Claims of eminent Muslim saints
| Translators Note:
As Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a Muslim saint,
of the highest rank, his writings must be studied in the light of
the pronouncements of the great Muslim spiritual figures of classical
times who are recognised and revered by the whole Islamic world
as men of authority and experience in matters spiritual. The lives
and works of many of them have been studied by distinguished Western
orientalists. The writings of these popular saints show the kind
of language used by them to refer to their own spiritual attainments.
This form of expression is accepted as standard in describing spiritual
experiences and states. It is never taken literally, nor are those
who use such terms condemned as imposters. On the contrary, they
occupy the highest positions of distinction in the history of the
Muslim faith. This Section gives extracts, some of which are quite
well-known, from the writings and sayings of many such renowned
saints to illustrate the terms in which they described their claims.
If the claims of Hazrat Mirza are judged by
these established standards, no objection whatever arises against
his statements, nor do they cause any shock or offence. In fact,
his writings are of a much milder tone than the pronouncements
of earlier Muslim saints, and he has explained all these terms
in such a detailed and unambiguous manner as to clarify not only
his own expressions but those of the previous saints as well.
The Muslim nation is agreed that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the Khatam
an-nabiyyin, the Last Prophet, after whom no prophet can come, whether
new or old. This was the belief of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder
of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and after him this is the belief held by
members of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore. Before the
Holy Prophet Muhammad there existed the system of prophets being sent
in order to forge the relation of man with God and to safeguard the
Divine teachings. But when prophethood came to a close with the Holy
Prophet Muhammad, there could not arise any prophet after him. Therefore,
according to the Holy Quran and Hadith, in place of the prophets there
would arise saints (wali) and muhaddases (non-prophets
receiving Gods revelation) to put man in touch with God. And to
safeguard the faith and the Book of God, there would come successors
to the Holy Prophet (khalifa) and reformers of religion (mujaddid)
after the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The successorship verse
of the Holy Quran (24:55) testifies to this fact, and the same thing
has been stated by the Holy Prophet in the words:
Surely God will raise for this nation [i.e. Muslims], at the
head of every century a person who will renew the religion [i.e. mujaddid
Thus, in accordance with this Saying, just as there arose reformers for
the Shariah (the formal side of the teachings of Islam) in
every century, so did there arise reformers for the Tariqat (the
spiritual side of Islam) in one century or another. This is borne out
by history and actual events.
(Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab ul-Malahim)
In accordance with this Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, at the
head of the fourteenth century of the Muslim calendar (which ran from
1883 to 1979 C.E.), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced:
This humble servant is the reformer [mujaddid] of both
the Shariah and the Tariqat.
Being the reformer of Tariqat as well, he, like the previous reformers
and Sufis, not only used the standard terminology of Tariqat and
Tasawwuf (Sufi-ism) in his books, but also discussed at length
the most intricate points and delicate secrets of these spiritual sciences,
in order that the students and devotees of Tariqat also benefit
from his work of reform. But the hollow scholars of the Shariah
and the half-baked Sufis could not fathom these secrets of Divine Knowledge,
and rose to oppose and persecute Hazrat Mirza. There was no allegation
they did not level against him, and no pain and suffering they did not
cause him and his followers. Had they understood these fine points and
subtle secrets of spirituality, they would not have engaged in this opposition.
If they had gone through the Holy Quran, the Hadith, and some work of
the classical religious authorities, they would not have found it difficult
to comprehend these deeper issues of the Shariah and Tariqat.
When we read the books and the sayings of Sufi saints and elders of
Islam of old, it is discovered that some of them referred to themselves
as Mary, some as son of Mary, some as Abraham, some as Moses, some as
Muhammad and Ahmad (peace be upon him), etc. There have been those who
called themselves prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul),
and those who asked their disciples to use their name in the Kalima,
the Islamic formula of faith. We also see that all the terms of Tasawwuf
such as fana fir-rasul, zill, burooz, etc. which Hazrat Mirza
has used in his books, have been coined by the Sufis of earlier times.
None of these terms by which the saints are referred to as metaphorical
prophets or images of prophets, etc. were devised
by Hazrat Mirza. This evidence of facts cannot be denied.
