It started with a ‘throw away’ comment, not likely to offend those present.
“Zakat doesn’t matter.”
This was said amongst scores of Ahmadi members at a meeting discussing all matters to do with finance. It was innocuous for two reasons.
- The comment was quickly rebuked by another attendee of the meeting who said that Zakat did matter; and
- Zakat, on a practical level, didn’t matter because it is rarely discussed beyond being a topic or sub-topic of a speech at Ijtemas.
But the dye had been cast and the comment had really hit home with me. I started to wonder whether Zakah really did matter to the ordinary Ahmadi.
It is certainly recognised as a pillar of Islam. There is no denying that. But on a day-to-day basis Zakah is on the very periphery of the Ahmadiyya financial objectives.
So I looked in to the whole issue of financial obligations within Islam and could not get beyond the following.
The Prophet [saw] said, “(In order to enter Paradise) you should worship Allah (Alone, and none else) and do not ascribe any partners to Him, perform Iqamat-as-Salat (prayer), pay the Zakat and keep good relations with your kith and kin.”
Bukhari, Vol. 2 Hadith No. 1396
That is so simple and yet the reward is so great. There is no mention of chanda, no mention of 1/16th of your income! Just 2.5%!
Why would elements of the Ahmadi community consciously (or unconsciously) consider one of the routes to Paradise as an irrelevance? I could not understand it.
I felt that chanda as a concept was diametrically opposed to Zakah (and to Sadaqa, for that matter. Chanda is obligatory, thus taking it totally out of the scope of Sadaqa. The rate of chanda and what type of your income is considered chanda-payable is also contrary to the criteria of Zakah.
At this point there was no way of satisfying myself that the concept of chanda had any foundations in Islam. This was worrying. I already knew the standard argument that some would raise; ‘there is nothing stopping you from paying Zakat.’ This was true. However, that is only half the story.
That I should pay Zakah was no issue to me. After all, it is a pillar of Islam. But the same cannot be said about chanda. It is not a pillar of Islam and yet shares the compulsory element within the Ahmadiyya community that Zakah has within the Islamic community. By this time I was convinced that there was nothing supporting the paying of chanda.
Although this was unsettling for me, I was not ready to leave a community that I had known all my life. This was despite the fact that I would often recall a public statement made by one of the leading figures of the Ahmadi community in the UK who encouraged ordinary members to use credit cards to help pay for the purchase of land for the building of a Mosque. Even then I found it astounding that such a statement would be made.
It is wonderful how Allah works! In His infinite Wisdom, I was ready to retain those comments but not to act upon them (i.e. by leaving a community that encourages waging war against Allah in order to build one of His houses).
However, what had happened was a spark that started my journey in to Islam. By Islam, I meant the Islam outside of the confines of the Ahmadiyya community.
I started to read non-Ahmadi published versions of the Qur’an. I started expanding my reading of ahadith beyond Riyadh-us-Saliheen and it was one particular hadith that brought me to a place that would eventually find me leaving the Ahmadi community.
The particular hadith is from Bukhari, the most authentic compilation of ahadith. This is in no dispute amongst the scholars of Islam. The hadith is as follows.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (ra): Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “My example and the example of the other Prophets before me, is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for a place of one brick in a corner. The people go round about it and wonder at its beauty, but say: ‘Would that this brick be put in its place!’ So I am that brick, and I am the end (last) of all the Prophets.”
Bukhari, Vol. 4 Hadith No. 3535
Instantly I was reminded of the often quoted passage of the Noble Qur’an:
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Last of the Prophets; and Allah has full knowledge of all things.
Surah Al-Ahzab (33rd Chapter, verse 40)
Many have the translation as ‘Seal of the Prophets’. However, this made no difference to me and to my understanding of this passage of the Qur’an. In addition with the hadith about the brick, this passage made perfect sense to me now. Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the last brick, the last prophet, the seal of the prophets.
The hadith from Bukhari was so powerful for me that it was what has been described as my ‘fracture in belief’ of the truth of Ahmadiyyat. I felt any further association with the Ahmadi community would be hypocrisy.
I began to watch channels on TV that were considered dangerous to watch for the devout Ahmadi; Iqra TV, The Islam Channel, Peace TV.
I would listen to programs featuring Islamic scholars such as Dr Zakir Naik, Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips and the late Ahmed Deedat and would find myself immensely impressed with the depth of their knowledge and their willingness to have their beliefs challenged by non-Muslims, something that had all but disappeared following the death of Mirza Tahir Ahmad in 2003.
Soon thereafter, I decided to attend a local Mosque to read prayers and to observe the behaviour of those non-Ahmadi Muslims that I had been brought up to have an irrational fear of.
I found that these were sincere individuals dedicated to their daily worship and submitting themselves to the Will of their Creator, Allah (swt). This is not to say that there are not genuinely decent people within the Ahmadi community and rather less decent people outside of the Ahmadi community.
One finds good and bad everywhere. I still consider my friends within the Ahmadiyya community as just that; friends. I sever no ties with them and should they wish to do so there is no animosity on my part. For them their religion and for me my religion.
I am now an ex-Ahmadi and with the utmost sincerity I am grateful to Allah (swt) for granting me hidayah. I only wish for the same to all those still within the fold of Ahmadiyyat who are genuinely seek closeness to Allah (swt) and those who accept the truth that Allah has blessed humanity with through the Qur’an and Sunnah.
It is important to note that being an ex-Ahmadi doesn’t mean one is anti-Ahmadi. I have no animosity whatsoever towards individuals within the Ahmadi community. I simply cannot accept what they consider to be the truth against glaring evidence within the Qur’an and Sunnah against their sets of beliefs.
I am aware that there are many brothers and sisters on the fringes of the Ahmadiyya community who no longer believe in their ideology and are seeking some encouragement before taking those final steps out of the Ahmadiyya community once and for all. I pray that this may be of some comfort and inspiration to you simply because I believe it is their right to live their lives in the state that they were born; in the state of Islam.