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Friday, 14 January 2011

Founder of Qadianism

Early life of the Founder of Qadianism, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadyani
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Qadyani movement, was born in the village of Qadian in the Gurdaspur District of Punjab (India) in 1839 or 1840. His father, Ghulam Murtaza, was a physician-cum-landowner of Mughal descent. After completing his education in the Arabic and Persian languages (as was customary in orthodox Muslim families of the day) and in Tibb (Eastern medicine), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad served for about four years beginning 1864 as a clerk in the office of Deputy Commissioner (District Officer) of Sialkot District. He then gave up this job to join his father’s practice of medicine. Simultaneously, he continued his somewhat irregular study of religious literature and also participated in religious debates. As far as is known, his ancestors had been orthodox Sunni (Hanafi) Muslims, and Mirza also subscribed to the same school of thought in his early years. In fact in 1879, at the age of about 40, he publicly announced his intention to write a fifty-volume book titled Barahin-e-Ahmadiyah (The Ahmadi Proofs), seeking to expound in strong and irrefutable terms, but on the basis of solid logic and reasoning, the truth of Islam vis-à-vis other religions. He also appealed to the Sub-continent’s Muslim community to provide material help to him in this noble task. In response to this call, the Muslims in general extended generous financial support to him in what they viewed as a laudable venture. After publishing only four volumes (out of the 50 initially promised) in the years between 1880 and 1884, however, Mirza abandoned the project, and stopped publication of subsequent volumes of the book. He did this on the plea that since he was the mujaddid of the century, he had been commanded by Allah to propagate Islam through divine inspiration rather than through intellectual effort and the written word. (More than 23 years later, Mirza wrote and published the fifth and last volume of the Barahin in 1905, i.e., three years before his death).
In 1886, Mirza wrote his second book, titled Aryah Dharm (The Aryah Creed), and also held a debate in Hoshiarpur (Punjab) with the Hindu Aryah Samaji sect. This enabled him to make some name for himself as an Islamic debater, and also helped him build up a group of disciples around him. Hakim Nurrudin (1841-1914), then personal physician of the Maharajah of the Jammu and Kashmir princely State and a relation of Mirza through his wife, was a prominent member of this influential band of advisors and helpers.
Mirza’s Early Beliefs
Till now, Mirza’s religious beliefs, including that in the finality of the prophet-hood of Muhammad (P.B.U.H), were fully orthodox like any other true Sunni Muslim. In a public notice dated 2 October 1891, which is included in the second volume of his book Tabligh-e-Risalat (Dissemination of Prophet-hood), he wrote as follows:
“I subscribe to all Islamic beliefs, and uphold all those things which are borne out by the Quran and the Hadith and are accepted as true by the Ahl-e-sunnah wal jama’ah (Sunni Muslims). I regard anyone claiming prophet-hood after Muhammad (P.B.U.H), the last of all Prophets of Allah, to be an impostor and a kafir (infidel). I firmly believe that divine prophetic revelation had started with Adam and had finally ended for all time to come with Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). Let everyone be a witness to this”.  
Mental state of the contemporary Muslim community
The Muslim community of India was passing through a grave mental and emotional crisis around this time. On the one hand, it has lost its former political supremacy lasting for several centuries, and was forced to wait expectantly for the emergence of a leader who could rid it out of its state of gloom and despair through his dynamic leadership. On the other, its religious, moral and cultural values were being seriously threatened by the materialistic ideas of Europe which had invaded the Sub-continent via the British rule. Its common people as well as the intellectual elite were finding themselves helpless against this onslaught. The intellectual element of the community had in fact been forced to conclusion that coping successfully with this dual challenge was impossible without acquiring and adopting the materialistic values of the West. It was on this premise that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the noted Muslim educationist and founder of the Muslim University at Aligarh, launched his historic movement to introduce the Muslims of India to the new cultural values of the West, and to popularize English education and arts among them. Consciously or otherwise, however, Sir Syed’s movement came to be associated with the spread of “naturalism”.
Journey of Mirza’s claims from a Masil to a full prophet
In spite of Mirza’s early beliefs, his false predictions proved to be a masil-ul-Masih (likeliness or analog of Jesus Christ) to a full prophet with a shariah (Religion).
