Hervey De Witt Griswold

One of the very first papers written in English about the Promised Messiahas was by Hervey De Witt Griswold. Hervey De Witt Griswold was born on May 24, 1860 in Dryden, New York. He attended Union College in Schenectady, New York from 1881 to 1885, and then went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1885 to 1888. During the following two years Griswold had a fellowship at Oxford and Berlin Universities. Griswold began his 36-year-long career as a Christian missionary in 1890 in Jhansi, India as a representative of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church. In 1894 Griswold became Professor of Philosophy at Forman Christian College in Lahore.[1]

The Victoria Institute or Philosophical Society of Great Britain

Griswold wrote two papers on the Promised Messiahas. Many contemporary writers quote Griswold’s work when writing about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.  These two papers were “Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Mahdi Messiah of Qadian” which was read out in Ludhiana India in 1902 and “The Messiah of Qadian” which was read at the Victoria Institute in London on 15 May 1905. 

Before delving into Griswold’s criticism and the points he had raised in his work, it is important to establish that it was in fact Griswold himself who had come to Qadian with two other individuals. Griswold describes his visit to Qadian when he says: “I heard from his own lips at Qadian”, similarly he begins his paper with a statement: “In the village of Qadian, Gurdaspur District, Punjab, there lives an old man about sixty-four years of age, venerable in appearance, magnetic in personality and active in intellect. This is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.”[2]  

Additionally, in the Ahmadiyya historical records there is a mention of a visit by two missionaries of Forman College American Mission to Qadian on 19 April 1901. The names of the individuals are not quoted but from the conversation that followed, when compared with Griswold’s remarks, clearly suggests that it was indeed Griswold who had visited Qadian.

Griswold was a professor at the Forman College Lahore. His first paper about the Promised Messiahas was read only a year later in 1902 after the first report about the arrival of two Forman college missionaries to Qadian was published on 10th May 1901.

The intention of their coming to Qadian for this meeting is quite clear from the two papers he wrote. There are a lot of details missing in his papers of the lengthy conversations which the two missionaries had with the Promised Messiahas. Ahmadiyya accounts however, detail these more comprehensively and one can read and judge for oneself how true the writer had been to the initial conversation. It is a sheer blessing of God, that the community under the guidance of the Promised Messiahas, since its inception, is so well documented that it is not difficult to research any matter with due diligence to find the facts.

Prof. Griswold in Qadian

The editor of Al-Hakam writes that due to his late arrival he missed the beginning of their conversation. However, the following is a summary of the lengthy account mentioned in the three publications of Al-Hakam published on 10, 17 and 14 May 1901 recorded by the editor after his arrival.[3]

The Promised Messiahas in reply to a question stated:

“Many asked the prophets for signs. Their reply to them was merely that such questions are not asked by the people of Knowledge.  Rather, we find great harshness from the sayings of Jesus on such occasions in the Bible. It is true that the one who appears from God appears with signs rather I say he himself is a sign. But there are few who benefit from these signs and recognise them. It is only after some time the world recognises the great signs with which he has appeared. Surely understand that he does not die until he proves to the world that he is a recipient of signs”[4] 

Then it was asked what is a communion of God according to you and would you also leave behind a scripture like the Bible or Torah?

The Promised Messiahas explained that there are two types of Prophets. One who are the law bearing prophets like Moses who having direct communion with God were also granted a law and there are others who appear with the same purpose of reforming people and appear at an appointed time, but they are not law-bearing prophets. A new law is not required when there already exists a law. Yet when the hearts of people become cold from God’s love and instead of righteous deeds and high morals only a few rituals remain then Almighty God appoints a person who instructs them to act upon the same law.  Through his personal example he establishes the reverence and respect of that law in the hearts of the people. He appears with various signs and is graced communion with God. But the world does not recognise him and then gradually those who are granted the eyes begin to recognise him with the capacity of their sight.

This is a human norm that when an individual appears and people scan his physical appearance, his reverence decreases in their eyes, and this is what happens to his prophets. When they appear, they are individuals with human prerequisites and necessities. Hence their miraculous statements are bizarre to the human eye. They are rejected and considered insignificant. They are exposed to ridicule and persecution.

