Are Ahmadi Muslims Sunnis or Shiites

Reformer of Islam? The Ahmadiyya community

Status: December 21, 2017 6:26 p.m. | archive

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat advocates peaceful Islam and integration. However, the community is also controversial. In many Islamic countries, the Ahmadis are often discriminated against and persecuted as followers of a sect. In Germany, on the other hand, the Ahmadiyya community in Hamburg and Hesse enjoys the status of a corporation under public law. A status that has so far been denied to other Muslim communities.

By Michael Hollenbach

Around 50 Ahmadis gathered for Friday prayers in the Sami mosque in the north of Hanover. Munawar Hussain Toor, like most Ahmadis, comes from Pakistan. The imam explains what is special about his Islamic community: "We believe that the reformer has already come and all other Muslims are still waiting for a reformer."

The Ahmadiyya

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat (AMJ, Jamaat = community) emerged from Islam as a reform movement. It originated in northern India at the end of the 19th century. It was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who saw himself as a prophet. In many Islamic countries, his followers are still regarded by Sunnis and Shiites as infidels and are marginalized and sometimes even persecuted. The AMJ operates internationally, carries out missions and maintains its own mosques. It is directed by a caliph who lives in London and is elected for life. There are currently around 35,000 Ahmadis in Germany. The AMJ has been recognized as a public corporation in Hesse since 2013, and in Hamburg since 2014.

The reformer Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is not only the namesake; He has an outstanding position for his religious community, says the Hamburg-based Ahmadi Sami Khokhar: "The founder describes himself as the promising Messiah. Like Jesus to Moses, so the founder of our community positions himself to the prophet Mohammed. We say the Messiah that we believe is the second coming of Jesus. "

A caliph to succeed Mohammed

Since the end of the 19th century, the community, which has around twelve million members worldwide, has been led by a spiritual leader. Caliph Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who lives in London, is the fifth successor to the Messiah of the Ahmadis. The sermons of the caliph are recited at Friday prayers in all mosques of the community around the world. Abdullah Wagishauser, chairman of the Ahmadiyya community in Germany, also emphasizes the clear religious orientation towards the caliph: "Perhaps comparable to the Catholic Church - the Pope. The caliph is binding for all Muslims, and everyone has a more or less personal relationship with him Relationship. And that is unique in the Islamic world. "

"A caliph, a living master who sees himself as a follower of Mohammed, is completely unacceptable for a normal Muslim," says Friedmann Eißler, Islam expert at the Evangelical Central Office for Worldview Issues. Most Muslims are convinced that after Muhammad there could be no other prophet. The Islamic World League condemned the Ahmadis as infidels in 1974. But it is precisely the hierarchical structure, a certain transparency and the fact that the Ahmadis have been in Germany for almost 100 years that helped the community to be recognized as a corporation under public law in Hamburg and Hesse. Outwardly, the Ahmadis like to present themselves as reformers: "They see themselves as reforming Islam through the promising Messiah," explains Eißler. "This concept of reform has nothing to do with what we understand as reform, i.e. more modern or liberal interpretations."

Controversial position of women

The self-assessment of Abdullah Wagishauser - "We are liberal, but value conservative" - ​​Friedmann Eißler cannot understand, because the positions of the Ahmadis are seldom liberal. For example when it comes to women. The Hanoverian Imam Munawar Hussain Toor: "It is the case that women and men pray separately so that one has one hundred percent concentration on God during prayer. That is human nature: When a woman stands in front, it distracts."

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The women of the community usually refuse to shake hands with men; the headscarf is seen as a divine law defending polygamy.

A modern variant of Islam?

The central message that can be found in all Ahmadi mosques is: love for all, hate for none. But at the same time the Ahmadis make it clear, according to Friedmann Eißler, that the basis of their faith is only the Koran, which one should not interpret: "After 300 years, all other religions should be overcome. It is spoken of the final victory of Islam and it is in militant images indicated that Islam is the only religion that will survive. "

Abdullah Wagishauser, on the other hand, sees his community more as a modern variant of Islam: "I believe that other Islamic communities do not have this message that Islam is a religion that has an insane potential for peace and is a religion that also provides answers to the questions today has. "

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NDR culture | Friday Forum | 12/22/2017 | 3:20 pm