A blessing or a bane?

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Hundreds of people are killed in the name of religion

Many moons ago in a different continent a Pakistani acquaintance asked me, very seriously, whether she should attend the wedding of her friend’s daughter. Let me explain.

My acquaintance, her friend and their families had known each other for the best part of ten years since moving from Pakistan. In an immigrant’s life, particularly in countries far from home where fellow countrymen are few and far between, such friendships tend to develop faster and deeper than at home. The children of these two families had grown up together and were closer than they would be to their own cousins back in Pakistan. And yet this question arose because the news that the other family was Ahmadi had only recently burst like a thunderclap upon that circle of expatriates. My acquaintance worried that attending an Ahmadi’s marriage would compromise her iman.

Rendered speechless with disgust I advised her when I was able, to attend the wedding, adding that religious loyalty was in fact reason to meet people of other faiths, to show oneself as an example as it were (although, I felt this example was better hidden than not). My caustic under-thought was fulfilled when after declaring piously that ‘by the Grace of God a kafir had never once crossed their threshold, nor the reverse’, we parted, and she did not attend the wedding.

Today when this bigotry has spread and permeated Pakistan like poison, where is one to go, particularly when one has only just returned hopefully to this nostalgic jungle? Is one to be grateful that one belongs to the mainstream religion and sect and let all else go to hell? Given what happens to those who take a stand and speak out there appears to be little choice.

Hundreds of people have been killed because they belong not only to another religion, but to another sect of Islam. These incidents have become so common that they no longer elicit half the response they ought. Certainly nothing more than a token noise on the part of a government engrossed in ensuring it remains in power for another round of rapacity.

The involvement of powerful local political figures has often been mentioned. A Pakistan Today report quoted local Hindus, following the alleged kidnapping of Rinkle Kumari, as saying that a powerful local politician and Pakistan Peoples Party MNA brought armed men to harass them when they attempted to protest.

Similar allegations have been made in countless instances. Recently in a non-sectarian case, the SHO of police confessed to the police’s inability to arrest the suspects because of their (the suspects’) influence and political connections.

A horrific aspect of this trend are the forced conversions to Islam, where relatives of a growing number of girls have alleged kidnap and forced marriage of a female relative to a Muslim. The case of Rinkle Kumari mentioned above is one. Says Pakistan Today in a report dated 10th of April, ‘just like kidnappings for ransom (and) extortion by powerful feudal lords from Hindu businessmen…, forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh is a big problem for the Hindu community.’

The day that Rinkle was brought to the Karachi Press Club for a session with the media was reported in far more sinister language by yet another newspaper: ‘A couple of bearded people kept on giving notes to the girl during the press conference. A woman, who said she was a police constable, was also present at the press conference, which was abruptly cut short. The girl could not respond to questions asked by journalists and kept on saying that she had embraced Islam without any force and married of her own free will.’ When the conference ended, ‘two men came forward and said that the press conference was over. They held her arm and took her away. They boarded a waiting car and left along with a police mobile which was parked outside the Press Club.’

This is one of the most chilling reports I have ever read both in its content and all that it refrains from saying.

Last week members of minority groups and some social organisations protested against these incidents of forced conversions outside the Lahore Press Club’. ‘Down with mullah-ism!’ shouted the protestors.

‘It is a sin to take away someone’s rights like that,’ said one man. However, another, when questioned, responded in a way that was even more chilling than the report above: ‘Isn’t it a blessing when someone is being converted into a Muslim?’ he bleated.

Please someone force-feed this man prodigious quantity of something good till he explodes, just so he can discover the difference between a blessing and a bane for himself.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Pakistan is reaping the rewards of its self-directed 'mullah Islam'. This new 'mullah Islam' has absolutely nothing in common with the Islam of Muhammad 1423 years ago.
    They will continue to murder eachother because their god(mullah) has guided them so.
    Pakistanis "Congratulations" on a job well done. Please continue following mullah Islam…

  2. I have found Ahmadis to be more observant of true Islamic values on weddings than the so- called state – sanctioned Muslims – who are Muslims only in name. Ahmadis avoid extravagance, do not dance or have mixed gatherings, which is a norm among other Muslims on such occasions. An Ahmadiyya wedding ceremony will begin with a recitation from the Holy Quran followed by a few prayerful couplets of some decent religious hymn followed by a silent prayer for the good luck of both the families and the Ahmadiyya community at large. They eat in a civilized manner helping each other instead of everyone filling their own plates alone. At the end of the ceremony, all irrelavent guests leave and only the two families have photo sessions. In short, true Islamic practices are reflected best among them. Call them infidels, disbelievers, non- Muslims. Your choice. But, they are the best when it comes to observe the example and coduct of the Holy Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

