ISLAMIC BELIEFS AND TEACHINGS
The religion of Islam provides a complete code of law and guidance.
In this chapter, you will find a brief summary of the basic teachings
and explanations of some terms. The very basic principles, the Articles
of Faith, and the Pillars of Islam are briefly described, as are some other concepts in Islam.
The status and mission of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) are introduced, and a description of the different
sects in Islam is given. An explanation of the coming of the Promised
Messiah and the Ahmadiyya Movement is presented.
As you become more involved with the study or practice of Islam, you
will encounter many new words and principles and may wish to explore
them further. The end of each chapter provides a list of books for more
in-depth study of its contents. The final chapter of the book contains
further references for future study.
It is important to note that practically all of the terminology used
in Islam is in Arabic, as in the Holy Qur'an. For the purpose of your
clear understanding, each term is listed both in Arabic and English.
Islam (an Arabic word meaning "peace and submission") is the name given
by God Almighty (Allah) to the religion revealed by Him to the Holy
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) through the
Holy Qur'an. It means the attainment of peace through the surrender
of one's will to the Will of Allah. One who so submits and follows the
laws of Islam is called a Muslim.
OBJECT OF HUMAN CREATION
Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
"And I have not created the Jinn and men but that they may worship Me."
The true purpose of a human being's life is the worship of God, the
attainment of His understanding and complete devotion to Him. He should
follow Him perfectly as a slave follows his master. Allah has created
human beings with the faculties that are appropriate for this aim, and
revealed the Qur'an so that he may seek Allah through it. Thus, a Muslim's
first duty is to His Creator; to worship Him and to follow His commands.
This is known as "Haqu-Allah." His second duty is to serve humanity,
"Haqul-Ibaad," for this is part of worship. A Muslim can show his love
for His Creator by expressing love and compassion for all His creation.
THE ARTICLES OF FAITH (IMAN)
These are the six fundamental principles of faith which form the basis
for a Muslim's belief, practice and understanding of Islam. The Holy
Qur'an states that one should believe in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels,
His books and His prophets. It also states that Allah alone determines
His Decree. (See Holy Qur'an, 2:178; 25:3)
1. Unity of Allah (Tauheed)
Acknowledgment of the Oneness of Allah is the most important principle
of Islam, being the cornerstone of the faith and the basis for salvation.
The most emphasized aspect of Allah in Islam is His Unity. The Kalimah
Tayyeba is the basic doctrine of Islam. It is:
"La ilaha ilAllaho Muhammadur rasoolAllah."
There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.
To deny Allah's Oneness and to associate any other with Him (shirk)
is the gravest sin in Islam. He is the sole Creator of the universe,
and nothing can occur in it without His knowledge and His consent. One
whole chapter of the Holy Qur'an (Sura Al-Ikhlas) is devoted exclusively
to Allah's Oneness:
"Say, He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Independent and Besought of
all. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto
2. Angels (Malai'kah)
Islam requires belief in angels. They are spiritual beings created
by Allah to obey Him and carry out His commandments. Unlike man, angels
have no free will and cannot act independently. They control the forces
of nature by Allah's command. Also by Allah's command angels serve as
intermediaries in carrying out His will. In this sense they are also
referred to as messengers (rasool) of Allah. Indeed, amongst their tasks
are: to bring divine revelations to the prophets; bring punishment on
the prophets' enemies; pray for and give glad tidings to believers;
glorify Allah with His praise; and keep records of man's deeds.
Four of the most well known angels are: Gabriel (Jibraeel), Michael
(Mikaeel), Raphael (Israfeel) and Israel (Israeel).
