100 Years Ago… – Refutation of the book ‘Islam and the Ahmadies’ – Part I


The Review of Religions [English], January, February & March 1923

Maulvi Rahim Bakhsh Sahib MA [also known as Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahim Dardra] (1894-1955)
Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia is received at Paddington Railway Station in London. On the left stands Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rahim Dardra

Mr Abdul Wadud, a graduate of Noakhali (Bengal), has written a book entitled Islam and the Ahmadies, a Refutation of Qadiani Doctrine. On its title page is written, “An Arabic Course for Schools and Colleges.” It was included in the departmental list of books approved for “Prize and Library” in Bengal Schools (Calcutta Gazette, 13 August 1919, Part IC); but when the authorities came to know that the book was an attack on the Ahmadiyya Movement and not in any sense an Arabic Course, it was at once removed from the list by a special Notification (No. ITB, dated 1 March 1920) of the Education Department, Bengal.

The so-called Arabic course is about 150 pages long and deals throughout with the ascension of Jesusas alive to heaven and his descent upon earth, etc. But having a very meagre and superficial knowledge of Islam and the Arabic language, the author has succeeded only in disclosing his own ignorance by trying to refute the plainest teachings of the Holy Quran. And the result is that his book has turned out to be a gross misrepresentation of the Ahmadiyya Movement. Therefore, we deem it necessary to shed some light in the following pages on the mistakes, errors, and contradictions contained therein with a view to saving the honest seekers of truth from falling into errors that may prove fatal to their moral and spiritual welfare. We shall, however, overlook everything abusive, sarcastic and personally insulting in the book, because every sane person reading the book must naturally feel the injustice with which the author has treated our movement and its Holy Founder, may peace and the choicest blessings of God be upon him.

Ascension of Jesusas to Heaven

The author begins by quoting a verse from the Holy Quran and says that the verse proves in the most forcible language the ascension of Jesusas to heaven alive; but we shall show that the same verse clearly refers to the fact that Jesusas is not [physically] alive in the heavens and that he will not come down upon this earth as supposed by Mr Wadud.

The verse given by him runs as follows:

وَّبِكُفۡرِهِمۡ وَقَوۡلِهِمۡ عَلٰي مَرۡيَمَ بُهۡتَانًا عَظِيۡمًا۔ وَّقَوۡلِهِمۡ اِنَّا قَتَلۡنَا الۡمَسِيۡحَ عِيۡسَي ابۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ رَسُوۡلَ اللّٰهِ ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوۡهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوۡهُ وَلٰكِنۡ شُبِّهَ لَهُمۡ ؕ وَاِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِيۡهِ لَفِيۡ شَكٍّ مِّنۡهُ ؕ مَا لَهُمۡ بِهٖ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ اِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوۡهُ يَقِيۡنًۢا۔ بَلۡ رَّفَعَهُ اللّٰهُ اِلَيۡهِ ؕ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ عَزِيۡزًا حَكِيۡمًا۔ وَاِنۡ مِّنۡ اَهۡلِ الۡكِتٰبِ اِلَّا لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ بِهٖ قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهٖ ۚ وَيَوۡمَ الۡقِيٰمَةِ يَكُوۡنُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ شَهِيۡدًا

[“And because of their disbelief and their uttering against Mary a grievous calumny, And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesusas, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty; On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise. And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection, he (Jesusas) shall be a witness against them.” (Surah an-Nisa, Ch. 4: V. 157-160)]

To show that the verse proves the ascension of Jesusas to heaven alive Mr Wadud says in an NB [nota bene: note well] that the words بَلۡ رَّفَعَهُ اللّٰهُ اِلَيۡهِ are explained by a tafsir, known as the Tafsir Abbasi, to mean بَلۡ رَّفَعَهُ اللّٰهُ اِلَيۡ السَّمَاءِ, i.e., “Allah lifted him up to heaven.” But he forgets that the question is not one of the meaning put on these words by some commentator; the point under consideration is whether the words of the Holy Quran themselves convey the same meaning or not. If the words and their context do not bear out a meaning, we have nothing to do with the conclusions drawn from them by some other person. A commentary, however great its author might be, is at best only an individual opinion and not binding upon all, particularly when it does not fit in with the letter and spirit of the Holy Quran itself. But Mr Wadud should know that the tafir he speaks of is not an authentic one at all. It is only attributed to Ibn Abbasra, while the real author is somebody else. Sayyad M Siddiq Hasan Khan, a learned Muslim critic, speaks of the book as follows:

