Ahmadiyyat Today (II)

26 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MARCH 1985 AHMADIYYAT TODAY (II) By Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, Imam of the London Mosque THE PRESENT LEADER The present leader of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at is Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Tahir Ahmad, who was elected to the exalted office of Khilafat at the age of 54 on 10th June, 1982. He was born on 18th December, 1928, at Qadian. After graduation from Government College, Lahore, he enrolled at the Jamiatul Mubashireen for theological and oriental studies at the level of Shahid. After serving the Movement in Pakistan for some time, he arrived in London where he studied at the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London. Keenly interested in sports, this resilient athlete harbored a spirit for adventure and outdoor life. During his stay in London, he toured the Continent with a rucksack on his back, staying at various youth hostels. He returned to Pakistan where he held numerous offices in the Ahmadiyya Movement. He is very pragmatic and foresighted; a practicing scholar, an elo- quent orator and a lover of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. Besides possessing a deep knowledge of the philosophy and teachings of Islam, he is an acknowledged historian who has kept up to date with the latest secular research and discoveries of man. He has visited Europe and America several times for the purposes of research studies and the propagation of Islam. MAIN TEACHINGS Ahmadiyyat is nothing but true Islam. It could, therefore, be said without exaggeration that the main teachings of Ahmadiyyat are those which have been taught and set forth by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement himself makes this point clear in his writings. He says: “I believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. And in the life after death. I do believe in the Great Book of Allah, /. e., the Holy Quran, and I follow the greatest of the Messengers of Allah, The Khatamul-Anbia, Muhammad Mustafa (peace and MARCH 1985 AHMADIYYAT TODAY (II) 27 the blessings of Allah be upon him) and surely I am a Muslim. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, the One, there is none to associate with Him, and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger. O my Lord, Grant that I live a Muslim and die a Muslim and raise me up with the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection. Thou knowest what is in my heart and none knoweth it but Thee and Thou art the best witness. Let everyone bear witness to this written statement of mine. And the All- Knowing, All-Hearing God is surely my witness, first and foremost, that I do believe in everything that converts even a non- Muslim into a Muslim. And I do believe in all which is given in the Holy Qur’an and the authentic Hadith.” (Tabligh-i-Risalat, Vol. 21, pub. 1891). “Nobody enters my Jama’at except one who enters the fold of Islam and follows the book of Allah and the Sunnah of our Master, the Best of Creation, and has firm faith in Allah and His Messenger, the Noble, the Merciful, and the Day of Resurrection and in Paradise and in hell; and solemnly promises and declares that he would never choose a religion except Islam and that he would die with firm faith in the truth of this, holding fast to the Book of Allah, the All-Knowing, and that he would translate into action whatever is to be found in the ‘Sunnah’ of the Holy Prophet and the Holy Qur’an and the concensus of the Companions of the Holy Prophet; and whoever abandons these three, throws himself in hell.” (Mawaheb-ur-Rahman; p. 96, pub. 1903) Despite the fact that Ahmadiyyat is nothing but true Islam, there are some points on the interpretation of which there exists a dif- ference of opinion between Ahmadies and the generality of the Muslims. Hereunder I mention some of the main issues where we are divided: 1. It is generally believed that Jesus Christ is alive in the heavens with earthly body and shall descend from there in the latter days. We believe Jesus to have died a natural death. There are several verses of the Holy Quran which support our view and the first Ijma of the Ummah leads us to the same conclusion. At the demise of our belov- ed Prophet, peace be upon him, Hazrat Abu Bakar, recited from the Holy Qur’an. “The Holy Prophet is but a prophet. There have been pro- phets before him and they had all died. If he also should die or be put to death, -would they turn back upon him?” (3:145) To say that the same Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, was to descend from heaven to regenerate Islam is tantamount to limiting the powers of the Almighty. We believe that God is All-Powerful. He 28 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MARCH 1985 has no need to resuscitate Jesus of Nazareth. He can raise a teacher from among the followers of the Holy Prophet, install him as the Promised Messiah and charge him with the duty of reforming the world. How can anyone, who deliberates over this subject in a pro- per manner, insist that the Power of God requires God to bring the first Messiah back to life. God is not poor. He is Powerful. If He finds that His servants need someone to guide them, He does not have to put life into a dead prophet. He is able to raise one from amongst His living servants to reform and lead the people. 