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Khilafat in the Ahmadiyya Movement: Detailed article with references

Anjuman made successor by the Promised Messiah

It was in his booklet entitled Al-Wasiyya (The Will), published about two and a half years before his death, that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced the creation of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, and formulated its main objectives, rules and regulations. He wrote:

“If Allah wills, this system will continue to function after the death of us all. For this purpose, an Anjuman is required which shall spend, as it determines fit, the funds which shall accumulate from this income, coming in from time to time, on proclaiming the teachings of Islam and propagating the message of the Oneness of God.”

— Al-Wasiyya, published December 1905, p. 17.

In an Appendix to Al-Wasiyya, the Promised Messiah published some rules and regulations of the Anjuman, from which we quote below as they show the position he gave to this body:

“9. The Anjuman, which is to hold these funds, shall not be entitled to spend the monies for any purpose except the objects of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and among these objects the propagation of Islam shall have the highest priority.”
Therefore the Anjuman was to be in control of all the finances and funds of the Ahmadiyya movement. It was to receive all the income of the movement and to determine how to spend it.
“13. As the Anjuman is the successor to the Khalifa appointed by God, it must remain absolutely free of any kind of worldly taint.”
Here the Promised Messiah calls the Anjuman as his successor. It is the Promised Messiah who is “the Khalifa appointed by God” and his successor is the Anjuman created by him.

Rules and regulations of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya

In February 1906, more comprehensive rules and regulations of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, as approved by the Promised Messiah, were published in the Ahmadiyya community’s newspaper Badr.

Go here to read some essential points from these rules.

It is evident from these rules and regulations of the Anjuman, and the powers given to it, that the Promised Messiah established it as the supreme governing authority of the Ahmadiyya movement after him. There is no trace whatsoever in these rules of any system of personal khilafat or of any office of a khalifa having supreme authority over the movement. Therefore the Qadiani concept and system of khilafat is totally alien and opposed to the instructions of the Promised Messiah, and an utter negation of the system set up by him.

Anjuman to be supreme after Promised Messiah’s life

About a year later, it so happened that Mir Nasir Nawab, father-in-law of the Promised Messiah, opposed a certain decision of the Anjuman. When this disagreement was brought to the notice of the Promised Messiah, he wrote down the following verdict about the authority of the Anjuman, in his own hand-writing:

“My view is that when the Anjuman reaches a decision in any matter, doing so by majority of opinion, that must be considered as right, and as absolute and binding. I would, however, like to add that in certain religious matters, which are connected with the particular objects of my advent, I should be kept informed. I am sure that this Anjuman would never act against my wishes, but this is written only by way of precaution, in case there is a matter in which God Almighty has some special purpose. This proviso applies only during my life. After that, the decision of the Anjuman in any matter shall be final.

Was-salaam. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 27 October 1907.”

Go here to see this note in the Promised Messiah’s own hand-writing.

This clear verdict of the Promised Messiah confirmed the Anjuman’s position as the supreme authority of the Ahmadiyya movement after his life-time, its decisions being final and binding. No individual head or khalifa was to have the power to set aside, revoke, or go against any decision of the Anjuman.

Anjuman’s powers explained at the December 1908 annual gathering

The note mentioned above was read out before the Ahmadiyya community at the December 1908 annual gathering (jalsa salana), the first one after the death of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. During this conference Maulana Muhammad Ali presented the report of the work of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya on the morning of 27th December 1908. At the end of his report, he read out this hand-written note of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This was reported as follows in the Ahmadiyya community newspaper Badr:

“A hand written note of the Promised Messiah was read, the summary of which is that after him all decisions of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya will be final.”

Badr, dated 24–31 December 1908, page 13, column 1.

After Maulana Muhammad Ali’s speech, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din addressed the gathering and spoke about the position of the Anjuman in the Movement. He said:

“Around 22 December 1905 the Promised Messiah received a revelation that very few days remained [of his life]. Upon this, he immediately wrote and published his Will, and separated himself almost entirely from the management of the Movement, handing over all the work to the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, as if he was ready to meet his Maker at any moment. Then God, in order to belie the predictions of certain false claimants to revelation, granted him life for a further two and a half years. Because of this, he saw in his own life the system working which was to come into effect after him. From 1882 to 1900 he sowed a crop entirely by his own labour with the help of God. But when the time came to reap the crop and eat the fruit, he gave it not to his offspring nor to his relatives, but to a man who had come from outside [meaning Maulana Nur-ud-Din]. For me there is no greater proof of his truth. The Holy Prophet Muhammad conquered the land but in the end made it unlawful for his own descendants to receive the zakat that came. This example of selflessness without personal interest was only again seen in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, peace be upon him. …

Anyhow, this Imam has appointed this Anjuman as his successor.”

