Ahmadiyya and other faiths

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The Ahmadiyya movement in Islam has shared a relationship with a number of religions.

Christianity

see also: Dajjal in Ahmadiyya Islam

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was actively engaged in debates, prayer duels and written arguments with the Christian missionaries. The Ahmadiyya view of Jesus' survival of the crucifixion, his subsequent travels to the east in search of the "Lost Sheep of Israel" and his natural death, as propounded by Ghulam Ahmad, have been a source of ongoing friction with the Christian church for whom the doctrines of vicarious atonement and resurrection are central tenets. Western historians have acknowledged this fact as one of the features of Ghulam Ahmad's legacy.[1] Francis Robinson states:

At their most extreme religious strategies for dealing with the Christian presence might involve attacking Christian revelation at its heart, as did the Punjabi Muslim, Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), who founded the Ahmadiyya missionary sect.

The Ahmadiyya teachings also interpret the prophecies regarding the appearance of the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) and Gog and Magog in Islamic eschatology as foretelling the emergence of two branches or aspects of the same turmoil and trial that was to be faced by Islam in the latter days and that both emerged from Christianity or Christian nations. Its Dajjal aspect relates to deception and perversion of religious belief while its aspect to do with disturbance in the realm of politics and the shattering of world peace has been called Gog and Magog.[2] Thus Ahmadis consider the widespread Christian missionary activity that was "aggressively" active in the 18th and 19th centuries as being part of the prophesied Dajjal (Antichrist) and Gog and Magog emerging in modern times. The emergence of the Russia and the United States as superpowers and the conflict between the two nations (i.e., the rivalry between communism and capitalism) are seen as having occurred in accordance with certain prophecies concerning Gog and Magog.[3] This has also proven controversial with most Christians. Freeland Abbott observed in his book Islam and Pakistan:

The primary significance of the Ahmadiyya Movement lay in its missionary emphasis. Every Muslim believed that Islam was the only religion free from error. The Ahmadis made it part of their principles to show the errors of other religions to their adherents and to proselytize energetically for Islam. In a sense, the Ahmadis represent the Muslims emerging, religiously speaking, from the withdrawal that had begun with the arrival of the British, just as the Muslim League represents the political emergence from that same withdrawal … Although the sect most attacked by Muslims in India and Pakistan, it has also been the one which has worked hardest, in both its branches, to defend and extend Islam against the competition offered by other faiths.

— Freeland Abbot, Islam and Pakistan[4]

Sikhism

Ahmadis recognise Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, as a very holy Muslim. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was deeply convinced that Nanak was a holy man after he carried out a detailed study of Guru Nanak and history of Sikhism. Ahmadis believe that historically Sikhism was a Sufi sect of Islam founded by Nanak; however, this view is strongly opposed by the Sikhs of today. It was Nanak's spiritual mission to reform his people and bring about unity.[5]

Hinduism

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was also actively involved in the debates with Arya Samaj and wrote several texts on the subject.

Ahmadis like other Muslims believe that the last and perfect message from God was brought to Muhammad. However, unlike mainstream Muslims, Ahmadis acknowledge that many founders of various faiths, including Krishna and Buddha, have brought messages from God. He claimed that he was the Kalki Avatar, the last avatar of Vishnu, whom Hindus were waiting for. However it must be understood that he did not agree with the concept of incarnations of God as Hindu thought suggests in regards to avatars. He considered Krishna and Rama as Prophets and totally human, preaching to others about the One God. He believed that this view had been distorted by their followers over many thousands of years to the state that Hinduism is in currently, which is polytheism.[6]

Judaism

Other Muslims

The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement does not see Mirza Ghulam Ahmed as a prophet. Ahmadis claim that this is a result of misinterpreting Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's statements referring to his coming "in the spirit of Muhammed"[7] (similar to John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah).[8] Ahmadi Muslims believe Ghulam Ahmad to be the Mahdi and Promised Messiah. Mainstream Muslims reject this, stating that Ghulam Ahmad did not fulfill the prophecies of Imam Mahdi and that the title of Messiah was given only to Jesus and no one else. Ghulam Ahmad is considered to be a false prophet.

