بسم الله الحمد لله و صلاة و سلام على رسول الله و على آله و سلم تسليما
The first half of the 19th century witnessed the rise of many new religious movements all over the world. One possible reason for their popularity was the global change in social, political and economic realities. This led many to find comfort in new age, often apocalyptic faiths that preached that dramatic changes were a sign of the end of times.
As an outsider looking at Ahmadiyya, I never understood why many former Ahmadis so vehemently call Ahmadiyya a Cult. I initially thought it was merely out of anger against their former community. After all, can’t all religious be seen as Cults by outsiders? But an article in the Wall Street Journal titled When Does a Religion Become a Cult gave me pause…
Psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo identified four primary factors that distinguish a cult from a regular religion, upon which Mitch Horowitz appended two;
- Behavior control, such as monitoring of where you go and what you do (ie, Umumi)
- Information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group (ie, Facebook Ban);
- Thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning;
- Emotional control, using humiliation or guilt (ie public humiliations and ex-communications);
- Financial control, either through mandatory payments or full disclosure of financial information (the various kinds of Chanda payments);
- Extreme leadership, such as excessively revering the leader (Impermissibility of disagreeing with Mirza Masroor).
Personally, I would add another characteristic, feel free to disagree;
- To instill a siege-mentality in devotees used to keep them emotionally connected to the movement, thus overlooking logical or factual errors – we observe this in Scientology, the Branch Davidians, and the Jonestown saga.