This is the second of our three part series on the Lahori Ahmadi’s. In part one we briefly outlined what we stand for and today we will be explaining in more detail about our beliefs.
This series has been taken from ‘The Ahmadiyya Doctrines’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali.
The Ahmadis are called kafir by some fanatical Mullas. To remove all misunderstanding on this point I give below a summary of the beliefs we hold and leave it to the reader to see for himself whether a person holding these beliefs is a Muslim or a kafir (non-Muslim).
1. We believe in the absolute unity of God. La ilaha illallah (there is no God but Allah) is the first doctrine of our faith.
2. We believe in the prophethood and apostleship of Hazrat Muhammad (saw), may peace and the blessings of God be upon him. Muhammad-ur-Rasul-ullah is the second doctrine of our faith.
3. We believe in the finality of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), in the fact that after raising prophets in every nation of the world, Almighty God raised Hazrat Muhammad (saw), may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, for all the nations of the world, so that prophethood having been brought to perfection with him, no prophet shall come after him. In the words of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, “No prophet, old or new, will come after our Holy Prophet.” The man who denies the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw) must be considered as having no faith in Islam and outside its pale.
4.We believe that the Holy Quran is the Word of God and that it is the final Law revealed for the guidance of humanity so that no law shall be revealed after it.
5.We believe that every word of the Holy Quran shall remain in force till the day of judgment and that not a word contained in the Holy Book has been, or shall ever be, abrogated.
6.We believe in all the prophets of God whose names are mentioned in the Holy Quran and also in the fact that there is no nation in which a prophet was not raised.
7.We believe in the books revealed by God to His Prophets in different ages and among various nations.
8.We believe in angels.
9.We believe in the reward of good and the punishment of evil by God.
10.We believe in the Resurrection and in the Day of Judgment when all men shall be judged according to their deeds.
But unfortunately there has sprung up among the Muslims a class of people who instead of bringing non-Muslims into the fold of Islam declare Muslims to be heretics and non-Muslims, simply because they differ with them in certain non-essentials, and thus while promoting discord and disunity among the Muslims and weakening Islam, they think they are serving the cause of Islam. Some men belonging to this class are exerting themselves to their utmost to make the Muslim public believe that notwithstanding our clear and open acceptance of the doctrines of Islam, the Ahmadis are kafirs. The charges against us are as follows:
1. That we believe in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, as a prophet and therefore really deny the finality of prophethood with Hazrat Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him. We emphatically deny this charge. Hazrat Mirza Sahib himself denied it emphatically when the charge was brought against him. In order to show the baselessness of this charge, I can do no better than reproduce the words of the Mirza Sahib himself:
“It has come to my knowledge that the leading Ulama of this town are giving publicity to the false charge against me that I am a claimant to prophethood and that I do not believe in heaven and hell, nor in the existence of Gabriel, nor in Laila-tul-qadr, nor in the miracles and Miraj of the Holy Prophet. So in the interest of truth, I do hereby publicly declare that all this is a wholesale fabrication. I am not a claimant to prophethood, nor do I disbelieve in miracles, nor in the existence of angels, nor in the Laila-tul-qadr. I believe in all those articles of faith which constitute the doctrines of Islam according to Ahl- i-Sunnat-wal-Jama’at. I believe in all those things that are established truths according to the Holy Quran and the Hadith. And any claimant to prophethood after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, I regard as an impostor and a disbeliever. It is my conviction that the Divine revelation given to prophets began with Adam and came to a close with the Holy Prophet.” (Handbill dated 2nd October 1891.)
All that the Mirza Sahib said is that he was a Muhaddath and that the Muhaddath could be called a Nabi (prophet) metaphorically. This statement was misconstrued as a claim to prophethood which he expressly and emphatically denied.
The Messiah who, it is prophesied, will come among the Muslims in the latter days is spoken of as a prophet in certain sayings of the Holy Prophet, and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement has explained that the word was there used metaphorically. In one of his latest writings, he says, “And I have been called a prophet by God metaphorically and not in the real sense of the word” (Haqiqat-ul-Wahy supplement, p. 64.).
2. That we believe in Divine revelation being granted to righteous men among the followers of the Holy Prophet.
We do believe in this because such is the plain teaching of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet. The Holy Quran says: “And when I granted a revelation to the disciples (of Jesus), saying, Believe in Me and My messenger” (5:111), and again: “And we granted a revelation to Moses’ mother saying, Give him suck, and when thou fearest for him, cast him into the river and do not fear nor grieve; surely We will bring him back to thee and make him one of the messengers” (28:7).
In both places the word used is wahy which is the word for revelation. In both cases the persons to whom God spoke were decidedly not prophets. God’s speaking to non-prophets, granting them a revelatiom from Him, is thus what the Holy Quran teaches so plainly. And if God spoke to others than prophets among the previous people, why should the followers of the greatest of all prophets be deprived of this blessing? And the Holy Prophet has told us in equally plain words: “Surely there were among those that have gone before you, i.e. the Israelites, persons to whom God spoke, though they were not prophets; if there is one such among my followers, it is ‘Umar’” (Bukhari). Explaining this the author of Fath-ul-Bari, Bukhari’s famous commentator, says: “And when it is shown that such people were found among others, the pos- sibility of their being found among them (i.e., the followers of the Holy Prophet) is greater, and this is meant to emphasize this fact”. And again the Holy Prophet said, “There has remained of prophethood nothing but Mubashsharat” (Bukhari) i.e. good news, and in another saying of his the Mubashsharat are called a part of prophethood. And Mujaddid Alf-i-Thani writes, “Know, O friend, God sometimes speaks to man as if he were in front of Him, and this is the case with prophets, on them be peace, and sometimes it also happens in the case of some of their followers who have attained to perfection (Maktubat, No. 51). Will our zealous kafir- makers prepare a fatwa of kufr against Ibn-i-Hajar, the author of Fath-ul-Bari, against the great Mujaddid of Sirhind, and against the thousands of the righteous ones who have claimed that God spoke to them?
3. That we believe that Jesus Christ died a natural death.
That again is plainly taught by the Holy Quran, but admitting that a difference of opinion has existed among the Muslims on this point, the question of the life or death of Jesus Christ or of any other prophet of God, is not one of the fundamentals of Islam, so that a person may be declared a kafir for holding this or that view. Are there not Muslims who believe that Khizr, Idris, and Elijah are alive, and others equally or more learned who hold them to be dead? If a similar difference of opinion exists as to the life or death of Jesus Christ, where is the harm? And is not Imam Malik, one of the four great Imams plainly stated to be a believer in the death of Jesus Christ: “And Malik says, he died” (Majma-ul- Bihar). Will our Ulama have the audacity to declare this great Imam a kafir because he believed in the death of Jesus? More recently a man of the learning and fame of Mufti Muhammad (saw) Abduhu of Egypt has expressed the same belief and there are many learned men in India who hold the same belief.
The question of the death of Jesus Christ is conclusively settled by the Holy Quran which refers to it in plain words on more occasions than one. For instance, it says, “Muhammad (saw) is but an apostle; (all) apostles before him have passed away” (3:144). Now this shows clearly that Jesus was one of the apostles who had passed away before the advent of Muhammad (saw). Again it says “O Jesus! I shall cause thee to die and exalt thee in My presence.” (3: 54). And again, in the Holy Quran Jesus is made to say, when questioned if he had told his followers to take him for God, “I did not say to them aught save what Thou didst enjoin me with, that serve God, my Lord and your Lord, and I was a witness of them so long as I was in their midst, but when Thou didst cause me to die, Thou wast the watcher over them.” (5:117). This is too clear to be misunderstood. According to this verse, the false doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus was not invented so long as Jesus was alive and in the midst of his people. It came there after his death. Hence the verse shows conclusively that Jesus Christ died before the advent of our Holy Prophet. Similarly there are sayings of the Holy Prophet which establish the death of Jesus Christ. According to one saying, “if Moses and Jesus were alive, they could not but have followed me.” According to another, “Jesus lived a hundred and twenty years”. Yet another saying tells us that in the night of Ascension, the Holy Prophet found John and Jesus in one place. Surely the living and the dead could not be together.
4. That we believe that the Miraj of the Holy Prophet was net his bodily ascent to the heavens but his spiritual ascent.
Similar was the belief of Hazrat ‘Ayesha, the learned wife of the Holy Prophet, and of Mu’aviya and many other learned men among the followers of the Holy Prophet. Recently Syed Sulaiman Nadvi has expressed the same view in the third part of the great work on the life of the Holy Prophet which the late Maulana Shibli commenced. The ignorant Mullas who are issuing their fatwas of kufr on such flimsy grounds should know that they are striking at the very root of Islam, by declaring every difference of opinion to be a ground for kufr.
5. That we believe that there have been prophets among the Hindus.
Read the Holy Quran and there you find it stated in the clearest words: “And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them” (35:24); “And certainly We raised in every nation an apostle” (16:36). It also tells us that there have been prophets whose names are not mentioned in the Holy Quran: “And We sent apostles We have mentioned to thee before and apostles We have not mentioned to thee” (4:164). Are not the Hindus a nation, and is it not in accordance with the Holy Quran to believe that there have been prophets among them? And as Rama and Krishna are believed by the Hindus themselves to be their great religious leaders, where is the harm if we hold these personages to be presumably the prophets of this nation? Similar is the case with Buddha. The Holy Quran has laid the basis of universal peace among men of all creeds and colours not only by stating that prophets appeared among all the nations of the world, but also by further making it a doctrine of faith with the Muslim that he should believe in the prophets who passed away before its revela- tion. And it is this feature of Islam that has appealed to the followers of every religion, so that there have come over to Islam, Jews and Christians and Zoroastrians and Hindus and Buddhists and the followers, of Confucius in millions.
6. That we believe that hell is not everlasting.
Here are some of the hadith of the Holy Prophet: “Surely a day will come over hell when it will be like a field of corn that has dried up after flourishing for a while”; “Surely a day will come over hell when there shall not be a single human being in it” (Kanzul ‘Ummal, Vol, VII, p. 245). And there is Hazrat Umar’s saying: “Even if the dwellers in hell are numberless as the sands of the desert, a day will surely come when they will be taken out of it” (Fath-ul-Bayan). And Ibn-i-Taimiyya quotes a large number of companions and tab-i’in who held the belief that hell would ultimately be destroyed (see Fath-ul-Bayan).
7. That we believe that the ordinance of Jihad has been abrogated
That is not true. What we say is only this that killing non-Muslims because they do not accept Islam is not Jihad. Yet this is what the blind critics of Islam say and this is what some of its blind followers still believe. They do not care for the Holy Quran which says in plain words: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). They do not care for the Holy Prophet who never in his life killed any person simply because he was a non-Muslim. Nor did he ever say that a man could be killed for his belief, however erroneous it may be. The Muslim Jihad is thus described in the Holy Quran: “And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you” (2:190). It was the opponents who first took up the sword to kill the Muslims and to uproot Islam, and the permission to fight was given to the Muslims only as a measure of self-defence and to establish religious liberty: “Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and surely Allah is well able to assist them: those who have been expelled from their homes without just cause except that they say, our Lord is Allah. And had there not been Allah’s repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters, and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered” (22:39, 40). Islam is the only religion that has enjoined fighting to save the Muslim places of worship along with the non-Muslim ones. In other words, its Jihad was meant only to establish liberty. We believe in Jihad as ordained by the Holy Quran but not in killing people on the score of religion which is the Mulla’s conception of Jihad. At the same time we hold that the conditions under which war may be waged against non-Muslims do riot exist in India at the present time and this is exactly what Mirza Sahib wrote. He never said that the Quranic injunction regarding fighting with unbelievers was abrogated. No; no Ahmadi holds the belief that a single word of the Holy Quran has been or shall ever be abrogated.
