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Mirza Mahmud Ahmad admits that his followers falsely exaggerate their numbers
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Mirza Mahmud Ahmad admits that his followers falsely exaggerate their numbers

(First published in The Light & Islamic Review: Vol.72, No. 3, May-June 1995, p. 18–19; revised here August 2021)

In any discussion with members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, the first argument advanced by Qadiani Jama‘at members is that their numbers are much larger than those of the Lahore Ahmadiyya, and that this proves that Divine support, truth and right are on their side.

However, the teaching which has been revealed by Allah tells us that superiority of any group in number, size, resources, etc. is no evidence whatsoever of the truth of its beliefs or Divine support for it. On the contrary, we learn that it is generally the opponents of truth who greatly exceed the followers of truth in number. The Holy Quran gives a parable of an argument between two men, one an arrogant disbeliever in God and the other a humble believer. During the course of their exchange, the proud unbeliever looks down upon his materially poor companion with contempt and says:

“I have greater wealth than you, and am mightier in followers.” (18:34)

The disbeliever’s argument given above is exactly the one which the Qadiani Jama‘at members employ against us, an argument condemned by the Quran.

Again in the Quran those who, in numerical terms, are the “many” or the “most” are described as: (1) heedless of God’s signs, (2) deniers of the meeting with God, (3) wicked, (4) having no knowledge, (5) not believing, and (6) being ungrateful to God. (see 10:92; 30:8; 5:49; 7:187; 11:17 and 2:243) Therefore, a group’s numerical superiority is nowhere considered in the Quran as a proof of its truth; on the contrary, a large following is generally associated with the opponents of truth.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Promised Messiah, too, never regarded mere numbers as an indicator of success. He said:

“I am never pleased by the mere size of the Jama‘at. Although at present its size is 400,000 or more, a real Jama‘at is not one where people merely take the bai‘at with their hands. The Jama‘at can only deserve to be called the Jama‘at in the true sense if people adhere to the real purpose of the bai‘at, if they actually undergo a thorough transformation for the good, and their lives are cleansed of the pollution of sin.”  (Malfuzat, 1984 edition, vol. 10, p. 136)

Indeed, in his visions of the future the Promised Messiah was shown a time when people would turn their backs upon him, and he would be left almost alone. He writes:

“I saw in a vision that an angel came to me and he says: ‘People are turning away.’ So I asked him from whence he had come, and he replied in the Arabic language saying: ji’tu min hazrat-il-witr, meaning, ‘I have come from Him Who is alone’. I then took him to one side, in confidence, and asked him: ‘People are turning away, but have you too turned away?’ He said: ‘But we are with you.’ ”  (Anwar-ul-Islam, p. 52; Ruhani Khazain, vol. 9, p. 54)

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad once related the following dream:

“I am somewhere else and want to return to Qadian. One or two men are with me. Someone said: ‘The way is closed, there is a raging sea running.’ I looked, and indeed it was no river but a huge sea, flowing in a twisting course like a snake. We turned back because the way was impassable as yet and the route was terrifying.” (Malfuzat, 1984 edition, vol. 4, p. 298, 23 December 1902)

The Promised Messiah was shown in this dream that he, meaning his real mission, would be somewhere other than Qadian, and with him would be only a few men. Between that place and Qadian would be a huge, unbridgeable and impassable, gulf preventing his return. This is the gulf that exists between the real beliefs and mission of the Promised Messiah, as preserved by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, and the utterly distorted version of his teachings and aims as represented by the Qadianis. He is left with a few men, away from Qadian.

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad admits exaggeration in numbers made falsely by his followers

The second Khalifa of the Qadiani Jama‘at, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, admitted that his followers are in the habit of greatly exaggerating their numbers and indulging in falsehood. He said in a khutba in 1950:

“When people exaggerate the size of the Jama‘at and say: We are 1.5 million or 2 million in number … whereas the truth is that, although we have never conducted a count, in our estimate the number of people in the Jama‘at is approximately 200,000. We cannot see more than this. It is possible that if the branches overseas are taken into account this number may reach 300,000. The utmost limit, which it is absolutely impossible to exceed, is 400,000. But now some people in the Jama‘at, continuing to exaggerate, give a figure as much as two and a half million [2,500,000].

Some time ago a man asked me: How many people are in the Jama‘at? I told him that by my estimate it is about 200,000 in Pakistan and India. He said that a certain muballigh [missionary of the Qadiani Jama‘at] had told him that it is 2,500,000. I wrote to that muballigh and asked him: When did you conduct a census of the Jama‘at, and if you did, then why did you not let me know that the number of people in the Jama‘at is 2,500,000? He replied:

‘Twenty-five years ago, it used to be said that it is one million. So during this time, would it not have increased even to 2,500,000?’

Because a mistake was made twenty-five years ago, he has assumed that the Jama‘at now must be 2,500,000. To put it another way, he thought that since truth progresses, then falsehood should also progress and we should make efforts to make falsehood progress. I wrote to that muballigh that this is entirely false, and if other people tell a falsehood a muballigh should not follow them in telling the falsehood. …

The falsehood which is now uttered, that we number 2,500,000, has no advantage but instead leads to two drawbacks. One is that the man who says this, gives up propagation work because he thinks that there are 2,500,000 people doing this work, and so it makes no difference if he does not do it. The second drawback is that such a man is slow to pay his monetary contributions because he thinks that there are two and a half million people contributing, and so it makes no difference if he does not pay his contributions.”

(Friday khutba, 18 August 1950, published in Al-Fazl, 5 September 1950, p. 5)

According to this admission of “exaggeration”, the real size of the Qadiani Jama‘at was about one-tenth of that claimed by its followers!

Shown below is the image of the text from Al-Fazl (5 September 1950, p. 5, cols. 1–3), from which some excerpts have been translated above: