L.R. Mahmood

Shazil A., April 3, 2013

L.R. Mahmood

My name is L. R. Mahmood.

Racism is a social evil, which is based on discrimination, coming out from color, race, and this type of other distinctive features.

I was brought up in Pakistan, and I noticed this racism, but over there, its form is tribalism and a caste system. People and families are divided into different castes, and this we have inherited form Hindus. It is not Islamic approach, but in Pakistan that is different tribes. People divided into different provinces, speaking different languages. Racism is existing in this form. Now it has become more intense. People in Sindh are disliking people in Punjab. People in Punjab are hated by people in Sarhad, and the Balochistan people they are neglected or politically persecuted. So that is the racism in my country of birth is in the form of tribalism and caste system, but the evil exerts are the same, that is people are discriminated.

By the grace of Allah, I have not experienced any bitter type of action from my peer group, but in my school days, college days, university, people disliked me on basis of religion. I have never hidden my Ahmadiyyat. I always told them that I belonged to Ahmadiyya sect, Ahmadiyya jamaat. The extremist type of people disliked me. Although I remember one or two Mullahs would bring sweets or other things and bring them to me, and they asked me to pray for them, but on the whole I was discriminated by my religious beliefs.

I did not take any action to stop those who were disrespecting me.

Did you travel to many different places in Pakistan?

That depends on the meaning of “many.” I have traveled to many different provinces, spent some time, and have met the people. I have known people belonging to different languages and different tribes, or in other words: different provinces. Because I have been in the people’s area of Pashtoons, I was a teacher over there. I was working with teachers and spent most of the time [with] educated people, so I did not experience any bitterness over there. Whenever you are mixing with other people, you clearly notice that the people from Punjab are disliked and discriminated by the Pashtoons. My Pashtoon friends and I don’t know the reason, but they were very friendly. Very friendly.

You see, Pakistan has deteriorated from the time of its conception. Pakistan was established in 1947. I was, I think, 9 or 10. That was totally different environment. Everybody loved you. People were happy with the new country and new environment. The refugees who came from India, they were equally respected and treated and helped. With the passage of time, for example in 1953, for the first time I experienced hatred. That was Anti-Ahmadiyya days. There [were] meetings and processions and demands that Ahmadis should be killed and Ahmadis should be boycotted. In 1953, I noticed this type threats and persecution. Then later on, in ’74, again – same thing happened.

Now, there is lot of political ideas on racism and political parties. There is great hatred which exists between people of all the provinces of Pakistan. It did not exist at the time of creation. Now it is at the climax. It can be seen in media, in printing press. It can be seen in public speeches, and it can be seen in mosques. Mosques, which are the house of god, places of worship, have been bombed. Even the Ahmadis have been killed in Lahore. The Shia people are being attacked nowadays. Shia is a sect, and they are 20% of Pakistan. We are not 20%; we may be 1 or 2%. The Shias are not safe. That means this discrimination has enhanced, has been increased.

Prior to coming to the US, I have spent 29 years in Africa in Sierra Leone. I was a teacher, and I have been a principal for a very long time, then I was a missionary. I was mixing with the people, spending time with the villages, sleeping in their huts and mud houses. Because I represented the jamaat, I enjoyed the prestige. I remember that once a small canal was to be crossed, I insisted, that although that I am not a swimmer, that I can cross it by foot. An Ahmadi man said, “No, I will take you on my back.” As a representative of the jamaat, I enjoyed great prestige over there. And the other African people, because we were teachers and missionaries, our jamaat’s contribution was self-evident, so we were respected. Many strangers, who were white skin people from Arab country, Lebanon, they were disliked, because they were not making contribution for the uplift. They were considered as traitors and exploiters. We were not considered as exploiters. We were considered as people making some contribution. So in Africa I have a very pleasant impression. Even after this time, when I left Sierra Leone, continent of Africa, in 1995. That is a long time, it means after 18 years. If they hear that I am sick over here, they keep fast, they slaughter goats, and they pray for me, because they know I have made contribution steadily for 29 years. I was not an exploiter, but I was an educator. So I did not experience any bitter thing in Africa. When I came over here, I have pleasant memories and no bitterness. After 9/11, immediately after a week or so, I traveled. I had to go to Chicago and other places. There was no extraordinary discrimination. I was told to remove my shoes, and I stand and open my arms, and other white people were doing the same thing. Other ladies, kids, men, black, white, everybody, and I noticed they are being treated in the same way. I did not feel any bitterness.

Some of my relatives, in 1953 and in 1974, suffered the Anti-Ahmadiyya persecution. My brother, he was attending engineering university. The class fellows, the students plotted that they would kill him. Someone informed him, so he ran in time, and his books were burnt, his belongings were destroyed, and he had to run desperately and hide here and there to save his skin. They wanted to kill him. But God saved him, and he is serving as an engineer here in Houston. So that is what happened to my brother.

1953 is a big year for me. That was the year I was persecuted. I remember one student, I did not take it seriously, may own class fellow, he was attending the same school, we were students in a government school, and he said, “I will shoot you, I will kill you.” I did not take it seriously. No, but one thing I remember, two years prior to that when Hadrat Khalifatul Masih 2 visited our dome. I was student, I think, of your age. This was the impression that we are persecuted, that in our community we are hated, and we are disliked. Huzoor should not be exposed to danger. I remember I was holding a stick, which was twice my height. I, in my own eye, was thinking, “I am going to protect Huzoor at all costs.” At the back of my mind was that Ahmadis are hated in this city.

In Pakistan and India, Bangladesh, there were distinctions between male and female. That is what we have inherited from Hindus and the Indians. The Muslims in Pakistan and Punjab, they have lived within this for 1000 years. We have inherited two bad things: One, the caste system. That is, “He belongs to a noble caste. He is a descendent of the Holy Prophet. He is a Rajpoot. He is this, and he is that. He is a poor person or if he was popular.” This distinction was not in Islam. This we have inherited from Hindus. It is part of our sin in Pakistan. Second thing that we inherited is that the women are inferior. This is not what Islam has taught. This is not what Islam had taught. Even the Qur’an says that men are guardian over women, not superior. Because the next part of that verse is that they are responsible to feed them, clothe them, provide shelter for them. God is talking about responsibility, not superiority. Islam has not made this discrimination, but today’s Muslims in India and Pakistan – it is in the back of their mind that my wife is inferior. They feel that, “She is inferior to me and I am superior; I am the boss.” That we inherited from India. In the household of the Holy Prophet (saw), this was not the environment. Even with the other Caliphs, this was not the environment. The Promised Messiah, who respected his wife very much, at that time the religious people, ruled India. Queen Victoria was the queen of the British Empire. People used to refer to Ameer-ul-Momineen, that, “Be careful, respect your wife, if you don’t know, it is the time of Queen Victoria.” They used to refer to Ameer-ul-Mumineen about Queen Victoria. Because Promised Messiah respected others like this. But now, the Hindu culture has become more dominant in India. Sometimes men will not openly agree, but they feel that the females are inferior. In a household, you are lucky that you have all three brothers. If there were boys and girls, the girl’s mother, mother whose heart should be very tender, would treat the boys in a different way. Better food, better clothing, more love, more attention. The girls would be considered to serve, and to respect. If they got into some sort of fight, and the girl was bigger and slapped the younger one, the mother was forced to apologize. This we have inherited from Hindus. This is not what Islam has said. Islam has made both of us equal. In my 45 or 46 years of marriage, one day I have said a harsh thing to my wife. Beating or slapping, that is unimaginable. But in Pakistan or India, husbands beat their wives. Ahmadis are relatively better. Educated people, concentrated people, sensible people, but non-Ahmadis treat wives as inferior.

Why, nothing of the type happened to where we had to have a militia. Like I said before, I did not take it seriously. I have just mentioned to what my classmate told me. I concluded that he was lying when he said, “I have a pistol in my house, I will bring it tonight and shoot you.” I did not take it seriously. I attended Ahmadiyya college and a high school and government school. One thing I remember is that if there were any sarcastic remarks by any of the students, my teachers took my side, and they protected me. They encouraged me and counseled me, but maybe for my intellectual record they loved me, but I was always supported by teachers. That was a big moral boost. Even if some student was aggressive, I did not mind it.

