Slander, Blasphemy & Censorship

What’s an Ahmadi? And Why Do Some Muslims Want to Kill Them?

Since Ahmadi faithful are not considered to be Muslims or People of the Book (Dhimmis), Islamists believe that they have no rights.

BY Immanuel Al-Manteeqi · @Al_Manteeqi | April 13, 2016

Leaflets calling for the death of Ahmadis were found in South London’s Stockwell Green Mosque, according to the BBC. This incident comes not long after the recent murder of an Ahmadi shopkeeper, Asad Shah, in Glasglow, England. Shah’s murder on March 24, 2016 came eerily at the heels of his posting a Facebook message wishing Christians a happy Easter. A 32-year-old Islamist named Tanveer Ahmed has been charged with Shah’s murder. Tanveer stated that he had killed Asad Shah for ‘insulting Islam.’ It very much appears that Asad Shah’s Ahmadiyya faith was seen by Tanveer as being an “insult” to Islam, and is probably at least a partial explanation of Tanveer’s motivation.

Insults to the Islamic religion have historically been taken very seriously in Islamic societies.

Indeed, according to our earliest sources, the founder of Islam, Muhammad, did not take too kindly to insults hurled at him (insults to Muhammad are a-fortiori insults to Islam). According to Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasool Allah, our earliest biographical source on Muhammad’s life, Muhammad killed people who insulted him.[1]

Indeed, Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328 A.D.), the teacher of Ibn Kathir (one of the most prominent Islamic exegetes), and a darling of Islamists the world over, wrote a whole book entitled “The Unsheathed Sword Against Whoever Insults the Messenger (الصارم المسلول على شاتم الرسول).”

The recent leaflets in the Stockwell mosque calling for the death of Ahmadis originate with the Pakistani-based Aalmi Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme Nabuwwat group, which reportedly lists the mosque as its “overseas office.” The group’s name literally means “The International Assembly to Protect the Seal of Prophethood,” which alludes to the mainstream Islamic and Qur’anic precept that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets (Q 33:40), transliterated as Khatim An-Nabiyeen (خاتم النبيين). To understand the significance of this vis-à-vis the targeting of Ahmadis, it is important to consider who the Ahmadis are.

Ahmadis are a relatively small sect of heterodox Muslims who originated in 19th century India. They hold distinctive beliefs, one of which is that although Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, he only swooned on the cross, later recovered, and subsequently traveled more than two-thousand miles to Kashmir, India, where he eventually died.

This stands in direct contrast to the mainstream Islamic interpretation of Q 4:157, which holds that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified (ما قتلوه و ما صلبوه), but that another person was substituted in his stead. The latter is a gloss on the words “ولكن شبه لهم”, and is an idea that has roots in Docetic Christianity.

Another distinctive belief of Ahmadis is that Indian Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835 – 1908 A.D.), their founder and namesake, was a prophet. This belief in the prophethood of Mirza Gulam Ahmad is plainly in direct contradiction to the Qur’anic precept that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets (Q 33:40).

Given this, it is no wonder that mainstream Muslims generally do not view Ahmadis as being Muslims. Because of the Ahmadi Muslims’ “blasphemous” denial of the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood, they have been persecuted in Islamic countries like Pakistan, which, since 1974, does not recognize them as being part of the Muslim faithful. Indeed, the Pew Research Center found that in Pakistan, the country with the largest number of Ahmadis, only 7% of people believe Ahmadis are Muslims. Groups like Aalmi Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme Nabuwwat have arisen in order to emphasize the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood and combat “heresies” like the Ahmadiyya faith.

Since Ahmadi faithful are not considered by Islamists to be Muslims or People of the Book (i.e., Jews, Christians, and Sabians, otherwise known as dhimmis), Islamists believe that they have no rights. This belief is but a logical conclusion of the fact that, according to Islam, individuals who do not count among the Muslims or the People of the Book have no rights.

