Adeel Shah, UK
In a country where the flag of mullah-ism is ubiquitous – at mosque podiums, loudspeakers in busy marketplaces, rallies all across the country – is the title of ‘Islamic Republic’ at all pertinent? The ideology of mullah-ism is so widely visible and continuously accessible that, in one way or another, it is present in everyone’s life, from those who dispense the prescription of hate, to the minds of those who are on the receiving end. Even those who face bitter persecution because of it are not left bereft and at least feel the smoke, if not the flame of hate. So, is there any hope of saving those who have little to no hope and restoring the republic back to its Islamic values?
Most arguably, the proliferation of this ideology is precisely the reason why the core message of Islam needs to be restored and protected. To navigate our understanding to the correct route, a few issues can be identified. Each of them represents the paradox of how the massively-accepted mindset enhances the vulnerability of the true and pristine core message of the Holy Founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (sa). Now, by falling into the wrong hands and by being misconstrued and moulded, the religion plays a role of seeing who is better in vitriol towards the other whereas the true basis and fundamentals of Islam such as piety, righteousness, charity, brotherhood, cohesion, are all ignored.
The First Issue
The first issue that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan faces comes from the ceremonial chants recited in their anthem-like rallies. In their blind but misguided love of safeguarding the ‘honour’ of the Holy Prophet (sa) and in their regularity of daily night-walks in the form of ‘we will behead those who blaspheme’ protests, the homage objectifies a lack of understanding of how the Holy Prophet (sa) spent and lived his life. His persona and love were most certainly different to what is being exhibited today. He lived harmoniously with the Jewish people and other tribes of Madinah and promulgated the Charter of Madinah upon his arrival; a mutually developed charter which served as the constitution to govern Madinah and created an alliance between the Jewish people, other tribes of Medina, and Muslims. It even required mutual advice and consulatation from the Jewish people (see Charter, article 39). As for those who blasphemed against the Holy Prophet (sa) – for example, Musailma Kazzab, Aswad Ansi, Tulayha bin Khuwalid – the orphan who adopted the world, also adopted them in his love and forgiveness.
Sadly though, those who have driven far too ahead down the wrong path in the pursuit of attaining the title of a ‘true believer’ will inevitably find it hard to stop at the traffic lights of reflection and will continue pacing down a side-road with the full force of continued yet unexplainable or provable hate towards others. This intrinsic act has made them fail to recognise their own brothers in faith, for example, Ahmadi Muslims, who serve the country with the highest principles of morals – but who have, in return for this love, spared many lives in the battle of hate and state-sponsored persecution. A topic of discussion considered so taboo in Pakistan – that those who affiliate even an iota of empathy for Ahmadi Muslims are labelled as heretics – joining the Ahmadi Muslims in the many defamatory titles the state has afforded them.
The Second Issue
The second issue the Islamic Republic of Pakistan faces is in line with the first – idolatry without the knowledge of it. Ironically, the condition they pledged to never fall victim to, is exactly what they are practising. The majority of Pakistanis have to, in one shape of form, express an allegiance to one of the mullahs or their peers. The latter are often individuals who claim to cure problems by chanting, dancing or even a tight hug, conditioned to how much money they receive in return, the speed of recovery often depends on the fiscal situation of a person. This deification happens all across the country and the mullahs and peers welcome this not-said-but-done form of idolatry without becoming heretical deities. The mullahs, more so, have gone many steps further. They have spread the erroneous belief that jihad requires bloodshed and that anyone who does not declare Prophet Muhammad (sa) a prophet and the last prophet, is considered an infidel and should be killed. The mullahs have created hate mongers and have cascaded this notion all across the country.
This has, as mentioned before, caused quite a devastating situation for those who do not believe in the majority-stricken ideologies. Christians are trialled on blasphemy cases, Hindus live in fear, and Ahmadi Muslims in 2010, had two of their mosques attacked leaving more than 85 people martyred because they did not support the extreme values and beliefs that the popular mullahs propagated. Unlike other countries where the foundation and governing body is independent of faith – Pakistan’s political realm works on the precepts of Islamic values – although questionable, it inevitably means that those who are not Muslims or are considered non-Muslims would have to succumb to the superior powers and face their wrath when it comes.
