Ghamidi: The Most Tolerant and Pluralistic Muslim Scholar of Our Times

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. If you believe and care for the Muslim unity it behooves you to check out his videos in Youtube

Jāvēd Ahmed Ghāmidī (Urdu: جاوید احمد غامدی‎) (born April 7, 1952[3]) is a Pakistan Muslim theologian, Quran scholar, Islamic modernist, exegete and educationist. He is also the founding President of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences and its sister organisation Danish Sara.[4] He became a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistani Government and the country’s Parliament) on 28 January 2006, where he remained for a couple of years.[5] He also taught Islamic studies at the Civil Services Academy for more than a decade from 1979 to 1991.[6] He was also a student of Islamic scholar and exegete, Amin Ahsan Islahi. He is running an intellectual movement similar to Wasatiyyah, on the popular electronic media of Pakistan.[7] Currently he is Principal Research Fellow and Chief Patron of Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning in United States. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi was named in The Muslim 500 (The World’s Most Influential Muslims) in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 editions.

Dr. Zia H Shah, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times, we have the best collection for pluralism, interfaith tolerance and non-Sectarian Islam


Early life

Javed Ahmed Ghamidi was born on 7 April 1952[8] to a Kakazai family in a village called Jivan Shah (near Pakpattan) in District SahiwalPunjabPakistan.[9] His family village settlement was Dawud in Sialkot. His father, Muhammad Tufayl Junaydi, was a landowner, involved in medicine and a committed follower of tasawwuf until his death in 1986.[10]

Ghamidi and his two elder sisters grew up in a Sufi household. His early education included a modern path (matriculating from Islamia High School, Pakpattan), as well as a traditional path (Arabic and Persian languages, and the Qur’an with Nur Ahmad of Nang Pal).[7] His father wanted him to have both traditional and modern education, splitting his time between school and learning Arabic and Persian.[citation needed]

His first exposure to traditional Islamic studies was in the Sufi tradition. After matriculating, he came to Lahore in 1967 where he is settled ever since. Initially, he was more interested in Literature and Philosophy. He later graduated from Government CollegeLahore, with a BA Honours in English Literature & Philosophy in 1972.[11]

During his excursions to the library he stumbled on the works of Hamiduddin Farahi, a scholar of Quran. In this work he found a mention of Amin Ahsan Islahi, the torchbearer of Farahi’s thought. Knowing that Amin Ahsan Islahi was resident in Lahore during those days, he set out to meet him the very day he had first read his mention. The meeting changed Ghamidi from a man of philosophy and literature to a man of religion.[12] In 1973, he came under the tutelage of Amin Ahsan Islahi (d. 1997), who was destined to who have a deep impact on him. He was also associated with scholar and revivalist Abu al-A‘la Mawdudi (d. 1979) for several years. He started working with them on various Islamic disciplines particularly exegesis and Islamic law.[4]

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.[13] Taxila.[14]


Some of the works of Ghamidi

Ghamidi’s conclusions and understanding of Islam, including the Sharia, has been presented concisely in his book Mizan with the intention of presenting the religion in its pure shape, cleansed from tasawwufqalamfiqh, all philosophies and any other contaminants.[15]

Ghamidi’s non-traditionalist approach to the religion has parted him from the conservative understanding on a large number of issues. However, Ghamidi argues that his dissenting conclusions are at times based on traditional foundations set by classical scholars.[citation needed] In his arguments, there is no reference to the Western sources, human rights or current philosophies of crime and punishment.[7] Nonetheless, employing the traditional Islamic framework, he reaches conclusions which are similar to those of Islamic modernists and progressives on the subject.[7]


Ghamidi believes that there are certain directives of the Qur’an pertaining to war which were specific only to Prophet Muhammad and certain specified peoples of his times (particularly the progeny of Abraham: the Ishmaelites, the Israelites, and the Nazarites).[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[16] According to him Jihad can only be waged by an organised Islamic state, that too only where a leader has been nominated by the previous leader or by the consensus of the ulema if the state is newly established.[17] 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.[18]

