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Understanding and Countering Religious Extremism: A Discussion Organized

by IPSS (10.00 a m to 12.30 p m; Sunday, 24 August 2008).

(Speaker: Asif Iftikhar, Research Fellow, al-Mawrid, Lahore)

I. Introduction:

When radical and militant activists have deontological bases in religion for their
Weltanschauungs and praxes, they are rarely, if ever, inclined to deliberate upon critiques,
especially while facing the threats and realities of legal and punitive measures by the government
and international community. “Chastisement” then may afford them a cause to rejoice in being
“persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Ceteris paribus, sans other accompanying approaches,
mere administrative and military measures to control or stifle their voice may actually augment
their beliefs and ideas just as other factors often do including economic, political, social, and
cultural exploitation, marginalization, and deprivation. An effective approach to deal with the
epistemic and political diversity should include serious endeavours to fathom the multifaceted
foundations of the reality we are dealing with. A fortiori, if used, legal and punitive measures
must be part of a thought-out, holistic plan that gives due weight to all relevant factors including
the significant aspects of religious discourse. For this purpose, superficiality just won’t do
(especially of the kind seen in many media campaigns often lacking in research or planning or in
both); for example, no one is easily convinced into becoming a terrorist on religious grounds and
no one is easily dissuaded once so convinced.

It is important to have a good sense of the foundational sources and discourses that proclaim
sanctity for significant praxes of various kinds. The critique then must also be intellectually
sound giving due weight to argumentation from all sides. In this session we shall, Deo volente,
look at views on these matters by some leading Muslim scholars of our time, which matters
include many incendiary questions as the following:

Does Islam give an individual or a group the right to use violence to end wrong? What
arguments do the militant Islamists have to justify their acts of terrorism and violence? Is the
government of Pakistan un-Islamic? When is an individual or a group allowed by Islam to rebel
against the State? What are the punishments in Islam for those who rebel against the State or
cause disruption in society? What exactly is the meaning of jihad and who has the right to wage
it? What are the limits to proselytization in Islam? What is the actual responsibility of religious
leaders? Does an individual or a group have the right to “excommunicate” a Muslim? What are
the rights of the non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic State? Who has the authority to punish a
person or a group for blasphemy? What steps does the government need to take to end violence
and terrorism now rampant in our society in the name of religion?

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Asif Iftikhar

II. Some Pertinent Views:

1. Taking the law into one’s own hands amounts to either fasad fi’l-ard (creating disorder) or
muharabah (rebellion) -- both of which may be punishable by death in Islam.

2. The Prophet’s saying (sws) usually cited to give credence to the idea that Islam allows an
individual or a group the use of force to end wrong is actually related to the use of power within
the confines of the social and legal authority.

3. In Islam, there is no concept of jihad (qital to be more precise -- that is militant struggle in the
way of Allah) or the implementation of punishments without the authority of the Collectivity.
There are only two valid reasons for Qital: i) injustice and oppression and ii) Divine Decree.The
latter ended with the Prophet (sws) and his companions.

4. The argument that the government in Pakistan is not Islamic is highly questionable. In an
independent State, any government formed on the basis of amruhum shura baynahum (their
affairs are by consultation among them) -- in modern times through the vote of the Muslim
citizens in an election – may be seen an Islamic government in the legal sense so long as the
rulers do not unequivocally deny Islam or their faith in it.

5. Rebellion against the State (khuruj) is allowed -- that is it is permissible not obligatory -- only
when all of the following three conditions exist:

i) the rulers unequivocally deny Islam.


ii) the government is a dictatorship and does not have the support of the Muslims and
cannot be changed by their vote.
iii) the leader of Khuruj is one who, without any doubt, has the support of the majority of
the nation.

Moreover, in case of an armed rebellion, there is an additional condition: the leader of the Khuruj
must migrate with his followers to another land and form an independent State.

In the absence of even one of these conditions, those leading the Khuruj can be sentenced to
death by the State under Islamic law.

6. Allegiance to the Islamic State and obedience to its government are obligatory on a Muslim
even if the rulers are morally corrupt. According to a reported saying of the Prophet (sws), he
who detaches himself from the collectivity of the Muslims and dies in that condition dies the
death of ignorance.

7. No individual, group or State has the right to declare anyone a Kafir (one who deliberately
denies Islam; plural: Kuffar). Takfir -- declaring someone a Kafir is the prerogative of God and

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the Prophet (sws) only; declaring someone a “non-Muslim” is the prerogative of the State. Death
punishment for apostasy was confined only to the direct addressees of the Prophet (sws).

8. The argument of the militant Islamists that their aggression is in self-defence is also dubious.
The difference between self-defence and aggression is manifest. Also, the law of qisas (Islamic
lex talionis) is to be implemented by the State not by any individual or group. The aggrieved
person has the right to demand qisas, and it is the responsibility of the State to provide him with
justice. The aggrieved or his heir also has the authority to forgive the offender and demand
penalty. But there is no room in any State administration for personal vendettas, in which people
take the law into their own hands. On the same grounds, lynching for blasphemy is absolutely
against Islam even if the criminal is caught red-handed. Punishing a person or a group for any
crime against anybody is the prerogative of the State -- which does that through its organ, the
judiciary, after determining for sure that the crime had actually been committed and deciding on
the appropriate punishment.

9. The rights guaranteed to non-Muslims in the constitution must not be violated by any Muslim.
The Qur’an says:

And fulfil the covenant. Verily the covenant shall be questioned about. (17:34)

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

Beware! He who oppresses a mu‘ahid or does him injustice or


burdens him more than his strength or takes anything from him without his consent, I
myself shall plead against him on the Day of Judgment. (Abu Da’ud, Kitabu’l-jihad)

Therefore, as a citizen of an Islamic State, a non-Muslims has the right to demand the protection
of his/her life, honour and property and to demand all his/her fundamental rights including the
right to practice and preach his/her religion in a manner that does not cause disruption in society.

Even if a non-Muslim is found guilty of some crime, it is up to the relevant legal court to decide
what punishment is to be meted out.

10. The real responsibility of religious scholars and leaders of religious movements is education
and academics. As such, their primary goal should be to develop the minds and change the hearts
of people rather than to punish or kill them

III. Recommendations:

i) Education.

ii) Administrative Measures

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Islam & Human Rights By Nasr Abu Zaid.

1- Introduction:

The association occasionally made in seminars, conferences, workshops and other academic
activities, as well as in the masse media, of Islam an other non-religious conceptions, be it
Europe or the West, Enlightenment or Modernity, even to Human Rights as in the title of this
presentation, need to be reconsidered. Since most of the papers and discussion in such activities
are more concerned about the present socio-political and intellectual situation in the Muslim
world and its relation with the West, having Islam instead of the Muslim world at the front page
would lead to mis-conceptualization and accordingly to misunderstanding of Islam. Such a
confusion will do injustice to Islam because there are only two possibilities implicit in equating
Islam and the Muslim world; either to misjudge Islam by evaluating its teachings according to
different contextual frame of values or to take the defensive stand trying to decontextualize Islam
to make it very modern. There is, of course, a third non-defensive, but rather aggressive stand
which is the reactionary, coined fundamentalism in Western discourse.

In talking about Islam, at least three domains of investigation should be distinguished: First, the
original texts of Islam, i.e. the Qur'an and the authentic tradition of the Prophet, second, Islamic
thought which could be considered as modes of interpretation of the original texts, and is to be
found in the four major disciplines of Islamic discourse: Jurisprudence, Theology, Philosophy
and Mysticism. Third, the practical socio-political manifestation of Islam in different Muslim
societies in different socio-historical backgrounds. There has been always a gap between any
given idealistic system and its implementation in reality like the distance between theory and
practice, and Islam is no exception.

2- The Text:

As for the original texts, a socio-historical analysis is needed for understanding and a very
modern linguistic methodology should be applied for interpretation. So far, only the philologic
approach is accepted and the socio-historical analysis is absolutely rejected not only in the
domain of texts' interpretation but also in the domain of Islamic thought's scholarship. The notion
that religious texts though divine and revealed by God are historically determined and culturally
constructed is not only rejected but also condemned as atheism. This is due to the fact that the
notion of the Qur'an as the eternal exact utterance of God, which is part of a specific theological
classical school of thought, has become the accepted dogma in Sunni Islam. Scholars only know
that there has been another school of theology that claimed that the Qur»an is created, it is
therefore impossible to be eternal, but quite very few of those scholars accept the notion of non-
eternity. As often in the history of Islam, these theological positions were narrowly associated
with socio-political positions. Nevertheless, these positions are taken in modern Islam discourse,
analyzed and evaluated in terms of Right and Wrong or Truth and Falsehood.

To present this issue in a greatly simplified way: If the Qur'an is not eternal, it is then created in a
certain context and the message it contains has to be understood in that context. This view leaves
room for reinterpretation of religious law, because God's word has to be understood according to
the spirit and not according to the letter. The final consequence is that the public authorities

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and/or society are entitled to primacy in the interpretation and application of the law. If God's
word, on the other hand, is eternal, uncreated and immutable, then the idea of reinterpretation
within a new situation becomes anathema; there is no difference between letter and spirit of the
Divine Law and only theologians are entitled to primacy in Its maintenance and guardianship. In
other words an Islamic authority like the Christian Church is needed, and this is almost what has
happened in the socio-political and cultural history of Islam since the 9th century AD when the
notion of the eternity of the Qur'an with all its implications was declared by the political
authorities as the true faith.

Just to illustrate the importance and rather the complexity of this problematic of the Divine text
in modern Islamic thought, I quote the very famous Egyptian intellectual reformist in the
nineteenth century Mohammed Abdou. In his treatise Risalat al-Tawhid, the first modern treatise
on Islamic theology, Abdou decided to select out of the classical theological discourse what is
considered best and useful for modern Muslims. He, therefore, combined together dogmas from
different theological schools and presented them as synthesis.

In the first edition of the book, Abdou adopted the notion of the non-eternal Qur'an but retreated
in the second edition to the opposite notion. Was it the fear of provoking the most influential
majority of the scholars of Al-Azhar? Or was it the convention of the Imam has changed?
Nothing is certain about this, but the fact remains that pragmatism, regardless of the good
intentions and the great motivations behind it, does not belong to scientific analysis which is very
essential to understanding and accordingly to interpretation of either the original texts or Islamic
thought. Such a pragmatic analysis and interpretation is unfortunately the prevailing and
commonly practised trend not only in the so called Islamist political discourse but also in the so
called enlighteneddiscourse. Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, a Sudanese mystic who was executed
in 1985, Hasan Hanafi of Egypt and Mohammed Shahrour of Syrian are three examples.

Original texts are a message revealed from God to man through Prophet Mohammed, who is the
Messenger of God and who is human himself. The Qur'an is very clear about that. A message
represents a communicative link between a sender and a receiver through a code or a linguistic
system. Because the sender in the case of the Qur'an cannot be the object of scientific study, it is
natural that the scientific introduction to the analysis of the Qur'anic text is through its contextual
reality and culture. Reality is the socio-political conditions which embraced the actions of those
who were addressed by the text and which embraced the first receiver of the text who was the
Prophet and Messenger of God. Culture, on the other hand, is the world of conceptions which are
embodied in the language, the same language in which the Qur'an is embodied too. In this sense,
to begin with the contextual cultural reality in analyzing the Qur'anic text is in fact to start with
empirical facts. Through the analysis of such facts a scientific understanding of the Quran could
be accomplished. It should be very obvious and clearly understood and needs no further proof to
say that the Quran is a cultural product.

However, the matter is more complicated because being a cultural product is only one side of the
text, the side of its emergence as a text. The other side of it is that the Qur'an has become a
producer of a new culture. In other words, the Qur'an first emerged as a text from within specific
socio-cultural reality embodied in a specific linguistic system, Arabic, and, second, a new culture
gradually emerged out of it. The fact that the Qur'anic text was understood and taken to heart has

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had irreversible consequences for its culture. Speaking about the Qur'an as a message brings
about the fact that although embodied in the Arabic linguistic system, the Qur'anic text has his
own peculiarities. As a unique text, it employed some special linguistic encoding dynamics in
order to convey its specific message. These peculiarities were acknowledged by the Arabs and
were admired even by some of those who fought against its message. From these peculiarities
and the challenge imposed against the Arabs by the Qur'an itself to try to make some text like its
shortest chapter emerged the notion of the absolute inomparability (ijaz) of the Qur'an.

It will always be necessary, however, to analyze and interpret the Qur'an and the authentic
traditions of the prophet within the contextual background in which they were originated. In
different words, the message of Islam could not have had any effect if the people who firstly
received it could not have understood it; they must have understood it within their socio-cultural
context, and by their understanding and application of it, their society changed. The
understanding of the first Muslim generation and the generations to follow should not by any
means be considered final or absolute. The specific linguistic encoding dynamics of the Qur'anic
text allows always an endless process of decoding. In this process the contextual socio-cultural
meaning should not be ignored or simplified, because this meaning is so vital to indicate the
direction of the new message of the text. Having the direction would facilitate moving from the
meaning to its significance in the present socio-cultural context. It will also enable the interpreter
to correctly and efficiently extract the historical and temporal which carry no significance in the
present context. As interpretation is the other inseparable side of the text, the Qur'an being
decoded in the light of its historical, cultural, and linguistic context, has to be re-coded into the
code of the cultural and linguistic context of the interpreter. In other words, the deep structure of
the Qur'an must be reconstructed from the surface structure. Subsequently, the deep structure of
the Qur'an must be rewritten in another surface structure, which is that of to-day.

This entails an interpretive diversity, because the endless process of interpretation and re-
interpretation cannot but differ in time. This is necessary, because otherwise the Message
degenerates and the Qur'an will always, as it is now, subject to be politically and pragmatically
manipulated. Since the message of Islam is believed to be valid to all human kind regardless of
time and space, diversity of interpretation is inevitable. But being aware of the difference
between the original contextual meaning, which is almost fixed because of its historicalness, and
the significance which is changeable, in addition to the awareness of the necessity that the
significance is to be strongly related and rationally connected to the meaning - will produce a
more valid interpretation. As long as it is emphasized that every interpretation is historically and
culturally constructed, this interpretation concerning human rights in Islam is no exception. It is
only valid as long as it does not violate the above mentioned rules of methodology in order to
jump to some desired ideological conclusions.

Violations of Human Rights

Whenever the human rights issue is addressed to Islam, Islamic thought and culture, or even to
Muslim societies, specific topics are explicitly or implicitly raised. Topics such as non-Muslim
status, women status, the Islamic penal code, slavery and the notion of scared war of Jihad. For
some practical reasons concerning the limitation of time and space, only the issue of non-
Muslims and the related issue of Jihad will be the main topic of this presentation. I hope this

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topic will present an example of what Islam says in its original texts about the more general wide
topic of human rights. It should be clarified from the outset that violation of human rights in
most Muslim countries is normal practice to the extent that it sometimes passes unnoticed by the
majority of the elites who are more concerned about hot issues like freedom of speech, freedom
of press, freedom of academic research, freedom of forming political parties, etc. I am sure no
one will accuse me of undermining these very important issues simply because I am personally a
representative example of the way these rights had been violated. What I wish to emphasize here
is the fact that the more essential and vital human rights of ordinary, mainly non-educated
citizens are violated every moment without being brought to public attention simply because
those people are not connected to any political body, neither do they have access to the press,
probably nor have they ever heard of human rights or learnt what it meant to be human.

Leaving the Muslim world and the whole so-politely-called developing world behind, the other
developed world has to explain what the word human means in the Western political context.
Are the people of Israel more human than the Lebanese? Or do the citizens of the United States
of America deserve a better life than people in Iraq? These are only two examples to indicate that
violation of human rights seems to be the rule not the exception. The difference between the
North and the South, (another arbitrary division of the human race), concerning this matter is of a
degree not of a kind. I think it is not only our duty but it should be also our obligation to protest
loud and clear against any kind of human rights violations whether practised by states, political
or religious groups, and/or individuals.Defending human rights should not be used as a mere
political weapon against some countries and groups, playing deaf and silent to others. Political
manipulation of human rights to protect self-interest in world politics is, in itself, a severe
violation, and causes absolute damage to essential human values.

As there is a wide gap between ideals and practice in our modern world, it is almost the same in
Islam. The idealistic teachings of Islam have been subject to interpretation and reinterpretation in
order to be adjusted to, and in some instances to justify, certain socio-political situations. If we
start with the non-Muslims status issue and apply the method explained above, we will find that
the basic and essential teaching of Islam is equality of all humans regardless of race, color,
religion or gender. It is clearly stated in the Qur'an that He created all mankind ¢from a single
soul and created its mate from the same soul and spread from both of them too many men and
women¢ (Sura IV verse 1). Humankind, thus created of male and female have been made into
tribes and nations in order to come to know each other. In addition to this essential equality, God
has honoured mankind and favored them over most of His creation.

Concerning different types of religious faith, equality also is essentially guaranteed unless a war
is initiated against Muslims, whereby the war conditions should be applied. These war conditions
should be understood as only exceptional historical practical teachings. Let me again quote the
Qur'anic text in its essential guarantee of freedom of faith:

Those who believe in Islam and those who believe in Judaism and the Christians and the Sabins,
any who believe in God and the las day, and do righteousness, shall have their reward from God.
(11/62 and V/69.
Those who believe in Islam, and those who believe in Judaism, and the Sabins, Christians,
Magians and polytheists, God will judge among them on the day of judgement. (XX11/17).

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If one amongst the pagans ask you [Mohammed] for asylum, grant it to hm, so he may hear the
word of God and then escort him to where he can be secure. (IX).
Even the freedom to return to atheism after accepting Islam or to convert to another faith is left
to man's essential free choice. It is natural in a religious text like the Qu'an to introduce for such
an act an after world punishment, but there is no immediate penalty mentioned. Such a penal
code was later introduced by jurisprudence and institutionalized as part of the faith. Again
quoting the Qur'an will clear the situation.

Back to the chapter entitled Immunity (sura IX) from which the whole notion of Jihad or sacred
war, including the conception of Jizzya, was taken as an essential part of faith, we find it
mentioned that polytheists should be slain whenever they are found. But if even only one
contextual level, namely the internal narrative and linguistic context of the chapter itself, is
considered, it will be very clear that it is a threat. The behavior of the Prophet when Mecca was
conquered ten years after being forced to leave is a substantial proof against the literal
understanding; he simply gave the people of Mecca his forgiveness and prayed for their
forgiveness by God. During the great venture of Islam, nor single report of committing any
collective killing by Muslim conquerors was recorded, which means that the early generations of
Muslims did not consider that specific verse as conveying any obligatory religious duty. The
Jizya was the only added obligation put on non-Muslims in the new territories opened by the
Muslims.

According to the Quran the obligation to pay Jizya is not limited to the people of the Book alone
as it is commonly understood. It is to be paid by all non-Muslims who believe not in God nor the
last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and his Apostle, nor
acknowledge the religion of the truth. (IX/9). The conception of Jizya has been in fact
understood and explained by jurisprudents as an extra tax to be paid by those who could not be
allowed in military service. If it were a way of entertaining religious discrimination, they would
not have excluded paying the Jizya on women, children, the elderly and the clergy. This
exclusion means that as long as all citizens in a multi-religion country like Egypt for instance,
are equally involved in military service, there is no room to claim that Copts should pay Jizya.
Such a claim is not only in contradiction with the essential teaching of Islam, but it is absolutely
insane. Islam is not a religion of harassment nor of discrimination and patronization. But socio-
political cultural stagnation in Muslim societies would generate more than misunderstanding of
Islam; it might lead to a total damage to its values. But we must not forget that even within the
enlightenment and the modernity of the West, human rights are not human. They need to be
humanized instead of being even not totally westernized.

(copyright Nasr Abu Zaid)

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Can religious extremism be rolled back?

By Khalid Ahmed (copyright)

The Musharraf government has stated repeatedly that it will not tolerate extremism of the
religious organisations. It is more clear about such manifestly terrorist organisations as Lashkar-
e-Jhangvi, which it has already banned; and interior minister Moinuddin Haider is outspoken
about the extremism of Sipah Sahaba and Tehreek Jafaria. But will the government ban Sipah
Sahaba or take action against its seminaries to eliminate what it thinks is extremism? Meanwhile,
most leaders of the religious parties are taking 'extreme' positions against the government - and
some of their leaders are behind bars - without fear of being declared extremists.