Badr, dated 24–31 December 1908, page 13, column 1.

The gathering at which these speeches were delivered was the largest ever Ahmadiyya meeting up to that time. It was attended by the leading figures in the Ahmadiyya Movement including the head, Maulana Nur-ud-Din. Also present was Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad himself (who also gave an address) and others who were later prominent in the creation of the Qadiani group. This shows that it was a well known and publicised fact that the Anjuman had been designated by the Founder of the Movement as his successor for running the Movement.

These speeches also show the sense in which Maulana Muhammad Ali and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din accepted Maulana Nur-ud-Din as Khalifa. They regarded him as a head but who was within the system in which the Anjuman was the supreme executive body. This entirely refutes the Qadiani allegation that, by accepting Maulana Nur-ud-Din as Khalifa, the Lahore Ahmadiyya leaders had accepted the khilafat system. That khilafat system which the Qadianis mention, in which there is an autocratic the Khalifa possessing absolute, despotic power, was created by them after the Split of 1914.

Maulana Nur-ud-Din’s exposition of Anjuman’s position

During his period as head, Maulana Nur-ud-Din too considered the Anjuman as being the khalifa of the Promised Messiah for governing the Movement. During the course of his khutba on the occasion of ‘Id-ul-Fitr on 16th October 1909, he re-iterated the position and the powers given to the Anjuman by the Promised Messiah. Referring to the booklet Al-Wasiyya, he said:

Scan of extract from original newspaper:
Badr, 21 October 1909
“In the writing of Hazrat sahib [i.e. the Promised Messiah] there is a point of deep knowledge which I will explain to you fully. He left it up to God as to who was going to be the khalifa. On the other hand, he said to fourteen men: You are collectively the Khalifat-ul-Masih, your decisions are final and binding, and the government authorities too consider them as absolute. Then all those fourteen men became united in taking the bai‘at (pledge) at the hand of one man, accepting him as their khalifa, and thus you were united. And then not only fourteen, but the whole community agreed upon my khilafat.

“…I have read Al-Wasiyya very thoroughly. It is indeed true that he has made fourteen men the Khalifat-ul-Masih, and written that their decision arrived at by majority opinion is final and binding. Now observe that these God-fearing men, whom Hazrat sahib chose for his khilafat, have by their righteous opinion, by their unanimous opinion, appointed one man as their Khalifa and Amir. And then not only themselves, but they made thousands upon thousands of people to embark in the same boat in which they had themselves embarked.”

— Newspaper Badr, Qadian, 21 October 1909, p. 11, col. 1.

The following points emerge very plainly from this speech:

  • The Promised Messiah made no mention of any individual to hold the office of khalifa in the Ahmadiyya movement in a personal capacity.
  • He appointed the Anjuman, a body of fourteen men, as a collective khalifa, whose decisions he declared as absolute, final and binding.
  • In the eyes of the law of the land too, the decisions of the Anjuman were final and binding in the affairs of the Ahmadiyya movement; in other words, the Anjuman was a legally registered association with the power of governing the movement.
  • It was the Anjuman which, by its unanimous agreement, had decided to accept one man, Maulana Nur-ud-Din, as the head or khalifa. The Maulana did not become khalifa because there existed any office or position of a personal khalifa in the Ahmadiyya movement who would have supreme, absolute power over the movement.

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad usurps Anjuman’s authority

The establishment of the Anjuman on these principles by the Promised Messiah prevented anyone from becoming an autocratic head or creating an inherited spiritual seat (gaddi) in the Ahmadiyya Movement, as had been the fate of previous Muslim spiritual orders. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, having exactly these ambitions of wielding absolute power, resented the formation and the powers of the Anjuman, and from the very time of the creation of the Anjuman he did all that he could to have it rendered powerless.

