Hafiz Usama Butt, Student, Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
Islam ensures every person has the basic human right to choose their religion or faith; no one can take this liberty away.
Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ
“There is no compulsion in religion.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.257)
This said, many Muslims call Ahmadis Muslims, “non-Muslim”. According to a poll by Pew Research, conducted in November 2011, two out of every three Pakistani Muslims say Ahmadis are not Muslim. This survey highlighted the fact that just 7% accept Ahmadis as Muslims, with 26% not offering a response, or answering that they don’t know. (www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/10/in-pakistan-most-say-ahmadis-are-not-muslim/)
A significant misconception regarding Ahmadi Muslims is the idea that Ahmadiyyat is some kind of new cult outside of Islam. And that they have a new prophet who brought new teachings, other than Islam. Of course, these are false accusations spread by Muslim scholars and clerics.
Ahmadis believe in the Holy Prophetsa and the final message – the Holy Quran – with all of their being. We only see the Promised Messiahas as an ummati prophet, subordinate to the Holy Prophetsa and under the yolk of the Holy Quran. Any fair person who has read and studied Islam Ahmadiyyat will attest to this.
When it comes to defining and deciding who is and is not a Muslim, it would merit considering what the Holy Quran and ahadith say about defining “a Muslim”.
Allah the Almighty says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيْلِ اللّٰهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوْا وَلَا تَقُوْلُوْا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُوْنَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللّٰهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذٰلِكَ كُنْتُمْ مِّنْ قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللّٰهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوْا ۚ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُوْنَ خَبِيرًا
“O ye who believe! when you go forth in the cause of Allah, make proper investigation and say not to anyone who greets you with the greeting of peace, ‘Thou art not a believer.’ You seek the goods of this life, but with Allah are good things in plenty. Such were you before this, but Allah conferred [His] favour on you; [so do] make proper investigation. Surely, Allah is well aware of what you do.” (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.95)
This verse clearly instructs Muslims not to rush and call someone a disbeliever because this is a very sensitive matter. It goes so far as to say not to call a person, who gives greetings of peace, a disbeliever.
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa explicitly warned that if a person affirms the Oneness of Allah, then to accuse such a person of merely outwardly affirming it and alleging that he negates it in his heart, would make such an accuser guilty of transgression.
The famous example of Hazrat Usamara who, during a battle, killed a previous disbeliever who had professed the shahada as Hazrat Usamara overpowered him, is a manifest example for all those who are quick to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Hazrat Usamara went to the Prophetsa and informed him about what had happen:
فَذَكَرْتُهُ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَقَالَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ وَقَتَلْتَهُ . قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللّٰهِ إِنَّمَا قَالَهَا خَوْفًا مِنَ السِّلَاحِ . قَالَ أَفَلَا شَقَقْتَ عَنْ قَلْبِهِ حَتَّى تَعْلَمَ أَقَالَهَا أَمْ لَا . فَمَازَالَ يُكَرِّرُهَا عَلَىَّ حَتَّى تَمَنَّيْتُ أَنِّي أَسْلَمْتُ يَوْمَئِذٍ
Hazrat Usamara narrates:
“I mentioned this incident to the Holy Prophetsa. He said, ‘Did he profess, “There is no god but Allah”, and even then you killed him?’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, he made a declaration [of faith] due to fear of [my] weapon’. The Holy Prophetsa said, ‘Did you tear his heart open in order to find out if he was sincere or not?’ And he [the Holy Prophetsa] went on repeating this statement to me till I wished I had embraced Islam that day”. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, Bab Tehreem Qatlil Kafir)
Now some people claim Ahmadis are not true Muslims, and they just “pose” themselves as Muslims. This argument was immediately dismantled and negated by the Holy Prophetsa in the above hadith. Claiming to see into someone’s heart and deciding whether that person is a Muslim, is not our business. Let Allah be the judge!
As one of the great scholars of the Hanafi School, Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Ali al-Razi al-Jassas said in commentary of Surah al-Nisa, verse 95:
مَنْ قَالَ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ أَوْ قَالَ إنِّيْ مُسْلِمٌ أَنَّهُ يُحْكَمُ لَهُ بِحُكْمِ الْإِسْلَامِ
“Anyone who says ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His messenger’ or says ‘I am a Muslim’, [he will be considered Muslim] and will be judged according to Islamic rulings.” (Ahkam al-Quran, commentary of Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.94)
A highly accredited and prominent scholar of the Deobandis and a critic of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Mufti Muhammad Shafi says:
“From this verse comes the important ruling that anyone who professes Islam and declares that he is a Muslim – by reciting the Kalima or by associating himself with some marked feature of Islam such as the Azan and the Salah, should be treated as a Muslim. All Muslims must deal with him as they would do with any other Muslim. They are not supposed to wait and worry about finding out whether such a person has embraced Islam with all his heart or it has been done out of expediency.
“In addition to that, this is a case in which even his doings will not serve as the criterion. Suppose, someone skips Salah, does not fast and is involved with all sorts of sins – still, no one has the right to say that he has gone outside the pale of Islam or to treat him as one would treat a disbeliever. Therefore, the great Imam Abu Hanifah said: لَا نكفر اهل القبله بذنب [We do not call the people of the Qiblah, kafirs, because of some sin]. Similar statements appear in hadith narrations also, such as, do not say that the people of the Qiblah are kafirs, no matter how sinful and evil-doing they may be.” (Tafsir Marif-ul-Quran, Volume 2, p. 549)
It is clear that anyone who claims to be a Muslim, will be declared Muslim. Ahmadis always say they are Muslims and the teachings of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya are in accordance with the Holy Quran and sunnah. No parliament has this power to declare someone non-Muslim; the pronouncement that a person is a Muslim or non-Muslim rests utterly with Allah the Almighty.
In the Holy Quran, Allah says:
قَالَتِ الۡاَعۡرَابُ اٰمَنَّا
That is, “The Arabs of the desert say, ‘We believe.’” In other words, this is a declaration they make regarding their own faith.
Allah then says:
قُلۡ لَّمۡ تُؤۡمِنُوۡا وَ لٰكِنۡ قُوۡلُوۡۤا اَسۡلَمۡنَا وَ لَمَّا يَدۡخُلِ الۡاِيۡمَانُ فِيۡ قُلُوۡبِكُم
“Say, ‘You have not believed [yet]; but rather say, ‘We have submitted [accepted Islam],’ for the [true] belief has not yet entered into your hearts.” (Surah al-Hujurat, Ch.49: V.15)
This verse is very clear; Allah instructs the Holy Prophetsa not to declare them non-Muslims, even though they have not attained the higher levels of faith. They have the right to express themselves as Muslims and part of Islam.
The great scholar, Imam Raghib explains the meaning of Islam:
والْاِسلامُ في الشَرعِ عليٰ ضَرْبَيْنِ:۔ احَدُهُما دُونَ الْاِيمانِ وَهُوَ الاعتِرَافُ باللسانِ و بِهٖ يُحقَنُ الدّمُ حَصَلَ معه الاِعتِقَادُ اَولم يُحصل وايَّاهُ قُصِدَ بقولهٖ قالتِ الاعرابُ آمَنَّا قُلْ لَم تُوْمِنُوا وَلٰكِنْ قُولوا اَسْلَمْنَا ۔ والثاني فَوقَ الايمان وَهو اَنْ يَكُون مَعَ الاِعتَرَافِ اعتِقَاد بِالقَلب ووفاءٌ بالفعل۔ واستِسْلاَم للّٰهِ فِيْ جَميعِ ما قَضَيٰ وَقدّرَ كَمَا ذُكِرَ عَنْ ابراهيمَ عليه السلامُ في قولِهٖ اذ قَالَ لَهٗ رَبُّهٗ اَسلِمْ قَالَ اَسْلمتُ لرَبِّ الْعَالَمِين
“In Shariah, there are two forms of Islam. One of them is doonal-iman [without true faith] and it refers to confession of the tongue – regardless of whether [his] actions follow [his] beliefs or do not follow – and with this the blood of the individual is protected. And this is similar to the statement of Allah [in the Quran]: ‘The Arabs of the desert say, “We believe.” Say, “You have not believed yet, but rather say, ‘We have submitted’”.’ The second is fauqal-iman [with true faith], and it refers to having belief that is sincerely held in the heart, having loyalty demonstrated through actions, and complete submission to Allah in all that He has decreed, as it is mentioned regarding Hazrat Ibrahimas in the statement of Allah [in the Quran]: “When his Lord said to him, ‘Submit’, he said, ‘I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds.” (Mufradat-ul-Quran, p. 240)
Now, let’s look at the ahadith, to establish what the definition of a Muslim according to Holy Prophetsa was. The first definition given by the Holy Prophetsa is understood by the following hadith:
عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ ـ رَضِىَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهُ ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ اكْتُبُوْا لِي مَنْ تَلَفَّظَ بِالإِسْلاَمِ مِنَ النَّاسِ . فَكَتَبْنَا لَهُ أَلْفًا وَخَمْسَمِائَةِ رَجُلٍ، فَقُلْنَا نَخَافُ وَنَحْنُ أَلْفٌ وَخَمْسُمِائَةٍ فَلَقَدْ رَأَيْتُنَا ابْتُلِينَا حَتَّى إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيُصَلِّي وَحْدَهُ وَهوَ خَائِفٌ.
