Personal Statement

Personal Statement (Ayaz ul Haque) When a child I thought myself similar to any other Muslim boy in school. However, as I grew up, I realised I was different. Unlike my friends I could not go to the local mosque, I could hold no hope of becoming the President of Pakistan and no member of my family could entertain dreams of performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. I often wondered why this was so. One night my father provided me with the answer. I belong to the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. Although members of the Community strongly believe and declare themselves to be Muslims being devout followers of all Islamic injunctions and teachings as expounded by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), the mullahs or orthodox Muslim religious leaders think otherwise. Ahmadis believe that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was a prophet without a new law whereas the mull as insist that a prophet of no kind can come after the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). Twice in the history of Pakistan, 1953 and 1974, agitation against the Ahmadiyya Community has led to serious bloodshed. After the 1974 disturbances a constitutional amendment was introduced declaring members of the Community to be non-Muslims and an affirmation of belief in the finality of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet was written into the oath of office of both the President and Prime Minister. Although I was never a direct victim of discrimination or religious animosity, my family certainly was. Once when I was supposed to be sleeping I remember my mother telling my brothers how her uncle had been brutally murdered by a group of tribesmen who had been incited by their local mullah. This story terrified me and every night before going to sleep I would cautiously peer under my bed expecting to find a bearded, fiery-eyed “maulvi” , brandishing a sword. As I grew up, however, it was in this fear that I found strength and even confidence. I reached a stage when I no longer hesitated in declaring my beliefs and supporting them from books I had perused. However, in 1984 a Presidential decree hindered me from even doing that. Once again the Government initiated an anti-Ahmadiyya campaign branding us traitors and holding us responsible for the instability of the country. Many Ahmadis were arrested and tried in special military courts. PERSONAL STATEMENT 49 In school the only thing that caused me a certain degree of uneasiness was that a couple of my friends who had pretensions to ultra-orthodoxy on doctrinal questions were inclined to be facetious at my expense and indulged in sarcasm and ridicule. In sober argument I was more than a match for them, but I had no defence against ridicule. Indirectly, however, this type of pin-pricking helped me as it trained me to control my temper and subdue my sensitiveness. It also made me more appreciative of kindness whenever it was extended to me. The promulgation of the Ordinance XX not only affected me as a person but also helped me to define certain values I have grown to cherish. In my opinion, as far as faith is concerned, a person is what he sincerely believes himself to be and not what others may brand him to be. A religious label forcibly affixed on one by others can be annoying, but it cannot by one iota, change one’s personal belief. Faith and belief come from within and are not decreed from without. It is, therefore, idle to sit in judgement on someone’s faith – this is a matter between the individual and his Maker. I also realised that one does not have to relinquish one’s faith or compromise on one’s principles in order to gain acceptance and recognition. Instead one should try to be accepted because of one’s personality, morality and relationship with one’s fellow beings and their accomplishments and not because oftheir beliefs or social strata. I learned the importance of being true to one’s self and to one’s ideals. To be “authentic” and honest is a natural and universal power which brings with it a cornucopia of blessings. This is the most important value I could have acquired – that of self-truth and instinctive honesty. Pakistan’s sole Nobel Laureate, Or. Abdus Salam, is a devout Ahmadi Muslim who openly declares and propogates his faith. No one, however, threatens him with arrest; nor is he called a traitor or a non-Muslim. In fact he is heralded by the Pakistan Government as being the first Muslim to receive the Nobel Prize! The reason for this exceptional treatment accorded to Or. Salam is, no doubt, due to his exceptional accomplishment. This attitude of the Government has made me define my goal in life which is to strive and excel in whatever I do so that my countrymen are proud of me and are willing to accept me into their fold in spite of my beliefs. The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in the English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-three years the message of Islam has been cOl1veyed through this magazine to hundreds of readers and many fortunate persons have recognised the truth of Islam and accepted it through studying it. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutations of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamic teachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its holy Founder. Printed by The Eastern Press Ltd, London and Reading Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16 Gressenhall Road, London, SW185QL