The Ahmadi issue Part 1: Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah versus Maulana Azad and Allama Iqbal

Pakistan may be too far along on the Ahmadi issue for there to be any meaningful change in our lifetimes. However it is our duty to keep repeating the truth.

Quaid-e-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah was the only Muslim politician in the history of the subcontinent to have taken a clear stance in favour of Ahmadis by stating that Ahmadis were Muslims because they said so. He said:


“I have been asked a disturbing question, as to who among the Muslims can be a member of the Muslim Conference. It has been asked with particular reference to the Qadianis. My reply is that, as far as the constitution of the All-India Muslim League is concerned, it stipulates that any Muslim, without distinction of creed or sect, can become a member, provided he accepts the views, policy and programme of the Muslim League, signs the form of membership and pays the subscription. I appeal to the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir not to raise sectarian questions, but instead to unite on one platform under one banner. In this lies the welfare of the Muslims. In this way, not only can Muslims make political and social progress effectively, but so can other communities, and so also can the state of Kashmir as a whole.”

“Mr. M. A. Sabir tried as hard as he could to persuade the Quaid-i-Azam to declare Qadianis as being out of the fold of Islam. But the Quaid-i-Azam stuck resolutely to his principle and kept on replying: `What right have I to declare a person non-Muslim, when he claims to be a Muslim’.

(23rd May, 1944,  Srinagar)

The Quaid refused to declare Ahmadis Non-Muslim and resisted tooth and nail the pressure that brought upon him to turn them out of the Muslim League.  For this he was called “Kafir-e-Azam” and abused publicly by the Ahraris who were backed by Congress leader Maulana Azad. The following pictures are from Dr. Ayesha Jalal’s “Self and Sovereignty” which show just how courageous a stand it was for Jinnah to have taken. It is a searing irony that the nation he founded has pretty much made a mockery of Quaid-e-Azam by doing the exact opposite.

FB-SelfSovereignty 3FB-Selfsovereignty 2FB- SelfSovereignty 1

 Pakistan today is not the country Jinnah wanted it to be. Its persecution of minorities – especially Ahmadis – goes against the grain of Jinnah’s ideas and principles that he set before the new state. Ironically Pakistan has adopted the thinking of Maulana Azad, who opposed tooth and nail the creation of Pakistan, on the issue. Maulana Azad, though not anti-Ahmadi in the sense that Maulanas are today (he had even written a balanced obituary of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of Ahmadi Muslim Sect), wrote the following lines in Zamindar:

“You enquire which one of the two Ahmadi groups follows the true path, the Qadian group or the Lahore one. In my opinion neither is on the true and right path, but the Qadian section has gone too far in its ghuluww, so far that the very fundamentals of Islam have been shaken; for instance, its belief that for faith and salvation the known and admitted doctrines of Islam are not now sufficient and that it is essential to believe in the Mirza Sahib of Qadian. But the Lahore group denies this ghuluww; it neither confesses a faith in the prophethood of the Mirza Sahib nor does it add any new condition to the conditions of faith; where it has stumbled is in the misplaced belief which it has created for the Mirza Sahib.”   (Maulana Azad in Zamindar 16 June 1936)

According to Azad the Qadiani section of the Ahmadis had shaken the very fundamentals of Islam. He thus contributed in large part to the debate that was continuing around the status of Ahmadis. It may be stated however that Maulana Azad’s dispute was a doctrinal dispute- at least he did not engage in direct vitriol against the community but it was the party he helped found – the Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam that upped the ante. Another contributor to this debate was none other than Allama Iqbal. Allama Iqbal interestingly had been even more closely linked to Ahmadis than Maulana Azad had been. His elder brother’s family was Ahmadi and so was his eldest son Aftab. In 1930s, Allama Iqbal nominated the leader of the Ahmadi community Mian Bashiruddin Mahmud as the president of the Kashmir Committee. Yet in 1935 or so something changed and Iqbal turned against the Ahmadis with a zealot’s passion. He recommended the excommunication of Ahmadis from the body of Muslims, a demand that was enthusiastically supported by Majlis-e-Ahrar. It may be remembered that Congress used Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam against the Muslim League by using the former to attempt to split the latter along sectarian lines. This they attempted by playing the anti-Ahmadi and anti-Shia card. Jinnah was presented as a godless westernized leader, a Rafizi Shia who patronized Ahmadis and communists.  The crucial link between Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam, Jamiat-e-ulema-Hind and the Congress Party’s leaders – Gandhi and Nehru- was Maulana Azad. Thus these two great Islamic intellectuals, Allama Iqbal and Maulana Azad, mainly for political reasons unleashed the anti-Ahmadi movement that culminated in 1974 in form of the 2nd Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution. The anti-Ahmadi sentiment had been largely a Punjabi undertaking. With the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, Punjabi Muslims became the majority in Pakistan.  Bhutto thus was literally driven into declaring Ahmadis Non-Muslim.

Coming back to Majlis-e-Ahrar though, it was very much the creature of Maulana Azad. Of late certain sections of liberals in Pakistan have begun presenting Maulana Azad as some sort of secular liberal icon only because he opposed the creation of Pakistan, forgetting that his net contribution to Indian Muslim thought was of an extremely conservative brand. He was with the Congress because all the conservative and religious orthodoxy coming out of seminaries were opposed to the salariat and western educated class leading the Muslims. Samina Awan in her seminal study “Political Islam in Colonial Punjab Majlis-e-Ahrar 1929-1949 writes on page 11 of the book that it was at Maulana Azad’s great insistence that Majlis-e-Ahrar was founded in 1929.  Initially their activities were benign, like picketing liquor shops and attack foreign cloth traders during Gandhi’s Salt March which they most willingly joined. Ataullah Shah Bukhari the leading light and close friend of Maulana Azad was arrested as was Habibur Rahman Ludhianvi during the movement. Rooted in the Khilafat Movement, Ahrar’s pretensions were that it was a progressive anti-imperialist party.

The particularly acerbic anti-Ahmadi phase of the Majlis-e-Ahrar started when All India Kashmir Committee was formed in 1931. It was headed by the leader of the Ahmadis, Mian Bashir Uddin Mahmud. In August 1931, the Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam consulted Maulana Azad who advised them to start a civil disobedience movement in Kashmir (see page 42 of Samina Awan’s aforementioned book). The reason behind this was to create a counter movement to All India Kashmir Committee. In building the momentum to the civil disobedience, Majlis-e-Ahrar began expounding its anti-Ahmadi narrative warning of a grand Qadiani conspiracy to take over Kashmir. Iqbal was the first casualty. He left the All India Kashmir Committee under pressure from the Ahrar. Ahrar was duly supported by the Urdu Press, especially Zamindar and Inquilab. Throughout this period the top leadership of the Ahrar party maintained a direct link with Jawaharlal Nehru through Maulana Azad (See page 73 of aforesaid book by Samina Awan). Apparently Ahrar’s President Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman Ludhianvi was deeply impressed by Nehruvian Socialism.

Ayesha Jalal writes:

“There was something peculiar about a ‘secular’ nationalist party counting on the vocal support of anti-imperial cultural relativists of Ahrar and Madani to claim a Muslim following. A spate of pamphlets published by Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and Ahrar delighted in exposing League’s lack of Islamic credentials, pointing to Jinnah’s emphatic assertions about Pakistan being a democracy in which Hindus and Sikhs would have an almost equal population. Substantiation that pro-Congress Muslims did much to weaken the Muslim League’s case on equal citizenship rights is the rejection by Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and Ahrar laity of any possible equation between a democratic and an Islamic government….Throughout the run-up to the 1945-1946 elections and beyond, Punjabi leaders like Shaukat Hayat and Mumtaz Daultana not to mention Iftikharuddin and Communists tried reassuring Hindus and Sikhs that their citizenship rights would be protected in Pakistan. They had considerable backing from the Punjab League and the Press.”

And then on bottom of page 457 and then on Page 458 Ayesha Jalal writes:

“Yet it (Ahrar) felt no pangs of conscience spreading sectarian hatred amongst Muslims. While Bashiruddin Mahmud was excoriated for being a ‘drunkard’ and a ‘womaniser’, Ahmadis were ‘warned’ that they would cease to exist once the British quit India. Mazhar Ali Azhar’s threat to restart the Madha-i-Sahaba against the Shias of Lucknow aimed ‘at retarding Muslim League by creating internal religious differences.’…  Hailing Dr Khan sahib’s Congress ministry as a step in the direction of Hukumat-e-Illahaya, Ahrar demanded more emphatic evidence of Shariat rule in the province. The Frontier Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind also claimed to be the only representative Muslim party. It believed that ‘Hindus and Muslims belonged to the same race” but it still wanted the Congress to sanction a department of Qazis to prove its Islamic credentials”.

Congress’s biggest Islamist supporter Madani did not attack Jinnah personally but attacked him for having supported the right to civil marriage between Hindus and Muslims and for watering down Shariat bills. On Pages 459-460 ibid Jalal says:

“He (Madani) recalled how the lawyer turned leader of India’s Muslims had consistently watered down Shariat bills in the Central Assembly. During the debate on Child Marriage Act, Jinnah had supported the right of educated Hindu and Muslim youth to contract a civil marriage. He had dismissed the contention that this was contrary to the principles of Islam, noting that laws were constantly being passed which ran counter to the Quran… Intrepid in the face of his religious opponents,,Jinnah’s attittude is a reflection of the crisis of moral authority in the Muslim community.  Hoping to lead it in some unison on the negotiating table, he was not ready to give quarter to men who could live the contradictions in the Congress but not with those of a political party trying to extract maximum benefits for Indian Muslims.

Congress’ unholy alliance with the Islamists and religious fascists with which its political ideas could not be reconciled is a fact of history. This had started with the Khilafat Movement where Gandhiji had chosen to reach out to the Mullahs instead of the modernists. Ahrar – as I have shown above- was a spin off of the Khilafat Movement. In the heat of battle Congress therefore was ready to use every Muslim organization that attacked Jinnah.  Unfortunately those who criticize  the Muslim League for resorting to the use of Pirs and Mashaikh in the elections forget that they were up against vilest of religious propaganda which sought to divide Muslims along sectarian lines. Ahmadis and Shias were thus acceptable collateral damage to the Congress.

The point of the aforesaid discussion is to show how the approaches of Azad and Iqbal were at complete variance to Jinnah who repeatedly refused to allow the Ahmadi issue become anything more than a doctrinal dispute. Iqbal wanted to declare Ahmadis a group outside Islam. Azad used Majlis-e-Ahrar in a move against the Muslim League but in the process encouraged bigotry against Ahmadis. It is therefore a tragedy that Pakistan has abandoned the path of Jinnah and has accepted Iqbal’s ideas and the politics of Azad’s minions.  India thanks to secularism of Nehru and Ambedkar has so far not allowed the discourse of Maulana Azad and his supporters become a part of the state and it was no doubt helped by the fact that Muslim Punjab does not for the most part form of a part of that country.

  • Majumdar

    Nobody sb,
    you would think its bigger than poverty, war, education, health, women’s rights combined
    Why dont you practise what you preach, sir? Why dont you write more often on education, poverty, healthcare etc rather than focus on censorship against Masadi sb (not that I dont deplore undeserved censorship against him)

  • calling the ahmedi issue in pakia “making a mountain out of a molehil”is equivalent to calling racial problems agains african americans in usa “making mountains out of molehills”. wake up dude. pakia KILLS ahmedis, tossing pregnant women into kilns, burning them alive. so get a better grip on reality…pakia is deft at transference of blame, conspiracy theories etc…but once folks like you begin owning up to the issues at hand, things may improve a bit. not something you are actually interested in ..,being a troll and all that. you only want to inflame and anger people. but for those of us who are more sane, this is something to consider. Pakia hates ahmedis, pakia kills ahmedis (jews and christians too). so do something worthy with your life and take up the cause for freedom of speech and religion in YOUR country.

  • You were doing great till you started cursing me.

    obscene language aside…you ignore the facts of what the ahmedis in your country must endure. the african americans in the united stateswhere YOU do not and never will live is a somehat similar story but also different in many ways.

    You yourself rabidly attack those who do not live in the country being discussed. Pakia IS being discussed here. You call the ahmedi issue “mountains being made of molehills”? laughable.

    yet you rabidly defend african americans who have no work ethic, live off welfare and any of them who strive to acheive greater heights are called “unkil toms” not only by their own but by the likes of YOU.

    how sad.

  • Skeptical Inquirer

    Well, if Ahrar was founded at Maulana Azad’s behest, and its later characteristics is the fault of Azad, then Pakistan was formed at Jinnah’s behest, and its later characteristics are the fault of Jinnah.

  • yasserlatifhamdani

    “later characteristics”

    It isn’t “later characteristics” if it is something that Ahrar engages in from the get go while getting advice from Azad in the main. Azad was in the picture when Ahrar started the anti-Ahmadi movement in 1931… Azad was in the picture when Ahrar started the Madh-e-Sahaba movement… Azad did not ask them to stop.. in fact Azad aided them and encouraged them and even advised them on how to conduct civil disobedience movement.

    So this stupid argument that you are trying to pull shows that you haven’t even bothered to read before mouthing off like an idiot.

  • massadi, you poor fool. You have never been able to do anything other than being a schoolboy, age 50 and still the schoolyard schoolboy bully. You speak like a poor beggar guttersnipe. There is no evidence of education in your words or your spewings. You are a bitter, hate filled, enraged psychophant with delusions of gradeur. PHD? bullshit! you can take the guttersnipe out of the gutter but a guttersnipe remains…a guttersnipe. You are a filthy obscene uninformed uneducated example of the very worst of mankind. Continue your masadi-rabid-monkey dance as you will. you seem to enjoy making an international utter fool of yourself and you do provide those of us who know better with astonished amusement. Carry on. Literally. do your dance please!

  • hahaha massadi! NEVER have i been fired from a job. You, on the other had, have been fired form every “job”, part time even as it may have been. You are a low class wheedling, whining, excuse-making, lazy assed Poor me excuse for a human who cannot engage in any sort of conversation or debate without respeting to gutter talk. thats because you came from the gutter, you belong in the gutter and have no ability to rise from the gutter.

  • hahaja…you are a goat.

  • Son, at least I can and have procreated. You on the other hand,,,literally and with your doggie, well there we are.

  • is that a promise dude???

    yourhours are lmited on dbb. get yourbest shots in now! then come back here to beg. you pathetic loser!

  • CM

    Indian Muslims upset after PM Modi sends greetings to Muslims
    In an odd move Indian Muslim leaders have criticized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sending greetings to Muslims.


    In a letter written on 21st December 2015 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for its religious tolerance and universal brotherhood. He wished success to ‘Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya Centenary’ celebrations which are taking place in Qadian this month. Thousands of Pakistani Ahmadis are also taking part in the celebrations.


    In his letter PM Modi said:


    “It is a matter of pleasure to know that Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya Centenary will be celebrated at its headquarters Qadian Dist. Gurdaspur, Punjab and a souvenir is being published to mark the occasion. I wish success to the centenary celebration”.


    Indian Muslim leaders which include Member of the Indian Legislative Council (MLC) have criticized Modi for congratulating the Ahmadiyya Muslims. Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmed, MLC and President of Jamiat Ulama Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in a statement said:


    “This has hurt the sentiments of Indian Muslims. If Modi thinks Ahmadiyya’s are Muslims then he has to correct himself. Ahmadiyya’s are not Muslims and it is the decision of Muslims world over”


    Hafiz Shabbir (MLC) added:


    “This is strange. In the last two years Prime Minister Modi has never issued any congratulatory message to Muslims on the occasion of Eid and other Muslim festivals. But, he has sent a letter wishing success to Ahmadiyya community”


    India has a huge Ahmadiyya Muslim population which is spread across Kerala, Rajasthan, Odisha, Haryana, Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and in Qadian, Punjab.


    Mainstream Muslims consider Ahmadiyya Muslims to be heretics and in neighboring Pakistan they were declared non-Muslim in 1974, However under Indian Law the Ahmadis are regarded as Muslims.

  • ali haider

    janab rhr/hellturd saheb aaj kaalchakra aur mohan kahan hain.yeh sawal mehdi raza ne poonche hain.naqvi saheb bhi in dono ke liye preshan hain.

  • Sajawal Bhatti

    Never thought to read such a conclusive and narrative changing article in Pakistan. I have been illuminated in way that i m beginning to see the other side of the picture.. Mr. Azad thought be a modest leader was just as others who used and manipulated region for personal gains..
    On the other hand my love for Mr. Jinnah has even deepend.. His foresightedness and vision was crystal clear i pity those wo r still unable to understand him and who willingly diluted his vision and narrative..
    Time is a ruthless Judge who has already given it’s verdict that whose stance was the right one either it’s religious or political..
    One cannot forget to admire the work the writers of the books who searched and worked tirelessly to bring such harsh truths for the commoners like me. They have enlightened us with a sort of forbidden knowledge which could help us gain enlightenment..
    Hat’s off to all..