Both Ahmadi movements are considered non-Muslims by the Pakistan government, and this fact is recorded on their travel documents. By contrast, Ahmadi citizens from Western countries and some Muslim states perform Hajj and Umra, as the Saudi government is not made aware that they are Ahmadis when they apply for a visa. A court decision has upheld the right of Ahmadiyyas to identify themselves as Muslims in India.[9]

As the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement’s view regarding Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s status as a Prophet is closer to current mainstream Islamic thought, the literature published by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has found greater acceptance among the Muslim intelligentsia.[10][11]

Some Muslims group both Ahmadi movements together and refer to them as "Qadianis", and their beliefs as "Qadianism"[12] (after the small town of Qadian in the Gurdaspur District of Punjab in India, where the movement's founder was born), which are derogatory terms. However most, if not all, Ahmadis of both sects dislike this term as it has acquired derogatory connotations over the years, and furthermore, they prefer to differentiate their two separate movements. As members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement deny the prophethood of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, some mainstream Islamic scholars consider the members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement to be Muslims.[13] In earlier times in Pakistan and India, there was widespread persecution of Ahmadis by certain Muslim groups. Sporadic violence as well as persecution of a more subtle nature against Ahmadis continues even today.[14]

Fulfillment of prophecy

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in about 1897

Ahmadi teachings state that the founders of all the major world religions were working towards the establishment of Islam in its broadest sense, being part of the divine scheme of the development of religion and had foretold of its completion and perfection.[15] The completion and consummation of the development of religion came about with the coming of Muhammad; and that the perfection of the ‘manifestation’ of Muhammad’s prophethood and of the conveyance of his message was destined to occur with the coming of the Mahdi.[16] Thus, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community regard Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the "Promised One" of all religions fulfilling eschatological prophecies found in the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions, as well as Zoroastrianism, the Indian religions, Native American traditions and others.[17]

Christianity

Ahmadis believe that many verses of the Old Testament and New Testament were prophecies regarding the ‘Promised Messiah’ of the end times and that they were fulfilled through the appearance of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[18] such as those found in the Book of Revelation and those about the Second Coming of Christ mentioned by Jesus in the 24th chapter of Matthew. Ahmadis also cite the passage found in Chapter 12 of the Book of Daniel using the day-year principle.[19]

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

— Daniel, 12:11

The time of the abolishing of the daily sacrifice is interpreted by Ahmadis as meaning the supersession of the Judaic law by another, i.e., that of Islam and the ‘abomination that maketh desolate’ as referring to the banning of idol worship brought about with the foundation of Islam. Thus 1,290 days are interpreted as 1,290 years of the Islamic Hijri calendar, corresponding to the year 1875 in which, as per Ahmadiyya belief, Ghulam Ahmad began to receive divine revelation with continuity.[20] Ahmadis maintain that as per Judeo-Christian prophecy regarding the coming of the Messiah and Second Coming of Christ Ghulam Ahmad appeared at the end of the 6,000th year from the time of the Biblical Adam and that with his advent the final 7,000th age has begun.[21]

Islam

Ahmadis cite numerous passages from the Qur'an, works of exegesis and hadith in support of their views. Ahmadis believe that Coming of the Messiah, Isa (Jesus, Son of Mary) and the Mahdi prophecised in Islam were, in fact, two titles or roles for one and the same person. This is because in their view, Jesus of Nazareth died 2,000 years ago and is not physically descending from the sky. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is believed to have appeared in accordance with the prophecies of Muhammad. He is regarded as the Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century and the spiritual readvent of Muhammad.[22]

Ahmadi thought holds that the promised reformer has been called Isa and Masih (Messiah) in Islamic eschatology by virtue of his task to refute what they perceive as the erroneous doctrines of Christianity and has been called the Mahdi by virtue of his task to reform and guide the Muslims, but consider his advent to be the continuation of the prophethood of Muhammad.[23]

Hinduism

The spiritual reappearance of Krishna and the Kalki avatar, who in the classical Hindu Vaishnavas tradition is the tenth and final avatar awaited by the Hindus.[24]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community regards Krishna as a prophet of God,[25] which is stated, according to Ahmadis, on the hadith and Qur'an.[26] Also, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated that the terms ‘avatar’ and ‘prophet’ were synonymous and that the Avatar is the equivalent of the Qur'anic Messenger.[27]

Buddhism

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the fulfillment of the prophecy of appearance of the Maitreya Buddha, a future Buddha who is believed to usher in an age of peace and security.[28]

It may be noted that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself wrote in his famous book, "Jesus in India" that the Maitreya Buddha was in fact Jesus Christ, who according to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, travelled to India, Kashmir and Tibet (predominantly Buddhist regions at the time) to preach to the local Jews who had migrated there and converted to religions other than that of Judaism (Buddhism, Hinduism etc.).[29]

Ghulam Ahmad stated that he was the 'Reflection of All Prophets' and he regarded Siddharta Gautama Buddha as a Prophet. Also, quite similar to the Ahmadi belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Messiah (stated above), it seems that Jesus acts as a 'door' through which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the (metaphorical) Second Coming of Jesus also the Maitreya. This is because as Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and also the Maitreya according to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed that he had fulfilled the Second Coming of Jesus and in turn, thus, he had also fulfilled the Second Comings of the Maitreya.

