Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani (1835-1908)
Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at
The Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi
My Claim to Promised Messiahship
The following is an article written by the Promised Messiah(as) himself and taken from the September 1904 issue of the Review of Religions (Vol.3, No.9).
Gentlemen, I would now say something about my own claims, which I have published in this country. Reason and history bear witness to the fact that when the darkness of sin overshadows the earth, when all sorts of transgressions prevail in the world and evil is supreme, when the spiritual sensibilities are deadened, when the earth is growing impure with immoral practices and the love of God being numbed in the hearts of men, a poisonous wind begins to blow, the mercy of God then ordains that life should again be breathed into dead hearts and the earth should be quickened afresh. As there are changes of seasons in the physical world, so there are revolutions in the spiritual world. In autumn the trees lose their verdure and freshness, and are stripped of their leaves and branches, and look like a man who being in the last stage of consumption loses all his flesh and blood, or like a leper whose face is disfigured by the effects of leprosy and whose limbs have dropped down. But they are not left in this state. Another period comes, and autumn is followed by spring when a new life is given to the dead plants and they sprout forth into fresh leaves. Similar to these changes in the physical world, there are changes and revolutions in the spiritual world and periods of light and darkness follow each other successively like day and night. At certain stages of the history of the world, men are stripped of spiritual excellences and the perfection of manhood like trees in the autumn, while at others a wind blows from heaven which breathes life afresh into their hearts.
Thus our time is also the beginning of a spring. The deadness of autumn was witnessed in the Punjab during the days when this country was under the Sikh sway. Knowledge had then quite disappeared and ignorance had become prevalent. Religious books had become so rare that they could not be found except in some high family which remained intact from Sikh oppression. The night of the Sikh rule has been followed by the day of British dominion which has brought us the invaluable blessing of peace. The truth is that if regard is had to the general peace and security prevailing in the country and to the comforts which we can and do enjoy, it is unjust to compare the days of Sikh rule with even the nights of British Government. The time in which we live is a time of physical as well as spiritual blessings, and what has already appeared is a sign of the richness of the harvest that we may yet reap.
It is true, however, that being the commencement of a new age, this period presents varying faces. Some faces are hideous because they go against righteousness and the true knowledge of God, while others present attractive features and there is a lustre of righteousness in them. There is no doubt, however, that the British Government has taken great pains to spread learning in the country and to advance the cause of science and knowledge. Printing presses have multiplied copies of books to an extent unknown in any previous age and placed them within the reach of all. This vast spread of knowledge has brought to light many hidden libraries and cast the light of publication upon many rare manuscripts, and thus it has changed the whole appearance of society within a few years.
Side-by-side with the growth of learning and spread of knowledge spoken of here, there has been a continual falling off from the standard of purity in practice, and the plant of atheism has struck a deep root in most hearts. There is no doubt about the benefits and blessings which the British rule has brought to us, nor can anyone question the unparalleled peace and liberty which it has established in this country, but most people have not made a right use of this liberty and peace. Instead of being thankful to God for His great obligation in placing us under the benign rule of such a peaceful and kind Government, most people have become utterly neglectful of and stolidly indifferent to God and have wholly given themselves up to the pursuits and cares of this world, so wholly indeed as if this world were their permanent abode and they were not under the control of any Higher power or under any obligation to Him. As happens generally, with peace transgression has become more flagrant, and on account of daily increasing hard-heartedness and indifference, the country is now in a very dangerous condition. Ignorant people commit the most brutal and heinous deeds like savages, and every grade of society is more or less involved in some sort of evil. Public houses are much more frequented than other shops, and professions involving open immorality are daily increasing, while places of worship are only used for the performance of ceremonials devoid of life and inner worth. In short a violent outburst of evil and iniquity has taken place, and as a flood destroys all embankments and sweeps away whole villages before it in a single night, so the flood of passions is sweeping away all barriers to sin before it. Cimmerian darkness has spread over the world, and it has reached the point at which it must either be regenerated and receive a light from heaven or be utterly destroyed and brought to naught. But the prophetical utterings give us to understand that the end is yet a thousand years off. Moreover, the new physical order of this world which has been brought about by the numerous discoveries and inventions of the last and the present century, is clearly indicative of a similar change for the better in the spiritual system of the world. There is pressing necessity for such spiritual reform, for spiritually the world stands on the brink of destruction and is so depraved that the wrath of heaven must be kindled against it. The force of passions is growing too strong while the spiritual tendencies have been utterly weakened and the light of faith has been extinguished. A light must, therefore, be kindled from heaven to shatter the clouds of darkness which over-hang this world, for, as we see daily, the gloom, of night is not dispelled until the heavenly light makes its appearance. As there is a heavenly light which lightens the corners of the earth, so there is also a heavenly light which illuminates the corners of the heart, and the truth of both these laws is manifest.