The Promised Messiahas stated:

“I assure you that the reverence of Moses and Jesus that you have if they were seated where I am today, they will be looked upon with the same eyes as myself. Hence the rejection and mockery are inevitable for the prophets but there comes a time when their communities are established, and they spread the truth and righteousness in the world to an extent that the entire world runs towards them and accepts them.”[5]

The Promised Messiahas further explained that Jesusas appeared as a reformer in the dispensation of Mosesas who a law-bearing prophet. Similarly, the Prophet Muhammadsaw brought a complete law and is the Seal of the Prophets. It is he in whom all perfect qualities were manifested and therefore he does not believe in the coming of a new law but as Jesusas was the last of the Caliphs to appear in the dispensation of Moses and did not bring a new law same is expected in the dispensation of Muhammad saw. This God has appointed him (The Promised Messiahas) as the (Khatam-al-Khulafa) the last of the Caliphs to rejuvenate the law of Muhammadsa.

Griswold referred to the above statement of the Promised Messiahas a “Doctrine of Parallelism” which he heard from his own lips at Qadian. Griswold enquired what according to the Promised Messiahas was the best method of propagating a religion? 

To which the Promised Messiahas responded, the best method of propagating a religion is that a religion should be accepted through its inner beauty and qualities for which an external effort is not required. There are certain things which are observed through their inherent light, for instance The Sun, the Moon and the Stars. And then there are others which cannot be observed without their light such as cattle and birds. Thus, a true religion is recognised through its inherent light and truth which then instinctively descends upon the soul and draws the hearts towards itself. The teaching is a big sign, if therefore a religion which does not hold the sign of its teaching its other signs are fruitless. Heavenly teaching consists of a light which is above the human ways.

This light can only be achieved by him whose impure life dies and subsequently a Godly life is born thus the sign of a true faith is experienced and this cannot be achieved without the grace and mercy of God…. This life at first is granted to the appointee of God. In appearance he lives in this world and is from its people yet in reality he is not the man of this world. He is under the veil of God and thereafter is granted the true knowledge which is taught to the people. Such a knowledge is pure from impurity, sensuality, injustice and carnal desires and this knowledge enacts a death through which a new life is granted.  Thus, a true religion is responsible for its own propagation for which an external effort is not required although it is true that for the demonstration of its truthfulness there are individuals who bring this knowledge from God. Upon confrontation, they are victorious which is a sign…. So, a noble teaching and a perfect model which is a living proof of its superiority is the best method of its propagation.  

Continuing the conversation, it was said: we do not want to bother you much. How can one attain this spiritual life? 

Reply: “With the grace of God”

Something should be said (request for more elaboration) that enables us to attain spirituality.

Reply: Prayer is a paramount need and with-it righteous company is required. Forsake prejudice and abandon the world. For instance, a person who does not leave a place stricken with plague is endangered. Similarly, a person who changes not his ways, amends his world and thinks differently that how he shouldattain a righteous life and does notpray to God is in danger. There is not a single prophet who had not educated people on prayer. It is prayer through which a relation between servitude and providence is established. It is hard to tread upon this path but whoever takes a step, then for him prayer is such a tool which facilitates his difficulties with ease…. A mere verbal claim of attaining salvation or a relation with God is an easy utterance but Almighty God sees to what extent he has detached from the things, for which detachment is essential. It is true that he who seeks, finds it, and those who tread upon the path with a sincere heart are efficacious in their pursuit… If a human being pursues a religion with an eye for the divine, then the existing dissention could be solved. But the practice is to have their say and deride the other, if two people argue both want to disdain the other. The matter is very subtle, and the world is unaware of it, and it is only with the authority of God. 

