I am an Ahmadi. There are four million of me in Pakistan. This Islamic Republic is the only state in the world which has officially declared me to to be a non-Muslim. Why? It’s simple. I am an Ahmadi.
Ordinances have been passed against me. Acts and Constitutional Amendments have been drafted around me. Shortly after the heart and soul of our nation was ripped into two, a country reeling to define and defend its own identity unleashed itself upon me. In 1974, a parliament I had voted for adopted a law that outlawed me.
The rest of you were given a different story. Unlike you, I was not a “a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH”. But nobody really asked me what I believed in. Why? Because I am different. Because I don’t matter. Because I am an Ahmadi.
A powerful man who killed another powerful man in the name of the law did worse to me. In 1984, the General of an Army I support, pay for and even serve under passed another law: now I could not call myself a Muslim at all, or even “pose as Muslim”.
You might have noted the affects of that yesterday. As my attackers unleashed their wrath, television networks I watch and love got the location of the bloodshed all wrong. What I call a mosque, they insisted on calling a “place of worship”. That’s alright, though. It’s not their fault. I’m used to the special treatment. After all, I am an Ahmadi.
But I wish things were different. I wish I was like you. I wish I was a Sunni, a Shia, a Punjabi, a Pakhtoon, a Baloch, a Sindhi, a Memon, a Gujrati, a Siraiki, a Makrani. If I was any of those, or even anyone else, I would have been called a martyr or “shaheed” in the papers today. My family would have liked that. They would have even written it on my grave, like you do for your loved ones. But all that doesn’t matter. It’s what comes after the grave that really matters. And in my case, I’ve been reassured by you that not much good awaits me there.
But you can’t blame me for wishing. I wish I could give you a hug this Eid. I wish I could say “Asalamalaikum” and “Eid Mubarak” to you as well. I wish I could read to you the history of my people and even have you sample my food. But I can’t. That could cost me three years of prison time.
Finally, I also wish my attackers had chosen another date. For you, yesterday was a day to remember. After all, it was twelve years ago that you unleashed your might upon the world by reducing a mountain to ashes. You had invented the weapon to counter all weapons. Your detractors were scared, your enemies terrified. For causing yesterday’s incident to dampen your re-living that moment of pride, I apologize. Please accept my condolences.
But you don’t have to. You’ve got other things to do. Why waste your time with me? After all, I am an Ahmadi.
(A Disclaimer, Albeit Irrelevant: Khan is not an Ahmadi, rather a Pakistani, and proud one at that)