Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) The Promised Messiah and Mahdi مرزا غلام احمد

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad circa 1897

Claim as Messiah:

  • c. 1891[1] to May 26, 1908
  • Succeeded by : Hakeem Noor-ud-Din
Personal Information:

  • Name : Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
  • Born : February 13, 1835(1835-02-13)
Qadian, British India
  • Died : May 26, 1908(1908-05-26) (aged 73)
Lahore, British India[2]
  • Resting place: Bahishti Maqbara
Qadian, British India
  • Spouse(s) : Hurmat Bibi
Nusrat Jehan Begum
  • Children : Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad
Mirza Bashir Ahmad
Mirza Sharif Ahmad
Mubarika Begum
Sahiba Amtul Hafeez Begum
  • Parents : Mirza Ghulam Murtaza

Mīrzā Ghulām Aḥmad[3] (Arabic: الميرزا غلام أحمد‎;Urdu: مرزا غلام احمد; February 13, 1835 – May 26, 1908 CE, or Shawal 15, 1250 – Rabi' al-thani 24, 1326 AH) was a religious figure from India, and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He claimed to be the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah (“Second Coming of Christ”), and the Mahdi awaited by the Muslims in the end days.[4][5] He declared that Jesus (Isa) had in fact survived the crucifixion and later died a natural death, after having migrated towards Kashmir and that he had appeared in the spirit and power of Jesus.[6]

He traveled extensively across the subcontinent of India preaching his religious ideas and ideals and won a sizable following within his lifetime. He is known to have engaged in numerous debates and dialogues with the Muslim, Christian and Hindu priesthood and leadership. Ghulam Ahmad founded the Ahmadiyya movement on March 23, 1889. The mission of the movement, according to him, was the propagation of Islam in its pristine form.[7]

Ghulam Ahmad authored around 80 books on various religious, spiritual and theological issues.[8] He advocated a peaceful propagation of Islam and emphatically argued against the necessity of Jihad in its military (physical fighting) form in the present age.[7]

Lineage and background

The Ahmadiyya movement claims that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s lineage through his forefathers can be traced back to Mirza Hadi Beg, whom they call a reputed scholar and chieftain of Mughal/Persian descent. According to one hagiography, in 1530 Mirza Hadi Beg migrated from Khorasan along with an entourage of two hundred persons consisting of his family, servants and followers.[9] Travelling through Samarkand, they finally settled in the Punjab, India, where Mirza Hadi founded the town known today as Qadian during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Zaheer al-Din Babur.

The family were all known as Mughals within the British governmental records of India probably due to the high positions it occupied within the Mughal empire and their courts. Mirza Hadi beg was granted a Jagir of several hundred villages and was appointed the Qadhi (judge) of Qadian and the surrounding district. According to the followers of Ahmad, for generations the descendants of Mirza Hadi held important positions within the Mughal empire and had consecutively been the chieftains of Qadian.[10] Through his fore-mothers, Ghulam Ahmad claimed descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah Zahra.[11]

Early life

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born on February 13, 1835, in Qadian, Punjab, India[12] the surviving child of twins born to an affluent family.[13] As a child, he received his early education at home. He learned to read the Arabic text of the Qur'an and studied basic Arabic Grammar and the Persian language. In addition, he also studied some works on medicine from his father, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, who was a physician.

From 1864 to 1868, upon his father's wishes, he worked as a clerk in Sialkot where he is said to have come in contact with Christian missionaries with whom he would have conversations on religion. After 1868 he returned to Qadian, as per his father’s wishes, where he was entrusted to look after some estate affairs. During all this time Ahmad was known as a social recluse because he would spend most of his time in seclusion studying religious books and praying in the local Mosque. As time passed, he began to engage more with the Christian missionaries, particularly in defending Islam against their criticism.

He would often confront them in public debates, especially with the ones based in the town of Batala, about 11 miles (18 km) from Qadian in India.[12] After his father died in 1875, when Ghulam Ahmad was about 40 years of age he claimed to be the recipient of divine converse with continuity.[14]

Forty days of solitude

In 1886, certain leaders of the Arya Samaj held discussion and debate with Ghulam Ahmad about the truthfulness of Islam and asked for a sign to prove that Islam was a living religion. In order to dedicate special prayers for this purpose and so as to seek further divine guidance, Ghulam Ahmad traveled to Hoshiarpur upon what he claimed was divine instruction. Here he spent 40 days in seclusion, a practice known as chilla-nashini. He traveled accompanied by 3 other companions to the small 2-storied house of one of his followers and was left alone in a room where his companions would bring him food and leave without speaking to him as he prayed and contemplated. He only left the house on Fridays and used an abandoned mosque for Jumu'ah (Friday prayers). It is during this period that he declared God had given him the glad tidings of an illustrious son.[15][16]

Taking of the covenant

Ghulam Ahmad claimed divine appointment as a reformer as early as 1882, but did not take any pledge of allegiance or initiation. In December 1888 Ahmad announced that God had ordained him that his followers should enter into a Bay'ah with him and pledge their allegiance to him. In January 1889 he published a pamphlet in which he laid out ten conditions or issues to which the initiate would abide by for the rest of his life.[17] On 23 March 1889 he founded the Ahmadiyya community by taking a pledge from forty followers.[17] The formal method of joining the Ahmadiyya movement included joining hands and reciting a pledge, although physical contact was not always necessary. This method of allegiance continued for the rest of his life and after his death by his successors.[18]

His claim

Ahmad proclaimed that he was the promised Messiah and Mahdi, and that he was fulfillment of various prophecies. This sparked great controversy, especially among the Muslim and Christian clergy.[citation needed] Ahmad's followers say that he never claimed to be the same physical Jesus who lived 19 centuries earlier. Ahmad claimed that Jesus died a natural death, in contradiction to the traditional Muslim view of Jesus' physical ascension to heaven and the traditional Christian belief of Jesus' crucifixion.[19] He claimed in his books that there was a general decay of Islamic life and a dire need of a messiah.[20][21][22] He argued that just as Jesus had appeared 1400 years after the time of Moses, the promised messiah—i.e. the Mahdi—must also appear in the 14th century after the appearance of Muhammad.[23]

In Tazkiratush-Shahadatain he wrote about the fulfillment of various prophecies. In it he enumerated a variety of prophecies and descriptions from both the Qur'an and Hadith relating to the advent of the Mahdi and the descriptions of his age which he ascribed to himself and his age. These include assertions that he was physically described in the Hadith and manifested various other signs; some of them being wider in scope, such as focusing on world events coming to certain points, certain conditions within the Muslim community, and varied social, political, economic, and physical conditions.[24]

He was accused of creating a new religion,[25] a heretical act in Islam, which he repeatedly denied claiming only an Islamic revival and rejuvenation[26] and that he was a Prophet within the Ummah and dispensation of Muhammad just as Jesus was a prophet within the dispensation of Moses.

Post claim

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (seated centre) with some of his companions in Qadian

In time, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s claims of being the Mujaddid (reformer) of his era became more explicit.[27] In one of his most well-known and praised[25] works: Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, a work consisting of a number of volumes, he claimed to be the Messiah of Islam[27] which has proven a strong challenge for Muslims to accept, since traditional Islamic thought maintained that Jesus will return in the flesh during the last age.[28] Ahmad, by contrast, asserted that Jesus had in fact survived crucifixion and died of old age much later in Kashmir where he had migrated. According to Ahmad the promised Mahdi was a symbolic reference to a spiritual leader and not a military leader in the person of Jesus Christ as is believed by many Muslims. With this proclamation he also rejected the idea of armed Jihad, and argued that the conditions for such Jihad are not present in this age which requires defending Islam by the pen and tongue but not with the sword.[29]

Reaction of religious scholars

In time, the religious scholars turned against him, and he was often branded as a heretic. His opponents accused him of working for the British Government due to the termination of armed Jihad, since his claims of being the Mahdi were made around the same time as the Mahdi of Sudan (Muhammad Ahmad). Many years after his death he was again accused of working for the British to curb the Jihadi ideology of Muslims.

Following his claim to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, one of his adversaries prepared a Fatwa (decree) of disbelief against Ahmad, declaring him a Kafir (disbeliever), a deceiver, a liar, and him and his followers to be permissible of being killed. This decree was taken all around India and was signed by some two hundred religious scholars.[30]

Some years later a prominent Muslim leader and founder of the Barelwi sect, Ahmed Raza Khan was to travel to the Hejaz to collect the opinions of the religious scholars of Mecca and Medina. He compiled these opinions in his work Hussam ul Harmain (The sword of two sanctuaries on the slaughter-point of blasphemy and falsehood),[31] in it Ghulam Ahmad was again labeled an apostate. The unanimous consensus of about thirty-four religious scholars was that Ghulam Ahmad’s Beliefs were blasphemous, tantamount to apostasy, and that he must be punished by imprisonment and if necessary by execution.

Journey to Delhi

Jama Masjid, Delhi, 1852, William Carpenter

Ghulam Ahmad traveled to Delhi which was at the time considered a centre of religious learning and home to many prominent religious leaders, in 1891, with the intention of distinguishing what he believed to be the truth from falsehood, and attempting to make it openly manifest for people through these influential divines. He published an advertisement in which he invited the scholars to accept his claim and to engage in a public debate with him regarding the life and death of Isa (Jesus), particularly Maulana Nazeer Hussein who was hailed as the greatest shaikh and a leading religious scholar. He also proposed three conditions that were essential for such a debate. Namely, that there should be a police presence to maintain peace, the debate should be in written form and that the debate should be on the subject of the death of Jesus.
Eventually it was settled and Ahmad traveled to the Jama Masjid Delhi (main mosque) of Delhi accompanied by twelve of his followers, where some 5,000 people were gathered. Before the debate started there was a discussion on the conditions, which led to the conclusion that the debate should not be upon the death of Jesus, but upon the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He explained that his claim could only be discussed after the death of Jesus was proven, for Jesus was considered by many to be living and the one who will descend to earth himself.

Only when this belief was refuted could his claim to be the Messiah be discussed.
Upon this there was a clamor among the crowds, and Ahmad was informed that the other party alleged that he was at odds with Islamic beliefs and was a disbeliever, therefore it was not proper to debate with him unless he clarified his beliefs.

