Non-Ahmadi opponents raise the objection that the Promised Messiah(as) declared that believing Jesus(as) to be alive, is ‘shirk’ (polytheistic):
“Thus it is disrespectful to say that Jesus did not die and it is a great ‘shirk’.” (Al-Istaftā. Appendix Haqīqatul Wahī p-39,R.K. Vol-22, p-660).
but had the same belief for a long time before calling this belief ‘shirk’. Therefore, they allege, that he himself committed ‘shirk’ according to his own verdict.
This objection is a manifest evidence of not only the ignorance of the opponents of Ahmadiyyat from the teachings of Qur`ān and Hadīth but also their animosity and grudge against Ahmadiyyat. As a matter of fact, these opponents are followers and inheritors of those who always raise objections against the Prophets. Allāh says to the Holy Prophet(sa):
[41:44] Nothing is said to thee but what was said to the Messengers before thee.
Allāh says that as if these opponents convey this message to generation after generation to adopt same behavior and attitude against the prophets of their times:
[51:54] Have they made it a legacy to one another? Nay, they are all a rebellious people.
Allāh says that they do so because their hearts are similar to each other:
[2:119] …Likewise said those before them similar to their saying. Their hearts are alike…
If these opponents of Ahmadiyyat were in the time of the Holy Prophetsa, they must have raised similar objections against him.
Regarding the Prophets, this Qur`ānic principle must be kept in mind that they do not say anything decisively unless they receive revelation from God. Describing this characteristic of Prophets Allāh says:
[21:28] They speak not before He speaks, and they act only by His command.
We know very well about the practice of the Holy Prophet(sa) that whenever such a question was asked of him, the answer of which he didn’t know by that time, he used to remain silent. Later, upon receiving the revelation containing the answer to that question he used to call for the questioner and provide the answer. It is also an established historical fact that he followed some rituals and practices of the people of the Book but abandoned those practices upon receiving revelation against it.
One of the most visible and the greatest form of ‘shirk’ is to prostrate before idols. There were 360 idols in Ka`aba which were worshiped by Makkans and were removed after the fall of Makka. The Holy Prophet(sa), during his 13 years of Makkan life of prophethood, offered prayers many times in Ka`aba with those idols present in it. Can any believer dare to say that, God Forbid, the Holy Prophet(sa) committed ‘shirk’? What would be the response of opponents of Ahmadiyyat if any non-Muslim critic raise this objection that prostrating before idols is considered ‘shirk’ in Islam but the Prophet of Islam used to prostrate before the idols for 13 years?
Another glaring example of such practice by Prophets is of Hadhrat Ibrahīm(as), who is considered as the father of the monotheism. Non-Ahmadi opponent scholars have written about him that, in the beginning, he believed a bright star, moon, and sun to be his gods. Explaining verses 6:75-78 Maulvī Sanāullah Amritsarī writes:
“As we taught Ibrahim this idea, likewise, before that, we used to show him the sovereignty of all the heavens and the earth and taught him that the whole world, i.e., whatever is in the heavens and in the earth, is working under a great Power. None of them is permanently effective. We showed and taught him all these because by reflecting upon them he may became a perfect believer and advance step by step…Therefore, by this principle Ibrahim kept on advancing. The detail of this synopsis is that one day, when he had an argument with his father, he continued to ponder the whole day that whom should he consider the Lord of the world. When darkness of night prevailed over him and he saw a bright star, he said, “Probably this is my lord”. But, as he was in the process of seeking, when the star set, he realized that rising and setting is a kind of embarrassment, which is not worthy of Lord of the world. He said that he does not like those to take as gods who set down. Then, soon after that he exclaimed, by seeing the shining moon, that probably this is his lord. But when it also disappeared in the morning behind some mountain, he said that he is severely mistaken and if his Lord does not guide him, he may become among the misguided people. Then, after that when, in the morning, he saw the illuminating sun he said that probably this is his lord because it is very big. But when it also set, he said: “my brothers! People of my nation! I am clear of that which you associate with God.”
This paragraph proves two things: one that a prophet gradually advances in his belief and secondly that his statements, before reaching to certainty of truth, do not render him sinful or a polytheist. A true prophet certainly grabs any glittering thing in search of real pearls, but throws them away soon after realizing their reality. That is why it is said about the Holy Prophet(sa):
[93:8] And He found thee wandering in search for Him and guided thee unto Himself.