Now, the view that this group of people, which includes atheists, polytheists, etc., do not have rights under Islamic Sharia is not something that is just propounded by so-called bigots, despite what Islam apologists repeat ad nauseam; to the contrary, such a view is also held by some world-class scholars of Islam. One such scholar is Samir Khalil Samir S.J., a native Arabic speaker, a man with two doctorates, and Pope Benedict XVI’s former adviser on Islam and the Middle East. Speaking about the inequalities pervasive in Islamic law (Sharia), Professor Samir writes the following:

Al-Sharia is founded on a threefold inequality: the inequality between man and woman, the inequality between Muslim and non-Muslim, and the inequality between freeman and slave…. As regards the inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims, Islam considers the former superior to the latter from the ontological and juridical point of view, even with regard to those that it defines as dhimmi (protected people), a term that refers to Jews and Christians. Tolerance granted to Jews and Christians does not imply equality with Muslims. Polytheists and atheists, on the other hand, enjoy no protection [emphasis added].[2]

But it is not just some internationally acclaimed scholars of Islam who hold the view that under Islamic Shariah non-Muslim non-dhimmis do not have rights. According to Sahih Al-Bukhari, the most trusted collection of Sunni ahadeeth (sayings of Muhammad), Muhammad himself affirmed it:

I have been commanded (by Allah) to fight people until they testify that there is no true god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform Salat and pay Zakat. If they do so [i.e., if they become Muslims], they will have protection of their blood and property from me except when justified by Islam, and then account is left to Allah.

A slightly different version of this hadith is also found in Sahih Muslim, the second-most trusted collection of Sunni ahadeeth. This hadith in Al-Bukhari clearly implies that non-Muslim infidels—which may or may not include dhimmis—are to be fought until they vocalize the shahada, a testament of Muslim faith and the first pillar of Islam, and perform the Salat and Zakat, the second and third pillars of Islam, respectively.

So, in this hadith Muhammad says that infidels are to be fought until they become Muslim, and that suffices for having their life and property protected by him. The converse of this, which seems to be implied by this hadith, is that if these infidels refuse to become Muslims, their blood and property are not protected by him.

This hadith implies that infidels do not have the most hallowed of rights, the unalienable right that the Founding Fathers prioritized in the Declaration of Independence—the right to life. It also implies that infidels do not have the right to property or private ownership. The right to property, along with life and liberty, was one of the three cardinal rights elucidated by John Locke, a thinker who greatly influenced the Founding Fathers. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson eventually chose to replace the Lockean “property” with “the pursuit of happiness” in those immortal words that are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. And clearly, if infidels are not accorded the right to life and property, then they neither have the right to liberty, nor the right to the pursuit of happiness.

Therefore, the above hadith attributed to Muhammad by Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim (in a slightly different version), the two most authoritative collections of Sunni ahadeeth, implies that infidels should enjoy none of the rights enshrined by the Declaration of Independence—rights that should hold for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed.

Sharia law, as interpreted in mainstream Islamic traditions, is incompatible with Western democracy. It is incompatible with the likes of the emancipatory documents that undergird this great nation. Indeed, until statesmen understand this and combat the root causes of the hatred that purveys Islamist thought—root causes that are found in the Islamic source texts—the counter-jihad movement is doomed to fail. Military might alone is not sufficient.

Weeding out heads of Islamic terrorism like Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is not sufficient, for other young souls will quickly march in their footsteps, victims of the very same ideology and religion that promises them salvation.

No, leaflets calling for the death of “blasphemous” Ahmadis, and violent aggressions against the non-Muslim “Other,” do not originate in a nihilistic system of thought, but from a well-developed theological tradition that has roots in Islamic source texts. This is the unpalatable truth.

[1] ʻAbd al-Malik Ibn Hishām, Muḥammad Ibn Isḥāq, and Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Isḥāq’s Sīrat Rasūl Allāh (Karachi; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 551.

[2] Samir Khalil Samir, 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. on Islam and the West: A Series of Interviews Conducted by Giorgio Paolucci and Camille Eid, ed. Wafik Nasry, trans. Wafik Nasry and Camille Eid (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 91.


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