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Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

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Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
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Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (February 13, 1835May 26, 1908) was a Muslim religious figure and the founder of the Ahmadiyya religious movement in Islam.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad remains a controversial figure to this day because of his claims to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, and because of the movement he established. Most (but not all) of his followers consider him to be a prophet, raising even more controversy among mainstream Muslims.

Contents

Chronology of Events

1835 born 13 February. 1849 Punjab incorporated into British Empire. 1851 marriage to Hurmat Bibi (later separated). 1857 Indian Mutiny. 1864 Reader in a Court in Siakot (4 years). 1865 First Revelation. 1865 Evidence that the founder of Sikhism was a Muslim. 1875 Fasted 8 or 9 months. 1876 Death of father. 1878 Postal dispute over letter rate. 1878 Challenge of Arya Sammaj. 1880 Publication of Brahin-e Ahmadiyya started. 1882 Appointed Reformer of Islam. 1883 He built Mobarak Mosque in Qadian. 1884 Spots of Blood revelation. 1884 publication of Brahin-e Ahmadiyya Vol.IV. 1884 married Nusrat Jehan Begum. 1886 spent time in retreat at Hoshiapur,had revelation of Promised Son. 1886 Challanged Arya Sammaj. 1886 Mobahala (prayer) challenge. 1888 Debates with Christians. 1888 Revelation to take Bai'at (Oath of Allegiance). 1889 Set out the conditions of Bai'at. 1889 Founded Ahmadiyya Movement. 1889 Birth of Promised Son Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad. 1890 Claimed to be Messiah of Muslims and Christians. 1891 First Annual Gathering in Quadian. 1891 Announced that Jesus is dead not alive in heaven. 1893 Prophesy disgrace of Pandit Lekh Ram. 1894 Sign of Eclipses fortelling Imam Mahdi appear. 1895 Sat Bachan published re: discoveries about Sikhism in 1865. 1896 Interfaith Conference in Lahore. (The Philosophy and Teachings of Islam). 1897 Pandit Lekh Ram died. 1897 False charges brought for murder of Dr.Martin Clark. 1897 Al-Badar newspaper first published. 1902 John Alexander Dowie challenged. 1903 Dowie in USA responds to challenge. 1905 The Will published. 1905 Last volume of Brahin-e Ahmadiyya published. 1907 Dowie dies in utter disgrace. 1908 Died in Lahore.

Biography

Ahmad was born in Qadian Punjab in India on 13 February 1835 (or 14 Shawwal 1250), the surviving child of twins born to a well-off family. It is reported that he was always interested in the people around him, often thinking of them instead of himself. He spent a lot of time in the mosque and with the study of the Qur'an and his religion, Islam. This did not lead him to fulfill his father's wishes of his son becoming a lawyer or civil servant. Still, Ahmad would be pulled into his father's preferred career path at times, but he would remain devoted to religious learning, and teaching. In his course of studying religious topics, he would often interact with many Muslims, non-Muslims, and with Christian missionaries with whom he would have great debates.

When Ahmad was forty years old his father died. At this time Ahmad claimed that God had begun communicating with him, often through direct Revelation . (The prophet of Islam, Muhammad also received his first revelation at forty years of age). Initially, Ahmad's writings from this time were intended to counter what he perceived to be anti-Islamic writings originating from various Christian missionary groups. He would also focus on countering the effects of various groups such as the Brahmo-samaj.

As time progressed, his writings would begin to exhibit his claims of being the mujaddid or reformer of his era. These writings were compiled in one of his most well-known works: Barahin Ahmadiyya, a work consisting of a number of volumes. In later volumes, he would essentially claim to be the messiah of Islam. This proved and continues to be very controversial, as traditional Islamic thought holds that Jesus is the Messiah, who himself will return in the flesh at the end of times. Ahmad countered this by claiming in his book Jesus in India that Jesus was dead, and had in fact escaped crucifixion and died in India. According to Ahmad, the promised Mahdi was a spiritual, not military leader as is believed by most Muslims. With this proclamation, he also began to step away from the traditional idea of militant Jihad, and redefined it as a “spiritual” battle rather than a physical one. In addition to these controversial claims, he would later claim that Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, was in fact a Muslim.

