M Adam, Al Hakam
An allegation raised against Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, is that he incorrectly described the location of Qadian in one of his writings, namely the appendix to Khutbah Ilhamiyyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 16, p. 22. Here, it is also important to highlight that this reference is in the appendix to Khutbah Ilhamiyyah and not part of the revelation.
In order to approach this issue, we must take into consideration all of his writings and then determine the potential causes of this apparent discrepancy.
The reliability of a single sentence can easily be assessed within the larger context of his writings because the Promised Messiahas has on many occasions reiterated his statements, and in this very case, the location of Qadian with respect to Lahore. If he referred to Qadian’s location as being northeast of Lahore in his other works, then this indicates that the apparent contradiction is certainly due to a scribal error.
It is worth considering this possibility because the scribes who worked on the Promised Messiah’sas writings were not geographers and could have easily made this mistake. The transcription and publishing processes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were not as advanced as they are today. Such mistakes and errors regarding locations, language, etc., were bound to happen. When transcribing his work under discussion, it is simply possible that the scribes missed “جس” before “سے” and wrote “قادیان ۔۔۔ جو لاہور سے”. Instead of writing “قادیان ۔۔۔ لاہور جس سے”, they clearly made a typographical error.
In the 2021 edition of Ruhani Khazain, readers can easily see in the footnote at the bottom of the geographical reference under discussion that it is apparently a scribal error. Considering other works of the Promised Messiahas, the footnote clarifies that the actual words are:
قادیان جو ضلع گورداسپور پنجاب میں ہے لاہور جس سے گوشہ مغرب اور جنوب میں واقع ہے۔۔۔
“Qadian lies in the district Gurdaspur of Punjab and Lahore is located in the south-west corner of it […].” (Khutba Ilhamiya, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 16, p. 22)
In his book, Sitara-e-Qaisariyyah (The Star of the Empress), mentioning the same location, the Promised Messiahas clearly states:
اس کے بعد اس عریضہ کے لکھنے والا، جس کا نام میرزا غلام احمد قادیانى ہے، جو پنجاب کے ایک چھوٹے سے گاؤں قادیان نام میں رہتا ہے، جو لاہور سے تخمیناً بفاصلہ ستر (۷٠) میل مشرق اور شمال کے گوشہ میں واقع اور گورداسپورہ کے ضلع میں ہے۔۔۔
“After this, the writer of this submission, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, who lives in a small village of the Punjab named Qadian; which is situated approximately seventy miles from Lahore in the north-east corner of the district of Gurdaspur. […]” (Sitara-e-Qaisariyyah [The Star of the Empress], Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 15, p. 111)
The above-mentioned book of the Promised Messiahas was written and published in the year 1899, while the writing where allegedly the location of Qadian is incorrect was published a year later, in 1900. It is virtually impossible that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas knew the exact location of Qadian in 1899 and then, a year later, wrote the exact opposite of it.
Hence, to gain a clear understanding of his writing regarding the location of Qadian, scholars and researchers interested in this topic should thoroughly examine all the writings of the Promised Messiahas and then come to an academically honest and unbiased conclusion.