A person called Xiaahmad asked the following question on this blog:
”Can you please tell us where in Islam this Compulsory Chanda of 1/16 or 1/10 to 1/3 if u have subscribe for Grave for Heavens are mentioned? and that if person does not pay those they are answerable in hell?”
I should begin by saying that it will always be difficult for us to reconcile these types of initiatives when I believe that Almighty Allah communicated to Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (‘alayhi al-salam) and you perhaps do not believe the same. Added to this, is that we will also, no doubt, differ as to the status of Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (‘alayhi al-salam) who I believe to have been the Imam al-Mahdi and Messiah. If these differences are not first resolved, one way or the other, how can we hope to come to any common understanding on subsidiary issues such as al-Wasiyyat, Chunda, Nizam-e-Ahmadiyyat, and the various other issues which are floating around the internet?
Let us first look at the exact nature of al-Wasiyyat as stated by Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (‘alayhi al-salam) who wrote:
” Let no ignorant person think that this graveyard and the arrangements for it fall into the category of Bid‘at [an unwarranted religious innovation]. For this arrangement is in accordance with Divine revelation and there is no element of human involvement in it. And let no one wonder how, by just being buried in this graveyard, one can enter Paradise. The idea behind it all is not that this piece of land will make anyone worthy of Heaven; rather the Word of God means that only those will be buried here who are worthy of Heaven.”
Again, I accept and believe that Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (‘alayhi al-salam) received such communications from God. You most likely do not. This fact alone makes the rest of the discussion redundant to a certain extent. Nevertheless…
From the book al-Wasiyyat, the following principles can be derived:
1. The purpose of ”al-Wasiyyat” is: ”…for the advancement of Islam, dissemination of the Qur’anic knowledge, publishing religious books and for [the expenses of] missionaries of the Jama‘at. It is the promise of God that He will cause the Jama‘at to flourish, so it is expected that abundance of funds will be forthcoming for the propagation of Islam. Every matter pertaining to the proposals about the propagation of Islam, going into the details of which will be premature, will be paid for out of these funds.”
You may find Islam Ahmadiyya completely offensive to your understanding of Islam, but you cannot ignore the fact that it has been consistent and thorough in its endeavour to fulfil this ambition. For example, anyone who has any knowledge of translating a text and then advancing that translation to the point of publication will know how enormous such a task is. So imagine the time and money that was invested into the 160-plus full or partial translations of the Qur’an published by Islam Ahmadiyya;
2. Each person who wishes to enter into this scheme should contribute between 1/10 to 1/3 of his property to Islam Ahmadiyya for the above purpose and he should have also: ”…led a righteous life and abstained from all that is prohibited, and should have not been guilty of Shirk and Bid‘at. He should be a true and sincere Muslim;” and
3. That every: ”…righteous person who owns no property and is unable to render any financial service (to the community) can be buried in this graveyard, provided it is established that he had dedicated his life to serve the Faith and was a righteous person.”
(The full text of the Will which includes the above quotations can be found here)
I find nothing objectionable about the above scheme, it does not appear to be at all in opposition to the teachings of Islam. If anybody has a doctrinal issue with al-Wasiyyat, then they are welcome to mention that point in the comments section.
Let us now turn to the point of the whole book, as understand by me. In it, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (‘alayhi al-salam) appears to say that if a person lives a righteous life, and makes a consistent financial sacrifice throughout his life, he will be rewarded with Heaven. Furthermore, that the scheme of al-Wasiyyat will facilitate this process. I am failing to see how this contention is problematic. Did Almighty Allah not clearly state in the Holy Qur’an:
”Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise)” (Q.9:111)
Niether do I find any difficulty in conversely believing that if a person: (a) does not live a righteous life, (b) does not sacrifice handsomely in the way of Almighty Allah, and (c) ignores the guidance of the Imam al-Mahdi, who the Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) instructed all mankind to offer their allegiance to, he will not be looked upon favorably in the life to come? Am I missing something, or is this not common sense? It is also interesting to note that the portion of the book ”al-Wasiyyat” which is dedicated to monetary contributions is tiny. The primary focus of the book is on explaining how righteousness can be achieved through ”tazkiyyat al-nafs” (purification of the soul).
The other issue mentioned was regarding Chanda. If someone pronounces the ”Shahadah” then he is a Muslim. If he believes that Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (‘alayhi al-salam) was the Imam al-Mahdi he must offer his bay’ah, as this is an instruction of the Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), after which he becomes an Ahmadi Muslim (i.e., A Muslim who has accepted the Imam of the age). As I understand it, you then have two things which, although being closely related, are quite distinct from one another (this distinction is important), namely: (1) Being an Ahmadi Muslim, and (2) Being an Ahmadi Muslim who is a member of Nizam-e-Ahmadiyyat. The Nizam is a system designed for the propagation of Islam, the removal of ignorance, and cultivating righteousness within Muslims through various activities such as educational classes, religious and social events, sports events and various other events (Anyone who is an Ahmadi knows about all these initiatives – in my local Jama’at, for example, we hold daily classes for the boys and girls and a couple of classes a week for adults in tajwid al-Qur’an etc., and all in our Mosque). Again, if someone does not wish to be a part of the Nizam, or is removed from the Nizam for whatever reason, then this in no way impacts whether or not they are a [Ahmadi] Muslim. Here is a very important point regarding Zakat and chanda. Zakat is a payment which Almighty Allah has made a necessary condition of a Muslims Iman (faith) along with Salat, Hajj, etc.. Chanda is a payment which, only if you can afford it, is a condition of an Ahmadis membership of the official Nizam. To not pay it has no bearing on a person being a [Ahmadi] Muslim. That is proved by the fact that anyone who is not a member of the Nizam is free to attend Salat, Eid prayers, Jumu’ah prayers and, most importantly, remains Ahmadi unless he or she says otherwise. Their belief in Almighty Allah and bay’ah to the Imam al-Mahdi is a matter between them and God alone.