3. Books (Kutub)
Muslims believe that Allah revealed His laws in stages to mankind through
His prophets, and therefore accept the Torah of Moses (peace be on him),
the Psalms of David (peace be on him) and the Gospel (Injeel) of Jesus
(peace be on him) as holy books, as well as the sacred scriptures of
all other messengers of Allah. However, Muslims believe that all such
revelations were limited to a specific time and people and are not preserved
in their original purity, but subject to distortions. All the Holy Scriptures
culminated in, and were perfected in, the Holy Qur'an (just as all religion
was perfected in Islam). The Holy Qur'an says:
"This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor
on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion." (5:30)
4. Prophets (Anbiya)
All of Allah's prophets or messengers (rasool) are believed in and
revered by Muslims. The Holy Qur'an states that Allah raised up prophets
among the people of every nation, sending Divine messages and warnings
through these holy men. It says:
"... and there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent." (35:25)
Some of the prophets specifically mentioned in the Holy Qur'an are:
Adam, Elisha, Job, David, Ezekiel, Hud, Abraham, Elijah, Jesus, Isaac,
Ishmael, Luqman, Noah, Salih, Solomon, Jonah, John
the Baptist, Jacob, Joseph and Muhammad. There are many others as Allah
says in the Holy Qur'an:
"And We did send messengers before thee; of them are some whom We have
mentioned to thee, and of them there are some whom We have not mentioned
to thee;..." (40:79)
Muslims are directed to make no distinction among these, and to accept
them all. However, just as Muslims believe that the Holy Qur'an was
sent to all mankind, encompassing the teachings of earlier scriptures,
so also Muslims believe that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him) is the greatest and the Seal of all the prophets,
having been sent not to just one nation but to all nations and thus
to all mankind.
5. TheDay of
One of the most emphasized beliefs in the Holy Qur'an is the belief
in the Day of Judgement. Islam teaches that physical death is not the
end of man's existence, rather it is the door to a higher form of life
which can bring one closer to Allah, depending on one's deeds in this
life. According to the Holy Qur'an, on the Day of Judgement this entire
universe will come to an end, and the dead will be resurrected. Their
deeds will be judged and they will be rewarded accordingly. Those with
good records will merit Heaven, while those with bad deeds will be punished
in Hell. No intercession will be accepted, each soul will be rewarded
according to what it earns. However, Hell is a temporary condition and
eventually its inhabitants will leave it.
The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) has explained life in the hereafter
in this way:
"The Holy Qur'an has repeatedly affirmed that the life after death
is not a new phenomenon and all its manifestations are reflections of
this life. It has also stated that in the Hereafter all the spiritual
conditions of this world will be manifested physically, both in the
intermediate state and in the resurrection. Further it has emphasized
that there will be unlimited progress in the hereafter. In short, according
to the Holy Qur'an, hell and heaven are both reflections of a man's
life, and are not something new that comes from outside,... and will
be but reflections of the spiritual conditions of man in this life."
(The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam)
6. DivineDecree (Taqdir)
Muslims believe that Divine Decree controls the eventual outcome of
all actions in this universe. It is the law or measure of a thing with
regard to its growth and development. In the Holy Qur'an the term is
explained as a universal law of Allah which is working through the whole
of creation, extending throughout the universe. (See Holy Qur'an 87:1-4).
Within the boundaries of Divine Decree, man is given free will.
Other Important Beliefs of Muslims
Apart from the six fundamental beliefs already discussed, there are
many other important beliefs in Islam. Some of them are:
- Muslims believe that every person is born innocent and free from
sin. Only when he reaches maturity of understanding and can distinguish
between right and wrong, does he become accountable for his actions.
- Muslims believe that Allah does not hold anyone responsible unless
He has shown him the right way. Allah has always sent messengers and
revelations before inflicting His punishment on people.
- Muslims are required to follow their faith with reasoning and understanding,
not blindly. A person should use his powers of reasoning and reflect
in his heart on Allah's teachings.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
The five pillars of Islam represent the principle acts of worship which
are required to practice the faith. Observance and practice of these
acts is obligatory for all Muslims. They are:
1. Declaration of Faith (Kalimah Shahadah)
This is the first and foremost pillar of Islam and every other belief
flows from it. A believer declares his acceptance of Islam by reciting:
"Ash-hado an-la ilaha ilAllaho wa ash-hado anna Muhammadan abdohu wa
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that
Muhammad is His servant and His messenger.
Prayer is the basic and most important means by which man communicates
with Allah and draws near Him. Its importance cannot be emphasized enough.
The Islamic concept of prayer is a direct pouring forth of the soul
by the supplicant before the Divine Majesty. There is no need for, nor
does Islam tolerate an intermediary between God and man. Prayer brings
solace and comfort to the human mind and soul, lifting them up from
a lowly state to unsurpassed heights. Islam also assures the believer
that his prayers are heard. The Holy Qur'an says:
"When My servants ask thee concerning Me, say: I am near. I answer
the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken
to Me and have believe in Me, that they may follow the right way." (2:187)
Prayer also rids the believer of the bondage of sin and purifies the
heart. The Holy Qur'an says:
"Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and observe
Prayer. Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil,
and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest virtue." (29:46)
The most important form of prayer in Islam is the salaat, the ritualistic
daily prayer. Salaat has been prescribed five times a day, with set
times for each prayer. Adherence to salaat with all its prescribed rituals
is the most repeated injunction of the Holy Qur'an. The five daily prayers
of salaat are:
- Morning (Fajr). This prayer should be offered
in the morning about one hour before sunrise. It is forbidden to pray
while the sun is rising, because that may give the appearance of sun
- Midday (Zuhr). The time for
this prayer is early afternoon, starting with the decline of the sun
to mid afternoon.
- Afternoon (Asr). Prayer is said in late afternoon
but no later than half an hour before sunset.
- Sunset (Maghrib). This prayer should be observed
shortly after sunset. It must not be said while the sun is setting.
- Nighttime (Isha). Isha prayer should be offered
after nightfall when it is dark. It can be said up to midnight.
These prayers should be performed at their appropriate times and preferably
in congregation. However if it is impossible for the afternoon prayers
to be offered at their proper times, it is permissible to combine the
Zuhr and Asrprayer. The Maghrib and Isha prayers
may also be combined if necessary. For more information on salaat in
daily life, please see Chapter 4.
In addition to salaat which is compulsory for believers, Muslims may
offer voluntary prayers (nawafil). The most important of these is Tahajjud,
which literally means the giving up of sleep. It is offered during the
latter part of the night, and Tahajjud is specifically mentioned in
the Holy Qur'an as very beneficial for man's spiritual development and
a method to gain nearness to Allah. (See Holy Qur'an, 17:79). The Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is reported to have
gotten up regularly after midnight and to pass almost half the latter
part of the night in Tahajjud prayers.
Islam also provides prayers for every need and occasion. Another form
of prayer is remembrance of Allah throughout the day (Zikre-illahi).
To remember Allah and ponder over His attributes brings one nearer to
Him. In addition a Muslim may pray silently to Allah at any time. This
is known as dua.
For further information on the form, parts and posture of salaat, see
the Muslim Prayer Book or videotape on salaat.
3. Fasting during
The third act of worship in Islam is the fasting during the Islamic
month of Ramadhan by all able adult Muslims. By fasting, a Muslim can
purify himself spiritually and physically, elevate his soul and obtain
nearness to Allah. To fast is to abstain from food, drink, smoking and
conjugal relations from dawn to sunset. Sacrificing of physical needs
increases a Muslim's awareness of the suffering of the poor and needy.
Ramadhan was appointed by God for this spiritual exercise. It was the
month during which the Holy Qur'an was first revealed to the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
The Holy Qur'an allows exemption from fasting to the elderly, the chronically
sick and children. They may make up for fasting by feeding the poor.
Temporary exemption is permitted to those traveling, the sick, pregnant
and nursing women and menstruating women. They are expected to make
up the fasts at a later time.
As an additional effort, Muslims devote as much of their time as possible
to the recitation of the Holy Qur'an and reflecting upon its meanings.
4. Tax on Wealth
Zakaat is the fourth pillar of Islam, which can more appropriately be
called the purification of wealth. It is a kind of tax which requires
a Muslim to give up a certain amount of his possessions (2% rate on
a yearly basis) for the upkeep of the poor and those who have no earning
capacity; for the destitute; for travelers in need; for those serving
in the way of Islam, for those fighting in the way of Allah; for slaves
to buy their freedom; and for benevolent works. The amount varies according
to the type of property owned. The tax can be levied on land, livestock,
and liquid assets (gold, silver, stocks, and bonds etc.).
