Much ado about nothing

- by Gulzar Anwar -

It all started when, one fine morning, I saw an open letter of April 11, 2000 from one Mr. S. Ahmad of Lahore, appearing on, advising certain corrective steps to Gen. Musharraf for the later’s own benefit and for the benefit of the country in general. This letter, however, carried a veritable threat that unless the General was going to see the way pointed out to him by Mr. Ahmad, his end was not going to be much different to those who preceded him and who, during their time, tried to take chances with the Qadiani community. In reply, I wrote to Mr. S. Ahmad on May 27, 2000 reminding him that opposing Qadianis had nothing to do with the people’s tryst with their political destiny. Among other things discussed by me, I also pointed out:

"I am a strong believer in the second coming of Christ and whenever he comes, it will only be the original Jesus son of Mary and not any false messiah who has grown big out of his own misgivings. Yes, either the Jesus has to make a physical return to this earth himself to restore order to this troubled world, and reinstate the dignity of man, or there has to be no messiah at all."
To this Mr. S. Ahmad shot back in his letter of June 14, 2000, reminding me of some facts about the return of Jesus. He particularly emphasised on, and informed me about, an upcoming TV documentary “In search of Jesus” by Peter Jennings set for a worldwide broadcast on June 19, 2000 who, according to Mr. Ahmad, had visited Srinagar the ultimate resting place of Jesus in keeping with the exegesis of Mirza Sahib. That some stunning revelations were expected which would jolt the world of orthodoxy and advised me not to rush and, instead, wait for the outcome of the broadcast as I had confessed to him earlier that I was a great believer in the physical return of Jesus to his earthly abode before everything was wrapped up here for the hereafter to begin. He wrote:
"I may add here for your information a top USA TV network …….. is showing a 2 hour documentary on June 17, 2000 named as “In search of Jesus” This is produced by a top journalist Mr. Peter Jennings, and he visited Srinager, (Kashmir, India). I am sorry if your wish to see Jesus Christ back may not be fulfilled, because the answer of today’s problem is in the Islam presented by Mirza Sahib- a noble face -rid off of violence and terrorism-not Jesus Christ."
I was pretty well surprised to see how much the Qadiani Jamaat was banking on Christians to do the job for them in burying the person in a foreign land whose second coming was the cornerstone of their own faith. In other words these Christians were doing all the hard work, and spending all the money, to prove the followers of new messiah right, while fully realising that burying Jesus in India will mean the end of Christianity itself and they will soon become shorn of someone who had atoned for their sins at a great personal cost. In reply, I told Mr. Ahmad through my letter of June 17, 2000:
"The upside is that if the findings of Mr. Jennings are anywhere close to your official opinion, it will give plenty of boost to your missionary efforts. You already have your show on the road. The downside is that if it goes against you, will u accept it? I bet, not! You will have well founded reasons to reject it. Am I correct? So, why to stake everything on the outcome of Peter Jennings’ findings?
There was so much commotion that, honestly, I was amazed to hear all about the upcoming documentary and became curious to know the details. In the meantime, my Qadiani friends looked very excited and soon they were busy warning the people to get ready for the surprise of their life. They were smarting and it looked as though the world was soon going to be taken by the gathering storm and everything was hanging on the thread of Peter Jennings’ documentary. A forewarning on read:
"…… he (Peter Jennings) travelled to all known places where Jesus Christ had been ……….. he had travelled to Kashmir, specially, Srinagar …………This is specially interesting in view of the claim made by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Promised Messiah that he had been divinely informed that the tomb of Jesus Christ was in Khanyar Street ……. Srinagar, in India."
I wonder if they knew that they were being fooled into this but, on their part, they were expecting intriguing results and loud claims were made that once the documentary was aired all the realities and myths about the life and person of Jesus will stand separately and conspicuously exposed for people to see for themselves what exactly was the status of Jesus vis-a-vis the scriptures, history and ground realities. What happened in the end? Their whole idea was dismissed in no uncertain terms as Peter Jennings did not feel the necessity of even vaguely alluding to the possible burial of Jesus in Kashmir. I, however, was so much intrigued that I started making inquest with friends if there was anyway I could have a first hand knowledge of the documentary through the availability of its transcript. I was pretty sure that even though the documentary did provide some