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Sunni Islam


Doctrines Ahmadiyyah is a missionary-oriented sect of Indian origin, founded in Qadiyan by Miraz Ghulam Ahmad (1839-1908). The sect believes its founder to be the madhi, the Christian Messiah, an avatar of the Hindu god Krishna, and a reappearance of M uhammad. The sect believes that Jesus did not die in Jerusalem but feigned death and resurrection, and escaped to India where he died at the age of 120.
Although Ahmadiyyah departs from mainstream Sunni Islamic doctrines in terms of its belief in the special status of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, they follow most of the main duties of Islam such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and almsgiving, as well as the basic Sunni interpretations of Islamic theology. Of the two branches of Ahmadiyyah in existence today, the minority Lahore branch, is considered to be within mainstream Sunni theology. The majority Qadiyanis are, however, not considered to be part of Islam by orthodox Muslims.

History The founder of the Ahmadiyyah sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was born into the leading family of the small town of Qadiyan in the Punjab, India in about 1839. He received a good traditional education, learning how to meditate and acquired a deep kno wledge of religion. On 4 March 1889 he announced that he received a special revelation from God and gathered a small group of disciples around him. Opposition from the Muslim community began two years later when he announced that he was the Messiah an d the Mahdi (a figure whose arrival is believed by some Muslims to herald the end of the world). In 1896 he gave a sermon called al-Hutbat al-Ilhamiyyah which he claimed to be unique because it was divinely inspired in pure Arabic. After this sermon h e came to be referred to by his followers as a prophet, a title which he regarded as honorary since he did not claim to bring a new revelation or new law. However, in spite of his denial of doctrinal innovation in 1900 he claimed that he was the Second Advent of Jesus and an avatar of Krishna.
On the death of the founder in 1908, a successor called Mawlawi Nur ad-Din was elected by the community. In 1914 a schism occurred over whether or not Ghulam Ahmad had claimed to be a prophet (nabi) and if so how he saw his prophetic role. The sece ssionists, led by one of Ghulam Ahmad's sons, rejected the prophetic claims of Ghulam Ahmad, regarding him only as a reformer (mujaddid), and established their centre in Lahore (in modern day Pakistan). The majority, however, remained at Qadiyan and cont inued to recognise Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet. Following the partition of India and Pakistan, the Qadiyanis, as the majority group came to be known, moved their headquarters to Rabwah in what was then West Pakistan. They remain both highly organised and very wealthy, due largely to the monthly dues received from their members.
The Lahore group, which is known as the Ahmadis and is considerably smaller than the Qadiyanis, has sought to win converts to Islam rather than its own particular sect. The Lahore group was also much more involved with the Indian Muslim struggle ag ainst the British presence in India.
Both groups are noted for their missionary work, particularly in the West and in Africa. Within Muslim countries, however, strong opposition remains to the Qadiyani group because of its separatist identity and its claim that Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet.

Symbols The sects' members are identified through their wearing a red cowl and a red veil. The Qadiyanis also employ a red banner.

Adherents The Qadiyanis currently have a presence in many countries, including most western countries. Their world wide numbers are estimated as high as 10 million (Harris et al 1994, 79).

Main Centre
 The Qadiyanis have their headquarters in Rabwah in Pakistan; the Ahmadis have their headquarters in Lahore in Pakistan.