Were the Arabic works of the Promised Messiah plagiarised from “Maqamat al-Hariri”? – Part I

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Last Updated on 11th December 2020

The Promised Messiahas said:

“By accepting the criticism made by Muhammad Hasan, rather absurdly, Mehr Ali accused me of copying proverbs and sayings from other works such as Maqamat al-Hariri. I did indeed reproduce them in my book [Ijaz-ul-Masih] but in the form of extracts or citations that cover no more than two or three lines [i.e. only a few lines]. In the opinion of this vacuous man, this was evidence of plagiarism. But the prophecy:

اِنِّیْ مُھِیْنٌ مَّنْ اَرَادَ اِھَانَتَکَ

“[Surely, I shall humiliate him who seeks to humiliate you], loomed over him and instead, he was found guilty of stealing a whole book. He lied and put his faith in false criticism and did not grasp the fact that it was without any merit whatsoever. Thus, he was guilty of three great sins. Is this not a miracle?” (A Gift for An-Nadwah, pp. 21-22 [English Translation of Tuhfatun-Nadwah])

Referring to the above mentioned extract of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, opponents suggest the he plagiarised more than three lines from Maqamat al-Hariri [The Assemblies of Al-Hariri] in his book, Ijaz-ul-Masih, and also copied from it in various other Arabic works of his. In their view, this is sufficient evidence that the Arabic writings of Promised Messiahas were not a miracle of God Almighty.

First of all, it is important to note that the words of the Promised Messiahas, “I did indeed reproduce them in my book [Ijaz-ul-Masih] but in the form of extracts or citations that cover no more than two or three lines,” mean that his work, Ijaz-ul-Masih, contains only a few proverbs and phrases of the Arabs which are also recorded in Maqamat al-Hariri.

The Promised Messiahas has used the said phrase as an idiom of Urdu language and it not at all carries the sense that he counted each and every line of the book, Ijaz-ul-Masih, which was related to Maqamat al-Hariri and came to the conclusion that there are exactly two or three lines from it. His words plainly mean that there were only a few examples of Maqamat al-Hariri in his book.

Similar phrases are present in the Holy Quran as well, which are used as idioms. For example, Allah the Almighty says:

مَنۡ کَانَ فِیۡ ہٰذِہٖۤ اَعۡمٰی فَہُوَ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ اَعۡمٰی

“Whoso is blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter” (Surah Bani Israil, Ch.17: V.73).

This verse does not mean that they are actually blind, but the blindness and foolishness of mind are being mentioned here.

At another place in the Holy Quran, God Almighty states:

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا وَ اسۡتَکۡبَرُوۡا عَنۡہَا لَا تُفَتَّحُ لَہُمۡ اَبۡوَابُ السَّمَآءِ وَ لَا یَدۡخُلُوۡنَ الۡجَنَّۃَ حَتّٰی یَلِجَ الۡجَمَلُ فِیۡ سَمِّ الۡخِیَاطِ ؕ وَ کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ

“Those who reject Our Signs and turn away from them with disdain, the gates of the spiritual firmament will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Heaven until a camel goes through the eye of a needle. And thus do We requite the offenders.” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.41)

A camel can certainly not pass through the eye of a needle. Hence, this expression has been used to describe the nearly impossible. The Promised Messiahas has also used the phrase, “two or three lines”, in the same way to indicate that only some sentences of Hariri are present in his book. We assure the readers that beyond any doubt, only a few phrases of Maqamat al-Hariri can be seen in the book, Ijaz-ul-Masih, by the Promised Messiahas.

On the other hand, the manner in which our opponents cite examples from the books of the Promised Messiahas, everyone’s work could be declared a copy of Maqamat al-Hariri or of any other book of Arabic for that matter. Even Maqamat al-Hariri itself would fall in the category of “stolen work”.

In fact, this allegation of plagiarism is raised against the Holy Quran as well, as there are certain phrases in the Holy Quran that are present in pre-Islamic Arabic literature.

