“A Warner came to the world but the world did not accept him. But God will accept him and manifest his truth through powerful assaults”(Nuzul-ul-Masih, page 21)
A glance at the devastating plague that struck the world and claimed the lives of millions. The plague was the fulfilment of a prophecy, testifying to the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". In this essay, I shall give a brief introduction to the prophecy of the plague, the faculties of a plague from a scientific perspective, how the plague occurred and how it affected the world, and finally, I shall attempt to answer some accusations made by the opponents of Ahmadiyyat regarding this prophecy of the plague.
Over time, prophets have warned about the latter days, and upon being asked to describe the latter days, they have mentioned that there will be wars, earthquakes and an abundance of evil. One thing among these signs which was also mentioned by the prophets, was fulfilled in such a way that the world shall never forget:
Then he said to them:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven… Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”Luke Chapter (21:10-11,31)
Thus, upon the advent of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", all of these signs began to appear, a drought spread over Karnataka, earthquakes hit Punjab, the moon and the sun were eclipsed and a world war broke out which left millions dead. In addition to this, came the plague which destroyed everything in its path, except those, who were in the abode of the Promised One despite the fact, that the worst-hit area by the plague, was the homeland of this Promised One i.e. Punjab.
The Plague mentioned in The Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an mentioning the days when the prophecy of the Mahdi shall be fulfilled, states that a deadly plague shall strike the world:
وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ
And when the sentence is passed against them, We shall bring forth for them an insect (Da’bbah) out of the earth, which shall wound them because people did not believe in Our Signs.The Holy Qur’an (27:83)
In this clear cut verse, Allah the Almighty states that at the time when the prophecy shall be fulfilled, a bacteria shall arise from the ground which shall bite or wound such people who reject manifest signs. This is exactly what the plague is, it is a bacteria which came about from rodents such as rats, and spread into humans. The rodents either infected humans directly by biting them, or by biting other animals which later infected humans. Either way, the method of biting played a crucial role in spreading the plague.
One of the main researchers who helped to discover the bubonic plague; Paul L. Simmonds was a supporter of the fact that the plague came about from the earth, thus the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" wrote:
“It has been proven by recent breakthroughs that plague is spread through an insect of the earth.”
He further states:
“Various assumptions have been formed about the deadly epidemic that currently decimates our lands. Medical practitioners, whose sole concern is with the physical and that which pertains to it, say that the principal vehicles of contamination are fleas which first infect rats and from there the disease is passed onto humans.”
It is highly important to understand the significance of this Qur’anic prophecy, which has a very potent message for the people of this age. Many a past muslim scholar and commentator of the Qur’an has related this prophecy to the age when the Mahdi and the Messiah would appear. Although they could not understand the deeper message, they still came surprisingly close. ‘Allamah Isma’il Haqqi Al-Buruswi commentating on the aforementioned verse in Ruhul Bayan wrote that the Mahdi would come and then the Dajjal would appear followed by the Messiah. During this time ‘da’abbah’ will emerge and after that the sun will rise from the west.
The Shi’a scholar, Mullah Fath-Ullah Kashani in his commentary Minhaj-us Sadiqin, has made the following comments:
“According to some of our friends this verse (i.e. relating to the emergence of da’abbah) points to the advent of the Divine authority who is the Mahdi of the muslim people.”
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" regarding the plague
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" saw a dream in which he saw the plague. He states in his book Nuzul-ul-Masih:
“Today, Sunday, February 6, 1898, I saw in a dream that God’s angels were planting black trees in different parts of the Punjab. Those trees were very ugly, black in colour, terrifying and of small size. I asked some of those who were planting them: ‘What kind of trees are these?’ They answered: ‘These are trees of the plague which is about to spread in the country.’ It remained unclear to me whether it was said that the plague would spread during the coming winter or the winter after, but it was a terrible sign which I saw.”
The fact that the plants were black is very interesting as the bubonic plague is commonly referred to as ‘The Black Death’ nowadays.
In the same announcement, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" also referred to another revelation. He wrote:
“Before this [dream] I also received a revelation about the plague, that is: Until the people do not cure themselves of the disease of their sins, the epidemic of this world will not be alleviated.”
He further explained:
“Firstly, the plague was not raised in the earth solely because of the rejection of the Messiah of God, but also on account of the multiple sufferings inflicted on him; the intrigues of those who conspired to kill him; and his being branded a disbeliever and a Dajjal… In truth, the non-acceptance of a messenger is not the reason a calamity befalls a people. If a messenger of God is rejected with propriety and good conduct and is not made to endure the hardships of injury and abuse, the judgement of his deniers awaits them [not in this world but] in the hereafter.”
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" however, reassured his followers through a promise vouchsafed to him by Allah the Almighty that they would be safe:
“I will save all those who live within the four walls of your home.”
Expounding upon this, he further wrote in Kishti Nuh:
“In these present times, God has willed to show a sign of heavenly mercy, so He has informed me that I and all those who dwell within the four walls of my home; who wholly and unconditionally follow me; who are obedient to me and who on account of their righteousness have devoted themselves to me; will be saved from the plague… However, anyone who does not follow me absolutely is not part [of my Jama’at].”
“I repeat long before today, the Lord of heaven and earth; the all-knowing and all-powerful God, disclosed to me that He would save all those who live within the four walls of my home from death by the plague; but, on the condition that they enter my allegiance with complete sincerity, humility and obeisance and extinguish the fire of prejudice and enmity. Also, that they do not consider themselves superior to His commandments or those of His prophet; that they do not possess a selfish and rebellious disposition, nor behave at variance with their beliefs.”
Some people make accusations that some members of the community still died due to the plague. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" explained that the ‘Paisa’ Newspaper which made these allegations has listed the names of such ‘deceased’ which do not even exist! And those that have died in reality, have actually died due to other causes such as the annual fever which hits the Punjab. Even if there were to be a death, The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" explained that being an Ahmadi isn’t enough to be safe from the plague, in fact, one must be free of arrogance and pride:
اِنِّي اُحَافِظُ كُلَّ مَنْ فِي الدَّارِ
اِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَلَوْا مِنِ اسْتِكْبَارِِ
“In recent days God has revealed to me – ‘I will save all those who dwell in the four walls of your home, except for them who behave with arrogance and presume for themselves a high station. And I will save you with distinction. Peace be on you from God, the Merciful.”
Other than this, even if a follower of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" were to die of the plague, then they would be nothing less than a martyr. The Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" said:
“The martyrs are five: the one who dies of the plague, the one who dies of a stomach disease, the one who drowns, the one who is crushed beneath a falling wall, and the martyr who is killed for the sake of Allah.”
Who is safe from this plague?
Some people make the accusation that there was a prophecy made which insured the security of every member in Qadian, the words of this prophecy are as follows:
لَوْ لَا الْاِكْرَامُ لَهَلَكَ الْمُقَامَ
However, if one ponders upon the revelation, it becomes clear that no such promise has been made to safeguard every single person residing in Qadian, in fact, the promise has been made to protect the city from destruction as a whole. Explaining this, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" states:
“It ought to be known, that the decree regarding Qadian has two aspects; firstly, His decree which relates to the town in general; that [Qadian] will be saved from such plague as brings chaos and destruction and consumes entire dwellings, secondly, His decree which relates to my home in particular; that all those who reside within it will be saved from the ravages that might inflict certain inhabitants of Qadian.”
The plague which Qadian is promised to be saved from is “such plague as brings chaos and destruction and consumes entire dwellings”. The death of one or two people within Qadian can hardly be labelled as something which caused ‘chaos’ or ‘destruction’.
A testimony to the truth
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" also issued a challenge to various religious leaders throughout India to pray for the protection of those towns and cities where the headquarters of their religious institutions were based in order to show that they, and not Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", or any other individual group or community, were supported by God.
In Dafi-ul-Bala he wrote:
“If the Aryas sincerely believe in the truth of the Vedas, they should prophesise that their Parmeshwar will save Banares (Varanasi), the seat of Vedic learning. Likewise the Sanatan Dharam should prophesise the protection of a town known as a habitat for cattle. For example, they could prophesise that Amritsar will be saved from the plague because of the blessings of the cow; and should any bovine demonstrate this miracle, it would be wholly understandable were the government to enforce a total ban on the slaughter of this wondrous animal. Again, the christians ought to predict that the plague will not afflict Calcutta as it is the home of the chief bishop of the British Empire. So too should Mian Shams-ud-Din and the members of the Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam foretell that Lahore will be protected. The accountant, Munshi Ilahi Bakhsh, who claims to be the recipient of divine revelation, has a wonderful opportunity to assist the Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam in this. It would also be appropriate for ‘Abdul Jabbar and ‘Abdul Haq to make a similar prophecy regarding Amritsar. And because Delhi is the centre of Wahabism, both Nadhir Hussain and Muhammad Hussain should prophesise the protection of the city. In this way the whole of the Punjab will be rescued from the clutches of this virulent disease and the British regency will be relinquished of the responsibility and expense of having to control the epidemic. But, should they fail to do this, it will perforce be determined that the true God is He Who has raised His messenger in Qadian.”
