The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has released a statement condemning attacks on Ahmadi Muslims, but also announcing that, in its view, Ahmadis are kuffar (non-believers) who the Quran says are destined for “doom and degradation” after death.
Despite the denunciation of violence, the statement may leave the door open for further persecution of Ahmadiyya in Britain and beyond.
The press release follows the murder of Ahmadi Muslim Asad Shah, a shopkeeper in Glasgow who was brutally stabbed and stamped to death outside his shop just hours after wishing his Christian customers a “Happy Easter”. The Ahmadi motto is “Love for All, Hatred for None,” a message that Mr Shah was well known for spreading via the internet.
His death was celebrated by anti-Ahmadi Muslims on the internet, who believe that the sect is heretical and therefore worthy of persecution.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Britain’s biggest Islamic umbrella group, the Muslim Council of Britain, which has connections to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, said it “unequivocally condemns” attacks on people of other faiths.
But it also affirmed that it does not recognise the Ahmadi sect as Muslim, as Ahmadis recognise Prophets after Mohammed whereas mainstream Islam does not.
“Despite our clear theological beliefs, we note that pressure is mounting to describe this community as Muslim. Muslims should not be forced to class Ahmadis as Muslims if they do not wish to do so,” the statement said.
The statement is problematic for Ahmadis as it leaves them open to attacks by those Muslims who view non-Muslims as infidels worthy of death – as the murder of Asad Shah bears out.
The man accused of his murder, Tanveer Ahmed has today issued a statement saying he carried out the attack because Mr Shah “disrespected” Islam.
The full statement delivered via his lawyer, as reported by the BBC, was: “My client Mr Tanveer Ahmed has specifically instructed me that today, 6 April 2016, to issue this statement to the press, the statement is in the words of my client.
“This all happened for one reason and no other issues and no other intentions.
“Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a Prophet.
“When 1400 years ago the Prophet of Islam Muhammad peace be upon him has clearly said that ‘I am the final messenger of Allah there is no more prophets or messengers from God Allah after me.
“‘I am leaving you the final Quran. There is no changes. It is the final book of Allah and this is the final completion of Islam. There is no more changes to it and no one has the right to claim to be a Prophet or to change the Quran or change Islam.’
“It is mentioned in the Quran that there is no doubt in this book no one has the right to disrespect the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and no one has the right to disrespect the Prophet of Islam Muhammad Peace be upon him.
“If I had not done this others would and there would have been more killing and violence in the world.
“I wish to make it clear that the incident was nothing at all to do with Christianity or any other religious beliefs even although I am a follower of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him I also love and respect Jesus Christ.”
Following Mr Shah’s funeral earlier this week the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK said it was “shocked by this brutal attack”, and expressed concern that it “reflects the impact of growing intolerance and anti-Ahmadi hate in the UK.
“We have been warning about the signs of hate being preached in the UK for many years and our concern is that if left unchecked it will grow and destroy the harmony of our society,” said Mr Rafiq Hayat, their National President.
“We have seen such hate and prejudice surface against our community on satellite television in the UK, in mosques, schools and even in local government.
“In Pakistan we have seen how extremism spreads from targeting and killing Ahmadis to targeting and killing others, as evidenced by deadly attack on Christians in Lahore this Easter Sunday, and this must not be allowed to happen here.”