By Sarah Malik
Community outreach coordinator
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
On Friday, a group of militants belonging to a satellite group of the Taliban simultaneously attacked two Ahmadi Muslim Mosques in Lahore, Pakistan. Each mosque was full of more than 1,500 worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayer services. The terrorists’ bloody rampage lasted several hours and the attackers killed more than ninety and injured more than 120 worshippers.
One of the men killed in the brutal attacks was my uncle, Khalil Solangi. Uncle Khalil lived in Columbia, Maryland, with his wife and three children. Throughout his life he was active in volunteer work with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Although he was a very successful business owner, you would never know it from speaking to him, because his demeanor was always gentle, and never pretentious. He was very generous with his wealth. Because of his kind and generous nature, Uncle Khalil had many friends and he will be greatly missed.
Uncle Khalil was attending Friday prayers at the mosque in Lahore on Friday. He was in Pakistan for his niece’s wedding. It was the will of God that he was there this Friday, and gave up his life in the worship of God, thus becoming a martyr. On Friday, after I heard the awful news of his demise, I went to my Uncle’s home in Columbia to offer my condolences to his wife and children. I was amazed by the patience exhibited by his family. Although they were upset, as expected, they showed no signs of anger or rage at the atrocity that was committed. They were following the true principles of Islam, and bore their loss with patience and fortitude.
The mosques that were attacked belonged to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in 1889 with membership now exceeding tens of millions. There are thousands of loyal Americans who are Ahmadi Muslims, and many have lost loved ones in Friday’s attacks. Ahmadi Muslims believe that the teachings of Islam do not allow for an aggressive “jihad by the sword”. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community categorically rejects terrorism in any form and teaches moderation and restraint despite bitter opposition from parts of the Muslim world.
Just as Uncle Khalil’s family demonstrated patience at this difficult time, Ahmadi Muslims across the world have demonstrated patience after Friday’s atrocities. No Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan has taken to the streets in protest or has demonstrated revenge through violence. The spiritual leader of the Ahmadi Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has guided all Ahmadi Muslims, to turn to God and pray for the victims and their relatives. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has always been a peaceful community despite being victims of violence and state sponsored discrimination in Pakistan. In 1974, the Pakistani Constitution was amended to declare the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as “non-Muslims”. Again, in 1984, an ordinance was passed criminalizing any attempt by Ahmadi Muslims to “impersonate a Muslim”. Thus, by Pakistani law, Ahmadi Muslims are not allowed to call their places of worship Mosques, or to even say the Islamic greeting of “Peace be on you”.
These kinds of laws strengthen extremism and promote terrorism within Pakistan. This kind of extremism finds its target in not only Ahmadi Muslims, but in Christians, Jews, those of other faiths, and even in the United States. We are blessed to live in the United States, a nation built upon the basic human right of religious freedom. The United States and Pakistan are allies in the war on militant extremism in Pakistan. The United States should urge Pakistan to repeal these laws that encourage hatred, extremism, and violence. Our fight on terror should include a repeal of these laws to help prevent violence from occurring in Pakistan and from spreading across the world to the United States, the land of the free.
Sarah Malik is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Women’s Auxiliary of the Silver Spring, Md. Chapter