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Qadianis flee Maulana Muhammad Ali’s challenges to debate
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Qadianis flee Maulana Muhammad Ali’s challenges to debate

From the beginning of the Split in 1914, Maulana Muhammad Ali repeatedly tried to get the Qadiani leader Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad to agree to a debate with him over the issues of disagreement. These issues are summarised in the table below:

Lahore Ahmadiyya Beliefs
Qadiani Beliefs
(coined by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad,
today represented by Mirza Tahir Ahmad)

Every person professing the Kalima Shahada is a Muslim. Anyone who does not believe in Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is a non-Muslim.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad never claimed to be a prophet. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet.

But the Qadiani leader always evaded entering a debate or discussion of any kind.

In the last decade of his life, Maulana Muhammad Ali made his most strenous and sustained final attempts, for six years, to bring the Qadianis into debate. He presented the differences between the two parties in a crystal clear way, putting them in sharp contrast against each other. But the evasion of the Qadianis proved conclusively that their beliefs have no foundation whatsoever. Below we give details of these events.

In April 1940, Maulana Muhammad Ali challenged the Qadianis to a written debate, with or without judges, on the issues under dispute. In May 1940 he announced:

"Remember well that it is on the issue of kufr and Islam that the Qadianis will flounder. Their position on this issue is entirely weak and unsound. The ground has been cut away from under their feet. No Qadiani knows what is his belief about this. They say: `There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah', but in practice they have cancelled this Kalima. It is obvious that if the Kalima is not abrogated, how can those who profess it be called kafir and outside the pale of Islam? And if those who do not accept Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, while professing the Kalima, are kafir then this Kalima is abrogated. But the Qadianis do not take either of these positions clearly, or proclaim it plainly and boldly. The reason is that they have no belief on this question. When talking to anyone, they express that belief which suits the listener. On this question, and on the question of the khilafat, the Qadianis cannot take any stand.

"Remember, we will not let them get away. Either they have to enter the field of combat and prove that all Muslims on earth are kafir and expelled from Islam, or they have to admit defeat, and acknowledge that according to the Quran, Hadith, and the teachings of the Promised Messiah every person professing the Kalima is a Muslim ... and this is what we want because our aim is reform. The root of the difference between us is the issue of kufr and Islam. Once that is settled, the issue of prophethood [whether Hazrat Mirza claimed to be a prophet or not] can be solved in one instant."

Proposals for written debate

The Maulana proposed, at that same time, that each side would put to the other an agreed number of questions or objections, and the replies to these would be published in the newspapers of both sides. The readers would then make up their own minds, and there would be no further time-wasting debates between the two groups.

He added that if Mirza Mahmud Ahmad wishes to have judges to the debate, then the Maulana would nominate five judges all of them from among the Qadianis. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad rejected this offer, and dared not accept having even his own followers as judges, as nominated by the Maulana. He said:

"In the matter of religious beliefs, I am not prepared to accept the verdict of my own wife or sons or brothers. The question of my beliefs is for me. Why should I accept someone else's judgment?"

But he was not being asked to adopt the decision of the judges as his personal beliefs. The debate and the ruling of the judges would show to the general public which side's case was proved true. Any individual was free to adopt whatever belief he liked.

Every Qadiani invited to judge

As Mirza Mahmud Ahmad refused to accept this proposal, Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote a leaflet in December 1940 entitled Each and Every Qadiani invited to become judge. In this, he explained to them the standpoint taken by Hazrat Mirza sahib, in allowing his followers to say the funeral prayers for other Muslims, and challenged any Qadiani to deny these plain facts. He writes:

"I repeat these points regarding which I am prepared to make each and every Qadiani an arbiter:

(1) There are four rulings of the Promised Messiah, two from the years 1907 and 1908, allowing us to say the funeral prayers of a non-Ahmadi.

(2) Hazrat Mirza sahib never ruled that funeral prayers for non-Ahmadis were disallowed.

(3) Hazrat Mirza sahib's practice was not contrary to his rulings, but according to them.

(4) Till the split in 1914, all Ahmadi communities used to hold funeral prayers for non-Ahmadis when required.

If there is not even a single Qadiani who can deny these four facts, then no one can deny that the present position of the Qadianis is opposed to the position of the Promised Messiah."

This and other efforts to bring the Qadianis into debate were all rejected by them.

Leaders to address each other's gathering

Prior to the annual gathering (Jalsa) of December 1941, Maulana Muhammad Ali invited Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to address the Lahore Ahmadiyya community at its gathering, in return for the Maulana addressing the annual gathering of the Qadianis, so that each community could hear the arguments presented by the leader of the other. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad replied that he could only allow the Maulana to speak on the days after the Qadiani Jalsa, and not during it. The Maulana rejected this, as the gathering would have dispersed by then, and he would not be able to address the whole Jama`at. But he still left open his invitation to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to speak at the Lahore Jalsa. There was no response to this.

Qadianis challenged to take oath

When these efforts lasting two years did not bear fruit, in 1944 Maulana Muhammad Ali proposed another means of resolving the dispute. He wrote:

"The Qadianis believe that before the year 1901 Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad denied claiming to be a prophet, and believed Muslims to be Muslims, but that in 1901 he changed his claim to prophethood and started calling Muslims as kafir. Let us decide whether Hazrat Mirza sahib changed his claim or not. Let just one man from the whole of the Qadiani community make a statement on oath as follows: `In the year 1901, my belief regarding the prophethood of Hazrat Mirza sahib changed'. From our side, seventy men made a statement on oath (in 1915) that in the year 1901 the idea never even entered their minds that Hazrat Mirza sahib had changed his claim.

"If the Qadianis cannot find anyone else, let Mirza Mahmud Ahmad himself make this statement under oath."

The Maulana went one step further and invited Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to make the statement under oath that his beliefs, as expressed on page 35 of his book A'inah Sadaqat, were the beliefs held by Hazrat Mirza sahib. The scanned image of that page from the original Urdu book is shown below, along with the English translation of the relevant passage as published by the Qadianis themselves:

Page 35 of A'inah-i Sadaqat,
View of entire Urdu page.
Qadianis' own English translation of relevant extract as given in their book The Truth about the Split, Rabwah, 1965, pages 55-56.
"(1) ... the belief that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was actually a Nabi; (2) the belief that he was ‘the Ahmad’ spoken of in the prophecy of Jesus referred to in the Holy Quran in 61:6; and (3) the belief that all those so-called Muslims who have not entered into his [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's] bai`at formally, wherever they may be, are Kafirs and outside the pale of Islam, even though they may not have heard the name of the Promised Messiah. That these beliefs have my full concurrence, I readily admit."


The Maulana himself would state under oath that those beliefs of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad were opposed to the beliefs of Hazrat Mirza sahib. The Maulana added that if, in his oath, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad invoked God's punishment upon himself in case of making a false statement, the Maulana would also say the same thing about himself in his oath. But there was no response to this.

Shortly afterwards, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad wrote an article denouncing Maulana Muhammad Ali as "a coward and a liar" and predicting that the curse of God would "strangle him like a liar" and that "the curse of his fabrication will descend upon him and he will die the death of liars". In reply, the Maulana prepared a statement for Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to answer, which was as follows:

"I repeat my allegations in clear words:

(1) Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made a false statement and committed a fabrication against the Promised Messiah that in 1901 he changed his claim in this way that, while previously denying a claim to prophethood, he now made a claim to prophethood himself, and cancelled his former writings of several years containing denials of a claim to prophethood.

(2) Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made a false statement and committed a fabrication against the Promised Messiah that he (Hazrat Mirza sahib) used to say that he did not know the correct meaning of the term 'prophet' until the year 1901.

(3) Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made a false statement and committed a fabrication against the Promised Messiah that around the year 1901 it used to be said among the circle of followers of the Promised Messiah that his previous beliefs about prophethood (i.e. his denials of claiming to be a prophet) were not correct.

If Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has the courage, he can hold a debate with me about these allegations. I will appoint persons from among his own followers as the arbiters. If he wishes, he can hold a mubahila after the debate, that is to say, he would take an oath, invoking Divine punishment upon himself in case of making a false statement, testifying that his beliefs as given on page 35 of A'inah Sadaqat are in agreement with the beliefs of the Promised Messiah; and I will take a similar oath, testifying that his beliefs are entirely opposed to the beliefs of the Promised Messiah. However, a debate will be necessary before the mubahila.

"If Mirza Mahmud Ahmad remains silent even now, I will continue to repeat these accusations until his followers are moved to ask him to clear himself from these charges."

This statement was printed in the form of a block in Paigham Sulh in every issue from 2 August to the end of October 1944, but Mirza Mahmud Ahmad could not pluck up the courage to reply.

On 9 March 1945, and again on 8 August 1945, Maulana Muhammad Ali reminded Mirza Mahmud Ahmad of his invitation to hold a mubahila. He told him that he had been announcing for one year that "Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has made a false statement and committed a fabrication against the Promised Messiah". The Maulana called on him to appoint Sir Zafrullah Khan, or anyone else from among his own followers, as a judge and to give him proof that his beliefs were the same as those of Hazrat Mirza sahib. The Maulana also challenged him to take legal action against him for defamation. He wrote:

"I have no wish whatsoever to humiliate Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, nor am I at all seeking to ruin him. But I cannot tolerate the humiliation of the religion of Islam or the ruination of the true teachings of the Promised Messiah. My demand is not a difficult one. It is that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad make a sworn statement that in the year 1901 he changed his belief as to whether or not the Promised Messiah was a prophet, or else he should desist from this fabrication against the Promised Messiah that he changed his belief in 1901."

However, things continued unchanged, and in August 1946 Maulana Muhammad Ali issued an announcement which summarised the preceding events:

"1. We and the Qadianis both agree that when Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be the Promised Messiah in 1891, he denied claiming to be a prophet. He gave his claim as that of being a muhaddas (non-prophet who receives revelation), declared prophethood as having ended with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and denounced as an imposter and liar anyone claiming prophethood after the Holy Prophet. The disagreement between us and the head of the Qadianis is that we hold that the Promised Messiah adhered to this position till he died (in 1908), but the Qadiani head writes that the Promised Messiah changed his belief in 1901, laying claim to be a prophet and opening the door of prophethood after the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

"2. It is obvious that the burden of proof regarding the change in claim in 1901 lies upon the Qadiani leader. I have invited Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, again and again, to a debate on this issue. I went so far as to say that I would nominate some of his own followers as judges of the debate. But he does not respond.

"3. Seventy of us, including myself, made a sworn declaration (in 1915) that we had taken the pledge to join the Movement before 1901, and the belief which we held at the time of our pledge, namely, that prophethood ended with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, was the belief we unchangingly held till death of Hazrat Mirza sahib. He did not change his belief about prophethood in 1901.

"4. For more than thirty years we have been demanding that seventy members of the Qadiani community make the sworn statement that they took the pledge before 1901 believing that Hazrat Mirza sahib claimed to be a muhaddas, but that in 1901 they changed their belief and started to believe that he was a prophet because in that year they discovered that he had changed his belief. But the entire Qadiani community has been silent for thirty years.

"5. I then had recourse to the last resort allowed in Islam, namely, that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad should undertake a mubahila with me, as to whether Hazrat Mirza sahib changed his belief about prophethood in 1901. But he still remained silent.

"6. However, some followers of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad keep on asking if I am prepared to enter into a mubahila with Mirza Mahmud Ahmad. To dispel all doubts, I announce again the following.

"7. I am prepared to hold a debate with Mirza Mahmud Ahmad on the question whether the Promised Messiah changed his belief in 1901, and I am prepared to appoint as judges persons from among his own followers only, one of them being Sir Zafrullah Khan.

"8. By having judges, it will not imply that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad must personally accept their verdict and change his own beliefs. But the misconception in people's minds will be cleared. If he considers it beneath his dignity to have judges, I will withdraw this condition, and hold an unconditional debate with him, whether it is in a public gathering or by written papers. He can impose any condition. My only proviso is that the topic of the debate will be restricted to the question whether Hazrat Mirza sahib changed his belief in 1901 or not.

"9. I am prepared to hold a mubahila on this issue with Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, if he so wishes. The Mubahila can be between just himself and me, or other people from both sides can be included who joined the Movement before 1901.

"If Mirza Mahmud Ahmad wants to propose a different date than 1901 as the time of the alleged change of claim, I am ready to hold a debate and mubahila with reference to that date.

"I want Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to reply to this announcement personally."

There was no reply from Mirza Mahmud Ahmad. However, one of his followers, Seth Abdullah Ala-Din of Secandarabad challenged Maulana Muhammad Ali to take an oath about his beliefs, and call for Divine retribution upon himself in case of making a false declaration. The Seth demanded that the oath be taken in the words he proposed, and he predicted that if the Maulana took the oath then within a year he would be punished by the hand of God Himself, in a manner entirely above human involvement.

Maulana Muhammad Ali took the oath, in exactly the words formulated by the Seth, in his speech to the annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha`at Islam Lahore on 25 December 1946:

"I, Muhammad Ali, head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat, do swear that my belief is that Hazrat Mirza [Ghulam Ahmad] sahib of Qadian is a Mujaddid and the Promised Messiah, but not a prophet, nor can any person become a kafir or excluded from the fold of Islam by denying him. This was also the belief of Hazrat Mirza sahib.

"O God, if I have uttered falsehood in this oath taken in Thy name, then send upon me from Thyself such exemplary punishment as has no human hand in it, and from which the world would learn how stern and terrible is God's retribution for one who deceives His creatures by swearing falsely in His name."

(Paigham Sulh, 11 December 1946 and 15 January 1947)

Having taken this oath, the Maulana lived till October 1951, continuing his service of Islam as before. During this period, he thoroughly revised the first edition of his premier work, the English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran, and died shortly after finishing the proof reading of the new edition.

Earlier, in 1944 the Qadiani and Lahore-Ahmadi communities of Data, in the district of Hazara (the North West Frontier Province), came to a mutual agreement to ask their respective leaders, i.e. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad and Maulana Muhammad Ali, to make sworn declarations, both using the same form of wording, to affirm their respective stand-points about Hazrat Mirza sahib's beliefs. Maulana Muhammad Ali accepted the demand, and published the following statement:

"I, Muhammad Ali, head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat, knowing Allah Almighty to be witness to this, Who holds my life in His hands, do swear that to my knowledge the belief of the Promised Messiah from 1901 to 1908 was that a person not believing in him is still a Muslim and within the fold of Islam, and his denier is not a kafir or excluded from the fold of Islam. The same has also been my belief, from 1901 till this day, on the basis of the belief of the Promised Messiah."

(Paigham Sulh, 21 September 1944)

Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was required to take the same oath, but substituting the following words to express his stand-point: " that to my knowledge the belief of the Promised Messiah from 1901 to 1908 was that a person not believing in him is a kafir and excluded from the fold of Islam." He refused to make this sworn statement, yet the Qadianis kept on repeating this belief.