My friend, the outcast

From her school days, to college everyone regarded her as Ahmadi first.

Taimur Arbab February 26, 2012
There was once an Ahmadi friend of mine who confided to me that no matter how hard she tries to identify herself as a Pakistani, her experiences of a lifetime of ‘otherisation’ and always being at the receiving end of misery do not allow her to do so. From her school days, to growing up in a neighborhood which regarded her as an Ahmadi first and then anything else, to watching people belonging to her community being ostracized, it was one incident after another of constant singling out, being branded as a ‘kafir’, ‘outcast’ and ‘un-Pakistani’ that molded her experiences.

Then, there were these reports of sectarian strife gripping Khurram Agency last week. Shias in Parachinar were the target of a suicide attack and over 30 innocent lives were lost, all because of bigotry and intolerance. The only thought that comes to my mind when I consider this attack, or what my friend used to say about her life experiences, is that how can the people who spread such bigotry and hate not know of the example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself. Did the Holy Prophet (PBUH) not send Muslim refugees to Abyssinia and Christian Negus, to flee persecution? Does that not mean that he did not think that the sole criterion for judging a person was his or her creed?

History’s ultimate lesson in state-making has been to devise measures that tend to include a variety of perspectives, ethnicities, polities, religions as one single, national narrative. Those states which were able to do so survived war, economic slumps and natural catastrophes. Those which were unsuccessful on that count were relegated to the obscure annals. Pakistan has been incapable of doing that. Its founder extolled freedom of worship as a foremost pillar of state, while his successors only excluded, singled out and branded people on the basis of their beliefs.

Religion is beautiful — and it can be even more so if it is not used as a constant source of division. We, as Pakistanis, have a moral obligation as well as a national duty to embrace the ‘other’, the ‘left out’ and the ‘outcast’. Otherwise, we too run the risk of being relegated to the abyss; the darkness where only ignorance rules and death awaits.

Read more by Taimur here.
Taimur Arbab A former sub-editor at The Express Tribune, college teacher of Sociology and English Language and a graduate student at Aga Khan Institute for Educational Development, who leans toward the left side of the political spectrum and looks for ideas for his short stories and poems in the everyday happenings of life.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


FJ | 12 years ago | Reply @Silent Observer: Now please do not start telling me that US is behind this. US might be behind it to some extent but the main culprit is Saudi Arab! ...and you know why they hate Shia Muslims because it started since the time of Prophet (PBUH&HF)'s death. It is a historical fact which only those understand who have read the Islamic history. So basically US is just using this hatred of extremist wahabis, nasibis against Shia to gain their own goals...but that does not mean that US hates Shia...or is it? No, it''s the Saudi hatred which we are intensely facing especially because of Zia ul Haq! Target Killing of shias did not start after 9/'s been there since 1980's.
A well wisher | 12 years ago | Reply @Amjad: I think you miss the point. Of course people from China and India immigrate to other countries for better economic opportunities. However, a relatively higher proportion of Pakistanis, especially Ahmedis, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs etc, leave Pakistan to escape persecution. Many Tibetans also leave their country due to persecution. As for India, there is no migration due to religious persecution.
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