3. Manifold Visions, and Claims
Behind each of Mirza Ahmad’s claims, there lies a revelation, vision or dream. He believed everything he saw and heard; totally convinced, he built up a list of claims.
The claim to be a reformer
In one dream, he saw the body of a dead person lying outside a door. It was miraculously brought to life by Muhammad, who gave Mirza a fruit to eat. Mirza also met other ‘divines’ (a seer) and saints, but found that he was the only one to whom a fruit was given. From this dream, Mirza concluded that the dead person represented the religion of Islam and that Allah would revive it through his own mission.1 Such dreams led him to declare himself a reformer.
He did not mention this claim in the first two volumes of his book, Baraheen Ahmadiyya. This led many to question the extent he had been influenced by the praise lavished on him by Muslim readers of the first volume of his book. Others however saw nothing new in his claims, since at that time two other self-styled reformers were active: Bahaullah in Iran and Muhammad Ahmad in Sudan.
The claim to be the Imam
Not content with being a simple reformer for Sunni Muslims, he soon announced he was the Imam of the Shi’a sect: "I have no hesitation in confirming that I am the Imam of the Age."2 Shi’a Muslims however believe that all the twelve Imams were descendants of Ali, Muhammad’s son-in law. It was certainly not possible for Mirza to prove such an ancestry. To solve this problem, he said that one of his grandmothers had been a descendant of Muhammad, his only proof being that God had told him this in a dream. "I had confirmation of this by the Holy Prophet who said to me in a dream: ‘Salman, thou art one of us, of excellent descent.’"3 However in another vision he saw Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law. Fatima, Ali’s wife treated him as her son and Ali gave him his own Tafsir, a commentary on the Qur’an.4 Possibly considering he needed more proof, he claimed to have had yet another vision to become Ali.5
Mirza made every effort to unite every sect of Islam under the one umbrella of the Ahmadiyyat. "He who refuses to follow me," he said, "is an enemy of God and his prophet. He shall be cast into hell."6
The claim to be a prophet
To orthodox Muslims, Muhammad is the last prophet. After him there will be no messenger from Allah sent to mankind. Support for this doctrine is found in the following verse of the Qur’an:
Muhammad is not the father of any men among you, but he is the messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the prophets ... (Surah 33:40).
On the one hand Mirza wrote that the Qur’an did not allow any prophet, old or new, after Muhammad7, and on the other, he claimed to be a prophet himself! He said he was a Muhaddith thus a kind of Nabi (prophet). In his opinion, a Muhaddith is not a full prophet, but is nevertheless a prophet.8
Many rejected this claim and branded him a heretic. As a result, he read a statement at a public meeting denying any sort of prophethood for himself. He stated that all the expressions of prophethood used in his publications were used only for the sake of simplicity.9 Even so, the temptation to claim prophethood was so great that he later claimed that no prophet had come into this world whose name was not given to him and there had been no prophet whose qualities he himself had not been given. This resulted in a lot of confusion, even among his own followers. In 1901, to settle the matter once and for all, he wrote a brochure, Ek Ghalati Ka Izala - A Misunderstanding Removed, in which he pointed out:
Wherever I have denied being a prophet (Nubuwat) I have denied in the sense that I am no independent bearer of a Law or Shariah nor am I an independent prophet, prophet in my own right. ... I am a Rasul (Apostle, messenger) and Nabi (prophet) without a new Shariah.10
To make the whole matter simple, the movement today believes that ‘the attainment of prophethood independently of the Holy Prophet (Muhammad) is not possible’11 In their view prophets are of three types:
- a. Law-bearing.
- b. Non-law bearing, i.e. fully independent.
- c. Non-law bearing, but through allegiance to a law-bearing prophet.
Mirza Ahmad is believed by his followers to be in class "c".12 The dissident group, the Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman, believe that he was just a reformer.
The claim to be Krishna of the Hindus
Whilst Islam has made a great impression on the lives of the people of the Indian sub-continent, the Muslim population as a whole has remained as culturally Indian as the Hindus. Over the years Muslim mysticism in India has provided a way for believers to worship at their own holy shrines. Similarly, many other rituals of devotion from Hindu culture have found their way into popular Islam. There have even been those who have thought of the Hindus as People of the book, a title given only to Jews and Christians in the Qur’an. Shah Abdal-Aziz of Delhi, a noted theologian and Mufti - Muslim jurist (1746 - 1824) was asked his opinion of Krishna. He replied: "It is better to be silent about these matters. However from the ‘Bhagavadgita’ [a Hindu holy book] it appears that Krishna does belong to the awliya - saints.’13
Mirza claimed to have a vision in which a Hindu inquired: "Where is Krishna of the Hindus?" Someone from the crowd pointed to Mirza and those who were present began to bring offerings to him. One of them called out: "O, Krishna, slayer of swine, protector of cows ... thy praise is recorded in Geeta."14
In his book, ‘Haqiqat-ul-Wahi’, Mirza wrote, "I am Krishna whose advent the Aryans are waiting for in these days. I do not make this claim on my own. God Almighty has conveyed to me repeatedly that I am the Krishna, King of the Aryans, who was to appear in the latter days."15
Ahmad did not even spare the Sikhs of the Punjab. He claimed to be their leader too. He wrote a book on the life of their leader Guru Nanak (1469-1538) entitled Sat Bachon. It was essential for him to prove first that Guru Nanak, the founder, was a Muslim. Not many Hindus or Sikhs believed Mirza, but today the movement exalts Krishna, Buddha, Confucius and Zoroaster, as prophets from Allah.
The claim to be God and the Son of God
Mirza saw himself in visions as both God and the Son of God. God is alleged to have told him: "You are to Me in the position of offspring. You have a relation with me which the world does not know. . .16 You are to me like My unity and uniqueness . . .17 To me you are like my Son ..."18 "God addressed me with His words: ‘Listen! O my Son.’"19 In other places, he claimed to have been God. "In a vision I saw that I was God and believed myself to be such ... Divinity coursed through my veins and muscles ... I then created the heaven and the earth ... then I said: ‘We shall now create man! ’"20
Muslim divines were incensed by such ideas and opposed him vigorously. His response was: "No one has the right to say: ‘I am God’; or, ‘I am the Son of God." In his opinion divine revelation sometimes employs such ‘metaphorical expressions’.21
Notes on Chapter 3:
- Baraheen Ahmadiyya, vol. III, pp.248-249 (footnote).
- Zaroorat-ul-Imam, p.24.
- Ek Ghaliti Ka Izala, p.8(footnote); English trans. p.23. [Salman Farsi was an immigrant from Persia who was emancipated by Muhammad personally. Thus it is not surprising that Mirza borrowed his name to identify himself with the land where the Shia sect is dominant.]
- Baraheen Ahmadiyya, vol.4, p.503 (footnote).
- Ayena Kamalate Islam, pp. 218 - 219,(footnote).
- Tabligh-i-Risalat, vol. 9, p.27.
- Izala Auham, p.761
- Tawzih Maram, p.18; tr. Explanation of objectives, p. 11
- Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol. II, page 95.
- A Misunderstanding Removed, (pp.11-12).
- Ahmadiyyat, p.37.
- ibid., p.58.
- Muhammad Ikram, Rud-i-Kawther, Lahore 1979, p.591.
- Badr, Vol. II, p.322; Al-Hakam, Vol. 15, p.8.
- Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, appendix, p.85.
- Fountain of Christianity, p.63.
- Baraheen Ahmadiyya, Vol. IV, p.489 (footnote).
- Haqiqatul Wahi, p.86.
- Al-Bushra, Vol.1, p.49.
- Kitab al-Bariyah, pp. 85-87.
- Dafeul Bala, pp. 6-7 (footnote).