Providing a brief insight into the Promised Messiah’sas interactions with the Christian mission in India
Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
“And I swear by the Lord in Whose hands is my life that the son of Mary shall surely appear among you as a just arbiter and shall break the cross, annihilate the swine …” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Anbiya).
Among the many prophecies about the advent of the awaited messiah was that he would come at such a time when Christianity would be prevalent in the world.
Today, the “cross” symbolises the Christian faith, their belief and notions that they have adopted, such as crucifixion, the sonship of God (the central theme of Christianity), the philosophy of sin and atonement, the holy ghost, salvation, resurrection and the doctrine of trinity.
The “breaking of the cross” cannot be taken in its literal sense. No true Muslim can believe that the task of the awaited messiah would be to merely slaughter swine and break the cross as this can have no benefit for the Muslim Ummah or the propagation of Islam and nothing can be gained by performing this task.
What this prophecy actually entails and means is that the Promised Messiah would unveil the fallacy of the notion and belief that the Christians had adopted and would show to the world, through intellectual debate and heavenly signs, how the false notions of Christianity that have taken root are nothing but mere fables.
The breaking of the cross and the annihilation of the swine, as explained by Hazrat Allama ibn Hajarrh, means that the religion of Christianity would become ineffective. (Fath-ul-Bari, Sharah Sahih al-Bukhari)
Explaining the reality of this prophecy, the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas stated:
“In reality, the breaking of the cross means that at the time, God of Heaven and Earth would reveal the hidden Truth and, all of a sudden, the entire structure of the cross would collapse … The world has been groping in the dark for far too long. Many have conspired against their well-wishers, wounded the hearts of true friends, and hurt their dear ones. But now darkness shall be no more. Night is gone and the day has dawned. Blessed is he who remains not deprived anymore!” (Jesus in India, p.100)
Thus, over time, the truth about the Messiahas of Nazareth had been forgotten and lost, therefore, through God’s promise vouchsafed in the Holy Quran in Surah al-Taubah, verse 33:
ہُوَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَرۡسَلَ رَسُوۡلَہٗ بِالۡہُدٰی وَ دِیۡنِ الۡحَقِّ لِیُظۡہِرَہٗ عَلَی الدِّیۡنِ کُلِّہٖ ۙ وَ لَوۡ کَرِہَ الۡمُشۡرِکُوۡنَ
it was destined for the coming of the Messiah to dispel false notions, enlighten the world and remove the veil of darkness that they had foolishly knitted before their very eyes.
Christianity, with all its might, had started preaching in India under the umbrella of the British Government. Churches were being erected and Bibles were being printed left, right and centre. In summary, Christianity had exhausted all efforts in creating the subcontinent of India into a central hub for Christianity. To prove their superiority, Christian missionaries, along with Bible societies, had begun writing tracts and books against Islam.
With all this commotion, force and aggression against Islam, one man, against all odds, at a time when Islam was hardly practiced, with the aid of an ink-pot and a burning candle, fought day and night against this fierce wave of onslaughts against Islam.
We aim here to take a brief look into the life of the Promised Messiahas, his interactions with Christian missionaries and how his coming and advent spared the “creed of the cross” no room for growth.
In the small Indian hamlet of Qadian stood a man, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, who single-handedly embarked on this mission of eradicating the widespread false notions against Islam made by the Christian missionaries.
In his book, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, through rational arguments, he wrote about the excellences of Islam whilst disarming his opponents. The Promised Messiahas went so far as to prove the excellences of Islam that he challenged all faiths with:
“I hereby offer a reward of 10,000 rupees to all those who can prove that their scriptures are equal to the Holy Quran in respect of all the arguments and incontrovertible proofs, which I have adduced from the Holy Book; or, in case their scriptures fail to provide such arguments, make an admission of this failure in their books and try, at least, to refute all of my arguments one by one.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Vol. 1, p. 46)
Much earlier to the publication of this magnum opus, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, during the five years he spent in Sialkot, came into contact with many Christian scholars and missionaries and would frequently debate with them on theological matters. For example, one incident has been recorded in Life of Ahmad by Hazrat Abdur Rahim Dardra:
“Elisha … a native Christian missionary, who lived to the south of Hajipura, once had a discussion with Ahmadas. He asserted that salvation was impossible outside the fold of Christianity. Ahmadas asked him to define the word ‘salvation’ and explain what he meant by it. The missionary failed to do so and concluded by saying that he had not studied logic.” (Life of Ahmad, pp. 48-49)
It is important to mention here that the writing style practiced by other religions was to write in an abusive, foul and inflammatory manner. However, the Promised Messiahas adopted a polite and decent approach and made logic and rationality the bases of his arguments, rendering all allegations and polemics utterly baseless, whilst introducing a new form of intellectual discussion.
Thus began the “revival of Islam” as promised by God to the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
At a time where Islam was described to be at its “all time low”, one man wielded the pen and paralysed the activities of the opponents of Islam.
By 1885, Christianity had made its plans to spreads all over India. Robert Clarke, the founder of the Church Mission Society (CMS) station in Amritsar, mentions in his book, The Mission:
“What, then, is our true policy at the present time? The Punjab is the border Province between the Mohammedanism of Central Asia and the Hinduism of India. The Punjab seems thus to be a natural base of missionary work in Central Asia.”
What we can gather from this is that effort was being put into proselytisation and spreading the Christian faith throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Moving forward to 1890, the Promised Messiahas had penned Fath-e-Islam (Victory of Islam), in which he expounded on the theme of the crucifixion of Jesusas and mentioned that Jesusas of Nazareth indeed died a natural death. He further claimed that God had commissioned him to eradicate and demolish the false beliefs of Christianity.
Though these intellectual books with rational arguments were being penned by the Promised Messiahas and presented before the Christians of India, the Christians did not deviate from their ways and persisted to indulge further in their mischief. However, seeing Hazrat Ahmadas as an unstoppable force and knowing that they could not compete with his logical arguments, the missionaries adopted a method in which they began attacking the personage of the Prophetsa of Islam.
It appears that this new form of argumentation was influenced from Muslim “scholars” such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who said that belief in the efficacy of prayer, miracles and angels is all futile. Hazrat Ahmadas, in 1893, wrote Barakat-ul-Dua (Blessings of Prayer) and laid all the misconceptions to rest. Whilst expounding on the beauties of Islam and of being a true Muslim, the Promised Messiahas said that it is only through Islam that one can attain spiritual eminence. This was also the first time the Promised Messiahas wrote to Queen Victoria, inviting her to Islam.
In 1893, Christian scholars had set up their missions in different towns of India, such as Jandiala, a town situated in Amritsar, and were making huge progress, preaching their message to the people of Jandiala.
To refute the allegations against Islam, the Muslims of Jandiala would raise objections during the open-air speeches of Christian scholars. Due to this, the Christian mission in Jandiala felt as if it was meeting opposition and resistance.
Thus, Henry Martyn Clark, who was a British medical missionary stationed in Amritsar, wrote to the Muslims of Jandiala, in which he expressed his desire to hold a debate, which he named as the “Holy War” with Muslim scholars. He also stated in the letter that this Holy War would be held with the object of reaching a final verdict as to which religion was true and which was false.
He further stated that if the Muslims were to shy away from this debate or if they faced a crushing defeat, then they would no longer be able to confront any Christian scholar in the future. This letter was addressed to Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, a Muslim in Jandiala.
Since the fate of Islam was on the line, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh wrote to the Promised Messiahas, who at the time, was in Qadian, for guidance upon this matter. Upon receiving his letter, the Promised Messiahas wrote directly to Dr Clark, accepting the debate.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Since I have been commissioned for such religious contest and, on account of divine revelation, know for certain that I shall be victorious in every field, therefore, Dr Clark has been forthwith informed through a letter that it is my earnest desire to take part in this contest so that the distinction between truth and falsehood may be clearly manifested.” (A Conclusive Argument in the Favour of Islam, p. 7)
In this book, Hujjat-ul-Islam (translated as A Conclusive Argument in the Favour of Islam) penned in 1893, the Promised Messiahas asks Henry Martin Clark what this debate would lead to, as past experience had shown that after the countless debates that had already taken place, both parties were still unable to reach a conclusion.
Thus, the Promised Messiahas proposed a solution to this matter in his letter addressed to Henry Martin Clark:
“The debate ought not to be limited to the earthly realm alone, but rather the heavens ought to participate in it as well. The focus of this contest should be around which religion possesses spiritual life, heavenly acceptance and enlightenment. It would be incumbent upon me and my opponent to demonstrate the effects of our respective books in our own beings. If later on, they desire to reconcile these two doctrines on the basis of reason, this too is well and good; nevertheless, the heavenly and spiritual contest must take precedence.” (A Conclusive Argument in the Favour of Islam, p. 59)
Thus arrived 22 May 1893, the day of the commencement of the Holy War, remembered as one of the greatest victorious debates of Islam to take place in the southern slopes of India.
Talking about the debate, Henry Martyn Clark, on one occasion, said:
“When our turn came, I must candidly confess our champion (Abdullah Atham) did not make the best of our case against Mohammedanism. Despite much advice … Mr. Atham pursued a course of his own … It was scarcely the type of war required”. (Church Missionary Intelligencer, February 1894, p. 99)
Until the debate of the Holy War, Christianity was deemed, in the eyes of the population of India, as the dominant religion. However, after this debate, Christendom, shook to its core, knowing very well they could not face the likes of the Promised Messiahas in logical, theological and intellectual debates, resorted back to their old ways and methods of attacking Islam and the noble personage of the Holy Prophetsa withvile and abusive language.
Simply brushing over the events that transpired in India with the Christian mission and Hazrat Ahmadas, the shore where Christianity was destined to alight was visible, signifying the nearing end of their journey.
In 1897, Sirajuddin, who was once a Muslim, through his close accounts and relations with Christians, came under their influence and adopted their belief. He wrote a letter to the Promised Messiahas in which he mentioned four questions for which he demanded answers to.
In reply, the Promised Messiahas wrote Answers to the Four Questions by Sirajuddin, a Christian, in which he answered all the questions raised with such eloquence that it left no room for Christianity to breathe in India. The Promised Messiahas took this occasion and addressed the Christians, inviting them to compete with him if they believed that their religion was the true religion.
It was at this point where the spread of Christianity came to a halt and signs indicating their loss became evident. Thus, they were forced to exit the scene and drive off the highway of spreading their faith.
In 1899, the Promised Messiahas wrote Jesus in India, in which he traced the detailed life of Jesusas after crucifixion through extensive research and analysis of the Holy Quran, Gospels and ahadith. He also drew evidence from Buddhist sources, as well as medical and historical material.
By now, it had already been established that the Christian faith had lost its footing. Thus, not only did the Promised Messiahas fight against the tide of the ever-spreading Christian creed of crucifixion, but also unveiled the events that transpired after the crucifixion.
Now, both Christian missionaries and Muslim scholars, who both believed that Jesusas was still alive, had no room to further spread their notions. By this time, not only had the cross been “broken”, but scholars and world leaders of religion had also come to terms with and accepted the reality.
The Promised Messiahas has expounded on this in his book, Tadhkiratu-Shahadatain, in which he stated:
“The Christian faith is losing ground daily in the field of reasoning and commonsense and great scholars are renouncing their old beliefs. Even the emperor of Germany has talked of relinquishing his faith. This proves that it is God Almighty’s will that the Christian faith be obliterated from the face of the earth through rational arguments.” (Tadhkiratu-Shahadatain, p. 32)
Thus, the Jihad of the pen, as shown and very eloquently demonstrated by the Promised Messiahas was second to none. From the small hamlet of Qadian, which would have remained unknown to the world if not for Hazrat Ahmadas, one man eradicated the false beliefs adopted by the Christian world.
We do not find any person who had come close to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas in reviving the Islamic faith. At a time when Islam was described to have lost all its glory, one man revived it in all its majesty and glory.