Curtailing ‘immodesty’: Ex-lawmaker ‘decrees’ against female education

Published: May 6, 2012
Says education leads to immodesty; rails against female NGO workers.

Says education leads to immodesty; rails against female NGO workers.


A former lawmaker and cleric from Kohistan district, Maulana Abdul Haleem, termed formal education for women un-Islamic and asked parents to pluck their daughters from school, or else they would be ‘doomed’.

The nonagenarian, who was elected to the National Assembly from Kohistan on the now-defunct Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s ticket in 2002, also railed against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region in his Friday sermon, calling them ‘hubs of immodesty’.

Nestled in the Himalayas, the Kohistan district is picturesque, but also one of the least-literate and least developed in the country.

Fiery sermon

Maulana Haleem, who was an office-bearer of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl until recently, was delivering a Friday sermon, at Jamia Masjid Komila, on who is dayoos, or those liable to be condemned to hell.

“It’s beghairti (immodesty) to equip girls with secular education,” the cleric said, adding that those Kohistani parents who were sending their girls to schools were acting against ‘Islamic shariah’ and the local customs.

“The Kohistani culture does not allow parents to send their pardadar (modest) girls to schools,” the former lawmaker said.

He did not spare female NGO workers either.

“Some women from these NGOs visit our houses frequently, mobilising naïve Kohistani women to follow their agenda in the name of health and hygiene education,” he said, adding that this was ‘unacceptable to Kohistani culture’. He threatened them with ‘dire consequences’, saying that married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men.

During his stint as a parliamentarian, Maulana Haleem had also declared poppy cultivation in Kohistan ‘in accordance with Islam’.

Keeping women at home

When approached for comments, the cleric stood by the contents of his sermon, and insisted that several Hadith books prohibit girls from receiving degrees and certificates in ‘secular education’.

He did not actually quote any reference though. Asked to explain how parents would be doomed for their daughters’ education, the cleric said that formal education paves the way for girls to enter the job market. “When they permit their women to work, they give them a free hand to mix with na-mehrum (men they are not related to by blood) – by doing so, the girl’s father, brother or husband become dayoos in the eye of the shariah,” he said.

Such people will never enter Paradise, he added.

The only responsibility men owe to women is their sustenance, and not education, he said. In return, the women should stay at home and look after their children and family members, he added.

Asked if Islamic states like Saudi Arabia and Iran were violating shariah by spending billions on women’s education, Maulana Haleem termed their steps un-Islamic.

If the government is serious about bringing development to Kohistan, it should utilise NGOs’ funding itself with the help of local men.

Men working for these NGOs can continue their work though, he said, saying that is not against the shariah and local culture.

He claimed that 97% of girls schools in Kohistan were closed and the few girls that were enrolled, only visited their schools to collect cooking oil which the education department was distributing with the support of foreign donors.

Standing up for women

Assistant District Officer Education Kohistan Saiful Malook Khan refuted Haleem’s claim. There are 255 primary, 13 middle-level, and one high school for girls in the district, Khan said.

While the number is not large, over 12,000 girls are enrolled in primary schools and are regularly attending their classes, he said.

Several girls from Maulana Haleem’s hometown are attending school while some women from the Maulana’s family are also working as teachers in the district, he added. The area’s current elected representative, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Abdul Sattar Khan assured full support to female students and teachers in Kohistan.

If the region is to progress, Kohistani girls should study at least up to the matric level, he said. Omar Hayat, a social activist in Hazara, also condemned Maulana Haleem’s statement barring female NGO workers from working.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (60)

  • I
    May 6, 2012 - 9:34AM

    Maulana is contradicting Prophet PBUH (who termed, getting education as an obligation for every male and female).
    It’s time for maulana to go back to school himself. LOL!


  • Salem
    May 6, 2012 - 9:35AM

    What ever suits them is “allowed in Islam” Just like poppy!!! uter shameful.


  • sharjeel
    May 6, 2012 - 9:53AM

    the one thing a mullah fears the most is the idea of an intellectually strong and independent woman.


  • abs
    May 6, 2012 - 10:05AM

    wht else to expect from a Mullas for whom Islam is nothing but a business. May Allah help us get rid of these nishan-e-jahaliyut


  • Super Star
    May 6, 2012 - 10:12AM

    Good way to go Pakistan. please start listening to more of these lawmakers and you will have a ‘progressibve’ pakistan


  • Ali
    May 6, 2012 - 10:16AM

    Why even publish such articles, people such as this maulana (if he can be called one!) should be ignored.


  • Mirza
    May 6, 2012 - 10:21AM

    This is the real face of these Mullas. No wonder they are dead against the secular ruling coalition and working to destabilize it witih the help of PCO SC.


  • ayesha_khan
    May 6, 2012 - 10:27AM

    These same peope also say that women should not go to male doctors. But if women do not get educated , where will female doctors come from. So in effect any woman who falls ill should die untreated according to people like these Maulan. The fact they got tickets and got elected in teh 21st century is scary.


  • Basit
    May 6, 2012 - 10:29AM

    Leave it to ET to promote his views when even people from Kohistan ignore this views. Despite liberal dreams to portray all of Pakistan as regressive, Kohistan is very different then rest of KPK.


  • Yaida M
    May 6, 2012 - 10:31AM

    It is the worst form of torture to be born a female Recommend

  • Rashid
    May 6, 2012 - 10:39AM

    It’s a bad habit of Pakistanis. They mix cultural habits with religion-


  • CAT
    May 6, 2012 - 10:46AM

    Yes, Antol Levin is right, Pakistan is a Hard Place!


  • AG
    May 6, 2012 - 10:52AM

    Sigh. Pakistan is doomed….


  • Imran Con
    May 6, 2012 - 10:53AM

    A true Pakistani Muslim.


  • Asfand
    May 6, 2012 - 10:53AM

    Pathetic.. Mullahs as usual


  • angel
    May 6, 2012 - 10:54AM

    what a pity……


  • sane voice
    May 6, 2012 - 11:46AM

    yeah……….mullahs like him are against education just like feudals are against it…..because the education challenegs their hedgemony, their power and grip over the people. they are mentally corrupted. they are so obssesd with women folks that their islam starts with women and end with women. it is a sorry fact that they converted their tribal culture and their ownt desires into islamic values.


  • vasan
    May 6, 2012 - 12:14PM

    Do u need anymore proof that Pak is getting talibanised, if not already?


  • ishtiaer hussain
    May 6, 2012 - 12:17PM

    I wish i could have sent this Maulana back to the medieval times, or perhaps back to the stone age when humans used to live in caves. That is exactly where this Maulana belongs. Like communists, they are vicious idealogues and believe in force to propagade their extremely orthodox ideas. Actions speak louder than words. He should first ensure that women of his family remain shut in their house before asking others to follow the precedent. Another classic example of worst double-standards.


  • Pollack
    May 6, 2012 - 12:28PM

    “Maulana Haleem had also declared poppy cultivation in Kohistan ‘in accordance with Islam’”

    That statement sums up where this mullah is coming from.


  • ishtiaer hussain
    May 6, 2012 - 12:45PM

    He belongs to that breed of people who tuck opium under the very “jaye-namaz” on which they offer their five-time prayers.


  • Hafiz saifullah
    May 6, 2012 - 1:06PM

    He dont know the religion so he is just mixing islam with his culture and dont say him maulana.


  • jagjit sidhoo
    May 6, 2012 - 1:19PM

    “married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men.” If i get it right he is threatening the unmarried NGO female workers with abduction and forced marriage (with the unsaid rape thrown in).This guy is supposed to be a religious TEACHER. Blind leading the blind ?


  • Liberator
    May 6, 2012 - 1:28PM

    A truly democratic state would have sent this animal behind bars for hate speech. That would have sent a message to other people to remain in their shoes.


  • Mumbai Dude
    May 6, 2012 - 1:30PM

    The time is ripe for Pakistanis to say goodbye to outdated religious customs and books and adopt modern secular liberalism as the way forward. Religious system has proved to be a failure everywhere in the world. Secularism is the ONLY WAY which can ensure complete justice for all people (rich, poor, men, women, minorities) and progress. Now the choice is yours – you want backward religious way of life or modern secular(eg Turkey, France, India) way of life.


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 6, 2012 - 1:31PM

    His thinking errors are a prime example of product of no formal education for girls. If girls in his family were educated his views would have been more liberal.


  • Ujad
    May 6, 2012 - 1:36PM

    Sick mullah


  • Ignorant
    May 6, 2012 - 1:45PM

    You cannot speak on behalf of women, maulana. Let them exercise their choice themselves. Why do you waste time on poking in others’ business. You should have remembered Allah in the mean time instead. It is He Who has created both of you and everybody is answerable to none other than Him. You mind your own business so that you may be forgiven in hereafter. Good luck.Recommend

  • let there be peace
    May 6, 2012 - 1:49PM

    He is a respectable Maulana who has probably studied Holy Quran and Hadiths all his life. He is in his nineties, so very less chance he will make up things for some material gains, unlike the people making comments here. So he must have some point.
    When in Islamic republic, follow the Islamic law.


