Written by: Al-Hafiz Yunus Omotayo
Religion is one of the oldest human institutions in the world. A functional perspective of the essence of religion is that it is institutionalized with the objective of directing and shaping the course of human life, experience and history towards the direction of human and cosmic progress, peace and development. As Dr Reisinger asserts, the foundation of major world civilizations are the major world religions [Yvette Reisinger, 2009:101] Thus, religion has been catalyst to the historical, social, political, intellectual and economic development of humanity.
The world has been a global scene of an array of religions ranging from Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam of both near and far-east Asian origins, to the African Traditional and the Australian Aboriginal religions etc. Within each religion, a spectrum of various religious sects, denominations and movements abound in every nook and cranny of the world’s socio-cosmic space.
Islam emerged on the global scene in the 7th Century AD as a world religion and a recrystalization of the ancient Mesopotamian and Abrahamic family of religious traditions. Muhammad bin (saw), the Holy Prophet of Islam, who is represented as the Seal of the Prophets [Quran, 33:41], is the recipient of the Holy Quran, the Divine Scripture of Islam, which embodies the teachings, laws and doctrines of the religion.
It proclaimed a mission that seeks to actualize what it christened as ihyaa al-ardh ba’da mautihaa i.e. a revolutionary renaissance of the cosmos, of all ramifications of human intellectual, religious, social, economic and political existence [Quran, 57: 18]. Likewise, it envisions a globalization of the world order of Allah on earth [Quran, 61: 10], as well as, a realization of both terrestrial and celestial paradisiacal existence for the human race [Quran, 55: 47]. Recognizing the weak nature inherent in humanity [Quran, 4: 29], Islam set about to explain and guide mankind to the best course of human life, history and destiny [Quran, 4: 27]. [Yunus Omotayo, 2018: 8]
At the culmination of the ministry of Muhammad, the Quran proclaimed the perfection of the Islamic religion, and the completion of the Divine providence upon the Muslim Ummah [world] [Quran, 5:4]. Notwithstanding, however, alongside this proclamation exists the various predictions about:  the inevitable occurrence of the splitting of the organic body of Islam into [at least, seventy three] sects and sub-sects; all of which would be hell-bound except one [at-Tirmidhi];  the decline of the Muslim world which would reach its lowest ebb in the latter days of the world [Mishkat Al-Masabih,];  the emergence of divine religious reformers at the head of every century [Abu Dawud], the coming of the Imam Mahdi and the Promised Messiah for the global revival and renaissance of the Muslim world. [Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, 1996: 305]
Any objective empirical assessment of the fourteen centuries history of the Muslim world would reveal to what extent the foregoing prophecies have found cosmic fulfillment. Indeed, the decline that has been existentially bedevilling all the ramifications of the Muslim world cannot be disputed. Similarly, the different and various sects and denominations that characterized the contemporary global world of Islam are well-known facts.
It is believed that, on the basis of Divine revelations, the fulfillments of the predictions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad [saw] and in the light of the prevailing socio-religious and economic and political decline that characterized the modern global Muslim world amidst the plethora of Islamic sects, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) in a small and remote village, Qadian, in the Punjab, India. [Mirza B. M. Ahmad, 2007: 5]. Proclaiming his divine appointment as the Divine Reformer long awaited by the Muslims, he declared that his Community has been established not as a new religion, but, as a global religious revivalist movement within Islam.
As Professor Louis J. Hammann noted, “The Movement originated when a devout Muslim, living in the Punjab, declared in 1889 that he was Mahdi and Messiah. This was the point at which experiences of revelation that went back to 1876, when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was 41 years old, came to a sharp focus. At that dramatic moment, a pious and devout personality reached a plateau of self-realization. From then to the time of his death in 1908, Hazrat Ahmad was the human and prophetic energy that led what his followers felt as the renaissance of Islam.” [Louis Hammann, 1985: preface]
What is the meaning and rationale of Ahmadiyya? Upon what vision and mission does it construct and justify its formation? Upon what fundamental Islamic belief systems and doctrinal and normative principles does it built its theology and jurisprudence? What points of convergence and divergence exist between it and the mainstream Muslim persuasions? What is its global demographic strength? What missionary structure and dynamism made it to be acknowledged the most dynamic and fastest growing religious movement in the 21st century? What internal organizational structure and strength have continued to maintain and sustain its global single organic structure as one community, one leader? What religious, social and humanitarian services has it contributed over the decades to the making of the sustainable peace and development of the global human family, world and history? Why is it, arguably, one of the most staunchly opposed and persecuted religious movements in the modern times? What are the global challenges confronting it? And, finally, what available prospects inspire its future development, progress, history and ultimate destiny in our eschatological world?
It is the thrust of this piece to critically assess the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the light of the foregoing questions with a view to highlighting for the Muslims in particular, and religious scholars, experts, academics and researchers, in general, to what extent the Community has or has not represented Islam as a relevant and important socio-religious world order, a constructive agent of human and global sustainable peace and development, and an embodiment of tremendous Islamic theosophical relevance for constructive intellectual or academic engagement in the modern times.
…to be continued!
About the writer:
Al-Hafiz Yunus Omotayo is a Hafizul Quran, an Islamic Missionary and the National Secretary of the Muslim Writers Guild of Nigeria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Whatsapp contact: +2348057437643
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