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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bigotry: How not to define your identity!

Every Pakistani holding a passport knows where to Sign to make sure they are confirmed as Muslims. A majority of them signs it without a second thought. Some probably sign it with a smile, as it reminds them of how correct their anti-ahmadi laws are. Only a handful may object to signing this. One poor fellow posted a scanned copy of his signed declaration on the Internet and expressed his disgust at having to do it.

Pakistani Passport Declaration: Courtesy

But someone picked it up and wrote a response here. According to this blog post, this declaration on the passport form is essential to defend Islamic identity of Pakistanis. For those who don't know, every one wishing to identify themselves as a Muslim must sign the section where they have to declare the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as an impostor. Please don't ask why a person's faith is recorded on the Passport in the first place. For all practical purposes, a person's faith should have no bearing on how they are treated.

The blog post in question then goes to great lengths to create an argument in favour of this declaration. In short, the argument is based on a fictional scenario where a person encounters a 'clone' at his workplace who is pretending to be him. Of course a criminal offence if it happens in real life, as the assumption here is that the 'clone' knows of his own reality and is pretending to be someone else.

Here is my response that I posted on the blog:

This article presents a flawed argument. You are assuming here that Ahmadis are pretending to be Muslims while knowing fully well that their faith is not Islam.
This assumption is totally in line with the Mullah driven narrative that Ahmadiyyat is actually a conspiracy to destroy Muslims from within. British, Zionists and other anti-Islam forces fund and support them. Ahmadis attract adherents by paying them cash sums or promising them other lucerative rewards. Hence it is not only plausible but very much a FACT, that Ahmadis are hijacking the name of Islam and its rituals to confuse other Muslims.

The writer has to look through the history of Ahmadiyyat and find the evidence to support this argument. For example, is there a protocol or a secret little book telling Ahmadis on how to hijack Islam and harm it? Is there a list of do's and don'ts on how best to pretend to be a Muslim? Finally, is there any evidence that such a deliberate lie can be upheld by Millions, in public and in private under the ever scrutinizing eyes of their enemies. i.e., has there been any Ahmadi renegade spilling the beans on what goes on behind closed doors? Any testimony to prove that Ahmadis do not believe in Allah or any of His Prophets or His Books?

I find it totally bizarre that the author has gone to such lengths to defend a law which negates everything Islam has to offer to the world: Freedom of thought, speech and belief. Every citizen a country has the right to self-respect and dignity but this one form takes this right away from ALL Pakistanis. From Ahmadis it usurps the right not to be slandered against and ridiculed. And from non-Ahmadis it takes away the right of being civilized. So, by upholding this idiotic law, the Government of Pakistan is trampling on the rights of all of us. You and me alike.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

QeRN: An Identity crisis made worse

All of us want to be associated with a positive cause, a constructive way of life which has something to offer to the world. That is why many of us volunteer for charities, take active part in community life: Many of us go to a Mosque or Church with the same aim in mind. Although religious faith offers more than just a meaningful worldly life, many believers are primarily motivated by the lifestyle a certain faith offers.

Islam is no exception in this respect. But as Quran and Sunnah state that if one leads a righteous life in this world, they will attain spiritual exaltation before they meet their Maker; thus fulfilling the grand purpose of their creation.

QeRN Academy Website: Confusing the Muslim identity further?

My sympathies go to the people running the 'QeRN' project. They are indeed caught between a rock and a hard place. At one hand they believe themselves to be good Muslims, worthy of this recognition by the West. And at the other hand they are orthodox enough to hate and ridicule the Ahmadiyya Muslims to get into the good books of their more conservative brethren.  QeRN is a UK registered non-profit organization. Their aims are stated to highlight the modern day issues facing the 'Muslim Identity'.

Who knows what their source of funding is? But scrolling through the material they have posted, there is plenty of strong anti-Ahmadiyya content on this website, making 'Ahmadiyya' the most used label/tag by the authors. And it is well known that such organizations are funded by the same people who fund many other militant extremists around the Islamic world.

I could not find any clear mission statement or information about the 'QeRN Academy' on the website, but there is plenty of legal material, terms of use etc to give the visitor an impression of the paranoid nature of the project.

Apart from the Ahmadi-Islamophobia, one can see some individual articles showing strong affiliation of the writers with Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuwwat, the international network of hard line clerics spreading hate speech against the Ahmadi Muslims all around the world.

A list of topics discussed at QeRN Website. No marks for guessing the real purpose of the 'Project'.

Even their seemingly neutral articles can be linked to the sinister organization. For example, MP Sadiq Khan features in one of the entries attending a Hajj exhibition. MP Khan was involved in a controversy during his election campaign when his supporters and the shady 'Tooting Islamic Center' were involved in hate speech against the local Ahmadiyya community. 

While the QeRN author(s) are trying to define and defend the modern Muslim identity in the modern world, their focus is squarely on the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The writer shamelessly criticizes media reports of the Ahmadiyya persecution as biased. According to them Ahmadi Mosques were attacked for the same reason Taliban attacked other military and paramilitary targets across Pakistan. They cannot see that Ahmadis are not victims of terrorism when they are target-killed almost on a weekly basis all over Pakistan. For QeRN, this is only innocent terrorism- God forbid if there was any hint of religious motive behind them!

While the world watched in horror how a Deobandi-Wahabi inspired militant outfit sent suicide bombers to murder Ahmadi worshippers, many  Pakistanis was more concerned with the use of the words 'Mosque' and 'Friday prayers' by some initial media reports. Days after the incident when a private TV news show dared to invite for the first time in history, an Ahmadi leader to tell the world about the event, Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Mullahs had to be invited very soon to tell the world about the Ahmadiyya heresy. The 'Majlis' has deep roots in Deobandi-Wahabi ideology practiced by the Taliban. The banned militant groups who openly kill Ahmadis and Shias in Pakistan have known, verified and confirmed links with Deobandi seminaries. The same seminaries which have issued fatwas of death against Ahmadis on numerous occasions.

So it surprises me that an 'Academy' is trying to define for Western Muslims an identity borrowed from the hate-filled Madrassah's of Pakistan.  One of the QeRN writers (or the same one perhaps) could not hide their despair at the demise of one Osama bin Laden. According to the writer

but most of us could not help, from time to time, from identifying with the angst he (bin Laden sic.) felt for the pride and self-respect of the Muslim Ummah that he referred to in his speeches. So, as a fellow Muslim, I will not judge him here in obituary, but I can say at the death of a Muslim — inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’oon – to Allah we belong and to him we return.

This project is unfortunately very misleading for its mainstream Muslim readers. It gives them a false sense of security that everything is alright with the Islamic world. There is no crisis of leadership. Urban Pakistan is a Utopia for Christians. Extremists only exist as a reaction to the Wetern invasion of their lands. And Ahmadis are surely kafirs, trying to hijack the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims by putting up posters on buses. And what do the posters say?

 Love for All, Hatred for None.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The 46th annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, UK took place between 7-9 of September, 2012. It happens every summer. Every year, for three days around 30,000 delegates converge in a large Hampshire farm, called Hadeeqat-ul-Mahdi. These delegates comprised of more than 80 nationalities this year, but the largest contingent to this Jalsa comes from Pakistan. Majority of British Ahmadis are also of Pakistani origin most of whom have immigrated not for economic reasons, but to escape persecution in Pakistan.

46th Jalsa Salana UK, which is held near Alton, Hampshire.

Around 30,000 men, women and children from 88 different countries were in attendance this year
This year's Jalsa Salana went as planned. There were speeches from scholars, messages from the PM and the leader of the opposition, a couple of MPs also addressed the gathering. But people come to the Jalsa to listen to something much more important than any of these speakers. They make the journey to be in the presence of their spiritual guide, the Khalifatul Masih V, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. When he arrives at the main Marquee the whole place erupts for a few minutes in slogans from his devoted followers. When he takes his seat, the whole crowd falls silent, eagerly waiting for him to speak. Their attention never wanes, their sights fixed at the stage in devotion and respect. 'They love their Khalifa' is an observation often heard by external visitors to the Jalsa.

