Dear readers, this was an excellent posting that I saw on reddit. I would only like to add the FACT that MGA said that salvation was only through him, as he beefed with the famous Dr. Khan, who was an Ahmadi apostate. Dr. Khan told MGA that based on 2:62 of the Quran, anyone could achieve salvation, thus, believing in MGA wasn’t absolutely necessary. Dr. Khan was right, heaven or hell is up to allah, no one else, allah gives exemptions and exceptions as he pleases. This Dr. Khan saga led to MGA doing takfir on the whole world, MGA wrote in a private letter that Dr. Khan was an apostate, and that all Muslims had to follow MGA for salvation. Notice how Ahmadi’s don’t quote MGA on this verse. Ahmadi’s don’t follow MGA, they follow whomever their current Khalifa is. In the case of 2;62, the 2nd Khalifa agrees with MGA in that all people must believe in ALL prophets for salvation.
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The True Islam campaign (TIC) is a project by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at USA that aims to correct some of the most common misconceptions about Islam , as well as educate Muslims, non-Muslims and Americans of other faiths about the correct meaning of Islam. Let’s have a closer look at ‘Truth 9’ which claims that “True Islam is a religion that recognizes no religion can monopolize salvation”
The basic claim is clear: Islam does not claim to have a monopoly on salvation. Following other belief systems may qualify you for it as well. It sounds like a very modern, tolerant and inclusive way to look at religion.
I know that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (AMJ) disagrees with the mainstream islamic position regarding eternal punishment. I don’t believe that the Ahmadiyya position holds up to critical examination and it an interesting conversation for another day but not what I will focus on here. The questions for today are the following:
(i) Do the verses the TIC present in support of their claim in ‘Truth 9’ actually say what the TIC they claims?
(ii) Does the context of the source Qur’anic verses actually support the interpretation that the TIC is making?
(iii) Is the interpretation, proposed by the TIC actually in accordance with their own literature?
1) The claims of ‘Truth 9’
“True Islam recognizes that no one religion holds a monopoly over salvation. The Holy Quran clearly supports this belief as it declares, “Surely, those who believe and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians—whichever party from among these truly believes in God and the Last Day and does good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve” (2:63).
This verse demonstrates that it is not just Muslims who will receive the rewards of their good deeds. Jews, and Christians, and Sabians—those who are of non-Abrahamic religions—will all be rewarded for their good deeds and their faith. Indeed, it is impossible for Muslims to declare a monopoly on salvation when the Holy Quran clearly states that those of other religions who do good deeds will have no fear.” 
The claim, as highlighted by me, is clear. The Qur’an is saying that to gain salvation being a Muslim (i.e. a believer in Islam) is not a necessary condition. Apparently salvation is apparently available through other belief systems as well.
“The Holy Quran is likewise clear that God’s grace and mercy are His most powerful attributes: “God replied, I will inflict My punishment on whom I will; but My mercy encompasses all things” (7:157). Therefore, True Islam recognize that ultimately, God’s mercy will encompass all human beings, regardless of their faith. Indeed, True Islam teaches that if mercy were not one of the attributes of God, no one would be delivered.” 
Clearly, the TIC is claiming that this verse is applies to All humans, including Atheists and apostates like me.
2) A closer look at the context of 7:157
2.1 Here are the complete verses 7:157-158:
7:157 “And ordain for us good in this world, as well as in the next; we have turned to Thee with repentance.’ ALLAH replied, `I will inflict MY punishment on whom I will; but MY mercy encompasses all things; so I will ordain it for those who act righteously and pay the Zakaat and those who believe in Our Signs.”
7:158 “Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet, the Ummi whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel which are with them. He enjoins on them good and forbids them evil and makes lawful for them the good things and forbids them the bad things and remove from them their burdens and shackles that were upon them. So those who shall believe in him and honour and support him and help him and follow the light that has been sent down with him – these shall prosper.’ “
Given the content and context 7:157, the TIC’s choice of what to include in their quotation looks very odd. They have clearly left out important context for the half sentence they did quote. The part they quoted is a direct reply by Allah to the repentance in the sentence preceding it. That is crucial context. When left out, it changes the meaning of the verse. The verse is clearly talking about believers, people who pay zakat and who follow and honour Muhammad. In other words ‘Muslims’. It makes no sense whatsoever to claim that it includes all human beings, including disbelievers like me.
2.2. But… but it says, “MY mercy encompasses ALL things”?
Some Ahmadi apologists claim that since the portion of the verse quoted by the TIC uses the word ‘all’, they are then justified to expand the scope of the salvation offered as a promise to all humans. I don’t see any justification for making that leap.
The context of the verse is about Moses bringing back the tablets and his people worshiping a golden calf: 7:149 “And the people of Moses made, in his absence, out of their ornaments, a calf. …”
If you read that verse in context, it is clear that the point of the chapter is to emphasize the need for repentance and in God’s capacity to accept it:
7:154 “But those who do evil deeds and repented after that and believed, surely, thy Lord is thereafter is Most Forgiving, Merciful.”
7:156 “.… Thou art our Protector; forgive us then and have mercy upon us and Thou art the Best of those who forgive”
7:157 “And ordain for us good in this world, as well as in the next; we have turned to Thee with repentance. …’
So, what this part is actually talking about is God’s response to that repentance. God is willing to forgive term ‘all things’ even if the sin committed is as severe as shirk. The ‘all’ is referring to God’s mercy being able to forgive all sins. This forgiveness, however, is contingent on that repentance. It does’s not provide the blank check of eventual salvation to all human beings, including non-believers.
2.3. What about bismillah?
Another line of defense I have come across in debates about this is that the word used in 7:157 is رَحْمَتِي (rahmati) has the same triliteral root as words used in bismillah (“In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”.) The claim is that rahman and rahim there stand for ‘mercy comprehending the entire universe’ and ‘a mercy limited in its scope but repeatedly shown’. This meaning is apparently also being repeated in verse 7:157. Since the mercy granted by the first of those words in bismillah encompasses everyone including non-believers, they feel justified to expand the scope of the mercy granted in the verse to them as well.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that you have to ignore the rest of the verse and the context of the entire chapter. You have to ignore the emphasis on repentance and and and the turning away from the sins. Which once met, can cover any past transgressions. The verses clearly attach conditions to it which once met can cover any past transgression. Basing the interpretation just on the deconstruction of one word alone is to rip the word mercy out of its clear context.
The mistake made by the TIC is in their overruling a specific claim with a more general claim. Here a (simple) example to illustrate the point:
(a) everyone is allowed to enter my house
(b) only my friends are allowed to enter my room
There is no contradiction between those statements. (a) is a general rule (b) is me introducing an additional condition limiting the scope of (a) for a specific subset of (a). Ahmadi Muslim apologists for the TIC are basically arguing like this:
(1) statement (a) allows everyone to enter my house.
(2) my room is part of the house
\ Therefore everyone is allowed to enter my room.
To do this, is to ignore my modification of rule (a) with with rule (b). In my room the general rule of ‘everyone’ does not apply, even if ‘my house’ in a general sense would theoretically also encompass my room.
Bringing it back to the verse 7:157, it is simply not relevant what the scope of the word mercy is in bismillah. Or if according to it even atheists can enjoy some general blessings given by gods mercy. The real question is does that interpretation of mercy apply to salvation as laid out in this verse? The answer is a clear no. The mercy in verse 7:157 is a response, which has to be preceded by the condition of true repentance and has to be followed up with works and belief. Ignoring that context is turning the meaning of the verse on its head.
3) A closer look at the context of 2:63
Here is what Mirza Bashiruddin Mmahmood Aahmad (the 2nd Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) writes in his 5 Volume Commentary, p.127 -128  about this verse:
“The verse is important, and much difference has arisen about its real meaning. Some who are not in the habit of making a deep study of the Quran have hastily jumped to the conclusion that, according to this verse, belief in Islam is not necessary. They say that anybody, whether he is a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian or any other, who sincerely believes in God and Last Day and does good deeds will be saved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Quran emphatically declares in a number of verses that belief in the Holy prophet and his revelation is essential. Says god: Surly those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and desire to make a distinction between Allah and His Messengers and say ‘We believe in some and disbelieve in others,’ and desire to take a way in between, these indeed are veritable disbelievers; and We have prepared for disbelievers an humiliating punishment (4:151, 512). Again, And those who believe in the Hereafter believe therein (i.e. the Quran) and they strictly observe their prayers (6:32).
From these two verses it becomes clear beyond any shadow of doubt that according to the Quran (1) belief in the Prophets is part and parcel of belief in God. And (2) belief in the Hereafter includes Belief in God’s revelation as well. Elsewhere the Quran says, Surley the true religion with Allah is Islam (complete submission) and whoso seeks a religion other than Islam it shall not be accepted from him and in the life to come he shall be among the losers (3:20, 86).
This verse along with the two quoted above definitely proves that the objection mentioned above is entirely baseless and is born of utter ignorance of the real Quranic teachings. In fact, as explained in the above verses, the Quran confides itself to a mention of belief in God and the last days, not because belief in the Holy prophet and the Quran is not essential, but because the former two beliefs include the latter two, the four being essentially inseparable.”
I have not much to add to that other than that I agree with the Ahmadi Khalifa’s interpretation here. It completely and unambiguously debunks the claim made by the ‘True Islam Campaign’ in ‘Truth 9’.
4) Summary / TL; DR
The TIC claims in Point 9 that “True Islam rejects any type of a monopoly on salvation”.
They claim that the verse 7:157 would suggest eventual salvation for all humans. But as I have shown it is a classic case of contextomy. They are ripping part of the verse out its context and the narrative its embedded in. The TIC’s interpretation leaves out the conditions for salvation which the verse itself establishes.
The TIC also claims that verse 2:63 makes it
“impossible for Muslims to declare a monopoly on salvation”
But their own Khalifa, the late Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad, has already debunked that interpretation:
“Some who are not in the habit of making a deep study of the Quran have hastily jumped to the conclusion that, according to this verse, belief in Islam is not necessary. (…) Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Both of the aforementioned statements cannot be true at the same time. Either the interpretation the TIC gives “is entirely baseless and is born of utter ignorance of the real Quranic teachings.” Or the interpretation as given by the 2nd Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is not “True Islam” according to present-day Ahmadi Muslims.
5) Final thoughts
In this post I have shown that:
The verses presented by the True Islam campaign do not support their claims.
(ii) The content and context of the relevant verses negates the interpretation the True Islam campaign has is put forward.
(iii) The those interpretations promoted by the True Islam campaign have beenare called out and already debunked in the True Islam campaigners own Jama’at literature, by their second khalifa, no less.
Even if someone believes in a finite hell and maintains that the overall point the TIC tried to make can still be true, I do believe that it is worth thinking about the validity of the lines of reasonings proffered bys the TIC, and whether they are valid.
If I hold a belief, I don’t have to accept every argument that someone makes in support of it. The credibly of each arguments has to be assessed independently of my belief in the validity of the conclusion. To do otherwise is to feed one’s own confirmation bias. It would be working backwards from a desired conclusion instead of making an actual argument for the position I am proposing. One can make a bad arguments for valid statements.
I would encourage my brothers and sisters within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Ccommunity to look with neutral eyes upon the arguments presented. I would even argue that it is more important that the people who hold a belief try to ensure that the arguments that are being put forward are sound, well supported and and that they call out those conclusions which are poorly argued.
* Unless stated otherwise I am using the English Translation of the Quran by Maulawi Sher Ali from alislam.org and ‘the ‘Ahmadiyya Islamic numbering scheme for’ of Qur’anic verses.
** Format changes, like emboldening certain words, in quotes have been added by me.
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