Javed Ahmad Ghamidi: A Scholar to Overcome Extremism


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Javed Ahmad Ghamidiجاوید احمد غامدی

জাভেদ আহমেদ

Javed Ahmed Ghamidi.jpg

Ghamidi in Georgetown University, USA, 27 May 2015
1st president of Al-Mawrid
Born 18 April 1951
Nationality Pakistani
Era Modern era
Region Muslim world
Occupation academic PhilosopherTheologian Historian linguistic, public intellectual
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) Islamic law

Quran exegesis

Islamic philosophy

Islamic history

Modern philosophy

Notable idea(s) Separation of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from Sharia (Divine law)
Clear delineation of rules governing the primary sources of religion
Complete framework for study of Islam,
Alma mater Government College Ma in philosophy, BA in English .
Disciple of Abul A’la Maududi, Amin Ahsan Islahi
Website javedahmadghamidi.com//

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (Urdu: جاوید احمد غامدی) (born 1951) is a Pakistani Islamic modernist theologist who hosted a primetime religious-spiritual show on Dunya News.[1][2]

Quran scholar and exegete, and educationist, who extended the work of his tutor, Amin Ahsan Islahi,[3] Ghamidi is the founder of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences and its sister organisation Danish Sara.[3] He became a member of Council of Islamic Ideology on 28 January 2006 for a couple of years,[4][5] a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to Pakistan Government and the Parliament. He has also taught at the Civil Services Academy from 1980 until 1991.[3] He is running an intellectual movement similar to Wastiyya in Egypt on the popular electronic media of Pakistan.[6]

Ghamidi’s discourse is primarily with the traditionalists on the one end and Jamaat-e-Islami and its seceding groups on the other.[6] In Ghamidi’s arguments, there is no reference to the Western sources, human rights or current philosophies of crime and punishment.[6]Nonetheless he reaches conclusions which are similar to those of Islamic modernists and progressives on the subject, within the traditional Islamic framework.[6]

Early life

Ghamidi was born on 18 April 1951 in a Muslim family from Jiwan Shah near Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Pakistan.[6] His father belongs to a town called Daud some 80 kilometres from Lahore, near Ravi river. His father follows qadri junaidi Sufi order. He has two elder sisters. His early education included a modern path (Matriculation from Islamia High School, Pakpattan), as well as a traditional path (Arabic and Persian languages, and the Qur’an with Mawlawi Nur Ahmad of Nang Pal).[6] He later graduated from Government College, Lahore, with a BA Honours in English in 1972.[7] Initially, he was more interested in literature and philosophy. Later on, he worked with renowned Islamic scholars like Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi and Amin Ahsan Islahi on various Islamic disciplines particularly exegesis and Islamic law.[3]

In his book, Maqamat (مقامات), Ghamidi starts with an essay “My Name” (میرا نام) to describe the story behind his surname, which sounds somewhat alien in the context of the Indian Subcontinent. He describes a desire during his childhood years to establish a name linkage to his late grandfather Noor Elahi, after learning of his status as the one people of the area turned to, to resolve disputes. This reputation also led to his (grandfather’s) reputation as a peacemaker (مصلح). Subsequently, one of the visiting Sufi friends of his father narrated a story of the patriarch of the Arab tribe Banu Ghamid who earned the reputation of being a great peacemaker. He writes, that the temporal closeness of these two events clicked in his mind and he decided to add the name Ghamidi to his given name, Javed Ahmed.[8]


Some of the works of Ghamidi

Ghamidi’s understanding of Islamic law has been presented concisely in his book Mizan. Ghamidi’s inspiration from his mentor, Amin Ahsan Islahi and non-traditionalist approach to the religion has parted him from traditionalist understanding on a number of issues, but he never goes out of the traditional framework.


Ghamidi believes that there are certain directives of the Qur’an pertaining to war which were specific only to Muhammad and certain specified peoples of his times (particularly the progeny of Abraham: the Ishmaelites, the Israelites, and the Nazarites). Thus, Muhammad and his designated followers waged a war against Divinely specified peoples of their time (the polytheists and the Israelites and Nazarites of Arabia and some other Jews, Christians, et al.) as a form of Divine punishment and asked the polytheists of Arabia for submission to Islam as a condition for exoneration and the others for jizya and submission to the political authority of the Muslims for exemption from death punishment and for military protection as the dhimmis of the Muslims. Therefore, after Muhammad and his companions, there is no concept in Islam obliging Muslims to wage war for propagation or implementation of Islam. The only valid basis for jihad through arms is to end oppression when all other measures have failed.[9] According to him Jihad can only be waged by an organised Islamic state. No person, party or group can take arms into their hands (for the purpose of waging Jihad) under any circumstances. Another corollary, in his opinion, is that death punishment for apostasy was also specifically for the recipients of the same Divine punishment during Muhammad’s times—for they had persistently denied the truth of Muhammad’s mission even after it had been made conclusively evident to them by God through Muhammad.[10]

The formation of an Islamic state is not a religious obligation per se upon the Muslims. However, he believes that if and when Muslims form a state of their own, Islam does impose certain religious obligations on its rulers as establishment of the institution of salat (obligatory prayer), zakah (mandatory charity), and amr bi’l-ma’ruf wa nahi ‘ani’l-munkar (preservation and promotion of society’s good conventions and customs and eradication of social vices); this, in Ghamidi’s opinion, should be done in modern times through courts, police, etc. in accordance with the law of the land which, as the government itself, must be based on the opinion of the majority.[11]

Male-Female interaction

Ghamidi argues that the Qur’an states norms for male-female interaction in surah An-Nur.[12] While in surah Al-Ahzab, there are special directives for Muhammad’s wives[13] and directives given to Muslim women to distinguish themselves when they were being harassed in Medina.[14][15] The Qur’an has created a distinction between men and women only to maintain family relations and relationships.[16]

Penal laws

  • The Islamic punishments of hudud (Islamic law) are maximum pronouncements that can be mitigated by a court of law on the basis of extenuating circumstances.[17]
  • The shariah (Divine law) does not stipulate any fixed amount for the diyya (monetary compensation for unintentional murder); the determination of the amount—for the unintentional murder of a man or a woman—has been left to the conventions of society.[17]
  • Ceteris paribus (all other things being equal), a woman’s testimony is equal to that of a man’s.[18]
  • Rape is hirabah and deserves severe punishments as mentioned in the Quran 5:33. It doesn’t require four witnesses to register the case as in the case of Zina (Arabic) (consensual sex). Those who were punished by stoning (rajm) in Muhammad’s time were also punished under hirabah for raping, sexually assaulting women, and spreading vulgarity in society through prostitution.[17]

Sources of Islam

  • All that is Islam is constituted by the Qur’an and Sunnah. Nothing besides these two is Islam or can be regarded as its part.[19]
  • Just like Quran, Sunnah (the way of the prophet) is only what Muslim nation received through ijma (consensus of companions of the prophet) and tawatur (perpetual adherence of Muslim nation).[19]
  • Unlike Quran and Sunnah, ahadith only explain and elucidate what is contained in these two sources and also describe the exemplary way in which Muhammad followed Islam.[19]
  • The Sharia is distinguished from fiqh, the latter being collections of interpretations and applications of the Sharia by Muslim jurists. Fiqh is characterised as a human exercise, and therefore subject to human weakness and differences of opinion. A Muslim is not obliged to adhere to a school of fiqh.[6]

Taliban and Islamism

Ghamidi is one of the Pakistani religious scholars who, from the beginning, has been opposing this kind of Islamism. One of his recent essays on this subject Islam and the Taliban[20]

The Taliban say that democracy is a concept alien to Islam. The ideal way to set up an Islamic government in our times is the one that they adopted for Mullah Omar’s government in Afghanistan. The constitution, the parliament, and elections are nothing but modern day shams…I can say with full confidence on the basis of my study of Islam that this viewpoint and this strategy (of Taliban) is not acceptable to the Qur’ān. It prescribes democracy as the way to run the affairs of the state. The Qur’ān (42:38) says: amruhum shūrā baynahum (the affairs of the Muslims are run on the basis of mutual consultation). ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Whosoever pledges allegiance to anyone without the collective consent of the Muslims presents himself for the death sentence.” It is true that, in Muslim history, monarchy and dictatorship have often been accepted forms of government. Some people also believe that the head of government should be a nominee of God Himself. However, the principle the Qur’ān spells out is very clear.

Morals and ethics

Ghamidi is known for his stress on morals and ethics in Islam. He has raised concerns on moral and ethical issues in Muslims.

