Abdul Ghaffar Janbah is the leader of an Ahmadiyya splinter and claimant of prophethood and Messiah-hood. He calls himself “Zaki Ghulam” and also the Musleh Maud. The phraseology, “Zaki Ghulam” was uttered by MGA himself in the famous Musleh Maud prophecy of 1886 and other utterances.
He seems to be in the UK and other parts of Europe, he recently held a Jalsa Salana in the UK in 2022. He fell out with the 4th Khalifa many years ago and even claimed that he would marry his daughter Tooba, in a weird way like MGA chased Muhammadi Begum.
I would like to start off with this: I have the utmost of respect for my parents. Although I do not agree with them theologically sometimes, I have nothing but appreciation for everything they have provided me with. Many of the things contained within are my own opinions however, I never state an opinion without at least providing one source from the Holy Qur’an, Ahadith or Ahmadi literature itself. My intention is never to offend any person’s beliefs and if you disagree with what I have written, you have that right.
This is an account about our experience with Jama’at-e-Ahmadiyya Islah Pasand. Note: AGJ stands for Abdul Ghaffar Janbah.
One afternoon, 3 years ago, my Mum was listening to a Friday Sermon of KMIV in which he spoke of the divorce of his daughter. My Mum was confused as to what the meaning of his speech was but allowed AutoPlay to continue to the next video. The next video was of a man (AGJ) claiming that he had told KMIV about some prophetic dreams that he had. KMIV told him that if he wanted to continue this line of enquiry, he would have to do it on his own and that he was thus excommunicated from the Jama’at. She sat there and thought “who is this guy?” Bear in mind, my Mum is blind, so she had no control over what comes on next. The next video had something to do with KMII and some very ungentlemanly accusations laid at his feet…
Days… Weeks… Months went by and my Mum was still listening to these videos. One night, my Dad confronted my Mum and said, “what on Earth are you listening to?”, my Mum replied, “you have to listen to this.” After a few minutes of listening to the video my Dad says, “what so you don’t believe that Hadhrat Musleh-Maoud was the Promised Reformer?” She said, “no that’s not it, but you have to listen to what this man has to say.” Then came the big claim that he made, “I am the Musleh-Maoud with whom the prayer of Hadhrat Muhammadi Maryam at Chilla Hoshiarpur was answered.” “WHAT???” said Dad. “He’s claiming to be the Promised Son? But Hadhrat Mirza Basheer-Ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad reformed the Jama’at as per the prophecy of Musleh-Maoud!!!” He told Mum to stop listening to ramblings of this Satanic person. That night, my Father had a dream about AGJ to the effect of him giving a sermon and Dad was sat on the ground listening, I don’t remember the details exactly. He had a similar dream the next day.
I want to say that my parents thoroughly researched his claims. But how do you research the claims of a man who hasn’t done anything yet? Could it be that he just found some loop-holes in the Ahmadi narrative and is exploiting them for his own gain? I want to briefly mention what exactly he claims to be. His most pedestrian claim would be that he is the Mujaddid (Spiritual Reviver) of the 15th Century AH. Okay that’s fair enough I suppose… (It gets a bit bookie from here on so put your seatbelts on). So, remember how Mirza Ghulam Ahmad received a revelation about a Promised Son? Yeah that’s him as well. But not only is he the Zaki Ghulam… as per that same prophecy it is told that this son will have messianic qualities, he is, as a result ‘Isa ibn-e-Maryam (the Second Manifestation of Jesus and the Messiah) as foretold in the Hadith. Okayyyy? I thought Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be that??? So, is he saying that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is a liar? Nope he says that his claims are in line with the writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Okayyy then what is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad? He never claimed to be the Messiah he was simply the Mahdi described in the Hadith about the latter days or was confused by the signs of these two people. I have discussed this further in the section titled- Analysis of Claims.
Moreover, he speaks of how KMII created the concept of Khilafatul Masih to establish a Gaddi Nashin (hereditary successorship). Before this, there sat a group that made executive decisions together (called the Anjuman) but at the death of the first Sadr of the Anjuman (Hakeem Maulvi Noor-ud-Din), the succession problem created a split in the movement of Lahoris (under Muhammad Ali) and Qadianis (under Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad). Of course, most people joined the son of the founder for the old Gaddi Nasheen traditions.
There are other supplementary claims, like the standard “Allah speaks with him” so that makes him a prophet too. He had a series of dreams in which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is walking with him in the gardens of heaven and told him to pray more and have taqwa. Allah informed him in one night during prostration about his fate. He says, something to the effect of ‘the Ghaffar that went into prostration was not the same Ghaffar who arose’. I believe this is a reference to the following Hadith,
It was narrated from ‘Ali that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“Mahdi is one of us, the Ahl-ul-Bayt. Allah will rectify him in a single night.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 4085; English translation: Vol. 5, Book 36, Hadith 4085)
Which doesn’t make sense because this Hadith is about the Mahdi and not the Messiah (he claims the latter).
I guess by the style of that last paragraph, you may have gathered that I don’t buy this. Well the last (almost) three years have been rough for me. In my own time, I had continued some research about Ahmadiyyat, but I was still following the same message. I thought that, “if Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is true, then I will remain in his Jama’at if it means paying the chanda, attending meetings and giving speeches in defence of the Khilafat”. No matter what I think of individual Ahmadis or my feelings about the glorification of Huzoor and his being surrounded by guards 24/7 and driving around in a supercar… These are simply the worldly rewards of leading a pious life.
The one piece of credit that I can give to AGJ is that he led me to a path of questioning Ahmadiyyat as a whole. My parents started to listen to his lectures and watched his Friday Sermons. They gained enough confidence to accept his Bai’at. My Dad attended an Islah Pasand Jalsa in the UK on his own. Along the way he managed to convert my grandmother, Uncle and Aunt to this sect. When my Dad came back, he told us stories about intellectuals in this new Jama’at. Around this time, I had been going through a bit of a crisis of faith, but I still respected Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as an extremely vital scholar of his age.
Later, I became a bit of a religious zealot and wanted to read the books of the Promised Messiah. In June 2018 I started with Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya. I finished parts I & II in one night (it is a very short volume). In these volumes, I found many references to three hundred incontrovertible, rational arguments for the divine origin of the Holy Qur’an which was just a bit annoying to keep reading if I am honest. These parts are like 137 pages long and part II is literally a preface to the entire rest of the book. Continuous mention of a Rs. 10,000 reward for anyone who can produce a book of the same standard seemed a bit ostentatious to me. Given that the quality or standard of literature is extremely subjective. If someone did, for instance, produce three hundred incontrovertible, rational arguments for the divine origin of the Baghavad Gita – I’m not so sure he would have given away his estate.
I was encouraged to visit Germany for their Jalsa. I flew there with my family. We visited his place and it was about 1am in the morning. It was like going to some distant relative’s house who you don’t know too well. This continued for an hour and then we left for the hotel. Around 9am we were dropped off at this centre and there were a few people there. Over time, this increased to 30 or so. There was this one older guy (I won’t name his out of respect for their privacy) who kept talking with me about how Ahmadis are so illogical etc. I felt like I had no right to be there. All these people had joined because they had extensive readings of the Promised Messiah. But all they talked about how great it is that I’ve joined the true Jama’at of the Promised Messiah.
There was a Q&amp;A session which was 3 hours long. When I was listening to the questions, it felt like the people asking the questions had full knowledge of the answers. One guy even asked about the Musleh-Maud prophecy and prefaced the question with something like “we already know the answer but…” So, I was thinking that this is literally an echo chamber to substantiate their pre-existing beliefs. This isn’t a very healthy kind of environment to be in. Though asking questions was very much encouraged, I wasn’t sure about the kind of response that I would receive. I was sat with my Uncle and I was speaking with him about his views. I said to him “I’m not so convinced about this stuff”. He said, “what do you mean?” I said “Well he’s saying that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Jama’at was messed up only like 6 years after his death. So, what’s the point in all of this?” he replied, “that’s a good point and started talking to me about Victory of Islam and how he is working on some plan to unite the entire Ummah.” I sarcastically said, “sure”. So, I got the courage to get up and ask him a question along the lines of:
“If corruption was spread thought the Jama’at of the Promised Messiah just 6 years after his death, then what kind of protocol or plan do you have in place so that after you, your Jama’at stays on the path of Allah, the Holy Prophet and the Promised Messiah?”
He said that my question was valid, and that these problems would continue throughout human life so long as Nafs (ego) continued to exist inside the people. So, Allah sends his prophets, but the problems are the fault of the humans who don’t receive clear instructions. I would say that his answer was honest. But really… hearing that, made me doubt religion more. Isn’t Messiah supposed to cancel the Jizya, break the cross and kill the swine? Don’t these people exist as signs for the end times? Isn’t the world supposed to end after the Imam Mahdi and Isa arrive? And yet the Imam Mahdi has arrived over a century ago and Isa himself is back on the Earth and all he is doing is posting YouTube clips about how the false Promised Son has loads of money and it upsets him. This is the kind of thing that puts me off prophecies. There is so much legroom to interpret, that any single thing could allow the prophecy to be fulfilled.
No one can doubt that the Jama’at had its Golden Age under the auspices of Khalifatul Masih II. But the glad tidings of a Promised Son problem that I had could not be reconciled to be honest. And I didn’t see AGJ as a suitable replacement.
So, AGJ claims to be the Mujaddid of the 15th Century. I cannot really dispute this because it is a kind of general claim that anyone can make if they focus their work on the “true Islam”. But it is also confusing because previous Mujaddids didn’t really claim to be such before Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This was something attributed to them after their deaths. Like “oh Shah Waliullah must have been the Mujaddid of the 12th century”. Perhaps there can be multiple Mujaddids in one age. Anyways, this is not falsifiable until we all die and find out.
Secondly, the 1886 announcement of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad states that the Promised Son will be from his progeny (tukham). AGJ claims this is a bit misleading because this means spiritual progeny (as opposed to physical). He justifies this by quoting the verse in the Qur’an:
“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (Qur’an 33:41 Ahmadi Referencing).
Which can be coupled with the Hadith in ibn-Majah which I will paraphrase: “…if [Ibrahim] had lived he would have been a Siddiq and a Prophet” (Ibn-Majah Volume 1, Book 6, Hadith 1511). He says that this illustrates that hereditary Prophethood in Islam has no basis. In the Mosaic dispensation a relative of the previous Prophet would usually take the mantle of Prophethood. An example would be the Prophethoods of Moses and Aaron (who were brothers). So, his apologists say that this proves that the Muhammadan dispensation of Prophets, mujaddids, Khalifas etc. cannot be hereditary because all the Holy Prophet’s sons died. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was merely the Muhammadi Maryam (Mary-like figure for Islam) who “gave spiritual birth” to the Messiah (AGJ). Surah Hud provides some insight into this idea as well,
“And Noah cried unto his Lord and said: ‘My Lord, verily, my son is of my family, and surely Thy promise is true, and Thou art the Most Just of judges’ (46) He said: ‘O Noah, he is surely not of thy family; he is indeed a man of unrighteous conduct. So ask not of Me that of which thou hast no knowledge. I advise thee lest thou become one of the ignorant (47).’”
Here, Allah consoles Noah that his son was not his family because he was a disbeliever and didn’t join his father on the Ark. And so a son is one that carries the legacy and not necessarily physical progeny. So, more definitions essentially. Again, this is not falsifiable so I will leave it at that.
The third claim is one that I can apply more analysis to because there are actual apologetics by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. AGJ’s most controversial claim is that he is the Messiah ibn-Maryam and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was confused about his actual claim. He takes this claim back and forth sometimes (he mostly calls himself Zaki Ghulam Masih-uz-Zamaan probably through not wanting to be scrutinised harshly by non-Ahmadi muslims). I find this to be quite ridiculous. The following passage illustrates that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had a full understanding of the concepts of Mahdi and Messiah. This is from a segment of Barahin V called “Laying to rest some doubts” which is a dialogue between Syed Muhammad Abdul Wahid (SMAW) and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad:
SMAW- “With regard to the Promised Mahdi, there are found in some ahadith words such as ‘from among the progeny of Fatimah’, and ‘from my progeny’, and ‘from among the people of my household’, and it is also written ‘his name will be my name, and the name of his father will be that of my father’. Please explain what is meant by each of them.”
MGA—“My claim is not that I am the Mahdi who conforms to the progeny of Fatimah, from my progeny, etc. Rather, my claim is that of being the Promised Messiah, and regarding the Promised Messiah, there is no statement of any muhaddith [scholar of hadith] that he would be from among the progeny of Fatimah etc. Nevertheless, at the same time—as every muhaddith says—I also say that all the ahadith regarding the Promised Mahdi are moot and suspect and not one of them is authentic. The degree to which fabrication has taken place in these ahadith has not taken place in any other hadith. During the time of the Abbasid Khulafa’ etc. the Khulafa’ were very fond of pronouncing themselves the Promised Mahdi. So, for this reason, some ahadith describe the Mahdi as being from the progeny of ‘Abbas and some from the progeny of Fatimah. There are some ahadith which also say that ‘He will be a man from my Ummah.’ But essentially all of these ahadith are not worthy of any trust. This is not just my word; all eminent scholars of the Ahl-e-Sunnah have been saying the very same. As opposed to these ahadith, this hadith recorded by Ibn-e-Majah is very authentic: there is no other Mahdi; ‘Isa is the very same Mahdi who is to come.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya pt. V: English Translation, Laying to rest some doubts, pg. 477-478, 2018)
Which is interesting in many ways: First, practically every hadith that you read about Mahdi being from the Ahl-ul-Bayt and the progeny of Fatimah is graded either Hasan (good) or Sahih (authentic). It starts to get problematic when the hadith about Mahdi become more detailed, that’s where they become da’if (weak). Second, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad uses the following to justify with a physical sign that he is the Promised Messiah and Mahdi:
“For Our Mahdi, there are two Signs which have never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth, namely, the moon will be eclipsed on the first night of Ramadhan and the sun will be eclipsed on the middle day, and these signs have not appeared since God Created the heavens and the earth.” (Sunan Darul Qutni)
We all know about this hadith. The hadith is talking about the Mahdi who, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad said, is a fabrication. But he says that the eclipses are a sign of his [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s] truthfulness. Okay but in Barahin V he says he’s claiming to be the Messiah and not Mahdi. “Isa and Mahdi are the same”. Yeah but you just said that Mahdi doesn’t exist. Furthermore, this hadith is attributed to al-Daraqutni.
What’s the problem? Well… it is historically well-known that Daraqutni contains many da’if and moudu’ (fabricated) hadith. This is not at the fault of Daraqutni himself as his purpose for writing his Sunan was so that there was a reference book for these kinds of hadith so they could be spotted. But this makes it very difficult to separate the authentic from the fabricated. Looking more closely at the hadith, the Holy Prophet states that this phenomenon “has not appeared since God created the heavens and the Earth” and that this is a sign for the Mahdi. Although total solar and total lunar eclipses in the same month are extremely rare, they have in fact occurred in Ramadhan (rarer still) and on the appointed days as early as 283 AH.
So, was there also a Mahdi present at that time? If the Mahdi is a fabrication, the attribution of this as a sign to MGA is illogical because it’s not a legitimate hadith according to himself. If the Mahdi is authentic, the attribution of this as a sign for MGA is still illogical because he claims to be the Promised Messiah and not the Mahdi. One could say that the classical scholars mixed up the two characters and this was supposed to be a sign for the Messiah, but that would require substantial evidence. Interestingly, I read somewhere that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad said that he would pay so many Rs. if someone could prove that this hadith is fabricated. It is impossible to prove whether someone said something if that person is not present to verify it. But if you have multiple accounts of someone saying something, then that is more reliable representation of that person’s speech.
Finally, there is a strange footnote in Haqiqatul-Wahi where Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claims that he is not of Mogul descent but is rather Persian and some of his grandmothers were Sayyeds (Haqiqatul-Wahi English translation, footnote 1, sub-footnote, pg. 103-104, 2018). Well, what is a Sayyed? A Sayyed is one who claims direct descent from the Holy Prophet through his grandchildren Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn who of course were the children of… Ali and Fatimah. So, a Sayyed is one who claims to be from the progeny of Fatimah. Here lies an inconsistency. He could have easily used this to leverage his claim of being the Mahdi. So why didn’t he? He, in fact, did in many ilham and announcements which you can find in books such as Tadhkirah and looking at the original sources in the books he wrote. My preferred strategy is to download a pdf copy in Acrobat Reader and searching for keywords such as “Mahdi”. A significant portion of Haqiqatul-Wahi is dedicated to refuting his interlocutors about why he is the Mahdi.
Essentially, there is a myriad of evidence which shows that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be the Messiah and Mahdi, though I am not so sure why he retracted this later in Barahin V. This shows, at least that, AGJ is in the wrong about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his supposed confusion. So there is a contradiction in his and in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s claims.
It is also said that Allah had told AGJ that he would marry KMIV’s daughter (the one referred to before) and if this didn’t happen then he would incur Allah’s displeasure. That’s why she was divorced according to him. So Muhammadi Begum pt. II. He also offered a Mubahila (prayer duel) with KMV & Co. and he was supposed to die or something (clearly didn’t happen). He also has a cute slogan which is “Freedom for All, Slavery for None”. He has written this book called Virtue is God which is supposed to be a response to Socrates’ Virtue is Knowledge idea. There is also a deadline on his reign to which he says he is going to unite the entire Muslim Ummah, live for a few years and then he will die in 2028.
Anyways, this situation had fragmented my relationship with my mum quite a bit, even though she means the world to me. There was constant guilt-tripping about not accepting the Imam of the Age and it had a terrible effect of my self-esteem. Though we are in a good place right now and we constantly talk about religion and Ahmadiyyat and there is a lot more understanding between us. My mum is nothing but a pious and god-fearing woman and I have the utmost respect for the extent of her belief, but I have to call out logical inconsistency when I see it.
I really appreciate the support (from the ex- and questioning Ahmadis) and the scrutiny (from the well-intentioned Ahmadis) I receive here. It really helps me to look at my arguments more objectively to make sure that I am being representative in my analysis of people’s beliefs. I apologise for the length of this post, some of the quotes were quite long and the narrative and explanations of my views were probably long-winded but that is just what learning to be a writer is like. I would like to leave you with the following quote and parting words:
We take our inspiration, not from the sky and the unseen, but directly from life itself– Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Truly the only certainty in this life is that we are born and will one day die.كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ. But what we do in between is how we are remembered after we are gone and it is critical to the legacy and values we leave to our children.
Peace be upon you and thank you for your readership.
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