Persecution

80 YEARS AGO

35 80 YEARS AGO ( An extract from the Review of Religions dated November 1908) The most recent example of persecution for sectarian differences in Islam is met with in the attitude of all classes towards the Ahmadiyya Movement which has taken its rise in the last quarter of the last century. Within India itself the freedom of religious opinion granted by the British rule has saved the community from the extreme punishment of the heretic, though fatwas have been published by the orthodox according to which it is not only lawful but also meritorious to murder any member of the Ahmadiyya Community or to take away his property. The contamination of the Ahmadis was declared by one pious Mullah who is also a Pir to be so strong that it dissolved the marriage ties of the orthodox if they attended any lecturel of the Founder of Movement. But while a neutral government in India could not allow such fatwas to be carried into effect and the persecution of the Ahmadis has, therefore, within the limits of India, been of a minor type, it assumed a serious character in the neighbouring state of Afghanistan whose ruler stoned to death two prominent Ahmadi preachers on account of their acceptance of the Ahmadiyya teachings. It is doubtful whether such a punishment has ever before been the lot of those who were branded as heretics among the Muhammadans, but the cruelty of the punishment melts into insignificance before the unimaginable horrors of the inquisition. Mrs. Kate Daly who lived for nine years in Kabul gives the following account of these two martyrs at the altar of sectarian animosity: “It seems strange to think that any human being should in these days suffer death by the ancient Eastern custom of stoning, but two such cases arising out of religious differences took place during my residence in Kabul. What occurs in these matters is simple enough. The condemned man is dragged away among the rapidly gathering throng through the most crowded part of the city to the place of Black Stones. As the fanatical crowd presses forward, jeering, hooting, and execrating, its victim, every man possesses for himself as large a stone as he can throw. When the fatal spot is reached the accuser casts the first stone then every man who can get near throws his stones. Dead or senseless, he is left under the stones with a guard around him for three days, after which the body is handed over to the relations.”