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Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Asharfi. — File photo
Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Asharfi. — File photo

LAHORE, Dec 2: Ulema of different schools of thought have unanimously agreed on a nine-point code of conduct (COC) to maintain sectarian harmony.

They signed the code after a detailed deliberation at a meeting presided over by Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Atta Maneka here on Monday. The meeting lasted about five hours. “The three sects — Barelvi, Ahl-i-Hadith and Ahl-i-Tasheeh — were represented by Mufti Intikhab Noori, Dr Abdul Ghafoor Rashid and Haidar Ali Mirza, respectively. And I represented the Deoband sect,” Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Asharfi told Dawn.

He said he had presented a 15-point code in the Islamic Ideology Council some time ago and placed the same in the meeting arranged by the Auqaf department. The participants accepted nine of the 15 points, he added.

He said that under the agreed and signed COC, the clerics, scholars and Zakirs would refrain from saying anything derogatory about Khulfa-i-Rashideen (Caliphs). The clerics/scholars from any sect will neither declare anyone Kafir nor term anyone liable to be killed.

There will be a complete ban on use of loudspeakers, except for Azaan and religious sermons in Arabic language. None of the sects shall make hate speeches or remarks, raise slogans or publish hate material in the form of handbills, books, pamphlets, etc, or press releases. They will also desist from wall-chalking directly or indirectly against each other.

All sects will hold joint public gatherings to promote inter-sect harmony, cooperation, unity and love. The clerics/scholars of all sects will give due respect to each other and present their problems at an appropriate forum, instead of reacting emotionally, directly or indirectly. Display of arms will not be allowed.

All sects will be duty bound to protect the rights of non-Muslim minorities and safeguard their places of worship. They will follow and implement the COC in its letter and spirit.

Allama Asharfi said the meeting had agreed to devise a monitoring mechanism to fully enforce the COC. The forum will take action against violation of the code.

He said the participants had also agreed to convert the COC into a proper legislation after involving all stakeholders in the process. A bill in this regard will be tabled in parliament. All sects would be legally bound to follow it.

In reply to a question about taking all religious parties into confidence on the COC, he said the country’s seasoned clerics had already signed a similar code a few years ago and the Pakistan Ulema Council, in collaboration with the Auqaf department, finalised arrangements to hold a national conference of clerics of all sects and leaders of religious parties on Dec 11 in Lahore. “Besides, we will also hold a press conference on the issue at the Lahore Press Club on Dec 4 (tomorrow).”

Comments (21) Closed

Immad Dec 03, 2013 08:43am

If all the sects adopt the message of great Sufi saints, i.e., love, peace, tolerance and coexistence, the hatred and conflicts will be forgotten forever.

deepak Dec 03, 2013 08:46am

great if it works out !!!

Mohammad Ali Khan Dec 03, 2013 08:56am

Alhamdulillah.Keep up the good work.There is still room for improvement.

Iqbal khan Dec 03, 2013 09:01am

All ulemas need to do leave this country alone and everything will be alright.

mazharuddin Dec 03, 2013 09:32am

These code of conduct seem non islamic, violation of human right is not the part of Islam. Such statement that based on truth and has evidence to prove that can not be named as hateful as it would mean to deny truth.

There also need to see use of loudspeakers in residential areas that having powerful speakers, disturb living. Azaan in residential areas should be without loudspeakers as was being done since prophet period, that seems pleasant and attractive but loudspeaker Azaan is unnatural, loudspeakers should be used for sermons in mosques for Juma prayers only. There should not have ban for sermons in URDU for Juma prayers. This is the responsibility of Imam to guide Muslim followers believing in Hanafi doctrine,

Those are not civilized humans and nor Islamic scholars who deny truth and deny basic rights of citizens.

@H__3 Dec 03, 2013 09:47am

What about the hate speech spread thru social media?

