Author, Human Rights Lawyer, Visiting Fellow, Harvard University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal School of Islamic Studies
It is no secret I’ve been critical of Muslim leadership for their deafening apathy and silence over the 125-year worldwide persecution of Ahmadi Muslims. To add insult to injury, every time a new atrocity emerges I’m bombarded with standard anti-Ahmadi talking points in a shameless attempt to justify the violence. Just recently in Gujranwala, Pakistan where four Ahmadi Muslims (including three young children) were murdered when their homes were burned down, insults followed the anemic condemnations. Those who bothered acknowledging the attack refused to recognize Ahmadis as Muslims, thus holding the same view as those who attacked and murdered the young children in the first place.
But what resonated loud and clear were classic anti-Ahmadi talking points from Muslim leadership. As one Sunni Muslim friend confessed—his own family told him “not to worry about it” because Ahmadis were “wajib ul qatl” (required to be killed) anyway.
This misinformation and prejudice must stop. If the Muslim world expects to advance in pluralism and tolerance, we must embrace principles over prejudice. This must start from the top, i.e. from Muslim leaders; otherwise Muslim youth have little hope of developing into positive well-rounded individuals. So let’s take things one-step at a time. While this list is certainly not exhaustive, here are ten of the most common fabrications Muslim leaders must stop espousing about Ahmadi Muslims.
Fabrication 1: Ahmadiyya is a new religion
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a sect of Islam. It is not a new religion. It was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in 1889. Ahmad claimed that he was the awaited Messiah and Mahdi prophesized by Prophet Muhammad and foretold by the Holy Qur’an. Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, are known as Ahmadi Muslims. We adhere to the same Islamic declaration of faith, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger. We likewise observe the same 5 Pillars of Islam and same 6 Articles of Faith.
The only difference in belief is that Ahmadi Muslims believe the awaited Messiah and Mahdi has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, while the rest of the Muslim world is awaiting Jesus Christ’s physical descent from heaven (a concept Ahmadi Muslims reject based on their understanding of the Qur’an and ahadeeth).
Bottom Line: Ahmadiyya is not a new religion, it is a sect of Islam.
Fabrication 2: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be greater than Prophet Muhammad
In an effort to arouse anger in the minds of unlearned Muslims, clerics make this fabrication often. In reality Ahmad considered himself insignificant compared to the grandeur and majesty of Prophet Muhammad. Ahmadi Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad was the Seal of the Prophets, and therefore God’s greatest creation. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad famously wrote, “The Prophet is Muhammad, the chosen one, who is higher and more exalted than all Prophets and is the most perfect of Messengers and is the Khatam ul Anbiya, and the best of men.”
Bottom Line: The Messiah Ahmad was clear that Prophet Muhammad was the greatest of God’s creation. You can read Ahmad’s extensive writings in praise of the greatness and perfection of Prophet Muhammad here.
Fabrication 3: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad insulted Jesus Christ
As with the previous fabrication, this is a common allegation some Muslim leaders espouse to create anti-Ahmadi Muslim sentiment. As Islam requires Muslims to love and revere all God’s prophets, Jesus Christ is no exception. Ahmadi Muslims love Jesus more than we love our own parents or children. However, this has not stopped antagonistic clerics from promoting this fabricated claim that Ahmad insulted Jesus. Worry not, however, as Ahmadi Muslim scholars literally wrote a book to debunk this misconception.
Bottom Line: Ahmadi Muslims love and praise Jesus as a pure prophet of God.
Fabrication 4: Ahmadi Muslims consider anyone who doesn’t accept Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a kafir (infidel)
For the record, Ahmadi Muslims consider anyone a Muslim who recites the Kalima or Islamic declaration of faith that Prophet Muhammad taught, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.” Thus, far from passing takfir (declaring infidel) on anyone, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the world’s only Muslim sect that has categorically rejected the poison of Takfirism since its inception in 1889. Over a century ago the Messiah Ahmad declared even about those who did not accept him, “…my belief from the beginning has been that no person becomes a kafir or antichrist by denying my claim. I do not apply the term kafir to any person who professes the Kalima…”
On the contrary, in 1974 Muslim leaders from each of Islam’s 72 other sects convened in Pakistan, and in a collective act of takfir, unanimously declared all Ahmadi Muslims to be “non-Muslim.” This unprecedented pronouncement led Pakistan’s Parliament to pass the Second Amendment, formally declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslim. To date, Muslim leaders the world over rely on the 1974 amendment to practice takfir against all Ahmadi Muslims.
Bottom Line: Ahmadi Muslims consider a Muslim anyone who recites the Kalima—as this is precisely what Prophet Muhammad taught.
Fabrication 5: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a British or Jewish conspiracy
Any reasonable mind will agree that this conspiracy theory claim is utter nonsense. Since inception, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has never relied on a single penny from any government, non-profit organization, or from a person who was not a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The only people permitted to contribute to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Every donation given is recorded and a receipt is returned.
The real reason Muslim leaders make this allegation is because Ahmadi Muslims have spread peacefully to 206 nations worldwide and have done so without a single act of violence. Rather than recognize our expansion is due to following Prophet Muhammad’s peaceful example, they baselessly claim that we are agents of western governments. In other words, their hatred for us exceeds their love of Prophet Muhammad. It is a shameful position such Muslim leaders take, but that won’t stop us from continuing our peaceful and rapid growth. Indeed, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the fastest growing sect in Islam.
Bottom Line: The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a divine community that relies only on God and not on any worldly or secular organization.
Fabrication 6: Ahmadi Muslims don’t accept Muhammad(sa) as the Seal of the Prophets
As I mentioned earlier, Ahmadi Muslims proudly celebrate Prophet Muhammad as “KhatamunNabiyyin” or the “Seal of the Prophets.” Rather than delve into a lengthy discourse, I’ll make just two points.
First, every year at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s international Jalsa Salana in UK, His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, accepts bai’at, i.e. initiation, from every member of the community. It is an annual pledge. Part of this pledge declares in no uncertain terms, “I solemnly pledge that I believe Muhammad is God’s Prophet and the Seal of the Prophets.” Thus, every adult Ahmadi Muslim has recited this pledge dozens of times, and every person who joins the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community affirms this pledge in writing with his or her signature.
Second, if you still do not believe me, here is an excellent book written by two Ahmadi Muslim scholars titled, “With Love to Muhammad, the KhatamunNabiyyin.” You can buy the print book or download it absolutely free at the link provided as an e-book. If, after reading the book, you still do not believe me that Ahmadi Muslims consider Muhammad as the Seal of the Prophets, drop me a line and we’ll chat.
Bottom Line: Ahmadi Muslims proudly declare Prophet Muhammad is Khatamun Nabiyyin.
Fabrication 7: Ahmadi Muslims provoke violence to gain sympathy from the West
As shameless allegations go, it doesn’t get much worse than this one. Here’s the history. Several things did not happen, that should have happened, in the aftermath of the horrific May 28, 2010 Taliban terrorist attacks on two Ahmadi Muslim run mosques in Lahore. No Pakistani government leader or worldwide Muslim leader condemned the attack. No effort was made to apprehend the culprits. No steps were taken to prevent future attacks. To this day none of these things have happened, despite the fact that these horrific attacks left 86 Ahmadi Muslims dead.
Instead, one shameful event happened that should not have happened. Ahmadi Muslims were accused of provoking terrorists to gain sympathy from non-Muslims. This meritless claim is nothing more than the figment of a anti-Ahmadi cleric’s imagination.
Bottom Line: In the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s 125 year history, not a single incident exists where Ahmadi Muslims engaged, approved, perpetuated—must less provoked—an act of violence. This is a verifiable fact.
Fabrication 8: Ahmadi Muslims pay people to join the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
This meritless allegation is yet another conspiracy theory. I’m reminded of a funny story my father, an Imam, related from the early 1980s, shortly after Ahmadi Muslims were declared “non-Muslim” in Pakistan. A young man came to my father and declared his desire to become an Ahmadi Muslim. When my father inquired why, the man expressed his frustration at having to pay the Zakat tax of roughly 2.5%—and that if he were an Ahmadi, he would be exempt as a non-Muslim. Smiling, my father advised that every Ahmadi Muslim willingly contributes anywhere from 6.25% to 33% of his or her income to charity. Upon hearing this, the young man got up shocked and stormed out of the mosque.
The fact is, whenever the Qur’an mentions belief in God, it also mentions giving charity in service of humanity. This is why Ahmadi Muslims readily and eagerly sacrifice their incomes—Islam makes it our fundamental obligation to fulfill as Muslims.
Bottom Line: Far from giving people money to “join” the community, Ahmadi Muslims—new and old—consider it a privilege to contribute their hard earned finances to the service of humanity.
Fabrication 9: Ahmadi Muslims have changed the Qur’an and have invented new hadith to suit their needs
While no Muslim leader has ever actually presented a single example of Ahmadi Muslims changing the Qur’an or inventing ahadith, this myth perpetuates. In making such an allegation Muslim leaders only succeed in maligning the Qur’an, as the Qur’an itself promises that it will not be changed.
Bottom Line: Ahmadi Muslims wholly embrace the Qur’an and read from the same one true Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Fabrication 10: Ahmadi Muslims don’t perform Hajj to Mecca
As devout Muslims, Hajj is an important part of every Ahmadi Muslim’s life. It is a pillar of Islam and an obligation on all Muslims who are physically and financially able to perform this pilgrimage. The myth that Ahmadi Muslims don’t perform Hajj stems from Pakistan, where Ahmadi Muslims are forbidden from performing Hajj.
Pakistan has mandated that anyone who performs Hajj must sign a form declaring all Ahmadi Muslims as infidels, liars, and apostates. Pakistan is the world’s only nation that imposes this barbaric and draconian requirement. But, Pakistan does so because they know Ahmadi Muslims won’t sign the form. Accordingly, Pakistan forcibly prevents Ahmadi Muslims from performing Hajj. A forcible restriction is a far cry from Ahmadi Muslims choosing not to perform Hajj.
I personally know countless Ahmadi Muslims—even members of my immediate family—who have performed both Hajj and Umrah (a lesser Hajj) to Mecca.
Bottom Line: Ahmadi Muslims perform Hajj because it is a pillar of Islam.
This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you a good picture of what unfortunate and meritless allegations Ahmadi Muslims face from other Muslims on a regular basis. This is particularly perplexing considering the growing bouts of Islamophobia all Muslims face. One would think that Muslims who suffer through Islamophobic hate-mongering would actively avoid discriminating against Ahmadi Muslims. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the hypocrisy is astounding when some Muslims yet discriminate against Ahmadi Muslims while experiencing anti-Islamic bigotry themselves.
In short, if you want to learn about Islam from the Ahmadiyya perspective, reach out to an Ahmadi Muslim personally or visit the official website.
Though Muslim leadership largely remains silent and tacitly endorses the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims while promoting the aforementioned misinformation, the Muslim youth and young Muslim leaders are rising up for pluralism. My hope and prayer is that in the coming years we can continue to work together to dispel misinformation and advance a common intra-faith platform of service to humanity.