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South Africa court case (1982-1985)

Contents of the Evidence

Supplement to Section 19: Attitude towards other Muslims
5. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
6. Non-English material

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Supplement to the Evidence
Section 19:
Attitude towards other Muslims

A very common misconception is that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad considered as kafir those Muslims who did not accept him. It is alleged that on this basis he forbade his followers from saying the funeral prayers of deceased Muslims who were not Ahmadis, and from praying in a congregation led by an imam who was not an Ahmadi. As this allegation did not feature much in the court case, the only written submission made was the note given in Section 19 of the Evidence. However, much of this issue is covered in our book True Facts about the Ahmadiyya Movement, which had been submitted to the court for general information. For the sake of completion, we give here the treatment of this question from that book, with necessary editing and addition.

1. Hazrat Mirza did not call Muslims kafir

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 the Evidence, Section 18 and its Supplement. 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 publicised fatwas far and wide to this effect, he issued repeated affirmations that he was a Muslim and adherent of Islam, as can be seen from his statements quoted in Section 2. 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 deservant 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 aliented the ignorant people from us that 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 realise 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. In this connection, see the second extract from Maudoodi’s Let us be Muslims, reproduced in Supplement to Section 1 of the Evidence, where he quotes this hadith and accepts it enthusiastically.

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.

2. Funeral Prayers for other Muslims

Hazrat Mirza never instructed his followers that they must refrain from saying the Islamic funeral prayers for a deceased Muslim who did not belong to the Ahmadiyya Movement. On the contrary, on all the occasions when this question was put to him, Hazrat Mirza clearly and unequivocally permitted his followers to hold funeral services for non-Ahmadi Muslims in general. This also constitutes conclusive proof that he regarded the general non-Ahmadi Muslim population as being Muslims and not kafir, because holding the Islamic funeral service for any person implies recognition of the deceased as a Muslim. And moreover, the proof is of a plain, practical and easy to understand nature.

Given below are four clear rulings of Hazrat Mirza on this issue:

  1. “The question was raised as to whether it was permissible to say the funeral prayers for a man who was not in the Movement. The Promised Messiah said:

    “ ‘If the deceased was an opponent of this Movement and spoke ill of us and regarded us as bad, do not say funeral prayers for him. If he did not speak against us, and was neutral, it is permissible to say his funeral prayers, provided the imam is one of you; otherwise there is no need. If the deceased did not call us kafir and liar, his funeral prayers may be said. There is nothing wrong with that, for only God knows hidden matters.’ ”

    (Statement made on 18 April 1902; newspaper Al-Hakam, 30 April 1902)

  2. About a year before his death, Hazrat Mirza received a letter from a follower, Ghulam Qadir of Jeonjal (district Gujrat), asking for guidance on some points, one of which related to saying funeral prayers for non-Ahmadi Muslims. Hazrat Mirza instructed one of his assistants, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq (later a prominent Qadiani), to write the following reply:

    “It is permissible to say funeral prayers for an opponent if he did not abuse us. The imam [of the service] must be an Ahmadi.”

    (Letter dated 12 May 1907; facsimile of original available.)

    In the two rulings given above, the condition that the imam of the prayer service must be from among Ahmadis does not detract from our argument. The crucial point is that the deceased is not an Ahmadi, and funeral prayers for him are allowed by Hazrat Mirza, showing that he is being regarded as a Muslim. As to the reason for the condition regarding the imam of the prayer, see the following section: Saying prayers behind non-Ahmadi Imam.

  3. In 1908, Ahmadis and other Muslims in a place called Bhudyar, in the district of Amritsar, made an agreement in which one clause proposed by the Ahmadis was as follows: “We will say funeral prayers for those non-Ahmadi relatives who are neutral” (i.e. not opponents of the Ahmadiyya Movement). Hazrat Mirza wrote the following note on it in his own hand:

    “What has been written is very good and blessed.”

    (See newspaper Badr, dated 13 May 1909)

  4. In reply to one Muhammad Ismail, a short letter was written at the direction of Hazrat Mirza, by the hand of Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, bearing the date 19 April 1907, which runs as follows:

    “Your letter was received. The janaza (funeral) of a non-Ahmadi, his taghseel (washing of the dead body), and takfeen (shrouding the body), are allowed. Eating the animal slaughtered by a non-Ahmadi is also allowed. Hazrat sahib prays for you.”

    (Facsimile of letter published in Paigham Sulh, 30 January 1921)

Certain prominent Ahmadis have also testified that when some of their near relations died, who were not members of the Ahmadiyya Movement, they requested Hazrat Mirza to say funeral prayers for them, and he did so.

Mir Abid Ali of Badomalhi testified to the following effect. His mother strongly disapproved of his having become an Ahmadi. When she died, unchanged, he informed Hazrat Mirza by letter, requesting him to pray for her and to personally lead the funeral prayers. In his reply, Hazrat Mirza wrote that they would hold the funeral prayers on Friday.