Ahmad wrote his beliefs on a piece of paper and had it read aloud, but due to the clamor among the people it could not be heard. Seeing that the crowd was drifting out of control and that violence was imminent, the police superintendent gave orders to disperse the audience and the debate did not take place. A few days later however, a written debate did take place between Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and Maulwi Muhammad Bashir of Bhopal which was later published.
Ghulam Ahmad is known to have traveled extensively across Northern India during this period of his life and having held various debates with influential religious leaders.[11]

Challenge to opponents

Ahmad published a book called The Heavenly Decree in which he challenged his opponents to a 'spiritual duel', in which the question of whether someone was a Muslim or not would be settled by God based on the four criteria laid out in the Qur'an. Namely, that a perfect believer will frequently receive glad tidings from God, will be given awareness about hidden matters and events of the future from God, most of his prayers will be fulfilled and that he will exceed others in understanding novel finer points, subtleties and deeper meanings of the Qur'an.[32]

The sun and moon eclipse

After announcing his claim to be the Messiah and Mahdi, his opponents demanded that he should produce the "heavenly sign" detailed in the tradition attributed to the 7th century Imam Muhammad al-Baqir[33] also known as Muhammad bin Ali, in which it is stated about the appearance of the Mahdi [34]

For our Mahdi there are two signs which have never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth, namely the moon will be eclipsed on the first night in Ramadhan and the sun will be eclipsed on the middle day in the same month of Ramadhan, and these signs have not appeared since God created the heavens and the earth.

– Dar Qutni Vol 1, page 188

Ahmadis maintain that this prophecy was fulfilled in 1894/1895, about three years after Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed himself to be the Promised Mahdi and messiah, with the lunar and solar eclipse during the month of Ramadhan. Ghulam Ahmad declared that this was a sign of his truth, and was in fulfillment of the tradition or prophecy.[35]

The occurrence has, however, faced some criticism, with critics of Ahmad asserting that this was a weak tradition with unreliable narrators, one which cannot be traced back to Muhammad himself,[36] and that such eclipses have taken place before. Ahmadis however argue that such eclipses have never taken place as a sign for the truth of any person, and that this sign being mentioned in other religious scriptures such as the Bible [37] and the Qur'an,[38] and the fact that it actually took place while there was a claimant further enhances the reliability of the tradition.


In 1897 a Christian missionary, Henry Martyn Clarke filed a lawsuit of attempted murder against Ahmad at the court of District Magistrate Captain William Douglas in the city of Ludhiana. The charge laid against him was that he hired a man by the name of Abdul Hameed to assassinate Clarke. However he was not detained by the police and was declared innocent by the then Magistrate Captain Douglas.[39][40]

Ahmad was offered permission to sue the plaintiff. However he declined to do so stating that he is answerable to God. Upon retirement, Captain Douglas stated: I was certain that a man with such a good face could not have committed the deeds that he was accused of. He was a smiling, open countenance.[39][40]

The Revealed Sermon

In 1900, on the occasion of the festival of Eid ul-Adha, he is said to have delivered an hour-long sermon extempore in Arabic expounding the meaning and philosophy of sacrifice. This episode is celebrated as one of the important events of the history of Ahmadiyya. The sermon was simultaneously written down by two of his companions and came to be known as the Khutba Ilhamiyya, the revealed or inspired sermon. Ahmadiyya literature states that during this sermon there was a change in his voice, he appeared as if in a trance, in the grip of an unseen hand, and as if a voice from the unknown had made him its mouthpiece. After the sermon ended Ahmad fell into prostration followed by the rest of the congregation as a sign of gratitude towards God.[41]

Ahmad wrote later:

It was like a hidden fountain gushing forth and I did not know whether it was I who was speaking or an angel was speaking through my tongue. The sentences were just being uttered and every sentence was a sign of God for me.

– Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Haqeeqatul-Wahi[42]

The Lahore controversy with Pir Meher Ali Shah

Pir Meher Ali Shah of Golra Sharif is recognised by some as the person at the forefront in striving to bring Ghulam Ahmad and his movement down.[citation needed] He penned the book on the ‘apostasy’ of Ahmad titled “Sayf-e-Chishtia”.[citation needed] Meher Ali was one of the spiritual leaders whom Ghulam Ahmad had challenged collectively to a ‘prayer duel’. 0n July 20, 1900,Ghulam Ahmad issued a poster in which he proposed a gathering at Lahore to hold a written contest in Arabic[citation needed] consisting of writing a commentary on 40 verses (selected by ballot) of the Qur'an after invoking divine assistance.

According to the poster the commentaries were to be written within seven hours and in the presence of witnesses, without the assistance of a book or any person. An hour was to be given for preparation. The commentaries were to span at least 20 pages, purely in Arabic. After their completion and signatures by the contestants, they were to be read out to three learned persons for adjudication nominated and seen to by Meher Ali Shah. After listening to the two commentaries, the judges would pronounce on solemn triple oath which one was superior and written ‘with Divine endorsement’.[43]

Pir Meher Ali Shah accepted the challenge to such a contest provided that first an oral debate take place between him and Ghulam Ahmad on the issue of his claims. Ghulam Ahmad refused to debate. Ahmad's followers claim that he had categorically vowed in Anjam-e-Atham not to engage in any more debates, as he judged them ineffective at convincing the religious clergy to reform (the reason why he had challenged Meher Ali Shah to such a decisive contest in the first place and not to a debate); rather he would invoke God for divine intervention by holding such contests or ‘prayer duels’ which he called ‘Ejazi-Muqabala’ or Miraculous contest between him and his opponents; primarily Christian missionaries and Muslim Scholars and divines.[11]

This remains a point of contention between the followers of Ghulam Ahmad and those of Pir Meher Ali Shah. According to the followers of Meher Ali Shah, he travelled to Lahore as per Ghulam Ahmad’s proposal where a large gathering of scholars and laymen had collected, and according to followers of Ghulam Ahmad, did so without notice. Ghulam Ahmad did not show up. Ahmadis argue that the condition of oral debate proposed by Meher Ali Shah was an indirect refusal of Ghulam Ahmad’s challenge and a deliberate attempt to trap him, for if he had accepted he would have broken his promise with God by engaging in debates, but if he declined it would be assumed that Meher Ali Shah was victorious and Ghulam Ahmad had withdrawn. Followers of Meher Ali Shah contend that he accepted the challenge even without the condition of oral debate, but Ghulam Ahmad failed to turn up.[43]

Ghulam Ahmad later issued another poster describing his beliefs and requesting a written response from the Pir.[citation needed] Later he published an advertisement proposing a battle of written commentary on the opening chapter of the Quran to settle their dispute. The two commentaries would be printed and published in book form within 70 days. A price of Rs.500 would be paid to Mehr Ali Shah if his commentary was adjudged by three scholars to be superior or equal to that of Ghulam Ahmad.[43] The party failing to write and publish the proposed commentary within the stated period would be regarded as a liar, and no further proof for that purpose would be needed. Ghulam Ahmad published his planned commentary under the title Ijaz-ul-Masih (Miracle of the Massiah).

As per the challenge, Per Meher Ali Shah was to write a commentary on the opening chapter of the Quran in Arabic. However, instead, Per Mehr Ali wrote a book in Urdu named Saif-e-Chishtiyyi.[44]

Challenge to John Alexander Dowie

Alexander Dowie in his robes as ‘Elijah the restorer’

In 1899, a Scottish-born American clergyman by the name of John Alexander Dowie had laid claim to be the forerunner of the second coming of Christ. Ghulam Ahmad exchanged a series of letters with him between 1903-1907. Ghulam Ahmad challenged him to a prayer duel, where both would call upon God to expose the other as a false prophet. Ghulam Ahmad stated:

The best way to determine whether Dowie’s God is true or ours, is that Mr. Dowie should stop making prophecies about the destruction of all Muslims. Instead he should keep me alone in his mind and pray that if one of us is fabricating a lie, he should die before the other.

– Ghulam Ahmad, [45]

Dowie declined the challenge[citation needed], calling Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the “silly Mohammedan Messiah”.[citation needed]Ghulam Ahmad prophesied:

Though he may try hard as he can to fly from death which awaits him, yet his flight from such a contest will be nothing less than death to him; and calamity will certainly overtake his Zion, for he must bear the consequences either of the acceptance of the challenge or its refusal. He will depart this life with great sorrow and torment during my lifetime.

– Ghulam Ahmad, The Renaissance of Islam[46]

The challenge of "prayer duel" was made by Mirza in September 1902. Dowie died before Mirza, in March 1907. The Dictionary of American Biography states that after having been deposed during a revolt in which his own family was involved, Dowie endeavoured to recover his authority via the law courts without success and that he may have been a victim of some form of mania as he suffered from hallucinations during his last illness.[47]

Encounter with the Agapemonites

In September 1902 a man by the name of Rev. John Hugh Smyth-Pigott proclaimed himself the Messiah, and also claimed to be God, while preaching in the Church of the Ark of the Covenant in Clapton, London. This church was originally built by the Agapemonites, a religious movement founded by the Anglican priest Henry James Prince.[48]

When the news of his claim reached India, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, a disciple of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was informed of it and wrote to Pigott informing him of the claim of Ahmad and requesting more information about his own claim. Pigott did not reply directly but a letter was received from his secretary along with two advertisements one carrying the title 'The Ark of Noah'. When these advertisements and letter was read out in the presence of Ahmad he replied:

Logic is respected and lasts but irrational thought loses its innovativeness in the space of a few lines. Now our Noah’s Ark will overpower the false one. The Europeans used to say that false Messiahs are about to come, so first these false prophets and Messiahs stepped out in London. After this the voice of the true Messiah will reach London. It is also recorded in the Ahadith that the Anti-Christ will claim Godhead and Prophethood for himself, so this Nation has also fulfilled this manifestly. Dowie is claiming to be a Prophet in America and Pigott is claiming to be God in London and calls himself God.

– Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfoozat; Vol.4, 11 November 1902

After having prayed about Pigott, Ahmad claimed to have seen in a dream 'some books on which was written three times: Holy, Holy, Holy' followed by a revelation:

Allah is severe in retribution. They are not acting righteously.

– Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Tazkirah, pg. 531

Ahmad issued an advertisement forewarning Pigott of the “Punishment that awaits him” if he did not repent of his irreverent claim. Which is said to have been widely publicized in English Newspapers, it is said that thenceforth Pigott became silent and did not repeat his claim. He left London and retreated to a small village in Somerset, changed his name, seeking a life of anonymity and was defrocked by the Anglican Church following the birth of three sons from one of his many spiritual brides. He eventually died in March 1927.[48]

The White Minaret

The White Minaret at Qadian

According to Islamic tradition Jesus, upon his second advent would descend with or near a White Minaret disputably to the east of Damascus or in the eastern side of Damascus.[49] Ghulam Ahmad argued that this Hadith does not explain whether the minaret will be within the eastern side of Damascus or to the eastern side of the city. According to him this prophecy was fulfilled with his advent in Qadian a town situated to the east of Damascus and the significance of the minaret symbolic. The minaret according to him symbolised the spread of the 'light of Islam', its message reaching far and wide and the ‘supremacy of Islam’ which was to tower up as it were like a minaret in the time of the promised one.

The prophecy is also believed to be pointing to an age of enlightenment and one where there are numerous facilities for communication and transport, thereby making conveyance and proselytising easier.This being reflective of the physical purpose that minarets were used in medieval Islamic societies, the efficient communication of the call to prayer to a wider audience in the locality.[50] Ghulam Ahmad claimed that God had revealed to him:
Step forth, that your time has Arrived and the feet of the people of Muhammad have been firmly planted on a high tower. Holy Muhammad, the chosen one, Chief of the Prophets. – Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Tadhkirah, pg. 444 In 1903 Ahmad laid the foundation of a Minaret to commemorate the prophecy.

This according to him will represent the physical as well as spiritual aspects of Islam with a light and a clock fixed on its top symbolising the 'light of Islam' spreading far and wide and "so man will recognize his time", and a Muezzin to give the call to prayer five times a day symbolising an invitation to Islam. The construction of this minaret was completed in 1916 and has since become a symbol and distinctive mark in Ahmadiyya Islam

Celestial Cemetery

Ahmad mentioned the establishment of a Celestial Cemetery (Bahishti Maqbara) under divine commandment in his booklet Al-Wasiyyat (The Will). It is stated that in a spiritual vision Ahmad was shown a plot of land called Bahishti Maqbara, containing the graves of such members of his Community who are destined to be in heaven. In order to fulfil this vision Ahmad donated a parcel of his land in Qadian for those members of the Community who fulfilled certain conditions[51]:

* Whoever desires to be buried in this graveyard should contribute towards the expenses of its maintenance according to his capacity.
* Whoever desires to be buried therein should make a testamentary disposition that one tenth of his property shall, under direction of the Movement, be devoted to the propagation of Islam, and carrying out the teachings of the Quran. It will be open to every righteous person whose faith is perfect to provide for this purpose in his will more than one tenth, but it shall not be less.
* Whoever shall lead a righteous life and abstain from all that is prohibited and shall not do anything that amounts to association of something with God or to innovation in the faith. He should be a true and sincere Muslim. (Al-Wasiyyat pp 16-19)

Over time the graveyard in Qadian has expanded and anther one was established in Rabwah, Pakistan after the partition of India under the auspices of the second Caliph of the Community, Mirza Bashiruddin Ahmad.

Last journey

Towards the end of 1907 and early 1908 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have received numerous revelations informing him of his imminent death. In April 1908 he traveled to Lahore with his family and companions. Here he gave many lectures. A banquet was arranged for dignitaries where Ghulam Ahmad, upon request, spoke for some two hours explaining his claims, teachings and speaking in refutation of objections raised against his person, here he preached reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims. He completed writing his last work entitled “Message of Peace”[52] a day before his death.[53]


While he was in Lahore at the home of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain (who was also his physician), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fell ill from dysentery and excessive weakness.[54] He died in Lahore on 26 May 1908.[55] His body was subsequently taken to Qadian and buried there.[56][57] A few years before his death, Ahmad claimed to have received several prophecies relating to his upcoming death.[58]

Marriages and children

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad married twice. His first wife was his paternal cousin Hurmat Bibi. Later they separated and lived separately for a long time. At the time of his second marriage, Hurmat Bibi gave him the permission to live with the second wife and decided against a divorce.


From his first wife Hurmat Bibi two sons:

1. Mirza Sultan Ahmad(1853–1931)
2. Mirza Fazal Ahmad (1855–1904)

From his second wife Nusrat Jehan Begum ten children:

Five children who died in infancy:

1. Ismat(1886–1891)
2. Bashir (1887–1888)
3. Shaukat (1891–1892)
4. Mirza Mubarik Ahmad (1899–1907)
5. Amtul Naseer (1903-1903)

And five children who lived longer:

1. Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad (1889–1965)
2. Mirza Bashir Ahmad (1893–1963)
3. Mirza Sharif Ahmad (1895–1961)
4. (Nawab) Mubarika Begum (1897–1977)
5. (Nawab)Sahiba Amtul Hafeez Begum (1904–1987)

Knowledge of Arabic

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was criticized for his inadequate knowledge of the Arabic language. Subsequently he claimed to have been taught Arabic directly by God and that he received the knowledge of 40,000 Arabic roots from God in a single night. He wrote some 20 books in Arabic, and Urdu combined with Arabic, as well as poetry upon what he considered was divine direction. He wrote:

All my Arabic books are type of revelation since I wrote them with special support from God. Sometimes I do not understand the meaning of some words and sentences unless I use a dictionary

– Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Seerat-ul-Mahdi, Narration No. 104

Ahmad challenged his critics and contemporary religious scholars to produce the like of his Arabic works with as much help as they wanted individually or collectively. After having been alleged to have hired some experts of the Arabic language to write those books, he gave them leave to call to their aid the learned men and divines of Arabia, Egypt and Syria whose mother-tongue was Arabic thereby extending his challenge to all Arabs and non-Arabs alike.[59] According to Ahmadi sources no one took up this challenge and those who did, only sought to find fault with the works of Ghulam Ahmad and failed to produce any book. He also declared Arabic to be the mother of all languages (Ummul-Lisana) and the original tongue of mankind.[60] This subject he dealt with in detail in his book Minanur-Rahman.

Although Ahmad stated:

When my age was about 10 years, then an Arabic teacher was appointed for my education whose name was Fazal Ahmad

– Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Kitab ul Bariyah, Roohani Khazain Volume 13, pages 180–181

Ahmad did go on to say however that such teaching of his was an

elementary education...(providing) some rules of Arabic grammar

– Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Kitab ul Bariyah, Roohani Khazain Volume 13, pages 180–181

From this, Ahmadis argue that learning basic rules of Arabic grammar in the manner of a student learning a classical language at a young age cannot on its own lead to writing scores of books, delivering lectures and challenging the Arabic-speaking world, all successfully, fifty years later. Ahmadis conclude therefore that extra knowledge, above and beyond an "elementary education" is required to achieve such literary feats.


One of the main source of dispute during his lifetime and continuing since then, is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s use of the terms “Nabi” (prophet) and “Rasool” (messenger) when referring to himself. Muslims consider the prophet Muhammad to be the last of the prophets [61] and believe that Ahmad's use of these terms is a violation of not only the rudimentary concept of the “finality of prophethood”, but the Qur'an itself.[62] His followers fall into two camps in this regards, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who believe in a literal interpretation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s prophethood (with some qualifications),[63] and is currently headed by Ahmad's fifth Caliph or successor carrying the title of Khalifatul Masih an institution believed to have been established soon after Ahmad’s death. While the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement who believe in an allegorical interpretation of these two terms is administered by a body of people called the Anjuman Ishat-e-Islam (Movement for the propagation of Islam) headed by an Emir.[64] This among other reasons caused a split in the movement soon after Ahmad’s death.

Followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are considered non-Muslims in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and have faced relentless persecution of various types over the years.[65] In 1974, the Pakistani parliament amended the Pakistani constitution to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims for purposes of the constitution of the Islamic Republic.[66] In 1984, a series of changes in the Pakistan Penal Code sections relating to blasphemy were made, which, in essence, made it illegal for Ahmadis to preach their creed, leading to arrests and prosecutions. However, no one has been executed yet, even though it is allowed under the law.

In 2007 The Ahmadiyya were banned from practising their faith openly in the state of Belarus, and given a similar status to other banned religious groups in the country.[67]

Relative to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, some mainstream Muslim opinion towards the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement has been more accepting,[68] with the Lahore Ahmadiyya Literature finding easier compatibility with orthodox Muslims[69][70] and some Orthodox Muslim scholars considering the members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement as Muslims.[68]

A number of modern Muslim scholars and Muslim intellectuals seem to conform to the idea of peaceful Jihad as a struggle for reform through civil means, in accordance with Mirza Ghulam Ahmed's standpoint on the issue. Furthermore, some Islamic scholars have opined that Jesus has died (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's assertion) or expressed their own confusion on this matter,[71][72][73] though the majority orthodox position of most Muslims with regard to this issue has not changed.


Due to the nature of his claims and teachings, he had been a subject of criticism throughout his life and has been ever since his death. He and his movement are still regarded by most Muslim scholars[citation needed] as kuffar (unbelievers), and as guilty for an attempted schism in Islam.

Regarding Prophecies

Criticism on prophecies of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed can be seen in the article Prophecies of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

Relationship with the British

Many orthodox Muslims feel that Ghulam Ahmad was aided in his mission by the British government, whose stated policy of “divide and rule” was expressed in their approval of Ahmad's introducing a dissident faction within Islam.[74] Ghulam Ahmad is criticised by the orthodox Muslims for his support for the British Government in India and maintain that he and his associates went on publishing in favor of British control and even tried to convince Muslims in other Muslim countries that a British government would be in their favor. It is alleged that he had collaborated with the British against Muslims.[75] They give reference to one of his books in which he said:

[…] The service that has been rendered on my part, in favour of the English government is that I have published fifty thousand books, magazines and posters and distributed them in this and other Islamic countries […] It is as a result of my endeavors that thousands of people have given up thoughts of Jihad which had been propounded by ill-witted mullahs and embedded in the minds of the people. I can rightly feel proud of this that no other Muslim in British India can equal me in this respect […]

– [76]

His followers reject this criticism and point out that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was constantly engaged in controversies with the British missionaries. Western historians have recorded this effort as one of the features of Ahmad’s legacy.[77] Francis Robinson states;

At their most extreme religious strategies for dealing with the Christian presence might involve attacking Christian revelation at its heart, as did the Punjabi Muslim, Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), who founded the Ahmadiyya missionary sect.

His followers also say that Ahmad openly supported the British government in India, and therefore his critic's consideration of this being tantamount to “conspiring” with the British is baseless.[78] They further argue that his open support for the British was on account of the religious freedom the British extended to the Muslims as opposed to the preceding Sikh rule in Punjab wherein Muslims were persecuted and their religious freedom curtailed.;[79] and that one of the reasons for his expression of loyalty towards the British was due to him being repeatedly presented as a threat and danger to the government with rebellious intent by his opponents such as Maulvi Muhammad Hussein who warned the government in the following words:[80]

His deception is proved by the fact that in his heart he considers it lawful to put an end to the authority of a non-Muslim government and to plunder its belongings […] Therefore, it would not be proper on the part of the Government to rely on him and it would be necessary to be aware of him, otherwise such harm might be suffered at the hands of this Mahdi of Qadian as was experienced at the hands of the Sudanese Mahdi.

– Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol VI, 1893

It is also pointed out by them that some prominent main stream Muslim leaders of the time had also openly expressed similar sentiments for the British rule for the same reasons.[81] Such leaders included Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi, Deputy Nazir Ahmad and members of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam.[82] Furthermore the famous founders of the Muslim League had also expressed similar sentiments of Loyalty to the British Government at around the same time as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[83] In summary the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad contend that his views towards the British Rulers at the time were the same as those of numerous other well regarded Muslim Leaders of the same time.[84]

Termination of Jihad

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's critics[who?] allege that he had terminated Jihad, which is an important Islamic requirement, to appease the British. His followers,[who?] however, argue that he never terminated Jihad, in the broader sense of the word, but only forbade physical fighting for the sake of religion or against a government which gives freedom of religion. An official British government report of 1901 states:

It is also interesting to notice that there is at the present time in Northern India a religious teacher of the name of Ghulam Ahmed who claims to be the Mahdi or Messiah expected by Muhammadans and Christians alike, and has obtained a considerable number of followers in the United Provinces, the Punjab and Sind. He »repudiates the doctrine of Jihád with the sword«, and regards as absolutely unlawful wars undertaken for the propagation of religion.

– Report on the Census of India, 1901, page 373[85]

Ahmad wrote:

Behold! I have come to you people with a directive that henceforth jihad with the sword has come to an end but jihad for the purification of your souls still remains. This injunction is not from me but rather it is the will of God.

– British Government and Jihad pg.15[86]

According to Ahmad this age did not require defending Islam by the sword but that the Jihad of this age was to be carried out by preaching and defending Islam by speech and by the pen. In another place he writes:

The Jihad of this age is to strive in upholding the word of Islam, to refute the objections of the opponents, to propagate the excellences of the Islamic faith, and to proclaim the truth of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, throughout the world. This is Jihad till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world.

– [87]


Ghulam Ahmad has been accused[by whom?] of plagiarising, and altering the words of Arab linguists to appear as his own. He claimed that his book Hujjatullah [Convincing Proof from God] was of superior Arabic. However, his critics allege that several sentences and paragraphs in this text are taken directly without alteration, from Maqamat al-Hariri, the best known poetry collection of the Arabic scholar and poet Al-Hariri of Basra.[citation needed] For this reason, his claim to divine instruction in Arabic is not accepted in Islamic Orthodoxy[citation needed]. Ahmadis, however, claim[citation needed] that the alleged instances of plagiarism are not true because Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had deliberately inserted the writings of Al-Hariri with his own and then openly declared that he had done as such as a challenge to his critics to compare and separate the two. His followers claim that as clearly stated by him in the beginning of his book Hujjatullah[88] it was only after his use of Arabic was labelled inadequate, ungrammatical and 'unchaste' by his opponents that Ghulam Ahmad deliberately amalgamated his own writings with that of Al-Hariri's in order to expose his adversaries; whom he called upon to distinguish between his writings and that of Al-Hariri’s. Ghulam Ahmad stated:

Thus the method which will free the people from his deception is that we present to him paragraphs from our writing and some other paragraphs from the writings of a great Arab writer while concealing the names of the authors, and then call upon him to tell us which paragraph out of this is ours and which is theirs, if you are truthful. Then if he recognises my sayings and theirs and distinguishes between them as between a shell and its kernel, then we shall give him fifty rupees as a reward.

– Hujjatulla, pg. 4-5


Ghulam Ahmad has been intensely criticized[89][90] for the use of abusive language against his opponents and extremely blasphemous and objectionable language against Jesus Christ. Examples from his writings:

The family of Jesus was perfectly holy and immaculate. Jesus' three paternal and maternal grandmothers were fornicators and prostitutes, from whose blood the body of Jesus came into existence. May be it was a condition for divinity. His inclination for prostitutes and interaction with them might also be due to this ancestral relationship.[90]

– Anjam-e-Atham, pg. 291

It should be remembered that he (Jesus) had also to some extent the habit of lying. All the prophecies he described about himself in Torah are not found anywhere in the books of Torah.[90]

– Anjam-e-Atham, pg.289

However, Ahmadis believe that the examples have been taken out of context and do not represent the views of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad with regards to Jesus.[91] Ahmadis state[91] that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad repeatedly used expressions of honor, love and affection for Jesus. Among many examples, Ahmadis quote:

I state on oath that I bear that true love towards the Messiah which you do not possess and that you have not available to you the light with which I recognize him. There is no doubt that he was a dear and chosen Prophet of God.[91]

– Dawate Haq, attached to Haqeeqatul Wahi

Furthermore, Ahmadis cite[91] that Ahmad always claimed resemblance to Jesus and so how is it possible that a person who claims to be the like of another and his reflection should defame him or should be disrespectful towards him as that would result in defaming himself, as the reflection must correspond to the original. They cite:

Claiming as I do, that I am the Promised Messiah and that I bear a resemblance to Hazrat Isa, peace be on him, every one would understand that were I to revile him, I would not claim any resemblance to him, for by reviling him, I would confess that I myself was vicious.[91]

– Announcement of 27 December 1898

Ahmadis further state[91] that according to Ahmad Jesus of the Quran and the Jesus of the Gospels are two different and distinct personalities; Jesus in the Quran was a Prophet of God and was loved by Him and was a chosen one, but the Jesus of the Gospels was a fictitious personality and from the accounts contained in the Gospels his life was stained and unmoral which was the result of abrogation of the Gospels. From Ahmad's writings, they cite:

I have uttered no word of disrespect concerning the Messiah, it is all a calumny of my opponents. It is true, however, that as there has not in fact been a Messiah who claimed to be God and who held the Khatamul Anbya, who was to come, as an impostor and who called Moses a robber, I have as a matter of argument certainly stated concerning such a Jesus that he who might have expressed himself in this manner could not be held to be righteous. But I believe in the Messiah, son of Mary, who describes himself as a servant of God and Messenger and affirms the truth of the Khatamul Anbya.[91]

– Taryaqul Qulub, p.77

Ahmadis argue[91] that the reason for the use of harsh language was that at the time of the claim of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Christian missionaries had been in the habit of uttering vile abuse and making false charges against the Prophet Muhammad, such as a sincere Muslim dare not even repeat. Ahmad had endured this torment for forty years. According to Ahmadis such a refutation is a recognized method of defense to which recourse was held by previous divines and eminent personages in the faith, many instances of which are to be found in the history of Islam. Ahmadis cite from Ahmad's writings:

So many books full of vile abuse and defamation of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, have been printed and published the perusal of which makes one's body tremble. Our heart is so much in tribulation that if these people were to slaughter our children before our eyes and were to cut to pieces our sincere and beloved friends and were to kill us with great humiliation and were to take possession of our belongings, we call God to witness that even in such case we would not suffer so much grief and our heart would not be so severely wounded as we have suffered and endured under this abuse and defamation which has been directed against the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.[91]

– Ayena Kamalat-e-Islam, p. 51

Thus, according to Ahmadis, Mirza Gulam Ahmad, has not in the slightest degree defamed Jesus. He has only, by way of refutation, condemned the Christians on the basis of the Gospels. In doing this, his only purpose was that the Christian missionaries should refrain from abusing and defaming and uttering false charges against Prophet Muhammad. This method according to Ahmadis silenced the Christian missionaries. Ahmadis further propose[91] that all the allegations as proposed by Ahmad were in line with the Gospel and not fictional, namely that Jesus of the Gospels indulged in liquor, some of his grandmothers were guilty of adultery and that his mother, Mary was charged with adultery by his enemies, though this was not the belief of Ahmad.


Ghulam Ahmad is also criticized by Muslims[92] for publishing dreams he saw about a naked man and a woman. From Tadkhirah:

I saw in my dream last night that Muhammadi (Begum), concerning whom a prophecy has been made, was sitting with some people in a village rest-house and perhaps her head was shaven and she was naked and she looked very repulsive.

– Tadhkirah, Page 259

When we had finished the Prayer, I found that I was sitting on a bed in front of Muhammad Husain. It seemed to me that at that time he was dark of complexion and quite naked and it appeared to me that his complexion was darkish. I felt embarrassed and would not look at him....It seems that I said to him: Is it not time that you should make up with me, and incline towards peace? He replied in the affirmative and came close and embraced me while I was sitting.

– Tadhkirah, Page 344

Ahmadis contend[citation needed] that prophecies given to Prophets often have inner or metaphorical meaning and are also not under the control of the prophet concerned; but with reference to the prophecies mentioned above nothing explicit is intended by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Ahmadis often refer to the Qur'an and Hadith for support of their arguments. For example, a Hadith quoting a dream of Prophet Muhammad states:

We looked into it and found naked men and women[93]

– Sahih Bukhari, Book 87, Number 171

Ahmadis argue that by merely mentioning of a phrase, in this case 'naked man or woman', nothing explicit can be intended as opposed to what is often perceived by their critics.[citation needed]

See also


  • Yohanan Friedmann, Prophecy Continuous - Aspects of Ahmadi Religious Thought and Its Medieval Background; Oxford University Press (2003) ISBN 965264014X
  • Jesus in India, Ahmadiyya Muslim Foreign Mission Department, 1978, ISBN 978-1-8537-2723-8; Original Masih Hindustan Mein, Oriental & Religious Publications Ltd., Rabwah (Online)
  • The Essence of Islam, Islam International Publications, Ltd.; 2nd edition (2004), ISBN 1-8537-2765-2
  • Teachings of Islam, Kessinger Publishing (August 2003), ISBN 978-0-76617614-0
  • The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, The London Mosque Publishing, 1979
  • Iain Adamson: Ahmad, The Guided One, Islam International Publications, 2000
  • S. R. Valentine, 'Islam & the Ahmadiyya Jama'at', Hurst & Co, London/New York, 2008


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