The oppressor and oppressed: Islam in the 21st century

“Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ – And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.”
(Holy Qur’an, Chapter 22, Verses 40-41)

This is the first article in our series ‘Peace or oppression: where do you stand?’. In the above verse of the Qur’an, God instructs the Muslims to be the protectors of all houses of worship that remember God, not just ones that are Islamic. Based on this, we will be looking at the treatment of a number of oppressed minorities across a spectrum of faiths, in order to:

1.  Raise greater awareness of their plight.
2. Revive the Islamic principle of protecting all religious minorities.

This article focuses on the treatment of minorities within Islam, in this case the Ahmadiyya community, a minority sect of Islam. From its very beginning, the followers of Islam suffered untold persecution. The vast number of Muslims subjected to persecution extended across all sectors of society, from slaves, women and children, to highly influential members of society, which meant that the first group of Muslims were unable to live in safety, with their lives continually at risk. Sumayyah bin Khubbat (may Allah be pleased with her) is a prime example of this, the first woman martyred in Islam, after being brutally tortured to death.

Despite being repeatedly urged to recant her beliefs in exchange for her life being spared, she did not cave in, holding fast to her conviction in Islam. Her orphaned son Ammar (may Allah be pleased with him) was lovingly referred to as the Son of Sumayyah by the Beloved Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon Him), in honour of his mother’s unyielding steadfastness to endure extreme suffering, for the sake of her beliefs.

The Prophet of Islam and his followers endured 13 years of sustained and relentless persecution for preaching the oneness of God. The right to practice their faith freely was denied outright, with a concerted effort made by the Arab pagans to forcibly end the practice of Islam. They were subjected to what in modern human rights language, falls squarely within the definition of both inhumane and degrading treatment. When the Prophet of Islam travelled to Taif, a province in Mecca, to convey the message of One God, he was eventually driven out by street mobs, who for over 2 miles hurled rocks at him and his companion Zayd. This resulted in the Prophet being drenched in so much blood that it is recorded that his shoes were filled with his own blood. This was the ruthless animosity with which the message of Islam was received and this is the price the Prophet had to pay to restore morals among a people both ignorant and barbaric to the core. The religion of Islam came to engender in the people a sense of humanity and love for one another, values which were diametrically opposed to the Arab pagan tribal mentality of self-interest and immorality. Islam thus came to liberate the oppressed and stand up against tyranny.

Today, as the community of Islam has spread far and wide, there are large groups within Islam, who despite the history of persecution that Islam faced, have instead become the very oppressors that Islam itself stood against.

In Nigeria, 200 young Muslim schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram remain missing since April 14 2014. 200 parents forced to wake up every day in fear their young daughters may never return. May Allah bring them back safely to their homes.

In Pakistan, the Shia Muslim community continues to suffer at the hands of Sunni Islamist extremists. In the state of Balochistan alone, 30,000 Hazara Shias are estimated to have fled since 2009 due to being systematically targeted.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who are the focus of this article, are declared non-Muslim by law in Pakistan. Ahmadis who dare to call themselves Muslims, or indirectly or directly ‘pose’ as Muslims are subject to 3 years imprisonment. They are routinely killed by mobs encouraged by Islamic extremist clerics throughout the country. To highlight this, in March 2014, a group of Sunni extremists broke into an Ahmadi home, where a mother Bushra Ahmed, was tied up with her son and repeatedly stabbed to death alongside him. Their crime: being Ahmadis.  This is the Islam that exists across the Indo-Subcontinent today where the cancer of extremism has spread to Indonesia, Bangladesh to name but a few of many Muslim countries, where Ahmadi mosques are burnt down, and Ahmadis themselves are left to fear for their lives, within their own neighbourhoods.

Despite this, voices within Islam though quick to speak out against the oppression against Muslims in Kashmir and Palestine, remain deafeningly silent when Muslims persecute other Muslims – as is the case against Ahmadis. The same renowned Muslim imams, speakers and commentators, (minus a very small minority of Muslim speakers) who have a strong following on twitter and facebook, promoting the virtues of Islam as a religion of peace, ironically turn a blind eye when speaking out against the far less peaceful victimisation and oppression of Ahmadis.

The Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be on Him) taught the once most barbaric people, how to be human again – to be vanguards of peace, by having empathy and compassion for one another. Today, however, that empathy has been forgotten and there remains silence in the Muslim community – across the board, on unspeakable levels of persecution carried out against Ahmadis, in the so-called name of Islam. Justice that is not justice for all, is not justice at all.

On the 30th anniversary of Ordinance XX, this Ordinance ensures Ahmadis are denied the right to call their mosques a mosque, to call the Adhan (call to prayer), to say the Shahada (declaration of faith in Islam), to even ‘pose’ as a Muslim, as well as being denied the right to vote without discrimination. As a group of young Muslims trying to raise the profile of the youth Muslim voice, we believe that the persecution of any community goes against the very conscience of man and against the core teachings within Islam. It is therefore our duty to speak out against oppression in whatever shape or form it comes in. It is narrated in a famous Hadith (Qudsi) that the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon Him) was informed by God:

“I shall take revenge on the oppressor in this world and the next. I shall take revenge on someone who saw the person being oppressed and was able to help him but did not.”

In the Qur’an, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) is referred to as As-Shams (The Sun) and the Mercy for all Mankind. This was due to his unwavering and unerring compassion for all peoples, irrespective of faith, creed or colour. We pray this message also awakens the rising sun of compassion and love for the downtrodden and oppressed, which ultimately Islam came as the protectors for.

Will our consciences therefore rise up, to speak out against the oppression that is going on, in the name of Islam, as we speak? Or have religious sectarian differences meant that true compassion for one another, to be a mercy to all of mankind, like the true exemplar Muhammad (peace be upon him) no longer exists?

We ask that you join us in reviving this spirit, the spirit of Muhammad (peace be upon Him), by raising awareness of the persecution that communities, such as the Ahmadis face. Please take a moment to have a look at this petition below, to show solidarity in repealing such state-endorsed religious discrimination.

As we explore the treatment of religious minorities, send us your comments and let us all unite to work towards helping  all oppressed peoples, to show them they are not alone, and that there is such a thing as humanity.

For further info on Ordinance XX: Please see

http://stopthepersecution.org/

To help stop the persecution by signing the online petition please see

http://stopthepersecution.org/petition/