On September 7, 1974, exactly 40 years ago, the Second Amendment to the Constitution that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims was passed. It was a kind of culmination of their social ostracisation that began after the intense and violent anti-Ahmadiyya movement of the early 1950s. Thereafter, they became non-Muslims legally speaking. But then the ulema began their next set of demands which led to the promulgation of Ordinance XX in 1984 during Ziaul Haq’s rule. This effectively curtailed their social and political exclusion in every manner possible.
An academic work drawing sustenance from research and open discussion has the potential to influence public discourse which seems to have reached a dead end in this case. This is how one should read Ali Usman Qasmi’s recent book Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan. Pathbreaking and insightful, the book relies on the recently declassified parliamentary debates from 1974 as well as the proceedings of the Munir Inquiry Committee.
A PhD in South Asian History, Ali Usman Qasmi who teaches at LUMS shared his thoughts on the book which is going to be available in Pakistan in December this year. Excerpts of interview follow.
The News on Sunday (TNS): How did you become interested in a work of this kind and what did you hope to achieve with this?
Ali Usman Qasmi (AUQ): I have been working on themes relating to South Asian Islam, the idea of reform since the 19th century and the kind of changes which have taken place in the discourse of Islam. That’s what my first work on the Ahl al-Qur’an movement was about as well.