a brief introduction
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a community of Muslims who believe in the Messiah and Mahdi whose advent was foretold by the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 as a revival movement within Islam, emphasizing its essential teachings of peace, love, justice and universal brotherhood. Today, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the world’s largest Islamic community united under one leader, who is referred to as the Khalifa or Caliph. By now, the Community has been established in over 200 countries of the world and have a membership exceeding tens of millions.
The formal beginning of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was marked by an initiation ceremony that took place in Ludhiana in 1889, which was the result of an announcement made by the founder of the Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, in which he asked Muslims to unite under him pledging to lead a virtuous life and devote themselves for the cause of Islam. However, beyond its historical roots, the true origin of this community was a part of the Divine scheme which bore much greater significance.
The Holy Prophetsa had prophesied about a time when Islam would exist no more but in name, and the Holy Quran in its inscription. This decline was to occur despite the fact that Allah had promised that He would appoint reformers at the wake of every century who would revive Islam and cleanse it of false doctrines that would have earned its name. Hence, although Islam would be preserved through these reformers from being deteriorated completely, a time was still inevitable that would see the decay of Islam and the distortion of its ideologies to an extent that would be unprecedented in its entire history.
However, the Holy Prophetsa had also prophesied the advent of a great reformer, who would appear in the latter days to revive Islam. This reformer, whom the Holy Prophetsa referred to as the Messiah, was to free Islam of all internal innovations as well as safeguard it from external attacks. The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community claimed to be that Promised Messiah and declared that God had appointed him, in this age, for the revival of Islam and that it would be only through him that one can now understand the true Islam.
Hence, under Divine guidance, he laid the foundation of this Community on 23 March 1889 where a group of pious people took oath of allegiance at his hands pledging to lead their lives in fulfilment of duties owed to God and His creation.
After the demise of its founder in 1908, the progress of Ahmadiyyat was blessed by the institution of Khilafat – the spiritual institution of successorship to prophethood. Five Khalifas have succeeded Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas since his demise. Now, the Community is passing through the era of the Fifth Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba.
Being a revival movement within Islam, the Six Articles of Islamic Faith and the Five Pillars of Islam form the basis of the Ahmadiyya belief and practice. The Holy Text of Ahmadi Muslims is the Quran and we consider it to be complete and perfect and to be in no need of amendments. Similarly, we accept Muhammadsa as our Holy Prophet and consider him to be the last law-bearing prophet and the Seal of all other prophets. The Ahmadi Muslims also accept the Sunnah – the normative practice of Prophet Muhammadsa – and the Hadith – reported sayings of and narrations about Muhammadsa – although we believe that the Quran has authority over both of them. Likewise, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also accepts the authority of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs as legitimate leaders of Islam after the demise of the Holy Prophetsa.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also subscribes, on the strong basis of Islamic texts, to views that are different from those of the mainstream Muslims, some of which include:
On the basis of the Quranic declaration “and there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent”, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that all the major religions in the world originated from God and that the doctrines which we find to be wrong in them are only later interpolations. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community firmly believes that the founders of all those religions were truthful and were God’s representatives on earth. The Promised Messiahas says:
You cannot point to any book which claims clearly that it is a divine book while in truth, it might be an imposture and a whole people might have held it in honour throughout. It is, however, possible that a Divine book might have been misinterpreted.
Hence, we recognize the noble teachings of the great religious founders and saints, including Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Guru Nanak, and believe that their original teachings converge into true Islam.
In light of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa, we come to know about three categories of Jihad of which Jihad al-Akbar or the Greatest Jihad is the spiritual struggle a person undertakes against his low desires and evil inclinations. Jihad al-Kabir or Great Jihad refers to the peaceful propagation of Islam with special emphasis on spreading the true message of Islam by the pen. Jihad al-Asghar or the Smallest Jihad is an armed struggle only to be resorted to in self-defence under situations of extreme religious persecution. This Jihad, however, is inapplicable in the present age as Islam is not attacked militarily but through literature and other media, and therefore the response should be likewise. The Promised Messiahas says:
The Jihad of this age is to strive in upholding the word of Islam, to refute the objections of the opponents, to propagate the excellences of the Islamic faith, and to proclaim the truth of the Holy Prophetsa throughout the world. This is Jihad till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world.
It goes directly antithetical to the basic principles of Islam to say that certain verses of the Holy Quran cancel out others. It is tantamount to accepting contradictions in the Holy Quran and negating its perfect order and the wisdom of Allah. It is also against the Quranic declaration that there is no contradiction between any of its verses, wherein it says “will they not, then, meditate upon the Quran? Had it been from anyone other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much disagreement”.
Similarly, the Holy Prophetsa is reported to have once said:
Surely, the Holy Quran was not revealed so that certain parts of it reject others. In fact, its various parts support each other. So follow that which you understand from it, and ask a knowledgable person concerning that which you do not understand.
The God presented by the Holy Quran is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is the same God Who reveals His guidance to mankind in the form of religions. Hence, science being the study of the functioning of the universe and its properties, any divide between religion and science should imply that something is wrong with either of the two. More conclusively, it can be said that religion is the word of God while science is the work of God. The Promised Messiahas says:
The God of Islam is the same God Who is visible in the reflection of the laws of nature and is discernible in the book of nature. Islam has not presented a new God but has presented the same God Who is presented by the light of man’s heart, by the conscience of man, and by heaven and earth.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community endorses the separation of mosque and state not on the basis that Islam does not address the issues of governance, but that it precludes the application of its principles upon those who do not follow them.
As it is evident from the Quranic teachings of non-compulsion in matters of religion as well as the practice of the Holy Prophetsa, that the teachings of Islam cannot be imposed upon those who do not accept them. Hence, it had been the practice of the Holy Prophetsa as the Head of State of Medina that he would resolve the problems of the people of other faiths according to their own beliefs and would not impose Islamic laws upon them.
Thus, according to Islam, justice should be the cornerstone of governance and the requirement of a just government is that it should separate religious matters from matters of state.
Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Today, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the world’s largest Islamic community under one Divinely appointed leader, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) (b. 1950). The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spans over 200 nations with membership exceeding tens of millions.
The Promised Messiahas explained the key objectives of his advent, he emphasizes on drawing mankind’s attention towards the highest moral standards and establishing peace. He said:
The task with which God Almighty has appointed me is that I should remove the malaise that has formed between God and His Creation and restore the relationship of love and sincerity between them.
He further said:
The second purpose is that for the sake of God’s people and out of compassion all persons should engage their strengths and capabilities in the service and well-wishing of God’s people. And they must treat gratefully and beneficially all people – from Kings and Emperors down to an ordinary person.
The Community has established schools – open to all, and many medical clinics and hospitals that offer free medical assistance also launched several social projects to help developing countries in Africa and Asia, and to assist the victims of wars and natural disasters.
The progress of Ahmadiyyat has been blessed by the institution of Khilafat (The spiritual institution of successorship to prophethood) The word “Khilafat” means “Successor.” The task of the Ahmadiyya Khilafat is to continue pursuing the peaceful objectives laid down by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community. Five Khalifas have succeeded Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) since his demise in 1908.
We are now passing through another golden era of a fifth Khalifa, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), who holds the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community together as one. Under the leadership of khilafat, We span over 200 countries, We had built over 16,000 mosques, 600 schools, and 30 hospitals and it continues. We translated the Holy Quran into over 70 languages and we propagate Islam’s true teachings of peace and tolerance through a 24-hour satellite television channel (MTA), the Internet (www.alislam.org), and print (Islam International Publications). Our Khalifa is particularly dedicated to ensuring that Islam is viewed and appreciated in its pure state – that of a religion of peace.
Ahmadi Muslims can literally be described in just two lines – as those people who fulfil the rights owed to God and those who fulfil the rights owed to God’s Creation. Without acting upon these teachings a person cannot claim to be a true Ahmadi Muslim. If we reflect and consider, we will realize that these are the very virtues that today’s world stands in urgent need of. These are the principles which can become the means of establishing world peace. Relationship of love and sincerity can only be formed with God when a person fulfils the rights owed to Him and God’s rights can only be fulfilled when His commands are followed unless man learns to live at peace with himself and his fellow human beings, he cannot live at peace with God.
Once the Promised Messiah(as) said that
“One should love mankind to such a degree that he should consider the trials and tribulations of others as his own and should pray for them.”
It is on the basis of these compassionate teachings that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community makes every effort to spread love, kindness, brotherhood and peace to every corner of the world.