Terrorism and Extremism

Editorial: Religious Bigotry

2 The Review of Religions – November 2005 Religious Bigotry It was on Friday 7th October, the first Friday of the blessed month of Ramadhan 1426AH. Eager wor- shippers, young and old, bent upon winning the pleasure of their Lord had gathered for the dawn prayers in the Ahmadiyya Mosque at Mong in the District of Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan. Incited by crazed Mullahs, gunmen on motorcycles arrived on the scene and opened fire with automatic firearms on the wor- shippers. Eight persons aged between 16 and 73 were killed, some instantly and about 20 others were injured, 3 critically. Ramadhan is a sacred month in the Islamic Calendar yet even the sanctity of Ramadhan could not prevent such a heinous transgression. This is the level of religious bigotry which unfortunately we find obtaining in Pakistan today. The irony – a very sad one it must be added – is that a country whose founding was justified in terms of allowing Muslims to freely practise their faith, has today degenerated into one of the most religiously intolerant countries of the world. It is the denial of human rights to Ahmadi Muslims by successive Pakistani governments for narrow political advantage that has encouraged such sectarian extremism and religious fanaticism. Since 1974 when the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in collusion with orthodox religious clerg y, declared members of the Ahmadiyya Community as non-Muslim and heretical to Islam, Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan have endured senseless persecution and discrimination. The anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance intro- duced by General Zia-ul-Haq ten years later only served to further fan the embers of religious intolerance. This infamous ordinance made some most basic acts of worship by Ahmadi Muslims illegal. It completely undermined the crucial and basic human right to manifest one’s belief. Not only did it marginalise a peace- loving community, it provided a legal framework for their systematic victimisation. Ahmadiyya mosques were demol-ished or desecrated and Ahmadi graves defiled. The property of Ahmadi Muslims was destroyed and their lives dispatched with impunity. Self-serving Mullahs arrogated to Bockarie Tommy Kallon– UK EDITORIAL themselves the right to determine the worth of a person’s life. Through provocative publications and inflam- matory speeches, they indoctrinate their followers with the twisted belief that destroying the life and property of a supposed heretic is not only justified for a Muslim, it is his duty. Pakistan purports to be a Muslim State but upholds laws which palpably represent a blight on Islam. It professes to be an Islamic Republic but allows the persecution of the very Community which promotes loyalty to one’s nation and seeks sacrifice of life, wealth, time and honour on a global scale for the promotion and glory of Islam. The current regime denounced the killings in Mong but should not ignore repeated calls for it to repeal the draconian laws which explicitly undercut the activities of religious minorities. It makes ‘A Plea for Enlightened Moderation’1 but should prevent Islam from being exploited by Mullahs and presented to the world as a medieval theocracy; it talks about Enlightened Moderation and should, therefore, take basic steps that would ensure freedom of conscience and stop the wanton slaughter of its citizens in the name of the Gracious God. The shedding of blood by man in the name of his Creator is the theme of this month’s feature article, an excerpt from Murder in the Name of Allah by Hadhrat Mirza Ta h i r A h m a d( r u ). In Religion Drips with Blood – the introductory chapter – the author demonstrates, from a review of the history of religion, that religion has always been abused by fanatics and made an excuse for the spread of terror. He maintains, however, that true religion founded on Divine revelation does not preach violence and brutality. Those who perpetrate barbarity in religion’s name are either anti-religious people or people whose religion has become corrupted. In confirming the true spirit of Islam, he writes: ‘If the history of the world from Adam(as), to the present day were ever lost – and with it the record of every persecution and of every c h a rter of human rights – a glance at the life of the Prophet(sa) would more than prove that true religion does not cause hatred, persecution, repression or the suppression of thought.’ 1. President Pervez Musharraf in T h e Washington Post, 1st June 2004. 3 EDITORIAL The Review of Religions – November 2005