Ahmadiyyat is a sect of Islam and not a new religion. Ahmadiyyat is a movement, entirely within the fold of Islam, meant to revive its true spirit and philosophy, to cleanse Islam of all superstitious and unnecessary beliefs and customs which had crept in over the past fourteen centuries, and, finally, to preach the religion of Islam to non-Muslims with the enthusiasm and zeal of the early Muslims.
The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, in 1889. The followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad believe that he is the same Messiah and Mahdi whose coming was foretold by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and was eagerly awaited by all Muslims. His followers call themselves Ahmadi Muslims, only to differentiate themselves from members of other Islamic sects, and strictly follow the orthodox religion of Islam.
As far as the fundamental beliefs or acts of worship are concerned, the Ahmadi Muslims have neither taken anything out nor added anything new to the religion of Islam. The Ahmadi Muslims make their declaration of faith by reciting the same Kalima which was recited by the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself; they say their Prayers and fast in the same manner as the Holy Prophet of Islam did; and their Qiblah, their Ka’ba, their Azan and their Quran are all exactly the same as that of the other Muslims.
There are basically three beliefs held by Ahmadi Muslims which separate them from the mainstream of Sunni Islam. These three beliefs concern:
These three areas of contention between Ahmadi and Sunni Muslims are briefly described below:
In verse 41 of Surah al-Ahzab, the Prophet Muhammad has been given the title of Khataman Nabiyyeen, the Seal of the Prophets. A majority of the Muslims interpret from this verse that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was chronologically the last Prophet and that no new Prophet can come after him. They also believe the phenomenon of prophetic revelation to be closed for ever.
According to the Ahmadi Muslims, the expression ‘Seal of the Prophets’ does not mean that the Holy Prophet is chronologically the last Prophet. A seal is a mark of distinction and, in this case, implies great perfection of prophethood. Ahmadis believe that the door to prophethood is always open. However, a new prophet after the Prophet Muhammad must be a follower of his and must be from within the fold of Islam. Ahmadi Muslims do believe that the Prophet Muhammad was the last law giving Prophet and that no new law giving prophet can come after him.
The Sunni Muslims believe that Jesus was not put on the cross and that his place was actually taken by someone who resembled him. Jesus, according to them, was physically raised to heaven.
Ahmadis believe that Jesus was indeed put on the cross, but only for a few hours. They believe that Jesus, after recovering from his wounds, traveled East to Kashmir where he died a natural death and remains buried in a tomb in Srinagar, in Mohallah Khanyar.
A majority of the Sunni Muslims believe that Jesus Christ himself will return one day as the latter day Messiah.
Ahmadi Muslims believe that since Jesus Christ has already died, it can only be someone else who can appear as the latter day Messiah. Ahmadis believe that this Promised Messiah has already come in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad alaihisslam of Qadian.
These are the three important areas of contention between the Ahmadi and Sunni Muslims. In all other essential Islamic beliefs, the two groups hold more or less similar views.
In the Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, there are numerous references to the coming of a latter-day Reformer who will cleanse the religion of Islam of all unnecessary customs and superstitions and restore to it the eminence and glory which it used to enjoy in the early days. This Reformer is referred to by various names and titles in the Hadith such as:
Jesus son of Mary
The advent of this Reformer is so vividly described in the Hadith literature that Muslims of all sects and generations had been eagerly waiting for his appearance.
Since one of the names used for this Reformer in the Hadith is “Jesus son of Mary”, many simple minded Muslims started believing that Jesus Christ himself will reappear in the latter days of Islam. When Mirza Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed in 1890 that he was the Messiah whose advent was promised in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet, a majority of the Muslims rejected his claim because they were looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ himself. In this respect these Muslims behaved like the Jews of two thousand years ago who had rejected Jesus’ claim to prophethood because they, too, were waiting for the second coming of the Prophet Elijah.
After receiving many revelations to this effect, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad declared in 1890 that he was the same Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself. He declared that he was in communion with God and constantly received His revelations and signs.
A question arises as to why the latter-day reformer has been referred to by the name of “Isa ibne Maryam” (Jesus son of Mary), in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet. The reason is the great resemblance this latter-day reformer bears to Jesus Christ in a number of ways. If we look at their time settings, their teachings and their objectives, we find such a remarkable resemblance between the two as if the history is repeating itself. Some of the important areas in which the two prophets resemble each other are discussed below:
Jesus Christ was not a law giving prophet and came some 1300 years after the Prophet Moses, the greatest law giving prophet of the Israelites.
Similarly, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was not a law giving prophet and he, too, came some 1300 years after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the greatest law giving prophet of all times.
Jews of the day rejected Jesus’ claim to prophethood because they were mistakenly waiting for the second coming of the Prophet Elijah himself.
Similarly, Muslims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s time rejected his claim to Messiahship because they, too, were mistakenly waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ himself
The intention of Jesus Christ was to reform Judaism and not to found a new religion. It is not possible to found a new religion without giving the people a new Law. Jesus did not abrogate the Mosaic Law and, in fact, maintained its continued applicability to his own followers.
Similarly, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad came to reform the Islam of his day and not to found any new religion.
Jesus’ teachings emphasized the gentler elements of the Jewish religion, such as meekness, humility, charity, forgiveness and repentance. Jesus de emphasized the harsher elements of the Mosaic Law which, with its restrictions and punishments, had come to be regarded more as a curse than as a blessing.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s teachings also emphasized the gentler elements of the religion of Islam such as patience, meekness, humility, forgiveness, charity and prayer. He, too, de emphasized some of the
harsher elements of Islamic history such as jihad with a sword.
A mujaddid is a person who renews or renovates the religion. According to a Hadith of the Holy Prophet, which has been recorded by Abu Da’ood, renovators will appear during every century of Islam:
“Verily, God shall raise for this community, at the beginning of every century, one who will renovate for it its religion”.
A list of various “Renovators” who have appeared during the past fourteen hundred years is given below. These mujaddids were the most outstanding saints and scholars of their time and did much to reform the religion of Islam, of their day.
In this list, only one Mujaddid is given for each century. Many Muslims, however, recognize more than one Mujaddid for some centuries. For example, two Mujaddids are recognized for the Second century of Islam: Ahmad bin Hanbal and Imam Sha’fi. Similarly, Abu Ubaid Naishapuri is included with Abu Bakr Baqlani as the two Mujaddids of the Fourth century. For the Seventh century, Moeen-ud-Deen Chishtee is recognized along with Imam ibne Taymiyya, and for the Eighth century, Saleh bin Omar along with ibne Hajar Asqalani. Similarly, for the Ninth Century, Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri is recognized along with Jalal-ud-Deen Sayutee. But far the Fourteenth Century of Islam, which ended in the year 1980 A.D., no one other than Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian has ever been recognized as a Mujaddid.