Free to call ourselves Muslim in India, say minority Ahmadiyyas

first_imgTayyab Ali, 92, lies on a rusty cot in a large house with a courtyard full of plants. Clad in an off-white kurta, he peers intently through thick glasses as he says, “I moved here in 1946 to protect our heritage. I am still doing the same thing.”Tayyab Ali Bengali, as he likes to be called, had migrated from what is now Bangladesh. He was one of the 313 Ahmadiyyas who, at the time of the Partition, had chosen to stay back in Qadian in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. It was here that the sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, had established a religious community in 1889. The Ahmadiyyas believe that their founder was the “promised messiah” of the Muslims, meant to propagate the teachings of Prophet Mohammad. But the majority Sunni Muslims believe the Prophet to be the last messiah. This fundamental difference in religious belief has meant that the Ahmadiyyas are a persecuted minority in every Islamic state.In Pakistan, where over 4 million Ahmadiyyas reside, an ordinance passed by the government in 1984 declared them as “non-Muslims”. It also made it a criminal offence for members of this community to practise Islam or claim to be Muslims.As for the Ahmadiyyas, they call themselves a “revival movement in Islam”, one that rejects “terrorism” and believes in the “jihad of the pen” as opposed to a “jihad of the sword”.Mr. Ali is proud to be a ‘Darvesh’, the title given to each of the 313 who chose to stay in India after the 1947 Partition, leaving their families in Pakistan. He recalls attending a few sermons given by Ahmadiyya leaders in 1945, after which he decided to join the sect. He moved to Qadian the following year.“My parents were Sunnis. They stopped me but I didn’t listen to them. After Partition, my father sent me a money order and asked me to come back. But I sent the money order back,” he says. He last travelled to see his family over 50 years ago, in what was then East Pakistan, but returned in four days. “The environment was hostile. My parents didn’t treat me well. I came back,” he recalls. In India, he says, he wakes up for fajr, the first of the five prayers through the day, rests, eats, and goes to watch kids play football in the evening.The only tough time, he recalls, was the year following Partition. “We lived like prisoners, with a bare minimum of food, for over a year. We couldn’t get out of Qadian. A year later, I started playing football and volleyball, and that became a reason for me to get out of Qadian sometimes for tournaments,” Mr. Ali says.India’s Ahmadiyya population is about 1.5 lakh, About 6,000 of them live in Qadian in a settlement spread across 1,500 acres. It has a residential colony, two mosques, State board-affiliated schools for both girls and boys, a religious college, a few manufacturing units, including a chapatti-making unit, playgrounds, community halls, and religious monuments.Self-sustaining communityModelled as a self-sustaining township of sorts, the community enjoys its own administration, known as the ‘Secretariat’, with separate departments for expenditure, construction, audit, general affairs, information technology, waseehat and jaidaat. All the department heads are appointed by the ‘Khalifa’, or fifth successor of the founder, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. The Khalifa is based in London, which has now become the headquarters of the community.“Most of the money to run the community comes from donations by our members across the country. A significant part of it is generated by a system wherein those who pledge allegiance to the community donate 10% of their property and monthly salary to the administration,” says Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat’s (AMJ) spokesperson Tariq Ahmed. Many members of the community live in houses owned by the sect, pay a nominal rent, and work at the Secretariat.Nasir Waheed, who handles accounts at the Secretariat, says that he gets a salary of just ₹7,000 a month but is grateful for the peaceful life. “My children study in the community school where the fees are low. And because I work for the community, there are a lot of benefits,” he says, adding that his father was a Darvesh. “He worked for free in the initial years and started with a salary of ₹5”.Mr. Waheed’s wife, Swalehah Waheed (37), says the women are mostly occupied in religious programmes scheduled through the year. The entire settlement is divided into 13 sub-areas, each headed by a woman who is responsible for the ‘religious guidance’ of the women of her subdivision. “They give us books of our Khalifa to read and there are regular discussions around it. Every now and then, religious programmes are organised where women and minor girls share what they have read,” says Ms. Waheed, who has a master’s degree in political science from Panjab University.While there are many like Ms. Waheed, there are also women like Tahira Maqbool. Ms. Maqbool is now an Indian citizen but was a Pakistani until two years ago. The 34-year-old mother of three recalls life back “home” in Faisalabad and the pain of living there.‘Home’ truths “I was born in Faisalabad and stayed there till I got married in 2003. It’ll always be home because I’ve spent my childhood there. But in Pakistan we are treated worse than animals,” she says. Recalling an incident, she describes how her brother was once stopped on the street for particular reason, slapped around, and asked to change his faith.Tehmida (29), also a Pakistani born and brought up in Karachi, got married in India in 2013. She, too, has experienced persecution. “I was a bright student in college and my teachers loved me. But the day they came to know that I was an Ahmadiyya, their attitude towards me changed completely. They even asked me to leave the college. I said I’ll only leave if you make a formal complaint.”Unfortunately, for the married Pakistani women in Qadian, the ordeal doesn’t end even after they leave their home country. In India, life without citizenship is not easy either.“Sometimes, I feel like a prisoner because I have to renew my visa every year. I got married here and my four-year-old son is also an Indian. But I can’t leave Qadian. To travel out of this town, I need a No Objection Certificate from the Indian government. This remains a huge problem,” says Ms. Tehmida, adding that her friends from Pakistan often ask her if she has visited Mumbai or the Taj Mahal. “What could I say?”Slow citizenship process Tears roll down the eyes of Ms. Maqbool as she recalls the time her father passed away, in April 2012. She could not go and see him one last time as she had submitted her passport to the Indian government as part of her citizenship application process. “It is a very slow process,” she says. “I received the citizenship certificate only in April 2016.” Rukaiyya Khalam (52), from Pakistan’s Rabwah, has a similar story. She came to India in 1994 and started her citizenship process right then. “My mother passed away in 1996. But there is a requirement that in order to get citizenship, I should not leave India for seven years after I come here. So I didn’t go. Now, more than 20 years later, I am still not an Indian national,” she says.Ms. Tehmida, however, is happy in one respect. “I am free to practise my beliefs the way I want”.Mr. Ahmed, too, dwells on the relief in being able to freely call oneself a Muslim.In September, the Pakistani government had removed Princeton economist Atif Mian, an Ahmadiyya, from the newly set up Economic Advisory Council because of opposition from the Sunni majority. “In Pakistan, we can’t keep the Koran. We can’t celebrate Id. We can’t publish any of our books or periodicals. We can’t greet with Assalamu alaikum. There is not a single month when our people are not martyred. How would they accept one of us in the national Economic Advisory Council? India and most of the 211 other countries where our people live are extremely tolerant in this matter as compared to Pakistan,” he says.Members of the community say that they can lead a normal life In India, like any other Muslim, so long as they don’t show that they’re Ahmadiyya. Mansoor Ahmad, a local who often visits his relatives in Delhi, says that his nieces and nephews go to a private college and none of their friends really care what community they are from. “But it’s not always like this. There have been instances when hardliners in Ludhiana have created a ruckus because of our presence during religious programmes. But even on those occasions things never escalated to violence,” he says.last_img read more

Ginebra snaps 3-game slide, deals San Miguel its 1st loss

first_imgRoad Warriors: Alab posts 3rd straight win Read Next View comments NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding PBA IMAGESGinebra halted its three-game losing skid and dealt San Miguel its first defeat, 100-96, in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.Despite missing Greg Slaughter in the rematch of last year’s all-Filipino Cup Finals, the Gin Kings drew huge contributions from Jervy Cruz and unheralded big man Raymond Aguilar while also getting big games from LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar.ADVERTISEMENT The Scores:GINEBRA 100 — Tenorio 23, J. Aguilar 23, Cruz 17, R. Aguilar 16, Ferrer 11, Thompson 6, Caguioa 2, Mercado 2, Wilson 0.SAN MIGUEL 96 — Fajardo 33, Ross 16, Lassiter 16, Santos 12, Lanete 7, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, Pessumal 4, Heruela 2, De Ocampo 0, Mamaril 0.Quarters: 19-33, 44-52, 75-66, 100-96. LATEST STORIES Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:30’Excited’ Terrence Romeo out to cherish first PBA finals appearance01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Cruz fired 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter while Raymond Aguilar stepped up with 16 points. Tenorio had 23 points, four rebounds and six assists while Aguilar also scored 23 to go along with nine rebounds.“It was tough. Who would’ve thought that we can come out and win that game after the way we’ve played the last three games?” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone as the Gin Kings leveled their record to 3-3.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“Today, we played a very controlled game and was able to make plays. At the start of the game, I thought this is a mismatch. The first quarter looked like an absolute mismatch and we had no chance. But our guys dug in, made a run at halftime, and carried that momentum in the second half. We got ahead and started believing. I think we forgot how good of a team we can be.”Starting slow and falling behind by 16, 33-17, in the first half, Ginebra swung the momentum to its favor as it staged a telling 22-2 blast in the third quarter to take a 68-61 lead. MOST READ Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH The Gin Kings even held a 10-point lead, 97-87 with 2:10 remaining before the Beermen made one last rally, bringing the lead down to two, 97-95 with 1:00 left to play.Tenorio could only muster a split on his free throw with 24.6 seconds remaining, opening the door for San Miguel. Arwind Santos, however, muffed a couple of game-tying 3-pointers and Chris Ross was called for a technical foul for deliberately shooting a free throw that was supposedly for Chico Lanete with 4.5 ticks left that led to another freebie by Tenorio.Lanete made his first charity and intentionally missed his second, but a fight for the loose ball gave Ginebra the possession. Aguilar was fouled and he sealed the game at the line.It was a valiant effort from four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, who anchored his side with 33 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four steals in the defeat.Lassiter and Ross both had 16 markers and combined for 15 boards and nine dimes as San Miguel saw its five-game winning run snapped.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoiseslast_img read more

Banal fuels Flying V’s perfect run

first_imgWhat ‘missteps’? Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View comments In the second game, Cignal HD beat AMA Online Education, 86-76, with Davon Potts dropping 17 points and three rebounds in his best game yet for the Hawkeyes.Pamboy Raymundo added 16 points and two assists, while Raymar Jose had a near double-double with 12 points and nine boards to help the Hawkeyes climb to 3-2.Potts dropped eight points in the period to put his squad up early, 22-16. —CARLO ANOLIN, KRISTOFER PURNELLADVERTISEMENT Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken 1 dead in Cavite blast, firecenter_img LATEST STORIES Gab Banal. PBA IMAGESGab Banal’s impressive performance powered Flying V Thunder to a 107-96 rout of Wangs Basketball as the Thunder stayed on top of the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig Tuesday.The 26-year-old bruiser led the Thunder with 29 points, 11 rebounds and four assists to keep their record unblemished at 3-0.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide Flying V coach Eric Altamirano commended Banal’s consistency in the game.“He was our spark and he took it upon himself to shut down (Robbie) Herndon in the second half,” he said. “But all in all, it was a collective effort from our players.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutBanal was pivotal in the game as he started an 11-0 run in the third quarter that helped the Thunder pull away from the Couriers, 86-80, after a slow first half where Herndon put up 20 of his 24 points to lead the scoring for Wangs.Bucking early foul troubles, former La Salle standout Jeron Teng contributed 20 points, six assists and four boards. How much does the PBA owe Mr. Bobong?last_img read more