Kill, in the name of religion

Published: June 15, 2011

According to a recent news report, an organisation called All-Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is disseminating pamphlets declaring Ahmadis as wajibul qatl (liable to be murdered) for their religious beliefs. The local police authorities, in their usual style, have swept the issue under the carpet.

Pakistan is a boiling pot of sectarian strife.

A history of hate

Sectarian discord escalated in the 1980s and Pakistan became a proxy battle ground for the Sunni and Shia organisations, heavily funded by Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively. However, the history of sectarian violence in Pakistan goes back to the days of its inception.

1953: When Pakistan was still trying to establish itself as a stable state, the anti-Ahmadi riots, led by Jamat-i-Islami and Majlis-e-Khatame Nabuwwat, broke out in Punjab. The demands presented by the leaders of the anti-Ahmadi agitations were, to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims, the removal of an Ahmadi foreign minister Zafrullah Khan and the ban on employment of Ahmadis in government service.

1974: Following another violent spell of riots, a constitutional amendment was unanimously passed by the national assembly, which expelled Ahmadis from the folds of Islam, against their wishes.

1984: President General Zia further curbed the liberties of the Ahmadi community by promulgating Ordinance XX. According to this ordinance, Ahmadis lost the right to call themselves Muslim or to perform Islamic rituals.

Once the Ahmadi issue was dealt with, the focus of sectarian violence shifted in mid-late 1980s.

March 23, 1987: The first incident of sectarian aggression targeting ‘mainstream’ Muslims occurred when Ahl-i-Hadith leader Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, along with others, was killed in a blast.

1988: Arif Hussain, the leader of Tehrik-i-Nifaze Fiqha-i-Jafaria was assassinated.

1990: Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of Sipah-i-Sahabah, was murdered.

Whose Islam is it anyway?

For years extremist Sunni organisations have been persistent with their demand of declaring Shias as a non-Muslim minority. Even today, these organisations distribute pamphlets which call for ousting of Shias from Islam. People with extremist mindsets are blinded by hate and insecurity. They call themselves Muslim but fail to comprehend that Islam urges to protect the rights of minorities. Those who argue that Ahmadis are not just an ordinary ‘minority,’ are hypocrites, and should remember that if they continue to nurture this argument, they would annihilate us one day. After persecuting Ahmadis, and killing Shias, the extremists would fight among themselves on petty issues such as not showing their ankles during prayers because one sect considers it part of the faith, while the other considers it an inconsequential act. In fact, a man was killed for that very reason by the Taliban in Swat a couple of years ago.

Sadly, not only the police force, but the politicians have also turned a deaf ear to the increasing threat to the lives and property of Ahmadis in Faisalabad.

On June 12, 2011 Ali Hasan Dayan, a senior researcher and Pakistan’s representative in the Human Rights Watch, asked Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif via twitter:

@CMShahbaz Sir, #HRW would like to ask about your steps to address incitement to murder of Ahmedis in Punjab.

Dayan further added that Human Rights Watch will formally write to him about the situation.

Incidentally, on the same day, CM Sharif communicated with Indian journalist Barkha Dutt about the name change of Faisalabad saying that:

@BDUTT Lyallpur has become Faisalabad

One can’t put help feeling that this tone shows a that the politician doesn’t care about the threatened minorities of his province. A politician of his calibre should foresee that inciting hate against Pakistan’s most persecuted group will worsen the situation.

It is worth mentioning that historically Punjab has been the province that spearheaded the anti-Ahmadi movement. During the 1953 anti-Ahmadi riots, it was widely claimed that the Punjab government of Mumtaz Daultana supported the riots to divert attention from its failed economic policies.

Keeping a volatile history in view, turning a blind eye to the issue of death threats is akin to sanctioning the irrational hatred and killing of the innocent people.

It is time to realise that the gangs of armed men in religious garb are greater threat to the peace and stability of religion and Pakistan as opposed to the peaceful minority.

Sixty-four years on, sectarian divisions run so deep in our society that one cannot help but ask the question:

If Pakistan were not created in the name religion, would things have been different today?


Ayesha Umar

Interested in current affairs, cultural and gender-based issues Ayesha religiously tweets @ayeshaesque. In her free time she blogs at Fifth Junction and indulges in random photography.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Atif S Ahmad

    Despite of all the hardships and persecution faced by Ahmadiyya Muslim Community we never protested nor killed anyone in return. We prove the truth of Ahmadiyyat “The Real Islam” by Quran and Hadith while our opponents use Gun and Grenade, still they can never ever defeat us !!Recommend

  • sumeet

    your last lines threatens the very foundation of ideology of pakistan ie two nation my opinion allama iqbal dreamt of the pakistan where people will follow the real teaching of islam in a peaceful manner.but pakistan proved him the damage has been done,now separate religion from politics and stop it from interfering in social life.spread the real teachings of islam and control the hate filled of luck.Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    One word to describe the whole situation… Intolerance….Making an Islamic state is not the best of the ideas to start with. Reason is very simple, due to many sects and different interpretations there is no such thing as an Islamic state… It is because of this aspect of creation of our country that everyone has taken the religion on street and killing for mere differences. Even if the difference are as large as the tallest mountain in the world, still killing in the name of religion is an injustice and the act is like giving a bad name to the religion itself.
    Religion is a personal matter of every individual soul and society should be built around this notion. State should not have a religion and taking the religion on the road should be strictly prohibited. Making the religion in house is the only solution in my opinion, the way things are going these days… Recommend

  • siddiqui

    What a sad little piece.
    Most people that come here know these facts.
    Who return my 3 minutes?Recommend

  • Usman Waraich

    We forgot the essence of Quaid’s speech to the constituent assembly – Your religion has got nothing to do with the business of state….A christian, a hindu or a parsi can and does serve Pakistan as well as any muslim for he is also a Pakistani. No body has monoply over patriotism and especially not the religous leaders who called this land KAFIRISTAN..

    Sadly, the educated lot has always acted cowardly (with some exceptions) and the more vocal bigots have always managed to suffcoate their whimpering protests.

    I say this to the so called intelligentia / civil society of Pakistan who beleive in equal oppurtunity for every citizen of this country – GET READY !!!! things have now come to a point that once these bigots are done with the culling of non muslims and the ahmadis and the shias, they are going to come after you as well….so its time to stand up and be counted or hold your peace…as end seemingly is not far…Recommend

  • murassa sanaullah

    it is sad to know how low have we become , we are becoming a nation of controversies, we are always asking for our rights but are not giving rights to others .Recommend

  • Word Life

    A lot of people’s mind would be at ease, if they read the following from Pakistan Penal Code:

    298-B. Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places:

    (1) Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation-

    (a) refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as “Ameer-ul-Mumineen”, “Khalifatul- Mumineen”, Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen”, “Sahaabi” or “Razi Allah Anho”;

    (b) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as “Ummul-Mumineen”;

    (c) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family “Ahle-bait” of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as “Ahle-bait”; or

    (d) refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship a “Masjid”; shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

    (2) Any person of the Qaudiani group or Lahori group (who call themselves “Ahmadis” or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation refers to the mode or form of call to prayers followed by his faith as “Azan”, or recites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

    298-C. Person of Quadiani group, etc., calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith:

    Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.Recommend

  • Alm757

    God will be the Judge not we. Quran very well dictate the roll of Prophets please read chapter 18 Sura-e- Alkhalaf which very clearly explained the truthfulness of the prophet sent by Almighty Allah.Young generation should read the books of Ahmadiyya and find the truth by themselves instead of listening false allegation from their leaders. Nowadays its easy to find truth go to or and find the truth by yourself if you are Righteous and and have fear of Allah. killing of Innocent people is not a right path for HEAVEN.
    God Bless you AllRecommend

  • Malik,M

    A very bold article which is addressing the root cause of problem in Pakistan. This secretarian violence in not only creating hatrism among the people belonging to different sects but has also destoryed the core fabric of Pakistani nation. I can forsee that the ball does not stop rolling against ahmadis, a peace loving community who never ever have preached haterism against, not only to any sect but neither against any country. Wake up people, eventually it will be Shias, Ismailis, Ahle sunat, and many others who will be declared KAFIR! Stand up against these hate mongers people and defend your country, your future and the future of your children. I salute the writer for her courage. Keep up the good work and may God protect you form these evil maulvis ( so called the Ulamas of Islam?)Recommend

  • Muhammad Raza Ayub

    Well written!
    I solely agree to the fact that we have become a hub for religious extremism and sectarianism.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Please remove the pamphlets. It is so heart-breaking.Recommend

  • M. Uzair Sukhera

    I find the whole article biased towards Ahmedis (with a mix of references on shia-sunni). Are they the only minority here? What bout christians, hindus?

    The article is biased towards one faction and does not cover the issue properly.Recommend

  • Rumx

    Minorities do have their rights which should be guaranteed by the government. However, as I felt, this article is not just about a minority but rather about the conflict between two groups of slightly different beliefs. I couldn’t help but notice that while being defensive and proving your point of view, you are doing pretty much the same.

    “Those who agure that Ahmadis are not just an ordinary minority,’ are hypocrites.”

    People who kill in the name of religion are wrong, indeed. But every next person who doesn’t agree with your belief doesn’t make him a hypocrite. Having one faith doesn’t prove that the other person’s belief is wrong. This goes for both the groups standing on the different sides of river, not just one.Recommend

  • saleem

    I agree to the related religious news and comments may apper in the express tribune

  • Ayesha

    @M. Uzair Sukhera: This blog was primarily about the distribution of pamphlets and I based my argument on that. I do agree when we talk of minorities it also cover Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and others. In past I have written about minority rights in general and my next blog is also related to Christians’ rights in Pakistan.

