The Promised Messiahas on numerous occasions challenged all Christian missionaries who were making demeaning attacks on Islam. Few had the courage to respond. Reverend Imam-ud-Din, Reverend Thakar Das and Reverend Abdullah Atham published warnings against the growing influence of the Promised Messiahas in Nur Afshan.[1] The Christian missionaries who were targeting potential converts from among the Muslims were well aware of the positive impact that the Promised Messiahas was having on the Muslims, so they decided to remain silent until 1887 for fear of giving him any prominence. They did however publish a series of articles against the Promised Messiahas, from January to April 1887, this heightened the spirit of antagonism against him among the Christian circles.

Padri Fateh Masih humiliated

In May 1888 the Promised Messiahas was staying at Batala. In a public meeting on Friday 18th May attended by over 50 Muslims and Hindus a Christian missionary named Fateh Masih addressed the Promised Messiahas claiming that his prayers were also answered by God and like the Promised Messiahas he had also received the Word of God which contained prophecies about the future. He challenged the Promised Messiahas to compete with him in this respect and suggested that both should publish their prophecies in Nur Afshan.

An announcement was published by the Promised Messiahas and Monday May 21st, 1888, 10am was fixed as the date when the prophecies would be presented.

A considerable number of Muslims and Hindus gathered at the appointed time to hear the prophecies of the Promised Messiahas and Fateh Masih. But, to the astonishment of everyone, Fateh Masih started talking of other things. The Christian missionary was reminded by the prominent members of the society gathered, that the real purpose of the meeting was so they could listen to his prophecies in support of his faith, as he had claimed earlier. 

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Fateh Masih standing in the back row

Munshi Muhammad Bakhsh Mukhtar (Attorney general) openly testified to the fact that Fateh Masih had claimed powers similar to those of the Promised Messiahas. He had also informed the Reverend Herbert Udny Weitbrecht Stanton, Ph. D. D. D. (District Missionary, Batala, 1884-1896) in writing of his having done so.

Fateh Masih replied that he had not really meant to claim that he was the recipient of revelation; but that he had merely put forward a counterclaim in the previous meeting because he was sure that the Promised Messiah’s claim was devoid of truth. Ra’i Bashambar Das, a leading Hindu of Batala, and Babu Gurdit Singh Mukhtar (Attorney General) then publicly censured the Christian missionary for making such a false claim. Fateh Masih was thus humiliated in the eyes of the public, and the meeting dispersed. The Promised Messiahas issued a leaflet (printed at the Shamsul Hind Press, Gurdaspur) on May 24th, 1888, in which he announced that he would stay at Batala until the end of Ramadan and that if any European Christian wished to come forward instead, he would warmly welcome him. He specially addressed the Reverend H. U. W. Stanton, who was at that time in charge of the Christian Mission there.

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Some of the Western Missionaries challenged by the Promised Messiah(as)

The Promised Messiahas stated that if Rev. Stanton openly declared that Christians did not possess such powers, he was prepared to make one-sided prophecies. He proclaimed, however, that they would admittedly be of an extraordinary character, and that if he did not do so, he would offer Rs. 300 as damages for having wasted the valuable time of the Christian missionary. But one thing was essential – that if the Rev. Stanton was satisfied that the prophecy of the Promised Messiahas was really of a supernatural character, it should be published in the Nur Afshan with a definite undertaking on his part to embrace Islam on its fulfilment. The Rev. Stanton did not however, think fit to come forward but left for Simla. M. Abdullah Sanaurira a companion of the Promised Messiahas saw him as a seeker after truth and tried to persuade him to come forward, but without success.[2]

The Christian Missionaries would send annual letters to the Christian Mission Society. These letters and reports were compiled and published under the Church Missionary Intelligencer in a form of annual reports and were strictly accessible to the mission alone. However, these are now accessible for research purposes.  In one of these letters Rev. Herbert Udny Weibrecht Mission writes:

“Fath Masih has had an encounter today with Mirza Gulam Ahmad, a Mohammedan divine, of Nadian,[3] near this. Gulam Ahmad pretends to be inspired, and to have the gift of prophecy, and he has been trying to draw us for a long time past. Fath Masih remarked that he had just as good inspiration as Mirza Gulam Ahmad, whereupon the latter challenged him to a trial of gifts on Monday next, before a public assembly. Fath Masih is rather distressed at this, because the Mirza is a great man for subterfuges and sophisms.

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Monday, May 21st.-Yesterday, one of the Mirza’s hangers-on came and disturbed our preaching in a more troublesome manner than I have experienced since my return here, though this is nothing to what we used to have in Lahore. This morning the discussion came off with the Mirza. Fath Masih began by explaining that he did not claim himself to be inspired, but that he had impugned the Mirza’s supposed inspiration, giving several instances of it to show that it was no better than the pretensions of ordinary astrologers. Thereupon a leading Hindu in the audience remarked that the question was one as to details of facts in which they had no interest. He rose and left, and most of the audience followed, and so the matter dropped.”[4]

Fateh Masih proposed another test in the Nur Afshan, dated June 7th, 1888. He said four questions should, be written on paper at a public meeting held for this purpose and put in a sealed envelope and handed over to a person present there. The Promised Messiahas should then be required to tell the people the contents of the paper. The Promised Messiahas issued an announcement on June 9th, 1888, in which he accepted the proposal but added that it was of no use to address Fateh Masih, who had already proved his un-trustworthiness in this connection. The Promised Messiahas wanted Reverend Stanton to come forward. He undertook to disclose the contents within ten weeks, provided, the Christian missionary gave a public undertaking to the effect that he would become a Muslim if the Promised Messiahas succeeded in disclosing the contents. Failing that he would pay Rs. 1,000 as damages to the Anjuman Himayat-e-Islam of Lahore. But no one came forward.

The Promised Messiahas recalling the incident of Fateh Masih wrote:

A Christian of the name of Fateh Masih once claimed that he was the recipient of revelation. I asked him to make a prophecy and he was much confused. He proposed that a written note should be enclosed inside an envelope and that I should then spell out what was written therein. God the Almighty directed me that:

“You [should] accept it.”

When I accepted that challenge also, Reverend Whitebrecht announced, in the presence of several hundred people, that Fateh Masih was a liar.[5]

The Holy War, Abdullah Atham, Henry Martyn Clark

The Jandiala Christian Mission was started in 1854.[6] Later the Amritsar Medical Mission was established by Dr. Martyn Clark in 1882, consisting of a large central hospital with branches opened in Jandiala, the Beas, Narowal and Sultanwind[7]

Dr Robert Clark writing about the medical missions in the Amritsar district says:

“Of the value of Medical Missions as an evangelistic agency there is no need to speak. It was indeed the Saviour’s own method of introducing the Gospel”[8]

When studying these reports, one understands the systematic and shrewd ways deployed to propagate Christianity throughout India. The Promised Messiahas describing this situation wrote:

“Never has there been a greater period of such a dangerous trial for Islam, in fact since the inception of Prophethood, there has never been so. Apart from philosophical and scientific arguments anyone with expertise in any field employs it as a means to try and attack Islam. Both men and women are preaching and through various schemes are trying to detach people from Islam and want them to incline towards Christianity. If one goes into clinics, one would see how alongside giving medicines to patients, the Christian faith is being proselytized, and at times women and children, who are admitted into the hospital, are refused care until they became Christians. Christians were also preaching disguised as religious mendicants. In short, they adopted every possible means for this purpose”[9]

The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society was a separate women’s organisation. Women in India at that time were segregated under the purdah system and confined to the women’s quarters known as a zenana where unrelated men were forbidden from entering.  The Zenana missions were made up of female missionaries who could visit Indian women in their own homes with the aim of converting them to Christianity. 

Christianity appeared to be making some progress in Jandiala a small village in the district of Amritsar. The local Muslims began to defend Islam, and whenever Christian missionaries delivered their open-air speeches, they began to ask questions and raise objections. The mission authorities were compelled to take notice of this opposition. The Rev. Dr. Henry Martyn Clark who was in charge of Amritsar district, wrote a letter to Muhammad Bakhsh Pahnda,[10] of Jandiala, and suggested that decisive action should be taken in the form of a public debate between accredited representatives of the two faiths to stop the regular confrontations.[11]

Muhammad Baksh Pahnda immediately wrote to the Promised Messiahas enclosing a copy of that letter asking for instructions. The Promised Messiahas wrote directly to the Christians of Jandiala on April 13th, 1893, expressing his pleasure and intimating his acceptance of the invitation. But they refused to have any direct dealing with him and wanted an answer from the Muslims of Jandiala. The Promised Messiahas then addressed a letter to Dr. Martyn Clark on April 23rd, pointing out that the Muslims of Jandiala lacked a learned person from among them and that, therefore, it would be better if the matter was decided with him directly.

This letter was presented to the Reverend gentleman at Amritsar by a deputation consisting of Mirza Khuda Bakhshra, Munshi Abdul Haqra, Hafiz Muhammad Yusufra, Sh. Rahmatullahra, Maulawi Abdul Karimra and others. These persons were appointed by the Promised Messiahas as his representative to decide all matters of detail. The Reverend Missionary accepted the proposal, and the following understanding was arrived at:[12]

1. The debate will take place at Amritsar.

2. Only 20 persons of each party will be admitted, Muslim tickets being collected by Christians and vice-versa.

3. The Promised Messiahas will represent Islam and Abdullah Atham will represent Christianity.

4. No one else will be allowed to speak. Each advocate may select three assistants, but they will not speak.

5. Each party will take due notes of the proceedings for publication.

6.The time limit for a speech will be one hour.

7. The presidents will be the final authority in making all necessary arrangements.

8. There shall be two presidents, one from each side. They shall be appointed on the spot.

9. Dr. Henry Martyn Clark will fix the venue.

10. The debate will be held from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. with the time equally given to the two participants. 

11. The whole time will be divided into two parts. From May 22 to May 27, Ahmadas will put forward his claim according to his letter dated April 4th to Dr. Clark i.e., every religion should prove its truth with living signs.

12. The second question shall then be discussed i.e., the divinity of Jesusas, and then Ahmadas will have the right to ask any other question. But this should take only six days.

13. The second part will also take six days. Abdullah Atham will put forward the following questions, if necessary, from May 29 to June 3:

(a) Mercy without any consideration, (b) Freedom of will and predestination, (c) Compulsion in religion. (d) Proof of the Quran being the Word of God. (e) Proof of Muhammadsa being a Messenger of God. Any other question could also be asked by Abdullah Atham, for which he could be allowed six days.

14. Admission tickets shall be issued by May 15th. They shall conform to the prescribed form.

(Signed) Henry Clark, M.D.

Dated 24-4-1893. Amritsar.

Before the debate could take place a series of letters were exchanged between the two parties relating to the approach and detail of the debate.

The Promised Messiahas in one of these letters wrote that the discussion should not be confined to this earth. He did not care much for worldly debates where mere erudition is paraded. He wanted to judge a tree by its fruits i.e. The representative of Christianity should be able to show a living sign for the truthfulness of their faith. One distinctive element in the approach of the Promised Messiahas inviting others to Islam through his publication was his conviction of the support of the Almighty God. Hence, we see that whenever the Promised Messiahas invited an opponent for a debate he required from them to publish that, upon seeing a sign for the truthfulness of Islam, they would accept the truthfulness of Islam and if a sign was not witnessed, then the person would be compensated for his time. This way of discussion was to bring a conclusive end to the entire effort or else it would not hold any distinction to the debates held between Islam and Christianity prior to the Promised Messiahas.

Thus, the Promised Messiahas in reply to Abdullah Atham’s letter wrote, should he, Abdullah Atham witness a sign in support of the Promised Messiahas, after the debate, he needed to publish a statement in Noor Afshan or Manshur-e-Muhammadi[13]  or any other Arya newspaper of his choice, that he would be ready to accept Islam. However, if no such sign was witnessed then the Promised Messiahas would grant him half of his property.

When writing to the Christians of Jandiala the Promised Messiahas clarified that as both religions claim to be from God and claim His assistance and support, the purpose of this debate was to establish the truth once for all. A claim without Divine support holds no value. The Promised Messiahas desired that a worthy western priest should come forward for this debate and added the names of senior Indian missionaries- Imadudeen, Thakur Das and Mr Abduallah Atham for this purpose.[14]

In a letter of   23 April 1893 to Henry Martyn Clark, the Promised Messiahas wrote that he has been standing firm in this position for at least 10 years and Henry Martyn Clark is well aware that he has sent thousands of registered letters to missionaries like him to come forward for this purpose and if proven false he is willing to accept any punishment.[15] Then again in reply to Henry Martyn Clark’s letter of conditions attached, the Promised Messiahas after accepting the conditions wrote that first it is important to determine the purpose of this debate because debates between the Christians and the Muslims have been happening in the country for a very long time and as usual both parties announce self-proclaimed victory. For if that is all then there is no need for such a debate. The Promised Messiahas proposed a Mubahila[16] in addition to the debate where both parties after uttering their belief would pray for Divine support – if they were indeed truthful, then the support of God would be with them, and if not, they would be humiliated. Furthermore, if a sign was witnessed in support of one party, then the other party should either accept the faith or give half of their property. This way   God might make a decisive distinction between the two contending parties within one year from that date. But the Christians kept silent. Therefore, after waiting for a week, the Promised Messiahas issued a leaflet on May 3rd in which he pointed out the necessity and importance of the procedure suggested and invited Dr. Clark to accept his invitation openly by a leaflet.

Abdullah Atham sent a reply in which he said that fresh miracles were not necessary to demonstrate the truth of Christianity, but if the Promised Messiahas could show miracles, Christians would gladly witness them and would also amend their views as far as possible. A miracle, however, should be within the range of possibility. He further added that Christianity did not permit Mubahalas (prayer duel) because Christians ought not to curse anyone, but that he, the Promised Messiahas could do so on his part, and wait for one year.

The Promised Messiahas explained that he had not used the word miracle. What he wanted was to test a tree by its fruits. Overall, however, he expressed his satisfaction at the reasonable attitude adopted in reply. He pointed out that a Mubahala was permitted in the Bible and that there was nothing in the Bible against praying to God to make a distinction between truth and falsehood. Mubahala did not involve cursing anyone except one’s own self, if one is false. It is also in the common interest of the public that falsehood should not pass for truth, especially in a case where parties earnestly seek and are also honestly prepared to submit themselves entirely to Divine judgment. If, however, the Christians were not prepared for this, he would initiate a Mubahala on his part.

On May 12th, 1893, Dr. Clark printed a leaflet and had it published on the same day in a supplement of Nur Afshan. It was addressed to the Muslims of Jandiala, and it stated that due to the fatwas (religious edicts) against the Promised Messiahas they could not hold a debate with a non-Muslim. It urged the Muslims of Jandiala to disown the Promised Messiahas. This way the Christians hoped to avoid a meeting the Promised Messiahas and save face.

But the Muslims of Jandiala knew who the best advocate of Islam was, and they unequivocally refused this proposition and remained adamant that the Promised Messiahas be their representative.

The Promised Messiahas referring to the letter of Dr. Clark wrote in his book ‘The Truth Revealed

“The American Mission Press, Ludhiana, recently published a disparaging advertisement about me on behalf of Dr. Henry Martyn Clarke M.D. the medical missionary of Amritsar on 12 May 1893. This announcement was, in a sense, also an expression of gratitude to the renowned Maulawi Shaikh Muhammad Hussain of Batala. The Christians were indeed beholden to him for the following reason: Dr. Clarke had agreed to meet me in a debate in order to inquire into Islam and Christianity and distinguish truth from falsehood. But after ruminating over his decision he was greatly perturbed. This was perhaps hardly surprising; in truth, when a doctrine like the one-off taking a mortal for a God is closely scrutinised, its adherents always experience convulsions. God is God and man is man. What likeness do dust and ash have with the Holy and Omnipotent Lord? Thus, the clergy were disquieted, lest the falsity of their faith be exposed by the perfect teaching of Islam… So, in the hour of their despair they were ably assisted by Shaikh Sahib. One may assume that he himself approached them surreptitiously. I have drawn this inference on the basis of a letter sent to me by Dr. Clarke in which he has reproduced arguments from Isha‘atus-Sunnah and his discourse bears a striking resemblance to that of Shaikh Sahib’s. I am confident that, if asked to swear an oath, Shaikh Sahib would not deny his involvement.”[17]

After quoting Dr. Clark’s letter the Promised Messiahas wrote:

“It would be worthwhile to consider how the cleric may have profited from Batalwi Sahib and his Isha‘atus- Sunnah and indeed how my other opponents may also have benefitted from this affair. [But before turning to this, I would like] to express my satisfaction at the fact that when the devoted people of Jandiala read this pernicious letter their resolve did not falter and Miań Muhammad Bukhsh Sahib gave the Christians a stirring riposte arguing that no faith, including Christianity, was free from internecine disputes. He further retorted that he regarded as mischief makers those maulawis who denounce a champion of Islam as a disbeliever.”[18]

Abdullah Atham who had been selected to represent the Christian side had given a written undertaking to the Promised Messiahas on May 9th, that he would accept Islam, if the Promised Messiahas or anyone else, proved by a miracle or otherwise, that the Quran was really from God.[19]

The Promised Messiahas had already offered to be put to death, according to the Biblical punishment prescribed for false prophets, if he was proved false.  If the law of the land did not permit him being put to death, he would forfeit all his property. The whole correspondence was published in a booklet entitled Hujjatul Islam.

The debate was held at the bungalow of Dr. Henry Martyn Clark. It began on 22nd May 1893 and ended on the 5th June 1893. The debate was published verbatim at the end of each day with the signatures of both parties. The Promised Messiahas later published it in a form of a book Jang-e-Muqadas (The Holy War).

Munshi Ghulam Qadir Fasih was appointed as the president of the Muslims and Dr. Clark was appointed as the president of the Christians.

The Promised Messiahas laid down a fundamental principle in the beginning of his paper, that the advocate of a religion should only put forward claims with reasons from the recognised scriptures of that religion. Then he referred to the Quranic verse (Al-An‘am 6:15), which refutes the divinity of Jesusas with an appeal to human experience and inductive truth.

The Promised Messiahas explained that from the start of creation, all Messengers of God have been human beings. Never has any son of God been sent to the world. There is no record of a single instance of that kind, which is a clear proof of the fact that such a thing is not possible at all. We know by observation and experience that man has only two eyes and that he does not eat with his eyes. Now, if someone claimed that he could eat with his eyes, no one would believe him. There has been no man who has had twenty eyes, nor has there ever been a man who ate with his eyes. Therefore, it is correct to draw the inference that a man cannot have more than two eyes and that he cannot eat with his eyes. The Promised Messiahas emphasised the point that unless it was shown that there has been any instance which contradicted human experience, the mere claim of Jesus to divinity could not be accepted as true even as an exception.[20]

The Church Missionary Intelligencer

The Western Christian world always made sure that they were well informed of the efforts of their missionaries wherever they went. For this reason, missionaries would send back their reports to communicate the details of their missionary work. This began with ‘The Record’ a monthly periodical on the work of the Church Missionary Societymission worldwide but later the mission decided to present an organised version of these reports known as “The Church Missionary Intelligencer”.[21] The intelligencer was solely for the members of the society. Thus, we find that this debate ‘The Holy War’ was reported by Henry Martyn Clark to the society. The report first appeared in Feburary 1894 entitled ‘A Controversy with Mohammedans’.

After mentioning the situation at Jandiala and the reasons for which the debate was held Henry Martyn Clark continued:

“The gauntlet thrown down produced the greatest consternation.  The Mohammedans were aghast.  What could they do? and yet something must be done. They addressed themselves to various Societies for the Aid of Islam, and bestirred themselves to find a champion, but none appeared.  Three weeks went by, the wager of battle still lay unaccepted.  Jandiala Mohammedans were in dire straits, when, to their intense relief, they found a defender in a certain Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian. This man somewhat remarkable personage, and one of great interest to the missionary, for he is one of the signs of the times in India.”[22]

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Both the internal and the external are consistent as far as the facts regarding the preliminaries leading up to the debate are concerned. Ahmadiyya accounts confirm that none among the Muslim scholars appeared to help the people of Jandiala and the Promised Messiahas in his book Hujjatul Islam wrote that he had sent 15 of his disciples to confirm the preliminaries of the debate.[23] Similarly, the report published in the Intelligencer confirms the arrival of the companions of the Promised Messiahas.[24]

The report was also published by the American Foreign Missions in the ‘Missionary Herald’:

 ‘This challenge was issued inasmuch as certain Moslems had shown a great desire to dispute with Christians and had interfered much with their work.  There was much doubt in regard to the expediency of this challenge, but after it was done it was found that the Mohammedans were in great fear lest they should be unable to find an able champion.  They finally selected one who, though counted by them a heretic, is bitterly opposed to Christianity.  This man, Ghulam Ahmed, has affirmed that he himself is the prophet Ahmed who was to come, denying certain prominent Moslem teachings, and setting up for a prophet and reformer.  For this he had been excommunicated, but inasmuch as he vigorously assaulted Christianity and was deemed superior in ability, he was chosen and consented to represent Islam against the Christians.’[25]

Atham was born a Muslim and it was in Karachi that he came across Christian Missionaries of CMS Mission. After learning English with the help of CMS Mission’s Rev M. S. Seal, he began authoring a book to refute Christianity but also started reading Christian literature such as Dr. Pfander’s Mizan ul Haq and would listen to the lectures of other missionaries. He presented the questions raised against Islam in the Christian literature to the Maulvis to which they had no reply. It was from then that Atham announced his conversion to Christianity. He was at first appointed as a Tehsildar (tax officer) and later as Extra Assistant Commissioner Sialkot, Ambala and Karnal. After his retirement from Government service, he spent rest of his life helping the Christian missionary efforts in Amritsar with Dr. H. Martyn Clark.[26]

Atham therefore was an obvious choice as is apparent from the words:

“The Christians chose as their leader one who was among the earliest living converts from Mohammedanism, and who had made the subject a life study.”[27]

During the course of this controversy there occurred another interesting incident, which made friends and foes alike admit the superiority of the Promised Messiahas. One day, the Christians, in order to put the Promised Messiahas to shame, brought three men, one of whom was lame, the second blind and the third dumb. While the debate was in full swing, they were presented to the Promised Messiahas and it was suggested that since the first Messiah (Jesusas) used to cure the maimed and the blind, therefore the Promised Messiahas could only be accepted if he could effect a similar cure.

