In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Ahmadiyyah Movement

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Reference Resources
  • The Split of 1914
  • Aḥmadi Jihad

Islamic Studies The Ahmadiyyah Movement
Yohanan Friedmann
  • LAST REVIEWED: 02 July 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 May 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0004


The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam is a modern Muslim messianic movement. It was founded in 1889 in the Indian province of Punjab by Ghulam Ahmad (b. c. 1835–d. 1908). Having been accused of rejecting the Muslim dogma asserting the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood, the movement aroused the fierce opposition of the Sunni mainstream. During the period of British rule in India, the controversy was merely a doctrinal dispute between private individuals or voluntary organizations, but after most Ahmadis moved in 1947 to the professedly Islamic state of Pakistan, the issue was transformed into a major constitutional problem. The Sunni Muslim mainstream demanded the formal exclusion of the Ahmadis from the Muslim fold. This objective was attained in 1974: against the fierce opposition of the Ahmadis, the Pakistani parliament adopted a constitutional amendment declaring them non-Muslims. In 1984, in the framework of Ziya al-Haqq’s Islamization trend in Pakistan, presidential Ordinance XX of 1984 transformed the religious observance of the Ahmadis into a criminal offense, punishable by three years of imprisonment. The ordinance subsequently became an instrument of choice for the harassment and judicial persecution of the Ahmadi community. Following its promulgation, the headquarters of the Qadiyani branch of the Ahmadi movement moved from Rabwa, Pakistan, to London. In February 2009 the movement was headed by Mirza Masrur Ahmad, the fifth successor to the founder, who assumed office in 2003.

General Overviews

Studies concerning the Ahmadiyya have been done in different ways. Friedmann 1989 is based mainly on Urdu and Arabic writings of Ghulam Ahmad and his successors; it concentrates on the religious thought of the Ahmadiyya, tracing its main ideas—especially prophetology—to the classical Muslim tradition. Gualtieri 2004 is based on the author’s experiences living for some time among the Ahmadis in Rabwa, Pakistan. This book is based on observations and conversations with numerous Ahmadis. The author describes Ahmadi observance, society, institutions, and segregation of women and the nature of Ahmadi leadership. A chapter is devoted to the harassment and persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan. At times the author takes a personal stand on controversial issues in which the Ahmadis are involved. Lavan 1974 deals mainly with organizational matters and with the Ahmadi involvement in internal Indian politics. Simon Ross Valentine’s interest in the Ahmadiyya was kindled by living among the Ahmadis in Bradford, England. Part of his book (Valentine 2008) describes the author’s travel to India and Pakistan and his meetings with numerous Ahmadis. Of particular interest is the description of Srinagar, where, according to the Ahmadis, Jesus is buried. The author frequently takes a stand on controversies in which the Ahmadis are involved. Walter 1918 has the distinction of being the first comprehensive work on the Ahmadiyya in a Western language. In some chapters it engages in polemics against the Ahmadiyya and is influenced by missionary concerns.

  • Friedmann, Yohanan. Prophecy Continuous: Aspects of Aḥmadī Religious Thought and Its Medieval Background. Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies 3. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

    A history of the Ahmadiyya and its expansion. The idea of the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood in classical Islam. An analysis of the prophetology of the Qadiyanis and the Lahoris as well as Ahmadi jihad. Extensive bibliography and index. The second printing (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003) includes a new preface (by Zafrira Friedmann and Yohanan Friedmann) describing the developments after 1984.

  • Gualtieri, Antonio R. The Ahmadis: Community, Gender, and Politics in a Muslim Society. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.

    A description of the Ahmadi community in Rabwa, Pakistan. Based on personal observation and interviews in the 1980s and 1990s. No use of written sources.

  • Lavan, Spencer. The Ahmadiyah Movement: A History and Perspective. Delhi: Manohar, 1974.

    Concentrates on the history of the movement and its activities in inter-Indian politics.

  • Valentine, Simon Ross. Islam and the Ahmadiyya Jamaʾat: History, Belief, Practice. London: Hurst, 2008.

    A book by a “participating observer.” Only English written sources are mentioned in the bibliography. The book is at its best when describing the social norms observed by the Ahmadis and the persecution to which they are subjected in Pakistan and elsewhere.

  • Walter, H. A. The Ahmadīya Movement. New York: Oxford University Press, 1918.

    The first comprehensive book on the Ahmadiyya in English, with great stress on the movement’s relations to Christianity and Indian religions.

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