Next the Promised Messiahas discussed Atheism. Seemingly there are two groups: one that believes in God and the other that do not. Among the faithful there are also those who have an aspect of atheism in them. Because if they believe in God with conviction then why is there such an increase in impiousness and immodesty. For instance, if person is given arsenic, he will never drink it whilst knowing it to be poison. although you may tempt him of a hefty sum. Because he knows if it is taken, he will die. Then why is it so that people whilst knowing that sin angers God drink this cup of poison. They lie, commit adultery and are ready to cause harm…..Such courage, mischief and impudence are not possible after true knowledge and complete conviction. Hence, they do not know that this poison of sin is greater in destruction than arsenic…because the life of sin has become a norm, evil and mischief is loved rather than looked upon as an abhorrence. The difference is merely that one claims God exists yet does not believe and the other fully rejects his existence. In reality both are same.

The Promised Messiahas further elaborated on the purpose of his arrival. How his dispensation has been established for [over a period of] twenty-five years, a time in which a child can be born and become a father.

He states: “God having bestowed his mercy on people by assisting him at the time of need. He has granted him with the courage and conviction which he had always granted to His appointees. Due to this courage and conviction, he is never fatigued. The time is near when all the opposition will be removed, and one is optimistic that such a time near. I tell you the truth that the heavens speak, and God wants a pious change in the dwellers of this world.”

If it is asked, what have you achieved since your arrival? We ought not to say anything, the world itself will find out what we have achieved. We shall only say this much that people come to us for penitence, in result indecency is revoked, humbleness, meekness and high morals are inculcated. Their growth is gradual like that of crops, moral and habitual faculties are enhanced.

Human success is not instant rather as per the natural law the growth of all things is in stages.  Nothing is outside of this process. We are optimistic that in the end the truth will prevail, and a pious change will occur. This is not our work but the work of God; it is His decision that piety should spread. The state of the world has become distorted, and it has become rotten. Nothing of the essence remains, only the shell. God desires that man becomes pure and for that purpose he has established this community.

Next the question was asked, what is the true meaning of The Promised Messiahas according to your books? The Promised Messiahas explained that prior to Mosesas the traces of previous prophets were lost. It was Mosesas in whose book the names of Noah, Adam and other prophets were mentioned. Just as every family had a propositus similarly Mosesas was declared the propositus for the lineage of Prophets. After his death a series of prophets appeared to uphold the law known as Torah, then in the fourteenth century Jesusas appeared as the Messiah, a final piece for the dispensation of Mosesas. Hence just like a house is completed after laying the final block similarly after the arrival of Jesusas the Mosaic dispensation came to an end and a new dispensation was established from the progeny of Ismaelas known as the dispensation of Muhammadsaw. God conveyed through Mosesas that a similar dispensation will be established from the children of Ismaelas. Since the children of Israel (the Jews) mistreated Mosesas the first of them and also Jesusas the last of them and even those who came throughout the periods in between, these people were so cruel and daring that the example of such people cannot be matched. They left no stone unturned in their disbelief and opposition of prophets. and because they did not value the holy men of God, the dispensation came to an end with Jesusas. Now this end was not due to the pleasure rather it was due to His displeasure. The fatherless birth was a sign that the dispensation has come to an end.

The Promised Messiahas further mentioned the similarities of the two dispensations and how the dispensation of Muhammadsaw has a direct resemblance with the dispensation of Mosesas. He explained that just as Jesusas appeared fourteen hundred years after Moses similarly it was destined for the Promised Messiah’sas appearance to be in the fourteenth century. Thus, it occurred to complete the resemblance between the two dispensations.  Similarly, just when Jews had become morally and spiritually corrupt at the time of Jesus, The New Testament appeared to morally and spiritually uplift them. He explained that the current times are depicting the worst scenario where the European culture has ruined the principles of morality and given aid to spread of Atheism. There is nothing left of what was once known as Religion. If this was the case of Europe alone even then the arrival for the spiritual reformer was imperative, however the state of Muslims have also become corrupt, their beliefs, morals and habits have degenerated. They are only aware of the name ‘Islam’ but are devoid of its essence and spirit and due to the lack of knowledge and practice, their religion and beliefs are under attack by foreign nations. When the state of (Muslims) reached that point then God according to His promise and in accordance with the above-mentioned resemblance of Mosaic and Islamic dispensation appointed me as the Promised Messiah at the head of the fourteenth century.

The Quran refers to the coming of the Promised Messiah as Khatam-al-Khulafa the last of the Caliphs. The Bible also speaks of the second coming of Jesusas.  The Promised Messiahas presented the example of Elijah’s return in the person of John the Baptist mentioned in the Bible and explained that the return of Jesus also was not to be in a physical sense rather another individual was to come in his name and in his spirit. So Jesusas through his verdict on the return of Elijah also explained the nature of his return.

Next the Promised Messiahas expounded on the concept of Jihad. He explained that it is an erroneous notion that Islam was spread by the sword propagated by the ignorant opponents of Islam. The expeditions of Islam were all defensive. Additionally, the teaching of Islam consists of such miraculous signs that it attracts people towards itself and is the true reason of its propagation. Those who have read his books know that the entire function of his mission is Messianic in nature. He says he has been instructed [by God] to strengthen the moral faculties of people therefore he is named the Promised Messiah. This statement he says, he knows would also invite the opposition of Christians against him, but how can he be afraid of it when God has informed him and appointed him as a reformer. If these claims were self-made then surely the opposition would have halted his efforts. He is willing to exert in any possible way on his part to explain [his claim] to every rational person.

Next it was asked what would be the result of his prophethood? The Promised Messiahas explained that the relationship between man and God is lost, and the love of the world has taken its place, righteousness has declined. God Almighty will strengthen the relationship between man and Himself again, the lost righteousness will be re-established, and the love of the world will become cold.

It was asked while there are many religions in the world how does one determine which religion is true and from God? The Promised Messiahas responded that this shouldn’t be a difficult task as there is a criterion in the world to judge between genuine and counterfeit. The Day and the Night are clearly unalike. Can a true religion ever remain hidden? A true religion through its practical teachings grants such a nature that one due to the fear of Almighty God’s [displeasure] and under his attributes increases in righteousness and His love. A true religion inculcates heavenly signs which can be witnessed in every age.

The Promised Messiahas further answered the question about the survival of Jesusas from the Crucifixion by giving various proofs from the Bible such as the sign of Jonah which required that Jesusas survives the crucifixion to complete the resemblance between the two incidents. Many other incidents from the Bible point towards him surviving the crucifixion. Points such as the beginning of Sabbath, Pilate washing his hands and the dream of his [Pilate’s] wife etc. He further writes that God Almighty has informed him of sufficient arguments in order to establish that Jesusas survived crucifixion in the state of unconsciousness. There are two main reasons for his survival 1. The survival of Jesus was a miracle, a man who looks upon this miracle with contempt is worthy of condemnation. 2. Our Prophet Muhammad does not verify his death upon the cross rather he confirms he survival and a natural death. If all the incidents related to crucifixion mentioned in the Bible are examined collectively it becomes evident that he did not die on the cross. The Promised Messiahas mentioned various different incidents from the Bible to ascertain the survival of Jesus from the cross and stated that the Tomb at Khanyar Srinagar has been argued to be the grave of Jesus. This argument will shake up the world because if he had been crucified then where did the Tomb come from? 

It was asked whether he has seen the Tomb himself to which the Promised Messiahas responded he has not seen it but had sent his sincere and reliable companion, after conducting a research he returned with the testimonies of five hundred credible people who verified this tomb. They refer to him as a prince prophet ‘Shehzada Nabi’. A book named Ikmaludeen was written eleven hundred years ago and named it Bushra (Good news) which is the very meaning of Injeel (Gospel) has been attributed to ‘Shehzada Nabi’. The incidents and moral teachings are similar and at times an entire passage of the Bible is found in that book. Then the person named Yuz Asaf is infact the same person of Jesus. The very meaning of Asaf is ‘gatherer of scattered people’. The purpose of Jesusas was also to gather the ‘lost sheep’ of Israel so Yuz Asaf was indeed Jesusas himself. These are the things which reveal the secret of his crucifixion. The Christians have accepted that there was a man named Yuz Asaf who may have been a deciple of Jesusas, if he was, then they ought to prove that there was a disciple of Jesusas named Yuz Asaf. We believe that Yuz Asaf was Jesus himself and the teachings of Yuz Asaf are in fact the teachings of the Gospel.

