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Title: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the construction of the Ahmadiyya identity
Author: Khan, Adil H.
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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The presence of Jama'at-i Ahmadiyya has reinvigorated the debate on Islamic orthodoxy in South Asia's Muslim mainstream. Assessing Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's career has been made difficult by the polarized nature of the questions surrounding his reputation, which oscillate between messianic saviour and antichrist, where one extreme represents pristine orthodoxy and the other represents a perverse infidelity beyond the pale of Islam. The pre-eminence of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad over his disciples, the esoteric ambiguity of his spiritual claims, the emphasis that he placed on internal and external reform, and the exclusivity of his early community of followers are all indicative of a medieval Sufi order. However, the advent of modernity and the politics of colonial subjugation influenced and shaped the development of an unexpected Ahmadi identity which evolved in an increasingly globalized world. The Ahmadi identity is not wholly based on Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's controversial claims, but is also a result of the socio-political context of the early twentieth century South Asian environment from which it emerged. British rule in India initiated a reassessment of Muslim institutions and an evaluation of Muslim political autonomy leading up to the partition. Jama'at-i Ahmadiyya's involvement in major political crises, such as the conflict in Kashmir, the partition of India itself, and the Punjab disturbances of 1953, gradually led to the politicization of Ahmadi Islam. As the notion of Ahmadiyyat became increasingly politicized, the formation of the Ahmadi identity evolved, and the dichotomy between Ahmadiyyat and Islam widened. This study traces the development of the Ahmadiyya identity from its Sufi style beginnings to a formalized construct that has the potential of shedding its Islamic origins altogether. As this process progresses, Ahmadiyyat may develop into a unique religious movement with a distinct religious identity that is separate from Islam.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral