Persecution

An analysis Of the Ordinance

64 Analysis of The Ordinance By Rashid Ahmad Chaudhri General Zia-ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan promulgated an ordinance on the 26th April 1984, called “The Anti-Islamic activities of Ahmadies (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance, 1984” to amend the law to prohibit the Ahmadis from indulging in what he terms as the “anti Islamic activities”. This order was in response to a great number of demands by the Mullas of Pakistan, who threatened to take the law in their own hands and destroy the mosques built by the Ahmadis, in the event that their demands were not met by the 27th April, 1984. Some of them publicly declared that they would kill all Ahmadis as they were regarded apostates from Islam. (The Mullas erroneously believe that the punishment of apostacy in Islam is death.) The Mullas also demanded the removal of Ahmadis from important civil and military posts; confiscation of their books and magazines and forceful occupation of their mosques which they demand should be handed over to other Islamic sects. The mood of the Mullas may be judged from the events which have transpired since these unethical demands were made. Some Ahmadia mosques have since been burnt and destroyed and Ahmadi individuals have been persecuted and even assasinated. With the promulgation of this new ordinance, President Zia ul Haq has caused an even greater affront than Mr. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, who in 1973 declared the Ahmadiyya Community a ‘non-Muslim’ minority in Pakistan. Mr. Bhutto put himself in a farcical situation when he created a drama and threw the Ahmadiyya sect out of the pale of Islam at a single stroke of his pen; against the will of the Ahmadis and amidst protests. He also had the audacity to claim at the same time: “Every Pakistani has a right to profess his religion, proudly and with confidence and without fear. This guarantee, the Constitution of Pakistan, gives to the citizens of Pakistan. To my Government, it will now become all the more necessary to protect the rights of all citizens of Pakistan. This is 65 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS absolutely essential. I do not want to leave any scope of ambiguity. It is our moral and sacred, indeed, our Islamic duty to protect the right of every citizen of Pakistan. I want to assure you, Mr Speaker Sir, and I want to make it quite clear to every man outside, this will be done. There should be no doubt in any one’s mind, we will not tolerate any form of vandalism or humiliation or insult to any citizen or community of this country”. (Speech made by Mr Bhutto in the National Assembly on September 7, 1974.) If we look at the constitutional history of Pakistan, we find that the country has been given three constitutions. Within each of them, the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan have been safeguarded, without any distinction of race, colour, religion or belief. These constitutions also ensure that every rule, regulation or decree which violates this declaration of the fundamental human rights would be null and void. In the light of above regulations, all citizens of Pakistan, without any distinction of any kind such as creed, colour or race were given the freedom of religion, opinion and expression including the freedom to change one’s religion and manifest it in teaching, practice worship and observance. Moreover, according to Article 32(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1956; Article 10 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1962 and Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, ‘every religious community or sect has the right to establish its own religious and educational institutions. Article 15 of the 1962 Constitution and Article 25 of the 1973 Constitution provides equality before the law and entitles, without any discrimination whatsoever, equal protection of the law to every citizen of Pakistan. In a resolution adopted by the special committee of the whole House of the National Assembly of Pakistan on September 7th, 1974, it was resolved: “That the life, liberty, property, honour and the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of the communities to which they belong, shall be fully protected and safeguarded.” AN ANALYSIS OF THE ORDINANCE 66 The present Ordinance against the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam therefore, contravenes all the above mentioned clauses of the Constitution of Pakistan and hence becomes null and void. The Ordinance is also against the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1948, to which Pakistan was a signatory. Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Article 3 provides that every one has a right to life, property and security of person. Article 7 states, “All are equal before the Law and are entitled, without any discrimination, to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement of such discrimination.” Article 18 provides everyone with the “right to freddom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in a community with others and in public and private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Article 21 states; “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through his chosen representative. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.” In the light of the above, the demands of the Mullas become ridiculous and no sensible person within the civilised world could think of such demands in this age. The Ordinance promulgated by the President of Pakistan is much worse. To prohibit a sect of Muslims to use religious terminology is ridiculous. Does it mean that as soon as an Ahmadi pronounces the word ‘Allah’ — Allah being the name of God in Muslim terminology, he is liable to be put in jail for three years? How is it justifiable that when one citizen of Pakistan utters the words 67 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “Allah o Akbar; Allah o Akbar” — the words of Adhan (A call to Prayers), meaning ‘Allah is Great’, he is not liable to punishment while another citizen, uttering the same words should be indicted and charged with a criminal offence? The general public in Pakistan has not shown any signs of favour to this unethical persecution. Inspite of the relentless instigation against the Ahmadiyya Community, over a considerably prolonged period, there has been no evidence of mass demonstrations, public hysteria or active persecution of the Ahmadis by the general public in Pakistan. On the contrary, the present conspiracy has been instigated by a very small group of a ‘mafia type hierarchy’ which it seems is encouraged and patronised by some people in authority who wish to remain in power by diverting the attention of the public from the real issue facing Pakistan today — that of the general elections. The pace of the atrocity being committed against the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan has gained momentum since the promulgation of the Ordinance of 26th April, 1984. The latest victim of this brutal savagery has been a seventy two years old leader of the local Ahmadiyya Community in Sukkar, the late Mr. Qureshi Abdul Rehman, who was stabbed to death while coming out of a mosque after offering his Prayers. In fact, the members of the sect in Pakistan are quite helpless in the present situation and emotionally extremely disturbed. They are at a total loss to understand their situation and do not know what to do under the prevailing circumstances. They regard themselves as Muslims and it is not possible for them to live without being referred to as Muslims or referring to their religion as anything but Islam. It is unthinkable, indeed very strange that for the first time in the history of the world, atrocities are being committed to force people to tell lies. What the Ordinance amounts to is that the Government of Pakistan will continue committing atrocities against this sect until the Ahmadis declare something which they don’t believe in. The situation in Pakistan is very serious. Pakistan lost one of its limbs as a consequence of racial tension in 1971 and now it is under sectarian pressure which may result in its total disintegration. Unless however, the Government takes measures to discourage such laws which promote sectarian disharmony. 68 Book Review Uthman Dan Fodio (The Theory and Practice of His Leadership) Author: Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Jean Boyd Publisher: Islamic Publications Bureau, Lagos, Nigeria IThe history of the people of Africa is endowed with great cultural and political achievements worthy of emulation by its decendents. The writers of the book are telling us the story of “Shehu” Usman Dan Fodio, may Allah be pleased with him, who was not only a spiritual leader but a thinker, scholar and above all a Mujaddid of his time. The Shehu, as he was generally known, was the author of several books, most of them in Arabic. His writings were aimed at the creation of an intellectual movement for an ideal society based on the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Islamic Sharia, capable of meeting challenges of the modern society. Situated towards the north of Nigeria, the states of Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto and certain areas of the Republic of Niger are called the Hausaland. Over the last century and a half, the influence of Shehu Dan Fodio and his companions has reigned supreme in this area and beyond. His teachings inspired millions of Muslims of this region. Hazrat Usman Dan Fodio fought against innovations and other corruptions prevalent amongst the ulemas and the common man of his time. The authors point to this factor in the following manner:- “The Shehu directed his preaching towards the masses, including of course the Mallams (Ulemas) some of whom were fake and pretended they had special powers to tell the future. Many mislead the people and some were the allies of the Sarakuna and defended their bad practices. Others, while being of noble character, were too fanatical in their views and unable to explain their ideas adequately to the common man.” Despite opposition the Shehu carried out his message for 30 years