This is exactly the danger that the country should be protected from. Mullah-ism demands Islam to mould according to their ease and satisfaction. Instead of shaping Islam to one’s own desires, Pakistan’s elites, politicians, laymen, and all those who hold their hearts whilst singing the anthem, need to realise that kneeling whilst looking down and holding Islam in front of the mullahs as if to sell it away, will never let Pakistan excel or ever become ‘Islamic.’ The Holy Prophet (sa) never sold his faith, regardless of whether his life was at stake – and he definitely never misused his faith either. His teachings of love and harmony, through the second Caliph, for example, compelled the Christians to cry and implore for the Muslims to return and govern them when they left because they could not protect their assets anymore.
The Second Caliph of Islam, Umar (ra) whilst travelling to Jerusalem to receive the keys of the city, refused to pray in the Church when offered by the Patriarch and said: ‘If I do so, the Muslims may sometime in future infringe upon your rights by pretending to follow my example.’  His support for co-existence was showcased throughout his caliphate – where advocates of all religions enjoyed full rights and protection. Non-Muslims enjoyed the freedom and relaxation of their own properties and possessions and a rule was introduced on Muslim citizens to ensure that they do not usurp the rights of others living with them. Is today’s Pakistan equivalent to the Madinah during the time of the Holy Prophet (sa)? Sadly not, and by far.
Again, it is quite ironic to see that Ahmadi Muslims for example, who have been cast out by the mainstream and majority in Pakistan, are the ones who actually follow what the Holy Prophet (sa) taught and practised. They are given the keys to cities but never boast about it, their coming is welcomed by politicians and religious figures, people from all walks of life appreciate their work, and they regularly hold interfaith programmes and peace symposiums to strengthen the bond of coexistence. All in unison with the teachings of Islam. Their current leader, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has a followership of tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims around the world and through his weekly sermons, his guidance, individual sittings with community members, and travels around the world to meet them to ensure they are practicing the highest moral standards of Islam, they regularly contribute to their local society, regardless of where they live. They hold blood drives, plant trees, clean the streets, fundraise for charities, distribute food to the homeless, build schools, water fountains, shelter, and houses in third world countries; they aide the impoverished, assist the needy, lend a shoulder to those who need it – irrespective of class, colour, creed, religious belief, political leaning or even one’s tax-bracket.
In return, their mosques are demolished in Pakistan, their tombstones are desecrated only because they have Qur’anic inscriptions on them, their shops are looted, their believers are mercilessly and brutally killed – some even as young as 8 months old. This barbaric behaviour forces one to understand what the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) meant when he said the [so-called] scholars of the latter days would be worst creatures on Earth.
The Third Issue
The third issue that the republic faces is limited learning which arises potentially from the idol mullahs. The syllabus in the country is scrutinised extensively to ensure that what the students learn is according to what the mullahs want it to be. Thereafter, brainwashing or creating ‘saviours for the faith’ is no difficult ask. The systemic-controlled creation of those who, with all sincerity and faith, rely on their leaders, hoping that they will be dealt with justice, are blindfolded and told to follow the path all their other ‘brothers’ have followed, even if this may require their life. Gradually, the elite have escaped the claws of this custom, but the majority-poverty stricken country falls victim to it every single day. Due to this anger and venom which the students swallow, Ahmadi Muslims cannot even identify themselves as ‘Ahmadi’ Muslims in their classrooms without facing boycotts, ridicule, rejection and even expulsion. This hate is expressed not just by the students, but some teachers take part in this abhorrent behaviour as well.
Seeing it from one possible extreme perspective, the mullahs of Pakistan find it easier to call others to the ‘jihad’ of war than being on the frontline themselves. Their vitriolic hate speech addressing others to behead those who blaspheme or kill Ahmadi Muslims, for example, always has them sitting on the back benches whilst others do their dirty work. They find it easy to call on others to give in the way of faith through their hard-earned and what most likely could be their last amount of money but are always sitting in front of TV stations and platforms fighting for their reputation and defending themselves against corruption charges. They find great fondness in living in luxury resorts around the country and even outside of it but do not bat an eyelid at the poor conditions of millions in the country. Far from being sagacious, some leaders who associate themselves with an Islamic party are caught doing exactly the opposite of what Islam teaches; to a very horrific standard.
