Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD
Epigraph: “Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth glorifies Allah; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. O ye who believe! why do you say what you do not do? Most hateful is it in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.” (Al Quran 61:2-4)
Tahir ul Qadri held a big political rally in Lahore, Pakistan in December and planning more
Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri (Urdu: محمد طاہر القادری) (born 19 February 1951) is a Pakistani Sufi scholar and former professor of international constitutional law at the University of the Punjab. Qadri was recently described by the CNN-IBN as the ‘International Peace Ambassador.’
You would need to know Urdu to appreciate this post.
At the start of his religious and political career, Tahir ul Qadri narrated one of his dreams in late 1970’s or early 1980s, about the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, which is a strange mixture of allegory and material reality.
According to the dream the Prophet came to Pakistan on an invitation of other Ulema (religious scholars), but was disappointed by the state of affairs in Pakistan and would stay further in Pakistan only if Tahir ul Qadri becomes his host and pays for his air travel, within Pakistan and at the end, for his flight back to Medina, in Saudi Arabia.
The video is in Urdu:
The Wikipedia has the following to say about Tahir Qadri’s organization:
Minhaj-ul-Quran International (منہاج القرآن انٹرنیشنل) (or MQI) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) founded by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in 1981 in Lahore, Pakistan. It has a long-term strategic vision to promote religious moderation, effective and sound education, inter-faith dialogue and harmony. It has expanded to 100 countries around the globe. Its emphasis is improving the social, cultural and religious condition, enlightening the masses with the knowledge of their rights and duties and presenting a realistic, rational and scientific picture of Islam.
The headquarters of Minhaj-ul-Quran International was inaugurated in 1987 by Tahir Allauddin Al-Qadri Al-Gillani who is regarded as the organization’s spiritual founder. The objective of Minhaj-ul-Quran in Europe and the West in general is to create harmony in societies between different cultural, ethnic and religious communities through social interaction, interfaith dialogue and spreading the messages of toleration, respect for others and the benefits of integration. It is the first organisation of its kind that has initiated interfaith dialogues with religious minorities. Qadri is the Chairman of the Muslim Christian Dialogue Forum, where Christian bishops and Muslim clerics and scholars work side by side.
Wikipedia or perhaps one of the fans of Tahir ul Qadri claims here, “It is the first organization of its kind that has initiated interfaith dialogues with religious minorities.” Additionally, Tahir ul Qadri is now Chairman for Muslim Christian Dialogue Forum, but hold your judgment until you watch the last video in this post.
The Wikipedia says about his academic achievements and early career:
Qadri studied law at the University of the Punjab, Lahore where he graduated with an LLB in 1974, gaining a Gold Medal for his academic performances. Following a period of legal practice as an advocate, he taught law at the University of the Punjab from 1978 to 1983 and then gained his PhD  in Islamic Law (Punishments in Islam, their Classification and Philosophy) from the same university in 1986 where his supervisors were Bashir Ahmad Siddiqui (‘Ulum al-Islamiyya) and Justice Javaid Iqbal. He was appointed as a professor of law at the University of Punjab, where he taught British, US and Islamic constitutional law.
Tahir ul Qadri in his recent tour to Europe, categorically denies any connections with General Zia ul Haq and Blasphemy Laws. He was for Blasphemy Laws, for 20 years, until he is against them now:
Now a video about his dramatic contributions to Blasphemy Laws from his own tongue. If you would like to see only part of half an hour video, about his historic contributions, in his own assessment, start at 4 minute mark, as he confesses to 18 hour presentation, in favor of Blasphemy Laws, in front of a Federal Court in 1985, in Lahore:
The gross contradictions between Qadri’s videos are self-apparent and need no further elaboration from me.
On a positive note for Prof. Qadri, the last video does give us some additional insights into the schools of Jurisprudence formulated in early centuries. Tahir ul Qadri is certainly a scholar of jurisprudence, whatever his nefarious potential may be, I find no reason, why he should misrepresent the four schools of early Islamic jurisprudence in this video and that opens an all together a new chapter for us, to judge these medieval schools, at least as far as blasphemy and apostasy are concerned.
Madhhab (Arabic: مذهب maḏhab, IPA: [ˈmæðhæb], “doctrine”; pl. مذاهب maḏāhib, [mæˈðæːhɪb]; Turkish: mezhep; Urdu: مذہب mezheb) is a Muslim school of law or fiqh (religious jurisprudence). In the first 150 years of Islam, there were many such “schools”. In fact, several of the Sahābah, or contemporary “companions” of Muhammad, are credited with founding their own. The prominent Islamic jurisprudence schools of Damascus in Syria (often named Awza’iyya), Kufa and Basra in Iraq, and Medina in Arabia survived as the Maliki madhhab, while the other Iraqi schools were consolidated into the Hanafi madhhab. The Shafi’i, Hanbali, Zahiri and Jariri schools were established later, though the latter school eventually died out.
It is claimed that the schools of thought were developed in the 9th and 10th centuries as a means of excluding dogmatic theologians, government officials and non-Sunni sects from religious discourse. Historians have differed regarding the time at which each of the various schools had emerged. It is said that Sunni Islam was initially split into six schools (Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Zahiri, Jariri) before various ruling dynasties later narrowed the number down to four, with the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt eventually creating four independent judicial positions, thus solidifying the Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools. Conversely, some view that Sunni jurisprudence falls into two groups: Ahl al-Ra’i, or people of opinions, due to their emphasis on scholarly judgment and reason; and Ahl al-Hadith, or people of traditions, due to their emphasis on restricting juristic thought to only what is found in scripture.
The four mainstream schools of Sunni jurisprudence today, named after their founders (sometimes called the A’immah Arba‘a or four Imaams of Fiqh), are not generally seen as distinct sects, as there has been harmony for the most part among their various scholars throughout Islamic history.
Generally, Sunni Muslims prefer one madhhab out of the four (normally a regional preference) but also believe that ijtihad must be exercised by the contemporary scholars capable of doing so. Most rely on taqlid, or acceptance of religious rulings and epistemology from a higher religious authority in deferring meanings of analysis and derivation of legal practices instead of relying on subjective readings.
Experts and scholars of fiqh follow the usul (principles) of their own native madhhab, but they also study the usul, evidences, and opinions of other madhhabs.
Insightful listeners would have noted in the above video that all these Imams of jurisprudence were for physical punishment of blasphemy and apostasy.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, on the other hand, argues, based on the Holy Quran and early Islam that there is no punishment for these in Islam, even though political crimes like treachery and mutiny are punishable. Here I link two booklets on the issue of apostasy from the Ahmadiyya perspective:
It seems to me that however well intentioned, these founders of Sunni jurisprudence may have been, they were humans and were caught up in the political and religious realities of their time, when the world was divided into the Islamic Empire and the Christendom, a world of constant Crusades, a world of constant political struggle and intrigue, murder and mayhem. Their opinions were shaped by the realities of their lives, they certainly could not anticipate the realities of the modern global village, where in followers of different religions can live with mutual harmony and peace.
Watching these three videos, one comes to the epiphany, ‘apple does not fall far from the tree!’