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

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Last Updated on 11th December 2020

Click here for Part I

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, peace be upon him, has also addressed this issue of plagiarism because it was raised by his opponents during his time too. The Promised Messiahas said:

“Alas, they were not at all ashamed to raise this allegation. They did not think that there is no question of objection if these few, i.e. two or four sentences, are taken as coincidences, as is the case in the writings of literary scholars, or if they are considered as a few sentences taken as quotations. Even Hariri has cited some verses of the Holy Quran in his book, [Maqamat al-Hariri]. Likewise, there are some excerpts and verses [of various authors and poets which are quoted] that are exactly the same and without any change and some unaltered phrases of Abul Fazl Badi-ul-Zaman are also present in it.

“Hence, should we now express the opinion that the entire work of Maqamat al-Hariri is a mere collection of plagiarism? In fact, some have even criticised Abu al-Qasim Hariri to the extent that his entire book was compiled by someone else and some say that as he was considered perfect in the art of prose writing.

“He was once presented before an amir [ruler] and ordered to write an expression in eloquent Arabic as an examination, but he could not write it and that caused him great embarrassment. Nonetheless, he was counted among the greats by the literary writers and his Maqamat al-Hariri is held in high esteem. However, it is of no use for religious or insightful work because Hariri could not find the ability to write a true and actual tale or the extraordinary words of wisdom and knowledge in the form of an eloquent and expressive composition and prove that he could make use of precise words according to his ideas. On the contrary, he has subdued his ideas according to the words from the beginning to the end, which proves that he was not at all capable of writing an account of an actual event in eloquent Arabic.

“Thus, it is impossible for a person [i.e. the Promised Messiahas], who is only interested in [conveying] divine ideas and his objective is to spread the insightful pearls of wisdom and knowledge, to get any kernel from Hariri’s collection of bones.

“However, it is entirely another matter that under divine providence, some phrases of a person’s work coincidently correspond with someone else’s, because the scope of some proverbs is so limited that either certain writers will coincide with some others or they will have to leave that idiom which is used conventionally. Beyond any doubt, a place where a certain word is to be adopted keeping in view the qualities of eloquence, for example, the word اقتحم is to be adopted, and no other word can take its place, then it will definitely be used by all the writers and the same word will come out of everyone’s mouth. Surely, an ignorant fool, who is oblivious to rhetorical methods and unfamiliar with diverse details of root words, will say another word in its stead and will be objectionable in the eyes of the literary writers.

“Likewise, authors get into another coincidental situation that even if 20 people write about a certain subject, who are all scholars and impressive writers, they will rely on the same phrases and arrangement of words to express certain statements. These things are openly recognised by the literary writers and no one disagrees with them. Moreover, if someone examines carefully, the same is the case with every language. For instance, if an articulate person gives a speech in Urdu, he presents various examples and interesting phrases at some point. Thereafter, another impressive orator also delivers a very similar [yet very different speech] and no one, except a mad man, thinks that it is plagiarism. Let alone the works of man, this is also found in the Word of God. A long list would have to be prepared if some eloquent phrases and proverbs, which are present in the Holy Quran, are tallied with the poems of the poets of pre-Islamic era. These matters were not considered as objections by the researchers. In fact, for this very reason, the righteous imams had memorised thousands of poems of pre-Islamic poets and they used to quote them as a proof to show the eloquence and expressiveness of the Holy Quran.” (Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, p. 432-434)

The Promised Messiahas further explained that it is utterly baseless to compare the works of other people with a chosen one of Allah, who receives divine revelations and countless Arabic phrases, which put into his heart by God Almighty. He emphasised that their works can only be compared with his if they present equally eloquent and impressive works. However, nobody competed with him in this challenge.

The Promised Messiahas also presented a detailed description of the way in which he received the blessings of Allah the Almighty during his Arabic writing. The Promised Messiahas said:

“I particularly experience God’s miraculous power when I put my pen to paper. Whenever I write something in Arabic or Urdu, I feel as if someone is instructing me from within. My writings, whether in Arabic, Urdu or Persian, are of two kinds. (i) Words and their meanings keep unfolding before me and I go on writing them without too much difficulty. This type of writing is not something beyond my own mental capacity and even if I was not accompanied by special divine support, I could still be able to write it with the help of His grace – which is a necessary accompaniment of human faculties – though after expending a great deal of time. God knows best.

“(ii) The second part of my writings is completely miraculous in nature. For instance, when I write something in Arabic and require a word that I do not know, divine revelation guides me and the Holy Spirit puts that word in my heart in the form of verbal revelation and causes it to flow over my tongue, and for an instant I am cut off from the outer world. For instance, once when I was writing in Arabic, I required a word that would be the exact translation of ‘a large family’. I did not know the word but I needed it in that piece of writing. Then, all of a sudden, the word ضفف (dafaf), which means ‘a large family’, was put into my heart in the form of verbal revelation. On another occasion, I needed a word that would convey the sense of ‘becoming speechless due to grief or anger’, but I did not know it. All at once, I received the revelation: وجوم (wujum).

“The same thing happens with regard to other sentences in Arabic. During the course of writing Arabic, hundreds of complete sentences descend upon my heart, either in the form of verbal revelation or in the form of a writing on a piece of paper which is shown to me by an angel. Some of these sentences are verses of the Holy Quran, or similar to them with minor modification.

“Sometimes I only find out later that a certain Arabic sentence that had been revealed to me by God was in fact present in a certain book. God, being the Lord of everything, has the authority to reveal to my heart a fine sentence from some book, or an exquisite verse from some book of poetry.

Maqamat al-Hariri by Muhammad al-Qasim ibn Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Uthman al-Hariri | Wiki Commons

“This much explanation is for the Arabic, but even more surprising is the fact that I receive revelations in languages like English, Sanskrit or Hebrew, with which I have no familiarity whatsoever. Some specimens of these [revelations] were included in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. God, in Whose hand is my life, is my witness that this is how He has been dealing with me. This is one of the signs pertaining to matters of the unseen that continue to be revealed to me in various forms.

“My God cares not if any phrase that is revealed to me happens to be present in some Arabic, Sanskrit or English book, because for me it is a matter of the unseen. For instance, God Almighty has related many episodes from the Torah in the Holy Quran, and has included them in the category of the unseen, because they were unseen for the Holy Prophetsa, though not for the Jews. Hence, this is why I challenge the whole world to compete with me in writing a miraculous exegesis of the Holy Quran in eloquent Arabic. Otherwise what is a mere mortal man and what power does a son of Adam have to arrogantly challenge the whole world?” (Essence of Islam, Vol. 5, pp. 156-158, [Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 18, pp. 434-436])

The objections that are raised by opponents against the Promised Messiahas were levelled in the past as well. The identical attitude of the enemies of Islam towards the Holy Prophetsa is mentioned in the Holy Quran. Allah the Almighty says:

قَالُوۡا مِثۡلَ مَا قَالَ الۡاَوَّلُوۡنَ

“They say like what the former people said.” (Surah al-Muminun, Ch.23: V.82)

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

کَذٰلِکَ قَالَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہِمۡ مِّثۡلَ قَوۡلِہِمۡ ؕ تَشَابَہَتۡ قُلُوۡبُہُمۡ

“Likewise said those before them similar to their saying. Their hearts are alike.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.119)

Abdullah bin Abi Sarah, a katib-e-wahi [a scribe who would write down revelations], became an apostate and left Mecca because of a similar objection and misunderstanding. Once, when the Holy Prophetsa was dictating verses 14 and 15 of Surah Al-Muminun to him, the Holy Prophetsa reached the verse:

ثُمَّ اَنۡشَاۡنٰہُ خَلۡقًا اٰخَرَ

Abdullah bin Abi Sarah, spontaneously said:

فَتَبٰرَکَ اللّٰہُ اَحۡسَنُ الۡخٰلِقِیۡنَ

The Holy Prophetsa told him to write it down as it was exactly the verse that was revealed to him. Abdullah bin Abi Sarah, not realising that the verse he recited was in fact a natural sequence in relation to the previous verses, inferred that just as the Holy Prophetsa had considered his uttered words as divine revelation, the Holy Prophetsa was (God forbid) fabricating the entire text of the Quran.