This ruse took the assembly by surprise, and they wondered how it would be met by the claimant. The Christians felt elated and thought that a stunning blow had been dealt and their opponent had suffered severe discomfiture. Henry Martyn Clark also reported the incident:

We found a man whose leg had been amputated, another who is dumb and one who is totally blind, these three were kept in reserve, and the proper time produced in the assembly. We said Mirza Sahib if you really care to perform a miracle, we have no objection to witness it. He retorted by telling us to cure them ourselves, in conformity with Mark xvi. 17-18[28]

The Promised Messiahas upon seeing these men said to the missionaries:

“We do not believe in the healing of Jesusas as it is believed by you, it is your books that speak of the blind being restored to sight and the lame being made to walk, and they also say that if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall heal the sick with the touch of your hands. It is well that you yourselves have brought these men together; now heal them therefore to prove your faith.”

When they heard the reply of the Promised Messiahas their joy changed into chagrin and self-reproach. Everyone applauded the readiness and appropriateness of the reply. The curing of such unfortunates by Jesusas was an assertion of the New Testament and formed no part of the Promised Messiah’s as own conviction. In fact, to him the miracles of Jesusas bore an altogether different aspect. It had indeed been claimed by the New Testament that Jesusas used to effect the physical cure of such people simply by a touch of the hand, not by medicine or prayer. In the New Testament it is written that: “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”[29]

Henry Martyn Clark in his report of February 1894 admitted that Atham’s approach was not what was required:

When our turn came, I must candidly confess our champion did not make the best of our case against Mohammedanism. Despite much advice or perhaps because of it. Mr. Athim who is a man of philosophical mind pursued a course of his own…It was scarcely the type of war required.”13

Rev. G. L. Thakar Das of the American Mission, Sialkot, reviewed this debate in the pages of the Nur Afshan (September 1893—April 1894). It was then produced as a book-(Tanqih Mubahala: Punjab Religious Book Society, Lahore, 1895). While supplementing the Christian arguments, Rev. Thakar Das could not help remarking that the debate in his opinion had not been satisfactory. The replies given by the Christian advocate were too brief (p. 3). He commented that he should have proved his statement that the case of Jesusas was an exception; the verses that Atham had put forward on the point did not produce the required effect (p. 6). Referring to John 10: 33-36 the Rev. Thakar Das declared that Atham had failed to refute the inference drawn by the Promised Messiahas (p. 34). He further said that Atham had not answered the following point raised by the Promised Messiahas: If Jesusas was really the son of God, he should have said so plainly and in support of this claim he should have not only pointed out that their scriptures spoke of him as such but also demonstrated his own Divine powers in a practical manner. But he did nothing of the kind.

The Prophecy fulfilled?

This important debate lasted 15 days, during which Atham became sick and Dr. Clark took his place. The Promised Messiahas dictated his last paper on June 5th, 1893, which concluded as follows:

‘When I prayed to God, in all humility and earnestness, that He might give His judgment in the debate because we were weak mortals and without His decision we could not do anything, I was given the sign, by way of glad tidings, that of the two parties to the debate the one who was deliberately following a falsehood and forsaking the true God and making a weak mortal God, would be thrown into Haviyah[30] within 15 months, each month corresponding to each day of this debate, and that he would be severely disgraced provided he did not turn to the truth; and that the person who was following the truth and believed in the true God would be openly honoured... Now, I ask Deputy Sahib (Athim): “If this sign is fulfilled, would you accept it or not as a perfect and Divine prophecy according to your liking? Would it be or not a strong proof that the Holy Prophetsa, whom you call a Dajjal in the Andruna’-e-Bible is a true Prophet?”[31]

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When Atham heard the prophecy, he trembled and turned pale with fear. He touched his ears with both hands, put out his tongue and shook his head to declare in the Eastern manner that he did not mean to abuse the Holy Prophetsa. He repeatedly uttered the words. ‘I repent, I repent, I did not mean to be disrespectful, and I have never called the Prophet by the name of Antichrist.’[32]

The debate as mentioned earlier was no ordinary debate. Its purpose was to determine the truth and demonstrate the support of the Almighty God as claimed by both religions. The prophecy made was conditional: if Atham refused to turn to the truth the Divine punishment inevitable.

The prophecy was widely published, Henry Martyn Clark describing the anticipation of the public wrote:

“It has been the theme of converse, of close attention during the past year. From Madras to Peshawar, through the length and breadth of broad India, thousands upon thousands of men have been watching with thoughts intent on the far northern city where Islam had thrown down the wager of battle, and where God Himself would decide.”[33]

Although from the report of Henry Martyn Clark, the survival of Atham in the 15months was enough to claim their victory, the details of the fifteen months depict an altogether different picture to that presented by Henry Martyn Clark. As mentioned above as soon as the Promised Messiah’sas prophecy was read out, there was an immediate change in Atham’s behaviour depicting shame and repentance.

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For the next 15 months there were security arrangements in place for his safety, yet it did not provide him with a moment’s peace. He began seeing poisonous snakes pursuing him and he fled Amritsar to Ludhiana where he thought he would be safe in the house of his son in law. But in Ludhiana he started hallucinating those armed men had entered his house to kill him. He became more fearful and depressed and eventually fled Ludhiana and went to stay with another son in law at Firozpur until the period of 15 months ended. Even then he was still hallucinating those armed men were attempting to murder him and wrote about these experiences in the Noor Afshan.[34]

The reality is that had there been any poisonous snakes or armed men his family and the police guards would have also witnessed them. Atham had spent many years in law enforcement and was fully aware of the criminal and penal codes and could have filed a case against the Promised Messiahas accusing him of planning his murder. However, Atham understood, although he did not admit to it, that the matter was not terrestrial but one of divine intervention.

The facts and the events relating to the drastic change in behaviour and condition of Atham, point towards the condition of the prophecy i.e., inclining towards the truth. Atham did not publish or utter a single word in the 15-month period and an assassination attempt would not have him miss the opportunity of having the Promised Messiahas convicted. If the Promised Messiahas were exposed in court, Christendom would have won a decisive victory over Islam and hundreds of people would have been converted. But Atham never went to court, nor did he come forward to swear that he had not turned towards the truth.

The false murder case brought forward against the Promised Messiahas in the court of M.W. Douglas at Gurdaspur by Henry Martyn Clark in 1897 (to be discussed later) also points towards the fact that the opponents of the Promised Messiahas never missed an opportunity to try and have him convicted or punished even to the extent of forging lies and making false witnesses for this purpose.

Atham only survived death because Allah the Almighty treats His creation according to their current condition and not what they may say or do in the future and the primary purpose of such a prophecy is to warn such an individual to forsake his old ways.

The Christians however due to their ignorance took this termination as a victory and held a celebration in Amritsar on Sep 6th, 1894.  They paraded Atham in a horse carriage around the city. Atham appeared dejected and depressed, his body seemed motionless and based on his outer appearance a rumour broke out in town that Atham was paraded as a stuffed corpse.[35]

The situation at Qadian before the expiration of the date of prophecy was different because the word Haviyah was understood as eminent death and turning towards the truth was understood as accepting Islam.

The companions of the Promised Messiahas gathered at Qadian spent the night in prayers. Having heard the intense commotion and clamour of the companions, the Promised Messiahas came out from his residence and advised them that such commotion was against the tradition of the Holy Prophetsa. Allah who knows the secret of the hearts is not deaf. He listens to even the most silent of murmurs.

The day of September 5th, 1894 was a day of trial and incomprehension for the companions of the Promised Messiahas they all gazed eagerly at the door of their Imam.  The Promised Messiahas on the contrary came out his residence looking perfectly peaceful and happy. There was not even the slightest a sign of distress or worry upon his countenance. He addressed his companions that Allah has revealed to him.

“Allah has taken note of his, that is Atham’s, grief and therefore He has postponed the chastisement. This is the way of Allah, and you will not find a change in the way of Allah. Do not be surprised and do not grieve. You will be on top if you remain steadfast in faith.”[36]

Thus, it is against the tradition of Allah that a person be punished when he is grieving and traumatized at the possibility of being chastised. This fear and grieving in fact point towards the secret repentance of his heart. 

The Promised Messiahas then delivered a speech on the subject of repentance and chastisement. He explained that Allah does not wish to kill His servants, and the very purpose of a warning is that they desist from their evil ways. Even a small step towards reformation withholds the punishment. He further pointed out   that Atham had in the fifteen months that had elapsed, refrained from attacking Islam which had been his habit   before the prophecy was announced and since then had not uttered a word or published a single statement against Islam or the Holy Prophetsa.

And if Atham denied that he had inclined towards the truth and affirmed that the state of his heart was the same as when he had appeared in the debate, then he would be asked to declare that, through a public announcement on oath.

The Promised Messiahas also published two books named Anwar-ul-Islam (The Light of Islam)in September 1894 and Diyaul-Haqq (The Torch of Truth) in 1895 in which he described the episode of Atham in detail.

In these books, the Promised Messiahas discussed the points raised by the Christians and all those who were happy at what they called the non-fulfilment of the prophecy. He regretted that even Muslims had joined the Christians in making fun of him, especially when the debate was held by the Promised Messiahas to establish the superiority and the truth of the Holy Prophetsa and the Holy Quran over Jesus Christ and the Bible.

To convince the public that Atham had actually changed his attitude towards Islam, the Promised Messiahas asked him to deny openly that this was the case. If he did not do so, the Promised Messiahas prophesied that Atham would be stricken with death within one year. On his part the Promised Messiahas promised to pay a sum of Rs 1,000 as a penalty in acknowledgment of his defeat. He invited Atham to declare in an open meeting under a most solemn oath that he had not turned to the truth. He offered him Rs.2,000 but even then Atham still did not come forward. He would not take the oath. The Promised Messiahas sent registered letters to Atham, Rev. Dr. Henry Martyn Clark and Imad-u-Din. Dr. Clark responded in an abusive manner and replied that Atham would not take the oath as it was against their religion to do so.

In the annual report of the Church Missionary Society 1894, Henry Martyn Clark mentions that the reason for Atham not taking the oath was because the Muslims are “Children of darkness” and that Christians followed the prince of peace.[37] The Promised Messiahas pointed out that during the period of 15 months from June 5, 1893, several Padres who were involved in this controversy had also died. First, the Leader of the Christian Missionaries, Padre Wright. By virtue of his rank and status, he was the effective leader of Atham’s party. His unexpected death at a young age shocked Dr. Clarke and the rest of the Christian community and sent them into mourning.

Before leaving for Shimla Rev. Wright visited Qadian and said to the Promised Messiahas that Atham had not died, implying that the prophecy was false. The Promised Messiahas replied, as per the words of the prophecy, that due to his change of behaviour, Atham had benefitted from this recess. Rev. Wright retorted “May God’s curse be upon the liars”. That curse fell not only upon Atham but also upon him[38] Next Padre Foreman died in Lahore followed by Dr. John, an active member of Jandiala Christian Mission, who had also participated in organising this debate.[39] From September 6, 1894, the Promised Messiahas issued seven announcements one after the other, inviting Atham to take an oath with rewards totalling Rs. 4,000.  Atham did not dare take the oath, Atham’s refusal to do so confirmed that the prophecy which was twofold was fulfilled in the second manner. Atham persisted in his behaviour of abusing and reviling Islam and the Holy Prophetsa. Consequently, dying in the period of 15 months.

The condition “provided he did not turn to the truth” clearly indicated that there is a substitute. Thus, his behaviour in the following 15 months depicted a completely different picture to that before the prophecy. He did not say or publish a single word against Islam or the Holy Prophetsa. thereby survived this ordeal. Otherwise, why would he remain silent, when according to the Christians he had been a means to establish the superiority of Christianity over Islam?

The Promised Messiahas declared with certainty that the Almighty God had informed him through revelation that Atham had in fact inclined towards the truth, and if Atham should argue otherwise, then he would die within a year. The registered letters sent to Henry Martyn, Atham and other missionaries involved in the controversy were responded with abuse, and excuses, such as taking an oath for Christians is equivalent to the eating of pork in Islam.  The Promised Messiahas gave countless examples from the Bible proving that taking an oath is not only permissible but highly praiseworthy and a form of worship.[40] The Mubahila that took place between the Holy Prophetsa and the Christians of Najran also proves that historically an oath placing God as witness to decide the fate was used to determine the truth.[41]

After admitting that he had lived a miserable fifteen months, the burden of proof lay with Atham to publicly declare upon oath the falsity of the prophecy. It is astonishing to see that having celebrated the survival of Atham, what an opportunity it was to bury this issue once for all and prove superiority and victory of the Christian faith by a mere declaration upon oath that the prophecy was false, and the agony and misery suffered by Atham in the last 15 months was not as a result of the prophecy. The Promised Messiahas through the two books discussed earlier and by publishing various announcements and sending registered letters to Atham and his fellow Christians had urged Atham to take the oath.

In the last of the four announcements published in October 1894, Atham was promised a reward Rs 4000 for taking a public oath. After reiterating his case, the Promised Messiahas concluded:

The Almighty God promises that He would not stop until He manifests His Mighty Hand and make apparent the disgrace of the losing party upon all. In accordance with His practice mentioned in the Holy Scriptures He delayed Atham’s fate, because there is an everlasting and unvarying promise for the culprits in the divine scriptures that after some respite they are punished for their insistence. If Atham takes an oath, then the prophecy is categorical with no conditions attached to it. It is Taqdeer-e-Mubram (Irrevocable Decree) and if he does not take the oath even then Allah the Almighty does not let such culprits go unpunishable, who try to conceal the truth to deceive mankind.”[42]

The Promised Messiahas now made it clear that there was to be no respite for Atham for he had been guilty of hiding the truth. Either he would take the oath and die within in 12 months without any conditions attached to it or if he decided to remain silent, he would still be punished by God.

The Promised Messiahas published his last announcement on 30 December 1895. An interaction between Padri Fateh Masih (discussed earlier) and Hazrat Abdul Kareem Sahibra took place on the station of Batala. Padri Fateh Masih argued that the reason that Atham had not taken the oath was because he considered this community insignificant and at most fifteen believed this prophecy to have been fulfilled. Although this was false as Atham had not given this reason or made such a statement anywhere, the Promised Messiahas mentioned that his community currently numbered in thousands, many of whom were learned men and renowned scholars of Islam. The Promised Messiahas further stated that Fateh Masih had lied once again just as he had falsely claimed divine revelation in Batala.

