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QUESTION & ANSWER: Islamic Concepts

31The Review of Religions – January 2003 What are the claims of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The claim of the Founder of the Movement essentially was that he had been appointed by God as the Reformer of the age. This basically was the claim but it covered many aspects. In reality, the present age, which is referred to as the ‘Latter Days’ in the scriptures of various religions, is the age about which m a ny religions contain the prophecy that a world Reformer would appear to usher in the era of a Golden Age of mankind, for the ultimate unification of mankind. Hindus, for instance, refer to him as the reappearance of Krishna; the Jews are expecting a Messiah who has yet to come. Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) prophesied that he himself would re – appear and Prophet Muhammad ( Peace be upon him) h a d prophesied that in the Latter Days a Reformer would appear in two guises. One would be under the title of al-Mahdi and the other under the title of the Messiah— ‘Messiah son of Maryam’, that is, Christ son of Mary. The fundamental question that needs to be raised here is whether all the QUESTIONER Islamic Concepts During his visit to Nigeria in 1988, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was invited by BTV, a Nigerian television company, to take p a rt in a series of telev i s e d interviews. During these sessions a number of questions regarding Islam and Ahmadiyyat were raised by the BTV presenter and presented below are answers to some of the questions raised during these sessions. Prepared by Amatul Hadi Ahmad 32 The Review of Religions – January 2003 p rophesied Reformers wo u l d come simu l t a n e o u s ly or only one p rophecy would be fulfilled and hence would be true and the re s t false? On the other hand, if all the p rophecies are true and eve ry R e former appears but ap p e a r s under a diffe rent name – wo u l d this not give rise to re l i g i o u s conflict in the name of God? Such a scenario is there fo re not only u n t e n a b l e, it is illogical. Unless one accepts the Ahmadiyya p e r s p e c t i ve that the diffe re n t names given to the Reformer who was to appear in the Latter Day s a re titles – only one Refo r m e r was to appear re p resenting all the [ p rophesied] Reformers. Thus it is that the unification of re l i g i o n would be brought about. A c c o rding to the claims of the P romised Messiah, that is, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya C o m mu n i t y, this Reformer was to be born a Muslim who was to be the fo l l ower of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, that is, the tradition of the Holy Pro p h e t (peace ande blessings of Allah be upon him). Fur t h e r m o re, the R e former was to be the same person who was entitled both ‘al- Mahdi’ and ‘Messiah’. The R e fo r m e r, according to the Founder of the Ahmadiyya C o m mu n i t y, was also to re p re s e n t all the Reformers about whom p rophecies had been made in the past in other religions that he would appear for the re fo r m a t i o n of mankind. In short, the Ahmadiyya interpretation of all such earlier prophecies is that instead of all the diffe re n t R e formers appearing separately and calling to various paths, only one person would appear as the R e fo r m e r. The one Refo r m e r would re p resent all the other expected Refo r m e r s . Are you saying that the Founder of the Movement is the last of the Prophets? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: N o, that is not the case. In Islam the term ‘last of the Prophets’ is a ve ry technical term which ap p l i e s o n ly to the Holy Prophet of Islam, P rophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He is the ‘last’ in the sense that his Book, that is his teaching, is the last teaching, his QUESTIONER Islamic Concepts 33The Review of Religions – January 2003 wo rd is the last, he is the last Master whose path is to be fo l l owed. Hence, anyone who appears as subordinate to the H o ly Pro p h e t( s a ) cannot be a d i f fe rent or independent Pro p h e t at all. As far as the authority is concerned, the last Prophet with authority is Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The position of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (peace be upon him) is exactly that of the Mahdi [which means ‘one who has been guided’]. The Ahmadiyya M ovement is called ‘ A h m a d i y ya’ ap p a re n t ly after the Founder of the M ovement. The ques- tion that arises here is that you believe in Prophet Muhammad but the Muslims generally do not call themselve s ‘Muhammadans’. There appears to be a contradiction here – why do you try to personify your movement? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The first issue that needs to be re s o l ved here is [one of definition]. How is Ahmadiyyat to be viewed – to be as a religion or as a sect? Under Islam, Muslims a re divided into various sub-titles such as, for example, the Brailvis, Wahabi, Sunni, Shi’a and Maliki, Hanbali, Shafae’i, and so on. The question should be why do such titles exist under Islam? They exist not to indicate that they are d i f fe rent religions but exist only to indicate the diffe rent ap p ro a c h e s to Islam. Just one wo rd of the title indicates the general beliefs held by those who belong to that sect. This makes for a simpler pro c e s s of identification and intro d u c t i o n when one is asked about one’s beliefs. Rather than explaining at length one’s beliefs and the sect to which one belongs, eve ry time one is asked to do so, a single wo rd is sufficient to signify the beliefs a person generally holds – whether he belongs, for instance, to the Shi’a or the Sunni sect, or whether his allegiance is to the Wahabi sect or to some other g ro u p. QUESTIONER Islamic Concepts 34 The Review of Religions – January 2003 You say that you have to m a ke a distinction between yourselves and the rest of the Muslim sects. Why do you need to make this distinction? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: The Foudner of the Ahmadiyya Movement has himself explained the significance of choosing this name Ahmadiyya. He states, and this is an accepted fact among all Muslims, that the Prophet of Islam, P rophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), had two names associated with him, one is ‘Muhammad’ and the second one is ‘Ahmad’. His name ‘Muhammad’ is mentioned in the Old Testament and his name ’Ahmad’ is mentioned in the New Testament as ‘Paracleet’ [which has the same meaning as the word ‘Ahmad’]. During the first appearance of the Prophet Muhammad, there was a full manifestation of his first attribute of ‘Muhammad’. In the Latter Days it was his second attribute, the attribute of ‘Ahmad’ that was to be unfolded in full. However, because the latter days a re also associated with the coming of the Messiah, it is so ap p ropriate that the name by which the Messiah, Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) referred to him, should be unfolded at the time the ‘Messiah’ himself was to represent Islam in the Latter Days, and that name is ‘Ahmad’. The differences between the two names, ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad’ is that the name ‘Muhammad’ signifies strength and glory in the same way as was manifested at the time of the appearance of Moses (peace be upon him). Pro p h e t Muhammad (peace be upon him) is similar to Moses in the grandeur, s t rength and glory. Pro p h e t Muhammad (peace be upon him) became a Messenger and in his l i fetime became victorious. However, in the situation faced by the Messiah we find a completely d i f fe rent kind of manife s t a t i o n . Instead of the strength and glory, there was perseverance in the face of persecution combined with a peaceful effort to convert others through persuasion and love. QUESTIONER Islamic Concepts