May 29, 2010

Yesterday, when we heard about the gunshots in Lahore, we spent a tense, miserable half an hour trying to track down everyone we knew (particularly from the Ahmadiyya community) to ask them if they were okay. Thankfully, no one we knew personally was injured or killed. As soon as the worries died down, the magnitude of what had just happened hit us in a big way: we had just witnessed yet another hate crime (because we really need to screw each other over now-now-now-now-now). This particular display of brutality is targeted towards a minority group already heavily picked on by religious bullies. The controversy is simple: Ahmadis claim to be Muslim and Muslims (in their undoubtedly superior wisdom) refuse to let them.

Despite drastic increase in Pakistani Ahmadi diaspora over the last thirty odd years, the country is still reluctant home to a large Ahmadi community (wikipedia - should you choose to rely on the old-faithful - puts the number at 4 million). In 1974, Bhutto's government (that obviously had nothing better to do with their time) decided to hold a gathering of eminent religious persons to decide who could (and who could not) be Muslim. Ahmadi's with their suspicious claims of exclusive Messianic sighting somehow lost the race. Zia, in this particular case, carried forward his predecessor's mandate and further promulgated a law that disallowed Ahmadis to 'pose' as Muslims. It was at this point that, I believe, that the Islamic Republic declared the community non-Muslim, announced that their place of worship could no longer be called a 'mosque'. Their call to prayer is no longer the Azan (that *that* you false pretenders) and - during the peak of the lets-all-pick-on-Ahmadi's-period the community is disallowed from greeting each other in an Islamic fashion, publicly reciting from the Quran and evangelical conversion (remember kids, nobody likes evangelists). The truth is, from 1974 till May 28, 2010, the Ahmadi community has endured more victimization than any religious community in Pakistan (although the Christian blasphemy law victims may disagree, but I digress).

Culminating with yesterdays vicious shoot out that killed 70 people and injured 78, the Ahmadi community is no stranger to senseless, brutal violence doled out by their Muslim country-men. According to a particularly painful conversation I once had, Ahmadis are worse than Hindus or Christians because they pretend to be Muslim even when they clearly aren't. Bravo, say I. You've obviously worked out the formula on who-deserves-to-be-victimized-to-what-degree. You're the man, my friend. A narrow-minded, bigoted, stupid man, but don't worry, you're most assuredly the man. It did strike my mind that if what Ahmadis do in their places of worship is not resonant within the hallowed confines of what-is-Islamic, I wonder how what these gun-toting nutcases does, 'is'. And if it is is, I wonder what the Islam they believe in is all about. Because the religion I grew up with would condemn - in the harshest possible words - an unprovoked attack on the innocent.

But clearly your religion has no such silly hangups.

Good for you!

Happy shooting.


Deepak Iyer said...

Thanks for the perspective.

I suspect the end of conventional religion is a partial solution, but that's going to take a while and will end up making extremists out of those who hold on to religion dearly.

Lonely Perverted Soul said...

Its all just so sad...

Aneela Z said...

yes Xeb...the day forced me to change the " Baby ki Mummy ji" tone of my blog as well. That and the hapless pigeon.

Pesto Sauce said...

I wish there were more people like you in the world who could bring some sense into the misguided who are justifying a violent touch to the most misunderstood religion in today's world

Doc said...

Thank you for this post. I find solace in the fact that people like you still exist, and find comfort that I can still hope. I came here from the US to study medicine, and found that I was rather going to be taught a tough lesson on reality instead. What I learned was that I don't belong. What I learned was that offering home cooked food was a sin. Saying salam would make me an outcast. Reading salat behind closed doors just incase I was ridiculed. I lost faith in everything. I lost faith when people told me not drink a certain juice, as their products are made by kuffars. When people told me that it was best that I was not alive. It was funny- since those very people had signed the Hippocratic Oath. To save lives, they were suggesting that I take my own. It is perhaps the darkness of ignorance that germinates the seeds of extremism. I found out that only we have the ability to improve the seed, and find that the trees will grow healthy. But if the root is diseased, you can spray the tree with an ample amount of insecticide as you so please, but the fruit- will turn out diseased. All I ask that if plausible, I understand condoning this carnage has risk of making you an outcast- but for the sake of humanity at least condone it deep within your hearts where only you and your God would know. Thanks Xeb. You have no idea how your kind words make a difference.

K said...

my best and only friend is an ahmadi.

Xeb said...

D: The end of conventional religion is a scary prospect. Religion, you see, is a mass-based medium. It is never enough for the human to believe unless others around him/her validate and share that belief. Studying the phenomenon for years, I have a healthy respect for what religion can do to unite, consolidate a people. But also, what it can do to tear apart and destroy.

LPS: It's more than sad. It's devastating (for those of us who lost people we loved), it's disgusting (for all of us who have no choice but to watch this madness unfold around them) and its scary (for all of us who have no idea who - or what - these mad men will go for next).

A: Sigh.

Pesto: You know, I understand Islam (as a result of studying it) and I think the religion is beautiful. Islamic practice in the recent past has bordered on ridiculous. And I don't want to hear a single platitude telling me that the Taliban aren't really Muslims. Because if they're not, then let's constitutionally ban THEM from the fold, forbid THEM for evangelizing and put THEM all up in a mosque and shoot them. *bus*

Doc: I'm sorry you have to go through that. And I'm sorry you're surrounded by people who make you feel like that. I have some very good friends from this community, and I think that I don't have the moral, religious - HUMAN - authority to declare their beliefs to be any less than mine. But that's my stance on it. Hopefully you WILL find others out there who feel as I do.

K: I hope s/he and his/her family is fine.

Deepak Iyer said...

X: I have sufficient respect for religion, but my comment was about conventional religion -- where everything is taken verbatim from religious texts. Unless a religion evolves, it will die. That's almost obvious from where I see it.

And it is conventional religion that destroys. Evolved religion has the benefits of unification, without its perils. It's still not foolproof, but a huge step forward.

Asma said...

Well written post Xeb. Thanks for being the voice of insanity and reminding us that we are not so hopeless as a nation after all.

Reminds me of how Ibn e Insha once wrote that long since we only declare everyone kafir .. its very rare that we convert people to Islam; we only love throwing them out. Islam is such a beautiful religion and what a stigma we are making out of it: showing to the larger world.

I was deeply saddened when 85+ martyrdom and 150+ injured (to be exact)failed to get a few hundreds out yet the same Pakistanis were willing to shed their blood at the hue and cry of Palestinians. Isnt it sheer hypocrisy? When we stop caring about my own brother but would be willing to do anything for the brother of my neighbor?