by Imam Sheharyar Shaikh
Sunnis and Ahmedis: Brothers in faith? ? was the topic of a debate that occurred on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at Tahir Hall ? a three-storey complex located in the Ahmediyya neighborhood in the city of Vaughn. Before an audience of hundreds, Ansar Raza (Ahmedi) and Sadat Anwar (Sunni Muslim), dealt with a subject that is usually avoided in public forum.
The event started at 5:48 pm with the Quranic recitation (that ominously ended with “And give us victory over the Kafirin.”) and continued until 9:30 pm including a 15-minute Q and A session. A final address by Mubarak Nazir, the principal of the Ahmediyya missionary college, formally concluded the evening.
The audience interest was clearly palpable; those who could not find chairs preferred to remain standing the entire time. Young well dressed Ahmedi volunteers led the incoming audience to their seats without hassle. The event was well organized, timely and had no hooting, jeering, name-calling or untoward disturbances. Not only each member of the audience was provided free Ahmediyya literature, but the evening ended with snacks and refreshments amid a lively, open yet civil discussion on the main differences between the two faiths (The debate can be viewed at http://new.livestream.com/accounts/1970046/events/2627938
From the onset, the debate was expected to be a slaughter of the Sunni Muslim speaker, Sadat Anwar. Whereas Sadat has obtained his Masters from University of Toronto and has displayed a casual interest in Ahmedism, his opponent, Ansar Raza is a:
1. Full time Ahmedi missionary since 2004.
2. Lecturer at the Ahmedi missionary college of Canada .
3. Editor of Ahmediyya Gazette , Canada .
4. Host of the weekly Radio Ahmediyya where he fields the toughest questions on Ahmedism.
5. Research scholar with numerous academic papers with a specialist in comparative religion.
6. Author of books and a veteran Ahmedi debater facing Sunni Muslim scholars.
If Sadat managed in broken Urdu, Ansar Raza boasted of knowing Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, German and French. (Ansar was certainly not too concerned about Sadat it seemed; he was chewing gum at the podium in the beginning. See Clip I ? 14:41 to 15:25).
The purpose of the debate was to clarify whether the believers and rejecters of a new prophet after Prophet Muhammad (s) could be brothers in faith. The rejection of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed notwithstanding, the Ahmediyya leadership constantly refers to the Sunni Muslims as their brothers in faith and nonAhmedi Muslims. The Sunnis, who reject Mirza the prophet and consider Mirza’s followers to form a different religious community outside the pale of Islam, consider the Ahmediyya standard referral to Sunnis as brothers in faith and non-Ahmedi Muslims deceitful and devoid of sincerity, to wield them into the Ahmediyya fold. This way, the Sunnis hold, the Ahmedi preachers follow a deceptive course charted by their very founder who slowly and successively paved the road of his “prophethood” into the hearts and minds of his contemporaries.
As expected, Ansar Raza started the debate by differentiating a sect from a religion. Since to him sects differ only in minor interpretations, not principle tenets, as is the case with the Ahmedis and Sunnis, they must be, he reasons, brothers in faith.
What is the difference between a religion and a sect? Religions differ in principle tenets with each other. If someone has different principles and fundamental tenets, that’s another religion. As far as the sects are concerned, all believe in the same principle tenets, but they disagree or differ in interpretations…but as far as principle tenets are concerned, everybody is agreed. (16:55)
Furthermore, Ansar stressed that the Prophet (s) prophesized that “his ummah would divide into seventy three sects” and since the Ahmediyya are a mere sect, hence they must belong to the ummah of Muslims as brothers in Islam (19:50). Similarly, he saw praying the same prayers, facing the same qiblah, eating the same slaughtered meat (27:30) as pivotal in forming an eternally applicable definition of Islam, and by extension, proving the Islamic brotherhood of the Ahmedis and Sunnis.
