The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is mourning once again at the loss of another one of its own, all in the name of faith. This new victim of terrorism was a 50 year old successful cardiologist, Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar from Ohio on a humanitarian mission to his native country, Pakistan.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community established in 1889 in Qadian (India) is one of the oldest Muslim organizations in the United States. Its followers are considered heretics due to their belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian as the much awaited Messiah and Mahdi of the latter days.
Ahmadi Muslims join other minorities in Pakistan who are often the target of hate crimes and even death. But,“The plight of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan has reached a dangerous tipping point,", said Amjad Mahmood Khan, the National Director of Public Affairs of the Ahmadiyya Community as he testified in front of the U.S. House’s subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and other International organizations on May 22, 2014.
In 1974, Pakistan passed a constitutional amendment declaring Ahmadi Muslims to be “non-Muslims”. In 1984, Pakistan passed anti-blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws criminalizing religious practices of Ahmadi Muslims, which are punishable by fine, imprisonment or capital punishment. To date, militant extremists have murdered hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan with impunity.
Just last year, seven Ahmadi Muslims were killed and 16 survived attempted assassinations as reported by annual persecution report by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
It hurts because my own family has been a victim. When the first sectarian violence against the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community broke out in 1953, my maternal grandfather’s house in Lahore was one of the many that got burnt in the riots.
One would think that as an Islamic Republic, Pakistan would be taking the lead in providing religious freedom and protecting all its citizens from harms way, something that Islam guarantees as a religion of peace. But, it is a shame that it has failed to provide neither, giving “Islamophobes” more fuel to attack Islam.
My heart aches to say this but the overall condition of the country has reached a new low and if you belong to a minority (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Hazaras, and Ahmadi Muslims), then neither you nor the houses of worship could be considered safe.
Having just been to my native Pakistan a few months ago, it is mind boggling to understand the amount of stress the common man has to endure every day and specially those who are the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It is a shame that many have been forced to flee the country to seek asylum in foreign lands in pursuit of peace and safety since their motherland fails to do so.
God says in the Quran (2:257) very clearly that, “There will be no compulsion in faith”.
And I am sure that the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah would cry to see what has become of his nation where he dreamed that every citizen would be free to practice the faith of his choice.
According to Mr. Khan 40% of all cases filed in the country are against Ahmadi Muslims. An editorial published in the Daily Times “We have let down the Ahmedi community” on March 27, 2014 summed up the present Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s situation as “a slow genocide instigated by hate and warped religious ideology” and unfortunately, I agree.
May God elevate the status of Dr. Qamar in heaven and bless his family with strength and courage to go through this tough time (Amen).