By West one way, by East another
Qadri, who espouses an admirable brand of moderate Islam in the West has claimed that it was he who, in the Zia-ul-Haq regime, helped incorporate section 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code, adding the death penalty to the blasphemy law.
With the Supreme Court set to announce the verdict in the Panama-gate case soon, Tahir-ul-Qadri was always going to spring back into the news. For, at least one party in question looks set to utilise his services as a seasonal revolutionary. But Tahir-ul-Qadri was in the news over the weekend for his other specialisation: jihadist deception.
On Up Front on Al-Jazeera with Mehdi Hasan, Qadri gave his latest fatwa against ISIS. “They are distorting Islam. They are exploiting the name of Islam. They are misusing the name of Ummah. They are misusing the name of Islamic caliphate”, he said.
Fair enough, what the Islamic State has been doing includes some acts that even the most radical interpretations of orthodox Islam don’t allow. And of course the more scholars call out ISIS and any forms of jihadism, the better it is for Islamic reformation and indeed the Muslim world.
Two years ago, Qadri’s Minhaaj-ul Quran International (MQI) announced the launch of the first Islamic ‘counter-terrorism curriculum’ in the UK, amidst rise of European Muslims – especially British – joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Qadri’s counter-terrorism curricula was an offshoot of his fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombings. And it absolutely cannot be stressed enough, just how much the Muslim world needs such edicts.
So far so good then? Not quite.
Notwithstanding the imprudent theological apologia that forms the entirety of the ‘counter-terror’ curricula, completely negating any ideological influence over acts of terror – which Qadri loves to give sweeping fatwas over – it is the MQI Chief’s duplicity that is the most damaging for reformism.
For, the honest cleric that upholds the literal interpretations of the scripture can be shunned as outmoded, it is the mullah that sells different arguments to different audiences that is significantly more dangerous than the hardliner.
Qadri, who espouses an admirable brand of moderate Islam in the West is the self-professed scribe of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He has claimed on multiple occasions that it was he who, in the Zia-ul-Haq regime, helped incorporate section 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code, adding the death penalty to the blasphemy law.
He is on record saying that “blasphemers should be killed like dogs” (YouTube it) and hence has a stake in responsibility for all those extra-judicially killed, tortured or imprisoned in the past three decades since 295-C was added to the Penal Code.
This art of deception isn’t exclusive to Tahir-ul-Qadri. It isn’t uncommon for those representing the Muslims in the West to adhere to doublespeak – selling moderation to the others, while fanning extremism in mosques and other Islamic organisations.
What is truly astounding, however, is the fact that the likes of Qadri manage to play this double game in the digital era, where anything and everything that is on the web can be – and will be – dug out.
The persona the Qadri dons when he’s in the middle of one of his seasonal revolutions in Pakistan is in complete contrast to what he depicts on international channels. For instance, he has said on multiple Western channels that no one should be killed for blasphemy, claiming that Islam doesn’t endorse capital punishment for it.
In Pakistan he extols martyrdom, using the word Shaheed to such a frequency that it has been immortalised through memes and satirical videos. But in the West he talks about valuing life and give importance to this world.
The best part is that all of this is on record, easily verifiable on the internet. But not only does Qadri continue to play the double role of a moderate reformist and a jihad-monger, seemingly no one in Pakistan – let alone his faithful – is interested in asking him questions over his duplicitous ideological positions.
Whenever Qadri comes to Pakistan next – and it should be very soon, not only due to the Panama Case verdict in the apex court, but also because of the looming elections – someone from the media should compile a package with all of Qadri’s statements endorsing a tolerant brand of Islam, condemning jihad and delegitimising the blasphemy law.
He should then be asked, in front of the local audiences, whether the blasphemy law is a farce or if it’s a bona fide legislation spearheaded by Qadri himself.
For, more than the West it is Muslim states like Pakistan where “revisionism” on the blasphemy law and radical Islam is most needed.