Mujaddid of the 14th Century
|[ BACK ]||Claim
As I have already stated, Hazrat Ahmad was not a mere controversialist. He was a student of religion who had made a close study of Islam as well as of other religions and had come to the conclusion that, while other religions contained only partial truth, Islam contained the whole truth, and was, on account of this superiority, destined to be the future religion of the world. To establish this fact he began to write a book called the Barahin Ahmadiyya, the full name being Al-Barahin al Ahmadiyya 'ala haqqiyyat-i-Kitab Allah al-Qur'an wal-nubuwwat - il-Muhammadiyya, i.e., 'The Ahmadiyya proofs for the truth of the Book of God, the Quran, and the prophethood of Muhammad'.
Two years later, i.e., in the closing year of the thirteenth century of Hijra, he issued a third part of the same book, in which were published several revelations which he had received from God, in one of which he claimed to be the promised reformer, mujaddid, of the fourteenth century of Hijra. This revelation, which is published on page 238 of the book, runs thus:
At the same time he issued a manifesto stating plainly that he was the Mujaddid of that century. In this manifesto, he wrote, after speaking of this book:
At that time, the Muslims highly appreciated the great services which Hazrat Ahmad had rendered to the cause of Islam, and greatly admired not only his learning and his powerful refutation of the opponents of Islam, but also his righteousness and piety, and, therefore, they hailed these claims as quite opportune. It was just the commencement of the fourteenth century of Hijra, and a hadith of the Holy Prophet promised to them a reformer at the commencement of each century.
Besides the hadith, the condition of things in the world of Islam called yet more loudly for the appearance of a reformer. Islam was at the time between two fires - disputes and dissensions which frittered away the whole energy of the Muslim world, and the most terrible attacks on it from without. Here was a man who rose far above all internal dissensions, refusing to take part in them, and who directed his attention solely to the attacks from without; a soldier of Islam who championed the cause of Islam most powerfully, meeting every opponent on his own ground; a learned man whose exposition of the Holy Qur'an exactly met the need of the time; the fame of his piety was spread far and wide; and what more was needed for a reformer? His claim to be the Mujaddid was, therefore, generally accepted by the Muslims, laymen as well as theologians.
An epoch-making book
Two years later, in 1884, came out the fourth part of the Barahin Ahmadiyya, which contained a most powerful exposition of the truth of Islam. This book may rightly be regarded as marking a new epoch in the religious literature of Islam, and it was accorded that position by the greatest 'ulama of the time. Its real object was to establish the Truth of Islam by a long series of cogent and irrefutable reasons and arguments, but by way of comparison dogmas of other religions were also included and subjected to the search-light of reason, and thus the beauties of Islam were manifested all the more clearly. Even such a hostile critic as Walter admits that "this book was quite universally acclaimed (in so far as it was read), throughout the Muhammadan world as a work of power and originality". (H. A. WaIter, The Ahmadiyya Movement, p. 16.) The book won this recognition in spite of the fact that it contained all the material which formed the basis of later differences with the orthodox Muslims. In this work were published the author's revelations in which he was addressed as messenger, prophet and warner. His claim to be inspired by God was never contested. Thus, Maulvi Muhammad Husain, the head of the Ahl i Hadith (Wahabi) sect in the Punjab, wrote a review of the Barahin Ahmadiyya, and the following paragraph from this review shows how wide was the acceptance accorded to this book by men of all shades of opinion, the author being a declared Hanafi, to which school of thought he adhered to the last:
Muslims of the Ahi Sunna wal-Jama'a sect generally admit the existence of saints, or auliya Allah, who have been recipients of the gifts of Divine inspiration, while the Ahl Hadith, popularly known as Wahabis, are generally looked upon as denying the continuance of this gift; nevertheless, here we find the head of the Ahl Hadith sect, not only admiring the powerful arguments contained in the Barahin Ahmadiyya against all sorts of opponents of Islam but also laying special stress on the fact that the author's religious experience was of such a high character, in holding communion with God and in receiving inspiration or revelation from Him, that he had been successful in giving practical proof of such revelation to its deniers. This is only one indication of how Muslim India received Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's claim as mujaddid of the fourteenth century of Hijra. The purpose of his being raised as a mujaddid was also made clear in the Barahin Ahmadiyya. I quote Hazrat Ahmad's own words:
Bai'a to serve Islam
Matters remained in this condition for several years during which time Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was generally admitted to be the religious leader and inspired reformer of the Muslims. During that time, he maintained a hard struggle against the onslaughts of the Arya Samaj, which had become very powerful, and which followed in the footsteps of the Christian missionaries in abusing the Prophet of Islam. On the first of December, 1888, he announced that Almighty God had commanded him to accept bai'a and to form into a separate class those who came to spiritual life through him.
"I have been commanded", he wrote, "'that those who seek after truth should enter my bai'a, in order to give up dirty habits and slothful and disloyal ways of life and in order to imbibe true faith and a truly pure life that springs from faith and to learn the ways of the love of God".
Bai'a is, among the Sufis, the oath of fealty which the disciple takes when giving his hand into the hand of his spiritual guide, but the bai'a which Hazrat Ahmad wanted from his followers was a promise to guard the cause of Islam, to deliver the message thereof, and to place the service of Islam above all other considerations. There were ten conditions which the disciple had to accept, the eighth of these being:
These ten conditions were retained after his claim to the Promised Messiahship and up to the end of his life, but when disciples came in larger numbers, these were shortened, the following words taking the place of the eighth condition:
It is easy to see that this pledge was quite different from the ordinary pledge which is taken in the Sufi orders, and its object was no other than to uphold the honor of Islam at all costs, to guard Islam against all attacks and to carry its message to the farthest ends of the world. Here was a spiritual commander who needed a spiritual force to guard the spiritual territories of Islam and to lead Islam to further spiritual conquests.