So important is the business of fatwas that when Masood Azhar was re-launched by certain security agencies after he returned in exchange of some passengers from Kandahar as the ‘new saviour’, a fatwa was needed to launch his Jaish-e-Muhammad. And when one of the three prominent Deoband leaders, Maulana Yousaf Ludhianvi, refused to give a fatwa in favour of Azhar, he was shot dead in Karachi.
Understandably, fatwas play a huge role within the terrorist community where there’s a rat race over whose giving out which fatwa against whom. In fact, former Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister Mumtaz Rathore famously said, “How can you stop us from jihad when religious scholars gave a fatwa that Rs 430 million Zakat Fund could be spent on jihad?”
While there’s no denying the role of fatwas, what’s mind boggling is how most prominent Pakistani clerics and muftis refuse to give out fatwas against organisations such as the TTP and suicide bombing when over thousands of innocent Muslims are killed in terrorist attacks carried out by fellow Muslims? A top Interior Ministry official confirmed with Daily Times, “Rehman Malik and the Interior Ministry have tried their best to seek fatwas from influential Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics but they simply refuse to give out fatwas.”
While in Islamabad, under the government’s supervision, major Sunni Muslim scholars, academicians, thinkers and political leaders publicly condemned suicide bombings and universally agreed that suicide bombing is anathema, antithetical and abhorrent to Islam, it is a legally reprehensible innovation in the religion, is morally a sin combining suicide and murder, and it is theologically an act of eternal culmination for all perpetrators.
“Not good enough. They are considered sell-offs – the legit clerics would never give out fatwas or even talk openly against suicide bombings because that would ruin there reputation within the respected sect and they can be killed,” an intelligence chief told Daily Times.
It’s interesting to note that Dr Tahirul Qadri, a prominent Pakistani scholar, recently gave out a 600-page fatwa against both suicide bombing and al Qaeda, which a prominent Deobandi cleric, with massive presence in Karachi, rejects as “nothing more than a PR exercise”. It should also be noted that the conference in which Dr Qadri gave out the fatwa was sponsored by a British counter-terrorism think tank, Quilliam that is founded by ex-Hizbut Tahrir member Majid Nawaz.
Fatwas also play an important part in sectarian conflicts where clerics, especially from Deobandi and Barevli sects, refuse to consider each other and often give out fatwas against each other, branding each other as ‘infidels’. In fact, when Daily Times reached a staunch Deobandi cleric, famous for refusing to lead prayers with anyone who wears Western outfits, Maulana Zarwali Khan Sahib of Majid Ahsanul Uloom, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, he bluntly refused to condemn suicide bombings on Sufi shrines and other targets.
It is to be noted that Dr Sarfaraz Naeemi of Jamia Naeemia and a focal voice against suicide bombings, who had given out a fatwa against them, had been killed in a suicide attack on June 12, 2009. Another prominent voice and a central leader of the Sunni Tahreek whose entire leadership had been wiped off in the Nishtar Park suicide bombing in Karachi told Daily Times, “What should we do to protect ourselves? They (Deobandis) have support of virtually everyone in the security agencies, and Saudi Arabia is funding them – we are the ones who are the orphans.” It is to be noted that only this year, three major Sufi shrines had been hit for the first time in what are being described as the worst attacks on the very foundation of Barelvi Islam.
The biggest service, one insider told Daily Times, would be if “folks such as Taqi Usmani openly condemn suicide bombings”. It is to be noted that Mufti Taqiuddin Usmani, who is the former grand mufti of Pakistan and the vice chairman of the PIC’s Islamic Fiqh Council, and has a huge clout over the Deoband sect and even Ahl-e-Hadith seminaries and followers, to this date has not signed the fatwa forbidding suicide attacks in Pakistan despite repeated efforts by the government. Mufti Taqi Usmani also did not come out openly to condemn the recent attacks on Sufi shrines and refused to speak on the subject.
An Interior Ministry official also confirmed with Daily Times, “Taqi Usmani is a problem and a key man who can save a lot of lives by giving out one single statement.” A well-informed diplomatic source told Daily Times, “Even Osama Bin Laden needs fatwas. After all, it was an operational fatwa issued by an Egyptian leader of the Gama’ah Islamiya, Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman that resulted in the assassination of president Sadat and the first attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993. In Pakistan, we have many Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahmans.”
It is to be noted that over 400 people have so far been killed in suicide attacks in Pakistan alone.
Source: Daily Times, 27 Oct 2010