The Fourth Issue
The fourth issue that the country faces is intentional contortion of the basis of why Pakistan was established. Recently, Pakistan celebrated and commemorated the life of its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah – also known as Qaid-e-Azam (great leader). This celebration, which affords many a day off from work, maligns and misrepresents the basis on which this country was created. Few know that Jinaah, out of frustration left politics and retreated to the UK in 1932. However he was persuaded to go back to India by the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) asked one of his missionaries to speak with Jinnah who, after great persuasion, eventually agreed. The Sunday Times London (April 9, 1933) records Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s acknowledgement where he said, ‘The eloquent persuasion of Imam [Abdur Raheem Dard] left me no way to escape.”
It would be quite amusing to see how those who chant and beat drums of proud eulogies for the founder of the country would react to this deafening news – the basis of their country had the aid of Ahmadi Muslims – those who they try to shun out of their country and towards whom they display uncivilised, uncouth behaviour. Nonetheless, all aches aside, the vision of Jinnah for Pakistan was:
‘You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan.’
‘You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.’
The mullahs of Pakistan have created a Pakistan which Jinnah would have been ashamed of. They have, for their own acceptance, similar to a corrupt police officer who plants drugs on an innocent civilian, lost hold of the true values of Pakistan, the basic principles upon which it stood or intended to stand upon.
The Fifth Issue
The fifth issue is the condition of purposely ignoring reality. Ignorance is surely bliss and channelling it to fuel one’s own agenda can only lead to destruction, both spiritual and moral. The pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of acquiring available information, research to understand, challenge extreme beliefs is quite displeasing, and in candid terms, dormant within the country. It is better to avoid discussion than to stand up with those who are persecuted or raise a voice of concern towards the governing body, as those who have in the past have met with a dreadful end.
To change this, the mindset of the majority needs to be addressed and this might even take a generation or two as was the case in 1974 when Ahmadi Muslims were declared heretics and infidels by the constitution. The court agreed to publish the documents of the proceedings straight after but in their indolence, delayed this until quite a few years ago. By then the damage had already been done. A generation or two had been brought up with the mentality and belief that Ahmadi Muslims are heretics and infidels, befriending them or associating with them would be akin to a major sin (terms such as wajibul qatl [liable to death] were also introduced later on). Now, even those who did not read the proceedings of 1974, agree that the Ahmadi Muslims should be treated as low-class citizens. To change a nation requires the strength to go through a few generations with persistency and perseverance.
The Sixth Issue
The sixth issue is being adamant in not recognising history. Whether we agree with it or not, history cannot be changed. It can be misrepresented, misunderstood, misconstrued and all other mis’s but history will forever remain the same.
For example, not acknowledging Dr. Abdus Salam, a Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim has led to history being partially ignored. Salam won the Sitara-e-Pakistan award in 1959 and went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979. Salam played an influential role in Pakistan’s development of nuclear energy and served in many positions and also represented Pakistan on many occasions. Many countries outside of Pakistan recognised him. the UK declared Salam’s house a heritage site, Canada allowed a street to be named after him, Bangladesh introduced Memorial Lectures in his name; in contrast, Pakistan disowned him. The government denied him a state funeral and the media were absent to cover his burial. His tombstone, under court orders, had the word ‘Muslim’ removed from it. They did not even wish to add Pakistani to it – at least this way the tombstone would have read ‘First ‘Pakistani’ Nobel Laureate’. When such discrimination becomes the leading force of a country, the question naturally arises – is there any way of saving such a country?
This volatile situation that Pakistanis are facing can only be eradicated if Pakistan frees itself from the claws of the mullahs, who seek to gain comfort and fame at the expense of the Pakistani citizen. Without a dramatic paradigm shift in the country’s approach to faith, religiosity and social conscience, Pakistan runs the very real danger of soon becoming a nation forever at odds with the true Islamic vision laid out by its founding father. Further irony is not lost on the fact that the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (sa), came to bring Arabia and indeed, the world, out of the darkness of ignorance and into the elixir of light. Pakistan’s mullahs are hell bent on reversing that most magnificent of transformations under the guise of the Prophet’s (sa) very own name.
It has been narrated in traditions that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) foretold of a time when religious scholars would be ‘the worst of creatures under the canopy of the heavens’, with despicable and evil plots originating from their minds. One needn’t gaze distantly into the future in search of fulfilment of this prophecy, for Pakistan’s mullahs have already brought it into the present.
About the Author: Adeel Shah is a graduate of the Ahmadiyya Modern Institute of Langauges and Theology. He currently serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK in the office of Press and Media.
- Tareekh Ibn Khaldoon (2/225)