DUBAI // 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 12 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.