Anti-Ahmadi attacks continue to be promoted in new and creative ways. The government ignores them and their dangers.
by Marco Respinti
“Ahmadis pretend to be observant and devout Muslims, while they are not. They are not even sincere believers. They are indeed mere impostors, who fool and deceive good people of faith.” This is what a video, circulating on WhatsApp, says about the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (AMJ) (“jama’at” meaning “community”) in Pakistan, one of the Muslim countries that discriminate and persecute them. The video is not (yet?) on the Internet, and is now being distributed via WhatsApp groups and broadcasts, as well as promoted as status, as screenshots testify.
The video is accompanied by an invitation in Urdu that has been translated into English for “Bitter Winter” by the International Human Rights Committee (IHRC), a non-profit and non-governmental organization focusing on freedom of religion or belief based in London. It reads: “Why boycott Ahmadis? Get WhatsApp status videos on the end of prophethood and rejection of Ahmadiyya. Send your name, city name, and WhatsApp number to the number provided below and receive them. To join the WhatsApp group for end of prophethood status videos, click on the link provided below.”
For convenience, friends of IHRC uploaded a version of the video itself with English subtitles on Twitter. “Disbelievers all around the world, may they be Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs;
they don’t conceal their disbelief,” the pressing voice-over goes on.
“Neither do they lead the Muslims astray by claiming to follow Islam. But the Qadiani is the only disbeliever in the world who, despite being a disbeliever, claims to be a Muslim and robs the innocent Muslims of their faith. Qadianis are Zindīq. A Zindīq is such a disbeliever who portrays his disbelief in the form of Islam. What a great thing (couplet) the revered Iqbal had said: It is a blemish on the name of knowledge and insight. They are preaching darkness in the name of light.”
“Zindīq” is an Arabic word for the heretic who hold views or follow practices that are contrary to central Islamic dogmas, and “Iqbal” refers to Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), the writer and poet in Urdu language, who was born in what today is Pakistani Punjab. The “end of prophethood” is the Islamic doctrine that there can be no prophet after Muhammad (571–632), a doctrine Ahmadis are accused of violating by proclaiming that their founder was also a prophet (although he was at the same time “a follower of the Holy Prophet,” i.e., of Muhammad).
“This is a revealing example of the campaign of smear and offense that is going on in Pakistan against the Ahmadis,” says to “Bitter Winter” Nasim Malik, Secretary General of IHRC. “For Ahmadis, the cultural and political climate in Pakistan is quite hot. Ahmadis cannot count on any social media platform in the country to speak out their mind, clarify their position, and inform the public. They don’t have any. So, the power of their adversaries multiplies. As to traditional media, they don’t dare to touch the subject. They are afraid of speaking truthfully of Ahmadis. And politicians are intimidated too.”
The video depicts in fact Ahmadis as the worst of all forgers and counterfeiters. They are labelled “kāfir,” the Arabic word for “infidels” and “disbelievers,” and derided as “Qadianis,” and here lies the main danger. These two offenses combined can in fact pave the way to serious crimes.
The latter is a derogatory term derived from the fact that Qadian is the holy city of Ahmadis in the Indian Punjab (the Punjab province having been divided between India and Pakistan since the Partition of India in 1947), the birth and burial place of the founder of the movement, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). The first is an insult theologically targeted. Together they convey the idea that Ahmadis are a group of usurpers of the Muslim name that impugn and abuse what for Muslims is the truth of Islam.
Now, lying on what is perceived to be the ultimate truth on everything and in its name is equal to a manifest blasphemy. For a religious culture such as Islam, which believes (as other religions also do) in the existence of the devil as the ultimate trickster who twists and perverts truth, that particular kind of lying can be constructed as being the supreme expedient of the devil, acting through emissaries.
In a country like Pakistan, where a complex of norms, generally known as “blasphemy laws,” is used by Muslim ultra-fundamentalists and by the authorities themselves to persecute, up to imposing death sentences, religious minorities and political dissidents, being perceived as heterodox emissaries of the devil may entail a dire fate.