Sultan Masjid Imam: ‘Issuing fatwas is a mufti’s job and I am not one’

Published: January 11, 2011
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Sultan Masjid’s imam insists allegations are baseless.

Sultan Masjid’s imam insists allegations are baseless.

KARACHI: As worshippers left Sultan Masjid after Asr prayers, Imam Munir Ahmed Shakir fielded  phone calls from members of his congregation who have heard about Shakir being named in an application for inciting violence and provoking hatred against MNA Sherry Rehman.

Shakir denied all the allegations that were listed in a complaint filed by journalist Ali Kamran Chishti, Shaan Taseer and Rehman at the Darakshan police station on Sunday. “There are two sermons that I gave — one last Friday and one on the Friday before that,” he told The Express Tribune, sitting on a prayer mat bearing the emblem of Saudi Arabia. “In the first sermon I said that if someone blasphemes against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), whether it is a leader or not, that person is liable to be punished according to the law of the country. I said that if Sherry Rehman has given an application to amend or remove the blasphemy law, then she should not do so because this is something that needs to be taken up by the courts. At last Friday’s sermon I said that given the conditions in the country, people should not try to take the law into their own hands.”

“I did not declare Sherry Rehman a non-Muslim nor did I sanction her murder [call her ‘wajibul qatl’]. Issuing fatwas is the job of a mufti and I am not a mufti. I also heard Rehman’s interview on TV in which she said that she cannot even think of committing blasphemy. These are false allegations against me and they [applicants] have no proof of this. One cannot make these statements without any proof.”

“I was visited by the Darakshan police and an intelligence officer, Shahid, as well as Mohammad Ashiq from the special branch. I told the gentlemen that you monitor these sermons, if you believe I have violated the law then I will hand myself over. They told me that Sherry Rehman has withdrawn her bill proposing amendments in the blasphemy law.”

He also denied that he mentioned former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s self-confessed killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, during the sermon. “He is associated with the Barelvis and we are Deobandis. We had nothing to do with Taseer and he is now dead.” Shakir belongs to the Fazlur Rehman faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.

According to Shakir, “The expenditure of the Sultan Masjid is borne by the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz alSaud, and the government of Saudi Arabia.” Calls to the Saudi consulate in Karachi went unanswered and the Islamabad embassy’s media section had not responded to a query by the time of the filing of this report.

Shakir’s sermons have caught the eye of the government before. During Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure, he once criticised her during a sermon. “She had said the punishments – hand for a hand, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth – were cruel. I said that anyone who termed these punishments, which are in the Quran, cruel, would meet their end soon. Nabeel Gabol, who was then deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly, was present. He got up and said, ‘What are you saying against mohtarma?’ The police took me away but they realised my standing here and the respect the congregation has. They told me to be a little softer in my words.”

The imam also denied reports that hate literature was ever circulated outside the mosque. “This is a peaceful mosque. This has never happened. So many prominent people come here.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Shahid
    Jan 11, 2011 - 12:46PM

    Come on, say it again! The bigots will be defeated!Recommend

  • Danish
    Jan 11, 2011 - 12:48PM

    It’s his word against the reporter’s. There’s no solid proof whether he actually said it or not. Can he be punished for this crime which he has been accused of? Did he really incite murder? Nobody knows. Should he be given the benefit of doubt??
    Just as he deserves a chance to prove his innocence, so does every other citizen of Pakistan. Sadly, this is not the case, and people lose their lives because they are accused and ‘believed’ to be guilty of a crime they did not necesarily commit.Recommend

  • Umayr Masud
    Jan 11, 2011 - 1:06PM

    Why do they never own up to the things they say.. If they believe they are speaking Gods will then please at least stand by your words.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Hyder
    Jan 11, 2011 - 1:30PM

    So his defence is that he didn’t actually issue a fatwa, he only made veiled threats and incited others to murder? Seriously?

    And why in the world is a prayer leader – and that too one funded by a foreign ruler – making veiled threats anyway?Recommend

  • Arifq
    Jan 11, 2011 - 1:35PM

    One visit from agencies and he changes his view, such great valor. Recommend

  • Random
    Jan 11, 2011 - 1:51PM

    Peaceful Deobandi mosque. Is there such a thing?Recommend

  • Anon.
    Jan 11, 2011 - 2:16PM

    This man is dangerous. He is the reason why I avoid the Sultan Masjid even though it is closer to my house than the one which I regularly frequent.Recommend

  • Shahryar+Ahmed
    Jan 11, 2011 - 2:27PM

    I have personally many times heard him say senseless thing in his Fridy sermons. This should end right here. We all should stand up against those who spread hatred.Recommend

  • hopeless
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:33PM

    He has not even got the courage to standup to what he has been saying in his sermons. Brave isn’t he??Recommend

  • Azaadi
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:49PM

    This Imam needs to be told that as a member of Parliament, Sherry Rehman has the legal right to file an ammendment to the blasphemy law. It is the Parliament that makes the law of Pakistan and not the court. And the Imam also needs to be told HE is the one who has no business talking about who can or cannot change laws, he has no jurisdiction in this matter.

