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Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

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Summary of court case

1987 Court Case:

Unknown to us, since December 1985 events had been laying the foundations of a second court case in Cape Town. This action was initiated by a Sunni Imam, Shaikh Jassiem, who had been mistreated because he had refused to condemn members of our Jama‘at as kafir and ostracise them. The defendants were the Muslim Judicial Council, again, and its President. The defence case largely revolved around their claim that for someone to hold the office of imam, he must be prepared to condemn Ahmadis since their beliefs are so un-Islamic. Therefore, Hafiz Sahib was again required to testify as an expert witness on behalf of the plaintiff. However, his health had now deteriorated considerably. Our President and Ameer, Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan Sahib, told him that as a doctor he was advising him not to go. But Hafiz Sahib was undaunted, and in May 1987 flew to Cape Town via London, a journey of some eleven thousand miles in all, about one half of the way around the world. He did this solely for the sake of truth and the honour of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. In the first case too, his main anxiety had been that the defendants would try to vilify and ridicule the person of the Founder in public, sling mud at his character, and make a play to their supporters in court to get cheap laughs. As it turned out, they did not appear in that case. In this second case, in violation of their own previous so-called ijma, they did appear and, in the hearings before Hafiz Sahib’s arrival, had adopted exactly these tactics which he was worried about.

Hafiz Sahib’s Marathon Evidence:

Hafiz Sahib began his testimony in July 1987, and gave his evidence-in-chief for about 10 days. After that he was under cross-examination by the opposing advocate, and then a brief re-examination by our own advocate, for another 17 days. He was thus on the witness stand for a total of 27 days, over a period of nearly seven weeks. The interpreters in court were Mr Shahid Aziz from England and Choudhary Masud Akhtar from the U.S.A. In the court room, sitting behind the opposing advocate was an imposing array of advisors including eminent Ulama, legal experts, Shariah scholars and specialists in Islamic law from Pakistan. During Hafiz Sahib’s evidence-in-chief, the opposition left no stone unturned in raising every possible objection they could think of, at every available opportunity. They objected to references and to the translation. When the cross-examination began, the opposing advocate, aided by his expert advisors close at hand, launched a fierce assault against Hafiz Sahib. Needless to say, they could hardly touch the substantial issues in the case. Their line of attack was to raise secondary, irrelevant points to try to discredit the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and to pressurise and intimidate Hafiz Sahib in the witness box into making a slip or contradicting himself. The attacks of the hostile advocate would come like mighty waves of the ocean, and Hafiz Sahib would repulse them firmly, standing like a solid rock.

It should be recorded that during this time Hafiz Sahib along with his helpers had to work literally day and night. After the day’s hearings in court, there would be lengthy consultations and work to get certain things prepared for the next day. Sometimes they would work through the night till 4 o’clock in the morning, and then after a brief sleep get ready to appear in court at 10 o’clock. Despite all this exertion, there were many occasions when Hafiz Sahib simply confounded the opponents. From the witness-box he was able to point out to them, several times, references in their own acknowledged books (and English books at that) which supported our stand-point. For instance, there was Yusuf Ali’s translation of verse 6:88 (“and some of their fathers …”) which supports the belief that Jesus had a father.

At one stage it was objected that the saying attributed to the Holy Prophet ulama ummati ka anbiya’ bani Israil (“the righteous learned ones among my followers shall be like the prophets of the Israelites”), which is cited by Hazrat Mirza Sahib in his support, is not to be found in any collection of Hadith, and is thus not a hadith at all. Hafiz Sahib replied that tomorrow he would bring references from eight (I forget the exact number) recognised Sunni theologians who have accepted this as a hadith. That night Hafiz Sahib searched for the references, and his helpers translated them.

The following day, when the hearing resumed, the opponents’ advocate asked Hafiz Sahib sarcastically:

Well Hafiz, did you find those references?

Hafiz Sahib turned to the lady judge and began:

I must apologise to the court that I had promised yesterday to find eight references.

The opposition bench beamed with delight when they heard this, but their smiles soon vanished when Hafiz Sahib continued:

I did not find eight references, but I did find five.

Hafiz Sahib then started reading them out one by one. After one or two quotations, as the opponents’ faces fell, their advocate said:

All right, all right, that will be enough.

Hafiz Sahib said to the judge:

We spent all night finding these references for him, and it is only fair that I read them all out now.

Then Hafiz Sahib read out all the references. He also explained the principle that if a hadith is cited by numerous classical scholars in their writings, then it can be considered as reliable even though it may not be found recorded in any compilation of Hadith as such.

I have it on good authority that, while Hafiz Sahib was in the witness box, the defendants used to transmit the transcript of his evidence, at daily or regular intervals, to Pakistan by Fax, where it was studied by a committee of top-level religious and legal experts, who would then advise the defendants on how to cross-question him in court.

The Defence’s Evidence:

After Hafiz Sahib’s mammoth evidence was over, there soon came the turn of the defendants to present their religious expert witnesses, of whom there was no shortage. But none of these dignitaries, who are famous for their writings and speeches in condemnation of the Ahmadiyya movement, was brought forward to support the defendants’ case and to face cross-questioning about it. Instead of these public figures, it was a Professor of Arabic from Pakistan, Mahmud Ahmad Ghazi, who testified for the defence.*Ghazi’s evidence bore no comparison whatever to the excellent calibre of Hafiz Sahib’s testimony, as is indicated by the judge in her judgment. Professor Ghazi was rigorously and thoroughly cross-examined by our advocate, at great length, and the superficiality and weakness of the defendants’ case was made abundantly plain for all to see. At one point, Professor Ghazi admitted that Maulana Muhammad Ali had rendered great services to the religion of Islam; however, he then added that this was just as many non-Muslims had rendered services to Islam! (Can he name any non-Muslims who tried to convince the world that Islam is the true religion, and tried to spread it?)

* (Footnote added in 2005 to above para: Prof. Ghazi is at present President of the International Islamic University, Islamabad, and has held the post of Minister of Religious Affairs in the government of Pakistan under Pervaiz Musharraf.)

Another issue which the opposition misrepresented concerns Hazrat Mirza’s claim that he excelled the Israelite Messiah in certain respects. This was no doubt raised to inflame Christians against Hazrat Mirza. However, our Christian advocate said to the Professor: “I also excel Jesus, in one respect, because I am a qualified lawyer and he was not!” The lady judge, too, could see what Hazrat Mirza had actually meant, and at one stage she said to the witness: “Professor, can’t you see that what Mirza is saying is that the Prophet Muhammad is so great that even his followers, without being prophets, can excel Jesus is certain respects”. Hafiz sahib used to say that even these lawyers and judges, belonging to a different religion, could understand so readily what Hazrat Mirza had said, but our Ulama could not understand after a hundred years.

Our opponents are used to writing books and delivering speeches against us in which they make the wildest allegations and claims, without having to prove them and without being challenged. However, testifying in an impartial court of law is a different matter altogether, and was therefore quite a novel experience for our critics, which perhaps explains their performance. I may also add that usually it is Ahmadis who are on the defensive against their critics, which perhaps creates the impression that our opponents’ own beliefs are somehow entirely correct and beyond criticism. However, during Professor Ghazi’s cross-examination it was our opponents, for once, whose beliefs were being scrutinised and who had to answer objections raised against them.

When one considers the clash between Hafiz Sahib’s evidence and the defence’s standpoint, the following verse of the Holy Quran comes to mind:

“Nay, We hurl the truth against falsehood, so it knocks out its brains, and lo! it vanishes.” (21:18)

After Professor Ghazi’s testimony was over, the defence obtained an adjournment (from December 1987 to February 1988), claiming that their next witness, the well-known former minister, religious writer and Senator from Pakistan, Khurshid Ahmad of the Jamaat-i-Islami, needed time to collect evidence showing that all Muslims regard Ahmadis as outside the fold of Islam. When the hearings resumed in February, the Senator was nowhere to be seen! Instead, the defence presented the Imam (or deputy Imam) of the Washington D.C. mosque, a gentleman of Egyptian origin. As he knew nothing about the case or the issues, he only made conflicting remarks, which contradicted the defendants’ own standpoint. One statement he made became memorable. He said that the reason why non-Muslims could not be buried near graves of Muslims was that the Muslims would then feel the heat from the hell-fire in which the non-Muslims burn in their graves! The hearings ended only three days after being resumed as the defence could not present any more witnesses.

The Judgment:

Hafiz Sahib returned from Cape Town in March 1988. The judgment of the case was reserved, and given much later in February 1990. Hafiz Sahib’s stand had been completely vindicated, and the position of Hazrat Mirza Sahib had been cleared. It may be noted that in the hearings in this case before Hafiz Sahib’s arrival in Cape Town, the defendants had made Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s name a dirty word in that court by misquoting from his writings to allege that he had vilified and abused Jesus. The Christian officers of the court had been outraged at hearing these so-called statements condemning Jesus. What a complete change of view was brought about by Hafiz Sahib!

Let me say that, in both the court cases, it was the person of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement who was himself on trial. Hafiz Sahib represented him and cleared his name. Once, in my presence, someone by a slip of the tongue addressed Hafiz Sahib as “Mirza Sahib”, which was more significant than just a mistake.

These cases bear a certain analogy to an event in early Islamic history. To escape persecution by the Quraish, it was to a place in Africa (Abyssinia) that some Muslims emigrated. The Quraish sent a delegation after them to the court of the Christian king of that country, and to incite him against the Muslims they put forward the case that the Muslims spoke disparagingly about Jesus. However, the king, on listening to the reply given by the Muslims, exonerated them, and the delegation returned disappointed.