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Editors: Shahid Aziz Mustaq Ali Contents: The Call of the Messiah Women in Islam by Mudassar Aziz Page 1 4
ِباہللْالرَّ م ٰ ن ْحالرَّ ْ ی م حم ْ ْس م ْ
The Call of the Messiah
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi No Ascension
It is clear from all this discourse that in the discussion whether Jesus is living or dead, the truth is on my side. Besides this proof, there are many more arguments which establish the death of Jesus the Christ to the degree of absolute certainty: for instance, the Holy Prophet’s saying that Jesus lived to a good old age of 120 years; and Hazrat Abu Bakr’s, reciting of the ْ َخل ْم ْ َ قbefore the َ د ْ ر verse موْ تُوْ ن ُ ْن قَبْلِہِ ال ِ ُ ل فِیْھَا ت ِ ت ُ َوفِیْھَا ت َ َحی ُون ِ س assembled Companions in order to drive home the truth that all the prophets before the Holy Prophet had died*; and the pronouncement of God Most High in the Holy Quran [Arabic page 52 missing] that man can neither live and survive, nor die anywhere away from and outside this earth; and Jesus’ title Masih, which means ‘one who travels much’, also points to the fact of
* Hearing this argument, all the Companions remained silent, and none raised any objection to it or said that not all the Prophets did die, and that Jesus was alive. It was a proof of the unanimity and
Hazrat Ameer opening the 100th-year celebration Jalsa commemorating the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Association for the Propagation of Islam
his death, for travelling presupposes existence on earth; otherwise, excepting the time when, having been delivered from the Cross, he might have travelled through different countries, there seems to be no other time when he would have embarked upon his travels; moreover, the period of time up to the event of Cross comes to three years and a half only, and this period obviously was much too small even for the purpose of his preaching, to say nothing of his travels in the countries; and in the same way, the ointment known as marham-i-‘Isa, mention of which has been made in nearly a thousand books on medicine, proves convincingly that at the time of crucifixion Jesus was not lifted up into heaven, but had his wounds dressed and cured by this ointment. It is, therefore, patently evident that Jesus remained on this earth and died on this earth, and during the night of Mi‘raj (the Holy Prophet’s Ascension) also, the soul of Jesus was encountered and witnessed among the souls of the dead. The Holy Prophet
consensus of opinion of the Companions on the point of Jesus‘ death; and if anyone, prior to this confirmation, held a different view, it obviously became null and void.
earthly. It is a common idiom used generally in the books of God.
The story of Jesus’ descent
But it needs to be remembered here that this story of the descent of the Messiah occurs in Muslim in a long Tradition reported by Nawas bin Saman, which our opponents interpret to mean that someone will drop from the clouds. But this interpretation, having been disproved and demolished by the above-mentioned arguments which we have adduced from the Quran, the Hadith and other sources, comes to nothing and disappears; for, in the case of this interpretation, a stark contradiction arises between it and the Holy Quran and Hadith. There is, therefore, no other remedy but to accept that the hadith and all the descriptions it contains have been couched in the language of metaphor; otherwise, if any literal interpretation were imposed upon it, all these Traditions, being mutually inconsistent and contradictory, will have to be rejected. But praised be God Most High that it has been decided in this connection that the principle underlying the prophecies is that one portion of them is to be treated as literal, whereas the other portion contains metaphors and figures of speech; there is, therefore, no need for the rejection of the hadith, but there is ample scope for interpretation and elucidation. Since that false belief – namely the doctrine of the Trinity and salvation through the Cross, for the eradication of which the Promised Messiah was to come – arose from Damascus, there was, in the knowledge of God, a relation between Damascus and the Messiah, the spiritual nature of the Messiah having its face turned from the very beginning towards Damascus, so that just as the Holy Prophet saw the Dajjal (Antichrist) in a vision making a circuit of the holy Ka‘ba like a thief seeking an opportunity to dismantle and destroy the Ka‘ba, in the same way, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) saw the Promised Messiah in a vision descending upon the Eastern minaret of Damascus. It was, then, simply a question of a visual representation in much the same way as was the Dajjal’s circumambulation of the Ka‘ba. Who could say that the Dajjal will, in actual fact,
Hazrat Ameer displaying the stamps issued by the British Post Office to commemorate the centenary of the Woking Muslim Mission is also reported to have said that if Moses and Jesus had been living, they would have submitted to and followed him. Now, no God-fearing man can, in the face of all the convincing arguments relating to the death of Jesus, believe in the doctrine that he is still alive.
Now that it has been proved that Jesus Christ is dead, there can be no other interpretation of the prophecy regarding the advent of the Promised Messiah than that another man from among this ummah [the Muslim community] will be raised in the power and spirit of Jesus much in the same way as John the Baptist (Yahya) had been raised in the name of the prophet Elias. In the acceptance of this interpretation of the prophecy no difficulty or obstacle has arisen; on the other hand, many unlikely and incredible things have begun to seem plausibile and reasonable, and there is no longer any need to interpret the ُ َ – نas meaning that someone term nazul – زول will drop from the clouds, rather, still retains its ordinary, normal sense as used when referring to wayfarers and travellers. It should be remembered that everyone who is due to come is spoken of, out of regard and respect, in terms of nazal – – نَزلand a wayfarer, for that reason, is called nazil - َزیل ِ ن. Again, supposing the term ‘heaven’ appears in the tradition, even then there is no contradiction, for all the deputies of God are called heavenly and they bring heavenly light with them, whereas the liars are called
become a Muslim and make a circuit of the holy Ka‘ba? Rather, any sensible person would understand this revelation to mean that the Dajjal’s spiritual nature was disclosed to the Holy Prophet in a vision and that this allegorical image was displayed before his eyes in which the Dajjal, in the form of a human being, was going round the Ka‘ba, indicating that the Dajjal would be the sworn enemy of Islam and that his evil-intentioned eye would ever be revolving round the Ka‘ba just as when anyone circumambulates the House. It is obvious that, just as a watchman goes round the houses at night, a thief also does the same; but whereas the watchman’s intention is to safeguard the house and arrest the thieves, the intention of the thief is to break open and burgle the house. In the Holy Prophet’s vision, the Dajjal’s spiritual characteristic of going round the holy Ka‘ba meant there arose the doctrine of the Trinity, creatureworship and the belief in salvation through the Cross, it was accordingly depicted and represented in the Holy Prophet’s revelation that the Promised Messiah had descended near the eastern minaret of Damascus; moreover, since the Promised Messiah’s spiritual nature was directed towards demolishing the doctrine of the Trinity, which had clearly originated in Damascus, it was for this reason that the Promised Messiah was shown to the Holy Prophet in a vision as if he had descended near the eastern minaret of Damascus.* It was exactly like the depiction in a vision to the Holy Prophet of the Dajjal circumambulating the Ka‘ba, and exactly as when it was shown to him that, after his death, the first of his wives to die would be the one whose hands would be the longest. By ‘longest’ hands were meant, in fact, almsgiving and
A section of the audience at the Jalsa in Lahore that he was liable to hatch a plot and contrive to deal a blow and destroy the honour of the Ka‘ba, whereas the Promised Messiah’s circumambulation of the Ka‘ba indicated that his spiritual nature would be engaged in the protection and defence of the House of God and in restraining and deterring the Dajjal. The same explanation holds well in the case of the spot where the Holy Prophet beheld the Promised Messiah descending on the eastern minaret of Damascus. Since Damascus is the very source from
*There is, for this reason, in another hadith reported ُ رأَی by Ibn ‘Asakir, the term ْت َ i. and according to this the Holy Prophet said that he saw, in a vision, Jesus, son of Mary descending near the eastern minaret of Damascus.
Qadian to the east of Damascus
It is, in fact, the case that matters are frequently disclosed to prophets and other recipients of Divine revelation couched wholly in metaphorical idiom, and that the prophets convey them to people exactly as they hear them or see them and that doing so constitutes no fault or mistake on their part since the revelation descends in that same form and shape. Nor is it necessary that knowledge of all the metaphors used in revealed and visionary prophecies be vouchsafed to the prophet, because particular trials and tribulations destined for a given age through the agency of prophecies cannot remain in existence in the event that knowledge of
media that simply would not be accessible to me them is propagated beforehand. Furthermore, it via cable news and newspapers. And I have nois also possible that particular secrets contained ticed recently that this medium has once again in some prophecies are disclosed to prophets, been lit up on the issue of women in Islam, and and yet at the same time they are not allowed to whether Islam opdivulge them to peopressed the female ple. To conclude, these gender or not. matters are certainly So I wanted to take a not repugnant to or broad look at the variinconsistent with the ous issues that some dignity of people bring up again prophethood, for perand again as the reafect and infinite sons that Islam is an knowledge belongs oppressor of women. exclusively to God Probably the most ofMost High. There is ten mentioned and criticised thing is the also, in the descent of ‘full veil’. Now it is such the Promised Messiah, Sultan Ahmet II Mosque (also known as the Blue a big issue for some the likelihood that he Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey Western countries that would make his apthey have introduced pearance at a place laws that ban women from wearing a full veil! situated to the east of Damascus, and according Men have decided that it is appropriate for them to geographical investigation that is Qadian; for to decide what women can and cannot wear in if a straight line be drawn from Damascus eastthe West! That certainly seems like a strange ward, you will find thereon a point exactly in the way of showing freedom to women. eastern direction where Lahore is, the provincial So do women in Islam have to completely capital of the Punjab, and Qadian is within the cover themselves up from head to toe in a veil? I suburbs of Lahore, at a distance of about 70 read out verses 30 and 31 from Chapter 24 of miles from Lahore. the Holy Quran and the first thing to notice is that it gives guidance to men on how to behave. Men are told to behave modestly by lowering Women in Islam their gaze, and secondly the same instruction is then given to women. Now men and women are by Mudassar Aziz (UK) both meant to cover their heads but women are additionally told that they must also cover their Chapter 24, verses 30 and 31 of the Holy Quran bosoms for modesty. say: This is the only place in the Holy Quran that "Say to the believing men that they lower I know of that talks about any sort of ‘veil’. The their gaze and restrain their sexual passions. full body coverings that the TV and print media That is purer for them. brandish like loaded weapons when reporting “Surely Allah is Aware of what they do. on Muslim women are not mentioned in the “And say to the believing women that they Holy Quran at all. lower their gaze and restrain their sexual pasVerse 31 does, however, say “do not display sions and do not display their adornment except your adornment except what appears thereof”. what appears thereof. And let them wear their This makes it clear that you dress modestly to head-coverings over their bosoms." the extent that it is culturally normal where you live. So this shows that there is not a rule for all I am a big fan of consuming news from the women to wear a full veil. It means that you online medium of Twitter, as I find that it is gendress appropriately to the culture in which you erally the first place to get breaking news and live. more often than not has more accurate informaAs an example, what might be thought of as tion than what is fed to us via traditional media, modest in Britain might not be seen that way in and I am able to access a plethora of worldwide
or ordered to wear a full body covering at all. India. So if you lived in India but dressed with Women, like men, are given guidance to act the British mentality of modesty, then you are modestly and dress modestly and appropriately. not following this instruction of the Holy Quran. The Islamic view is that it is demeaning for Following this example through then, somemen and woman to display themselves like a one who lives in England and wears a full body product or a piece of meat in a shop window. A covering is in fact not following the guidance person is to be recognised for their ability, their given by Allah on how to behave modestly, as it knowledge, and their achievements and not just is not appropriate to the culture in which they by physical appearances. are living. In fact, wearing a full veil makes a person stick out in Britain and makes people The next thing I often hear is that men in stare; this is hardly following the guidance of Islam are superior to women and women must being discreet and modest. obey their men without question. Unconditional obedience to men? Well this is an easy one to We have seen from numerous news reports answer. The answer is no that women who have and that is because no worn the full covering in person can command public have been attacked unconditional obedience in the streets of European from anyone, whether cities, and it is clear that it’s a man or a women. Allah asks women not to Only the Divine Being, dress in a way which puts Allah can command unthem in danger, therefore conditional obedience a full veil is inappropriate from mankind. in these countries. The verse in the Holy Furthermore, if we Quran which has sparked look at some examples the above accusation is from early Islam we find The Blue Mosque – at night Chapter 4, verse 34, and that women played a very it says; active role in the community. The Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) first wife was a successful business per"Men are the maintainers of women, with son, and she had, in fact, employed the Holy what Allah has made some of them to excel othProphet (pbuh) to work for her. ers and with what they spend out of their wealth. So the good women are obedient, guardDuring times of war women tended to the ing the unseen as Allah has guarded." injured, collected armaments like swords, arrows and shields from the battlefield and The problem with understanding verses like brought water for the soldiers. Women worked these is that people simply pick out a few words in the orchards and fields side by side with men. like ‘excel’ and ‘obedient’ and make an assumpHow would they have been able to do these tion on what the verse means without trying to things if they all had to wear a full body covering understand what is being said or understanding in public? how Islam treats a family structure. The only exceptions to what I have just menWhen it says men are the maintainers of tioned are the wives of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) women, this is an instruction to men that we are who, after some times, for their own safety were obliged to make sure that whatever else we do told to observe a full covering. This came parin life, that we make sure our wives are looked tially as a result of the time Hazrat Ayesha got after. The burden of paying the mortgage or rent lost in the desert and false and damaging ruand the bills are on the man not the woman. And mours were spread about her. But even then the that extends to making sure we look after our full covering did not exclude them from public mothers and sisters and all the women of our life. Hazrat Ayesha for example still ran her own family. Women have no responsibility to bring in seminary and many learned men and women money to cover these types of costs. Allah is sayattended to learn from her details about the ing that that is the primary duty of the man. And Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) life. in fact Allah goes further to say that men are not So on the basis of these two verses and what allowed to tell their wives how to spend their we know from how women lived at the time of money. Whether that be an allowance they are the Holy Prophet (pbuh) women are not obliged given or money earned from working, women
their husbands? Absolutely not. The last objection are free to spend it however they wish, without people make – and when I say “people”, it’s usually influence from their husbands. white men who think by pushing Western values on And when it says Allah has made some of women they are somehow saving them – is that them to excel others, this is not saying or even they claim that in the Holy Quran it states that men suggesting that Allah says men are better than are allowed to beat their wives. women. Unlike in English were usually a word This once again all comes down to how one has one meaning, in Arabic a single word can word, daraba, is interpreted by people. As I menhave multiple meanings depending on how it is tioned earlier, Arabic words can have multiple written and in what context it is written. meanings, and this word is a classic example of If I said “Pass me the pen” or “Pass me the that. It can mean ‘strike’ or ‘hit’ and it can also stapler” in English then you understand what I mean ‘send away’. Now Islam makes rules to regumean and can pass me the correct item, as these late the breakdown of a marriage, just like most things have a fixed meaning, but if I said “Give countries around the world, and it gives four inme that stationery” then you would need furstructions to follow in trying to reconcile a marther context from me to give me the right thing riage that is in serious trouble. as ‘stationery’ covers It says that if there is a many items. complete breakdown of The word ‘excel’ in matrimonial relations this scenario should be the first thing men taken to mean an extra should do is to separate duty men have to bear, their beds. The reason so we have extra duties is obvious. It is to proabove those which we tect women from being are already responsible forced into having sexfor, so, for example, ual relations with their providing emotional husbands against their support to our wives or will. Nowadays, we call helping with looking it matrimonial rape. after the children, etc. Next, talk to the wife Now, when underA meeting room at Topkapı Palace and try and sort out the stood properly this differences between each other without at this verse describes modern-day life and relationstage involving others. ships. Although men and women both go out and work, men always feel like they need to Then the third instruction. Now, this says the make sure they bring in enough money to cover husband should daraba. And people have decided as many of the important costs as possible. As a that it means ‘strike’ or ‘hit’ or ‘beat’. Now let’s go man, I certainly feel like I should make sure that with that interpretation for a second and then read I am able to pay my mortgage and bills or I the final instruction. The fourth instruction says, if would be letting my family down, and all the none of these measures work appoint outsiders to friends I have feel exactly the same. And as a mediate between them. So the people who say daloving husband I also want to make sure my raba in this instance means ‘beat’ are suggesting wife is happy and I want to have an active inthat the Holy Quran says “First beat your wife, and volvement in all aspects of my child’s life, and if that doesn’t work then go and get counselling”! again everyone I know feels exactly the same. How would counselling work if, even after beating your wife, things still do not improve? What is the And finally, where it says “And the good man meant to say during the counselling session? “I women are obedient”, this means obedient to hit her and she still does not act reasonably!”? Allah and not, as so many anti-Islamists suggest, obedient to men. So this verse for me is Allah If we apply the other meaning of ‘send away’, directly telling men what our duties are and the instructions become ‘separate your beds, talk to what we need to do to make sure we have a conyour wives, and if these measures do not sort out tent and happy family. the problem send them away’. The modern version of this is called a trial separation. ‘And if none of So are men superior to women? Do women these measures work appoint outsiders to mediate have to unquestioningly follow the command of
between them’. So my opinion – and many others are now agreeing with this – is that Islam does not allow men to beat their wives and this was a misinterpretation of the verse. And of course now, that that is cleared up people will inevitably say, “Well, why do the women have to leave and not the men?” Again, they make this statement because they do not understand how the family structure works in Islam. As I mentioned before, in Islam men are given the responsibility to look after the whole family, and so often the grandparent, the parents and siblings and wives of brothers, etc., will all live in the house together, so we are told that rather then ten or twelve people all leaving the house, just the wife does for a short period of time. Does it make sense that just one person who came from far away areas to get a better understanding of Islam from her. It’s thought that 40% of the knowledge of Hadith came from her. How would she have given this knowledge if she had to stay at home and not be allowed out? Or was not allowed to talk to men? So if you look at the lives of women then, and then look at these verses, there can be no other way to interpret them. So Islam does not force a woman to wear a full veil, it does not say men are superior to women, it does not say that women have to unquestioningly obey their husbands and it does not allow men to hit their wives. But have and do Muslim men do these things? Yes they do, of course they do. Looking at any Muslim majority country you can see that
When the call to the Friday prayer is given, street vendors just cover their wares and shopkeepers leave their shops open and leave leaves, or is it better that the wife be forced to stay with people who might resent her due to the marital issues, whilst the husband leaves? So, this makes complete sense and is the logical thing to do, and has nothing to do with the made-up perception that Islam treats women badly and makes them leave the home. People will probably say “Why should the way I have understood these verses be right?” Well, as I have always said, let’s look back and see how things actually were at the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and after. During those days of Islam women ran businesses, they went to the Mosque, they were leaders and were involved in state matters. Hazrat Umar was taken to task by a women when he tried to change the law on dowry, and he accepted her argument and changed the law back. The Holy Prophet, when advising his cousin that she should not divorce her husband, was told by her that unless it was an instruction from Allah then she was within her right to do so, and he accepted that. Hazrat Ayesha was a hugely respected teacher who was revered by men and women women are often treated as second-class citizens. And this is an issue which needs to be urgently addressed. We cannot claim some sort of moral victory here just because we have clarified what the Holy Quran actually tells us. The facts are that women are mistreated and abused in countries where there is a Muslim majority. The international community needs to help and put serious pressure on these countries to put laws in place which protect women, and the people in these countries need to be educated to understand that they are violating the word of Allah by what they are doing, and they have to stand up to the mullahs and leaders who push a false understanding of Islam on them. But let’s have a look at women in the socalled Free World, the civilised world were women have the freedom to do as they please and are looked after by rule of law. Here are some facts about violence against girls and young women in the UK; sexual bullying and harassment are routine in schools and almost one in three 16–18 year-old girls say they have
experienced ‘groping’ and other unwanted sexual touching at school in the UK (YouGov). • One in three teenage girls in an intimate relationship has experienced sexual violence from a partner (NSPCC). • Sending sexual images via phones or online is often coercive and linked to harassment, bullying and even violence. The threat comes from friends, and girls are most adversely affected (NSPCC). • At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence according to the Department of Health. • The Children’s Commissioner identified that at least 16,500 children in England were at risk of child sexual exploitation in one year alone. Brutal gang rapes of women in India are not a scarce thing and were often overlooked. It took the brutal rape and murder of one young women last year in India before some steps were taken to try and address the issue. Despite those steps, further predatory gang rapes have and are occurring. Coalition troops hailed the rights given to women as a key success when they took control away from the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, instilling a Western value of rights for women, but attacks on women were more frequent and more brutal in 2013 then ever in Afghanistan. France passed a law which in part banned the wearing of a head scarf, stopping women from making the choice about what they want to wear. And those women who flout this law have been regularly attacked in the streets by people. According to WHO, 15% of women in Japan reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. What about in work? Surely there is more equality and women have the same opportunities as men. Well, of the top 1,000 companies in the USA, only 45 of them have a woman as their CEO – only 4.5%. And according to the TUC, women working full-time still earn almost £5,000 a year less than men, and the pay gap in some jobs is three times bigger than that. The Chartered Management Institute said that men’s bonuses in the UK were more than double those of women. When the Office of National Statistics looked at the people receiving the highest 10% of salaries in the UK, it found that 69% of them were men. And this is all after laws had to be passed in the UK so that women could receive equal pay to men. Without these laws how bad would it be? And despite all this bad news a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found last year that globally, women work harder than men in their jobs. And I could go on and on. These are just a few of the hundreds of examples and statistics that I found whilst researching the numbers. So is the West a beacon of hope for women’s rights? It seems not. I mention these things not in a ‘tit for tat, you’re no better’ kind of way, but this is to show that Islam, or any religion, is not at fault for the fact that women are treated as lesser than men, but it is men themselves and only men who are the catalyst for this, and scapegoating any religion or group of people will never solve the issues.
Tomb of Hazrat Ayyub al-Ansari (ra), who refused to leave when the Muslims failed to conquer Istanbul and was buried outside its walls
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