The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a community of Muslims who believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas(1835-1908) was the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi. Ahmadis believe that he was the foretold reformer for the latter days, promised in both Islamic and non-Islamic religious texts. For while it exults in material progress, the world finds itself in an age of spiritual darkness. Ahmad claimed to be the light for this age, to guide seekers of truth into spiritual enlightenment. His followers now number in the tens of millions, spread over 200 countries of the world. Though they are persecuted bitterly in some parts of the globe, and deemed heretical by many an established cleric, their cause continues to find progress in every quarter of the globe. Having translated the Holy Qur’an into over 70 languages, their mission is to spread the original peaceful teachings of Islam throughout the world. The community has now 4 international satellite television channels, spreading the peaceful and rational message of the Prophet Muhammadsathroughout the globe. Its literature and missionary efforts have been hailed as pioneering in the USA, Europe and Africa in particular. In recent years, the message of the Promised Messiahashas become more widely heard in the Middle East, with unprecedented numbers of Arabs joining. What can explain the success of such a religious community, perhaps the only in the world to rely entirely on the donations of its own adherents? How can we explain the success of a spiritual movement that is bitterly opposed by many governments and religious orders alike? Perhaps the answer lies in divine support for a refreshingly rational and peaceful presentation of Islam, with a message that satisfies the mind and moves the heart.
This page will explore the beliefs of Ahmadi Muslims, exploring both similarities and differences with our Non-Ahmadi ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’ brothers and sisters. A brief summary follows:
Ahmadi Muslims believe in the Five Pillars of Islam, the Six Articles of Faith, the superiority of the Qur’an over all other texts, the station of MuhammadsaasSeal of the Prophets, the pre-eminence of the Rightly-Guided Khulafa, the high station of the Prophet’ssacompanions, and all the other major aspects of Islam agreed upon by the 4 major schools of Sunni Islam. We also believe in the lofty station of the immediate descendants of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, while not ascribing inherent divine leadership to them.
Ahmadi Muslims differ from contemporary Sunni & Shia Muslims in a few important areas:
Death of Prophet Jesusas
Ahmadi Muslims believe that Jesusaswas a Prophet like other Prophets. As such, we do not accept the idea held by many clergy today that Jesusashas ascended to heaven, and is waiting to return with sword in hand, to herald a bloody end to the world. Ahmadi Muslims deem this belief a dishonour to the peaceful and rational teachings of Islam, and trace this belief’s origin in Muslim thought to an era long after that of the Prophet Muhammadsa, when great numbers of Christians entered into the fold of Islam. Such beliefs find no basis in the Qur’an or the authentic traditions of the Qur’an and are in fact refuted by them. Based on Qur’anic, Biblical, and historical records, Ahmadis believe that Jesusassurvived the crucifixion attempt on his life, escaped the clutches of the Roman Empire, and fled East to the lands of Tibet and India. There he preached to the lost tribes of the House of Israel, before dying at the age of 120 in Kashmir. There his tomb is to be found, venerated by the local population as the tomb of Jesusas, who visited the land 2000 years ago.
Second Coming of Jesusas
There is a clear prophecy in the Qur’an about the second appearance of the Prophet Muhammadsain the Latter Days. There are also explicit prophecies of the Prophetsaregarding the Second Coming of the ‘Messiah, Son of Mary,’ as well as references to the arrival of the ‘Imam Mahdi.’ To Ahmadis, all these prophecies relate to different aspects of the same Prophetic figure in this era.
As Jesusashas passed away, the ‘second coming of the Messiah’ can only have a metaphorical and symbolic meaning: in the same way that Jesusaswas the Messiah for the Jews in the 14th century after Moses, the prophecy foretells a messianic figure for the Muslims appearing in the 14th century after the Prophet Muhammadsa. The character of both respective communities would be similar. The Jews in the time of Jesusashad become extremists, with many supporting a terrorist movement known as the Zealots who sought to overthrow the ruling Roman Empire and establish a Jewish state. In the same way, the Muslim clergy of today adhere to extremist beliefs, often showing support to extremist groups who seek to overthrow western government by violent means. Moreover, the metaphor of the ‘Second Coming’ indicated that the character of the respective Messiahs would be similar. Whereas Jesusascame with a teaching of compassion and tenderness to a hard-hearted Jewish nation, so too would the Muslim Messiah come with a teaching of peace and sympathy to a hard-hearted Muslim nation.
Thus the Second Coming was symbolic, indicating that there would be a spiritual affinity between the Jewish Messiah and the Muslim Messiah. Not only this, but Ahmadis believe that the prophecies of the Imam Mahdi indicate that he would also be the Messiah, and would be a spiritual manifestation of the Prophet Muhammadsahimself.
Taken together, both the Qur’an and the narrations tell us that the Mahdi and the Messiah are two aspects of the same individual. This individual would be a spiritual reflection of the Prophet Muhammadsahimself. For Ahmadi Muslims, that individual was the Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas.
Finality of Prophethood
The Holy Qur’an calls the Prophet Muhammadsathe ‘Seal of the Prophets’. It is often claimed that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadascontradicted this by claiming to be a Follower-Prophet himself. This is a misconception based on the idea that the term the ‘Seal of the Prophets’ means that there would be literally no Prophet after the Prophet Muhammadsa. However, this is a misunderstanding of the phrase.
The term ‘Seal of Prophets’ indicates that Muhammadsawas the highest prophet, achieving the most exalted station of all the Prophets. Not only this, but it indicates that any future Prophets after the Prophet Muhammadsamust themselves be followers of the Prophetsa. As a seal is used by officials and monarchs to indicate that a certain document is from them, Muhammad’s station as the Seal of the Prophets indicated that any future Prophets could only be from among his followers, bearing his seal of attestation. Spiritually speaking, it means that future Prophets could only be Prophets by virtue of their likeness with the Prophet Muhammadsa. Thus their Prophethood would not be their own, but would in fact be a reflection of Muhammad’ssaprophethood. Only one who completely effaced their own ego, and dedicated their entire being to serve the Prophet Muhammadsacould achieve such a rank through the blessing of God. They would act as a polished mirror for the image of the Prophet Muhammadsain this age.
Prophecies of the Latter-Days
Many Christians and Muslims today believe in prophecies pertaining to the ‘end of the world.’ Contemporary Muslims believe in various prophecies that paint a strange picture of a final age for humanity, in which a great giant known as the ‘Antichrist’ would travel the Earth on his giant donkey, spreading discord and disorder. At the same time, ‘Gog’ and ‘Magog’ would emerge, two opposing individuals whose war would shake the foundations of world peace.
While many Muslims and Christians take these prophecies literally, Ahmadis believe that prophecies about the future are couched in metaphorical language, symbolising realities that could not be conceived by the people at the time of their revelation. Ahmadis believe that the prophecies about the Antichrist and his donkey symbolised an age in which a great behemothic power would overcome the world, spreading an ungodly message in the name of God, and spreading materialism rather than spirituality. They would travel across the Earth on new modes of transport which would revolutionise travel, conquerring lands and peoples with ease.
Ahmadis believe that this was accomplished by the spread of Christianity throughout the world by the missionaries of the British Empire and their heirs. Their message would, according to an Islamic perspective, breed atheism in the true God, and lead people away from religion altogether. For Ahmadis, the prophecies of Gog and Magog are taken to indicate the splitting of world powers into two opposing factions, finding fulfilment in the rise of the Capitalist and Communist blocs, the legacy of which still has dire consequences for world peace today. Moreover, Ahmadis disagree with the idea that this time would signify a universal destruction. Rather, Ahmadis believe that this age of strife and disorder will transition into a final era of peace for mankind, ushered by the arrival of the Promised Messiah.
Identity of the Promised Messiah
As discussed, Ahmadi Muslims believe that the second coming of the Messiah was metaphorical; that this messianic figure would be born within the Muslims; that he would achieve the rank of Prophethood by way of reflection; that he would herald the victory of Islam and a final era of peace for mankind. Ahmadis believe that these prophecies found fulfilment in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas. Ahmad declared that the need of this age for a divine reformer was proof enough of his successful claim. However, he elaborated on four major domains of his own signs of truth: his mastery over the arabic language, which he claimed was directly revealed to him by God; his unparalleled exposition of the truth of the Holy Qur’an; the public fulfilment of his fervent prayers; and the fulfilment of his daring and potent prophecies. Finally, he discussed in detail how his advent clearly fulfilled prophecies uttered over a thousand years prior to his birth.
Are Ahmadis Muslims?
Ahmadis are Muslims, and fulfil every authentic definition of being a Muslim. One famous narration of the Prophetsareads:
Hazrat Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophetsasaid: “Ask me question”, but (his companions) were diffident to ask. Meanwhile, a man came in and sat in front of the Holy Prophetsaand asked: “What is Islam?” The Holy Prophetsareplied “Do not associate partners with Allah, offer prayer, pay Zakat and fast in Ramadhan.” The man replied, “You have spoken the truth.”–Sahih Muslim, Book of Faith
Another narration of the Holy Prophetsareads:
“One who observes the same prayer as we do, faces the same direction (in prayer) as we do, and partakes from the animal slaughtered by us, then such a one is a Muslim concerning whom there is a covenant of Allah and His Messenger; so you must not seek to betray Allah in the matter of this Covenant.”–Sahih Bukhari, Book of Salat
Moreover in the census of Medina, the Prophet Muhammad allowed those who simply called themselves Muslims to be referred to as Muslims. There was no other criterion.
Many non-Ahmadi Muslim scholars say that Ahmadis are not Muslims. However, their stance has no basis given the statements of the Prophet Muhammadsahimself, as Ahmadis fulfil each criterion the Prophetsalaid down. When Ahmadis are so self-evidently Muslims, and have done so much for the cause of Islam in the last 125 years, it is perverse to call them non-Muslims. Indeed, such a sentiment stems out of a desire to stigmatise the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and stop people joining its fold. This is sadly the aim of many opponents of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who have seen so many Muslims follow Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianasrather than the previously established clergy. Just as the Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of Jesusasdenounced him as a heretic, so too have the Muslimulema(clergy) denounced Ahmadasas a heretic.
But theulemashould tread with caution. The Prophet Muhammadsawarned those who call other Muslims non-believers:
“If a man says to his brother, ‘You are a disbeliever’, then surely one of them becomes as such.”–Sahih Bukhari, Volume 78, Hadith 130
This proves that in the eyes of God, calling a believer a ‘non-believer’ is such a grave act that it removes one from the pale of Islam. Moreover the Qur’an exhorts the Muslims:
“O ye who believe! when you go forth in the cause of Allah, make proper investigation and say not to anyone who greets you with the greeting of peace, ‘Thou art not a believer.’ You seek the goods of this life, but with Allah are good things in plenty.”–Holy Qur’an, 4:95
It is thus incumbent upon non-Ahmadi Muslims to investigate the claims of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianasbefore declaring him and his followers non-Muslims.
Why the Name ‘Ahmadiyya’?
Finally, we come to the question of why Ahmadis have formed a ‘separate’ community and taken a ‘new’ name. Though the Qur’an condemns the splitting of religion into sects by the hands of men, this is naturally what happens when a Prophet of God appears among the followers of an established religious group. Naturally, the community will be split among new lines — those who follow him, and those who do not. As such, the new group deserve a new name, for those who oppose them will not like to be mistaken for the reformist group. Likewise, those in the reformist community would not want their beliefs and works mistaken for the old group’s beliefs and works. As such, a new name is entirely appropriate.
In 1901, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadassaw the census of India as an opportunity to designate his community with a unique name, one derived from the Holy Prophet Muhammadsahimself. Ahmad explained:
“The name which is appropriate for the Movement and which we prefer for ourselves is Muslims of the Ahmadiyya sect. We have chosen this name because the Holy Prophet had two names, Muhammad and Ahmad; Muhammad was his name of glory, and Ahmad was his name of beauty. In the name of Muhammad was implicit a prophecy that the Holy Prophet, would punish with the sword such enemies as would attack Islam with the sword and slaughter hundreds of Muslims. His name Ahmad indicated that he would spread peace and security in the world. God so arranged the life of the Holy Prophet, that his Meccan life was a manifestation of his name Ahmad and Muslims were taught patience and endurance. In his life in Medina, his name Muhammad was manifested. But there was a prophecy that name Ahmad would be manifested again in the Latter Days that a person would appear through whom the qualities of beauty, which characterise Ahmad, would be manifested, and all fighting would come to an end. For this reason it has been considered appropriate that the name of this sect should be Ahmadiyya sect, so that everyone hearing this name should realise that this sect has come into being for the spread of peace and security and that it would have nothing to do with war and fighting.”
Promised Messiah in His Own Words
"We do believe that there is none worthy of worship except God Almighty and Sayyidna Hadrat Muhammadsa, the Chosen One, is His Messenger and the Khatamul Anbiya’. We believe that Angels are a reality, that Resurrection is a reality and that the Day of Judgement is a reality; that Heaven is a reality and so is Hell. We do believe that whatever the Glorious and Majestic God has stated in the Holy Qur’an and whatever our Prophetsa, has stated is all, according to the aforementioned statement, the truth. We do believe that the person who subtracts an iota from the Islamic law or adds to it as much, or lays the foundation in any manner for the rejection of Islamic injunctions, or attempts to declare unlawful what has been made lawful in Islam, is an infidel and a renegade. We admonish our Jama‘at that they must adhere tenaciously to the fundamental article of Islamic faith: "There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah," and that as long as they live they shall die holding fast to this belief. Also, they must have firm faith in all the Messengers of Allah and revealed Books authenticated by the Holy Qur’an. They should strictly abide by the Quranic injunctions, observe Prayers, keep Fast, pay the Zakat and perform the Hajj. They should practice Islam by fully complying with all the injunctions, obligations and prohibitions prescribed by God and His Messenger. In short, all such matters on which there is consensus of belief and practice among our righteous predecessors, and all those matters which are considered Islamic on account of the collective judgement of the ummah [Muslim community] should be accepted, as a matter of course, to be a part of faith. We call to witness the Heaven and the Earth that this is exactly our faith.''– Ayyamus Sulha, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 14, p. 323
"We are Muslims, we believe in God Who is One, and we also believe in the Kalimah. We believe that the Qur’an is the Book of Allah and Muhammadsais His Prophet and Khatamul Anbiya’. We believe in the existence of the Angels, in the Day of Judgement, and in the existence of Heaven and Hell. We say our daily prayers, keep fast during Ramadan and turn towards Ka‘bah to pray. "We consider it our duty to refrain from whatever Allah and His Prophet forbid us to do and do whatever they command us to do. We have no authority to add or detract anything from the Islamic Sharia. We accept as part of Islam all that has come to us from the Holy Prophetsa, whether or not we understand its raison d’etre. By the Grace of Allah, we are true believers, Muslims and believers in the Oneness of God."– Nur-ul-Haq, Part I, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 8, p.7
"We would like to inform our readers that we hold Jesus Christas in high esteem and genuinely believe that he was a true prophet and beloved of God."– Nur-ul-Qur’an, Part II, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.9, p.374
"Of all the revealed Books which we find today, it is only the Holy Qur’an whose claim to be the Word of God is established on the basis of irrefutable arguments. The principles it lays down regarding salvation correspond exactly with the dictates of truth and human nature. The doctrines it propounds are so perfect and well founded that they are supported by powerful and irrefutable evidence. Its injunctions are based on absolute justice and its teachings are completely free from the contamination of Shirk—associating partners with God and innovative deviations. It is a Book in which there is great eagerness to manifest the Oneness and Greatness of God and to emphasize the perfection of the attributes of the One and Only God. It is a Book which has this outstanding quality that it is filled entirely and purely with the Unity of God and does not permit any blemish or defect or shortcoming or aspersion to be ascribed to God Almighty. Also, it does not impose any doctrine perforce. On the contrary, it establishes in advance the truth of what it teaches.