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V

This year saw another expression of this love. Every time the Khalifatul Masih started to speak, #JalsaUK started to trend on Twitter in Pakistan. For the first two days, it trended for a few hours. Also followed by Germany and Canada. On the third day, #JalsaUK was trending in Pakistan for the whole afternoon. And it stayed at number 2 spot for almost the whole evening. Scrolling through the messages you could read the desperate longing in the messages. A longing to be at the Jalsa Salana; a sense of loss and helplessness. Something that Pakistani Ahmadis have felt constantly after the promulgation of draconian Ordinance XX in 1984 by General Zia, which forced the Khalifatul Masih IV to leave the country. In 1983, close to 250,000 had attended the Jalsa Salana at Rabwah. No Jalsa Salana has been held there since then. It has been banned under the law in addition to many other basic human rights for Ahmadis. 

The generation of Ahmadis tweeting their messages at this Jalsa has not seen a Jalsa Salana. They have only heard of its stories through their parents and elders. When they see their Khalifa meeting their fellow Ahmadis in Africa, North America and Europe in their annual conventions, the feeling of being persecuted multiplies manifolds.

#JalsaUK trending at #7 in Pakistan, 9-Sep-2012. It went upto #2 spot later.

It is important to understand that for Ahmadis, their lives revolve around the institution of Khilafat. The spiritual leadership which has continued after the demise of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the community. Khilafat is nothing new in Islam. Every Muslim knows how important it is for their guidance and unity of the'Ummah'. But that Khilafat was lost long time ago, and ever since all Muslims await the day when Mahdi or Messiah will come to re-establish it. Some are even trying now to elect a Khalifa who can be a central religious and political authority for Muslims all around the world. But for Ahmadis, their Khilafat is already here, because Mahdi and Messiah has already come.

A view of Jalsa Salana in Rabwah, 1983. More than 250,000 people attended.
This twitter trend which was seen on Jalsa days was just another sign of how deeply Ahmadis of Pakistan are attached to the institution of Khilafat. Ahmadis do not partake in street protests or violence and effigy burning to  vent their frustrations. But #JalsaUK was perhaps also a protest of sorts. A protest to remind the 2 million twitter users of Pakistan that a UK based event of little public interest should not be trending in their country. It should have been #JalsaRabwah, where people from all over the world flocked before 1984. Trains and buses laden with the faithful arrived in Rabwah in late December to enjoy the hospitality of its residents. For them, it was a sign of hope for Pakistan which had just suffered yet another coup and its society was to change for the worst.

Banning the Jalsa in Pakistan and making the lives of Ahmadis unbearable is considered as achievement by many in Pakistan.Something that even the ex-Prime Minister celebrated this year. But when the educated, social media savy Pakistanis saw #JalsaUK trend in Pakistan, they did not even bother to take any notice or find its cause. Could it be that one Rao Abdul Ghaffar, an Ahmadi teacher was killed in Karachi, or another Ahmadi gravely wounded in Sindh? Or was it the defacing of many graves in Punjab during the same week? Was it because their mosques are being modified and whitewashed to make sure they do not look like mosques anymore?

When it comes to individual events of brutality and persecution like above, some individual liberals will raise their voice and condemn it. But when it comes to a collective expression of feelings like this, all these liberals kept silent. A couple of them when goaded by Ahmadis on twitter were callous enough to respond negatively. Callousness and lack of respect could explain such behaviour, but more importantly its a lesson for young Ahmadis in Pakistan. No one in Pakistan wants to know how it actually feels to be an Ahmadi in such a country. A country ravaged by religious bigotry, brought to its knees by the same people who persecute Ahmadis, but still a country which fails to feel your pain.