A translated snippet from his book “Ikhlaqiyat”:

After faith, the second important requirement of religion is purification of morals. This means that a person should cleanse his attitude both towards his Creator and towards his fellow human beings. This is what is termed as a righteous deed. All the Shari’ah is its corollary. With the change and evolution in societies and civilizations, the Shari’ah has indeed changed; however faith and righteous deeds, which are the foundations of religion, have not undergone any change. The Qur’an is absolutely clear that any person who brings forth these two things before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement will be blessed with Paradise which shall be his eternal abode.

Interaction with other Islamic scholars

Like Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Maulana Naeem Siddiqui and Dr. Israr Ahmad, Ghamidi also worked closely with Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi (alternative spelling SyedMaudoodi; often referred to as Maulana Maududi) (1903–1979). His work with Maududi continued for about nine years before he voiced his first differences of opinion, which led to his subsequent expulsion from Mawdudi’s political party, Jamaat-e-Islami in 1977. Later, he developed his own view of religion based on hermeneutics and ijtihad under the influence of his mentor, Amin Ahsan Islahi (1904–1997), a well-known exegete of the Indian sub-continent who is author of Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, a Tafsir (exegeses of Qur’an). Ghamidi’s critique of Mawdudi’s thought is an extension of Wahid al-Din Khan‘s criticism of Mawdudi. Khan (1925– ) was amongst the first scholars from within the ranks of Jamaat-e-Islami to present a full-fledged critique of Mawdudi’s understanding of religion. Khan’s contention is that Mawdudi has completely inverted the Qur’anic worldview. Ghamidi, for his part, agreed with Khan that the basic obligation in Islam is not the establishment of an Islamic world order but servitude to God, and that it is to help and guide humans in their effort to fulfill that obligation for which religion is revealed. Therefore, Islam never imposed the obligation on its individual adherents or on the Islamic state to be constantly in a state of war against the non-Islamic world. In fact, according to Ghamidi, even the formation of an Islamic state is not a basic religious obligation for Muslims.[11] Despite such extraordinary differences and considering Maududi’s interpretation of “political Islam” as incorrect, Ghamidi in one of his 2015 interviews said that he still respects his former teacher like a father.[21]

Resignation from Council of Islamic Ideology

Javed Ahmed Ghamidi resigned in September 2006[22] from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII),[5] a constitutional body responsible for providing legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistani government. His resignation was ‘accepted’ by the President of Pakistan.[23] Ghamidi’s resignation was prompted by the Pakistani government’s formation of a separate committee of ulema to review a Bill involving women’s rights; the committee was formed after extensive political pressure was applied by the MMA. Ghamidi argued that this was a breach of the CII’s jurisdiction, since the very purpose of the council is to ensure that Pakistan’s laws do not conflict with the teachings of Islam. He also said that the amendments in the bill proposed by the Ulema committee were against the injunctions of Islam. This event occurred when the MMA threatened to resign from the provincial and national assemblies if the government amended the Hudood Ordinance,[24] which came into being under Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization. The Hudood Ordinances have been criticised for, among other things, insisting upon an exceptionally difficult and dangerous procedure to prove allegations of rape.[25]

Public appearances

Ghamidi had appeared on several TV Channels and appears regularly on dedicated programs. His television audience consists of educated, urban-based middle-class men and women between the ages of 20–35, as well as lay Islamic intellectuals and professionals. Ghamidi’s religiously oriented audience tends to be dissatisfied with the positions of traditional ulema and Western-educated secular-liberal elite, and find his interventions and ideas more sensible, moderate, and relevant.[26]

  • Alif[27] on Geo TV (In multiple airings)
  • Ghamidi[28] on Geo TV (First season while the second season is on schedule)
  • Live with Ghamidi[29] on AAJ TV (Usually Q/A format but with occasional special programs)
    • AAJ TV also airs other Islamic programs by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and his associates.
  • And other channels like PTV.
  • Al-Mawrid has video recording setup of its own.[30]
  • The official website of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is linked to his official Twitter (@javedghamidi) and Facebook[31] pages.


