100 Years Ago… – Finality of Prophethood: Letter of a non-Ahmadi Muslim Brother to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II (ra)

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Last Updated on 23rd December 2022

Al Fazl, 21 December 1922; The Review of Religions [English], January, February and March 1923

We reproduce below a letter from Mr Habib-un-Nabi Khan Saulat of Calcutta [now Kolkata] to His Holiness the Khalifatul Masih [IIra], Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Qadian. Mr Habib, it will be observed [in the letter], is not a member of the Ahmadiyya Community and so does not subscribe to all our doctrines. But we appreciate his moral courage and love for truth – Editor: The Review of Religions [1923]

36/3 Mominpore Street, Kidderpore Post Office, 

Calcutta [now Kolkata], 

5 November 1922.

Dear Brother in Islam, 

An incident has just occurred and I take the liberty of intimating it to you, feeling quite certain that it will interest you. It shows how conscientious reasoning always triumphs over fallacious arguments. For some time past, I have been trying to get to the bottom of the Ahmadiyya Movement and studying various writings concerning it. I read the English translation of the Holy Quran by Maulvi Mahammed Ali Sahib but could not accept it as complete, nor could I agree with him on all points. I wrote to him several times, pointing out his errors and suggesting better renderings. Some he appreciated and some he rejected. All this time, however, I was not aware of the split in the Movement. One day, reading an article in a newspaper, I found that the Ahmadis regarded all Muslims other than themselves as kafirs [disbelievers]. I sent the cutting to Maulvi Sahib, asking him if that was actually the case. If not, whether he, as President of the Anjuman-e-Ahmadiyya, did not consider it his duty to contradict it publicly. I received in reply a letter [from Maulvi Mahammed Ali Sahib] which I insert below:

The Mall Road, Dalhousie,

Dated: 25 August 1922.

Dear Brother in Islam,

Yours of the 18th instant to hand. I do not know if you are aware that the Ahmadiyya Movement is divided into two sections – the Qadian section holding the belief italicised by you. The other section, of which I am the head, has its headquarters at Lahore, and it was for this very belief of the Qadian party that we separated. Even though they do not all subscribe to this belief, their Head, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, is very persistent in it. I have regularly contradicted this belief for the past seven years.

Yours fraternally,

(Sd.) Muhammad Ali.

Not being satisfied with this reply, I wrote a letter to you on the 30th of August last. I was nearly despairing of a reply when your acknowledgement with advice and a  statement of certain facts and propositions in the shape of a letter dated 16 October 1922 signed by your private secretary, Maulvi Rahim Baksh Sahib, arrived. This letter I duly acknowledged and at the same time, I sent a quotation from it to Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib. The Maulvi Sahib, in reply, sent me four printed books entitled The Ahmadiyya Movement…

1. …The Founder,

2. …The Doctrine,

3. …Prophecy, and

4. …The Split.

I went through the four and have sent him some criticisms on the first pamphlet. In pamphlet 4, The Split, pp. 78-79, he has quoted certain passages from your books Anwar-e-Khilafat and Haqiqat-un-Nabuwwat. I cannot express in words the feelings of joy that overtook me on reading these extracts, for these are exactly my views, which I have formed through deep study of the Holy Quran.

The extract from the Anwar-e-Khilafat runs thus:

“Likewise, they say that however much a person may advance in virtue and goodness, nay, even surpass many Prophets in righteousness and piety, nay, attain the knowledge of God, but God will never make him a Prophet, never raise him to that dignity. Their thinking thus is due to not assigning to Allah the attributes due to Him; otherwise, to say nothing of one prophet, I say that there [can certainly come] thousands of prophets and a person who rises to the dignity of prophets like John can become a prophet. They question the prophethood of the Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, but I say even now there can be a prophet. […]

“But if a sword is placed on both sides of my neck and I am told to confess that no prophet shall come after the Holy Prophet, may peace be upon him, I will say to him, you are a liar, a very great liar; prophets can appear after him, they will certainly appear.” (Anwar-e-Khilafat, p. 62-65)

How bold, how chivalrous an announcement of a true conviction! I only wish the Almighty God would bestow the same, if not more of moral courage upon every truth seeker and speaker. I subscribe wholly to the above conviction and statement as far as the appearance of prophets is concerned, although I cannot subscribe to the need for the Promised Messiah. I can call him a rasul [Messenger] and a nabi [Prophet], but not the Promised Messiah as this claim is based on Hadith, the authority of any of which I cannot accept. The Sihah Sitta, which I follow, is contained in the following verse of a certain poet who is now dead: 

تلاش و سعي و غم و درد و شوق و استقلال

صحاح سته یہ لازم ہے بہر درس و صال

[“The six fundamental things necessary to learn the lesson of wisal [closeness to God] are struggle, constant effort, grief, pain, passion and perseverance.”]

The [summary of the] extract from Haqiqut-un-Nabuwwat is as follows:

It is love (for the prophet[sa]) that compels me to show the falsity, so far as it is in my power, of [our opponents’ views regarding] the finality of prophethood. […] To say that the appearance of prophets after the Holy Prophet[sa] is entirely shut off means that the Holy Prophet[sa] deprived the world of the grace of prophethood and that after his appearance, God shut off this favour. Now consider whether, according to this doctrine, the Holy Prophet[sa] appears to be a mercy for the world or the opposite of it. We seek refuge with Allah from this. If this doctrine is admitted, it would mean that he came as a sort of curse to the world and anyone who thinks so is accursed and rejected (of God). (Haqiqut-un-Nabuwwat, pp. 186-187)

I entirely subscribe to this view of yours and have for my authority the open announcement in the Holy Quran, Surah Jumuah: 

ذٰلِكَ فَضۡلُ اللّٰہِ ىُؤۡتِىۡہِ مَنۡ ىَّشَآءُ ؕ وَاللّٰہُ ذُو الۡفَضۡلِ الۡعَظِىۡمِ

[“That is Allah’s grace; He bestows it on whom He pleases; and Allah is the Master of immense grace.”]

This (creating prophets out of illiterates) is a mercy or blessing of God. He bestows it upon anyone whom He likes. This rendering I take as establishing the Divine Claim of being ذُو‭ ‬الۡفَضۡلِ‭ ‬الۡعَظِىۡمِ more impressively.

I do not know whether the two books, the Anwar-e-Khilafat and the Haqiqat-un-Nabuwwat, are in Urdu or in English; hence, I have taken the liberty of copying them out in full.

If it is not considered too much, I would request you to kindly publish this letter in The Review of Religions. With sincere regards. 

I remain, 

Dear brother in Islam,

Yours sincerely,

Habib-un-Nabi Khan Saulat. 

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original, published in The Review of Religions [English], January, February and March 1923)

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