Opinion: Ad hominem and red herrings, the garlic in anti-Ahmadiyya rhetoric


Ataul Fatir, London

Social media platforms, unfortunately, have become cesspits of hate. We all enjoy the benefits of connecting and “staying in the loop”, but the internet is also the perfect niche for haters and conspirers.

For Ahmadis – Muslims who have accepted the Promised Messiahas, an Ummati prophet of God – the hate and mockery online is immensely concentrated. All sorts of baseless, vile, and disingenuous allegations on the personality and character of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas are spewed; a farrago of lies and distortions.

At times, one wonders how and why – in what is meant to be an age of discovery, rationality, academic honesty and respect – such biased, bitter and baseless insinuations are put forward.

Intellectual debate, discussion and dialogue – to find what is true – have been the backbone of Islam Ahmadiyyat. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas welcomed and engaged in academic conversations and debates within the parameters of civility and mutual respect his whole life.

It is the manner of dialogue that Islam promotes. But to smear and mock – resting on vile, fallacious ad hominem arguments – will never be, and never was, the guiding light of discourse within Islam Ahmadiyyat. After all, the Holy Quran teaches us to “speak kindly” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.84) with people, and to “show justice” even against one’s enemy (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.136).

To argue fallaciously, especially while attacking the character of a person in an attempt to disregard his arguments – conscious of the emptiness of those personal attacks – is blatant injustice and falsehood, contrary to Quranic teachings.

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, even rebuked a companion for saying to a Jew that Prophet Mosesas was not greater than Prophet Muhammadsa. Hurtful and disrespectful attacks on the other are far from Islamic teachings.

The history of discourse against Ahmadi Muslims is fascinating.

When Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas made his claim, Muslim scholars pushed back at his arguments with intellectual debate. The instant reaction wasn’t to deride Hazrat Ahmadas but to challenge his arguments and rationale through academic, objective and scholarly discussions. Yes, some did instantly – due to their ill-nature – begin spewing hatred. But, for the most part, character attacks underwent an evolution and increased over time.

Let’s not forget, Hazrat Ahmadas was a champion for the Muslims of British India; he successfully and intellectually defended Islam from Christian attacks. His magnum opus, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, was the ray of hope for Muslims desperately clinging to faith in the face of Christian (and Hindu) theological arguments that aimed to dismantle Islam.

The astounding academic competence and the pious character of Hazrat Ahmadas was a common acceptance, especially for Muslims.

Screenshot 2020 06 15 at 23.26.27 1
Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya detailed powerful arguments in support of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa

When Hazrat Ahmadas made his claims, people didn’t instantly rush to attack his personality or character – they had been in awe of him. Rather, intellectual arguments on the death of Jesusas, the reality of modern Jihad, nature of revelation, the dajjal and finality of prophethood etc. took place.

As Hazrat Ahmadas, one by one, proved his arguments from Islamic traditions – the Quran, sunnah and hadith – to be true, scores of academics, intellectuals, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, accepted Hazrat Ahmadas.

Muslim scholars who had great followings, the likes of Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Lateefra, an esteemed scholar and adviser to the Afghan Amir, took Bai‘at at the hand of Hazrat Ahmadas.

Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra, another famous Muslim academic and royal physician in Jammu Kashmir, left his own residence in Kashmir and settled in Qadian, India to stay in the company of Hazrat Ahmadas.

Such people not only understood (and accepted) the rational and logical explanations of Islamic traditions that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas taught, but also realised his spiritual prowess and witnessed the divine signs of Islam Ahmadiyyat. They were intellectually honest, overlooked their egos and wholeheartedly accepted the truth.

However, as Islam Ahmadiyyat saw continuous success and began to grow, anger and frustration over the years evolved into arrogance and blind rejection of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas.

His opponents certainly labelled him all sorts of names and raised senseless objections while he was alive, but the tempest of abhorrent ad hominem arguments typically developed closer to his demise and after. It was easier to use fallacious arguments as the Ahmadiyya rationale was tremendously testing and strenuous to oppose. Dodging Ahmadiyya academia became the norm.

Today, when discussions take place about Ahmadiyyat, explicit (or tactful) accusations on the character of Hazrat Ahmadas are pushed into the rhetoric, with the aim to dismiss the arguments presented by Hazrat Ahmadas.

Discussions have diverged from academic and open-minded discourse towards (baseless) character attacks on Hazrat Ahmadas, rife with prejudice. It is now part and parcel of anti-Ahmadiyya rhetoric.

For me, most of those who claim they challenge Islam Ahmadiyyat solely through academia often aren’t divorced from fallacious ad hominem pursuits; undertones of character attacks and mockery remain.

These arguments are the garlic of anti-Ahmadiyya rhetoric; impossible to remove.

It is as if the further we move away from the time of Hazrat Ahmadas, the more we find people have failed to read his writings and ultimately rely on fallacious character attacks and red herrings to “prove” Islam Ahmadiyyat wrong.

Intellectual and academic honesty – when it comes to discussing Ahmadiyyat – disappear into the woodwork.

Further, opponents of Islam Ahmadiyyat have a strange fetish with red herrings. Illogical attacks are made on the Chanda system (a means of providing for the poor and propagating Islam), the love Ahmadis have for their Khalifa is questioned and accusations are even levelled about the “intentions” behind charities set up by the Jamaat.

You will come across countless similar red herrings when scanning anti-Ahmadiyya campaigns online, distracting from the academic essence of Hazrat Ahmad’sas claims. It is clear that these fallacious arguments have developed strong roots because Hazrat Ahmadas and his Khulafa dismantled the academic attempts to prove Islam Ahmadiyyat wrong.

Interestingly, the Holy Quran describes the genre of arguments made against prophets of God to “disprove” them and yes, they are fallacious arguments – it’s a common trend. Prophets of God are labelled as “insane”, “magicians” and from the “lower class”.

Red herrings about financial sacrifice were also used against previous believers. Allah speaks of how people “deride” the believers who spend wealth (“out of their free will”) for their faith. (Surah al-Taubah, Ch.9: V.79)

But as the Quran proves, these arguments hold no weight and the success of prophets – no matter how much the mockery – is unstoppable and divinely destined.

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