Answers to Everyday Issues – Part 70: Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist), Addressees of the Holy Quran


Click here for Part 69

Guidance regarding basic Islamic issues – which Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa has given on various occasions in his written correspondence and during MTA programmes – is being officially published below for everyone’s benefit.

Damascus Shrine of Yahya bin Zakariyya John the Baptist 8019 1 scaled
Shrine in Damascus, thought to be of Hazrat Yahya bin Zakariyya (John the Baptist) | Wiki Commons

Was Prophet Yahyaas, i.e., John the Baptist, martyred?

Someone from Pakistan wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, stating, “It is the stance of the Promised Messiahas and Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra that prophets can be killed, and, indeed, Prophet Yahyaas was killed. However, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh maintained that prophets cannot be killed and the assassination of Prophet Yahyaas is not corroborated by history. These two positions appear to be contradictory. Guidance on this matter is requested.”

Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 23 November 2022, provided the following answer to this question:

“In the matter of the murder of Hazrat Yahya and Hazrat Zakariya, peace be upon them both, there is a divergence of views in historical and biographical texts, as well as among the opinions of earlier Islamic scholars. In light of the explanations derived from Quranic verses and interpretations of Hadith, there are also varied opinions within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. My stance on this aligns with the view of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra. I maintain my position, based on the Holy Quran, the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, and the instructions of the Promised Messiahas, that neither the first nor the last prophet of any dispensation, nor a prophet regarding whom Allah Almighty has promised protection from human reach, can be killed. For other prophets, murder does not tarnish their dignity nor detract from their prophetic stature, as being killed [in Allah’s way] is also one way of attaining martyrdom. However, for prophets to meet their end in a state of unfulfilled mission contradicts their esteemed stature. Thus, once a prophet fulfils his divine commission, his departure from this world, be it through natural demise or martyrdom, bears no grounds for objection. Such an end, marked by the completion of their mission, neither invites surprise nor grants the adversaries any satisfaction.

“Hazrat Yahya and Hazrat Zakariya, peace be upon them, were neither the first nor the last prophets of any dispensation, nor is there any explicit covenant from Allah Almighty cited concerning their assured preservation from adversaries. Furthermore, our conviction holds that upon their martyrdom, they had indeed accomplished the duties Allah the Almighty had assigned to them with utmost fidelity.

“The Promised Messiahas unequivocally affirms the assassination of Prophets Yahyaas and Zakariyaas through numerous statements. For instance, while interpreting the following Quranic verse, he articulates:

اَفَکُلَّمَا جَآءَکُمۡ رَسُوۡلٌ بِمَا لَا تَہۡوٰۤي اَنۡفُسُکُمُ اسۡتَکۡبَرۡتُمۡ فَفَرِيۡقًا کَذَّبۡتُمۡ وَفَرِيۡقًا تَقۡتُلُوۡنَ

“‘It translates to, ‘It is your habit, O Children of Israel, that whenever a messenger came to you, you denied some of them and killed others. [Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.88]’ (Ai’nah-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, p. 34)

“In his Arabic work Hamamat-ul-Bushra, he wrote:

وما کان موت القتل نقصًا لأنبيائہ وکسرًا لشأنہم وعزّتہم، وکأيّن من النّبيّين قُتلوا في سبيل اللّٰہ کيحيٰي عليہ السّلام وأبيہ، فتفکّرْ واطلبْ صراط المہتدين ولا تجلس مع الغاوين.

“‘Death through murder does not signify a deficiency for prophets, nor does it degrade their honour or stature. Numerous prophets have been assassinated in the cause of Allah, including Yahyaas and his father. Thus, contemplate and seek the path of those rightly guided, and refrain from associating with those who are led astray.’ (Hamamat-ul-Bushra, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 7, p. 255, footnote)

“In this work, Tuhfah-e-Golarviyyah, Huzooras states:

“‘The term ‘kama’ as used by the Quran to denote the similarity between Mosesas and the Holy Prophetsa is also employed in the verse کَمَا اسۡتَخۡلَفَ الَّذِيۡنَ, albeit not negating the inherent distinction that exists between them.

“It is noteworthy that the twelfth Caliph of Islam, who was to appear at the turn of the thirteenth century, corresponds to Prophet Yahyaas, whose head was severed for a vile nation (let those with understanding comprehend). Therefore, it is imperative that the twelfth Caliph be a Qurashi, just as Prophet Yahyaas was an Israelite. However, the thirteenth Caliph of Islam, who was to emerge at the beginning of the fourteenth century and was named the Promised Messiah, had to be non-Qurashi, just as Jesusas was not an Israelite. Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi is the twelfth Caliph in the Muhammadan Caliphate, analogous to Prophet Yahyaas and is a sayyid.’ (Tuhfah-e-Golarviyyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 17, pp. 193-194)

In Izalah-e-Awham, he writes:

“‘Likewise, Prophet Yahyaas also called the Pharisees and elders of the Jews ‘brood of vipers’ and had his head cut off due to their wickedness and machinations.’ (Izalah-e-Awham, Pt. 1, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 3, p. 110)

“In light of the statements of the Promised Messiahas, the stance of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was also that Prophet Yahyaas was indeed murdered. During the era of his Caliphate, a discussion arose regarding this matter, on which he delivered three Friday sermons. In these sermons, he established that Prophet Yahyaas was martyred, and this was also the belief of the Promised Messiahas and his Companions. On one such occasion in these sermons, he stated:

“‘Not once, but on numerous occasions, we have heard from the blessed lips of the Promised Messiahas, in not just one manner but in various tones and contexts, that Prophet Yahyaas was murdered. It is now utterly inconceivable for us to believe that the Promised Messiahas did not hold the view that Prophet Yahyaas was assassinated. It is not merely about what we heard from his blessed lips; we used to have discussions on this matter, and we always asserted that the belief of the Promised Messiahas was indeed that Prophet Yahyaas had been martyred. For instance, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira held the view that a Prophet of Allah cannot be killed, and we would always debate this matter with him, presenting references from the writings of the Promised Messiahas. Eventually, around 1910, he conceded, stating he would no longer discuss this issue; previously, he would always assert that such statements were rhetorical, similar to what Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan of Aligarh used to say that many statements in the Holy Quran were speculative or allegorical. However, when we persistently presented numerous references and brought forth multiple testimonies to prove that the Promised Messiahas indeed held the belief that Prophet Yahyaas was martyred, he stated that he now believes he should refrain from discussing this matter further. However, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira never claimed in his arguments that he had heard such a belief directly from the Promised Messiahas. He would say, ‘My understanding leads me to this conclusion,’ but when we established that the Promised Messiahas believed that some Prophets were martyred, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira then said, ‘I now choose to remain silent and will never speak on this matter again.’ (Friday Sermon, 26 August 1938, Khutbat-e-Mahmud, Vol. 19, pp. 569-570)

“Regarding the stance expressed by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh in his durus of the Holy Quran, he did not present his view as definitive but suggested that further research is warranted on this matter. Moreover, in support of his position, he cited a statement from the Promised Messiahas mentioned in the discourses, which states, ‘Since the cross is meant for criminals, it is incongruous with the dignity of a prophet to be crucified. Thus, the Torah states that one who is hanged is accursed. Similarly, ignominious ailments such as syphilis, typically befalling the morally debased, spare the prophets. While the murder of [true] prophets does not detract from their honour, there exists no authenticated instance of a prophet’s assassination. A prophet is not killed by the means used for vile individuals.’ (Al-Badr, No. 12, Vol. 2, 10 April 1903, pp. 90-91; Malfuzat [2016], Vol. 4, p. 356)

“This excerpt is derived from Malfuzat, a compilation of the Promised Messiah’sas pronouncements, as recounted by journalists or editors in their vernacular, based on their auditory recollections. Contrasting this, the extensive corpus of the Promised Messiah’sas writings unambiguously affirms his conviction regarding the assassination of Prophet Yahyaas. The aforementioned passage from Malfuzat does not negate the potentiality of prophets’ assassination but rather delineates the incompatibility of crucifixion, demise from ignoble diseases, or execution by means reserved for the wicked, with the esteemed stature of prophets.”

Addressees of the Holy Quran

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pizar_heryanto| Pixabay

Someone from Egypt wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, asking, “A friend enquired why the following verse of the Holy Quran mentions the heavens and the earth but not angels and jinn:

اِنَّا عَرَضۡنَا الۡاَمَانَةَ عَلَي السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَالۡجِبَالِ فَاَبَيۡنَ اَنۡ يَّحۡمِلۡنَہَا وَاَشۡفَقۡنَ مِنۡہَا وَحَمَلَہَا الۡاِنۡسَانُ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ ظَلُوۡمًا جَہُوۡلًا

“‘Verily, We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it. Indeed, he is capable of being unjust to, and neglectful of, himself.’” (Surah al-Ahzab, Ch.31: V.73)

Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 24 November 2022, provided the following answer to this question:

“It is a matter of common sense and is evident in our everyday practices where mentioning a select few items implicitly encompasses others; it is not customary to enumerate each detail repeatedly. This is encapsulated in the renowned Arabic adage, خَيْرُ الْكَلَامِ مَا قَلَّ وَدَلَّ, signifying that the essence of effective communication lies in being concise yet expressive. Thus, the Holy Quran, being a comprehensive book, one of its remarkable qualities is that Allah the Almighty has provided teachings in a concise manner, encompassing broad and detailed matters in succinct words. This unique characteristic of the Holy Quran is illuminated in verses such as وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَصَّلْنَاهُ تَفْصِيلًا [And everything We have explained with a detailed explanation. (Surah Bani Isra’il, Ch.17, V.12)] and وَتَفْصِيلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ [And (this book contains) a detailed exposition of all things. (Surah Yusuf, Ch.12: V.111)].

“The Holy Quran adeptly conveys depth in brevity by issuing distinct directives to believing men and women where necessary, yet often addressing believing men alone with commandments that, by implication, apply equally to women without explicit mention.

“Therefore, the answer to your question is that when the Holy Quran mentions the heavens, the earth, and the mountains in the aforementioned verse, it implies all entities within them. This interpretation is also echoed in older exegeses. For instance, Tafsir al-Mazhari states:

وقيل المراد بالعرض الخطاب اللفظي بالسماوات والأرض والجبال أهلها كما في قوله تعالى وَسْئَلِ الْقَرْيَةَ أى أهلها دون أعيانها.

“‘It has also been said that the literal address to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains implies their respective denizens (i.e., the creatures living within the heavens, the earth, and the mountains were offered the trust by Allah), as in the verse وَسْئَلِ الْقَرْيَةَ (‘And ask the town’), where it refers to the people of the town, not the physical town itself.’ (Tafsir al-Mazhari, al-Qadi Muhammad Thanaullah al-Uthmani al-Hanafi al-Mazhari al-Naqshbandi [d. 1225/1810], Vol. 7, [p. 388])

“In the Promised Messiah’sas elucidation of the verse mentioned, it is evident that he interprets the heavens, the earth, and the mountains mentioned in the verse as representing the creatures inhabiting them. In his work, Tawdih-e-Maram, he elucidates:

اِنَّا عَرَضۡنَا الۡاَمَانَةَ عَلَي السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَالۡجِبَالِ فَاَبَيۡنَ اَنۡ يَّحۡمِلۡنَہَا وَاَشۡفَقۡنَ مِنۡہَا وَحَمَلَہَا الۡاِنۡسَانُ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ ظَلُوۡمًا جَہُوۡلًا

“This means that, [Allah states,] ‘We presented Our Trust, which signifies Divine Love and the trial followed by complete obedience, to all the angels of the heavens, all creatures of the earth, and the mountains that appeared to be strong entities. However, all these entities declined to bear this Trust and were overawed by its greatness, but man undertook it.’ This was because man possessed two qualities: firstly, he could subdue himself in the way of Allah the Almighty, and secondly, he could reach such an extent in his love for Allah the Exalted that he could completely forget all else but Him.” (Tawdih-e-Maram, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 3, pp. 75-76)

“Likewise, in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part 5, he wrote:

“‘[Allah says,] ‘We presented Our trust—which must be rendered back to Us like a trust—to all the creation in the earth and in heaven, but all of them refused to accept it out of apprehension that a default might ensue, but man accepted this trust as he was zalum [able to subdue himself] and jahul [able to be neglectful of  himself].’ Both these terms [zalum and jahul] as applied to man, are complimentary and not derogatory in nature. They signify that man had been endowed with the capacity of being harsh upon his own self for the sake of God and he could incline towards God Almighty such as to forget his self. That is why he accepted the responsibility of treating his entire being as a trust and then to expend it in the cause of God.’ (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part 5, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 21, p. 239)

“In Ai’nah-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Huzooras, elucidates:

“‘The Trust that was presented to the angels, the earth, the mountains, and all celestial bodies, which they declined to bear, was undoubtedly first offered to the souls of the prophets and messengers when it was presented to mankind. This is because they are the leaders of humanity and the foremost in truly deserving the essence of humanity.’ (Ai’nah-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, p. 169)

“Thus, the allusion to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains in this verse implies and subtly encompasses all beings within them, all of whom shied away from the Trust due to their incapacity to uphold its demands. It was then that man, esteemed by Allah the Almighty as the pinnacle of creation, bravely accepted this Trust, undeterred by potential repercussions.”

(Compiled by Zaheer Ahmad Khan, Head of Records Department, Private Secretariat, London and translated by Al Hakam.)

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