Islamic spokesmen like to represent their religion as a monolith — the frequently-cited “1.3 billion Muslims” who rise up as one at each new infidel outrage — but the reality is somewhat more nuanced. Offshoots and revised versions of Islam are considered heresies by the mainstream, yet they persist.
The heretics are punished whenever they appear, whether they are violent, as are as the Kharijis, the Isma’ilis, and of course the Shi’a, or peaceful, such as the Baha’is and the Ahmadiyya.
Patrick Sookhdeo, in his book Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam, gives this brief description of the Ahmadiyya sect (p. 195):
A generally non-violent interpretation of jihad is held by the Ahmadiyya sect (considered apostates by other Muslims, and regarded as non-Muslims in Pakistan where they are severely persecuted). Their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) rejected violent jihad as unnecessary in “a time of peace and security” such as India was enjoying under British rule. However they do permit fighting in self-defence, to punish aggressors, and to ensure freedom to convert to Islam — hence the raising of a volunteer corps of Ahmadis to fight in Kashmir alongside the Pakistani army after Pakistan’s independence in 1947.
As promised in the above verse of the Holy Quran, after the demise of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Promised Messiah and Mahdi), a system of Caliphate (Khilafat) was instituted in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat on May 27, 1908, which is similar to the Pious Caliphate (Khilafat-i-Rashida) that followed the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, under divine command founded the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in March 23, 1889, and began to accept initiation into the Jama’at. In 1890, under Divine Revelation he claimed to be the Promised Messiah as well as Imam Mahdi. He also claimed to be a subordinate Prophet of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) commissioned by Allah to serve the religion of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).
To proclaim himself not just the Mahdi, but an actual prophet, a successor to Mohammed himself, put Ahmad well beyond the pale of orthodox Islam. No wonder his followers have been persecuted.
The Pakistani government has prohibited the Ahmadiyya community of Rabwa, one of the largest in the world, from celebrating the great feast of khilafat: this is the system of succession of Islamic prophets, and is considered heretical by Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Federal police agents interrupted the celebrations, and put the promoters of the initiative under house arrest.
This is confirmed to AsiaNews by Saleem-ud-din, spokesman for the community, who says: “The agents came and prohibited us from marching, community meals, even from using fireworks. This is nothing but the latest violation of human rights in Pakistan”. Anthony Nadeem, a member of the Pakistan human rights commission, confirms: “what has taken place constitutes a serious violation of the declaration of human rights, and of the national constitution”.
Nadeem, who visited Rabwa to collect eyewitness reports, recounts: “the police arrested Mirza Younas, a local merchant, because he was selling coloured banners and hats with blessings for the centenary”. Other abuses of this kind have been seen all over the area, but now the Ahmadiyya community will seek to obtain the release of its members. None of those arrested, in fact, has been charged with anything.
The Ahmadiyya claim to be Muslim, but they do not recognise Mohammed as the last prophet: for this reason, they are considered heretics, and suffer severe violence and ostracism on the part of fundamentalists in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The Pakistani community is composed of about three million members, most of whom live in Punjab.
If Islam were a peaceful, tolerant, open-minded faith — as its spokesman would have us believe — the Ahmadis would be seen as harmless cranks, and would pose no more threat to the larger community than the Quakers do to Christianity.
But Islam can brook no deviation from the True Path. Those who veer from the way of the Prophet will only put themselves at risk.
Hat tip: insubria.