A Genealogy of Anti-Ahmadism: from class-enemy to biological threat

Muhammad Saad Lakhani
Adjunct Lecturer
Habib University

ABSTRACT: Pakistan's blasphemy laws are a political technology of rule seeking to maintain public order through the regulation of "religious passions." As such, the goal of these laws has been to control triggers that provoke unruly passions. It is in this context that anti-Ahmadi passions can be understood as an essential element of anti-Ahmadism--today embodied as they are in anti-Ahmadi blasphemy laws. It is argued in this paper that the historical emergence of anti-Ahmadism is tied to multiple political contestations. Anti-Ahmadism first emerged in a politics against the Muslim elite in the 1930s, and in this political construction Ahmadis became the embodiment of an elite treachery to Islam. This study traces how this class dimension gradually receded to the background and anti-Ahmadism became something more general and autonomous. By tracing how figures like Iqbal and Mawdudi constructed the Ahmadi problem and how subsequent anti-Ahmadi movements dealt with it, it is argued that Ahmadis came to be seen as a biological threat to the Muslim community whilst anti-Ahmadi violence came to be seen as expressive of a certain spiritual vitalism and plentitude. By analyzing a crucial Supreme Court judgment in 1993, this paper seeks to show how this longer history supplements the present incorporation and patronage of the passionate subject as normative citizen by the Pakistani state.

KEYWORDS: Ahmadiyya; Blasphemy Laws; Passions; Muslim Subjectivity

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