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Profile: Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri


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In this Jan 9, 2013, photo, Tahirul Qadri speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Lahore. — Photo by AP/File

Introduction Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri was born on Feb 19, 1951 and hails from Jhang, Pakistan. It is believed that Qadri, a Canada-based religious scholar, was exposed to Christianity and Islam at an early stage of his life as he attended a Christian school in Jhang. He studied Hadith and the fundamental principles of Islam from the Muhaddith al-Hijaz.

Later on in his academic career, he studied law at the University of Punjab and graduated with an undergraduate degree in the same discipline in 1974 as a valedictorian. He also taught at Punjab University and pursued his doctorate in Islamic law.

Qadri is a multi-linguist and can fluently speak Urdu, Punjabi, English, Arabic and Persian which makes him popular amongst religious scholars from multiple countries.

Establishment of Minhaj ul Quran

Qadri founded Minhaj ul Quran in October 1981. The organisation aims to operate on the philosophy of abridging the communication gap between different communities and religions and of promoting peace by educating young minds about classical Islamic sciences. Since its inception, the organisation has spread its network in over 90 countries. In 2011, the United Nations Economic and Social Council granted special consultative status to the said organisation.

Qadri is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Minhaj University Lahore which provides education in multiple disciplines such as social, management and religious sciences.

Political career Qadri founded a political party called the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in May 1989. The main objective of the party was to provide law and order measures for the general public, respect for human rights, elimination of poverty and quality education for all. In 1990, members from the PAT contested for the general elections and later on Qadri was elected as a member of the National Assembly. However, he resigned from his seat on Nov 29, 2004.

Ideology on suicide attacks and terrorism

On March 2, 2010, Qadri issued a historic 600-page-long religious decree or fatwa on suicide bombings citing references from the holy Quran, Hadiths and texts from various Islamic scholars. His fatwa aimed to highlight the importance of peace in Islam and the fact that suicide bombings are strictly prohibited in the religion. The fatwa also quoted that people who indulged in such practices were equivalent to non-believers. His work also cited references from Islamic history urging the government to eliminate terrorism from its roots. He also travelled to India in 2012 to launch his book based on the aforementioned religious decree.

Canadian connection

Qadri has been living in Canada since 2005 where he also acquired Canadian citizenship. Qadri says he can more effectively manage his international network from the North American country.

His sudden return to Pakistan in Dec 2012, to "save the state, not your politics", after having spent nearly seven years in Canada, has been a subject of debate and discussion among the country's political circles.

Current status

In December 2012, Qadri addressed a large audience at the Minar-i-Pakistan saying that the current system adopted by the government had failed and if the military intervened in the future, he would be the first Pakistani to protest against it. He gave an ultimatum to the current government and further said that if the situation failed to improve until Jan 10, 2012, he would lead a long march to Islamabad.

On Jan 1, 2013, Qadri with his newly-found ally, Altaf Hussain, chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), vowed to turn Islamabad into the Tahrir Square of Pakistan on Jan 14, 2013. He said that on the aforementioned day ‘millions’ of peaceful demonstrators would pour into the capital to install what was described as a neutral and independent caretaker set-up for introducing what he called long overdue electoral reforms.

Qadri’s agenda is not popular with many leading politicians who are all set to participate in the upcoming general elections, especially Chief of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif who has called Qadri’s views an 'imported agenda' aimed to disrupt the electoral process.

On Jan 11, the MQM backed out of its previous announcement of participating in the long march citing “serious security threats” soon after a series of blasts killed over 100 people in Quetta. Qadri, however, said the march would be held in accordance with the original plans.

Comments (46) Closed

Nony Jan 13, 2013 05:48am
I did not know there is anything called Islamic science and religious science !!
AA Jan 13, 2013 07:59am
I am just curious how he managed to run this Chaotic March starting Monday where did get funding. Religious scholar mainly Muslim do not make that much money in North American country like Canada.
shafiq tanoli Jan 14, 2013 05:54pm
Shahid Latif Jan 13, 2013 07:23pm
Timings of Moulana TQ and his vague demands are raising suspicions. His long march will only add to the frustration and chaos which will provide opportunities to certain interested quarters. There is no shortcut to developing democratic culture and traditions and solution to managing the economy of enormous population.
Mehreen Jan 13, 2013 08:50am
So he resigned from his membership of National Assembly in 2004 and went to Canada. Impressive! Could it be possible that his march may just be a stunt to be back in politics with a bang knowing that elections are not too far. But does Pakistan need another Moulana in its political scene? Have we not enough of this religion based politics?
ali Jan 13, 2013 06:59am
Let democracy continue problems will solve gradually, if we can afford forty years of dictatorship why can't we afford ten or twenty years of continuous democracy, no one can bring change overnight, let political system improve itself from within
Jehanzeb Idrees Jan 13, 2013 07:02am
Even after spending 7 years in Canada, the guy spent 55 years of his 62 year's life in Pakistan and can in no way be called as "a Canada-based religious scholar". Dawn should stay objective and steer away from such nonsense of 'labeling' people.
Jehanzeb Idrees Jan 13, 2013 06:58am
I wish you would have given a more decent and respectable example.
Dr sarfaraz khan Jan 13, 2013 08:24am
Democracy is never an islamic idea of government. it is not compatible with pakistani nation as well. it only divedes a nation into parties which fight against each other all the time. military should take over. At least president of pakistan must be serving chief of army to keep a strict check on institutions and departments whenever they intend to go astray..
Mehreen Jan 13, 2013 10:01pm
Before agenda comes the personality.
sja Jan 13, 2013 10:02pm
I just saw that a reporter asked the Dr how is his long MARCH going --- I could not stop laughing at his reply this LONG MARCH ---- is this a LONG MARCH OR A LONG DRIVE--- he is seated in an armored container on 16 wheel and being driven at the 100 kmph speed what kind of a humanly MARCH IS THAT. He is on a long drive and calls its a MARCH --- two different things ---- secondly, he wants the elections laws changed but what is the guarantee that only his liked people will be elected. IN 65 years this nation has alwayes elected corrupt people. May Allah guide all of us Pakistan to understand there is a BIG DIFFERENCE IF YOU ARE ON A LONG DRIVE on WHEELS and ON a LONG MARCH ON TWO HUMAN FEET --------------------- I am not an AALIM but fully understand the difference between a MARCH and LONG DRIVE. ------------ the long intended drive to be the PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN at all COSTS. IF YOU CANNOT GET ELECTED GET THE ELECTION REFORMS and find a way to the top job in Pakistan.
Riaz Jan 13, 2013 11:22am
Riaz Jan 13, 2013 11:16am
With corrupt feudal mafia that puts the devil to shame, unless the monopoly of the two main parties that nurture and sustain rampant corruption in Pakistan, participation of new personalities in politics is an extreme necessity, or things will keep on getting worse.
Mehreen Jan 13, 2013 09:23pm
This is a very valid question. Has this guy ever declared his assets and income?
Riaz Jan 13, 2013 11:37am
Saqib Jan 13, 2013 05:39pm
Exposed to Christianity! what does that mean. You media people write whatever you think right without anticipating. "Shaykh-ul-Islam was born on February 19, 1951 in the historical city of Jhang, Pakistan, and is the son of the great spiritualist and intellectual of his time ash-Shaykh Dr Farida
A Sheikh Jan 13, 2013 12:13pm
Complete agree with Riaz. My only issue is the article has given some background information but did not discuss his agenda. We need to know if this is his sincere effort for the sake of country or something else going on behind the scene.
POLICE Jan 13, 2013 04:41pm
He wants that prevailing system of pakistan politics needs to be changed. As this system favours only elite community to rule over masses and under their rule, people of pakistan are neither happy nor they are provided with that much justice,welfare and prosperity as they can be; by such a ruling government which has mna'/mpa' of non-elite class.
umesh bhagwat Jan 14, 2013 11:01am
Properly handled Qadri will go the same way as Anna Hazare!
undying_lament Jan 14, 2013 08:54am
where was this "savior" the past 4 years? All of a sudden, he's trying to pull some stunt when the Govt. is about to finish its tenure. doesn't seem fishy at all
Immad Jan 14, 2013 04:09am
@Ali, did he tell this to you that he wants to be caretaker PM or you are just spitting out your poison
Immad Jan 14, 2013 04:04am
@ Shahid Latif, change election process to be transparent, more scrutiny on the election participants to disallow corrupts and neutral caretaker government. Which of these demands seem vague to you?
ateeq rehman Jan 13, 2013 01:30pm
Dr tahir ul qadri is pride of muslim ummah.
Akram Jan 13, 2013 01:25pm
Nawaz Sharif who has called Qadri
AzadDunya Jan 12, 2013 07:34pm
if respected Maulana is so concerned about Pakistan, its people and Democracy. My humble advise for him to take care of Innocent Shia's in Quetta and elsewhere and divert his prepossession towards Quetta and bring Islamabad to her Knees until the Killers of the Hazaras are caught and punished. I guess it is not in his interest and he does not need popularity among Shia's because they are in minority. Is he more popular in masses than Zulfiqar Bhutto, see what happened.
Gulbaz Mushtaq Jan 12, 2013 08:09pm
Nawaz Sharif is right when he says Qadri
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 08:12pm
This isn't politics as usual. Pakistan is going to wake up, or Pakistan is going to die in bed asleep. If the generals are patriotic and care about the country they will sort themselves out. Time for men to be men, and for women and children to hide under their beds.
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 08:19pm
