March 2, 2018 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1377

The Pakistani State's Official Fatwa Against Jihad Is Bogus, Deceptive, And Meaningless; The World Will Be Better Without It

March 2, 2018 | By Tufail Ahmad
Pakistan | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1377


On January 16, 2018, the government of Pakistan unveiled a fatwa ("Islamic decree"), which was described as the Pakistani "nation's unanimous declaration to counter extremism and end terrorism."[1] Media reports said that the fatwa was seconded by more than 1,800 Islamic scholars.[2] The fatwa is published as a book called Paigham-e-Pakistan ("The Message Of Pakistan"), written by the researchers of the Islamic Research Institute at the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI). The revision and endorsement of the 121-page book, as noted in it, was carried out by "eminent scholars of all schools of thought, muftis [jurists] and professors of national universities."

The draft of "The Message Of Pakistan" was presented at a seminar on May 26, 2017. At the seminar, a joint declaration and a fatwa were also released. Later, religious scholars from divergent schools of Islam discussed and approved "The Message Of Pakistan," which will be referred to in this article as the Fatwa. "The Message identifies the problems faced by the State of Pakistan and provides basis to devise a strategy to achieve the goals of Objectives Resolution," the preface says and adds: "This document is now published with the approval of the State of Pakistan to implement it as a bisic [sic] national code of conduct." The Objectives Resolution refers to a code which, in short, led to the Islamization of the Pakistani state and unleashed religious extremism in Pakistani society.

The Fatwa was released at a function in Islamabad presided over by Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and attended by Islamic scholars, academics, and government ministers. Releasing the Fatwa, President Hussain said: "The Pakistani nation's foundational declaration is the Constitution of Pakistan which was prepared in the light of the Koran and the Sunnah and the thoughts of the Father of the Nation M.A. Jinnah, and which is trusted by the entire nation. Whereas, the Islamic scholars' Fatwa illustrates and seconds [the Constitution]."[3]

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, speaking also on the occasion, stated: "If we want to correct our direction for the future, it is necessary that society is peaceful and stable because without them we cannot embark on this journey"; "Pakistan was not created so it could be just one more addition to a list of the world's poorest countries"; "The Fatwa will provide a platform for national unity... So that in the 21st century, we can make Pakistan a distinguished country, an Asian tiger..."[4] Despite this noble goal, a running deception behind this Fatwa, as discussed below, is its total silence about how Islam treats religious minorities.

The Fatwa – Or "The Message Of Pakistan"

The 121-page book is divided into the following sections: the Message from the President Mamnoon Hussain; the Preface written by Prof. Dr. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of IIUI; Chapter 1 – Islamic Code of Conduct; Chapter 2 – Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Chapter 3 – The State of Pakistan and Challenges Faced by Pakistani Society; Chapter 4 – Joint Declaration; Chapter 5 – Unanimous Fatwa. Chapter 5 contains the fatwa that was issued at the seminar held on May 26, 2017, and comprises the following sub-sections: 5.1 Request for Fatwa (Istifta), 5.2 Unanimous Fatwa (Response to Istifta), 5.3 Unanimous Fatwa: Key Points. Chapters 6 through 10 give the names of over 1,800 researchers, writers, and Islamic scholars who have written or endorsed the Fatwa.

Chapter 1 – Islamic Code Of Conduct

Chapter 1 is a discussion of the Islamic code of living. It begins with the Koranic idea that Allah sent prophets and messengers to all communities "at regional level and not at global or international level" – "inasmuch as their messages were limited to the communities for which they were sent." Koran verse 30:47 is cited: "We did indeed send, before thee, messengers to their (respective) peoples." Then the argument moves on. "When it was time for the world to shift from localism to globalism," it notes, "a comprehensive and complete code of life," i.e. Islam, was sent through Prophet Muhammad. It cites Koran verse 21:107 – "We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures" – to buttress the argument that the Prophet was sent for all of mankind.

Once the argument that the Prophet was sent for all is established, problems emerge. "The aim of Islamic system of worship is to raise the spirit of being subservient to Allah," it notes, which would mean that all humans, Muslims or non-Muslims, pray before Allah. It states that Islam's purpose is "to promote such high moral values that are reserved for welfare, national unity through fulfilling the rights and obligations, upholding a just system in the society." Based on this point, it says the Prophet "started to implement revelation-based just system in Medani [i.e. of Medina] society in 622 CE" as a result of which many tribes such as "the Aws, Khazraj, immigrants and other non-Muslim Arab clans became united under the political leadership of Prophet Muhammad."

This is a problematic area. The chapter notes: "Under this situation, the Jews were the only people who were outside the sphere of this social system. When the Prophet... invited Jews into this social system, it became impossible for them to reject the offer for their own survival and other security reasons." Here it avoids mentioning how between 700 and 900 Jews of the tribe of Banu Qurayzah were surrounded and finally butchered one by one for failing, by not upholding an agreement, to be part of the Medani political system.[5] It lauds the view that the principle of equality under the Treaty of Medina allowed everyone to be equal and "equalised the blood money of Banu Qurayzah with the other clans of Jews [like Banu Qaynuqa, who were higher in the social ranks and required less blood money]."

Cover page of the Fatwa issued by Pakistan.

Chapter 1 discusses how the Prophet "established such a society in the city of Medina where Muslims, Jews and non-Muslim Arabs developed relationship based on justice, equality and fulfillment of rights and obligations with no discrimination." Several verses from the Koran are cited to forward the argument that such an Islamic society was and must be based on the following principles: fairness and justice (verse 5:8), gods of other religions must not be reviled (verse 6:108), non-Muslims should be invited into the fold of Islam through arguments and good deeds (verse 16:15), humans should walk the earth with humbleness (verse 17:37), forgiveness is better than revenge (verse 42:40), human dignity must be protected (verse 5:32), etc.

This chapter's key conclusion is: "In this system of social justice, non-Muslims, women and children are specifically protected." While this argument itself is valid, this chapter fails to shed light on the biggest criticism of Islam that it protects minority groups only when they surrender before the political authority of the Islamic state, and their good treatment by Muslims comes only when they pay jizya (the Islamic tax on non-Muslims) or convert to Islam. Pakistan's own record on this point is bad: Pakistani citizens who are not Muslims are not permitted by law to become the president of Pakistan – a point President Hussain avoids mentioning in his Message in the Fatwa.

Chapter 2 – Islamic Republic Of Pakistan

Chapter 2 is a discussion of the historical context in which Pakistan was created out of the Indian subcontinent. It makes a factual statement: "Muslims ruled Subcontinent for centuries but they never tried to convert its inhabitants to Islam by coercion. At the time when Muslims took over the rule in the Subcontinent, during their reign and after the end of their rule in the region non-Muslims remained in majority." It notes that the Muslim rulers lost decisively in the War of 1857 to the British, who realized in the early decades of the 20th century that they must leave India to the Indians by introducing a model of "British democracy."

The essential characteristic of all modern democracies is that citizens – irrespective of their race, religion, caste, gender, or other primordial identities – are equal. However, the unwritten argument that Islam does not accept a system of government in which non-Muslims can live as equals is buttressed again by Chapter 2. It observes that when the British were leaving, "Muslims of the region realized that this scenario will result in Hindu rule in the Subcontinent making Muslims once again subjects of a non-Muslim government." This is a problematic argument because it means that Muslims will never be willing to live under non-Muslims even if they were given equal status as citizens in a democracy, and also that non-Muslims in an Islamic state must live as second-class citizens, or dhimmis. That is, they must live as minorities, but not as equals. The president of Pakistan, who wrote his Message to accompany this Fatwa, needs to explain why a non-Muslim Pakistani citizen cannot become the president of the Pakistani state. Until he explains this, this Fatwa remains, by any definition, bogus.

"To avoid this situation [i.e. the situation under democracy in which Muslims and non-Muslims could be equal partners], Muslims started their struggle to achieve an independent state where Muslims could live their lives as per their own culture," this chapter observes, adding that the state of Pakistan was created "as an Islamic Republic" – "first of its kind after the state of Medina [by Prophet Muhammad]" – due to a mass political movement birthed by Pakistan's Islamist national poet Muhammad Iqbal and M.A. Jinnah, the founder. Although Pakistan emerged as an "Islamic Republic," it is interesting that this Fatwa describes Pakistan as an Islamic State, with a capitalized S – the name used by the jihadi group Islamic State (ISIS).

