Sherani, a quack, nominated as head of experts?

Published: June 22, 2010
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There is a council of Islamic ideology in Pakistan that advises the government and legislative bodies on laws that are repugnant to Islam. Maulana Sherani, a rural maulvi from Baluchistan, without any academic credentials, has been appointed the chairman of the council replacing Dr Khalid Masud, a PhD from Mcgill University.

Insani Huqooq Ittehad (Human rights alliance), a body consisting of 30 NGOs demanded that the decision to appoint Maulana Sherani must be repealed because it contravenes the criterion laid out for such an appointment.

But the nomination of Sherani to please JUI(F), a belligerent ally, raises concerns. It is reminiscent of when Prime Minister ZA Bhutto strengthened his government by declaring Ahmedis as non-Muslims and delivered Pakistan to the fundamentalists.

Islamic Ideology Council was instituted by the 1962 constitution. It has been presided by academics and ex-judges of superior courts. Human rights organizations view the appointment of an unenlightened maulvi without proper education as a reversal to the dark days of extreme Islamism under Zia-ul-Haq. As it is, the presidency of the organization by a PhD could not be treated as a guarantee against orthodoxy and religious extremism. Standing aloof from matters of religion, educated Pakistanis witnessed the rise of fanaticism and bigotry.

Maulana Sherani had, in the past, criticized the passage of a bill on harassment of women and walked out of the senate. The fight to purge the constitution of Pakistan from discrimination against women and minorities is still in its initial stage. The council’s recommendations on a woman’s right to divorce were sharply criticized by traditionalists as well. In 2007, the council recommended modification of hudood laws allowing exemption for victims of rape from the charge of adultery.

Recommendations of the council from earlier years include one that suggests erasure of human image from the rupee bills. From prohibiting a woman from marrying without approval of a male sponsor (wali) and banning women from appearing in ads or songs to banning co-education, the council of Islamic Ideology, the Federal Shariat Court and the ministry of religious affairs have all provided enough material to keep Pakistanis embroiled in futile controversies and have played their role in perpetuating ignorance.

Khaled Ahmed, in his column published in the Friday Times (January 11 to 17, 2002) wrote, “Most people think that extremism comes out of a misinterpretation of Islam. This is wrong. Extremism and violence occur when people do not accept what the Islamists regard as the irreducible crux of Islam in the shape of shariah.” Chopping hands and heads to prohibiting music, dance, insurance and banking, are all held as the righteous way of sharia.

Instead of a council for rational investigation and inquiry, Pakistanis are stuck with the Council for Islamic ideology and the Shariat court. Concern of human rights activists on Maulana Sherani’s headship of the council must be appreciated and shared by law-abiding, conscientious citizens.

This article was posted here.

Malik Rashid

Malik Rashid

A Pakistani-Canadian writer who blogs consistently on political and social issues. He was actively involved in youth-politics in the early 70s.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.