Ahmadiyya

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The White Minaret with the Ahmadiyya Flag in Qadian, India. For Ahmadi Muslims, the two symbolise the descent of the Promised Messiah

Ahmadiyya (/ɑːməˈdi(j)ə/;[1] officially the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community or the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (Arabic: الجماعة الإسلامية الأحمدية ‎, transliterated: al-Jamā'ah al-Islāmīyyah al-Ahmadīyyah) 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] The adherents of the Ahmadiyya movement are referred to as Ahmadi Muslims or simply Ahmadis.

Ahmadi thought emphasizes the belief that Islam is the final dispensation for humanity as revealed to Muhammad and the necessity of restoring to it its true essence and pristine form, which had been lost through the centuries.[7] Ahmadiyya adherents believe that God sent 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] Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam.

Ahmad founded the movement on 23 March 1889 and termed it the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at, sometimes translated as Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. After Ahmad's death, the community has been led by a number of spiritual successors and has expanded to over 200 countries and territories of the world. The Ahmadis were among the earliest Muslim communities to arrive in Britain and other Western countries.[7] Today, the community led by the fifth spiritual successor, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, numbers between 10 and 20 million worldwide.

The population is almost entirely contained in the single, organized and united movement. In this sense there is only one major branch. However, in the early history of the community, a number of Ahmadis broke away over the nature of Ahmad's prophethood and succession and formed the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement which today represents a small fraction of all Ahmadis. 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.[9]

Etymology[edit]

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, Ahmad explained that the name did not refer to himself but to Ahmad, the alternative name of 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 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.[10] 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.[11] Accordingly, in 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] 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).[12]

Summary of beliefs[edit]

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 (traditions) of Muhammad.[13] These are the central beliefs constituting Ahmadi Muslim thought. Also important to the Ahmadiyya is the belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, as prophesied by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Summarising his claim, Ahmad writes:

The task for which God has appointed me is that I should remove the malaise that afflicts the relationship between God and His creatures and restore the relationship of love and sincerity between them. Through the proclamation of truth and by putting an end to religious conflicts, I should bring about peace and manifest the Divine verities that have become hidden from the eyes of the world. I am called upon to demonstrate spirituality which lies buried under egoistic darkness. It is for me to demonstrate by practice, and not by words alone, the Divine powers which penetrate into a human being and are manifested through prayer or attention. Above all, it is my task to re-establish in people’s hearts the eternal plant of the pure and shining Unity of God which is free from every impurity of polytheism, and which has now completely disappeared. All this will be accomplished, not through my power, but through the power of the Almighty God, Who is the God of heaven and earth.[14]

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.[15]

Ahmadi teachings state that the founders of all the major world religions were working towards the establishment of Islam in its broadest sense, being part of the divine scheme of the development of religion and had foretold of its completion and perfection.[16] The completion and consummation of the development of religion came about with the coming of Muhammad; and that the perfection of the ‘manifestation’ of Muhammad’s prophethood and of the conveyance of his message was destined to occur with the coming of the Mahdi.[17] Thus, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community regard Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the "Promised One" of all religions fulfilling eschatological prophecies found in the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions, as well as Zoroastrianism, the Indian religions, Native American traditions and others.[18] Ahmadi Muslims believe that 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.[19][20] Summarising the Islamic faith, Ahmad writes:

There are only two complete parts of faith. One is to love God and the other is to love mankind to such a degree that you consider the suffering and the trials and tribulations of others as your own and that you pray for them.[21]

The Ahmadiyya faith claims to represent the latter-day revival of the religion of Islam. Overseas Ahmadiyya missionary activities started at an organised level as early as 1913 (for example, 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.[22] The Ahmadiyya movement is considered by some historians[23] as one of the precursors to the African-American Civil Rights Movement in America. According to some experts,[24] Ahmadiyya were "arguably the most influential community in African-American Islam" until the 1950s. Today, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has one of the most active missionary programs in the world. It is particularly large in Africa. In post colonial era, the Community is credited for much of the spread of Islam in the continent.[25]

Articles of faith[edit]

Ahmadi Muslims subscribe to the same beliefs as the majority of Muslims, but with a difference of opinion on the meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin. The six articles of faith are identical to those believed in by Sunni Muslims, and are based on traditions of Muhammad:

Unity of God[edit]

The Shahada, outside the Mahmood Mosque in Zurich, proclaiming the oneness of God