Since God created man, it has been His unchangeable law that He sheds His light upon mankind through one of their own number, so that there may be a unity and oneness among them. The person who is thus chosen, receives the light of perfect Divine knowledge from God, drinks deep at the fountain of His perfect love, is spoken to by Him, made to walk in the path of His perfect pleasure and granted a deep-seated zeal to draw others to the light, the knowledge and the love which have been granted him. Thus drawn by him and sharing in his knowledge because of their close connection with him, other people are also kept back from sins and guided to the path of piety and righteousness.
In accordance with this time-honoured law, Almighty God prophesied by the mouth of His prophets that after nearly six thousand years from the time of Adam(as) when great darkness would prevail upon earth and an irresistible flood of passions would make the love of God wane and iniquity predominate, God would breathe into a man the soul of truth and love and knowledge spiritually after the likeness of Adam(as), and he would be called the Messiah, because God would Himself anoint his soul with the ointment of His love. This Messiah who on account of the promise of God concerning his appearance is called the Promised Messiah in sacred books, would, it is foretold, be made to stand against Satan, and between him and the evil one there would be a mighty struggle, the final struggle between good and evil. For this spiritual fight Satan would bring all his hosts into the field and gather together all his power and make use of all his resources. Never shall a fight like this have occurred between good and evil before, for on that day the tricks of Satan, and the means by which he can mislead people, would all be exhausted. After a heavy fight, the Messiah of God would drive back the powers of darkness, and the glory, majesty, unity and holiness of God would be proclaimed upon earth and would continue to be declared for a thousand years, the seventh day of the Holy Books of God. Then will be the end. I am that Messiah: let him who will, accept me.
Doubts would, perhaps, be entertained here by some as to the existence of Satan and they would wonder at the mention of Satan and his hosts. Let them bear in mind that every man’s heart has two attractions with it, the attraction of good and the attraction of evil. The first of these is attributed in Islamic law to the angel or the spirit of goodness, and the second to Satan or the spirit of evil. Man is inclined sometimes to evil and sometimes to goodness, and this is what is meant by the struggle between good and evil. I think there are many men in this gathering who will, simply on hearing my claim to Promised Messiahship and Divine revelation, call me a liar and look down upon my claim, but I do not condemn them, for so it has been from the beginning. Every messenger of God had to hear words of abuse and contempt from his people in the early stages of his mission, and it may be said truly that a prophet is not without honour but in the beginning of his career as a prophet.
That Holy Prophet(saw) and Messenger of God to whom the Holy Qur’an was revealed, and who gave us a law which is the culmination of all laws, of being called whose followers we are all proud, was also received in the same manner by his people. For thirteen years he suffered persecution and tortures at the hands of his enemies alone and helpless, and received their scoffing, insults, affronts and outrages with the greatest patience and forbearance – all these cruelties of his enemies reaching their climax in that unkindest cut of all, his expulsion from Makkah. Who knew at that time that that helpless and forlorn man was destined to become the guide and leader of millions of human beings? Such is the Divine law that the ones sent by God are laughed at and despised at first. There are very few who recognise them in the beginning and hence they must suffer at the hands of the ignorant and bear all sorts of scurrilities, abuses and taunts until the time comes when God should open the hearts of men for their acceptance.
Such is my claim. But the work for which Almighty God has appointed me, my function as the Promised Messiah, is that I should remove the estrangement which has taken place between God and man, and re-establish man’s connection of purity and love with his Divine master. I have been raised that I should put a stop to religious wars and lay the basis of peace, concord and fellow-feeling between men, that I should bring to light the religious truths which have long been hidden from the mortal eye, that I may show true spirituality by dispelling the darkness of passions from before its face, that I may manifest the working of Divine powers within man by prayer or by concentration of attention, and most important of all that I should re-establish the pure and glorious unity of God which is free from every mixture of shirk, and which has disappeared from the face of earth. All this will be effected not by my power, but by the mighty power of Him who rules in heaven and earth. I see that on the one hand Almighty God having trained me in His deep knowledge and having made me the recipient of His revelation, has granted me a zeal for bringing about these reforms, and on the other He has Himself prepared hearts which are ready to accept my words.
