Shifting Focus

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Many people feel like a fish out of water when they leave Ahmadiyya. This is due to the heavy influence and control the organisation has on its followers. The Ahmadiyya organisation intentionally makes the focal point of their followers’ lives to be the ‘Jamaat’. There are always local, regional and national events taking place. Followers are kept busy with meetings and other functions and the social circle of many Ahmadis consists of fellow Ahmadis. In this way, one’s life becomes dominated by the organisation. So it is perfectly normal to feel out of place when one leaves this organisation.

When I left Ahmadiyya, I certainly felt like a fish out of water. I lost my sense of belonging and identity. Previously I had been heavily involved in ‘Jamaat’ functions and participated in various Tabligh and Tarbiyyat activities. I was consciously aware of being different from other Muslims and I felt comfort in being part of a close-knit community, which I later found to be a false bubble.

Finding out the truth about Mirza Ghulam’s actual beliefs and writings was difficult to accept and digest because I had always thought of Ahmadiyya to be the truth and Mirza Ghulam to be from Allah SWT. So naturally, it did take me some time to come to terms with what I had discovered and to get my head around the next steps that I had to take – which was to reject this belief and the man who invented it. Initially I was in a state of denial and I kept telling myself that there must be an explanation for the writings that I had discovered. After several discussions with family members combined with an email response from a Missionary, I realised that there was no justifiable answer to the clearly un-Islamic and unacceptable writings of Mirza Ghulam. Slowly, I began to process this information and it began to register in my mind. I could feel my heart and mind opening and it became easier for me to accept reality once I stopped fighting against my conscience – the conscience that was telling me that all the explanations I was being given were not actually addressing Mirza Ghulam’s writings. The explanations were mere excuses and poor attempts, which instead of making the matter clearer, were only clouding it further.

The first few months were particularly difficult since this was the transitional phase. I felt like I was in a state of limbo – distanced from a belief system that I was accustomed to, yet isolated from the ‘other’ Muslims. I felt neither here nor there. Reflecting back on that time two and a half years on, I remember the anxiety and mixed emotions I was feeling. On the one hand I felt peace at knowing the truth about Mirza Ghulam, and realising that his claim was completely baseless and fabricated – but on the other hand, I felt an empty hole within. A feeling of losing loved ones and having to let go of the ‘familiar’ and walking towards the unknown.

What helped me deal with the difficulties was to shift my focus. Rather than focus on Ahmadiyya, I began to focus on Islam. The more I read about Islam, the more comfort I felt and I started to build my sense of belonging and identity again – but this time my identity was that of a Muslim as opposed to my previous identity of an ‘Ahmadi’.

When an Ahmadi moves from one halqa (area) to another, they have to adjust to the new people and build new relationships. A person may feel apprehensive at first but then with time, he/she becomes accustomed to the new social circle. Comfort comes with knowing that this new set of people share the same beliefs (ie Ahmadiyya) and this will inevitably create a sense of belonging for the person.

Similarly, when one leaves Ahmadiyya, if the focus is shifted to Islam, and finding comfort in shared beliefs, it makes it much easier to embrace the changes and to form a sense of belonging and comfort and to re-build a social circle.

Ultimately our comfort should be based around our connection and relationship with Allah SWT. However, I have found that for many Ahmadis, having a sense of belonging is important after they leave Ahmadiyya. Many are reluctant to leave the organisation because they do not know where to go or which ‘group’ to join. These feelings are a result of growing up in a close-knit community and an organisation that places heavy emphasis on being part of a group. So even though one may reject the beliefs of Mirza Ghulam and his organisation, it may take time to completely remove some of the thoughts and ideas which have been embedded within the person from a young age.

I am sharing my experience to help anyone else who is going through the same journey, with the hope that it may lighten the load, knowing that others have also walked the same steps and come out through the tunnel a lot stronger. Alhamdulillah.

My advice to anyone who is fearful of the unknown after leaving Ahmadiyya, is to have tawaqqul (trust) in Allah SWT. He will Bring you through it insha’Allah as He Promises in the Qur’an;

‘Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear’ (Surah al Baqarah).

Posted by: Liberated