The hadith which the non Ahmadi Muslims quite often quote is:
حَدَّثَنَا سَلَمَةُ بْنُ شَبِيبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْمُقْرِئُ، عَنْ حَيْوَةَ بْنِ شُرَيْحٍ، عَنْ بَكْرِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ مِشْرَحِ بْنِ هَاعَانَ، عَنْ عُقْبَةَ بْنِ عَامِرٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ لَوْ كَانَ بَعْدِي نَبِيٌّ لَكَانَ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ ” . قَالَ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ لاَ نَعْرِفُهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ حَدِيثِ مِشْرَحِ بْنِ هَاعَانَ .
Narrated ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir:that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “If there was to have a Prophet after me, it would have been ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab.” (Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, Volume 1, Book 46, Hadith #3686)
Firstly, the non Ahmadis quote this without realizing that they await a prophet who would come in the end times, and that Prophet is not Umar Bin Khattabra, rather the latter day messiah, who we believe and prove to be no other than Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. Now before we give the true interpretation of this hadith, it is important to discuss its authenticity. Firstly the hadith itself, has a problem in its transmission and has a gap between the narrators. There is a huge gap before the narrator Salmah Bin Shyb. Secondly, Imam Tirmidhi himself has recorded under this hadith:
“This hadith is Hassasn Ghareeb and it has not been related except by Mishrah bin Ha’an” (Tirmidhi, Kitabul-Manaqib)
Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) defines Hassan Gharib in the following words:
فَالتِّرْمِذِيُّ إذَا قَالَ: حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ قَدْ يَعْنِي بِهِ أَنَّهُ غَرِيبٌ مِنْ ذَلِكَ الطَّرِيقِ؛ وَلَكِنَّ الْمَتْنَ لَهُ شَوَاهِدُ صَارَ بِهَا مِنْ جُمْلَةِ الْحُسْنِ
When at-Tirmidhi says “hasan ghareeb”, it may be that it is ghareeb in this isnaad, but the matn (text) has corroborating evidence by virtue of which it classed as hasan. (Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, Volume 18, Page 24)
It is also stated in Mishkat:
عُقْبَةَ بْنِ عَامِرٍ قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «لوكان بَعْدِي نَبِيٌّ [ص:1705] لَكَانَ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ» . رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ. وَقَالَ: هَذَا حَدِيثٌ غَرِيبٌ
The writer of Mishkat, Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah Khatib al Tabrizi has written that the hadith is Ghareeb according to Imam Tirmidhi.
“Imam Tirmidhi has recorded this Hadith and he has said that “this hadith is unreliable”
Now if the great Imam of Ahadith, who recorded the hadith himself has called it questionable based on the sanad, then it holds no authority on us. There are more problems which arise in this hadith as well. For example the character of Mishrah who is one of the narrators.
Here are some statements in regrds to Mishrah:
“Ibni Habban has declared Mishrah Bin Ha’an as being unreliable and that his narrations are not deemed as being trustworthy. And the truth is that wherever he is the sole-narrator of a hadith, such a hadith should be abondoned. Ibni Dawood states that this narrator was a part of that army which laid siege upon Hazrat Abdullah Bin Zubair and threw rocks upon the Ka’bah with catapaults” (Tahzibut-Tahzib, Volume 10 page 155, Mizanul-I’itidal, Volume 2, Page 477, Volume 3 page 172)
Imam Shaukani stated: “In the chain of narrators, there are two who are worthy of being abonded, and they are “Abdullah bin Waqidi and Mishrah bin Ha’an” (Al-Fawa’idul-Majmua’ati fil- Hadithil-Maudu’ah, Muhammadi Press Lahore page 113)
In the book Jami’us Saghir, Hazrat Imam Suyuti has also stated that this hadith is not acceptable and is indeed weak (Jami’us Saghir Babul-Lam Volume 2, Page 131)
Another narration some non Ahmadi Muslims quote is “Had I not been raised as a prophet, verily you would have been in my stead O Umar” (Mirqat Sharh Mishkat, Volume 5, Page 539)
This itself makes it clear that Umarra had the qualities of Prophethood and that he would be a prophet if Muhammadsaw was not appointed, which shows it was a hypothetical statement.
Anyhow, as Ahmadi Muslims we have no issue with accepting such narrations with their true understanding. Now sadly the non Ahmadis know only this hadith and are not told the rest of the story by their scholars. Now lets say for example, we even accept this hadith, it would not have the meaning the non Ahmai Muslims give it. Why do the non Ahmadi Muslims quote where the Prophet Muhammadsaw might have stated this statement, but at the same time ignore the countless prophecies of Muhammadsaw that in the end times to support by religion of Islam, a prophet would be raised?
Umar Bin Khattabra was not going to live till the end times, and Muhammadsawprophesied of a prophet not immediately after his death, rather in the end times.The meaning of this hadith therefore means if there was a prophet immediately after my death, Allah would choose Umar Bin Khattabra. This only shows that he had the qualities of a prophet and if a prophet had to come immediately after, it would have been Umarrh. This does not negate the fact that the Holy Prophetsaw clearly gave us the glad tidings of a latter day Messiah who would be a prophet, in countless of ahadith.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh has beautifully explained this narration. He states:
” There is another Hadith that the Ulema use in their support and that needs our attention. The Hadith is as follows: “Bakr Bin Amr, Mishrah Bin ia’an and Uqbah Bin Aamir (may Allah be pleased with them) reports: ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘If there was to be a prophet after me, it would certainly have been Umar Bin Al Khattab.’ This Hadith falls in the category of the weak ones. We do not find it save through Mishrah Bin Ha’an.” (Tirmizi Abwab Almanaqib Bab Manaqib-i-Umar).
Generally the first portion of the Hadith is discussed. The last portion is conveniently overlooked. According to this Hadith, our opponents argue since Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) lived after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and did not become a prophet, therefore, prophethood has ended.
It is to be noted that after recording this Hadith, lman Tirmizi observes it falls in the category of ‘Hassanun Gharibun’ – authenticity of this Hadith is questionable. It is handed down by one narrator Mishrah Bin Ha’an about whom it is recorded in Altahzeed Altahzeeb vol. I0 pg. 155: “lbn-i-Hayyan says: He (Mishrah Bin Ha’an) was among the weak narrators of Hadith. He is not to be relied upon, particularly, when he is found to be the lone narrator of a Hadith. In that cast the Hadith should be rejected.”
Ibn-i-Daud (a famous compiler of Ahadith) agreeing with the above view further states “He was in the gang of Al Hajjaaj who had besieged Ibn Al Zubair and had raided the Ka’aba and pelted it with stones.” In view of the above, the authenticity of this Hadith is highly questionable. There are however sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) which may help clarify this topic.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is reported to have said to Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) “Had I not been raised as a prophet, 0 Umar, you would have been raised as one.” (Mirqat Sharh-E-Mishkat vol. 5, pg. 539). Another saying reads: “Had I not been sent to you, Umar would have been sent to you.“ (Kunuz Al Haqaiq pg. 103).
All these traditions point to one fact. That is Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was endowed with the potentials of a prophet. Had the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) not been born and commissioned Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would have been. This is the meaning of these sayings. Nothing more and nothing less.” (True meaning of Khatme Nabuwat, Pages 25-26)