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December 12th, 2010

Questions for Akbar Chaudhry on Iqbal

As I said in a comment yesterday, I can, on this blog, raise certain questions on Mr Akbar Chaudhry’s talk about Iqbal. He can then appear on this TV channel, and read out my points and respond.

I have indicated the time in the programme at which his statements occur. There are 10 points I have made, whose numbering is in bold below.

Programme 1 (length 8.24)

1. You begin by saying that Iqbal slowly turned away from Ahmadiyyat as did other Muslim leaders like Maulvi Muhammad Husain Batalvi.


M.H. Batalvi declared Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as kafir in 1891 when Iqbal was 14 years old. Iqbal grew up in the atmosphere in which Ulama had declared Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as kafir. So how did he come to have “husn-i zann” (good opinion) of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in such a period (from about 1897 to at least 1910, as you admit)?

2. (1 minute): You say rightly that Iqbal wrote in 1935 that a quarter of a century ago he had good expectations from the Ahmadiyya movement.


(a) As Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad died in 1908, does it mean that Iqbal’s good expectations continued all the time that Hazrat Mirza sahib was alive, and did not change till two years after Hazrat Mirza sahib’s death.

(b) Is it true that during this period of good expectations Iqbal wrote in English that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian is “probably the profoundest theologian among modern Indian Muslims”,

and that he said in a published speech in Urdu that the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is: “Islami seerat ka thaith namoona” (a true example of Islamic life)?

3. (1.40 – 1.57 minutes). In speaking of the split between Lahoris and Qadianis, you state that Qadianis changed their beliefs at the split, and that both the parties changed their beliefs and went to opposite extremes. At 7.44 minutes you repeat that Qadianis changed their beliefs in 1914.


(a) Please tell us what were the beliefs of the Qadianis before 1914 which changed in 1914.

(b) Your supporters have argued with me (Zahid Aziz) from time to time that the Qadiani beliefs correctly represent the original teachings of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. If their beliefs changed in 1914, how can they be correctly representing his original teachings?

4. (2.18 minutes) You say that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad praised Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at his death.


(a) In your opinion, was this praise very high, medium, or merely a formality of praising a dead person? Was the praise lengthy or just brief?

You say that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad said that “ghuluw” (exaggeration) has been committed in regard to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

(b) Did he say who committed the “ghuluw”? Was it Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad during his life, or some of his followers afterwards?

(c) Is it true that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, in his famous book “Tazkira”, has likened the Qadiani exaggerations about their founder to the exaggerations of the followers of a much earlier Muslim saint, and written that we must not call that saint “kafir” because of the exaggerations of the followers?

5. (2.40 minutes) You say Muslims had become disappointed with Qadianis during the decade 1930-1940.


(a) Why did it take them so long, considering that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had been denounced as kafir by a large number of Ulama in 1891?

(b) Lahoris had been openly and publicly arguing with Qadianis since 1914 about their wrong beliefs, e.g. their declaring of other Muslims as kafir. Why did it take till 1930 for Muslims to be disappointed with Qadianis, when Lahoris had become disappointed with them in 1914?

6. (3.10 minutes) In going over the “greatness” of Iqbal, you say that he was awarded the title “sir” in England? (Perhaps you meant “awarded by England”, not “in England”.)

(a) Could one reason for this award be his poetry in praise of the British rulers of India?

(For example, his 1901 poem “Tears of Blood” about Queen Victoria’s death in which he called her death a “muharram” for Muslim of India, or his poem in May 1918 in front of the governor of the Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer, in which Iqbal urged people to support Britain in the First World War and die for it.)

(b) Does the receipt of this title make Iqbal subject to the charge of being a lackey of the British rulers of India?

7. (3.40 minutes) You state that it was Iqbal’s greatness of mind and heart that he collaborated with the Qadianis despite regarding them as non-Muslims.


Would you collaborate with the Qadianis, or recommend other Muslims to do so, in some common cause, to show your greatness of mind and heart?

8. (4.04 minutes) You say that Iqbal is falsely accused of denying hadith.


Do you agree with Iqbal’s statement in a published letter in Makatib-i Iqbal as follows:

“I consider all the Hadith reports relating to the Mahdi and the concepts of Messiahship and Mujaddids to be the result of Persian and other non-Arab philosophies. They have nothing to do with Arab thought or the true spirit of the Quran”

Programme 2 (length 15.01)

9. (2.18 minutes) You state that Iqbal had no connection or dealings with Ahmadis after 1910 until his opposition of the 1930s.

Question: Is your statement contradicted or not by the following events:

(i) In 1913 when Iqbal was unsure if he had divorced his wife (mother of Javed Iqbal) in Islamic law, and if a re-marriage was necessary or not, he sent a friend to Qadian to ask the religious opinion of Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din, then Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement.

(ii) In November 1913 Iqbal attended a meeting at Ahmadiyya Buildings, Lahore, held to celebrate the acceptance of Islam by Lord Headley in England. He made a speech in which he praised Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din for his sacrifice in the propagation of Islam and urged Muslims to help him and not let differences with Ahmadiyyat stand in the way.

(iii) In December 1927, Iqbal attended the annual conference of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, at which Lord Headely visiting India was also present. Iqbal made a speech again praising Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din for his work of the propagation of Islam.

Even after 1930 Iqbal was favourable towards Ahmadis as being Muslims and missionaries of Islam:

(i) In April 1932, when someone asked Iqbal’s opinion about whether one should join the Ahmadiyya Movement, Iqbal wrote in a letter (which is in Makatib-i Iqbal):

“As to the Ahmadiyya Movement, there are many members of the Lahore Jama’at whom I consider to be Muslims who have a sense of honour, and I sympathise with their efforts to propagate Islam.”

When Iqbal called Lahori Ahmadis ghairat mand musalman (“Muslims who have a sense of honour”) in 1932, did he mean that they are Muslims, or do you hold that ghairat mand musalman does not define a Muslim because Muslims do not have any ghairat?

(ii) In March 1933 Iqbal attended a function at Ahmadiyya Buildings, Lahore (centre of Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement), at which a Hindu barrister declared his acceptance of Islam before Maulana Muhammad Ali.

All the five events above relate to Islamic activities.

10. (3.50 minutes) You state that Iqbal’s writings show no influence of Ahmadiyyat.


Please explain the following:

(i) His verse: “The hosts of Gog and Magog have been let loose; let the Muslims’ eyes see the interpretation of the Quranic word ‘yansilun’.”

(ii) His statement in a letter (to be found in his Makatib):

“I believe that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is alive, and the people of these times can derive spiritual benefit from him just as did his Sahaba (Companions). But in this age even the expression of a belief of this kind would be unacceptable to most minds, so I keep quiet.”

(iii) His verse about the perfect believer:

“He is kalim [Moses], and Masih [Messiah], and khalil [Abraham],
he is Muhammad, he is the Book, he is Gabriel.”

Iqbal’s interpreter, Prof. Yusuf Salim Chishti writes in explanation of this verse in Sharh Jawaid Nama:

“He is the heir to the spiritual qualities of Moses, Jesus, Abraham and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. In him is manifested the image of the attributes of the prophets. He is potentially a prophet, but not actually a prophet because prophethood has come to an end.”

4 Responses to “Questions for Akbar Chaudhry on Iqbal”

  1. Akbar Ahmad Chaudhry reply to Dr. Zahid Aziz’s question on Sir Muhammad Iqbal.
    Copied from anti-ahmadiyya website:

    Posts: 1069
    12/17/10 20:58:57
    Registered Member
    Recording Tomorrow
    Video recording with the Lahori questions will be tomorrow afternoon insha Allah. I will try to summarise the points in the other thread, if I have time.
    Any Lahori Ahmadi in London — please contact me and feel free to come to our studio to participate, or just to watch. You will be blindfolded on your way there until you are inside the building . . . . just kidding

  2. I look forward to viewing the recording.

    The proper place to hold a debate is the country where Ahmadiyya issues are of the highest interest anywhere in the world, namely, Pakistan. But putting forward our case in a public debate there (i.e. that we are Muslims) will land us in prison. That will be a good debate, where one side is told: If you say anything, you will be arrested and jailed.

  3. January 1st, 2011 at 6:24 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Here are links to Akber Choudhry’s responses to my questions:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Here are a few initial comments.

    I encourage people to listen to the replies, and please have the questions before you while listening.

    Many of the questions have been presented in a distorted or incomplete way in the programme. The replies are evasive and deceptive. There are contradictions in the replies. In at least one case (Iqbal “collaborated with the Qadianis”), he denies saying this, but it is exactly what he had said.

    They skipped over question 6 (praise of British rule by Iqbal).

    They made a joke about my use of term “additional, optional questions” (Part 2, at 18.30 minutes). But I had made clear what I meant when I wrote that these two questions: “don’t relate to anything he said in his talk”.

    In response to my question 9 (iii) (“In December 1927, Iqbal attended the annual conference of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement,”), Akber Choudhry and his compliant host said that just because Iqbal attended the Lahori Ahmadi gathering it doesn’t mean he regarded them as Muslims, and gave examples of Muslims and non-Muslims addressing each other’s gatherings. They omitted the part of my question which went to say: “Iqbal made a speech again praising Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din for his work of the propagation of Islam.”

    So Iqbal addresses the Lahori Ahmadi gathering and praises their work of propagation of Islam, and according to Akber Choudhry he is regarding them as non-Muslims!

    At about 11.30 mins in Part 1, he says that from 1902 onwards Iqbal started persuading his father to leave the Ahmadiyya Movement, and his father left it during the life of Hazrat Mirza sahib. Yet he had acknowledged earlier that till 1910 Iqbal had good expectations of the Movement, and he admits that Iqbal described Ahmadiyyat in 1910 in a speech as a true example of Islamic life. So why was Iqbal persuading his father to leave it?

    He left my basic question (1) unanswered by not mentioning its crucial part. I said: “Iqbal grew up in the atmosphere in which Ulama had declared Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as kafir.” A large number of Ulama declared him kafir in 1891 immediately upon his announcement that Jesus had died and he himself was the Promised Messiah. There was vehement opposition against him from most Muslims from that date. He was answering charges of the Ulama in 1891 in Delhi’s central mosque that he claimed prophethood and denied various Islamic beliefs.

    But despite all this opposition, Iqbal was favourable towards Hazrat Mirza sahib and praised him till 1910, because according to Akber Choudhry, he was writing in such a way as to confuse people. Why didn’t Iqbal listen to the Ulama?

    Akber Choudhry also claimed that he could not find the reference that Iqbal wrote in English that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian is “probably the profoundest theologian among modern Indian Muslims”. All he had to do was to search our websites for the following book:

    Sir Muhammad Iqbal and the Ahmadiyya Movement

    and read this page in it.

    He gave no response to the quote I presented from Iqbal’s letter of April 1932 (yes, that is the year nineteen thirty-two): “As to the Ahmadiyya Movement, there are many members of the Lahore Jama’at whom I consider to be Muslims who have a sense of honour (ghairat mand musalman), and I sympathise with their efforts to propagate Islam.”

    I even suggested to Akber Choudhry what response he could give. He could say that when Iqbal described Lahoris as “ghairat mand musalman”, he didn’t mean they were Muslims because “ghairat mand musalman” is an oxymoron, and a “ghairat mand” person can’t be a “musalman”, nor can a “musalman” be “ghairat mand”! That’s the only response which will work!

    In Part 2, at 16.50 minutes, Akber Choudhry is either displaying his ignorance or is deliberately misleading the viewers when he says that the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has never written anything about the religious philosophy of Hazrat Mirza sahib. Leaving aside several books by Hazrat Mirza sahib himself (such as ‘The Teachings of Islam’, ‘Ainah-i Kamalat-i Islam’) he can, for example, also read Mujaddid-i Azam vol. 3 (Urdu) or True Conception of the Ahmadiyya Movement or Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement or A Brief Survey of the Ahmadiyya Movement or Ahmadiyyat in the Service of Islam, all of which are available online ( and

  4. January 3rd, 2011 at 7:50 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Here are some further comments on Akber Choudhry’s response, which is at:

    For reference, I have given the approx. time from this programme in brackets.

    (5 mins) Akber Choudhry says that Iqbal started opposing Qadianis around 1930 when he became doubtful of their intentions in a political (Kashmir) cause. So Iqbal didn’t consider it important to oppose their religious beliefs for the sake of establishing religious truth, but only did it due to a political clash!

    (7.15 mins) In reply to my question, why didn’t Iqbal oppose Hazrat Mirza sahib during his lifetime, Akber Choudhry says it was only the Lahori-Qadiani tussle which brought to notice Mirza sahib’s objectionable claims, or his writings published after his death. But, as I said in my earlier comments, his opponent Ulama had been alleging since 1891 (when Iqbal was 14 years old) that he claimed to be a prophet, and he was widely denounced by the Ulama because of this. Why didn’t Iqbal follow those popular Ulama? Akber Choudhry claims that Hazrat Mirza sahib’s double-meaning writings on prophethood confused people. But the Ulama’s fatwa already said in 1891 that Mirza says that he is a muhaddas, not a prophet, but he defines muhaddas in such a way that it can only mean prophet. So Iqbal knew, from 1891, that the general Maulvi opinion was: (1) Mirza claims to be a prophet, (2) he is deliberately confusing people with terminology. Why did Iqbal then have a good impression of Hazrat Mirza sahib all this time till at least 1910? All the arguments against Hazrat Mirza sahib were available to Iqbal through popular Muslim clerics.

