Awwab Saad Hayat and Ataul Fatir Tahir, Al Hakam
Regarding the advent of the Messiah of Islam, the Holy Prophetsa foretold:
إِذْ بَعَثَ اللّٰهُ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ فَيَنْزِلُ عِنْدَ الْمَنَارَةِ الْبَيْضَاءِ شَرْقِيَّ دِمَشْقَ بَيْنَ مَهْرُودَتَيْنِ وَاضِعًا كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى أَجْنِحَةِ مَلَكَيْن
“It would be at this very time that Allah would send Jesus, son of Mary, and he will descend near the white minaret to the east of Damascus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two angels.” (Sahih Muslim, The book of tribulations and signs of the Last Hour)
The majority of Muslims believe this prophecy means Jesusas will literally descend on the earth and climb down a minaret situated in the eastern part of Damascus. Many Muslims have even erected minarets and painted them white in the vain hope that the Messiah somehow sees it when coming down from the sky and descends on it.
Allah taught the true meaning of these prophecies to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas who was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. Regarding this prophecy, the Promised Messiahas in his Arabic book Hamamat-ul-Bushra writes:
ثم يسافر المسيح الموعود أو خليفة من خلفائه الی أرض دمشق، فهذا معنی القول الذی جاء فی حديث مسلم أن عيسیٰ ينزل عند منارة دمشق۔ فان النزيل هو المسافر الوارد من ملك آخر۔ وفی الحديث۔۔يعنی لفظ المشرق۔۔ اشارة الی أنه يسير الی مدينة دمشق من بعض البلاد المشرقية وهو ملك الهند۔
“Then the Promised Messiah or a Khalifa from his Khulafa [plural for Khalifa] will travel to the land of Damascus. This is the meaning of the hadith mentioned in Muslim that says Isaas will descend close to a minaret in Damascus. This is because nazeel is the name given for a traveller who comes from another land. And in the hadith, the word ‘east’ signifies he will come from eastern lands to Damascus and that eastern country is India.” (Hamamat-ul-Bushra, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 7, p. 225)
This grand prophecy was fulfilled in the person of the second Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas who was also the Musleh-e-Maudra.
Prophecies fulfilled through followers
We will go on to speak about how exactly the prophecy of the Messiah arriving near a white minaret in Damascus was fulfilled through the second Khalifa and the son of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas in this article. However, a reality everyone must realise is that prophecies can be fulfilled through followers of a prophet or even through their children.
For example, the Holy ProphetMuhammadsa saw he was given the keys to the kingdoms of the Byzantine king, Caesar and the Sasanian king, Khosrow – the superpowers at the advent of Islam. However, this prophecy was not fulfilled during the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammadra. It manifested during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umarra bin Khattab, the second Khalifa of Prophet Muhammadsa.
The Holy Prophetsa witnessed himself getting the keys but this did not happen literally. It meant his mission, Islam would overcome these two superpowers through a follower and representative of the Holy Prophetsa – Hazrat Umarra – who would take hold of the Byzantine and Sasanian kingdoms.
The prophecy about the Messiah arriving in the eastern side of Damascus near a white minaret was fulfilled through the son and second Khalifa of Hazrat Ahmadas. There were other prophecies too that indicated Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra would visit the Arab lands – including Damascus.
On 7 September 1905 the Promised Messiahas was shown a piece of paper in a vision which had the following written on it:
مصالح العرب۔ مسيرالعرب
Meaning, “Setting right the affairs of the Arabs. Journey among Arabs.” (Tadhkirah [English], p. 773)
Regarding the above, the Promised Messiahas said:
“(Walking amongst the Arabs) could also mean that it is decreed we may go to Arab lands. 25-26 years ago, I saw in a dream that someone was writing my name. He wrote half of my name in Arabic and half in English. Prophets also migrate; however, where some dreams are fulfilled in the lifetime of the prophet others are manifested through some of their children or a follower. For example, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him was given the keys [to the kingdom] of Caesar and Khosrow [in a vision] but those countries were conquered during the era of Hazrat Umarra.” (Badr, Vol. 1, No. 23, 7 September 1905 and Al Hakam Vol. 9, No. 32, 10 September 1905, p. 3)
The prophecy given to Hazrat Ahmadas of walking amongst Arabs, visiting Arab lands and also English-speaking ones was fulfilled through the second Khalifa of Islam Ahmadiyyat, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra who visited England and Arab lands. He visited England in 1924 and 1955. His first visit to Arab lands was before being elected as the Khalifa when he went to Egypt and also performed Hajj in Mecca in 1912. In 1924 he went to Palestine where he visited the Bait-ul-Maqdas and travelled to Damascus, Beirut, etc. In 1955 when travelling to Europe he went to Damascus and Beirut again where he stayed for some days.
“The white minaret” and Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s first visit to Damascus
During his travels towards Europe in 1924, while in Haifa, Palestine Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra left for Damascus on the morning of 4 August 1924 via train and arrived in the same evening. He stayed in the city until 9 August during which many faith-inspiring events took place in the backdrop of opposition by some Muslims in Damascus.
Propaganda against Ahmadi Muslims had reached Damascus too however despite this Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra achieved great success, acceptance and fame while in the city.
Talking about the opposition and the success that followed in Damascus Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra wrote:
“When we entered Damascus, we first couldn’t find a place to stay and it was arranged with great difficulty – for two days no one paid attention to us.
“I worried a great deal and prayed, ‘O Allah! How will the prophecy regarding Damascus be fulfilled; it cannot mean that we merely visit [Damascus] and return. Grant success through Your grace.’ When I went to sleep after praying, at night my tongue began reciting the words ‘عبد مكرم’ meaning ‘Our servant who was given honour’. […]” (Al Fazl, 4 December 1924, p. 6)
A companion of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Bhai Abdur Rahman Qadianira who was part of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s entourage during this trip, spoke of the difficult circumstances of finding a place to stay in Damascus. He said members of the entourage had to sleep on the floor of one room of the hotel and the room itself was given at a very high price to them. (Safr-e-Europe, p. 54)
Leaving aside Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s other engagements in Damascus, let us focus on how the prophecy of the Messiah arriving near a white minaret in eastern Damascus was fulfilled.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra explained how this prophecy manifested during his stay in Damascus in the following manner:
“The matter of ‘The White Minaret’ was peculiar too. There was a friend of Hazrat Syed Waliullah Shah Sahib called Maulvi Abdul Qadir al-Maghrabi whom I asked where the minaret was located on which Hazrat Isaas was to descend according to them. He said it was on the Umayyad mosque, however, another [Muslim] cleric said it was located in the neighbourhood of the Christians and yet another cleric said Hazrat Isaas would build it himself after arriving.
“Now we were intrigued over what minaret they referred to and wanted to see it. In the morning I led the [Fajr] prayer in the hotel and at the time myself, Zulfiqar Ali Khan Sahib and Dr Hashmatullah Sahib were present – in other words, two worshippers were behind me [during Fajr prayer]. When I ended the prayer and did the salaam I saw that right in front of us was a minaret and there was only one road separating us. I said, ‘this is that very minaret’ and we were at its eastern side. There was only this minaret which was white and none other. The Ummayad mosque’s minaret was blue. When I saw that white minaret [before us] and there were only two worshippers behind me I said that the hadith has been fulfilled too.” (Al Fazl, 4 December 1924, p. 7)
This momentous occasion became a bright star in the history of Islam – the prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa Muslims had been waiting for was magnificently fulfilled. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was at the eastern side of the white minaret of Damascus and the two “angels” behind him.
In this manner, the hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa that the Messiah would arrive in the eastern side of Damascus near a white minaret came true.
“O teacher!” – Arabs in Damascus inspired by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra
Despite the initial opposition Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and his entourage faced in Damascus, a wave of acceptance and inspiration fell on the Arabs in Damascus and they fled to eagerly sit in the company of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and learn from him.
The hotel Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra stayed at would be filled to the brim with Arab visitors who wanted to come and learn from Huzoorra.
Describing this, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:
“It was an extraordinary sight. College students and professors would come with their notebooks and whatever I would say, they wrote down. If they missed even a word, they would say ‘Ya ustadh! [O teacher!], please wait for a little, that word was missed.’ As if this was the scene described in the Bible where the Messiah would be addressed by the words ‘O teacher’.” (Al Fazl, 4 December 1924, p. 6)
Describing the engagements in Damascus and the intensity of visitors – the majority of whom were admirers – Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:
“As we woke up on the second day people began arriving [to the hotel]. This reached the point where from the morning to midnight 200-1200 people were always present outside the hotel. This scared the hotel owner who thought disturbances might break out. The police arrived as well and the police officer said there was the danger of violence breaking out.
“To demonstrate that people did not intend to create any disturbance, I stood before the crowd. A few people swore and cursed but the majority expressed great love and affection saying:
هذا ابن المهدي
[‘This is the son of the Mahdi’]
“And would convey their salaam [to me]. But despite this, the police instructed: ‘Remain indoors as it is our responsibility’. In this way, we were shut indoors.
“Due to this, we phoned the British council […] and the arrangement was made that the visitors come and meet us inside after getting permission.”
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra described how the Arab visitors would shut down Muslim clerics who tried to create opposition and uttered inappropriate things against Huzoorra and the Ahmadi Muslim entourage.
“If a [Muslim] cleric spoke against us, others present would tell them off. A [Muslim] cleric came who was thought to be very influential and said some inappropriate things. The educated people present told him off and said not to say such vulgar things and that they had not come to listen to him. At this, he left and the chiefs present began apologising saying ‘He was a foolish person, do not get angry about anything he says – it was an abnormal occurrence.’
“The visit to Damascus was a success well above and beyond expectations […] Newspapers published long articles in praise of us. The intellectual class of Damascus took a great interest in us. All the newspapers that would publish news and articles about our mission would often be sold out immediately.” (Al Fazl, 4 December 1924, p. 6)
Arabs and Ahmadiyyat – A challenge by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra had mentioned Shaikh Abdul Qadir al-Maghrabi, a non-Ahmadi Muslim Arab. This person was a well-known writer from Damascus. During the visit to Damascus, he said to Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra that they respected him as he was a respected Imam of a Jamaat. At one point, he said, “However, do not expect that in these lands anyone will be influenced by your beliefs because we are of Arab lineage and Arabic is our mother tongue. And an Indian, no matter how great a scholar he may be, can never have the ability to understand the Quran and hadith more than us.”
After listening to this statement of his, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra negated Shaikh Abdul Qadir’s belief and while smiling said:
“We are to send preachers to every corner of the earth, however, now after returning to India my first task will be to send [Ahmadi] preachers to your country and then I will witness your courage in front of those who wave the Divine flag.”
Accordingly, when Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra returned to India from his travels, to set up an Ahmadiyya Muslim preaching mission in Damascus, he sent Hazrat Syed Walliullah Shah Sahib and Maulana Jalaluddin Shams Sahib as missionaries to Damascus. Their preaching of Ahmadiyyat’s message in Damascus proved to be successful and many Arabs converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat. (Masalih al-Arab, Vol. 1, p. 150)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud’s visit to Damascus majestically fulfilled the prophecy made by Prophet Muhammadsa that the Messiah would arrive in the east of Damascus near a white minaret. Islam Ahmadiyyat’s message saw great success and further details of Huzoor’s engagements and the faith-inspiring events that took place in Damascus can be found in Hazrat Bhai Abdur Rahman Sahib’s diary – the section about Damascus spans almost 50 pages.