According to Ghamidi, the formation of an Islamic state is not a religious obligation upon the Muslims per se. However, if and when Muslims do happen to form a state of their own, Islam does impose certain religious obligations on its rulers as establishment of the institutions 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.[19]

Gender interaction

Ghamidi argues that the Qur’an states norms for male-female interaction in Surah An-Nur, while in Surah Al-Ahzab, there are special directives for Muhammad’s wives and directives given to Muslim women to distinguish themselves when they were being harassed in Medina.[20][21][22][23] He further claims that the Qur’an has created a distinction between men and women only to maintain family relationships.[24]

Penal laws

According to Ghamidi:

  • 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.[25]
  • 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.[25]
  • Ceteris paribus (all other things being equal), a woman’s testimony is equal to that of a man’s.[26]
  • Rape is hirabah and deserves severe punishments as mentioned in Quran 5:33.[27] 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.[25]

Sources of Islam

According to Ghamidi, all that is Islam is constituted by the Qur’an and Sunnah. Nothing besides these two is Islam or can be regarded as part of it.[28] Just like QuranSunnah (the way of the prophet) is only what the Muslim nation received through ijma (consensus of companions of the prophet) and tawatur (perpetual adherence of the Muslim nation).[28] Unlike Quran and Sunnahahadith only explain and elucidate what is contained in these two sources and also describe the exemplary way in which Muhammad followed Islam.[28] 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.[7]


While discussing the Afghan Taliban, Ghamidi wrote:[29]

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 are 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 their 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.— Javed A. Ghamidi, Islam and the Taliban

Morals and ethics

Ghamidi writes on moral and ethical issues in Islam.[30] He states:

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 sharī‘ah is its corollary. With the change and evolution in societies and civilizations, the sharī‘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.[31]

Interaction with other Islamic scholars

Like Wahiduddin KhanMaulana Naeem SiddiquiIsrar Ahmed and Dr. Khazir Yasin, Ghamidi also worked closely with Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi (alternative spelling Syed Maudoodi; often referred to as Maulana Maududi) (1903–1979) and Amin Ahsan Islahi. 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.[19] 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.[32]

Ghamidi’s thought and discourse community has received some academic attention in the recent past by Pakistani scholar Dr. Husnul Amin whose critical analysis of Ghamidi’s thought movement has received academic attention.[33] Amin traces the history of secessionist tendencies within the mainstream Islamism, and its ruptures, and then critically examines Ghamidi’s emergence and proliferation in society as an unprecedented phenomenon.[34] Ghamidi’s views and discourse on Islam and democracy have also been examined in another cited research paper.[35]

Awards and recognition

In 2009, Ghamidi was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz, the third highest civilian honor of Pakistan.[36]

Resignation from Council of Islamic Ideology

See also: Hudood Ordinance

Ghamidi resigned in September 2006[37] from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII),[38] a constitutional body responsible for providing legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistani government. His resignation was ‘accepted’ by the President of Pakistan.[39] 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,[40] which came into being under Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization. The Hudood Ordinances have been criticised for, among other things, a reportedly difficult procedure to prove allegations of rape.[41]

Public appearances

Ghamidi has appeared regularly on dedicated television 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.[42]

  • Alif[43] on Geo TV (in multiple airings)
  • Ghamidi[44] on Geo TV
  • Live with Ghamidi on AAJ TV (usually Q/A format but with occasional special programs). The channel also airs other Islamic programs by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and his associates, such as Aaj Islam.[45]
  • And other channels like PTV.
  • Al-Mawrid has video recording setup of its own.
  • Ilm-o-Hikmat, Ghamidi Key Saath (Urdu: علم و حکمت غامدی کے ساتھ‎) (Knowledge and Wisdom with Ghamidi) on Duniya TV.[46]
  • The official website of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is linked to his official Twitter (@javedghamidi) and Facebook[47] pages.
  • Live Weekly Lectures* from Ghamidi Center, Dallas, TX, USA ( and


