Allah the Almighty states in the form of a promise to the Muslim Ummah:
لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْاَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِيْنَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ
Allah the Almighty would make successors in this Ummah as He had made successors in previous nations (Surah al-Nur, Ch.24: V.56).
The word كَمَا (as) denotes a resemblance and its usage in this verse is worth reflecting upon.
A resemblance either occurs between two subjects or two objects and it happens between two separate entities. The subject in both clauses of this verse is God. Thus, in this instance, the resemblance between both subjects is not referred to, but the resemblance between both objects is what is meant. In other words, the successors of the Muslim Ummah would be similar to the successors of former nations.
The Holy Prophetsa states:
كُلَّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيٌّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيٌّ
After the death of a prophet, the successor of a prophet amongst the Bani Israel also used to be a prophet. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Ahadithul Anbiya, Hadith No. 3455)
In light of the mentioned prophecy in the verse of Surah al-Nur and the Hadith of Bukhari, it is established that the successors of the Muslim Ummah would resemble former prophets, meaning that the four rightly guided successors after the demise of the Holy Prophetsa were like unto prophets.
Moreover, foretelling the future of his Ummah, the Holy Prophetsa prophesised:
ثُمَّ تَكُوْنُ خِلَافَةً عَلَي مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ
Khilafat would appear in his Ummah in the latter days. This is indicative of the fact that the forthcoming successors in the Muslim Ummah would each be the reflection of prophets.
Hence, Imam Razirh also mentions this very topic under the commentary of this verse. He says:
كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِيْنَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ يَعْنِيْ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ هَارُوْنَ وَ يُوْشَعَ وَ دَاوُدَ وَ سُلَيْمَانَ وَ تَقْدِيْرُ النَّظْمِ لَيَسْتَخلِفَنَّهُمُ اسْتِخْلَافًا كَاسْتِخْلَافِ مَنْ قَبْلَهُمْ مِنْ هَؤُلَاءِ الْاَنْبِيَاءِ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلَامُ.
“The words, ‘As He made successors from among those who were before them’ refer to how the likes of Aaron, Joshua, David and Solomon were chosen as successors, and in accordance to this practise, He will surely choose successors from among them as He had chosen those before them from these prophets, on whom be peace.”
The Holy Prophetsa mentioned precisely the same issue in one of his Ahadith where he states:
عُلَمَاءُ اُمَّتِيْ كَاَنْبِيَاءِ بَنِيْ اِسْرَائِيْل
“The divine scholars of my Ummah shall be like the prophets of the Children of Israel.”
Imam Razirh mentions this Hadith on four occasions in his commentary. This shows that the verse of Istikhlaf [making successors] and this Hadith contain the prophecy that the saints and successors of the Muslim Ummah would continue to appear in the image of the prophets of Bani Israel. For this reason, the saints before the advent of the Promised Messiahas were also like unto the prophets of the Children of Israel. Similarly, the saints and successors after the Promised Messiahas will also be in similarity with the prophets of Bani Israel.
In this manner did the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat also declare his son to be like unto the Messiahas. Every saint and successor resembles a prophet, even if Allah does not inform them of which prophet they are a reflection.
In this Hadith, the Holy Prophetsa foretold that the righteous scholars of his Ummah would be like the prophets of Bani Israel. In other words, as God Almighty used to extensively accept the prayers of those prophets and divine revelation used to descend upon them; as God Almighty used to come to their assistance and bless their speech and actions, God would deal with the forthcoming pious scholars of His Ummah in the same manner and they would be like unto the prophets of Bani Israel.
As the enemies of Maryas and her son levelled impure and vile allegations against them, Allah the Almighty henceforth metaphorically adopted the names “Mary” and “Jesus” for the righteous and beloved servants of God as a rebuttal to the Jews’ allegations, as we have mentioned in light of the Quran and Hadith above.
