Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Flees Pakistan

Members of Islam’s clerical class are not well known for bucking popular consensus especially if it means siding with Pakistan’s microscopic secular minority to repeal its toxic Blasphemy Law. One notable and extraordinary exception is Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a prominent Sunni scholar who has condemned Salman Taseer’s murder, attacked the Blasphemy Law and declared that Islamic councils are “telling lies to the people”. He has said all this at the cost of endangering the lives of his family although, understandably enough, Ghamidi has fled to Malaysia for his own safety.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi - in hiding

“The blasphemy laws have no justification in Islam. These ulema [council of clerics] are just telling lies to the people,” said Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a reformist scholar and popular television preacher.

“But they have become stronger, because they have street power behind them, and the liberal forces are weak and divided. If it continues like this it could result in the destruction of Pakistan.”

Ghamidi, 59, is the only religious scholar to publicly oppose the blasphemy laws since the assassination of the Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, on 4 January. He speaks out at considerable personal risk.

Ghamidi spoke to the Guardian from Malaysia, where he fled with his wife and daughters last year after police foiled a plot to bomb their Lahore home. “It became impossible to live there,” he said.

Their fears were well founded: within months Taliban gunmen assassinated Dr Farooq Khan, a Ghamidi ally also famous for speaking out, at his clinic in the north-western city of Mardan.

The scholar’s troubles highlight the shrinking space for debate in Pakistan, where Taseer’s death has emboldened the religious right, prompting mass street rallies in favour of his killer, Mumtaz Qadri.

Liberal voices have been marginalised; many fear to speak out. Mainstream political parties have crumbled, led by the ruling Pakistan People’s party, which declared it will never amend the blasphemy law.

Sherry Rehman, a PPP parliamentarian who proposed changes to the legislation, was herself charged with blasphemy this week. Since Taseer’s death she has been confined to her Karachi home after numerous death threats, some issued publicly by clerics.

Although other Islamic scholars share Ghamidi’s views on blasphemy, none dared air them so forcefully. “Ghamidi is a voice of reason in a babble of noises seemingly dedicated to irrationality,” said Ayaz Amir, an opposition politician and opinion columnist.

Ghamidi’s voice stands out because he attacks the blasphemy law on religious grounds. While secular critics say it is abused to persecute minorities and settle scores, Ghamidi says it has no foundation in either the Qur’an or the Hadith – the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. “Nothing in Islam supports this law,” he said.

Ghamidi deserted the country’s largest religious political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, to set up his own school of religious teaching. He came to public attention through a series of television shows on major channels. They were cancelled due to opposition from the mullahs, he said. “They told the channels there would be demonstrations if I wasn’t taken off air.”

Three years ago gunmen fired a pistol into the mouth of the editor of Ghamidi’s magazine; last year the police foiled a plot to bomb his home and school. Now the school is closed.

The core problem, Ghamidi said, was the alliance between Pakistan’s “establishment” – code for the military – and Islamist extremists it uses to fight in Kashmir and Afghanistan. “They are closely allied,” he said.

The blasphemy debate has exposed painful rifts in Pakistani society. One Ghamidi follower said his father, a British-educated engineer, called him an infidel for attacking the controversial law. “Our society is tearing itself apart,” he said.

This article from the Guardian also contains this depressing little snippet:

Tariq Dhamial, a lawyer representing Mumtaz Qadri, said more than 800 lawyers had offered to represent the self-confessed killer. “Everyone is behind Qadri. Doctors, teachers, labourers, even police – they believe he did the right thing,” Dhamial said.Dhamial said the police intended to hold Qadri’s trial in jail but the lawyers wanted it heard in open court. The latest hearing is due next Tuesday.

In other words, the likelihood that Ghamidi’s protests will be heeded are less than a snowball’s chance in hell.

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18 Comments

  1. yaq
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    Pakistan is officially insane in the membrane.

  2. Aadil
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    ye ulimaa sirf baatil pe muttafiq hotay han, Haq par nai. Yahan par bhi same situation hai. Allah ne sirf 2 crimes ki punishment qatal rakhi hai, 1 qatl-e-amad, aur 2 Fasaad fil-arz. Agar blosophamy ki ka lafz bhi Allh add kar deta to koi problem nai thi, magar wo jaanta hai k kon kon se crimes qabl-e-saza han aur kon se nai. Lekn ulimaa k khiaal main Khuda ko shaaid es baat ka ilm nai tha, our in ko ilm ho gia kih k 1 3rd crime bhi hai jis ki sza qatal honi chahiay. Morover kisi saheeh rwaait main bhi es jurm ki sza qatal ka hukam nai dia gia. Bulkih es ko bhi chorain, Imam Abu Hanifa jin ki ye sari qaum Muqallid honay ka daawa karti hai, onhon ne to ye kaha hai kih, “Zimmi ko Ihaanat ki wajah se qatal nai kia jaa sakta q k wo to pehlay he shirk kar chukay han jo k is se bara gunah hai”.

    Q. Lekn maen ne suna hai ki Fuqhaa k nazdeek Blosophamy ki sza qatal hai… ?
    Ans. G aap ne sahi suna hai, magar asal hqaaiq kia hain es k peechay ye ulimaa danista tor pe aap ko nai btatay. Allah in ko zaroor poochay ga.
    Imam Abu hanifa ka qaul to aap ne sun lia, ab main aap ko btata hoon ki DEEGAR fuqhaa k nazdeek “blosophamy ki sza qatal” k maani kia han.
    Asal main Foqha k nazdeek Murtad ki sza qatal hai, aour jo Muslim toheen-e-Risalat karta hai wo on k nazdeek murtad ho jaata hai, es liay os ko bhi qatal kia jaae ga. Aur in dono main bara farq hai.Yani 1. Ihanat karne walay ko qatal karna; aur 2. Ihaanat wala Choon k murtad ho gia hai es liay os ko qatal karna. Agar baat aap par wazih nai hui to hum aap ko btaain gay k en maen kia farq hai

    Lihaza es baar bhi hasb-e-mamool ye ulimaa baatil pe muttafiq han.

  3. Aadil
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

    ab zra aagay suniay k Fuqhaa k nazdeek Murtad ko sza di kaise jaae gi.. Deen se phirne walay ko 3 din ki mohlat di jaae gi kih wo apne iqrar-e-kufar se wapis phir jaae, aur es doraan baaqaaida os ko samjhaaia jaaie ga, agar phir bhi wo baaz na aae to os k qatal k baray main decesion lia jaae ga.
    Magar Rana sahb, aap ne abhi tak 1 baat pe ghor nai kia, aur wo ye k Murtad ki sza main asal ahmiyat Mulzam k iqrar ko hasil ho gi, alzam ko nai. Yani alzam lgnay k baad mulzim iqrar-e-eman karta hai to wo bariuzzimah ho jata hai.
    Magar ulimaa k Mutabiq to iqrar ki koi ahmiyat nai rehti! Kia yahi situation nai hai Aasia bibi k case ki?
    Yani agar ye qanoon Fuqhaa Ikram ki raai k mutabiq bhi bnaaia jaae to es ka ittelaq Musalms pe ho ga.
    Isi tnazar main albatta deegar fuqhaa ne kaha hai k agar koi ghair muslim Ihanat ka jurm karta hai aur phir wo baar baar Israr k saath karta hai to phir os ko qatal karne k baaray maen socha jaae ga.
    Magar hm,aaray Ulimaa ne Islam ka (maazallah) bhianak naqsha pesh kia hai. Ab aap faisla kar leejiay k hmaaray muaashray ka nasoor kon hai?

  4. Mohammad
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 1:44 AM | Permalink

    Pakistanis have been given many gifts, one of which is aql. If the objective is to protect minorities then there are ways to do this. We have a saying: “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”

    For example by removing all blasphemy cases from local jurisdiction and imposing an equally heavy sentence on those that make false allegations.

    If the objective is to wallow in global humiliation then sure, tackle the issue in a way that any goat-herder can see is going to create more harm than good.

    Not a perfect comparison but you may have read about attempts in the UK to have Israeli officials arrested on their visits to the UK. As per English law, judges would issue warrants based on evidence of a case to answer (war crimes etc), but someone would tip off the Israelis. In time this got tiresome and there was a diplomatic incident. The UK government did not change its laws, its simply decreed that any such cases would in future require the signed authorisation of the attorney general. So now Israeli policitians can rest easy.

    Any government would be insane to trample on deeply held – and widely held – sentiments. It is a real curiosity to see Pakistanis in favour of human rights tackle it in the most confrontational manner possible.

  5. RAO
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

    WELL SAID.
    We unfortunate muslims take Ghamdi as a snow ball only.Someone can question that Muslim dont have proper scholars ,but cannot they see ,listen and read this person who is just a hope of light for muslim and non muslim societies .Whenever I read/listen to Ghamdi I feel that he only try to tell what Ullah and his Rasool wish.It is not exaggeration to say that Ghamdi is the ever best scholar produced by islam after sahaba ikram uptil now.
    How mad /idiot /stupid we muslims are gone that we should feel ashamed that how we are behaving now a days.I dont blame any body for that ,we have to change ourselves ,we have to live in this era ,as islam is for all eras we have to stop blame games to others.
    PAKISTANIS cannot say that Ullah has not given them chance
    They have JAVED AHMED GHAMDI AS ISLAMIC SCHOLAR
    AND IMRAN KHAN AS POLITICAL LEADER
    RAO

  6. Asama
    Posted January 28, 2012 at 6:28 AM | Permalink

    In today’s world where so many things are said against Islam,So many articles, books and organizations building up each day. Little is being done on that. And where a Muslim scholar is speaking sense based on QURAN, he is being treated in an absolute barbaric way. Isn’t it killing the voice of truth. killing the very fundamental right of any human being on earth???