Reflection of All Prophets

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated that he had been bestowed the attributes of all biblical and non-biblical Prophets, in accordance with a verse of the Qur'an which states that all prophets will converge into one person in the future. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated that this was due to his receiving revelation from God in which God called him:

The Champion of Allah in the mantle of Prophets.[30]

The Biblical Prophets include Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus.[31] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has also likened his advent to that of Adam as the initiator of a new age. In various writings, Ghulam Ahmad has stated that both himself and Adam were born twins on a Friday, and that as Adam was born in the final hours of the sixth day of the week, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born in the final years of the sixth millennium as per Qur'anic and Biblical prophecy, a day in the estimation of God is a thousand years.[32] Ghulam Ahmad is also believed by the Ahmadiyya Community to be the Second Coming of Noah due to the prophecy made by Jesus in Matthew 24:37-38.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad also likened himself to the Qur'anic figure Dhul-Qarnayn, who is often equated with Cyrus the Great.[33]

References

  1. The British Empire and the Muslim World, Francis Robinson, page 21.
  2. "Review of Religions" (PDF). Review of Religions. 101 (4). April 2006. 
  3. Mirza Bashir Ahmad. Islam and Communism (PDF). Ahmadiyya Muslim Foreign Mission, Rabwah. 
  4. Abbot, Freeland. Islam and Pakistan. Cornell University Press, 1968. p. 160-161.
  5. Ian Adamson. Ahmad the Guided One. Islam International Publications Ltd. pp. 207–208. ISBN 1-85372-597-8. 
  6. Modern religious movements in India, John Nicol Farquhar, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1967, p. 138
  7. Chaudhry, Aziz Ahmad. The Question of Finality of Prophethood, The Promised Messiha and Mehdi, Islam International Publications Limited.
  8. "In what way can we harmonize John the Baptist's claim that he was not Elijah with the statement of the Lord that he was?", Tony Capoccia, Bible Bulletin Board.
  9. Hoque, Ridwanul. On right to freedom of religion and the plight of Ahmadiyas. The Daily Star, 21 March 2004. Bangladesh. Retrieved on 10 April 2007.
  10. "Al-Azhar endorses publications by Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement". muslim.org. 
  11. "Marmaduke Pickthall's (famous British Muslim and a translator of the Quran into English) comments on Lahore Ahmadiyya Literature". muslim.org. 
  12. "Lies and the Liar who told them!", inter-islam.org
  13. "Tributes to Maulana Muhammad Ali and The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement". aaiil.org. 
  14. "Pakistan: Killing of Ahmadis continues amid impunity", Amnesty International, Public Statement, AI Index: ASA 33/028/2005 (Public), News Service No: 271, 11 October 2005.
  15. "The Promised Messiah - Prophecies Fulfilled". Alislam.org. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  16. "The Holy Quran". Alislam.org. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  17. Invitation to Ahmadiyyat by Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad Part II, Argument 4, Chapter "Promised Messiah, Promised One of All Religions"
  18. Essence of Islam Vol. V, pg. 82
  19. "Daniel 12. The Holy Bible: King James Version". Bartleby.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  20. http://www.alislam.org/library/articles/Date%20of%20Birth%20of%20the%20Promised%20Messiah-20080429MN.pdf
  21. "Microsoft Word - Chasma Masih Rev 071017.doc" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  22. Essence of Islam Vol. IV, pg. 31
  23. http://www.alislam.org/library/books/BritishGovt-and-Jihad.pdf
  24. Lecture Sialkot by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, pg. 39
  25. Essence of Islam Vol. IV, pg. 83
  26. "Prophets". Alislam.org. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  27. Essence of Islam Vol. IV, pg. 84
  28. Review of Religions March 2002, Vol. 97, No. 3, pg. 24
  29. Jesus in India, pgs. 87 and 93
  30. "Tadhkirah" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  31. Essence of Islam Vol. IV, pgs. 81-82
  32. Lecture Sialkot by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, pg. 9
  33. "Essence of Islam", vol. IV pgs. 81-82