CHAPTER 68: PAIGHAM-E-SULH (MESSAGE OF PEACE)

Uncommon steadfastness of the Ahmadis

After the demise of Hazrat Mirza, his opponents thought that it would be easy to make the Ahmadis disavow their beliefs. To achieve this objective, the opponents assembled all their objections and nonsensical arguments and launched a concerted attack on members of the Ahmadiyya Organization. Newspapers like Paisa AkhbarAhl-e-Hadith, and others launched an anti- Ahmadi blitz of objections and slander.

The opponents used every tactic available to them in their speeches and writings to dislodge the Ahmadis fromtheir organization, but Allah, merely out of His mercy, put the hearts of Ahmadis at peace and blessed them with tranquility and serenity.

I cannot speak for the occasional Ahmadi who may have deserted, but there was not even the slightest weakening in the resolveof the Organization’s members as a whole. They listened with great patience and steadfastness to the objections raised by theopponents, and then replied with great seriousness and sensibleness. At the same time, the Ahmadis initiated a mighty striving to sustain the work of safeguarding and propagating Islam that their leader, the Reformer (mujaddid) of the era, had launched.

Objective of Paigham-e-Sulh

The first item taken up by the Ahmadi Organization after the demise of Hazrat Mirza was to deliver a message of peace that he had wanted to give to the Hindu nation during his own life. Hazrat Mirza understood that India could not achieve independence unless the Hindus and Muslims became united. According to the injunctions of the Quran, a Muslim cannot make peace with a non-Muslim nation unless he has first safeguarded his rights. The Quran states:

Let not the believers take the disbelievers for friends rather than believers. And whoever does this has no connection with Allah — except that you guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully.(3:28)

Accordingly, when Hazrat Mirza presented the message of peace to the Hindus, he demanded in the capacity of a religious leader the most fundamental right for the Muslims, namely the right to preserve their religion and culture. The method he submitted to effect this preservation was that the Hindus should, as a nation, believe in Prophet Muhammad (peace and bless- ings of Allah be upon him) as a righteous prophet of God, and to completely eschew his disparagement.

So when some Hindu dignitaries of Lahore came to visit Hazrat Mirza, he presented this idea to them and discussed with them his intention of estab- lishing an association with the principal objective of eliminating the mutual conflict between Hindus and Muslims and replacing it with mutual peace and love. This was the objective for which Hazrat Mirza was writing his lecture titled Message ofPeace. The message was scheduled to be read out in a pub- lic gathering on May 31, 1908, but Hazrat Mirza’s demise prevented thelecture from being delivered as planned.

Hazrat Mirza’s method of writing an article

Hazrat Mirza’s method of writing an article was that he would keep the subject on which he was writing in his mind and read theentire Quran to see what the Quran had to say on the subject. He would contemplate and think about the Quranic injunctions on the matter and then write exactly what the Quran had stated, drawing all his arguments and proofs from it as well.

In other words, Hazrat Mirza did not state anything that was a construct of his own mind; whatever he stated was in reality an interpretation and exposition of Quranic verses and injunctions. Hazrat Mirza placed great emphasis on the fact that the Quran itself furnished proof for all the claims it made and it did not look to its votaries to furnish the proofs thereof.

So Hazrat Mirza’s own operating procedure and the advice he gave to others was as follows: Whenever we have to write on a subject, we should search for it in the Quran. The Quran is a complete and detailed book of guidance. It is impossible that it will not have some guidance on the matter. Then hold fast to the guidance you find inthe Quran and present only that to the world. 

And when the Quran gives some guidance, it will not do so without a rational justification.Therefore, we should search for the rationale also from the Quran. Then we should take the rationale given in the Quran, and present it to the world along with our commentary and explanation of it. Because the guidance given by God is true and complete, and the supporting evidence God provides is deci- sive and rational, no one would be able to rebut the position thus adopted. This is the path tosuccess that a striving Muslim should embrace.

