About the Author(s)

Moh Dahlan Email symbol
Department of Aqeedah and Islamic Philosophy, Post Graduate Program, State Institute of Islamic Studies, Institut Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN), Bengkulu, Indonesia


Dahlan, M., 2021, ‘Islamic sharia reform of Ahmadiyah sect in Indonesia’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 77(4), a6396. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6396

Original Research

Islamic sharia reform of Ahmadiyah sect in Indonesia

Moh Dahlan

Received: 22 Nov. 2020; Accepted: 06 Mar. 2021; Published: 18 June 2021

Copyright: © 2021. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Problems with the decline of Muslims have made the Ahmadiyah sect aware of the need to reform Islamic sharia. The purpose of the study was to reveal the problem of Islamic sharia reform in the Ahmadiyah sect. This study used scientific theory of Jurgen Habermas and content analysis techniques. This study indicated that the Ahmadiyah sect has difficulty in reforming Islamic sharia because it sought to develop Islamic religious sciences that can be embraced and used by majority of Muslims in Indonesia, but used the textual ijtihād paradigm. Even though, in the paradigm of social life (ḥifẓ al-nafs), the Ahmadiyah sect has succeeded in eliminating Muslims from setbacks and backwardness and building a life of peace and harmony in the social life diversity in Indonesia, but in the paradigm of religious life (ḥifẓ al-dīn), the Ahmadiyah sect was still a matter of contention in the Islamic world and Indonesia.

Contribution: This study proposed that the Islamic sharia reform of the Ahmadiyah sect should be based on the critical ijtihād paradigm that attempted to explain and view the Islamic sharia norms in a discursive manner and could be accepted by all those who want to use them whilst also depending on the principles of Islamic sharia.

Keywords: reform; Islam; sharia; ijtihād; Ahmadiyah.


The modern era that emphasized the significance of reason [‘aql] could not fully remove the position of religion and guidance of the revelation as the inner aspect of human. The view of science indicated that in the modern era, human beings who lived a secular life were not valid. The secular way of life was seen negatively. With few exceptions, the modern era still requires the values of religious norms (Krämer 2013; Dalhat 2015; Hanafî 2004; Leahy 2005; Mbamalu 2012).

The reality of life indicated that religion, including the Islamic sharia norms as an inner aspect of human beings, cannot be erased. The position of Islamic sharia has been increasingly influential since the rise of Islam, which started in the middle of the late 19th century and has been continuing to increase in the form of Islamic sharia reform movement from the early 20th century to present. Amongst several forms of the Islamic (sharia) movement, there are liberal, fundamentalist, conservative, puritanical Islamic movements (Muhtador 2018; Zulkarnain 2005).

Ahmadiyah, as one of the religious reform movements, was born in the late 19th century against the regression of Indian Muslims in the fields of religion, politics, economy, social relations and so on, especially after the outbreak of the Indian Revolution in 1857, which ended in the British victory. In the Ahmadiyah movement, Wilfred C. Smith also considered Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s movement as a theological movement. Meanwhile, Gibb included the movement of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad into intellectual movements, even though his intellectual aspects were not dominant in the Islamic world. Thus the intellectual aspects of the Ahmadiyah only figure out a little of liberal hue (Zulkarnain 2005).

The Ahmadiyah sect that was born in India and spread almost to the whole world, including Indonesia, has an agenda of Islamic sharia reform to answer the realities of Muslim life, which was in decline. The spread of Ahmadiyah to Indonesia included the sect of Qadian Ahmadiyah and Lahore Ahmadiyah. Even though they emerged from the same root, i.e. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad‘s teachings, these two sects have fundamental differences, namely the recognition of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet for the sect of Ahmadiyah Qadian and as a reformer [mujaddid] for the sect of Ahmadiyah Lahore (Purohit, 2016; As’ad, 2009). Although they have fundamental differences, these two sects have been the same goal of struggle, namely to reform the Islamic sharia, which was achieved by repositioning the relationship between the principles of Islamic sharia and the realities of Islamic sharia in responding to the plurality of people’s life problems. The Islamic sharia reform has increasingly important meaning if we associate it with the condition of Indonesia as a religious nation whose ethnic composition is very diverse (Abdullah 2014; Razzaq 2005; Syahid 2003; Usman, Shaharuddin & Abidin 2017; Zulkarnain 2005).

