On a regular basis, and seemingly always after a jihadist attack, news stations reach out to individuals who claim to speak for Islam and who, by the way, happen to repeat the mantra that Islam is a “Religion of Peace” and prohibits violence.
Popular among these spokesmen are two individuals named Harris Zafar and Qasim Rashid. And when they are speaking, the caption below each usually includes the words “Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.” This is not only informational, but it also provides a caveat for those who know about Ahmadi Muslims. This article explains why.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and initially headquartered in Qadian, India. According to the official Ahmadiyya Muslim website,
Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA was established in 1921, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community now spans over 190 countries with an estimated 10-20 million adherents. The Community’s international headquarters are in London, England.
Ahmadi Muslims claim they are Muslims who are following the “true” Islam, which they state is based on peace with others. But that is not how they are perceived by Sunni Muslims, who make up almost 90% of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Consider this survey of the status of Ahmadis in some of the Sunni Muslim countries:
In the early 20th Century Ahmadis were persecuted and some were sentenced to death for apostasy. By circa 1930 there were reportedly no more Ahmadis in Afghanistan.
In 2008 the president of Indonesia signed a decree ordering the Ahmadis to stop practicing their version of Islam. Ahmadi’s have been killed and their mosques have been attacked.
In 2014 the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan upheld a 2011 decision that prohibited Ahmadis from registering with the state as a religion and from gathering for religious activity. They are not recognized as Muslims.
In 1975 the Selangor Fatwa Council issued a fatwa declaring that the Ahmadis were non-Muslims. The fatwa called for them to repent; if they failed to do so they should be put to death. This was repeated in 1998, when the Selangor Fatwa Council again ruled that Ahmadis were non-believers, and that any individual that followed the Ahmadi teachings was an apostate. Selangor is the most populated and prosperous state in Malaysia.
Ahmadis have been arrested for the crime of offering Friday prayers.
This was the first country to declare that the Ahmadis were non-Muslims; this occurred in the 1930′s.
In 1947, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community moved its religious headquarters from Qadian in India to Rabwah in Pakistan. But within a few years Sunni Muslim groups came together to form an anti-Ahmadi movement. In 1974, under pressure from Muslim clerics, Pakistan’s first elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, introduced a constitutional amendment (known as the Second Amendment) which declared the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.
In 1984 the Pakistani government added Section 298 to the penal code. This section is commonly referred to as the anti-Ahmadi laws, and it prohibits the Ahmadis from, among other things:
- Calling themselves Muslims or posing as Muslims.
- Referring to their faith as Islam.
- Preaching or propagating their faith.
- Insulting the religious feelings of Muslims.
- Referring to their places of worship as mosques.
- Sounding the call to prayer.
Ahmadis can be arrested for “posing as a Muslim” by, for example, reciting verses from the Koran.
In 1997, Sheikh Ali Bin Abdur Rahman Al Huzaifi, Chief Imam of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina, condemned Ahmadis as “traitors…misleading others by their self-made and false Quranic commentary.”
Saudi textbooks teach that Ahmadis are not Muslims, and Ahmadis can be arrested and prosecuted solely because of their religion. The focus of such arrests is largely on foreign national workers brought into Saudi Arabia, although some Saudi nationals have been arrested for becoming Ahmadi. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take once in their life if they are able. The Saudi government has officially banned Ahmadis from making the Hajj, but some Ahmadis do so anyway (obviously without declaring their religious affiliation).
In addition to Muslim countries, there are many Muslim organizations and scholars that have declared that members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are not Muslims, e.g.:
Al-Azhar University Fatwa Department, Cairo, Egypt
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America
Imam Alhaji Abdoulie Fatty, The Gambia
Imam W. Deen Muhammad, United States
Islamic Fiqh Academy, Egypt
Islamic Fiqh Council, South Africa
Mufti Ebrahim Desai, South Africa
Mullah Bashir Rahim, Great Britain
Mullah Tahir ul Qadri, Canada
Permanent Board for Inquiry and Fatwa, Saudi Arabia
Shariah Council, United Kingdom
Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, South Africa
Sheikh Ahmed Kutty, Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Founder of Zaytuna College, Berkeley, California
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, Saudi Arabia
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a small, fringe group that is widely rejected by the world’s Sunni Muslim community. Muslim countries, and Muslim organizations and scholars around the world do not consider the Ahmadi to even be Muslims. Consequently, news stations are doing themselves and their viewers a tremendous disservice by allowing Ahmadis to “speak for Islam.” Caveat emptor.