He also stopped short of terming the Tehreek-i-Taliban’s (TTP) fight against the state as an attempt to “spread anarchy”, saying that trying to force one’s wishes on the masses could not be classified as jihad. Hailing from the Jamiat Ulemae Islam-F (JUIF), Maulana Sheerani is also a Member of the National Assembly (MNA).
Speaking to the journalists after a three-day CII meeting, he also talked about the proposal to teach the Holy Quran in schools. He said that it was essential to teach students ethics and social norms, as envisaged in the Holy Quran. He said that United States wanted to ‘rent manpower’ for Afghan war and stopped short of calling Taliban ‘anarchists.’
But when asked about the exclusion of verses related to jihad in the syllabus, he said that the emphasis on such verses was a recent phenomenon, claiming that these were included in the course because the US needed ‘rented manpower’. “Look at older books, even in the seminaries, they used to promote ethics, social sciences and stories related to cultural norms and Islamic traditions,” he said.
On a question related to the actions of militant groups including the TTP, Maulana Sheerani recited a Quranic verse that translates to, “There is no compulsion in religion”. While he did not explicitly term the TTP ‘terrorists’, he said that individuals had the right to choose whatever path they liked, explaining, “Almighty Allah has given individuals enough sense to understand the consequences of what they do.”
JUIF chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman and several other party leaders, including Maulana Sheerani himself, have faced militant action including suicide attacks, which were later claimed by the TTP. Explaining the concept of jihad, he said that there were two aspects to it. One was related to faith and ideology and another to the material side. “But both aspects were contingent of the concept of protection,” he said.
“If I want to protect my faith, waging a jihad would entail fighting evil by not following that path,” he said, adding that the material side of jihad involved hard work. “[Just like one can] fight poverty by working hard and not through snatching others’ money or land,” the CII chairman said, adding, “But if somebody tries to implement their wishes by force and pressure, that is not jihad, but fasad (anarchy), which is not right”.
When asked about the verses dealing with jihad, he said that the Holy Quran and Islam provided a complete code of life and could not be understood in bits and pieces. “The verses regarding jihad were mostly revealed in Madina, and after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had established the first Islamic state,” Maulana Sheerani said, adding, “These were to guide Muslims regarding the protection of their state from invaders, not to [advocate] spreading anarchy elsewhere. We must remember that the Islamic state of Madina was founded without violence.”