Hazrat Mirza did not call Muslims kafir

[ BACK ] The first point to note is that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad strongly condemned the widely prevailing practice of takfir (i.e. one Muslim calling another kafir on grounds of some difference of religious belief or practice), which is a common pastime of religious leaders, as shown by the fatwas cited in another section

He wrote:

[1.] "O Maulavis! will you not face death one day, that you are so bold and cunning as to declare a whole world [of Muslims] as kafirs. God says that if someone even uses the greeting Assalamu Alaikum for you, you should not consider him a kafir because he is a Muslim."

(Itmam-i Hujja, p. 23)

[2.]"By the orders and rulings of the Maulavis, Muslims are expelled from the religion of Islam. Even if there are to be found in them a thousand characteristics of Islam, all these are ignored, and some non-sensical and trivial excuse is found to declare them to be such kafirs as surpass even the Hindus and Christians…O Muslims! there are few enough Muslims already, do not reduce this small number even further."

(Izala Auham, pp. 594--597)

[3.]"It is a matter of amazement that a person who recites the Kalima, faces the Qibla, believes in One God, believes in and truly loves God and His Messenger, and believes in the Quran, should on account of some secondary difference be declared a kafir on par with, nay even more than, Jews and Christians."

(Ainah Kamalat Islam, p. 259)

Rejecting so completely the practice of takfir, and denouncing it so strongly, it is clear that Hazrat Mirza could not himself have pronounced other Muslims as kafir on grounds of difference in some beliefs.

When Hazrat Mirza's opponents branded him a kafir, and publicized fatwas far and wide to this effect, he issued repeated affirmations that he was a Muslim and adherent of Islam. However, they persisted in dubbing him and his followers as kafir over a number of years, and so he was forced to point out to them that, according to the Holy Prophet Muhammad's Sayings and the Shari`ah of Islam, a Muslim who calls another Muslim as kafir, gets the same epithet reflected back on him. It is the Holy Prophet's ruling that such a person, who called a Muslim as kafir, is himself more deserving of being called kafir (though, of course, he is still a member of the Muslim nation). Regarding this position Hazrat Mirza wrote:

"These people first prepared a fatwa of kufr against me, and about 200 maulavis put their seals upon it, calling us kafir. In these fatwas, such hostility was shown that some Ulama even wrote that these people [Ahmadis] are worse in disbelief than Jews and Christians; and they broadcast fatwas saying that these people must not be buried in Muslim cemeteries, they must not be offered salaam and greetings, and it is not proper to say prayers behind them, because they are kafir. They must not be allowed to enter mosques because they would pollute them; if they do enter, the mosque must be washed. It is allowable to steal their property, and they may be killed…

"Now look at this falsehood, viz., that they accuse me of having declared 200 million Muslims and Kalima-professing people to be kafir. We did not take the initiative for branding people as kafir. Their own religious leaders issued fatwas of kufr against us, and raised a commotion throughout Punjab and India that we were kafir. These proclamations so alienated the ignorant people from us hat they considered it a sin even to talk to us in a civil manner. Can any maulavi, or any other opponent, prove that we had declared them kafir first? If there is any paper, notice or booklet issued by us, prior to their fatwas of kufr, in which we had declared our Muslim opponents to be kafir, then they should bring that forward. If not, they should realize how dishonest it is that, while they are the ones who call us kafir, they accuse us of having declared all Muslims as kafir."

(Haqiqat al-Wahy, pp. 119--120)

Hazrat Mirza regarded all Kalima-reciters as Muslims

In February 1899, a court case ended which had involved Hazrat Mirza and one of his chief adversaries, Maulavi Muhammad Husain Batalvi, who some years earlier had instigated the issuing of the fatwa which declared Hazrat Mirza to be a kafir. The magistrate got each of them to sign an affirmation to the effect that in future one would not call the other a kafir or anti-Christ. Commenting on this affirmation, and its signing by both of them, Hazrat Mirza wrote:

"If he [Muhammad Husain] had been honest in issuing his fatwa, he should have said to the judge: `I certainly regard him as a kafir, and so I call him a kafir'…

"Considering that till now, till the last part of my life, by the grace and favour of God I still hold those beliefs which Muhammad Husain has declared as kufr, what sort of honesty is it that, out of fear of the judge, he destroyed all his fatwas and affirmed before the judge that he would never again call me kafir, or dub me anti-Christ and a liar. One should reflect as to what greater disgrace there could be than this, that this person with his own hands demolished his building. If this structure had been founded on honesty, it would not have been possible for Muhammad Husain to desist from his previous practice.

"It is true that I also signed this notice. But by this signing, no blame attaches to me in the eyes of God and the just people, nor does such signing reflect any disgrace on me, because my belief from the beginning has been that no person becomes a kafir or anti-Christ by denying my claim. Such a person would certainly be misguided and deviating from the right path, but I do not call him faithless…I do not apply the term kafir to any person who professes the Kalima, unless he makes himself a kafir by calling me a kafir and a liar. In this matter, it has always been my opponents who took the first step by calling me a kafir, and prepared a fatwa. I did not take the lead in preparing a fatwa against them. And they themselves admit that if I am a Muslim in the eyes of God, then by calling me a kafir the ruling of the Holy Prophet Muhammad against them is that they are kafir. So I do not call them kafir; rather it is by calling me kafir that they come under the judgment of the Holy Prophet. Therefore, if I have affirmed before Mr. Dowie [the judge] that I shall not call them kafir, it is in fact my creed that I do not consider any Muslim to be a kafir."

