Trials of Minority Muslims
Do you know who an Ahmadi is? Most of the world doesn’t. Most of those who do know want them dead.
There are Ahmadi students across the UC system and beyond who live in obscurity of their true identity because of the discrimination and murder imposed against them throughout the decades.
An Ahmadi is a person of a Muslim minority sect called Ahmadiyyat, who believes that the second coming of the Messiah was manifested through a man named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, born in 1835.
Since their inception in 1889, approximately 200 Ahmadis have been killed because of this belief. They are targets of hatred and violence in the Muslim world. The most recent and most frequent attacks on them occur in Pakistan, where many Ahmadis have resided since their days of inception. However, many are now dispersed all over the world.
This discrimination is far reaching and dwells here on campus. I was able to interview a few Ahmadi students at a couple of UC campuses, including UCI, to express the impact of this oppression anonymously.
A biochemistry third year at UC Riverside, who wishes to stay anonymous, recalled a painful experience when she went to Pakistan last summer:
“The bombings in which the Taliban were determined to destroy Ahmadis … that was a hard time for all of us … being an Ahmadi is banned in Pakistan.”
She went on to explain that legally speaking, the practice of the religion is not allowed [in Pakistan] and is a major violation of the law.
An anonymous second year biological sciences major at UCI relates her Ahmadi identity with other Muslims:
“I don’t feel that enthusiastic about telling people that I am an Ahmadi … the only thing I’m scared about is telling people that I am Ahmadi and having a negative effect to it.”
The fact that these students do not feel safe giving their names with their Ahmadi identity proves that they feel tension and intimidation from non-Ahmadis Ń particularly other Muslims Ń not only on campus, but anywhere else in the world. The violence against Ahmadis is not just an issue of the East Ń it is carried over to the West.
It is not just from UC Ahmadi students that we can learn of this brutal and barbaric discrimination, but from local and global accounts as well.
The Los Angeles Times relates an interview with an Ahmadi who worships at the Bait ul Hameed Mosque in Chino about the cruelty Ahmadis face in Pakistan, where declaring oneself an Ahmadi not only results in discrimination, but imprisonment and death as well.
The attacks against this minority faith have only gotten worse as over 80 Ahmadis were killed in mosque bombings in Lahore, Pakistan this May according to The New York Times.
Still, the issue is not nearly as severe as it is overseas. Ahmadis are free to express themselves in the West more than they ever could imagine in the East. UCI even had an Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association (AMSA) established until 2007 with Alumnus Ijaz Sayed as president. He is currently working on establishing AMSA at Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly and Mt. San Antonio College.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has now built over 15,000 mosques, over 500 schools, and over 30 hospitals, and has contributed vastly to worldwide disaster relief through Humanity First, an independent charitable organization according to alislam.org.
Even though Ahmadis are abused in fellow Muslim countries, they have found freedom and peace in other countries. But this does not change the fact that Ahmadis study and live among us in fear of expressing their true religious identity.
Many Ahmadis mourn the loss of killed family members from overseas. In The Economist, an Ahmadi makes sense of this despair most naturally:
“In our prayers we always weep … The milk does not rise in the mother’s breast until the baby cries. Before Allah [God] we must cry like babies if we want his blessing. We cry like a whole pot on the boil.”
Like most minority groups, the trials of the Ahmadis are not well known. I’ve attempted to raise awareness for them through this article, and I hope their suffering may cease one day.