    (9.15 mins) Akber Choudhry says: Some prominent Muslims became favourable to Hazrat Mirza sahib because they saw him as a “good debater”. Debater of what? Akber Choudhry is conveniently omitting to say that he was a debater of Islam against the Christian and Arya Samaj opponents of Islam. Otherwise people might find out about Hazrat Mirza sahib’s service to Islam.

    At some point, the host and Akber Choudhry concurred that it has now been discovered that some arguments used in those debates by Hazrat Mirza sahib were incorrect and not based on true knowledge. Since Hazrat Mirza sahib was trying to prove that God is One and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was a true prophet, Akber Choudhry should have told us which argument of Hazrat Mirza sahib was wrong, and doesn’t prove that God is One and that the Holy Prophet is a true prophet.

    (12.40 mins) Akber Choudhry says that some prominent Muslims who went to Qadian became favourable to Hazrat Mirza sahib because they saw his followers, for example, saying fajr prayers at 4.00 a.m. “taking part in Islamic worship outwardly (bizahir)”. Why were they impressed by this? Hadn’t they seen other Muslims saying fajr prayers? Akber Choudhry obviously can’t mention that it was because of the devotion that they saw in the Ahmadis who were praying.

    And why does he say “taking part in Islamic worship outwardly”? Any Muslim that you see praying, you can only know that he is praying “outwardly”, you can’t know about his sincerity. The idea Akber Choudhry is planting is that Ahmadis might well have been merely just pretending to pray like Muslims.

    (15.30 mins) Akber Choudhry again says that the Qadianis went to one extreme. But he has avoided my question (3(a)), that if they went to one extreme, away from the teachings of Hazrat Mirza sahib, in what respects did they go away from his teachings? He told us how Lahoris went to the other extreme, away from his teachings. But why doesn’t he tell us about one or two main respects in which the Qadianis went away from his teachings to the opposite extreme? His answer is that ‘no one knows what the teachings of Mirza sahib are, so we can’t know how Qadianis have moved away from him’. But in that case, how does he know the ways in which Lahoris have moved away from him?

    He is avoiding answering this because he and his band of supporters keep on telling Lahoris that the Qadianis correctly adhere to the teachings and claims of Hazrat Mirza sahib.

    (17.45 mins) A most ridiculous point is put by the host. Did the Lahoris ever question Hazrat Mirza sahib about their interpretations of his claims, or say to him that his views were wrong? Lahoris didn’t question him because he is the one who gave those interpretations which Lahoris put forward!

    Akber Choudhry skipped over my questions 4 (a) and (b) about Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s mention of ghuluw (exaggeration). He is loath to admit that the Maulana was talking about the followers being guilty of exaggeration.

    In Part 2 of his response (at the beginning) he has admitted that Maulana Azad likened the exaggeration by followers in case of Mirza sahib with the case of Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri, but he has skipped over my point that Maulana Azad wrote that exaggeration by followers should not make us condemn their founder as kafir.

    Regarding my question 8 (Iqbal denying all hadith about Mahdi, Messiah and Mujaddids), Akber Choudhry didn’t understand it or deliberately distorted it. He said it is a matter, not for him, but for specialists in the field of Hadith to rule on whether certain hadith are genuine or not. I never asked that.

    What I asked was whether Akber Choudhry agrees with Iqbal’s assessment that all such hadith reports are “the result of Persian and other non-Arab philosophies. They have nothing to do with Arab thought or the true spirit of the Quran”. This is Iqbal’s argument against the Ahmadiyya movement, namely, that all hadith reports speaking of the coming of a Mahdi, of Jesus, and of mujaddids, are un-Islamic fabrications. Does Akber Choudhry agree with this argument?

    If he disagrees, he is disagreeing with Iqbal’s argument against Ahmadiyyat, which he can’t afford to do, at least in this discussion. If he agrees with Iqbal, then he will be declared kafir by the general ulama and maulvis, and thus Akber Choudhry will achieve the distinction of being called as kafir both by the Qadianis and by the generality of other Muslims ulama!