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Friday Sermons Blow Hot and Cold In Lahore Mosques


Daily Times Special Report

August 09, 2004

Preachers and orators of Islam’s Ahle Hadith and Deobandi sects, considered hardliners in Islamic dispensation, strongly oppose the presence of US forces in Iraq, the military operation in Wana in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the arrest of people from various parts of the country in the war on terror. They also do not want the government to send troops to Iraq, while the Barelvis and Shias want peace in Iraq and power transferred to Iraqi people, revealed a survey by Daily Times on Friday.

Daily Times visited 10 main Lahore mosques belonging to the Ahle Hadith, Deobandi, Barelvi and Shia sects and listened to Friday sermons by various orators. While the Ahle Hadith and Deobandi orators took a hard line against the US and Pakistani governments in their sermons, the Barelvi and Shia orators were more mellow in their criticism of the Pakistani government’s pro-US actions. Orators of mosques run by the government refrained from highlighting political issues and only discussed religion in their sermons.

At the state-run Badshahi Mosque, Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, a Deobandi thinker, led the Friday congregation. He adhered strictly to the government’s much-voiced principle that places of worship should not be politicised and that they must not pass judgment on others. Maulana Khabeer confined his sermon to the life of Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his disciples.

Hafiz Saeed Ahmed, head of Jamaatud Dawa, an Ahle Hadith hardliner, delivered his Friday sermon at Jamia Qadsia Chauburji. He discussed national and international issues in detail.

Saeed denounced the government for not saying a categorical ‘no’ to sending troops to Iraq.

“We also don’t approve of the government making friends with India at the cost of Kashmir and the concept of jihad”, Saeed said emphatically.

Maulana Abdur Rehman Ashrafi, chief orator of Jamia Ashrafia Ferozpur Road and a Deobandi scholar said in his Friday’s sermon that Punjab should congratulate NWFP for ‘proper implementation’ of prayer timings. He prayed the Almighty destroy the United States of America and Israel, which he said wanted to defame Islam and ruin Muslims.

Sending Pakistani troops to Iraq was strongly opposed by Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a Barelvi scholar, in his Friday sermon at Jamia Naeemia. He said, “Any Pakistani soldier who dies fighting in Iraq will not be a martyr (Shaheed) but deemed to have died an infidel’s death.”

Khateeb of the state-run Data Darbar Mosque Allama Maqsood Ahmad focused on Islamic teachings in his Friday sermon and urged Muslims to be peaceful.

Hafiz Abdullah, a senior teacher of Sheikh Zayed Islamic University and an Ahle Hadith scholar, delivered the Friday sermon at Punjab University’s main mosque. For the last few weeks he had started a series of sermons on the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) as a role model for humanity. He continued his topic on Friday, July 30. Most of his sermon was related to the teachings of Islam and Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Allama Hafiz Tassaduq Hussain, who is not the official Khateeb at the biggest Shia mosque in Lahore, Jamia Sahibuz Zaman Krishan Nagar but often delivers sermons there before Friday prayers, criticised the slaying of two Pakistani hostages by Islamic militants in Iraq.

He quoted Quranic verses and said people who killed Muslims and innocent people from other sects and religions were not Muslims themselves and were responsible for distorting “the most peaceful religion of the world”. He demanded that the US withdraw its forces from Iraq and transfer power to the true representatives of Iraqi people.

Hafiz Zafarullah Shafique, an Ahle Hadith orator, delivered a sermon at Khalid Masjid in Cavalry Grounds and urged Muslims to unite against “evil forces”. He criticised the killing of two Pakistani hostages in Iraq and said it was alarming that Muslims were beheading Muslims. Pakistan was not against the Iraqis and they should not kill Pakistanis, he suggested.

He diplomatically said, “The government is indicating its willingness to send its forces to Iraq but it must build consensus before taking any decisions against public sentiment.

Earlier, he delivered his sermon on “eternal life and judgment day’ in the light of the Quran and Sunnah.

Maulana Abdul Razzaq, one of the founding members Tehreek-e-Khilafat, led the Friday congregation at Lawrence Gardens. Usually Doctor Israr Ahmad gives a Friday sermon here but he was away and Maulana Razzaq filled in for him.

Doctor Israr and Maulana Razzaq belong to the Deobandi school of thought. Maulana elucidated Islamic rules, the importance of the Holy Quran in everyday life and Judgment Day, during his sermon. The Jamia Mosque at the Jamaat-e-Islami’s headquarters Mansoora, is a place where orators usually criticize government policies in their Friday sermons.

Naib Ameer of the JI, Hafiz Idrees, delivered Friday’s sermon on July 30 and strongly criticized the government for its intention to send troops to Iraq and for the execution of two Pakistanis.

He also blamed the execution in Iraq on bad Pakistani diplomacy and reiterated that the JI would continue moral support to Iraq. “Had Pakistan’s ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi been killed by Iraqi militants it would not have been sad news for Pakistanis but the execution of two innocent Pakistanis is bad news,” said the JI leader.

He said if Pakistan sent its troops to Iraq under American pressure, no Pakistani would feel sorry for Pakistani soldiers killed by militants in Iraq. He appreciated the Philippine’s decision to withdrawing from Iraq to save the life of a Filipino abducted in Iraq.

He said that about 600 Pakistanis were in Iraq and the government of Pakistan should ensure they return safely to Pakistan. He also urged the government to announce that Pakistani troops would not be sent to Iraq.