-Masih" or the one "like unto" Christ. If we analyse these asserted points of resemblance, we shall find that they resolve themselves into two classes: (1) those having to do with the Mirza Sahib's environment, political, moral, and religious, and (2) those touching his Mission, Signs, work, and character. We shall take up these points briefly in the above order.
- A. Parallel between the environment of Jesus of Nazareth and the environment of Ahmad of Qadian.
- As regards political circumstances, the parallel is summed up in the statement that just as the Jewish Messiah appeared in Palestine when it as subject to the Roman Government, so the Moghal Messiah has appeared in India while it is subject to the British Government (Vid. Rev. of Rel., May 1902, p. 206). The question naturally arises at this point, Has the Mirza Sahib any Mission to fulfil toward the people of India as a deliverer from foreign domination? He denies this most emphatically. Moreover we know that Jesus Christ had no such Mission. Hence, the Mirza Sahib in his character as the Masil-i-masih can properly entertain no such ambition. We know too that his family remained loyal to the Government in the trying days of the mutiny. His only political Mission toward the people of india, as he tells us over and over again, is to teach them to be loyal and obedient to the British Government. Nevertheless, the following point is to be noted. In the five articles of faith which the Mirza Sahib published as his "Five principal doctrines" in a memorial to Sir William Mackworth Young, dated March 5th 1898, the third article reads thus: "To preach Islamic truths with reasoning and heavenly signs and to regard GHAZA or JEHAD as prohibited under present circumstances" (italic mine). This reminds us of the papal attitude towards Queen Elizabeth, which is well known to all students of her region. In 1569 Pope Pius V. issued a bull against Elizabeth, absolving her Roman Catholic subjects from their allegiance and Commanding them to wage a Papal Jehad against the Protestant queen. But this absolute command was soon qualified by the bull of Pope Gregory XIII, issued in 1580, which released the English Catholics from the obligation to resist Queen Elizabeth and allowed them to continue their allegiance to her until they should be powerful enough to rebel openly. In other words, the bull of pope Gregory XIII, declared a Papal Jehad against Elizabeth to be impracticable and prohibed under present circumstances." Likewise, according to the Mirza Sahib's article of faith, a Jihad against the non-muslim world is prohibited, not absolutely, but "under present circumstances." If the phrase "under present circumstances" means anything, it must mean this or something like it. It is possible however, that the phrase is meaningless, being used for the sake of literary padding with an inadequate sense of its implication. We will give the Mirza Sahib the benefit of the doubt, especially since the phrase occurs no where else, so far as I know, in his writings.
- As regards conditions, the Mirza Sahib draws a rather impressive parallel between th emoral and religious needs, which nineteen hundred three years ago required the presence of Jesus Christ and the same needs today both in Islam and in Christianity, which will equal insistence, according to the Mirza Sahib, call for the promised Messiah. Morally, the times are out of joint. "Society is rotten to its very core" (Rev. of Rel., p.60) The special sins of Christendom are drunkenness, prostitution, and gambling; and those of Islam are the ghazi spirit, immorality, lack of love, etc., and such evils "call for a reformer." The Mirza Sahib's principle is that necessity itself is proof (Zarurat-ul-Imam) p.25) i.e., since the true reformer has appeared at Qadian, the very necessity which called for him may be cited s proof of the reality of his claims. Religiously, the condition of things is no better. The fear of God has vanished from before the eyes of men. Islam is cursed with the doctrines of Jihad, a bloody Mehdi, and tomb-worship, and besides there is no unity of belief on such important doctrines as the death of Christ and his second coming (Vid. Zarurat-ul-Imam. p. 24-25) and as regards christianity, it is cursed with false doctrines such as the deification of Jesus Christ and belief in His atoning death, of the Jews in the time of Christ, the Pharisees believed too much the sadducees too little, and the whole religious life of the time was marked by formalism in worship and unrighteousness of life. So it is today in Islam. Muhammadens of the old school, who are under the guidance of the ignorant Mullahs, outstrip Roman Catholics and Buddhists in their reverence for Saints and devotion to tomb-worship. In short, they are superstitious and believe too much. On the other hand, Muhammadens of the new school, e.g. the followers of Sir Syed Ahmad, hold very loose views on the subject of revelation and resurrection. They are rationalistic and believe too little. A divinely-appointed Umpire is necessary, in order to arbitrate between the various positions and to restore "the golden mean" such is the Mission which the Mirza Sahib claims for himself. He is Hakam*5 or umpire in religious matters for the present age.
- B. The parallel between the Mission of Jesus of Nazareth and the Mission of Ahmad of Qadian.
- The special claims which the Mirza Sahib makes in respect of his Mission are as follows:
- He claims to be, like Jesus Christ, a divinely appointed Mediator between God and Man, and so a true intercessor with God for man. His doctrine of mediation may be summarised almost in his own words:- The very nature of man calls for a mediator. In order to fulfil his high office, a mediator must have at once a close connection with the divine being and a deep sympathy with mankind; in fact, he must share in the attributes of both. Thus he may be called metaphorically an image of the divine being, the Son of God, or the representative, manifestation, or incarnation of God upon earth (Rev of Rel. Jan. 1902, p.5.). As such he is at once a perfect manifestation of humanity. If the question be raised, why, is it not allowable that every one should suk deliverance for himself by directly repenting before God and asking for protection and support, the answer is that it is the spiritual connection of an imperfect being with a perfect man, by which the former gets a remedy for the weakness of his soul and a deliverance from the passions of the flesh. Those who undergo a perfect regeneration, through such a spiritual connection, acquire all the blessings and morals of the intercessor and become his perfect images. (Ved Rev. of Rel. may 1902, pp. 165-187). Thus as the mediator is the spiritual image of God, so the disciple is in duty bound to become the spiritual image of the mediator. This is the ethical principle of the Ahmadiyya movement. The Christian has little or no fault to find with the abstract doctrine of mediation, as formulated by the Mirza Sahib, since it is taken almost word for word from the New Testament. It is to be noted, however, that the Mirza Sahib teaches the doctrine of mediators many, in apposition to the Christian doctrine that there is one mediator between God and men, the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The special claims which the Mirza Sahib makes in respect of his Mission are as follows:
He says; "It is unreasonable to assert that in the whole world and during all ages there has been but a single manifestation of God. Every age stands in need of new light and a new representative" (Rev. of Rel., Jan. 1902, pp.5-6). In this emphasis on the need of an Imam in every generation (Zarurat-ul-Imam,1898) the affinities of the sage of Qadian are with the Shiahs. The doctrine of an inspired succession of Imams among the Shiahs is the analogue of the doctrine of repeated incarnation among the Hindus.
- The Mirza Sahib claims, in the second place, that he is the divinely appointed UMPIRE (Al-Hakam) to arbitrate among the warring sects and jangling creeds, and the divinily sent Mahdi to wage, with the weapons of second reasoning and clear demonstration, a spiritual Jihad against all enemies of the truth such as Aryas, Christians and Mullah-guided Muhammadans, and especially to destroy from off the earth the mischievous doctrine of the Cross.
- Thirdly, the Mirza Sahib claims that the spirit of his mission is identical with that of the Mission of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus he claims to be a man of peace. There is to be no appeal to the sword. If at times the Mirza Sahib has felt constrained to smite with the sword of his mouth such men as Pandit-Lekh-Ram, Deputy Abdullah Atham, Dr: Henry Martin Clark, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain and Mullah Muhammad Bakhsh, it is because in his opinion these men are like unto the ancient "Scribes, pharisees and hypocrites" which the Lord Jesus denounced.
- : To sum up, the Mirza Sahib claims to be the Imam-uz-Zaman or spiritual leader of his time, the mediator between God and man, the promised Mahdi or spiritual warrior of God, Hakam or divinely-sent Arbitrator, the second Adam, the true Ahmad or spiritual manifestation (بروز) of the prophet Muhammad, the promised Messiah, and metaphorically a manifestation of Deity.
In the light of these titles we need not be surprised to learn that a man who began by regarding himself as the Masil-i-Masih, or the one 'like unto' Christ has discovered at least that he is 'greater' than Christ. Listen to the following: "I wonder** what peculiarities there are in the Son of Mary, which make him a God. Do these consist in his miracles? But mine are greater than his. Were his prophecies very clear and true? But I shall be guilty of concealing a truth., if I do not assert that the prophecies which almighty God has granted me are of a far better quality in clearness, force and truth, than the ambiguous predictions of Jesus. Can we conclude his divinity from the words used of him in the Gospels? But I swear by the Lord* that the words expressing my dignity revealed from God* are for more weighty and glorious than the words of the Gospels relating to Jesus. But notwithstanding all this superiority, I cannot assert divinity or sonship of God*** My Superiority lies in being the Messiah of Muhammad, as Jesus was the Messiah of Moses" (Rev. of Rel., May 1902, p. 206). And note the following: "The word of God revealed to me contains expressions on whose strength I could establish, such more easily than Jesus, my claim to DIVINITY"(J.J.P. 205). Such expressions, occur, for instance in one of the latest inspirations of the Mirza Sahib(DAFI-UL-BALA, April 1902, p.7), where we read, in Arabic of course, words of which the following is a literal translation. "Those are to me as a son. Thou are from me and I from Thee" (انت منی بمنزلتی اولادی انت منی وا انا منک )
Thus the way is open for the Mirza Sahib to make still large claims. He may yet spell Ahmad without the letter m(Ahad, the unity of deity) as Dr: Imad-ud-Din surmised.
- So much for the claims of the Prophet of Qadian. We now come to the credentials by which the supports his claims. These consist of "Signs" both natural and supernatural. Under the head of the Natural Signs which accompany the Mirza Sahib's Mission are mentioned his eloquence in the Arabic tongue, profound understanding of the Quran, the growth in the number of his disciples, (the number given last year ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 Rev of Rel. Aug:1902, p.336). The magnetism of his personality, the good effect of his teaching on the lives of his disciples, etc., etc. Under the head of "supernatural signs" may be reckoned answers to prayer, miracles, and prophecies. The statistics for this head are as follows: Answers to prayer 30,000 (Zarurat-ul-Imam, 1898, p. 24), or is it 10,000? (Rev. of Rel. May 1902, p. 205), and supernatural signs 150 (J.J. P. 205). It is quite likely that the Mirza Sahib confines his strictly supernatural signs to prophecies alone, since of his chief disciples, Maulvi Abdul Karim, declares, evidently with the approbation of the Master, that "the only species of miracle to which reason, science and the laws of nature are perfectly reconciled is prophecy" (Rev. of Rel. Aug,1902, p.317). So that when the Mirza Sahib claims to have "restored the dead to life in the manner in which Divine Law has allowed it" (J.J.P. 205) his meaning is probably only this that through the living water of his teaching he has, metaphorically speaking, quickened those who were dead in sin. Prophecy, then, is the supreme evidence of the Mission of the Qadiani Sahib. We may divide his so called prophecies into three classes: (a) those relating to the death or disgrace of definitely mentioned individuals, (b) those pertaining to natural events such as plague, eclipse, etc, and (c) those declaring the victory of the Ahmadiyya cause and the defeat of all opponents.
