Hardly a day passes on which an Islamic event does not make headlines. The president of a Muslim state is assassinated by the supporters of Muslim Brotherhood; a European journalist is taken hostage by Islamic Jihad; a PanAm aircraft is hijacked by another Muslim group; American university professors are taken into custody by Hezbullah. The glare of ‘Islamic’ revolution in Iran is reflected through the flares of every Gulf oil refinery.
In 1953 there were widespread demonstrations and anti-Ahmadi riots throughout West Pakistan, leading to an almost complete breakdown of law and order. The leading troublemakers were the Ahrar-i-Islam and the ulema (learned scholars), who had consistently opposed the creation of Pakistan. But it was Maulana Abu Ala Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami (the counterpart of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt), who became their voice. Martial law was proclaimed and the chief minister of the Punjab was replaced. A court of inquiry was set up jointly under Justice Mr. Muhammad Munir and Justice Mr. M. R. Kayani to investigate the causes of the disturbances.
No student of modem Islam should fail to read the report on the events of 1953. It explains in detail some of the problems that the new Muslim state was facing. But it is a judicial report and, as such, does not set itself the task of warning or advising. This book, however, is the work of a man of God—not simply a work written out of duty by a court official.
In 1955 Mirza Tahir Ahmad drew attention to certain aspects of the Munir Commission Report and spelt out the dangers the new Islamic state was facing. He showed how the Jamaat-e-Islami, despite being a minute minority of the population, would destroy Islam in Pakistan. In his book, Mazhab ke Nam per Khoon (Murder in the Name of Religion), which he wrote thirty years before his election as the head of the Ahmadiyyah Movement in Islam, Mirza Tahir Ahmad shows how Islam is being exploited by the Mullahs and presented to the world as a medieval theocracy. Mirza Tahir Ahmad set the Munir Commission Report within the context of the Quran, hadith and Islamic history. He had separated fact from fiction and the law of the Quran from the interpretations of the sultan-serving faqih.
This slender and compact, yet challenging, book originated from Mazhab ke Nam per Khoon. It is written in Urdu and is addressed to educated Muslims who know both their history and the basic principles of their religion.
When I undertook the task of translating Mazhab ke Nam per Khoon, I had no idea whether I was biting off more than I could chew. A literal translation would be meaningless for all but experts in this field, while a translation with long, boring and distracting notes would be self-defeating. The latter would be rather like a bad tailor trying to alter a quality, made-to-measure suit for another customer—it might fit him adequately, but it would not hang as well as it would on the person for whom it was made.
This book is an updated version of Mazhab ke Nam per Khoon and includes some new material.
All references to important figures and events in the history of Islam, which have become part of Muslim collective memory and have been mentioned by the author are fully explained. The books of tradition, Ibn Hisham’s Sirat Rasul Allah and other primary sources have been used for this information.
Mazhab ke Nam per Khoon was a general review of the Munir Commission Report with special emphasis on the subject of freedom of expression in Islam. But it also discussed the brutality of the masses, the hypocrisy of the political leaders, the lack of moral courage on the part of the intellectuals and, above all, the severity of the riots, reminiscent of the events of St Bartholomew’s Day (24 August 1572). This discussion has been dropped from this rendering of the text. These details are already available in the Munir Commission Report.
The inter-ulema polemics and, especially, the attacks and counterattacks of Deobandi and Brelvi supporters in the press make very interesting, but painful, reading. I have dropped them from the English version of the book, but retained a few passages to show just how low today’s so-called ulema can stoop.
Finally, I have to admit that I have failed to convey the author’s perceptive and creative imagination. I have not been able to do justice to the underlying force of his prose or the spiritual dimension of his rhetoric. Mirza Tahir Ahmad’s style combines learning with humour. These qualities have been somewhat lost in translation, but I hope I have succeeded in retaining the high academic standard of the original book, which makes it a unique and inimitable work on the Islamic concept of freedom of conscience and its expression. Though I have tried my best to convey the spirit of the original—its reflective intellectuality interwoven with the mysteries of the soul—this book remains above all a translation. Any mistakes of fact or interpretation are mine alone. If in doubt, readers should check with the original, Mazhab ke Nam per Khoon.
May Allah, the reader and, especially, the author forgive my short-comings.