Mahmood Ahmad, UK
نٓ وَالۡقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسۡطُرُوۡنَ
“By the inkstand and [by] the pen and [by] that which they write.” (Surah al-Qalam, Ch. 68: V.2)
The Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said that the Promised Messiahas would distribute wealth in such abundance that nobody would (be left to) accept it. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Ahadith al-Anbiya, Hadith 3448)
This “wealth” referred to the spiritual insights the Messiah would give to the world, thus, the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, in a couplet, said:
“The treasures that lay buried for thousands of years,
“Today I give them away if I find anyone who seeks them.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Vol. 5, p. 209)
The Promised Messiahas also said:
“And he who does not listen to the words of God’s Appointed One and Messenger attentively and does not read his writings carefully, has also partaken of arrogance. So, endeavour and let there be no arrogance in you, so that you may not perish and you be saved along with all of your family.” (Nuzul-ul-Masih [Urdu], Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, p. 403)
The Promised Messiahas wrote some 90 books in addition to the ten volumes of Malfuzat, four volumes of Ishtiharat (announcements) and four volumes of Maktubat (letters). These were written under intense pressure, as being the Promised Messiahas ordained by Allah brought with it a host of other religious duties too.
Before the advent of the Promised Messiahas, the number of Christians in India had risen from 91,092 in 1851 to 417,372 in 1881. (Some Prophecies of Hadhrat Ahmad – A Critical Study) He first started meeting Christian missionaries as a teenager and debated with them. Their writings against Islam gave him great pain. He said, “So many books full of vile abuse and defamation of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, have been printed and published the perusal of which makes one’s body tremble.” (Ainah-e-Kamalat-e-Islam,p. 51)
However, the response he gave was full of divine power, such that the Church Family – a paper of the Anglican Church – wrote:
“We should make no attempt to refute the literature published under the auspices of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, for he will create such a volume of literature against Christianity as will destroy the authority of the Bible altogether.” (Ahmadiyyat Renaissance of Islam by Chaudhry Zafrulla Khan, p. 178)
Hazrat Ahmad’sas written works alone number 14,000 pages. The Promised Messiahas wrote a series of masterworks of high quality. This is a truly astounding accomplishment and few writers approach this level. His first book, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, was published in 1880 and his last book, A Message of Peace, was published in 1908. These books were written under difficult conditions and with remarkable patience considering the lack of means and facilities available to him.
Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra – a close companion – cites the following example:
“The magnanimity and forbearance of the Promised Messiahas are also remarkable. I have seen hundreds of times that while he is sitting in his room on the second floor, with doors closed as is the habit with him, engaged in writing a book or engrossed in meditation, one of his children knocks heavily at the door, saying, ‘Father, open the door.’ Immediately, he rises and opens the door. The boy enters the room, looks about for a while and then leaves the room. The Promised Messiahas again shuts the door as usual, but before two minutes have passed the boy is again at the door, pushing it with all his might and crying as before, ‘Father, open the door.’ Again the Promised Messiahas quietly rises and opens the door. This time also, the boy withdraws after only peeping into the room once or twice. Again the Promised Messiahas stands up, with not a wrinkle on his face, shuts the door and once more resumes his work. But before five minutes have passed, the boy is again at the door, crying at the top of his voice, ‘Father, open the door.’ Again, the Promised Messiahas quietly rises and opens the door. He does not say a word as to why he comes or what he wants and what purpose he has in corning so often and why he troubles him in that way and interferes with his work. Once I, sitting in my own room upstairs, counted that this process was repeated twenty times, but not once did the Promised Messiahas utter a word of rebuke. […]” (A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah by Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib, The Review of Religions, 6 September 1984)
The Malfuzat are written records of the Promised Messiah’s public conversations with his companions and with other people who came to meet him. They are often in a question-and-answer format and are the easiest way to understand his books. They were often in conversation during his walks in the morning, when he would be accompanied by his followers present in Qadian and sometimes after the sunset prayer.
There were other commitments, such as service to humanity, that the Promised Messiahas would tirelessly carry out. Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra describes an incident which illustrates Hazrat Ahmad’s commitment to the needs of the poor. He relates that once a large number of country women came with their sickly children to ask the Promised Messiahas to prescribe medicines for them. Other women also joined in, containers in hand, wanting syrups and medicines for themselves or their children. The Promised Messiahas had to write an important and urgent article that day. Hazrat Abdul Karimra also happened to go there and found the Promised Messiahas standing there, active as a “European at his post”, ready to serve these people. Five or six boxes were lying open before him and he was dispensing different medicines to different patients. This dispensing lasted for about three hours. When he had finished, Hazrat Abdul Karimra said to him, “My Lord, this is a very troublesome business and, in this way, much time of your Holiness is wasted.” Whereupon he replied most cheerfully and calmly, saying, “This too is sacred work. These are poor people and there is no dispensary here. I have provided some English and Unani [traditional] medicines, which I give to these people when they need them. This is a highly meritorious work and a Muslim should not be neglectful or indifferent in this matter.” (A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah by Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib [Urdu], Edition 1924, pp. 35-36)
So, the Promised Messiahas despite all this other work, still managed to spend a lot of time writing.
Reading all of his books could be a significant undertaking: According to my calculation, reading the books alone at a rate of three pages per day would take a person 13 years to complete; five pages would take eight years; at ten pages per day it would take four years; and finally, at 20 pages per day it would take two years.
A plethora of these books have been translated into English already (available also on alislam.org), so it is now possible to read the majority of his works in English. There are also many audiobooks in English on alislam.org. The fact that it could take this long to read these books should give us some idea of how much effort the Promised Messiahas spent on writing them.
Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra states:
“I have seen the Promised Messiahas engaged in writing on difficult subjects and even composing Arabic works of unparalleled linguistic elegance in the midst of a great tumult and uproar. Reckless children and simple-minded women are quarrelling all around him, screeching and screaming and even grappling with one another and performing all the follies […], but all this fails to disturb him in the least, and he goes on writing as if he were sitting in a place of solitude. It is in such noisy rooms that all his great and unparalleled works in Arabic, Persian and Urdu have been written. I once asked him how he was able to think and write so coolly in the midst of such noise. He smiled and said, ‘I do not heed what is going on about me and, therefore, I am not disturbed.’” (A Character Sketch of the Promised Messiah by Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib, The Review of Religions, 6 September 1984)
The Promised Messiahas was already in his forties at the time of the publication of the first parts of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. These initial books were written for scholars and the language used is an an advanced blend of Urdu, Arabic and Persian. These initial books are the most difficult of the books of the Promised Messiahas to understand. His later books are more for the public and thus easier to understand. His initial books, however, had an effect far and wide and brought many of his initial companions to Islam Ahmadiyyat.
Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddinra of Bhera (Khalifatul Masih I), the Royal Physician to the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the most eminent scholars of India, came to Qadian in 1885 to see Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, having read the book Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. He immediately recognised Hazrat Ahmadas as the Promised reformer of the age and became a fervent admirer and an earnest supporter.
I have now read the books of the Promised Messiahas – I had heard criticism from opponents who spoke against the books of the Promised Messiahas and said they were different from what the Jamaat presents today and he had written inconsistently. I knew this to be incorrect and biased but wanted to read the books myself to prove them wrong.
It took me two years to read all the books of the Promised Messiahas. It should be noted that reading the books of the Promised Messiahas does not just mean reading 23 volumes in Ruhani Khazain, but also the three volumes of the posters and four volumes of the letters of the Promised Messiahas and the ten volumes of Malfuzat.
With the grace of Allah, all of these are now available from Jamaat which means we can read all of the material published by the Promised Messiahas. We can even learn from our enemies who end up serving Ahmadiyyat by creating interest and excitement around Ahmadiyyat.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra recommended a specific order to read the books of the Promised Messiahas:
“First of all, it is imperative to study the book, Izala-e-Auham [The Removal of Misconceptions]. Then, study the books, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part V, Tohfa-e-Golarviyyah [A Gift for Golarvi], Al-Wasiyyat [The Will], Taqwiyat-ul-Iman [Noah’s Ark] and Haqiqatul Wahi [The Philosophy of Divine Revelation].
“After understanding the said books to the fullest possible extent, the order in which the other books should be read is as follows:
“Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya; first four parts, Surmah Chashm-e-Aryah [Guidance for the Aryas], Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam [The Mirror of the Excellences of Islam], Islami Usul Ki Philosophy [The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam] and Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat [Fountain of Knowledge].
“Thereafter, study the rest of the books of the Promised Messiahas whenever you have time.
As the book Izala-e-Auham was written in the early era of the Promised Messiahas, it contains some issues which were declared null and void in the later books of the Promised Messiahas, so the books Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part V and Haqiqatul Wahi should be read alongside it. If there is no time for research, then the book Haqiqat-ul-Nubuwwah should be studied. “However, it should be borne in mind that merely reading the books of the Promised Messiahas is not enough. They only perfect the side of knowledge. There is another thing without which man cannot fully benefit from the advent of the Promised Messiahas and that is the study of the diaries that have been published in the newspapers from time to time. Their part of knowledge is not as accurate as the books of the Promised Messiahas because sometimes, a diary writer was not able to memorise the exact words.” (Al Fazl, 9 December 1920, www.alhakam.org/100-years-ago-recommended-order-for-studying-books-of-the-promised-messiah-by-hazrat-khalifatul-masih-ii/ )
I found the journey of reading the books of the Promised Messiahas like crossing a sea full of wonders. They were full of astounding power and helped me understand the Quran in a way I never had before. The Promised Messiahas speaks of many topics from a scientific discussion of stars, comets, and randomised controlled trials to detailed discussions of the political issues of the time. He talks of advanced psychological concepts and of developments that we only understand today.
I feel like a different person after reading them and they have transformed every part of my life. There are no books equal to these in any literature, as they speak to our inner, real selves in a way that no other person can understand.