Last Updated on 13th November 2021
Did the Promised Messiahas agree with the killing of renegades?
An allegation often levelled against the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian is that he believed in the concept of killing apostates (qatl-e-murtad). To prove this, they present the following extract:
جو شخص مسلمان ہو كر یہ اعتقاد ركھے كہ كبھى آنحضرت صلعم نے اپنى عمر میں ضلالت كا عمل كیا تھا تو وہ كافر بے دین اور حد شرعى كے لائق ہے۔
“The person who, despite being Muslim, believes that the Holy Prophetsa ever performed a disgraceful act, is a disloyal kafir and liable to the Shariah’s penalty.” (Aina Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, p. 170)
In reference to this, opponents say: If someone says that Muhammadsa was not a prophet, would they be subjected to the Shariah penalty? Therefore, it is clear that he is referring to killing of apostates.
There is, however, no connection between both remarks whatsoever.
The fact is that here, capital punishment for apostates cannot be the subject under discussion as the Promised Messiahas has just discussed the verse, “And He found thee wandering in search [for Him] and guided thee [unto Himself].” (Surah al-Duha, Ch.93: V.8)
In reference to the verse, Hazrat Ahmadas said that some people believe that prior to the revelation of the Quran, the Prophetsa was – God forbid – misguided and Allah bestowed guidance upon him thereafter, but this belief of people is an injustice and an affront to his noble status.
Thus, Hazrat Ahmadas is, in essence, addressing those who undermine the status of the Prophetsa as opposed to renegades.
An apostate or renegade (murtad) is a person who, having accepted Islam, rejects it completely and shuns the religion of Islam, but such commentators and scholars who interpret verse 8 of Surah al-Duha in the manner cited above are already Muslims.
The scholars at the time believed that those who insulted the Prophetsa in any form or way should be subjected to the Shariah penalty. This is something that is still believed by some non-Ahmadi Muslim scholars today.
On the contrary, the Promised Messiahas always taught forbearance towards those who slandered and hurled abuse at the Prophetsa of Islam throughout his writings and talks.
In light of Surah Al-e-Imran, verse 187, the Promised Messiahas repeatedly advised that abuse was inevitable on the part of the opponents and under no circumstances was it allowed to punish such a one, but rather patience should be practiced.
The Promised Messiahas said:
“There is a prophecy pertaining to the Latter Days in the Holy Quran and it is supported with a divine instruction that should not be ignored by true Muslims. That is,
لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِىْ اَمْوَالِكُمْ وَاَنْفُسِكُمْ وَ لَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِىْنَ اُوْتُواالْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِىْنَ اَشْرَكُوْا اَذًى كَثِىْرًا وَاِنْ تَصْبِرُوْا وَ تَتَّقُوْا فَاِنَّ ذَالِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْاُمُوْرِ
“The translation is, ‘You shall surely be tried in your possessions and in your persons and you shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and from those who set up equals [to God]. But if you show fortitude and act righteously, then you shall be counted among those that show strong determination [Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.187].’ The words, Adhan Kathira [hurtful things] suggests extreme pain … In the aforementioned verse, we have been instructed that upon hearing such foul language that causes pain to our hearts, we should show patience.” (Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 13, pp. 318-319)
Hazrat Ahmadas says:
“God has clearly instructed us, at the end of Surah Al-e-Imran, regarding the times when our religion is insulted and when hurtful and abusive language is used about our Noble Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, [Arabic verse] ‘You shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and from those who set up equals [to God]. Then, if you show fortitude and act righteously, then you shall be counted among those that show strong determination [Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.187].’” (Al-Balagh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 13, pp. 390-391)
Concerning the usage of language on the part of the Aryas, Hazrat Ahmadas said:
“If they hurt us by using harsh language then we should show patience until God Almighty makes a decisive distinction between us and them. It is about that patience that God Almighty states in the Holy Quran, [Arabic verse] ‘You shall surely be tried in your possessions and in your persons and you shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and from those who set up equals (to God). But if you show fortitude and act righteously, then you shall be counted among those that show strong determination.’” (Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, p. 15)
To merely prove that the Promised Messiahas considered those people who left Islam worthy of the death penalty, the opponents of the Jamaat say that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement was of the belief that whoever left Islam, whether they opposed Islam openly or not, should be killed due to their apostacy.
To prove this, opponents argue that the Promised Messiahas, in his book Sirrul-Khilafa, cited a letter of Hazrat Abu Bakrra that he wrote to renegade tribes. The translation of the Arabic words is:
“I have sent to you (so and so) from the Ansar and Muhajirin and those who follow them with benevolence, and I commanded not to fight anyone nor kill him until he invites him to the caller unto Allah. Whosoever answers him, acknowledges him and desists [from fighting] and does good deeds, he will accept it from him, and he (the messenger) will help him to do so. Whosoever rejects, then I have commanded him to fight him (due to his rejection) until none of them have the capacity to fight him; I have commanded him to burn them with fire and kill them in every way and take their women and children as slaves and not accept anything from them except Islam.” (Sirrul-Khilafa, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 396)
After presenting these words, opponents say that here, only murtads – those who left Islam – are being addressed and not exclusively those murtads who rebelled against Islam. In presenting this letter, according to them, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat accepted that it was permissible for murtads to be killed and burnt merely as a result of their apostacy.
Yet, those who have studied Sirrul-Khilafa know that in the same book Hazrat Ahmadas said in Arabic:
“And Aishara states, ‘When my father was appointed as Khalifa and Allah gave him leadership, he had to witness storms of discord from every side due to this, as well as the scores of false prophets and liars, and the rebellion of the hypocrites and renegades. He then had to face such difficulties as would have rendered asunder and crushed mountains instantly had it fallen upon them, but he was granted patience like that of the prophets until the help of Allah came, the false claimants were killed, the renegades perished, the discord vanished, the distressing ordeals were over, the matter was settled and Khilafat was established.” (Sirrul-Khilafah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 8, p. 335)
Those who have studied Sirrul-Khilafah know that Hazrat Ahmadas quoted in Arabic:
“And Aishara states, ‘When my father was appointed as Khalifa and Allah gave him leadership, he had to witness storms of discord from every side due to this, as well as the scores of false prophets and liars, and the rebellion of the hypocrites and renegades. He then had to face such difficulties as would have rendered asunder and crushed mountains instantly had it fallen upon them, but he was granted patience like that of the prophets until the help of Allah came, the false claimants were killed, the renegades perished, the discord vanished, the distressing ordeals were over, the matter was settled and Khilafat was established.” (Sirrul-Khilafa, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 8, p. 335)
The words “rebellion of the hypocrites and renegades” present in the above-mentioned paragraph are of considerable importance, as these words highlight the fact that Hazrat Abu Bakrra faced individuals who were not mere apostates, but instead, were guilty of rebellion.
Opponents refer to just a portion from the letter of Hazrat Abu Bakrra present in Sirrul-Khilafa. The founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas has cited this letter on page 66 and 67 [first edition] of his book Sirrul-Khilafa and on the preceding page 65, citing two paragraphs from Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, under the title Khuruj Mudda‘i al-Nubuwwah [appearance of false claimants of prophethood].
Hazrat Ahmadas states:
“All the false claimants of prophethood rose up, namely Aswad of Yemen, Musaylimah of Yamama and Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid of Bani Asad (Ibn Khaldun, Part II, p. 60). Sajah bint Al-Harith of Bani Aqfan claimed false prophethood. Huzail bin Imran of Bani Taghlib, Uqba bin Halal of Bani Nimr, Salil bin Qays and Zayd bin Bilal of Bani Shayban became his followers. [The false claimants of prophethood] along with the tribes present in the [Arabian] peninsula advanced towards Medina, in order to wage war against Hazrat Abu Bakrra (Ibid., p. 65).” (Sirrul-Khilafa, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 8, p. 394)
Take another look at the last sentence, in which Imam Ibn Khaldun points out that “[the false claimants of prophethood] along with the tribes present in the [Arabian] peninsula advanced towards Medina, in order to wage war against Hazrat Abu Bakrra.”
Then, under the heading [Arabic] “Revolt of apostates after the demise of the Holy Prophetsa – the Imam of mankind and the greatest of all prophets”, citing three paragraphs from Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Hazrat Ahmadas states:
“Arabs apostatised after the demise of the Holy Prophetsa. In some cases, an entire tribe rebelled, while at other times, a part of the tribe. Hypocrisy took root and Muslims – because of their weak strength and being subjected to a great number of opponents and owing to the gloomy atmosphere formed by the demise of their Prophetsa – resembled sheep and goats in a rainy night (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Part II, p. 65).
“Ibn Khaldun further writes, ‘All and sundry from the Arabs apostatised. Banu Tayy and Banu Asad reunited at the hand of Tulayha, while Banu Gatfan apostatised. Banu Hawazin rebelled and refused to offer Zakat funds. Moreover, the leaders of Banu Sulaym apostatised. Similarly, all the rest did the same.’ (Ibid., p. 65).
“Ibn Athir states in his book, Tarikh [Kamil], ‘When the Holy Prophetsa passed away, the news of his demise reached Mecca and its governor, Atab bin Usaid, disappeared. The entirety of Mecca shuddered, and it was highly probable that its inhabitants would have left Islam.’ (Ibid., Part I, p. 134)
“He further states that all high and low from the Arabs apostatised. Hypocrisy became evident. The Jews and Christians stretched their necks to examine the situation. Moreover, Muslims, owing to the demise of their Prophetsa and because of their weak strength, faced a great number of enemies resembling sheep and goats in a rainy night. In these circumstances, people turned to Hazrat Abu Bakrra saying that the masses only considered the battalion of Hazrat Usamara to be the army of Islam and he should realise that Arabs had rebelled against him. So, they said to him, it was not reasonable to separate himself from this company of Muslim men. Hazrat Abu Bakrra responded by saying, ‘I call to witness that Entity in Whose Omnipotent Hand lies my life! If I become certain of the fact that predators may snatch me, even then I would send the expedition of Usamara, in accord to the instructions of the Holy Prophetsa. I cannot annul the decision of the Holy Prophetsa.’
“Abdullah bin Masudra said, ‘After the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, we went through such a phase that if God had not showered His mercy in the person of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, we would quite possibly have seen ruin.’ He reunited the Muslims on this objective that they should fight to collect the obligatory funds of Zakat on bint-e-makhad (one year-old she-camel) and bint-e-labun (two year-old she-camel), and that they quash the settlements of Arabs and continue to worship Allah the Almighty till the last breath (Ibid., p.65).” (Sirrul-Khilafa, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 8, pp. 393-394)
In the above mentioned paragraphs, “a great number of enemies” and “they refused to offer Zakat” carry significant importance, as these words indicate that a great number of opponents along with the apostate tribes had refused to offer the obligatory Zakat funds towards the treasury, thereby openly rebelling against the Islamic state.
Moreover, the request made by the Companionsra to stop the company of men under the command of Hazrat Usamara, the reply of Hazrat Abu Bakrra that no matter the consequences he would not stop the expedition of Usamara even if the predators clawed his corpse and then the words of Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud, ‘After the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, we went through such a phase that if God had not showered His mercy in the person of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, we would quite possibly have seen ruin’ highlight the perilous situation of those times and the extreme threat posed by the apostate tribes to the inhabitants of Medina and the Islamic state.
It is stated in Tarikh Al-Tabari:
وكان اول من صادم عبس و ذبيان عاجلوه فقاتلهم قبل رجوع اُسامة
“He [Hazrat Abu Bakrra]was the first person who confronted the tribes of Banu Abs and Zibyan as both these tribes advanced towards him unexpectedly [to wage war] before the return of Hazrat Usamara.” (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 278)
Ibn Khaldun states:
فعاجلته عبس و ذبيان ونزلوا في الابرق ونزل آخرون بذي القصة
“Thus, Banu Abs and Zibyan advanced towards him [Hazrat Abu Bakrra] unexpectedly [to wage war]. Most of them camped in Abrak and others camped in Zhu Qissa.” (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Vol. 2, p. 65)
It is evident from the above quotes that these tribes waged war against the Islamic state before the expedition of Hazrat Usamara could return to Medina, and in response to that, Hazrat Abu Bakrra had to fight a defensive war.
It is stated in Tarikh Khamis:
“And Kharijah bin Hisn bin Huzaifa bin Badr advanced towards Medina. He was one of those who apostatised along with the horsemen of his tribe. He wanted to deceive the people regarding the war or to attack them unexpectedly in a state of heedlessness. Thus, he carried a surprise attack against Hazrat Abu Bakrra and against those who stood by him.” (Tarikh Khamis, Vol. 3, p. 173)
Ibn Khaldun states:
“The tribes of Banu Zibyan and Abs assaulted those Muslims who were present within them and martyred them. Similar was the conduct of those apostates who came after them.” (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Vol. 2, p. 66)
“So, the tribes of Banu Zibyan and Abs attacked those Muslims who existed within them and vehemently martyred them. And those who came after them followed their footsteps.” (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 280)
The author of Tarikh-ul-Kamil states:
“The dispatching of the expedition of Hazrat Usamara proved beneficial for the Muslims. Therefore, the Arabs said, ‘Had they [the Muslims] lacked strength, they would not be able to dispatch this expedition.’ Thus, they refrained from doing all that they had planned to do.” (Al Kamil Fi Tarikh Ibn Athir, Vol. 2, p. 200)
Badruddin Ainirh states:
“Surely, Hazrat Abu Bakrra fought against those who refused to offer the Zakat as they sought protection under the sword and declared war over the Ummah.” (Umda-tul-Qari Sharah Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 24, p. 119)
“ [After the defeat of the tribes] Hazrat Khalidra accepted [the request for forgiveness] from every person belonging to the tribes of Banu Asad, Gatfan, Hawazin, Sulaim and Tayy, only on the condition that they give up those individuals who burned alive, mutilated and attacked the Muslims in their state of apostasy.” (Tarikh Al-Tabari, Vol. III, p. 289)
It is very obvious from the above-mentioned statements that the apostates burned Muslims alive, mutilated the bodies of their martyrs and attacked them.
Ibn Khaldun states:
“Banu Rabia apostatised and they chose Munzir bin Numan bin Al-Munzir – famous by the name of maghrur [the arrogant] – as their leader and accepted his authority; similar was the case of his own people of Hira.” (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, Vol. II, p. 76)
Thus, it becomes vividly clear from all these historical references that the apostate tribes refused to offer obligatory Zakat funds – they forcefully refused to pay the tax of the state. Moreover, they looted the funds of Zakat from several treasuries, organised an army, eventually attacked the capital Medina and martyred those Muslims who refused to follow them in their revolt against the state.
Some people were burned alive by them. Consequently, these apostates of the state deserved the death penalty on the charges of armed rebellion, looting the funds of the state, murdering Muslims and burning Muslims alive. It is stated in the Holy Quran:
جَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا
“The recompense of an injury is the injury the like thereof.” (Surah al-Shura, Ch.42: V.41)
At another place, it is stated:
إِنَّمَا جَزَاءُ الَّذِينَ يُحَارِبُونَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوْلَهُ وَيَسْعَوْنَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَسَادًا أَنْ يُقَتَّلُوْا أَوْ يُصَلَّبُوْا أَوْ تُقَطَّعَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُمْ مِّنْ خِلَافٍ أَوْ يُنْفَوْا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ
“The reward of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to create disorder in the land is [only this] that they be slain or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on alternate sides, or they be expelled from the land.” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.34)
“And strive to create disorder in the land”, shows the meaning of waging a war against Allah and His Messenger. The usage of “and” in this verse is grammatically considered as tafsiriyah (explaining the previous statement) and elucidates the fact that those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger – create disorder in the country, cause bloodshed, steal, ransack and armed rebellion – their punishment is that “they be slain or crucified”.
It should be noted here that the words:
يُقَتَّلُوْا أَوْ يُصَلَّبُوْا
(they be slain or crucified) used here, according to Arabic grammar, fall in the category of taf‘eel,which is used to indicate the intensity and severity of an action, thereby carrying the meaning of strictness in the punishments of slaying and crucifixion.
We pray to the Merciful and Most Forgiving Allah that as He granted Abdullah ibn Saad ibn Abi Sarah the strength to repent, in the very same way, may Allah the Almighty strengthen the hearts of those people who were once part of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya but left on account of misinformation. May they leave this materialistic world firmly believing in the Promised Messiahas and the Akharin.
(Research conducted by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah. Translated by Al Hakam)