All Pakistan Ulema Council
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The All Pakistan Ulema Council is a Muslim organization in Pakistan, founded with the intention of reducing sectarian and interfaith violence, whose members include Islamic clerics and legal scholars from a range of Islamic traditions. Its head is Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi.
Protecting religious minorities and dissenters
In August 2012, the Council joined hands with the Pakistan Interfaith League, which includes Christians, Sikhs and other religions, and Tahir Ashrafi denounced the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law. The unprecedented move came after a young Christian girl thought to have Down's syndrome was charged with desecrating the Qur'an and held in prison.
The council also issued fatwas prohibiting honor killings, takfeer (the act of declaring someone a non-Muslim), and joining ISIS. The first of these three prohibitions against honor killings is especially pertinent, as a 2011 Pew research report found that "Four-in-Ten Pakistanis say honor killing of women can be at least sometimes justified."
Approving suicide attacks
In March 2013, the head of the council announced that suicide attacks are permitted in Afghanistan so long as US forces remain in the country. Tahir Ashrafi told TOLOnews,"Palestine is occupied by Israel, Kashmir by India, and Afghanistan by the US. So if the Muslims don't have the atomic bomb, they should sacrifice their lives for God."
Lisa Lundquist of The Long War Journal notes, "Significantly, Ashrafi's rhetoric on suicide attacks is identical to that of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. In January 2009, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan released a propaganda tape in which a jihadist said that "suicide bombers are the atomic weapons of Muslims."
In the tape, a teenage suicide bomber named Masood, who was involved with a May 2008 double suicide bombing in Lahore, stated: 'Suicide bombers are the atomic weapons of Muslims because Muslims do not have the latest weapons to fight enemies who are committing atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.'"
Tahir Ashrafi later told Pajhwok Afghan News that he was quoted out of context and had “never supported suicide attacks that cause civilian casualties in Afghanistan,” explaining that the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Omar had also banned such bombings.
- Saeed Shah - Pakistani Muslim leaders support Christian girl accused of blasphemy - The Guardian, August 27, 2012
- Baba Umar (1 June 2014). "Pakistan clerics issue stoning death decree". Aljazeera News Organisation website. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- No Islamic sect to be declared 'kaafir': Ulema Council Dunya TV News website, Published 5 June 2014, Retrieved 15 October 2019
- "Pakistan ulema council condemns IS militants". Dawn (newspaper). 17 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- Abdul Haq Omari - Pakistan Ulema Permits Suicide Attacks - TOLOnews, March 2, 2013
- Lisa Lundquist - Pakistani clerics endorse suicide bombings, reject proposed peace conference - The Long War Journal, March 2, 2013
- Ashrafi takes U-turn on Afghan suicide attacks - Afghanistan Times, March 3, 2013