ISLAMABAD: As the controversy over Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Syed Munawar Hasan’s statement continues after a condemnation by the Pakistan Army, two fatwas (edicts) have been issued so far and both were given on the request of retired army officers.
While Mufti Taqi Usmani issued a Fatwa responding to the questions raised by Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz, an earlier decree issued by Lal Masjid cleric was based on the questions raised by Lt Col (retd) Mahmood-ul-Hassan. Both of them sent four questions each.
Shahid Aziz laid emphasis on the war in Afghanistan and Pakistani government’s decision to support the US, while Mahmood-ul-Hassan sought religious advice on participating in army operations inside Pakistan.
However, contrary to Mufti Taqi Usmani’s decree that has discouraged violence as a means to pressurise the government in reversing its policy of becoming ally of the US-led war against terrorism, Lal Masjid’s decree was far more radical that posed serious challenges to the discipline issues inside the armed forces and demoralised the soldiers.
The Lal Masjid’s 2004 Fatwa was circulated again to the media on Tuesday displaying its solidarity with JI Ameer as it was also accompanied by a statement extending him moral support without explaining how the latest controversy had vindicated the clerics’ position taken nine years ago.
Apparently, the fatwa was issued by Lal Masjid on the request of Lt Col (R) Mahmood-ul-Hassan, the slain journalist Saleem Shahzad had disclosed in his book that it was issued when al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Essa had approached the clerics.
As The News contacted Moulana Abdul Aziz, top cleric of Lal Masjid, he did not deny his meetings with Sheikh Essa but said the decree was issued when they received a set of questions from a retired army officer.
This decree earned the fury of the then President Gen Pervez Musharraf, the Moulana said, that culminated in July 2007 operation against Lal Masjid. “Musharraf had warned us of serious consequences for issuing this decree and the charges furnished at the time of operation were mere excuses to make that happen,” Moulana Abdul Aziz said.
Lal Masjid’s fatwa undoubtedly had a devastating impact on the army as it prohibited funeral prayers of the soldiers fighting against the militants and their burial in Muslim graveyards. This resulted in mounting pressure on the soldiers from within the families and refusal of several army men to go into the battlefield in Waziristan.