Were Ahmadis affected by the plague in India?

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Prophecies of the Promised Messiahas – Part XI

Opponents often level an allegation against the Jamaat and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas that Ahmadis were also affected by the plague and that it is falsely said that Ahmadis were either entirely safeguarded from the plague or only a handful of Ahmadis fell victim to it as compared to the casualties of other individuals in the plague affected regions. 

Opponents claim that there is no evidence of this assertion that Ahmadis were completely saved from the plague and in fact the total number of Ahmadis in the year of the plague did not exceed 300, hence, they ask, what comparison do 300 individuals possess with the remaining millions of people present in India?

The opponents deceitfully raise the above allegation as no reference is provided from the writings of the Promised Messiahas or any Khalifa which supports their claim, that according to the Jamaat, not a single Ahmadi life was lost during the outbreak of plague.

Below is the extract of the Promised Messiahas that the opponents present to reinforce this assertion:

“Several members of our Jamaat mistakenly declare that not a single member of our Jamaat will pass away [from the plague], but this is a huge misunderstanding and an improbability. Although Allah the Almighty has promised to a certain degree [that our Jamaat will be safeguarded] but it does not mean that nobody at all from our Jamaat will be affected by the plague. Our Jamaat must bear this fact in mind that Allah the Almighty has certainly not promised that none among us would pass away [from the plague]. Surely, Allah the Almighty states:

أَمَّا مَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ

“‘As to that which benefits men, it stays on the earth’ (Surah al-Ra‘d, Ch.13: V.18), hence those persons who make themselves beneficial to mankind, Allah the Almighty will prolong their lives. Act mercifully towards the creation of Allah the Almighty; the rights of mankind must be fulfilled in their entirety.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 5, pp. 123-124 [2016])

The above mentioned statement was made by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat on 9 May 1903 which clearly states, “Our Jamaat must bear this fact in mind that Allah the Almighty has certainly not promised that none among us would pass away [from the plague]”, thereby contradicting with the fraudulent claims of the opponents which indicate that members of the Jamaat hold this view that not one Ahmadi was affected by the plague. The accusation of the opponents is quite contrary to the claims of the Promised Messiahas.

Secondly, the opponents demand factual proof which shows that only a handful of Ahmadis suffered from the outbreak of the plague in comparison to others and put emphasis on their fabricated deposition by saying that Ahmadis were only 300 when the plague spread, and to draw their comparison with millions of individuals belonging to India appears irrational.

It would have been more reasonable and rational if the opponents had provided a factual statistical analysis from history to prove their claim and to falsify the Jamaat’s point of view. However, they do not present a single historical reference in their support, and it is impossible for them to do so because there is no basis to their fictitious assertions.

Now we present those facts which show that Ahmadis were far less affected by the outbreak of plague than anyone else. Moreover, we will highlight the actual claim of the Promised Messiahas regarding the plague.

The opponents point out that the total number of Ahmadis was only 300 at the time of the plague. A detailed response to this allegation has been recorded in an earlier article of Responding to Allegations series, under the heading The Ahmadiyya Jamaat shall prevail (Prophecies of the Promised Messiahas – Part VII) A look at the figures of the Jamaat in the time of the Promised Messiahas and it has been clearly proven through external sources that Ahmadis were not just 300 in the years of the plague epidemic, but in fact they numbered in thousands.

However, if for instance we consider the viewpoint of the opponents to be true that the entire Jamaat comprised of 300 individuals in the years of the plague, it would certainly support the perspective of the Jamaat and the founder of Ahmadiyyat that merely a handful of Ahmadis were afflicted by the plague because had it not been the case, the Jamaat would have been totally wiped out from the face of earth. Hence, a huge rise in the number of Ahmadis and the spread of Ahmadiyyat in more than 200 countries and territories of the world clearly proves the fact that Ahmadis were surely safeguarded from the plague in large numbers.

Moreover, opponents admit on other occasions that the increase in the number of Ahmadis stopped in the year 1906 and their number did not exceed the figure of 400,000, as though they acknowledge the fact that Ahmadis rose in number from 300 to 400,000 after the plague epidemic.

Opponents not only hide facts but also the actual claim of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat that he presented with respect to the prophecy of the plague. The Promised Messiahas, while explaining the following revelation:

إِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوْا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ۔ اِنَّہُ اٰوَی الْقَرْیَۃَ

“Allah does not bring about a change in the condition of a people until they bring about a change in their own lives. He will give shelter to the town [after it has suffered a little]” that he received about the plague, states in his book Dafi‘-ul-Bala (1902):

Awa is an Arabic word that means ‘safeguarding from destruction and disorder’, and ‘taking into one’s protection’. This is a sign pointing to the fact that among the types of plague the most dreadful type is the one called ta‘un-e-jarif – meaning, ‘the sweeper’ – from which people flee from place to place and die like dogs. The situation is beyond the limits of human tolerance. Thus, this divine revelation contains the promise that this condition will never affect Qadian. This revelation’s interpretation is provided by another revelation:

