Extremist Clerics Meet in Northern Virginia, Glorify Armed Jihad, Label America “Land of the Infidels” & Condemn Muslims who ‘Reject Jihad.’
American Muslims are often asked to apologize for religious extremism carried out in the name of Islam. I believe this is an unfair demand. What is fair though is the expectation that us Muslims be the first to call out the extremists within the wider American Muslim Community, whenever we see them. And this is why I am writing this piece. Because like any other community, there are nut-jobs within our fold too.
This past weekend, two radical Sunni groups, ‘Idara Dawat-O-Irshad, U.S.A. Inc’ & ‘Khatme Nabuwwat Center, Inc.’ (both registered in Virginia) organized an event at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield, VA. Interested in knowing what the groups were offering to American Muslim audiences, I drove down from Baltimore to attend the event.
Right at the entrance to the conference hall, extremist literature glorifying ‘Holy War’ and condemning the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as ‘Kafir’ (infidels) and depicting them as ‘the greatest enemy of Islam’ was being openly displayed and distributed.
Keep in mind, I identify as an Ahmadi Muslim too. It gets interesting.
I greeted some of the organizers and sat myself quietly in the second row. Most speakers at the event were Pakistani American Imams who identified as “Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaah” (Sunnis). The keynote speaker, Mufti Habibur Rehman Ludhyanvi, had flown all the way from Pakistan. The audience was also heavily Pakistani in origin, with tens of kids and youth in attendance. The event, titled “Final Prophet Conference,” was primarily a recruitment and fundraising effort, with a special focus on young Muslim Americans.
The director of Idara Dawat-O-Irshad, Imam Omar F. Khan, opened the event by welcoming the audience and introducing the speakers. At this point, no one knew I was an Ahmadi. It just didn’t come up. But wait for it.
Mufti Shazad Hussain, currently the Imam at Springfield’s ‘Masjid Noor’ Mosque took to the podium and glorified the notion of armed Jihad, condemning Ahmadi Muslims as infidels for rejecting the ‘Jihadist’ ideology.
“Most of the (Indian) people in the frontline against the British were Muslims,” he claimed. But along came Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who forbade the Muslims from waging violent Jihad and preached that “this is something that should not be done.” Hussain bemoaned that while Muslims were awaiting a Messiah who would wage wars for Islam, Ahmad instead said, “I am not going to do it through any bloodshed or wars, but through arguments.”
In the literature that was passed out, repeated references were made to Ahmad’s prohibition of armed Jihad against a non-Muslim government, an “act of treason against Muslims.” Multiple speakers condemned the Ahmadis and held them responsible for discouraging Muslims from partaking in violent Jihad, a concept which they believed was widespread before ‘these infidels’ (Ahmadis) corrupted it.
During his rant against Ahmadi Muslims, Mr. Hussain also urged American Muslims not to cooperate with the Ahmadis on any forum, even if it be a matter of defending Islam or combatting Islamophobia. He said that the Ahmadis say “because Islam is being attacked from all corners, we as Muslims should work together. But glory be to Allah.. we have decided not to support anything they say.”
Mr. Shazad Hussain is a graduate of Pakistan’s Jamia Binoria seminary in Karachi, known for bigotry and extremism. The principal of Jamia Binoria, Mufti Naeem, recently released a video message praying for the “complete annihilation” of the Ahmadis. The seminary has also issued edicts declaring the Shiites infidel and forbidding Muslims from wishing Christians and other non-Muslims well on their sacred holidays. According to a BBC report, the seminary is credited with producing several students who later took to terrorism.
After stating that the Ahmadis were followers of a ‘false prophet,’ Mr. Usman Ahsan, a graduate of Dar-ul-Uloom Canada, who currently gives sermons at Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center in Manassas, Virginia elaborated on the punishment for following a ‘false prophet.’ He related the stories of ‘false prophets’ after Prophet Muhammad’s demise, and stressed on how Islam’s first caliph waged a military operation and killed them and their followers. In reality, no one was killed by any Islamic caliph merely for their claims.
“Do you know there was a man who claimed prophethood at the time of the prophet of Allah. His name was Musailma Kadhab. Hadhrat Abu Bakr (the first claiph of Islam) immediately gathered a crowd of the companions and formed an army and dispatched them to go and fight and put an end to this man. Keep in mind, Musailma believed in Allah and the prophet of Allah. Why did Hadhrat Abu Bakr decide to go and confront him? Because his beliefs were wrong.”
“He (Musailma) claimed prophethood and that was enough to diapach an army.” Mr. Ahsan then rhetroically asked, “Was this (war) all in vain?” “Of course not.” And to make sure the audience knew that this commandment was for all times, he added:
“And uptil today, that consensus of the Ummah (regarding the punishment of ‘false prophets’ and their followers) has been established and it is alive and it is thriving.”
Mufti Qareeb ur Rehman, another graduate of Jamia Binoria Karachi, and currently an Imam at the Manassas Muslim Association in Manassas, Virginia also engaged in anti-Ahmadi vitriol and incited the crowd by repeating the same stories of ‘false prophets,’ and how Islam’s Caliphs had them and their followers killed.
