Where’s the love brothers and sisters? A first-hand account of the worldwide persecution faced by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community

There is a community of Muslims in the UK who many Muslims refuse to accept as Muslim. A community of people whom in many countries worldwide are actively persecuted – denied the right to go to perform Hajj in Mekkah, denied the right to call themselves Muslim, denied the right to own official mosques and quite simply denied the right to freely live the way they wish to in line with their beliefs. On many occasions they have been victims of violence and even been killed

Yes, this brothers and sisters in faith and humanity is the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. For many, simple referring to my fellow brothers and sisters is somewhat of a “blasphemy”. Now I’m not going to get into religious “debates” here. Instead, I’d like to present a guest blog by an associate of mine – Dr Irfan Malik who is himself a member of the Ahmadiyya community and based in the UK. Here’s his honest and quite often shocking story of the discrimination that he and his fellow community members face each and every day here in the UK and across the globe.

***********************************************

Persecution Faced by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community was founded by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed in 1889 in Qadian, India. He proclaimed to be the ‘Promised Messiah’.

19030755722_520e8562e3_o.jpg

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmed (Image credit: sirsheraz, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Our community is now established in over 200 countries, with tens of millions of followers. The UK chapter was established in 1913 and built London’s first Mosque, known as ‘The London Mosque’ inaugurated in 1926 in Southfields. We are guided by our spiritual leader and Khalifa, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmed, the 5th successor to the Promised Messiah [pictured].

The community is actively involved in humanitarian and charity projects all over the world. Each branch regularly holds interfaith events and peace conferences. We portray the true peaceful message of Islam, as taught by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Our motto is: Love for all, hatred for none.

Unfortunately however, our peaceful community has been the target of persecution in other Muslim countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and across the MENA region – simply due to our beliefs.

I will now give a summary of how Pakistan has treated Ahmadiyya Muslims over the years.

Legalised discrimination in Pakistan

pakistan-895319_1920.jpgThe Ahmadiyya Muslim community has suffered decades of religious discrimination and persecution in Pakistan. Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, it is estimated that 302 Ahmadis have been killed for their beliefs.

In 1974, under pressure from religious clerics, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto passed legislation declaring the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims. In 1984, General Zia ul Haq decided to impose even stricter restrictions on the Ahmadiyya community by introducing the Ordinance XX, thereby forbidding Ahmadis from calling themselves ‘Muslims’ or even posing as one.

Public preaching or professing of beliefs was banned and Ahmadiyya Mosques had to be renamed ‘places of worship’. It became illegal for Ahmadis to give the call to prayer (Azan), publicly recite the Holy Qur’an, or greet people with ‘Assalam alaikum‘ (‘May peace be upon you’) [as is commanded for every Muslim].

A person found guilty of these crimes would face three years imprisonment or even a death sentence if sentenced under the current blasphemy laws. These laws and ordinances have severely undermined Ahmadis’ rights to freedom of religion or belief and have further increased their experiences of discrimination and hostility in Pakistan.

Below are some examples of recent acts of violence:

In my ancestral village of Dulmial in Punjab, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque ‘Darul Zikr‘ was attacked on 12th December 2016 by a huge mob of over 4,000 people. They used semi-automatic weapons to gain entry and set fire to the mosque. The local police were overwhelmed and unable to stop the assault and eventually the Pakistani army were called in to gain control. One Ahmadi Muslim, my uncle, died during this violent attack. The mosque remains sealed to this day and is guarded by armed police.

A recent report entitled ‘Ahmadis in Pakistan Face an Existential Threat‘ published by the International Human Rights Committee, explores the  ongoing persecution faced by Ahmadi Muslims across Pakistan in detail and is worth a read.

Life in the UK: Intrafaith relations
IMG_2119.JPG

Bait Ul Futuh mosque (Morden, London) – Home to the local Ahmaddiya community

In the UK, Ahmadiyya Muslims have also suffered discrimination and persecution with the most horrific example being the murder of shopkeeper Asad Shah in Glasgow in March 2016. Unfortunately, the hatred continues to be propagated by certain preachers.

Personally, I have experienced situations where an Interfaith Council asked us to change our name to ‘Ahmadiyya Association‘ instead of ‘Ahmadiyya Muslim Association‘. Some Muslim leaders have also advised us to leave certain police and council consultation meetings as they didn’t accept us as ‘Muslims’, whilst a leading academic criminologist backed out of researching hate crimes against Ahmadi Muslims due to concerns about their safety.

Most recently, as we launched an event as part of ‘Visit My Mosque’ day in February this year, there was a campaign and sermons telling people not to attend. The recent billboard campaign advertising the beliefs of Ahmadiyya Muslims has also received complaints and several displays were removed.

Hate against Ahmadiyya Muslims is in fact common place on social media and YouTube. Whilst ‘Islamophobia’ is regularly highlighted and researched, the hate against Ahmadiyya Muslims and sectarian issues within the Muslim community are infrequently mentioned or studied. I am extremely thankful to Tell MAMA and Faith Matters as these projects/organisations have had the courage to raise and challenge this type of hate.

Organisations monitoring and recording hate crimes need to highlight these terrible acts for all, regardless of faith, colour and creed and not be selective. As Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations declared: “We may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race”.

***********************************************

imDr Irfan Malik, is a GP based in Nottingham (UK). An active member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, he is also a keen First World War researcher. 

Credits and acknowledgements

I’d like to thank Dr Malik for this thought-provoking peace and offer my sincere condolences for the loss of his uncle.

I urge each and every one of you who have read this piece to share and spread the message that this type of abuse is simply not acceptable. For everyone out there – and especially non-Ahmadi Muslims – I urge you to report intrafaith-based hate crime, to welcome your Ahmadi brothers and sisters and to challenge the hate-fuelled discriminatory rhetoric out there. We need greater inclusion, great unity and less hypocrisy of “peace and unity”. Actions speak louder than words. Rights are for all – regardless of your particular thoughts, opinions and beliefs.

For more information and to take action, please visit the following Amnesty UK blog.

Salam ♡

20-offpurplebouquets

Advertisements

10 Photos to remind you that Muslims don’t fit into a homogenous ethno-cultural stereotype

I recently came across a great article by Elad Nehorai entitled “10 Photos To Remind You That Jews Don’t Fit Into a Stereotype (and Never Have)” which showcases the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Jewish community across the globe. This got me thinking and inspired me to do the same for the Muslim community.

Think about it – when a lot of people hear “Muslim”, what do they think of? Most likely this:

arab-1177904_1920.jpg

Yep that’s right – Arabs. But did you know that there are also Arab Jews, Arab Christians and Arab atheists? Did you also know that out of the roughly 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, that less than 15% of Muslims are Arab? The Muslim community is rich and diverse, spanning a wide range of cultures, nationalities, nations and languages across the globe – and that’s excluding new convert populations!

So, take a look at this short snapshot of the wide cultural diversity of the Muslim Ummah (community) – including a range of personal photos – and prepare to be surprised!

1. Uyghur Muslim (East Turkistan)

8928286564_0baed3f363_o.jpg

2. Italian Muslim

19125370_10211512042628629_2052861350_o

3. British-Pakistani Muslim

19648355_10155396653964192_830517033_o.jpg

4. Berber Muslim

11960081114_04998470aa_o.jpg

5. Bunginese (Indonesian) Muslim

19105646_10212896810517735_8272239158096380176_n.jpg

6Native American Muslim

19184439_10150931097179949_1233377329_n

7. Malaysian Muslim

14959218135_0f081090f6_o.jpg

8. African-American Muslim

19190824_10150931143329949_1310660122_n.jpg

9. Sierra Leonean Muslim

15100006333_e179d8925f_o.jpg

10. Dominican Muslim

19184093_10150931159144949_1902919629_n2.jpg

So, that’s just a small insight into the wide cultural and ethnic diversity of the Muslim community but I hope it’s given some idea of how diverse we are. To all those out there thank think Islam is an Arab “Eastern” religion, think again! Stereotypes simply don’t work here…!

Image credits:

Images #1-10 are subject to copyright except for the following:

Evgeni Zotov (CC) (#1), Brad Hammonds (CC) (#4), Phalinn Ooi (CC) (#7), H6 Partners (CC) (#9)

Featured image: Jamie McCaffrey (CC) (Berber Muslim)

Please see source for image usage details.

Thank you to all the lovely brothers and sisters who have donated their time and images to this project! Barak Allah feekum – God bless you all!

Four facts about refugees the media ISN’T telling you…

There’s a lot of talk of refugees in the media at present but rather than presenting facts, what the tabloids present is predominantly anti-refugee rhetoricscaremongering and racist/Islamophobic discourse. As a result, many people are worried about the effect of refugees on their local communities and on a wider international scale.

The following statements represent typical “concerns” of certain sections of British/European society fed by the media:

“They’re claiming thousands of pounds of benefits.”

“It’s safe back home for them.”

“It’s just single young men coming over, never any women or kids.”

“We can’t possibly take anymore – why can’t any other countries take them?”

Sound familiar? Well, here’s four myths the media likes to peddle and the real truth that they’re not telling you:

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

MYTH #1 (1).jpg

Speaks volumes doesn’t it! So, next time someone thinks they’ve got their facts right: set them straight! Embrace diversity, protect human rights and welcome your global brothers and sisters! 🙂

Statistics: UNHCR, The Refugee Council (2015)

20-offpurplebouquets