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The Light

& Islamic Review

November - December 1997

Vol. 74, No. 6

u Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore Inc., U.S.A. u
1315 Kingsgate Road, Columbus, Ohio, 43221 1504, U.S.A.

The Light was founded in 1921 as the organ of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam (Ahmadiyya Association for the propagation of Islam) of Lahore, Pakistan. The Islamic Review was published in England from 1913 for over 50 years, and in the U.S.A. from 1980 to 1991. The present periodical represents the beliefs of the world-wide branches of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, Lahore.

ISSN: 1060–4596
Editor: Dr. Zahid Aziz. Format and Design: The Editor.
Circulation: Mrs. Samina Sahukhan, Dr. Noman I. Malik.


Four excellent qualities bestowed upon saints

From the book ‘Tiryaq al-Qulub’

By Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

[Editor’s Note: The verse 4:69 of the Holy Quran tells us that those who obey Allah and His Messenger are "with" or "in the company of" the prophets, the truthful (siddiq), the faithful (shahid) and the righteous (salih). Despite the fact that it most certainly does not say that a Muslim can become a prophet by obeying Allah and the Messenger, the Qadianis are always citing this verse in support of their wrong belief that prophets can arise from among Muslims. Below we translate a lengthy explanation of this verse as given by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It is absolutely clear from his explanation that what the verse means is that saints (auliya) among Muslims attain four kinds of qualities, and the quality of the prophets which they attain is the receiving of knowledge of the unseen from God, in the manner, of course, in which saints receive revelation. Hazrat Mirza has repeatedly used the word ‘saint’ in this writing, and he has not even remotely suggested that this verse promises that a Muslim can become a prophet.]


It should be borne in mind that a comprehensive knowledge of matters unseen is not granted to those who do not have sound connections with God; and though it is possible for such persons to have the occasional true dream or true vision, but the necessary condition for sainthood (wilayat) and acceptance by God is that unseen matters and hidden affairs should be revealed to the person in much greater abundance than to anyone else in the whole world, so that none can rival this abundance. It is worth remembering that whenever Almighty God, out of His great grace, bestows upon some person the robe and status of sainthood, He grants him clear distinction over his peers and his contemporaries in all of four things. And if such distinction is found in anyone, then it becomes necessary to believe, surely and certainly, that he is one of those perfect servants and exalted saints of God whom He has himself chosen and trained under His special guidance.

The four things that mark out the perfect saints and men of God are four qualities granted to them to serve as signs and miracles. In each of these qualities they have a clear and plain distinction over others; in fact, these accomplishments reach the grade of miracles. Such a man is like the philosopher’s stone, and only he reaches this rank who has, since eternity, been chosen to benefit the world. The four qualities, which are as four signs or miracles, and which distinguish one who is a great saint (wali) and master and chief of the saints, are as follows.

First quality: receiving revelation.

Firstly, matters of the unseen should, after supplication or by other means, be disclosed to him in such abundance, and many prophecies be fulfilled so clearly, that no other person could rival him in respect of abundance of quantity and clarity of condition. And as regards this abundance and clarity, it should be not only improbable, but impossible, that someone else could have a share of these qualities. That is to say, it should be entirely impossible that someone else could parallel or rival these qualities in terms of secrets of the unseen revealed, acceptance of his prayers and prior intimation of the same to him, and signs of support that appear in heaven and earth. And he should, by way of miracle and in an extraordinary manner, be granted such divine knowledge of the unseen, luminous visions and heavenly support, as if a gigantic river were flowing and a glorious light descending from heaven and spreading on the earth; and these things should reach the stage where they appear to be miraculous and unequalled in their time. This excellence is called the excellence of prophethood.

Second quality: truth.

The second excellence that is necessary as a sign for the leader of the saints and chief of the purified ones is the attainment of the higher understanding and knowledge of the Quran. It is necessary to remember that there is a lower, an average and a higher teaching of the Quran. The higher teaching abounds in so much light of knowledge, brightness of truth, true beauty, and virtue, that the lower or average ability cannot possibly reach it. Only the possessors of the purest nature, whose entirely luminous disposition draws light to itself, attain to these truths.

So the first stage of sidq (truthfulness) that they attain is aversion for worldly affairs and an instinctive dislike of what is vain. After this condition is firmly established, the second stage of sidq is reached which can be called zeal, enthusiasm and turning towards God. And after this state is thoroughly established, a third stage of sidq is attained which can be called the greatest transformation, an entire cutting off, personal love, and the rank of total self-effacement in Allah.

This having been deeply-rooted, the spirit of truth penetrates the human being, and all pure truths and matters of knowledge of a high order are revealed to him. There rises up in his heart, and pours forth from his lips, the most profound and deep knowledge of the Quran and points of the shariah. And such secrets and subtleties of the religion are disclosed to him as are inaccessible to the intellects of the followers of customary and conventional knowledge. This is because he is inspired by God, and the holy spirit speaks within him. All inclinations to falsehood are cut out from within him because he learns from the spirit, speaks according to it, and by the spirit does he influence others.

In this state he is called siddiq (lit. truthful) because the darkness of falsehood entirely leaves him, and is substituted by purity and the light of truth. The manifestation through him, at this stage, of truths and matters of knowledge of a high order is a sign of him. Having been fermented by the light of truth, his holy teaching astonishes the world. People are wonder-struck by his pious knowledge which stems from his self-effacement in Allah and knowledge of the truth. This quality is called the quality of siddiqiyya (lit. truthfulness).

It should be remembered that siddiq is one who both has a complete knowledge of the Divine truths and acts on them perfectly instinctively. For instance, he knows the true significance of matters such as Divine unity, obedience to God, love of God, the obtaining of complete riddance from worshipping others than God; the real meaning of devotion to God, sincerity, repentance; and the essence of moral virtues such as patience, trust in God, resignation to Him, effacement in Him, truthfulness, fidelity, forgiveness, modesty, honesty, trustworthiness, etc. And apart from having this knowledge, he is well-established on all these virtues.