Tafsir Ibn Abbas contains spurious additions. It is only attributed to Ibn Abbas. His true commentary is the one given in Bukhari.” (Ikseer fi Usul at-Tafsir, p. 55)

Now let us see the most forcible words of our author which prove the ascension of Jesusas to heaven alive. Translating the words وَاِنۡ مِّنۡ اَهۡلِ الۡكِتٰبِ اِلَّا لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ بِهٖ قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهٖ as “And there shall not be one of those who have received the scriptures, who shall not believe in him before his death”, he concludes that Jesusas has not died a natural death but has been taken above to the heavens alive because the Jews and Christians have not as yet, all of them, believed in him. The words of the verse according to Mr A Wadud show that the Jews and Christians must all of them believe in Jesusas before his death, but as they have not as yet all of them believed in him, therefore he is not dead, and as we do not see him on the face of the earth, he must have ascended to the heavens, where he must wait for the opportunity when he will come down to this earth to receive homage from the whole world. Here concludes the most cogent of proofs. What a consistent way of reasoning! What perfect logic – the sum and substance of the learning and erudition of our Bengali friend!

گرهمين‭ ‬مكتب‭ ‬و‭ ‬همين‭ ‬ملّا‭ ‬است‭ ‬

كار‭ ‬طفلان‭ ‬تمام‭ ‬خواهد‭ ‬شد

[“The future of the pupils is bleak if such mullahs (teach them) in such schools.”]

But let us examine a bit more carefully the reasons given by the writer to support his own interpretation of the said words. He has given three reasons, which we criticise here one by one.

The antecedent of the pronoun in قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهٖ (before his death) cannot be اَهۡلِ الۡكِتٰبِ; for in that case the purport will be that no Jew or Christian shall die before he believes in Jesusas in the state of his senselessness and in his agony of death, before he expires, when the angels strike him on the back and face. And this sort of belief is of no avail, according to Hadith. Therefore, the antecedent of the pronoun in question is Jesusas, and not اَهۡلِ الۡكِتٰبِ.

To be brief, we simply draw the attention of the reader only to two points; firstly, that the words قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهٖ mean “before his death” and not anything more, while the writer understands the words to mean “immediately before his death, or at the time of his death, or in the agonies of death”, to which meaning the words قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهٖ do not lend any support; secondly, that the question is not of the usefulness or otherwise of a particular kind of iman (belief); the point which he wants to prove is the ascension of Jesusas to heaven alive. This sort of belief may be useful or not, Jesusas cannot go up to the sky in any case.

His second reason is that Abu Hurairah[ra], the greatest reporter of Hadith, says that the death referred to is that of Jesusas. Abu Hurairah[ra] may be the greatest reporter of Hadith but his own conjectures are not Hadith. It seems to be his own conjecture and the worth of it can be easily realised by the following remark of the well-known book, Nurul Anwar:

والراوي اِن عُرِف بالفقه ۔۔۔ واِن عرف بالعدالة والضبط دون الفقه كانس و ابي هريرة۔۔۔

[“If the narrator (of Hadith) is famous for their fiqh (ability to draw sound conclusions from Islamic laws and jurisprudence) […]. However, if the narrator is well-known for ‘adalah (honest and upright character) and dhabt (precision in transmitting the content of traditions), but is not renowned for their fiqh, like Hazrat Anas and Hazrat Abu Hurairah, may God be pleased with them […]. (Mulla Jiwan, Nur al-Anwar fi Sharh al-Manar, pp. 309-310)]

Hazrat Abu Hurairah[ra] was a good reporter, no doubt, but he did not possess [fiqh].

His third reason is that the grammar in لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ also makes that alternative reference impossible, for when nun at-tawkid [letter ن for emphasis in Arabic] and laam at-tawkid [letter ل for emphasis] are applied to mudari‘ [present or future tense], it denotes only future tense in an intensified sense.

Leaving all criticism of the science of grammar and its place in literature, we come directly to the point raised by Mr Wadud. It is not quite true to say that when nun at-taukid and laam at-taukid are applied to mudari‘ it invariably denotes only the future tense. What grammar lays down, as a rule, is only so much that nun at-taukid specialises mudari‘ to the future tense and that laam at-taukid specialises it for the present tense. But we find examples in the Arabic language that do not fit with this rule. We give here an instance from the Holy Quran, and to convince Mr Wadud we quote the translation of Mr [George] Sale which he has perhaps forgotten to consult on this point. The Holy Quran says:

وَاِنَّ مِنۡكُمۡ لَمَنۡ لَّيُبَطِّئَنَّ ۚ فَاِنۡ اَصَابَتۡكُمۡ مُّصِيۡبَةٌ قَالَ قَدۡ اَنۡعَمَ اللّٰهُ عَلَيَّ اِذۡ لَمۡ اَكُنۡ مَّعَهُمۡ شَهِيۡدًا

“There is of you who tarrieth behind, and if a misfortune befall you, he saith, verily God hath been gracious unto me that I was not present with them.” [(The Koran, p. 62); Surah An-Nisa, Ch.4: V.73] 

Let us admit, however, that the word لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ signifies only the future tense; but how does he conclude that if the antecedent of the pronoun in قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهٖ be اَهۡلِ الۡكِتٰبِ, the word لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ must denote the past tense; we know that thousands of men have died before this and if we now say, “There is no man who will not die”, does the word “will” denote past tense? Is our sentence grammatically wrong? 

After pointing out the mistakes of our Bengali friend, we draw the attention of our readers to another important point. If Jesusas had really been lifted up to the sky by God, it must have been clearly laid down in the Holy Quran in plain and unequivocal words that it was so, and Mr Wadud could easily refer to those words of Allah. But the verse that he has put forward in support of his contention is so much disputed that it cannot in any way be called the most cogent proof. Either he does not know that the verse is very difficult to interpret or he means to deceive his readers. The verse, to say the truth, is interpreted in various ways; and to show that it is not proof of the lifting up of Jesusas, we give here the various interpretations put upon the verse by the learned Muslims. In the first place, there is a different reading of the verse itself, which runs as follows:

وَاِنۡ‭ ‬مِّنۡ‭ ‬اَهۡلِ‭ ‬الۡكِتٰبِ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ‭ ‬بِهٖ‭ ‬قَبۡلَ‭ ‬مَوۡتِهِمْ

According to this reading [qira’at], the pronoun refers to the people of the Book

Secondly, Ibn Abbasra is said to have interpreted the verse in these words: There is no one of the Jews and Christians who does not believe in Jesusas, (much against the Arabic grammar of our writer), before his (a jew’s or a christian’s) death.

Thirdly, the antecedent of the pronoun in لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ بِهٖ  is taken by Al-Kashshaaf to be Allah.

Fourthly, the antecedent of the pronoun in لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ بِهٖ is also taken to be the Holy Prophet[sa]

Last of all comes the interpretation put upon the verse by Mr Wadud about which we quote a passage from the Tafsir Mazhari without adding anything of our own. The author of the tafsir says: 

“The verse does not mean what Abu Hurairah[ra] says of it. The antecedent of the pronoun cannot in any case be Jesusas. It is only a conjecture on the part of Abu Hurairah[ra]. The authentic traditions do not bear out this interpretation. How can it be so, especially when the word اِنۡ [in the phrase] وَاِنۡ مِّنۡ اَهۡلِ الۡكِتٰبِ includes the present Jews and Christians, (i.e., present at the time of the Holy Prophet[sa]). The particle اِنۡ may or may not specialise those Jews and Christians; the words clearly point to the present time and there is no reason for us to fix the time of the verse to be the time of the Second Advent of Jesusas. The true and correct meaning of the verse is the same as we have mentioned above. The antecedent of the pronoun is not Jesusas but the Jew or the Christian. And this meaning is supported by the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka‘b, which Ibn-ul-Munzir reports from Abu Hashem and ‘Urwah”, viz., قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِهِمْ. [Tafsir al-Mazhari, Vol. 3, p. 28]

Again, without contravening the laws of Mr Wadud’s grammar, we give here a meaning of the verse, which razes to the ground the very foundations of his conclusion. Taking لَيُؤۡمِنَنَّ to denote only the future tense, the verse can mean: “There is no Jew or Christian who shall not believe in Jesusas before his death.” We have intentionally left out all other equally valid interpretations of the verse, (nay, certainly more correct and better), and have confined ourselves only to the rules adopted by Mr Wadud in order to show the absurdity of his deductions. We take the antecedent of the pronoun in question to be exactly the same. Now let’s see what the words mean. The words clearly show that the Jews and Christians, all of them or at least those living in the time of the Holy Prophet[sa] along with all their future generations, must believe in Jesusas before his death. Now if Jesusas is made to live simply because the Jews and Christians have not yet believed in him, the would-be believers must also have an equal, if not better, right to continue to live as long as Jesusas is believed to live; or at least they must be expected to come to life once again at the time of the Second Advent of Jesusas; otherwise, how can the verse be true simply by supposing Jesusas to be alive?

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

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here