On July 6, Muslims throughout the country celebrated Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
It is a joyous and busy day for mosques around the country.
Men, women and children wear new clothes, symbolising a new spiritual beginning.
They adorn their homes with lights and decorations and reflect on their journey during the holy month.
For the local Ahmadiyya community that flocked to the Bait-ul-Masroor Mosque in Stockleigh, it was an especially joyous occasion, as they celebrated Eid openly, without fear of persecution.
Media coordinator Zain Al Abideen explained that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is an international revival movement within Islam that spans over 206 countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Australia.
“Founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the community has tens of millions of members worldwide," he said.
But in a number of countries throughout the world, Ahmadis are persecuted as a religious minority and subjected to systematic, and many times state-sanctioned oppression.
As the only Islamic organisation to believe that the prophesied Messiah has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who lived from 1835 to 1908, the Ahmadiyya community and its reformatory nature has been widely rejected by mainstream Muslim clergy.
Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Indonesia Researcher says the Ahmadiyya community in Indonesia has faced harassment and discrimination for decades.
“Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of intimidation and violence against Ahmadiyya by hardline Islamist groups,” he said.
“These have included mob violence and burnings of Ahmadiyya places of worship and homes, at times leading to their long-term displacement.”
In Pakistan the religious establishment branded the Ahmadiyya community heretical in nature, and in 1974 the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan declared that Ahmadis were not Muslims.
In 1984 Ahmadis in Pakistan were further deprived of their religious rights when President Ziaul Haq promulgated the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX.
Under its provisions, Ahmadis could be imprisoned for three years and fined an arbitrary amount for ordinary expression of their faith.
Amnesty International reports that the promulgation of Ordinance XX in 1984 contributed to a climate whereby members of the Ahmadiyya community became more vulnerable to various forms of attack and harassment.
Mr Al-Abideen said thousands of innocent Ahmadis have endured persecution and imprisonment since the introduction of this ordinance.
“In 1998, for instance, Rabwah, a city in Pakistan and the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was charged along with its entire 50,000 Ahmadiyya population with a First Incident Report under faith related, blasphemy laws,” he said.
A large percentage of members of the Bait-ul-Masroor Mosque had, prior to settling in Australia, been subject to persecution and harassment in Pakistan.
The mosque was built in 2013 and the local Ahmadiyya community has become renowned for consistently expressing their loyalty and gratitude to Australia - wherein they are able to practice their religion with freedom - by hosting interfaith symposiums, community BBQs and clean-up campaigns as well as blood donation drives.
The Australian Ahmadiyya community is annually one of the biggest participants in the national “Clean Up Australia Day” campaign.
On Australia day this year the mosque hosted a celebration for the entire community, and distributed leaflets that communicated their official ethos of “Love for all, hatred for none” which was officiated by the third Ahmadi Khalifa.
Mr Al-Abideen said peace, loyalty to one’s country of residence and service to humanity are regarded by Ahmadiyya Muslims as fundamental principles of Islam.
"The founder of the community, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, over a 100 years ago, in his book British Government and Jihad, made it clear that Islam desires freedom of religion and does not allow terrorism in any form, for any reason,” he said.
“He divested current Islamic understanding of fanatical beliefs and practices by vigorously championing Islam’s true and essential teachings of peace and the unity of mankind.”
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