Depends on who you ask. Ahmadi Muslims around the world, unequivocally identify as Muslims. However, if you ask other Muslims you will find varying answers. Amongst their colorful responses, they will boldly say that Ahmadis are not Muslims or that they are imposters posing as Muslims. Similarly, the constitution of Pakistan declares Ahmadis as non-Muslim.

The question remains, what prerequisites constitute a person to identify as a Muslim. Are there specific teachings or beliefs one ought to adhere to? To answer these pertinent questions let’s analyze what the founder of the religion of Islam, Prophet Muhammadsa has said regarding this issue.

 

Expounding on the definition of a Muslim, the Holy Prophetsa stated:

 

مَنْ صَلَّى صَلاَتَنَا وَاسْتَقْبَلَ قِبْلَتَنَا وَأَكَلَ ذَبِيحَتَنَا فَذَلِكُمُ الْمُسْلِمُ

 

“Whoever prays as we pray, turns to face the same Qiblah as us and eats our slaughtered animals, that person should be considered a Muslim.” (Sunan an-Nasa’I, The Book Of Faith and its Signs, Chapter Description of the Muslim)

 

This narration presents three fundamental requirements one must prescribe to identify as a Muslim. Ahmadi Muslims unquestionably practice the three things mentioned in this hadith. They pray in the same manner as the majority of Muslims do, they face Mecca while praying and eat that which is Halal (food that is Islamically permissible to eat).

 

With such a clear-cut definition of a Muslim, why is the question of who is a Muslim a controversial one? Ahmadi Muslims believe in Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas to be the Messiah and Mahdi foretold by the Holy Prophetsa. Not only is he the latter-day Messiah rather God Almighty has also given him the status of a non-law bearing Prophet. Herein lies the crux of contention. Mainstream Muslims also await the latter-day Messiah who according to them will be Jesus son of Mary of Nazareth. The same Jesus who appeared in the world over 2000 years ago will descend and guide the Muslims. Keep in mind, that many Muslims believe that no Prophet can come into the world after the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. Because Ahmadis believe that the latter-day Messiah will be a Prophet, they are banished from the pale of Islam.

 

However, does adherence to such a belief warrant one to become a non-Muslim? Did the Holy Prophetsa consider it essential to believe in him as the last Prophet to be qualified as a Muslim?

 

Once, in Medina, the Holy Prophetsa enquired of the number of Muslims present in the area. Now did he ask them what beliefs or ideologies they held before they are counted as Muslims? No, he simply said:

 

اكْتُبُوا لِي مَنْ تَلَفَّظَ بِالإِسْلاَمِ مِنَ النَّاسِ

 

“List the names of those people who have announced that they are Muslims.” (Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Jihad, Bab Kitabatil Imamin Nas)

 

The Muslims present in Medina were not required to present any proof of identification to be counted amongst Muslims. If they simply professed to be Muslim, they were.

 

Thus it becomes apparent from the two narrations presented above that the criteria set by the Holy Prophetsa regarding the definition of a Muslim was a simple and clear one. Simply saying “I am a Muslim” was enough for the Prophetsa. But the question remains, is it enough for the Ummah?