معمارِ حرم باز بہ تعمیرِ جہاں خیز
از خوابِ گِراں خوابِ گِراں خوابِ گِراں خیز
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ادھر آ ستمگر ہنر آزمائیں
تو تیر آزما ہم جِگر آزمائیں

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Ahmedi Question


The question that has come  up in the heretic mind that I carry around is, are ahmedis Non-Muslims? if yes, then why? When I asked this question to a friend of mine, the conversation went some what like this:

Me: Do you think Ahmedis are Non-Muslims?
Friend: Yes, ofcourse. They do not believe in khatam-e-nabuwat (finality of Prophethood)
Me: How do you know about it?
Friend: Who does not know? Everybody knows about it.
Me: Have you read any of their books? or do you have any Ahmedi friend who would have told    you some of their beliefs?
Friend: No. Are you Ahmedi?


After this the conversation shifted to my explaining that I am not Ahmedi and when somebody asks such questions it does not make him out of the circle of Islam.

From this conversation the obvious question that comes up is, what is meant by the “finality of Prophethood”? Well finality of prophethood is a concept intrinsic to Islam. It states that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is last of the long chain of prophets that God sent for guiding the mankind. In order to claim oneself of being a Muslim, a person has to believe in the above stated belief.

Here is a need to ask some more fundamental questions. Who has the authority to define a Muslim? What constitutes a Muslim? As I understand Islam the only authority that can define a Muslim is the Quran. Hadith being the second source of Islamic law stands second to Quran for definition of Muslim. So what does Quran say on the subject? Well as per Quran, a Muslim is a person who believes that there is only one God and believes on finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). As for the hadith, it has this to say in this regard:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever prays like us and faces our Qibla and eats our slaughtered animals is a Muslim and is under Allah's and His Apostle's protection. So do not betray Allah by betraying those who are in His protection.[1]

and

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, "O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have.[2]

Having firmly established what constitutes a Muslim, we move to see what does Ahmadi belief hold? More importantly where does it differ from the rest of Islamic sects. Before doing so, what needs to be understood is that Ahmadis have got two of their own sects as well. These sects hold slightly different views from each other. The names of these sects are Lahore Ahmediya Movement or Lahori group and the second sect is called, Ahmadiya Muslim Community. The following tables hold differences between Lahori group, Ahmadiya Muslim Community and the rest of the Muslims.


Finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh)
Mainstream Muslims
The meaning of “Seal of the prophets” is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets.
Lahori group
The meaning of “Seal of the prophets” is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. No prophet, either new or old can come after him.[3] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Mujaddid (reformer) of the 14th century Hijra and not a true prophet.[4]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection, he sealed prophethood and religious law, thus being the last law-bearing prophet. New prophets can come but they must be subordinate to Muhammad and cannot exceed him in excellence, alter his teaching, nor bring any new law or religion. They shall be sent for the revival of the true spirit of Islam.[5]

This article of faith is of foremost importance as it talks about the finality of the prophethood. The issue of finality of prophethood of Muhammad (saw) gains further importance as it is discussed by the Quran itself. What is evident from the table above is that as far as Lahori group is concerned they do not differ with mainstream Muslims at all. Given this particular sect conforms with the rest of conditions imposed by ahadeeth given above, calling them a non-Muslim would not only be sheer arrogant stupidity but straying away from teachings of these ahadeeth as well.

As for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, this sect may have strangely different concept of the issue but if looked on the whole they tend to conform to the basic understanding of Islamic injunctions by following Mohammadan law and excepting him to be above the rest. In this sense to submit that they are outside the fold of Islam would be mis-guided to say the least. Their belief may be wrong from the point of view of majority of the Muslims but on the whole it does not deviate from the original law or the spirit of that law. The reason being that the subsequent prophets it talks about seem more like “reformers” than a “prophet”. Although they insist on using word “prophet” for their “reformer” but then the question arises, whether this is enough to throw somebody out of the folds of Islam? Not to mention the fact that the very similar use of word “prophet” exists among sufi orders as well. As Ibn Al-Arabi, the greatest sufi mystic of all times, elaborates in his book “The Bezels of Wisdom” or “Fusoos al-Hikmah” as it is originally called..




