Debate in UK Parliament on the persecution of Ahmadis, 24 May 2018
— Response of Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman
A fairly lengthy debate was held in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament on 24 May 2018 on the subject of the persecution faced by Ahmadis in various Muslim countries and hostility towards Ahmadis in the UK from certain Muslim groups. The Ahmadis mentioned in the debate were those who are under the leadership of their Khalifa, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. The transcript of this debate is available on the website of the UK Parliament (link to debate transcript).
Shortly afterwards, on behalf of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, a letter was sent along with a statement, to every Member of Parliament who spoke in the debate. Their names are as follows: Siobhain McDonagh (Labour), Seema Malhotra (Labour), Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Labour), Tom Brake (Liberal Democrat), John Spellar (Labour), Sir Edward Davey (Liberal Democrat), Justine Greening (Conservative), Stephen Hammond (Conservative), Paul Scully (Conservative), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist), Patrick Grady (Scottish Nationalist), Liz McInnes (Labour), and Mark Field (Conservative) who is the Minister for Asia and the Pacific responding to the debate on behalf of the government.
The covering letter is as below. (For the group which we usually refer to as the Qadiani or the Rabwah Jamaat, who follow their Khalifa Mirza Masroor Ahmad, we have used the term the “Morden-based” Ahmadiyya community, as the Morden area of London is the location of their headquarters.)
I am writing to you because you spoke in the Parliamentary debate on 24 May 2018 on the persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
I belong to a community of Ahmadis, known as the Lahore Ahmadiyya, which has been in existence since 1914. It differs in certain beliefs from the community based at Morden, the group which was mentioned in your debate.
We are also declared as non-Muslims by the 1974 amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan, and are mentioned by our separate name in that amendment. We are subject to the same level of persecution and intolerance in Pakistan and elsewhere as the Ahmadiyya followers of the Morden-based community.
I was involved, as translator, in a civil court case in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1985, in which our community of Ahmadis successfully obtained the judgment that Ahmadis are Muslims, and have all the rights pertaining to Muslims, and to call them "unbelievers" is defamatory. (See www.ahmadiyya.org/sa-case/intro.htm for full details.)
I am attaching herewith a more detailed statement explaining how the opposition to the Ahmadiyya Movement can be effectively tackled by establishing better relations with the general Muslim community.
I would end by pointing out that our Lahore Ahmadiyya community for more than fifty years, from 1913 to 1968, ran the Muslim Mission at the Woking Mosque in Surrey. During that time, this Mission was the national centre of Islam in Britain, it represented the general UK Muslim community of all persuasions, and it advised the government on matters relating to Islam. We also published in 1917 in the UK the first English translation of the Quran, with explanatory notes, by a Muslim, Maulana Muhammad Ali, to be available in the West.
Thank you for reading the attached statement.
With best regards,
Zahid Aziz, Dr.
The following is the Statement which accompanied the letter:
Date: 30 May 2018
Author: Dr Zahid Aziz
Debate in Parliament, 24th May, on persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Our standpoint is that if the teachings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, are correctly presented then this will substantially reduce the opposition that the Movement faces from the general body of Muslims, and strengthen the hands of governments of Muslim countries in rejecting the demands of the anti-Ahmadiyya religious parties to deprive Ahmadis of their rights.
Let me explain. It was stated at the outset in this Parliamentary debate, in the opening speech by Siobhain McDonagh, that “an Ahmadi identifies as a Muslim, but does not believe that Mohammed was the final prophet sent to guide mankind”.
It is universally known that the basic creed of Islam is expressed as: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”. It is by declaring this that a person becomes a Muslim and is so defined. Belief in a prophet after the Prophet Muhammad means that this new prophet must be added into this creed, explicitly or implicitly. Believers in this modified creed and believers in the original creed, both regarding themselves as Muslim, have to regard the other party as non-Muslim.
It is because of this that the Ahmadiyya community which is now based in Morden has always, for more than a century, been declaring that all those Muslims who do not accept Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet are not Muslims. These were the very points raised in the Pakistan National Assembly in 1974 by the anti-Ahmadiyya groups when that constitutional amendment was under discussion. Their argument was: Ahmadis regard us as non-Muslims but they want us to regard them as Muslims.
We, the Lahore Ahmadiyya, hold strongly, and have produced extensive literature on it for 105 years, that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad never claimed to be a prophet and never regarded as non-Muslims those Muslims who did not accept him. His claim was that he was a Mujaddid in Islam, meaning a reformer or renewer of the faith. His published statements in relation to these points are far too numerous. For example, he writes:
“Do not level false allegations against me that I have claimed to be a prophet in the real sense. … I believe and acknowledge that, according to the real meaning of prophethood, no prophet can come after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, whether a new one or a former one. … But in a metaphorical sense God can call any inspired saint as prophet or messenger.” (Book Siraj Munir, published 1897, pages 2–3)
“I have never, at any time, made a claim of being a prophet or messenger in the real sense. To use a word in a non-real sense, and to employ it in speech according to its broad, root meaning, does not imply heresy. However, I do not like even this much, for there is the possibility that ordinary Muslims may misunderstand it.” (Book Anjam Atham, published 1897, page 27)
At a public meeting in Lahore, he issued a signed and witnessed declaration on 3rd February 1892 about his metaphorical use of the word ‘prophet’, and wrote:
“I wish to make it clear to all Muslim brothers that, if they are displeased with these words and if these words give injury to their feelings, they may regard all such words as amended, and instead consider me to have used the word ‘muhaddas’ (which means inspired saint). … My intention has never been to use this word ‘prophet’ as meaning actually a prophet, but only as signifying an inspired saint.”
He went on to add that “for the conciliation of my Muslim brethren” he advises that they should regard the word ‘prophet’ about himself “as having been deleted”.
Therefore, we suggest that the Morden-based Ahmadiyya community follow the advice and example of their own Founder and make a clear announcement that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did not claim to be a prophet but was an ‘inspired saint’ (muhaddas) and reformer (mujaddid), like the saints and reformers that have been arising in Islamic history who have been accepted by large groups of Muslims. They need to further announce that they withdraw and retract every previous statement in their literature which declares Muslims to be unbelievers, non-Muslims and outside the fold of Islam for not accepting Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
End of Statement