Plight of the Ahmadiyyas
No one can truly belong to any religious faith that is engaged in burning and plundering the places of worship of other fellow human beings and threatening to kill them.
I have often tried to imagine as to how would I feel if I had to live under threat in my own house and my own country where I had been living for generations.
After all, this is where I was born. This is where my parents were born, this is where many of us are buried and then almost all too suddenly I am being hunted down on the grounds that I am not a Muslim.
Also consider as to how am I supposed to feel when I have all along been a law abiding and peaceful citizen of the country. Islam says: “I to mine and you to yours.” I live with my religion and you live with yours.
I am really scared. Now that the entire body of law enforcement agencies is engaged in nabbing religious terrorists all over the country, I have this fear that I may be forgotten. I keep asking myself, are not these religious bigots yet another kind of terrorist? To my mind, they are terrorists of a more heinous nature.
Yes, you have rightly guessed, I have tried to portray the kind of lives the Ahmadiyyas are presently leading in Bangladesh. They are living under perpetual fear of losing their property and lives.
For over a century Ahmadiyas had been living in this country as most peaceful and law-abiding citizens. Have the religious bigots been all too suddenly struck by lightening with the message that the Ahmadiyyas are non-Muslims?
We often pride ourselves on our secular traditions. I wish to ask, is this then the stamp of our secular traditions? The Nazis did this to the Jews, and see what that legacy has driven us into. As a citizen of Bangladesh, I am simply appalled and ashamed. A nation’s treasures are its peoples and not bridges, highways and fancy shopping malls.
Our administration is busy hunting down terrorists all over the country, whereas yet another group of known terrorists are carrying on with their unlawful and vicious acts. The issue is not whether the Ahmadiyyas are Muslims or not, the truth is they are citizens of this country just like the other Muslims, the Hindus, the Christians, or the Buddhists, whose safety and security are guaranteed by the Constitution.
I would like to ask each and very every citizen of this country as to how he or she would feel if someone were to ban the religious books of the mainstream Muslims and persecute them in their own country?
Admittedly, of late there has been some cause for concern, since in many countries of the West there is a growing sign of discrimination against the Muslim community but there has never been any threat to their lives and property, including the Holy Book.
Besides, that is happening in some foreign lands. If it is a question of being non-Muslims, then why not ban the religious books of the Hindus, the Christians, and people of other religions living in this country?
You cannot, since you are afraid as they represent greater strength in the international community. It is this kind of mindset, combined with several factors, which are continually widening the gap of understandings and misgivings about our religion in the minds of the people of the West and people belonging to religions other than Islam.
Being tolerant to peoples of other faiths is also a core element of our religion. It is indeed sad to see as to how we have dragged our great religion to such a degrading state. It is my belief that the Muslims of today are doggedly and systematically digging their own graves like none others. Islam is a great religion but the people who are its self-styled custodians, at least in this country, are certainly poor human material.
Bashing of the Ahmadiyyas on grounds that they are not Muslims should be stopped forthwith. It is a bad precedent and a legacy in the making that may bring about disastrous consequences for the country. Today, it is the Ahmadiyyas, tomorrow it will be the Christians, and then the Buddhists, so on and so forth.
Let us learn the lesson from Pakistan, where Muslims are killing their fellow brethren right inside their places of worship even to this day.
Ahmadiyyas are a small community in this country and until now have never been known to be anything but a group of people who believed in peaceful co-existence. This sudden rise of a particular group of religious bigots is clearly being carried out under the explicit support and endorsement of the present regime. Putting a halt to this blatant discrimination against the Ahmadiyyas should therefore be not a problem.
The government should take appropriate measures and halt this menace forthwith, both for its own sake, and for the sake of the nation and its image.
We have indeed fallen so low that had the Prophet (SM) been alive today he would weep to see us.
Shamsher Chowdhury is a freelance contributor to The Daily Star.