Should the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community be considered (or consider themselves) as a ‘Sect’?
First let us see how various dictionaries define the word ‘Sect’:
Sect – Pronunciation: /sɛkt/noun
– a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong. often derogatory a group that has separated from an established Church; a nonconformist Church:
– two of the older sects—the Congregationalists and the Baptists—were able to increase their membership dramatically
– a philosophical or political group, especially one regarded as extreme or dangerous:
– the radical sect Friends of the Earth campaigned against aerosols containing CFC gases
AND another source:
Sect – noun
1. a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination.
2. a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition.
3. (in the sociology of religion) a Christian denomination characterized by insistence on strict qualifications for membership, as distinguished from the more inclusive groups called churches.
You will notice that first of all the definition ‘sect’ is really one within the Christian Community.
Furthermore I would like to emphasize the word ‘often derogatory’ from the explanation of the Oxford dictionary and ‘as deviating’ from the ‘dictionary.com’ explanation.
In other languages, such as German, the same word ‘Sekte’ also has a strongly ‘derogatory’ ring to it.
Now looking at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat (Community) the word ‘deviating’ does not apply. The members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat feel that other Muslims are ‘deviating’ from true Islam. The Muslim Times and http://www.alislam.org is proving that with uncountable articles and contributions. Although the ‘others’ may be more in numbers (so far), still it is not the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat that is deviating from True Islam.
Consequently I would strongly suggest to all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat never to use the word ‘Sect’ when describing that Jamaat (Community). ‘Jamaat’ seems the better option and if we do have to translate that word it could be ‘Community’. Or does anyone have a better translation (for the word ‘Jamaat’)?