This article examines how a transnational religious movement that originated in British India, the Ahmadiyya movement, deployed the norm of religious freedom in the course of its expansion outside the British Empire. Ostracized by mainstream Muslims, Ahmadis used their position as imperial subjects to demand that the British protect their right to religious freedom in political spheres beyond the British Empire and irrespective of territorial jurisdiction. British authorities responded to this transnational activism by considering anew the practical meanings of this right. This article argues that this Ahmadiyya-British encounter had the effect of constituting a transnational sphere in which the place of religious freedom was contested and negotiated, both in terms of the actual physical place in which British colonial subjects could enjoy religious freedoms and the place of Ahmadis with respect to entitlement to religious freedoms. It further demonstrates that the British routinely drew on their assumptions about Islam and imperial notions of religious noninterference to subvert Ahmadiyya claims about religious freedom.

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