Written by: Hazrat Ameer Professor Dr Abdul Karim Saeed Pasha.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who are successful.
And be not like those who became divided and disagreed after clear arguments and come to them. And for them is a grievous chastisement. (Holy Quran, 3:104-105)
The three key words used in the title are Ahmadiyyat, defence and spreading. In my talk, I will give an introduction of the Ahmadiyya Movement and highlight the role it has played in defending and spreading Islam.
Right in the beginning, I would like to clarify that Ahmadiyyat is neither a new religion nor a new sect in Islam. It indeed is Islam in its purest and original form. As its Founder (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian) writes and I quote:
“Our religion is the same Islam. It is not new. There are the same prayers, the same fasts, the same pilgrimage and the same zakat. But the difference is that these duties are now performed in outward form only, without any true spirit in them; we want to infuse in them the spirit of sincerity. We want these duties to be performed in such a way and manner that they are effective.” (Talk on 12th July 1907, reproduced in Malfoozat, vol. 9, p. 312.)
In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that as Muslims and Ahmadis we firmly believe that Allah Almighty has sent prophets for the guidance of mankind through all ages. With the Finality of Prophethood, no prophet will come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. There will, however, remain the need to remove any deviations that have occurred in the religion as a result of misinterpretations or introduction of wrong traditions into Islam, especially those that are against its basic concepts and teachings. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be on him, foretold this.
We believe that the person who was chosen by Allah to present to the world the true picture of Islam, to defend it against the onslaught of propaganda, misrepresentations and misinterpretations; to rouse it from slumber and spread it again as a living religion was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. He did not bring any new religion or a new sect in Islam. This is apparent from the fact that Mirza Sahib did not give his Movement any name for about twelve years after it was founded. However, by this time many people had started referring to his followers as “Mirzaees”. Since he had no desire to have any group of Muslims to be associated with his personal name, Hazrat Mirza Sahib issued an announcement giving his Movement the name ‘Muslims of the Ahmadiyya Section’. The rationale for this name, he explained, was that ‘Ahmad’ was one of the two names of the Holy Prophet (the other name being Muhammad). The names ‘Ahmad’ and ‘Muhammad’ symbolised the inner and outward glory of Islam, respectively. Therefore, it was appropriate that the Movement, which believed that Islam’s mission in the present age was to show the beauty of its teachings by gentle preaching, should be given the name Ahmadiyya. Founding of a Jama‘at [Movement] also fulfilled the requirement of the Quranic verses I recited at the beginning. Ahmadiyya Movement are the party from among the Muslims who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.
Ahmadiyyat is a spiritual movement that believes that spiritual experiences are actual, objective realities and it stresses the necessity of man attaining nearness to God. Yet, it is also a rational movement, which applies the test of reason in understanding belief, and does not accept blind faith nor accounts of miracles and supernatural occurrences when these are unsubstantiated and without purpose.
It is a liberal movement in the interpretation of Islamic teachings and law, but it derives its liberal stance from the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Ahmadis firmly and totally adhere to the injunctions of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
It is a modern movement in that it believes that Muslims must accept all the good that the modern world has to offer and adjust to the new times and not to retreat into a closed world of their own. Yet it also preaches most emphatically that the modern world cannot survive unless it accepts Islamic principles for its moral and spiritual development.
It is a tolerant movement, which believes that Islam allows full freedom of thought, belief, religion and expression to all, non-Muslims as well as Muslims. It believes in developing dialogue, understanding and co-operation both between Muslims and non-Muslims and among Muslims belonging to different sects. At the same time, the Movement strives to the utmost to convince others that the truth, in its whole form, is to be found in Islam only, and that the mission of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the most effective and appropriate way for the progress of Islam in this age.
Having presented to you a brief introduction to the Ahmadiyya Movement I will move on to the second key word I have used and that is defence. I have used this word in the sense of protecting, guarding and securing. The question arises, was Islam ever in danger from any force or was there any danger to its existence and so needed to be protected. If that was true then did the Ahmadiyya Movement play any role in its defence?
To answer this question, let me take you back in time to around 1876 when Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and Christianity, the three great movements of the time joined hands to annihilate Islam. Following their lead other minor forces of the time both religious and political launched a full out attack on Islam.
Arya Samaj was an offshoot of the Hindus. This movement was formed to wipe out Islam and in accordance with its manifesto it leashed out malicious propaganda against Islam and the person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The world was flooded with books, pamphlets and missionaries under the instructions of Swami Dayanand, the founder of Arya Samaj.
This was a time when the Muslims of the world in general and those of India in particular, were caught in great turmoil. The political condition of Muslims had hit an all-time low. All Muslim states were falling like dominoes to foreign occupation forces. The Muslim rule in India, Sudan and Egypt was lost to the British; that in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco was lost to France. Spain had occupied parts of North Africa; Tripoli (Libya) was taken by Italy; Zanzibar had been divided between the Germans and the British. Turkistan was taken by Russia and Afghanistan was reduced to the status of a native princely state of India, and was completely under British influence. The Arabian Peninsula had no life left in it. The defeat of Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), Muslim Ruler of Mysore, India, who battled against the British rule in India, was the last nail in the coffin of Muslim hopes.
The religious position of Muslims was even weaker than their political one owing to their illiteracy and inability to cope with the challenges of the developing world. As they were not able to defend their religion logically, the scholars and preachers of other religions found them an easy target. They raised false accusations about Islam, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the Holy Quran. Millions of Muslims embraced other religions in shear frustration. Such was the desperation of the Muslims that many poets had started lamenting the hopelessness of the Muslims in their poetry. The most renowned Muslim poet of the period, Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali very accurately depicted this condition of the Muslims in a long poem titled ‘Mussadas-i-Hali’. The state of his desperation can be gauged from the very opening verses in which he says:
If you want to see how the nations fall,
See the falling of a tree that stood tall.
Witness Islam in its declining days,
It is unable to see the distant rays.
It is convinced there will be no rise,
After the sun has set from the skies.
In a few more verses, that I have further translated for you, he goes on to say:
You may liken this sleeping Nation,
To a sinking ship; in an ocean deep.
The shore is far; the storm is raging,
Those aboard see waves high and steep.
They make no effort to save their ship,
For they hate to wake from their sleep.
The dark clouds cover them from all sides,
Wrath of God is descending from the sky.
Death is approaching from all around them,
The calls of warning are approaching nigh,
‘Why have you forgotten the glory of yester-years,
‘Why this slumber, when will you open your eye.’
This Nation, takes no heed,
This Nation has accepted its fall.
This Nation, has fallen to the ground,
This Nation does not heed the call,
This Nation, has neither shame for its decline,
Nor envy for those that now stand tall.
The crusades that the Christian missionaries had started against Islam, at that time, were not like the crusades of the middle ages, waged with arms. These were waged with the pen. Their attack on Islam was four-pronged:
Firstly, it was based on exploiting the ascendant position ascribed to Jesus through the wrong interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith [Sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] by the Muslim ‘ulama’ [clerics]. This made Jesus not only look superior to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, but also endowed him with a touch of divinity.
Secondly, they collected a horde of mythical and fabricated sayings and wrong interpretations by the Muslim clergymen of the allegorical verses of the Quran.
Thirdly, they used objections raised by the atheists and the materialists against, religion in general, and Islam in particular.
Fourthly, they published numerous books based on fabrications implicating the Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Many pictures like the one showing the Holy Prophet worshipping the sun and another showing him holding the Quran in one hand and a sword in the other were distributed to defame Islam.
The ‘ulama’ of the time were unacquainted with the English language, sciences and the Western philosophy, so they were unable to respond to the allegations. They responded by issuing fatwas or decrees of kufr [heresy] on those who challenged Islam. As Maulana Hali says, and I translate for you his verse:
Once they declare the day to be night,
They insist on it with all their might,
Till everyone agrees they are right.
This then was the situation when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian claimed to be a Mujaddid [Reformer in Islam] and stood up to defend Islam. He wrote eighty-three books in order to show the real face of Islam to the world. The first and the most renowned of these books, Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya was published in 1884. In this work the truth of the teachings of Islam was established by forceful arguments, and the objections against Islam by Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and Christians were powerfully refuted. This book was widely lauded and Mirza Sahib was acclaimed as the defender of Islam. For example, after going through this book, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalavi, a top scholar and a leading figure of the Ahl-i-Hadith party of the Punjab, wrote the following review and I quote:
“In our opinion this book, at this time and in view of the present circumstances, is such that the like of it has not appeared in Islam up to now, while nothing can be said about the future. Its author, too, has been so constant in the service of Islam, with his money, life, pen and tongue, and personal experience that very few parallels can be found in the Muslims. If anyone considers our words to be an Asian exaggeration, let him show us at least one such book which so vigorously fights all the opponents of Islam, especially the Arya and Brahamo Samaj, and let him name two or three persons who have supported Islam, not only with their wealth, lives, pen and tongue, but also by personal spiritual experience, and who have boldly thrown the challenge to all the opponents of Islam and the deniers of Divine revelation, that whoever doubts the truth of God speaking to man, he may come and observe it for himself, thus giving other religions a taste of this experience” (Isha’at as-Sunnah, vol. vii, no. 6, pp.169-170).
All the books that followed were filled with irrefutable arguments in favour of Islam and also contained answers to the questions and objections raised by opponents of Islam. He delivered lectures, entered into debates and wrote and published thousands of pages in support of Islam. He created a Jama‘at, the sole purpose of which was to propagate and defend Islam. He firmly believed that the Quran is not dependent on the reason of anyone, but it contains its own reasoning within its covers. So he declared that the reasons presented by him are no other than the reasoning and arguments of the Holy Quran. Any philosophy, which agrees with the Quranic philosophy, is true, and any philosophy that is opposed to the Quranic philosophy is false, whether it be the philosophy of Aristotle or Plato, or whether it be the philosophy of Europe or America.
He was highly successful in fulfilling his holy mission within a period of less than thirty years. The Muslims now had in their hands valuable literature and solid arguments contributed by the Reformer and Defender of Islam, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani. This reversed the situation and the Muslims not only started coming back to their religion but also started converting people to it.
Having thrown light on how the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at has defended Islam, I come to the third key word of my speech and that is ‘spreading‘. I have used this word in the sense of propagation, increasing in number and presenting it anew in its true beauty and grandeur.
Having had success in India he turned his attention to carry the message of Islam to the other countries of the world, especially the West. He was convinced that the sun of Islam would rise from the West as was foretold by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Born, brought up and educated in a small village, Qadian, in Punjab, India, he had no formal education in English and had no access to the modern books on philosophy.
He was in communion with Allah and was chosen by Him to defend the religion and reform the Muslims and defend them against the onslaught on their religion. As he wrote:
“God has illuminated my heart with His Light and He talks to me and has appointed me so that I should declare to the world on the basis of my own observation and experience, that God exists and He is a Living God. Even today He discloses Himself to His chosen servants and answers their prayers and converses with them.”
The Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman undertook this Jihad [religious strive] of spreading and defending Islam. His able disciples like Hazrat Maulana Noor-ud-din, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali, Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, Mirza Wali Ahmad Baig, and many other revered and knowledgeable members of the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at fulfilled his belief and carried out the Jihad to propagate Islam.
Much is heard these days of jihad and of militant Islamic parties in Muslim countries, and elsewhere, calling on the faithful to put this teaching of Islam into practice in order to overthrow “man-made” or “satanic” systems of government and replace these with what is called Islamic rule and government. What is less in the public eye is the jihad which the Ahmadiyya Movement has been engaged in throughout the twentieth century, of peacefully disseminating knowledge of Islam in the world and striving to prove its truth, doing so particularly in Western countries. The battlefield of this jihad is not any territory on earth but the hearts and minds of human beings, and the weapons with which it is fought are not the guns and the bombs but arguments and evidence. This form of jihad is not merely a metaphorical or secondary interpretation of this well-known Islamic teaching, but it is, in fact, the real, the permanent and the greatest form of jihad. The repeated exhortations of the Holy Quran to the believers, to strive (do jihad) with their lives and property, all apply to the jihad of the peaceful propagation of Islam as much as they did to the battles which the Muslims had to fight in self-defence during the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
When in today’s materialistic environment it is held, by non-Muslims and Muslims alike, that success can only be achieved by means of political, military or some other worldly form of power, how can one believe that Islam, of all religions and ideologies, shall spread in the world without the support and backing of some power or state? This is the question we now explore.
The task was carried out through the strategy of translation of the Holy Quran into several languages including English, Urdu, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Russian and Javanese. Translation into several other languages is presently under progress. The Jama‘at has also produced a treasure of Islamic literature, which has attracted thousands of truth seekers to the fold of Islam. Added to this is the creation of missions and mosques in several countries of the world.
The Jama‘at has kept pace with modernisation and has fully used the electronic media. The Jama‘at and its branches are operating several websites in many international languages to provide access to users all over the world. Most of our literature is now available on-line.
In my address to you today, I have given you information about Ahmadiyya Jama‘at and thrown light on its role in defence and propagation of Islam. I have also told you how Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad gave back Islam its strength and identity and made it a religion of the global village he envisaged in the future.
I would like to conclude by asking myself a question and then trying to answer it. The question is, ‘Why the rejection of a man who defended Islam when it was facing pangs of death and presented it as a religion of peace?’
In the brief time at my disposal if I was to choose one reason only, it would be the claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib that the Promised Messiah and the Mahdi were to be raised from amongst the Muslim Ummah and their mission would be to spread Islam by knowledge, reason, argument and spirituality; the only way open being the pen and the personal example of a practising Muslim. This disappointed and disgusted the Muslims who were under the mistaken notion that the mission of the Promised Messiah and the Mahdi was to convert infidels at the point of the sword and establish an Islamic kingdom. This wrong notion was a major reason why the Muslims at large saw no great benefit in accepting a Messiah and Mahdi who was not going to fight and win them a kingdom. Thus the Promised Messiah had the same fate as the Messiah who was crucified because he could not deliver the Kingdom of God to the Jews in the sense they had perceived it.
Let us pray together for the progress and success of Islam and spread of its teachings in their true form and spirit as envisaged by the reformer of the time. Amen!