  • iqbal panhwar
    May 6, 2012 - 2:52PM

    little knowion.ucatledge is dangerous thing. islam is not oppose women education.


  • saleem
    May 6, 2012 - 2:55PM

    @let there be peace, thats why i have been saying we should be having a republic only and remove the objective resolution from the constitution.


  • Ignorant
    May 6, 2012 - 3:07PM

    @let there be peace
    When in an Islamic state, follow the Maulanas rather. I got it what you wanted to say.


  • Jenai dau
    May 6, 2012 - 3:22PM

    Sorry to break the news to u that Pakistan was not made to be called islamic republic..u mullahs have hijacked my Pakistan that was made as a republic of freedom.


  • May 6, 2012 - 3:28PM

    What a stupid serman ! Shabash moulana !

    One of Hadees sharifs of Syedna wa Moulana Muhammad (SAWW) is: Acquiring Ilm is obligatory on all muslim men and “women”.


  • Mehnaz
    May 6, 2012 - 4:01PM

    Such “molvis” the government should start serios action by taking their sermons seriously and simply relieving them from their positions so the madness can stop at the root!
    Another thing to consider: If some women from this man’s family are working in schools (rather allowed to work), are they actually “teaching” or these men find it okay to collect their pay cheques with same justification as growing poppy! Recommend

  • Anwar
    May 6, 2012 - 4:28PM

    AA: Wonderful to know, that it is unislamic to educate girls. What is islamic? Marrying many times, Divorcing and marrying, Using western made cars, using sound system in mosque, little income and having 12 kids, watching TV and semi nude non muslim gils, when it is Pakistani women , it is unislamic. Doing every thing in hujra of mosque is islamic but in home it is unislamic. Travelling by plane is unislamic by women because of search, and so on and on. Maulana Sahib Tell the nation???????????????????????
    Maulana Sahib become Pakistani:—- Don’t act for others. Pakistan is extremely beautuful country, Take it to 21st century, don’t push it to 7th century.


  • Raza
    May 6, 2012 - 4:28PM

    This guy was in parliament? No wonder we’re so uncivilized.


  • dv sikka
    May 6, 2012 - 4:59PM

    Pakistan on way to stone age. Soon the mullahs will want all modern houses demolished and people sent to live in caves with no water supply, electricity etc. A beautiful country of intelligent people is being systematically destroyed. The country of Indus Valley civilisation is being driven back into darkest period. I feel so sad. Why these mullahs are dominating Pakistan’s cultural demise. It is time to wake up for Pakistan’s intelligentia. Please do not destroy the future of your children.


  • Iron hand
    May 6, 2012 - 5:18PM

    When you put religion on such a high pedestal that no one dares to confront such dangerous views for fear of being branded “unislamic” or a blasphemer, the result is what you see in Pakistan today: growing cultural radicalism and a sensible minority held hostage by religious paranoia.


  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    May 6, 2012 - 5:32PM

    Let us not ridicule this moulana. His words reflect more his state of mind than the religion. From his words I can make out that he is living in a area which is at the cusp of social change. This has happened in all societies world over. Elderly people have reacted in different ways. Things among rural Hindus were no different in India just about 50-70 years. My mother-in-law tells me that in spite of securing admission in Medical College Lahore, she could not join. Her Uncle went to the extent of hiding her admission letter. Same sort of stuff happened when my wife got admission in medical college. Her uncle ( a well known politician and minister) was very much against it. However, this time my mother-in-law put her foot down and ensured that all the daughters get highest possible education. Based upon my experience, I won’t worry too much what Moulana says. Issue is purely a social one and not the religious. It takes time for societies to change. Moulana’s writ won’t work even in his house hold. Time is the biggest reformer and not the religion or social yard-sticks.


  • FactCheck
    May 6, 2012 - 5:45PM

    Why fare they afraid of educating females?

    Suppose, you can’t abuse them when they are educated, is that it?


  • Lateef Khan
    May 6, 2012 - 6:08PM

    I agree with Maulana. I am a male and I am scared of women!
    Who says we harass women? Its the other way round too. All the jokes about marriage (y dont u get married?), dates (r u going on a date?), hints (y u avoiding me?) gives me lot of headache and 99% of the time it comes from women!