(Tiryaq al-Qulub, pp. 130--131)

He has made his position perfectly clear: No one becomes a kafir by denying my claim (i.e. by denying his claim to be mujaddid or Promised Messiah from God). He does not regard any self-professing Muslim as a kafir. As to those who call him kafir, their slander reflects back on them according to the ruling of the Holy Prophet which is accepted by them.

Sir Muhammad Iqbal's testimony

Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938), the famous Muslim poet, philosopher and exponent of the Muslim nationalist cause in the Indian sub-continent, who is a national hero of Pakistan, had seen and met Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Many years later, he told Maulana Muhammad Ali, head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, of a meeting with Hazrat Mirza. It so happened that shortly afterwards Maulana Muhammad Ali had cause to write a booklet commenting on certain views Dr Iqbal had expressed about the Ahmadiyya Movement. In that English booklet he reminded Iqbal of his own personal evidence as follows:

"But I would refer Sir Muhammad Iqbal to an incident which he himself so recently related to me when I paid him a visit during his sickness in October 1934. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, he told me, was then in Sialkot --- he did not remember the year, but it was the year 1904 as the facts related by him show. Mian (now Sir) Fazl-i Hussain was then practising as a lawyer in Sialkot, and one day while he (the Mian sahib) was going to see Hazrat Mirza sahib, he (Sir Muhammad Iqbal) met him in the way, and after inquiring whither he was going he also accompanied him. During the conversation that ensued with the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Mian Sir Fazl-i Hussain asked him if he looked upon those who did not believe in him as kafirs, and the Mirza sahib without a moment's hesitation replied that he did not…

"At any rate, Sir Muhammad Iqbal is personally a witness of the fact that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement was not guilty of calling other Muslims kafir.}''

(Sir Muhammad Iqbal's Statement re The Qadianis, pp. 6--8)

Dr Iqbal lived for about two years after the publication of this booklet directed at him. He did not make any denial of the reference cited above. In fact, in private letters and conversations he confirmed its accuracy and correctness.

Affirmations on oath by Maulana Muhammad Ali

On the demands of certain Qadianis, Maulana Muhammad Ali twice took oaths regarding his beliefs and those of Hazrat Mirza on this issue. In 1944 the Qadiani and Lahore-Ahmadi communities of Data, in the district of Hazara (the North West Frontier Province), agreed to ask their respective leaders, i.e. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad and Maulana Muhammad Ali, to make sworn declarations using the same form of wording to affirm their respective, opposite beliefs. Maulana Muhammad Ali accepted the demand, and published the following statement:

"I, Muhammad Ali, head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat, knowing Allah Almighty to be witness to this, Who holds my life in His hands, do swear that to my knowledge the belief of the Promised Messiah from 1901 to 1908 was that a person not believing in him is still a Muslim and within the fold of Islam, and his denier is not a kafir or excluded from the fold of Islam. The same has also been my belief, from 1901 till this day, on the basis of the belief of the Promised Messiah.''

(Paigham Sulh, 21 September 1944)

The date 1901 is mentioned because the Qadianis asserted that it was from this date that Hazrat Mirza started considering himself to be a real prophet and other Muslims as kafir. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was required to take the same oath, but substituting the words: "… that to my knowledge the belief of the Promised Messiah from 1901 to 1908 was that a person not believing in him is a kafir and excluded from the fold of Islam." He refused to make this sworn statement.

A little later, one Seth Abdullah Ala-Din, a prominent Qadiani of Hyderabad Deccan, demanded that Maulana Muhammad Ali take a similar oath at a public meeting, also including the question of prophethood, and call for God's retribution upon himself in case of a false oath. If he accepted the challenge, the Seth predicted, then within one year the Maulana would be visited by exemplary Divine punishment totally above human hands.

Again, Maulana Muhammad Ali took the oath, in exactly the words formulated by the Seth, in his speech to the annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha`at Islam Lahore on 25 December 1946. It ran:

"I Muhammad Ali, head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat, do swear that my belief is that Hazrat Mirza sahib of Qadian is a Mujaddid and the Promised Messiah, but not a prophet, nor can any person become a kafir or excluded from the fold of Islam by denying him. This was also the belief of Hazrat Mirza sahib.

"O God, if I have uttered falsehood in this oath taken in Thy name, then send upon me from Thyself such exemplary punishment as has no human hand in it, and from which the world would learn how stern and terrible is God's retribution for one who deceives His creatures by swearing falsely in His name."

(Paigham Sulh, 11 December 1946 and 15 January 1947)

Having taken this oath, the Maulana lived till October 1951, continuing his service of Islam as before. During this period, he thoroughly revised the first edition of his premier work, the English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran, and died shortly after finishing the proof reading of the new edition.