Community Profile: Who are the Ahmadi?
Imam Mohammed Atae Hadi, who represents the Ahmadiyya community in many areas of Sydney, spoke to The Point Magazine about the Australian Ahmadiyya community. There are roughly 5,000 people who identify as belonging to the Ahmadiyya community in Australia.
The Ahmadiyya community is a sect of Islam that was founded in 1889 by Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Like other Muslims, the Ahmadiyya observe the declaration of faith, the five pillars of Islam and the six articles of faith. They also believe in the Messiah, however for the Ahmadiyya community, the Messiah is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Like some other minority sects in Islam, the Ahmadiyya community has often been ostracised from the mainstream Muslim community and has even been labelled as ‘non-Muslim’ due to its beliefs.
There are roughly 5,000 people who identify as belonging to the Ahmadiyya community in Australia. Members in Australia come from Pakistan, India and Fiji, and the Baitul Huda mosque was opened in 1989 in Marsden Park.
Imam Mohammed Atae Hadi, who represents the Ahmadiyya community in many areas of Sydney, told The Point Magazine the Australian Ahmadiyya community has been around for a very long time and its belief system is not dissimilar to mainstream Sunni Islam.
“Our beliefs, when it comes down to principles, are all the same. Islam is based upon five pillars and we believe wholeheartedly in those five pillars. We believe Muhammed is the Prophet of God. We go to the Hajj (obligatory pilgrimage), we give charity, and we fast. All our rituals and practices are the same in accordance with Sunni Islam.”
"As humans, we should move towards creating a society that is inclusive and accepting of everyone."
– Imam Mohammed Atae Hadi.
Imam Hadi said the key point of difference relates to the Ahmadiyya belief in the identity of the Messiah.
“The only difference is that all Muslims believe that there will be a promised Messiah or Mahdi at the end of time. Where many mainstream Muslims haven’t acknowledged the Messiah, we as Ahmadi Muslims believe the Messiah, as told to the Prophet, has arrived and has taken place. We have accepted Him and belong to Him. We believe the founder of the Ahmadiyya community is the Messiah. We believe the Messiah is not two different people but one person with different titles and we believe that is made clear by the Prophet.”
Imam Hadi said it was often difficult to explain this belief system to people within the Muslim community because of the stereotypes associated with the Ahmadiyya faith.
“To be quite frank, I think it comes down to certain clerics who use their religion as a form of business and trade, and they incite the public against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community."
Members of the community suffer persecution in Sunni‑majority Pakistan, where laws were passed in 1984 forbidding Ahmadis to worship freely.
In 1984, (Pakistan) declared the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslim. If we identified with any Muslim terminology we could be fined and imprisoned. This trend was then imported and exported and some Muslim clerics follow this. We are a peaceful community and although we might be small in Australia, across the world we have a heavy presence. Extremist and fundamental clerics aren’t fond of our peaceful nature and incite hatred in the public against us.”
However, for the Ahmadiyya community, it’s not just stereotypes and misinformation that have cast a shadow over their belief system.
In 2010, the Taliban attacked two Ahmadi-run mosques in Lahore, sparking an outcry from the global Ahmadiyya community. However, the community maintains the response from the Pakistani government and Muslim world leaders was little to none.
The Ahmadiyya community has been vocal in rejecting terrorism and claims its founder declared that jihad by the sword had no place in Islam and instead preaches intellectual debate to revive Islam.
Imam Hadi told The Point Magazine his community just wants to be able to practice their faith freely.
“You’ll be surprised what kind of patience our community shows…I remember I was studying at the time (of the attacks in Lahore), and on the news, we were seeing the attacks happen live. Hundreds of Ahmadis were martyred at the same time. Our reaction is only this, that we only complain about our pain to God. For us, our belief is in God and we are happy with that. We are confident in that. God will not let us down and will help us and our community flourish. With all leaders from our community, you’ll speak to them and they will give you the same answer. We expect our reward from God Almighty. We are being persecuted merely for our faith. We just want to practice freely.”
Imam Hadi said the Lahore attacks were just another example of the restrictions placed on Ahmadi Muslims, preventing them from freely worshipping and upholding their religious beliefs.
“In Indonesia, our places of worship were burned and people’s homes attacked. In Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslims don’t have a right to vote and be in politics unless they reject their Ahmadiyya faith. Even on your passport, if you state you’re an Ahmadi and you want to go to Hajj, the visa won’t be granted in order for you to be able to travel to Hajj. It’s a dire and unfortunate situation but our community is resilient and we are fighting.”
Imam Hadi said in Australia people can live cohesively despite their religious differences. The Ahmadiyya community claims to be an apolitical community and focuses on providing education, and social and health services in poor nations.
“We should believe in love for all and hatred for none. As humans, we should move towards creating a society that is inclusive and accepting of everyone. We share one humanity and we shouldn’t forget this. We are all children of God and created by the same God. We should therefore have mutual respect for one another. To those with resentment, instead of listening to these clerics, come to us and ask questions directly instead of being misguided by anyone else. We are a peace-loving community and want to contribute to society. We come in peace.”
Community Profile: Who are the Ahmadi?
Feature image: www.alislam.com.au