Does PUC condemn sectarian violence?

Daily Times: One of Pakistan’s organisations of the clergy, the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), held a national conference titled, ‘Why dialogue between various sects and religions is essential.’ The PUC’s central chairman, Maulana Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, presided over this well-attended conference in Islamabad. The conference was reported widely in the media. And why wouldn’t it be? The PUC appeared to make sense. Six decades too late, the ulema (clerics) finally agreed to condemn sectarian violence and promote interfaith harmony — or so it seemed. Pakistan’s history is soaked in the blood of those who have suffered agonising pains — and continue to — on the basis of their faith. Right at the start, a newborn Pakistan was hit with sectarian violence, when Mullahs belonging to the Jamaat-e-Islami and Ahrar groups led nation-wide riots against the Ahmediyya Muslim community. In 1954, Maulana Maududi was handed the death penalty for his role in initiating this unrest. Later forgiven, he — and clerics from other religious parties — continued to espouse bigotry, spread hatred and incite violence against the Ahmedis. These clerics considered the Islamic sect kafir (heretic) and often declared its adherents wajibul-qatal or ‘worthy of death’. In 1974, the clerics succeeded in inscribing this sectarian bigotry into the constitution of the country. In 1984, General Zia outlawed free profession of religion for the Ahmedis altogether. Many clerics, including Dr Israr, were still not happy. They demanded death for all Ahmedis. Pakistan’s Ahmediyya community — victim of one of the most atrocious examples of religious fanaticism in modern history — was reduced to an ostracised Qadiani (pejorative for Ahmedi) community.
As anticipated, the anti-Ahmedi hysteria spilled over and then Shia Muslims found themselves next in line. Today, Pakistan is one of the worst nightmares for an adherent of any minority sect, let alone a different religion. There is no doubt, therefore, that the country is in bad need of interfaith harmony and dialogue to reverse the wrongs of our ulema. The PUC’s conference was intended to be such a dialogue. However, the fact that no Ahmedi was invited to represent the five million Pakistanis who have suffered the most — and the longest — at the hands of religious bigotry, put the very aim of the conference in jeopardy. Imagine a women’s rights conference without women? Or an anti-racism rally that forbids blacks from joining? Nevertheless, I followed the proceedings with an open mind. The PUC issued a seven-point ‘code of conduct’ at the end of the conference. In this code, attitudes that lead to sectarian violence were identified and condemned: The PUC condemned takfeer (declaration of heresy) and warned that no Islamic sect be declared kafir, as God was the ultimate judge of man’s faith. Pakistan’s own constitution declared an Islamic sect kafir in 1974. Was the PUC suggesting an amendment to the constitution? I inquisitively put this question to Tahir Ashrafi, to which he ‘Takfeered’ me back saying: “Ahmedis are kafir and outside the pale of Islam.

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2 replies

  1. 100 % correct OP writing from Abdul Alim. The problem is arising from the incorrect understanding of the word Kafir. More than 100 years have passed between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadi Maulvis. It is clear that the maulvis are wrong about Kafir. And Ahmadis may not have projected the meaning properly and in good time.
    This problem is continuing for more than 100 years. Maulvis say that Ahmadis are Kafir and Ahmadis know very well that it is the fanatic believers who are kafir.
    Even before the appearance of the promised Messiah a.s. every sect was calling the other Muslim sect as Kafir.
    Now the head of the PUC does not understand the meaning of Kafir and he is calling all Ahmadis and Abdul Alim as Kafir! It is the height of ignorance. The Quran does not support it.
    In such a state, there is no hope for any improvement. The best and the first step that Ahamdis have to do is to (with the permission and advice of the Khalifah sahib) make immediate changes in the printing of the Quran into all languages to reflect the meaning of Kafir as: ” hostile, fanatic disbeliever”. Just a word disbeliever for Kafir is not enough.
    Once meaning is corrected, every one will know who is hostile and belligerent and cruel.
    Our translation of the word Kafir in Quran is too gentle and it is not showing the true face of a Kafir.
    The maulvis are considering every peaceful non-believer as Kafir. They are not sparing any peaceful person of any faith or any Muslim of differing sect too.
    The Quran is clearly describing the Kafir as an open enemy, a war monger and a cruel person. Proof can be provided. I beg refuge with Allah if I have taken any wrong step. Wassalam.

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