Ahmadiyya: Beliefs, History, and Global Impact

Dec 3


Yusha Sayyid

Yusha Sayyid

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The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a unique and distinct sect within the vast tapestry of Islam. Founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Ahmadiyya movement has grown into a global phenomenon, making its mark on the world with its emphasis on peace, interfaith dialogue, and spiritual growth. But what exactly sets this community apart from the rest of the Islamic world?

In this blog post,Ahmadiyya: Beliefs, History, and Global Impact Articles we will delve into the rich history and core beliefs of the Ahmadiyya faith, examining its unique interpretations of traditional Islamic teachings, organizational structure, global presence, and contributions to interfaith harmony. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and their inspiring journey through the annals of religious history.

Key Takeaways

  • The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 and has grown to encompass millions of adherents worldwide.
  • The faith is based on the Six Articles of Islamic Faith and the Five Pillars, yet distinguished by unique interpretations.
  • It promotes peace, nonviolence, spiritual growth through science/religion intersectionality & interfaith dialogue initiatives globally.

Exploring the Origins of the Ahmadiyya Movement

Illustration of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in 1889 when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad established it, a religious leader in India who Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have received divine revelations indicating that he was the promised Messiah and the awaited Mahdi foretold by the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This movement emerged as a response to the Christian and Arya Samaj missionary activity that was pervasive in 19th-century India, attracting followers who came to be known as Ahmadi Muslims, with each individual being an Ahmadi Muslim.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sought to differentiate the Ahmadiyya movement from other Muslim groups by choosing the name “Muslims of the Amadyah Section”. The term “Ahmadiyya” itself was selected in reference to the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s alternate appellation Amad, signifying “highly praised” and “one who lauds the most”. Today, the Ahmadiyya movement is present in over 200 countries, with millions of adherents worldwide.

Despite its growing global presence, the Ahmadiyya movement remains distinct from other Islamic sects due to its unique beliefs and interpretations of Islamic teachings. This includes the belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the promised Messiah and Mahdi, a belief not shared by mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The Core Tenets of Ahmadiyya Faith

Central to the Ahmadiyya faith are the Six Articles of Islamic Faith and the Five Pillars of Islam, which serve as the foundation for its beliefs and practices. However, the Ahmadiyya faith is distinguished by its unique interpretations of these core tenets, particularly in areas such as prophethood, jihad, and the relationship between science and religion.

The following paragraphs will further elaborate on these distinctive Ahmadiyya beliefs, highlighting the nuances that distinguish this faith from other Islamic sects, contributing to its rich tapestry of spiritual understanding and growth.

The Concept of Prophethood in Ahmadiyya

Central to the Ahmadiyya understanding of prophethood is the belief that although the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the last law-bearing prophet and the “Seal of the Prophets,” new prophets may come after him, provided they adhere to his final law of Islam as outlined in the holy scriptures. This view stands in contrast to mainstream Islam, which holds that Muhammad is the final prophet and that no prophets will follow him.

The Ahmadiyya faith accepts the possibility of new prophets after Muhammad, fostering a progressive understanding of religious truth, while staying deeply rooted in the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This dynamic approach to prophethood allows the Ahmadiyya community to continually adapt and grow in its spiritual journey, embracing the wisdom of past prophets while remaining open to the guidance of future messengers.

The Ahmadiyya Stance on Jihad and Peace

The Ahmadiyya faith is well-known for its emphasis on peace and non-violence, with its motto being “Love for all, hatred for none.” This commitment to peace is reflected in the Ahmadiyya understanding of jihad, which is primarily focused on self-improvement and the peaceful propagation of faith. Jihad is categorized into three distinct divisions: Jihad al-Akbar (Greater Jihad), Jihad al-Kabīr (Great Jihad), and Jihad al-Asghar (Smaller Jihad).

In contrast to some interpretations of Islam that promote violent struggle, the Ahmadiyya community interprets the Qur’anic verses on jihad in a peaceful and non-violent manner, believing that jihad refers to a spiritual struggle to improve oneself and society, rather than a physical or violent struggle. This perspective on jihad underscores the Ahmadiyya community’s commitment to fostering peace, understanding, and compassion in a world that is all too often plagued by violence and strife.

The Intersection of Science and Religion

The Ahmadiyya faith emphasizes the harmony between religion and science, maintaining that there can be no discord between the word of God and the work of God. This belief in the compatibility of science and religion allows the Ahmadiyya community to embrace scientific discoveries without fearing that they may undermine their religious faith.

