In the wake of the horrific murder of Mr. Asad Shah in Glasgow, the Ahmadis are in the spotlight again. Not for the first time, the Ahmadis are being used as an ideological football by the apologists for Islamic ideology. The Ahmadiyya slogan:
‘love for all, hatred for none’
is being repeated far and wide.
The first thing to emphasize about the Ahmadis is that they are a tiny sect both in the world overall and within the UK. There are only around 30,000 Ahmadis in the UK. Their beliefs are radically different from those of mainstream Islam, because they believe in a messiah called the Mahdi who lived in the 19th century. Unlike the example of Mohammed’s career, the Mahdi’s teachings were truly peaceful, and so Ahmadiyya beliefs can also be categorized as peaceful, except in self-defence.
Should we criticize the Ahmadi beliefs? Since their beliefs are peaceful it is tempting not to, but I find their beliefs very problematic for a number of reasons. In the first place, they revere Mohammed, who is not a man who should be revered. Even if you overlook the violence of his career, there are still insurmountable problems with other aspects of his life, such as the marriage to the 6 year old Aisha. Then there are also the many bad and dangerous ideas Mohammed had about hygiene, such as that described in Abu Dawud 1,67. The Ahmadi apparently do not believe in abrogation, rather they believe that all statements in the Koran were valid at the time they were supposedly made. This effectively condones some truly terrible and unnecessary events, such as the Banu Qurayza massacre. It would also appear to condone Mohammed’s taking of captives as slaves (see Koran 33:26). There is also the very problematic statement that the disbelievers are the “vilest of animals”, not something that really warms the heart of any Muslim towards the disbelievers (see Koran 8:55).
The biggest problem I see with the Ahmadis however is the way they sometimes inadvertently cloud the understanding of Islam among the uneducated non-Muslim population. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK ran a campaign on London buses where they prominently displayed the words:
“Muslims for Loyalty, Freedom & Peace”
and the “Love for All, Hatred for None” slogan was also contained as part of their website URL, also displayed prominently. Only in much smaller letters in the bottom right corner were the words “Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK” displayed. Such a campaign could easily lead the uneducated into thinking that these are the messages of mainstream Islam, which they are not.
They have long suffered persecution from mainstream Muslims in Pakistan particularly, and tragically it now seems that persecution is more and more a feature of their life in the UK as well. Imams have been reported as encouraging their congregations to boycott Ahmadi shops, for example:
An attempt to stage a condolence event for the murder of Mr. Shah apparently had to be cancelled when the organizers were threatened:
The very first mosque to be built in London was an Ahmadi mosque called the Fazl mosque. In fact the Ahmadi are known for often being the first to have made contact with other countries more widely as well. Could it be that their early arrival on our shores helped to lure us into a false sense of security about the Islamic faith more generally? Perhaps the Ahmadi community could do us all (including themselves) a favour and in future make it absolutely clear that they are representatives of the Ahmadiyya movement, and not representatives of Muslims in general.