Visions of a Freeman - Wednesday, December 25 of 2013
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25 December 2013 Last updated at 00:40 GMT

Jailed British Ahmadi Masood Ahmad in Pakistan blasphemy appeal

A British man of the minority Ahmadi sect is appealing to the UK for help after being jailed in Pakistan on blasphemy charges. Human rights activists say laws in Pakistan, where Ahmadis are considered heretics, are being increasingly used to persecute the community, as the BBC's Saba Eitizaz reports.

It was a home video that turned a man viewed as the old neighbourhood doctor into a prisoner without bail.

Masood Ahmad shuffles through the dank prison corridor, smiling when he greets me. He looks weak and speaks little. And he worries - but not for his freedom.

"I just want you to tell my children that I am fine. It grieves me more that they must be so worried."

He asks me to convey this message to his seven children living in Britain and Australia.

Last month Mr Ahmad, 72, was arrested at his homeopathic clinic in Lahore on blasphemy charges.

Two people posing as patients came to him for treatment and had a conversation about religion instead.

They used mobile phones to secretly film him reciting a verse from the Koran, and then called the police to have him arrested.

The homeopathy practitioner belongs to the Ahmadi minority sect that a large number of Pakistanis view with suspicion because of a law declaring them to be non-Muslims.

Ahmadis, whose holy book is also the Koran, believe their own founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet, which most Muslims say contradicts mainstream Islamic teaching.

Ahmadis can be jailed for up to three years in Pakistan for "behaving like Muslims", having Muslim names or using Islamic terms for their places of worship or religious rituals.

Human rights activists say the law is now being used to push the Ahmadi community into a legal corner by right-wing religious groups in Pakistan. They are also open targets for sectarian violence by extremists.

"When you formalise persecution of minorities, you should expect extremist elements to take advantage of that, because that is what they thrive on," says human rights lawyer Asma Jehangir, who has raised the issue at several international forums.

Masood Ahmad says he felt "marked" even before he was picked up.

"Somebody had painted a black mark on my car and outside my house a few weeks before I was arrested, so I knew I was being watched."

He still did not see his arrest coming. After all, he had lived in the old neighbourhood of Anarkali since the late 1980s and had close ties with the community.

He is a Pakistani-British dual national who says he returned with a desire to raise his children with Pakistani values and to help people through his medicine.

According to police sources, almost 10 of his neighbours gave eyewitness testimony against him for preaching his faith.

He tells me that many of them also came to see him in jail, concerned for his wellbeing.

"I do not partake in religious debate. I am a doctor, a professional," he says.

The official complaint registered is in the name of a local cleric who refused to speak to the BBC - but the phone number on it was traced to an activist called Mohammad Hasan Moawwiya, whose name appears in several similar cases against Ahmadis.

He is associated with an emerging group called The Khattam-e-Nabuwwat Lawyer's Forum - an extended legal wing of Khattam-e-Nabuwwat - a right-wing religious group that has also been associated with distributing hate literature and actively campaigning against the Ahmadiyya community in the past.

Mr Moawwiya says it is his legal and constitutional right to do so.

"After the law of 1984 was made, it doesn't mean that it should be neglected, it should be implemented actively," he says. "They [Ahmadis] should name their religion and names as separate to us Muslims, otherwise it's a violation and we are allowed by the law of the country to carry on our work."

However, huge mobs were reported outside the police station when Mr Ahmad was arrested, chanting "Be Qadri! Be Qadri!"

This was a reference to Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer who he killed for speaking out against the blasphemy laws in 2011. He is currently in jail but revered by many.

"The danger is not inside jail, the danger to me is outside," says Mr Ahmad, who is being kept under tight security in Lahore's District Jail.

The same angry crowds are seen at every court hearing and Mr Ahmad fears the judges may feel pressurised while reaching a verdict. His lawyers have applied for bail twice, due to his old age and illness - but their attempts have failed. The court has cited "insufficient grounds for bail".

Mr Ahmed is now appealing to the British High Commission. "Have I killed or robbed anyone? I request the British government to help me ensure a fair trial. That is all I ask."

His daughter in Australia, Sophia Ahmad, says she is corresponding with the British High Commission and international legal charities to help her father.