Mirza’s claim to be a Masil of Jesus Christ, The Messiah
It was around this time that Hakim Nurrudin, the disciple, relative and close associate of Mirza mentioned earlier, advised him to exploit the prevailing demoralized state of the Indian Muslims to his own advantage. Nurrudin felt that if Mirza were to present himself before the nation as a masil of Jesus Christ, he was sure to be greeted as a savior and a redeemer, and would be able to play a vital role in the Muslim nation’s revival. Initially, Mirza did not view this idea with favour and wrote to Nurrudin as follows in his letter dated 24 January 1891, which in included in Maktubat-e-Ahmadiyah (The letters of (Ghulam) Ahmad):
“With reference to your suggestion that, regardless of the hadith concerning the prospective descent of Jesus Christ near the minaret on the eastern side of Damascus (Syria) I should put forward a claim to be the masil of Christ, I wish to say that I have no need to do any such thing. My sole desire is that Allah may include me in His humble and obedient bondsmen. For us (human beings) there is no running away from trials and tribulations, which are indeed the only means of (material and spiritual) progress….”.
Not long after writing the aforesaid letter, however, Mirza put forward a claim to be a Masil of Jesus Christ in the following words reproduced from the posture included in the book Tabligh-e-Risalat, Vol. II:  
“I do not claim to be a Messiah Jesus son of Mary (in person), nor do I believe in tanasukh (transmigration of the soul). My only claim is to be only the Masil of Jesus. This is because my spiritual state resembles the spiritual state of Jesus Christ as closely as does muhaddithiyat (mastery of the Prophet’s Hadith) resemble prophet-hood”.
From Messiah’s Masil to promised Messiah in person
Mirza did not stick to his claim to be a Masil of Jesus Christ for long. His next step was to refute the belief concerning the “aliveness” of Christ and to assert that Christ had in fact “died” on the Cross. He then proceeded to declare himself to be the promised Messiah and the promised Mahdi. This he did in the following statements excerpted from his books titled Tawdih-e-Maram (The Elucidation of Objectives), Fateh-ul-Islam (The victory of Islam), Tabligh-e-Risalat, Tohfa-e-Golraviyah (The Golravi present) and many other books like this.                                        
“Both the Muslims and the Christians believe (with a slight difference of detail) that Jesus son of Mary was lifted bodily and alive to heaven, and that he would descend to earth at some future date. I have denied the validity of this belief earlier in this journal”           
“ If you are true believers, you should be thankful and should bow to God that the moment for which your ancestors waited expectantly for long, and countless souls passed away without witnessing it, has finally arrived. I cannot help saying repeatedly that I have been sent in good time to reform mankind and to re-instill the din in people’s heart, in the same manner as he (i.e., Jesus Christ) who was sent after Moses and whose soul was raised to heaven after great agony in the reign of Herod. The Masil of Jesus Christ (i.e., Mirza himself) promised (by God) to Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) has now descended from heaven in the fourteenth Hijrah century, i.e., approximately the same length of time after Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) as that between Moses and Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual descent. It has taken place during a period very similar to the one in which the original Christ had come, and is meant to be a “sign” for those who understand”;
“ And this is the long-awaited Christ, and it is I who am referred to in revealed texts as Mary and Jesus, and about whom it was said that he would be made a “sign” and it was also said that he would be the Jesus son of Mary that was due to come. Those who doubt this are in manifest error”.
"I swear by God who has sent me, and to whom only the accused ones attribute anything but the truth, that He has sent me as the Promised Messiah". 
“I hereby claim to be that promised Messiah, about whom there are prophecies in all the sacred books of Allah that he would appear (again) in the last period of history”.
To prove his claimed resemblance to Jesus Christ, Mirza put forward some queer arguments. Here are some examples:
“ My birth had a novelty about it similar to the birth of Christ, in that a girl had been born as my twin. This is an uncommon happening, since a single child is born in most cases”.
“Another point of resemblance between Jesus Christ and the promised Messiah of this Ummah (i.e., Mirza himself) is that Christ was not a full-fledged Israelite but was considered so only because of his mother. Similarly some of my grandmothers were descendants of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) of Islam. Furthermore, the secret about Christ having been born without a father was that Allah was highly displeased with the children of Israel because of the multiplicity of their sins”.
A lecture delivered in Sialkot
“ Be sure that the person who has now descended (i.e., Mirza) is in fact (Jesus) son of Mary, who, like the original Jesus Christ, had no human as his ‘spiritual father’. Allah Himself, therefore, became his custodian, took him under His protection, and named him (also) Son of Mary. He is thus symbolically Jesus Son of Mary, who was born without father? Can you prove (also) that he is a member of any one of the four schools of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)? If not, then who is this person if not the Son of Mary?
Izalatul Awham
“The fourteenth specialty of Jesus Christ was that because of a father, he was not part of the Bani Israel (i.e., Children of Israel). He was, nevertheless, the last Prophet of the chain of Moses, and came fourteen centuries after Moses. Similarly, even though I do not belong to a family of Quraish, I have been deputed (by Allah) in the fourteenth century (after the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), and am the last of all”.
                                                                      Tazkirahtush Shahadatain (An Account of Two Testimonies)
                                                                                          By Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
Following the afore mentioned declarations, Mirza placed distorted interpretations on some of the Holy Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) ahadith concerning the future descent of Jesus Christ. Some examples are given below:
As indicated earlier, the descent of Jesus Christ was to take place, according to the hadith in Sahih Muslim, in the following circumstances:
      a)   His descent would be next to at the eastern minaret in the city of Damascus (Syria).
b)   He would be clad in two yellow sheets.
c)   On being requested by the Imam (leader) of the Muslims to lead the prayers, Jesus Christ would  say that this should be done by their own Imam (your Imam is from among yourselves) other corroborating ahadith indicate that Hazrat Mahdi would be the Imam in question.
Mirza made the aforesaid three circumstances applicable to himself on the following rather funny premises:
a)   Just as Damascus (Syria) had been inhabited by wicked people who had martyred Imam Hussain (R.A), so as Qadian (Punjab) inhabited by people who do not hesitate to kill pious and pure people. It was therefore necessary that the masil of Christ should also descend among such wicked people.
Damascus and Qadian are geographically “situated on the same latitude", and there would be a “minaret of Messiah” in Qadian similar to the “eastern minaret” of Damascus mentioned in the Prophet’s hadith.
Izalatul Awham
(Mirza also started building a minaret in Qadian but died before its completion. Furthermore, there was in fact no similarity about “killing of pious people” between the inhabitants of Damascus and Qadian. There are no instances of any Qadyani having murdered any holy personality like Syedna Imam Hussain (R.A) or ever of making an attempt on Mirza’s own life.)
Mirza also asserted that the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is situated in Jerusalem, and to which Allah had miraculously transported the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) across hundreds of miles from Makkah on the night of the Miraj (Ascension), in fact meant the mosque of the promised Messiah that was situated in Qadian. 
(Tazkirah-e-Majmuah-e-Wahy-e-Muqaddas, An Account of the Collection of Sacred Revelations).
b)   As regards the two yellow sheets in which, according to the Holy Prophet’s above-cited hadith, Christ would be clad at the time of his future descent to earth, Mirza likened these symbolically but far-fetchedly to the two types of physical ailment from which he then suffered, viz., frequent headaches, vertigo, insomnia, and heart spasm in the upper part of his body, and diabetes in its lower part.
 (cf. Appendix to Araba’in, Nos. 3 and 4).
c)   With reference to the word (Your imam is from among yourselves), which are attributed to Jesus Christ in the aforementioned hadith in response to the request to be made to him lead the prayers, Mirza interpreted (or rather misinterpreted) them to mean that Christ would assume the form of his own masil and would then lead the prayers himself - an interpretation that clearly conflicts with those accepted by all previous scholars and interpreters of hadith and also with other portions of the same hadith.
Concerning that part of hadith, for example, in which it was predicted that Jesus Christ would kill the Dajjal signified those Christian priests whom he (i.e., Mirza) had already “killed” through arguments contained in his various books. In placing this construction on the hadith, Mirza in fact implied that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) erred in interpreting the message revealed to him by God on this point, since, according to him (i.e., Mirza) it was by no means certain that an apostle could fully comprehend all the aspects of even those future events which God Himself revealed to him!

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