By Raza Habib Raja
Some of my close relatives are Ahmadis and hence I have had the unique opportunity of observing them closely. Pakistan is a country where Ahmadis are hated and also subject to state institutionalised discrimination. And yet despite the open hatred which is shown to them, I have never had the opportunity of hearing any Ahmadi member of my family expressing hatred towards Pakistan or Muslims of other faiths. None of the Ahmadis I know has talked about resorting to violence against so called “real” Muslims of Pakistan despite the fact that they have been subject to violence themselves.
In Pakistan, Ahmadis were declared as Non-Muslim through second amendment. I have written against the second amendment and have also been in arguments with several of its supporters. The supporters of the second amendment have often come up with various defences ranging from supposed Ahmadi non-belief in the finality of the Prophet hood to collective wisdom of the absolute majority (second amendment was passed through majority).
However, one of the most vocal arguments given to me is that Ahmadis too think of all others outside their faith as Non-Muslim and on these grounds it is only fair and square that they should also be declared as Non-Muslim.
Although personally I have never heard it from any Ahmadi relative of mine but some of the people I know (those who belong to Sunni faith) stress that this is the case. A friend of mine pointed out to me that a certain Ahmadi relative of his had not offered Namaz-e-Janaza of his mother owing to the grounds that he construed her as an apostle.
I replied back by asking him to return the favour. If he thinks that Ahmadis are of the opinion that all outside their sect are apostles then it is ok for him to think the same about them. I clarified to him that my point is not that he should assume them to be Muslims but rather that the state has no right to declare someone as Non Muslim.
To put it simply , assuming if Ahmadis do indeed think of Sunnis or other sects as outside Islam, this does not still give you a right to actually legislate them as Non Muslim. All you can justifiably do in return is to just think the same of them. Once you make a law then you are actually giving material and tangible effect to your perception. Pakistan is a unique country where actually a man-made law has decided something which in principle is the prerogative of the Almighty alone.
And yes if tomorrow Ahmadis assume the majority and legislate someone as Non-Muslim, I will oppose that also and on same grounds.
Let me be clear here that there have to be certain limitations with respect to the majority concept in in a modern day democratic state. There are certain areas which should be simply no go areas with respect to legislation. In fact many of the modern democratic states try to have in place the mechanism to ensure that a majority on ethnic as well as religious lines is not able to impose its will on minority. For example, in America Bills of Rights echo the same principle and try to put limitations on what cannot be done by the state. In fact in USA, a thing like second amendment will be struck down by courts even if the super majority passes it.
So think whatever you want to about Ahmadis but you don’t have the moral authority to make absurd laws just because your perception of a Muslim is different and because you think that they also construe you as out of Islamic faith. Let Allah be the ultimate judge. Do not assume that power yourself. Remember that every privilege in this life comes with a responsibility. Majority comes with a responsibility that it will not be misused to deny others their rights. Let’s try to assume our responsibility.