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Ahmadiyya (/ɑːməˈdi(j)ə/;[1] Arabic: أحمدية‎; Urdu: احمدِیہ‎) is an Islamic religious movement[2][3] founded in British India near the end of the 19th century. It originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies of the world's reformer during the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about the final triumph of Islam as per Islamic prophecy. He claimed that he was the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by Muslims.[4][5][6] Adherents of the Ahmadiyya movement are referred to as Ahmadis or Ahmadi Muslims.

Ahmadi thought emphasizes the belief that Islam is the final dispensation for humanity as revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad and the necessity of restoring to it its true essence and pristine form, which had been lost through the centuries. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam.[7] The Ahmadis were among the earliest Muslim communities to arrive in Britain and other Western countries.[7]

Ahmadiyya adherents believe that God sent Ghulam Ahmad, in the likeness of Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. They believe that he divested Islam of fanatical beliefs and practices by championing what is in their view, Islam’s true and essential teachings as practised by Muhammad.[8] Ahmadi Muslims are divided into two branches; the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community led by a khalifa (Caliph), and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam.[9]

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad founded the movement on 23 March 1889 and termed it the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (community), envisioning it to be a revitalisation of Islam. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims and claim to practice Islam in its pristine form; however, some Ahmadiyya-specific beliefs have been thought of as opposed to contemporary mainstream Islamic thought since the movement's birth, and some Ahmadis have subsequently faced persecution.[10]


At the end of the 19th century, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian proclaimed himself to be the "Centennial Reformer of Islam" (Mujaddid), metaphorical second coming of Jesus and the Mahdi (guided one) awaited by the Muslims and obtained a considerable number of followers especially within the United Provinces, the Punjab and Sindh.[12] He and his followers claim that his advent was foretold by Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, and also by many other religious scriptures of the world. In 1889, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad laid down the foundation of his community, which was later given the name of the "Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at". Ahmadiyya emerged in India as a movement within Islam, also in response to the Christian and Arya Samaj missionary activity that was widespread in the 19th century.


Soon after the death of the first successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the movement split into two groups over the nature of Ghulam Ahmad's prophethood and his succession. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believed that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had indeed been a "non-law-bearing" subordinate prophet to Muhammad and that mainstream Muslims who categorically rejected his message rejected one who was foretold in Islamic prophecy. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, however, affirmed the contemporary mainstream Islamic interpretation that there could be no prophet after Muhammad (except the return of Jesus) and viewed itself as a reform movement closer to mainstream Islam.[13]

The question of succession was also an issue in the split of the Ahmadiyya movement. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believed that an Anjuman (body of selected people) should be in charge of the community. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, however, maintained that Caliphs (successors of Ghulam Ahmad) should continue to take charge of the community and should be left with the overall authority.[14]

The larger body of Ahmadi Muslims belonging in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community however contend that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself received a revelation by God concerning a future split in his Community and that it would be concerning his Promised Son:

God has conveyed to me that there would be a great split in my Movement as well, and mischief makers and those who are the slaves of their own desires will depart... It will be the time of my Promised Son (Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad). God has decreed these events in connection with him... Be sure to recognize the Promised Son.

Tadhkirah pg. 1066–1067

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has established centres in more than 200 countries and states that its membership is in the tens of millions[7] and also 10 million,[15] while the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement states it is established in 17 countries of the world.[16] Other sources (e.g. Human Rights Watch) estimates the worldwide population of Ahmadiyya to nearly 10 million.[17][18]

Overseas Ahmadiyya missionary activities started at an organised level as early as 1913 (the UK mission in Putney, London). For many modern nations of the world, the Ahmadiyya movement was their first contact with the proclaimants from the Muslim world.[19] The Ahmadiyya movement is considered by some historians[20] as one of the precursors to the African-American Civil Rights Movement in America. According to some experts,[21] Ahmadiyya were "arguably the most influential community in African-American Islam" until the 1950s.

