In the Name of Allah; the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful
Continuing from my last entry regarding Iqbal’s book Islam and Ahmadism, we will now move on to Iqbal’s arguments regarding the issue of the Finality of Prophethood.
Iqbal correctly states: “The cultural value of the idea of Finality in Islam I have fully explained elsewhere. Its meaning is simple: No spiritual surrender to any human being after Muhammad who emancipated his followers by giving them a law which is realisable as arising from the very core of human conscience. Theologically, the doctrine is that: the socio-political organisation called “Islam” is perfect and eternal. No revelation the denial of which entails heresy is possible after Muhammad.” (p. 21)
We are in agreement that the significance of Khatam-un-Nubuwwah (Finality of Prophethood) is that the law of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is final and universal, and there cannot come after him another law-bearing prophet, another Shari’ah (divine law), or another Revelation from God the denial of which entains Kufr (infidelity or disbelief).
However, Iqbal goes on to state that “Since the Qadianis believe the founder of the Ahmadiyyah movement to be the bearer of such a revelation, they declare that the entire world of Islam is infidel.” (ibid)
We have already refuted Iqbal’s false allegation that either the Ahmadiyyah movement or its revered founder declared “the entire world of Islam is infidel” in our previous entry in this series here. Specifically, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement penned his own statement that “I do not declare anyone who rejects my claim to be either a disbeliever or dajjal. ” (Ruhani Khaza’in; v. 15, p. 432)
Iqbal goes on to admit the brilliance of the Ahmadiyyah understanding of the Finality of Prophethood: “The founder’s [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s] own argument, quite worthy of a mediaeval theologian, is that the spirituality of the Holy Prophet of Islam must be regarded as imperfect if it is not creative of another prophet. He claims his own prophethood to be an evidence of the prophet-rearing power of the spirituality of the Holy Prophet of Islam.” (Islam and Ahmadism ; p. 21)
Thus far Iqbal has indeed correctly understood the founder of the Ahmadiyyah movement concerning the advent of a Prophet from within the Ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Rather than detracting from the high status of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the advent of a “prophet-like” figure from among his own followers is actually a testament to his excellence and the “power of his spirituality”. This is especially true if one considers the fact that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did not at all claim to be a prophet in his own right or independently of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Rather, Ghulam Ahmad asserted that the type of Prophethood he had attained was through strict adherence to the laws and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, and through utmost devotion and love of him. Ghulam Ahmad based his claim on the Sufi concept of Fana fil-Rasul which means a follower of the Prophet Muhammad annihilates his own self or ego and through strict emulation infuses himself with the persona of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is illustrated through one of Ghulam Ahmad’s divine inspirations:
جَرِيُّ اللّهِ فِىْ حُلَلِ الْاَنْبِيَآءِ
Allah’s Messenger in the garb of Prophets
Although it is evident that Iqbal understands this concept, he is unable to refute it on principle. Instead, Iqbal resorts to turning the tables by stating: “But if you further ask him [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad] whether the spirituality of Muhammad is capable of rearing more prophets than one, his answer is “No”. This virtually amounts to saying: “Muhammad is not the last Prophet; I am the last.” (pp. 21-22)
The answer to this allegation of Iqbal requires a more detailed clarification. Firstly, the spirituality of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has reared thousands and thousands of eminent pious and saintly individuals within the Ummah. Beginning with many of the Prophet’s senior companions, such as Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, his wife A’ishah, his daughter Fatimah, his two grandsons Hasan and Hussayn, the sword of God Khalid b. Walid, Salman the Persian, Bilal b. Rabah, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, and literally thousands of others (may Allah be pleased with them all). Then there are those who are generally referred to as the Awliya, the very pious saintly figures that arose from within the Ummah, the likes of Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (Rahimullah), and thousands upon thousands of others. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did not see himself in an altogether separate category from these thousands of other saintly figures who all obtained their greatness and high status through emulation of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Rather, Ghulam Ahmad simply regarded himself as the climatic figure in whom the greatest example of such a saintly figure following in the footsteps of the Prophet is personified. Until Judgment Day such saintly and eminent figures will continue to arise from within the Ummah, but according to Ghulam Ahmad, they will not reach higher than the status he attained. And Ghulam Ahmad has described the status he attained as the highest and most eminent position that is possible to attain in following the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). That status, if not Nubuwwah in the real or technical sense, must at least be considered as Nubuwwah in a figurative sense.
It is also noteworthy that Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be the promised Mahdi and Messiah. The coming of such a figure is accepted by the Muslim mainstream. The personality of the promised Messiah in particular is described as being endowed with Nubuwwah and, due to spiritual resemblance, given the name of Jesus son of Mary. Keep in mind that no other figure from within the Ummah has a Nass (textual proof) to be called as a Prophet or Messenger of God apart from the coming Messiah. This is the significance of the Hadith reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him):
كَيْفَ تُهْلِكُ أُمَّةً أَنَا أَوَّلُهَا وَالْمَسِيحُ آخِرُهَا
How can the Ummah be destroyed when I [Muhammad] am at its beginning and the Messiah is at its end?
This Hadith indicates that the Messiah is, chronologically, at the end of the Ummah, but this chronological “end” does not entail in it of itself any kind of virtue or excellence. In fact, there is no virtue or excellence in being the first, second, third, last, etc., in terms of birth or appearance for a Prophet, at least in a chronological sense.
Therefore, Iqbal’s objection is void and based on a failure to understand the true significance of the Prophet Muhammad’s Finality.