Orthodox Muslims consider both Ahmadi movements to be heretics and non-Muslims
June 16, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

'Why Pakistan's Ahmadi community is officially detested. When a Pakistani Muslim applies for a passport or national ID card, they are asked to sign an oath that no Muslim anywhere in the world is asked to sign. The oath goes like this: "I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad an impostor prophet. And also consider his followers, whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group, to be non-Muslims."'Last month" "more than 90 Ahmadis were massacred in two mosques in Lahore". But Ahmadis are persecuted in many other countries. In Bangladesh 'Ahmadiyyas have become a persecuted group, targeted via protests and acts of violence.' Even in Indonesia, "religious conservatives put pressure on the government to monitor, and harass the Ahmadiyya community".

"Ahmadiyya shares beliefs with Islam in general, including belief in the prophethood of Muhammad, reverence for historical prophets, belief in the oneness of God (tawhid). They accept the Qur'an as their holy text, face the Kaaba during prayer, accept the authority of Hadiths (reported sayings of and stories about Muhammad) and practice the Sunnah.
Central to the Ahmadiyya is the belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. Ahmadis emphasize the implementation of the Kalima (the fundamental creed of Islam) as essentially linked with the Islamic principles of the rights of God (Arabic: Haqooq-Allah) and the rights of His creation (mankind) (Arabic: Haqooqul-Ibād).
Ahmadis believe that Ghulam Ahmad was divinely commissioned to establish the unity of God, remind mankind of their duties towards God and God's creation, to emphasize both aspects of religion which Ahmadis believe is the need of the present age. As such Ahmadis hold that Ghulam Ahmad was the representative and spiritual readvent of all previous prophets. From the Ahmadiyya perspective, the Christians have erred with regards to the rights of God in that they have attributed divine status to a mortal human, and it is on this account that in Islamic eschatology the promised reformer has been named the Mahdi (the "Guided One"—a title meaning one who is naturally guided and is an heir to all truths and in whom the attribute of "guide" of the Almighty is fully represented). Ahmadis also hold that the Muslims have erred with regards to the rights of creation for they, unjustly raising the sword and calling it Jihad, have misunderstood the concept and purpose of jihad in Islam; it is on this account that he has been called the Isa Messih ("Jesus the Messiah")—a term which relates to his function in re-establishing the rights of people by reforming their distorted, violent notion of "Jihad" just as Jesus Christ came principally to reform the hearts and attitudes of the Jewish nation.
Giving precedence to faith over worldly pursuits is also a fundamental principle in Ahmadiyya teachings with emphasised relevance to the present age of materialistic prevalence."
posted by VikingSword (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
So they're like the Mormons of Islam but without all the polygamy?

I like the part where they shun the first muslim nobel laureate. Apparently he was so bright he has his own GUT named after him. From the BBC article:

"Dr Abdus Salam Khan won the Nobel Prize for physics and, as a proud Pakistani, accepted his award in national dress. But he was an Ahmadi so there is no monument to celebrate him, no universities named after him. The word "Muslim" on his gravestone has been erased. Even the town he is buried in has been renamed in an attempt to erase our collective memory."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:33 PM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

There is an Ahmadi mosque where I live. I remember after 9/11 we were having a discussion in History class and a student mentioned that there were a bunch of protesters outside of it. Our teacher, who was a Sunni Muslim, started laughing and said that the 9/11 attackers would have gladly joined those people in their protest.
posted by nestor_makhno at 2:51 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

So they're like the Mormons of Islam but without all the polygamy?

That may be an apt modern comparison, but really this sounds more like the Islamic equivalent of Jesus's followers vs. Judaism, especially considering the official animosity leveled at the group.

In the early days, Mormons were despised for a host reasons, not the least of which was their practice of polygamy, behavior that most Protestant/Puritan Americans would have found absolutely appalling. But this was mostly a social/community reaction (i.e. these strange religious nuts are cramping our style, let's run them out of the county). There were also some unfortunate events which did not endear the nomadic Mormon community to the locals.*

But it sounds to me like the persecution of the Ahmadi movement is more of an official religious reaction, much like the Hebrew leaders getting pissed off at Jesus' heretical teachings (remember, he claimed he was their Messiah and frequently criticized established Jewish religious thought). The Ahmadi movement has a messiah-like figure, and they frequently tell other Muslims that their way of thinking is incorrect.