The Ahmadiyya faith claims to represent the latter-day revival of the religion of Islam. Today, the Ahmadiyya community has a presence in more than 200 countries,[7][8][22] and in every country but Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, they are legally identified as Muslims. In Pakistan they are prohibited by law from self-identifying as Muslims, and are not allowed by Saudi law to make Hajj (a pilgrimage that is a basic tenet of faith by Muslims).[23]

Origin of the name[edit]

Mahmood Mosque, Zürich

The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in 1889, but the name Ahmadiyya was not adopted until about a decade later. In a manifesto dated 4 November 1900, Ghulam Ahmad explained that the name did not refer to himself but to Ahmad, the alternative name of the prophet Muhammad. According to him, "Muhammad", which means "the most praised one", refers to the glorious destiny, majesty and power of the prophet, who adopted the name from about the time of the Hegira; but "Ahmad", an Arabic elative form which means "highly praised" and also "comforter", stands for the beauty of his sermons, for the qualities of tenderness, gentleness, humility, love and mercy displayed by Muhammad, and for the peace that he was destined to establish in the world through his teachings. According to Ghulam Ahmad, these names thus refer to two aspects or phases of Islam, and in later times it was the latter aspect that commanded greater attention.[24] The myriad of distinguishing names adopted by various sects in Islam, he thus considered as innovations, for the Prophet of Islam had only these two names.[25]

Accordingly, in Ghulam Ahmad's view, this was the reason that the Old Testament prophesied a Messenger "like unto Moses", which referred to Mohammad, while according to the Qur'an, Jesus foretold a messenger named Ahmad.[Quran 61:6]

In keeping with this, he believed his object was to defend and propagate Islam globally through peaceful means, to revive the forgotten Islamic values of peace, forgiveness and sympathy for all mankind, and to establish peace in the world through the teachings of Islam. He believed that his message had special relevance for the Western world, which, he believed, had descended into materialism.[26]

Ghulam Ahmad also called it the Ahmadiyya madhab (school of thought within Islam):

اور جائز ہے کہ اِس کو احمدی مذہب کے مسلمان کے نام سے بھی پکاریں - And it is permissible that this [community] also be referred to as ‘Muslims of the Aḥmadī way (madhhab).

— Ruḥānī Khazāʾin, v.15, p.526, Tiryāqu'l-Qulūb pg. 1066–1067



Ahmadiyya shares beliefs with Islam in general and Sunni Islam in particular, including belief in the prophethood of Muhammad as the last law-bearing Prophet, reverence for historical prophets, and belief in the oneness of God (tawhid). Ahmadis accept the Qur'an as their holy text, face the Kaaba during prayer, accept the authority of Hadiths (reported sayings of and stories about Muhammad) and practice the Sunnah.[27] These are the central beliefs constituting Ahmadi thought.

Also important to the Ahmadiyya is the belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. Ahmadis emphasise the implementation of the Kalima (the fundamental creed of Islam) as essentially linked with the Islamic principles of the rights of God (Arabic: Haqooq-Allah) and the rights of His creation (mankind) (Arabic: Haqooqul-Ibād).[28]

Ahmadis believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was divinely commissioned as a true reflection of Muhammad's prophethood to establish the unity of God and to remind mankind of their duties towards God and God's creation. Ahmadis emphasise both aspects of religion, which Ahmadis believe is the need of the present age. As such Ahmadis hold that Ghulam Ahmad was the representative and spiritual readvent of all previous prophets.[29] From the Ahmadiyya perspective, the Christians have erred with regards to the rights of God in that they have attributed divine status to a mortal human,[30] and it is on this account that in Islamic eschatology the promised reformer has been named the Mahdi (the "Guided One"—a title meaning "one who is naturally guided and is an heir to all truths and in whom the attribute of 'guide' of the Almighty is fully represented"). Ahmadis also hold that some Muslims have erred with regard to the rights of creation for they, unjustly raising the sword and calling it Jihad, have misunderstood the concept and purpose of jihad in Islam; it is on this account that he has been called the Isa Masih ("Jesus the Messiah")—a term which relates to his function in re-establishing the rights of people by reforming their distorted, violent notion of "Jihad" just as Jesus Christ came principally to reform the hearts and attitudes of the Jewish nation.