  • ishtiaer hussain
    May 6, 2012 - 6:12PM

    @Rajendra Kalkhande:

    You sound like a social scientist with a deep historical prespective. I fully subscribe to your views. Recommend

  • Ch Allah Daad
    May 6, 2012 - 6:20PM

    Atleast this Mullah is not hypocrat. All Mullahs, whether in city, village, desert or at mountains have same mentality. Only difference is that they bend their words according to lacations and audiences. Those who vote them and attend their sermons are no different than these Mullahs.


  • ashar
    May 6, 2012 - 7:07PM

    I donot believe the report of the correspondent truly represent Maulana’s words. Although he could not help using the word secular again and again and there lies the point that the Honorable Maulana wanted to say.

    We know that in canada and USA the schools have made is mandatory for school girls to join all the kids in a swimming pool. What is the logic behind it. do they want to teach them swimming. No. It is to remove the basic instinct of Hijab from growing kid so that they can easily find it compfortable in all kind of conditions dressed or undressed. Many pakistanis are getting uncomfortable with this sort of activities. And if it goes any further there would be people who would prefer to take out thier girls from those schools instead of planning a corporate future for them.

    So, if the NGOSs are trying to infuse anything leading to break our basic principle of modesty or going against our beliefs, then that education would definitely be harmful for out kids and we will have to think about it.

    I advise all not to exploit the situation.
    Poppy cultivation is a good point. however it is very unfortunate that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that completely abolished the very menace has never been commended by the media. You cannot hide if you are biased.


  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    May 6, 2012 - 7:08PM

    @ ishtiaer hussain: Thank you very much. Its not just Islamic societies, but most other have gone through similar changes. Orthodox Hindus were no better. Social reformers like Raja Ram MOhan Roy, Mahrishi Dayanand contributed a lot for the upliftment of women. Issues of female literacy, widow remarriage etc were addressed. If you have read Kabir, you will appreciate how he ridiculed both Hindus and Muslims for their blind faiths. Sir Syed did a lot to reform Muslims to adopt modern education. There has always been resistance to such moves. Orthodox clerics always mix social reforms with religion.


  • s shah
    May 6, 2012 - 7:34PM

    This Mullah is voicing the ideology of the Taliban. They believe this, which is why they destroy schools and why they banned female education in Afghanistan when they were in power.

    This is a business for them, as one of your commentators above stated. These Mullahs have no shame in using doubtful Hadiths and selective Hadiths to support their views. They will impose these views by force on others if they have power.

    It is best not to kid oneself about what these people believe and the lengths they will go to impose these beliefs on others. They cannot be appeased or assimilated, nor is violence the answer. Their funding needs to be cut in the short term and in the long term there needs to be profound social change through education so that these views become socially unacceptable. But who can bell the cat ?


  • Saleem
    May 6, 2012 - 8:28PM

    We all need to mindful of these so called Mollahs who are in business for themselves. Rather than shooting non-sense and exploiting illiterate people of Pakistan why don’t these so called Mollah’s come out and say once for all what is halal and what is haram. Prove with knowledge, or shut up forever. And why these stupid things keep popping up in Pakistan only? Do all so called Islamic scholars live in Pakistan, and only in this era?

    We must not forget that who in a family is sent to a Madarsa or becomes an alim in Pakistan? A child who could not become a doctor, engineer, or CSP. Now that child is trying to find his powers by mixing religion, culture, politics and his imagination. Shame on those so called scholars, and shame on all of us who provide material, moral, or any kind of support to these .Recommend

  • sid
    May 6, 2012 - 9:12PM

    for god sake thousands of positive things happen as well but i think its against your AGENDA to publish anything in the positive light. all this news did was gather comments from useless Indians. i think ET is happy now. Recommend

  • Khan
    May 6, 2012 - 9:22PM

    For a country that is so desperate to be Islamic Pakistan is perhaps the best example of what not to do if you want to be a good Muslim. And if you take away education you pretty much kick Islam away.

    I know there are many villages where reading the translation of the Quran is banned, where polio drops are Haram, where getting Jaundice means that you’ve got a Jinn inside of you. All of this nonsense because people aren’t educated. You take away education and people just become more easy to control.


  • Mariam
    May 6, 2012 - 9:27PM

    A jaahil man.. does not represent every man of an Islamic mindset.
    He has his own frustrations and issues, no need to lock down all women for the sake of the uncontrolled ones he’s around.
    Do not mix religion and conservative culture together, they are two very different things.