Both have been referred as ‘Prince Prophets’. If this is not the Messiahas himself then who is he? The Christians have accepted a connection between the two and some refer to him as a disciple and a church is also named after Yuz Asaf in Italy where a festival takes place every year. Thus, the onus of proof is at their disposal to prove Yuz Asaf to be his disciple. The Promised Messiahas explains that if they had not accepted any connection between them then it would have been his obligation to present the evidence.

It was asked at the end according to the Promised Messiahas what is the responsibility of the Christians. The Promised Messiahas explained it is a responsibility of every individual not Christians alone to seek the truth and to accept it wherever they may find it.

In the end the visitors thanked the Promised Messiahas for his hospitality and before leaving they took some literature with them. With regards to the discussion on survival of Jesusas from Crucifixion and his travel to Kashmir, the Promised Messiahas had already written a comprehensive book in April 1899 titled Jesus in India which was first published in November 1908. 

Returning to Griswold’s two papers about the Promised Messiahas and his claims it is evident and understandable that, as a Christian Missionary, Griswold’s work is polemical in nature. After introducing the founder and his claims he moves on to criticizing the Promised Messiah’sclaims, specifically with regards to the survival of Jesusas from the cross and his migration to the Kashmir, India. And in this criticism, he cites various anti Ahmadiyya sources such as Noor-e-Afshan[6] his fellow Christian priests like Padri Imad-u-deen who had previously written against the Promised Messiahas in his book Tauzin ul Aqwal and said that there is a political purpose behind the claim of the Promised Messiahas and God forbid he was a fraud.

On page 25 of his first paper ‘The Mehdi Messiah of Qadian’ in 1902 he writes: 

As regards to those who are outside the Qadiani camp, all, so far as I know, whether Hindus, Aryas, Muhammadans or Christian, are at one regarding the Mirza Sahib as a deceiver, whether it is conscious or unconscious.” The opinions, on this point, concerning him may be summed up under three judgments: 1) that he is a conscious deceiver 2) that he is insane 3) that he is self-deluded.”  

He continues: 

“On the whole, however, it seems to me that the third judgment is the safest one, namely that the Mirza Sahib is honest, but self-deceived. So far, I am able to judge, his writings everywhere have the ring of sincerity. His persistency in affirming his in the face of most intense and bitter opposition is magnificent. He is willing to suffer on behalf of his claims.”

What Griswold conveniently forgets is that similar to the first Messiah Jesusas who was accused of being a liar, imposter abrogator of the law by both the Jews and the Romans, the second Messiah had a similar allegation levied against him by the Muslims and non-Muslims such as the Christians and Hindus. Likewise, the opponents of the Holy Prophetsa had to resort to describing him as a poet, a magician, and a madman, among other names, so that his entire message would become questionable. 

Aristotle once said, “A common danger unites even the bitterest enemies”. Thus, was the case with regards to the Promised Messiahas as mentioned by Griswold above. We find Muslims, Christians and Hindus unite in the opposition of the Promised Messiahas despite their major differences, one such example of this could be found in the lawsuit in 1897 against the Promised Messiahas by Dr. Henry Martin Clark when Muhammad Hussain Batalvi appeared as a witness to falsely testify against the Promised Messiahas that he had sent a man named Abdul Hameed to murder Dr. Clark.[7]

Things may not have been as clear in the time of Griswold, yet today glancing over the history of the Ahmadiyya community it becomes very clear that there was never a political motive behind the claims of the Promised Messiahas nor was he a deceiver, insane or deluded. Imposters never witness such a support from the Almighty God that their message reaches the corners of the world – rather their efforts soon fade away while the Ahmadiyya community continues to grow under the divinely inspired leadership of the Ahmadiyya Caliphate.

It is also interesting to note that Griswold’s personal observation of the Promised Messiahas after their meeting is a positive one. He states. “In the village of Qadian, Gurdaspur District, Punjab, there lives an old man about sixty-four years of age, venerable in appearance, magnetic in personality and active in intellect. This is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.”  