Below we take a look at the sayings and reports of those Sufi saints
and religious elders of earlier times whose impeccability, reputation
and authority are recognised by Muslims all over the world. If Hazrat
Mirzas explanations of the truths of Tariqat are studied
in the light of these sayings, there remains no difficulty in understanding
these terms of Tasawwuf.
1. Hazrat Ali (d. 661 C.E.)
The fourth Caliph, one of the most revered figures in Islam, said:
I am the dot under the letter b of Bismilla
[Bismilla In the name of God a well-known
Muslim expression, begins with the letter b which in Arabic
has a dot under it]. I am that aspect of God about which you have
been indifferent. I am the Pen, I am the Guarded Tablet, I am the
Throne, I am the Chair, I am the seven heavens and the earths.
The expressions referred to, e.g. pen (qalm), Guarded
Tablet (luh), etc., are all used in the Holy Quran, denoting
Gods attributes such as His power and knowledge.
(Preface to Sharh Fusoos al-Hukm, Section 8, p. 32, by Shaikh
Dawud ibn Mahmud al-Qaisari)
2. Imam Jafar Sadiq (d. 765 C.E.)
A great-grandson of Hazrat Imam Husain, and the sixth Imam of the Shiahs,
We are the prayer that is mentioned in the Book of God. We
are the charity, we are the fasting, we are the Pilgrimage, we are
the sacred months, we are the holy land, we are the Kaba
[central mosque of Muslim world in Makka], we are the qibla
[direction faced when praying], we are the face of God,
we are the signs and we are the clear signs.
All the terms used here, such as sacred months, qibla, signs, etc.
are taken from the Holy Quran.
(Kitab Mazhar al-Ajaib fin-Nakt wal-Gharaib,
published 1350 A.H.)
3. Abu Yazid Bustami (d. 874 C.E.)
The following is recorded about this early Persian saint:
- He said: People think that I am person like them, but if they
were to see my attributes in the spiritual world they would die. I
am like the river the depth of which is unknown, and so is its source
A man asked him, What is the arsh [throne of
God]. He said, I am that. He asked, What is the Kursi [lit.
chair, or knowledge of God]. He replied, I am that. People said
that there had been many righteous servants of God, such as Abraham,
Moses and the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He said, I am all of them.
They then asked about the angels Gabriel, Michael, Israfeel and
Izraeel. He said, I am all of them as well. The questioner was silent.
Abu Yazid added: If a man be totally lost in God, since God is everything
he will see in himself everything.
(Tazkirat al-Auliya or Memoirs of the Saints, Urdu edition,
ch. 14, p. 146)
- It was put to him that on the Day of Judgment, everyone would
be gathered under the banner of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He replied:
By God! my banner will rise higher than the Holy Prophets
banner. All people and prophets will be gathered under it. There
is no like of me in heaven, nor anyone of my attributes on earth.
My attributes are hidden in the Unseen [God]. How can such a one
be a man? Nay, he is the tongue of Truth [God], and the speaker
is the Truth [God] Himself. From Me he speaks, from Me
he hears, from Me he sees. Therefore, it is God Who speaks
through the tongue of Abu Yazid. He it is Who has said: My banner
is higher than the banner of Muhammad, peace be upon him. For the
flag of God is much higher than the flag of the Holy Prophet. Since
you allow that the words I am surely God can
come from a tree, you should also allow that the words My
banner is higher than that of Muhammad and Glory
be to Me, how great is My dignity should issue forth from
the tree of the mind of Abu Yazid.
(ibid., p. 151)
(Note: The reference in the words From
Me he speaks ... is to a hadith according to which God has
said: When I love a man, I am the Hearing with which he hears,
I am the Sight with which he sees, I am the Hands with which he
holds, and I am the Feet with which he walks Bukhari
81:38. The reference to the words I am surely God coming
from a tree is to the well-known incident of Moses hearing the voice
saying I am surely God, the Lord of the worlds coming
from a bush or tree, as recorded in the Quran, 28:30. Abu Yazid
here explains that just as that voice was not the voice of the tree
itself, but God speaking through it, similarly his pronouncement
was really the voice of God.)
- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi, world-renowned mystical poet of Persia, sings
of Abu Yazid:
That glorious dervish Abu Yazid came to his disciples and said
I am God,
This perfect spiritual leader, in the state of spiritual intoxication,
declared there is no God but me, so serve me,
In other words, in my robe there is none but God, so how long
will you search for Him in heaven and earth.
(Miftah al-Ulum, pp. 25, 36, vol. 12, section 4,
4. Abu Bakr Shibli (d. 945 C.E.)
It is recorded of this famous Iraqi saint:
- Shaikh Shibli asked his student: Do you bear witness that
I am Muhammad, the Messenger of God? The student bore witness to it.
(Saif ar-Rabbani, p. 100)
- Have you not considered this, that when the Holy Prophet
Muhammad appeared in the form of Shibli, he [Shibli] said to a student
of his who was a recipient of visions: Bear witness that I am the
Messenger of God. So the student said: I bear witness that you are
indeed the Messenger of God. This is not something unlawful and wrong.
It is just as a sleeping man [in a dream] sees one person in the form
of another. And a low-ranking type of vision is one where what a person
sees in a dream he sees while awake.
(Al-Insan al-Kamil, vol. ii, p. 46, by Abdul Qadir Jilli.
See also the Urdu translation by Maulavi Fazal Miran, published
by Nafees Academy, Karachi, 4th ed., 1980, pp. 388, 389. See also
the English translation in R. A. Nicholsons Studies in
Mysticism, Cambridge University Press, 1980, p. 105)
- Two men went to enter into the discipleship of Abu Bakr Shibli.
He said to one of them: Say, There is no God but Allah, and
Shibli is His Messenger. The man uttered the expression
of la haul wa la [somewhat equivalent to God forbid!].
Shibli did the same. The man asked him why he had uttered la haul.
Shibli asked him why he had done it. The man said, I uttered it because
I had come to become the disciple of such a violator of the religion.
Shibli replied: I uttered it because I divulged such a subtle secret
to an ignorant man. He then called the second man and asked him to
repeat: There is no God but Allah, and Shibli is His Messenger.
He said: I had thought that you were of a high rank, but you are content
merely with messengership of God. Shibli laughed and said: I will
So each persons comprehension and understanding is
different. It was the same point which one man could not take in,
and he rejected it, while the other had superior understanding.
Shibli had not meant what the outward-looking man had thought. The
fact is that the person who is the teacher, guide and mentor, is
the Messenger for the student and performs the function of the Divine
(Tazkira Ghausiyya, by Maulana Shah Gul Hasan, p. 315,
and Miftah al-Ashiqeen, p. 16)
5. Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani (d. 1166 C.E.)
He is a world-renowned Iraqi saint, of household fame in the Muslim world
- The following spiritual experience was related by him:
God gave me the blessing of attending at Madina. One day
I was busy in the remembrance of God in solitude when He took me
from this world and from my own self, and then returned me. And
I was saying: Had Moses been alive he would have obeyed
me. This was as if I was the author [of the Saying], and
not as relating this Saying. So I knew that this was due to me being
drawn away by God. I was effaced [fana] in the Holy Prophet,
and at that time I was not just so-and-so [i.e. Abdul Qadir], but
I was certainly Muhammad. Otherwise, what I had said would merely
have been relating something from the Holy Prophet.
(Saif ar-Rabbani by Sayyid Muhammad Makki, published in
Bombay, p. 100)
The words Had Moses been alive he would have obeyed me
are a Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
- He writes in a poem:
I was in the higher world with the light of Muhammad, In
Gods secret knowledge was my prophethood.
(From poem known as Qasida Ruhi)
- Prophethood in its outward sense has gone, but in terms of
its essence it will continue till the Day of Judgment. Otherwise,
why should there always be forty saints on the earth? Aspects of prophethood
are to be found in some of them, whose hearts are like those of prophets.
From among them are khalifas of God and of His messengers on
(Faiz Subhani, Sayings of Abdul Qadir Jilani, published
in Delhi, p. 122)
- Pity be on you! You run away from me, while I am your guard.
My house offers you protection, otherwise you would be destroyed.
O ignorant one! first perform the pilgrimage to me and then perform
the pilgrimage to the House of God. I am the door to the Kaba
[central Muslim mosque in Makka], come to me and I will show you how
to perform the pilgrimage.
(Waz Mahboob Subhani, p. 235, Urdu translation of
Fath ar-Rabbani wal-faiz ar-Rahmani)
- Sainthood is the zill [reflection or image] of prophethood,
and prophethood is the zill of Divinity.
(Bihjat al-Israr, p. 83)
- The following is part of a poem by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani:
Though your rank is high, but mine will ever be higher than
I am a falcon for every spiritual guide and my flight is high,
is there any other man granted the like of me,
God informed me of an ancient secret, and gave me all that I
He made me head of all the saints, my order is in force every
If I reveal my secret to the oceans they would all become dry,
If I manifest my secret to the mountain, it would crumble and
be as sand,
If I show my secret to the dead, it would rise to life by the
power of God,
If I reveal my secret to fire, it would cool down and be put
The passing of months and years is not without my command, they
come to me first and then pass,
They inform me of all the news of the world, so you should stop
your arguments and debates with me,
All the lands of God are under my authority, and my time has
been cleaned for me before my heart,
When I looked at all the lands of God, they amounted to but
So who among the saints is like me, who can compete with me
in knowledge and power,
Every saint is in the footsteps of some prophet, I am in the
footsteps of the Holy Prophet, the perfect moon.
(From poem known as Qasida Ghausiyya)
- I am much beyond your intellects. So do not measure me by
anyone, nor measure anyone by me.
(Futuh al-Ghaib, p. 22)
- People have their spiritual guides [Shaikh], the Jinn have
their spiritual guides, and the angels have their spiritual guides.
But I am the spiritual guide for them all.
(Bihjat al-Israr, p. 23)
- God reveals wonderful types of knowledge to the heart of
the great man. He discloses to him such secrets as He conceals from
others. He honours him, draws him to Himself, guides him to the doors
of His nearness, and opens his heart for the acceptance of knowledge
and secrets. He makes him His warner to the people and a sign of God
among them. He makes him a guide as well as the guided one [mahdi].
He makes him an intercessor with God as well as one whose intercession
is accepted. He makes him one of the truthful ones and the saints,
who are the substitutes for prophets and messengers.
(Futuh al-Ghaib, discourse no. 33)
6. Farid-ud-Din Attar (d. 1220 C.E.)
He was the author of Mantaq al-Tair and Tazkirat al-Auliya,
which have been translated into English by British orientalists. In a
poetic verse, he says:
I am free from spite, arrogance and greed,
I am God, I am God, I am God.
(Fawaid Faridiyya, translation, p. 85)
7. Shaikh Shahab-ud-Din Suharwardy (d. 1234 C.E.)
Founder of one of the four chief Sufi orders, he wrote:
No other prophet could share with the Holy Prophet Muhammad
his rank of mahmood [or eminence, mentioned in the Holy Quran
17:79]. But saints from among his followers can share this rank.
(Hadiyya Mujaddidiyya, p. 70)
8. Shaikh Muhiyud-Din Ibn Arabi (d. 1240 C.E.)
This renowned saint, known as the great spiritual leader,
- I am the Quran and the Fatiha [opening chapter of the
I am the spirit of the spirit, not the spirit of vessels.
(Fatuhat Makkiyya, Part I, p. 1)
- And as it happened with our spiritual guide when people said
to him, You are Jesus, son of Mary, so cure this man.
(ibid., vol. i, p. 199)
9. Shams-ud-Din of Tabriz (d. 1248 C.E.)
This Persian saint, who was a great influence on Rumi, wrote the following
I am the spirit that was breathed into Mary, I am the soul
that was the life of Jesus,
I know that there is none but me, I am within life and outside
Shibli and Mansur [two saints] prostrate before me, that is
to say, I am in between these and those,
I was with Noah in the ark and with Joseph in the well, I was
in the breath of Jesus, I am the old lover,
When the accursed Pharoah was being drowned, I was in the party
of Moses, I am the old lover,
When Adam was not, I was; when the world was not, I was; life
was not, but I was; I am the old lover.
(Kuliyyat Shams Tabrizi, pages 292 and 508)
10. Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (d. 1273 C.E.)
