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November 11th, 2009

Did Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad create dissension?

Submitted by Omar.

Excerpts taken from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s book The Promised Messiah (English Rendering by Sheikh Muhammad Tufail Sahib)

[All bold emphasis mine]

1. Assessing the truth of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s mission:

There are many people who are bent on opposing Mirza Ghulam Ahmad without thinking of, or understanding the true nature of his mission. They never take the time to ponder whether he was beneficial or not to the cause of Islam and Muslims in general. Remember well, that the question of good and bad is a question of actual facts and not one of religious beliefs and opinions. At the moment, I do not want to discuss what the claims of Hazrat Mirza are and whether they are in any way opposed to the beliefs of the Ahl-i Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. This question can only be raised when there exists a doubt about it. When he has declared not only once, but scores of times that his beliefs are the same as the beliefs of the Ahl-i Sunnah, the question of discussing these beliefs does not arise. Thus the point at issue is only whether Hazrat Mirza has been harmful or beneficial to the cause of Islam and the Muslim world.

2. He did not create dissension among Muslims:

In what ways has he been harmful? The greatest charge attributed to him is that he has damaged the solidarity of Islam by creating a new sect. This is even asserted by intelligent Muslims, but they never take the trouble to look into the facts. Did unity among Muslims exist before him? The fact is that Muslims were fighting against one another over things of minor importance, thus sundering and disrupting the unity of Islam. The condition in India was such that cases of quarrels over the saying of Amin in a loud or low voice were brought before the High Court. Pronouncing one another as unbelievers (kafir) was the main occupation of the Muslim `ulama. Where was the unity of Islam which was damaged by Hazrat Mirza? Perhaps somebody can lay the charge that with the appearance of Hazrat Mirza on the scene, the differences among Muslims were further augmented. If he had, in fact, drawn the attention of his followers to the trivial matters over which Muslims were already fighting, then, this new sect or new Movement should undoubtedly be blamed for expanding the dissension among Muslims. But in spite of this, a storm of opposition was raised against the claims of Hazrat Mirza and pronouncements of heresy were issued against him and a lot of his time was wasted in clarifying his position. Still, he turned the greater part of the activities of his followers towards defending and propagating the message of Islam in India and abroad. He wished the ulama were patient with him for some time and see whether his mission was for the good of Islam or not, and if it damaged the interest of Islam, they would have been justified in their campaign against him, but no one really listened to him. In spite of all that, he produced valuable literature about Christianity and the Arya Samaj – and this was extensively used even by his opponents for the defence of Islam against the powerful onslaughts of the Christians and the Arya Samajists.

Another contemporary movement among the Muslims which came into existence at the same time was that of the Ahl-i Quran (People of the Quran). As this movement was not based on the Quranic verse, He sends down angels with revelation by His command on whom He pleases of His servants (16:2), therefore all its energy was spent on the minor internal problems in which Muslims were already deeply engrossed. If it is said that this movement of the Ahl-i Quran, in fact, increased the existing dissension among Muslims, it would be nearer to the truth. But a movement which was particularly made the target of attacks by the ulama of Islam and did their best to destroy it completely, was a movement which, in fact, became the source of strengthening the cause of Islam. Instead of entangling itself in internal skirmishes, it stood in defence of Islam against its external foes. To say that this Movement has enlarged the gulf of dissension among Muslims is to close one’s eyes to relevant facts. The day all Muslim sects unite against the foes of Islam and spend their time and energy in the defence and propagation of Islam, as Ahmadis have done, dissension in Islam will disappear. Hazrat Mirza revived the principle that if there are ninety-nine signs of disbelief (kufr) in a person and only one indication of Islam, that person should still be considered a Muslim. This has laid down a solid foundation for the unity of Islam. If this principle is accepted by Muslims, it will have far-reaching effects on them and will give back to them their lost power and glory.

Some people, by neglecting the distinction between sectarianism and difference of opinion, regard all differences of opinion as an attempt at creating disharmony and discord in Islam. The Quran says:

As for those who split up their religion and became sects, thou hast no concern with them (6:160).

The meaning of splitting up the unity of religion and becoming divided into sects is obvious, but some people have a wrong understanding of this verse. It does not and could not mean that Muslims should not differ with one another in any respect. It was, however, not surprising to find differences of opinion in a nation that was spread all over the world. The Holy Prophet had declared difference of opinion to be a mercy for his ummah, which shows that in difference is also hidden the secret of the progress of the ummah. Difference only comes into existence by the expression of an opinion which in turn helps to clarify and improve the intellectual and mental faculties of a person. Islam advocates unity, but unity in the principles of religion. In other matters in Islam, there is wide scope for differences. Becoming divided into sects and having differences of opinion are not one and the same thing. Sectarianism is a curse but difference of opinion is a blessing. The companions of the Holy Prophet themselves differed on certain questions although the Quran was revealed in their presence, and the words of the Holy Prophet reached their ears and they were direct recipients of spiritual blessings from him.

3. What is Sectarianism?:

The Kharijites [1] were the first who were responsible for the creation of sects in Islam. There have been reports in which it has clearly been mentioned about them that they shattered the solidarity of Muslims, not because they differed with the companions of the Holy Prophet on some matters, for difference existed among the companions also, but because it was they who started takfir (pronouncement of unbelief) among Muslims. At that time, Hazrat `Ali and Hazrat Mu’awiyah were engaged in a battle. The Kharijites sided with `Ali but they demanded that `Ali should declare Mu’awiyah and his collaborators kafirs (unbelievers) and outside the pale of Islam. Hazrat `Ali refused to do so and clearly said:

“They are also our brothers who have revolted against us; we do not declare them unbelievers or transgressors (fasiqs).

If some thought is given to the verses of the Quran on this point, it would be clear that Muslims have been forbidden from two things; these are, from becoming divided into sects and from splitting up the religion. Both of these are the result of takfir. Any group that declares the other to be kafir (perhaps that group is greater in number and calls itself the greatest group among Muslims), when it indulges in the takfir of the professors in the Kalimah (there is but One God and Muhammad is His Messenger), has indeed created divisions in the ranks of Islam and has destroyed the basis on which Muslims could unite. When the essence of religion is confined to a few problems in which one group differs with the other, and the principles of faith are completely neglected, this is how the religion is split. The result is that all one’s energy is wasted on matters of peripheral importance. The parties are so engaged in such trivial differences that nobody cares whether the foundation of faith itself is being destroyed. The basis of sectarianism is, therefore, the pronouncement of unbelief (takfir) against Muslims. The sad aspect of the story is that when people start condemning one another over minor differences, the strength of the nation becomes weak. Power which ought to have been used for the progress of Islam is frittered away in trying to decry one another.

When the Quran laid the great foundation of Islamic brotherhood and stated: Innamal mu’minuna ikhwatun (Verily the believers are brethren – 49:10), it did not overlook the possibility of the rise of honest differences among Muslims. At the same place it was pointed out that if two parties of the believers quarrel, make peace between them (49:9). Now, both the contending parties have been considered believers here. This is the lesson which Muslims have forgotten today. The tolerance which Muslims were expected to show towards the followers of other religions should have been observed to a greater extent among themselves. They ought to have learnt to respect the ideas of others and to tolerate differences of opinion among themselves. But their present condition is such that the moment a person differs from them on any point he is immediately declared to be an unbeliever and a heretic. To torture and molest him in all possible ways is regarded as a deed of great virtue. The main problem is not that among Muslims there are people who differ in their opinions, which is, however, one of the essential requisites for the progress of Islam, but that Muslims cannot tolerate honest difference of opinion. On the other hand, the companions of the Holy Prophet showed great broadmindedness regarding the diversity of views among themselves.

If, however, a people differ with other people on some matters and they prefer a different opinion, this cannot be called sectarianism. When on account of this difference, one brother Muslim is declared an unbeliever and is subjected to persecution, which is mistakenly thought to be a meritorious deed and a source of great reward (thawab), it is then that the evils of sectarianism take root in a society. A person is not guilty of sectarianism when, having complete faith in the Kalimah and the Quran as the Word of God, he considers some of the ideas or customs and habits of Muslims as being against the Quran and Hadith. If this is sectarianism, then the scope for the reformation of Muslims will be closed. The day when Muslims are delivered from the curse of takfir, the day when they cease making plans for destroying one another, their differences will indeed be a blessing in disguise.

[1] Literally means “those who went out.” Kharijites were members of the earliest of the religious sects of Islam which rose during the time of Hazrat `Ali, the fourth Khalifah. They were known for their fanaticism, extremist proclamations and terrorist actions. They branded everyone who disagreed with their point of view an infidel and outside the pale of Islam. (SMT)

One Response to “Did Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad create dissension?”

  1. Analysis of those who accuse Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib of creating dissension.
    Mullah Ka Tasawar Pakistan
    (Mullah’s Concept of Pakistan)
    By Athar Nadeem
    Article from Pakistani daily ‘AajKal’ dated November 12, 2009.

    Large print:

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