Contradictory positions of Mirza Mahmud Ahmad on calling other Muslims as kafir
As we have shown in another article, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, second
khalifa of the Qadiani Movement, declared all Muslims as unbelievers (kafir) and excluded from Islam, unless they enter into the pledge (bai‘at) formally to become Ahmadis.
In his book Ainah-i Sadaqat, published in 1921, which was translated into English and first published
in 1924 under the title The Truth about the Split, he has explained at length why he regards other Muslims as kafir. He has quoted extracts from an article he published in April 1911, insisting that in that article, written at a time before he became khalifa of the Qadiani Jama‘at, he clearly expressed and propagated this view. He writes:
“I shall now proceed to give here a summary of the
article in question and to quote fully a few passages,
in order to enable every reader to judge for himself
whether it was possible to read into my article any
meaning other than the one it really conveyed. The article was elaborately entitled
A Muslim is one who believes in all the messengers of God.
The title itself is sufficient to show that the article was not
meant to prove merely that those who did not accept the
Promised Messiah were deniers of the Promised Messiah. Its
object rather was to demonstrate that those who did not believe
in the Promised Messiah were not Muslims.
— The Truth about the Split, 2007 edition, p. 144.
He goes on to write that, in his April 1911 article, he had presented the following conclusions::
not only are those deemed to be Kafirs, who
openly style the Promised Messiah as Kafir, and those who
although they do not style him thus, decline still to accept his
claim, but even those who, in their hearts, believe the Promised
Messiah to be true, and do not even deny him with their tongues,
but hesitate to enter into his Baiat, have here been
adjudged to be Kafirs.
And lastly, it was argued from a verse of the Holy Quran
that such people as had failed to recognise the Promised Messiah
as a Rasul even if they called him a righteous person with
their tongues, were yet veritable Kafirs.
— The Truth about the Split, 2007 edition, p. 148.
(Note: His original Urdu article of April 1911 was published in the magazine edited by him, Tashhiz-ul-Azhan. The article can be found in the collection of his writings published in several volumes under the title Anwar-ul-Ulam. It is in v. 1, pages 305–330.)
Speech in 1913
However, he expressed quite a different view in a speech in 1913. When he returned from performing the Hajj to Makkah, some welcome meetings were held for him in Qadian. One such meeting, attended by Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din, Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, was held on 14th January 1913. At the request of the gathering Mirza Mahmud Ahmad made a speech about his journey. This event, along with the speech, is reported in Badr, 30 January 1913, pages 17-18.
In this speech he mentioned various questions and objections that he encountered from people during the journey and his answers to them. He mentioned one such question and answer as follows:
“Then a man raised the objection that the Holy Prophet has said that in every century there will be a group in his Ummah who will receive salvation, but you (i.e., Ahmadis) say that after the Companions till today all Muslims have been kafir as they believed that Jesus is alive. I replied to him that we do not call non-Ahmadis as kafir because of their believing in Jesus to be alive. We call them kafir because they call the followers of Mirza sahib, who are Muslims, as kafir. Therefore, under the Holy Prophet’s order, we call them kafir because they call Muslims as kafir.”
— Badr, 30 January 1913, p. 18, column 2; the image of these words from the original newspaper is shown above.
This statement is quite contrary to his April 1911 article, in which he had argued that not only are those deemed to be Kafirs, who
openly style the Promised Messiah as Kafir”, but all Muslims who hesitate to enter into his Baiat … even if they called him a righteous person with
His speech of January 1913 shows that Mirza Mahmud Ahmad did not maintain a consistent, principled stand, but rather he expressed whatever belief was suited to the occasion and the audinece that he was addressing.
At the Munir Court of Inquiry
This was proved again many years later. In January 1954 Mirza Mahmud Ahmad had to appear before a Court of Inquiry set up by the government of Punjab in Pakistan after the anti-Ahmadiyya agitation and riots of 1953. Questioned about his beliefs on this issue, he gave the following answers:
“Question: If a person, after considering the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib, honestly comes to the conclusion that his claim was wrong, would he still remain a Muslim?
Answer: Yes. In common terminology he would still be considered a Muslim.”
“Question: You have now stated in your testimony that the person who sincerely does not accept Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib still remains a Muslim. Have you held this view from the beginning?
(Translated from the Qadiani Jama‘at publication Tahqiqati ‘adalat main Hazrat Imam Jama‘at Ahmadiyya ka Bayan, i.e., ‘Testimony of the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community at the Court of Inquiry’, p. 10 and p. 15)
This again is in complete contradiction to his beliefs which he was forcefully declaring in his book The Truth about the Split. It is clear that it was the pressure of circumstances and events that led him to give the above answers.
At the Inquiry he was also asked about a statement contained in a speech he made in 1917. In this speech to high school students of his community in Qadian, there is a section headed Differences in religious issues between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis. Under that heading he had said about other Muslims:
“The Promised Messiah has said: Their Islam and our Islam are different. Their God and our God are different. Our Hajj and their Hajj are different. Similarly, we differ from them in every matter.”
— Al-Fazl, 21 August 1917, p. 8, col. 1.
He was asked at the Inquiry the question: “Is this true?” He replied:
“When this was published, I did not have a diarist to copy it down. Therefore, I cannot be certain whether my words were correctly reported or not.”
— Tahqiqati ‘adalat main Hazrat Imam Jama‘at Ahmadiyya ka Bayan, p. 16)
Having told his followers in 1917 about other Muslims that “Their Islam and our Islam are different”, a statement which was then published in his own community’s newspaper, he denied before the Inquiry in 1954 that this was his belief.