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AMADIYAH . The Amadiyah (or Ahmadiyya) movement is a modern Muslim messianic movement, founded in 1889 in the Indian province of the Panjāb by Ghulām Amad (18351908). Having been accused of rejecting the Muslim dogma asserting the finality of Muammad's prophethood, the movement aroused the fierce opposition of the Sunnī Muslim mainstream. During the period of British rule in India, the controversy was merely a doctrinal dispute between private individuals or voluntary organizations. However, when most Amadīs moved in 1947 to the professedly Islamic state of Pakistan, the issue was transformed into a major constitutional problem. The Sunnī Muslim mainstream demanded the formal exclusion of the Amadīs from the Muslim fold. This objective was attained in 1974, when, against the fierce opposition of the Amadīs, the Pakistani parliament adopted a constitutional amendment declaring them non-Muslims. In 1984, within the framework of the general trend of Islamization in Pakistan, a presidential "Ordinance no. XX of 1984" transformed much of the religious observance of the Amadiyah into a criminal offense, punishable by three years of imprisonment. The ordinance has since become an instrument of choice for the harassment and judicial persecution of the Amadī community. Following its promulgation, the headquarters of the Amadī movement moved from Rabwah (in Pakistan) to London.

The most distinctiveand controversialaspect of Amadī religious thought was Ghulām Amad's persistent claim to be a divinely inspired religious thinker and reformer. As has often been the case with Muslim revivalist and messianic movements, the starting point of Ghulām Amad's thought was the assertion that Muslim religion and society has deteriorated to a point where divinely inspired reforms were essential in order to arrest the process of decline and restore the pristine purity of Islam. The most acceptable definition of his spiritual claim from the Sunnī point of view was his declaration that Allāh made him the renewer (mujaddid ) of Islam in the fourteenth century ah (November 12, 1882November 20, 1979). More controversial was his claim to be the mahdī and the promised messiah (masī-i mawʿūd ), expected by the Muslim tradition at the end of days. Ghulām Amad's identification as the mahdī was designed to counter the Christian and Muslim belief concerning the second coming of Jesus. According to Ghulām Amad, this belief is groundless: whenever the Muslim tradition suggests this idea, it should be understood as indicating not the descent of Jesus himself, but rather that of a person similar to him (mathīl-i ʿĪsā ). This person is Ghulām Amad.

Ghulām Amad's repeated assertion that Allāh called him a prophet was the most controversial formulation of his spiritual claim. Since this assertion is contrary to the Muslim belief that all prophecy came to an end with the completion of Muammad's mission, it brought upon Ghulām Amad and his followers the most vociferous denunciations of the Sunnī ʿulamāʾ and was always the trump card in the hand of those who wanted to exclude the Amadīs from the fold of Islam. Ghulām Amad explained, however, that Muslim dogma concerning the finality of Muammad's prophethood relates only to prophethood of the legislative variety, the one that brings a new book and a new law. After the revelation of the Qurʾān, Allāh will never again reveal a new heavenly book, nor promulgate a new divine law. He maintained that the Qurʾān is the last book to be revealed and Muslim law will remain valid forever. However, a prophet who does not bring a new book and does not promulgate a new law may appear in the Muslim community at any time. Therefore, the appearance of Ghulām Amad, who represents this kind of nonlegislative prophecy and calls for the full implementation of the Muslim sharīʿah and of Muammad's instructions, does not infringe upon the dogma of the finality of Muammad's prophethood (khatm-i nubuwwat ). The Amadī distinction between the two types of prophethood is probably inspired by the celebrated Muslim mystic Muyī al-Dīn ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 1240).

Prophetology is the mainstay of Amadī religious thought and is the principal reason for the controversy aroused by the Amadī movement. In addition to it, the Amadīs also have a distinctive interpretation of the idea of jihād. In their view, jihād should be waged in a way appropriate to the threat facing Islam. In the early Muslim period, nascent Islam was in danger of physical extinction and therefore military jihād was called for. In Ghulām Amad's lifetime, Muslims faced the onslaught of Christian missionaries who engaged, according to Ghulām Amad, in a campaign of slander and defamation against Islam and the prophet Muammad. In such a situation, the Muslims should respond in kind and defend Islam by preaching and refuting the slander of the Christian missionaries rather than by military jihād. Though this interpretation is specific to Ghulām Amad's lifetime and to the situation of Indian Muslims under British rule, it came to be considered as an unchanging principle in the Amadī worldview.

The Amadī movement split in 1914 into two branches: the Qādiyānī and the Lāhōrī. The Qādiyānī branch stressed Ghulām Amad's claim to prophethood, while the Lāhōrī one maintained that the movement's founder should be considered merely as a renewer (mujaddid) of Islam at the beginning of the fourteenth century ah.

The Amadī movement has been unrivaled in its dedication to the propagation of its version of Islam. Amadī mosques and missionary centers have been established not only on the Indian subcontinent, but also in numerous cities of the Western world, Africa, and Asia. The Amadīs established an organizational framework and were able to sustain the activities of the movement against considerable odds for more than a century. The elected successors of the founder (in the Qādiyānī branch) bear the title "Successor of the Messiah" (khalīfat al-masī ). Masrūr Amad, the fifth successor, assumed office on April 22, 2003, and directs the movement from London.

In its relationship with the non-Muslim world, the Amadiyah has been engaged in depicting Islam as a liberal, humane, and progressive religion, systematically calumniated by non-Muslims. This aspect of Amadī teaching is well in line with that of modernist Muslim thinkers, though in other matters, such as the seclusion of women and polygamy, the Amadīs follow the traditional point of view. One of the most distinctive features of the movement is that the Amadīs consider the peaceful propagation of their version of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims alike as essential. In this they are persistent and unrelenting.


Bashīr al-Dīn Mamūd Amad. Invitation to Ahmadiyyat. Rabwah, Pakistan, 1961; reprint, London and Boston, 1980. The most comprehensive description of Amadī beliefs in English, translated from the Urdu original of Ghulām Amad's son and second successor.

Binder, Leonard. Religion and Politics in Pakistan. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1961. See pages 259296. The Amadī controversy during the first years of Pakistan's existence.

Brush, S. E. "Ahmadiyyat in Pakistan: Rabwa and the Ahmadis." Muslim World 45 (1955): 145171.

Fisher, Humphrey J. Ahmadiyyah: A Study of Contemporary Islam on the West African Coast. London, 1963. An excellent study of the Amadiyah in an African setting.

Friedmann, Yohanan. Prophecy Continuous: Aspects of Amadī Religious Thought and Its Medieval Background. Berkeley, 1989. A history of the Amadiyah and its expansion, and an analysis of the prophetology of the Qādiyānīs and the Lāhōrīs and of Amadī jihād. The second printing (Delhi and New York, 2003) includes a new preface by Zafrira and Yohanan Friedmann on developments since 1984.

Ghulām Amad. Jesus in India: Jesus' Escape from Death on the Cross and Journey to India. London, 1978.

Muhammad Zafrullah Khan. Amadiyyat: The Renaissance of Islam. London, 1978. A history of the movement from the Amadī point of view.

Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, trans. Tadhkira: English Translation of the Dreams, Visions, and Verbal Revelations Vouchsafed to the Promised Messiah on Whom Be Peace. London, 1976.

Pakistan National Assembly's Verdict on Finality of Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Islamabad, 1974.

Yohanan Friedmann (2005)