The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Pakistan’s top religious forum, has declared violence against a person on allegations of blasphemy contrary to Shariah and Islamic principles.
The CII’s observations come amid a spike in incidents of religiously-motivated mob violence in the country.
In a statement, the CII called for the constitution of a national commission that would make recommendations for preventing violent incidents in the name of religion.
The statement was issued after a CII meeting presided over by the body’s chairperson, Dr Qibla Ayaz, in the federal capital.
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It said the meeting participants revisited the discussion of a CII meeting on December 20, 2021, which was called over the Sialkot lynching incident in which Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara was tortured to death and his body set on fire by a mob over allegations of blasphemy.
The need for improving the judicial system to prevent the recurrence of Sialkot-like incidents was stressed in the Dec 20 meeting.
In Wednesday’s meeting, the CII members “again declared that subjecting any person to violence on allegations of dishonouring religion, desecration of the holy Quran and Namoos-i-Risalat was against Shariah, inhumane and contrary to Islamic principles”, the statement said.
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Council members called for taking to task the elements involved in the Sialkot lynching at the earliest so that “the nation’s confidence in the law and judicial system is restored”. In this regard, they further pointed out that the “bigger issue is that of implementation of the law and uncertainty about [the suspects] being punished”.
The participants also expressed concerns over similar incidents in the recent past, particularly referring to the Khanewal lynching as well as violence in Swabi and Kahror Pacca.
“This meeting once again staunchly condemns such incidents and expresses deep sorrow over them. Such brutal torture by a violent mob is neither logical nor in line with the injunctions of the religion,” the statement read.
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It added that CII members suggested that ahadith and verses of the holy Quran pertaining to humanity and the protection of lives and properties be displayed with translation in mosques, imambargahs, monasteries and educational institutions.
They further recommended that timings be fixed for discussion on such verses and ahadith on media platforms, especially television programmes.
“This special meeting suggests to the government that a national commission be formed, with psychologists and experts of sociology, law and religion as its members, that will make short-term and long-term recommendations for the prevention of such incidents (that involve violence over blasphemy allegations) so as to end them,” the statement said. “This commission will also make recommendations for improving the nation’s behaviour.”
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The CII further called for measures to restore the traditional family system, that it said was on a decline due to various national and international factors.
The council also appreciated the inclusion of Paigham-i-Pakistan — a fatwa against terrorism — in parliament’s agenda and said the provincial assemblies should follow suit.
After the meeting, Dr Ayaz addressed a press conference, where he reiterated the CII’s suggestions and views shared by its members.
He said that delays in the punishments of actual culprits guilty of disrespecting the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was giving rise to incidents that took place in Sialkot and Khanewal, and subjecting any person to violence over blasphemy allegations was against Shariah.
Dr Ayaz again stressed that culprits of the Sialkot incident be punished at the earliest.