A Muslim in the Oval Office.
And why the world should pay attention to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
If you should remember anything (other than the Afghanistan reference and stripping of CNN) from Saturday night’s roast of the administration and the media by Hasan Minhaj it’s this:
“From college campuses to the White House, only in America can a first-generation, Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president. The orange man behind the Muslim ban.
And it’s a sign to the rest of the world, It’s this amazing tradition that shows the entire world that even the president is not beyond the reach of the First Amendment.”
This perfect connection of his identity with the First Amendment is vital. It’s also natural to our nation. That’s why it doesn’t take us longer than a bare .02 seconds to nod our gratitude to it and move on with our lives. So, allow me to connect you with the dissociation of identity, the repeated disregard for a collective identity. This is what we all fear, is it not?
Think of the marches, and those cries wishing to be heard. Everyone is trying to secure their identities among the massive tides. No one wants their identity to be hit by insensitive or inhumane methods.
This is all because identity is everything as an American. We realized this the moment we wrote the Declaration of Independence. This dissociation from our former motherland was the key in our newfound identity, but our reasoning set the foundation: we wanted to set ourselves as equals. Still, equality wasn’t born out of America’s independence — it was used as an anchor. Of course we’d be ignoring tired pages of history if we didn’t acknowledge the seas of people who were pulled over to our harbor due to this anchor of equality. You must understand (and if not, then learn) this equality hasn’t always been balanced or practiced justly in our states.
To speak of injustice is to speak of Ahmadi Muslims — their persecution, loss of national identity, and countless innocent lives lost all in difference of faith. All in the justification of faith. It’s Ahmadi Muslims as well who have had to separate from their motherlands not out of a desire of independence, but of a will to live peacefully. This diaspora of the Ahmadi Muslims touches all of them, including their leaders. Founded in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the northern Indian town of Qadian, the community no longer turns to Rabwah, Pakistan (its established headquarters after India and Pakistan’s partition) for sermons from their current leader as the persecution there is of a record level. Instead, it’s from London that they receive messages from their current Khalifa, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
Yet under all this pressure the community has prospered in over 206 countries with religious and humanitarian missions. As practiced by their founder, they’ve strived in defending the faith through the “jihad of the pen,” rejecting the aggressive (and turning extreme) “jihad of the sword” which they declare has no place in Islam.
It is practices like this that have kept the community going through great suffering, like in May 2010 after the Lahore Massacre. Everything from the local law enforcement’s delayed arrival to both Ahmadi Muslim mosques under attack to the disregard of the Pakistani media to call each building “mosques” was unjust.
The like of a nation that can not even identify in your view, what hope is there that they will be there to defend you?
The second thing that has been even more vital to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is prayer. Their current leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad encourages this every time he reads yet another funeral prayer for a martyr of the community. As I listen to these prayers, sometimes anger resides over these repeated crimes against humanity. Simultaneously, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad calls for patience to the loved ones of the deceased, for patience in general.
This is what my mother asked of me the morning after election night. I was furious, tired and furious that I’d lost sleep over such a result. I became even more furious when I realized both my parents seemed quite calm in the face of such collapse. That is when through their advice I remembered they’d grown up as Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan.
What was our worse option was their everyday. And what was our supposed wildcard were their haunting walks to school, college, work and death.
Let this hit you repeatedly like a brick and not ‘sink in’: what is your worse option is someone else’s everyday. What horrible consequence is possible for you is already happening to someone. Do not lose your naturally inherited sense of humanity just because you wish to be realized more by others. Your identity will grow when you harbor the chosen and ever fluctuating identities of others. Think of America.
And if America is confusing you and hurting you then do not let her. Be patient again and again with ignorance. You have everything in you to be creative with hate, with injustice. You still have time to say something and then do something worthwhile. Remember: patient creativity moves mountains, changes hearts. Think of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The most important thing is to be patient with yourself. You have been born as balanced creation. You are capable of one day creating just equality on this earth. The like of which our nation and our world is still bleeding for ever so patiently.
This is to the ones who still breathe and bleed for something greater.