Prayer Services led by a non-Ahmadi Muslim
by Imam B. A. Rafiq
Truth About Ahmadiyyat
One of the objections that is raised against the Ahmadiyya Community is that they do not join the prayer services of the non-Ahmadi, nor do they participate in the funeral prayers for a non-Ahmadi and that for this reason they are not Muslims.
In approaching this question it is necessary to keep in mind its history. It is well known and cannot be denied that it was the non-Ahmadis and their divines who debarred the Ahmadis from joining their Prayer services and even forbade their entry into their mosques. If an Ahmadi was found saying his prayers in a mosque of the non-Ahmadis, he was beaten up and often the floor of the mosque where an Ahmadi might have said his prayers was washed and thus the mosque was purified from the pollution which, according to them, had been inflicted upon the mosque by the entry of an Ahmadi into it. The Ahmadis were regarded as a pollution. It was in this situation that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement directed his followers to arrange to hold their prayer services separately and thus avoid all occasion of disorderliness in mosques. It is worthy of note that no non-Ahmadi has ever been stopped from joining the prayer services of Ahmadis or from saying his prayers separately in an Ahmadi mosque.
It was not till 1900, eleven years after the foundation of the Movement, that the Ahmadis were directed not to join the prayer services of the non-Ahmadis. Non-Ahmadi divines had throughout this period continued the condemnation of the Ahmadis as non-Muslims and outside the pale of Islam. It will thus be realized that the non-Ahmadis first forbade the entry of Ahmadis into their mosques and then charged them with failure to join the prayer services.
Attention may be drawn, by way of illustration, to a few of the declarations of non-Ahmadi divines in this context.
Maulvi Nazir Hussain Sahib of Delhi declared that neither the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement nor any of his followers should be greeted with the Islamic Salutation or invited to a meal, nor should their invitation to a meal be accepted, nor should prayers be said in the leadership of any of them. (Fatwa published in 1892 in the Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. XIII, p. 85)
Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Sahib of Batala declared that to be a follower of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement and to lead the Muslims in prayers is a contradiction which cannot be reconciled. (Sharai Faislah, p.31)
Maulvi Rashid Ahmad Sahib Gangohi declared that it is forbidden to join a prayer service led by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement or any of his followers. (Sharai Faislah, p. 31)
Maulvi Sanaullah Sahib of Amritsar declared that whatever the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement did was all done for worldly purposes and that it was not permissible to join a prayer service led by him. (Fatwa Shariat Gharra, p. 9)
Mufti Muhammad Abdullah Sahib Tonki of Lahore declared that it was not permissible to join a prayer service led by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement or any of his followers. (Sharai Faislah, p. 25)
Maulvi Abdur Rehman Sahib Bihari declared that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement was a disbeliever and an apostate from Islam and that joining a prayer service led by him or any of his followers was a useless and condemnable practice. The obligation of participation in a prayer service was not thereby discharged and such a worshipper incurred a great sin. It amounted to the same thing as joining a prayer service led by a Jew. (Fatawa Shariat Gharra, p. 4)
Maulvi Khalil Ahmad Sahib of Saharanpur declared that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement repudiated the Holy Quran and was outside the pale of Islam. To enter into a covenant of allegiance with him or to have any love for him or to join in a prayer service led by him or any of his followers was improper and was strictly forbidden. (Fatawa Shariat Gharra, p. 7)
Maulvi Ahmad Raza Khan of Bareilli declared that to join a prayer service led by a member of the Ahmadiyya Movement, or to join his funeral prayer, or to enter into a matrimonial alliance with him, or to eat the meat of an animal slaughtered by him, or to keep company with him, or to talk to him, was subject to the same discipline as applied to the apostates from Islam. (Hissamul Haramain, p. 95)
These declarations were widely published and were read out in the mosque of cities, towns and villages throughout the subcontinent and thus the entry of Ahmadis into the mosques of the non-Ahmadis was forbidden and condemned. If in consequence of all this the Ahmadis were directed by the Head of the Movement that they should not join the prayer services of non-Ahmadis, such action was only perfectly appropriate but was called for in the interest of avoiding disorderliness in the mosques.
The same was the situation with regard to the funeral services and burial of deceased Ahmadis. Numerous declarations were made by non-Ahmadi divines that non-Ahmadis should not join the funeral prayers of an Ahmadi and should not permit an Ahmadi to be buried in their graveyards. The bodies of deceased Ahmadis awaiting burial were shamefully treated, and in many cases they were disinterred after burial and thrown away. There is scarcely any disgrace or dishonor that could be inflicted upon a dead body to which the dead bodies of the Ahmadis were not subjected. Having suffered such indignities it is not a matter for surprise, far less of condemnation, that the Ahmadis refrained from joining in the funeral prayers of non-Ahmadis. This was also appropriate in order to avoid disorderliness and provocation.