"It proves its aims and objectives with reasons and explains every principle it enunciates, it leads man to firm belief and absolute understanding of realities. Thus it removes, with the help of self-evident signs, all defects, impurities and irregularities which infest human beliefs, practices, words and deeds. It also teaches all etiquettes which are essential to actualize human potentialities.”
"It resists every evil current today with equal force. Its teachings are straight, powerful and well-balanced as if they were a reflective mirror of nature itself and a true copy of the law of nature. It is like an enlightening sun for the inner eye and perceptive faculty of the heart.''– Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 1 pp.81-82)
The Holy Prophetsa
"There have been millions of pure-hearted people in the world and there will be many more in future, but we have found the best of them all and the choicest man of God, whose name is Muhammadsa.
“Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! you also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace” (33:57)
Leave aside any mention of the holy ones from among those whose circumstances have not been described in detail in the Holy Qur’an, we shall speak of only those Prophets who are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an like Moses, David, Jesus and others, peace be on them. "We affirm it on oath, calling God to witness, that if the Holy Prophet(may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), had not come into the world, and the Holy Qur’an had not been revealed, and we had not seen with our own eyes the blessings that we have witnessed, the truth of all past Prophets would have remained doubtful to us. No truth can be attained from mere stories, for it is quite possible that they may not be true and it is also possible that the miracles that are attributed to these Prophets might be exaggerations, for no sign of them is visible today. We cannot even ascertain from the Scriptures revealed in the past that God does exist, because we are not assured that God speaks to man. But with the advent of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, the truth of all these stories was confirmed. We now realize not merely as a statement, but as a matter of experience, what converse with God means and how God's signs are manifested and how prayers are answered. All this we have discovered by following the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). What others relate as stories we have witnessed it all. We have attached ourselves to a Prophet who actually shows God to us."– Chashmah-e-Ma‘rifat Part II, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23 pp. 301-302)
"Allulemaare not the same: Some of them are God-fearing while others are wrongdoers. Those who fear Allah, we always think well of them; Allah will soon guide them and they shall perceive the truth. When they are told to declare this man a kafir who is claiming to be the Messiah, they say 'We will not say anything without full knowledge, and we fear Allah'."– Al-Huda, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18 pp. 320
We trust these quotations give an insight into the fierce devotion of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to the cause of Islam.
Ahmadis believe in all the tenets of Islam. Though their beliefs are often misrepresented, proper investigation would be to read the words Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadashimself. We present some extracts on various topics which will be explored in greater depth below.
Death of Jesusas– Qur’an
According to Ahmadi Muslims, Jesusaswas a Prophet of God; like other Prophets he was mortal, and died upon this Earth. Ahmadis believe that this is the unequivocal testimony of the Holy Qur’an. Mirza Ghulam Ahmadaswrote volumes on this topic, showing how the Qur’an, ahadith (traditions), and the consensus of the companions leave no room for the belief that Jesusasof Nazareth is physically in heaven and will return to Earth one day.
In his writings he brought forth at least 30 verses proving that Jesusasdied. For a true Muslim, even one verse of the Qur’an proving this would be enough, but for completeness’ sake we will present five. Ahmad’s books should be read in detail for a fuller discussion of the topic.
N.B.:as elsewhere on this site, the references provided are to Qur’an’s which enumerate the first verse of almost every chapter of the Qur’an, beginning in ‘bismillah.’ Most Sunni and Shia publications do not follow this numbering system, and therefore I will have to be subtracted from the verse numbers of the references given below. For instance, a reference here to 3:145 will be 3:144 in many other Qur’ans.
1. “The Messengers Before Have Passed Away”
“And Muḥammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allāh at all. And Allāh will certainly reward the grateful.”– Holy Qur’an 3:145
This verse tells us that Muhammadsawas only a Messenger, and since all the Messengers before him have passed away, Muslims should not be shocked into cowardice and disbelief when he dies too. The Arabic used for ‘the Messengers before him’ leaves no room for any exception to this statement, as the definite article is used, indicating that the entire class of ‘the Messengers’ have passed away. Moreover, the Arabic words translated as passed away is defined by the text itself in the words ‘if then he dies or is slain.’ This indicates that these two methods of death are all that is meant by ‘passed away’. This verse is therefore a conclusive testimony that the Messengers before the Prophet Muhammadsahave died, including of course, the Prophet Jesusas.
This verse is also a testimony in another way. It is narrated in Sahih Bukhari, the most authentic book of narrations, that when the Prophetsadied, his companions were shocked and greatly aggrieved. Hazrat Umarra, the great companion who would one day become the 2nd Khalifa, in particular could not believe it. In fact, he threatened a painful punishment upon those who were claiming the Prophet had really died. He said that he had only gone away temporarily, as Mosesas had gone up the mountain, and would soon return to his people. The sagely Hazrat Abu Bakrrahowever had a different response when he heard the news. He saw the Prophet’s body, whispering to him that he was beautiful in life as he was in death. Then he swore to him that Allah would not let him die two deaths, i.e. the death of his mission as well as the end of his Earthly life. Abu Bakr addressed the grieving crowd. He quoted a verse of the Qur’an (39:31) that foretold the Prophet’s death. He also quoted the verse in question,
“And Muḥammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allāh at all. And Allāh will certainly reward the grateful.”
It is reported by Hazrat Umarra that when this verse was quoted it was as if it was being revealed for the first time. Its import struck them mightily, and the grief that overcame them was staggering. For they then accepted that their beloved Prophet had really departed from this world, and they would have to wait until the next life to encounter him again.
This incident proves that the companions believed that Jesusaspassed away before the Prophet Muhammadsa. It does this in two ways. Firstly, if the companions believed that Jesusaswas alive in heaven, then Hazrat Umarra would not have quoted the incident of Mosesas going up the mountain as an example of a Prophet leaving his people. If they believed Jesusashad ascended to heaven, then this would have been the glaringly obvious analogy to be employed. Secondly, the reaction of the companions to the verse in question is itself conclusive. Upon hearing that the Messengers before the Holy Prophetsahad passed away, none of them objected that Jesusaswas obviously an exception. Rather they all knew the logic of the verse was sound, and in direct accord with their own beliefs. Thus we find that the very first consensus of the companions was on the death of Jesusas, a belief of the utmost importance that has been revived in this age by Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas.
2. “O Jesus, I will cause thee to die”
“When Allāh said, ‘O Jesusas, I will cause thee to die and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ.”— Holy Qur’an, 3:56
Most Sunni and Shia scholars publicly proclaim that Jesusaswas raised to heaven by God and will return in the latter days to usher in a new era of Islam. After this, it is believed he will die. However, the order of the words in this verse contradicts that belief. It clearly mentions Jesusas’ death first, and then mentions his ascension. In the same way that‘I will find John and I will inform him’means that you will find John and then inform him,‘I will cause thee to die then raise thee’means that the death precedes the ‘ascension.’ As it is irrational for us to infer that‘I will find John and inform him’means‘I will inform John and then find him’,so too is it irrational for us to place Jesusas’ ascension’ before his eventual death. Thus, non-Ahmadi Muslims should realise that their belief clearly contradicts this verse of the Qur’an. If the ascension occurs after death, then it is only spiritual ascension that can be meant, and not physical ascension.
3. “They did not crucify him.”
“And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesusas, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allāh;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty;
On the contrary, Allāh exalted him to Himself. And Allāh is Mighty, Wise.
And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection, he (Jesusas) shall be a witness against them.”— Holy Qur’an 4:158-160
This verse is often used to demonstrate the Sunni and Shia belief that an unknown individual was made to resemble Jesusas, and that this person was put on the cross. However, this belief has no basis in this verse, in any other verse of the Qur’an, or in any authentic traditions. To the contrary, this verse is a clear proof that Jesusaspassed away aftersurvivingthe crucifixion attempt.
The verse opens by repeating the words of the Jews who claimed they killed Jesusas. Their claims fell into two camps. First was the claim that Jesusashad been killed prior to being placed on the cross. This theory is referred to in the words ‘they slew him not’. Others said that Jesusaswas killed by crucifixion on the cross. This is refuted by the words ‘nor did they crucify him.’ It should be noted that the Arabic word for crucifixion meansdeathby crucifixion, as does the English word. You cannot say someone was crucified unless they completed the process of crucifixion by dying on a cross. In the same way, to be ‘drowned’ means ‘death by drowning’, and notalmostdrowning. Thus when the Qur’an says that he was not crucified, it means that while they may have put him on the cross, he did not die on it. He was therefore notcrucified.
The verse goes on to explain that ‘he resembled this.’ The subject of these words can only be Jesusas. Thus Jesusas‘resembled this.’ But what did he resemble? The object can only be the method of crucifixion just mentioned. Jesusasthereforeresembledone who had been crucified. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadasexplained that Jesusasresembled someone who died on the cross by fainting while he was up there, falling into a comatose state. He was mistaken for dead, and brought down from the cross after only being on it for 3-6 hours. He then came to while in the sepulchre, and thereafter escaped the Roman Empire.
The next part of the verse vividly describes the confusion of all parties regarding the truth of what happened; confusion to be finally lifted by God through the Promised Messiahas.
Then God describes how after this whole incident, God exalted Jesusas. This indicates that Jesus’as steadfastness during the crucifixion trial exalted his spiritual station.
Finally, the passage hints at how Jesusaswould go on to complete his mission in his own lifetime. By revealing that the Israelites would believe in his survival and spiritual loftiness before his death, it necessitated the migration of Jesusasto the East, where he would preach to the Lost Tribes of the Children of Israel. It also meant that the two tribes of Israel within Jerusalem were successfully converted to Messianic Judaism before his death.
You can read more about this topic in Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’saslandmark bookJesus in India.
4. “But since thou caused me to die…”
And when Allah will say, “O Jesusas, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?’”, he will answer, “Holy art Thou. I could never say that to which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things.
I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me ‘Worship Allāh, my Lord and your Lord.’And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou has been the witness over all things.”— Holy Qur’an, 5: 118
This verse describes a dialogue between Jesusasand God, in which God asks Jesusasif he is responsible for the idolatry perpetuated in his name. Jesusasdisavows this, expressing his ignorance of what had been done in his name. He replies by saying that in his lifetime, he preached the unity of God, and that it was only after his death that these things happened. The verse is therefore yet another conclusive proof that Jesusashas passed away, for Jesusasclearly places the distortion of his teachings and his deification as occurring after his death. If Jesusasis still alive and awaiting to return to Earth, then according to this verse, Muslims must accept that the Christians have not gone astray from Jesus’asteachings.
5. They are dead, not living
“And those on whom they call beside Allāh create not anything, but they are themselves created. They are dead, not living; and they know not when they will be raised.”—Holy Qur’an, 16:21-22
This verse vividly describes the state of those who have been called upon as gods by people throughout history. If there is anyone who has been idolized more than anyone else throughout history, it is Jesusas. The verse passes the verdict that Jesusasis ‘dead, not living,’ and that he will not know when he will be raised into the next life.
Death of Jesusasin the Hadith
The narrations of the Prophetsaand his companions clearly show that they believed that the Jesusashad died. We have already discussed the first consensus of the companions. We now turn to some other traditions of note:
“Verily, Jesusas, son of Mary, lived 120 years.”— Kanzul-Ummāl, Vol. 6, p. 160 and Ḥujajul-Karāmah, p. 428
This narration is self-explanatory. The Prophetsaalso said:
“If Moses and Jesusashad been alive, they would have had to follow me.”— Zurqānī, Vol. 6, p. 54 and Ibn Kathīr, Vol. 2, p. 246
If the Holy Prophetsabelieved Jesusaswas alive, he would not have used the word 'if' regarding him. In another tradition recorded inZurqani,the Holy Prophetsasaid:
“Once in every year, Gabriel recited the Quran to me. This year he recited twice. He also told me that every succeeding prophet has lived to half the age of his predecessor. He told me that Jesusas, son of Mary, lived to a hundred and twenty years. Therefore, I think, I may live to about sixty years.”
This prediction was proved true.
The Holy Prophet’ssagrandson, Hazrat Hasanrareferred to the death of Jesusasin the following words:
“He (Hazrat ‘Alī) has passed away during the night in which the soul [not the body] of Jesusas, son of Mary, was raised, that is, the night of the 27th of the month of Ramadan.”— Ṭabaqātul-Kabīr by Ibn Sa‘d, Vol. 3
If the companions believed Jesusasrose physically to heaven, then why did Hasanraspecify it was Jesusassoul that rose?
We have seen that the death of Jesusasis agreed upon by the Holy Qur’an, the Holy Prophetsa, and all the companions. However, even after this era, many great scholars did not adhere to the erroneous view that crept into Islam from the Christians that Jesusaswas raised physically to heaven.
Regarding Imam Malik, it is written:
“Although many people say that Jesusasdid not die, Imām Malik used to say he had died.”— Majma‘ul-Bihār
Ibn Arabirh, the renowned Sufi Master, wrote in his commentary on 4:158:
“The raising of Jesusas(may peace be on him) means that his soul was raised to meet Allāh, the Almighty, in the next world... and in the latter days he will appear metaphorically in the person of someone else.”— Tafsīr Ibn ‘Arabī, p. 65
This was also the view of Ibn Qayyim, and Ibn Hazm, among others.
The Second Coming & the Imam Mahdi
If Jesusashas passed away, then what do we make of the prophecies regarding his second coming? How do they affect our interpretation of the prophecies of the Imam Mahdi? And what is the Qur’anic basis for this entire concept?
We will first establish the Qur’anic basis for the belief in the appearance of a divine reformer in the Latter Days. It appears most vividly in the 62nd chapter of the Holy Qur’an.
“He it is Who has raised among the Unlettered people a Messenger from among themselves who recites unto them His Signs, and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and wisdom, although they had been, before, in manifest misguidance.
And among others from among them who have not yet joined them. He is the Mighty, the Wise. That is Allah’s grace; He bestows it on whom He pleases; and Allah is the Master of immense grace.”— Holy Qur’an, 62: 3-5
These verses paint a graphic picture of the spiritual revolution the Holy Prophet Muhammadsabrought to the deserts of Arabia. But they then go on to foretell of his ‘raising’ amongothers from them who have not yet joined them.The obvious question is how will the Holy Prophetsabe ‘raised again?’ Secondarily, who will be these ‘others’ who have not yet joined them?
The companions of the Holy Prophetsathemselves were confused. The following is reported in Sahih Bukhari, the most authentic book of traditions:
Abū Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrates: “We were in the company of the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when Sūrah Jumu’ah was revealed. [When he recited the verse] ‘Wa Ākharīna Minhum Lammā Yalḥaqū Bihim,’ that is, ‘And (among) others of them who have not yet joined them,’ one of those present asked, “Who are they, O Messenger of Allāh?” The Holy Prophet did not reply until the third time. At that time, Salman the Persian was also among us. The Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) placed his hand on him and said, ‘Even if faith ascended to the Pleiades, a person or persons from among them will restore it [back to earth].”— Sahih Bukhārī, Book of Commentary
We can learn many things from this remarkable tradition.
