Mirza Ghulam Ahmad seems to have been silent on the famous incident of the “satanic verses”, which constitute Chapter 53, verses 19-26 (see Tafsir Ibn Kathir). MGA seems to have never commented on this entire incident, which is strange since Sir William Muir brought them to the table for discussion as he worked in British India, most of his works on Islam were published from 1858-1890. Nevertheless, MGA and his team were totally silent on these verses and thus avoided the entire conflict up til 1917 and after the split.
The Satanic Verses incident, known as qissat al-gharaniq (Story of the Cranes), is the name given to the occasion on which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad is said to have mistaken the words of “satanic suggestion” for divine revelation. Narratives involving the alleged verses (or verse) can be read in, among other places, the biographies of Muhammad by al-Wāqidī, Ibn Sa’d (who was a scribe of Waqidi) and Ibn Ishaq (as reconstructed by Alfred Guillaume), as well as the tafsir of al-Tabarī.
The majority of Muslim scholars have rejected the historicity of the incident on the basis of the theological doctrine of ‘isma (prophetic infallibility i.e., divine protection of Muhammad from mistakes) and their weak isnads (chains of transmission). Orientalist scholars on the other hand have largely accepted the historicity, citing the implausibility of early Muslim biographers “fabricating a story so unflattering about their prophet” as one of various reasons.
The first use of the expression ‘Satanic Verses’ is attributed to Sir William Muir (1858)
What did MGA write about Satanic inspirations?
From 1880 to Nov. 1901, MGA did not claim prophethood, he only claimed to be a metaphorical prophet. He claimed to be a muhadas, a mujadid, and the messiah and Mahdi. However, these titles opened up MGA to making mistakes in his revelations and etc. In fact, when MGA’s son Bashir-1 died (1888), MGA claimed to have made an error in interpretation, he called this normal, he blamed all the prophets before him and accused them of making huge mistakes in interpreting revelations and etc.
MGA commented on Satanic inspirations of prophets in 1898, not the satanic verses specifically
See “The need for the Imam” pages, 27-30 :
“””””Let it be remembered that the soothsayers who were found in large numbers in Arabia before the advent of the Holy Prophetsa, frequently experienced satanic inspirations, on the basis of which they sometimes made prophecies. Curiously enough, some of their prophecies turned out to be true. Islamic literature is replete with such stories. Anyone, therefore, who
denies satanic inspiration, denies all the teachings of the Prophetsas as well as the very institution of Prophethood. It is recorded in the Bible that once four hundred prophets experienced a satanic inspiration and prophesied the victory of a king, having been fooled
by a lying spirit. But the king was killed in disgrace in the same battle, and his army suffered a great defeat. But there was one Prophet who had received a revelation through Gabriel, and had predicted beforehand that the king would be killed, dogs would eat his corpse and it would be a great defeat. This prophecy came to pass, but the prediction of four hundred prophets turned out to be wrong.
Now, when satanic inspirations are so frequent, one will naturally doubt the credibility of all revelations. No revelation would seem to be reliable in view of the possibility that it might be of satanic origin. More so, when the same thing happened to a great Prophet like Jesusas. This seriously undermines the credibility of the recipients of revelation. Is revelation then a kind of ordeal? The answer to this question is that this is no occasion to lose heart, for it is the Divine Law that in this world everything valuable and precious is accompanied by adulterations. Look! there are pearls that are recovered from rivers and then there are cheap pearls which people
make artificially and sell. Now the trade of genuine pearls cannot be stopped just because there are imitation pearls also, for the jewellers whom God Almighty has endowed with insight, recognize at a single glance the genuine pearl from the fake one. Hence, the jeweller of the pearls of revelation is the Imam of the age. By keeping his company, a person can readily distinguish between the real and the artificial. O mystics! O victims of this alchemy! tread this path with care and remember that true revelation, which is purely from God Almighty, is accompanied by the following signs: 1. It is experienced in a state when the fire of anguish
melts a man’s heart and it flows towards God Almighty like limpid water. “””””
What bible verses was MGA referring to?
Why was MGA accusing prophets of having satanic inspirations and lying?
MGA was trying to make a parallel, in Judaism, prophets were so many that thousands were living at one time, and included prophets of false gods like Baal. Think of the like ‘sadhu’ people. Most of them were sycophants to the king and were like fortune-tellers. Hence the saying that ‘ulama of my ummah will be like prophets of Israel. MGA was calling himself as a similar prophet. However, in 1898, MGA hadn’t claimed prophethood as of yet, that was 3 years later.
Tafsir ibn Kathir on 53:19-26
Tafsir Ibn Kathir rejects the story of the satanic inspirations, and that these verses were later on changed.
Muhammad Ali in 1917
As we all know, this famous english commentary of the Quran was published by the Lahori-Ahmadi’s. Muhammad Ali totally rejected the work from Tabari and Wakidi on this topic, thus he avoided the entire controversy, this seems to be the first Ahmadi response on this topic ever.
Links and related Essays
Click to access TheNeedForTheImam.pdf
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