Difficulty of defining extremism: The government definitely does not want to accuse the jehadis
fighting the war of liberation in Indian Held Kashmir of being extremist. But that does not mean
that the leaders of these organisations are not issuing extremist statements. Some of these
organisations, like Jaish-e-Muhammad and Harkatul Mujahideen, are both offshoots of Sipah
Sahaba and have armed fighters in their ranks that move easily from mother to branch
organisations and back. Sipah Sahaba has achieved a dominant position of deployment of armed
men in Sindh - most observers still think that the Sipah is dominant in Jhang, Kurram Agency
and Northern Areas alone. If the Taliban are a measure of extremism, then all the Deobandi
jehadi organisations would have be counted extremist.

One has to confess that the government is most unlikely to take any action against the extremists
in Pakistan - mostly because it is difficult to grasp its definition of what is extremism. The easiest
way out is to stick the label on to the shia-killers among the religious organisations, but that may
not mean that it will go ahead and ban the party and haul up its offending activists. The 90
percent 'silent' supporters of the government, who showed that they did not admire the Taliban
by not joining the protest marches called by the religious parties, do expect the government to
apply the law uniformly to all citizens including the religious and jehadi organisations and
eliminate those elements that defy the law. But the government is going to disappoint them all. It
will also not take advantage of the international support Pakistan enjoys these days to cleanse the
country of religious violence and institutionalised extremist vision of Islam.

Extremism and shariat: One reason Talibanisation spread in Pakistan was the identity between
what Mulla Umar wanted to enforce in Afghanistan and that which the ideological state of
Pakistan wants to enforce as shariat . There is a general misconception in Pakistan that the
Taliban actually put forward a vision of Islam which was alien to Pakistan. The truth of the
matter is that the Taliban vision was alien to Afghanistan and was exported to it from Pakistan.
The department of Amr bil Maruf , responsible for most of the extreme measures taken in
Afghanistan, was actually proposed by the PML government of Nawaz Sharif in its 15th
Amendment. The only difference is that Mulla Umar went ahead and implemented what the
Pakistani state was first in contemplating. The Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan has been
recommending institutional reform - for instance the inquisition-like office of Hisba - that would
'complete' the ideological state.

It would be interesting to examine the orthodox Islamic view in Pakistan to see if what we have

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here is less extreme than the extremism of Mulla Umar's Afghanistan. In the Islamic intellectual
tradition the least impressive aspect is the theory of the state. That is not to say that the clergy
has not written about the subject. There are in fact half a dozen respectable names that could be
mentioned in this field, but the inconvenient truth is that no agreed and practicable vision of an
Islamic state has emerged. The one great thinker in this regard has been Pakistan's Abul Ala
Maududi whose work became popular in the entire Islamic world, particularly because of his
focus on the formation of the Islamic state. As a thinker he has been most influential in the
process of law-making in Pakistan although this influence was wielded by Maududi while he sat
in the opposition and criticised what the state was doing for Islamisation, starting in 1949 with
the Objectives Resolution.

The idea of the Islamic State: In Maududi's book Islamic Law and Constitution published by
Jamaat Islami in English first in 1955 he expresses the most popular concepts relating to the
creation of an Islamic state. The source of law is the sunna which actually encompasses the
Quran, the tradition of the Prophet PBUH, the example of the Four Caliphs, and decisions
recorded by the great jurists of Islam. Women are allowed participation neither in government
nor administration; and the non-Muslims are not accorded full citizenship of the state. Only
Muslims can hold the key public offices while the non-Muslims are the zimmi subjects of the
state on the payment of a special tax. In his book Political Theory of Islam Maududi envisages a
totalitarian state saying 'no one can regard his affairs as personal and private. Considered from
this aspect the Islamic state bears a kind of resemblance to the fascist and Communist
regimes...no doubt the Islamic state is a totalitarian state and comprises within its sphere all
departments of life'.

If Pakistan thought it could ignore Maududi's firm verdict in favour of polygamy in Islam it was
quite mistaken. In the post-Zia period all the 'reformist' Islamic legislations like those pertaining
to Family Laws were set aside by the Federal Shariat Court. The last straw that broke the camel's
back was the abolition of bank interest as riba by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1999,
something that reformists like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan - regarded as an apostate by the clergy -
had ruled as not riba . The Supreme Court may not resist long the groundswell of reaction against
the Hanafi tradition of allowing girls to marry without the permission of a wali or male head of
he family. Although in Islamic Law and Constitution Maududi had declared that Hanafi law shall
be the law of the land in Pakistan, in Purda he asserted that 'while marrying, a woman is obliged
to obey the head of the family or the guardian and if he objects to her choice she cannot marry
that person'. While it is true that Pakistan's Islamic jurisprudence is Hanafi, there is a strong
tradition originating with Shah Waliullah to 'unite' all the schools of fiqh , which compelled Shah
Waliullah's biographer and religious leader Unbaidullah Sindhi to insist that in India Hanafi law
alone must be observed.

Closing of the Muslim mind: In Rasail-o-masail , Maududi clearly foreshadowed the extremism
of the Taliban when he outlawed still photographs while ironically allowing cinematography.
About the treatment to be meted out to women, his thinking seems to be of a piece with the
Taliban: 'In an Islamic civilisation it would be hundred times better to bury the Muslim girls
alive in the graves rather than send them to the present day colleges or to the institutes for
training nurses, or to hospitals. The same would be true of educating them in the present-day
girls' colleges in order to train them as teachers'. These views are clearly at variance with

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Pakistan's more universally accepted intellectual Allama Iqbal, especially in relation to the
address he gave to the women of Madras in 1929. But in Pakistan, Allama Iqbal - and his
objection to hudood laws in the Sixth Lecture - have steadily lost ground to Maududi.

The closing of he Islamic mind in Pakistan has been steady. The march to the Taliban style of
Islam has been unbroken by any periods of relaxation. Even under a 'secular' General Ayub Khan,
Pakistan's biggest post-1947 Islamic scholar Dr Fazlur Rehman was drummed out of the country
for recommending a rationalist and moderate version of Islam. Elsewhere in the Islamic world
reformists like Abduh and Afghani have not fared any better and there is a wind of extremism
blowing in the Muslim society. Al-Azhar, once a seat of enlightened Islam, no longer accepts
contraception, and its doctors will not give a clear verdict against female circumcision. All this
will only complicate the government's campaign - if ever it materialises - against religious
extremism.

The problem of commanding and forbidding: The real trouble for the state of Pakistan comes
from the Quranic concept of amr bil maruf wa nahi anal munkar (commanding right and
forbidding wrong) which is in force through the ulema but has not been legislated. This transfers
the sovereignty of the state to the ulema who may not agree with one another on the basic tenets
of Islam as was proved by The Munir Report (1953). It is the duty of all believers to command
that which is good and forbid that which is wrong. There are numerous verses in the Quran
asking the Muslims to observe this principle. Should the act of forbidding be an individual act or
a collective one? There are verses in the Quran that mostly advocate collective action, while
there are some others that recommend individual action. But an individual could get into trouble
challenging a powerful man on his misdeeds. An early story linked to Imam Abu Hanifa shows
the Imam was reluctant to advise individuals to undertake the act of challenging.

The problem is that amr and nahi could have become obsolete in our day because of the setting
up of a modern Islamic state, the framing of a constitution, the preparation of the penal code, and
the establishment of a police department. If you think that something wrong is being done or that
something right is not being done, you can look up the penal code, and if the act is described as a
crime, you can go to the police station and register an FIR. In other words, the state is the
enforcer of amr and nahi . If someone ignores this and enforces amr and nahi on his own, he
would be deemed to have taken the law in his own hands and would be committing a crime
himself. Nahi when enforced like this can be dangerous. In Pakistan, often when an individual
tries to stop eve-teasing or rebukes persons not observing the fast, he is attacked by the violators
and sometimes even killed. When prime minister Nawaz Sharif introduced the concept of amr
and nahi in his 15th amendment, he intended to give the executive responsibility of amr and nahi
to the government in power. Amr and nahi is law-making as you go along, somewhat on the lines
of the Federal Shariat Court. In Afghanistan, the department of Amr bil Maroof were a group of
hardline ulema who did law-making on their feet, innovating through such decisions as the
destruction of the archaeological heritage of Afghanistan.

The state in Pakistan must march on to the realisation of the dogma it has embraced. In modern
times, it is an extremist agenda. There is no way one can conceive that the Musharraf
government will tackle it. The state must reach its terminal stage, like the state created by Mulla

For IPSS Political School 11


Umar. There is no institutionalised trend in Pakistan of learning from history or even taking
lesson from the unfolding of the present.

For IPSS Political School 12