Ahmadi Muslims firmly believe in the absolute Unity of God. Acknowledgement of this principle is the most important and the cardinal principle of Islam as interpreted by the Community. All other Islamic beliefs spring from this belief. The belief in the Unity of God is thought to influence a person's life in all its aspects and is believed to have much wider meaning and deeper applications. For example, elaborating on the Oneness of God, the Quranic verse "There is no all-encompassing power except God" is believed to negate all forms of fear with the exception of the fear of God. It instils a sense of complete dependence on God and that every good emanates from Him. In general, the belief in unity of God is thought to liberate believers from all forms of carnal passions, slavery and perceptions of earthly imprisonment. The founder of the Community writes:

The Unity of God is a light which illumines the heart only after the negation of all deities, whether they belong to the inner world or the outer world. It permeates every particle of man's being. How can this be acquired without the aid of God and His Messenger? The duty of man is only to bring death upon his ego and turn his back to devilish pride. He should not boast of his having been reared in the cradle of knowledge but should consider himself as if he were merely an ignorant person, and occupy himself in supplications. Then the light of Unity will descend upon him from God and will bestow new life upon Him.[26]

It is further believed that the Islamic concept of Oneness of God inculcates the realization of the Oneness of the human species and thus removes all impediments in this regard. The diversity of all human races, ethnicities and colours are considered worthy of acceptance. Moreover, it is thought that a belief in the Unity of God creates a sense of absolute harmony between the Creator and the creation. It is understood that there can be no contradiction between the word of God and and work of God.[27][28]

Islam recognises God as the fountain-head of all excellences, free from all imperfection as understood by the Community. God is recognised as a Living God who manifests himself everywhere and listens to the prayers of his servants. Distinctively, however, Ahmadi Muslims recognise that the attributes of God are eternal. On account of this, Ahmadi teachings propound the view that God communicates with mankind as he did before.

Angels[edit]

The belief in angels is fundamental to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. They are spiritual beings created by God to obey him and implement his commandments. Unlike human beings, angels have no free will and cannot act independently. Under God's command, they bring revelations to the Prophets, bring punishment on the Prophet's enemies, glorify God with his praise, and keep records of human beings' deeds. Angels are not visible to the physical eye. Yet, according to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, they do sometimes appear to man in one form or another. This appearance, however, is not physical but a spiritual manifestation.[29] Ahmadi Muslims regards angels as celestial beings who have their own entity as persons. The major role they play is the transmission of messages from God to human beings. According to the Quran, the entire material universe as well as the religious universe is governed by some spiritual powers, which are referred to as angels. Whatever they do is in complete submission to the Will of God and the design that he created for things. According to Islam, as interpreted by Ahmadi Muslims, they cannot deviate from the set course or functions allocated to them, or from the overall plan of things made by God.[30]

Books[edit]

Some of the many Quran translations by Ahmadi translators at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair

For Ahmadi Muslims, the third article in Islam is concerned with the belief in all the divine scriptures as revealed by God to his Prophets. This includes, the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms, the scrolls of Abraham, and the Qur'an. Before the advent of Islam, the history of religion is understood as a series of dispensations where each messenger brought teachings suitable for the time and place. Thus, at the time of their inception, the divine teachings sent by God concurred in their fundamentals, with the exception of minor details that were chosen to complement the time and place. With the exception of the Qur'an, it is believed that the divine scriptures are susceptible to human interpolation. Islam recognises that God sent his prophets to every nation and isolated communities of the world. Thus, according to the Ahmadi teachings, books outside of the Abrahamic tradition, such as the Vedas and Avesta are too considered as of being divine origin. Among the recognised books, the Community believes that the Qur'an is the final divine scripture revealed by God to mankind. The teachings of the Qur'an are considered timeless.[31]

Prophets[edit]

According to the Ahmadi Muslim view, the fourth article of faith in Islam is concerned with the belief in all divine prophets sent by God. Ahmadi Muslims believe that when the world is filled with unrighteousness and immorality, or when a specific part of the world displays these attributes, or when the followers of a certain law (religion) become corrupt or incorporate corrupted teachings into the faith, thus making the faith obsolete or in need of a Divine Sustainer, then a Prophet of God is sent to re-establish His Divine Will. Aside from the belief in all prophets in the Qur'an and the Old Testament, the Community also regards Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius as prophets.[32]

According to the Ahmadiyya belief, the technical Islamic terms "warner" (natheer), “prophet” (nabi), "messenger" (rasul) and "envoy" (mursal) are synonymous in meaning. However, there are two kinds of prophethood as understood by the Community: Law-bearing prophets, who bring a new law and dispensation such as Moses and Muhammad; and non-law-bearing who appear within a given dispensation such as Jeremiah, Jesus and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Adam is regarded as the first human with whom God spoke with and revealed to him his divine will and thus the first prophet but is not regarded as the first human on earth by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, contrary to mainstream Islamic, Jewish and Christian beliefs. This view is based on the Qur'an itself, according to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.[33] Ahmadis believe Muhammad to be the final law-bearing prophet but teach the continuity of prophethood.

Day of Judgement[edit]

The fifth article of faith relates to the Day of Judgment.[34] According to the Ahmadis, after belief in one God, belief in the Day of Judgement is the most emphasized doctrine mentioned in the Qur’an.[34] According to Ahmadi Muslim beliefs, the entire universe will come to an end on the Day of Judgment, a position also taken by all other Islamic sects and schools of thought. The dead will be resurrected and accounts will be taken of their deeds. People with good records will enter into Heaven while those with bad records will be thrown into Hell.[34] Hell is understood by Ahmadiyya as a temporary abode lasting an extremely long time and not everlasting, much like in mainstream Judaism and the views taken by Islamic scholars of antiquity such as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Arabi.[citation needed] It is thought to be like a hospital, where souls are cleansed of their sins, and this view based on the Qur'an and Hadith.[35]

Divine decree[edit]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that divine decree controls the eventual outcome of all actions in this universe. Within the boundaries of divine decree, man is given free will to choose the course.[36] Ahmadi Muslims believe that they will be judged on the basis of their intentions and deeds on the Day of Judgment. Ahmadis believe that science is the study of the acts of God and religion is the study of the word of God and the two cannot possibly contradict each other. They believe that Adam, the prophet, was simply the first Prophet and not the first human on earth, as understood by them being in the Qur'an. Ahmadi Muslims do believe in the theory of biological evolution, albeit guided by God.[citation needed]

Five pillars[edit]

Though many Ahmadi Muslims perform Hajj, they are not permitted by Saudi law.
Main article: Five pillars of Islam

The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din , "pillars of religion") are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all Ahmadi Muslims.[37] The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the shahadah (creed), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.[38] Ahmadi Muslims agree with both Shia and Sunni sects on the essential details for the performance of these acts. However, In Pakistan Ahmadi Muslims are prohibited by law, and to some extent in other Muslim countries by persecution, from self-identifying as Muslims. This creates some level of difficulty in performing the obligatory acts. Although, Ahmadi Muslims from some countries do perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, they are not allowed under Saudi law.[39]

Distinct teachings[edit]

Although the Five Pillars of Islam and the six articles of belief of Ahmadi Muslimss are identical to those of mainstream Sunni Muslims and central to Ahmadi belief,[40] distinct Ahmadiyya beliefs include the following:

Second Coming[edit]

Contrary to mainstream Islamic belief, Ahmadi Muslims believe that Jesus was crucified and survived the four hours on the cross. He was later revived from a swoon in the tomb.[41] Ahmadis believe that Jesus died in Kashmir of old age whilst seeking the Lost Tribes of Israel.[42] Jesus' remains are believed to be entombed in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf. In particular, it is believed that the biblical and the Islamic prophecies concerning the second coming of Jesus were metaphorical in nature and not literal, and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fulfilled in his person these prophecies and the second advent of Jesus. Ahmadi Muslims also believe that the "Promised Messiah" and the "Imam Mahdi" are the same person, and that it is through his teachings, influence and 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 fade away, heralding the prophecised final victory of Islam and the age of peace.

