Qadianiat at the Crossroads of War and Peace

Founder of Ahmadiyya Times calls for increased drone attacks on Pakistan

In recent years, the Ahmadiyya Community and its Qadiani followers have increasingly sought to portray themselves as the world’s only peaceful Muslims. This is an awkward proposition for most Muslims, for many reasons. Most gallingly, it disguises the underlying deceit that according to Qadianis, they are the world’s only Muslims. The 1.6 billion Muslims who maintain that prophethood ended with Muhammad of Arabia, in the Qadiani worldview, are disbelievers or kuffaar.

This is readily apparent from the writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani and his successors. (As a corollary, due to the Qadiani introduction of a new prophet in the form of Ghulam Ahmad, all Muslim schools of thought are unanimous in holding that Qadianis are outside the fold of Islam.)

Of course, the notion that Qadianis are the only peaceful Muslims, apart from its logical fallacy, suggests that all other Muslims are murderous fanatics. To be clear, Qadianis have certainly faced persecution, often at the hands of misguided Muslims, and there is no justification for such behavior. But to use this as an excuse to paint all Muslims as violent savages is wrong and illogical – in the West, at least, this is something we have tried to learn after 9/11.

Many Qadianis, unfortunately, seem oblivious to the dangers of painting with such broad strokes. In an insightful essay published last July, Professor Hussein Rashid calls out the Ahmadiyya for using fears of terrorism to promote opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque. “Their approach,” he argues, “appears to be based on a Good Muslim/Bad Muslim dichotomy that ends up hurting the Muslim-American community.”

Indeed, Qadianis have become darlings of the right-wing media, with their leaders regularly appearing on Fox News to decry the radicalization of Muslim-American youth and promote the bizarre idea, as Prof. Rashid writes, that “a good Muslim should surrender the rights guaranteed by the state” – including the right to express criticism and disagree with one’s government.

Many Qadianis, it seems, are wedded to an old-world authoritarian model of leadership in which one simply does not criticize those in power. It has been suggested that the same mindset that encourages Qadianis to pledge unfailing allegiance to the hereditary and arguably corrupt system of khilafat also promotes the bizarre idea that in a modern constitutional democracy, free citizens should not openly practice their religion or criticize their government’s foreign policy.

Whether you call this approach quietism or blind loyalty, it certainly has ample precedent in Qadiani history. In a pamphlet written in honor of the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s rule in 1887, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writes:

RK tuhfa

This notice of congratulations is from the person known as Yasuu’ the Messiah who has come to the world to rid it of all sorts of deviations; he whose purpose is to establish truth in the world with peace and kindness; so that he may teach people the way towards true love and servanthood to their Creator; and to explain to them the path towards true obedience to their ruler, the Glorious Queen, whose subjects they are.

 

[Roohani Khazain, Vol. 12, Tuhfa-e-Qaisiriyya, p. 253]

It can thus be argued that the Qadiani worldview is motivated by two fundamental values: obedience to the state, and “love for all and hatred for none.” Interestingly, it is certainly plausible, and perhaps even likely, that these two values might come into conflict with each other. Here we can offer two opposing hypotheses. Either the Qadiani administration would choose peace and oppose violent and martial government policies; or it would unfailingly insist on unquestioned loyalty in all cases.

 

This is obviously not a novel predicament – it has been considered countless times throughout history by all types of communities, and with the exception of cults or autocratic neo-fascist societies, most people of conscience have come down on the side of an individual’s freedom -and perhaps even responsibility – to speak out against immoral and unethical actions of one’s government.

How have Qadianis attempted to reconcile this conflict? It certainly seems that, insofar as they acknowledge that such a conflict exists, that they come down on the side of unquestioned loyalty. Indeed, many critics have charged that the purported Qadiani belief in “love for all, hatred for none” is merely a public relations slogan and categorically does not apply to Muslims. (Interestingly, in many cases, it also seems that “unquestioned loyalty” also does not apply to Qadianis residing in Muslim-majority nations.)

All of this brings us to the founder and managing editor of Ahmadiyya Times. Imran Jattala, based in Los Angeles, is a high-ranking official in the Qadiani hierarchy and has unsurprisingly paid lip-service to the peaceful nature of the Qadiani faith on many occasions. Among his interests, he cites “the promotion of dialogue for peace and tolerance through interfaith outreach.”

On January 8th, however, Mr. Jattala posted a comment on a PBS article about the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. He attacks the author for raising the possibility that the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with increasing death tolls among civilians, might be linked to rising extremism in the region. And then, in one sentence, he provides a robust data point for how one Qadiani leader reconciles his commitment to peace and his commitment to U.S. foreign policy. “The tasteless scenes of jubilation in the killer’s hometown,” he writes, “in my view make a case for more drone attacks, not less.”

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While the London-based Ahmadiyya Community has often been criticized for fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment and its generally pro-war disposition, rarely have we seen such unambiguous evidence of how fragile the “world’s only peaceful Muslims” are in their actual commitment to peace.

I do not profess to know how many Ahmadis, whether in the U.S. or Pakistan, support Mr. Jattala’s contention that more drone attacks on Pakistani civilians are needed. In any case, I hope the Ahmadi community engages in a critical discussion among themselves regarding their commitment to peace and how it should best be operationalized in a world torn apart by war.

Calling for more drone attacks on Pakistani civilians is probably not the best place to start.

Qadiani leader calls Ground Zero mosque an affront to “human decency”

Two weeks ago, the Assistant National Director of Interfaith Relations for the Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya came out in opposition to the proposed Islamic center in downtown Manhattan (“the Ground Zero mosque”). In a column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Qasim Rashid argues that the mosque is an affront to “human decency” and offends the memory of the 9/11 victims.

Ironically, this is the same argument that has been used by right wing extremists who have threatened violence against the mosque for similar reasons. He also claims, without citing any sources, that the Saudi government is funding the mosque; again, fomenting hysteria about Saudi plots to take over America is a common tactic of neo-conservative Islamophobes.

With New York being home to over 800,000 Muslims, the fear-mongering in response to the Ground Zero mosque at times borders on absurdity. This is how Clyde Haberman of the New York Times summed up the controversy: “The center, which could rise as many as 15 stories and has the blessing of local officials from the mayor on down, makes some people uneasy. The reasons are understandable, if not entirely admirable. Some opponents, mostly political conservatives, have exploited the discomfort with statements that are inflammatory or misleading, or both.”

Naseem Mahdi, one of the foremost Qadiani clerics in the United States, recently claimed that his group represented “one of the leading movements” aimed at “bringing Muslims out of the dark ages.” Again, the resemblance to radical neo-conservative dogma is striking. For it was none other than Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary under Pres. Bush, who said “We need an Islamic reformation” and then proceeded to lead the invasion of Iraq.

More to the point, such remarks lead one to question how the Qadiani leadership reconciles their laudable doctrine of “Love for all, Hatred for None” with their apparent support of intolerance and bigotry towards Muslims in America.