Death from plague: Martyrdom or divine punishment?

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Prophecies of the Promised Messiahas – Part XIV

“As far as I can understand, the cure to this impending universal death is only possible through the refinement of faith and enlightenment of belief. The earth cannot cure it as this plague is not a worldly thing. It is from the heavens and none can stop it. It is:

رِجْزٌ مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ

[Punishment from the heavens.]

“It has appeared as a sign of torment in the times of the earlier prophets as well. Hence, the only remedy for it is to raise one’s faith to the highest level. Reunite with Allah the Almighty before it strikes. Seek forgiveness, repent and engage in prayers. There is no medicine for this [disease of the plague]. A medicine could cure it if it was a disease, however, in reality it is a divine torment and a heavenly wrath. What remedy is there except for righteousness? Be aware that if an entire household possesses a single righteous person, Allah the Almighty shall safeguard their complete family. In fact, if their righteousness has reached the highest level, then they can act as an intercessor for their neighborhood as well. Though a righteous person enters paradise whenever they pass away, but at a time when this death is a manifestation of divine wrath and has appeared as a sign upon this earth, my heart does not testify that a righteous person would pass away by this disgraceful death. A righteous one would surely be saved.

“I have repeatedly expressed to my Jamaat that they must not rely merely on [verbal claim] of Bai‘at. Salvation cannot be attained until they realise its reality. The one who is satisfied upon the shell deprives themselves from the kernel. The nobility of a saint does not benefit a disciple if they do not act by themselves. If a doctor gives a prescription to someone and they place it in a box, then it would never prove beneficial for them; they would have only taken benefit by using the prescription from which they deprived themselves. Study [the book] Kishti-e-Nuh [Noah’s Ark] over and over again, and adapt yourselves according to its [directions].

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا

[Surely, he prospers who augments it].

“Ordinarily, thousands of thieves, adulterers, drunkards and crooks claim to belong to the ummah of the Holy Prophetsa,but are they [truly his ummah] in reality? Certainly not. Only that person belongs to his ummah who follows his teachings in their entirety.

“The [present] plague epidemic has not come as a disease. It has only appeared to reform people. You should not correct yourselves from [fear of] its chastisement, but instead, reform yourselves for the sake of Allah the Almighty so that you stay free of Shirk [attributing partners to Allah]. Certain people raise the objection that the plague only takes the lives of the poor. It is another kind of helplessness. Instead of learning a lesson, they object. Several others say that it is a mere disease therefore it has nothing to do with worship, fasting, good and bad deeds, and that one should get it treated from doctors. Hence, recklessness has gone beyond imagination. However, the plague is a mirror of God through which He shall manifest Himself. Beware that Allah the Almighty has not given the plague the name of mercy so that the one who dies from it be considered a martyr. This age is full of threats. It has occurred as a sign. It will dissipate after distinguishing between a believer and a non-believer. Its name is ÑÌÒ [punishment] and it has been called a torment in my revelation. It has been mentioned in the Holy Quran 1300 years ago from today that:

أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ۔۔۔

[‘We shall bring forth for them a creature out of the earth which shall injure them’ (Surah al-Naml, Ch.27: V.83)]. Meaning, that in the age of transgression and wrongdoing, people’s faith in God would become like a child’s play. At that time, We [Allah] shall bring forth a germ which will bite them. Thus, this [plague] is a sign of the  wrath of Allah the Almighty. It is necessary upon every individual to strive for their salvation in order to save themselves from it.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 2, pp. 541-542)

Referring to the words of the Promised Messiahas mentioned in the above extract: “Beware that Allah the Almighty has not given plague the name of mercy so that the one who dies from it be considered a martyr”, opponents of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat’s founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, proclaim that he has rebuked and differed with the Hadith of Bukhari in which the Holy Prophetsa has declared that person to be a martyr who dies as a result of the plague.

The opponents have mischievously presented a phrase from the sayings of the Promised Messiahas without its context and have refrained from citing the entire context to deceive others. The aforementioned complete statement of the Promised Messiahas clarifies that the opponents have raised this allegation by deliberately cherry-picking his sayings and presenting them in a way of objection.

We have presented the statement of the Promised Messiahas at the outset in which neither has he stated that a person who passes away due to the plague cannot be considered a martyr nor has he indicated that he holds such a belief. He states on another occasion:

“Certain Companionsra passed away from this disease [of plague] but they were martyrs.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 362)

In order to understand the words of the Promised Messiahas, “Beware that Allah the Almighty has not given plague the name of mercy so that the one who dies from it be considered a martyr”, we must read the entire text within its context. By pondering over the statement, we find that these words have been used by the Promised Messiahas for that plague which befell his opponents as a torment because of his denial and it appeared as a sign of his truth in accordance with the prophecies mentioned in old scriptures and foretold by the Holy Prophetsa (which have been mentioned in the earlier articles of Responding to Allegations under the heading Prophecies of the Promised Messiahas—Plague).