clue to burial of Jesus in Kashmir, it will be hotly contested and will only add to the controversy already raging for centuries. The dogmas don’t change easy. A documentary is not enough. Tomorrow another person will rise and, in the name of research, will make another documentary disproving everything said and shown earlier. Actually, when you resolve one controversy, you open the door to a whole lot of controversies which do not help people understand and see the things clearly. Then suddenly came the discomforting announcement that, for some reasons, the date of the broadcast of the documentary was advanced and that it will now be aired on the 26th of June, 2000. It was about this time that my Qadiani friends began looking nervous and edgy. To salvage their own position, and keep the spirits of their followers high, they began to slowly create doubts in the minds of people that the deferment of documentary broadcast was directly as a result of papal intervention and that the Holly See won’t like the facts about the current status of Jesus in Christianity to be altered by the Christians themselves. They started grouching and pointing out that the post crucifixion life of Jesus will, probably, be clipped and not shown to avoid any embarrassment to Vatican. n my opinion, they were only trying to cover up their own mistake of making tall claims, before time, about the outcome of the documentary in the run up to the broadcast. I think they began seeing dampers being placed on their hopes. Finally, the moment of truth arrived and the documentary went on air. To their chagrin nothing came out of it and, as expected, it dealt with only the life of Christ before crucifixion and totally excluded his life after crucifixion because that was none of their business as Christians. Accordingly, on one Rahgeer was seen bellyaching:
"The ABC TV documentary ‘The Search of Jesus’ was a great disappointment even compared to what producer called as “very disturbing’. The documentary ……… was aired on 26th June at 9:00 p.m. but it was edited in a way that there was nothing about the second part of the life of Jesus …….. Seems like Vatican was informed by loyal friends about the movie and ABC was forced to face a tremendous amount of pressure from the Vatican ……. This was a great dishonesty …….
It was, however, not only a great catharsis of the emotive feelings running high before the event but when the event came, finally, and nothing came out of it, there was a total emotional collapse. Everything was back to square one and they were trying to avoid having to explain the earlier stance taken by them on the outcome of this documentary. Naturally, they had to accuse someone for this and decided to place the entire blame on the doorsteps of Vatican. All the notices, publicising the documentary to come, were withdrawn from the website at once and replaced by those shellacking Vatican for the mess-up. Nothing could have been more convenient than this. However, in between, I happened to reach “Tomb Master” just for curiosity and then traversing back to again, I read a note left there by a staff member of the Tomb Master in response to Rahgeer. I quote:
"I would like to remind my Ahmadi Muslim brethren that on June 16, the Tomb Master clearly warned people not to get excited about the airing of the documentary ‘The Search for Jesus’ and he further predicted in clear terms that Mr. Peter Jennings would not utter a single word about Jesus in India either before or after crucifixion.
This caught them on the wrong foot. Nevertheless, it was a sincere piece of advice from one of their confreres and, I think, it proved enough to send them scurrying and dampen their spirits seeing all their hopes getting dumped along the road. Why was then there so much furore about the apocalypse via the documentary and that the entire world would come hurtling down to join them and the Qadiani community will swell.? Now let us see what Peter Jennings himself had said about the documentary well before its broadcast:
"I know there are people who think that Jesus spent time in India, for example. I did not look for that particularly."
Mr. Peter Jennings did well to dismiss the unfounded rumours in a terse statement. Note, I have taken all these references courtesy the Tomb Master, as I have no direct access to anything Peter Jennings had said on Larry King Live or even the transcript of the documentary itself is not available to me. If what Tomb Master is saying is correct then the people were expecting some devastating information on Jesus in India by themselves and not because Peter Jennings had promised anything so revealing that it will turn the world topsy turvy or better still the Qadianis had played up the whole issue themselves and blown it up to the extent that the people were misled to expect the shock of their life. According to CNN none of the two broadcasts of Peter Jennings’ interview on CNN ever reflected anything in regard to Jesus in India. The transcripts available with CNN clearly point out that Peter Jennings had made no mention about the life of Jesus in India after the crucifixion.