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is the pilgrimage to Mecca which a
Muslim who is able bodied and has the means is required to perform at
least once in his lifetime. It is an elaborate series of religious rites
which extend over several days for their accomplishment, performed at
the Holy Kaabahin Mecca (Arabia)
and other special holy sites. The central feature of this pilgrimage
is the Kaabah, which is believed by Muslims to be the first house built
for the worship of One God. It was rebuilt by the Prophet Abraham (peace
be on him) and his son Ishmael, and later by the Holy Prophet himself.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) himself performed
this pilgrimage. Historical records show that prophets before the Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) also performed pilgrimage.
The Hajj serves as a striking reminder of the Oneness of Allah and it
emphasizes the brotherhood and equality of human beings, as well as
the importance of man's willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake
of his Creator.
ISLAMIC LAW / JURISPRUDENCE (FIQAH)
Fiqah or Shariarefers to the religious laws which guide Muslims in
the practical living of their daily lives. There are three sources of
Islamic law: the Holy Qur'an, the Sunnah and the Hadith.
1. The Holy Qur'an
The Holy Qur'an is the Holy Word of Allah conveyed to the Holy Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) by Divine revelation,
over a period of 23 years. It is the sacred scripture of Islam which
opens up the true and perfect path to salvation. It contains a complete
code of teachings and laws suitable to the needs of every age and provides
the means for the spiritual and moral development of all mankind, as
well as providing the remedy for its ills. The Holy Qur'an explains
the true purpose for man's existence, which is to worship and serve
Allah, his Creator, and to attain nearness to Him.
The Holy Qur'an is organized into chapters and verses. There are one
hundred and fourteen chapters. A chapter is called a "sura"; each one
having a specific name and a varying number of verses. Verses are called
"ayah."Quotations from the Holy Qur'an are given as the chapter number
followed by the verse number. For the purpose of completing the Qur'an
during the holy month of Ramadhan it has been divided
into thirty parts.
2. Practice of the Holy Prophet (Sunnah)
Sunnah is the transformation of the laws and teachings of the Holy
Qur'an into action by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him). By demonstrating the Word of God in a practical
way, he simplified the problems of day to day living. He was the perfect
exemplar of a true believer's way of life; a perfect model for his followers
and for all mankind.
3. Sayings of the Holy Prophet
Hadith means the words actually spoken by the Holy Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be on him), or words that describe an observed incident
related to his life. Hadith, which encompass every aspect of Islamic
teachings and philosophy, were narrated by his close companions and
compiled for the benefit of his followers and posterity. There are many
compilations of Hadith. However, six are considered to be the most genuine
and authentic. These are the compilations by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi,
Abu Daud, Ibn Majah and Nisai.
THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)
was the greatest of Allah's prophets, and the last of the law-bearing
prophets. The Holy Qur'an, the final revealed Book of Allah,
was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years.
He was sent by Allah as a messenger to all of mankind, as stated in
the Holy Qur'an:
"We have sent thee as a messenger to all mankind. Sufficient is Allah
as a Witness." (4:80)
Born in 570 A. D. in Mecca, Arabia, and orphaned at a very young age,
Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) grew into manhood
exhibiting such sterling qualities of truthfulness, integrity and piety
that he became known throughout the land as the Trustworthy One (Al
Ameen). When, at the age of forty, he was called to Prophethood by Allah,
he immediately devoted his life to Allah's service and to the universal
spread of Islam. After enduring thirteen years of unimaginable suffering
at the hand of the fledgling religion's enemies, the Prophet and his
followers left Mecca. Under Divine guidance he migrated to Medinah,
where the first Muslim community (Ummah)was established. During the
next ten years, the Holy Prophet's enemies continued their efforts to
wipe out the new faith and its adherents, but were completely unsuccessful.
Islam spread rapidly, and when the Holy Prophet returned to Mecca ten
years after his migration, it was in triumph with ten thousand followers.
Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) forgave those who
had opposed him and continued to propagate the teachings of Islam far
and wide. At the time of his death in 632 A. D. in Medina, Islam had
spread throughout Arabia.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) left two legacies
for mankind: the Holy Qur'an, from whose teachings the religion of Islam
was established; and his life, which stands as the perfect model for
all who seek nearness to their Creator. He perfectly demonstrated all
the various phases of man's life: a model for the young and old, for
parents and children; for friends, kinsmen and neighbors; for ruler
and citizen, and for commander and saint. The followers of other prophets
have claimed them to be model men, but only the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be on him) proclaimed himself to be a model for
all mankind. Only he had a Divine proclamation declaring him to be as
such. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
"You have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar, for him who
hopes to meet with Allah and the Last Day, and who remembers Allah much."
The word "Khalifa"means successor, vicegerent, substitute, or deputy.
The Holy Qur'an has mentioned three types of Khalifa:
- Khalifasof Allah, who are prophets such as Hadhrat Adam and Hadhrat
- Prophets who are the Khalifas of another and a greater prophet such
as the Israelite Prophets who all were the Khalifas of Moses. (5:45)
- Non-Prophet Khalifasof a Prophet, with or without temporal powers,
such as godly people learned in the Law. Their
mission is to protect and preserve the law from being tampered with.
After the death of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
on him), the third type of Khilafat was established by Allah. It was
known as the Khilafate Rashida (the righteous Khilafat). The mission
of these Khalifasis to protect the Law, and to bring people back to
the right path. The special signs and characteristics of these Khalifas
- they are appointed Khalifas through God's Decree in the sense that
the hearts of the believers become inclined towards them and they
voluntarily accept them as their Khalifas.
- the religion which their mission is to serve becomes firmly established
through their prayers and missionary efforts;
- they enjoy peace of mind amidst hardships, privations and persecution
which nothing can disturb; and
- they worship God alone, i.e., in discharging their great responsibilities
they fear no one and they carry on their duties undaunted by the difficulties
in their way.
The khalifa should fortify the spiritual organization set up by him
and protect it from the enemies of Islam. Only a person whose life closely
paralleled that of the Holy Prophet in terms of spirituality, piety
and knowledge could be appointed his Khalifa. Accordingly, Hadhrat Abu
Bakr, the closest companion of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him), was named his first successor. Hadhrat Abu Bakr
was followed by three other close and worthy companions; Hadhrat Umar,
Hadhrat Usman, and Hadhrat Ali. These four khalifas are known as the
"rightly guided successors" (Khalifate Rashideen). After the passing
of Hadhrat Ali, many factions sprung up among the Muslims, and the appointment
of the khalifabecame a dynastic succession of the ruling families.
The institution of Khilafat was restored to its previous position in
this century after the death of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him),
with all the Divinely ordained conditions that accompanied the Righteous
Khilafat. (See later in this chapter).
SECTS IN ISLAM
Anyone reading a newspaper or listening to the media today is aware
that many different Islamic groups exist throughout the Muslim world.
These groups, known as sects, differ with one another on the interpretation
of some Islamic beliefs and their practice.
The development of sects within Islam began very early in Islamic history.
In fact, upon the death of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be on him) and the appointment of the first Khalifa, Hadhrat Abu
Bakr, differences in the community began to surface almost immediately.
These differences and disagreements heightened to such a degree that
the unity of the Islamic community was threatened. Indeed, within thirty
years, the followers of Islam split and separated into two different
sects. These are:
1. The Sunnis
This is the main sect of Muslims today. About 85% of the world's Muslims
are Sunnis. They accept the authority of the Khilafate Rashideen (the
rightly guided successors) and follow closely the custom and practice
(sunnah) of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
They adhere to the Islamic law (Sharia) as interpreted by the four well-known
jurists and Imams: Malik bin Anas, Abu Hanifa, Muhammad bin Idries al
Shafi and Ahmad bin Hanbal.
2. The Shias
The Shias form a separate faction, originating from their belief that
only Hadhrat Ali was the legitimate successor to the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be on him). Hadhrat Ali was the cousin
and also son-in-law of the Holy Prophet, and Shias
believe this blood relationship entitled only Ali and his descendants
to inherit the spiritual "mantle" of the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be on him). They disown the three other
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) foretold of
such divisions among his followers, and indeed, there are now seventy-three
sects in Islam. Some important sects and their relationship with the
two mainstream sects are:
Sunni Stream of Islam:
Shia Stream of Islam:
Seveners: Nizaris (Ismailis)
Ahmadiyyat is a sect of Islam, and not a new religion. It is, in fact,
the renaissance of Islam. It is a movement, entirely within the fold
of Islam, founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, in 1889. He
claimed to be the Messiah and Mahdi whose coming was foretold by the
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). His followers
are called Ahmadi Muslims.
Ahmadi Muslims strictly follow the orthodox religion of Islam and have
not added or taken out anything as far as the fundamental beliefs and
acts of worship are concerned. The most important distinction between
Ahmadis and other Muslims is Ahmadi's acceptance of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
(peace be on him) as the Promised Messiah, and his Divine mission to
revive faith in Allah, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him) and the Holy Qur'an.
Ahmadi Muslims have the same kind of enthusiasm for Islam as the early
followers of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
They are devoted to the service of Islam and the spread of its teachings
throughout the world. Ahmadis believe that the Promised Messiah's mission
was also to cleanse Islam of the errors and superstitious customs that
had crept in over fourteen centuries, and they practice Islam the way
it was practiced at the time of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him).
There are three areas where the beliefs of Ahmadi Muslims differ from
that of other Sunni Muslims. These are:
1. The Interpretation of the Finality of Hadhrat Muhammad's Prophethood
In the Holy Qur'an (see 33:41), Allah bestowed the title "Khatam-al-Nabiyyin"(the
Seal of Prophets) on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him). Non-Ahmadi Muslims interpret the verse to mean that there can
be no prophet of any kind after Hadhrat Muhammad (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him), that the door of revelation has closed forever
and that Allah will never speak directly to His servants again.
Ahmadi Muslims, on the other hand believe that Allah reveals Himself
and speaks to His created beings and will continue to do so till the
end of time. Ahmadis interpret "Seal of Prophets" as a mark of distinction
which implies great perfection of prophethood. They believe that prophethood
will continue, but that there will never be any new law-bearing prophet
after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Any
prophet coming after him must be his follower and, therefore, come from
the fold of Islam. This is what the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him) himself prophesied, when he foretold the coming
of Isa ibn Maryam from among his followers to rejuvenate Islam in the
latter days. Ahmadis believe that this prophecy has been fulfilled in
the coming of the Promised Messiah.Non-Ahmadi Muslims
also believe this prophecy, but still await its fulfillment.
2. Jesus Christ's
Ascension to Heaven
The differences between Ahmadi Muslims and non-Ahmadi Muslims regarding
Jesus (peace be on him) are quite significant. Many non-Ahmadis believe
that Jesus was never put on the cross and that his place was taken by
someone who resembled him. According to them, Jesus was physically lifted
up into the heavens where he waits for his return to earth as the second
Ahmadis believe that Jesus was put on the cross, but did not die on
it. He was unconscious when taken down from the cross, having been nailed
to it for only a few hours. He was nursed back to health by his close
companions, and then traveled east to Kashmir, a northern province of
India. There, he fulfilled his actual mission which was to preach to
the lost tribes of Israel. He died a natural death at a considerable
old age and his tomb can be found in Srinigar, Kashmir, India.
3. The Coming of the Promised Messiah
All Muslims believe that in the Latter days a Reformer (Messiah and
Mahdi) would appear and restore the religion of Islam to its former
glory. There are many Hadithwhich refer to the coming of the Reformer,
and present signs for his advent. This Reformer is referred to by various
titles in the Hadith, such as "Messiah," "Mahdi" and "Jesus, son
Non-Ahmadi Muslims have adopted the belief that as Jesus did not die
but ascended bodily to heaven, he will return as the Messiah in the
latter days of Islam. They also claim that the Mahdi (who they believe
is a different person and would be from the fold of Islam) will spread
Islam with a sword and wage war on all those who disbelieve.
Ahmadi Muslims reject this interpretation. They believe that Jesus has
already died as all mortals must, and thus he cannot return. They interpret
the second advent of Jesus (peace be on him) as a spiritual event, similar
to the second coming of Elijah, as explained by Jesus himself. Just
as John the Baptist had come fulfilling the prophecy of the second coming
of Elijah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) has come fulfilling
the prophecy of the second advent of Jesus (peace be on him). Ahmadis
believe the Mahdi and Messiah are one and the same person, and that
person is Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. He came to revitalize
the religion of Islam and his sword was his pen, with which he asserted
the truth and superiority of Islam.
Hadhrat Ahmad (peace be on him ) was called "Jesus, son of Mary" because
of many similarities in their missions: neither was a law-bearing prophet;
Jesus followed Moses (peace be on him) after 1400 years and came to
revitalize Judaism, while Hadhrat Ahmad's mission was to revitalize
the teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on
him) after 1400 years; both were rejected by the scholars of their faith;
and both emphasized the "jamali," i.e, the gentler aspects of their
THE PROMISED MESSIAH, HADHRAT MIRZA GHULAM AHMAD
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) was the founder of
the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam and was the Promised Messiah of the
latter days. Born in 1835 in Qadian, India, his life
greatly mirrored that of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him). He became acclaimed from an early age for his truthfulness,
piety and integrity. His knowledge of Islam and his devoted defense
of it against all critics was renowned. However, when he declared himself
to be the Promised Messiah under Divine guidance in 1889, those that
had revered him now attacked him. Undaunted, he continued his claim
to be the Messiah as foretold by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be on him), and the prophecies of the Holy Qur'an and Bible.
In fact, he fulfilled all the existing prophecies concerning the advent
of a reformer in the latter days. He also emphasized that his purpose
in being appointed by Allah was to bring new life to the religion of
Islam, which had become polluted and corrupted over the ages, and to
establish its supremacy over all other religions. He brought no new
teachings, but was the most devoted follower and servant of the Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had said:
"I swear by Him Who has power over my soul, a time shall come when the
son of Mary shall appear among you. He will be a just judge and will
break the cross and destroy the swine and will set aside a war."
This hadithhas been fulfilled by Hadhrat Ahmad (peace be on him). He
broke the cross by showing that Jesus died a natural death and that
the Christian doctrines of Atonement and Trinity have no foundation.
He destroyed the "swine" by founding the Ahmadiyya Movement, whose members
have sworn to lead pure and simple lives and to keep themselves away
from all vices. His mission was to show the beauties of Islam by peaceful
means, by learned discussion, arguments, and writings, not by the sword.
To this end he wrote more than eighty books during his lifetime, in
four different languages.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) died in 1908, leaving behind
him a community of thousands, which has now swelled to millions worldwide
and is carrying on with his mission.
Khilafat after the Promised Messiah
The institution of Khalifat (successors) was reestablished after
the death of the Promised Messiah in the same tradition as the Khilafate
Rashida (the Righteous Successors). To the present day there have been
four Khalifas. Today, the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement is
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah strengthen him), who was elected
to the position by the Electoral College. He is a grandson of the Promised
For further information on the Ahmadiyya Khilafat, please see Chapter
7 of this book.
THE UNIVERSALITY OF ISLAM
This chapter has attempted to give you a brief outline of a Muslim's
basic beliefs and principles. Unfortunately, the western media often
portrays Islam in an erroneous way and creates a picture of rigid and
fanatical fundamentalists. This is, of course, far from the truth. Islam
is a universal religion. It claims to be the true way to God for all
peoples, for all time.
The concept of universality in a religion requires that it overcomes
not only geographic and national boundaries, but also the boundaries
of time. Only Islam is able to make this claim, because it is a religion
whose teachings are related to the human psyche, i.e., its soul and
spirit. Islam emphasizes that any religion which is rooted in the human
psyche transcends time and space. As the human psyche is unchangeable,
then the religion which is closely connected to it is unchangeable also.
In other words, no matter how mankind progresses in material ways, man's
psychological needs will remain the same, and Islam will always have
the means to fulfill them. Islam's universality is demonstrated in many
ways and on different levels:
1. Acceptance of all teachings
Islam is the only religion that accepts previous teachings and their
bearers as coming from God. It does stipulate however, that these teachings
have been tampered with, and can no longer be relied on as true guidance.
Islam teaches that the Holy Qur'an incorporates in itself the true meanings
of these previous teachings, and that its own integrity will always
be guarded by Allah Himself. This acceptance and incorporation of other
scriptures makes Islam a truly universal religion.
2. No compulsion in religion
For a religion to be truly universal, it has to appeal to people of
all natures and cultures. Therefore it cannot be a teaching that is
forced on others. Islam does not permit the use of force to spread its
message. The Holy Qur'an says:
"There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become
distinct from wrong....." (2:257).
The word "jihad" is frequently interpreted to mean "wage holy war."
In fact, it means "a striving." Islamic jihad does not consist in killing
and being killed but in striving hard to win the pleasure of God. The
highest form of jihad is the struggle of man with his own soul to rid
it of vices and ties to the material world, and to elevate his spirit
to attain nearness to Allah. Another type of jihad may take the form
of preaching and dissemination of the teaching of Islam by peaceful
means. A third type of jihad is defending Islam against unprovoked aggression
and attempt to physically destroy Islam by its enemies.
3. Equality of Man
Islam carries with it a strong message of brotherhood and the equality
of man. This is an essential ingredient of universality. Islam teaches
love for all things. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him) says:
"Whoever is kind to the creation, God is kind to him; therefore be kind
to man on earth whether he be good or bad; and being kind to the bad,
is to withhold them from badness."
Islam teaches that in the sight of Allah, all men are equal regardless
of race, status or wealth. He judges them only on their good deeds.
The last sermon of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
on him) contains these beautiful words:
"O ye men! your God is One and your ancestor is one. An Arab possesses
no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an Arab. A
white is no way superior to a red, nor for that matter, a red to a white,
but only to the extent to which he discharges his duty to God and man.
The most honored among you in the sight of God is the most righteous
"O men, what I say to you, you must hear and remember. All Muslims are
as brethren to each other. All of you are equal. All men, whatever station
in life they may hold, are equal."
While he was saying this, the Prophet raised his hands and joined the
fingers of the one hand with the fingers of the other hand and then
"Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings
equal to each other. No one has any right, any superiority to claim
over another. You are as brothers... What I command today is not meant
only for today. It is meant for all time. You are expected to remember
it and act upon it until you leave this world and go to the next to
meet your Maker."
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Holy Qur'an with commentary. Trans. & Ed. Malik Ghulam Farid.
United Kingdom, 1994.
Holy Qur'an with commentary. 5 volumes. Trans. & Ed. Malik Ghulam
Farid et al. U. K., 1988.
Ahmad, Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood. Invitation to Ahmadiyyat.
U. K., 1980.
-----The Life of Muhammad. U. K., 1990.
Ahmad, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The Philosophy of the Teachings
of Islam. U.K.
-----The Essence of Islam. 2 volumes, U. K., 1979.
Ahmad, Waheed. A Book of Religious Knowledge. Canada, 1988.
Ahmed, Tayyba Seema. A Study of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's Exposition
of Jihad. U.K. 1993.
Chaudri, Rashid Ahmad. The Words of Wisdom and Purification. U. K.,
Hadi, Sheikh Abdul. Basics of Religious Education. Canada, 1994.
Khan, Muhammad Zafrulla. Ahmadiyyat, the Renaissance of Islam. U. K.,
-----Islamic Worship. U. K., 1980.
-----Muhammad, Seal of Prophets. U. K., 1980
Salaat, the Muslim Prayer Book. U. K. 1994.
See appendix for additional references.