Prophecy of the Coming of the Messiah
Its True Significance
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
The Light & Islamic Review (US), July/August 1992 Issue (Vol. 69, No. 4, pp. 3–5)
It would not be without advantage to write here that my claim that “I am the Promised Messiah” is a claim, whose fulfilment was being looked forward to by all the sects of the Muslims. On studying the repeated prophecies in the Hadith reports of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)], everyone was waiting as to when those tidings would be fulfilled. Many persons with experience of divine inspiration, after receiving revelation from the Exalted God, had given the news that the Promised Messiah would appear at the head of the fourteenth century. Although this prophecy is to be found only in a condensed form in the Holy Quran, yet according to Hadith it occurs so repeatedly that intellect cannot accept it as false. If repetition has any meaning, then we can say that among all the Islamic prophecies made by the Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessings of Allah be on him, there is none that enjoys the same degree of repetition as this prophecy. Anyone acquainted with Islamic history knows well that among the Islamic prophecies there is none that excels this prophecy as regards repetition. So much so that the Ulama [clerics] have written that whoever refuses to accept this prophecy, is in danger of falling victim to heresy. For, to deny the continuously-occurring reports (mutawatir) amounts almost to denial of Islam.
Contradictions introduced into Prophecy:
But it is a pity that in spite of this continuity, the Ulama of this age of corruption are greatly deceived in comprehending the real and true meaning of this prophecy, and because of gross misunderstanding, they have collected shameful contradictions in their beliefs. That is to say, on the one hand by believing in the Holy Quran and accepting the sound Hadith reports they had to admit that Jesus had, in fact, died, and on the other hand they also held the belief that at sometime Jesus, on whom be peace, himself will descend in the latter days, and that he is alive in heaven, not having died. Again, on the one hand they declared the Holy Prophet Muhammad as the Last of Prophets, and on the other they also maintained the belief that after the Holy Prophet a prophet is yet to come, i.e., Jesus, who is a prophet. Yet again, on the one hand they believed that the Promised Messiah would appear during the days of the dajjal (Anti-Christ), who will control the entire world except the two Holy Places (Makka and Madina). On the other hand, they had also to admit, in accordance with the sound, highly-reliable and uninterrupted reports in the Sahih Bukhari, that the Promised Messiah would appear at the time of the domination of the Cross, i.e., at that time the Christian religion would have vigorously spread in the world, and the power and wealth of the Christians would be unsurpassed by anyone else. Further, on the one hand they had to adopt the belief that the Messiah would be the ruler, the imam and the Mahdi of his time, while on the other they believed that the Messiah would not be the Mahdi and imam, but that the Mahdi would be someone else, who would be from the Bani Fatima.
In short, they gathered together many contradictions of this kind, thus putting the people in hesitation and doubt about the reliability of this prophecy. For, a matter which comprises many contradictions cannot possibly be true. Then how can the wise accept it, and how can they trample under foot their faculty of reason and follow this illogical path. That is why the modernly-educated people of the present age, who regard nature, laws of nature and the intellectual process as the criteria for the truth or otherwise of events, had to reject this prophecy, in spite of its highest order of continuity. And indeed, if this prophecy were to be interpreted in this very manner which embodies so many contradictions, then human intellect, after being unable to reconcile these contradictions, in the end concludes that the only way out of this confusion is to deny the truth of the prophecy. Hence this was why the devotees of natural laws and reason disowned this magnificent prophecy in spite of its often-repeated occurrence.
But it is a pity that even these people were very hasty in their denial, for no man of reason can deny continually repeated news. It is not possible for there to be a suspicion of falsehood regarding a report which reaches the degree of continuous repetition. Hence the path of justice and love of truth was that they should not have discarded the news of repeated continuity. Rather, they should have rejected those meanings which the foolish Maulvis [clerics] had given, which led to many kinds of inconsistencies, and to which they had also added many other contradictions. In fact, it is the fault of the Maulvis, whose understanding is defective, that by interpreting a plain and simple prophecy in such a way as to make it a bundle of contradictions, they put the truth-seeking people to great confusion and puzzlement.
True Interpretation of Prophecy:
Now the exalted God, having disclosed its true and correct meanings, which are quite free from contradictions and absurdities, has provided an opportunity to every justice-loving seeker-after-truth to accept this continuously repeated tradition and look for the one in whom it is fulfilled, and not join the rejectors by denying a clear prophecy of the Exalted God.
The detail of this explanation is as follows. In this age, by appointing me at the head of the fourteenth century (Hijra), the Exalted God manifested the logic of this prophecy, and made it clear that the second advent of the Messiah in this world was destined to be in the same sense and manner as the second advent in the world of the prophet Elijah recorded in the book of the prophet Malachi. For, it was pointedly mentioned in the book of Malachi that the Promised Messiah awaited by the Jews would not appear in the world until the prophet Elijah came into the world again. Had our opponents possessed something of good fortune and the quality of searching for the truth, they would have reaped much benefit from this prophecy of the prophet Malachi, on which the Jews and Christians both concur. For, according to the apparent meaning of Malachi’s book, it has to be admitted that Elijah has not yet returned to the world, even though about nineteen hundred years have elapsed since the Messiah appeared in the world. Therefore if, as is the literal meaning of the words of Malachi which the Jewish scholars strongly adhere to till this day, it is true that the personal return of Elijah to the world is necessary before the Messiah, in that case Jesus cannot be a true prophet. He can be taken to be true only if the return of the prophet Elijah is given a different interpretation. That is to say, by the return of Elijah should be meant the coming of one in his likeness, and that like was John, i.e., Yahya, the son of Zacharias, as was the interpretation given by Jesus upon the demand of the Jews. From this interpretation, which comes out of the mouth of a prophet, it becomes plainly clear that the second advent of the Messiah in the world is also akin to the return of Elijah. To turn away from a precedent that has been set, and to collect contradictions in one’s belief by taking the literal meanings, is the work of those people who have very little sense and understanding. Often the prophecies are dominated by allegories and metaphors. Nothing would be more foolish than to take some word of a prophecy literally, when by so doing many contradictions are collected together. It was exactly this practice which destroyed the Jews.
Messiah, not King in Literal Sense:
There was another similar prophecy about the Messiah, that he would be a king and would fight the infidels. The Jews stumbled over this also, because Jesus did not receive worldly kingship. That is why the Jews have been saying till now that not even one letter has been fulfilled till today out of the prophecies in connection with the Messiah. The Jews had put forward this very argument before Jesus, and had repeatedly pointed out that the return of Elijah to the world was necessary before the true Messiah, not that someone resembling him should come. For, in the book of the prophet Malachi the return of Elijah in person is mentioned. It is not written that “someone resembling him shall come”. However, Jesus gave them the reply that by the return of the prophet Elijah was meant the coming of one like him, having his nature and qualities, and he explained that that man was John, the son of Zacharias, i.e., Yahya. And as for the kingdom, he interpreted it by saying that “my kingdom is that of heaven and not of the world”. The Jews had considered these interpretations to be very far-fetched and to be feeble devices. They believe so till today, because they laid stress on the literal words of their books. It appeared that the Jews were on the right, for they put forth clear decisions of the holy books, while Jesus had made use of interpretations which appeared to be shallow and weak.
Our Ulama would have been very fortunate if they had remembered the story of the return of Elijah and taken a lesson from it, thus attaching the same meaning to the second descent of Jesus from the heavens as Jesus himself attached to the second descent of the prophet Elijah. Would that they had pondered over the point that the present writer’s interpretation of the descent of Jesus is not new. In fact, it is the same as the one already given by the tongue of Jesus, for the case of the descent of the Messiah, son of Mary, is entirely analogous to the case of the prophet Elijah. Hence, in view of the fact that till today this wish of the Jews has not been realized that the prophet Elijah should descend from heaven, and for this very reason they have been disbelievers in Jesus, how can the wish of the Maulvis be fulfilled that at some time Jesus will himself descend from the heavens. Wise is the one who takes a lesson from the stumbling of another. (Kitab al-Barriyya, pp. 172–181, footnote)