Giving precedence to faith over worldly pursuits is also a fundamental principle in Ahmadiyya Teachings, with emphasised relevance to the present age of materialistic prevalence.[31]

Distinct Ahmadi beliefs[edit]

Although the central values of Islam (prayer, charity, fasting, etc.) and the six articles of belief of Ahmadis are identical to those of mainstream Sunni Muslims and central to Ahmadi belief,[32] distinct Ahmadiyya beliefs include the following:

  • That the prophecies concerning the second coming of Jesus were metaphorical in nature and not literal because Jesus is, in their belief, dead, and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fulfilled in his person these prophecies and the second advent of Jesus, that he was the promised Mahdi and Messiah.
  • The continuation of divine revelation. Although the Qur'an is the final message of God for mankind, He continues to communicate with his chosen individuals in the same way he is believed to have done in the past. All of God's attributes are eternal.
  • That no verse of the Qur'an abrogates or cancels another verse. All Qur'anic verses have equal validity, in keeping with their emphasis on the "unsurpassable beauty and unquestionable validity of the Qur'ān".[33] The harmonization of apparently incompatible rulings is resolved through their juridical deflation in Ahmadī fiqh, so that a ruling (considered to have applicability only to the specific situation for which it was revealed), is effective not because it was revealed last, but because it is most suited to the situation at hand.[34]
  • That Jesus, contrary to mainstream Islamic belief, was crucified but survived the four hours on the cross. He was later revived from a swoon in the tomb.[35] Ahmadis believe that Jesus died in Kashmir of old age whilst seeking the Lost Tribes of Israel.[36] Jesus' remains are believed to be entombed in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf. Ahmadis believe that Jesus foretold the coming of Muhammad after him, which Christians have misinterpreted.[37]
  • That the "Messiah" and the "Imam Mahdi" are the same person, and that it is through his teachings and influence and through his prayers and those of his followers that Islam will defeat the Anti-Christ or Dajjal in a period similar to the period of time it took for nascent Christianity to rise (see also: Ahmadiyya relationship with Christianity) and that the Dajjal's power will slowly melt away like the melting of snow, heralding the final victory of Islam and the age of peace.
  • That the history of religion is cyclic and is renewed every seven millennia. The present cycle from the time of the Biblical Adam is split into seven epochs or ages, parallel to the seven days of the week, with periods for light and darkness. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad appeared as the promised Messiah at the sixth epoch heralding the seventh and final age of mankind,[38] as a day in the estimation of God is like a thousand years of man's reckoning.[Quran 22:47] According to Ghulam Ahmad, just as the sixth day of the week is reserved for Jumu'ah (congregational prayers), likewise his age is destined for a global assembling of mankind in which the world is to unite under one universal religion: Islam.
  • The two Ahmadiyya groups have varying beliefs regarding the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection and was the last law-bearing prophet and the apex of humankind's spiritual evolution. New prophets can come, but they must be completely subordinate to Muhammad and cannot exceed him in excellence nor alter his teaching or bring any new law or religion. They are also thought of as reflections of Muhammad rather than independently made into Prophets, like the Prophets of antiquity.[39] The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believes that Muhammad is the last of the prophets and no prophet, new or old, can come after him, also rejecting any notion of Jesus returning to earth as a Prophet.[40]


Article of faith Mainstream Islam Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Return of Jesus With the exception of a few with different beliefs (mainly in the 20th century),[41][42] most believe that at the “end of days” Jesus himself will descend from heaven in the flesh.[43] References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus' time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[44] References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus' time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The physical coming of Jesus (an old Israelite prophet) would disqualify Muhammad as the final prophet. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[45]
Status of
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mainstream Muslims consider him an apostate and believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was one of the 30 false claimants to prophethood[46] about whom Muhammad had warned Muslims 1400 years ago. Ahmad was a Mujaddid (Islamic Reformer) of the 14th Islamic century (19th Century Gregorian), the promised Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus. He is referred to as a prophet in the metaphorical sense only (as other recognised Islamic saints and Sufis are similarly referred to), not a prophet in the technical meaning of the word.[47] Ahmad was in his own words, a "juz’ī جزء (apportioned), ghayr haqiqī غير حقيقي (not made independently), ghayr tashrī’ī غير تشريعي (non-law bearing), zhillī ظلي (mirror reflection of the Prophet Muhammad)" and "burūzī بروز (under the shadow of the Prophet Muhammad)" Prophet, or a subordinate Prophet to Muhammad in the semantic sense (the Akbarian view of Prophethood taken by Ibn Arabi), the Messiah, Imam Mahdi, Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century, and the second coming of Jesus.[48][49]
Who is a Muslim? Professing the Kalima is required to become a Muslim. The amended Pakistani constitution (Article 260, clause 3) defines a "Muslim" as a person who believes in the oneness of God, in the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad, and does not believe in any person who claims to be a prophet after Muhammad.[50]

Most Muslim sects that believe in the concepts of Masih ad-Dajjal (Antichrist), Mahdi, and return of Jesus also believe that it will be required for believers to accept the promised Mahdi as their leader.[51] One exception to this is the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, which considers that it is not required for a believer to accept the promised Mahdi.

Anyone professing the Kalima is a Muslim and cannot be declared a non-Muslim by anyone else. It is not incumbent upon Muslims to accept the Imam Mahdi or Promised Messiah, whom they believe is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[52] Anyone professing the Kalima is a Muslim and cannot be declared a disbeliever of Islam by anyone else.

Muslims calling any Muslim professing the Kalima as a non-Muslim, themselves become non-believers as is stipulated by the founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself, referencing it to an authentic tradition of Muhammad:

"If a man says to his brother, O kafir (disbeliever)! Then surely one of them is such (i.e., a Kafir)."[53]

Ahmadis also deem it necessary to accept the Prophet Muhammad's traditions making it incumbent upon every Muslim to accept the Imam Mahdi, even if "one must cross great glaciers upon his knees to accept him", or suffer the consequence of "dying an ignorant death" (without accepting the Mahdi).[54][55]

Finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad The meaning of "Seal of the prophets" is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets.[56] The meaning of "Seal of the prophets" is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. No prophet, either new or old, can come after him, including Jesus whom they believe to be dead.[40] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Mujaddid (reformer) of the 14th century Hijra and not a true prophet.[57] Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection; he sealed prophethood and religious law, thus being the last law-bearing prophet. The Qur'an is the final law for all mankind and cannot be changed or added to or subtracted from, and Islam is the perfect and final religion for mankind. New prophets can come but they must be subordinate to Muhammad under the qualifications listed above (non-law bearing, not independent, etc.) and cannot exceed him whatsoever in excellence, alter his teaching, or bring any new law or religion. They shall be sent for the revival of the true spirit of Islam.[39]
Jesus, Son of Mary Born of a miraculous birth[58] from the virgin, Mary, but not the son of God. He did not die on the cross but was transported to heaven,[59] where he lives to return in the flesh to this world shortly before Doomsday.[60] Since Jesus (considered a prophet) came before Muhammad, his return to Earth would not disqualify Muhammad as the "last" prophet. Jesus will come to earth not as a prophet but as a follower of Muhammad and preach the teachings of Muhammad.[61] Believes in virgin birth of Jesus but not that he is son of God.[62] He survived the crucifixion and did not die an accursed death. Everything with Jesus was natural like other human beings regarding his birth and his death, and that is the Lord's rule.[63] Instead he travelled east to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel.[64] Jesus lived a full life and died on earth, specifically Jesus's (Yuz Asaf's) tomb lies in Srinigar, Kashmir in the Roza Bal. Believes in virgin birth of Jesus but not that he is son of God.[62] He survived the crucifixion and did not die an accursed death. Everything with Jesus was natural like other human beings regarding his birth and his death, and that is the Lord's rule.[63] Instead he travelled east to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel.[64] Jesus lived a full life and died on earth, specifically Jesus's (Yuz Asaf's) tomb lies in Srinigar, Kashmir in the Roza Bal.
Armed jihad Jihad literally means "to strive or exert to the fullest", referring to strive against the devil and one's low desires (self) and to the propagation of Islam with special emphasis on spreading the true message of Islam by example. Jihad primarily means "to strive or exert to the fullest". On an ongoing basis this refers to striving against the devil and one's low desires (self) and the peaceful propagation of Islam with special emphasis on spreading the true message of Islam by the pen. In special circumstances jihad could be an armed struggle, but only as a defensive war against extreme persecution.[65] The word jihad is interchangeable in meaning with "Ijtihad" and primarily means to strive or exert to the fullest. The greater Jihad is that against the self, and the lesser Jihad is that of the pen.
  • Jihad al-Akbar (Greater Jihad) is that against the self. This refers to striving against the evil of one's low desires (anger, lust, hatred, etc.). This is the greater Jihad.
  • Jihad al-Kabīr (Great Jihad) is Jihad al-Lisan (Jihad of the Tongue) or Jihad al-Qalam (Jihad of the Pen). This refers to the peaceful propagation of Islam, with special emphasis on spreading the true message of Islam by the pen.
  • Jihad al-Asghar (Smaller Jihad) is Jihad al-Sayf (Violent Struggle) which is only for self-defence under situations of extreme persecution and not being able to follow ones' religious beliefs, and even then only under the direct instruction of the Khalifatul Masih.[66]
    • Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has not forbidden or suspended Jihad in his capacity as the Messiah and Mahdi. All these forms of Jihad are there today, but he stressed that the need of today is in doing the greatest Jihad of self-purification and then the propagation of faith.
    • In practice, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is entirely peaceful and has never engaged in violent activity even for self-defence, despite severe persecution in some Islamic countries. However, the only instance of physical Jihad being done is when Khalifatul Masih III advised Ahmadis to fight after the establishment of Pakistan, when the Dogra forces and the Indian Army were suppressing the Muslims of Kashmir, whereupon the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, under the direction of Khalifatul Masih III, raised a volunteer army called the Furqan Force to fight in Kashmir along with the Pakistan Army.

Current status[edit]

An official Ahmadi website claims there are tens of millions of members, but the number of Ahmadis have variously been put at 10 million to 20 million.[67][68][69] The Ahmadis are active translators of the Qur'an and proselytizers for the faith; converts to Islam in many parts of the world first discover Islam through the Ahmadis. However, in many Islamic countries the Ahmadis have been defined as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and often systematic oppression.[70]


India has a significant Ahmadiyya population.[71] Most Ahmadis in India live in Kerala, Rajasthan, Orissa, Haryana, Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and a few in Punjab in the area of Qadian.

Indian law regards Ahmadis as Muslims. A landmark ruling by the Kerala High Court on 8 December 1970 in the case of Shihabuddin Imbichi Koya Thangal vs K.P. Ahammed Koya upheld their legal status as Muslims. In this case, the court ruled that Ahmadis are Muslims and that they cannot be declared apostates by other Muslim sects because they hold true to the two fundamental beliefs of Islam: that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad was a servant and messenger of God.[72][73]

There are hence no legal restrictions on the religious activities of Ahmadis in India and Ahmadis are free to practice their religion and call themselves Muslims.[73] However, there is some discrimination against Ahmadis in India from fellow Muslims of other sects. Specifically, the Islamic University of India and Darul Uloom Deoband have declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.[74] Ahmadis are also not permitted by Muslim leaders of the other sects to sit on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an independent body of Islamic religious leaders that the Indian government recognises as representatives of Indian Muslims.[75]

In February 2012 the Andhra Pradesh Wakf Board took a series of unprecedented decisions and asked the Qazis in the state not to perform Nikah for those belonging to Ahmadiyya community.[76]


Approximately 2–5 million Ahmadis live in Pakistan and is the home to the largest population of Ahmadis in the world.[77][78][79][80] It is the only state to have officially declared the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims as they do not regard Muhammad to be the final prophet;[73] here their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments. In 1974, Pakistan's parliament adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims;[81] the country's constitution was amended to define a Muslim "as a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad".[50] In 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq, the then military ruler of Pakistan, issued Ordinance XX.[82][83] The ordinance, which was supposed to prevent "anti-Islamic activities", forbids Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to "pose as Muslims". This means that they are not allowed to profess the Islamic creed publicly or call their places of worship mosques.[84] Ahmadis in Pakistan are also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the Quran, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.[23] In applying for a passport or a national ID card, all Pakistanis are required to sign an oath declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an impostor prophet and all Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.[62] Because he was an Ahmadi, the word "Muslim" was erased from the gravestone of the Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Abdus Salam.[62]

As a result of the cultural implications of the laws and constitutional amendments regarding Ahmadis in Pakistan, persecution and hate-related incidents are constantly reported from different parts of the country. Ahmadis have been the target of many attacks led by various religious groups.[85] All religious seminaries and madrasas in Pakistan belonging to different sects of Islam have prescribed essential reading materials specifically targeted at refuting Ahmadiyya beliefs.[86]

In a 2005 survey in Pakistan, pupils in private schools of Pakistan expressed their opinions on religious tolerance in the country. The figures assembled in the study reflect that even in the educated classes of Pakistan, Ahmadis are considered to be the least deserving minority in terms of equal opportunities and civil rights. In the same study, the teachers in these elite schools showed an even lower amount of tolerance towards Ahmadis than their pupils.[87] Ahmadis are harassed by certain schools, universities and teachers in Pakistan's Punjab province. The harassment includes social boycott, expulsions, threats and violence against Ahmadi students by extremist students, teachers and principals of the majority sect.[88]

Attacks against[edit]

Since Pakistan's independence there have been riots targeting Ahmadis in 1953, 1974, 1995 and assorted killings by guns, bombs and stoning. The single worst incident of violence against Ahmadis to date[89] happened on 28 May 2010 when 94 Ahmadi were killed and over 100 injured after several Islamist militants armed with guns, grenades, and suicide bombs attacked Ahmadi mosques in Lahore during Friday prayer.[90][91]


In Bangladesh, fundamentalist Islamic groups have demanded that Ahmadiyyas be "officially" declared to be kafirs (infidels). Ahmadiyyas have become a persecuted group, targeted via protests and acts of violence.[92] According to Amnesty International, followers have been subject to "house arrest", and several have been killed. In late 2003, several large violent marches, led by Moulana Moahmud Hossain Mumtazi, were directed to occupy an Ahmadiyya mosque. In 2004, all Ahmadiyya publications were banned.[93]


Ahmadiyya had existed before Proclamation of Indonesian Independence.[citation needed] However, Ahmadiyya as a controversial religious minority in Indonesia has only risen sharply in the 2000s with a rise of Islamic fundamentalism. In 2008, many Muslims in Indonesia protested against the Ahmadiyya movement. With large demonstrations, these religious conservatives put pressure on the government to monitor and harass the Ahmadiyya community in Indonesia.

Public opinion in Indonesia is split into two major views on how Ahmadiyya should be treated:

  • Majority of Muslims throughout Indonesia hold that it should be banned outright on the basis that Ahmadiyah rejected the central tenet of Islam that Muhammad is the last messenger of God; furthermore, Ahmadis should not use Islam as their banner but should constitute their own recognised religion in order to ensure their freedom of religion in Indonesia
  • Some minorities including Ahmadis and numerous non-governmental organisations hold that Ahmadiyya should be free to act and say as it pleases under the banner of Islam in keeping with the Constitutional right of freedom of religion.

