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.
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.
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.