Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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By Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
This concisely written text presents the teachings of Islam and their distinct superiority over various Articles that make up the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations and universally acclaimed as the greater charter of freedom. The author explains how 1400 years ago, Islam emancipated the poor and oppressed and gave the world the basic prescription for the respect and value of all human beings irrespective of class, colour or creed. Those instructions contained in the Holy Qur'an remain as relevant today as they were at the time that it was revealed. However, with the passage of time, some parts of Muslim society neglected Qur'anic teachings with an inevitable decline in moral standards. The author however concludes on an optimistic note that the revival of Islam is happening and with it a close adherence to the values laid out in the Holy Qur'an
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Persecution Of The Ahmadiyya Community In Pakistan: An Analysis Under International Law

A. The U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Given Pakistan's once staunch advocacy of Article 55(c) of the U.N. Charter and Article 18 of the UDHR, it is striking that it should so clearly circumvent them in its promulgation and constitutionalization of Ordinance XX and the Criminal Law Act of 1986. Where Article 18 guarantees the right to “freedom of thought . . . and to manifest this [thought] in . . . community with others and in public or private, in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” Ordinance XX subjects one who thinks critically about the Holy Prophet Muhammad and manifests this thought “by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation,” or “any person . . . who calls himself or herself Ahmadi . . . and 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 in any manner whatsoever that outrages the religious feelings of Muslims” to “imprisonment . . . and fine.” Moreover, Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, in its 1986 amended form, undermines completely the crucial right to manifest one's beliefs and goes so far as to punish the exercise of this right with capital punishment, particularly as it relates to Ahmadis.

Pakistan's state practice establishing the hegemony of a strict interpretation of the Shari'a makes such a glaring circumvention of an international declaration it formerly supported less surprising, though no less disturbing. As one of only a few Muslim countries to accept fully the provisions of the UDHR, it is ironic that Pakistan would endorse a proposition, advanced by Saudi Arabia, that it once condemned vociferously: that freedom of conscience is antithetical to the Shari'a. The irony is both tragic and fatal, for under a less strict interpretation of the Shari'a, Pakistan's state practice holds no logic. Pakistan attaches a temporal penalty to apostasy, something the Qur'an, the primary informant of the Shari'a, labels a spiritual offense. *50 The presumption that the state should assess the truthfulness of a believer is equally contrary to Quranic injunction. *51

A primary verse of the Qur'an that proponents of Pakistan's anti-blasphemy provisions cite is Chapter 3, Verse 86: “And who so seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the life to come he shall be among the losers.” THE HOLY QUR'AN, translated by Maulawi Sher Ali, 3:86. Even a strict and literal interpretation of the above verse places any sort of punishment for apostasy squarely in the “life to come” or hereafter, that is, it is a spiritual offense punished by God alone and not an offense that requires physical punishment. For a detailed discussion of the significance of blasphemy under Islamic Law, see Donna E. Arzt, Heroes or Heretics: Religious Dissidents Under Islamic Law, 14 WIS. INT'L L.J. 349 (1996).
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Though doctrinally difficult to grasp, the concept of separation of religion and state is not fundamentally antithetical to Islam. It suffices here to mention that the Qur'an stresses that an individual's spiritual destiny is strictly between God and that person, without interference from an outside person or state. That is to say, true religious belief requires both intense personal commitment and individual consent. In reference to the Muslims' treatment of non-believing Arabs during the Prophet Muhammad's time, Chapter 6, Verse 108 of the Qur'an reads: “And if Allah had enforced His Will, they [the non-believing Arabs] would not have set up gods with Him. And We have not made thee a keeper over them, nor art thou over them a guardian.” THE HOLY QUR'AN, translated by Maulawi Sher Ali, 6:108. Chapter 10, Verse 100 reads: “And if thy Lord had enforced His will, surely, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers?” THE HOLY QUR'AN, translated by Maulawi Sher Ali, 10:100. From the verses, one can see how the case of the non-believing Arabs was not with humankind, but with God. They were immune from punishment, compulsion, and other civil disabilities in relation to their religion and practices. In pure Islamic teaching, it is irrational for an outside person or state to determine the fate of non-Muslims because it is tantamount to associating partners with God, which for a Muslim is the most egregious sin man can commit. See THE HOLY QUR'AN, translated by Maulawi Sher Ali, 4:49. Pakistan's legal persecution of Ahmadis, understood in this light, is contrary to these verses of the Qur'an.
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