First, the importance of the subject matter, signified by the Holy Prophetsawaiting for the question to be asked three times before answering it. Next, the Holy Prophetsadid not answer the question that Abu Hurairahra asked. Rather, he answered the question he thought he should have asked. Instead of answering the question ofwhothese later people would be, he answered the question ofhowthe Holy Prophetsawill appear in the world again among a different people. His answer was that when faith would disappear to the heavens, a man/men from among the Persians would restore faith to the Earth.
Then the verse and the hadith also confer the status ofcompanionson these latter people.
Moreover, by referring to a plurality of reformers, it indicates that this re-manifestation of the Prophetsawould be followed by others, hisKhulafa.Finally, the verse and hadith establish that this Reformer and his successors will be successful in returning faith to the Earth.
For Ahmadi Muslims, these grand prophecies have been fulfilled in a grand manner with Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadasof Qadian. He was of Persian descent, came at an era when the state of the Muslims was dire, and was believed in by companions who showed the same class of high resolve and moral purity seen in the companions of the Prophet Muhammadsa. After his death, he was followed by Successors from the Persians.
As every sound narration must find basis in the Qur’an, we must use this pronouncement as the foundation for understanding other traditions which refer to future reformers.
In the authentic books of traditions, there are multiple references to the Second Coming of the Son of Mary. There are also scattered references of the advent of the Imam Mahdi. We turn to this group of traditions next.
The Promised Messiah
Hazrat Abū Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: By Him in Whose hands is my life, the son of Mary will soon appear among you. He will administer justice, he will break the cross, kill the swine, abolish war and distribute wealth but no one will accept it. In those days, one prostration before Allāh will be better than the world and what it contains. (Bukhārī, Book of the Prophets)
If the literal meaning of this prophecy is accepted, we will be accepting absurdities. A Prophet long dead would be raised to break crosses and kill pigs? In reality, this tradition can only be understood as a series of profound metaphors. We turn to it in parts.
Son of Mary:This indicates that there would appear among the Muslims a messianic figure who would bear resemblance to the Prophet Jesusas. The similarities between Mirza Ghulam Ahmadasof Qadian and Jesusasare legion.
He will administer justice:The Promised Messiah would be one to resolve the multifarious theological differences that had arisen within the Muslims. He would arbitrate his edicts on the basis of true knowledge, which is the basis of true justice.
He will break the cross:The Cross is symbolic of the Christian faith. It indicates that through his prayers and arguments, the Messiah will weaken the Christian faith of St. Paul. It is indeed remarkable that 150 years ago Christian missionaries believed that the time would soon come when Mecca and Medina would be under Christian control. Instead, there has been a remarkable reversal of fortunes. Ahmadasfought back Christian missionaries with powerful argumentation in British India. He proved that from the Bible, Qur’an, and other historical sources, that Jesusasdied a natural death in Kashmir, India. Since then, his community has been at the forefront of defeating Christian proselytism across Africa, and elsewhere across the world.
He will kill the swine:Pigs are a creation of Allah, though they are forbidden to eat. The idea that the Messiah would spend his time killing these creations of God is an insult to Divine wisdom, and a disgrace to the station of the Prophethood. Rather, the swine referred to are those who have become swine-like in their moral character, happy to revel in their most lowly desires. Thekillingof swine signifies the moral purification of the morally decrepit.
He will abolish war:This indicates that the age of the Promised Messiah would be a time when he would forbid the Muslims from physical warfare against non-believers. He would do this based on the timeless teachings of Islam themselves, which only permit defensive warfare. This is the warfare that the Prophet Muhammadsaengaged in. In this era however, Islam is being fought against with words, and not guns. Thus Ahmadascommissioned a Jihad of the Pen, and not a Jihad of the sword.
It should be noted that other similarly worded narrations speak of the Promised Messiah abolishing thejizya,rather than abolishing war. Again this can only be a symbolic phrase, for thejizyais an Islamic teaching which no future Prophet could ever abolish. The abolition ofjizyaindicates once more that this will not be an era of physical warfare in defence of Islam, and thus there would be no need for thejizyato be taken.
He would distribute wealth but no-one would accept it:True wealth is not material. Rather true knowledge is spiritual knowledge, which elevates one’s love of God. This knowledge is the true currency of creation. The distribution of wealth therefore signifies the distribution of spiritual insights that Mirza Ghulam Ahmadasperformed through his countless volumes of literature. (It must signify this, for who would not accept the distribution of material wealth?) The prophecy foretells that the Messiah would be rejected by many when he arrived, as shown by the widespread hostility against Ahmadas . However, his community marches on in endless progress.
One prostration would be better than all that the world contains:This indicates that his era would be a faithless one, steeped in materialism. There would be so little goodness in the world, that even the smallest act of worship would be noteworthy.
There are numerous such examples of narrations with deep spiritual meaning. One easy-to-peruse collection of these is onAhmadi Answers,a personal website of an Ahmadi Muslim which collects and explains such references.
The Descent of the Messiah
The Messiah has been prophesied to appear, but what would be the nature of that appearance? Many Muslims believe that he would descend from heaven. This is ostensibly based on the many narrations in Sahih Muslim,Kitab-ul-Fitan (The Book of Tribulations), which describe the Son of Mary ‘descending.’ These narrations use variants of the Arabic word ‘nuzul.’ For instance the narrations read:
The traditions speak of an arrival that has been described by the wordnuzul, translated asdescent. However, in no authentic tradition is the termdescentfrom heaven found. Indeed, how can one ‘descend’ from heaven? Heaven is not literally above us. God does not live in the sky.
So how can we understand this termnuzul/descent?Is it a literal descent from a place physically above us? Or does it have a deeper, spiritual meaning? The answer is of course found in the Holy Qur’an. It uses the term descent in many places, though never literally meaning a physical descent from heaven:
“Then Allah sent down (anzala) His peace upon His messenger.”(Holy Qur’an, 9:26)
‘Then after the sorrow, He sent down (anzala) peace on you, a slumber that overcame a party of you.”Holy Qur’an, 3:155
‘And He has sent down eight head of cattle in pairs.’(Holy Qur’an, 39: 7)
‘We have indeed sent down (anzala) raiment to you to cover your shame, and to be an elegant dress; but the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. That is one of the Signs of Allah that they may remember.”(Holy Qur’an, 7:27)
“And sent down (anzalna) on you Manna and Salwa.”(Holy Qur’an, 2:58)
‘And We sent down (anzalna) iron, wherein is material for violent warfare and many benefits for mankind and that Allah may distinguish those who help Him and His Messengers without having seen Him. Surely, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.’(Holy Qur’an, 57: 26)
‘And if Allah should enlarge the provision for His servants, they would rebel in the earth; but He sends down (yunzilu) according to a proper measure as He pleases. Indeed, He is All-Aware and All-Seeing with regard to His servants.’(Holy Qur’an, 42:28)
In each of these cases, a version of the wordnuzulhas been used. However, it should be clear that descent here signifies the arrival of a great blessing from Allah the Exalted. It does not mean anything physical. Otherwise, are cattle, sleep, Manna and Salwa, and iron dropping out of the sky? Or are they rather things that we find naturally here on Earth, though they be great boons to the recipients? Surely it is the latter.
The most clear example of this usage is found in the following verse:
“Allah has indeed sent down to you a Reminder, a Messenger, who recites unto you the clear signs of Allah, that he may bring those who believe and do good deeds out of every kind of darkness into light.”Holy Qur’an, 65: 11
In this verse, the Prophet Muhmmadsahimself has been described as descending from God. Yet we know he was born on Earth to his mother Amina and his father Abdullah. Thus how can we interpret the hadith about the Messiah differently to how we interpret this Qur’anic verse? In light of all these verses of the Holy Book, it is clear that the Messiah’sdescentsignifies that God will cause him to appear at precisely the time of their greatest need, and he will act as a great blessing for the Godly everywhere.
Descriptions of the Two Messiahs
Yet another clear proof that the first and second Messiah would be different people is found in the hadith collection Sahih Bukhari. The Prophet Muhammadsadescribes the first Messiah as a man of fair skin, and the second Messiah a man of brown skin.
"I saw Moses, Jesusasand Abraham [in the spiritual ascension]. Jesusaswas of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest. Moses was of brown complexion, straight hair and tall stature as if he was from the people of Az-Zutt.-Sahih Bukhari, 3438
The Prophetsamentioned the Masih Ad-Dajjāl in front of the people saying, Allah is not one-eyed while Masih Ad-Dajjāl is blind in the right eye and his eye looks like a bulging out grape.
While sleeping near the Ka`ba last night, I saw in my dream a man of brown colour the best one can see amongst brown color and his hair was long that it fell between his shoulders. His hair was lank and water was dribbling from his head and he was placing his hands on the shoulders of two men while circumambulating the Ka`ba. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'This is Jesusas, son of Mary.'
Behind him I saw a man who had very curly hair and was blind in the right eye, resembling Ibn Qatan (i.e. an infidel) in appearance. He was placing his hands on the shoulders of a person while performing circumambulation around the Ka`ba. I asked, 'Who is this? 'They replied, 'The Masih, Ad-Dajjāl.’”— Sahih Bukhari, 3439, 3440
Clearly different descriptions are given of the first Messiah whom the Prophetsasaw in the vision of the spiritual ascension, and the second Messiah who was yet to come. One was of fair ruddy complexion, the other of brown skin and long hair. Despite this difference, the second Messiah was still called ‘Jesus, Son of Mary.’ This explains that while the two Messiahs would be different people, they would share the same Messianic title.
The Messiah and the Mahdi
There are numerous traditions about the Imam Mahdi in Islamic literature. Many of these have conflicting claims about his heritage and his place of origin. Many seem to have been fabricated in an era of internal clashes between different parts of the Islamic Empire, with each dynasty claiming the Mahdi would come amongst them, and lead their armies. While there are many such contradictory traditions, it would be wrong to discount the entire concept of the Imam Mahdi on account of these invented accounts.
While details may differ about Mahdi, we can at least be certain that the Prophet Muhammadsadid describe an Imam Mahdi (Guided Leader) appearing among his followers in an era of great trials, and restoring honour and blessings to the Muslims. He is described as having the same name as the Holy Prophetsa, and in some less traditions, as having parents with the same names as those of the Prophet’s parents. To Ahmadi Muslims, these are indications that the Imam Mahdi will be a spiritual reflection of the Prophet Muhammadsahimself. Otherwise, it is no particular distinguishing feature to be called ‘Muhammad Bin Abdullah,’ these being extremely common names among Muslims. The true meaning of such prophecies is that the Imam Mahdi would be the likeness of the Prophetsa, and thus was symbolically given the name of the Prophetsahimself.
The reception that the Imam Mahdi would receive from the Muslim clergy has been written on by many divines throughout the ages. Most notable of these was the warning of Hazrat Ibn Arabirh, who wrote in his magnum opusThe Meccan Revelations, chapter 36:
“When the Imām Mahdī appears, no one will oppose him more than the pseudo jurists and Mullās, for they would be afraid of losing their own position and hold over the masses.”
Ḥazrat Sayyid Aḥmad Sirhindirh, a renowned saint of Islam, wrote:
“It is most likely that the superficial Divines would reject him and regard him as opposed to the Holy Qur’ān and the practice of the Holy Prophet.”— Maktūbāt, Vol. 2, p. 55
Thus the learned throughout Islamic history have been warning that the Imam Mahdi would not be accepted by his own people. They said that he would be maligned as one who opposes the faith rather than supports it.
What would be the relationship between the Imam Mahdi and the Promised Messiah? While many Muslims can narrate fantastical stories they learnt in their childhoods about the Messiah and the Imam Mahdi teaming up and fighting hosts of villains, these have no basis in the Qur’an or the authentic traditions. The authentic traditions mention the ‘Imam Mahdi’ little, describing the advent of the Promised Messiah more frequently. However, when an Imam of the Latter Days is mentioned, it is explained that the Promised Messiah is the Imam Mahdi.
In Ibn Majah’s Book of Tribulations, the Holy Prophetsais recorded assaying:
“The matter will not add but more misery; and the world would not multiply but in adversity (and poverty); and people would turn more and more niggardly; and the (last) Hour would not occur but on the worst people; and there would be no Mahdī (the guided one) but Jesusas, son of Mary.”
This startling narration clearly says that in the time of the Latter Days, there will be no guided Imam except the Promised Messiah. This saying is confirmed by another narration in Sahih Bukhari’s Book of Prophetswhich reads:
“What will be your state when the Son of Mary descends among you and he will be your Imam from among you?”
A similarly-worded tradition also appears in Sahih Muslim. These narrations should make it clear then that the most authentic narrations we have confirm the Messiah and Mahdi as two titles for the same person. While this individual would have messianic qualities, he would also be rightly guided by the command of Allah. Indeed the meanings ofMessiahandMahdi are anointed one and guided one.These meanings are near-identical.
There are other traditions worth taking note of in this regard, notably those which describe the Mahdi leading the Messiah in prayer. Yet again, these prophecies point to a spiritual reality rather than a literal reality, here indicating that the station of the Mahdi is a higher station than being the Messiah. For while the Messianic title indicates the similarity in temperament, function and circumstances between Jesusasand the Latter-Day Messiah, the Mahdi’s spiritual state would be a reflection of the Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual state. It would therefore be much higher than the spiritual station of the Prophet Jesusas. Being only a reflection of course, it could never rival the spiritual perfection of the Prophet Muhammadsahimself.
So what is the station of the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah? Is he just a scholar, a saint, or a Divine Reformer? In fact, the description of the Messiah as a Mahdi confirms his status as a Prophet of God, for the only use of the Arabic words used forImam Mahdiin the Qur’an is for a description of the Prophets:
“And We made them leaders who guided (people) by Our command, and We sent revelation to them enjoining the doing of good works, and the observing of Prayer, and the giving of alms. And they were worshippers of Us alone.”— Holy Qur’an, 21:74
Moreover, the narrations which describe the second coming of the Messiah, Son of Mary in Sahih Muslim describe him as a Prophet. Indeed, he is described thus four times in one narration alone:
“... Allāh’s Apostle Jesusasand his companions would then be besieged… Allāh’s Apostle Jesusasand his companions would supplicate Allāh… Allāh’s Apostle Jesusasand his companions would come down to earth... Allāh’s Apostle Jesusasand his companions would then again beseech Allāh...”-Sahih Muslim, Book of Tribulations and of the Hour
We have already established that the Second Coming of the Messiah would not be the old Jesusas, but a new Messianic figure guided by God, and born within theummah(Muslim community). This tradition clearly tells us that the Promised Messiah will be a Prophet of God. In the next section, we will explore in what sense this Messiah is a Prophet.
In conclusion, both the Qur’an and the traditions speak of a Latter-Day Prophet. These are the salient points of the above analysis:
- In Surah Al-Jumu’ah God himself tells us that the Prophet Muhammadsawould reappear among a later people.
- Elaborating on this, the Prophetsaexplained that a man of Persian descent would return faith to Earth.
- The Prophetsaalso prophesied the Second Coming of Jesusas, Son of Mary.
- The Prophetsathen told us that this Promised Messiah would a guided leader, an Imam Mahdi, who would restore the honour of Islam in the Latter Days.
- This Messiah would not descend from the skies but would be born among the Muslims.
- He would be of brown skin, and would have long hair.
- He will be guided by revelation, and would settle differences between the various sects of Muslims justly. He would defeat Christianity, strive against religious extremism, and spiritually purify those who follow him.