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 6, 2012 - 10:29PM

    Sir as a minority you want Canadians to accept your culture and customs and accomodate you. You are entitle to such an accomodation if (a) read book by Canadian Tarek Fateh “Chasing a mirage” (b) Write a letter to Embassy of Saudia Arabia and Pakistan and state that as a minorty I am enjoying my freedom to practice my religion of choice in return could you plese extend simillar benefits to other non muslim minorities (c) extend similar courtsey of accomodations to another minority gay and lesbians such a legalized marriage. If you cringe on any of these suggestions than I am sure a local Canadian is equally entitle to cringe on your request. You are not the pnly minority in the world. It is give and take. Show some genrosity and accomodations to others before you claim your entitlement. If this is not acceptable please feel free to go back to Land of Pure. Most Pakistani’s like white guys dollar and all kind of freedom but refuse to make friends with them. Your issues are like salt in food enjoy it with other perks.


  • May 6, 2012 - 11:09PM

    These Mullahs are ceratinly contradicting Prophet Muhammad pbuh who made education as an obligation for every male and female!

    Pakistan or Muslims will not succeed if they do not throw off this yolk of Mullahism that is strangling their future.

    Mohammed Abbasi
    Association of British Muslims


  • Afridi
    May 6, 2012 - 11:10PM

    now this credit goes to the whole country


  • ashar
    May 7, 2012 - 12:24AM

    @Its (still) Econonmy Stupid:
    Well, I have no concern over what Canadians are doing in thier schools with Pakistani’s kids and where they are leading them to, I only gave an example that the NGOs working in Pakistan (not all of them) show thier inclination and express likelyhood towards the system and curriculum of education of the west and this is the matter of concern for all of religious Pakistanis. After all Imaan is the most important treasure we have and definitely we do not want our kids to lose it no matter what they get in return. And this is the fact behind the speech of Maulana whose name and position has insulted in the above comments without going into the actual reasons and that is why I criticize the reporter of this news.

    A quotable example is all my engineer friends who acquired Canadian Nationality on the basis of higher qualification obtained in Pakistan have finally came back with one reason common among them: daughter was getting older and we did not want them to be there at this stage. You can call all of them followers of Maulana sahab. Actually it is consideration of saving your identity.

    So, my dear this is not the matter of minority rights where I am very much clear that all the minorities should live in their respective countries according to the law of the land whether they are minority muslims in canada, jews in Turkey or ahmedis in Pakistan.


  • dv sikka
    May 7, 2012 - 1:56AM

    It is a question of making a choice that Pakistani muslims have to make. Whether they want to go back to 6th century or live in 21st century. The noblest of noble path was shown by the great leader and educationist Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. He provided the best temple of learning, the AMU. Later a similar place of learning was developed by another great son of India, Dr Zakir Hussain in Jamia Milia. The choice is that of Pakistan intelligentia. Whether they will be following the path shown in Holy Quran about education for their daughters or they will want them to remain illiterate animals because of these mullahs misinterpretation of Holy Quran. Please do think of a prosperous and peace loving Pakistan of tomorrow.


  • jagjit sidhoo
    May 7, 2012 - 8:26AM

    @ashar: Did anyone come back because the son was growing up?


  • Irtiza
    May 7, 2012 - 8:43AM

    He should be sent behind bars for his threatening tone. Its a pity that this guy was a lawmaker during the regime of our ‘liberal’ leader Gen.Musharraf.


  • May 10, 2012 - 7:42PM


    Are you sure that NGO’s are taking your country to the age of non-chastity, the region in question has not developed since Independence, with only one advantage that it is a part of Pakistan – these areas are making their ends meet. Such talibanization shall surely make sutuations worse than Afghanistan.
    I am not very religious but I am sure god (in whatever form) must have wanted woman to be powerful thus gave her the power to bear a child… and god (if exists till today) must be crying heart out to see what Humans have done to the balance.

    Regards and Respect,



  • akash
    May 22, 2012 - 12:19AM

    Rajendra Kalkhande, while you indulge in the usual asinine self flagellation typical of liberals who try to cover up and rationalize the worst acts of such political maulvis, the fact is that in hinduism and other religions, reformers flourished and society continues to evolve. Whereas in Islamic societies to go against the maulvis is to go against islam, and hence apostasy and death. Your comparison of your family’s situation and rural hinduism is equally silly. Fact is millions of rural and non rural hindu, christian, jewish women got educated even at a time when these cultures were still struggling to shake off the shackles of colonialism and assorted experiences. And today, things are very different. So when you say don’t ridicule the maulana, please stop the stupidity. This maulana deserves ridicule and worse. Thanks to him, and others like him, ordinary Pakistanis are suffering and people like you are ever ready to rationalize their antics by comparing them to out of context cultures.


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