Jinnah advocated the creation of a Pakistani society and legal system based on the teachings of the Koran and Sunnah where ijtihad – consensus by reasoning as a source of law-making in Islam – played a vital role. But, this chapter soon sinks into victimhood by arguing that Pakistan became bedevilled by various problems and notes: "India unjustly occupied the territory of Kashmir." This is historically incorrect because in 1947-48, the Kashmiris – who were not part of Pakistan and India – saw Pakistanis as invaders and their Hindu king requested military help from India. Soon, this chapter lends support to the Islamist arguments when it notes that the first Pakistani Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan presented the Objectives Resolution on March 12, 1949, in the constituent assembly.

The Resolution, now part of the Pakistani constitution, is the main source of religious extremism in Pakistani society. In 2010, noted Canadian-Pakistani academic Izzud-Din Pal wrote an article titled "Objectives Resolution: the root of religious orthodoxy" in which he noted: "When the Objectives Resolution was introduced, the country was known as Pakistan, not Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Its structure was republican... This structure is still western and democratic, and distinction between Muslims and minorities is out of tune with it. Pakistan has not succeeded in reconciling these two conflicting objectives. In this sense, the religious leaders have a consistent position. Their concept of Islamic state leaves the decision-making to a few 'pious' citizens [i.e. Muslims]."[6]

M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan (image courtesy: The News, Pakistan).

Article 2A of the Pakistani Constitution states: "The principles and provisions set out in the Objectives Resolution reproduced in the Annex are hereby made substantive part of the Constitution and shall have effect accordingly."[7] The Resolution invests the authority of Allah in the state of Pakistan, observing: "The authority... [Allah] has delegated to the State of Pakistan, through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him" and in a system under such an authority "Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Koran and the Sunnah."[8]

Chapter 2 celebrates the Objectives Resolution which, it says, "provided a framework for the constitution of Pakistan and established that the principles provided by Islam... so that people of Pakistan could live their individual and social lives in accordance with the injunctions of the Holy Koran and Sunnah." It also notes: "Rights of Muslims and non-Muslims are guaranteed in the Objectives Resolution and it had been decided that all citizens of Pakistan shall enjoy equal status." But, this so-called equal status is flouted by Article 2 of the Pakistani Constitution, which declares: "Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan," and by Article 41 (2) which states: "A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim." The Fatwa will die an infant if the Objectives Resolution is not eliminated, along with Articles 2 and 41(2). All three of these points are relevant to how non-Muslims are governed, or rather mistreated, under Islam.

This chapter leaves a wide field open for Islamic clerics by arguing that no law can be passed in Pakistan "which is against the teachings of Islam" and "existing laws shall also be brought in conformity with the injunctions of Islam." This labored point is intended to counter arguments by jihadi groups that Pakistan is not an Islamic state. "The youth is usually misled by the anti-state elements [i.e. jihadi groups] by deluding them that governing system of Pakistan is un-Islamic and constitution of Pakistan is not in accordance with the teachings of Islam," it notes. Even the Fatwa's argument that jihadi groups are anti-state is invalid.  It is established that the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) births, nurtures, and shelters jihadi leaders, from Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar to Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Hakartul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, and Jaish-e-Muhammad founder Maulana Masood Azhar, among numerous others.[9]

This chapter also observes that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) – a constitutional body –  has declared 95 percent of the laws to be compliant with Islam. The remaining five percent means: "Despite several achievements of Pakistan, we are still far from achieving our goals and objectives that were set in the Objectives Resolution."

Chapter 3 – The State Of Pakistan And Challenges Faced By Pakistani Society

Chapter 3 begins a discussion of issues involving the narratives of jihadi groups. It states: "the use of force, armed escalation against the state, terrorist activities and all forms of anarchy, that our country [Pakistan] is facing, are strictly prohibited in Shari'ah and considered rebellion." It adds: "This sort of war is not only against an Islamic State [sic] but also against Allah and His Messenger [Prophet Muhammad]." A question begins to arise if all forms of armed rebellion against an Islamic state are extremism. The Fatwa does not answer how the armed rebellion by Aisha, the wife of Muhammad, against the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib would be classified. Unless the Fatwa comes out with a nuanced view on the issue of rebellion, it leaves a wide scope for jihadis to put forward their own counter arguments.

It seems the Fatwa is inspired by the Pakistani army's, specifically that of the ISI, doctrine of necessity, which becomes clear when Chapter 3 sees only the "anti-state" argument as valid. This would mean that the Islamic Emirate (the Afghan Taliban organization), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen – all of which are not against the Pakistani state or the ISI – are not terrorist groups and therefore legitimate in the eyes of the state of Pakistan. This is, let's not forget, an official Fatwa issued by the Pakistani state. This chapter says: "Anti-state forces rebelled against the State of Medina, immediately after the death of the Prophet, which Abu Bakr... crushed successfully." It cites Koran verse 5:33, which forbids rebellion against Allah, who in turn has vested his authority in the state of Pakistan, as the Objectives Resolution notes.

Chapter 3 urges Muslims to "do their own struggle against those elements who are fighting against Pakistani armed forces" and notes that Islamic jurists believe hirabah ("unlawful war") is a punishable crime. "Muslim scholars are in agreement that even if a ruler is reluctant to implement Shari'ah, still no one has the right to do armed struggle against him," it says. It cites Koran verses 49:9-10 in support of this. These verses are quoted: "If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah..." These verses allow one group of Muslims to fight against another group of Muslims, and therefore defeat the key argument of this chapter. Though cited with good intentions, such verses can be used equally by the jihadi groups to crush those Muslims who differ with them.

It cites Koran verses against divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims, or between Muslim sects, which could mean a call to war to end these differences. It quotes verse 3:105 – "Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs..." – and verses 30:31-32 – "Turn ye back in repentance to Him, and fear Him: establish regular prayers, and be not ye among those [non-Muslims] who join gods with Allah – Those who split up their Religion, and become (mere) Sects..." Some of this chapter's arguments, which are well known, include that non-Muslims, women, the elderly, and those who are not warriors must not be killed. It notes that the second Caliph Abu Bakr sent troops to the Levant (present-day Syria region) and ordered them "not to kill any woman, child or old person and do not cut fruit trees, not to destroy any population center and not to kill or injure any animal unless you need it for your food."

The Objectives Resolution forms part of the Pakistani Constitution.

Chapter 3 introduces a very short discussion of jihad, noting: "Terrorists do not differentiate between jihad and traditional wars." It distinguishes between two types of jihad. The first is qital, "which under specific circumstances is the responsibility of the State," and the second is harb, which is traditional warfare. It does not offer a clear distinction between the two, except for stating that the Prophet's life shows that qital was an exception. It states: "Islamic jurists are of the opinion that qital is not mandatory under normal situations. Rather, it is partially obligatory (Farz kifayah). Therefore, it is required that qital should only be declared by the State." It still means that an Islamic state can order qital under "normal situations."

One of the key arguments jihadi groups have advanced is that different states ruled by Muslim rulers are not Shari'ah-compliant and therefore Muslims cannot depend on such states to issue a call for jihad. The Fatwa under review also admits that in the case of Pakistan, too, about five percent of the country's laws are still not Shari'ah-compliant, thereby opening space for jihadi groups to fill this gap. It says the Koranic injunction "of helping others in the matters of good and piety is completely ignored" by extremist groups, but does not cite any Koran verse. To be fair, Koran verses do teach fairness, justice, and brotherhood, though there are also verses contrary to these teachings.

Some Koran verses are also cited to argued that citizen charters and international covenants must be upheld by Muslims. However, such arguments are forwarded to strengthen the hand of the Pakistani state. The unwritten argument throughout this Fatwa remains: Terrorist groups functioning under the ISI's command can continue to operate, notably in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Chapter 4 – Joint Declaration

Chapter 4 is a joint declaration by the writers of the Fatwa and the Islamic scholars who endorsed it – some of them with their additional notes. Based on the discussions in Chapters 1 through 3, there are 22 clauses, or steps, forwarded by these scholars to be followed by Pakistani people and officials in the light of the Koran and the Sunnah. These clauses are given below, along with arguments on why and how they fail humanity at large, especially non-Muslim Pakistani citizens:

1. The Constitution of Pakistan is "Islamic" and "every Pakistani must fulfil his/her oath of loyalty with the State of Pakistan in every situation." It is unclear why a Pakistani non-Muslim citizen should support a constitution that is openly religiously discriminatory.