Third quality: being a witness of faith.

The third excellence granted to the great saints is the rank of shahadah. By this rank is meant that station where, by the strength of his faith, man acquires such a belief in God and in the Day of Judgment that it is as if he sees God with his own eyes. Then, with the blessing of this conviction, the effort and exertion of doing righteous deeds melts away, every Divinely-ordained fate appears sweet as honey to his heart, and each trial is seen by him as a reward.

Hence shahid is one who, by the strength of his faith, beholds God, and enjoys like sweet honey the bitter fate ordained by Him. This is why he is called shahid. This rank is a sign of the perfect believer.

Fourth quality: righteousness.

There is also a fourth rank which is attained fully and completely by the perfect saints and the purified ones: the rank of salihin (lit. the righteous). A person is called salih when he becomes inwardly cleared and purified of all wickedness, and with the removal of all this putrid and filthy matter, the ecstasy of Divine worship and contemplation reaches the highest degree. For, just as the taste of the tongue is spoilt by physical illness, so is the sense of spiritual flavour vitiated by spiritual ailments; and a person thus afflicted feels no pleasure in Divine worship and contemplation, nor does he have any enthusiasm, zeal or urge for it. On the other hand, the perfect man is not only cleansed of all evil matter but this quality develops so much within him as to appear as a sign and miracle.

These are, in short, the four grades, to try to attain to which is the duty of every believer. The person who entirely lacks these, lacks faith. This is why in the Sura Fatiha (opening chapter of the Holy Quran) the Glorious God has ordained for the Muslims this very prayer that they implore Him for all these virtues. This prayer is: "Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours". This verse has been explained elsewhere in the Holy Quran [4:69] where it is made clear that by those upon whom God has bestowed favours are meant the prophets, the siddiq, the shahid, and the salih. The perfect man has all of these four qualities combined in him.

(Tiryaq al-Qulub, pp. 246 – 250)

¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨

Elsewhere Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writes:

"The Holy Quran in the Sura Fatiha gives us the hope of becoming the likes of prophets. God exhorts us to pray to Him five times a day and beseech Him as follows: ‘Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours’, meaning O God, grant us the guidance so that we may become the like of Adam, the like of Seth, the like of Noah, the like of Abraham, the like of Moses, the like of Jesus, and the like of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and Ahmad." (Izala Auham, p. 257)

It is the like of a prophet, and not a prophet, that a Muslim is instructed to pray to become in the Sura Fatiha. The Qadiani assertion that a Muslim is taught here to pray to become a prophet is entirely baseless.n


Lessons in the Quran – 5

Translation of Mr. N.A. Faruqui’s book Mu‘arif-ul-Qur’an

Translated by Dr. Mohammad Ahmad, Ohio


Master of the Day of Requital

In the previous four lessons we had a brief glimpse of the profound knowledge and wisdom contained in the verses, Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir Ra-heem (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful) and Al-ham-du-lil-laa-hi Rab-bil ‘aa-la-meen (all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds). Today we shall, by the grace of Allah, contemplate on the meaning of the verses: Maa-li-ki yau-mid-deen (Master of the Day of Requital) and Ee-yaa-ka na-bu-du (Thee do we serve). The word yaum is ordinarily translated as ‘day,’ i.e., the time between sunrise and sunset; however, in the Arabic language and also in the Holy Quran, it has been used to specify a time or period which may be very small or large. For example, the Holy Quran states:

"Kul-la yau-min Hu-wa fee shaan" — Every moment He is in a state (of glory) (55:29).

In this verse, the word yaum stands for a moment of time. Compare this with:

"yau-min kana miq-daro-hu kham-seena alfa sana-tin" — in the day the measure of which is fifty thousand years" (70:4).

In this verse, yaum represents fifty thousand years as stated. What then is the meaning of Maa-li-ki yau-mid-deen (Master of the Day of Requital)? There is no doubt that a day will come when mankind is to be judged and recompensed for all his actions, good or evil, including the secrets hidden deep down within his bosom. That day can either be a single day, the whole time during which a person is rewarded for his good actions, or the extended period during which he faces the consequences of his evil deeds and internal detriment. The Day of Requital also stands for every passing moment of time in which the reward or punishment for every good or evil action is being recorded, though most people do not have true knowledge of it. Thus we observe that a good action immediately leads to a feeling of contentment and joy, while an evil one causes restlessness, worry and anxiety in one’s mind. An honest person may go hungry, but he has the peace of mind and consequently a restful sleep at night. A dishonest person, on the other hand, is fearful of impending doom, and is uneasy and anxious. The reward and punishment for good and evil actions are therefore immediate, though man remains in denial in this life.

Concept of paradise and hell.

The two types of paradise that are mentioned in the Holy Quran for those who guard against evil (muttaqi) are, by consensus, the paradise of this world and the Hereafter. The possessions of a righteous person in this world seldom include gardens with streams of running water (metaphorical language used in the Holy Quran for describing paradise); however, he is surely guaranteed peace and tranquillity of mind. On the contrary, an evil person may own a garden with streams of flowing water, but he is void of inner peace and serenity, and his heart is always burning with the desire to acquire more material wealth. A person having thousands is worried about making millions, and a millionaire is likewise eager to reach the billion mark. After death, the burning desire and greed of a worldly person manifests itself as the external fire of hell, as the Holy Quran tells us:

"It is the fire kindled by Allah, which rises over the hearts. Surely it is closed in on them, in extended columns" (104:6-9).

On the other hand, the one whose heart is a recipient of internal peace and tranquillity, i.e., the paradise of this world, will after his death enter the external blessings of heavenly paradise as the Holy Quran states:

"O soul thou that art at rest, return to thy Lord, well-pleased, well pleasing, so enter among My servants, and enter My Garden" (89:27-30).

The reward of heaven and the punishment of hell begin in this life, but are hidden from the physical eye. They assume a more apparent and palpable form in the life Hereafter. In both situations, that is in this life or the life Hereafter, this reward and punishment is not under man’s control, otherwise he could easily manipulate it to suit his advantage. The power to control this lies in the hands of One Who has been called "Master of the Day of Requital," in the chapter Al-Fatihah, and how very true it is!

The verses: "All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds; the Beneficent, the Merciful," draw man’s attention towards Allah, the Source of all goodness, the One Who guides and nurtures man from the lower to the higher stages of his development. Mercy is so preponderant in His nature that He provides for our physical needs before, and after, our coming into existence. He has also provided for our spiritual sustenance, by revelation of a complete and excellent guidance, the Holy Quran. If we act upon this guidance, His mercy will reward us manifold not only in this life, but also in the Hereafter. In the verse, "Master of the Day of Requital," mankind has been informed (which was very essential) that the way he spends his life in this world is his own responsibility. Whatever he thinks, speaks, or acts upon, the compensation for it starts in this very life; although in the Hereafter it assumes a more perceptible form. Thus, mankind is in need of Allah’s guidance and help for his existence and well being not only in this life, but also for the success and comfort of the life which occurs as a result of this.

Only Allah is to be served with humility.

After becoming aware of these attributes of the Divine Being, the soul of the suppliant cries out spontaneously, "Ee-yaa-ka- na‘-bu-du wa ee-yaa-ka nas-ta-‘een" — Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. These being the verses of Al-Fatihah that follow. I have translated na‘-bu-du as ‘to serve’ or ‘obey’, although most people misunderstand its meaning to be recitation of prayers. In fact the Arabic word salaat has been used for prayer in the Holy Quran. The dictionary meaning of the word ‘ibadat (noun of na‘-bu-du) is obedience with humility. Allah has clearly differentiated between the meaning of ‘ibadat and salaat in the Holy Quran in verse:

"So serve Me, and keep up prayer for My remembrance (fa-budni wa- aki-mis-salaata li-zikri)" (20:14);

and in the verse:

"Did I not charge you, O children of Adam, that you serve not the devil (Alam- ahad ilaikum ya bani adama an laa ta‘budu shaitan)?" (36:60).

In this verse ta‘budu (serve) from `ibadat can certainly not mean prayer because no one performs the prayer service before the devil assuming the traditional postures of qi-yam (standing with folded hands), ru-ku (bending over), or sajda (prostration). The real meaning of ‘ibadat in this context is exactly what the dictionary tells us that is ‘serving and obeying,’ in this case the devil, which most human beings unfortunately do. It is a unique ability of the Arabic language that with a choice of a few words a very comprehensive and excellent meaning is conveyed. This is why it has been selected by Allah as the language of His final revealed scripture, the Holy Quran which is a book of complete guidance. We have seen an example of this in the use of the word Rabb (One Who nurtures unto perfection). Also we have just seen how the extensive subject of obedience with humility is addressed with the use of the word ‘ibadat. It is necessary to know all of this, because obedience can be of two kinds. One form is accomplished under duress and with infliction of chastisement. The other kind is purely voluntary and accomplished with humility. Compare the example of a child, who studies because he is afraid of being punished by his teacher with the one who considers the teacher as his benefactor and complies with his instructions, with enthusiasm and humility. Both of these cannot derive similar benefit from their teacher; certainly the one who is humble and obedient benefits the most. The same rule applies to parental guidance for children. Allah’s mercy for mankind undoubtedly exceeds far beyond that of parents. In fact He is responsible for inspiring mercy in the hearts of parents for their offspring. Who can be a greater benefactor of man than Allah? No one knows more than Him what is beneficial or harmful for the human race. Parents, teachers and worldly leaders are liable to human error, however, Allah is Subhan (free of all faults). In fact according to verse, "Al-ham-du lil-laa-hi¼ .(All praise is for Allah)," He possesses all attributes and excellence to the degree of perfection. All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Requital. Whatever He commands for mankind to be carried out is beneficial for him and what He forbids is harmful. Therefore, one can only benefit from His Rabubiyat (nurture unto perfection) by humbly submitting to His command.

Asking for Divine assistance.

In spite of good intentions, man’s effort may be lacking or faulty. This may be because of forgetfulness, lassitude, or lack of knowledge regarding Divine commandments. The devil is also continuously trying to incite man, who is liable to fall to his temptation, particularly so during periods of trials and tribulations. This is why the subsequent verse is, "Thee do we beseech for help." In this verse one begs Allah for His protection and help, and the strength required for complete submission in order to obtain full benefit of His blessings and save oneself from loss and deprivation.

It is worth noting that in the verses, "All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Requital," Allah is addressed in the absent form. This is because when one starts reciting the Al-Fatihah, Allah is absent from the mind’s eye. These verses with their profound meaning and wisdom, when recited with full concentration, bring before the mind’s eye the full excellence and goodness of the Divine Being. This being the reason for addressing Allah in the present tense in the subsequent verse, "Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help." In order to create a concept of the Divine Being during prayer, people made idols, images or pictures of their prophets. These devices present a very poor and degrading concept of the Divine Being. Does this concept compare at all with the one presented by the verses of Al-Fatihah? — the concept which defines the grandeur, power, excellence and goodness of the Divine Being and how mankind benefits from it. When this powerful concept is presented to the mind of the suppliant, his heart cries out spontaneously, "Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help." In this way those true feelings which are essential for prayer are generated in the heart.

Another point is worth noting that in the verse, "Thee do we serve," the plural (‘we’) is used although one is praying individually. This is because this prayer is recited several times in the obligatory prayers, which are enjoined to be said in congregation whenever possible. Also when reciting non-congregational portion (sunnah) of the prayer one is frequently in the company of other Muslims in the mosque. Even if this is not the case one should include his friends, relatives, and members of the congregation in his prayer, for no other prayer excels the Al-Fatihah in terms of blessings in this life and the Hereafter.

Another reason for using the plural in the above mentioned verse is that man is a collective body composed of different faculties. All of these including his eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet, mind etc., should submit before Allah with complete humility, then only can one truly say, "Thee do we serve." Similarly Allah’s help is asked for in, "Thee do we beseech for help," because without His grace these faculties can stray away from the right path. Sometimes the eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet are involved in sinful behavior and the mind is frequently involved in all kinds of detriment. May Allah protect us from these dangers. Ameen. n


Book Review

by Svend Akram White


Siddiqui, Kalim.

Stages of Islamic Revolution,

London: The Open Press, 1996, x + 138 pp.

isbn 0905081 75 7

{Note: This book review is an early version of an article published in the Islamic academic journal Periodica Islamica (vol. 6, no. 3, 1996).}

The Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle once complained that the Holy Quran was a "[a] wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement.¼ Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran" [1]. Unfortunately, there are times when a comparable "sense of duty" is demanded of the critically-minded Muslim when reading Stages of Islamic Revolution, Kalim Siddiqui’s disappointing collection of essays on contemporary Islamic politics.

There is a frustratingly vague, meandering quality to the work. As if to give the reader fair warning, the publisher’s blurb sets the hazy tone by promising to elucidate "processes and events in the world of Islam", whatever that might mean. While words like "empirical", "paradigm", and "axiom" are liberally sprinkled throughout the book’s 135 pages, the author rarely supports his assertions with evidence of any sort.

The book is divided into nine chapters and an appendix. Upon opening to the table of contents, the reader’s interest is immediately piqued by promising chapter titles ("The role of the intellectual revolution", "The process of globalisation", "Interim movements and partial revolutions"), but these turn out to be misleading, as the accompanying essays are neither systematic nor rigorous. [2].

This ad hoc quality is doubly unfortunate, since the book is not without its insights. However, for every trenchant observation (e.g., "All modern Muslim societies are living examples of societies that have undergone mindless, uncontrolled, unguided, and imposed change" (12)) there is generally a host of careless generalizations ("Examples of this can be found in all parts of the world and at all stages of history" (13)), highly debatable assertions ("The Western media … normally insist that Muslims living in different countries of the world have nothing in common and cannot act together" (38)), and oversimplifications: "[Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan was] the chief instrument of British policy towards their Muslim subjects in India … Service and sycophancy came naturally to him; he was good at it" (56)). Many fascinating and complex figures from Islamic history — from the anti-Russian resistance leader Imam Shamyl and the founder of the Sokoto caliphate in West Africa, Othman dan Folio, to Muhammad Iqbal and Ali Shariati — are invoked but never explained or integrated into the thesis, which leaves the impression that their ultimate function here is largely ornamental.

One point is clear, though: Siddiqui sees the Iranian Revolution as the sole example in recent times of an Islamic resurgence and believes that the Muslim world is inexorably advancing towards the Iranian model where political authority is in the hands of the ulama/mujtahids (one of whom is to assume the position of khalifah/vali-i faqih). He does not advocate the Shia doctrinal stand, but he does laud the new-found spirit of political assertiveness of Iran’s ulama class and their emphasis on a return to Islamic tradition, seeing the Revolution as a spring of inspiration in a desert of sterile Sunni political thought which, at best, leaves the unjust status quo unchallenged.

A thumbnail sketch of Iranian history is given to illustrate how the Revolution is the culmination of a gradual process of Islamic scholars rejecting the subordination of din to dunya. This malaise came into being with Umayyad rule and went largely unchallenged until the triumph of the usuli mujtahids over the then-dominant akhbari school within Shia thought towards the end of the eighteenth/twelfth century ce/ah, which, in the words of a prominent scholar, created "a clear doctrinal basis for appeals to the ulama over the head of a ruler" [3]. A century later in 1892, this doctrinal change bore fruit when Mirza Hasan Shirazi led ulama resistance to the Qajar Shah’s collusion with the colonial powers by issuing a fatwa against the consumption of tobacco produced under the time’s monopolistic concession to the British. Soon after this successful campaign, the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–1909 occurred and the Shah was forced to accept a constitution which would, in theory, limit his powers. The next blow against injustice was struck by Mohammad Mossadeq when he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1952, though he was quickly overthrown by a CIA-sponsored coup to protect Western financial interests. Finally, in 1978, a full Islamic revolution was obtained under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. And the process continues today.

According to Siddiqui, the Revolution and Khomeini’s personal example have inspired a growing "global Islamic movement [4] [which] is already beginning to function as a vast ‘Open University of Islam’ " (20). This movement, says the author, struggles today worldwide to implement the Sunnah and Sirah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Though the author declares ex cathedra that "a global Islamic movement now exists [and] is a widely recognizable empirical reality" (27), he neglects to cite any concrete examples of either the "global Islamic movement" or this "Open University of Islam". Just who these groups and their leaders are is left to the reader’s imagination. Aside from an airy discussion of this movement’s "wide spectrum" of activities — everything from leaflet distribution to combat (36) — the only specific information given is that this murky movement’s literary vanguard is Siddiqui’s own Muslim Institute in London and an allied Islamic magazine in Canada, The Crescent International. These two organizations, Siddiqui claim, "became household names in many parts of the world" for their service in spreading the gospel of Iranian revolution (64). [5]

However, we do know who is not part of the movement. Egypt’s Ikhwan al-Muslimin and Pakistan’s Jama‘at-i Islami are scornfully dismissed as stooges of the Saudis and the West for their participation in the modern political process. Also in cahoots with this "Ikhwan-Jama‘at-Saudi triumvirate" are a large number of mainstream Islamic organizations, including the usa’s isna, the iiit in Washington, "Islamic Universities in Kuala Lumpur and Islamabad", wamy, and others (21-22).

Unfortunately, no explanation is given of what makes these organizations so un-Islamic. Why Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — kafir client states of the West, according to Siddiqui — would at various times ban and persecute the Ikhwan, an "ally" in this conspiracy against Islam, is not explained, either. Nor is how the Jama‘at-supported initiatives to impose shariah-based legislation — including the controversial blasphemy law (presumably a desideratum to Siddiqui, a fervid supporter of the Khomeini death sentence against Salman Rushdie) — in Pakistan are so fundamentally different from the author’s own vision of restoring "behavioral proximity with the Prophet … [through] links to the Sirah and the Sunnah" (13). Finally, beyond the correct but unoriginal observation that the usuli revolution opened the door to ijtihad in Iran, nothing is said to explain how Iran’s shariah-based legislation is more legitimate than that of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Malaysia, ¼

At times, the few arguments that are presented are shockingly simplistic. Thus, on the issue of women’s dress, Siddiqui opines: "The Muslim woman in hijab in the West almost certainly has a higher ‘feel good’ tolerance than most scantily dressed Western women on the arms of their umpteenth lover or boyfriend or third or fourth adulterous husband" (74). Here, rather than focusing on the real issue — namely, the objectification and commodification of women’s bodies in Western society — he indulges in stereo-typing worthy of the infamous anti-Iranian, Islam-bashing film Not Without My Daughter.

(Footnote: How would Mr. Siddiqui and his fellow-thinkers react if a non-Muslim publication portrayed the carricature of a Muslim potentate having four wives and scores of concubines at his service! — Editor, The Light.)


In the same vein, Siddiqui maintains that disproportionate numbers of non-Western soldiers are killed in U.N. peacekeeping operations because Western troops "will only fight so long as the chances of being killed are not significantly greater than being run over by a bus in civilian life" (75), which, at best, reveals a profound ignorance of how international peace-keeping works, since soldiers have no choice in their assignments; if Muslim troops are indeed being used as canon fodder, this is due to politicians and public opinion "back home", not Western soldiers’ cowardice. Again, rather than laying the blame on those responsible — the Western political class — the author stoops to invective and stereotyping.

Siddiqui’s whirlwind review of Iranian history leaves much to be desired, as well, as he idealizes the role of the ulama and writes secular resistance groups out of history, even though the ulama did not become revolutionary in any real sense until the 1960s. Thus, Hamid Algar writes: "¼ any wish to reshape definitively the norms of political life and the bases of the state was foreign to the ulama in Qajar Iran" [6], and, on the role of the ulama as resisters to injustice in pre-1962 Iran, Nikkie Keddie explains: "¼ the opposition role of the ulama was limited in its objectives. The ulama did not demand or agitate for a structural change of society, which was characterized by exploitation and oppression of the majority of the population" [7].

Though the author acknowledges the long tradition of ulama quietism, the roles of the National Front and the Tudeh — in many cases the only defenders of the interests of common people because of the cooption of the ulama (as during the Reza Shah period) — in resistance to the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties, is completely ignored. Likewise, in this account Ayatollah Shirazi appears to be the sole hero of the tobacco boycott of 1892, even though it was the result of, in Keddie’s words, a "religious-radical alliance" bringing together "ulama, modernists, merchants, and ordinary people" [8]. Finally, it is observed that in the period after Mossadeq’s ouster, Ayatollah Kashani "played a key role in ending British imperial power" in Iran (51), which, while true, is deceptive for its omission of his own cooperation with the CIA and Shah in the infamous coup against Iranian independence!

One might be inclined to forgive such oversights in a better organized and cogently argued work, but this is not the case here, as Stages never makes the jump from slogan to argument. Thus, a coherent and convincing case for its recommendations is not made. In fact, so chaotic is the book’s organization that it is not always clear what these essays are advocating.

In conclusion, this book makes it clear that it is the author’s heartfelt belief that "the method of Prophet Muhammad ¼ is most suited to overcome the global challenges facing Islam" (103), but at the end the reader has little idea what this method is, even with the author’s oft-repeated mantra of "the Sirah and the Sunnah of the Prophet" (103). Early on, he writes: "History does not tolerate an incompetent leadership, faulty worldview and a sloppy method" (25), a warning which he would have done well to heed himself, as this book is by turns opaque, rambling and simplistic. The book’s blurb proclaims it "indispensable reading for activists in the Islamic movement", but Stages reads more like an impassioned Friday khutbah than a coherent plan for Islamic activism.


[1] Carlyle, Thomas, Sartor Resartus: On Heroes and Hero-worship, London, 1973, p. 299.

[2] A problem which is aggravated by the book’s whimsical editing and chaotic order of exposition: At times, the text’s paragraph structure is arbitrary, with desultory, page-long paragraphs covering a number of separate topics. Also, the book’s weak organization causes much confusion. For example, the terms akbari and usuli, key concepts to his thesis about Islamic revolution, are not adequately defined until page 101, a few pages before the book’s end. Some points are made several times with nearly identical wording.

[3] Keddie, Nikkie, Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1981, p. 22.

[4] He makes the odd and dubious claim that this rather banal term was coined by the Muslim Institute at the end of the 1970s (18), more than three decades after the founding of the influential and politically-active Islamic publication The Islamic Review of London. Similarly, he asserts that the term "Islamicist" in English was coined by the Ikhwan to describe themselves (21). No citations are given in either case.

[5] Delusions of grandeur seem to peek through at times, as when he compares the founding of the Muslim Institute in 1972 to Columbus’ fateful voyage across the Atlantic in 1492 (66).

[6] Algar, Hamid, Religion and State in Iran, 1785–1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1969, p. 260.