I have a question here for my Qadiani friends. Why anyone should do this documentary for them and prove Jesus buried in Kashmir? Why not dismiss the whole idea of this burial theory as mere trash. The whole concept of the internment of Jesus in Kashmir is based on the claim of a revelation of Mirza Sahib which is purely subjective and if you insist on this the people will accuse you for blinding them with metaphysics. Why the Qadiani community can’t do the research for themselves when the route Jesus took from Palestine to Kashmir has been carefully sketched out by Mirza Sahib himself as shown to him in a vision? Remember, a vision is no half-baked story. So, if you rely on it, and follow it to the letter, there should be no difficulty. Why to trust people who, by nature, are drawn in the opposite camp? The Qadianis should take it upon themselves and show the world the facts about the end of Jesus in India in order to put a lid on this controversy once and for all, although I personally believe that if one controversy ends, another comes up in its place, at least, to keep the people busy. Why not heed the advice of Tomb Master?:
"Today’s American news media, unfortunately, is not prepared to produce a quality and accurate documentary on this issue ……… Public television might do an excellent job producing such a documentary."
So, you have to do it yourself. But it will require substantial funds and where they will come from? In addition, they will need experts and equipment and that they will have to pass through the hostile people along the way which, in itself, will add much to their problems. I trust they can do it and I will show them the way. Just drop the idea of buying ABC Network for the time being and funnel the money towards producing the documentary on the burial of Jesus in India. When the world accepts and rejoices over your disturbing discovery, the Kingdom of Promised Messiah will stand established and the people will swarm to your sable(?) standard. You will then need not buy anything. Everything will come to you, by itself, and will be yours under the divine will.

Now, regarding the much publicised pressure of Vatican to botch the efforts of ABC to show the broadcast leading to Jesus ending up in India after narrowly escaping crucifixion and Peter Jennings vowing to fight back, the Tom Master says:
"…….. that powerful institutions of any kind will fight for their own interests. But since such rumours can never be confirmed they have to be ignored."
Pray, tell me where has all that propaganda gone now telling people to be ready for the startling revelation once the documentary got on air? Has it evaporated into the thin air, or we should still wait for a better news? Remember, as I have already said, controversies never die. One controversy begets another. Even if you succeed burying Jesus in India for ever, you think this will end the polemics? No way, this will kick off a new issue that suppose Jesus did die in Kashmir, what was the necessity of his replica to come after 2000 years (circa)? What purpose was it going to serve? Why not a brand new prophet with a brand new message for a brand new world of the 19th century? The way my Qadiani friends present the things, it appears that God, in fact, enjoys confusion among His people. For plus or minus 2000 years everything was uncertain and no one could make up his mind for sure about the position of Jesus in this world. Everybody saw him going on the Cross and the controversy started only after he was taken off the Cross. His resurrection, disappearance or ascension all became controversial and to this moment remain a riddle to solve.

