The Al-Sulh Khair announcement
There are some people who criticize Hazrat Mirza now for using a stern tone in his discourse with the maulvis (religious clerics).
In his defense, it must be said that the stern tone was forced upon Hazrat Mirza by the actions of the clerics themselves. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran: “Allah loves not the public utterance of hurtful speech, except by one who has been wronged” (4:148). That is, if a person is made the object of abuse, and subjected to harsh language, then it is excusable if he responds in a like manner because thatperson is in the category of the oppressed.
It is a fact that Hazrat Mirza was the target of abusive tirades on a daily basis. In fact, if the newspapers, announcements, writings, and speeches wherein Hazrat Mirza was vilified were collected, they would easily fill an entire office.
In addition, letters personallyaddressed to Hazrat Mirza arrived almost daily that were similarly replete with filthy abuses. A singular aspect of these letters was thatmany of them arrived without any postage, on a recipient-to-pay basis; so you spend money and get subjected to abuse! Later on, for this very reason, Hazrat Mirza stopped accepting such letters that arrived in the mail on a recipient-to-pay basis.
Once Hazrat Mirza started keeping these abusive letters and in a few days the hate mail had filled a full sack. Finally, he hadthem burnt, realizing that it was futile to keep a record of this hate mail. As for the clerics, they did not hesitate from using even the mostobscene abuses.
If a little harshness did creep into Hazrat Mirza’s writings when responding to such clerics, then it is only a humanreaction. After all, during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), were not the sword-brandishing enemies who besieged the Muslims repelled by the sword?
Similarly, when the poets of Arabia started satirizing Prophet Muhammad, hedirected Hazrat Hassaan bin Thabit to respond to those poets. In fact, a pulpit was provided in the Masjid Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque) for this purpose. This was done because it was finally considered necessary to respond to the derision bythose poets.
The fact of the matter is that the appointees of God are forced to respond as a result of the gross actions of those who reject and vilify them.
Initially, Hazrat Mirza dealt very gently with such people. Hazrat Mirza would present the truth before his opponents under oath and call God and Prophet Muhammad as his witnesses that he was telling the truth. But his opponents responded only with abuses and invectives. So he was compelled to adopt a certain degree of sternness in his tone when responding to the clerics.
Yet whatever stern language he used, he did so with great reluctance, and only in response to the invectives of his opponents. Hazrat Mirzanever once initiated this harshness; in his work Haqiqat-ul-Wahy (page 20), he observed the following sentiment:
My way of responding to all opponents is the same. There is none that can prove that I ever preempted any of my opponents in the usage of harsh words. Maulvi Muhammad Husain Batalvi brazenly branded me as the Antichrist. He engineered the decree of disbelief against me and got thousands of maulvis in Punjab and India to hurl abuses at me.
I was declared to be worse than the Jews and the Christians. He called me a liar, transgressor, Antichrist, falsifier, thug, sinner, and a cheat. It was then that God put into my heart that I should defend myself against these statements with a good intention. I do not oppose anyone based on personal motivation. I desire to do good to all, but what can I do when someone exceeds the bounds?
My lawful requital is with God.These clerics have given me nothing but grief and sorrow. They have continued to make me the object of their scorn, derision and satire.
In summary, Hazrat Mirza was never the one to initiate any type of harshness. Rather, he was the person who tried repeatedly to put an end to the harsh outbursts from the clerics in the hope that this would obviate the need to respond with sternness. With this motivation, Hazrat Mirza published on March 5, 1901 an impassioned proclamation. This announcement was titled Al-Sulh Khair (Reconciliation is Better), and it was sent to the attention of all religious scholars.
A perusal of Al-Sulh Khair reveals how personally painful it was for Hazrat Mirza to respond to his opponents in a stern tone, and how he wished with his heart that the clerics should refrain from using harshness in their speeches and writings so that he may not have to use harsh language in response:
O scholars of the nation who call me a liar and disbeliever, or are unsure about me, today, the thought occurred to me again that Ishould request you once more for a reconciliation.
By reconciliation, I do not mean that I want to compel you to profess the beliefs that I hold, or that I intend to alter my beliefs that are informed by the insight that has been granted to me by God. Instead, what I mean by reconciliation here is that the parties solemnly pledge that they, and all people under their respective spheres of influence, shall hitherto abstain from using harsh language and shall not attack the honor of their opponent in any speech or writing or through a sarcastic gesture. If any person from either of the two groups goes to attend the gathering of the opposing group, then the opposing group shall behave with courtesy towards that person inaccordance with the dictates of civility and politeness.
Further in that same proclamation, Hazrat Mirza commented:
I have arranged that no member of my Organization shall publish any article in writing or give a speech that has as its intent the ridicule or disparagement of any of you gentlemen.
