Chairing the last session as the head of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Thursday, Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani decried the proposal to rename the Quaid-i-Azam University's (QAU) physics centre after Professor Abdus Salam.
The council discussed the proposal after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif forwarded a summary to President Mamnoon Hussain of his approval to rename the National Centre for Physics at QAU the “Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics”.
Addressing a press conference after the council's meeting, the CII chairman said changing the department's name would not set the right precedent.
“We have concerns over the change of its [physics centre's] name as it was earlier named to honour Dr Riaz,” said Sherani, but declined to offer any reason for the opposition.
He was also asked if the CII had objections over renaming of other institutions or roads but Sherani declined to offer any comment over the subject.
Nuclear physicist and Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate Professor Abdus Salam hailed from the country’s Ahmedi community.
Pakistan declared Ahmedis non-Muslims in 1974. In 1984, they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. They are banned from preaching and even from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. Their publications are prohibited.
In May 2010, suicide bombers killed 80 people at two Ahmedi places of worship.
'Sindh bill against forced conversions un-Islamic'
The council also discussed the minorities bill recently passed in Sindh, which criminalises forced conversions and bars conversion of minors.
Sherani said the law is "illegal, unconstitutional and un-Islamic". The council further declared that the legislation was against basic human rights.
“The law was not correct and it was not fair either,” Sherani said. “If anyone is forced to convert from his or her religion, then that is unfair, even if the person who has converted is a hundred years old.”
He added that the country's constitution allowed every person to adopt Islam as per their own will.
“Anybody who is sane and has decision making power has to be allowed to adopt Islam, but limiting this choice to the minimum age of 18 years is not correct,” he added.
“This law is against the spirit of Islam too and we will write to all concerned including Governor Sindh against this law,” he said.
The meeting also opposed any proposed amendment in the blasphemy law.
Sherani said the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights had called to discuss the blasphemy law but that "disturbing the existing laws" wouldn't be right.
“Parliamentarians should instead focus on making the remaining laws Sharia compliant,” he added.
Sherani, who is also an MNA from the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), is set to retire from the chairmanship of the CII on December 16, 2016 after completing two terms of three years each.