When Hazrat Mirza started writing the Message of Peace, he desired also to impress on the Hindus the truth of Islam. For this purpose, Hazrat Mirza, as was his wont, read the whole Quran and recorded the verses he had selected on paper. Since the article was left incomplete because of Hazrat Mirza’s demise, the paper on which the selected verses were written was found with the incomplete manuscript after his death. God alone knows the wisdom and great insight with which Hazrat Mirza was planning to present theseverses to the public.

Announcement of the lecture

The portion of the Message of Peace that had been written contained enough of the message that Hazrat Mirza wanted to convey to the Hindus. So Hazrat Mirza’s disciples decided to convey this message of peace to the Hindus. This work that Hazrat Mirza had sought to carry out in his lifetime would now be done by his representative Organization. 

Keeping this in mind, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din,who was Honorary Secretary of the Central Organization, Qadian, consulted with the Muslim dignitaries and nobles of Lahore. These people were greatly impressed by the luncheon speech that Hazrat Mirza had recently delivered to them and liked Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din’s suggestion.

A public announcement was therefore made in Lahore and other towns of Punjab on behalf of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and a few other Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi gentlemen, which included Barrister Mian Muhammad Shafi and Barrister Mian Fazal-e-Husain. The announcement stated that the last lecture of Hazrat Mirza would be delivered on Sunday, June 21, 1908 at 7:00 A.M. in the University Hall, Lahore.

Message of Peace delivered

Hazrat Mirza’s final lecture, Message of Peace, was printed and read out at the appointed time and venue. It was one of the most magnificent congregations that have been witnessed in the city of Lahore. There were several thousand Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs andChristians in the audience all of whom belonged to the educated and intellectual class.

Many Ahmadis from out of town had also cometo attend the lecture. I was also present in this gathering. Justice Sir Partul Chandar, Chief Court Judge of Punjab, presided. KhwajaKamal-ud-Din delivered the lecture with vigor and distinction.

The subject of the lecture

In this lecture, while commenting on the verse: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds” (1:1), Hazrat Mirza stated that Allahsustains the physical nourishment and development of man, and this blessing is not limited in scope to some specific nation or country. Allah has ordained the sun, the moon, water, etc., on even terms for the benefit of all. 

Similarly, the blessing of His spiritual nourishment and development is all-embracing, and is not limited to a specific nation or country. This is why He has raised prophets and messengers in every nation. Those nations that consider the Divine blessings of spiritual nourishment and development to be confined to their respective nationsare, in fact, treating other nations as if they are not the peo- ple of God, and that God after having created them has discarded them likerubbish or has forgotten them.

Thus, the Jews, Christians, Arya Hindus, and Hindus in general who consider Divine revelation, inspiration and prophet- hood as being specific to their respective nations, are effectively deniers of God as the Nourisher unto perfection of the entire world. In contrast to this, the Quran presents God as the Nourisher unto perfection of the worlds and considers His blessing of nourishment as being equal for all nations. In this regard, the Holy Quran states:

And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them. (35:24)

Hazrat Mirza then stated:

We all know that unity can remove evils and difficulties which are impossible to remove otherwise. It does not behoove any of us, there- fore, to deny ourselves the blessings of unity. Hindus and Muslims are two communities about whom it is impossible toimagine that either of them can, at any time, turn the other out of the country. On the con- trary, the two communities are nowinextricably bound together. 

If one is visited by any general affliction, the other must suffer along with it as well. If one should seek — out of scorn and pride — to bring the other into contempt, then it also cannot escape being brought into sim- ilar contempt. If one does not sympathize with the other, then it shall itself suffer the loss also. If someone belonging to one of the commu- nities does anything to harm the other, he behaves like one who cuts off the branch upon which he is sitting himself …I invite you to peace at a critical time when peace is urgently needed.

After this, Hazrat Mirza observed that the major point of dissension between the Hindus and Muslims is centered arounddifferences in their reli- gion — a Hindu Rajput is apparently antagonistic towards a Muslim Rajput solely because of the latter’s religious affiliation for otherwise they are from the same stock.

