“The right to celebrate Eid and other Islamic traditions has been snatched away from us because they are associated to Islam and since we have been declared non-Muslim we can not celebrate”
In 1974 Pakistan declared the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority using a constitutional amendment. Since then they have been stopped from celebrating “Muslims Holy Festivals.”
60-year-old Ijaz Ahmad is a resident of Rabwah and works in a small company. He says like every year he likes to celebrate Eid like others by bringing a sacrificial animal to his home. He says:
“We can not take these animals out like other Pakistanis as we belong to the Ahmadiyya community because of which we are harassed and our freedom has been taken away from us.”
“We also like to celebrate Eid al-Adha like the rest of Muslims but we can not do so due to objections by the locals and the Government, our freedom is meaningless.”
55-year-old Mohammed Akbar who is also a resident of Rabwah and runs a local educational institute says he frequently travels for business but no country treats him this way.
“Dubai is also an Islamic country but everybody has freedom, there we offer sacrifice and socialize with the local Muslim community and people rarely discriminate against us but here in Pakistan there are so many restrictions”
He went on to say that last year members of Ahmadiyya community were even stopped from offering Eid prayers in Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Gujranwala, and Sargodha. The authorities even took away the sacrificial animals from the Ahmadis and were only given back after Eid.
Akber says he wants to do a lot for Pakistan but due to his religious beliefs, he faces a lot of obstacles.
Another resident of Rabwah, 40-year-old Abdul Lateef says that “during Pakistan’s Independence no one asked about the faith of those who lost their lives, When bodies were dropping no one asked if the person was Ahmadi or not. All that we cared for was that the person gave up their life for Pakistan.”
“Before the 1974 law, everyone used to eat in the same bowl as till then we had not been declared non-Muslim, the restrictions came afterward.”
“The right to celebrate Eid including other Islamic traditions has been snatched away from us because they are associated with Islam and since we have been declared non-Muslim we can not celebrate”
He says he also wants the freedom to offer Eid prayers and carry out the animal sacrifice like the rest of Pakistanis but unfortunately the anti-Ahmadiyya laws come in the way.
40-year-old Tanveer Ahmad says he want to follow the Abrahamic tradition of sacrifice like the rest but he can’t as it is against the law and prevented by the authorities.
15-year old award-winning student Sitarah Brooj Akbar who also belongs to Ahmadiyya community and is currently working as a Pakistani Youth Ambassador in Dubai has come to spend her Eid holidays in Rabwah.
She says Dubai is also an Islamic country but equal respect is given to all religions and sects and no hatred is spread against anyone, yet in Pakistan minorities always have a hard time.
“Our country is unable to progress because we are stuck in issues of very less importance like these”
Eid is joyful because of friends and family but if we are only going to sit at home, being fearful of what might happen if we celebrate then what is the purpose of such a celebration.