Death anniversary of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Friday Khutba by Dr Zahid Aziz, for Lahore Ahmadiyya UK, 26 May 2023
“Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will surely make them successors in the earth as He made those before them successors, and that He will surely establish for them their religion, which He has chosen for them, and that He will surely give them security in exchange after their fear. They will serve Me, not setting up any partner with Me. And whoever is ungrateful after this, they are the transgressors.” — ch. 24, v. 55
وَعَدَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مِنۡکُمۡ وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ لَیَسۡتَخۡلِفَنَّہُمۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ کَمَا اسۡتَخۡلَفَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہِمۡ ۪ وَ لَیُمَکِّنَنَّ لَہُمۡ دِیۡنَہُمُ الَّذِی ارۡتَضٰی لَہُمۡ وَ لَیُبَدِّلَنَّہُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ خَوۡفِہِمۡ اَمۡنًا ؕ یَعۡبُدُوۡنَنِیۡ لَا یُشۡرِکُوۡنَ بِیۡ شَیۡئًا ؕ وَ مَنۡ کَفَرَ بَعۡدَ ذٰلِکَ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡفٰسِقُوۡنَ ﴿۵۵﴾
Today is the 115th anniversary of the death of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. It is therefore appropriate to say a few words about his mission and his services to Islam. This verse which I have recited promises Muslims that Allah will safeguard their religion through raising up among them successors to the Holy Prophet Muhammad just as among the Israelites before them there was a long line of successors after Moses. This verse refers to the coming of Mujaddids among Muslims and saints or auliya who receive inspiration from God. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have been appointed by Allah as a Mujaddid, or reviver of religion and reformer of the Muslims. In line with this verse, he also stated that the history of Muslims after the Holy Prophet Muhammad bears a great similarity to the history of the Israelites after Moses, both in terms of its ups and its downs. The upside was that the kind of work for which prophets came among the Israelites — to bring them back to the worship of the One God — Allah raised saints among Muslims to do similar work. This upside was required because the downside was that Muslims, who had been given their religion through the Holy Prophet Muhammad, would later deviate from their religion and go wrong in a similar manner to how Israelites deviated from their religion which had been brought to them by Moses. And their deviations are described in detail on both the Quran and the Bible.
Hazrat Mirza sahib gave several reasons why Mujaddids are required. One is to continue the work which the Holy Prophet Muhammad did by means of the Quran. He wrote a book, among his very many books, entitled Shahādat-ul-Qur’ān. Its purpose was to show how, according to the Quran itself, Mujaddids will arise. In this book he also uses other terms for them such as spiritual khalīfas (“successors”), “spiritual teachers” (rūḥānī mu‘allim), “heirs” (wārith) and “deputies of the Prophet” (nā’ib-i rasūl). He quotes the well-known verse of the Quran in which Allah says: “Surely We have revealed the Reminder (i.e., the Quran), and surely We are its Guardian” (15:9), and writes that: “This makes it clear that this Word of God shall endure forever, and such persons shall constantly be arising who shall keep its teachings fresh and convey its benefits to the people.”
He goes on to write that the Holy Prophet came to deliver the two main functions of the Quran: (1) to teach the wisdom, the knowledge and the fine points of the Quran, and (2) to display its spiritually purifying power which cleanses the soul. “The guarding of the Quran”, he writes, “is not only to take great care of its manuscripts … but what is meant here is the preserving of the function and the efficacy of the Quran along with its textual preservation”. And this guarding can only be done, he says, “if, from time to time, assistants or deputies of the Holy Prophet come (nā’ib-i rasūl) who reflect the blessings of prophethood”. And their achievement will be that “the religion shall be revived at their hands and security shall be established after the prevalence of fear, i.e. they shall come at times when there would be disruption in the house of Islam”. By security being established he means that the Mujaddids arise at a time when Islam is facing tremendous challenges to its teachings, and the religious leaders of the Muslims are unable to meet those challenges, and Muslims are perplexed and worried about the survival of their religion. The Mujaddids in that situation are guided by Allah on to how to defend and save Islam, and through their work they make the Muslims feel safe and secure.
Hazrat Mirza sahib writes further: “Although it cannot be denied that the textual preservation of the Quran is of a higher standard than for any other book in the world, and it is also miraculous, still it can never be imagined, in the case of God Who looks to matters spiritual, that by guarding is meant merely the preservation of words and letters.”
