On the 7th of March 2013, the London Metropolitan Islamic Society (ISOC) and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (AMSA) had planned to host a debate on the topic of “Is the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community the Promised Messiah?” between Shaykh Mumtaz Ul Haq (ISOC representative) and Mr. Ibrahim Ikhlaf (AMSA representative). Unfortunately, the event has had to be postponed for various reasons, which are set out in detail below.
The initial proposition for the debate came from the AMSA President to the ISOC President and it was agreed that a debate would be held. To make it clear it was Ahmadi Muslim Students who initiated this debate. Following this, the topic of “What is the True Meaning of ‘Khataman Nabiyeen’ – the ‘Seal of the Prophets’?” was agreed upon verbally after several meetings. At the last minute the topic was changed by the ISOC to “Is the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community the Promised Messiah”, which the AMSA agreed to.
Both AMSA and ISOC presidents signed a contract regarding this topic yet despite this, the ISOC deviated from the signed contract and advertised altogether a third topic on their Facebook page of “Who was the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community?“. The contract also set out the rules for the debate which both parties agreed to.
Additionally, the ISOC insisted that a Sunni or Shia Muslim must chair the debate. It seemed clear to us then, as it does now, that only a non-Muslim, unbiased chair could be selected, for the interest of both parties to be served fairly. At no point did the AMSA ever seek to impose an Ahmadi Muslim chair on the debate. Finally, despite numerous hurdles, both these issues were resolved through the persistence of the London Met AMSA President and through the support of the Union on the day before the debate. Needless to say these hurdles were significantly damaging to the entire organisation process.
The University of London Metropolitan, on realising the scale of the event, had made the decision – the day before the event to refuse all external guests, which had been previously agreed, from entering the debate and to prohibit all filming or live-streaming of the event. The AMSA held many meetings with authorities including senior personnel at the university and police and worked tirelessly to make sure the debate took place.
As both parties had external guests attending and with many wanting to view this via the live stream it was clear to all that this was central to the debate. Despite the efforts of AMSA to compromise further by agreeing to bring even fewer guests to ensure the debate happened, this still was not acceptable. Had AMSA received concerted support and assistance from ISOC to stick to the status quo i.e. the agreed contract and alleviate the concerns of the authorities, perhaps this debate would still have happened.
This event will however be rescheduled for another time God willing, details of which will soon be available, after due deliberation and further planning with all parties involved. The intention of this is that those pure hearted souls searching for the truth who wish to understand the Ahmadiyya Muslim point of view from our own mouths may do so, instead of hearing a false version of our beliefs from the mouths of others.
In short, AMSA has always abided by the original agreement; in fact it even accepted the demands of ISOC relating to the subject matter and other requirements just to ensure this debate would happen. It is AMSA which has been forthcoming and worked tirelessly to ensure this debate takes place but there are limits to everything. A debate has to be conducted in a peaceful and respectful manner. The signed agreement is enclosed so that all can see for themselves. AMSA has nothing to hide and has been transparent and forthcoming; it is we who initiated this debate and we are still eager to see it to its full fruition.
We hope this debate will still take place and that ISOC abides by the contract ISOC signed up to.
London Met AMSA President