An allegation raised by opponents of the Jamaat and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas is that he stated in his book Chashma-e-Marifat, published in 1908, that the miracles displayed by him numbered 100,000 or more and that the earthquakes and plague that occurred in his age belonged to those miracles that were bestowed to him from Allah the Almighty.
In response to this, opponents suggest that the world witnessed earthquakes and plagues at all times. Before the claim of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, plagues wiped out a hundred times more individuals than those who died in his age. For instance, in the 14th century, one third of the total population of Europe was totally wiped out from the face of the Earth due to the plague.
They then ask whether this can be compared with the plague that spread in India. The plague that occurred in India was nothing as compared to that of Europe. Similarly, the earthquake of 1905, although it was effective, but comparing it with massive earthquakes, it seems ordinary.
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat claimed to be the Promised Messiah and several religions acknowledge this fact that the Promised Messiah would appear close to Judgement Day i.e. it would be the last age. The Bible, the Holy Quran and the Hadith contain different prophesies about the arrival and time of the Promised Messiah.
Jesusas pointed out various signs regarding his second coming, as it is stated in the Gospel of Matthew:
“As Jesus was sitting on the mount of olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew, 24:3-7)
Similarly, it is stated in the Gospel of Luke:
“‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?’ He replied: ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and, “The time is near.” Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolution, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.’ Then he said to them: ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.’” (Luke, 21:7-11)
Luke states that these incidents would occur before the second coming of Jesusas, but the intellect proves it wrong because punishment befalls people when the law is violated and not before it. Great catastrophes engulf the Earth only after the appearance and denial of a prophet. As it is stated in the Holy Quran:
وَمَا کُنَّا مُعَذِّبِیْنَ حَتّٰی نَبْعَثَ رَسُوْلًا
“We never punish until We have sent a Messenger” (Surah Bani Israil, Ch.17: V.16).
Similarly, it is stated in the Bible, “I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” (Deuteronomy, 18: 19)
Regarding the arrival of the Promised Messiah, it is stated in the Gospel of Matthew that he would appear suddenly, which also shows that the catastrophes would occur after the advent of the Promised Messiah. Hence, Jesusas said:
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew, 24: 42-44)
Similarly, it is stated in the Gospel of Mark:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark, 13: 32-37)
The Holy Prophetsa, highlighting the signs of the final days, stated:
“Earthquakes shall occur frequently.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Fitan)
Thus, the earthquakes or plague that occurred before the advent of the Promised Messiahas are not under discussion as they are not associated with the prophecies of his age. The earthquakes and plague that engulfed the Earth in the era of the Promised Messiahas are in accord with the prophecies. Hence, comparing them with previously occurred catastrophes seems illogical.
The Promised Messiahas received a revelation from Allah the Almighty:
“A warner came unto the world, but the world accepted him not; yet God shall accept him and demonstrate his truthfulness with mighty assaults.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part IV, p. 435 [English translation])
Accordingly, Allah the Almighty demonstrated the truth of the Promised Messiahas with powerful assaults. Earthquakes and plagues occur naturally, but when they occur in accordance with prophecies, then they are considered as a sign. Similarly, wars take place between two sides and one of them turns out victorious, but when it is foretold that a particular side would triumph, then its victory becomes a sign. As for the wars that were fought in the era of the Holy Prophetsa against the opponents, they were divine signs because it was foretold by Allah the Almighty that the Holy Prophetsa would triumph.
Likewise, tempests and floods occur naturally; moreover, ships and vessels are built, but Noah’s Ark stands out as a sign as it was built under the command of the Divine, carrying a glad tiding that those who would mount Noah’s Ark would be saved from the flood.
The same is the case of marriages; people are united in marriages and blessed with children, but when glad tidings are given regarding the birth of a child, it is considered a sign. Hence, it is stated in the Holy Quran:
فَبَشَّرْنٰھَا بِاِسْحٰقَ وَمِنْ وَّرَاءِ اِسْحٰقَ یَعْقُوْبَ
“We gave her glad tidings of the birth of Isaac and, after Isaac, of Jacob” (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.72). So, the births of Isaac and Jacob happened as a sign, and denying this fact on the basis that many people are blessed with even more children than the mother of Isaac and Jacob seems irrational.
Referring to the sign of plague, the Promised Messiahas states:
“Let it also be borne in mind that both the Holy Quran and even certain books of the Torah foretell that plague will break out in the time of the Promised Messiah. In fact, the Messiah, peace be upon him, also spoke of this in the Gospel. It is impossible for the prophecies of the Messengers to be revoked.” (Noah’s Ark, pp. 7-8)
Below is the list of deaths that occurred due to the outbreak of plague in India between the years 1896 to 1906, according to Encyclopedia Britannica:
1896: 2,219 deaths
1897: 47,974 deaths
1898: 89,265 deaths
1899: 102,369 deaths
1900: 73,576 deaths
1901: 236,433 deaths
1902: 452,655 deaths
1903: 684,445 deaths
1904: 938,010 deaths
1905: 940,881 deaths
1906: 300,355 deaths
(Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. xxi, p. 700 [edition 1911])
This clearly shows that the plague killed 3,868,182 people in India alone in the span of almost 11 years.
The New Encyclopedia Britannica states:
“An outbreak in Canton and Hong Kong in 1894 left 80,000 to 100,000 dead, and within 20 years the disease spread from the southern Chinese ports throughout the whole world, resulting in more than 10,000,000 deaths.” (The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Wol. 9, p.493 [15th edition, 2010])
Opponents allege regarding the earthquake of 1905 that it seems ordinary when compared with various other massive earthquakes.
The earthquake of 1905 holds significant prominence because it occurred according to the divine prophecy vouchsafed to the Promised Messiahas. Thus, comparing this earthquake with various other earthquakes cannot be considered just in any way.
As the births of Isaac and Jacob proved to be divine signs for the reason that glad tidings preceded them, the earthquake of 1905 belongs to the sign of the Divine. The Promised Messiahas frequently received revelations about the occurrence of this earthquake from Allah the Almighty which were published from time to time.
Al Hakam (Urdu) wrote under the heading Revelations and Dreams:
“I [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas] saw in a dream that someone said:
زلزلہ كا دهكا
‘Shock of an earthquake.’ I saw the house shaking but did not see anything fall, nor did I feel the earthquake. Then came the revelation:
اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يَضُرُّ۔ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَ الَّذِيْنَ اتَّقَوْا وَّ الَّذِيْنَ هُمْ مُحْسِنُوْنَ۔ تَريٰ نَصْرًا مِّنْ عِنْدِ اللّٰهِ وَ هُمْ يَعْمَهُوْنَ
‘Allah will cause no damage. Allah is with those who are righteous and who do their duty to the utmost. You will see help from Allah and they will continue to flounder.’” (Al Hakam, 17-24 December 1903, p. 15)
Similarly, under the heading God’s Pure Words, the weekly Al Badr had it:
“On 19 December 1903, in a dream I saw someone saying:
زلزلہ كا ايك دهكا
‘A single shock of an earthquake.’ Neither did I feel any tremors, nor did the walls shake. Thereafter, I received the revelation [same Arabic as above], ‘Allah will cause no damage. Allah is with those who are righteous and who do their duty to the utmost. You will see help from Allah and they will continue to flounder.’” (Al Badr, 1 January 1904, p. 6)
Then, under Revelations, the weekly Al Hakam (Urdu) says:
“8 June 1904:
عَفَتِ الدِّيَارُ مَحَلُّهَا وَ مُقَامُهَا۔ اِنِّيْ اُحَافِظُ كُلَّ مَنْ فِي الدَّارِ۔ اَعْطَيْتُكَ كُلَّ النَّعِيْمِ
‘Temporary residences and permanent ones will be wiped out. I shall safeguard all those who are in this house. I have bestowed upon you all bounties.’” (Al Hakam, 10-17 June 1904, p. 10)
The Promised Messiahas stated about the earthquake that occurred on 4 April 1905:
“This very earthquake which wrought so much damage in the Punjab that, regarding it, researches have been published in the Civil and Military Gazette and other sources that incontrovertibly conclude that an earthquake of such magnitude has not been experienced in the Punjab during the last 1,600 years.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part V [English translation], p. 232)
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“According to research published in the Civil and Military Gazette, the temple at Kangra that was destroyed in the earthquake was about 2,000 years old. Had such earthquakes occurred before, this temple would already have collapsed long ago.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part V, p. 236)
Now, for the benefit of the readers, we present a brief account of the destruction caused by the Kangra earthquake of 4 April 1905.
Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra writes in his book, Zikr-e-Habib:
“As the earthquake struck on the morning of 4 April 1905, several towns located in the valley of Kangra were destroyed, and the temple of Hindu Goddess, Jwalamukhi blacked out and the building collapsed. On the same morning, a severe earthquake was felt in Qadian around 6:30am. Although some houses collapsed in Lahore and Amritsar, resulting in deaths and injuries to countless individuals, with the blessing of Allah the Almighty no such incident occurred in Qadian.” (Zikr e Habib, pp. 98-99)
It is stated regarding the earthquake of Kangra:
“The Kangra earthquake of 4 April 1905 in the north-west of the Himalayas was the first of several devastating 20th century earthquakes to occur in northern India. The Punjab Government estimated that more than 20,000 people of its 375,000 epicentral population were killed, and that 100,000 buildings were destroyed by the earthquake. Farming was disrupted by the loss of 53,000 domestic animals and extensive damage to a network of hillside aqueducts that had been constructed over many generations. The cost of recovering from the earthquake was estimated at 2.9 million rupees (1905) … There is a dispute in the magnitude of the earthquake; some say it was 7.6 while others say 8.6 on the Richter scale.” (A note on Kangra Earthquake Ms 7.8 of April 1905 by Nicholas Ambraseys and Roger Bilham)
Dharamshala was the central point of District Kangra which was completely obliterated by the earthquake of 1905. Apart from Kangra, tremors were felt in Murree, Jhelum, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi, causing very little damage. Severe shocks were observed in Jammu and Srinagar, resulting in the total destruction of countless buildings while several others were damaged. Many lost their lives in Srinagar. A hundred houses were razed to the ground in Sialkot. Extreme shocks were felt in Shimla as well.
Nobody in the past 1600 years of India ever experienced an earthquake of such a scale as that of the 1905 Kangra earthquake, causing massive destruction, claiming countless lives and wiping out huge buildings. Previously, 2,000 people died in the earthquake of 1819, and 1542 people lost their lives in the earthquake of 1897 that occurred in Shillong, while the earthquake of 1905 singlehandedly claimed more than 20,000 lives.
The opponents should ponder over this fact that in all the destruction and devastation caused by this horrifying earthquake, the glad tiding vouchsafed to the Promised Messiahas was fulfilled, which is as follows:
اِنِّيْ اُحَافِظُ كُلَّ مَنْ فِي الدَّارِ
“I shall safeguard all those who are in this house” (Al Hakam, 10-17 June 1904, p. 10).
Had the revelation concerning the earthquake been fabricated, Allah the Almighty would have wiped out the very name of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, but instead, every single individual who belonged to his spiritual house was saved from this catastrophe.
(Research conducted by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah. Translated by Junaid Ahmad Waraich, Pakistan)