2. We believe that as the Holy Prophet Muhammad is Khatamun Nabiyyin (Seal of the prophets) no prophet can now come who could supersede him, or who should give the world a new Kalima or a new Qibla or a new religious law or alter any part of the law of the Holy Quran. It is said in the Holy Qur’an: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your males, but he is a Messenger of God and Khatam al-Nabiyyin.” (33:41) Some people argue that according to the above, there can be no prophets now, even from among the followers of the Holy Prophet. But they seem to forget that in the divine text the word used is khatam and not Khatim. The word Khatim would mean ‘the last per- son’ or the ‘the last one’. The great doctor of Hadith, Imam Bukhari, has interpreted the divine title, Khatam al-Nabiyyin, as ‘Seal of the Prophets’. A seal has the function of attestation, not termination. It should be evident that the assertion in the second part of the verse is in extenuation of what is conceded in the first. The first part concedes an apparent defect, namely, that the Holy Prophet had no physical male issue. On the face of it, there is a contradiction with what is asserted in another well-known verse of the Holy Qur’an: ‘Verily, not you, but your enemy is without issue.” (108:4) To resolve this contradiction, God makes an important claim on behalf of the Holy Prophet in verse 33:41. the claim is to repel the doubt or difficulty which the admission of this contradiction may easily raise. The claim is this: True, the Holy Prophet has no physical son. But this is no disgrace. It does not mean that he really is without offspring or progeny. Why? Because he is a Prophet of God. As a Prophet of God, he would have his followers as his spiritual progeny, which would more than compensate for any lack of physical progeny. But he is more than a prophet. He is also the MARCH 1985 AHMADIYYAT TODAY (II) 29 Seal of the Prophets. The expression ‘Seal of the Prophets’ asserts something further. It asserts that not only will the Prophet have followers and believers of the usual order; but also as ‘Seal of the Prophets’, he will have the further power of raising others to the spiritual rank of prophethood. He will be the progenitor not only of ordinary believers but even of prophets. 3. We believe in the obligation of Jehad. Without Jehad, accord- ing to us, belief cannot be made perfect in Islam. The weakness of Islam and of Muslims, the decay or the disappearance of belief, that we observe today on all sides, are due to casualness in the matter of Jehad. What we deny and resist vehemently is the view which makes it right to shed blood, to spread disorder and disloyalty, and to disrupt peace in the name of Islam. We are not against Jehad. The cry of (so called) Jehad is heard again and again and from many different quarters. But what was the Jehad to which God and His Prophet invited Muslims? And what is the Jehad to which we are invited today? The Jehad to which God invites us in the Holy Quran is described in the verse: “So obey not the disbelievers and strive by means of it (i.e., the Qur’an) a great striving.” (25:53) The greatest Jehad, therefore, is Jehad with the help of the Quran. Is it such a Jehad to which Muslims are invited today? How many are there who turn out to strive against disbelievers with only the Qur’an in their hands? Are Islam and the Qur’an so utterly devoid of inherent merit and attractiveness? If Islam and the Qur’an cannot attract people today by their intrinsic beauty, what evidence have we for the truth of Islam? Human speech can change hearts. Can the speech of God change no hearts? Can it bring about no change in the world except with the help of the sword? Long human experience shows that the sword cannot effect a change of heart and, according to Islam, it is a sin to try and convert a people through fear or favor. This passage from the Holy Qur’ an leaves no doubt whatever that a religious war is not permitted by Islam unless it is against a people who force another people to abjure their religion, unless, for instance, Muslims are forced to abjure Islam. A religious war may be justified when there is interference in religion. But even when permitted, a religious war is not intended to force a people to give up their faith, nor is its purpose to desecrate or destroy places of worship, or to kill. The purpose of religious wars is to protect 30 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MARCH 1985 religion, and to save from disgrace and destruction all places of wor- ship, irrespective of the denomination to which they belong. Only such a religious war is permitted by Islam. Islam stands as a witness for other religions and protects them. Islam is no party to violence or cruelty or repression. The Jehad sanctioned by Islam is to make war against a people who prevent others by force from accepting Islam, or who wish to force people to deny Islam. It may be made against a people who kill others because of Islam. Only against such a people is the makig of war permissible in Islam. Against any other people war is wrong and contrary to Islam. War, not sanctioned by these conditions, may be a political war, a war between two countries or two peoples. It may even be a war between two Muslim peoples, but it will not be a religious war. THE CHIEF AUTHORITIES FOR THESE TEACHINGS The supreme authority in all matters of religious requirements is the Holy Qur’an. This is the final law of God which forms the basis of the Islamic Sharia (Law). The second source of authority is the Sunnah (practice of the Holy Prophet) and Hadith (Sayings of the Holy Prophet). These are paramount sources which form the basic authority. But in all matters Qur’an takes precedence over Sunnah and Hadith. If any Hadith is found contrary to the verdict of the Holy Qur’an this is rejected. The law of Sharia is quite extensive and the Fuqa’ha have made great advancements in understanding the let- ter and spirit of Sharia. In such matters we follow Fiqha Hanafiyya. Our Qazis are asked to follow Hanafi jurisprudence when deciding cases that are brought before them for decisions. But the firm princi- ple that the Holy Qur’an always takes precedence over all other sources is never neglected. The Holy Founder of the Movement, from time to time, has stated his own decisions on certain issues where there are differences amongst various schools of thought. In such situations the verdict of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam is accepted.