KARACHI: Six scholars have promised to bring a revolution in the country - one drug addict at a time.
Muslim leaders say addiction can be cured at the mosque and madrassah through faith-based programmes. Gathered at the first-ever Islamic scholars conference against drug abuse organised by the Drug Free Pakistan Foundation, New Horizons and the US consulate, leaders agreed that drug prevention and rehabilitation were both the responsibility of the religious community.
The conference is the brainchild of the president of the Drug Free Pakistan Foundation, Muhammad Naveed Younus, who says, “In Karachi there are more places to buy drugs than mithai!” Younus is also the founder of New Horizons, a non-profit drug rehabilitation group that has two outreach centres in the city. Faith plays an important role in the programme with imams present for religious training and patients are urged to pray five times a day. The programme comes as an alternative to clean needleexchange and condom distribution programmes
. Younus has patients sign a contract when they enter the New Horizons programme which allows his team to forcefully re-engage them at centres. He likens his programme to ‘jihad’, saying that he is fighting a social evil and now he has approached the religious community for support. “All my efforts so far may not be worth what these scholars will be able to achieve,” he says.
“Intervention is the role of the community.” Leaders have risen to the occasion. Six prominent religious leaders from different sects spoke at the conference, pledging to cooperate for a drug-free Pakistan. Allama Zohair Abidi agreed that faithbased solutions are essential, as drug addicts are often disoriented and in need of spiritual guidance. The conference was held at the residence of US Consul General Stephen Fakan, who said, “Drug addiction is a global sickness and we must together find a global cure.”
Younus expressed regret that no one from the government had supported the initiative. He said the absence of the Anti- Narcotics Force whom he has been working with is a show of their lack of cooperation. “Terrorism is not the biggest issue of the country, but narcotics.” he said. “Drugs fund terrorism.” The chairman of the Tehreeke- Ahle Hadith, Muhammad Abdullah Gazi, said “While we preach to fill our mosques this is a subject that needs to be covered in our Friday sermons and daily teachings.”
He said that Islam is a religion of kindness and would not abandon addicts who were fighting between life and death. “Zakaat, a basic pillar of Islam works against social discrimination,” he says “Zakaat can be used to pay for dispensaries, rehabilitation centres, hospitals and awareness programmes.” Dr Abdul Rasheed, the chairman of the Islamic Studies department at University of Karachi, pointed out that the problem was not an Islamic one as it affected people from all faiths and denominations.
He encouraged leaders to come up with solutions that would create awareness on all educational levels. Maulana Qari Sher Afzal of the Madrassah Alahi said it was important to send out a clear, resounding message from the pulpit, “Drugs are haraam!”