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Commentary by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him). The most comprehensive commentary on Holy Quran ever written.
Report of The Court of Inquiry
STONING TO DEATH OF AHMADIS IN AFGHANISTAN
AND THE ‘ASH-SHAHAB’
According to the view propounded by the leading ulama before us the punishment for apostasy (irtidad) in Islam is death. If, therefore, Ahmadis are kafirs, a person who becomes an Ahmadi renders himself liable to the capital punishment. This doctrine seems to be in force in Afghanistan as part of the law of the land and several persons there have paid the supreme penalty for their un-Islamic beliefs. The first Ahmadi to experience the rigour of this law was one Abdur Rahman Khan who was executed in the time of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. The second was Abdul Latif who was stoned to death in 1903 during the reign of Amir Habibullah Khan. Abdul Latif was an Afghan national who, after living for sometime with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at Qadian, had himself become an Ahmadi. When he returned to Afghanistan in 1903, he was declared by the Ulama to be a murtadd for having become an Ahmadi and was ordered to be put to death. He was fixed alive in the ground up to the waist and was then stoned to death. The same fate befell one Ne’matullah Khan who, on the ground of his having become an Ahmadi, was declared by the ulama of Afghanistan to be a murtadd and on 31st August 1924 was publicly stoned to death at Sherkot.
The execution of Ne’matullah Khan gave rise in India to some controversy about the punishment of apostasy in Islam. Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, a scholar of Deoband, wrote on the subject a pamphlet called ‘Ash-shahab’. The first part of this document was devoted to establishing that Ahmadis were apostates (murtadds) and the second to proving that the appropriate penalty in Islam for apostasy (irtidad) is death.
This pamphlet had remained in oblivion for about thirty years bat some-time before March 1950, Qazi Ehsan Ahmad Shujabadi obtained the permission of its author who had now become Sheikh-ul-Islam-i-Pakistan, to reprint and publish it. The permission was granted and the pamphlet began constantly to be quoted and cited as a fatwa in the speeches of the Ahrar. In a public meeting held in Company Bagh, Rawalpindi, from 14th to 16th April 1950, almost every speaker appealed to the audience to purchase copies of the ‘Ash-shahab’. This was reported to Mr. Anwar Ali, D.I.G., C.I.D., who, by his note, dated the 20th March 1950, drew the attention of the Chief Secretary to the possibility of a person’s getting incited by the fatwa and killing some Ahmadi. Mr. Anwar Ali, however, expressed the opinion that for obvious reasons it was not advisable to take any action against the publication and contented himself merely by suggesting that Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari and other Ahrar leaders who were becoming unbridled should be sent for and formally administered a warning. The Chief Secretary, Mr. Fida Hasan agreed with the D.I.G., C.I.D., that tae banning of the pamphlet would bring the Ahrar into the limelight and that a strong warning would be sufficient. The Adviser for Law accepted this view, and when the file came up to the Governor, Sirdar Abdur Rab Nishtar, on 30th June, he wrote :—
“Previous warnings have not proved effective. A stern warning should be given to the fellows and they should be told that provocative speeches against a group or an individual, particularly when the individuals concerned are distinguished public servants and are performing important State duties, cannot be tolerated. If the Ahrar do not desist from it, the Government shall be forced to take action against them”.
Accordingly a stern warning was given to Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari by the Governor himself. The pamphlet, however, continued to be quoted in speeches at public meetings until the Minister for the Interior saw it. He must have been shocked to realise the implications of the doctrine propounded in this document because he suggested its immediate proscription by the Punjab Government.
In the meantime a report was received of speeches made at an Ahrar conference held at Hafizabad in which Muhammad Ali Jullundri had called Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan a mad dog. Malik Habib Ullah who submitted this report with his comments to the D.I.G., C.I.D., on 19th June 1950, said that unless the tone of the speeches of the Ahrar were controlled Government would have to face quite a few cases of murder or rioting before very long. Mr. Anwar Ali, D.I.G., C.I.D., submitted the case to the Adviser for Law who in turn marked it to the Governor, Sirdar Abdur Rab Nishtar, who said that he would like to talk to D.I.G., C.I.D., about the matter. It was at this stage that Mr. Anwar Ali, D.I.G., C.I.D., took stock of the whole situation and wrote the following note :—
“Lately the Majlis-i-Ahrar has apart from making obscene and indecent references to the founder of the Ahmadiya faith and the present khalifa begun to advocate violence advertently as well as inadvertently. It will be recalled that last year a young Ahmadi officer of the rank of a Captain was brutally attacked and killed at Quetta because he took exception to the conduct of certain anti-Ahmadiya demonstrators. The Majlis-i-Ahrar was opposed to the Partition of the Indian sub-continent. Ahrar leaders enjoyed the confidence of the Congress and used to hob nob with Congress workers. After the Partition they went low. For a time they were afraid of public fury and used to give occasional statements to establish that they were loyal to Pakistan. They were purely on their defensive and did relief work in refugee camps and elsewhere. The members were scattered and for a while the party broke up. Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari shifted from Lahore and took refuge in a village in the Muzaffargarh district. Sheikh Husam-ud-Din announced that his political career had come to an end and opened a joint stock company for the purpose of doing inter-Dominion trade. For a while, Sheikh Husam-ud-Din was kept under detention under section 3 of the P.P.S.A. because his loyalty to Pakistan was questioned. One of his colleagues, Makhdum Shah Banauri, was also interned for sometime.