The proverbs and sayings mentioned in Maqamat al-Hariri are from the Arabic language and are the same proverbs that the Arabs used in their daily conversation. Those phrases and sayings were not created by Hariri himself. In fact, Hariri has combined most of the Arabic proverbs and idioms in his work.

Thus, did Hariri write these phrases with the help of revelation? Where did Hariri get these proverbs from? Were they not used by the Arabs before Hariri wrote them? If the Arabs also used such phrases, did Hariri steal them from Arabs? If the Arab people did not use those words before the compilation of Maqamat al-Hariri, then how did the Arabs understand it?

Hence, Hariri has only created stories by collecting the proverbs and sayings that the Arabs used in their discourse.

As far as the question of plagiarism in the books of the Promised Messiahas is concerned, we will commence by shedding some light on the book Ijaz-ul-Masih, which has been mentioned in the excerpt presented at the outset.

The Promised Messiah’sas personal ink-pot, which he used to write many monumental works

The Promised Messiahas was born on 13 February 1835 and his book, Ijaz-ul-Masih, was published in 1901. His age was 66 at that time. The Promised Messiahas suffered from diabetes from the year 1883 and he also suffered from migraines. Throughout those years, Muslims and non-Muslims used to visit him daily. He would talk to them and respond to their objections as well. Throughout those years, Muslims and non-Muslims would visit him on a daily basis. He would talk to them and respond to their objections. Each day, he would receive many letters from friends and foes and would read them, or have them read out to him by his companions, and would write or dictate replies to these letters. Above all, Hazrat Ahmadas continued to produce extraordinary works of Arabic like Ijaz-ul-Masih, Minan-ur-Rahman, Al-Tabligh etc.

In fact, it is a miracle in itself for a person like Hazrat Ahmadas, who did not even acquire basic education of Arabic language, to write expressive and eloquent Arabic books throughout his life, despite the circumstances.

The Arabic book, Ijaz-ul-Masih, which contains a unique commentary of Surah al-Fatihah and spans over 200 pages, was written in response to the fraudulent deceptions of Pir Mehr Ali Shah. The Promised Messiahas challenged him on 15 December 1900 to a contest of writing an expressive commentary of Surah al-Fatihah in Arabic within 70 days. The Promised Messiahas completed his miraculous work, Ijaz-ul-Masih, within the fixed period of time and posted it to Pir Mehr Ali Shah on 23 February 1901. Pir Mehr Ali Shah remained silent and the words of Allah the Almighty recorded in the same book were fulfilled.

The Promised Messiahas said:

“For this book, I prayed that God, in His Majesty, make it a miracle for the Muslim clergy that no writer is able to produce a book equivalent to it and no one is given the ability to write such a book. My prayer was accepted and God gave me the good news, ‘We will stop it from heaven’; I then concluded that this was a hint that the enemy would be unable to produce a book like thereof.” (Ijaz-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, V. 18, p. 68)

The details of the artful and tricky behaviour of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Sahib of Golra Sharif to avoid the challenge of the Promised Messiahas have already been mentioned in a previous article of Responding to Allegations series, under the heading, “All prophets are rejected and questioned on their sanity – Part II”. Readers can easily understand from the article that the Promised Messiahas openly challenged Pir Mehr Ali Shah and the rest of the Arab and non-Arab religious and secular scholars to present a better book that Ijaz-ul-Masih, but nobody accepted it. If this book was a mere copy of other Arabic books, at least one person would have responded to the challenge of the Promised Messiahas. The challenge of the Promised Messiahas still stands.

If, according to the opponents, the Promised Messiahas wrote his Arabic books by stealing various phrases from Maqamat al-Hariri, then the opponents should write answers to all the Arabic books of Promised Messiahas and prove that the said miracle was false. Hence, the opponents are only interested in raising objections.

On the one hand, they raise objections on the usage of Arabic regarding the syntax and proverbs used, and when this isn’t an option, they allege that the Promised Messiahas copied the Arabic works of others.

Perhaps they should first decide what kind of narrative they want to push, before attacking the writings of the Promised Messiahas; this, at least, would be a consistent attempt.

Click here for Part II

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