“There will not cease to be a group from my followers manifest and upon the truth, not being harmed by those who forsake them, neither by those who oppose them.”
The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
This post is inspired by the recent murder and martyrdom of Asad Shah from Glasgow, UK. His last words to the world were: “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation … Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.”
The four of us – Melissa, Ulia, Munira and Ambreen have joined together to explore this growing threat and concern about the increased persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and its members in the UK, but to do this we have to explain who Ahmadis are. Why are they a perceived threat to mainstream Islam? Was this murder a random attack, or was it part of a growing trend of increased violence and animosity towards Ahmadi Muslims?
To speak of the hate crime inflicted upon Asad Shah, its essential to speak of his theological position. It has come to light that his murder was religiously motivated, because he was not a “true Muslim” in the words of the perpetrator himself, because he was an Ahmadi Muslim.
Please grab yourself a cuppa, and a bikkie for this one.
SO, WHAT IS AHMADIYYAT?
Ahmadiyyat forms a revivalist movement within Islam, founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in a small town called Qadian in India. Ahmadis believe the founder to be the Promised Messiah of the Latter Days and the Promised Reformer to bring its followers back to the core of the Holy Qur’an (considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God) and to the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) practices. It has since grown in to a large community, present in over 200 countries of the world.
HOW DO AHMADI’S DIFFER TO OTHER MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD?
As Ahmadis, we would assure you that Islam and Ahmadiyyat is one and the same, for Ahamdis practise the original Islam, the Islam revealed in the Holy Quran – believed to be the word of God, and the Sunnah and Hadith (practise and sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)). The difference between Ahmadi Muslims and Non-Ahmadi Muslims however becomes most prominent when we discuss the Prophet Jesus (non-Muslims may be surprised by this).
The Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, although considered by Muslims as a man and not the son of God is a highly revered Prophet in Islam. To summarise briefly, Ahmadi Muslims believe that he did not die on the cross and was taken down, while still alive, although barely, who then recovered and fulfilled his mission of spreading the word of God to the lost tribes of Israel, finally dying a natural death in Kashmir. Non-Ahmadi Muslims (largely) believe that Jesus was raised and is currently in Heaven.
The Mahdi is none other than the Messiah
-Sunan Ibn-e-Majah Kitabul-Fitan
“I proclaim that the spiritual influence of the eternal Prophethood of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has raised the Promised Messiah after the passage of thirteen centuries, from among his own Ummah, and with the impress of the same ‘Seal’ that had been granted to him”–Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – Al-Hakam June 10, 1905
“He it is Who has raised among the unlettered people a Messenger from among themselves who recites unto them His Signs, and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and Wisdom though before that they were in manifest error; And He will raise him among others of them who have not yet joined them. He is the Mighty, the Wise.” Chapter 62, Verses 3- 4
Non-Ahmadis differ again when it comes to the belief of Jesus’ return. Ahmadi Muslims believe, that rather than the same Jesus (who is a law bearing prophet) returning, another Messiah, who has been foretold, possessing similar qualities will revive the true teachings of Islam.
Non-Ahmadi Muslims do not accept this as they say that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) was the last prophet, Ahmadis however, believe that he was the last law bearing prophet and assert that he is the most supreme of prophets and that the Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) is a non-law bearing, subordinate prophet whose purpose is to revive the true Islam and unify Muslims and help us improve our relationship with God. The idea of a Messiah is not exclusive to Islam, with all major world religions awaiting the arrival of a Messiah.
ORIGINS OF PERSECUTION
Ahmadiyyat was founded in 1889 in India, but in 1974 Pakistans President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made changes to Pakistan’s constitution declaring Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims. This opened the doors to Ahmadi persecution in Pakistan, which eventually became state sanctioned when the Pakistani Government under the leadership of General Zia-Ul-Haq introduced Ordinance XX which allowed for the prosecution of Ahmadi’s ‘posing’ to be Muslims and preaching Ahamdiyyat by words written or spoken: anyone found guilty of the same can be imprisoned for a term up to 3 years or fined. This form of discrimination is not limited to Pakistan. In the same year, Muslim organisations from the World Muslim League had attended an annual conference in Saudia Arabia and decided upon the same matters, encouraging Islamic governments to take action to combat the growth of Ahmadiyyat.
Examples of Ahmadi persecution in Pakistan has in the extreme included death threats, kidnapping, arson, shootings, lynching and even the bombing of Mosques and mass murder of worshipers. Non-violent forms of persecution in Pakistan include but are not limited to: having to register as Non-Muslim when it is time to vote in parliamentary elections; and declaring yourself as Ahmadi and renouncing the Messiah when applying for your Passport. This has knock on effects as if your passport identifies you as Ahmadi, you can no longer go to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage, which is an obligation on Muslims, provided they can attend safely and if your health and financial situation permit it. Additonally if identified as Ahmadi in Pakistan, this can hinder progression in your education and career, including climbing the ranks in the Army.
Radicalisation in Pakistan has been facilitated by the anti-Ahmadi laws which give extremist Mullahs a legitimate platform to spread their hatred, they in turn can rouse the masses to such an extent that any deviation from or opposition to Mullah ideology made by members of the public or influential figures also turns them into an enemy of Islam. One example is the murder of the minister of Punjab, Salman Taseer who apposed Pakistans blasphemy laws and in turn was assassinated by his body guard Mumtaz Qadri. Whats astonishing is that when Qadri attended court, he was surrounded by followers holding placards in his support, garlands were hung around his neck and sympathetic lawyers offered their services to him.
The response to the murder of Asad Shah in Britain was wide and varied. In the local Glasgow community, vigils were held for Mr Shah, and hundreds of people arrived to pay their last respects. A lot of Muslims condemned the killing, but worryingly a Facebook page was also set up in support of the killer. Then there were also the condemners with a caveat, who called the killing unlawful, but reminded everyone that Ahmadis were still to be considered ‘Non-Muslim’. The problem with this is that it maintains the divide of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
The UK murder is only the tip of iceberg, in 2010 terrorists simultaneously bombed 2 Ahmadi mosques on a busy Friday Jumu’ah prayer in Lahore, 94 Ahmadis were murdered and many more injured.
This persecution of Ahmadis, is taking place predominately in Pakistan, and in other Muslim countries. This injustice has now traveled across the world, right here to the UK, please click here for our part 2 to read more.