However, this animosity could be resolved if the minor dif- ferences are disregarded and a concerted effort is made to remove the real obstacles in the way of religious harmony. This effort requires completely shunning attacks meant to defame and falsify the accepted prophet and revealed Book of the other’s religion. Hazrat Mirza then observed that God’s blessing of sustaining the physical and spiritual nourishment and develop- ment of man is not limited in scope to some specific nation or country and it must be accepted that Godraised prophets and saints and sent Messengers to every nation. In this connection, Hazrat Mirza stated:

We Muslims, on our part, never speak disrespectfully of the prophets of other communities. On the other hand, our belief is that spiritual leaders who lived on this earth among various nations, who have been accepted by many millions of men, who have won the affection and respect of a large portion of humanity, and have been held in esteem for a very long time, were one and all true prophets of God, these cir- cumstances alone being a sufficient evidence of their truth.

If they had not been sent by God, they would not have found acceptance with millions of men. …It is on this principle that we regard the Vedas as from God, and believe the rishis (sages) to have been holy and sacred. It is true that the teachings contained in the Vedas have failed to promotethe worship of the One God, nor were they suited to do so. Idolaters, fire-worshippers, sun-worshippers, Ganges-worshippers, polytheists, followers of Jainism, and professors of the Shaakat Mat, in short all sects of Hinduism that are to be found in India, base their respective creeds on the Vedas, the Vedas apparently being capable of all these divergent interpretations.

Still, our own firm belief, according to the Quranic teaching, is that the Vedas are not a fabrication of man, for a human fabrication does not have the power to draw millions of men to itself and to establish a system that can endure for ages. Though we have not found the Vedas teaching the worship of stones, they teem with inculcations about the worship of fire, air, water, the moon, the sun, and soon, and there is not a single Vedic verse forbidding the wor- ship of such objects. How are we to believe that all the long-established sects of Hinduism who worship these objects are wrong, and only the new born sect of Arya Samaj is right? 

Those who worship these various objects by reference to the Vedas put forward the strong argument that the Vedas clearly mention such worship and never prohibit it. For the Arya Samaj to assert that agni (fire), vayu (air), jal (water), etc., are only names of the Divine Being, is to make a claim for which there is so far no proof.

Had this claim been satisfactorily proven, there is no reason why the learned Pundits of Benares and other Hindu cities would not have accepted the views of the Arya Samaj. Yet despite its exertions for over thirty years few Hindus have accepted the Arya creed and the numbers of the Arya Samaj shrink into insignificance, when compared with the numbers of the Sanatan Dharam and followers of other Hindu sects. Nor do the doctrines of the Arya Samaj seem to have had much influence on the other sects of Hinduism. Similarly the doctrine of niyog1 which is attributed to the Vedas is unacceptable to human honor and decency.

And, as I have already said, we cannot believe this to be the teaching of the Vedas. On the other hand, we are strongly disposed to believe that such teachings were later attributed to the Vedas, or inserted in them, for some ulterior motives. The Vedas being of great antiquity, it is very likely that vari- ous additions and alterations were made in them by Pundits of subsequent generations.

When, in spite of many difficulties and out of the fear of God, we believe the Vedas to be the Divine Word, and attribute its errorsto sub- sequent writers, why should such savage attacks be made on the Holy Quran which teaches the unity of God from beginning to end, which nowhere teaches the worship of the sun, the moon, or any such object, but, on the other hand, says inplain words:

“Do not bow in worship before the sun, nor before the moon, but prostrate yourselves before Allah who created them.” (41:37)

Besides, the Holy Quran has the testimony of Divine signs, old and new, and like a mirror it shows us the face of God. Why do the Arya Samajists not do by us as we do by them? Why is the seed of discord and enmity sown in the land? Do you expect such a seed to bear good fruit? Is it fair dealing to cast stones at one who offers you flowers, and to throw urine at one who holds out milk? 

If, inorder to have perfect peace, the Hindus and the Arya Samajists are prepared to accept our Holy Prophet — may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him — as a true prophet of God, and if they are prepared to give up denying and defaming him, I would be the first person to sign an agreement that we, followers of the Ahmadiyya Movement, will always believe in the Vedas, and will speakof the Vedas and the Rishis with respect and love. 