This arrangement shall be fully enforced as soon as an announcement ispublished by you gentlemen that in future you will act in a responsible manner and that you, and people under your influence or people who can be considered as being under your influence, shall abstain from all sorts of abusiveness, satire and derision. This new agreement shall in future provide proof as to which party exceeds the limit. This agreement does not prevent you fromwriting rebuttals with civility, nor can we be deprived of this method.
But it shall be obligatory upon both parties to refrain fromusing foul language and slander. I shall be delighted when I receive a published announcement from your quarters. We shall beginobserving the aforementioned directives from that very day onwards.
Practically, there is no better way to put an end to this internal strife. As for the future, the party that is supported by God shall gain ascendancy by itself. The truth alights in this world as only a trifling seed. Then it gradually grows into a magnificent tree that bears fruit and flowers, and birds that love the truth alight and perch in that tree, find- ing solace therein.
Hazrat Mirza offered in this announcement that if his opponents did not want to enter into a long-term agreement, they should at least consider a three year moratorium on the use of foul language.
But the clerics were not willing to hold their tongues for even three hours. So it was no surprise that this announcement proved to be only a cry in the wilderness. The sermons of those clerics, their speeches, their writings, their private conversations and communications continued to remain replete with abusiveness and mockery of Hazrat Mirza. The clerics and their followers simply could not relinquish their shameless activities. Instead of embracing HazratMirza’s proposal for reconciliation, the clerics only augmented the torrent of abuse gushing forth from their quarter.
Samples of the clerics’ invective
Some contemporary critics seek out a single sentence from Hazrat Mirza’s writings and use it to allege that Hazrat Mirza was disrespectful of the opposing clerics. They conveniently forget to examine the writings and speeches of the clerics of that era. A perusal of these writings brings to mind the sentiments expressed by the famous Indian poet Ghalib in the following verses:
Even a sigh from us results in our fall into disrepute;
While there is not the slightest commotion even if they commit mur- der!
A full record of the invective in the speeches of the clerics would sure- ly be found in their Book of Deeds which shall be opened on the Day of Judgment.
But even a cursory review of the vituperations in their writings is enough to fill many volumes, and show to any researcher the amount of filth these clerics hurled at Hazrat Mirza. I present below a sample of the writings of only five clerics from the vast multitude of clerics engaged in disparaging Hazrat Mirza.
A sample of the writings of Maulvi Muhammad Husain Batalvi taken from just one year is presented first:
- Invective by Maulvi Muhammad Husain Batalvi:
Hidden enemy of Islam; the second Musaylimah the Liar; Antichrist of the age; astrologer; soothsayer; fortune-teller; the assembler of amulets and charms; addict; indecent prattler; his declaration of death as a heavenly sign is foolishness and infernal; deceitful; liar; fraud; accursed; insolent; transgressor; rude; the like of Antichrist; traitor; cunning trouble-maker; falsifier; disreputable and frustrated; accursed and faithless; black soul; the like of Musaylimah Kazzab and Aswad; guide of the infidels and heretics; deserving medals of reproach; the object of thousands of reproaches from God, the angels, and the Muslims; tyrant; falsifier before God, whose revelations are wet-dreams; habitual liar; accursed; disbeliever; deceitful manipulator; fake; faithless; shameless; impostor; deceitful; the leader of drug addicts and vagabonds; atheist; worse than all the idiots of the world; tutored by the devil; hobo; filthy person; has the disposition of beasts and savages; pervert; Jew; Brother of the Christians; lost soul; dacoit; blood-thirsty; brazen; cheat; crafty; his mentor is the accursed devil; impostor; con artist; his party consists of rascals; cunning; deceitful liar; adulterer, alcoholic, swindler of other’s property; fraudster; ensnares Muslims and loots and devours their wealth; to say this during questions and answers is a sign of rascality; unmannered followers.
(Culled from the 1893 issues of Ishaat-ul-Sunnah.)
- Maligning by Maulvi Abdul Haq Ghaznavi:
Antichrist; heretic; liar; black soul; bad character; devil; accursed; faith- less; frustrated; afflicted and depraved; disbeliever; eternally wretched; the yoke of curses is his necklace; taunts and curses rained on his head; resorts to incorrect interpretations; he will kill himself by poisoning out of shame; talks gibberish; disgraced; contemptible; was put to shame; may Allah’s curse be upon him; publisher of false announcements and proclamations; everything that he says is utter nonsense.
(The preceding invective is to be found in the proclamation titled Darb- al-Naal ala wajh-al-Dajjal, which literally means Striking the Face of the Antichrist with Shoes.)
- Abusive language used by Maulvi Saadullah Ludhianvi:
Qadiani heretic; irreligious; Antichrist; Yazeed; his disciples have the disposition of Yazeed; wretch; trouble-maker; cruel; destructive; black soul; shameless; idiot; outcast; liar; jester; absurd talker; avaricious, wicked liar; unbeliever; falsifier; jackass ofthe Antichrist; infidel; indis- creet chatterer; uncultured and vain; polytheistic-minded man; his entire town is accursed; his acts of deception, craftiness, and soothsaying are manifest; his books will oust religion and faith.
(From the poem, Haqqani-Musammi-ba Asrar-Qadiani. Shaaban 23, 1333 Hijrah.)
It may be noted here that the abuse that has been presented in the pre- ceding excerpt is from a single proclamation, which was considerably more civilized than some of the other proclamations and letters of Maulvi Saadullah Ludhianvi, which are replete with such obscene and abusive lan- guage that no decent person can listen to them, much less write such filth. For this reason, I (the author)have avoided presenting excerpts from them.
- Condemnations by Maulvi Muhammad Raza Al-Shiraazi Al-Ghurvi of the Shiite sect:
Mirza is a liar; falsifier; babbler; wrecker; deceiver; pillager; dim-wit- ted; lost; foolish; deceptive; absurd; liar, fraud; shameless; a disgrace to mankind; founder of a nation that innovates (in religion); conceals the truth; inviter to an evil group; has a recklessnature; rejected from God’s presence; has strayed from the straight path; ill-natured; wanderer of the wildernesses; idle-talker; has sunk into the abysmal pit of error, and lies trapped in the cauldron of misdirection; enslaved by haughtiness and arrogance;inclined to foolish talk; his party is in moral error and misdirection; his communications are completely absurd and foolish; Mirza is disturbed and wretched; his sayings are idle and nonsensical, and he has gone astray; his writings are senseless; his mind is foul; per- verseness and insolence are his ideals; he brings slander and obscenity; presents false and erroneous arguments; he has only evil and disgrace- ful arguments; this liar will be consigned to hell; the darkness, disbelief and sedition prevailing in the world is entirely because of him.
(From the proclamation Buut-Shikkan (idol-breaker or iconoclast) pub- lished in Qamar Al-Hind.)
- Nonsensical statements made by Maulvi Sanaullah of Amritsar:
The great Antichrist; slinking devil; Mirza’s spiritual father is Sir Syed Ahmad; Mirza is skilled at deceiving people; magician of Qadian; the blackness of tar is upon the face of the soothsayer of Qadian; the soul of the magician of Qadian is utterly blackened; Hazrat jackass; my life has been fouled by the existence of Mirza; he is Christ, son of Mary, and son of Genghis Khan; Mirza’s revelations are like farts that foul the air; self- ish; wicked; disreputable; abominable; look! that coward ran away in humiliation; he took one hit to his person and ran away; there runs that Qadiani magician; the Mirzai mission is totally based upon falsehood,slander, treachery, deceit, and this mission is in fact founded upon all the deceptive practices to be found in the world; Mirza is an apostate; Qadiani liar; cruel, oppressive, heartless liar; traitor; enemy of the faith; faithless infidel; hell-bound; heretic; idol seller; possessor of a black- ened soul; fortune-teller; sly strategist who deceives others; the supervisor of the deceptive Mirza is Sir SyedAhmad; mean tavern-keep- er; slanderer and liar who has an ignominious mission; Hazrat liar; I consider you (Hazrat Mirza) as the transgressing, accursed, and lying Antichrist; Is there any doubt left that you are the transgressing, accursed, and lying Antichrist?You are an abject deceiver and Antichrist; deranged jackal; transgressor; O Antichrist, you and your shamelessness! O cruel and extravagant man, blinded in one eye, you are a prodigal and a liar! Mirza’s condition is like that of a street singer; Mirza’s revelation is akin to the corpse of Mullah Doh Piazah (name of a clever and comic jester of the Mughal king Akbar); personification of all the deceptions in the world; a monkey-trainer; Mirza, the Pharaoh Qadiani; his arrogance and pride have even disgraced the devil, so as to imprison him in the jail of accursedness; ill-fated and infernal denizen of eternal hell; perfidious charlatan; thief and plunderer; the second Musaylima the liar; he has placed all his revelations in feces; Mirza is nothing but a steamboat of lies; utterly materialistic man; accursed; his mischief was so infernal that no matter who happened to be in political power at that time, he would turn the dignitaries into Antichrists; narrator of absurdities; windbag; foolish words and lies are his specialty; worthy of being called a jackass; listen to this madman; he is a Musaylima and Aswad with a black soul; shameless devil; he is like the cat that dreams of fine meat; polytheist; transgressor; he has digressed from the path of righteousness; Mirzaigibberish has come to naught; the changing colors of this Messiah would put a lowly chameleon to shame; despicable liar; despicable Antichrist, utterly shameless, and is a despicable traitor; he is a despicable and scheming man; despicable slanderer ofthe word of God; in summary, he has exceeded everybody through his despicable and sordid qualities; the words liar and cheat cannot do justice to the Mirzai qualities; there are obstinate and shameless people in the world, but your shamelessness has outdone them all; it is a well- established tradition of yours to run away like a jackal; tyrant and Antichrist; atheist; falsifier of the word of God; he utters foolish and misleading talk; his dreams are actually meaningless nightmares; old and insane man; the soleson of Sir Syed.
