The Ahmadiyya movement doesn’t allow Ahmadi’s to run for public office without the approval of the Khalifa. This is a silent rule, they don’t publicize this at all. In fact, in 1976, an Ahmadi (Bashir Tahir) in Pakistan tried to run as an Ahmadi in the minority seats which are available by the Pakistani government. The Khalifa, Mirza Nasir Ahmad immediately kicked him out of Ahmadiyya, since he was running for office without approval, and the Khalifa would never allow any Ahmadi to run for office in Pakistan. Another Ahmadi in the USA who is fond of politics is Qasim Rashid, who recently lost in his bid for Congress in Virginia’s 1st District. He also lost when he ran for Senate 2 years ago. He seems like he will keep trying.
Who is Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie, Maryland
Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie, Maryland seems to come from an Ahmadi family which is highly involved in politics. She won re-election to the District 5 seat on the Prince George’s County Board of Education.
Her father is Shukoor Ahmed, aged 58. Shukoor did his Master’s in public policy in the early years as they settled down in Bowie, the fifth largest municipality in Maryland.
He quickly became a entreprenuer and owns a technology startup, V-Empower which was picked by Deloitte as the fastest growing private company in 2007 in Maryland and was ranked 263 of the top 500 companies nationwide by Inc. magazine the same year. His business seems to be going good.
Always opinionated about issues, Shukoor became a youth leader in his faith community early on even though he is a reformist by nature. He is against animal sacrifice, for instance, though it’s a part of certain traditions in the Muslim community. “Why sacrifice animals? It’s not relevant. Sacrifice your stocks or bonds instead,” he says.
Raaheela and Shabnam were five and three years old when their father first stood for local elections as a Democratic candidate in 1998, and campaigned for him again in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
In 2012, he passed the baton to Raaheela. “He always told us, ‘You can do it.’ He spoke it into existence,” says Raaheela, who was 18 when she first ran for the county board of education and lost against a powerful incumbent, and 23 when she won in 2016. Her victory to public office as a young Muslim woman of colour was considered significant in a year that Donald Trump was elected the US President with his divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric.
His last (lost) election in 2014, Shukoor has now taken to mentoring young people of colour to run for office. “Four of them won,” he says proudly. “People have this impression about desis being doctors, engineers or professors; they never think of us as political leaders. It’s time to change that.”
After Raaheela’s 2016 success, Shukoor convinced his second-born Shabnam to give electoral politics a shot. In 2018, Shabnam ran against the same opponent her father had lost to four years earlier. She lost by a mere 42 votes.
“Considering we did our own fundraising and had no sponsors, we had to prove ourselves going door-to-door,” says Shabnam, who is doing her Master’s in public health from George Washington University and is a xenophile and linguist who knows six languages.
Though Raaheela was thrice denied a visa to travel to India, Shabnam managed to visit several Indian cities; she also travelled to Peru as a volunteer, and has served at various non-profits across the US.
Links and Related Essay’s
11 Elections, 3 Wins: The Ahmed Family of Maryland Doesn’t Give Up
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