He said that if Fateh Masih was telling the truth, he should publish an announcement declaring the number of testimonies that he believed would suffice to prove that the prophecy had been fulfilled.

He further stated: “If ten thousand signed testimonies were sent to Atham declaring that the prophecy was fulfilled even then he would not have the courage to take the oath. Even if the Christian priests’ reproach Atham to an extent that they slaughter him he would not come against me to take the oath.[43] Because he knows in his heart that the prophecy was fulfilled. This proof alone is sufficient for my truthfulness that Atham would not take the oath even if the Christians were to cut him into pieces. For if he takes the oath the prophecy will be fulfilled in the second manner [i.e., Death within 12 months].”[44]

The Promised Messiahas in his earlier announcement made it clear that the punishment was destined for Atham in both cases, of taking an oath or remaining silent. For if he took an oath that the prophecy has not had any effect on him, he would be lying and his death within twelve months would be irrevocable decree. However, if he remained silent, he would still be punished as he would be guilty of deception for trying to conceal the truth.

Seven months from the last announcement of the Promised Messiahas Atham died, on 27 July 1896, thus demonstrating the truth of Islam and fulfilling the following words:

“And if he does not take the oath even then Allah the Almighty does not let such culprits go unpunishable, who try to conceal the truth to deceive mankind”.[45]

After his death the Promised Messiahas wrote Anjam-e-Atham (The Death of Atham) in 1896 where he described in detail the entire episode of the prophecy up to the death of Atham.

The Christian Mission Society announced the death of Atham in these words:

“Another native worker, Mr Abdullah Atham – whose name will be remembered as the leading advocate on the Christian side in the public controversy with Mohammedans at Amritsar in 1893 – dies at Ferozepore on July 27th, after ten days’ illness. Mr. Clark says of him, ‘He was a true and faithful servant of Christ, and the Punjab will miss him now that he has gone.”[46]

It is interesting to note that the same Christian Mission Society which had shown great interest in the debate and published in detail the reports sent by Henry Martyn Clark only wrote 5 lines on Atham’s death. A futile attempt to dimmish the effect of the fulfilled prophecy.

The book Anjam-e-Atham turned out to be so effective that the Christians became careful in use of their language against the Holy Prophetsa and this was what the Promised Messiahas that the Christian Missionaries should become polite and gentle in the use of their language when talking of the Holy Prophetsa.

The book also created a stir in the intellectual circles of the time, because the entire history of the debate known as Jang-e-Muqaddas (Holy War) along with the wording of the prophecy about Abdullah Atham were fully explained and presented in proper perspective.

Following the debate with Atham, an international clergy conference was held in London where the Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, the Right Reverend Charles John Elliot informed the Christian world with great concern on 29 May 1894:

Bishop of Gloucester 650x808 1

“But perhaps the movement in Mohammedanism is the most striking. I learn from those who are experienced in these things that there is now a new kind of Mohammedanism showing itself in many parts of our empire in India, and even in our own Island here at home, Mohammedanism now speaks with reverence of our blessed Lord and Master but is not the less more intensely monotheistic than ever. It discards many of those usages which have made Mohammedanism hateful in our eyes, but the False Prophet holds his place no less pre-eminently than before. Changes are plainly to be recognised; but Mohammedanism is not the less aggressive, and alas! to some minds among us (God grant that they be not many) even additionally attractive.”[47]

The Christian bishop singled out only one sect in the international conference of clergies from all the sects of Islam, which along with other missionary intelligencer reports suggests that the Christian Missions were aware of the efforts of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in refuting their fundamental doctrines and beliefs.

A False Charge of Murder in the court of Colonel Douglas[48]

The death of Atham and Lekhram in consequence of the prophecy of the Promised Messiahas saw the Christians and the Hindus gather together to hatch a conspiracy to bring down the Promised Messiahas. The opponents from the Muslim clergy also joined to assist them in this common objective. 

The grave nature of the plot was apparent by the fact that, parties that usually were against one another in strong opposition, now banded together in a conspiracy for the ruin of their common enemy. The plan was reminiscent of the Arab confederates who formed a formidable coalition against the Holy Prophetsa and marched upon Medina in 627 A.D. They were so enraged at the progress of the movement of the Promised Messiahas that they resolved upon a new mode of persecution.

Dr. Henry Martyn Clark discussed in the previous section, brought a charge, under section 107 I.P.C., against the Promised Messiahas on August 1st, 1897, in the court of Mr. A.E. Martineau, District Magistrate of Amritsar. Dr. Clark claimed that the Promised Messiahas had sent a youth, Abdul Hamid, to murder him. Abdul Hamid’s statement was also recorded. The Magistrate immediately issued a warrant for the arrest of the Promised Messiahas.[49]

The news of the issue of the warrant spread fast and the enemies of the Promised Messiahas looked forward eagerly to seeing him handcuffed. They gathered every day at the Amritsar train station, waiting for him. But it was not to be, that God would let him to be humiliated at the hands of his enemies. The warrant of arrest never reached its destination and was never served on the Promised Messiahas. On the other hand, the District Magistrate Amritsar later realised his own mistake that he had no jurisdiction outside Amritsar. Therefore, the case was transferred to District Magistrate of Gurdaspur on August 8.

Hazrat Maulana Abdul Raheem Dardra writes that District Magistrate of Gurdaspur, Capt. M.W. Douglas (later Lt. Col. C.S.I., C.I.E., retired Chief Commissioner of the Andaman Islands) told him in London, in 1936 that, one morning Dr. Clark met him and asked him to try the Promised Messiahas for sending a youth to kill him. Col. Douglas said to Dr. Clark: “This is, of course, a very serious case and it should go to the police for enquiry, and for subsequent committal to the sessions.”

But Dr. Clark insisted:

‘I am ill, and I want to take leave, and I am afraid my witness may be tampered with. I should like the case to go on at once.’

To this Col. Douglas replied: ‘On the evidence you have, I can’t possibly charge Ghulam Ahmad with any offence until there has been investigation, but I see no objection to asking him to give security to maintain the peace, if your evidence justifies that course being taken.’[50]

So, proceedings began, and summons were issued to the Promised Messiahas on Aug 9, 1897, to appear in court at Batala on the Aug 10, 1897. The enquiry commenced on August 10th, and the statements of Dr. Clark, Abdul Hamid, Abdur Rahim (formerly a Hindu barber), Prem Das, Maulawi Nur-ud-Dinra, Sh. Rahmatullah, Maulawi Muhammad Husain, Prabh Dayal and the Promised Messiahas were recorded.

Dealing with the evidence Col. Douglas said[51]:

“The evidence so far dealt with had occupied up to August 13th. Abdul Hamid, up to this stage, had been kept entirely under the supervision of certain subordinate Christians belonging to the C.M.S. service, notably Abdur Rahim, Waris Din (a Christian of Jandiala) and Prem Das. Dr. Clark was of the opinion that he knew more than he had divulged. I, personally, thought his story as it stood highly improbable. There were inconsistencies between the version given in Amritsar as compared with that recorded by me, and I was not satisfied with his demeanour while giving evidence. I noticed, moreover, that the longer he remained under the care of the mission subordinates at Batala, the more profuse and detailed his evidence became. There was much in his first statement before me on the 12th which had not been revealed when he first made his admission to Dr. Clark, or when he was examined by the District Magistrate of Amritsar; and when examined again by me on August 13th, a mass of additional detail was added. The inferences were, either that he was being coached by some person or persons, or that he knew much more than he had so far revealed. I, therefore, asked the District Superintendent of Police to take charge of him and independently question him.

