Addressing an event organized by jihadi non-governmental organization Al-Rehmat Trust in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Qasmi justified the killing of Jews to protect the religious nature of an Islamic state, declaring: "The defense of the State of Medina lies in the killing of Jews."
In Pakistan, Islamist groups and mainstream political leaders such as Prime Minister Imran Khan describe Pakistan as Madina-e-Saani ("Second Medina"), meaning that Pakistan is the second Islamic state after the one established by Prophet Muhammad in Medina in what is today Saudi Arabia. Al-Rehmat Trust is the charity wing of Pakistani jihadi organization Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM).
Jaish-e-Muhammad is led by Maulana Masood Azhar, one of the three terrorists freed by India in exchange for the passengers of an Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar in 1999 when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan. Maulana Ilyas Qasmi is the chief of the da'wa ("preaching") department of Al-Rehmat Trust.
Maulana Qasmi is a regular speaker at the events organized by Al-Rehmat Trust. Delivering a special speech at an inter-madrassa debate competition in Peshawar, Maulana Ilyas Qasmi also invited hundreds of people to prayer, jihad, and Kalima. "Kalima" refers to the words spoken to proclaim one's belief in Islam: "There is no deity but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."
According to a report in the November 23-29, 2018 issue of the Urdu-language weekly Haftroza Al-Qalam, Maulana Ilyas Qasmi said that "'the defense of the State of Medina lies in the killing of Jews.' [He] further said, 'Muslims! Study the 10-year Medinan life of the lord [Prophet Muhammad] of the State of Medina. Then you too, Allah willing, will arrive at this conclusion that in the State of Medina, no Christian, Jew, or polytheist had the courage to flap their wings.'"
"And even if any Jew stretched his hands in the State of Medina, then the lord of the State of Medina declared [a military] operation against Jewism," Maulana Qasmi said, according to the report in Haftroza Al-Qalam.
The Urdu word for Judaism, "Yehudiyat," has a positive-to-neutral connotation when discussing the Judaic religion, but sometimes it carries a pejorative connotation when it involves the demonization of Jews. Therefore, Jewism is the closest English equivalent to this meaning.
"It is sad to say that today the slogan has been raised to transform the State of Pakistan on the lines of the State of Medina, but despite this, when the issue of the honor of the lord of the State of Medina came up, then the honor of the lord of Medina was mauled only for the reason that Jews should not become displeased with us," Maulana Ilyas Qasmi told the audience.
The context for Maulana Qasmi's statement was the order of the Pakistani Supreme Court to free Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, who was jailed for blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad. Although Aasia Bibi is not a Jew, Qasmi's statement carries the presupposition that Jews control Pakistan's policies and would be displeased if Aasia Bibi were to be hanged for blasphemy.
Maulana Ilyas Qasmi exhorted the listeners: "Muslims! Tell those who raise the so-called slogan [that Pakistan will become the second Medina], that we will not make any type of compromise against the honor of the lord of the State of Medina. And we, Allah willing, without damaging the peace of our country Pakistan, will set fire to the parliaments of the blasphemers of the Prophet, we will catch a breath only after sacrificing our lives for the dignity of the Prophet."
* Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative