Why Ahmadiyya, orthodox Muslims differ (1) | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why Ahmadiyya, orthodox Muslims differ (1)

Posted: Apr 24, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Aramide Oikelome –  Senior Correspondent, Lagos


They both share belief in the prophet-hood of Muhammad, reverence for historical prophets, belief in the oneness of God (tawhid); they accept the Qur’an as their holy text, face the Kaaba during prayer, accept the authority of Hadiths (reported sayings of and stories about Muhammad) and practice the Sunnah. These are the Ahmadis (Ahmadiyya faithful) on one hand and other Islamic sects, otherwise referred to as orthodox or mainstream Muslims, on the other hand.

To non-Muslims, both groups are Muslims and are of the same brotherhood in Islam. But it may surprise many that the animosity existing between the two is worse than that existing between Muslims and Christians, or faithful of other religions.

On accounts of certain doctrinal differences, the orthodox Muslims do not regard the Ahmadis as Muslims or equal brethren in the faith. Their hatred for Ahmadis is across the globe and it sometimes gets so bad in some Islamic countries that the Ahmadis are persucuted, attacked and hounded into exile.

Unlike most Muslims, Ahmadis believe that their sect’s founder, a 19th century Indian named Mizra Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet. This and other theological disputes have brought charges of heresy against Ahmadis, particularly in Pakistan, where the sect has endured more than 50 years of discrimination and violence. Ahmadis are banned from calling themselves Muslims or referring to their religious establishments as ‘mosques.’ In May 2010, the Hamadiyya community suffered its worst attack when 86 people were gunned down in an hour-long siege of two mosques in Lahore. In the aftermath of last year’s flood, some displaced Ahmadis were denied aid.

Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about the final triumph of Islam as regards Islamic prophecy.

He claimed that he was the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by Muslims.

According to the National leader of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim Jama’at of Nigeria, Dr. Moshood Adenrele Fashola, the adherents of the Ahmadiyya movement are referred to as Ahmadis or Ahmadi Muslims. Ahmadi emphasis lay in the belief that Islam is the final law for humanity as revealed to Muhammad. In addition, it upholds the necessity of restoring to it its true essencze and pristine form, which had been lost through the centuries. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam. The Ahmadis were among the earliest Muslim communities to arrive in Britain and other Western countries.

But soon after the death of the first successor of Ghulam Ahmad, the movement split into two groups over the nature of Ghulam Ahmad’s prophethood and his succession. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believed that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had indeed been a “non-law-bearing” prophet and that mainstream Muslims who categorically rejected his message were guilty of disbelief in Islamic prophecies.

The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, however, affirmed the traditional Islamic interpretation that there could be no prophet after Muhammad and viewed itself as a reform movement within the broader Ummah. The question of succession was also an issue in the split of the Ahmadiyya movement. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believed that an Anjuman (body of selected people) should be in charge of the community. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, however, maintained that Caliphs (successors of Ghulam Ahmad) should continue to take charge of the community and should be left with the overall authority.

Views of mainstream Muslims Orthodox Muslims, however, consider both Ahmadi movements to be heretical and non-Muslim for a number of reasons, chief among them being the question of finality of prophethood, since they believe members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community do not regard the Islamic prophet Muhammad as the last prophet.

•To be continued 




The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement does not subscribe to this belief; its members, in fact, do not see Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet in the conventional sense. Ahmadis claim that this is a result of misinterpreting Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s statements referring to his coming “in the spirit of Muhammed”, (similar to John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah). Ahmadi Muslims believe Ghulam Ahmad to be the Mahdi and promised Messiah.

The Ahmadiyya faith claims to represent the latter-day revival of the religion of Islam. Today, the Ahmadiyya community has a presence in 195 countries , and in every country but Pakistan, they are legally identified as Muslims.

Central to the Ahmadiyya is the belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. Ahmadis emphasise the implementation of the Kalima (the fundamental creed of Islam) as essentially linked with the Islamic principles of the rights of God (Haqooq-Allah) and the rights of His creation (Haqooqul-Ibād).

Ahmadis believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was divinely commissioned as a true reflection of Muhammad’s prophethood to establish the unity of God, remind mankind of their duties towards God and God’s creation, to emphasize both aspects of religion which Ahmadis believe is the need of the present age. As such Ahmadis hold that Ghulam Ahmad was the representative and spiritual regenerate of all previous prophets.

From the Ahmadiyya perspective, the Christians have erred with regards to the rights of God in that they have attributed divine status to a mortal human, and it is on this account that in Islamic eschatology the promised reformer has been named the Mahdi: the “Guided One”—a title meaning one who is naturally guided and is an heir to all truths and in whom the attribute of “guide” of the Almighty is fully represented.

Ahmadis also hold that the Muslims have erred with regard to the rights of creation for they, unjustly raising the sword and calling it Jihad, have misunderstood the concept and purpose of Jihad in Islam; it is on this account that he has been called the Isa Messiah (“Jesus the Messiah”)—a term which relates to his function in re-establishing the rights of people by reforming their distorted, violent notion of “Jihad” just as Jesus Christ came principally to reform the hearts and attitudes of the Jewish nation.

Ahmadis have been subject to various forms of persecution since the movement’s inception in 1889. The Ahmadiyya faith emerged from the Sunni tradition of Islam and its adherents believe in all the five pillars and articles of faith required of Muslims. The Ahmadis are active translators of the Qur’an and proselytes for the faith; in fact, converts to Islam in many parts of the world first discover Islam through the Ahmadis. However, in many Islamic countries the Ahmadis have been defined as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and often systematic oppression.

Although in India Ahmadis are considered to be Muslims by the government, according to a court verdict (Shihabuddin Koya vs. Ahammed Koya, A.I.R. 1971 Ker 206), the Islamic University of India and Darul Uloom Deoband have declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. Ahmadis are not allowed to sit on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a body of religious leaders that India’s government recognizes as representative of Indian Muslims.

This is in spite of the fact that there is no legislation that declares Ahmadis non-Muslims or limits their activities and that the country has a significant Ahmadiyya population, most of whom live in Rajasthan, Orissa, Haryana, Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and a few in Punjab in the area of Qadian.

In Bangladesh, fundamentalist Islamic groups have demanded that Ahmadiyyas be “officially” declared to be kafirs (infidels). Ahmadiyyas have become a persecuted group, targeted via protests and acts of violence. According to Amnesty International, followers have been subject to “house arrest”, and several have been killed. In late 2003, several large violent marches, led by Moulana Moahmud Hossain Mumtazi, were directed to occupy an Ahmadiyya mosque. In 2004, all Ahmadiyya publications were banned.

Here in Nigeria, the relationship between the two may not be violent or harsh but it is not also as cordial as it should be; even though both profess the same faith. In fact, just as in other nations cited above, Ahmadis and other Muslims in Nigeria do not worship together.

To be continued