    @Rumx: I hear you. Read my original blog at Fifth Junction. It seems the editors tailored the sentence which changed the meaning. It read like that: “Those who argue that Ahmadis are not just ordinary ‘minority’, they are hypocrites, should remember that nurturing this kind of argument would annihilate us one day.” By “us” I meant we mainstream Muslims.

    Thank you for your comments and feedback.Recommend

  • Malik, M

    M. uzair sukhera,
    I never said that this article is only trying to defend the rights of ahmadis. what I have said is that ” the rolling ball of Haterism does not stop there”, it will keep on rolling and eventually it will wrapped every single person living in pakistan like a burning fire. Have we not seen the attacks against Shiaas, the attacks on the mosque of Sunniis, the attacks on Hindus, christian and many other innocent people. lets not get into debate that who is suffering only. lets prey that Gos give us the wisdom to understand that who are the main culprit behind these secretarian violence. But I will certainley conclude my comment that the violence against Ahmadis are supported by Political echelons for there own wicked agenda. Is this the Pakistan which Mr. Jinnah visioned about. May Almighty Allah protect our country form the Mullahs who preach haterism and nothing else. If you want to learn about true Islam then visit

  • Hasan

    Whose Islam is it anyway?

    As the famous Munir commission summarized the issue, according to his report No two ulema agreed on the ‘definition’ of Muslim. Everyone was a non-Muslim in the eyes of other. It also exposes the pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam.Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    @Atif S Ahmad and Alm757: Please don’t write comments to prove the Ahmadis right… This is not about being right or wrong, it is about the protection that minorities and every citizen deserve… If we start proving right or wrong here, the basic theme of the article would hurt and discussion will go to totally different direction… You are what you are, you beleive what you beleive, right or wrong, you deserve protection from the government, like every citizen of the country… Use any other forum or media to share your point of view….Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Where did my previous comment go?Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    The death of Secularism in Pakistan also meant the death of sanity, reason and tolerance. The blasphemy laws and other similar legislation are a natural outcome of this choice. Today the minorities make up just 3% of the population which for the radicalized population is 3% too many. I wonder whether the reduction of minorities from around 15% of the population at Independence to the current 3% can be called legalized Genocide. Recommend

  • Alien

    ‘If Pakistan were not created in the name religion, would things have been different today?’

    This all summarizes that Two Nation Theory was in fact wrong ???????Recommend

  • BP

    @Atif S Ahmad:
    If news pieces are to go by, I remember reading several times that certain number of men were tortured and killed for straying into an Ahmadi neighborhood. And vice versa.Recommend

  • raheela

    beautifully written,God bless youRecommend

  • http://Leginca siddiqui

    I wonder that all the time. Other times they simply remove a part of your message. which is even worse cos it feels as if you are living in the former East Germany (see the movie The Lives of the Others).

    Apparently ET has two modes of operations; one for their writer and one for commentators:

    their writers have a right like to attack anyone in the guise of a news (see the news report on rangers ceremony by Salman Siddiqui)…
    normal readers cant do that, in fact they are not even allowed to make a harsh rebuttal…

    Apparently, that’s what you can expect from probably the only industry (both English and Urdu press) in Pakistan for which proper education is not required. Recommend

  • Mooed

    ..and what’s the point? is Shahbaz Sharif bound to reply to all the cheapsters and pseudo intellectuals on twitter?Recommend

  • Waseem

    very good blog. The question i fail to understand is that people of Pakistan still don’t realize that their enemy is not America, the resides within. As Hassan Nisar once said few years ago that why are the traitors only born in muslim world, why not in America or England or in other countries. These traitors are no other then the people dressed in mullaism and spreading hatred in our mosque to our innocent children. We should rise up and raise this issue. An issue cannot be resolved unless you go deep into the root of the issue so all the killings that are happening are not because of security lapses. They are because we have these terrorist mullahs running our mosques and teaching hatred. The ordinance XX should be deleted altogather and shia’s and ahmadis and all other sect should learn to respect eachother or deal with the consequences.Recommend

  • The Forbidden Fruit

    What makes people think that by becoming a sociopathic psycho-killer they’d get a cosy place under the Holy Prophet’s flag? These are satan’s men. Neither will they live in peace nor will they let anyone else live peacefully!Recommend

  • Mooed

    ahh I guess this site is also moderated by ahmedis because comments with differentiating view point are not approvedRecommend

  • Awais Khan

    It is unfortunate that Islam is a religion of peace, but it has been exploited by the terrorists and extremists for their own interest.Recommend

  • Tawheed Ahmad Joolfoo

    @M. Uzair Sukhera: Here’s an example – there’s two buildings, one having a raging fire burning it down, while the other has much lesser fire consuming it. Who do you attend to first? – the whatever-jibul-katal is attacking the ahmadis now, so the girl’s writing about it – that’s all there is to it; see the matter at hand first and save however much you can…

    @Word Life: How could those penal codes ever bring you peace of mind (must be sadist…)

    Thxs for the update about the status over there.Recommend

  • http://London Malik

    @M. Uzair Sukhera:

    I find the whole article biased
    towards Ahmedis

    Ahmadis are the only community who have specific apartheid laws against them in the Pakistani constitution which means Pakistan is officially and constitutionally an apartheid state. Pakistan treats Ahmadis like apartheid era South Africa treated its blacks (there apartheid was racial while in Pakistan it’s based on faith), or how Israel treats Palestinians. It’s even worst in Pakistan in the sense that to be Black or Palestinian is/was not itself illegal but in contrats simply being an Ahmadi in Pakistan is illegal due to restrictions on their faith. All Ahmadis live under the constant threat of arrest and prosecution at any time by the state. This is in addition to all the attacks Ahmadis get from the mullahs and terrorists (often one and the same) on a regular bais. Ahmadis are the only community who you have to spit on, on applications for id cards, passport or other official forms. Do you know any another community which is treated with this much contempt by the state itself? This is really reminiscence of the worst part of the dark ages, and it’s the Mullah/Military alliance that has brought Pakistan to this level.

    Yet you find the article biased? Why? Is this an indication of your own bias towards Ahmadis? Not much of a surprise due to your background of Army; a place where civility, and human and citizen nights get little importance and respect.Recommend

  • Alm757

    Repel Evil with that which is best
    The Holy Quran gives an excellent guideline to promote peace and brotherhood and teaches us how to win the heart of others. “And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he between whom and thyself was enmity will become as though he were a warm friend’ (41:35)
    The Holy founder of Islam also advised to exercise patience and try not to retaliate, even in the most critical situation. He said:
    Strong is not the person who overpowers his opponent, rather, strong is the person who controls his temper in anger”. The victory of Mecca is an excellent example of tolerance in the history of mankind, when blood thirsty enemies of Islam were at the mercy of the Holy Prophet of Islam and they all were forgiven without taking any recompense or revenge. This noble characteristic of the Holy Prophet needs to be practiced in this modern age to establish peace and harmony.
    Thus aggression, hostility, mischief and wickedness are against the teaching of Islam and Muslims are commanded to work wholly for peace. visit for true teaching of Islam. God bless you all.Recommend

  • Waseem

    Point is Shahbaz shareef needs to reply to the threats that are in his province. How come the whole meadia and i bet you as well are after rana sanaullah for calling babar awaan wajibul qatl.. all of a sudden your humanity and your inner belif woke up and said oh thats wrong but when its someone else you would love to watch it and probably do it your self.. pity on people like you.. Recommend

  • Hassan Durrani

    Religions are the causes of Hatred and distraction , no doubtRecommend

  • Tawheed Ahmad Joolfoo

    @Hassan Durrani:
    Try reading this book “Philosophy of the teachings of Islam

    and then tell me how can religion be a cause of “hatred and distraction”
    or whether WE of the Ahmadiyya Community can wish evil for other ?!!Recommend

  • Hassan Durrani

    My friend Tawheed Ahmad Joolfoo , Dont take it wrong , iam not targeting your Ahmedian Sect , iam talking about as a whole islam , christanity , jewisn , when did religions had good name after all, Wars , boundaries , division , blood murders , genocides , homo-sides, crusades , jihad all are the causes of ReligionsRecommend

  • mahindar

    This country was not created as an Islamic state, but it was created to provide a safe heaven to the Muslim minority of India, who were threatened by the the ruling Congress party and its Hindu extremist elements.

    When Jinnah envisioned Pakistan, he thought of a land where people would be free to follow their own religion, a secular state where a person’s religion would be his “personal belief” and it wont interfere with the state.

    But sadly this state was hijacked by hate mongering bastards, who think that it is their moral duty to persecute any one who the deem as infidel.

    Jinnah’s Pakistan died the day when the government yielded to the demands of these hate mongers and declared Ahmadis an non-muslims…..Recommend

  • Gin

    Who gave these idiots right to declare anybody wajibul qatl? God created each and every one of us irrespective of religion. By declaring fellow human being wajibul qatl is like killing god himself. Religion is manmade and should be personal. Religion should not be mixed in politics. There should always be separation between state and religion. If a religion preaches hate towards fellow human beings then it cannot be a religion. Those who follow it are bound to end up in hell. Religion is supposed to teach us love, compassion and forgiveness. But these Islamic sallahfists have totally destroyed this notion and hell bent of destroying humanity.Recommend