References Before and After 1914
Prophecies of the Holy Prophet (sa)
Fourteen hundred years ago, Hadrat Khataman-Nabiyyin, the Holy Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), gave the glad tiding to his followers of a leader, the Promised Messiah (‘alaihis salam) and Awaited Reformer, who would judge between them with equity and would lead them on the right path. The Holy Prophet (sa) used the word Nabi four times for this Promised One (Sahih Muslim).
The Holy Prophet (sa) asked his followers to convey his salam to this great and holy personage. The Holy Prophet (sa) also said referring to this unique personality:
There is no Prophet between me and him.” (Sunan Abi Daud)
I am a Nabi, and he will be a Nabi.
The Holy Prophet (sa) further said in describing the honour and stature of this grand personality that, “Abu Bakr is the most honoured within my ummah, except if a Nabi should appear.”
Fulfilment of the Prophecies
Then the blessed moment arrived when the holy personage, whose advent had been awaited by thousands of pious Muslims, was raised in the holy town of Qadian. He was granted the status of a Nabi and a Rasul in the sacred converse revealed to him by Almighty Allah. Brahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, published in 1882–1885, includes the revelation:
He it is Who sent His Rasul with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over every other religion. (Brahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 1, p. 498)
Another revelation from Allah follows in the same book, “Champion of God, in the mantle of Anbiya’.” (Ibid., p. 504) In the same book, very close to the above, is the revelation from Allah, “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are hard against the disbelievers and tender among themselves.” (Ibid., p. 508)
The Promised Messiah (as) writes that, “In this Divine revelation I have been named Muhammad and also a Rasul.” (Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 207). Similarly Almighty Allah revealed to him the following, as a saying of the earth, “O Nabi of God, I had not recognised you.” (Haqiqat-ul Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 100). Similarly Allah addressed him as a Nabi in the revelation, “O Nabi of God, feed the wayfarer and the hungry.” Similarly he was called a Nabi in the revelation, “A Nabi came to the world, but the world accepted him not.”
In brief, over a period of twenty-three years, Allah the Most High addressed him as Nabi, Rasul and Mursal. During the last ten years of his life these words appeared with greater frequency.
Belief of the Promised Messiah (as)
When the Promised Messiah (as) received the honour of converse with God, and was repeatedly addressed as a Nabi, a Rasul and a (as) Mursal, he was inclined to interpret these terms in light of the prevailing belief and terminology which had gained common acceptance among the Muslims over the period of one thousand years. He regarded the words Nabi, Rasul and Mursal, which had been revealed to him, as equivalents of Muhaddath, because the Muslims at that time commonly defined a Nabi is one who:
1) brings a complete new shari‘ah, or abrogates a previous shari‘ah;
2) is not the follower of a previous Nabi, but acquires an independent status on his own merit.
The Promised Messiah (as) writes:
Since according to the definition, Nabi and Rasul in Islam means one who brings a complete new shari‘ah, or abrogates some of the ordinances in the previous shari‘ah, and since the Anbiya’ are not known as the followers of a previous Nabi and instead attain relationship with God without the intermediation of any other Nabi, therefore, let everyone be aware lest the same meaning is applied here also. I have no book other than the Holy Qur’an and have no Rasul other than the Holy Prophet (sa). And I believe that our Holy Prophet (sa) is Khatam-ul-Anbiya’ [Seal of the Prophets] and the Holy Qur’an is Khatam-ul-Kutub [final religious Book]. (Letter of the Promised Messiah (as), dated August 17, 1899, in al-Hakm, vol. 3, p. 29)
Because of the definition of nubuwwat prevailing among the Muslims, the Promised Messiah (as) could not possibly call himself a Nabi or a Rasul. To avoid misunderstanding, he used these words with regard to himself very sparingly. When he was addressed as Nabi in the revelations from God, he interpreted the word to mean muhaddathiyyat on the basis of the common belief that there could be no Nabi after the Holy Prophet (sa). This does not mean that he did not understand the nature of his claim. Hadrat Khalifatul Masih II (radi-Allaho ‘anhu) writes:
There was no time when the Promised Messiah (as) did not understand the stature of his claim. At all times from beginning to the end he fully understood the position upon which Almighty Allah had established him. However, he used great care in giving it a name—whether it should be called nubuwwat or muhaddathiyyat. (Haqiqat-ul-Amr, p. 10)
After mentioning that Almighty Allah has raised him as a Muhaddath, the Promised Messiah (as) continues:
And Muhaddath is also a Nabi in a sense, because he is honoured with converse with Almighty God, secrets of the unseen are revealed to him, and like the Prophets and Messengers, revelations granted to him are safeguarded from the touch of Satan. True secrets of the shari‘ah are opened to him, and he is appointed by God in exactly the same manner as Anbiya’. Just like the Anbiya’, it is his duty to proclaim himself loudly; the one who refuses to respond to him is liable, up to a point, to be punished by God. Nubuwwat does not mean anything except that the above matters be found in him. (Taudihih-eMaram, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 3, p. 60)
In other words, he interpreted the word Nabi in the sense of Muhaddath. However, since the Promised Messiah (as) was a Nabi in the sight of God, and He was repeatedly addressing the Promised Messiah (as) in the words of Nabi and Rasul, the Promised Messiah (as), could not continue that belief. He writes:
Afterwards the revelation of Allah which descended upon me like a pouring rain, forced me to change my previous beliefs (1) and He granted me the title of “Nabi” in very clear words but in a manner of calling me “Nabi” from one aspect and “Ummati” from another aspect.
Afterwards he announced publicly that he was superior to Jesus Christ (may peace be on him) in every way. In short when the Promised Messiah (as) clearly recognised that the prevailing definition of nubuwwat was not a comprehensive definition, and that it is not necessary for a Nabi to bring new shari‘ah, nor that he should abrogate the previous shari‘ah or forsake the obedience of the previous Nabi, then the Promised Messiah (as) announced the concept of nubuwwat and risalat in very clear words.
Nubuwwat Defined by God
The Promised Messiah (as) says:
1) In His revelations, Almighty Allah has used the term nubuwwat and risalat with reference to me hundreds of times. But it refers to the converse with God, which is frequent and contains knowledge of the unseen, nothing more. Everyone has a right to adopt an idiom, and this is the definition adopted by God that He has given the title of nubuwwat to the frequent converse with Him. (Chashma-e-Ma‘arifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, p. 341)
2) By nubuwwat I only mean frequency of converse with God, which is granted as a consequence of following the Holy Prophet (sa). You also believe in converse with God; so the disagreement is on the terminology only. What you call converse with God, I call its frequency as nubuwwat in accordance with the commandment of God. (Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 503)
According to His own View
3) In my view, a Nabi is one upon whom the words of God descend in a manner that is unambiguous, definite, in abundance, and contains knowledge of the unseen. That is why God has granted me the title of Nabi. (Tajalliyat-eIlahiyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, 412)
4) He who manifests the knowledge of the unseen from God will, by definition, be truly called a Nabi in accordance with the following verse: …He does not grant anyone ascendency over his domain of the unseen…. [except him whom He chooses as His Messenger.] (al-Jinn, 72:27) (Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 208)
5)In Islamic terminology, a Nabi is one who receives converse from God which contains knowledge of the unseen, mighty prophecies, and conveys them to Allah’s creatures. (Speech of the Promised Messiah (as), al-Hakm, May 6, 1908)
6) If one who is bestowed knowledge of the unseen by God Almighty cannot bear the title of Nabi then how should he be designated? If you should say that such a one should be called Muhaddath, I would counter that no lexicon attributes to tahdith [appointment by God of someone as Muhaddath] the connotation of disclosure of the unseen, but nubuwwat has this connotation. (Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 207)