Well, Mr. Le Marchand sent for him, and sent the Inspector of Police to Anarkali (Baring High School, Batala) to bring him, and the Inspector asked him various questions, but without result. The boy adhered to the statement he had made in court. So, the Inspector said: “It is no use, the boy adheres to his statement, and he had better be sent back.” Mr. Le Marchand then decided he ought to record a statement himself. He had written two sheets of statement more or less in accordance with the evidence given in the court when the youth burst into tears, fell at Mr. Le Marchand’s feet, and said he had lied throughout on the instance of someone in the mission. He had been guarded for several days, was in a state of great misery, and had even contemplated suicide. He then made a full statement saying that he had been coerced by these subordinates and his entire statement was untrue.

Then, of course, the question arose, supposing he had killed Dr. Clark. One of the pleaders asked him: “You are not a bird; how did you intend to escape after you had killed Dr. Clark?” So, a subordinate of the mission told him: “You must mention the name of Qutub Din” and he even wrote on the palm of his hand this name before he went to court, and when the boy was being questioned, he said “He wrote it with a pencil the one being used by Dr. Clark’s counsel.” This was quite true; it was not invented; and corroborated the original statement.

Then: Whether the first of the stories given by Abdul Hamid is the true one, or the second, it is obvious that there are insufficient grounds for action against Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in this case. Abdul Hamid, the important witness, is an accomplice and he has made two different statements.”

Col. Douglas further stated that he was inclined to think that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had not sent Abdul Hamid to kill Dr. Clark for the following reasons:

“Abdul Hamid himself is quite unfitted for such a responsible and desperate undertaking. He is a tall, overgrown, weak-minded youth, of admittedly profligate inclinations, and not in the least a fanatic. In fact, his history shows that he has spent his time vacillating between Christianity and Islam, ready to cast his lot wherever he was sure of food and clothing. Dr. Grey (of the American Mission) states that he struck him at once as being an impostor so far as his previous leanings towards Christianity were concerned.

It is admitted that Ghulam Ahmad only saw him for about fourteen days in all. He could not have got to know him sufficiently well in so short a space of time to trust him in such a precarious undertaking, nor could he have obtained any great influence over him.

The undertaking itself as described by Abdul Hamid was clumsily planned and foolhardy to a degree. It is not probable that Abdul Hamid could have been instructed to say that he had been a Hindu of Batala, a statement which Dr. Clark could, disprove in a couple of hours. It is proved that the youth first went to Dr. Grey in Amritsar and would have remained with the latter had he been promised board and lodging. If sent originally to Dr. Clark, there is no reason forthcoming as to why he should have gone to Dr. Grey of the American Mission.”

It was at that point that Col. Douglas decided that something was wrong with the case. The boy gave his evidence with singular clarity and quickness, so he asked him:

“When you first went to Amritsar, where did you first go”? He said, “To the American Mission.” Col. Douglas says he saw at once that the case was over. The pleader immediately said: “If you intended to kill Dr. Clark of this Mission, why did you go to the American Mission?” He went there hoping he would get a scholarship from them, but he did not get it and he left them.”

Of course, there was no alternative for Col. Douglas but at once to discharge Ghulam Ahmad and end the case.

In his judgment delivered on August 23rd, 1897, Col. Douglas wrote: ‘So far as Dr. Clark’s case is concerned I see no grounds for binding Ghulam Ahmad accused to keep the peace, nor for remanding the case to the Police and he is therefore discharged.’[52]

Hazrat Maulana Sher Ali B. A., (born 23. 11. 1875) who was present at the hearing of this historic case, speaks of it from his personal knowledge in the presence of Col. Douglas at a meeting in London, as follows:

The Just Pilate 650x695 1

“Dr. Henry Martyn Clark said, in the course of his statement before the District Magistrate, that he had no idea of instituting any criminal proceedings against the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement until July 31st, 1897, but the first thing which I wish to tell you is that God informed the Promised Messiahas not only of the impending case but also of its result before Dr. Clark conceived the idea of instituting criminal proceedings against him.”

One July morning the Promised Messiahas summoned his disciples to the mosque adjoining his house and read to them from his note book a vision which he had seen that night.

Hazrat Maulana Sher Alira continues:

“The Promised Messiahas told us that he had seen lightning coming to his house from the West, and when it approached his house it was changed into a star. Then he received the Word of God, saying, “This is nothing but a threat from the authorities, and the result will be discharge.” Thus, the Promised Messiahas was foretold that legal proceedings were about to be taken against him, and that he would be finally discharged. There were other revelations also, bearing on the details of the case, but time does not permit of reference to them all.

The case tried by Colonel Douglas was no ordinary one. Though apparently the prosecutor was a single individual, yet he had with him the support of the whole community of which he was the representative. As Colonel Douglas told Mr. Dard the other day, the case was watched by the Punjab Government. The then Lieutenant-Governor of the province, it may be noted, was a member of the Church Missionary Society and it is said that the Public Prosecutor was instructed to see the case through.

It is also a known fact that even a section of Hindu and Muslim priests joined hands with the Christians. The Hindus were represented by Pundit Ram Bhaj Dutt, a well-known pleader of Lahore, who volunteered his services as a legal adviser and assisted the prosecution from beginning to end. The Muslim clerics were represented by Maulawi Muhammad Husain of Batala, who came forward as a prosecution witness to lend support to the prosecution story. It was only the priestly class of the Muslims that sided with the Christian missionaries; the masses, so far as is known, had little sympathy with the Christian missionaries.

That the case was being really conducted by all three parties combined was admitted by Dr. Clark himself in court. When questioned whether he had paid any fee to Pundit Ram Bhaj Dutt, he replied by saying,

“We, all the people, are taking a concerted action against a man who is our common foe.”

Col. Douglas during a meeting held in April 1936 when asked why he didn’t issue warrant of arrest? Replied: “How could I have issued an arrest warrant when an investigation had not taken place, so I instead issued a summon to court.

Col. Douglas also mentioned that the Christians had failed to bring a case against Mirza Sahib at the time of Patrick Rosen, who was a just governor. Now that William Young who was a member of the CMS society had become the governor, they saw this as an opportunity to take the case forward.

The government itself was monitoring the case carefully suggesting that conspiracies were being hatched after Atham’s demise. The Promised Messiahas was aware that Atham had been a member of the Civil Service and therefore was well versed in the laws and penal codes. He encouraged Atham to bring a case against him in order to substantiate the Christians’ claim that the Promised Messiahas had sent his followers to assassinate Atham.

Despite the pressure from Henry Martyn Clark and other missionaries, Atham did not take him to court. Thus, Henry Martyn Clark decided himself to bring forward a false case, in short, the case brought against the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community had the support, not only of the Christian Church, but also of a large section of the Hindus and the Muslim priesthood of which Maulawi Muhammad Husain was a well-known representative.