Jesus, Son of Mary
Mainstream Muslims
Born of a miraculous birth from the virgin, Mary, but not the son of God. Did not die on the cross but was transported to heaven, where he lives to return in the flesh to this world shortly before Doomsday. Since Jesus (considered a prophet) came before Muhammad, his return to Earth would not disqualify Muhammad as the “last” prophet. Jesus will come to earth not as a prophet but as a follower of Muhammad and preach the teachings of Muhammad.[6]
Lahori group
Similar to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community belief except that the question of Jesus's virgin birth is not an essential requirement of faith and is left to the individual's personal conviction.[7]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
Believes in virgin birth of Jesus but not that he is son of God. He survived the crucifixion and did not die an accursed death. Everything with Jesus was natural like other human beings regarding his birth and his death and that is the Lord's rule. Instead he travelled east to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus lived a full life and died on earth, specifically Jesus's tomb lies in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf.[8]

This Issue is not of so much of significance that it should act as a litmus test of who is a Muslim or not, the reason being that it is not from the basic tenets of Islam elaborated above.


Return of Jesus
Mainstream Muslims
At the “end of days” Jesus himself will descend from heaven in the flesh.[9]
Lahori group
References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity, and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus’ time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[10]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity, and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus' time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The physical coming of Jesus (an old Israelite prophet) would disqualify Muhammad as the final prophet. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[11]

This Issue is not of so much of significance that it should act as a litmus test of who is a Muslim or not, as it is not from the basic tenets of Islam. But what is worth mentioning regarding Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is that it further elaborates their earlier claim regarding finality of prophethood. It seems that their claim regarding new prophets is particularly about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself. This claim gets further elaborated below.


Status of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mainstream Muslims
Mainstream Muslims consider him an apostate and believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was one of the 30 false claimants to prophethood
Lahori group
Ahmad was a Mujaddid (Islamic Reformer) of the 14th Islamic century (19th Century Gregorian), the promised Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus. He is referred to as a prophet in the metaphorical sense only (as other recognized Islamic saints and sufis are similarly referred to), not a prophet in the technical meaning of the word.[12]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
Ahmad was a prophet ("Rasul" as mentioned in 2:285 [We make no distinction between any of His Messengers]) but subordinate and deputy to the Prophet Muhammad. The Messiah, Imam Mahdi and Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century, and the second coming of Jesus.[13]


As per Quranic teaching, whether I believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an apostate or not is immaterial as far as my belief as a Muslim is concerned. Some people might argue that in hadith mentioned above does imply this. But if looked more carefully the hadith does not name the persons, therefore my view of Ghulam Ahmad becomes immaterial as long as I believe in the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw).

As for Lahori group, they call him to be saint the promised mahdi. this belief although not in conformity with the mainstream belief but at the same time is not such that it would put them out of the fold of religion Islam. The reason being that believing in somebody being a saint or not is not a basis for checking whether the person is a Muslim or not.

For the Ahmadiya Muslim Community, this point does also help their case as they seem to refer to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as second coming of Jesus Christ. While most of the Muslims believe that Christ’s second coming is awaited event, this group believes that he did return in the body of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It again is deviant from the mainstream belief on the issue but does conform to the basic definition of a Muslim established at the beginning. As second coming of Jesus is not something which can be claimed as basic tenet of Islam. Whether he has come or is still to come is immaterial from the standpoint of definition of Muslim as endorsed by Quran and Hadith.

When confronted with this argument somebody reasoned that these people believe another thing and say something else to gain acceptance. This is a riddiculous argument and as a matter of fact can be used against anybody anywhere. As a refutation for this argument, I would like to quote the following hadith:

It is narrated on the authority of Usama b. Zaid that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent us in a raiding party. We raided Huraqat of Juhaina in the morning. I caught hold of a man and he said: There is no god but Allah, I attacked him with a spear. It once occurred to me and I talked about it to the Apostle (may peace be upon him). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Did he profess" There is no god but Allah," and even then you killed him? I said: Messenger of Allah, he made a profession of it out of the fear of the weapon. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Did you tear his heart in order to find out whether it had professed or not? And he went on repeating it to me till I wished I had embraced Islam that day.[14]

In light of above presented argument, I strongly feel that beliefs of Ahmadis might be different from rest of Muslim sects but it does not fall outside the fold of Islam. It is so, because the basic tenets of being a Muslim can not be dependant upon the whim and desires of any person and can only come from Quran and hadeeth. As far as my understanding of Quran and Hadeeth goes, these people may not be good Muslims (by somebody else’s standards) in the same sense as all the rest of Muslim sects think of all the other of the sects as not good Muslims but still are Muslims and can not be casted out of the fold of Islam, the same should hold here as well.

[1]Sahih Al-Bukhari: The Book of Prayer, Hadith Number 387
[2]Sahih Al-Bukhari: The Book of Prayer, Hadith Number 388
[3]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[4]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[5]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[6]Sahih Muslim: Hadith Number: 242
[7]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[8]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[9]Islamic View of the Coming/Return of Jesus, by Ahmad Shafaat, Islamic Perspectives
[11]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[12]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[13]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[14]Sahih Muslim: Book 1, Hadith Number 176

4 comments:

RR said...

I think being a Muslim doesnt only mean to pray 5 times and pay zakat. The main pillar of Islam is 'Faith' and faith means One God, Last Prophet Muhammad S.a.w (no possibility of Rasul or Nabi after Muhammad p.bu.h), Angels, Day of Resurrection, and Belief in Quran and the Holy books. It also includes Everything written in Quraan that also includes the virgin birth of Jesus, His ascendance to the skies and His return. If anyone creates questions / arguments in ANY of the above IS NOT a MUSLIM

RR said...

being a muslim doesnt mean praying 5times a day, or going fpr hajj.islam is based on FAITH and a muslim is the one who believes in the followng:
One God, Last prophet (no question of of rasul or prophet after Muhammad pbuh), Quran and automatically everything thats mentioned in Quran(Jesus virgin birth, his ascendance to the skies), Day of judgement. etc. so dont try to fool people by your glossy words and comparisons,they have a weak base for their argument. Suppose, if we accept their leader Mirza as Rasool , then we have to give space in islam to every maniac who claims spirituality and causes fitna. And please read Mirza's life and find out for yourself what character he possessed. i would not even like to sit in such a persons company, keep aside being his spiritual leader. and we can assess how 'Gumraah' his follwers can be following such a lose character

Muhammad Shemyal Nisar said...

Well All I can do is laugh at your comment. I am really sorry to say that but that is what it is.

I think your knowledge is incomplete with regards to the Quran itself. You might want to read it again and you would know that Quran never even once mentions that Jesus would return. There is not even a single ayat which says that Jesus would return.

Secondly, who gave you the authority tell who is a Muslim and who is not a Muslim? All the articles of faith you mentioned, they are followed by Ahmedis as well. Namaz, roza, zakat, hajj, day of judgment and every other.

The only precondition the quran tells for a muslim is that he should believe in one God and that Muhammad pbuh is his final rasul. To which ahmedis do also adhere. Then the hadith mentioned in the essay tells who is a Muslim and if you know any ahmedis you would know that they do fulfill all those conditions as well.

The Lahori sect does not believe Ghulam Ahmed to be a nabi at all. how can you say that they are not muslims as well? The secondly sect says that Ghulam ahmed is the second coming of the christ. All the other sect believe that Christ has not yet returned while they believe that christ has returned. I have not seen any reference in the quran or the hadith which would say that those who would dis-agree on the christ's rebirth would also be non-muslims or that would act as a criteria for deciding who is a muslim and who is not.

Qudsia00 said...

This was an interesting article. I am surprised though that no one questioned that there is no hadith which lists the definition of being a Muslim to say that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is the last prophet. The most that the ahadith say is to believe that "there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (s.a.w) is His messenger." The Holy Quran says that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w)is "khataman-Nabiyyeen." and the Ahmadies wholeheartedly believe in it, exactly as has been taught by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the Holy Quran and exactly as has been interpreted by so many other Muslim saints revered by the non-Ahmadi Muslims. For references, please go to:
http://www.alislam.org/library/finality.html