And unless they feel your pain, they will not undo the injustice that has been done to you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Peer-e-Kamil: An Urdu Novel with Hate Speech

Someone on twitter informed me that apparently there is an Urdu novel written by Umaira Ahmad in which the story revolves around the conversion of the main character from Ahmadiyya “faith” to Islam.

Title of Peer-e-Kamil, a novel by Umaira Ahmad

So I searched the internet and found the book called “Peer-e-Kamil” (The perfect teacher). After going through the ordeal of reading it, I regret to inform you that it is rubbish!

OK, the review is over.

But keep reading...

Below I write a brief synopsis of the religious content of the novel. It will show how bigoted, dishonest and unprofessional Ms. Ahmad has been while producing this garbage. And yes, even such an exalted title to the book cannot change this fact.

Story: Imama is an Ahmadi girl studying in a medical college. She abandons her wrong faith to become Muslim. Finds that there more to life than just being alive; discovers the love of Holy Prophet (saw); finds her soul-mate who was a way-ward, tortured, drug-addled genius turned saint. The end.

But first, something about the author; Ms. Ahmad is a young writer. Seemingly middles class , holding a Masters in English literature, with the penchant of writing romance fiction,; the kind common in women’s monthly digests. She has apparently written TV serials and is very popular amongst the female readership of Urdu fiction. And yes, she has taught in a reputable school in Sialkot attended by the progeny of the rich and the influential of Pakistan.

Umaira Ahmad -From her Facebook page

In chapter one, Imama is told by her friend that her family are Ahmadis because they are given wealth and economic progression as a reward from their community. Imama offers no refutation, so it must be true. In this chapter and the rest, I could not find any evidence that the author had made any effort to check if Ahmadis and Ahmadi families in Pakistan think and speak the way her characters do. There are no mentions of the words 'Ahmadiyyat', 'Promised Messiah' and her Ahmadi characters are made to speak the language of the hushed non-ahmadi conversations. The kind you can overhear in the corridors of universities when they discuss their Ahmadi colleagues. The pardah-observing, seemingly religious Ahmadis aren't described as people who can pray five times a day or recite Quran or keep fasts. Something that we are constantly reminded of when our so-called true Muslim characters are mentioned.

In chapter two, in her earliest confrontation with her friends in high school, Imama refers to her faith as Islam, but then also refers to the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat as a new prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Her parents seem to hold the same belief. After having a heated discussing at school with her ‘Syed’ friends in which she was given a long lecture about the finality of Prophethood and her shady family history Imama goes home with many questions in her mind. Her father confirms that he took money from the community which was earned in overseas missions and through NGOs. He is also considerate enough to share the ‘Qadiani’ conspiracy of overtaking the country one day and returning the favour to the kafirs who declared them kafirs.

Anti-Ahmadi Hate Posters common in all major towns of Pakistan. This novel is conveying the same message; but in a longer version.  

Chapter two bares the real mentality of the author who knows nothing about the Ahmadiyya community. She repeats what is already talked about in the drawing rooms of the social circles she frequents. i.e., they (Qadianis) are rich because they are given wealth by their community, their women are well educated, they are brainwashed and know nothing about their literature etc.

Imama’s character is also subjected to inquisitions in her house where frequent references are made to ‘our prophet’. Also, she purchases a Tafsir of Quran written by some big scholar which when discovered by her family causes a huge stir. Her research clearly proves that the copy of the Quran she has been reading all her life has been amended to fit her religious beliefs. Her faith already in tatters, she debates with her brother and father with such conviction that can only be found in anti-ahmadiyya propaganda. She now believes that ‘their prophet’ was an impostor, who desecrated Islam by his claims of being Jesus re-incarnate. Her ‘firqa’ believed that foul language could be used because one can get angry sometimes.

Ahmadiyya Beliefs

Back at university, she has now made a new friend who belongs to the student wing of a religious outfit. She is invited to their meetings and given a lecture on khatm-e-nabuwwat. This apparently was enough for her complete conversion, and our heroine becomes a bona fide Muslim by reciting the Kalma, as if for the first time in her life.