By way of illustration here are some instances of the sort of treatment which has been accorded by non-Ahmadis to the dead bodies of members of the Ahmadiyya Movement:
On 20 August 1915, a small child of K. S. Hasan, an Ahmadi of Cannanore, Malabar, died and the local ruler directed that as the local Qazi had issued a declaration against the Ahmadis, that they were disbelievers, the dead body of the child could not be interred in any graveyard of the Muslims. The child could not be buried that day and at the end of the following day was buried in a plot of land more than two miles distant from the Muslim graveyard. (Al-Fazal, 19 October 1915).
In December 1918, the wife of an Ahmadi of Cuttack, Orissa, died and the Ahmadis buried the dead body in the Muslim graveyard. When the non-Ahmadis learnt of this they disinterred the body and carried it and threw it at the door of her husband's house. (Al Fazal, 14 December 1918)
The situation in Cuttack might be appreciated from the following extract from Ahle Hadees, a non-Ahmadi paper, which said:
The proverb 'A hundred stripes for a corpse' is being put into practice here. The situation with reference to an Ahmadi corpse is indescribable. When it is known in the town that an Ahmadi has died all graveyards are put under guard with people armed with sticks and the corpse is subjected to all sorts of indignities. A search is made for a coffin but it cannot be procured, gravediggers refuse to dig the grave, wood and bamboos become scarce. Search is made for a place for burial and none is found. Being disappointed in every direction when the relatives of the dead person decide to bury the corpse inside the house someone goes and informs the municipal authorities of this design and they appear immediately on the scene and frustrate the design. (Ahle Hadees, as quoted in Al-Fazal of February 9, 1918)
In April 1928, the opponents of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Cuttack stopped the burial of the small child of an Ahmadi even in the graveyard which the Ahmadis had established in a plot obtained from the government for the purpose, and the local officials rendered no assistance to the Ahmadis in carrying out the burial. (Al-Fazal, 13 April 1928)
On 16 March 1928, the daughter of Shaikh Sher Muhammad, an Ahmadi of Bhadrak, Orissa, could not be buried in the graveyard on account of the opposition offered by non-Ahmadis who had gathered in large numbers and were bent upon using violence to stop the burial. In the end the father arranged to place the dead body in a coffin and buried it in the compound of his house. (Al-Fazal, 27 April 1938)
On 29 January 1934, an Ahmadi died in Calicut, Malabar and non-Ahmadi opponents made a great propaganda in the town that the dead body should not be permitted to be buried in the Muslim graveyard. Thousands of excited opponents collected around the house of the deceased and created so much disturbance that it became difficult for the Ahmadis to enter the house or to emerge from it. With great difficulty at about 5 p.m. one person was sent to the graveyard to spy out the situation there, and on his return he reported that thousands of people armed with sticks etc. had gathered at the graveyard and were proclaiming that they would under no circumstances permit the dead body of the deceased Ahmadi to be buried in the grave-yard. The local officials were approached, but they pleaded their helplessness in the situation. Finally, on the following day, at 10.30 p.m., the corpse was buried at a great distance from the town in a plot of land that was subject to inundation in the rainy season. (Al-Fazal, 25 February 1934).
Hundreds of such instances can be cited but considerations of space forbid further citation. The indignities offered to the dead bodies of Ahmadi martyrs in various places in Pakistan during the disturbances in 1974 are fresh in the memory of all.
In view of all this does it lie in the mouths of our opponents that they should consider us blameworthy in that we do not join them in the funeral prayers of non-Ahmadi deceased?
This question has another aspect. Non-Ahmadi divines argue that as Ahmadis do not join non-Ahmadis in prayer services they thereby put themselves outside the pale of Islam. Now there is no sect of Muslims which has not been condemned as disbelievers by Muslim divines and joining whose prayer services is not regarded as contrary to Islam. Thus this is not a new situation which has arisen only with reference to the Ahmadis. Apply the same reasoning to other Muslim sects and consider the situation that would result therefrom. If the Ahmadis become disbelievers by not joining the prayer services of the non-Ahmadis, the same would apply to other sects who declare it contrary of Islam and forbidden to join the prayer services of each other other.
Here are some illustrations. The principal non-Ahmadi divines have declared concerning the Devbandees as follows:
Those of the Devband sect are absolute apostates from Islam and are disbelievers because in their worship they defame and dishonor all prophets and saints and even the Holy Prophet of Islam, on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah, and God Almighty Himself... The Muslims should avoid them altogether and not only should they refrain from joining them in their prayer services but they should not permit them to participate in their own prayer services, nor should they permit them to enter their mosques or eat the meat of animals slaughtered by them or take part in their marriage celebrations or funeral services. They should not visit them in illness and should not participate in their burial after death, nor permit the corpses of those of them who die to be buried in Muslim graveyards.
Those of the Devbandee sect are thus confirmed apostates and disbelievers, such that those who doubt in their being disbelievers would themselves become disbelievers, with the consequence that their marriages would be automatically dissolved and if they continue their association with their wives, any children born of such association would be illegitimate and would not inherit from them under the law. (Fatwa of Maulvi Muhammad Ibrahim Sahib of BhagaIpur, printed in the Hasan Barqi Press, Luknow)
In view of this, are Ahmadis under any obligation to join the prayer services of the Devbandee sect or should they join the prayer services of the Brelvis, concerning whom it has been declared:
He who attributes the knowledge of the unseen to anyone except God Almighty or considers anyone as possessing the same degree of knowledge as is possessed by God Almighty is undoubtedly a disbeliever. His leadership in prayer, association with him, love and friendship for him are all forbidden. (Fatawa Rashidiyyah Kamil of Maulvi Rashid Ahmad Sahib Gangohi)
Or is it desired that the Ahmadis should join the prayer services of the Ahle Hadees, concerning whom is the declaration:
The Wahabis, in the unanimous opinion of the divines of Mecca and Medina, are disbelievers and apostates from Islam, such that anyone who comes to know of their cursed writings and speeches and still doubts in their being disbelievers, himself becomes a disbeliever. It is not permitted to join a prayer service led by any of them. The meat of an animal slaughtered by them is forbidden. Their wives are no longer married to them and these women cannot marry a Muslim or a disbeliever or an apostate. (Fatawa Sanaiyyah, Vol.11, p.409)
There are scores of other declarations in which the divines of various sects have declared the followers of other sects disbelievers and have forbidden joining in prayer services led by them. In this situation what objection can be taken to the Ahmadis following their own Imam in their prayer services so as to obviate every kind of mischief and disorder.
In approaching these and all similar questions it should be kept in mind that the Ahmadis are those who have accepted the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, in whose person have been fulfilled the prophecies of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and thus they have become momins and are entitled to be described as righteous. A person who denies the truth of one who has been commissioned by God Almighty cannot be called a momin and it is obvious that the first condition for a person to lead the prayer service is that he should be a momin and righteous. Now if this is the true situation, and the Ahmadis sincerely believe that such is the case, then how can it be required that a momin (Ahmadi) should join in prayer services led by a non-momin (non-Ahmadi). This situation has been made quite clear by the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, who has said:
Those who, in their haste, have adopted an attitude of ill thinking and are indifferent to the difficulties with which this Movement is faced, have not acted righteously. God Almighty in His Holy Word says:
'Allah accepts only from the righteous' (5:28).
This means that it is only the prayer of the righteous that is accepted by God. That is why it has been directed that one should not join a prayer service led by one whose own prayer is not likely to find acceptance. It has ever been the stance of those honored in the faith that a person who opposes the truth is gradually deprived of his faith. He who does not believe in the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, is a disbeliever, but he who does not accept the Mahdi and Messiah will also lose his faith, and the end is the same. There is first opposition, and finally faith is lost. This is not a small matter but is a matter involving faith and is a question of heaven and hell. To deny me is not merely to reject me but is the denial of Allah and His Holy Prophet, on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah. He who denies me, before denying me considers God Almighty (God save us) a liar. He sees that internal and external disorders have exceeded the bounds and he conceives that God Almighty, despite His promise:
'We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation and We shall surely safe guard it' (15:10)
has not taken any measure of reform. On the surface he believes that in verse 56 of Chapter 24 of the Holy Quran, God Almighty promised that He would establish a line of successors among the followers of the Holy Prophet as a line of successors was established among the followers of Moses but thinks that (God save us) He has not fulfilled that promise, and there is no Khalifa at present among the followers of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. Not only this, but such a one will also have to adopt the position that (God save us) it is not true, as the Holy Quran has said, that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was a Prophet like Moses, inasmuch as for a perfect resemblance between Moses and the Holy Prophet, it was necessary that at the beginning of the fourteenth century of Islam there should have appeared among the Muslims a Messiah in the same way as in the Mosaic dispensation there came a Messiah in the fourteenth century after Moses. Further, he who denies me would also have to deny the vase of the Holy Quran:
'And among others from among them who have not yet joined them' (62:4)
which prophecies the advent of a reflection of Ahmad in the latter days. In the same way there are many verses of the Holy Quran which such a one will have to deny. I go further and claim that he who denies me will have to repudiate the whole of the Holy Quran from beginning to end. Consider, therefore, whether my denial is an easy matter. I do not say on my own authority but call God Almighty to witness that the truth is that he who forsakes me and denies me, even if he does so only by his conduct and not by his tongue, rejects the whole of the Holy Quran and forsakes God. (Alhakam, 17 March 1906)
The Holy Quran describes those who reject one sent by God as being dead. How then can one who is alive join in a prayer service led by one who is dead?