HAS THIS PERSECUTION BEEN IMPORTED TO THE UK?
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) April 26, 2016
Since the 2010 Mosque attacks, there followed no condemnation from Muslim leaders and no prosecution for the perpetrators and those responsible for the murder of civilians praying peacefully. What did happen in the days and weeks after the brutal attacks were an upgrade to security in Ahmadi Muslim mosques up and down the UK following suspicious behaviour and threats to peaceful Ahmadi’s living in the UK. Mosques in Crawley and Newham were vandalised.
The occurrence of literature distribution in madrasahs and the vehement verbal calls inciting violence against Ahmadis in Pakistan has travelled 3747 miles to London through the means of hate campaigns; signs on shops in Tooting and on social media to boycott Ahmadi businesses (also derogatorily labelling us as “the cult”). More recently, new leaflets directing that Ahmadis who are labelled “Murtad” or apostates are “wajib-ul-Qatl”, an Arabic term that translates as “worthy of or required to be killed”. Previously, in Kingston leaflets were distributed in the Urdu language claiming “Kill a Qadiyani [Ahmadi] and doors to heaven will be open to you.”
“Islam is an open religion which teaches mutual respect and so if you are a true Muslim you should be willing and able to integrate in any part of the world.” (Khalifa of Islams words when meeting with Justin Trudeau, Canada, 13 July 2012)
I myself experienced alienation in the prayer room of my secondary school in London back in the year 2000, being mocked and taunted by some 13-year old Muslim peers whenever my fellow Ahmadi friends and I prayed together simply because of a belief we held in our hearts and for being perceived as non-Muslim in the eyes of others. This was the same prayer room that a Christian friend attended to pray with her freedom of religion preserved intact as it should be. This reminds me of the words of the Leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community: “If any Church or other place of worship stands in need of protection, they will find us standing shoulder to shoulder with them.” (Message to Pope Benedict XVI, 6 December 2011).
In 2009, a demonstration was held to stop the Ahmadi community from converting an empty warehouse into a Mosque. The 800 complaints sent to the council appeared to be largely from Muslims, and largely from those who believe is to be apostates.
Five months after the Lahore massacres in 2010, the regulator Ofcom criticised the Blackburn-based Ummah Channel for breaching UK broadcasting regulations or broadcasting after three interactive TV programmes were aired before and after the Lahore attacks that called for the murder of Ahmadis. This “hate speech” came directly from religious leaders and callers into the programme. It showed the programme’s abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Ummah channel have also been found to incite hatred against other Islamic sects such as the Shia sect, when one presenter advised a caller that it’s strictly forbidden for Sunni muslims to marry Shia Muslims as they are “not proper Muslims” who have “filthy beliefs.”
Who would want to chill with people with no aesthetic sense? At least design a nice poster to go with your bigotry. pic.twitter.com/QVhwKkwCk3
— Usman Ahmad (@UsmanAhmad_iam) April 12, 2016
We have already reviewed the MCB’s statement and view of Ahmadis which does nothing but support the shunning and further alienation of Ahmadi Muslim women, men and children whilst fuelling the fire of ignorance to rise within the Muslim population in our tolerant pluralistic home that is Britain. For Ahmadis, its farcical to some extent – we will still continue!
What is worrying and striking is the rise of extremist views and behaviour especially in some of the UK’s youth which appears to be sprouting in parallel to the persecution of Ahmadis in a place like the UK. I never envisaged this happening on such a scale that it would lead to murder (as seen with Asad Shah). The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been around for over a century and there is no history or record of Ahmadi’s approving, inciting or becoming involved in violent attacks against another human being. This includes nothing but a peaceful reaction to the murder of family members across the globe and a continued effort to contribute to building peace and stability in each and every nation and society that Ahmadi’s live in under the guidance of a spiritual (non-political) leader.
Ahmadis seek to “speak a decent speech” (Qur’an Ch.33: V.33) and “observe justice” (Qur’an Ch.6: V.153) towards all of humanity in both words and actions. We run blood donation drives; organise charity bike rides across the country; interfaith peace forums to bring all members of the local community together as well as holding non-faith dialogues with humanists; organise annual marathon walks; collect food for food banks and participate in tree-planting (the list goes on, including charity projects under http://www.humanityfirst.org). Meanwhile, we find groups like Khatme-Nabuwwat seek to add themselves as an example to the definition of hate speech by creating and sustaining aggravated hostility towards Ahmadis as a group. The wave of hatred, violence, kidnapping, burning down of Ahmadi-owned homes and factories  are not just sweeping across Pakistan but also countries such as Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and now Scotland!