Maulvi Muhammad Hussain, the Editor of the ISHAAT-US-SUNNAT, declares (reply to the KASHFUL-GHITA. P.17) that "the prophet of Qadian has predicted the death & O., of no less than 121 persons." Of thse it will be sufficient to mention only two, namely, Pandit Lekh Ram and Deputy Abdullah Atham. The Mirza Sahib predicted the death of Pandit Lekh Ram, his chief antagonist in the Arya Samaj, and soon he was murdered by somebody or other under circumstances which gave rise to the strong suspicion that it was the deed of a pretended Muhammadan inquirer. Again, during the Amritsar controversy (May 22 to June 5, 1893), the Mirza Sahib predicted the death of his Christian antagonist Deputy Abdullah Atham, which was to take place within the space of fifteen months, i.e., before Sept: 5, 1894. It was believed at the time that the life of Mr. Atham was in danger, and precautions were taken by his friends, in order to guard him from possible assassination. He himself in an upon letter to the Mirza Sahib, which appeared in the NUR AFSHAN, uttered words to this effect: I am afraid not of your prophecy, but of your followers: Mr. Abdullah Atham, however, survived the Mirza Sahib's prophecy, i.e., the period of time covered by his prediction. Of course the Mirza Sahib had to justify the failure of his prophecy by a new revelation, to the effect that the life of Abdullah Atham was prolonged, because he had to some extent acknowledged the majesty of Islam, — to this extent at least that he was filled with perturbation and fear on account of this Islamic or rather Ahmadiyyah prophecy (FATAH ISLAM) dated 5th Sept, 1894, pp.1-6). The reasoning of the Mirza Sahib is essentially as follows: If Mr. Atham had been as persistent in his hatred and contempt of Islam as before, he would have died within the fifteen months. He did not die within this time. Therefore his attitude towards Islam must have changed, and as proof of this he instances his removed from place to place, perturbation of spirit, fear of snakes, etc. But the original prophecy of Abdullah Atham's death, like all prophecies of punishment, was conditional. It contained the proviso, "unless he turn toward the truth" (BASHARTE KI HAQQ KI TARAF RUJU NA KARE). But since the predicted death did not take place within the time specified, the conclusion is inevitable, says the Mirza Sahib, that the condition of escaping death was fulfilled, namely that Abdullah Atham to some extent softened in his attitude towards Islam. Hence, according to the Mirza Sahib, the prophecy was fulfilled within the time specified. This is a classic instance of the Qadiani Sahib's special pleading. About eighteen months after, Mr. Atham, already an old man, died at Firozpur. Such is the nature of the fulfillment of the Mirza Sahib's predictions in two test cases. The reader may judge for himself as to the truth and holiness of such a prophet and his likeness to Jesus Christ, and yet Maulvi Abdul Karim one of the Mirza Sahib's prominent disciples, has lately had the face to write as follows: "Coming two individuals** the representatives of the worshippers of falsehood, Almighty God recealed to him (i.e. to the Mirza Sahib) prophecies of their death, which were made public. THE FULFILMENT OF THESE PROPHECIES BY THE WRATH OF GOD CONSUMING ATHAM AND LEKH RAM has at least sealed the truth of Islam and its founder" (Rev. of Rel., Aug 1892, p. 533). Rather let us say, it has sealed the falsity of the Ahmadiyyah and its founder, for it is a slander of the genuine Islam to represent its cause as in any way dependent on the fulfilment of the malicious and ungodly predictions of the prophet of Qadian. That Maulvi Muhammad Hussain was right in calling the Mirza Sahib's prophecies "dangerous" and "mischievous"6 has already been recognised by Government in an order prohibiting the Mirza Sahib from publishing alarming and mischievous prophecies, challenges, and inspirations, and exacting an agreement from him to that effect. (In the case of Maulvi Abu Said Muhammad Hussain versus Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, in an [order dated Feb 24th, 1899], effected a settlement by exacting a promise from both parties. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, solemnly promised
- To refrain from publishing any prediction involving the disgrace of any person, or in which any one should be re-represented as an object of God's displeasure.
- To refrain from publishing any challenge to appeal to God to indicate the signs of His displeasure, such as disgrace, etc., the party in a religious controversy which is in the wrong.
- To refrain from publishing any writing purporting to be an inspiration, the object of which can be reasonably taken to be the disgrace of any person, or the representing of him as an object of the divine wrath.
Vid the NUR AFSHAN Ludhiana Sept: 14th 1900, and the AKHBAR-I-AMM LAHORE, March 17th 1899.)
It must be admitted, however, in justice to the Mirza Sahib, that he has uttered not only malicious prophecies announcing the death or disgrace of his enemies., but also benevolent prophecies announcing to himself, or to his friends, the birth of Sons. But these prophecies have not always been remarkable for the exactness of their fulfilment. Sometimes the predicted Sons do not appear at all; and sometimes, when they do appear, they turn out to be daughters, to the immense disgust of all concerned. The prophetic trade is not without its humours: (Vid ['ASAI MUSA], p. 40, and [Gul Shigufta] p.30).
The plague has furnished the Mirza Sahib an occasion for various prophecies (vid. DAFI-UL-BALA April 1892), and in due time he will doubtless have something prophetic to say about the destruction of St: Pierre in Martinique and with reference to the illness of King Edward VII. In 1898 he published "A Revealed cure for the Bubonic Plague" in which a quack medicine known as the Marham-i-Isa or "Ointment of Jesus" is declared to be "the specific remedy" for the plague, since it has been "prepared sobly under the influence of Divine Inspiration". In 1902, he published the Dafi-ul-Bala, in which the cause of the plague is traced to the world's refusal to accept him, the prophet of Qadian, and to its ill treatment of him, and in which accordingly the the remedy prescribed is, that "people with sincere heart accept him as the promised Messiah;" or at the very best cease from reviling and persecuting him. In this, his latest plague pamphlet, there is no mention of the "Revealed Cure" of 1898. Can it be that the MARHAM-I-ISA is already Mansukh or abrogated? It appears, however, that the action of Government in the case of Hakim Muhammad Hussain, MARHAM-I-ISA manufacturer, Lahore has deterred the Mirza Sahib from the public exploitation of the history and virtues of this ointment in the Panjab. (see the order issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Lahore, dated 19th Oct: 1899, and also the decision of the Chief Court of the Panjab in the appealed case, dated 8th June 1900).
The Mirza Sahib's plague prophecies illustrate well the delphic ambiguity of his oracles, and also the way in which the indefinite is made definite Post Evetum. For example, in the BARAHIN-I-AHMADIYYA(1880) occurs a revelation, in imitation of the style of the Quran, thus: "Say, with me is a testimony from God; will ye them believe? Say, with me is a testimony from God; will ye then submit?" (Arabic text). According to the Mirza Sahib's interpretation (DAFI-UL-Bala, April 1902,p. 9), the first 'Testimony' refers to the testimony of heaven through a solar eclipse in the month of Ramzan; and the second 'testimony', to the testimony of the earth through the plague. Again, in the DAFI-UL-Bala, p. 6, foot note, he refers to a revelation given ten years ago (in 1892), the literal translation of which is: "Build a slip before my eyes and according to my command." (Arabic text). Note that in the translation of Arabic revelation the Mirza Sahib adds POST EVENTUM the words, "which shall deliver from the coming plague" (Jo Anewali Mari Se Bachaegi). Again in Feb: 6th, 1898 the Mirza Sahib announced the following revelation: "God has revealed to me that an outburst of the disease in this country, and especially in the Punjab, is yet to be feared, which may take place in the coming winter or in the winter following it (A Revealed Cure, p.1). How delightfully clear and definite this prophecy is. And what unique information it provides. Lastly, in April 1892 the Mirza Sahib issued the following oracle: "As long as the plague continues in the world, even if for seventy years, God will protect Qadian from its fearful devastation, because this is the seat of His Apostle" (Dafi-ul-Bala, p. 10). Note the ambiguity of this prophecy. It may mean either absolute protection from the plague or protection from such a devastation as shall be 'fearful'. The Mirza Sahib has provided carefully for the latter alternative by making the original prophecy more explicite: "God said, I will protect Qadian from this devastation, especially from such a devastation that people will die like dogs of the plague" (Dafi-ul-Bala p. 17). The literal translation of the original prophecy reads thus: "God is not such a one that He will afflict them, in as much as thou art in the midst of them. He has had compassion on the village:" (Arabic text). Such is the original revelation, of which the above-mentioned passages are very free renderings on the part of the Mirza Sahib, with editorial additions as well, which are not found in the original Arabic. It is well for the Mirza Sahib that he thus provided for unpleasant possibilities, if the report be true that before the end of May, 1902 seven people had already died of the plague in Qadian (Vid Nur Afshan, May 23, 1902).
The reason why the village of Qadian enjoys such unique protection from the plague is to be noticed. It is because it is the seat of God's Apostle, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. In harmony with this is the fact that on the front page of the Mirza's publications, Qadian is called Dar-ul-Aman or "Place of Peace", a title usually applied only to Mecca. It is clear from many indications that the village of Qadian is to be converted, if possible, into a twentieth century Mecca. (In fact the village of Qadian has a double honour. It is the home of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and so the centre of the Ahmadiyyah Sect. It is also the home of his cousin Mirza Imam-ud-Din, the spiritual preceptor of the sweeper community, who arranges for a yearly mela of his brother Lal Begis at Qadian. Every thing is to be new, fresh and upto date — a new apostle, a new revelation, a new pilgrimage, etc., etc., The Mirza Sahib, began with the claim to be the Masil-i-Masih or the one 'like unto' Christ; but he soon discovered that he is 'greater' than Christ, and in the new capacity he arrogates to himself the right to revile Christ. ("He taught one thing and did anther." Rev. of Re., p. 42; Christ sadly lacked the quality of philanthropy." Id.p.106; "In the Life Of Jesus There Is The Confession Of Sin, Repentance Like That Of Sinners, And Deeds Similar To Those Of The Guilty" Id p. 113; "Jesus was addicted to the habit of drinking" Id. p. 114 under the heading "The DRUNKENNESS OF JESUS*" 7 ; Id. p. 300. see also the NUR AFSHAN, Sept 12, 1902. And yet, strange to say, the Mirza Sahib claims to be the "perfect image" (Rev. of Rel June 1902, p. 251) of such a character.
Likewise, the Mirza Sahib claims to be the Ahmad promised in the Quran, since he has come as the BURUS ( ) or 'spiritual reappearance' of the prophet Muhammad. How long will it take the Masil-i-Muhammad to become 'greater' than Muhammad? The Mirza Sahib claims to be reformer of Islam. He is in reality a DESTROYER OF ISLAM, and as such he is recognised by the great mass of Indian Muhammadans, as the numerous FATWAS issued against him abundantly testify. Even his own cousin and fellow townsman, Mirza Imam-ud-Din, says concerning him: "If he were a follower of Muhammad, he would not abuse the family of the prophet, nor would he so amend (Tarmim) the Quran as virtually to abrogate (Tansikh) it" (Gul Shigufta, 1899, p. 19).
It is not necessary to do more than mention the third class of the Mirza Sahib's prophecies: Viz, those which declare in general terms the victory of the Ahmadiyyah cause and the overthrow of all opponents. These prophecies are very numerous. A good example is found in the Dafi-ul-Bala (p.8): "The time is coming when I shall exalt thee to such a high position that the world shall praise thee. Success is with thee and failure with thine enemies" (vid Rev of Rel., June 1902, p. 247).
We now come to the methods which the Mirza Sahib employes in making known his mission to the world. There are four: namely, literature, public disputation, the challenge and educational work. The Mirza Sahib fully appreciates the value of the press. He has his own printing press and book depot at Qadian. He publishes two papers ---- "Al-Hakam" in Urdu, and "the Review of Religions" in English. He pours forth a constant stream of notices, open letters, memorials to Government, handbills etc., etc., it is claimed that "during the last twenty two years he has written about fifty books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu" (Rev. of Rel., Feb 1902, p.63), and that "these books**** have been circulated not only in India, but in distant countries like Persia, Arabia, Kabul, Syria and Egypt" (Kashf-ul-Ghita p. 4). He has an ambition to exploit his doctrines in the west. I have in my possession an open letter, dated June 16th 1902, addressed to The Editor of (Name to be supplied). It begins thus: "Sir I beg to inform the western world through the best medium of your esteemed Journal, of a new discovery." And then follows a description of "the greater discovery" of the age, namely that Jesus Christ dies in Cashmere and that his tomb exists there 'unto this day'.
Public disputation is another favourite method of making known the Ahmadiyya 'Gospal'. The prophet of Qadian thrives on notoriety. Whatever the result of a controversy may be, the Mirza Sahib is sure to score an advantage, since every such encounter is made to furnish material for new books, notices and pamphlets in bewildering abundance; and by such means he keeps himself before the attention of the public.
The 'challenge' plays an important part in the tactics of the Mirza Sahib. Sometimes it is a challenge to a discussion. Again, it is a challenge to prove some point historical or doctrinal, as e.g. that the miracles of Jesus were greater in number and congency than the miracles of the Mirza Sahib, success to carry with a reward of one thousand rupees: Vid. Siraj-i-Munir, (advertisement on the back cover). Or again, it is a challenge to a literary contest in Arabic composition, addressed to Christian Maulvis and commanding them to justify their title of Maulvi by producing within two months a work in Arabic rivalling the style of an Arabic book written by the Mirza Sahib, and at the same time to earn the promised reward of Rs. 5000/
/ or else to drop the title of Maulvi: (see "A Criterion to test the Righteous and the wicked," 1894). Or again, it may be a challenge to a prophetic contest, as e.g. in the Dafi-ul-Bala,p.10 where Aryas, Sanatan Dharmis, Christians, and Mulla-guided Muhammadans are challenged in turn to predict the safety from plague of some particular city. If they refuse to accept the challenge, then the inference, which must be drawn, according to the Mirza Sahib, is tht "the true God is that God, who has caused His Apostle to appear in Qadian." This is a good instance of the Qadiani "bluff." or yet again, it may be challenge to a Mubahala, or contest in mutual cursing, with appeals to God for judgment, (Comp, Kashful Ghita, p. 29, and the Ishtihar of Mullah Muhammad Bakhsh Nov: 3rd 1898). Or again, it is a challenge to Almighty God to grant an "extraordinary heavenly sign." In his "prayer," dated Nov: 5th 1899, the Mirza Sahib says: "If thou dost not show within the three years, that shall be computed from January 1900 to December 1902, some heavenly sign to support and confirm my claims,***** be thou witness that I shall never again look upon myself as a righteous being." Lastly, it is reported that the Mirza Sahib is preparing a challenge to be sent to Dr. John Alexander Dowie of Chicago. A passage at arms between the faith-healer of the West and the another of an "inspired" plague remedy in the East would certainly be entertaining. The Mirza Sahib evidently intends in this way to bring his claim, to the attention of the Western world. He has the dream of a world-wide propaganda.
The educational work under the care of the Ahmadiyyah movement is still in its infancy, there is a school at Qadian, with primary, Middle and High school department, where the sons of Mirza Sahib's followers may receive instruction. A noticeable feature of the school is the encouragement given to the study of Hebrew. Two candidates for the Entrance Examination appeared last year from his school, with Hebrew as one of their subjects, and one of the two passed it. So far as I know, the first attempt to acquire a knowledge of Hebrew on the part of the Indian Muhammadans has been among the followers of the prophet of Qadian.
Our sketch of the Ahmadiyyah movement is about finished. From this rapid survey, what conclusion must we draw concerning the character, intellectual, moral, and religious, of the founder of the Ahmadiyyah sect? Intellectually, he possesses as certain cleverness in manipulating his materials and in advertising his claims in a highly sensational manner. He is a master of the art of 'posing' before the public. He now and then displays a certain acuteness in attacking the christian position. For example, the following on Mark XVI. 17.18: "If we are told to take these verses metaphorically and not literally, to take the 'swallowing of poison' for subduing violence, and 'snakes' for mischievous persons, for instance, then without losing our right of objecting ot this foolish straining of the meaning of plain words, we may ask why the miracles which are ascribed to Jesus should not be read in the same light as the signs which he said his followers will show. Jesus repeatedly said that his followers shall show the same signs, and even greater than those, which he showed**** If there si any truth in the statement that the signs promised to be shown by the followers are only metaphorical descriptions of excellent moral qualities, the conclusion cannot be avoided that the miracles of the master must have the same reality." (Rev. of Rel., May 1902, pp. 195-196). As regards his linguistic training in Arabic and Persian, it is considerable as to extent, but entirely traditional as to quality. He has no knowledge of critical methods of research in either history or philology. His lack of acquaintance with critical methods of investigation in the field of history has already has already been sufficiently exposed in connection with the statement of his theories concerning the death of Christ. There is no criticism of the sources. There is no examination of rival theories. Sweeping statements about the Marham-i-Isa are made, e.g. that "Over a thousand books refer to it," and yet detailed references to these books are not given, etc. In fact, one wonders why the Mirza Sahib has stooped to historical investigation at all. Why did he not cut the "GORDIAN KNOT" at once by giving to the world a "revealed" history of the life and death of Christ, Just as he has given it a "revealed cure" for the bubonic plague?
