Maulana Abdul Aziz. — AFP file photo
Maulana Abdul Aziz. — AFP file photo

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Abdul Aziz on Friday dodged the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration and was able to deliver a sermon at Lal Masjid.

Maulana Abdul Aziz lambasted all state institutions and said the judiciary was corrupt because it was the remnant of British colonialism as was democracy.

“Democracy is un-Islamic. I am ready to challenge any cleric who claims the democratic system is allowed under Islam,” he said.

Challenges clerics to prove democracy is allowed under Islam

He criticised the incumbent rulers, said Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari were corrupt and without naming him, hit at Maulana Fazlur Rehman for bringing out a million march for the implementation of Sharia in the country, only when he is out of the game.

“Why is it that he [is doing so now] and opposed us earlier,” Maulana Aziz asked, adding that “things are getting closer and there will be a change in the system soon”.

Maulana Aziz made a sudden decision on Thursday evening that he will lead Friday prayers in Lal Masjid when the ICT administration, police and other law enforcement agencies were busy preparing for the March 23 parade. He had also planned to lay the foundation of Jamia Hafsa, a seminary for girls and women, which was deferred till next week.

He said Jamia Hafsa should be built on the plot adjacent to Lal Masjid, which used to be a children’s library and was occupied by female students of the Jamia Hafsa before the 2007 military operation. The Jamia Hafsa building and the library were demolished by the government following the operation in 2007 against Lal Masjid.

The move also caught police and Rangers posted outside Lal Masjid by surprise. There are usually two Rangers’ vehicles posted outside the mosque on Fridays but there was only one on this day due to heavy engagement.

The official prayer leader of Lal Masjid, Amir Siddique, was sidelined and he did not even show up at the mosque at prayer time.

Maulana Aziz made a fiery speech in the sermon and said he will not lead the Friday prayers as the ICT administration had stopped him from doing so. Therefore Haroon Rashid, son of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in the 2007 military operation, led the prayers.

Meanwhile, an ICT administration official told Dawn that Maulana Abdul Aziz tried to dodge the system but he will not be allowed to enter Lal Masjid next week.

“We have already sealed Jamia Hafsa H-11 and nobody should underestimate the power of the state,” the official said.Maulana Aziz had tried the same in May last year during the interim government, but the attempt failed. He tried to regain the post of khateeb of the mosque in Nov 2018 as well.

Maulana was removed from the post on the orders of the court in 2004 following a fatwa he issued against the army and the operation against terrorists in Waziristan.

However, he was reinstated after his release from prison in 2009, but he stirred another controversy in 2014 after he openly extended support to the perpetrators of the Army Public School attack in Peshawar by calling it a reactionary move by the terrorists.

His several attempts to get hold of a microphone in Lal Masjid was foiled by the government in 2017 as well.

Lal Masjid is a state-owned mosque and Maulana Abdullah, father of Maulana Abdul Aziz, was its first khateeb. After his assassination in the 1990s, Maulana Abdul Aziz was appointed the khateeb by the ICT’s Auqaf Department.

He is already over the age of 60 years and has retired as a govt employee, the ICT official said, adding that Amir Siddique has succeeded him.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2019