Why the Latter-Day Messiah was named Isa Ibn-e-Maryam – Part II


Click here for Part I

M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam

Before the appearance of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, a common misconception crept into a number of early Muslims through Christians and the Muslims of recent times in particular that Isa Ibn-e-Maryam, i.e. Jesusas, son of Mary, would bodily descend from the skies to fulfil the prophecy of the Messiah that was foretold by the Holy Prophetsa.

The Promised Messiahas held the same view in the beginning, but when Allah the Almighty revealed to him that he was that Isa Ibn-e-Maryam who was being eagerly awaited by the people of the Latter Days, he left the preconceived notion and presented his claim before the world that God had appointed him as the Messiah.

Ruins of Bethsaida village in summer 2011 6
Ruins of the fishing village, Bethsaida (also known as Julias) mentioned in the New Testament. It is reported that Prophet Jesusas performed miracles just outside the ancient village of Bethsaida | Photo credit: Wiki Commons

The Promised Messiahas said:

“I had written in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya that Masih Ibn-e-Maryam would descend from Heaven; and later, I wrote that I myself am the Messiah who was to come. The reason for this contradiction was the same: God Almighty had named me Isa in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya and also informed me that God and His Messenger had prophesied my advent.

“But as a body of Muslims was firm in the belief – and I, too, held that same belief – that Hazrat Isa would descend from Heaven, I did not wish to take God’s revelation for its literal meaning, but interpreted this revelation and maintained my belief in consonance with that of the Muslims at large and published the same in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya.

“But afterwards, divine revelations regarding this descended like rain, affirming that I am, indeed, the Promised Messiah who was to come. Along with them [i.e. the divine revelations] appeared hundreds of Signs and both the Heaven and the earth arose to testify to my truthfulness. The bright Signs of God compelled me to realise that, indeed, I am the Messiah who was to come in the Latter Days. Otherwise, my belief was what I had set forth in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya.

“Moreover, not relying entirely upon it, I sought adjudication for my revelation from the Holy Quran. It was established by conclusive verses that Isa Ibn-e-Maryam had indeed died and the last Khalifa [vicegerent] would appear from among this very ummah under the title of the Promised Messiah. As no darkness remains after the dawn of day, in the same way, hundreds of Signs, heavenly testimonies, conclusive verses of the Holy Quran and definitive and explicit ahadith compelled me to accept that I am the Promised Messiah.” (The Philosophy of Divine Revelation, p. 183 [Translation of Haqiqatul Wahi])

Allah the Almighty not only told the Promised Messiahas that he was Isa Ibn-e-Maryam, but also drew his attention towards conclusive arguments present in the Holy Quran, ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa and old scriptures to shun irrational and strange ideas and beliefs entertained by the Muslims in particular and the followers of other religions regarding the coming of the Latter-Day Messiah or the saviour of the last age.

The Promised Messiahas said:

“The ‘descent’ or the ‘coming’ does not mean the coming of the Messiah, son of Mary; that actually it is a figure of speech signifying the coming of someone resembling the son of Mary; and that, in accordance with divine intimation and revelation, it is the present writer – my own humble self – to whom it applies.

“I am only too well aware that as soon as this view of mine, which is based on clear and definite revelation, is made public, many a hostile pen shall come alive and a public outcry full of horror and rejection will ensue …

“Let it be clear, that according to the Bible, our own books of ahadith and other records, only two Prophets are supposed to have physically ascended to the Heavens, namely Elijah, also known as Elias, and Messiah son of Mary, also known as Isa or Jesus.

“Concerning both these prophets, some books of the Old and New Testament say that they were raised to the Heavens and shall return to the earth sometime in the Latter Days and that people will actually witness their descent from the skies. The ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa also contain words to the same effect.

“Concerning Elias, whose Biblical name is Elijah, the Gospels positively declare that the prophecy of his descent from the skies has been fulfilled with the birth of Yahya or John, son of Zechariah. The Messiah son of Mary declares in unmistakable terms, ‘He is indeed the Elijah who was expected to come. Acknowledge him if you will.’ [Mathew 11:13-15 & 17:10-13]

“Through this arbitration by no less a person than a prophet of God, the case of Elijah, his ascension to the skies and subsequent descent has been effectively settled and the manner and meaning of the ‘Second Coming’ clearly determined. This, therefore, is the doctrine, consistent with the Gospels, to which Christians should unanimously subscribe, that Elijah, whose descent was awaited, did, in the time of the Messiah, return from the Heavens in the person of John who was born to Zechariah, with the temperament and qualities of Elijah …

“Concerning the descent of the Messiah, it is still claimed with great fervour that he will descend from the skies, clad in rich royal robes, accompanied by angels. The two camps have, however, failed to agree on the place in which he will actually touch down. Will it be Holy Mecca, a church in London or some royal Russian Cathedral?

“Were the Christians not waylaid by their holding fast to their hackneyed opinions, they could have realised, more readily than the Muslims, that the descent of the Messiah should take place in exact conformity with what has already been spelled out in such clear terms by Jesus Christ himself, for it is impossible for two similar scenarios to admit of contradictory interpretations. This is a point which deserves serious consideration by all serious-minded people …” (Elucidation of Objectives, pp. 1-5 [English translation of Taudih-e-Maram])

The Promised Messiahas further explained in the same book that Muslims and Christians believe that Prophet Jesusas was raised to the Heavens and granted Paradise. He then called their attention towards old scriptures and verse 49 of Surah al-Hijr of the Holy Quran, which clearly states that those who enter Paradise shall never be made to leave it:

وَّمَاھُمْ مِّنْھَا بِمُخْرَجِیْنَ

Then the Promised Messiahas said:

“Muslims and Christians are, therefore, under obligation to consider seriously if it is possible for a man of God like Jesus to enter Paradise and then be driven out? Wouldn’t it be contrary to the divine promise contained in all the Holy Scriptures with such frequency and detail, that those who enter Paradise will never be made to leave it. Would the breach of such a solemn and positive commitment not shatter the credibility of all Divine promises?

“Of a certainty, such a belief would not only unfairly place Jesus in an awkward position but indulging in such futile exercise would also be disrespectful and derogatory to God Himself. “The matter deserves a very keen and close study. Belief in a lesser doctrine of this kind, which can otherwise easily be explained as a metaphor, amounts to a virtual murder of cardinal religious verities. It is in fact a doctrine that is full of faults and is heir to a host of complex problems and difficulties. It provides the opponents with occasion for ridicule. As I have already mentioned elsewhere, the disbelievers of Mecca also wanted the Holy Prophetsa to perform this miracle, namely, that he should ascend to the skies before their very eyes and then come down. The reply they received was:

قُلْ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّیْ

[Say, “‘Holy is my Lord!’” (Surah Bani Israil, Ch.17: V.94)].

This means that it is against the wisdom and glory of God Almighty to show such palpably obvious miracles in this world of trials, and thus undermine the wisdom and value of belief in the unseen. Now I say to you: How is it possible that something, being against the divine law, should not be permissible for the Holy Prophetsa – who is the best of the Prophets – and be permissible for the Messiah. It amounts to rank disrespect that we, with respect to the Holy Prophetsa, regard a merit as impossible for him to have, and about the same merit we believe that it is possible for the Messiah to have it. Can a true believer be guilty of such insolence? …

“Now let us turn to our Holy Master and Mentor – the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, the Seal and Certificate of all Prophets. In order to single out the second Messiah from the first, the Holy Prophetsa did not merely announce that the former would be a Muslim by faith; that he would conduct himself in accordance with the Quranic Law; that he would pray and fast and carry out other Quranic injunctions like a Muslim; that he would be a born Muslim; that he wouldn’t bring any new Law; and that he would not claim to be an independent Prophet. In addition to all this, the Holy Prophetsa also disclosed that there would be a marked difference between the physical features of the two Messiahs …

“Let us pause for a moment and consider. Surely the distinguishing marks of the two Messiahs, as stated by the Holy Prophetsa, adequately assure us that the first and second Messiah are two entirely different persons. As for addressing each of them as “the son of Mary”, this is a metaphor which is as subtle as it is fine: it has been employed on account of the temperamental and spiritual affinity between the two Messiahs.” (Elucidation of Objectives, pp. 7-15)

The Promised Messiahas also delineated 16 of the very many similarities between him and Prophet Jesusas to substantiate that he was the divinely appointed Messiah and unquestionably, an embodiment of Isa Ibn-e-Maryam.

