Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Enforced Apostasy: …
Enforced Apostasy: Zaheeruddin v. State and the Official Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan

III. The Decision in Zaheeruddin v. State
E. The Pakistan Court Attributed False Statements to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

The Pakistan Supreme Court gave examples from the writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to illustrate how (non-Ahmadi) Muslims can easily become offended by his teachings. *205 The Pakistan Court presented statements made by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his son, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, that were taken out of context, mistranslated or falsified. *206 Furthermore, the inclusion of highly religious commentary critiquing others' religious beliefs is unsuitable in a judicial opinion. *207 This exposition demonstrated the Pakistan Court's lack of integrity. *208 The Pakistan Court disregarded the constitutional arguments made by both parties, and accepted and included uncorroborated, irrelevant and false religious references. *209 The Court's sua sponte reference to alleged statements made by holy Ahmadi personages and refusal to corroborate or allow the Ahmadis an opportunity to defend against them, reveals the Court's bias against the Ahmadiyya Community.

Zaheeruddin, 1993 S.C.M.R. at 1765-68, 1775-77. The Pakistan Court made these references to demonstrate how Ahmadi beliefs “insult, damage or defile the religion” of Islam and how such defilement would outrage the religious feelings of the majority Sunni Muslim Community and thus give rise to a “law and order situation.” Id. at 1765. The Pakistan Court may have made these references to support its application of the “breach of peace” notion from Cantwell. See supra notes 140-42.
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Arguments on these religious grounds were not in the briefs of either party to the dispute. Rahman Interview, supra note 4. The Pakistan Court made a sua sponte reference to Ahmadi beliefs in its opinion. Id. The Court did not permit Ahmadis the opportunity to defend against the allegations. Id.

The author is compelled to answer at least the most serious of the allegations made against Mirza Ghulam Ahmad:

The Pakistan Court took issue with why Ahmadis refuse to follow a non-Ahmadi in prayer. Zaheeruddin, 1993 S.C.M.R. at 1766. The Court asserted that because Ahmadis want to be separate from the majority population, the laws against Ahmadis serve to assist Ahmadis in achieving their desired isolation. Id. at 1768. The Pakistan Court mentioned this Ahmadi practice out of its historical context. Ahmadis were excommunicated and deemed kafirs (non-believers) before they decided not to follow non-Ahmadis in prayer. See supra note 34.

The accusation of kufr (unbelief) against the Ahmadis seems to have originated in the orthodox ulama's denunciation of the founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's … claim to be the Promised Messiah, the Mahdi, and especially, a prophet. Under the Ahrar (an Islamic religio-political group, initially opposed to the formation of Pakistan, marked mainly by their intense anti-Ahmadiyya orientation) the excommunication of the Ahmadis from the community of Islam continued unrelievedly…. In the Ahmadis' defence, their understanding of kufr or unbelief signified not external and eternal rejection by God but doctrinal deviancy. Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad [the second Caliph and son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad] explained the distinction this way: “According to our definition of kufr the denial of a fundamental doctrine of Islam renders a person kafir…. We never go about calling a person kafir. It is only when we are compelled [to] answer to the enquiry of a person to say what we think of him that we have to give expression to our belief … [and] we believe that there exists no such community whose every member is foredoomed to everlasting hell.”

Gualtieri, supra note 19, at 15-16 (citing Spencer Lavan, The Ahmadiyyah Movement: A History and Perspective 178 (1974) (quoting Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad)). Ahmadis harbor no hostility towards others but merely reacted to hostility against them. See Rafiq, supra note 18, at 88-96 (providing an explanation as to why Ahmadis do not follow non-Ahmadi imams in prayer).

The most profane allegation the Pakistan Court raised against Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is as follows:

The “Kalima” is a covenant, on reciting which a non-believer enters the fold of Islam. It is in Arabic form, is exclusive to Muslims who recite it, not as proof of their faith, but very often, for spiritual well-being. The “Kalima” means there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet. The belief of Qadianis is that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is (God forbid) Muhammad incarnate.

Id. at 1775 (emphasis added). Note the Pakistan Court utilized a different definition of Muslim than that given in Article 260(3) of the Pakistan Constitution; the Court used a definition in keeping with Islamic law and Ahmadi belief. The Pakistan Court also stated “there is general consensus among Muslims that, whenever an Ahmadi recites or displays ‘Kalima’, he proclaims that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the Prophet who should be obeyed and the one who does not do that is an infidel.” Id. at 1776. Further, the Pakistan Court attempted to quote Ahmad as follows: “I am the last prophet incarnate and God named me in Braheen e Ahmadia’ [a book written by Hazrat Ahmad] Muhammad and Ahmad and declared me as personified Muhammad … (See Aik Ghalti ka Izala, pages 10-11, published Rabwah).” Id. at 1776. All of the above allegations are false.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad never claimed in his writings that he was the Prophet Muhammad incarnate. The quote presented by the Court does not exist in Aik Ghalti ka Izala. What does exist is the following:

