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The myth of misinterpreted Islam - Pakistan's Council of Islamic Ideology rules Christian hangmen cannot work with Muslims

September 14, 2005

MIM: Just in case anyone had the illusion that Islamic law was not being observed in Pakistan this article from 2002 outlines the dos and don'ts of fundamentalism and advocates cutting off of theives hands while doing away with prisons as "against shari'a".

The Friday Times (Pakistan)
11-17 January 2002

The myth of 'misinterpreted' Islam

Khaled Ahmed's A n a l y s i s

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the Ministry of Religious=20
Affairs should not be blamed for issuing outrageous Islamic proposals=20
(the latest being that all banknotes be withdrawn and the photo on=20
them of the Quaid-e-Azam be erased) because they are following the=20
rules of accepted interpretation in Islam. The mood among the clergy=20
and the Islamists is aggressive since the turn of the 20th century=20
and violence is normally resorted to when a literalist version of=20
fiqh-dominated Islam is not enforced. That is where extremism starts.
here is a common fallacy that Islam as enforced in Pakistan is=20
misinterpreted and somehow there exists a true religion of Islam=20
which should be revived. At least Masud Mufti in Dawn (29 December=20
2001) seems to imply that. The truth of the matter is that under the=20
prevailing principles of interpretation, what we have is the correct=20
interpretation of Islam. The 'rational' Islam of Sir Syed Ahmad was=20
rejected in his lifetime by all schools of thought among the Muslims,=20
Deobandi and Barelvi alike. In Egypt the reformist spirit of Muhammad=20
Abduh has been challenged and set aside by the Islamists of the 21st=20
century including the ulema of Al-Azhar. There is an emphasis on fiqh=20
under the principles of ijtehad (reinterpretation) . Not many people=20
know that Islamic law is based on fiqh and that ijtehad is allowed=20
only on matters not decided by fiqh . Allama Iqbal once tried to=20
write on ijtehad and corresponded with Maulana Salman Nadvi, asking=20
him tough questions on points where fiqh actually supersedes the=20
Quran, to which the maulana made no reply.

The verdict on riba by the Supreme Court Shariat Appellate Bench in=20
1999 shocked many, but it was according to the standard application=20
of fiqh . Right after that, the Federal Shariat Court also abolished=20
the old Family Law Ordinance and allowed men to practise polygamy=20
without the permission of their first wives. In an effort to make the=20
verdict rational, the Court said it was good for Pakistan because=20
there were more women here than men! After that the wife of Dr Israr=20
Ahmad, the famous Lahore cleric, said that she would not mind her=20
husband taking another wife. Famous leader of Lashkar-e-Tayba Hafiz=20
Saeed never stopped saying that democracy was against Islam and that=20
those who believed that Islam allowed parliament were ullu (owl).=20
Only the army liked what he kept on saying, but he was right. The=20
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the Ministry of Religious=20
Affairs should not be blamed for issuing outrageous Islamic proposals=20
(the latest being that all banknotes be withdrawn and the photo on=20
them of the Quaid-e-Azam be erased) because they are following the=20
rules of accepted interpretation in Islam.

Most people think that extremism comes out of a misinterpretation of=20
Islam. This is wrong. Extremism and violence occur when people do not=20
accept what the Islamists regard as the irreducible crux of Islam in=20
the shape of shariah . (What is shariah may differ from country to=20
country). The mood among the clergy and the Islamists is aggressive=20
since the turn of the 20th century and violence is normally resorted=20
to when a literalist version of fiqh-dominated Islam is not enforced.=20
That is where extremism starts. As for the practicability of=20
literalist Islam, many laws in force have either produced malpractice=20
or have simply lain dormant, as in many cases of dyat (blood money)=20
and qatt-e-yadd (cutting of hands). In such cases the stand of the=20
Islamists is that only they will enforce them correctly when they=20
come to power through aggressively isolationist policies in the=20
manner of Mulla Umar. Below are produced some of the=20
'strange-sounding' statements issued by institutions and individuals=20
charged with the task of enforcing Islam in Pakistan:

Blasphemy to apply to Allah

According to daily Jang , Council for Islamic Ideology will soon hold=20
its session to recommend that anyone blaspheming against Allah too=20
should be punished. It will also recommend that no woman be allowed=20
to marry without the permission of her wali (male guardian). It is=20
expected to ban kite-flying, organ transplant and smoking.

Religion ministry okays Taliban idol-bashing

According to Khabrain , the ministry for religious affairs in=20
Islamabad gave its verdict on the destruction of ancient statues in=20
Afghanistan by saying that the Taliban were right in doing so. The=20
Foreign Office had asked the ministry about the status of this=20
destruction in shariat . Thus Pakistan had now to support the=20
destruction of the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan, although it=20
was not made clear what should be done to such statues ion Pakistan.

Objection to Christian hangman

According to Khabrain , the Council for Islamic Ideology had become=20
seized with the question of Christian jallad (hangman) executing=20
Muslim convicts in Pakistan. Among issues taken to the Council by the=20
religion ministry was the issue of girls marrying of their own choice.

Closure during namaz

According to daily Din , religion ministry had given the task of=20
preparing a draft ordinance for the enforcement of namaz in Pakistan.=20
Its directive was that all businesses should be closed down five=20
times during namaz and during Friday namaz, and no one should be=20
allowed to break this law. The entire country will have the same=20
namaz and azan (call) timings.

Religion minister against Punjabi Conference

Quoted in daily Insaf , federal religion minister Mehmud Ghazi said=20
that the Gandhis of Pakistan were trying to raise the slogan of=20
Punjabi to undermine the Islamic ideology of Pakistan. He said that=20
the Punjabi Conference held in Lahore was an Indian scheme which=20
emphasised the region at the cost of Islam.