In the field of philogy his ignorance and presumption are simply amazing, for example, the Arabic word خنزیر Khinzir. 'Pig', is explained as a compound of خنز Khinz 'very Foul' and ار ar 'I see'. Literally, then ('I see it is very foul.' and then he goes on to say: "But what is till more wonderful is that in Hindi this animal is known by the name of سؤر Suar, which is composed of two words سؤ su and ار ar; the latter part of the Arabic word: and the former, being the exact equivalent of the first part of the first part of the Arabic from*** Suar is therefore an Arabic world." (Rev. of Rel. March 1902, pp.99-100). On evidence such as this, is based the Mirza Sahibs greatest philological "discovery" that "Arabic is the mother of all languages," (Id,p.100). The veriest tyro in comparative philology will recognize from this at once that the Mirza Sahib's so-called philology bears about the same relation to a sound critical philology as astrology bears to astronomy, or alchemy to chemistry. The Mirza Sahib has made known to the world no less that three great discoveries – one "a revealed care for the Bubonic Plague." another that Jesus Christ died in Cashmere and was buried there. "a new discovery which is one of the most important events in all annals of discoveries", and the third that "Arabic is the mother of all languages." this last being "one of the greatest discoveries of the age." Verily the achievements of the Qadiani Savant are wonderful. In the matter of propounding startling theories, he has all the facility of a German scholar; and in the way in which he has advertised and pressed his claims, he has the push of a Nebraska 'hustler'."
Two interesting points of contact are manifest between Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the founder of the Ahmadiyyah and Pandit Dayanand Sarasvati the founder of the Arya Samaj. The founder of the Arya Samaj held that the Vedas contain hints, 'germs', prophecies of all the great scientific discoveries of modern times. Likewise the founder of the Ahmadiyyah declares, concerning the Arabic language, that "the descriptive words of ignorant Bedouins disclose treasures of scientific facts which, we know not how many thousands of years afterwards, were discovered by the world" (Rev: of Rel, Feb 1902.p.80). The second point of resemblance in that both the sage of Qadian and the sage of Gujrat are patrons of the 'twofold sense'. Thus the Mirza Qadiani can be a literalist of the literalists when it suits his purpose so to be., and with equal readiness he can allegorize any passage he pleases, when the literal meaning is obnoxious to him. Thus by means of an allegorical interpretation (استعارف) he is even able to find a certain truth in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Divine love and human love being, as it were, two persons of the Trinity, and the enthusiasm which results from the union of these two being the third. In like manner, it requires only a limited knowledge of Pandit Dayanand's commentary on the Riq Veda to assure one that he too was an uncritical patron of the twofold sense.
In gathering materials for his system, the Mirza Sahib is eclectic, so that his theology is a syncretism derived from many different sources. In his doctrine of the "heavenly light," or "light of the spirit of God," (Rev. of Rel., May 1902, p. 188), and in his teaching concerning the annihilation of self, mystic union with Muhammad, and 'imitation' of him, he is a Sufi (id.p.189). In his emphasis on the necessity of an Imam, he is a SHIAH. In his relationalistic theory of the death of Christ, he is a M'utazilite. In his abstract doctrine of a mediator, he is a Christian. And in his emphasis on 'natural law', he is a rationalist (naichri). Furthermore, in his assumed character as the MASIL-I-MASIH, or the one 'like unto' Christ, he continually uses New Testament phraseology, such as the Holy Spirit, son of God, regeneration, etc., etc.
It may cheerful be admitted that the Mirza Sahib sometimes says good things. For example: "The very nature of man calls for a mediator" (Rev. of Rel.,p. 165), "unless a man has seen His beauty and tasted of His goodness, he cannot love the Almighty Being" (Id. p. 177); "The system of prophets that rose among the Israelites after Moses and Walked in the footsteps of their great predecessor, is without a parallel in the history of the world" (Id.p.69); "The object of man's life in this world is that the window of his heart should be opened towards God" (Id. p.294). Moreover, the Mirza Sahib's crusade against Jihad and the Ghazi spirit, if sincere, is commendable. So, too, in his rejection of tomb-worship, and the emphasis which he puts on the necessity of a manifestation of the power of God in every age.
So much for the intellectual character of the Mirza Sahib. What of his moral and religious character? He himself as the representative of God on earth and the mediator between God and man, claims to be smiless and morally perfect. For the mediator is described as "a perfect manifestation of Divinity and a perfect manifestation of humanity" (Rev. Rel: May 1902,p. 173). The perfection of the mediator is not to be constructed, however, as the independent and absolute perfection of the Creator, but only as the dependent perfection of a creature. For, as the Mirza Sahib tells us. (Id. p.182). "He only is perfectly sinless, who strengthens his soul by drawing the Divine power by means of ISTIGHFAR and does not cease for a single movement to ddraw it by his supplications, prayers, and cries," (the implication being of course that the Mirza Sahib does this). The followers of the prophet of Qadian show great reverence for their master and are enthusiastic over the winsomeness of his character.
As regards those who are outside the Qadiani Camp, all, so far as I know, whether Hindus, Aryas, Muhammadans or Christian, are at one in regarding the Mirza Sahib as a deceiver; but they do not agree as to the nature of his deception, whether it is conscious or unconscious. The opinions, on this point, concerning him may be summed up under three judgments: (1) that he is a conscious deceiver, (2) that he is insane, (3) that he is self-deluded. The opinion of the late Dr: Imad-ud-Din is that the Mirza Sahib is an out and out fraud. He pronounces him a cunning schemer (chalak). He writes: "It looks to me as if a number of men in the same secret had formed a Committee, with the Mirza Sahib as Chairman, the purpose of which is to secure, by making Messianic claims, a large Muhammadan following, and then when the time is ripe, to make a political demonstration against the peace of the country" (Tauzin-ul-Aqwal, p.5).
In the numerous FATWAS, which Muhammadan Associations all over India have issued against the Mirza Sahib, the strongest words of denunciation are used. Thus he is called KAFIR 'unbeliever'; DAJJAL 'Anti-Christ', mulhid 'heretic', murtadd 'apostate', KAZZAB 'LIAR', Be-Iman 'Faithless', Daghabaz 'Deceitful' etc; etc; with such epithets as these is the 'certificate' filled, with which Muhammadan orthodoxy has dismissed the Mirza Sahib from its fellowship and service.
The second judgment concerning the Mirza Qadiani is voiced in the quaint words of an old Afghani boxwala, uttered in my hearing, to the effect that the Mirza Sahib's brain has become maddled "US KA DIMAGH BAITH GAYA"). This opinion concerning the Mirza Sahib is similar to the opinion of Festus concerning Paul that "much learning" has made him "mad" the following reflections of the old AFGHANI on the subject are too good to go unmentioned: "If the Amir of Kabul were only in authority here, how soon the Mirza Sahib would lose his head. Every body says what he pleases under the British Government. The lion and the goat drink from the same spring." In connection with the theory of the Mirza Sahib's insanity, it may not be without interest to mention that at least tow persons in the PANJAB, who are acknowledged to be insane, have lately claimed to be Jesus Christ, one a weaver of Ludhiana, and the other a former student of the Forman Christian College, Lahore. The madness of the latter takes the shape of writing periodical letters to the Principal of the College and urging that his claim to be the Messiah be spudily admitted. In the light of these facts, the theory that the Mirza Sahib himself is insane is certainly a possible one.
On the whole, however, it seems to me that the third judgment is the safest one, namely that the Mirza Sahib is honest, but self deceived. So far as I am able to judge, his writings everywhere have the ring of sincerity. His persistency in affirming his claims in the face of the most intense and bitter opposition is magnificant. He is willing to suffer on behalf of his claims. And besides this, if, in the sober and matter-of-fact West, Dr. John Alexander Dowie of Chicago can claim to be the promised Elijah, we ought not to be surprised if in the warmer and more imaginative East Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian has claimed to be the promised Messiah. To both alike may be granted a measure of pity on the ground that they are the probable victims of unconscious self-deception.
But whether the Mirza Sahb be consciously a deceiver or only self-deceived, one thing is pretty certain on the basis of all the evidence, and that is that he is an impostor. Malicious predictions of the death of people and scandalous insinuations against the character of Jesus Christ in the very spirit of a Celsus and Julian are not the works of one who has been sent from God. "By their fruits ye shall know them." We need not altogether deny to the Mirza Sahib the possession of certain signs and the honour of fulfilling prophecy. For he and such as help to swell the fulfilment of the prediction found in the Apocalypse of Jesus (Matt. XXIV. 24), to wit that "there shall arise FALSE CHRISTS and FALSE PROPHETS, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect;" and also the prediction found in the Apocalypse of Paul (2 Thess. ii.9), where there is mention of one. "Whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all powers and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that are perishing."
What about the future of the Ahmadiyyah movement? Last year Maulvi Abdul Karim, one of the disciples of the Mirza Sahib, asserted that "over 50,000 persons have accepted the messenger of God" (Rev of Rel, Aug: 1902. p. 336). And this year (Aug 1902) a prominent follower of the Mirza Sahib, told me that the number of adherents of the Ahmadiyyah movement, including men, women, and children, had already reached 70,000. I known not on what calculations these figures are based, nor am I able to check them, since the new Census Returns are not yet accessible but, however exaggerated these figures may be, it is pretty clear that the numbers of the new sect are increasing.
The Ahmadiyyah movement in India may in several respects, be compared with the BABI movement in Persia. Though the public career of Mirza 'Ali Mohammad the BAB was very short, only six years, A.D. 1844-1850, and these mostly spent in prison and terminated by his execution, and though his followers suffered unspeakable persecution from the Persian Government, nevertheless (or possibly on account of this) the BABI movement has grown until the number of Persian BABIS is reckoned at from 500,000 to 1,000,000, Lord Curzon inclining to the latter figure. (Persia, Vol 1.p. 499). The Ahmadiyyah movement is still in its infancy. It may attract a large following from the ranks of orthodox Muhammadanism, very much in the same way that the ARYA SAMAJ is preying upon orthodox Hinduism, or Christian science upon orthodox christianity, if circumstances prove favourable. Circumstances unfavourable to the growth and perpetuity of the new sect would be, the speedy death of the founder without a strong and capable successor, or conflict with 'the powers that be,' or such a development of doctrine on the part of the Mirza Sahib as might scandalize his followers.
But the most important point of contact between Babism and Qadianism lies in the similar claims of their respective founders. The persian Mirza,'Ali Muhammad, at first claimed to be only the Bab, or gateway of approach, to the IMAM MAHDI, the twelfth or 'concealed' Imam, who was expected to come again, but afterwards he put in a claim to be the IMAM MAHDI himelf (Vid. The Episode of the Bab by Edward G. Browne M.A., Vol. ii.p. 290). Of the two rival successors of the Bab, namely Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azak and Nurza Hussain 'Ali Biha Ullah, the latter anticipated the former by claiming for himself, or at least allowing his followers to claim for him, that he was the promised Messiah. Thus the BIHAIS say that "Biha is Christ returned again, even as he promised," and that "as each incarnation is superior to preceding one, Biha is greater than Christ." (Vid.sell, Essays on Islam,p.79,83,97). Biha Ullah died at ACRE in 1892 and was succeeded by his son 'Abbas Effendi Abdul Biha who is the present head of the movement. Abdul Biha "the servant of the Glory (of God)" claims to be in some mystical sense the same being as his father and therefore hear to all his titles and perfections (see THE MORNING STAR July 1, 1902,pp. 76-77). He is at once Abdul Biha and Biha Ullah. What a perfect parallel to the Mirza Qadianis claim to be both the servant of Ahmad (Ghulam Ahmad) and the promised Ahmad himself. Thus the Persian Mirza 'Ali Muhammad and his self-appointed successor Biha Ullah divided between themselves the titles of 'promised Mahdi' and 'promised Messiah,' the one assuming the first title, and the other the second. But the Indian Mirza Ghulam Ahmad arrogates to himself Both Titles. Similarities cannot be pursued further in detail. Suffice it to say that in the Sufi type of doctrine taught, in the emphasis on the necessity of a permanent succession of Imams, in the employment of the allegorical method of interpretation, and in the general nature of the reforms inculcated, such as the abolition of religious warfare and the promulgation of the sentiment of loyalty toward the Government under which one lives, there is a striking resemblance between the Babi movement in Persian and the Ahmadiyya movement in India. In fact, the resemblance is so close as almost to suggest imitation. It is true that between these two movements, which have so many points of contact, there are also important differences, notably in their attitudes towards Christianity, the Babis being friendly and even fraternal, which the Ahmadiyyah movement rivals the Arya Samaj in the bitterness of its attacks on Christianity.
