ISLAMABAD: Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), said that he intended to take up three “most controversial religious issues”, but lacked the necessary support from council members.
“We have had these items on our agenda for a long time now, but they will only be taken up if my colleagues are ready to cooperate,” Maulana Sherani, who is also a JUI-F MNA, told reporters at the end of the two-day council meeting.
The first of these issues is the question of whether Ahmadis are to be classified as non-Muslims or murtads (those who renounce Islam). It is a widely held belief that the punishment for renouncing Islam should be death.
The second issue, he said, was the imposition of religious tax – or jizya – on Pakistani non-Muslims. The third issue, he said, was a determination of which sects fell under the ambit of Islam and which ones should be considered to be outside the ambit of Islamic ideology.
Council sets yardstick for transgender individuals to be given share in inheritance
“It is up to the members to come up and discuss these important matters and resolve them,” he said, expressing the confidence that the CII would take up these topics in its next meeting.
While these matters have been on the CII’s agenda for some time, some of the more vocal members have been reluctant to take them up for discussion as they may hurt the social fabric.
“We do not want to see riots in the country as we see in India over non-issues like the ban on beef. It is the responsibility of the religious and political leadership to set directions for society and to not be pressured into going with the flow,” said a CII member, on condition of anonymity.
The cleric was reluctant to speak on the record, because “the other problem we are combating is extremism. If I give a statement to the media, I can be accused of being somebody’s agent.”
However, analysts feel that by taking up such non-issues, the CII is stooping beneath its stature.
“They have already displayed such irrationality that nobody takes them seriously anymore,” senior journalist Zahid Hussain told Dawn.
He cited the examples of several other rulings by the council, which included the contention that the marriage age for girls could be as low as 13, as well as the pronouncement that DNA evidence was not admissible as evidence in rape cases. “Besides, their rulings are not legally binding,” he added.
But even Mr Hussain acknowledged that by virtue of their stature, senior clerics on the CII did hold sway among the masses and could easily “spark a disturbance by speaking unnecessarily on such issues”.
On Tuesday, the CII also ruled that transgender individuals have the right of inheritance and that their share in the family’s property should be determined by the gender they are closest to.
“If a [transgender] person is closer [in their appearance] to a woman, then the share in property applicable to women will apply for that person. If a [transgender] person is closer [in their appearance] to a man, then the share given to him should be equivalent to that given to men in the family,” Maulana Sherani said.
Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2015