[THIS ARTICLE IS WRITTEN BY NON-AHMADI MUSLIMS AND TAKEN FROM ISLAM ONLINE. IT HAS BEEN POSTED IN ORDER TO GENERATE DISCUSSION WHICH DISPELS THE WHOLLY FALSE NOTIONS CONTAINED WITHIN IT. THE COMMENTS BENEATH THE ARTICLE ARE AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT]
In the face of concerted accusations of being an advocate of disbelief, the only solace for Nigeria’s Ahmadiyya Movement lies in the pride it gives itself as the architect of the intellectual awakening of Nigerian Muslims.
The name Ahmadiyya evolved from Ahmad—the founder’s appellation. Incidentally, it is also the Prophet’s name, and Ahmadis claim that it denotes incessant veneration of Allah, which would prevail during the reign of the promised Messiah whom they believe, has come in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad. The founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad declared in 1882 that Allah had commissioned him as a Messiah, Reformer and the Imam Mahdi of the latter days, and had revealed a scripture to him. Subsequent to this, the movement was formed in 1889 in India.
The Ahmadiyya Movement, according to some historical accounts, came to Nigeria in 1913. At its investiture, the movement boasted of prominent Nigerians as its pioneer executives. Among them were Adam Idowu Yakub, Basil Agusto, and Badamosi Fanimokun. Basil Agusto, the first Muslim lawyer in West Africa, was the movement’s second president; and Jibril Martins, the second Muslim lawyer in West Africa and first Muslim appointed to the Nigerian Central Legislative Council in the colonial era, succeeded him.
In 1916, twenty-one members signed the bai’yah (oath of allegiance) forms, which were dispatched to Qadian, in India. From inception through the early twenties, the movement in Nigeria focused on studying Ahmadi texts from India, training its own members—or the would-be trainers—and communications with the Centre in Qadian.
The movement surfaced in Nigeria at a time when Muslims nurtured extreme apathy for Western education, which they believed was diametrically opposed to the ideals of Islam. Their disposition was not unconnected with the religious proselytization of feeble Muslims by the Christian missionaries under the guise of Western education.
At that critical time, the first Muslim school in Nigeria, Taalimul Islam Muslim School, was established at Elegbata in Lagos Island by the movement in 1922. It was a well-received initiative which integrated Islamic learning with Western education in a formalized institution.
Also, in 1948, it established the Saka Tinubu Memorial Ahmadiyya High School in Olushi as the first Muslim secondary school in Nigeria. The school was named after Doctor Abdul Hamid Saka Tinubu, a foremost Ahmadi and the first Muslim doctor in Nigeria.
Many of the pioneering members left the movement when they discovered some of its principles were inconsistent with their understanding of Islam. Among them were Basil Agusto and Jibril Martin, the second and third presidents respectively. The former later founded the Jamaatul Islamiyya of Nigeria. The internal crisis was protracted and it culminated in a split of the movement into two factions in 1940: The Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, and the Ahmadiyya Movement.
Today, the Jama’at has a plethora of missions spread across every state of the federation. It also has many mosques and madrassas, which provides for the spiritual education and growth of its members. Through its efforts in Nigeria, the Jama’at has extended its tentacles to neighboring countries like Togo, Cameroun, the Gambia, Niger Republic, Benin Republic and Equatorial Guinea.
The influence of the movement in Nigeria becomes conspicuous when one examines the socio-political, religious and intellectual consequences of their activities. Many of the members of the movement are proficient writers and their adept literary outputs may be a good justification for their self-styled aphorism, “The Jihadist of the pen”.
The movement also has a growing presence at higher institutions of learning under the name, Ahmadi Muslim Students’ Association (AMSA) formed in 1984. It continues to contend with the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), which had hitherto enjoyed the status of being the sole students’ association for Muslims.
Barrister Abdul Lateef Owoade, the Chief Missioner of the Ahmadiyya in Kwara State, told “Islam Online” that the movement’s activities are consciously directed towards the spiritual and intellectual development of Nigerians. “Ahmadiyya is the pioneer of Islamic education in Nigeria. The first Muslim school was Taalimul Islam College at Elegbata in Lagos. So, all the elites who are Muslims, especially from the Southern part of Nigeria, schooled there. And till today, that light has continued to radiate. That is why today you have Ahmadiyya Secondary Schools in every state in Nigeria and they are leading secondary schools in the areas of science. We also have Ahmadiyya hospitals everywhere,” he said.
The mainstream Muslims however regard the Ahmadis as heretics and not Muslims. Many of the movement’s belief and practices, they contend, run contrary to the fundamentals of Islam as taught by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Ahmadis hold the belief that Jesus Christ was crucified, that Ghulam Ahmad was a messenger and received revelations from God, that alcohol intake is permissible, that Allah prays, fasts, sleeps, makes mistakes and has intercourse—and all these contradict the express teachings of the Qur’an and Hadeeth (prophetic sayings). Also, Orthodox Muslims consider Ghulam Ahmad an apostate and one of the 30 false prophets prophesized by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The Muslim World League in its 1974 conference in Saudi Arabia declared the Ahmadiyya “a subversive movement against Islam and the Muslim world, which falsely and deceitfully claims to be an Islamic sect, who under the guise of Islam and for the sake of mundane interests contrives and plans to damage the very foundations of Islam.”
This verdict is however believed to be unjustifiable by the Ahmadis who maintain that they are Muslims. The President of the movement in Nigeria, Dr. Moshood Fashola, told “Islam Online” that “there is clear definition of who a Muslim is in the Qur’an and the Hadeeth. In chapter 4 of the Qur’an, Allah says ‘Don’t call anybody a disbeliever who says to you ‘Salam alaikum’ (the greeting of Islam). Ahmadiyya normally say it. In fact, we are the one who introduced “salam alaikum” in Nigeria. Allah says the believers are those who believe in God, His angels, in the messengers and the scriptures. So, if they can show that we don’t believe in God, or angels, or the scriptures, then they can say we’re disbelievers. The Prophet himself said ‘Whoever says la ilaaha (there is no god but Allah) is a Muslim.”
There is an obvious animosity between the movement and the other Islamic groups in Nigeria. Even on issues like the introduction of Islamic Banking in the country, which ought to be a common ground, mutual cooperation eludes their relationship.
When asked how the Ahmadiyya Movement has fared in fostering cooperation with other Islamic movements, Barrister Abdul Lateef Owoade told “Islam Online” that the answer lies in “the popular motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at worldwide: ‘hatred for none; love for all’. We relate with others—Muslims and non-Muslims—and we always base it on the Yoruba proverb that: ‘The goat does not oppose friendship with the sheep; it’s the sheep who insists her mother did not procreate a black goat’. We cooperate with all, except those who will say ‘No, we don’t want to relate with you’.”