Tahmena Bokhari on the suicide-bomb attacks on Ahmadiyya Mosques in Lahore, Pakistan

“My condolences to all of the families who have lost their loved ones on May 28th in Lahore. This is a loss not only for the families or the Ahmadiyya community, but for all of Pakistan and Pakistanis everywhere. My thoughts are with all Pakistanis and the world community as we are living through some of the most difficult times since partition. We as the citizens of Pakistan, despite (or perhaps even due to our diverse) religious and spiritual backgrounds, along with the world community, must stand up against such attacks. It is not a question of the Ahmadiyya community alone, it is that of the Shia community, the Christian community, the Ismaili community, and the Sikh community – all of whom are very afraid since these attacks. This was an attack on all of humanity and no one should remain a silent bystander. We must stand together as human beings for justice and stand up against the culture, the laws, and the ideologies that promote hate and violence.

On May 28th 2010, two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore, Pakistan were attacked by suicide bombers and from what we understand, more than 80 people were killed. I strongly condemn these vicious murders that are the products of hate and ignorance. These attacks have not been committed by followers of the Islam I know and love.

Just to give some brief background: The Ahmadiyyas are a ‘minority’ group, a sect of Islam that dominant Muslim groups do not agree falls under the category of Islam. The main difference in mainstream Islam and Ahmadiyya Islam is the belief in the last messenger and prophet of God. The majority of Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet whereas the Ahmadiyyas believe there were prophets after him. The dominant Muslim majority believes that to be a Muslim one must declare and believe that there is only one God, Allah, and that the Prophet Muhammad was his last prophet, so any deviation of this main belief would not be considered Islamic. It was in 1974 that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan declared Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslim. Ten years later in 1984, the then President of Pakistan, General Zia, made it a criminal offense for Ahmadiyyas to call themselves Muslim or even to say the Muslim greeting of ‘Asalam-u-alaikum’, a charge for which one could be imprisoned. The Ahmadiyyas were also the major victims of the blasphemy laws, and if convicted, they could be sentenced to death. Note that the judicial and law enforcement system in Pakistan is not the same as we know it here in North America. Some Ahmadiyyas who were charged with such violations of Pakistani laws, however, did not even make it to court to be sentenced but were attacked and killed by so-called Muslim civilians and usually without any just inquiry into their murders. Whatever your religious differences may be with whichever group, I am hoping we can all agree that it is not a reason to kill.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws also target Christians, single women, various minority groups, or any one who does not agree with the strict interpretations of the dominant religion. I strongly feel that it is the terrorists who need to be charged with blasphemy laws and any one else who promotes hate and violence, as that is the most un-Islamic act that I am aware of. Who gets to decide what is ‘un-Islamic’ anyway?

As a social worker I have worked with hundreds of members of the Ahmadiyya community to help them seek asylum and settle in Canada along with other social work issues. I have worked with the many traumatized widowed Ahmadiyya women and their children and can attest to the devastation faced by these families. I have been extremely passionate about this work but it did come with some criticism. This criticism was mainly that Sunnis (dominant Muslim sect) should not be helping the ‘anti-Islamic’ Ahmadiyyas. My specific faith label is not the issue here, my values of social justice are, and I would claim that social justice are the very values my personal faith has taught me. My Islam is one of peace and justice. More importantly and to put it very simply, whether one is atheist, agnostic, Christian, Ahmadiyya, Ismaili, Shia, Sunni, Hindu, Jewish or whatever – you do not kill people for having diverging beliefs from yours (or for any reason).

Let’s all be a part of the solution and stand up for a better world!"

About the Author: 

Tahmena Bokhari is a college professor, social worker and social activist who is both Canadian and Pakistani.

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22 Comments

  1. Dear Tahmena, Thank you so much for your article. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I am pleased to learn that there are voices in the world that speak out against such atrocities. Many more people, outscomment_IDe of the Ahmadi Muslim Community need to be as brave as you are. Only when this silent majority speaks up, will Pakistan have any hope to change for the better and hold its head high. Then and only then can a new day dawn, where diversity can reign,tolerance can grow, and terrorism will be rooted out. Inshallah.

  2. I completely agree with this article written by Tahmena Bokhari. Thank you for speaking out and encouraging others to do so as well. I never really understood why there was such hate towards Ahmadis and really I do not care to know. All I know is that it is wrong to kill someone or do anything harmful to another human being simply because they are practicing whatever their religion is in peace.

  3. Dear Tahmena, Asslaumoalikaum,Thank you very much for your article.The message of your article is food for thought, for those who do not understand the Ahmadi Muslims. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I recite the Kalima: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammad (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah”. There the controversy should end. It is only narrow minded people who choose to quarrel with this point, in order to inflict transgression against a peaceful community, which has accepted the Messiah of the time. If people do not accept the Messiah of the time, this is all well and good. There is no compulsion in the matter of religion, the Holy Quran states. Islam is simple, only people make it complicated, God help Pakistan, The Blasphemphy Laws need to be eradicated before more damage is done to innocent lives. If not Pakistani Government sanctioned terrorism will continue and thrive.

  4. Assalamo Alaikum.
    Jazak Allah for your humanity and bravery.

    Ahmadis cannot call themself what they are. They cannot pose to be what they believe they are anyway. They cannot call their places of worship mosques. The can not recite Kalima. They cannot do call of prayers. They can be sent to Jail for this. Here is a link to Ordinance XX.
    http://www.thepersecution.org/archive/pl_laws.html

    Here are some examples of atrocities committed by the Mullah using the above Ordinance XX against Ahmadis. They are very interesting stories of how corrupt the Mullah and our justice system is.
    http://www.thepersecution.org/archive/pl_absurd.html

  5. I hope more and more people start to realize that everyone needs to stand up for justice and peace. The violence that was sanctioned by the state of Pakistan against the small community of Ahmadies became the seed of hatred that has now produced the kind of extremism in Pakistan that threatens the safety of all of its citizens, regardless of belief. Even the Sunni majority is also not safe anymore.

  6. Thank You very much and may Allah bless you and people like you for a just cause Amen. Such people, who claim to be Muslims, forgot about the personal example of the Holy Prophet(SA)! During 13 years of severe persecution, in which he(SA) lost his wife and a daughter and a number of notable companions, yet dcomment_ID he(SA) EVER committed any retaliation ? If we are all God’s creatures and God loves us more than a mother loves her children, then do you think He will be pleased when such Muslims kill innocent children of God? Which God they are trying to please?
    Isn’t the time that they should think about it? Isn’t there a single [i]RAJAL [i]UL RASHID[/i[/i]] AMONG THEM?

  7. I am not Ahmadi. I am just a human being who knows killing is wrong. I agree with Tahmena that we cannot just be silent bystanders even if we feel it was not our people that were killed.

  8. I am Suni and do not agree with the Ahmedi beliefs.
    However, whether you agree or disagree with certain religious beliefs, why oh why can we not stand up and condemn the murders of innocent people! Why for once as Pakistanis why can we not stand up and show the world what beautiful and peaceful people we truly are….except I as a Pakistani am really beginning to believe we are only made of hate and ignorance!
    I admire people like Ms Bokhari and I extremely admire those who stand up for justice even if the injustice was not committed against their particular group.
    I admire people like Ms Bokhari because she is one of the few current examples out there of a young woman taking charge of issues of Pakistan. She is a role model for the world and she makes me proud that she is Pakistani. She is one small hope for change.

  9. I really think this killing over religion thing is gettig old. Lets just agree to disagree and live and let live. Just focus on your own beliefs and stop dennouncing and declaring bans on others beliefs. I mean why is that so hard in this day and age?

  10. Your description of Ahmadi beliefs is wrong. Ahmadis believe The Holy Prophet to be Khatamun Nabiyeen. I think people need to let go of their ignorance, before they can let go of their hatred. Learn about the religions of others, before we write/act on them, in any manner.

  11. The scale of discrimination practiced against Ahmadis is simply mind-boggling. It is simply a grotesque form of modern-day aparthecomment_ID. When the state itself discriminates against a section of its people and humiliates their religious icons, it takes discrimination to a whole new level.

  12. Whatever are the sunni or ahmedi beliefs, or their differences, I do not know nor want to know. How the hell can anyone argue it is a right to kill someone. I am not very educated and I do not need to study all the worlds religion to understand that hate and murder are wrong! Why do we blame hate and anger on lack of education? Dcomment_ID these people not have mothers? Do they not have sisters? Do they not have hearts?

  13. Thank you and Thank God and Thank people like this amazing woman. I completely agree with Prof. Bokhari 100%.
    The debate on who is Muslim and who is not, or what is halal and what is haram, and what is islamic and what is not——-all will continue til the end of time – at which time the ultimate supreme being will make the ultimate verdict. Until such a time, I know as a human being that murder is wrong, to hurt someone is wrong, to trample on someone’s deeply sacred beliefs is wrong. I thank God there are angels in this world like Ms Bokhari. In reading Ms. Bokhari’s other works I have come to learn that it is certainly the work of the divine when a mere human being can forgive and remain nonjudgmental even when the other has wronged. I aspire to be that human being in my quest to reach heaven one day. I aspire to be even a fraction of what Ms. Bokhari is.

  14. Ms Bokhari is just helping indivcomment_IDuals, doesnt matter who they are. It is others making all of this political and religious. She is not out to help or promote a paticular group, just help those in need. We should all do that. Is that not what any religion tells you, help first ask questions later and really let God be the judge.

  15. yes i competely agree with u tahmeena n i pray May Allah bless us sll with such thoughts and we soon come out of this religious extremism AMEEN

  16. Thank you, Ms. Bohkari for your condolences and objective comments which pave the way for open communication. Though,please stand and be corrected. We are not a [b]sect[/b] of Muslims. We are a community of Muslims.
    As an American Ahmadi, I am appalled and very saddened at the barbaric behavior being displayed hcomment_IDing behind the gracious and merciful mantel of Islam while committing atrocities that would make the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) weep uncontrollably.

    The Ahmadi Muslim Community’s slogan is “Love for all, hatred for none.”
    We are saying to all Muslims that this is the time to demonstrate the true Islam of the Holy Prophet (saw) who, through his actions and deeds, personified the essence of forbearance, the beauty of Islam.

  17. Thanks Tehmina for your thoughts as this is the latest in a series of unprovoked attacks on Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan with more than 100 killed since 1984 and 6 this year up to time of this latest atrocity. All these attacks are a result of the unjustifiable campaign against the community led by the extremists in Pakistan who have been preaching hatred against the community and have declared Ahmadis as legitimate targets to be killed.

  18. One should know what ahmadis beleive and it is possible only when you read about them. Read the books of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (The messiah), how he praised Allah and Hazrat Muhammad ( PBUH)and you will get the truth because if you dont read books, you can not get the true picture of his personality and is it is mixed by the opponent’s beleives.

  19. I think some may have missed the point. One need not know about all the religious details to be a just human being. Frankly, I am not Ahmedi, I do not know about Ahmedis and in fact I am not a religious person at all and do not believe in organized religion. Not every is and should be an expert on religion. This article has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with being a just human being. I do not need to study Islam or Ahmedi religion to know that hurting people is wrong. I just think people should live in peace no matter what they are. I also feel that everyone has a right to call themselves what they wish. If someone claims to be Muslim, who am I to disagree when God will ultimately deccomment_IDe anyway. Perhaps the Mosques will disagree, and that is fine, but the state should not cause or endorse any harm to those self proclaimed Muslims.

  20. The author is not claiming to be an expert on religion or Islam, she is simply a humble professor and social worker who cares for humanity and justice. Thank God she is. If everyone dcomment_ID this, no matter what their background, we would truly be in a better world. Thank God for Ms Bokhari. For me she is an angel and doing the true work of God.

  21. I like all of the articles by this author on Oye Times. Thank you Oye Times for publishing these kinds of inspirational and thought provoking comment_content_IDeas. Thank you Ms Bokhari for all that you do. You are a woman with guts, courage and strength. You are a true leader and role model.

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