Division and Unity

Review of Religions: December 200144 Questioner: I wish to ask how we can know that of the seventy-two sects which exist within Islam why is the Ahmadiyya Community the right one? Hadhrat Mirza Ta h i r A h m a d: This question was first raised about fourteen hundred years ago and was asked directly of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ( s a ) of Islam and his answer is obviously the best answer. A better answer could not possibly be given to this question than the answer that has already been given by the Holy Prophet Muhammad( s a ), the Founder of Islam. His answer makes this apparently diff i c u l t issue very easy to resolve. The question in itself is very difficult particularly for a newcomer to Islam, such as yourself, who finds Islam divided into seventy-two sects plus one, that is, the Ahmadiyya Community. It is not so much a question of whether the Ahmadiyya Community is right or whether the others are right – it is an open question for all. Of the seventy-three sects one is the Ahmadiyya Community and seventy-two other sects each one of which claims to be the sect whose followers are deemed to enter heaven. For a newcomer who may be a convert from Christianity or from some other religion, this situation presents great confusion and requires a very diff i c u l t judgement to be made. However, consider the greatness of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) of Islam when we discover how easy he has made it for us to decide upon this question and how simply he has resolved this issue. He was asked the same question by one of his Companions – the question was: O’ Prophet of Division and Unity Hadhrat Mirza TahirAhmad, the Fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, from time to time offers to people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs the opportunity of raising questions and issues that are of interest to them. Presented below is an answer to a question that was raised in a session held at the London Mosque on 14 September 1984. Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad Review of Religions: December 2001 Division and Unity 45 God! How will we find out which one out of the ‘seventy-two’ (or ‘seventy-three’) sects is the sect that will enter heaven and which ones are the sects that are bound for hell (as had been described by the Holy Prophet( s a ) e a r l i e r ) ? Before proceeding further, however, it would be helpful if we consider briefly the background to this question. The question arose as the Holy Prophet( s a ) w a s explaining to his Companions how in the future a time would come upon Islam when the Muslims would be divided into seventy-two sects and another sect, (a Jama’at), that would be in addition to the seventy-two sects and would be a distinct entity, separate from the other seventy-two sects. He further stated that the seventy-two sects would be hell bound and the one distinct Jama’at will be heaven bound. These were the words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) of Islam – as translated by me. Hearing this description from the Holy Prophet( s a ), one of his Companions became concerned and asked the question as to how we could find out which one of the seventy-three was that fortunate sect? This is a very diff i c u l t question indeed but consider the answer – the Holy Prophet( s a ) stated: Ma ana alaihe wa ashabi, (that is, those who follow my example and that of my Companions), thus simplifying what was otherwise a very complex issue. In other words, the Holy Prophet(sa) was stating that you need not be in any doubt as to which of those sects is on the right path – the sect that you find to be in a situation closely resembling mine and that of my Companions, that would be the sect whose followers would be heaven bound. The question here arises as to what was the situation of the Holy Prophet(sa) and his Companions and who was responsible for creating [the extreme hardships and cruelties that they had to endure]? An understanding of the answer to this question simplifies the whole matter. The Holy Prophet( s a ) and his followers were not permitted to proclaim La ilaha illallah M u h a m m a d – u r- Rasulullah (meaning ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger’ – Division and Unity Review of Religions: December 200146 this being the first article of faith of Islam). For uttering these words, the early Muslims were cruelly punished. They were dragged along the stony streets of Mecca and were at times put to such extremes of torture as can possibly be invented by evil human beings. The Meccans thought up various kinds of torture with which the Muslims were tormented merely for uttering the words: La ilaha illallah Muhammad-ur- R a s u l u l l a h. They were, in fact, forbidden to do so. The next question that arises here and needs to be addressed is to ask which sect today is not permitted, in a Muslim country, to utter the same words: La ilaha illallah M u h a m m a d – u r- R a s u l u l l a h or to inscribe these words upon the walls of its mosques? It is the Ahmadiyya Jama’at, none other, that is receiving such harsh treatment. The other sects within Islam have their animosities and their hostilities between themselves – each sect opposes the other and there is no doubt about this. Each sect declares the other to be an infidel but each permits the other the use of the Kalima, that is to pronounce La ilaha illallah Muhammad-ur- Rasulullah – that is ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger’ . The only sect that stands alone and is distinct in this is the Ahmadiyya Jama’at. The Government agencies come along with the Mullahs and they wipe out the K a l i m a themselves from the walls of the Ahmadiyya mosques. They have to do this themselves because the Ahmadis do not acquiesce to such demands and they refuse to commit the outrage of erasing with their own hands the Kalima, that is, the words ‘La ilaha illallah Muhammad-ur- Rasulullah’. Such events decide one thing very clearly which is that in our time the situation that was faced by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) and his followers is being repeated and is being faced only by one sect and that is the Ahmadiyya Community. The Holy Prophet( s a ) and his followers were also not permitted to build mosques. It is on record that during the Meccan days, Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddique, who later became the first Caliph of Islam, built a mosque in his own Review of Religions: December 2001 Division and Unity 47 courtyard as the Muslims were not permitted to build mosques outside. He was, however, stopped from building a mosque even in his own courtyard. A mob of Meccans entered his house forcibly and told Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddique that he could not build a mosque as it was not permitted – not even in a Muslim’s own courtyard. Exactly the same situation was repeated in our own time in Karachi, Pakistan, a few months ago. Generally, this has been happening for a long time. Ahmadiyya mosques have been damaged, demolished and even burned down – that is a common story. This particular incident, however, was almost an exact repeat of the incident that took place in Hadhrat Abu Bakr S i d d i q u e ’s courtyard many hundred years earlier. In Karachi, a mob entered the house of an Ahmadi and stopped him and other fellow Ahmadis from offering congregational prayers in his house saying that his house had been turned into a mosque and they would not permit it. They said that they felt insulted and were deeply hurt if an Ahmadi offered congregational prayers in his own house. [The anger of the mob] endangered the family’s lives so much that they had to leave their house and were given refuge in a neighbour’s house and this is a common story. Is there any other sect in Islam that shares this situation with the Holy Prophet(sa) and his Companions? There is none other than the Ahmadis. Furthermore, Ahmadis are told by their opponents that they are not going to be accepted as Muslims to the extent that they are not permitted even to name themselves as Muslims. It is we, the non- Ahmadis, they say, who have the right to give you a name and we have named you either ‘Mirzai’ or ‘Qadiani’ – but not Ahmadis. In other words, they say that the title of ‘Muslim’ is out of the question but we will not permit you even to name your own sect. At the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) the Muslims were treated in the same way. It has been recorded in the Holy Qur’an that the Muslims were told by the Meccans that your name is ‘Saabi’ and not Muslim. Hadith, (i.e. a record of the actions and sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa)), also speaks of this in Division and Unity Review of Religions: December 200148 detail and tells us that on one occasion Hadhrat Umar Farooq [who was later to become the second Caliph of Islam] went to the Kaaba, the holy place of worship in Mecca. He had someone with him to declare that he, that is, Hadhrat U m a r, had become a Muslim. Upon hearing this announcement, the person who made the announcement was mobbed and beaten up by the Meccans who said that they could use the word ‘ S a a b i ’ but not ‘Muslim’. T h e name ‘Saabi’, they asserted, was permitted as they had chosen that name for the followers of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) but to declare themselves as Muslims, that was preposterous and was not to be permitted. Another Companion of the Holy Prophet( s a ) was violently attacked for the simple act of declaring himself to be a Muslim. His own words regarding this event have been recorded and preserved in history. He said that he was so violently beaten up that he lost his sight and he did not know which way he was going. This is the punishment that has also been meted out to Ahmadis. Simply for declaring themselves to be Muslims, Ahmadis in Pakistan have been imprisoned, they have been thrown into filthy lavatories and kept locked up there by the police who told them that this was their punishment for insisting upon calling themselves Muslims. Is there any other sect in Islam that is or has been treated like this for calling themselves Muslims? T h e answer has to be that the Ahmadiyya Jama’at is the only sect that has been treated in this way. In short, we are told that we are not permitted to offer prayers in congregation. We are declared renegades and the punishment for renegades according to the Mullahs is stoning to death or to be killed – by whosoever whishes to do so. Daily we receive reports from Pakistan that under the marshal regime [of General Zia] which is extremely sensitive to its own criticism – even the slightest finger raised against it is ‘cut off’– yet it is very lenient towards the Maulvis and the Mullahs who declare that Ahmadi life and property should be confiscated in the light of Islam. They do not mind that the Mullahs go on preaching openly to all that to kill Ahmadis is not forbidden – they Review of Religions: December 2001 Division and Unity 49 preach in fact that to kill an Ahmadi is to find a way to heaven. This situation has persisted for a long time and nobody seems to check and no one minds. This, however, was exactly the state of affairs that the Holy Prophet(sa) and his Companions had to face. It was openly declared that whoever kills a Muslim, a follower of the Holy Prophet(sa) would be performing a good deed that would be rewarded. They declared it to be a commendable act if the homes of the Muslims were looted or forcibly occupied and their ladies were dishonoured – whatever offences they wished to commit against the Muslims were, in fact, permissible. This is what happened to the Holy Prophet ( s a ) and his followers and the same is happen- ing to us. In Pakistan, the cruel treatment of Ahmadis reaches such extremes that at times some government officers themselves recoil from it. This is because cruelty in the end does have an affect on human nature. Sometimes it happens that those who witness cruel acts reach a threshold beyond which they cannot tolerate witnessing that cruelty being perpetrated. I have just received a report of a Marshall Law Administrator who observed for a time the cruel treatment in his region of Ahmadis at the hands of the Mullahs and their followers. The Mullahs in that region were particularly hostile and treated Ahmadis so abusively and cruelly that ultimately it proved too much for the Administrator to bear – it went beyond the limits of his toleration. Consequently, he called the Mullahs and admonished them severely. He pointed out to them that if their cruel acts against the Ahmadis were repeated, they would be severely punished. The words he used were to the effect that from now on if the Mullahs tried to send the Ahmadis to hell, as they claimed to do, he would be sending the Mullahs to hell – so they should be prepared for this. Such incidents show that in face of the cruelties perpetrated against the Ahmadis, some of the opponents are breaking down themselves as did many an opponent of the Holy Prophet M u h a m m a d( s a ) who ultimately broke down in the face of extreme cruelty being perpetrated against the followers of the Holy Division and Unity Review of Religions: December 200150 Prophet(sa). Hadhrat Umar Farooq, for instance, became a Muslim because of the oppression of the Muslims and the cruel, inhuman treatment of the Muslims that he witnessed. It sometimes so happens that the hardness of the oppressor softens in face of the cruelty meted out to the oppressed and this appears to be what happened to Hadhrat Umar Farooq. In short, take all these situations that were faced by the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) of Islam and his Companions, and you will find that all of them are found together in one sect alone and that is the Jama’at Ahmadiyya. The similarity is brought even closer when one considers the fact that even Hajj, the Pilgrimage to Mecca, is not permitted for the A h m a d i y y a Jama’at. In 1974 when the Ahmadis were declared to be non-Muslims, (by an Ordnance of the Government) they were also forbidden by the Pakistani Government to perform Hajj. The Saudi Government also took the same action at least against the Pakistani A h m a d i s . They generally close their eyes to Ahmadis coming to their country from other directions for the purpose of performing Hajj, if they can afford to do so. However, if the matter comes to their attention openly then they find that they have to impose their regulation to prevent Ahmadis from performing the Pilgrimage. One of the questions that naturally arises here is to ask who was the first person in history who was prevented from performing the Pilgrimage to Mecca and the answer is that it was the Holy Prophet( s a ) of Islam himself who was prevented from performing the Pilgrimage at the time of the Agreement of Hudaibiyya. It is named after the field of Hudaibiyya where the agreement was reached between the Meccans and the Holy Prophet(sa) and his followers. It was there that he was prevented from going further in the direction of Mecca. Since that time now, in the present time, it is the members of the Ahmadiyya Community, as a sect, who are prevented from performing the Pilgrimage to Mecca. Review of Religions: December 2001 Division and Unity 51 The circumstances [in which the Ahmadiyya Jama’at finds itself] speak for themselves and this is the beauty of the answer given by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) in that a decision in this matter does not require one to be a learned person [it makes it possible even for an illiterate Muslim to make a decision for himself]. However, if it were the case that the Muslims had not been provided with such a simple solution to this question, it would still have been binding upon them to make a judgement as to which of the seventy-three sects was right and, therefore, heaven bound. In a binding injunction lack of knowledge cannot be permitted as an excuse for one’s inability to reach the right judgement. It can be argued, however, that in such a scenario an illiterate person could complain before God that God had Himself ordained his birth in an illiterate family and thus it was an impossible task for him to discover the truth through making a study of the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam. In short, the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam has saved us from all such difficulties by giving an answer which can be understood equally by the illiterate as well as the literate, by the black as well as the white because these events are a part of the history of Islam that is known to everyone. Every Muslim, right from his childhood, is taught about the circumstances that the Holy Prophet(sa) and his Companions had to encounter. Hence, even in the remotest corners of the Muslim world the Holy Prophet’s(sa) guidance in this matter provides a light for all to see. In conclusion, I think this is the best proof we have of our truth, of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at being the sect that is right. However, if you wish to investigate this issue in greater depth, there is literature available on this subject in different languages that can help you to pursue this matter further.