This world-famous author of Masnawi, whose works have been translated
into English, and whose poetry is widely studied and quoted in India,
Pakistan and Iran, wrote the following lines:
The sayings and claims reproduced above are from those great leaders of
Islamic thought, and saints of impeccable repute, whose piety, righteousness
and devotion to the Holy Prophet Muhammad have been widely recognised
by the Muslim world in every age. No Muslim of learning can doubt their
saintliness and their close ties with God. If the opponents of the Ahmadiyya
Movement would study, in the light of the writings of these saints, Hazrat
Mirza Ghulam Ahmads explanations of the fine and intricate points
of Sufi-ism and the issues arising in Tariqat, they would not have
the least doubt about his truthfulness.
- Dont give your hand into anyones but that of the
perfect spiritual guide, for his hand is the Truth so take hold of
When you give your hand into his hand, you will be saved from
the wild beasts.
Then your hand will be like that of those [Companions of the
Holy Prophet] who took the pledge,
So that the hand of God was over their hands,
When you give your hand into the hand of your spiritual guide,
because he well knows the religion of Islam,
For, O disciple! he is the prophet of his time, for the Holy
Prophet Muhammads light is manifested through him.
(Miftah al-Ulum, a commentary on the Masnawi,
Quraishi Book Agency, Lahore, vol. 13, p. 152)
- In the path of virtue be anxious to serve humanity, so that
you may attain prophethood within the Muslim nation. (ibid.,
I am Jesus, but he who is raised to life by my breath will live
The dead raised by Jesus died again, fortunate is he who gives
himself up to this Jesus.
(ibid., vol. 7, p. 45)
- If the veil be lifted from souls, each one would cry I
(ibid., vol. 2, p. 247)
- Whether the word of God comes from behind a veil or otherwise,
He grants that thing with which He blessed Mary.
(ibid., vol. 1, p. 11)
(The reference here is to revelation from God, which was given
to Mary too. From behind the veil refers to the verse
of the Quran, discussed in Section 4, which mentions the three modes
- O people, I am Noahs ark in this river; Dont
turn away from this boat. (ibid., vol. 12, p. 268)
- Consider every saint to be Noah and the ships master,
and consider the company of the people of this world to be the flood.
(ibid., vol. 12, p. 122)
- Remember that the saints are the Israfeel [name of
angel who raises the dead to life] of the age. Through them the dead
hearts receive life and upbringing.
(ibid., vol. 1, p. 10)
- The saints are the children of God, they know this while
in absence or presence,
He who aspires to reach God, let him sit in the company of saints,
If you are far removed from the company of saints, You are really
far removed from God.
Statements of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad about the Sufi Saints
- Of all the leaders of Tasawwuf that there have
been till the present day, not even one has disagreed with the point
that in this religion the path to become the likes of prophets is
open, as the Holy Prophet Muhammad has given the glad tidings for
spiritual and godly learned persons that the Ulama of my
nation are like the Israelite Prophets. The words of Abu
Yazid Bustami given below, which are recorded in Tazkirat al-Auliya
by Farid-ud-Din Attar, and are also found in other reliable works,
are on this basis, as he says: I am Adam, I am Seth, I am
Noah, I am Abraham, I am Moses, I am Jesus, I am Muhammad, peace be
upon him and upon all these brothers of his. (Izala
Auham, pp. 258 259)
- We can prove to every seeker-after-truth, conclusively and
definitely, that from the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad till the
present day there have been, in every century, godly persons through
whom God has shown heavenly signs to other communities to guide them
[towards Islam]. There have been in Islam persons such as Sayyid Abdul
Qadir Jilani, Abul Hasan Khartani, Abu Yazid Bustami, Junaid of Baghdad,
Muhiyud-Din Ibn Arabi, Zul-Noon of Egypt, Muin-ud-Din Chishti,
Qutub-ud-Din Bukhtiar, Farid-ud-Din of Pak Patan, Nizam-ud-Din of
Delhi, Shah Wali-ullah of Delhi, and Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind. The
number of such persons runs into thousands, and the miracles of so
many people are recorded in scholarly and learned works that even
a prejudiced opponent, despite his great bias, has to concede finally
that these persons showed miracles and extraordinary signs.
(Kitab al-Barriyya, p. 67)