Hazrat Mirza wrote about the clerics only in self-defense
If Maulvi Sanaullah’s papers, Ahl-e-Hadith and Muraqqa-e-Qadiani, are examined, one finds them replete with a storm ofabusive gutter language directed at Hazrat Mirza. Other newspapers of the time such as Paisa Akhbar (issued from Lahore), Shahna-e-Hind, Meerut, and others, were no better, and continued their vituperations against Hazrat Mirza. If the proclamations and journals ofthe time published by the clerics from cities such as Amritsar, Ludhiana, and Delhi are investigated, one finds an endless series of decrees of heresy and apostasy, curses and abuses against Hazrat Mirza. If the recol- lections of people who lived in that era are listenedto, one learns how Hazrat Mirza was lampooned and derided in sermons and meetings, with the speak- ers sometimes breaking out intolyrics and acting out their narrations.
If the court records of the time are examined, one will observe how the clerics deviously conspired with the dangerous enemies ofIslam, such as the Christian priests and the Arya Samajists (members of the Arya Samaj sect of Hinduism) to hatch intrigues against Hazrat Mirza, and how they prepared false witnesses to testify against Hazrat Mirza in legal cases. It is ironic that the clerics complain nowthat Hazrat Mirza addressed the respected scholars in a harsh tone. My reply is that these were the same “respected scholars” or moreappropriately “evil scholars” who employed barbaric language to torment Hazrat Mirza. If after bearing this verbal abuse to the extenthumanly possible, he retaliated with some harsh language then was it not a natural human reac- tion? After all, being totally shameless isno part of higher moral values.
But in responding to the clerics, Hazrat Mirza never stooped to the level of those foul-mouthed people — no decent person can stoop that low. However, his writings did acquire a measure of harshness at times which was a natural human response to being subjected to incessant abusive language. It was only under these vexing circumstances that Hazrat Mirza wrote cer- tain statements which were based on facts. Even so, he did not make any personal attacks on anyone, but only exposed the general lamentable condi- tion of theclerics to some extent.
Verdict of Prophet Muhammad
People should not be surprised by Hazrat Mirza’s description of the lamentable condition of the clerics because Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself decried the condition of the Muslim religious scholars of the last era, and left us a statement of their condition in his own blessed words. There is much food for thought in these words for men who care toreflect. Prophet Muhammad said:
Their (religious) scholars would be the worst creation under heaven. Mischief would emanate from them and return to them.1
The choice of words that Prophet Muhammad used to express his condem- nation of the religious scholars of this age i.e., “the worst creation under heaven,” is such that no one can come up with words that can express a stronger condemnation. But these were not the only words of condemnation Prophet Muhammad had for the (religious) scholars of this age. He also had the following to say about them:
There shall come a time of perturbation upon my Ummat (community). In that time of perturbation, people shall turn to their (religious) schol- ars, but at that time their (religious) scholars would have become monkeys and swine.2
The reader can observe that when God appointed Hazrat Mirza as a reformer, strife broke out in the ranks of the Muslim nation, and Muslims became perturbed – not knowing which side was in the right. In this state of perturbation they instinctively turned to their scholars, but found them in the condition described in the hadith above – there is no need for me to repeat the words of the hadith again.
The Al-Sulh Khair pronouncement did not have any effect
In the proclamation Al-Sulh Khair, Hazrat Mirza pleaded with the clerics for a cessation of uncivil language, and urged gentleness and civility in their mutual discourse. He also suggested that his proposal should be put into effect at least for threeyears, if not on a permanent basis. He opined that during this period of respite, reflection with a cool mind would manifest thetruth. But the clerics were completely unwilling to accept Hazrat Mirza’s suggestion. It was their strategy to drown out HazratMirza’s call to truth by their clamor and abuses. However, it is pure folly to even think that the light lit by God can ever be put out by the blows from their mouths. The blaring abusive language and the harsh and grating cries targeted at falsifying HazratMirza served only as a fertilizer for the plant of Hazrat Mirza’s Movement; and this was a blessing from Allah.
- Al-Bukhari fi Shuab al-Iman.
- Kanz al Ummal, vol.7, page 190.