In June 2008, a law was passed to curtail "proselytising" by Ahmadiyya members.[94] An Ahmadiyya mosque was burned.[95] Human rights groups objected to the restrictions on religious freedom. On 6 February 2011 some Ahmadiyya members were killed at Pandeglang, Banten province.[96]

In the past few years there has been an increase in attacks on religious freedom, including incidents of physical abuse, preventing groups from performing prayers, and burning their mosques. Data from the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace show 17, 18, and 64 incidents for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively.[97] Although the data cover persecution of all religions, the recent persecution of Ahmadis is significant and severe, followed by persecution of Christians and persecution of other Islamic sects who claim to be "genuine/pure/fundamentalist Muslims".

As of 2011, the sect faces widespread calls for a total "ban" in Indonesia.[98] On 6 February 2011, hundreds of mainstream Muslims surrounded an Ahmadiyya household and beat three people to death. Footage of the bludgeoning of their naked bodies – while policeman looked on – was posted on the internet and subsequently broadcast on international media.[99]


As of 2013 the community has been established in 204 countries and territories of the world with concentrations in South Asia, West Africa, East Africa and Indonesia. The community is a minority Muslim sect in almost every country of the world. In terms of adherents, the community gives a figure of "tens of millions".[100] However most independent sources variously estimate the population to be 10-20 million[101] worldwide. According to this, the Ahmadis represent approximately 1% of the worlds Muslim population. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Ahmadiyya movement is the fastest growing sect within Islam as of the early 21st century.[102] The country with the largest Ahmadiyya population is Pakistan with an estimated 4 million Ahmadi Muslims. The population is almost entirely contained in the larger Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement represents less than 0.2% of the total Ahmadiyya population.[103]


With Christianity[edit]

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was actively engaged in debates, prayer duels and written arguments with the Christian missionaries. The Ahmadiyya view of Jesus' survival from the crucifixion, his subsequent travels to the east in search of the "Lost Sheep of Israel" and his natural death, as propounded by Ghulam Ahmad, have been a source of ongoing friction with the Christian church. Western historians have acknowledged this fact as one of the features of Ghulam Ahmad's legacy.[104] Francis Robinson states:

At their most extreme religious strategies for dealing with the Christian presence might involve attacking Christian revelation at its heart, as did the Punjabi Muslim, Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), who founded the Ahmadiyya missionary sect.

The Ahmadiyya teachings also interpret the prophecies regarding the appearance of the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) and Gog and Magog in Islamic eschatology as foretelling the emergence of two branches or aspects of the same turmoil and trial that was to be faced by Islam in the latter days and that both emerged from Christianity or Christian nations. Its Dajjal aspect relates to deception and perversion of religious belief while its aspect to do with disturbance in the realm of politics and the shattering of world peace has been called Gog and Magog.[105] Thus Ahmadis consider the widespread Christian missionary activity that was "aggressively" active in the 18th and 19th centuries as being part of the prophesied Dajjal (Antichrist) and Gog and Magog emerging in modern times. The emergence of the Soviet Union and the United States as superpowers and the conflict between the two nations (i.e., the rivalry between communism and capitalism) are seen as having occurred in accordance with certain prophecies.[106] This has also proven controversial with most Christians. Freeland Abbott observed in his book Islam and Pakistan:

The primary significance of the Ahmadiyya Movement lay in its missionary emphasis. Every Muslim believed that Islam was the only religion free from error. The Ahmadis made it part of their principles to show the errors of other religions to their adherents and to proselytize energetically for Islam. In a sense, the Ahmadis represent the Muslims emerging, religiously speaking, from the withdrawal that had begun with the arrival of the British, just as the Muslim League represents the political emergence from that same withdrawal … Although the sect most attacked by Muslims in India and Pakistan, it has also been the one which has worked hardest, in both its branches, to defend and extend Islam against the competition offered by other faiths.

—Freeland Abbot, Islam and Pakistan[107]

With Sikhism[edit]

Ahmadis recognise Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, as a very holy Muslim. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was deeply convinced that Nanak was a holy man after he carried out a detailed study of Guru Nanak and history of Sikhism. Ahmadis believe that historically Sikhism was a Sufi sect of Islam founded by Nanak; however, this view is strongly opposed by the Sikhs of today. It was Nanak's spiritual mission to reform his people and bring about unity.[108]

With Hinduism[edit]

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was also actively involved in the debates with Arya Samaj and wrote several texts on the subject.[citation needed]Ahmadis like other Muslims believe that the last and perfect message from God was brought to Muhammad. However, unlike mainstream Muslims, Ahmadis acknowledge that many founders of various faiths, including Krishna and Buddha, have brought messages from God. He claimed that he was the Kalki Avatar, the last avatar of Vishnu whom Hindus were waiting for. However it must be understood that he did not agree with the concept of incarnations of God as Hindu thought suggests in regards to avatars. He considered Krishna and Rama as Prophets and totally human, preaching to others about the One God. He believed that this view had been distorted by their followers over many thousands of years to the state that Hinduism is in currently, which is polytheism.[109]

With Judaism[edit]

The second caliph of Ahmadiyya visited Palestine before the re-establishment of the State of Israel. Ahmadis now live in Israel among Jews in the Kababir neighbourhood of Haifa. Ahmadis believe that the existence of the State of Israel is in accord with the prophecies contained in the Bible and the Holy Quran.

With other Muslims[edit]

The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement does not see Mirza Ghulam Ahmed as a prophet.[44] Ahmadis claim that this is a result of misinterpreting Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's statements referring to his coming "in the spirit of Muhammed"[110] (similar to John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah).[111] Ahmadi Muslims believe Ghulam Ahmad to be the Mahdi and Promised Messiah. Mainstream Muslims reject this, stating that Ghulam Ahmad did not fulfill the prophecies of Imam Mahdi and that the title of Messiah was given only to Jesus and no one else. Ghulam Ahmad is considered to be a false prophet.

Both Ahmadi movements are considered non-Muslims by the Pakistan government, and this fact is recorded on their travel documents. By contrast, Ahmadi citizens from Western countries and some Muslim states perform Hajj and Umra, as the Saudi government is not made aware that they are Ahmadis when they apply for a visa. A court decision has upheld the right of Ahmadiyyas to identify themselves as Muslims in India.[112]

As the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement’s view regarding Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s status as a Prophet is closer to current mainstream Islamic thought, the literature published by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has found greater acceptance among the Muslim intelligentsia.[113][114]

Some Muslims group both Ahmadi movements together and refer to them as "Qadianis", and their beliefs as "Qadianism"[115] (after the small town of Qadian in the Gurdaspur District of Punjab in India, where the movement's founder was born), which are derogatory terms. However most, if not all, Ahmadis of both sects dislike this term as it has acquired derogatory connotations over the years, and furthermore, they prefer to differentiate their two separate movements. As members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement deny the prophethood of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, some mainstream Islamic scholars consider the members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement to be Muslims.[116] In earlier times in Pakistan and India, there was widespread persecution of Ahmadis by certain Muslim groups. Sporadic violence as well as persecution of a more subtle nature against Ahmadis continues even today.[117]


In 1914, 25 years after its founding, the Ahmadiyya movement split into two separate movements with different leaders. One movement remained in Qadian and became known as the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam (Jamaat-i Ahmadiyya); the other was established in Lahore and is known as the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam).

Only two leaders are recognised by both branches:

  • 23 March 1889 – 26 May 1908: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founding Messiah and Mahdi (b. 1835 – d. 1908)
  • 27 May 1908 – 13 March 1914: Maulana Hakeem Noor-ud-Din (b. 1841 – d. 1914)

Leaders recognised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, referred to as Khulafa or Caliphs (Successors):

Leaders recognised by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam, referred to as Emirs:

Notable people[edit]

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam:

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam