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Prophethood and communities of faith in the colony

In 1889, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad through his paternal grandmothers and from noble ancestors of Persian origin, founded the Jama'at Ahmadiyya (Dard 2008).6 As a young man, Ghulam Ahmad had witnessed the end of the Mughal empire in India.7 Bhadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, had suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the British in 1857 and had been sent into exile the following year. Many Indian Muslims at the time experienced these events as disempowerment, and as both consequence and evidence of‘Muslim decline'. As Sevea (2012:4) notes:

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries . . . proved to be a ‘time of great ferment in the history of Muslim India’; one in which the perceived challenges to Islamic institutions, practices and traditions were more urgent and the responses more varied.

These responses included ‘extensive adoption of print technology’ and ‘the emergence of new Muslim educational institutions - both religious and secular’ but also ‘the bourgeoning of Muslim movements that competed in the public arena to provide the “true” Islamic perspective on a host of socio-political issues’. Although Ghulam Ahmad’s family were Muslim Punjabi landholders who claimed Mughal descent and supported the British - for which they were rewarded - it is impossible to see his discovery of his messianic calling and the founding of Ahmadiyya Islam as anything but a response to the cultural and political crisis experienced by Indian Muslims in the aftermath of the end of Mughal rule.

Seven years earlier, in 1882, Ghulam Ahmad had ‘announced that he had received a divine command that he was to be a mujaddid (renewer of the faith)’ (Jones 2008:116). ‘The formal foundations for the Ahmadiyya as a distinct religious community were laid in 1888, when Ghulam Ahmad published an ishti-har (literally, ‘advertisement’) declaring himself the renewer of the age’ (Sevea 2012:32). But it was on 12 January 1889, the day on which his son was born, that

Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed the conditions under which he would grant initiation through the Sufi institution of bai ‘at to his followers.8 In the following years he published texts in which he set out his claim to be both the promised messiah (masih mau’ud) and also the mahdi (Jones 2008:116).

While this book does not deal in any detail with the theological underpinnings of Ahmadiyya Islam, it would be impossible fully to understand the history and politics of Ahmadiyyat and the Ahmadis in the subcontinent and in diaspora without some knowledge of Ghulam Ahmad’s claims to prophethood. To put these claims in context, I draw on the exemplary work of Yohanan Friedmann (1989), who sets the prophetic claims of Ghulam Ahmad in the context of Ahmad’s biography, the medieval theological background to his claims, and in particular the Sufi and Shi’a understandings of prophecy within Islam.9

A key aspect of Ahmad's claims was that while Muhammad was the last of the law-bearing or legislative prophets, prophecy itself did not cease with his death. Rather, prophets could continue to be sent, as they had always been, to the peoples of the world, and this included the people of India (Friedmann 1989:122-123). Thus it was possible for Ghulam Ahmad to claim not only that India had been granted prophets such as the Hindu god Krishna in the past, but that he was himself ‘from the viewpoint of the spiritual essence’ Krishna in his own day (Friedmann 1989:124). This was, in form, the same as Ahmad’s claim also to resemble Jesus as both he and Jesus were sent to complete prophetic chains - Jesus as the last prophet of the Jews and Ahmad for Muslims (Friedmann 1989:120-121).

Not all prophets and prophetic experiences, however, are equal. One key difference concerns the manner by which the prophet comes to his vocation. Some are considered independent prophets who received their vocation directly from Allah, while others achieve prophethood by following closely a prophetic predecessor. Another difference between prophets, as briefly mentioned earlier in relation to Muhammad, is that only independent prophets are entrusted with founding new communities by bringing divine laws to their people (Friedmann 1989:125). The prophetic charge of those who closely follow a prophetic predecessor is ‘shadowy’ or a ‘reflection’ (zilli) and constitutes a ‘manifestation’ (buruz) of the prophet who serves as the model for prophethood (Friedmann 1989:124). These latter prophets have great power as they are able to gift their derived, ‘shadowy" or ‘reflective’ prophecy to their followers. This is the kind of non law-bearing prophet Ghulam Ahmad considered himself to be (Friedman 1989:132). For Ahmad, all Muslim prophets after Muhammad can only be non law-bearing because they follow him faithfully and thus they owe their prophethood to him (Friedmann 1989:127). The continuation of prophecy after the death of Muhammad was proof, for Ahmad, that Islam was a living faith and that Muslims had not been abandoned by Allah.

One significant aspect of this view of prophethood and prophecy in Islam required that Ghulam Ahmad reinterpret the contemporary orthodox meaning of Muhammad as ‘seal of the prophets’, which was taken to mean ‘last of the prophets’. The means by which Ahmad did this, as Friedmann shows, was in part to accept that Muhammad was indeed the last of the legislative prophets and that after him no new divine laws were to come. In part, it was also to suggest that while the prophet had no biological sons, he was nonetheless the father of spiritual

Sameness and difference 7 sons, men who would follow his example (Friedmann 1989:129-130). Ahmad accepted some early and no longer orthodox interpretations of the meaning of ‘seal of the prophet’ and rejected, following established Muslim precedent, that anything that is ‘last’ could also be best (Friedmann 1989:5211). Instead, Ahmad took the term ‘seal’ to mean that Muhammad had been confirmed as ‘owner of the seal' - in other words, that he had been granted divine revelations and given the seal of the prophets, not that prophecy would end with him (Friedmann 1989:130). Ahmadis, for their part, do not consider that Ahmad reinterpreted the meaning of ‘seal of the prophets’, thus his perspective on the matter was in keeping with Islamic understandings of the phrase.

Yet Ghulam Ahmad did not begin his prophetic career by claiming that he was a shadowy or reflective prophet but rather by making a lesser claim, in 1882, that he was the mujaddid, or renewer of the faith, for the fourteenth century ah and tasked with reviving Islam in a period when Muslims no longer followed an Islamic way of life. As mujaddid, Ahmad’s vocation was to save Indian Muslims from the proselytizing of Christian missionaries and bring them back to Islam. Ahmad’s claim to be mujaddid was complicated, however, by his understanding that mujaddidun were ‘prophet-like people’, a position that may have been influenced by the work of the Indian Muslim Sufi Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi on tajdid (renewal of Islam) and by that of some Sufis who considered mujaddidun to possess subsidiary prophetic perfections. Thus by ascribing some prophetic qualities to an otherwise non-deviant claim to mujaddid status which might not, however, have been accepted by others, Ahmad deviated from orthodox understandings of the mujaddid (Friedmann 1989:105-129).

Ahmad, however, soon went beyond his claim to be a mujaddid by additionally claiming to be a muhaddath (one spoken to by Allah or an angel). A muhaddath receives divine messages, and once more Ahmad’s understanding of this was informed by Sufi tradition (Friedmann 1989:110). In Sufi literature and some Shi‘a traditions, the boundary between those who are muhaddath and the prophets may become somewhat blurred, with Sufi authors such as al-Hakim al-Tirmi-dhi writing about muhaddath of different ranks as possessing different degrees of prophethood. For Ibn al-‘Arabi, one of the sources of inspiration for Ghulam Ahmad’s thought, the muhaddath differs from a prophet because he brings no new divine laws. Similarly, Sirhindi considered there to be an affinity between the muhaddath and the prophet (Friedmann 1989:86-92). Sunni thinkers, for their part, denied or diminished the notion of prophetic qualities and affinity between the muhaddath and the prophet. For some Sunni thinkers, for example, angels speak to muhaddath in the heart, meaning that unlike the prophet they do not see the angel and thus, while muhaddath may speak the truth, they are not prophets.

