The Ahmadiyya ideology, a variation of the Muslim faith developed by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadian, came to Bangladesh with a parcel of medicines in 1902, according to the Pakkhik Ahmadi - a fortnightly magazine of the Ahmadiyya community in Bangladesh.
Doulat Ahmed Khan, a lawyer who lived in Brahmanbaria, ordered medicines from a reputed pharmacy in Lahore. The package of medicine contained a brochure of the Ahmadiyya ideology. When Doulan discovered the brochure, he took it to a local imam by the name of Maulana Syed Muhammad Abdul Wahed.
Abdul Wahed was swayed by the message in the brochure. He pledged allegiance to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and began to formally preach the Ahmadiyya faith across the nation.
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But Abdul Wahed was not the first person to accept the Ahmadiyya faith. It was Ahmad Kabir Noor Muhammad, a resident of Anwara, Chittagong, who was the very first Ahmadi in the region.
Kabir was attached to a post office in Burma in 1905, where he contracted several tropical diseases. He travelled to north-east India for medical treatment, and there he found adherents of the Ahmadiyya faith. Moved by the ideology, Kabir pledged allegiance to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The second man to embrace Ahmadiyya faith was Rais Uddin Khan from Kishorganj. Rais joined the community in 1906. He was followed by his wife Syeda Azizatunnisa, the first woman from Bengal to become an Ahmadi, in 1907.
In 1909, Mubarak Ali, an Islamic scholar from Bogra, went to Qadian in Punjab and pledged his allegiance to Mirza Ghulam.
Ahmadi scholar Mohammad Habibullah wrote in the Pakkhik Ahmadi in 2013: “The first four Bangalis to become Ahmadis did not preach the faith. It was Maulana Abdul Wahed who began preaching.”
But Ahmad Tabshir Choudhury, nayeb-e-ameer of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh, claims Ahmadi faith first came to Bengal region in 1902.
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The Ahmadiyya movement gained momentum by 1912 by the efforts of Abdul Wahed. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community became officially established in Bengal in 1913 under the moniker of “Anjuman-e-Ahmadiyya”.
Currently, the Ahmadiyya community congregates at Bakshibazar in Dhaka. There are 120 local chapters of the Ahmadiyya faith comprising 425 jamaats operating throughout and about 500 clusters spread all over Bangladesh.
There are approximately 10,000 Ahmadis living in Brahmanbaria. Another 3,500 in Kishoreganj and 3,000 more in Mymensingh.
The Ahmadi preachers are called Moballegs. Currently, there are 65 of them in Bangladesh.
Majlis Ansarullah is an auxiliary organisation of the Ahmadiyya community for men above 40 years of age while Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya is the association of male who are between the ages of 15 and 40. Majlish Atfalul is the sorority of Ahmadi boys who are between the ages of 7-15.
Similarly, Lajna Emaillah is the women’s auxiliary organisation of Ahmadiyya women above the age of 15 and Majlis Naseratul is the branch of Ahmadi girls between 7-15 years of age.
The Pakkhik Ahmadi has been published since 1920. A studio of the Muslim Television Ahmadiyya channel is also located in Bakshibazar.
A total of 13 Ahmadi people have been killed in different attacks in the country since 1963.