The plague inoculation: A divine command

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Opponents level an allegation against the Promised Messiahas asserting that his instruction to his community not take the inoculation for the plague, prescribed by the British government, was not from divine command. Rather, they allege, the Promised Messiahas was simply not convinced by the efficacy of the inoculation and therefore stopped his community from taking it.

Further, they question why the Promised Messiahas prescribed other medicines to treat the plague, if medicine against the plague had been altogether prohibited by God?

For every age, the most obedient person of God Almighty is the prophet of the time. It is he who displays the proper manner and balance between trust in God and using worldly means. Despite divine promises, the prophet applies all possible means that humans require until God Himself, to display a sign, commands the prophet to stop using worldly means.

Accordingly, despite Allah’s promise of:

لَہٗ مُعَقِّبٰتٌ مِّنۡۢ بَیۡنِ یَدَیۡہِ وَ مِنۡ خَلۡفِہٖ یَحۡفَظُوۡنَہٗ مِنۡ اَمۡرِ اللّٰہِ

“For him (the Messenger) is a succession  [of angels]  before him and behind him; they guard him by the command of Allah.” (Surah ar-Ra‘d, ch.13: v.12)

The Holy Prophetsa still equipped himself with two sets of armour during the Battle of Badr and during the Battle of Ahzab planned for his own personal security. Was the Holy Prophetsa in need of this armour or the security of his companions for his protection? Certainly not. However, respecting the laws of nature, he made such arrangements.

In the same vein, the plague was manifested as a sign for the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas, however, where the Promised Messiahas drew the attention of mankind towards seeking forgiveness, he also recommended various medicines for the plague, yet emphasised that the true remedy was istighfar (seeking forgiveness). It is totally incorrect and absurd that opponents assert that the Promised Messiahas stopped his community from inoculation against the plague because he was not convinced of its efficacy.

This allegation is irrational because in 1902, when another fierce and extremely destructive breakout of the plague became manifest across India, the Promised Messiahas categorically acknowledged the effectiveness of the inoculation against the Plague, prescribed by the British government. He said:

“There can be no doubt that until now, inoculation is by far the best physical remedy that the government has found, and there is no denying that this remedy has proven to be effective.” (Noah’s Ark, p.2)

During the fierce outbreak of the plague, Allah the Almighty revealed to the Promised Messiahas: ِ

اِنِّی أُحَافِظُ کُلَّ مَنْ فِی الدَّارِ

“I shall protect all those in [thy] house.”

Also:

وَأُحَافِظُکَ خَاصَّۃً

“And I shall protect you especially”

Regarding these promises by Allah, the Promised Messiahas wrote:

“Allah the Almighty was aware that the plague would spread within this country [India] and to an extent, Qadian would also not be safeguarded from it. It is for this reason, 23 years ago from today, [Allah] said that the person who enters this mosque and this house i.e. with sincerity and faith, would be protected from it. Accordingly, addressing me, Allah has recently revealed:

اِنِّی أُحَافِظُ کُلَّ مَنْ فِی الدَّارِ اِلَّا الَّذِیْنَ عَلَوْا مِنِ اسْتِکْبَارٍ وَأُحَافِظُکَ خَاصَّۃً سَلَامٌ مِنْ رَبٍّ رَحِیْمٍ

This means, ‘I [Allah] will protect every person from death by the plague who resides in your house, apart from those who grow in arrogance. And I shall protect you especially. May peace be upon you from the Lord of Mercy.’” (Nuzul-ul-Masih, p. 23)

In the footnote of page 67 in the book Nuzul-ul-Masih, the Promised Messiahas wrote, “Today, 26 July 1902”.

This means that the revelations written on page 23 of Nuzul-ul-Masih were revealed in either June or July. After these divine declarations of protection, the Promised Messiahas realised that if he or his followers took the inoculation, it could make the divine promise of protection seem ambiguous and unclear for people.

