The .... Objection levelled against us is that, contrary to the accepted Muslim belief, we hold that a follower of the Holy Prophet has appeared amongst us as the Promised Messiah. To hold this belief, we are told, is contrary to the Traditions of the Holy Prophet, as according to these Traditions, the Messiah is Jesus, son of Mary, due to return from Heaven in his own good time.
Now, it is quite true that we regard the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. (Gurdaspur, Punjab, India), as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. And why not? The Holy Quran, the Traditions, and ordinary common sense, declare that the first Messiah died in the normal way; so our belief that the Promised Messiah was to be raised from among the followers of the Holy Prophet cannot be against the Holy Quran and the Traditions. The Holy Quran declares that Jesus is dead. The Traditions say the same thing. If yet, the Traditions promise the advent of a Messenger described, as the son of Mary, this promised one can only be a follower of the Holy Prophet, not the Messiah of Nazareth who died in the normal way.
The fact, therefore, is that we deny the physical re-advent of the first Messiah, because God, according to us, is All-Powerful and can raise any one to the status of a guide and prophet, at any time, and from among any people. They are in error who think that God cannot do this, that instead of raising one from amongst us, He has to bring back to life a dead prophet. True, they have not measured the Power of Allah as Allah deserves.
The re-advent of the first Messiah, therefore, is derogatory to the Power and Wisdom of God. It is also disparaging to the spiritual power of the Holy Prophet. To say that the re-advent of the first Messiah is inevitable is to say something very queer. At all times in the past whenever a people went astray and needed divine guidance, it was one from amongst themselves whom God raised for the purpose. Was this time-honoured divine practice to be dropped when followers of the Holy Prophet go astray and need divine guidance? Was the Umma to be reformed by one of the earlier prophets, the Prophet's own followers failing to provide a reformer from among themselves? It means, Muslims have to follow Jews and Christians whoever cavil at the spiritual competence of our Holy Prophet. It is strange, Muslims should distrust the regenerative power of the Holy Prophet. If we think that a follower of the Holy Prophet cannot guide the other followers - the Umma - in time of need, we support those who underrate the spiritual influence of the Holy Prophet. One lighted torch can light many other torches. It is a dead torch which will not do this. If followers of the Holy Prophet were to become so very corrupt that no one from amongst them would then be able to reform the rest, it must be admitted that at that time the spiritual grace and productiveness of the Holy Prophet's teaching and example will have come to an end. The consequence cannot be accepted by any true Muslim. Every true Muslim knows that the followers of Moses needed to be rejuvenated from time to time, and the rejuvenation was brought about by teachers raised amongst themselves. It was a follower of Moses who reformed the followers of Moses. The dispensation of Moses lasted for as long as God wanted. At last when time came for the dispensation to end, God turned away from Moses' followers and turned to the progeny of Ishmael to raise a prophet for the guidance of mankind. If now, a prophet belonging to the dispensation of Moses should come to guide the followers of the Holy Prophet, it would mean that God has decided, (God forbid), to terminate the dispensation of the Holy Prophet as He terminated the dispensation of Moses, and that in place of this He is going to initiate a new dispensation. It would mean that, (God forbid again), the spiritual power of the Holy Prophet is effective no more, that it fails to inspire even a single follower to receive from the Holy Prophet's teaching and example, the illumination necessary for the reformation and guidance of his followers.
Woe to people, they show intolerance of the slightest offence to conceptions of their own greatness; they cannot accept the imputation of any defect or shortcoming to themselves. But they hesitate not to attribute defects and weaknesses to the Holy Prophet, yet claim to be the lovers of the Holy Prophet. What use is the love which is loud in profession but finds no echo in the heart? What use are professions un-supported by proper performance? If Muslims did really love the Holy Prophet, they would not tolerate the re-coming of an Israelite prophet for the rejuvenation of the followers of the Holy Prophet. Who would turn to a neighbour for needs which he can meet out of his own house? Who would turn to another for help when he can help himself? Mullahs, who think and teach that the Holy Prophet's followers would need the re-advent of the Messiah of Nazareth at the time of sorest need, have such excessive conceptions of their own dignity that in religious debates they would rather lose in argument than accept help from any other. If there is an offer of help they do not feel grateful; they are hurt and say, `Are they so lacking in learning that others dare offer them help?' But when it comes to the Holy Prophet, how casual are they! They are quick to believe and teach that when the Prophet's followers need to reform, the reformation will come not from amongst the followers, not from the Prophet's own spiritual influence, but from the good offices of a prophet from an earlier dispensation, owing nothing to the Holy Prophet or his teachings. Have men become so utterly dead or dull? Have they lost all capacity to think or feel? They value dignity and self-respect for themselves, but not for God and the Prophet? Anger and annoyance may be shown to personal enemies, but not to those who offend God and His Prophet?
We are asked why we deny the re-coming of an Israelite prophet. But what can we do? We cannot change our hearts. We cannot show our love for the Holy Prophet except in ways which are normal and natural. The honour of the Holy Prophet is dearest to us. We cannot brook the thought that, for the reformation of his followers, the Holy Prophet should need the help of another and become indebted to him. We cannot contemplate for a minute that when on the Day of Judgement, mankind, from the first-born to the last, will assemble before God, and the deeds and achievements of all will be cited, the Holy Prophet will stand burdened by the debt he would owe to the Israelite Messiah, the angels making the citation will declare in the hearing and presence of all human-kind that when the Holy Prophet's follower became corrupt, the Prophet's own spiritual example failed to restore them to spiritual strength, the Israelite Messiah, out of compassion for the Holy Prophet, decided to return to the world to reform the Prophet's followers and rid them of spiritual stagnation! We cannot contemplate such a thought. We would rather have our tongues scourged than attribute such a humiliating proposition to the Holy Prophet. We would rather have our hands perish than commit to writing such a thing about the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet is God's beloved. His spiritual power can never lapse. He is the Seal of the Prophets. His spiritual grace and munificence can never end. He has no need to be indebted to any one else. It is other prophets who are indebted to him. There is not a prophet whose truth Holy Prophet has not proclaimed to his deniers. It is the Holy Prophet whose teaching has converted millions of human beings to a belief in prophets they had not heard of before. There are about 80 million Muslims in India. (Note: The book was first published in Urdu in 1926). A few among them have come from outside. The others belonged to this very land and they had not heard of any prophet. But since they came to believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad, they began to believe in the Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others (on all of them be peace). If they had not become Muslims, they would have continued to disown these prophets, even to remain hostile to them. They would have continued to regard them as pretenders as indeed Hindus in India continue to do so to this day. The same is true of Afghanistan, China, and Iran. The inhabitants of these countries did not know, so they did not acknowledge, Moses or Jesus as prophets. The Holy Prophet's message and teaching spread to these countries, and the people of these countries came to believe in the Holy Prophet and whatever he taught. They began to own other prophets and revere them as true prophets. They Holy Prophet, therefore, has laid all earlier prophets, under debt. Their truth was unknown. The Holy Prophet revealed it. The Holy Prophet is under nobody's debt. The grace and beneficence of his teachings must continue for ever. For the reform and resuscitation of his own followers he does not need the assistance of another prophet. Whenever such a need arises, God will raise one of his own followers to lead and guide the other followers. Such a one will owe everything to the Holy Prophet. He will have learnt everything from him. Whatever he is able to do, by way of reform and reconstruction, will be credited to the Holy Prophet. What one owes to any one teacher, one really owes to the teacher's teacher. A follower cannot be separated from his founder, even as a pupil cannot be separated from his teacher. The follower, who leads other followers will be under debt to the Holy Prophet.
In short, the coming of a former prophet for the purpose of reforming the followers of the Holy Prophet is an insult to the Holy Prophet. Such an event would injure the greatness of the Holy Prophet. It would also contradict the teaching of the Holy Quran which says:
"God never withdraws the reward from a people except when the people themselves become undeserving of it." (Al-Ra'd: 12)
In the face of this teaching of the Quran, we have to admit either that the Holy Prophet, (God forbid), has become undeserving of God's promise, or that God Himself has gone back on that promise. With all others, God's practice has been to withdraw a reward once made; but with the Holy Prophet, His way is different! To entertain such a thought amounts to unbelief. It amounts to the denial of God. It amounts either to a denial of God or a denial of His Prophet. Because of this grave consequence we shun such beliefs. We believe that the Messiah, whose coming was foretold by the Holy Prophet, is to raise from amongst the Holy Prophet's followers. It is for God to award this status to whomsoever He likes.
(Dawat-ul-Amir, English translation: Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, First Edition, pg. 23-28, By Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad, KhalifatulMasih II)