Over time, Ghulam Ahmad’s claims to prophethood came to include his belief that Allah spoke to him as he had done to the prophets in the past. This honour was given to him because he so closely and completely followed Muhammad that in effect it culminated in his ‘self-annihilation’. As Friedmann (1989:134) states:

Seen from a different vantage point, it constitutes the second coming of Muhammad, which is said to have been predicted in Sura 62:3: ‘And othersfrom among them who have not yet joined them’. . . . This being the case, his [Ghulam Ahmad’s] prophethood should arouse no envy: it emerges not from Ghulam Ahmad’s own self but rather from the prophetic fountain of Muhammad. And being so totally dependent on the spirituality of Muhammad, it does not interfere with the Prophet’s status as khatam-al-nabiyyin [seal of the prophets].

The remaining claims to prophethood by Ghulam Ahmad, that he was both mahdi (rightly guided one) and masih (messiah), may also have arisen, in part, from his desire to counter the missionizing of Christians in India. In this context Ahmad’s denial of Jesus’s death on the cross, his resurrection and his return at the end of days were designed to undermine the Christian missionary argument that the Christian god was alive in heaven and waiting to return, unlike the Muslim prophet who, as a mortal man, was dead and gone. By reinterpreting Muslim traditions about Jesus, Ahmad was able to maintain that the second coming of Jesus, the messiah of the latter days, should not be understood as a literal return of Jesus but rather a return in the form of a person who resembled Jesus. That person was Ghulam Ahmad, and his role was revealed to him by Allah. Ghulam Ahmad thus believed that he came to share ‘absolute affinity with Jesus’ (Friedmann 1989:111-117).

From this brief outline of Ghulam Ahmad’s revelations about his prophetic status, it should be clear that it took several years for him to proclaim the prophetic vision of his role to its fullest extent. His revelations and prophetic claims became greater and more wide-ranging with the passage of time and the growth in the number of his followers. It should also be clear that while Ghulam Ahmad’s religious mission was informed by the colonial and religious context in which he lived, his revelations and reinterpretations were derived from his reading of Sufi, Shi‘a and Sunni religious thinkers. While informed by his religious study, the complex and nuanced claims made by Ahmad could not but be controversial.

Initially, Ghulam Ahmad attracted followers from the literate classes in the region and soon thereafter others who came from the less educated and more rural areas of the Punjab, leading to what Jones describes as a ‘bipolar’ pattern of recruitment to the new faith.10 All, however socially heterogeneous, were seeking a return to the ‘true’ fundamentals of the faith, and in the religiously charged and turbulent years at the end of the nineteenth century they found, in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a charismatic leader who inspired a devotion which was, in Weber’s words, ‘born of distress and enthusiasm' (Gerth and Mills 1946:249).11

Many of the spiritual claims made by Ghulam Ahmad were not in themselves unique. Others had made similar claims and these were made drawing on recognized Muslim traditions, including Shi'a and Sufi ones.12 The Punjab itself was, and is, a place where Sufi Islam is widespread and where Sufi pirs (saints) established themselves and attracted devotees over the centuries. Indeed, under Mughal rule in India close interactions between Sufis and the Mughal emperors were far from unknown.13 Royal lineage and religious authority were thus often

Sameness and difference 9 intermingled, adding a culturally established support to Ghulam Ahmad’s claims as the somewhat impoverished scion of noble ancestry and divinely inspired pious Muslim renewer of the faith.14 This was not a position that was wholly in the realm of doctrinal Islam but rather what Moin, describing the case for the Mughal and Safavid rulers, notes was one where:

what may appear as ‘heresy’ from a doctrinal point of view was, in many cases, a ritual engagement with popular forms of saintliness and embodied forms of sacrality that were broadly and intuitively accepted by much of the populace as morally valid and spiritually potent.


And Friedmann (1989:142-146), who has demonstrated the influence of Sufi thought of Ibn al-Arabi in Ghulam Ahmad’s writings, concludes that:

the essential elements of Ghulam Ahmad’s prophetology were not unknown among medieval Sufi thinkers. There is no doubt that medieval Sufi thought is an important source of inspiration for the Ahmadi movement and that the prophetology of Ghulam Ahmad is not substantially different from that of [these earlier] Sufi thinkers.

Indeed, many of the Ahmadis I have spent time with over the years consider their faith and some of their religious practices to be derived at least in part from, and oriented towards, South Asian Sufi forms of Islam.15

Not only were many of Ghulam Ahmad's individual spiritual claims ones that had a long history in Islam and in India, they were also, together with his prolific writing on Islam, ones that for a time at least were given serious attention and carefully evaluated by members of the intellectual elites of Muslim South Asia. Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), poet and activist intellectual, was one such man who ‘initially expressed optimism about the aims of the movement’ (Sevea 2012:121), going so far as to describe Ghulam Ahmad, in 1900, as ‘probably the profoundest theologian among modern Indian Muhammadans’ (Iqbal 1900:239). It is likely that Iqbal’s father and his brother were Ahmadis and that he may himself have joined and remained active in the movement until 1913.16 This may explain his initially sympathetic understanding of the movement. But Iqbal later came to fear that Ahmadi Islam ‘would split the unity of Islam and that it presented a theology which sought to reconcile Muslims with disempowerment’ (Sevea 2012:121).17 In 1934, in his article on ‘Qadianis and Orthodox Muslims’, Iqbal reverted to the issue of prophethood as the source of this threat:

Any religious society historically arising from the bosom of Islam, which claims a new prophethood for its basis, and declares all Muslims who do not recognise the truth of its alleged revelation as Kafirs, must, therefore, be regarded by every Muslim as a serious danger to the solidarity of Islam. Thismust necessarily be so; since the integrity of Muslim society is secured by the Idea of the Finality of Prophethood alone.

(in Shamloo ed. 1944:94)18

Iqbal did not, however:

call for the proscription or persecution of the Ahmadiyya; he called for them to be recognized as a separate religious community beyond the fold of Islam. As he felt that the Ahmadis would never voluntarily declare themselves to be a separate religious community, he looked to the [British] government to classify them officially as such. He pointed to the example of the Sikhs, who were classified as a separate religious community from the Hindus in the early twentieth century, as a precedent that should be applied to the Ahmadiyya.

(Sevea 2012:171)

Iqbal recognized in Ahmadiyyat ‘not a sudden manifestation of a new religious order but one of the outcomes . . . [of] the decline of Islam in India’ (Lavan 1974:172).

Iqbal’s reflection on and shifting views of Ahmadi Islam indicate the ways in which issues of theology have helped shaped debates about Islam, nationalism and modernity, and the ways in which the presence of religious minorities has troubled the efforts of the Muslims of the subcontinent to fashion a unified community of faith. Iqbal’s ideas were later taken up and developed by the younger and more conservative Maududi, the founder of the Jama’at-i-Islami (1941), in his own writings and political campaign to bring about an Islamic state in Pakistan (Ahmad, I. 2010). And a key part of Maududi’s vision necessitated a definition of Islam and of Muslims that had no place for divinely inspired charismatic leaders who could amass large followings and hence potentially challenge his more austere vision of the faith in which there was little space to accommodate diverse and differing perspectives (Raja 2010:135; Sevea 2012:57-60,203-204).19 Maududi's attacks on the Ahmadis and his efforts to contain them were, of course, to a large extent continuations of the anxieties about and hostility towards the Ahmadis expressed by orthodox Muslims in colonial India. We cannot properly understand the fate of the Ahmadis in Pakistan unless we have some sense of the degree to which the new Muslim nation state inherited and reshaped the religious conflicts of its own colonial origins. Here, the struggles between the Ahmadis and the Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam-Hind (henceforth the Ahrar), a Deobandi Sunni association founded in 1929,20 how the Ahrar and the Ahmadis engaged with each other in colonial India, how they competed in political and social arenas and, in the Punjab in the early decades of the twentieth century, how they both constituted distinct but viable responses to British colonialism in the wake of the disruptions and weakened position of Muslims in India after 1857, can serve as an illustration.