Referring to the fact that the Quran is called a dhikr in this verse and in many other places, he writes: “In fact, the word dhikr clearly testifies that the Quran shall be preserved in its capacity as the dhikr till the Day of Judgment, and its true dhākirs (i.e., those reminding people of its teachings) shall ever continue to appear.”
Another reason he mentions as to why it is necessary that Mujaddids and inspired saints arise from time to time among Muslims is in order to convince them in their hearts of the truth of spiritual realities, such as the existence of God and His sending His revelation to humanity. You can give people these teachings in words, and they can read them in the Quran, but they need some sort of living proof which should come again and again in the world because, as he points out, “no one has ever seen God or paradise or hell or met angels”. Furthermore, in order to act on the commands of God, people need to have certainty in the truth of religion, and this is very difficult for people who are living a very long time after the time of the Holy Prophet. He writes:
“It is clear that the depth of true faith shown by the Companions of the Holy Prophet, and the great sincerity with which they sacrificed their possessions, lives and names in the path of Islam, was not to be found even in the people of the second century, let alone the later centuries. What was the reason for this? It was just this: that the Companions, God be pleased with them, had seen the face of this Man of Truth whose being a lover of God was testified to spontaneously even by the tongues of the disbelieving Quraish. … Then they realised that God exists, and their hearts cried out that that God was with this man.”
God could not deprive people of later generations of similar experiences, so He sent Mujaddids, in whose lives they could see God acting and supporting them. Otherwise, although they might believe in the religion superficially but it would not be with the depth or fervour of faith which makes them eager to follow religion. Hazrat Mirza sahib writes that, as God is Raḥmān and Raḥīm (Beneficent and Merciful), He cannot punish people for their rejection of His message, or their laxity and slackness in acting upon it, if He has not made arrangements to prove to them, fully and properly, that the Quran is from Him, and left them without knowledge of the virtues, merits and blessings that are in His holy Book.
He also explains that in every age proving the truth of Islam has to be done in a different way, according to the needs and the problems of that age: “for every age the conclusive proving of the truth of Islam takes place in a different sense, and the Mujaddid of the time comes with the powers, faculties and qualities upon which depends the reformation of the prevalent evils of the time.” He writes further:
“The Quran is certainly a reservoir of all knowledge, but that does not imply that all the knowledge in it was disclosed in just one age (i.e. at the time of the Holy Prophet). On the contrary, corresponding to the kinds of problems that are faced the appropriate Quranic knowledge is disclosed, and corresponding to the issues of every age, for the resolving of those issues spiritual teachers are sent who are the heirs of the messengers of God. … And the Mujaddid whose work bears striking similarity to the appointed task of one of the messengers, is called by the name of that messenger in the sight of God.”
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has made it clear that prophets cannot come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. In this book that I have been quoting from, he writes: “As our Leader and Messenger, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, is the last of the prophets (khātam al-anbiya’), and after him no prophet can come, for this reason saints come in place of prophets in the Islamic system (i.e., as opposed to previous systems).” Again, he writes: “Prophets certainly cannot arise among the Muslims, but if khalifas of the Holy Prophet do not come either, showing the marvels of spiritual life from time to time, then the spirituality of Islam comes to an end.”
He also answers those Muslims who object that since Islam is the complete and perfect religion, there is no need for a Mujaddid. He writes:
“When have we said that Mujaddids and saints come into the world to remove something from the religion or to add to it? On the contrary, we say that when, after the passage of a period of time, the dust of corrupted notions settles upon the holy teachings, and the face of the pure truth is hidden, then to show that beautiful face there come mujaddids, Divinely inspired saints and spiritual khalifas. … they do not come to abrogate the religion, but to display its shine and brilliance. … Suppose, for instance, that someone builds a house, constructs all its rooms elegantly, and fulfils all its requirements as a building to the best standard; then after a time storms blow, rains come, dust and dirt settle on the decoration of the house, and its beauty is hidden; if then one of his descendants should want to clean and wash the house but he is forbidden on the grounds that the building was complete, it is obvious that to forbid him is sheer stupidity. Sadly, such critics do not realise that completion is one thing, and the periodic cleaning of a completed building is another. It should be remembered that the Mujaddids do not add anything to the religion, nor take anything away from it; they reinstate lost faith in the hearts.”
So may Allah enable us to continue the mission of the service of Islam for which the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement came as Mujaddid, as he has stated in the above lines, ameen.