His criticism of the Promised Messiahas however is self-contradictory and it is clearly due to preconception of his belief in Jesus’s atonement which is the basis of Christianity today. Because nothing remains of today’s Christianity if that is falsified. It is self-contradicting because it is inadequate to declare a person as insane or self-deluded and on the other hand admitting to his venerable appearance, magnetic personality and active intellect. Any sane man who is not controlled by presumptions or his indoctrinated beliefs, reading the replies of the Promised Messiahas would agree that the replies are free from any bias, self-proclamation of truth or self-propagation, rather a method is presented to determine the validity of a true faith. Wherever such truth is found one should be willing to accept it. 

Griswold writes of the Promised Messiah(as) that: ‘His persistency in affirming his in the face of most intense and bitter opposition is magnificent. He is willing to suffer on behalf of his claims.’  Is this not the case for all the true prophets of God that they are never afraid or fatigued by even the most intense and bitter opposition, each and every step of theirs is an advancing one and they are ultimately victorious. Thus, the Promised Messiahas stated:

“O mankind! hearken, this is the prophecy of God Who made the Heavens and the Earth. He will spread this Movement in all the countries and will give it supremacy over all through reason and arguments. Remember, no one will descend from heaven. All our opponents who are living at present will die and not one of them will see Jesus, son of Mary, descend from the sky and then their children who survive them will also pass away and none of them will see Jesus, son of Mary, coming down from the heaven. Generations of their posterity will also perish and they too will not see the son of Mary descending from heaven… I came only to sow the seed. That seed has been sown by my hands. It will now grow and blossom forth and none dare retard its growth.[8]

As mentioned above the entire account has been covered in three different publications of Al-Hakam 10,17,24 May 1901. There is not a single mention of counter question from these missionaries yet in his research paper Griswold sarcastically refers to the above statements of the Promised Messiahas as one of the great discoveries and he says is “Another that Jesus died in cashmere and was buried there[9] 

The credibility of Griswold is at question here because as a sincere researcher he must question the Promised Messiahas on his above statement in his company or present counter arguments contrary to the research of the Promised Messiahas. Arguments that are worthy of being accepted by a sane person with no bias of Christian theology, on Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. The reason for Griswold’s belief in Christian theology on crucifixion and resurrection is not based on his critical analysis or research rather it is based upon inherited Christian belief.  There is not a single counter question or argument presented by Griswold during the discourse in the company of the Promised Messiahas

The Promised Messiahas was informed about Griswold’s paper “Mirza Ghulam Ahmad The Messiah and Mahdi of Qadian” by his companions. He was informed that Griswold has critiqued the claims of the Promised Messiahas in his paper and that his paper had received a lot of exposure in the USA. The companions then observed that God had made another way for the propagation of the message of Islam. 

عدو شود سبب خیر گر خدا خواہد

If God wills, then even an opponent can become a source of goodness.

The Promised Messiahas replied: “We should also respond if he has sent [a copy of his] book as a gift we should also reply with a gift. These are the works of God; a lot is achieved through the attention of opponents. I have experienced where an opponent stumbles, there lies a great wisdom.”[10] 

The Daily News, Tuesday, May 16, 1905

The second paper of Griswold was read out in the Victoria institute also known as The Philosophical Society of Great Britain on May 15th, 1905. The society was founded in 1865 as a response to the publication of Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’ and also of Charles Lyell’s Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man.

The effort was to defend the Bible from the opposition of science.[11] Some of its objectives are described as to investigate Philosophy and Science, especially those that are in contradictory to the Scripture. This was attempted through inviting scientists and authors who were engaged in various scientific theories or hypotheses to a discussion in order to bring forward a collective conclusion. Lastly “To examine and discuss all supposed scientific results with reference to final causes, and the more comprehensive and fundamental principles of Philosophy proper, based upon faith in the existence of one Eternal God, Who in His wisdom created all things very good”[12]

It is evident from the efforts of such societies in 19th and 20th century that religion as an entity was under attack from science and the intellectuals who followed and practiced the Christian faith did try everything to defend their faith. Secondly the question is, with regards to the paper read out, what was the need to introduce a man sitting in small village of India if he or his teachings were of no importance?

