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Allegation of using “abusive” language about his opponents

The false allegation that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has used abusive words about his opponents in his writings is commonly advanced against him. One place in which this accusation is refuted is in the book Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement by Maulana Muhammad Ali within chapter 12. Please select this link to go to that location.

The following two basic points are important in understanding this whole issue:

  1. In the Holy Quran, as well as in the Bible, strong language has been used against the bitter opponents of the message of the prophets. This language is not abuse but is used to portray the low moral condition of those opponents, which the prophets came to expose starkly. For example, the Quran says: “They are those whom Allah has cursed and upon whom He brought His wrath and of whom He made apes and swine, and who serve the devil” (5:60). Likewise, the prophets in the Bible denounce their people in stinging terms such as the following: “you sons of a sorceress, offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute” (Isaiah, 57:3), and “For on every high hill and under every green tree you have lain down as a harlot” (Jeremiah, 2:20). Further examples are given later on.
  2. In the Hadith reports of the Holy Prophet Muhammad relating to the distant future, the Ulama of the latter days have been condemned in strong terms such as “apes and swine”. These were the very leaders of the opponents that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad faced and they fulfilled the Holy Prophet’s prophecies about the state of the Ulama of the latter days. Thus Hazrat Mirza spoke of the evil ones among them, and only the evil ones, in harsh terms.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s own reply

What Hazrat Mirza has himself said in reply to this allegation in his book Izala Auham is as follows:

“I say truly, absolutely truly, that I have not, to the best of my knowledge, used even one word which can be called abusive. A misconception arises because most people fail to differentiate between hurling abuse and narrating the truth, and consider them to be the same. They regard what is the relating of a fact in its proper place to be abuse, solely because of a degree of harshness in it which is unavoidable when speaking the truth. Actually, the definition of abuse and offensive language is that it is something which is against facts and false, and used merely to cause hurt. If we label every harsh and hurtful statement as abuse solely because of its bitterness, unpleasantness and hurtfulness, then we shall have to admit that the entire Holy Quran is filled with foul language. The harsh words used in the Holy Quran to degrade the idols and to disgrace the idol-worshippers, and to curse and condemn them, are not such as would please the idol-worshippers. On the contrary, they would undoubtedly further spark off their rage. When God the Most High addresses the unbelievers of Makka and says:
“Surely you and what you worship besides Allah are fuel of hell” [21:98],

is it not included in abusive language according to the criteria coined by the critic? Likewise, is it not abuse in the opinion of the critic when in the Holy Quran God the Most High calls the unbelievers “the worst of creatures” [98:6], and says that they are even worse than the most disgraced and filthy of creations. Has not God the Most High said in the Holy Quran: “be firm against them” [9:73]? Has it not been stated to be a sign of the believers that they are “hard against the disbelievers” [48:29]?”

(Izala Auham, pages 13–14; see Ruhani Khaza’in, v. 3, p. 109)

He then refer his critics to the example of Jesus:

“When Jesus calls the respectable religious lawyers and Pharisees of the Jews as swine and dogs, and their most honourable leader Herod a fox, and compares their respectable priests and jurists to whores, and as regards the revered leaders, who were accorded the highest respect by the Roman rulers and made to sit with honour in the Roman courts, he speaks of them in these offensive, very hurtful and uncivil words, calling them illegitimate, adulterous, evil, dishonourable, faithless, fools, hypocrites, satanic, doomed to hell, serpents and brood of vipers — are not these words very serious, filthy abuse in the opinion of the critic? From this it becomes evident that the objection of the critic does not only apply to me and my books but in reality he has attacked all the Divine scriptures and prophets with a burning heart.”

(pages 14–15; Ruhani Khaza’in, v. 3, p. 109–110)

(For reference, see the following places in the Gospel of Matthew: ch. 12 v. 39; ch. 21 v. 31; ch. 23 verses 13, 15, 17, 33.)

Giving examples from the Holy Quran, Hazrat Mirza writes:

“How openly the Holy Quran uses harsh language cannot remain unknown even to the most unintelligent and ignorant of people. For example, the civilized people of today consider it the height of abuse to curse someone. But the Holy Quran pointedly curses the unbelievers. It says: “These it is on whom is the curse of Allah and the angels and men, of all of them, abiding therein” [2:161-162], and: “These it is whom Allah curses, and those who curse, curse them too” [2:159]. Similarly, it is obvious that to liken a human being to a beast is a form of abuse. However, the Holy Quran not only calls them beasts but declares that the unbelievers and deniers are worse than all the creatures on the face of the earth, as it says: “Surely the vilest of beasts in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve” [8:54]. In the same way, it is clear that it is against the manners of present day culture to make a particular person a target of abuse by taking his name or by referring to him, but in the Holy Quran God the Most High has applied to some the name Abu Lahab, and to some the titles dog and swine. Then Abu Jahal is well known as such.

Similarly, regarding Walid Mughira the harshest possible words are used which apparently are terms of filthy abuse, as it says: […Here the Quran 68:8–16 is quoted in Arabic…]. In other words, do not follow what these unbelievers say, who wish from the bottom of their hearts that you abstain from abusing their gods and disgracing their religion, so that then they shall also apparently approve your religion. Do not be misled by the slickness of their tongues. This man who has appealed for compromise is a man who takes false oaths, is of weak opinion, and a degraded individual. He indulges in fault-finding in others and causes division among people by back biting. He hinders from the path of goodness, is guilty of illicit sexual acts, in his character he is a man of the worst morals, and besides all that he is of illegitimate birth. Very soon We shall brand his snout, which has grown long like that of swine. By a long snout is meant adherence to the customs and codes of honour of society which are a hindrance to the acceptance of the truth.”

(pages 25–29, footnote; Ruhani Khaza’in, v. 3, p. 115–117, footnote)

Word zaneem in verse 68:13 of the Quran

In the above extract Hazrat Mirza has translated the last word of verse 68:13 of the Holy Quran, which is zaneem in the original Arabic, as “he is of illegitimate birth”. Below we show how some Muslim translators of the Quran have rendered this word.

1. There is an Urdu translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Mahmud-ul-Hasan with commentary notes by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, both of these scholars being very famous and renowned Ulama of the Indian subcontinent. An edition of this book is published by the Saudi Arabian government and presented free as a gift to pilgrims. It has a note on verse 68:13 (on page 749) whose image is displayed below:

The second half of this note says:

“The meanings of zaneem according to some classical scholars are wald-uz-zina and haramzaday. The unbeliever about whom these verses were revealed was such a person.”
The word wald-uz-zina means “illegitimate” and the word haramzaday is a common Urdu term meaning “bastard”.

2. In the English translation of the Quran by T.B. Irving (whose Muslim name is Talim Ali), verse 68:13 is translated as:

“brawling, and a bastard besides that”.

3. In the English translation of the Quran by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the word zaneem is translated as: “base-born (of illegitimate birth)”, where they have inserted the words “of illegitimate birth” in parentheses.

Therefore, several orthodox Muslim scholars of the Holy Quran, of classical as well as modern times, agree that the Holy Quran used the term “illegitimate” and “bastard” to characterise an opponent of Islam in the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

One purpose of using harsh language has been mentioned as follows by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at the same point in Izala Auham as the above quotations:

“There is another wisdom in the use of harsh language, that it awakens dormant hearts and rouses those people who like to nod in agreement. … If the truth is declared to them bluntly, with all its bitterness and unpleasantness, the good result of this is that their pretence to agreement is at once removed and they openly express their unbelief and ill-will, as if their suppressed ailment now manifests itself as burning temperature. So this incitement which severely provokes the minds, although it may be highly objectionable in the view of an unwise person, but an astute man can well understand that it is this arousal which provides the first step towards the acceptance of truth. …

The strong language used by the prophets was really for the same purpose of arousal, so that a stirring be created in the people, they awaken from slumber by this jolt and start pondering and thinking about religion, they make a movement for this purpose even if it is in opposition, they establish a connection with those who are proclaiming the truth even if it is a connection of hostility. It is to this that Allah the Glorious refers in the words: ‘In their hearts is a disease, so Allah increased their disease’ [2:10].”

(pages 29–31; Ruhani Khaza’in, v. 3, p. 117–118)

Another case in which use of strong language may be permitted is mentioned in the Quran as follows:

“Allah loves not the public utterance of hurtful speech, except by one who has been wronged” (4:148).

Thus a person who is wrongfully verbally abused is allowed by the Quran to use hurtful language in self-defence, provided that it conveys only the truth and is a measured and proportionate response. The link given at the beginning of this article from the book Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement gives some examples of the vile abuse that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was subjected to by his opponents. His response was much milder than their vituperative attacks.

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