When the Muslim League in this Province became torn with dissensions and its influence suffered a severe set back, the Ahrar thought that it was high time for them to enter the political field. Accordingly, they started a series of Tablighi Conferences. The burden of Ahrar speakers used to be that they were loyal to Pakistan, that they acknowledged the Muslim League as the only political party in the country, that the Kashmir Jehad was fully justified and that public effort should be mobilised for improving the defence of the country. Later they also began to speak against the Ahmadis. The Majlis has some very effective speakers and soon S. Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari emerged from his retirement and with his eloquent tongue aroused public interest once again in his party. As time went on, the tone of the speeches continued to deteriorate. Other items on the programme were forgotten and the Ahrar began to concentrate on the Ahmadis vilifying them in a most shameful manner. As confidence was gained, Sir Zafrullah Khan, began to be attacked and described as a traitor. The Ahrar are no longer on the defensive but have positively become aggressive. Conditions have now gone too far and bounds of decency and political morality have been surpassed. The following things which are significant have taken place :—
The writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are quoted ad nauseam and twisted and obscene and indecent inferences drawn.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the present khalifa are described as adulterers and given to unnatural indulgences.
The Ahmadis are described as traitors who have no loyalty towards Pakistan.
Sir Zafrullah is vilified and abused. He is often described as an ‘ass’ and as a ‘knave’ and it is imputed to him that he will barter Kashmir to safeguard Ahmadi interests at Qadian.
Alarm is created in the public mind by giving out that Pakistan is governed by Ahmadis who are traitors. In pursuance of this plan lists of army and civil officers who are Ahmadis, are often published.
S. Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari has often said that if Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had claimed prophethood in his lifetime, he would have killed him with his own hands.
At a recent Ahrar meeting passions were raised so much that a man in the audience got up and volunteered to kill Mirza Bashir-ud-Din.
At a meeting at Multan which was addressed by S. Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, a man got up and asked if he should go and kill Sir Zafrullah Khan.
A booklet entitled ‘Ash shahab’ written by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani in which, it is made out that the Ahmadis are ‘murtadds’ and, therefore, deserve to be killed by every Muslim, has been reprinted and is being circulated (This book was written by the late Maulana when a controversy of had arisen about the lynching of two Ahmadis in Afghanistan.)
Against this, the Ahrar have not made any constructive contribution for the manifold problems, economic, social, political, etc., which confront Pakistan. They have practically no political programme except perhaps the desire to win supporters for the forthcoming elections.
Public memories are tragically short. In spite of the fact that about two years ago the Ahrar leaders were looked upon with distrust and suspicion, they are able to attract large audiences whenever they address public meetings. There are few who question their bona fides or even care to ask why all this fuss is made about the Ahmadis. The Ahrar have partially achieved their objective; they have rehabilitated themselves and will before long emerge as a political party not necessarily on the side of the Muslim League. They have their counterpart in India as well. If they are sincere, they should have dissolved their organisation and should have become Muslim Leaguers.
The Ahrar leaders probably do not realise that they are playing with fire. A certain amount of buffoonery can be overlooked, but where feelings are inflamed to such an extent that murders, riots, the heaping of insults, etc., are threatened, a halt must be called. It may not be advisable to proceed, against the Ahrar leaders under the Penal Code (in order to avoid raising a further controversy), but their activities being prejudicial to the, maintenance of public safety and public order, the following suggestions might be considered:—
Action should be taken where active violence is preached either under section 3 of the P.P.S.A. or for the abetment of the offence concerned.
Abuse and oblique insinuations against Sir Zafrullah Khan emanating from Ahrar leaders should on no account be tolerated. Any one who defames a Cabinet Minister in public, should be proceeded against under section 21 of the P.P.S.A.
Indecent and obscene speeches which corrupt public morals and outrage public decency, should not be tolerated. Often Ahrar speakers have said that Mahatma Gandhi and their khalifa slept together. Such abominable and nauseating humour should not be tolerated particularly in an Islamic State.
Lastly the question of declaring the Majlis-i-Ahrar as an unlawful association under section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908, should be seriously considered.
H. A. L. will recall that the Hon’ble Minister for the Interior expressed it as his opinion that the book entitled ‘Ash-shahab’ which advocates violence against the Ahmadis should be immediately proscribed. It will also be recalled that he mentioned quite rightly that unless action is taken at this stage against the Ahrar party and its workers, its popularity may have increased manifold and later action might give them the role of martyrs apart from creating practical difficulties. I might also mention that intelligent and sane people do not want deprave utterances on the part of Ahrar leaders to be countenanced.
I will be failing in my duty if I do not point out to Government that the atmosphere aroused by Ahrar leaders is pregnant with dangerous possibilities and may lead to individual cases of violence against Ahmadis".
This note was marked by the D.I.G., C.I.D., to the Chief Secretary who agreed that the ‘Ash-shahab’ should be proscribed and action taken under section 3 of the Punjab Public Safety Act where active violence was preached, or where any other offence was committed, for its abetment. As regards the proposal for launching a prosecution where Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan was defamed, he suggested that this should be done only if that Minister himself agreed to such course. As regards the proposal to declare the Ahrar an unlawful association, he remarked that the matter could wait for sometime more. The file was marked to the Adviser for Law who on 11th June 1950 wrote a long note agreeing with the proscription of the ‘Ash-shahab’ and stating that the strong warning given by him to Master Taj-ud-Din, the President of the Majlis-i-Ahrar, had had no effect and suggesting that the Ahrar leaders should be sent for and another stern warning given to them. He, however, remarked that the Ahrar were not advocating violence in their speeches but merely attacking the Ahmadiya faith, a course which was popular with the average Muslim, and that any action against them for their attack on Ahmadis and their faith will enhance the popularity of the Ahrar and make them martyrs. He, therefore, advocated caution and discretion in dealing with them for their activities. This note was placed before the Governor, Sirdar Abdur Rab Niahtar, who approved of it. The Governor remarked that earlier he had spoken to Maulvi Ghulam Ghaus Sarhaddi of Hazara and later to Qazi Ehsan Ahmad Shujabadi, warning them that if they overstepped the limits and continued making speeches containing incitement to violence, the Government would have to take action against them. He said that these warnings and that given by the Adviser for Law to Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari had had no effect and suggested to the Chief Secretary to speak to Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari about it. Later the Governor decided himself to talk to Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari. Accordingly Master Taj-ud-Din was sent for and after warning him the Governor recorded the following note:—
“Master Taj-ud-Din, President of the Majlis-i-Ahrar could be contacted only last night and he came to see me this morning at 8 a.m. I told him that while the Government does not want to interfere with the religious activities of any person or organisation, it cannot tolerate activities which are likely to result in the breach of peace. I informed him, that some months ago Maulvi Ghulam Ghaus, a Frontier Ahrar leader, came to see me and I spoke to him about this aspect of the activities of the Ahrar. Later on Qazi Ehsan Ahmad saw me and I explained the position to him also, but it was unfortunate that in spite of this the tone of the speeches of the Ahrar leaders was, (generally speaking, provocative. The warnings that ware given to Ahrar by H. A. L. through Master Taj-ud-Din under my instructions have also proved ineffective. The speeches of the Ahrar are not confined to legitimate criticism of the religious beliefs of ‘Ahmadis’. Some of their speakers indulge in utterances which may lead to trouble. This state of affairs cannot be tolerated by the Government and if the Ahrar did not desist from this attitude, Government will be forced to take suitable action against them in the interests of law and order of the Province. I further told him that it is believed and not without justification, that the conferences held by Ahrar under the garb of khatm-i-nubuwwat are really meant to farther their political end. The object is to gain popularity among the Muslim masses who are naturally averse to Ahrar on account of their pre-Partition activities. I also told him that the people are not so devoid of sense as not to see through the game which some of the Ahrar leaders are playing. Day in and day out they hurl abuses upon the Foreign Minister of Pakistan and a large number of high military and civil officers of Pakistan Government who are ‘Ahmadis’. Though the propaganda is given a religious colour, the real object is believed to be to create disaffection in the minds of the people against the Pakistan Government for entrusting responsible posts to such persons. A short while ago a long list of military officers who were described as ‘Qadianis’ was published by the paper which supports Ahrar. This can legitimately be interpreted to mean an attempt on the part of Ahrar to damp the zeal of the Musalmans for Pakistan Army. This is particularly significant when one finds Ahrar referring to the policy of the Government of Afghanistan towards ‘Ahmadis’. It is said in speeches that the Afghanistan Government condemn people of this faith to death and in the same text the attention of the people is invited towards the attitude of the Pakistan Government with regard to them. This comparison, may be interpreted to have been intended to create hatred against the Pakistan Government. I told him that so far the Muslim League Government have not come to the field to expose the activities of Ahrar but if the Ahrar go on like this, they shall have to come forward and remind the people of the past activities of this organisation, which would, in my opinion, condemn them for ever. I remarked that it was really strange for the Ahrar to rouse the feelings of the Muslims of Pakistan against ‘Ahmadis’ on the ground that a portion of the Gurdaspur district which at present forms part of India would have come to Pakistan if ‘Ahmadis’ had not adopted a certain attitude alleged by the Ahrar, while all their lives they, the Ahrar leaders, have been trying to hand over the whole of Pakistan to Hindus by opposing the Partition of India and supporting the Congress.
2. Master Taj-ud-Din replied that it was painful for him to find that I took such a view of their activities. He said that he had been trying to impress upon the Ahrar speakers to avoid saying anything which may create any embarrassment for the Government or which may result in the breach of peace. He promised to convey my observations to the leaders of his party and assured me that he would do his best that in future’ the Government is not given any cause for complaint”.