One hundred years ago, in 1918, the second Khilafat saw the completion of its fourth year. The divine appointment of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra was fresh in the minds of all those that saw first-hand the election of Khalifatul Masih II, as well as those that pledged their allegiance to him at the time.
While it was spiritually uplifting for all Ahmadis to witness the blessings of the second manifestation of God’s omnipotence, what took place on 14 March 1914 and the days that followed was still perplexing for many, when a group of leading scholars of the Jamaat withdrew from belief in Khilafat and formed their own community – something they believed was in line with the Promised Messiah’s desire.
In this article, we take a look at a book written by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib, a prominent figure among the group that split from the main body of the Jamaat, in 1918 called The Split in contrast with what would later be authored by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, The Truth About the Split. Both books dealt with the happenings surrounding that period.
The Ahmadiyya Jamaat is a rapidly developing global revival movement in Islam. Established in 1889, spread over 200 countries, with members surpassing many millions, it is the only Islamic group that believes in the second coming of the Jesus Christas being fulfilled in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian and has a central spiritual leader, known as Khalifatul Masih, as prophesied by the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
After the demise of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas in May 1908, the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, through divine guidance, elected Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra as the first Khalifatul Masih. Soon after, dissension began to rear its ugly head, so much so that when Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira passed away in March 1914, and Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra was elected as the second Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas, a group of Ahmadis under the leadership of Khawaja Kamaluddin Sahib and Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib of Lahore, separated from the main body of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. They refused to accept him as the Khalifa. Moreover, they denied the need of the institution of Khilafat.
Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib moved to Lahore from Qadian and founded Anjuman Isha‘at-e-Islam (also known as the Lahore Group of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Ahmadiyya Anjuman-e-Isha‘at-e-Islam and Ahl-e-Paigham). He wrote a series of books and leaflets stating the reasons and causes behind the dissensions and had them published in parts of the world where Ahmadiyyat had just begun to sprout.
The Split written by Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib was first published in 1918, and in the same year he wrote The Ahmadiyya Movement (Part I): The Founder, The Ahmadiyya Movement (Part II): The Doctrine and The Ahmadiyya Movement (Part III): Prophecy. The fourth part of the series was entitled The Ahmadiyya Movement (Part IV): The Split.
The second Khalifa of the Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, Al-Musleh al-Maud, wrote a full reply to bring to light the reality of an extremely deceptive account presented in The Split. The response written in Urdu was called Aina-e-Sadaqat literally translating as “the mirror of truth”. Its English version was published in 1924 under the title The Truth About the Split. It proved exceptionally helpful in spreading a genuine record of the occasions which prompted the dissension.
Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib opens up his book with the heading General Remarks. On page 3 of The Split, he states that the relation of the Ahmadiyya Movement with Islam holds a resemblance with the relation of Christianity with Judaism. He further prolongs this similarity on the basis of the change brought in the teachings of Jesusas expressing his view that a similar change was due in the teachings of the Promised Messiahas.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra elucidated the fact that there is indeed a resemblance between the Ahmadiyya Movement and Christianity but not in every single characteristic. He explained:
“In short, while there is a remarkable similarity between the dispensations brought by Muhammadsa and Mosesas respectively, there is also a plainly visible difference between the Divine blessings and assistance which accompanied the two. It ought not therefore to be concluded from the mere fact of similarity between the two dispensations, that the followers of the Promised Messiahas were sure to commit the error of exaggerating the truth like the followers of the first Messiah. By following such a method of analogy, one might as well prove that the majority of the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa were hypocrites, because the Holy Prophetsa was a counter-type of Mosesas and the majority of the companions of Mosesas did indeed prove to be hypocrites when the moment came for action. (May God protect us from such views.) We know, however, how the spiritual power of the Holy Prophetsa saved the majority of his immediate followers from following in the footsteps of the Jews except, of course, the few who indeed proved to be hypocrites. Similar also, the spiritual power of the Promised Messiahas was to save the majority of his followers from committing the mistake made by the followers of the first Messiah. And this is what has actually happened. The major portion of his followers, with the exception of a small section, have maintained their connection with the centre of the movement and continue to hold to their old beliefs. But, just as in the case of the Holy Prophetsa there arose after him a small party, who denied the validity of the Khilafat and endeavoured to belittle the Prophet’s rank, and who made their public appearance during the time of Hazrat Alira, the son-in-law or, so to speak, the son of the Holy Prophetsa, so also in the present case, when one of the sons of the Promised Messiahas came to hold the Khilafat there has appeared a small party like the earlier Kharijites, whose motto was:
الطاعة للّٰه و الامرشورٰي بَيننا
meaning ‘Obedience belongs to Allah alone; in affairs (of the Community) mutual counsel of the members should prevail.’ In other words, the Khalifa was nothing, all power was to vest in a parliament. The same is the motto of the party presided over by Maulvi Muhammad Ali viz. that the Khilafat has no validity and that the affairs of the Community should be under the control of an Anjuman. But just as the Kharijites, after a few years of agitation and violence, at last disappeared and were lost, so also now, God willing, the same fate awaits their modern successors.” (The Truth About the Split, pp. 21-23. 2007)
Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib then emphasises, citing examples from the writings of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, that the viewpoint he adopted after the demise of Promised Messiahas about the name Ahmad, considering it the name of the Promised Messiahas which occurs in the Holy Quran with respect to the Holy Prophetsa, differs from the perspectives and interpretations of the Promised Messiahas. The author quotes an example asserting:
“To make this point clear, I would refer the reader to M Mahmud’s own admission made in Anwar-i-Khilafat on page 21 in the following words:
‘When I heard this in the beginning from the first Khalifa, I did not first accept it. But when I pondered over it, Almighty God expanded my breast concerning it and He granted me conclusive and shinning proofs and I accepted the idea’.” (The Split in the Ahmadiyya Movement, p. 18. 1994)
Trying to prove his argument, stating examples from the Holy Quran, Hadith, the Bible and writings of the Promised Messiahas, the author discusses this point, in pages 18-49 of The Split.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, in response to this claim, states:
“Regarding the prophecy ‘Ismuhu Ahmad’ contained in the Holy Quran (Surah al-Saff, Ch.61: V.6), my opinion is that the passage contains two prophecies, relating to two persons; one, a counter-type and the other, his prototype. The counter-type of course is the Promised Messiahas, while the prototype is the Holy Prophetsa. The passage under reference speaks directly about the counter-type. A reference to the prototype of course comes in, but only indirectly inasmuch as the counter-type of a prophet necessarily presumes the existence of his original. Thus, the verse does furnish a prophecy regarding the original prophet from whom the immediate subject of the prophecy derived his dignity. The prophethood of the Holy Prophetsa was not a derived one. He was an original prophet who was not indebted to any human teacher for the grace of prophethood, but was himself a dispenser of grace to others. To consider him as a recipient of spiritual grace from any human teacher is in my view a detraction from his proper dignity. For these reasons and on certain other grounds, I hold the opinion that the subject of this prophecy is primarily the Promised Messiahas who is the reflex of the Holy Prophetas and the counter-type of Jesus Christ. But the whole question is one regarding which no decision on the basis of revealed authority has been left by any of the prophets. Any discussion of the question therefore has little more than mere academic interest. If any person holds a different view regarding the interpretation of the verse, all that I shall say is that he is mistaken, but I shall never deem him, on that account, any the less an Ahmadi and much less shall I deem him a sinner. In short, the question as to who is the proper subject of this Quranic prophecy is not at all of such moment as to make it a problem of any great religious importance.” (The Truth About the Split, pp. 58-59. 2007)
Then Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib states on page 50 of The Split that the standpoint of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra about the finality of prophethood differed from the doctrines of the Promised Messiahas. He cites different passages from the writings of the second Khalifa and then tries to prove his own explanation of the finality of prophethood from the Holy Quran, Hadith and the writings of the Promised Messiahas from page 50-78 of The Split.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra,regarding his belief about the finality of prophethood being in accord to the teachings of the Promised Messiahas, states:
“In my opinion, the fact that the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, who was the most truthful of all men and the most jealous guardian of the honour of Islam, repeatedly gave the name of Nabi to the Messiah that was to come, is ample evidence of the fact that the expected Messiah was to be actually a Nabi. But since it has been claimed by the Holy Quran that its teachings are for all countries and for all ages, it follows that no new prophet could be expected who may bring a new law. The saying of the Holy Prophetsa with reference to himself – “Ana Akhirul Anbiya” (I am the last of the Prophets) – goes also to prove the same thing, viz. that after the Holy Prophetsa no other prophet is to appear who should attain the rank of prophethood except through obedience to him. In other words, whoever should after the Holy Prophetsa attain the rank of Nabi must be one from among the followers of the Holy Prophetsa and must achieve the rank through the spiritual grace of the Holy Prophetsa.” (The Truth About the Split, pp. 58-59. 2007)
Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib then highlights on page 79 of The Split that the viewpoint of the second Khalifa about the status of those who do not enter into the Bai‘at of the Promised Messiahas is that “all Muslims except the Ahmadis are really non-Muslims” which is against the teachings of the Promised Messiahas. The author explains his point and gives examples from the writings of the Promised Messiahas in pages 79-93 of The Split, expressing that the second Khalifa holds false doctrines.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra explains his stance about status of those who do not enter into the Bai‘at of the Promised Messiahas and states:
“As for the question of kufr (unbelief) of non-Ahmadi Muslims, my belief is that kufr really arises from a denial of God. Hence, whenever there comes any revelation from God of such a nature that its acceptance is obligatory on every man, a rejection of the same leads to kufr. Belief in such a revelation, however, presupposes belief in the bearer of the revelation. Hence it follows that a belief in the bearer of such revelation is a necessary part of one’s faith. The man who rejects a prophet thus necessarily becomes a kafir, not because he denies the truth of any particular Prophet X or Y, but such denial will necessarily lead him to reject a revelation of God.” (The Truth About the Split, pp. 59-60. 2007)
The sole reason behind writing The Split was that Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib wanted the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat to make an effort to deny the false doctrines which he thought had been propagated by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, thus he ends his book with an appeal which is similar to that stated earlier in his book:
“I appeal to the good sense and moral courage of the Ahmadiyya Community to denounce these false doctrines with one voice before they take root like the false doctrines attributed to the Messiah.” (The Split in the Ahmadiyya Movement, p. 49. 1994)
On the other hand, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra deduced that the purpose of publishing this book seems rather different, stating:
“It seems to me, however, that the object of publishing the book is quite different from the one here described, and this conclusion will be forced on every intelligent reader who cares to peruse its pages. For, in the first place, the book has been written in English, whereas the vast majority of the followers of Ahmadas at present are his own countrymen… English is not the mother tongue of any of them; nor do they, with a very few exceptions which do not amount even to one per cent of the total, read or understand that language.” (The Truth About the Split, pp. 1-2. 2007)
Another reason of writing the book could have been that the author was worried about the progress of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat being blocked by the false doctrines of the second Khalifa but the reality was, as stated by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra:
“Let us remember, however, that in those countries outside India, e.g. Ceylon, Mauritius, Africa, etc. where Ahmadiyyat has obtained a footing, there has never been, nor is there now, any mission working on behalf of the party of Maulvi Sahib (Maulvi Muhammad Ali Sahib). Whatever progress Ahmadiyyat has made in those countries has been accomplished in my time and through my instrumentality. I speak not, however in self-praise. I speak only of a favour which the Lord bestows on whomsoever He pleases.” (The Truth About the Split, p. 3. 2007)
The only motive that one senses while reading this book, which was in fact the real intention behind the publication of such a book, was the envy and jealousy towards the fast-growing success of the second Khalifa, as expressed by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra:
“The only reason which can therefore be assigned to this publication, is the envy and jealousy which Maulvi Sahib (Maulana Muhammad Ali Sahib) entertains towards me personally and which makes him very unwilling to see any success attend my endeavours. He has advanced so far in his envy that he seems to have ceased to care for any harm which his activities against me may cause to the general interest of Islam and Ahmadiyyat.” (The Truth About the Split, p. 5. 2007)
For a detailed understanding of the events that transpired around 14 March 1914, we encourage our readers to read The Truth About the Split, by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra: