Pakistan's forgotten minorities: Who has given these so-called ‘Muslim clerics' the authority to arbitrate on issues of belief and disbelief?
Early on a Monday morning last month (May 26), I was awoken by a very distressing text message which read ‘an Ahmadi doctor has been martyred outside of Bahishti Maqbara [an Ahmadi Muslim cemetery in Rabwah, Pakistan]’.
I did not know who this message referred to, but just the mere fact that he was an innocent, a brother, meant my heart immediately sunk with anguish, and the only comfort I could muster was through recalling the heart wrenching words of Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him), “I only complain of my sorrow and my grief to God.” (Q. 12:87)
Within a few hours, the news of this heinous act had spread across the world through both the mainstream and social-media – as devastated Ahmadi Muslims and outraged non-Ahmadis took to Twitter and Facebook to question the morality of Pakistan and simply to ask ‘Why?’
I still had not fully come to terms with this brutal attack when my eyes came across devastating graphic images of a middle-aged man lying in the street - his pearl-white qamees (shirt) covered in blood, his eyes-open, yet lifeless. Those images can never be washed away.
Further details of the incident gradually came to light - the victim was an cardiologist, Dr Mehdi Ali Qamar, a dual American and Canadian citizen who travelled to Pakistan during a sabbatical only to treat the sick for free.
He was murdered by two unidentified assailants in front of his wife and two year old son.
Learning of this, I thought that the barbarity of this atrocious crime had surpassed all human boundaries! How can one even begin to describe such a tragedy? How can one come to understand the trauma of the family?? What comfort, solace or condolences can be offered?
So, why did this monstrous act take place? Did someone have a personal vendetta that they felt needed to be settled? Or was this man so cruel that by serving humanity he was deserving of death?
The reality is that his sole crime was being an Ahmadi Muslim – a man of peace.
The so-called 'Islamic' Republic of Pakistan continues to endorse entirely un-Islamic laws that afford protection to those who incite hatred toward Ahmadi Muslims and other minority groups. Everyday, this lawless land is making headlines for extreme crimes committed on its soil, openly inviting people to raise their fingers at Islam and its noble Prophet (peace be upon him).
A day or two after the killing of Dr Mehdi, a pregnant woman was stoned to death outside the Lahore High Court by her own close family members in open view. She was murdered in a so-called ‘honour killing’ – could anything be less honourable than such a brutal attack?
Then the case of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death under draconian blasphemy laws for the past four years, still awaiting the hearing of her appeal.
As an Imam, my question to the so-called ‘Muslim clerics’ that incite the innocent public and issue edicts of death against Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and the members of other minority groups, is simply this - can such examples be found in the noble life and example of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him)? Never! And so who has given them the authority to arbitrate on issues of belief and disbelief? How do they justify the loss of innocent lives?
Muslims are duty-bound to show patience and forbearance at such tragic moments as this is the teaching of Islam and example of its Founder (peace be upon him) - to remember the family of a martyr, to continue to peacefully try and eliminate all kinds of oppression and to support those that have no voice.
I pray that one day I am awoken not by the news of yet another tragic killing, but by the news that Pakistan has abandoned its unjust laws and taken a stand against all forms of cruelty.
Abdul Quddus Arif (24) is a British Muslim. He has studied Modern Languages and Theology and serves an Imam and missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC), one of the oldest Muslim communities in the UK. He has served at Mosques in Scotland, Bangladesh, Ghana, Spain and Pakistan, and currently works as an editor and translator in the international publications department of the AMC.
He can be follow on twitter: @aqarif
Belfast Telegraph Digital