A renowned scholar of the Movement, Mirza Khuda Bakhsh also made a sworn statement declaring that: “The Promised Messiah said the funeral prayers for my mother. She had not taken the bai‘at. She always believed that he was a saintly man, but did not accept the claim of the Promised Messiah”. This was in late 1901 or early 1902. He added that in early 1904, his uncle died, holding the same view as his mother. He explained his late uncle’s beliefs to Hazrat Mirza, informing him that he had not taken the bai‘at. Having heard him, Hazrat Mirza personally led the funeral prayer.

Khawaja Ghulam Farid of Chachran was a famous saint who spoke out against the accusations levelled at Hazrat Mirza by his opponents, and called him a truthful man. But he did not take bai’at or become Ahmadi. Praising the Khawaja after his death, Hazrat Mirza writes:

“To sum up, God had granted Khawaja Ghulam Farid a spiritual light by which he could distinguish between a truthful one and a liar at one glance. May God envelope him in mercy, and grant him a place near Him — Ameen.” (Haqiqat al-Wahy, p. 209)

This prayer is only allowed for a deceased who is Muslim, and prohibited for one who is a kafir.

3. Saying prayers behind non-Ahmadi Imam

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad never instructed his followers to refrain from praying in a congregation led by an imam who is a non-Ahmadi. Hazrat Mirza himself used to join prayer-services led by non-Ahmadi imams, even after his claim to be the Promised Messiah and the subsequent controversy, and so did his followers. However, the Maulavis became more and more bitter in denouncing him and his followers as kafir, and began to expel Ahmadis from prayer congregations in mosques. Ahmadis were attacked, maltreated and humiliated if they dared enter a mosque. It was when such situations began to arise that Hazrat Mirza prohibited his followers from praying behind any imam who called them kafir and abused them.

Below we give some remarks by a maulavi opposed to the Ahmadis, which show how the maulavis were boastful of having expelled Ahmadis from mosques, and how they scornfully rejected Hazrat Mirza’s efforts at reconciliation. In 1901, when Hazrat Mirza wrote a booklet entitled Al-Sulh Al-Khair (A Reconcilation), in which he appealed to the maulavis for peace between fellow-Muslims, Maulavi Abdul Wahid Janpuri retorted:

“Let it not be concealed that the reason for this conciliatory note is that after the Mirza’i [Ahmadi] group in Amritsar were subjected to disgrace, expelled from Friday and congregational prayers, humiliatingly thrown out of the mosque in which they used to pray, and barred from the park where they held their Friday prayers, they asked Mirza Qadiani for permission to build a new mosque. Mirza told them that they should wait, while he tried to make peace with the people, for in that case there would be no need to build a mosque. They [the Ahmadis] had to bear much humiliation. Their social relations with Muslims were stopped, their wives were taken away from them, their dead had to be thrown into pits without burial garments or funeral rites, etc. It was then that the Qadiani liar issued this conciliatory note.”

(Ishtihar Mukhadat Musailimah Qadiani, p. 2)

This shows that not only were Ahmadis maltreated and debarred from congregations and mosques, but the maulavis who instigated this persecution were openly proud of doing it. How unjust it is, given these circumstances, to accuse the Ahmadis of separating themselves from the rest of the Muslims!

In reply to a letter on this subject which he received in March 1908, near the end of his life, Hazrat Mirza wrote:

“As the maulavis of this country, due to their bigotry, have generally declared us kafir, and have written fatwas, and the rest of the people are their followers, so if there are any persons who, to clear their own position, make an announcement that they do not follow these maulavis who make others kafir, then it would be allowable [for Ahmadis] to say prayers with them. Otherwise, the man who calls a Muslim as kafir, becomes a kafir himself. So how can we pray behind him? The holy Shari‘ah does not permit it.”

(Letter printed in newspaper Badr, 24–31 December 1908; see Ruhani Khaza’in no. 2, vol. 10, pp. 167–168.)

It should also be remembered that, according to all Muslim authorities, there are certain conditions a person must fulfil in order to act as prayer imam, and these are laid down variously by each sect and sub-sect. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has required the condition that an imam, behind whom Ahmadis can pray, must be a person who does not call Muslims as kafir, and does not side with those maulavis who call Ahmadis as kafir. Never did Hazrat Mirza instruct his followers to abstain from praying behind an imam for the mere reason that he is a non-Ahmadi.

Finally, it must be noted that members of various sects and groups say prayers only behind an imam of their own persuasion. See fatwas quoted in Section 18 of the Evidence.


It has been noted above that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has drawn a clear distinction between those Muslims who abused him and called him kafir, and those Muslims who did not do so. As regards the latter, he showed them perfect tolerance, and treated them as his Muslim brothers. In fact, he considered the majority of Muslims to be in the latter category, as shown by his observation quoted below:
“There are three kinds of people [i.e. Muslims] at this time. Firstly, those who are burning with hatred and malice, and are bent upon opposition because of stubborness and bigotry. Their number is very small. Secondly, those who are inclined towards us. Their number is on the increase. Thirdly, those who are silent, neither belonging to one side nor to the other. They are the majority. They are not under the influence of the maulavis, nor do they join them in abusing us. Therefore, they fall in our own category.”

(Al-Hakam, 17 February 1904)

Go to The Evidence, Section 19
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