    • Mr Qamar, there are people who are doing the wrong thing or are hypocritical in their values in every race or creed just as many try to do what is right everywhere. My intention by writing this article was not to set anyone above anyone else. Who knows, in a nation of predominantly Ahmadis what practices could be prevalent against others? Apply this to anyone anywhere. We who scream so loudly about Jewish atrocities against the Palestinians or the atrocities committed by the British against Indians etc etc are doing the same thing given the opportunity. I have simply tried to highlight the fact that it is very wrong to condemn/hurt a person who has harmed no one and is simply following his/her creed whatever that may be. The same applies to Christians, Hindus, Jews, Parsis, and within sects to Shias or other Muslim sects or Muslims themselves as a whole anywhere, and it is certainly criminal to force anyone to desert their religion.

  3. I don't believe I am qualified to call anyone a Muslim or not. This is between a person and his/her God. All I can say is that this particular (Ahmadi) family were decent people, and were our friends.

    • "and were our friends."

      can we assume that you would probably are not the best suited person for the job ?

  4. Thank you, Rabia Ahmed for your piece highlighting some dreadful practices in Pakistan. How coercion can be a blessing in any form fails me.

    You say in your comment above that you are not qualified to call anyone a Muslim or not. Perhaps. But I am sure anyone on the face of this earth is 'qualified' to accept another's assertion that he or she is a Muslim. Indeed the Ahmadi Muslim family you knew were decent people. I am sure like the rest of Ahmadi Muslims the world over they aspire to follow the religion brought by Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, and nothing else.

  5. islam means peace for all,not only for muslims but also for other religions.The Holly Prophet peace and blessing of Allah be on him is the true exempel of it.He is rehmatul lil alimen,but the so called molvies presented islam as a ZEHMAT for the whole world,molvies have not peace n love in their hearts for others Firqaaz or any openion againest their faith.ISLAM Stands for PEACE,LOVE for all,RESPECT or ALL.

  6. Thank you Rabia for the bold instance. However biggest problem what I see in Pakistani soceity pertains to large Urdu speaking, writing and reading segment. What ever you wrote, can any popular Urdu newspaper of the country dare to print.? Never. So how the Mullah or those committing these atrocities will ever come to know the voice raised by moderate and bold lady like you. Do you have any answer to it?

    • I agree with you Zubair, that is a problem. Articles like the one I have written are not unusual in the English media. We probably need an agency that translates from each language to the other to minimise the rift between the the two.

  7. It does not matter to them the lives that they take and families that they leave suffer the agonies of their lost. Oh! fellow humans, what have we turn the world that God has entrusted in our care into. Even the animals on the lands, the seas and the skies would say that we are not worthy of the exalted position God has placed us above them. What a shame!

  8. Excelent work done by Ms Rabia,but I fear that now after this day Mullahs will be after her, may Allah save this brave lady as it is feared that she can be forced to change her sect if it is not liked by the mullahs of other sect……… otherwise Quetta and Gilgit trageties are self explainatory

    • Dont worry Bakhtiar, nothing will happen to Rabia (Inshallah). Because our Mullahs can't read English newspapers and no Urdu newspaper can dare to translate and print. So everything would be OK.

  9. Dear Rabia,

    Mr. Ahmad M. Qamar said: "An Ahmadiyya wedding ceremony will begin with a recitation from the Holy Quran followed by a few prayerful couplets of some decent religious hymn followed by a silent prayer for the good luck of both the families and the Ahmadiyya community at large. They eat in a civilized manner helping each other instead of everyone filling their own plates alone. At the end of the ceremony, all irrelavent guests leave and only the two families have photo sessions. In short, true Islamic practices are reflected best among them."

    In reporting the practices of Ahmadi-Muslims, he is not setting anyone above anyone else. Surely, the Holy Prophet set the standard of what it is to be Muslim and all we need do is see who follows his standard. It is an empirical exercise to count how many ways Ahmadis fulfill the standard.

  10. Allison (and Qamar), while what you say may be an empirical exercise, it is also true that to generalise (in either direction, and with anyone) is another exercise, and a dangerous one. This is after all what is known as 'stereotyping', is it not? It is leading to a lot of trouble in the world, not least in Pakistan. Ahmadis are after all Pakistanis like the rest of of us, and products of this culture, like the rest of us.

  11. The way mullah is leading is towards HELL! Welcome to Paistan = Welcome to Hell …

    God save me from hell!

  12. All sects or religions must have equal rights as citizens of Pakistan…! religion should be kept out of affairs of state. These so called mullahs are ignorant, prejudiced, and have sectarian outlooks. these ignorant mullahs shall be kept out of state functioning.

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