Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi
Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi

ISLAMABAD: Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi was appointed as special representative to the prime minister on religious harmony.

A notification issued by the PM Secretariat said: “The prime minister has been pleased to appoint Maulana Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi as Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony, with immediate effect. The appointment of Maulana Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi shall be in honorary capacity.”

Maulana Ashrafi, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) and president of Muttahida Ulema Board, is known for speaking out against social injustice and advocating for ending discord based on faith in the country.

The Muttahida Ulema Board is the only religious institution of the country to issue guidelines declaring administration of polio drops “not” against the teachings of Islam whereas the PUC has been at the forefront in supporting the national narrative and referencing reasoning from religious texts over several ideologically conflicting topics.

Both institutions were the first to call Daesh a “terror outfit” and termed suicide bombing and killing in the name of honour haraam, and have spoken out against the disregard for legal procedure and use of violence in cases against those accused of blasphemy.

Talking to Dawn, Maulana Ashrafi said extremist thought based on any ideology with regard to religion or nationalism only leads to self-destruction of that society.

“Pakistan has been suffering from religious extremism, and that was one of the areas where several foreign hands too were involved ... we need interfaith and inter-sect harmony,” he said.

Maulana Ashrafi has also supported the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad and was among the first religious scholars to call for resolving sectarian tensions in the month of Muharram.

He was a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology from 2012 till 2015 and an honorary adviser to the home department of the Punjab government over religious and sectarian harmony from 2000 to 2007.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2020