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(The Second Constitutional Amendment)
The Second Constitutional Amendment and Ordinance XX of 1984 provide the background of the legal issue, which was presented before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Zaheer-ud-Din, which must be viewed in its proper perspective. The Constitution 2nd amendment Act was passed in 1974. The amendment provided that;
“a person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophet-hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the last of the Prophets or claims to be a Prophet in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or a religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or Law”.
The amendment also inserted words “and persons of Qadiani group or the (Lahori group) who call them-selves (‘Ahmadis’)” in clause (3) of Article 106 of the constitution.
To properly understand the 2nd amendment and Ordinance XX of 1984 and to judge and assess the enormity, sweep and extent of the denial of religious freedom to Ahmadis, one needs to know what Ahmadi faith or Ahmadiyyat is.
What Is Ahmadiyyat
Ahmadiyyat is not a new religion or faith nor is it a cult. The movement was founded by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in 1889. He claimed to be the Mahdi and the Promised Messiah in the fulfillment of the prophecies of Prophet Muhammad(SAWS) and within the order of Islam. His claim of being Mahdi-Messiah aroused bitter opposition. The meaning and concept of finality of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(SAWS) is also a matter of controversy between the bulk of orthodox Muslims and the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement. According to Ahmadiyya perception the Movement represents the essence of Islam. “The Movement does not depart from Islam in the very least, nor does it add an iota to the doctrine and teachings of Islam. Yet, it is a fresh presentation of Islam and more particularly of the wisdom and the philosophy that underlies its teachings based upon and deriving entirely from the Holy Qur’an and pronouncements and practices of the Holy Prophet of Islam. It is not a new religion nor is it an innovation.“ 1
The question came under consideration before Lahore High Court in Shorish Kashmiri’s Case. The observations of the High Court may be reproduced with benefit.
“The whole burden of argument of petitioner’s learned counsel was that Ahmadis are not a sect of Islam and the petitioner’s right to say so is guaranteed by the Constitution. The learned counsel over-looks the fact that Ahmadis as Citizens of Pakistan are also guaranteed by the Constitution the same freedom to profess and proclaim that they are within the fold of Islam. How can the petitioners deny to others what they claim for themselves is beyond our comprehension? Certainly not by terrorizing them. The question at the root is how far the petitioners and others like-minded can in law prevent the Ahmadis from professing that notwithstanding any doctrinal differences with the other sects of Islam they are as good followers of Islam as anybody else who calls himself a Muslim.” 2
In Abdur Rahman Mubashir the Lahore High Court observed:
“The dispute between the Muslims of Indian subcontinent and the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who are commonly called Ahmadis or Qadianies, is not of recent origin. It is as old as the claim of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to prophethood, despite his belief in the holy Qur’an and Sunnah. — he tried to reconcile his claim to prophethood with his purported belief in finality of Prophethood of Muhammad(PBUH) — He claimed that he had, though a prophet, not brought any Sharia of his own and that the appearance of a new prophet without new Shariat was not contrary to and did not detract from the doctrine of finality of prophethood of Muhammad, (Khatam-e-Nabuwwat)” 3
Dealing with Ahmadiyya belief the court further held:
“Except for some other minor differences the Qadianis do believe in the mission of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), and the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions. 4
According to a study conducted by International Commission of Jurists:
“The Ahmadiyya Movement was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and it has become a missionary movement with adherents throughout the world. Pakistan has always been the center of its activities and there are some four million Ahmadis in that country. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have received revelations that in his person the Mahdi had become present and that he was also the Promised Messiah and was indeed the Prophet whose advent had been foretold in the principal religions of the world. — In addition he claimed that contrary to the general Muslim view that Jesus Christ had been raised to Heaven alive and would descend to earth again, it had in fact been foretold that another person with Jesus Christ’s attributes would appear and that he was that person. His views on the permissibility of Jehad were much more restrictive than those of other Muslims, although the common perception that he was in favour of a total ban appears to be incorrect. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad saw himself as having been appointed by God for the revival and support of the true faith of Islam and his followers continue to worship Allah in much the same way as other Muslims, with the faithful being summoned to prayer five times a day and the same rites rituals being followed. However, despite seeing themselves as part of the broader Islamic movement and having been treated as such under Pakistan’s Constitution since independence, other Muslims have repeatedly declared the Ahmadis to be heretics.“ 5
The Ahmadiyya belief as professed and practiced for more than a century, objectively viewed and analyzed by outside observers, as discovered and found by research scholars and recognized in some judicial pronouncements, is a movement within the broad spectrum of Islam. Despite their differences on theological issues Ahmadis have always been a part of the larger Muslim community. This firmly rooted historical position, notwithstanding, the Constitutional Second Amendment Act declared Ahmadis ‘Not-Muslim’ for the purposes of law and Constitution.
A closer look on the Second Constitutional Amendment would indicate that the controversy relates only to the interpretation and true perception of one particular verse of the Holy Qur’an. This controversy was not of recent origin and was as old as the Ahmadiyya Movement itself. Attention may here be drawn to the emphasis added, in the reproduced text of the 2nd amendment, which shows that it is the interpretation of the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad(PBUH), which is the basis of the amendment, NOT the Islamic practices.