Ghamidi has earned criticism from traditionalist Muslim scholars in Pakistan (like Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman) for his interpretation of certain Islamic values.[citation needed]

In one interview, when asked his opinion about being branded as a liberal, Ghamidi replied that he does not care about such things and his objectives are not affected by these terms.[32]

Exile from Pakistan

Ghamidi left Pakistan in 2010[citation needed] as a result of strong and violent actions against his work. In a 2015 interview with Voice of America, Ghamidi explained his reason for departure was to safeguard the lives of people near him[33] including his neighbours who had begun to fear for their safety.[34] Some of his close associates had already been killed like Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan and Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman, among whom the latter, was murdered in his clinic.[34] Another close associate who was related to the work of Ghamidi’s Risala, Syed Manzoor-ul-Hasan, one day after leaving Ghamidi’s office was shot through the mouth but survived although the bullet still remains in his body.[34] Ghamidi maintained that because of today’s means of communication, his work of education does not get affected by his exile.[33] Ghamidi, also regularly appears on Ilm-o-Hikmat, a Pakistani Dunya News show.[35] He has also presented his desire to return in the future when circumstances change.[34]


Primary sources

Secondary sources

See also


  1. Jump up^ “Ilm-O-Hikmat-part ALL-2017-01-15-Javed Ahmad Ghamdi joins Zu | Dunya News”. video.dunyanews.tv. Retrieved 2017-01-21.
  2. Jump up^ Walsh, Declan (2011-01-20). “Islamic scholar attacks Pakistan’s blasphemy laws”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-01-21.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Esposito(2003) p.93
  4. Jump up^ Council’s two new members appointed, Press Release 30-01-06
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b “Council of Islamic Ideology”. Pakistan Government. Archived from the originalon 28 September 2007.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Masud(2007)
  7. Jump up^ Ghamidi’s resume Archived 1 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Jump up^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  9. Jump up^ Mizan, The Islamic Law of Jihad
  10. Jump up^ Islamic Punishments: Some Misconceptions, Renaissance – Monthly Islamic Journal, 12(9), 2002.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b Iftikhar(2005)
  12. Jump up^ Quran 24:27
  13. Jump up^ Quran 33:32
  14. Jump up^ Quran 33:58
  15. Jump up^ Mizan, Norms of Gender Interaction
  16. Jump up^ Mizan, The Social Law of Islam
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b c Mizan, The Penal Law of Islam
  18. Jump up^ The Law of Evidence, Renaissance – Monthly Islamic Journal, 12(9), 2002.
  19. ^ Jump up to:a b c Mizan, Sources of Islam
  20. Jump up^ Islam and the Taliban published in Renaissance, Lahore, May 2009)
  21. Jump up^ Adil Khan (2015-06-14), JAVED AHMED GHAMIDI a talk with Voice of America 2015, retrieved 2016-05-20
  22. Jump up^ Editorial: Hudood laws, Ghamidi’s resignation and CII — government wrong on all counts Archived 14 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Daily Times, 22 September 2006
  23. Jump up^ Musharraf rejects Ghamdi’s resignation, Daily Times, 6 November 2006
  24. Jump up^ MMA threatens to quit Parliament over Hudood laws, Zee News, 5 September 2006.
  25. Jump up^ WAF rejects Hudood law amendments, Dawn, 13 September 2006.
  26. Jump up^ “Media-Based Preachers and the Creation of New Muslim Publics in Pakistan”.
  27. Jump up^ “GeoTV Geo News Latest News Breaking News Pakistan Live Videos”.
  28. Jump up^ “GeoTV Geo News Latest News Breaking News Pakistan Live Videos”. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008.
  29. Jump up^ http://www.aaj.tv/
  30. Jump up^ “Al-Mawrid”.
  31. Jump up^ “Security Check Required”.
  32. Jump up^ Adil Khan (2015-06-14), JAVED AHMED GHAMIDI a talk with Voice of America 2015, retrieved 2016-05-06
  33. ^ Jump up to:a b Adil Khan (2015-06-14), JAVED AHMED GHAMIDI a talk with Voice of America 2015, retrieved 2016-05-06
  34. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Mohsin Zaheer (2015-05-30), Why Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Left Pakistan and When To Return?, retrieved 2016-05-06
  35. Jump up^ Dunya News (2016-07-03), Ilm o Hikmat 3 July 2016 – Special Talk on Shab e Qadar with Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, retrieved 2016-08-07
  36. Jump up^ The portions translated as yet are: the last group Al-Mulk to An-Nas, Al-Baqara, Al-i-Imran, and a major portion of An-Nisa

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