An interesting parallel may also be drawn between the Ahmadiyyah movement and the Arya Samaj. Both are distinctly Panjabi movement, the Ahmadiyyah being native to this province, while the Arya Samaj though as an organization born in Bombay, has yet become thoroughly naturalized in the Punjab and finds its greated triumphs here. In this respect they differ from the Aligharh movement and the Brahmo Samaj, which have arisen and flourished in the United Provinces and Bengal. It is remarkable that just as two reform movements have sprung up within the bounds of orthodox Muhammadanism, the Aligarh movement being marked by liberal and rationalistic tendencies and the Ahmadiyyah movement by a conservative temper; so two reform movements have grown up in the bosom of orthodox Hinduism, the Brahmo Samaj representing a very rationalistic form of Hinduism, while the Arya Samaj, on the other hand, represents a far more conservative type.
What should be the attitude of Christian apologist toward the Mirza Sahib? Hitherto the practice has been to largely to ignore him, the only important exception being found in the Nur-Afshan, and in the Amritsar controversy, together with the literature which has grown out of it. The theory has been that it would be almost Infra Dig to give to his wild statements and absurd claims the honour of a serious examination. And besides it has been felt that since the Mirza Sahib loves notoriety and thrives on it, the proper thing to do is to defeat this desire by refusing to notice him. The proverb has also been applied to him: "Give him rope enough and he will hang himself," the belief being that in his "Vaulting ambition" he will overdo the matter and defeat his own purpose. But it seems to me that the policy of ignoring the Mirza Sahib is in danger of being misunderstood. The refusal to answer him may be interpreted by thousands of ignorant Muhammadans as inability of his followers. Prof J.N. Farquhar of Calcutta condescended to answer an adventurer like Thakur Khan Chandra ji Verma, lest a refusal to answer him should be misinterpreted. The same reason holds good in the case of the Mirza Sahib. Public disputation of course is rarely to be commended. But in my opinion there is a decided need of carefully prepared pamphlets and handbills to be widely distributed among Muhammadans, exposing the baselessness of the Mirza Sahib's views concerning the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Other points may be safely left to be dealt with the Vigorous polemic of Muslim orthodoxy.
Lastly, what thoughts suggest themselves in connection with the Qadiani movement?
- The Ahmadiyyah represents a revolt from orthodox Islam in the direction of a more mystical and emotional type of piety. In this respect, too, it is akin to the Babi movement. It hungers after a personal manifestation of God, and it professes to have found this in the person of the Mirza Sahib. It reveals a longing more or less sincere for a revival of religion in the world. In these respects, it is a good illustration of the ferment and unrest, the groping after something that will satisfy, which characterizes the religious life of India today.
- The Ahmadiyyah is thus a kind of half way house between Islam and Christianity. Muhammadan converts, who relapse, have already shown a tendency to find their resting place in the Ahmadiyyah; and, on the other hand, some who were for time under the influence of the Mirza Sahib have become decided christians. (Vid. Mukhtasar Kawaif-i-Yusafi, 1894, for an account of such an experiment). All the more is the latter a possibility, since the Mirza Sahib's assumed character as the promised Messiah makes it inevitable that his followers will become more or less familiar with the ideas and phraseology of the Bible, and such knowledge will doubtless in God's providence contribute sooner or later to coming of His Kingdom in the hearts of many.
- The vigour and enthusiasm with which the Messiah of Qadian, in season and out season publishes, his own name and sounds forth his own praises, puts us to shame whose only mission it is to make known the more of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and the Saviour of the world.
The hope of the world is not in the Messiah of Qadian, so notorious for malevolent predictions; but in Jesus Christ of Nazareth who loved His enemies and gave His life for them.
- The Mirza Sahib's claim to be the promised Messiah has stirred up endless discussion within the ranks of Indian Muhammadanism. His very claim has by contrast forced to the front the person and claim of Him whom christians and Muhammadans alike recognize as the Messiah sent of God.
- And finally the Mirza Sahib's own impressive diagnosis of the moral and spiritual evils of the day both in Islam and in Christianity ought to help to constrain us, not indud to give thanks that the promised deliverer has already come and is in our midst, but rather to lift up our eyes with longing and prayer to God that soon, whether through a personal appearing in glory to rule the earth in righteousness, or through a widespread and powerful outpouring of His spirit, the Christ of God may come.
POSTSCRIPT ------- According to the Report of the Census of India for 1901, Vol. Xvii, p. 143 "the sect return shows 1,113 followers, males over 15, of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian." Mr. H. A. Rose, the editor of the Report, says that "the return is probably a complete one" for the Panjab and North-West Frontier Provinces. Ten thousand would probably be a liberal estimate for all India of the Mirza Sahib's following including man, women, and children.