Successorship or Khilafat after the Promised Messiah

[ BACK ] Brief review.

For the administration and financial management of the Movement after him, the Promised Messiah created an Anjuman or association, which was called the Sadr Ajuman Ahmadiyya, and decreed this body as his "successor". He designated the Anjuman to be the supreme governing body of the Movement after his death, and assigned to it the decision-making authority which he himself possessed during his life. The Promised Messiah appointed fourteen men to the executive body of the Anjuman, and gave the instruction that its decisions, made by majority opinion, would be final and binding. The Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya held this position and functioned in this way during the period of leadership of Maulana Nur-ud-Din, the first Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement after the Promised Messiah's death.

However, in 1914 when Mirza Mahmud Ahmad succeeded in his plans to become the head of the Movement, he immediately proceeded to destroy the system created by the Promised Messiah and replace it with an au~ocratic, personal khilafat giving the khalifa absolute and supreme power over the movement. M. Mahmud Ahmad coined and taught the doctrine that the khalifa is appointed by God, and therefore all his acts and pronouncements possess the seal of Divine authority. He cannot be questioned or called to account, and it is the foremost duty of every member of the movement to obey the khalifa implicitly and absolutely, utterly regardless of what he orders. This is the system of khilafat which has prevailed among the Qadianis since then, and the highest goal and aspiration of their members is to please and obey the khalifa of the time.

The Qadiani system of rule by a khalifa possessing absolute, autocratic power is entirely repugnant to the teachings of Islam, and no trace whatsoever of any such concept is to be found anywhere in the writings of the Promised Messiah.

Anjuman made successor by the Promised Messiah.

It was in his booklet entitled Al- Wasiyya (The Will), published about two and a half years before his death, that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced the creation of the Anjuman, and formulated its main objectives, rules and regulations. He wrote:

"If Allah wills, this system will continue to function after the death of us all. For this purpose, an Anjuman is required which shall spend, as it determines fit, the funds which shall accumulate from this income, coming in from time to time, on proclaiming the teachings of Islam and propagating the message of the Oneness of God."

(AI-Wasiyya, published December 1905, p.17.)

In an Appendix to Al- Wasiyya, the Promised Messiah published some rules and regulations of the Anjuman, from which we quote below as they show the position he gave to this body:

"9. The Anjuman, which is to hold these funds, shall not be entitled to spend the monies for any purpose except the objects of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and among these objects the propagation of Islam shall have the highest priority."

(This Appendix was published a few days later in January 1906.)

Therefore the Anjuman was to be in control of all the finances and funds of the Ahmadiyya movement. It was to receive all the income of the movement and to determine how to spend it.

"13. As the Anjuman is the successor to the Khalifa appointed by God, it must remain absolutely free of any kind of worldly taint."


Here the Promised Messiah calls the Anjuman as his successor. It is the Promised Messiah who is "the Khalifa appointed by God" and his successor is the Anjuman created by him.

Rules and regulations of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya.

In February 1906, more comprehensive rules and regulations of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, as approved by the Promised Messiah, were published in the Ahmadiyya community's newspaper Badr. We reproduce below some essential points from these rules, starting at the beginning:

Regulations of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian

Approved by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah.

1. The objective of this Anjuman is the propagation of Islam, to devise and put into action plans for the propagation of Islam, and to produce people who can preach Islam.

2. Every member of the Ahmadiyya movement who supports this movement in any way shall be a member of this Anjuman.

3. All the Ahmadiyya Anjumans established anywhere by members of the Ahmadiyya movement shall be branches of this Anjuman.

4. The control of the affairs of this Anjuman shall be in the charge of a Council of Trustees (Majlis-i Mu'timidin).

6. Under the Council of Trustees there shall be four committees for the purposes of administration: a. Committee for the propagation of Islam; b. Committee for the affairs of the Cemetery; c. Committee for education; and, d. Committee for administration of miscellaneous affairs.

12. The powers and duties of the Council of Trustees shall be as follows:

a. All the property which the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya or any branch of it may acquire anywhere shall be in the ownership of the Council of Trustees. Whenever any property is acquired in the future, or sold, or let, the transaction shall be in the name of the Secretary of the Council on behalf of the Council. Likewise, in future all the income of the Ahmadiyya movement, whether by wills, gifts, zakat, or under other heads, shall he in the name of the Council.

30. In every matter, for the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, all the committees under it, and all its branches, the order of the Promised Messiah shall be final and binding.

(Badr, 16 February 1906, p.5, and 23 February 1906, p.8)

At the end of these regulations, it is stated: "The Promised Messiah appoints the following men as members and officeholders of the Council of Trustees." Then a list is printed of the names of these fourteen men, three of whom are office-holders whose names occur at the head of the list as follows:

1. Hazrat Hakim Maul vi Nur-ud-Din of Bhera, President.

2. Maulvi Muhammad All, M.A., Ll.B., Secretary.

3. Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din, Attorney, chief court Punjab, Legal Advisor.

It is evident from these rules and regulations of the Anjuman, and the powers given to it, that the Promised Messiah established it as the supreme governing authority of the Ahmadiyya movement after him. There is no trace whatsoever in these rules of any system of personal khilafat or of any office of a khalifa having supreme authority over the movement. Therefore the Qadiani concept and system of khilafat is totally alien and opposed to the instructions of the Promised Messiah, and an utter negation of the system set up by him.


Anjuman to be supreme after Promised Messiah's life.

About a year later, it so happened that Mir Nasir Nawab, father in-law of the Promised Messiah, opposed a certain decision of the Anjuman. When this disagreement was brought to the notice of the Promised Messiah, he wrote down the following verdict about the authority of the Anjuman, in his own hand-writing:

"My view is that when the Anjuman reaches a decision in any matter, doing so by majority of opinion, that must be considered as right, and as absolute and binding. I would, however, like to add that in certain religious matters, which are connected with the particular objects of my advent, I should be kept informed. I am sure that this Anjuman would never act against my wishes, but this is written only by way of precaution, in case there is a matter in which God Almighty has some special purpose. This proviso applies only during my life. After that, the decision of the Anjuman in any matter shall be final."

(Writing dated 27 October 1907. Its facsimile has been widely published.)

This clear verdict of the Promised Messiah confirmed the Anjuman's position as the supreme authority of the Ahmadiyya movement after him, its decisions being final and binding. No individual head or khalifa was to have the power to set aside, revoke, or go against any decision of the Anjuman.


Maulana Nur-ud-Din's exposition of Anjumans position.

During his period as head, Maulana Nur-ud-Din too considered the Anjuman as being the khalifa of the Promised Messiah for administrative affairs. During the course of his khutba on the occasion of 'Id-ul-Fitr on 16th October 1909, he re-iterated the position and the powers given to the Anjuman by the Promised Messiah. Referring to the booklet Al- Wasiyya, he said:

"In the writing of Hazrat sahib [i.e. the Promised Messiah there is a point of deep knowledge which I will explain to you fully. He left it up to God as to who was going to be the khalifa. On the other hand, he said to fourteen men: You are collectively the Khalifat-ul-Masih, your decisions are final and binding, and the government authorities too consider them as absolute. Then all those fourteen men became united in taking the bai 'at at the hand of one man, accepting him as their khaIifa, and thus you were united. And then not only fourteen, but the whole community agreed upon my khilafat.

"...I have read Al-Wasiyya very thoroughly. It is indeed true that he has made fourteen men the Khalifat-ul Masih, and written that their decision arrived at by majority opinion is final and binding. Now observe that these God-fearing men, whom Hazrat sahib chose for his khilafat, have by their righteous opinion, by their unanimous opinion, appointed one man as their Khalifa and Amir. And then not only themselves, but they made thousands upon thousands of people to embark in the same boat in which they had themselves embarked."

(Newspaper Badr, Qadian, 21 October 1909, p.11, col, 1.)

The following points emerge very plainly from this speech:

1. The Promised Messiah made no mention of any individual to hold the office of khalifa in the Ahmadiyya movement in a personal capacity.

2. He appointed the Anjuman, a body of fourteen men, as a collective khalifa, whose decisions he declared as absolute, final and binding.

3. In the eyes of the law of the land too, the decisions of the Anjuman were final and binding in the affairs of the Ahmadiyya movement; in other words, the Anjuman was a legally registered association with the power of governing the movement.

4. It was the Anjuman which, by its unanimous agreement, had decided to accept one man, Maulana Nur-ud-Din, as the head or khalifa. The Maulana did not become khalifa because there existed any office or position of a personal khalifa in the Ahmadiyya movement who would have supreme, absolute power over the movement.


M. Mahmud Ahmad usurps Anjuman's authority.

The establishment of the Anjuman on these principles by the Promised Messiah prevented anyone from becoming an autocratic head or creating an inherited spiritual seat (gaddi) in the Ahmadiyya Movement, as had been the fate of previous Muslim spiritual orders. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, having exactly these ambitions of wielding absolute power, resented the formation and the powers of the Anjuman, and from the very time of the creation of the Anjuman he did all that he could to have it rendered powerless.

In March 1914, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was successful in his long-standing plans to gain the headship of the movement upon the death of Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din. Immediately thereafter, having first ensured that no Opposition could be voiced against him in Qadian, he had the following resolution of the Anjuman passed by his supporters:

"By Resolution 198 of the Majlis-i Mu 'timidin (Council of Trustees) held in April 1914 it was resolved that in Rule no.18 of the rules of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian, in place of the words 'Promised Messiah' the words 'Hazrat KhaIifat ul-Masih Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad the second Khalifa' shall be entered. Therefore, Rule no. 18 shall now be as follows: In every matter, for the Majlis-i Mu 'timidin and its subordinate branches if any, and for the Sadr Anjuman and all its branches, the order of Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad the second Khalifa shall be absolute and final."

(Review of Religions, Urdu edition, the issues for April 1914 and May 1914, inside of the front cover.)

By this resolution, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad removed from the Anjuman its position of supreme authority given to it by the Promised Messiah, and raised himself to the Divinely appointed Status of the Promised Messiah by writing his own name in Rule no. 18, giving his orders supremacy over the Anjuman's decisions. He thus destroyed the system created by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and replaced it by personal, autocratic rule by a khalifa, the concept of which is in complete violation of the principles of Islam as well as the teachings of the Promised Messiah.

It will be seen that when Maulana Nur-ud-Din became head, he did not substitute his name for that of the Promised Messiah in this Rule. On the contrary, he followed the regulations laid down by the Promised Messiah regarding the powers of the Anjuman. Therefore, the sense in which M. Mahmud Ahmad made himself khalifa was entirely different from, and quite opposed to, the sense in which Maulana Nur-ud-Din was khalifa. This is one of the main reasons why those, like Maulana Muhammad Ah, who accepted Maulana Nur-ud-Din as khalifa could not accept M. Mahmud Ahmad as khalifa.


Anjuman made entirely subservient to khalifa.

By means of the change in the rules referred to above, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad arrogated himself to the position of an absolute leader whose orders had to be obeyed unquestioningly by everyone in the movement. Despite this amendment and despite the fact that the Anjuman now consisted entirely of his own supporters, he still felt insecure that the Anjuman might seek to regain its authority some time in the future. In a speech in October 1925, therefore, he laid down a new system of administration, reducing the Council of Trustees to an entirely subservient body. In this speech, published under the title Jama 'at Ahmadiyya ka jadid nizam 'amal ("A new system of working for the Ahmadiyya Movement"), at the very outset he attacked the principles upon which the Anjuman was founded, and declared:

"As I have said again and again, the name Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya and its method of working were devised by others and not by the Promised Messiah. But since the approval of the Promised Messiah had been given in respect of it, I have decided that all those names which were established during the time of the Promised Messiah should be retained."

(AI-FazI, 31 October 1925, p.3, col. I.)

He then announced his decision that the names Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya and Majlis-i Mu ''timidin (Council of Trustees) would be transferred to certain other bodies, so that their names would be retained but the institutions themselves would cease to exist!

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad's statement given above is self-contradictory and indeed plainly absurd. Firstly, he admits that the Promised Messiah had given his approval of the name and the rules of the Anjuman, but he says that these were "devised by others" and then attacks the rules. This amounts to alleging that the Promised Messiah approved these rules merely at the behest of "others", without himself knowing or caring that these would be harmful to the Movement, and now Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was going to rectify the Promised Messiah's error!

Secondly, since in his view the names as well as the rules were "devised by others" and merely approved by the Promised Messiah, it is entirely illogical for him to retain the names because of their association with the Promised Messiah's time but destroy the rules. The rules were also from the Promised Messiah's time. Therefore, the names and the rules should both be eliminated or both be retained!


M. Mahmud Ahmad's admissions in his speech.

There are several very interesting and revealing admissions made by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad in this speech. He said:

"The founding principle of the Council of Trustees (Majlis-i Mu 'timidin) did not include the existence of the khalifa of the time, which is the very fundamental issue in Islam. A resolution has been passed during the second khilafat to the effect that the Council must accept whatever the khalifa says [The reference is to the resolution quoted above ]. But this is not a matter of principle. What it means is that a body of members says that it would do so. However, the body which is entitled to say this, can also say that it shall not do so. For, the Anjuman which can pass the resolution that it shall obey the khalifa in everything, if ten years later it says that it shall not obey him, it is entitled to do so according to the rules of the Anjuman. Or if the Anjuman says that it will obey this khalifa in everything but will not obey another one, it has the right to do so according to its rules."

(AI-FazI, 3 November 1925, p.3, col. I.)

Here Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made the following two admissions:

1. There is no mention of the concept or the institution of a personal khilafat in the basic principles of the Anjuman, upon which it was created by the Promised Messiah.

2. It is within the Anjuman's powers to revoke at any time its resolution, which he got it to pass in 1914, to follow the khalifa's orders. This shows that the Anjuman was not originally created to be subservient to any individual leader, but was the supreme and sovereign executive of the Movement. He is, in fact, expressing his fear that the Anjuman may at some time in future decide to re-assert its original authority and cease to be subservient to an individual khalifa.

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad then goes on to say:

"For the sake of the khilafat we had to make an unparalleled sacrifice. And that was that we sacrificed for its sake the old followers of the Promised Messiah, those who were called his friends, those who had a very close relationship with him. If this religious difference had not arisen between them and ourselves, they would be dearer to us than our own children because they included those who knew the Promised Messiah and those who were his companions. ... But because a difference arose regarding a teaching which was from God, and which had to be accepted for the sake of our faith and the Jama 'at, we sacrificed those who were dearer to us than our children. So, over this question, we have made such a magnificent sacrifice that no other sacrifice can equal it. This is far greater than sacrificing one's life because in that case a man sacrifices only himself. But here we had to sacrifice a part of our Movement.

"If even after so much sacrifice the movement still remains insecure, that is, it is at the mercy of a few men who can, if they so wish, allow the system of khilafat to continue in existence, and if they do not so wish, it cannot remain in existence, this cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Because the institution of khilafat was not included in the basic principles of the Jama 'at, the movement lives in the constant danger which can turn the loyalists into non-loyalists, [The word translated as loyalists is muba' in, referring to "those who have taken the bai'at" of the Qadiani khalifa ] and by the stroke of the pen of ten or eleven men Qadian can at once become Lahore.

"Therefore, the works of the Jama 'at relating to propagation and training cannot be entrusted to such an Anjuman, even though that Anjuman may consist of loyalists, and even though they may be men of the highest sincerity."

(AI Fazl, 3 November 1925, p.3, cols. 1-2.)


Here Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made the following interesting admissions:

I. He and his supporters forced the "old followers, friends and companions of the Promised Messiah" out of the Ahmadiyya Movement, which he describes as "an unparalleled sacrifice" made by the Qadianis, in order to establish an autocratic khilafat. This clearly disproves the allegation made commonly by the present-day Qadianis that the separation in the Movement in 1914 came about because Maulana Muhammad Ali was trying to become the head, and having failed in that attempt he left and formed his own separate group. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad says here, on the contrary, that "we had to sacrifice a part of our Movement" for the sake of the system of khilafat. In other words, Maulana Muhammad Ali and his associates were opposing the system of khilafat which Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was striving to introduce, and this opposition was thus purged, or "sacrificed", out of the Movement.

2. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad's words that "by the stroke of the pen of ten or eleven men Qadian can at once become Lahore" are highly note-worthy. He is admitting that what makes Lahore different from Qadian is that the Lahore Ahmadis hold the Anjuman to be supreme, and if this supremacy was again accepted in Qadian then Qadian would become Lahore. Since that is the difference, as admitted here, then it is false to allege that the Lahore Ahmadis separated from Qadian because Maulana Muhammad Ali failed to become the khalifa there. If that had been the reason for the split, then the only way Qadian could become Lahore would be by accepting the Maulana as their leader!


Anjuman made entirely subservient.

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad then went on to announce in this speech that in his new system the term Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya would refer to "the khalifa and his advisors", the advisors would advise and the khalifa would decide, and this would be known as the decision of the Sadr Anjuman. The Majlis-i Mu'timidin (Council of Trustees) would merely carry out the decision without question.

A comparison with the Regulations of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Qadian, approved by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, as given in the beginning, shows that the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya was meant to be the entire community (see no.2), and the "control of the affairs of this Anjuman" was given entirely to the Council of Trustees (no.4). It can be seen that Mian Mahmud Ahmad demolished these institutions in order to create a system of absolute personal rule.