The first maxim through which the truth of a divine reformer is generally evaluated concerns the claimant’s personal purity and piety. The Holy Quran itself has established this criterion. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was directed by God to refer the disbelievers to the period of his life that had already passed as evidence of his truthfulness.
“I dwelt among you a whole lifetime before this. Will you not then reason?” (Quran 10:17)
In 1884, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) received the same revelation. He wrote:
“It was about 1884 that God vouchsafed to me the revelation: ‘I have lived a whole lifetime among you before this, then do you not understand?’ This was an indication on behalf of God, the All knowing, that no opponent of mine would be able to point to any fault in my life. Accordingly up till now, when I am about sixty-five years of age, no one, whether Iiving close to me or far from me, can point to any stain in my past life. Indeed God Himself has made my opponents bear witness to the purity of my past life. For instance, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain has, on many occasions, praised me and the members of my family in his journal Isha’at-as-Sunnah and has claimed that no one is better acquainted with me and my family than him. In this way, an opponent, who became the originator of my condemnation as a disbeliever, has confirmed the truth of this prophecy.” (Nazool-ul-Masih p. 212).
The question that arises now is whether there is any evidence in history to suggest that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s (as) life was of singular purity and piety. If there is, then he passed this very essential test of the truthfulness of his claim. Before presenting statements from his contemporaries, let me share a short video of leading Muslim clerics from today’s Pakistan admitting that Mirza Ahmad (as) was the greatest Islamic scholar of his time.
1. The editor of the leading Urdu newspaper Zamindar of Lahore who had an opportunity to know Mirza Ahmad (as) from very early in his age stated in relation to him:
“He would be 22 or 23 years of age at that time. We can say from personal observation that even in his youth Mirza Sahib was a very virtuous, God fearing and venerable person. After work, all his time was spent in religious studies. He did not meet people much. In 1877, we had the honor of his hospitality at his home in Qadian for one night. In those days too, he was so engrossed in worship and devotion that he conversed little.” (Din, Maulana Siraj ud. Zamindar, June 8, 1908)
The age of early twenties is a period when young men normally begin to enjoy manhood and indulge in pursuits of fun and enjoyment. Yet, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) spent most of his time in meditation, worship and studying religion.
2. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s (as) piety was also vouched for by the teacher of Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Maulana Sayyid Mir Hasan when Ahmad (as) was a young man of around 29 years of age. He stated:
“Hadhrat Mirza Sahib came to Sialkot in 1864 during his service and he lived there. As he was a pious man, he was averse to trivial and nonsensical talk. He lived in aloofness.” (Hasan, Maulana Sayyid Mir. vide Sheikh Abdul Qadir, Hayat i Tayyebah, p. 29)
3. Maulana Abdullah al Imadi, another reputed intellectual and scholar of the Indian subcontinent (editor of famous newspaper Vakeel of Amritsar, which often carried anti-Ahmadi comments), said:
“By virtue of his study and upright nature, he had attained mastery over religious literature. In 1877, when he was 35 or 36 years of age, we find him charged with unusual religious fervor. He is leading the life of a true and pious Muslim. His heart is unimpressed by worldly attractions. He is happy in solitude as if he were in congenial company and when in company he is enjoying the bliss of solitude. We find him restless and it appears as if he is in search of a lost thing no trace of which can be found in the mortal world. Islam has so overwhelmed him that he holds debates with the Arya and writes voluminous books in support of Islam.”
