Sunday, October 04, 2009

This is a story about the Ahmadiyyah, a sect in Islam. Many Ulamak agreed they are heretics but then Ulamak also call the Muktazillah as heretics also Wahabbi as one too. Not enough (Sunni)they also declare the Syiah as heretics etc. So who is really a heretic? I do not know and basically I do not care for the label. I do not conscript to Ahmadiyyah doctrine, I am Sunni and I follow the school of thought of Syafie although I do not confine to only that way of thinking. I follow the Hanafi when I pay my Zakat and when I take my ablution etc. I do not accept the Sunni has a monopoly on Islam, and the rest of the sect is wrong. It is just not my way, or how i was taught.

As long as they recite the syahadah or they swore the solemn oath or baith, then they are my brothers muslim. They might add in the syahadah some verses like the Syiah tend to do but as long as it did not nullify the main idea of Godhood and Muhammad as the Messenger I don't see the idea of acting and behaving like a holier than thou person. In the end of the day when I die I am the one who is responsible for my affair in this world not the Ulamak ,not my wife neither my kids(if I have any) but me. So I will lead a good life and try to do good and so be damn with all the Ulamak!! I admit I will question some of the Ahmadiyyah Ideas but I will leave their condemnation to God. For God will decide not the Ulamak but God. So read this article please with a pinch of salth and I also have commented although as usual edited by nut graph.

A day with the “deviants”

28 Sep 09 : 8.00AM

By Shanon Shah
shanonshah@thenutgraph.com

Corrected at 4:30pm, 30 Sept 2009

"FROM what we see, Islam [in Malaysia] appears like a one-way religion. But in the Quran, it's not like this. Even if someone apostates, it's not another human being's right to persecute them," Ainul Yakin Muhd Zin, 41, tells The Nut Graph. Perhaps this is why the sect that Ainul leads, the Jemaat Ahmadiyah Muslim of Malaysia, was branded a "threat to national security" in a 3 Aug 2009 Kosmo! report.

In fact, Ainul says that in 1975, a fatwa by the Selangor Islamic authorities declared Ahmadiyah to be outside Islam's fold. The fatwa also asked for Ahmadiyah followers to be killed by the sultan. Why indeed are Muslims and the Islamic authorities so afraid of Ahmadiyah?

After all, according to Ainul, there are only around 2,000 Ahmadiyah in all of Malaysia. In the Klang Valley, there are maybe 600 Ahmadiyah followers only, and most of them are Malay Malaysians. This, then, was what The Nut Graph aimed to find out on 4 Sept 2009 at the Ahmadiyah headquarters in Batu Caves, Selangor.

Difference in beliefs

Perhaps before answering the question of why there is so much hostility towards Ahmadiyah, we must look briefly at how Ahmadiyah differ from Sunni Muslims who make up the dominant group of Muslims in Malaysia.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pic courtesy of Jemaat
Ahmadiyah Muslim Malaysia)

(Corrected) Ahmadiyah believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, their founder from late 19th-century Qadian in present-day India was a prophet in his own right. However, they acknowledge Muhammad as the last of the law-giving prophets sent by Allah. Sunni Muslims, however, see this as an unforgivable deviation — there can be no prophets after Muhammad in Islam, full-stop.

Ahmadiyah also have their own caliphate. Their current caliph is the fifth succeeding Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whom they count as their first caliph. In terms of doctrine, they also differ by arguing that the prophet Isa, or Jesus, died a mortal death and was not raised to heaven by God.

Ahmadiyah also believe in Darwinist evolution to a certain extent — to them, Adam was not literally the first human being, but rather the first evolved human being.

Unverified allegations

So in this sense, it is easy to see why Sunni Muslims have problems with Ahmadiyah doctrine. But the allegations against Ahmadiyah practices and beliefs do not stop here. "They say our prayers are mixed-gender. They say our kiblat (direction of prayer) does not point towards Mecca. This is all untrue," explains Ainul. In fact, none other than Selangor religious exco Datuk Dr Hassan Ali claimed that Ahmadiyah "do not need to pray, do not fast during Ramadan and do not perform the haj".

pullquote

Ainul, however, says, "First of all, there are Muslim governments that prevent us from performing the haj in Mecca when they find out we are Ahmadiyah." During the asar (late afternoon) congregational prayer, The Nut Graph also observed the Ahmadiyah's kiblat was no different from the conventional kiblat. When asked if any journalist from the traditional media came to verify this fact, Ainul said they hadn't.

