Most people have heard the word Muslim.
Many of those are familiar with “the two types” of Muslims: Sunni and Shi’a.
Beyond that? Some Muslims aren’t even aware of the fact that there’s more to the faith than just those two branches.
So, as a young girl, when I mentioned our spiritual leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, to friends, I invited questions about my sect. And when questions came about which sect I was from, my answer – “Ahmadiyyat!” – was often not welcomed.
[bctt tweet=”When questions about my sect came, my answer was often not welcomed. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
I have been raised as a part of this community, as an Ahmadi Muslim. My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are, or were, all Ahmadi as well. While other Muslims believe in the coming advent of a Messiah, Ahmadis already accepted one back in the 1800s. For this reason alone, we face ostracism, hostility, and hate from every corner of the world.
Sometimes, I use the analogy of Mormons in relation to Christianity. They are largely not accepted by mainstream Christians and there’s a definite outcry against their beliefs. They share multiple similarities, but the few differences have somehow distanced them significantly from mainstream Christianity (at least, according to critics).
As an Ahmadi, I have learned the power of hate.
The amount of hate people carry in their hearts for Ahmadiyyat and Ahmadis never fails to amaze me. Islam is built off of love, but so many Muslim brothers and sisters cannot accept us Ahmadis.
In Pakistan, the government itself is extremely opposed to Ahmadis. Going to the mosque, saying “salam,” or even praying in your home are risks an Ahmadi must take, aware that an arrest could very well be in store. Ahmadis are officially labeled as “imposters” of “real” Muslims, forced to denounce the very fabric of their faith on government documents.
[bctt tweet=”Islam is built off love, but so many Muslim brothers and sisters cannot accept us Ahmadis.” username=”wearethetempest”]
And if they don’t? Burning, looting, robbery, arrest, shooting, beheading: those are the words that circulate in the air, uncomfortable and heavy. And far too many Muslims in the country (and around the world) fail to really stand up for Ahmadi rights.
I first learned about the persecution in fourth grade, visiting one of my best friend’s houses. Everybody was sad, and my mother told me that her grandfather had unexpectedly passed away.
“How?” I asked.
But she wouldn’t tell me. I then found out that a man had walked into a mosque in Lahore, where her grandfather was praying, and started firing. She had lost her grandfather as a martyr of faith, simply because of one man’s failure to understand and accept the few key differences between Ahmadiyyat and other denominations.
[bctt tweet=”We’re a pretty small denomination but we are definitely impacting the world.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Throughout my childhood, I remember attending many dinner parties with my mother’s large group of (non-Ahmadi) Muslim friends. So many kind faces but there never failed to be the occasional friend of a friend who was abruptly cold towards us upon finding out what my family believed in.
My mother’s nice friends were always welcoming, but we were almost never invited to the Eid parties. I guess those were just a little bit too close to home for people to stomach the thought of us attending.
As an Ahmadi, I have learned the power of love.
Our slogan is “love for all, hatred for none.” And at my under-funded mosque, with the small community of tight-knit, dedicated people, I have learned the value of hard work and commitment. We’re a pretty small denomination in comparison to Sunnis or Shi’as, but we are definitely leaving our fair share of impact on the world. We have some of the most far-reaching outreach efforts to spread the message of peace in times of chaos; we visit nearby cities, other states, and other countries to lend a hand in times of crises, and have been recognized by the media for our service.
I have definitely learned what it means to be strong, to persevere. People who downright hated us were all around us, but not once do I remember ever being told a single negative thing about a non-Ahmadi or a non-Muslim. We were always encouraged to be tolerant in the face of persecution and to hold open discussion and dialogue.
[bctt tweet=”It’s about those who can take messages of hate and turn them into love. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
As an Ahmadi, I have learned what power means.
It’s not about who’s treated as an imposter in their own faith or which denomination has the most followers. It’s about those who can take messages of hate and turn them into love.
That’s what it means to be an Ahmadi Muslim.
And that just might be what it takes for the Muslim Ummah to be truly united.