I see that a mighty revolution has taken place in the world since I was appointed by Almighty God to this heavenly office. While in Europe and America the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus is being rejected by all sensible thinkers, in India idol-worship is fast losing ground. Though these people are yet ignorant of true spirituality and are content with a few words in which is contained a formal expression of their beliefs, yet they have broken asunder many ties which held them to unbelief, and they are now as it were standing on the threshold of unity. I hope that in the near future the grace of God would take many of them by the hand and place them within the stronghold of unity where there is all peace and safety, and where a man is granted perfect love and perfect fear and perfect knowledge. This is not a mere wish but Almighty God has given me the glad tidings which make me entertain this hope. The manifestation of this heavenly ordinance has been brought about in this country so that different people may soon be seen gathering into one flock, and that the night of discord and enmity may soon be changed into the bright morning of peace and concord.
That the different people will be ultimately made one nation, is the universal hope of all religious sects. The Christians think that the time is coming when all the nations of the earth will accept the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus(as). The Jews entertain the fond hope that their Messiah will soon appear and make them the inheritors of the whole earth and bring the gentiles into the Jewish faith. The Islamic prophecies also give the hope of the advent of a Messiah who would make Islam the predominant and universal religion of the world, and the promised time of advent goes no further than the commencement of the 14th century of Hegira. And at this very moment the Pundits of the Sanatan Dharm are anxiously waiting for the advent of an avatar who would spread the true faith in the whole world. The Aryas, though they do not believe in any prophecy, share in these universal views and are trying their best to spread the Arya religion in the East as well as in the West. Nor has the Buddhist religion remained behind in this movement, for it is also showing signs of activity and reform. But what is most wonderful of all, and may perhaps excite laughter, is that in this competition of religions for superiority, even the sweeper community is not quite indifferent, but it also is awake to the serious necessity of protecting itself from hostile religions. In short, the competition of religions has grown hot and every sect is inspired with the zeal to make acquisitions from other faiths. There is a commotion in the religious world more violent than the commotion which is caused in the sea by a storm, and as the billows roll down upon one another, so do at present the different religions.
The various movements described above lead one at least to this conclusion that the time has come at which Almighty God has willed to gather all men into one fold. Regarding this very time, He says in the Holy Qur’an:
And on that day We shall leave some of them to surge against others, and the trumpet will be blown. Then shall We gather them all together. (Ch.18: V.100)
Reading this verse along with the preceding verses its proper significance appears to be that when there will be a hot competition for victory among the various religions, and they will be in a tumult like the waves of the ocean, then will Almighty God bring into existence a new dispensation which will draw all capable hearts to itself. Then will they know what religion is, and a new life, the soul of true righteousness, will be breathed into them and they will be made to drink at the fountain of true knowledge of God. It was necessary that this world should not have come to an end until this prophecy which was announced by the Holy Qur’an 1300 years ago was fulfilled.
The Holy Qur’an has mentioned many other signs of the last ages when all people would be gathered upon one religion; for instance, that the rivers would be generally split into canals, that the earth would bring out its hidden treasures of minerals, inventions and sciences, that such means would come into existence (referring to printing presses) as would cause books to be multiplied in large numbers, that a conveyance would be discovered which would render the camels useless and facilitate men’s going to and fro, that the means of correspondence and of the mixing together of different people would become easy, and that the sun and the moon would eclipse on specified dates in the month of Ramadhan. All these signs of the mercy of God would be followed by another which is indicative of the wrath of heaven, i.e. the raging of a destructive plague which would affect every town and village, utterly laying waste some and leaving others in a partially desolate condition. God would then be in great wrath because the signs which He manifested at the hands of His Messenger were belied, and the Apostle whom He had sent was rejected and called an impostor.