Whenever and wherever I have refused to be called a Prophet or Messenger it is only in the sense that I am neither [a] bearer of new law nor an independent Prophet. But I certainly am a Prophet in the sense that having been spiritually benefited by my Great and Noble Master [Muhammad] and having been able to acquire his name, I have been endowed with the knowledge of the Unseen. But I repeat it again that I have brought or introduced no new Law and have never denied to be called a prophet of this kind. Rather in this very sense God has called me by the names of Prophet and Messenger. So even now I do not deny to be called a Prophet and Messenger in this sense of the word. My saying … I am not a Prophet and have brought no book, have no connotation other than that I am not a law-bearing prophet. Of course this should also be remembered and never be forgotten that in spite of my being called a Prophet and Messenger, God has informed me that I have not been the recipient of all these spiritual blessings and favours independently and without the mediation of anybody. No; there dwells in heaven a holy being (the Holy Prophet Muhammad) through whose spiritual patronage all this Grace of God has descended on me. It is through his mediation and after completely merging my whole being into that of the Great Prophet and after having been known as Muhammad and Ahmad that I am a rasul (Messenger) and nabi (Prophet) … I have been able to acquire this name only by reflecting in my person all the excellences of the great Prophet and by annihilating myself in his consuming love…. I am the image of the Khatam-an-Nabiyyin [Seal of the Prophets] and his alter-ego. Twenty years ago as published in the Braheen-i-Ahmadiyya, God called me Muhammad and Ahmad and declared my advent to be the Holy Prophet's own coming. Thus my prophethood in no way clashes with the status of the Holy Prophet as Khatamal-Anbiya because the shadow is inseparable from the original and in an allegorical sense I am the same Muhammad.

Hazrat Mirza Ghualm Ahmad, A Misunderstanding Removed (Aik Ghaltika Izala) 10-13 (Nazir Dawat-o-Tabligh 1974) (1901) (emphasis added) (Ahmad's words lose much meaning when translated from the original Urdu, which is a very expressive and metaphoric language). Ahmad makes “allegorical” reference to the Prophet and does not assert that he was the Prophet himself. Hazrat Ahmad does not refer to himself as Muhammad incarnate. In another book Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated:

I cannot acquire any degree of honour or excellence nor any station of exaltation or nearness to God except through sincere and perfect obedience to the Holy Prophet [Muhammad]…. Whatever is bestowed upon me is by way of reflection of, and through, the Holy Prophet. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Iazlah Auham 138 (1891), cited in Rafiq, supra note 18, at 47. Ahmad asserted that the truth of his prophethood was based on his allegiance and devotion to Muhammad. See Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, The Essence of Islam 135-226 (Muhammed Zafrulla Khan trans., 1978) (providing excerpts of Ahmad's writings regarding his love of and devotion to the Prophet Muhammad).

The Pakistan Court also attributed the following words to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: “The Holy Prophet used to eat cheese made by Christians to which they added the pig's fat [which is forbidden to Muslims].” Zaheeruddin, 1993 S.C.M.R. at 1776. The Pakistan Court did not provide a citation or a reference to support this quote. Indeed, no such quote exists in the writings of Ahmad. This quote appears to be an attempt to inflame the Western and Christian world against Ahmadis. The Court placed into a judicial opinion uncorroborated and fabricated statements without allowing the Ahmadis an opportunity to defend against them. Making uncorroborated references does not befit a supreme court.
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Parker, supra note 99, at 8.
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One of the counsels for the Ahmadi brief and Pakistan Supreme Court Advocate, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, is currently engaged in an exhaustive exposition of all the allegations made against the Ahmadis by the Pakistan Court. Rahman Interview, supra note 4. The discussions of the allegations are quite involved as many of them require a superior knowledge of Arabic. Id. The author refers the interested reader to Mujeeb-ur-Rahman's work when it is published.
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The lone dissenting Justice, Shafiur Rahman, indicated that the Pakistan Court was influenced by mulllahs (orthodox religious clergy) who were not parties in Zaheeruddin. Zaheeruddin, 1993 S.C.M.R. at 1749 (Rahman, J., dissenting).

Our difficulty in handling these appeals has been that the respondents [the State] have by and large argued the matter as if the vires of the impugned portions of the Ordinance are being tested for their inconsistency more with injunctions of Islam than for their inconsistency with the Fundamental Rights. This has brought in religious scholars volunteering to assist the Court generating [a] lot of avoidable heat and controversy at the argument and post argument stage.

Id. (emphasis added). In Pakistan Supreme Court litigation there is no “post argument stage.” Rahman interview, supra note 4. The Ahmadi Counsel, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, stated there was no particularly significant “heat and controversy” during the oral argument stage of litigation outside of the typical passionate argumentation and discussion. Id. The heat and controversy must have been generated after the Justices retired to their chambers to decide the case. Id. Pakistan Supreme Court procedure bars the submission of amicus briefs. Id. The “religious scholars volunteering to assist the Court” were not parties to the dispute in Zaheeruddin and so the “avoidable heat and controversy” must have been generated by the exertion of pressure by mullahs on the Justices. Id.

The evidence introduced by these mullahs consisted of the false statements which the Court cited in establishing the nature of Ahmadi beliefs. Id. The Pakistan Court's acceptance of and reliance on uncorroborated evidence without affording the Ahmadis an opportunity to defend against them, indicates their bias, or at least demonstrates their lack of courage and dishonesty by not deciding the case according to constitutional and nondiscriminatory legal principles. Id. The Court engaged in this non-legal discussion despite the fact that the State argued solely on constitutional grounds. Id. Justice Rahman revealed that the Court went outside the Pakistan Constitution to decide the constitutionality of Ordinance XX. Zaheeruddin, 1993 S.C.M.R. at 1749 (Rahman, J., dissenting). The Court's timidity to decide on constitutional grounds was therefore exposed.

The successive constitutional crises that confronted the Pakistani courts [as a result of a long history of military rule] were not of their own making. But the doctrinally inconsistent, judicially inappropriate, and politically timid responses fashioned by these courts ultimately undermined constitutional governance.

Tayyab Mahmud, Praetorianism and Common Law in Post-Colonial Settings: Judicial Responses to Constitutional Breakdowns in Pakistan, 1993 Utah L. Rev. 1225, 1230 (1993) (emphasis added). The Pakistan Supreme Court's decision in Zaheeruddin is one of many cases throughout Pakistan's history where constitutional principles were disregarded.
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