August 23, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10766

Chief Justice-Designate Of Pakistan's Supreme Court Qazi Faez Isa: 'If Anyone Attacks A Church, Muslims Are Obligated To Launch A Jihad Against Attackers'; Editorial In Urdu Daily Roznama Jasarat: 'Sir, When The Quran Is Set Afire... Who Will Wage Jihad?'

August 23, 2023
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 10766

On August 16, 2023, a mob provoked by allegations that several desecrated pages of the Quran were found in a Christian neighborhood attacked five churches, a cemetery, and the homes in the neighborhood. The mob, which was led by Islamists from Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a group that has been using street power in recent years to pressure the Pakistani government,[1] attacked the neighborhood of Cinema Chowk in Jaranwala, which is in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

In 2020, TLP-affiliated clerics, responding to incidents of blasphemy in France –offered 50 million rupees for the beheading President Emmanuel Macron, and advocated jihad and nuclear attacks against France. The Tehreek-e-Minhaj-ul-Quran Organization, founded by Canadian-Pakistani cleric Maulana Tahirul Qadri, declared the French president a "terrorist and extremist."[2]

Justice Qazi Faez Isa will take over as chief justice of Pakistan in September 2023

After the August 16, 2023 mob attack in Jaranwala, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who is set to take over as the chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court in September 2023, visited the affected neighborhood, where he said: "Christians have an equal right to build a church as do Muslims to build a mosque."[3] Speaking on the occasion and clarifying that he was visiting the place in a personal capacity and not as the Supreme Court judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa also said: "If anyone attacks a church, Muslims are obligated to launch a jihad against the attackers."

In Pakistan, both sides use arguments involving jihad. Liberal politicians, the Pakistani army, and the government often say that in an Islamic country only the state has the authority to declare jihad, whereas jihadi organizations such as Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taliba, and various Taliban outfits argue that since the state in Pakistan and many Muslim countries does not meet shari'a standards, any Muslim can launch a jihad.[4]

An editorial titled "Will The Rulers Do Jihad On Insulting The Quran?" in Roznama Jasarat, responded to Isa's statement. Rosnama Jasarat is an Urdu-language daily belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, a mass religious organization that largely supports the Pakistani state but has refused to describe Pakistani soldiers killed in counter-terror operations "martyrs",  while giving this title to slain jihadi commanders who fight against Pakistan's armed forces.

Following are excerpts from the editorial:[5]

"The Candle Mafia [i.e., Civil Rights Groups], Which Has Been Silent About Insults To The Holy Prophet And Desecration Of The Quran, Suddenly Came Out From Behind The Curtain And Demanded Protection For Christians In Pakistan"

"Almost every day, in some or the other country of the world there is an instance of [someone] insulting the Quran. It is being called freedom of expression, but what happens after that seems to be a matter different from freedom of expression. In Sweden, Denmark, and now the Netherlands, desecration of the Quran happens every time under police security. Those who are supposed to prevent [such incidents] are stoking the fire.

"There were protests against this in Islamic countries by the public, but the notice that should have been taken could not be taken at the official levels. However, under the guise of freedom of expression, the incident of insulting the Quran has occurred once again.

"It has already been written many times in these columns that it is wrong to drop the Quran on the ground, to drop its pages or, in the opinion of some, to turn your back toward it. But it is obligatory for Muslims to follow the orders of the Quran and Muslim rulers are not making decisions according to this Book. This is a greater insult than dropping its pages or turning your back toward it. And the Quran's orders are also being rejected after careful thought. There is a fear of the Western masters in everyone's heart.

"After the repeated occurrence of these tragedies [in Europe], the tragedy of Jaranwala happened in Pakistan. Here too there was a reaction or expression of opinion in reaction, which happened without thought and those who were supposed to prevent [such incidents] just stood by as spectators. Regardless of the reason behind it, the [police] did not impose any obstacles.

"Whatever happened afterward or is being stated [as a rationalization for mob violence] indicates that it is not a matter of free speech in Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, and thereafter the reactions to the reactions in Pakistan also show that it is part of the same chain.

"At first churches were burned, then homes of Christian were set ablaze [in Jaranwala], which is not the way of a Muslim. Then the candle mafia [i.e., civil rights groups], which were silent about insults to the Holy Prophet and desecration of the Quran, suddenly came out from behind curtain and demanded protection for Christians in Pakistan. These champions of women's rights, free-thinking women who are not related to any religion and are rather disgusted with religion, they are also saying, 'give protection to Christians.'

"The reaction to the Jaranwala incident shows its direction that these people have no sympathy toward Christians and churches or the Quran; but burning the Quran, insulting prophets, burning churches, attacking Christians, and defaming Islam in response to these [actions] – all of these are part of the same agenda."

"If The Places Of Worship Of Muslims, Mosques, Churches And Sikhs In India Are Not Safe, Then Who Will Wage Jihad For Their Protection?"

"The nation was shocked by the reaction of the progressive religious women's organizations that the next Chief Justice Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa declared a fatwa that if someone attacks churches, it is obligatory for Muslims to wage jihad [against the attackers]. Qazi Faez Isa is in a responsible position; his words have importance and the style, after all, is that of muftis' and will be considered as a fatwa [Islamic religious decree].

The Roznama Jasarat editorial

"He is right to say that if someone attacks churches, then Muslims should wage jihad against him. He said on the occasion of his visit to Jaranwala that he came not because of his position but as a common citizen for other citizens. His command can produce very dire consequences. The first problem is that if Muslims themselves launch jihad, then where is the state? Its results have been revealed in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

"Why did the state allow the burning of churches, why did it allow dozens, not one or two, of houses to be burnt? And if Mufti Faez Isa is making this fatwa public, then the question is for him to answer: Sir, When the Quran is burned, when it is desecrated and adorned with the tattered worn-out attire of freedom of expression, then who will wage jihad? Any action on insulting the Quran is obligatory on the rulers and Muslims, or will it remain a matter of mere demands and protests?

"The people can only make demands and hold protests, but if the rulers do not take any action, incidents like Jaranwala will happen. Even earlier, when the state remained silent, many cinemas were burned in Karachi. Such incidents are not investigated and even if they are, no result is revealed to the public. It is very necessary that a thorough investigation be conducted regarding the entire incident, the claims of the police, about those making announcements from mosques, and those involved in burning churches and houses. Once a transparent and unbiased investigation is carried out, then such things will stop.

In 2013, then Jamaat-e-Islami emir Syed Munawar Hasan called Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud a martyr but refused to describe Pakistani soldiers in the same way.

"Now it appears as if Muslims are the culprits or that those who repeatedly insult the Quran [in Europe] are helpless. If the rulers will not take action, if they are afraid of the West, then anyone can take the law into their hands. And if the law works, no one will dare to burn a church.

"Amid this news, there are also reports of organized attacks against Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians in India. If the places of worship of Muslims, mosques, churches, and Sikhs in India are not safe, then who will wage jihad for their protection? There is a report that is not from a Pakistani religious organization [about increasing attacks on religious minorities in India], but from an American organization that so far 50,000 mosques and more than 20,000 churches and other places of worship in India have been targeted by extremists. A jihad fatwa is also required for them.

"Muslims are heartbroken over the desecration of the Quran. If the rulers had interpreted their feelings, such incidents would have never happened. Muslim rulers should also consider their position and responsibility. They have excluded the Quran from the affairs of the government and everyday decisions. Now they do not even react strongly to burning it. Who is responsible for this?"


[3] The News (Pakistan), August 20, 2023.

[5] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), August 21, 2023.

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