A leading Pakistani religious scholar believes
his home country should follow the UAE’s example
and oversee what is preached in mosques.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, 63, a prominent Muslim theologian,
was in Dubai recently to record a television debate show.
He said that in Pakistan mosques are run privately
and anyone can give a sermon without permission from authorities.
«This has eventually become the source of promoting extremism and hatred,» he said.
In the UAE, sermons are standardised by Awqaf,
the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.
Mr Ghamidi used to run Al Mawrid Islamic research institution in Pakistan.
Its moderate teachings and his opposition to extremism led to conflict with the Taliban.
Mr Ghamidi was forced to flee the country.
In 2010, he moved to Malaysia with his family
after police foiled a plot to bomb his home and school in Lahore.
Members of his team were attacked and murdered by the Taliban.
He now continues Al Mawrid through its website,
as well as branches in Australia, the US and India.
Mr Ghamidi said education is the best way
to curb the rise of extremist organisations.
«We have to invest and focus on education.
It is the only way to safeguard
the minds of our generation from extremism.
There is no other way out,» he said.
Mr Ghamidi opposes the way madrasas
– religious seminaries – operate in Pakistan.
«It is improper to admit a child as young as five to learn religion.
Every child should complete twelve years of broad-based education
before deciding whether he wants to pursue religious studies or not.»
He said that the role of Islamic scholars is
to make religion clear to Muslims and the world at large.
«In Pakistan, the problem arises
when scholars leave their main responsibilities
and get involved in those activities which should not be their business,» he said.
Mr Ghamidi said that tragedies like
the recent terror attack on a school in Peshawar are unforgivable.
«Similarly, attacks on churches and other public places
where innocents are killed are equally gruesome
and no Islamic leader and scholar can support such crimes by any means,» he said.