All the signs enumerated above, which the Holy Qur’an has described as the signs of the appearance of the Promised one, have been fulfilled in this age. Thus there is a clear path for anyone who exercises his judgment and understanding for my acceptance, because all the signs appointed for the appearance of the Promised Messiah have been manifested by God for me. Besides the signs mentioned above, the Holy Qur’an fixes the time of the appearance of the Promised Messiah in another manner too. In it we are told that one day with God is equivalent to a thousand years as is indicated in the verse:
And they ask thee to hasten on punishment, but Allah will never break His promise. And verily, a day with thy Lord is a thousand years of your reckoning. (Ch.22: V.48)
Therefore, the seven days mentioned in the Holy Qur’an indicate seven thousand years which represent the present age from Adam to the end spoken of in the holy books of God. I do not mean to say that seven thousand years is the whole time from the beginning to the end of the world, for from the Holy Qur’an it appears that the world existed before the Adam spoken of in the Holy Book. Of course we cannot say who the people were that lived upon earth then because we have no details in our hand. But it appears that one cycle of this world lasts for seven thousand years and hence also the seven days, each day standing for a thousand years. We cannot say through how many such cycles the world has passed up to this time, and how many Adams have passed away before our own Adam(as). As God has ever been the Creator, therefore we believe that His creation must have existed always in one form or another though it is difficult for us to specify the particular form. Here too the Christian faith has made an error, for the Christians believe that the world was created and heaven and earth made only six thousand years ago, and that before that time the creating power of God had forever remained unemployed. I do not think any sensible person can subscribe to such a belief which is absurd on the face of it. The Holy Qur’an on the other hand teaches us doctrines whose truth can never be questioned. It teaches us that God has always been a Creator and will forever be a Creator, and if He wills He can destroy heaven and earth and make them anew millions of times. He has told us that from the Adam who is our ancestor to the end of this cycle, there is a period of seven thousand years, which are as seven days with God. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, appeared in the fifth thousand after Adam or in the fifth day of this cycle. This is indicated in the chapter entitled the ‘Asr (Afternoon) the letters of which, according to the mode of reckoning numbers from letters, represent the number of years which had elapsed from Adam(as) to the time of the revelation of that chapter to the Holy Prophet(saw). According to this calculation six thousand years have now elapsed from Adam(as), and a period of one thousand years more would complete this cycle.
The Holy Qur’an as well as the previous books give us to understand that the Messenger of God who would appear in the last ages in the likeness of Adam(as), and would be called the Messiah, would be born in the last days of the sixth thousand from Adam(as), as Adam(as) was born at the end of the sixth day. These signs are sufficient to lead a thinking mind to the true conclusion. The seven thousand years of this cycle are further divided according to the prevalence of good or evil, every odd thousand being the time of the prevalence of virtue and true guidance, and the even thousand of the supremacy of Satan. Thus in the fifth thousand our Holy Prophet(saw) was born for the regeneration of the world and Satan was then put into chains. Then followed the sixth thousand, from the beginning of the fourth to the fourteenth century after Islam, in which Satan was let loose and evil predominated. And now we are in the seventh thousand which is the time of God and His Messiah and of every goodness and virtue, of the true faith and regeneration of mankind, of righteousness and the proclamation of the Unity of God and Divine worship. With the entrance of the world upon the seventh thousand, the Millennium, no other Messiah can set his foot upon earth, for his time is now gone. The true Messiah is he who has appeared in time and made known his appearance to the world. All these prophecies are contained in the Holy Qur’an, and they were also uttered by the earlier prophets. In fact, no prophecy has been uttered with such frequency and force as the prophecy relating to the appearance of the Messiah in the last ages and to the evil of the Anti-Christ.
Some men think that the prophecy relating to the appearance of the Promised Messiah is contained only in the traditions [hadith] and not in the Holy Qur’an, and accordingly they demand a proof of it from the Word of God. A reflection upon the words of the Holy Book is sufficient to convince any reasonable man that this prophecy is contained in the plainest words in the Holy Qur’an. In the chapter entitled the Tahrim, it is indicated that some individuals from among the Muslims would be called Ibn-i-Maryam (the Son of Mary), for in this chapter at first the faithful are compared to Mary and afterwards the breathing of a soul into her (i.e., the faithful like her) is mentioned. This indicates that the faithful who observe complete obedience to Divine commandments and make themselves like Mary, will be rewarded by God by being made Christ-like. It is in reference to the attainment of this stage that Almighty God says of me in a revelation published in the Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya: “O Mary! Enter thou and thy friends into paradise;’’ and again: “0 Mary! I have breathed into thee the soul of truth,” (thus symbolically Mary was impregnated with truth); and last of all: “0 Jesus! I will cause thee to die a natural death and would then raise thee to Myself,” where I am addressed as Jesus Christ as if raised from the dignity of Mary to the dignity of Christ. Thus the promise contained in the Tahrim has been fulfilled in me, and I am named by God as the son of Mary.
Again, in the chapter entitled the Nur (Light), Almighty God says that successors to the Holy Prophet would be raised from among the Muslims like to the successors that were raised to Moses as in the verse:
Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear: They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then whoso is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious. (Ch.24: V.56)
From the Holy Qur’an it also appears that the religion of Islam would witness two terrible disasters which would endanger its very life. One of these came upon Islam with the death of the Holy Prophet(saw) and was averted at the hands of Abu Bakr(ra), the first caliph according to Divine promise. The second disaster according to the Holy Qur’an would be the evil that would be wrought by the Anti-Christ, to repel which the Promised Messiah would appear. It is to this great evil that the concluding words of the Fatihah, which every Muslim must repeat in his prayers, contain an allusion, and to this time of tribulation that the prophecy contained in the same verse (Ch.24: V.56) refers which occur in the Nur immediately after the words in which successors to the Holy Prophet(saw) are promised. In these words Almighty God tells us that in the last ages when the faith of Islam would be severely shaken, so much so that there would be fear of its extinction and of its being swept off wholly, He would re-establish it with firmness upon the earth, and grant the Muslims a security after that great fear. To the same effect the Holy Qur’an says elsewhere:
God is He who sent His messenger with the guidance and the true faith so that He may ultimately [i.e. in the time of the Promised Messiah] make it victorious over all other religions. (Ch.9: V.33)
Again, the verse: Verily we sent down the Holy Qur’an, and verily We will be its guardians,” (Ch.15: V.10) also refers to the time of the Promised Messiah for as it speaks of the sending down of Revelation which was effected through the Holy Prophet(saw), it also speaks of guarding the revealed word from its enemies when it would be in danger of being brought to extinction, which is the function of the Promised Messiah. Here I have briefly pointed out the verses in which the advent of the Promised Messiah is indicated, either in plain words or by way of allusion, as a detailed proof would not have suited the limits of a lecture. This is a sufficient proof for any one who seeks an evidence of my claim in the Holy Qur’an in the same manner in which he seeks an evidence of the claim of the Holy Prophet(saw) or Jesus Christ(as) in the previous books. So if these prophecies are not regarded as sufficient, it must also be admitted that there is no prophecy in the Torah concerning the appearance of Jesus(as) or our Holy Prophet(saw), for if the words of the former prophecies are not very definite, neither are they so in the case of the latter prophecies. It is exactly here that the Jews stumbled in the recognition of the two prophets, Jesus(as) and Muhammad(saw), may peace and the blessings of God be upon them. For instance, if it had been stated in plain and clear words in the prophecies fore-telling the appearance of our Holy Prophet(saw) that he would be born at Makkah, that his name would be Muhammad, that his father and grand-father would be known respectively as Abdullah and Abdul Muttalib, that he would be of the Ishmaelite race, that being persecuted at Makkah he would flee to Madinah, and that he would be born so many years after Moses(as), not a single Jew could have denied him. The difficulties in the case of the prophecies relating to the appearance of Jesus Christ(as), are still greater, and it is on this ground that the Jews to this day consider themselves excusable in rejecting Jesus(as). In these prophecies it is clearly stated that Elijah(as) would re-appear before the advent of the true Messiah and prophecies containing this condition are contained in the revealed books. But since Elijah(as) did not re-appear, therefore the claim of Jesus(as) to Messiahship could not be regarded as true by the Jews. When confronted with this difficulty, Jesus(as) replied that by the appearance of Elijah was meant the appearance of one like him, and not his own appearance. But this explanation was rejected by the Jews as directly opposed to the Word of God which spoke not of the advent of the like of Elijah, but of the advent of Elijah(as) himself. These considerations show clearly that the prophecies relating to the appearance of the prophets of God are always deep so that they may serve to distinguish the righteous from the wicked.
This is not, however, all that I can say in support of my claim. A claim based on truth is not attended with only one sort of proof, but like the genuine diamond it shines in full effulgence in all its facets. Such is my claim to Promised Messiahship. Its truth shines forth from whatever point of view it is considered. My claim to being sent by God and of being the recipient of Divine revelation, dates from a period of over 27 years, and it was published in my book entitled Barahin-i-Ahmadiyyah about twenty-four years ago. Such a long and continuous series of lies is inconceivable. However great a liar a person may be, he cannot be guilty of concocting a falsehood extending over such a lengthy period of time and affecting the whole world. Moreover, Almighty God does not assist an impostor. Consider a person who with every new sun concocts a new falsehood and fabricates a new lie, forges words and prophecies and pretends that it is an inspiration which he has received from God, or the Word of God that has come down to him as a revelation from the Almighty, while God knows that he is a great liar and impostor in what he says every day, consider if God would grant assistance to such an accursed being, if He would make him arid his followers flourish and increase for long years and frustrate the designs and plans of his enemies to bring him to naught. Yet for 27 years, I have been receiving the assistance of God without any intermission and the number of my followers has constantly increased notwithstanding the hardest opposition. Do not these facts point me out as the true one?
There is another argument which settles conclusively the truth of my claim. Twenty-four years previous to this at a time when I was quite unknown to the world and lived in the corner of solitude, Almighty God revealed to me certain prophecies concerning my future life which were at that very time and under those very circumstances published in Barahin-i-Ahmadiyyah which I was then writing. Addressing me Almighty God thus spoke to me: “Oh my Ahmad, thou art according to my wish and thou art with me. Thy secret is My secret. Thou art to Me as My Unity and Oneness, so the time has come when thou shouldst be assisted and made known among men. Thou hast in my presence a dignity which the world knows not. God will assist thee in all fields. Thou hast dignity in My presence and I have chosen thee for Myself and I will make many people follow and obey thee and will make thee a guide to them. We will inspire people from heaven that they may assist thee. Assistance will come to thee from deep and distant paths. People will flock to thee from distant corners of the world. It is, therefore, meet that thou shouldst not turn away from them or get tired of them, because of their vast numbers, but receive them with kindness and courtesy. And pray to God, ‘O Lord, do not leave me alone and Thou art the best of inheritors.’ God will procure for thee the companions of the mat, and what knowest thou who the companions of the mat are. Thou wilt see tears flowing from their eyes, and they will say, ‘O Lord, we have heard the voice of one who invites people to faith in God. Verily, I will make thee My vicegerent upon earth, and people will say of thee contemptuously,’ ‘Where-from and how hast thou got this dignity and high rank?’ Say to them, ‘My God is a wonderful God and wonderful are His powers.’ He is not questioned of what He doeth, but He will question every one as to what He said. They say, ‘This is but a fabrication.’ Say, ‘It is God who has established this dispensation,’ then leave them in their vain sports. God is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth that he may make it victorious over all other religions. They will try to extinguish the light which God has kindled, but God will make that light perfect and kindle it in hearts that are ready to receive it, though the unbelievers may not like it. God will protect thee against their mischiefs, though people may not be able to save thee. Thou art before my eyes; I have named thee Mutawakkil (Truster in God), And God will not leave thee until He has severed the virtuous from the wicked. Two sheep will be slaughtered, and every one who is upon earth, must taste of death. There may be a thing to which you may be averse, but haply it may be good for you; and there may be a thing which you deem good but haply its attainment may be injurious to you. God knows what is good for you and what injurious, but you do not know.’’
It will be seen that the revelations given above contain four grand prophecies. Firstly, at a time when I was alone and companionless, about 24 years since, God gave me the glad tidings that I would not be left alone but would have numerous followers and that people would come to me from distant places and remote corners in such numbers that they should tire me. Secondly, that I would receive great assistance from these people. What I was when these prophecies were published, and what I am now when about a quarter of a century has elapsed since their publication, is known to the whole world. I lived alone in the corner of solitude then in a small village, but now I have more than 200,000 followers. The third prophecy mentioned in the same connection is that people would do their utmost to bring this dispensation to naught and to extinguish this light, but all their efforts would be fruitless and all their designs would be frustrated. These three prophecies are shining like the meridian sun. No sensible person would hold that these wonderful disclosures of the deep secrets of the future, upon which no guess or surmise could shed the faintest light, could be announced beforehand except by a revelation from Almighty God, the Knower of all secrets. There was no circumstance which could make the most intelligent person guess that the helpless and solitary man who had never stepped out from the corner of solitude, would one day become the leader and guide of hundreds of thousands of men. If it is within the power of man to reveal such secrets, let another such instance be cited. The grandeur of these prophecies is made more manifest and the heart of man bows with true submission before the mighty knowledge of God when the third prophecy foretelling the attempts of the people to thwart the fulfilment of these prophecies, and God’s promise to bring about their fulfilment in spite of every opposition, is borne in mind. Can a mere mortal thus challenge the world? No, he cannot even say that he would live for such a time. The fourth prophecy which particularly deserves the reader’s attention is that relating to the slaughter of two sheep which was fulfilled by the martyrdom of two of my disciples in Afghanistan, viz., Sheikh ‘Abdul Rahman and Sahibzada Maulvi ‘Abdul Latif at the hands of Amir ‘Abdul Rahman and Amir Habib-ullah [rules of Afghanistan] respectively.
Besides these, there are hundreds of other prophecies which were fulfilled in their time. On one occasion, I informed Maulvi Hakim Nuruddin that a son would be born to him who would have sores upon his body, and the prophecy was published in a book. Some time afterwards the promised son was born and he had the sores on his body as described in the prophecy. The Maulvi Sahib is present in this gathering, and every one can question him as to the truth of this statement. On another occasion, ‘Abdul Rahim Khan, one of the sons of Sardar Muhammad ‘Ali Khan, Rais [a clan leader] of Malerkotla, was attacked with a serious disease and all hope of his life was lost. When I prayed for him to God it was revealed to me that the boy would recover on my intercession; so like a kind and affectionate sympathiser, I prayed for him and the disease was gone. ‘Abdullah Khan, the second son of the same gentleman, also fell ill and the attack was so serious that death seemed to be certain. I prayed for him and was informed of his recovery by God and he accordingly recovered. There are numerous other signs and if I were to relate them all, this lecture would not be finished even in ten days. Hundreds of thousands of men bear testimony to the truth of these signs because they were shown before their eyes. One hundred and fifty of these I have collected in a book called the Nuzool-ul-Masih which will be published shortly. These signs are of various sorts. Some of them were manifested upon heaven, others upon earth; some related to my friends, while others were in connection with my enemies; some affected myself and my children and others have been manifested by God through my enemies without any intervention on my part. To the last class belongs a sign which was manifested through Maulvi Ghulam Dastgir of Qasur, who published in his book Fateh Rahman, of his own accord a prayer against me to the effect that of us two God might destroy the liar first. A few days had passed when the Maulvi died and thus bore a testimony to my truth. Besides this, there are thousands of men who were informed of my truth through visions and who have thus accepted me.
There are other considerations of importance in determining the truth of a claim to prophethood. Whether the claimant has appeared in time of need, i.e., at a time when the need of a guide was felt by the world, whether he has come exactly at the prophesied hour, whether he receives assistance from God, whether he has fully refuted the objections brought forward by his opponents against his claim, are points which go a long way to prove the truth or falsehood of his claim. If all these questions were satisfactorily answered, they would be an evidence of his truth. Now it is clear that at the present moment, the need of a guide and reformer is very strongly felt by the whole world. Islam needs the soothing hand of a reformer who should bring about union and agreement among the contending sects and the strong hand of one who should defend it against hostile attacks, while the world generally needs a spiritual guide who should restore to it the spirituality which it has lost, and re-establish the certainty which has vanished away from its face, and thus strengthening faith release people from the bondage of sin and turn them to paths of virtue and righteousness. These are facts which no one can deny unless he is blinded by prejudice, and therefore I clearly fulfil the first of the conditions enumerated above, viz., the condition of coming in time of need. In the second place, it requires to be seen whether I have come at the prophesied hour. In point of time the clearest prophecy is that relating to the appearance of the Promised Messiah at the end of the sixth and the commencement of the seventh thousand from Adam. Computing by the lunar year, the seventh thousand has begun and by the solar year the sixth is coming to a close. Besides this the Holy Prophet(saw) had said, as reported in an authentic tradition, that among the Muslims a reformer would appear at the commencement of every century to give fresh life to the holy religion of Islam. But more than a fifth of the fourteenth century has passed away, and no other reformer can be pointed out who has claimed an authority under the tradition referred to above. Thirdly, it is to be seen whether God has assisted the claimant or not. This condition is eminently fulfilled in me, for opponents stood up against me from among every community and left no stone unturned to bring me to naught and made all sorts of plots against me, but all their designs and plans were hopelessly shattered by Almighty God. There is no community which can say that it did not exert itself to destroy me. But against their wishes Almighty God gave me honour and made thousands of men my followers. What is it if not heavenly assistance, for upon earth no efforts were spared to blot me out. The stronger the opposition grew, the more I was made to flourish, until my following now exceeds two hundred thousand. Had not a hidden Hand been in my support, and had my mission been based on human machinations, I would have been long before shot by one of the arrows of which I was made an aim, and being utterly destroyed no trace of mine would have been left today. For there is no doubt that an impostor does not prosper, but meets with destruction in one way or another, because God Himself is his enemy. But Almighty God guarded me from every evil that was designed against me in accordance with His promise which He had made twenty-four years before. What a wonderful assistance from the Almighty that He first informed me in my loneliness and solitude that He would assist me and bring thousands of men to me and disappoint my enemies in their evil designs against me, and then brought all this to fulfilment as He had foretold. How manifest is His assistance and how clear this sign! Can it be within the power of man or devil that he should when quite helpless foretell his mighty success in the future, and this should be fulfilled notwithstanding the efforts of numerous enemies who rise against him for his destruction? The fourth condition, viz., that the objections of the opponents should be fully refuted, has also been fulfilled by me. The greatest objection that has been put forward against my claim is that Jesus(as) is alive and that he himself must come back into the world in fulfilment of the prophecy relating, to the advent of the Promised Messiah in the last ages. It has been shown by me in refutation of this objection that Jesus(as) is dead and he cannot come back. For the Muslims, the authority of the Holy Qur’an is conclusive which says:
I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me – “Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them; and Thou art Witness over all things. (Ch.5: V.118)
The occasion of this verse in the Holy Qur’an is that on the day of judgment, God would question Jesus(as) if he had said to his people that they should take him and his mother for gods and worship them. In answer to this, Jesus would say that he had said to them only what God had commanded him to say, viz., that they should worship God alone and consider him as His apostle only, and that he knew what they did so long as he was among them, “but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou didst witness their doings and I was quite ignorant of what happened after me.” The reply of Jesus(as) here is that his followers did not set up the false belief of His divinity until after his death. If, therefore, it is held by a Muslim that Jesus(as) is still alive, he shall also have to admit that the Christian doctrine is true. Moreover, here Jesus(as) displays an ignorance of the condition of his followers after his death, a fact which is inconsistent with the theory of his readvent, because in the latter case he should not remain ignorant of the doctrines invented by the Christians after his death. The belief that Jesus(as) would come back into the world, and joining with the Mahdi, slay the infidels, falsifies the Qur’anic verse quoted above, and must, therefore, be rejected. Nor can it be held that Jesus(as) would conceal before God the fact that he had gone into the world, lived there for forty years and slain the Christians, for that is far from the dignity of a prophet, and besides nothing would remain concealed on the day of judgment. If any one has true faith in the Holy Qur’an, he can see that the whole plot of Mahdi’s murderous deeds and Jesus’ descent from heaven to assist him in that bloody task, is brought to naught by a single verse.
When the opponents are vanquished in every point, as a last resource they bring forward the slender objection, that one or two out of thousands of my prophecies have not been fulfilled, while as a matter of fact this is untrue. Besides this, it will be seen that the prophecies so objected to related to the punishment of certain individuals and the Divine law is, as appears from the Holy Books of God, that a prophecy relating to punishment is always conditional, whether the condition be or be not expressed in it, and the punishment can he averted upon repentance or deeds of charity or upon manifesting a fear of God. The prophecy of the prophet Jonah(as) is an example of this. There was no express condition in that prophecy, yet the punishment was averted on the people’s repentance. If, therefore, the law established above were not true, the prophethood of Jonah(as) would be seriously in question. It cannot be questioned that God’s intention to punish a people is suspended or averted on their repentance; and what is prophecy but a manifestation of that intention through a prophet? If such intention can be suspended or averted when it is not disclosed to any person, there can be no objection to its being suspended or averted when it has been revealed through a prophet.
Now the essence of the prophecy relating to the death of Abdullah Atham which is objected to in my case, was that of the two, Atham and myself, the party in error would be brought to destruction before the eyes of the other. The truth of this prophecy has been sealed by the death of Atham, and it is quite unreasonable to object to it on the ground that he did not die within the stated time, for the limit of time had with it a condition in express words. Atham showed fearfulness and was granted a respite according to the express condition of the prophecy, but when he concealed the truth, he was soon seized by God and died in accordance with the prophecy. Even if the condition had not been expressly stated, he could have taken the benefit of it according to the Divine law with regard to the prophecies of punishment. Besides this, all the details are not always contained in prophecies, and such details are only manifested after their fulfilment. It also happens that an error occurs sometimes in the interpretation of a prophecy, for after all prophets are mortals. For instance, Jesus(as) had prophesied that his twelve apostles would sit on twelve thrones, whereas one of them became the devil’s in his lifetime. He had also prophesied that the men of his time would be still living when he would come back. This also remained unfulfilled on account of error in the interpretation of the words of revelation. Some other prophecies of Jesus(as) too met a similar fate. As to my prophecies, there are thousands of them that have been fulfilled in all their details and to ignore all of these, while selecting one or two for objection, is nothing but intentionally rejecting the truth. I fully hope and am certain that if anyone were to live in my company for forty days consecutively, he would witness a heavenly sign. Here I finish this lecture and think that what I have said is sufficient for a seeker after truth. And peace be upon him who follows truth and guidance.
The following is an article written by the Promised Messiah(as) himself and taken from the September 1904 issue of the Review of Religions (Vol.3, No.9).