The above mentioned Jama’at initiatives are not free of charge and so cost something. If an Ahmadi wishes for his family to benefit from such initiatives (I do), then there is a necessary contribution that is needed for meeting those costs. If someone cannot afford to pay anything, they simply write to the head of the Community (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz) to communicate this and they can then pay whatever is within their means (e.g., 50 pence or nothing if they have nothing).
What many do not know is that taxes and levies are not something new to Islam. In addition to Zakat, which is Fard (compulsory for a Muslim), there have long existed various taxes and funds which such as:
- ‘Ushur – Import and Export duty
- Khiraj – Land Tax
- Sadqah – Unfixed charitable contribution
- Jizya – Tax levied on dhimmis
- Fay’ – spoils divided between those not participating in wars
- Khums – Division of war spoils amongst soldiers
- Dara’ib – Variable Social welfare Tax
- Al-Fadilah – Income raised from Government owned natural resources
- Waqf – Trust money held by the Government for the advancement of social and religios initiatives and institutions (i.e. building of Mosques)
If anyone takes issue with me saying that mandatory state / community levies are nothing new, then let me point him towards the following non-Ahmadi books:
- Taxation in Islam by Aharon Shemesh
- Charity in Islamic Societies by Amy Singer
- Poverty and Charity in Middle Eastern Contexts by Michael Bonner
- Constructing Ottoman Benfificence: an imperial soup kitchen in Jerusalem by Amy Singer
- Muslim Conduct of State by Ibn Ruzbihan
(There are so many classical texts and modern commentaries on this subject – so many. It seems that it is only our friends across at the non-Ahmadi sites that have not come across this. This is surprising, considering that just about every Faqih (jurist) in history, across all Schools and sects, has written about this.)
These were taxes implemented over hundreds of years, some of which were obligatory and some were voluntary. These were payments necessary for the running of Islamic states and communities. In the Ahmadi context, how can Ahmadis expect the Jama’at to fund the following without the financial commitment of its members:
- Mosques (millions and millions of pounds across the world, I am told by a good friend that there are in the region of 200 Mosques and Salat centres in Nigeria alone)
- Maintenance (every Mosque needs heat, water, electricity, etc.)
- Schools, Colleges, Pharmacies, Hospitals (countless across the third world which offer education to all for free or lower than the cheapest similar organisation in the same country)
- The publications of books, videos and other literature so that we do not become an uneducated people (The Jama’at sells hardbound thick books for four or five pounds. Pick up a book of similar quality from Routledge, Palgrave or Ashgate and see how much a book of similar quality is sold)
- The Publication of Qur’ans and literature which are distributed to non-Muslims so that they may understand the true teachings of Islam and, God Willing accept Islam, or at least develop a more balanced opinion of Islam (we are not all terrorists!)
- Employ Missionaries across the world and fund their activities (Many Ahmadi Muslims would not even be Muslim today, but for the blessings of missionary work. Think also about how many of us learned how to read the Qur’an or understand Islam due to classes held by missionaries)
- Employ staff, such as security guards, cleaners, administrators and accountants who all maintain the properties, physical well being and financial trusts of the Jama’at.
- Running MTA which has been, and continues to be, of immense benefit to the world; particularly in those countries where Ahmadis have no right to even meet. This is not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have accepted Islam as a result of watching MTA, Alhamdulillah.
This is a drop in the ocean of the things that chanda and other payments support. Islam is a practical religion and allows for practical solutions to our needs as individuals and a community. If someone has been blessed with sufficient money and believes in the above noble expenditures, then why on earth would he / she take issue with contributing a regular amount to support it. This was the way that Muslims behaved in the past and is absolutely nothing new. Would we rather the Jama’at send people each week with begging bowls, knocking from door to door?
Finally, let me conclude with the verse:
”And what aileth you that ye spend not in the way of Allah when unto Allah belongeth the inheritance of the heavens and the earth?” (Q.57:10)
For me the issue is no issue at all. It is just money which we cannot take with us to the next world. Firstly, pray that money never necomes a fitnah upon us and our loved ones. And then the best thing to do with any ”risq” we are blessed with is to spend it in this life for the sake of Almighty Allah and for those causes we believe will please Almighty Allah. Unlike our physical capital, the blessings we receive from spending in the way of Almighty Allah WILL accompany us into the next world. If someone does not feel that ”Chanda” / ”al-Wasiyyat” is the way for them to go, then I wish them well in whatever else it is they choose to spend their money on. As far as I am concerned, and I can only speak for myself, I am in no way ”brainwashed”, but just an ordinary Muslim, no better than any other, contributing towards a system which I believe in and have witnessed the fruits of.
And Almighty Allah knows best.
My apologies to readers who do not understand Urdu.