The Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a sub-sect of Sunni Muslims, has long faced persecution and discrimination in various parts of the world, including India.
Recently, the Andhra Pradesh Waqf Board, a government body responsible for managing Waqf properties, passed a resolution declaring the Ahmadiyya community as "kafirs" (infidels) and non-Muslims.
This move has sparked strong concerns and condemnation from the Ministry of Minority Affairs, a central government department tasked with safeguarding the interests of minority communities in India.
The Ministry's intervention highlights the need to protect the rights and identity of the Ahmadiyyas, who have been subject to a hate campaign aimed at excluding them from the fold of Islam.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community emerged as an Islamic revivalist movement in Punjab in the 19th century. They consider themselves to be Muslims and believe in the finality of Prophet Muhammad's prophethood.
Despite this, while Ahmadi Muslims share many core beliefs with other Muslims, their belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the 'Promised Messiah' and Mahdi sets them apart and has led to controversy and differing opinions about their status within the Islamic community.
In countries like Pakistan, the Ahmadiyyas have been declared non-Muslims by law, leading to discrimination and marginalisation.
In 2012, the Andhra Pradesh State Waqf Board passed a resolution declaring the entire Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims. However, this resolution was suspended by the Andhra Pradesh high court.
Despite the court's order, the Waqf Board issued another proclamation in February of the current year, declaring the Ahmadiyya community as "kafirs" based on a Fatwa issued by a non-state actor, the Jamiat Ulema.
In response to a representation from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the Ministry of Minority Affairs expressed strong concerns over the Waqf Board's actions, terming it a "hate campaign" specifically targeting the Ahmadiyya community.
The Ministry firmly asserted that the Waqf Board lacks the jurisdiction and authority to determine the religious identity of any community, including the Ahmadiyyas.
It emphasised that such actions are discriminatory and constitute a violation of the rights of the Ahmadiyyas to practice their religion freely and without interference.
The Ministry's letter highlighted that the Waqf Act of 1995 primarily deals with the administration and management of Waqf properties and does not grant state Waqf boards the authority to issue proclamations on religious matters.
The state Waqf boards can issue directions approved by the state government but do not have the right to consider fatwas issued by non-state actors like the Jamiat Ulema.
The Ministry strongly emphasised that the Waqf Board exceeded its jurisdiction and has no standing to issue such orders, especially if they may incite animosity and intolerance towards a specific community.
The recognition of the Ahmadiyya community as a separate sect in Islam during the 2011 Census in India was a significant development, as it gave them a distinct identity and recognition within the larger Muslim community. However, it also made them more vulnerable to discrimination and persecution.
The Waqf Board's attempt to exclude the Ahmadiyyas from Islam further highlights the challenges faced by the community in India.
The Ahmadiyyas have expressed concerns that such actions by the Waqf Boards are discriminatory and constitute a hate campaign against them, violating their rights under the Waqf Act and Indian law.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic organisation that endorses the separation of mosque and state. They believe in the importance of religious freedom and the protection of human rights for all individuals.
This is a unique stance that is not shared by other Muslim sects. Ahmadi Muslims emphasise the unity of humanity and advocate for peace, justice, and equality for all people, regardless of their religion or background.
While this is a shared belief among many Muslims, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community places a strong emphasis on this principle.
What is happening is part of the “Takfiri terrorism”, a violent extremist ideology within Islam characterised by declaring individuals as non-believers or apostates (takfir) if they do not adhere to strict interpretations of the religion.
It emerged from the Salafi movement and the writings of Sayyid Qutb in the 20th century. Takfiri terrorists use violence to enforce their extremist views and target not only non-Muslims but also Muslims who they consider as deviants.
The impact of Takfiri terrorism has been devastating in various regions, leading to widespread violence and instability. Countries in the Middle East, South Asia, and beyond have been affected, and high-profile attacks occur globally.
In putting their foot down, the Indian government has shown its determination to combat all forms of terrorism, along with its foreign and domestic policy of a multi-faceted approach involving military action, international cooperation, addressing radicalisation's root causes, and promoting moderate interpretations of Islam.
The persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in India is a matter of grave concern, and the Ministry's letter calls for the Andhra Pradesh government to take appropriate action and put an end to this hate campaign.
It is crucial for India, as a secular and democratic nation, to ensure that all its citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, are treated with respect and equality under the law.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community deserves the right to practice their faith freely without fear of persecution or exclusion. Protecting the rights and identity of minority communities is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative for a harmonious and inclusive society.
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