In the year 1902, the Government made extensive arrangements for plague vaccination in the province of Punjab, and brought in many doctors from England for this specific purpose. The idea was to vaccinate the entire population of Punjab simultaneously and thereby to eradicate the killer disease.
The plague vaccination furnished only partial immunity against the disease and that too only for a period of between three to six months. Nevertheless, since the incidence of disease among the vaccinated population was significantly less than in the non-vaccinated population, the Government deemed this preventive measure beneficial, and made plans to extensively vaccinate the populace.
The scheme was launched in October 1902, and the government announced that every government employee and every loyal citizen should get vaccinated themselves and should urge others to get vaccinated as well.
Under those circumstances, Hazrat Mirza wrote the book titled Kishti- e-Nuh, and published it on October 5, 1902. The title page of the magazine bore the inscription: “The magazine Heavenly Vaccination, regarding the plague, prepared for my organization.” Thus, Hazrat Mirza presented a heavenly antidote for plague to the public as against the earthly vaccination plan of the Punjab Government. He also forcefully put forth the agenda of the book by inscribing on the title page the following two verses:
This plague has torn the world’s core into fragments; This is not merely a plague, but an upheaval.
Come hither soon to seek shelter in our ship; Because this ship has the support of the Knowing God.
A Sign of Mercy
At the very outset of Kishti-e-Nuh, Hazrat Mirza wrote:
It is a matter of gratitude that the British Government has acted with great compassion towards its subjects by reinstituting the scheme of mass vaccination against the plague, and by bearing its heavy financial burden merely for the welfare of humanity. Intruth, it is the duty of the wise people of this realm to welcome this charitable gesture with gratitude…
There is no doubt that the best and most effective course of action available to the government in a material sense is to institute this policy of vaccination. It cannot be denied that this policy has proven beneficial, and because all resources must be used, it is the duty of all subjects to comply with this policy so that the government may be unburdened from its concern for their lives.
But with great respect, I submit to this compassionate government that had there not been a heavenly prevention, I would havebeen the first person to be vaccinated. The heavenly prevention is that God has willed that a sign of heavenly blessing be shown for the people in this era.
So God addressed me and said that you and any person who is within the four walls of your house, and he who effaces himself in you through complete devotion, obedience and true piety will be saved from the plague.
And in these latter days, this will be a sign from God so that He may differentiate between groups of people. But he who does not devote himself completely to you is not from you; do not mourn for him. This is God’s decree on account of which I and those who live within the four walls of my house do not stand in need of vaccination…
He (God) addressed me and also stated that, in general, Qadian will not be ravaged by an overwhelming plague in which people die like dogs and wander around demented by sorrow and bewilderment. And, in general, members of my organization, regardless of their number, will remain immune from plague relative to the opponents. But those among them who do not abide fully by their covenant or those about whom there is some hidden matter known only to God may become victims of the plague.
Ultimately, people will acknowledge with amazement that relatively and comparatively God’s protection is with this group and He has saved them through a special blessing for which there is no other parallel.
On this issue, some ignorant people will be startled, some will laugh, some will declare me a madman, and some will be amazed that there exists such a God who can bestow His blessings without the use of worldly means. The answer to this is that, undoubtedly, such a power- ful God does indeed exist. And if this was not true, then all those who
have established a relationship with God would have died a spiritual death…
The powers of God are infinite, but are manifested to people in accordance with their conviction. Those who have been bestowed with conviction and love and have turned to Him severing all else, and who have forsaken their animal instincts, theseare they for whom the miraculous Divine powers are manifested…
Further on Hazrat Mirza stated:
God will deliver from the plague the pious people who reside within the premise of my house and who are not haughty beforeGod; relatively and comparatively, His special blessings will also be with this organization.
It is possible that some rare incidences of plague may occur in this organization of those who are weak in faith or deficient in practice, or whose death is decreed or for some other reason in the knowledge of God. But these rare cases would be insignificant. It is always the preponderance which is noted in a test. For example, the Government conducted an experiment and found that the incidence ofdeath in the vaccinated population was significantly less than in the rest.
Just like the infrequent incidence of death among the vaccinated population did not lessen the power of the injection, likewise if a few cases of plague occur in Qadian but the overallincidence is significant- ly less, or an occasional mortality occurs from this disease in my party, this will not reduce the importanceof this sign.
This prophecy has been written in accordance with the obvious meaning of the words in the pure communication of God. It behooves not for the wise to ridicule these heavenly affairs aforetime. This is the word of God, and not the talk of an astrologer. It emanates from the light of sight and not from conjectures in the dark. These are the words of One Who brought about this plague and Who can remove it too.
A little further on, Hazrat Mirza wrote:
To answer the question: What is the teaching whose perfect adherence can save one from the plague? I set below a few lines briefly answering this query.
