The Ahle Hadith have always exercised great influence in the big
cities of Pakistan. They campaign against the non-Islamic accretions
of custom and call themselves non- 'imitative'. Only 6 percent of the
seminaries belong to them but the recent increase in them has been
phenomenal. They are divided into many factions, some of them keeping
away from politics to concentrate on preaching, while Markazi Jamiat
Ahle Hadith has stayed loyal to the Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif.
According to a report by Islamabad's Institute of Policy Studies, Pakistan has 6,761 religious seminaries where over a million young men are taking religious training. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has given out similar numbers in its report. But Herald (November 2001) says: 'According to the Interior Ministry, there are some 20,000 madrasas in the country with nearly 3 million students'. In 1947, West Pakistan had only 245 seminaries. In 1988, they increased to 2,861. Between 1988 and 2000, this increase comes out to be 136 percent. The largest number of seminaries are Deobandi, at 64 percent, followed by Barelvi, at 25 percent. Only 6 percent are Ahle Hadith. But the increase in the number of Ahle Hadith seminaries or madrasas has been phenomenal, at 131 percent, going up from 134 in 1988 to 310 in 2000. Out of the total number of youth taking religious training in the seminaries, 15 percent are foreigners. Among the Ahle Hadith, there are 17 organisations active in Pakistan, looking after their own seminaries. Out of them, six actually take part in politics, three take part in jehad, and three are busy spreading their mazhab or school of thought. They are all puritans who do not follow the state fiqh and are also called wahhabi. Most of them follow the lead of the ulema of Saudi Arabia and receive assistance from rich Saudi citizens.
The Great Ahle Hadith tradition: There are 17 Ahle Hadith organisations in Pakistan, out of whom six take part in politics and three take part in jehad. Differences of ritual exist among them, as also differences of strategy. At times these differences become very intense and give rise to mutual vilification, as in the case of Markazi Ahle Hadith of Allama Sajid Mir and the former Lashkar-e-Tayba (Now Jamaat al-Dawa) of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Jamaat Ghuraba Ahle Hadith holds that its supporters should quietly reject the political system till the majority of the population becomes Ahle Hadith, after which Pakistan will automatically become Islamic. Jamaat al-Mujahideen thinks that the political system is batil (false) and as long as a caliphate does not come into being, it will not take part in politics but will struggle to establish an Islamic government. Hafiz Saeed's organisation holds the same position.
There is a central executive committee (Majlis-e-Amal) which seeks to guide the Ahle Hadith establishment in Pakistan. Under it, the following parties occasionally meet to decide plan of action: (1). Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith (Prof Sajid Mir); (2). Jamiat Ghuraba Ahle Hadith (Maulana Muhammad Idrees Hashmi); (3) Jamaat al-Dawa (Hafiz Abdus Salam Bhatvi); (4) Jamaat al-Mujahideen (Dr Muhammad Raashid Randhava); (5) Mutahidda Jamiat Ahle Hadith (Maulana Ziaullah Shah Bokhari); (6) Jamaat Ahle Hadith (Maulana Muhammad Hussain Sheikhupuri); (7). Tehreek al-Mujahideen (Commander Owais Sajjad); (8). Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran Afghanistan (al-Sheikh Samiullah). The Majlis-e-Amal has met only three times but one agreed resolution it adopted was published in the Ahle Hadith monthly journal Sahifa Ahle Hadith (Karachi) in January 2000: 'We believe that General Musharraf does not represent Islam or Pakistan but America and its allies. We condemn General Musharraf's decision and demand that he should not sow the seeds of hatred between the people and the army simply to extend his personal rule. He should stop giving statements against mujahideen Muslims because America and its allies listen only to the language of violence and will not negotiate till the Muslim umma decides to break America into pieces through guerrilla war, as it did in the case of Russia'.
Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith: Markazi Ahle Hadith is the best known party apart from Jamaat al-Dawa formerly known as Dawatul Irshad with its jehadi wing, Lashkar-e-Tayba. The Jamiat traces it origins to a congregation in Bihar (India) in 1906. After 1947, its two centres in Lahore and Mamun Kanjan near Faisalabad kept alive the Ahle Hadith tradition. It made its first show of strength in Lahore in 1986 under the political activism of its leader, Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer. A graduate from Saudi Arabia, his links with the Saudi religious hierarchy and funds made him an important personality within the Jamiat. Before he was assassinated (perhaps owing to some sectarian tracts he wrote) he had transformed the Jamiat into a political party aligned with the Pakistan Muslim League. In its manifesto, the party explained the Nazriya Pakistan (Pakistan Ideology) thus: we believe in the two-nation theory as the basis of Pakistan; and we believe in the supremacy of the Quran and the Sunna in Pakistan. Other resolutions conform the 'non-imitative' opposition to the established fiqh, in this case Fiqh Hanafiya. The Jamiat also took the decision to declare the rule of a woman as being against Islam. This caused its opponents to label the Jamiat as a B-Team of the Pakistan Muslim League. Mian Nawaz Sharif confessed that the Jamiat had served the PML better than Jamaat Islami.
Very little has appeared in the press about the politics of Hafiz Saeed's Lashkar-e-Tayba and its mother organisation, Dawatul Irshad, because of the close coordination it enjoyed with its 'handlers'. Hafiz Saeed in his early heady days took on Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith (with whom he shared his wahhabi creed) and criticised their inertia with regard to jehad. This objectionto the Jamiat is shared by Jamaat Ahle Hadith of Maulana Sheikhupuri too. The Jamiat hit back and discussed in detail some aspects of Lashkar-e-Tayba that no one in Pakistan dared discuss for fear of the state. One 1993 cassette, containing the khutba-e-juma in Faisalabad of Qari Abdul Hafeez of the Jamiat, levelled the following charges: that despite the fact that the leaders of Lashkar-e-Tayba held that a boy going for jehad did not need the permission of his parents, their own sons did not go to jehad because 'their mothers did not give permission'; that the Abu Jandal Group of the Lashkar looted banks in Pakistan in the (wrongly attributed) tradition of a Companion of the Prophet (PBUH) who used to loot caravans to strengthen Islam; that members of Lashkar abducted Barelvi girls and kept them as slaves, claiming that Hafiz Saeed had allowed the custom of keeping slave girls; and that colossal sums of money gathered in the name of jehad were pocketed by the leaders of Lashkar.
Youth Force and Tehreekul Mujahideen: The greatest asset of Jamiat Ahle Hadith is its central Wifaq al-Madaris which looks after the wahhabi seminaries all over Pakistan. The Jamiat has offices in all provinces but its more important support is gathered around its branches in Faisalabad, Lahore, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khanpur, Jhelum, Rahimyar Khan and Islamabad. It has eight subsidiary organisations, among which Ahle Hadith Youth Force is quite important. Because of its ability to mobilise and act, it is often called the 'spine' of the Jamiat. Led by Hafiz Shahid Amin, it takes part in overtly sectarian disputes, often against the Barelvi and Shia (but not Deobandi) organisations in such cities as Dera Ghazi Khan where the Shia community is strong. The Youth Force has fought legal and armed battles with the Shias there, fully supporting the Sipah Sahaba demand that Shias be declared non-Muslim. It also fights the Barelvi acts of shirk against the Holy Prophet PBUH and takes over mosques where such transgressions are committed. The next important subsidiary is Tehreek al-Mujahideen which is a fighting outfit headed by Sheikh Jameelur Rehman who heads also Pakistan's Muttahida Jehad Council, the apex body of all militias fighting in the jehad. Tehreek al-Mujahideen was born in Indian-Held Kashmir in 1989, but after it started sending its fighters for training to Afghanistan, it first aligned itself with Jamaat Ahle Hadith then 2000 onwards became linked to Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith. It trains near Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir and has resisted efforts for merger with Lashkar-e-Tayba.