The issue of religious diversity has been called on religious people to develop a pattern of life that could establish an environment of shared interest and good cooperation among religious adherents. For this reason, Islamic sharia reform is very urgent to be carried out and developed in Indonesia (Gunawan 2015). One of sect reformers that exist amongst Muslims is Ahmadiyah sect whose existence is still controversial in Indonesia. The researches in Ahmadiyah sect tend to fall into two categories: Firstly, the Ahmadiyah sect as a spiritual–theological religious movement has formed the paradigm of the caliphate, which came to the conclusion that the title of the caliph comes from Allah with a mandate to unite the people of the world (Fadli 2007; Muhtador 2016). Secondly, the Ahmadiyah sect has been considered as a heretical sect, an infidel, an enemy of Islam and a traitor of Islam, such that the Ahmadiyah sect has often attracted threats and acts of abuse or violation (As’ad 2009; Irawan 2017; Noor, Syamsiyatun & Banawiratma 2013; Ummah 2016).

Departing from the description, this study seeks to answer three questions. Firstly, what is the historical root of Islamic sharia reforms in the Ahmadiyah sect? Secondly, what is the ijtihād paradigm of Islamic sharia in the Ahmadiyah sect? Thirdly, how has the Ahmadiyah sect retained its existence in the plurality of religious and social life in Indonesia?


Literature review

The word ‘sharia’ was originally understood as ‘the way to the source of water’ or ‘the way of a good life’. According to Mahmoud Shaltout sharia is a law that has been established by Allah, which is intended for all His servants to be obeyed. Moreover, Muhammad Sa’id al-’Ashmawi and Yûsuf al-Qardlâwî understood Islamic sharia as a rule of law contained in the Qur’an and Hadith. In addition, An-Na’im (2008) argued that sharia is ‘the product of a very slow, gradual, spontaneous process of interpretation of the Qur’an, and collection, verification and interpretation of Sunna during the first three centuries of Islam’. Sharia is therefore the product of a historically human ijtihād that is based on the Qur’an and the Hadith. Even Ibn Taymiyyah argued that sharia is a complete formula of sufistic, philosophical, theological and legal truth (Ahmad & Amri 2019; Anjum 2012; An-Na’im 1998, 2021; Sirajuddin & Dahlan 2015). Thus, this research uses the sharia terms that refers to Islamic theology and law.

Ijtihād objectives

The reform of Islamic sharia is part of the ijtihād initiative. Ijtihād as independent inquiry is the sincere endeavour of the mujtahid [religious expert] to reform Islamic sharia materials from the religious texts of the Qur’an and the Hadith. The Islamic sharia that was referred to the Islamic theology in line with ḥifẓ al-dīn [paradigm or protection of religious life] and the Islamic law in line with the ḥifẓ al-nafs [paradigm or protection of social life] contained the objectives of sharia [maqāṣid al-ṣarīʿah]. Thus, ijtihād was the only way to support Muslims in getting public welfare [al-maṣlaḥah al-‘amm] and save Muslims from the decline of Islamic thought and life (Rahim & Rahim 2014; Meirison 2019; Rahmi 2018; Toriquddin 2013).

Meanwhile, the reform of Islamic sharia thinking still basically depends on the approach used. If the ijtihād approach is only based on the religious texts of the Qur’an and the Hadith, the ijtihād will give rise to sharia’s views, which are exclusive (Abdullah 2000). At the same time, the ijtihād approach, focused purely on intellectual argument, would give rise to liberal and secular thinking (Thompson 1983). The ijtihād paradigm in Islamic sharia reform aims to answer the problems of Muslims. Thus, the ijtihād paradigm of Muslim scholars should be able to distinguish between sacred and profane norms of the Qur’an and the Hadith. This has not only a textual meaning, as in the traditional Islamic sharia, but also a contextual meaning, as in the modern Islamic sharia (Ali 1987; Mulyati 2019).