The Ahmadiyya faith encourages the pursuit of knowledge in the sciences, recognizing that such knowledge is made possible by divine will and blessing. By embracing both scientific inquiry and religious faith, the Ahmadiyya community fosters an environment of intellectual and spiritual growth, allowing its members to explore the wonders of the natural world and the wisdom of the divine without feeling the need to choose between the two.

The Structure of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Photo of Ahmadiyya mosque

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is organized under the guidance of a spiritual caliph who serves as the leader of the community and upholds its religious teachings and principles. The caliph is not designated by any right or election, but primarily through visions, dreams, and spiritual guidance from God. Currently, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is led by its fifth caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

Beyond the spiritual leadership of the caliph, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community gains support from numerous educational and philanthropic organizations, aiding in the spread of Islamic knowledge and the training of missionaries. These institutions play a vital role in the development and growth of the Ahmadiyya community. Some of these organizations include:

  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA)
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association (Lajna Imaillah)
  • Humanity First
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association (Ansarullah)
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (AMSA)

These organizations help to spread the message of peace, love, and spiritual enlightenment across the globe.

The Role of the Caliph

The caliph serves as a spiritual guide for the Ahmadiyya community, upholding and propagating Islamic teachings. The Ahmadiyya caliphate stresses the importance of spirituality and religion. Its purpose is to strengthen and spread Islamic teachings, while also keeping moral values set by Muhammad at a high level worldwide..

Throughout history, the Ahmadiyya caliphate has been led by a series of caliphs who have each contributed to the growth and development of the community in various ways. Some of these contributions include:

  • The establishment of foreign missions
  • The translation of the Quran
  • The implementation of humanitarian projects and initiatives that have benefited countless individuals around the world.

Educational and Charitable Institutions

One of the key educational institutions within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is Jāmi’ah al-Ahmadīyya, an international Islamic seminary with campuses in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. The purpose of Jāmi’ah al-Ahmadīyya is to serve as the primary center of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for Islamic learning and the training of missionaries.

In addition to religious education, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also supports various charitable institutions and initiatives that aim to alleviate poverty, provide access to healthcare, and promote education in underprivileged communities around the world. These humanitarian efforts demonstrate the Ahmadiyya community’s commitment to not only the spiritual development of its members but also to the betterment of society as a whole.

Ahmadiyya Practices: Upholding Islamic Traditions

Illustration of Islamic traditions

In terms of religious practices, Ahmadi Muslims, like Sunni Muslims and other Muslims, adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam, which include:

  • The declaration of faith (Shahada)
  • Prayer (Salat)
  • Charity (Zakat)
  • Fasting (Sawm)
  • Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)

Although the Ahmadiyya faith possesses its unique interpretations of Islamic teachings, Ahmadi Muslims follow these fundamental practices and remain committed to observing them in their daily lives, as muslims believe in staying true to the core principles of Islam, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community believes in upholding these values.

The Ahmadiyya faith places a strong emphasis on:

  • Spiritual growth and development of its adherents
  • Regular prayer
  • Study of the Holy Quran
  • Acts of charity

These practices are seen as a means of deepening the connection to God and fostering a strong sense of community among its members. This focus on spiritual development is a key aspect of the Ahmadiyya faith and serves as a foundation for its unique approach to Islam.

The Global Presence of the Ahmadiyya Community

Since its establishment in the late 19th century, the Ahmadiyya community has seen substantial growth, boasting an estimated 10 to 20 million members worldwide. Ahmadi Muslims can be found in over 200 countries, with significant populations in South Asia, Indonesia, and parts of Africa. This global presence is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Ahmadiyya faith, which has continued to thrive despite facing numerous challenges and instances of persecution.

Though the Ahmadiyya community, including the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, has made substantial strides in spreading its message of peace and spiritual enlightenment around the world, it continues to face challenges and persecution in various countries, particularly in Pakistan where they are officially considered non-Muslims. Despite these challenges, the Ahmadiyya community remains steadfast in its commitment to its unique interpretation of Islam and its mission to promote peace and interfaith harmony throughout the world.

Demographics and Distribution

The distribution of Ahmadi Muslims across various countries is often influenced by the challenges and persecution they face in openly professing their faith. Some countries with significant Ahmadiyya populations include:

  • Pakistan: home to the largest Ahmadiyya population, with around 4 million Ahmadi Muslims residing there.
  • India: the exact number is not available but is estimated to be substantial.
  • Bangladesh: approximately 100,000 Ahmadis.