Both Ahmadis and the Alirar leaders could, each in their way, be described as forging ‘a synthesis between the divergent forces of modernity and tradition’ (Awan 2010:vii). Many were attracted to the Sunni Deobandi Muslim identity

Sameness and difference 11 offered by the Alirar for the same reasons that many others converted to Ahmadi Islam: both offered prospects of faith and collective strength for the future at a time when Islam was felt to be in retreat in the subcontinent, and when, post 1857, Muslims were marginalized and excluded from positions of responsibility in the official hierarchies of state. There were, however, clear differences, both religious and political, between the Alirar and the Ahmadis. While the more Sufi-oriented groups in the Punjab were, in broad terms, supportive of the idea of Pakistan, those inclined to a more Deobandi religious outlook were not. The Ahmadis, with a leadership that was rooted in landownership and hence a more elite social position, initially favoured continued British rule but came eventually to support the idea of an independent Muslim state. The Alirar, whose leadership was drawn from Punjabi activists, often from ‘humble economic backgrounds’ who are inspired by socialist ideals and had been involved in movements such as the Khilafat Movement,21 sought complete independence from the British but were, nevertheless opposed to the idea of an independent Pakistan. The membership of the Alirar consisted of the ‘educated lower and middle classes’ including shopkeepers and artisans as well as Muslim youth inspired by the Khilafat Movement. Other significant sources of membership for the Ahrar included religious scholars, ‘ulama, and workers belonging to the Deobandi school of thought’ (Awan 2009:242; Awan 2010:14-18; Kamran 2013:471).22

Political and faith differences rooted in class distinctions combined to pit Ahrar against Ahmadi and the distrust between the two came into the open over the Kashmir issue in the early 1930s. The Muslims in Kashmir were ruled by a Hindu prince, and although a significant numerical majority in the state, they were subjected to discrimination, deprivation and human rights abuses (Copland 1981:233-235; Kamran 2013:472; Chawla 2011; Shahid 2018a). Many had migrated to the Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province seeking a better life for themselves and their families. In response to the plight of the Muslims in Kashmir, some Muslims in India came together in 1931 to form the All-India Kashmir Committee (AIKC) to try to seek redress for Kashmiri Muslims. The second Ahmadi Khalifa, Bashir-ud Din Muhammad Ahmad, was the AIKC’s president and another Ahmadi, Abdul Rahim Dard, its secretary. The central office of the AIKC was in Qadian and the Ahmadis also funded the AIKC campaign (Copland 1981:237; Kamran 2013:473).

The Ahrar, for their part, were suspicious of the Ahmadi interest in Kashmir, arguing that the Ahmadis were collaborators with the British and that they could not trust the Ahmadi president of the AIKC on these grounds (Chawla 2011:92). They also considered that the Ahmadis were interested in Kashmir because they believed that Jesus had lived and died there and that they had located his final resting place in Srinagar (Copland 1981:236).23 The Ahrar agitated against the Ahmadis in the Punjab to have the Ahmadi Khalifa removed from his position as President of the AIKC and argued that they should also be expelled from the ‘fold of Islam as was demanded by the ulama of Ludhiana in 1925, whose fatwa had declared Ghulam Ahmad to be a kafir (infidel)' (Awan 2010:39). In 1931, at the Round Table Conferences, another Ahmadi, Sir Zafrulla Khan, was one of thedelegates who discussed the Kashmir issue with the secretary of state for India. Following the Round Table Conference, the secretary of state for India wrote to the president of the AIKC to inform him of his correspondence with the ruling Prince of Kashmir and of the reforms that were to be introduced. The Ahrar were resentful of the Ahmadi control of the AIKC as the Kashmir issue was viewed as one that could be used to promote their own party (Copland 1981:238). They were also aggrieved by the failure of an Ahrar delegation which had gone to Kashmir but had not received the cooperation of the Kashmiri leaders. Part of the failure of the Ahrar delegation was down to the Ahmadi secretary of the AIKC who, while publicly appealing to Muslims to help the Ahrar, privately encouraged Ahmadi leaders in Kashmir not to cooperate with them (Chawla 2011:95; Awan 2010:47).

Accordingly, the Ahrar began to hold parallel public meetings to those of the AIKC and agitated for Iqbal, who was on the AIKC committee, to resign. He did so in mid-1933. By May 1933 the Ahrar agitation had become so divisive that Bashir-ud Din Muhammad Ahmad was left with little option but to resign as president of the AIKC. The post of president of the AIKC was, following an election, taken by Iqbal and the Ahrar, busied by other matters, ceased to be as interested in the AIKC. Neither the Ahrar nor the Ahmadis succeeded in their political or religious goals in Kashmir, and both retreated from the fray with little to show for their efforts. The Ahrar's political ambitions had been thwarted (Copland 1981:253). The Ahmadis for their part ended by promising that they would not ‘do any propaganda for Ahmadiyyat among the Muslims [of Kashmir] for two years, nor ... hold any religious discussions with other Muslims’ (Copland 1981:249).

The Ahrar had been so concerned that the Ahmadis would use their position in the AIKC to reach the Muslim masses and to encourage the latter to adopt a pro-British position that they used their meetings in the Punjab on behalf of the Muslims of Kashmir to launch anti-Ahmadi attacks (Kamran 2013:468; Awan 2010:43).24 They also organized a Tabligh conference at Qadian, which attracted some 12,000 people and so set the precedent for the Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nabuwat (organization for the finality of prophethood, henceforth Khatm-e-Nabuwat) conferences that continue to this day at Rabwah (Awan 2010:83; Copland 1981:254; Sayeed 2017). Already in 1933 the Ahrar were calling for the expulsion of Ahmadis from schools, colleges and Muslim institutions as well as for a boycott to prevent Ahmadis getting seats in ‘central and provincial assemblies, municipal committees and other local boards’. A few years later, in 1936, they were demanding that Ahmadis be expelled from the All India Muslim League (Awan 2010:81, 110). They also, provocatively, sought to raise funds to pay for land in Qadian on which to build a mosque (Awan 2010:84). These are tactics that were later taken up in Pakistan with respect to land in and around Rabwah and have also been used by Khatm-e-Nabuwat during election campaigns in England to prevent the election of Ahmadi candidates (Sayeed 2017; Dawn 9 March 2018; Balzani 2015).25

Over time the Ahrar became increasingly sectarian and communalist but remained opposed to the idea of Pakistan, even going so far as to pass an antiPakistan resolution at a Youth Conference in 1940. It softened its position in the

Sameness and difference 13 following years but still insisted that if there were to be a Pakistan it would have to be one that enforced Qur’anic laws, unified Muslims and excluded Ahmadis (Kamran 2013:477-478; Awan 2010:127-130). As late as 1946 the Alirar stood in the elections on a platform which remained anti-Pakistan and as expected, antiAhmadi. On this occasion the Ahrar were routed and failed to gain any seats in either Punjab or Bengal (Awan 2010:132-133). By 1947, then, the Ahrar had lost political support in elections and were marginalized and rendered irrelevant when partition became inevitable?6

In other respects, however, the Ahmadis and the Ahrar were both of their time and had similar modernizing outlooks and approaches to some social matters. They both, for example, permitted and encouraged the involvement of women in their organizations. Both set up women’s sections and encouraged women to be active members while continuing to require women to remain segregated, observe parda (veiling, seclusion) and to work within the limits of what was considered to be respectable. Women raised funds for the Ahrar and were even occasionally nominated for elections. Both organizations also encouraged girls and women to receive formal education in schools and colleges as long as this did not conflict with Islamic tradition (Awan 2010:60,74-75,153). In relation to the wider population, both Ahmadis and Ahr ar also engaged in emergency relief charity work which helped people in times of need. The Ahrar, for example, provided much needed assistance following the Quetta earthquake in 1935, and at partition in 1947, irrespective of faith (Awan 2010:75, 135-136). Such charity work continues to be a core aspect of Ahmadiyya Islam today and is often directed through their charity Humanity First?7 And both Ahmadi and Ahrar appealed to followers who were seeking guidance in complex times to their questions about faith, the social order and politics. Both the Ahrar and Ahmadis provided answers, rooted in traditional forms of oratory and based on Islam, to the vexing issues of the times in organizations that could offer order, support and a space in which their members could feel they were working towards and contributing to shaping their own futures. Both Ahmadi and Ahrar drew on traditional forms of knowledge and organization while also developing and championing new technologies such as print media, and encouraging the uptake of new opportunities such as Western formal education. Ultimately, the decision about whether to support the Ahrar or join the Ahmadis may have come down, for many, to a combination of class position, a preference for a Sufi-oriented or Deobandi Islam, political stance on the British in India, and a host of connections with individuals and groups that mattered locally in the Punjab. In short, while very different in some key respects, it may be precisely because they were, in effect, competing for support from overlapping constituencies and grappling with the same concerns, as Muslims dealing with marginalization and disempowerment, that the hostilities between the Ahmadi and Ahrar were so pronounced. And these hostilities, played out in colonial India as they competed against each other for victory over the Kashmir issue, continued and were modified to meet changing political contexts resulting in the difficulties faced by the Ahmadis in post-partition Pakistan.

Until partition then the Ahmadis remained just one, albeit rather active, minority within a minority in British India, as a Muslim sect at odds with other Muslims in a majority Hindu nation. It is fair to say that when Ghulam Ahmad died in 1908 he left a numerically small, deeply committed and socially heterogeneous sect of followers who found in him a divinely inspired charismatic leader, while his Muslim detractors considered him divisive, misguided and an apologist for colonial rule.28 But it is also the case that Ahmad's religious claims, formulated in reaction to the issues of his day and derived from Islamic texts and locally accepted religious practices, became Ahmadiyya Islam. Individually most of his claims can be shown to have a history shared with other South Asian Muslims and so in that sense to be "the same’, even when those who shared some of the same ideas as Ahmad’s may have reached them by very different means or used them to different ends. When each of these claims is combined into Ahmadiyya Islam, the result is a new perspective on Islam suited to the needs of the age in which it was developed. Had this been where Ahmadiyya Islam ended, as is so often the case with charismatic movements that cease soon after the death of their founder, then Ahmadiyya Islam would be no more than an interesting historical case study of one among many religious reform movements which emerged in reaction to colonialism. The reason why the Ahmadis have continued into the present as a Muslim sect, playing a not always willing part in the way the nation state of Pakistan has developed, and have become a focus for much study and interest in the years since the death of their founder, has much to do with how Ahmadiyya Islam has been constructed and viewed by those who reject it as much as by those who support it, and what it has come to stand for in Pakistan. It also has to do with the active proselyting missions of the Ahmadis which centred on the West, initially primarily in the UK and the US, and with the routinization of charisma that transformed Ahmadiyya Islam into a global hierarchical religious institution of a type unknown in Sunni Islam,29 established by their second khalifa and eldest son of Ghulam Ahmad, Mahmud Ahmad.

It is as well to remember that despite the current dogma that Ahmadis are heretics and outside the fold of Islam and have always been considered so, this position was not so self-evidently true to all Muslims during Ghulam Ahmad’s lifetime, nor for some years following. To give just one example. Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia accepted an invitation from the Ahmadis in the 1920s to be their guest of honour and to open their new purpose-built mosque in London. On this occasion he travelled to England but withdrew from the opening of the mosque, sending his apologies via telegram, at the veiy last minute (Basit 2012; Noakes 2018:34). By the 1970s the situation had so changed that the Saudis were calling ‘for the excommunication of the Ahmadis and began denying them Haj visas’ (Jalal 2014:203). The change in how Ahmadis were perceived and treated, though some had always considered them unorthodox, has much to do with how the world changed around them from the end of colonialism in South Asia in the 1940s to the rise of global Islam several decades later.30

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