There is some confusion among the twitterati about the “tangent” in regards to the column by Mosharraf Zaidi which anchors the second part of my post on Ahmadi legal history.
So allow me to be frank here. Zaidi writes:
Most Pakistanis, however, far and widely disconnected from what has come to represent “liberal” in Pakistan, would rather stay silent. There is surely a degree of shame and guilt for living in a country that has, even if it is by some degrees of separation, essentially participated in ghettoising an entire community. For most Pakistanis, however, there’s something more important than this shame. There is a fierce commitment to Islam.
This narrative of overarching religious devotion needs to be understood for what it is. Most Pakistanis are not particularly religious, but are very, very particularly devoted to the symbols of their religion. There is scarcely a symbol more central to Pakistani Muslims than the life, times and person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. The flat and comprehensive finality of the Holy Prophet is non-negotiable.
To reconstruct: the majority of Pakistanis are fiercely committed to Islam; their fierceness coalesces around the finality of the Prophet and this fact is “non-negotiable”. Over the history of Pakistan, there has emerged a “democratic discourse” which has concluded that Ahmadis are not Muslim; which is reflected in the Constitution.
This is an illiberal statement, and I called it “absurd” on historical grounds. I cited 80 years of case work (with the final determination as late as 1969) which concludes on evidences both internal and external to the religious debates that Ahmadis are Muslim and they do believe in the finality of the Prophet. In the earlier post, I attempted to show that the anti-Ahmadi movement, since the 1880s, was patently political and manufactured by religious elites. That does not scream “democratic discourse” to me. Lastly, that the very labeling of Ahmadis as non-Muslim was a political (and later, judicial) coup which went against both communal practices and legal precedence.
To casually assert, in a column ostensibly against Ahmadi exceptionalism, that these are “uncomfortable religious conversations” is to cede both the moral and the legal ground to those who terrorize and de-humanize citizens of Pakistan.
I happen to like Zaidi’s work. This post was in the works before I read his column but it crystallized for me the need to engage directly in this narrative because I would rather convince him: Ahmadis are Muslim; they are citizens; the processes through which they were declared non-Muslim, non-citizen were un-democratic, tyrannical processes; we either stand with them against the terrorists or we all suffer their fate.