“Musailma had a large amount of followers. He was killed by Hadhrat Abu Bakr,” Rehman stressed.
To be sitting a mere ten feet away and hearing this venomous rhetoric was extremely troubling. It is after such incitement by clerics that innocent Ahmadis are attacked in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, and recently even in the U.K.
Maulana Rafiq Khan, one of the chief organizers of the conference, then spoke extensively against the Ahmadi Muslims, claiming that the Ahmadis were a great cancer, fast spreading and needed to be stopped quick.
“Qadianis (pejorative for Ahmadi Muslims) have copies of the Quran placed in hotels, motels & libraries across America and Canada,” he complained.
He held a copy of the English translation of the Quran by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (online here), urging all Muslims to try their best to get those copies removed from public libraries in the United States. No, not the KKK, this was a ‘Muslim’ cleric disturbed by copies of the Quran in the public eye.
Mr. Rafiq Khan was also infuriated at Ahmadis identifying their places of worship as Mosques. “We cannot allow them to refer to their places of worship as Mosques,” he stressed. He repeatedly called on lawyers within the Muslim community to use all legal measures possible to stop the Ahmadis from posing as Muslims. “This is unbearable,” he complained.
During a break between two sessions, an attendee approached me. “I think you look familiar. I have seen your videos on Youtube. Are you Kashif?” In Pakistan, I’d probably have to run for my life at this point. I turned to him with a smile instead, and replied, “Yes, I am Kashif, and yes I am an Ahmadi Muslim.” I returned to the conference hall, this time much more cautious. Mufti Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, the keynote speaker, had taken the mic.
Mr. Ludhianvi angrily questioned where the ‘true Muslims’ in America were? He repeated the demand to outlaw the religious profession of Ahmadi Muslims, who he referred to as the greatest cancer in the world. He also called for a ban on the acceptance of Ahmadi refugees to the United States. No, this was not a right-wing Islamophobe group calling for a ‘Muslim ban.’ Or may be it was.
Mr. Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi urged Muslims to boycott the Ahmadis completely and have no social relations of any sort with them. “This is impermissible,” he said. “Can we at least work for an Ahmadi?” one attendee asked. He replied: “Only if you are dying of hunger. Even then, your love for Islam requires that you not work with, or for the Qadianis.” There goes the poor man’s job.
In response to someone asking if we could have debates with the Ahmadis, Ludhianvi cautioned: “There are only two solutions Allah has suggested for these ignorant people (referring to Ahmadis). First, the Book, if not, then Force. There is no room whatsoever for dialogue.” He then reminded the audience to use slurs for the Ahmadis. “Forget about calling them Muslims, even referring to the “Qadianis” as Ahmadis is wrong.” We must refer to them as “Mirzais” or “Qadianis” (both terms used in a derogatory manner for Ahmadi Muslims).
The organizers still hadn’t been informed of my presence.
The Q/A session began, and as per rules, I wrote down my questions as well. One question I asked was about the ruling of the clerics on Sunni Muslim activists like Linda Sarsour and Khaled Beydoun who hold no prejudice and openly work with Shia and Ahmadi Muslims. Mufti Habibur Rehman Ludhyanvi condemned such Sunni activists. “They will be counted with the infidels,” he said.
During the talks and off-line discussions, multiple speakers, especially Mr. Rafiq Khan, repeatedly referred to America as the Kafiristan, “the land of the infidels.”
“You might be thinking that America is a land of the infidels. Then why am I stressing so much on the Qadianis? That is because the difference between other infidels and the Qadiani infidels is extraordinary,” he explained.
The organizers appealed to Muslims to make sure that a Muslim running for public office in America was a “true believer,” lest they mistakenly vote for a deviant (Ahmadi or Shia) or a non-practising Muslim. “These infidels (Ahmadis) are worse than the Christians and the Jews,” the audience was told.
In the following minutes, everyone in the room knew of my presence. All eyes were now on me.
I moved to the front and greeted the speakers. I asked a few questions to which I received no straight answers, except the affirmation that I was an infidel in their eyes. I asked Mr. Omar F. Khan (who had declared the Ahmadis and Shias infidel) how he defined a Muslim. He kept changing goal posts. I then decided to say goodbye. And as I was leaving, I said Salam (Muslim greeting) to the clerics. There was complete silence. No one responded. I repeated the Salam.
“We only reply to the greeting of Muslims,” Rafiq Khan coldly replied.
As I walked out, I was in utter disbelief. How in. the world could extremists hold such open rallies in America to radicalize Muslim youth?
It disturbs me a lot to see such extremist, Nazi-esque rhetoric with the potential to hurt American lives being promoted so brazenly near the United States Capital. That the organizers would raise funds (each attendee was asked to contribute $100) to recruit and help organize similar events across the country in the coming days is cause for even more anxiety.
It is also preposterous that extremist clerics like Mr. Ludhianvi are issued visas to the United States and innocent refugees fleeing religious extremism are forcibly kept ashore. Instead of feeling threatened by poor victims of terrorism, the government and law enforcement should turn their attention to hate groups that are busy promoting extremism right here on American soil.