The White Minaret in Qadian, India. For Ahmadi Muslims, it symbolises the descent of the Promised Messiah

Seal of Prophets[edit]

Although Ahmadi Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the final message of God for mankind, they also believe that God 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. In particular, Ahmadi Muslims 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 will not be able to 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.[43]

Jihad[edit]

According to Ahmadi Muslim belief, Jihad can be divided into three categories: Jihad al-Akbar (Greater Jihad) is that against the self and refers to striving against one's low desires such as anger, lust and hatred; Jihad al-Kabīr (Great Jihad) 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 only for self-defence under situations of extreme religious persecution whilst not being able to follow one's fundamental religious beliefs, and even then only under the direct instruction of the Caliph.[44] Ahmadi Muslims point out that as per Islamic prophecy, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad rendered Jihad in its military form as inapplicable in the present age as Islam, as a religion, is not being attacked militarily but through literature and other media, and therefore the response should be likewise.[45] They believe that the answer of hate should be given by love.[46] Concerning terrorism, the fourth Caliph of the Community writes:

As far as Islam is concerned, it categorically rejects and condemns every form of terrorism. It does not provide any cover or justification for any act of violence, be it committed by an individual, a group or a government.[47]

Religion and Science[edit]

Ahmadi Muslims believe that there cannot be a conflict between the word of God and the work of God and thus religion and science must work in harmony with each other.[48] With particular reference to this relationship, the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states that in order to understand God's revelation, it is necessary to study His work, and in order to realize the significance of His work, it is necessary to study His word.[49] According to the Nobel laureate, Abdus Salam, a devout Ahmadi Muslim, 750 verses of the Quran (almost one eighth of the book) exhort believers to study Nature, to reflect, to make the best use of reason in their search for the ultimate and to make the acquiring of knowledge and scientific comprehension part of the community 's life.[50]

Other[edit]

Other distinct beliefs include:

  • 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".[51] 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.[52]
  • 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,[53] 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.

History[edit]

Ahmadiyya timeline
1882 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (without publicity) claims to be the Mujaddid of the fourteenth Islamic century
1889 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad establishes the Ahmadiyya Muslim movement
1890 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announces his claim to 'The Promised Messiah' and 'The Imam Mahdi' of the Latter days
1908 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad dies in Lahore. Hakeem Noor-ud-Din is elected as the First Caliph
1914 Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad is elected as the Second Caliph
1947 Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad migrates to Lahore, Pakistan
1948 Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad establishes the city of Rabwah as the new headquarters of the Community
1965 Mirza Nasir Ahmad is elected as the Third Caliph
1982 Mirza Tahir Ahmad is elected as the Fourth Caliph
1984 Mirza Tahir Ahmad migrates to London, England, moving the headquarters to London
2003 Mirza Masroor Ahmad is elected as the Fifth Caliph

Formally, the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community begins when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad took the oath of allegiance from a number of his companions at a home in ludhiana, India on March 23, 1889. However, the history can be taken back to the early life Ahmad, when he reportedly started receiving revelations concerning his future, but also as far back as the traditions of various world religions. 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.[54] 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. 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.

First Caliphate[edit]

After the death of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Hakeem Noor-ud-Din was unanimously elected as his first successor and Caliph of the Community. Within the stretch of his Caliphate, a period which lasted six years, he oversaw a satisfactory English translation of the Qur'an, the establishment of the first Ahmadiyya Muslim mission in England and the introduction of various newspapers and magazines of the Community. As a result of growing financial requirements of the Community, he set up an official treasury. Most notably, however, he dealt with internal dissensions, when a number high-ranking office bearers of the Ahmadiyya Council disagreed with some of the administrative concepts and the authority of the Caliph.

Second Caliphate[edit]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Flag, first designed during the Second Caliphate

Soon after the death of the first caliph, Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad was elected as the second caliph, in accordance with the will of his predecessor. However, a faction led by Maulana Muhammad Ali and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din strongly opposed his succession and refused to accept him as the next caliph, which soon led to the formation of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. This was due to certain doctrinal differences they held with the caliph such as the nature of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's prophethood and succession.[55] It has also been theorised that a clash of personalities with that of the dissenters and the caliph himself, who had a relatively poor academic background, also played a role.[56] However, the Lahore Ahmadiyya movement, which settled in Lahore, has had relatively little success and has failed to attract a sizeable following.[57] In the history of the Community, this event is referred to as 'The Split' and is sometimes alluded to a prophecy of the founder.

Elected at a young age, Mahmood Ahmad's Caliphate spanned a period of almost 52 years. He established the organisational structure of the Community and directed extensive missionary activity outside the subcontinent of India. Several weeks following his election, delegates from all over India were invited to discuss about propagation of Islam. Two decades later, Mahmood Ahmad launched a twofold scheme for the establishment of foreign missions and the moral upbringing of Ahmadi Muslims. The Tehrik-e-Jedid and Waqf-e-Jedid or the 'new scheme' and the 'new dedication' respectively, initially seen as a spiritual battle against the oppressors of the Ahmadi Muslims, called upon members of the Community to dedicate their time and money for the sake of their faith. In time the scheme produced a vast amount of literature in defence of Islam in general and the Ahmadiyya beliefs in particular. The funds were also spent on the training and dispatching of Ahmadi missionaries outside the Indian sub-continent.[58]

During his time, missions were established in 46 countries, mosques were constructed in many foreign countries and the Quran published in several major languages of the world. Although the Community continued to expand in the course of succeeding Caliphates, sometimes at a faster pace, the second caliph is credited for much of its inception. Ahmad wrote many written works, the most significant of which is the ten volume commentary of the Quran.[58]

Third Caliphate[edit]

Elected on 8 November 1965, Mirza Nasir Ahmad succeeded as the third Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Started by his predecessor, he is credited with the expansion of the missionary work, particularly in Africa, and is seen as having shown great leadership and guidance to the Community during the period when the National Assembly of Pakistan declared the Community as a non-Muslim minority.[59][60] Nusrat Jahan Scheme, a scheme dedicated to serving parts of Africa by running numerous medical clinics and schools was one of the many outcomes of his 1970 tour of West Africa, regarded as the first ever visit to the continent made by an Ahmadi Caliph. During his visit for the foundation stone ceremony of the Basharat Mosque, the first mosque in modern Spain, he coined the popular Ahmadiyya motto: Love for all, Hatred for None.[61][62]

Mirza Nasir Ahmad established the Fazl-e-Umar Foundation in honour of his predecessor, oversaw the compilations of dialogues and sayings of the founder of the Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and also directed the complete collection of the dreams, visions and verbal revelations claimed to have been received by the founder.[59]

Fourth Caliphate[edit]

Baitur Rehman Mosque near Washington, D.C is one of several mosques inaugurated by the fourth caliph

Mirza Tahir Ahmad was elected as the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on June 10, 1982, a day after the death of his predecessor. Following the Ordinance XX that was promulgated by the government of Pakistan in 1984, which rendered the Caliph unable to perform his duties and put the very institution in jeopardy, Ahmad left Pakistan and migrated to London, England, moving the headquarters of the Community to Fazl Mosque, the first mosque in London.[63] For Ahmadi Muslims, the migration marked a new era in the history of the Community. Ahmad launched the first Muslim satellite television network, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya;[64] instituted the Waqfe Nau Scheme, a program to dedicate Ahmadi Muslim children for the services of the Community; and inaugurated various funds for humanitarian causes such as the Maryum Shaadi Fund, the Syedna Bilal Fund, for victims of persecution, and the disaster relief charity Humanity First.[64]

To the Community, Ahmad is noted for his regular Question & Answer Sessions he held in multiple languages with people of various faiths, professions and cultural backgrounds. However, Ahmad also wrote many books - the most significant of which include Islam's Response to Contemporary Issues, Murder in the name of Allah, Absolute Justice, Kindness and Kinship, Gulf Crisis and The New World Order and his magnum opus[65] Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth.

Fifth Caliphate[edit]

Following the death of the fourth Caliph, the Electoral College for the first time in the history of the Community convened in the western city of London, after which Mirza Masroor Ahmad was elected as the fifth and current Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. In his effort to promote his message of peace and facilitate service to humanity, Ahmad travels globally meeting heads of state, holding peace conferences, and exhibiting Islamic solutions to world problems.[66] In response to ongoing conflicts, Ahmad has sent letters to world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis. Being the spiritual head of millions of Ahmadi Muslims residing in over 200 countries and territories of the world, Ahmad travels globally, teaching, conveying and maintaining correspondence with communities of believers and individuals, expounding principles of the Islamic faith.

Demographics[edit]

Baitul Awwal Mosque in Tirana, Albania, is one of many Ahmadi Muslim mosques around the world

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. On the other hand, it has spread to most countries of the world. In some countries, it is practically illegal to be an Ahmadi Muslim. Together, these factors make it difficult to estimate the Ahmadiyya population for both the community itself and as well as independent organizations. For this reason, the community gives a figure of "tens of millions";[67] however, most independent sources variously estimate the population to be at least 10 to 20 million[68] worldwide, thereby representing around 1% of the world's Muslim population.[69] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Ahmadiyya movement is the fastest growing sect within Islam as of the early 21st century.[70] It is estimated that the country with the largest Ahmadiyya population is Pakistan, with an estimated 4 million Ahmadi Muslims. The population is almost entirely contained in the single, organized and united movement, headed by the Caliph. The other is the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, which represents less than 0.2% of the total Ahmadiyya population.[57]

Organisational structure[edit]

The Caliph[edit]

Baitul Futuh Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Europe. The Caliph's Friday Sermon is televised live throughout the world, via MTA TV

Ahmadi Muslims believe that the Ahmadiyya caliphate is the resumption of the Rightly Guided Caliphate. This is believed to have been re-established with the appearance of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad whom Ahmadis believe was the promised Messiah and Mahdi. Ahmadi Muslims maintain that in accordance with Quranic verses (such as [Quran 24:55]) and numerous Hadith on the issue, Khilāfah or the Caliphate can only be established by God Himself and is a divine blessing given to those who believe and work righteousness and uphold the unity of God. Therefore, any movement to establish the Caliphate centred around human endeavours alone is bound to fail, particularly when the condition of the people diverges from the precepts of prophethood and they are as a result disunited, their inability to elect a caliph caused fundamentally by the lack of righteousness in them. It is believed that through visions, dreams and spiritual guidance, God instils into the hearts and minds of the believers of whom to elect. No campaigning, speeches or speculation of any kind are permitted. Thus the caliph is designated neither necessarily by right (i.e. the rightful or competent one in the eyes of the people) nor merely by election but primarily by God.[71]

According to Ahmadiyya thought, it is not essential for a caliph to be the head of a state, rather the spiritual and religious significance of the Caliphate is emphasised. It is above all a spiritual office, with the purpose to uphold, strengthen, spread the teachings of Islam and maintain the high spiritual and moral standards within the global community established by Muhammad. If a caliph does happen to bear governmental authority as a head of state, it is incidental and subsidiary in relation to his overall function as a caliph.[72][73] The caliph is also referred to by Ahmadi Muslims as Amir al-Mu'minin (Leader of the Faithful). The current and fifth caliph is Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

The Consultative Council[edit]

The Majlis-ash-Shura or the Consultative Council, in terms of sanctity, is the highest ranking institution within the Community after the Caliphate. This advisory body meets formally at least once a year. At the international level, the council is presided over by the caliph. Its main purpose is to advise the caliph on important matters such as finance, projects, education and other issues relating to members of the Community. The caliph may comment, issue instructions, announce his decisions on the proposals during the course of the proceedings or may postpone the matter under further reflection. However, in most cases the caliph accepts the advice given by the majority. At the national level, the council is presided over by the ʾAmīr (National President). At the conclusion of the proceedings, the recommendations are sent to the caliph for approval which he may accept, reject or partially accept.[74]

The Headquarters[edit]

The Fazl Mosque, the first mosque in London, represents the world headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

The principle headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the city, town or place where the caliph resides. As such, since the forced exile of the fourth caliph from Pakistan in 1984, the official headquarters of the Community has been based in London, England. Although the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina are acknowledged to be more sacred, Qadian is considered to be the spiritual headquarters of the Community.[75] It is believed, and prophecised, that in the future, the Ahmadiyya Caliphate will once again return to Qadian, the birthplace of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. However, the Ahmadiyya city of Rabwah in Pakistan, since its founding on 20 September 1948 by the second caliph, after the Indian partition, coordinates majority of the organisation's activity around the world. In particular, the city is responsible for, but not exclusively, the two central bodies of the Community; Central Ahmadiyya Council and the Council for 'The New Scheme'.[76][77] Another, but much smaller body, the Council for 'New Dedication' , is also active. All central bodies work under the directive of the caliph.

Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya or the Central Ahmadiyya Council, first set up by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1906, is today responsible for organising the Community activities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; whereas the Anjuman Tehrik-i-Jadid or the Council for 'The New Scheme', first set up by the second caliph, is responsible for missions outside the Indian subcontinent.[76] Each council is further divided into further directorates, such as the Department of Financial Affairs, the Department of Publications, the Department of Education, the Department of External Affairs, and the Department of Foreign Missions among others.[78] Under the latter council, the Community has built over 15,000 mosques, over 500 schools, over 30 hospitals and translated the Quran into over 70 languages.[79] The Anjuman Waqf-i-Jadid or the Council for 'The New Dedication' , also initiated by the second caliph, is responsible for training and coordinating religious teachers in rural communities around the world.

