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Ahmadiyya Islam

Ahmadis are followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839-1908), who founded a religious community in the late nineteenth century in what was then British India. He began to publish his Barahin-i Ahmadiyya in 1880. He declared himself a mujaddid (a renewer of faith) in 1882 and set about spreading his message. In 1889, he announced he had received divine revelation authorizing him to accept the baya, the allegiance of the faithful. Then in 1891 he declared himself the Mahdi, the promised Messiah (masih) of Islam, and the last avatara of Vishnu. He ruled out jihad against the kuffar who occupied the Islamic lands.

When he died the Ahmadiyyahs split into two sects, the Qadianis and the Lahorites. The Qadianis claimed that Ghulam was a prophet, and accused all muslims who did not accept him, as being kuffar (non-muslims),

After his death, the community elected a series of Khalifas (successors). The current and Fourth Successor (Khalifatul Masih IV), to the Promised Messiah was chosen in the person of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad on 10 June 1982.

Although Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslim, some Muslims in Pakistan hold the opposite view because of the Ahmadis' claim that their founder was a recipient of divine revelation and a prophet of God. This claim is believed by some Muslims to violate a basic Islamic tenet regarding the finality of the prophet Muhammad. This religious difference has been used in the past by certain Pakistani governments to justify a number of legal restrictions on the Ahmadis' practice of their faith.

The Ahmadiyya belief as professed and practiced for the last 100 years is a Movement within the broad spectrum of Islam. According to Ahmadiyya perception it is a movement for spiritual revival. According to its followers, the Movement does not depart from Islam in the very least, nor does it add one iota to the doctrine and teachings of Islam. Yet, it is a fresh presentation of Islam and more particularly of the wisdom and the philosophy that underlies its teachings based upon and deriving entirely from the Holy Quran and pronouncements and practices of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

The Ahmadiyya community has its presence in 166 countries of the world, and everywhere, they are identified as Muslims. It is in Pakistan alone that they have been denied that right of self-identification. The Ahmadis are subject to specific restrictions under law. Discriminatory laws, including the blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws, have been used to imprison individuals for the peaceful practice of their faith and also help to create an atmosphere of religious intolerance that contributes to violence. Many of Pakistan's Islamic religious schools continue to provide ideological training and motivation to those who take part in violence targeting religious minorities in Pakistan and elsewhere.

The constitutional amendment of 1974 denuded the Ahmadiyya community of their religious identity. Nothing is left of the Ahmadiyya faith if they are not allowed to profess their faith in Islam, which they consider to be their faith. This constitutional amendment declared Ahmadis to be a non-Muslim minority because, according to the Government, they do not accept Mohammed as the last prophet of Islam. However, Ahmadis regard themselves as Muslims and observe Islamic practices. In May the Government announced the restoration of a voter registration form designed to single out Ahmadis. The section, which required Muslims to swear they believe in the "finality of Mohammed's prophethood," singled out members of the Ahmadis sect who are less categorical about this tenet of Islam. The Government and anti-Ahmadi religious groups have used this provision extensively to harass Ahmadis.

Barred by law from "posing" as Muslims, Ahmadis may not call their places of worship "mosques," worship in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms (otherwise open to all Muslims), perform the Muslim call to prayer, use the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quote from the Quran, or display the basic affirmation of the Muslim faith. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. It is illegal for Ahmadis to preach in public, to seek converts, or to produce, publish, and disseminate their religious materials. These acts are also punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.

Ahmadis suffer from various restrictions of religious freedom and widespread societal discrimination, including violation of their places of worship, being barred from burial in Muslim graveyards, denial of freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, and restrictions on their press. Several Ahmadi mosques remained closed. Ahmadis have been prohibited from holding conferences or gatherings. Ahmadis are prohibited from taking part in the Hajj (the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca). Some popular newspapers publish anti-Ahmadi "conspiracy" stories, which contribute to anti-Ahmadi sentiments in society.

Ahmadi individuals and institutions often are targets of religious intolerance, much of which is instigated by organized religious extremists. Ahmadi leaders charge that militant Sunni mullahs and their followers sometimes stage marches through the streets of Rabwah, a predominantly Ahmadi town and spiritual center in central Punjab. Backed by crowds of 100 to 200 persons, the mullahs purportedly denounce Ahmadis and their founder, a situation that sometimes leads to violence. The Ahmadis claim that police generally are present during these marches but do not intervene to prevent trouble. For example, in January Ghulam Mustafa Mohsin was killed in his home in District Toba Tek Sing, after receiving a series of death threats.

Ahmadis suffer from harassment and discrimination and have limited chances for advancement into management levels in government service. In the past few years Ahmadis claim that even the rumor that someone may be an Ahmadi or have Ahmadi relatives can stifle opportunities for employment or promotion. Ahmadi students in public schools are subject to abuse by their non-Ahmadi classmates, and the quality of teachers assigned to predominantly Ahmadi schools by the Government generally is poor. However, most Ahmadis are home-schooled or go to private Ahmadi-run schools. Young Ahmadis complain of difficulty in gaining admittance to good colleges and consequently having to go abroad for higher education. Certain sections of the Penal Code discriminate against Ahmadis, particularly the provision that forbids Ahmadis from "directly or indirectly" posing as Muslims. Armed with this vague wording, mullahs have brought charges against Ahmadis for using standard Muslim salutations and for naming their children Mohammed.





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