7) I am called a Nabi because both in Arabic and in Hebrew Nabi means one who receives revelations from God and makes prophecies in abundance. (Letter to Akhbar-e-‘Am, May 23, 1908)
Definition of the Prophets
8) When this communion and converse reaches the highest stage of perfection from the point of view of both quality and quantity and is free from all impurities and deficiencies, and when it openly and explicitly reveals matters pertaining to the unknown, then such a Revelation is in other terms designated as Prophethood. All the Prophets (sa) are in agreement concerning this. (al-Wasiyyat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, p. 311)
Misunderstanding Removed by the Promised Messiah (as)
After this revolutionary correction in the prevailing definition of nubuwwat from about 1901 up to his demise, the Promised Messiah (as) applied the terms Nabi, Rasul, and Mursal to himself openly, repeatedly, and with firm conviction. But the Promised Messiah (as) was always mindful that the common people may misunderstand this. Therefore, whenever he used the term Nabi or Rasul, he explained that by nubuwwat he did not mean the type which requires a new shari‘ah, or a permanent independent claim. He always explained that he is an Ummati of the Holy Prophet (sa) and whatever he has gained, is through the blessings of the Holy Prophet (sa). He further pointed out that his nubuwwat does not in any way contravene the status of the Holy Prophet (sa) as Khataman-Nabiyyin; title of Nabi for an Ummati does not imply any such problem. He writes:
I am not a Rasul or Nabi by virtue of a new law, a new claim and a new name; but I am a Rasul and a Nabi by virtue of perfect reflection. I am the mirror in which the form and the nubuwwat of Muhammadsa are perfectly reflected. (Nuzul-ulMasih, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 381)
He also writes:
Wherever I have denied being a Nabi or a Rasul, it is a denial in the sense that I have not brought any permanent law, nor am I an independent Nabi. I am a Rasul and a Nabi in the sense that I have received spiritual grace from my leader Rasul, and by acquiring his name for myself and through his intermediation, I have received knowledge of the unseen from God, but without a new law. I have never disowned this kind of nubuwwat. Indeed, God has addressed me as Nabi and Rasul in this sense; so even now I do not deny being a Nabi or Rasul in this sense. (Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 210–211)
Then he writes:
However, it must be borne in mind and should never be forgotten, that despite being addressed as a Nabi and Rasul, I have been informed by God that these favours have not descended upon me directly. There is a holy being in heaven whose spiritual grace is with me, that is, Muhammad the Chosen (sa). It is through relationship with him, and by merging myself in him, and by receiving his names—Muhammad and Ahmad—that I am a Rasul as well as Nabi. (Ibid., p. 213)
In March 1908, he explained the point in the following words:
I claim to be a Rasul and a Nabi. The controversy relates to the definition. Whoever is a recipient of converse with God in a manner that exceeds others in quantity and quality, and the converse includes prophecies, would be called a Nabi. This definition applies to me; therefore I am a Nabi. However, it is not a nubuwwat which brings a new law, nor does it abrogate the Book of God. (Badr, March 5, 1908)
In Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, he writes:
Remember that some people are mistaken by my claim to be a Nabi. They imagine that I have claimed the type of nubuwwat which was granted to earlier Añbiya’ on their own. They are wrong in this notion. I have made no such claim. Rather, the will and Divine Wisdom of Almighty Allah decreed to honuor me with this status in order to prove the perfection of the spiritual grace of the Holy Prophet (sa). The blessings of spiritual grace have led me to the status of nubuwwat. Therefore, I cannot be just called a Nabi; rather, a Nabi from one aspect and an Ummati from another aspect. (Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 154)
Given below are some references, illustrating the above clarifications. In these references the Promised Messiah (as) clearly emerges as a claimant of nubuwwat and risalat:
Since I have myself witnessed the clear fulfilment of about 150 prophecies, how can I deny the title of Nabi or Rasul about me? Since Allah the Most High has Himself bestowed these titles upon me, why should I forsake them or fear anyone except Him? I declare in the name of God Who has sent me—and cursed are those who fabricate lies about Him—that He has sent me as the Promised Messiah. (Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 210)
Similarly, Almighty Allah and His Holy Prophet (sa) have given to the Promised Messiah (as) the titles of Nabi and Rasul. (Nazulul-Masih, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 426)
In his second advent, ‘Isa, despite being an Ummati, will be addressed as a Nabi too. (Brahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 19, p. 182)
a. Then what is the reason that on the one hand, the plague is devouring the country and on the other, the earthquakes are not leaving you alone. Look around, O heedless ones! Perhaps a Nabi has been raised among you, whom you are treating as a liar. (Tajalliyat-e-Ilahiyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, p. 401)
b. In this ummah, thousands of saints appeared through the blessing of following the Holy Prophet (sa); and also one appeared who is both an Ummati and a Nabi. (Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 30)
c. The Promised Messiah (as) writes referring to the verse 17:16:
…We never punish unless We have sent a Messenger. (Bani Isra’il, 17:16) “This verse too, points to the appearance of a Rasul in the Latter Days. He is the same as the Promised Messiah.” (Tatimma Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 500)
d. Due to widespread sin and evil deeds, people had become worthy of chastisement in this world. In accordance with His eternal way, Almighty Allah postponed that chastisement, until He had sent a Nabi. When that Nabi had appeared, and this nation was invited through thousands of announcements and booklets, then the time came that they should be punished for their crimes. (Ibid., p. 486)
e. I declare in the name of God Who controls my life that He has sent me and He has granted me the title Nabi. He has called me the Promised Messiah, and He has shown signs for my truthfulness which number about three hundred thousand. (Ibid., p. 503)
f. The Promised Messiah (as) writes in commenting upon the verse:
And among others from among them who have not yet joined them…. (al-Jumu‘ah, 62:4)
This means that there is one group of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) which had not yet appeared. Obviously, the Companions are those who appear during the lifetime of the Nabi and partake of his companionship in the state of being true believers, and benefit from his teaching and training. This proves that there will be a Nabi in the future generations, who would represent the reappearance of the Holy Prophet (sa) by way of reflection. Therefore, his Companions will be the Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa). They will render services in the way of Allah for their faith just like the Companions. In any event, this verse is a prophecy about the appearance of a Nabi in the Latter Days. Otherwise, there was no reason for calling the people who were to be born after the Holy Prophet (sa) as the Companions of the Prophet. (Ibid., p. 502)
g. Moreover, the Promised Messiah (as) writes:
In short I alone have been honoured with so great a share of Divine revelation and of knowledge of the unseen as has not been bestowed on any of the auliya’, abdal, and aqtab among the Muslims before me. For this reason I alone have been bestowed the title of Nabi and no one else has deserved it because it imports frequency of revelation and large disclosure of the unseen, a condition which is not fulfilled by any of them. (Ibid., p. 406–407)
In explaining the verse, “…and the trumpet will be blown…” (2) the Promised Messiah (as) writes:
a. The trumpet here means the Promised Messiah, because the Anbiya’ of God are trumpets. (Chashma-e-Ma‘arifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, p. 85)
b. For giving that verdict God will blow His voice into the Qarna [trumpet]. What is that Qarna ? His Nabi. (Ibid., 334) 1908
When asked by a State Chief whether Mirza Sahib claims to be a Rasul, an Ahmadi recited a Persian couplet of the Promised Messiah (as):
I am not a Rasul and I have brought no new Book.
The Promised Messiah (as) told him:
You should have explained this couplet. I only deny being a Nabi who brings a new Book. Listen! You should never be fearful in stating matters which have been decreed in Heaven. To have any kind of fear is not the way of those who belong to the truthful Jama‘at.
