Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement) and the Renaissance of Islam
by Publicity Committee (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore)
We have gathered together this evening to celebrate the 34th death anniversary of that illustrious son of Islam who was the first to inspire the politically and morally fallen nation of the Musalmans [Muslims] of India that the time for the noonday glory of the sun of Islam was sure to come only if they carried the torch of the Holy Quran deep into the heart of the West. That is the new ground broken by Mirza Sahib [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] in the history of Islam and that too is a sufficient justification for his claims of being the Mujaddid [Reformer] and the Promised Messiah at the beginning of the 14th century Hijrah [Islamic Era]. His clairvoyant eye vividly visualised the advent of the Millennium as a physical reality and he could inspire the same apparently fantastic idealism into the hearts of his devoted disciples, who have since then ceaselessly accelerated their endeavours to rally the whole of the materialistic West under the banner of Islam. That, I think, is a unique achievement, considering specially the proper chronological perspective of the dark days of the decline and fall of the Mogul Empire in India. And I am confident that the future unbiased historian of Islam will ungrudgingly pay due homage to Mirza Sahib for this bold adventure.
Downfall of Islam’s Political Power:
Now let us look to the troubled times in which Mirza Sahib appears on the scene. The Mogul Empire in India was gone; Egypt was grabbed by British Imperialism. So was the Sudan raped after the ruthless butchery of the Mahdi. France had occupied northern Africa; Spain had gulped down Morocco; and Italy had swallowed Tripoli, now called Libya. Zanzibar was bisected among the Germans and the Britishers. Russia was making inroads on Iran and Turkistan. Afghanistan was a puppet in British hands, and even Turkey, the crowning political glory of Islam, was heaving her last breaths after her “chronic sickness”. The only remaining Muslim State of Mysore too disappeared after the grand martyrdom of Tipu Sultan, the swansong of the Imperial glory of Islam in India. This political annihilation of Islam gave to the age its fatal atmosphere of dark, unmitigated pessimism. Hali [an Indian poet] sings a most heartrending dirge on the political dilapidation of Islam in India. The clouds were now overcast with fatal gloom and the contemporary Muslims who thought that the revival of the glory of Islam could only be accomplished through the revival of empire now knocked their heads against the walls when they found that the political glory of Islam had been totally exterminated.
Attempts at Revival:
But soon after, the pendulum begins to swing to the other side. Many political, social and religious movements appeared, all aiming at the resuscitation of the glory of Islam in the world, but none survived enough to accomplish anything substantial. Such great heroes as Sayyid Jamaluddin Afghani, Sir Sayyid Ahmad, Saad Zaglul Pasha and Kamal Ataturk came and went, endeavouring to render some solid service to Islam in their own way. They did admirable work, but, after all, they only created a transitory superficial thrill in the religious life of Islam. The reason for this impermanence of their accomplishments was their wrong diagnosis of the ills of Muslims. They wrongly thought that the revival of the imperial glory would at once bring about the religious supremacy of Islam over the world. Jamaluddin set wholeheartedly to hammer out a Pan-Islamic Federation of the world of Islam under one caliph, the Vicegerent of Allah on earth. The dawn of Mahdi in Sudan too was inspired by the same motive. But soon this idealism ended in a fiasco and we see the rise of Western racial nationalism in Turkey, Iran and Arabia, thus sounding the death-knell of Jamaluddin’s Pan-Islamism. And much more deplorable is the fact that when these Muslim countries attained to their complete independence, they openly repudiated the political, sociological, educational, and economic scheme of Islam and blindly mimicked the Western technique in politics, education and social life. Iqbal’s penetrating analysis is more true of these Muslim countries than of India when he said:
ہے مملکتِ ہند میں اک طُرفہ تماشا
اسلام ہے محبوس، مسلمان ہے آزاد!
[“There is a strange spectacle in the country of India,
Islam is imprisoned; Muslims are free”]
These Muslim states, let alone the European countries, still deify their race, country and language. Religion is relegated to the personal and private life of individuals. But this is a Christian outlook diametrically opposed to the spirit of Islam. The Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (peace and blessings be on him) has taught us that the Holy Quran is a complete guide for every minutest detail of our life — be it spiritual, political, economic, educational or conjugal.
اِنَّ صَلَاتِیۡ وَ نُسُکِیۡ وَ مَحۡیَایَ وَ مَمَاتِیۡ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۶۲﴾ۙ
[“My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are surely for Allah, the Lord of the worlds” (The Holy Quran, 6:162).]
Sir Sayyid also made no less a blunder when he launched upon his propaganda that the deliverance of Islam lay in the Western education. But now after a century of bitter experience we are able to confess frankly that the greatest “good” this flippant education has done us is that it has turned us into anything but Muslims. If we ask the so-called educated Muslim man or woman of today any elementary question on Islam, he or she would fumble. The West has not only conquered our great empire, but the worst of it is that it has also hypnotised our mind and heart. And this is the unkindest cut of all. Unless the Muslims attain to a complete emancipation of their mind and soul from the fetters of the impious Western ideals, they cannot accomplish their goal of an Islamic State either in India or anywhere else in the world.
Well, the root cause of this political disintegration of Islam in the world and the utter failure of all these reformative movements is the deplorable absence of a living faith in a living God. God, Whose blessed names and attributes are innumerable, is now no longer a living force amongst us. We do not listen to Him and therefore we cannot hear Him communing with man. But Allah is not deaf and dumb like the stony gods of the heathens but is Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, exercising His imperial control over the whole universe.
A Silver Lining:
In the midst of this dark universal pessimism in the world of Islam, a silver lining appeared after all. A Mujaddid [Reformer] appeared at the head of the century and he set to revive, to begin with, the spiritual and the intellectual glory of Islam. Islam had fallen politically, but religiously too it had become so feeble that any Tom, Dick or Harry could dare attack it. Imagine Christianity, Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and such other pigmy little upstarts daring assault this fallen Titan. In the midst of this political and religious dilapidation of Islam, Mirza Sahib rose to the occasion. He revived the faith of Islam among Muslims and gave them the heavenly inspired tidings that the spiritual supremacy of Islam over the universe was imminent, that Antichrist, Gog and Magog will be smashed to bits, and Islam in its native glory and excellence would establish once again the Millennium on earth. Mirza Sahib awakened this slumbering Titan and brought back to it its lost spiritual and intellectual vitality and established it as an invincible system of religious thought against all mushroom upstarts. Mirza Sahib was the first man who felt correctly the pulse of the age.
It was Mirza Sahib only who, in that age of complete diffidence and scepticism, shouted from housetops that the God of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) and the Holy Quran were as living and invincible as ever, and who kept on proclaiming ceaselessly that the clue to the resuscitation of the glory of Islam lay in the revival of a living faith in a living God, in having a personal subjective communion with the Supreme Deity, and finally thus establishing the kingdom of Allah in our hearts. Mirza Sahib’s mission was to recreate and rejuvenate the spiritual and intellectual life of Islam, to interpret correctly the true spirit of Islam with special reference to the peculiar groundwork of the materialistic civilization of the West, to expose mercilessly the cant and hollowness of all other religious systems and thus finally to establish the impregnable supremacy of Islam in the universe.
Now, if we try to read beneath the causes and the terrific course of the present catastrophic war, we shall find a very strong corroboration of the vital importance of Mirza Sahib’s mission. What is, after all, at the back of this unprecedented cataclysm of the present war? Well, it is man’s lust for infinite power. Acquisition of wealth and self-aggrandizement are considered to be the highest purpose of life. A universal greed for the material wealth has usurped the place reserved for God in the heart of man. The Holy Quran refers to this state of affairs in the following words:
حَتّٰۤی اِذَا فُتِحَتۡ یَاۡجُوۡجُ وَ مَاۡجُوۡجُ وَ ہُمۡ مِّنۡ کُلِّ حَدَبٍ یَّنۡسِلُوۡنَ ﴿۹۶﴾
“Till the time comes when Gog and Magog are lot loose and they shall sally forth from every point of eminence” (The Holy Quran, 21:96).
These Gog and Magog are the Western peoples who have extended their imperialism in all the nooks and corners of the world; “Lebensraum” was and is their watchword. And they have also attained to every height of excellence, be it materialistic or intellectual. Iqbal too identified the same people when he said:
کھل گئے یاجوج اور ماجوج کے لشکر تمام
چشمِ مسلم دیکھ لے تفسیر حرفِ ینسلون
[“The hosts of Gog and Magog have all been unchained; the Muslim’s eye may behold the interpretation of the (Quranic) word yansiloon.”]
Then the Holy Quran tells us that these very people will soon rise in waves, one against another:
وَ تَرَکۡنَا بَعۡضَہُمۡ یَوۡمَئِذٍ یَّمُوۡجُ فِیۡ بَعۡضٍ
“And We will on that day leave a part of them rising in waves against another part” (The Holy Quran, 18:99).
And that is exactly which is happening today. After swallowing the whole of the inhabited space, this Western Imperialism is now engaged in an internecine strife, thus digging its own grave on the plains of Russia, Western Europe, the Middle East, Near East, India and America. But soon the Holy Quran reveals to us a silver lining in the sable clouds of this war of universal annihilation. And this ray of hope is the spiritual revolution of Islam that would engulf the whole space after the total extirpation of Western civilization. Then the whole of humanity would rally under the standard of Islam.
وَّ نُفِخَ فِی الصُّوۡرِ فَجَمَعۡنٰہُمۡ جَمۡعًا ﴿ۙ۹۹﴾
“And then the trumpet would be blown and We shall gather them together as one gathering” (The Holy Quran, 18:99).
Islam is the only religion that repudiates race, colour, creed, country or language, which are today universally regarded as the essentials of a nation, and thus Islam only has the ability to hammer out a homogeneous “Federation of Nations and Parliament of Men.” Now, what is going to be the new world order, when this cosmic conflagration will have ceased? Materialistic West will again turn to materialistic means for the creation of the new order. Whether it is going to be the Axis new order, or the Atlantic Charter of the Allied Nations, the brutal fact remains that these materialistic powers will never accomplish that permanent international justice, peace and prosperity which is being harangued from both sides. We cannot forget the tragic Treaty of Versailles. The next treaty is apparently not going to be a jot better than this. The only treaty that can save humanity from any future catastrophe and establish the ideal new world order should be a treaty which is fed on that humanitarian utterance of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (peace and blessings of God be on him) on the occasion of his victorious march into Makka:
لَا تَثۡرِیۡبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡیَوۡمَ ؕ
“This day, there shall be no reproach against you.”
The teachings of Islam only — a living faith in a living God Who sees and speaks even today and will continue to see and speak till eternity, the equality of man to man, a living faith in the day of reckoning — these essentials of Islam alone can shape an ideal future for man. Men of insight perceive this revolution in the air. And it is not at all a sentimental wishfulness to think that Islam is going to overwhelm the whole space. That would signify the advent of the Islamic Millennium which will dawn instantaneously when the false godhead of Christian Trinity, of stony statues and idols and of heinous ideological “isms” will be shattered to bits and the true God of Islam will come into His own. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is undoubtedly the Mujaddid and the Promised Messiah of this age because he was the first man who correctly interpreted the real identity of Antichrist, Gog and Magog, and who established it beyond any dispute on the solid basis of the Holy Quran that Christ, like other prophets, was dead, and that the Messiah to come would be one of the humble servants of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him). And he eventually proclaimed that the Promised Messiah was he, himself, raised to extirpate the Antichrist of the Western civilization, and to establish permanently the spiritual, the intellectual and consequently also the political supremacy of Islam over the universe.
Need of Mujaddids [Reformers]:
Some people may object here that since Islam is a perfect religion, where is the necessity of Mujaddids and what good accrues from our acknowledging Mirza Sahib to be the Mujaddid and the Promised Messiah of this age? Well, the answer to this is that all the genuine Ahadith [Sayings]of the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be on him), viz., Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, etc., emphasise that every century will have its Mujaddid and that when the Antichrist, Gog and Magog will sally forth on earth, the Promised Messiah will dawn upon earth, crush all these hellish forces out of existence and eventually establish the promised Millennium on earth. We cannot negate the integrity of these Ahadith. And Mujaddids come not to alter or add anything to religion but to re-establish and rejuvenate the faith of Islam in its native purity and excellence in the hearts of the people. We have already had many illustrious Mujaddids in the past. A tentative list of these is as follows:
|Umar bin Abdul Aziz||First|
|Imam Shafii and Imam ibn Hanbal||Second|
|Abul Hasan Ashari||Third|
|Abu Ubaid Nishapuri||Fourth|
|Ghaus-e-Azam Abdul Qadir Jilani||Sixth|
|Muin-ud-Din Chishti of Ajmer||Seventh|
|Ibn Hajar Asqalani||Eighth|
|Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri||Ninth|
|Mujaddid Alif Sani||Eleventh|
|Shah Waliullah Dehlawi||Twelfth|
|Syed Ahmad Barelvi||Thirteenth|
As for our own 14th century, who else can stand comparison with Mirza Sahib for being the Mujaddid of this age? His elixir for the ills of humanity and for the early advent of the Millennium on earth is the universal propagation of Islam in the world and thus to establish a living faith in a living God on earth. He and his devoted disciples have smashed all the false charges levelled against the majestic semblance of Islam and they are ceaselessly presenting Islam in its native excellence and beauty to the West:
- The Holy Quran has been translated, besides Urdu, into three European languages, viz. English, German and Dutch.
- The most authentic biography of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (peace and blessings of God be on him) is published in 17 different languages.
- Various illuminative books and pamphlets on Islam have been published into 30 different languages.
- Three missions have been already established in Europe and a fourth is being prepared for Spain.
- A mosque has been built in Berlin, the great centre of the Axis World.
These remarkable achievements are the result of a personal contact with the Mujaddid of the age. If the Muslims of India and the rest of the world throng to this mission and penetrate with the light of Islam into the dismal gloom of the present-day world, the dawn of the Millennium would be only a matter of time. Such eminent Western thinkers as Bernard Shaw, Mr. Gibb (the celebrated author of Whither Islam), Mr. W. J. Milburn (the American author of Religion of Every Land), and many others are already convinced of the probable supremacy of Islam in the world.
Messiah and Empire:
It is an age of politics and every mind is pre-occupied with considerations of political self-determination. This has misled even Muslims to suppose that the resuscitation of Islam depends entirely on the revival of the Muslim empire. The entire world of Islam has been entertaining notions of a bloody Mahdi and hence to associate the idea of the Millennium with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad seems to be ridiculous. The realisation of a Muslim empire is commonly considered to be the be-all and the end-all of the genuine Mahdi and the Promised Messiah. Therefore, people ask today:
“Well, you say that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the Promised Mahdi and Messiah; what achievement has he made? Where is the empire which alone is the real test of the Promised Messiah? Give us the empire and we shall acknowledge Mirza Sahib to be the Promised Messiah.”
This grave misunderstanding about the Promised Messiah reminds us of exactly a similar misunderstanding among the Jews which was the cause of the tragedy of Christ. The Israelites thought that Christ would be a magnificent, spectacular warrior who would restore to them the throne of David. But alas, this self-abnegating prophet of Nazareth, who was the greatest apostle of non-violent pacifism, disappointed their duped hopes and was therefore crucified by way of punishment at the hands of the worldly-ridden Jews. A similar tragedy has fallen to be the lot of Mirza Sahib in India. Christ’s people were the subjects of the Roman Government, but Christ did not begin precipitately with a rebellion against the existing Government. He rather turned to the reconstruction of the dilapidated house of his people. But his people were much too drunk with the glamour of the earthly kingdom and they soon repudiated him and thus themselves fell into the clutches of eternal servitude, humiliation and persecutions. Let us only think of the uncompromising universal Jew-baiting by the Nazis.
The Muslims of India also, who had recently lost their great empire, were so tipsied with the dazzle of the Sceptre and the Crown that they did not care to heed the more substantial reconstruction of their mind and soul. Their highest idealism amounted to the revival of a Muslim empire. But the ideal of religious leaders is never primarily mundane. The history of religions negates such a view. These saints and Mujaddids are solely concerned with creating a living faith in a living God and establishing the kingdom of God in every human heart.
Empire: A Fruit of Faith:
But when we firmly establish the theocracy of Islam in our hearts, empire must follow as a logical consequence. Let us look to the case of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The Prophet of Islam never aimed at empire; as a matter of fact, the nobility of Makka gladly offered him empire, wealth and woman as a bribe to bring his missionary propaganda to a standstill. And the superb reply given by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) will ever ring in the human heart till eternity:
“Even if you bring down the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left, I will never desist from my mission of Islam.”
A true Muslim attaches no importance to the mundane power of Imperialism. The true Islamic ideal is to establish the unity of God and the unity of man on earth and thus to found the kingdom of God on earth. This is the true national character of Islam. And a nation imbued with this character never runs after empires; rather empires run after it. That is exactly what happened in the case of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Such a national character is inevitably crowned with empire in the world because such nations alone have the right to be the legislators of the world.
Mirza Sahib also imitated the Prophet [Muhammad] (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and he set to recreate the true Islamic national character among the Muslims so that when they become the true sons of Islam, empire would automatically come in the wake. The watchword of a Muslim should not be “Empire First, and Islam afterwards.” That would be putting the cart before the horse. But their slogan should be “Islam First, and the empire must follow.” Muslims had lost this national Islamic character at the advent of Mirza Sahib. They were cheap entities whose faith, culture and loyalty to Islam could be bought and sold at cheap rates. Surely such a divided self-seeking body could not deserve an empire. So, before they rose again to the throne, they had to pass through an agonising process of intellectual and spiritual reconstruction. Mirza Sahib created this national character among his disciples by establishing in their hearts a living faith in a living God. He told us that each Muslim man and woman should have a personal communion with God. It is this faith that has inspired a handful of loyal sons of Islam to render that yeoman’s service to Islam the dimensions of which were never attempted before. The watchword now became:
“I will always put faith above and beyond worldliness.’’
Leaders of thought come and only sow the seed; it is for the devoted disciples to carry out those ideals into actual achievements. Much has been already accomplished to the credit of this great leader; but that is nothing when compared with the gigantic amount of work yet to be done. Islam is the religion for the whole of humanity, and is not our or our fathers’ monopoly. Islam repudiates race and country; it is a cosmic spiritual and cultural force. We need not be proud of our being Muslims; that is only a biological accident. A true Muslim cannot be a slave, both in the spiritual and the political senses of the term. But that does not mean that a mere empty prattle about independence is a reliable index to our Islam. Even if we get our Pakistan, it will be no honour to Islam unless the people of this Pakistan have a living faith in a living God, unless they have a spiritual communion with God and, in short, in whose hearts the kingdom of God is firmly established. Let our Pakistan be the theocratic dreamland of the Holy Quran and let it not degenerate into yet another Muslim nationalistic state, where, though Muslims are free and hale and hearty, Islam is in chains. Though we, as Muslims, are highly proud of these independent Muslim states, Islam is not a jot proud of them because the legislation there is not done by the Holy Quran but by the West-inspired code of nationalism. Let us make the Muslim League a league of true Muslims in whose hearts the kingdom of God is firmly established. Let our Pakistan be a true Pakistan where the Holy Quran will be the supreme legislator; and let this Pakistan bring back to the world the good old glory of the days of the Prophet [Muhammad] (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). And then let us establish it not only in the Muslim majority provinces of India, but in the whole world. That would be the advent of the much-awaited Millennium, the final realisation of the sacred mission of Mirza Sahib [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian].