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November 10th, 2022

Followers of Muslim saints admit the saints used word ‘prophet’ for non-prophets

Famous Muslim saints and renowned spiritual figures in the history of Islam had applied the words nabi (prophet) to themselves and to certain great Muslims, and had used the word nubuwwat (prophethood) to refer to their rank. Their followers and devotees of the present time admit this, and they put forward explanations that this does not mean that these saints believed that prophets can come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, had used these words in exactly the same way and had himself given the clearest explanation: that it is allowable to apply them in a metaphorical or linguistic sense; while the fact remains that no prophet can come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The anti-Ahmadiyya Ulama and propagandists ignore his explanations and accuse him of denying the finality of prophethood, but in the cases of their own accepted spiritual leaders they resort to the same kind of explanations which he gave.

Here are two examples of this.

1. Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakar (d. 1265) wrote in a poem:

“I am wali (a saint), I am Ali, I am nabi (a prophet)”.

See book Haqiqat Gulzar Sabiri, first published 1886, sixth edition, 1983, p. 414. This book is available online. See the relevant page at this link (first column, 3rd verse).

Thousands of people every year visit the shrine of Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan, Pakistan, which is administered by a department of the government of Pakistan. Qawwali singers at the shrine sing this poem to the visitors.

Recently, a spiritual leader, Pir Nasir-ud-Din, has presented an explanation of this verse in the following video in Urdu:

(a) The Pir says he was asked by one of the qawwali singers to explain this verse because people raise objections to it. The Pir says he told him not to  concern himself with this and just keep on singing the verse (see video clip from 0:20 to 0:25 secs).

This, then, is the standard they apply to their own saints, that if you see them calling themselves nabi, just don’t get concerned and there is no need to answer anyone’s objections to it. In case of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, their standard is that this is a most serious violation of Islam and he must be condemned as kafir for doing it.

On the other hand Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did get concerned about his followers using the words nabi and rasul for him and he advised: “As these words, which are only in a metaphorical sense, cause trouble in Islam, leading to very bad consequences, these terms should not be used in our community’s common talk and everyday language” (see his letter in Al-Hakam, 17 August 1899).

(b) The Pir goes on to add, as a preamble, that these words were written by one of the spiritual elite, a special man of God, and the common people have started raising a hue and cry about it. But, says the Pir, what they are objecting to was written by a great Sufi saint who was a staunch and strict follower of the Holy Prophet. (See video clip from 0:36 to 0:56 secs.)

But the same principle is not applied to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. His opponents put aside the established fact that he was a great servant of Islam and focus just on his use of these words. In his case, no follower of his needs to devise any interpretation of why he used these words because he has given his own interpretation repeatedly and clearly.

As to the common people misunderstanding the use of these words, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote: “To use a word in a non-real sense, and to employ it in speech according to its broad, root meaning, does not imply heresy (kufr). However, I do not like even this much, for there is the possibility that ordinary Muslims may misunderstand it” (Anjam Atham, footnote, p. 27).

(c) According to the Pir’s explanation, Farid-ud-Din is not referring to his own person as an individual, but to the whole of humanity, meaning that it is human beings who have been created with the potentiality to become a saint or prophet. He also makes a distinction between the physical body of Farid-ud-Din and the spirit which was within it, the spirit which was full of light bestowed upon it by God.

This is not much different from the explanations given by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad about the use of the word nabi for him, that it applies in the sense of zill and burooz. For example, he wrote in Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala: “God has called me nabi and rasul again and again, but in the sense of burooz. My own self does not come into it, but that of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. It was on this account that I was called ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad’. So prophethood and messengership did not go to another person. What belonged to Muhammad remained with Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.”

2. Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (d. 1273) in his widely-acclaimed and frequently-quoted Persian work Masnavi has applied the words nabi and nubuwwat to people among Muslims after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. An Urdu translation of Masnavi by Maulana Qazi Sajjad Husain was published in Lahore, with an introduction by the translator. It is dated 9 September 1974, which by co-incidence is just about the time that the Pakistan National Assembly declared Ahmadis as non-Muslim after concluding that their Founder had claimed to be a prophet.

In his introduction Maulana Qazi Sajjad Husain writes:

“According to Rumi there is a class of prophets and saints to whom more secrets are revealed than to the intellectual thinkers. He says: ‘Besides the intellect and the life of humans in general, there is another kind of life in the nabi and the wali’.” (p. 22)

Immediately after this, Maulana Qazi Sajjad Husain tells us that, while the ordinary people consider wahy as being granted only to prophets, and ilham as being the revelation to saints, yet Rumi “makes no distinction between wahy and ilham”. He adds that because the ordinary people believe that wahy only comes to prophets, Sufis use the term ‘wahy of the heart’ for revelations to saints. He quotes Rumi as saying that, although wahy is received by the saints: “To hide this from the ordinary people, Sufis call it wahy of the heart.” (p. 23)

We may note here that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is accused of claiming to be a prophet because he used the word wahy for his revelations. But as we learn here from Maulana Qazi Sajjad Husain, Jalal-ud-Din Rumi applies the term wahy to the revelation of the saints as well.

Then Maulana Qazi Sajjad Husain writes:

“The word nabi is generally used with a special meaning but Rumi uses the word nabi for reformers (muslihin) of a high rank as follows:

‘In the way of goodness, be anxious to render service to humanity, so that you may attain nubuwwat while being in the Muslim Umma.’

In Rumi’s terminology, the words nabi and wahy have such a wide meaning which is much broader than the technical meaning.”

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad also wrote several times about the “special meaning” or “technical meaning” of the words nabi and rasul, as distinct from their “wide” and “broader meaning”. These words applied to him, he stated repeatedly, in their wide and broad sense, and not in their special and technical meaning. He wrote:

“The words nabi and rasul [about me] are figurative and metaphorical. Risalat in the Arabic language is applied to ‘being sent’, and nubuwwat is to expound hidden matters or truths and fine points upon receiving knowledge from God. So, bearing in mind a significance of this extent, it is not blame-worthy to believe in the heart in accordance with this meaning. However, in the terminology of Islam, nabi and rasul mean those who bring an entirely new Law (shariah), or those who abrogate some aspects of the previous law, or those who are not called followers of a previous prophet, having a direct connection with God without benefit from a prophet. Therefore, one should be vigilant to see that the same meaning is not taken here.” (His letter in Al-Hakam, 17 August 1899).

So, at the very time in 1974 when the Pakistan National Assembly was deciding that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be a prophet because of using the nabi and rasul about himself, Maulana Qazi Sajjad Husain was writing the introduction to his Urdu translation of Jalal-ud-Din Rumi’s Masnavi, explaining in it that Rumi had applied these words to persons among the Muslims, and justifying Rumi’s use by giving the same reasons as those given by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. But it should be noticed that in case of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad he himself gave the explanation, and it was not the followers who came up with it later.

— Zahid Aziz

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