Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
|Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad|
The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam
Claimed to be Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the fourteenth Islamic century; the Promised Messiah (Second Coming of Christ) and Mahdi awaited by the Muslims in the end days; the Caliph and the Prophet.
|Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad|
|Father||Mirza Ghulam Murtaza|
13 February 1835|
Qadian, Sikh Empire
|Died||26 May 1908
Lahore, British Empire
|Burial||Bahishti Maqbara, Qadian, India|
Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad (Urdu: مرزا غلام احمد, Hindi: मिर्जा गुलाम अहमद; 13 February 1835 – 26 May 1908 CE, or 14 Shawal 1250 – 24 Rabi' al-thani 1326 AH) was a religious figure from India and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.
He claimed to be the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the Fourteenth Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi. His followers are known as Ahmadis. Ghulam Ahmad declared that Jesus (or Isa) had in fact survived crucifixion and migrated to Kashmir, where he died a natural death. Ghulam Ahmad declared that he had been divinely appointed as the Messiah, in the spirit and power of Jesus. Ghulam Ahmad is regarded by many mainstream Muslims as a heretic, for claiming to be a non-law-bearing (or deputy) prophet after Muhammad, whom mainstream Muslims believe to be the final prophet sent to guide mankind.
He traveled extensively across the subcontinent of India preaching his religious ideas and ideals and won substantial following within his lifetime. He is known to have engaged in numerous debates and dialogues with Muslims, Christians, and Hindus. Ghulam Ahmad founded the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam on 23 March 1889. The mission of the movement, according to him, was the propagation of Islam in its pristine form.
Ghulam Ahmad authored more than 90 books on various religious, spiritual and theological aspects. He advocated a peaceful propagation of Islam and emphatically argued against the necessity of Jihad in its military form in the present age.
- 1 Life
- 1.1 Early life and education
- 1.2 Taking of the covenant
- 1.3 His claim
- 1.4 Post-claim
- 1.5 Reaction of religious scholars
- 1.6 Journey to Delhi
- 1.7 Challenge to opponents
- 1.8 The sun and moon eclipse
- 1.9 Lawsuit
- 1.10 The Revealed Sermon
- 1.11 The Lahore controversy with Pir Meher Ali Shah
- 1.12 Challenge to John Alexander Dowie
- 1.13 Encounter with the Agapemonites
- 1.14 The White Minaret
- 1.15 Heavenly Graveyard
- 1.16 Last journey
- 1.17 Death
- 2 Marriages and children
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Criticism
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Early life and education
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born on 13 February 1835 (According to his own accounts as published by him in Roohani Qazain), in Qadian, India, the surviving child of twins born to an affluent family. His father's name was Mirza Ghulam Murtaza. He was born in the Sikh Empire under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He learned to read the Arabic text of the Qur'an and studied basic Arabic grammar and the Persian language from a teacher named Fazil-e-Illahi. At the age of 10, he learned from a teacher named Fazl Ahmad. Again at the age of 17 or 18, he learnt from a teacher named Gul Ali Shah. In addition, he also studied some works on medicine from his father, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, who was a physician.
During the mid 19th century, Christianity was spreading through India at a fast rate due to aggressive missionary activity. From 1864 to 1868, upon his father's wishes, Ghulam Ahmad worked as a clerk in Sialkot. At that time a strong anti-British movement was in progress in India. Especially, Muslim leaders called for armed jihad and almost every Muslim group supported the call of jihad, apart from Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
After 1868, he returned to Qadian, as per his father's wishes, where he was entrusted to look after some estate affairs. During all this time, Ahmad was known as a social recluse because he would spend most of his time in seclusion studying religious books and praying in the local mosque. As time passed, he began to engage more with the Christian missionaries, particularly in defending Islam against their criticism. He would often confront them in public debates, especially the ones based in the town of Batala.
In 1886, certain leaders of the Arya Samaj held discussion and debate with Ghulam Ahmad about the truthfulness of Islam and asked for a sign to prove that Islam was a living religion. In order to dedicate special prayers for this purpose and so as to seek further divine guidance, Ghulam Ahmad travelled to Hoshiarpur upon what he claimed was divine instruction. Here, he spent forty days in seclusion, a practice known as chilla-nashini. He travelled accompanied by three companions to the small two-storied house of one of his followers and was left alone in a room where his companions would bring him food and leave without speaking to him as he prayed and contemplated. He only left the house on Fridays and used an abandoned mosque for Jumu'ah (Friday prayers). It is during this period that he declared God had given him the glad tidings of an illustrious son.
