Ahmedis versus the wrath of Pakistan
July 27, 2012
By Anas Abbas
If you are an Ahmedi and by chance you are in Pakistan, the land of conspiracy theorists, non state actors and religious predators then please prepared to face the following:
- Religious and social oppression
- Discrimination and slander
- Grave evacuations
- Massacres and Illegal detentions
- Brutal tortures and extra-judicial murders
- Pogroms and state-sanctioned religious apartheid
This and more such horrendous persecution against Ahmedis is widely pervasive across Pakistani urban–rural societies, government and social institutions, religious seminaries, electronic/print/social media, university campuses and schools including the English-medium-elitist-privately-owned ones.
The Pakistani state makes it mandatory for every citizen to abuse and defame an Ahmedi. In applying for a passport or an identity card, Pakistanis are required to declare that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (highly revered Ahmedi figure) is an impostor and that his followers are non-Muslims. By law, Ahmedis could easily get a jail term in Pakistan merely by uttering Islamic greeting of Assalamu alaikum (Peace be upon you).
The persecution.org is a comprehensive web portal that documents the Ahmedi persecution. It offers access to up-to-date information, historical analysis and numerous original research reports by Amnesty International, Human rights Commission of Pakistan and Asian Human Rights Commission. Unsurprisingly, it’s banned in Pakistan just like all other websites that cover the dilapidated conditions of the minorities.
In order to understand this war against Ahmedis, it naturally follows that one must consider these four essential questionsbelow:
1) What is it that Ahmedis practise and preach that is so offensive to majority in Pakistan?
2) Why they face such vicious treatment and persecution by Pakistanis?
3) What are their beliefs?
4) Is there any solution to stop this persecution?
The sufferings of Ahmedis have been well documented but what mostly missing are the exact reasons why they face oppression.
Let’s briefly analyse the first three questions which cover beliefs of the Ahmedis and reasons behind their persecution.
There is a global consensus among all Islamic sects that a particular person must adhere to the following two beliefs in order to rightfully claim to be a Muslim.
1) There is no deity but Allah
2) That Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets
Despite all sectarian acrimony and differences, majority of Muslims believe in the prophesied Messiah of Islam (The Mahdi) who will rise before the Day of Judgment and will fight against injustice and tyranny. Every other Islamic sect has different interpretations in regards to the appearance and the future events leading to the inception of Mahdi. For instance most Shia Muslims believe that Mahdi will be none other than the returned Twelfth Imam (highly revered Shia figure) who disappeared and is believed to be in occultation since 872 AD.
Coming back to Ahmadis, they are followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, a nineteenth century reformer who claimed himself as the same Mahdi who has been anxiously awaited by Muslims. They have been divided into two sects, a) Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement; b) Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with minor differences in between them. They also hold Mirza a prophet but mostly in metaphorical sense claiming that new prophets can come after Muhammad as long as they remain subordinate to him and cannot exceed him at all in excellence, alter his teaching, or bring any new religion.
These beliefs of Ahmedis have always attracted censure from mainstream Muslims who view Muhammad as the last prophet and who are yet to reach a consensus on the true identity of upcoming Mahdi. Those who have risen and claimed to be Mahdi throughout Islamic history have either been rejected outright and persecuted by mainstream Islamic sects or they eventually managed to make some impact and founded religious sects (as in the case of the Ahmadiyya movement).
Thus the mainstream Muslims consider Ahmedis as blasphemers and heretics who have no right to identify themselves as Muslims and to associate with any form of Islam.
Another key reason why Ahmedis have been targeted is their interpretation of ‘Jihad’ which differs drastically from the mainstream notion of Muslims, as it predominantly promotes spiritual struggle and pacifism by denouncing armed Jihad and its manifestations in the historical and contemporary world. As a result, Ahmedis have always faced immense repression in societies that are obsessed with militant Jihadi culture such as Pakistan where terrorist organizations and their public sympathisers attack them in order to counter their spiritual version of Jihad and its influence in society.
How can we put an end to this persecution of the Ahmedis? – One might ask, and this brings us to a dissection of the last of the four questions i.e. the solution, if any.
Sure, if politician Imran Khan were to answer this, he would bravely pledge to resolve the issue within 19 days if he were elected!
Nevertheless, the reality is far terrifying, appalling and complex.
The most dominating factor which contributes to this complexity is deeply rooted in religion. The prevalent trend in the Pakistani society of holding up the Quran to convince the masses is being exploited for all its worth. Professionals such as politicians, journalists, bloggers, TV anchors, scientists, doctors, lawyers, physicists, actors, singers, engineers and accountants exploit it to sell their viewpoints. No matter how incredulous an argument may sound, it gains weight as long as it has a popular version of the Pakistani Islamic ingredients embedded in it.
Given this noxious environment which is fanatical, racialist, dictatorial, intolerant and xenophobic to sum it up effectively, it is unfathomable that a platform for the evocation, protection and fortification of the rights of Ahmedis be made. Even if such a platform were to be made, it would be trampled upon by the ferocious calls of the highly influential Pakistani UIemas who would label the movement or its leader as a blasphemer and thus condemn them to exile or ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (punishable by death) as in the case of Salman Taseer.
In days to come the savagery against Ahmedis will continue unabated because of the role of religion and the consequent intolerance in Pakistan. It is politically incorrect to say that “Pakistan is beautiful and its mine”. The truth is that Pakistan is indeed beautiful but mainly for those who thrive in the shade of conspiracy theories and blindly follow the narrative of Pakistani State, Army and non state actors. (Certainly not for the Ahmedhiyya Community)