Nadwat-ul-Ulama (Association of Religious Scholars)
Maulana Shibli Nomani was an enlightened and broad-minded scholar among his contemporaries. Observing the shortcomings of the instructional courses offered for the training of clerics in India, he decided to establish a religious institution that would be founded upon the latest style of instruction; the old-fashioned style of teaching would be replaced by the modern style of imparting religiouseducation.
The goal of the institution would be to remove the students’ narrow-minded views, and to instill them with enlightenment and a broad outlook as well as also to educate them in other contemporary subjects.
Accordingly, Maulana Shibli Nomani enlisted the help of certain like-minded scholars and formed an organization called Nadwat-ul-Ulama (Association of Religious Scholars) and founded under its aegis a seminary in Lukhnow (India). Annual conventions of the Nadwat-ul- Ulama were held in the major citiesof India in order to publicize the seminary and for raising funds; the 1902 annual convention was scheduled to be held during themonth of October in Amritsar.
Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf of Amritsar, who has been mentioned earlier in this biography in connection with the publication of Hazrat Mirza’s book Arbain (Chapter 5), was still adamant that a person could falsely claim to be an appointee of God and a recipient of revelation, and live for twenty-three years after the claim. Thus, a twenty-three year survival after making a false claim did not constitute a valid proof of the claimant’s genuineness. Hazrat Mirza had shownclearly in Arbain that to abandon this principle would mean that a very strong and decisive argument in support of Prophet Muhammad’struthfulness would be vitiated. This argument was a corollary of the follow- ing Quranic verse: “And if he had fabricated against Us certain sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, then cut off his heart’s vein.” (69: 44,45,46)
Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf’s announcement
Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf felt no qualms in abandoning a clear argu- ment in favor of the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad aslong as the action also vitiated a similar argument in favor of Hazrat Mirza. Shortly before the convention of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama in Amritsar, Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf published an announcement in which he stated that a friend of his by the name of Abu Ishaaq Muhammad Din had written a pamphlet called Qata-al- Wateen (Cut Off the Heart’s Vein) in which he had listed the names of people who had lived for a period of twenty-three years after falsely claiming to receive Divine revelations. The pamphlet, it was alleged, also gave the exact period of their claims, along with supporting historical references. The announcement went on to say that the convention of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama was scheduled to start on October 9, 1902, in Amritsar and that many clerics would be attending the convention. Therefore, Hazrat Mirza should come and debate the clerics in Amritsar and get a judgment from them whether the information listed inthe pamphlet Qata-al-Wateen regarding the false claimants was correct or not. And if the clerics adjudicated that the claims of Qata-al-Wateen were in fact true, then Hazrat Mirza would have to repent forthwith.
The writing of Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa
Hazrat Mirza received this announcement on October 2, 1902, and he wrote and published in response the pamphlet Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa on October 6, 1902. He explained in it with great clarity once again the Quranic verse, “And if he had fabricated against Us…”which he had previously expounded upon at great length in his work titled Arbain. He chided Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf that he was not only denying the Quranic argument provided in the verse “And if he had fabricated against Us…” (69:44,45,46), but was also denying other similar verses of the Quran such as: “And if he be a liar, on him will be his lie” (40:28), “…he fails indeed who forges (a lie)” (20:61) and “Surely those who forge a lie against Allah will not prosper” (16:116).
Hazrat Mirza then went on to say: “Do you think that all these verses are such that it is not necessary to believe in them or do you consider these verses abrogated in your articles of faith? If it is true that false claimants can live for twenty-three years or more after claiming to be recipients of revela- tion and appointees of God, and that they too form and leave behind organizations, then how willyou explain all these verses, and how would you differentiate between a genuine and a false claimant of revelation?” But it mattered not to these scholars of evil and enemies of truth whether a distinc- tion remained between truth and falsehood. These foolish people werestriving day and night to remove this distinction! Opposition to truth creates a desire to negate any argument that supports truth even if it means dealing a blow to one’s own accepted guide and prophet.
Then turning to the false claimants of revelation and prophethood list- ed in Qata-al-Wateen, Hazrat Mirza observed:
These are all fables and concocted stories which are not the least bit trustworthy. There is no established and reliable historical evidence with us that these false claimants persisted in their claims and did not repent, and that they lived for twenty-threeyears and died while holding firmly to their claims and not repenting. If this happened, then where have the organizations they founded gone?
And where are the books in which they kept publishing their revelations for over twenty-three years? And where are their revelations collected so that they can be examined to see whether the claimant had in fact positively and definitively stated them to be revelations or whether these are just concoctions by the people? After all there should be acollection somewhere of twenty-three years of revelation. And if it was published for the public, there should at least be a few copies somewhere with the members of his party. How can it be that such voluminous collections disappeared without a trace,and no mention of their disciples can be found anywhere?
If someone claims to be an appointee of God or a prophet, but later repents, then such a person is not within the purview of theQuranic verse “And if he had fabricated against Us certain sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, Then cut off his heart’s vein” (69:44,45,46). What the opponents need to show is that there was a person who did not die within twenty three years although he claimed to be a prophet or an appointee of Allah; that he continuously stated and published his revelations for twenty three years as the definitive Word of God, and that he obdurately stuck to this position without ever repenting in the interim. Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf can exert all he wants and he can get as many magazines of thelike of Qata-al-Wateen written as he desires but he will never be able to produce even a single claimant who fulfills all of the above conditions because God has stated in the Quran: “And if he had fabricated against Us certain sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, Then cut off his heart’s vein” (69:44,45,46).
In the presence of this threat, Prophet Muhammad’s twenty-three year life after his claim to prophethood during which he narrated and published his revelations becomes a measure of his truth and negatives any fabrication. By the same token, it follows that any person who claims to be aprophet or an appointee of Allah and stands by his claim of Divine revelation for twenty-three years cannot be a liar in his claim of receiving Divinerevelations.
Additionally, Hazrat Mirza noted that Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf’s demand to have the matter adjudicated by the clerics assembled for the con- vention of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama was meaningless. What was the sense of going for a decision to adjudicators who themselves were the opponents? Hazrat Mirza stated: “The decision of the Quran and of the true historical facts are enough for me. For this reason, there is no need for me to go to Amritsar. If Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf so desires, he can come to Qadian with a few clerics of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama. If they come here as truth-seekers, I am willing to verbally preach to them. I have published this magazine, and Iwill be sending it to the clerics of Nadwat-ul-Ulama as well. In this way, they will receive my exhortations, and if anyone of them wants to seek the truth, then he can come to Qadian. I am always prepared to explain my claims.”
A new discovery regarding the death of Messiah, the Son of Mary
In the concluding section of Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa, Hazrat Mirza announced a new discovery regarding the death of Jesus. A document in ancient Aramaic signed by the disciple Peter was discovered in Jerusalem from the library of a monk after his death. The document proved that Jesus died right here on this earth about fifty years after the incident of crucifixion.
This document was purchased by a Christian company for two hundred and fifty thousand rupees after its authorship was conclusively shown to be that of Peter. This revered disciple had written in his statement: “I am a servant of the son of Mary. I am writing this letter at the age of ninety years whenthree years have elapsed since the son of Mary passed away.”
Glory be to Allah! The monk from whose library this document was discovered belonged to the Roman Catholic faith and hebelieved not only in the divinity of Jesus, but also in the divinity of Mary. He had kept this doc- ument with other sacred relics. Since the document was written in ancient Aramaic and the script was archaic as well, the monk was not aware of the contents of thedocument. This too was a sign manifested by God.
Preaching to the Nadwat-ul-Ulama
Although Hazrat Mirza harbored no illusion that the clerics of Nadwat-ul-Ulama would make any effort to investigate the truth, he never- theless dispatched a delegation with the book Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa to Amritsar so that conclusive testimony may be rendered to Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf and the Muslims in general.
The convention of Nadwat-ul-Ulama was scheduled for October 9, 10, and 11 of1902 in Amritsar. Hazrat Mirza went ahead and sent the deputation to Amritsar on October 8, a day before the conven- tion, but on October 10 he remarked: “I have sent the deputation to the Nadwa convention for the purpose of rendering conclusive testimony but I have absolutely no hope of any change forthe better because their objectives are based on what appeals to the masses.”
The deputation was comprised of the following five people:
- Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi
- Maulvi Mubarak Ali of Sialkot
- Maulvi Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah
- Maulvi Abdullah Kashmiri
- Sheikh Yaqub Ali Torab.
Hazrat Mirza designated Maulana Amrohi as the leader of the delegation. The delegation lodged in the house of Mian Habibullah, ajudicial court offi- cial, in Amritsar. Immediately on arrival, Maulana Amrohi dispatched through registered mail two letters in connection with the matter in dispute and for which the book Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa was written. One of the letters was addressed to the secretary of Nadwat-ul-Ulama, and the other was addressed to Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf.
Maulana Amrohi wrote to the secretary of Nadwat-ul-Ulama:
Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf has invited us through a public announce- ment to the convention of Nadwat-ul-Ulama so that animportant matter may be adjudicated; similarly through a letter, Maulvi Ahmad Hasan, editor of Shahna-e-Hind Meerut, has invited us to come to the convention of Nadwat-ul-Ulama to have the disputed issue adjudicat- ed before the scholars of the Nadwa.
But we have not received any specific letter from the Nadwat-ul-Ulama indicating whether they have passed any resolution to proceed and make a decision in accordance with the announcement of Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf or the letter of the editor of Shahna-e-Hind, and whether the Nadwa is ready to undertake this task. We trouble you, therefore, through this important registered letter to let us know by return mail as to which of the schol- ars of the Nadwa have been appointed for this matter, or is it the case that the Nadwa has not given any permission for conducting such adjudication.
