ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) turned violent when a scuffle broke out between member Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, DawnNews reported on Tuesday.
Sources at the meeting said participants were discussing the status of Ahmadis under the Constitution when Ashrafi, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, and Sherani entered into an argument that later turned personal.
In a press conference later, Ashrafi said Sherani grabbed him by the collar and tore it. “He tore my collar with his own hands, ” said Ashrafi. But according to an eye witness, Ashrafi had first lunged at Sherani to grab his collar.
According to Ashrafi, council members – including himself – were opposed to the idea of debating the status of Ahmadis because there already existed a consensus on the issue.
“He [Maulana Sherani] wants to make the law on Ahmadis controversial, and push the country towards violence.”
Participants in the meeting intervened to defuse the situation and broke up the physical altercation.
However, Maulana Sherani, talking to reporters said, “Ahmadis are non-Muslims under the Constitution and there is a unanimous fatwa on that.” He said the council had no intention of declaring Ahmadis Muslim.
Sherani said the matter was taken up by the council because the Ahmadi issue has been a bone of contention in society, with new fatwas on the matter appearing every other day.
The CII is a constitutional body that advises the legislature whether or not a certain law is repugnant to Islam, in particular to the Quran and Sunna.
Maulana Sherani, who is also member of the National Assembly on a JUI-F ticket, had earlier this year said he intended to take up three “most controversial religious issues,” but lacked the necessary support from council members, according to an earlier report in Dawn. The first of these issues, he said, is the question of whether Ahmadis are to be classified as non-Muslims or murtads (those who renounce Islam).
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.
But 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 had earlier told Dawn.
The CII has often faced criticism for its recommendations on women's issues.