The problem is not whether Christ travelled to Kashmir or not, the real problem is that unless you bury Jesus finally in Kashmir and say good bye to him for ever, the ministry of the Promised Messiah from India will stand in doubt and rejected and will continue playing on the sensitivities of the people both belonging to Christianity and Islam. According to Mirza Sahib (translation is mine):
"Remember that the demise of Jesus is the decisive criterion of the veracity and untruth of ours and that of our opponents. If, in fact, Jesus is alive then our claims are false and our arguments untenable and if, in fact, Jesus has died according to Quran then our opponents are wrong. Now, Quran is between us. Think over it." (Tohfa-e-Golarvia)
This is what prompts them to bury Jesus in India and it is also because of this that they would like us to take it for granted that Jesus masqueraded(?) and fled from Jerusalem all the way down to India via Mosul, Tehran, Heart, Kabul and Peshawar and finally ended up in Srinagar as shown to Mirza Sahib through the divine inspiration. This will make their job half done. In my opinion, Punjab was a lot better place to live and even if you say that it was because the lost tribes of Israel had gone there (in Kashmir) after they were set free by their captors back home, I will insist that none of the raiders, invaders or travellers ever went to India via Kashmir. They all entered via Punjab because of not only being an easy passage but also because it offered plenty by way of eating, etc. Alexander, Babur and Sher Shah Suri all used my hometown to cross the river Jhelum and those of their men who decided to stay back opted Punjab for their new home. Another thing which comes to mind is that during his entire stay in Kashmir he never once tried to contact his people back home. Very strange indeed! This means he was not on a divine mission, was instead a fugitive and was afraid of his own people that they will never accept him again if he ever revealed his identity to them. I think had he revealed himself, the sympathies of the people could have resurfaced and they would have come scampering to him defeating the vicious designs of his enemies from the Jewish religious groups. But he is seen nowhere doing this which only means that he was actually raised unto heavens by some designs of the Providence otherwise those who hold an office of a divine ministry and/or are on a special divine mission do not run away and hide themselves from their people or their enemies. They have to chase, face and hunt down the evil and restore piety as also the dignity of the people. In short, they are entrusted with a mission by the God Himself, and what they do is only a command performance as the real instructions come from God, so why should they be afraid of anyone or anything? I, for one, will fail to reconcile to this idea of Jesus fleeing Palestine and finding refuge in India among his “then lost and now found people” who had, long ago, escaped the drudgeries of bonded labour back home.

Now, another thing said about Jesus is that what he taught to people in India was assimilated by Buddhists who incorporated his teachings in their religious books. For example, I have all along heard and read that Buddha claimed that he was Alpha and Omega of the world. Similar claim is said to have been made by Jesus. Who copied whom? To say that Buddhists borrowed this from Jesus is a cruel joke and does not stand to reason. That Christianity had, at some point in time, borrowed this from Buddhism looks the more likely. The scholars, in general, have stuck to the later version. To say otherwise is only a ploy to strengthen the Qadiani claim of Jesus finally passing on into the heavens in India. In other words it is like putting a cart before a horse. I understand that when Jesus left his homeland he was 33(?) years old and when he died he was 120 years. What about those 87 years? Why he did not establish contacts back home and informed his disciples about his presence in Kashmir at least is not comprehensible to me and far be it from a person like Jesus whose first priority was to guide and emancipate his people?. He could have mustered support from his people or at least inspired his own people to rise and make way for his return home and once again they could have spread the olive branches and their shirts for his triumphant return with the shouts of “hosanna” and “here comes the saviour”, at least, expiating for their earlier mistake of deserting and betraying him before the Romans. If travelling could be done from this end to that, the return journey could have been planned and undertaken equally well also or he could have at least sent an emissary or a missive to his sympathisers priming them, at least, secretly about his presence in Kashmir but we do not see anything to have been done to this effect. It all looks like he was a tired man at 33 and wanted to be away from the cunning and craft of the clergy at home with whom he had had not a very good experience. Moreover, his people being fickle and inconstance, failed to muster the support at the crucial moment and his own disciples betrayed him at a time when he needed them the most. He just gave up his ministry and mission in order for Paul to come later and carry on the good work and Jesus decided for himself to enjoy peace and prosperity among his newly found people in India and languish there for another 87 years, allowing thereby Paul to become the founder of Christianity without ever establishing contact with Jesus. As a messiah, he was supposed to have established a hot line with God, through the Holy Ghost, and how could he abandon his ministry unless commanded by God Himself and leave his people in the lurch. It does not make any sense to me. May be there was another reason for staying away from the blessed land in that Jesus was totally resigned to getting buried in Srinagar of his own free will in order to leave the field open to a later time messiah to come after nearly 2 millenniums from a soil where there was already a pantheon of gods existing and whose land was fertile enough for the 19th century ministry to flourish. The anxiety of my Qadianis friends is quite understandable in that unless Jesus is buried their ministry fails to have any justification. I think, they forgot to marry Jesus in Kashmir with plenty of offspring. It could have made their task rather more easy. All in all, they still have not arrived at a suitable mechanism to succeed in their quest to make it acceptable to the Muslims at large, hence they placed too much reliance on Peter Jennings to do the job for them but he refused to oblige. Why should he? He is after all a Christian whose very source of salvation is being rigged. Now what next? They have also tried to get the ghost out of Jesus through the holy book but no luck. They have tried through poetry and prose but have failed to impress the large majority. Just for the sake of interest, I translate below some Urdu verses on the demise of Jesus (probably these verses were composed by Mirza Sahib himself but I am not sure):
"By God, son of Mary died. The respected soul entered the paradise. On every step, God points to and gives the news of his demise. He (Jesus) is not outside the company of those who have died, thirty (30) verses adduce to this."
Now, they prove the demise of Jesus through these 30 verses but do not cite a single verse from the Holy Quran in favour of the arrival of their own ministry.