Dr James Caron, from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said – “Khatme Nabuwwat is a one-issue outfit and that one issue is anti-Ahmadi sentiment…However, anti-Ahmadi sentiment is much larger than the Khatme Nabuwwat movement.” Another leaflet against Ahmadis can be found on their website http://www.khatmenubuwwat.org/media/File/leaflets/dhoka_leaflet_english.pdf and they claim on the website “Purpose of this website: Our organisation, through this web site, attempts to create awareness about the Qadiani (Ahmadiyya)”
Hate speech and hate crime have become more prominent in the last decade or two and is defined as, an expression of hatred towards another person or group using various means such as writing, verbal speech or any other form of communication and the UK sets out laws and statutes to protect against such hate crimes. Crimes committed against someone because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation are “hate crimes” which are punishable in law (whereas hate speech itself is not a crime but it can lead to a hate crime case) which can include threatening behaviour; assault and inciting others to commit hate crimes as well as harassment.
By saying Ahmadis, as a group of people “should not be allowed” to label ourselves as Muslims (the word Muslim means someone who acts with peace so I could call any peaceful person “a Muslim” following their loving, caring conduct) is a denial of our basic human right to freedom of choice of religion.
SO, WHY IS THIS PUBLIC INCITEMENT TO SECTARIAN VIOLENCE SURFACING IN THE UK?
Ambreen explores below:
“Over generations, we have built something extraordinary in Britain – a successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy. It’s open, diverse, welcoming – these characteristics are as British as queuing and talking about the weather.” David Cameron’s speech on extremism.
Surely, believing someone to be worthy of being killed is an extreme idea and as we have seen through the stages of genocide eventually leads to a path of destruction and a breakdown of justice, morality and essentially, peaceful co-existence.“This is how it all begins. Shops boycotted, posters going up in windows, people sacked from their jobs.” Lord Avebury.
The Messenger, upon whom be peace, said, “He who says to his brother ‘O disbeliever’, then it returns upon one of them.”[Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, at-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]
Some similarities can be drawn between the youth of the UK who are leaving their medical degrees or schools to flee the UK and join the terrorist group ISIS in order to kill and shed blood and those who seek to violently and verbally marginalise sects and those with differing yet peaceful beliefs. I am not condemning all and stating there is a clear line going from A to B but there are some similarities in their ideological thinking…albeit flawed and the opposite to saving humanity or promoting peace.
There is an unhealthy cocktail of lack of education and knowledge, especially of the teachings of Islam – as explained by the French journalist captured for 10 months by ISIS who did not even have a single copy of the Qur’an and showed no care for Islam and the Bataclan terrorist attacker smoked alarming amounts of cannabis and drank alcohol which is forbidden in Islam. Additionally, a bloodthirsty quest for power over those who are vulnerable especially those living in insulated, isolated ethnic and religious communities with poor language skills that keep them from integrating with ease.
Moreover, I feel there is a lack of an open, honest platform for the youth to express their questions, ideas, creativity and expectations breeds further isolation and disempowers such youth from having any self-worth, role or status in their community. This is why you will never discover an Ahmadi boy or girl joining ISIS as she will be busy hosting her own workshop on the freedom of speech in her local Mosque or will be busy running a fun-run in Manchester to raise for cancer research and will get support from members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community all over the nation!
The fact that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has clear leadership under one Khalifa helps to unify our aims and efforts as a community. Moreover, where is the focus on community cohesion and being part of humanity in those groups such as Khatme-Nabuwwat?
Added to the cocktail mix is the disagreement and dissatisfaction on British foreign policies and actions in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and other countries. Moreover, leaving those speakers with extremist and violent views – unchecked – to speak openly to students and youth is another factor that provides opportunities to create a ripe breeding ground for subsequent “lost” generations of British youth. Another ingredient to add to this potent radicalising potion is the role of the media -which continues to propel a negative view of Muslims, leading to vicious and vile attacks of Muslim women on London buses and tubes. Having a racist incident also affects a young person’s attitude and mindset especially if they are racially or prejudicially attacked repeatedly throughout their growing years for wearing a headscarf or any other identifier that marks them as a Muslim or as different. As a 19-year old, being called a “f****** terrorist that…go back to your country” twice in the multicultural villages of Wimbledon and Kingston when I was simply out shopping really didn’t make me feel welcome in the town I was born and raised in. However, it also didn’t incite me to hold violent views and join ISIS. Instead, I wear my hijab proudly and write to promote peace and try to understand the plight of others subject to persecution and cruelty for being different (see the remainder of our blog!)
The disillusionment faced by many young men and women today in Britain is important to address but requires solutions, loving and honest leadership and something tangible to offer not just policies that may seek to further alienate our youth.
Last year at least 70 events featuring hate speakers were held on campuses, according to the government’s new Extremism Analysis Unit. The latest police statistics show that young people continue to make up a disproportionately high number of those arrested for terrorist-related offences and of those travelling to join terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. UK Universities are legally required implement specific policies to stop “extremists radicalising students” and support students at risk. The present Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community supported the call to search mosques and view what is being taught and preached as we as a community welcome transparency and education. The doors to our mosque are lined with the motto “Love for all, Hatred for None” a term coined by the third Caliph of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1980. At the same time, the balance should not be tipped where children who ask open questions about homosexuality, or the belief in evolution, or even question violence or any controversial topic are penalised as entering the path of radicalisation – it should open the door to helping understand what that child is learning when they leave school and how to support their learning journey and ability to critically analyse. Don’t exclude, seek to include.
PERSECUTION SPREADS THE WORD…
Munira speaks out: It was the love shown by the Ahmadi’s despite the hate they faced that drew me into Ahmadiyyat. Despite being born as a Muslim I hadn’t heard of Ahmadiyyat until I was the age of 21, and what I heard was that they were hated and persecuted. I became interested in what the Ahmadis beliefs are that I was alleged to have hated them without even knowing who they are, which consequently made me extremely curious. My initial thought was maybe they professed of some hate or intolerance etc, but to see Love For All Hatred For None as their community motto truly stole my heart away. The more I researched the more it was evident that this community was Divinely guided and protected, using rationality, knowledge and truth and serving humanity justly and fairly even whilst their people were being oppressed and slaughtered.
IS PERSECUTION A SIGN OF TRUTHFULNESS?
The current Caliph, world head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spoke on this topic about how persecution always has the promise of triumph in the end. He cited ‘Thus did We make for every Prophet an enemy from among the sinners; and sufficient is thy Lord as a Guide and a Helper’(25:32) from the Qur’an. On advent of every Prophet, there is persecution.
History is full of painful incidents, and one such incident is of Ammar, his father Yasir and mother Samia who were persecuted very badly for being Muslims in the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Once they were being physically maltreated when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) passed by. In a most pained tone, he said, ‘O family of Yasir, continue to be steadfast. Certainly, due to this steadfastness of yours, Paradise has been prepared for you.’ Yasir succumbed to the physical torture and was martyred. Samia held on but Abu Jahl put a spear through her lower abdomen and thus she too was martyred.
Such was the brutality of the enemies of Islam. This persecution drew the attention of pious-natured souls towards Islam and seeing the faithful followers of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) people were further attracted to him. The message of Islam spread from Mecca and Medina to the Central Asian steppes and West Africa.
A MESSAGE OF PEACE
Melissa’s elaborates below:
I think one thing we never expected through Asad Shah’s murder, is the vast amount of media coverage this has generated. Until now, I think it’s safe to assume that Ahmadi persecution in the UK (whether it be through banning Ahmadis from entering certain shops, boycotting Ahmadi places of business or circulations of pamphlets calling for Ahmadi’s death) – has gone largely un-noticed.
The brutal murder of Asad Shah from Glasgow, has opened the floodgates to issues of sectarianism between Muslims in Britain and how this affects our community cohesion at large.
However the recent refusal of the Muslim Council of Britain and others on recent media outlets to actually call Ahmadis, Muslims is probably the first step within the dehumanisation process. I think it’s only fair to say that, Ahmadis have never refused any one the right to self-identity with any particular given faith group. If you tell me you’re a Christian, who am I to say you’re not? Likewise if you’re Sunni, Shi’a, Ahl-al Hadith, Deobandi, Wahhabi or just call yourself a Muslim, I don’t have the right to refuse your label, even if we disagree theologically. Let God be the judge of who is true in faith at heart, a pertinent example of this is a conversation between the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and a companion named Sa’d:
Sa’d had killed a man to which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Did he profess, “There is no god but Allah” and even then you killed him? And Sa’d replied, he made a profession of it out of the fear of the weapon. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Did you tear his heart in order to find out whether it had professed or not?
From this we can see it’s not for any human, not even the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) to declare who was a true Muslim or not, let’s not be blinded and play God through takfir (declaring who is and isn’t a Muslim). And likewise with this situation, we see that this refusal to actually call Ahmadis what they are, Ahmadi Muslims is a very, very slippery slope, one which we have seen leads to discrimination, injustice, violence, and in Mr Shah’s case, murder.
The message I wish to give to others is simply this:
O ye who believe! When you go forth in the cause of Allah, make proper investigation and say not to anyone who greets you with the greeting of peace, ‘Thou art not a believer.‘ You seek the goods of this life, but with Allah are the good things in plenty. Such were you before this, but Allah conferred his special favour on you; so do make proper investigation. Surely, Allah is well aware of what you do. [Qur’an 4:95]
“It is surely our duty to care for and respect one another and the best way to practically demonstrate this esteem is to consider the feelings and sentiments of each other, because that is the primary way to establish good human values and, it is the only way to develop an environment filled with peace, justice, reconciliation and brotherhood. It should be our goal to establish such high values in every village, every town, every city, every country, every society and indeed every part of the world.” (Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifa of Islam, 4 March 2012)
please visit https://www.persecutionofahmadis.org/ for more information on those who have been killed for their faith
Other good reads: