He says the ruling makes sense as members of the sect are not considered Muslims in the first place.
GEORGE TOWN: The mufti of Penang has welcomed the High Court’s ruling yesterday allowing the followers of the Ahmadiah sect, labelled as deviant by Islamic authorities in Malaysia, to freely practise their faith amid actions against them by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).
Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor said the ruling was in the spirit of religious freedom as guaranteed in the Federal Constitution, adding that the Ahmadiah sect was never recognised as part of Islam.
He said the court’s ruling was also in the spirit of a decision by the National Islamic Affairs Council in 1984, branding Ahmadi followers as non-Muslims.
Wan Salim said as such, members of the Ahmadiah sect can be regarded as part of religion other than Islam.
“This means they cannot be accorded rights as a Muslim and their deceased may not be given an Islamic burial,” he told FMT.
In a landmark ruling by the Shah Alam High Court yesterday, judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera said Jais had no right to stop religious activities of the Ahmadi community in Selangor.
Thirty-nine members of the sect had challenged the department for trying to charge them with shariah offences, on the basis that Islamic authorities in Selangor do not recognise Ahmadi followers as Muslims.
The judge said a fatwa gazetted by the state in 2001 showed that the group was considered apostates, and as such Jais would have no jurisdiction over them.
Most Muslims regard the Ahmadiah sect, which is based on the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (d. 1908), as deviant, citing Ahmadiah followers’ belief that Mirza Ahmad is the promised Messiah.
Mainstream Muslims believe the Messiah to be Jesus the son of Mary.
The Ahmadi community claims to have tens of millions of followers throughout the world. It currently has its headquarters in Britain.
There is also a strong presence of the Ahmadi community in Penang.
Wan Salim said among beliefs of the sect is that Mirza Ahmad was a prophet who received revelations from God
He said the Penang Fatwa Committee also does not regard Ahmadiah followers as Muslims.
But he said while religious authorities cannot prevent members of the sect to practise their faith, they could be prosecuted for preaching their faith to other Muslims.
“Non-Muslims cannot be punished with the murtad (apostasy) offence,” he said