8. That we do not believe that the Holy Quran contains verses which were abrogated by others.
It is rather strange that those who consider some of the Quranic verses to be abrogated, as many as five hundred according to some, and thus do not accept the Holy Quran in its entirety, should yet be good Muslims, while those who accept the Holy Quran from beginning to end as binding for all time, should be kafirs. But the Holy Quran does not say that any portion of it was ever abrogated. Nay, it denies that one of its verses abrogates another, because it says clearly that there are no discrepancies in it, while the doctrine of abrogation in the Holy Quran is based on the fact that one verse cannot be reconciled with another. If there is no discrepancy in the Holy Quran, then there is no abrogation, and if there is abrogation, there must be discrepancies in it. But what does the Holy Book say: “Do they not then meditate on the Quran? And if it were from any other than God, they would have found in it many a discrepancy” (4:82). Yes, it was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another, and therefore to be abrogated by that other. But the Holy Quran says plainly that there is no discrepancy in it and therefore no abrogation. It speaks of the abrogation of previous scriptures because a more complete Divine message had taken their place, and it is an error to think that it speaks of the abrogation of its own verses. Here are the two passages of the Holy Book on which this error is based: And when We change one message for another message, and Allah knows best what He reveals, they say, You are only a forger” (16:101); “Whatever communication We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it ” (2:106). Clearly in both places, the abrogation of the previous scriptures is meant. Nor is there a single reliable saying of the Holy Prophet that any verse of the Holy Quran was abrogated.
9. That we believe that Jesus Christ had “a father just as others have”.
To say that God had a father or a son was denounced as kufr by the Holy Quran, and the Mulla indeed raises Jesus to the dignity of Godhead when he declares a man kafir for saying that Jesus had a father. What if one should say that Jesus had a wife and children as other prophets had? Jesus Christ was a man, the Holy Quran says, but the Mulla is infuriated when any mortal quality is attri- buted to him. It only depends on what interpretation one puts on certain words of the Holy Quran, and those who believe that Jesus had a father and those who say that he had not, are equally good Muslims. It may be added, however, that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement is among the latter.
10. That we accept Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian as a Mujaddid (Reformer) of the fourteenth century of Hijra, and further that we accept that Mujaddid as the Messiah and the Mahdi promised to the Muslims.
We fail to understand how the acceptance of a person as a Mujaddid or reformer among the Muslims becomes a ground of heresy or apostacy. If the Holy Prophet has promised that a Mujaddid would appear among the Muslims every hundred years, and if admittedly righteous and great men have claimed to be Mujaddid, not the acceptance but rejection of the Mujaddid should be a sin. Ibn-i-Maja reports that the Holy Prophet said: “Most surely Allah will raise for this Ummah (i.e., the Muslims) with the opening of every new century one who will bring about the revival of their religion.” The authenticity of this hadith is borne evidence to by the huffaz (those learned in hadith,) and the promise given has seen its fulfilment century after century. Among those who were called to this high office, the name of Syed Ahmad of Sirhind, better known by his title of Mujaddid Alf- i-Thani (lit. the reformer of the second thousand or the eleventh century of Hijra), is of household fame in India. He advanced this very hadith of the Holy Prophet in support of his claim, and though the Ulama of the time, as usual, declared him a kafir in his day, he is now admitted by the whole of Muslim India, even Muslim Afganistan, to be the Mujaddid. If then the Ahmadis have accepted the only man who said he had been called to the high office of a Mujaddid for the fourteenth century of Hijra, and who was the only man who stood up as the champion of Islam against all its adversaries, they have done what the Muslims have been doing before this, and what every Muslim ought to do even now; they have obeyed the Holy Prophet who promised them a Mujaddid; and with all their zeal for declaring Muslims to be kafirs, the Ulama are unable to point out another Mujaddid of the present century. Must the saying of the Prophet be thrown away simply because some misguided Ulama cannot see aright? Or has the promise of the Holy Prophet failed after thirteen centuries? Which party is in the wrong: the one that accepts the Mujaddid and thus also the Holy Prophet’s promise or the one that rejects him and along with him the saying of the Holy Prophet?
If the Ahmadis accept Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian to be the Mujaddid of the 14th century of Hijra, they have only done what the whole of Muslim India did when his claim was first announced in 1882. His claim to Mujaddidship was not contested by anybody for about nine years. The change came in 1891 when he declared that he was commissioned to remove two great errors which prevailed among the Muslims and which were a serious hindrance in the onward march of Islam. It was then that he was denounced as a kafir; till then he was generally accepted as the Mujaddid. These two errors were, firstly the generally prevailing belief that Jesus Christ was alive in the heavens and that he would again appear on earth for the guidance of humanity, and secondly that Islam would be propagated by the promised Mahdi by means of the sword. The first of these errors gave Christianity a great advantage against Islam on account of which the Muslims went over to Christianity in large numbers, while Islam was unable to make any headway against Christianity, and the second made the propagation of Islam simply impossible anywhere in the world.
