Prophets of Peace.
By Earl Shugerman:
Most people outside Israel are not aware of the fact that 25% of Israel’s population, are not from a Jewish background, and among them are Christians, Muslims, and Druze. Many people outside of this region are not aware of the diversity of streams within these faiths. One of the most wonderful joys of life in Israel is that each of the major religions is represented by a myriad of religious streams. The differences aren’t just theological, but are social, political, financial, and educational. For example, there are four Arab political parties in the governing body of Israel – The Knesset. There are numerous Jewish political parties with a wide divergence of philosophy and goals.
Haifa is the spiritual center of the Ahmadiyya in Israel. The meaning of the word Ahmadiyya in Arabic means stream. This is a Muslim religious movement numbering in the millions worldwide . The majority of the movements’ members are in Pakistan and India, but they have a significant population in over 195 countries in the world. In Israel their numbers are small, and they are primarily located in the community of Cabbabir. This is a village within Haifa, which is the third largest city in Israel. I live next to the pleasant community of mid-priced homes, tree lined streets, parks, and small cafes. The lower part of Cabbabir has a wonderful view of the sea. I love to wander around the neighborhood and mingle with the local residents. Arabic and Hebrew are widely spoken and some English.
The Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated that he had been bestowed the attributes of all Biblical and non-Biblical Prophets, in accordance with a verse of the Qur’an which states that all prophets will converge into one person in the future. Mirza Ghulam. Ahmad stated that this was due to his receiving revelation from G-d in which G-d called him:
He claimed that he was the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by Muslims. The adherents of the Ahmadiyya sect are referred to as Ahmadis or Ahmadi Muslims. Ahmadi emphasis lay in the belief that Islam is the final law for humanity as revealed to Muhammad and the necessity of restoring to it its true essence and pristine form, which had been lost through the centuries. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam. The Ahmadis were among the earliest Muslim communities to arrive in Britain and other Western countries.
Orthodox Muslims consider the Ahmadi movement to be heretical and non-Muslim for a number of reasons. The primary reason is the question of the finality of prophethood, since they believe members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community do not regard the Islamic prophet Muhammad as the last prophet. Mainstream Muslims do not accept Ghulam Ahmad to have fulfilled the prophecies about the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. According to mainstream Muslims, Ghulam Ahmad’s failure to establish a perfect worldwide Muslim government invalidates his claim to be the promised Mahdi and Messiah and hence he is seen as a false prophet. The Ahmadis suffer discrimination in many Muslim nations due to their interpretation of Islam and in other nations that see all Muslims as violent or as cultural threats.
Ahmadis also hold that the Muslims have erred with regard 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. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is “Love for All, Hatred for None.”
Islam, a name given by Allah to this religion (Quran 5:4), is an Arabic word which literally means obedience and peace. ISLAM is derived from the Arabic root “SALEMA”: peace, purity, submission and obedience. So Islam would mean the path of those who are obedient to Allah and who establish peace with Him and His creatures. Its follower are called Muslims.
The Ahmadiyya live as peaceful and responsible citizens of Israel, as they do in all countries in which they inhabit. I have been blessed to participate in many interfaith activities during my five years in Haifa. Several of these activities have been with my Ahmadi friends and neighbors. My favorite was a youth soccer tournament held at their school in Haifa in October of 2009. Jewish and Muslim youth enjoyed a beautiful fall day of sports, pizza, and fellowship! Rabbi Edgar Nof brought a group of young sports enthusiasts to play soccer, basketball and build friendships with their Muslim counterparts. The coach of the Jewish team was a visiting Southern Baptist envoy from Texas named Timothy Crowe. We all enjoyed a great experience and built new friendships that we still enjoy and treasure today.