Hazrat Mirza’s teachings
Hazrat Mirza then presented his teachings, and began his statement as follows:
Let it be clear that merely professing the pledge with the lips is meaningless unless one acts on it with full resolve in the heart. So whoever acts in complete accordance with my teachings enters into this house of mine about which God has promised in His communication: “I will protect all within your house,” that is, He will save everyone who is within the four walls of my house. It should not be understood here that only those are within my house who reside in this house of bricks and mortar, but those people who obey me completely are also residents of my spiritual home.
Hazrat Mirza then presented the quintessence of the pure teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah (the practice of Prophet Muhammad).
He discussed the Unity and knowledge and recognition of God, and the knowledge of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the meaning of perfect obedience to him.
The discourse is truly a distillation that has been poured, as it were, into the form of a book. It is quite impossible to summarize it here, and the reader is referred to the original book, Kishti-e-Nuh, which is worthy of a read.
Living Prophet of the age
There is a section in Kishti-e-Nuh that sheds light on Hazrat Mirza’s belief regarding the finality of prophethood. An excerpt from that section is reproduced below:
There is no book for the guidance of mankind on the face of this earth except the Holy Quran, and there is no prophet and intercessor for mankind except Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Strive to harbor true love for this magnificent Prophet and never give preference to anyone over him so that you may be written down in heaven as one saved.
Remember that salvation is not something that shall be manifested after you die, but true salvation manifests its radiance right here in this world.
Who is the one saved? It is he who truly believes in God, and believes that Prophet Muhammad is the intercessor for him and for the entire mankind, and that there is no prophet under heaven equal to his rank nor is there any Book equal in rank to the Quran. God did not wish for anyone to abide forever but this chosen Prophet lives eternally.
God laid the basis for his immortality by perpetuating the benefits of his guidance and spirituality till the Day of Resurrection and in the end through his spiritual blessings, He sent the Promised Messiah into the world.
An exhortation to seek nearness to Allah
In the same book, Kishti-e-Nuh, Hazrat Mirza strongly urged the members of his Organization to seek piety and to inculcate high morals. At one place in the book, he exhorts his disciples to seek nearness to Allah in the following words:
How wretched is the person who is still unaware that he has a God who has power over all things. Our heaven is our God, and ourhighest bliss is in God, because we have seen Him and found every element of beauty in Him. This treasure is worth acquiring, even if you have to perish in the quest. And this ruby is worth buying, even if you have to lose your very existence to do so.
O deprived ones! Hasten to this stream for it will quench your thirst. This is the fountain of life that will save you. What should I do and how should I make this glad tiding to enter the hearts of people? With what tambourine should I herald in the marketplaces that, “This is your God,” so that people may hear. And what medication should I use so that their ears may be opened for hearing?
If you devote yourself completely to God, then know for sure that God will devote Himself to you. You will be asleep, and God will watch over you. You will be unaware of your enemy, and God will watch him and frustrate his plans. You are still unaware of the powers that your Lord possesses.
If you had known, not a single day would have dawned on you, when you would have grieved intensely for this world.
Does a person who owns a treasure weep and wail and almost kill himself over the loss of apenny? If you had been aware of this treasure that your God would assist you in every time of need, then why would you be so beside yourself for this world. Value Him for He will be your Helper at every step of your life. Without Him you are naught, and neither do your plans and resources amount to anything.
Do not emulate other nations who have totally embraced materialism. And as a snake ingests dirt, they ingested the dirt of inferior worldly provisions. And as vultures and dogs feed on carrion, they too bit into carrion. They strayed far away from God, they have worshiped humans, eaten of swine and partaken of wine as if it was water.
Because of their excessive reliance on materialism, and by not seeking strength from God, they have perished and the heavenly spirit has left them like a pigeon that flies away from the nest. They have within them the leprosy of materialism and it has severed their viscera. So dread this leprosy.
I do not discourage you from seeking worldly goods, provided you practice moderation. But I warn you not to be like other nations that rely entirely on worldly provisions and forget the God Who provides those provisions in the first place. If only you could discern, then you would see that the only thing that is of the essence is God, all else is insignificant.
Biblical and Quranic prayers compared
Hazrat Mirza also explained the rationale for the timing of the pre- scribed five daily prayers in this book, and compared the famous Gospel prayer in which the Lord is beseeched for the daily bread with the famous Quranic prayer Al-Fatihah. The truth is that a perusal of the comparison gives one a good idea of the magnificence of the Quranic prayer.
In the end, Hazrat Mirza points out that a person whose highest aspiration is just to get bread would have achieved his objective after getting it, and such a person would then have no further interest in God.
Hazrat Mirza notes: It should be remembered that among the great objectives of Al-Fatihah is the prayer: “Guide us on the right path, The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors” (Al-Fatihah, (1:5,6). Just as the gospel prayer seeks bread, in this prayer (Al-Fatihah) God, the Most High, is beseeched for all those blessings that were bestowed on previous messengers and prophets.
This comparison is worth noting. Just as Jesus’ prayer was accepted and the Christians received ample food provisions, in a like manner this Quranic prayer was accepted through Prophet Muhammad whereby righteous and saintly Muslims, in particular the perfect individuals among them, were made the spiritual inheritors of the Israelite prophets.
