Source: Huffington Post
By Kashif N. Chaudhry, Physician, writer and human rights activist
An Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper, Mr. Asad Shah, was recently stabbed to death in Glasgow, UK. Mr. Tanveer Ahmad, a Sunni Muslim of Pakistani origin, claimed he committed the act because Asad had “disrespected Islam.” In his eyes, Asad was a blasphemer. The Sunni extremist group, Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nubuwat (AMTKN), found to have links with Al Qaeda, sent out a message congratulating all Muslims on Asad’s murder. Just a few days later, ‘Kill Ahmadis’ pamphlets were found at the group’s Mosque in Stockwell. Other Sunni groups in Pakistan also praised Mr. Tanveer as a hero of Islam and congratulated the Sunnis on his “courageous act.”
Following the murder, the Muslim Council of Britain released a statement clarifying that they would not identify Mr. Asad Shah as a Muslim. King’s College academic Mr. Shiraz Maher also voiced the same sentiment, asking if there was a problem if he did not consider Mr. Asad Shah a ‘real Muslim?’ Also following the murder, a sign calling on fellow Sunnis to boycott the Ahmadi Muslims and sever all ties with them was put up at the largest Sunni Mosque in Slough, UK. “Qadianis (pejorative for Ahmadi Muslims) … are not Muslims,” the sign said.
Where Mr. Asad Shah’s murder has brought different communities together in solidarity, it has also brought a deep-rooted, disturbing, sectarian phenomenon to the fore.
Ahmadi Muslims, who constitute the largest organized Muslim community in the world, have long been persecuted in Sunni-majority countries. In 1974, Pakistan declared the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority in its constitution. In 1984, new laws restricting their religious freedom were passed. Since then, scores of Ahmadi Muslims – including three of my uncles – have been jailed for reciting the Quran, praying like a Muslim, saying the Muslim call to prayer, identifying as a Muslim etc. Interestingly, when Mr. Toaha Qureshi of the notorious Stockwell Mosque was questioned regarding this well-known apartheid of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, he conveniently placed the blame on the victims themselves. “No they do not (live in fear). That is their desire, to come here and get political asylum. Nothing else,” he claimed.
It is not only the Pakistani State. Saudi Arabia also bans the Ahmadi Muslims from open profession. Indonesia has strict laws that restrict the religious freedom of the Ahmadi Muslims. The basis of this oppression is the orthodox Sunni view (shared by some Shia clerics) that aspects of the Ahmadiyya belief make them unfit to identify as Muslim. This certainly begs the question, who is a Muslim? And who has the authority to dismiss self-identifying Muslims as ‘infidels?’
When people converted to Islam, Prophet Muhammad – the founder of the Islamic faith – only required them to pledge allegiance to the oneness of God and the truth of his prophetic mission. There was no other requirement whatsoever. This is why Muslims have long believed that the Kalima (proclaiming oneness of God and prophethood of Muhammad) is the basis of the Islamic faith. The question of who would be counted as a Muslim came up during the first census in the State of Medina. Prophet Muhammad asked that anyone who claimed to be Muslim be counted as one. Their profession of Islam was all he required to be considered a part of the Muslim community. There was no religious test devised to test a claimant’s ‘Muslimness.’ Prophet Muhammad knew well that there were hypocrites living in Medina, some of whom were even conspiring against him. Prophet Muhammad knew that they did not even consider him a true prophet. Yet, not only did he never forbid them from identifying with the Muslims, he allowed them open access to his Mosque. Rather than forbid them from praying and punishing them for ‘posing as Muslim,’ he in fact prayed with them, and for them.
— The Muslim Times (@The_MuslimTimes) November 17, 2017