The Ahmadiyya Jama’at…Between Islam and heresy


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.

Nigerian Origins

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.

Taking root

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.

Courting Controversy

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’.”


6 thoughts on “The Ahmadiyya Jama’at…Between Islam and heresy

  1. It is a great pity, on the people who create enmity on the part of Islam. What are the evidence you can use to create falsehood than falsehood. If Holy Prophet (saw) as prophesied about him as the promised messiah and you are not ready to follow him, should not make you to be saying what He did not say. Because Allah has created him to be the best of this time and will never say what Allah and Holy Prophet (saw) doesn’t said. When Allah says ! ”O ye who believe! wine and the game of hazard and idols and divining arrows are only an abomination of satan’s handwork. So shun each one of them that you may prosper.
    Satan desires only to create enmity and hatred among you by means of wine and the game of hazard, and to keep you back from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. but will you keep back?” Q 5 vs 91-92.
    O you brothers in Islam do you always read Suratul Fatihah? do you know the meaning of the four attributes of Allah that are their. Kindly reread it and within yourself you will know how great is Allah. So, for one who has done best ever have commentary of the Holy Qur’an how will he says that alcohol intake is permissible that Allah prays, fasts, sleep and makes mistakes and has intercourse.
    Sorry to say if you have enmity towards Ahmadiyya don’t use that to commit sin that Allah will never forgive you.
    Jazakumllah khaeran

  2. I concur with the comments re: the naming of the community – and brother Moosa has outlined the situation correctly, I think his ‘theory of evolution'(!) may have been a slip – perhaps he meant ‘stemmed from’ instead. Yusuf has also highlighted that both names existed. This tarries with what Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) has written about the name ‘Ahmadiyya’:

    “…اور جائز ہے کہ اِس کو احمدی مذہب کے مسلمان کے نام سے بھی پکاریں…”
    …And it is permissible that this [community] also be referred to as ‘Muslims of the Aḥmadī way [madhhab]’…

    [Ruḥānī Khazāʾin, v.15, p.526, Tiryāqu’l-Qulūb]

    [Note: It should be clear that here ‘madhhab’ is used clearly to denote itself as being one of the inter-Muslim Madhāhib, schools of theological/philosophical thought, and not a ‘religion’ per se.]


    اور اِس فرقہ کا نام مسلمان فرقہ احمدیہ اس لئے رکھا گیا کہ ہمارے نبی صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم کے دو نام تھے ایک محمد صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم۔ دوسرا احمد صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم اور اسم محمد جلالی نام تھا اور اس میں یہ مخفی پیشگوئی تھی کہ آنحضرت صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم اُن دشمنوں کو تلوار کے ساتھ سزا دیں گے جنہوں نے تلوار کے ساتھ اسلام پر حملہ کیا اور صدہا مسلمانوں کو قتل کیا ۔ لیکن اسم احمد جمالی نام تھا جس سے یہ مطلب تھا کہ آنحضرت صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم دنیا میں آشتی اور صلح پھیلائیں گے۔سو خدا نے اِن دو ناموں کی اِس طرح پر تقسیم کی کہ اوّل آنحضرت صلّی اللہ علیہ وسلم کی مکہ کی زِندگی میں اسم احمد کا ظہور تھا اور ہر طرح سے صبر اور شکیبائی کی تعلیم تھی۔ اور پھر مدینہ کی زندگی میں اسمِ محمد کا ظہور ہوا اور مخالفوں کی سرکوبی خدا کی حکمت اور مصلحت نے ضروری سمجھی۔ لیکن یہ پیشگوئی کی گئی تھی کہ آخری زمانہ میں پھر اسم احمد ظہور کرے گا اور ایسا شخص ظاہر ہوگا جس کے ذریعہ سے احمدی صفات یعنی جمالی صفات ظہور میں آئیں گی اور تمام لڑائیوں کا خاتمہ ہو جائے گا۔پس اسی وجہ سے مناسب معلوم ہوا کہ اس فرقہ کا نام فرقہ احمدیہ رکھا جائے تا اِس نام کو سنتے ہی ہر ایک شخص سمجھ لے کہ یہ فرقہ دنیا میں آشتی اور صلح پھیلانے آیا ہے اور جنگ اور لڑائی سے اِس فرقہ کو کچھ سروکار نہیں

    …And the reason that this group has been named ‘Mussulmān Firqa Aḥmadīyya’ is because our Prophet ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam had two names: one was Muḥammad ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam, the second was Aḥmad ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam, and the name Muḥammad was [his] majestic (jalālī) name which covets a hidden prophecy to the effect that our Prophet ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam would punish those enemies with the sword who attacked Islam with the sword and who had killed hundreds of Muslims. But the name Ahmad was his beauteous (jamālī) name which carried the meaning that our Prophet ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam will establish peace and reconciliation. So God apportioned these two names in such a way that the early life of our Prophet ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam in Makkah was manifested with the name ‘Aḥmad’, during which the teachings of patience and steadfastness were exemplified. Then in the Medinan period of his life, the name ‘Muḥammad’ came to be manifested, when God’s Wisdom and Resolution deemed it necessary to avenge the enemies. But it was prophesied that in the end days the name ‘Aḥmad’ would again be manifested and such a person will appear, through whom the ‘Ahmadī’ attributes, i.e., beauteous attributes, would be manifested and [through whom] all manner of aggressions would be ended. Therefore, it was deemed appropriate that this group be called the ‘Aḥmadiyya’ group, so that merely on hearing this name everyone should understand that this groups has appeared to establish peace and reconciliation in the world, and that this group has no interests in warfare or aggression.

    [Ruḥānī Khazāʾin, v.15, p.527, Tiryāqu’l-Qulūb]

    But what about this for a motto:

    ‘The goat does not oppose friendship with the sheep; it’s the sheep who insists her mother did not procreate a black goat’

    Love it!!

  3. “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.”

    He never had a scripture revealed to him.

  4. I agree. This article is afterall by IslamOnline, not an Ahmadi site. There are other things in this article that are also not correct and to be honest quite insulting. e.g. “that alcohol intake is permissible, that Allah prays, fasts….” I request the admin to point this out for the benefit of non-Ahmadi readers.

  5. Quote: “The name Ahmadiyya evolved from Ahmad—the founder’s appellation. Incidentally, it is also the Prophet’s name”

    Please note that this statement is not actually correct. The name Ahmadiyya did not evolve from Ahmad (as) nor did it “evolve”. Muhammad (saw) said “I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad”.

    According to prophecies by past Mujadids the Mahdi (as) would usher in the age of Ahmadiyya. Ahmadiyya means and represents those soft and beautiful teachings of Islam.

    Therefor Ahmadiyya is named after Rasul Allah (saw) and the agreed upon attributive title for the revival of Islam.


  6. My understanding was that the name “Ahmadiyya” evolved from the name of the Prophet Muhammad (pboh) rather than from the name of the founder of Jamaat Ahmadiyya. For instance, read “The name Ahmadiyya was given to the Community by the Promised Messiah to commemorate the name of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), who has the two names, Ahmad and Muhammad. As the Promised Messiah’s mission was to carry on the work of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) under his second name Ahmad, his followers are called Ahmadi Muslims.” [Pathway to Paradise, Chapter 7]

    I cannot find the reference now but I believe I read somewhere that the name Muhammad conveys glory and the name Ahmad conveys beauty, therefore “Ahmadiyya” refers to that period in Islam’s evolution when its teachings would become victorious through the manifestation their inherent beauty.


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