Distinguishing Features of the Ahmadiyya Movement
True Conception of the Ahmadiyya Movement
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
For the common people the question of Jesus Christ’s death is perhaps the only distinguishing feature of the Ahmadiyya Movement. This, however, is not correct. There is no doubt in it that this Movement has done a lot to clarify this point as it was an obstacle in the way of the propagation of Islam, and the claim of the Founder as the Promised Messiah is also based on this. If Jesus Christ is alive, his claim cannot be correct and if he is dead then certainly there is no other Messiah except Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in this ummah, but the greatest distinguishing feature of Ahmadiyyat is that it has revived the almost dead concept of God’s communication with men.
The foremost task to which the Founder devoted his attention after his claim of being a mujaddid was to demonstrate this truth once more to the world that God still spoke to His righteous servants. This was, in fact, the main theme of his first book, the Barahin Ahmadiyya; and even after this he has not laid so much emphasis on Jesus Christ’s death as on this subject. The basis of his claim, in fact, was the point that communion of God with man has been continued and will remain so forever. His real claim was that of mujaddidiyyah and a mujaddid (renovator) is a muhaddath whom God appoints to uphold the cause of religion. And muhaddath is a person who is not a prophet but God communicates with him frequently. Thus the basis of the Founder’s claim is that, in spite of the finality of Prophethood, God speaks with the righteous persons in this ummah. The claim of his being the Promised Messiah is a part and parcel of his claim to mujaddidiyyah; it is just one aspect of his claim of being a mujaddid. This aspect, no doubt, is based on the conception of the death of Jesus Christ but the basis of his real claim, that is of his being the renovator, is the phenomenon of Divine communication. If we go through the matter a little carefully we find that for the revival of faith in religion the first point is to prove the authenticity of Divine communication with man as this is what has been most vehemently denied in this age. The conception of a mechanical God in the form of the cause of causes is even admitted by a materialist but the real foundation of religion was, and is, on the fact of God’s communication with man. One book or another is considered to be the word of God by various nations of the world which shows that the basis of almost all religions is the phenomenon of Divine revelation. But there is no religion except Islam that advocates that even now God communicates with man as He used to do before. It has been expressly mentioned in the teachings of Islam that God’s speaking with man is one of His attributes and God’s attributes are never suspended. But this concept was so much weakened even among Muslims that for all practical purposes they had neglected this phenomenon. Wahabism was a strong movement in Islam which appeared before the advent of Ahmadiyya Movement, but its followers, called Ahl Hadith (followers of Hadith) also believed that God’s communication with men was meant for times gone by, although in authentic hadith it was clearly mentioned that there would be persons in this nation who would not be prophets and yet God would communicate with them. Under the influence of modern education, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan of Aligarh went rather far in this respect and entirely rejected the conception of God’s revelation to human beings. He thought that revelation only emanated from man’s own heart. This was in fact the ultimate result of that attitude which Muslims had gradually adopted towards religion. If this fundamental fact of revelation was thrown overboard, nothing was left of religion.
As has been discussed before, the whole structure of religion stands on this foundation. If it is said that God used to speak before and has ceased to do so now, then His speaking only becomes narrative of the past. Such an attitude creates serious doubts as to the very institution of religion. If God spoke before, He speaks now. If He does not do so, then we have no proof that He ever did so before. If speaking is a Divine attribute it could not be limited to one particular age. The first and greatest task of Ahmadiyyat was to clarify this point that God the Most High communicates with His righteous servants. Accordingly, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement established this point from the Quran and Hadith that Divine communication had not come to an end. The Quran clearly mentions that besides prophets, the gift of God’s revelation was also given to the pious and righteous servants of the previous nations, for instance, to the mother of Moses:
“And We revealed to Moses’ mother”,1
says the Quran, and to the disciples of Jesus Christ:
“When I revealed to the disciples”.2
At both these places the word wahy [revelation] has been used. Again, about the righteous persons of the ummah of Muhammad it has been mentioned:
“Those who say, our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved.”3
At another place we find:
“They shall have good news in this world’s life.”4
Again, in an authentic hadith it has been mentioned:
“There has remained nothing of prophethood except mubashshirat (good news).”5
In another report we find:
“Among those that lived before you of the Israelites, there were men who were spoken to by God, though they were not prophets, and if there is one among my followers, it is ‘Umar.”6
All the saints (auliya’) of the ummah have agreed to this point — even Mujaddid Alf Thani of Sirhind who has been very near to our times has particularly laid stress on it — that God communicates also with muhaddathin as He did with the prophets of yore.
The testimony of the Quran and Hadith and the saints of this nation could only be an evidence for Muslims but as atheism and materialism were rampant in this age, it became essential that all nations should be provided with a conclusive proof of this living reality. The mujaddid of this age was, therefore, appointed to show that God actually spoke with man, and this favour could be obtained even today by righteous Muslims. So he challenged the followers of other religions to give any proof of such a Divine favour by following their respective religions. He put his own self as an example to make such favour of God known to the world. In the Barahin Ahmadiyya he has mentioned many prophecies which had come true and had also made a very forceful assertion that it was only in Islam that Divine communication was continued and therefore Islam was the only living religion in the world. All the other religions failed to help their followers to achieve this high stage of communication with God. It was in this way that he put forward his own person as a living example for the truth and supremacy of Islam. The same fact lay concealed under his prophecies, that is to say, that they were advanced in support of the truth of Islam. They were indeed a sign for him but they were also signs for the truth of Islam.