لَوْ لَا الْاِکْرَامُ لَھَلَکَ الْمُقَامُ

Meaning that, had Allah not held this Movement in high regard, then He would have destroyed Qadian as well. Two points are gleaned from this revelation: First, it would not matter if Qadian were to experience an incident on rare occasions – which is within the bounds of human tolerance, does not wreak havoc and does not induce a panic-driven exodus – because such an extremely rare occurrence amounts to nothing. Second, it is necessary that a devastating plague must break out in those cities and villages which, in comparison with Qadian, house the extremely rebellious, wicked, oppressive, corrupt, immoral and dangerous opponents of this Movement, to such a degree that people will lose their senses, and run in every direction. In accordance with its vastness, I have the defined the word awa in this manner. I claim with conviction that ta‘un-e-jarif, which empties and swallows villages entirely, shall never break out in Qadian. In contrast, however, in other cities and villages, where the oppressive and corrupt are, dreadful scenes are sure to manifest. In the entire world, it is Qadian alone for which this promise was made.” (Defence Against the Plague and a Criterion for the Elect of God, pp. 11-12 [English Translation of Dafi-ul-Bala])

Regarding the above-mentioned explanation of the Promised Messiahas, opponents of the Jamaat allege that anyone can present a similar claim. However, during the outbreak of plague, the statements of the people are recorded by the Promised Messiahas in the same book Dafi‘-ul-Bala where he states:

“I have heard that when the plague first broke out in Bombay, the initial view of the people was that this was a miracle of Imam Hussain because the epidemic first broke out among certain Hindus who had been in dispute with the Shiites. But when the same disease broke out among the Shiites, their slogans calling upon Imam Hussain abated. Such are the ideas that the Muslims have proposed to eradicate the plague.

“The Christian viewpoint is illustrated by a recent announcement published by Reverend [Herbert Udny] Weitbrecht and his organisation. It is proposed that there is no means of eradicating the plague other than to believe in the Messiah [i.e. Jesusas] as god and to accept his atonement.

“Among the Hindus, members of the Arya sect are vehemently proclaiming that the calamity of the plague is caused by the neglect of the Vedas. They call upon the believers of all other faiths to accept the ‘true teachings’ of the Vedas and – God forbid – denounce all the prophets as impostors. They claim that this measure would avert the plague.

“Then, there is the Sanatan Dharam sect of the Hindus. This sect has suggested an altogether different idea for eradicating the plague – which I would have missed, had I not read the newspaper Akhbar-e-Am. Their view is that the calamity of the plague has broken out due to the [sacrilege of the] cow. If the government were to pass a law prohibiting the slaughter of cattle forever in this country, this would effectively eradicate the plague. In fact, at another place in the same newspaper it is reported that a person even heard a cow saying that the plague has come to this country because of it.” (Defence Against the Plague and a Criterion for the Elect of God, pp. 9-10)

Contrary to the statements of various religions, the Promised Messiahas declares the prophecy of the plague, vouchsafed to him by Allah the Almighty, a criterion to ascertain the truth or falsehood of all religions. The Promised Messiahas states:

“Now, should anyone deny this Messenger of God Almighty and this sign, and if anyone believes that only superficial observances of prayer and supplication, or worship of the Messiah, or blessings of the cow, or belief in the Vedas – despite opposition, enmity, and disobedience towards this Messenger – will quell the plague, then such an opinion, unless supported by evidence, is not worthy of acceptance. Hence, a truly excellent opportunity now presents itself to any individual from among all these sects who wishes to furnish proof in support of the truthfulness of their respective faith. It is as if God has provided an exhibition hall so that the truthfulness or falsehood of every religion can be demonstrated. And God Himself took the initiative to put forth the name of Qadian [in order to establish its truth].

“Now if the Arya people consider the Vedas to be true, they should prophesy that their Parmeshwar [God] will protect Benares from the plague, for it is the true seat of Vedic learning. Similarly, the people of Sanatan Dharam should prophesy that the plague will not enter a city where cows are found in large numbers. For example, they could foretell that Amritsar would be saved because of the blessings of the cow. If the cow should exhibit this miracle, it would be wholly understandable if the government enforced a ban on the slaughter of such a wondrous animal. Similarly, Christians should prophesy that the plague will not afflict Calcutta because the great bishop of British India resides there. In the same way, Mian Shams-ud-Din and members of his Anjuman Himayat-e-Islam should make a prophecy about Lahore, that it shall remain protected against the plague. And the accountant, Munshi Ilahi Baksh, who claims to receive revelation, has an opportunity to aid the Anjuman-e-Himayat-e Islam by making a prophecy concerning [the protection of] Lahore. It would also be appropriate for Abdul-Jabbar and Abdul-Haqq to make a prophecy concerning the city of Amritsar. Moreover, since Wahhabism prevails in Delhi, it would be appropriate for Nadhir Hussain and Muhammad Hussain to make a prophecy that Delhi shall remain protected from the plague. So, in this way, the whole of the Punjab will be delivered from this fatal disease. And the government too will be absolved of its responsibility at no cost. But should they fail to do so, it will perforce be determined that the true God is He who has raised His Messenger in Qadian.” (Defence against the Plague and a Criterion for the Elect of God, pp. 18-19)

Lastly, we present the challenge of the Promised Messiahas which he issued regarding the plague:

“I swear by God Almighty that I am the Promised Messiah. I am the one who was promised by the Prophets. The Torah, the Gospel and the Holy Quran all give news about me and the era of my advent and expound that, in the heavens, the moon and the sun would be eclipsed at the time of my appearance, and a terrible plague would befall the land. This is my sign; each and every opponent – whether he lives in Amroha or Amritsar, whether in Delhi or Calcutta, whether in Lahore, Golra or Batala – if any of them should swear on oath that their area of residence shall remain free from the plague, then it will surely be swept up by the plague, for they would have committed insolence against God Almighty.” (Defence against the Plague and a Criterion for the Elect of God, pp. 29-30)

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

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