Source: Washington Post
By Pamela Constable; September 25, 2021 at 5:00 a.m. EDT
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — For years, the Red Mosque in Pakistan’s capital has stood as a bastion of religious defiance, a nerve center of radical Islamist preaching that has drawn thousands of worshipers to hear rabble-rousing sermons by its longtime pro-Taliban leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz.
In 2007, the mosque, also known as the Lal Masjid, and its next-door Islamic seminary, or madrassa, for girls were the site of a bloody siege by Pakistani security forces after a week-long standoff with armed militants inside the compound, which left at least 100 dead. Since then, Aziz has faced numerous criminal charges but has never been convicted.
Now, with the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Aziz says his followers’ crusade has been vindicated and their moment has arrived.
“The coming of the Taliban was an act of God,” the white-bearded cleric, 58, said in a rare interview this week at the girls’ madrassa, Jamia Hafsa. He no longer preaches at the mosque, under an agreement he made last year with the government.
“The whole world has seen that they defeated America and its arrogant power,” Aziz said. “It will definitely have a positive effect on our struggle to establish Islamic rule in Pakistan, but our success is in the hands of God.”
Madrassas in Pakistan have long played a major role in fostering militant Islamic groups, mostly aimed at foreign targets. The Afghan Taliban movement was spawned in a radical madrassa in Pakistan’s northwest border region, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a violent anti-India insurgency, was incubated in madrassas in Punjab province.
But one such homegrown group, known as the Pakistani Taliban, waged war against the Pakistani government for years and is still active in Afghanistan. Officials here fear that the Taliban takeover in Kabul could embolden such extremists to launch a new holy war at home. A surge in religious fervor has sparked violent riots by one group that seeks a crackdown on blaspheming against Islam.
Suggested reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Broadly speaking, while Dr. Israr Ahmad is promoting extreme Islamism, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is offering a secular understanding of Islam and interfaith tolerance. Nevertheless, their debate exposes vulnerabilities of both, for example Ghamdi does not allow any taxation other than Zakat, disregarding possible needs of the society. Additionally, he wants the Government to coerce the Muslims to say Salat or the five times daily prayer. In that case would the believers be actually praying to God Almighty or the coercive government?
I must applaud Ghamdi for a beautiful interpretation of Surah Taubah between 50 minutes and 1.15 mark of this video.
Insisting on a narrow understanding of the Quran without benefiting from the history of legislation and constitution making in USA and the West, the Muslims end up with a myopic understanding that cannot satisfy the needs of the modern society.