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I Refuse To Let My Ahmadi Friend Stand Alone In The Face Of Racism

Ahmadi Muslims are often not welcomed as part of Muslim umbrella groups, even in Canada.

10/18/2017 15:58 EDT | Updated 10/18/2017 15:58 EDT

My Ahmadi Muslim friend and former student shared with me a video of a Pakistani politician who asserted in the National Assembly of Pakistan that Ahmadis should not be admitted into the armed forces, as they could not be trusted.

He claimed that the British and the Israelis created the Ahmadiyya sect to cause division within the Muslim community. Additionally, he argued that the physics centre of a premier Pakistani university should not be named after the only Pakistani Nobel laureate in physics, Dr. Abdus Salam, on account of his Ahmadi faith.

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Members of the persecuted Ahmadiyya community pray in a mosque on July 14, 2010 in Chenab Nagar, Pakistan.

I am not sure why my friend even bothers with such news. After all, having suffered discrimination at work (where his colleagues would not eat with him) and bearing witness to his father's place of work being attacked, he left Pakistan for a peaceful life in Canada.

He is a handsome young man, bright enough to complete a graduate degree and hardworking enough to start afresh in Canada. But he didn't leave Pakistan out of choice. He had a comfortable life there.

That is why he was quite hurt. Someone who didn't care would simply have shrugged off such ignorance and moved on. Perhaps over time he will grow to become numb.

For now, he writes to me whenever his community is attacked, persecuted and threatened. He writes to me to bear witness to the suffering his people endure.

Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer, Jibran Nasir, has already raised his voice against this latest manifestation of hate propagated against Ahmadis.

On my part, I have requested local Muslim institutional stakeholders to take a stand on the issue of Ahmadi persecution. However, Ahmadis are often not welcomed as part of Muslim umbrella groups, even in Canada.

Are their sympathies reserved for only those they consider Muslim enough?

Imagine if a Canadian MP were to declare that Muslims should not be admitted in the Canadian armed forces, as they could not be trusted. Imagine if Muslims were portrayed as extremists plotting to destabilize Canada, or that the contributions of Muslim Canadians should be sidelined.

Canadians would not stand for such blatant racism. Time and again, they have stood by the Muslim community; most recently with the message "We will not be divided" after the Edmonton terror attack.

I believe that it is that expression of solidarity which my Ahmadi friend is looking for. But, most likely, traditional Muslim stakeholders will tell him that it is not an issue that concerns Muslims in Canada.

However, on what basis do they campaign for Palestinians or the Rohingya Muslims? Are their sympathies reserved for only those they consider Muslim enough? If so, then does that not make Islam into another cult instead of a wide umbrella that offers sanctuary to all?

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Perhaps we can expect traditional Muslim institution stakeholders to maintain strategic silence when their theological differences trump human concerns.

However, I am not comfortable letting my friend stand alone. My humanity is inextricably tied to his. Indeed, if the Qur'an asserts that Allah made different tribes so that we may know one another, then we have no basis to treat any human being as the "other" let alone those who recite the same book, offer the same prayer and practice the same rituals as Muslims across the world.

Earlier this year, a group of friends got together for a video to offer a message of love to Ahmadis amidst all the hate they endure. While our voices are marginal, they are true.

We stand by in solidarity with Ahmadi Muslims against instances of hate mongering, social ostracism and persecution.

I offer this message of love to my friend with the hope that more people will feel empowered to stand by his community and express the same solidarity as they do on other issues.

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