I do not mean to demean their efforts and hard work as they are, no doubt, well organised and being a small community, and in constant danger of being harassed and undone, they are dedicated to each other. Their otherwise a strong looking chain is no stronger than its weakest link and their weakest link is their ministry which has no strong basis to support it. Whether we believe Jesus is alive or dead in both cases, it will never qualify their Promised Messiah to succeed the Son of Marry.

Their strongest argument is that Mirza Sahib preached non-violence and brought the violent Jehad to an end. Unfortunately, as history proves, it was done in the wake of the traumatic events of 1857, which shook the throne, in order to make sure that they do not raise their ugly head ever again. Once bitten twice shy! What did Jesus do? He was a non-violent person too, yet he worked to emancipate his people from the yoke of foreign rule. His efforts were undone by the vested interests especially the clergy.

In recent history, Gandhi preached pacifism and fought the foreign rule with non-violent methods all the way from South Africa down to India and succeeded. Pray, tell me how did Mirza Sahib utilize the armoury of his non-violence or any other methods to emancipate his people from the imperialist bondage. Mirza Sahib was a great author and thinker. Obviously, he loved his people and his country. Jesus promised a new Jerusalem to his people. He made sincere efforts but he could not deliver in his life time because the vested interests stood in his way but his message revolutionised the world after him. Did the Promised Messiah, at the very least, even suggest some measures to boost the freedom struggle, let alone working for it? If any one can show any such instance, I shall be personally grateful and offer my allegiance.

The point to remember is that however caring and kind a foreign rule may be, there is no substitute for freedom because physical freedom saves you from intellectual and moral captivity if you just care to think independent of others. Did I deliver the point home? May be, not. So, let us talk in parables. Every tub must stand on its own bottom. If you provide it support to stand upon, it will lose its independence and is likely to fall the moment the foreign support goes. If the independence goes, the pride of a nation goes. The intellectuals of a nation are responsible to guide their people towards freedom. I would like to know the services of Mirza Sahib in this area. Another point: China did not have an Aligarh University and the socalled enlightened men we had, yet it has made astounding progress. It succeeded because it had the will to succeed and its leaders, coming from the working class, worked selflessly and relied on themselves alone instead of invoking foreign favours. They started from the bottom instead of beginning from the top. The common weal of the people was their prime concern and they went for it lock, stock and barrel. Do you see any beggars in China? Our every other person is seen “panhandling” about every other corner. We are at least 100 years behind as compared to them and always looking for their moral and material aid. Any one would like to elucidate on it?

Let us now have a look at “Jesus in India”, for a change, which is an English version of “Masih Hindustan Mein”. Mirza Sahib says:
"So, the doctrine of Jehad proposed by these sects of Islam, as well as the belief that the time is near when there will arise a bloody Mahdi ……….. Those who hold such beliefs live a life of hypocrisy in relation to others, so much so that they cannot give true loyalty to state authorities of another Faith; they dishonestly profess to give allegiance to them ……. That is why some of the Ahl-i-Hadith sects mentioned by me just now are living a double life under the British Government in British India. In secret, they hold out hopes to the common people of the coming of bloody days of a bloody Mahdi and a bloody Messiah, and instruct them accordingly, but when they go to the authorities they flatter them and assure them that they do not approve of such ideas."
I leave it to the readers to decide what services Mirza Sahib were rendering to the cause of freedom for the people of his motherland. Did not he belong to the soil of India? Was it not obligatory on him to work for its liberation? He was instead tipping off the British Government about the subversive elements in the ranks of Muslims of India who were secretly planning some move to overthrow the foreign rule. What did Mehdi Sudani do? He was not Mahdi yet he claimed himself to be one just to launch his struggle for the liberation of his people. It is always at such crucial moments that a man rises from amongst a nation to work for their independence and not exhort them to quietly submit to the will of foreign rule. The uprisings of 1857 were unfortunately called a mutiny by the vested interests. Is it a sin to take to arms to liberate a people? Where in the long human history do we see people not rising for independence at a great cost of human lives. What did Moses do? Did he ask his people to stay quiet and also say farewell to arms? Very often you have to cross a river of blood to get to the end in mind. Any one from among the ranks of a nation who sides with the foreign rulers is definitely called a turncoat. I translate a Persian verse for you:
"When one person acts injudiciously from amongst a nation. The high and low of this nation lose their self-respect."
The divine purpose of sending a messenger is to address the evils prevailing in a given human society which have gone beyond repair. Moses came when Israelis were in the Egyptian captivity and their life was miserable. He emancipated them to a position of honour. When Jesus came, his people were also in Roman captivity and he tried his best to liberate them and addressed other moral abuses prevalent in the society and among the clergy. When the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) came, the Meccan society was in the worst moral crisis with idolatory uncontrollable and even the House of God was not free from it. He underwent all possible hardships before he succeeded extirpating the idolatory and restoring human dignity. Now when Mirza Sahib appeared on the scene, his country and people were in captivity too. Instead of using divine help and guidance to push the foreign rule over the edge and free his people, he taught them instead to strengthen the hands of the benevolent Government and stay calm.

Can you call it a judicious and balanced act what Mirza Sahib was preaching to the people of his country? Another masterpiece from the same book wherein he castigates his fellow countrymen secretly planning to topple the Government:
"Some of the Ahl-i-Hadith impertinently and unjustly state in their books that the appearance of the Mahdi is imminent: that he will put into prison the British rulers of India and that the Christian king will be arrested and will be brought before him. Such books are still to be found in the houses of these Ahl-i-Hadith, one such being Iqtarab-us-Saat by a well known Ahl-i-Hadith, on page 64 of which such an account is to be found."
That settles it. Who was the Mirza Sahib trying to please? Any more proof needed about the truth of the Promised Messiah. He can be seen actually, indirectly, suggesting the Government, through a tell-tale, to make a house to house search for this treasonous material which may possibly lead to an uprising against the Raj. The one example of 1857 will be enough. The insurgents and those who sided with them were true freedom fighters and those who advocated peace and unconditional surrender to the Government were stable boys of the Raj, no matter who they were and whatever their personal status in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of the Government.

If, inspite of the above, my Qadiani friends still persist to prove the truthfulness of their Promised Messiah then I can only pray for them but for this they will have to do everything themselves and not rely on Christians to bury Jesus in India for them.

All said and done, although they did seize the opportunity of Peter Jennings’ TV documentary with both hands and tried to cash in on it by launching a propaganda campaign with considerable zeal, zest, gusto and enthusiasm to realise their own selfish ends, yet they were failed by the person they were most relying on and, instead of yielding any favourable results, in the end, it all proved a mere claptrap and eventuated to become just another case of much ado about nothing.


July 31, 2000

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