Spotlight on a globally-persecuted Muslim community as Modi lands in Israel

No one has the right to call us non-Muslims, says spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat

Sai Manish | New Delhi
Last Updated at July 4, 2017


The Mahmud Moosque in Kababir in Israel where Ahmadiyyas can practice their faith freelyThe Mahmud Moosque in Kababir in Israel where Ahmadiyyas can practice their faith freely

The Ahmadiyya community, which is being persecuted in Islamic nations across the world from Pakistan to Indonesia and from Africa to West Asia, traces its origins to India. Though scattered across India, the Ahmadiyyas are concentrated in Qadian in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab where the community’s founder was born. Although they have been counted as Muslims in Census 2011, the Muslim Personal Law Board considers them to be non-Muslims owing to which the community does not find representation on the board. The Mahmud Mosque in the port city of Kababir in Israel is the only Ahmadiyya mosque in West Asia. Israel is also the only country in the region where Ahmadiyya Muslims can follow their faith without fearing state persecution.

In an interview Tariq Ahmad, spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in India talks about the issues confronting the community in the light of PM Modi’s visit to Israel

Q: What are the expectations of your community from PM Modi’s Israel visit

A: All foreign tours of PM Modi have contributed to the development of the nation and we expect the same from his Israel visit as well.

Q: Can you tell us more about the Ahmadiyya mosque in Israel?

A: The Mahmud Mosque is the mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Kababir, Haifa. This was built by the Ahmaidyya Muslim community in 1970’s. This Mosque and its minarets bear a resemblance to peace, love and harmony and is spreading this message since half a century.

Q: How frequent is the interaction between the Ahmadiyya community in India & Israel?

A: There is no interaction between our communities in these two nations. The Ahmadiyya community in each and every country is directly linked to the Khalifa, the spiritual and administrative head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community who resides in London. Ahmadiyyas in various countries only interact with the Khalifa and not with each other. We do not have any coordination with the community in Israel. There may be a mosque in Israel and a mosque in India but the community directly interacts with the Khalifa.

Q: The Ahmadiyyas have been facing violence across the world. There have been reports of certain incidents against your community in India also. What do you make of them?

A: In India, we have a secular government which supports the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at every level. If there is violence from certain fringe groups or orthodox Muslims, the government has always supported us. Whenever there have been untoward incidents against the community, the government of the day has stepped in. These kinds of incidents have reduced over the years. For instance, in 2011, we were holding an exhibition of Quran in Delhi. Some other Muslim sects formed a mob and protested against the exhibition. The Delhi Police advised us to close the Quran exhibition before time. Likewise in Hyderabad, there have been instances of violence against the community. But these are rare instances and whenever we report these, action is taken. The violence against the community is much higher in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia where we face severe prosecution. In India, the community is safer because the government ensures that our life and property is protected from those who want to bring us harm. This is not the case with Pakistan. In 1974, the Ahmadiyya community was declared non-Muslims there. In 1984, General Zia Ul Haq passed an ordinance against Ahmadiyya Muslims prohibiting them from using certain Islamic phrases and greetings. He did not want us to practice any Islamic teaching.

Q: Certain Muslim groups in India have said the same in the past. Does that bother you?

A: No this does not bother us. Nobody has the right to declare anybody as Muslim or non-Muslim. In India we have freedom of religion where anyone can follow any religion. We believe we are true Muslims. We believe in Islam. We believe in the holy Prophet Mohammad. We practice Islam and we act according to the teachings of Islam.

Q: How different is your Islam from that of Sunnis?

A: In Islam, the holy Prophet said that there will be a reformer whose birth will take place for the reformation of Islam. Mainstream Muslims believe that according to this prophecy Jesus, who was prophet of the Christians was taken up to the heavens by god. He is still alive there and will descend from the heavens in the times to come. But the Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that this is a metaphorical interpretation. We believe that Jesus wasn’t taken to heavens but he lived his life on earth as a prophet and died. The holy Prophet’s prophecy of the birth of reformer came true with the birth of Hazrat Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. He was born in Qadian in 1835 and was proclaimed to be the reformer of Islam in 1891. We believe him to be the promised reformer while mainstream Muslims wait for Jesus to descend from the heavens as the promised Messiah.

Q: Do you wish PM Modi visited the Mahmud Mosque in Kababir as a symbolic gesture?

A: We would not like to comment on this issue. Any visit to the mosque would not have any positive or negative impact on the community.

Q: Does not being given representation on the Muslim Personal Law Board bother you?

A: They do not consider us Muslims. If we could be given representation it would be good for our community. We hope we are given representation on the Muslim Personal Law Board. But we are not actively discussing this issue. It is in nature of the community that we do not resort to violence and we deal with these issues according to law of the land. We consider the mainstream Muslims to be also Muslims. But they have declared us to be non-Muslims. According to teachings of Islam, nobody has the right to declare someone else as non-Muslim.


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