Ahmadiyaa Jama’at angered by Islamic Council’s fatwah denouncing them “non-Muslims”

Amir Baba Trawalley

Amir Baba Trawalley

The leadership of the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Jama’at has furiously responded to claims made by the Supreme Islamic Council that they (ahmadis) are a “non-Muslim community” saying the SIC has no authority to issue such fatwah (Islamic religious ruling).

Following the feud that happened between the people of Tallinding and Ahmadiyaa Muslim Jama’at over the burial of an Ahmadi at Tallinding cemetery, the highest authority responsible for Muslims in the country, has asked the Ahmadiyaa Jama’at to obtain their own cemetery and desist from burying their corpses at “Muslim” graveyards.

The Supreme Islamic Council said the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Jama’at are not Muslims and must not therefore be buried in Muslim graves.

Below is the response of the Ahmadis as was signed by their country leader Amir Baba Trawalley:

RESPONSE TO STATEMENT OF SUPREME ISLAMIC COUNCIL

The Standard issue of Monday 7th September 2015 published a statement of the Supreme Islamic Council declaring the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at as “a non-Muslim Community”. This is the second of the release of such fabricated statement from the Supreme Islamic Council since January 2015, a council that styled itself as the body responsible for the general affairs of Muslims in the country. The statement is absolutely false and baseless and has the potential of creating civil strife in the Gambia, a country that is secular and known for its tolerance and peace. We shall now look at the fabricated statements of the council for the benefit of all Gambians.

SHARI’AH AUTHENTICATION OF AHMADIS’ DISBELIEF

According to the Supreme Islamic Council, “It is forbidden by Shari’ah to bury a non-Muslim at a Muslim cemetery. It is authenticated by Shari’ah law that Ahmadiyya are a non-Muslim community. Therefore it is totally forbidden [for them] to bury their dead at a Muslim cemetery”. No statement could be farther from the truth than this. It is so sad that a body that claims to represent the general body of Muslims in the Gambia could fabricate such blatant falsehood. It is however one thing to fabricate and another to authenticate it. The onus of proof that “It is authenticated by Shari’ah law that Ahmadiyya are a non-Muslim community” lies on the Supreme Islamic Council. The primary and fundamental sources of the Shari’ah are the Holy Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (saw). All other sources are rooted in these. Let the Supreme Islamic Council bring references from these primary sources to show that “It is authenticated by Shari’ah law that Ahmadiyya are a non-Muslim community”. Why do they always make statements without references to support them? Falsehood indeed cannot be supported by authentic references. The statement totally lacks intellectual honesty and credibility.

According to the SIC, “Reaching this conclusion was not easy because there were many things at stake should we falter. This was why it had to take us the time that it took to do more research to make sure that whatever conclusion we reached is based on Shari’ah (Islamic Law).”

If they have done more research to reach this conclusion based on the Islamic Shari’ah (the Quran and the Sunnah being the primary sources), let them provide and share that evidence with the public. As Ahmadi Muslims, our unwavering position is that any statement not based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah should be rejected outright. We are not concerned with whatever statement or verdict given by anyone or any organisation as long as it is not based on these sources. We once again challenge the SIC to bring forth the evidence from their so-called research based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. We are not obeying anyone, organization or council in this regard; our obedience is only to Allah Almighty and the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (saw) and those in authority among us.

The Council has no authority to declare anyone a Kafir as long as the person claims Islam. This is the verdict of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) that anyone who calls himself a Muslim should be counted among the Muslims (Sahih Bukhari, Kitaabul Jihaadi Was Siyar, Baabu Kitaabatil Imaaminnaasa). He further said that whoever prays the Muslim prayer by facing the Qibla and eating the slaughtered animals of Muslims is a Muslim and for him is the protection of Allah and His Messenger (Sahih Bukhari Kitabus-Salat, Baab Fadl Istiqbaalil-Qibla). The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said the following: “Withhold [your tongues] from those who say `There is no god but Allah’ — do not call them kafir. Whoever calls a reciter of `There is no god but Allah’ as a kafir, is nearer to being a kafir himself.” (Tabarani, reported from Ibn Umar). Ibn Umar related that the Holy Prophet said: If a Muslim calls another kafir, then if he is a kafir let it be so; otherwise, he [the caller] is himself a kafir.” (Abu Dawud, Book of Sunna). He also said, “Three things are the basis of faith. [One is] to withhold from one who says `There is no god but Allah’ — do not call him kafir for any sin, nor expel him from Islam for any misconduct.” (Abu Dawud, Book of Jihad). Did they not come across these from their so-called “more research”? In fact the Holy Qur’an says that one should not tell someone who greets you with the greeting of peace that “You are not a Muslim” (Surah Nisa Ch.4: Verse 95). This is with reference to a state of war. Even in such a state, one should not be jumping around telling others that they are not Muslims. Early Muslim jurists were so careful in this regard. Imam Abu Hanifa (rh) even showed that it is absolutely wrong to call someone a Kafir because of observing certain things concerning him. He said that even if ninety-nine parts of his Islam is faulty and only one is sound, you must consider him a Muslim. Please, let the SIC do some further research. Let hatred and enmity not blind them. Let self-conceit not be the masters of their thoughts and actions.

The first Vice President of the Council further stated, “They only use the Kalimatou Sahada (Testimony) to mislead the people. Wherever Muslims go, they join their colleagues to pray when prayer times are due but Ahmadis do not do that.” This is the height of ignorance. Only Allah Almighty knows the secrets of the hearts. Do they open our hearts to see what lies therein? In our past responses, we presented references from Islamic history to show that it is absolutely wrong to say that someone claims the Kalima with only his tongue to deceive people. How far will these people go against the teachings and practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (saw)? Usama bin Zaid bin Harith (ra), a very dear Companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), killed a man in battle after the man’s declaration of the kalima with the notion that the man had only declared it because of fear of death. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) asked Usama (ra) whether he opened the heart to see what lied therein. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) condemned the action (Sahih Muslim Kitaabul Imaani, Baabu Tahriimi Qatlil Kaafri Ba’da Qaulihi: Laa Ilaaha IllaAllah). A leader of the SIC is now doing something that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) clearly condemned. Is this the attitude of a Muslim? If disobedience to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is what you call Islam, then we boldly say to you that we do not need it.

With all your so-called research, you could not come across these basic facts! You need to go back to Islamic literature and further study.

The fact of the matter is that the SIC is making these statements out of hatred, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance. The Council who claims sole responsibility “for the general activities of all Islamic affairs in the country” should know that the Holy Qur’an which they claim to follow has explicitly stated that one should not utter anything of which one has no clear knowledge. In fact fabrication of falsehood is akin to Shirk (association of partners with Allah Almighty) (Surah Hajj 22: Verse 31). The Holy Qur’an has even stated that one’s enmity against a people should not make you behave unjustly towards them (Surah Maa’idah Ch.5: Verse 9). The Council has clearly violated these beautiful teachings of the Holy Qur’an by audaciously fabricating or ignorantly making statements about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at. In fact, the statement was baseless and outrageous with the potential of destabilizing the country.

DECLARATION OF FATAWA AGAINST EACH OTHER

“During the last fourteen centuries, various religious divines have, from time to time, issued various edicts of disbelief on the basis of their self-styled definitions. It created such a horrifying situation that there was not a single century in which these so-called definitions spared the saints, the deeply religious divines, and pious mystics without holding their adherents to Islam as strongly suspected. One cannot present even a single Islamic sect whose ‘disbelief’ is not fully affirmed by at least a few other Islamic sects.” The SIC leadership are proponents of Wahabbism from all evidences. Here is a fatwa against them (the Wahabbis). There are numerous ulema who are named as signatories to this published edict, e.g., Sayyed Jama‘at Ali Shah; Hamid Reza Khan Qadri, Noori Rizvi Barelvi; Muhammad Karam Din Bheen; Muhammad Jameel Ahmad Badayuni; Umar al-Naeemi Mufti-eShar’a; and Abu Muhammad Deedaar Ali Mufti Akbarabad, etc. etc. A part of the Fatwa reads, “So the Wahhabis – Deobandis are great, great murtad and kaafir of the utmost degree, such that if one does not call them kaafir such a one shall himself turn into a kaafir—his wife will no longer remain in valid marriage with him and the children born of this union, if any, shall be deemed illegitimate and disqualified from being the beneficiaries of inheritance in accordance with the Shariah….”

(From: Muhammad Ibrahim Bhagal Puri; published under the auspices of Sheikh Shaukat Hussain, manager, Hasan Burqi Press, Ishtiaq Manzil, No. 63 Hewett Road, Lucknow).

From these edicts and counter edicts, who is a Muslim on the face of the earth? As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is concerned, anyone who calls himself a Muslim is a Muslim despite difference of opinion on some issues or sectarian differences.