Ghamidi has earned criticism from all traditional Islamic scholars in Pakistan and abroad for his interpretation of certain Islamic values.[citation needed] Some books highly critical of Ghamidi are, Fitna-e-Ghamdiyat (فِتنئہ غامدیت) by Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf[48] and Fitna-e-Ghamdiyat ka Ilmi Muhasbah (فِتنئہ غامدیّت کا عِلمی محاسبہ) by Maulana Muhammad Rafiq.[49]

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 such terms.[50]

Exile from Pakistan[edit]

Ghamidi left Pakistan in 2010 as a result of opposition to his work and threat to his life and his closed ones.[51] In a 2015 interview with Voice of America, Ghamidi explained his reason for departure was to safeguard the lives of people near him[52] including his neighbours who had begun to fear for their safety.[53] Some of his close associates had already been killed like Muhammad Farooq Khan and Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman.[53] Ghamidi maintained that his work of education was not affected by his departure because of modern communication.[52] Ghamidi, also regularly appears on Ilm-o-Hikmat, a Pakistani Dunya News show.[54] He has stated his desire to return in the future when circumstances change.[53]

Ghamidi moved to Dallas, Texas, USA as of July 2019, to support establishment of Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning, an initiative of Al-Mawrid US and an educational institute named after himself.[55]


Ghamidi’s books include:[56]

  • Al-Bayan (Volume 1 to 5)
  • Mizan
  • Burhan
  • Maqamat
  • Al-Islam
  • Khayal-o-Khamah

English Translation of his works by Dr. Shehzad Saleem:

  • Al-Bayan (Volume 1 and 5)
  • Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction
  • Selected Essays of Javed Ahmed Ghamidi
  • Islam: A Concise Introduction


Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ahmed Ghamidi, Javed. “Birth Date on his official website”.
  4. Jump up to:a b Esposito(2003) p.93
  5. ^ Council’s two new members appointed Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Press Release 30-01-06
  6. ^ “The Team”.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d e Masud(2007)
  8. ^ Ahmed Ghamidi, Javed. “Birthdate on official site”.
  9. ^ Sheikh, Majid (22 October 2017). “The history of Lahore’s Kakayzais”DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  10. ^ “Early life of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi”Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  11. ^ Ghamidi’s resume Archived 1 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Baksh, Ammar (8 June 2017). “Javed Ahmed Ghamidi: A brief Introduction to his life and works”.
  13. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  14. ^ says, Faiz: The Idol Breaker! « Saad Ahmed Javed BAKHSH. “Faiz: The Idol Breaker! – by Saad Ahmed Javed – LUBP”. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  15. ^ Al Mawrid Hind (2 July 2017). “Introduction to ‘Meezan’ at International Book Fair | New Delhi | Javed Ahmad Ghamidi”YouTube (in Urdu). Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  16. ^ MizanThe Islamic Law of Jihad Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Ghamidi, Javed Ahmed. Qanun-i-Jihad (The Islamic Shari’ah of Jihad). Lahore, Pakistan: al-Mawrid. p. 45. ISBN 978-9698799083It is obvious…that jihad becomes obligatory only in the presence of a ruler…whose political authority has been established either through nomination by the previous ruler similar to how Abu Bakr transferred the reins [of his Khilafah to Umar] or through the pledging of allegiance by the ulema
  18. ^ Islamic Punishments: Some Misconceptions Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback MachineRenaissance – Monthly Islamic Journal, 12(9), 2002.
  19. Jump up to:a b Iftikhar(2005)
  20. ^ Quran 24:27
  21. ^ Quran 33:58
  22. ^ Quran 33:32
  23. ^ MizanNorms of Gender Interaction Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Mizan, The Social Law of Islam
  25. Jump up to:a b c MizanThe Penal Law of Islam Archived 27 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ The Law of Evidence Archived 11 February 2007 at the Wayback MachineRenaissance – Monthly Islamic Journal, 12(9), 2002.
  27. ^ Q5:33, 50+ translations,
  28. Jump up to:a b c MizanSources of Islam Archived 14 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Ghamidi, Javed Ahmad (May 2009). Translated by Asif Iftikhar. “Islam and the Taliban”Renaissance. Lahore.
  30. ^ Agha, Saira (11 August 2018). “Pride of Pakistan: Javed Ahmad Ghamidi”Daily Times. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  31. ^ Ghamidi, Javed Ahmad (2010). Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction. Translated by Saleem, Shehzad. Lahore: Al-Mawrid. p. 191. ISBN 978-9698799731.
  32. ^ Adil Khan (14 June 2015), JAVED AHMED GHAMIDI a talk with Voice of America 2015, retrieved 20 May 2016
  33. ^ Rana, Muhammad Amir (23 July 2017). “THE FAILED RATIONALIST”DAWN.
  34. ^ Amin, Husnul (2019). Observing Variants of POST-ISLAMISM: Intellectual Discourses and Social Movements (3rd ed.). Islamabad: IRD. p. 310. ISBN 978-969-7576-57-9.
  35. ^ Amin, Husnul (2012). “Post-Islamist Intellectual Trends in Pakistan: Javed Ahmed Ghamidi and His Discourse on Islam and Democracy”. Islamic Studies51 (2): 169–192. JSTOR 23643959.
  36. ^ “List of civil award winners”DAWN.COM. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  37. ^ 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
  38. ^ “Council of Islamic Ideology”Pakistan Government. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  39. ^ Musharraf rejects Ghamdi’s resignation, Daily Times, 6 November 2006
  40. ^ MMA threatens to quit Parliament over Hudood laws, Zee News, 5 September 2006.
  41. ^ WAF rejects Hudood law amendments, Dawn, 13 September 2006.
  42. ^ Ahmad, Mumtaz (12 February 2010). “Media-Based Preachers and the Creation of New Muslim Publics in Pakistan”NBR Special Report22.
  43. ^ “GeoTV Geo News Latest News Breaking News Pakistan Live Videos”.
  44. ^ “GeoTV Geo News Latest News Breaking News Pakistan Live Videos”. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008.
  45. ^ “Videos | Aaj Islam”Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. 1 February 2019. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  46. ^ “Ilm-O-Hikmat, Allama Javed Ahmad”Dunya News. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  47. ^ “Javed Ahmad Ghamidi”Facebook. Retrieved 27 January2020.
  48. ^ Yusuf, Hafiz Salahuddin (July 2015). Fitna-e-Ghamdiyat(PDF). Gujranwala.
  49. ^ Rafiq, Maulana Muhammad. Fitna-e-Ghamdiyat ka Ilmi Muhasbah. Lahore: Maktabah-e-Qur’aniat.
  50. ^ Adil Khan (14 June 2015), JAVED AHMED GHAMIDI a talk with Voice of America 2015, retrieved 6 May 2016
  51. ^ Paracha, Nadeem F. (26 March 2017). “SMOKERS’ CORNER: The Invisible Scholar”DAWN.COM. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  52. Jump up to:a b Adil Khan (14 June 2015), JAVED AHMED GHAMIDI a talk with Voice of America 2015, retrieved 6 May 2016
  53. Jump up to:a b c Mohsin Zaheer (30 May 2015), Why Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Left Pakistan and When To Return?, retrieved 6 May 2016
  54. ^ Dunya News (3 July 2016), Ilm o Hikmat 3 July 2016 – Special Talk on Shab e Qadar with Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, retrieved 7 August 2016
  55. ^ AP News (9 October 2019), Javed Ahmed Ghamidi to Inaugurate His Institute in Dallas, Texas
  56. ^ “Books”Al-Mawrid. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  57. ^ The portions translated as yet are: the last group Al-Mulk to An-NasAl-BaqaraAl-i-Imran, and a major portion of An-Nisa

External links[edit]

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