Of potatoes, eggs, Ahmadiyyas, and Pakistan

I was casually going through BBC News website last evening and found a news about a YouTube video “Aaloo Anday” (potatoes and eggs) getting viral popular in Pakistan. What so special about a video, first one by the unknown-until-now band, to be so popular that BBC making a news out of it. I watched the video on YouTube. It’s a satire on the current sociopolitical situation of Pakistan. It’s in Punjabi, I couldn’t get it’s meaning by mere listening to it. I further googled to get some insight. The video itself and the situation surrounding it have obsessed me so much that I had been thinking of it almost every moment since I watched it.

The video starts with three school-going-looking boys opening their lunch box finding the same “Aaloo Anday” in them as usual. They put off the lunch boxes and start with the song: “my mother has cooked aaloo and anday. I don’t like them. I want to each pieces of chicken.” The video further takes a hard stand on some tough issues in Pakistan. They talk of a country where Mumtaz Qadir (one who assassinated a liberal minister) is treated like a royal nawab, where Ajmal Kasab has become a national hero, and of a country where no one talks about Abdus Salam, the first Noble laureate from Pakistan who won Noble Prize for Physics in 1979.

Abdus Salam (1926–1996)

Dr. Abdus Salam

Although the most part of the song made only a little appeal to me (as I am not that aware of the situation there), I must give the guys full credit for talking about Abdus Salam.  Abdus Salam was one of the most important scientists Pakistan has ever produced. He belonged to Ahmadiyya community, which is declared non-muslim in Pakistan by law of the land. Ahmadiyya is a community within Islam that believes Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahamad (19th century) to be the Messiah and hence denies the finality of prophethood of Muhammad. They believe in the oneness of Allah, they believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, they believe Quran to be the book sent by Allah, but deny the finality of Muhammad as a Prophet. Pakistan has about 4 million of Ahmadiyya population; and these people are declared non-muslims by law.

And what does it really mean? By law, an Ahamadiyya cannot pose himself to be a muslim in Pakistan, or he can have a jail of up to 3 years. An Ahmadiyya cannot say “Assalam walaykum” to someone else; an Ahmadiyya cannot call their place of worship a “masjid”; an Ahmadiyya cannot keep a copy of Quran in his home; an Ahamadiyya cannot quote the verses of Quran in public; an Ahamadiyya can in no way pose himself to be a Muslim. Anyone who applies for a Pakistani passport has to sign an oath stating that Mirza Ghulam Ahamad was an imposter and not the prophet of Allah and his followers are in no way Muslims.

Ahmadiyya are often a target of social malignity in Pakistan. In 2010, there was a suicide bomb attack on a Ahmadiyya place of worship and about 100 people were killed.  Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the deceased “our brothers” in his condolence speech.  Eleven political parties together have protested his calling Ahmadiyyas “our brothers.” The prejudice against Ahmadiyyas is so intense that they often try to keep their Ahmadiyya identity hidden in their social life. In short, Ahmadiyyas are the Jews of modern Pakistan and living in almost the same situation as the Jews were living in the early Nazi regime.

Grave of Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam (1926-1996) in ...

The gravestone of Dr. Abdus Salam. The words "Muslim" are removed by a judicial action.

Abdus Salam was a proud Pakistani and a Muslim. He went to receive his Noble award in the national dress of Pakistan. He had quoted a verse from Quran in his Noble speech. He departed from the country in protest when Pakistan declared Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Afterwards, he lived in United Kingdom. He kept constant contact with his motherland for all his life. He died in UK. His corpse was brought back to Pakistan and buried in his hometown. His gravestone read “He was the first Muslim Noble laureate.” This was unbearable in Pakistan. He was an Ahmadiyya; he cannot call himself a Muslim even after death. They dusted out the words “Muslim” from his gravestone by a judicial order leaving it to nonsensical “the first Noble laureate.” Every attempt was made to clean out his name from the public memory; even his hometown was renamed. And such an important public figure in Pakistan was rubbed out of history, just because he was an Ahmadiyya, a non-Muslim. The prejudice against Ahmadiyya is so intense in Pakistan that a blogger satirically wrote a public sentiment like “we can convert the Hindus and Christians to Islam; we do not want the Ahmadiyyas.”

