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1. I am the Christ
During the 1840s in the United States some who called themselves the students of the Scriptures, started earnestly to preach the return of Christ. There were some among them who designated 1844 as the year for his arrival. In the press the story made headlines. Excited reports spread through America, Europe and even parts of Asia. People were seriously warned to prepare for the sudden arrival of Christ.
The time of expectation passed and Christ did not appear. There was some bitter disappointment among these mathematicians. Some thought that they had miscalculated the time factor. Others concluded he would arrive in secret to take away the elect. The following years, many men and women claimed to be prophets and forerunners of Christ. A few went so far as to introduce themselves as the herald of the coming Christ.
Jesus said that many would come in his name, claiming, I am the Christ, and deceive many (Matthew 24:4-5). Indeed, the world has seen many false prophets and false Christs who have led many astray. However strange it may appear, some Muslims have also claimed to be the returning Christ. One such Muslim was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908). He addressed the West with these words:
Ye Christians of Europe and America, and ye seekers after truth! Know for certain that the Messiah who was to come has come and it is he who is speaking to you at this moment. 1
About 200 years ago, following new missionary initiatives, a new wave of conversions to Christianity took place. Not only did many Hindus turn to Christ, but also a minority of Muslims. Some of these converts were formerly zealous Muslim priests and scholars. These leaders joined the Christian missionaries in preaching Christ with total dedication.
Seeing this, the Muslim populace - and especially their leaders - became concerned that this new Christian movement might reduce Islam to a minority religion. Some made efforts to renew the zeal of Muslims and remove the British from India. Other conservative mullahs - priests - resolved to boycott Western institutions, especially in the field of secular education. This disastrous policy resulted in generally low standards of educational qualifications among Muslims. Men such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan realised the danger of this. They came up with the idea of establishing Muslim schools and colleges and alerted Indian Muslims to the mistake of avoiding contact with the Christian West.
Modernising movements gradually emerged. Seeing the missionary presentation of Jesus, a new emphasis was laid on the teaching of Islam. Within these movements some of these divines brought new ideas into the fold of Islam that were treated as schism by others. Among these teachers and self-proclaimed leaders was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who incorporated many Christian ideas into his Islamic framework. He gave the Quran, the Hadith (traditions) and the Injil (the Gospel) new interpretations to suit his claim to be the second Christ, fulfilling the predictions of the second coming mentioned in these books.
The second coming and Islam
Islam and Christianity share the belief that Jesus lived on this earth and was taken into heaven alive. One day that very same Jesus will return to this earth. However popular Muslim traditions assert that when he comes back, he will convert the world to Islam, destroy the Antichrist, marry, and have children. Later he will die and be buried in a grave next to Muhammad in Madina.3
One of the Muslim traditions states:
Abu Huraira reported Gods messenger as saying, By Him in Whose hand my soul is, the son of Mary will soon descend among you as a just judge. He will break crosses, kill swine and abolish the jizya (poll tax) and wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept it... 4
Jesus and his return as Judge is one of the major themes of the Bible. Nevertheless, there is no mention of him coming as an ordinary being, nor is there the least suggestion that he will marry, die, and be buried. The Scriptures indicate that when he comes, his people both living and the dead will be raised or changed and meet him in the air and the earth will be destroyed (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 - 17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 2 Peter 3:10).
On many occasions Jesus said that he came down from heaven and that he would come again (John 3:13; 8:23; 14:2-3,18-19; 16:28; Matthew 25:31-32; 26:64). This coming is to be different from the first time he came as a baby. His coming will be as the Mighty Judge and conquering King (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad however rejected both the Christian and Muslim doctrines about Jesus second coming in person. Instead, the mantle of Jesus was to fall on the second Messiah as an adult, who would be a Muslim.
Notes on Chapter 1: