Graffiti that branded worshippers at a mosque from a minority sect of Islam “infidels” appear to have been written by rival Muslims, a community leader fears.
The Noor Mosque in Langley Drive is occupied by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community but is open to worshippers from mainstream sects of the religion if they choose to attend.
Sometime between last Thursday evening and Friday afternoon last week someone daubed two messages on doors at the mosque, both using the same derogative word – Qadyni (Qadiani).
The Ahmadiyya community is viewed by mainstream sects of Islam as not being “true” Muslims because of a difference of opinion over Muhammad being the final prophet sent to mankind.
Ahsan Ahmedi, regional president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said it appears the mosque was targeted by a Muslim who disagrees with their branch of the religion.
He said: “I’m quite angry because I thought we had done away with all of this. There were previous incidents over the last few years but with the help of police we thought we had nipped that in the bud.
“The graffiti that was used was clearly by some Muslim boys or some other Muslims because of the language used. But the script was English.”
The term Qadiani is used to describe someone from a small town in northern India called Qadian.
Because it is the birthplace of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya community, it has become a derogatory term for its followers.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in 1835, was regarded by his followers as the messiah and a prophet.
Other Muslims believe this to be blasphemy as they say Muhammad is the final prophet.
The graffiti attacked the movement and its followers, stating that Qadynat (the Ahmadiyya faith) is Kafir (an infidel faith); and that Qadyni or Qadiani (Ahmadis) are Kafir (infidels).
It was discovered when worshippers turned up for Friday afternoon prayers.
Abdus-Samad Siddeeq, Imam at Langley Green Mosque on Martyrs Avenue, has denounced attacks on Ahmadis and their places of worship and said followers of other sects of Islam must learn to “live and let live” despite their differences.
He said: “First and foremost, acts of vandalism we do not promote and we condemn them. The issue with Ahmadis is tricky, because they are a very tiny percentage of the world’s population of Muslims and they are considered by all the other Muslim groups as non-Muslims.
“The issue is ‘not in my name’. They [are seen to] have distorted the religion of Islam.”
Although there is no suggestion it was anyone who attends Langley Green Mosque that carried out the act of vandalism, Imam Siddeeq added that he is willing to meet with the leaders of the Ahmadi community to discuss how further incidents like this can be avoided.
He said: “We have to live and let live. Up to now I don’t think anything [like this] has happened. It’s a criminal act and we condemn it. We did discuss among ourselves that we should approach them to discuss the issue [of tension between Ahmadis and other Muslims] and we’re still willing to do that.
“We actively discourage any act like that. It’s against the law to attack any place of worship. At the same time we can’t really agree [on our viewpoint regarding Islam] but we have to agree to disagree.”
The Ahmadiyya community bought a church in Langley Drive in 2012 and converted it into the current mosque.
It officially opened in January 2014.
Religious differences have had horrific consequences
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been persecuted by other Muslims since its inception in 1889. The strength of feeling towards their branch of Islam cannot be underestimated.
The idea that Muhammad is the final prophet underpins all other branches of the Islamic faith so for one group to claim their founder was regarded as a prophet is seen as a distortion of the faith.
This has led to violent attacks on Ahmadi mosques and its followers with a number of Ahmadi murders attributed to anger at their beliefs.
In Pakistan such attacks have been particularly brutal and the country amended its constitution 40 years ago to declare Ahmadis ‘non-Muslim’.
The single deadliest attack on Ahmadis was in Lahore, Pakistan in May 2010 when 86 worshippers were killed with grenades and bullets.