COMMENT: What else is persecution? —Salma B Ahmad Courtesy Daily Times
Ahmedis have always been a soft target for persecution. Time and again they have been arrested for greeting someone with an Assalam-o-Alaikum, reciting the kalima or reading the Holy Quran
I took my first breath as an infant in a country whose government and people had already declared me and my community to be heretics. As a child, I did not realise the implications of the draconian laws of 1974 and 1984 that Pakistan, my country, had imposed on us. The state had forbidden us to even profess and defend our beliefs without any reason.
With age as I learned more about our society, I started to observe the injustice done to Ahmedis. I still remember that the subject of Pakistan Studies was a constant obstacle in our path to learn about true history. It was frustrating to read about the efforts of Sir Syed, Allama Iqbal, Liaqat Ali Khan, with no mention of the Ahmediyya Jamaat’s contributions to Pakistan.
The textbooks did not elaborate that it was Mir Dard — an Ahmedi missionary in London — who convinced Jinnah to return to India to restart his campaign for the rights of Muslims back in the 1930s. They did not mention Sir Zafarullah Khan who authored the Lahore resolution, became our country’s foreign minister and got the Kashmir resolution passed at the UN. They did not mention Dr Abdus Salam — a Pakistani scientist — who was our country’s first Nobel Prize winner and a leading physicist of the 20th century. They did not name a host of Ahmedi generals and soldiers who fought gallantly in the army in the 1965 and 1971 wars. Moreover, our Pakistan Studies books had no reference to the anti-Ahmedi laws that were ordained in 1974 and 1984.
As a student, I knew about these injustices because I grew up in an Ahmedi household. Sadly, while my friends knew that I was an Ahmedi, they did not know our role in the establishment and prosperity of Pakistan. They were even oblivious of the anti-Ahmedi laws.
Ahmedis have always been a soft target for persecution. Time and again they have been arrested for greeting someone with an Assalam-o-Alaikum, reciting the kalima or reading the Holy Quran. Their properties and ‘mosques’ have been confiscated and they have been denied high ranks in services. Several Ahmedis from different walks of life have also been murdered brutally as a result of fatwas given by the mullahs and some media persons. The list of persecution goes on.
May 28 was a culmination of the hatred and intolerance that was and is still being fostered by the so-called ulema. These ulema continue to preach hate in their madrassas, even after the Ahmedi massacre, and readily distribute hate literature.
When Nawaz Sharif dared to profess solidarity with the Ahmedis recently, the sentiments of these very ulema got hurt. But then it is not unusual for them to get hurt easily. After all, they are just too sensitive.
As BBC Urdu reported, leaders of 13 religious parties got together to condemn Nawaz Sharif’s statement and demanded from him to clarify his status regarding Ahmedis (message intended: denounce them or face our wrath). People may not know this, but some ulema have asked Muslims to renew their nikah and declare themselves Muslim again by reciting the kalima if they had attended the funerals of the Ahmedis.
Such is the mindset of the ulema who declare themselves to be true Muslims! Yet, these true Muslims violate the Quranic injunction: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256), which clearly allows all of us to practise our respective faiths in peace.
There is ample evidence of the illogical and child-like tantrums of these mullahs to incite hate against Ahmedis. These bigots do not refrain from their fiery rhetoric and wajib-ul-qatal fatwas at every opportunity to promote their vested interests at the expense of Pakistan and Islam.
Our country is facing a critical situation. I hope that unlike 1974 and 1984, this time the government would refrain from appeasing the mullahs and courageously fight the war against hate and intolerance.
The writer is a freelance columnist based in Blacksburg, Virginia