Ulama conference in Lahore issues important declaration

Calls philosophy of TTP, al-Qaeda, Daesh and other so-called jihadi outfits ‘misleading, un-Islamic’

Saqib Akber

A conference attended by more than 200 religious scholars (ulama) was held in Lahore on 17 May 2015. Organized by Tanzeem Ittihad-i-Ummat, the conference took place at a hotel with Allama Mohammad Khan Qadri in chair.

The declaration which was adopted at the end of the conference was given the name of ‘Legal declaration’. It consists of some very important points. The declaration termed suicide attacks unlawful under Islamic law. It said that suicide attackers as well as their masterminds deserve hellfire and that those elements involved in sectarian killings are guilty of spreading chaos and anarchy in the world (fasad fil aradh or mischief in the land). Dr Ragib Naeemi, who is the head of Jamia Naeemia Lahore, was also present on the occasion.

At the end of the conference Chairman Tanzeem Ittihad Ummat Maulana Ziaul Haq Naqashbandi read the communique. It declared that the philosophy of Jihad behind the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Al-Qaeda, Daesh (self-styled Islamic State), Boko Haram, Al Shabab and other similar Jehadi outfits is misleading. It said that such groups operated in un-Islamic manner, their understanding of Islam is defective and flawed because it is based on poor knowledge and ignorance, their way and method of waging Jihad is contrary to the terms and conditions set by Islam. These groups are unmindful of the conditions that must be met before declaration of jihad, the declaration stated, adding that those involved in sectarian massacres and killings are sinful of spreading fasad fil aradh (mischief in the land) as Islam does not allow killings in the name of sect. It is the duty of the Islamic govt to crush such rebels till their elimination, the declaration further said.

The participation of around 200 scholars also adds to the significance of this meeting. These scholars have not minced words in presenting their well-thought-out religious point of view in unambiguous terms keeping in view the issues and problems facing Muslim Ummah and in particular Pakistan as a result of growing extremism.

The declaration clearly identified the flawed perception of Islam being propagated by extremists and fanatics. In my view this is a very serious point as far as those extremist organizations are concerned who use the name of religion to spread their warped ideology and that this matter has been generally ignored. Earlier, the true nature of extremist ideology had not come forward due to the statements and conduct adopted by some religious organizations and their leaders and because of this a large section of the society was in a state of confusion and indecisiveness for quite a long time. We have to take into account this uncertainty while looking at the background of negotiations with Taliban. We can observe the ambiguous stances of certain personalities by sifting through the newspapers of that time. Some groups and persons have remained and some are even today in a state of false impression because these extremist organizations and those who are influenced by them are using the name of Islam to defend their extremist ideology and terror acts.

Some Islamic groups have failed to rightly set their priorities as far as the Islamic system of governance is concerned. They must take a fresh review of their understanding about the basic teachings of Islam and the system of governance derived as a result of this thinking. They must understand that unbiased and impartial implementation of a law in a society is more important that the law itself. Islam wants that a society be run on the basis of collective justice and human goodwill. We observe that the element of human benevolence is missing in extremist ideology. There is no difference in the ideology and thinking of those extremist groups who want to carry their agenda forward by dint of force and those who are influenced by these extremists but do not resort to force. This thinking makes the second group back the first one. It is this way of thinking about which a fresh review needs to be taken.

This declaration adopted by the Tanzeem Ittihad-i-Ummat talks of one more important point. It says that a ‘Ulema Board’ consisting of experts of the Quran and Hadith and belonging to all schools of thought be set up to counter the narrative of Taliban and Daesh like outfits. The declaration says this board should be made authority to issue a decree about declaring a person as infidel.

A lot of scholars of Islam have long been stressing that many difficulties emerge as a result of individual fatwas (religious decrees). After the formation of constitutional governments and parliaments through peoples’ vote, this matter became more evident that consultative system is imperative to run human societies. In these circumstances issuing individual fatwas particularly those relating to human societies and leaving an effect on them should have stopped at every level. Fatwas based on Takfir give rise to extremism, hatred and discord in the society. Therefore, governments should make arrangements to make use of collective wisdom for issuing all such fatwas which affect societies in this manner and also impose ban on issuing such kind of fatwas on individual level. Because fatwas of this nature give rise to discord and strife, which the declaration has rightly termed as spreading ‘mischief in the land’ (fasad fil ardh), therefore, the governments should also make penal laws to punish those who issue such fatwas. The Council of Islamic Ideology can be tasked to do this job after making the body more acceptable and effective. However, these proposals should go through the same constitutional mechanism already devised to make legislation in line with the recommendations of the CII. It is another thing that the governments in Pakistan do not generally consider the recommendations of CII worthy of attention.

The declaration also talked about some important issues relating to Muslim Ummah. It said: Pakistan and all other Islamic countries should desist from supporting pro-American policies as the United States is the biggest enemy of Islam; Arab and other Gulf countries rather than fighting with each other should unite at a platform for the liberation of Qibla-e-Awwal (Baitul Muqaddas) and Palestine; the Saudi Arabian govt should free Hijaz and whole of country from the US military presence because this impure existence of US troops is violating the sanctity of the Two Holy Mosques; instead of becoming a party in the Yemen conflict, Pakistan should play the role of a mediator and peacemaker to resolve the crisis as envisioned in the Parliament resolution and whatever happens the army should not be sent to Yemen; Muslim countries, OIC and the UN should accelerate efforts for a permanent truce in Yemen.

What emerges from this part of the declaration is that the scholars who attended this conference are of the view that the ongoing conflicts in the world of Islam are the result of Zionist machinations and the main goal of these intrigues is to let the Muslim countries remain wrangling with each other and forget the main issue of Palestine and ignore the illegal existence of Israel. It is for this reason that the declaration urges Arabs and other Gulf countries to stop fighting with each other and close ranks against the common foe to free the Qibla-e-Awwal and Palestine from the usurpers. By saying that Pakistan should play a mediatory role in the Yemen conflict, the declaration has indirectly endorsed the resolution of the Parliament in this regard.

Parliament’s resolution regarding Yemen has saved Pakistan from getting entangled in a new crisis and if it had happened so it would not have been possible for Pakistan to ensure the rapid implementation of the economic corridor plan. Saudi Arabia should also be told that it has endangered its internal security because of the path it has chosen. It should be advised to adopt the path of reconciliation and peace. It should be told that the need of the hour is to make all the groups of the poor and weak neighborly country sit together to carry forward the political process in Yemen on the basis of national unity and solidarity.

Pakistan would not have been caught up in the global whirlpool that it is finding itself now had our parliament been allowed to continuously play effective role in the past as well. It is because of this that Pakistan is mired in internal conflict today fighting the brutal killers and misguided elements. I expect that the political forces in Pakistan will continue to play their role prudently and always give preference to collective wisdom instead of individual decisions.