Taking of the covenant
Ghulam Ahmad claimed divine appointment as a reformer as early as 1882 but did not take any pledge of allegiance or initiation. In December 1888, Ahmad announced that God had ordained that his followers should enter into a bay'ah with him and pledge their allegiance to him. In January 1889, he published a pamphlet in which he laid out ten conditions or issues to which the initiate would abide by for the rest of his life. On 23 March 1889, he founded the Ahmadiyya community by taking a pledge from forty followers. The formal method of joining the Ahmadiyya movement included joining hands and reciting a pledge, although physical contact was not always necessary. This method of allegiance continued for the rest of his life and after his death by his successors.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. He claimed to be the fulfilment of various prophecies found in world religions regarding the second coming of their founders. This sparked great controversy, especially among the Muslim and Christian clergy. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's followers say that he never claimed to be the same physical Jesus who lived nineteen centuries earlier. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed that Jesus died a natural death, in contradiction to the traditional Muslim view of Jesus' physical ascension to heaven and the traditional Christian belief of Jesus' crucifixion. He claimed in his books that there was a general decay of Islamic life and a dire need of a messiah. He argued that just as Jesus had appeared in the 14th century after Moses, the promised messiah, i.e. the Mahdi must also appear in the 14th century after Muhammad.
In Tazkiratush-Shahadatain, he wrote about the fulfilment of various prophecies. In it, he enumerated a variety of prophecies and descriptions from both the Qur'an and Hadith relating to the advent of the Mahdi and the descriptions of his age, which he ascribed to himself and his age. These include assertions that he was physically described in the Hadith and manifested various other signs; some of them being wider in scope, such as focusing on world events coming to certain points, certain conditions within the Muslim community, and varied social, political, economic, and physical conditions.
In time, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's claims of being the Mujaddid (reformer) of his era became more explicit. In one of his most well-known and praised works, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, a voluminous work, he claimed to be the Messiah of Islam. Muslims have maintained that Jesus will return in the flesh during the last age. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, by contrast, asserted that Jesus had in fact survived crucifixion and died of old age much later in Kashmir, where he had migrated. According to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the promised Mahdi was a symbolic reference to a spiritual leader and not a military leader in the person of Jesus Christ as is believed by many Muslims. With this proclamation, he also rejected the idea of armed Jihad and argued that the conditions for such Jihad are not present in this age, which requires defending Islam by the pen and tongue but not with the sword. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote two very impressive books named "Tuhfa e qaisariah" and "Sitara e Qaisaria" in which he invited Queen Victoria to embrace Islam and forsake Christianity.
Reaction of religious scholars
In time, the religious scholars turned against him, and he was often branded as a heretic. His opponents accused him of working for the British Government due to the termination of armed Jihad, since his claims of being the Mahdi were made around the same time as the Mahdi of Sudan (Muhammad Ahmad). Many years after his death, he was again accused of working for the British to curb the Jihadi ideology of Muslims.
Following his claim to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, one of his adversaries prepared a Fatwa (decree) of disbelief against Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, declaring him a Kafir (disbeliever), a deceiver, and a liar. The decree permitted killing him and his followers. It was taken all around India and was signed by some two hundred religious scholars.
Some years later, a prominent Muslim leader and scholar, Ahmed Raza Khan, was to travel to the Hejaz to collect the opinions of the religious scholars of Mecca and Madina. He compiled these opinions in his work Hussam ul Harmain (The sword of two sanctuaries on the slaughter-point of blasphemy and falsehood); in it, Ghulam Ahmad was again labelled an apostate. The unanimous consensus of about thirty-four religious scholars was that Ghulam Ahmad's beliefs were blasphemous and tantamount to apostasy and that he must be punished by imprisonment and, if necessary, by execution.
Journey to Delhi
Ghulam Ahmad went to Delhi, which was at the time considered a centre of religious learning and home to many prominent religious leaders, in 1891, with the intention of distinguishing what he believed to be the truth from falsehood. He published an advertisement in which he invited the scholars to accept his claim and to engage in a public debate with him regarding the life and death of Isa (Jesus), particularly Maulana Syed Nazeer Husain (1805-1901), who was a leading religious scholar. He also proposed three conditions that were essential for such a debate: that there should be a police presence to maintain peace, the debate should be in written form (for the purpose of recording what was said), and that the debate should be on the subject of the death of Jesus.
Eventually, it was settled, and Ghulam Ahmad travelled to the Jama Masjid Delhi (main mosque) of Delhi accompanied by twelve of his followers, where some 5,000 people were gathered. Before the debate started, there was a discussion on the conditions, which led to the conclusion that the debate should not be upon the death of Jesus, but upon the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He explained that his claim could only be discussed after the death of Jesus was proven, for Jesus was considered by many to be living and the one who will descend to Earth himself. Only when this belief was refuted could his claim to be the Messiah be discussed.
Upon this, there was a clamour among the crowds, and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was informed that the other party alleged that he was at odds with Islamic beliefs and was a disbeliever; therefore, it was not proper to debate with him unless he clarified his beliefs. Ghulam Ahmad wrote his beliefs on a piece of paper and had it read aloud, but due to the clamour among the people, it could not be heard. Seeing that the crowd was drifting out of control and that violence was imminent, the police superintendent gave orders to disperse the audience, and the debate did not take place. A few days later, however, a written debate did take place between Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and Maulwi Muhammad Bashir of Bhopal, which was later published.
Ghulam Ahmad is known to have travelled extensively across Northern India during this period of his life and to have held various debates with influential religious leaders.
Challenge to opponents
Ghulam Ahmad published a book called The Heavenly Decree, in which he challenged his opponents to a "spiritual duel" in which the question of whether someone was a Muslim or not would be settled by God based on the four criteria laid out in the Qur'an, namely, that a perfect believer will frequently receive glad tidings from God, that he will be given awareness about hidden matters and events of the future from God, that most of his prayers will be fulfilled and that he will exceed others in understanding novel finer points, subtleties and deeper meanings of the Qur'an.
The sun and moon eclipse
After announcing his claim to be the Messiah and Mahdi, his opponents demanded that he should produce the "heavenly sign" detailed in the tradition attributed to the 7th-century Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, also known as Muhammad bin Ali, in which it is stated about the appearance of the Mahdi:
For our Mahdi there are two signs which have never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth, namely the moon will be eclipsed on the first night in Ramadhan and the sun will be eclipsed on the middle day in the same month of Ramadhan, and these signs have not appeared since God created the heavens and the earth.
— Dar Qutni Vol. 1, page 188
Ahmadis maintain that this prophecy was fulfilled in 1894/1895, about three years after Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed himself to be the Promised Mahdi and Messiah, with the lunar and solar eclipse during the month of Ramadhan. Ghulam Ahmad declared that this was a sign of his truth and was in fulfilment of the tradition or prophecy. The occurrence has, however become a point of controversy and has faced criticism from Islamic scholars well versed in Hadith knowledge. Critics of Ghulam Ahmad assert that this is a weak tradition with unreliable narrators, one that cannot be traced back to Muhammad himself. Such eclipses have taken place before and have appeared many times after the death of Ghulam Ahmad as well.
Ahmadis however argue that such eclipses have never taken place as a sign for the truth of any person, neither did any claimant preceding Ghulam Ahmad lay claim to eclipses as a sign of their truth; and that Ghualm Ahmad was the only claimant to be the Mahdi in the world, at the time of these eclipses. Even if such eclipses have taken place after his death and there is a claimant, his claim is nullified by the hadith itself which says that these signs would have not appeared before 'since the creation of the heavens and the earth'; whereas they would have already taken place in the case of Ghulam Ahmad. Furthermore, this sign being mentioned in other religious scriptures such as the Quran. and the Bible as well as other sciptures, and the fact that it actually took place while there was a claimant further enhances the reliability of the tradition.
The eclipses being a sign of the Mahdi are also mentioned specifically in the Letters of Rabbani by Ahmad Sirhindi
In 1897, a Christian missionary, Henry Martyn Clark, filed a lawsuit of attempted murder against Ahmad at the court of District Magistrate Captain Montagu William Douglas in the city of Ludhiana. The charge laid against him was that he hired a man by the name of Abdul Hameed to assassinate Clark. However, he was not detained by the police and was declared innocent by the then-Magistrate Captain Douglas.
The Revealed Sermon
In 1900, on the occasion of the festival of Eid ul-Adha, he is said to have delivered an hour-long sermon extempore in Arabic expounding the meaning and philosophy of sacrifice. This episode is celebrated as one of the important events of the history of Ahmadiyya. The sermon was simultaneously written down by two of his companions and came to be known as the Khutba Ilhamiyya, the revealed or inspired sermon. Ahmadiyya literature states that during this sermon, there was a change in his voice, he appeared as if in a trance, in the grip of an unseen hand, and as if a voice from the unknown had made him its mouthpiece. After the sermon ended, Ahmad fell into prostration, followed by the rest of the congregation, as a sign of gratitude towards God.
Ahmad wrote later:
It was like a hidden fountain gushing forth and I did not know whether it was I who was speaking or an angel was speaking through my tongue. The sentences were just being uttered and every sentence was a sign of God for me.
— Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Haqeeqatul-Wahi
The Lahore controversy with Pir Meher Ali Shah
Pir Meher Ali Shah of Golra Sharif is recognized by some as the person at the forefront in striving to bring Ghulam Ahmad and his movement down. He penned the book on the "apostasy" of Ahmad titled Sayf-e-Chishtia. Meher Ali was one of the spiritual leaders whom Ghulam Ahmad had challenged collectively to a "prayer duel". On 20 July 1900, Ghulam Ahmad issued a poster in which he proposed a gathering at Lahore to hold a written contest in Arabic consisting of writing a commentary on forty verses (selected by ballot) of the Qur'an after invoking divine assistance.
According to the poster, the commentaries were to be written within seven hours and in the presence of witnesses, without the assistance of a book or any person. An hour was to be given for preparation. The commentaries were to span at least twenty pages, purely in Arabic. After their completion and signatures by the contestants, they were to be read out to three learned persons for adjudication, nominated and seen to by Meher Ali Shah. After listening to the two commentaries, the judges would pronounce on solemn triple oath which one was superior and written "with Divine endorsement".
Pir Meher Ali Shah accepted the challenge to such a contest, provided that first an oral debate take place between him and Ghulam Ahmad on the issue of his claims. Ghulam Ahmad refused to debate. Ahmad's followers claim that he had categorically vowed in Anjam-e-Atham not to engage in any more debates, as he judged them ineffective at convincing the religious clergy to reform (the reason why he had challenged Meher Ali Shah to such a decisive contest in the first place and not to a debate); rather, he would invoke God for divine intervention by holding such contests or "prayer duels", which he called Ejazi-Muqabala, or "miraculous contest", between him and his opponents, primarily Christian missionaries and Muslim scholars and divines.
This remains a point of contention between the followers of Ghulam Ahmad and those of Pir Meher Ali Shah. According to the followers of Meher Ali Shah, he travelled to Lahore, as per Ghulam Ahmad's proposal, where a large gathering of scholars and laymen had collected, and according to followers of Ghulam Ahmad, did so without notice. Ghulam Ahmad did not show up. Ahmadis argue that the condition of oral debate proposed by Meher Ali Shah was an indirect refusal of Ghulam Ahmad's challenge and a deliberate attempt to trap him, for if he had accepted, he would have broken his promise with God by engaging in debates, but if he had declined, it would have been assumed that Meher Ali Shah was victorious and Ghulam Ahmad had withdrawn.
Ghulam Ahmad later issued another poster describing his beliefs and requesting a written response from the Pir. Later, he published an advertisement proposing a battle of written commentary on the opening chapter of the Quran to settle their dispute.
If You (Pir sahib) had the capability of writing Quranic exegesis in arabic, then you will still have the same power to write Arabic exegesis. Therefore I give you the oath of God almighty to fulfill my request by writing exegesis of surra Al-Fatiah in classic Arabic to rebuttal my claims of Mehdi and Messiah. And I shall write exegesis of surra Al-Fatiah in support of my claim in classic Arabic. You are allowed to get help from scholars all over the world. we have time limit till 15th of December 1900. The two commentaries would be printed and published in book form within seventy days. A price of Rs.500 would be paid to Mehr Ali Shah if his commentary was adjudged by three scholars to be superior or equal to that of Ghulam Ahmad. The party failing to write and publish the proposed commentary within the stated period would be regarded as a liar, and no further proof for that purpose would be needed.
