The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a religious sect within Islam, although it holds beliefs that are considered by many Muslims as outside the boundaries of Islam. The movement was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in India. Mizra claimed that he was a Reformer, the Second Advent of both Prophet Muhammad and Jesus. He also made several claims to religious titles and accreditation during his lifetime. Most of his beliefs and claims were rejected by most Muslims. Since the death of Mizra, the movement has been led by several Caliphs and has expanded to 206 countries and territories around the world.
Origin of the Name Ahmadiyya
The Ahmadiyya movement which was established in 1889 did not immediately adopt the name “Ahmadiyya” until about ten years later after a census was held in India on several denominations of faith in the country. The founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, asserted that the name “Ahmaddiya” referred to Ahmad which is an alternative name of Muhammad, and not his own name.
Overview of Ahmadi Beliefs
Ahmadi Muslims worldwide are estimated to be around 10-20 million. However, the official website of the community claims that the members estimate tens of millions. The Ahmadiyya’s beliefs are more closely related to those of the Sunni Muslims than the Shi’a Muslims. The Ahmadis are guided by the Five Pillars of Islam and believe in the 6 Articles of Faith. They also accept the Quran as their holy book and pray five times a day while facing the Kaaba. Ahmadis practice Sunnah and accept the Authority of the Hadiths. However, their distinguishing characteristic is their belief in Mizra as the Promised Messiah and redeemer as was promised by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Mizra’s aim was to propagate Islam throughout the world through peaceful means and to revive the forgotten Islamic values such as peace, sympathy, and forgiveness.
The Five Pillars
Like the Sunni Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslim community also believes in the Five Pillar of Islam. The Pillars of Islam are generally the five basic acts of Islam that are considered obligatory for all the followers of Ahmadiyya. The pillars are represented as a framework for worship and a proof of commitment to the faith. The Five Pillars of Islam include the recitation of creed (Shahadah), praying five times a day (Salat), giving of alms (zakaah), going on a pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj), and taking part in a fast during the month of Ramadan.
Ahmadiyya agrees with both the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims on the basic principles of for the performance of these acts. Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan are prohibited by law, and in some Muslim countries where they face prosecution, especially from other Islamic groups, from identifying with the Muslims, making it difficult for them to perform the obligatory acts. However, Ahmadi Muslims from other parts of the world are free to perform pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Six Articles of Faith
Ahmadiyya Muslim community subscribes to the same belief as most of the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, with the only difference being on the meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin, the belief that Muhammad was the last prophet sent by God. As mentioned previously, Ahmadi Muslims believe that Mizra was the Promised Messiah and redeemer as promised by the Prophet Muhammad. The six Articles of Faith that the Ahmadi Muslims subscribe to are identical to the ones believed by the Sunni Muslims and are based on the Quran and Muhammad’s traditions.
Unity of God
Ahmadiyya community believes in the absolute Unity of God. The Ahmadi Muslims consider this principle as the most important and cardinal. All other beliefs are centered around the Unity of God. The principle influences all aspects of a person’s life and has much wider and deeper meaning and implications. The Islam recognizes that God is a Living God who is present everywhere and listens to the petitions of His servants. Distinctively, the Ahmadiyya recognizes that God is eternal and communicates with the people as He did before.
Ahmadi Muslims believe in angels and consider them as spiritual beings formed by God to implement God’s commandments. Under the command of God, angels can bring revelations to God’s prophets, punish His enemies, glorify God, and keep records of human acts. Angels are regarded as celestial being by the Ahmadi Muslims.
Ahmadi Muslims believe that prophets are divine and are sent by God. The group believes that God sends a prophet when immorality and unrighteousness fill the earth, or when parts of the world disobey God and turn to sin, or when followers of certain law or religion become wicked or include corrupted teachings into their faith. The prophet is meant to re-establish God’s Divine will. Ahmadi Muslims believe in prophets in the Quran, Old Testament, Buddha, Krishna, and Zoroaster.
Ahmadiyya community believes in scripture as the divine revelation of God to his Prophets. The books include Quran, the scroll of Abraham, Torah, and Psalm. Of the five books, the community believes that the Quran is the final divine scripture that has been revealed to mankind by God, with the teaching of Quran considered final and timeless.
Day of Judgment
After the belief in Unity of God, the Ahmadi Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment, emphasizing it in most of their teachings. They believe that the whole world will come to an end on the Day of Judgment and the dead will be raised from death and account for their deeds. People of good deeds will enter heaven while those of bad deeds will be thrown into hell.
The Ahmadi Muslims believe that the eventual outcomes of the actions in the universe are controlled by divine decree. They believe that man is also given free will to make choices. However, they believe that they will be judged on the basis of the intentions of their actions on the Day of Judgment. They also believe that Adam was just one of the prophets and not the first human on Earth as being understood in the Quran.
Apart from the Pillars of Islam and the Articles of Faith, the Ahmadiyya community has distinct teachings that set them apart. These teachings include the following:
That Jesus did not die on the cross but rather died in Kashmir and that His second coming was a metaphor of someone else who will come from God who would reflect the quality of Jesus but born among the Muslims.
They also teach that no verse in the Quran counters or cancels the other. All the verses in the Quran carry the same weight and have the same validity.
Ahmadi Muslims categorize Jihad into three: greater, great, and smaller Jihad. They believe that Jihad was rendered inapplicable in military form by Mirza.