The Supreme Islamic Council is a body of contradictions. According to the President of SIC, “The Ahmadis came to The Gambia since before independence and we have never had a report that a particular community had clashed with them because they did not want them to bury their dead at a Muslim cemetery. This is the first of its kind and we cannot just jump and ask them to exhume their dead because there was no previous ruling establishing it.” Did he then ask himself why this “clash” when they have never received a report of such a clash in more than sixty years of Ahmadiyyat’s existence in the Gambia? Of course, he does not need to ask himself this question because he himself has created this “clash” and is now pretending to be the peacemaker.

He created this clash because he mentioned burial issue in his last press release in January 2015. Why is SIC always creating problems and making false allegations against Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at? We have never attacked them; they are always the first to do.

AHMADIYYA BELIEF ABOUT THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAW) AS KHATAMAN NABIYYEEN

The first Vice President of the Council said, “Moreover, whoever believes that Prophet Muhammad [SAW] is not the last prophet, [he/she] is not a Muslim and Ahmadis share that belief.” In fact, the Mother of the Believers Aisha (ra) has said that Muslims should say that Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the Khataul Anbiyaa (Seal of the Prophets) but should not say that there  is no Prophet after him (Takmala Majma’ul Bihar, p.83).  They believe that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the last Prophet and at the same time believe that Prophet Isa (as) of Bani Israel will come in the Latter Days. Will that not be after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw)? Of course it will be. To say that Prophet Isa (as) will not be a Prophet when he comes in the Latter Days is not correct. Allah Almighty never takes away the mantle of Prophethood from a person once it is given to him. Also saying that he was an old Prophet, therefore it does not matter when he comes after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) cannot hold water. Why would an old Prophet come when the last of the Prophets have already passed?

Ahmadi Muslims believe that Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is Khataman Nabiyyeen (Seal of the Prophets), the best of creation and the last law bearing Prophet. No Prophet shall come after him who will abrogate an iota from his teachings or practices. Anyone who claims to add anything or subtract anything from his Sunnah is a heretic. Of course a subordinate Prophet can come after him to revive his religion. That is why the Ibn Maryam that will come after him in the Latter Days has been called Nabiyyullaah by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) himself four times in Sahih Muslim.

AHMADIYYA MUSLIM BELIEF ABOUT ALLAH ALMIGHTY

The first Vice President of SIC further said, “Most importantly, Ahmadis also attribute to Allah the qualities of human beings. They claim that Allah sleeps and forgets. Therefore, we must not share our graveyards with them. We can nevertheless, interact, share the same schools and hospitals.” What a sad statement from a Muslim scholar! Na’uudhu billah (we seek refuge with Allah Almighty) from such statement. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at believes that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. He is One and has no partner. He is Unique in His Being and Attributes; there is none like unto Him. He is the Hidden and the Manifest. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He is Self-Sufficient and Independent.  He begets not nor is He begotten.

The Promised Messiah and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (as) writes:

“Relevant to a proper observance of my teaching it is essential that one should firmly believe that there is an All-Powerful, All-Sustaining Supreme Being, the Creator of everything, Changeless, Everlasting and Eternal. He does not beget, nor was He begotten. He is Holy, so that there is no need or occasion for Him to go on the Cross, or suffer in any way, or be subject to death…. Belief in this God with these powers, is the foremost essential condition of our Jama’at” (Our Teaching, p 1-2)

This is the bedrock of our belief in Allah Almighty. There is nowhere in the Ahmadiyya Muslim literature where you can find this allegation. We challenge them to provide the references from the Ahmadiyya literature.

 

THE DOUBLE STANDARDS OF SUPERITENDENT KAMBI

According to the Standard newspaper, Superintendent Kambi, the Representative of the Inspector General of Police, made the following statement: “The truth is that the Ahmadis have wronged you and the Supreme Islamic Council has issued a verdict in your favour. That should satisfy you. We have to be careful of any attempt to destabilise our country.” This statement is unfair of a senior police officer. How did the Ahmadis wrong the people of Tallinding? On what authority did he make this unfair statement? Is this the first time that an Ahmadi was buried in the Tallinding cemetery? Many Ahmadis have been buried in this cemetery without any chaos.

His statement that the SIC “has issued a verdict in your [people of Tallinding] favour” shows his incapability as a senior police officer. What authority does the SIC have to give verdicts on issues like this? Are they the Justice Department of the country? What constitutional mandate do they have to decide who is buried where?

It was on Sunday 30-9-2015 when late Masireh Dibba passed away in Kerr Serigne, West Coast Region. He was brought to the Ahmadiyya Mission in Tallinding where funeral Prayer was done. He was then taken to the Tallinding cemetery for burial. Ahmadis did not break and enter the cemetery but were given access to the cemetery by the warden who dug the grave himself. We were later contacted that we should exhume the body which we said we are not going to do. We were called to answer to the Police Station which we did. On arrival at the Police Station on Tuesday 1-9-2015, we found the SIC leadership there including the President of the Council. After both parties gave their narratives, the police officer Landing Bojang said that Ahmadis have done the right thing by getting the key from the warden. The SIC said that they would go and decide on the issue. On Saturday 5-9-2015, the Jama’at was once again called to the Tallinding Police Station where we once again found the SIC. Superintendent Kambi took fifteen minutes hailing and justifying the actions of the SIC. This shows how partial and unfair he was as a police officer who is entrusted with the responsibility to enforce the law. In fact, the Jama’at as stated earlier followed the procedure to bury the deceased at Tallinding cemetery. The cemetery is a communal property. Nobody normally goes to the Alkalo or the Imam to get the key to bury their dead. Is that going to start with us? Some of us have been living in Tallinding for the last thirty years and we have been burying our deceased in the same cemetery. For example, some years ago, one of our members’ (who lives in Tallinding) daughter passed away. After her funeral Prayer, she was buried in that cemetery. The current Alkalo and some elders and other people came to his house to extend their condolence and prayers to him and the family. What really happened about the current issue, is that just a handful of people led by Bakary Badjie (the so-called deputy Alkalo) who are backed by SIC to instigate and involve others to create commotion. There were a group of people in Tallinding who were also at the gate to see whether anybody will come and exhume the body.

Superintendent Kambi would always conduct meeting with SIC before our arrival. On Tuesday 1-9-2015, when we were called on the phone by the police, a policeman immediately asked us why we do not have our own cemetery. Why that statement from the police?

There is no law in the country that prevents any Muslim from burying their dead in any Muslim cemetery. We do not know of any law that says that no one should be moved from one place to another for burial.

People are buried in cemeteries different from those in their places of residence throughout the country. In summary, Superintendent Kambi played double standards; instead of telling the SIC the truth, he was justifying their actions.

The current leadership of the SIC seems to have two main duties. One is to create rift in the Gambian society by using the sighting of the moon for Ramadan or Eid Prayers. This is an issue that should not have created any problems among Muslims in the Gambia but they have made it a problem. The second main duty is to use Ahmadiyyat as a means of attaining their other ulterior motives. They want to exploit the emotions of simple people against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at so that they will have a way to eventually deal with other groups whose religious opinions are different from their own. The ultimate objective is to control political leadership so that they can establish their control of religion and politics in the Gambia. This is what exactly happens in every country where scholars style themselves as the custodians of the religion. Anywhere there is religious conflict in this country, this group is involved and they then pretend to be negotiators in establishing peace.

The SIC should have been an impartial and representative body embracing all Muslim religious groups in this country so that there will be dialogue among them, they can work together. This can be done through mutual respect for the interest of the country. For example, Nigeria has a National Inter-Religious Council (NAIREC). The Muslim co-Chairman of its Lagos State Chapter, which is the largest chapter, is an Ahmadi Muslim. Ghana has a similar council where Ahmadis hold key positions; if the President is a non-Ahmadi Muslim, the Secretary is an Ahmadi Muslim vice versa. In Sierra Leone, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is a member of the inter-religious council. Let the SIC not think that Ahmadiyyat is a Gambian thing; Ahmadiyyat is global and it is in more than 200 countries. We do not need the endorsement of any organisation in order to be Muslims. We are faithfully following the instruction of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (saw) that when the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (as) comes, we must follow him (Sunan Ibn Maajah). This is what we are doing. There should be no problem with a person who does not share our belief because the Holy Qur’an says that there is no compulsion in religion (Surah Baqarah Ch.2: Verse 257).The SIC is always bent on creating Fitna at which they are very good. Ahmadi Muslims shall remain law-abiding but we shall never compromise our faith.

They must know that we are citizens of the Gambia like any other citizen. We have the right to believe whatever we want and practise it. Religion is a matter between a man and his Creator. No one rewards or punishes anyone for his religious beliefs and practices except Allah Almighty.

O Allah Almighty, continue to protect our dear and beloved country the Gambia. Thou art the Supreme, Source of all Powers, All Knowing, All Seeing, Independent and Controller of the universe, Thou continue to shower peace, harmony, stability, security and prosperity upon our dear and beloved country.

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