In the principles of Islamic sharia, prophecy is an event brought on by natural causes, in which the prophet engages involuntarily and passively. Prophethood derives from grace and spiritual qualities that cannot be achieved through work. The prophets are a class that transcends common people. The prophets have a sense of direction and guidance that is beyond all normal intelligences, and the prophets direct and rule through the superiority of God. Prophets have the power to transcend their own existence to the level of angels, and then to carry them back to the human world, so that they are safe from error. The prophets, thus, received revelations from Allah the Almighty, whilst common people could only receive inspiration. These are the principles of Islamic sharia (Munawir 2014).

Research method

This research approach used the scientific theory of Jurgen Habermas, which is classified into three categories: analytical–empirical science, historical-hermeneutical science and critical science (Habermas 2006; Murphy & Fleming 2009; Safrudin 2004). From Habermas’ theory, the textual ijtihād paradigm is reflected in analytical–empirical science and the critical ijtihād paradigm is reflected in critical science.

This study used library research, and the main source was the research on Ahmadiyah in the form of books, articles or other written works, whilst the secondary source of this research was scientific articles that supported the topic of this research and it was complemented by supporting data from interviews with relevant figures.

In addition, this research used the content analysis technique to explain and analyze the historical roots and the ijtihād paradigm of Ahmadiyah’s sharia reform in resolving the problems of religious and social life in Indonesia.


The historical roots of Islamic sharia reform

Historically, the history (sharia) of Islam as a civilisation reached its peak under the Abbasid caliphs, 200 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad. After that, Islamic civilisation then experienced a retrogression continuously. Likewise, the destruction of the political system in Islamic countries has a close relationship with the frozen civilisation of Islamic sharia thought. This happened at least amongst Sunni Muslims. Islamic sharia scholars stated that the interpretation of the Qur’an and the Hadith, as source of Islamic sharia norms had been completed, original thinking was no longer needed and the door to ijtihād was no longer needed and this condition caused the retrogression of Muslims. However, the efforts to respond to the Muslim conditions were then born in the 18th century by Shah Walī Allāh. Shah Walī Allāh lived in the Indian empire, which experienced destruction after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. Aurangzeb’s attempt to establish a traditional Islamic State turned out to be a failure, and it gave rise to hostility and resistance amongst Hindus (Mortimer 1982; Schneier 2016).

The failure of Indian Muslims required to carry out a more comprehensive Islamic sharia reform in various aspects. Ijtihād as the principle of the Islamic sharia reform movement was needed not the four traditional Islamic schools of thought. In ijtihād, the principles of Islamic sharia had not changed, and what has changed was only the special rules. Therefore, Shah Walī Allāh invited Indian Muslims to be able to connect directly with the Islamic world and avoided the hegemony of traditional sharia scholars (Asmawi 2013; Dahlan 2009; Mortimer 1982).

The idea of Islamic sharia reform was then continued by Ahmad Khan. Aside from being an Islamic modernist, he also placed himself as a mediator with Britain. In April 1869, he visited and saw an advanced source of British power in the fields of education, science, technology, society, morality and spirituality. Therefore, he tried to reform Islam from ancient religion to modern religion. Ahmadiyah was born as a reaction to the existence of Muslims in an Indian state, which had suffered defeat in various aspects because of Western imperialism. After the Indian state became a British colony, Muslims were increasingly isolated from public life whilst practicing traditional Islamic sharia, which was no longer relevant to the actual situation. Even the existence of the Mutiny revolt in 1857 had made the existence of Muslims worse (Dahlan 2009; Hourani 1983; Mohomed 2012; Mortimer 1982; Stepanyants 2020).

The rebellion was the background to the birth of the Ahmadiyah. Ahmadiyah started in India during the late 19th century when Muslims were in the decline of various aspect, i.e., poverty, superficial understanding of Islam, religious leaders’ elitism, and so forth. As an Islamic religious movement, Ahmadiyah had initiated Islamic sharia reform to resolve the life-related problems of Muslims in decline. In that context, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who claimed to be appointed as al-Mahdi was morally responsible for the Islamic sharia reform movement by giving a new interpretation of the religious texts of the Qur’an and Hadith (Zulkarnain 2005; As’ad 2009; Muhtador 2018; Khan 2001).

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the founder of the Ahmadiyah movement had a motivation to save Muslims from internal difficulties in the form of defeats and external challenges in the form of missionary campaigns and propaganda of other religions against the Islamic religion. Moreover, the condition of Muslims was also worsened by the existence of religious leaders who did not have militancy in advancing Islam, even they only used Islam as a tool for personal and material interests. In the early days of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s life, the moral, social and political conditions of Muslims, especially religious leaders, were not sincere in carrying out their religious duties, but they practiced Islamic sharia because of material encouragement, for example, the religious leaders were not sincere in performing their responsibilities as imams; they were more concerned with obtaining a living (Burhanudin 2005).

The presence of Ghulam Ahmad as a ‘saviour’ has opened the door to the critique of the errors of religious leaders. However, in fact, throughout the Islamic world and also in Indonesia, the Ahmadiyah sect is still considered as a deviant sect considered to be not in accordance with Islamic sharia teachings. The Council of Indonesian Religious Scholars (Majlis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) as a religious organisation has been responsible for offering fatwas to clarify the Ahmadiyah sect through the Second National Conference of the MUI on 26–29 July 2005. Religious Scholars issued a fatwa reaffirming the 1980 fatwa and decision on Ahmadiyah as a sect not in accordance with Islamic (sharia) teachings. Nevertheless, in the fatwa, the MUI has been calling on people who have already joined the Ahmadiyah sect to return to the true Islamic teachings [al-rujū’ ilā al-ḥaq] in line with the principles of Islamic sharia. Even though MUI issued a fatwa stating that the Ahmadiyah sect was a deviant sect not in accordance with Islamic teachings, but in carrying out the execution, the fatwa did not justify any form of action that harmed other parties (As’ad 2009; Hanson 2007; Khalik 2015; MUI 2017; Wahid 2018). The results of the interview with H. Rohimin ([Chairman of the Council of Indonesian Religious Scholars, Bengkulu Province] pers. comm., 25 December 2020) showed that the Ahmadiyah sect is an Islamic religious movement that has not been recognised by the majority of Indonesian Muslims because of their belief in the prophecy of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his revelation (Temp.co 2011).

The Ijtihād paradigm of Islamic sharia

The anthropocentric Islamic theology [Aqeedah] is meant to demonstrate that the holy virtues of Allah the Almighty need not only became a concept of human minds and souls to worship and defend God alone but also the concept of faith that must be expressed in human beings who then give rise to a movement to protect the rights of human life, so that the objectives of Islamic sharia are to protect religious life [ḥifẓ al-dīn] and social life [ḥifẓ al-nafs] that could be achieved at once (Al-Ghazali 1907; Azwar 2016; Zatadini & Syamsuri 2018).

In the paradigm of religious life [ḥifẓ al-dīn], the attributes of Allah that were reflected in Prophet Muhammad had become the fundamental faith doctrine of the sect of Ahmadiyah Qadian and Lahore. Even so, the Ahmadiyah Qadian and Lahore sect had some differences in opinion regarding the prophetic issues (As’ad 2009). The sect of Ahmadiyah Qadian stated that prophethood is classified into three groups: (1) tasyrī’i prophets, namely prophets who carry out sharia such as Muhammad, (2) the Prophet mustaqil ghair al-tasyrī’i, namely the servants of Allah who became prophets and following the previous prophet, such as the Prophet Harun and (3) the Prophet zhilli ghair at-tasyrī’i, namely the servant of God, who received the blessing from Allah, became a prophet purely out of loyalty to the previous prophet, and also because he practiced his sharia. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the third type of prophet who obeyed the sharia of Prophet Muhammad. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s prophecy did not bring a new sharia, it recognised the existing sharia only, which was the sharia of the Prophet Muhammad. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, therefore, acted only as a continuation of what the Prophet Muhammad has brought. Ahmadiyah’s belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s prophecy has been different from that of the mainstream Indonesian Muslims (Nuruddin 2016; Supardi 2019).

Moreover, the sect of Ahmadiyah Lahore split prophethood into two groups: Firstly, essential prophets (the syar’i prophets), namely the servants of Allah who gave and carried out the sharia, such as Moses and Muhammad. Secondly, lughawi prophet had many similarities with the prophets, namely prophet who received the revelation, but the sort of revelation was different from revelation of the syar’i prophets. The revelation of lughawi prophet did not contain new sharia. Lahore Ahmadiyah, therefore, said that anyone who became lughawi prophet was called a mujaddid (Noer 1995; Supardi 2019; Hanson 2007).

In the paradigm of religious life [ḥifẓ al-dīn], Mirza Ghulam Ahmad reopened the closed door of revelation (Supardi 2019). He said:

Do not assume that divine revelation may not occur in the future, except that revelation that applied in the past (Sharia ends in the Qur’an, but revelation does not end. Since a living religion is characterized by the continuation of revelation, a religion whose revelation lineage is unsustainable is extinct, and God is not with it) don’t believe that the Holy Spirit cannot come down in the moment and it did not happen only in the past. (n.p.)

Therefore, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad used three main words: ru’ya [a condition that is similar to a dream], kasyaf [a state of consciousness] and wahyu [a state of half asleep]. From Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s thoughts, it could be clarified that revelation was divided into five groups, namely revelation of inanimate objects, animals, angels, humans and the prophet. Therefore, there were three ways of contact between God and His servants: (1) by revelation, namely words that were inspired to the hearts of prophets and sincere people, (2) by the veil which was manifested in three forms, namely mubasyarah [good dreams], kasyaf [seeing through spiritual eyes] and inspiration [hearing through spiritual ears] and (3) by sending the angel Gabriel. As for the matter of temporality of the revelations, which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad reopened, it could be described that the revelations of the sharia could not probably come back after the Qur’an because the sharia of Qur’an was perfect and valid until the end of time. In the meantime, revelations without sharia would come down at any moment. In this situation, there was no great difference between Ahmadiyah Qadian and Lahore (Supardi 2019).

In this case, the critical ijtihād paradigm was needed to be used in interpreting and understanding the Islamic sharia norms that come from the religious texts of the Qur’an and Hadith, then the goal of building the progress of Indonesian society could be more easily achieved by Ahmadiyah congregation as the tradition of living in harmony with other religions in the village of Gondrong Kenanga, Tangerang Banten. The critical ijtihād paradigm also being able to support the progress and harmony of life between the Ahmadiyah congregation, Manislor Kuningan, West Java and other religions because of comprehending the Islamic sharia through historical studies, for example, verses of jihad [holy war] and so on (Aini 2017; Aini & Mustaqim 2017).

The Ahmadiyah sect in the plurality of religious and social life

The taqlīd paradigm also occured amongst Indian Muslims, so they experienced setbacks in aspects of religion, economics, politics and other aspects of life, especially after the outbreak of the 1857 AD Indian revolution, which ended in a British victory. As a religious movement, the Ahmadiyah sect that was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sought to reform the understanding of Islamic sharia from the taqlīd and fatalist thoughts. In addition, Muslims also must be protected from other religious missionary movements (Ali 1987).

In responding to the problems of Muslim life, Ahmadiyah sect has carried out the reform of Islamic sharia as follows: confirming the continuous revelation without the sharia amongst the Muslims, affirming the sanctity of the prophets from sin and all forms of deficiencies, enacting the human nature for all prophets and that they are subject to the laws of life and death, affirming the arguments about khatam-nabiyyin and affirming jihād in the Islamic law in accordance with the al-Qur’an and the Hadith, so the understanding of jihād is not radical and extreme (Ibenwa & Uroko 2020; Razzaq 2005). In the context of jihād, the Ahmadiyah sect divided jihad into three types: (1) jihād al-akbar [the greatest jihad], namely jihad against the devil and lust; (2) jihād al-kābir [great jihad], which is to spread the Qur’an’s teachings to the infidels and polytheists and (3) jihādal-asghar [the smallest jihad], namely the lowest value of jihad in the field of religion, in the form of jihad with weapons to defend religion. This form of jihad was only applied when Muslims were attacked (Wahid 2011; Zulkarnain 2005).