Ansar then concludes:
As I said, all the sects of Muslims, they all believe in these five tenets of Islam, they all believe in five tenets of Iman (does he mean the six articles?), therefore all of them, my brother (Sadat) and everyone sitting here, we are all Muslims and we are brothers. (33:00)
Strangely however when Ansar Raza was pressed about the Lahori Ahmedis, an early breakaway group, to the rest of Ahmedis he abruptly changes his verdict:
…In the beginning I mentioned difference between religion and sect. A religion is something in which beliefs in those fundamental tenets, principle tenets, which are different from others. The belief or the principal tenet of Ahmediyya Muslim Jamaat are fundamentally two: First one that Mirza Ghulam Ahmed alaihis-salat-o salam is a prophet of God and the second that we have the khilafat…These are our two fundamental pillars of our Jamaat. Everyone else, they either reject both of them or one of them, so they are (as a result) not our sect; they are different jamaat. Theyare different religion. They (Lahoris) are your sect because they agree with you. (1:01)
However if the Lahoris cannot be brothers in faith of the Ahmedis because they reject Mirza and the khilafat as the principle tenets of religion – also rejected by the Sunni Muslims – how then can the Sunnis can be “brothers in faith” of the Ahmedis, but not the Lahoris?
Amazingly Ansar somersaults during the same lecture later and claims:
We think..uhh…we believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmed is … prophesized by Holy Prophet sallallaho alaihi wasalam, so if you deny him you are kafir, but that kufr is kufr duna kufr because you do not deny the Holy Prophet sallalahu alaihi wasalam, so you are the mu’min of the Holy Prophet salallahu alaihi wa salam , but you are a kafir of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed alais-salato salam. We don’t kick you out of the pale of Islam…. (17:39)
Excuse me? But you just said that the Lahoris are a “different religion” and “are your (Sunni) sect”. What kind of confusion is this? Furthermore, how does Ansar explain the Qur’an calling those who “differentiate between prophets (i.e. believing in some, rejecting others) as “truly kafirs” (Kafiruna haqqa) (See an-Nisa’ 4:150)? Those who show “enmity” to the prophets become real “kafirin” (al-Baqarah 2:98) in the Quranic parlance. How absurd is it that one can be a believer of one prophet of God and a kafir of another, yet still remain a Muslim? Where is the evidence for this nugget? If so, why not refer to Jews and Christians as brothers in Islam too? Ansar’s logic was truly astounding. At least Mirza was more honest when he said that a “person who doesn’t believe in me after having heard about me is not a Muslim.” (al-Fazl Qadyan Jan 15, 1935).
Yet, the bumbling student of Mirza as Ansar is, he posts an entire video on YouTube trying to prove how the Sunnis and Ahmedis are brothers in faith according to the Quran. See it before its taken down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pog5g154EiQ
But hold on, on February 12, 2012 in another one of his radio programs, our boy Ansar gives the opposite fatwa:
Yeh to bunyadi baat hai keh masih ma’ud kyunke rasulon main shamil hain, isliye unke inkar karne walay bhi ussi tarah kafir hongay jaisay keh kisi aur rasul ka inkar karne walay.
Translation: Its a fundamental matter that because the Promised Messiah is included among the prophets, for this reason those who reject him will become kafirs in the same way as the rejecters of any other prophet.
When Sadat pointed out these staggering contradictions, Ansar presents an interesting defense:
..as far as quoting me, I am not authority. If I say something that is entirely wrong then Ahmediyya Muslim jamaat is not responsible for that and even I’m not responsible because I can take my words back. I’m not relying upon me and the Ahmediyya Muslim Jamaat is not relying upon me. Any of us do so many mistakes and when we are pointed that we did mistakes, we take our words back. (2:42)
Subhanallah, read Ansar’s qualifications one more time and judge for yourselves whether a foremost scholar/lecturer of Ahmedism in the West and a trainer of the next generation of Ahmedi missionaries should know by now who is/who isn’t a Muslim. And yes, Ahmediyya organization is responsible for hiring a “dimwit” to represent it on a serious subject at its prime venue ? one who surprisingly makes a startling yet arrogant attack against the Sunni Muslim scholars:
Aapke ulama jo baatain karte hain wo quran-o hadis ke yaksar khilaaf hoti hain aur yeh sirf uski ek misaal hai. …jinko aap din ka alambardar samajhte hain, jinko aap alim-e din samajhte hain, dar haqiqat wohi who log hain jo quran-o hadis se yaksar nawaqif hain (@ 15:20 at
Translation: The discourse of your scholars is totally against the Quran and Hadith and this (i.e. not knowing that Ahmedis are brothers in faith) is merely one example of this…Those whom you consider as standard-bearers of religion and whom you consider “scholars” are in reality those people who are totally ignorant of the Quran and Hadith.
