A Deviant Sect
A Deviant Sect
Founder of Deendar Anjuman had proximity with Lahori branch of Qadiyanis, argues YOGINDER SIKAND
THE Deendar Anjuman was founded by one Siddiq Hussain, born in 1886 Ballampet in Gulbarga, then in the Nizam’s Dominions. His family was known for its Sufi leanings, being associated with the Qadri Sufi order. As a young man, he developed an interest in various religions and in 1914, he joined the Qadiani sect, considered by Muslims to be outside the pale of Islam for their belief in their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as having been a prophet of God, thus denying the Muslim belief in the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood.
It is probably Siddique Hussain’s association with the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad which accounts for the curious mix of Hindu, Islamic and other doctrines that characterise the belief system of the Deendar Anjuman.
Having taken the oath of allegiance or ‘ba’iat’ in the Qadiani branch of the Ahmadis from the second head of the community, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Siddiq Hussain is said to have renounced membership of the sect in just a fortnight, accusing the Qadianis of being ‘kafirs’ for having accorded Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the status of a prophet. He is then believed to have moved closer to the rival Lahori branch of the Ahmadis, led by one Maulana Muhammad Ali, whom he is said to have been particularly close to at one time. The Lahori Ahmadis believed, in contrast to the Qadiani Ahmadis, that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was not a prophet but was a ‘mujaddid’ or ‘renewer’ sent by God to revive Islam, in accordance with a tradition attributed to the Prophet that God would send a ‘mujaddid’ at the beginning of every century to renew His religion.
In his ‘A’ada-I-Islam’, an Urdu tract penned in the 1920s, Siddiq Hussain clearly indicates his Lahori Ahmadi leanings. Seeking to appeal to Muslims of all schools of thought, he writes that he firmly believes that the 16th century Sayyed Muhammad Jaunpuri, considered to be the Messiah by the heterodox Mahdawi sect, was the ‘guide of the middle ages; that the 18th century reformer Sayyed Ahmad Barelwi was the ‘mahdi’ and the ‘hidden imam’ [‘imam-i-gaib’], and then refers to, as he puts it, ‘Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib rahmatullah aleihi’ as ‘the mujaddid of the 19th century’. While Siddiq Hussain thus appears to have shared the Lahori belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as having been a mujaddid, there is no clear evidence of his having actually formally becoming a member of the Lahori Ahmadi community. Indeed, since Siddiq Hussain claimed a grand spiritual status for himself, it is unlikely that he would have done so. In the ‘A’ada-I-Islam’, Siddiq Hussain writes that since ‘anti-Islamic forces’ had now begun to raise their heads, particularly in the wake of the shuddhi movement of the Arya Samaj aimed at converting Indian Muslims to the Hindu fold, ‘God had sent him in the form of the biggest incarnation [avatar] of the Hindus to make the enemies of Islam Muslim by proving the truth of Islam by quoting from their own scriptures’. This avatar, he claimed, was a form of Channabasaveshwara, the 12th century social reformer and nephew of the founder of the Shiva-worshipping Linagayat sect, Basaveshwara. He claimed to possess 56 bodily and 96 heavenly signs which he said had been predicted in the Lingayat scriptures in connection with the second coming of Channabasaveshwara. To the Muslims he presented himself as having been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad as the ‘leader of the people’ [imam-ul nas] and the ‘leader of all the peoples of the world’ [imam-i-aqwam ul alam], claiming that God had ‘elected’ him and his Anjuman to spread Islam. He declared that a tradition attributed to the Prophet, ‘I feel cool breeze coming from India’ actually referred to none but himself.
Seeking to win the support of the Nizam of Hyderabad in his project, he claimed that through heavenly signs [basharat] he had been informed that ‘Allah would appoint a king to assist him’, in the form of the then Nizam, Mir Usman Ali Khan. He announced a sum of Rs. 5,000 to anyone who could prove his claim as false. The Nizam, however, did not look favourably on him, and sentenced him to several spells in jail on the grounds that a book that he penned to prove his claims, ‘Deendar Channabasaveshawara’ was prejudicial to public peace and communal harmony.
Noting that many Muslim ulama had issued fatwas of infidelity [kufr] against him for his extravagant claims, Siddiq Hussain alleged a hidden Arya Samaji hand in the affair and even in the unsuccessful attempt of a Muslim youth to kill him. He declared that such fatwas could do him no harm as ‘Allah was with him’. He claimed that his Anjuman was carrying on in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions [sahabis] and so ‘would, like them, cause the rain of God’s mercy to fall on the entire earth’. They would, like the Prophet’s companions, be forced to face extreme oppression, but, in the end, would emerge victorious, and ‘would conquer the lands of the kafirs’. While the Prophet’s first followers were the ‘first party’ appointed by God to spread Islam [awwalin jamaat], his Anjuman, he asserted, had been destined to be the ‘last party’ [jamaat-i-akhireen]. He claimed that they were identical in almost every respect.