The Mudh debate
A storm of opposition brewed up in the town of Mudh in district Amritsar when one of its residents, Munshi Muhammad Yusuf, took the pledge at the hands of Hazrat Mirza. Since Munshi Muhammad Yusuf was at the time working as a scribe in the city of Mardan in district Peshawar, he was not personally affected by the opposition.
But when his brother, Muhammad Yaqub, who lived in Mudh also took the pledge, the miscreants of the town got an opportunity to harass him. This harassment reached the stage where under the pressure of the miscreants, the water-carrier, the launderer and the janitor discontinued services to Muhammad Yaqub’s house. He informed his brother Munshi Muhammad Yusuf, who came from Mardan to reason with the townsfolk. It was finally decided that adebate should be held on the contentious religious issues.
Munshi Muhammad Yusuf was looking for an opportunity to preach Hazrat Mirza’s message to the opposition. He accepted the debate. He went to Qadian and stated his intentions to Hazrat Mirza. HazratMirza, as was his wont, informed him of the opposing cleric’s deceit and ruses, and expressed the opinion that such debates were futile. But upon the insistence of Munshi Muhammad Yusuf, Hazrat Mirza agreed to send Maulvi Syed Sarwar Shah and Maulvi Abdullah Kashmiri to Mudh.
Maulvi Sanaullah of Amritsar was their opponent, and the debate took place on October 29 and October 30, 1902. Maulvi Sanaullah was very astute in verbal confrontations and debates. He proposed that the format of the debate should be verbal, and that each side should be allotted a time period of twenty minutes. Maulvi Sarwar Shah replied that it was not possible to deal with any subject satisfactorily in less than one hour, and therefore the respondent should be allocated at least one hour to reply.
But Maulvi Sanaullah saw that his only chance of victory lay in each side being allotted only twenty minutes, and as a result of his vehement insistence upon this condition, Maulvi Sarwar Shah agreed to the demand.
When the debate started, Maulvi Sanaullah had nothing at all to say about whether Jesus is dead or alive, or about Jesus’ descent ina second coming.
His strategy was just to attack Hazrat Mirza personally and to ridicule some of Hazrat Mirza’s prophecies. He did this with such foul and abusive language that the Ahmadis in the audience were greatly vexed but they bore his invectives patiently. Maulvi Sanaullah’s supporters, on the other hand, were so incited by his incendiary speech that it became difficult for the Ahmadis in the audience even to return home safely.
The audience was so provoked and roiled up by the abusive and provocative language employed by Maulvi Sanaullah and his like-minded colleagues that a bloody altercation appeared imminent. So the debate was discontinued after two days, and Maulvi Sarwar Shah and his companions returned to Qadian on November 2, 1902. Upon arrival, theynarrated the events to Hazrat Mirza.
Leaving aside the abusive tirade, there were only three issues that Maulvi Sanaullah had raised in the course of the debate that Hazrat Mirza deemed as worthy of a response. Hazrat Mirza decided to compose a reply to address these three points. The points were:
- Maulvi Sanaullah had claimed that all of Hazrat Mirza’s prophecies had proven to be false.
- Maulvi Sanaullah had stated that he was prepared to enter into a mubahalah (a meeting of contending parties where people orparties invoke the curse of God upon the liar) with Hazrat Mirza.
- Maulvi Sanaullah had claimed that he could very easily compose a response to Hazrat Mirza’s book Ijaz-ul-Masih. He had made this statement in response to Maulvi Sarwar Shah’s contention that the book Ijaz-ul-Masih was a miracle and if Maulvi Sanaullah consid- ered Hazrat Mirza to be a liar, then he should compose a response to the book.
Travel to Batala to give evidence
On November 7, 1902, Hazrat Mirza traveled to Batala to give evi- dence in a law suit. His travel party included among othersMaulvi Muhammad Ali and Mufti Muhammad Sadiq. The party departed after the Fajr (morning) prayer with Hazrat Mirza riding in a four wheeled carriage and some companions following in shays. The party arrived in Batala at 9:30
A.M. In Batala, Hazrat Mirza had a conversation with Munshi Muhammad Yusuf about the Mudh debate. He advised him:
You are engaged in a religious jihad and Allah shall reward you for it.
I have asked the editor of Al-Hakam to publish the full proceedings of the debate that took place in Mudh. You shall receive some extra copies of the newspaper so that you may distribute them in your vil- lage, and among your friends.
After that, Hazrat Mirza received visitors, both Muslims and non- Muslims, and spent the time preaching to them. Just after 2:00 P.M., Hazrat Mirza appeared in the court of Munshi Naseer-ud-Din as a legal witness. The judge treated Hazrat Mirza with great respect. The courtroom became so crowded with onlookers that the judge had the court emptied of all non-essen- tial people and ordered the doorsbolted. After recording the evidence, Hazrat Mirza was accompanied by a large crowd to his rest house. The party then left Batala andreturned to Qadian by 6:30 P.M. that day.
Publication of Ijaz-e-Ahmadi
As mentioned earlier, setting aside the abusive and provocative tirade from Maulvi Sanaullah, there were three points that HazratMirza considered as worthy of a response. In order to address those, he began writing the book Ijaz-e-Ahmadi. Begun on November 8, 1902, the book was completed on November 12, 1902, and published on November 15, 1902. Thus, the book Ijaz-e-Ahmadi — whichis 87 pages in length, of which 38 pages are in Urdu and the remaining 49 pages consist of an Arabic encomium in the form of a highlyeloquent poem — was composed in only five days.
In the Urdu portion of Ijaz-e-Ahmadi, one of the things Hazrat Mirza addressed was Maulvi Sanaullah’s objection that all ofHazrat Mirza’s prophecies had proven incorrect. He discussed, in particular, those prophe- cies regarding which Maulvi Sanaullah had raised objections in the Mudh debate, and proved their truthfulness with great clarity. He then stated:
And Maulvi Sanaullah had said during the debate in village Mudh that all the prophecies had turned out to be false. So I invite him, and urge him in the name of God, to come to Qadian for this investigation. He should scrutinize all the prophecies, and Ipromise him on oath that for every prophecy proven false in accordance with the spirit of the Prophet’s way, I will give him hundred rupees; otherwise a special medal of disgrace shall hang from his neck forever. I will pay for his travel expenses, but allof the prophecies will have to be scrutinized so that in future there is no argumentation. This will be the condition for the payment of the money, and the proof (of whether the conditions have been fulfilled) shall be my responsibility.
Reply to the second issue — an invitation for a mubahalah (prayer duel)
Hazrat Mirza responded to the second matter i.e., that Maulvi
Sanaullah was ready for a mubahalah with him as follows:
If Maulvi Sanaullah is prepared for this challenge, a written letter shall not be sufficient. Rather, he should publish a proclamationwith the fol- lowing text:
I consider this person (here, my name should be stated explicitly) to be a liar and Dajjal (Antichrist) and unbeliever, and I amcertain that his claims of being the Promised Messiah, and a recipient of Divine revelation and inspiration are false. O God! Ipray to you that if this belief of mine is incorrect and if this person is truly the Promised Messiah, and that Jesus (peace be upon him) has in fact died, then cause me to die prior to the death of this person. But if I am true in my belief and this personis actually the Dajjal, faithless, disbeliever and apostate, and the Messiah is alive in heaven and shall return at an indeterminate time, then cause this person to die so that discord and dissension may come to an end and Islam may not be harmed by thisDajjal, deceitful, and fraudulent person. Amen. Amen again.
Prior to this, Maulvi Ghulam Dastagir Qasuri had also held a similar kind of mubahalah, an account of which is given on page 27 of the book Fatah-e-Rahmani, and a few days after that, he entered his grave during my lifetime. He proved my righteousness with his death. However, Maulvi Sanaullah may, if he wants, try it out for himself. He need not con- sider the fate of Maulvi Qasuri, because heis prepared for this (mubahalah) himself. This challenge, which is in truth the text of a muba- halah, must be written out word forword, as I have written it above; not a word must be added or deleted from it. If some special change is sought, then it should be settledthrough private correspondence. Further, at least fifty signatures of respectable people should be affixed on such a procla- mation of the mubahalah, and a minimum of seven hundred copies should be printed. Twenty copies of this proclamation should be sent tome by registered mail. There is no need for me to challenge him for a mubahalah, or to engage him in a mubahalah because hismubahalah for which he has shown readiness will be sufficient to verify my veracity.
Reply to the third issue — an invitation to compete in writing Arabic composition
Hazrat Mirza then responded to the third issue raised by Maulvi
Sanaullah, namely that Hazrat Mirza’s book Ijaz-ul-Masih was not a miracle
and that Maulvi Sanaullah could, if he so wished, compose a similar book in Arabic. In response to this, Hazrat Mirza wrote a thirty-nine page encomium in Arabic and gave its Urdu translation below it; this formed one part of Ijaz- e-Ahmadi. The encomium was an Arabic poem written in highly eloquent language, and Hazrat Mirza challenged not only Maulvi Sanaullah, but also Pir Mehr Ali Shah Golarwi, Maulvi Asghar Ali Roohi (Professor of Arabic at Islamia College, Lahore), Maulvi Ali Hairi (Shia jurist, Lahore), MaulviMuhammad Husain Batalvi, and Qazi Zafar-ud-Din (Professor at Oriental College, Lahore) to write something comparable.
Hazrat Mirza had expressed an intention in his book Nuzul-ul-Masih to invite Pir Mehr Ali Shah Golarwi once again to a contestof writing Arabic composition. However, work on Nuzul-ul-Masih had been suspended because of the litigation with Maulvi Karam-ud-Din and the book was still incomplete. Since this book had not yet been published, Hazrat Mirza decid- ed to challenge Pir Golarwi alsoto write an Arabic encomium comparable to the one he had composed in Ijaz-e-Ahmadi. This was the reason for the sec- ond name that Hazrat Mirza gave to Ijaz-e-Ahmadi — A Supplement to Nuzul-ul-Masih.
Along with this book, Hazrat Mirza announced a reward of ten thou- sand rupees. The notice announcing the reward provided the rationale for writing the book as follows:
This announcement is published as a sign from God, which like other signs, will manifest the fulfillment of a prophecy. In other words, this is also a sign about which there was a promise that it will come to pass by the end of December 1902. The ten thousand rupee reward accom- panying it is meant for testifying to the financial burden I am willing to bear and the vehemence with which I am warning my opponents regarding the truthfulness of my claim. Maulvi Sanaullah has announced loudly in thetown of Mudh that he did not consider Ijaz-ul- Masih a miracle, and that he could compose a book like it.
It is certainly true that if the opponents are able to compete and com- pose a book of the same caliber in the appointed time, thenit (Ijaz-ul-Masih) cannot be a miracle. In that case, I would clearly be a liar. It occurred to me a few days after my disciples Maulvi Syed Muhammad Sarwar and Maulvi Abdullah had returned to Qadian on November 2, 1902, that if a book comparable to Ijaz-ul-Masih was demanded, the opponents in keeping with their past practice of making excuses would say in this case as well: “In our opinion, Ijaz-ul-Masih was not composed in seventy days…but was composed in seventy months.” The affair would then become dubious in the eyes of the public. I pondered for a few days about the best way to proceed; on the
evening of November 6, 1902, my heart was inspired with the idea that I should compose an encomium regarding the Mudh debate. The time frame for making the encomium is certain and absolute, and nobody can contest that the debate took place at the venue of Mudh during the days of October 29 and October 30 in 1902. On November 2, 1902, my disciples reached Qadian, and on November 7, 1902, I traveled to Batala to give evidence in the court of Judge Munshi Naseer-ud-Din. I may have composed one or two verses on the way. But on November 8, 1902, I started work on the encomium in earnest and finished the encomium andthe Urdu article with it on the fifth day. The time period over which the encomium was composed is therefore free from any doubt because the encomium and its accompanying Urdu article con- tain references to events of the Mudh debate, which took place on the days of October 29 and October 30 in 1902. If this encomium and the Urdu article were not prepared in this brief period, but had been com- posed beforehand, then I should be considered as the knower of the unseen, who had given news of the events before they transpired. In short, this is a magnificent sign and provides an easy way to arrive at a decision. It should beremembered, as I have just mentioned, that this entire period was not exclusively devoted to the encomium, but time was also spent in writing the accompanying Urdu article. The two together are a sign from God, the Most High.
An essential condition of the competition, and an eligibility require- ment to receive the ten thousand rupee reward, is that whosoever participates in this competition should also write a rebuttal to my Urdu article that should refute my arguments andwhose length should be no shorter than the length of my article. If any participant fails to produce either of these, then he shall be considered in violation of the rules. I do not impose any hardship on my opponents that I have not personally borne. It is obvious that the Urdu passage also deals with the event under discussion and it contains a reply to the objections raised by MaulviSanaullah. Under these circumstances, who can doubt that the Urdu passage was not prepared beforehand. Hence, it is my right to demand that the miraculously small period in which the Urdu article and the encomium were prepared, should be matched by a similar endeavor in the same time frame from those who do not consider these writings … as a miracle.
I swear by God that if they prepare in the time that I spent on the Urdu passage and the encomium, a similar Urdu article that rebuts all my arguments leaving none out, and a similar encomium that explains the events in a like number of eloquent verses,and publish it within the stipulated time period, I will give them ten thousand rupees in cash. This is a legally binding promise from me on which I shall not renege, but the promise can also be enforced through the court. If Maulvi Sanaullah and my other opponents now evade theissue and continue to call me an unbeliever and the Dajjal, then it shall not be their right to resort to trickery after being vanquishedand after having been left with- out an answer — they shall be deemed as liars in the eyes of the public.
And I give them permission to collaborate and collectively write a response to my Urdu article and the encomium containing current events. I shall not object to such an arrangement. If they print and pub- lish the encomium and the reply to the accompanying Urdu article within the stipulated time period, then certainly I shall be proven a liar. As I have done in myencomium, they should also write the Urdu trans- lation below every verse, and they should consider this a condition (of thecontest) along with the other conditions.
God-willing, on the morning of November 16, 1902, I shall send this book, Ijaz-e-Ahmadi, to Maulvi Sanaullah, and Maulvi SyedMuhammad Sarwar shall hand deliver it to him. On the same day, I shall send this book through registered mail to all those peoplewho are addressed in this encomium. Finally, I am even willing to allow all these opponents a period of fifteen days to write andpublish the afore- mentioned response.
Following this, Hazrat Mirza factored in the mail delivery time and set December 10, 1902 as the deadline by which the opponentswere required to publish the Urdu response and the Arabic encomium. Thus, the opponents had a total of twenty five days from the publication of Ijaz-e-Ahmadi on November 15, 1902 for the response. Hazrat Mirza added:
If within the appointed period the opponents publish the required response, then, so to say, I will stand annihilated, and my party should desert me. And if it is not published, then not only will the opponents be deprived of the ten thousand reward money but ten curses will also fall to their lot.
True to his promise, Hazrat Mirza sent Maulvi Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah and Sheikh Yaqub Ali Torab on the morning of November 16, 1902 to deliver the book Ijaz-e-Ahmadi to Maulvi Sanaullah. The book was dispatched by registered mail to all other opponents addressed in the book. In addition, the book was disseminated among the general public.
During Hazrat Mirza’s morning walk on November 17, somebody brought up the subject of the book Ijaz-e-Ahmadi. HazratMirza remarked that his opponents would merely resort to the ruse of stating that, if they wanted to, they could write a response. Their parable was like the parable of the man who publicized that his goat beats up the lion. When people wanted to see this spectacle, the man replied, “Whenit wants to, it can beat up a lion; right now, it does not want to.” Hazrat Mirza opined that his opponents would resort to similar ruses. That is exactly what happened.
