What is Ahmadiyya Islam?

Ahmadiyya Islam was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (c. 1839-1908) in Qadian, Punjab, India. Ahmad claimed to be the appearance of the promised Messiah (or, according to some sources, the manifestation of the prophet Muhammad as well as an incarnation of Jesus and the Hindu god Krishna).

Ghulam Ahmad taught that Jesus feigned his crucifixion and resurrection, then lived to be 120 years old in India, contradicting the orthodox Muslim doctrine that Jesus was taken up into heaven before his death.

Ahmad also reinterpreted jihad as a nonviolent battle against nonbelievers, using as its weapon the pen instead of the sword. These doctrines, along with the teaching that Ahmad was a prophet like Muhammad, have led Ahmadiyyas to be denounced as heretics by most of orthodox Islam.


Upon the death of Ahmad, Mawlawi Nur-ad-Din was elected as successor (caliph). When he died in 1914, the Ahmadiya group split into two groups:

  • Qadiani, who recognize Ahmad as a prophet; and
  • Lahore, who regard Ahamad only as a reformer of Islam.

Today there are about 170 million Ahmadiyya Muslims in the world. Qadianis reside mainly in Pakistan, where they are zealous missionaries for Islam and the two prophets Muhammad and Ahmad. Lahore Ahmadiyyas also seek converts, but more to Islam in general than to their particular sect.

Ahmadiyya Islam is also associated with several Sufi orders, most notably the Al-Badawi order of Egypt, named for an Islamic saint who died in 1276.

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