Hazrat Huzayfara narrated:
“The Prophetsa said [to us], ‘List the names of those people who have announced that they are Muslims.’ So, we listed 1,500 men. Then we wondered, ‘Should we be afraid [of the infidels] although we are 1,500 in number?’ No doubt, we witnessed ourselves being afflicted with such bad trials that one would have to offer the prayer alone in fear.” (Sahih al Bukhari, hadith no. 3060)
Here, during a census, the Prophetsa clearly instructed that anyone who professed to be a Muslim should be considered one. He did not ask for further investigation or judge people. A mere declaration was enough.
The second definition of a Muslim by the Prophetsa is more detailed and yet simple, leaving no confusion. Hazrat Anasra bin Malik narrated that the Holy Prophetsa said:
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَنْ صَلَّى صَلاَتَنَا، وَاسْتَقْبَلَ قِبْلَتَنَا، وَأَكَلَ ذَبِيحَتَنَا، فَذَلِكَ الْمُسْلِمُ الَّذِي لَهُ ذِمَّةُ اللّٰهِ وَذِمَّةُ رَسُوْلِهِ، فَلاَ تُخْفِرُوا اللّٰهَ فِي ذِمَّتِهِ
“Whoever prays like us and faces our Qiblah and eats our slaughtered animals is a Muslim and is under Allah’s and His Prophet’s protection. So do not betray Allah by betraying those who are in His protection.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith 391)
In another hadith, angel Gabriel asked the Prophetsa about Islam:
وَقَالَ: يَا مُحَمَّدُ اخْبِرْنِيْ عَنِ الْإِسْلَامِ. فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ سَلَّمَ الْإِسْلَامُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لَا إلٰهَ إلَّا اللّٰهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ، وَتُقِيْمَ الصَّلَاةَ، وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ، وَتَصُوْمَ رَمَضَانَ، وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ إلَيْهِ سَبِيْلًا. قَالَ: صَدَقْتَ
“Gabriel said: ‘O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.’ The Holy Prophetsa replied: ‘Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform Salat, pay the Zakat, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House [the Ka‘bah], if you can find a way to it [or find the means for making the journey to it].’ He [Gabriel] said: ‘You have spoken the truth.’” (Sahih Muslim)
Abu Ja‘far Ahmad al-Tahawi states in his book Al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya
و نسمي اهل قبلتنا مسلمين مومنين،ما داموا بما جاء به النبي ﷺ معترفين، و له بكل ما قال و اخبر مصدقين
“We call the people of our Qiblah Muslims and believers as long as they acknowledge what the Holy Prophetsa brought, and accept as true everything that he said and told us. (Al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya, no. 54)
These clear and succinct definitions of “a Muslim” leave no room for doubt that Ahmadis are Muslims by letter and spirit. What the wider Muslim world says, does not matter. Allah the Almighty and His Prophetsa have declared Ahmadis as the truest Muslims.
The following words of the Promised Messiahas will be befitting to end on:
“I have no book except the Holy Quran, and I have no Messenger except Muhammadsa, the chosen one, and I have no religion except Islam. I firmly believe that my Prophetsa is the Ultimate Prophet (Khatam-ul-Anbiyaa) and the Holy Quran is the Ultimate Book (Khatam-ul-Kutub).
“So no one should turn religion into a child’s play. Let it be remembered that I have no claim except that of being the servant of Islam. I have no claim to rivalry, and he who attributes such a claim to me, levels a calumny against me.
“I receive the munificence of blessings from my Holy Prophetsa and receive the munificence of profound perception from the Holy Quran. Therefore, it is befitting that no one must entertain in his heart anything contrary to this declaration of mine, otherwise he will be liable to be accountable to God for it.
“If I am not a servant of Islam, then all my enterprise is futile, fit for rejection, and entails punitive liability.”
“Sincerely, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, from Qadian, 7 August, 1899.” (Maktubat-e-Ahmad, Vol. 5, no. 4)