The Ahmadiyya movement often referred to as Qadianism was founded in the Muslim village of Qadian in the Punjab in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He claimed to be the mahdi, a figure expected by some Muslims at the end of the world, as well as the Christian messiah an incarnation of the Hindu god Krishnam and more. I had personally read a lot of literature relating to the movement and what strikes me is that according to the Ahmadi doctrine, Jesus feigned death and resurrection and later escaped to india, where he died at the age of 120 and was buried in Kashmir. One of Ahmads major differences with orthodox Islam was his belief that jihad had become un-Islamic, that the struggle against unbelievers must be waged by peaceful methods; an idea capitalized by orthodox mullahs to brand the movement as, British- Sponsored. Ahmed died in 1908, and in 1914 a schism over succession occurred among the Ahmadiyya followers and two groups emerged: one was headed by the son of funder, Ahmad which disowned the prophetic claims of Ghulam Ahmad and established itself in Lahore. The main group, called the Qadiani, after the village of Qadian moved its headquarters to Rabwah in what was then West Pakistan in 1947.
What not lot of people realized that the whole Ahmediya Movement had been very active during the whole of Pakistan Movement. Quaid-e-Azam the founder of Pakistan, accepted the Ahmadis as a Muslim sect, but many of the new countrys leaders and clerics rejected his approval. Jinnah once questioned about the sect said, anyone who calls themselves Muslims are Muslims.
Sardar Shaukat Hayat in his book The Nation that lost its soul (page 147) mentions the following event:
One day, I got a message from Quaid e Azam saying Shaukat, I believe you are going to Batala, which I understand is about five miles from Qadian, please go to Qadian and meet Hadhrat Sahib and request him on my behalf for his blessings and support for Pakistan`s cause. After the meeting (in Batala) I reached Qadian about midnight, I sent a word that I had brought a message from Quaid e Azam. He came down immediately and enquired what were Quaid`s wishes. I conveyed his message for prayer and for his support for Pakistan. He said: Please convey to the Quaid e Azam that we have been praying for his mission from the very beginning. Where the help of his followers is concerned, no Ahmadi will stand against any Muslim Leaguer.
It is note-worthy that Khizar Hyat Khan Tiwana who replaced Sir Sikandar and made problems for Jinnah Sahib and AIML to penetrate into Punjab was convinced by Sir Zafrullah Khan and Mirza Mohammad Ahmad to resign and join the Muslim League after he banned Muslim League Guards in January 1947. Ahmediya Movement pre-partition would provide strong financial and advisory backing to the All India Muslim League and had been instrumental in assisting Pakistani Movement.
It was only after the creation of Pakistan and death of Jinnah in 1948, the fundamentalists Islamic groups agitated against accepting the Ahmadis within the pale of Pakistani Islam. In spire of fundamentalist opposition the ahmadis who are relatively well educated as a group, have been well represented in both the pre-and post independence administrations in Pakistan have held many high government offices. Anti-Ahmedi agitation first exploded in the spring of 1953 in several urban centers in the Punjab, with destruction of Ahmadi property and mosques. The problem started with the Mullahs, most of whom had opposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail but now had becomes the chachas of Pakistan, started asking the state to declare the Ahmaddiya Muslim sect Kafir. Leading amongst them was that bigoted doctor of reaction, the much admired Maulana Abu Ala Maudoodi. Their target was Ch. Zafrullah Khan, a stalwart of the Pakistan Movement and a great patriot who happened to be an Ahmadi. This was when Maudoodi wrote his famous Ahmadi Problem. In 18 days that disgusting book sold close to 60 000 copies before the book was banned by the state. This followed a court case in which Maudoodi was tried for treason and sentenced to death, a sentence that was sadly never carried out. Mumtaz Daultana, the then Chief Minister, also had his role in fanning the flames for his own Machiavellian political reasons. He was forced to resign by the Government of Pakistan and that brought his career to a close.
Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M R Kiyani were appointed to the inquiry commission that investigated this issue. The report they issued after interviewing all sides ran to something like 350 pages. In this the two justices warned against the institution of an Islamic state in Pakistan.
The result of this part of inquiry, however has been anything but satisfactory and if considerable confusion exists in the minds of our ulama on such a simple matter, one can easily imagine what the differences on more complicated matters will be . Keeping view the several different definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the Ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim, but kafirs according to the definitions of everyone else. (Page 215, 218)
In 1974, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Z.A. Bhutto under pressure from religious leaders amended the constitution of Pakistan to declare Ahmadiyah a non-Islamic sect. Later in 1984, the Constitution was amended further (known as the Ordinance XX XX from now on) to add two new sections to the Pakistan Penal Code to provide Prison Terms and Unlimited Fines for any member of Ahmadiyah movement who uses certain words of address to refer to his practices or place of worship (e.g., Azan, Masjid, Salam O Lakum, etc.) or posses himself to be a Muslim. According to many sources, the XX is not only in contrast with the Universal Declaration, but also with the Constitution of Pakistan that guarantees freedom of religion among other freedoms. According to many opinions, XX violates international standards because it penalizes Ahmadis for believing they are Muslim and for worshipping and assembling as they wish. It denies them saying Azan (a call to Islamic prayers). It denies them the terminology of their religion. It provides criminal penalties and fines for protected right and it clearly subjects Ahmadis to persecution because of their belief. Furthermore, the UN adopted a resolution in 1985 rejecting justifications presented by the Government of Pakistan for the limitations imposed on Ahmadis by the XX claiming that Ahmadi beliefs lead to violence. Zia-ul-Haq, the then military ruler of Pakistan, told the author of the Ordinance that Ahmadis offend me because they consider themselves Muslims, the Ordinance my violate human rights but I dont care. Another contribution of Zia ul Haq to the promotion and preservation of Islam was to introduce a Religion Column on official documents, including Passport (somewhat 17th century European practice), so Muslims can easily be identified in a land where Muslims make up only 90 % of the population. So much so that the only, person who received the Nobel Award (in Physics) Dr.Abdus Salam a staunch patriot was disgraced and humiliated by the Pakistani Government.
Ahmadis continue to suffer at the hands of the authorities in Pakistan. The institutionalized discrimination against Ahmadis has now spread to other Muslim countries, most notably Bangladesh and Indonesia, both with very small Ahmadi populations. In addition to state sanctioned persecution, there is a very determined (often violent) movement led by Mullahs in the name of preserving Islam and the Finality of the Prophet Mohammad that seeks to single out and intimidate Ahmadis and accuse them of being collaborators of Jews and Christians and enemies of Islam. These Mullahs have free access to the highest echelons of the state apparatus and they go unchecked and unchallenged by the authorities. Not a single person has been brought to justice for openly violating the rights of Ahmadis, desecrating their places of worship, murdering them in cold blood, and destroying their religious books, including the holy Quran.
Interestingly no-political party even the most liberal of them except Muthida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s Altaf Hussain who voices the concern and right’s originally envisioned and promised by the founder Jinnah, “you are free to go to mosques and your temples” for the right of Ahmediya Movement as equal citizens of Pakistan.
What needs to be done is to expose the state-sanctioned and foreign-sponsored movement to persecute Ahmadis and other religious minorities in Pakistan and elsewhere. Theres one thing to disagree but that should not be used as an excuse to kill people just because he or she has a different belief no religion or low approves that.
By Ali K. Chishti.
Originally published as a Facebook Note here.