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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on the Situation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan
Report on the Situation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

WEDDING CARD CASE
“Our patience has reached its limits and we are only tolerating these people in this country”
Mr Farooq Haider, Additional Advocate General

The following case is a typical example of the cases that have been brought against Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan under section 295C, which carries the death penalty upon conviction.

BACKGROUND

In May 1992, Nasir Ahmad, an Ahmadi Muslim, had wedding invitation cards printed for the wedding of his daughter. The cards contained traditional Islamic terms and prayers.

The ceremony wedding place on May 15, 1992. The following day the head of the local Khatam e Nubawwat organization, Mehr Shaukat Ali, lodged a complaint against Nasi Ahmad and twelve others at the local police station.

He alleged that the accused had committed an offense by printing Islamic terms on the wedding cards. The offending terms were:

  • Assalamo alaikom (peace be on you)
  • Bismillah hir Rahmanir Rahim (In the name of Allah, Most Beneficient,Most Merciful)
  • Nikah Masnoonah (marriage contract)
  • Nahmadahu wa Nusalle ala Rasooli Kareem (we invoke blessings of God for our eminent Prophet)

CHARGES

The local police registered a case against thirteen persons under Sections 298C and 295C. 298C carries up to three years imprisonment. Section 295C carries the death penalty. The provision for life imprisonment was struck down by the Federal Shariat Court and so now the only possible sentence under 295C is death.

All those whose names appeared on the weddding cards as invitees were charged. These include a 9 month old infant, Shah Sikander Bakht, and three non-Ahmadis.

Nasir Ahmad and his son Babar were arrested on May 17. Babar was later released; the bail application of Nasir Ahmad was rejected by the magistrate. The sessions court also rejected his bail application.

The appeal on behalf of Nasir Ahmad was fixed for July 14. The bail of the three non-Ahmadis and two women was accepted and the judgment on the other pleas was reserved. Later, they were rejected. The Lahore High Court ruled that the terms on the wedding card defiled the Prophet of Islam.

A leave to appeal was filed on August 6. On August 10, a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice A.S. Salaam granted bail to all Ahmadis in both cases. Nasir Ahmad was released from jail after 86 days.

PROSECUTION'S CASE

In the case that followed, the Advocate General charged the accused with three crimes:

  1. The use of Islamic terms by Nasir Ahmad defiled the Prophet and so earned the death penalty under 295C.
  2. The accused had deliberately and maliciously used the Islamic expressions on the wedding cards to outrage the religious feelings of Muslims and so had committed an offense under 295A, punishable with 10 years.
  3. The accused had used expressions which directly or indirectly implied that he was a Muslim. This offense is punishable by 3 years under 298C.

Mr Farooq Haider, Additional Advocate General stated:

"Our patience has reached its limits and we are only tolerating these people in this country"

COURT'S DECISION

The Supreme Court observed:

“After hearing the learned counsel for the parties at length, we find that a serious question which requires examination is whether defiling takes place exfacie by the written or spoken words or the act of the person accused of the offence is to be seen keeping in view the totality of the milieu, including necessarily the faith, the intention, the object, and the background of the person using them. We have got the impression prima facie that exfacie use of these expressions does not create in a Muslim, or for that matter anyone else, any of the feelings of hurt, offense or provocation etc etc, nor is it derogatory to the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, or Muslims. It is only when the person reading or hearing them goes into the deep background of the person using them and brings his own special knowledge of the faith, beliefs and latent intentions of such an accused, that the alleged results are likely to follow.”

The Supreme Court held that in view of the serious questions arising out of the application and a possible death sentence, an authoritive ruling is called for at the trial. The Court set aside the ruling of the Lahore High Court and the interim bail of Nasir Ahmad was confirmed.

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Last modified: 4 November 1994
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