My faith, my field: How Khalifatul Masih’s guidance shaped my life

Iatezaz Ahmad, USA

Iatezaz Ahmad Tariq, a 33-year-old member of the USA Jamaat, has a decade of law enforcement experience, beginning as a patrol officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in 2014 and evolving through specialized units to address violent crimes, illegal firearms, and gang activities in Washington, D.C. With a BS in Criminology and minors in Homeland Security and Intelligence Analysis, his innovative methods in social media investigations have significantly contributed to law enforcement efforts, leading to his recent appointment as a Special Agent at the Office of Inspector General, focusing on healthcare fraud investigations. – Editor


What can I say? I’m a 90s baby. I grew up in America during a time when pop culture dominated much of what people would socialise about. You had explosive popularity for Hip Hop spread throughout the country. The film industry and television played large roles in the lives of Americans as blockbuster hits such as Jurassic Park and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air played in movie theatres and across television sets everywhere.

In terms of other aspects of the 90s, it did not hold back either, as America experienced a range of societal issues, including, but not limited to, gun violence, consumerism and debt, adolescent shootings, racial tensions, internet and technological advancements, economic changes, and the run of the mill politics and foreign relations.

The crack epidemic crushed many major cities across the country. Federal funding for the “War on Drugs” reached $17.1 billion dollars. This came with disproportionate sentencing guidelines for men and women of colour as compared to white Americans. The Federal government passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and at the time, this was the largest crime bill in the history of the country. It included 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons and $6.1 billion in funding for prevention programmes. (“How the ‘90s changed the future of law enforcement”,

In 1992, four Los Angeles policemen, three of them white, were acquitted of the barbaric beating of Rodney King, an African American man. The attack was broadcast across the nation and resulted in five days straight of rioting in Los Angeles. Residents set fires, and looted and destroyed liquor stores, grocery stores, retail shops and fast-food restaurants. Ultimately, following the riots, there were more than 50 riot-related deaths, which included 10 people who were shot and killed by the LAPD and National Guardsmen. More than 2,000 people were injured and nearly 6,000 alleged looters and arsonists were arrested. Out of the people arrested, 36% were African Americans and 51% were Latinos. (“When LA Erupted In Anger: A Look Back At The Rodney King Riots”,

Gun violence, and in particular surrounding adolescents, wreaked havoc across the country. The Columbine High School massacre happened on 20 April 1999, and the continued relevance of that tragic event is felt to the present day.

The sad reality is that this brief snapshot of America during the 90s is not too far from the America that exists today. Minorities, including the African American community, have continued to experience disproportionate treatment from the American legal system. This has caused continued racial tensions and mistrust towards law enforcement across the nation. That brings us to the death of Michael Brown in 2014, which led to the Ferguson riots in Missouri due to a white police officer killing Brown, who was unarmed at the time.

So, why is this harsh illustration needed? The answer is that this is the America that I was raised in and these events mentioned are but a brief microcosm of the societal issues that I have been exposed to. Being born into Islam Ahmadiyyat has been a blessing that I still cannot thank Allah enough for. You don’t realise how lucky you truly are until you become older, and that wisdom and awakening occurs. Growing up in America, I knew my brothers and I were different from our peers. From not eating pork at school to attending Sunday class to increase our religious knowledge, or to the simple aspects of treating everyone with absolute justice, kindness, and kinship. In my particular case, my parents decided before my birth that they would dedicate my life to the service of Islam and Ahmadiyyat under the Waqfe-Nau scheme in America. I grew up with even more pressure on my shoulders to truly grasp the concept of sacrifice. At a young age, this was increasingly difficult, as I was just trying to be a kid like my friends. Whether it was having fun playing tackle football with the neighbourhood kids or playing Donkey Kong on Super Nintendo with my older brother, I was just trying to be a regular American kid.

My parents, especially my mother, would pack us brothers in the car and drive an excess of an hour to the masjid to ensure we did not lose sight of who we really were: the blessed members of the Promised Messiah’sas community. I remember one summer, I attended a Tarbiyyat camp at the masjid. I was probably 15 years old and there was a special session for waqifeen-e-nau so I was told I had to attend while the other atfal got to go outside and play. I spent the first moments of the session feeling bad for myself, but eventually snapped out of it and locked in. It was the first step in re-dedicating my parents’ pledge of me serving Islam and Ahmadiyyat as a waqif-e-nau. I signed the form and truthfully, I understood what I was signing, but the urge to run outside and play basketball was so powerful and distracting.

Fast forward to the age of 18, and I was approached again to re-dedicate. Now I had a bit more consciousness of the form and its gravity. I knew that this truly was what I wanted to do with my life. I remember having a blessed mulaqat with beloved Huzooraa, and I had built the courage to announce in front of my family that I wanted to attend Jamia in Canada. When it came to my turn to speak, I said with my chin raised, “I want to attend Jamia Huzooraa!” Before beloved Huzooraa could respond, my mother inserted, “He should first attend university.” Ultimately, beloved Huzooraa advised me to go into the medical field. I gave it my best shot and after two semesters, I wrote to Huzooraa and informed him that I was truly struggling in this field of education and desired further direction, to which Huzooraa responded to do what I had an interest in.

Something came over me and I thought to myself that I wanted to serve Islam and Ahmadiyyat by physically protecting the institution of Khilafat and serving with Amla Hifazat. I resumed my studies and at the end of my education, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Criminology in 2014. Now that I had finished, before my graduation I decided to present myself before Huzooraa and offer my services to the Community. I informed Huzooraa that I had completed my studies and wanted to serve within Amla Hifazat, but was ready to do whatever he directed me to do.

Huzooraa looked at me and directed me to go into law enforcement as a police officer for 2 years and then report back. I was struck by an immense flow of emotions and feelings and spent the entire journey home thinking about law enforcement in America. This was right around the time of the Ferguson riots and the racial tensions between the police and the community were at an all-time high. To enter the field of law enforcement during this time in history was not a popular opinion by any means. I looked within myself and accepted the task, and I knew that if Huzooraa had given me such a specific direction, there would be no way my efforts would be wasted.

With guidance from Huzooraa, I joined the police department in Washington DC and began my journey in law enforcement at the end of 2014. As is often time seen in films, the rookie treatment did exist to a certain extent. After passing the police academy and the field training portion of being an officer, I was placed on the overnight shift in one of the most violent quadrants of the city. I remember, when they announced where I was going to be assigned, my parents were very afraid knowing that I would be working in an area where gun violence was so high.

I did not hesitate, as I had the guidance of my beloved Huzooraa and I knew that his prayers would protect me from the physical and psychological harm of the profession. I experienced such pain and suffering from the eyes of the community that I would carry a part of that trauma with me wherever I went. I knew that being a policeman would be difficult and I knew that I would be in the profession during a time when I would need to go on the offensive to gain the trust of the community with each individual interaction I had. This is not to say that I was always successful with this approach. Some pain and trauma displayed by people through violence cannot be solved through one interaction with an Ahmadi Muslim policeman.

The crushing pressure of socio-economic issues is often felt by minorities and other vulnerable parts of society, especially as it relates to inner cities such as Washington DC. As an officer, I quickly realised that the communities that I served had a sense of desperation and frustration and these factors only compounded the overall violence and narcotic issues that existed. These were large lessons I learned within two years of working in this profession and I eventually returned to Huzooraa to report back. I was then directed to do another two years and repeat this process that I had just done.

I had thought that I would serve for two years and that I would be serving near beloved Huzooraa. As any young man in his twenties, I felt some feelings that is there something lacking within me that I had not been allowed to stay with beloved Huzooraa? It was only then that after doing some research I started to enlighten myself on the concept of true, unquestionable obedience to the institution of Khilafat.

In the Holy Quran, Allah says:

“O ye who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you.” (Surah an-Nisa’, Ch.4: V.60)

This verse struck me because, the reality is, beloved Huzooraa had directed me and I could not waiver in my acceptance of the guidance and full resolve to see it through.

I continued my work and by carrying myself with the values of Islam and Ahmadiyyat, I began to develop skills that would prove my value to various specialised policing teams. Within the next two years, I experienced even more in terms of handling life-or-death situations and providing true support regardless of one’s race, class, creed, or colour of their skin when these individuals needed help the most. I returned to update Huzooraa, and Huzooraa directed me to continue in my profession and return after two more years.

Now I was invigorated and returned with even more drive to enhance my abilities in law enforcement and in treating the community with absolute justice, kindness, and kinship. Upon returning to America, I was selected to be a part of the police department’s specialised team with the task of removing illegal weapons from Washington DC. This level of work was highly demanding and required a great deal of skill and tact to complete the job and keep everyone, including the community, safe.

By the grace of Allah, I received many accolades during this two-year window and was able to work to remove over 569 illegal weapons from the city within my first year. During this time, there were no police-involved shootings during these interactions with the public. I can only attribute such staggering statistics to the prayers of Huzooraa.

Even up to this point, many people within my sphere of influence would recommend that perhaps I should change my profession due to the danger and other factors involved, including the increasing number of viral negative interactions with the community, perpetrated by law enforcement across the nation. People would go to the lengths of having discourse with me, where they would compare me to officers who had abused their authority and acted unjustly with the communities they served. They would express their concern, comparing my position to being submerged in a sea of moral dilemmas, fearing that one could not emerge untouched by the systemic issues prevalent within law enforcement. They worried about the potential for even the most well-intentioned officers to be influenced by the negative aspects of the system.

My reaction would be the same to such critical views: my Khalifa has spoken, and I will, God-willing, follow that directive until I meet my death. The divine light behind Huzooraa can shine in the darkest and most unsettling environments, providing oneself with unwavering protection. I am in my tenth year of following Huzoor’saa guidance, and Allah has only enabled me to increase my obedience to the directives I have received, Alhamdulillah. Throughout these past ten years, I have often looked within my faith to find things to motivate me and drive me to work to become the best law enforcement officer that I can achieve to become. One of the most profound statements that I have come across is the necessity in Islam for complete obedience to the Will of Allah the Almighty. The Promised Messiahas has stated:

“Obedience to the Creator means that in order to make manifest His Honour, Glory and Unity, one should be ready to endure every dishonour and humiliation, and one should be eager to undergo a thousand deaths in order to uphold His Unity. One hand should be ready to cut off the other with pleasure in obedience to Him, and the love of the grandeur of His commandments and the thirst for seeking His pleasure should make sin so hateful as if it were a consuming fire, or a fatal poison, or an obliterating lightning, from which one must run away with all one’s power. To seek His pleasure, one must surrender all the desires of one’s ego, and to establish a relationship with Him, one should be ready to endure all kinds of injuries, and to prove such a relationship, one must break off all other relationships.

“The service of one’s fellow beings means to strive for their benefit purely for the sake of God in all their needs, and in all the relationships of mutual dependence which God has established out of true and selfless sympathy for them. All in need of help should be helped out of one’s God-given capacity and one must do his best for their betterment both in this world and in the hereafter.” (A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, pp. 59-62)

My faith and obedience to Khilafat continue to drive my efforts within law enforcement. I can only pray that I am given the ability to serve in this capacity as the years move on. Amin.

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