"And do you see any women praying beside us? We observe purdah (gender segregation) very strictly," says Ainul. That was indeed clear. In fact, The Nut Graph had to request repeatedly to interview some women Ahmadiyah because they were nowhere to be seen.

"All just a misunderstanding"

Afiatunnur
Afiatunnur

But Ainul is good-natured enough to entertain this request. On 9 Sept, The Nut Graph met with two women Ahmadiyah leaders in Malaysia — Afiatunnur, 34, the Kuala Lumpur women's chief, and Najmul Laila, 38, the moral outreach secretary. Najmul is also Ainul's wife. Both women are Indonesians married to Ahmadiyah Malaysians.

Afiatunnur and Najmul attest that things were once peaceful for them in Indonesia — Ahmadiyah even had protection from the state. But all this changed in 2005, when the Indonesian Ulama Council issued a fatwa calling for a government ban on Ahmadiyah. Violence then ensued. In July 2005, the Ahmadiyah headquarters in Bogor was attacked, causing it to be shut down. Attacks then spread all across Java, until today.

In 2008, even former President Abdurrahman Wahid appealed for calm and for protection of Ahmadiyah, but his plea was ignored. In June 2008, Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni, Home Minister Mardiyanto, and Attorney-General Hendarman Supanji signed a decree outlawing Ahmadiyah from spreading their faith.

But Najmul and Afiatunnur are nothing if not forgiving of such persecution. "It's all just because they misunderstand Ahmadiyah teachings," says Najmul.

Najmul
Najmul

"Even here in Malaysia, my family was renting from a house owner who was not happy that we are Ahmadiyah," says Afiatunnur. "But once they saw that we are just like anybody else, they became okay with us."

Najmul elaborates, "But then the others in their community think these people are suddenly nice to us because we have bewitched them!"

But is this forbearance and humour from these two women too good to be true? When asked, for example, if women are obliged to cover their hair, both women agree fully. But are there Ahmadiyah women who do not cover their hair?

"Yes, a few," Najmul admits. Are these women then encouraged to cover their hair? "Yes, we advise them." What if they still do not cover their hair after this advice? Are they forced to cover their hair? Najmul is scandalised. "Of course not," she says. "But we just keep advising them, that's all."

Just another day

people eating
Breaking fast

This chill-out attitude pervades other aspects of Ahmadiyah life as well. Yes, they fast. And when they broke their fast, the meal was simple, and they did not dilly-dally before performing maghrib (dusk), and then isya (night) and terawih prayers in congregation. And yes, they have a 10-point pledge of allegiance, or baiat, that followers have to accept, calling for strict observance of morality, piety and worship.

But Ahmadiyah are not fussed if there are those who do not accept the creed, or who want to leave the community. As Jariullah Ahmad, another Ahmadiyah spokesperson in Malaysia, explains, "If I leave the Ahmadiyah community, then I leave. The Ahmadiyah community will survive and go on. God will find a replacement for me among Ahmadiyah."

In fact, Ahmadiyah claim they have nearly 200 million followers worldwide. Their communities flourish especially in secular Canada and the UK, where they are recognised and visited by ministers and Members of Parliament.


Ahmadiyah Quran translation

How do they deal with negative attitudes towards them, though? Ainul gives an example. In December 2008, he says the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) ordered them to remove the kalimah syahadat, or Islamic creed — "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God" — from their headquarters.

"I said we cannot bring ourselves to do this, because this is truly what we believe. But if you believe we are wrong, then you need to be the ones to remove the kalimah yourselves," he says. According to him, MPS then left the kalimah alone.

There are, of course, even more sinister threats, and Ainul says that he has made several reports to the police and other authorities about these threats. He says, though, that until now no action has been taken based on these reports. "Why is this so? And if we are considered non-Muslims from the 1975 fatwa, why do the authorities continue to harass us? Why do they not leave us alone like the Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and other non-Muslims in Malaysia?" asks Ainul.

