ISLAMABAD: An influential seminary in Lahore, Jamia Ashrafia, has issued a religious decree claiming that construction of places of worship for non-Muslims in an Islamic country is un-Islamic, implying building of a Hindu temple in Islamabad would be against the teachings of Islam.
The decree came from Jamia Ashrafia- a seminary of Deobani school of thought, at a time when millions of Hindus living in the country were happy over start of construction of first temple in the federal capital. However, decree of the seminary encompasses all the communities, who do not follow Muslim faith.
On June 23, the parliamentary secretary on human rights, Lalchand Malhi performed groundbreaking ceremony for construction of Temple in Islamabad for his community. In a recent meeting between Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and a delegation led by the parliamentary secretary Lalchand, the premier ensured approval of funds for construction of Hindu’s religious complex including Temple, and community center at the allocated four kanals land in H-9 sector.
More than 200 families are living in federal capital and their population is increasing as many Hindu business families are shifting in the federal capital for better business opportunities.
“In an Islamic country it is permissible to maintain existing places of worships of non-Muslims, so that they can freely practice their religious rituals. However, construction of any new places of worship or re-activating any old and abundant worship places for non-Muslims in an Islamic country is not permissible in Islam, as it would mean collaborating in sin” reads Urdu text of the decree.
The decree commonly called “fatwa” was issued by Zia -ud-Din Mansehrvi in response to a question asked by some individuals from the seminary.
People approach such seminaries to get Islamic point of view in the form of fatwas on matters where they consider religious interpretation is needed. Seminaries have Islamic scholars known as “Muftis” authorized to issue decrees.
After the groundbreaking ceremony of temple construction in Islamabad, the Islamic clerics of different school of thoughts came out with difference in opinions. One of the influential sects ‘Deoband’ came up immediately with Fatwa (Religious Decree) stating the construction of Hindu temple is Un-Islamic.
Jamia Ashrafia decree has signatures of two other ulema of the Decree department of the seminary with official stamps.
Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan with total population of around four million as recorded by federal census department. A large part of Hindu community is placed in Sindh province, however they have also resided in all major cities of the country and government of Pakistan is fully committed to give all privileges and rights equal to any citizen of country.
More than 200 families of Hindu community are residing in federal capital of the country, however since the independence, there was not a single state owned worship place and crematorium for Hindu community in Islamabad.
After a seven-years of long struggle, the Hindu community finally observed groundbreaking ceremony for construction of ‘Krishna’ temple in federal capital. Pakistan’s federal government had allotted the land of 4 Kanal in H-9 sector for the temple.
On the other hand, the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday has issued notice to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on a petition against the construction of a temple in the federal capital.
In the federal capital, Justice Amir Farooq heard a petition filed by Chaudhary Tanveer. During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel argued that the land allotted for the construction of the temple in Sector H9 of Islamabad should be withdrawn and that the construction funds for the temple should also be withdrawn.
The person in-charge of Waqaf-ul-Madaris Alarbia Pakistan, Maulana Hanif Jalandhri and Chairman Ullema Council Pakistan, Allama Tahir Ashrafi while speaking with The News Today avoid to comment over the Hindu temple issue and religious decree issued by Jamia Ashrafia as well.
Both of religious cleric said that the religious Ulemas are continuously in consultation over the matter of construction Hindu Temple in Islamabad, however they would be able to speak on the matter after thoroughly study the decree issued by Jamia Ashrafia and mutual consultation with religious leaders of the country.
A religious cleric representing Shia sect, Allama Syed Hussain Muqadsi while speaking with the scribe said Islam is the religion which teach us to respect the other religions. He was of the view that constitutionally and religious, it is our responsibility to protect the rights of minorities according to constitution and Islamic practices.
“When we give the freedom to Christians and Sikh community to practice their religious and human rights than why not the Hindu community? However nobody can be given permission in Pakistan to violate the constitution of the country and Islamic practices as described by Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”, he maintained.
The constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to all its citizens. The government of Pakistan claims there is no discrimination against minorities, he said
Pakistani Hindu community strongly condemned the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which discriminates against Muslims in India.
They had also rejected India’s offer to grant them citizenship under the new law. They said they are not interested in taking refuge in India and criticized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘doctrine’ against persecution of Muslims in India.
Human rights activist Sarwar Bari while speaking with The News Today said it is prime responsibility of every citizen to protect all the rights, be it religious or human rights, of non-Muslims living in the country. He quoted constitutional provisions in this regard.
“When India allows Muslims to build their mosques and the western governments respect the rights of Muslims and even provide funds for construction of mosques and Muslim community centers than what’s wrong with construction of Hindu Temple in Islamabad”, he maintained.
The parliamentary secretary of Human Rights ministry, Lalchand believes that only a tolerant society based on the principles of interfaith harmony can ensure social inclusion by providing all citizens equal opportunities to grow irrespective of their religion or faith, adding that interfaith harmony is the way forward for peace and prosperity.
Although there have been some incidents where few miscreants have tried to bring bad name to the country by targeting religious minorities, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis always condemned any such attempt.
Human right activists believe that along with the constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights, practical steps should be taken by the state and the society for the protection rights of non-Muslims in the country.