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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Did not claim to be a prophet

Word nabi used metaphorically as meaning ‘saint’

Words Nabi, Rasul only metaphorical. Beware, don't use them commonly in everyday talk!
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Words Nabi, Rasul about me are only metaphorical. Beware, don’t use them commonly in everyday talk!

(See also note below, added 14 February 2023)

In August 1899, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote a letter to a follower to settle a disagreement between some of his followers regarding the use of the words nabi and rasul about him. This letter was also published at that time in the Ahmadiyya newspaper Al-Hakam by Maulvi Abdul Karim, a prominent Ahmadi (letter dated 7 August 1899, published in Al-Hakam, 17 August 1899, p. 6). Preceding the letter is an article by Maulvi Abdul Karim, in a part of which he explains the reason for publishing it.

Below we translate some relevant extracts from Maulvi Abdul Karim’s article and then display a complete translation of the letter.

In an accompanying pdf file (link) we provide the Urdu texts of the quotations translated below on this page. These are: (1) Extracts from Maulvi Abdul Karim’s article, (2) text of the letter by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad set in print, and (3) image of that letter from the original newspaper.


Introducing the letter, Maulvi Abdul Karim warns that followers should not exaggerate the staus of the Promised Messiah:

“There is another very important matter to which I draw the attention of my friends. It is that they must always check the words they utter about the True Imam, the holy Hazrat [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad] and the beliefs they hold about him. This is a matter of having respect, and it is through showing respect that man attains success. The rank and status which God bestows upon someone is in reality a Divine gift. No other person has the right to exaggerate it or to find fault with it. What did the Christians gain by exaggeratedly praising Jesus, which someone following this path can expect to achieve? I remember once one of our friends, who is deeply engrossed in the love of the Imam, said to him: Why should we not consider you to be superior to the Shaikhain [Abu Bakr and Umar], and nearer to the Holy Prophet? Hearing this, the holy Hazrat’s face changed colour, and he appeared to be entirely overcome by severe agitatation and restlessness … He spoke for six full hours … All the time he dwelt on the praises and virtues granted to the Holy Prophet, and on his own dedication and servitude to the Holy Prophet, and on the qualities of the Shaikhain. He said: It is a sufficient matter of pride for me that I am an admirer and servant of those people. The particular excellence which God granted them, no one will ever attain. Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him, cannot come back into the world to give anyone the same opportunity to serve him as the Shaikhain had.…

To conclude, when we are overcome by the emotions of love, we must always keep our tongues and hearts under the control and regulation of the true Shariah. … I copy below a letter by the holy Hazrat [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad] which he wrote to settle a dispute. Before he sent it, I obtained it from him for the benefit of our brothers, and I purposely omit the name and address of the person who is addressed in the letter, since it is the content that matters.”

Note added 14 February 2023 —To whom was this letter addressed?

Maulvi Abdul Karim has stated above, at the end of his introduction, that he has purposely omitted the name of the person who is addressed in the letter.

This letter is included in the collection of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s letters published by the Qadiani Jama‘at under the title Matkubat-i Ahmad. From there, the letter shows that the person addressed was Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan of Malerkotla (d. 1945), a prominent follower of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. After the Split in the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1914, he was in the Qadinai Jama‘at with those who believed Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be a prophet. He was also a son-in-law of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

See Matkubat-i Ahmad, new edition, published 2008, volume 2, letter no. 46, pages 248–249. Below are links to:

  1. This letter as on the above pages Maktubat-i Ahmad.
  2. Maktubat-i Ahmad on the Qadiani Jama‘at website.

Translation of the letter by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

My dearly beloved brother,…

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu-hu

The situation is that, although for twenty years I have been constantly receiving Divine revelation in which the word rasul or nabi often occurred — as there is the revelation: ‘He it is Who sent His messenger (rasul) with guidance and the true religion’, and the revelation: ‘the champion of God in the mantle of the prophets’, and the revelation: ‘A prophet came into the world but the world accepted him not’,*

(*Author’s note: Another reading of this revelation is: ‘A warner (nazir) came into the world’, and this is the reading which was given in Barahin Ahmadiyya. To avoid causing trouble, the other reading [which says ‘prophet’] was not given.)

and there are many such revelations in which the word nabi or rasul has occurred regarding myself — however, that person is mistaken who thinks that by this prophethood and messengership is meant real prophethood and messengership, by which the man concerned is called a ‘law giver’. In fact, by the word rasul is only meant ‘one sent by God’, and by the word nabi is only meant ‘one who makes prophecies’, having received intimation from God, or one who discloses hidden matters.

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. It should be believed from the bottom of the heart that prophethood has terminated with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, as God Almighty says: ‘He is the Messenger of God and the Khatam an-nabiyyin’. To deny this verse, or to belittle it, is in fact to separate oneself from Islam. Just as the person who exceeds the limit in rejection is in a dangerous condition, likewise he too is in a dangerous condition who, like the Shiahs, exceeds the limit in acceptance. It should be known that God has ended all His prophethoods and messengerships with the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet. I have come into the world, and have been sent into it, merely as a servant of the religion of Islam, and not to discard Islam and create some other religion. One must always protect oneself from being waylaid by the devils, and have true love for Islam, and must never forget the greatness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

I am a servant of Islam, and this is the real reason for my coming. The words nabi and rasul 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, because we have no Book but the Holy Quran, no rasul but Muhammad Mustafa, and no religion but Islam. We believe that our Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, is the last of the Prophets (Khatam-ul-Anbiya), and the Holy Quran is the last of the Books (Khatam-ul-Kutub). Religion should not be made into a children’s game, and it should be remembered that I make no claim other than, and contrary to, that of being a servant of Islam. The person who ascribes to me the contrary is making a fabrication against me. We receive grace and blessings through our Holy Prophet, and receive the benefit of knowledge from the Quran.

It is, therefore, pertinent that no person should entertain anything in his heart contrary to this direction; or else he shall be answerable for it before God. If we are not servants of Islam, then all our work is in vain and rejected, and shall be called to account.

(Letter dated 7 August 1899, published in Al-Hakam, vol. iii, no. 29, 17 August 1899, p. 6. The underlining in the translation is ours.)

  Link to the original Urdu texts of the above translations.