2. "All citizens have the guarantee to fundamental rights within the parameters of law" including in matters of belief, worship, and freedom of assembly. This is flouted by a 1974 Pakistani law forbidding Ahmadi Muslims from worshipping as they believe and deems them infidels.

3. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is "an Islamic state" and "no law shall be enacted in Pakistan against the dictates of the Holy Koran and Sunnah." Such a religiously prejudiced clause makes non-Muslim Pakistani citizens subservient to Islam and impinges on their religious freedom.

4. "Peaceful efforts for the implementation of the injunctions of the Holy Koran and Sunnah is the religious obligation of every Muslim. This right is given to him by the Constitution of Pakistan and it is not prohibited in the country." This clause empowers every Pakistani Muslim to start implementing Islamic shari'a as interpreted by them.

5. "[T]here is no justification to declare personnel of the government, military or other security agencies as infidels [for their negligence in implementing the Pakistani constitution]. There is no justification in Shari'ah to launch any armed activity against them." All Islamic clerics in Pakistan today say that Ahmadi Muslims are infidels and therefore demand that they be removed from government and military positions. Are such clerics who endorsed the fatwa not jihadis?

6. This clause notes that Pakistan's war against terrorism is supported by "ulama [Islamic scholars], mashaikh [Sufi mystics] and people from all walks of life are in full solidarity with armed forces." Contrary to this, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, the country's largest religious organization, has refused to call Pakistani soldiers martyrs and says that slain Taliban leaders are martyrs.[10]

7. "The fatwa with the title of 'qatl-e na haq' (unjust killing), declaring suicide attacks absolutely prohibited (haram qat'i), issued by the representatives of all religious schools of thought in the light of Shari'ah is fully endorsed." This point seems to refer to a 2010 fatwa. However, most Pakistani fatwas have rejected such terror actions only inside Pakistan, not in Afghanistan or Kashmir.

8. "Sectarian hatred [between Shias and Sunnis], armed sectarian conflict and imposing one's ideology on others by force is in clear violation of the injunctions of Shari'ah and is disorder on earth." This is right in principle. But even noted Pakistani-Canadian cleric Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri, notwithstanding his own fatwa against jihad, has said Shias are from among the infidels.[11]

9. "All public and private educational institutions must not impart any hostile military education or training, hatred, extremism and violence." In principle, this point is just. In practice, all provincial governments have published school textbooks that teach hate against Pakistani Hindus, Christians, and other religious minorities.[12]

Muhammad Iqbal, the Islamist national poet of Pakistan (image:

10. "It is imperative to take administrative steps and do intellectual jihad against extremist mindset." This is good in intention. But in practice, jihadi units such as Idarat-ul-Pakistan are nurtured inside the Pakistani military, notably as revealed by Pakistani Taliban militant Adnan Rasheed, a former staff of the Pakistan Air Force.[13]

11. "[I]n accordance with the Islamic teachings and the law of land no one is permitted to speak or write against any person, institution or school of thought using insolence, hatred or baseless allegations." It remains to be seen what Islamic scholars who endorsed the Fatwa will say about numerous hateful references to kuffar ("unbelievers") and mushrikeen ("idolaters") in the Koran.

12. "Sections 295-298 of Pakistan Penal Code shall be fully enforced in its letter and spirit..." This set of laws, especially 295-C, which prescribes the death penalty for blasphemy, has become a major issue in Pakistani society where cases against non-Muslims are routinely filed on false accusations of blaspheming against Islamic personalities. Unless Pakistan removes its blasphemy laws, no progress can be made and this Fatwa will remain meaningless in its intention. In fact, this clause seems to be a total surrender before Islamic clerics in Pakistan.