Opposition flees from a confrontation
Nobody wrote a response to the Arabic encomium or the accompany- ing Urdu article. The deadline of December 10, 1902, arrived and passed. The response was not destined to appear, and it did not. The myth of the Arabic scholarship of the opponents wasshattered.
The death of Qazi Zafar-ud-Din
There was one person, however, who did try to respond to the challenge. He was Qazi Zafar-ud-Din of Gujranwala. Qazi Zafar-ud-Din was a professor of Arabic at Oriental College, Lahore, and was also the editor of the Arabic lit- erary magazine Nasim-al-Saba. He wasan inveterate enemy of Hazrat Mirza and started composing a response to Hazrat Mirza’s encomium. He had hardly composed a few verseswhen he was suddenly taken ill and died. In this way, Hazrat Mirza’s prophecy was fulfilled in all of its aspects. Hazrat Mirza hadprophesied that no one would be able to produce an encomium like his and no one will be able to publish a response within the stipulated deadline, and if somebody attempted to write a response, then God would thwart such an endeavor. Thus it was that when Qazi Zafar-ud-Din, an egotistic and arrogant person, who was highly inimical and hostile towards Hazrat Mirza, started writing a response to Hazrat Mirza’s encomium, he had hardly composed a few incomplete verses when he departed from this world. Even those incom- pleteverses were not published within the appointed timeframe.
Decampment of Maulvi Sanaullah
Maulvi Sanaullah who was the primary reason for the writing of the book Ijaz-e-Ahmadi was not a novice who would expose himself to public humiliation. He conveniently forgot his previous boasts regarding his great Arabic literary skill and totally ignored the demand for writing an Arabic encomium and an Urdu response. Even the prize money of ten thousand rupees failed to tempt him.Instead, he chose to accept the medal of ten curs- es reserved for the person who did not write a reply.
As for the prayer duel (mubahalah), there was no way Maulvi Sanaullah could have mustered courage for it. Falsehood can never have the courage to go head to head with the truth, and Maulvi Sanaullah was not going to venture this way. It is one thing to boast from the stage but quite another to implement the affair in reality.
However, he did see one opening to his liking. Hazrat Mirza had invit- ed him to Qadian to investigate and check Hazrat Mirza’s prophecies, and had offered to pay hundred rupees for every prophecy that was proven to be false. Hazrat Mirza had further stated that Maulvi Sanaullah “would never come to me in Qadian to check my prophecies.” This statement was not a prophecy based on any revelation, but rather Hazrat Mirza’s own surmise. Hazrat Mirza knew, based on his God given sagacity, that a prejudiced and hostile opponent like Maulvi Sanaullah had no concern with checking the truth of his prophecies. If the spirit of inquiry had been a part of his nature, he would not have denied their veracity in the first place and would not have resorted to mockery and ridicule. Hazrat Mirza’sinvitation to him had essen- tially been motivated by the wish to settle the matter definitively. Otherwise, Maulvi Sanaullah and checking the veracity of prophecies! These were two contrary things that could not be in one place together.
Enmity can take a man anywhere to participate in a prayer duel or debate, but it takes a person with a sound nature to go in search of the truth. Maulvi Sanaullah did not possess such a nature. Later events proved this to be the case. Maulvi Sanaullah was a crafty man; he realized that there was only one strategy that posed no danger to his life because no Divine adjudi- cation was involved — something that falsehood always fears. Further, this was the only way in which falsehood could be confused with truth because an argumentative format could easily be introduced in the guise of checking the prophecies. In addition, it is not difficult to raise objections against any prophecy; Hazrat Mirza could provide all the necessary clarifications, but it is easy to say in the end after he has finished: “I am not satisfied by the answers.” In the light of these considerations, Maulvi Sanaullah chose his strategy carefully and made his way to Qadian.
