We must always keep in mind that being a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a choice, and it is for a purpose. As long as a person continues to make the choice of remaining in the Community, he must naturally abide by the rules of the Community. Hudur aba said:
During(Address to UK Jalsa, Sep 8, 2012)
bai‘atwe pledge that we will act upon every good decision [of the Khalifah] and we also repent. Thus, on the one hand, every Ahmadi makes this declaration repeatedly, be it man, woman, youth or child, but [on the other] then there is also this objection that since there should be no compulsion in religion then why this enforcement? Why are some restrictions carried out?
After joining Islam and after accepting Ahmadiyyat and true Islam it cannot be an excuse that as there is no compulsion in religion, you will do as we please. This is a very erroneous thought. An ordinary worldly organization, or governments, enforce their rules and regulations and do so strictly. They announce that if these are not followed, then organizations or clubs expel people from their membership. Countries punish according to their law or a person, who does not follow its laws, leaves the country. Islam which is a complete code of life, which encompasses and covers every aspect of life, has a greater right to enforce its laws.
It is the beauty of Islam that if someone says that he does not want to stay under these restrictions, then Islam says that you have the freedom to leave the boundaries of Islam. Or if you wish to stay within the fold of Islam then
in any casethe established discipline has to be adhered to.
The purpose of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is to establish Islamic values in the world. As members of the Community, this is our individual responsibility as well. However, when an Ahmadi acts against the teachings of Islam, in such cases, Jama‘at may take some disciplinary action. When such people face disciplinary action, they sometimes feel as though the Community is forcing them to behave a certain way. However, this policy is no different from what we find in any other community. For example, soccer clubs set membership requirements like a practice regiment, uniform standard, and even behavior guidelines on and off the field. In fact, players are sometimes expelled from their team for behavioral indiscretions done off the field that have no effect on their skill on the field. If a person is removed from a club for going against its rules, no one thinks that he is being forced to behave a certain way. Similarly, those who act against the teachings of Islam sometimes face disciplinary action. This is a right that any community has. Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra said:
For us, too, it is necessary that we have recourse to this method. When a man comes to us and takes(Real Revolution, p. 177)
bai‘atat our hand, surrendering himself to our influence and guidance, we automatically acquire the right to apply all lawful pressure to bring him up to the mark, if he showed laxity in his endeavourto conform to the aims and requirements of the Movement. This right remains vested in us as long as he continues to claim he is a part of us,since his weaknesses and transgressions bring the Movement into disrepute. For a man who did not approve of the application of such a pressureagainst him, the only course would be either to remove the need for it, by working a change in himself,or to leave the Movement.
We sometimes forget that being a member of the Community is for a very specific purpose, and it is a choice and a privilege. When we begin looking at the community as more of a social club than a religious organization, we falter.
This is why, if we choose to be members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, we are required to establish the teachings of Islam in our lives as far as we can. If an Ahmadi publicly acts against the purpose of the Community, he must be reprimanded, otherwise, the very purpose of the existence of the Community is defeated. For example, criminal cases are settled according to US law, but if a civil case arises between two Ahmadis, the US government allows us to settle according to Islamic law. If we prefer some other civil court over the Islamic civil court established in the Community, in practice, we publicly undermine the importance of the teachings of Islam and go against the purpose of the Community. If we choose to have drinking and dancing in a function we host, we publicly act against the teachings of Islam.
Ahmadis are never reprimanded for disbelief; they are only reprimanded for hypocrisy. If a person does not believe in Islam or does not want to be a member of the Jama‘at, he is free to leave the community and there are no consequences. However, if a person disbelieves while continuing to give false allegiance to the Khalifah because he is too spineless to be straightforward and leave, that is hypocrisy. If his hypocrisy becomes apparent, such a person is reprimanded for undermining the community from within. It is not appropriate for members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to continue maintaining social relationships with such people. Hudur aba said:
Those who are punished, people invite them to gatherings and functions, whereas they should not be invited at all. It is one thing to speak with them, but to have a social connection with them is another. Such people are not excommunicated, but it is necessary that there be an expression of disgust, otherwise, they cannot realize their mistake. They are not only prevented from giving(Fiqhi Masa’il, #63)
chandah[donations]; rather, we should abstain from every type of social connection so that they regret what they have done and repent and pray for forgiveness.
Hudur aba said:
Those family members who have sittings with such people or call them to their gatherings, or who sometimes bring them close and eat with them, and then they make excuses that they had no choice, or they sometimes make the excuse that such a person came at the demise of a family member so they ate together, such people are also becoming like these wrongdoers. They have no respect for the Nizam-e-Jama‘at [Organization of the Jama‘at]. They have no respect for the decisions of the Khalifah of the time. Even if it is done once and if they sit with such a person who has been punished, by not giving importance to punishments from the Jama‘at, which is given for the purpose of social pressure, it means that with their actions they are giving the message that although there is a punishment, but it does not matter. They are giving the message that their normal relationship with them is still there. The exception is of such a person’s wife, children, or parents, but their relationship should be for the purpose of making the person who has been punished understand. Since they are closely related, there is more pain in them, so they must explain with pain in their heart and they must pray for them. Aside from this, if a person keeps a relationship with a person who is under punishment from the Jama‘at, then according to me he does not feel any value of the Nizam-e-Jama‘at. Officeholders should be especially careful about this.(Friday Sermon, Sept 2, 2005, p. 11)
Also, we must remember that when someone faces disciplinary action from the community, his religious freedom is not impeded on. An Ahmadi who faces disciplinary action from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is still an Ahmadi, and no human can deprive them of their right to be an Ahmadi. They may simply no longer be part of the system of the Community. If that person repents, he can request the Khalifah to be readmitted into the community.
Ultimately, we must always remember that being a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is for a purpose, and Hudur aba helps us towards that purpose with his example, advise, and when necessary, with punishment, but all are done out of love.