Zikr-e-Habib: A beloved remembered – Fondness for knowledge and research


    This series, Zikr-e-Habib, explores the life Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, and his sayings, shedding light on his noble character and the impact of his teachings on his followers and the world at large.

    M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
    Qadian 1
    An old view of Qadian

    In the Latter Days, as prophesied by God Almighty and His greatest Messenger, Prophet Muhammadsa, a Messiah was to appear in the letter and spirit of Jesusas to enlighten mankind and revive faith.

    Thus, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, was appointed by Allah the Almighty at the head of the 14th century Hijrah and he distributed “الْمَالُ حَتَّى لَا يَقْبَلَہُ أَحَدٌ” i.e., the wealth (of knowledge and wisdom) in such abundance that nobody (was left to) accept it. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Ahadith al-Anbiya, Hadith 3448)

    Regarding the early education of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra MA writes:

    “There existed no school, college, or educational institution in those days [in Qadian], and knowledge was generally at a discount. But as Ahmadas belonged to a noble family, his father engaged a tutor for him when he was six or seven years of age, i.e., about 1841. The name of the tutor was Fazl Ilahi. He was a resident of Qadian, belonged to the Hanafi school, and taught his pupil the Holy Quran and a few elementary Persian books.

    “About 1845, when Ahmadas was about ten, another tutor was employed. His name was Fazl Ahmad. He came from Ferozewala, district Gujranwala, and belonged to the Ahl-e-Hadith school. His son, Mubarak Ali of Sialkot, became a follower of Ahmadas. He was a good and pious man and worked hard with his pupil. He instructed Ahmadas in the elements of Arabic grammar.

    “When Ahmadas reached the age of 17 or 18, a Shia named Gul Ali Shah of Batala was appointed his tutor, and Ahmadas learnt more of Arabic grammar and something of logic from him. This method of instruction was in accord with the routine followed in those days. In addition to this, Ahmad’sas father, being an experienced physician, instructed him in the rudiments of medicine.

    “But learning was altogether at a discount. Ignorance reigned supreme. It was really an age of darkness, and people paid little attention to education. The Sikhs did not encourage learning, and the country was in a state of chaos. It should not, therefore, be supposed that Ahmadas had a good or liberal education. Compared with the standard of modern education, his teachers themselves did not know much. His fellow students are known as men of very mediocre attainments; and, as a matter of fact, the education of those days consisted merely of the reading of Urdu, Persian, and Arabic, and the ability to speak and write Persian.

    “There were no facilities whatsoever for the acquisition of higher education. That which distinguished Ahmadas from other students and from other members of his family was, however, that he was fond of studying. He was so fond of his father’s library that many a time his father had to remonstrate with him, fearing that he might injure his health. The father was anxious to wean him from studious habits and to see him engaged in assisting him in his worldly affairs. A good deal of his time, however, was spent in the mosque, reading the Holy Quran.” (Life of Ahmadas, pp. 35-7)

    At a very young age, Prophet Ahmadas was devoted to the deep study of the Holy Quran, so much so that after his working hours in Sialkot, “Once, people became curious as to why Ahmadas shut himself in a room every day. They were, however, profoundly impressed when they discovered him sitting on his prayer carpet with the Holy Quran in his hand, imploring God to grant him understanding of it.” (Ibid., p. 53)

    Undoubtedly, the Holy Quran was the most studied book by Prophet Ahmadas. Hazrat Mirza Sultan Ahmad narrates that the Promised Messiahas must have read the Holy Quran more than 10 thousand times. (Hayat-e-Ahmad, Vol. 1, pp. 172-3)

    The Holy Quran thus formed the basis of Prophet Ahmad’sas quest for knowledge and research. Consequently, God Almighty blessed him with such knowledge and wisdom that even his opponents could not help but praise and acknowledge his work.

    In one of the biographies of Prophet Ahmadas, Iain Adamson records the following testimony of a non-Ahmadi Muslim scholar:

    “His study of the Holy Quran, his deep reflection over the eternal verities, his complete reliance on the grace and bounty of God, and his experience of communion with Him had already equipped him with the qualities of an effective champion of Islam. Under a divinely inspired urge, he was moved to embark on a project that would not only help safeguard Islam against hostile attacks but would clearly and demonstrably establish its superiority over all other faiths. He resolved to set forth the excellencies of Islam in a monumental work, which he designated Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya.” (Ahmad[as], The Guided One, p. 61)

    Highlighting the Promised Messiah’sas fondness for research, Iain Adamson states:

    “The compilation and composition of this monumental work [of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya] was a tremendous undertaking. Ahmad[as] had access to the family library, which, though it had been destroyed during the Sikh invasion, had now been restored to a respectable size. He himself had his library, but that was all. Nor was there easy access to facilities outside Qadian.

    “It was now that the years of study, pondering the exact meaning of each verse [of the Holy Quran] came to fruition.” (Ibid.)

    Regarding the remarkable feat of writing Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Hazrat Chaudhary Sir Zafrulla Khanra said:

    “The author [Prophet Ahmadas] was a profound scholar of Islam and of comparative religion and already enjoyed the experience of communion with the Divine. He was a constant recipient of revelation. He also had access to the family library, which, despite its destruction by the Sikhs during the time of his grandfather, had been restored to a considerable size. But these were the only facilities available to him.

    “Qadian was situated 11 miles from the nearest railway station and telegraph office. It boasted few amenities. The nearest printing press was situated at Amritsar, a matter of 35 miles from Qadian. There was no one in Qadian who could have in any way assisted the author in the writing and production of this great work.

    “He wrote out the manuscript by hand, and when the time came for committing it to the printing press, he himself took it to Amritsar. This involved a journey on a dirt track studded with potholes, which was easier to traverse on foot than by means of one of the uncomfortable and perilous spring-less horse-drawn contraptions that were occasionally available. This was followed by a railway journey of 24 miles.

    “The book was thus conceived, written, and published entirely through the efforts of a single individual, assisted only by the Grace and Bounty of the Divine.” (Ibid., pp. 75-6)

    Apart from his personal interest in seeking knowledge, the Promised Messiahas strived to spread it, guiding mankind with his divine wisdom and helping them increase their intellectual and spiritual powers. Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra MA writes:

    “[Prophet] Ahmadas devoted most of his time to study, and the books that he studied most were the Holy Quran, BukhariMathnavi Rumi and Dala’ilul Khairat. He always had a pile of books around him when he was at home, and he went out for walks to the north or east side of Qadian.

    “In his spare time, he taught young children namaz [i.e., the Arabic wording of salat and its translation]. Bhai Kishen Singh had lessons in medicine. He also taught Mirza Sultan Ahmad and Ali Muhammad the usual courses of study in religion and oriental languages. As a pupil of Ahmadas, Mirza Sultan Ahmad became a zealous defender of Islam in his youth. He wrote several articles in the Manshur-e-Muhammadi. The nature and style of these articles show that they were all inspired by his father.” (Life of Ahmadas, p. 57)

    The Promised Messiahas also carried out in-depth readings of the Bible, and owing to his extensive study of Christian scriptures, he was able to refute countless allegations of clergy against Islam and the Holy Prophetsa. Prophet Ahmadas not only addressed the misconceptions of Christians through their holy book but also provided Muslims with the true and insightful meanings of the Holy Quran, highlighting the strong and well-reasoned arguments of Islam against Christianity. Consequently, the Promised Messiahas emerged as the defender of Islam, and the world witnessed the fulfilment of this prophecy that “the son of Mary shall surely appear among you” and “shall break the cross”. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Anbiya).

    At a very early age, the Promised Messiahas started to lay the groundwork for breaking the cross, as he says:

    “Ever since I was sixteen or seventeen, I have been reading books by Christian authors and have reflected over the allegations that they tend to raise. On my own accord, I have collected the objections that they level against the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and thus far, they have reached a total of approximately 3,000 in number.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 3, p. 151)

    The Promised Messiahas says:

    “The Holy Prophetsa had prophesied that the faith of the cross shall neither decline nor shall its progress slow down until the Promised Messiah appeared in this world. It was at his hands that the ‘breaking of the cross’ was to be brought about. The point which was meant to be underlined was that in the time of the Promised Messiah, God would create conditions which would lay bare the truth about the crucifixion. The creed of the cross would come to an end and complete its life span, not through war or violence, but exclusively through heavenly causes, in the form of scientific reason and argument.” (Jesus in India, p. 73)

    Referring to the above statement of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra MA writes:

    “These words of [Prophet] Ahmadas are absolutely true. The present is the age of reason and research. Ahmadas has indeed laid bare the truth about the crucifixion. For centuries, the Christian world had remained engulfed in complete darkness with regard to the crucifixion. It appears that the horrors of the Inquisition had benumbed and paralysed the very brain of man. Even the neighbouring countries and communities had been deceived and duped. It is really with the approach of the advent of the Promised Messiahas, like the approach of the sun, that the spiritual darkness in which mankind was engulfed began to be dispelled. Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah, was born in 1835, and a little earlier, thoughtful people, called ‘rationalists’ among Christians, had begun to look upon the crucifixion from a different angle of vision, and as the advent took place truth began to dawn upon them more and more clearly.” (Life of Ahmadas, p. 309)

    The  book Jesus in India by the Promised Messiahas is a monument to research. It was written in 1899 and published on 20 November 1908. This detailed work is a  groundbreaking treatise that offers convincing evidence that Jesusas did not die on the cross and, in fact, journeyed to India in search of the lost tribes of Israel. Prophet Ahmadas has provided compelling proofs from Christian as well as Muslim scriptures. Moreover, he has also cited medical and historical books, including ancient Buddhist records, which further substantiate Jesus’as journey towards the East after being miraculously saved from crucifixion.

    Through his God-given knowledge of the Holy Quran, the Promised Messiahas comprehensively proved the death of Prophet Jesusas, and this changed everything in terms of their misconception that Jesusas of Nazareth was alive and would physically descend from Heaven. Apart from many other verses of the Holy Quran, Prophet Ahmadas presented the verse 118 of Surah aal-Ma’idah, “فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيۡتَنِيۡ کُنۡتَ اَنۡتَ الرَّقِيۡبَ عَلَيۡہِمۡ ؕ وَ اَنۡتَ عَلٰي کُلِّ شَيۡءٍ شَہِيۡدٌ” i.e., “‘Since Thou [God] didst cause me [Jesus] to die (tawaffaitani), Thou hast been the Watcher over them.’” However, Prophet Ahmadas did not take this divine knowledge for granted and delved deep into the meanings of the word “tawaffi” to explain and make it easy for an ordinary person to understand and accept it without any confusion. One can get a slight idea of his manner of intense study and in-depth research in this regard from the following statement of the Promised Messiahas:

    “In the idiom of the Holy Quran, the word tawaffi has always been used in the connotation of death and taking possession of the soul. A minute study of Arabic prose and poetry – both ancient and modern – shows that wherever the expression tawaffi is used for a human being, and the action is attributed to Allah the Glorious, tawaffi invariably means death and taking possession of the soul.

    “In this context, there is not a single instance, where this expression means anything other than taking possession of the soul. Those who are wont to refer to lexicons like QamusSihahAl-Surah, etc., have not found a single instance where, in the context that we have mentioned, any other connotation has been attributed to the expression tawaffi. There is not the slightest indication of the possibility of any other connotation.

    “Then, I studied the books of Hadith to discover whether the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, or his companions had on any occasion applied the expression tawaffi to a human being in any other connotation than that of death and taking possession of the soul. I had to labour hard in this search. What I discovered on checking every page of the compilations of Sahih BukhariSahih MuslimTirmadhiIbn-e-MajahAbu DawudNasa’iDarimiMu’atta’ and Sharh-us-Sunnah, etc., was that the expression tawaffi has been used three hundred and forty-six times, and in no single instance has it been used, either by the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, or by his companions, to mean anything other than ‘death’, or ‘taking possession of the soul’. I have gone through these books with great care, line by line, and I can say that on each and every occasion, the expression tawaffi has been used only in the connotation of death or taking possession of the soul. A careful perusal of these books also establishes that, from the moment of the call [to Islam] and all through his life, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, never used the expression tawaffi in any connotation other than death and taking possession of the soul. […]

    “Imam Muhammad Isma‘il al-Bukhari has made a fine point in his compilation which indicates that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used the expression tawaffi at least seven thousand times between his call [to Islam] and his death, and every time he used it in the connotation of death and taking possession of the soul. Seekers after truth should be grateful to Imam Bukhari for this information.” (Izala-e-Auham, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 3, pp. 583-5; Essence of Islam, Vol. 3, pp. 196-98)

    The Promised Messiahas further states:

    “If anyone can cite a single instance from the Holy Quran or Hadith, or from ancient or modern Arabic poetry and prose, that the word tawaffi, when applied to a human being, God being the subject, has been used in any connotation other than death and taking possession of the soul, for instance, in the connotation of the taking the body, I bind myself on oath that I shall pay that person one thousand rupees in cash by selling some of my property and shall always hold him in high esteem as a great scholar of the Holy Quran and Hadith.” (Izala-e-Auham, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 3, pp. 603; Ibid., p. 198)

    In short, it would be unfair to confine Prophet Ahmad’sas fondness for knowledge and research to the above words because his dedication to study extended far beyond the scope of a single piece of writing. His enormous collection of literary works, traversing different subjects, mirrors his unquenchable interest in and pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. It is essential to carry out an in-depth study of all of his writings and literary contributions in order to truly appreciate his research and efforts for the betterment of mankind.

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