13. "It is the responsibility of an Alim [Islamic scholar] and Mufti [Islamic jurist] to explain Shari'ah ruling on clear statements of infidelity [i.e. whether a person has become infidel], but to decide about someone that he/she has committed infidelity is the prerogative of judiciary." This clause in this Fatwa effectively makes the Pakistani judiciary subservient to every Islamic cleric.

14. "[T]he land of Pakistan at no time shall be allowed to be used for the propagation of any kind of terrorism, intellectual and practical training of terrorists, recruitment of terrorists, conducting terrorist activities in other countries and other such ulterior motives." Contrary to this official Fatwa, the Pakistani state is routinely and publicly allowing jihadi group Jaish-e-Muhammad to run teaching courses on "jihadi verses" across Pakistan as of February 2018.[14]

15. This clause in the joint declaration states: "Schools of thought and juristic denominations are there among Muslims from the early period of Islam"; "Ethics of disagreement shall be made part of the curriculum of public and private educational institutions." This is an honorable goal.

16. "[T]he state institutions and their officials are also bound to perform their duties in accordance with true Islamic teachings." This clause opens a wide field for government officials to interpret their religious actions as per their beliefs. Perhaps for this reason, the Islamabad High Court banned celebrations of Valentine's Day in 2016 and extended the ban this year.[15]

17. This clause sets a noble goal: "Building upon Islamic principles, the reconstruction of Pakistani society is imperative where democracy, liberty, equality, tolerance, harmony, mutual respect and justice are ensured. So that congenial atmosphere for peaceful coexistence is achieved."

18. This is a religiously prejudiced clause. It states: "Human dignity and respect for Muslims are to be ensured." As an aside, it also notes: "Further, to protect the rights of senior citizens, women, children, hermaphrodites, and all other underprivileged classes it is necessary to implement Shari'ah rulings on official and unofficial levels." It is extremely sad that this entire 121-page Fatwa is so prejudiced and hateful that it does not even consider the need to mention Pakistani Hindus, Pakistani Christians, Pakistani Sikhs, and Pakistani Jews (some live anonymously).

19. Further to Clause 18, this clause again does not deem that Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and Jews are words that should exist in Pakistan. But, it does mention: "Non-Muslims living in Pakistan enjoy all such civil and legal rights for the protection of their life, property and dignity that their fellow Muslims avail within the bounds of law and constitution." Practically, none of these rights, not even dignity, is available to non-Muslim Pakistanis. Even the word "minority" is pejorative and hateful in Pakistani society. Practically, Islam protects minorities only when it rules over them.

20. This clause is about women's rights as protected by Islam, but it is specifically about Muslim women and does not say anything about non-Muslim Pakistani women. It states: "In accordance with the teachings of Islam, women have right to vote, education and employment." This will effectively mean that non-Muslim Pakistani women's rights are not protected.

21. A major issue in Islamic societies nowadays is the use of loudspeakers and television by religious scholars to outdo rival sects. This clause states: "All forms of illegal use of loudspeaker shall be discouraged"; "Legal action shall be taken against the hate speeches delivered from the platform of mosque"; "Polemical discussions on religious topics on television channels are reprehensible and shall be declared cognizable crime." It remains to be seen how these points will be implemented.

22. This clause is meant to curb freedom of thought and expression in Pakistani society. It states: "Right of freedom of expression of the electronic media shall be regulated by law"; "Every program that damages Islamic identity of Pakistan shall be banned."

Chapters 6 through 10 give the names of writers and clerics who endorsed the Fatwa.

Chapter 5 – Unanimous Fatwa (May 26, 2017)

"The Message of Pakistan" also includes a fatwa issued by Islamic clerics at a May 26, 2017 seminar. This fatwa is included in Chapter 5. A fatwa is usually an Islamic legal opinion given in response to a question, or a set of questions. The 2017 fatwa was delivered in response to the following five questions: 1. "Whether Pakistan is an Islamic state or an un-Islamic state? Further, can a state be declared un-Islamic and its government and armed forces as non-Muslim if Shari'ah is not implemented in its entirety?" 2. " Under the given circumstances, is armed rebellion against the government or army permissible, in the name of struggle for implementation of Shari'ah?" 3. "Whether the Holy Koran and Sunnah provide any justification for suicide attacks that are being carried out all over Pakistan in the name of implementation of Shari'ah and jihad?" 4. "If the answer to the above three questions is in negative, then whether the actions taken by the government and armed forces of Pakistan to combat insurrection are permissible according to Shari'ah? Should the Muslims come forward and support these actions?" 5. "Several armed sectarian clashes are also taking place in our country aiming to impose one's ideology on others by force. Are these activities justified in Shari'ah?"

The 2017 fatwa mirrors the arguments in Chapters 1 through 4 discussed above, but there are additional points. In response to the first question, it says Pakistan is an Islamic state because "Article 31 of the Constitution provides detailed policy principles to enable the Muslims of Pakistan to order their lives in accordance with the Islamic way of life" and "in Article 227 it is affirmed that all existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Koran and Sunnah." It also notes that "merely due to some functional issues" declaring Pakistan "as infidel is not permissible, rather it is a sin."

To the second question, it responds: "Armed struggle against Pakistani government or its armed forces certainly fall within the category of rebellion that is categorically Haram (illegal) as per the Shari'ah." It also quotes a hadith (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 4768) according to which Prophet Muhammad said that a person can condemn an act of a ruler if he "indulges in an act of disobedience of Allah" but "should not withdraw himself from his obedience."  In response to the third question, the 2017 fatwa quotes the Koran verse 4:29 – "And do not kill yourselves" – and declares that "suicide is unacceptable in Islam." Similarly, it says a suicide attack to kill "another believer [i.e. Muslim]" is like a double crime forbidden by Koran verse 4:93, which says: "Whoever kills a believer deliberately – his recompense is Hell..."

It also presents a third scenario in which a non-Muslim is killed, not necessarily in a suicide attack, in an Islamic state. It quotes the Prophet Muhammad as saying that such killing violates "the covenant with Allah." All three types of suicide attacks discussed here fall silent on and therefore approve of killing non-Muslims in a non-Islamic state, notably in Kashmir. It is also interesting that the entire 121-page document is silent on the situation in Afghanistan. Since the discussion in the entire book is about Pakistan as the Islamic state, this silence potentially means that such suicide attacks are permitted in Afghanistan and Kashmir. It is known for sure that in the post-9/11 years Islamic clerics have issued many fatwas against jihad, forbidding it only in Pakistan. There is no mention of "Afghanistan" and "Kashmir" in the entire discussion within the context of the subject at issue: extremisms and jihad.

In response to the fourth question, the 2017 fatwa declares that anyone fighting against the government "in the name of implementation of Shari'ah" is "committing High Treason" against an Islamic state. To the fifth question, it declares that it is haram to kill each other on the basis of sectarian (Sunni-Shia) differences, and interestingly upholds Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which have become a source of daily nightmare for Pakistani non-Muslims. This 2017 fatwa was endorsed by the Jamia Naeemia madrassa of Karachi, with an "additional note," which in effect is not additional and practically supports the above line of argument to serve the Pakistani military and its ISI.

A 9-point summary of Chapter 5 also endorses the Pakistani military line. The peoples of India and Afghanistan, who are on the receiving end of the Pakistani military-sponsored jihadi war, will find absolutely nothing in this 121-page Message of Pakistan. If the state of Pakistan is sincere in offering equality and peace to non-Muslims within Pakistan itself, here is what it must do as a first step: abolish Article 41 (2) which states: "A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim." This will allow a non-Muslim Pakistani citizen to become the president of Pakistan and revolutionize the principle of equality that Islamic clerics say Islam teaches.

* Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative.


[1] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), January 17, 2018. In this dispatch, the spelling of English words and names within quotes has been standardized to conform to American English.

[2] Roznama Express (Pakistan), January 17, 2018.

[3] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), January 17, 2018.

[4] (Pakistan), January 16, 2018.

[6] (Pakistan), June 20, 2010.

[7] The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (as modified up to February 28, 2012), accessed February 24, 2018.

[8] The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (as modified up to February 28, 2012), accessed February 24, 2018.

[9], September 26, 2016.

[10] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), November 13, 2013.

[11] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 920 The Ideology And Politics Of Pakistani Religious Leader Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, January 15, 2013.

[15] The Nation (Pakistan), February 15, 2018.

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