Persecution of Ahmadis: Who are the true Muslims in Pakistan anyway?

How does a human get to decide who is a Muslim and who is not?

Imagine if in your country, you had to get a simple errand done like getting your passport renewed. Seems simple enough. Instead you were handed a document to sign where you had to declare that whatever you believed in was incorrect and false.

You were not to call yourself a Muslim, a Christian, etc. If you signed it, only then would you be allowed to renew your passport. If you didn’t, you would be jotted down as an unbeliever. Someone else (a government) here was dictating what you could believe in or not. You were not given the choice to decide for yourself.

I am pretty sure if something like this happened to Muslims in other countries; having to declare what they believe, to be even questionable let alone false; they would have at the very least, broken a few dozen houses to make sure their voices were heard.

And yet this happens to Ahmadis day in day out every single day. They are not allowed to call themselves Muslims. They have to sign a paper declaring their belief to be false. This is not limited to bigotry at just human level. By law, they are not considered Muslims. In most other countries, they are Muslims, just not in Pakistan.


They are not allowed to read the Quran and they are not allowed to do ‘qurbani’ on Eid-ul-Adha. If they are caught they will be jailed and not without the usual ‘Mullah Drama.’ It is not uncommon for a scholar Maulana to stand outside the gates of an Ahmadi’s house screaming “Qadiani ki qurbani, Qadiani ki qurbani” till enough people have gathered. Then the coward will forcefully enter the premises with his ‘sheep’ and drag the Ahmadis to jail.

How did it come to be like this? In 1974, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami began a fierce campaign against Ahmadis in Pakistan based on a disagreement that happened in Rabwah. As always, violence led the way to numerous Ahmadi casualties and destruction of their mosques, homes, and graves.

The Saudi King at the time, King Faisal bin As-Saud then pressured Pakistan to criminalize all religious practices of Ahmadis where they referred to themselves as Muslims or behaved like one. Under this Saudi pressure, as well as to appease the two religious groups, Pakistan’s parliament adopted a new law that declared Ahmadis as non Muslims.

In 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq took it even further and issued the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX which completely forbade Ahmadis to preach or even profess their beliefs. They could not call themselves Muslims like before but now in addition, they could not ‘pose’ as Muslims either. Even their places of worship could not be called a mosque. They could also no longer worship in ones that you could call a mosque.They were not allowed to say As-salamu-alaykum, quote from the Quran, or share religious material.

The combination of Ordinance XX and the 1974 amendment gave full rights to the state to decide who was a Muslim, and who was not in Pakistan.

This law is rigorously practiced by even regular people like you and I; who are out to somehow persecute the Ahmadis whenever given the chance.

Their community’s daily newspaper and monthlies are banned, as well as all 23 volumes of Roohani Khazain. Any production, publication or sale of the above items will result with violators being jailed for 5 years and a fine.

This exposes all the Ahmadis – men, women and children alike to police searches if they so wanted and registration of criminal cases (by anyone) based on the basis of blasphemy. Does that sound right to you?

I am not arguing from religion’s point of view – about what is right or wrong based on scriptures but with over 70 sects in Islam, how does a mere human get to decide who is a Muslim and who is not. We love the idea of acting like keepers of Islam whether we are qualified to or not.

Who are the true Muslims in Pakistan anyway? Everyone keeps calling the other a ‘Kaafir’ but for now let’s go with with the majority - Sunnis; do they have any right to tell another he is a not a good Muslim or a Muslim at all?

What is a good Muslim? One who completes the 5 pillars faithfully but is a bad person otherwise? One who fasts and prays but beats his wife at night?

Or is the true Muslim the one who preaches peace and tolerance like he claims Islam teaches?

How does a sinning man, who himself might be a terrible person and/or Muslim get to tell another person he is not one? Shouldn’t that be left to God?

Even in the unlikely situation when one knows for sure the other is wrong (and boy are we always sure about things like these) who should get the power here to decide who is a Muslim or a non-Muslim?

A mere human? I think not.

Shouldn’t God be the final and ultimate judge?

And alright, if one really thinks Ahmadis are undeserving of being called Muslims, but why would he treat him badly and try to strip him of his dignity? One may belong to the perfect God approved sect, but the minute he degrades a person for simply his beliefs, it is him who needs to take a step back and reconsider his thoughts.

Think about it. Why would someone break the tomb or scratch out “Muslim” from Pakistan’s first Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam’s grave? Should that not give Muslims pride, that “hey, he was a Muslim!” rather than “Oh no, please don’t think he was a Muslim, we really aren’t smart enough to win a Nobel Prize!”

There is a route named after him in recognition of his work in Switzerland while he is not even mentioned in most schoolbooks in Pakistan.  He is the man who predicted the existence of Higgs Boson/God particle in 1970 while in Pakistan he was excommunicated. There are no roads, no universities, no recognition. Why? Only one reason, he was an Ahmadi.

Day in day out, Ahmadis are cursed at. False accusations are made against them in seemingly normal environments like the office, but they can’t take a stand for themselves because they instead will be blamed rather than the other. If someone hits them, they will be the one put behind bars.

The father of Pakistan’s Nuclear bomb, A. Q. Khan came on TV and claimed very proudly, “By the grace of God, no Qadiani has ever been born in my family.” Yes, the man who confessed to TREASON came on TV and had the gall to make a swipe against Ahmadis. 

No one did anything.

What does it matter to people anyway what another practices or not? What difference does it make in their personal lives?

People like Aamir Liaqat have come on shows and egged people on to commit violence against Ahmadis. No one did anything then either.

And it does not even stop there. Even non Ahmadis, who don’t want to be a part of this bigotry, are not spared. Just like them, when renewing their passports or ID cards, they have sign under a declaration that Ahmadis are non Muslims. Chances are if they don’t sign, they will either not get the passport or be declared non Muslims too. The declaration to sign is provided by the Pakistani consulate in countries like Qatar, USA, Canada, Australia etc.

It can be seen in this link.

We are very conscious about our image when it comes to others; try to imagine what the people of that country where you are signing such declarations will think we are like.

This is what daily life is like for an Ahmadi. Imagine if you went through that every single day. If your child was singled out in school, events, everywhere for her belief and was constantly belittled and called a non-believer. Anybody and everybody could come to you say what they wanted, be it an insult but out of fear, you could only bow your head and walk on hoping that the other person tires.

Imagine living a life where you could not speak your mind, discuss your thoughts or share your ideas.

Try to put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to be treated that way?

Everyone should have the right to live with dignity, with equality, and with equal rights.


Shamila Ghyas is the author of the Aoife and Demon series. She also writes for Khabaristan Times, The Nation, Express Tribune, Dawn and other publicationsFind her on Twitter and Facebook

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