Ordinance XX is a legal ordinance of the Government of Pakistan that was promulgated under the regime of General Zia-ul-Haq and is meant to restrict the practice of Islam and the usage of Islamic terms and titles as well as religious freedom of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. This ordinance bars Ahmadi Muslims, who are deemed non Islamic under Pakistani constitution, from practising their faith and also disallows them from using any Islamic texts for praying purposes.
The ordinance also debars Ahmadis from the use of any honorific titles and modes of address specific to the Prophetic community such as the greeting "As-salamu alaykum" (peace be upon you), reciting the Six Kalimas or the shahada (declaring belief in the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad) etc., from building mosques and calling the Adhan (call to prayer), from undertaking Muslim modes of worship, from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, and from making any citations from the Quran and Muhammad's hadith. Punishment for anyone convicted of doing any of the above is two years imprisonment. Ahmadis, who self-identify as Muslims and practice Islam, claim that the ordinance criminalises their everyday life. Reciting the Kalima (Muslim creed) and greeting with peace in the Muslims way is a criminal offence for Ahmadis in Pakistan.
Ordinance XLIV of 1980 attempted to address the same issue without specifically naming the Ahmadiyya. It amends the PPC as follows:
- 298-A: Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of holy personages:*
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or any of the righteous Caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Ordinance XX followed in 1984, with the following changes to the PPC:
298-B. Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places:
(1) Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group who call themselves 'Ahmadis' or by any other name who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation- (a) refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as "Ameer-ul-Mumineen", "Khalifatul- Mumineen", Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen", "Sahaabi" or "Razi Allah Anho"; (b) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as "Ummul-Mumineen"; (c) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family "Ahle-bait" of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as "Ahle-bait"; or (d) refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship a "Masjid"; shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine. (2) Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahori group (who call themselves "Ahmadis" or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation refers to the mode or form of call to prayers followed by his faith as "Azan", or recites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.
298-C. Person of Qadiani group, etc., calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith:
Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves 'Ahmadis' or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
This law does not allow Ahmadi Muslims to call themselves Muslim or to "pose as Muslims" punishable by three years in prison. This Ordinance and the 1974 amendment in the constitution effectively gave the state of Pakistan, the exclusive right to determine the meaning of the term "Muslim".
In the following four years from the regulation of the ordinance, there were more than 3,000 cases of Ahmadis charged with various offences under the regulation, 6 were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment and 4 were sentenced to death. No executions have occurred to date and such cases have though subsided in recent years. The United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has called on the Commission on Human Rights to "call on the Government of Pakistan to repeal Ordinance XX."
One example is an Ahmadi (Rana Karamatullah) in Mansehra who was charged under Section 298C for "offering prayers" and "citing from the Holy Koran". Mr Karamatullah had already been subjected to repeated arrests since 1984.
- Government of Pakistan - Law for Ahmadis. ThePersecution.org (Reproduction from the Gazette of Pakistan, 26 April 1984)
- Trespasses of the State, Ministering to Theological Dilemmas through the Copyright/Trademark, Naveeda Khan, Sarai Reader, 2005; Bare Acts. Page 178
- Trespasses of the State, Ministering to Theological Dilemmas through the Copyright/Trademark, Naveeda Khan, Sarai Reader, 2005; Bare Acts. Page 184
- www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridocda at UNHCHR
- "Believe it or not! Absurd applications of Ordinance XX and Religious Laws" (PDF). persecutionofahmadis.org. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- Ribeiro, d’Almeida. "IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECLARATION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF INTOLERANCE AND OF DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RELIGION OR BELIEF". COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS. UNHCR. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
Rana Karamatullah, an elderly farmer and businessman from Abbotabad, North-West Frontier Province, was among a group of 55 Ahmadis who are alleged to have met on 12 January 1990 for a prayer meeting in a private household. Khatme Nabuwat Youth Force, a local Islamic group, is said to have informed the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the meeting and the following day cases were registered against 12 of the participants for offering prayers and citing from the Holy Koran under Section 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code. They were allegedly also accused under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance and Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code for disturbing law and order despite the peaceful nature of the meeting. Mr. Karamatullah, who had been subjected to repeated arrests since 1984, was among the 12 persons against whom cases had been registered. On 30 June 1991, Mr. Karamatullah reportedly died in a car accident together with nine other persons, allegedly in suspicious circumstances.