Last Updated on 30th July 2021
“The children of Israel split into 72 sects, and my nation will split into 73, all of which will be in Hell except for one […] which is ‘al-Jama‘ah’.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Tribulations)
Syed Hashir, Student, Jamia Ahmadiyya Canada
Allegation 4: The heavenly sect is the majority
The fourth argument given by many is that “al-Jama‘ah”in the above hadith is referring to the majority of Muslims, not one particular sect.
To understand the meaning of “al-Jama‘ah”, we need to refer to the Holy Prophetsa. How did our beloved master define this word? When the Companionsra asked him about the “al-Jama‘ah”, the Prophetsa simply replied, “What I am upon and my companions”.
“Indeed the children of Israel split into 72 sects, and my ummah will split into 73 sects. All of them are in the fire except one sect.” [The companions] said: ‘And which sect is it, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: “[Those who are like] What I and my Companions are upon.” (Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Book of Faith)
This is the definition of “al-Jama‘ah” given by the Holy Prophetsa.
The question is, what were Prophet Muhammadsa and his Companionsra “upon”?
The Companionsra had our beloved Prophetsa to guide them. They had an imam sent by God, who led and guided them as a shepherd. The Holy Prophetsa and his Companionsra were persecuted for reciting the kalima shahada and offering Salat. They were persecuted for reciting the Holy Quran to the extent that they could not even recite the Holy Quran in their own homes. They were all severely punished just for praying and prostrating before Allah the Almighty so much so that Prophet Muhammadsa was mocked and was beaten while in prostration. It is narrated that a pagan once tied a cloth around the neck of our beloved master to suffocate him to death while he was prostrating. The Muslims were boycotted and suppressed in every possible way. These were the prevailing conditions subsequent to the birth of Islam.
After the Holy Prophet’ssa demise, the Companionsra were blessed with the institution of Khilafat. The Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa were less in number but soon became a majority in the region against all odds. The level of obedience in the hearts of the Companionsra for the Holy Prophetsa was so high that when the commandment of the prohibition of wine reached their ears, the drunk companions broke the barrels of wine immediately without any question and never drank after that.
Prophet Muhammadsa and his Companionsra were barred from Masjid al-Haram, stopped from the Holy Pilgrimage and stopped from preaching. The Companionsra of the Prophetsa were strict in adhering to the unity of God, punctual in their prayers, woke up for Tahajud, regularly spent huge amounts in the way of Allah, created peace in the society, were good with neighbours regardless of their faith and ethnicity, were always ready for jihad, were just and honest and smiling and kind, were always completely obedient to Khilafat and whoever was placed as an authority over them by the Khalifa, and had a proper system of shura, to name but a few qualities.
This list is enough to burden any current sect or group of Muslims with the allegation that they are among the 72.
The true “al-Jama‘ah”is indeed the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. It is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat which, as a community, has all the above characteristics of the Holy Prophetsa and his Companionsra.
In an interview, the late Dr Israr Ahmed, a famous Pakistani Muslim scholar, quotes Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the famous scholar and poet, saying:
اگر كوئی شخص آج اسلام زنده ديكهنا چاہے تو قاديان ميں جا كے ديكهے
“If anyone wants to see Islam alive today he should go to Qadian.”
Regarding the Muslims who oppose the Ahmadis, Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal wrote in his poem Jawab-e-Shikwa:
“There is a clamour that the Muslims have vanished from the world. We say were there ever any Muslims there at all? If in manner you are Christian, then in culture, Hindus. These are the Musims! On seeing who, the Jews would be ashamed! Somehow you are Sayyids, you are Mirzas too, Afghans too, you’re everything – tell me, are you Muslims too?”
Coming back to the meaning of “al-Jama‘ah”, the Holy Prophetsa told his companion, Hazrat Huzayfara bin al-Yaman another meaning. He said:
تَلْزَمُ جَمَاعَةَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَإِمَامَهُمْ
“Adhere to the Jama‘at of the Muslims and their Imam”
Huzayfara bin al-Yaman asked:
فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ جَمَاعَةٌ وَلاَ إِمَامٌ
“If there is neither the Jama‘at, nor an Imam [then what should I do]?”
The Holy Prophetsa replied:
فَاعْتَزِلْ تِلْكَ الْفِرَقَ كُلَّهَا، وَلَوْ أَنْ تَعَضَّ بِأَصْلِ شَجَرَةٍ حَتَّى يُدْرِكَكَ الْمَوْتُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَى ذَلِكَ
“Then keep away from all those different sects, even if you had to bite [i.e. eat] the root of a tree, till you meet Allah while you are still in that state.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Virtues and Merits of the Prophetsa, Hadith no. 3606)
This hadith gives a distinctive meaning of “al-Jama‘ah”: having an imam (leader). A Jama‘at cannot function without an imam. That is why prayer in a congregation necessitates an imam. The Holy Prophetsa has clarified that a group which is not a Jama‘at is a mere sect, and he differentiated between sect and Jama‘at;commanding to stay away from any sect if one does not find a Jama‘at with an Imam.
Today, many Muslim denominations would claim to have their imams, but those imams only called towards disorder. Various sects are a testimony of the violent tendency of modern sects among Muslims. Their obedience by their followers was and is limited to creating chaos. The Holy Quran categorically states:
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ قَالُوْا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ
“And when it is said to them: ‘Create not disorder on the earth,’ they say: ‘We are only promoters of peace.’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.12)
1,400 years ago, the Holy Prophetsa prophesied this condition of the Muslims and their scholars. He said:
“A time will come when nothing will be left of Islam except its name, and nothing will be left of the Quran except its script; their mosques will be full of worshipers but devoid of righteousness. Scholars will be the worst of creatures under the canopy of the heavens. Evil will hatch from them and to them it will return.” (Mishkat-ul-Masabih, The Book of Knowledge)
The Holy Prophetsa conversely foretold the coming of an imam who would be guided by Allah the Almighty and prophesied the establishment of the long-lost Khilafat in Islam:
ثم تكون خلافة علی منهاج النبوة
“[…] Then there will be Khilafat on the precepts of Prophethood.” (Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal)
Imamat is perhaps the most important factor in identifying the true Jama‘at as mentioned in the hadith above. Dr Israr again writes in his Urdu book Jihad Fi Sabeelillah:
“Regarding the Jama‘at, the Holy Prophetsa has informed us that يَدُ اللّٰهِ عَلَي الْجَمَاعَةِ that Allah’s hand is on the Jama‘at and عليكم بالجماعة that it is mandatory on you to stay as a Jama‘at. Hazrat Umarra said that إِنَّهُ لَا اِسْلَامَ إِلَّا بِجَمَاعَةٍ وَلَا جَمَاعَةَ إلَّا بِإِمَارَةٍ وَلَا إِمَارَةَ إِلَّا بِطَاعَةٍ. That it is a reality that Islam is nothing without a Jama‘at, and a Jama‘at is nothing without imarat [leadership], and imarat is useless if there is no obedience of it.” (Jihaad fi Sabeelillah, p. 26)
Then he further states in the same book that “some people say that the entire ummah is one Jama‘at. If this is true, then who is its imam? If there is no imam present, then it is not a Jama‘at”. (Ibid)
On the same page Dr Israr writes, “The Muslims worldwide are not a Jama‘at. Hazrat Umar has unequivocally stated in an unambiguous manner:
لَا جَمَاعَةَ إلَّا بِإِمَارَةٍ
“‘There is no Jama‘at without the imarat [leadership].’” (Ibid)
In the book, Sharh al-Sunnah by Imam Al-Barbahari, it is written:
“[…] there will be no Jama‘at except with two conditions: that its methodology be based on the Quran, the sunnah and methodology of the righteous predecessors; and they must have a Muslim leader, to whom their affairs are referred. There is no religion except with a Jama‘at and there is no Jama‘at except with an imam; and there is no imam except by listening [to him] and obeying [him].” (Sharh as-Sunnah, Volume 1, p. 43, Chapter: The Jama‘atwill not exist except with two things, by Imam Al-Barbahariwith the explanation by Dr Saalih al-Fawzan)
Where is your Imam, O Muslims? Where is your Jama‘at? If you do not have an imam, then you are not a Jama‘at, and if there is no Jama‘atthen Hazrat Umarra has said that there is no Islam.
A clear challenge
The Fifth Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa challenged the entire Muslim ummah with regard to Khilafat. He declared:
“If all the leaders of the Muslim countries and the entire Muslim ummah unanimously agree upon an individual as the Khalifa and associate themselves with him by means of bai‘at, then the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat will most certainly be prepared to consider accepting such a Khalifa and associating with him through bai‘at along with the entire ummah.”
“[…] they cannot do this. They cannot do so. They simply cannot ever do so!” (Al Hakam, 25 December 2020, www.alhakam.org/unveiling-the-story-behind-the-great-challenge/ )
Does the Jama‘at need to be the majority? Simply put, no. Hazrat Abdullahra bin Mas‘ud replied to a person who enquired from him about the Jama‘at, saying:
إنما الجماعة ما وافق طاعة اللّٰه وإن كنت وحدك
“The real Jama‘at is the one that runs in alignment with obedience of Allah, even if you are alone.” (Sharh Usool-e-I‘tiqad Ahl-is-Sunnat wal-Jama’at, narration number 160, by Imam Abu-Qasim Hibatullah ibn al-Hasan at-Tabari al-Laalaka‘i)
In the book Sharh as-Sunnah it is written:
“The Jama‘at […] does not necessarily mean that they should be many; even if it is a single person who is upon the truth, he is called a Jama‘at. Therefore, the Jama‘at is whoever is upon the truth; whether its followers are few or many.” (Sharh as-Sunnah, Volume 1, page 40, Chapter: The Jama‘atwill not exist except with two things)
Imam Al-Barbaharialso said:
“The meaning of Jama‘at is not large numbers of people; rather, it is those upon the truth even if it is just a small group.” (Sharh as-Sunnah, Volume 2, p. 540, Chapter: The truth, sunnah, and Jama‘at, by Imam Al-Barbahari with the explanation by Dr Saalih al-Fawzan)
He goes even further and states that “Whoever is upon the truth is the Jama‘at. So the person upon the truth is called Jama‘at even if it is just one person, even if the entire people are against him.” (Ibid)
Imam Ibn-e-Qayyim al-Juziah also writes a similar statement in his book I‘laam-ul-Muwaqqi‘een.
Moreover, the hadith clearly mentions that 72 sects will be in Hell and one will be saved. The Holy Prophetsa has clarified that the majority would be misguided.
Allama Abul-Ala Maududi states:
“The question of majority and minority only arises in regards to nations, not for ‘Jama‘ats’ [communities]. Those Jama‘ats which are proponents of a powerful viewpoint and a vigorous collective philosophy are always few in numbers. And despite their few numbers, they rule over dominating majorities.” (Tehrik-e-Azadi-e-Hind aur Musalman, Part 2, p. 59)
Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi wrote the following in Tarjuman-ul-Quran (an Urdu magazine of Allama Maududi):
اسلام ميں نہ اكثريت كا كسی بات پر متفق ہو جانا اس كے حق ہونے كي دليل ہے، نہ اكثريت كا نام سواد اعظم ہے، نہ ہر بهيڑ جماعت كے حكم ميں داخل ہے، اور نہ كسی مقام كے مولويوں كی كسی جماعت كا كسی رائے كو اختيار كر لينا اجماع ہے
“Agreement reached by the majority on anything is not considered in Islam to be a proof of its being the truth; nor does every preponderance of people constitute a true majority. Every multitude of people is not an organised Community [Jama‘at], nor is the adoption of a particular viewpoint by the mullahs of a particular locality to be termed as Consensus.” (Tarjuman-ul-Quran, edition Sep-Oct 1945, p. 175, translation taken from [English] Mahzarnama of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community)
He further says:
“In it [Islam], one group, however small it is, will always be on the right path and that [group] is the Jama‘at, and Allah’s hand is on that Jama‘at and whoever cuts off from this Jama‘at would fall in Hell. This explanation is also backed up by the hadith of the Holy Prophet which is narrated by Hazrat Ibn Umarra that:
وَإِنَّ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ تَفَرَّقَتْ عَلَى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً وَتَفْتَرِقُ أُمَّتِي عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً كُلُّهُمْ فِي النَّارِ إِلاَّ مِلَّةً وَاحِدَةً قَالُوا وَمَنْ هِيَ يَا رَسُولَ اللّٰهِ قَالَ مَا أَنَا عَلَيْهِ وَأَصْحَابِي
“‘Indeed the children of Israel split into 72 sects, and my ummah will split into 73 sects. All of them are in the fire except one sect.’ They said: ‘And which is it O Messenger of Allah?; He said: ‘What I am upon and my Companions.’” (Tarjuman-ul-Quran, edition Sep-Oct 1945, pp. 175-176, by Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi edited by Allama Maududi)
Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi further writes on the same page:
“There is no ray of hope in this hadith for the community which declares itself, solely on the basis of its numerical strength, to be the community under Allah’s protection. Because this hadith explicitly states two characteristic features of the Community: firstly, it will tread on the path of the Holy Prophetsa and his Companions and, secondly, it will be an insignificant minority.” (Tarjuman-ul-Quran, edition Sep-Oct 1945, p. 176, by Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi edited by Allama Maududi, translation from [English] Mahzarnama)
It is clear what “al-Jama‘ah” actually means. Those who say it means the majority of the Muslims, are in clear error.
In this day and age, there is no consensus amongst the majority of Muslims, neither on any major issue nor on any minor issue. They cannot even agree on one simple definition of a Muslim, which is fundamental. For example, in 1953 an enquiry committee was put in place in Pakistan which asked different Islamic scholars and theologians from different denominations “Who is a Muslim?” The honourable judges, Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice MR Kiani commissioned this report and following its findings, said:
“Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines agree on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulema, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else.” (Munir Inquiry Report, p. 218)
The esteemed judges were right in their decision. The book Hussam-ul-Haramain by Allama Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi contained edicts declaring all other sects kafirs – disbelievers – long before 1953. In reply, Allama Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri in his book Al-Muhannad Ala Al-Mufannad declared the followers of Allama Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi as kafirs. There are countless other edicts of Muslim scholars and clerics against other Muslims.
Yaum-ul-Furqan – The day of the victory
This is the reality of their consensus and their majority. They cannot agree on any issue except one and that is the removal of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat from the pale of Islam. The verse of the Holy Quran rings true where Allah says:
تَحْسَبُهُمْ جَمِيعًا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ شَتَّى
“Thou thinkest them to be united, but their hearts are divided.” (Surah al-Hashr, Ch.59: V.15)
7 September 1974 was a day of victory for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat but a great calamity hit Pakistan, and along with it, all other Muslim countries. This was the day when, against the clear commandment of the Holy Prophetsa, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ruled a judgment that 72 are Muslims and one is outside the pale of Islam. Before this verdict was passed, the Third Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmadrh stated in the National Assembly of Pakistan, on 22 July 1974, that:
“In diametric opposition to the above noted pronouncement of the Holy Prophetsa, the Resolution presented by the religious scholars on the side of Opposition seeks to portray seventy-two Muslim sects to be bound for Paradise and points to only one to be Hell-bound. This is clearly contrary to the Hadith of the Holy Prophetsa and amounts to a sacrilege against him.
So therefore, it is ill-becoming of the august National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to deliberate upon, or even put forward for deliberation, this Resolution as it now stands. However, if this resolution is rephrased and purports to determine the identity of that single Muslim sect which will be granted salvation, in the light of the aforesaid Hadith, then such an initiative will be in full accord with the intent of the Hadith of the Holy Prophetsa.” (Mahzarnama, [English translation], p. 8)
The newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt published a statement in an article regarding the decision of the National Assembly which stated:
“In the entire history of Islam, we have never seen such unity among the Muslims. In this unity we have all the ulema, scholars, political leaders and the ‘holy men’ of the various groups who have given their stamp of approval of this decision. With the exception of the Qadiani sect, all the seventy-two sects generally known amongst the Muslims have willingly united in this decision.” (Nawa-i-Waqt, 6 October, 1974)
The Holy Prophetsa said that 72 would be Hell-bound and one would be delivered.