We Are All Ahmadi V: Erasures

Posted by sepoy on June 01, 2010 · 5 mins read

This picture, posted by Zackintosh on his twitter feed, immediately arrested me. It was taken at/outside the Karachi Press Club, at a gathering meant to show solidarity of the Lahore massacre - sadly, a rather non-event. It was the hand-written white sign in the middle, held high. The gentleman holding up the sign seems mature, and I wonder if he saw the irony - the tragic irony - of his sign. It says: "In Quaid-e Azam's first Cabinet, Foreign Minister Sir Zafarallah, was an Ahmadi." I infer that he invokes this name and this reference to point towards the tolerance and secularism interred in those early days of Pakistan. It is indeed true.

The irony is that this same sign mentioning Muhammad Zafrullah Khan - one of the closest advisors of Jinnah, who helped draft the Lahore Resolution Pakistan, served in numerous capacities including Pakistan's first Foreign Minister, President of the United Nations General Assembly, Judge at Hague - would be easily found at any anti-Ahmadi rally from 1934 to 1954.

The Ahrar, as an organization, had two tenets: socialism and anti-Ahmadism. Maybe not so much on the socialism but certainly very firm on the anti-Ahmadism. The founder Shah 'Ataullah Bukhari demanded in 1934 that Zafarullah Khan be removed from all offices. This they kept up throughout the next decade and into the 1950s. Zafarullah Khan was always the stand-in for the " secret Ahmadi control" over Pakistan (a position soon to be filled by Zionists/US/etc.)

From Nasr's work on Jama'at-i Islami:

The Ahrar continued to articulate economic grievances in Islamic terms, but with a new twist; it tied the demand for economic justice to the Islamicity of the state by questioning the status of the Ahmadis. Every harangue against the government policy and demand for greater Islamicity were accompanied by complaints about the decrepancy between the wealth of the Ahmadi community and the poverty of the Muslim masses: in the homeland of Muslims, it was the Ahmadis who reaped the benefits and the Muslims who suffered hunger and hardship. The strategy was by and large successful, though it was the Ahmadis themselves who set off the final conflict.

On May 17, 1952, the foreign minister turned down Prime Minister Nazimu'ddin's pleas of caution and addressed a public Ahmadi session in Karachi. By openly admitting his religion, Zafaru'llah Khan gave credence to the charge made by the Ahrar that the government was "controlled" by the Ahmadis. For the other Islamic groups and the ulama, who viewed the Ahmadis with opporobrium, the very presence of an Ahmadi minister in the cabinet was proof of the un-Islamicity of the state. The Ahrar and the ulama, infuriated by the foreign minister's actions, organized a protest march; the marchers clashed with the Ahmadis, and there was a riot.

- S.V.R. Nasr. The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama'at-i Islami of Pakistan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994): 133

Nasr does note, elsewhere, the fact that these so-called Muslim parties were adamantly opposed to Pakistan before 1947 and unironically segued into becoming the sole representatives of Muslims after 1949. (( But, I do find the underlying tone of that whole paragraph by Nasr highly objectionable - this insinuation that Zafarullah Khan should have kept quiet or that "Ahmadis themselves set off the conflict". Bad, bad, bad work, Nasr. ))

That Zafarullah Khan's memory has been so thoroughly erased from everyday lives - where theorists often prattle on and on about the long memories of the nation-state, such intense and immediate silencings are rarely noted - is indicative of the changed narrative about Ahmadis in Pakistan - who are now simply heretics and infidels to be eliminated indiscriminately.


Here is another erasure on the tombstone of Dr. Abdus Salam. Look at that word Muslim scraped clean by some industrious employee of the state. I have written previously about Abdus Salam but I didn't mention his Ahmadiyat - just that he was considered an outcast. That was another erasure.


Saadia | June 01, 2010

The irony of the anti-Pakistan islamists migrating to Pakistan and becoming a potent political force is actually a testimony to the moral bankruptcy and opportunism of the political establishment. Nasr describes how Maududi's truck was 'escorted' into Pakistan by the Pakistani army, and how he was welcomed by the Nawab of Mamdot who was looking for ways to undermine Liaquat Ali Khan and Daulatana. The rot runs very deep indeed.

Saadia | June 01, 2010

Oh, and that picture of Dr Abdus Salam's tombstone with the 'Muslim' scrubbed off will haunt me forever.

Qalandar | June 01, 2010

Saadia, you took the words out of my mouth. Searing.

omar | June 01, 2010

Manan, I must commend you on your sterling work on this issue. Thank you.

Sud | June 01, 2010

re: Nasr's powder-keg suggestion, clearly he was thinking about the long held crack-pot academic liberalism that holds "truth to power" on the condition "when it doesn't actually rock the boat." Or maybe Nasr thinks Zafrullah Khan should've been a better secularist and kept his religion on the down-low, taqiyya style, like Nasr senior. Unless of course Nasr's religious expression becomes a great career move, then all best are of. Its not irony if you have to point it out, but serrriously.

Salman | June 01, 2010

What Omar said :)

Salman | June 01, 2010

I knew that Dr. Salam was Ahmadi, but while writing the comment listed below, I distinctly remember thinking if being Ahmadi had something to do with my not remembering Dr. Salam's connection with Sahiwal, and/or that that city didn't hail him as a hero because of him being Ahmadi. Either way I erased this insinuation from my comment. "I wonder, if I had forgotten that he was from Sahiwal, or simply just didn't know." {{site.baseurl}}archives/homistan/dr_abdus_salam.html#comment-159283

C. M. Naim | June 01, 2010

The following appeared in the Daily Times of Tuesday, June 01, 2010: Ahmedi stabbed to death in Narowal LAHORE: An Ahmedi man was stabbed to death in Narowal on Monday, just days after gun, grenade and suicide attacks on the minority group killed more than 80 people, police said. “In the morning, a man identified as Abid Butt climbed the wall of the house of a local Ahmedi family and stabbed Naimat Ullah, 55, and his son Mansoor Ahmed,” local police station chief Riaz Sangha said. Naimat died of knife wounds and his son was rushed to a hospital, he added. The attacker escaped, the officer said. Sangha quoted residents as saying that the assailant threatened to not leave any Ahmedi alive. Salimudin, a spokesman for Lahore's Ahmedi community strongly condemned what he called a “targeted killing”. afp =========================== I have frequently seen in the anti-Ahmadi literature a charge made that Zafarullah Khan refused to join the funeral prayers when Jinnah died as commanded by his Ahmadi belief that all non-Ahmadis are kafir. Someone should do some research on that.

Salman | June 01, 2010

Munir Report: "Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953" http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/index.html -- My experience is that most Ahmadis do not pray behind a non-Ahmadi Imam, and the reason I was given is that in the congregational prayer, the congregation reaches out to the Divine through the Imam/prayer-leader. Hence, the Imam needs to be Ahmadi to reflect the views of the congregation and to represent an Ahmadi namazi. So, from that perspective, I can see why he Zafarullah Khan could have refused (if he did) to join the funeral prayers. I haven't heard that Ahmadis believe non-Ahmadis to be Kafir. My Ahmadi friends tell me that Ahmadis believe (Not unlike other sects) their community/sect to be the chosen people on the right path while the other sects to have gone astray .

Samia | June 01, 2010

Most Ahmadis don't pray behind non-Ahmadis because they feel that those imams are anti-Ahmadi and don't feel right praying behind such an Imam. I don't think it is theological (i.e. that they are kafir), but emotional.

C M Naim | June 01, 2010

A third book came out recently: Simon Ross Valentine, Islam and the Ahmadiyya Jama'at, first published in England and now by the Columbia U Press. My review of it will come out soon in Biblio (New Delhi) -- or so they said. It is a slight book on the sect and its history as compared to the earlier two books--Friedman's being the best. But the new book tells a great deal about the community as it exists in England, and also its interactions with other communities. Mirza Sahib was quite strong in some of his pronouncements, and some of his descendants stronger still. From what I know it was Maulana Muhammad Ali and the so-called Lahori group who put a much more amiable face on the movement and reached out to other Muslims. Muhammad Ali's English translation was very popular at one time, and more acceptably read -- as against Yusuf Ali's -- by the more questioning Muslims until seventy or eighty years back. Even earlier, Abudl Majid Daryabadi, in his autobiography, gave much credit to Muhammad Ali's translation for helping him come back to Islam after his substantial period of rejecting all religions.

Salman | June 01, 2010

You mean to say that my best friend would not pray behind me because he thinks I am anti-Ahmadi? Perhaps, the word "Imam" is confusing since it carries a lot of baggage. By "Imam" I meant, a prayer leader in a congregation of two or more, and nothing more.

Smar | June 01, 2010

Speaking of Amnesia, Erasures and Sectarian Black Holes. I am fascinated by the way Israel's unjust aggression against the Gaza Aid Flotilla has already overshadowed the horrendous carnage in Lahore. The attacks on Friday and the brazen incident at Jinnah hospital don't receive a sliver of reflection and outrage that these events deserve. Once again Israel's outrageous aggression becomes a convenient alibi to run away from any sustained reflection and assessment of what it means to be a Muslim in Pakistan. I was struck by this comparison after reading about the large protest against Israel's aggression that was organized by Imamia Student Organization (ISO) in Saddar Karachi. The ISO represents Shia Muslims, a community that has suffered many similar attacks, yet the ISO felt compelled to take out a protest near American consulate and face lathi charge to express outrage at Israeli atrocities but there is no similar showing of outrage or sympathy solidarity for the victims of recent attacks in Lahore. Its obvious why but that is what makes it so sad. Here is a letter that has been going around in chain mails on May 28 Massacre: Dear All, After the attack on the two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore on Friday, many of you wrote with condolences. I'm deeply grateful for it and it meant a lot to me that you remembered me at this time. It's been an indescribably painful last few days. I'm emailing simply to make a point to everyone in my own circle of friends, some of whom I know and others I hope will have the honesty to see things for what they really are. This is not the first time that something like this has happened. On the 19th of this same month, an ahmadi was shot to the head in Karachi. Last month, three others were murdered in Faisalabad - and the list goes on. This is not unusual by any stretch of the imagination. Though I cannot contest that this attack on Friday was at an unforeseen level, but the point is that the Ahmadis are persecuted on a daily basis. If it is not a gun to the head, it is an assault, a threat, a slur. This has been going on since 1953 in Pakistan and though there have been so many non-ahmadi friends over the years who have supported us and helped us through the hardships, it is simply not enough. The emails I received with condolences and apologies melted my heart and I am grateful for friends like you, but at the same time I can't help but wonder why people like you don't contest this the way it should be contested. I have seen many of you go into the streets dodging gunshots and tear gas to fight for the right to a free and independent judiciary. Yet you sit back and quietly listen to the news as this discrimination towards the Ahmadis is reported on a daily basis. I don't want to offend anyone. What I want is to simply highlight that you all, as Pakistani citizens who have quietly accepted the atrocities committed against us for more than 50 years now, are also part of the reason for what happened on Friday. You have all signed your ID card and passport applications and placed a little tick next to a column asking you to declare that you consider us to be non-Muslims ("I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani to be an impostor prophet and an infidel and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori, Qadiani or Mirzai groups, to be non-Muslims.") As they say, silence is the worst kind of violence and you have all been silent for far too long now. Yet you made so much noise and fought so hard when against a military government and for the judiciary. I don't doubt your sincerity towards me or this community in the least, and I don't doubt your genuine desire to see Ahmadis get the same rights as everyone else, but I just hope you see how your silence has been a part of the problem and how it has propelled hatred towards us. Whether we are wrong or right in our faith is not a matter of concern at this point. Our lives are under threat every day and constitutional laws are in place penalizing every move we make. 'Assalam o Alaikum' can result in three years prison sentences and fines. Members of our community are in prisons for the last God knows how many years because they printed 'Bismillah' on their children's wedding invitation cards. And it doesn't stop there. Even 'posing' as a Muslim is a criminal offence. I just can't help but wonder why you, who found so passionately for the right to a free judiciary, are silent when it comes to these laws. Sadly, and ironically, I heard far more frustration and anger from friends in Pakistan when Facebook was banned than I have in defence of the treatment of Ahmadis. I've only sent this on to people who's friendship I value and I see in them the capacity to understand that this is not meant to be offensive, but only a reality check. I just can't tell myself that condolences and apologies are enough anymore when so much has happened, and when I have seen you fight for other issues so passionately. Feel free to pass this on to anyone who you believe has the decency to see things as they are.

Fatima Y | June 02, 2010

Self-censorship...the curse of being a Pakistani....

Samia | June 03, 2010

//Perhaps, the word “Imam” is confusing since it carries a lot of baggage. By “Imam” I meant, a prayer leader in a congregation of two or more, and nothing more.// Sorry I misunderstood. In that case, then I don't see why anyone would have a problem. I have not noted anything like this. But then again, I tend to stay secular with friends and acquaintances.

Samia | June 05, 2010

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=243223 //While Sir Zafarullah's refusal to attend the funeral of the Quaid-e-Azam was widely talked about, people were not told the reason for this refusal: that the funeral prayers of the founder of Pakistan were led by the same Maulana who had declared Ahmedis wajibul qatl.//

Usama Hussain | June 11, 2010

Sir Zafrullah refused to offer prayers behind an Imam who had not only declared Ahmedis "wajib ul qutl" but he was also known for his slander against the founder of the community. Furthermore, in the 1965 nd 1971 war, Ahmedi soldiers offered namaz-e-janaza of some non ahmedi martyrs. Besides, i have also heard that Sir Zafrullah refused to meet Zia ul Haq because of the dictators harsh laws against Ahmedis. He asked his attendants to treat Zia with hospitality but didnt agree to meet him in his last days. Has anybody done research on the role Sir Zafrullah played in the independence of Morocco and his contributions to the Arab cause?

abaad ali | August 09, 2010

dear brrother aslamoalykum i am saw first time .i am in lahhore and saw the hole martyrs body in meo hospital as duty after this my heart is very hard and have no feeling 2 month . this time we spred the message of HAZRAT MASEEH-E-MAOUD as to the hole world and give the massage of tru islam and peace for humankind. this is the onlny way for peace inter the world in ahmaddiyat.if not they face the disaster like flood earthqick and other thing

RIP, Shahbaz Bhatti | Greased Cartridge | March 02, 2011

[...] touch them etc.), becomes a kind of background that one takes for granted as business as usual and “forgets” that it is even there. That’s where the “average, decent guy” or “the [...]

munir | June 27, 2011

I discovered this conversation strand rather late but for what it's worth I knew Sir Zafrullah Khan quite well and as a young man had the opportunity to spend many hours with him. Choudhry Sahib was utterly devoted to Qaid i Azam and wouldn't hear a word against him.I had recently read a book on independence called "Freedom at Midnight" and had given it to him to read.The book paints an unflattering picture of Jinnah, and when Choudhry Sahib returned the book he told me that the picture painted of Jinnah was totally onesided and a distortion of the truth.When I asked whether he could confirm that Jinnah was partial to a drink, he replied "Not in my presence" and would not budge from that position. The subject of Qaid i Azam's janaza also arose and Choudhry Sahib was quite adamant that the reason he did not attend was that the man performing the Janaza prayer (Usmani?) was an arch enemy, of not just the Ahmadi movement (who had abused the founder), but someone who had consistently abused Choudhry Sahib himself in most abusive terms, and declared him to be outside the pale of Islam. Some friends and colleagues had advised him to avoid a controversy by simply not attending and feigning illness, but Choudhry Sahib that would have been dishonest and more to the point he felt duty bound to attend the janaza of a man who he not only regarded as a friend but someone he greatly admired. I pointed out to him that as a young student in the 70's,Pakistani cinema houses would sometimes play the film of the janaza and that the camera would linger on a picture of Choudhry Sahib sitting on a chair during the janaza.The image spoke volumes without the commentator having to say anything.That was the only time that Choudhry Sahib looked rather sad and said that was a pity, as he was following his conscience, and people had misconstrued his honorable intentions. I suppose we all have the widom of hindsight, but suffice to say that is my own first hand account of talking to a truly great man and a Pakistani patriot, who is sadly totally forgotten in Pakistan

munir | June 27, 2011

If this is moderated then the last comment with my email was clearly NOT for publishing - duh!!

munir | June 27, 2011

The moon is made of cheese and the stars are just pixies and fairies in the sky- yup moderator has fallen asleep!!

Aakar Patel | July 01, 2011

Where Zafarullah Khan should in fact have spoken, a couple of years earlier, was during the debate on the Objectives Resolution. He voted down every single amendment proposed by the Hindus despite an excellent debate (excellent only because of the Hindus, unfortunately - the Muslims were all passion and no reason). The Hindus pointed to Jinnah's August 11. Zafarullah Khan stood on the other side in rejecting it. In this he was joined, Munir saheb, by Shabbir Usmani. It's difficult to see why he should not have been punished for what was his own doing.

munir | July 11, 2011

@Aakar Patel I must say that I wasn't aware the Choudhry Sb. was a member of the Assembly, let alone had voted in the debate! I understood that it was Abdur Rab Nishtar who presented the governments position and replied accordingly in the debate. If you can refer me to any record/transcripts of the debates I would be delighted to read them. Many thanks...

Khalid | August 02, 2011

Insecurity breeds discrimination. It seems that the people most intent on making and implementing ridiculous laws were afraid of their own doubt. If one is content with their faith why should they pursue others for their faith. The rightness or wrongness of things are best left for philisophers to debate as long as they do not impinge on individual freedom and rights. Even if someone is shown to be wrong in their beliefs how does that affect the rights of others? The only explanation lies in self doubt and pettiness. We need humane education badly. Only then can our eyes and minds be opened to the truth and we will be free of fear. The life and rights of any one will be as precious to us as our own for we will see in all reflections of ourselves.

An Abandoned Man | August 03, 2011

[...] Manan Ahmed, “We Are All Ahmadi V: Erasures” [...]

Aakar Patel | August 05, 2011

Munir saheb, See Hamid Khan's Constitutional And political history of Pakistan (OUP, Pakistan). Khan has reproduced the debate and the vote.