Jariullah takes this questioning a step further. "Can the authorities just declare openly if they are able to protect our basic rights? If they admit they truly can't, then at least we can plan our lives accordingly."

The non-Muslim Muslims

25 Sep 09 : 8.00AM

By Shanon Shah
shanonshah@thenutgraph.com

Corrected at 4:30pm, 30 Sept 2009

IN April 2009, the Selangor Islamic Affairs Council (MAIS) officially forbade the Ahmadiyah community in the state from performing their own Friday prayers. This news, however, did not make headlines — after all, there are at most only 2,000 Ahmadiyah in all of Malaysia, and at most only 600 in the Klang Valley. But from the panic-inducing headlines in the Malay-language press, one would think that the Ahmadiyah were an insidious fanatical sect bent on destroying the faith of Sunni Muslims in Malaysia.

(Corrected) The Ahmadiyah sect started in Qadian, in what is present-day India, in the late 19th century. They were inspired by the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. However, there emerged two sects of the Ahmadiyah movement after Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's death in 1908. There is the Lahore Ahmadiyah movement, which is inspired by his teachings but does not regard him as a prophet. Then there is the Ahmadiyah Muslim Community (AMC), sometimes referred to by other Muslims as "Qadianis", which regards him as a prophet and messianic figure.

Majoritarian Islam does not have problems with the Lahore sect, but sees the AMC as heretical. Overall, there are nearly 200 million Ahmadiyah followers around the world. Ahmadiyah in Malaysia are part of the AMC.

The Ahmadiyah movement in Malaysia began shortly before the Second World War. Persecution began almost immediately. In the 1950s, the sultan of Selangor had an audience with the community's leaders together with other Muslim leaders. However, things did not come to a head until 1975, when the Selangor Fatwa Council issued a fatwa declaring Ahmadiyah as non-Muslims. The fatwa called for them to repent, failing which they should be put to death by the ruler.

Malaysia is not the only country in which Ahmadiya face problems. Pakistan and Indonesia have seen a rise in violence and state persecution of Ahmadiya, too. Ironically, Ahmadiya thrive best in secular, Western countries such as Canada and the UK, where they are visited and protected by prominent ministers and members of Parliament.

In this first of a three-part series, The Nut Graph examines what the Ahmadiya are all about, and why they are deemed to be a threat.

Living with the Ahmadiyah

29 Sep 09 : 8.00AM

By Shanon Shah
shanonshah@thenutgraph.com


Osman

"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

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

This is a comment from Dr Syed Alwi a Singaporean my enemy in battle

Dr Syed Alwi Posted: 28 Sep 09 : 3.57PM

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.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi

Raja Abdul Razak Posted: 28 Sep 09 : 12.15PM

Are there many 'non-orthodox' Muslims and sects in Malaysia? Also, the fact that you can exit the Almadiyah freely is a little misleading and requires careful reading. In Malaysia, if you are born a Muslim you remain one until you die, irrespective of what Islamic sects you choose to join and then leave. I stand corrected on this.

My Comment

wan zaharizan Posted: 1 Oct 09 : 11.51AM

[...] Anyway to those who want to know there is a debate going on of the the idea of 'nabi', whether it stopped at Muhammad pbuh. Many ulama agreed that Muhammad is the last messenger and to me being a Muslim it is (having that belief) one of the [foundations of our faith]. Our 'iman' requires absolute faith in it. But when it comes to "Nabi" or Apostle, that is debatable. We as Muslims believe there are 124,000 Apostles sent to the earth and 313 messengers, the last being Muhammad pbuh. That is agreed upon. Because of this loophole many claim they are "Nabi" but not prophets thus they do not bring a new religion but a new version. Does this affect the aqidah of Muslims - that depends on the new version. Just like the Arqam belief in the Mahdi [or messianic figure] etc - does it affect the faith? It is a perplexing question which takes a long time for me to debate but I hope Shanon Shah would investigate on it.

For me when I took the baith or the pledge when I recite the syahadah, it is a pledge I must honour and not defile. As for apostasy, Raja Abdul Razak, enough said - in the Quran there is a verse that states there is no compulsion in religion. Thus you can apostate and [there is] no ruling in the Quran that says you must be put to death!

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