As the Glasgow community came together in the aftermath of Asad Shah's murder, some elements of the Muslim community seemed to be ecstatic at the murder of a devout and loved Ahmadi Muslim.
It's the very first case of an Ahmadi Muslim being killed in the UK due to his faith. Ahmadi persecution is a regular thing in Pakistan with reports of another being attacked due to religious prejudice almost every week. It was only a matter of time religious hatred spilled over to the UK.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a peaceful, charitable and welcoming organisation, relocated its headquarters to the UK in 1984, primarily due to dictator General Zia ul Haq's infamous blasphemy laws and crackdown on Ahmadis.They are still prevented from even calling themselves as Muslims. They're forbidden from holding gatherings, prevented from making the call to prayer and stopped from even saying 'Assalamu Alaikum', the greeting of peace. These 'crimes' still carry heavy prison sentences and have made life intolerable there.
Today many Imams and Muslim leaders refuse to acknowledge Ahmadis as Muslims. Instead the suggestion is they're merely 'posing' as Muslims. This and hate filled rhetoric against them breeds prejudice, intolerance and fierce resentment in malleable Muslims who follow such Imams.
No surprise then that Tanveer Ahmad, convicted murderer of Asad Shah spoke of the same ideological differences presented by hardline clerics as his motivation, which such Imams spout in their sermons.
The main theological difference between ordinary Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims is simply that Ahmadis claim Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Promised Messiah and the subordinate Prophet who was to appear in the latter days as foretold by Prophet Muhammad. This 'disrespect' to Prophet Muhammad is tantamount to disbelief according to them. It's so unacceptable that Ahmadis are even declared as 'wajibul qatl' - necessary to be killed.
Differences notwithstanding, Muslims and Imams need to condemn all such statements like Tanveer Ahmad's which essentially makes it justifiable to kill anyone who in the mind of brainwashed radicals, has insulted Islam. It's the same thinking which lead to the Charlie Hebdo attacks and we can't let it take root in the UK.
Already in Pakistan, a country rampaged by extremist clerics, beset with religious intolerance and tainted with blasphemy laws carrying the death penalty, minorities suffer and are killed on a regular basis. We can't let the same radical mindset gain a foothold here.
Fortunately, Britain has a good record of curbing extremism, be it political or otherwise. In the 1930s the National Government was successful in repressing political extremism through legislation and likewise limited the IRA's influence in the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.
Similarly the Prime Minister's Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 outlined measures to prevent radicalisation and cease terrorist activities. Home Secretary, Theresa May has in recent years banned certain hate speakers from entering the UK, a thoroughly commendable step.
The Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also recommended arming police, monitoring Mosque sermons and for media to limit extremist exposure. The Caliph's own sermons are broadcast live throughout the world and published often the same day on various media platforms.
Despite anti extremism measures however, Asad Shah was mercilessly killed for no crime other than loving his faith and country. Consequently, it's imperative Muslim leaders leave theological differences aside for a moment and unite with Ahmadi Muslims to create an atmosphere conducive of peace by suffocating extremist thought. Acknowledging them as Muslims would be a good start.
It's important for Muslims to know Islam is strongly against takfir, that is declaring one to be a disbeliever or non-Muslim. A point the Ahmadiyya community outlined in its latest statement. The Qur'an is explicit on this point as well. Likewise the Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) would severely reprimand those who labelled others as disbelievers.
While Muslim leaders will perhaps out of compulsion condemn the attack and Tanveer Ahmad's statement, continuing to reject Ahmadis as Muslims will only foster detestation, suspicion and sectarianism.
If we are to prevent any more incidents like Asad Shah, Muslims need to look to fostering more inter-faith harmony and unity despite ideological differences which are never excuses for murder, hate or takfir.