The very fact that nobody accepted the challenge, is in itself evidence testifying to the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". Also, it is evident many Hindus and Christians died from this plague. How did this happen? Did the plague choose whom to kill and whom to spare or was it being ordered from above?
The Plague: A humble servant of Allah’s Decree
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" yet again saw another dream in which it was clarified to him that the plague was indeed sent by Allah the Almighty Himself, the dream also indicated that the plague would only kill those whom Allah the Almighty ordained to kill, it was obedient and only did what it was told. Perhaps, this is the only explanation for why millions of people who took vaccines died whereas those who took no medication i.e. the Ahmadiyya Community did not lose any true members. Thus, in Nuzul-ul-Masih, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" narrated his dream:
“In the end I write another dream which I saw regarding the plague. I saw an animal the height equal to that of an elephant; however, it had a face resembling one of a human. Some other parts resembled those of other animals and I saw that it came into existence out of thin air. I was sitting in a place surrounded by forest which contained every type of buffalo, donkey, horse, hound, hog, wolf and camel etc. And it was made clear to me that these are all humans who have appeared so due to their sins. Then I saw that this elephant sized animal constructed of different parts, which appeared out of thin air, came and sat next to me. It quietly faced the north and was very modest. After a few minutes it went into one side of the forest and when it entered the forest, the cries of Judgement Day arose forth as it devoured the animals and one could hear their bones being crushed. After finishing its business, it returned and came back to sit next to me, only a few minutes passed and it ran into another forest, then the same happened as before after which it returned to sit next to me. It has very wide eyes and I gazed at it extensively every time it came to sit next to me. By the expressions on its face, it intended to tell me that it was not its fault as to what it was doing because it had been appointed to do so, otherwise it appeared to be a very humble and righteous animal. It did nothing on its own accord, in fact it only did what it was commanded. Suddenly, it was made clear to me that this is the plague and this is the Da’abbatul-Ard which was promised in the Holy Qur’an that it would appear in the latter days and wound people because they rejected the signs and did not believe in them.”
So what we understand is that the plague which was prophesied would:
1. Attack those who rejected the signs of Allah
2. Come from the ground and bite or wound people
3. The community of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" would remain safe from this pandemic
So was this fulfilled in 1890’s and if so, how? To understand this, first we need to understand what the plague is in detail.
What is the plague?
Before delving into the details of the plague that hit Punjab, it is necessary to first take a glance at what the plague actually is. On the whole, there are commonly three categories of plague:
1. Bubonic Plague: (Yersinia Pestis)
The best-known symptom of bubonic plague is lymph nodes, known as buboes (I did not deem it appropriate to show visuals!). After being transmitted via the bite of an infected flea which often infects rats. Buboes associated with the bubonic plague are commonly found in the armpits, thighs, groin and neck region. Dark acne on the hands and feet is another common symptom. Because of its bite-based mode of transmission, the bubonic plague is often the first of a progressive series of illnesses. Bubonic plague symptoms appear suddenly a few days after exposure to the bacteria. Then, slowly but surely it takes hold of its victim and doesn’t let go until it has finished it. You may have heard of the Black Death which spread in Europe in the 1330’s, it wiped out 25 million people in 5 years, that’s one third of Europe. The villain behind the mask? It was the Bubonic Plague.
2. Septicaemia Plague:
This plague is a follow on disease of the bubonic plague. It infects the blood of a creature and is fatal. This is the rarest among the three types of plagues, affecting 5,000 people annually. The symptoms consist of internal bleeding, chills, fever and diarrhoea alongside the symptoms of the bubonic plague.
3. Pneumonic Plague:
This plague affects the respiratory system and can kill instantly. Symptoms include fever and weakness but there is no acne or any painful lymph nodes, just sudden death.
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" has summed up the plague by stating:
“There are three types of plague, the first is of lesser severity in which buboes appear, however, there is no fever. The second type is more severe and causes intense fever. The third type is the most severe, however, it does not cause fever nor buboes. A man can just die while sleeping. And such has occurred in Indian villages.
