THE AHMADIYAS The Ahmadiya community (Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyas) was founded in 1889, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at Qadian, a small town in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab Ghulam Ahmad claimed that he was in direct communion with God and was receiving revelations One of these revelations-Ghulam Ahmad’s claim to prophethood-met with intense opposition and some ridicule from Muslim theologians This claim ran counter to the Muslim doctrine of Khatam-e-Nubuwat (end of prophethood), which holds that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was the last prophet Ghulam Ahmad’s disciples called themselves Ahmadiyas; his detractors called his followers Qadianis, after the place of his birth The proselytizing zeal of the community, its success in bringing in new converts, its ability to run a tight organization that emphasized pursuit of common objectives by the members of the community, and the success achieved by some of its members in business and in Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy brought the Ahmadiyas into direct conflict with a number of religious parties and organizations in Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, the most important religious party in Pakistan, pursued “anti-Ahmadiyaism” with great passion The Jamaat-e-Islami’s near obsession with the Ahmadiya community was to profoundly affect not only the Ahmadiyas but also the political development of Pakistan In 1953, the Jamaat-e-Islami, working in concert with a number of other religious organizations, launched a campaign against the Ahmadiyas The campaign was organized under the banner raised by the Khatam-e-Nubuwat movement which sought to draw the attention of the Muslim citizens of Pakistan to the fact that the Ahmadiyas had presented a serious challenge to one of the basic assumptions of Islam: that Muhammad was the last prophet

The campaign turned violent, especially after equivocation by an exceptionally weak government at the center Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin-a Bengali politician operating in a political world basically hostile to the Bengalis-hesitated to move against the agitators Thus encouraged, the agitators became more confident and began to seek much more than their initial demands Their original objective was to convince the government to declare the Ahmadiyas a non-Muslim community Now they wanted the members of the community to be dismissed from government and the assets of those who had succeeded in business and industry to be confiscated by the government Once it was clear that the movement was out of control of the civilian authorities of Punjab-2,000 people had already been killed in the strife associated with the campaign-the federal government in Karachi enlisted the help of the armed forces to bring peace and order in the troubled areas of the province A limited martial law was declared, and the army, under the command of Lieutenant General Azam Khan, was able to restore order quickly The army’s success in Lahore and other troubled cities of Punjab emboldened it and laid the ground for the coup d’etat of 1958The anti-Ahmadiya movement resurfaced again in 1974 and began to impose pressure on the government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to move against the followers of Ghulam Ahmad Bhutto, by this time confronting a united opposition that had also been gaining strength, decided to split the forces arrayed against him He opted to oblige the ulema (clerics) of Islam, who were spearheading the growing movement against him

The National Assembly passed a bill declaring the Ahmadiyas to be non-Muslims; subsequently, the government prohibited the Ahmadiyas to call their places of worship mosques or to decorate them with verses from the Koran, to use the azan (call to prayer) to summon their members for prayers, and to issue translations of the Koran These moves by the government further encouraged intolerance toward the members of the Ahmadiya community In 1984, 10 years after the decision to declare the Ahmadiyas to be non-Muslims, the community’s head moved to London and called the annual assembly of his followers to be held there That was the first time in nearly a hundred years that the Ahmadiyas had met outside India and PakistanFive million Ahmadiyas are estimated to be still living in Pakistan, whereas another million live outside the country Those living outside are either converts from other religions or have migrated from Pakistan

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