[Series] Part Three – Attitude of the Ahmadiyya Movement towards other sects

This is the third and final part of our series on the Lahori Ahmadis’. In part two we discussed in more details what our beliefs are and we answered the most common criticisms against us.

In this final part we will be explaining the attitudes of the Ahmadiyya movement towards other sects and communities and towards Government.

This series has been taken from ‘The Ahmadiyya Doctrines’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali.

As the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i-Islam, Lahore, is carrying on its work of the defence and propagation of Islam in different countries, and its members are now met with in most of the countries where there is a Muslim population and its mission work is carried on either through such members or by establishing regular missions, and as the community and its missionaries are sometimes misrepresented and occasionally misunderstood, I have thought it necessary to add a few words to clear up our position and to explain our attitude towards other communities and sects with whom we come in contact and towards the governments under which we live.

Our relations with the followers of other religions are most peaceful, as we accept the religious teachers of all nations as holy men who were raised by God for the moral and spiritual regeneration of those nations. This is in accordance with the plain teachings of the Quran which says, “There is not a nation but a warner has appeared in it” (35:24). It is true that the names of all the prophets are not mentioned in the Holy Quran, as it says, “And We did send apostles before thee: there are some of them that We have mentioned to thee, and there are others whom We have not mentioned” (40:78). The Holy Quran being so plain that warners were sent to every nation, every Muslim must respect the great religious founders of every nation, such as, Zoroaster in Persia, Rama, Krishna and Buddha in India, Tao and Confucius in China, as the prophets of those nations, besides the prophets whose names are expressly mentioned in the Holy Quran, such as, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. This broad Quranic teaching which the Ahmadiyya community has particularly emphasized lays down the basis of peace and brotherhood among the various nations of the world.

Next to this I take our relations with the different sects of Islam. We equally revere all the companions of the Holy Prophet, all the saints that have appeared in Islam and all the Mujaddids that have been raised in the different centuries of Hijra for the regeneration of the Muslim people. We look upon the different sects of Islam, not as sects in the real sense of the word, but as so many schools of thought, as they are all at one so far as the essentials of religion are concerned. The biggest division of Islam is into Sunni and Shia, yet even the Sunni and the Shia do not differ in the essentials of religion; their basic difference is as to whether Abu Bakr or Ali was the rightful successor of the Holy Prophet, which is more a difference of a political nature than a religious one. We hold Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali in equal reverence, as they all did immense service to the cause of Islam and led simple lives of saints while sitting on the throne of one of the greatest empires of the world. We honour the Sunni saints as well as the Shia Imams. Further, we deem it the gravest sin on the part of any Muslim to call his brother Muslim a kafir, as every one who subscribes to the formula la ilaha illallah Muhammad-ur- Rasul-ullah enters into the fold of Islam, and no one has the right to expel from the great Islamic brotherhood any person who is admitted into it under the authority of God and His Prophet. The strength of Islam lies in its union, and union between the different sects can only be brought about if they learn to respect each other’s leaders and tolerate differences of opinion within the fold of Islam.

The third point I wish to impress here is the attitude of our community towards the Government of the country in which our members live. As our aim and object is to remove the misrepresentations that prevail against Islam and to invite men to accept the great Islamic truths which bring about peace and contentment of mind and establish the brotherhood of man, we do not interfere with political affairs of the Government under which we live. We do not minimize the importance of political struggles in the world, but as a body we keep aloof from political struggles so that we may be able to concentrate all our attention on the great religious object we have in view. As a natural sequence of this attitude our members must be loyal to the Government established by law in any country. They must be loyal to the Muslim Government if they happen to be in a country where the Muslims rule, and they must be loyal to a non-Muslim Government if they are living under a non-Muslim rule. They obey the laws of the State in which they happen to be, and keep aloof from all agitations against that Government. They are loyal to the Arab Government if they are in Arabia, to the Turkish Government if they are in Turkey, to the Persian Government if they are in Persia, to the Afghan Government if they are in Afghanistan, to the Egyptian Government if they are in Egypt, to the Italian Government if they are in Italy, to the French Government if they are in France, to the German Government if they are in Germany, to the American Government if they are in America, and to the British Government if they are in British Territory. But our loyalty and obedience to any government, whether Muslim or non- Muslim, is subject to one condition only – la ta ata li makhluqin fi ma siyat illah, i.e., “No obedience is due to any creature when it involves disobedience to God.” In India where we have our head- quarters and where there are more members of our community than in any other country, we are loyal to the British Government, and while fully sympathising with the national movement, keep aloof from the political agitation that is going on here, and concentrate our whole attention on religious propaganda. It is this fact which is misrepresented by some enemies of our movement, and our community is reviled as though we were the agents of this or that Government. We are loyal to the Government under which we live, we obey its laws, but we are not the agents of any Government; we are not upholders of the cause of any worldly Government. We are the upholders of the cause of God and His Apostle only, the upholders of the cause of Islam and its sacred book, the upholders of the cause of the great Islamic brotherhood which is spread throughout the whole world.

I have only to add that the views expressed here are those of the Ahmadiyya community as represented by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i-Islam, Lahore; the Qadian community is represented by its head at Qadian, and we are not in any way responsible for some of its political views. In fact, it is the political views of the Qadiani community which have given occasion to some of our enemies, to misrepresent the Ahmadiyya community of Lahore.

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