I was at a local supermarket, doing my shopping for the week. I go over to the aisle where they keep condiments and sauces. There is a woman there with a kid, presumably her son. The kid (being a kid, obviously) was picking out all the stuff he wanted.
His hand reached for a bright red colored packet when his mother grabbed his arm and pulled it back. He looked at her and she said “Wou ketchup mat lena, Shezan ki hai”. The kid took a packet that was made by some other brand and they both moved on.
For those of you who don’t know, Shezan is a brand made by Ahmadis (Qadiyyanis). This incident was one of the many examples of the mentality most Pakistanis have, i.e. that Ahmadis are such horrible people that they shouldn’t even be considered human beings.
You may think that I’m overstating things. It can’t really be that bad, can it? Let me tell you exactly how bad it is. Late last year, a factory in Jhelum was set on fire because the owners and workers (primarily Ahmadis in their religious orientation) were accused of blasphemy.
Following that, another mob went on to burn down an Ahmadi place of worship in the surrounding area for no reason. The following image is of family members of the deceased standing before their graves.
I’m not even talking about blasphemy allegations in this article- I’m talking about something as simple as the freedom to buy and sell something in the market.
A situation arose last year when people discovered there was an anti-Ahmadi sign put up in a marketplace. When the Government of Punjab found out, they told the DCO Lahore, who went and removed it and the two shopkeepers were arrested for hate speech. This was an important advancement in the thinking of Pakistanis and one would assume that we would keep moving in this direction.
— Govt Of The Punjab (@GovtOfPunjab) December 10, 2015
Except we didn’t. In response, the shopkeepers of that market and the Center’s Traders’ Association called for a rally to protest against the arrest. When the shopkeeper was released on bail, he was covered in garlands. Hundreds of people gathered outside the Center holding up placards and demanding special identity tags for Ahmadis so that they can be easily identified by those who do not want to do business with them. The same people who support this are those that call Donald Trump bigoted and biased for wanting to put tags on Muslims. Basically, this country is full of hypocrites.
I’m not saying you should agree with their religious beliefs. If you think it’s wrong, that’s completely fine. But Ahmadis are human beings as well. They, too, are a creation of Allah. So even if you don’t like them, don’t hate them either.
Boycotting their products is depriving them of livelihoods. Children are starving and families are living in hiding because they fear prosecution. Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Let There Be No Compulsion In Religion”. It does not give you the right to discriminate against anything. The reason why Pakistan has no unity is because people keep looking for reasons to hate each other, be it the Shia-Sunni conflict or anything based on a person’s racial ethnicity, e.g. Balochi, Urdu-Speaking, etc.
Live and let live, people. Eating ketchup from Shezan will not make you haraam and if you think it does, you need to affirm your religious belief because it seems to be threatened by the smallest things.
Note*: The views mentioned in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Parhlo.