No songs on PTV, please!

According to daily Jang , the federal ministry for religious affairs=20
headed by Mr Mahmud Ghazi had sent a recommendation to the ministry=20
of information that all songs and dances shown on PTV be banned. The=20
ministry's letter said that PTV was involved in emulating Indian TV=20
channels and was showing women shaking their bodies.

Ideology Council recommends 'wali'

According to Khabrain , Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) announced=20
that nikah of a girl without the permission of wali (male member of=20
family) was un-Islamic and those girls getting married of their own=20
choice should be punished under law. A verdict undoing such a=20
marriage at Lahore High Court was set aside by the Supreme Court not=20
long ago, but the CII favoured the earlier verdict. The other=20
enlightened opinion of the CII was that co-education should be=20
banned, that all lotteries like prize bonds should be banned and the=20
paper used for printing the Quran should not be recycled.

Ideology Council critical of Supreme Court

According to daily Din , chairman of the Ideology Council of Pakistan=20
(CII) criticised the Supreme Court for postponing the removal of bank=20
interest for another year. Its chairman Mr S.M. Zaman said that it=20
was not an economic issue but an issue related to the Quran and the=20
Prophet PBUH. CII had earlier endorsed the destruction of=20
Afghanistan's archaeological heritage by the Taliban and criticised=20
the Hanafi law of letting girls marry without the permission of the=20
wali. According to Nawa-e-Waqt , the Council also rejected religion=20
minister Mahmood Ghazi's plan to use zakat to allow the poor to=20
invest in businesses by saying that zakat could not be used for=20
investment of any kind.

Namaz defaulters to be punished

According to Khabrain , religion ministry had sent the draft of a new=20
law called Amr bil maruf wa nahi anal munkir Ordinance to the cabinet=20
for approval and enforcement. Under this law everyone will be=20
required to say namaz , all government employees will have to lay=20
aside work during namaz timings and will be fined if they didn't say=20
namaz. At all levels, ulema committees will see to it that non-=20
namazi Muslims are punished. All those who refuse to say namaz after=20
three warnings will be fined.

Insurance is un-Islamic

According to Khabrain , Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) ruled that=20
insurance of all kinds was against Islam and should be abolished=20
forthwith. Instalments paid into a policy should be given under=20
mudaraba (leasing) to make insurance Islamic. Mudaraba business did=20
not do well in Pakistan.

Non-alcoholic beer un-Islamic

According to Jang , the Council of Islamic Ideology came to the=20
conclusion that soft drinks sold as non-alcoholic beer were not jaez=20
(allowed) in Islam. The Council said that any drink which is not=20
sharab (alcohol) could not be called sharab or that the name beer=20
should not be put on it. It said preparationand trade of=20
non-alcoholic beer inside or outside Pakistan was haram (prohibited).

Kalima for the flag

Daily Khabrain reported that despite the passage of 23 years since=20
the Council of Islamic Ideology made its first proposal about it, the=20
government had not changed the flag. The recommendation was that=20
kalima tayyaba be inscribed on the Pakistan national flag along with=20
Allah Akbar. It was a pity that such a good scheme for Islamising the=20
national flag was not accepted so far.

No women in ads, please!

Quoted in Jang , the Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) said that=20
women should be disallowed from appearing in ads and that only men=20
should be used to promote products through photographs. It said that=20
women were allowed to work as air hostesses but they should wearing=20
burqa or hijab on board. Also, no darzi (tailor) should be allowed to=20
sew the clothes for women and that only women darzi should be used=20
for women. According to the daily, CII also recommended that ACRs of=20
all state employees should contain sections indicating religious=20
observance and those not saying namaz should not be promoted.

Jehad is no defensive war!

According to Jang , the Council for Islamic Ideology in Islamabad=20
declared that it was wrong to label jehad as a defensive war alone.=20
The truth according to CII was that jehad could be offensive as well.=20
According to Nawa-e-Waqt , the CII stated that Western propaganda=20
against jehad had pushed it into the background, but everyone should=20
be grateful to Afghanistan for having revived it. It said that the=20
greatest act of piety was participation in jehad and one cause of the=20
decline of the Muslims was their abandonment of it.

Currency will be banned

Daily Jang magazine quoted Lashkar-e-Tayba chief Hafiz Saeed as=20
saying that when Islamic government is imposed on Pakistan currency=20
will be abolished and gold and silver coins only will be legal=20
tender. He said that the constitution too would be abolished as there=20
was no need of a constitution in the presence of Quran. According to=20
Khabrain , an insulter of the Prophet PBUH was sentenced to death in=20
a Lahore Sessions Court because Yusuf 'Kazzab' had claimed to be the=20
khalifa (appointee) of the Prophet PBUH.

Get rid of 'bainamaz' officers

According to daily Pakistan , the Council of Islamic Ideology=20
recommended to the government that it should fire civil servants who=20
did not say their namaz, and that areas where people said their namaz=20
should be selected for concessional development funds.

Against Sunday holiday

According to daily Pakistan , Islamic Ideology Council (IIC) resolved=20
in Islamabad that Pakistan should revert to Friday as weekly holiday=20
for Islamic blessings, which supported a similar demand made by some=20
shopkeepers in Lahore. However, two members of the CII, not member=20
Afzal Haider, insisted that instead of reverting to Friday, the=20
government should ensure that people said their Friday prayer.Jail=20
against Islam

Prison not allowed in Islam

According to Khabrain , Council of Islamic Ideology declared that=20
sending anyone to prison was against Shariat and recommended that=20
prison sentences be abolished. Early Islam had no jails, no police,=20
and no banks. Thieves used to have their hands cut.


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