Then the Promised Messiah (as) cited the way of the Companions (ra) of the Holy Prophet (sa) that they were always forthright in expressing their belief, and continued:
I claim to be a Rasul and a Nabi. Actually this is a controversy on the terminology. Whoever receives converse from God which far exceeds the others, and also makes prophecies in abundance, is called a Nabi. This definition truly applies to me; therefore I am a Nabi. (Badr, March 5, 1908)
So, I am a Nabi in accordance with the commandment of God. If I deny that claim, I would commit a sin. Since God has named me Nabi, how can I deny it? (Letter written by the Promised Messiah (as) , Akhbar-e-‘Am, May 26, 1908)
Guidance Given by the Promised Messiah (as) on How to Present His Claim
After proving claims of nubuwwat and risalat from books and letters of the Promised Messiah (as), the question remains that in view of the references in the writings of the Promised Messiah (as) in which he has denied being a Nabi or Rasul according to the prevailing definitions of those terms, what should our response be when an inquirer asks us whether the Promised Messiah (as) was a Nabi and Rasul? Should we say that he was not a Nabi or should we say something else?
The Promised Messiah (as) has himself settled that matter. He gave this issue so much importance that he prepared a booklet for this purpose. It was called Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, meaning, A Misunderstanding Removed. As the name implies, the booklet was written to correct a misunderstanding. This is what happened as stated by the Promised Messiah (as) himself:
Some members of my Jama‘at, who only have a very limited information about my claim and its supporting arguments, who have neither had an opportunity to study my books carefully, nor were they able to acquire all the necessary knowledge by staying in my company for a reasonably long period, sometimes respond to the criticism of the opponents in a manner contrary to the facts. The result is that despite belonging to the truthful Jama‘at, they are put to shame. (Eik Ghalati ka Izalah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 18, p. 206)
The Promised Messiah (as) continues:
Only a few days ago a friend was confronted with an objection from an opponent that he had pledged allegiance to the one who claims to be Nabi and Rasul. The objection was answered by a simple denial. As a matter of fact, such a response is not correct. The truth is that the sacred revelation from Allah the Most High which has descended upon me contains words like Rasul, Mursal, and Nabi—not once but hundreds of times. Then how can it be correct to answer that such words do not exist? (Ibid.)
This reference should be studied with great reverence. The being who was given the exalted titles of Hakam [the Judge] and ‘Adl [the Just] by the Holy Prophet (sa) has said that a simple negation of his status of nubuwwat is not correct. How true are his words:
The result is that despite belonging to the truthful Jama‘at, they are put to shame.
The history of the two Groups of the Ahmadi Muslims bears testimony that those among the followers of the Promised Messiah (as) who denied the Promised Messiah’s (as) claim of nubuwwat and risalat were always put to shame. In every field they have been defeated by the Jama‘at which presents the Promised Messiah (as) with utmost sincerity and faith, as an ummati, zilli Nabi, Rasul, and Mursal.
On May 17, 1908 the Promised Messiah (as) made a speech on the occasion of a reception. A news was printed in Akhbar-e-‘Am stating that the Promised Messiah (as) has denied his claim of nubuwwat in that reception. On the same day, the Promised Messiah (as) wrote a letter to the editor of the paper, refuting this news. The letter starts by saying:
To the Editor, Akhbar-e-‘Am,
In Akhbar-e-‘Am dated May 23rd, 1908, column 1, line 2, a news has been printed about me that I have denied my claim of being a Nabi. In response I would like to make it clear that in my address I proclaimed, and do so again, that the charge preferred against me as if I claim to be a of Nabi who is not bound by the Holy Qur’an, and that I have instituted a new kalimah and have appointed a new qiblah, and that I claim to have abrogated the shari‘ah of Islam, and that I do not follow and obey the Holy Prophet, may peace be on him, is entirely false. I consider a claim of such nubuwwat as amounting to be kufr and I have set forth throughout, in all my books, that I do not claim any such nubuwwat, and that it is a calumny to attribute such a claim to me. The basis on which I call myself a Nabi is that I am honoured