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Monday, April 7, 2014

Fatwa on Sunday: The unlikely Ayatollah of Luton

'Luton on Sunday' is a free newspaper like hundreds of other weekly papers printed in all towns and cities.
In this week's edition, the newspaper printed an apology for any "offence caused to the members of the 'Muslim' community in Luton" due to an advert published in the previous week's edition.
Offending Muslims is a nightmare for any media group. Why would they want to see copies of their newspapers and effigies being burnt on their doorstep? And death threats in such controversies are almost as certain as death itself. One can imagine the extreme distress (to both the newspaper and 'Muslims of Luton') which may have caused such an apology to be printed.
What prompted such an emergency response by Luton on Sunday to "completely dissociate themselves from the content" of an advertisement from the 'Ahmadiyya'? It was a visit by the local Muslim leaders who explained to the editors how the content was offensive to Muslims. The editors must have had a faith inspiring meeting with the Mullahs as their apology contained a 'fatwa' against the offending 'Ahmadiyya', who prefer to be known as the Ahmadiyya Muslims. But Luton on Sunday, like a seasoned Mullah, declared them outside the fold.
Their apology referred to the sponsors of the advertisement as just 'Ahmadiyya', pointedly omitting the word 'Muslim' from their title. God forbid if someone associated them with Islam, especially after the Mullahs had delivered a timely education in Islamic theology and Arabic lexicon to the learned staff at the newspaper!
Luton on Sunday accepts that Ahmadi Muslims have no right to be referred to as Muslims!
The advertisement itself has appeared on dozens of local newspapers across the UK in the past week. It contains an introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a reformist sect of Islam, which preaches peace and tolerance. They have been declared heretics by the religious orthodoxy since their inception in 1889. Their offending belief is their acceptance of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the Mahdi, a Messiah who has been awaited for centuries by the Muslims. Establishing a community of believers in India, Ahmad taught them the true meanings of Jihad as a struggle to reform oneself and to establish peace in the world.
The advertisement was printed to celebrate 125th anniversary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Since then, the Ahmadiyya Muslims have spread in all parts of the world as a progressive, tolerant and educated community who are valued as good neighbours and model citizens.
Indeed, all reformist movements are seen as a threat by the establishment and the orthodoxy. Pakistan has such laws in place to bar Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims. Even a suspicion that an Ahmadi is behaving like a Muslim may land him in jail. Recently a British Ahmadi Muslim was caught 'red-handed' reading the Quran while on a visit to Pakistan. He spent many weeks in jail before being bailed out and escaping from further prosecution by leaving the country.

The community leaders who met with the newspaper editors would love to have similar laws in this country as well. Luckily, we live in a secular democracy where all are free to express themselves as they like.
If the editors of the newspaper had a chance to meet Ahmadis and then asked to describe them in one word, MUSLIM will be their answer. They pray five times a day, read the Quran, follow the modest dress-code, go to the Mosques and celebrate two Eid's every year. How easy was it to drop the word 'Muslim' from their name? One wonders.
Was it a threat of boycott or more serious action by the clergy?
Free newspapers are businesses and expecting journalistic integrity from them is maybe asking for a bit too much. But even businesses should have some morals. Why dissociate yourself from the message on an advert? A newspaper isn't under any obligation to agree with all the ads it prints. And those who chose to take offense from a message of peace and tolerance are free to do so without infringing upon the rights of free speech and expression of others.
'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.'
I understand that any business has a right to refuse entering into a transaction, but do they have the right to impart their opinions and issue fatwas on an advertisement they have already printed?
The critics of Ahmadiyya Muslims are too quick to mention numerous countries which have passed legislation against the Ahmadi Muslims. But they forget to mention that all such legislations are in direct contravention of the international laws and are universally condemned by all secular and democratic countries.
A letter from a 'concerned' group.

The newspaper should also be aware that this Talibanized attitude towards minority groups is a worrying trend in the British society. Ahmadi Muslims have been targeted through hate material on private TV stations which have had to be penalized by Ofcom on numerous occasions. There are extremist groups which have issued death threats against the community in the UK.
Many such organizations using the name 'Khatme Nabuwwat' (finality of prophethood) have deep rooted ideological and financial links with outfits sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban elsewhere. In countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, these groups have committed murders of Ahmadi Muslims and other minorities.
Should a newspaper based in Luton, Bedfordshire, align itself with such groups?


  1. I think Huzur should move to Canada. It's not safe in the UK anymore. Maybe for the Khilafat-e-Masih, Rabwah was Mecca, London was Abyssinia, and Canada is Madina? (insha'Allah)

  2. Surprisingly Disappointing. For the first time my image of a free society in the UK is trashed. It may be better than Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, but it is not a free society at all. Time will tell.

  3. Surprisingly Disappointing. For the first time my image of a free society in the UK is trashed. It may be better than Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, but it is not a free society at all. Time will tell.

  4. Maybe this is a wake up call for us Ahmadis too! Hudhur (aba) clearly mentioned that there's no point in paying newspapers now and that there shouldve been better organization with regards to PR.
    Even though this is highly disgusting and wrong, it is a wake up call for us to have better relations with the press and media.

  5. The actions of the newspaper, not to mention the actions of the Luton "Muslim community" who called the meeting, has kicked up a stink on social media. I have sent an email to the paper. On Twitter anti-hate group @TellMama have been asked to get involved. I can't believe the newspaper would do such a thing.

  6. What a shame that a British newspaper was influenced by Mullahs. A free society is now being regulated, God knows where this will lead.

    1. It will lead to the bastardisation of Australia also.

  7. This all means that the Roman Catholic Church has the right to declare ALL other groups to NOT be Christian, like Church of England or the Protestants (Interesting name, that) or the Lutherans....
    Were these 'local Muslim leaders' Sunni by the way, one of the other many sects in Islam?

  8. Maybe you should stop calling yourselves Muslims then...



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