4. The Muslim Christ
Mirza claimed to have seen Jesus and eaten a meal with him. One of Muhammad’s descendants was also present at the meal. When a list of the saints was produced, Mirza’s name was found on it with distinctive praise from God: 'He is to me like my unity and my Uniqueness ...'1 From this Mirza thought that he was the only one who could be appointed ‘Jesus among Muslims’.
For half of his life Mirza believed in an orthodox Islamic doctrine of the second coming of Jesus. At the beginning of his ministry he confirmed this but when he wrote a book, Izala Auham, he asserted that Jesus had died and would not return bodily.2 He declared that God had told him, ‘I created you from the same essence as Jesus was.’3 This led him to reason that as John the Baptist was Elijah in spiritual form, so he was Jesus in spirit (cf. Matthew 11:14; 17:12). He boldly asserted:
Jesus has given the news of my coming in the gospels. Blessed is he who, out of respect for Jesus, ponders with honesty and truth over my coming and thus saves himself from stumbling.4
The second Adam
In the Bible we find Jesus described not only as the Son of God and the Son of Man, but also as the last or second Adam (Romans 5:12-17; 1 Corinthians 15:22,47; Phillippians 2:5). Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did not want to be left behind and so he claimed: 'In this age God has created an Adam which is this humble one. ... God created me as the last Adam and exalted me above the previous mankind.' 5
To answer why and how, he reasoned:
God made Adam on the sixth day, and the sacred Scriptures further bear testimony to the fact that a day is equal to a thousand years with the Lord. The promises of God, therefore, make it necessary that the second Adam must have been born already...6
To substantiate his claim further, Mirza said that as God placed Adam in the garden eastward, his abode as the second Adam is in an Eastern country.
If by "sacred Scriptures" he meant the Bible then he ignored verses where the Bible states: "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day" (2 Peter 3:8). If it is the Qur’an he was referring to as the Scriptures, his theory does not fit there either. A day with God is described as a thousand years (Surah 32:5), whereas in another place such a day is described as fifty thousand years (Surah 70:4).
One can see that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's many statements are self-contradictory. For example, Allah told him: 'I created you from the same essence as Jesus', thus claiming equal status. Elsewhere, however he exalted himself above Jesus. He often stated: 'God has informed me that the Muslim Messiah is more exalted than was the Mosaic Messiah.'7
Even greater miracles
On the basis of the Qur’an narrative, Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and that he was both a prophet and the promised Messiah who performed miracles. He healed the sick and raised the dead through the divine power of Allah. But they read in the Qur’an that Muhammad did not have such power (Surah 29:50). One may learn from twenty or more Qur’anic passages that whenever Muhammad was asked by doubters to perform a miracle, he either stayed silent or said he would not do so because he was a ‘plain warner and a prophet’. In Mirza’s opinion, if Muhammad could not perform miracles, neither could Jesus. Mirza obviously felt threatened by the miracles of Jesus. Thus he came to disagree with both Christians and Muslims. He wrote:
A matter which is not possible for the Holy prophet [Muhammad] - the best of prophets ... how can it be so for the Messiah! [Jesus]? It would be so derogatory to the Holy prophet to think that what is impossible for him to attain, is possible for the Messiah.8
Elsewhere he writes: "Jesus restored people to life through mesmerism or hypnotism ... The New Testament, when examined closely, reveals that Jesus Christ practised this art, not with perfect success, however. The people among whom he lived were simple, unsophisticated people and ignorant of this art." He called this method ‘Amal-at-Tirb’ and also asserted that the ‘practitioner need not even be a believer’.9 The text of the New Testament clearly contradicts these assertions.
This kind of criticism is not new. Even when Jesus’ contemporary opponents saw his miracles, they put forward their own explanation, ‘By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons’ (Luke 11:15). Jesus simply pointed out that it was by means of God’s power that he drove out demons (Luke 11:22). Interestingly the Qur’an also confirms that Jesus did miracles "by God’s leave" (Surah 3:49) and yet Mirza ignored this.
Mirza further stated: 'There is no statement by Jesus which could be taken as proof that miracles had actually been shown.'10 But note what Jesus said to the Jews:
The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep ... I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me? (John 10:25,32. cf. Matthew 11:20-24).