The paper was read out by the Secretary of the society Professor Edward Hull. The paper does not differ much from the first paper of Griswold but the discussion which ensues after its declamation is worth mentioning.

Colonel Alves. – A participant opened the discussion with a comment: “I think when we entered this room most of us did not know who Qadian was or where it or he was.”

The Almighty God had already informed the Promised Messiahas at a time when nobody knew him or where Qadian was – rather he lived and preferred a life of seclusion:

فَحَانَ اَن تُعَانَ وَتُعرَف بَین النَّاس

The time has arrived when you will be helped and made well-known among people.[13]

یاتون من کل فج عمیق

People will come to you in numbers that the track on which they travel will become deep.[14]

Thus, for people to come to Qadian in numbers, a place not known as a tourist attraction or of any great importance at the time, testifies the truthfulness of this prophecy. 

Mr. Rouse. continues: As to the arising of such Messiahs, we have lately had the Mahdi in Dongola and at Khartoum; we have this man here spoken of; we have had a Messiah appearing in the western United States, and men getting leave from railway companies in order to follow him to be cured of their injuries sustained on the railways. The last man, after flourishing for a few weeks, disappeared, saying blasphemously that the Father needed him elsewhere. And now we have a remarkable man who has preached for many years to a certain small sect in London, claiming to be the Messiah: I speak of the leader of the Agapemonites. But this is just what our Lord Jesus Christ foretold, that shortly before His final coming one of the signs would be that many would arise in His name saying, ” I am Christ.”[15]

Then the Chairman making his remarks suggesting that this is also a sect like many other reformist sects appeared to fight the special evils of the time and says: “In the lifetime of the founder they flourished, but decay as a rule soon set in after his death. So, in the ordinary course we may expect that, on the death of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad will probably decline.”[16]

Looking at the history of religion we can understand that it is often the case that those waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled knowing that the time is ripe, will go to any extent to reject the true claimant by giving him resemblance to those that are false. The question is whether Jesus only spoke of false Messiahs, or did he also mention the coming of the true Messiah? To merely state that opposition from his own people suggests he is false is incorrect, history testifies to the fact that all prophets have faced opposition from their own people. According to JesusasA Prophet is not without honour save in his own country.[17]

The chairman’s remarks with reference to false Messiahs is a correct criterion to judge the truthfulness of a claimant “In the lifetime of the founder they flourished, but decay as a rule soon set in after his death”[18] All of the names presented of false claimants of Messiah are forgotten in the pages of history. Today a hundred and thirty years later, since the inception of this community, not only the name of its founder lives but his community continues to grow and is established in more than two hundred countries of the world under the leadership of Khilafat. The Promised Messiahas in his very last book A Message of Peace writes “If the faculty of reasoning is employed, the good or evil of anything becomes manifest from the fruit it bears.”[19]

The Promised Messiahas further writes: “We believe that for all the Prophets who have come to different peoples of the world and have been accepted by millions of people in all parts of the world, and love for them and their greatness has been firmly established in any one part of the world, and further that this state of devotion and love for them has endured the test of time, is evidence enough of their truthfulness. Had they not been from God, they could not have been accepted on such a wide scale by millions upon millions of hearts. God does not bestow such honour upon those whom He favours not. If an imposter aspires to occupy their position, he is soon brought to ruin.”

This has been supported by the Quran chapter 69:46 and the Bible chapter 18:20 that false prophets do not succeed but rather they are brought to ruin. The Promised Messiahas has established that the truth of all religions at their specific times from the above statement and has presented a criterion to evaluate the truthfulness of a claimant.