Hazrat Maulana Sher Alira continues:

“The secret of this hostility to the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement did not lie in any wrong which he did to these people, but was due to the envy which is generally borne against all heavenly Messengers. This was a manifestation of the same envy which had prompted the Scribe and Pharisees to prosecute Jesusas in the court of Pilate. But although the part played by the opponents of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement was similar to the one played by the enemies of Jesusas, yet the example set by Colonel Douglas was far superior to that set by Pilate. Like Colonel Douglas, Pilate also saw that Jesusas was innocent and that his accusers were merely actuated by envy and religious animosity.

But in spite of his belief in the innocence of Jesusas,he could not muster up courage to acquit Jesusas, though he could easily have done so if he had so willed. He, like a coward, handed over Jesusas to his cruel and inhuman enemies, and thus earned for himself everlasting disgrace. But such was not the case with Colonel Douglas. When he saw that Ahmadas was innocent of the charge brought against him, he honourably acquitted him and even congratulated him on his acquittal, with a smile on his face. This congratulation showed that he felt keen pleasure and real pride in being able to render justice to an innocent man. The congratulation further showed that Colonel Douglas was conscious of the fact that it was at the cost of great pains and after surmounting great difficulties that he had been able to do justice to Ahmadas.

Not only was the case against the Promised Messiahas dismissed as he had prophesied, but the proceedings demonstrated his compassion and magnanimity. Despite the fact that Colonel Douglas had given him the liberty to prosecute the witnesses if he so desired, The Promised Messiahas forgave them all. At one point during the proceedings, he even forbade his counsel to question Muhammad Hussain Batalvi (a witness to the prosecution) on a personal matter in case it would have humiliated him.  He simply said, “I do not desire to put shame on him.”

The Promised Messiahas referring to the honesty, integrity and justice of Col. Douglas wrote:

“Captain Douglas, who took the place of Pilate as presiding judge in my case, allowed me to be seated. Hence, this Pilate proved himself far more virtuous than the Pilate of the Messiah son of Mary. For, in issuing his verdict, he courageously and stringently remained committed to the rules of the court and paid no heed to any external pressure, nor was he prejudiced by religion or ethnicity. He held court so impeccably that if his person was held up as a means of pride for the nation and as an example for his fellow judges, it would be entirely justified. To pass fair judgment is a difficult task. Unless one breaks off all their ties they cannot rightly fulfil the duties of this office. But I can honestly testify that this Pilate faithfully discharged his duty—whereas the first Pilate of Rome was unable to fulfil his duty so faithfully. His cowardice led to great hardships for the Messiah. Thus, this difference ought to always be remembered by our community for as long as the world exists and as the community grows into the hundreds of thousands and millions, this noble judge will be fondly remembered.”[53]

Col. Douglas was promoted from deputy commissioner to Major and later retired as a Chief Commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He retired from the Indian Government service in 1920 and settled near[54] Col. Douglas kept in contact with community and visited the London Mosque on many occasions to narrate the case and its details. Since the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Mission in London, many prominent members of the community met with Col. Douglas. Col. Douglas also met with his Holiness Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra when his Holiness attended the Conference of Living Religions in September 1924.

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Col. Douglas standing outside Fazl Mosque with Hazrat Maulana Jalaludeen Shams Sahib.

[1] Nur Afshan was a Christian periodical issued from Ludhiana. The warnings were published on the following dates: March 19th, 1885, April 2nd, 1885, and April 16th, 1885.

[2] Life of Ahmad by A.R. Dard P.164

[3] Typo in the original source referring to Qadian

[4] Annual Letters to the Christian Mission Society 1886-1890 P.271

[5] Tadhkirah P.198, AlHakam 7 Feb 1906

[6] Robert Clark [1825–1900], The Missions of the CMS and the CEZMS in the Punjab and Sindh p.116

[7] Ibid p.70

[8] Ibid p.69

[9] Malfoozat, Vol. 2 pp. 247-248, 2006 Edition

[10] A non-Ahmadi local Muslim school teacher of Jandiala who would reply to the Christian criticism of Islam.

[11] The Church Missionary Review Feb 1894 P.96, Life of Ahmad by Hazrat Maulana Dard P.385

[12] The following points are taken from the book Life of Ahmad by Mualana Abdul Raheem Dardra

[13] A newspaper published every 10 days by a Muslim named Maulana Muhammad Sahreef from Banglore. (Tareekh Ahmadiyyat Vol 1 P.135)

[14] Maktubat-e-Ahmad Vol 1 P.166

[15] Maktubat-e-Ahmad Vol 1 P.169-170

[16] Prayer duel

[17] The Truth Revealed p. 1-2

[18] Ibid p.3-4

[19] Ibid p.17

[20] Life of Ahmadas by Hazrat Maulana Abdul Raheem Dard

[21] The Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol 1 No 1 1850.

[22] The Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol 45, Feb 1894 P. 96

[23] ..Ruhani Khazaen Vol 6, Hujjatul Islam P.45

[24] The Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol 45, Feb 1894 P. 97

[25] Missionary Herald: Containing the Proceedings of The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Vol. XC P. 167

[26] The Missions of the Church Missionary Society and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society in the Punjab and Sindh by Robert Clark 1904 p.43

[27] Ibid

[28] The Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol 45, A Controversy with Mohammedans Feb 1894 P. 102

[29] Matthew 17:20

[30] Hell, Although the fifteen months Atham spent after the prophecy was not less than hell, but the word Haviya was understood to mean death. Atham’s change of behaviour delayed his complete entry into Hawiya as per the condition “provided he did not turn to the truth”. (Ruhani Khazaen Vol 9, P2)

[31] Life of Ahmad by Hazrat Maulana Abdul Rahim Dard, P.396

[32] Life of Ahmad by Hazrat Maulana Abdul Rahim Dard p.398

[33] The Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol 45, Some Results of the late Mohammedan Controversy Feb 1894 P. 813

[34] Noor-Afshan Oct 1894 P.5

[35] Mujadid-e-Azam The Great Reformer by Dr Basharat

[36] Tadhkirah P 369

[37] The Church Missionary Intelligencer Vol 45, A Controversy with Mohammedans Feb 1894 P. 105

[38] Ruhani Khazaen Vol 11p.31

[39] Ruhani Khazaen Vol 9 Anwar-ul-Islam P.8-9

[40] Bible Jeremiah 4:2

[41] A Christian delegation from Najran who after a long discussion with the Holy Prophetsa were challenged to a Mubahila based on their belief of the divinity of Jesusas

[42] Majmua Ishtiharat Vol 1 P.578 (Edition 2019)

[43] Interestingly Atham was encouraged in the pages of Noor Afshan to take the oath.

[44] Majmua Ishtiharat Vol 2 p.84-87 (Edition 2019)

[45] Majmua Ishtiharat Vol 1 P.578 (Edition 2019)

[46] Church Missionary Intelligencer, October 1896, p. 781

[47] (The Official Report of the Missionary Conference of the Anglican Communion, 29 May 1894, p. 64)

[48] Originally published in the life of Ahmad by Hazrat Maulana Abdul Raheem Dardra

[49] The details of the case are discussed by the Promised Messiahas in Kitabul Barriya (The Acquittal).

[50] Life of Ahmad by Maulana Dardra p.544-545

[51] Col. Douglas after his retirement kept in contact with the Ahmadiyya Movement London, he was visited by various members of the Jamaat including the companions of the Promised Messiahas. He also visited the Fazal Mosque on many occasions to tell the proceedings of this court case.

[52] Life of Ahmad p.550

[53] Noah’s Ark P.89-90

[54] The Daily Sketch 13/04/1936

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