It is commonly said that religions are more a cause of division than of unity, for mankind. It would therefore follow that if all religions are from One God, then surely He is to blame for the sorry state of our world? However, unsurprisingly, quite the opposite is true. God has always been a source of unity for man, and it is man that has repeatedly chosen to break away from this unity. The teachings of God has always provided a perfect guidance for a just and peaceful existence, when people estrange themselves from those teachings, the result is that they are no longer practiced, and that is when true faith leaves the hearts of people. It is through God’s Mercy that He sends down reformers to re-establish the true faith in the earth, these reformers are invariably faced with opposition and enmity from those around them. History abounds with such examples.
A similar reformation was started by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) in Indo-Pak subcontinent in late 1800’s. He established the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam and claimed to be the Promised Mehdi and Messiah for Muslims. His purpose in establishing such a movement was to reform and collect a party of servants of Allah dedicated to the service of mankind and bringing people closer to Allah. However, the religious divines of his time saw him as a threat to their beliefs and thus stepped up their opposition to his message. The greatest of opposition and persecution came from his fellow Muslims. Leaders of Muslim groups or Mullahs regarded Ahmadi Muslims to be out of the pale of Islam but their hostility did not stop there.
In 1953 the political expediencies of some Mullahs prompted to exploit the Ahmadiyya Muslim issue which resulted in the eruption of mob violence. This agitation was launched by Majlis-e-Ahrar which had no political career in Pakistan because of its anti-Pakistan stance during partition. They tried to use this issue to seek some political standing in newly established Muslim state by exploiting people’s religious feelings a fact that was later established by Munir report. In 1974, seeing its grip loosening on the government, the party in power again staged a drama and exploited the same issue to turn the events in their favor. Being under tremendous pressure from King Faisal, according to The Guardian (UK) (9th Sept. 1974), Mr. Bhutto staged the Rabwah incidence and dumped the matter into the lap of national assembly which turned itself into a special committee. This committee invited the leaders of all the sects considered to be associated with the Islamic faith (72 in number) to hold a debate on the matter of Finality of prophethood (i.e. if a prophet could come after Muhammad, peace be upon him, or not) with the leadership of Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. The proceedings of these hearings were never made public. At the end of this pseudo-hearing all the leaders of 72 sects unanimously declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims, which the special committee adopted as an amendment to the constitution of 1973. Thus the government of an Islamic state outrageously contravened the commandment of the Holy Quran:
“There shall be no compulsion in religion for guidance and error have been clearly distinguished”. (2:257)
and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) according to whom a mere recitation of the creed was sufficient to bring someone into the fold of Islam as we read in the following hadith:
“Usamah ibn Zaid relates: The Holy Prophet (pbuh) sent us on a scouting expedition to Huraqah, a valley of Juhnah and we arrived at its springs in the morning. A man of the Ansar and I came upon one of their men and when we had covered him he called out: There is none worthy of worship save Allah. On this the Ansari held back, but I finished him off with my spear. When we returned to Medina, this incident came to the knowledge of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he asked me: Usama, did you kill him after he had affirmed: There is none worthy of worship save Allah? I said: Messenger of Allah, he made the affirmation only to save himself. He said again: Did you kill him after he had affirmed: There is none worthy of worship save Allah? He went on repeating it till I wished I had not accepted Islam before that day.” Another version is “Holy Prophet said: Did he affirm: There is none worthy of worship save Allah; and yet you killed him? I said: Messenger of Allah, he said it out of fear of our arms. He said: Why did you not cleave his heart to discover whether he had said it from his heart or not? He kept repeating it till I wished I had accepted Islam only that day. (Riyadh as-Salihin, ch. 49 Hadith #396 on the authority of Bokhari and Muslim).
The government claimed that the decision was based on the belief in finality of prophethood Muhammad (pbuh). Though Ahmadi Muslims believe that they are the only ones who believe in the true meanings of the phrase Khatme Nabuwwat (finality of prophethood) at present time, however, the holy Quran sets no such condition for becoming a believer. Holy Quran commands:
“O ye who believe! believe in Allah and His Messenger, and in the book which he has revealed to His Messenger, and the Book which He reveled before it. And whoso disbelieves in Allah and His Angles and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day has surely strayed away” (Holy Quran: Chapter 4, Verse 137).
So according to the Holy Quran the only thing which throws one out of the pale of Islam is disbelief in Allah, His Angles, His Books, His Messengers or the Last Day, not in any way a disbelief in any version of the phrase Khatme Nabuwwat. Quran having described the articles of faith very clearly, invites even non-Muslims to come to terms on what is common in their beliefs with Islam:
Say, ‘O people of the book! come to a word equal between us and you – that we worship none but Allah and that we associate no partners with Him and that some of us take not others for lords besides Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Holy Quran, ch 3: v 65).
Clearly according to Holy Quran the way to achieve religious harmony is to put to practice what is common in the beliefs of every differing faction and that would be the first step towards a consensus in the matters of religious beliefs. The government of Pakistan under the leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the leader of all the rest of 72 sects of Islam (other than Ahmadi Muslims) clearly contradicted the teachings of the Holy Quran and practice and commandments of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). However, this decision did ironically provide an interesting, if not unique, distinction of one group of Muslims from the other 72 sects fulfilling the prophecy of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he mentioned 73 divisions among Muslims as opposed to 72 divisions among Jews.