[7] Floor, Willem M., "The Revolutionary Character of the Ulama: Wishful Thinking or Reality?" in Nikkie R. Keddie (ed.), Religion and Politics in Iran, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1983, p. 94.

[8] Keddie, p. 67.


New publication

by the Editor


The True Message of the Quran, the Torah and the Gospel, by Ismail Peck, Cape Town, pp. 64. Obtainable from the author at: P.O. Box 18740, Wynberg 7824, Cape Town, South Africa.

This is an interesting booklet which examines various basic religious teachings and concepts of Islam with reference to not only the Holy Quran but the Jewish and Christian scriptures as well. It is divided into two parts, the first part dealing with the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam (matters such as oneness of God, prayer, fasting, prophets, the hereafter, etc.), and the second part looking at other issues of interest in these three religions, such as the creation of the world, the birth, death and ascension of Jesus, and the position of women.

Under each head, the author first cites the Quran and then quotes from the Bible to show that the same concepts and teachings are borne out by the Jewish and Christian scriptures as well, even though the official beliefs of these two religions may not accord with the Quran. The book is written in a concise, clear and simple style and furnished with plenty of quotations. It is intended not only to increase the knowledge of the Muslim reader but, more importantly, also to show our Jewish and Christian friends the real teachings of the Quran and their support to be found in the Bible. The language of the booklet will not be offensive to anyone. The discussion about the life of Jesus and about the mi‘raj of the Holy Prophet Muhammad will also benefit large sections of Muslims who labour under misconceptions as to the Quranic teaching on these questions.

Being written in South Africa, I noticed one example of local pronunciation of Arabic sounds which may puzzle those who are not familiar with it. The Arabic letter h is rendered as g, so that ahad (‘one’) is written as agad (p. 4) and hamalat (‘she bears’) as gamalat (p. 41). These are probably the only two instances.

This book is a very commendable effort and we recommend it highly, especially to those Muslim and Ahmadiyya communities who live in proximity to Christians.

I cannot help mentioning that Mr. Ismail Peck was the plaintiff in the Cape Town Ahmadiyya Case, which ended in November 1985 with his claim being accepted by the court that as a member of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement he was a Muslim. It was an act of great personal courage on his part to allow his name to be put forward as the plaintiff, risking the wrath and vengence of many local Muslim religious leaders and their blind supporters. We wish his writing efforts well and look forward to further literary contributions from him. n


News about our Web sites

by the Editor


We have now registered a new www url (the address used to access a Web site) which is as follows:

Like other organizations, we wanted to have an address which reflected our identity. Addresses containing obvious words, such as ‘’, had already been taken by other societies. But curiously, ‘’ was not in use by anyone, and so we made haste to register it for ourselves.

Besides now having a meaningful and memorable address, the Web site is under expansion all the time. We have now started making our published books available online. So far placed on the Web site are: the first chapter of the Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad by Maulana Muhammad Ali, which consists of a life-sketch of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Introduction to Islam by myself, and Islam, My Only Choice by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. Translations of books by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad will also shortly begin to appear on the Web site, starting with A brief sketch of my life.

We have already, for some time past, had a selection of articles from The Light on the Web site. Now we are hoping to be able to provide each complete issue of The Light on the Web site at the same time as it is published on paper, possibly starting with this very issue.

Another Lahore Ahmadiyya Web site has been created by Mr. Tariq Ahmad of Washington, U.S.A. This is devoted to clearing up misconceptions about the claims of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whether prevailing among the general Muslims or among the Qadianis. It largely consists of the various sections of Evidence from the book The Ahmadiyya Case. In addition to this, the booklet Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has also been made available online on this site, consisting of: the original Urdu text in scanned image form, its English translation, and accompanying explanatory notes (the translation and notes having been prepared by me).

Mr. Tariq Ahmad’s www site has the url:

and it can also be accessed from the home page of our site.

We may also report here that Mr. Svend Akram White is at present very actively representing the Lahore Ahmadiyya viewpoint in discussions on the Internet newsgroups relating to Islam.

Readers may recall that last year a venerable Qadiani missionary gentleman, Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad of McLean, Virginia, wrote to The Light (see May–June 1996, pp. 14–15, and September–October 1996, pp. 13–14), proposing that the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement publish the booklet Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala and add a note on it to the effect that the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement holds the same belief about Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as set out by him in that booklet. So let the Sheikh sahib be informed that we have now published this booklet on one of our www sites. The accompanying notes, mentioned above, consist mainly of extracts from other works by Hazrat Mirza. Wherever in this booklet he refers to some concept and belief, we have in the notes quoted extracts from his other writings where that same concept or belief has been explained by him (proving that he is not claiming to be a prophet). We hope the Sheikh sahib and his Jama‘at believe in all the extracts from Hazrat Mirza that we have quoted in our notes.

What is more, we have also explained in a short preface, in the words of the Qadiani leader Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, what exactly is the Qadiani belief regarding this booklet Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala. And this is that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, having become the Promised Messiah in 1891, did not know what makes a man into a prophet, and therefore, while being a prophet he did not consider or call himself a prophet; indeed he denied being a prophet. This state of affairs, according to the Qadiani belief, lasted for some ten years. In the year 1901, they assert, he discovered the right definition of ‘prophet’, and realized that he had been a prophet all along, and so he wrote Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala to announce that he was a prophet. As Mirza Mahmud Ahmad wrote in his book Haqiqat an-Nubuwwat, published in March 1915:

"The issue of prophethood became clear to him in 1900 or 1901, and as Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala was published in 1901, in which he has proclaimed his prophethood most forcefully, it shows that he made a change in his belief in 1901. ¼ It is proved that the references dating prior to the year 1901 in which he has denied being a prophet, are now abrogated and it is an error to use them as evidence." — p. 121.

