Ahmadiyya Muslim Caliph, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, was recently interviewed by Peter Mansbridge with the CBC, where the two discussed topics ranging from Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential run to the perception of some of gender inequality within Islam. The religious leader has been touring Canada over the month of October.
Upon being elected successor to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, in 2003, the fifth to have the title bestowed upon him, Masroor Ahmad was promptly forced from Pakistan where Ahmadis are considered to be “non-Muslims.”
Masroor Ahmad has continued to govern the Ahmadiyya community in exile from the United Kingdom, where Ahmadis also face persecution from other Muslim sects as well as groups with anti-Muslim views, as reported by The Guardian.
In March, Glasgow Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah was repeatedly stabbed to death by a Sunni cab driver from Toller, Tanveer Ahmed. There is no shortage of examples of attacks against Ahmadi Muslims online.
It is estimated that 10 to 20 million of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide belong to the Ahmadiyya community. In the United States, Pew Research reports that 65 percent of Muslims identify as Sunni, 11 percent as Shia, and the remainder as non-denominational Muslims. Ahmadis are not mentioned in the Pew study.
Peter Mansbridge asked Mirza Masroor Ahmad about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, which the CBC anchor acknowledged had been softened slightly to one of “extreme vetting” more recently.
“I believe that if he wins, and that is a very big if, he will not implement what he is saying,” the Ahmadiyya caliph explained.
Mansbridge asked if, perhaps, Masroor Ahmad’s view might be “wishful thinking.” The host pointed out that Donald Trump speaks for “millions” of Americans.
The caliph pointed out that “millions of Americans” have not forced Donald Trump to behave in the manner that he has. Mansbridge acknowledged Masroor Ahmad’s insight that Donald Trump’s rhetoric preceded his followers and their rhetoric.
Peter Mansbridge then asked about the problem that Donald Trump’s supporters, now emboldened, would seem to present.
Mirza Masroor Ahmad spoke of “chaos” and “conflict” within the United States if Donald Trump is elected and takes “any harsh step” to “deny the rights” of U.S. Muslims. The caliph cited recent examples of Muslims and non-Muslims alike engaging in acts of “revenge,” including brutal killings and school shootings.
The Ahmadiyya caliph went on to state that with the current lack of a U.S. “gun law,” if Donald Trump is elected and he actually enacts his plans for a Muslim ban or extreme vetting that there could be extreme consequences.
“I fear that there’s going to be a civil war,” Mirza Masroor Ahmad stated.
“Civil war?” Mansbridge repeated the caliph’s words carefully.
“Yes, of course,” Masroor Ahmad replied. “They will raise against the government.”
The caliph explained that even a single person can effectively stand up if the government attempts to remove the rights of its citizens. He reiterated his view that no matter who is elected president of the United States, a Muslim ban of the type proposed by Donald Trump will not be implemented.
Mansbridge asked Mirza Masroor Ahmad about his perception of Canada as a tolerant nation. The CBC host noted the pride felt by many Canadians with the number of Syrian refugees the country has committed to accepting and contrasted this with a recent CBC/Angus Reid Institute poll that found that 68 percent of Canadians felt that “minorities should be doing more to fit in with mainstream society” and the fact that only 53 percent of Americans shared this same view.
The CBC has recently reported on racial tensions in Saskatchewan in the wake of the shooting of 22-year-old Colten Boushie by 54-year-old farmer Gerald Stanley after the First Nations man and several friends drove onto Stanley’s property seeking help with a flat tire. It was said to have been suggested on social media that Stanley’s biggest mistake was not shooting Boushie’s accomplices, thereby eliminating any witnesses to the murder charges he is facing.
Mirza Masroor Ahmad offered the belief that it is “compulsory” and “incumbent” for refugees and immigrants who travel to western countries like Canada, the United States, and Germany, to live “peacefully” and “absorbed into society.” He described Ahmadiyya Muslims as “absorbing” into society well. The caliph did not address the issues facing First Nations communities in Canada.
“The love of your country is part of your faith.”
Mansbridge asked Masroor Ahmad about his criticism of some U.K. imam’s who have permitted “radical” groups to organize in their mosques.
The Ahmadiyya caliph stated that mosques need to be “monitored” by authorities to safeguard against the formation of radicalized groups. He explained that it is the “duty” of authorities to keep a “vigilant eye” on imams who have allowed rhetoric promoting violence or extremism.
Mirza Masroor Ahmad explained that he does not believe that drinking alcohol or men shaking hands with women is necessary for Muslims to integrate in western culture.
Mansbridge then pressed Masroor Ahmad with regard to the separation of men and women in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The journalist presented the Muslim leader with a photograph of thousands of men at an Ahmadi mosque and asked why women were forced to gather in a separate room.
“To some people that’s not acceptable,” Peter Mansbridge said of segregation.
The caliph offered that members of the Ahmadi faith attend segregated mosques of their own free will.
Peter Mansbridge returned that Muslims aren’t free to enter “that room” shown in the photo.
Masroor Ahmad spoke of the level of comfort enjoyed by both male and female members of the Ahmadiyya community.
The caliph explained how the separation of Muslims by their gender is taught in the Quran “whether you like or not.”
Mansbridge cited the decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appoint a cabinet composed of 50 percent women and the criticism Trudeau recently received for appearing in an all-male mosque, stating “it’s a sensitive issue.”
Mirza Masroor Ahmad explained that female Ahmadis are more “educated” and “literate” than males, even in developing nations like Pakistan, insisting that the religion does not deprive women “of their rights.”
[Featured Image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]