Shedding light on the claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas with regard to his knowledge of the Arabic language, this series of articles seeks to answer major allegations raised against the Promised Messiah’sas use of Arabic phrases, his God-given eloquence and his command over the language and the usage of sentences taken from past literature.
Muhammad Tahir Nadeem, Central Arabic Desk
Now we will take a look at the allegations raised by opponents of the Jamaat with regard to the Promised Messiah’sas proficiency in Arabic. We will see how the Promised Messiah’sas writings were an ocean of deep and profound meanings. In fact, the Promised Messiahas gave some very important and great insights into his claim in his Arabic works and also replied to allegations made against his works.
The possible allegations on the Arabic works of the Promised Messiahas
After reading the replies the Promised Messiahas gave to those who raised issue regarding his Arabic works, one realises that the Promised Messiahas knew exactly what kind of allegations his opponents would raise. His replies also point towards his unshakable belief in his God-given knowledge and that whatever he wrote was free from error as it was inspired by Allah. Often, the way he wrote and used Arabic in his writings that would be the target of allegations, would also be found in old Arabic works – therefore nullifying the allegation. For example, the Promised Messiahas said:
“An ignorant person raises issue saying that such and such conjunction is incorrect or a compound is wrong, and then [later] the exact same type of conjunction or compound or tense is found [to be used] in the old couplets of the Jahiliyyah.” (Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, p.436)
Today, the answers to the allegations made on the Arabic writings of the Promised Messiahas are answered how he advised us to answer them. All the Arabic usages of the Promised Messiahas that are subject to scrutiny, are searched in old books, old lughaat or grammar, and the same usage is found in them. This proves the Promised Messiahas had a deep understanding of all the content he wrote and indicated its origins and sources too.
Reconciliation of texts that appear to contradict the rules of Arabic syntax and morphology (Al-Sarf wa Al-Nahw)
It is not a concern when it seems the Arabic writing of the Promised Messiahas has not followed rules of Arabic syntax and morphology – in fact, when faced with such an instance, the Promised Messiahas has explained how to reply to such issues. He said:
“It is a wonder that at times, the wording of the revelation [wahi] of God Almighty is not in accordance with man-made syntax and morphology; however, with a little attention, it can be reconciled. For this very reason, some ignorant people, keeping in mind their self-devised syntax, have raised issue with the Holy Quran too, but all these allegations are preposterous.” (Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, p. 436)
At another place he said:
“God has the full knowledge of language, something which humans do not. And as languages change when locations are changed, so too is it changed over the duration of time. Today, the Arabic idiom used in places like Egypt, Mecca, Medina and the countries of Sham [Middle eastern countries], completely uproots the rules of Arabic syntax and morphology, and it is possible such Arabic idiom was used at a previous time too. Therefore, nothing prohibits the revelation of God Almighty from using language that is in accordance with earlier or present Arabic idiom. This is why the Holy Quran contains some special and unique features [in terms of language].” (Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, p. 436)
Old Arabic lughaat and the different dialects of tribes and areas were all part of eloquent Arabic. However, today, Arabic dialects have been tremendously spoiled and changed and the statement of the Promised Messiahas is one hundred per cent true that today, the Arabic spoken in Arab countries completely uproots and contradicts the rules of Arabic syntax and morphology.
It is possible that certain dialects were spoken in the past and in accordance with their idiom and style, Allah taught Hazrat Ahmadas or gave him revelation in that old idiom.
From all of this, one can see how much certainty the Promised Messiahas had in the revelations he received and how confident he was that the Arabic revelation would most definitely be part of an old Arabic idiom used in the past, one just has to search for it.
Those who reply to the allegations made on the Arabic writings of Huzooras just need to base their research on Huzoor’s statement: “With a little attention, it can be reconciled”. This is because with a little research, one can easily find other examples in old books that will negate the allegation made against the Arabic of the Promised Messiahas.
Are there no mistakes at all in the books of the Promised Messiah?
The above should not make someone think that every mistake found in the books of the Promised Messiahas can be reconciled by some kind of rule or Arabic usage. Even the Promised Messiahas pointed out some mistakes that were made in his writings, and so we should not reject this possibility. Nevertheless, what Huzooras explained with regard to these mistakes should always be kept in mind. He said:
“For a person who writes a lot of books in Arabic or Persian, it is very possible they make some syntactical and morphological mistakes, as the adage goes, قَلَّمَا سَلِمَ مِكْثَارٌ . And due to not seeing those mistakes, they are not corrected. It is also possible that owing to the fault of the scribe, a mistake is published and the author misses those mistakes due to human error.” (Karamat-us-Sadiqeen, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 7, p. 47)
At another instance he said:
إِنّ كُتُبِي مُبَرَّأَةٌ مِمَّا زَعَمَتَ، وَمُنَزَّهَةٌ عَمَّا ظَنَنْتَ، إِلَّا سَهْو الكاتِبينَ، أَوْ زَيْغ القَلَمِ، بِتَغافَلٍ مِنِّي لَا كَجَهْلِ الجَاهِلِينَ
“My books are free from your self-devised mistakes and the faults that are according to your own thoughts, apart from those mistakes that are due to the error of scribes, or a mistake by the pen or that have been left due to my negligence. They have not been committed due to [my] ignorance [of knowledge and language].” (Maktub-e-Ahmad, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 11, pp. 241-242)
He also wrote:
“Most of those who are quick to criticise, especially Shaikh Muhammad Hussain Sahib Batalwi, who reads my Arabic books just to find faults, due to their being clouded by prejudice, even regard scribal errors as mistakes.” (Sirr-ul-Khilafah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 8, p. 316)
This means the Promised Messiahas checked some of the mistakes that had been pointed out and realised they had been made due to the scribe, not Huzooras. And so, Huzooras said not to attribute the mistakes of the scribe as his mistakes. This is further clarified when some people took out mistakes from the Arabic writings of Huzooras that had actually been made by the scribe, and demanded the reward of Huzoor’s challenge. In response, Huzooras said:
“Some naïve people, pointing out a few mistakes made by the scribe or accidental errors, became hopeful for the reward.” (Ibid)
This means that some accidental errors, or mistakes made by the scribe when writing up the final draft, were later presented before Huzooras and where it was established that such a mistake was actually published, Huzooras himself admitted it.
(Research conducted by Muhammad Tahir Nadeem Sahib, Arabic Desk UK. Translated by Al Hakam)