Similar allegations have been raised by ignorant Christians against the divine word of God, the Holy Quran. They submit that the verses of the Holy Quran have been taken from the poems of the poets of pre-Islamic era.

A Christian, Rev William St Clair Tisdall, wrote a book in Persian language, which was translated into English by William Muir and published under the title, The Sources of Islam. In this book, he objects:

“It is interesting also to note that some verses of the Quran have without doubt been taken from poems anterior to Muhammad’s assumption of the prophetic office, in proof of which two passages in the Sabaa Moallaqat of Imraul Cays etc. are quoted, in which several verses of the Quran occur, such as, ‘The hour has come, and shattered is the moon.’

“It was the custom of the time for poets and orators to hang up their compositions upon the Kaaba; and we know the Seven Moallaqat were so exposed. We are told that Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter, was one day repeating as she went along, the above verse. Just then she met the daughter of Imraul Cays, who cried out:

‘O that’s what your father has taken from one of my father’s poems, and calls it something that has come down to him out of heaven’; and the story is commonly told amongst the Arabs until now.

“The connection between the poetry of Imraul Cays and the Quran is so obvious that the Muslim cannot but hold that they existed with the latter in the Heavenly Table from all eternity! What then will he answer? That the words were taken from the Qur’an and entered in the poem, – an impossibility. Or that their writer was not really Imraul Cays, but some other who, after the appearance of the Quran, had the audacity to quote them there as they now appear; – rather a difficult thing to prove!” (The Sources of Islam, pp. 9-10)

Apart from the above mentioned verse of the Holy Quran presented by William Muir, the opponents of Islam present some other verses of the Holy Quran, which in their view, were plagiarised from the poems of the pre-Islamic poets. Below are some examples:

Allah the Almighty states:

وَ عَلَی اللّٰہِ قَصۡدُ السَّبِیۡلِ وَ مِنۡہَا جَآئِرٌ

“And upon Allah rests the showing of the right way and there are ways which deviate from the right course.” (Surah al-Nahl, Ch.16: V.10)

The opponents say that the above verse was plagiarised from the following couplet of Imraul Qais:

ومن الطریقۃ جائر و ھدی

قصد السبیل و منہ ذو دخل

“Among the very many ways, one way is that of oppression and the other is of guidance. There is also a way of moderation and yet another way is that of violence.” (Diwan Imraul Qais, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut [2004], p. 131)

God Almighty states:

وَ مَا یُبۡدِئُ الۡبَاطِلُ وَ مَا یُعِیۡدُ

“And falsehood could neither originate any good nor reproduce it.” (Surah Saba, Ch.34: V.50)

Ibn al-Abras said:

اقفر من اھلہ عبید

فالیوم لا یبدی ولا یعید

“Obaid parted from his family, so today he will not present any couplet at anyone’s request nor will he return after today.” (Ash-Sher wa ash-Shuara li Ibn Qutaybah, p. 95)

Allah the Almighty says:

اِنَّ عَذَابَہَا کَانَ غَرَامًا

“Surely, the punishment thereof is a lasting torment.” (Surah al-Furqan, Ch.25: V.66)

Abi Khazim said:

و یوم النسار و یوم الجفا

ر،کانا عذابا و کانا غراما

“There was torment and destruction in both of these two days during the Arabs’ war era.” (Diwan Bishr bin Abi Khazim al-Asadi, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Arabi, Beirut [1994], p. 135)

God Almighty states:

خَلَقَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ صَلۡصَالٍ کَالۡفَخَّارِ

“He created man from dry ringing clay which is like baked pottery.” (Surah al-Rahman, Ch.55: V.15)

Umayyah bin Abi as-Salt said:

کیف الجحود و انما خلق الفتی

من طین صلصال لہ فخار

“How can a stubborn denial be possible when man is created from ringing clay? For which there is also the sound of ringing.” (Diwan Umayyah bin as-Salt, Dar Sadir, Beirut [1998], p. 82)

Allah the Almighty says:

مَنۡ یُّحۡیِ الۡعِظَامَ وَہِیَ رَمِیۡمٌ 

“Who can quicken the bones when they are decayed?” (Surah Ya Sin, Ch.36: V.79)

Zuhayr bin Abi Sulma said:

سیحیی العظام وھی رمیم

“Soon he will revive the bones, even though they are rotten.” (Al-Milal wa al-Nihal, Bab as-Salis, Vol. 3, p. 88)

God Almighty states:

قُلۡ ھُوَ اللّٰہُ اَحَدٌ۔ اَللّٰہُ الصَّمَدُ۔ لَمۡ یَلِدۡ وَ لَمۡ یُوۡلَدۡ

“Say, ‘He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Independent and Besought of all. He begets not, nor is He begotten.” (Surah al-Ikhlas, Ch.112: V.2-4)

Qas Ibn Saidah said:

کلا بل ھو اللّٰہ احد

لیس بمولود ولا والد

“Surely, He is Allah, the One. He has not been created nor has He given birth to anyone.” (Al-Milal wa al-Nihal, Bab as- Salis, Vol. 3, p. 86)

Allah the Almighty says:

اِقۡتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَۃُ وَانۡشَقَّ الۡقَمَرُ

“The Hour has drawn nigh, and the moon is rent asunder.” (Surah al-Qamar, Ch.54: V.2)

_suhaib_a | Instagram

Imraul Qais said:

دنت الساعۃ وانشق القمر

عن غزال صادونفر

“That special hour approached and the moon rent asunder because of that deerlike beloved, whose existence has taken hold of my heart and has now run away.” (Faiz al-Qadir Sharah al-Jami al-Saghir, Vol. 2, p. 187)

God Almighty states:

اِذَا زُلۡزِلَتِ الۡاَرۡضُ زِلۡزَالَہَا۔ وَاَخۡرَجَتِ الۡاَرۡضُ اَثۡقَالَہَا

“When the earth is shaken with her violent shaking, and the earth brings forth her burdens.” (Surah az-Zilzal, Ch.99: V.2-3)

Imraul Qais said:

اذا زلزلت الارض زلزالھا

واخرجت الارض اثقالھا

“When the earth will be shaken fully and it will bring forth its loads.” (Faiz al-Qadir Sharah al-Jami al-Saghir, Vol. 2, p. 187)

Allah the Almighty says:

فَتَعَاطٰی فَعَقَرَ

“And he seized a sword and hamstrung her.” (Surah al-Qamar, Ch.54: V.30)

فَکَانُوۡا کَہَشِیۡمِ الۡمُحۡتَظِرِ 

“And they became like the dry stubble, trampled upon.” (Surah al-Qamar, Ch.54: V.32)

There are some examples in Mausuah Abbas. It is stated:

مر یوم العید فی زینتہ

فرمانی تعاطی فعقر

بسھام من لحاظ فاتک

فترکنی کہشیم المحتظر

“The day of Eid appeared outside with all its glory and it shot me with a killer look. Hence, that day seized me and hamstrung me. In the end, it left me like a dry stubble, trampled upon.” (Mausuah Abbas, Tawhid wa al-Anbiya, Vol. 1, p. 795)

God Almighty states:

وَھُمۡ مِّنۡ کُلِّ حَدَبٍ یَّنۡسِلُوۡنَ

“And they shall hasten forth from every height.” (Surah al-Anbiya, Ch.21: V.97)

لِمِثۡلِ ھٰذَا فَلۡیَعۡمَلِ الۡعٰمِلُوۡنَ

“For the like of this, then, let the workers work.” (Surah as-Saffat, Ch.37: V.62)

The following couplets are also present in Mausuah Abbas:

اقبل العشاق من خلفہ

کانھم من حدب ینسلون

وجاء یوم العید فی زینۃ

لمثل ذا فلیعمل العاملون

“The admirers immediately came from behind it. They looked as though they came running fast from a high place. The day of Eid came with its pomp and show. The workers should do the same as the day reminds them to.” (Mausuah Abbas, Tawhid wa al-Anbiya, Vol. 1, p. 795)

Hence, if the opponents of Islam can raise allegations of plagiarism against the Holy Quran, which is the perfect and flawless scripture of Allah the Almighty, then we can expect anything from the enemies of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Islam because their hearts are alike.

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