Never mind the fact that Ansar Raza Sahib shows off his own knowledge of the Quran by quoting:
We have to seek guidance from the holy Quran that how someone is on either side. And we have to seek guidance from the holy Quran. Allah says that what is the sign of those who are in heaven. Allah says: man yu’minu bi-ayaatina fa-huwa muslimun – those who believe in our signs, they are Muslims. (20:53)
Faulty interpretation aside, there is no such verse in the Quran.
In the end Ansar Raza goes for a personal attack Mirza-style by expressing regret over not knowing beforehand that Sadat was not a scholar and therefore not up to his level for a debate. He says:
I’ve made a mistake by assuming that he (Sadat) is a scholar…but today he has categorically denied that he is a scholar, so what (do) you expect from such a person who has admitted that he’s not a scholar and its not justified for me…at least I’m a scholar! (10:45)
In reality Ansar had known well who Sadat was months before the debate. It was a poor attempt to hide his own humiliation at the hands of a Sunni “non-scholar”. If so, why then did he approach Sadat for a proposal for yet another debate later in the evening?
Of course Ansar had avoided all the potent issues raised by Sadat Anwar. He
1. Never responded to the hadith (Sunan Abu Da’ud, Book 14, No. 2755) from the authentic sources in which the Prophet (s) after ascertaining that Musaylimah’s heralds truly believed in Musaylimah’s prophethood, told them: ‘I swear by Allah that were it not that heralds are not killed, I would strike off your heads.’ This shows that beyond brotherhood, the Prophet mandated execution for belief in a false prophet.
2. Never responded to the Quran’s verdict on disbelieving or showing enmity against a prophet as becoming “truly kafir” ? which is in agreement with Mahmud Ahmed’s declaration of differing with the rest of the Muslims in the Prophet (s), the Quran, prayer, fasting and “in each and everything” and of Mirza saying that “whosoever doesn’t believe in me, doesn’t believe in Allah and the Prophet (s) either.”
3. Never responded to how “kufr duna kufr” of a non-Ahmedi Muslim disqualifies him for a janazah prayer, marriage relations, being buried in an Ahmedi gravesite (theoretically speaking) in light of the Quran and Sunnah.
4. Never responded to how he expected Ahmedis to consider Sunnis brothers in faith for rejecting Mirza for his substandard alleged revelations, committing “ash-Shirk al-Akbar”, unfulfilled prophecies/invocations (except one ? of the liar to die from cholera) and personal dishonesty.
5. Never explained why an esteemed scholar such as himself and a chief missionary would dither and doublespeak on the basic issue of the status of someone who rejects Mirza as a legitimate prophet.
In all likelihood I will receive a flood of emails from excited Ahmedis who will attempt to answer all the points Ansar Raza avoided in the debate. The point for them to consider is that if their foremost scholar, researcher, and active missionary cannot say in clear terms that denying Mirza is as much a kufr as any other prophet, what can you hope to take in aqidah from him ? and from a deviant money-making cult that supports him?
In reality the Ahmediyya leadership truly believes that denying Mirza as a prophet is kufr, period. However, by taking the way of deception and doublespeak in order to seem politically correct and religiously all-inclusive, they pursue a path paved by their very founder a century ago.
Sheharyar Shaikh is the former President of North American Muslim Foundation. He is currently the Imam of Masjid Qurtabah.
He specializes in Quranic exegesis and contemporary Islamic thought.