Hence, we can conclude that any researcher writing on the life or community of the Promised Messiahas should give due care when examining the claims of the founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and should not consider the historical accounts stated by the opponents as factual without reading the accounts of Ahmadiyya sources. It is due to the Blessings of God that since the inception of the community the Promised Messiahas had himself commenced the weekly Urdu newspapers known as Al-Hakam, Al-Badar and an English magazine, The Review of Religions. All of these sources have played a major role in archiving the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. One such incident of this efficient work is seen at Sialkot in 1904. The Promised Messiahas was returning from Sialkot to Qadian with his companions. The train was stationed at Wazirabad platform for some time when Rev. Scott a famous missionary from Sialkot came and started a conversation with the Promised Messiahas. During the conversation when he noted that the Editor of Al-Hakam (Shiekh Yaqub Ali Irfanira) was taking notes he became worried and quickly decided to leave. Some members of the community seeing him anxious and nervous said what harm is there as it would benefit us and the public? But he was adamant that this conversation should not be noted and published.[20] Thus, the community has been well documented since its inception and if there did not exist an internal account from the Ahmadiyya sources in a lot more detail than we would have been obliged to accept whatever Griswold has stated. However, since an alternative source with detailed account of the meeting exists, academic integrity demands that both accounts are studied before reaching any conclusion.

Hence the Review of Religions in its issue of October 1903 also discussed and refuted Griswold’s pamphlet when Mr. McCuskey of Forman Christian College Lahore informed the “Union Signal” (Chicago) that supposedly Dr. Griswold had falsified the claims of the Promised Messiahas. The Review of Religions October 1903 wrote:

“If simple an assertion that the claimant is false or that his prophecies are not fulfilled, is a satisfactory proof of falsity, the Pharisees adequately proved the falsity of the claims of Jesus and millions of men have since then proved his falsity. If not, Mr. McCuskey will kindly point out to us the arguments in Dr. Griswold’s thirty-two paged pamphlet, showing, for instance, that it is not the time for the coming of the Messiah, that the second advent of Jesus is to be a physical and personal advent and not a spiritual one (remembering of course how Jesus construed the second advent of Elijah to satisfy the Jews that he was the true Messiah), that Jesus did die up- on the cross, rose from  the dead and subsequently went up to heaven, that the arguments of the Promised Messiah to the contrary are not good and valid arguments, and that the signs of the Promised Messiah are not as conclusive and well-proved as those of Jesus, if the latter  actually showed the signs related in the Gospels.  Perhaps Dr.  Griswold told Mr. McCuskey that he had proved the Messiah’s falsity and Mr. McCuskey could not question his friend’s honesty by himself considering the amount and weight of the evidence brought forward by him in contravention of the claims of the Promised Messiah.  Or, with due respect to Mr. McCuskey’s logical profundity, we may suggest that like his friend Dr.  Griswold, he cannot distinguish between an assertion and an argument, and takes the Doctor’s assertions, as he himself took them, for arguments.[21]


[1] Dr. Griswold’s “Autobiographical Notes, prepared for his descendants” (247 pp., 1938-40) Collection Number: 2124 (Cornell University Library)

[2] The Messiah of Qadian by H. D. Griswold (1905) P.1

[3] The account is also published in Malfuzat Vol 2 P.144-164 (Edition 2016)

[4] Ibid P.144

[5] Ibid P.146

[6] Nur-i-Afshan, a periodical published by the Presbyterian Mission in the Punjab, in Urdu, from 1877 to 1966.

[7] (Discussed in detail elsewhere)

[8] Tazkira-tush-Shahadatain p.64-65

[9] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad The Mehdi Messiah of Qadian by H.D. Griswold P.23

[10] Malfuzat Vol 3 P.475-476 27 Dec 1902 (Edition 2016)

[11] https://www.faithandthought.org/ The Society is still functional under the name ‘FaithandThought’

[12] THE MESSIAH OF QADIAN BY GRISWOLD P.1

[13] Tadhkirah p.19-20, Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part Three P. 222 (English)

[14] Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part Three P. 211 (English)

[15] The Messiah of Qadian (1905) P.15 (The case of Pigott and the prophecy of the Promised Messiahas about him has been discussed in great detail towards the end of the book)

[16] Ibid P.16

[17] Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4

[18] The Messiah of Qadian (1905) P.15-16

[19] A Message of Peace P.22 (English)

[20] Malfuzat Vol 3 P.240 3 Nov 1904 (Edition 1984)/ Zikr-e-Habib P.98

[21] For more read (The Review of Religions October 1903 P.400-404

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