Originally published in The Mooresville Tribune
Although most Muslims believe that defensive wars are permissible in Islam, this man realized that the only way to really defend Islam in this day and age is simply through dialogue and that this was the “Jihad of the age.” This man’s name is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian and he was recognized as the Messiah by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Many Muslims clerics regard Ghulam Ahmad as a false messiah and consider his followers to be heretics.
I was born in the Seattle metropolitan area 20 years ago to Ahmadi Muslim parents. As I have grown up, I have heard many stories about how my family was persecuted because of the community we belong to. The most fascinating and horrific element of this persecution is about how the other Muslims persecute the Ahmadi’s for calling themselves Muslims and doing “Muslim things.”
My grandfather’s stories have had a particular effect on me. When my grandfather was a child, he was kidnapped and held for ransom. Thankfully, my great grandfather was able to pay the ransom and my grandfather was set free. Time and time again, he was harassed at school, at work and within almost every public sphere of life. Some would decide that the only word that was acceptable to call him by was the word “Qadiani.” The word became so derogatory that it simply because an insult in the common day language of Pakistani’s.
This did not stop my grandfather or the other Ahmadi’s from practicing their religion. The worse the persecution became, the more they came together. Yet they abided by the laws and remained peaceful. Gradually though, my grandfather along with other people in my family left for America.
Flash forward to 2016, and now the Muslim extremists have decided to declare “Jihad” not only on Ahmadi’s but Americans and the World at large. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I am in a tough position. The breaking point for my grandfather was when the Pakistani government decided that the only way Ahmadi’s could be recognized as Muslims was if they signed a form that declared the person we recognize as a Messiah as an imposter.
This was not a trivial matter.
My grandfather realized that if we admit that our peaceful version of Islam is not a “true” reflection of Islam then this is handing victory to the Muslim extremists. This was the turning point not only for my grandfather but for thousands of Ahmadi’s who now live in America. Now ironically, Donald Trump is going to group my community with the Muslim extremists if and when he becomes a President as outlined by his plan through the use of ID cards.
For my extended family members who still have their old Pakistani passports and now their new American ones, they will have one in which it is written that they are “Muslim” and another one in which it is written that they are not. On one side, we have the Muslim extremists who want to monopolise Islam and on the other side we have Donald Trump and other Islamophobes who have painted the entire Muslim community with a broad brush. The Islamophobes fail to take into account that there has not been a single Ahmadi Muslim indicted let alone convicted of terrorism.
The Islamophobes fail to take into account the 126 year peaceful Jihad of my community. The Islamophobes are like the Muslim extremists in the sense that they are narrow minded and do not open themselves to nuance.
I invite everyone to become part of the True Islam campaign. You do not have to be a Muslim to be part of this campaign. All you have to do is recognize that even if you do not believe in Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) claims, you can accept that his teachings do not directly lead to terrorism and extremism. The historians are clear, Muhammad was a pluralist and a tolerant person. This campaign was launched by my community at the end of last year and all you have to do to be part of it is sign your name on our website, TrueIslam.com.
Donald Trump fails to recognize that America is already great, all we have left to do is come together as one.