The Maulana added:
“As to his character, there is not the slightest trace of a blot on it. He lived a virtuous life, the life of a righteous, God-fearing person. To conclude, the first fifty years of his life, in terms of moral integrity, commendable habits, and sterling services to religion, raised him to an enviable position of great distinction and honor among Indian Muslims.” (Imadi, Maulana Abdullah al. Vakeel, Amritsar, May 30, 1908)
4. Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi, the then leader of the Jamaat Ahle Hadeeth in India and editor of the popular Muslim periodical Isha’atas Sunnah knew the Promised Messiah (as) since childhood. He had this to say:
“According to the experience and observation of friends and foes alike, the author of Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as)) regulates his life according to the Shariah of Islam and is a pious and truthful person by habit.” (Batalvi, Maulvi Muhammad Hasan, Isha’atas Sunnah, vol. 7, no. 9, p. 284 )
He later became one of Mirza Ahmad’s (as) arch enemies. Although Mr. Batalvi subsequently issued edicts of apostasy against him, yet he did not ever raise any objection against his character and continued to hold his personal piety and purity in high esteem. Just as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was considered Siddiq (Truthful) and Ameen (Trustworthy) by the Meccans who turned on him later, Mirza Ahmad’s (as) contemporaries considered him righteous and pious before turning on him when he claimed to be a divine reformer.
5. Hadhrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid, the patron saint of Chachran Shareef, a contemporary of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), is revered in Pakistan and India as a great saint of his time. He too held Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) in high regard and vouched for his excellent character. He declared that:
“Mirza Sahib is a good and virtuous person. He has sent me a book containing the revelations received by him. That book alone shows his spiritual excellence. He is a true person in his claim. He is not a forger nor a liar.” (Farid, [Hadhrat] Khawaja Ghulam. vide. Isharat e Faridi, vol, 3, p. 42 )
The aforementioned testimonial acknowledges that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was a recipient of Divine revelation. Hadhrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid also referred to his endeavors in relation to establishing Tauheed in these words:
“Mirza Sahib spends all his time in the service of Allah, prayer and recitation of the Quran and similar other preoccupations. He is so resolved to champion Islam that he has invited Queen Victoria of England to accept Islam. Similarly, he has invited the kings of France, Russia and other countries to accept Islam. All his efforts are for the purpose that the creed of Trinity and the Cross, or of total disbelief and godlessness should be eradicated and in its place the Unity of God should be established on earth.” (Farid, [Hadhrat] Khawaja Ghulam. vide. Isharat e Faridi, vol. 3, p. 66)
Does this not remind us of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who sent such invitations to some of the mightiest kings and emperors of that period? Hadhrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid further declared:
“Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib Qadiani is on the truth. He is truthful in his affair. Day and night he is engrossed in the service of God Almighty. He has given his life for the progress of Islam and raising aloof the cause of the faith. I see nothing wrong or undesirable in him at all. If he has claimed to be the Mahdi and Isa, that too is among the things which are permissible.” (Farid, [Hadhrat] Khawaja Ghulam. vide. Isharat e Faridi, vol. 3, p. 79)
He was so impressed by the manner in which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) strove to serve the cause of Allah that he gave vent to his feelings of disgust with the ulema of his age who opposed him. He stated:
“Look at the ulema of that time that, leaving alone all false creeds, they attacked this decent man who is a complete follower of the Prophet of Allah and who is on the right path and shows guidance to others. Such a venerable man who is perfect in all respects has been condemned as a kafir although if you see his writings they show that they are beyond the capacity of a human being. And all that he says is totally full of inner knowledge and truths and it is wholly the path of true guidance. And he is not a disbeliever in the faith of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat and the requirements of the religion of Muhammad (pbuh).” (Farid, [Hadhrat] Khawaja Ghulam. vide. Isharat e Faridi, vol. 3, p. 79)
6. Another Sufi saint of the subcontinent, Hadhrat Sufi Ahmad Jan of Ludhiana spoke of these revelations vouchsafed unto Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) and states that he:
“is not one of the common run of divines and spiritual preceptors, but has been specially commissioned by God and is a recipient of revelation. Hundreds of revelations and messages and prophecies and true dreams and Divine directions and glad tidings relating to this book (Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya) and comprising intimations of triumph and Divine help and Divine guidance couched in various languages, such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and even English, though the author is not at all versed in English, have been set out in this book, supported by the testimony of hundreds of opponents of Islam, which establishes their truth and proves that the author is doubtlessly writing this book under Divine instruction. It is also clear that according to the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), Allah, the Lord of Glory and Honor, would raise among Muslims at the beginning of every century one who would revive faith. The author of this book is the Reformer of the 14th century and is a profound scholar and one of the most perfect individuals of the Muslim community. This is also supported by another Hadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) wherein he is reported to have said: “The true divines among my followers will be like the prophets of Israel.”” (Jan, [Hadhrat] Sufi Ahmad. Tassurate Qadian)
Hadhrat Sufi Ahmad Jan of Ludhiana believed Mirza Ahmad (as) was the 14th Century Reformer (Mujaddid) even before he had made such a claim.
7. Hadhrat Sufi Ahmad Jan’s opinion was shared by Maulana Muhammad Shareef of Banglore, the editor of Manshoor Muhammadi, who wrote an extended review on the publication of Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya. He stated that Hadhrat Ahmad (as) was:
“the greatest of Ulema, the illustrious general, pride of the followers of Islam in India, the accepted one of God.” (Shareef, Maulana Muhammad, Manshoor Muhammadi, Banglore, Rajab 25, 1300, p. 214)
The Maulana also had absolutely no doubt that Mirza Ahmad (as) was a recipient of divine revelation. He stated:
“The author has also disclosed his visions and revelations to the opponents of Islam and if anyone has any doubts, he can attain certainty of observation with regard to these Divine revelations which are a gift of God by staying in the company of the author (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as)).” (Shareef, Maulana Muhammad, Manshoor Muhammadi, Bangalore, Jamadi al Awwal 5, 1301. AH)
Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi was also convinced of the Divine nature of these revelations. He alluded to Hadhrat Ahmad’s (as) challenge to the deniers of revelation and stated that those who denied the possibility of it should come to Qadian and satisfy themselves that the challenger is a recipient of this bounty. He declared that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as):
“.. has announced to the whole world that anyone who doubts the truth of Islam should come to him and should witness the intellectual and spiritual proofs based upon the Quran, and the miraculous manifestation of the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) in support of the truth of Islam by which he means the revelations and signs granted to the author of Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya… Not one of the revelations received by the author of Baraheen e Ahmadiyya have been proved false up to this day. These cannot therefore be considered satanic suggestions. Can any Muslim follower of the Quran believe that Satan can be given knowledge, like the Prophets and the angels, of that which is hidden so that none of his disclosures should lack truth?” (Batalvi, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain. Isha’atas Sunnah, vol. vii, no. 6, June/August 1884 p. 348)
8. At the time of the Conference of Religions held at Lahore in December 1896, a Muslim editor of an independent Indian periodical observed:
“If the paper of Mirza Sahib had not been there, Muslims would have faced degradation and shame at the hands of other religions. But the powerful hand of God saved Holy Islam from defeat, and through that paper granted Islam such a triumph that let alone its adherents, even the opponents cried out spontaneously: “This paper is the best of all! This paper is the best of all!”” (Guhar Asafi, Calcutta, January 24, 1897)
This ‘paper of Mirza Sahib’ was later published in book form titled “Philosophy of the teachings of Islam” and is available online at http://www.alislam.org/books/philosophy/
9. Pir Mehr Ali Shah of Golra Sharif in Punjab who later became engaged in a controversy with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) also believed him to be a recipient of Divine help. In a statement made to Babu Feeroz Ali, he stated:
“Imam Jalal ud Din Sayuti says that there are certain stages of spiritual progress where many servants of Allah become the Messiah and Mahdi. I cannot say whether he is only at that stage or whether he is the same Mahdi promised for this Ummah by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) but he is proving to be a cuffing sword against false religions and is certainly Divinely aided.” (Golarvi, Pir Mehr Ali Shah. Al Hakam, June 24, 1904, p. 5 50. Al Quran 16.37 )
This statement was published in 1904, more than six years after Pir Mehr Ali had turned against the Promised Messiah (as). He also lived another thirty-three years after its publication and died in May 1937. Yet, in all those years, he never contested the aforementioned statement attributed to him although it was published in Al Hakam after he became engaged in a dispute with Hadhrat Ahmad (as) and even proceeded to write a book against him.
10. Muslim scholar and senior political leader of the Indian independence movement, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was also an acclaimed writer, wrote about the Jihad of the Promised Messiah (as) in these words:
“From our hearts we cannot erase the memory of the time when Islam was encircled by vicious attacks of its enemies. Although the Muslims were duty-bound under the commandment of God, the True Defender, to protect Islam by all possible means, but they were powerless and incapable to do so. They were sobbing under the punishment for their own mistakes. On one hand, the scope of extended attacks on Islam was such that the entire Christian world was determined to blow out the divinely lit light of Islam considering it the greatest hurdle in its way. Great intellectual powers and enormous wealth were supporting these attacks enthusiastically. On the other hand, condition to defend Islam was so miserable that there were not even arrows in response of gun shots. There was no defense and no power to strike back…. Under these conditions Muslims initiated a defense in which Mirza Sahib had a significant part to play. This defense shattered earlier Christian influence, which they had gained under the protective life support of the British Empire. And thus millions of Muslims were protected from a greater and more severe Christian assault. … The illusory grandeur of Christianity itself began to crumble… Thus, this service of Mirza Sahib will keep the coming generations obliged forever. In this Jihad of the pen in defense of Islam, he was in the front line and he left behind him such literature that would last as long as the Muslims have lifeblood in their veins and love of Islam in their national conscience.” (Newspaper “Vakeel”, Amritsar, May 1908)
Abul Kalam Azad was an important figure in the Indian Independence movement and was a contemporary of the Promised Messiah (as).
11 & 12. In the Preface to the Urdu translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi and Hazrat Shah Rafi-ud-Din,published in 1934 in Delhi by Nur Muhammad, proprietor of As-hul-Mutabi‘, it is stated:
“In that period, Bishop Lefroy gathered an army of missionaries and left England, promising that he would soon convert the whole of India to Christianity. Having collected a great amount of money from the people of England, and assurances from them of continuing assistance in the future, he entered India and raised a big storm. His attack on the teachings of Islam was a failure … But the attack based on the argument that Jesus was alive in heaven in his physical body, while all other prophets were buried in the earth, was in his view proving to be effective upon the general public. At that juncture, Maulvi Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani stood up and addressed Lefroy and his group, saying: ‘The Jesus you talk about is dead and buried like other mortals, and the Jesus whose coming is prophesied is myself, so you must accept me.’ By this means he made things so difficult for Lefroy that he could not shake him off. In this way, he defeated all the Christian missionaries from India to England.” (page 30)
Note the words of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, “He (Mirza Sahib) defeated all the Christian missionaries from India to England.” Maulana Thanvi couldn’t have better described the Kasr-e-Saleeb (Breaking of the Cross) that the Messiah was foretold to undertake.
As you can see, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was the most venerated Islamic Scholar of his age. He was known for his piety, righteousness, wisdom and truth. However, just as the Meccan chiefs who considered Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the most truthful and trustworthy turned against him as soon as he announced his mission, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s (as) contemporaries also turned against him when he embarked on his mission – in the capacity of the same Imam Mahdi and Messiah who was foretold to come in the latter days – to reform the Muslims. Modern day Mullahs spew a lot of venom against the holy personality of Ahmad (as), but the truth is that their contemporaries (who might have differed on theological grounds later) did not find one blot in his character to point finger at. Why would such a pious and righteous defender of Islam suddenly decide to lose all his fame in making a claim? Reflect!
You can study more about the Promised Messiah (as) on this page.