By Yasser Latif Hamdani
12 Sep, 2011
What I can gather from the Ahmedis now is that, while they consider the treatment meted out to them as unjust and immoral, they are willing to go about their lives if they are allowed to do so with dignity and the freedom to live their lives according to their own rights
As if widespread kidnappings and deteriorating law, order and sanitation were not enough, the Khadim-e-Aala-led Punjab government, on September 7, allowed yet again a large mass of Ulema to gather in and terrorise the Ahmedi community in Rabwah — officially known as Chenab Nagar lest we recognise that those forced non-Muslims may also worship the same god. Surprisingly, and mercifully, the Punjab police managed to maintain law and order despite a rather unflattering reputation. Consider that, if you Google the terms ‘police’ and ‘clueless’ worldwide, the first 10 or so links are related to the Punjab police and its bloopers. Amazingly, the Ahmedis are not allowed to organise their own ijtimaas (gatherings) at any time during the year.
Another interesting fact about Rabwah is that, despite being heavily populated by the Ahmedi community, it has invariably been electing non-Ahmedi legislators for both provincial and federal legislatures since 1985 because the state has systematically disenfranchised them. This is because, from 1985 to 2001, elections were held on the basis of an unfair separate electorate system designed to marginalise minorities, which defeated the purpose of separate electorates in the first place. Ahmedis refused to be recognised separately from Muslims — a position based on their own opposition to the non-Muslim tag forced upon them. In 2002, General Musharraf restored the joint electorate system but the irony is, that while Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, etc, were put on one general list, a supplementary ‘non-Muslim’ list was prepared for the Ahmedis in particular. In other words, only the Ahmedis are, for purposes of voting, non-Muslims. This is absurd on so many levels, not the least of which is the fact that Jinnah, the founding father, had on several occasions refused to give in to the calls by right wing fanatics to expel the Ahmedis from the League. Even the classic consociationalist counterpoise that was the Two Nation Theory prescribed a test of nationality based on cultural and social distinctions between Hindus and Muslims such as names, cultural holidays, language, historical imagination and certainly not personal religious beliefs, which would have served to divide Muslims doctrinally. It was on this basis that the Muslim League laid claim to Qadian as a Muslim holy place both as a counterblast to Nankana Sahib and to argue that Gurdaspur should fall in Pakistan. Incidentally, Gurdaspur — that sob story we are all taught as kids — was Muslim majority only if you counted those Qadianis as Muslims.
However, from what I can gather from the Ahmedis now is that, while they consider the treatment meted out to them as unjust and immoral, they are willing to go about their lives if they are allowed to do so with dignity and the freedom to live their lives according to their own rights. The community as a whole is law abiding and constitutional in its approach. So, for example, when our courts decided that the Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961 did not apply to them, they set up their own family arbitration councils. The state forbids them from calling their places of worship mosques and they oblige. So what then is the fear that our religious priestly class has in allowing them to vote like the rest of us? Their numbers, though significant, are not nearly enough to overturn the 1974 amendment.
The class component in this marginalisation cannot be ignored. As far as I know, Ahmedis, by and large, are part of the middle class. A great number of them are educated but socially conservative. They thus have the same concerns as any other member of the middle class in this country, i.e. the economy, corruption, opportunities and a better life. So who precisely would gain and who would lose if they were to vote in the elections? The mullahs can rest easy because Ahmedis just do not have the numbers to overturn the institutionalised discrimination against them. They do have the numbers however to upset the biradari and feudal politics in places like Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The idea of Ahmedis voting scares our entrenched status quo politicians who balk at any mention of the middle class, corruption, justice, etc.
Many Ahmedis I have spoken to admire Imran Khan as an honest and fair man. His stated agenda of a fair and just society based on justice appeals to them and many of them, if they were free to vote, would vote for him. Consider: according to the BBC, in the 2002 elections, the Ahmedis of voting age in Pakistan numbered between two and three million, when the total number of votes then was less than 30 million -you do the math. Ahmedis can afford to remain aloof from the electoral process but can Pakistan afford to keep them out?
The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore.
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore
"In 2002, General Musharraf restored the joint electorate system but the irony is, that while Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, etc, were put on one general list, a supplementary ‘non-Muslim’ list was prepared for the Ahmedis in particular. In other words, only the Ahmedis are, for purposes of voting, non-Muslims."
This is both shameful and ridiculous. When will sanity be restored to Pakistan? When will they get over their despicable Ahmadi-bashing?
