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Qadiani beliefs refuted in Internet exchange

Our success in proving that Hazrat Mirza did not claim to be a prophet

by the Editor (Dr. Zahid Aziz)

(The Light & Islamic Review: Vol.73, No. 1; January -February 1996; p. 13-15)

Introduction / Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala.

In the last issue of The Light, I described the use of the world-wide Internet computer network for discussions, and my participation in the group by the name of soc.religion.islam, in which issues and questions relating in any way to Islam are aired. Recently, a discussion has been taking place regarding the belief that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be a prophet. It began when a Qadiani sent a series of articles under the title "Prophet(s) after the Prophet Muhammad", attempting to show that, according to Islam and Islamic authorities, prophets will continue to arise after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. I recall seeing the same series appearing previously at various times.

The point at which I first noticed this discussion, a Qadiani from Queen's University, Canada, had challenged a statement by a Sunni contributor, Mr. Abdur-Rahman Daniel Lomax from Asheville, North Carolina, who had said that Hazrat Mirza had called anyone who claims prophethood after the Holy Prophet Muhammad as an apostate. In response, Mr. Lomax quoted some such statements of Hazrat Mirza from the book Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement by Maulana Muhammad Ali.

Seeing this, I backed up Mr. Lomax's article by sending further statements from Hazrat Mirza's writings in which he has denied claiming prophethood and denounced any claimant to prophethood after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and also repeatedly expressed his belief that no prophet, new or old, can come after the Holy Prophet.

In response, another Qadiani from Canada (I will refer to him by his intitial, and call him Dr. I.R.) sent a long article which I recognised as being one of their pre-prepared writings which other Qadianis have sent to me before in personal discussions. Much of it is devoted to claiming that Maulana Muhammad Ali and some other Lahore Ahmadi spokesmen had at one time believed Hazrat Mirza to be a prophet. I responded that these arguments were irrelevant to the point under debate. The question being discussed was: if Hazrat Mirza claimed to be a prophet, as asserted by the Qadianis, then why did he deny claiming to be a prophet so frequently and so vehemently? The Qadiani reply also contained some brief extracts in which Hazrat Mirza had used words such as nabi and rasul for himself, and I was asked how I could reconcile the statements denying prophethood with these. I replied that Hazrat Mirza had made it clear that wherever these words had been used it was in a metaphorical sense, and not as meaning an actual prophet.

In subsequent articles, Dr. I.R. raised several objections to our stand-point. I summarise these below with my replies:

Q. Are you saying that he never claimed prophethood?

A. In reply I quoted a passage in which Hazrat Mirza says: "I have never, at any time, claimed prophethood in the real sense."

Q. Why did he not use the word saint (wali or muhaddas) if that was what he meant? Did he not know the meanings of the word prophet or the later two words? Did he not know the difference between prophet and muhaddas?

A. I quoted extracts where Hazrat Mirza had stated his claim to be that of being a muhaddas, at the same time denying that he was a prophet. However, it is most ironic that a Qadiani should be raising this objection for it is their belief that for ten years after claiming to be the Promised Messiah (the period 1891 to 1901) Hazrat Mirza wrongly considered himself to be a muhaddas because he "did not know the difference between prophet and muhaddas"! Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, the Qadiani Head, wrote as follows:

". . . previously he considered his prophethood as being sainthood (muhaddas) . . . According to the previous definition of 'prophet' in his mind, he was not a prophet, and therefore while all the characteristics of prophethood were found in him, he refrained from calling himself a prophet." (Haqiqat-un-Nubuwwat, published March 1915, pages 120 and 122)

So the official Qadiani belief is that Hazrat Mirza denied being a prophet when he actually was a prophet because he did not know the right definition of 'prophet'!

Q. Hazrat Mirza never denied that he received prophethood through obedience to the Holy Prophet. He claimed to be an ummati nabi (a follower who is a prophet), did he not?

A. I quoted various extracts from Izala Auham where Hazrat Mirza has explained that the concepts of being a 'follower' (ummati) and of being a 'prophet' are opposite in meaning, and therefore a person can never be both a follower as well as a prophet. There is simply no such thing. However, he has further added that the description 'follower as well as prophet' does fit a muhaddas because while he is no more than a follower (of the Holy Prophet Muhammad), he does possess some characteristics of a prophet in an imperfect manner. And this is the sense in which, says Hazrat Mirza, God has called him "follower as well as prophet". The very presence of the word 'follower' in this expression rules out absolutely that he could be a prophet.

Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala.

The two Qadiani writers in this debate both posted articles in which they included the Qadiani translation of Hazrat Mirza's pamphlet Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala, entitled A Misunderstanding Removed. They were attempting to prove that Hazrat Mirza published this to clear the misunderstanding of some of his followers who wrongly believed that he did not claim prophethood. With supreme confidence, Dr. I.R. thundered at me:

"Just answer this one question and read my words: What was the misunderstanding Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was trying to remove in that pamphlet? Can you enlighten us this time? I have not addressed anything else for your convenience."

I replied that this was obvious from the very opening words of this pamphlet. A follower of Hazrat Mirza had mistakenly told an opponent that the words nabi and rasul had never even been used in his writings for himself. So Hazrat Mirza wrote this pamphlet explaining, exactly as he always did, that these words undoubtedly occur in his writings but are used metaphorically, or according to their basic, root meaning, not in the sense which they bear in Islamic terminology as meaning a real prophet.

Then Mr. Lomax said regarding my submissions that, despite the other information which I had provided about Hazrat Mirza's denials of claiming prophethood, it would be better if I "would directly confront the problem that there are numerous statements which have been presented here [by Qadianis], clearly claiming prophethood, and not particularly susceptible to clarification as merely metaphorical."

In response, I explained that up to that point I was trying to establish the general principle that Hazrat Mirza did not claim to be a prophet, which was essential in order to properly clarify the meaning of the statements referred to by Mr. Lomax. I then took up several such statements as found in the Qadiani translation A Misunderstanding Removed, which are used to mislead people. In each case I showed that the same statement may be found in other works of Hazrat Mirza in a more detailed form, from where it is absolutely clear that those words are a claim of being a saint or muhaddas, and not of being a prophet.

I also pointed out some errors in the Qadiani translation, most notably the following words:

". . . my ignorant opponents accuse me of having laid claim to an independent prophethood and messengership. I had made no such claim. . . "

The word independent does not exist in the original Urdu. By inserting it, the intention is to convey that Hazrat Mirza only denied claiming to be an "independent" prophet, whereas he is in fact denying claiming to be a prophet at all.

After I had posted my last submission to the newsgroup, Mr. Lomax sent the following contribution:

"Once again I thank brother Zahid Aziz for his cogent and able defense of Ghulam Ahmed's position on the sealing of prophecy, as well as his exposition of the distortion in translation of some of his writings by his erstwhile supporters among the Qadianis. To my mind, he has cleared Ghulam Ahmed of the stink of false claim on this matter, at least. I remain clear as to his station being beneath that of the genuine Messiah or Mahdi; how far beneath is a matter which is unclear to me.

"It is apparent that whatever Ghulam Ahmed may have done for good or evil, he did not claim prophecy in such a way as to leave Islam, and allegations that he did are based on quotes out of context and an incomplete knowledge of the sum of his writings. I have no essential objection (based in principle rather than detailed facts) to a claim that he was, metaphorically, Jesus, for example, and I have already pointed out one very clear parallel.

"Jesus did not claim to be God, but certain of his statements, taken out of context, coupled with an ignorance of what else he said - or a twisting of its meaning - can make it seem that he did.

"In fact, Ghulam Ahmed also made some statements like this too, such that some of his enemies have said that he claimed to be a prophet. With Jesus, it was the Sanhedrin which accused him of a claim to be God; thus the claim originally came from enemies; as with the Qadian section of the Ahmediyya, later Christians adopted the claim as their own."

It is very pleasing for us to see that Mr. Lomax has drawn the same parallel between Hazrat Mirza and Jesus, as regards the claims attributed to them, which the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has been presenting for over eighty years. It is an evidence of the fact that Hazrat Mirza's life and mission bear great resemblance to those of Jesus.

In an earlier article, Mr. Lomax had responded to a Qadiani who had asked him why he was seeking the views of Lahore Ahmadis on these questions. Mr. Lomax wrote:

"Rather, I have looked to the Lahoris for response to Qadiani claims; after all, they get tarred with the same brush, and have an interest in dispelling the rumors about Ghulam Ahmed; further, they are far more familiar with the literature than I.

"Plus, I am very fond of their founder, Muhammad Ali, for the work he did in translating and presenting the Quran in a form which has yet to be equalled in utility. I have no such fondness for the Qadian section, for I have seen little but controversy and argument from them, and the arguments are endless, going nowhere."

This opinion is an evidence that the very great service rendered to Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali, especially by means of his translation and commentary of the Holy Quran, has not only helped the cause of Islam as such, but also made many people recognise that it is the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement which is the right and true representative of the beliefs and claims of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.