Defending the role of madressahs and resenting the prime minister’s mention of religious schools in the context of terrorism, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari demanded on Thursday that the government expose elements and organisations behind the Peshawar school carnage, saying that it was the worst incident of its kind in the world.
He, however, alleged that under the cover of the tragedy a propaganda campaign sponsored by the west had been unleashed against the madressahs and Islam. Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari is the general secretary of the Ittehad-i-Tanzeemat-i-Madaris-i-Deenia — an umbrella organisation of five main bodies representing seminaries from as many different schools of thought. Those bodies are Wifaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia of the Deobandi school of thought, Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Pakistan of the Barelvi school of thought, Rabta-ul-Madaris of seminaries running under the Jamaat-i-Islami, Wifaq-ul-Madaris Al-Shia of the Shia school of thought and Wifaq-ul-Madaris Al Salfia representing the Ahl-i-Hadees school of thought. Qari Jalandhari deplored Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s remarks in his address to the nation and said that instead of paying attention to the basic causes of the tragedy, the prime minister mentioned madressahs although there was no link between terrorism and seminaries “which are purely devoted to imparting Islamic teachings”.
“General Pervez Musharraf said one per cent of the madressahs were involved in terrorism. The Pakistan Peoples Party said it was two per cent. And now Nawaz Sharif says 10 per cent of madressahs are involved in terrorism,” the Qari said. “If you know about them, order action against such institutions and we will support you.” He said the prime minister in a statement had promised to share information and have consultation with the media and madressahs before initiating any measures, and a committee, headed by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, was also formed for such consultations. But, he regretted, before any consultation, some authorities had started harassment by raiding and sending police and different agencies personnel to seek particulars of religious seminaries. He said the prime minister should take its notice that some elements were trying to pit the government and the madressahs against each other. “But we don’t like to see our country involved in some other crisis as it is already passing through a severe situation,” he said.
Qari Jalandhari said they did not want any confrontation with the government, and wanted negotiation and understanding to overcome apprehensions and elimination of extremism and terrorism in all their forms in the country. He recalled the history of madressahs in the subcontinent and said never before had they been linked with terrorism. He said funding of madressahs was like an open book as they received no funding from foreign sources so much so that US aid to the tune of $6 billion, which was for financing madressahs, was not accepted by any madressah. “Besides, when our madressahs don’t accept any grant from our own government, how could one think of receiving anything from abroad?” he asked. In reply to a question, he said despite all their reservations, they were prepared to endorse the setting up of military courts provided they were created in accordance with the Constitution and all terrorism cases should be tried without any discrimination as without justice peace could not be established. He also welcomed sending convicts to the gallows without any discrimination.
In reply to another question, he said they regularly sent their audited reports to the authorities but the madressahs were being given a bad name as part of the global agenda aimed at replacing religious people with secular ones on the forefront. Qari Jalandhari, who was accompanied by Mufti Muhammad Naeem and Maulana Obaidullah Khalid, said he was shocked to hear from the prime minister about registration of madressahs, audit of accounts and funding of madressahs, and said the prime minister appeared to be misled about ground realities.
The madressahs, he said, were not averse to registration as the law was introduced in 1952-53 but during the PPP government in 1994 the registration of madressahs was stopped and despite our demand to remove a ban on registration, it was not lifted until 2004. He said instead of initiating action against those officials who had created obstacles in the registration of madressahs, the authorities had started harassment by adopting an insulting attitude to madressahs by sending police and agencies personnel there. -dawn