by Zohaib Zafar
My story with non-violence starts with my ancestors who joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Among what inspired my ancestors to join this community was the strong condemnation of violence in the name of Islam by the community’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Ahmad believed that unnecessary violence was not only prohibited in Islam but was a great misfortune for the religion. Ironically, since the beginning of the community’s inception, untold persecution has befallen the community in part because of this belief. And our community’s response to this persecution is the true essence of non-violence.
When my great grandfather’s home was burned down because he was an Ahmadi, he not only gathered the courage to stand by peacefully when the police refused to do nothing but he prayed for the people who had committed this act. This was the ethos of the community in 1953 when hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims were murdered in Lahore and recently in 2010, when 86 Ahmadi Muslims were brutally murdered at their mosque in the very same city.
As Ahmadi Muslims we are able to do this because of the power of prayer. We also strongly believe in the Jihad of the pen, literally translated as “Struggle of the Pen.” Emphasized by our community’s founder, we realized early on that swords cannot sway the hearts but that the true jihad was based on how ideas can change nations. In light of this, our community has produced more Islamic literature than any other Muslim organization in the 20th and 21st centuries. In post 9-11 America, we are one of the loudest voices for the Muslim community at large. Some Islamophobes call it Stockholm Syndrome but Ahmadi Muslims are taught by our Khalifa(spiritual leader) to speak the truth even when we have to sacrifice everything. Non-violence is not only about trying to understand the other and bridging a connection but also protecting one’s said enemy from injustice. We do this everyday when we fight Islamophobia by representing a mainstream Islam that many mainstream Muslims may not even count us part of.