Ahmadis are considered heretics and are subject to unprecedented structural discrimination, physical violence, and symbolic bans on communication. Public Ahmadiyyat has been effectively criminalized in Pakistan since 1984 which followed with mass persecution for a decade.
Around the world, about 12 million community members face exclusion and often violence by non-Ahmadi Muslims. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims and, they refuse to accept a status as non-Muslims, resulting in their ambiguous identity in Islam.
Sunni persecution of Islam is based on conceptually locating Ahmadiyyas within a tradition of Arabist theology, where they appear not simply as heterodoxical but as heretical and sacrilegious.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (b. 1835) declared in 1880 in a major work—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya—that he had received divine inspiration to reform the condition of Muslims in British India. In November 1888, he invited Muslims to be initiated under his guidance and held a major ceremony for dozens of new initiates the following March. The ceremony became an annual event (ijma) and marked the beginning of Ahmadiyyat as an Islamic reform movement centered in the town of Qadian in British-ruled Punjab.
Ghulam Ahmad made four important spiritual claims. He first referred to himself as the Mujaddid or reformer of the century, drawing on a tradition that a reformer of the religion would appear every 100 years.
Second, he referred to himself as Muhaddath or a person spoken to by God. This was a more extravagant title since Sunni Muslims had only ever agreed unanimously to use this title for one person in Islamic history: The Caliph Umar, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad and his second successor. However, some Sufi traditions claimed that numerous muhaddathun (plural) had appeared in Islamic history and that their status should be considered as that of prophets in potentiality.
The third title Ghulam Ahmad claimed emerged from his revelations, was that of Mahdi or the guided one, typically used by Shia’s for the eschatological 12th imam as well as being a Masih or messiah. With this, Ahmad claimed to be the second coming of Jesus. Here He interpreted the Quran and various Islamic traditions to argue that Jesus had survived the crucifixion, been healed, continued his mission in the east (probably in Kashmir), and died a natural death at the age of over 100 there.
Ghulam Ahmad’s fourth claim was to have received revelation that he was a prophet. It is difficult to overemphasize the ensuing uproar raised by this. Ghulam Ahmad’s claim violated a deeply held belief among Muslims, that Muhammad was the last of the prophets sent by God.
Islam’s Modernity Answered
Religions Evolve with Time and Need further Prophets even of lesser Importance
All prophets are not all equal, and a major division can be made between those who revealed a new law of God (such as Moses or Muhammad) and those who perfected or reflected that law to address the problem of the times (as Jesus did for Moses).
Ghulam Ahmad’s claim was situated within his idea of logic of a prophet. For him, it was inconceivable that God would abandon humanity without guidance after the death of Prophet Muhammad (632 AD). He drew on classical kalam and Sufi sources, though outside the mainstream but considered valid generally, that bore out this contention and included a number of people as prophets from even other religions, including Krishna and Zoroaster.
One inspiration for Ahmad was the Andalusian Sufi Ibn-al-Arabi (1240 AD) who was often referred to as Shaykh-al-Akbar, also maintained that God provided guidance to humanity and has continued to do so after the death of Muhammad.
Ahmad’s claim was to be a minor prophet, reflected in the glory of the ultimate seal of the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad while perfecting his message to reform the decay of the Muslim body in the 19th-century Indian Subcontinent.
Hence, Ghulam Ahmad emphasized modeling spirituality and continual Islamic reforms based on realities and brotherhood of present times, as he felt Prophet Mohammad also built upon the messages of Allah, conveyed by previous prophets and messengers.
He shaped a platform and space for best that Islam offers to the society at that time, rather than Either you are like us or you are Against Us theme of “Islamic Ulema ” of that time. He felt unless Islam becomes inclusive of all thoughts and forgo trivial aspects of Lifestyle(Language, manner of wearing of cloths, way of living life, praying and which Gods to follow), Islam will cease to exist as an equal and be a worthy contributor on the world stage, the only thing Prophet Mohammad must have had desired from his people.
Reforms in Islam?
“Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world, were in wars involving Muslims.
All religions have kept pace with the modern scientific and liberated world, of order and non-violence. Both Christianity and Judaism were profoundly changed by the Reformation and the European Enlightenment, just because one group of people fought for it. Protestants fought and were persecuted for centuries before they brought the Christian world to modernity.
Similarly, Hinduism had to shed its caste system and get updated to changing times. Buddhism was a reformist movement, which brought Calm and Peace to the region of Indo-Bactria for over 1000 years.
However, Islam did not join the renaissance, and driven by Mullahs and political opportunists, by the 18th century due to Hadith driven genocidal, violent streak, went on a decline.
Ahmadiyyas, had a century and quarter back, tried to prep Islam and be a flag bearer, to get Islam to its rightful place on the world stage, step in step with the modern progressing world.
Ahmadiyyas a Threat to Mullah’s Power Game
Persecution of Ahmadiyyas
Popular and political Muslim opinion in the early days was not at all hostile to Ahmadis, as this was a common practice in Sufi orders, although it is devalued, if not rejected outright, by Sunni orthodoxy. This sect gained traction with Muslims, as it gave sense of individuality and freedom in the realm of Prophet Mohammad’s Islam, as given by other Sufi traditions. It was soothing, soulful as well as gave Islam a platform, to get step in step with modern times.
After partition, Ahmadiyya leader at the time, Ghulam Ahmad’s son, led the community out of its birthplace in Indian Qadian to Lahore in Pakistan. With the advent of Military governance and dependence on the Pakistan Army to control justified public questionings, in veil of Mullah driven radical Islam, Ahmadis were barred from calling themselves Muslim, praying, or preaching in the name of Islam, and exhibiting Islamic religiosity publicly.
In 1984, Zia promulgated an Ordinance that resulted in most Ahmadi activities becoming criminal offenses (Anti-Islamic Activities of the Qadiani Group, Lahori Group, and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance, 1984). The Ordinance fed further intensified waves of public violence against the approximately six million Ahmadis, till date. They lack treatment as humans in Pakistan, and considered in line with Animals or as Haram.
Be it floods, earthquakes, or COVID-19 pandemic, Ahmadiyyas continue to be killed, prosecuted en masse.
Overall, the Ahmadi faith encourages making small adjustments in Islam to be in step with the modern world, acceptance of others (including other faiths), and peaceful, non-violent interactions.
Ahmadi did not leave any of the doctrines of its parent faith behind but altered some of the specifics of the faith, which were not relevant in present times. According to them, had Prophet Mohammad been here in today’s times, he would have given alike guidance, as the Prophet also commands progress and benevolence.
In true sense, Ahmadiyyas were taking Islam in the right direction of Progress, Acceptance, and Inclusivity, along with other Sufi sects.
Genocidal tendencies of Radical Islam, as propagated by Pakistan Army, just as the manner of governance and to keep Pakistani population engrossed in religious factionalism, has resulted in tremendous losses for this community.
An Islamic reformation would be painful though definitely, surely internally brutal, as were the reformation’s various phases were in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and other religious and political reforms.
It would mean the sharp diminution of the power of the Mullahs, Military regimes, and Radical Islamic leaders in office, all across the Radical Islamic world. It shall be a frontal challenge to the skewed, politics driven moral framework of millions and here Ahmadiyyas can be the torchbearers for the upcoming star of the renaissance of Islam, heralding eternal glory of Islam encompassing all forms of thoughts and religions.
23 May 20/Saturday Written By: Fayaz