Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault and religious and spiritual abuse.
The Ahmadiya sect behind Britain’s biggest and most influential mosque has been hit with rape allegations involving its members. There are claims that the mosque’s “spiritual leader,” Mirza Masroor Ahmad, told the alleged victim that she shouldn’t take her allegations to the police in an attempt to silence her.
The leader, Ahmad, is a British national who has been celebrated by politicians like Theresa May and Boris Johnson. Ahmad has also been nicknamed “the caliph of suburbia” due to the mosque’s sprawling 13,000 person capacity in Morden, South-West London.
Nida Ul Nasser, a British national who lives in London, is the 36-year-old complainant. Ms. Nasser is the granddaughter of the previous leader of the Ahmadi sect, Mirza Tahir Ahmad.
Imam Ahmad is accused of trying to keep Nasser’s allegations under wraps. A 44-minute telephone call from July 2021 between Ahmad and Nasser was posted online.
During the phone call, Ahmad suggests that Nasser drop her allegations of rape and sexual assault, some committed by her own father.
Naser made allegations regarding her father and three other sect members, alleging the abuses took place in London, Surrey, Dorset, and Rabwah in Pakistan. Rabwah is where the group has its spiritual headquarters.
Imam Ahmad told Nasser, “My advice to you will be that you drop this case, even if the rape happened.” Ahmad reasoned that he couldn’t be sure that the assaults happened. He was very dismissive, saying “Even if it has, I am sure those involved would have asked for forgiveness from Allah already.”
Nasser recorded the conversation, making it public in December. Nasser rebuked Ahmad’s instructions, stating, “You are asking me to keep quiet [on sexual abuse]. Although Allah has asked us to hide the sins of our fellow Muslims, He has never asked a victim to remain silent on the oppression/exploitation that he/she has endured.”
Ahmad then engages in gaslighting and spiritual abuse, saying that Nasser needs four witnesses to prove her claims under the Shari’ah. Nasser makes it clear that “no British court will accept his stance.”
The police are currently investigating since an official complaint was filed with them. The assaults are alleged to have occurred between 1987 and 2012; the Metropolitan Police have confirmed their involvement and investigation.
While the Ahmadiyya community has not denied that the audio is authentic, they staunchly object to characterizations that Ahmad tried to discount the allegations.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the group said, “After his conversation with the complainant, His Holiness [Ahmad] referred the matter to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK for immediate action. In turn, AMA UK promptly informed the Metropolitan Police, whose investigation is ongoing. In light of the police involvement, we are unable to comment further.”
religion and abuse
Rape and sexual abuse within the religious community occur in essentially all religions — including in the Muslim community. Anywhere there is a great deal of power, ego, influence, and hierarchical imbalances, there may be abuses — sexual, financial, spiritual, or otherwise.
The abuse of power and influence, veiled by the facade of purity and total piety portrayed in this issue, is yet again another piece of history repeating itself.
During the 14th century, there was a series of unfortunate events that happened in the Medieval Church. Due to greed, ignorance, and corruption of the papacy, clergy members, bishops, and abbots led a luxurious lifestyle paid for by the coffers of the Church.
They gathered most of their wealth from a lucrative business of selling “The Indulgences,” a certificate issued by the pope to a person whose sins have been forgiven.
After a long period of abuse by the clergy, and the disparity in living standards between the papal hierarchy and the commoners who lived as peasants, the Protestant Reformation was born in the 16th century. The movement was sparked by protestors who saw obvious flaws in the papacy. Among those people were Martin Luther and John Calvin.
What’s happening today is surprisingly similar — a religious sect that is so powerful it can suppress any form of a criminal offense. Worse yet, it facilitates religious and spiritual abuse, as well as gaslighting, by citing religious texts to confuse their followers.
The alleged victim, Nida Ul Nasser did the respectful, honourable, and courageous thing by recording the conversation and submitting the audio clip as a piece of evidence to prove her sexual allegations as true and reclaim her power as a Muslim woman living in a patriarchal community.
What Should You Do If You’re the Victim?
It is always encouraged for you to collect as much evidence as you can to prove your side of the story. Don’t delete any messages, save your screenshots, record conversations, save images no matter how filthy, and keep them all in a folder.
However, as much as you’ve collected all of those pieces of evidence, be sure to study the law in your country, as it may be illegal to record conversations without consent where you live.
There are other loopholes you might find, so be wary, be smart, and get educated on the justice system. It’s also better to hire a lawyer and ask people you trust about how you can proceed to reclaim the justice you deserve. There may also be victim advocates who can help you through the process.
Remember, you are never alone. May Allah guide you and grant you the strength to endure such injustice. May Allah grant you safety and peace.
May He grants you patience and perseverance to keep on fighting until you get what you deserve; respect, justice, and dignity, InshaAllah.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual assault, please know there is help:
- 13 Resources for Survivors of Sexual Assault in the UK
- United States: National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800.656.HOPE
- Resources for survivors in the U.S.
- Resources for international organizations