Although the Ahmadiyah sect has been considered as a heretical sect, infidels and apostates in the paradigm of religious life [ḥifẓ al-dīn], but in the paradigm of social life [ḥifẓ al-nafs], the Ahmadiyah sect has established the Qur’an that taught peaceful life and harmony in a pluralistic religious and social life. This was accomplished by the Ahmadiyah congregation of Gondrong Kenanga on the basis of the Qur’anic text, including the letter al-Baqarah 256 (Aini 2017; As’ad 2009):

There shall be no compulsion in religion; the right way has become distinct from the wrong way. Whoever renounces evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handle, which does not break. God is Hearing and Knowing.

The congregation of Ahmadiyah sect in the village of Gondrong Kenanga Tangerang Banten had been recognising this verse as the basis for creating a harmonious and prosperous social life, and it is not permitted to enforce the teaching of Ahamadiyah on other parties. The congregation of Ahmadiyah teaches mutual respect amongst religious sects. Whilst there was an obligation to spread the teachings of Islamic sharia, this must not be achieved by coercion. This is based on the verse of the Qur’an, including the letter al-Nahl 125 (Aini 2017):

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice, and debate with them in the most dignified manner. Your Lord is aware of those who stray from His path, and He is aware of those who are guided. (p. x)

The congregation of Ahmadiyah in Gondrong Kenanga had been recognising and applying the verses of the Qur’an in their socio-religious life in a polite, peaceful and wise way in order to seek harmony and fairness in social life. On a realistic basis, social collaboration is part of the application of Islamic sharia principles, such as the Blood Donation Scheme (Aini 2017). The Ahmadiyah sect in South Sulawesi received funds from congregations’ contributions for group social events, such as the distribution of staple food to the community, blood donations, alternative healthcare and visiting religious figures and leaders of Islamic boarding schools in South Sulawesi (Barsihannor 2009).

In the religious pratices, the worship of Ahmadiyah congregation in South Sulawesi is not different from the worship of other Muslims. The religious practices of the Ahmadiyah congregation are centred in the An-Nushrat Mosque. In the mosque, there is a recitation, five regular prayers, and a prayer for the Holy Day. The worship practices are conducted by an Ahmadiyah preacher or someone who has been mandated. The worship practices of Ahmadiyah congregation were very busy on Friday. On Friday, the Ahmadiyah congregation usually pay donations before or after Friday’s prayers (Barsihannor 2009).


The Ahmadiyah is a religious reform movement that aims to be a ‘peacemaker’ with a task to unite Muslim divisions, especially in the field of aqeedah and Islamic law. In the terms of Islamic sharia doctrine, Ahmadiyah Lahore who believed Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a mujaddid [reformer] could be said to be closer to the understanding of the Ahlussunnah wal Jamaah sect. In addition, the Ahmadiyah sect also emphasized the significance of da’wah in spreading the Islamic sharia teachings through recitation, publication and discussion (Fadli 2007). In Indonesia, the Ahmdiyah congregation has taken the awareness of living in peace with other religious sects. They played an active role in establishing harmonious social ties in the plurality of religious and social life. The harmonious social ties is also recognised by the leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in Banten (Aini 2017).

In the paradigm of religious life [ḥifẓ al-dīn], Islamic sharia reform in the Ahmadiyah sect would not be able to give birth to a reform movement that could be widely accepted by Islamic society both in the world and Indonesia. Since the ijtihād paradigm of Ahmadiyah sect was not based on the principles of Islamic sharia, this sect created new dogmatic ideas in Islamic theology [aqeedah] such as labeling Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet. In fact, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s idea of prophecy was not inherently important because it was a relative human ijtihād and could be reinterpreted, but the Ahmadiyya sect should instead attempt to formulate an ijtihād paradigm that could reinterpret the understanding of Islamic sharia from the religious texts of Qur’an and Hadith that were in line with the public interest of humanity, so that the idea of prophecy could be embraced by all Muslims and did not create conflict. This was the critical ijtihād paradigm that should be used if the Ahmadiyah sect tried to build a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous Muslim life and alleviate Muslims from retrogression. If the critical ijtihād paradigm was used by Ahmadiyah sect, the problem of Islamic sharia teachings from the Ahmadiyah sect, which was debatable would be able to be clarified according to the principles of Islamic sharia through a discourse process in order to find the truth in line with public interests of Muslim life (Meirison 2019; Rahmi 2018; Toriquddin 2013). However, the Ahmadiyah sect used the textual ijtihād paradigm in interpreting aqeedah, so this sect was unable to reinterpret the field of religion, especially in matters of prophethood and revelation.

In the paradigm of social life [ḥifẓ al-nafs], the sect of Ahmadiyah Lahore sought to voice the ideas and movements on the importance of recognising Pancasila as the basis of State ideology, respect for human beings, poverty alleviation and ignorance, as well as protecting the weak people. In addition, the sect of Ahmadiyah Qadian aimed to spread Islamic sharia teachings throughout Indonesia. The congregation of Ahmadiyah Qadian had the same thoughts, namely recognising the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, NKRI) and Pancasila and avoiding the political activities. The aim of Ahmadiyah congregation is to straighten out the creed’s thoughts, provide advice and guidance with wisdom, good words, good morals and spirituality. The Islamic sharia reform movement carried out by the Ahmadiyah sect also had similarities with the reform movement of Islamic sharia in Indonesia, such as Muhammadiyah called tajdīd and NU called ‘reason of ijtihād’ (Abshor 2016; Ansori 2014; Jome, Ganjvar & Sarmadi 2020; Sumarni & Kalupae 2020; Zulkarnain 2005).

This critical ijtihād paradigm should strengthen the understanding of Islamic sharia norms comprehensively and at the same time could support the progress of the Ahmadiyah congregation in Indonesia. According to Batubara and Fadhillah research, the critical ijtihād paradigm should do critical studies towards the concept of prophethood and revelation as the Ahmadiyah sect criticised and had critically studied towards the verses of jihad, so that the concept of the prophethood and revelation of the Ahmadiyah sect did not deviate from the principles of Islamic sharia. (Batubara 2017; Fadhillah 2017).

In the field of social life matter, the critical ijtihād paradigm has also been shown to be able to settle the dispute over the interpretation of the sharia of Ahmadiyah congregation [ḥifẓ al-nafs] that linked to the principle of the dissemination of Islamic sharia, so that with the renewal of the concept of Islamic sharia, the majority of Indonesian Muslims would fully embrace the congregation of Ahmadiyah. This could be done by the congregation of Ahmadiyah succeeding in retaining its existence as the congregation of Ahmadiyah in South Sulawesi that has managed to preserve its existence because they have a strong militancy in reacting towards the challenges, carrying out the noble mission of disseminating the teachings of Islamic sharia, for example, establishing harmonious ties with the government, other religious believers and principles. This could be shown by the results of Barsihannor’s research (2009), which confirmed that the congregation of Ahmadiyah in South Sulawesi has succeeded in sustaining its existence because of the mental abilities, harmonious ties with the government and other religious believers and the understanding of principles.


This study pointed out that in the paradigm of social life [ḥifẓ al-nafs], the Ahmadiyah sect has been reforming the Islamic sharia, so that the Ahmadiyah sect could preserve its existence in the diversity of social life in Indonesia. The Islamic sharia reform, especially in the area of Islamic law (e.g. jihad and state ideology), carried out by the Ahmadiyah sect that had made it possible for the congregation of Ahmadiyah to live in peace and harmony and participate in the development of religious or other social life in Indonesia. Even so, the Ahmadiyah sect also needs internal critique and reforms of the Islamic sharia. This research, therefore, indicated that the critical ijtihād paradigm should be used to reform the Islamic sharia, especially the paradigm of religious life (ḥifẓ al-dīn) such as the concept of prophecy and revelation, so that the Ahmadiyah sect is in line with the principles of Islamic sharia and can be accepted by the majority of Muslims in Indonesia and the world.


Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author’s contributions

M.D. is the sole author of this research article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.


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