Naveed Khan Dec 03, 2013 09:57am

I congratulate Ulema. I never understood the reason for discord and dissension among different sects when core principals and values are the same. I encourage people to join the efforts of these Ulemma and lend them their support. Pakistan people have everything in common and they must provide protection and dignity to non-Muslims. Any faith is judged by the dignity it gives to its minorities.

vigilant Dec 03, 2013 09:58am

Good move from religious leaders. If COC can converted into law and enforced and monitored by Auqaf and religious ministry, it could be big achievement. Government must develop enforcement division within Auqaf or religious ministry to check extremists elements within society.

a pakistani Dec 03, 2013 10:45am

any step to end this silly war among the different sects is welcome

Ash Dec 03, 2013 11:19am

Good news after long time!!

javed Dec 03, 2013 11:40am

This is an excellent work, by the Ulema lead by Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Asharfi , to ensure religious and sectarian harmony in our dear country. This endeavor shows the wisdom and commitment of these religious leaders towards ensuring a stable and peaceful Pakistan. This also shows their love for Islam, for the country and its people. I solute you all for your great effort. May Allah bless you all for your noble contribution towards promoting peace in Pakistan. Other religious leaders should learn from this initiative and join the effort of creating peace and harmony in the country.

Aftab Kenneth Wilson Dec 03, 2013 12:50pm

Main problem is '' Different School Of Thought ''. They are all funded from abroad (no need to name those countries all know them). Stop their funding both from within the country and abroad and then see the result. Simply bring their institutions under direct control of the government. People know that they will agree to 9 point agenda but in reality it will be other way around. Hatred is very deeply injected in these parties against each others. Government should not fall in their trap. In the end it will only be Noora Kushti. Confine them only to perform marriages and death. More than 90% in our country are Muslims and all love their religion with whole heart and soul.

Salahuddin Dec 03, 2013 01:17pm

shukar Alhamdulillah

Ammar Dec 03, 2013 02:02pm

It is a step towards the right direction but what happens if someone does not abide by this code? Does the government have the power and more importantly the will to actually punish people who disregard this code?

The religious leaders can certainly play an important role here but so far they have done little about it. Banning hate speeches is certainly important but equally important is to spread social and sectarian harmony. I don't recall if I ever heard a Juma khutba where the speaker talked about how to be become a better human and contributor to society, importance of being honest, duties towards other people, abstaining from paying and taking bribes, attitude towards women

M. SaleemRaikodi Dec 03, 2013 02:15pm

The best way to win the hearts and minds of one another is to make Salaath al Juma in exchange. i.e One Juma in Shia's Masjid and the other in Sunni Masjid. All of them pray to One Allah but in Massajid divided by people of one faith

Roxana R Dec 03, 2013 02:20pm

Finally, some voices of reason and some actual steps taken. Bravo!

Aziz Dec 03, 2013 02:36pm

Muslims the world over should endorse and support this move in their millions. However, there will be lots of resistance from diehard bigots and enemies of humanity. We must all remain vigilant.

With peace amongst them Muslims and their well-wishers should be able to play constructive roles and contribute positively towards the betterment of mankind.

Abbas Dec 03, 2013 07:15pm

To disagree on public policy is fair but to indulge in personal attacks is neither fair nor productive. This recent effort to bring about decency in religious discourse should be applauded and supported by all those who understand the responsibility as well as the benefits of living in this ever shrinking global village.The Shias should mind their language and the Sunnis their intentions. A step in the right direction. Good luck, Pakistan

Ammar Dec 03, 2013 10:03pm

@Aftab Kenneth Wilson:

The schools of thought is not a new concept. We have to admit there are differences in the way people interpret Islam, its philosophy, its teachings and even the Islamic history. This has been going on for centuries and attributing these divisions to any foreign country is ridiculous. We can attribute the current spate of violence to foreign funded extremists but not the actual sectarian divide.

Unlike the countries in Middle East (including Iran), where the interpretation of the state is imposed upon all people, we are lucky that historically in our country there was no compulsion on this issue. We don't have to give up our beliefs, we just need to learn to live peacefully.

If we use the argument of "unity between Muslims" then what about non-Muslims. Don't they have a right to live? Religion, no matter which sect, was supposed to be a source of piety, morality and righteousness but unfortunately for most people it brings out the worst in them.

NS Dec 04, 2013 10:30pm

@vigilant: Yes, enforcement is most important, as the article says that a similar code of conduct was signed a few years back, then what happened? Strict enforcement by police, courts of law is necessary to stop the cycle of violence.

AZEEM HASSAN Dec 05, 2013 08:36pm

Funny, without removing the reasons of sectarianism, can a sensible man perceive peace in the society?