Half Muslims and Non Muslims

By Farzana Versey

Born in the Ismaili faith, I have been quite accustomed to the ‘aadha Mussalman’ (half Muslim) tag. Members of the community are none the worse for it. However, I cannot understand the attitude towards Ahmadis in Pakistan. Ismailis have a living Imam, yet they are not considered a minority.

Why is this so? Is it because the Aga Khan Foundations help many people in developing countries? So does the Red Cross. Is it because the Ismailis are more interested in trade than the Taliban? This could be said of most people in any society.

If anything, the believers of the Aga Khan can be deemed more esoteric and are considerably distinct in the many countries they have chosen to make their homes in, mainly because allegiance to the nation is emphasised as part of the religious doctrine. Talk of mixing religion and politics!

Politics uses religion as much as religion is being politicised. What happened in Lahore were extremist attacks. Don’t blame the Taliban. They do not discriminate. They get no special points for killing Ahmadis; discrimination against them is built in the Constitution. How many people have made the government answerable for this? How difficult is it to change laws?

Ahmadis have been declared heretics. If they wish to perform the Haj they have to provide a written declaration stating that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of their sect, is a “cunning person and an imposter”. How will this make Islam better? It is true that the leader declared himself to be the promised messiah and this would be seen as blasphemy in a monotheistic belief system that will not accept such a major departure even if no one disputes the oneness of god.

Ismailis often have to traverse two completely contradictory viewpoints – that of being the ‘nicer Muslim’ and of being ‘half Muslim’. The first honorific is given by people from other faiths who have a stereotyped image and are surprised to find the unveiled, clean-shaven ones; the other comes from true-blue Muslims who find it difficult to not only accept that Ismailis believe in a continual line of Imams but that they have their own secular rules.

When there was some semantic jugglery regarding how the media cannot refer to the Ahmadi place of worship as a mosque, it struck me that the Ismailis call their place of worship a jamaat khana. They have a separate set of duas and namaaz is not offered on a regular basis. Men cannot have more than one wife at a time or they will be ex-communicated. There have been people who have left the fold to join the ‘pure’ Muslims and written books about the ‘half ones’, and they ought to be thankful for the education they received as Ismailis which taught them about the possibility of dissent.

It is ironical, then, for them to brand some offshoots of Islam as cults. What about dargahs where you pay obeisance to dead saints? Muslims do not consider it heresy to place flowers on tombstones, light incense sticks and let the caretaker run a peacock feather over their heads as blessing; no one baulks at the fact that donation boxes rake in money to keep these places rich. Is this Islam?

The Ahmadis were promised a return to the pristine form of Islam. Who can have a problem with that? Not the religious fundamentalists if they think about the ‘essence’. Acts of violence should be condemned for their own sake. Let people remember that the Taliban is not making rules. Pull up those who are. Minorities are supposed to be protected. If nothing else, such tragedies should at least lead to introspection and proactive action from concerned citizens instead of ruing it as one more bad haywire day.



Filed under Democracy, human rights, Islamism, journalism, Media, minorities, Religion, Rights, state

37 responses to “Half Muslims and Non Muslims

  1. K-

    Mr. Muslim,

    Ok we understand the difference & that Lahori Ahmadiyya are closer to mainstream Muslims’ belief.

    Pls now stop telling differences in every thread 🙂

  2. Ron

    “Men cannot have more than one wife at a time or they will be ex-communicated. “

    the education they received as Ismailis which taught them about the possibility of dissent.

    i did not know that.
    Love ismailis for that.

  3. Hira Mir

    @a muslim. Who are you to divide. Hatred of this level and divisions of sect will destroy the country. This is a problem of intolerance in our country which needs to be removed if we want to progress.

  4. emrun

    I wanted to comment on the article, but ‘a muslim’ came my way. Can some one tie him outside the PakTea house in the tanga stand.

    Now coming to the artcile, the reason why Ahmadis are singled out as the only heretics in the presence of Islamilies, Babhaies, Brailvis, Batalwis, Chukkaralwis what and what not…..is simple. Over 120 years of Ahmadiyya history, mullahs (those actively incite hatred against Ahmadis) have figured out that they are not able to stand the arguments Ahamdis put for their viewpoint. So bigotry became their tool.

  5. Bin Ismail

    @ K, Hira Mir, Naeem Bajwa, Mohsin, emrun, Usman:

    Our interlocutor “a muslim” believes that all the problems prevailing in our world owe their existence to two factors:

    1. Ahmadis – whom our pious friend chooses to call “Qadianis” because of his poor comprehension of geography, among other things.

    2. Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, who was Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat from 1914 – 1965.

    If the topic of our discussion had been say ‘The poetry of Keats’ , he would claim that all the tragedies in the life of Keats were due to the Qadianis and Mirza Mahmud Ahmad.

  6. Talkhaba

    @Farzana Versey

    There is a major difference; you haven’t noticed yet. I have Ismailis friends, best friends indeed. They never preach their religion. Although the Ismailis beliefs are considered un-Islamic but there is no need to properly declare them non-Muslims- because they are not confusing human beings like the cunning Qadianis do. These were the unwanted actions and mischievous beliefs of Qadianis that led to the second amendment. Please read Abbas Ather’s column in yesterday express. It will enlighten you

    @Naeem Bajwa

    Mr.muslim…this is wrongly attributed to Ahamadis


    Pls read Abbas ather’s column; your answer is there

  7. Farzana

    Thank you Farzana for such a bold piece.

  8. Akash

    i still don’t understand why Ahmedis should be persecuted. So what if they don’t believe that Muhammad was not the last prophet. Actually, 6-1.2 billion people, assuming all 1.2 billion muslims have the same beliefs, are not very convinced that Muhammad was the last Prophet. I don’t know but I want to believe that he was the last Prophet. We have had so much troubles with the existing ones; I am not sure I am in a mood to allow some others in that select group.

  9. @Akash

    You have a point.

    Steps will be taken to inform future aspirants that they had better check with you before declaring themselves. It may be difficult to do this with retrospective effect; perhaps you could cut the declared ones some slack.

    Recognising gurus and godmen could be outsourced, with suitable SLAs.

  10. Akash

    “For ‘Muslims it is matter of heart’. Muslims are MAD in their love of Holy Prophet Muhammad SAWS. This is the reason they kill, and protest when they see someone insulting their beloved i.e. Holy Prophet Muhammad SAWS.”

    I guess you have a point. Zang aur mohabbat mein sab jayaz hai. Of course, one may also add that in addition, you also get riled when someone disputes that Islam is a religion of peace and want to prove your point by murdering him/her. If there is anything that religious bores lack, it’s the supreme lack of irony. I agree with you, however, that we had enough of Prophets. Most of them have been mental cases anyways.

    I have no dispute with Godmen. They are more entertaining. This blasphemy thing is getting a bit tiring.

  11. @Akash

    C’mon, lighten up.

    OTOH, if you want to be serious, it’s true that this garbage is getting to be difficult to digest. The Ahmedis, or Qadianis (this kaffir lost track a long time ago), come across as far more reasonable, restrained and dispassionate in their comments, willing to explain their point of view patiently. I wish the moderators would step in and ban one or two of the worst offenders.

    Personally, I am all for entertainment in religion; if we can’t ban it, at least let’s keep it funny. Keeps us sane and balanced.

  12. Usman Warraich

    PTH – where did Mr Muslim’s comments go…last i checked there were about 20 comments…???

  13. Moosa

    I object to this statement: “Muslims are MAD in their love of Holy Prophet Muhammad SAWS. This is the reason they kill, and protest when they see someone insulting their beloved i.e. Holy Prophet Muhammad SAWS.”

    Muslims who murder innocent people in the name of the Holy Prophet (saw) are behaving in complete contradiction to his teaching, and they are themselves insulting his memory. If they loved him, they would follow his teaching. They are simply angry people with inferiority complexes who have little control over their own egos.

  14. chacha

    Ismaelis, Bohras and others like them don’t convert people, they are sort of ancestral cults and as such are no threat to Mullah’s jageer; unfortunately the Ahmedis propagated their belief and brought many ‘Muslims’ into their fold …….this grave sin cannot be condoned by orthodoxy….mullah cannot tolerate any infringement in his domain…..period.

  15. Usman Warraich

    No one has monopoly over Hazrat Muhammad SAW. He is the Prophet to the whole world, all creed, all faith and all belief system…He is the culmination of GOD’s mercy on man kind to unite them and was sent to introduce the true face of the Creator to his creation. This is the understanding of Hazrat Mohammed SAW’s exalted status that ordinary mullahs do not have…

  16. @Moosa

    Although I am neither religious nor Muslim, I am so glad you wrote what you did. It summed up the feelings really boiling up within me every time I read every fresh post by that mono-maniac, who, fortunately, seems to have been wiped clean by some merciful administrator.

    Very well said. I was unable to respond myself as I was unable to trust myself to remain civil.

    Thank you, Sir.

  17. Moosa

    The mullahs remind me of the man who finds his wife talking innocently to another man, then he beats his wife, then he says to her, “I honestly love you, I only beat you because I love you so much”. Love is false if it seeks to appropriate or exploit the beloved, love is authentic if it submits to the beloved. The mullahs seek to establish ownership over Allah (swt) and His rasool (saw), whereas the mu’mineen are owned by Allah (swt) and His rasool (saw). This is why the extremist mullahs and the mu’mineen are two antipoles on the spectrum of faith.

  18. Tilsim

    I would love to ex-communicate the Mullahs and all their followers from Islam – if I could:)

  19. Bin Ismail

    @ Moosa (June 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm)

    “…..The mullahs remind me of…..”

    The Mullahs remind me of the following words of the Holy Prophet:

    “ulamaa’uhum sharru man tahta adeemis samaa. min indihim takhrujul fitnatu wa feehim ta’ood”

    Translation: ‘Their [Muslims’] ulama would be the worst of all creatures that exist beneath the membrane of heaven. All disorder will emanate from them and culminate in them.’

    This is a prophecy and warning issued by the Holy Prophet about the Muslim ulama. These words have been reported and narrated by Hazrat Ali. [Ref:Mishkaat]

  20. Vandana

    It all goes back to the need for each one of us to admit and accept that there are many spiritual paths to The Truth…whichever one a person chooses should not become a cause for discrimination and violence against him andneither should he/she make his/her own beliefs a justification for killing those who do not share his/her belief system.

  21. Hayyer

    Much better to agree all of us that the “Truth” can never be known by that fakery called spiritualism. In the last ten thousand years all it did was to exploit divide and confuse.

  22. Bin Ismail

    @ Hayyer (June 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm)

    I believe we should differentiate between the two terms “spiritualism” and “spirituality”.

    Spirituality refers to a state of enhancement of morality, where morality becomes blended with a deep love for God, an insight into His attributes and a harnessing of one’s ego.

    “Spirituality” did not exploit, divide and confuse. It served, united and clarified.

  23. bciv

    @bin ismail

    “Spirituality refers to a state of enhancement of morality”

    are you saying that a morality without spirituality is inferior? that it lacks ‘enhancement’?

  24. Bin Ismail

    @ bciv

    “Spirituality” is by definition a higher level of “morality”.

  25. bciv

    @bin ismail

    how come?

  26. Bin Ismail

    @ bciv

    Now that we’re into semantics, I assure you of my respect for whatever definition you may choose to ascribe to the term “spirituality”. I however, believe that “spirituality” is a state in which morality becomes blended with a deep love for God, an insight into His attributes.

  27. Zainab Ali

    Our Quaid wanted equality of humans superior to any religious value; the bloody Mullahs at that time were against the Quaid, he never ever claimed to be from a particular sect, he wanted a place for Muslims, but we the so called Muslims couldn’t respect what he strived for.

  28. bciv

    @bin ismail

    ” whatever definition you may choose to ascribe to the term “spirituality”

    ??? you have given us two ‘definitions’ of spirituality so far. i haven’t offered any. i have no need to either.

    you claimed that ““Spirituality” is by definition a higher level of “morality”.” i asked you for your reasons for making that claim but you have chosen to not give any and leave it as a mere claim.

  29. Tilsim

    @ vandana

    “It all goes back to the need for each one of us to admit and accept that there are many spiritual paths to The Truth”

    Yes or if one does not agree then at least have the humility to not be judgemental. Tolerance is key.

  30. Ladies and Good Sirs,

    This discussion is very rapidly turning metaphysical. Are we sure that we want to discuss theology? Even philosophy with a religious slant?

    Please re-consider.

  31. Prasad

    Let it turn whats your problem? at least it is interesting and why should you be a part of every discussion anyways?

  32. FV

    When PTH asked to use this piece, I said go ahead, but expected some dithering later. It did not happen and the article stayed as it is, something that the mainstream media would not even let in. So, thank you for at least listening to another voice.

    – – –

    I realise the discussion has gone beyond the subject and interesting it is.

    Just my view: Spiritualism is the seeking of the higher Self within; religion is belief in a system that makes you seek a power higher than yourself. Both are about sublimation of the Ego.

    For whatever it is worth…


  33. Bin Ismail

    @ bciv

    I wouldn’t say that I’ve offered two definitions. I just clarified, rather tried to clarify the first statement. “Sublimation of the Ego”, as F.V. puts it, or “Sublimation of the Self” too, is a good definition.

    Allow me to present to you a quote from Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. He writes:

    “…..according to the Holy Quran, the fountainhead of all spiritual states is the ‘Soul at Peace’. The ‘Soul at Peace’ conveys man from the level of being moral to the level of being godly…..” [ref: The philosophy of the teachings of Islam]

    In my opinion, therefore, spirituality is not something distinct from morality, it is an elevated level of morality, where man’s soul attains inner peace and godliness.

  34. bciv

    @bin ismail

    have you now attempted another clarification or added a new, albeit related, statement, that inner peace is not possible without godliness?

  35. Bin Ismail

    @ bciv

    Good guess.

  36. OMLK

    @bciv and bin ismail

    Inner peace is some thing so subjective that it is not possible to have an objective disucssion on it. From my understanding of what MGA of Qadian said was that “perfect” inner peace (in the Quran the “soul at rest/peace”) is achieved by striving to inculcate the attributes of God in man and shunning the “animal” desires within man. I personaly think that while this can be described as inner peace = godliness, it should also be noted that professing faith in God is not = to godliness and as such even an athiest can be close to God by simply being “Godly” (and many athiests are). However, according to MGA “perfect” peace can only be attained by “submitting” to Allah, which enables the soul to receive nourishment from the divine which is necessry for the final step to “perfect peace”. This submission is difficult because of the human ego (The “takkabur” of Iblis).

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