The Mujaddid of the fourteenth century was entrusted with the work of blotting out these two errors from the fair face of Islam, so that it might win its way to the hearts of non- Muslims, and out of this arose his claim to Messiahship and Mahdiship. So far from the claim to Messiahship and Mahdiship being a ground of kufr, it is the only feature of the Mujaddid’s claim which inspires his followers with true zeal to spread Islam in the world, and with sure faith that Islam shall ultimately be the predominant religion of the world. The Muslims were no doubt promised a Messiah and a Mahdi who should appear at the hour of Islam’s trial, and set the Muslims on the path leading to the triumph of the religion of Islam in the world. But there was a great misconception as to the real import of this prophecy, and it was generally thought that the promised triumph of Islam would be brought about through its political ascendancy, and hence the belief became general that the Messiah and the Mahdi would fight with the non-Muslims and convert them all to Islam. Now this is against the plain teachings,of the Holy Quran: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” The truth is just the other way. The political ascendance of Islam must follow its spiritual supremacy. Religion is an appeal to the heart and its mission is therefore to conquer the hearts, but the heart can never be conquered with the sword. Hence the Mujaddid was the Mahdi, and he was entrusted with the work of establishing the superiority of Islam by arguments, thus dealing a death-blow to the sword-theory. And the second advent of Jesus Christ was simply untenable. Apart from the fact that the Holy Quran plainly speaks of the death of Jesus Christ, his re-appearance is barred by the finality of prophethood with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). If a prophet – and Jesus Christ was a prophet – should come after him, he cannot be the last of prophets. And the prophecy of the second advent of Jesus Christ could be as well fulfilled by the appearance of a man in his spirit and power, as the prophecy of the second advent of Elijah was fulfilled by the appearance of John the Baptist who appeared in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Thus it was that, bearing resemblance to Jesus Christ and removing the error connected with his name, the Mujaddid was raised to the dignity of Messiahship. And the belief that the Promised Messiah and Mahdi has appeared, fills the heart of every Ahmadi with the faith that the hour of Islam’s greatest trial is over and that Islam must now become the triumphant religion of the world. The man who was to set the Muslims on the right path after they had strayed away from the teachings of Islam, has come; the Divine promise has been fulfilled; and we have now only to exert ourselves to achieve success. Hence it is that the Ahmadis are working solely for one end and that is to remove all misunderstandings about Islam and to reveal the Holy Quran in its great glory to the whole world. While the Muslims in general yet wait for him through whom Islam must become the triumphant religion of the world, the Ahmadis’ hearts are aglow with certainty that the hour of the promise, the time of the triumph of Islam, has already come, and it is this faith and this hope that give them the strength to make any sacrifice that is required of them in furtherance of the cause of Islam. Hence it is that the acceptance of the Mujaddid and the Promised Messiah and Mahdi makes the Ahmadis work with such zeal for the propagation of Islam.
Before concluding this statement of our beliefs I would add here that the spirit to declare Muslims Kafir is doing immense harm to the cause of Islam, and the world of Islam can never have the strength which unity alone can give until it recognises that the acceptance of the unity of God and of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw) is the real basis of the community and brotherhood of Islam. Any one who accepts the Kalima, La ilaha illallah Muhammad-ur-Rasul-ullah, i.e. There is no God but Allah and Muhammad (saw) is His Apostle, is a Muslim though he may have a thousand differences with his other brethren. It is for this great truth, for this liberal interpretation of Islam, that the Ahmadiyya Movement stands, and the sooner this truth is recognised by the Muslims, the better it would be for their welfare. Another great truth for which the Ahmadiyya Movement stands is, that without rejecting hadith of the Holy Prophet or the Ijtihad of the great Imams, it gives the foremost place to the Holy Quran in the life of a Muslim. The Quran is the original source of light and life for the Muslims, but a wrong sense of proportion has thrown it into the background, both in the individual and communal life of the Muslims. The Ahmadis place the Quran in the fore-front of all things, and seek light from it before resorting to hadith or Ijtihad . They accept hadith but not when it goes against the Quran; they accept Ijtihad but not when it is against the Quran or the hadith.