03292017Headline:

Exchange with Irish Cleric Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri

I recently interacted with one of the biggest Sunni clerics in Ireland, Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri. This is how everything started. The Shaykh was preaching the importance of unity amongst the Muslims. I agreed with him and mentioned that as an Ahmadi Muslim, I would love to see Sunni and Shia Muslim clerics end the age-old anti-Ahmadi prejudice and join hands for the greater good of the community. He immediately declared the Ahmadis non-Muslim and told his followers the common oft-repeated lies about Ahmadi Muslims including the myth that we do not believe the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is Khataman Nabiyeen (Seal of the Prophets). As usual, I invited him to debate the issue with me. The specific topics I suggested were: 1) Who is a Muslim? and 2) Khatme Nubuwwat.

Remember, in Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslims have been declared non-Muslim and can be jailed for up to three years under the country’s anti-Ahmadi laws ushered in by the country’s Sunni and Shia clergy through President Zia in 1984.

For those unaware, read my latest oped published today in Pakistan’s DAWN newspaper on this issue: If Donald Trump was a Muslim in Pakistan…

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Anyways, I invited the good Shaykh to dialogue. He refused, and then deleted my responses clarifying the Ahmadiyya Muslim position on these allegations, and quickly blocked me. 
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I (the ‘kid’) was quoting the Quran, yet he said he wouldn’t allow my comments because I hadn’t read text books of Sunnis and Shias. You see, I was always taught Quran is the primary source of Islamic knowledge and jurisprudence.
Let us be honest, if the Shaykh was so confident in his opinion that I was a non-Muslim Kafir, he would have shown how wrong I am in an open public debate. What was there to fear? How long will such boycotts and blocks work?I then went to the Shaykh’s official Facebook page, where I was blocked again. But the brief conversation I had with him is copied here:

1) Under a note where he had urged the Muslims to unite, the Shaykh responded to me and said: Ahmadis are not Muslim and all Muslims have IJMA (consensus) on this.

My response: Salam Respected Shaykh Shaib, First up, thanks for your kind note. I think we must agree on principle that Takfeer is bad. And we must identify all people as they chose to identify themselves. We can disagree on theology and still respect each other’s labels. Consider this:Taliban are also working on unity of Umma, but by Takfeer of Barelvi Sunnis, Shia Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims.Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sippa Sahaba in Pakistan are also working on unity of Umma, by Takfeer of Shia & Ahmadi Muslims.

You are working on unity of Umma as well, but by Takfeer of Ahmadi Muslims.

Ahmadi Muslims are working for unity of the whole Umma and identify everyone Muslim as they chose to.

All I invite you to do is take the next step and do away with Takfeer altogether. Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also give similar excuses as you. “Oh you see Shias are Kafir because they believe in…. ”

Even Holy Prophet (pbuh) who knew about the Munafiqeen did not declare them Kafir. Faith is between man and God strictly. And I would love to discuss this with you more in private or public. Even though you consider me a “kid,” you will agree that we should be willing to engage with anyone on matters of faith. Wont you like to bring me to the truth?

And the IJMA that you mention had been foretold 1400 years ago. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) had foretold that except one sect, all will be united on the opposite side. Being a part of the majority (72 sects) is no proof of truth.

You see, good Shaykh, I respect the good work you do. But you will have to agree that Islam mandates us to stand up against oppression. Pakistan has laws in place that jail Ahmadi Muslims for reading the Quran, reciting the Kalima, public prayer, saying Adhan, identifying as Muslim etc. My uncle is in jail. Three others have already spent time in jail and have fled Pakistan. Dont you think it is your responsibility as a Sunni scholar to publicly condemn what is going on in the name of Sunni Islam in Pakistan? You have the right to disagree with my theology, just as I have the right to disagree with yours. But doesn’t Islam mandate that we stand up for EVERY persecuted community and do so publicly, and stand for justice?

In any case, I thank you for the kind note and for your warm invitation. I might visit Ireland in the future and will be glad to meet up with you.

Wasslam

2) Yes we can declare you non-Muslim. Holy Prophet (pbuh) also declared others non-Muslims. 

The Shaykh went on to say that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was also guilty of Takfeer. Although he didn’t present any evidence despite asking. Here was my response:

A Believer and a Muslim are two different labels Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never declared anyone non-Muslim. As for belief, it is a dynamic state. When you abuse someone, its an act of Kufr. If a pious Muslim hurts another human, its an act of Kufr no matter how pious the man is. But saying someone is a non-Muslim and infidel is a completely different thing. I would shudder to even think about interfering with God’s authority in this regard. 

Here is a Quranic verse I’d like to quote in support of my view. 
49:14: The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
 
Allah told Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that the desert Arabs were devoid of Eeman (faith). Yet, He said they have the right to say they are Muslims. (Aslamna). When Allah is giving someone who has no faith (Eeman) the right to identify with the Muslims, who is any cleric or Muslim body to say otherwise? We must fear Allah! This is a grave sin in the eyes of Islam. It is directly interfering with the authority of Allah. 
 
Note that Allah didnt ask Prophet Muhammad that such people should be expelled from Islam or considered non-Muslims but made sure he did not forbid them from identifying as Muslims, even though they lacked an iota of faith. 
 
How can we ignore this command and force others to identify themselves as non-Muslim. And if they don’t, to punish them? The most you can do is consider the Ahmadi Muslims lacking in faith and belief and consider our act of believing in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) as the Imam mahdi and Messiah as wrong. You have that right. You see, Ahmadi Muslims believe in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) as God’s chosen Imam. We believe in him with full sincerity and in obedience and in love of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who urged the Muslims to rally behind the Imam Mahdi. 
 
You have full right to consider him false and to consider us on the wrong. We can have intellectual discussions on this topic too if you so desire. But Takfeer and calling us non-Muslim is against the spirit of Islam and the commandments of God as I have explained with the verse of the Quran. I can go on and on with verses and Sunnah. But this should suffice. I have no doubt you are a God-fearing person and will reflect and work for the unity that you claim to uphold. Allah bless you Shaykh.

Next moment: I was blocked. Let me end with The Shaykh’s own words, which I urge him to reflect upon when he gets time from spreading anti-Ahmadi propaganda.
I urge him to let go of ignorance and condemn Pakistan’s anti-Ahmadi laws and stand up for justice for the Ahmadi Muslims rather than condemn the victims as non-Muslim infidels. Amen.
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Questions Western Media Needs to Ask the Good Imam:
1) Does he believe in universal freedom of conscience. I don’t care if he continues to engage in Takfeer. But does he condemn Pakistan’s Second Amendment and anti-Ahmadi laws that jail Ahmadi Muslims for professing Islam? Does he stand up for the rights of Ahmadi Muslims to identify as they want anywhere in the world?2) Does he reject his sect’s teaching that blasphemers must be put to death? Does he call for a repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that unfairly jail Christians and Ahmadi Muslims and prescribe severe punishments for alleged ‘blasphemy?’