Institutions[edit]

Pakistani campus of the Ahmadiyya University in Rabwah

Of all religious institutions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Jāmi’ah al-Ahmadīyya, sometimes translated as Ahmadiyya University of Theology and Languages, is particularly notable. It is an international Islamic seminary and educational institute with several campuses throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Founded in 1906 as a section in Madrassa Talim ul Islam (later Talim-ul-Islam College) by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, it is the main centre of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for Islamic learning and the training of missionaries. Graduates may be appointed by the Caliph either as missionaries of the Community[77] (often called Murrabi, Imam, or Mawlana) or as Qadis or Muftis of the Community with a specialisation in matters of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Some Jamia alumni have also become Islamic historians. As of 2008, there are over 1,300 graduates of the University working as missionaries throughout the world.[79]

Auxiliary organisations[edit]

There are five spiritual organisations auxiliary to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Each organisation is responsible for the spiritual and moral training of their members. The Lajna Ima’illah is the largest of all the organisations and consists of female members above the age of 15; Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya is for male members between the ages of 15 and 40; Majlis Ansarullah is for male members above the age of 40; Nasiratul Ahmadiyya is for girls between the ages of 7 and 15; and Atfalul Ahmadiyya is for boys between the ages of 7 and 15.[77]

The Community[edit]

The International Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is divided into National Communities, each with its National Headquarters. Each National Community is further divided into Regional Communities, which is again partitioned into Local Communities.[80] In many cases, each Local Community will have its own mosque, centre or a mission house. The Amīr, or the National President, though overseen by the central bodies of the Community, directs the National Amila or the National Executive Body which consists of national secretaries such as the General Secretary, Secretary for Finance, Secretary for Preaching, Secretary for Spiritual Training, Secretary for Spiritual Education, among others. This layout is replicated at regional and local levels with each of their own President and Executive Bodies.[77][81]

The Ahmadiyya Flag and the German flags at the 2009 German Annual Convention

Annual events[edit]

Unlike the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha celebrated by Ahmadi Muslims, there are several functions observed by Ahmadis though not regarded as religious holidays. As such, functions are not considered equally obligatory nor is it necessary to celebrate them on the day normally set for celebration. The most important religious function of the Community is Jalsa Salana or the Annual Convention, first initiated by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is the formal annual gathering of the Community, for the purpose of increasing one's religious knowledge and the promotion of harmony, friendship, and solidarity within members of the Community.[82] Other functions include "Life of the Holy Prophet Day", "Promised Messiah Day", "Promised Reformer Day" and "Caliphate Day".

Persecution[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.[68] 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.[9]

India[edit]

India has a significant Ahmadiyya population.[83] 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, citation A.I.R. 1971 Ker 206 upheld their legal status as Muslims.[84] 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.[85]

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.[84] 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.[86] 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.[87]

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.[88]

Pakistan[edit]

The Shahada, the basic creed of Islam and of Ahmadi Muslims being erased by Pakistani police

Approximately 2–5 million Ahmadis live in Pakistan and is the home to the largest population of Ahmadis in the world.[89] It is the only state to have officially declared the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims as they do not regard the Prophet Muhammad to be the final prophet;[84] 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;[90] the country's constitution was amended to define a Muslim "as a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad".[91] In 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq, the then military ruler of Pakistan, issued Ordinance XX.[92][93] 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.[94] 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.[39] 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.[95] Because he was an Ahmadi, the word "Muslim" was erased from the gravestone of the Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Abdus Salam.[95]

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.[96] All religious seminaries and madrasas in Pakistan belonging to different sects of Islam have prescribed essential reading materials specifically targeted at refuting Ahmadiyya beliefs.[97]

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.[98] 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.[99]

28 May 2010 saw the worst single incident of violence against Ahmadis to date (see May 2010 attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore), when several members of an extremist religious group (allegedly Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab) entered two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore and opened fire; three of them later detonated themselves. In total, the attacks claimed the lives of 86 people and injured well over 100.[100] The members were gathered in the mosques attending Friday services.[101] In response to the attacks, Pakistan minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti visited the Ahmadi community.[citation needed]

Bangladesh[edit]

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.[102] 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.[103]

Indonesia[edit]

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.[104] An Ahmadiyya mosque was burned.[105] Human rights groups objected to the restrictions on religious freedom. On 6 February 2011 some Ahmadiyya members were killed at Pandeglang, Banten province.[106]

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.[107] 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.[108] 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.[109]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]