In an audaciously dramatic assumption of divine authority, the Pakistan parliament back in 1974 passed a constitution amendment redefining a Muslim by adding the Qur’anic pronouncement on our Prophet’s status as the seal of Prophets – or the last among the Prophets (33:40). Having done, that they inferred that since the Ahmadis did not subscribe to this additional tenet of faith, they lose their religious identity as Muslims!
This raises a fundamental question: Can a core tenet of faith, such as definition of a ‘muslim’ be altered by consensus (shura)? Here is a list of the Qur’anic pronouncements with logical commentaries that answer this question loud and clear.
“…(God’s reward is) for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord (42:36), and who avoid grave sins and abominations and forgive (even) when they are angered (42:37), who respond to their Lord, keep up prayer, (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation (shura), and spend (in charity) of what We have given them” (42:38).
The prohibition of grave sins and abominable deeds in the verse 42:37 limits the role of mutual consultation or consensus: it cannot justify a grave sin such as questioning one of the fundamental dicta of the Qur’an. Now let us look at these verses:
“Indeed! Whoever commits (asslama) his whole being [lit., face] to God, and does good deeds - will get his reward from his Lord. There will be no fear upon them nor shall they grieve.” (2:112).
“And who can be better in religion (din) than the one who orients (asslama) his whole being [Lit., face] to God, and does good deeds, and follows the way of Abraham, the upright one, and God took Abraham as a friend” (4:125).
“And who is finer in speech than the one who invites to God, does good deeds and says: ‘I am of those who submit to God (muslimun)’” (41:33).
These verses demonstrate that in Qur’anic perspective, anyone who submits to, or orients himself/herself to One God – regardless of religion, and does good deeds is a Muslim. Some of the Qur’anic verses categorically refer to the posterity and by inference, the followers of the past Prophets as muslimun.
“When his Lord said to him (Abraham), ‘Submit (aslim)’, he said, ‘I submit (aslamtu) to the Lord of the worlds’. Abraham enjoined his sons to do so, as did Jacob: ‘O my sons, God has chosen the religion (din) for you; so you should not die unless you have submitted (muslimun). Were you witnesses when death came to Jacob? He said to his sons, ‘What will you serve after I am gone?’ They said, ‘We will serve your God; the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac - the One God; and to Him we have truly submitted (muslimun)’” (2:131-133).
“They say, become Jews or Christians and you will be guided. You say, ‘(Ours is) the creed of Abraham, who was truly devoted to God, and did not associate anything with Him’ (2:135). You say, ‘We believe in God, and in what was revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isac, Jacob, and the Tribes and what is given to Moses and Jesus and to the Prophets from their Lord, and We make no distinction between any of them and we have truly submitted (muslimun)’” (2:136). [See also 3:52, 3:64, 3:80, 3:83, 28:53]
Thus the said Qur’anic amendment purports to add a clause or alter the Quranic definition of a ‘Muslim’ in both its generic and specific sense.
In the course of the revelation (610-632), there were moments when the Quraysh put enormous pressure on the Prophet to alter some wordings or contents of the revelation. This is how God spoke to the Prophet on the matter:
“If he [Muhammad] attributed to Us anything other than what is said (ba‘ad al aqawil) (69:44), We would seize him by the right hand (45), then We would sever his aorta (46) and none of you could prevent it” (69:47).
On the matter of its textual integrity, the Qur’an declares:
“The Words of your Lord will be fulfilled truthfully and justly: none can change His Words, for He is All-Knowing and Aware” (6:115).
“Surely We have sent down this Reminder, and surely. We will protect (preserve) it” (15:9). [See also verses 6:34, 18:27, 41:42.]
Conclusion: The author may only say, that were ‘Allama Iqbal to come alive today, he may readily recall this poetic imagery of his epic poem, ‘taswire dard’: ‘zamin kiya asmaan bhi teri kajbini pe rota hai - ghathab hai satre Qur’an ko chalipa kar diya too nein’ [What to speak of this world, even the heavens cry at the crookedness of your sight – It is a curse that you have distorted the lines of the Qur’an.]
Given the growing violence and sectarian fragmentation in Islam, it is high time for its Parliament to revoke the clause redefining a Muslim, before it may be forced into it by the Brother or historical realities. The writer, of course, is not an Ahmadi/ qadyani, but he does not have the audacity to think of them as a non-Muslim.