ISLAMABAD: Addressing the opening session of a two-day international conference on the eve of Eid Miladun Nabi on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said some elements having little knowledge about the life and philosophy of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) became self-proclaimed guardians of Islam.
The prime minister also urged the West to avoid blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the name of “freedom of expression” and vowed to launch an international campaign to safeguard the sanctity and respect of all the holy prophets and religions.
“Those people who are unable to understand the philosophy of the life of the Prophet [PBUH] have now become guardians of religion,” the prime minister said in an apparent reference to the recent violent protests by some religious elements against the acquittal of a Christian mother, Aasia Bibi, in a blasphemy case.
West urged not to use freedom of expression as pretext for blasphemy
The prime minister said some people took to the streets and damaged state and private properties whenever anyone committed blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in any part of the world. “When we came to power, some religious elements came on streets, burnt state and private properties and took law in their own hands,” he said, adding that this trend should come to an end as it provided a chance to the West to further criticise the Muslim Ummah.
Those claiming to be “guardians of Islam” did such acts without realising what message they were giving to the youth and children who were connected to the whole world through their mobile phones, he said.
The prime minister urged people to follow the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the path of the blessed ones such as Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Baba Farid. He said people from all religions including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs visited their shrines. “People visit their mausoleums because they were great men who spread Islam and the message of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) across the world,” he maintained.
While vowing to launch an international campaign to safeguard the sanctity and respect of all the prophets and religions, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Pakistan would host an International Convention on Prevention of Defamation of Religions to make different countries its signatories to ensure that no one would defame other’s religions.
The prime minister said he made senior lawyer Ahmer Bilal Sufi, who is an expert on international laws and disputes, his messenger. He would visit different countries and invite their leaders to the convention so that the countries could be facilitated to become its signatory.
“The West should realize that any act of blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), which is made in the name of freedom expression, hurts feelings of over 1.25 billion Muslims in the world,” said PM Khan.
He said the international convention would be made a yearly feature so that not only those in Muslim countries but also the people from the West could actually know about the life and philosophy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He said the European Union also admitted that freedom of expression could not be used as a pretext for blasphemy.
Mr Khan also announced that three major universities in the country would allocate special chair to do research on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his life. “Even the people of the country do not exactly know about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) therefore we want to give awareness to our children about his life and teaching,” he said, adding that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had been given a directive in this regard.
Sharing his own experiences, the prime minister said he did not know much about Islam in his early life, but a religious scholar Mian Bashir brought about a revolution in him during his last days of international cricket. He said he used to be just an ordinary Muslim who would offer Friday and Eid prayers on the insistence of his father until “Mian Bashir gradually removed the hurdles standing in the way of my faith”.
The prime minister said Allah Almighty asked all Muslims to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which was why people should read about and understand his life. “When I started reading about the prophet, it transformed my whole life as [I realised] one should not live for himself but for others. That is the reason I was graced by Allah Almighty and managed to build a cancer hospital and now have become the prime minister of the country,” he added.
Mr Khan said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had earned more respect than the two world super powers of his time — Roman Empire and Persian Empire — through the message of forgiveness, peace and tranquillity. “The Prophet may not have made great financial resources, but Allah instilled the quality of mercy in him,” he added.
The prime minister congratulated the conference’s organisers and highlighted the need to study the life of the Prophet “who changed the world”.
Earlier addressing the international conference, which has brought together scholars from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria, Morocco, and the United Kingdom, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri paid tribute to the services of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) for humanity and shed light on various aspects of his personality.
At the event, certificates and cash awards will be given to 53 authors, whose books or articles were selected after due assessment, in nine categories including Seerat and Naat in Urdu, English, Arabic, and regional languages of Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2018