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1. Islam
2. Ahmadiyya Movement

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

His biography: Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement



1: The First Forty Years
2: Religious Dedication
3: Mujaddid of the Fourteenth Century
4: Mahdi and Messiah
5: Opposition
6: Further Work
7: Final Days
8: Contribution to Islam
9: Not a Prophet
10: Jihad
11: Christian assault on Islam
12: Disservice of ‘Ulama
13: The Ahmadiyya Movement
Appendix: The Ahmadiyya Movement as the West sees it

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Chapter 9

Not a Prophet

His claim misunderstood / Denial of prophethood /
His claim misunderstood

Every great man has been misunderstood to a certain extent, and so has Ahmad. The most serious of these misunderstandings is that which states that he claimed to be a prophet. This charge was laid against him by his opponents when he first claimed to be the Promised Messiah, and a section of his followers, the Qadianis, have now joined hands with them in bringing discredit upon his movement. We have already noted, while discussing his claims, that he claimed to be a mujaddid in 1882, and that his claim to Promised Messiahship was advanced in 1891. It was on the occasion of the latter claim that he was charged by his opponents with laying claim to prophethood, and he forthwith denounced that as a false charge, declaring definitely and unmistakenly that he had never claimed to be a prophet, that he believed in the Holy Prophet Muhammad as the final Prophet, and that he looked upon any claimant to prophethood after him as a liar. A few quotations from his writings have already been given. After reading those statements, no one can honestly attribute to him a claim to prophethood.

How then did the misunderstanding arise? When Ahmad laid claim to Promised Messiahship on the ground of his being the like of Jesus Christ, an objection was brought forward that Jesus Christ was a prophet and that none but a prophet could be his like. The following answer to this objection is met with in the first book in which a claim to Promised Messiahship is advanced:

"Here, if it be objected that the like of Christ must also be a prophet because Christ was a prophet, the reply to this in the first place is that our Lord and Master has not laid it down that the coming Messiah shall be a prophet; nay, he has made it clear that he shall be a Muslim and shall be bound by the law of Islam like ordinary Muslims . . . Besides this, there is no doubt that I have come as a muhaddath from God, and muhaddath is, in one sense, a prophet, though he does not possess perfect prophethood; but still he is partially a prophet, for he is endowed with the gift of being spoken to by God, matters relating to the unseen are revealed to him, and, like the revelation of prophets and apostles, his revelation is kept free from the interference of the devil, and the kernel of the law is disclosed to him, and he is commissioned just like the prophets, and like prophets it is incumbent on him that he should announce his claim at the top of his voice." (Tauzih Maram, pp. 9-10)

Denial of prophethood

It should be borne in mind that in the terminology of the Islamic law a muhaddath is a righteous person who is not a prophet but who is spoken to by God. When confronted with the objection that he claimed to be the like of Christ but that Christ was a prophet, and therefore his like must also be a prophet, Ahmad offered the above explanation, the gist of which is that he was a muhaddath and that the muhaddath was, in one sense, a prophet, though his prophethood was partial and not perfect. It was this statement which was misinterpreted by his opponents as a claim to prophethood, and, on this basis, he was denounced as a kafir or heretic. To remove the misunderstanding, he emphatically denied again and again that he was a claimant to prophethood and emphasised that he claimed to be only a muhaddath:

"I make a public declaration in this house of God, the mosque, that I believe in the finality of prophethood of the Last of the Prophets (may peace and the blessings of God be upon him), and that I consider the person who denies the finality of prophethood to be a faithless man and one outside the pale of Islam." (Manifesto, copied in Din al-Haq, p.29)

"I have laid no claim to prophethood; my claim is to be a muhaddath, and this I have made by Divine command. There is no doubt that muhaddathiyya also contains a strong part of prophethood . . .

"If, then, this be called prophethood metaphorically, or be regarded as a strong part of prophethood, does it amount to claim to prophethood?" (Izala Auham, pp. 421-422)

"Be it known to all Muslims that all such words as occur in my writings . . . to this effect, that the muhaddath is, in one sense, a prophet, or that muhaddathiyya is a partial prophethood or imperfect prophethood, all these words are not to be taken in their proper (technical) sense, but they have been used merely in their literal significance . . . Therefore, I have not the least hesitation in stating my meaning in another form for the conciliation of my Muslim brethren, and that other form is that, wherever the word nabi (prophet) is used in my writings, it should be taken as meaning muhaddath, and the word nabi (prophet) should be regarded as having been blotted out." (Manifesto, dated 3rd February, 1892)

"One of the objections of those who call me a kafir is that I lay claim to prophethood and say that I am a prophet. The reply to this is that it should be known that I have not laid claim to prophethood, nor have I said that I am a prophet, but these people have made haste to make a mistake in understanding my words . . . I have said nothing to these people except what I have written in my books, that I am a muhaddath and that God speaks to me as He speaks to a muhaddath . . . and what right have I that I should lay claim to prophethood and get out of the pale of Islam?" (Hamamat al-Bushra, p. 79)

"These people have not understood my words and they say that I am a claimant to prophethood, and this allegation of theirs is a clear lie." (Ibid., p. 81)

These are only a few of the numerous statements made by Hazrat Ahmad clearly denying any claim to prophethood. It is further explained in these statements that, when he called the muhaddath "in one sense a prophet", he was using the word "prophet" in a literal sense, not in its proper or technical sense, and this is also called a metaphorical use of the word. It was the height of folly on the part of his opponents, and no less is it on the part of his followers belonging to the Qadian section, to take the word in a real sense when the person who uses it expressly states it to have been used in a metaphorical sense. This position he maintained to the last. Thus, in one of his last writings, the Haqiqat al-Wahy, published less than a year before his death, he wrote:

"This servant does not say anything but what the Holy Prophet said, and he does not go a single step out of his guidance; and he says that God has called him a prophet by His revelation, and I have been called so by the tongue of our Messenger, Mustafa; and he means naught by prophethood but that he is frequently spoken to by God . . . and we do not mean by prophethood what is meant by it in the former Scriptures." (Haqiqat al-Wahy, Supplement, p. 16)

"And God does not mean by my prophethood anything but being frequently spoken to by Him, and the curse of God is on him who intends anything more than this . . . and our Messenger is the last of the prophets and the chain of messengers has come to an end in him . . . and nothing remains after him but being frequently spoken to by God, and that, too, on condition of being a follower of his . . . and I have been called a prophet of God in a metaphorical sense, not in the real sense." (Ibid., pp. 64-65)

These few quotations should set all doubts at rest with regard to Ahmadís alleged claim to prophethood. He claimed to be only a muhaddath, but, as the word nabi (prophet) occurred in some of his revelations, as also in a hadith of the Holy Prophet in relation to the coming Messiah, he explained that it was used metaphorically, not in the real sense of the word, and that metaphorically a muhaddath could be called a prophet because he was spoken to by God. Therefore, wherever he used the word "prophet" regarding himself, it was in a metaphorical sense. Never did he mean by it that he was a prophet in the real sense of the word, but only that he was spoken to by God; and that God speaks to His servants in this umma is a fact generally admitted by all Muslims.