We hope therefore that Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad and the Qadianis will agree that, just as they want us to publish the statement that we believe in what Hazrat Mirza has written in Ayk Ghalati Ka Izala, they will also publish exactly what they themselves believe about this booklet, which we have explained above. So, can we expect that when the Qadianis print future editions of this booklet, they will add a note saying that:

"wherever in his previous writings of the last ten years Hazrat Mirza has denied being a prophet, he made those denials by mistake because, although he was a prophet, he mistakenly believed that he was not a prophet. Now by publishing this booklet he is correcting his former wrong belief."


Reply to a Sunni friend

by the Editor

A good Sunni Muslim friend, known to us from the Internet, who is interested in acquiring knowledge about Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, has sent me by e-mail some quotations from the writings of Hazrat Mirza (taken from an anti-Ahmadiyya www site) and wants our reply to the questions raised by these writings.

Did Jesus perform any miracles?

Our friend says that "according to Quran he did" but that Hazrat Mirza has written:

"The Christians have written about many miracles of Jesus but the fact is that he did not perform any miracle." (Zamima Anjam-e-Atham, Roohani Khazain, vol. 11, p. 290)

Our reply is that Hazrat Mirza is talking here about what "Christians have written", not what the Quran says. He is replying here to a Christian who had called the Prophet Muhammad an adulterer (Allah forbid!), and had used other words of gross abuse about the Holy Prophet.

Let me now translate what Hazrat Mirza has written at the end of the section from which the above extract is taken, only two pages later:

"At the end I say that we have no concern with the Jesus of the Christian preachers or his character. By unjustly abusing our Holy Prophet Muhammad they have prompted me to tell them something about their Jesus. So this unworthy, filthy Fathi Masih [name of Christian preacher] has sent me a letter in which he has called the Holy Prophet Muhammad an adulterer, and used much other bad language. In this way these evil people who worship the dead have compelled me to write something about the life of their Jesus. But let it be clear to Muslims that God has not mentioned anything about this Jesus in the Quran as to who he was. The Christian clergymen believe that Jesus was the man who claimed to be God, who called Moses as a thief, and who denied the coming of the Holy Prophet and said that only false prophets would come after him. We cannot believe such an evil-minded, arrogant man to be a gentleman, still less a prophet. The foolish Christian preachers should give up abuse and bad language, otherwise who knows what the anger of God will show them." (p. 292 of above ref.)

For further details, please see the Web site:

on the topic "Dignity of Jesus".

What Hazrat Mirza is saying is that, looking at the Gospels in which the Christians believe, we cannot establish that Jesus performed the miracles which the Christians claim prove him to be God.

Now let us consider this question: according to the Gospel of John, the first miracle performed by Jesus was to turn water into wine at a wedding feast. Can a Muslim believe that Jesus performed this miracle? Then as Hazrat Mirza says above, Jesus in the Gospels says that only false prophets would come after him. Do Muslims believe that Jesus said this?

To refute such Christian beliefs about Jesus, Hazrat Mirza talked about "the Jesus that the Christians believe in", and he called it "the imaginary Jesus" who is not the Jesus mentioned in the Quran. He has clearly said above:

"let it be clear to Muslims that God has not mentioned anything about this Jesus in the Quran as to who he was."

You will see from the quotations given on the Web site mentioned above that other Muslim Ulama too have written in the same manner. Let me repeat one of those views here. A man no less than Maulana Maudoodi writes in his famous commentary of the Quran:

"The fact is that these people [the Christians] do not believe in the historical Messiah who actually arose, but in their minds they have created an imaginary Messiah whom they have made God" (Tafhim-ul-Quran, vol. i, p. 491)

Second quotation.

The next quotation given by our friend is as follows:

"It is no wonder that God Almighty might have given Jesus some technical know-how so that by pressing a trigger or by somehow blowing on it, the clay toy took flight like a bird, or if it didn’t fly it might have walked. Because the Messiah, son of Mary, had also been working as a carpenter with his father, Joseph, for twenty-two years, and it is obvious that carpentry is a skill in which the faculty for inventing different sorts of machines and instruments is sharpened." (Izala-e-Auham, Roohani Khazain, vol. 3, p. 254 )

Hazrat Mirza is saying that God taught Jesus the knowledge of how to make these birds. Why is it objectionable to say that God gave Jesus the knowledge with which he performed these acts?

Again, let us consider some other text from this same section. First he says (pages 252, 253) that it is absolute and total shirk to believe that God gave Jesus the power to actually create living birds. He argues that God does not give His attributes to any of His creation. If God did, then those religions which associate other beings with God are right! He then says:

"The miracles of the prophets are of two kinds: (1) Those which are entirely heavenly matters in which human intelligence plays no part, such as the splitting of the moon by our Holy Prophet … (2) Miracles performed by means of knowledge which take place by the supernatural knowledge given through Divine revelation such as the miracle of Solomon ‘it is a palace made smooth with glass’, by which Bilqis became a believer. Now it should be known that it appears that this miracle of Jesus, like the miracle of Solomon, was only one of knowledge."

It is clear that Hazrat Mirza does not deny the performance of miracles by Jesus, and indeed says that they were performed through supernatural knowledge given by God. He further goes on to say:

"And as the Holy Quran frequently uses metaphors, we can interpret these verses in a spiritual sense as well, that by the birds of clay are meant those unlearned and ignorant men whom Jesus made his followers … then he breathed into them the spirit of guidance, by which they were able to fly." (p. 255)

Another quotation.