The Plague: A testimony to the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him"
Looking back at history, the latest time the plague reached a pandemic level was in the time of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". This plague initially spread in China but by 1894 it had spread to Hong Kong through cargo ships. Upon its arrival in Hong Kong, renowned scientists such as Kitasato of the Colonial Health Service (CHS) and Alexander Yersin were called to study the bacterium. It was initially declared to be Pasteurala Pestis, this was later named as Yersinia Pestis (in honour of Yersin) i.e. the Bubonic plague. The doctors and scientists came together in an effort to control the plague, however, their endeavours were unsuccessful and soon this plague began to spread worldwide.
The Plague hits India
First stop, Bombay! In 1896 the Bubonic plague arrived in India, preparing itself for the devastation it would bring to the country. The British Government, who ruled India at the time were in full-fledged action desperately trying to save their people from this pandemic, however, in just the first year of the outbreak, the plague claimed 2219 victims and by 1945 it had claimed 12 million lives. This was just in India. The Philippines, China and America were also under attack from this killer.
India was in panic, restrictions were immediately placed on export trade to prevent the plague coming from other countries, people who were suspected of carrying the plague were completely segregated from society, and the houses of victims were burnt, as were their bodies and the streams from which they drank were abandoned.
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information, regarding the situation at the time, sketches a similar state of emergency:
“Being on the international trading route, there was immense pressure on the British Imperial government of India to control this emergency. The Plague Commission was constituted in 1896 under the chairmanship of Prof. T.R. Frasor, Professor of Materia Medica at the University of Edinburgh. It comprised of members from various departments including J.P. Hewett, Interior Secretary to the government of India, Prof. A.E. Wright, Professor of Pathology at Army Medical College Netley, and others. The report of the Plague Commission in 1904 concluded that the disease was highly contagious and considered human transit as an important source of spreading the disease as they carried the germs with them. The commission recommended necessary preventive measures to disinfect and evacuate infected places, to put a control over mass transit, and to improve sanitary conditions. The commission also suggested strengthening of public health services and development of laboratories.”
The murder of the murderer
After countless deaths and months of research, a vaccine had finally been conjured up by Welademer Haffkine in 1896. He was already renowned for having found vaccine to previous diseases and outbreaks. He had managed to capture the bubonic bacteria in a flask, upon experiment, he discovered that it died at 70 degrees centigrade. Following this discovery, he made a vaccine which he first used himself to assure people that it was safe.
Following the discovery of this vaccine, the government advised every Indian citizen to take the vaccine as it had a very high success rate. However, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" felt no need for his community to take such a vaccine, for Allah the Almighty had promised:
اِنِّي اُحَافِظُ كُلَّ مَنْ فِي الدَّارِ
The fact that no true follower of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" was killed by this plague is a miracle that cannot be rejected. This sign, among other signs has been fulfilled, thereby testifying to the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". However, how many people have paid heed? As for those who have accepted him, they are now safe in the four walls of his abode, however, one should remember that it is not enough to merely be a part of the community, one should rid himself of pride and arrogance, this is the message I would like to conclude upon in the words of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" as he explains arrogance:
“Every such person who looks down upon his fellow brother because he is more educated than him or more wise or more skilled than him, is arrogant because he does not see Allah as the fountain of knowledge and wisdom and he thinks big of himself. Is Allah not capable of making him insane and making his brother who looks down upon intelligent and skilful? Similarly, whosoever looks down upon his brother due to wealth or power is also arrogant because he has forgotten that this power was given to him by Allah. He is blind and does not understand that Allah is capable of putting him in such a calamity that he suddenly becomes among the lowest class of people and his brother whom he looks down upon becomes wealthy. One who is proud of his health…is also arrogant… one who is lazy in prayer is also arrogant… one who arrogantly corrects his brother’s mistake is also arrogant… one who turns his face away when his brother tries to say something to him is also arrogant… one who feels disgust while sitting next to his poorer brother is also arrogant…one who does not listen to the words of the appointed ones by Allah is also arrogant…”Nuzul-ul-Masih, Page 24-25
This world has seen many a sign testifying to the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", however, people continue to turn away. Nevertheless, such people shall meet their fate as the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" said in Nuzul-ul-Masih:
وسيعلم الذين ظلموا اي منقلب ينقلبون
And the wrongdoers will soon know to what place of return they shall return.