Supporting this concept, Syed Abu-al-Ala Maududi wrote in the commentary of the verses 6:75-78:
“Another question is raised here in this context that when Hadhrat Ibrahim said while seeing the star that it is my lord and when seeing the moon and the sun he called them his lord, wasn’t he, though temporarily, committed ‘shirk’? The answer to it is that those intermediary stages are not credible on which a seeker of truth stays for a while to ponder, but that direction is plausible in which he is stepping forward and that final point is to be trusted on which he ultimately stays. The intermediary stages are essential for every truth-seeker. To pause over them is for the sake of seeking and investigating, not as the ultimate decision. In fact this pause is of interrogative and questioning nature not of decisive. When a seeker pauses at one of these stages and says “that’s it”, it is not his final opinion. Rather, it means “is that it?” After investigation and reflection he finds out that “it is not that” and proceeds further. Therefore, it is wrong to assume that wherever he stayed on his way he was temporarily involved in disbelief or ‘shirk’. (Tafheem-ul-Quran p-558,559).
The above references prove that all prophets are free and clear from ‘shirk’ and they cannot be alleged to commit ‘shirk’ even if any of their statements may appear to be of polytheistic nature in the light of their ultimate and final belief.
We find such examples in some ahadith of the Holy Prophet(sa). These ahadith tell us that, in the earlier period of his prophethood, he forbade people to declare him greater than other prophets, rather called such person a liar who says that the Holy Prophet(sa) is superior to Prophet Jonah(as) son of Matthew. But later, he declared that he is the Chief of the progeny of Adam. Now, all the Muslims, irrespective of their sectarian differences, unanimously believe him to be the greatest of all the Prophets and no one calls any other believer as a liar.
It is interesting to note that the Promised Messiah(as) has already explained this difference of statements and responded to the allegation of the opponents, but they are still repeating the same objection as if no answer has been given and the issue has still not settled. The Promised Messiah(as) says:
“These are the divine Revelations which I have already noted on the afore-mentioned pages of Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya; which, explicitly as well as implicitly, connote my humble-self’s being the Matheel-e-Mau’ood. Albeit, it was not resolved in Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya—on the basis of divine Revelation—as to what is the real truth regarding the advent of Hadhrat Messiah son of Mary, as people are waiting for, that he will get out of the Paradise and, with his hands resting on the shoulders of the angels, he will literally descend from the heaven to the earth. Instead, whatever I have written in regarding the second-coming in this world of Messiah son of Mary, it was written in light of the celebrated well-known and commonly-held belief, to which the contemporary thinking of my Muslim brothers is inclined. Thus, it was only in the context of this apparent belief, that I had written that: I am only Matheel-e-Mau’ood, and my vicegerency (Khilafat) is simply a vicegerency in the spiritual sense; but, when the Messiah [Ibne-Maryam] will come, he will have a vicegerency that will be both explicit as well as physical. This statement, which was made in Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya, was in accord with the [principle] that a recipient of Revelation must observe the basic following of the related traditions of his Prophet. This is so, because those who are recipients of Revelation from God the Exalted, they do not speak without being [divinely] spoken to, and they do not comprehend without the comprehension that is [divinely] provided to them, and they do not make any claim unless they are [divinely] so commanded; and they, of their own accord, are not capable of taking any daring initiative. For the same reason, our Holy Prophet(sa) used to prefer to follow the religious faith-traditions of the People of the Book, up until he would receive a divine Revelation in regard to the observance of certain acts of worship. And, right from the time of receiving such a Revelation, and learning about the truth, he would abandon the earlier practice. Thus, in accordance with this, no discussion was undertaken in Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya, from my own point of view, about Hadhrat Messiah son of Mary. But, now that God the Exalted has manifested the reality of this matter [through Revelation] to my humble-self, then it became absolutely imperative to make a general proclamation of it. (Azalā-e-Auhām R.K. Vol-3, P-196,197)
Hudhūr(as) further says:
“There is no contradiction in my sayings. I only follow the revelation of God Almighty. Until I had no knowledge about it, I used to say what I said in the beginning. And when I received knowledge from Him I said against it. I am a human being and do not claim to be knower of the unseen. This is the actual matter, anyone may accept it or not. (Haqīqatul Wahī R.K. Vol-22, P-154).
It is, thus, proved, beyond any doubt, that the Promised Messiah(as) never committed ‘shirk’ and the allegation thereof is nothing but a valid proof of his opponents walking on the foot-steps of their predecessors, i.e., the opponents of previous prophets. By doing so they are doing nothing but proving the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah(as).