By Umar Nasser
Some of the opponents of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community allege that the very name of the Promised Messiah (as) i.e. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is an indication of shirk (associating partners with Allah). This is because names such as Abdul-Rahman (Servant of the Merciful), Abdullah (Servant of Allah) and the like symbolizes the servant’s attachment to his Lord in the aspects of worship and submissiveness. These opponents therefore suggest that a Muslim may not be called “Servant of the Messenger”, or the like, as it entails Shirk.
The opponents who raise this objection must ask themselves that if their assertion is true, does it therefore follow that Allah Almighty commits shirk Himself? We seek refuge with Allah from such evil suggestions.
The Holy Qur’an states:
[39:54] “Say: O my servants who have committed excesses against your own selves despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah will forgive all sins.”
Here the Holy Prophet (sa) is commanded to call the believers ‘my Servants’ so according to them, Allah is associating partners with Himself? God forbid. What is servitude? It is to be in a state of perfect obedience. And so we read:
[4:70] “And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger of His shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings, namely, the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. And excellent companions are these.”
What is shown here is that to be perfectly obedient to Allah T’aala you must also be perfectly obedient to the Khatumul Anbiya, the seal of the Prophets (saw). And what happens if you do? They, the verse continues, “shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings, namely, the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous.” It is those who are obedient to God and His Messenger, that, in accordance to their level of obedience and God’s grace are exalted to these various spiritual stages – of the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. So to those who raise this objection, I say thank you for highlighting this pertinent issue that shows that the door to Prophethood is still open – but only a Prophethood that is subordinate in entirety to that of the Holy Prophet’s (sa). It is Prophethood that is shown here can only be achieved in perfect obedience, in perfect SERVITUDE to the Holy Prophet (sa), which of course means not changing even a vowel point of the Qur’an, and bringing no new Sharia.
Such opponents will of course, vehemently deny this, whilst still believing that the door to being among the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous is still open. But we Ahmadis, by the grace of God, do not believe in three-quarters of what God has revealed, but all of it. We do not dare to ignore any of His Word, but submit to it in totality. Thus it was that God Almighty let even the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) be a sign for those who have wisdom, and a beautiful exposition of his own station, a station which far from degrading the Holy Prophet (sa) elevates it beyond imagination. For which other Prophet could raise another subordinate Prophet in his own ummah, entirely by way of subservience? The Qur’an tells us that this honour was vouchsafed to the Holy Prophet (sa) alone. Read what the 2nd Khalifa (ra) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at has said on this matter:
“Whenever such a need arises, God will raise one of his own followers to lead and guide the other followers. Such a one will owe everything to the Holy Prophet. He will have learnt everything from him. Whatever he is able to do, by way of reform and reconstruction, will be credited to the Holy Prophet. What one owes to any one teacher, one really owes to the teacher’s teacher. A follower cannot be separated from his founder, even as a pupil cannot be separated from his teacher. The follower, who leads other followers will be under debt to the Holy Prophet.” 1
To close, I will present an extract on this very allegation by the Promised Messiah (as) himself, who explains the nature of this servitude far better than anyone else can:
‘Say: O my servants who have committed excesses against your own selves despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah will forgive all sins. [39:54] In this verse instead of: O servants of Allah; the Holy Prophet (sa) was commanded to say: O my servants. This verse was revealed in this form so that God Almighty might convey the good news of limitless mercies and might comfort those who are broken-hearted in consequence of their sins. Thus, Allah the Glorious desired to exhibit a sample of His mercies and to make it manifest to what extent He honours His faithful servant with special favours. By adopting the form: Say: O my servants; God in effect said: Look at My beloved Messenger and see at what high rank he has arrived through his perfect obedience to Me that now all that is Mine is his. He who desires salvation should become his servant. That is to say, he should obey him so perfectly as if he was his slave. Then whatever sins he might have committed will be forgiven him. The word ‘abd in Arabic idiom also means slave as it is said: ‘…a believing slave is better than an idolater…’ [2:222]
In the verse to which we have drawn attention, it is indicated that he who desires salvation should establish the relationship of a slave with this Prophet. That is to say, he should not step outside his commandment and should consider himself bound to his obedience as a slave is bound and he would then obtain salvation. One pities those benighted souls who bear such rancour towards the Holy Prophet (sa) that they consider that names like Ghulam Nabi, Ghulam Rasul, Ghulam Mustafa, Ghulam Ahmad and Ghulam Muhammad, amount to associating the Holy Prophet (sa) with God, whereas the verse indicates that these names are a means of salvation. As ‘abd implies that a person so named should refrain from every kind of freedom and self-direction and should be completely obedient to his master, therefore, the seekers after truth have been urged that if they wish to attain salvation they should adapt themselves to this condition. This verse has the same connotation as the verse: ‘Say, ‘If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you and forgive you your faults…’ [3:32].
Perfect following demands that devotion and full obedience which is conveyed in the expression ‘abd. The verse: Say: O my servants; means in effect: Say: O my followers, who are involved in sins, despair not of mercy of Allah; for Allah, through the blessing of your following me, will forgive all your sins. If the word servants in this verse is construed as meaning the servants of Allah, the meaning of the verse is perverted for it cannot be true that God Almighty would forgive all idol worshippers and disbelievers without their believing in and following the Holy Prophet (sa). Such an interpretation would be contrary to the express directions of the Holy Qur’an.’ 2
Peace be upon you.
- Essence of Islam, Vol. I, pp. 204 – 206