On January 10, 1903, about two months after the publication of Ijaz-e- Ahmadi, Maulvi Sanaullah furtively reached Qadian withno advance information to anyone. Hazrat Mirza’s intuition that Maulvi Sanaullah “would never come to me in Qadian to check my prophecies,” proved accu- rate. Propriety demanded that Maulvi Sanaullah should have asked for an appointment with Hazrat Mirza, and then come to him as a seeker of truth and objectively checked out the prophecies. What he actually did was to arrive in Qadian unannounced, just when Hazrat Mirza was preparing to leave for Jhelum to appear in court regarding some litigation. On arrival in Qadian, Maulvi Sanaullah directly proceeded to the Arya temple which was a hotbed of opposition against Hazrat Mirza.
Obviously, Maulvi Sanaullah’s behavior was not that of a person who seeks to conduct an honest investigation. An honest investigator does not approach the party being investigated as an opponent; neither does he align himself with the opponents of the party being investigated; nor does he attack the party like an enemy. That is the way to dispute and debate, not to investigate truth!
But the reality was that Maulvi Sanaullah was not concerned with the investigation of truth. He had come just to raise objectionsabout the prophe- cies, and to dispute and debate. He knew that Hazrat Mirza had renounced debating in his book Anjam Atham. Hazrat Mirza would therefore decline a debate and this would give Maulvi Sanaullah an opportunity to trumpet his false victory. And if Hazrat Mirza agreed to a debate, he would clamor that Hazrat Mirza’s announcements were fictitious and that Hazrat Mirza had agreed to debate after forswearing not to. Maulvi Sanaullah felt that this was a hand he could not lose. He started laying the foundations for a debate as soon as he arrived. On January 11, 1903, he informed Hazrat Mirza about his arrival through a written note that did not beginwith the customary salutation — a fact that casts light on Maulvi Sanaullah’s mentality. He wrote:
I have come to Qadian in accordance with the invitation extended in Ijaz-e-Ahmadi. I hope that you will not spare any effort in aiding my understanding, and, as promised, you will give me permission to express my views regarding your prophecies beforean audience.
Note the craftiness and fabrication in the statement: “as promised, you will give me permission to express my views regarding your prophecies before an audience.” Nowhere had Hazrat Mirza promised that Maulvi Sanaullah could come to Qadian and express his views regarding Hazrat Mirza’s prophecies before an audience. There was no need for him to make such a promise. Hazrat Mirza had actually only invited Maulvi Sanaullah to come to Qadian to investigate his prophecies. However, Maulvi Sanaullah very craftily turned this into: “as promised, you will give me permission to express my views regarding your prophecies before an audience,” just to lay the foundation for a debate.
Hazrat Mirza had been informed about Maulvi Sanaullah’s abusive and mocking style, and he was well aware of how Maulvi Sanaullah tended to taunt others, and to instigate the audience. Hazrat Mirza understood that Maulvi Sanaullah’s sole objective was to have an arena in Qadian where he could repeat the Mudh performance of almost starting a riot among the audi- ence by his ridicule, mockery and taunting. This was his strategy to prevent the truth from being unveiled. Consequently, on the following day (January 12,1903), Hazrat Mirza replied:
I have published an oath in my book Anjam Atham that I will not henceforth debate with my opponents because other than listening to dirty abuses and dissolute statements, it has not accomplished any- thing. However, I am ready even now to remove the doubts of anyone who comes as a seeker of truth. In accordance with my oath, I do not want to set up an arena for a debate. If you want to investigate as a seeker of truth and are desirous of removing your doubts, then the eas- iest way to do it is that I will devote three hours to this work daily. Even though I am very busy with writing and publishing and many other religious works, I am willing to devote three hours every day for you. Every day you can raise objections on any one of my prophecies; your objections, however, should not deviate from the path of the prophets i.e., you will not raise any objections which may be equallyapplicable to the prophecies of the prophets. You will write your objec- tions briefly in a few sentences and will hand them to me; you will not be permitted to speak or make a speech. I will read out the objections in a loud voice to the audience and will then explain and clarify the objections in my response. After an hour of my response, you will be asked if you are satisfied or not. If you are not satisfied, you will write and hand over to me any objection or doubt that may have been created in your mind as a result of my explanation. I will read it aloud to the audience and announce that this is the doubt that has now been created in MaulviSanaullah’s mind about the prophecy, and this is its reply. In this way, all the doubts will be removed. You have been preventedfrom speaking or giving a speech because such permission would cre- ate an atmosphere of debate and that is not the right way to conduct an investigation of the truth. You are desirous of getting your doubts removed — this proposed solution is the best way to approach the matter.
In addition, Hazrat Mirza wrote that: “Your furtive arrival in Qadian with no advance information and the taking up of your abode with the ene- mies of Islam shows the intentions with which you have come to Qadian.”
Maulvi Sanaullah responded: “I came unannounced because you had not imposed any condition that I should come only after providing due notice.” He then mockingly added: “Why did your God not inform you?” He went on to say: “You are giving me very little time while taking three hours yourself. I impose this condition that while I will write my objection in three lines, I will also make a speech of ten minutes, and after every hour I will write three lines and make a speech of five to ten minutes in which I will express myopinion about your replies. The number of participants from both sides should be restricted, and should not exceed twenty-five from each side.”
Under Hazrat Mirza’s directions, Maulana Syed Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi wrote in reply: “By your speech at the beginning and after every hour, the proceedings will definitely take on the color of a debate. Hazrat Mirza has made a solemn pledge with Allah,the Most High, which is present in a published form in Anjam Atham that he will not debate in future. It is inconceivable for an appointee of Allah to act in a manner contrary to his pledge with God. Is the procedure proposed by Hazrat Mirza not sufficient for anyone seeking the truth? And there is no need to restrict the gathering. We desire that the whole of Qadian and even people from othertowns should come so that the truth may be manifested to everyone.”
Maulvi Sanaullah did not accept the conditions detailed by Maulana Amrohi for investigating the truth, and returned to Amritsar. On his return, he bragged about his victory among his friends and even wrote an article in the newspaper, which was overstepping on his part.
The fine distinction between a debate and the investigation of truth
Maulvi Sanaullah had come to Qadian with a set purpose but events did not unfold according to his wishes. The fact is that unless someone is really desirous of seeking the truth, it is easy to keep objecting in a spirit of contradiction. One can raise objections as many times as one wants against prophets, against God, and against anything else. The objector can object in a sentence but the responder may require, at times, several hours to give a reply. The reply itself can then be used to raise further objections. Thus, there is ample scope to keep the process in motion for an extended period. It was for this reason that Hazrat Mirza had proposed to Maulvi Sanaullahthat after every hour, he should write his objection in two or three lines and give it to him. It would then be Hazrat Mirza’s responsibilityto answer the objections. This is the appropriate way to proceed with the investigation of truth i.e., to set forth one’s objections anddoubts and get an explanation. If one is not sat- isfied after an hour of elucidation and clarification and some more objections and doubtsare born, then these should be submitted in writing and a response obtained. If one is still not satisfied, then the process of objecting in writing and receiving a response can be repeated. However, Maulvi Sanaullah had not come to Qadian for the purpose of investigatingthe truth, but only to dis- pute and debate. For this reason, he wanted to speak in opposition.
Maulvi Sanaullah’s tongue was sharp like a razor in speech. Once, at the annual convention of the Anjuman Himayat Islam, MirzaArshad Gorgani had read the following impromptu verses regarding the speech of Maulvi Sanaullah:
Sharper than a razor is his tongue;
I fear lest he sever the Islamic faith from its root!
The verses were so apt that cries of approval and appreciation rang out from the audience. Hazrat Mirza knew that Maulvi Sanaullah would not refrain from his habit and would invariably resort to taunts and rebukes. If the respondent took offence and replied in a likemanner, the proceedings would degenerate into an argument, or worse — a dispute. In the process, the real purpose of investigating the truth would get defeated. The fact is that under such conditions, it is extremely difficult to bring a dialogue to closure once such an argumentative dialogue has been initiated. Hence Hazrat Mirza imposed the condition that whatever criticism was to be made should be made in writing. If the real purpose is to investigate the truth, it does not real- ly matter whether the objection is made in writing orverbally. However, one can pack a ten minute speech with scores of taunts and rebukes and dozens of mocking caricatures, thereby diverting the subject towards totally differ- ent tangents. On the other hand, any objection can be written down within the span of a fewlines, but there is no scope for taunts and rebukes. After all, why was Maulvi Sanaullah insisting so vehemently to be allocated sufficienttime to speak in opposition?
Hazrat Mirza had invited Maulvi Sanaullah to investigate the truth of his prophecies and not to debate. There was no need therefore to convert the investigation into a debate by giving Maulvi Sanaullah enough time to speak in opposition. The difference between a debate and the investigation of truth is that the investigator presents his objections and then listens to the expla- nation. In adebate, on the other hand, a debater both listens to the replies that his opponent gives to his objections but at the same time has to furnishreplies to the objections that his opponent raises against him. A person who seeks to investigate the truth speaks less, and listens a lot. His job is to pres- ent his doubts, and then spend the rest of the time listening attentively to the reply of the responder to ascertain whether the answer is satisfactory or not. If there is something in the response that does not appeal to him, then it is his job to submit it to the responder and get his response to it. Thus, the investi- gation of the truth requires only to get a reply, and not to give a reply. Adebate, however, requires both getting a reply and giving a reply.
Hazrat Mirza did not like debates because debates are not conducive to the investigation of the truth. Each participant sticks to his position and adamantly asserts the correctness of his views, while at the same time doing his best to reject the position of the opponent, often with taunts and rebukes. Secondly, Hazrat Mirza had made a solemn pledge with God and taken an oath that he wouldnot debate in future with the clerics;1 this pledge and oath were published in Anjam Atham. If he had acted contrary to his pledge, hewould have been guilty in the eyes of God, and the clerics too would have had a field day alleging that the violator of a pledge with God and the breaker of an oath cannot be an appointee of God.
Maulvi Sanaullah’s actions clearly showed that his motivation was not to investigate the truth but to debate and dispute. He wanted a forum where he could mock, jeer, contradict and falsify and this was against the spirit of the invitation that had been extended to him. Hazrat Mirza was prepared to fulfill his obligation to help in the investigation of the truth, but he was not prepared to provide aforum for Maulvi Sanaullah’s antics.
It is this author’s opinion that a significant benefit of this episode was that God, through the aegis of His appointee, taught thescholars of the world a most excellent method for investigating truth i.e., the method proposed by Hazrat Mirza to Maulvi Sanaullah.
The scholars as well as the general public usually consider debates and arguments as important ways to decide between truth and falsehood. In line with this thinking, Hazrat Mirza, in the initial period after making the claim of being the Promised Messiah, used to debate with the scholars who chal- lenged him. Under certain circumstances, Hazrat Mirza himself challenged scholars and hereditaryreligious leaders to a debate so as to establish a point of truth or to reject some falsehood. However, experience quickly taught him that the debate format creates stubbornness in the other party, and the party persists and insists on its wrong view. In most cases the argument deterio- rates into a dispute. It is the standard practice of villainous clerics in debates to mislead and instigate the public resulting in dissension and conflict. In most cases, therefore, the debate format proves to be harmful rather than helpful in propagationand inviting people to the truth. For this reason, it was not long before Hazrat Mirza had to change his method. He became so dis-gusted with argumentative confrontations and debates that he made a pledge with Allah, the Most High, to forswear from debating infuture. He published his pledge in Anjam Atham along with the following statement in Persian. Today, I have carried out all that was obligatory upon me from the viewpoint of religious propagation and have safeguarded myself from the sin of abandoning one’s duty. The time has come when I should abstain from debating except to dispel doubts from the minds of truth- seekers. I have decided not to address the scholars after these clarifications even if they use derisive language against me as they have been doing in the past.
- See Appendix at the end of the chapter