Opponents level an allegation against the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian as to why he permitted his community to use other remedies against the plague, while prohibiting his community from taking the prescribed inoculation for the plague.
By raising this objection, opponents suggest that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat was not directed by any revelation of God to take such measures.
The opponents point out an extract of the Promised Messiahas in relation to the above allegation. Below is the actual statement of the Promised Messiahas in this regard:
“A person raised a question that certain people say, ‘When [the plague] vaccine is not an option and Allah Almighty has promised protection [against the plague], then why is it prescribed to use marham-e-Isa [Ointment of Jesusas] and habb-e-jadwar [a herbal medicine]?’”
To this, the Promised Messiahas replied:
“The remedy which has been told by Allah Almighty is part of that protection because, along with [the promise], He Himself indicated [these medicines] as a means for safeguarding. We can use them with an open mind. However, if there was any benefit in taking the inoculation, we would have been directed [by God] in this regard and then [the people] would have witnessed that we were the first ones to take it. If God Almighty reveals today that a certain remedy or medicine is beneficial, then should we not use it? [We will use it] as it will be a sign … If we take the inoculation against the plague like the general public, then [it shows that we] do not have faith in God … God would have revealed upon me if there had been any benefit in the inoculation [for plague] and in that case, I would have been the first one to receive the vaccine, but when the government has given the choice, then in fact God Almighty has given us this option and lifted the compulsion…
“Our Jamaat must not adhere to mere verbal claims alone and should not be satisfied on simply taking the pledge of Bai‘at. Instead, they should bring a [positive] change in themselves. Ponder over the fact that the army of Mosesas was affected by the outbreak of plague on various occasions. The enemies must have rejoiced, but Mosesas would have been deeply affected by the situation. It is written [in the books of history] that the epidemic claimed 80,000 lives due to the curse of Balam. Although many others were sinful as well, but the followers of Mosesas were dually responsible. Very few people purify their hearts…”
“We do not deny the efficacy of medicines … However, if those people are killed who take the inoculation [for plague] and you [the members of Jamaat] also die, then there is no difference. Therefore, [spiritual] transformation is required.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, pp. 68-72)
The above-mentioned statement of the Promised Messiahas elucidates that God Almighty had only indicated to refrain from taking the inoculation of plague. Moreover, the Promised Messiahas laid much emphasis on spiritual reformation as the real remedy against the plague instead of falling into the discussion of worldly cure.
The opponents highlight another extract of the Promised Messiahas and allege that he considered the act of certain rich persons of Lahore who opted to take the inoculation for the plague to be a negligence. Moreover, the opponents conclude from the statement of the Promised Messiahas that he mentioned the account of wealthy people to demonstrate that it was only them who agreed to take the plague vaccine in order to please the government whereas the general public rejected it.
Below is the complete statement of the Promised Messiahas which significantly clarifies the above allegation:
“The act of certain respectable landlords who have agreed to take the inoculation [for plague] does not show their bravery, but in fact, this intrepidity is to please and assist the government. Thus far, it will be considered that our Jamaat is going against the government. Pressing priority should be given to the realisation of God. All matters come after God as we have already mentioned that salvation is possible through [true] faith.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 78)
The above extract simply addresses the act of certain respectable landlords of Lahore with respect to the plague vaccine. By no means does it conclude that the general public rejected the inoculation for the plague.
The opponents have falsely assumed from the statement that the Promised Messiahas, by mentioning the upper class to have opted for the plague vaccine, meant that the rest of the people did not take it.
The statement of the Promised Messiahas is quite clear, and deducing any meaning that is not even hinted is irrational and absurd. For instance, if someone prays:
اِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمَ
“[O Allah] guide us on the right path” (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch.1: V.6), in view of the opponents, this means that God should guide us on the right path but lead others astray. However, a sensible person can never derive such a meaning from the verse.
Moreover, there are various statements of the Promised Messiahas which openly express that the general public was inclined to take the inoculation for the plague. For instance, the Promised Messiahas states:
“If we take the inoculation against the plague like the general public, then [it shows that we] do not have faith in God.”(Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 78-79)
Apart from that, the opponents have deceivingly refrained from mentioning the next few lines following the extract under discussion. It is stated in Malfuzat that the Promised Messaihas said regarding the inhabitants of Qadian who opted for inoculation of plague:
“It is in our favour [that some people have taken the inoculation] because sinful and impious people are also present and the vaccine is an apparent means [of cure]. When these people believe in their assumptions [i.e. inoculation], then why should we not believe in our faith?” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 78-79)
Hence, it is evident from the statement of the Promised Messiahas that some of the people decided to take the plague vaccine, which quite clearly shatters the objection of the opponents.
The opponents highlight another extract of Malfuzat, dated 5 November 1902, which indicates that the Promised Messiahas was informed about the cessation of plague inoculation in district Gujranwala and Gurdaspur by the then government. By presenting this excerpt, opponents suggest that the news of cessation led Hazrat Ahmadas to prohibit his community from taking the plague vaccine.
It should be noted in the first place that the news specifies the cessation of vaccine in only two districts and not the entire subcontinent. Moreover, examining the medical history of the subcontinent, we find from reliable books of medicine that the procedure of plague vaccination was carried out even after the year 1903. For instance, Khan Bahadur NH Choksy reports some figures of various private practitioners of the subcontinent in his book, Serum-Therapy of Plague in India: A Record of Work Brought up to Date (1907). He states that 1,408 people received the plague vaccine during the course of the years 1904 to 1907. There were 751 deaths and the mortality ratio was 53.3%. (Khan Bahadur NH Choksy, Serum-Therapy of Plague in India: A Record of Work Brought up to Date, pp. 49-52)
The reference cited above signifies that the process of plague inoculation continued even after 5 November 1902 till 1907. All those statements presented by the opponents which show that the Promised Messiahas was not satisfied with the efficacy of the plague vaccine were given after the publication of the book Noah’s Ark on 5 October 1902. Moreover, we have proved with sufficient evidence in a previous article of Responding to Allegations (Prophecies of the Promised Messiahas – Part XIX) that the announcement made by the Promised Messiahas indicating the refusal of plague inoculation published in Noah’s Ark was based on a revelation of Allah Almighty that he received two or three months earlier.
Lastly, we present those extracts of the book, Noah’s Ark, which clearly show that the Promised Messiahas was not informed about the harmful effects of the plague inoculation and that he did not criticise its efficacy while he was writing those lines and it was only God Almighty Whose hand was at work. The Promised Messiahas states:
“There can be no doubt that until now inoculation is by far the best physical remedy that the government has found, and there is no denying that this remedy has proven to be effective. It is the duty of all subjects to make use of the means that are available to them so that they may relieve the government of the pain it feels for them. This notwithstanding, we must say to this kind government with all due respect that had there not been a heavenly prohibition for us, we would have been the first among its subjects to be inoculated.” (Noah’s Ark, p. 2)
The Promised Messiahas further states:
“I consider it a sin to throw doubt on this sign by recourse to inoculation, for it is a sign, which God, for our sake, wishes to demonstrate clearly in the world. I dare not demean His true sign and His true promise by resorting to inoculation. If I did, I would be accountable for the sin of not believing in the promise that God has given to me. If I was to benefit from the inoculation, then I should be grateful to the doctor who invented the vaccine and not to God Who promised me that He would protect everyone dwelling in this house.” (Noah’s Ark, p. 5)
The Promised Messiahas then states:
“It should also be kept in mind that on account of this divine promise, it is necessary for me to eschew any human contingencies, lest our enemies attribute this divine sign to other agencies. However, in addition to this, should God Almighty Himself disclose any other means or remedy to me through His word, then such means or remedy would not contravene this sign, for they emanate from God Who has manifested this sign.” (Noah’s Ark, p. 8)
(Research conducted by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah. Translated by Al Hakam)