Tehreek al-Mujahideen is funded by Haramain Islamic Foundation which funnels money from Saudi Arabia. (The contact with Saudi Arabia was established after the Ahle Hadith of Pakistan started a movement of protection of Mecca and Madina after the Shia tried to hold meetings at Kaaba). In 1985, Imam Kaaba and a representative professor of Madina University became members of the Foundation. Mansur bin Abdul Rehman al-Qazi of Haramain Islamic Foundation declared in the Tehreek journal Shahadat in July 2000 that he was satisfied by the Tehreek's spreading of the salafi faith in Indian-Held Kashmir. It is also supported by the Pakistani masses through the Tehreek offices in all the districts of the country. Tehreek al-Mujahideen claims that 500 of its warriors died in the jehad in Kashmir after killing 3000 Indian soldiers and officers. Among the Pakistanis killed, 215 were from Punjab, 49 from Sindh, 45 from Azad Kashmir and 19 from the NWFP. In all, 70 Muslims of Indian-Held Kashmir also achieved martyrdom. The Tehreek received a setback when in 1999 its commander Abu Waseem Salafi was martyred by Indians. In February 2001, another shock came when its leader Maulana Abdullah Ghazali was captured by the Indians. The wahhabi-salafi warriors of Tehreek al-Mujahideen have made efforts to spread their faith in Indian-Held Kashmir, converting many Barelvi mosques in Poonch and Kupwara into Ahle Hadith mosques.
Jamaat al-Mujahideen Ahle Hadith: By rights Jamaat al-Mujahideen should have been the 'mother' organisation of Ahle Hadith because it traces its origin in the mujahideen of Syed Ahmad Shaheed (d. 1831 AD) immortalised in two books by Maulana Ghulam Rasul Meher. Fighting against the British, the Jamaat established its secret headquarters in Bajaur. In 1948, it mobilised in the Kashmir jehad. Led by Ghazi Abdul Karim Khan, it today holds that democracy be replaced with the Islamic system of shoora, that jehad be institutionalised on a permanent basis within the state structure, and that bidaa (popular accretions) be removed from Muslim rituals. In 1979, Jamaat al-Mujahideen joined up with Deobandi Maulavi Yunus Khalis of Jalalabad and took part in the Afghan war in all the major battles. More importantly, Jamaat al-Mujahideen became the 'mother' organisation for all the Ahle Hadith warriors willing to take part in the Afghan jehad. All the members of the Ahle Hadith organisations, including the leadership of what later came to be known as Lashkar-e-Tayba, first went into Afghanistan under the aegis of Jamaat al-Mujahideen.
Jamaat al-Mujahideen Ahle Hadith has some basic differences with Markazi Ahle Hadith, one being that it was not askari (militant) and that it had succumbed to politics and had started defending the democratic system in Pakistan. Other differences centre on the ownership of certain seminaries. Markazi Jamiat removed the first objection by absorbing Tehreek al-Mujahideen and entering the list of jehadi organisations. Another Ahle Hadith organisation Jamaat Ghuraba Ahle Hadith is known for its tough puritanism and focuses on the building up of the madrasa system and stiffening the generally lax faith of the Muslims. Its Jamia Muawiya in Lahore is well known. Another Lahore seminary at Chowk Dalgran, Jamiya Ahle Hadith, is run for Jamaat Ahle Hadith by Hafiz Abdul Ghaffar Ropari. In a famous case of 'love marriage' the chief justice of the Lahore High Court was swayed by the non-Hanafi concept of the wali. Many judges continue to recommend the concept of wali,as against the freedom of a girl to marry by her own choice, because of the growing influence of the Ahle Hadith puritanism. On 20 May 2002, Jamaat Ahle Hadith, is a session presided over by its leader Maulana Sheikhupuri, and assisted by Maulana Abdul Ghaffar Ropari and Maulana Javed Ropari, warned the Musharraf government to stop secularising Pakistan, begin the enforcement of Islamic law, separate non-Muslims in the voters' list, and release Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Jamaat al-Dawa (formerly Lashkar-e-Tayba).
WHILE THE Western World worries about Islam, the specter of Hindu
nationalism carries the potential of threatening the stability of the
Indian subcontinent and the world beyond. A bit of bad news out of
New Delhi earlier this month was that the hard-line, Pakistan-bashing
home minister, Lal Krishna Advani, had been named the number two man
in the Indian government and a potential successor to the ailing and
aging Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Whereas Vajpayee was the human face of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which has led a coalition government for four years, Advani is more in tune with the party's base of radical nationalists who seek to undermine the secular India of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. In addition, Advani's policy towards Pakistan is larded with nuclear threats and bellicosity.
With tensions between the two nuclear powers still high, any increase in Advani's influence is a blow to compromise with Pakistan over Kashmir and to India's time-honored secular political institutions.
Many Indians believed that the BJP's secular allies in the ruling coalition would not accept such a hardliner as Advani as Vajpayee's heir, but they have been proved wrong. And while it seemed that Vajpayee was willing to downplay ''Hindutva,'' a concept of exclusive Hindu identity dear to the party's heart, Advani can be expected to emphasize it.
Like their Muslim extremist counterparts, Hindu nationalists seek to expel Western secularism from their midst, persecuting non-Hindus, trashing hotels that celebrate Valentine's Day or Christmas, and demanding that cities with Islamic names, such as Allahabad, be changed. Other religions - and there are more Muslims in India than there are in Pakistan - are considered offshoots of a basic Hindu entity that should submit to Hindutva. Hindu nationalists rant that Hindi should be the national language, even though millions of Indians speak other native languages.
The crowning moment of Advani's brand of Hindutva came exactly 10 years ago when an ancient mosque believed to have been built on a Hindu site was torn down by a howling Hindu mob egged on by BJP leaders including Advani. Militants shouting ''Hindustan is for the Hindus'' and ''Death to Muslims'' rioted, and more than 1,000 people were slaughtered, most of them Muslims.
The recent rioting in Gujarat, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed while the police looked on, came as result of the controversy surrounding the Hindu nationalist demand that a Hindu temple be built where the mosque stood. In a country riven with communal violence, Advani is unusually provocative.
Most disturbing is Advani's advocacy of nuclear threat. He once said that India's nuclear bomb would ensure that India would triumph in Kashmir. India's much bigger conventional army could have prevailed in any war with Pakistan, but ironically, India's bomb brought forth a Pakistani bomb, and now India's numerical advantage in conventional weapons and troops counts for less.
Indians have said that their nuclear bomb was as necessary to counterbalance China as Pakistan, but to men like Advani having a nuclear bomb is part of Hindutva and the greater glory of Indian culture and destiny that lost out to the West during colonialism. The feeling of grievance and greatness deprived is as much a part of militant Hindu culture as it is among Islamists.
When India brought forth its bomb to become a nuclear power, Hindu nationalists talked of it as a Hindu bomb, and they spoke of building a Hindu temple on the desert test site. Many quoted the lines from the Hindu epic, the Bhagavad Gita, that Robert Oppenheimer uttered in Alamogordo at the dawn of the atomic age: ''I have become Death/ The destroyer of worlds.''
India will not be a safer or a more secular place if Advani comes to rule.
H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.
PTI [ WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2002 9:36:14 AM ]
WASHINGTON: Reaffirming its desire to have good relationship with both India and Pakistan, the United States has said it is "anxious" to get through the current crisis and see a dialogue begin between the two South Asian neighbours on the Kashmir issue.
"It is a very difficult issue. And what we are trying to do now is to make sure that both the Indians and the Pakistanis understand that the United States is interested in them beyond this crisis. We want a good relationship with India on every aspect of that relationship, economic, trade cooperation, military cooperation. The same thing with Pakistan," US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday.
"We are anxious to get through this crisis and see a dialogue begin between the two sides so that we can start to move forward to help find a solution to the problem in Kashmir ultimately," Powell, who is expected to visit India and Pakistan towards the end of this month, said testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He said the US has worked "very hard" to keep the Indo-Pak tension from "blowing up or boiling over on us. And I spend an enormous amount of time on the telephone with the two sides, spoke to President Pervez Musharraf again on Monday, spoke to the new Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday."
The Committee hearing was called to discuss the agreement between the US and Russia to reduce the number of strategic weapons but there is no real bar to raising other issues.
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