It is not even a Sect in the General Sense of the Term
True Conception of the Ahmadiyya Movement
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Every religion in the world is divided into sects which generally differ in their fundamentals with one another. For instance, some Christians regard Jesus Christ as God or son of God and others take him to be a human being and with advancement of knowledge this group is increasing in number. This means that believers in Triune God as well as those who believe in one God are all Christians. Similarly, among Hindus there are many who believe in one God and there are others who worship idols and have faith in three hundred and thirty million gods. Some consider the Vedas as the spoken word of God and others take them to be the composition of human beings. Such differences, in fact, should be termed as fundamental sectarian differences.
There are no differences and no sects in Islam in this respect. All the sects of Islam agree on the fundamentals of religion. All believe in one God and in the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad. All take the Quran as the last revealed Book of God which has not suffered any change in text. All face towards the same Qiblah when praying. But with this uniformity of opinion that all believe in one God, one Messenger, one Qiblah and one Book there have been differences on minor points and details of religion. Some Muslim Imams after due consideration have arrived at different conclusions with regard to certain matters of religious life. Various groups of Muslims have followed these Imams according to their own choice, and this has resulted in the formation of different schools of thought in Islam. This is the real fact behind the growth of the so-called sects in Islam. Differences among these sects are not differences in the fundamentals of religion, but in matters of jurisprudence, or details of religious practices. This type of difference of opinion is, in fact, a blessing as the Prophet is reported to have said:
“Difference in my ummah is a blessing,”
because along with unity this opens a way for freedom of opinion. Liberty in views, and free exercise of judgement (ijtihad) is, in fact, a great blessing that helps in the advancement of knowledge and learning, and develops in every person the habit of deep thinking. The sectarian differences of Muslims are, therefore, of no real importance. But the foundation of Ahmadiyya Movement has not been laid on any of such sectarian differences. The chief characteristic of this Movement today has been the same as it was before, viz., the defence and propagation of Islam. Whatever differences this movement has with other Muslims, these are definitely not connected with matters of jurisprudence or details of religious life but only with matters concerning the defence and propagation of Islam. The history of the Movement bears testimony to the fact that when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad founded this organization and made a declaration for an oath of allegiance, he did not differ with other Muslims on any religious doctrine. The object of the formation of this organization was only the protection and propagation of Islam. Although he had been devoting his whole time even before that to this noble objective but at this stage under Divine command he set up a permanent basis for the spread of Islam according to the Quranic verse:
“And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right.”1
Immediately thereafter he started writing Fath Islam wherein he divided the work of the spread of Islam into five main branches. At this juncture, it was manifested to him that the belief in the physical ascension and continued existence of Jesus Christ was an obstacle in the way of the progress of Islam. It was on this Divine manifestation that his claim was based and it was because of this that Muslims started opposing him.
- The Holy Quran, 3:104. ↩