Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
New Age Islam has received a press release from some organisation called Shariath Protection Council based in Chennai that says, inter alia: ... “But if the Hon’ble Minister (the Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee) intends to interact with Qadianis, taking them to be Muslims, then it is incumbent on the Council to correct his wrong assumption and to make known that, his participation in the said Convention, despite their protests, will wound the sentiments of Muslims, as a result of which Muslims will cease to take his Party as their ally.”
I would have thought that we Indian Muslims are not Pakistanis and that we have not declared Ahmadis non-Muslim. In our view anyone is a Muslim who says la ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasoolullah (There is no god other than the one God and Muhammad is his prophet) and Ahmadis do that. Indeed, I had the personal experience of seeing their love for Prophet Mohammad and belief in his finality as a law-bearing prophet when I spent a few years in Suriname, South America where the majority of Muslims are Ahmadis. They differentiate between law-bearing prophets and people who are renewers of Islam (mujaddedeen) coming every new century or so and who are inspired by God to say things that they didn’t know they had in themselves.
Yes, some Ahmadis do call Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Saheb a prophet, albeit a non-law-bearing prophet below the status of law-bearing prophets like Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Ram or Krishna, etc. We have our differences with them and of course, the majority of mainstream Muslims do not agree with them. Indeed many Ahmadis, the so-called Lahori group of Ahmadis, led by as great a scholar of Islam as Maulana Mohammad Ali, too do not agree with them and merely consider Mirza Saheb a mujaddid (renewer of Islam). Indeed if we go by the logic of Ahmadis we would have to consider not only Mirza Saheb but also people like Ghalib, Iqbal, Shakespeare, Keats, Einstein, etc. as prophets. These people were indubitably inspired to say things that they did not know the source of. They only knew that they did not know the things they said in a clearly altered state of mind – in some cases like that of Ghalib, for instance, an altered state of mind produced by the influence of liquor. Similarly, some of them consider Mirza Saheb a reincarnation of Jesus Christ who is supposed to come back at the end of history. I am sure many Qadianis themselves consider this rather absurd.
Yet, come to think of it, the difference is minor and more terminological. With Lahori group of Ahmadis, of course, there should be no difference at all. There have been several mujaddids in Islam and all of us do not have to go by their interpretations. We can just ignore them. After all, the main source of Islam is the Holy Quran and all Muslim sects abide by that, though there may be differences in interpretations. The difference with Ahmadis has turned into a deep and seemingly unbridgeable chasm. It happened like this. The Mullahs who had opposed the creation of Pakistan wanted a place for themselves in the politics of Pakistan once it got created. They latched on to the issue of a section of Ahmadis considering Mirza Saheb a prophet of sorts for the revival of their own political fortunes. They started riots against Ahmadis. The political leaders of so-called moderate, mainstream Muslims did not have the gumption to oppose their murderous activities. And finally decades later an ‘enlightened’ Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then Prime Minister, succumbed to fundamentalist pressure and in the hope of gaining some political mileage with the ‘Islamist” marauders, at a very difficult time when he was engaged in a battle for political survival, declared the group non-Muslim. But it is important to remember that before Bhutto, who was executed by Islamists for being a murderer declared them non-Muslim under their pressure, the Ahmadis were a bona fide group of Muslims even in Pakistan, as, of course, they are in other parts of the world.
I have always thought that we Indian Muslims, benefiting as we do from the composite spiritual ambience of multi-religious, multi-cultural India, are a different breed of Muslims than our brothers who have the misfortune to live in ‘Islamist’ Pakistan. But then come along statements like the one quoted above and it becomes clear that there are some among us who would have preferred to live in the spiritual disaster that is called Pakistan. They too would have probably liked to blow themselves up for the sake of bombing other Muslims praying in mosques around the country on account of minor ideological differences.
That a top leader of the Congress party is attending an Ahmadi convention is good news. We mainstream Muslims, both Sunnis and Shias have ideological differences not only with Ahmadis but also with every other Muslim. Every Muslim Mullah considers every Muslims other than his own followers a Kafir. Kafir-manufacturing factories are the most productive in the Muslim world. Indeed Muslims do not have any other manufacture worth the name. No two Mullahs agree on the definition of a Muslim. Ask Justice Munir of Pakistan who investigated the bloody anti-Ahmadia riots in Pakistan of the 1950s:
For Deobandis and other Wahhabis even a Muslim who doesn’t show up for a Friday prayer should have his throat slit. Should non-Muslim Indian politicians then stop meeting Muslims who do not go for Friday prayers?
Why should this sickness of the Muslim community stop a non-Muslim political leader interact with Muslims whose views on the issues of the moment are most logical, suited to the times and in harmony with the spirit of Islam, even if we have some theological differences with them? Mirza Saheb interpreted Islam a century ago. Our Mullahs go by the interpretation given several hundred years ago or even a thousand years ago or more. Why should some of us threaten Pranab Mukherjee with the entire Muslim community not taking “his party as an ally” after this? This is totally absurd and irresponsible. What is this Shariath Protection Council that is bent upon the destruction of our syncretic Islam here in India? Or how representative of the Muslim community is Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam of Punjab, that I understand, is also running a campaign against Mr. Mukherjee’s visit? Who are the people behind this? What gives them the right to speak on behalf of the entire Indian Muslim community?
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
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Re: PRANAM (sic) MUKKERJEE’S PARTICIPATION IN THE CONVENTION OF QADIANIS
The Shariath Protection Council admits that Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Union Finance Minister, like any other Indian citizen possesses the Fundamental Right of Movement and Right of Expression and so, none can prevent him from participating in the Convention organized by the QADIANIS who are considered by Muslims not as MUSLIMS but as KAFIRS ( unbelievers). But if the Hon’ble Minister intends to interact with Qadianis, taking them to be Muslims, then it is incumbent on the Council to correct his wrong assumption and to make known that, his participation in the said Convention, despite their protests, will wound the sentiments of Muslims, as a result of which Muslims will cease to take his Party as their ally.
SHARIATH PROTECTION COUNCIL