There is none in the history of Islam who has fulfilled these grand prophecies other than Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianra.
Finality of Prophethood
The following explanation of the Ahmadiyya interpretation of ‘Finality of Prophethood’ is excerpted from the bookInvitation to Ahmadiyyatby Hazrat Mirza Mahmud Ahmadas.
It is said that the Holy Quran teaches the discontinuity of prophets of all kinds, because it says:
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”— Holy Qur’an, 33:41
In the translation of the verse the Arabic appellationKhatam al-Nabiyyinis retained because on it hangs the meaning of the verse. It is argued from this that, according to the Holy Quran, there can be no prophets now, even from among the followers of the Holy Prophet. But many seem to forget that in the divine text the word khatam is used by God with afatha, that is, a stroke above t, not with akasra, a stroke below t.Khatammeans ‘seal’.Khatimwould mean ‘the last person’ or ‘the last one’. Now ‘seal’ has the function of attestation. The verse in question would, therefore, mean that Muhammad, the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace), is the Seal of the Prophets. The great doctor of Hadith, Imam Bukhari, has interpreted the divine title,Khatam al-Nabiyyin, as ‘Seal of the Prophets’. Imam Bukhari in commenting upon this verse has cited the Traditions which speak of a mark on the Prophet’s holy person which has been called by traditionists the seal of prophecy. Alas! people do not ponder over the beautiful words of the Holy Book, so they miss its true significance. If they would ponder first over the general context, then over the verses and words, they would not miss the significance of the verse. For without grasping the context, nobody can understand the meaning of individual verses.
Now, the passage begins by saying that the Holy Prophet is not the father of any male; that is, he has no physical son. The verse then goes on to assert that although the Holy Prophet is without male issue, he is a prophet; and not only a prophet but the Seal of all Prophets. It should be evident that what is asserted in the second part of the verse is in extenuation of what is conceded in the first. The first part concedes an apparent defect, the second part asserts something in extenuation of that defect. However, Muslims who read the Holy Book know that to admit that the Holy Prophet had no male issue is to contradict what is asserted in another well- known verse of the Holy Quran:
“Verily, it is your enemy who is without issue.”— Holy Qur’an, 108:4
An admission contradictory to an assertion needs some explanation. One verse (108:4) describes the Holy Prophet’s enemy as issueless; the other (33:41) describes the Prophet himself as issueless. To resolve this contradiction, God makes an important claim on behalf of the Holy Prophet in verse 33:41. The claim is to repel the doubt or difficulty which the admission of this contradiction may easily raise. The claim is this: True, the Holy Prophet has no physical son. But this is no disgrace. It does not mean that he is really without offspring or progeny. Why? Because he is a Prophet of God. As a Prophet of God, he would have his followers; his spiritual progeny would more than compensate for any lack of physical progeny. But he is more than a prophet. He is the Seal of the Prophets.
The expression ‘Seal of the Prophets’ asserts something further. It asserts that not only will the Prophet have followers and believers of the usual order: as Seal of the Prophets he will have the further power of raising others to the spiritual rank of prophet. He will be the progenitor not only of ordinary believers but even of prophets. In the verse cited against continuity of prophethood, we really have an affirmation of such a continuity; the continuity of an order of prophethood which has been mentioned and defined already, a prophethood which does not entail the instituting of a new law or dissociation from an earlier law. The continuity of prophethood which entails the revelation of a new law, or even partial abrogation of an older law, or the independent, unmediated realization of prophetic status, is offensive to the spiritual fatherhood of the Holy Prophet. It is the possibility of such prophethood only which is denied in verse 33:41.
Ahadith (Traditions) on Finality of Prophethood
It is also asserted that some Sayings of the Holy Prophet are contrary to a belief in the continuity of prophethood. For instance, he said,‘I am the last of the prophets,’and again:‘There is no prophet after me.’From these Sayings, it follows that there can be no prophet of any kind after the Holy Prophet!
It is a pity that those who cite these Sayings of the Holy Prophet forget that the words ‘I am the last of the prophets’ are followed by the important words ‘and my mosque is the last of the mosques.’ The whole Saying is:
‘I am the last of the prophets and my mosque is the last of the mosques.’
If, therefore, the Holy Prophet is literally the last of the prophets, then the mosque which he built in Medina is literally the last of the mosques. It would be wrong to build any mosque after the Holy Prophet’s mosque at Medina. But nobody sees any contradiction between the meaning put today on the first part of the Saying and the meaning put on the second part of the same Saying. The first part is taken to mean the termination of every kind of prophethood with the advent of the Holy Prophet. But the second part is not likewise taken to mean the end of mosque-building. Those very people who believe in the termination of prophethood see no harm in building more mosques. In fact, their zeal for building mosques is excessive. There are towns which contain more mosques than are really required; many, therefore, remain without worshippers. In many towns mosques are to be found at short distances from each other, so that their superfluity is evident. If the expression ‘the last of the prophets’ entails the abolition of prophethood, the expression ‘last of the mosques’ must entail the abolition of mosque-building after the Prophet’s mosque.
To be sure, solutions of this difficulty are attempted. It is said that mosques built by Muslims after the Holy Prophet’s time are mosques devoted to the form of worship instituted by the Holy Prophet. They are built for the same purpose as the Holy Prophet built the first mosque. Mosques built by Muslims, therefore, are the Prophet’s own mosques. They cannot be separated from the model which they imitate. Such mosques cannot and do not contradict the fact that the Prophet’s mosque is the last. The solution is a valid one. But it is equally valid to say that the expression ‘the last prophet’ does not prohibit the coming of prophets who imitate the life and example of the Holy Prophet, teach nothing new, and only follow him and his teaching; who are charged with the duty of spreading the Holy Prophet’s teaching; who attribute their spiritual acquisitions including prophethood to the spiritual example and influence of their preceptor and master, the Holy Prophet. The coming of such prophets does not offend against the Holy Prophet’s prerogative as the ‘Last Prophet’, in the same way and for the same reason that the building of mosques today does not offend against the status of the Prophet’s mosque as the ‘Last Mosque’.
Now, let us turn to the Saying‘There is no prophet after me.’This Saying also cannot mean that there is to be literally no prophet after the Holy Prophet. This Saying also means only this: that no prophet can now come who would abrogate the teaching of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet’s Saying turns on the word ‘after’. One thing comes after another only when the first thing is over and the second thing takes its place. The prophet who appears in order to propagate, promulgate, and in every way to support and promote the prophethood of the Holy Prophet and all it stood and stands for cannot be said to have appeared after the Holy Prophet. The prophethood of the Holy Prophet would be extant still. The prophet who comes to serve this prophethood is a part of the Holy Prophet’s dispensation. Such a prophet could be said to have appeared after the Holy Prophet if he had proposed the abrogation of any part of the Holy Prophet’s teaching. A wise man tries to ponder over every important subject and to reach the depth of meaning which every single word and every single text contains. No wonder Ayesha (God be pleased with her), the holy consort of the Holy Prophet, fearing that Muslims in time to come should miss the meaning of the Holy Prophet’s sayings on the subject of prophethood, warned people, saying:
“Certainly, do say, he [the Holy Prophet] is the Seal of all Prophets, but do not say, ‘there is no prophet after him.’”
If in Ayesha’sraview, in her knowledge, the coming of prophets was literally over, why did she warn people against saying there was to be no prophet after the Holy Prophet? If when she sounded this warning she was wrong, and what she said was against the teaching of the Holy Prophet, why did not the Holy Prophet’s Companions contradict her? Her warning against the casual repetition of the Saying‘There is no prophet after me’shows clearly that, according to her, the coming of a prophet after the Holy Prophet was possible. Only such a prophet could not be a law-giving prophet, or a prophet independent of the Holy Prophet. The fact that the Companions of the Holy Prophet received Ayesha’srawarning without question or criticism shows that the Companions of the Holy Prophet understood what she said and believed what she believed.
The Holy Qur’an on Prophethood
Woe to those who do not ponder over the Words of the Holy Book: misled, they seek to mislead others. Woe to those who show their wrath against us who refuse to be misled. They call us irreligious andKafirs[disbelievers]. But a believer is not afraid of other people’s threats. He is afraid only of God. What harm can one man do to another? Kill, at the most? But a believer is not afraid of being killed. For him, death opens the door to the Vision of God. If only those who decry us knew what a treasure the Holy Quran is. It is a treasure which cannot be exhausted; it is to continue to meet human needs for all time. It contains teachings about the spiritual advancement of human beings such that other books do not contain even a fraction of it. If people had any idea of the value of the Holy Quran, they would not be content with the little knowledge they have gleaned. They would delve deep into the meaning and seek ways to please God more and more, and acquire nearness to Him. If they had known the value of purity of heart as against outward conformity if they had cared for the spirit and not merely for the letter of the Holy Prophet’s teaching, they would have tried to know the ways into which the Holy Quran invites them for their spiritual advance. Had they done so, they would have discovered that they care more for the shell than for the kernel, that they hope to enjoy a drink by holding an empty cup to their lips.
Do they not read the Surah Fatiha, the first chapter of the Holy Quran? Does not the prayer in this chapter teach believers to ask God for spiritual rewards? Do they not repeat about fifty times a day the prayer‘Show us the straight path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy rewards’?If they do so, do they ever ponder over the meaning of rewards for which believers pray in the Surah Fatiha in their daily prayers? Had they even once prayed with their inward eye on the meaning of the prayer, they would have asked themselves again and again: ‘What is this straight path? What are the rewards which following the straight path is supposed to bring?’ And had they asked these questions, their attention would have been drawn to the important verse contained in chapter 4, which says:
“And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger of His shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings, namely, the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. And excellent companions are these.”— Holy Qur’an, 4:70
It is evident from this passage that when a believer prays for the path of those who have been rewarded by God’s blessings, he prays for the company of prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the virtuous. Therefore, as God has taught us this prayer through His Prophet, a prayer we repeat about fifty times every day, and as the straight path for which we pray has been explained by God Himself as the path at the end of which believers find themselves in the company of prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous who can assert and how can it be possible that, for the followers of the Holy Prophet, the door to every kind of prophethood is closed? Would not such a thought be ridiculous? Can God teach anything ridiculous? Is it possible that He should, on the one hand, exhort us to pray for our inclusion among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous and, on the other, tell us that the reward of prophethood is now banned for the followers of the Holy Prophet and banned for ever? God forbid that this should be so. God is Holy and Pure, free from all faults and all evil. If, for some reason, He had really banned the reward ‘prophethood’, then He would not have taught us to pray for the path which leads to those rewarded by God. Nor would He have declared so clearly that obedience to the Holy Prophet makes a follower blessed, and to be blessed in the highest sense is to become a prophet.
It is said that the crucial verse in the passage contains the wordma’a(lit. ‘with’) and not min (lit. ‘of’ or ‘from’). Therefore, it is asserted, the prayer only entails the possibility of a believer joining the company of prophets, of being with them, not of them. But those who assert this forget that the verse does not speak of prophets only. It speaks also of the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous. Ifma’a(lit. ‘with’) in the verse implies that a believer is banned from rising to the status of a prophet, then we have to admit that he would be banned also from rising to the status of the truthful, or the martyrs, or the virtuous. It is not discontinuity of prophets only, but also the discontinuity of the blessed ones of lower degree that we must accept and become reconciled to. A believer who prays for inclusion with the rewarded must be content only to join their company. He cannot be one of them. A believer may join the company of the truthful, but may not be one of the truthful. He may join the company of the martyrs, but may not be a martyr. He may join the company of the virtuous, but may not be one of the virtuous. It means that all spiritual rewards and ranks are banned for the followers of the Holy Prophet. The most they may expect, in response to their prayers and their exertions for spiritual merit, is that they may join the company of one spiritual galaxy or another. They may not expect to acquire the status of others in any such galaxy. Each galaxy would consist of the followers of earlier prophets. The followers of the Holy Prophet can only aspire to join them as onlookers, not as equals. No true Muslim can entertain such a thought. Such a thought is derogatory to the dignity of Islam, the Quran and the Holy Prophet. It implies that the followers of the Holy Prophet cannot aspire even to the status of virtuous believers. They can only aspire to the privilege of their company.
The wordma’aor ‘with’, therefore, cannot be taken in its superficial or literal sense. In that sense, the verse makes no sense whatsoever. It may serve the purpose of theUlema(religious divines) by banning the gift of prophethood for the followers of the Holy Prophet. But ifma’ais to be interpreted in this way, not only prophethood but the other categories of blessedness, namely, truthfulness, martyrdom and virtue, will be banned likewise. The truth, however, is that the wordma’a(lit. ‘with’) is not used only in the sense of simultaneity in time or place. It does not merely mean that two things or persons are found together. It often means also similarity or community of status. We have examples of it in the Holy Quran. Thus:
“Surely the hypocrites are in the lowest depth of the fire and Thou shalt not find for them a helper. Except those who repent and amend and hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their obedience to Allah. These then are among [or with?] the believers. And Allah will soon bestow upon believers a great reward.”— Holy Qur’an, 4:146-7
In this verse those who repent and do good deeds and are devotees of God and are sincere in their obedience are described as those who will be with the believers. If ‘being with the believers’ is taken literally, it would mean that in spite of being penitent, doing good deeds, being devoted to God, and being sincere in obedience to Him, those who practise these virtues will not attain the status of believers, but will only be with the believers. They will only acquire the right of company, but not be their equals and among them. Such a consequence is absurd in the extreme. Therefore we have to admit thatma’a(lit. ‘with’) often means similarity or equality of status It is similarity of status which is asserted in the words ‘they are with those whom God has blessed’ in the verse in question. From other places in the Holy Quran too it appears that the door to one kind of prophethood remains open for the followers of the Holy Prophet. This prophethood is an image of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet, and its purpose is to promote and propagate the truth of his teachings. Such prophethood will accrue from obedience and loyalty to the Holy Prophet. Thus in the chapter Al A’raaf, God says about the Holy Prophet and his followers:
‘Say: This is what my Lord has forbidden, indecencies which are evident and which are hidden, and sin, and revolting without Just cause, and that you join with Allah that for which He has sent down no warrant and that you say of Allah what you know not. ‘And for every people there is a term, so that when their term is come, they cannot remain behind for an hour, nor can they precede it.
‘O children of Adam, if or when My Messengers come to you from amongst you, relating My Signs to you, then as to him who is reverent and does good, there is then no fear of such, nor shall they grieve.’— Holy Qur’an, 7:31-36
From this it is evident that prophets will appear from amongst the followers of the Holy Prophet. The context relates to the followers of the Holy Prophet and it is in relation to them that God peaks of the coming of prophets and reminds them of their duty to accept such prophets. If they do not accept them, they will suffer. If anybody wishes to suggest that there is an ‘if’ in the Quranic text and that this ‘if’ makes the coming of prophets conditional and uncertain, it will not serve his purpose; because such an expression has been used in the Holy Quran in the description of the exit of Adam from Heaven. But even if we take the ‘if’ in the verse to denote a condition, it is evident that, according to God, prophetic revelation has not come to an end. A phenomenon which is avowed and which is no longer to be observed or experienced cannot be mentioned by God even in a conditional manner. To mention the impossible even in such a manner would be against the Dignity of God. Besides the evidence of the Holy Quran, the Sayings of the Holy Prophet also support the view that prophetic revelation has not come to an end. It is not completely and absolutely prohibited. The Holy Prophet has described the Promised Messiah as a Prophet. If, according to the Holy Prophet, no prophet of any kind was possible after him, why did he describe the Promised Messiah as a Prophet of God? [See above].
The Promised Messiah on Finality of Prophethood
"The accusation levelled against me and my followers that we do not believe the Messenger of Allahsa to beKhaatamun Nabiyyeen, is a colossal calumny against us. The force, certainty, perception and insight with which we believe the Holy Prophetsato beKhaatamun Nabiyyeenis such that the other people's belief in this regard is not even the millionth part, in strength, as compared to ours. But then they do not have the requisite capability for it either. They do not have any genuine understanding of the truth and essence of theKhaatamul Anbiyaa’sfact of being the Seal of Prophets (Khatme Nubuwwat). They have simply been handed down this verbal expression from their forefathers, but they are oblivious of its real meaning, and do not know what"Khatme Nubuwwat"is, and what the implication of affirming one's belief in it is But we believe the Holy Prophetsato beKhaatamul Anbiyaa’(the Ultimate Prophet) with perfect insight (let Allah the Exalted be the best witness over it). And God has manifested the truth of Khatme Nubuwwat to us in such a manner that we particularly savour the elixir of its perception which has been given to us to drink. None can imagine it except those who have been given to drink from this fountain."[Malfoozaat, vol. I, pp. 227-228, new edition]
"I have no book except the Holy Quran, and I have no Messenger except Muhammad, the chosen onesa, and I have no religion except Islam. I firmly believe that My Prophetsais the Ultimate Prophet (Khaatamul Anbiyaa’) and the Holy Quran is the Ultimate Book (Khaatamul Kutub). So no one should turn religion into a child's play. Let it be remembered that I have no claim except that of being the servant of Islam. I have no claim to rivalry, and he who attributes such a claim to me, levels a calumny against me. I receive the munificence of blessings from my Holy Prophetsaand receive the munificence of profound perception from the Holy Quran. Therefore, it is befitting that no one must entertain in his heart anything contrary to this declaration of mine, otherwise he will be liable to be accountable to God for it. If I am not a servant of Islam, then all my enterprise is futile, fit for rejection, and entails punitive liability.”[Maktoobaat-e-Ahmadiyya, vol. 5, no. 4]
"I always wonder at the high rank of this Arab Prophet, whose name is Muhammad, thousands of blessings and peace be upon him. One cannot apprehend the limit of his lofty status and it is not given to man to estimate correctly his spiritual effectiveness. It is a pity that his rank has not been recognized as it should have been. He was the champion who restored to the world the Unity of God which had disappeared from the world; he loved God in the extreme and his soul melted out of sympathy for mankind. Therefore God, Who knew the secret of his heart, exalted him above all the Prophets and all the first ones and the last ones and bestowed upon him in his lifetime all that he desired. He is the fountain-head of every grace and a person who makes any claim without acknowledging his grace, is not a man but the spawn of Satan. He has been bestowed the key to every exaltation and he has been given the treasury of every understanding. He who does not receive through him is deprived forever. I am nothing and possess nothing. I would be most ungrateful if I were not to confess that I have learnt of the true Unity of God through this Prophet. The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this Perfect Prophet and through his light. The honour of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet. The ray of this sun of guidance falls like sunshine upon us and we remain illumined only so long as we are adjusted towards it." [Haqiqatul Wahi, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 22, pp. 118-119]
"The perfect man to whom the Holy Quran was revealed, was not limited in his vision, nor was there any deficiency in his sympathy in the sharing of sorrows. Both in terms of time and place, his soul was charged with profound sympathy. He was, therefore, bestowed a full share of the manifestations of providence and he was madeKhaatamul Anbiyaa’, meaning not that no one would henceforth receive any spiritual grace from him, but that he possessed the Seal of Prophethood and that henceforth without the attestation of that seal, no grace would be bestowed on anyone and that for the Ummah, the door of converse with the Divine would never be closed. Except him, there is no Prophet who possesses the Seal of Prophethood. It is only by the testimony of his seal that a Prophethood can be bestowed for which it is a condition precedent that the recipient must be a follower of the Holy Prophet. His courage and compassion did not wish to leave his people in a condition of deficiency and were not reconciled to the door of revelation, which is at the root of all understanding, being closed. But, in order to preserve the sign of the Seal of his Prophethood, he desired that the grace of revelation should be bestowed through obedience to him and that this door should be closed to anyone who was not his follower. It was in this sense that God appointed himKhaatamal Anbiyaa’.Thus it was established till the Day of Judgment, that a person who does not prove to be his follower through true obedience and who does not devote his entire being to obeying him, cannot receive perfect revelation. Since independent Prophethood has been ended with the Holy Prophet, peace be on him; but Prophethood by way of reflection, which means the receipt of revelation through the grace of Muhammad, will continue till the Day of Judgment, so that the door of human perfection should not be closed and this sign should not disappear from the world that the high resolve of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, desired that the doors of converse with the Divine should remain open till the Judgment Day and the understanding of the Divine, which is the basis of salvation, should not disappear."[Haqiqatul Wahi, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 22, pp. 31-32]
“The real secret behind this is that the connotation ofKhaatamun Nabiyyeenrequires that, as long as there still exists a divisive screen of otherness [from the Holy Prophet], if someone is called a Nabi—while there still intervenes a divisive screen of duality—then he would amount to being one who tampers with the seal of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen. However, if someone is so completely lost in love for theKhaatamun Nabiyyeen, on account of perfect harmony and self-abnegation, he may be granted his name—and, like a crystal-clear mirror, reflects the countenance of Muhammad, then such a one will figuratively be called Nabi who has not tampered with the Seal: because he is Muhammad, albeit by way of reflection. Therefore, despite the claim to Prophethood by this person—who was named Muhammad and Ahmad, by way of reflection—our Chief, Muhammad, is really the one who still remainsKhaatamun Nabiyyeen, because this second manifestation of Muhammad is the reflection of the real Muhammad, and is only in name. On the other hand, Isa, on whom be peace, cannot come without breaking the Seal."[Ek Ghalati kaa Izaalah, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 18, pp. 207- 209]
Muslim Saints on Finality of Prophethood
There have been numerous scholars and saints of Islam who agree with the Ahmadiyya interpretation of theSeal of Prophethood.We present just a few below:
Hazrat Ayeshara, the ‘Mother of the Believers’, said:
“Certainly, do say, he [the Holy Prophet] is the Seal of all Prophets, but do not say, ‘there is no prophet after him.’”
Maulana Rumirhsays, when referring to the Holy Prophetsa :
“He has been raised to the station of Khatam by the grace of God.
There can never be his like before him or after.”
“When a master excels all others in his art, don’t you use the word ‘khatam’ to convey the idea that he has excelled all others in his domain?”— Mathnawi, vol. VI, p.8, 1917 ed.
Thus Maulana Rumirhdid not subscribe to the caricature-like interpretation of theSeal of Prophethoodby simply understanding it to mean ‘last-in-time.’ Indeed, since non-Ahmadi Muslims believe Jesusaswas alive before, during and after the Prophet Muhammadsa, it is difficult to see how they could claim he was ‘last’ in any sense of the word.
Hazrat Ibn Arabirh, the renowned mystic wrote:
"The prophethood that came to an end with the advent of the Holy Prophetsawas the law-bearing prophethood and not the institution of prophethood itself. No law can now cancel the Law of the Holy Prophetsaor add any injunction to it. This indeed is the meaning of the saying of the Holy Prophetsa, "La nabiyya ba‘di” (there will be no prophet after me). This only indicates that there shall be no such prophet who shall introduce a different Sharia. But whenever there appears a prophet, he will follow my Sharia."— Futuhat-e-Makkiyyah vol. 2, p. 3
“From the study and contemplation of the Durūd (invoking Allāh’s blessings upon the Holy Prophet) we have arrived at the definite conclusion that there shall, from among the Muslims, certainly be persons whose status, in the matter of prophethood, shall advance to the level of prophets if Allāh pleases, but they shall not be given any book of law.”— Futuhat-e-Makkiyyah, Vol. 1, p. 545
“Following the advent of Hazrat Muhammad, the Chosen One, the Seal of the Prophets(sa), the attainment of the attributes of prophethood by his followers as subordinate or by way of inheritance, will in no way conflict with his status as the Seal of the Prophets. So do not be amongst the doubters.”— Maktubat Imam Rabbani, Book 1, Maktub no. 301, vol. 5, p. 141
ḤaḍratMullā ‘Alī Qārīrhsaid:
“According to the ‘Ulamā (religious scholars), the words ‘Lā Nabiyya Ba‘dī’ (There is no Prophet after me) means that no prophet in the future shall be raised who shall abrogate his law.”— Al-Ishā’ah Fi Ashrātis-Sā‘ah, p. 226
A more complete list of scholars who have supported the Ahmadiyya position can be found in thisbooklet.
Ahmadiyya Views on Shia Islam
The 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh wrote the following summary of the Ahmadiyya perspective on Shia Islam.
“The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at loved the Holy Prophet Muhammadsaintensely and profoundly. So intense and profound was this love that by virtue of it he also loved and held in high esteem not only all the spiritual relations of the Holy Prophetsa—i.e. all true Muslims—but he loved doubly those who were, in addition, his blood relations. Regarding the family of the Holy Prophetsa, the following excerpt truly reflect the feelings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at:
"Hadrat Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) was pure himself and also had the capacity to purify others, and, no doubt, he was amongst Chosen Ones whom Allah purifies Himself and fills with His love. He was no doubt among the leaders of the inmates of Paradise... Only a stonehearted and faithless person could belittle him. Anyone who attempts to humiliate or utters a word of dishonour about him or about any other elder from among the ‘A’immah Muttahharin’ (the purified Imams), destroys his faith. Allah becomes the enemy of such a person who shows enmity towards His Chosen and Beloved ones."— Tabligh-e-Risalat, Ruhani Khaza’in vol 10 p. 103
And about his love for Imams Hassan and Hussain and the progeny of the Holy Prophetsa, the following verse speaks for itself:
"My heart and my soul are enamoured with the beauty of Muhammadsa. May my entire self be sacrificed in the path of the descendants of Muhammadsa"— Majmu‘ah Ishtiharat, vol. 1, p. 97
All the same, according to Ahmadiyya understanding of the philosophy of Islam, no one inherits righteousness or virtue from his parents in such a way that the children of the righteous automatically become righteous and the children of the wicked become wicked. The study of religious history does not support this notion. On the contrary, there is irrefutable evidence from the Holy Qur’an that Hazrat Ibrahim, one of the greatest prophets and a pinnacle of light, was born in an extremely idolatrous and ignorant family. The son of Noah, on the contrary, emerged from light and ended up in darkness. The fountain of Islam sprang up from the idolatrous Arabia. The purest form of the Unity of God sprang up from the Arabian desert which had become the breeding ground of ignorance and idolatry and the verse:
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ
"Disorder had truly encompassed both the land and the sea," (The Qur’an 30:42), was more applicable to Arabia than to anywhere else in the world. It reminds one of the universal truth expressed in the Holy Qur’an: The supreme principle which overrides every other consideration is as follows:
Only those are most honoured in the sight of God who are the most God-fearing.— Holy Qur’an, 49:14
As a logical consequence of the same principle, although Ahmadis hold in high esteem all the Imams belonging to the Shia sect, this is because of their piety and religious knowledge and not by virtue of their birth and inheritance. Last but not least, the Ahmadis do not believe in an absent Imam who is believed to be alive and in hiding for the last hundreds of years.
The Ahmadis believe that most probably that Imam came to a mysterious end, but because of the exigencies of the time it was not considered expedient by the Shia leadership to make it known to the public. For a while, he might have gone into hiding, but like all human beings he was called back by the Almighty. Therefore, waiting for the same Imam to reappear is like waiting for something which can never happen.
To help Shia brethren understand the grievousness of this error, Ahmadis politely point out that such tales about prophets or saints and other holy personages having disappeared only to return later are common everywhere in the world, in many countries and many religions. Many are believed to have either ascended to heaven, but none has ever reappeared personally anywhere in the world so far. So the Ahmadis try gently to persuade them to reconsider their views in the light of the realistic history of religions as described by the Holy Qur’an. Any supernatural phenomenon which did not happen from the time of Adam to the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsais most unlikely to occur afterwards.
The long-awaited Imam Mahdi therefore, as prophesied in the Traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) was meant to be born like all other holy personages before him like a humble human child and was destined to lead a life of humility and sacrifice like all other prophets.”
Prophecies on the Latter Days are many, and it will be impossible to do justice to all of them. A general note will be followed by a detailed explanation.
It is a common belief among the Muslims that the Messiah would descend in the Latter Days. Many Muslims believe that the Messiah will confront the Antichrist, described as a one-eyed man who will have extraordinary powers. He will apparently be able to bring people back to life from the brink of death. He would bring with him great promise of a pleasant life that would in reality be hellish, and the life he would call hellish would in fact be heavenly. He would ride a beast, a donkey, that would bear him in his travels. It would span a mile in length, and be preceded by a mountain of smoke. Great distances would for the Antichrist be as nothing. A month’s journey would be covered in a day. His travels would encompass the entire Earth. He would dive into the sea, and his donkey would swim across it with mountains of food on its back. He would travel like a cloud driven by the wind. He would spread faithlessness and materialism, and he would be a sworn enemy of belief in God.
At the same time as the Anti-Christ, there would appear Yajuj and Majuj, known in Biblical literature as Gog and Magog. These two opposing entities would be enormously powerful, sweeping in their might across the entire Earth. When they would fight, none, not even the Promised Messiah, would be able to fight their strength. When the fighting was finished, all on Earth would come across great hardship and deprivation, before a final age of prosperity.
It is in such turbulent times that the Promised Messiah would descend from God — a brown man, covered in two saffron garments, descending upon a minaret to the East of Damascus. From his head would fall water drops like silver pearls. His breath would cause the death of non-believers, and his words would reach far and wide. This Messiah would pursue the Antichrist until the Gate of Ludd and slaughter him. Then, in the midst of the turmoil created by Gog and Magog, he would seek refuge in Mount Sinai. He would then witness a plague ravaging societies and claiming countless lives. Its onslaught would be vicious, and yet it would seem to discriminate between believers and non-believers. Its arrival and departure be subject to the prayers of the Messiah. Eventually the Messiah would be victorious, and usher in a new era of peace on Earth.
This is a summary of the key features of many of the verses and ahadith (traditions) that discuss the Latter Days, primarily from those in Sahih Muslim such asthis one,and some from other collections like Kanzul Ummal. Though there are a huge number of prophecies in Islamic literature that discuss this era, we will limit ourselves to giving an explanation of these well-known aspects here. Further reading on this topic isavailable here.
It is the Ahmadiyya perspective that prophecies about the Latter Days are often couched in symbolic metaphorical language. This is because the vocabulary of bygone eras is often inadequate to literally describe later occurrences. This is why prophecies often describe things in a way that is foreign to common experience. These metaphors convey the spiritual essence of what was to come in a way that is clear for those with intelligent minds and pure hearts. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadasdescribed the need for the use of such symbolic language in his bookElucidation of Objections:
“My dear people! These are but metaphors. Those who are blessed by God with insight will realize their true significance, not only with ease, but also with some relish. Literal interpretation of such subtle and profound metaphors is like distorting beauty into monstrosity. Fine metaphorical shades are the life and spirit of eloquence. That is why the Divine Word, which is the most eloquent of all speech, employs such refined figures of speech as no human speech can ever rival. To persist in equating the pristine purity of the metaphorical original with crude and commonplace literality, regardless of context and occasion, is tantamount to reducing miracles of expression and style to dust. Such an exercise not only misses the point and purpose of the Divine Word, it also damages its subtle and delicate cadence. Instead of imposing self-made, ugly, crude and rather base meanings, which are more satirical than laudatory, the methods of exegesis that are truly graceful and pleasantly rewarding are the ones which pay due regard to the noble eloquence of the text and its superior intent and purpose. We wonder why such ugly, crude, and repulsive meanings should be preferred to the profound verities as ought to be, and indeed are, abundantly present in the Word of God? And why, for that matter, are such refined and subtle meanings not accorded due respect as are consistent with the wisdom and glory of God Almighty and His sublime and exalted speech! And why, for no reason whatsoever, are our doctors of religion so full of arrogance and allergic to Divine philosophy! Those who have devoted their lives and energy to the study of these truths will readily agree with what we have said. Indeed they will rejoice at the discovery of this truth and will communicate it to others with great delight and enthusiasm and contribute to the spiritual emancipation of mankind at large. But those who are no more than casual in their thinking and reasoning, cannot be of any use to Islam. They will only add to the already existing heap of baseless objections or create unnecessary confusion.”
Moreover, it is the Ahmadiyya perspective to always interpret the traditions in line with the Holy Qur’an. If a tradition contradicts the Holy Qur’an, then another meaning of that tradition must be found. If such an interpretation is not possible, the tradition must be discarded.
Finally, the Ahmadiyya way is to interpret future events in line with past religious history. For as Allah the Almighty himself says,
“This has been Our way with Our Messengers whom We sent before thee; and thou wilt not find any change in Our way.” — Holy Qur’an, 17:78
Warnings of the Dajjāl feature prominently in the prophecies of the Latter Days. In the traditions, the Holy Prophetsasays that there is no Prophet who has not warned his people about the Dajjāl of the Latter Days, as it will be the greatest spiritual threat mankind has ever faced.
At the same time, there seems to be no mention of the Dajjāl in the Holy Qur’an. How could this be? Why has the Qur’an not warned us about the Dajjāl if it is to be such a grave threat that there would be a Prophet raised in the Latter Days to oppose it? Rather than finding mentions of the Dajjāl, we find ample mention in the Holy Qur’an of Gog and Magog, and of the Christian creed re-emerging as a great power in the Latter Days. These phenomena all seem to be linked. For instance, while describing the Dajjāl, the Holy Prophetsaadvised Muslims to recite the opening and closing verses of Surah Al-Kahf for protection. These verses speak of nothing but Christianity, and the chapter itself ends with a description of the resurgence of the Christian people.
Moreover, in the great prayer of Surah Al-Fatiha, Muslims are warned not to take the path of ‘those who have gone astray.’ The Holy Prophetsaexplained that this path was the path of the Christians. In addition, we find numerous mentions in the traditions of the advent of a Messiah to ‘break the Cross’. This again indicates that Christianity would rise to prominence in the Latter Days.
So why does the Qur’an warn of Christianity’s rise in the Latter Days, while the traditions warn of the Dajjāl?
The answer given by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadaswas that the Dajjāl was a manifestation of Satanic forces, which would find its greatest vessel in the Christian civilisation of the Latter Days. The ideology that this civilisation would spread would be apparently divine, though in reality it would be satanic. It would drive people away from the One God to a multitude of other gods. Wrote Ahmadas :
“Dajjāl in fact is none other than the people known as Christian missionaries and European philosophers. They act like the two jaws of the Promised Dajjāl with which he devours people’s faith like a python. First it is the common and ignorant people who get caught in the wiles of the missionaries; and then, those who happen to escape their clutches being disgusted with the disgraceful and false beliefs, are caught in the net of the European philosophers. I see that the common people are more vulnerable to the lies of the clergy, whereas the intellectual ones are more susceptible to the falsehood spread by the philosophers.”
This interpretation is even further supported by the lexical meaning of the Dajjāl, which literally means ‘a party of liars.’ Thus it explains that the great ungodly civilisation of the Latter Days would be based on deceit and falsehood to an unprecedented degree. Thus in light of this we can readily understand that the fantastical nature of the Dajjāl described in the traditions in reality constitute prophecies of the Dajjāl’s nature and achievements.
First, the Dajjāl is described as a single person. Ahmadaswas given insight into this by divine intimation:
“As to the Antichrist, now listen, I will explain to you the reality on the basis of the clear and pure revelation that I have received…. Then understand, my dear ones, that it has been disclosed to me that the reference to the Antichrist as one individual is not designed to indicate his personal individuality, but his unity as a species, meaning thereby that in that species there will be a unity of ideas as is, indeed, indicated by the word dajjāl [Antichrist] itself and in this name there are many Signs for those who reflect. The meaning of the word dajjāl is a chain of deceptive ideas, the links of which are so attached to each other as if it was a structure of equal-sized bricks of the same colour, quality and strength, some of them firmly overlapping others and further strengthened by being plastered from outside.”
Dajjāl is therefore described as a single individual to signify a unity of deceptive ideas. Being blind in the right eye signifies spiritual blindness. Having a left eye that sees into the ground and brings out its treasures indicates insight into worldly sciences, affairs, and an extraction of hidden resources buried in the Earth. Carrying a sword and blood on left and right indicates the vast bloodiness of this civilisation. The differing length of days indicates the spread of this civilisation across the Earth, even to its extremities where the alteration of day and night becomes prolonged. Having the word ‘disbeliever’ on his head which both the literate and illiterate could read signifies that both through its action and words the civilisation would become an enemy of God.
Then, the Dajjāl is described as riding on a donkey, which travels like a cloud driven by wind, or eating stones and breathing fire, with the donkey itself being gargantuan, often carrying huge loads of good on its back while swimming in the oceans. It would shorten distances, travelling in a day what had previously taken months or years. These descriptions clearly describe modern forms of transport. The donkey is thus the new rapid modes of travel devised by this civilisation. They would be fire based, and hence they would be preceded by a great plumes of smoke, as was often seen on railways. They would fly high in the sky, like a cloud driven by wind. They would have ships that would be like beasts in the sea, carrying immense loads, described as mountains of food.
The traditions then mention how the Dajjāl would apparently have control over the rain and the pastures, producing food like never before. This has been literally fulfilled through the revolutionary changes in agriculture in our time. We are then told that those who obey this Dajjāl will be given a life of ease, and those who disobey it will become destitute. This has become clearly manifest in the dealing of western nations with weaker powers. The traditions then specifically mention how ‘he will pass through desert places and will call on them to forth their treasures and their treasures will follow him like bees.’ This clearly refers to the colonisation and control of the Middle East, and the extraction of countless natural resources therefrom. Then, the Dajjāl is described as being able to a cut a man in two and yet have him return to life cheerful, most likely signifying the immense advances in medicine and surgery in this age.
Thus the Ahmadiyya interpretation of the Dajjāl allows for a rational understanding of the concept, one rooted in the Qur’an and in the science of dream interpretation. It does not subscribe to the absurd idea that there is a monster hiding in the world which the Messiah will come and fight. Rather, it penetrates into the profound spiritual reality of the prophecies of the Prophet Muhammadsa.
Gog and Magog
As mentioned above, while the Qur’an does not mention the Dajjāl by name, it does refer to the Christian civilisation emerging once again, and also to Ya’juj (Gog) and Ma’juj (Magog) becoming ascendant. In the long tradition of Sahih Muslim largely paraphrased above, we are warned of the ascendance of the Dajjāl in the time of the Messiah. However, in the same hadith we are suddenly told of the chaos that Gog and Magog are spreading. Indeed, many traditions use these two labels synchronously or interchangeably. We can therefore infer that Dajjāl, and Gog and Magog refer to different aspects of the same underlying phenomenon.
To understand the true interpretation of these name, Ahmadasanalysed the words Ya’juj and Ma’juj themselves:
“Since Ajij, from which the words Gog and Magog are derived, means ‘fire’, God Almighty has disclosed to me that Gog and Magog are a people who are greater experts in the use of fire than any other people. Their very names indicate that their ships, trains and machines will be run by fire. They will fight their battles with fire. They will excel all other people in harnessing fire to their service. This is why they will be called Gog and Magog. These are the people of the West, as they are unique in their expertise in the use of fire. In Jewish scriptures too it was the people of Europe who were described as Gog and Magog. Even the name of Moscow, which is the ancient capital of Russia, is mentioned [‘Meschech’, Ezekiel 39:1]. Thus it was preordained that the Promised Messiah would appear in the time of Gog and Magog.”
“On the one hand, it is proved from the Bible that the Christians of Europe are Gog and Magog, and, on the other, the Holy Qur’an has mentioned specific signs concerning Gog and Magog which can only be applied to European powers, as, for instance, it is written that they will scale every height, i.e., they will overcome all other powers and be supreme in all worldly matters. Similarly, it is also mentioned in the Ahadith that no country will be able to stand up to them. Thus it is conclusively established that these powers are Gog and Magog. To deny this is sheer obstinacy and opposition to God’s Word. Who can deny that in accordance with the Word of God Almighty and the explanation of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), these are the people who, in their worldly power, are superior to every other people. They have no equal in the art of war and statecraft. Their inventions and machines have established new patterns, both in war and in worldly comforts and luxuries. They have brought about an amazing revolution in the culture of mankind and have displayed such mastery in statecraft and in providing equipment for war and peace, as has no parallel since the creation of the world.”
Thus while Dajjāl refers to the ideological aspects of the Latter Day Christian Civilisation, Gog and Magog refer to their political and scientific aspects. The names prophesy that the political power of this civilisation will split into two opposing factions, both wielding fire to immense use. Indeed history has borne witness to this. Western civilisation as a whole is marked by its extensive firepower, capable of productive industry and destructive weaponry on a scale previously unimaginable. It has split into two broad groups, initially emerging as the Communist and the Capitalist axes. Though communism itself has fallen, the alliances it gave birth to are alive and well, and indeed mark the key sources of tension in world politics today. According to details given by the Bible, Gog represents Russia and her allies, while USA and her allies constitute Magog. Though these nations conquered the world by firepower, the Qur’an prophecies that this fire will ultimately be their downfall.
The Descent of the Messiah
While we have already discussed this in another sections, the salient points will be repeated here.
The descent of the Messiah is not a physical descent, but a spiritual descent. As the Qur’an and the traditions clearly tell us, Jesusasdied a natural death, and his second coming signifies the arrival of a Muslim Messiah who will be like Jesusasunto the Jews.
Descending on a white minaret to the East of Damascus signifies various things about the Messiah’s arrival. A minaret is a place of shedding light, and a high station whereby one can be seen from every direction. It was on the Eastern ‘Road to Damascus’ that St. Paul claimed to have had his vision of seeing Jesusas, and thereafter introduced many falsehoods in Jesus’as name. In light of this, Ahmadasexplained that the descent on a white minaret to the East of Damascus indicated that he would fight against Christian teachings, and would do so in a time when he was able to transmit his message to every part of the world. Through so doing he would illumine his surroundings in spiritual light, as does a minaret with physical light. And as the Sun rises from the East and removes the darkness of the West, so would the Messiah enlighten the Western world from his Eastern position.
There are further details given in the traditions. It is said that this Messiah would have beads of water dripping from his head. Moreover, he would be clothed in two yellow garments. Hazrat Ahmadasexplained that having beads of water dripping indicated his constant prayer to his Lord, for the Prophet Muhammadsais reported to have said that the Islamic prayer (salat) is the spiritual equivalent of bathing, such is the purification of the soul it engenders. The wearing of two yellow garments indicates having two sicknesses. It cannot be literal, for the Prophet Muhammadsaforbade his followers from wearing yellow as it was the colour associated with the disbelievers. However, in the interpretation of dreams, yellow means illness. The tradition therefore indicates that the Messiah will suffer from two sicknesses — one of the upper body, and another of the lower body. This was fulfilled in the person of Hazrat Ahmadas , who since the time of his claim as the Promised Messiah, suffered from migraines and diabetes. While the migraines would cause him headaches and dizziness, he reported that his diabetes would make him pass water up to twenty times a day.
Breath of the Messiah
The traditions state that the breath of the Messiah would kill non-believers, and that his breath would reach as far as he looked. Hazrat Ahmadasexplained that this again was not literal, but referred to the signs of punishment that arrive with a Prophet:
“Remember, it was necessary for a large number of people to die at the time of the Messiah and it was also destined that plagues and earthquakes should strike. This is the meaning of the Hadith wherein it is written that people would perish with the breath of the Messiah, and his killing breath would work as far as his eyes would see. It is wrong to infer from this hadith that the Messiah would be a witch that would remove people’s hearts just by looking at them. What it really means is that wherever his pure breath–i.e. his teachings–would spread in the world, people would deny him, reject him, and abuse him; so much so, that their rejection shall become a cause of chastisement for them. This hadith indicates that the Promised Messiahaswill be vehemently opposed, with the result that a great many people shall die in the land, the most severe earthquakes shall take place and peace shall disappear altogether. It would otherwise be irrational to think that pious and righteous people should be subjected to various punishments without any reason. This is the reason why, even in the past, ignorant people have considered prophets (may the Peace and blessings of Allah be upon them) to be bearers of misfortune and have blamed them for what were actually the consequences of their own misdeeds. The fact, however, is that it is not the prophet who brings punishment; rather it is the fact that people have become deserving of punishment that brings a prophet as a final warning and produces the necessity for his advent. Severe punishment never takes place without the advent of a prophet, as God says in the Holy Quran:
“We do not punish a people until a prophet has been sent to them.”— Holy Qur’an, 17:16
Why then is it that the epidemic of the plague is devouring the country on the one hand, and terrifying earthquakes are giving no respite on the other? O heedless ones, look around!”
It is no secret that Hazrat Ahmad’sasera has been an era of immense upheaval in the world. He prophesied the arrival of the Third Plague Pandemic in British India and said that his followers would be saved from it. He prophesied many earthquakes which ravaged his land, and prophesied one great earthquake which would encompass the entire Earth in its magnitude. Thus was in fact the First World War, as will be explored in a later section.
Gate of Ludd
It is said that the Messiah will pursue the Antichrist until the Gate of Ludd and vanquish him there. To understand this, we need to look into the word Ludd. A derivation of the word Ladda is used in the Holy Qur’an:
“So We have made it (the Qur’an) easy in thy tongue that thou mayest give thereby good tidings to the righteous, and warn thereby a people given to contention.”— Holy Qur’an, 19:98
In a commentary of this verse constituted of the notes of Hazrat Mirza Bashirrudin Mahmud Ahmadra, we read:
“الد (most contentious) is derived from لد (ladda). They say لده meaning, he contended or quarrelled with him vehemently. So الد which is the noun of pre-eminence from it, means, one who is a great quarreller. The plural of الد is لد (Aqrab)
Thus the word means argumentation. It therefore indicates that the Messiah would use the weapon of argumentation to fight against the Dajjāl, rather than using physical means. This he did, publishing scores of books and lecturing throughout India.
Moreover the place of Ludhiana has a special significance in this regard too. This town was the place where the Promised Messiahastook his first initiates into the community. It was also the centre of Christian publication in British India. Not only this, but the town of Amristar, which is one of its Ludhiana’s closest towns, was the site of theHoly War debateof 1893 between Ahmadasand Abdullah Atham, a famous Christian missionary. This town being on the road to Ludhiana means it can can be referred to as the ‘Gate’ of Ludhiana.
