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ISLAMABAD, April 27 In an unprecedented move, top leaders of the Tableeghi Jamaat have denounced enforcement of Sharia at gunpoint, religious extremism, militancy and terrorism.

Leaders of the Jamaat, who scrupulously avoid speaking on controversial issues, also called for promoting inter-faith harmony, tolerance, human rights, social justice and peace.

They were speaking at the conclusion of a three-day congregation near here on Monday.

“Shariah cannot be enforced at gunpoint,” declared Haji Abdul Wahab, Amir of the Tableeghi Jamaat, Pakistan.

Had that been the case, Allah Almighty would have sent fierce angels to protect prophets and enforce their faiths, he said.

The 90-year-old scholar, who left his job as sessions judge in pre-partition India and joined the Jamaat, cited the example of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), said the Holy Prophet never used force. Instead he spread the word of God only by peaceful means.

Haji Abdul Wahab also condemned extremism and militancy in the name of Islam, aparantly a reference to the growing trend of Talibanisation and enforcement of Shria in Swat and other areas in the NWFP.

The congregation of tens of thousands of people, was also addressed by Maulana Jamshaid, Maulana Mohammad Ahmed and Mualana Fahim.

“Muslims should preach peace, brotherhood and tolerance across the world, including Israel. They must avoid imposing their creed or faith by force because Islam is a religion of peace and promotes tranquillity,” another scholar told the mammoth gathering.

Maulana Mohammed Ahmed, a former educationist, said that Muslims should inspire adherents of other religions by their good moral and social behaviour. People who thought that Shariah could be imposed by force were simpletons, he said.

“We should reach out to all human beings and guide them out of darkness. Before the advent of Islam, people were so inflexible that they used to bury their daughters without remorse. (But they changed.) Remember ...human beings are above other creations of God,” said Maulana Ahmed, the custodian of the largest seminary of the Tableeghi school of thought in Raiwind near Lahore.

The main message of the gathering was that Islam could not be confined to Pakistan or any other geographical area and there was a need to spread the religion of peace in every corner of the world.

People from across the country who had converged there pledged that they would continue the mission of spreading Islam across the world.