The Ahmadiyya Imbroglio
On May 5 the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government rescinded an earlier decision to include the Ahmadiyya community in the reconstituted National Commission on Minorities.
The move, needless to say, followed in the wake of a much-publicised nationwide outcry. Of this two leitmotifs emerged. In one, the Ahmadiyya, by very nature of their beliefs, are ill-fitted to sit on any representative body. This argument is premised on how the community does not recognise the Second Amendment to the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan and 1984 Ordinance XX. The second type of view describes the Jamaat quite simply as an adversary of both Pakistan and Islam.
The move is by no means unprecedented. The Jamaat has been invited time and again to sit on the commission in its various avatars by earlier governments, albeit discreetly. That the community declined to do so is representative of a two-way quandary that both the State and the Ahmadiyya stand mired in. While the State has sought to crack the imbroglio by first declaring the community non-Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution and later proscribing Ahmadiyya activity, the community (officially) abides by legalities while simultaneously steering clear of any move on its part that may be construed as lending credence to being branded non-Muslim.
Two aspects, however, remain uncontested.
The first of these is that opposition to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s teachings and followers has been robust since the founding of the community. Noted Islamic revivalist Abul A’la Maududi, the pre-eminent leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami, presenting a remedy by having the Ahmadiyya constitutionally declared non-Muslim wrote: “On one hand, this minority group enjoys all privileges which accrue to it by dint of its virtual separation from society, while on the other, it grabs all advantages of being a part of the majority. On one hand, it has cut itself off from Muslims both religiously and socially, has organised itself into a separate community […] On the other hand, it penetrates into Muslim society in the garb of Muslims, swells its numbers by means of subtle propaganda, causes religious and social dissensions among Muslims and grabs a good deal more than its due in various walks of collective life […]”
Poet-Philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal was no less forgiving: “In my opinion only two courses are open […] either frankly to follow the Bahais or to reject their interpretations of the idea of Finality in Islam and to accept the idea with all its implications. Their diplomatic interpretations are dictated merely by a desire to remain within the fold of Islam for obvious political advantages.”
The second aspect is that the Ahmadiyya resolutely desist from self-identifying as a non-Muslim minority community, as mentioned before. Declining an invite for representation on the National Commission for Minorities constitutes but one example. General elections, are another. The Jamaat does not participate in either.
Anti-Ahmadiyya sentiment remains prevalent nationwide despite the introduction of the Second Amendment and Ordinance XX – something that both were ironically promulgated in part to check. So a situation arises where the State fails a “minority” which refuses to recognise itself as such.
As a result, hundreds of thousands – if not millions – come to inhabit an unenviable spot. Neither “majority” nor “minority”, the situation largely renders them helpless in the face of whatever fate throws their way.