Hence, referring to this sign of plague, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat states, “Beware that Allah the Almighty has not given plague the name of mercy so that the one who dies from it be considered a martyr”, and explains in the next sentence, “This age is full of threats. It [the plague] has occurred as a sign. It would leave after distinguishing between a believer and a non-believer. Its name is رجز [punishment] and it has been called a torment in my revelation.” The Promised Messiahas has vividly elucidated the fact that those opponents who die by that plague which has appeared as a sign of torment cannot be considered martyrs. He called the plague “رجز” on the basis of the following verse mentioned in the Holy Quran:

فَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا رِجْزًا مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ

“We sent down upon the transgressors a punishment from heavens, because they were disobedient” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.60).

Below is the revelation of the Promised Messiahas in which plague was called a torment:

غضبت غضبا شدیدا

“Days of Allah’s wrath” (Al Hakam, 17 August 1901).

Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran regarding the end of those who worshipped a cow:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوْا الْعِجْلَ سَيَنَالُهُمْ غَضَبٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَذِلَّةٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُفْتَرِينَ

“As to those who took the calf for worship, wrath from their Lord shall overtake them and abasement in the present life. And thus do We reward those who invent lies” (Surah al-Araf, Ch.7: V.153). The word غضبpoints towards the plague in this verse as the Promised Messiahas stated:

“Those who worshipped the cow would experience a torment of abasement and they will receive humiliation in the worldly life, and likewise We [Allah] shall punish other liars … It is verified from Torah, chapter 32 of Exodus, verse 35 that Allah the Almighty sent death upon Bani Israil due to worshipping the cow, i.e. an epidemic fell upon them which caused them to die.” (Siraj-e-Munir, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 12, p. 70)

Taking look at Exodus of the Old Testament, we find that the torment which came upon those who worshipped a cow from the Bani Israil was in fact the plague:

“Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about; see, My angel will go before you. But on the day I settle accounts, I will hold them accountable for the sin. And the Lord inflicted a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.” (Exodus: 32:34-35)

The Holy Prophetsa said:

الطاعون رجز أو عذاب أرسل على بني إسرائيل

“The plague is a “رجز” [punishment] or a torment, which was sent upon Bani Israel” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab as-Salam).

Likewise in Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Abwab al-Janaiz, the Holy Propetsa said that  the plague was the remainder of “رجز” (punishment) or torment which was sent upon a group of Bani Israil. These sayings of the Holy Prophetsa also point towards chapter 2, verse 60 of the Holy Quran, which has been mentioned earlier.

Coming back to the Hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari, which in view of the opponents has been rebuked and reproached by the Promised Messiahas, we find that the Holy Prophetsa said:

“The martyrs are of five kinds; those who pass away due to plague, stomach illness, drowning, being crushed and those who are martyred in the way of Allah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Jihad wal-Siyar)

The above mentioned Hadith clearly shows that the Holy Prophetsa is referring to people who are true believers. This is indicated from the last kind of martyrs, “the one who is martyred in the way of Allah”. Moreover, the Hadith states that the person who drowns is also considered a martyr. So, in this respect, those opponents of Noahas who drowned in the flood should be considered martyrs according to opponents of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. The fact is that the opponents of prophets who die due to a torment cannot be considered martyrs, whether they die from the plague, drowning etc.

The opponents have crafted this allegation in order to stir the emotions of Muslims because followers of the Holy Prophetsa are very sensitive regarding his sayings. However, the Promised Messiah’sas complete statement demolishes their objections, which evidently proves that he is referring to those people who are his deniers and their deaths caused by plague cannot be considered martyrdom as they are tormented in accordance with the prophecies mentioned in old scriptures and foretold by the Holy Prophetsa.

Once, a question was presented before the Promised Messiahas that certain people say that the plague is not a torment from the Divine, but in fact, it is way of martyrdom. Responding to this, the Promised Messiahas said:

“[The status of] martyrdom is related to a true believer who has already sacrificed their soul in the way of Allah the Almighty. Their death is considered martyrdom in all circumstances. However, considering it a general rule that every person who passes away due to the plague is a martyr, [one must ask,] are … Hindus, Arya Samajists, Christians, Atheists and idolaters, who are dying in thousands, attaining the status of martyrdom? Syed Abdul Muhyi Arab said to Maulvi Sanaullah that Rusul Baba of Amritsar died by the torment of the plague, to which he replied that he had died a martyr’s death. Thereupon, Arab Sahib said, ‘Fair enough! I pray that Allah the Almighty grants you a similar kind of martyr’s death.’

“Hence, martyrdom is not connected with death from plague but in fact, this status of martyrdom is for those true believers who devote themselves for Allah the Almighty within their lifetime. The torment of the plague also fell during the time of Mosesas upon his opponents and then again this torment befell the opponents of Jesusas after his death and even now, this torment has descended as a sign by Allah the Almighty.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 9, pp. 194-195)

(Research conducted by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah. Translated by Junaid Ahmad Waraich, Pakistan.)

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