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 passed Takfir, declaring the Ahmadis infidels and telling his followers the common oft-repeated lies about Ahmadi Muslims – including the propaganda that the Ahmadi Muslims reject Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) status as 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? & 2) Seal of Prophethood (Khatme Nubuwwat).
Remember, in Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslims have been declared non-Muslim by the Constitution, and can be jailed for up to three years for professing Islam. These anti-Ahmadi laws are endorsed unanimously by the country’s Sunni clergy.
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…
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 Takfir 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 identity. Consider this: Taliban are also working on unity of Umma, but by Takfir of Barelvi Sunnis, Shia Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sippa Sahaba in Pakistan are also working on unity of Umma, but by Takfir of Shia & Ahmadi Muslims.
You are working on unity of Umma as well, but by Takfir of Ahmadi Muslims. Ahmadi Muslims are working for unity of the whole Umma and identify evert Muslim as such without Takfir.
All I invite you to do is take the next step and do away with Takfir altogether. Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also give similar excuses as you. “Oh you see Shias are Kafir because they believe in…. ” Lets not do this.
Even Holy Prophet (pbuh) who knew about the Munafiqeen’s hypocritical beliefs 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.
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 Takfir, although he presented no evidence despite my insistence. 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.
Next moment: I was blocked. I urge the Shaykh. 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 infidels. Amen.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 Takfir. 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?’