Fascinating stuff, but also terrible that this kind of persecution still exists.

*Full disclosure: I'm a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
posted by jnrussell at 3:00 PM on June 16, 2010

Actually, it appears they pretty much are the Mormons of Islam: the central claim of this Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but went to Kashmir and later died naturally, and that he "came in the spirit" of Jesus (or "Isa" to Muslims). So in the sense that they're based around an alternative Jesus narrative, the Mormon comparison seems pretty apt.

This is all from skimming the Wiki article on Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, I could easily have gotten it wrong.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:03 PM on June 16, 2010

So they're like the Mormons of Islam but without all the polygamy?

No, they have practiced polygamy and continue to do so, like many Muslims.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:30 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

So they're like the Mormons of Islam but without all the polygamy?

No, not at all, at least in terms of social attitudes. One of my closest friends is an Ahmadi Muslim raised in Denmark (how's that for an amazing combination of cultures?). She and her whole family are extremely progressive. She's told me that one of the reasons Ahmadis are so villified is that they do tend to be more progressive.

Honestly, I'm taken aback at the snark in this thread. We're talking about real persecution here; in that sense, LOLMormons snarking seems really insensitive and unhelpful.
posted by lunasol at 3:53 PM on June 16, 2010

I don't thing it's snark so much as trying to find a conceptual peg to hang one's hat on; Ahmadiyya is pretty unknown to a lot of North Americans, even those of us who've managed to parse out the differences between Shia, Sunni, Sufi and Wahhabi, so calling them "the Mormons of the Muslim world" is sort of conceptual shorthand, and not entirely inaccurate on the surface. Both are movements that showed up in the past couple of centuries via divine revelation that "corrected" previous orthodoxy, both have been severely persecuted, both aren't considered "real" members of the original religion, etc.).

That said, it's pretty clear that there are some major differences, the largest perhaps being a progressivism which seems innate to the religion from its very beginnings.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:13 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

An excellent post. Thanks for trying to raise awareness of this virtually unknown (in the West) persecuted group.
posted by languagehat at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2010

"like many Muslims."

You mean like many humans. Unless you're going to claim that polygamy is unique to Islam as a religion rather than something that has to do with cultural attitudes.

"more like the Islamic equivalent of Jesus's followers vs. Judaism"

I think we're talking apples and oranges here. All three examples are pretty much the same narrative. And Lunasol don't you think your being a little over the top considering your country has been "persecuting", oh sorry, I mean "liberating" the muslim world since 2001. So I think as Americans we are a little beyond snark here.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2010

Ahmadiyya are pacifists. Mormons are not, and their early history is pretty blood-drenched. Nor are the Mormons liberal as a group. The Ahmadiyya tend towards education, critical thinking and acceptance.

The persecution of the Ahmadiyya, started by Zia to try to gain support by demonizing a minority, is a sad, murderous story. If you must have a USian analogy, some of the dissenters that the Puritans drove out of New England or the Quakers might be better. Still not very good, though.
posted by QIbHom at 5:02 PM on June 16, 2010

What, if any, is the relationship between the Bahai and the Ahmadis? As far as I knew, the Bahai arose in the mid19th century in Iran as the followers of a second prophet after Mohamed.

It seems a strange coincidence to have had two similar movements within such a short time and space (compared to the breadth of Islam).
posted by jb at 5:04 PM on June 16, 2010

Wouldn't the Ahmadi movement and its persecution be somewhat similar to the Alawites? Or the Hazara Shia in Afghanistan?

I think we can draw a parallel in Christian terms just so far, though the effort is appreciated. A few times, I've compared the Shia to medieval Protestants and the Sunni to medieval Catholics, in terms of power and suspicion about beliefs but I'm not sure I could take it any further.

Any Islamic scholars here?
posted by etaoin at 5:35 PM on June 16, 2010

One of my coworkers is Ahmadi. She is an awesome person. I think because of her conservative dress, people assume a lot of things about her that are way off base.

She told me a little about how her community is treated in Pakistan. It was pretty disturbing stuff. She is on vacation right now, and this is the first I have heard of this atrocity. It just makes my blood boil. I can only imagine how she feels, especially with family still in Pakistan.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:40 PM on June 16, 2010

"Ahmadiyya are pacifists. Mormons are not, and their early history is pretty blood-drenched. Nor are the Mormons liberal as a group. The Ahmadiyya tend towards education, critical thinking and acceptance. The persecution of the Ahmadiyya, started by Zia to try to gain support by demonizing a minority, is a sad, murderous story. If you must have a USian analogy..."

You mean like this? Granted the Ahmadi example happened much later in its lifetime than the Mormon example.

But you're right Mormons are not pacifists not that that has anything to do with Ahmadiyya's relationship to it's mother religion. Which is what I was trying to highlight in what I (mistakenly) thought was a humorous manner.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2010

Gen. Bhutto declared the Ahmadiyya a non-Muslim minority in 1974.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claimed divine revelation in restoring a corrupted Islam to a purer form. His revivalist teachings were an eclectic mix of Sufism and other Islamic and Christian elements. His claim to be a prophet sent by God, albeit not a "law-bearing" prophet, has enraged more orthodox Muslims. Ahmad was also convinced that Jesus survived his ordeal on the cross to die at a ripe old age—in Kashmir. This also challenges orthodox Islam, which holds that Jesus was raised alive to heaven. The attackers were the Punjabi Taliban.
So there it is; a Medievelist Religious persecution. In USA you had no medievalism so have to try and compare this to the Mormons. History is slightly older. The outrage here is that Pakistani politicians seem to have just shrugged the whole thing off. Not only did militants attack two Ahmedi houses of worship in Lahore resulting in the deaths of more than 80 people and leaving more than a 100 injured; within days, other militants attacked Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital where the injured were still recovering from the first attack. See Ahmadiyya Times (opens with sound).
posted by adamvasco at 12:43 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

The official persecution of Ahmedis in Pakistan is one of the things that makes me ashamed of my country as a country.

(Of course, also being American means that Guantanamo Bay is one of the things that makes me ashamed of my country as a country. But that's not really relevant to this thread. )

Declaring them non-Muslims was Bhutto's way of pandering to the religious orthodoxy. The mess it has made is unbelievable. In the case of this latest incident, it has meant that the press can not refer to the "houses of worship" as "mosques," amongst other things.

The public outrage is considerable, from what I can tell at a distance. The official ineptitude and negligence is horrific. The only qualifier I feel is appropriate is that their ineptitude and negligence has been pretty much the same with regard to attacks on other mosques in Lahore, Islamabad, and elsewhere, within the past 24 months. Not that this makes it any more excusable. It just makes it a smidgen less malicious.

One of those mosques was in my neighbourhood. I used to drive past the organized Friday prayer parking set up every single week on my way home from work. A good friend lost an uncle. If her grandfather had been alive, he would most certainly have died in that attack.I can't really write any more about this. I've been too upset about it since it happened.
posted by bardophile at 3:17 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

AElfwine Evenstar, yes, the Extermination Order in Missouri was pretty awful, but it doesn't compare to the persecution of the Ahmadiyya. The Ahmadiyya have a non-standard theology, but they don't go around violating local laws (which the Mormons did). Nor do they have a history of murders and assaults, which the early Mormons did.

Not all religious persecution is equal.

The Ahmadiyya have nothing to do with the Bahais. Why on earth would you think it odd, jb, that both developed around the same chaotic time? Buddhism, Confucianism and Jainism all started in the same century, is that odd? Does it mean they are related?
posted by QIbHom at 5:38 AM on June 17, 2010

I didn't say that there was any relationship, I asked if there was.

The Bahai faith came out of Islam, but have their own law-giving prophet. The Amadis are an Islamic sect also with a new prophet, albeit not a law-giving one. Both are considered to be heretics by some orthodox Muslims.
posted by jb at 8:51 AM on June 17, 2010

And Lunasol don't you think your being a little over the top considering your country has been "persecuting", oh sorry, I mean "liberating" the muslim world since 2001.

No, I don't think I'm being over the top. I can be both American and think that the murder of dozens of people on religious grounds is wrong. Honestly, I don't think my nationality excludes me from having opinions about human rights issues.

So I think as Americans we are a little beyond snark here.

Are you accusing me of snark? My comment was a good-faith effort to communicate my distress over the plight of a good friend and her family.
posted by lunasol at 9:26 AM on June 19, 2010

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