with the converse of God Almighty, that He speaks to me frequently, and responds to me, and discloses many hidden things to me, and informs me about future events, in a manner that He adopts only towards one who enjoys special nearness to Him, and that on account of the multiplicity of these matters he has designated me a Nabi. Thus, I am a Nabi in accordance with divine commandment and it would be a sin on my part to deny it, and I shall continue to be firmly established on it till I pass away from the world. I am not a Nabi in the sense of separating myself from Islam, or abrogating any commandment of Islam. I bear the yoke of the Holy Qur’an and no one dare abrogate a single word or vowel point of the Holy Qur’an. I affirm, not out of a desire for self-praise, but on the basis of God’s grace and His promise, that if the whole world were on one side and I were alone on the other side and a matter were put forward as a criterion for determining the truth of a servant of God, I would be granted supremacy by God in such a contest. God would be with me in every aspect of the contest and would grant me victory in every field. It is on this basis that God has designated me Nabi…In short I am called a Nabi because in Arabic and Hebrew Nabi means one who receives revelations from God and makes prophecies in abundance. Without the abundance these meanings cannot be truly applicable. (Letter written by the Promised Messiah (as) published in Akhbar-e-‘Am, May 26, 1908)
This letter was written by the Promised Messiah (as) on May 23rd, 1908 and it was published in Akhbar-e-‘Am on May 26th, 1908, the day of his demise. This was his last letter. If it were true that he had made no claim of nubuwwat, why then would he repudiate the news published in Akhbar-e-‘Am on May 23rd, 1908 that he had denied the claim of nubuwwat. Why, then, would he have said:
I am a Prophet in accordance with the commandment of God. If I deny that claim, I would commit a sin. Since God has named me a Nabi, how can I deny it? I will hold to that belief until I die.
Twice it happened that Ahmadis stated to the opponents that the Promised Messiah (as) was not a Nabi or Rasul. Both times he repudiated that statement—the first time by publishing A Misunderstanding Removed and then in March 1908, as Badr has published it under his diary. The third time when a news item appeared in Akhbar-e-‘Am that he has denied the claim of nubuwwat, he immediately repudiated that news.
These few references make the views of the Promised Messiah (as) about his being a Nabi very clear and obvious. Anyone who says that he had made no claim of nubuwwat and that he was only a Mujaddid or Muhaddath, just like others who had passed before him in the Muslim ummah, is a plain denier of truth.
Views of the First and Second Khalifah
Hadrat Khalifatul Masih I (ra)
The Editor of Badr narrates the following:
It was mentioned that Maulavi Muhammad Husain has written that if the Ahmadis stop calling Mirza Sahib as Nabi he would retract his edict of “kufr.”
Hadrat Khalifatul Masih I (ra) said:
We are not concerned about their edicts; and what is their worth? Ever since Maulavi Muhammad Husain has issued his edict, he can see himself how deep his honour has sunk, and how much honour has been bestowed upon Mirza Sahib. (Badr, April 13, 1911, p. 2)
Hadrat Khalifatul Masih II (ra)
On the occasion of Jalsah Salanah [Annual Convention], Hadrat Khalifatul Masih IIra addressed the audience as following:
1) Tell the whole world clearly that this Nabi appeared in Qadian and his name was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Following the Holy Qur’an and in humble service to the Holy Prophet (sa), he was honoured with the title of “Ahmad,” and he was the recipient of revelations from God. (Badr, January 19, 1911, p. 4)
He also said:
2)The surprising thing is that these people did not consider that since we accept the Promised Messiah (as) as a Nabi, then how can we reject his verdict. (A Muslim is one who accepts all the ones appointed by God.) (al-Hakm, May 14, 1911)
(1) Explanatory note: “That I am nothing in comparison with Messiah, son of Mary; he is a Prophet and is among the honoured ones in the sight of Allah, and if my superiority was manifested in some respect I regard it as a partial superiority.” [Editor]
(2) The reference is to Surah al-Kahf, 18:100 in the Holy Qur’an
The above text is an extract from a speech delivered by Maulana Jalal al-Din Shams (1901 – 1966). It was published in the book Nubuwwat & Khilafat under the title ‘Belief of the Promised Messiah (as) and His Successors about the Nubuwwat of the Promised Messiah (as)’.