All religions contain prophecies that foretell the advent of a special individual, who will come as a reformer in the latter days. In Islam, Muslims await a promised Mahdi and Messiah. The advent of the Promised Messiah(as) was prophesized by the Holy Prophet(sa) himself.
While the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community can be explored in detail here, these pages will focus on the life and times of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. His was a special life, one of immense success in the face of immense hardship, leaving a legacy that resonates more and more strongly in every region of the world.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) was born on February 13th 1835 in Qadian, a small village in India. He belonged to a noble family. Right from his childhood, the Promised Messiah(as) had a living relationship with God. He began to receive revelations from God, as well as visions and true dreams at an early age.
The Promised Messiah(as)’s father wanted for his son to pursue government service, which would allow him a handsome means to support his family financially. However, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) felt his time pursuing his worldly occupation was like a “prison sentence” as he was deeply attached to spirituality and enhancing his religious knowledge. Therefore, during his spare time, he continued to study the Holy Qur’an, and always strove to serve humanity, often helping those who were in need. He also spent his time debating with Christian missionaries who lived in his neighbourhood, defending his beloved faith, Islam.
June of 1876 was a tragic time for the Promised Messiah(as) as his father passed away. Earlier, on the same day, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) had received a revelation from God revealing about his father’s death. The Promised Messiah(as) was quite saddened by the death, and was worried about the troubles his family would now face, with limited financial means. However, since Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) was an individual loved by God, Allah Almighty sent another revelation,
“Is Allah not sufficient for his servant?” (39:37)
This assurance filled the Promised Messiah(as) with contentment that Allah Almighty would always provide for him. In 1868 or 1869, the Promised Messiah(as) received the revelation:
“Thy God is well pleased with what thou hast done. He will bless thee greatly, so much so that Kings shall seek blessing from your garments.”
History bears witness, that this revelation became reality, as the legacy of the Promised Messiah(as) unfolded and reached people from all over the world, from all walks of life, rich and poor, till today.
The flow of revelations and visions continued, until in 1882 he received the revelation which made it clear that he, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), was to be the appointed one, the one commissioned by God to serve His cause; he was the Promised Messiah(as).
This book not only helped pave the way for Ahmadiyya but also helped Islam at the time of need. At the time of the publication, Islam was facing religious attacks from various religious movements, including Christianity. Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya helped provide readers with convincing arguments against other religious movements.
This book contained arguments, proving the superiority of Holy Qur’an over other Holy Scriptures. It also proved the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa).
In 1889 Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) received the Divine revelation:
“When thou hast determined, put thine trust in Allah. And build the Ark under Our eyes, as commanded by Our revelation. Verily, those who swear allegiance to thee indeed swear allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hand.”
After this revelation Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) published a public announcement, that read:
“I have been ordained to announce that those who are seekers after truth should swear allegiance to me so that they may be enabled to find a way to the true faith, true purity and the love of God.’”
The call for Initiation or “Bai’at” was answered immediately by those who had already recognized that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) was indeed the Promised Messiah, and was appointed by God Almighty himself. The first Initiation ceremony took place in Ludhiana on 23rd March 1889, laying the foundation for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Hazrat Maulvi Nooruddin(ra), became the first person to be initiated at his hand.
Towards the end of 1890, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) received repeated revelations that Jesus(as) of Nazareth, in whose second advent both the Muslims and Christians believed, had died a natural death and that what was meant by his second advent was that a person should appear in the spirit of Jesus and that he himself was that person, the Promised Messiah(as).
After writing over 80 books and tens of thousands of letters, delivering hundreds of lectures, and engaging in scores of public debates, the Promised Messiah (as) passed away on May 26, 1908. Yet his legacy as the founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continues to prevail throughout the world today. He was a man, deeply in love with and treaded on the footsteps of his beloved master, the Holy Prophet (sa), with every breath of his life.
The Heavenly signs shown by God in the support of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as) are most remarkable and the majority of them were the fulfilment of his prophecies contained in Divine revelations granted to him. Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as) began to receive revelation in 1876, and as time passed, his experience of revelation multiplied progressively. Every one of his revelations was clearly fulfilled according to its tenor at its due time; some of them that related to future events have been fulfilled from time to time since his death and some after his demise.
He was granted progress and victory in the face of severe opposition and heavy odds. His enemies were humiliated and were unsuccessful. He has given many instances of acceptance of his prayers for his friends in most unexpected circumstances. Some signs are the incidents where many sick persons close to death and suffering from incurable diseases recovered as a result of his prayers. In some of the signs, God showed natural catastrophes in his support.
Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as) claimed that his signs were the result of the blessings of the Holy Prophet(sa). They were in fact continuing miracles of the Holy Prophet(sa). He was merely his servant whose mission was to uphold his honour in this age.
There were hundreds of signs and prophecies published by the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as) which were fulfilled. The most remarkable and dramatic fact about his signs is that he foretold the results by quoting his revelations which were frequently published or made known beforehand to hundreds or thousands of people. Thus Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as) gave fresh and living proof of the existence of Almighty God and challenged the unbelievers and atheists of the modern age.
The claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) essentially was that he had been appointed by Allah as the Reformer of the age. This basically was the claim but it covered many aspects. In reality, the present age, which is referred to as the ‘Latter Days’ in the scriptures of various religions, is the age about which many religions contain the prophecy that a world Reformer would appear to usher in the era of a Golden Age of mankind, for the ultimate unification of mankind. Hindus, for instance, refer to him as the reappearance of Krishna; the Jews are expecting a Messiah who has yet to come.
Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) prophesied that he himself would re-appear and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had prophesied that in the latter days a Reformer would appear in two guises. One would be under the title of al-Mahdi and the other under the title of the Messiah – ‘Messiah son of Maryam’, that is, Christ son of Mary.
The fundamental question that needs to be raised here is whether all the prophesied Reformers would come simultaneously or only one prophecy would be fulfilled and hence would be true and the rest false? On the other hand, if all the prophecies are true and every Reformer appears but appears under a different name, would this not give rise to religious conflict in the name of God? Such a scenario is therefore not only untenable, but it is also illogical. Unless one accepts the Ahmadiyya perspective that the different names given to the Reformer who was to appear in the latter days are titles – only one Reformer was to appear representing all the [promised] Reformers. Thus it is that the unification of religion would be brought about. According to the claims of the Promised Messiah, that is, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, this Reformer was to be born a Muslim, who was to be the follower of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, that is, the tradition of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) said:
“The Christians think that the time is coming when all the nations of the earth will accept the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus(as). The Jews entertain the fond hope that their Messiah will soon appear and make them the inheritors of the whole earth and bring the gentiles into the Jewish faith. The Islamic prophecies also give the hope of the advent of a Messiah who would make Islam the predominant and universal religion of the world, and the promised time of advent goes no further than the commencement of the 14th century of Hegira. And at this very moment the Pundits of the Sanatan Dharm are anxiously waiting for the advent of an avatar who would spread the true faith in the whole world..…
In short, the competition of religions has grown hot and every sect is inspired with the zeal to make acquisitions from other faiths. There is a commotion in the religious world more violent than the commotion which is caused in the sea by a storm, and as the billows roll down upon one another, so do at present the different religions.
The various movements described above lead one at least to this conclusion that the time has come at which Almighty God has willed to gather all men into one fold. Regarding this very time, He says in the Holy Qur’an:
And on that day We shall leave some of them to surge against others, and the trumpet will be blown. Then shall We gather them all together. (Ch.18: V.100)” (Review of Religions Vol.3, No.9)
Furthermore, the Reformer was to be the same person who was entitled both ‘al- Mahdi’ and ‘Messiah’. The Reformer, according to the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, was also to represent all the Reformers about whom prophecies had been made in the past in other religions that he would appear for the reformation of mankind.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) claimed to be the fulfilment of various prophecies found in world religions regarding the second coming of their founders. He never claimed to be the same physical Jesus who lived nineteen centuries earlier.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) claimed that Jesus died a natural death, in contradiction to the traditional Muslim view of Jesus’ physical ascension to heaven and the traditional Christian belief of Jesus’ crucifixion. He said that, just as Jesus had appeared in the 14th century after Moses, the promised messiah, i.e. the Mahdi, must also appear in the 14th century after Muhammad. According to him, the promised Mahdi was a symbolic reference to a spiritual leader and not a military leader in the person of Jesus Christ as is believed by many Muslims.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) rejected the idea of armed Jihad and argued that the conditions for such Jihad are not present in this age, which requires defending Islam by the pen and tongue but not with the sword. He said:
“Such is my claim. But the work for which Almighty God has appointed me, my function as the Promised Messiah, is that I should remove the estrangement which has taken place between God and man, and re-establish man’s connection of purity and love with his Divine master. I have been raised that I should put a stop to religious wars and lay the basis of peace, concord and fellow-feeling between men, that I should bring to light the religious truths which have long been hidden from the mortal eye, that I may show true spirituality by dispelling the darkness of passions from before its face, that I may manifest the working of Divine powers within man by prayer or by concentration of attention, and most important of all that I should re-establish the pure and glorious unity of God which is free from every mixture of shirk, and which has disappeared from the face of earth. All this will be effected not by my power, but by the mighty power of Him who rules in heaven and earth. I see that on the one hand Almighty God having trained me in His deep knowledge and having made me the recipient of His revelation, has granted me a zeal for bringing about these reforms, and on the other He has Himself prepared hearts which are ready to accept my words.” (Review of Religions Vol.3, No.9)
In short, the Ahmadiyya interpretation of all such earlier prophecies is that instead of all the different Reformers appearing separately and calling to various paths, only one person would appear as the Reformer. The one Reformer would represent all the other expected Reformers.
As a result of the divine signs and due to his profound knowledge through which the Promised Messiah(as) explained the existence and attributes of God Almighty and the way the Promised Messiah(as) defended Islam at a time when Islam was attacked from all the four sides, the Promised Messiah(as) became familiar throughout the world. His Arabic books were very much appreciated in the Arab world and Muslims from the Arab world started to visit him in Qadian and accept Islam Ahmadiyyat. The fulfilment of His prophecy regarding Alexander Dowie was a revolution that took place in the west. In this way, the message of Ahmadiyyat reached abroad during the lifetime of the Promised Messiah(as) itself and many truth-seekers came to meet him and accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat. Even in India, his message reached every nook and crevice. His books and his articles were widely spread and many of the humble souls came into the fold of Islam Ahmadiyyat. Hundreds of people took the pledge of allegiance and joined Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam.
After the demise of the Promised Messiah(as) the Ahmadiyya Muslim community began to flourish under the blessed leadership of Khilafat as it is the Sunnah of Divinely Jamaat. Various missions were set up throughout the world to propagate the true teachings of Islam.
Now by God’s grace, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spans over 213 countries of the world due to its peace-loving nature. Tens of millions of people have come into the fold of Islam Ahmadiyyat and every year Lakhs of people join Ahmadiyyat and the community is one of the most rapidly growing communities in the world.