The Promised Messiahas believed that though he was to be protected anyway, people would still attribute his protection from the plague to the inoculation and not the promise of God. For this reason, the Promised Messiahas wrote the following to the British government in his book Noah’s Ark:

“This notwithstanding, we must say to this kind government with all due respect that had there not been a heavenly prohibition for us, we would have been the first among its subjects to be inoculated. The heavenly prohibition is that God in this age desires to show a heavenly sign of His mercy to mankind. Addressing me, He said: ‘You and those who dwell within the four walls of your house; those who unconditionally follow you and are obedient to you, and who on account of true righteousness have become devoted to you, shall all be safeguarded against the plague. This will be a sign of God in the Latter Days so that He might demonstrate a distinction between people. But those who do not follow you completely are not of you. Be not anxious on their account.’ This is a divine directive, on account of which I, myself and all those who dwell within the four walls of my house have no need to be inoculated. For as I have mentioned, God – Who is the Lord of heaven and earth, and beyond Whose knowledge and power there is nothing – revealed to me long ago that He would save everyone who lives inside the four walls of this house from death by the plague, provided he gives up all antagonism and enters into the allegiance of Bai‘at in all sincerity, submission and humility. He must not be arrogant, wilful, proud, heedless or vain towards God’s commands and His appointed one, and his conduct ought to be in conformity with my teachings.” (Noah’s Ark, pp.2-3)

He further wrote:

“I consider it a sin to throw doubt on this sign by recourse to inoculation, for it is a sign which God, for our sake, wishes to demonstrate clearly in the world. I dare not demean His true sign and His true promise by resorting to inoculation. If I did, I would be accountable for the sin of not believing in the promise that God has given to me. If I were to benefit from inoculation, then I should be grateful to the doctor who invented the vaccine and not to God Who promised me that He would protect everyone dwelling in this house.” (Noah’s Ark, p.5)

He then said:

“It should also be kept in mind that on account of this divine promise, it is necessary for me to eschew any human contingencies, lest our enemies attribute this divine sign to other agencies. However, in addition to this, should God Almighty Himself disclose any other means or remedy to me through His word, then such means or remedy would not contravene this sign, for they emanate from God who has manifested this sign.” (Noah’s Ark, p.8)

The Promised Messiahas first mentioned the prohibition of the inoculation in the opening pages of Noah’s Ark. These pages were first published on 24 September 1902 in Al Hakam and were later republished in book form on 5 October 1902.

Many weeks later, the Promised Messiahas had mentioned some drawbacks and negative effects of the inoculation. Thus, if these drawbacks that the Promised Messiahas had mentioned were prior to the above revelations and the initial pages of Noah’s Ark that were published in Al Hakam, then this allegation (that the Promised Messiahas supposedly stopped his community from being inoculated after witnessing its ineffectiveness) would stand some ground.

The fact that the Promised Messiahas published his view regarding the inefficacy of the inoculation many weeks after publishing his revelations of divine protections dismisses any allegation that the reason the Promised Messiahas stopped his community from being inoculated because he witnessed the ineffectiveness of the inoculation, not because of divine command.

Another allegation levelled against the Promised Messiahas is that he prophesied an outbreak of plague on 6 February 1898 and claimed that the outbreak would occur within the next two winters. However, the plague started within that very year and began killing people across Punjab, therefore the outbreak was well before any winter, apparently disproving the prophecy of the Promised Messiahas.

Opponents who have raised this allegation do not present the original writing of the Promised Messiahas where he wrote this. For our readers, the original extract is presented:

“Today, Monday, 6 February 1898, I saw the angels of God planting black trees across areas of Punjab. The trees were extremely ugly, dark, terrifying and short in length. I enquired from some of those who were planting them, saying, ‘What are these trees?’ In reply, they said that these were the trees for the plague, which would soon spread across the country. I am somewhat unclear whether he said this disease would spread fiercely in the coming winter [this year] or the next winter [next year].”

In Punjab, the months of December, January and February are the winter months. The opponents who have raised this allegation claim that the plague spread within that very year, thus (God forbid) the dream of Promised Messiahas proved to be false.

One should realise that this dream was shown in February 1898 and it indicated that the plague was soon going to spread in the country. The opponents also ignored that the angels mentioned that it would spread in the coming winter or the following winter.

6 February 1898 (when the revelation took place) to 6 February 1899 is the first year and the plague had begun by December 1898, proving the dream of the Promised Messiahas to be true. Those who raise this allegation purposefully do not mention the whole original text of the Promised Messiahas and try to deceive their listeners. This allegation holds no ground and the allegation itself actually consolidates the dream and prophecy of the Promised Messiahas.

(Research conducted by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah. Translated by Ataul Fatir Tahir, London.)

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