A further quotation cited by our friend is as follows:

"Perhaps he (Jesus, the Messiah) may have healed some blind and cured some other ailments by ordinary means. Due to his (Jesus’) bad luck, during his time there was a pond which was a source of great miracles. It can be assumed that he also used (the miraculous) clay of the same pond. The complete reality of his miracles is exposed by this pond. And a categorical inference drawn from the existence of this pond is that if at all he performed any miracles, they were not his own but rather attributable to this pond and he had nothing to his credit except cunning and deceit." (Zamima Anjam-e-Atham, Roohani Khazain, vol. 11, p. 291)

Here I am sorry to say that our opponents have been deliberately deceiful by omitting the words which immediately follow:

"It is then to be regretted that the unworthy Christians are making such a man to be God."

These words have been deliberately omitted by our opponents to conceal the fact that Hazrat Mirza was here arguing with a Christian critic of Islam. He is speaking from the point of view of the events of the life of Jesus as represented in the Gospels, and is saying to a Christian preacher, look this is what your own Gospels are saying about your Jesus. The "pond" mentioned here is the pool in Jerusalem, referred to in the Gospel of John, chapter 2, verses 2 to 4.

Status of other Muslims.

Our friend puts forward the following question and answer from a book by Hazrat Mirza:

"Question: Your honour [i.e. Hazrat Mirza] has mentioned in thousands of places that it is not at all right to call kafir one who recites the Kalima and is an Ahle-Qibla. It is quite obvious that except those Momineen who become kafir by rejecting you, just by not accepting you no one becomes a kafir. But you write to Abdul Hakeem Khan that anyone who has received my message and he has not accepted me, he is not Muslim. There is contradiction between this statement and the statements in previous books. Earlier in Tiryaq-ul-Quloob etc. you had mentioned that no one becomes kafir by not accepting you and now you are writing that by rejecting me he becomes a kafir.

"Answer: This is strange that you consider the person who rejects me and the person who calls me kafir as two different persons, whereas in the eyes of God he is the same type; because he who does not accept me is because he considers me a fabricator.... apart from this, he who does not accept me, he does not believe in God and His Prophet as well, because there is God’s and his Prophet’s prophecy regarding me" (Haqeeqat-ul-Wahi, Roohani Khazain, vol. 22, p. 167)

I make the following points in reply.

1. The second sentence in the question is incorrectly translated, and is in fact absurd as given above: "It is quite obvious that except those Momineen who become kafir by rejecting you, just by not accepting you no one becomes a kafir."

The original states: "... except those Momineen who become kafir by calling you a kafir ...", and not "by rejecting you".

2. Now let us apply our minds to exactly what the questioner is asking. He himself admits that Hazrat Mirza has written "in thousands of places" that it is entirely wrong to call as kafir those who recite the Kalima. His question is that in a letter written to someone, Hazrat Mirza has made a statement which contradicts this position.

So let consider this: if you found that a man has expressed one belief in "thousands of places" in his books, but in one private letter to an individual there is one sentence which appears on the face of it to contradict that belief, which would you accept as that man’s real belief: what he has written in "thousands of places" and published in his books, or what he said in one sentence in a letter?

3. The question which he is asked here is to resolve this apparent contradiction. The answer to this question extends over two and a half pages of this book, but our opponents have quoted only a little part of it here. Nowhere does Hazrat Mirza say in his answer that he has now changed his belief which he expressed in "thousands of places" and now believes that those who don’t believe in him are kafir. Rather, he tries to show what he meant by his statement in the letter, without violating the belief he expressed in his books.

4. From his full answer we can see two points which he is making. Firstly, it is a form of expression in Islam to say about a Muslim who does not accept some aspect of Islam (e.g. does not say his prayers, or commits some misdeed) that he is "not a Muslim". Such expressions are used in Hadith. The Holy Prophet has said: "None of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself" (Bukhari, book no. 2). It does not mean that any Muslim who does not live up to this standard is not a Muslim, but that he is failing in some way as a Muslim. Many other examples can be given from Islamic literature (including Hadith) where Muslims who fall short in some way are referred to as "kafir".

Secondly, Hazrat Mirza talks about those people who side with those who call him kafir. He writes in the course of the above answer:

"It is a teaching of the Shariat that he who calls a believer as kafir becomes a kafir. Then considering that almost 200 maulvis declared me kafir, and wrote a fatwa of kufr against me, … then the easy solution is that if other people have honesty and faith, and are not hypocrites, they should issue a long notice about these maulvis, naming each maulvi, saying that all these are kafir because they declared a Muslim to be a kafir. Then I will believe them to be Muslims … after that it would be forbidden for me to doubt their faith in Islam."

And at the very end of his answer he writes:

"I see that all those people who do not believe in me are all such that they regard as Muslim those who have declared me a kafir. So I do not call the Ahl-i Qibla as kafir even now, but as to those who have created a reason with their own hands for kufr, how can I call them believers?"

So the final answer given by Hazrat Mirza to that questioner is: "I do not call the Ahl-i Qibla as kafir even now".

Hazrat Mirza was faced with many Muslims who said to him, on the one hand, that they did not call him kafir, but on the other hand they were allowing the maulvis to continue calling him kafir and were afraid to dissociate themselves from these maulvis (just as Muslims today very often know that their maulvis are wrong, and even ridicule them behind their backs, but are terrified of standing up to the same maulvis).

So Hazrat Mirza proposed a simple solution. If those Muslims regard him as a Muslim, then they should denounce those maulvis openly, by an announcement, saying that as the Holy Prophet has said that "he who calls a Muslim a kafir, that title reflects back on the caller", therefore this applies to those maulvis. He states clearly: "Then I will believe them to be Muslims … after that it would be forbidden for me to doubt their faith in Islam."

Here Hazrat Mirza has made it absolutely plain that he is willing to regard those Muslims as Muslims who do not believe in his claims, provided that they regard him as a Muslim and they apply the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s denunciation of kufr to those maulvis who are calling him kafir.

Now, we ask, why haven’t our opponents quoted the full answer given by Hazrat Mirza? Obviously because the full answer entirely contradicts their false conclusion which they are basing upon quoting just a few words.

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