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Living with the Ahmadiyah


“WE have to live with those who do not accept Islam,” Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Osman Bakar tells The Nut Graph in a phone interview. Osman, who is deputy chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, says this applies to how Muslims treat Ahmadiyah as well.

“The theological aspect is clear, based on the 1975 fatwa that declares them to be outside the fold of Islam,” he says. “But what should Muslims do to those who accept the Ahmadiyah founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as a prophet? Should they go about discriminating against these people?”

It is a timely question. The Ahmadiyah community in Selangor has been targeted over the past year by the Selangor Islamic authorities, led by Selangor’s religious exco Datuk Dr Hasan Ali. In fact, in April 2009, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council forbade Ahmadiyah in Selangor from worshipping in their own headquarters in Batu Caves on Fridays. In December 2008, the Selayang Municipal Council tried to make them remove the kalimah syahadat, or Islamic creed — “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God” — from their headquarters.

The question of why the Islamic authorities are training their sights on Ahmadiyah is interesting, given that the 1975 fatwa explicitly declares them not Muslim. “If they are to be treated as non-Muslims, then we should not treat them differently from other non-Muslims in Malaysia,” says Osman.

What seems to complicate matters is that Ahmadiyah not only preserve most of the prayer rituals that make them indistinguishable from Sunni Muslims in Malaysia. They are also mostly Malay Malaysians in this country. In other words, one cannot tell if a Malay Malaysian is an Ahmadiyah just by looking at him or her. Perhaps this is why the 1975 fatwa also asks for the state to strip Ahmadiyah of special Malay privileges.

And that’s not the end of it — even though Ahmadiyah are considered non-Muslim according to the 1975 fatwa, Ahmadiyah children have to attend Islamic Studies classes in primary and secondary school. Their identity cards list “Islam” as their religion.


This, then, is the quandary that Ahmadiyah in Malaysia face. Osman says, however, that the formulators of the 1975 fatwa would have taken these complexities into account.

“You see, there are two schools of thought in the Ahmadiyah movement. In the Indian subcontinent, they have distinguished between these two groups. The group that views the movement’s founder more as a saint, who urged spiritual renewal, is not considered to have fallen out of Islam,” says Osman.

This group is the Lahore Ahmadiyah Movement, but it is not the sect that exists in Malaysia. In Malaysia, Ahmadiyah believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet, only not a law-giving prophet as Muhammad was. But according to Osman, “The word for prophet in Arabic, ‘nabi’, is very technical and cannot be taken lightly.”

Even so, Ahmadiyah in Malaysia are but a tiny minority. They number only 2,000 at the most — that’s a mere 0.007% of a population of 28.3 million. Assuming roughly that Muslims form 60% of the Malaysian population, Ahmadiyah would only form 0.012% of all Muslims. That is, if they are considered Muslims at all.

Seeing the humanity


Zaid Kamaruddin, president of Muslim non-governmental organisation Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM), tells The Nut Graph that it is important to just see the humanity in everyone.

“Somebody who was born into that sect only knows that as their religion, and we have to see this person as a human being. Only knowledge can alleviate matters,” he says in a telephone interview.

“Nobody should take the law into their own hands,” he says. “We don’t want violence towards them the way it happens in Indonesia.

“But as far as the fatwa goes, it is up to the Islamic council to decide. After all, those sitting on the religious councils are appointed by the sultans. It is not the purview of the state exco to implement the fatwa,” he says.

Osman agrees. “It is true, there are claims that Ahmadiyah in Malaysia try to propagate their religion even to Malay [Malaysians]. But the authorities have to act wisely, and not let people take matters into their own hands. We have seen what has happened to Ahmadiyah in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia.”

In Pakistan in 1974, the constitution under Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s administration was amended to effectively render Ahmadiyah as non-Muslims. After Zia-ul-Haq seized power from Bhutto in 1977, the persecution of Ahmadiyah intensified under his Islamisation project. 

In Indonesia in 2005, the Indonesian Ulama Council issued a fatwa calling for the government to ban Ahmadiyah. This opened a floodgate of violence against Ahmadiyah by Muslim groups which persists to this day.

Thus, Ahmadiyah in Malaysia are afraid for their safety. However, they remain transparent and upfront about their beliefs and do not attempt to disguise or hide their headquarters. In fact, they say they have called for several public dialogues with the religious authorities, including the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department and religious exco Hassan. However, they say their requests have yet to be entertained. The Nut Graph‘s attempts to reach Hasan also proved futile.

“The Ahmadiyah community here should have their own private engagement first with the authorities,” says Zaid. “Only if there are people taking the law into their own hands should the Ahmadiyah here press for a public dialogue.”

But with or without private or public dialogue, the fate of the Ahmadiyah at the hands of the state doesn’t look all that promising. From being declared non-Muslims to being persecuted as “deviant” Muslims, it is obvious that the state is unlikely to provide protection for the rights of this minority group of believers.favicon

See also: 
The non-Muslim Muslims 
A day with the “deviants”

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12 Responses to “Living with the Ahmadiyah”

  1. From

    It seems that the Ahmadiyah have a lot to be unhappy about.

    The point is, Ahmadiyah followers truly believe they’re Muslims too. The Sunnis, however, do not.

    Who is right, exactly?

  2. Adam says:

    Any belief, religion or sect which preaches all the good traits of humanity should be encouraged and be left in peace. The Ahmadiyahs seem to be a peaceful lot and they allow their followers complete freedom of choice without coercion. That is a good sign.

  3. Dr Syed says:

    Dear people,

    I think that you must first understand that in Islam, there are no more prophets after Prophet Muhammad. The Qadianis cannot therefore claim that their beliefs are Islamic. Therefore they should call themselves by any other name, except as Islam or Muslims. They are not.

    Perhaps when they are prepared to do that, the Muslim majority would leave them alone. Having said that, I also want to add that I deplore any persecution in Muslim countries — be they against non-Muslims or otherwise.

    Dr Syed Alwi

  4. KoMo Tan says:

    It is all about being human. Anywhere and everywhere we (read: more than one person) are, dominance and control [are] the motivation for groupings. Forget about DNA scientists’ assertion that our differences are only skin deep!!

  5. Gopaal Raj Kumar says:

    An interesting article indeed. The Ahmadiyah are, by Australian migration law, deemed to be a category of persons at risk in places like Pakistan.

    Their claims to refugee status are taken more seriously than those of any other groups claiming that status from the sub-continent.

    The Ahmadiyah in India attract the curiousity and wrath of more than merely Muslim communities for their protection and maintenance of a tomb in Kashmir known as the burial site of Jesus Christ (Asa Issah).

    The fact of a common DNA with the Jews and Indians (from Kerala and Kashmir, Mizoram, Tripura, Gujarat and other regions) is not disputed per se. It is the extent to which they (as lost tribes) qualify by the standards of a European-dominated Rabbinical college that determines one’s Jewishness that is debated.

    The Ahmadiyah need to be more closely examined for what they can and do reveal about Islam as does the claim of the Prophet Muhammad’s own journey into the heart of civilization (then India) where his beard (or parts thereof) are preserved in the Hazratbal Mosque in Kashmir.

    Good article.

  6. Umar says:

    [The] Ahmadiyah Muslim community is a very peaceful and law-abiding community. They believe that there is no compulsion in religion and that jihad is a struggle to purify oneself and is not a means of violence on others. There is no record of disobedience among Ahmadi Muslims in Malaysia or in any other part of the world. Ahmadis believe in Islam and the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the greatest prophet [who brought] the final and complete religion, Islam. Ahmadi Muslims believe the second coming of Christ was fulfilled in the person of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him).

  7. Laiq Ahmad-Sydney says:

    Religion has always been a matter of trust and faith, and should never be orchestrated and imposed by the state. Matters of faith can only be discussed by people who have profound religious knowledge, understanding and an even temperament to accept the truth wholeheartedly rather than the rabid, rabble and recalcitrant leaders who keep inciting hatred against peace-loving and law-abiding Ahmadiyah.

    Ahmadis have as much right as any other community to live in peace, to practise and preach. Alienation of Ahmadiyah is not the answer. God-fearing Muslims need to abstain from all acts of revenge and persecution against all human beings.

    No wonder the Muslim world is engulfed in a quagmire of abject poverty, famine, communal bloodshed and endless territorial disputes with no end in sight.

  8. an Ahmadi says:

    Please don’t forget history shows that none of the prophets in the past were accepted straightaway, and all the prophets were heavily opposed at the beginning. Even Jesus was condemed by the Jews because they didnt believe in him as the Messiah.

    Fellow intelligent brothers and sisters, isn’t it a (significant) sign that Hazrat “Mirza Ghulam Ahmed” is indeed the promised messiah and a prophet as promised by Allah and his Rasul (PBUH).

    And yes, if one examines the Ahmadiyah closely, you will see thousands of signs like that in favour of the Ahmadiyah.

  9. Muneeb Syed says:

    The view of these scholors are very clear, whatsoever their belief, they are human beings. And human beings [are treated] equal in civilised nations. However, Ahmadiyah views are very, very close to mulim views, almost all Muslim sects belief that one day Jesus s/o Mariam will return. He was the prophet of God. How come he will come [again] if [this] is the end [of] prophethood. More study and knowledge will bring harmony; if we study more we understand the other points as well.

    Islam teaches tolerance and peace.

    I request [for] The Nut Graph to please take Ahmadiyah views and print it.

    I also believe that no assembly or senate has the right to describe the belief of others, it’s God’s [alone] to decide this.

    I thank The Nut Graph [for providing] this platform for […] one’s view.

  10. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear People,

    In a Sunni Muslim country, the Ahmadiyah can never gain recognition as fellow Muslims because their aqidah deviates from mainstream Sunni teachings.

    The problem is when the Ahmadiyah claim to be Islamic. No Sunni Muslim authority can accept that. Sunni Islam is predicated upon the belief that the Prophet Muhammad is the final prophet. And even if Jesus aka Isa returns via a second coming – the Sunni Muslims believe that Isa (Jesus) will only re-affirm the final prophethood and syariah of prophet Muhammad.

    I think that the Ahmadiyah must come to terms with the Sunni rejection. And they might want to consider calling themselves anything else but Muslim (based on Sunni reasoning).

    No one prohibits them from practicing their beliefs. What is causing the current situation is that the Sunni majority does not want them to spread their faith under the banner of Islam. If the Ahmadiyah call themselves Qadiani – and not Muslim – then there will be no confusion as to what the status of their beliefs are in Sunni Islam.

  11. Salman - Sydney says:

    Who else is allowed to say [whether] one is Muslim or not, [if not only] Allah? Dr Syed mentioned that there [are] no more prophets after Muhammad (pbuh). When we understand the prophethood clearly, then we can understand truly. If this is the case, why are we waiting for Imam Mehdi and Hadhrat Essa to come. Who will they be if not a prophet. Try to learn and understand on your own and do not follow blindly [the] so-called scholars who failed to recognise the one for whom Hadhrat Muhammad (pbuh) has foretold. May Allah open everyone’s eyes.

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