— Ghulam Ahmad, 
Ghulam Ahmad published his planned commentary under the title Ijaz-ul-Masih (Miracle of the Massiah) but Pir Meher Ali Shah failed to respond with the Arabic exegesis of the surra Al-Fatiah.
Challenge to John Alexander Dowie
In 1899, Scottish-born American clergyman John Alexander Dowie laid claim to be the forerunner of the second coming of Christ. Ghulam Ahmad exchanged a series of letters with him between 1903 and 1907. Ghulam Ahmad challenged him to a prayer duel, where both would call upon God to expose the other as a false prophet. Ghulam Ahmad stated:
The best way to determine whether Dowie's God is true or ours, is that Mr. Dowie should stop making prophecies about the destruction of all Muslims. Instead he should keep me alone in his mind and pray that if one of us is fabricating a lie, he should die before the other.
— Ghulam Ahmad, 
Though he may try hard as he can to fly from death which awaits him, yet his flight from such a contest will be nothing less than death to him; and calamity will certainly overtake his Zion, for he must bear the consequences either of the acceptance of the challenge or its refusal. He will depart this life with great sorrow and torment during my lifetime.
The challenge of "prayer duel" was made by Mirza in September 1902. The Dictionary of American Biography states that after having been deposed during a revolt in which his own family was involved, Dowie endeavoured to recover his authority via the law courts without success and that he may have been a victim of some form of mania, as he suffered from hallucinations during his last illness. Dowie died before Mirza, in March 1907.
Encounter with the Agapemonites
In September 1902 the Rev. John Hugh Smyth-Pigott (1852-1927) proclaimed himself the Messiah and also claimed to be God while preaching in the Church known as "The Ark of the Covenant" in Clapton in London. This church was originally built by the Agapemonites, a religious movement founded by the Anglican priest Henry James Prince.
When the news of his claim reached India, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, a disciple of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, learned of it and wrote to Pigott informing him of the claim of Ahmad and requesting more information about his own claim. Pigott did not reply directly, but a letter was received from his secretary along with two advertisements, one carrying the title "The Ark of Noah". When the advertisements and letter were read out in the presence of Ahmad, he replied:
"Logic is respected and lasts but irrational thought loses its innovativeness in the space of a few lines. Now our Noah's Ark will overpower the false one. The Europeans used to say that false Messiahs are about to come, so first these false prophets and Messiahs stepped out in London. After this the voice of the true Messiah will reach London. It is also recorded in the Ahadith that the Anti-Christ will claim Godhead and Prophethood for himself, so this Nation has also fulfilled this manifestly. Dowie is claiming to be a Prophet in America and Pigott is claiming to be God in London and calls himself God."
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote to Pigott informing him that such a blasphemous proposition did not behove man, and that in the future he should abstain from making such claims, or he would be destroyed. This message was sent in November 1902.
Newspapers in America and Europe published Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's notification. The actual words of the English text state:
- "I therefore warn him through this notice that if he does not repent of this irreverent claim, he shall be soon annihilated."
Dr. Schwieso, an expert in sociology and a lecturer at the University of the West of England, has made a study of Agapemone for which he received a doctorate from the University of Reading. In his dissertation "Deluded Inmates, Frantic Ravers and Communists: A sociological Study of the Agapemone, a sect of Victorian Apocalyptic Milleniars", he writes:
We can see traces of Agapemone activities in India in 1902…in this very year another claimer to messiahship in India, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, chief of Qadian, Punjab, published an announcement in which Pigott was given a warning that…….if he did not abstain from his claim to godship then he would immediately be destroyed/turned to dust and bones.
— Dr Joshua Schwieso, ''Deluded Inmates, Frantic Ravers and Communists: A sociological Study of the Agapemone, a sect of Victorian Apocalyptic Milleniars, pg. 171
Tadhkirah, a book comprising a collection of the verbal revelations, dreams and visions vouchsafed to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, contains a prophecy regarding Pigott:
"November, 20 (Thursday) Upon prayer with concentration concerning Pigottt, the Promised Messiah(as) saw in a dream some books on which it was written three times: Tasbeeh, Tasbeeh, Tasbeeh [Holiness belongs to Allah], and then received a revelation:
Allah is severe in retribution. They are not acting righteously.
— Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, ''Tazkirah, pg. 531
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad then explained this revelation:
This revelation indicated that the present condition of Pigottt is not good or that he would not repent in future. It can also mean that he would not believe in God or that what he has done by telling such a lie against God and planning against him, is not good. The part "Allah is severe in retribution" shows that his end will be doomed and he will be afflicted with God’s chastisement. Indeed, it is a very daring thing to claim to be God.”
— Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, ''Tazkirah, pg. 567
Researchers have commented that after the move to Spaxton;
the flamboyant Messiah of Clapton became the quiet, gentle pastor at Spaxton
— Donald McCormick, The Temple of Love p.97, 1962, The Citadel Press, New York
Smyth-Pigottt had learned his lesson at Clapton, that the opinion of the outside world still counted and he had no desire to face in Somersetshire the kind of demonstrations he had endured in London…..When (he) drove through the village he adopted the worldly role of a benign squire rather than that of the Messiah.
— Donald McCormick, The Temple of Love p.95, 1962, The Citadel Press, New York
A plaque inscribed in Latin which was found amongst his personal possessions read: Homo Sum. Humani Nihil A Me Alienum Puto. The translation of this text recorded at the back of the pendulum reads: "I am a Man. Nothing akin to Humanity do I consider alien to me."
Smyth-Piggot (who died in 1927) never again claimed Godship during the life of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The White Minaret
According to Islamic tradition, Jesus, upon his second advent, would descend with or near a White Minaret disputably to the east of Damascus or in the eastern side of Damascus. Ghulam Ahmad argued that this Hadith does not explain whether the minaret will be within the eastern side of Damascus or to the eastern side of the city. According to him, this prophecy was fulfilled with his advent in Qadian, a town situated to the east of Damascus, and the significance of the minaret symbolic. The minaret, according to him, symbolised the spread of the "light of Islam", its message reaching far and wide, and the "supremacy of Islam", which was to tower up as it were like a minaret in the time of the promised one. The prophecy is also believed to be pointing to an age of enlightenment and one where there are numerous facilities for communication and transport, thereby making conveyance and proselytising easier. This was reflective of the physical purpose that minarets were used in medieval Islamic societies, the efficient communication of the call to prayer to a wider audience in the locality. Ghulam Ahmad claimed that God had revealed to him:
Step forth, that your time has Arrived and the feet of the people of Muhammad have been firmly planted on a high tower. Holy Muhammad, the chosen one, Chief of the Prophets.
— Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 'Tadhkirah, pg. 444
In 1903, Ahmad laid the foundation of a minaret to commemorate the prophecy. This, according to him, will represent the physical as well as spiritual aspects of Islam with a light and a clock fixed on its top symbolising the "light of Islam" spreading far and wide and "so man will recognize his time", and a Muezzin to give the call to prayer five times a day symbolising an invitation to Islam. The construction of this minaret was completed in 1916 and has since become a symbol and distinctive mark in Ahmadiyyat. Muslim scholars have
Ahmad mentioned the establishment of a "Heavenly Graveyard" (Bahishti Maqbara) under divine commandment in his booklet Al-Wasiyyat (The Will). It is stated that in a spiritual vision, Ahmad was shown a plot of land called "Bahishti Maqbara", containing the graves of such members of his community who are destined to be in heaven. In order to fulfill this vision, Ahmad donated a parcel of his land in Qadian for those members of the community who fulfilled certain conditions:
- Whoever desires to be buried in this graveyard should contribute towards the expenses of its maintenance according to his capacity.
- Whoever desires to be buried therein should make a testamentary disposition that one tenth of his property shall, under direction of the Movement, be devoted to the propagation of Islam, and carrying out the teachings of the Quran. It will be open to every righteous person whose faith is perfect to provide for this purpose in his will more than one tenth, but it shall not be less.
- Whoever shall lead a righteous life and abstain from all that is prohibited and shall not do anything that amounts to association of something with God or to innovation in the faith. He should be a true and sincere Muslim. (Al-Wasiyyat, pp. 16–19)
Over time, the cemetery in Qadian has expanded, while another one was established in Rabwah, Pakistan, after the partition of India. Established under the direction Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the cemetery in Rabwah has over 10,000 graves.
Towards the end of 1907 and early 1908, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have received numerous revelations informing him of his imminent death. In April 1908, he travelled to Lahore with his family and companions. Here, he gave many lectures. A banquet was arranged for dignitaries where Ghulam Ahmad, upon request, spoke for some two hours explaining his claims, teachings and speaking in refutation of objections raised against his person; here, he preached reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims. He completed writing his last work, entitled Message of Peace, a day before his death.
While he was in Lahore at the home of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain (who was also his physician), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fell ill from dysentery and died. His body was subsequently taken to Qadian and buried there. A few years before his death, Ahmad claimed to have received several prophecies relating to his upcoming death.
Marriages and children
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad married twice. His first wife was his paternal cousin Hurmat Bibi. Later, they separated and lived separately for a long time. At the time of his second marriage, Hurmat Bibi gave him the permission to live with the second wife and decided against a divorce.
With his first wife, Hurmat Bibi, he had two sons:
- Mirza Sultan Ahmad (1853–1931) ( Became Ahmadi)
- Mirza Fazal Ahmad (1855–1904) (Died at the age of 49 years and did not become Ahmadi)
With his second wife, Nusrat Jahan Begum, he had ten children:
Five children died young:
- Ismat (1886–1891)
- Bashir (1887–1888)
- Shaukat (1891–1892)
- Mubarik (1899–1907)
- Amtul Naseer (1903–1903)
Five children lived longer:
- Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad (1889–1965)
- Mirza Bashir Ahmad (1893–1963)
- Mirza Sharif Ahmad (1895–1961)
- (Nawab) Mubarika Begum (1897–1977)
- (Nawab) Sahiba Amtul Hafeez Begum (1904–1987)
One of the main sources of dispute during his lifetime and continuing since then is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's use of the terms Nabi ("prophet") when referring to himself. Most non-Ahmadi Muslims consider the prophet Muhammad to be the last of the prophets and believe that Ahmad's use of these terms is a violation of not only the rudimentary concept of the finality of prophethood, but the Qur'an itself. His followers fall into two camps in this regards. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believe in a literal interpretation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's prophethood (with some qualifications) and is currently headed by Ahmad's fifth Caliph, or successor, carrying the title of Khalifatul Masih, an institution believed to have been established soon after Ahmad's death. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believe in an allegorical interpretation of these two terms and is administered by a body of people called the Anjuman Ishat-e-Islam ("movement for the propagation of Islam"), headed by an Emir. This, among other reasons, caused a split in the movement soon after Ahmad's death.
Followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are considered non-Muslims in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and have faced relentless persecution of various types over the years. In 1974, the Pakistani parliament amended the Pakistani constitution to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims for purposes of the constitution of the Islamic Republic. In 1984, a series of changes in the Pakistan Penal Code sections relating to blasphemy were made, which, in essence, made it illegal for Ahmadis to preach their creed, leading to arrests and prosecutions.
Relative to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, some mainstream Muslim opinion towards the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has been more accepting, with the Lahore Ahmadiyya literature finding easier compatibility with Orthodox Muslims and some Orthodox Muslim scholars considering the members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement as Muslims.
A number of modern Muslim scholars and Muslim intellectuals seem to conform to the idea of peaceful Jihad as a struggle for reform through civil means, in accordance with Mirza Ghulam Ahmed's standpoint on the issue. Furthermore, some Islamic scholars have opined that Jesus has died (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's assertion) or expressed their own confusion on this matter, though the majority orthodox position of most Muslims with regard to this issue has not changed.
- Maulvi Muhammad Hussein of Batala who was a significant leader of Ahl-e-Hadith sect. He was one of his key opponents and his fellow from youth on the writing of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya that in his journal.
- Maulvi Sirajuddin, who is father of Zafar Ali Khan in his newspaper Zamindar on the death of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote.
Due to the nature of his claims and teachings, he had been a subject of criticism throughout his life and has been ever since his death. He and his movement are still regarded by most Muslim scholars as kuffar (unbelievers) and as guilty for an attempted schism in Islam.
Ahmadis believe that Mirza Ghulahm Ahmad's writings are taken completely out of context by critics. For example, critics may show parts of writing that support their view, but fail to show the parts of writing that contradict their view.
