... about 280 active members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Singapore, which is based in a mosque along Onan Road. These believers claim that the Ahmadiyya movement is a branch of Islam, with one key difference: while it accepts the divinity of Prophet Muhammad, it does not believe that he is the last messenger of Allah. Ahmadis look to their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a 19th century religious leader from the Punjab, as the prophesied Mahdi, or redeemer of Islam.

Among other things, Ahmadis also believe that Jesus Christ survived crucifixion and died of old age in Kashmir, and that the likes of Confucius, Lao Tzu and Buddha are messengers of God sent to other peoples. There are said to be some 10-20 million Ahmadis around the world, including the Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, who starred in the critically acclaimed “Moonlight”. Their current spiritual leader is Mirza Masroor Ahmad or Khalifatul Masih V, the fifth successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

Founded in 1889, the Ahmadi faith was first exported to Singapore by the missionary Ghulam Ahmad Ayyaz in 1935. Adherents subscribe to many of the same articles of faith of Islam. For example, they pray five times a day while facing towards Mecca, fast during Ramadan and are guided by the Koran. The Kalimah, or declaration of faith, is also the centrepiece of their religion: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

However, mainstream Muslims around the world do not consider the Ahmadis to be their co-religionists. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, or MUIS, issued a fatwa (ruling) in 1969 declaring Mirza Ghulam to be “not only a kafir (unbeliever) who is murtad (a Muslim who has rejected Islam), his teachings are misleading and could lead people astray from the real teachings of Islam”.

The fatwa stands to this day. Consequently, Ahmadis in Singapore cannot be interred in Muslim graves, with a plot of land set aside for them in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. Their marriages cannot be registered with the Registry of Muslim Marriages either, while they are ineligible for assistance from Malay/Muslim Organisations such as Mendaki or MUIS. Ahmadis also do not qualify for Singapore’s official haj (pilgrimmage) quota.

There have also been tensions with the Muslim community. In 1986, The Straits Times reported that then Minister-in-charge of Muslim affairs Ahmad Mattar said the Ahmadis were being provocative by “blatantly” calling their premises a mosque. In 2008, a dozen Ahmadi graves – located about a kilometre away from the Muslim graves – were desecrated, though the perpetrators were not identified.

-- Nicholas Yong Yahoo News Singapore, 2 May 2017