Encounter with an American Sunni Sheikh

On the one hand, Islamophobes tirelessly troll me on Twitter, attacking the noble person of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), calling him all kinds of obscene names, and on the other, anti-Ahmadi extremists and trolls fill my timeline cursing the noble personality of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. I am used to ignoring such people. However, once in a while I come across self-proclaimed leaders like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Imam Dawud Walid, Imam Muhammad Sattaur etc whose bigoted rhetoric I feel the need to respond to.

Recently, New Jersey based Sunni Imam, Sheikh Shadee Elmasry, took to twitter attacking the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Below is my response to the Sunni scholar.

“Dear Sheikh Elmasry,

I hope you are doing great. Thank you for the question. I believe you are thinking of the leading cleric of the Barelvi Sunni faction, Maulana Ahmad Shah Noorani, who died of a cardiac arrest in his bathroom in 2003. Far from being an Ahmadi Muslim, Shah Noorani was one of the most bitter opponents of the Ahmadis. Along with Mullah Maududi, he was at the forefront of the 1953 anti-Ahmadi violence across Pakistan that took many innocent Ahmadi lives. And he was also at the forefront of the anti-Ahmadiyya agitations in 1974 and thereafter. He was instrumental in pressing the Pakistani government to outlaw the Ahmadi Muslims as a non-Muslim minority and in demanding that Ahmadi Muslims be punished for their religious freedom.

When Maulana Ahmad Shah Noorani passed away in 2003, this was reported by Gulf News Network and some Pakistani papers as well.

The president of Pakistan’s powerful Islamic coalition Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, died yesterday of a heart attack, his sudden demise dealing a serious blow to the Islamist alliance amid its ongoing tussle with President Pervez Musharraf on constitutional issues.

The 78-year old religious scholar was struck by a fatal cardiac seizure in the washroom at his residence in Islamabad, his assistants said.

“Maulana Noorani was brought to the hospital lifeless at 12-35pm and we struggled for 45 minutes to revive him,” said Dr Inamul Haq of the city’s Polyclinic Hospital, who was in the medical team that handled the emergency treatment.”

Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, leading Barelvi cleric and staunch anti-Ahmadi.

Granted this is true, I think it is unnecessary, inappropriate, petty and unethical to talk about how someone died. We must not ridicule Shah Noorani’s followers just because the cleric died in the toilet. Death can visit one anywhere. It is in Allah’s hands. Islam discourages pointless ridicule. And I say this as someone who Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani would readily have killed for my beliefs.

Having said that, what about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad? how and where did the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community pass away?

The last moments of Hadhrat Ahmad (as) are best described in Silsila Ahmadiyya volume 1 by Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) who was his son and was with him at his death bed.

“On May 25 after offering Maghrib and Isha prayers and taking some food, his father went to bed. At around 11 Pm, he felt the need to use the bathroom. He would often suffer from upset stomach and diarrhea. He had a loose motion and consequently felt weak. He woke up his wife, who immediately got up to look after him and started massaging his feet. Soon after he felt the need to use the privy again. When he returned, he was weak to such an extent that while he was about to lie down on his bed, he wasn’t able to support his own body weight and almost fell on his own bed. Soon, his eldest son and two doctors were also summoned to his bedside and all possible humanly efforts were made to save him. Due to his weakness, Ahmad(As) was also having trouble speaking. The only words that could be heard from him were “O Allah, My Dear Allah””

“I (Mirza Bashir Ahmad speaking) was standing by him at the time of Fajr prayer. After inquiring whether it was time for prayer he performed Tayammum and tried to offer his prayer in bed. But he fell unconscious. After regaining consciousness, he again inquired about Fajr prayer and offered his prayer while lying down in his bed. He was becoming weaker by the moment and all you could hear were the words “O Allah, My Dear Allah!”At last at about 10:30 AM with his family by his side, he breathed his last and his soul departed from this world towards Allah.”

إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

For the account in detail, click here.  Interestingly, Mirza Ahmad  had foretold the circumstances of his death. A few months before his sad demise, he received a revelation that stated:

“An event on the 27th.”  “Allah is the best and everlasting” (Dec 1907)

One night before he passed away, he received another revelation: “Do not trust the mortal age”

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah.

He told everyone in the house about this revelation and said that it was regarding his own self. Then just when he fell ill on the night of his passing away, and his wife asked him what was about to happen, he said “this is what I had been foretelling”. Thus, he knew very clearly that the time for leaving this world had come! He passed away on the morning of the 26th (May, 1908) in Lahore and his funeral prayer was held in Qadian, India on the 27th of May, 1908.

Details of these prophecies relating to his death can be found on this page.

So, in brief, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community passed away in his bedroom with his last words being, “Allah, my Beloved Allah,” which he kept repeating all night. But it is not surprising that he is ridiculed. All God-sent ones are.

“Alas for my servants! there comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him.” (36:31)

Also Read: The Immaculate Character Of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), in the Words of His Opponents. 

It saddens to see Sunni supremacists – rather than engage in academic and intellectual discourse – resort to petty accusations, obscenities and systematic persecution and apartheid of Ahmadi Muslims. Sheikh Elmasry is no different. When he read my response, he quickly deflected the topic and said I was an infidel for not believing in his interpretation of a Quranic verse (33:40). But how was this relevant to his original allegation?

Nevertheless, I asked him to read this book to first understand the Ahmadiyya position on the issue and then consider accepting an offer for academic discourse or debate on the topic. He rejected the offer.

How disappointing.

I long for the day when instead of such pettiness, and instead of censorship and persecution, Sunni Imams shake hands and break bread with the Ahmadis and try to win them over with dialogue, argument, reason and good conduct. Amen.

Physician, Writer and Human Rights Activist; Recipient, Presidential Service Award; Pakistani American; Humanity comes First; Interests: Cardiac Electrophysiology, Human Rights and ‘Halwa Puri’