Following on from brother Lutf who provided the historical context to who Mujaddid Alif Sani rh was, this author would like to offer a very direct response to Waqas Ahmad Cheema, author of “Mujaddid Alif Thani and (sic) Finality of Prophethood.” Mr. Cheema from the outset makes two related allegations: (1) that Ahmadis insist on “insinuating that Mujaddid Alif Thani, Imam Rabbanni Shaykh Sirhindi (d. 1034) believed in continuity of prophethood” while Mr. Cheema claims this not be the case and (2) to do so the Ahmadi Jamaat “misuse a couple of lines from one of his Maktubat (letters).” Mr. Cheema seems to overlook the fact that this is not the contention of the Jamaat alone. I will shortly provide six separate authorities on this matter in refutation of Mr. Cheema. For Mr. Cheema to allege that one party engages in miscontextualision is one thing but for him to allege that six separate and opposing parties are all participant to a sham is quite another. Yet before we turn our attention to these six separate voices, let us first consider a classic sufi metaphor to, perhaps, help put the matter into some context.
Take an elephant. Picture that around the elephant several blind men gather. One grabs the trunk, another grasps one of the legs and a third grapples with the tusk. As they all cry out describing what they have found, an observer who is listening but not looking assumes that they were explaining different animals. The three blind men represent the Sufi saints and the observer stands for none other than Mr. Cheema – a confused observer led awry by the guesswork of his senses. You see the Sufis saints of yore were provided the broader strokes of what was to come, yet they were not granted an unrestricted view of the future. Hakim Tirmidhi rh saw that only a fool could interpret khatamiyyat as chronologically the last, even though he still believed that no prophet would appear after the Prophet (sas). Ibn Arabi rh knew that Jesus would appear with a new body, yet still believed in the idea of the bloody Messiah. The two examples should suffice – I need not go on – the observant reader will readily get the point. Now as for Shaykh Sirhindi rh, he fundamentally understood that strict obedience to the Master Prophet sas would lead to followers being elevated to obtain kamalat-e-nabuwwat (the wonders of prophethood – Mr. Cheema’s translation) even though the office (mansab) may well be closed. Try to understand that in any way other than the belief that a Muslim can become a prophet in all but name. You can’t – whatever your preferred sport of verbal gymnastics.
But should Mr. Cheema even make the attempt, he will have to overcome the following six authorities:
- Javaid Ahmad Ghamidi, the famed Pakistani scholar and theological opponent of the Jamaat: Ghamidi Sahib has been quite direct when voicing his opinion that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as of Qadian made a claim entirely consistent with the discipline of Sufism. In two separate YouTube videos he points out to the connection that Shaykh Sirhindi rh has with Ahmadi thought. He even uses the very letter which Mr. Cheema refers to; for Ghamdi Sahib the contents of that letter are nothing short of blasphemous – opening the door to the very type of prophethood which Mr. Cheema is so busy trying to deny.
- Yohannan Friedmann, the Israeli academic: Friedmann came to study the Jamaat after presenting a doctoral thesis on Shaykh Sirhindi rh, and though this author does not have “Prophecy Continuous” to hand to quote from, I do clearly recall Friedmann underlining the connection in his work between the Promised Messiah as and the Mujaddid rh. Worryingly for Mr. Cheema the book “Prophecy Continuous” is even listed on thecult.org’s affiliate site The Q Files as a scholarly work on the community
- Oliver Scharbrodt, the non-Ahmadi Muslim academic: Scharbrodt has also commented on the similarity between the Promised Messiah as and the Mujaddid rh. In-fact Scharbrodt is somewhat perplexed as to why the two should be treated in such different fashion by the Sunni mainstream, writing: “Despite the similarity of their charismatic claims, their later assessment could not be more contradictory. This not only shows the fluidity of categories like orthodoxy and heterodoxy but also demonstrates the different dynamic that claims to charismatic authority can gain in different historical circumstances.” (p111, Islam and the Bahai faith)
- The Ahl-i-Paghaim (the Lahori Jamaat) [counted separately from the Khilafat group of Ahmadis (who I have been referring to in this article as the Jamaat), given their very differing views on Prophethood]: They translate the Promised Messiah’s as words on the matter as follows: “Thousands of persons in the Umma of the Holy Prophet Muhammad received the rank of prophethood, and the effects and blessings of of prophethood were found in them but they were not openly given the title nabi only because of the dignity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and because of the ending of prophethood [note by author – this is effectively the belief of Shaykh Sirhindi rh].. For thirteen hundred years the word ‘prophet’ was not applied because of respect for the dignity of the Holy Prophet’s prophethood, and after this because a long time has now passed and people were firmly established on the belief that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the khatam-ul-anbiya so if someone is given the title ‘prophet’ it does not go against the dignity of the Holy Prophet… Although the attribute of prophethood and lights of prophethood existed, and it was right that these persons should be called prophet but that title was not given to them out of respect for the greatness of the prophethood of the khatam-ul-anbiya. But now in the last days, this fear did not remain, so the Promised Messiah was called nabi-ullah” (Malfuzat v.5 pp 344-51).
- The Jamaat itself: Note that the difference between the Ahl-i-Paigham and the Jamaat is only over the interpretation of the last sentence in the aforementioned quote with regards to the Promised Messiah as. In that sense the Ahl-i-Paigham may be said to be more loyal to what appears to be the exact idea of Shaykh Sirhindi rh; they continue to believe that prophetic potentiality continues but the office is closed whereas we believe that not only has Shaykh Sirhindi’s rh concept of the wonders of Prophethood continued but equally the office is now obtainable. That is an academic debate – the point being that there is no duplicity when the Jamaat points out that Shaykh Sirhindi’s rh views on prophethood were that it was a continuous blessing to be bestowed on the Muslims.
- (As if the above wasn’t enough) The contemporary followers of Shaykh Sirhindi rh themselves: On the aulia-e-hind website it is written “The way of Hazoor Mujaddid Alif Sani is the union of Shariat [religious law] and Tariqat [mysticism] and a person following the Tariqa [the path of a sufi order] cannot only achieve the Mukamat-e-Vilayat [rank of Sainthood] but can also reach kamaalat-e-nabuwwat [the wonders of prophethood].” I await Mr. Cheema’s verbal gymnastics.
After all this one may wonder out loud who is it who is truly attempting to distort the legacy of Shaykh Sirhindi rh: is it the Jamaat or is it the likes of Mr. Cheema? Given the above let this author politely suggest that Mr. Cheema somewhat reconsiders his views.