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Interview (04 Feb 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Pakistani Version of Islam Has Adopted Militant Teachings to Justify the Misdeeds of the Establishment


By Aarti Tikoo Singh

February 4, 2019

Mohamad Tawhidi, a Muslim cleric of Iraqi origin who is now based in Australia, is a campaigner against extremism. On the eve of his participation in a cultural festival in India, he spoke to Aarti Tikoo Singh about his mission of propagating peace:

You are an Iraqi born in Iran. Why did your family emigrate to Australia?

My family fled to Iran from Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime. Four of my uncles were executed by Saddam Hussein’s regime due to their open opposition against his crimes and wars. My father was imprisoned for nearly a decade. My parents moved to Iran because the borders were open and Iraqis were fleeing to Iran in the thousands. I was born in Iran as a refugee. We migrated to Australia because my parents took the opportunity to start a new life after living through the Iraq-Iran war.

Why did you choose to become an imam and call yourself ‘Imam of Peace’?

I went on a trip to Iran in 2006. At first the journey began as a Middle East holiday that turned into an educational programme. I decided to remain in Iran due to the fact that I could relate to everything there. So I decided to engage in Islamic studies. I have been involved in Islamic affairs ever since.

I am a peace advocate. Most imams I was raised around in school and at the mosque were not peaceful people. Therefore, I distanced myself from extremist imams by referring to myself as ‘Imam of Peace’. I encourage more imams to refer to themselves as ‘Imams of Peace’ because I believe it will solve a lot of societal problems.

You are a Muslim cleric, yet you often criticise Islam. Why?

I do not criticise God or the monotheistic foundations of my religion. I love my religion. I only criticise the man-made elements which have led to wars, terrorism and ongoing waves of extremism. There is no single governing body in Islam. So all Muftis are free to issue whatever Fatwas they desire, directing the vulnerable masses to follow their nonsensical and fundamentalist brands of extremism.

Why are you visiting India?

I am visiting India because I have been invited to attend a cultural festival. I want to use this opportunity to shed light on the importance of establishing peace and healthy interfaith dialogue.

What do you think of Islam and Muslims in India?

There are many wonderful Muslims in India. My problem is with the Pakistani version of Islam that is heavily influenced by militant teachings. Pakistan’s version of Islam is somewhat sophisticated because it is amended to fit the narrative of the government and to justify all of its wrongdoings. It is heavily influenced by militant ideologies and false prophecies of conquering the entire Indian subcontinent. It is a revolutionary brand of Islamism that threatens the entire geographic region. Pakistan’s al-Qaida cells have already expanded into India.

In India’s social media you are accused of working for the Hindutva agenda.

In every country, there are groups accusing me of being a front for certain organisations. I find this to be very childish because my agenda is clear. I work for my own foundation, the Imam Tawhidi Foundation. I am a religious practising Muslim. I believe that many verses in the Quran support scientific facts such as the big bang and evolution. Therefore, I base my theology and doctrine on scientific facts and logic.

You have been accused of being critical mostly of Sunni Islam. Is it because you are a Shia cleric?

I am not sectarian. I criticise both Shia and Sunni extremism equally. In my latest book The Tragedy of Islam, I have dedicated an entire chapter discussing ‘The Difficulties of Shia Islam and Shia Islamic Governance’.

However, we cannot deny that the majority of terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaida, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, are all Sunni Muslims. The Shia terrorist organisations are a handful and in limited geographic areas: Hizbullah of Lebanon and the IRGC of Iran.

I believe the collective mindset or mentality should be challenged, and humans should be able to think as honourable individuals. Change begins when individuals decide to think for themselves. The first step towards positive change is to distance ourselves from extremists.

Why don’t you preach your version of Islam in Iran or Iraq instead of Australia?

I did preach throughout the Middle East. I was imprisoned in Iran for my preaching. I was detained without charge. I was preaching a more open-minded and secular brand of Islam that calls for the separation of mosque and state, religion and politics. In Iraq, I co-founded Imam Hussein TV3 and was preaching regular Islamic lessons in jurisprudence, Quranic science and Islamic History. But I had to leave Iraq in 2014 due to ISIS taking over important cities.

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/Tic-Tac-Toe/pakistans-version-of-islam-is-amended-to-fit-the-narrative-of-the-government-and-justify-its-wrongdoings/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/interview/aarti-tikoo-singh/pakistani-version-of-islam-has-adopted-militant-teachings-to-justify-the-misdeeds-of-the-establishment/d/117641





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