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Disclaimer: Following article is written from an exclusively theological point of view and in no way suggests unjust persecution of Ahmadi community. Harassment and persecution against any community is wrong and should never be tolerated. People are free to believe and not believe as they want. A Muslim’s job is only to deliver the message truthfully and clearly:
“The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills – let him believe; and whoever wills – let him disbelieve” (Qur’an 18:29).
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong” (Qur’an 2:256).
One of the core, indisputable, and uncompromising beliefs of mainstream Islam is that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the last and final prophet of Allah. There is no one coming after him. He was the last one to be sent to mankind. The revelation has permanently stopped. This is a core principle of our faith and is not up for debate. Any person who claims to be a prophet after Muhammad (pbuh) or believes in a prophet after him can never join the ranks of Muslims according to the consensus of Muslim theologians since the days of the early Muslims. This idea is embodied within the testimony of faith (shahada), which is uttered by every single new convert before entering the religion:
“I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.”
This idea of no prophet coming after Muhammad (pbuh) is not something that Muslim theologians just made up, rather, it has roots in the primary sources of Islamic law: Qur’an and Hadiths. For example, Allah is very explicit in the Qur’an when He says:
“Muhammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And ever is Allah , of all things, Knowing” [Qur’an 33:40].
Pretty much all mainstream Muslim scholars have understood this verse to mean that prophethood ends with Muhammad (pbuh). Similarly, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explicitly made numerous statements, in which he left no room for interpretation, that show that he was indeed the last and final prophet:
“If there was to be a Prophet after me, it would have been Umar bin Al-Khattab” (Tirmidhi).
“The Hour will not be established till there appear about thirty liars, all of whom will be claiming to be the messengers of Allah” (Bukhari).
“I have some names: I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am Al-Mahi, the one by whom Allah wipes out disbelief, I am Al-Hashir, the one whom the people are gathered at his feet, and I am Al-‘Aqib, the one after whom there is no Prophet” (Tirmidhi).
“The children of Israel used to be ruled and guided by prophets: Whenever a prophet died, another would take over his place. There will be no prophet after me, but there will be caliphs who will increase in number” (Bukhari).
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said to his cousin and son in law Ali, “Will you not be pleased that you will be to me like Aaron to Moses? But there will be no prophet after me” (Bukhari).
Even the companions of Muhammad (pbuh) knew this fact. It is reported that when one of the companions was asked about Ibrahim, the infant son of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and he replied:
“He died in his early childhood. Had there been a prophet after Muhammad then his son would have lived, but there is no prophet after him” (Bukhari).
The only prophetic personality that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke about that would come after him was Jesus:
“The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler” (Bukhari).
“Jesus son of Mary will descend at the white minaret to the east of Damascus” (Abu Dawud).
Therefore, whoever believes that there is a prophet after Muhammad (pbuh), cannot be considered a Muslim under mainstream Islam. Such a person is directly contradicting a basic and fundamental tenet of Islam. Being a Muslim is not just about identity. Being Muslim means agreeing with and abiding by the basic tenets of Islam. Just as being vegan means agreeing with and abiding by the laws of veganism. If someone were to eat meat and call himself/herself a vegan, then such a claim would never be accepted by the vegan community because he/she is contradicting the very basic concept and tenet of being vegan: avoiding animal products.
The Ahmadi sect is a religious movement founded in Punjab, British India, near the end of the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). He began his activities as a caller to Islam, and once he began to have followers, he claimed to be a Mujadid (reviver) inspired by Allah. Then he took a further step and claimed to be the awaited Mahdi and the Promised Messiah. Then he claimed to be a Prophet. Therefore, he slowly progressed his claims. His followers believe that new prophets after Muhammad (pbuh) can come but that they must be subordinate to Muhammad (pbuh) and will not be able to exceed him in excellence nor alter his teaching or bring any new law or religion. This is quite strange because during the early phase of his preaching, Mirza Ghlam Ahmad used to say things like:
“I believe in all the items of faith as prescribed by the Sunni School of Islam and I accept everything that is according to the Quran and Hadith. I fully subscribe to the doctrine that Muhammad is the last of all Prophets, and that any claimant to Prophethood after him is an impostor and a Kafir (infidel). It is my belief that the revelations of Prophethood started with Adam and closed with the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)” (Majmuha-Estaharet, P. 230-231; Tableegh-i-Risalat, Vol 2, p. 2).
“I consider that man who rejects the doctrine of Last Prophethood is a disbeliever and outside the pale of Islam” (Tableegh-i-Risalat, Vol 2, Page 44).
“Muhayyuddin Ibnul Arabi wrote that the lawgiving prophethood has ended with Muhammad, peace be on him but non-lawgiving prophethood has not. I believe that doors to all kinds of prophethood have been closed” (Al-Hakam, April 10, 1903).
In 1914 the Ahmadis split into two sects: Qadiani Ahmadis, which consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a prophet after Muhammad (pbuh), and Lahori Ahmadis. The latter categorically reject Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet and only consider him to be a Mujadid and the awaited Mahdi. Some mainstream Muslim scholars have argued that the Lahoris are internally the same in beliefs as Qadianis despite outwardly rejecting Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet. They have used statements made by the founder of the Lahori sect, Muhammad Ali, as proof.
The Ahmadis understand the explicit verse of the Qur’an and hadiths mentioned above to be metaphorical and not literal. They take the above religious textual citations to mean that Muhammad (pbuh) was the last law-bearing prophet. They claim that Allah can send new prophets after Muhammad (pbuh) and send revelations (wahi) to them but they must be subordinate to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), thus, they cannot alter the divine law that was sent down to him. They cite the hadith about the second coming of Jesus mentioned above as evidence for this belief. They state that hadiths about “second coming of Jesus were metaphorical in nature and not literal, and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fulfilled in his person these prophecies and the second advent of Jesus.”
However, mainstream Muslims categorically reject these claims. Language is taken literally unless proven otherwise. If this was not the case, then anyone can take anything in the religious texts to mean anything. Religious texts in Islam are not written in code so that they must be deciphered to find hidden meanings. Rather, Allah and His Messenger were direct and clear about what they were saying. The messages in the Qur’an and hadiths are for the masses and they don’t speak generally in metaphor. Yes, there are some verses of the Qur’an and prophetic statements which are metaphorical but there are clear indications to suggest so, however, the mass amount of both texts is quite literal. This is why in the Qur’an Allah clearly states:
“It is He who has sent this Scripture down to you [Prophet]. Some of its verses are definite in meaning – these are the cornerstone of the Scripture – and others are ambiguous” [Qur’an 3:7].
Interestingly enough, the Lahori sect believes that all the explicit statements made by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad regarding his claims to be a prophet and receiving revelation are only metaphorical and not literal. Of course, the Qadiani sect does not accept this argument from them and understands Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s statements literally.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) literally mentioned Jesus by name as the son of Mary in the context of a second return. He never mentioned Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Also, Jesus was born before Muhammad (pbuh), thus, his second coming does not contradict with explicit texts which close the door of prophethood with Muhammad (pbuh). But a new prophet being born after Muhammad (pbuh) does clearly contradict it. This is why the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned Umar as the one that would have come after him if there was a prophet. Lastly, as many Muslim scholars have pointed out, Jesus will come again as an individual and follower of Muhammad (pbuh) and not as a prophet. This is clearly indicated by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his statement mentioned earlier that Jesus will descend among us as a just ruler. He didn’t say prophet.
There have been many self-proclaimed Mahdis throughout Islamic history and the Muslims didn’t excommunicate them, provided they abstain from heterodoxy, rather, we just said they were deviant. But every person that claimed prophethood after the demise of Muhammad (pbuh), and there were plenty starting within the end of the life of Muhammad (pbuh) like Musaylimah, the mainstream Muslims excommunicated them all. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is no different. Ahmadis contradict the testimony of faith (shahadah). Muhammad (pbuh) was the last and final prophet of Allah. No one is coming after him whether with a new law or subordinate to him. Whoever contradicts this cannot be a Muslim in the view of mainstream Islam. This is no different than someone saying, “I believe that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, but I believe in demigods who are subordinate to Allah.” Such a person will never be acceptable as a Muslim to the mainstream because this person is contradicting the shahadah, a basic tenet. There are other odd beliefs from this movement that are not really in sync with mainstream Islam.
It is important to note that many Ahmadi writings also excommunicate those who do not believe in their false prophet. This is explicitly stated by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself and the religious leaders of the Ahmadi community as recorded in their own writings. This is ironic because today many Ahmadis complain against majority of the Muslim world for excommunicating them and not accepting them as fellow Muslims.
Among those who confronted Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in his lifetime from mainstream Islam was Shaykh Abu’l-Wafa’ Sanahullah Amristar, the leader of Jama’iyyat Ahl al-Hadeeth fi ‘Umoom al-Hind (The All-India Society of Ahl al-Hadeeth). He debated with him and refuted his arguments, revealing his ulterior motives, apostasy, and the deviation of his way. When Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did not come to his senses, Shaykh Abu’l-Wafa’ challenged him to come together and invoke the curse of Allah, such that the one who was lying would die in the lifetime of the one who was telling the truth. Within a month or so Mirza Ghulam Ahmad died, in May 1908. Shaykh Abu’l-Wafa’ remained alive for nearly forty more years and went on condemning Ahmadis during all that time.
For a thorough study of this sect from the perspective of mainstream Muslims, please look into the following:
There is also a good discussion on Reddit’s r/Islam page here.