    The Saudi Prince needs to answer for this and not fund people who are saying such things. Most likely the Iman did say all that but citizens rising up scared him.

    Good job. More such people need to told what their limits are.Recommend

  • equaliser
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:50PM

    I always avoid going to Sultan Masjid as instead of having a peaceful religious experience on a Friday afternoon: on more than one occasion I have felt the need to get up and slap this man into his senses that is if he has any. Further more for some obscure reason VIP’s with land cruisers and gun toting guards & 4Wheel Drive vehicles with various “middle eastern” number plates feel they can park right in the middle of the road or in front of the main entrance. It’s one very odd scenario. This mosque should be removed from this intersection for creating a constant traffic jam & many accidents. I don’t understand why people running late for prayers feel they can park their cars in front of your front gate or in the middle of the road. Is this what Islam has taught them… to inconvenience other people so they can go and fulfill their obligation to pray! I don’t think so… Recommend

  • Kamran Haider
    Jan 11, 2011 - 5:40PM

    this is the statement of i have already given in Sherry Rehman News Section.

    few of my brothers here seems to be paid to just keep on writing against the mullas, brothers please understand that this is not the point what you think about mulla people but the point is what do u think about Islam.

    how many of you ready to start hifzul quran to take the charge of the member. how many of you know how to read namaz-e-janazah of baby girl. my dear readers this is the product of your own home why don’t you people make your own masjid from where you will deliver something very interesting and islam full.

    this is my sincere advice that if any one of you has the smalles level of modesty in you then do not take your parents or relatives janazah to any masjid since the all are cheaters earning harams and not up to your western standards. I further request you to please read all the nikahs and janazas at your home or make your own school of thought where every one like you will read nikah, deliver good cermon, and lead namaz of each other.

    Getup you all are muslims and this the time to learn your deen and take the charge as a good realistic mulla.

    Jazak Allaho KhairanRecommend

  • Beatle
    Jan 11, 2011 - 5:52PM

    This is the real face of Mullah. Coward. Court has not even initiated the proceedings, and he has backed down. Hshshshshsh.Recommend

  • Sarfraz Hussain Naqvi
    Jan 11, 2011 - 6:01PM

    Kamran Haider has a point. All those who claim to be literate MUST come forward and let the people know that they (too) know and understand the Way Of Life desired for them by Almighty Allah. It is the educated lot that will face due punishment for NOT taking the lead in propagating religion as taught by the Messenger of Allah Almighty.
    The educated ones have to come forward to lead the masses in ALL walks of life including educating the folk to live as desired by Almighty Allah.Recommend

  • Schazad
    Jan 11, 2011 - 6:37PM

    @ Kamran haider, they are only good for janazas and nikahs. So we would like to keep them to these chores only. They have no civility and no ethics of their own so what would they teach others. Better leave important things in life regarding religion to someone who knows it better. (read scholar). Sermons from mullahs, oh please nooooooooooooo

    The guy is a liar. I can’t think of everyone in these comments to lie at the same time. May God show him the right path and shut his mouth for inciting hatred among fellow Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Jan 11, 2011 - 9:51PM

    One thing is for sure: He is a hardliner mulana but our agencies including ISI and FIA cannot touch him because King of Saudi Arab pays for this masjid and its imam. Your govt. cannot touch these holy cows from Saudi arabia. Recommend

  • sohaib
    Jan 11, 2011 - 10:14PM

    once you leave religion to others this is what happens. I advise everyone contributing here to make a little effort and understand the religion yourself instead of handing it over to ‘scholars’. There is no cruelty in islam only justice. We the english speaking class might consider those who propagate religion as intolerant but we, as insignificant as we are, are the most intolerant of the lot. We want everyone to subscribe to our definition of what tolerance is.
    We can tolerate thieves and robbers to be leaders of our country but we cant tolerate if anyone says anything in favor of Islam. The international discourse on Islam is that of equating it with intolerance and backwardness. And since most of us english speaking lot is receptive and swayed by what happens in the west, we mindlessly follow their tunes and dance on it as a matter of fact. If we use a little brain we have, which has already been diminished by our slavery of foreign ideas and their ideology, we will realize that what we see as intolerance and extremism is the offshoot of our desire to impose our will, diktat and ideology on the majority which does not accept this at all. Isn’t this extremism my friends? Recommend

  • Yusuf
    Jan 11, 2011 - 10:36PM

    Does a parliamentarian’s “right” take precedence over The Creator’s right to give laws?Recommend

  • coolhead
    Jan 11, 2011 - 11:26PM

    well after the salman taseer incident its quite thought provoking for me that what islam actually is?i will not critize mullas here. Is it a religion of tolerence or is eye for an eye? I need to go through books of hadis. And like me others shud do so, we need to clear our concept ands others also who cant read and understand deen..
    We must not critize any one as we dont know how close that person is to Allah. So lets just leave everything To the Almighty, hes great and all knower.Recommend

  • watchman
    Jan 12, 2011 - 12:53AM

    @haider we pray one day we get the honor to conduct the funeral ceremony its a honor ….dont think who speaks against mullahs dont know about islam or the rituals. islam demands to be a good human to ur fellow beings. do these ignorant mullahs have anything gud in them to give the society…….their sermons are full of hatreds which results in clash and divide of all muslims.. we want educated leaders for our society who know about the basics of health, economy ,education and science…..ones that impove the society not deteriorate it….Recommend

  • aaa
    Jan 12, 2011 - 2:45AM

    @Sohaib
    What makes you think that these so-called custodians of Islam are scholars? Do you know that Pakistanis have since the 1950s and the early 1970s hardly published any significant works on Islam (especially critically-edited texts in Arabic). There are literally thousands of important Islamic texts still in manuscript lying in Pakistani libraries which have yet to be edited and published. Most religious books here are reprints of 19th/early 20th century editions and the few recent Pakistani works I have seen are woefully full of typographical and other errors. Even in India, the Dairat al-Maarif al-Osmaniyah is still active publishing rare and important works on Islamic culture.
    Simply growing a beard and going through the Dars-e Nizami does not make you a scholar. Instead of seeking foreign patronage by fomenting sectarian strife, organizing demonstrations, getting involved in politics, buying property and roaming around in 4x4s they should perhaps spend more time in their libraries. But then, aren’t we just “too cool for school”?Recommend

  • Junaid Ali Khan
    Jan 12, 2011 - 3:18AM

    Such hypocrite mullahs are to be properly tackled with and taught lessons such that their generations and followers remember eternally Recommend

  • Reflect
    Jan 12, 2011 - 4:04AM

    @Kamran Haider: I, for one, appreciate your honest advice. The continuous and rather useless rants against the ‘Mullahs’ and ‘Molvis’ need to step down a gear. It’s as if the English newspapers and blogs are some sort of Mullah bashing avenues where people feel safe venting out their frustration, in every negative way possible. The problem is that this attitude is not going to get anyone anywhere. Recommend

  • Radial
    Jan 12, 2011 - 9:23AM

    mullahs do not give anyone else the benefit of the doubt and are ready to murder and cause mayhem at the drop of a hat. Give them a taste of their own medicine. Ataturk is needed in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ben
    Jan 12, 2011 - 1:21PM

    Historical evidence suggests that the societies which lag behind in development, due mainly to wide-spread ignorance, are more susceptible to be attracted to self-appointed agents of divity. These agents dictate illiterate minds and create an atmosphere of cheap passions in order to thrive on it. The same thing is happening these days on the issue of blasphemy. The offense of blasphemy is punishable under the law but the justice requires that before condemning anybody to the sentence of death, the requirement of due process of law should be fulfilled. However, those who have their own axe to grind do not let the law take its course. and announce the conviction and the punishment making it impossible for the courts to discharge their function. They glorify the criminal acts in the name of the faith in the same way the extremists try to justfy their acts of mass murder of the hapless civilians. Read more at: link textRecommend

  • Jan 12, 2011 - 3:35PM

    This issue should not be further propagated since the Imam himself has denied to what has been associated with him. In Imam’s case he should also play safe and avoid taking names of anyone including political leaders, keep his sermons generalized and non political. (although he’s associated with JUI (F). Recommend

  • Ghani Shah
    Jan 12, 2011 - 4:34PM

    I agree with Mr. Tanzeel, all ulemas and Muftis should mind their own business and stop poking nose in political issues. On should stick to its job…Recommend

  • Anonymouse
    Jan 13, 2011 - 12:47AM

    Even though the argument against this imam may be perfectly legit..the fact that it has lead to a campaign of mullah bashing by the liberals will put them in serious risk. Not very wise of the liberals to sabotage their own cause. I give them two years at most…much less if they do more stuff like this. Recommend

  • Jan 13, 2011 - 5:40AM

    I am sure there must be some hadith saying that mullahs getting themselves involved in lying and mischief (which is what pakistani politics is) place themselves out of the fold of Islam?Recommend

  • Shahryar+Ahmed
    Jan 13, 2011 - 10:16AM

    Please the current Blasphemy law in Pakistan is not the law of the creator, this law was amended during Zia’s time, please go & read the law before these amendments. Qaran has mentioned about blasphemy in 3 surats, & it is not written anywhere in these surats about death.

    Allah Tala mentions (in layman terms) “that whoever will do this act, he would be answerable to me & only me”.

    So, please go read the translation of Quran & see for yourself what the Almighty say’s using Hazoor (SAW) as his medium. For us our Last Prophet is extremely important, it is only through him that we have our faith. So no one can deny his importance, but I ask you this. In his lifetime did he show this cruelty, killing a human being over calling him names, he forgave his most staunchest of enemies, then why are we killing people over his name.

    Shame on ourselves!!!!! We should shun people who incite others, like the person mentioned above. This i can say as I have heard it myself, this mullah talking rubish.Recommend

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