July 11, 2007 No.

Who Are the Women in the Islamabad Standoff? A Look Inside the Jamia Hafsa Madarsa

The following report is the first from MEMRI's Urdu Media Project. The focus of this project is on translations from open-source Urdu language newspapers and websites. The primary sources will be material from Pakistan and its surrounding countries as well as media outlets and websites in Urdu in the U.K.


On July 3, 2007, after months of heightening tensions, gun battles erupted at the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between religious seminary students and Pakistani security forces. Also involved in the fighting have been young women from the adjacent Jamia Hafsa Madarsa, which is run by the same two clerics who head the Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi. In a July 8, 2007 interview in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abdul Aziz said that the women of Jamia Hafsa have been given training, at a secret location, in the use of automatic rifles and chemical weapons.[1]

Earlier, in January 2007, the women of Jamia Hafsa occupied a public building in protest against the destruction of several mosques illegally built on state property.

Following are translations, from Urdu, of two speeches delivered at a Jamia Hafsa rally following the destruction of the Amir Hamza Mosque, shown in a video on the Jamia Hafsa website ( The first speaker is student Hamna Abdullah, and the second is Umm Hassan, the wife of Maulana Abdul Aziz and director of the Jamia Hafsa Madarsa:[2]

"Our Bodies Will Fall, But Mosques Will Stand; Rivers of Our Blood Will Flow, But We Will Not Let the Greatness of Islam be Harmed"

The video opens with rolling text stating that seven mosques had been "martyred" in Islamabad, among them the Amir Hamza Mosque, which was destroyed on January 21, 2007. "Following this, the self-respecting female students of Jamia Hafsa occupied a government building, and the following demands were laid down: 1) that the Amir Hamza Mosque be rebuilt on the same site; 2) that assurances be given that in the future no mosque will be demolished in the capital.

"The Government [of Pakistan] did not accept these legitimate demands; instead, a warning was given that military action [would be taken against the students occupying the building]. Following this, the Student Action Committee organized a demonstration."

Then a female student, whose name is given as Hamna Abdullah, begins her speech: "…Self-respecting mujahid sisters and friends of Jamia Sayyida Hafsa: The stage we are in today is a moment of piety. On the one hand is the desire for martyrdom, and on the other hand is the joy of victory. On the one hand is the talk of dying, and on the other hand is the talk of becoming alive forever after dying.

"On the one hand, we are given threats, and on the other hand we too have resolved that even if our life is taken, we will not back down one step from our demands. Our bodies will fall, but mosques will stand. Rivers of our blood will flow, but [we] will not let the greatness of Islam be harmed.

"But, my sisters, this is not an issue for us alone. This issue is for the entire umma of Muhammad (PBUH). This issue is also for our president, our ministers, our police and military brothers, our brothers in administration, our students, and the public. But what is the issue?

"The issue is that, since our beloved country [Pakistan], which is more important to us than our lives, was established in the name of Islam, why is it that Islam has not been implemented here up to now? Since this country was established for Islam, why are Muslims humiliated here? Why is its land being made off-limits to Muslims? Since this country was established for Islam, why are the torchbearers of Islam being martyred here every day? Why are nakedness and [sexual] corruption being promoted in the country? Since this country was established for Islam, why are mujahideen being humiliated here? Since this country was established for Islam, why are Islam's forts – that is, mosques and madarsas – being demolished?

"Muslims, compatriots, listen: See that from the minarets of Masjid-e-Haram [in Mecca] the heart-rending calls are coming; the House of God [the Ka'ba] is saying: 'My daughters – that is, mosques – are being martyred along with the Koran, and you are sleeping. Six mosques were martyred earlier, and you kept sleeping. Now that the Amir Hamza Mosque has been martyred, the mujahid women students of Jamia Sayyida Hafsa have descended to the fields of jihad with shrouds tied on their heads, and they are waiting for you..." At this point the crowd begins shouting in Arabic: "Our path, our path – jihad, jihad!..." Hamna Abdullah continues: "Why don't you help them? Do you fear death? Death comes anyway…"

"My Great Daughters, Daughters Bathed in the Longing for Martyrdom… Rise, Wage Jihad – Allah Will Help You"

"Some say the time has not yet come to enter the field [of jihad]. Some say it is the time for education. Some say we do not have strength…

"Muhammad of Arabia (PBUH)… is sad, disheartened; he is sobbing that no one is seen rising up. And suddenly after that, the Hamza Mosque, along with the Koran, is martyred.

"Seven thousand female students of Jamia Sayyida Hafsa were sitting in the classrooms, were memorizing the Koran; courses on [hadith]… were being given. In the sacred atmosphere of the [study of] the Koran and the sunna, from the minarets of the Prophet's Mosque [in Medina], they heard the sobs. The Lord of Medina was troubled. The Lord of Medina was disheartened and was saying: 'Oh mujahid daughters, your country [Pakistan] was established for Islam, but 58 years have passed and Islam is being persecuted here. Mosque after mosque has been martyred, the sacredness of the Koran has begun to be razed, yet I do not see anyone rising up. Clouds of sadness prevail everywhere. Spiritual daughters of Maulana Abdullah Shaheed,[3] information has reached me that the police attacked you twice. You fought with much bravery and courage, you drove back the police. Your 100 female students were wounded, but you still stood your ground.'…"

Hamna Abdullah continues: "The Lord of Medina is saying: 'My great daughters, daughters bathed in the longing for martyrdom, daughters waiting for martyrdom: I do not see anyone rising up. No one is seen rising up for the dignity of mosques and the Koran. Thus you [must] stand up for jihad.'

"Oh Prophet of Allah, we are weak. We are the weaker sex, we do not have the strength – how do we wage jihad? Then, suddenly, you (peace be upon you) pay a visit in a girl's dream and offer one girl a shining sword, and say: 'Daughters, rise, wage jihad. Allah will help you.'

"Then the women students received the information that the Amir Hamza Mosque in Islamabad was martyred. Along with the Students' Action Committee, seven thousand women students entered the field of jihad. For the greatness of mosques, for the dignity of the Koran, for the sake of an Islamic system, decisions have been made to offer up lives, wills have been written, boats have been burnt… now it is either shari'a or martyrdom….

"Oh heirs of the prophets, oh Tablighi brothers, oh corps commandos, oh generals, oh soldiers, oh policemen, oh doctors, oh lawyers, oh college youths, oh mujahideen: Listen with attention and you too will hear the heart-rending calls of the minarets of Masjid-e-Haram [in Mecca] and the Prophet's Mosque [in Medina]. You too go to mosques, you too say prayers, you too recite the Koran. Mosques were falling, and time and again you only talked of entering the field of action – why don't you descend to the field [of jihad]? What answer will you give to God… tomorrow, on Judgment Day? Thus, there is still time to say your apologies [to God], and see that the seven thousand female students of Jamia Hafsa are holding forth for a week – despite the threats – for the greatness of mosques. Come, come fast and turn yourselves into a wall of molten glass…

"Since you all are ready to offer your life for Allah, then I say this to Allah: Oh Allah, this entire congregation is ready, offering [their] lives in their palms [stretched toward you]… Now the hands that rise against your mosques will be cut off."

"Oh Allah… In Return for Our Taking this Step, Pave the Way for an Islamic System"

Following Hamna Abdullah's speech, the crowd shouts slogans, and then Umm Hassan, the wife of Maulana Abdul Aziz and Director of the Jamia Hafsa, begins her speech:

"…Allah, the Lord who is the creator of you and us, is not the Lord of these infidels, these hypocrites, these cruel people. He says: 'I am not the god of infidels; I am the god of Muslims, of believers.' You and we have to ask from Allah… like we beseech our parents, by crying, by insisting… Oh Allah, we cannot bear it any longer. Implement the Islamic system in this country [Pakistan]… Oh Allah accept our lives in your path…

"Oh Allah, those who have the power come with that power [in front of us]; these rulers have the power of arms, the power of the system. Oh Allah, but we are the victims; we are very helpless, very weak… Oh Allah, accept these weak [female] children for taking this step for the sake of your religion… Oh Allah, strengthen their feet, raise the bar of their motivation… [and in return] for their taking this step, pave the way for an Islamic system.

"Oh Allah, since Pakistan was established, since we opened our eyes, we had heard that we had obtained this country for [the sake of] 'there is no God but Allah'… Oh Allah, since [we] opened [our] eyes, we have been seeing in this country that there is the rule of corruption, the rule of cruelty and atrocities, the rule of injustices. Oh Allah, the one who is powerful [i.e. the ruler] says 'I am the Nimrod on Earth, I am the Pharaoh, I am the biggest of all.'

"Oh Allah, this country wasn't built so that sisters would be robbed on streets even today, that brothers who take a step in your path should be martyred, that 'ulama who rise in your path should be martyred – and there is no one to question these murderers.

"Oh Lord and Creator, this is our crime: that we have kept sleeping until now. Oh Allah, forgive us for this crime of ours. Oh Allah, we have now risen; Oh Allah, keep us risen…

"My Lord, they have great force, [and] we don't have [any] force. My Lord, these are small, small [female] children, these are 18-year-old, 19-year-old, 20-year-old children… Oh Allah, these children have come from far and wide to learn your faith. To those who have turned away from you, it is not acceptable that these children be seen in burqas in Islamabad. Oh Creator and Lord, crush their intentions into dust. Oh Creator and Lord, crush their intentions into dust. Oh Lord, turn their intentions on their head. Oh Lord, turn their fate on them. Oh Allah, Oh Allah, raze the power of these powerful. Oh Allah, raze them. Oh Lord and Creator, raze them. Oh my Lord, Oh Allah, they are proud of their chairs [of power]. Oh Allah, destroy their chairs."

"[Even] If We Have to Give This Life for You in Your Path, We Will Not Back Down"

Umm Hassan continues: "… Oh Allah, we kept to [our] studies even if we had to eat just once [a day]… We endured when beaten a couple of times, and we never sobbed, never appealed. But now that your house [i.e. mosque] was destroyed, we could no longer bear it. We did what our hearts told us. Oh Allah, accept this action of ours…

"Allah, turn the hearts of these soldier-brothers, police-brothers in our favor… Oh Allah… this army is given training in order to defend Pakistan, to defend the people of Pakistan, to protect the honor of sisters. Oh Allah, their grouping [i.e. the army] has today turned on us… instead of turning on the enemy, it has turned on us. Oh Creator and Lord, give them guidance – they too have sisters and brothers, they too have relatives, they too have mothers and fathers, they too have daughters… Oh Creator and Lord, Oh Allah: if their fates do not deserve guidance, then take them in your catch…

"Oh Allah, whenever there be threat of attack – from humans or djinns or satans – protect us…

"Allah, decide your favors for us: grant [us] an Islamic system. Oh Creator, if a child calls her mother, 'ma ma ma,' then the mother answers 10 times; then these so many of your servants [daughters] are urging, have been urging for a week: Oh Creator and Lord, they have been standing alone… Come down for them, my Lord, come down for them, send your angels, send your angels. Allah, take these rulers in your catch…

"Allah you know threats are issued against us; we are intimidated at night, we are intimidated by day, 'We will do this [to you], we will do that'… Allah, [even] if we have to give this life for you in your path, we will not back down… My Lord, we have only one request of you: for so long we have been beaten; everywhere, 'ulama are mistreated – they all are declared fundamentalists for your sake, they are declared terrorists for your sake…

"Oh Allah, we are told sometimes that they [the 'ulama] are fundamentalists, sometimes it is said they are obscurantists, sometimes it is said they are illiterates… sometimes it is said they are terrorists. Oh Allah, we accepted all these allegations out of love for You.

"Oh Allah, now, at least, send Your aid. Give birth to a Muhammad bin Qasim,[4] give birth to a Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi [Saladin].

"Allah, this is such a big [Pakistani] army, a military the size of 1,200,000; is there not one brother in it who could become Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi, who could become Muhammad bin Qasim?...

"Allah, our young, our elders, our men, our women, our youths, our children – accept them all for your religion. Oh Allah, create a longing [in them] for living and dying for the sake of your religion…"


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 8, 2007.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), Julne 26, 2007.

[3] Maulana Abdullah Shaheed was the father of Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the two heads of the Lal Masjid and the Jamia Hafsa.

[4] Muhammad bin Qasim was the Muslim commander who conquered Punjab and the Sindh in the early 8th century C.E.