In his zeal, Mirza Ahmad went further and stated: 'I do not consider that Jesus Christ in any way surpasses me. ... I have been given the word of God just as he was given the word of God. As miracles are ascribed to him, so I find myself with certitude the recipient of those miracles - nay, even greater miracles than those.'11
What a surprise! Muhammad, who is traditionally described as the master of this world and the world to come, did not perform miracles and yet Mirza, who regarded himself as the servant of Muhammad, claimed the power to perform them, and "even greater miracles than Christ". Thus, he made himself greater even than Muhammad, an idea which is blasphemous to Muslims.
Mirza often resorted to devious and contrived arguments to explain away traditions about the coming of the Christ in person. Some of his explanations are not only irrational but also ludicrous. For example consider the following:
In the third volume of Baraheen Ahmadiyya He (God) named me as Mariam. Then, as is evident from Baraheen ... I was reared in the image of Mary for two years. ... Then I was filled with the soul of Christ and I became pregnant in a metaphorical sense. At last after a period of many months - lasting not more than ten months - I was delivered from Mary into the form of Christ ... Hence in this way I became the son of Mary.12
In other words he became Mary, got pregnant, and then from his own abdomen he came forth as the Christ, son of Mary. One problem still remained. Muslim tradition states that the son of Mary will descend on the white minaret to the east of Damascus.13 In response, Mirza commented that Damascus was only a synonym for his home town of Qadian and that since he lived on the eastern edge of the town, the tradition could be validated.14 However the tradition expected Christ to descend on a white minaret which was unfortunately not there. So Mirza laid the foundation of a minaret in Qadian in 1903. The minaret was completed only after his death.
Five or fifty volumes?
He promised his reader 50 volumes of his book, Baraheen Ahmadiyya, and the first four volumes appeared in rapid succession. Some of his readers had paid subscriptions for further volumes at his request, but had to wait for two decades to see the fifth and the last volume published in 1903. He wrote in the preface:
Earlier, I had thought of writing 50 volumes. But now I have confined myself to five since the difference between 5 and 50 is just that of one dot. Therefore, the promise has been fulfilled by the publication of five volumes.15
Prophecies against opponents
A good prophet must have the gift of prophecy. Mirza Ahmad thought likewise. Jesus prophesied; so should Mirza, the Masih Maw’ud (the promised Messiah). When several of his predictions did not happen, he and his followers had to resort to evasive explanations.
A Muslim opponent
Mirza Ahmad offered prayer in opposition to a Maulvi called Sana-Ullah, saying that the one who was in the wrong should die of bubonic plague or cholera in the lifetime of the one who was in the right. In 1907 he advertised his prayer as an open letter to Sana-Ullah:
O, my beloved Master! ... If my claim to being the Christ is my own innovation then I am a liar ... I pray to thee to kill me in Maulvi Sana-Ullah’s lifetime and ... if Sana-Ullah is not truthful in his allegations against me then I pray to annihilate him in my lifetime... not through human hands but through bubonic plague and cholera...16
One year and 21 days later Mirza Ghulam Ahmad died. Whether he died of a plague or natural circumstances, that is not our concern. Here one can see that the death of one in the lifetime of the other was the main condition. He died in 1908 while Maulvi Sana-Ullah lived for another 40 years. To reply to such objections, Ahmadis in their discussions argue that since the Maulvi himself had established a new criterion that God grants respite to liars and deceivers and grants them a long lease of life, thus God bestowed a long life on him to prove the Maulvi a liar.
An apostate disciple
Dr. Abdul Hakim, an Ahmadi disciple who served Mirza for about 20 years, rebelled against him and wrote two books, Al-masih Ad’dajjal and Kana Masih. He too made excessive claims of divine revelation. On July 12th, 1906 he published an advertisement saying that within three years Mirza would die. Mirza was quick to respond and said that those who were accepted by God could not be overcome. He warned Hakim of a calamity approaching him and that the angels were ready to take his life with sharp swords.17
This did not worry the former disciple. Instead of recanting, he made further claims, saying that Mirza would die by August 4th, 1908. In reply Mirza published an advert with a revelation from God stating that God would avenge his enemies and would increase Mirza’s age but would decrease the age of his enemy.18 Unexpectedly Mirza died before his enemy in May 1908. The apostate disciple was still alive and lived for several more years.
The heavenly marriage
Mirza made a prophecy concerning a young Muslim woman named Muhammadi Begum. He wanted to marry her but her father refused the match. To achieve his object, he claimed that God had wed her to him, as Zaynab had been married to Muhammad (Surah 33:37). He claimed to have received revelation to this effect: "God almighty will bring Muhammadi Begum to you as a virgin or a widow ... He will certainly fulfil this and no one can stop Him."19 When he found out that the girl was to be married to someone else, he threatened her parents and claimed to have received another revelation from the Lord, to warn the girl’s father:
Tell him to establish a relationship with you by giving his elder daughter in marriage to you and thus obtain light from your light ... Tell him that if he persists in carrying out any different design, his household will become subject to some serious misfortunes, the last of which would be his death within three years of the marriage of his daughter to someone else ... the husband of his daughter will also die within two years and a half. This is a divine decree.20
In spite of such efforts the girl was married to another person. Despite the divine decree his wedding to Muhammadi Begum never took place. Ahmadis believe that since the family sought forgiveness and began to take the pledge of fidelity at the hands of Mirza Ahmad, God forgave them.
In 1893 a series of debates on the subject of the Trinity was held between Mirza Ahmad and Abdullah Atham, an elderly Muslim convert to Christianity. The debate continued for more than two weeks, attracting many people to listen to the written and verbal arguments. On the last day, out of the blue, Mirza prophesied that whichever of the two debaters was speaking lies would die within fifteen months unless he turned to the truth.21
Abdullah Atham was already a sixty-five year old man in poor health. However fifteen months passed and he was still safe and sound. Mirza however tongue in cheek, argued that though Atham appeared to be alive, in fact he was spiritually dead. He claimed that Atham was afflicted with inner fear and guilt.22
Mirza’s son Bashir-ud-din wrote that Atham ‘stopped all his work in support of Christianity. He stopped speaking and writing’. Bashir claimed that Atham in fact began to have doubts about Jesus’ divinity. The truth of Islam began to dawn on him. He retreated and thus did not die during that period.23
But how could this be true? In those 15 months Atham had in fact completed his book, Khulasa Mubahisa, which contained many arguments for the integrity of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus. In a letter that appeared in a local newspaper, Atham wrote that he was still a Christian and was thankful to God for it.24
Jesus of the Qur’an
Mirza Ahmad did not deny the stories of the unique birth of Jesus as mentioned in the Qur’an, but he and his editors always tried to belittle their importance. Adam, too, ‘had neither father nor mother’. According to him, ‘Thousands of worms are brought into existence without any father.’25 He became disrespectful towards Jesus and accused him of being vulgar, a drunkard, cowardly, a blasphemer, a failure and one who had friendship with women of ill-repute.26 He argued that Jesus, who claimed to be God, said previous prophets were thieves and robbers; such a Jesus is nowhere mentioned in the Qur’an.27
This enraged the orthodox Muslims of his time who branded him a heretic. In his reply, he accused Christians of being abusive and making false charges against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Thus he justified his abuse of Christ as a tit for tat response. A similar line against Jesus has been adopted by some orthodox Muslims. Ahmad Deedat of the International Islamic Propagation Centre in South Africa is one example. In his booklet on the crucifixion, he attacks the person of Jesus on numerous occasions, and uses phrases like: "the hot and cold blowing of Jesus ... Now, he must pay the price of failure." Elsewhere, he boasts: "Jesus had doubly miscalculated" and says that Jesus was the "most unfortunate of all God’s messengers".28 In another of his booklets, Deedat denounces the biblical account of the conception of Jesus as "gutter language".29
Mirza Ahmad developed a great dislike of Christians and Christian missionaries in India. Anyone who opposed him was declared: "a Christian, a Jew, a heretic and a hellish person".30 Following Christ’s example, Christians had also directed their missionary work towards the very low-caste and outcast people of India. The success of the Christian gospel among them was sneeringly conceded by Mirza.
In the Punjab Census Report for 1901 his name was confused with that of Mirza Imam-ud-Din (his cousin and opponent), who was preaching orthodox Islam among the low-caste and the untouchable community. He was very upset and sent a petition to the authorities stating that it was a disgrace to represent him as being connected with that community and therefore harmful to his reputation.
In contrast to Christian efforts, Mirza said that his mission was only for the intelligent and high-class people. His principles and doctrines were "accepted only by intelligent and noble-minded men". He boasted that his followers were mostly the ‘Raises (chiefs), Jagirdars (landowners), respected government officials, merchants, advocates and highly educated young men’.31
Jesus sat and lived with outcasts and low-caste people to bring them into the Kingdom of God. Mirza, who claimed to be similar to Jesus in all qualities, did not consider the low-caste and the untouchable community in need of salvation. One wonders then on what grounds he could claim to have been so closely like Jesus in every respect.32
Jesus’ attitude towards sinners is clearly expressed in the Christian Scriptures. He said: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). We find him abolishing death and bringing life and immortality through the gospel. He prayed for his enemies: "Father! Forgive them! " (Luke 23:34). In contrast, Mirza Ahmad, the self-styled Muslim Christ, engaged in prayer duels, calling down the punishment of death upon some of his detractors, and predicting the death of his enemies.
When Jesus was cursed and abused on the cross, he did not answer back with a curse or offer insult in return. He made no threats of vengeance, nor was any deceit found in his mouth (John 12:47; 1 Peter 2:22-23). Mirza too, admits that those who are in spiritual leadership should have patience, self-control and forgiveness. According to his own saying, the Imam-e-zaman (the spiritual leader of his Age), should not be of an immature nature, given to fits of rage at the slightest provocation. Such a person can in no way be considered the Imam of his Age.33 Contrary to his own suggestion, the manner in which Mirza dealt with his critics reveals him to be a person lacking in decency and decorum. Two references are enough:
Verily our enemies are swine of the wilderness and their women are worse than bitches.’34 ‘And he who refuses to be convinced of our victory is evidently inclined to be called a bastard.35
In his speeches and writings he would not only curse his opponents but write the word ‘CURSE’ many times as a primitive form of emphasis. In one case there are ten repetitions when writing about the Maulvi Sana-Ullah,36 and one thousand times in a particular reference to Christians.37 Ahmadis today believe that Mirza used the harsh language by way of retort. It was his opponents who first used such language against him and thus Mirza showed contempt for his opponents and adversaries.
Notes on Chapter 3:
- Baraheen Ahmadiyya, vol. III, pp. 253-254 (footnote).
- ibid., Vol. IV, pp. 361, 499,505 (footnotes); Izala Auham, p.473
- Hamama al-Bushra, p.14.
- Jesus in India, English tr., p.39.
- Taryaq-ul-Qulub, pp.156-157.
- How to get rid of the bondage of sin, p.11.
- Kishti Noh, p.16.
- Tawzih Miram, English tr. pp.6-7
- Three Questions Answered, p.46.
- ibid., p.62.
- Fountain of Christianity, pp.33-34.
- Kashti Noh, pp. 46-47.
- Mishkat Al-Masabih, Vol.. II, p.1146.
- Izala Auham, footnotes on pages 63,64,75.
- Baraheen Ahmadiyya, Vol. 5, Preface, p.7.
- Advert 15 April, 1907, Majmua Ishtiharat, vol..3, p.579.
- Advert 16 August 1906, Majmua Ishtiharat, vol..3, p.559.
- Chashma Marifat p.321 ff.
- Izala Auham, p.396.
- Ayena Kamalat Islam, pp.572-573.
- Advert 5 June 1893, Majmua Ishtiharat, vol..1, p.434.
- Anjam Atham, pp.10-11.
- Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, pp. 249-251.
- Berni, Qadiyyani Madhab, Ed.9th, p. 325.
- Review of Religions, I, p. 72.
- Anjam Atham, Appendix.
- ibid., p.13.
- Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction?, p.23.
- Christ in Islam, p.24.
- Nazul-i-Masih, p.4
- Review of Religions, II, p. 83.
- Izala Auham, p.124.
- Zarurat-ul-Imam, p. 8.
- Najmul Huda, p. 10.
- Anwar al-Islam, p.30
- Ijaz Ahmadi, p.38.
- Nur al-Haqq, pp.118-122.