Zane Ahmad Choudhury
Zane Ahmad Chowdhry is a Junior studying Science, Technology, and International Affairs at Georgetown University with minors in history and mathematics. His identity as an Ahmadi Muslim inspires his research on the impact of social media proliferation on religious minority communities in South Asia. Outside of his studies, Zane also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Georgetown literary magazine, The Anthem, and is active in his campus' Muslim Student Association by promoting intra-religious and inter-religious dialogue. He serves his Ahmadi community by serving as the Vice Chairman of the Muslim Writers Guild of America to work with young Ahmadi men to publish letters and op-eds in local and national publications across the US.
About the collection
Zane's collection has two foci, one global and one local. For the former, he focused on his own community of Ahmadi Muslims. For the latter, he tracked posts on Nextdoor by residents of his hometown of Vancouver, WA. One caveat: though his town has a substantial Asian and Hispanic population, they seem not to be using Nextdoor and their voices therefore cannot be captured by this method. Still, these screenshots provide a window into how his local community has experienced the pandemic.
Nextdoor in Vancouver, WA
These screenshots from Nextdoor provide a glimpse into how one locality is experiencing the pandemic. The posts document new economic pressures, concerns about vulnerable populations like the homeless and the elderly, newfound friendliness and community policing of social distancing, as well as the proliferation of rumors.
COVID-19 and the Ahmadiyya Community
Guidance from the Caliph
The Community's fifth and current Khalifa, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, had paused his weekly televised Khutbahs (Friday Sermons) for only one week. This is the only time in my memory that this Khalifa has paused the Friday Sermon broadcast, and he has been serving as the Khalifa since 2003. He instead chose to give a comparatively brief video message from his new office, which was inaugurated in late 2019. In this Urdu message (subtitled in English), he advised the Community to pray Jummah at home and keep steadfast in prayer on top of several health recommendations. The only times I can name off hand in which the Khalifa has not led Jummah prayer are immediately after the demise of a sitting Khalifa; during the Partition of India and Pakistan; when the third Khalifa, Mirza Nasir Ahmad, was shot during prayer (although he recovered); and the passage of Pakistan's Ordinance XX, promulgated on 26 April 1984 to prohibit the practice of Islam and the usage of Islamic terms and titles for the Ahmaddiya Community, only resuming when the sitting Khalifa fled to the UK. After sending this message, the Khalifa resumed his weekly sermons, saying that people can still listen to them at home and then perform Jummah prayer themselves. By stopping the Jummah Sermon for a week, the Khalifa here demonstrated to skeptical Ahmadis that offering prayers at home is licit during these uncertain times.
The Corona Pandemic: Our Duties and Responsibilities- Urdu Sermon by Khalifa Mirza Masroor Ahmad,, 4/10/2020