Finally, the Promised Messiah’s 2nd Khalifara came to Ludgate Hill in the UK, outside of which he led prayers. Soon after he delivered a grand speech at the Conference of World Religions where he spoke on the beauties of Islam in the heart of the Christian empire. This speech, published asAhmadiyyat or the True Islam,was renowned as being unparalleled in its quality and erudition.
From here, the traditions speak of the Messiah rescuing a people whom the Dajjāl had not influenced, i.e.: those pure souls that became his companions. They would seek refuge in the teachings of Islam, while the civilisation around them makes further progress. As more signs of various punishments are fulfilled, the Messiah’s community make progress by stages, eventually ushering in a new time of peace and prosperity on Earth.
Signs of Truth
We have shown so far that Hazrat Ahmad’sasinterpretation of scripture is blessed with divine insight, according both with common reason and religious acumen. However, Ahmadasdid not rest at showing that Jesusashad passed away, that the second coming of the Messiah was spiritual and not literal, that the Imam Mahdi is the Promised Messiah, that the Mahdi would be a Follower-Prophet of Muhammadsa, that the Dajjāl and Gog and Magog signify various aspects of modern Christian civilisation, and that our current times is the era of religious revival. Rather these were all preliminaries that foreshadowed his claim of being the Promised Messiah.
As Messiah, he described his mission thus:
“The actual mission for which God has appointed me is to remove the estrangement that has come between man and his Creator and re-establish a relationship of love and sincerity between him and his Lord. He has also appointed me to put a stop to religious wars by proclaiming the truth, to create religious harmony, to reveal the religious truths that have long remained hidden from mortal eyes, and to display the true spirituality that lies submerged under the darkness of selfish passions. I have also been sent to demonstrate practically, and not just in words, how Divine powers enter man and how they are manifested through prayer and concentration. But, first and foremost, I have been sent to re-establish forever the lost belief in the Unity of God — Tauhid — which is pure and luminous and unadulterated by any form of idolatry — Shirk. All this will not come about by my power, but by the Mighty hand of the Lord of heaven and earth.”
His mission was grand, and he invited seekers of truth to join him in his Ark, constructed to save the world from the deluge of godlessness and materialism in which all are drowning. He did not forward his claim emptily. Rather he proclaimed that heaven and earth had testified to his truth. Though a description of his signs runs into volumes, brief summaries will be provided below.
Need of the Time
First and foremost, Ahmadaspointed to the divine law that when mankind was in need of guidance, God would always send a Prophet to lead them out of a state of heedlessness into spiritual bliss:
“The earth has been enveloped by darkness and the time has now come when God will either bring light into the world or destroy it altogether. But the world still has a thousand years to survive, and all the new innovations that have been made for worldly comfort and well-being clearly show that God desires to bring about a spiritual reformation parallel to the physical revolution. The truth is that man’s spiritual condition has deteriorated far more than his physical one, and mankind is in danger of coming under Divine wrath. Every sin is at its peak, spiritual powers are growing weaker and weaker, and the light of faith is fading out. Reason, therefore, demands that a light must come from heaven to overcome this darkness. Just as physical darkness is only dispelled by heavenly light, similarly, the light that illuminates the hearts also descends from heaven. Ever since God created man, He has ordained that, to unite mankind, He shall bestow the light of His awareness upon one of them at every time of need, and shall speak to him, and make him drink the cup of His love, and show him His chosen path, and grant him the eagerness to invite others towards the light, love and insight that has been given to him, so that they, too, may become part of him, and guard themselves against sin, and share his awareness, and attain the heights of piety and purity. In accordance with this time-honoured law, God has already foretold through His Prophets that, at the end of the sixth millennium after Adam — when a great darkness would envelope the earth, and the deluge of sin would inundate the land, and hearts would become devoid of love for God — He will breathe into a man the spirit of truth and love and awareness, just like in the case of Adam, without resorting to any physical means. And this man will also be called the Messiah because God shall Himself anoint his soul with His love. This Messiah, whom the scriptures also call the Promised Messiah, shall be made to stand up against Satan, and the final battle between the legions of Satan and the Messiah shall ensue. For this spiritual battle, Satan will come prepared with all his powers and all his progeny and all his resources. Never will the world have seen such a fierce clash between good and evil, for on that day the Satanic schemes and devices shall be at their deadliest, and all possible means for misleading mankind shall be at Satan’s disposal. Then, after a great fight — which, you must remember, will be a spiritual one — God’s Messiah shall emerge victorious, and Satanic forces shall be annihilated. Thereafter, for a thousand years, which have been described as the ‘seventh day’, God’s majesty, glory, holiness and oneness shall prevail upon the earth. And this shall be followed by the end of the world.
Let it be known that I am that Messiah. Let him who will, accept me.”—Lecture Lahore
The Ascendancy of the Cross
We have already discussed at length the prophecies regarding this age, recorded in the Qur’an and the traditions. These are shining testimonies of the truth of the Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas , for they testify clearly to our age. The appearance of the Dajjāl, Gog and Magog, and the fulfilment of various other prophecies are clear signs of Ahmad’s truth, for he was the only claimant to the position of Messiah who claimed them for himself. If these were signs, as they so evidently are, then for whom else have they appeared?
We will focus on one aspect of these various signs now. The ascendancy of Christianity was foretold as being a witness to the age of the Promised Messiah, who would come and ‘break the Cross.’ In the 19th century the Christian world had its eyes set on Mecca and Medina, proclaiming they will soon have the entire Muslim world converted. Indeed they were making spectacular gains across the world, most notably British India and Africa. They would point to the widespread Muslim belief that Jesusaswas alive in heaven while the Prophet Muhammadsawas buried in the ground. Through various attacks on Islam such as these, they had made huge in-roads in converting the Muslim population of India.
It was at this time that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad emerged, defending Islam from all such attacks with his Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya books published largely in the 1880’s. Then, under divine instruction he formed the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which became a living testimony of the truth of Islam. Ahmad’s defence against Christianity was only just beginning. He claimed that God had revealed to him that Jesusas, Son of Mary, had passed away. Indeed, with much research he established conclusively that the first Messiah was buried in Srinigar, Kashmir, as described inJesus in India.Indeed, even those who did not follow him lauded him for his defence against Christianity. In the outlet Siyasat, Maulana Sayyed Habib wrote for Ahmad’sasobituary:
“At the time the Aryas and the Christian priests were launching unrelenting attacks against Islam, whatever few religious scholars existed they were sporadically engaged in defending the integrity of the Islamic Shariah, but none achieved any mentionable measure of success. Then Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib entered the arena, and he resolutely positioned himself as the shield of Islam against the Christian padres and Arya preachers… I would mince no words in saying that Mirza Sahib performed this duty with great capability and dexterity, and defanged the opponents of Islam.”
The famed educator and statesman, Maulana Abdul Azad, wrote in his obituary in the Wakeel Newspaper:
“The literature produced by Mirza Sahib during his confrontation with the Christians and the Aryas bears the seal of popular acclaim — and he needs no introduction in this speciality. We have to heartily acknowledge the value and greatness of that body of literature, now that it has accomplished its task... It not only blew to pieces the initial influence secured by Christianity—which was due to the tutelage of the British Government and was, in fact, its mainstay—causing hundreds of thousands of Muslims to escape its much more dangerous and likely-to-succeed attack, but even the magic of Christianity itself started to blow up in smoke…
In short, this service by Mirza Sahib will keep future generations weighed down under debt for having led from the front those engaged in Jihad by the Pen and for having performed the duty of defending Islam and leaving such a vast body of literature that as long as blood courses in the veins of the Muslims, and the defence of Islam remains the hallmark of their national character, this literature will endure."
Ahmad’sasinfluence would not remain confined to his lifetime. Indeed that was just the beginning. The mission has become international in its scope, with intensive missionary activity in Africa especially defending against Christian efforts. This worldwide activity has not gone unnoticed. The Christian missionary movement of the Seventh Day Adventists testified to the fame of Ahmadis in their Ministry Magazine ofApril 1967:
“No one working in the larger centers of Moslem population can long avoid meet¬ing the Ahmadi missionaries. Wherever a Christian evangelist begins a work of pub¬lic missionary effort, one of these persistent emissaries of Ahmadiyat is sure soon to show up. His presence can be embarrass¬ing if the evangelist is unacquainted with the methods of the Ahmadis.
Appearing to be the spokesman for the Moslems present, the Ahmadi evangelist will do his best to pose logical dilemmas that the tactful Christian would rather meet in private, and his attempt to side¬step the interruption in a public confronta¬tion is turned frequently to mean an in¬ability to answer the questions posed, and is meant to imply thereby the spiritual in¬feriority of Christianity...
Let me not imply that the Ahmadi is basically dishonest in his efforts. He is a man of very strong convictions, sincere earnestness, and often in private he pos¬sesses a gentleness and thoughtful courtesy that many a Christian would do well to emulate. He is faithful in the practice of his beliefs to an extent that would put many an Adventist to shame…
The great advances of Islam in certain areas of earth today, as opposed to the spread of Christianity, are for the most part the work of Ahmadiyat, or stimulated by Ahmadis."
In the last fifty years, the activity has only strengthened. In Africa, the community has a population in the millions, with a wide network of radio channels, and now a Satellite Television station — MTA Africa. It continues in force around the rest of the world too.
Ahmadassaid that not only would his arguments serve as a great bulwark against Christian advances, but that his prayers alone would also serve this cause. He stated that from his time onwards, Christianity would gradually weaken until it become an insignificant force in the world. At the time, this was outrageously bold, for Christianity was spreading fast across the world, and its patron, the British Empire, was at its zenith. The 20th century has borne witness to how Christianity has somehow ebbed away, with each successive generation detaching themselves ever more from what remains of the Church’s influence.
Mastery over Arabic
Ahmad proclaimed four specific signs of truth in his bookThe Need for the Imam.The first was his mastery over the Arabic language:
“I have been given the sign of eloquence and mastery in Arabic, as a reflection of the Quranic miracle of eloquence, and no one can challenge me on this.”
Expounding on this, Hazrat Mirza Bashirrudin Mahmud Ahmadra wrote inInvitation to Ahmadiyyat:
“When he announced his claim and turned to the work of reform, his critics first attacked his lack of learning. They described him as a Munshi, that is to say, a half-educated scribe. He was literate; so he was able to write. Some of his writings had attracted attention; so he had come to have a reputation. He was no scholar, knew no Arabic, and did not have the qualifications to pronounce on religious matters. This criticism was raised in every conversation and in every hostile writing. A wall of prejudice was erected against him. It was untrue to say that he knew no Arabic, however. He had read the standard books. But he had certainly not had the benefit of instruction from any great scholar. He had earned no testimonial after study at an old school. He was not one of the leadingUlemaof the country, nor was he a Maulvi of any status. When this criticism spread far and wide and the Mullas started trumpeting it in and out of season, God granted him special knowledge of the Arabic language. According to him, God endowed him with a vocabulary of 40,000 words in a single night. He was granted miraculous competence in the Arabic language; he was commanded to write Arabic books and promised special help.
His first attempt in Arabic prose was a chapter he appended to his book Aina-i-Kamalat-i-Islam. This chapter contained a challenge to those who found fault with his lack of Arabic. He asked critics to produce something better. Nobody accepted the challenge. He then wrote book after book in Arabic. The number of his Arabic works amounts to more than twenty. Some of these were accompanied by offers of rewards amounting in some cases to Rs 10,000. (These cash rewards can still be won by anyone who produces something which equals them in beauty and power of language.) Nobody took up the challenge; nobody produced anything in reply. Some of his Arabic books were written as a challenge to Arabs. Even they failed to write in reply, and withdrew from the field. One of his books was addressed to Syed Rashid Riza, the well-known editor of Al-Manar. The Syed was invited to write in reply, but he did not. Other Arabs were similarly invited, and they did not.
Maulvis in the Indian sub-continent showed they were beaten when they said that the Arabic works said to have been written by Hazrat Mirza Sahib had really been written by an Arab who worked for him in secret. This criticism made it quite clear that the standard of his Arabic works was really very high; but his critics thought they were written for him by someone else. Hazrat Mirza Sahib met the criticism by suggesting that his adversaries could have the help of as many Arab and Syrian writers as they liked. Repeated efforts were made to attract them to this literary contest but nobody came forward. These Arabic works are still without a reply…
Besides these Arabic works, he produced an unpremeditated sermon in Arabic. He was commanded in a revelation to make the attempt, even though he had never before made a public speech in Arabic. The Id-ul-Azhia (the festival of sacrifice) was due the following day. In obedience to the revelation he delivered a lengthy sermon in Arabic after the Id prayers. This sermon was later published under the title Khutba-i-Ilhamiya(‘A Sermon Revealed’).This sermon is couched in Arabic of a high order. It impresses Arab and non-Arab writers and contains an exposition which enhances the merit of the literary production.
This intellectual feat is one of his most outstanding miracles. Some miracles make a great impression, but only on their immediate witnesses. Others produce an impression which lives long afterwards. This intellectual miracle is of the latter kind. The authenticity of this miracle has been admitted even by his enemies. This miracle imitates the miracle of the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran remains unparalleled as a literary composition. So will the Arabic works of the Promised Messiah. This sign of his authenticity will remain resplendent for ever.”
Ahmad’sasprowess in Arabic is still a great sign of his truth to the today. Acceptance of him is a modern-day phenomenon in the Arab world, thanks in no small part to the Arabic Television channel, MTA 3. The Arabic website of the community can be foundhere.
Commentary of the Holy Qur’an
The second specific sign Ahmadasclaimed was his insight into the Holy Qur’an’s verities.
“I have been given the sign of expressing the truths and verities of the Holy Quran, and no one can challenge me on this.”
This is something that must be experienced to be appreciated. One can gain a sample of this by reading his commentary on Surah Al-Fatiha on this website. Otherwise, one can read the testimony of those who did not follow him, but could not help proclaiming the unparalleled power of his pen. For instance, Mirza Hairet Dehlvi wrote in the Delhi’s Curzon Gazette:
“His forceful literature is unique in its majesty, there is no doubt that by reading some of his writings one is thrilled in raptures of ecstasy.”
An opponent of his, Maulana Sayyed Habib wrote in his Siyasat obituary:
“Some of his writings about Islam are matchless."
In the outlet Saadiq-Ul-Akhbar it was written:
“Through his forceful declamation and splendid writings, Mirza Sahib has delivered a coup de grace to the lecherous objections raised by the opponents of Islam, and has silenced them forever. He has demonstrated that the truth is, after all, the truth. And there is no doubt that Mirza Sahib left no stone unturned in the service of Islam by himself being the paragon in the defence of Islam. Justice demands that we must mourn the sudden and untimely death of such a stalwart Defender of Islam and a helper of the Muslims, who was a scintillation of erudition—an irreplaceable scholar.”
A particularly good book to sample Ahmad’s work is in his famousPhilosophy of the Teachings of Islam.
Acceptance of Prayer
The third specific sign given by Ahmad was the acceptance of his prayers throughout his life:
“I have been given plentiful signs of the acceptance of prayers, and no one can challenge me on this. I can affirm on oath that nearly thirty thousand of my prayers have been accepted, and of which I have proof.”
This was no boast, but recorded history. Since his coming to prominence, he recorded many revelations and public prayers in his published works. They serve as a written record of his prayers and wishes, for anyone to research. Ahmadasbecame famous for his prayer duels with those who persisted in attacking Islam, or claimed divine office for themselves. Each time, he emerged in humble victory. He prayed for the sign from the Heavens and was given the sign of the solar and lunar eclipse. From the Earth, the plague arose, from which his household and followers were protected. These will be explored below, while an analysis of two of Ahmad’sasmost famous prayer-duels can be foundhere.
Knowledge of the Unseen
The fourth sign Ahmadasclaimed was his knowledge of the unseen:
“I have been vouchsafed the sign of the knowledge of the unseen, and no one can challenge me on this.”
For students of history, this is a claim of Ahmadasthat needs little introduction. His prophecies, in the tradition of the Prophets of old, became famous. Be it the prophecy of his revolutionary son, the death of the Hindu leader Lekh Ram, the prophecy of the Plague’s arrival in Northern India, or the detailed prophecy of World War I, Ahmad’sasknowledge of future events was a key factor in his continued success throughout his mission. He received news of the unseen from an early age.
As early as 1882, at a time when he was in complete obscurity, barely known to those in his village, he published revelations from God indicating that he would become a great leader of Islam, that the road to his village would become worn down with travellers, and that he would receive so many guests his household would find them tiring:
“I am with you; so be with Me wherever you might be. Be with Allah wherever you are. In whatever direction you turn there will be the countenance of Allah. You are the best people who have been raised for the benefit of mankind and as a pride for the believers. Despair not of the mercy of Allah.Hearken, indeed the mercy of Allah is near. Hearken, the help of Allah is near. Help will come to you by every distant track. People will come to you so that the track will become deep due to excessive travel.So many people will come to you that the track on which they travel will become deep. Allah will help you from Himself. Such people will help you whom We shall inspire from Ourself. No one can change the words of Allah…
Remember that a time is coming when people will come to you in large numbers. It is incumbent upon you not to be arrogant towards them and you must not get tired of receiving them in large numbers. There will be people who will migrate from their homes to dwell in your quarters.They are Ashabus-Suffah [People of the bench] in the eyes of Allah. Do you realize how magnificent in status the Ashabus-Suffah will be? They will be very strong of faith. You will see their eyes shedding tears; they will call down blessings on you. They will supplicate: ‘Our Lord we have heard a Caller, calling people to the faith and a Summoner to Allah and a refulgent lamp. So we have believed.’
Write down all these prophecies for they will be fulfilled in due time.”— Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya,Vol III(emphasis added)
This from a man shunned even by his own family, and without scarcely follower to his name. And yet these things came to pass.
Not only did he prophesy success in his own life, by the end of which he had hundreds of thousands of followers to his name, he also proclaimed that over the course of three centuries his community would grow and grow until it would become ascendant in the world.
The English writer and former foreign correspondent Iain Adamson described the fulfilment of his prophecies thus:
“There is certainly no doubt that what Ahmad prophesied about the growth of Ahmadiyyat came to pass. In 1989, on the centenary of his acceptance of the first oath of allegiance, the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was established in 128 countries.”—Ahmad the Guided One, pg. 159
A summary of Ahmad’sasmost notable prophecies is recorded in Chapter 10 ofInvitation to Ahmadiyyat.
Both the Holy Qur’an, the sayings of the Holy Prophetsaand the Bible prophesy that at the time of the Second Messiah, the Earth will be swept in plagues and pestilence. The plague specifically is mentioned, of which there had already been two pandemics. The first was around the advent of the Holy Prophetsain the 6th and 7th century, and the second in the 14th century. The third broke out in China in 1894, and over the next few decades would claim the lives of 12 million people, 10 million of them in India.
By 1896, the plague had entered into India via port cities like Bombay, and for the next few years was relatively restricted to this area. During these years, Ahmadasreceived intimations of a widespread plague erupting in India. At the time however, it was felt that there would be no major outbreak, and certainly not in Northern parts of India, hundreds of miles away from port cities.
In February 1898, Ahmadasdeclared the following:
“I am constrained to write about an important matter and this owing only to overwhelming sympathy. I know that those devoid of spiritual feelings will tend to ridicule my statement. Nevertheless, out of sympathy for them, it is my duty to warn people. The warning is this. Today, February 6, 1898, Monday, I saw in a dream that angels of God were planting black seedlings in different parts of the Punjab. The seedlings are ugly dangerous looking, black and stunted. I asked some of the angels about them. I was told that they were the seedlings of plague which was about to spread in the country. It did not become quite clear to me whether this was to be next winter or the winter after the next. But the scene and the experience were full of terror. I am reminded also of a revelation of mine about the plague. It said, ‘Verily Allah does not change the lot of a people unless they first change their hearts.’ It seems that the plague will not disappear unless extreme sin and transgression disappear first.”
What happened next is described well by Mirza Bashirrudin Mahmud Ahmadra:
“The plague started in Bombay as though its worst effects were to be there, but Bombay recovered and the Punjab became its centre. So deadly and so widespread was it that the death-rate rose to thirty thousand per week and several hundred thousand died in a year. Hundreds of doctors were appointed. Many different kinds of treatment were invented. But to no avail. Every year the plague flared up with added virulence. The Government authorities looked on helplessly. A general feeling arose that this was the consequence of denying the Promised Messiah. Then several hundred thousand persons believed. The epidemic continued to rage until the Promised Messiah was told by God that the plague was over, only fever remained. After this declaration the plague began to decline steadily.”
Not only this, but Ahmadasdeclared that those who were in his household, and those who were truly his followers would not be affected by the Plague. This was a remarkable claim that he made year after year. Even though he lived in the Punjab, even though his town of Qadian was indeed affected, and even though his household had over 75 people coming and going, neither he nor any of his family or companions contracted the Plague. This, despite the fact that Ahmadashad instructed his faithful followers to not get inoculated so as to manifest the grandeur of this sign.
What false Prophet would ever prophesy his and his followers’ protection from a raging pandemic, year after year, and then strenuously avoid Earthly protection from it? Why did neither God nor fate falsify his claim? One answer should be considered carefully — that Ahmadaswas true in his claim.
The Double Eclipse in Ramadan
The next sign ranks among the most famous and powerful in Ahmad’sassupport. It is the solar and lunar eclipses occurring on specific dates in the month of Ramadan, as prophesied by the Prophet Muhammadsa, supported by the Qur’an, and alluded to by Jesusas.
In 1894, Ahmadas , stricken with grief at the widespread opposition his claim had brought, published the following prayer:
“Judge between us and our people with justice for Thou are the Best of those who judge. O God! Please send thy succour for me from the heavens and help Thy servant in this time of adversity.”
It is not known whether Ahmadashad any particular sign in mind, though we do know that his critics lambasted him for not having the sign of the double eclipse manifested in his favour. This sign was foretold by the Prophet Muhammadsa, and recorded in Dar Qutni:
“For Our Mahdi there are two Signs which have never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth, namely, the moon will be eclipsed on the first night in Ramadan and the sun will be eclipsed on the middle of it (the same month), and these Signs have not appeared since God created the heavens and the earth.”
In 1894, and again in 1895, this sign was fulfilled in an extraordinary manner. In the Ramadan of these years,the moon was eclipsed on the first night of the three nights that it is possible to undergo an eclipse. Then, the sun was eclipsed on the second of the three days it is susceptible to an eclipse. Not only this, but the entire sign was repeated the following year in the western hemisphere in Ramadan. That the eclipses happened on the three days possible for each type of eclipse is the only possible interpretation of ‘first’ and ‘middle’, according to both cosmology and the Arabic terminology used.
Thus this powerful prophecy was fulfilled in a startling manner. Such a sign is truly beyond the control of man. Could Ahmadashave known the precise dates of the eclipses before he made his claim many years earlier? Could he have controlled the sun and the moon to make this rare double eclipse in Ramadan, twice, during his brief lifetime? The answer to both is of course no and therefore lends powerful testimony to the claim of this Promised Messiah. He wrote about its grandeur in the following words:
“I swear by God in Whose Hand is my life that He has manifested this sign in the sky to testify my truthfulness, and He manifested it at a time when the Maulvis (theologians) named me the Dajjāl, the greatest liar, infidel and even the greatest infidel. This is the same sign regarding which twenty years ago I was promised in Braheen- e-Ahmadiyya, namely: ‘Tell them I have with me testimony from Allah, will you then believe? Tell them I have with me testimony from Allah, will you then accept?’ It should be remembered that although there are many proofs from Almighty God for vindicating my truthfulness and more than a hundred prophecies have been fulfilled to which hundreds of thousands of people are witnesses, but in this revelation, this prophecy has been mentioned specifically. I have been given such a sign which was not given to anybody else from the time of Adam to the present time. In short I can stand in the sacred precincts of the Ka’abah and swear that this sign is for testifying to my truth.”
A fuller discussion of this sign can be found inthis study.
Prophecy of World War I
The Holy Prophetsaproclaimed that the Messiah would receive an abundance of revelation from God, and as a Prophet, would warn of calamities yet unseen.
In April of 1905, Ahmadaspublished the following news:
“About 3 a.m. I received holy revelation from Allah the Almighty, which is given below:
‘[…] A calamity (lit. earthquake) resembling Doomsday. Save your lives. Indeed, Allah is with the pious. My Grace has drawn close to you. Truth has come and falsehood has vanished.’”
He wrote that this sign would not be any ordinary sign, but would be utterly extraordinary in its scope. It would be a global calamity, the like of which had never been seen before. It would serve as a punishment for a world embroiled in sin, one lost in a spiritual slumber. Over the following days and weeks he received more details, publishing a famous poem with multiple prophecies. It read:
“A Sign will appear some time from now (today is April 15, 1905) which shall overwhelm villages, towns and meadows.
The wrath of God will bring a revolution in the world; the naked one will have no time to fasten his trousers .
Suddenly a calamity (zalzalah lit. earthquake) will severely shake them all—be they humans, trees, rocks, or oceans.
In the twinkling of an eye the land will be turned upside down and streams of blood will flow like the water of a rivulet.
Those whose night garments were white as jasmine will be in the morning [as if clad in red] like the Sycamore tree.
Men shall lose their senses and birds their consciousness and nightingales and pigeons will forget their songs.
That hour will bear heavily upon every traveller and wayfarers will lose their way in confusion and deliriousness.
With the blood of the dead, the running waters of highland streams will turn red like Bistort syrup.
The terror of it will exhaust all, great and small, and even the Tsar at that hour, will be in a pitiable state.
That Divine Sign will be a specimen of terror. The sky will attack with a drawn sword.
Hasten not to repudiate this, thou undiscerning fool, for my truthfulness depends entirely on the fulfilment of this Sign.
This is a prophecy based on Divine revelation and will surely be fulfilled; wait then awhile in righteousness and steadfastness.”
He also received various other revelations, indicating that the calamity would open useful avenues for the Arabs, would benefit the future state of Israel, would feature naval warfare would feature multiple armies, among other predictions.
Taken together, the prophecy is unique. It foretells a global calamity turning the world upside down, both literally and figuratively. It foretells immense loss of life, of a kind unseen before. It foretells that this global calamity would start suddenly and would become overwhelming; it would feature both naval and air warfare; it would make men mad and would affect even bird life; it would cause immense hardship for anyone travelling in the world; it would affect every stratum of society, and most significantly, would even disgrace the mighty Czar of Russia.
Not only this, but Ahmadasindicated that this sign would occur very soon, though after his death.
Finally, he said that this would act as a premier sign of his truth, and that his entire claim could be judged on the fulfilment of this sign alone.
What happened to the world between 1914 and 1918 is no secret. Suddenly, the world was overtaken by a geopolitical earthquake. With the unexpected assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the great powers found themselves locked in war with each other. It was a war like no other. Blood was shed on an unprecedented scale. Trenches were dug on battle lines turning the Earth upside down. Air warfare became prominent for the first time. Ships duelled with each other for ascendance. Men became mad with shell-shock, and birds were deafened by the shelling.
Most shockingly, the Czar of Russia, who was the richest man alive during his lifetime, and who held a sixth of the world’s surface under his sway, met a pitiable end. By the end of the war he had been dethroned, disgraced, and was killed alongside his family by a firing squad of Bolshevik revolutionaries. He was then buried in an unmarked grave, after having been doused in acid to dissolve his features.
Commenting on this awful end, Hazrat Mirza Bashirrudin Mahmud Ahmadra wrote:
“A recital of his sufferings makes one’s hair stand on end and causes one’s heart to weep for him, but at the same time, one’s faith in the Omniscient God is also enhanced when one sees how He had revealed these things twelve years prior to their occurrence, at a time when nobody could even imagine that they could come to pass.”
Once again Ahmad’s prophecies were fulfilled, and once again his critics were silenced.
We have only been able to survey a few highlights from the signs of the Promised Messiahas, and those briefly. We exhort seekers of truth to explore Hazrat Ahmad’sasclaim in greater detail, and leave you with the words of his son and 2nd Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Bashirrudin Mahmud Ahmadra:
“[T]he Holy Prophet laid down a large number of signs for the identification of the time of the Promised Messiah. Some of these signs are significant and important, even taken singly. But the Holy Prophet intended that they should be taken collectively and treated as a total picture of the time of the Promised Messiah. When so many signs appear together, they must constitute a time of great importance. With such a comprehensive picture nobody can have any difficulty in identifying the appointed time when it comes.
There is no doubt that we have had plagues in the past, also earthquakes, also an excess of gambling. No doubt people became degraded from time to time, even in the past. Also Christian nations have had their great days, their political power. But the question is, have all these signs, which the Holy Prophet said are the signs of the Promised Messiah, occurred together in the past, or are they likely to occur together in the future? The answer is no. Such a large variety of signs cannot come together again and again. Let us imagine a person who does not know the different conditions, social, moral, religious, etc., which obtain in the world at the present time. Let us narrate to such a person the signs of the time of the Promised Messiah as narrated by the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace). Then let us ask him to study the history of the world and tell us at what time in history the Promised Messiah could have come. This imaginary person will study the time of Adam, then the time of the next prophet, then the time of the next, and so on. None of these times will he identify as the time of the Promised Messiah. But as soon as he reaches our time and begins to read about the signs and conditions that obtain today, he will declare that if the Holy Prophet was a true prophet, if he really did prophesy what he is said to have prophesied, then the present and no other is the time of the Promised Messiah. Our imaginary person will note the indifference to religion which is so evident. He will see the great advance which natural sciences have made. He will see how very weak Muslim states have become after their days of power. He will see Christianity stepping forward to progress after recovering from its earlier decline. He will see Christian nations in possession of the greater part of the wealth of the world. He will see other nations reduced to poverty. He will also see plague and influenza wreaking havoc in the world, the progress of medicine and science notwith- standing. He will see that the great discovery of the time is that disease is caused by bacteria. He will also see a great many old superstitions and customs cramping the intelligence of mankind. He will see the railway and the steamer and an abundance of banks.
He will observe the frequency of earthquakes, the advent of Gog and Magog and their dominion over the whole world. He will note the lunar and the solar eclipses. He will see the increase of wealth. He will also see the labouring classes come up and become rulers ill the world. In short, a description of contemporary conditions will Convince him that the present is the time for the coming of the Muslim Messiah. Our imaginary observer will not observe the signs singly but as a total picture. As soon as he has gone over the scene, he Will find himself trembling, his heart full. He will close the book of signs, lay it aside, and declare that his search is over that further pursuit of the subject is futile. According to the signs the Promised Messiah has already come. If he has not come by now he will not come at all.”