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'No Authority To Expel': Smriti Irani Says After Andhra Waqf Board Designates Ahmaddiyas As 'Non-Muslims'

Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani said no Waqf Board in the country has the authority to expel a person or a community from a religion, hours after a prominent Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Tuesday came out in support of the Andhra Pradesh Waqf Board's stance designating the Ahamaddiya community as 'non-Muslims'

Smriti Irani speaks to reporters outside parliament
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Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani said no Waqf Board in the country has the authority to expel a person or a community from a religion, hours after a prominent Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Tuesday came out in support of the Andhra Pradesh Waqf Board's stance designating the Ahmaddiya community as 'non-Muslims,' and claimed that this is the "unanimous position" of all Muslims. With this statement, the Jamiat has taken a position that stands against the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs which recently intervened on the matter on behalf of the Ahamadiyyas. 

"No Waqf Board has authority, under the Act of Parliament, that it expels a person or a community from a religion. We have sought a reply from the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary. We have requested him to put the facts before us because the Ahmadiyya Muslim community had appealed to the Minority Affairs Ministry," Irani told reporters outside Parliament.

Waqf Board's resolution

In a statement, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (Mahmood Madani faction) has supported the stance taken by the Andhra Pradesh Waqf Board regarding the Ahmadiyyas, asserting that it reflects the "unanimous position of all Muslims". "Union minister Smriti Irani's insistence on a different view is deemed unwarranted and illogical since the Waqf Board's primary purpose is to safeguard the endowments and interests of Muslims, as defined in the Waqf Act," the Jamiat said. Therefore, properties and places of worship belonging to a community that is not recognized as Muslims do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Waqf Board, it argued.

Jamiat further said the religion of Islam rests on two fundamental beliefs -- affirming the oneness of Allah and the belief that Prophet Muhammad is the final Messenger of Allah. Both these beliefs are integral components of the five basic pillars of Islam, it said. Contrary to these essential Islamic beliefs, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad took a position that challenges the concept of the finality of prophethood, it said. In light of this principled and factual difference, there is no basis to consider the group as an Islamic sect, and all Islamic schools of thought agree that this group is non-Muslim, the Jamiat said.

Ministry of Minority Affairs

On July 20, the Ministry of Minority Affairs send a strongly-worded letter to the Andhra Pradesh government, calling the Waqf Board's resolution a "hate campaign" which "could have ramifications across the country". "A representation dated 20.7.2023 has been received from the Ahmaddiya Muslim community, vide which it has been stated that certain Waqf Boards have been opposing the Ahmadiyya Community and passing illegal resolutions declaring the community to be outside the fold of Islam," said the letter sent to Chief Secretary Andhra Pradesh K S Jawahar Reddy. 

"This constitutes a hate campaign against the Ahmadiyya community at large and the Waqf Board neither has the jurisdiction nor authority to determine religious identity of any community including Ahmadiyyas," the letter reportedly said.

Ahmadiyya community

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (the official name of the community) is a contemporary messianic movement founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839–1908), who was born in the small village of Qadian in Punjab, India. Earlier in 2012, the Andhra Pradesh Waqf Board passed a resolution declaring the Ahmadiyyas and 'non-Muslims' which was later challenged in the state high court. The court further ordered interim suspension of operation of the resolution.

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