There some acts that were so aggressive, so powerful, that it showed up everywhere you went. From about your age, I started reading newspaper. At that time, the newspaper price was roughly two to three cents. My mother used to buy everyday. From that time I am an inordinate reader of newspaper and magazines and all these things. I have been reading this type of bad news. Now even in Pakistan and India, you will not know it, but husbands cut the nose of the wife, cut the ears, the lips, and gouge the eyes. These type of hate crimes are over there. Recently the Shia people in Quata and Karachi, they have been killed in hundreds. Couple of years ago, two mosques in Lahore the Ahmadis lost about 80 or 90 people. This type of things that come into the news and into the media. Sometimes if there is very bad news, which disturbs my heart, I have a bad habit; I cut that clipping and put it in my notebooks. I have sometimes good news also; I think I have about 20 notebooks in which this type of clippings are over there. Sometimes when I hate, my eyes have tears in them. Husband is treating like this, and father is treating like this. Once I read in the news that even Hadrat Khlifatul Masih 2 mentioned it in the sermon. One man in India, with a small baby, maybe one year, he just cut it into two pieces. This type of cruelty and ignorance. Nowadays the fights between Sidth people and Balouch people and Baton people and Mahajir people in Pakistan. Here that is what we call hate crimes. I don’t know whether it is a good word that some white superiority complex people, they harm black people colored people. I think about 10 years ago a black man was tied behind a truck and was dragged along the road until he was scattered into pieces. It was in the newspaper, I remember. Because here the level of education is high and students are taught against the hate crimes, and police are vigilant, the situation has completely improved, but before Abraham Lincoln there was a term, which is known as lynching. That is when poor people or black people are tied with the trees and are shot to death. But now it is not happening. In individual cases maybe one or two. I have been reading about this type of racial discrimination in newspapers, the Urdu newspapers, English newspaper, magazines, and Newsweek, Time, but it is there. Any bad thing is there, and they take note of it.

I don’t remember treating anybody badly myself. If this counts, my five or six friends were sitting there and someone passed a racial remark, not here but in Africa, It did not come out of my mouth, but I remained silent. I didn't protest. For example, stealing is very common, but it does not mean that each and every person was a thief, but it is common. So once my friend remarked the even if a prophet was sent to Africa, he would have stolen something. It was very bad of him, but I think I did not react pungently. This is what I remember, when he made a bad remark, but I did not react immediately. In my heart I felt hurt, because Holy Prophet said if you see bad thing or hear bad thing, and you have the ability to help, then do it. If you want to stop it with your tongue, then go for it. And if you are so weak that you can’t do anything, at least protest in your heart. I have been protesting in the heart. When I became missionary, then many a time I referred to the last sermon of the Holy Prophet in Hajj. In the Qur’anic verse “Only the pious people will have honor with Allah.” I think for a long time I have delivered hundreds of sermons in Africa. This was my favorite topic. I would preach that respect everybody and with reference to the Holy Prophet’s teaching.

Race is an element for terrorism. It should be further expanded. That is – race is there. Political philosophy is an element, and economy is also an element. Not only the race. But, for example, for Osama bin Ladin we find all three are combined. He said you should kill each and every American, even women and children. This is racism. This is discrimination against a race. They have not done anything wrong to you individually but politically. He says they have attacked Afghanistan; they have killed Muslims over there. Therefore they deserve retaliation. Political and economic factor also! He also said that Europe is also exploiting Muslim’s wealth and Arab kings and sheikhs’ petro-dollars, they are in the banks of America and Europe. He said we need to punish them because it is our wealth which is being exploited. So it is not only race, race plus wealth and political thoughts. All three combined make terrorism ,and when religion is added to it, it becomes extremely dangerous. A small child like you or younger than you, the mullah will brainwash him and would give suicide jacket. He would go and kill so many people. They will tell him that immediately after explosion there is a breakfast ready for you in the paradise. And if a suicide bomber is a young man, they will say to him that if you commit suicide and kill people then there are 72 virgins waiting for you in paradise. This is religious factor. Religion is also an element, but thank God that, we God Almighty that He has enabled our elders to accept Promised Messiah (peace be on him). We are not in the group of this crowd. I haven’t heard about any Ahmadi who has ended his life like a terrorist, not a single one. It is the blessing of Promised Messiah (peace be on him).

I am a very weak person, very weak person and a very humble person. I don’t think that I have power to create a big change, but if I have the ability to change I would love to like that people should accept Ahmadiyya Interpretation of Islam, because they promote the peace in this world. It will eliminate all types of racism, terrorism and everything like that. It is Ahmadiyyat where people have come from Shias, Sunnies, Wahabies and from all other sects. They have come from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Bahaism and from all other faiths. This is the platform which demolishes all the artificial barriers of racism, tribalism and provincialism. Every kind of discrimination is unauthorized by Islam. Islam has recognized nation, tribe, caste, and creed only for identification, only for the sake identification and not for any other purpose – not for discrimination.