An Ahmadi lawyer was told he cannot use the prefix “Syed” because it is reserved for orthodox Muslims.
by Massimo Introvigne
If you are a member of the persecuted Ahmadi religious movement in Pakistan, you are not even free to use your name.
An Ahmadi lawyer was representing other Ahmadis in court in Karachi last week, signing documents with his name and the name he has always used, Syed Ali Ahmad Tariq.
To his surprise, police intervened and told him they have registered a complaint against him for the use of the prefix “Syed” in his name, and that he will likely be prosecuted.
“Syed” means “noble” in Arabic, and is also used to designate a descendant of the prophet Muhammad. The law in Pakistan declares Ahmadi non-Muslims because they believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was both “a disciple of the Prophet” (Muhammad) and a prophet himself. Islam proclaims the “finality of prophethood,” i.e., that there can be no prophet after Muhammad, and Ahmadis are accusing of breaching this doctrine.
As a consequence, Pakistan prohibits that Ahmadis represent themselves as Muslims or use Muslim symbols, including on their mosques and even on their graves.
However, it is the first time that Ahmadis are prevented from using Muslim names or prefixes. Thousands of Ahmadis are named Muhammad, and they may also be in danger if a precedent is established based on this case.