One who is like unto another is sometimes equal to the person they resemble in rank. Sometimes, they are lesser in rank and sometimes greater, as Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
وَ شَهِدَ شَاهِدٌ مِّنْ بَنِيْ اِسْرَائِيْلَ عَلَي مِثْلِهِ فَآمَنَ وَ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ
“…and a witness from among the children of Israel bears witness to the advent of one like him, and he believed, but you are too proud…” (Surah al-Ahqaf, Ch.46: V.11)
Furthermore, He states:
اِنَّا اَرْسَلْنَا اِلَيْكُمْ رَسُوْلًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا اَرْسَلْنَا اِلَي فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُوْلًا
“Verily, We have sent to you a Messenger, who is a witness over you, even as We sent a Messenger to Pharaoh.” (Surah al-Muzammil, Ch.73: V.16)
In these verses, the Holy Prophetsa has been declared like unto Mosesas whereas his status is greater than of Mosesas. Similarly, those saints and scholars who are not prophets but are in the image of the prophets of Bani Israel are lesser in status than them on account of not being prophets.
It is alleged that in an excerpt of Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas mentioned the coming of three individuals only, who would resemble Jesusas. The first individual was the Holy Prophetsa, the second person is the Promised Messiahas i.e. the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat himself, and the third individual would appear close to Judgement Day.
Furthermore, a sentence of the book of the Promised Messiahas, Izala-e-Auham, in which Hazrat Ahmadas states “In my opinion, thousands of individuals in the image of Jesusas can appear in the future” is also mentioned. Bearing both these extracts in minds, attempts have been made to prove them to be conflicting views.
These extracts are easily understandable and such allegations are purely levelled to deceive people. In these extracts, the coming of that particular Messiah has simply been denied regarding whom people believe that the Gospels had descended on. The Messiah who would descend to the east of Damascus; whose hands would be placed on the shoulders of angels; who would break the cross, slay the swine and from whose breath disbelievers would die was not Jesus. Regarding this belief, the Promised Messiahas stated that the coming of the Promised Messiahas, who had been prophesied, meant the coming of a person bearing resemblance to him because the Israeli Messiah had passed away. Thus, he would not leave paradise and return to this world.
He who was to come for the purpose of breaking the cross has already appeared. Now none else shall come.
Nevertheless, opponents present extracts of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas in which he likened a child of his to the Messiah. Thus, there is a prophecy concerning a promised son:
“He will come into the world and will heal many of their disorders through his messianic qualities and through the blessings of the Holy Spirit”. (Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, p. 647)
Furthermore, he stated that thousands of people have been born resembling the Messiah and this is possible in the future too, as this topic has been mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, that all saints and khalifas are like unto prophets.
The Promised Messiahas states in a Persian couplet:
صد هزاران يوسفے بينم درين چاه ذقن
وآن مسيح ناصري شدازدم اوبے شمار
“I observe a thousand Josephs in a dimple of the Holy Prophetsa; And by the blessings of his breath, innumerable Nazarene Messiahs were born.”
It is also alleged that the Promised Messiahas declared his promised son to bear a resemblance to the Messiah, whereas he made no such claim in his entire life.
It is not necessary for a prophet, khalifa or saint who bears a resemblance with a prophet to make a claim. It is established from the Quran and Hadith that the beloved and holy men of God are likened to Maryas and the Son of Mary, but not every saint has claimed to resemble Maryas or the Son of Mary.
The Holy Quran has declared the successors of the Holy Prophetsa to be like unto prophets, but no claim of the rightly guided Khulafa exists in which they announced the prophet they reflected.
Thus, it is not a prerequisite for one who bears a resemblance with a certain prophet to claim which prophet they are similar to, but it is also not unlawful to claim resemblance with a prophet, or the Messiah in this case.
Now, the objection that is left to be dealt with is that Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra did not name himself the like of the Messiah, but he merely declared that the prophecy of the Promised Son was fulfilled in his person.
However, when it has already been established that the son of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra declared himself to be the fulfilment of the prophecy pertaining to the Promised Son, then naturally all the attributes mentioned in this prophecy are fulfilled in his person, one of which is that he was similar to the Messiah. Thus, on 6 January 1944, he received the revelation:
اَنَا الْمَسِيْحُ الْمَوْعُوْدُ مَثِيْلُهُ وَ خَلِيْفَتُهُ
“I am the Promised Messiah; his like and his successor.” (Roya wa Kushuf, Syedna Mahmud, p. 191].
Thereafter, he claimed to be Musleh-e-Maud [the Promised Reformer].
(Research by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah. Translated by Fateh Alam, UK)