"He is recovering from cancer, he is sick and needs medication. We are very worried for him," she told the BBC in Skype conversation.

According to Ahmadi groups, more than 20 cases have been registered against Ahmadis this year alone.

Many others remain in jail.

Another member of the community, Faisal, is still waiting for his 60-year-old father's release after he was jailed earlier this year for reading an Ahmadi newspaper.

The complaint was filed by Mohammad Hasan Moawwiya.

Faisal prays for his father at the Ahmadi mosque in Lahore that was violently attacked by militants with grenades and guns in 2010, killing more than 80 people.

Two of the gunmen arrested at the scene have still not been convicted.

The mosque now resembles an army barracks, with concrete blockades and volunteers from the community patrolling the area at Friday prayer time, shotguns and walkie-talkies at their sides, in order to protect worshippers.

Close by is the Ahmadi graveyard, but you cannot tell from the outside.

High walls and barbed wire are all you can see, as well as a sniper on the rooftop.

Earlier this year, the entire western portion of the graveyard was destroyed by gunmen who broke through the walls, demolishing many gravestones.

Now a fortress has been built to protect the Ahmadi dead.

Meanwhile, Masood Ahmad waits for his verdict.

"I used to read about minorities being targeted in the newspapers," he says. "Now I'm in the news."

Now take a look:


Ahmadiyya (/ɑːməˈdi(j)ə/;[1] Arabic: أحمدية‎; Urdu: احمدِیہ‎) is an Islamic reformist movement founded in British India near the end of the 19th century. It originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies of the world's reformer during the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about the final triumph of Islam as per Islamic prophecy. He claimed that he was the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by Muslims. The adherents of the Ahmadiyya movement are referred to as Ahmadis or Ahmadi Muslims.

Ahmadi thought emphasizes the belief that Islam is the final dispensation for humanity as revealed to Muhammad and the necessity of restoring to it its true essence and pristine form, which had been lost through the centuries. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam. The Ahmadis were among the earliest Muslim communities to arrive in Britain and other Western countries.

Ahmadiyya adherents believe that God sent Ghulam Ahmad, in the likeness of Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. They believe that he divested Islam of fanatical beliefs and practices by championing what is in their view, Islam’s true and essential teachings as practised by the Prophet Muhammad. Ahmadi Muslims are divided into two branches; the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad founded the movement on 23 March 1889 and termed it the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (community), envisioning it to be a revitalisation of Islam. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims and claim to practice Islam in its pristine form; however, some Ahmadiyya-specific beliefs have been thought of as opposed to contemporary mainstream Islamic thought since the movement's birth, and some Ahmadis have subsequently faced persecution.


At the end of the 19th century, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian proclaimed himself to be the "Centennial Reformer of Islam" (Mujaddid), metaphorical second coming of Jesus and the Mahdi (guided one) awaited by the Muslims and obtained a considerable number of followers especially within the United Provinces, the Punjab and Sindh. He and his followers claim that his advent was foretold by Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, and also by many other religious scriptures of the world. In 1889, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad laid down the foundation of his community, which was later given the name of the "Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at". Ahmadiyya emerged in India as a movement within Islam, also in response to the Christian and Arya Samaj missionary activity that was widespread in the 19th century.


Soon after the death of the first successor of Ghulam Ahmad, the movement split into two groups over the nature of Ghulam Ahmad's prophethood and his succession. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believed that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had indeed been a "non-law-bearing" subordinate prophet to Muhammad and that mainstream Muslims who categorically rejected his message rejected one who was foretold in Islamic prophecy. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, however, affirmed the contemporary mainstream Islamic interpretation that there could be no prophet after Muhammad (except the return of Jesus) and viewed itself as a reform movement closer to mainstream Islam.

The question of succession was also an issue in the split of the Ahmadiyya movement. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believed that an Anjuman (body of selected people) should be in charge of the community. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, however, maintained that Caliphs (successors of Ghulam Ahmad) should continue to take charge of the community and should be left with the overall authority.

The larger body of Ahmadi Muslims belonging in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community however contend that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself received a revelation by God concerning a future split in his Community and that it would be concerning his Promised Son:

God has conveyed to me that there would be a great split in my Movement as well, and mischief makers and those who are the slaves of their own desires will depart... It will be the time of my Promised Son (Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad). God has decreed these events in connection with him... Be sure to recognize the Promised Son.

— Tadhkirah pg. 1066–1067

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has established centres in more than 200 countries and states that its membership is in the tens of millions and also 10 million, while the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement states it is established in 17 countries of the world. Other sources (e.g. Human Rights Watch) estimates the worldwide population of Ahmadiyya to nearly 10 million.

Overseas Ahmadiyya missionary activities started at an organised level as early as 1913 (the UK mission in Putney, London). For many modern nations of the world, the Ahmadiyya movement was their first contact with the proclaimants from the Muslim world. The Ahmadiyya movement is considered by some historians as one of the precursors to the African-American Civil Rights Movement in America. According to some experts, Ahmadiyya were "arguably the most influential community in African-American Islam" until the 1950s.

The Ahmadiyya faith claims to represent the latter-day revival of the religion of Islam. Today, the Ahmadiyya community has a presence in more than 200 countries, and in every country but Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, they are legally identified as Muslims. In Pakistan they are prohibited by law from self-identifying as Muslims, and are not allowed by Saudi law to make Hajj (a pilgrimage that is a basic tenet of faith by Muslims).

Origin of the name

The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in 1889, but the name Ahmadiyya was not adopted until about a decade later. In a manifesto dated 4 November 1900, Ghulam Ahmad explained that the name did not refer to himself but to Ahmad, the alternative name of the prophet Muhammad. According to him, "Muhammad", which means "the most praised one", refers to the glorious destiny, majesty and power of the prophet, who adopted the name from about the time of the Hegira; but "Ahmad", an Arabic elative form which means "highly praised" and also "comforter", stands for the beauty of his sermons, for the qualities of tenderness, gentleness, humility, love and mercy displayed by Muhammad, and for the peace that he was destined to establish in the world through his teachings. According to Ghulam Ahmad, these names thus refer to two aspects or phases of Islam, and in later times it was the latter aspect that commanded greater attention. The myriad of distinguishing names adopted by various sects in Islam, he thus considered as innovations, for the Prophet of Islam had only these two names.

Accordingly, in Ghulam Ahmad's view, this was the reason that the Old Testament prophesied a Messenger "like unto Moses", which referred to Mohammad, while according to the Qur'an, Jesus foretold a messenger named Ahmad.[Quran 61:6]

In keeping with this, he believed his object was to defend and propagate Islam globally through peaceful means, to revive the forgotten Islamic values of peace, forgiveness and sympathy for all mankind, and to establish peace in the world through the teachings of Islam. He believed that his message had special relevance for the Western world, which, he believed, had descended into materialism.

Ghulam Ahmad also called it the Ahmadiyya madhab (school of thought within Islam):



Ahmadiyya shares beliefs with Islam in general and Sunni Islam in particular, including belief in the prophethood of Muhammad as the last law-bearing Prophet, reverence for historical prophets, and belief in the oneness of God (tawhid). Ahmadis accept the Qur'an as their holy text, face the Kaaba during prayer, accept the authority of Hadiths (reported sayings of and stories about Muhammad) and practice the Sunnah. These are the central beliefs constituting Ahmadi thought.

Also important to the Ahmadiyya is the belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi. Ahmadis emphasise the implementation of the Kalima (the fundamental creed of Islam) as essentially linked with the Islamic principles of the rights of God (Arabic: Haqooq-Allah) and the rights of His creation (mankind) (Arabic: Haqooqul-Ibād).

Ahmadis believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was divinely commissioned as a true reflection of Muhammad's prophethood to establish the unity of God and to remind mankind of their duties towards God and God's creation. Ahmadis emphasise both aspects of religion, which Ahmadis believe is the need of the present age. As such Ahmadis hold that Ghulam Ahmad was the representative and spiritual readvent of all previous prophets. From the Ahmadiyya perspective, the Christians have erred with regards to the rights of God in that they have attributed divine status to a mortal human, and it is on this account that in Islamic eschatology the promised reformer has been named the Mahdi (the "Guided One"—a title meaning "one who is naturally guided and is an heir to all truths and in whom the attribute of 'guide' of the Almighty is fully represented"). Ahmadis also hold that some Muslims have erred with regard to the rights of creation for they, unjustly raising the sword and calling it Jihad, have misunderstood the concept and purpose of jihad in Islam; it is on this account that he has been called the Isa Masih ("Jesus the Messiah")—a term which relates to his function in re-establishing the rights of people by reforming their distorted, violent notion of "Jihad" just as Jesus Christ came principally to reform the hearts and attitudes of the Jewish nation.

Giving precedence to faith over worldly pursuits is also a fundamental principle in Ahmadiyya Teachings, with emphasised relevance to the present age of materialistic prevalence.

Distinct Ahmadi beliefs

Although the central values of Islam (prayer, charity, fasting, etc.) and the six articles of belief of Ahmadis are identical to those of mainstream Sunni Muslims and central to Ahmadi belief, distinct Ahmadiyya beliefs include the following:

º That the prophecies concerning the second coming of Jesus were metaphorical in nature and not literal because Jesus is in their belief dead, and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fulfilled in his person these prophecies and the second advent of Jesus, that he was the promised Mahdi and Messiah.
º The continuation of divine revelation. Although the Qur'an is the final message of God for mankind, He continues to communicate with his chosen individuals in the same way he is believed to have done in the past. All of God's attributes are eternal.
º That no verse of the Qur'an abrogates or cancels another verse. All Qur'ānic verses have equal validity, in keeping with their emphasis on the "unsurpassable beauty and unquestionable validity of the Qur'ān". The harmonization of apparently incompatible rulings is resolved through their juridical deflation in Ahmadī fiqh, so that a ruling (considered to have applicability only to the specific situation for which it was revealed), is effective not because it was revealed last, but because it is most suited to the situation at hand.
º That Jesus, contrary to mainstream Islamic belief, was crucified and survived the four hours on the cross. He was later revived from a swoon in the tomb. Ahmadis believe that Jesus died in Kashmir of old age whilst seeking the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus' remains are believed to be entombed in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf. Ahmadis believe that Jesus foretold the coming of Muhammad after him, which Christians have misinterpreted.
º That the "Messiah" and the "Imam Mahdi" are the same person, and that it is through his teachings and influence and through his prayers and those of his followers that Islam will defeat the Anti-Christ or Dajjal in a period similar to the period of time it took for nascent Christianity to rise (see also: Ahmadiyya relationship with Christianity) and that the Dajjal's power will slowly melt away like the melting of snow, heralding the final victory of Islam and the age of peace.
º That the history of religion is cyclic and is renewed every seven millennia. The present cycle from the time of the Biblical Adam is split into seven epochs or ages, parallel to the seven days of the week, with periods for light and darkness. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad appeared as the promised Messiah at the sixth epoch heralding the seventh and final age of mankind, as a day in the estimation of God is like a thousand years of man's reckoning.[Quran 22:47] According to Ghulam Ahmad, just as the sixth day of the week is reserved for Jumu'ah (congregational prayers), likewise his age is destined for a global assembling of mankind in which the world is to unite under one universal religion: Islam.
º The two Ahmadiyya groups have varying beliefs regarding the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection and was the last law-bearing prophet and the apex of humankind's spiritual evolution. New prophets can come, but they must be completely subordinate to Muhammad and cannot exceed him in excellence nor alter his teaching or bring any new law or religion. They are also thought of as reflections of Muhammad rather than independently made into Prophets, like the Prophets of antiquity. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believes that Muhammad is the last of the prophets and no prophet, new or old, can come after him, also rejecting any notion of Jesus returning to earth as a Prophet.


Article of faith Mainstream Islam Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Return of Jesus With the exception of a few with different beliefs (mainly in the 20th century), most believe that at the “end of days” Jesus himself will descend from heaven in the flesh. References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus' time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus' time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The physical coming of Jesus (an old Israelite prophet) would disqualify Muhammad as the final prophet. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Status of
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mainstream Muslims consider him an apostate and believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was one of the 30 false claimants to prophethood about whom the prophet Muhammad had warned Muslims 1400 years ago. Ahmad was a Mujaddid (Islamic Reformer) of the 14th Islamic century (19th Century Gregorian), the promised Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus. He is referred to as a prophet in the metaphorical sense only (as other recognised Islamic saints and Sufis are similarly referred to), not a prophet in the technical meaning of the word. Ahmad was in his own words, a "juz’ī جزء (apportioned), ghayr haqiqī غير حقيقي (not made independently), ghayr tashrī’ī غير تشريعي (non-law bearing), zhillī ظلي (mirror reflection of the Prophet Muhammad)" and "burūzī بروز (under the shadow of the Prophet Muhammad)" Prophet, or a subordinate Prophet to Muhammad in the semantic sense (the Akbarian view of Prophethood taken by Ibn Arabi), the Messiah, Imam Mahdi, Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century, and the second coming of Jesus.
Who is a Muslim? Professing the Kalima is required to become a Muslim. The amended Pakistani constitution (Article 260, clause 3) defines a "Muslim" as a person who believes in the oneness of God, in the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad, and does not believe in any person who claims to be a prophet after the prophet Muhammad.

Most Muslim sects that believe in the concepts of Masih ad-Dajjal (Antichrist), Mahdi, and return of Jesus also believe that it will be required for believers to accept the promised Mahdi as their leader.

One exception to this is the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, which considers that it is not required for a believer to accept the promised Mahdi.
Anyone professing the Kalima is a Muslim and cannot be declared a non-Muslim by anyone else. It is not incumbent upon Muslims to accept the Imam Mahdi or Promised Messiah, whom they believe is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Anyone professing the Kalima is a Muslim and cannot be declared a disbeliever of Islam by anyone else.

Muslims calling any Muslim professing the Kalima as a non-Muslim, themselves become non-believers as is stipulated by the founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself, referencing it to an authentic tradition of the Prophet Muhammad:

"If a man says to his brother, O kafir (disbeliever)! Then surely one of them is such (i.e., a Kafir)."

Ahmadis also deem it necessary to accept the Prophet Muhammad's traditions making it incumbent upon every Muslim to accept the Imam Mahdi, even if "one must cross great glaciers upon his knees to accept him", or suffer the consequence of "dying an ignorant death" (without accepting the Mahdi).
Finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad The meaning of "Seal of the prophets" is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. The meaning of "Seal of the prophets" is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. No prophet, either new or old, can come after him, including Jesus whom they believe to be dead. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Mujaddid (reformer) of the 14th century Hijra and not a true prophet. Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection; he sealed prophethood and religious law, thus being the last law-bearing prophet. The Qur'an is the final law for all mankind and cannot be changed or added to or subtracted from, and Islam is the perfect and final religion for mankind. New prophets can come but they must be subordinate to Muhammad under the qualifications listed above (non-law bearing, not independent, etc.) and cannot exceed him whatsoever in excellence, alter his teaching, or bring any new law or religion. They shall be sent for the revival of the true spirit of Islam.
Jesus, Son of Mary Born of a miraculous birth from the virgin, Mary, but not the son of God. He did not die on the cross but was transported to heaven, where he lives to return in the flesh to this world shortly before Doomsday. Since Jesus (considered a prophet) came before Muhammad, his return to Earth would not disqualify Muhammad as the "last" prophet. Jesus will come to earth not as a prophet but as a follower of Muhammad and preach the teachings of Muhammad. Believes in virgin birth of Jesus but not that he is son of God. He survived the crucifixion and did not die an accursed death. Everything with Jesus was natural like other human beings regarding his birth and his death, and that is the Lord's rule. Instead he travelled east to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus lived a full life and died on earth, specifically Jesus's (Yuz Asaf's) tomb lies in Srinigar, Kashmir in the Roza Bal. Believes in virgin birth of Jesus but not that he is son of God. He survived the crucifixion and did not die an accursed death. Everything with Jesus was natural like other human beings regarding his birth and his death, and that is the Lord's rule. Instead he travelled east to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus lived a full life and died on earth, specifically Jesus's (Yuz Asaf's) tomb lies in Srinigar, Kashmir in the Roza Bal.

There are two questions that must be made in this case:

1) Is it fair for the Doctor to be taken to jail?
2) What do I, as a TRIBalance think about it.

Click here to go to next page: Imperial false prophets: Was it fair?

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