  7. Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    Ghamidi is good scholar and thinking is nice . As he admin in his interviews , he had no attachment to religion before but he studied most of religios writer.
    He is scared to death , he coldn’t face the people in Pakistan.
    People with sense of Quran and realy undestod the Quran , like Allama Iqbal , Sir Sayyed Khan , Allama mashraqi and Allama Pewez , lived same places whole life , even they blamed as Qafir.
    He have learned lot of things from above scholars but have learned to breve and trust God.

  8. Amin
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 7:21 AM | Permalink

    It is not exaggeration to say that Ghamdi is the ever best scholar produced by islam after sahaba ikram uptil now.

    Really? It’s not an exaggeration. Just insane.

  9. Posted March 27, 2012 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

    Gamidi is no dought is a genuan islamic scholerhe is the single man whoexposd islam correctly wherever whenever he get a chance to review on islam he complited his duty honestly i am asikh using my friend e mail from this platform iwhould like to say good you did find good way to servive yourself one thing gamidi sahib you have to think why you left pakistan even you was on right way i think you did not speak lie in your life and which were your lecture speaches regarding the islan was according the quran and sunna even a great service people did not bear to you as a scholer they forced to you leave the country same like ahmadies are ahmadies were wrong in your eyes if yes this mean you are also wrong in rest of the pakistan nation

  10. Ak
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

    Ghamdi,s opinion
    1. He doesn’t believe that Issa (Jesus) pbuh will come back. He denies the authentic hadith of the Prophet pbuh in sahih Al-bukhari in this regard. watch youtube video
    2. He says woman could be a leader, denying again the hadith mentioned about daughter of khusro in Sahih Bukhari.
    3. He says hanging the trouser below the ankle is not a sin, denying again sahih Al Bukhari.
    4. He believes that coming of imam mahdi is a fairy tale. denying ahadith again.
    I can go on and on to tell you about his misbelieves.
    Now you imagine, is he a true religious scholar or otherwise?
    and for those who say he is a great scholar after sahaba. plz don’t be so genorous. After sahaba, imams Abu hanifa, shafai, malik, Ahmad bin Hanbal and Sufian sauri, Abdullah bin mubarak, even the Great Imam BUKHARI came and there is a list of many more. Is ghamdi greater than them???? that’s absurd to say

  11. Nevermind
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    He says hanging the trouser below the ankle is not a sin, denying again sahih Al Bukhari.

    Inform us, O learned one, what is the ruling on which end of an egg should be cracked open first, the little end or the big end? What did PBUH do, back whenever, for posterity to emulate?

    What? There is no hadith in Bukhari addressing this vitally important subject?? How can this be??? Who has tampered with the texts????

    Kill the infidels!!!!!

  12. juice
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Heh, Nevermind. :)

  13. Ghamidi_IS_Blessing
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    I pray to Allah for Ghamidi long and healthy life. If he fleed to Malaysia it is best for Muslims. He is one of the greatest living scholar in our time. Every part of of his life give us true picture of his correct practice and love of Prophet. So called illetrate Mullahs curse him but he never curse them back with single word.

    Reply to AK: As far as 4 points you mention does not make any one Kafir. He provide his views based on Quran and Sunnah. I believe you are also raised as listening Mullahs in pakistan so you never opend book your self.

    In every issues the great scholar Ghamidi always tell us think your self read more about it…did you ? when you do this be open and honest.

  14. exmuslim
    Posted September 8, 2012 at 6:07 AM | Permalink

    “The core problem, Ghamidi said, was the alliance between Pakistan’s “establishment” – code for the military – and Islamist extremists it uses to fight in Kashmir and Afghanistan. “They are closely allied,” he said.”

    While this is true, the core problem lies much deeper than that. The root of the core problem is Islam itself.

  15. abdul raziq
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

    we as a muslim and as a pakiatani nation are very unfortunate that we have lost javed sab like great scholar but we r praying for his long life he as adopted a sunna for migrating he will always be remembered as a true islamic scholar

  16. ghulam haider
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    indeed we miss him very much

  17. ali
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

    Ghamdi sahb and his team well done his person work is good

  18. Altaf
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    The discussion on the forum is valued. We should consider couple of factors before passing comment. I have been listening Mr. Ghamdi and i mostly support his views. He himself says that if one belongs to a certain school of thought doesnt have majority, should wait unless he is in a position to declare his stance. Pakistan is a country where people admit blasphemy law to be correct, so declaring it incorrect itself is an opening of a free of cost fsaad. In addition, when the liberals gain power through masses’ support, then they can freely declare the law a fake and illegal act. Im not going into the law being correct or incorrect, i just say that the minority should wait unless gains majority.

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