These writings began to turn the general Muslims ulema (religious clerics) against him, and he was often branded as a heretic. To add to this controversy some of his followers would later claim him to be a prophet, while others maintained that he was a prophet in a metaphorical sense only.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's claim is based on his personal interpretation of various verses of the Qur'an, Hadith, prophecies of past Saints and astronomical signs of eclipses. The list is extensive and details are available from multiple sources listed in the links at the end of this article. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad prophesied thousands of prophesies and claimed that God will spread his community of His to all countries of the world as this prophecy has in his book "The Narrative of Two Martyrdoms" The exact wording of his prophecy for understanding his inspiration and believed. "Listen O ye people! This is the prophecy of Him Who has created the Heavens and the earth! He will spread this community of His to all countries of the world, and will grant it victory with powerful arguments and signs. The days are coming, nay, they are near, that there will be only one faith which will be regarded with respect in the world. God will bestow extraordinary and unprecedented blessings upon this community. This dominion will stay for ever until the Judgment Day. If someone mocks at me, their mockery can do me no harm. There is no prophet that has not been mocked at. It was, therefore, necessary that the Promised Messiah also face the mockery.. The third century from today would not have been completed when all who await the physical descent of the son of Mary, whether they are Muslims or Christians, will utterly despair of that belief and will discard it. Then there will only be one faith and one Spiritual Leader. I have come only to sow the seed. So I have sown the seed. It will now grow and prosper. No one can stop it."

Controversy

The teachings of Ahmad and the beliefs of his followers are a great source of controversy among Muslims, especially in Pakistan where most Ahmadis live. Many Islamic leaders have pushed the Pakistani government to label Ahmadis as non-Muslims, and have succeeded in recent years. In Pakistan, it is illegal for the Ahmadis to practice or preach their religion, and many hundreds of them are charged with preaching their religion, or with Contempt of Prophethood, the legal punishment for which, is death. Likewise, a good number of Islamic websites on the Internet are devoted to trying to prove that Ahmadis are heretics. The Ahmadiyya Movement stands in the same relation to Islam in which Christianity stood to Judaism.

Among the most controversial issues that trouble other Muslims are:

  • The issue of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's prophethood, whether allegorical or real.
  • His claim that he was the Messiah rather than a returning Jesus
  • The claim that he was the Mahdi
  • Ahmad's reluctance towards a militant interpretation of Jehad
  • His belief that the Qur'an cannot be Abrogated

Ahmad's claim to Prophethood

Muslims in general hold the belief that no new prophet can come after Muhammad. They do however believe in the return of Jesus himself at the “end of days”.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad referred to himself as a “prophet” in his writings and claimed to be the second coming of Jesus. Hence this claim is abhorrent to most Muslims. Followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are divided into two camps as far a belief in his claim to prophethood is concerned. For details see Ahmadi.

Allegations of being a British agent

Some accused Ahmad of working for the British who were trying to use him to remove the concept of Jihad from Indian Muslims, in order to quell any desires that they may have had for fighting against the British Rule of India. Ahmad's father had a close relationship with the British and was awarded land and wealth by them due to his support of the colonial regime during the Indian Mutiny. However, defenders of Ahmad justify this by claiming that Ahmad's father saw the British as protectors of Muslims from the Sikh regime that had previously ruled Punjab. Defenders of Ahmad also state that his declared mission against Christianity, the religion of the British empire, was inconsistent with allegations of him being a British agent.

Abrogation of the Qur'an

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad objected to the belief among Muslims of his time that one verse of the Qur'an can supersede another, called Abrogation. He believed that the Qur'an was the revealed Word of God and contains no imperfections. Any apparent contradiction in the Qur'an is due to a misunderstanding and the reader's understanding. Lexical methods must be used to find the original medifferent in meaning than 1400 years ago. The Qur'an is protected by God, but common Arabic usage is not. By reconciling two apparently divergent verses, one comes to a understanding of the Qur'an as the revealed Word of God.

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