The killers of the Hazaras may be in Punjab and Sindh, hiding in plain sight.
shoaib Jan 12, 2013 08:32pm
or rather quetta people get up and bring there dead in front of parliament house and then put their demands right in the face of these politicians. and if you have heard the demands of Dr. Qadri what he is asking is synonym to what those people are asking (Government has failed they should be thrown out and new people should come through a credible way)
gangadin Jan 12, 2013 08:38pm
Any one old enough to remember Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan's long march before first martial law in 1958? These marches don't do any good for the public in general except to disrupt life for a few days and divert attention from the real problems of the society.
Mirza Jan 12, 2013 08:40pm
At age 61 he doesn't seem to have a lot of impressive achievements under his belt. Hence his CV is possibly not as strong as other illustrious beings hailing from famous Jhang. See what I mean.
Fbasheera Jan 12, 2013 08:52pm
Agree get rid of the selfish govt and politicians who have destroyed the country and filled their own pockets we are rotting now because of our evaders all of them it's time to give sacrifice and get rid of them all
Rehan Jan 12, 2013 09:03pm
I don't think you know but recently a main shia party met with him and backed him. I think it was Majlis Wahdat al muslameen so he has the backing of shia and has thanked them.
Syed Ahmed Jan 12, 2013 09:41pm
A true change is required - a change that punishes the cheaters, decoits and morally corrupt people sitting in the parliament and manning the government and enforce the rule of law. People must have food security, security of life and propertyand basic amenities.
rajah Jan 12, 2013 09:42pm
In 2011, the United Nations Economic and Social Council granted special consultative status to the said organisation. Please review and read between the lines to understand Mr Qadri's agenda.
Indian Jan 12, 2013 10:17pm
No wonder Rehman Mallik calls the march an attack on democracy - his view of democracy. I believe this is awakening of Pakistan and the world should welcome this. Is this the wave of "Pakistani Spring"?
AzadDunya Jan 12, 2013 10:29pm
May Allah keep the country safe. If that's what it takes to stop killing of all Citizen's by all means. I will still belong to some country, whatever may be.
Vikram Jan 13, 2013 10:25am
Army provide security for Qadri's and his team,Enough of incidents such as Benazir Butto like assassinations.
malik Jan 13, 2013 12:08am
Whatever you and I think, we have not done anything to change the current situation. Shame on all of us, shame on all of us a 100 times, as our poor brothers and sisters are dying from hunger, disease and lack of basic human things. We should have demanded or changed it by ourselves.Look at his message and use it as a catalyst. Hang the corrupt, the vile and the killers no matter what house they sit in and the party they belong to.
Ali Jan 13, 2013 12:12am
The most greedy person on earth. He just wants to be caretaker PM by hook or crook. He has tried it many times but failed. He is an actor and greedy
Shahpur Jan 13, 2013 12:13am
Somebody should do something. What will be the end game of this violence in Pakistan. Political system in Pakistan is a JOKE, and it is sad. I am glad to see people like QADRI. GOD will protect him. What a journey from DATA DARBAR to BARI IMAM.
Najam Osman Jan 13, 2013 12:22am
I been a fan of Shaikhul Islam Tahirul Qadri Saheb because of his ideologies that those engaged in extremism, terrorism or killing a single innocent human soul are enemies of peace and humanity. I am surprised and dishearted that how Qadri saheb himself had indulged into such extremist political vrnture. Quadri Saheb should have learned a lesson by now that, how his strongly supporting politicians just till a few days before, have backed-off and deserted him one by one same like the so staunch supporters of Syedna Imam Hussain had backed off and disowned him by the time of his arrival at Kufah. For us the life of Quadri Saheb is much precious for spiritual guidance of his followers and the Ummah. I very humbly appeal to him not to waste his God gifted qualities of leadership and talents for the dirty politics of Pakistan.
Mehreen Rehman Jan 13, 2013 11:33pm
Firstly, I don't think the world 'new personalities' resonate with Tahirul Qadri. Secondly, the political process is there and working else he wouldn't have won the election to become member of the National Assembly. Of course, nobody denies that a lot is desired to be improved in Pakistan political system but I think we should first learn to question and evaluate the candidacy of people who aspire to be our leaders in order to entrust them with any responsibilities or to pay attention to their agenda. To S.A.M (who commented on my comment on "marching to a different beat?" where Dawn has now closed new comments/reply) I would say that I only said what is pragmatic. With the Indian air chief making veiled threats and Baluchistan bleeding and so much unrest all over the country it makes no sense for this march. As I said above, if there is no fair election as alleged then how come Mr. Qadri was elected to NA in the first place. He chose to leave the country. He chose to run his international network then work for his constituency. S.A.M and Riaz please think over whom are you regarding as a new comer?
Ahmed Saeed Jan 13, 2013 02:07pm
Let him reform the system and throw out the corrupt. At the end of the day what harm will he bring to Pakistan if PML(N) and PPP are shown the door. After all he is saving Pakistan.
Hakim Jan 13, 2013 03:20am
I hope military does not try to stop the democratic process. They should not support Tahir ul Qadri or anyone else. People have ot wake up by themselve and see the true face of alle politicians - including Tahir ul Qadri. We get the leaders we deserve. And we haven't moved in the right direction in the last couple of years. So I expect the worst. Hope we wake up before it's too late. I am very suspicious about Tahir ul Qadri with his hypocritic character in the past.
Ali Jan 13, 2013 03:22pm
At the end of the day he will achieve this: Yet again split the vote bank for PML N, PTI, and other small parties. PPP's vote bank will remain intact. Same will be the case for MQM. They have a good shot at returning to power.