The ‘Othering’ of Ahmadiyya Community in Bangladesh

In “The ‘Othering’ of the Ahmadiyya Community in Bangladesh”, Humayun Kabir notes that the Ahmadiyya community has been historically subject to “othering” by the mainstream Muslims who are strongly antithetical to the Ahmadi belief in the prophethood of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Distinctive in the process of “othering”, as delineated in this chapter, is that earlier the nature of resistance against the Ahmadiyya community was limited to theological debates, reform and preaching activities, but now it is becoming increasingly intolerant, hostile and violent. Kabir captures the shift from the Bengali Deobandis’ preaching (tablighi) and reformist activities that began to construct the Ahmadiyya community as religiously “other” in Brahmanbaria, which is where the country’s first Ahmadiyya Jamaat was established in 1912, to the rise of more politically charged violent persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in the 1980s, the beginning of the desecularization of the Bangladeshi state. He argues that the hate campaign against and persecution of the Ahmadiyya community tends to undermine the inclusive and syncretized religious traditions in Bangladesh, and that this is the result of the rise of political Islamic forces and their gradual strength in popularizing the demands for the sanctity of Sunni Islam—that is, the Deobandi/Wahhabi variant of it. Kabir claims that the increased persecution of the Ahmadiyya community is bound to happen if the state fails to demarcate the boundary between religion and politics, and if the liberal-democratic forces continue to maintain an alliance with the Islamists and bow to their popular Islamist demands.

Kabir, H. (2016). The “Othering” of the Ahmadiyya Community in Bangladesh. In Syed, J. et al. (Eds) Faith-Based Violence and Deobandi Militancy in Pakistan (pp. 423-452). Palgrave Macmillan, London.