We hope that you will apprise us of the real situation… This humble writer, accompanied by a group of scholars, arrived in Amritsar today at 10:00 am. And we shall stay here till the conclusion of the convention of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama. We request a reply by the end of the day today.
In the second letter to Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf, Maulana Amrohi wrote:
We have received one of your published announcements asking for adjudication on the occasion of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama convention. In accordance with this announcement, this humble writer, accompanied by a party of scholars, has arrived in Amritsar to seek, solely for the sake of Allah, adjudication in an important matter. For this purpose, this letter is being sent to youby registered mail so that you may inform us by return mail the names of the scholars of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama that you have chosen for the adjudication. After the necessary conditions have been settled with them, the real issue can be debated, but to verifythe genuineness of your announcement, kindly send us a letter or reso- lution from Nadwat-ul-Ulama in the light of which youhave invited us to this convention for a decision. We do not think that you would have done this without the permission andconsent of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama, and for this reason we consider the Nadwat-ul-Ulama as one of the addressees in conformancewith your announcement.
No response from the Nadwat-ul-Ulama
Regrettably, neither the secretary of Nadwat-ul-Ulama responded to Maulana Amrohi’s letter, nor was Hafiz Muhammad Yusufto be found anywhere.
In fact, Hafiz Muhammad Yusuf was completely confounded because he had published the announcement inviting Hazrat Mirza to come and settle the issue regarding Qata-al-Wateen in the Amritsar convention of Nadwat-ul-Ulama withoutconsulting the secretary or any other responsible officer of the organization. Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi and his party stayed in Amritsar throughout the period of the convention and daily distributed a large number of copies of Hazrat Mirza’s books Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa and Kishti-e-Nuh to the attendees of the convention.
They also distributed copies of the magazines Dawat-ul-Nadwa and otherannouncements such as Ishtiharaat-Elaan-ur-Rusul. The distributed literature contained definitive arguments and proofs about the truthfulness of the Ahmadiyya Movement and invited the scholars of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama to join this truth. But nobody in the convention had the courage to bring up the disputed issue regarding the import of the Qata-al-Wateen verses for adjudication. As forHafiz Muhammad Yusuf, he disappeared completely and was not seen at the convention at all.
Today, people may boast and bluster that they can show examples of people who lived for over twenty-three years after falsely claiming to be prophets or appointees of God and without recanting their claim.
But the fact is that when the foremost scholars of the entire country were gathered in Amritsar, and Hazrat Mirza challenged them to show him even one such claimant along with proof of what was alleged on the claimant’s behalf, there was complete silence and not even a single scholar stepped forward to pick up the gauntlet. The truth is that Hazrat Mirza had conclusively proven his contention and no one had the courage to refute it. At the same time, a period of over twenty three years had elapsed following Hazrat Mirza’s claim of receiving Divine revelation and this argument provided strong evidence in favor of hisclaim to be an appointee of God.
It is true that Maulana Masih-uz-Zaman, the president of Nadwat-ul- Ulama, had declined a preconference request by certain clerics of Amritsar to hold a debate with the scholars of the Ahmadiyya Movement on the twin issues of whether Jesus was alive ordead and the claims of Hazrat Mirza. He had declined this suggestion on the grounds that argumentative debates were against the principles that Nadwat-ul-Ulama embraced.
While this argument may be tenable for the Nadwat-ul-Ulama as an organization, it is perplexing why no scholar out of the army of scholars that were attending the convention from every nook and corner of India picked up the courage to step forward in his individual capacity to resolve the dispute. If Hazrat Mirza’s existence was a tribulation for the Islamic world, then why did the Nadwat-ul-Ulama or some other scholars not take any steps to eradicate this source of tribulation?
The correct interpretation of the Qata-al-Wateen verses had both a scholarly and a historical dimension, and Maulana Nomani and his helpers were considered as eminent experts of history.
Even a casual comment from them on this matter would have been considered as authoritative. The book Tuhfa-tun-Nadwa presented this matter before them with all its details and yet nobody uttered a word in response. The truth is that they would certainly have spoken if there was a reliable historical example of a false claimant liv- ingfor twenty three years, but in the absence of such an example, silence was the best policy. Maulana Shibli Nomani was not an intellectual lightweight who would go around boasting on the basis of mere stories and fables. He was a solid intellectual and he saw the proprietyof maintaining his silence.
The effect of the literature distributed during the convention of the Nadwat-ul-Ulama was that some intellectuals and seekers of truth, such as Mualvi Sharafatullah Khan Shah Jahanpuri, came to Qadian and took the pledge at the hands of Hazrat Mirza.