Are Ahmadis Muslim or Non-Muslim? Who decides?

The verdict of the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet(sa)

by Farhan Iqbal, Missionary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada

Recently, social media has been abuzz with young Pakistanis enthusiastically declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim, using theological debates surrounding the finality of Prophethood as “proof” of their claims.

The three reasons provided for this claim that I noticed are the following:

  1. It is the ijma’ (consensus) of the Muslim ummah
  2. It was so declared in 1974 by a democratically-elected government
  3. Personal declaration on a tweet or Facebook post without any reason provided

The question then is: Which of the above has the authority to declare Ahmadis non-Muslim? If the entire Muslim ummah or the Parliament of a country or an enthusiastic individual declares you a non-Muslim, or the worst of non-Muslims, is that sufficient?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘No!’ The declaration that a person is a Muslim or non-Muslim rests completely with Allah, the Exalted.

Verdict of the Holy Quran

In the Holy Quran, Allah says:

قَالَتِ الۡاَعۡرَابُ اٰمَنَّا

That is, “The Arabs of the desert say, ‘We believe.’” In other words, this is a declaration they make regarding their own faith. Allah says:

قُلۡ لَّمۡ تُؤۡمِنُوۡا وَ لٰکِنۡ قُوۡلُوۡۤا اَسۡلَمۡنَا وَ لَمَّا یَدۡخُلِ الۡاِیۡمَانُ فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِکُمۡ

Say, “You have not believed yet; but rather say, ‘We have accepted Islam,’ for the true belief has not yet entered into your hearts.” [49:15]

The subject matter of this verse of the Holy Quran is something to think about. God Almighty declares that these Arabs of the desert may think that they believe, but true faith has not entered their hearts. However, despite this, God commands the Holy Prophet(sa) to not declare them non-Muslim. Instead, they can say, “We have accepted Islam”, or “We are Muslims”. In other words, they can call themselves Muslim even if they have not attained the higher levels of faith. This is the incredible care that the Quran instructs the Holy Prophet(sa), and the Muslims, to take when saying whether another person is a Muslim or not a Muslim.

Verdict of the Holy Prophet(sa)

Acting upon this teaching, when a census was taken by the Holy Prophet(sa) in Medina, he gave the instruction as follows:

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ اكْتُبُوا لِي مَنْ تَلَفَّظَ بِالإِسْلاَمِ مِنَ النَّاسِ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَكَتَبْنَا لَهُ أَلْفًا وَخَمْسَمِائَةِ رَجُلٍ

It is narrated by Hazrat Huzaifa(ra) that the Holy Prophet(sa) said,“List the names of those people who have announced that they are Muslims.”CLICK TO TWEETSo, we listed one thousand and five hundred men. — Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Jihad, Bab Kitabatil Imamin Nas [])

No instruction is found here along the lines of: Ask them first what they believe about the finality of Prophethood. Or, check first if they are circumcised. Or, ask them first what they believe about the Promised Messiah(as), and so on. The criteria instead was simple: If they call themselves Muslim, they should be counted as Muslims.

Elaborating on the definition of a Muslim, the Holy Prophet(sa) once said:

مَنْ صَلَّى صَلاَتَنَا وَاسْتَقْبَلَ قِبْلَتَنَا وَأَكَلَ ذَبِيحَتَنَا فَذَلِكُمُ الْمُسْلِمُ

That is,“Whoever prays as we pray, turns to face the same Qiblah as us and eats our slaughtered animals, that person should be considered a Muslim”.CLICK TO TWEET— Sunan Nasa’i, Kitabul Iman wa Shara’ihi, Bab Sifatil Muslim []

Here, the Holy Prophet(sa) has expounded on the issue and taught us that if a person prays as other Muslims, has the same Qiblah direction as other Muslims, and eats the same halal food as other Muslims, that person is a Muslim. All these teachings give us a good framework in determining who is a Muslim and who is not a Muslim.

Who decides?

What we can deduce then is as follows:

  1. No ijma’ or consensus of the ummah is valid if it is against the above teachings found in the Quran and Ahadith
  2. A Parliament does not hold the authority to declare someone Muslim or non-Muslim
  3. A social media user does not hold the authority to declare someone Muslim or non-Muslim

The authority to declare someone Muslim or non-Muslim rests with Allah, or someone to whom Allah reveals His knowledge. We ask all those people who declare Ahmadis non-Muslim: Has God revealed to you and informed you directly that Ahmadis are not Muslims?

Questionnaire for Ahmadis

Now, let us assess if Ahmadis fit into the definition of a Muslim as declared by the Quran and Ahadith. Based on these sources, these are the questions that can be asked from Ahmadis:

  1. Do Ahmadis say, “We are Muslims”?
  2. Do Ahmadis say the kalima, La ilaaha il-Allah Muhammadur Rasul-ullah?
  3. Do Ahmadis pray like the other Muslims?
  4. Do Ahmadis have the same Qiblah as other Muslims?
  5. Do Ahmadis eat the slaughtered, halal animals as other Muslims do?

The answer of all Ahmadis to all these questions, is “Yes!”. Beyond this, no one has the authority to declare Ahmadis non-Muslim.

Posing as a Muslim

One point to be understood here is that it is alleged that Ahmadis are posing as Muslims, and are not sincere at all when they say that they are Muslim. Hence, their declaration should not be accepted.

It is important to note that nowhere in the above-quoted teachings from Quran and Ahadith is it mentioned that Muslims should start judging what is in the hearts of others regarding their faith. Nowhere is it stated that Muslims should judge what others are thinking or implying when they say they are Muslim. This matter should be left between that person and God.

In fact, during a battle, a companion of the Holy Prophet(sa), Hazrat Usama bin Zaid(ra) was in a duel with a disbeliever and overpowered him and as he was about to kill him, he said, “La ilaaha il-Allah” (There is no god but Allah). Assuming that he is now only declaring he is a Muslim in order to avoid being killed, and is not being sincere, Hazrat Usama(ra) killed him regardless. Later, he decided to seek advice from the Holy Prophet(sa) on this issue, and the Hadith is narrated as follows:

فَذَكَرْتُهُ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَقَالَ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَقَتَلْتَهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّمَا قَالَهَا خَوْفًا مِنَ السِّلاَحِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ أَفَلاَ شَقَقْتَ عَنْ قَلْبِهِ حَتَّى تَعْلَمَ أَقَالَهَا أَمْ لاَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَمَازَالَ يُكَرِّرُهَا عَلَىَّ حَتَّى تَمَنَّيْتُ أَنِّي أَسْلَمْتُ يَوْمَئِذٍ

Hazrat Usama(ra) narrates, “I mentioned this incident to the Holy Prophet(sa). He said, ‘Did he profess, ‘There is no god but Allah’, and even then you killed him?’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, he made a declaration (of faith) due to fear of (my) weapon’. The Holy Prophet(sa) said: ‘Did you tear his heart open in order to find out if he was sincere or not?’ And he went on repeating this statement to me till I wished I had embraced Islam that day”. — Sahih Muslim, Kitabul Iman, Bab Tehreemi Qatlil Kafir []

In other words, the Holy Prophet(sa) was extremely pained by this action of Hazrat Usama(ra) and expressed his displeasure to him repeatedly.

In light of all these teachings, we ask those social media posters who call us non-Muslim or accuse us of posing as Muslim:Is it not a requirement of Taqwa that once we hear that a person calls himself/herself a Muslim, we leave the matter to Allah?CLICK TO TWEET

See also:

Frequently Asked Questions about Ahmadiyya Muslim Community


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