Francis Robinson on Ahmadiyya

An extract from Francis Robinson’s essay – ‘Ulama of South Asia from 1800 to the mid-Twentieth Century. (Islam, South Asia, and the West, Oxford India, 2008, pp 69-70)

… “Context was also crucial to the formation of a particular piece of creativity in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Punjab, which came to from the Ahmadiyya. The province was a cauldron of change. Here Christian missionaries flourished as nowhere else in northern India. Here, too, there was powerful revivalist activity directed first against Christians and then against Muslims. All, moreover, took place against the backdrop of rapid economic and social change stimulated by the development of the canal colonies. The founder was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1859-1908) from an old Mughal service family of Qadiyan in East Punjab, who developed a passionate vocation as champion of Islamic orthodoxy against Christian missionary polemic and Arya Samaj Hinduism. As he strove to better rival missionaries he came to see himself as ‘at least’ a symbolic representative of Krishna and Jesus, as well as an Islamic Mahdi. In 1889 he proclaimed himself a minor prophet, with a messianic vision to rejuvenate Islam –‘the expected messenger of the latter days’. Of course, bitter opposition followed Ghulam Ahmad’s denial of the finality of Muhammad’s prophecy and eventually he and his followers seceded from Sunni Islam and prayed in their own mosques.

In fact, Ghulam Ahmad and his followers differed from Sunni Muslims on only three major points: in his inheritance as the spiritual prophet of the age that the only appropriate Jihad was not war but missionary work; in his claim to be the resurrected Jesus, in defiance of the New Testament and the Quran; and in his denial of the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood, which he explained by making a distinction between primary and secondary, or Mahdistian, prophethood. He was in a similar relationship to Muhammad, so he put it, as Jesus was to Moses.

Ghulam Ahmad certainly had some creative inspiration in coping with the challenges of the Punjab under British rule. He stole the clothes of rival religions and arrogated to himself a prophetic authority, which brought him and his successors great respect from their followers, whilst making them amongst the most hated and persecuted of those claiming to be Muslims. The Ahmadiyya, who are amongst the most highly educated of Muslims and vigorous proselytizers of Islam in over one hundred and thirty countries, are an extraordinary witness to what passionate believers will do to defend under dire threat their deepest convictions.”

Does anyone have Robinson’s essay “Ahmad and the Ahmadiyya” in pdf or a paywall-free link to this essay?

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