Canada and Pakistan: The Ontario Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) (OAAII(L)) organization in Toronto and how they are different from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada (AMJ Canada [AMJC]) in Maple; the registration process and the process both organizations carry out to determine if someone is a genuine Ahmadi (2018–November 2020) [ZZZ200425.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

This Response to Information Request replaces ZZZ200390 of November 2020.

1. Ontario Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) (OAAII(L))

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the President of the OAAII(L) provided the information in this section.

1.1 Overview

Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Ahmadiyya Organization for the Propagation of Islam), also known as the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, is a global organization with its headquarters (the Central Anjuman) located in Lahore, Pakistan. The OAAII(L) is an autonomous organization representing the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam.

The OAAII(L) has existed in Toronto since 1985. The OAAII(L) "is a Canadian religious charitable organization [that is] primarily concerned with the propagation of Islam through literature, education and exhortations to follow righteousness." The OAAII(L) has operated the Toryork Islamic Centre since February 1998. Regular Sunday afternoon prayers (Zuhr) are held at 1:30 p.m. at the centre, followed by explanations and discussions of the Qur'an and other Islamic literature. There are also Arabic classes for children and monthly lunch and learn events where a topic from the Qur'an is presented followed by questions and discussion.

1.2 Beliefs of the Two Sections of the Ahmadiyya Movement

There are two different sections of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam: the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya (also known as the Rabwa or Qadian section) and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement (widely known as the Lahore section or Lahore Ahmadis). The OAAII(L) subscribes to the ideology of the Lahore Ahmadiyya movement. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at in Maple represents the Qadian or Rabwa section. There are three major differences between the Lahore and Qadian or Rabwa section. Firstly, the Lahore section does not recognize the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement as a Prophet, whereas the Qadian or Rabwa section does. Secondly, the Lahore section does not consider other non-Ahmadi Muslims to be non-believers who are outside of the Islamic faith (Kaafirs), whereas the Qadian or Rabwa section does. Thirdly, the head of the Lahore Anjuman is elected and is "not confined to the progeny of Mirza Ghulaam [Ghulam] Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam."

The main beliefs of the two sections of the Ahmadiyya movement, including similarities and differences between them, are described in the following table:

Lahore Section Qadian Section
  1. Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is Khatam un-Nabiy-yeen, the interpretation of which is that he is the greatest and the last of all the Prophets.
  2. The Qur'an, the final Shari'ah (code) for the world, is given by God not human beings.
  3. No prophet, whether old or new, will come after the Prophet Muhammad.
  4. Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad of Qadian was not a Prophet but a Mujad-did (Reformer) and the Messiah and the Mahdi as promised in Islam.
  5. Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad never changed his claim, views or definition of Prophethood in 1901 with the publication of his booklet EK Ghalati ka Izaala (Correction of an Error.)
  6. Belief in Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad as a Mujad-did is not essential for being a Muslim but his acceptance is necessary in the interest of promoting a liberal, progressive and non-violent concept of Islam.
  7. Anyone who professes faith, in the Kalimah i.e. Laa ilaaha il-lal-laah, Muham-mad ur-Rasool Allah (No God is there but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) is a Muslim and not a Kaafir (an unbeliever who is outside of the Islamic faith.)
  8. It is permitted to say prayers behind any Muslim provided he or she is not guilty of calling other Muslims, kaafirs.
  9. Marriage relations with non-Ahmadis are permitted.
  10. After the Prophet Muhammad Wahy Nabuw-wat (Revelation from Allah to Prophets) has ceased. Only Wahy-Wilaayat (Revelations from Allah to Saints) is continued. Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad's revelations were Wahy-Wilaayat and not Wahy Nabuw-wat.
  11. The Founder of the Lahore Section was Maulaana Muhammad Ali. M.A., L.L.B., translator of the Qur'an in English and a companion and disciple of the Founder of the Movement. He became the Ameer (Leader) of the Lahore section and his democratically elected successors carry the title of Hazrat Amir.
  12. The members of this worldwide section call themselves Ahmadis and are generally known as Ahmadis or Lahore Ahmadis or Ahmadis of the Lahore Section.
  1. Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is Khatam un-Nabiy yeen, the interpretation of which is that he is the greatest though not the last of al[l] the prophets.
  2. The same.
  3. Prophets may come after the Prophet Muhammad who shall be followers of Muhammad.
  4. Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad of Qadian was a Prophet as well as the Messiah and the Mahdi as promised in Islam.
  5. The first written evidence of the change of belief with regard to his "'prophethood'" was in 1901 with the publication [o]f his booklet Ek Ghalati ka Izaala (Correction of an Error).
  6. Belief in Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad as a prophet is essential for being a Muslim.
  7. Anyone who does not believe Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad of Qadian as a prophet is a kaafir (an unbeliever who is outside of the Islamic faith.)
  8. It is not permitted to say prayers behind any Muslim who does not recognize Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad as a Prophet.
  9. Marriage relations with non-Ahmadis are not permitted.
  10. After the Prophet Muhammad Wahy Nabuw-wat (Revelation from Allah to Prophets) continues. Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad's revelations were Wahy Nabuw-wat (Revelation from Allah to Prophets.)
  11. The Founder of the Qadian section was Bashir ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, the son of the Founder of the Movement, who had changed some of the Founder's writings to establish himself as a Khaleefa (Caliph.) The Caliph is not democratically elected. Succession is confined to his progeny who carry the title Khalifatul Maseeh (Caliph of the Messiah.)
  12. The members of this section call themselves Ahmad[i]s but are generally known as Qadianis or Rabwites.

This section originally known as the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya often establishes itself as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community or the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at.

(emphasis in original)

1.3 Registration and Verification of Affiliation

Membership is open to Muslims and an individual is considered "a member of the Muslim fraternity by reciting the Islamic formula of faith" (Kalimah). Applications for membership are submitted to the Executive Committee. An applicant decides the type of membership (full, associate, or junior), then fills out and signs the required membership form. There are three types of membership: full membership is open to those who take the pledge (Bai'at [Bia'at]) of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam and pay a monthly subscription of ten dollars per person; associate membership is open to those "who are not inimical" to the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam and pay a monthly subscription of five dollars per person; junior membership is open to those under the age of fifteen, who take the Bai'at of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam. A member who is unable to pay the subscription fee can inform the Executive Committee, which will determine their position as a member. A copy of the membership form and the Bai'at are attached to this Response (Attachments 1 and 2). Membership is maintained by paying subscription fees and other dues such as Zakaat and Fitr charity.

All members are "bound by the rules of the Anjuman" and the Executive Committee has "the right to suspend or expel from membership any member guilty of conduct, which, in the opinion of the Executive, is injurious to the best interest of the Anjuman." The Ahmadiyya Code of Ethics (Conditions of Bai'at) states the following:

One who would like to be initiated into the Movement must pledge as follows:

FIRSTLY, that until he or she is laid in his or her grave, he or she will shun all forms and shades of shirk (polytheism)[.]

SECONDLY, that he or she will guard against falsehood, fornication, evil sights and every form of sin, evil, cruelty, dishonesty, disorder and rebellion: and that in moments of passion, he or she will on no account give in, however boisterous that passion may be.

THIRDLY, that without fail, he or she will say his or her prayers five times a day as enjoyed by God and His Messenger and that, to the best of his or her power, he or she will say his or her midnight prayer, will invoke Divine blessings on the Holy Prophet, will ask forgiveness for his or her sins and will, with a truly loving heart, recall God's favour and glorify Him.

FOURTHLY, that he or she will do nothing in any way to injure his or her fellow human beings in general and the Muslim in particular – neither with the tongue, nor with the hand, nor in any other way.

FIFTHLY, that he or she will show fidelity to God under all circumstances – alike in prosperity and adversity, in pleasure and pain, in time of bliss and affliction; that he or she will resign himself to God under all conditions and will cheerfully bear all hardships and humiliations in His way; that in the hour of calamity he or she will not turn his back but will step yet onward.

SIXTHLY, that he or she will eschew observance of evil customs or following the promptings of his lower nature; that he or she will thoroughly submit to the yoke of the Holy Qur'an, and that in every walk of life he or she will hold the Word of God and of His Messenger as his guiding principle.

SEVENTHLY, that he or she will totally abstain from haughtiness and will live in humility, meekness and mildness.

EIGHTHLY, that he or she will hold the honour of religion and sympathy for Islam dearer than everything else – dearer than his life, his wealth, his honour, his children, his kith and kin.

NINTHLY, that he or she will make it a rule of his life to show sympathy towards all human being out of love for God and that, to the best of his power, he or she will use all of his God-given faculties and blessing for the benefit of humanity.

TENTHLY, that binding himself with me (i.e., Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam), in a fraternal bond in the way of Allah, he or she will obey me in everything good, and will live up to his pledge till his death; that in this fraternal bond he or she will show sincerity as is not met with in cases of blood relations or other worldly connections. (emphasis in original)

If a person's status as an Ahmadi is in question, the OAAII(L) uses two methods to verify whether they are a genuine Ahmadi. Firstly, the person is questioned about their views of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement and its founder Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad and is required to sign the Bai'at Pledge form. A copy of the Bai'at Pledge form is attached to this Response (Attachment 2). Secondly, the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam in Lahore (the Central Anjuman) is required to verify that the person is a genuine Ahmadi (OAAII(L) 30 Oct. 2020).

2. Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (AMJ) Canada [AMJC]

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the National Vice President of the AMJ Canada provided the information in this section.

2.1 Registration and Verification of Affiliation

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community must register with the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada Inc. In order to register, they must fill out a "Member Information Form," which includes name, address, member code, whether the individual is an Ahmadi by birth or conversion, the date and country of conversion, information about their spouse and other family members, and contact information for two "credible" references [in] Canada. The two required references "must be well known to the AMJ." The president of the applicant's local branch in Canada must endorse the form by verifying the information provided on the form and contacting the references. The local president also interviews the applicant and speaks to the references to verify whether they are an Ahmadi by birth or conversion. Once the local president is "satisfied," they forward the form to the National President who double-checks the verification conducted by the local president. "If everything is in order, the applicant is registered with the community and is eligible to receive a verification letter, if needed."

If the applicant is unable to provide "satisfactory" references, or if they are not known to any "well-known" members or officials of the AMJ in Canada, "then the case is referred to the AMJ International Headquarters in Rabwah (Chenab Nagar), Pakistan, for further verification." The headquarters in Pakistan verifies the name of the applicant in their database and if no information is found, the case is sent to the president of the local branch where the individual resided in Pakistan. The president of the local branch in Pakistan then attempts to verify whether the individual is Ahmadi and whether they participated in local community programs. The verification (or failure of verification) is communicated back to the Canadian headquarters and if the verification is positive, the applicant is registered with the AMJ and is issued a verification letter; if not, a verification letter is not issued.

The time it takes to verify an applicant varies, ranging from one week, if done locally, to three months, if verification from the headquarters in Pakistan is required.

If the reference check or report from headquarters indicates that an individual is an Ahmadi by birth, "then the person is deemed a genuine Ahmadi." If the individual is a recent convert, then the reference check, report from the headquarters in Pakistan, the length of time that has passed since the conversion, and participation in community activities are "taken into consideration to verify genuineness." "[A]nyone who has recently converted is normally not issued the verification letter (in exceptional cases, [a] letter may be issued with the date of conversion mentioned on the letter)."

Following the confirmation of membership, the applicant is enrolled in a database, is given a unique identification code, and is issued a membership card. "All members of the AMJ in Canada have a membership card, which contains his or her name, name of [their] branch in Canada, and the identification code." For immigration and for refugee determination procedures,

the AMJ issues a specially formatted letter signed by an authorized representative, usually it is the National Vice President. This letter is computer generated on a special watermark[ed] paper, has a unique reference number, and the names and dates of birth of the applicant and his or her family members and the relationship with the person in question. This letter is valid only when it has all these characteristics.

2.2 Differences Between the AMJ and the OAAII(L)

The AMJ and the OAAII(L) are different and entirely separate; administratively, the two organizations have no links with one another. Both are sects of Islam and both believe in the Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah; the OAAII(L) does not believe in the caliphate system. The AMJ "follows a caliphate system that started after the demise of the Promised Messiah. Currently the head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at is the 5th Caliph" (AMJ Canada 18 Nov. 2020).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (AMJ) Canada. 18 November 2020. Correspondence from the National Vice President to the Research Directorate.

Ontario Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) (OAAII(L)). 30 October 2020. Correspondence from the President to the Research Directorate.

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) – headquarters in Pakistan.

Internet sites, including: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) – Pakistan headquarters, US branch; Ahmadiyya Gazette Canada; Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada; Al Islam; CBC; ecoi.net; Factiva; The Globe and Mail; LinkedIn; The Muslim Sunrise; The National Post.

Attachments

  1. Ontario Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) (OAAII(L)). N.d. "Application for Membership." Sent to the Research Directorate by the President of the OAAII(L), 30 October 2020.
  2. Ontario Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) (OAAII(L)). N.d. "Bai'at - The Pledge." Sent to the Research Directorate by the President of the OAAII(L), 30 October 2020.