And in reality, the birth of thePromised Messiah in the Muslim nation is a consequence of the acceptance of this supplication. Although many virtuous and holyMuslims have shared a hidden resemblance with the prophets of Israel, but the Promised Messiah of the Muslim nation has by the command and desire of God been openly compared with the Israelite Messiah so that the similarity between the Mosaic and Mohammadan dispensations may be fully understood.
Success of the heavenly vaccination
Hazrat Mirza had presented two aspects as constituting the heavenly vaccination.
The first of these was residence within his house, i.e., God had promised that all righteous residents of his house would remain safe from the plague. The second was that those who acted according to his teachings would also remain immune to the plague, since they were inside his spiritual house by virtue of following his teachings.
And the essence of these two signs was that the members of Hazrat Mirza’s Organization would remain comparatively immune to the plague, and this matter would be a sign that would distinguish them from non-members.
The miraculous success of the heavenly immunity was truly astonishing. By the grace of God, all residents in Hazrat Mirza’s house stayed well and there was not so much as a complaint of a headache. In fact, the recovery of Mir Ishaaq from his bout with highfever and glandular swelling as a result of Hazrat Mirza’s supplications was in itself a miraculous sign.
Within the Ahmadiyyah community, whether in Qadian, the rest of Punjab or in India as a whole, there were but rare cases of plague casualties. In the rural areas of the country, in particular, this distinction was so pronounced that it could not escape anyone’s attention, and people marveled at how Allah was miraculously protecting the Ahmadis from the plague.
The effect of this phenomenon was so powerful and compelling that people began joining Hazrat Mirza’s Organization in large numbers. Those who could not come in person sent in written pledges. Long lists containing the names of pledge-takers started arriving in Qadian for the attention of Hazrat Mirza, and the populace of village after village joined the Ahmadi fraternity.
In this manner, a revelation received by Hazrat Mirza that stated: “O Messiah of the masses! Grant us protection,” was clearly fulfilled. The large number of pledge letters arriving in Qadian also contained requests for supplication to grant them immunity from plague.
God showed a clear sign of His blessings by granting those people immunity to a much greater extent than the general populace, and only in rare cases was there an incidence of plague among them.
In summary, the heavenly vaccination succeeded admirably.
Failure of the earthly vaccination
In contrast, the scheme of earthly vaccination proved to be a dismal failure in the most unexpected way.
The vaccination plan had been underway for only a couple of months when nineteen people in the village of Malkowal in Gujrat district died in one night after receiving plague vaccination. Investigation revealed that the injected vaccine had somehow been contaminated with live tetanus bacteria, but the explanation did little to assuage the people.
The incident engendered a sense of fear among the populace and anaversion to vaccination. The people of Punjab refused vaccination en masse and consequently the entire scheme failed. The doctorswho had been brought in from England especially for the plague vaccination program had to pack their bags and return. The entireprogram collapsed in the wink of an eye even as the plague continued to wreak havoc.
Prior to the Malkowal incident, the vaccination scheme was gaining popularity among the masses. I have personal knowledge of this because I was at the time working as a medical doctor in the Plague Eradication
Department, and vaccinated thousands of people in the districts of Sialkot and Gurdaspur. People came in such large numbers for vaccination that sometimes the police had to be brought in for crowd control, and some villages did not even get their turn. While riding out on my vaccination visits, I had to face a great dilemma at times when landowners of different villages would accost me, and each group would tug at the reins of my horse to make it go in the direction of their village.
It was in view of this great initial popularity that the Government had initiated the ambitious plan to vaccinate the entire population of Punjab. But glory be to God, on the one hand there was this initial popularity of the vaccination, and then following the publication of Kishti-e-Nuh, there was a dramatic collapse of the program.
People began to dread the word vaccination and there was so much fear and antipathy, that the Government was compelled to send telegrams to all regions of the Punjab to suspend all oper-ations, and a program that appeared so successful initially ground to a halt.
A perceptive person can discern that it was God’s will to make a clear distinction between the earthly and the heavenlyvaccinations, and so He did.
The era of a God-appointed person is comprised of what has come to be known as the ayyam-Allah (literally translates as “days of God”). During these days, certain events come to pass that show the fragility of man’s dependence on resources and thereby manifests the presence of the real controller of man’s affairs.
Never rejoice at the death of an enemy
Hazrat Mirza was greatly saddened by the plague mortalities. So he repeatedly informed the people through books, pamphlets and announcements about ways to prevent infection.
On April 5, 1903, Hazrat Mirza was informed that some of his opponents had died from the plague. This was a year when the plague epidemic was at its height.
Upon hearing the news, he remarked: The death of an enemy should not make you joyous, but should make you reflect and learn a lesson. Every person is accountable to God for his actions individually; each individual should scrutinize his own deeds and seek to reform himself. The death of another should impel you to learn this lesson, and to motivate you to do your utmost in trying not to stray from thepath of righteousness. You should not while away the time in play and laughter, oblivious of your duties to God.