One can easily make remarks against political leaders; they are soft targets. A little more courageous can talk even against the military, but to talk against the public sentiment–it takes a great deal (think what kind of comments those got here in India who argued against the Anna Hazare movement). The aaloo anday guys must be congratulated for taking up such an important issue. It may not change the situation in a while, but it can set start a debate. The video ends with the lead singer holding a placard “If you want a bullet through my head, like this video.” Unfortunately, it is really such a case in Pakistan. Take care guys, may God give you a long life.

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8 Responses to “Of potatoes, eggs, Ahmadiyyas, and Pakistan”

  1. Suja Says:

    Well written Ganesh! It was very informative, I was not aware of the Ahmadiyya community and its problems. I am so saddened for the human race that even in this day and age there are those who are so badly treated due to their choice of religion and beliefs. That a whole nationful of people accept this and allow it – that is the frightening.

  2. peace4everynation Says:

    That was a great post, Ganesh. The present mind-frame of the nation of Pakistan is mostly due to its surrendering to religious fanaticism, which has the accursed habit of making parts of the population see others as sub-human. It is indeed, as you rightly point out, a sad state of affairs.

    I would humbly like to point out that it is a common misconception that Muslims of the Ahmadiyya Community do not believe in the finality of Prophethood. We Ahmadi Muslims firmly believe in the finality of law-bearing Prophets, i.e. Prophets who bring a new religious code of law from God. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was such a Prophet, as he brought a new code of Law, the Qur’an. In our opinion, there will never be another law-bearing Prophet like him, and the Qur’anic law is the last one. However, subordinate Prophets who expound this law for the benefit of mankind can still come. So, while other Muslims believe that the finality of Prophethood is absolute, we Ahmadi Muslims believe it applies only to law-bearing Prophets.

    By the way, Ahmadi Muslims also believ that Shri Rama Chandra Ji Maharaj and Shri Krishna Ji Maharaj were true Prophets sent by God to India, and that they were Saakar Swaroopa of Bhagawan – the personal forms of Bhagawan, in the sense that they reflected all the beauties of Bhagawan in their persons so that people could understand Who Bhagawan really is. Some of us even call our children “Krishn” and “Ram”, so it is not mere lip-service. We truly believe in the holiness of these two great men of Bharat.

    Thank you once again for an informative post.

  3. earthdrifter Says:

    I dream that every nation will eventually follow the spiritual freedom that exists in Hindustan.

    • Ganesh Dhamodkar Says:

      Yes, we enjoy a good bit of religious freedom here in India. We are a secular nation and historically respectful of all the ways to reach the Almighty. And we have Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Jains; and many sects among each of them. And each of us have the equal right on this land. Thanks for comment 🙂

  4. seekdipal Says:

    This is a great insight Ganesh. Thanks for liking my post and keep writing 🙂


  5. SEO Says:

    Ahmadi Muslims are all connected and united under one leadership of Khilafat. Those who migrate out of persecuted lands do not forget their brothers and sisters. It is a shameless situation for Pakistan and its leadership that it is not listening to any sane voices from outside or inside and has given free hand to religious mafia.

    • Ganesh Dhamodkar Says:

      Often religions are more intolerant to their own sects than to other religions! But this is beyond imagination, they don’t believe you are Muslims. You believe in “la ilaah il illalah”. As far as I know, you believe in the the finality of book-bringing prophet too! And religion is a belief, if you believe you are a Muslim, you are a Muslim!

  6. Abdus Salam Sahab, we have failed you « Mystified Justice Says:

    […] Of potatoes, eggs, Ahmadiyyas, and Pakistan (blogofreflections.wordpress.com) […]

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