The Contributions of a Persecuted Community: Remembering the Influence of Ahmadis in Pakistan
When I first heard the news, I was immediately heartbroken and sat still. The mosque got taken away? What happened? How? Why? Is everyone okay? These thoughts flooded my mind, as I wondered how this could have happened. On February 18, 2020, an Ahmadi Muslim mosque located in the city of Kasur in the Punjab region of Pakistan was forcibly snatched from the community by a Pakistani mob. The mob stormed the mosque claiming it was now under the ownership of “real” Muslims. When the police were called to help the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community retain their right to worship, the police and civil government sealed the mosque and handed it to the mob. It hurt even more since the mosque is 100 years old, and very sacred.
As an Ahmadi Muslim living in the Pakistani diaspora, I could not help but be distraught. Why is this so? Why is it, that, even after the important role of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, they continue to be persecuted today? Throughout the years, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has given so much to Pakistan and played a critical role in developing the nation. For example, in the beginning of the formation of Pakistan, Sir Zafrullah Khan, an Ahmadi Muslim, was an Indian Federal Court judge and also President of the Indian Muslim League. With his credentials and brilliant mind, he was asked to review the draft of the Lahore Resolution, to which he gave extensive revisions. Thus, he played an integral role in developing a peaceful resolution to the conflicts present during the birth of Pakistan.
Another example of Sir Zafrullah Khan’s contributions is in 1947, when there were arguments over how to divide the region of Punjab. Britain’s Lord Mountbatten created a Boundary Commission, which was led by Sir Radcliffe. Then, Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, called upon Sir Zafrullah Khan as the most capable to solve the issue — and even described his feelings for him as that of a father and son. Sir Zafrullah articulated his arguments in such a way that it was eloquent, yet forceful which garnered voluminous amounts of praise.
The work of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been acknowledged by many, such as by the distinguished Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. He credited them specially mentioning the second Caliph of the community with spearheading the efforts to have “an independent Muslim state in India”. He wrote, “It will be ungrateful if we do not mention (Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad) and his well- disciplined Community who have devoted all their efforts, irrespective of doctrinal differences, towards the welfare of the Muslims. These gentlemen are, on the one hand, taking an active interest in the politics of Muslims and, on the other, energetically engaged in promoting the unity, organization, trade and preaching among Muslims. The time is not far away when the attitude of this organized sect of Islam will provide guidance for the Muslim nation in general and for those persons in particular who are idly sitting under the domes of Bismillah and making boastful and empty claims of service to Islam.”
Another aspect of the community in Pakistan is their dedication to their nation, which can be seen in the commitment of the brothers General Akhtar Hussain Malik and General Abdul Ali Malik. They fiercely defended Pakistan, as did so many others, even when they faced certain death. Air Marshal Abdul Rahim recounted an event where a dangerous mission had been planned, and death was certain. However, among the many officers that were present, just five volunteered to go on the hazardous mission; and all of them were Ahmadi Muslims. Their bravery is astonishing and accurately reflects the beautiful teachings of Islam: “O ye who believe, obey Allah and obey the Prophet and obey those in authority from among you,” is declared in the Holy Quran. This commandment mandates that all Muslims must obey God, then the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him), and those who are in higher authority (in this case, the nation of Pakistan). This was further emphasized by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he said, “Love of one’s country is a part of faith”. Their bravery thus highlights a value common to all Muslims — being dedicated to serving one’s country to protect and defend it. It also illustrates the loyalty of Muslims to their country as well.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also had a much more wide-reaching impact than just on a country level. They helped Pakistan gain prominence on the world stage. The first Foreign Minister of Pakistan was Sir Zafrullah Khan, whose powerful presentation of Pakistan showed in the United Nations. This then led to Pakistan being thrust onto the world stage as a strong country, which can continue to be shown through accepting others of different faiths and condemning persecution.
In addition to the many aspects of service already mentioned, contributions to science have also been made by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Dr. Abdus Salam, a professor, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979. With this award, he made history as the first and only Muslim to win a Nobel Prize — an extraordinary accomplishment, indeed! He made significant contributions to physics, including his “theoretical unification of the two fundamental forces of nature”, “renormalization of meson theories”, “gauge unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions — the unified force is called the “Electroweak” force — a name given to it by Salam; predicted existence of weak neutral currents and W, Z. particles before their experimental discovery;”, to name a few. He also achieved a rare feat that few accomplish. He was a member of both the National Academy of Sciences in the United States as well as its equivalent in Russia. In addition to his scientific achievements, he was also prominent as a world peace advocate and was awarded the Catalonia International Prize in 1990.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been involved in the development and progress of Pakistan every step of the way right from its birth. Thus, this persecution of a community that has contributed so much must be condemned. It is not justifiable to treat this community, nor other communities who do not conform to a Sunni belief, be they Shia, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, or atheist in such a manner. We can only foster peace in Pakistan and the world as a whole when everyone is granted their freedom to expression and faith so that we can all live in a just society.