Ahmadis

Ahmadis: Community, Gender, and Politics in a Muslim Society

ANTONIO GUALTIERI
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80jjg
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  • Book Info
    Ahmadis
    Book Description:

    Dedicated to supernatural revelation and the divine governance of society, Pakistan's Ahmadi community has endured mob violence and penal sanctions for refusing to embrace the beliefs of the Sunni majority. They disagree with fundamentalist ideas of exclusiveness and consider themselves a reformed version of Islam. Although they have adopted Enlightenment ideas about the pursuit of scientific knowledge and produced a notable number of technicians, doctors, and scientists, women continue to live under a strict definition of purdah and the community remains conservative. The Ahmadis reveals a society strictly grounded in divinely prescribed patterns - including parental authority, close family ties, a disposition towards gender-specific roles, and separation of the sexes - but at odds with fanatical Muslim fundamentalism, whose wrath has spread beyond the Ahmadi minority to include the West.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7205-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION: Tradition and Modernity
    (pp. vii-1)

    This book builds on work I did in 1987, some of which was published asConscience and Coercion: Ahmadi Muslims and Orthodoxy in Pakistan. To my surprise that book garnered a modest reputation for me as an expert on Ahmadiyyat, which only proves that in the land of the blind the oneeyed man is king. I was frequently called by the Refugee Board of Canada to advise on immigration questions about Ahmadis and was invited to lecture in Montreal mainly to Refugee Board judges on “The Persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan and Their Status as Refugees in Canada.” I...

  4. CHAPTER ONE Setting the Scene
    (pp. 5-14)

    In the course of my research I often encountered a gap between what I meant by such terms as modern, secular, science, natural, and supernatural and what the Ahmadis understood by those concepts. This was inevitable, and it may be useful to examine these divergent understandings since they bear directly on the tension between tradition and modernity.

    Most of my Ahmadi interlocutors thought that to be modern is good. To be modern is progressive and rational, relying on intelligence and reflection on natural and human affairs. My use of “modern,” on the other hand, reflects the Nietzchean legacy as something...

  5. PART ONE COMMUNITY
    • CHAPTER TWO Piety and Religious Practice in Rabwah
      (pp. 19-37)

      Peggy and I on a typical morning stuck our heads out the door of the bungalow to see what was happening to the sky. Earlier, in the predawn before theazhan, or call to prayer, when I first left our bedroom and went out the screen doors of the foyer into the courtyard, the stars had that intense brightness that only a black background can provide. When we emerged an hour or so later, the distant barren hills that dominate Rabwah and the cypresses that border the walk were serrated against the slowly lightening sky.

      In spite of theazhan...

    • CHAPTER THREE Social Life and Institutions
      (pp. 38-72)

      One Friday Peggy and I had a video interview for Ahmadiyyat tv. Afterwards we adjourned for tea to another studio and watched the televised Friday sermon, given in Urdu, of the now-deceased Khalifatul Masih iv, or Hazoor, as he was affectionately called by his devotees. Peggy and I were instantly seized by an impression of fatigue and age that seemed to have overtaken Hazoor since we last met him several years ago. This did not surprise us given the inhuman load of responsibility that is placed upon the khalifa. Every one of his devotees wishes to have a personal connection...

  6. PART TWO GENDER
    • CHAPTER FOUR Purdah and Vocation
      (pp. 77-108)

      Peggy and I went for a walk down some of the minor roads of Rabwah, westward towards the outskirts of the town, and came upon a commotion down one of the side streets. Making our way to its source, we found that we were involved in the second part of the three-part wedding ritual. We were invited into theshamianas, the big marquees, Peggy on one side of the road in the women’s section and I on the other side in the men’s section. Folding chairs had been set up auditorium style, focused on the central part of the marquee...

  7. PART THREE POLITICS
    • CHAPTER FIVE Islam, Politics, and the Ahmadis
      (pp. 113-132)

      Malcolm Kerr in hisIslamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories of Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida, uses severe language to criticize Muslim political and legal theory. He condemns the classical viewpoint of the caliphate and jurisprudence as “inadequate” and “deficient” because of their inability to move in an agreed-upon manner from the ideal revelational sources of personal and social law to their application in the concrete positive law of the community. Classical theorists seem to have been unable to break out of the cocoon of an ideal vision of divine sovereignty over the totality of human life disclosed pre-eminently...

    • CHAPTER SIX Harassment and Persecution
      (pp. 133-153)

      The amir of Sargoda, who is also the amir of Punjab province, is an incredibly alert and vital ninety-five-year-old. Mirzah Abdul Haq is the father of thirteen children, three of whom died in childhood; of the ten surviving children, one died at age sixty-seven just a few days before my interview with him. The amir was dressed in a cream-colouredshalwar kameezand a long frock coat identical to the type worn by the second khalifa, as well as a white Punjabi turban with the starched plume extending from the top. He met the second khalifa in 1913 when he...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 155-156)

    We had gone to Pakistan with the primary intention of understanding how Ahmadi Muslims deal with the tension and conflict of the ethos of tradition with that of modernity. I revisited the harassment and persecution suffered by the Ahmadis at the hands of Orthodox or fundamentalist mullahs and their government accomplices. Ahmadiyyat is largely unintelligible except against this backdrop of theological disputation (mainly over the Finality of Prophethood) that in Pakistan has escalated to mob violence and penal sanctions against Ahmadis.

    On the basis of my previous contacts with Ahmadiyyat both in Pakistan and Canada (and, intriguingly, in Damascus), I...

  9. AFTERWORD Death and Succession of the Khalifa
    (pp. 157-158)

    Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih iv (Successor of the Promised Messiah) died on 19 April 2003 after twenty-one years in office. It is reported by Canadian Ahmadis that approximately 25,000 devotees were present for the Janaza (funeral) prayers held in Islamabad (the Ahmadi research and publication centre outside London, uk), one thousand of them from Canada alone.

    According to Ahmadiyya polity, the community cannot be left without its spiritual head, so there is provision for rapid convening of the Electoral College to vote upon a successor khalifa. The election is by open declaration of one’s choice: each elector identifies...

  10. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 159-160)
  11. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 161-168)
  12. APPENDIX ONE Mirza Ghulam Ahmad 1835–1908, Founder of Ahmadiyyat
    (pp. 169-172)
  13. APPENDIX TWO The Khalifa on Purdah
    (pp. 173-178)
  14. APPENDIX THREE Ahmadis as Crypto-Zionists
    (pp. 179-184)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 185-188)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 189-192)