In March 1914, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was successful in his long-standing plans to gain the headship of the movement upon the death of Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din. Immediately thereafter, having first ensured that no opposition could be voiced against him in Qadian, he had the following resolution of the Anjuman passed by his supporters:

“By Resolution 198 of the Majlis-i Mu‘timidin (Council of Trustees) held in April 1914 it was resolved that in Rule no. 18 of the rules of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian, in place of the words ‘Promised Messiah’ the words ‘Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad the second Khalifa’ shall be entered. Therefore, Rule no. 18 shall now be as follows: In every matter, for the Majlis-i Mu‘timidin and its subordinate branches if any, and for the Sadr Anjuman and all its branches, the order of Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad the second Khalifa shall be absolute and final.”

— Review of Religions, Urdu edition, the issues for April 1914 and May 1914, inside of the front cover.

By this resolution, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad removed from the Anjuman its position of supreme authority given to it by the Promised Messiah, and raised himself to the Divinely-appointed status of the Promised Messiah by writing his own name in Rule no. 18, giving his orders supremacy over the Anjuman’s decisions. He thus destroyed the system created by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and replaced it by personal, autocratic rule by a khalifa, the concept of which is in complete violation of the principles of Islam as well as the teachings of the Promised Messiah.

It will be seen that when Maulana Nur-ud-Din became head, he did not substitute his name for that of the Promised Messiah in this Rule. On the contrary, he followed the regulations laid down by the Promised Messiah regarding the powers of the Anjuman.

Therefore, the sense in which M. Mahmud Ahmad made himself khalifa was entirely different from, and quite opposed to, the sense in which Maulana Nur-ud-Din was khalifa. This is one of the main reasons why those, like Maulana Muhammad Ali, who accepted Maulana Nur-ud-Din as khalifa could not accept M. Mahmud Ahmad as khalifa.

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s 1925 speech: makes Anjuman entirely subservient to khalifa

By means of the change in the rules referred to above, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad arrogated himself to the position of an absolute leader whose orders had to be obeyed unquestioningly by everyone in the movement. Despite this amendment and despite the fact that the Anjuman now consisted entirely of his own supporters, he still felt insecure that the Anjuman might seek to regain its authority some time in the future.

In a speech in October 1925, therefore, he laid down a new system of administration, reducing the Council of Trustees to an entirely subservient body. In this speech, published under the title Jama‘at Ahmadiyya ka jadid nizam ‘amal (‘A new system of working for the Ahmadiyya Movement’), at the very outset he attacked the principles upon which the Anjuman was founded, and declared:

“As I have said again and again, the name Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya and its method of working were devised by others and not by the Promised Messiah. But since the approval of the Promised Messiah had been given in respect of it, I have decided that all those names which were established during the time of the Promised Messiah should be retained.”

Al-Fazl, 31 October 1925, p. 3, col. 1. (See original text.)

He then announced his decision that the names Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya and Majlis-i Mu‘timidin (Council of Trustees) would be transferred to certain other bodies, so that their names would be retained but the institutions themselves would cease to exist!

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s statement given above is self-contradictory and indeed plainly absurd. Firstly, he admits that the Promised Messiah had given his approval of the name and the rules of the Anjuman, but he says that these were “devised by others” and then attacks the rules. This amounts to alleging that the Promised Messiah approved these rules merely at the behest of “others”, without himself knowing or caring that these would be harmful to the Movement, and now Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was going to rectify the Promised Messiah’s error!

Secondly, since in his view the names as well as the rules were “devised by others” and merely approved by the Promised Messiah, it is entirely illogical for him to retain the names because of their association with the Promised Messiah’s time but destroy the rules. The rules were also from the Promised Messiah’s time. Therefore, the names and the rules should both be eliminated or both be retained!

M. Mahmud Ahmad’s admissions in his speech

There are several very interesting and revealing admissions made by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad in this speech. He said:

“The founding principle of the Council of Trustees (Majlis-i Mu‘timidin) did not include the existence of the khalifa of the time, which is the very fundamental issue in Islam. A resolution has been passed during the second khilafat to the effect that the Council must accept whatever the khalifa says. But this is not a matter of principle. What it means is that a body of members says that it would do so. However, the body which is entitled to say this, can also say that it shall not do so. For, the Anjuman which can pass the resolution that it shall obey the khalifa in everything, if ten years later it says that it shall not obey him, it is entitled to do so according to the rules of the Anjuman. Or if the Anjuman says that it will obey this khalifa in everything but will not obey another one, it has the right to do so according to its rules, as happened in the time of the first khalifa.”

— Al-Fazl, 3 November 1925, p. 3, col. 1. (See original text.)

Here Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made the following admissions:

  • There is no mention of the concept or the institution of a personal khilafat in the basic principles of the Anjuman, upon which it was created by the Promised Messiah.
  • It is within the Anjuman’s powers to revoke at any time its resolution, which he got it to pass in 1914, to follow the khalifa’s orders. This shows that the Anjuman was not originally created to be subservient to any individual leader, but was the supreme and sovereign executive of the Movement. He is, in fact, expressing his fear that the Anjuman may at some time in future decide to re-assert its original authority and cease to be subservient to an individual khalifa.
  • He says: “…it [the Anjuman] has the right to do so according to its rules, as happened in the time of the first khalifa”. This is a clear admission that it was the Anjuman’s own decision to obey the first khalifa (Maulana Nur-ud-Din), and according to its rules the Anjuman was entitled to refuse to extend this to obey the khalifa after him.
Mirza Mahmud Ahmad then goes on to say:
“For the sake of the khilafat we had to make an unparalleled sacrifice. And that was that we sacrificed for its sake the old followers of the Promised Messiah, those who were called his friends, those who had a very close relationship with him. If this religious difference had not arisen between them and ourselves, they would be dearer to us than our own children because they included those who knew the Promised Messiah and those who were his companions, and had worked with him. … But because a difference arose regarding a teaching which was from God, and which had to be accepted for the sake of our faith and the Jama‘at, we sacrificed those who were dearer to us than our children. So, over this question, we have made such a magnificent sacrifice that no other sacrifice can equal it. This is far greater than sacrificing one’s life because in that case a man sacrifices only himself. But here we had to sacrifice a part of our Movement.
“If even after so much sacrifice the movement still remains insecure, that is, it is at the mercy of a few men who can, if they so wish, allow the system of khilafat to continue in existence, and if they do not so wish, it cannot remain in existence, this cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Because the institution of khilafat was not included in the basic principles of the Jama‘at, the movement lives in the constant danger which can turn pledged members into non-pledged members, and by the stroke of the pen of ten or eleven men Qadian can at once become Lahore.

“Therefore, the works of the Jama‘at relating to propagation and training cannot be entrusted to such an Anjuman, even though that Anjuman may consist of pledged members, and even though they may be men of the highest sincerity.”

— Al-Fazl, 3 November 1925, p. 3, cols. 1–2. (See original text.)

(Translator’s Note: The word translated as “pledged members” is muba‘een, referring to “those who have taken the bai‘at” of the Qadiani khalifa.)

Here Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made the following interesting admissions:

  1. He and his supporters forced the “old followers, friends and companions of the Promised Messiah” out of the Ahmadiyya Movement, which he describes as “an unparalleled sacrifice” made by the Qadianis, in order to establish an autocratic khilafat. This clearly disproves the allegation made commonly by the present-day Qadianis that the separation in the Movement in 1914 came about because Maulana Muhammad Ali was trying to become the head, and having failed in that attempt he left and formed his own separate group. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad says here, on the contrary, that “we had to sacrifice a part of our Movement” for the sake of the system of khilafat. In other words, Maulana Muhammad Ali and his associates were opposing the system of khilafat which Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was striving to introduce, and this opposition was thus purged, or “sacrificed”, out of the Movement.
  2. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s words that “by the stroke of the pen of ten or eleven men Qadian can at once become Lahore” are highly note-worthy. He is admitting that what makes Lahore different from Qadian is that the Lahore Ahmadis hold the Anjuman to be supreme, and if this supremacy was again accepted in Qadian then Qadian would become Lahore. Since that is the difference, as admitted here, then it is false to allege that the Lahore Ahmadis separated from Qadian because Maulana Muhammad Ali failed to become the khalifa there. If that had been the reason for the split, then the only way Qadian could become Lahore would be by accepting the Maulana as their leader!

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad makes Anjuman totally powerless

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad then went on to announce in this speech that in his new system the term Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya would refer to “the khalifa and his advisors”, the advisors would advise and the khalifa would decide, and this would be known as the decision of the Sadr Anjuman. The Majlis-i Mu‘timidin (Council of Trustees) would merely carry out the decision without question.

It can be seen that these institutions, which had been created by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, were demolished by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad in order to create a system of absolute, autocratic, personal rule, and establish a family succession.

 See Urdu texts from Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s 1925 speech.