We will bind ourselves to pay the Hindus a penalty of Rs. 300,000 in case we fail to fulfill the agreement. If Hindus sincerely wish for this peace, they also should sign a similar agreement, in the same terms: “We believe in the messenger- ship and prophethood of Muhammad Mustafa (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!), and regard him as a true prophet and messenger. We will always speak of him with respect and honor as a follower should.

And if we fail to fulfill this agreement we shall pay to the Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement Rs. 300,000 as a penalty for breach of agreement.” The members of the Ahmadiyya Movement now number not less than four hundred thousand, and therefore the sum of Rs. 300,000 is not very large. 

Other Muslims who are outside the Ahmadiyya Movement have no unity of aim or view. Theyrecognize no leader whom they feel bound to obey. So I cannot say anything about them. So far they regard even me as a disbeliever and an Antichrist. Still, I hope that if Hindus make this compact with me, other Muslims will not be so unreasonable as to have their Holy Prophet abused by speaking insultingly of the scriptures and the leaders of so well-mannered a people. 

Such abuse will then be attributed to the Muslims themselves. In any case, as such behavior is inconsistent with honor and decency, I do not think thatafter the compact has been made other Muslims will use bad language. But in order to make the agreement strong and secure, itwill be necessary that it should be signed by at least 10,000 sensible men on both sides. 

Dear countrymen, there is nothing like peace.Let us become one nation and one people by means of this compact. You see what dis- cord there is in the land and how much the country has suffered on account of mutual recrimination. Come and try now the blessings of mutual respect. This is the best way for reconciliation. To try and seek peace in any other way would be to neglect a sore which seems to be clear and bright on theoutside, but is full of foul pus inside.

Then further along, Hazrat Mirza wrote:

So if the Hindus sincerely accept our Holy Prophet as a true prophet of God, and believe in him, the gulf which separates us from them owing to our slaughtering of cows should also be made up. It is not obligatory for us to use everything that we believe to be lawful. There are many things which we consider lawful but which we never use.

To be kind and tolerant to our fellow beings is as important a religious injunction as to believe in one God, and it is not against the law of God to abandon an unnecessary thing for the sake of a necessary and useful purpose. Believing a thing to be lawful is quite different from using it. 

Religion consists of abstaining from forbidden things, seeking the pleasure of God, doing good to and showing kindness and sympathy toall the creatures of God, believing in all the holy prophets and messen- gers whom God raised from time to time for the reformation of the world, without making any distinction between them, and disposing ourselves kindly towards all human beings. That is the substance of Islam. But how can it be possible for us to make peace with those who unjustly and fearlessly revile our Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) and persist incalumniating and abusing him? I say truly that it is possible for us

to make peace with the snakes of the desert and the wolves of the wilds, but it is impossible for us to be at peace with those who make vile attacks on our Holy Prophet, whom we hold dearer than our life and our parents. May we all remain Muslims to the end; we will never do a thing derogatory to our faith.

I do not mean to lay any unjust charge at the door of any particular community, nor do I intend to offend anybody. But with greatpain and a deep sigh I feel constrained to say that great injustice is being done to Islam and the Holy Quran. Islam is a holy and peaceful religion which never attacked the leader of any community, and the Quran is an honorable book which laid the foundation of peace among nations by accepting the prophets of all nations — a distinction which the Holy Quran alone possesses among the scriptures of the world. Regarding the prophets of the world, the Quran teaches us:

“We do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit.” (2:136)

That is, O believers, say, we believe in all the prophets of the world and make no distinction between them by accepting some and rejecting others. If there exists any other revealed book with such a peaceful teaching, let it be named. The Quran does not restrict the universal providence of God to any particular race. It accepts all the prophets of the house of Israel, such as Jacob, Isaac, Moses, David and Jesus, and does not call any prophet, may he belong to Persia, India or any other country, a liar or animpostor. 

On the other hand, it plainly declares that there have been prophets among all peoples and in all lands, and thus lays the foundation of peace among mankind. It is painful, therefore, to find that this Prophet of Peace should be reviled and treated withcontempt by every other community…Our Holy Prophet is he, on the mention of whose name, great monarchs of Islam stepdown from their thrones, bow to his commands, and are proud to count themselves among the humblest of his servants. Is not this honor from God? To treat with contempt one who is honored by God is to fight with God. 

Our Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!), is that chosen Prophet of God, to demonstrate whose truth and greatness, God has shown wonderful signs to the world. Is it not the hand of God that has made two hundred million Muslims to pledge their allegiance to him? Every prophet had some proof of the truth of his teachings, but the proofs which the world has witnessed of the truth of the Holy Prophet, which continue to appear till today, have no parallel in any other prophet.

After this, Hazrat Mirza proved Prophet Muhammad’s truthfulness with powerful and cogent arguments. He mentioned the darkness of vice and wickedness that prevailed at Prophet Muhammad’s advent, and how the nations of the world received guidance through his spiritual light and the complete and perfect teachings that he brought. With these arguments, Hazrat Mirza manifested clearly the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad’s messengership and prophethood. He also elucidated the correct meaning of jihad.

Suggestion at the end of the lecture

The profound impact of the lecture on the audience was indescribable. The Muslims were amazed at the ineffable beauty and sensibleness with which Hazrat Mirza had extended an invitation of peace to the Hindus, as well as the invitation to believe in Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). When the discussion in the lecture turned to the sanc- tification of the cow by the Hindus, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din announced that he would take the first step under the proposed compact by henceforth abstaining from eating beef although he considered beef to be a clean and permissible food. He further added that it now remained to be seen whether the Hindu brethren reciprocated by taking the extended hand of friendship.

At the end of the lecture, a contemplative silence gripped the audience.

Finally, Mian Muhammad Shafi, barrister-at-law, rose and stated:

If the Hindu brethren do not wish to give an answer right away, they may contemplate and give an answer at a later time. Also, an associa- tion should be created for Hindu-Muslim unity that should undertake the completion of such a compact between theHindus and Muslims.

The president’s laudatory remarks then concluded the proceedings.

The Hindus did not accept this message of peace

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din had this lecture (Paigham-e-Sulh) translated into English and disseminated widely among the Hinduintelligentsia. But by and large, the Aryas opposed the proposed compact. The reason for their opposition was the fear that if they accepted Prophet Muhammad as a true messenger of God, then their children in the next generation would likely convert to Islam.

They realized that they could remain Hindus only as long as they remained bigoted and refused to accept Prophet Muhammad as a trueprophet of God. The day this bigotry ended and Prophet Muhammad began to be regarded with respect, the Hindus would get inexorably attracted to Islam’s teaching of Unity and Prophet Muhammad’s sublime morals. They would then join the ranks of Muslims just as many other nations had done before them.

Those with a discerning mind understood that this was the reason why Pundit Dayanand had manufactured a barrage of liesagainst Prophet Muhammad to reinforce the prejudice of the Hindus against the Holy Prophet. He was afraid that if this was not done the Hindus would get absorbed by Islam.

Thus, the overture of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to the Hindus asking them to accept Prophet Muhammad as a true prophet of God would have acted as an antidote to the venom that Pundit Dayanand had instilled in the minds of Hindus. The compact that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wanted the Hindus to sign left the Muslims as Muslimsbecause according to their belief, God’s messengers had been sent to every nation and by accept- ing the sages of India as God’s prophets, the Muslims were only following a basic principle of their religion.

However, by signing the agreement, the Hindus would have had to abandon their religion because their religion thrived on the notion that Parmeshwar had neither sent any guidance nor a prophet outside India.

The rule or blessing of Parmeshwar, whatever it may be called, was confined to the land of the Aryas only. The day this article of Hindu faith was abandoned and Prophet Muhammad’s respect and genuine- nessentered the hearts of Hindus, they would be swept into the fold of Islam. Given this situation, the Hindus who had no concern for truth and fairness, and only wanted to keep the Hindus as one nation so as to establish Hindu rule in India, had no desire to accept this message of peace. They therefore rejected this solution which was ideal for Hindu-Muslim unity.

The natural consequence of this was that the gulf between Hindus and Muslims continued to grow day by day.

Footnotes

  1. Niyog: See appendix at the end of Chapter 35.

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