Truth about the Ahmadi Kalima - Video Courtesy thehumaityrules

Imama’s spiritual transition is not yet over. Imagine her luck when she overhears the moving poetry of a well known ‘naat’ which acquaints her with the ‘ishq’e’Rusool (saw)’ for the first time.

In the next few chapters, the author turns to her bread and butter stuff to fill out some pages. The story line could have been lifted out of any standard (rather sub-standard) TV drama script. Will A marry B while breaking the heart of C; and will their parents agree or disagree etc etc. Although scattered within these pages are the author’s impressions of the evils western culture and the experiences of born-again Muslims which could not have been more superficial and crass. Her hero get educated at Yale and finds high flying jobs as only the privileged imaginary characters can. Such fodder is plenty to make her readership imagine and yearn for the joys of wealth and adventure. But her readers need to feel pious as well, hence the religious zeal of her character grows by each page.

Enter the Sufi-Cleric-Professor; Ms. Ahmed’s Wasif Ali Wasif equivalent. One of those religious mentors who find easy following amongst the guilty-filthy-rich of Lahore and Islamabad. The type right out of a Qurdrutullah Shahab or Zaid Hamid fantasy.

By chapter seven, our author has done justice to the soap-opera stuff. Her Sufi needs to deliver the final blow to her hero to make him understand who the Rahbar-e-Kamil is? His words are standard Sufi material which should work if applied as specified. The soul-mates are still apart, driven by the uncertain paths they have chosen. But they are destined to meet; out of all places in the Holiest of the Holy, the Kaa’ba. Her readers have no way to escape. The sermons, the symbology, the coincidence of their crossing paths- It must be fate!

WARNING: This video may wash your brain (of all misconceptions)

But wait. There is a twist. Ms Ahmed kills the hero, and then brings him back. Our saintly professor becomes the guardian of the converted Muslimah to make sure her dastardly parents do not coerce her back. And then as if by soap-opera miracle, they are joined in holy matrimony. The ex-Qadiani girl is now a true believer and her husband a true Ashiq-e-Rusool as she had unknowingly made him ponder nine years ago.

I feel sorry for the readers of Ms. Ahmed’s work. They are truly reading a piece of cheap literature. But I hear that the book has been translated into English. There is a gap in the market or Islamic romantic fiction in English, so this book should do well also considering the fact that it deals with ‘that firqa’ and their misguided ways.

Now some words for the author. Dear Ms. Ahmed, I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and have for some part of my life inhabited the world you have tried to write about. I can tell you for a FACT that you could not be more wrong. An Ahmadi’s faith revolves around the path of the Rahbar-e-Kamil Muhammad (pbuh). The founder of our community, the Imam Mahdi not only declared himself to be the perfect servant of his exalted Master (pbuh), he also proved it through his own life. A life devoted to the service of Islam and its defense. You obviously have not read any of the thousands of poetic verses he had written in the love of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). I have heard most of the popular naa’ts in Urdu language, from classics to the modern day ‘musical’ numbers, and I can assure you that none can match in devotion, sincerity and total immersive love, a single couplet from the pen of Mirza Ghulam Ahamd (a.s.).

I can also confirm that to be an Ahmadi Muslim, one must sacrifice their wealth, not receive it from the Jamaa’t. Next time you see an Ahmadi (a real one), please ask them to show you their receipts of monthly donations. And while you are at it, also check if they have any literature answering the slanderous pamphlets you have quoted in this book.

Ishtiaq Ahmad- Urdu writer of popular children's fiction and a purveyor of hate speech.

Religion sells in Pakistan, so religious-romance fiction will also sell. Just like Ishtiaq Ahmad’s religious-detective stories for children sell. Just like the charlatan anchors on TV shows, Mullah’s on the streets, Makhdooms and Peers in their shrines and their pet politicians in their offices sell religion; I can see good business sense in this book. But just like all the afore mentioned classes, you are also contributing to the slow, painful death of Pakistan. But in your case, you are also telling poor stories- Do better next time.


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