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The Promised Messiahas said:

“When God Almighty terminated the Mosaic dispensation, he instead established the Muhammadan dispensation as had been predicted in the old scriptures. The All-Wise and the All-Knowing God wished that there should be a complete resemblance between these two dispensations, both at the beginning and at the end.

“He first raised the Holy Prophetsa, as is mentioned in the Holy Quran: ‘We have sent to you a Messenger who is a witness over you, even as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh’ [Ch.73: V.16]. Moses had to take up the sword against the disbelievers. In the same way, the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, when he was driven out of Mecca and was then pursued to Medina, the Muslims also, in self-defence, took up the sword. Abu Jahl, the arch-enemy of the Holy Prophet and the Muslims, was destroyed before the eyes of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, exactly as Pharaoh, the arch-enemy of Moses, was destroyed before his eyes.

“There are many more similarities, which, for the sake of brevity, we do not mention. These were the similarities in the corresponding beginnings of the two dispensations. Also it was necessary that there should be a marked resemblance between the last successors of the Muhammadan dispensation and the last successor of the Mosaic dispensation, so that the similarity may be complete and may concur with the Word of God as stated above …

“The first similarity between the last two successors in the two dispensations is that the advent of both of them had been predicted. In Islam, there have been thousands of saints, yet none of them had come as the ‘Promised one’. But he who came as the ‘Like-of-Jesus’ was, no doubt, the Promised Messiah. Similarly, no other prophet but Prophet Jesus was the Messiah promised for the Jews.

“The second similarity is the loss of independence and political power. There is no doubt that the Muslims in India, like the Jews, prior to the birth of Jesus, had lost their independence on account of their many wicked ways. The British had been firmly established in India before the birth of the last Messiah.

“The third similarity is that at the time of the advent of the first Messiah, the Jews had become divided into several sects and, therefore, stood in need of an arbiter for them. In the same way the Muslims, at the advent of the last Messiah, are divided into many sects.

“The fourth point is that the first Messiah was not commanded to wage wars for the sake of faith. In the same way, the last Messiah has not been commanded to take up the sword …

“The fifth point worth considering is that during the ministry of the first Messiah, the Jews had become morally corrupt: especially those of the priestly class had become exceedingly greedy and immoral. Jealousy and avarice prevailed over the whole nation and everyone hankered after material gains all the time. In the same way, the people of our time – the time of the Promised Messiah – especially Muslim priests and Mullahs – have gone mad after worldly pursuits. This is a patent fact which needs no further elucidation.

“The sixth point of similarity is that Jesus appeared during the reign of a Caesar – a foreign ruler. The Promised Messiah of Islam also shares this characteristic. He also lives under the rule of a foreign emperor who is far superior to the one that ruled during the time of the Messiah of the Jews …

“The seventh point in this connection is that the Christian faith eventually succeeded in winning over the Romans. In this respect there is a similarity with my time also, because I find that people in Europe and America are showing considerable interest in my claim and the way of my reasoning. They have, of their own accord, published my claim in hundreds of newspapers with favourable comments which could hardly be expected from the pens of Christians …

“Another characteristic of Jesus was that a certain star had appeared at the time of his advent. This characteristic is equally shared by me because the very same star that had appeared in his time has again appeared in my time also. This is what has been verified in the English newspapers from which it could be concluded that the time is now ripe for the second advent of the Promised Messiah.

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The Holy Quran, the only religious scripture that claims to have the complete law and guidance from God Almighty

“The ninth characteristic of Jesus was the eclipse of the sun that was seen when he was crucified on the cross. I also share this characteristic. When people rejected my claim, God manifested His Sign in my support not only causing the sun to eclipse but also caused the eclipse of the moon. Both these signs occurred during the month of Ramadhan. This did not only happen once but occurred twice as is mentioned in the traditions. These two eclipses are mentioned in the Gospels as well as in the Holy Quran. This prediction is also mentioned in Dar Qutni, an authentic book of the sayings of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

“The tenth characteristic common between us is the occurrence of the epidemic of plague. Because of the persecutions of the Jews, it became rampant in the time of Jesus and for the same reason, it has spread in my time as well.

“The eleventh characteristic common to both of us is that the divines and the elders left no stone un-turned in denouncing Jesus as a hard-core renegade for which reason a false case was framed against him and he was taken to the court hoping that he would be condemned there to death. An identical case was also fabricated against me of conspiracy to murder. An effort was also made to prove me a rebel against the government. This was the case in which Maulvi Abu Saeed Muhammad Hussain of Batala appeared as a witness against me.

“The twelfth point is that a robber was also hanged on the cross along with Jesus; on the day I was acquitted of the false charge of conspiracy to murder, regarding which I had informed in advance hundreds of men on the basis of revelation, a Christian was also brought before the same magistrate. He was a member of the Salvation Army and had misappropriated some money. He was given three months imprisonment – he was not sentenced to death like the robber who was hanged along the side of Jesus and died.

“The thirteenth resemblance between Jesus and me is that when Jesus was brought before the governor and was prosecuted for capital punishment, the governor declared that he could not see any fault in the accused. Similarly, Captain Douglas, the District Magistrate, on my asking him a question, had replied that he was not accusing me of any guilt. In my opinion, Captain Douglas outshines Pilate in imparting judgment fearlessly and in showing determination and steadfastness.

“The fourteenth resemblance was that since Jesus had no father, he was, strictly speaking, not an Israelite. Despite this drawback, he was the last prophet for the Children of Israel and of the Mosaic dispensation. He was born in the fourteenth century after Moses. In the same way, I do not belong to the Quraish and have been raised in the fourteenth century of Islam and, like Jesus, I am the Promised Messiah of the Muslims.

“The fifteenth characteristic is that by the time Jesus appeared, great strides had been made in the progress of civilisation. Good roads had begun to be constructed; an efficient defence system had come into being and very many improvements had been made in the organisation and training of the armies. Means of travel were vastly improved and to ensure the comfort of travellers, rest-houses had become common. Also the judiciary had been reformed. Similarly, there has been much progress and outstanding developments in our time in these fields. For example, a new means of travel, the railways, has been invented, the prediction for which is found in the Holy Quran and the reader can easily call to mind various other inventions.

“The sixteenth characteristic of Jesus was that, being born without a father, he was like Adam. Similarly, I have a resemblance of a sort with him: according to what Mohyuddin ibn Arabi has mentioned about the Final Successor to be of Mongol origin and to be born the second of twins, a girl being born first, I was born exactly the same way on a Friday. It is not known how Ibn Arabi got hold of this Sign, but it has come to pass. These are the 16 similarities between me and Jesus. They show that the hand of God was working in all this phenomenon. If it had been a man-made project, so many similarities between Jesus and me could not have been found.” (The Narrative of Two Martyrdoms, [English translation of Tadhkira-tul-Shahadatain, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, pp. 30-35)

Hence, the Promised Messiahas did not invent this idea that he was Isa Ibn-e-Maryam. It was an open secret which remain hidden in plain sight for centuries and was then revealed to the Messiah of the age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, according to the prophecies mentioned in the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa. The Promised Messiahas says:

“Bear in mind that prophets carry another name in the Heavens and common people are not even familiar with it. At times, when that heavenly name appears before the world, people misapprehend it. For example, in my case, God Almighty also named me Masih Ibn-e-Maryam and people who lack knowledge objected to it that ‘your name is Ghulam Ahmad’. They cannot understand this secret. This is one of the hidden secrets of prophethood.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, p. 364)

(Research support by Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam)

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