Relationship with the British
Many Muslims feel that Ghulam Ahmad was aided in his mission by the British government, whose stated policy of "divide and rule" was expressed in their approval of Ahmad's introducing a dissident faction within Islam. Ghulam Ahmad is criticised by the orthodox Muslims for his support of the British Government in India and maintain that he and his associates went on publishing in favour of British control and even tried to convince Muslims in other Muslim countries that a British government would be in their favour. It is alleged that he had collaborated with the British against Muslims. They give reference to one of his books in which he said:
[…] The service that has been rendered on my part, in favour of the English government is that I have published fifty thousand books, magazines and posters and distributed them in this and other Islamic countries […] It is as a result of my endeavors that thousands of people have given up thoughts of Jihad which had been propounded by ill-witted mullahs and embedded in the minds of the people. I can rightly feel proud of this that no other Muslim in British India can equal me in this respect […]
His followers reject this criticism and point out that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was constantly engaged in controversies with the British missionaries. Western historians have recorded this effort as one of the features of Ahmad's legacy. 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.
His followers also say that Ahmad openly supported the British government in India, and therefore, his critics' consideration of this being tantamount to "conspiring" with the British is baseless. They further argue that his open support for the British was on account of the religious freedom the British extended to the Muslims, as opposed to the preceding Sikh rule in Punjab wherein Muslims were persecuted and their religious freedom curtailed, and that one of the reasons for his expression of loyalty towards the British was due to him being repeatedly presented as a threat and danger to the government with rebellious intent by his opponents such as Molvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi Ghulam Ahmad had also invited Queen Victoria of Great Britain, ruler of the most extensive empire at the time, to discard Christianity and accept Islam and even prophecied about the imminent decline of the British Empire, which would hardly be congruent of one collaborating with or working for the British.
It is also pointed out by them that some prominent mainstream Muslim leaders of the time had also openly expressed similar sentiments for the British rule for the same reasons. Furthermore, the famous founders of the Muslim League had also expressed similar sentiments of loyalty to the British Government at around the same time as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Ghulam Ahmad has been accused of plagiarizing, and altering the words of Arab linguists to appear as his own. He claimed that his book Hujjatullah [Convincing Proof from God] was of superior Arabic. However, his critics allege that several sentences and paragraphs in this text are taken directly without alteration, from Maqamat al-Hariri, the best known poetry collection of the Arabic scholar and poet Al-Hariri of Basra. For this reason, his claim to divine instruction in Arabic is not accepted in Islamic Orthodoxy. Ahmadis, however, claim that the alleged instances of plagiarism are not true because Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had deliberately inserted the writings of Al-Hariri with his own and then openly declared that he had done as such as a challenge to his critics to compare and separate the two. His followers claim that as clearly stated by him in the beginning of his book Hujjatullah it was only after his use of Arabic was labelled inadequate, ungrammatical and 'unchaste' by his opponents that Ghulam Ahmad deliberately amalgamated his own writings with that of Al-Hariri's in order to expose his adversaries; whom he called upon to distinguish between his writings and that of Al-Hariri’s. Ghulam Ahmad stated:
Thus the method which will free the people from his deception is that we present to him paragraphs from our writing and some other paragraphs from the writings of a great Arab writer while concealing the names of the authors, and then call upon him to tell us which paragraph out of this is ours and which is theirs, if you are truthful. Then if he recognises my sayings and theirs and distinguishes between them as between a shell and its kernel, then we shall give him fifty rupees as a reward.
— Hujjatulla, pg. 4–5
Termination of Jihad
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's critics allege that he had terminated Jihad, which is an important Islamic requirement, to appease the British. His followers, however, argue that he never terminated Jihad, in the broader sense of the word, but only forbade using Jihad as a pretext to fight against a government that gives freedom of religion. Ahmad elucidated his views on Jihad in his book The British Government and Jihad published in 1900, he wrote:
Behold! I have come to you people with a directive that henceforth jihad with the sword has come to an end but jihad for the purification of your souls still remains. This injunction is not from me but rather it is the will of God.
— British Government and Jihad, pg. 15
According to Ahmad this age did not require defending Islam by the sword but that the Jihad of this age was to be carried out by preaching and defending Islam by speech and by the pen. In another place he writes:
The Jihad of this age is to strive in upholding the word of Islam, to refute the objections of the opponents, to propagate the excellences of the Islamic faith, and to proclaim the truth of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, throughout the world. This is Jihad till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world.
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- How To Distinguish Between A True Prophet And A False Prophet – Truthfulness of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani (as) according to Holy Qur'an.