The Ahmadiyyah movement (Ahmadi) is a sect in Islam which was founded towards the end of the 19th century in Punjab, India, and spread from there to different countries. Most members of the sect are centered in South-East Asia: India, Pakistan and Indonesia, and it numbers 15 Million believers.
The members of the sect preach enlightenment, peace, and brotherhood between nations and love of others. The Ahmadiyyah way opposes religious coercion, and therefore does not support spreading Islam through Jihad, "Holy War". They prefer placatory persuasion. The sect is named for its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835-1908), who, at the age of 40, announced that Allah has entrusted him with the task of renewing the Muslim religion and bringing justice and integrity to the world.
The Principles of the Ahmadiyyah obligate its believers to be loyal to their country of residence. A believer of the sect can not defy the laws of his country, so he can live in peace in this world. Muhammad Sharif, head of the Ahmadiyyah in Israel, explains: "As a citizen I am bound to obey Allah, the Prophet and those who lead the country even if you may not I do not approve of the leader". The Ahmadiyyah are forbidden from joining demonstrations, even ones on behalf of peace.
Faced with the traditional Islamic belief, that Muhammad is the Final Prophet, the Ahmadis maintain that even following his death prophecy still remained, and it was transferred to the founder of the sect and his students. The Ahmadiyyah sees itself as a global religion that is supposed to include not only Muslims, but also Christians, Jews and Hindis.
According to Ahmadi belief, Jesus was a man who was neither crucified nor transported to heaven, but was taken down from the tree by his students, traveled to India, where he died at the age of 120 in Srinagar, Kashmir. Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the sect, is in their eyes a reincarnation of both Jesus and Muhammad. He is the promised "Mujaddid". For his followers, he is the "Mahdi", a savior or a messiah, and there are those who see him as a prophet.
Once India split into a Hindu state and a Muslim state, the religious center was transferred to Pakistan. The movement was persecuted in Pakistan for years, and moved its religious activity to London. Today, centers of the Ahmadi movement can be found in many countries. During the hundred years of its existence, the Ahmadiyyah sect has managed to create a well organized movement, including missionary forces, educational institutions and cultivated religious centers, spread over many countries around the world: In Asia, Africa, Europe and America.
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