The Star that Guides
English translation of ‘Najm-ul-Huda’
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
Introductory Remarks / Foreword
Najm-ul-Huda was written in a time, late 19th century, when the Christian mission work in India was exceedingly aggressive and the defence as put forth by Muslims in this country was comparatively weaker. The Muslims lacked self-assurance and what was seriously contemplated by the Christian missionaries to be the weakest point in the Muslim religious personality was the loss of faith in a living God. This was perhaps the most difficult time in the history of Islam because the Religion had, unfortunately, succumbed to the miseries of a civilisation which had never before experienced such a catastrophe. There were talks of compromises, alliances and of outright rejection almost everywhere. Whatever be the complexion of the scene, it is quite certain that the Muslims had not only lost their political freedom, they had lost the sense of direction also. The task before Hazrat Mirza [Ghulam Ahmad] Sahib was therefore of a greater magnitude and responsibility. His mission as Mujaddid [Reformer] should be evaluated within the perspective which determines the history of the period.
Hazrat Mirza Sahib was constrained to work within a milieu which was adverse to the ideas he proclaimed as the basic truths of his divine ministry. It should not be forgotten that he did his writing when the English were here and that the British Government had a soft corner for the missionaries, who, by no mere accident, also came from the British Isles. Hazrat Mirza Sahib had no option; he had to accept the political situation as it stood then and had to work untiringly for the greater glory of Islam within that situation. Critics have given wrong and misleading interpretation to his commitment in relation to his loyalty to the British Government. To all practical purposes Hazrat Mirza Sahib’s acceptation of the political situation was in no way a compromise with the alien power. He was actually all against it; he in fact challenged it on higher levels.
The last decades of the nineteenth century were one of the dark decades of our history. We were the victims and the Europeans were our tormentors! In our eyes the word: Europe, stood for our complete annihilation; it also stood for power, culture and material wealth. Things and events obeyed the Europeans; in India the English controlled them. Islam had no doubt a glorious past to its credit, but it had only recently come out as a looser. We existed as a matter of history only. In retrospect we found our glory to be in ruins; in the future we, however, found nothing but blankness. It is rather easier today to talk of the future, but in those days the future just did not exist for us. We lived and existed in the present and there was an end to it.
Hazrat Mirza Sahib restored our faith in a living God. He said that we were no longer the people whom God had deprived of His grace. His providence still worked for us and that we had only to feel it in our heart. Hazrat Mirza Sahib made us feel God as a living experience and thereby abridged for us the distance that lies between the infinite and the finite. Such mystical education was really valuable, because the Aligarh movement was then using a phraseology which had by rationalising Islam obscured the divine presence and had made God at once impersonal, indifferent and abstract.
By establishing God as a living experience and His providence as an active agent in the movement of our affairs, Hazrat Mirza Sahib revealed to us the image of the future which had never been read before by us with as much confidence. He disclosed to us the advent of Muslim renaissance and made us realise that the possibilities of the future were once again entrusted to us by the providence. He made us see that Islam was the only true religion that suited the rhythm of the modern times. It is, however, interesting to note that his contemporaries behaved apologetically and thereby had failed to present Islam with assurance. In this respect, Hazrat Mirza Sahib was the only solitary figure who proclaimed the role and significance of Islam in the world of today without the least hesitation. He was positive, assertive and full of confidence in his ministry. And it is in this direction that his importance as a teacher lies for us even today.
Najm-ul-Huda may be read in the light of what has been said above. The book is, no doubt, a product of its own times but it still possesses its charm and appeal for us. It is never late to remind ourselves that there are better worlds for us than the one we are actually living in. Najm-ul-Huda takes us back to the days when things were so difficult for us and by so doing it makes us realise our responsibility in the world of today.
As regards the language of the book, it seems appropriate to say beforehand that Najm-ul-Huda was originally written in Arabic, from where it was translated into Urdu. The style and the rhetorical requirements of the times were such that the author had to write on the traditional lines. It is perhaps for that, that a good deal of orientalism has come into the English version. But once it is borne in mind that the original work is in Arabic, it would not be difficult correspondingly to make the necessary adjustments.
Najm-ul-Huda was rendered into English by the late Khan Bahadur Abul Hashim Khan Chowdery in 1933. This is a revised edition of the same.
The present edition of the book is being published from the donation contributed by late Dr. Ghulam Muhammad for the works of the Promised Messiah.
December 25, 1960