Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in 1889 in the Punjab, India, by
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), a renowned scholar and
champion of Islam, and an inspired holy man of great repute. At that
time, Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad were being heavily attacked
and denounced, on a world-wide scale, notably by Western writers and
Christian missionaries. Religion as such was also facing the critical
assault of the modern thought and science of the times. The traditional
Muslim religious leaders, with their out-dated knowledge and preoccupation
with trivial controversies, were utterly failing to defend the faith.
In fact, several of their own notions were erroneous and damaging to
the cause of Islam. The religion followed by most Muslims had come to
consist of just empty rituals, performed mechanically, and blind obedience
rendered to religious leaders. Much of the Quran was interpreted and
presented in terms of incredible fables and stories, which appeared
ridiculous to the thinking mind. Since intelligent Muslims saw this
as the only image of Islam before them, they were rapidly becoming disillusioned
with their faith, and many were deserting it for other creeds.
It was at this time of darkness, defeat and helplessness for the Muslim
world that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad came forward to defend Islam, by
means of knowledge he received from God, and to disclose its true, original
spirit which had been forgotten over the ages. Through his books, lectures
and public debates, over a period of about thirty years, he refuted
the mass of charges against Islam, and carried forward the fight into
the opponents' own camps by demonstrating the excellence of Islamic
teachings over the opposing creeds. Muslims rejoiced at this turn-about,
and upon his death glowing tributes were paid to him by prominent Muslims
of the time.
In an age when Muslims had slumped to their worst decline, Hazrat Mirza
received intimation from God indicating that the time for the final,
world-wide triumph of the faith of Islam, as prophesied in the Quran,
had now arrived. But this would be a victory of the arguments, principles
and beauty of Islam, which will capture the hearts and minds of people
all over the world.
Hazrat Mirza formed a Movement and community of Muslims to carry the
defence and propagation of Islam to the whole world, and to revive the
forgotten Islamic values of peace, forgiveness, and sympathy for all
mankind. He aptly named it Ahmadiyya, after the Holy Prophet
Muhammad's other name Ahmad which symbolises the qualities
of tenderness, gentleness, love and mercy displayed by the Holy Prophet.
Some of the leading Muslim intellectuals and religious scholars of
the time joined the movement.