Indonesian Province Restricts Ahmadiyyah

JAKARTA — An Indonesian province has imposed restrictions on the followers of Ahmadiyyah to prevent them from spreading deviant beliefs, but came short of banning the sect as demanded by many Muslim groups.

“The Ahmadiyah have a right to live in Bangka,” Fery Insani, a senior official in the local government, told Reuters on Tuesday, January 26.

“In a meeting with community leaders and religious figures, all of us have agreed that it is forbidden for them to conduct activities like spreading their faith.”

The move by Bangka-Belitung, made up of two main islands off South Sumatra, is the latest against the group deemed deviant by Muslim scholars.

Ahmadiyyah was declared a deviant group by the Indonesia Ulemas Council (MUI), the country’s highest Muslim authority, in 2008.

After the decision, members of the tiny Ahmadiyah community on the tin-rich Bangka island demanded protection.

“We hope the police can guarantee security for the Ahmadiyah people in Bangka and that the local government guarantees our rights as citizens,” said Yendra Budiana, a Jakarta-based spokesman for the Indonesia Ahmadiyah Community.

Calls to outlaw the sect have been mounting over the past years after a government board supervising religious affairs recommended disbanding Ahmadiyyah in 2008.

Ahmadiyyah was declared a deviant group by the Indonesia Ulemas Council (MUI), the country’s highest Muslim authority, last January.

Ahmadiyyah was founded in the beginning of the 20th century by Ghulam Ahmed, from the village of Qadiyan in Punjab.

He claimed to be a Messenger of God and his followers believe Prophet Muhammad was the best but not last Prophet.

In 1914, the sect was divided with the overwhelming majority belonging to the Ahmadiyyah Community, also known as Qadyanis, while the other minor group is known as the Lahore Ahmadiyyah.

The Lahore group does not believe in Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet but rather as Mujaddid (renovator) but still believes Prophet Muhammad was not the last prophet.

Scholars of Islam unanimously consider the followers of both groups to be non-believers.