Persecution has a direct impact on the migration patterns of the Ahmadiyya community, necessitating the seeking of refuge in other countries where they can practice their faith without fear of persecution. This persecution often results in displacement and migration, as Ahmadiyya individuals and families seek safety and protection in countries that offer religious freedom and tolerance.

Challenges and Persecution

The Ahmadiyya community has faced significant persecution in various countries, particularly in Pakistan where they are officially considered non-Muslims. This persecution has taken the form of violence, discrimination, and legal restrictions on their ability to practice their faith openly. Noteworthy occurrences of violence against Ahmadiyya Muslims include the 1953 Lahore riots, the 1974 Anti-Ahmadiyya riots, and the May 2010 Attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore.

Despite the challenges and persecution faced by the Ahmadiyya community, its members continue to persevere in their efforts to promote peace, interfaith dialogue, and understanding among people of different faiths. Their resilience in the face of adversity serves as a testament to the strength of their convictions and their unwavering commitment to their unique interpretation of Islam.

Ahmadiyya Contributions to Interfaith Harmony

The Ahmadiyya faith is recognized for its dedication to endorsing interfaith harmony and understanding among people of diverse faiths. This dedication to fostering peace and compassion is evident in the community’s numerous initiatives and events aimed at breaking down barriers and fostering mutual respect and understanding between various religious groups.

Examples of the Ahmadiyya community’s work in promoting interfaith harmony include:

  • Engaging in interfaith discussions and events
  • Defending Islam through dialogue
  • Building bridges of understanding between different religious communities

By actively engaging in these efforts, the Ahmadiyya community demonstrates its commitment to cultivating a world where people of all faiths can coexist peacefully and understand one another better.

Celebrations and Commemorations

The Ahmadiyya community partakes in several annual events that provide opportunities for religious enlightenment and community growth. Among these celebrations are Jalsa Salana, a gathering initiated by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1891, which has grown into a highly esteemed event for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, attracting thousands of attendees from around the world each year.

Other annual events celebrated by the Ahmadiyya community include:

  • “Life of the Holy Prophet Day”
  • “Promised Messiah Day”
  • “Promised Reformer Day”
  • “Caliphate Day”

These celebrations provide opportunities for Ahmadi Muslims to come together, deepen their understanding of their faith, and strengthen their bonds with one another.

The Distinction of Ahmadi Mosques and Gravestones

Illustration of unique Ahmadi mosque design

Ahmadi mosques are unique in their design and symbolism, reflecting the distinct beliefs of the Ahmadiyya community. These mosques often amalgamate Islamic and British architectural styles, showcasing features like a dome, a bulge on the east wall known as the mihrab, and a special basin for ablution.

The design of Ahmadi mosques seeks to promote:

  • Cultural harmony
  • Religious solidarity
  • Tranquility
  • Benevolence

In addition to their distinct architectural features, Ahmadi mosques are also characterized by their conviction in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah and redeemer, a belief not shared by other Muslim sects.


In summary, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a distinct and vibrant sect within the Islamic faith, with unique beliefs and interpretations of traditional Islamic teachings. Founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the movement has grown into a global community that actively promotes peace, interfaith dialogue, and spiritual growth.

Despite facing challenges and persecution, the Ahmadiyya community remains steadfast in its commitment to its unique interpretation of Islam and its mission to promote peace and interfaith harmony throughout the world. In a time when the need for understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths is greater than ever before, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community serves as a shining example of the power of love, compassion, and spiritual enlightenment to unite hearts and minds across the globe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do Ahmadiyya believe?

Ahmadiyya adherents believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet who was just as legitimate as Muhammad. They additionally consider him to be the Mahdi and promised Messiah, in opposition to the Seal of the Prophets doctrine.

What do Ahmadiyya believe about Jesus?

Ahmadiyya believe that Jesus was not killed on the cross, but rather ascended to God Himself. They state there are 30 verses of the Quran that support this, and believe Jesus undertook a mission to the Lost Tribes of Israel in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Who was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and why is he significant in the Ahmadiyya faith?

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and claimed to have received divine revelations indicating that he was the Messiah and Mahdi foretold by Muhammad. He is highly significant to the Ahmadiyya faith as his teachings form its basis.

How does the Ahmadiyya community view the concept of jihad?

The Ahmadiyya community view jihad as a peaceful, spiritual struggle for self-improvement and the propagation of faith, rather than a physical or violent struggle.

What is the role of the caliph in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community?

The caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a spiritual leader, responsible for upholding and propagating Islamic teachings, as well as guiding the community in their spiritual growth and development.