The religious radicals and extremists in Pakistan use Islam as a tool to achieve their vested political goals and objectives. To get politico-ideological support of the people for that purpose they have invented a new method of making selective inferences from the Holy Quran and sayings of the Prophet (ahadith, plural of hadith) overriding all other Quranic verses and ahadith, which is clearly conflicting with Islamic tradition of using a holistic approach regarding that. These and other such views were expressed by renowned religious scholars belonging to different schools of thought in a roundtable meeting organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) on May 7 in Islamabad. Members of an advisory board established last year to lead a PIPS Initiative for promotion of religious harmony and peace, these religious scholars got together to finalize the activities and roadmap of their engagement for the 2nd year of the Initiative.
Director General Islamic Research Institute at International Islamic University, Islamabad Dr. Khalid Masood chaired the meeting. He said that students should be educated through mainstream and madrassa education curricula about fundamental principles and parameters for exegesis of Quran and hadith with a view to counter skewed interpretations of the extremists and to develop a balanced thought among the Pakistani youths and people.
Maulana Yasin Zafar, Nazim-e-Aala Wafaqul Madaris Salafia told the participants that the PIPS engagement with religious scholars for promotion of peace and harmony had encouraged many to follow suit. He apprised the board members that taking lead from this Initiative they had celebrated a ‘week of tolerance’ in their madrassa in Faisalabad.
Maulana Ammar Khan Nasir, Vice Principal Al-Sharia Academy, Gujranwala informed the meeting that some other institutions were keen on expanding the debate on Takfeer and Khurooj, initiated by the PIPS last year.
Maulana Abdul Haq Hashmi, advisor to Federal Sharia Court and a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Balochistan laid emphasis on strengthening the sociocultural and educational aspects of the PIPS Initiative of engaging religious scholars for peace and harmony. Dr. Syed Muhammad Najafi, Deputy Director, Taqreeb Mazahib-e-Islami, Pakistan spoke on the need of sectarian harmony.
All the board members approved with consensus the following activities for the second year of the Initiative:
A three-day study tour of a delegation of about 10 Pakistani religious scholars to Indonesia to take part in a pre-arranged seminar and visit Indonesian institutions of religious education.
A three-day visit of a delegation of 6-7 Islamic scholars from Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and Saudi Arabia to participate in a seminar in Islamabad with religious and secular scholars and visit madrassas in different cities.
A training workshop with madrasa students and teachers in Islamabad to introduce them to modern concepts in nation-state systems.
A prize distribution ceremony for position holder madrasa graduates from all religious educational boards (Wafaqs) in Islamabad.
Four sessions of debate between religious scholars and moderate intellectuals/scholars on Islam’s sociocultural, humanitarian and ethical considerations for peace, harmony and co-existence.
Production and broadcasting of 10 FM radio programs of discussion among religious scholars in national and regional languages on peace, inter-sect and inter-faith harmony.
Production, printing and periodic dissemination of moderate Islamic literature.